Thoughts on Watching the Olympics Biathlon Competition

It is Valentine’s Day, and self is already ruing the humongous breakfast of huevos rancheros and menudo she and hubby shared in La Azteca, because now, nothing she was thinking of wearing to her reading in The Writer’s Center seems to fit.  But, really amusing to listen to the restaurant chit-chat:  everyone was discussing the Olympics!  Yes, over the burritos and enchiladas!  And it was early in the morning!

Last night, hubby lured self into watching Peter Jackson’s muy under-rated “King Kong,” with Naomi Watts, and on the flat-screen HDTV Naomi’s eyes are just so blue, so heartbreakingly enormous, and the scene on the rooftop, where Adrian Brody finally reaches her, is still one of self’s favorites, even though Kong is lying on the street below, having endured being shot through with machine gun bullets (not to mention mighty fall from —  at the time? —   World’s Tallest Building!).  From up on the roof, it seems to be twilight  —  at least, the clouds have a rosy tint.  But down there, on the street, where Jack Black pushes his way through a crowd to gaze on the giant’s body, it seems to be noon, for the light is clear and hard-bright.

Now, at almost 3 pm, self is finally able to persuade hubby to tune into the Olympics.  She did it by telling him she saw on the internet that an American had pulled an upset in one of the skiing events.  So we turn to NBC, and  —  holy Cow! —  the weather is atrocious, big flakes of snow coming down on the race participants, and right now the Norwegians or the French are aiming at a target (Skiing and shooting?  Self knows not the reasoning behind such an event  —  perhaps this dates from the days when sniper armies had to wend through Norwegian forests?) and the announcer goes, “Miss!  Miss!  And another miss!”  And, really, how can anyone expect to hit a target when the snow is falling so thickly?  Self thinks it’s a miracle that any of the shots don’t go wildly off the mark!

But self persists in watching, for she knows that an American won a medal in this event (the combined), thereby upsetting the Norwegians, who according to the commentator have long dominated this sport.  And J. R. Celski —  not to take anything away from Apolo “Dreamboat” Ohno, but Celski had to overcome a rather bad injury in order to skate today in the 1500 short track, and he got a bronze!  And self found out from one of the blogs listed on the PAWA website (PAWA=Philippine American Writers and Artists) that his mum is pinay.  So self went searching all over the internet to find a picture where Celski isn’t wearing his face mask, and —  Wow!  He does look Filipino!  So, here’s his website, for edification of dear blog readers.

His back-story is pretty exciting (not to mention, the picture at the top of his home page is pretty FAB!), and also the account of the race itself, which had Ohno fourth, going into the final seconds, boxed in by two South Koreans.  Read all about it elsewhere, dear blog readers, but take self’s word for it:  it was an amazing race.  Maybe they will show highlights on tonight’s news?  Self sincerely hopes so!

Stay tuned.

(Practically) The End of the Week Status Report

Had lunch with Fave Tita at Citrine in downtown RWC. Aunt took over the duties of meeting with Eldest Bro’s client (thereby earning self’s undying gratitude). This involved going to the Philippine consulate in San Francisco and signing contract in presence of notary. According to aunt, Eldest Bro’s mystery client

    wore huge black marcasite ring, almost as big as a billiard ball
    wore sleek black tights, over that a pair of short shorts
    wore a tight sequined T-shirt, the better to display a muffin belly

And this was a Filipina who was at least 60 years old.

Aunt’s first question to self, even before we had seated ourselves at the restaurant was: “Did you and your brother have a fight? Because it really was the easiest thing to go to the consulate and have the transaction notarized.”

Self got into a very long-winded explanation about how the woman kept changing the date of the appointment and finally self just got sick of it.

Let’s see, what else happened? Aunt’s tiny lapdog, Rexie, left to wait in the car while aunt and self had leisurely lunch, was apparently quite upset, for when aunt dropped self off at home after lunch, that li’l crit began jumping up and down on the seat (Imagine a Jack-in-the-box, with HAIR) and barking ferociously at self, hurling itself against car window and scrabbling with its claws against the glass, for all the world like a Rottweiler in attack mode. Sheesh!

Self wended her way to the San Carlos Farmers Market and discovered that the market would not be closing for another three weeks. Hurrah!

Self found out that the beach volleyball competition in the Olympics is over. Thank God, for she doesn’t know how much more she could take of the tight close-ups to the backside of the woman with the tattoo just above her butt-crack.

Why, you might wonder, is self in such a sanguine mood? The reason is simple: Ying awoke from her brain surgery, she was alert, and she was able to eat her first meal of solid food since her bone marrow transplant, a month ago. Thank God, thank God. Right after self got the news, she wrote like a blue streak and did not stop until an hour ago (and her neck is now killing her, but anyhoo). In fact, she was in such an excellent mood that she even loaded up with hubby’s favorite vegetables (brussels sprouts and broccoli) at the Farmer’s Market.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Reading for the Day: Iraq’s Paralympic Team

Below, a couple of excerpts from “Athletes Disabled by Wars Lead Iraqi Team in World Paralympic Games,” which appeared on p. 10 of The New York Times, Sunday, 29 June 2008. Andrew E. Kramer filed this report from Baghdad. :

Iraqis love sports. Anyone who doubts it should consider the rat-tat-tat of automatic weapons fired after every Iraqi soccer victory. Yet after five years of war, Iraq’s chances of fielding a competitive Olympic team are vanishingly small.

Playing field, pools and gyms are in disrepair. Athletes are targets for assassination. Only one, a weightlifter, qualified for the Beijing Olympics, the second Summer Games since the American invasion in 2003.

* * * *

“As a country that participated in many wars since 1980, we have many disabled people,” said Ahmed Abid Hassan, a wheelchair fencing coach. “Our Paralympic team is better than our Olympic team.”

The Olympics and Paralympics are not related, but the organizers have an agreement to hold them in the same city. The Paralympics begin Sept. 6, after the Olympics.

* * * *

Iraq is sending fencers in wheelchairs, amputee swimmers, blind runners and paraplegic weight lifters to the Paralympics. Of the athletes with confirmed berths, Paralympic team coaches say, seven are medal contenders.

Working out in sweaty gyms in hardscrabble neighborhoods, with creaky wheelchairs and hand-me-down gear, the Iraqi Paralympic team of 2008 is wrapping up what is surely one of the most trying training seasons.

The coach of the wheelchair basketball team, Ibrahim Abdullah . . . was fatally shot in the head during a firefight. He was 6-foot-6. Players said his head had been visible over a wall as the shooting started.

And a blind athlete, Qasim Muttar, who was a promising player of goalball — soccer played with a ball that contains bells — died after being run over by an American convoy while crossing a street.

All hail, oh courageous members of the Iraqi Paralympic Team.

Reading for the Day: The June 14 Economist

Perhaps because self is still bemused by her last night’s sighting of some of the Stanford women’s swim team in line at Yumi Yogurt, she reads an article in The Economist with more than usual interest. The article, “Making No Waves,” is about swimsuit technology, and this is how it begins:

Athletes in the ancient Olympics competed in the buff, on the grounds (among other things) that clothes were a hindrance to performance. Modern technology, however, has changed that. In some sports, notably swimming, the right attire can be an enormous boon. Take Speedo’s LZR swimsuit, which was introduced in February. Fully 38 of the 42 world swimming records that have been broken since then have fallen to swimmers wearing LZRs.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

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