Category Archives: Brooklyn

Sochi Olympics 2014!

On to Sochi Olympics 2014!  At least the Olympics commercials are all the feel-good stuff, compared to the okay-whatever aspect of the Super Bowl commercials.

Google’s founders had the motto of something along the lines of don’t do evil. While I’m never quite sure of what to make of Google half the time, I’ll give them loads of credit for the Google Doodle on the 1st day of Olympic competition, with its citation of the Olympics Charter: “The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.”

All that idealism…

Then again, all the talk about how ridiculous things have been on the way to Sochi in Russia… (i.e., how ready will Sochi be, or well, when even the water in the hotels freaked the journalists out, among many other problems…).  As this NPR.org post by Krishnadev Calamur notes, these fears of readiness and the bloopers aren’t really new; they get said about all the Olympics, no matter the season.

But, you got to wonder how the levels of ridiculous can get, when even NBC’s broadcast opened on the Thursday night (the night before the Opening Ceremony, since some rounds of competition just had to start early) with Bob Costas’ eye not looking very good, due to an infection.  At least he was upfront about it and a little self-deprecating about his wearing glasses, although I cracked that I hoped that the noxious looking Sochi water wasn’t the cause of the infection (and I don’t think that I was the only one wondering about that).  Anyway, I thought of Costas’ glasses as his Harry Potter glasses, but he had referred to them as the Mr. Peabody glasses – which would make sense in terms of what generation of cartoons you’re into…

And, later in the evening, NBC had the commercial for the Mr. Peabody and Sherman movie. Ah – corporate synergy/marketing! Nice one, Costas!

Eventually, three days later, Costas also acknowledged that his studio looks like Superman’s Fortress of Solitude.  These are, of course, attempts to distract us… from the fact that we have to get over the ridiculous tape delay of NBC.  It got really annoying to watch a piece of some skating, then some luge, then back to skating… and not really know when is on what, as usual.  The Internet helps somewhat, but oh well.

The Opening Ceremony had formality and charm, and somehow got boring during the Parade of Nations (well, ok, that probably happens a lot more than I keep expecting). And, of course, the blooper of the notorious snowflake that did not bloom into the fifth ring of the Olympic Rings.  Hmm. See here for a nice angle view of that from NPR’s On the Road tumblr.

The NPR blog had much more on the Opening Ceremony, compared to, say, NBC’s edited-for-time version.  In fact, NBC had cut off the the anti-discrimination part in the speech of International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, which I had to learn about from Slate, where Daniel Politi notes:

a surprising edit considering how much attention Russia’s anti-gay laws have received in the run-up to the Olympics.

“It is possible—even as competitors—to live together under one roof in harmony, with tolerance and without any form of discrimination for whatever reason,” read one portion of the speech that NBC edited out of the ceremony.

NBC said the edit was simply a time issue.

Also, I don’t know, maybe NBC could have had, say, actual Russian translators, since neither NBC’s own Meredith Vieira or Matt Lauer, nor David Remnick of the New Yorker (who was there to help the NBC people have context) were translating things and their summaries seemed so not-contextual.

I totally missed the part of the Russian Police Choir singing… Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky.”  I had to see this on NBC’s website. Actually, they sounded kind of good and kind of funny.

Actually, NBC’s introduction opening was beautiful and powerful.  NBC did do that one thing very well.

And, the pomp and circumstance of ballet dance and modern dance, and classical music to do a 1000 years of Russian history in half an hour were mesmerizing. If I didn’t appreciate Russian arts before, I certainly did after watching that. But, it felt awkward how, say, the period of the Russian Revolution(s) (one to get rid of the czarist era, the other to become Lenin-style Communist), World War II, and the Cold War and the Stalin era, not to mention the 1990′s and the pre-Putin era were very much minimized, at the expense of glory and hope.

Well, I understand accentuating the positive stuff is what one would want to sell in an Opening Ceremony, as opposed to, say, the London Summer Olympics’ celebration of their health care system (which was nice but really weird).

I’m a sucker anyway; I’ll watch the Olympics. The US’ slopestyle gold medalist Sage Kotsenburg telling Bob Costas: “It’s sick” – hilarious. I watched some of the skiathlon – just watching made me feel tired, because these were men who were way fitter than I can imagine. And the team skating event – well, I got to say that the Russian dominance in ice skating might be back.  They won the gold in this new event, and the individual events will be quite the watch.

And, maybe it’s just me, but Sochi’s cauldron containing the Olympic fire – it looks so much like Olympic Stadium of Montreal (well, I grew up visiting there every summer, so go figure).  Pretty in that modern art way.

Ridiculousness continued though: the US bobsledder Johnny Quinn, who had to break down his bathroom door after his shower because he got locked in and nobody was coming to his rescue. Seriously: his bathroom door looked like cardboard. And, I think the US Olympic Committee ought to pay for the door to be fixed, since Quinn wouldn’t have been in that position but for the USOC.  Arguably, anyway.

