Month: August 2008 (Page 1 of 2)

Whoa

Something very disappointing happened while my attentions were dominated by the Olympics: the Royals completely went into the tank. It wasn’t that long ago that they had a four game lead on the Indians for fourth place, and Detroit wasn’t too far ahead in third. Keep things going, and there was a chance for 75 wins and a third place finish, a perfect building block for next year and beyond. Instead, they’ve lost 15 of 18, have sustained some crippling injuries, and now look poised to continue the tradition of anti-excellence the franchise has forged over the past 20 years. <a href=”http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/standings/index.jsp?ymd=20080804″>A month ago</a>, nine teams had a worse record than the R’s. <a href=”http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/standings/index.jsp?ymd=20080827″>Today, only three do</a>. And that Guillen signing is looking more and more like a waste. Bummer.

 

Olympic Wrap Up

Sigh. The Olympics are over. What the hell do I do now? Actually, the Olympics didn’t dominate my time this year the way they did four years ago. But I had a two-week-old baby then and we just kind of sat on the couch for about 20 hours a day anyway. That year, the Olympics were a God-send. This year, once the girls watched their fill of morning TV, rather than switch to the games, I was trying to get them outside to do something fun and active.

But there is always a moment of sadness when the flame is extinguished and I realize it’s going to be another four years before we get to do this again. So let’s get into some rambling, quasi-insightful thoughts, shall we?

Invade Jamaica now! Come on, McCain. Quit rattling your sword at Russia and focus on the real enemy.

Watching the replays of Usain Bolt’s runs over the weekend, I had two more thoughts about the phenom. First, he’s so ridiculously big, it looks like a man running against kids, or a robot running against humans. Or, more likely, it looked like a video game where you can control who is in the race, taking people who would never run against each other and putting them in the same race for comic effect. Second, I wonder how many of the guys he blew away had ever trailed by that much in a race before. Chances are a lot of them rarely lost a race growing up, and once they became pros, they probably only lost races by a matter of inches. I’m pretty sure none of his competitors in the finals of the 100 &amp; 200 had ever been ten meters behind an opponent. What does that do to your confidence?

So now the question is how does he impact the sport. I had always heard that really tall people can’t run sprints because the biomechanics of the run are too difficult once you get past 6’2” or so. Is he literally a freak, and you can’t just start plugging 6’5” guys into the sprints and wait for records to fall? Or, after watching him, is it realistic for coaches to take a second look at guys who are taller than the historical ideal for sprinters?

So NBC kind of sucked last week, especially over the final few days of the games. Friday night might have been the worst night of coverage in the history of the games. With fewer events going on, they really had to pad things in primetime. Which made it triply maddening that they were showing many events on a 12-hour delay. Do we really have to wait until 10:30 Eastern to watch the men’s 400m final when no other big events are going on and we’ve known the result for 15 hours?

I know NBC can’t win. If they do show everything live, that cuts into their ad rates in primetime. Even if they can boost their daytime ad rates, and then get more than an average night for a primetime review of the day’s events, I’m guessing that comes up short of what they were charging for primetime ad spots last week. But in a world of constantly updated sports and news websites, YouTube clips from other countries, and satellite coverage from the CBC, these long delays seem silly. There has to be a better way.

There are rumors floating around that ESPN may bid for the next set of broadcasting rights, which would cover the 2014 winter and 2016 summer games. As much as I loathe the ESPN marketing machine and its merry band of self-important, self-promoting blowhards, you know they would turn their family of networks over to the games. We’d probably see just about every event live and then again on tape delay if the games’ location warranted. They’d still find a way to screw things up, mostly by slapping their label all over the games (like how the NBA Finals this year were always listed under “ESPN” rather than “NBA” on their ticker), but I think the raw coverage would be better than NBC has done.

Why was Ato Boldin doing track coverage for NBC and Michael Johnson for the BBC? Did Johnson’s managerial relationship with Jeremy Wariner keep NBC from bringing him in? Not that Boldin was bad, but just odd that one of the greatest American sprinters ever was working for a British network, and the American network was using a Caribbean native.

