Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Olympics are awesome

On the Interwebs these days, it seems fashionable to bash the Olympics. In their idealized version, the Olympics are pure sports competitions, pitting the top amateurs from around the world. Young, beautiful, athletic people competing against each other, representing their country out of pure National pride, trying to be the best. Faster! Higher! Stronger! No politics, no prejudices, just pure, unadulterated competition.

In reality, of course there are politics, doping scandals, corrupt IOC Members, professional athletes, last-second citizenship changes, and sponsorships from super ginormous multi-national inter-galactic corporations. I sympathize with the cynics among you.

And yet? I, the biggest Olympics sucker of them all, willingly suspend my cynicism. You know I play volleyball, and I am watching all the volleyball I can. (I highly prefer the indoor game, by the way.) But it's not just that. The vast majority of Olympic athletes are regular people with day jobs (where there are such things). These are regular Joes and Janes* who just happen to be really good at, and have a burning passion for, a particular sport or activity. There is something totally compelling to me about watching people who excel at something they love. I'd watch a competition between the world's best Monopoly players if NBC covered it.

* - And Sergeis and Svetlanas and Hidekis and Ikos and Deepaks...

So I don't mind staying up late these days with the baby*. Those of you who have not had any children, but intend to some day... make a note to yourself that, should the opportunity arise, try to have a newborn baby right around the Olympics. It provides a socially acceptable reason to be up at 3:00 AM watching preliminary heats in single sculls.

* - Not that I can do much anyway, short of looking plaintively at Sue and asking, in futility, if there is anything I can do to help. Last night she let me get her some water. I felt useful!

And the requisite piano-related comment? At this point in my progress on Limbo, I had accumulated about 10 or 12 hours of practice on the piece, including most of an entire Saturday. I've probably put about 4 hours into Ombre, and it shows. Progress is very slow. Make no mistake, I LIKE OMBRE A LOT! It goes places, musically, whereas Limbo sort of meanders around in one place, examining the same space from various perspectives. I'm sure when I reach an acceptable level of expertise on both, I'll probably prefer Ombre. It's just that, with the new baby, requisite attention paid to the three we already had, preparations for moving next week (I mentioned something about a new house, right?), and life as usual... something has to give.

But it ain't gonna be Water Polo. Those people are unbelievable.

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