Monday, August 25, 2008

The Olympics: In Retrospect

Okay, I never did muster up the effort to do an Olympics running diary, and to be honest, I'm kind of disappointed in myself. I kind of just blame Justin for not taking the initiative that would've, in turn, spurred me on. Regardless, like many others, I watched way more Olympic television than I had initially anticipated. Well, it's all over now, and I'm just going to spat out a few lingering thoughts.

It doesn't matter how much coverage it got or how much it was talked about - the Michael Phelps spectacle was fucking awesome. During many of his races, I was in Wyoming (see below), and my mom and I would wake up each day and immediately find out what time his races were. My mom gave a shit. This woman doesn't have one interested sports bone in her body, and she was sucked in. This is amazing to me. I saw the first relay when Lizak came back to win, and I saw the butterfly when I seriously thought that the Olympics were orchestrating a complex conspiracy to ensure Phelps the eight golds. I was convinced he didn't win that race, but thanks to Sports Illustrated photos, I have since been proven wrong. The naked eye can be deceiving. Regardless, the first week of the Olympics was goddamn captivating, particularly due to Phelps.

I really have no desire to play volleyball - sand or indoor. I just don't think it's that much fun, and it makes my fucking wrists/forearms burn and sting like nothing else. However, I get sucked into watching volleyball. I have no idea why. It probably has something to do with my propensity to watch anything that involves competition. I genuinely feel for the athletes and their plight/elation. Lame sounding? Yep...but the intense emotion each man/woman has to be feeling during the Olympics is beyond my realm of thought. Or at least I think it is.

On that note, I've been listening to sports commentators for two weeks bitch and make fun of seemingly "absurd" Olympic sports like handball, badminton, or trampoline. Fuck that. I say make up more outlandish competition. The fact that a pair of men have devoted their livelihoods to perfecting the sport of badminton is amazing to me. I eat that shit up. I mean, I used to play badminton in my backyard all hours of the day/evening when I was growing up (my family was big into it for some reason). And while I'm dicking around and playing on a late summer evening, some eleven year old kid in Poland is waking up at six in the morning and being berated into how to properly strike the shuttlecock (never thought I'd actually type that word in my life). I just find all that shit intriguing. Devoting your life to handball is fucking devotion. You have to bail on hanging out with your friends at the local swimming hole to go practice your skills at handball...awesome. Finger boarding, break dancing, thumb wrestling, and dodgeball should all become Olympic sports in 2012.

The female Chinese gymnasts creep me out. There's no way they're 16, and they're way too dolled up. It freaks me out for some reason. I immediately switch the channel whenever they pop up. Eesh.

The USA basketball team won the gold and no one really seemed to notice or care. The only thing that would've made news is if they lost, like in Athens. They're supposed to win, so they did, and no one gives a shit. Neat. There's no reason they should've lost and they didn't. Woo-hoo. I guess it is kind of cool to see a bunch of NBA superstars yakking it up and being friends though. That was kind of cool. I still dislike LeBron James, though, and I think Kobe Bryant is the second best basketball player I have ever seen in my life. The first? You guessed it...John Starks. Ha.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


I think Justin's had three posts since my last one. I'm seriously lagging.

Anyway, I just got back from Wyoming...yep, Wyoming. It was actually pretty amazing. I had been slightly dreading the trip. Not dreading seeing one of my best friends get married, and seeing tons of Chicagoans and Napervillians I hadn't seen in a while, but just dreading the actual traveling. I had to wake up at 3:45 AM Wednesday morning after working a 12 hour day and drive to Indianapolis to meet my mom. We dropped our cars off, got a 45 minute ride to the airport, flew into Denver, got a rental car (a Mazda6 that I proceeded to fall in love with over the weekend), and then drove to delightful Laramie, Wyoming. It took fucking forever.

Now, I really had no idea what to expect from Wyoming. All I knew was that it is the least populated state in America, which I find to be charming. The population is so minuscule that the state actually boasts a "smallest town in America." That's right, Buford, Wyoming on I-80: population one. Of course I had to stop at this gold mine of schticky Wyoming parephenilia. I actually stopped there on three separate occasions during our trips between Laramie (where the bride and groom live) and Cheyenne (the wedding location). That guy has to make a fucking killing. Who's not going to stop at a town with a population of one? It's a house and a gas station/trading post. That's it...literally.

