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Olympic Viewing Wrap Up- Do I Hate NBC more than China? [California Seething]

Individuality. A healthy upbringing with a loving family. A well rounded education. Countless free hours of playing with friends. These are just some of the things that will win you jack shit as an Olympic gymnast. Olympic gymnasts should be raised in a box like veal – separated from their families and confined so tightly they can’t turn around and look at the childhood they left behind. At least veal calves get fed. Plus, veal calves are butchered privately – out of sight of the diners who consume them as delicious PETAschnitzel.  Nobody makes a veal calf put on a purple spangly leotard so that it can be slaughtered in public by a cold-eyed Bulgarian judge in front of millions of people for the unforgiveable sin of taking a half step out of bounds and then served to the public as a national disgrace. Just think, most of us will never have the opportunity to disgrace our nation and gymnasts get to do it before they’ve had their first period! Livin’ the Olympic dream!

But if the gymnast is good enough and lucky enough to win the gold then she gets to bask in the adulation of her nation by starring in a Subway commercial with Apolo Anton Ohno and Jared unless her accomplishments are overshadowed by her hair. She might even get to compete on Dancing with the Stars and be mocked by the tabloids for getting fat. Seriously, leave ShawnJohn alone – she starved her whole life to bring four fucking medals to this worthless, ingrate lard-ass nation of ours. Let her eat a fuckin’ doughnut.

Some people go into the desert to see god. Others go to find themselves, to make art, to commune with nature, to have visions, or to experience the vastness of creation under an endless starry sky. I went to the desert to watch the Olympics – in HD!

Inspired by the editors of Fierce and Nerdy and Mitt Romney, I too decided to take some time out of my busy life and focus exclusively on watching the Summer Games. Of course, Mitt was just there so he could support his wife and cheer her horse on to victory before selling that useless, freeloading animal to the glue factory and then deciding what to do about her horse. Just kidding! Mitt doesn’t give a shit about supporting his wife. Why should he bother when he’s got five more at home on the secret compound? Come on…nasty unfounded Mormon polygamy rumors – who’s with me, people? Let’s win this thing ugly in 2012! U-S-A! U-S-A!

Anyhow, my wife and I didn’t want to take any chances with our Olympic viewing retreat. We took the week off from work and rented a little place in Palm Springs, figuring that the 115 degree weather would ensure that we stayed inside by the TV and didn’t try to do anything stupid like go outside and exercise- which is good because the worst way to experience sports is to play them, although watching on NBC is a close second. I know NBC has already gotten a lot of criticism for their abysmal Olympic coverage- so here are a few tips that can help them improve:

  1. Just show the FUCKING SPORTS.
  2. Don’t ever show anything that’s not sports
  3. Shut the fuck up.
  4. Off Ryan Seacrest

Actually, item #4 is the only one they really need to accomplish if they want to make me happy. I mean, it won’t solve all of their Olympic broadcasting problems, but the overall benefit to humanity would significantly outweigh their inadequacy as a sportscasting network. Just think, instead of saying:

“Oh my god- Al Michaels is such a moron. Why won’t he shut the hell up? He’s ruining the Olympics with his inane chatter.”

I could say

“Oh my god, Al Michaels is such a moron. But did you see the way he set Ryan Seacrest’s hair on fire before chopping his head off with a machete and then kicking out his perfectly white teeth to make a necklace. That man is a goddman American hero. He rescued New Year’s Rockin’ Eve from the clutches of the Metrosexual Media Menace and saved us all from another Kardashian fairytale wedding. Al Michaels’ inane chatter is like beautiful music on I Heart Radio.”

It seems unlikely, though, that anyone at NBC is going to step up to the plate and commit Seacrestcide so they’re going to need to work on items 1 – 3 on the list instead. So, that means:

DON’T show cheeky segments about Mary “No, no, seriously, that’s a dude talking right?” Carillo wearing a kilt, even if it is the first time in her life she’s ever put on a skirt. JUST SHOW THE FUCKING SPORTS.

DON’T show endless segments with Tom “blah blah Greatest Blah” Brokaw jerking off all over Churchill and the British airmen in World War Two. If I wanted to watch the History Channel I’d fucking watch Pawn Stars. JUST SHOW THE FUCKING SPORTS.

DON’T show Ryan “No, seriously, somebody does need to kill this guy” Seacrest talking about how Michael Phelps got 70,000 tweets per minute. Say it with me, America – Twitter is NEVER NEWS. “Michael Phelps wins 22 Olympic medals” is news. “70,000 douchebags per minute have nothing original to say” is just a sad commentary on a shitty world that I don’t really want to live in. JUST SHOW THE FUCKING SPORTS.

