Winter Olympics 2018

olympicsI love the Winter Olympics!  When you have a ton of young people flying through the air and chasing each other on glare ice — what’s not to like?  Plus you get hockey!  Unfortunately, even though all winter sports are based on the single, simple premise that ice and snow are slippery (Think about that for a moment!) the Winter Games are starting to get cluttered up with too many variations on that theme.  For example, you have two kinds of ski jump, several kinds of skiing and God only knows how many kinds of figure skating.  Folks, there are only so many things you can do with frozen water before it just gets silly!

Let’s take a look:

Curling — The Scots invented golf, the hammer throw and the caber toss. Curling is just the last in a long line of sports that allows you time to have a beer and a cigarette while you’re waiting for your turn to play.

Speed skating — This sport makes sense to me.  I think it evolved when a bunch of Europeans were skating around, puttin’ on the brag.  “Hey, Heinrich! You are like the skilpaddeMin bestemor can skate faster than you.”  Heinrich got pissed at Olaf for dissing his gromutter, and the race was on.  This worked well for a number of years — until the Dutch decided to play.  Ever since then, it’s been “I don’t know what you bet, but if you’re not wearing orange, you’re not going to win.”  Of course, the most exciting event is the relay — which is basically Roller Derby with knives on your feet.

Biathlon — This one is just weird!  Ski as fast as you can with a high- powered rifle on your back until you come to a target; stop, whip out your weapon and shoot.  Then, pack up, ski off to the next target, and do it again.  This happens several times.  Who the hell thought up this sport —  Nordic assassins?

Skeleton and Luge — I think these two are basically the same sport!  In both events, the participants jump on a sled the size of an iPhone  and fling themselves down a mountain at 80 miles an hour (130 km/h.)  Sounds like fun, huh?  The only difference I can see is Skeleton people go headfirst because they want to look death in the face; whereas the people who favour Luge, lie on their backs because they want it to come as a complete surprise.  However, I do believe the Luge folks should get extra points.  Take a look: those kids are steering that sled with their bum!

Half Pipe — The name says it all.  I’m pretty sure most snowboard events were invented by stoned Lifties on their day off, because no sane, sober person would ever attempt any of that stuff.  Fun Fact: Snowboarders were originally called snurfers and “real” skiers made fun of them.  These days, snowboarding is a multi-million dollar industry.  Who’s laughin’ now, Jean-Claude?

And finally:

Ice Dance — Libido on ice.  I’m certain the real reason Puritans outlawed premarital sex was because they were afraid it would lead teenagers to Ice Dance.

The Olympics Are Too Damn Difficult

I promised myself I wouldn’t write about the Olympics.  I’ve already done it — many times.  I’ve been cruel and I’ve been kind, and once I was even hipster indifferent.  You see, for a guy who actually remembers Cassius Clay kicking the crap out of Zbigniew Pietrzykowski (yeah, I did have to look up his name) in Rome, there’ve been a lot of Gold Medals under the bridge, and enthusiasm is not an infinite commodity.


The problem is the Olympics have become complicated.


Back in the day, every four years a bunch of kids would get together to play games.  Eventually, one of them would run, jump, throw, skip, swim, sail, hop, bounce or roll further or faster than everybody else, and they’d get a medal.  The band played the national anthem, everybody smiled, gave each other a “good sport” pat on the ass and went home.  The Americans always won, the Soviets and the East Germans always cheated, countries like France and Japan always hung in there for Bronze, and everybody else had a helluva good time.  It was simple, straightforward and you didn’t need an IBM supercomputer to figure out when your particular guy or girl was going for gold.

Fast forward:

It’s Rio 2016 — and I have no idea what’s happening.  I’ve been watching now and again, and nobody seems to be winning anything.  They always have to do it again tomorrow or Wednesday or next week.  Plus, every time I turn the TV on, Michael Phelps and his fat little kid show up.  That guy is the Kim Kardashian of chlorinated water sports, and, BTW, I’m no expert, but I don’t think water actually comes in that colour.  Meanwhile, in another part of la floresta, they’re playing golf.  Golf?  What does “Faster, Higher, Stronger” have to do with golf?  Why not make chess an Olympic event and get it over with?