So the bar is high for new shows NBC promotes during the games, at least for me. They pushed <a href=”http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0247091/”>Ed</a> really hard during the 2000 games, and once they shifted it from Sundays to Wednesdays and I started watching, it became my favorite show. But of this year’s batch of shows, the <a href=”http://www.nbc.com/Kath_and_Kim/”>Molly Shannon</a> show is the only one that holds much intrigue for me. The new <a href=”http://www.nbc.com/Knight_Rider/”>Knight Rider</a> is a Mustang? Something ain’t right. New Camaros are right around the corner, just plug one of those into the old T.A. slot. I might give the show a shot, because I’m a child of the 80s and there’s a small part of me that still wishes it was 1983.

There was a lot of talk about the U.S.’ failure in track and field. I’m not going to point fingers at other teams, but it is interesting that this “subpar” performance came after U.S. track &amp; field dealt with some serious drug issues following the last Olympics. Might the U.S. have been the cleanest team of the elites this year? Still, hold on to a few dropped batons, have a few other people perform to their expectations, and things would have been about normal. No team that lacked Bolt was going to dominate this year.

Proof that whoever runs track and field at the international / Olympic level is a bunch of idiots: scheduling events so women could not run both the 200 and 400 this year. Anything that kept Allyson Felix from getting more track time is a bad, bad thing. Along those lines, the U.S. women’s 4×400 team was pretty foxy.

Beyond Phelps and Bolt, I think the U.S. men’s indoor volleyball team was the story of the games. They could have easily packed it up and gone home after the stabbing that took the life of the coach’s father-in-law and left his mother-in-law injured. Instead, <a href=”http://sports.yahoo.com/olympics/beijing/volleyball/news;_ylt=ArIXOnEhrEQltPtRy0.J0KiVTZd4?slug=ap-vol-us-brazil&amp;prov=ap&amp;type=lgns”>they went out and got the Gold</a>.

How much do you think Beckham got to fly to Beijing, wear a track suit, and kick a ball half-heartedly?

And now, some links I’ve collected this week.

Yahoo’s Dan Wetzel <a href=”http://sports.yahoo.com/olympics/beijing/track_field/news?slug=dw-rogge082108&amp;prov=yhoo&amp;type=lgns”>rightly rips IOC chairman Jacques Rogge</a> for his criticism of Usain Bolt while remaining silent about some real issues surrounding the games. I wonder if Rogge made similar comments about the white, British runner who shook his baton at fellow competitors in a 4×400 heat.

There’s been a lot of discussion about what the proper medal count is: all medals or golds only. I always assumed you counted all medals, since that seemed to follow the Olympic ideal and, you know, they do give out silver and bronzes. I guess that’s just a U.S. thing. <a href=”http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/7576446.stm”>Here are five ways</a> to look at who won what (this came before the final medal count).
Interesting look at <a href=”http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/25/sports/olympics/25nbc.html?em”>how NBC got the schedule tweaked</a> for swimming and gymnastics.

How fast can Usain, or anyone else, go?

And that completes our Olympic coverage. See you in London.

Usain In the Membrane

Usain in the brain!
Sweet baby Jesus.

As I said earlier, my favorite run ever was Michael Johnson’s 200M world record in Atlanta. Second, before this week, was the 4×100 relay in 1992, when the U.S. destroyed the field, Carl Lewis ran away and hid, and Dennis Mitchell went nuts after he handed off to Lewis.* Bolt’s two world records this week are suddenly in the mix. I shudder to think what the Jamaicans are going to do in the 4×100 relay.

Just think how overwhelming the hype would be if Bolt had been born in Atlanta instead of Jamaica.

You know, Usain sounds a little like Hussein. So if he was from the U.S., he would obviously hate America, want the terrorists to win, and prefer for U.S. troops to die in order to advance his personal agenda. I’m just saying…

How about NBC going commercial-free for the women’s beach volleyball final? Pretty cool. May-Treanor and Walsh are awesome. But, come on, you were all waiting for an ass-slap at the end of the match.

