August 27, 2008

Olympics Week 2 in review

Sad but true - the Olympics in Beijing have come to an end. I'm so confused - what to do with my time? Is the fall TV season here yet? (Answer - no.) Guess it's time to catch up on my blogging.

My apologies to those of you who might have been hoping I'd continue a day-by-day review of the Olympics, but it became rather daunting! And the sad tragedy that was the U.S. Track team for a couple of days (my word, those relays) got depressing.

That being said, here's a few of my favorite highlights from the second week of competition:

  • In Track, Jamaica became the fastest country in short sprints, which means that we should perhaps rename it "Cheetahland." Just think of the Cheetos endorsement deals!
  • The American team competed in a very exciting round of team jumping in Equestrian, which ended in a tie. Complex rules gave us the silver, but it was really fun. Also, I like any horse named "Sapphire."
  • It may not be as exciting broken up in little broadcast pieces, but the winner of the Decathlon is always a fine specimen of an athlete, and we can be most proud that Bryan Clay took home the gold!
  • In a shocking upset while looking as cute as a button, Australian Matthew Mitcham took home the gold in the 10m Platform Diving final. He was really spectacular, so very happy to win, and he's one of the few openly gay athletes out there. I'm a total fan!
  • Snicker if you will, but I always enjoy watching Rhythmic Gymnastics and Synchronized Swimming, even if it means watching the Russians dominate year after year. It's the closest things we get to dance as sport - how can I resist?
  • The Field events don't get as much attention, but I actually prefer them to Track. So it was a real treat to see American Stephanie Brown Trafton take home gold in the Discus. You go, girl! (Whoops - duck and cover, everyone!)
  • And in a final note to divine male hotness, the U.S. men's Water Polo team had an amazing tournament as the underdog, and should be most proud to win the silver medal in a close game against world superpower Hungary. Can we request more shots of the bench and underwater, please?
The whole shindig ended with a closing ceremony that was pretty lackluster in comparison to the opening, although it had it's moments.

All in all it was an exciting games, and I'm glad that the Chinese were able to put their best collective foot forward. We can only hope that they'll be able to overcome the many other challenges they face when the excitement dies down. In the meantime, perhaps I'll catch up on some NBC video of events I missed, like Handball and Judo.

So that's it for this year! Next up is the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver. Strap on your skis - I'm ready for the Biathlon!

August 17, 2008

Olympics Days 5 through 7 in review

As we entered the weekend in Beijing, the Olympics have really been heating up! Here are some of my favorite highlights:

- In Gymnastics, it was time for the all-around competitions. Amongst the men there was a lot of hopping and falling going on, which allowed Yang Wei of China to sail to a win. But it was the tear-stained joy of Frenchman Benoit Caranobe winning the bronze that made it a fun watch. More fun was to be had watching the women, where it was a clear competition between the two Americans. In the end, the long lines and pleasant artistry of Nastia Liukin clinched the gold, but big ups to Shawn Johnson for being one of the sweetest silver medalists ever.

- I did get to watch some Archery online, and as expected, the Koreans dominated the individual competitions. Note to self: Do not wear a Target shirt when visiting Seoul.

- Finally, NBC broadcast some Badminton on TV! We got to watch the gold medal match in the women's indvidual competition, which was between two Chinese women - Xingfang Xie and Lan Lu. I know you won't believe me, but it was so exciting to watch! Xie was so powerful, defending her title to take the gold. It almost makes me want to pick up a racket and play!

- There were a lot of qualifying rounds in various track & field sports. The first medal handed out was in the men's Shot Put, which unfortunately I didn't see, and I don't see it online. But I can tell you that bearish American Christian Cantwell won the silver, and you can see photos of the competition, or you can read a recap.

- Last night while at a party at Sterfanie's new place, we actually sat and watched the entire women's Marathon, and none of us really know why we did! And with so many women in a pack, we couldn't make out countries or names for a long time, so we gave them our own names. Sadly, party favorite "Pigtails and Knee Socks" did not place. It was Romanian Constantina Tomescu who was running ahead all by herself for the gold, while "Big Sunglasses" edged out "Rat Tail" for the silver.

