August 10, 2008

Wake up Henry!


This morning I watched China take on USA, an opening basketball heat to qualify for medals. Fun to watch - and great to see 1972 team member Doug Collins doing the call with Mike Breen. 

The Chinese team, which has NBA players past, present and future (Wang Zhi Zhi, Yao Ming , and Sun Yue) kept it close until adrenaline wore out and reality set in.

Sun Yue, (pictured) still only 20, was drafted by the Lakers in 2007 and just signed a contract with the team. Collins called Yue the Chinese Magic Johnson and Yue showed flashes. Yao, recovering from ankle surgery, played well, and the Chinese team played a respectable, tenacious game.

President Bush, who is this close to ripping off his button-down and globbing red, white and blue USA war-paint on his belly, was seen discussing the finer points of a pick and roll with Laura.

Did anyone notice a slumping Henry Kissinger, passed out in the seats above Bush? At one point, Jason Kidd fed Bron-Bron for a dunk that incited a raucous audience response, and after a cutaway to the Bush clan, a startled Kissy could be seen throwing his arms up after being jolted awake.

There are Chinese citizens desperate for tickets to these events and we have self-serving politicians occupying those seats, checking their watches and grabbing cat-naps!

Bush snags photo-ops with bikini babes for the family album, then sits at basketball games like its his first rodeo.

Someone hand Henry a lightning stick and give George 1 a blow-horn. And do we have some cotton candy for Laura? She looks hungry!

August 8, 2008

2008 Olympics; Opening Ceremony Review

The opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing was a visually stunning achievement. That said, many aspects of the presentation confused me.

The night started out with a melodramatic pizza-dough making demonstration, as hundreds of young men holding glow sticks banged on electronic cutting boards in unison.

After a brief fireworks display, members of Cirque de Soleil appeared and floated about the Bird's Nest with small flashlights fixed on their faces.

At that point, a few dozen elegantly dressed small children (stand-ins from 'The Lost Emperor') carried a flag that was violently snatched from them by high-stepping members of the Gestapo.

Then, a gigantic rain tarp magically appeared, the kind used at baseball games. It slowly rolled open from both ends, like a scroll. But this was no ordinary rain tarp. It operated without the use of human hands and contained a massive high-definition screen. Why it showed images of ancient landscapes instead of highlights of Kobe feeeding Bron-Bron for tomahawk dunks is beyond me. 

Next, in an ode to Etch-a-Sketch, a set of ninjas clad in black began body-painting, using gloves lined with large ink pads. Their work was barely better than that of famed body-painter Farrah Fawcett.

After a breathtaking, Mummenshanz-like display of undulating, oversized typewriter keys, a child was shown taking a magic carpet ride. I kept looking at the center of the arena and wishing it was I who owned the largest PSP on earth. PlayStation Portable is what they were using, correct?

At this point, the show really pushed the envelope, as a set of loudly-dressed drag queens paraded about the stadium. Then the Chinese Liberace sang, complete with styled pompadour.

After an amazing display of scampering humans wearing Christmas lights, the obligatory adorable, flying child appeared! This has seemingly been an "awww" staple since Montreal in '76.

Leave it to President Bush, who, during his first cutaway, managed to look down and check his watch.

I'm used to seeing really old people do Tai Chi in the park, but the next act had young women dessed as chefs executing Bruce Lee-like maneuvers. 

Then, the grand finale - hundreds of people dancing in unison, an obvious ode to the Phillipine prison renditions of 'Thriller' so popular on YouTube.

But just as I was enjoying this spectacle, huge images of children inexplicably appeared on the electronic scoreboard at the top of the Bird's Nest. I thought it was an Amber Alert, but I soon realized they were stock images from Corbis, just a cute touch by the night's choreographer,  McG.

A tremendous open. Athough I would characterize it as a sophisticated version of "The Wave" meets football fans making shapes over their heads with hand-held signs.

It was followed by an endless parade of the Olympic participants. Or, what I like to call 'The March of The Airline Attendants and Fast-Food Vendors'. This is an exhilirating display of textiles so extensive, it makes NBC's show on sister-station Bravo, 'Project Runway', look meek by comparison.

Certain countries forgot their ethnic garb and had to resort to donning the uniforms of Best Buy, Taco Bell and Circuit City. Either that or Chinos and a Polo are now universal.

On a closing note, I felt the tone of announcers Bob Costas and Matt Lauer was too casual. It felt jokey and inappropriate. Their sarcasm and pace was no different from the cotton candy patter of a Macy's Thanksgiving parade.

Hosting a worldwide event rife with political implications, the duo treated the night like they were announcing the height and weight of Donald Duck and Garfield baloons.

NBC may want us to believe that Beijing is all about a coming out party for China, but round-the-clock commercials, embedded corporate sponsors and increasingly diminutive fetish "uniforms" remind us its really all about T & A & $$$.

August 3, 2008

Mann-imated!

Here's a tribute to one of the most enigmatic and charismatic sports figures of the modern era, Manny Ramirez.

A recent article claims that Ramirez asked agent Scott Boras to reverse the trade that sent him to the Dodgers after learning of the transaction. Ay caramba.

In return, the story said, Manny would promise to play the year out faithfully, provided the Sox dropped the two remaining option years on his contract. 

It's so crazy I believe it. That Ramirez conceived an imaginary contract after an actual trade had been made is hilarious. Classic Manny.

Man-Ram was planning to party in South Beach, but Theo threw him a curve and sent him to Tinseltown instead. Now the Marlins' Han-Ram remains the team's only Ramirez. Which is less confusing.

But in a world where Tiger Woods, Derek Jeter and other athlete superstars reveal nothing intimate and show no personality, Ramirez is an authentic, lovable rebel. With a great head of hair. And a lethal bat. Transgressions aside, I will his him in Boston.

Sports Psychic Prophecy Comes True!

It seems that some six months ago I foresaw Manny's arrival in Hollywood. Take a look at an oldie, but goodie. Boy, Spongebob was a real pain in the ass that day.

August 1, 2008

Catching on


Watching everyone get jumpy pants excited over the Yankees acquisition of Pudge Rodriguez was amusing. This speaks more to the scarcity of quality catchers in the game than Rodriguez' current abilities.

When guys like Pudge, Jeff Kendall and Benito Santiago hang on as long as they do, it has to make you happy to watch a kid like Russel Martin of the Dodgers.

Rodriguez is a likely Hall of Famer, but well past his glory days. His (post-performance enhancing drug days) physique is astonishing, but he is a serviceable battery mate.

I will have you know that while there are a plethora of reasons for me dislike athletes, I love all catchers. They're just a different breed. They're not chatting with front row fans, they're crouching behind the plate calling a game!

And after having 98 mile an hour heaters ricochet off their face mask, they usually act like nothing has happened. I mean, I love my Sox, but JD Drew grimaces in pain if the wind blows.

Catchers also become great managers, as Mike Scoscia and Joe Torre have recently shown. The greatest of them all, Yogi Berra, started a trend at the All Star Game in New York, by kissing George Steinbrenner's hand after The Boss was carted onto the field in pre game ceremonies.

It inspired the other Yankee Hall of Famers to do the same, in a scene that was eerily reminiscent of 'The Godfather'.