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Olympic comfort

Olympic cupcake
Photo by clevercupcakes / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

You know what I like about the Olympics (besides the thematically delicious cupcakes)? I just like knowing it’s there. During the two weeks in which the winter games are held in Vancouver, I know that I can turn on my TV, flip to NBC, and there is a 70% chance I can watch someone more athletic than me do something dangerous while wearing an outfit that would look ridiculous at a cocktail party. It’s comforting. It’s reassuring. It’s solid.

I like turning on the Olympics while I’m writing emails, or designing mockups, or coding HTML, or writing blog entries, like right now. It’s non-offensive, uplifting except when it’s devastating, and I can tune in and out without losing the plot. People spin, jump, zoom by. I got it. I like seeing Bob Costas in prime time and wondering what he gave the devil in exchange for never aging. I like listening to Dick Button talk about an ice skater’s artistry and hearing Scott Hamilton get SO EXCITED when someone lands a quadruple jump.

It can get boring and repetitive, especially after you’ve watched 20 people execute the same ski jump. It can be odd and perplexing, like when you watch men run around the snow on skis to shoot targets in a blizzard. (Who made this stuff up?) But it’s there when I need it. It’s like knowing I can always go home. I might not need to go there right now, but that haven is waiting if I need it.

It reminds me of when a radio station in town, WLRS, “The Walrus,” got bought or traded and had to change its programming rather rapidly and unexpectedly. During the week they were making the change, they played “I Am the Walrus” by the Beatles. All week. Every day. 24 hours a day. When I first tuned in I only caught half the song before pulling into my driveway. The next day I heard it again and thought, “What a coincidence! They played that song yesterday.” And then the song repeated and I wondered if the DJ was asleep or in the bathroom or asleep in the bathroom. Then I figured out what was going on and I found myself tuning into WLRS several times during the week to listen to the song over and over. When the DJs came back and the music changed, I kind of missed the song. I missed knowing it was there.

I suppose it’s like seeing a McDonalds in France. Yeah, it’s a rather disturbing sign of the homogeneity of globalization, but there is something comforting about knowing you can get a hamburger and fries in France that tastes like a hamburger and fries back home. I like it when the Olympics is on and I’ll miss it when it’s gone, but until then I’ll be tuning in and ignoring it while I go about doing other things.

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24 Comments

Deanna - The Unnatural Mother • February 15, 2010 at 4:36 pm

I so have Olympic Fever!! I love it for most of the same reasons too, I also love seeing the skin tight outfits knowing that I’ll never have to be caught dead in one of them!

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lulu • February 15, 2010 at 4:53 pm

I love the Winter Olympics much more than the summer ones: skating and skiing are things I would do for fun, and they involve serious clothes shopping. That cruel accident has left its mark, though.

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Rene • February 15, 2010 at 6:17 pm

Too funny about “I am the Walrus…”. We had a radio station in AZ that did that in 1999, with, you guessed it….Prince’s “1999″. I remember tuning in and thinking it’s such a coincidence…even talking to others about it. We laughed when we figured it out too, and tuned in to be in on the joke…and we missed it when it was gone.

Glad to know I’m not alone on this crazy planet!

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Stephoodle • February 15, 2010 at 6:20 pm

Or like being able to go into a Starbucks after you’ve moved to another country, and the decor is still the same. :)

Can’t wait for tomorrow… curling is on!

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Rachel • February 15, 2010 at 8:59 pm

I love hearing the personal stories of the athletes from countries that we never hear about. I get excited for little countries when they win a medal. And I love knowing they are freezing their hineys off in the snow and I’m warm in my living room.

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Glenda • February 15, 2010 at 9:11 pm

The comment about Bob Costas cracked me up. When we were watching last night, I commented to hubby how wide open B.C.’s eyes are and how seldom he blinks. And NO wrinkles at the outer edges of his eyes — which is too bad, because I think men look infinitely sexier with those.

I also get a kick out of listening to Scott Hamilton commentate — he still has a passion for the sport, which is pretty cool.

One of the other NBC guys commented to Dick Button something about “when you skated a million years ago”. Dick Button just let it roll, but, geez!! By the way, he looks pretty great, especially considering he was winning medals back in the 40′s.

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gazellegirl • February 15, 2010 at 11:21 pm

Excellent post, PQ. :)

Per Wiki facts, Norwegians made up biathlon (shooting and skiing), around the mid-19th century. It’s a military maneuver and it’s actually kinda hard to work up a sweat then calm down your body so it stops shaking so you can hit a small target. Introduced to the Olympics in 1924, but not an official event until 1960, with women ok’d for competing in 1992. I kinda think it would be fun to learn.

What I don’t get, and my best Canadian friend digs a ton, is curling. Can anyone help me love that one more?

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PurpleGirl • February 16, 2010 at 2:18 am

I feel the same way–women’s speed skating is cheerily going on behind me. I like it so much I record it (since I work evenings) for later.