- The fastest man alive is from Jamaica, as Usain Bolt cruised to the gold medal in the 100m Dash, followed by Richard Thompson of Trinidad & Tobago and American Walter Dix. Yeah, mon!

- But of course the biggest excitement was all happening in Swimming. First up was the men's 100m Free, where Alain Bernard got his revenge on my boyfriend Jason Lezak (who settled for bronze). In the women's 200m Breaststroke, it was 19 year-old American Rebecca Soni who surprised us all for the gold! The American men went 1-2 in the 200m Back with Ryan Lochte edging out Aaron Peirsol. Then Michael Phelps picked up another gold with an easy win in the 200m IM. But it was his unbelievable "by a fingernail" touch at the wall to win the 100m Fly that really had the world in disbelief - gold again! Next up was the "splash and dash" 50m Free for the men, where no one expected Brazilian Cesar Cielo Filho to take it. For the women, it was German Britta Steffen who just edged out Dara Torres; but we love her anyway! The marathon event of the 1500m Free might not be a big ticket event, but it was a real joy to watch Oussama Mellouli win the first ever swimming medal for Tunisia! And then it came down to the closing events which are always exciting - the 4x100 Medley Relays. For the women, the Americans were really strong and should be proud of their silver medals, because those Australians were crazy fast. And in an incredibly exciting event, the American men won as once again it was my wonderful boyfriend JASON LEZAK who came from behind to take it all! And Michael Phelps enters history as the man to win the most gold medals ever in a single Olympics, with the blessing of Mark Spitz to go with it, but he can scarcely believe it.

Phew! So much excitement! Next up we'll have some event finals in Gymnastics, more Fencing, and we'll see who's the fastest woman alive.

August 14, 2008

Olympics Days 3 & 4 in review

First off, I've said my piece about the fact that NBC is only showing so much on their broadcasts. (Check out bottom of page 32.) So I promise to stop griping about that. And ScottE helpfully pointed out that you can get tidbits of other sports online - everything from Handball to Archery. So in my very limited free time, I'll be watching!

In the meantime, here are some big highlights the last couple of days:
  • Over in the world of Kayaking, we saw the kind of moment that makes me watch the Olympics so religiously. Winning the first Olympic medal EVER for his country, Benjamin Boukpeti of the small West African nation of Togo took the bronze in the men's K1 final. He was so powerful and so frickin' happy - I was beaming ear to ear. He gave an interview and I understood about half of it, but it's clear that he was so proud and couldn't believe the crowd was chanting - "Togo, Togo, Togo!"
  • Meanwhile the Chinese continued to dominate both Gymnastics and Synchronized Diving by winning the women's event in both sports. Memo to Alicia Sacramone: SHAKE IT OFF! Good grief, it's not like someone shot your dog.
  • All the rest of the excitement was in Swimming. Most notable of course was that Michael Phelps made history by winning more gold medals than any other Olympic athlete. His dominance continues - can he beat Mark Spitz's record? We shall see! (Oh, and he has been breaking world records like...all the time.)
Up tonight (or rather, tomorrow morning in Beijing) - my new boyfriend Jason Lezak goes for his individual gold. You can do it, baby!!!

August 13, 2008

Work it Miss Isis!

It's that time again! The new season of Top Model is almost upon us, and there is some exciting news. Normally I'm not into hearing the cast before the first episode, but this is exceptional.

This season will feature the first ever transgender contestant! Her name is Isis, and to really make me root for her, it turns out she hails from right here in PG County.

Her first profile shot is impressive - I think we have a contendah!

August 12, 2008

The Mole - revealed!

*SPOILER* if you missed tonight's show!

Craig is the Mole. Told you so! Almost 2 months ago, actually. Yay for me!

Of course, the one clue I was so sure I found it's one they mentioned on the show. I still think a crew member planted it.

Olympics Day 2 in review

Did anything happen in Beijing yesterday? Well, let's review what NBC showed us:

- The women's road race happened on the wet streets in Cycling. It was 1% more interesting than the men's race merely because there was quite a pack at the end.

