My Obligatory (But Not In A Bad Way) Olympic Story

Michael ChristelmanContributor IAugust 12, 2008

It seems for some reason that I am the last blogger to be writing about, or to at least mention, the Olympics.

I guess that’s par for the course for me. I’m usually the last to catch on. This is most noticeable when it comes to fashion. For example, I only recently got through my Birkenstocks phase, and I still think Hawaiian shirts count as "dressing up".

But enough about that, this is about the Olympics.

I have been an Olympic junkie since the 1984 games in Los Angeles. I was in elementary school at the time and freaked out about how cool the Olympics were.

Anyone remember Sam, the Olympic mascot eagle? That was a rhetorical question, of course.

While I don’t remember a lot of moments about those games (aside from Mary Decker’s horrific fall and Lionel Richie performing "All Night Long" during the closing ceremonies), I remember watching every event I could and seeing the Olympic torch being run through Newport Beach in a Mercedes convertible.

Yes, I made the convertible part up, but anyone who has been there knows what I mean.

My passion for the Olympics has continued ever since. Besides, the Olympics are essentially 24/7 televised sports, so why wouldn’t I be in heaven every four years?

Where to start on this past weekend’s Olympic action? Michael Phelps? The new men’s basketball Dream Team? The very not-so-subtle-underage looking women’s Chinese gymnastics team? Bob Costas’ horribly dark dye job? That weird Coca-Cola bird’s nest commercial? Almost-nude women’s volleyball? There have been so many plot points.

And speaking of women’s volleyball (bet you didn’t see that segue coming), did you hear about American beach volleyballer Kerri Walsh’s little incident? I read on Yahoo (and a big hello to any readers of this post that work for Yahoo—or at least one of them) that she lost her wedding ring going up for a set or block or jumping part where you can’t hit the net.

You’re not alone if you too recognize the irony of her losing her gold while trying to win the gold. Or maybe it’s just me.

Anywho, she lost her wedding band and apparently some broadcasters working the match or round or quarter or whatever noticed it. They were able to go back to the tape, which I guess is essentially using instant replay, and isolate whereabouts the ring may have fallen in the sand.

While that may not be comparable to finding a needle in a haystack, it had to be about as tough as seeing the sun through the Beijing smog (I’ve been waiting all weekend to be able to use a Beijing smog analogy—hope you enjoyed it).

Once the metal detectors were brought in, though, Walsh’s ring was found and all was well with the world, at least for Kerri Walsh. And possibly her husband who paid for it—three months' salary, if he’s a good guy.

While that’s a weird occurrence, imagine reading an internet headline that says something to the effect of "Opening Ceremony Fireworks Faked". Does China really need any more bad press while trying to host these games?

I guess the fireworks were real, but the live shots of fireworks were computer generated because it was too dangerous for the helicopter to be in the sky filming them because of how many fireworks there were.

Basically translated (I think): If you saw them live in China, the fireworks were real but if you saw them on TV (like most of the world), they were computer generated.

I guess that just means they were "enhanced" for the home viewing audience. If they have the ability to do that, why not computer generate blue skies or something so that the smog doesn’t appear so bad? Computer enhancing things during the Olympics is a slippery slope.

But then if you are able to maintain control, slippery slopes can sometimes be fun, too.

You could computer enhance the shininess (wow, I really didn’t think that was a real word, but apparently Microsoft thinks it is) of the medals during the medal ceremony or every time an athlete smiles at the camera, you could computer generate a sparkle to their shiny teeth (you know, a big bright star on their teeth with the "ting" sound to it).

There’s lots of neat things (really, that's the best I could do? Neat things? Sorry) we could do via computer while people are watching the Olympics. Heck, NBC could hire George Lucas’ Industrial Light and Magic to really bring the games to life.

Imagine superimposed pirates in the water during rowing or athletes pole vaulting into computer generated water filled with computer generated piranha or (for you Austin Powers fans) mutated sea bass with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads.

And really, who wouldn’t want to see superimposed wings on our beloved gymnasts, a flaming volleyball, or synchronized diving into lava?

I fear, however, that Lucas might have to stop short of superimposing Storm Troopers into Tienanmen Square. But then again, it could be a great promotional tie-in with his new Clone Wars movie coming to theaters this weekend…