In the run-up to the Olympics, there was much hype about Ryan Seacrest joining the broadcast team and bringing something new to the coverage. He hasn't. But in a surprise twist, the person who has conducted interesting interviews has been John McEnroe. Who would have expected that the former temperamental tennis pro would have such a knack for interviewing Olympians?
While I love all Olympic sports, I have to admit that ever since I was a little girl, I've loved figure skating (yeah, shocker). However, I've never really succumbed to the allure of ice dancing. It's to figure skating what trampolining is to gymnastics. It's sort of in the same family of sport, but doesn't seem quite as challenging (not that I could do any of the aforementioned without breaking my neck). Nevertheless, I've ended up watching a lot of it this week because the network executives seem to think that it merits a lion's share of primetime real estate. And while I'm sure it has its fans, I'd much rather be watching luge or any of the eight other sports that barely get covered.
This goes against everything I've complained about for the last two weeks, but I actually kind of enjoyed watching beach volleyball last night. Well, at least the final set. The American team, Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser (who have stupid nicknames like the Professor and the Thin Beast) totally dominated the last round and shut out the poor Brazilian guys. It was intense and kind of awesome. I didn't even mind watching the live broadcast until 12:10 in the morning. That is, until Bob Costas popped up to tell me that because the game went so long, our promised coverage of the decathlon (one of the most impressive feats in the Olympics) was getting jettisoned to the wee hours of the morning. But you know, that's how they roll. Two hours of track and field (just sprinting and hurdles), an hour of beach volleyball, an hour of diving and ten minutes of BMX racing, no time for the 20 odd other sports happening. Would it kill them to put in a 20 minute highlight reel of the events on a given day? MSNBC does this update thing, but it is at like 5 in the afternoon when I don't have time to pay attention. A primetime debriefing would be wonderful. Even if they aired it at midnight as a wrap up. It's really too late to do anything about it now, but if they are looking for ideas for the future 2012, that's my suggestion.
Is there a person in the country who doesn't know about Michael Phelps and his awesome achievement yet? Probably not. Some aren't as enthusiastic about the geeky 23-year-old and his misguided fashion sense, but that's just part of being in the spotlight. I'm sure there will be more people picking on his dorky behavior. And then there are others who think he can do no wrong (people other than me... of course). In the great tradition of the Chuck Norris facts (a site dedicated to the man, myth and legend) comes Michael Phelps facts (these people have way too much time on their hands... and clearly so do I since I've been reading their site). My favorite "fact" of the moment is: "Ancient Greeks used to sacrifice 100 cows to Poseidon who would then turn around and sacrifice them to Michael Phelps." Impressive. I'm wasting way too much time laughing at these.
I've never been one to sit and watch sports all weekend, but despite my busy schedule, I crammed in as much viewing as humanly possible. Is it wrong during a birthday party to want to sneak off inside and catch some rowing? I now kind of get those people who stare at their blackberries when their teams are playing. I've become that girl. And it isn't even like I just wanted to watch the Phelps stuff (which I did a lot of, so much that it merited its own post), or the gymnastics... I found myself unable to have an adult conversation when I saw scull rowing on television. Who will win? Who are these people? Matters not to me. I watched the freakin' women's marathon... and that is long. It is truly a sickness and I'm seriously thankful that this only happens every few years, because I can barely keep up, and soon my friends and family are going catch on to the fact that I always sit facing a television.
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:
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.
I know you think I'm joking when I talk about how much Olympics I watch... but I'm not... here's a sampling of what I did yesterday. It should be mentioned, for the sake of my job, that I was only "half watching" the sports during the day while I was doing other work.
Woke up and at 6:30 turned on my local NBC affiliates to get any highlights (OK, just wanted to rewatch the men's relay)
Got to work about 8:30 (bus was late, and don't think I didn't yell at the driver that I had Olympics to be watching). Turned on the Today show to see what was happening over in Beijing. After watching the gang do a lame job of making noodles with Martin Yan (he can cook, you know), they finally showed an interview with Cullen Jones (member of the aforementioned men's relay). But then I had to sit through an interview with Sarah Brightman about how much fun she had on top of the world at the opening ceremonies. Gag.
So there I was, sitting in a cab on the way to an appointment, watching the little news station on the taxi TV (we've come a long way, baby) when I see this commercial. I literally was like "What? You've got to be freakin' kidding me!" Which earned me kind of a strange look from the driver. Anyway, someone with corporate synergy on the brain has gone one step too far and come up with a commercial that promotes both The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor and the Olympics.
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