Watching the Winter Olympics -- 02/09/02

I watched the last half of the opening ceremonies last night. Sweden was marching into the arena when I tuned it in on the tv in our living room. We switched to digital cable earlier this week and last night was the first time I had turned it on since the digital service was installed. I think we used to get seventy-five channels -- I dunno, something like that -- and now we must get a couple hundred -- at least when I turned the cable box it was set to channel 202. Our old cable box had a number pad on it so you could directly input a channel number but this one didn't and the though of going one channel at a time from 202 to 10 (which is where the Olympics was) did not seem like fun (yeah, I suppose I could have kept going to higher numbers until it reached the upper end and started over, but I don't know how many channels there are... besides which, when you step through the channels, it displays the name of the program being shown and how much longer that program has to run... which I suppose is helpful, but it certainly slows down the process. Never fear, I hunted around the room until I found the right remote control and made it hop directly to channel 10 so I watched the Swedish team's entrance.

[You may have guessed that I'm not a big fan of remote controls. Maybe it's because I grew up with a choice of three or four channels... you picked a show and sat down to watch it... if, half an hour or an hour later, you wanted to watch a show on a different station, you got up and changed the channel. In other words, I'm not a channel surfer... although my son Sean is a world-class champion channel surfer. In fact, I find remotes to be very annoying... the living room tv has a cable box and a VCR and a DVD player (and a PlayStation) connected and there is this big remote with about seven thousand buttons on it to control all of that. Two or three weeks ago I rented a movie and Nancy and I settled down to enjoy it... well, we tried... it was a VHS tape... but the remote did not a button marked for VCR or DVD and we could not figure out how to make the television show the signal from the VCR instead of from the DVD... finally Nancy hit on the right button just as I was about to go behind the media cabinet to manually disconnect everything except the VCR-to-TV cables. Uh, yeah, I guess even if I am not a channel surfer, I still have the male impulse to take direct action. *grin*]

Anyway, I didn't want to watch the Olympic broadcast by myself so I wandered upstairs to our room and turned on the tv there (Ukraine... followed by Uzbekistan) Nancy was just finishing her paper... so we watched the extraveganza that was being put on as she proofread and then printed her paper... Well, we had tea and chatted and attempted to watch television while ignoring the babbling idiots the network had doing the commentary. One of them was the lead woman from the Today show... I keep confusing her with the one who used to team up on some talk show with the guy who hosts that really lame millionaire quiz show. The one from the Today show (Katie Kourick? something like that... she's the one who doesn't have a line of clothing made in foreign sweatshops)... Yeah, I know, I'm gonna flunk my celebrity bimbo recognition course... I was surprised, given the blatant political bias I've seen her display on her morning show, that she wasn't being critical of President Bush, although I didn't see the first half of the show... Anyway, last night NBC had her teamed up with Bob Costas who, at least, I think, is supposed to be a sportscaster... but then they had another guy (whose name I did not catch) who was making the most idiotic comments... I would almost swear that he had to be drunk but I guess he wasn't because the three of them were just chatting away all night... I would have turned the sound off, except then we couldn't have heard the music. (Although, with their babbling, it was difficult to hear the music anyway.)

I was very impressed with the eclectic collection chosen to carry the olympic banner -- a couple of Nobel Peace Prize winners, a multi-zillionaire movie director/producer, an underwater explorer, a olympic ski champion from my youth, etc.... an unexpected but fascinating group. It was also amusing to listen to the NBC motor-mouths attempting to pretend that the selection of the miracle hockey team of 1980 to light the fire was some kind of big surprise (when it had been in all of the newspapers, etc. earlier in the week)... I also couldn't believe how poor the NBC camera work was... They must have hired their crew and director straight from MTV!

I might watch parts of the actual competition sometime during the next week or so... or I might not... I find it is extremely frustrating to watch the summer olympics on American television... no matter which network is doing the broadcast, it is always horrible... If an American athlete is not in contention for a medal, then that sport does not exist... and their attitude is so embarassing... so ignorantly jingoistic... and besides which, the actual coverage of those events they do deem of enough parochrial interest to broadcast is just plain bad... announcers who haven't got a clue... and they spend all of those millions of dollars and then show very little actual competition... they run all of these tear-jerking human interest up-close-and-personal pieces intead of showing the sports events that are supposed to be the reason for the broadcast.

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