Monday, August 30, 2004

OR NOT: Maybe I'll just take the night off. And just post a few random things:

--This Israeli spy thing is still at the point where it can't be parsed down into a sentence or so yet. A lot of it seems to rely on the statements of shadowy underworld types. I dunno. It's something I'm going to have to rely on other people to explain it to me, I think, which I know was the conservative defense as to why they dismissed the Plame thing ("It's too complicated!") but this really is complicated.

--The other big winner from the Olympics? Allen Iverson. The guy did everything right, and since I think a lot of the hate on Team USA '04 is from people who just can't stomach Allen Iverson, well they especially can jump up my butt. Where Duncan was being whiny and complaining about FIBA, AI was the one talking about how he was just happy to be there.

And I'm starting to be swayed by the "Larry Brown is actually a charlatan" arguments. Nothing in particular, just people talking about how he was, from the very start, distancing himself from the inevitable Team USA loss.

--Boy--those Republicans sure do hate Michael Moore. This must be all part of the "risky" Rove strategy of casting off the undecideds and appealing only to the base. I guess he must have it all worked out in terms of Republican governors and swing states and everything.

All right--just some babbling on topics I barely understand.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

OLYMPICS WRAPUP POST DAY #18: Capsules. Maybe I'm just a sucker for a giant highlight package, but I was emotionally effected by NBC's coverage of the closing ceremonies and especially the little "Best of" clipfests they ran. Probably because I knew what was going on in most of the clips, and I had this sense of this vast drama coming to an end, which is exactly what was happening. Sport is art, to put it Britishly.

Handball, Women's: The Danes and the Koreans were tied after two extra periods, so we went to the shoot out! Which works like a soccer shoot out: 5 open shots on the goal. The Danish goalie came out far from her net and stopped a few. The Korean stayed back and was completely porous and the Danes won.

Handball, Men's: Croatia beat Germany for the gold in a game I think I slept through. Handball--it's EUROTASTIC! So while people can speculate about how good we Americans would be in handball if we bothered to play it, it's still too European in some inexplicable way (because it's indoors and we don't need a lot of indoor sports? because they don't wear pads? Something.) and besides we play a jillion other sports to begin with. Arena football has tapped the potential professional handball niche.

Water Polo, Men's: Hungary beat Serbia in a contest I had no rooting interest in.

Wrestling, Men's: I don't think this was on tv, and I'm sorry it wasn't:

Daniel Cormier went down without a fight this time, and without an Olympic wrestling medal.

Cormier, America's last medal hope in freestyle, couldn't hold a 2-0 overtime lead Sunday and lost the bronze 3-2 to Iran's Ali Reza Heidari in the 211{-pound (96-kg) class.

Heidari's dominance of Cormier was similar to that of last year's world championships, a match that turned ugly when Cormier became enraged at Heidari's on-mat victory celebration and shoved him in the back. After the latest loss, Cormier was left to lash out only at himself.

Maybe it's on something I haven't watched or forgot to tape. Anyway--no freestyle gold for the US of A.

Rhythmic Gymnastics: "Four years after watching her medal hopes end when she lost control of her hoop, two-time world champion Alina Kabaeva from Russia won the rhythmic gymnastics all-around in a rout." And there you are.

Taekwondo: I saw Moon Dae-sung knowck out Alexandros Nikolaidis with a kick to the head that left the stronly pro-Hellas crowd stunned.'s strange to watch. Most of the time the big kicks don't connect, and you're left with one person holding a slim lead and running around the ring hoping for the time to run out. But then the big kicks do happen sometimes and it's spectacular. The rest of the time is this "Who's going to strike first?" dance that you have to be Pat Croce to appreciate.

Boxing: Andre Ward saved us from total embarassment by getting gold.

Marathon, Men's: Brazilian Vanderlei de Lima (and why he has two names I don't know) was in the lead until he got tackled by a defrocked priest. He managed to pull out a bronze, which was a fabulous acheivement. Meb Keflezighi is now the world's most famous Eritrean-American for taking silver. Italian Stefano Baldini was golden.

Hey--that's about it. The closing ceremony was great--nothing beats watching a Chinese communist party hack wave the Olympic banner for all he's worth, after getting the flag from a stauesque Greek lady in inflated pink pants--and I for one love the symbolism of the multiple nations on the way in, one nation on the way out thing. Graecopop stars mixed with traditional Chinese dancers and it was good. I am full of good will for the noble intentions of the Olympics.

Big stories at the Olympics, thrown up here so I can actually go back to this in 2008 and not be like "Hey--was he/she in Athens?":

Michael Phelps: Golden boy did his job and won eight medals. Thank golly swimming only lasts a week, though.

Hicham El Guerrouj: The master of the mile finally became a big Olympic star, winning the 1,500 and the 5,000. The big star of week two, and would've been the Phelps-like big inescapable star if he was American.

Paul Hamm: Overcame incredible odds just to get into medal range after he fell. Yes, the judges goofed, but that's just part of sports. How many NFL or NBA games are decided on one botched call? Quite a few.

Rulon Gardner: Big winner in taking bronze, due to his humility and his dramatic retirement.

Deena Kastor: Another big winner in taking bronze, though in her case due to coming out of nowhere to win the marathon. This is for my 2008 self: Mizuki Noguchi won gold.

The South African Men's Swimming 4 by 100 Relay Team: For smoking the Australians and the US.

Women's Beach Volleyball: The vulgarly glorious main attraction of the first week of the games.

America's Female Teams: Softball, basketball and soccer gold medals for the women--the soccer being the most impressive. I really wonder if we and China put together world-class teams for 2008, more them than us, because we'll have Wambach then. And if I'm a USA indoor volleyball player, in light of this item and the previous one, I'm wondering what happened to my prestige. Indoor volleyball is in danger of becoming water polo/field hockey obscure to Americans.

Carly Patterson: She won't become a Mary Lou Retton-like legend because she didn't beat the bad old Soviets, or even a Kerri Strug for flying with a busted wing, but somehow performing well when the stakes are low is even more impressive. In some way.

Team China: Made the statement they wanted for 2008, coming in with 32 golds to our 35. Can't we add skateboarding to 2008, so we have some more sports that we're really good at? Either that or we really need to start pushing table tennis around here.

Team Japan: Totally crushed the Bernard-Busse predictions. Judo, women's wrestling, swimming, the gymnastics all-around--one gets the feeling they're getting set for Beijing too.

Team India: Managed a silver in a shooting event. They are apparently not ready for Beijing. But they are sort of inching their way into things, what with Anju Bobby George and with the women's 4x400 team actually making the final.

Kosuke Kitajima & Aaron Peirsol: Yes, Olympic swimming's greatest hate-hate relationship. Only four more years until we hear about ILLEGAL DOLPHIN KICKS! again.

Team Argentina: As Costas pointed out, double golds in the world's two most popular sports, soccer and basketball.

Team Australia: I know there's more valid ways to look at it, but, for me, Australia proved itself to be greatest sporting nation on Earth, in summer games at least. I love how they're competitive in just about every team sport.

Handball, Badminton, Table Tennis: Stories because NBC decided to give them gobs and gobs of coverage. Thank you, NBC

Greece: Oh--and, of course--GREECE! They pulled off a flawless Olympics when I know I thought they couldn't. Excellent job. The opening ceremonies were untoppable.

There's more but I can feel myself reaching for things now--a good time to stop. Next time: medal-based Olympics stat dorkery, if I feel like totally exposing myself to ridicule.
OLYMPICS WRAPUP POST DAY #17: Capsules. I apologize for the crappy post yesterday.

Basketball, Women's: But at least I got to watch this. Lauren Jackson and the basketroos fall to Dawn Staley, Best Face of America, and the rest of them who actually make a commitment to USA basketball and come back for the Olympics and (I think) the major international tournaments. Maybe all the men's team lacks is continuity, because this is an all-star team like the men's team, but they get the job done.

Basketball, Men's: I shouldn't be too hard on the men because they did get the bronze medal job done, and so--since we have gotten bronzes in the past but we've always medalled--they avoid total embarassment.

As as aside: hey, there's a whole lot of Asian cast members on the new NBC show set on the....only.....Asian majority.....state. Yep! Once again, NBC has totally underwhelmed with their attempts to get me to keep watching their stations when the Olympics are done. We have a cop show set in Hawaii, a LAX drama with Heather Locklear (HA!) and Blair Underwood (double HA!) and a Friends spin-off. Meanwhile Bravo has a reality tv show about Miami plastic surgeons and their hideous girlfriends that they keep augmenting. It sounds train-wreck watchable--maybe--but if I have to listen to that girl complain about her boobs being too big one more time....well, I won't have to, 'cause Bravo's done Olympics-wise.

