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Skip the closing ceremonies, and just read this: The Greenspan Awards

Olympic Park London 2012

Good night, London. (Photo credit: williamsdb)

My mind has already moved off the Olympics, to other concerns of summer (The beach! Eastern Equine Encephalitis! The fast approach of kindergarten!), but, as threatened, I am pleased to quickly throw together The Greenspan Awards! Named for the late Bud Greenspan’s documentary series of very zeniths of Olympics past, these awards will add to the firmament of athletic honor my favorite people and moments from the 2012 London Olympics.

So let’s get right to it. Actually not, there’s going to be a bit of a wind-up. Usually I look forward to swimming more than any other summer Olympic sport, but I must say, while I enjoyed the events, most of the athletes left me cold. They were all great, they broke records and hit personal bests, but I did not end the week becoming a true mega-fan of any of them. And then there was Ryan Lochte’s diamond grill. Um, no. Great athlete, but, no Greenspan for you.

English: Photo of Ryan Lochte during 2008 Olym...

You could have just kept that peeing in the pool thing to yourself. Ryan Lochte during 2008 Olympic Trials in Omaha. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Feeling as cold as a diver who has naught but a tiny towel to wrap themselves in as they climb out of an unforgiving pool, I turned to the track. There, I found all the Olympic heat and glory I needed. So – OK, here comes the first Greenspan! I’m just going to give the first Greenspan to Oscar Pistorius of South Africa. Really, he wins them all. Not even going to bother explaining why. He just wins.

Polski: Oscar Pistorius pozdrawia kibiców po b...

You win. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The track in London was actually full of gallantry, great sportsmanship, and thrilling events this year. Usain Bolt, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, David Rudisha, Allyson Felix, just to name a few. They all get Greenspans. Also receiving a Greenspan: Kirani James of Grenada, who won the gold medal in Pistorius’s event, the 400 meters, and immediately after winning his heat, traded bibs with Pistorius. A great moment.

I know this might make me seem like I am jumping on a bandwagon, but if the Paralympics, which begin in London on August 29, are televised, I will be watching them. I’ll jump away. Call it the Pistorius Effect, but I’m all for it if it brings such a courageous side of the Olympic movement, often overlooked, to light. [While we’re at it, I’ve succumbed to the Wiggins Effect too, and got a bicycle (not sideburns). Well, it’s more up to coincidence than Wiggo: my commuter-biking husband has been pestering me to get a bike for years so that we can cycle as a family. I told him I thought the whole point of family cycling is that you can take the boys and do it without me. But here I am. I wanted a low-riding bike with a banana seat because I am afraid of falling off (the model I wanted had “Hot Rod” painted down the side), but we ended up going to some hipster antique market in Cambridge and getting a 1950’s English bike called a Robin Hood. Which doesn’t embarrass him, apparently. I’ll let you know if I fall off.]

My new ride. Don’t be jealous, Brad.

OK, I’ve mentioned my two favorite Olympians, Wiggo (obvs a Greenspan winner) and Pistorius, so there’s not much more I can say.

No wait, there are a few more things.

  • I want to give an honorary Greenspan to the fleet of manicurists and waxers that are no doubt on call in the Olympic Village. Because there has not been a body hair or a patriotically-painted nail out of place among the athletes. The mayor of London, Boris Johnson, even had a go:

I actually kind of love this guy.

  • Can’t do a wrap-up without mentioning my own local Olympian, gymnastics gold-medalist Aly Raisman of Needham, MA. Although I can’t figure out why everyone thought her parents were acting so strangely as they watched her up in the stands – that’s how we all act in Massachusetts. We are all that “hilariously awkward”:

It’s funny, I’ve been watching the Olympics since I was nine, but this is the first year, when I daydream of myself at the Olympics, I am no longer the one on the podium in an awesome Team USA track suit getting a medal (usually in Speed Skating). Instead I’m in the stands, watching one of my boys getting a medal. And afterwards, of course, he runs straight over to me to give me his bouquet. He gives it to me. Not some hussy.

  • Finally, even though I have ragged on Bob Costas and NBC’s broadcasting choices, watching the Olympics would not be nearly as fun without the network’s trusty crew of color commentators, all experts in their fields. I can’t imagine watching swimming without Rowdy Gaines going bananas, gymnastics without Elfi Schlegel and Tim Daggett having canaries; cycling without Paul Sherwen’s erudite wig-outs, or diving without Cynthia Potter’s subtle southern tsk-tsks. And Ato Boldon’s knowledgable rants have made a track fan out of me. Well, his rants and Oscar Pistorius’s…Pistoriusness.

