Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lent the Games Begin: My uneventful return to a Daily Deadline

"The Holy Ghost is always the one that'll getcha." - CAF

So wrote the wise and hilarious Carrie Adams Flower, friend to the crockpot, and the first of three in a trinity of friends, loved ones, personal motivators, and armchair psychologists who suggested I should perhaps take the return of Lent as an opportunity to return to blogging with any consistency whatsoever - to revisit last year's practice of a daily Lenten deadline all the way until the rock rolled away from the tomb or the internet blew up, whichever came first. Carrie recommended I Lent-blog again. Another friend said the same, mere DAYS LATER (thanks Michelle!). Carrie told me that if i heard a third voice echoing the writing notion, it was indeed a higher, and undeniable calling. Like that of on-sale Doritos when you find yourself in a gas station snack shop while intoxicated. Anyway, the third was heard (thanks Mar!), and here's my beginning - the word.

(I'm not sure if that's more sacrilegious against Christianity or Johnny Cochran, actually, but no offense intended to either party).

Carrie is awesome. I think I will have to devote more time to said awesomeness on another day of the Lenten crock, as it is extensive. But if you can't wait until then, please check the following top of the world lookin' down on creation kinda awesome. Yes, fanfreakingtastic.

From her most recent post, I note that Carrie too has Olympic fever! Though her fever seems to be more of a cold/congestion/ one night Nyquil situation, I think her justification of lack of geopolitical implications in medal standings versus individual stories of redemption (or not) for athletes does explain her feelings well.

I, however, am a sucker for these Olympics even if the snowboarders are keepin' it faux-cashze in faux denim and America's sweethearts are now the Chinese (get used to it! unless the gold medal is tainted with lead). Like last year's Lenten blog challenge, I found myself struggling to turn away from televised sporting entertainment toward writing. And we're not even talking about March Madness here! Though I am American, the American athletes do not represent an emotional attachment to my bygone days of college that say, college basketball stars might, which would make it hard not to watch. I think the Winter Olympics present even more intrigue to me in many ways because the athletic performance they achieve is so far removed from any experience I have ever had, and probably will ever have - unless I am shot from a cannon as part of a circus act in Buffalo.

So many of the winter games seem to be human versions of NASCAR - luge, skeleton, short track skating - there's a lot of curves, turns, passes, necessity for caution, aggression, plotting, perfect timing. Breakneck pacing. Making a move. Hugging of turns. Wearing of helmets and gloves and flame-retardant jumpsuits (ok, many jumpsuits have flame graphics on the arms and legs). The same is true for skiing, snowboarding, and that crazy-as-you-wanna-be giant ski jump thing.

I get scared going regular, green-trail-easy-hill, downhill skiing. Snowboarding as a casual, recreational sport seems nuts to me because hey - isn't it bad if you can't free your feet from one unnatural position stuck on plank? But in the Olympics, just strapping sticks to one's feet and jumping off a cliff is commonplace. Does not compute in my brain. What did they just do? How many miles per hour? What the...Things being achieved with human bodies are so unfathomable to me personally that I cannot stop watching others do them. The Summer Olympics are still incredible in terms of physical human achievement, but I have physically jogged terribly slowly around a track before. Does that make it less impressive when people do so at the speed of cheetahs? No, but I can at least partially imagine the sensation of running, based on personal experience. Plus, the Summer Olympics is already loved. I don't have to explain loving them - it's assumed I do. I'm American!

The exclusivity of the Winter Games (competition among those who've been flinging their bodies onto ice ramps of various shapes and sizes since they were four years old because Uncle Sven was the former world champion and had a backyard luge track, for example), while at times unsettling, is also part of the intrigue. I can't do that. I can't understand how they do it. I wish I could do even a part of it. Even a single jump or spin or even the, in my opinion, less intriguing foot work of ice skaters. Heck, I'd even take some ice dancing talent if I could get it!

And unmistakable to the Olympics, no matter how cheesy they try to make it, is athlete emotion. Highest joys and greatest disappointments occur daily, mere seconds apart. As I goofed around with new layouts for the fishcrockpot (old time crock fans will recall I've been talking about reformatting for about 8 months now), I watched two women have their hopes dashed and legs splayed in the downhill skiing final. Watching the falls, I thought they were both at least paralyzed. Crashtest dummies in Volvos take gentler hits than these women. The commentator explained one skier traveled the length of 2/3rds of a football field in mid-air before crashing to the ground headfirst into a flag marking the course. Yet getting up from a fall that knocked her around an ice hill like a pinball between the flappers, that skier was slamming her pole into the snow - frustrated that her race was over, Olympic hopes lost.

Seeing human bodies succeed and fail so dramatically and incredibly and unbelievably with ice, snow, steel, fiberglass, and a boatload of spandex and Blistex is really, really captivating. Add to that the fact that these bodies have personalities attached making them people and WOW, suddenly I'm crying when the favorite to win gold wins gold, and when the 19 year old french guy skates like a young Johnny Weir and can't believe it himself.

Though ridiculously removed from the majority of abilities, talents, and physical potentials of human beings on earth (yes, even the curlers or else wouldn't we all be doing that?), the events of the Winter Olympics, like the Summer Olympics, and as cliche as it may be to say, really do bring out the humanity of humans. The fact that I have an emotional response to a Finnish luger - fairly incredible. And I think, whether you give a crap or not (I couldn't tell you who won what today in the slightest, or what countries' medal counts look like), we can all agree on the greatest gift given to human kind by this Olympiad - uncensored commentary by Dick Button, resident sass master!

See you tomorrow! Because that's what Lent means.
(cue the majestic Olympic soundtrack to play this one out...)


  1. welcome back, g-unit! and i loooove the olympics too :). (USA is winning the medal count 14 to germany's 10, sehr gut. we're also leading in golds, woot!).

  2. Holy crap, dude! I didn't know you actually DID return to your blog! I thought you were paying my lip service, lady! I am so excited - I have days worth of Lenten Ginny Awesomeness to read! This comment doesn't have enough exclamation points, so I'm going to add another one!