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Melodee • February 16, 2010 at 5:18 am

That’s it exactly. I also like how the Olympics make it look so EASY. I’m pretty sure I could land a triple toe loop.

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Lesley • February 16, 2010 at 5:23 am

I’m the same – I love the Olympics, summer or winter and always have. The weirder and more obscure the sports, the better. I love being able to work out what is good in the more unusual sports – boarding cross/moguls/half pipe just from watching the BBC guide to the sport shown before the event. I’m an instant expert!

I was gutted to miss the Mens’ Downhill yesterday and kept tuning in thinking they would replay it but to no avail! It’s my favourite.

Looking forward to Team GB getting a medal and us all going crazy over here – we don’t get many Winter Olympic medals for obvious reasons!

You have company on the sofa. xx

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beep • February 16, 2010 at 8:24 am

It is the very best thing to watch while breastfeeding my beloved but needy son when I am tired at the end of the day.

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fd • February 16, 2010 at 8:50 am

bah humbug!
am madly jealous you all can watch these events live or more or less. being a zillion time zones away means only summaries are broadcast. and they’re broadcast during the morning when i’m at work. so i’ve resorted to taping and watching summaries 20hours after the event when the news has already told me the outcome. really spoils the effect.
and to add to the miserygutsyness, i’ve just had my birthday and realise i am officially about a decade too old ever ever to be an olympic figure skater. the dream just doesn’t make sense any more. years of ignoring my lack of talent and discipline i could take. simply being too old is rubbish.

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Sheila O • February 16, 2010 at 10:05 am

Olympics are nice….but the Tour de France now that’s fantastic television. I even understand it (well almsot.)

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Danielle • February 16, 2010 at 10:15 am

I love the Olympics too – I can’t believe they’re more-or-less pulling it off in Vancouver. It’s a city that rarely gets snow anyway, and they’re having their warmest winter on record. (Not to be confused with Whistler, the ski hill which is about an hour away – they get tons of snow).

Last week I went skating for the first time in years, and wobbled around the ice without hurting myself or looking like too much of an idiot (I hope). But it sure gives me more respect for the leaps and jumps that they do, while smiling and wearing a skimpy little Spandex dress.

Not to mention the moguls. OMG. Are they human?

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Karen • February 16, 2010 at 11:26 am

“I like seeing Bob Costas in prime time and wondering what he gave the devil in exchange for never aging”

^^ LMAO!!!!!!!!!! ^^

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Annimal • February 16, 2010 at 12:39 pm

got to be a little snarky here–what the hell was with Bob’s outfit the first night of competition?? Did he look in a mirror or dress in a power outage? He had a brown tweed blazer, purple/gold striped tie and a powder blue shirt! I couldn’t look at him!
Plus, why did we need to hear Chris Collingsworth and MISS most of the women’s moguls medal ceremony? To me bronze is just as important as gold. Unbelievable.
(agree with all the comments on how fabulous the Olympics are)

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Steve • February 16, 2010 at 1:08 pm

This is the first time I’ve ever watched any part of the Winter Olympics (2008 was the first time I ever attempted to watch the summer olympics). It is definitely interesting to watch, but just having it on is okay too…especially when its the same stuff over, and over, and over again…

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Amy • February 16, 2010 at 5:01 pm

Been too busy to have Olympics on yet, but Judge Judy is my normal background TV! I just get it on the DVR and play it back while I’m doing other stuff. Makes changing litterboxes more entertaining.

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Rahim Samuel • February 16, 2010 at 5:40 pm

I love the Olympics too. I can’t really get into the winter games as much as the summer games. I am, however, digging the luge competition. It’s incredibly dangerous but it looks really fun.

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Quix • February 16, 2010 at 5:41 pm

Being a semi serious ex-diver and gymnast, I love the summer games. I do love ice skating, but I’m not a huge fan of the winter games as a whole. Honestly, not a huge fan of winter. But they do make for great background while surfing the internet or playing web games at night. :)

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Amanda • February 16, 2010 at 10:29 pm

I also love the Olympics. I’m honestly not sure why though, because I’m not a big sports fan. I think its the unity of it all!

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littlem • February 18, 2010 at 6:28 pm

@Melodee – They do make you think that, don’t they? I think we should have the Olympics more than once every two years; I always work out more when they’re on, with precisely the same thought – “Some day I’ll be able to do a triple toe loop too!”

LOL.

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Kimberly • February 20, 2010 at 10:10 pm

I feel that exact same way about the Olympics! Also, I heard somewhere that food from McDonald’s is the most-requested “last meal” from death row inmates. Not sure that it’s true, but it makes sense – you KNOW your Big Mac will taste like the Big Mac you remember. Who knows what your steak might turn out like.

Goo goo ga joob!

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littlem • February 27, 2010 at 6:52 pm

Still being comforted. :-)

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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JenFul now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

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