“Tian Jia likes some drama in her matches.” I enjoyed that line.

Sadly, with the men’s beach tournament ending this morning, that means no more of the best broadcast team in the games: Chris Marlowe and Karch Kiraly. They know the sport inside and out (Marlowe played in college, and Karch is of course one of the all-time greats), each has a dry sense of humor and know how to properly deploy it, and they do a great job of informing the audience. My favorite Marlowe line of the games came in the U.S. match with the weird Swiss team. As the psycho Swiss was preening after a win, Marlowe said, without emotion, “Look at me. I’m #1. I am the man.” Pitch perfect so it was right in the middle of being silly and being critical of the player’s actions.

Who knew Karch babysat Misty May when she was little? Thank you, <a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karch_Kiraly”>Wikipedia</a>!

The sad thing about the rise of beach volleyball is that indoor volleyball has been buried. And the U.S. is doing well in both men’s and women’s indoor volleyball this year. If you’re my age, you remember the epic U.S. – U.S.S.R. volleyball battles in the 80s.

At some point, we’ll discuss the rumors that ESPN will be bidding on the 2012 and 2014 Olympics.

/* Sadly <a href=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=818cKDgbUzo&amp;feature=related”>this YouTube vid</a> doesn’t show Mitchell’s full reaction. After he hands off to Lewis, Mitchell spreads his arms, yells at Lewis to go, and after a quick look at the competition, he lets out a big “WHOOOO!” of disbelief. It’s as if he was telling everyone else that the race was over. I remember being at a party watching this race and all the guys screaming and yelling. Damn, that was a great relay team.

Mini-Olympic Notebook

Trying to keep these things shorter.

I’ve never been a gymnastics guy, and this year has reinforced the wisdom of that decision. Not that I understood the scoring before, but it’s even worse this year. I’ll be the one millionth person to ask, how can you fall down on your dismount and still win a gold medal?

My favorite technical aspect of the Olympics might be the curve cam in the long sprints. Especially in the 200, when the runners are flying around the turn from the start, it feels like they’re running right into your living room.

Speaking of the 200, how would you like to be Shawn Crawford? Defending gold medalist, still one of the fastest runners in the world, yet you’re basically an afterthought since we’re now living in Usain Bolt’s world.

There seems to be some nastiness in the 400M rivalry between Jeremy Wariner and LeShawn Merritt. They both looked good in the semis, but Wariner looked like he had about two gears left. Michael Johnson might lose two world records this week.

Something tells me Lolo Jones is still going to get some big endorsements and become one of the most known members of the U.S. track team despite her stumble in the 100M hurdles. Just a hunch, and it’s not just because of her excellent name.

At least NBC gave the hurdles winner, Dawn Harper, a little love. We got about five minutes of Lolo replays before they got around to giving her teammate some credit for getting the gold.

Olympics Notebook

I’ll try to do these more often this week, to avoid 1000+ words of rambling.

I forgot to mention in my first Olympics Notebook that I’m thrilled with NBC’s coverage in one big way: we have five channels of high definition coverage. S. laughed at me on the night of the opening ceremonies when I got terribly excited when I saw there were four new channels. Of course, two are fairly limited in what they show, mostly basketball and soccer. Another is in Mandarin. And the final added feed is in Korean. Those last two are fun to watch for about three minutes. But I’m getting a lot of three minutes glimpses of table tennis and team handball.

Big props to NBC and the organizers of the games for setting up swimming so it could be aired in prime time in the States. In fact, it’s been an interested few days in coverage. Early last week, the glamor events were on between 10 and 11 Eastern. As the week progressed, those events slowly slid back, moving past midnight in many cases. This 12 hour time difference isn’t so bad!

Then, all of a sudden on Sunday when track starts, everything is back to a long delay, with events taking place in the evening in Beijing delayed roughly 12 hours for prime time in the U.S. The 100 meter heats and finals, one of the biggest events in the Olympics, not live in the U.S.? Doesn’t seem right.

