Monday, August 11, 2008

Witz Pickz: Olympic Grab Bag

The Olympics are here-- meaning that it's that special time when once every four years we all wish we were from a poor, third world country so that it really meant something to us when our country won a medal. Without that desperate, genuine nationalism, I just can't quite get into the Olympics like I'd like to and used to. It's like I heard Patrice O'Neil say on the radio, "The reason why America is great is because we don't need to get excited when our athletes win a medal." Or so I thought-- here are some Olympic moments and realizations:

Women's Volleyball:
I'll tell ya what, I didn't care one bit about the women's volleyball game on Saturday-- right up until I was running next to a Japanese man at the gym who very much did. I was casually watching the game, vaguely hoping the US would win the tight match, and actually had the thought, "I wonder if this guy next to me is way more into the Olympics than I am because he might be from another country (he was walking briskly on a treadmill while wearing a white v-neck t-shirt, which historically, for me, means he's not originally from America.)" My thought was almost immediately confirmed when Japan slammed down a point and he pumped his fist. Yep-- he was into them. I started feeling bad for rooting for the US since he obviously cared more than I did-- and that's when he let out a victorious, shrill laugh when the US team served the ball out of bounds, giving Japan a point. I'm ok with someone cheering for another team, but not when they laugh at my team's mistakes. And while I don't care about volleyball, support all the athletes of all the nations in the olympics, hate Ford commercials, don't care that Budweiser was bought out by a foreign corporation, and rooted against the Yankees in 2001, I was suddenly very into America. It was on.

The US team scored a big point and I smiled. The tension suddenly grew between us, and I got a shot of adrenaline that got me running faster. I watched the screen intently as I ran (which, yeah, made me a little motion sick...), and was genuinely excited when the US rattled off a bunch of points (you see, they subbed this ONE girl for this OTHER girl, and the NEW girl got everyone pumped up and was high fiving and shouting and slapping people, and-- see, I was INTO IT!). When the US scored their last two points, I actually got choked up, and had to fight the nationalistic and comedic urge to turn to the dejected Japanese man, do the fake victory gallop on the treadmill and shout, "Wooo! U.S., baby! Can't do THAT with a Wii remote!" And that's when I remembered the words of my scumbag sophomore year high school history teacher: "Nationalism is the one word to remember when talking about the World Wars-- Nationalism."

Goalies have very little impact in the game of handball.
After an hour of play and over 30 goals scored per team, it is possible to tie.
Handball was probably invented in somebody's basement when they were ten.
The existence of Handball proves that BASEketball might one day be an olympic event.

George W. Bush:
Did anyone else see when the President randomly came on TV to talk with Bob Costas? It came out of nowhere and from what I could tell, just made everyone feel uncomfortable. He had to answer a series of questions that he obviously knew were coming, but still managed to stumble over his words and give answers that were vague and sometimes, not even relevant. At one point, he almost even kind of berrated us/Bob Costas, which was unnerving because Bob Costas is like 4 ft 3 and looks like a turtle. It all felt a lot like in Generation Kill when one of the officers gathers up his group and tells them, "We need to remember who the real enemy is-- The Enemy!"

You'll feel alright watching gymnastics right up until one of your roommates walks in on two of you sitting on the ground, eating bread, and watching fifteen year olds vault. When he says, "What's up guys?" and you have to answer, "Not much, just watching...gymnastics..." Then things don't feel quite as ok.

The Olympics Lose Some of Their Charm...
...when you realize that you will never achieve what these people have achieved by the age of 16-25-- not without cheetah legs at least.

The Olympics Gain Some of Their Charm Back...
...when you remember that the ski jump exists, and muse on how that possibly became a sport. "AAHHHH, I'm falling horribly down a mountain! AHHHH there's a cliff! AAAHHHHHHH I-- landed it and am gonna do this over and over again and get others to join me and then we will compete to see who launches to their near-doom the best.

Heritage Nights:
On a sports related note, I went to a baseball game yesterday and was a little surprised to hear that the SF Giants are having "Heritage Nights," where each night, one of six heritages will be celebrated-- there are only six heritages right? I mean, otherwise, it might be a bit awkward to celebrate them wouldn't it? The nights kick off with Irish Night, Italian Night, and African-American Night AKA Socially Uncomfortable White Minority Night. What's weirder is that they actually compare the nights in the descriptions, saying that Irish Night is, "Arguably the most anticipated and successful special event of the Giants season...The giveaways at this event are always the most sought after..." Then the Italian description is essentially, "If you're Italian, you might like this event." The African-American one informs us that, "The package includes more then just a $20 discounted Friday night ticket with proceeds going to a local community group charity - it also includes a seat in the African American section of the park." WHAT?? The African American section of the park?? Is this the same marketing group that they had in the '50's? "Ride to and from the game on the African American section of the bus! Get drinks from the African American water fountains! Watch your favorite players play in the African American League!" Poorly phrased, Giants, poorly phrased.

After the three big Heritage Nights, they set the bar pretty high, and with Jewish Night on the horizon, they clearly needed to ramp things up-- so what did they do? Welp, they scheduled the upbeat "Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Night" first followed by the always uplifting, "Missing Children's Awareness Night." That'll get people psyched up for the Jewish Heritage Night. Don't worry though-- not only do you get your ticket for the game, you also get, " a unique gift that one of the fans created themselves." Oh yeah, that doesn't sound cheap at all. The SF Giants are a multi-million dollar organization, and they're giving out Suzie Weinstein's homemade "Challah If You're A Giants Fan" t-shirts (which I guess is better then the abstinence themed, "Jesus Is My Third Base Coach" t-shirts. I also wanna get a bumper sticker for the carpool lane that says, "Elijah Rides Shotgun." Any of these religious jokes hittin'?).

"Are you going to Jewish Heritage Night?"
"Why not?"
"Anytime people start rounding up Jews, I get a little nervous..."

The series rounds out with India Independence Day Celebration Night and Latino Heritage Night, but to be honest, not really many jokes there other than some how they could say, "ARRANGE to be there!" or, "More like LatiYES!" but nobody needs those jokes.

Michael Phelps Makes Lance Armstrong Look Like Tanya Harding,

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