Anyway: We dispatched Lithuania in a workmanlike manner. Argentina dispatched Italy in a workmanlike manner. We should've played them for the gold and gotten trounced in that game instead of the semis, but--whatever. Everybody who took pleasure in rooting against this team can jump up my butt. Hate the NBA if you want to, but these are your people playing out here.

Track & Field: There was a lot of this. We won some relays. The Britons won one. Hicham El Guerrouj continued to be the big story as he took the 5,000 to add to his 1,500. That one Greek relay girl with the thin thin eyebrows--mighty fine. You know the one. And the Russian with the pierced belly button. And Monique Henderson--holy cats. Let's stop here.

Oh, and Team India made the final for the 1,600 relay. They didn't medal, but that's a great result for the world's secondest nation and first crappiest sporting nation. But they can take heart in this result. We're right on schedule for Bombay 2032.

Soccer, Men's: For such a dominant world soccer power, this was Argentina's first gold for soccer and their first gold of any kind in 50 years? It's all right, though, their anthem is like twenty minutes long--if they won too much the entire Olympics would be dragged out for like....twenty minutes. Is that right? Dragged out? I have no idea. U-S-A!

Wrestling: Cael Sanderson took the gold, beating a Korean in a good, competitive match.

Taekwondo: Steven Lopez took gold in a match I am waiting to see right now.

Handball: Women's bronze: Ukraine, continuing their great medal haul this year. Men's bronze: Russia. If you wake up/are awake at 3:45 this morning, you will see live gold medal handball on CNBC. I'll be there. I mean--I'll be watching.

Diving, Men's: The Chinese went gold-silver. SHOCKER SHOCKER SHOCKER shocker.

I think that's it for now. I love the Olympics--but they are wearing me down. Only one day left in what has been overall really good coverage from NBC. Putting on nonstop coverage for two straight weeks is a nice way of making the Olympics special. And there's been so much less jingoism this time. It's still American athletes we're covering, but that's what everybody does. And the Inspiring Stories were restricted to primetime and even then they didn't take away too much. In fact, I think the gymnasts took most of the personal stories away--I don't think there've been very many at all for the track people. Hey, way it should be.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

OLYMPICS WRAPUP POST DAY #16: Capsules. But not much tonight, I want to wake up in time to watch the USA vs. Australia for the gold medal.

Basketball, Men's: Because the men's team isn't playing for the gold after losing to Argentina on Friday. If you bought a Lebron James USA basketball jersey, I blame you.

Track & Field: We botch the handoff on the 400-meter relay and were dq'ed. Jamaica took gold. Russians swept the long jump. We have a guy who wears a helmet when he pole vaults and whom the announcers call "Crash" who got the silver behind another American.

Wrestling & Taekwondo: I'm still going through my tape.

Hell--this post is pathetic tonight. I just want to get up early enough to watch basketball, and I don't think that's too much to ask. So--good night.

Friday, August 27, 2004

OLYMPICS WRAPUP POST DAY #15: Capsules. I was going to go through all the wrestling and taekwondo I taped before I wrote this, but then I'd be up all night. So you will get incomplete Olympics coverage. LEARN 2 LUV it.

Basketball, Men's: Marbury had 31 and we beat Spain handily? Gollee. I guess Stephon was reading the papers.

Soccer, Women's: The other American team I've been down on pulled off the gold medal victory on a game that sounded like it was hugely physical (I had it on in the background at work.) Big bad Abby Wambach got the go-ahead, so maybe we are in good hands for 2007 and 2008. I hate those little pony-tailed North Carolina girls, though.

Diving: China won gold. SHOCKER! I think I'm repeating myself, but still.

-Athalons: Two New Zealanders won gold and silver in triathlon. The horse-riding part proved the deal breaker in pentathlon.

Wrestling: They showed clips of Egyptian wrestler Armen Nazarian actually cheating to win in a preliminary match over a Japanese guy--he grabbed the guy's bum behind the refs back--which apparently is some kind of illegal advantage and hence a no-no. Luckily he was defeated by a virtuous Korean and the eternal story of wrestling, good triumphing over dirty cheating evil, was retold. There's this other Egyptian guy who clearly saw this as his tryout for the WWE as he threw the crap out of one guy and then did backflips in celebration. I wonder if anybody explained the "hideous racist gimmicks" part of pro wrestling to him.

Taekwondo: I'm at that part in my tape now, so I don't know if I get to see this or not:

Taiwan won its first-ever Olympic gold medals Thursday and was honored with a medal ceremony featuring a national anthem and flag that is not its own.

The medals came in quick succession on the first day of the taekwondo competition.

Chen Shih Hsin won the historic first gold in the women's 49-kilogram category, and then heavily favored Chu Mu Yen followed suit about 20 minutes later in the men's 58-kg class.

Several hundred Taiwanese fans in attendance went wild after the victories were clinched, but the celebration turned more muted when the medal ceremony began.

As part of its sovereignty dispute with China, Taiwan is not permitted to use its actual flag and anthem in international competitions. Instead, Chen and Chu had to watch as a more generic Taiwanese Olympic flag, featuring the Olympic rings, was raised to the tune of the "Song of the national flag.''

Chen cried throughout the medal ceremony, while Chu was more composed.

"I would like to dedicate this medal to everyone in Taiwan,'' Chen said. "I'm pretty sure that everyone in Taiwan will be happy for the gold medals won today.''

Taiwan and China have been locked in a sovereignty dispute for five decades. Beijing says the island belongs to Chinese territory and must accept Communist rule or face war. But the Taiwanese have refused to join the mainland and have been drifting closer to seeking a permanent break.

As a concession to China, Taiwan participates at the Olympics under the name of "Chinese, Taipei'' instead of its official name of the Republic of China.

Chu began his winner's press conference by declaring in English: "I am from Taiwan.''

His translator was Chinese and he apparently did not want the message said any other way.

This China-Taiwan thing is--it's going to be interesting how it shakes out, heading into 2008. Beijing can't threaten Taiwan too much before then--do they really want to be holding an Olympics while they're fighting their next-door neightbor? Oh, I'm sorry, engaging in a "civil action" in their "breakaway province" or what have you. So Taiwan knows this and it seems to me--dumb schmuck writing on the Internet--that if they wanted to press for independence, now would be the time.

Anyway, it sucks that Taiwan can't even compete under their own flag or name or hear their own anthem because the IOC are a bunch of pussies. Meanwhile, watching taekwondo--I'm still getting the hang of it. The nuances are even harder to spot than they were in judo--thank gosh Pat Croce is there to tell me what's going on, which is as bizarre a commentary assignment as Bill Clement's was with table tennis last week.

Track & Field: We swept the 200 in an event where the crowd decided to assert itself in an annoying way, whistling for ten minutes so they couldn't get clean start off. Apparently the Greek media is amping up the anti-Americanism, blaming us in some tangential way for the drug tests Kenteris and Thanou missed. Hey Hellas-types, it's not like you're the only ones to lose people to drug tests. And it's not our fault Kenteris and Thanou embarassed their nation-state. So--eat our non-drug-enhanced-until-proven-otherwise dust.

Handball, Women's: Your survivors are Korea, France, Denmark and Ukraine. That's all I know.

Field Hockey, Women's: Germany takes gold over my Dutch brethren.

Hey, that's all I got. There was some synchronized swimming and rhythmic gymnastics but even I won't watch those.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

OLYMPICS WRAPUP POST DAY #14: Capsules. I didn't get to see much today.

Wrestling, Men's: But I did see Rulon Garder's loss and his win for the bronze. In the loss he just got taken down in the overtime and wrestling is such the sport of seeking perfection: one mistake and you're done, unless you pull the flash pin. Which means in these heavyweight bouts the guys end up looking like they're just leaning against each other for the first couple minutes. After the bronze win Gardner left his shows in the ring, which--the announcers helpfully explained--is a traditional signal that a wrestler is retiring. He couldn't quite hold back the tears afterwards, and I wonder if we'll get a million stories about that like we did about Sara McCann's bawling. Probably not.

Volleyball, Men's: We pulled off the victory over HEL-LAS! and reach the semifinals. My mom wants those mean old Greeks to stop whistling at us.

Track & Field: Marion Jones--should we love her or hate her? She clearly believes she's innocent. She's certainly not blowing people out of the water. Well, whatever, she's on the relay team even though most people think that's just looking for trouble.

One of our ladies won the 200. A Russian lady won the hammer throw until they test her pee later. I can't tell all these -athalons apart, by the way.

Weightlifting, Men's: The guy from Iran who is some kind of weightlifting legend won the superheavyweight lift and is officially the world's strongest man. Just to show you how important the Olympics are in creating local sports interest: the announcers just said there is a pro weightlifting league in Iran, and Rezazadeh is a captain of one of the teams. I mean, pro weightlifting leagues. That's wild.

