Monday, March 01, 2010

Olympically Overloaded

    I wanted to say the Winter Olympics left me cold in memory of my friend and master punster, Mike Stoker, but I guess I'll have to wait until they hold the games someplace where they have a really heavy snowfall, like Virginia. Though the games got a little slushy at times, the Vancouver Olympics was an entertaining diversion from the usual fare, although I'm seeing skaters in my sleep; leaping, twirling, dancing, jumping, racing, skaters. I tried ice skating once when I was a kid but it hurt my ankles. It just wasn't a Southern thing. Melody and I particularly enjoyed the women's figure skating where they spin vigorously and hand-lift one skate overhead. I affectionately referred to these moves as, the "Multi-Lutz" into the "Here's My Vagina." The pairs added the innovative "Hogback Growler," and Johnny Weir did the "Nancy." Melody did get a little annoyed with me when each time a skater hit the deck, I yelled, "Down goes Frazier," in my best Howard Cosell impression. Boxing on ice should be considered.

The games began on thin ice. Ordinarily, I approve of any sport where there is the potential for fatalities, but who could have imagined that sliding down an ice chute at 100mph, feet first and on your back, would produce an injury? I thought this was the reason people attended auto races. This was like NASCAR, only without the car. Then, in addition to a lack of snow for the alpine skiing events in the always rainy Northwest, the opening ceremony suffered a mechanical malfunction when one of those giant Fortress of Solitude crystal things didn't inflate and some poor schmuck was left standing with his torch in his hand. The mystery of who would be the last torchbearer was disappointing when it turned out to be Wayne Gretzky instead of Gordon Lightfoot. Fortunately, the games themselves were exhilarating and they managed to get through both an opening and closing ceremony without a single appearance by Celine Dion.

Some of the winter sports are just plain goofy. There was the skating and shooting contest for potential militia recruits in the tundra, and what is this fresh obsession with Curling? For over a week, MSNBC forsook its' "The Network for Politics" moniker for the "Curling Network." This is a sport for the truly bored. I've been more thoroughly entertained in Boca Raton watching elderly Jews play Shuffleboard. If Curling is an Olympic event, then Senior Shuffleboard should be too. It's the most enduring summer sport of all. I know NBC is losing a fortune on this venture, but the sheer number of commercials seemed way over the top. At least we can thank Obama for reinstating the regulation that forbids advertisers from jacking up the volume on their television commercials. Now, when some red-faced, fat-ass in a cowboy hat starts to scream about the biggest auto sale in history, you don't have to lunge for the "mute" button quite as desperately.

The games had its share of characters and emotions, like the spoilsport Rusky figure skater and his cheerleader Vlad Putin, who learned that real men don't need quads, even if they're dressed in a black leotard with an embroidered snake around their neck. And the Dutch coach that got his skater disqualified should be an object lesson about questioning authority. The story of the Canadian skater who lost her mother was truly touching, although the series of subsequent interviews on every, single, NBC news or sports show bordered on the macabre; especially the Today Show interview where Ann Curry virtually oozed empathy. Of all the winter athletes, I learned that Shaun White is either Superman or the Tiger Woods of snowboarding. Perhaps I should rephrase that. And the Canadian National Anthem is far lovelier than ours, though not as tedious as the Russian anthem, which is longer than "Stairway to Heaven." I understand that Vladimir Putin reared his head and requested that the discarded old Soviet anthem be reinstated, so it's never too late to join my crusade to change our National Anthem from a Bavarian drinking song, to the Ray Charles version of "America the Beautiful." Yes, we can.

The hockey final between the USA and Canada was the most watched television event in Canadian history, proving the old rumor to be true that Canadians prefer their sexual congress in the canine manner so that they can both watch the hockey game. That's where the term "Mounties" comes from. When Canada won in overtime, I was happy for them. By the time announcer Al Michaels proffered, "This is a goal that will resonate throughout history," I had already forgotten about it. Though ice hockey's not my thing, this looked like another NHL All-Star game, and nobody I knew was broken-hearted that the U.S. won silver. I mean, it wasn't like the Tigers lost or anything. And it left the Canadians in a good mood for the closing ceremonies. The athletes were dressed in paper smocks that made them all look like colonoscopy patients or the front row at a Gallagher show. Then, a group of large men pushed giant, inflated beavers onto the ice, accompanied by dancing Royal Mounted Police and checkered-shirted lumberjacks, making the whole thing appear to have been choreographed by either John Waters or Monty Python. So finally, it's farewell to the Winter Olympics until Russia in 2014, (unless President Palin decides to boycott the games), and on to London, 2012, where we can return to real sports like ping pong, synchronized swimming, and bikini beach volleyball.


Anonymous said...

I second the motion for "America the Beautiful" as national anthem wholeheartedly. Not only is it more descriptive of the country -- as opposed to just a flag in a war zone (not my favorite imagery); we wouldn't be subjected to so many horrible versions by singers at sporting events who just can't hit the highs and lows.

I suspect no one was really paying much attention when Star Spangled was chosen. It was too soon in our history. Heck, we didn't even go from sea-to-shining-sea then. It's time for change we can believe in -- and actually sing.

Janette said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

Now that was a masterpiece of some much needed wit! TRUE WIT! Thank you for doing what you do best! I thought you were going to say that another socialistic nation took home the most medals but the President Palin remark was priceless! O SAY CAN YOU SEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!! The Peace of the Lord! FR. FERGHUS FARKEN

Anacreontic Man said...

If I may, I would like to contribute to the mending of what may be a gap in the knowledge of many here regarding the origin of the tune that has come to be known as "The Star-Spangled Banner".

The tune is not Bavarian, but it is certainly English, and it may, or may not be considered to be a "drinking song", depending upon how you view it.

