Now that the Olympics are over, what have we learned from Athens 2004?
- The stellar performance of U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps — just one gold medal short of Mark Spitz’s record of seven in 1972 — was somehow disappointing, as implied by a few insane news reports. Apparently, some people aren’t impressed by a 19-year-old who wins six golds and two bronzes at a single Olympiad.
- Trampoline may have surpassed synchronized swimming as the dumbest Olympic event. (As one of my friends wondered aloud, “What’s next, hopscotch?”)
- Just 12 short years since NBA players were first allowed to compete in the Olympics, the U.S. Dream Team has devolved into the Nightmare Team — a group of petulant, selfish punks who couldn’t hit a perimeter shot if their lives depended on it.
- Among the athletes that I can recall, Australian swimmer Loudy Tourky (her first name is pronounced “loody”) has the silliest sounding name since outfielder Mookie Wilson.
- A deranged former priest wearing a kilt and knee-high socks is capable of at least two things: (1) attacking a world-class marathon runner, costing him a chance at the gold medal, and (2) thoroughly embarrassing his native Ireland.
- Despite grave concerns about construction delays and terrorism threats, the Greeks managed to host a well-organized, entertaining Games of the XXVIII Olympiad. Efharisto, Athens!
[ No. 113 ]
Phrase of the week, as seen on my box lunch carton earlier today:
This was probably the first time that I’ve heard any food described as “snazzy,” but my turkey, cheese, lettuce and tomato on a kaiser roll was pretty darn good for a prepackaged meal.
And just in case the members of a fledgling rock band decide to name themselves the Wardrobe Malfunctions, I’m going to keep Snazzy Sandwiches in mind as a backup moniker — assuming my guitar skills improve to the point where I could actually start a band, of course.
[ No. 112 ]
During my lunch hour yesterday, after driving out to West Chester to obtain a repair estimate for my car, I decided to stop by my old apartment complex, Goshen Terrace, for a few minutes and drive through the neighborhood for old times’ sake.
I passed by the apartment building that I used to live in, and then noticed a blue tarp covering one of the neighboring buildings on the opposite side of the tennis court. After pulling into the parking lot, I discovered that the tarp-covered structure appeared to be heavily damaged, and the adjacent building to the left was almost completely destroyed — the roof was practically gone, the windows had been blown out, and debris was all over the place.
Upon returning to work, I found a few news stories online that described a devastating two-alarm fire at 1158 Kingsway Road on the evening of Aug. 6:
- KYW: “Fire Engulfs Apartment Building” (the video clip is astounding)
- Daily Local News: “Families Homeless After Fire”
Only two firefighters suffered minor injuries, and all of the tenants managed to escape unhurt — but the blaze gutted four apartments and damaged eight more. There’s no word on the cause of the fire yet.
What an awful scene. I lived just a few hundred feet from those buildings, and passed right by them during my frequent walks into Coopersmith Park. I really feel bad for the people who lost their homes — this certainly puts the minor hassle of my recent fender bender into perspective.
[ No. 111 ]
Photo credits: Good Will Fire Company
So, earlier this afternoon, my friend Steve and I were heading home after a rain-soaked but fun weekend with our friend Brian at the Jersey shore. As we were heading west on the Schuylkill Expressway toward King of Prussia, a few miles short of the Conshohocken exit, the traffic ahead slowed from about 65 mph to a complete stop — and quickly.
This is pretty common on the Schuylkill, and I had enough space between me and the driver ahead to stop without a problem. But a few seconds later, I heard a loud screeching sound behind us and looked up just in time to see a white Jeep pickup truck rapidly filling up my rear-view mirror.
The driver plowed right into the back of my stopped car, and Steve and I lurched forward from the impact. After screaming several rapid-fire obscenities — better to lose one’s cool while still inside the car and before confronting the other driver — I pulled over to the right shoulder of the highway, and the driver in the Jeep Comanche parked behind me.
We inspected the damage, and frankly, it could’ve been much worse. My rear bumper sustained some dents and scratches, and his front bumper would certainly need to be replaced, but that’s about it. We exchanged our contact and insurance information, and Steve and I soon resumed the trip home.
On the bright side, the other driver didn’t take off right after the accident and turn a fender bender into a hit-and-run. And most importantly, none of us was seriously hurt (although my back is a little sore from the sudden jolt). Thank God for seat belts — otherwise, either Steve or I could have struck the windshield, and I could have eaten the steering wheel.
Sure, I’ll have to deal with the inconvenience of submitting an insurance claim and getting a repair estimate, but I’m lucky that I won’t have to place my phone calls from a hospital room.
[ No. 110 ]
More baseball! For Father’s Day, I’d bought a pair of Phillies tickets so I could take my dad to see a game at Citizens Bank Park, and decent seats weren’t available until this week. This game was my first visit to the new stadium, and let me assure you — it’s an ideal place to watch a game.
Despite the beautiful surroundings, the Phillies’ personnel didn’t get it done on the field. With a fragile one-run lead after eight innings, closing pitcher Tim Worrell gave up three runs to Colorado in the top of the ninth. The Phils’ comeback in the bottom half of the inning fell short, leaving them with a 5–4 defeat to the Rockies, a team that was 12 games under .500 before tonight.
Still, there’s nothing like spending a pleasant summer evening at the ballpark with your dad.
[ No. 109 ]
My friend Larry graciously offered me an extra ticket to a Baltimore/Texas game at Camden Yards, and the timing couldn’t have been better — I didn’t have much planned that day (for once!), the weather was perfect, and the Orioles won their sixth straight game, drilling the Rangers, 11–5.
The promotion for this particular game was ’80s Day, which provided some nostalgia that I can remember firsthand:
- Both teams wore throwback uniforms from 1983, including O’s caps that sported their old “cartoon bird” logo — which, to me, looks like a cross between Daffy Duck and Woody Woodpecker. It’s a great design, and I’ll bet you’re smiling back at it, too.
- A number of New Wave songs blared over the loudspeakers between innings, much to Larry’s disapproval.
- The scoreboard in right-center field featured Pac-Man and Space Invaders graphics, and displayed the name of the player at bat in an arcade-style font. (In case you’re wondering — yes, I was able to identify the specific typeface by simply eyeballing it. Don’t ask me how; it’s a strange talent of mine.)
[ No. 108 ]
Image credit: Baltimore Orioles
Since the beginning of time, people have searched high and low for the easy way out in life — some panacea that ultimately proves to be disappointing. The latest example of this insatiable desire for a magical shortcut can be summed up in two words: low-carb everything.
Thanks to the late Dr. Atkins and his best-selling books, carbohydrates have become a convenient dietary enemy. The low-carb craze is everywhere — “protein platters” on the cafeteria menu at work, bottles of Michelob Ultra at local bars, and countless commercials for dubious carb-lowering products on TV.
Quite simply, this fad is silly and misguided, and it’s gotta stop.
Look, I didn’t major in nutritional sciences and I could certainly improve my own eating habits, but I also know that solely avoiding carbohydrates isn’t a complete solution. Do you really think that a greasy cheeseburger without the bun — a low-carb meal that’s also loaded with fat and calories — will help you drop a few pounds? (If so, you’re delusional.)
Lighten up and enjoy everything in moderation — and that includes a bowl of pasta every so often. Spaghetti can be your friend!
[ No. 107 ]