I've been struggling the past few days. There's a great void in my life (not really) as I know there probably is in yours, too. I turned on the TV again today with the same eventual disappointment. There wasn't any beach volleyball. Woe is me. Life just isn't fair. There wasn't any regular volleyball, either. And beyond all bounds of belief, there wasn't anybody swimming, either. Not even a ripple of water to be seen anywhere.
And, if that isn't tragic enough, how am I to live without Greco-Roman wrestling? I may have to go to rehab.
Look, don't get me wrong. A great number of athletes performed extremely well. The athletes are to be commended for their dedication and skill. The highlight for me was Jennifer Suhr winning the gold medal. The guts and determination behind eight years of hard work to achieve her goal of Olympic supremacy is marvelous. But beyond that, some of the stuff we saw was a bit silly.
NBC delivered a gazillion hours of Olympic competition and some of those hours actually didn't involve sand, water, a bouncing ball, and 14,000 Brazilian-waxed female athletes. After what was evident in London, Brazilian wax miners must be working overtime to replace the supplies that were consumed by thousands of Olympian women. One of those agonizing shrieks you heard came from another beach volleyballer getting peeled.
Of course, the female beach volleyballers alone had to use the equivalent of all the wax consumed in North America alone. If this years Olympic skin display is any indication of what's to come in four years, we should expect to see women's beach volleyball court bathed in soft lighting with a brass pole played by women in G-strings. Or, we might see the perfect TV Olympic sport; Dana Torres comeback in the new sport of underwater beach volleyball.
Speaking of strange stuff, the opening ceremony had all the flare of an entertainment production by the late Nikita Khruschev of the Soviet Union. If you'll recall the 1960s, much of a Russian fun night at the movies featured a rollicking account of the fall harvest on the steppes of Siberia. It featured hundreds of hot Russian women in black overcoats and babushkas gathering the potato harvest. Of course, the documentary would include some very seductive shots of grain harvester combines as they reaped, threshed, and performed the ever-exciting winnowing process.
The opening ceremony gave us a cast of thousands of volunteer Brits who portrayed the history of England from a bucolic paradise to the grunts and groans of a bustling city of London today. Personally I would have started the English history lesson with the building of Stonehenge where Jeeves the Great Brick Layer directed its construction. ... You there, Theodoric of Gloucestershire, be of good cheer and put that stone right there in that crevice or I'll have you torn to bits by a team of horses. Jolly good.
Thousand of volunteer actors rushed about as smoke stacks arose from the stadium floor to recreate, in miniature, the industrial revolution. What a delight that was.
Who doesn't love a Friday night spent reviewing the history of English industry. There's nothing like smokestacks to arouse one's sensibilities.
In the same vein, the creator behind the ceremony left out a scene from London during the great plague of 1665. Just think of the fun it would be seeing thousands of rats scurrying about, and thousands of Brits dying from flea bites. A scene like that could have fit right in with the joyous salute to the National Healthcare System where we saw hundreds of nurses pushing children around in hospital beds. Delightful.
Then, we shared in the excitement of watching an actor dressed as the Queen jump out of a helicopter and parachute into the stadium as one the Bond girls. After that, I looked over at my wife and shouted, "How can you top that? I'm all a tingle."
Then came the Parade of Nations. Sorry, but I think I'm one of the few that doesn't love a parade. Ten thousand athletes from over 200 nations marched around the track as my wife and I asked each other, "Who's that?" "Why, that's the woman shot putter from Belarus, Olga von Streroidakov. Wow, this two-hour parade on TV is great. And there's the Bulgarian weight lifter Bruno Bulgeallova. Look at that, he's waving to everybody. How nice, And look at the way he marches. Very impressive. I could watch this kind of fun for days."
The next day's first event was a bike race that had to be at least 2000 miles. I can see why people line the road to watch bike racers shoot by at 40 mph. It's free versus paying hundreds of dollars to watch someone lift a barbell.
Then came the fencers. I imagine they are excellent athletes and they're great at what they do. They have to be pretty fit to bounce back and forth dodging a spear. But does anybody other than a carload of Americans actually fence or watch it? I've never met a fencer. Two people are dressed in an electrified suit and eventually they jump toward each other. You can't see the sword strike so a light goes off and someone yells in celebration. That's Olympic fencing.
I've got a substitute sport for fencing in 2016 that would be much more fun; Olympic pillow fighting. You don't need electronics. The contestants pounding each other with pillows is there for everyone to see. You know when a contestant is hit. And determining a winner is easy. The first one to cry is the loser. The contestants could even do it in bikini pajamas. Add a little sand and water and it's Olympic gold. It would also fulfill the new Olympian credo of "flash the flesh."
For the first week, every time I turned on the TV, I saw water with human beings splashing through it in some form or another. In 2016, we'll be seeing a wet version of Brian Williams and the Nightly News. I now know why swimming is pretty much seen once every four years. IT'S BECAUSE IT'S ON FOR 18,000 HOURS FOR A WHOLE WEEK which is sufficient for the next three years, 51 weeks. How many different kinds of races are there? Unless I'm mistaken, there's the 100 meter Freestyle, the 101M freestyle, the 102M freestyle. No wonder Michael Phelps has all those medals. It would be like Usain Bolt winning the 100M dash, the 101M dash, etc.
Did you catch any of the Greco-Roman wrestling? If you did, you now know why those two empires collapsed. While the mighty Greeks and Romans were tailgating and watching their wrestling, they fell asleep and were vanquished by hordes of conquerers who were not fans of Greco-Roman wrestling. Most of the action occurred when the referee would blow his whistle and stop the non-action. Out of frustration he would direct the contestants to, "DO SOMETHING, ANYTHING, PLEASE!"
I'm not a big fan of horses but I was impressed by the dressage event. These horses and their riders would perform a dance routine that involved about 20 different steps. I have a master's degree and I can barely do the fox trot without injuring myself or my wife. These horses never even graduated from high school and can easily embarrass me on the dance floor. And all they do is eat hay and do a ballet while I stumble through life unable to remember how to do one dance.
I saw Andy Murray and Roger Federer receive their gold and silver medal awards for tennis.
Standing on the podium they were holding a bouquet of flowers. Come on, Olympic officials, don't you think two male athletes could be holding a little something more masculine than flowers? How about something like a gold and silver plated jock?
Though they got very little TV exposure, did you see the girls performing in rhythmic gymnastics? They were phenomenal.
They would toss a ball 30 feet into the air, catch a hoop, toss a ribbon, make breakfast, perform surgery, catch the ball with the back of their neck and still maintain a smile. I can't get my car keys out of my pocket without dropping them.
The closing ceremony was another mish-mash of various themes. It probably included a subliminal message that I missed saluting the glory of clotted cream and Princess Anne. I did notice the finish, though. The ceremony was topped off with a rising Phoenix emerging from the Olympic cauldron. Apparently, they invited the Phoenix because Lucifer had a previously scheduled engagement.
Nin Privitera is a Fredonia resident. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org