DON’T show ten minutes of trailers for upcoming NBC shows for every two minutes of sports.  Seriously, NBC, I know we’re a captive audience but that’s no reason to get all Guantanamo Bay on us. It’s sheer agony, like sitting through a time-share sales presentation just to get the $50 Amex gift card at the end.

Sure, I’ll put up with this NBC’s crap because I want to watch gymnastics but there’s still no way on earth that I’m gonna watch Revolution. The only thing appealing about living in a world without electricity is that I could be sure Matthew Perry would never get another series.

And have the show’s creators been to America recently? There is no way that anyone in this country would resort to farming as long as cannibalism was still a viable option. And as for you, The New Normal –  “from the creators of GLEE” isn’t a sales pitch, it’s a warning. It’s like advertising pet rats with “from the rodents that brought the black plague to Europe.”

Also, please tell the local NBC affiliates not to show spoilers for upcoming Olympics events in the trailers for the late local news. I mean, sure, I already know what’s going to happen from east coast friends on Facebook, but NBC doesn’t have to rub it in. Say it with me America – JUST SHOW THE FUCKING SPORTS.

Despite the terrible coverage, I was still able to squeeze in 12 – 14 hours of Olympic viewing per day. This is a testament both to the remarkable performances of our courageous Olympians and to the fact I didn’t want to wear pants all week. Plus, did I mention it was 115 degrees outside? So here are some disjointed observations from Olympics Desert Vision Quest (and some stuff that happened before I left):

Opening Ceremonies

What do Caliban, the invention of the world wide web, Pink Floyd, socialized medicine, Mary Poppins, the industrial revolution and James Bond have in common? Absolutely fucking nothing! And that’s why Danny Boyle is a genius. Not since Richard Kelley made Southland Tales has a director gotten so much money for his incomprehensible vision. Actually, the socialized medicine tribute was an afterthought. Boyle heard Romney was coming to the Games and wanted to honor his greatest accomplishment as governor of Massachusetts.

The best part of the opening ceremonies, though, was watching the Queen look down on England’s former conquests like Ryan Lochte at a Daytona Beach sorority bar knowing she could totally have Hong Kong back again if she slipped it a roofie.

Trammapoline! Trambabpoline!

American Steve Gluckstein was hoping for a top ten finish in the Trampoline. Trampoline was added as an Olympic sport in 2000. Bouncy Castle will debut at the 2016 Games, and the Chinese gold medal favorite Hop Hop hasn’t been allowed to set foot on solid ground since he showed promise for the sport at his 5th birthday party ten years ago. When his parents both died last year, he was taken to the funeral in a bouncy pirate ship.

Ha ha, just kidding, the Chinese would never tell an athlete in training that his parents were dead. Anyhow, Gluckstein was hoping that by finishing in the top 10 he could increase awareness of his beloved sport and create more opportunities for aspiring trampoline guys around the United States.

It’s a noble ambition, but misguided. I mean, come on Gluckstein – this is America. We don’t give a shit if you come in tenth, we want medals. Honestly, if we wanted to take pride in our global mediocrity, we’d brag about our public school system – but this is the Olympics.

This is serious. It’s our quadrennial victory lap for the Cold War. The last vestige of American greatness. We can’t afford tenth place finishes, not if we’re going to be able to compete with the Chinese and delude ourselves that we’re still just as relevant globally as they are (thank you China for loaning us all that money to keep our government solvent. Now please just go fuck off and die.)

Sure, everybody loves stories about athletes with pluck who follow their hearts, do their best and exceed expectations on the biggest stage of all – we just want them to come from the loser countries like England or South Africa – and even then, you’d better be a double-amputee if you want an E for Effort (what a cheater that guy is. Barry Bonds is kicking himself for not sawing his legs off. Hah! Kicking himself! Callous amputee humor! U-S-A! U-S-A!)

So, sure, Gluckstein, if you were to win a couple of metals, we might act like we care about your stupid sport. I mean, that fencing chick won a couple of golds and we let her carry the flag in, so I suppose that anything’s possible. Hell, if burning the American flag was an Olympic sport and you got the gold we’d let you light that sucker up on the Today show (especially if you wrapped Anne Curry in it).

But don’t be fooled – Americans don’t care about trampoline, Americans just care about winning. And if you win, well peachy keen jelly bean, we’ll put you in an inspiring TD Ameritrade commercial about reaching your dreams and if you lose – well good luck getting your old job back at Home Depot. They’ve got a double amputee working in the garden section now, they don’t need you mixing paint and losering the joint up.

And, what is someone named “Gluckstein” doing jumping around on the trampoline anyhow? Does he know how dangerous that it? He could fall and break his neck! Does his mother knowabout this? Because she would put a stop to this goyisha mishigas. I mean, what’s next, the 400 Meter Running with Scissors? The World Cup of Undercooked Chicken Eating? Seriously, this is no sport for a nice Jewish boy. Even Ali Raisman won’t look at his JDate profile.