The delay kind of makes sense, since they have to squeeze a lot more events into the stadium each day than they had to do at the aquatics center. But it does feel a little bait and switchy to me. Shame on me for thinking week #2 would follow the same format as week #1.

It’s also interesting to see the other ways in which the U.S. dominates the games from a cultural perspective. Just about every nation has its name across uniforms in English. China and Russia are the most obvious examples, since they use completely different alphabets (or in China’s case, no alphabet at all as Brian Williams kept reminding us in the opening ceremonies). Also, the number of athletes who train in the States is amazing. It seems like most swimmers at least went to college in the U.S. Lots of runners and gymnasts also train in the U.S. Interesting, since most Olympic sports aren’t a big deal from a spectator perspective in the U.S.

Just further proof that the Olympics should always be in the Western Hemisphere.

Oh, and I think there should be Olympics, or some other huge event, every August. Something major to take up two weeks in that long run when baseball is fading and football doesn’t matter yet.

Obviously, Michael Phelps getting his eight golds was amazing, especially the 100 butterfly final. I’m the 800,000th person to say this, but I still don’t understand how he won that. Eight medals alone marked these as the Phelps games, but two unreal finishes in his eight finals made sure that these games will be remembered for what he did.

As outstanding as he was, I had to wonder why he wasn’t swimming in the sport’s glamor event, the 100 free. I know it’s not his specialty, but he is good enough at it to swim the relay. I wonder if, in the absence of the IM in 2012, if he’ll give the 100 free a shot.

Speaking of medleys, I propose a Choose Your Own Stroke medley. Four laps and you get to pick what order you do them in. Throw your best leg out first to get a lead. Or save it until the end to come back. Introduce some strategy into the events! Can’t you just hear Dan Hicks and Rowdy Gaines screaming, “Phelps goes to the fly! He never uses it this early!”

I said last week that Phelps would be a dork if he wasn’t a swimmer (of course, I said that with love). Turns out the U.S. men’s gymnastic team is comprised of a bunch of gigantic dorks. “That’s how we do it! That’s how we roll!” Come on, you’re gymnasts!

It always pleases me when I see the Netherlands uniforms. There is something very right about the Dutch using fonts straight out of 1979 that seemed futuristic at the time.

I hope she’s clean, because Dara Torres is a stud.

I miss Gary Hall Jr. and his boxing gloves and robe before the 50 free. That guy was like a villain at Wrestlemania.

Back to track, these may be Phelps’ games, and the 4×100 free and the 100 fly finals may go down as two of the greatest events ever, but Usain Bolt may just have dropped the signature performance on these events when he destroyed the field in the 100M final. The greatest individual track performance I’ve ever seen was when Michael Johnson dropped his 19.32 in Atlanta. Bolt’s performance Sunday, when he cruised to the finish, was even better than that. I have a feeling 19.32 is going to get wiped off the boards Wednesday. That guy is a freak of nature and completely amazing.

Speaking of Jamaica, four years ago I, somewhat facetiously, suggested that the U.S. start invading the island nations that are out-running us on the track. The way Jamaica worked us over in the 100 meter finals on both the men’s and women’s side, we need to get the carriers headed towards Kingston right away.

At least the Jamaican sprinters all seem cool and a lot of fun. I loved hearing Shelly-Ann Fraser after she won the gold. Beautiful accent.

Man, Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh are fun to watch. And I don’t mean anything suggestive by that. Those girls can hammer the ball. Volleyball was the only sport I was ever any good at, and I miss being able to crush the ball in co-ed leagues at my former employer’s gym. I may have to rent Side Out next week.

Lovely. We’re already getting swamped by Manning Brother commercials.

Getting Ready

With seven weeks to go, we’re finally cranking up the baby preparations. Of course, when you already have two girls, there isn’t that much original preparation to do. We moved the crib back up to newborn level today. We moved all of C.’s clothes out of that room and into her current room as well. Sometime this week, we’ll start pulling out all the infant clothes and restocking the dresser. We officially have a nursery again.