There are 39 different sports in Rio, and each one of them has several events, and each one of those has qualifying heats, quarter-finals, semi-finals, round robins, square sparrows — God Almighty!  This is insanity!  Table Tennis, little old rainy-day table tennis has 4 events?  Badminton has five?  Fencing has ten?  Diving has eight?  Eight?  How many different ways can you jump in the water?  But for sheer WTF madness. there’s Shooting.  You remember shooting: point the gun at the target and pull the trigger.  Believe it or not, Shooting has 15 events.  Fifteen?  I have no clue what these people are shooting at, but they’re doing it 15 different ways.  Annie Oakley wasn’t that good.

At first glance, Rio 2016 has it all: beautiful young people, tons of money, incredible drugs — all set on the glorious beaches of South America.  It’s a telenovela waiting to happen, but there are too many characters — too many storylines — too many side stories that don’t mean anything and just too damn much stuff to keep track of.

So go in peace, Rio Olympics. I’ll get the medal count when you’re over.

Olympics: A Postpartum World

The Olympics are over, and for those of us who have been going solid walls of TV coverage for the last two weeks, there’ll be a day or two of decompression – postpartum depression, if you will.  Since there’s only one way to “get the athlete off your back” and that’s going cold turkey, there will be some minor side effects.  They might include (but are not limited to) engaging in meaningless tests of skill with your friends or relatives, listening to various national anthems on YouTube and experiencing an uncontrollable urge to visit Jamaica.  Not to worry, though: these cravings will pass with time, and normal (whatever that is) will happen again, whether you like it or not.  Good luck!

Incredible as it seems, while you and I were gone, the world was carrying on without us.  Ironically, just as Team GB (Great Britain, for the uninitiated) was proving it could still run with the big boys, David Cameron’s coalition government was showing some serious signs of Banana Republic instability.  Davey boy needs to get his political house in order before the Olympic honeymoon‘s over, or he’s going to be relegated to shouting insults from the other side of the aisle.  Bad as that seems, Europe’s problemo numero uno is still the red ink that’s hemorrhaging out of Greece, Italy and Spain.  It’s obvious that the cozy relationship Angela Merkel had with her Gallic neighbours died when the French people au revoir-ed Sarkozy in May.  Angie better start cracking the Euro whip, or, overwhelmed by his own ideology, newly-minted French president Francois Hollande is going to try retrofitting his 20th century politics into Europe’s 21st century problems.  The last thing Europe needs right now is another dose of what got them into this mess in the first place!

Meanwhile, over in the desert, Bashar al-Assad is going for the gold as Syria’s candidate for dick-tator of the year.  At last count, he had out-Mubarak-ed Mubarak, and with the help of his Iranian buddy Ahmadinejad, was going for the full Gaddafi.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t we just slap the crap out of Muammar for half the malfeasance this guy is getting away with?  Assad is hanging onto power in Syria by his eyebrows, and if he thinks his friends in Tehran are going to pull his almonds out of the fire, he ought to give his head a shake.  As of the massacre in Aleppo, the only way Assad is going to end his days is Syria is getting dragged through the streets of Damascus in his underwear — and there’s nothing he can do about it.  Prolonging the agony is not going to save him.

It’s not all bad news, though: in America, Mitt Romney has named his running mate, Paul Ryan.  Ryan is a game changer.  Suddenly, the American presidential election is a whole lot more than just uber-cool Obama versus Massachusetts’ answer to The Man from Glad™.  It’s now a campaign of ideas.  Finally, somebody’s going to have to start talking about all the red ink America’s been accumulating (I’m looking at you, Barack) and offer something more than “hope” as a solution.  This may be the first time — ever — that an incumbent president had to run against the other party’s vice-presidential choice!  But what the hell!  We may even get beyond Wheatley versus Pedro (ala Napoleon Dynamite.)  Who knows?

Tons of other stuff happened while you and I were watching Usain Bolt dismantle the record books and rebuild them in his own image.  For example, somebody discovered a huge island floating in the Pacific, north of New Zealand.  It’s called a ‘pumice raft,” and it’s made of coagulated rocks from an undersea volcano.  Apparently, this thing is as big as Belgium!  And, oh yeah: the Americans went interplanetary again and landed a rover on Mars.  The pictures are fantastic.

So, don’t get too bothered about your Olympic hangover.  There’s plenty of other things going on in the world.  Besides — football season starts in less than three weeks, and the World Series is right around the corner.