Well, the rest of summer calls, and it’s time to get outside and stop watching sports on TV in the air conditioning (until the USA Pro Cycling Challenge! Andy Schleck returns! Actually, no he doesn’t!). There’s still the Closing Ceremonies to get through. Any chance of a reunion of Morrissey and Marr? No? Then I think we’re done here…

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The world is waiting…for my thoughts on the Olympics so far

London -- View from Tate Modern

London — View from Tate Modern (Photo credit: Nietnagel)

You might have noticed I lit up the internet with some live tweets of the Opening Ceremony. I feel like I should go along with peer pressure and say that it was brilliant and totally out-of-the-box, but I thought it was a bit uneven, and a waste of Kenneth Branagh.

I mean, how did they come to spend so much time, given everything that is great about Great Britain, on “the kids” pretend-Tweeting each other? What is this, From Justin to Kelly? I get that the kids today love social media, but young’uns looking at phones and writing jolly messages has become a very un-dynamic shorthand for reaching out to youth culture. All those incredible songs in the background, wasted, while people walk/dance around in weird costumes. And in the presence of all these amazing young athletes, we’re spending a good quarter of the Opening Ceremony on people and their ubiquitous phones.

And again, the National Health Service section: out of everything Danny Boyle and crew could have chosen to represent Britain, why this? I’m just wondering. I think that health care for children is incredibly important, I really do, but given the big swath of screen and stadium you have to fill, why fill it with children faffing around on beds? Visually, it’s just not that interesting.

I did like the opening film about the course of the river Thames, and the Tube, though that marker at the beginning looked like a gravestone. I also liked the pastoral scene, even though the choreography as it progressed felt like one overly-long set change, rather anything composed to look at. And I obviously loved the Rowan Atkinson/Chariots of Fire bit. That was hilarious, and to me, showcased British wit and personality so well. If it were me, and I am fending off phone calls from Sochi as I write this, I would have maybe used Branagh as a narrator, ala Our Town, throughout the ceremony, bringing him back periodically to spout off some appropriate lines of Shakespeare, as he does so well. I think that would have helped tie everything together, instead of these uneven blocks of action. And here’s my other big idea: I liked how the grass gave way to a floor that looked like city streets. How about running a river, mimicking that distinctive bend in the Thames (cue Eastenders theme song), through the stadium? I think that incredible river is a perfect emblem for London and the Games. OK, Sochi, I’ll do it.

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Michael Phelps’s sister, you seem very nice. I even stomached that interview with you, the other sister, and your mother with that insufferable Ryan Seacrest because I thought you seemed so nice. But, as a pretend friend, I’m telling you: move on from that necklace you’re always wearing. The big huge red one. (Check out this London 2012 fashion rundown for a photo) I like the necklace in and of itself, but I feel that for the past six million years, every time I’ve seen you cheering for baby bro somewhere, you have been wearing it. It’s a statement necklace: you make the statement, then you get rid of it and make another statement. It’s not a string of pearls. People are going to remember that you keep wearing it. You’re not Kate Middleton; you have nothing to prove by rewearing your looks. Even your mother switches up her chunky jewelry.

So, sis, unless it is some kind of good luck charm and he loses if you don’t wear it (which we now know is not the case), how about you retire it, auction it off for charity or something, and let your fancy brother buy you a new one, like from Erickson Beamon, or J. Crew? Or, f*** it, Chanel? He can afford it.

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Finally, my favorite win so far? The Great Britain Mens’ Gymnastics Team! I know I am supposed to be rooting for Team USA, but that was a great win, even though the Japanese team killed the buzz a bit at the end there…still, if someone picks up Bud’s mantle and makes a London 2012: Tales of Olympic Delight or somesuch, I smell a Greenspan! A Greenspan being my new term for excellent, documentary segment-suitable stories of Olympic glory. Stay tuned for a complete list of Greenspans (TM) as the Games progress! No, Ryan Seacrest, you are not eligible…

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And FINALLY finally, one last Allez Wiggo. Click on the link to see the perfect backdrop to cap the end of an inspiring season.

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