My wife and I are bizarrely matched for each other when it comes to a number of random things: we’ve both named all our pets after composers (a habit from both our parents), we both have an irrational love of maps, and we both have a long-term obsession with the Olympics. I loved the Olympics so much as a kid that I had the book where you enter the names of every medalist in every event – meaning I was passingly familiar with the dude who got the bronze in the Pentathlon in 1976.
I understand from the Gallup poll that 26% of Americans didn’t plan on catching any Olympics at all, but then again, these Games are getting the best ratings in 32 years, so I know plenty of you are watching. Add your thoughts if you wish, but here are some of mine so far:
– I’m still pissed off about the Chinese “women” gymnasts, and it’s not just their country’s blatantly obvious cheating on their ages. There’s obviously a tremendous cultural difference in how Americans see human livelihoods and state-mandated determinism, but plucking 3-year-olds away from their families, not allowing any contact, and making them eat/breathe/live gymnastics for a decade ought to register as a human rights issue.
Sure, the parents acquiesce, but do we have any idea what saying “no” to the government could mean for these families? The mere thought of giving up Lucy for gymnastics, and not seeing her for another ten years… hell, she has gymnastics camp on Saturday mornings, and I start to miss her after half an hour. The only silver lining about the underage girls is that they get to go HOME that much quicker.
– I have been a documented fan of Misty May’s ass for quite some time now, and in fact, that’s one of the top search terms that brings people to this blog. I’ll watch Kerri Walsh and Misty May play backgammon – and most of the Brazilians for that matter. But NBC giving us a two-hour slog through men’s beach volleyball the other night is a hunk of crap, especially when we never get to see badminton or ping-pong. Plus, one of our beach volleyball players looks exactly like James Carville, and it’s thoroughly distracting.
– The ads with Shannon Miller touting Claritin™ are a little sad. I’m sorry, I really adored Shannon when she nailed the full-twisting Yurchenko vault in 1992 – TWICE – and was subsequently robbed of the all-around medal. But the Shannon Miller of today has had so much work done…
– I know you don’t need me to harp on this when it’s all over the internet tubes, but my heart absolutely broke when I saw Yang Peiyi, the girl who “wasn’t cute enough” to sing in front of the cameras at the opening ceremonies. The Chinese authorities found a prettier girl instead, and stuck Yang in the basement with a microphone while Lin Miaoke mouthed the words.
To quote the music director Chen Qigang, “It was for the national interest. The child on camera should be flawless in image, internal feelings and expression.” Absolutely. Because we all know that ugly people, fat people, or people who aren’t exactly symmetrical all harbor deeply-flawed internal feelings. Especially a 7-year-old girl who is perfectly adorable even with her baby teeth.
Yeah, yeah, I know this is one of my bête noire hot-button issues, but this story is the perfect encapsulation of true talent crushed, humiliated, or silenced by the tyranny of physical attractiveness. It’s sickening and embarrassing, and the Chinese are no worse than we are. Could you imagine telling your daughter she could sing, but she wasn’t pretty enough to be seen by the world? I’d rather douse myself with gasoline.
– Michael Phelps has the laser wide-eyed intensity and unshakable competitive drive I’ve only seen in three other people: Michael, Tiger, and Tyler.