That means we’ll have some Pampers in the house again soon, as well. Call me crazy, but I love the way Pampers, at least the newborn sizes, smell.* Our Costco Huggies we use beginning at size #2 have no smell.

Yesterday, we shifted all the car seats around, including putting M. into a booster seat. She was very excited about that. She thinks she’s pretty hot shit these days: four years old, hitting preschool three days a week in the fall, sitting in a booster seat. Look out world!

We put some thought into how to organize things in the van. For now, it seems to make the most sense to put both M. and C. all the way in the back of the van, remove one of the center seats for easier access, and then save the open middle seat for baby girl. Although C. is still sitting in the same car seat as before, she’s also excited to be sitting in a whole new part of the van.

Along with the physical preparation comes the mental preparation. I’ve just realized over the past few days that things are going to change for us big time again. I think I discounted how disruptive the first few weeks with even the healthiest of babies can be because I’ve been through it twice. Suddenly I’m like, “Oh yeah, S. and I are going to be fried for awhile and M. and C. won’t understand or sympathize with our situation.” If Home Girl #3 will just sleep, we’ll figure out the rest.

One thing that should help us is the fact there are two big sisters this time. I’ve kind of suppressed the memories, but M. wasn’t super happy to have a baby sister during C.’s first three months. Jealousy reared its ugly, two-year-old head quite a few times during those days. Now, we’re hopeful that having a big sister around will pad C.’s adjustment, and together they’ll keep each other occupied and ease the disruption. Hopeful being the key word.

Even with the issues we’ve had with C.’s issues at nighttime, we’ve settled into some pretty comfortable patterns this summer. We’re far from the ideal, but patterns help you get through the day with a little sanity. That’s the scariest part of adding another kid: those patterns are all going to get destroyed for awhile.

/* Before they’ve been soiled, of course.

All Time Favorite Songs, 10-1

10 “Paid In Full” – Eric B. &amp; Rakim, 1987.
I’ve told this story before. In the fall of my year in the Bay Area, I discovered a hip-hop show on Stanford’s campus radio station, KZSU. The only problem was we lived way across the Bay, and I could only pick the show up on a small, portable radio that had a three foot antenna. So, to record the shows, I had to run a cord to an old-school tape recorder (this was 1987, so it wasn’t so old school at the time). That left me with a fuzzy, mono tape of the latest songs from New York and L.A. One Sunday I heard “Paid in Full,” listened to it about a million times, and bought said album a couple weeks later. Somehow I was one of the first students at San Leandro High School to be hip to Eric B. &amp; Rakim, and, in a cruel twist of fate, became very popular in my final weeks at the school as cool guys asked me either to dub a copy for them, or if they could borrow it for a night to make their own copy. Every time I hear this, I think of my boy Charles Terrell from Oak-town and hope that the last 20 years have treated him well.

9 “How Soon Is Now?” – The Smiths, 1984.
I went back-and-forth between this and The Smiths’ “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out,” many times. While both are typical Morrissey songs about being an awkward outsider, unsure of your place in the world, “Light” almost has an upbeat feel to it. It’s more of a “Life sucks but it doesn’t suck quite as much because I’m with you” song. “How Soon Is Now?” though, is all gloom and doom. It’s one of the most depressing songs ever, in fact. Throw in the brilliant cover of “Light” by Neil Finn and Friends, and I thought it had won the battle.

But, as good as “Light” is, “How Soon Is Now” is completely unforgettable. Even if you can’t totally sympathize with Morrissey’s plight, chances are at some point when you’ve been down about your romantic life and heard this song, the line below just destroyed you for a moment or two. And Johnny Marr’s guitar? Effingbrilliant.