Boxing: I didn't see this but--holy crap! An American beat a Cuban in incomprehensible Olympic boxing. I think he's our last chance for a medal.

Field Hockey, Men's: "In a highly anticipated classification showdown, Pakistan won its sixth game in six meetings with India this year." COME ON, India--a billion people and you're getting trounced in the one sport you're supposed to be good at by your arch freaking rival? That's HORrible.

Beach Volleyball, Men's: Men play beach volleyball?

Oh, that's right, they do. But they don't expose their navels denying us all the sweet beefcake. But I guess the ladies can watching swimming for that. Phelps is FIIIINE.

I think the Brazilians won.

Sailing: An Israeli took the first gold for his nation ever? In windsurfing. I would've thought they had more golds than none--maybe they're one of those traditionally underperforming nations (relative to others of the same population with a similar economy) but they probably have other stuff to worry about.

By they way--I am pleased to see many of this guy's predictions destroyed by these Olympics, who is an economics professor who says he can predict medal counts based on GDPs and population and other stuff. Japan has already completely destroyed his predicted gold total of 6 with their actual total of 15. The 16th--which will tie their all-time total--will be the hardest, methinks. Asian people can't run. Strangely enough, they can work taekwando matches. I have no idea why.

Check the medal tracker--China was neck and neck with us until the start of this week, when--again--track and field started. Russia has crept ahead of them in the overall but they're below three different nations in terms of golds. Australia is--pound for pound--the second greatest summer sporting nation on Earth, behind--naturally--the US of A.

Baseball: Australia could not pull off the upset. There was one blatantly blown call where a Cuban trapped the ball on the wall and they ruled it a catch when it was so not a catch. But--whatever. This is all your fault, Selig.

Basketball: Team USA rolls on as we whoop up on Hel-las. Our women's team sports have been quite the juggernauts, at least here and in softball. Soccer will be a juggernaut if they manage to beat Brazil tomorrow.

Meanwhile our men's teams forgot to show up in soccer and baseball, and Team USA basketball plays Spain tomorrow in a game where no outcome would surprise me.

Diving, Women's: We crash and burn in the diving this year. It seems like there was a lot more diving on from Sydney--maybe the ratings were not what they wanted that time? I dunno. Could be my imagination.

Olympics....winding down. Must....keep....watching.....but it's no trouble really. It's the Olympics and I love it dearly.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

OLYMPICS WRAPUP POST DAY #14: Here are the capsules. The Olympics have a winding-down feel right now, as the team sports conclude and teams are eliminated and suddenly the game you catch in the middle of the night means a lot more.

Baseball: The Japanese pros (minus the guys who play for American teams) went down to a bunch of Australians in what presumably will be tabloid fodder in Japan. Canada could not pull off the upset and so we're probably going to see a Cuban gold medal. This is what happens when our cretinous major leagues don't give Olympic baseball a second thought, the one nation who doesn't allow its citizens to play outside said nation ends up winning. Am I digging a grave for Australia too early? Probably not.

Soccer, Men's: Iraq went down and will face Italy for bronze. Paraguay vs Argentina for the gold. There are few things more annoying than a South American soccer team in celebration mode.

Beach Volleyball, Women's: You know--this stuff gradually won me over. Yes, it's an exercise in t&a, but it's also one of the two really fun events that have been on from Athens (the other being--of course--mixed doubles badminton.) The crowds loved it. The midnight chokers loved it. The Greeks put on a really good show. It stands in stark contrast to the high drama and high seriousness and bitter disappointments of the gymnastics. But this is the great thing about the Olympics, you have the high culture sports and the low culture sports and everything inbetween.

Anyway, May and Walsh took gold and McPeak and Youngs took bronze. I can make fun of NBC for putting on so much of this stuff for the obvious reasons but it is good tv and you're not going to get too many doping scandals out of it. What can I say? It's good, competitive, entertaining sports.

Water Polo, Women's: I managed to catch two American water polo games and in both we lost in the last few seconds, except the one today was to play for gold. Blame me--I'm the jinx.

Volleyball, Women's: Beach is really stealing Indoor's thunder these games, which should not minimize the fact that Indoor judges dress in 70s-style jumpsuits. We lost to Brazil and are done. But--hey--indoor is fun too.

Another thing to recommend beach (to digress) is its two-on-two simplicity, I guess.

Handball, Men's: Hungary beat Korea and I got to watch.

Wrestling, Men's: Greco-Roman was on Tuesday and a lot of that stuff is reminiscent of the "Frank Gotch and Ed 'Strangler' Lewis lay on the mat for an hour without moving a muscle" line from The Music Man: just two guys bouncing off each other for a long three minutes. But they have this thing now where somebody has to score a point at the beginning of the second round (I think) because they place them in this position where somebody's grip has to be broken at some point or else the other guy gets the point--I'm not completely clear on it, actually. Anyway, I missed all of Rulon Gardner's matches but I did see Dennis Hall (an American) beat a Czech in a very intense match where both guys fought each other off for most of it until they went to that grip-breaking position noted above.

All of the wrestling's been pretty intense, actually, except for the heavyweight. There were a lot of stories about Sara McCann and Chiharu Icho being inconsolate with their silvers today. Maybe losing is just way worse in wrestling. Or maybe it was a lot of sportswriters needing an angle to talk about women's wrestling and going with how emotional the wrestlers were in defeat, and in victory as well. I forget that female wrestling is a novelty to most people, though not to the pro wrestling fan.

I think that's it. That Hungarian from yesterday didn't give the IOC enough pee so they took his gold away. A Russian murdered the former women's pole vault record that she herself had set three previous times this year. And apparently this is only the second year for women's pole vault--what's up with that?

Okay, that's it.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

OLYMPICS WRAPUP POST DAY #13: Capsules. I just might be too beat to write too much tonight.

Table Tennis, Men's: The final table tennis medal was decided Monday morning--men's gold--and it was great to watch. The Korean guy looked to be losing it in his upset attempt over the Chinese guy (and I identify the two men by their ethnicities because I don't want to sound like I have any expertise with table tennis whatsoever) giving up a game after going up 3-1 and then taking it down to the wire. But he pulls it off in the end, and any non-Chinese winning a gold is an upset, I can tell you that. Afterwards the Korean guy and his coach exchange full-body humps and the world feeds takes pleasure in replaying that moment endlessly.

Soccer, Women's: My gloom and doom predictions continue to miss the mark, and we advance 2-1 over Germany. Maybe they really are going to put it all together one more time. We play stylish penalty-box-divers Brazil for the gold.

Basketball, Men's: I guess Yao really didn't want to wear that beard, because China beat suddenly craptacular Serbia on two Yao free throws to make the medal round, something he said was his whole goal this year. Spain and Lithuania are still undefeated and Angola still has no clue.

Track & Field: We sweep the 400 1-2-3. I missed the discus but a Hungarian won.

Gymnastics: What was once the big dramatic heart of these Olympics has become its most sordid sidestage, as the fans in Athens tonight decided they were sick of goofy judging so when Alexei Nemov got a low score on his high bar routine they decided to boo (whistle) inconsolably for ten minutes until Nemov politely told them to keep it down. It didn't reflect very well on them to stage this mass rebellion, but if I'm the Russian fanbase and I'm looking at only six gold medals with less than a week to go--well, maybe I throw a little fit, too. Not that it changed anything.

Wrestling, Women's: Our gals did not do as well as they wanted, taking a silver and a bronze. At least the Japanese, our and everybody's rivals in women's wrestling, didn't do as well as they wanted either, taking only two golds, a silver and a bronze.

Synchronized Swimming: Ah! The ice dancing of the summer. Something I don't have to Tivo.

Beach Volleyball: May & Walsh beat McPeak and Youngs as expected. Those goofy Swiss brothers who don't talk to each other during games lost at some point, so I won't have to hear about it anymore.

Handball, Women's: YES! On my tv! I'm going to watch what I taped (Korea-France) and get some sleep.

Monday, August 23, 2004

OLYMPICS WRAPUP POST DAY #12: Swallow these capsules and get your Olympic medicine.

Shooting, Men's: Matt Emmons shot at the wrong target on his final shot in the "50-meter three-position rifle event" and cost himself every possible medal. Another American, Michael Anti, took the silver but the gold went to Jia Zhanbo who looked mildly surprised at the turn of events. Shooting guys are never quite sure how they're supposed to celebrate; they either look like "Oh gosh--a medal. How nice." or they run around like idiots waving their shotguns around like the Italian who took gold in skeet did today.

Jia didn't mouth along with the Chinese anthem like every other Chinese gold-medaller I've seen has. He must've not gotten the "patriotic fervor--and you better start practicing it for 2008" memo.

