Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Funny how a re-run on television is now presented as an "encore presentation". To me, an encore is something that is asked for, like a crowd asking Van Halen to come back because they didn't play "Panama". I titled this post "Encore" even though no one has asked me to write, if only because it makes me feel better.

At the moment, I'm watching badminton. I've never typed that sentence before, but it's true. The mid-day portion of the Summer Olympics offers little in the way of sports that would be considered, you know, even marginally entertaining. This is why we're served up loads of badminton, archery, canoeing, and judo. Still, I can't help but watch it. It's not because (mostly anyway) I have nothing better to do than watch television. It's because I feel obligated to watch the Olympics. I feel it's a duty, and I'm struggling with why that is. When Pumpkin comes home, one of our screens (yes, we have a TV with side to side screen capability) will have the Olympics on, while the other will have whatever we TIVo-ed or "Two and a Half Men" on. The Olympics are on, and I must watch. Very few of the events are shown live, and if I wanted to know the winners, I could just go online. But I don't want to.

I watched the Latvian team beat the Americans in beach volleyball and was happy for the Lats. I'm not anti-American, but it sure means a hell of a lot more to that country than to ours. Beach volleyball in Latvia? Every Olympics, we are subject to a litany of stories, some that sadden us, and some that lift our spirits. The greatest upsets come from the smallest countries. I'd rather see someone from the Solomon Islands up on the medal stage than someone from America just because it means so much more to that person and to their country. I think when our athletes win medals, their next step is to sign an agent and shoot a Wheaties commercial. That doesn't exactly warm this cynical old heart.

I think I'm getting off track, so let me double back around to my central point: I think I watch the Olympics not for great performances, but for compelling stories. If those stories involve them beating us, that makes me happy. If the U.S basketball team falls flat on its face, I'll find that kinda funny. The U.S. just beat Italy in Water Polo. I can live with that.

An encore presentation of "Judge Judy" is coming on. Gotta go.

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