8 “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)” – Pete Rock &amp; C.L. Smooth 1992.
1992 was a watershed year in music. Old genres were being pushed aside as new ones developed and radio was a fascinating mix of styles as program directors and listeners attempted to figure out what was what. I will always look back on that summer fondly, as my personal soundtrack featured hip-hop (Arrested Development among others), R&amp;B (Mary J. Blige), the emerging grunge sound (Pearl Jam), alt rock (R.E.M., Toad the Wet Sprocket, The Cure), and this song.

It’s strength comes from both its content (a tribute to a fallen friend, a biographical sketch, a tribute to those who survive rough times and strive to make their lives better) and its production. It is built around a wonderful, haunting, looped sample from Tom Scott’s “Today.” Throw in a hip-hop beat and you have one of the most unforgettable melodies of the 90s. I owned (I may still own it for that matter) the cassette single for “T.R.O.Y.” and kept it in my vehicle until just a few years ago, when we transitioned to two cars without cassette players. It was a comfort to always have it there, ready to pop in when radio or CDs let me down.

7 “True Faith” – New Order, 1987.
This is one of the few classic, 80s alternative rock songs that I loved in its time, rather than learning to appreciate it later when my musical tastes shifted. The driving bassline and that crazy ass video had a lot to do with it.

At first glance, this song is about growing up and growing apart. Further research shows, however, that Bernard Sumner was in fact singing about heroin abuse. A skittish record company forced him to change one key lyric, although in concert he always sang his original line. “Now that we’ve grown up together, they’re afraid of what they see,” was intended to be “Now that we’ve grown up together, they’re all taking drugs with me.” Doesn’t seem like a big deal now but, hey, it was 1987.

“True Faith” serves as a transition point in British music, from the pop/synthesizer sound of the 80s to the more guitar-driven sound that would emerge from Manchester when The Stone Roses burst on the scene two years later.

6 “Clampdown” – The Clash, 1979.
I had a hard time picking a Clash song. So many of their songs share common themes and sounds that it can be difficult to separate them. But I’ve always admired the perspective of this song, one of the few moments when The Clash’s bluster and political agenda were focused on an issue they actually understood and could have an impact on: the rise of the racist, far right in Britain.

5 “Corduroy” – Pearl Jam, 1994.
I would imagine people react to this song based on their like or dislike for Pearl Jam. The haters will say, “That’s when Eddie’s whining got out of hand and I tuned them out.” The fans point to this as the moment that the band decided to claim control of their career – and in turn their lives – and damn the consequences. So, it’s a little ironic that, aside from all the classic singles off their first album, this was one of their biggest and most successful singles.

Named for the fashion line knock offs of the thrift store jacket Eddie Vedder wore in the video for “Jeremy,” this was indeed when the band put the brakes on the hype machine and refused to carry the burden of Biggest Band In The World. Vitalogy is their darkest, angriest album, and this song was its center-point.

4 “And Your Bird Can Sing” – The Beatles, 1966.
There are several acts in my list for which it was difficult to narrow their body of work down to a single song. But the Beatles? It was damn near impossible. I have 25 Beatles songs in my iTunes library rated as five stars. How do you not pick “Yesterday”? Or “Tomorrow Never Knows”? Or “Strawberry Fields Forever”? Or “A Day In The Life”? And so on. Perhaps it was a bit easier for me, as I only became a Beatles fan within the last 6-7 years, so I’ve been able to take all their music in during a relatively brief time span, putting everything on equal ground, more or less.

All those, and several others, are fine choices. But this song always sticks out for its simplicity, its place in the band’s history (side one of Revolver, the sweet spot of their career), and the sense of playfulness and life in it. This is just a fun song that you want to hear over-and-over again.

3 “One” – U2, 1992.
Here’s where we had my last second shake-up. For years I’ve struggled to pick my favorite U2 song, always wavering between “One” and “Bad.” For most of the past two months, I’ve had “Bad” slotted into my top five. Then, suddenly, a week ago, I changed my mind. I’m not really sure why, as “Bad” is still brilliant. Perhaps it is because it has more ambiguous meanings, and thus more difficult to relate to. Perhaps it’s because Bono has said it’s about a friend who was a heroin user, something I thankfully haven’t experienced.