- A newer event to the Olympics - Synchronized Diving took place on the springboard for the women. It was no surprise the Chinese won - they own this.

- There were more qualifying heats in Rowing. Seriously, it is almost as boring as golf! Also there was more Beach Volleyball, which I just can't get into.

- But whatever, let's get down to the real news, which took place in Swimming. It was a bit exciting to watch the men's 100m Breaststroke (poor Brendan Hansen lost again to Japan's Kosuke Kitajima). And then the place went electric for the men's 4x100m Freestyle Relay. The French were talking trash, but it was the Americans who pulled out a shocking upset. And that pool was FAST. Don't believe me? Consider this - the fifth place team beat the world record! And the Americans smashed that record by 4 seconds. And how did they do that? Was it the wonder of Michael Phelps? Well, he did his part for sure, but...

I'd like to introduce you to my new sports boyfriend, Jason Lezak. This amazing specimen of athleticism pulled out the fastest relay split EVER and came from way behind to out-touch for the win at the wall. He is absolutely remarkable! I'm not ashamed to say I sent him a little fan mail on his website.

Aw, isn't he cute?

Jason Lezak - you have made America so very proud!

August 10, 2008

Olympics Day 1 in review

In case you missed it, here are the highlights:

- The American women were off to a good start in Beach Volleyball. But the men were defeated in their very first match, against the 23rd seed - Latvia. I blame it on the fact that they weren't wearing Speedos. And Todd Rogers agrees - at least with the shirtless part.

- There was a Cycling Road Race. Which bores me to tears for the first 50 hours or so - it's only exciting in the last 5 minutes.

- The men did their short qualifying routines in Gymnastics. Considering they are extra short and not exciting, it was obvious NBC was adding them to the schedule this year so they could stretch out gymnastics to every day. Why couldn't we have seen a little Judo or Equestrian events instead?

- Meanwhile, the American women swept the medals in the Individual Sabre event for Fencing. Way to go Mariel Zagunis (2-time champ), Sada Jacobson, and Becca Ward!

- There were qualifying heats in Rowing. *snore*

- Swimming was where the other exciting action was last night. Michael Phelps easily scored his first gold in the 400 IM, while the American women fell short in the 4x100 Freestyle Relay, as the Dutch took the gold. Most impressive of the night was Australian Stephanie Rice who killed it in the 400 IM for the women. She's adorable! Sadly, Oussama Mellouli fell short of winning the first ever swimming medal for Tunisia (that would just be neat), but it was no less impressive that Park Tae-hwan brought home the first ever gold for South Korea (400 Free).

- Early games were played in Volleyball, and the US women are looking very strong, with a team that includes several players that have been to the Games often. They held off a strong Japanese team to win their first game. Meanwhile the men held off Venezuela to advance. The cutie team captain's name is...Lloyd Ball. No comment.

Up for today - more Swimming, the start of Diving with the Synchronized Women's event, and I'm hoping for at least 5 minutes of coverage on Archery!

August 09, 2008

Olympic Fever!

It's that time again! Time for me to obsessively watch the Olympic games in Bejing. In case you hadn't heard about it previously, I am a 100% certified addict of the 'lympics. It's really the only time you'll ever see me voluntarily watching sports.

Last night the games opened with a really spectacular opening ceremony put on by the Chinese. Although the huge spectacle was fantastic, what really impressed me was that so much was done by massive coordination of people, not machines. Hopefully it reminded everyone what is good and strong about China, setting aside the obvious issues the country faces in this century. Oh, and we kicked off the night by having Chinese take-out - of course!

On a side note - will someone please put Sarah Brightman into a home? It's unfair to continue unleashing her on an unsuspecting world.

The parade of nations continues to be fun. I think my favorite outfits were those worn by the Marshall Islands - tropical splendor! But what were the Hungarian women thinking with those crazy red flowered get-ups?

And yes, I got all misty when the torch was lit. I always do. Such a sap.

Let the Games begin! Today it's all about volleyball (I love watching women's indoor) and swimming (I don't care about the hype - Michael Phelps rocks). What will you be watching?

photo courtesy of New York Times

I'm sad, America!