Gluckstein ended up finishing 16th - which means that America is every bit as good at trampoline as we are at teaching kids to read. Oh well, at least he did better than our health care system (37th)- so, well done Gluckstein! I just hope you have health insurance when you break your neck or end up brain damaged like that guy in the commercial who was texting and driving. Little known fact, that guy was in the process of texting his agent about yet another commercial audition that he didn’t book right when the accident happened – and now he’s got a national TV spot! Another heart-warming story from the Olympics.

Olympic Jingosim

Once every four years something makes me give a shit about America and it sure as hell ain’t the election. The Presidential election just generates Google searches like “work visa EU” and “teaching English in France.” No, what’s responsible for my sudden spurt in patriotism is, you guessed it, the Olympics.

I can’t explain it. There’s something about the nations of the world coming together in peace and harmony to compete on the field of sport as equals that makes me want to crush all those little wimps with my big American cowboy boots and grind their bones into Splenda for my Americano.  Honestly, I can’t explain it – I barely even cheer for America in wars and yet here I am, cheering wildly for a bronze in synchronized diving, sweating every point in the beach volleyball semis, and tearing my hair out when we don’t win any medals in the 200 meter dash.

And yes, that’s right, I said it “we”- can you believe it? I never refer to America as “we” unless I’m saying “We must be the dumbest fucking nation on the face of the earth” or “Is there anyone we won’t sell an assault rifle to in this dumbass country?”- but during the Olympics everything changes – the second they light the torch I turn from Woody Guthrie to Toby Keith.

For two weeks I’m a flag-toting, face painting, U-S-A chanting, pick-up truck with Yosemite Sam mudflaps owning (or ownin’ as they say) redneck … and then as soon as the Olympic torch goes out so does the patriotic fire in my heart (Zantac helps) and I go right back to being a Jewish intellectual leftist pinko commie bastard who wouldn’t cross the street to piss on the flag if it was on fire. Wait, that actually sounds pretty patriotic. Well you know what I mean. Plus the US is pretty damn good at flag burning – we’ve got a great chance for gold in 2024!

Like most things in the world, my Olympic jingoism is made possible by China. See, I’m no dummy (no, no- it’s true- check my SAT Scores! Call my Mom!) I know that most countries are smaller and/or poorer than the US (or at least less able to borrow money from China) and don’t have the same type of athletic training infrastructure. And since their athletes might only have one or two opportunities to shine on the international athletic stage it’s not that much fun to cheer for their destruction at the hands of American jocks. I mean, even I would start to feel like a bit of a jerk if I just sat in front of the TV all day yelling “Crush Cameroon!” and “Stick it to Serbia!”

But it’s different with China – it’s OK to hate China- they’re better than we are at everything! (It’s not OK to hate the Chinese, though, cause that’s racist. Also not OK to hate Chinese food cause it’s delicious. I mean, not the super-weird authentic stuff cause that’s just chicken feet in seaweed broth and lumps of dough with prawn paste – but the good stuff like Cashew Chicken and Moo Goo Gai Pan – how could you hate that? Just don’t eat it with chopsticks, cause that’s racist. Why should one type of utensil be reserved exclusively for one nationality’s food – it’s like only eating kosher food with your daddy’s credit card. That’s not racist, btw, because I made fun of the Jews, and according to the IOC, the feelings of Jews don’t count.)

Anyhow, because we’re locked in a no-holds barred, life or death battle with China to decide…uhm…you know…who will be the country that wins the most medals at stuff, and because the US and China only compete directly at gymnastics and diving (and I wouldn’t exactly say the US “competes” at diving. Maybe we’ll do better in 2020 in the new 3 Meter Cannonball event. Now that’s an event which makes sense for McDonald’s to sponsor!) I need to cheer for the US to squash poor little countries at every single event so we can get as many metals as possible (Screw you Slovenia! And you, too Slovakia! Did you know there was a Slovenia and a Slovakia? Who came up with this crap? How am I supposed to keep any of these stupid little Balkan countries straight? Weren’t they thinking about me when they fought they’re stupid little ethnic wars? I’m the real victim of ethnic cleansing. And now I’ve got to act like Montenegro is a country all of a sudden? This is some bullshit. Thank god I only have to care about Eastern Europe during the Olympics. The rest of the time, there’s only one Georgia on my mind, bitch, and they’re not fighting with Russia for South Ossetia. South Ossetia- is that still a thing? Do they have a good water polo team or did the Georgians kill them all? I just need to know if I have to care.)

