Is it wrong that I got a little teary-eyed during the Closing Ceremonies of the Olympics this weekend? Not just because they were beautiful and stunning (which they were) but because I kind of feel like there is no way that any Olympics in my lifetime are going to be able to top these in terms of scale and drama. London's a great city and all, but I can't imagine them getting the amount of volunteers (which they estimate to be about 1 million people, some of whom trained for nine months) or spending the amount of cash (which they estimate to be about 40 billion dollars, if you include infrastructure and everything) to create something so very special. From the Opening ceremonies, which left me breathless, to the action in the pool and on the track, which had me on the edge of my seat, to the creative closing ceremonies which turned an oft forgettable event into something magnificently wonderful.
Unless you were living under a rock this weekend, I'm sure you saw or heard that Michael Phelps is the greatest Olympic Champion of all time. NBC's already hawking products with his new title. Its almost as tempting as a late-night infomercial to order one, and I can't even figure out if it is going to be a video or book. Though I'm thinking that whatever it is it will be in DVD format. No one likes to read, right? So in honor of Phelps's eight gold medals in one Olympics, I decided he's worthy of his very own post instead of being lumped in with the rest of the weekend's adventures. Aside from the nail-biting races, here's what I thought was cool:
I can't say for sure that the fact that there's nothing live (and a semi-final of beach volleyball does not count at all) is making my enthusiasm for the Olympics wane ever so slightly, but given that some of my favorite sports were airing last night and I wasn't screaming at the TV and cheering along, I'd say that it makes a big difference. Especially if, for instance, you are looking up how to spell a Jamaican athlete's name and just happen to see a big screaming news story that says "Nastia Liukin upset on uneven bars," like I was yesterday. This crap should have spoiler alerts in big letters. Huge. (Speaking of which, during the course of writing this post and trying to figure out how to properly spell the names of pole vaulters, I came across the results of tonight's Olympic balance beam competition. Fan-freakin'-tastic. I'm so angry right now. Not that I'm unhappy with the results, I'm just irritated to know. This is just like the Nagano Olympics and the Tara Lipinski thing all over again. Ugh.) I know it has technically been completed and therefore is not a spoiler, but I didn't have any opportunity to see it on any of the twelve channels playing Olympics all day, every day at my desk, so therefore, it is spoiler alert-worthy. So I spent the entire night basically watching the uneven bars just waiting to see the big judging scandal that has rocked the Olympic world this week.
Don't get me wrong, I have not been following the Olympics closely like some people (ahem, cough cough, Angel) around here. Like Mindy, I've been all but boycotting them. I find sports in general to be boring and self congratulatory, and except for ogling the hot bods of the men's swimming team, the Olympics interest me only insofar as they are cause for the Animal Planet to create the Puppy Games. But I found myself, through no fault of my own, stuck watching a snippet of the women's beach volleyball match last night. Can I tell you what I learned?
I've come to accept that in-between watching exciting sporting events I'll have to suffer through Mary Carillo's random adventures in China and a slew of sob stories, but last night pushed me over the edge. They devoted way too long to sprinter Sanya Richards and her relationship with soon-to-be husband Aaron Ross. He's an NFL star. She's a track star. He won a Super Bowl ring. She wears a massive engagement ring. It was all staged and came across very scripted, and then there was this ridiculous faux race at the end where there was some trash talk and then she left him in the dust... literally. They had time to put in dust as a special effect for this segment. Annoying? Yes. Pointless? Yes. Especially considering that while she was a favorite to win her 400m race, she ended up coming in third place. Still a medal, but not the color she wanted, or the one that we were led to believe was hers for the taking. I wonder if she could have moved faster if she left the giant ring in her locker.
Our vloggers, Beth and Val, tackle the tough topic of which Olympians stand a chance at making a decent salary once all the medal hype and hubbub is over. Does it have any thing to do with the wearing of shoes? They seem to think so. They also weigh in on the artistry (or lack thereof) in gymnastics. Check out the video below.
The big deal from last night is that Nastia (pronounced Nah-stee-ah, not Nasty-ah, like I first thought. Stupid name.) Liukin won the women's gymnastics all around gold medal. Apparently she's only the third American woman to do this... blah... blah... blah. I'm happy for her (how could I not like someone who was in Stick It?). I actually think she's a pretty great gymnast and her balance beam performance during the team competition really wowed me. But I feel bad for Shawn Johnson. Not because she got the silver medal. But just because they did this whole segment on her earlier in the evening where it was about how she copes with the hype and the product-placements and the adoration of her hometown (if you go to the museum in Des Moines you can see all sorts of Shawn memorabilia. And the local fair even made a statue of her out of butter. Golden butter, I bet.) She seemed pretty down to earth about it all, but the pressure must be enormous when like everything you see about the team USA gymnastics is about her and how she'll do. So she came in second. Not such a bad thing at all. Second in the world is damned good. But now she's going to have to answer a billion interviewers who want to know if she cracked under the pressure, if she hates Nastia, if she considers herself a failure. However, she got a shout out from Mary Lou Retton from the stands after she nailed her floor routine, so that's something to be excited about.
Here are the highlights from yesterday. (I was going to come up with a more clever intro, and theme, but I was up past 2 AM watching the men's gymnastics all-around final and that wasn't even me just padding on my DVR. That was for real. So I'm exhausted and lacking in cleverness. So highlights it is.)
She's Out! She's In! We're Just Really Excited!
I absolutely adore the unnatural enthusiasm of the announcers. When viewing last night's Women's 100 Freestyle, favorite Australian Lisbeth Trickett was seemingly shut out of the competition (someone in the second semifinal crushed her time) and the sideline guys just went wild. Shouting, "Trickett is out! Trickett is out!" repeatedly in utter disbelief. But then about the fourth time they said this, the winner of the second race, Jaiying Pang was disqualified and somehow Trickett was back in. They were slightly more subdued. "Trickett is in," just doesn't have the same ring to it.
So I'm far from the only person excited the the Olympics are starting tomorrow night, but around here in the TWoP offices I'm pretty much a rarity. My copy of Time with its helpful article on the 100 athletes to watch has garnered me a few quizzical looks, and I quickly have to change the subject to "Hey, did you see what happened on Project Runway last night?" in order to stop them from thinking that I've suddenly turned into a sports obsessed freak. However, I think there are quite a number or events (which I'll be babbling about annoyingly ad nauseam for the next two and half weeks) that I think might actually appeal to my fellow TV junkies out there. While nothing will be quite as fun as The Office's Olympics... this might keep you entertained for a few days at least.
So apparently there's this thing called the "Olympics" happening right now in some place called "Beijing." I dunno, that's what they tell me. I've been trying to avoid all the hoopla, so certainly all the cutesy human-interest/spoof segments that The Today Show regulars have been doing have been no more than a blip on my radar. But today, you guys? My roommate hollered for me and made me watch this amazing footage of Matt Lauer and Al Roker doing rhythmic gymnastics -- you know, the ribbon dancing thing -- and I couldn't help it! I found it adorable. I mean in addition to the fact that I got to ogle Lauer in a Lycra body stocking (good morning!) there was the sheer darlingness of watching these two shuffle daintily around on tippy-toe, making pretty designs in the air with their pretty ribbons like pretty little gymnasts of love! Oh, and wait til you get to 2:10 -- we've got a cameo from a supercilious-looking Brian "Yumtown" Williams! Ahhhh, I can't handle it! It's too much! It's almost as amazing as Spaghetti Cat! No, it's not. But it's still rad! Watch it and squeal with glee after the jump.