Table Tennis, Women's: China took the gold and I am shocked, shocked. The poor li'l gal from Singapore who gagged in the semifinals yesterday lost to a Korean. So no medal for Singapore. SOMEone's getting a caning--kidding! Kidding.

Handball, Men's: Handball was played and I missed it. There really needs to be a handball channel but NBC put all their chips on badminton being the cult sport of 2004. Don't they have another crappy basic channel they can put stuff on? It's not like USA shows anything worthwhile from 2 to 10 AM.

Voleyball, Women's: We beat Cuba to stay alive.

Wrestling, Women's: Our gal Toccara Montgomery drew Kyoko Hamaguchi way too early, so what was hyped as a gold-medal match happened today. Montgomery lost and is out; I just hope the match is on my Tivo somewhere.

Two of four Americans advanced while all four Japanese went on. For an allegedly conservative, patriarchal culture, Japan really embraces the female combat sports.

Track & Field: Justin Gatlin took the 100 meters and launched into an elaborate twenty-minute celebration (including what appeared to be a botched Lambeau Leap) that did not make us all embarassed as Americans one little bit. Maurice Green took bronze and Gail Devers couldn't even make it over one hurdle.

God, the marathon--that was frikkin' great watching that live. Noguchi held on to her lead 'til the end, winning the Marathon marathon. A Kenyan was second and I guess the Kenyans and Ethiopians don't have the stranglehold on this event their male counterparts do since apparently a Japanese won in Syndey too. Deena Kastor, proud American, RAN HER OWN RACE and came from behind to take bronze and she looked great too--her form was fantastic, and since I am now a marathon expert--having watched a marathon--my credibility is not in question.

The Russian lady who won shot put got her gold revoked because she was hopped up on goofballs or something. I would make some comment about how dare she violate the sancitity of the shot put at ancient Olympia as the games return there for the first time in all their athletic purity, but every Olympic talking head I've heard says the ancient Greeks cheated as much as we moderns do, so there is no point of that kind to be made.

OH--and a wacky, irrepresible Swede won women's heptathalon yesterday. Goofy event, gooft athlete. Or something.

Gymnastics: There were some individual events and talk of a double gold for the men's all-around. Nothing definite.

Softball: Who thought up the softball medal format? Team 4 plays Team 3 and Team 1 plays Team 2. Team 4 loses and is eliminated. Team 2 loses and plays Team 3 who have been waiting around to do a double-header since the morning. Team 3 then loses to Team 2 and gets the bronze. Team 2 plays Team 1 tomorrow for gold and silver. Okay? Okay. Maybe the IOC wouldn't be thinking of ditching softball if they could decide the medallists for it in a credible way.

The key to the above:
Team 1: USA
Team 2: Australia
Team 3: Japan
Team 4: China

Baseball: No baseball again. I am relieved that it will be an Olympic sport through 2008. If we qualify in 2008, and does Taiwan, Korea and Japan, the political heat at those games will be OFF THE CHARTS.

See--I'm already getting psyched for Beijing. The laid-back Greeks will provide quite the contrast to the amped-up Chinese crowds, I'll tell you what.

Beach Volleyball: McPeak & Youngs meet May & Walsh in the semis in the grand American spankoff. It's weird that beach volleyball is becoming a defining part of these games, and that the Greeks are pulling off their presentation of them so well. Dancing girls, tiny outfits, shitburger party music--I suspect this is what Europeans think America is all about. I have no idea where they would get that from--America is about freedom and decency and tiny....outfits....never mind.

I think that's everything. Oh--and--

Diving: Notable because a Chinese only took silver.

That's about the long and short of it for Sunday. Tomorrow I guess the soccer team finally gets put out to pasture by Germany, unless Wambach really whomps somebody, but what do I know.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

OLYMPICS WRAPUP POST DAY #11: Capsules. The Olympics put me in such a good mood. Except when the US loses by 20 to Puerto Rico.

Basketball, Men's: Lithuania 94, USA 90. This kind of loss does not depress me, because 1. Lithuania is probably a better or at least even team with us and 2. we didn't look completely pathetic. We still lost, of course, and you could kind of tell we were heading in that direction when Jasikevicius hit the three and got the fould. (I wish NBA TV put on a lot more Euroball than they do, by the way.) He wasn't going to let them lose this time, and the fact that this was Stephon Marbury running with him this time and not Jason Kidd made that a bit easier. Picking on LB for leaving Marbury and his penchant for both taking and missing goofy shots is the consensus opinion emerging from this game.

We make the medal round anyway, NBC said. Spain--Spain!--is undefeated. They were not this good in Indianapolis.

Trampolin, Men's: Trampoline, at the Olympic level, is the domain of puffy, aging Slavic types. Luckily a kid from the Ukraine won. He'll be back in Beijing, ladies and gentlemen, he has that kind of trampoline competitive fire.

Track & Field: I lose interest in track pretty quickly, like I lose interest in swimming--it's all this straight, linear 1-2-3 rank order stuff. I can tell you that Stacy Dragila failed to qualify for the pole vault and that was unexpected. Gail Devers got eliminated. We took silver in 100 meter dash behind a Belorussian who is suddenly much faster at the Olympics. Must be that love of Belarus.

Having seen it just now, Nesterenko's victory looks pretty legit. She has no Ben Johnson guns (though I'm sure modern doping is much more subtle) and the commentator seems to like her "form" and the way she held herself. I apologize for casting aspersions on the ex-communist.

Some of these track girls are really cute. So if it's beach volleyball, it's objectification. If it's track, it's okay. Because...they

Archery, Men's: Boy howdy. South Korea 251, Taiwan 245 for the gold.

Big ups to the AP for calling them Taiwan, by the way, and none of this IOC Chinese Taipei horseshit. For an allegedly major country with ambitions to take the overall medal count in 2008, China sure has a sensitive government.

Table Tennis: And if China is taking the overall medal count in Beijing, table tennis will have to be the gold-medal given it has always been for them. I can't believe I just wrote that. They took gold in men's doubles, beating Hong Kong which I guess is like us beating Puerto Rico if we could ever beat Puerto Rico.

I Tivoed it but didn't watch it yet. Hey, I work Sundays.

Tennis: Justine (it's pronounced "Justin" in Belgian--did you know that? You got a girl's name, Slotman! Wait--I am Slotman....) Henin-Hardenne becomes the only name tennis star to medal, taking the gold in more tennis I didn't watch.

Handball, Women's: There was no women's handball on today, though there could have been. I would like to point out, if I haven't already, that nothing looks more like a legit version of roller derby than handball. It has that vibe. I can't explain it.

Volleyball, Men's: Was it my imagination or did NBC put on a US loss to Russia today that happened a few days ago? I think they did, because we beat Australia today to make the medal rounds. Weird.

Gymnastics: CONTROVERSY~! erupts at Athens today as the IGF suspends some judges for mis-scoring an event during the men's all-around that would've given Yang Tae-young gold and drop Paul Hamm to--bronze? I think I heard that. Anyway, drop him to not gold. This actually seems like it should be a lot more controversial than the Sale & Pelletier figure skating controversy during 2002, since it is a blatant mathematical mistake and not one where the whole viewing audience thought the gold went to the wrong person/people. And yet--since it is such a simple mistake--it's more of a fluke than a miscarriage of justice. With the thousandths of points separating the three winners this year, it seems really not worth making an issue of it; you could rerun the event and get three different winners. South Korea should let this one lie, I think--cripes, nobody was picking them to medal anyway. It's like a bad call at the end of the game: it's just part of the sport.

Swimming: Phelps got his eighth medal. I hope whoever was pushing Phelps down our throats is happy.

Our ARCH RIVALS IN SWIMMING beat us in the women's 800 meter relay. I imagine this means a lot more to the Australians than to us. Kind of like how every American commentator has an opinion on the basketball team.

Badminton, Men's: A crystal clear example of a country being foreign and caring about a certain sport is Indonesia and badminton. Taufik Hidayat of the aforementioned nation took the gold today and he's uspposed to be an actualy badminton bad boy, getting arrested outside of Jakarta nightspots and being splashed across the local tabloid. He has an earring. EDGY!

Soccer, Men's: Iraq beat Australia 1-0 today via an impressive bicycle kick that NBC always puts on when my back is turned. Tonight, by the way, there is a XXX DRUDGE EXCLUSIVE XXX that Dubya is planning on going to the soccer finale if they make it. The only problem is--they hate his guts. If Iraqi culture was slightly different they could give him the full-moon salute in protest, but--given Arab prohibitions on skin exposure--that is probably not a go.

Let me stick in a little politics here: this Swift Boat Vets thing has made mild-mannered Matt Yglesias finally go crazy. That's what he says, but I sort of think that Instapundit's attempt to turn Matt's own words against him has something to do with it. Meanwhile the always-intense Diana Moon has gotten intenser.

