Monthly Archives: August 2008

Wicked excited about college football!

So “wicked” is one of those words that surfaces in my vernacular about two or three times a year. But yesterday I caught myself saying, aloud, and over phone lines, “I’m wicked excited about college football.” I blame a long lost high school friend who moved to my podunk (I say that lovingly!) Virginia town for peppering my vocabulary with these occasional New England-isms.

Anyway, if I say wicked, I actually mean it… or at least in its slang definition.

Yes, college football is back. Last night several games were on, but I tuned in to the NC State-South Carolina game & channel flipped with DNC excitement in Denver. “The other USC” knocked in a field goal in the waning seconds of the 2nd quarter in an otherwise scoreless first half. Despite hanging with the Gamecocks early, the Wolfpack got pummeled in the second half. Spurrier’s South Carolina posted 34 to NC State’s blank score.

Anyway, the thing I took away most from the game was the halftime show (I’ll admit, I did a lot more watching of Obama’s speech last night, which by the way was fantastic). I was shocked and dismayed to find out that ESPN is now doing a Dr. Lou segment in lieu (oh, I’m so clever…) of Lou’s Pep Talk. Lou’s pep talks were awesome last year! I figured they had a long future ahead so long as Lou Holtz continued his broadcasting career with the network.

In this new Dr. Lou segment, Lou Holtz (former Notre Dame and South Carolina head coach), pretends to be a psychiatrist that counsels big names around college football. Yesterday, Dr. Lou dispensed advice to Lloyd Carr, former coach of Michigan. Lloyd Carr had an admirable run at Michigan’s helm, but will probably will always be remembered for his team’s big upset loss against Appalachian State in the home opener last year. He resigned from his post at last season’s conclusion. Dr. Lou articulated the keys to a decent life outside of the realm of coaching to Carr: having someone to love, something to look forward to, and something to hope for. Dr. Lou delivered his wisdom in a faux shrink’s office and in front of a phony doctor of football philosophy diploma. While I didn’t mind this new segment, it certainly lacked the splendor and firepower of his pep talks of old. Maybe the segment’s luster will build in the coming weeks.

Nonetheless, R.I.P. Lou’s Pep Talks. You’ll be missed. Here was one of my favorites from last year that Lou gave for Michigan right after the Appalachian State loss last year. I guess Michigan is a favorite team for Holtz to reach out and embrace:

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What is a trapezoidal lane?

Every four years I’m reminded of several oddities that are associated with Olympic (and international) basketball. The most bizarre to me is the strange, non-rectangular key on the court (or lane, or paint, according to your basketball jargon preferences). Anyway, it looks like this:


According to the NBC Olympics site, this strange lane is called a trapezoidal lane. For whatever reason I’ve always thought it was strange visually (but then again, I was raised on ACC hoops and Jordan’s 1990s glory days), but I missed the explanation for why it exists.

A blog entry I read detailed that it was a way to equalize the height of players on the international stage. Making the lane wider closer to the basket means a tall center will have to move further to avoid a 3-second call, which in theory, gives shorter teams a chance to compete with those brimming with taller players. Its intent is that “big men” can’t lurk under the basket for extensive periods. The trapezoidal lane should force them to be more mobile, while giving teams with good perimeter shooting some unknown advantage. Despite these intentions, this obstacle has done little to avoid the Redeem Team’s Olympic-long dunkfest. Apparently we won’t be seeing the trapezoidal lane for much longer, and international hoops will be moving in favor of the NBA (aka non-eye sore) styled rectangular lane starting in 2010.

I still think international hoops have this different lane for the sake of being different, and apparently, so does that blog’s author. I extend my kudos and agreement.

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Like a moth to the flame, I am to the Games of Torch

So as usual my pre-planned night of paper-writing became write 3/4 of a page, watch 2 hours of Olympics, write another 3/4 of a page, more Olympics. Even the threat of 70% of my grade in a class relying on my usefulness this week isn’t enough to beckon me away from the excitement.

Today Michael Phelps collected golds 4 & 5, as well as WRs (world records) 4 & 5 of the Games. What does a WR even mean these days if every single swim race seems to produce one (or multiple in many instances)? Well, I’ll share some theories, but it will have to be another day.

How heartbreaking was it to see Alicia Sacramone‘s meltdown after falling off the beam in the team competition today? I could barely watch. China certainly gave the US plenty of opportunity to snag the gold, but they never fully capitalized on the host country’s mistakes.

I guess the US getting the silver just makes that 1996 “Magnificent Seven” team win in Atlanta all the more special. Besides, how much of a team is it if only four competed? (Actually, don’t answer that, I know the answer to that question.)


Actually now that I think about it, prime time tonight was just about the most perfect few hours of Olympic watching there could be. All swimming and gymnastics. I’m down for that!

