August 26, 2004

Semper Fi

I've been watching the Olympics over here.

I can't tell you how many times the phrase "Now here's an event with Irish interest," is followed 30 seconds later by the annoucer looking down, shuffling papers, and saying "Of course, it's an amazing achivement just to make it to the Olympics."

Or the number of times this exchange has occurred:

"So what are our chances in this event, Michael? Slim?"

"Extremely slim."

"But we might win a medal, right?"

Here's where the ex-athelete purses his lips and you can seen his neck muscels tensing, because he has to hold his head very still, in order to prevent it from shaking slightly in negation/disgust. Disgust because the anchorperson is quite obviously both ignorant of and uninterested in the intricacies of the given sport, when glancing knowledge of the rules would make clear the fact that the Irish are toastier than Satan's toenails. And the ex-athelete says, "It's possible, but So-and-So is going to have to perform at his best, and rely on other people to make the mistakes, at this point," all the while thinking, Mistakes like not showing up. Or keeling over from a drung-induced heart attack. Like that.

The 5,000 meter runner --- who had won a silver medal in the event in Sydney --- got lapped.

Two of Irish athelete had to withdraw beacause of injuries. Another was in a car crash at the games.

The poet laureate's weekley poems about the games have been getting ever more dejected. Last night's was an extended riff about how they should just let them take all the damn drugs they want.

(Yes, RTE have hired a poet to write a poem a week about the games, which he recites over either stock footage of the athelete or goofy footage of himself galivanting in a track suit. He favors rythmic ryhming couplets, in the style of the best doggeral everywhere. I know, man. Poets on TV. And nobody's getting inagurated. )

My own heartbreaker was the boxer Andy Lee. He's a young middle-weight with a jug ears and a cockeyed grin, tall for his weight class, and all in all a rising prospect. There were high hopes. RTE sent a camera crew to his family's house to film them watching his first match (commenting with an audible sneer that the Lees were members of the "settled Travelling community") and it was damn heartwarming. You could tell from the angle that the camera guy was sitting crouched on the living room floor with youngn'uns running around at lense height. He panned the room to catch reactions during the bout and Lee's mom (who must have been a beauty in her day) was going absolutely nuts: one hand curled around a cuppa, unconsciously shadow-boxing in tandem with her son, the way a little kid getting caught up in a video game will lunge left with his whole body as he taps a button to make his character jump from one cliff to another. He won the first bout (the RTE cameraman closed out with a shot of the chandalier shaking on the Lee family ceiling as they all cheered and stomped and clapped), and looked good for the second one. But his opponent, a Camaroon fighter who had brawled his way through his first fight, suddenly developed some sweet science when he went against Lee, and Lee went behind by three or four punches in the first round and had to chase him the whole way, tying it in the final seconds, and then losing the tiebreak.

I guess for now I'll have to pin my hopes on Fermanagh in the GAA and take my comfort in the breathaking pessimism of the color commentators, whose evaluations of the feild, both Irish and otherwise, do not partake of the relentless on-message upbeatness of their American counterparts. (Sample quotes: "You can see the pain in her face. I don't know why she doesn't drop out." "He hasn't a prayer." "I think you'd have to say that all hope of a medal is gone at this point.") The rowing commentator, in particular, is so relentlessly negative that my landlord commented, "Good lord, he'd make you want to jump off a bridge."

"And if you did he'd tick off your form for hitting the pylon," I replied.

Posted by Diablevert at August 26, 2004 01:14 PM | TrackBack

Does "steeled Travelling community" mean gypsy?

Posted by: strunkface_jones at September 6, 2004 03:08 AM

Yeah, man. Basically, anyway. I don't know much about the Travellers except that lots of people don't like 'em, and other people think that's bullshit discrimination. Brad Pitt's character in Snatch is a traveller.

Posted by: Diablevert at September 6, 2004 08:00 AM

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