Another fantastic highlight of the wedding/vacation was the mountain trip we took into the Rockies on Thursday. It took about an hour to drive up, but it was seriously beautiful. All of the typical things you've heard. Crisp, but thin air, lakes so clear and blue you can see straight to the bottom, snowcapped mountains in August, and just amazingly scenic greatness. Here are a few pictures of me perfectly posed in front of mountains and lakes:


The wedding was a success and I made a pretty damn good speech if I do say so myself. Right off the top of my head. I do wish the best man speech could be done before the wedding ceremony, so I didn't have to think and fret about it all night and really only get to enjoy the last three hours of the evening. I demand a societal change.

There's really tons more to say about the greatness and strangeness of Wyoming, but I just don't feel like typing anymore. So, here's one of my patented lists:

-Everything moves slower in Wyoming. Everything. Not to say I'm some big city boy or something, but I personally find it ridiculous that it takes two hours to check into a hotel room. Or ten minutes to get a drink at a bar with a whopping five people in it. The whole population is in no hurry, and they're making no attempts to hide it. Partly charming, partly annoying.

-I did get the "You're not from around here are you?" line. I had been waiting for it all weekend, and I got it my first day in Cheyenne. I asked a sales clerk about a pair of polyester Wrangler pants in a Wrangler store, and I got the line. Does that make sense to you? Not to me.

-Everyone in the state seems to own at least 25 acres of land with multiple horses and/or livestock. It's a requirement.

-The highways are always empty and you can go five thousand mph on them. It's fucking great. I was in Wyoming for almost five days, and I saw two cops...two. The driving in the state is fantastic. The highways are in perfect condition and the drives are scenic as hell. They even have highway signs labeled "Point of Interest" when anything extra Wyoming-like is approaching so that you can slow down or pull off to take it all in. My favorite: a tree growing out of a boulder. Definitely a huge "Point of Interest" to me.

-Every bar has its own microbrews, which I found to be a pleasant surprise. Pretty good beer too.

-Strangers wave at you on the street and say hi. Most people know my feelings on community...I eat it up with a spoon, and Wyoming is teeming with lovely country hospitality. There's something wonderfully endearing about a rugged dude in a cowboy hat and boots, smoking a filter-less Marlboro Red saying hi to you. Awesome.

I was delighted by the whole trip. Good times.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Itching Bug Bites.

Camping has a fantastic set of unwritten rules that many of us would never adhere by throughout a typical, run-of-the-mill weekend. It's part of the allure, part of the ambiance. I've been camping an innumerable amount of times, and it never fails. I always shed my inhibitions.

- I don't change one piece of clothing throughout the duration of the weekend. Now, I always bring other clothes believing that this is the year that I'll change my underwear. It never happens. Gross? Maybe. Do I care? Nope.

- Bathing does not happen. I'll wash my hands if I have the means, but no other body part is going to get cleaned, unless I go swimming in the lake. And it's debatable whether or not I'm really getting cleaned by doing that anyway. Lord knows what the hell is in that lake. Brushing your teeth is also hit and miss. This is really the first year I ever went out of my way to brush my teeth. I don't know why. I'm actually kind of disappointed in myself.

- I'll eat an ungodly amount of garbage, shit food and drink way too many piss beers. This past camping trip (two nights) I had to have eaten an entire box of Cheez-Its (a camping necessity), ten S'mores, a full bag of chips, half a jar of peanuts, four veggie burgers, 25 granola bars, and whatever else was put in front of my face. I also drank way too many beers in cans. Ugh. The combination of junk food and make believe beer (and let it be known that I wasn't at all drunk) caused a near puking moment; my first in 7 years. God, that would've been disappointing. Oh, and I smoke about 18 more cigarettes a day than usual.

- Sleep is optional. Actually, let me rephrase that. Finding a comfortable place to sleep is impossible. I'm not the pickiest sleeper in the world, but falling asleep for three hours in the back of a van fucking blows balls. And that was probably my most comfortable option. You have to go into the weekend assuming that you'll probably only get about six hours of total sleep.

- Sun tan lotion is poison. I'm a pale motherfucker, and I hardly ever think about putting sun tan lotion on when camping. Getting burnt seems like an initiation rite. I almost kind of like it. Tank top tans are beautiful. You know it.

- Pissing in public, and I mean wherever you're standing at the time, is appropriate and necessary. You're in nature. Get a clue.

- No shoes or socks. Get bug bites. They make you tougher.

And after the weekend is all over, and you've shoved that last hot dog down your gullet, and played your last game of cornhole, you look like these suckers - exhausted, gross, but content as hell.