Monday, August 11, 2008

Citius, Altius, Fortius

Random thoughts from watching the first weekend of the Beijing Summer Olympics:

1. The quality of superbowl halftime shows will really go up when this country becomes an official one-party state.Nothing like being a ruthless dictatorship to be able to mobilize several million people to put on what is fundamentally a silly spectacle. But the Chinese get fireworks in a way those of us in the West are still working on.

2. Hint to NBC: not everything is about us. It's OK to show and tell us about people from other countries. That might just be what this whole "Olympic" thing is about.

3. Hungary, the person who told you that the "Heavy Flow Day" pattern from J.C. Penney's "My Menstrual Period" collection was the hottest thing in fashion today was kidding.Sweden, on the other! You rock. So it's not just IKEA and the Nobel Prize for you, eh?

4. Was anyone else embarrassed by the shots of Dubya looking bored and glancing at his watch during the other nation's teams entrances and only putting on his jacket and public face when the U.S. team entered?

I mean, Sarkozy and Putin and the other heads of state managed to at least pretend to be interested AND keep their jackets on in the heat. Oh, and NBC? Another thing: when a President's approval ratings are below 30%, it probably means that about three quarters of us don't want you to keep cutting back to show him to us every other freaking minute. Show us Malian shotputters or something, Jesus...Nice summation of a man who probably didn't know there WAS a country named Mali until the Chinese woman entered carrying the little sign...

5. Water polo is God's own most boring sport to watch.

6. Some Olympic sports should still be played nude as the ancient tradition demanded. Swimming and men's gymnastics are two. Yachting and weightlifting are not. Soccer should be. Cycling probably shouldn't, just for the bicycle seat issues. Women's gymnastics is not, either, at least not until the age of the athletes climbs past the age of consent in, say, Utah.

7. Why is "beach volleyball" an Olympic sport? Is it that the rules require the athletes to wear bikinis (see #6)? And, if we have to include it, shouldn't the rules also require the losers of a point to slam a beer? I mean, it's fucking beach volleyball and it's played in fucking bikinis...

8. Weird to see the same guys we just saw in the Tour de France riding for their countries. I'm old enough to find pro athletes as Olympians a little uneasy.

9. Are we weird in finding this quadrennial sports oddity interesting?

Regardless...have a happy Monday and a good week.


MeghanH said...

I think if the women's beach volleyball competitors have to wear bikinis, then the men should not be able to skate by with the board shorts and baggy tank tops. It's speedos or nothin, boys! (Is that sexist? I think it's equal-opportunity ogling.)

Lisa said...

Yes to #6, and the lovely accompanying photo.

As for our odd fixation on this quadrennial event, I think it provides justification for those who fixate on things. It is the ultimate adoration of people who doggedly focus on one activity (or three, for triathletes) for the better part of their lives. It inadvertently apotheosizes narrowness in focus.

However, its better message is Nike's aphorism: Just do It.

FDChief said...

Meghan: I agree - beefcake for the masses! But my personal choice for beefyness wouldn't be the v-ballers, it'd have to be the swimmers. Let's talk cut abs, powerful shoulders, butts you could crack walnuts on and the thighs of the gods - and that's the women!

Lisa: Or perhaps, just watch others do it..?

rangeragainstwar said...


Yes, yours is the update for the Pepsi-pork rind generation. I don't know if you have that particular subculture in OR.

Perhaps you have Starbucks malingerers who prefer to just watch others?

Lisa said...

(sorry-again I wrote from the wrong identifier. L.)

Publius said...

I've steadily lost interest in the Olympics over the years, to the point where I don't even watch. Why? Well, perhaps because of the jingoistic coverage by NBC—I mean, USA!, USA!, USA!, non-stop gets pretty tired after a while.

Maybe it's because the whole Olympics deal tends to give an unwarranted boost and seal of approval to nations that aren't, shall we say, overly preoccupied with human rights.

I don't have a particular problem with the athletes now mostly being pros. After all, it is all about the best athletes, and in the U.S., and in basketball in particular, the pros are almost always the best at their particular game. My problem WRT pros is that most athletes, from most nations, have always been pros. So it really revolves around how hypocritical all of the Olympics governing bodies are and always have been on this subject.

And, further, the Olympics governing bodies, from those dudes at the top, to the national bodies, have always been just corrupt as well. Haven't been too many kickbacks any of 'em haven't accepted.

Oh, and our president? Haven't you gotten beyond being embarrassed by that boy, Chief? What tells the tale about our president is that he's there, looking dull normal as usual, with Putin—as you note—looking vibrant, alive and interested—all while Putin is busily resurrecting the Soviet Union by exerting extreme force over an "ally" of the U.S. Meanwhile, the dullard we call president shucks and jives while the U.S. goes down the tubes. Of course, our prez can't do anything else about Russia because, thanks to his stupendous blunders in the Mideast, there are no arrows in the quiver.

A great Olympics. No matter the medal count, China and Russia win big time. We lose.

FDChief said...

Lisa: "Perhaps you have Starbucks malingerers who prefer to just watch others?"

We are all-purpose voyeurs here in the Big Rainy. We like to watch (henh henh...)!

Seriously, one cool thing about Portland is that we DON'T have an overwhelmingly couch potato sports culture. We have ONE major league team as opposed to hundreds of amateur and recreational teams; soccer, baseball softball, lacrosse, kickball and dodgeball for the kewl kids, parcour and geocaching for the nerds and hipsters, frisbee golf, tons of bike sports, roller derby and even a park cricket league!

I was an unpaid amateur soccer goalie until my knees finally capitulated...

Publius: I was thinking this morning how the really fucked up thing about the Olympics is how we've taken it from the original ideals. My understanding was that the organizers of the modern games wanted the athletes to compete as individuals. But by the first Games the "national teams" had been formed, then came the medals, and the flags, and the anthems and all the patriotic claptrap...

I'd like to think that we could pare it back to just people competing as individuals, no uniforms, no flags, just athletes trying to do their best...

Ummmm. Yeah. Who'm I kidding..?

And every time I think Dumya has his bottom he finds a way to dig deeper. Jesus wept.

basilbeast said...

Sweden, on the other! You rock.

'Bout time you came around to the rockin' reality that ABBA is! 8-)

And nude bicyle racing has a precedent.

Queen's "I want to ride my Bicycle" & "Fat-bottomed Girls" was publcized with nude cyclists and a banned video.

Those aren't bikini's on WBV, they've got to be thongs. Jon Stewart did a bit on the Olympics tonight and highlighted Scenes of Bush at the Olympics, and bookended it with Ron Suskind.

The only thing more surprising than Bush's endless shame is the lack of impeachment fervor in Congress over a degraded US military and thousands of unwarranted deaths.

Publius, here's a history of the ancient Olympics and the politics in the area around them.

They never have been the sacred, holy and inviolate rites that most folk think they were.

I don't watch much either, I watched the last few minutes of a shell race. I will give the games credit for one good thing, though.

It does give us a glimpse, however flawed and slight, of the possibility of human beings just getting together and having fun, instead of warring.


basilbeast said...

Not as quite as shameful as Bush's actions, but fast getting there.

This is the America we have today, where the "servants" of the people must be protected from the desires of the people and break their oaths to uphold our written law.

I think Sheehan and any of the Code Pink girls could do a better job in Pelosi's chair come January.

I do believe that.


Lisa said...


I'm glad your sportsmen actually get up and do something.

The heavyweights around here who park in their RV's and eat and eat as pre-game activity are really dismal. Their event consists of setting up their tv's, their headphones, and milling about (with 20 feet of the food table) discussing the battles (games) of the day that others are playing.