So yeah, China is the Miami Heat of the Olympics- everyone knows they’re the best and nobody wants them to win. But when it comes to being an Olympic baddie, China is a distant silver medalist to the Soviet Bloc countries during the good ole’ days of the Cold War. For one thing, the fact that there were several countries on Team Red meant that there was a larger assortment of people to hate. We could take our pick: icy blond crew cut Russian hoopsters (think Andrei Kirilenko before he became the Has Been with the Dragon Tattoo); impossibly perfect, impossibly perky, impossible to pronounce Romanian gymnasts; hairy chested East German women – it was a bonanza of bad guys. The best thing was that, no matter how well any of these Commies did in the Olympics we knew that we were the actual winners. Sure they had the medals but we had Democracy and Freedom and Capitalism and DOLLARS and that meant blue jeans and big cars and Bruce Springstein and Budweiser. They were dying to be us – literally, sometimes!

China, though is different. We never would have marched into the Olympic stadium wearing Soviet made uniforms – no matter how cute the berets. China is not only as good as us in the Olympics, they’re better than us at capitalism. Hell, the only people still making money in America are selling big cars to the Chinese that make blue jeans. I mean, sure we’ve still got Democracy – big whoop, if we show 2 forms of ID we can vote against a man who won’t show his tax returns because he made all his money offshoring jobs to China and trafficking in sex slaves. Come on- nasty unfounded financial scandal – who’s with me? U-S-A! U-S-A!

China took over the Olympics the same way they took over the world. Not by competing with the US directly at the flashy stuff we do well, but by winning all the boring stuff that we’re too lazy to compete in. So we make cars and invent Facebook and play basketball while China racks up the wins and rakes in the dough with bra clasps and baseball caps, synchronized swimming and washing machine parts, table tennis, pool noodles, women’s laser radial one person dinghy and, yes, the fucking trampoline. They don’t need to go to Mars to prove themselves, they just need to make the polos for NASA’s Mission Control team (for now).

Fortunately, the US was able to pull away from China and win the overall medal count. This is partially because the US has some of the finest track and field athletes in the world and China’s top hurdler shatters his leg at the sight of hurdles. It’s also due to the superiority of American women in numerous events, which reflects two very different government philosophies when it comes to female athletes. In the US, Title IX has created opportunities for training and scholarships for women who show promise in a wide variety of sports allowing them to grow, develop and excel. In China, the One Child Policy has led to a series of unfortunate accidents involving girl babies and deep wells. The ones that crawl out make the best divers!

I emerged from my Olympic Desert Vision Quest confused and disoriented, not knowing what day it was or what time-zone I was in. Was it 3 PM in California or 11 PM in London or 9 in the morning the day before on NBC. Could time really be running backwards? And would that explain why Bob Costas looks younger from one Olympics to the next (though he seems to be rotting from the inside like an apple that’s been varnished with lacquer)?

All I knew was that two weeks of near continuous sports viewing had blown through my brain like a psychedelic blur of sweat and glory. I watched everything: swimming, synchronized swimming, diving, synchronized diving, running the 100, 200, 400, 800, 1500, 5000, 10,000 and marathon (the marathon of Top Gear was better). I watched men’s volleyball, women’s volleyball, men’s beach volleyball, women’s beach volleyball (skimpy outfits + US dominance = TV GOLD. I can’t wait for Wet T-Shirt Women’s Soccer in 2016), men’s basketball, women’s basketball (I know- crazy, right?), water polo, field hockey, handball (created in Norway during the winter by a depressed, sadistic gym teacher just one day before he went on a killing spree. I recommend Jo Nesbo’s book on the subject), vault, rings, pommel horse, balance beam, high bar, uneven bar, floor exercise and yes, the goddamn, fucking trampoline. I saw terrible things like Morgan Uceny falling in the 1500, Greg Louganis looking 100 years old and an extended preview for Stars Earn Stripes (SPOILER ALERT: Nick Lachey gets both his legs blown off by an IED. No, wait, that’s a spoiler alert from my WILDEST DREAMS) and incredible things like the U.S. beating Iran for the gold in wrestling in a rematch of the legendary match between the Iron Sheik and Junkyard Dog. And I learned valuable lessons like: Never take Ryan Seacrest on a vision quest and American women kickass (of course, I knew that already #suckingupcauseimalittlescaredofyougals). Most importantly, I learned that the US can still beat China at a few things (mostly thanks to our kickass women #pleasedontkickmyasscauseicalledyougalsgals) and that a little patriotism every four years is probably good for the soul (if we win).

Anyhow, the Olympics are over so I get to go back to hating America until Rio. Wait- no, I forgot about the Winter Olympics – woo-hoo! 2014 here I come! I mean, China’s not that great at winter sports- but it’s still pretty great to beat Canada. Oh, Canada- here comes my foot up your ass! It could get a little awkward rooting against Canada since I might be living there if Paul Ryan becomes our next Vice President. I just hope they find the kiddie porn on his computer before it’s too late. Come on, unfounded internet pedophilia scandal – say it with me, America- U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!

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