Armin Zoeggeler – the “Superman of Sliding” – winning a bronze in luge for Italy – having been in every Winter Olympics since Lillyhammer 1994.  Slip and slide all right.  As Seth Myers noted once: “The Summer Olympics are a grand spectacle of sports; the Winter Olympics is just 48 different kinds of sliding.”

Or what about all those cute photos of the stray dogs of Sochi? Aww!  We’ll see what’s next as the Olympics continues.

Post-Super Bowl Stuff

Well, the Super Bowl was a bit of a let-down, considering that the Denver Broncos were blown out by the Seattle Seahawks.  But, I still believe that Peyton Manning is a great quarterback.  And, I’ll give the Seahawks all the credit for being the better team last Sunday; definitely not about bad luck on the Broncos’ fault.

The NY-NJ Super Bowl was supposed to be the mass-transit one, but it turned out that the NJ Transit wasn’t that ready for so many people, so people groused about that; oh, well, on the bright side, nothing went wrong as far as security went.

And, the Monday after the Super Bowl had snow – the wet and heavy kind.  At least it didn’t happen before or just after the game?

The day of the Super Bowl was already marred by the passing of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. I was amazed by how many movies I had seen him in, including one of the earliest things I remembered seeing him in a PBS documentary, “Liberty! The American Revolution.” He was also such a New Yorker, getting reported in the newspapers for being seen around town doing regular stuff, like eat with friends.  I do agree with David Denby of The New Yorker on how Hoffman’s passing seemed so mystifying and so tragic: a loss of one of the great actors of a generation.

That Hoffman had so much going for him, was such a talent with a load of work, and yet so human – maybe that’s why the news shook so much in the media.

During the week, there was the passing of Ralph Kiner, the tv voice of the NY Mets.  Somehow down the line, Ralph Kiner became a NYC institution, in being a part of NY Mets broadcasting history (since it’s not like Mets history is loaded with legends). Thanks for Kiner’s Korner and the malaprops, and good spirits.

A very strange week before the Olympics…

Super Bowl Eve 2014

As Stephen Colbert of “The Colbert Report” says: are you ready yet for “Superb Owl XLVIII,” in the great New York City outerborough of… East Rutherford?… (no offense to New Jersey; I do have to keep paying for my NJ law license).

Super Bowl Boulevard (also known as Broadway) hopefully benefited businesses in midtown (probably more of a mixed bag, according to NY1). I managed to walk through it on Friday afternoon, after attending the morning’s event for the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA).  I didn’t line up to see the Vince Lombardi trophy, but it was cool seeing it as I stood by the ABC building (i.e., the “Good Morning America” site) at West 44th Street (uh… otherwise the street of the New York City Bar Association).   The area was tourist-filled, and I don’t think that I had ever seen so many Seattle Seahawk fans. I saw a couple of people with Bronco knitwear – the kind that looked like the Bronco on one’s head – so goofy!

I don’t think I’ve ever imagine seeing tobogganing on 42nd Street.  I guess it’s one of those “It’s winter” gags, since I’m not even sure how toboggans have anything to do with football.  Maybe it was more of an Olympics tie-in?   But, everyone seemed to enjoy it.

It kind of got goofier when  our politicians got on board with it, with Mayor deBlasio, his son, US Senator Schumer, and whoever else took on a toboggan race (link to NY1).

I hope NJ businesses also benefit, but the reality is that this is a bi-state effort – and the tourists aren’t going to avoid NYC.  Seriously – it’s not like Meadowlands is a hub of tourism (or maybe I’m missing something, but I remember not enjoying the NJ Bar exam there). The outlets malls are worth a visit. And, Hoboken’s cool – I heard that they put up huge “XLVIII” Roman numerals in honor of the game. Oh, and even curling in honor of the Olympics…

Everyone has been getting in on celebrating the Super Bowl, even the Metropolitan Museum of Art, with its exhibition on football cards until 2/10/14.

It is exciting that the Super Bowl is here.  It’s expected not to be insanely cold after all.  I had been predicting two weeks ago that it’d be seasonably cold for the game; it appears that a high of 51 tomorrow.  Dare I prognosticate on the score?…

I’m hoping for Denver Broncos – Peyton Manning all the way!  I am impressed by the Seattle Seahawks.  I think… Broncos, 21-17.  No money; just glory.  Or a trip to Disney World!

(at least, I hope that I won’t jinx the Broncos; I’m just a casual sports fan; please, gods of Football, do the right thing!).

And, hopefully the game will end on time so that I can watch the finale episode of “Sherlock” on PBS.  PBS – what on earth are you doing with the timing?  When CBS aired Elementary after the Super Bowl last year, well, at least that was the game and the series were on the same network…

Is it too much to hope that because it’s the Year of the Horse, this could be fortuitous for the Denver Broncos?…

Oh, and thank goodness, on time for the NY-NJ Super Bowl: NY Giants’ own Michael Strahan is going to be inducted into the Hall of Fame (Sports Illustrated link, AP article).