Just so I remember where I can find it again, here's Kerry's exact words from April, 1971 that got all the Nixon people against him and who are still pissed at him. I guess grudges die hard, but, as people have being saying lately, our lower-stakes politics are increasingly dominated by obsessives. The kind who would hold grudges for thirty years.

And I completely support Matt's campaign to push the Bush lied about cheesesteaks story. Because Bush did.

Beach Volleyball, Women's: May and Walsh beat the Chinese team and I am once again sad in more ways than one.

Baseball: Japan 4, Taiwan 3 in extra innings and I still haven't seen a baseball game yet and I've been watch a lot. The baseball coverage has been one area that NBC has really stunk at. On one hand, I can understand why--there's no cult aspect to it and there's no American presence so there's no reason to put it on. But--come on. If the American tv network isn't even showing it, that's just more ammo for the IOC to try and remove baseball. Even though an American team in Beijin in 2008 would be really choice.

That's it. I have some Tivo to watch.
OLYMPICS WRAPUP POST DAY #10: I'm not going to over all the stuff I Tivoed and didn't watch yet, so I can maybe get to sleep at a normal time tonight. Capsules.

Trampoline, Women's: NBC goes all wishy-washy by not being able to decide if trampoline is a cult sport or a primetime sport and so ends up showing like fifteen minutes of it all chopped up in primetime. The screw-ups in trampoline are car-wreck impressive; the gold medalist from Sydney hit the padded edge of the trampoline on the way down and got knocked clear across to the other side of the trampoline as a result. I have no idea how this is judged--they only showed fifteen minutes and the announcers seemed pretty clueless about what was good and what wasn't. So. NBC couldn't decide quite how they wanted to present it and we, the viewers at home, did suffer.
A German won gold. A Chinese won bronze and the commentator (the one who wasn't the god-like Al Trautwig) described the Chinese team as being "robotic." Isn't that a code word for Asian athlete, the way people sometimes use the word "athletic" to mean "black"? Well, it could be.

Soccer, Women's: My one bold Olympic prediction thus far did not work out and the US moved past Japan today. Every goal was goofy: the first US goal was off a Japanese miscue in the box, the Japanese goal was off a penalty kick that nobody could track down and it just sort of bounced in, and the go-ahead US goal was off a botch Japanese offsides trap that left their goalie alone versus four Americans. Color me unimpressed.

Swimming: Like everyone else, whenever I hear that Kristi Coventry has won something I wonder who is this white chick from Zimbabwe? NBC never mentions it--I guess we're just supposed to assume everything is just hunky-dory back at home, or else they never thought to whip up a personal story about somebody from Zimbabwe.

I hear Mugabe's going to redistribute her medals to the deserving poor when she gets home. ZING!

Archery, Women's: I am sure I would hate the Korean women, who won gold over the Chinese by one arrow on Friday and have won five team golds in a row and are sort of the sports juggernaut I tend to despise, if they weren't Korean women. Shoot that arrow into my heart, li'l darlin's.....

Badminton: I want to add one thing about the mixed doubles from yesterday: it was like a Hong Kong movie. Cocky Chinese hero with questionably morality but an indomitable spirit. Inoffensive, smiling Chinese heroine. The kind of generic white people who pop up in every Jackie Chan movie. It was, like, Shaolin Badminton or something.

Koreans took gold and silver in men's doubles that I didn't wacth. Nothing's going to be more entertaining than mixed doubles anyway.

Shooting: is much less impressive when everybody's lying flat on their stomachs like snipers. But an American takes gold.

Basketball, Women's: Finally caught some of the least-publicized dominant American team at these Olympics--I think the water polo team's been on more than the team with Dawn Staley, American athlete chosen to be the face of all America. They pull it out over Spain in a good little game.

That's it. Hey, I have a job.

Friday, August 20, 2004

OLYMPICS WRAPUP POST DAY #9: Let's do this before it gets too far into Friday Greek time. Capsules.

Badminton: Was the most entertaining thing on NBC on Thursday. First, the women's gold medal match, Mia Audina vs Zhang Ning. Audina came out strong and took the first game but was visibly out of energy by a few points into the second game. Yet in the third game she fended off like three medal points before succumbing. Bill Clement was saying Zhang is number one in the year, but Audina looked like she could've taken her if she wasn't dramatically out of shape.

And then--mixed doubles. Is this the only summer sport with both genders competing against each other? The pairs skating of the summer? Anyway, this--the gold medal match--is easily the funnest thing I've seen at the Olympics thus far, save the handball glimpses. The Chinese team was weirdly demonstrative (unlike every other Chinese athlete) and the British team was all plucky and gritty and dragging the match out to three games as best they could. The British gal was all blonde cuteness in her little blue skirt-thing. The Chinese guy went into full Honky Tonk Man-level stall at one point when they fell behind, demanding new birdies and reversed calls and generally making an ass of himself. I love the pairs stuff, I couldn't help thinking both teams were trying to impress each other in some primal way. But there was no rules about gender must play gender: man served to man, or to woman, or woman to woman--whatever would bring glory on the badminton court. This was completely enjoyable light-hearted sport. And I guess badminton is a "light-hearted" sport; the birdie takes the physicality out of it as much as possible so it ends up being all about angles and momentum. I like.

Gymnastics: Forgot to mention Paul Hamm's amazing comeback yesterday, and now we have Carly Patterson's more steady gold medal effort today. It's funny--I don't expect Carly to be the huge cultural figure Mary Lou Retton was, or even Kerri Strug was. I guess we expect more success from our gymnasts than we used to.

But Paul Hamm's win has to be some kind of all-time greatest sports victories. You fall and hit the judges' table and come back to win gold? Yowzers.

Shooting, Women's: More ladies with shotguns. No weird "pull" commands this time. A Hungarian takes gold and I still love the shooting.

Field Hockey, Men's: Finally got to see the vaunted Pakistanis beat South Korea. Let's all hope for the India-Pakistan hatefest at some point.

Basketball, Men's: Hey, so we managed to beat Australia. We may be able to apply enough defensive pressure to get a whole bunch of fast break points to win gold. Or silver; having only a fast-break offense never did the Nets any good. I think we have to play Lithuania next and THAT will be an interesting contest.

Swimming, Men's: So Aaron "illegal dolphin kick" Peirsol got himself dq'ed by a judge who was probably a petulant judge, sick of Peirsol's complaining. Said dq got explained away by some IOC mumbo-jumbo and reversed so he could keep the gold. Well, whatever. Perhaps this'll learn him not to toss around illegal dolphin kick accusations so liberally.

That's it. Tomorrow: our women lay an egg against Japan in soccer. This, I predict.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

OLYMPICS WRAPUP POST DAY #8: Capsules. Hateful Blogger just ate another goddamn post of mine, and I am too strapped for time to recreate it. I'm working now and the time it takes to watch everything does not leave me much time to comment on it. What I did see, was an American take the double trap gold; two Koreans be tied after eleven arrows and the winner hit a bullseye to get the gold; the Dutch women destroy Germany in field hockey; the shot put happened and the crowds looked like the ancient crowds must've, except with less liquor, all massed in the fields there watching people throw stuff as far as they could; I watched the US lose to Canada in water polo and to the Dominican Republic in volleyball. And:

Softball: I'm glad we're really good in softball too, NBC. Do we have to watch them crush another hapless nation live every day?

Look, that's all I got. I'll try to do better tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

OLYMPICS WRAPUP POST DAY #7: The capsules are here.

Archery: I'm not sure what happened in archery today, but I liked this story about Bhutan trying to make their mark in this sport.

Fencing, Women's: So NBC loves the Sada Jacobsen thing--Yale student, great USA fencing hope--so they (on Bravo) show both her losing to eventual silver medalist Tan Xue and her bronze medal win in their entireties. They promise to Mariel Zagunis--another American--vs Tan on the big primetime broadcast. True to their word, they show--friggin' clips of her beating Tan. AND her entire medal ceremony.

Tan Xue had some weird psychological thing where she would celebrate every time her opponent's light came on, whether or not the judges had awarded her the point. I have no idea how well this worked throughout the tournament, but she looked just dumb when the judgement was against her.

Fencing is one of those Olympic sports where you don't become an expert in it after watching for five minutes. Those are some tiny, tiny distinctions that separate one point from another.

Gymnastics, Women's: The Romanian team refused to show any emotion whatsoever until they won and then the sweet patriotic tears did flow. We took silver and well we should--we were obviously just not good enough, making the little mistakes but never the big ones. Unlike Team China, whose horrible botching of the uneven bars was shown in excrutiating detail by NBC. One little girl went face-first into the mat. Not good. Russia took bronze--Svetlana Khorkina is the last great gymnastics diva.