Back in the mid-18th century, there was in London a poplular social society, or "gentlemen's club", of amateur musicians, composed mostly of barristers, doctors, and other professional men who gathered regularly to perform concerts. They called themselves, "The Anacreontic Society", after the 6th Century B.C. court poet Anacreon, whose poems, "anacreontics", were used to entertain patrons in Teos and Athens. Dubbed "the Convivial Bard of Greece", Anacreon's songs often celebrated women, wine, and entertaining. Not very much of his poetry survives. However, what does is certainly entertaining, if you are in the right mood to read it. I won't bore you with it further... seek Anacreon and "anacreontics" in the Wiki, as you like, or not.

This society's primary goal, beyond the usual objectives of companionship and stimulating conversation, was to promote an interest in music. The society presented regular concerts of music, and included among their guests such important musicians as Franz Joseph Haydn, who was the special guest at their concert in January 1791. The society also boasted amongst its membership such persons as Dr. Samuel Johnson, James Boswell, Sir Joshua Reynolds and Henry Purcell.

Their official song, called "The Anacreontic Song", was composed by a gentleman by the name of John Stafford Smith, of Gloucester, a church organist and early musicologist (a personage not wholly unlike Randy!) 8-).

The lyrics to the song were written by one Ralph Tomlinson, Esq., a president of that society who had died some 25 years prior to the words of his poem being set to the music of Smith's tune. The verses went thusly, as represented by the first verse (imagine a lilting waltz)...

To ANACREON in Heav'n, where he sat in full Glee,
A few Sons of Harmony sent a Petition,
That He their Inspirer and Patron wou'd be;
When this Answer arriv'd from the JOLLY OLD GRECIAN
"Voice, Fiddle, and Flute,
"No longer be mute,
"I'll lend you my Name and inspire you to boot,
"And, besides, I'll instruct you like me, to intwine
"The Myrtle of VENUS with BACCHUS's Vine.

The story of how Francis Scott Key came to write his famous ode, "The Defence of Fort McHenry" is certainly well known. The fact that he wrote it to fit the meter and rhythm of "The Anacreontic Song" was no accident... he had written several poems with the same structure and intent: to be sung to the same tune, as it was at that time a very popular tune both in London on the Strand, and in the American Colonies as well, where there were several satellite Anacreontic Societies, as well.

The song was sung to a martial tempo, and became very popular as a patriotic tune at public events, competing with, "Hail Columbia", and "My Country 'tis of Thee" (ironically, the same tune as "God Save the King") for the distinction of being THE national hymn of American officialdom. However,it didn't begin to become anything like the official anthem of the U.S. until it was recogized for official use y the U.S. Navy in 1889, and it was 1916 before President Woodrow Wilson recognized it as well, for the Federal Government. Actually, it wasn't until March 3, 1931 that it became the National Anthem, by an act of Congress, signed into law by President Herbert Hoover.

May we all come to intwine, the myrtle of Venus with Bacchus's Vine!

Respectfully Submtted...

SIREEN said...

How 'bout Brother Billy Preston's MY COUNTRY TIZ OF THEE! or Brother Ray's LIFT EVERY VOICE? Now datz uh national anthem!Thank you Jesus!

Anonymous said...

how come ours is the only national anthem that talks about bombs and rockets?

Anacreontic Man said...

It isn't about our bombs and rockets. It's about the other guy's bombs and rockets, which we providentially survived.

"O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: 'In God is our trust.'
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!"

Now if you want to read a REALLY militant national anthem, just check out the translation of "La Marseillaise" sometime.

Anacrontic Man said...

The red-glaring rockets and bursting bombs in the song are not ours, but those of the British invaders.

And they illuminated the flag, revealing that "our flag was still there", and we remained undefeated.

None of which diminishes the merits of "America the Beautiful". I, too think that the song expresses much more clearly the ideals of what America should offer to the world.

Despite the national dichotomy of "America the Beautiful" over "The Star-Spangled Banner" based on the latter's war imagery, "America" continues to be held in very high esteem by a large number of Americans.

Perhaps in time, enough momentum will build to accord the song legal status as a national hymn, or as a national anthem of equal official importance as "SSB". After all, SSB was written in 1814, and it was 1916 before it was recognized as a national hymn at the Federal level, and 1931 before it was "canonized" as the national anthem.

ATB, is much younger. The music was written in 1882, as a tune for a church hymn entitled "O Mother Dear, Jerusalem".

The poem was written in 1893, but wasn't paired with the music until 1910. So, as these things go, it is still barely a century since the song became part of the national culture.

Shecky Kierkegaard McGuirk said...

I actually think that Kentucky rock-a-billy singer Jimmy Logdon's (under the name of Jimmy Loyd )I'VE GOT A ROCKET IN MY POCKET should be our National Anthem! Why? because it best describes our nation's love for Independence and individuality and what the heck it was later covered by the generation of love's NRBQ . Plus it speaks volumes of Rockets & even though it is not bursting in air...take heed... the fuse is lit!

True Patriot said...

People! America is in crisis. There are two Americas! Those who believe Lee Greenwood's "Proud To Be An American" should be our new National Anthem and those of us true patriots that believe it should be banned from any and every public gathering in this great country of ours. Remember! The future of America is in your ears!

Anonymous said...

Yet another homophobic "joke" on your blog.


I'm a little slow but what homophobic joke?

Father Farken said...

Randy! How 'bout a new TV show...O SAY CAN YOU SING...THE NATIONAL ANTHEM! You could host it! Run it like IDOL! Get O'Reiley, Oberman, Al Sharpton and Gov.Palin as Judges! I could be the referee. Since no one can sing it, with the exception of Roseanne Barr, we are guaranteed a hit. Sputnik & Muddy! Pack your bags! We are going to Hollywood! or uh... DC!