Posts Tagged 'neighbors'

Reason #93105 Summer Olympics>Winter Olympics

About a year ago, NBC added those little Olympic rings to its network bug. Maybe they never went away after 2008, who knows. Usually they’re translucent, but on rare and joyous occasions, they light up with the five colors of Olympic glory (that symbolize togetherness or competition or something). And that constant subliminal reminder that the Olympic games really shouldn’t ever be broadcast on anything but the National Broadcasting Company comes down to tonight’s spectacular Opening Ceremony… that’s being held indoors.

There’s nothing not to love about the Olympics. It happens so infrequently that clichés like the Super Bowl Party or World Cup Skivving Off Work For A Month To Watch A Sport Americans Can’t Even Pretend To Care About don’t hold water, and people can’t help but come together to root for their country and against whatever communists are hosting it. But the Winter Games are the bastard stepchild of that great athletic competition thought up by the ancient Greeks (who did nothing but think, when they weren’t waging war on each other).

I always loved the Winter Olympics. Snow capped mountains, figure skating, cereal tie-ins that let my brother and me send away for hockey sticks and proceed to ruin our parents’ living room–I didn’t realise these games were any less important or prestigious than their balmy-month counterparts, and wondered why newsmen started off their Olympic reports with how low the night’s broadcast rated. But it was that doubt, planted in my head during the 2002 games, that made me wonder whether the Winter Olympics really did matter. And the answer was, sadly, not really. Tonight, as I watch the Opening Ceremony, I’ll attempt to reflect on why.

First of all, it’s cold. Maybe it’s the 3 feet of snow I just lived through talking, but watching people be cold makes me cold. Sideline reporters, all be-parka’d and mittened, look like they hate their lives, and would give anything to kill Bob Costas and use his skin for warmth (or, conversely, be in  the studio with him, but that’s splitting hairs). I have the sympathetic chills, and that’s no fun.

It's an orange body condom.

And because it’s cold, everyone in the Winter Olympics is wearing a body condom. Even the figure skaters are wearing nylon mesh. Cos they’re skating on ice, and it’s effing cold. Summer Olympics feature shirtless men in pools and bikini-clad volleyball players on hot summer sand. They’re tan and sweaty and their struggle is raw and volatile. Winter athletes are windblown and red once they’re done flying down a mountain, and goggle lines are not a good look on the medal podium.

Winter sports require a tremendous amount of planning and money to participate. Truth be known, any kind of Olympic-level athlete has poured money and dedication into the pursuit of his goals, but there are far fewer barriers to entry into competition in the summer. A runner in Kenya needs only a long, flat path on which to run in order to become world-class, whereas a skier in Mexico needs access to a snow-capped mountain, money to afford the highest-caliber skis and equipment (and body condoms), and a desire to bolt down a mountain at 80 miles per hour. The Jamaican bobsledders made it work (or, didn’t), but when you watch the parade of nations, check out how many obscure island nations only have one poor schmoe representing them. Good luck, Cayman Islands.

Finally, it’s in Canada. We have to listen to the freaking Canadian anthem every freaking day. Sure, they’re our good-natured neighbors to the north, but they’re also our inconsequential neighbors to the north. They can’t even make it snow to host the games. Ninety-eight percent of Canada is an ice sheet, and the parts that aren’t are snow over permafrost. Watching the Olympic torch trace its route around such barren lands as Alert evoked a strong feeling of existential pointlessness that even a moderately more populated state, like maybe Algeria, wouldn’t. Canada is no China.

I do love the Olympics, really. Any kind of fortnight-long, every-four-years event makes that time feel special and different from any other in the year. We can compete with our global neighbors without banks or battlefields and learn about sports we wouldn’t even watch on ESPN Ocho on a normal day. But something about seeing such hot women athletes as Lindsey Vonn bundled up in a chunky cable knit turtleneck sweater and snow pants seems to lessen at least part of the appeal for watching otherwise unwatchable sports. I’ll watch, and I’ll try not to grumble through the whole 2 weeks. Go America.

Did I mention it’s cold?

UPDATE: Why is everyone a secret Canadian? Leonard Cohen? Joni Mitchell? If they were really proud of their Maple Leaf heritage, we’d know they were from there. Shania Twain, Alanis Morisette, Celine Dion–now those are proud Canadians. Bryan (Ryan?) Adams. But we forget that most people who are Canadian, are Canadian.

UPDATE 2: DONALD SUTHERLAND IS CANADIAN!?!?!?!

UPDATE 3: ARE WE EFFING SERIOUS?? MECHANICAL PROBLEMS?? China would have taken a sword through the torsos of every person responsible for this embarrassing as hell failure to launch.

Controversy, schmontroversy. She's hot. Go America.

The war downstairs

Is it wrong to wish death upon your neighbor?

Not death, necessarily, but I’d be lying if I said this woman wasn’t far from death’s door when we moved in a few months ago.

To understand the backstory here, imagine this blog post as one of those really clever episodes of Mad Men or Alias (remember that?) when they start at the end, jump backward an indeterminate span of time, and show you in 42 minutes how the lead character winds up with a bloody nose or at gunpoint or something (in this case) less dramatic.

The folks who lived in our apartment before us moved out because they started smelling cigarette smoke wafting in through their windows and convectors. But the price was right and conditions prime for us to get the heck out of dodge (aka our dank pit downstairs (aka Tom Ridge’s house)), so we rationalised that the smoke probably wasn’t *that* bad, and the lady who lived here was preggers afterall and was probably being sensitive to smells… and we signed on the dotted line. The building manager told us that the source of the smoke was in all likelihood an older woman who was no longer healthy enough to go outside for her ciggy breaks. Id points out that *MAYBE* the ciggy habit has something to do with our downstairs neighbor’s fragile health, but far be it for downstairs neighbor–let’s call her Ashtray–to recognize irony this late in the game.

To add insult to injury, I received a phone call from our building’s front desk while shopping at Bed Bath & Beyond for grownup’s candy and toys new apartment essentials the day after we moved in, inquiring with me exactly when all the banging and loud noises would stop, because evidently it’s rather unneighborly to construct affordable Swedish furniture in one’s own apartment. (And because evidently I’m apartment mom, but that’s a whole other story.) Ego has rarely seen me more enraged. So less than 24 hours in our new abode and we’ve already opened hostilities against one (but, let’s be honest, probably several) of our neighbors.

Secret Sam watching football. Isn't he cute?

Ashtray lights up at around 4 or 5pm weekdays–quitting time for most adults with normal people’s schedules–then moves to one of the back bedrooms at around 8 or 9pm–bedtime for most adults without insomnia, which mercifully doesn’t describe me or Ego. The result is a predictable pattern of wafty smoke that governs by when we should close our windows and/or shut off our heating units. Overall, not the most annoying thing about living here, but still just annoying enough that it prompts stiletto dance parties and the smuggling of secret noisemaking dogs into our apartment.

We often find ourselves wondering when she’d just die already, give our lungs and linens a break. But until then we’ll just combat her stinky habits with an army of scented candles, an artillery of Febreeze, and the hope that when she goes, she doesn’t leave a lit cigarette behind. Because like smoke, fire rises.


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