This has to be the most likable American gymnastics team that I can remember. For once, they all look like normal people. Mohini Bhardwaj is such a great story, except for the receiving-funding-from-Pan-Anderson part.

Actually, except for Khorkina, none of the gymnasts looked like weird little pixies the way they used to. Interesting.

Field Hockey, Men's: Some was on television and I watched Korea beat Great Britain. Observation #1: Great Britain has a unified olympic team, but in soccer they compete as Wales, England, Scotland. Observation #2: Great Britain intentionally ran the clock down to zero because the game isn't over until Korea cleared the ball from the shooting area (or whatever) on the penalty shot. So there's quite a bit of game that can be played in a timeless limbo in field hockey. Or not.

Shooting, Men's: They call the competition "double trap" which utterly disguises the fact that it involves men shooting at clay pigeons with big honking shotguns. The guy from the UAE won gold for the first time for that country, and on the one hand I love to root against any overwealthy Arab aristocrat, but damn if he didn't look cool with that gun. The guy from India won silver and that's the first silver for any Indian since they won their independence? Jeez. For the jillionth time: there is no reason for India to be as crappy as they are in international sport except for a failure of will within India. One billion people and you can only get one guy shooting at targets well? Get on the freaking ball.

Beach Volleyball, Women's: Yes, NBC had to cut gold medal fencing, won by an American, into highlights to bring us the lion's share of May and Walsh beating two leathery Dutch ladies. I have no words.

Water Polo, Men's: We beat Kazakhstan! U-S-A!

Soccer, Women's: US 1, Australia 1. I watched it in fast forward, so I don't have a lot to say. We're in the medal round. I do not expect us to be golden.

Basketball, Men's: And speaking of lowered expectations....we had a lot of trouble with Greece, a team with no NBA players, so we don't even have that excuse like we did when Carlos Arroyo cut us to pieces. The only way we can get very far with this team is with intensity, because we forgot to pack a three-point shooter. At this point, I am actually really wishing they'd put--God help me--Derek Fisher on this team, because they'd have one guy who knew his role.

Swimming, Men's: I love how the American swimmers, Phelps in particular, keep thinking they have to take their laurel crowns off during the national anthem.

Tennis: Federer out. Roddick still in, and I like hearing him say he was more nervous about the Olympics than in other competitions--even though he's playing in half-empty arenas--because he's playing for his country. And I like hearing Roddick's staying in the athlete's village with everybody else. Unlike, say, Allen Iverson, who's probably staying in a five-bedroom zeppelin high above Athens. If you get my drift.

Baseball: Where's my baseball, NBC?

Judo: Tonight Bravo gave us forty minutes of sailing and two judo finals clipped all to heck. I'ma thinking their coverage of all the grappling/martial arts sports is going to be similarly stinky. A Greek guy won gold in his weight class. The Bravo judo color commentator is completely insufferable, by the way, going on and on about how all the judo events have all been sold out, and how (I paraphrase) "I don't know what the Greek national sport was before, but it's JUDO NOW!"--puhleez. I wish we had more judo on too, but you're not doing the sport any favors by overselling its popularity.

Badminton, Men's: Two Korean guys beat two Chinese guys. It was good. I really hope Bill Clement is there in Athens and talking over a feed, because they never show him at the broadcast table or what have you. I would be crushed if he wasn't actually there.

Table Tennis: All the Americans got knocked out and we have the first week of the Olympics' cult heroine: Ai Fukuhara. She's 15. The cretinous NBC commentariat referred to her as the Mia Hamm of Japan, which I do not believe for a microsecond. But where most Asian table tennis players do that cry that sounds like "GO!" when they make a point, she squeaks it out, like a cat, and tries to look all serious but she's too pixie-cute. She is your American Japan fetishist's wet dream, to put it another way. She has this really great delivery, too, tossing the ball straight up before service. Olympic table tennis--it's fannnnntastic.

I have to go now--live shotput from Olympia beckons. It's all so meaningful.
OLYMPICS WRAPUP POST DAY #6: Lots of cool stuff today. Capsules.

Swimming: Thorpe defeats Phelps and finally we can maybe stop talking about Phelps. A white girl from Zimbabwe won silver in something. I found that interesting.

Gymnastics, Men's: Due to the magic of the Internet I knew who won, but that didn't stop this from being a really entertaining event. NBC stuck to the story they picked going in that China was the team to beat, and thus eventual gold medal winners Japan were mostly unmentioned until the end, unless they did the personal story on that team and I missed it. But Nippon kicked all kinds of booty in their final event, the high bar, and took the gold. We got silver. Like I said, I knew who won, but our team and Japan's performed so well it was quite the show.

Handball, Men's: And why do they always say it's Team Handball? Is there some kind of solo Handball?

Handball remains the greatest thing to watch at these Olympics. I watched a completely entertaining Slovenia-Croatia contest. I don't know why they dribble the ball exactly once running down the court but I know it is good.

Water Polo, Women's: USA 7, Hungary 6. It's like slow handball.

Judo: FINALLY there was judo on my teevee. I saw Jimmy Pedro make a Frenchman tap out with an armbar. I saw a German beat a North Korean even though the North Korean knocked her down a bunch of times, she just wasn't big enough to knock her down in a way that would produce points--I think by getting her opponent on her back--and so it was a sort of war of attrition. I saw a Korean beat a Russian in a pretty even-handed contest that ended when the Korean reversed the Russian's takedown attempt with 9 seconds left. It is good stuff and I am glad it is on.

Beach Volleyball, Women's: The McPeak/Youngs team beat a pair of Canadians in a nice contest.

Diving, Men: Two Greek men took the synchonized diving gold and there was much full-body hugging in celebration. It was a nice moment, actually--I love the HELLAS! chants.

Sailing: Look, NBC, you're not going to show live sailing. Fine. But whoever you've got doing the voiceover on the day's events is putting me right to sleep.

All right, all I got. Day Seven is beginning in the background in the form of live China v. the US softball.

Monday, August 16, 2004

OLYMPICS WRAPUP POST DAY #5: Hey. A lot of stuff happened today. Here are the AP capsules.

Gymnastics, Women's: I'm glad our team doesn't look like adolescents any more--it's much less creepy. Team China still does, even though they're teenagers. Our captain, Monishi Bhardwaj, is actually 25. Anyway, we qualified for the next round, so even though we didn't look completely great it doesn't matter.

Team China smiles way too much. I think they're getting something special in their Wheaties. Contrast that with the dour Romanians, where the State is no longer quite the benevolent sponsor is was during the communist days.

Swimming, Men's: Michael Phelps blah blah blah Ian Thorpe blah blah blah blah. Enough with your crappy story of the week, NBC. Thankfully, South Africa punctured the tires on the "8 medals for Phelps" motorcar. I have nothing against Phelps, or Thorpe for that matter, but there's no reason to care about something just because NBC has decided it is something I'm supposed to care about.

Basketball, Men's: I was optimistic coming in to the Olympics. I thought, "No George Karl. We have a chance." Evidently, we put together the same sort of crappy team we put together two years ago--the one that finished in fifth place in Indianapolis, remember? I thought, we have Tim Duncan--the best player in the game--and Allen Iverson--once the clutchest player in the game. It'll take some doing, but we could still win, even if we don't have a coherent team and Carmelo and Lebron and Dwayne Wade have no idea what they're doing.

We could still win. I just don't see how right now. Hey NBA: when even Bob Costas is saying you screwed up by forcing this team on us, you screwed up. I mean, this could be some Machiavellian plot to build up the rest of the world by sending out a crappo team so non-Americans have more of a reason to watch the NBA, but I think it's more of the general pattern of David Stern slowly losing his grip.

Meanwhile: Serbia-Argentina was a fantastic game. GI-NO-BLI won it on a last second shot and there was way too much celebration from Argentina for an opening game, but still, it was a great ending.

Not even China knows how to give the ball to Yao Ming, apparently. Maybe nobody does.

Cycling, Women's: USA showed the road race through the streets of Athens live and in its entirety this morning. You can't slag NBC too much if they're doing stuff like that. I couldn't tell you who won.

Beach Volleyball, Women's: Misty May and Kerri Walsh wore tiny outfits and they beat two Japanese ladies who were also wearing tiny outfits. Occasionally the one Japanese lady would slap the other one on the bum. May and Walsh won and I have no idea how I remember THAT.

Actually, another thing I have no idea how I remembered it is the fact, mentioned during the telecast, that the US has never won gold in women's beach volleyball, a sport we invented. May and Walsh are number one in the world--this should be our year.

Field Hockey, Men's: Was this anywhere on teevee today? We better get the semifinals and finals live, NBC.

Shooting: Another sport not on television enough. I think you could sacrifice some Queer Eye episodes to get on some shooting.