“One,” on the other hand, is more direct. If you’ve been through tough romantic times, chances are you can find something in this song that hits close to home (I’m sensing a theme in the countdown). Bono has often struggled as a lyricist, at times getting his message across more through sound than words. This has to be one of his finest efforts, though.

And then there is the new, post 9/11 meaning of the song. Following the attacks, U2 ended their encores on the Elevation Tour with a lengthy tribute to those who had died. Covering “One,” “Peace On Earth,” and “Walk On,” (at least when I saw them in Kansas City), the names of all who had died that day rolled on the screen behind the band. It had only been two months, and feelings were still raw, but it was the most emotional moment I can remember at a concert. In fact, for a long time after the concert, my wife couldn’t listen to “One” because of that new connection.

2 “Karma Police” – Radiohead, 1997.
You may remember my countdown of my five favorite albums about a year ago. You know, the one I never completed by writing up <em>London Calling</em>. It turned out, as I listened to <em>London Calling</em> for a couple weeks after listening to <em>OK Computer</em> for a similar amount of time, I realized I liked <em>OK Computer</em> more. This song is one of the reasons.

On an album about how technology and corporations and consumerism crush the individual, this was the center-piece: an Orwellian warning of what could happen to those who dare to resist a system run amok. It also serves as a bookend to the 90s, ending what “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and <em>Nevermind</em> began.

The title is menacing enough. When you hear Thom Yorke sneer the lines below, it’s even more chilling.

1 “Don’t Dream It’s Over” – Crowded House, 1987.
Neil Finn’s best songs are those that put his John Lennon influences right out in front: Love songs that speak not just of being in love, but also acknowledge that we fail each other in ways big and small each day. Yet to be truly in love, you accept and move past those missteps. This is, inarguably, his finest effort in that vein.

Music is important to me, and my favorite songs often serve as the soundtrack to parts of my life. This always takes me back to the spring of 1987, when I was struggling to fit in at my new school in California. The melancholy side of the song resonated with a 15-year-old who was lonely and having a hard time finding a social circle to fit into. At the same time, the idea of persevering through troubled times Finn also sang of helped me to keep trying to make friends and find my way. And 21 years later, I still think that single-beat pause in the final chorus is brilliant.

Oh Good Grief

I can’t believe that between the Olympics, the phenomenal weather, etc. I’ve forgotten to share some very important news: we’ve scheduled the c-section. If she doesn’t arrive sooner, Baby Girl Brannan #3 will arrive on October 3, sometime shortly after 10 AM.

All continues to look well inside the Baby Mama. The Baby Mama herself is a bit tired and uncomfortable. But that comes with working as much as she’s worked the past couple weeks. After Friday, she only works once the rest of the month, so she’ll have some time to rest.

The downside to her schedule is that she works the entire week before her c-section date. I’m wondering if I might get a call from her that week saying she’ll be staying at the hospital and perhaps I should come join her. I hope not, but being on your feet all day does odd things to women who are 38 weeks pregnant.

So, mark your calendars in pencil I guess.

Olympic Notebook

The first of what should be many Olympic Notes entries over the next couple weeks.

I looked back at the archives of my original blog today to skim through my thoughts on the 2004 games. I may have to pick out a few gems to share with you during this year’s games.

I understand I have a problem of having a problem with people who have problems pronouncing foreign words, especially in the two languages I’ve studied. Even setting that aside, I was stunned at how many names of countries Bob Costas mispronounced Friday during the opening ceremonies. Apparently he suffers from that East Coast problem of refusing to pronounce most Spanish words the proper way.

My biggest problem with NBC’s coverage, though, is their apparent poor job of getting the Chinese to put Dan Hicks and Rowdy Gaines in position to see the swimming pool very well. They’ve miscalled about every close race so far. I remember them being pretty good in the past, so I’m assuming the problems are because of their position.

