August 12, 2008

Live-Blogging Middle-of-the-Night at the Olympics

Welcome to Beijing, we're here in Berkeley, California, where we'll be live-blogging into the wee hours of Tuesday Morning, Pacific Time. Thanks for staying awake, having a glass of chardonnay, to share this moment with me. Refresh the page early & often.

12:45 AM PT I've been watching whitewater kayak slaloms for awhile. It's like skiing slaloms.. but with kayaks. This Canadian Dave Ford is in his fifth Olympics, handily beating the Irish & Dutch scores. Watch here: Or this perhaps will directly open the player: My player looks more like a slide-show than like television - BUT, no blah-blah commentators, just subtle text commenting at the bottom & the soothing sounds of the crowd & artificial white-water. It's the semifinals for the Men's K-1, it looks like a water-park slide.

1:01 AM The sound & text commentary seems to be way ahead of the choppy video. Australia has taken first place. The Live Commentary pointed asks, "Looks fast -- can he keep this up?". We'll find out soon, depending on which dude he was referring to.

1:07 AM Wait, now some country called TOG seems to be leading, wherever that is. Austria's Helmut Oblinger is in his fourth Olympic games - Don't these guys do anything else?

1:12 AM I'm keeping my eyes peeled for a purple flag. This is the place to find one. The NBC text commentator informs us: "trying to make up for that by going all-out now." I'm inclined to disagree.

1:18 AM. France's Fabien Lefevre apparently "revolutionized the sport with his one-stoke [sic] upstream technique." First of all, everyone knows there are no rivers in France, second of all, certainly none you'd care to paddle upstream.

1:23 AM The possibly non-fictional country TOG has beat Australia by .01 of a point, hardly enough to matter. This sport would be more interesting if everyone got to race in a different white-water river.

1:30 AM Great television by any standard: a fifteen minute shot of the Shunyi Olympic Rowing-Canoeing Park, a beautiful spiral grassy garden, with rock music & an echoey Chinese announcer. The Men's C-1 final is up next, perhaps we'll explore a bit before that commences.

1:37 AM Well, as promised, I explored a bit, & I did find another bottle of White Wine, a fine Beyerskloof Chenin Blanc from 2006 - wonderful year for acidic bilge. Other sports I could be watching right now on my fancy 30-frames-per-minute viewer, in alphabetical order: Archery, Badmitten, Basketball, Rowing, Soccer, Softball, Tennis, Waterpolo, Weightlifting, or Wrestling. If we stick with Kayaking, tho, we could be awake at 3:15 AM to watch TOG win a gold or fucking Lefevre whip out his revolutionary up-stoke. I prefer the summer sports that are kind of winter sports in disguise.

1:45 AM Furthermore, many of both the winter & summer sports are performed inside, so why can't gymnastics or judo be performed in the Autumn or Spring? These accents now singing "We Will Rock You" sound suspiciously Michiganderan.

1:48 AM, The schedule was confusing, but I think I fixed above errors (Thank you, Ted, for pointed out my inconsistencies.) Benn Fraker of America is off & really paddling his kayak a lot thru those scary white rapids. Whoo! He wins for handsomeness every day.

1:51 AM I don't like the looks of this Spaniard with the horribly un-American name Ander Elosegui, kayaking seconds faster than gentle Benn.

1:56 AM The NBC text commentators have abandoned us! I'm lost without them! Isn't it reneging horribly on their job to completely miss commenting on the finals.

2:00 AM The least we can expect in the 21st-Century is snappy instantaneous live videos from China, text commentation from experts who know more about kayaking than me, & an occasional cheer-leader shot. That's all we ask. Greater Great Britain's David Florence just took the lead by a big margin.

2:06 AM "Sorry I got kicked off the internet!" a feeble excuse from my poor text robot friend. How come the English are such dominant kayakists? Seems they have rivers all over Europe now. Wait, wait, now Slovakia's getting the Gold, & the UK silver.. This all happens too fast for me to understand; & now we're back to our beautiful endless shot of the Shunyi Park. They should play little cartoons of the Olympic Mascots while we're waiting.

2:15 AM I think the dog puked in the next room. Or at least there was a lot of swearing that wasn't related to Poland's abysmal choke. I think it's almost time for the K-1 finals.

2:19 AM Anyone notice the conspicuous lack of Asians or Africans from this game? Ireland's Eoin Rheinisch has finished, & I believe he can win it if none of the other countries race.

2:23 AM Helmut Oblinger fails to dethrone Rheinisch from his penultimately-last-place standing. My text commentor appears to have been banned from the internet in China again.

2:29 AM Hi-lights from the resumed text commentary: "Take that Lefevre!" I wish I knew what had happened to upstoke stupid fucking Lefevre!

"Dave Ford, the 41-year-old is next... Since I'm 62, I want Dave to win!"
Ageism! On National Internet Television!
Ford, incidentally, was ahead at the beginning of this run, & fell behind half-way thru, common un-clutchiness with Canadian Kayakists.

2:35 AM Germany's young Grimm just kicked stern, coming in five seconds ahead of Ireland! An upset!? Lefevre approaches...

2:38 AM France surrenders to unexpected Teutonic mighty speediness. The Australian's name is Warwick Draper-- many of the parents of future Olympic Kayakers having apparently consulted with Thomas Pynchon.

2:41 AM No exhalations in the bleachers as Benjamin Boukpeti from TOG challenges Grimm's unexpected low score... ... Looks like he's going to do it.

2:43 AM What drama! This is what it's all about isn't it! Boukpeti cleaves his paddle in twain, exultation exultation!

2:47 AM Apparently TOG is Togo, & Boukpeti came in third over all, after Germany's Gold & France's Silver. "Grimm's fairy tales!" points out the robot.

2:52 AM I should probably go to sleep, altho all this witching-hour kayaking has got my adrenaline flowing like Togo's Mono River, & I still have three-quarters of a bottle of Beyerskloof Chenin Blanc. Thank you all for your comments & enthusiastic e-mails. The finest kayakists of the world are receiving their due medals in Chenyi's grassy spiral gardens. Sleep deeply & dream of Adidas wetsuits.


George said...

Good evening, James - I'm right here all night with you reading your witty analysis. Cheers!

Lou said...

Bull shit! Lefevre should have choked! He never had it in him!

Vlad said...

We will crush your country!

Brains said...

Ha!, "national internet television." I stayed up too and fell asleep to sailing and text comments like "there's some more algae." And yes there are tons of torrential rivers in France!

Orange Julep said...


Quill said...

James! I was right there with you in the bus station in Sofia. But those liter bottles of Zagorka weren't enough to hold my interest in the same damn converted bobsled course with unreadably fast & small Bulgarian subtitles.