Softball: We mercy-ruled Australia out of existence. Thank god for Title IX, here and in women's basketball, two sports where we dominate.

Table Tennis, Doubles: Hey! I didn't see this, but both our teams advanced. Tawny Banh is ON FIRE

Soccer, Men's: Hey Franklin Foer--so is this just another meaningless victory for Iraq? A team that had to get airlifted out of Baghdad, if the NBC propaganda is to be believed, is undefeated and playing great for a whole lot of very good reasons. I wonder how far they have to go before they become meaningful.

Tennis, Women's: I watched Ai Sugiyama beat somebody from China. I sure did.

Badminton: The sport NBC was telling us would be the cult sport this year. The curling of 2004. I saw a lot of curling in 2002, NBC. I have yet to be served a steady diet of badminton. Get on the ball.

That's about all I saw or thought to talk about today. Hey--the NBC schedule says it's only two hours to LIVE HANDBALL! Who's with me? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Saturday, August 14, 2004

OLYMPIC WRAPUP POST DAY #4: I'll try to do this, seeing as the MCATs are done and I would love to watch some sports. The fact that this is the world's greatest sporting event means that....that this is a good time to be watching sports.

I was going to just report on everything whether I saw it or not but then I found this giant AP summary of the day's events. So I'll just try and elaborate on the stuff I actually watched.

Weightlifting, Women's: Turkish lady wins it. She stuck her tongue out at one point when she had the weight over her head. The lady on Bravo referred to the Chinese women's weightlifting team (their representative was silver) as the "Dream Team" without any further explanation.

Volleyball, Women's: Well we got stomped. As bad as China got stomped by Germany in soccer, so did they (China) whomp us in volleyball. Apparently the best game wasn't even on teevee--Germany in an upset over Cuba in five sets. I have heard that the best game for Skinemax reasons, Brazil vs. Japan, was televised at the very un-Skinemax time of 9:15 this morning. My gosh, NBC--children could be watching. What? Who won?

Field Hockey, Women's: Germany pulled another upset here, gutting out the victory over Australia 2-1. I find myself rooting against Australia in every international sport I see them in. And I don't think I have anything against Australia, I just end up having a reason to like the country they're up against a little more--their opponents are underdogs, their opponents are hotter, etc.

I had more but I fell asleep waiting for the judo to come on--I wait through that preliminary gymnastics competition for judo, but they put the sailing on first, and the that was the calm blue ocean that let me find my inner Sandman. Or something. See you later today, I hope.
OLYMPICS OPENING CEREMONY: I wanted to post this last night, but Blogger was acting up. So I'll say a few things just to maintain my POSTRATE~!

--I, too, would symbolize man's passage from superstition to rationality with a half-naked man walking on a floating cube.

--The blue angel dancing over the procession of Greek history was great. And I loved the float representing the Orthodox depictions of heaven and hell. We knew at that moment we didn't know all we thought we knew about Greece. But all the stuff that we did know was weirdly great too: the people painted as statues, the people dressed as abstract concepts, the red centaur with the slow motion arrow of light--I mean--this was great stuff.

--A lady with a glowing womb gave birth to a giant floating DNA helix.

--And BJORK! Bjork is a marginal figure here, but in the rest of the world, or Greece anyhow, she's big enough to open the friggin' Olympics. She wore a giant dress that stretched out to cover the whole entire athletic assembly. The world was printed on the dress.

--This was the greatest athletic pregame/during-game show of any kind I can remember--granted, that's not stiff competition, but still. An amazing work of collective art.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

OLYMPICS WRAPUP POST DAY #2: I may or may not make this a regular feature during the Olympics. It'll be easy to do tonight--only two sports to talk about, and I should be studying anyhow.

Soccer: Iraq over Portugal--I give this half a HOLY CRAP! Yes, the men's Olympic soccer tournament is mostly useless, but under-23 Portugal should still cream under-23 Iraq. BUt look at world events--Iraq had a million reasons to play out of their heads. And I guess people really do perform better when they don't fear for their lives, a lesson for all you dictators out there.

Would-be soccer pundit Franklin Foer is already trashing their win. Franklin, dude, this is impressive no matter how third-tier the Olympics are. And maybe the reason that Soccernet didn't have squat on about the Olympics (even for the women, where this is a major tournament; Soccernet covered the women's World Cup) is that NBC is the competition, hmmm? I know I was looking there for live scores. Soccernet covers fifth-level English club soccer--they'd have Olympic scores up if it was on ESPN or ABC. (I guess ESPN has the Champions League contract stateside again--what a waste.)

There were some other games, but that was all I found notable.

Archery: South Korea owns archery. I mean, look. Here. And here. Like they own speed skating in the winter games. I have no idea why; I always think that the government decided to start throwing money at sports that it thought were less than competitive, or maybe the Friends of Oliver Queen just has a much greater penetration there than we ever realized. I have no idea. But--especially on the women's side--this is the southern Hermit Kingdom's event to lose.

So that's your sports report. Hey, how about Governor "I am a gay American" McGreevey today? It was some weird alternate version of the Kobe Bryant adultery confession, except Governor Jim managed to portray himself as a dignified person for the first time in his career. (Kobe looked like he was acting. "She's my backbone." Puhleez.) Maybe there is too much prejudice against gays in this country, which force men like our governor to hide their affairs and hire the people they are having their affairs with to a series of cushy state jobs. Or maybe he's just a Democratic party hack with a zillion scandals swirling around him so he picked one that would give him a good excuse to resign.

I told you guys to vote Schundler.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

"WHIMSICAL FORM THE WRATH": Was the title of a piece of spam in my Hotmail today. It couldn't get past my junk e-mail filter, but it wanted to, with a title like that. It was from a Ronny Corbin, and sent to a Dixon, or a Johnny Fernandez, and I was somehow lucky enough to intercept it. Ronny wants me to get my diploma. I can get my MBA, or my PhD, and there aren't even any classes to go to. It sounds like a great deal. But I doubt Ronny's credibility, somehow.

There were some Olympics today. There's a men's tournament nobody cares about, since FIFA doesn't let countries put their best teams in the age 23 and under (I think) Olympics tournament. Thus the women's tournament is the only one worth watching, even though it's only ten teams--but that's a good number, actually, given the global level of competition. Anyway, we beat the Greek team with its eight Greek-Americans. Germany destroyed China--8-0?! Holy crap! The cadres are going to have to work a little harder for 2008 if they really want the patriotic fervor at a suitable level of intensity. I hadn't realized Sun Wen retired--good luck replacing her. China now is like our team next year. Anyway, Brazil beat Australia 1-0 in a game I didn't see, so I don't know if the fact Brazil only won by a goal means anything. I do know, though, that Japan beating Sweden 1-0 should be considered an upset.

Tonight: physics studying. Jer says I'm full of crap and I hope I can explain why I'm not at some point. But I...I have to study. I think I hear my mom calling me. I...left...the...iron...on...

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

BLOGGER SUCKS A NUT SOMETIMES: Who knew that control-shift-R was the shortcut to Blogger, Devour My Post?

Anyway. I had some crap about this Cambodia Kerry thing, but who cares, really? It's all hair-splitting, like all the attacks on Kerry's service record have been.

The Olympics start tomorrow. The US vs. Greece in women's soccer. I don't expect us to win the Gold--it's the same team that couldn't get it done last year, and I don't see what's changed.

The Olympic soccer schedule.

That is all.

Monday, August 09, 2004

BUSH AS "DRY DRUNK": Joe the supply guy at work (and fellow Bush hata) showed me this article today, suggesting the President is a "Dry drunk," displaying the obsessive tendencies of a former alcoholic who has not come to terms with whatever drove him to drink in the first place:

The fundraiser in rural Rehoboth Beach, Del., thrummed like a tent revival. It climaxed with Bush announcing that he wanted to be certain that people farthest away from the stage "would get the prize" — that is, meet him.

With that, a jacketless Bush bounded from the stage and bolted to the back of the hall, toward the people in the cheap seats — and me. Bush jogged down the center aisle and along the back wall, where people were standing and applauding. I was standing there, too, taking notes and wearing the bright orange pass that identified me as a member of the press.

I expected Bush to pass by, but instead he came to a dead stop right in front of me. I looked up from my notepad, surprised. He was about two feet away, staring and looking upset.

In real life, Bush's eyes are set close and deep. His nose, patrician from a distance, looks like a beak on closer inspection. He wears cologne so the overall effect is not unlike an angry chicken who smells good.

"Get out of the way," Bush said to me in a low growl.

Trouble was, like the people on either side of me, I wasn't in his way. I think the sight of a neutral observer passively taking notes was actually what upset him. The thinking of dry drunks is often marked by grandiosity and rigidity; they cannot tolerate ambiguity. So for Bush, my not applauding was the same as my opposing him; my simple presence constituted being "in his way."