I think <a href=”http://olympics.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/08/11/an-upset-proves-an-announcer-wrong/”>this take</a> is kind of dumb, though. Gaines might have bought a little too much into the French, but it’s not like there was no basis for picking them. Pretty much everyone figured this would be Phelps’ biggest relay challenge of the games because of the French. So sure, he made the wrong pre-race call, but it’s not like it’s that big of a deal. It might have even made the drama that much better.

Am I the only one who, each time I hear an athlete or team described as “out of nowhere” or their “rapid rise” to the top, assumes drugs are involved?

Along those lines, do you think there are whispers in France and Australia about Jason Lezak’s ability to swim like that at the age of 32? I’m pretty sure that would be a bigger story here if it was a 32-year-old Frenchie who chased down and out-touched Michael Phelps.

Which is a perfect segue to Dara Torres. I want to believe, I really do. And I probably buy into her story about 90%. But too much has happened to allow me to fully buy into her story, or any other exceptional story for that matter. I think it’s easier to assume that everyone is on something, even someone like her who has volunteered to be tested constantly through her training. Her story is pretty kick ass, clean or not, though. Is there anything on her body that isn’t pure muscle?

Each time I see Katie Hoff, I want to tell her to loosen up the goggles a bit. She always has those big, red circles on her forehead before races.

I wouldn’t be upset if Stephanie Rice won a lot more races, even if she is an Aussie.

I’m enjoying all the indie rock that the ad agencies are offering up during commercial breaks. So far, I’ve noted Death Cab For Cutie, The Decembrists, Brandi Carlile, Sia, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Sea Wolf, and Silversun Pickups.

I’m not enjoying political ads during the games, even from candidates I support. You know I’m an absolutist when it comes to the First Amendment. Unless you’re saying that someone should be killed or harmed, I think you have the right to say just about anything as long as you’re willing to face the consequences of your speech. But I would move that we suspend that right, at least for politicians, during the Olympics. Send them off to some island, institute a full media black out, and let us all be on the same team for two weeks.

W. seemed to be enjoying himself in China, though. A friend suggested he has senioritis. I think that’s a valid assessment.

Al Trautwig really annoys me.

You know why I like Michael Phelps so much? If you took away his athletic ability, he’d be a big dork. My brother-in-law and I decided the other night that he’d probably have been in the chess club in high school if he hadn’t been a swimmer. Now that most swimmers look like strong safeties, and if you took away their athletic abilities they’d still be Mr. Popular, it’s kind of refreshing that a geek is amongst them.

I could care less about tennis at the Olympics. It’s a made-up competition to get a bunch of superstars in in the games. Even if Rafa and Federer end up playing for Gold, it’s going to be a footnote to their French Open and Wimbledon battles, and hopefully their U.S. Open match.

Did NBC really pull out their old NBA music for Team USA’s game Sunday? I guess David Stern secured some kind of waiver for the traditional Olympic theme. If you’re going to do that, why didn’t they bring back Marv Albert, too?

I usually don’t dig on gymnastics, but tonight’s men’s competition has been great, with the plucky U.S. team hanging in there. Of course, it is now midnight eastern and they still have two rotations to go. I think I’m off to bed and will check results in the morning. I move the Olympics always be in the Western Hemisphere.

Shall We Play A Game?

The Olympics kind of snuck up on me. All kinds of blog-worthy material there, so look for lots of that stuff over the next couple weeks.

For now, I found <a href=”http://www.wired.com/entertainment/hollywood/magazine/16-08/ff_wargames?currentPage=1″>this on Wired’s website</a> and thought it required sharing. Even if you’re not a Geek, I bet you have a fond place in your heart for WarGames. It’s one of my favorite 80s movies and could have been a turning point in my life. I’m pretty sure I wanted to be Matthew Broderick for a significant portion of 1983. If I had just got that Apple //e I was begging my mom for, I might be coding somewhere on the West Coast right now.

But I didn’t, so I’m not and instead I can share fun things like this with you. Especially interesting is the John Lennon angle.

« Older posts

© 2024 D's Notebook

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