This will probably be my last Olympic update for a few days, or at least the rational side (cell?) of my brain hopes so. Til then, I bid ya adieu.

PS, If they happened for the 2004 Athens games, I don’t remember, but I’m loving the nightly Bela Karolyi-Bob Costas chats in NBC Primetime. And by chats I pretty much just mean listening to Karolyi. That guy is so enthusiastic and hilarious, it definitely keeps me watching! If you’re wondering why you’ve heard his name, you probably remember him from this:

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Cliff Notes version of a Sparks Note version of an Olympic Update

Despite my darndest efforts not to watch the Olympics this week in order to get through my wildest workload week in a long time, I have failed miserably. Though nowhere close to having seen all that I’d like to see, I still have yet to miss a swimming race. Due to the marvels of DVR I’ve caught every prelim, semifinal and final heat at the Water Cube. By the way, is this not the coolest building ever?


In case you missed it, just wanted to let you see the highlight of the entire Olympics thus far:

Truth be told, rewatching this race still gives me goosebumps.

While I miss the days when the USA got gold in just about every contest, it never gets old deflating rival smack talk. Before this race, a member of the heavily favored French 4×100 free relay team, Alain Bernard, told reporters, “The Americans? We’re going to smash them. That’s what we came here [The Olympics] for.” As only one could dream, team captain Jason Lezak pulled past the French squad (and the smack-talking anchor Bernard in particular) in the last half meter of the race, in a race where the top five squads blasted through the world record. Awesome!!

And for the suddenly Michael Phelps-obsessed and just-born swimming fans, this gave Phelps a perfect 2 for 2 in gold medals to races thus far. He racked up another gold in his 200 free yesterday as well, with a world record to boot, and now is 3 for 3.

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08-08-08

It’s here, it’s here! The (Summer) Olympics are here! I’ve only waited 4 exhausting years for this! (You’d think I was a world-class athlete with that proclamation.)

Too bad it’s the most insanely busy week of my life (OK — that’s a little dramatic — but it is extremely hectic right now). I just hope I don’t miss all the action.

Go Team USA! I had a snowcone named after you last week in your honor.

My mini Olympic week consists of an agency-wide intern presentation at work, hour-long presentation for my class, and two papers, one being 18 pages. While much less exciting and exhilarating than platform diving or performing the iron cross on rings, it will be intense in its own “special” way.

I will definitely be squeezing in mini-watching sessions for swimming at the very least, and very likely gymnastics, diving, and track & field as well. Here’s to hoping Michael Phelps gets mostly silvers (except relays) & that the other US Olympians take golds in all his individual events.

I’m such a jerk. But how can you not despise him when you see this picture? Ugggh.


If that wasn’t bad enough, the free Olympic Preview Sports Illustrated delivered to my house (under someone else’s name) had him “gracing” the cover. Fine, fine, he’s a big story, again. And he’s great for the sport. I get it. But did a full 9 (I got tired of counting after that) pages have to be dedicated to this guy? I guess it’s only prep for all the “feel good” producers’ storylines that will be raised again and again. But did we really need to know how many Facebook friends he has? The answer is 4,621 if you were wondering.*

Anyway, here’s hoping that Team USA destroys the Land Down Under in all swimming relays (just a little friendly competition of course)! Though I’ll admit, I’m still pretty sad that we won’t see Gary Hall, Jr. in these Games.

In the back of my mind I’m on the semi-lookout for ambush marketing attempts too, but with recent IOC sanctions, I have a feeling I won’t be seeing much of that.

OK, back to the insanity.

*This number has probably grown since I wrote this.

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Annoying phrases and other meaningless drivel

It’s been a whole week since a rant post, but frankly, it’s time…

“Burning the midnight oil, eh?”

That has got to be one of the most annoying phrases ever vocalized. I can just see an old guy you barely know but thinks he knows you well saying it about you reading something at midnight, or pulling an all-nighter to write a paper. Or in reference to your retelling of such an incident.

Why does everyone who says this phrase think they are saying something insightful or funny?

I’m pretty convinced that saying something as “phony” as that, to quote Holden Caulfield, you either have to be 40+ or just a huge jackass.

While we’re on this subject, here are some other annoying phrases and questions posed to me regularly (thanks SW, I’m sure you know which one I’m crediting you with):

  • It is what it is… (Really? You don’t say.)

  • Hey, did you know you’re sunburnt? (Um, do you think I’m hard of feeling sunburn?)

  • Do you know how many calories are in that? (I’m eating chicken fried steak, and yeah I’m aware of the consequences you bumbling idiot. Isn’t it evident that I don’t care?)

  • You knew what you were getting yourself into. (Yeah true, but how is this “incisive” comment helpful?)

  • Fair enough. (What does that even mean?)

That’s all for now because I actually do have to go B the m-n O now. Translation: stay up really late to perform an arduous reading task I should have hours/days ago. Gross.

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