I can't believe it! Bernie Mac, who had a TV show that was enjoyable, and also appeared in the Ocean's 11 film series is dead at age 50 from pneumonia.

Read more about it here.

Bernie could be very funny at times, and I will miss having him around. Let's have a moment of silence, America.

August 01, 2008

The iPod shuffle challenge - part deux

Well that was a fun (and popular) post. So I thought I'd continue pricklygirl's lead and post another 20, as things are a bit slow in my entertainment life this week.

21. "Everyday People" - Sly & The Family Stone

This isn't just a car commercial jingle - it's also a cool "diversity is good" song.

22. "Send Me On My Way" - Rusted Root

For my inner hippie. And no, I have no idea what the lyrics actually are.

23. "Avenue P" - Carole King

This is from King's kiddie musical, Really Rosie, which was I think the first school musical I did in elementary school. Those songs really stuck with me.

24. "Walkin' After Midnight" - Patsy Cline

When I go to eat at Hard Times Cafe, I fully expect to find this on the jukebox, or I'm sad.

25. "Band of Gold" - Kimberley Locke

She's still my all-time fave contestant formerly of American Idol. I loved when she covered this song on the show.

26. "What Have You Done For Me Lately" - Janet Jackson

Remember the video? And that Paula Abdul was in it before she had her own career? Good times.

27. "I Believe" - original Off-Broadway cast of Altar Boyz

What is awesome about this musical is that it both skewers and lauds modern religion. Hilarious! The Jewish guy was totally the hot one.

28. "You Go To My Head" - Sarah Vaughan

I do like Ella, Dinah, and Billie, but the singer of the age for me was totally Sarah. Her music goes down like a smooth glass of Frangelico.

29. "On The Willows" - original Broadway cast of Godspell

Wow, what's with all the religion-themed musicals? This song makes me cry when I see it performed live. Every time.

30. "Brokedown Palace" - Joan Osborne

I simply adore Joan Osborne, and even really get into this album which is all country and bluegrass-tinged soul. That raspy voice just rocks.

31. "Then He Kissed Me" - The Crystals

My all-time favorite "oldies" song! I can't help but bounce around and sing, just like in the start of Adventures in Babysitting.

32. "La La" - The Verve Pipe

This was my college band, by which I mean they got their start in my college town when I was there. I saw them oodles of times live (for free!) at the bars & clubs in Kalamazoo. They were so very cool. I'm sad that mainstream success ultimately spelled their demise.

33. "When Doves Cry" - Prince

No one does it better than purple royalty.

34. "Good Morning Baltimore" - original Broadway cast of Hairspray

Who knew John Waters' screwball movie would make such an infectious musical? This song makes me want to wake up for sure.

35. "Padam Padam" - Edith Piaf

We got way into Edith after seeing La Vie En Rose, and this is totally her best song, in my opinion. It makes me want to go back and take more French classes.

36. "Dance Like There's No Tomorrow" - Paula Abdul

Oh hello, embarrassment. OK, I admit it - I heard Paula put out a new single, and I totally bought it immediately. And I tap my foot when I listen to it. So sue me!

37. "Land of a Thousand Words" - Scissor Sisters

Funny, this was on Joyous' list also! We are big, big fans of the Sisters - we've seen them in concert several times. And they put on a good show.

38. "Over The Moon" - original Broadway cast of Rent

I'm sad the show closed, but it will live for ages. A modern classic! And this song is great fun - it's always interesting to see how different actresses will interpret it.

39. "Beyond The Invisible" - Enigma

I have all of Enigma's albums. It's good mood music for the background, but also good for choreography.

40. "It's De-Lovely" - Rosemary Clooney

Finally! I thought Rosemary would never make it into the shuffle. And I have a lot of her music on my iPod. This track is from a live performance she did at the London Palladium, where she performed a Cole Porter classic.

So anyone want to share 20 more? Or how about this other challenge - what's the most recent song you bought, no matter how trite or trendy?

I just bought "American Boy" by Estelle. It really gets in my head. But warning if you download it from iTunes - it is not clean.