I didn't move but a moment later, Bush covered his frown with his classic smirk and continued to the corner of the room to meet and greet the farthest of his followers. As a dry drunk, Bush is able to abstain from alcohol only because he's intoxicated by delusions that border on the messianic.

Google reveals that this is actually a long-running mode of analysis of our president. There's even a book by a psychiatrist about it. Obviously, this sort of armchair analysis of Dubya is grossly unfair, but it has a kind of validity. He's a public figure. He's always in public. There must be a ton of data you could base an analysis around. It would be a second-hand analysis, obviously, but if you can commit people involuntarily you can probably analyze them involuntarily too. For their own good, of course.
YOUR ROUNDUP OF BUSH DISLIKE POSTS GIMMICK POST OF THE WEEK: Hey look--here's some stuff to feed your Bush hatred. In this way this blog meets the minimum federal standards to qualify as being a politics blog. I get....some kind of matching funds....for....for that.

Team Bush outs Pakistani double agent working deep cover within al Qaeda.

Kerry is ahead in every conceivable way.

Neocon hero-to-his-people Ahmed "sweets and flowers" Chalabi is wanted by the Iraqi courts.

Doug Feith is a charlatan.

The Bush administration lies quite a bit.

And so on. I love how Ahmed is calling in to defend himself from Iran.

Gah. At least we beat Turkey today. I know this is basically the same incoherent "team" of stars and young stars Stern wants to push that got embarassed in Indianapolis two years ago, but the presence of Larry Brown and Popovich suggests to me Team USA will play as well as they can given their incompleteness. Actually, it is the lack of George Karl this time around that's really making me semi-hopeful. The Sternbot must be taught that Team USA is no longer simply a vehicle for the NBA; it has to win, too, because the rest of the world may be catching up but they are sure as shooting not there yet, I'll tell you what.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

AN EXPERIMENT IN THRIFT: Because buying those hoagies for dinner every night adds up, even if the guy at the hoagie place is nice to you and knocks off the non-integer part of your bill so you always pay four bucks. Plus you--look, enough with the Royal You? Plus I asked him once what kind of soccer was on the television and he says Argentinian and I'm like, "Oh, like Boca Juniors?" and he's astonished that I have heard of the famous everywhere-but-here Boca Juniors.

But that's how they git you. By being nice to you. But I will be swayed by the small businessman's charms no longer; I will now--eat cheap.

I have purchased the following, for 16 bucks and change:

Six frozen chicken parms, On-Cor brand
Six frozen salisbury steaks, On-Cor brand
Platter of frozen On-Cor macaroni and cheese
Bag of Giant broccoli
Bag of Giant green beans
Giant capellini
Giant grape soda
Giant Dr. Pepper

THIS--This will be cooked by me, at home. It will be brought by me to work in portion sizes similar to tv dinners of the KFC minimeals. (And have you had one yet? Chicken, green beans, mashed potatoes and a biscuit for four and change. Five and change if you add the corn on the cob. Or the hot 'n' tasty mini apple pies. I could go Colonel--I'm sorry. You're a fine man. A fine American. But I have to do what's best for me. Well, if that's wut you think, Justin. I can't argue with a man standin' up fer his principles. I'm glad you understand. The Burger King--he didn't understand. He thought he had a divine right to serve me bacon double cheeseburgers, extra mayo, extra pickles. Son, you just have to understand that people do things diff'rent in the Old World. Here, we have a democracy. But other people in other lands--you jes' haveta leave them do as they will. I know, sir. I'll try to be more understanding.) It will feed me for--well, we'll see. Hopefully longer than a week, which it would have to to move into the money-saving realm.

Next week, though. This week: the comical attempt to get the MCAT scores up a few points. I'm suddenly losing my appetite....

Friday, August 06, 2004

SO YOU WANT TO BE A DOCTOR: And it becomes harder to think this is a good idea when Maria writes this. Or this.

Well, that's just part of residency, right? It's what you have to get through to get to where you want to be. Probing the orifices of your fellow citizens and having to explain to the dying why they are dying--it's not something you'll have to do forever. It's the degree you want, and the opportunities that go with it. The other things are things that can be endured on the way to that point.

Well, why that degree? That is the question. Why that degree versus any other degree and I compare that to every other degree I could possibly get and that's what I have to do, to decide if I really want to go through all this.

Of course, I could just not get in anywhere, rendering this bit of self-doubt. But let's leave that aside for now.

My essay--it presented a point of view, but it did not lie. The good arguments for me being a physician are historical in nature: that I know what it is to be one, and I've worked in a medical environment, and basically there's this historical process leading me to think being a physician is what I want to do with my life. Well, maybe that's a bad argument.

The other good argument for me being a physician is that I do not want to be an office drone for the rest of my days, nosireebob. But that's a good argument for pursuing any kind of higher education.

The good argument for me not being a physician is that so little of my will seems to be involved in this decision. Doing things because they make sense and not because you want to do them--well, you're not supposed to marry somebody just because it's convenient, you know? So I don't know if you're not supposed to do that with your career either. Probably not--it doesn't seem like it leads to happiness. And you're supposed to try and be happy in this life.

So I don't know. Maybe this is just the high tide of my self-doubt. It's not like I haven't been thinking about medicine for a while.

"That's your boy, Mom."

"Not anymore."

"Don't you think you're better off sticking with Bruce than sticking with Bush?"

"Bruce--Bruce don't know nothing about nothing. He didn't even go to college."

"Neither did Bush."*

Pause. "I didn't listen to Bruce once today."

*Yes, Bush went to college, but it's like he didn't, what with the family connections and the gentleman's C's and the all around general unpleasantness of a guy who coasted his way through most of his life, especially his college years. Not that I've done dramatically better, but, shoot, I'm not President.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

WATCHED SOME TEEVEE TONIGHT: While making up the cheatsheet I MEAN equation sheet for the physics test tomorrow.

ESPN: ESPN is great when you turn it on and it's a crowded arena in Chicago watching pro table tennis. Obscure sports made ESPN, not endless baseball analysis.

Teen Titans: This show has grown on me. You just have to accept, when you watch it, that it's not going to try and make overtures to a logically consistent plot the way Justice League does, which was the show I used to compare TT to. Now I just enjoy the anime-tinged fun that is Teen Titans.

Family Guy: Another show that grew on me. At first I thought I was a lame version of the Simpsons; now I think it's a version of the Simpons completely unafraid to take any joke about five steps too far. It frees itself from sitcom conventions this way, which the Simpsons has never quite been able to do.

Futurama: The Christmas episode. Not bad. As comedies, both Groening shows will sacrifice funny in favor of character development or point-making in a way that isn't bad, but that does make the shows less funny.

Sealab 2021: Two episodes from the early part of the show where Sealab got blown up most episodes. Absurdist humor that never fails to make me laugh out loud. Foreigners must have no idea what to make of Sealab, which only proves once again that America is the funniest nation on the planet.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

NOTHING TONIGHT: A. I have no time. B. My brother's friends are playing beer pong in the background. I never went through a beer pong playing stage. I wonder why this is.

Monday, August 02, 2004

BLAH BLAH HOMEWORK BLAH BLAH: It's what I should be working on, tonight.

I have nothing to add to Diana talking about the current terror warnings. Nobody does anti-Bush invective quite like Diana Moon. Laura Rozen is good at anti-Bush posts too but hers lack Diana's bite.

I'm going to go work on physics until I fall asleep. Adios.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

BLOGGING FUEL ON EMPTY: I thought getting in the applications would mean an end to worry. But now the worry really begins.

Anyhoo, with homework ignored, and essays sweated over, I have nothing to add to the total wisdom of the Internet tonight. Someday I will, though.
I SHOT THE SHERIFF: I pulled the trigger. It was me. The applications are now in. I will not bore you with the okayness of the final essay; suffice it to say, it looked remarkably like this. It wasn't perfect, but my parents and the the lady I work with (who has read her share of these) liked it. It needed to be done. An application submitted after July 31st just isn't early anymore, even though most school's deadlines are in November.

Yep. Now it's just a waiting game. Sitting back and letting those acceptance letters and invitations to hear more from me, but in person this time, come rolling in. Just sit back and wait......FOUR TO SIX WEEKS?! Bite me, AMCAS! You too, AACOMAS! You high and mighty acronyms, think you're so cool....

As an experiment in anal-retentiveness I printed up all the admissions information from the schools I'm applying to, put them in individual folders, and organized them by region in an accordion file. So when the aforemention interview requests start rolling in, I will be like so prepared.

That's it. I won't burden you with all the schools I applied to, I stuck mostly around here with a few shots in the dark around the country. We'll see.