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Columns > Mike Gruenberg - In My Life

Published: 2006/03/18
by Mike Gruenberg

Dennis Elsas

In the weeks that followed the Winter Olympics in TurinI mean Torino, nearly every American columnist used their bully pulpit to bash the event. I got sick of reading people ripping on the tape-delayed Olympic coverage, the hot-dogging athletes, the fake name that NBC made up for the city of Turinbut then I figured, what the hell? Why not pile on?

Everyone knows the Olympics were a disappointment, especially for Americans. USA Hockey was dismal, Apolo Anton Ohno was a bit of a letdown, and did Bode Miller even try to win a medal? Seriously, Bode Miller is like the Dylan Thomas of skiing. If he were any more drunk, he'd be playing guitar with Mofro.

A lot needs to change in order to make the Winter Olympics more palatable for an American audience. No event needs to change more than figure skating. I know, you think I'm crazy. Figure skating is usually the most popular event, but this year it was a big yawner. There are some serious flaws in the sport that are begging to be fixed. The women's side is doing okay, but the men's draw is a nightmare. For instance, no self-respecting sport can have a “Kiss and Cry” area. That's just pathetic. Kissing and crying are not part of sports once you get past the age of 8. If you need to be kissed or are going to cry, stick to tee ball. Another major problem is the increasingly ridiculous, overdramatic nature of the performances. I kid you not, I saw one guy do an entire routine as a swishy James Bond, complete with cheesy gun-flashing gestures and a big sparkly 007 on the back of his jacket. Such behavior is unacceptable in the world of sport, and thankfully, this clown was rewarded with a 487th place finish.

Don't get me wrong. I don't want to end men's figure skating because if we eliminated this sport, the sequin makers of the world would face bankruptcy. Nevertheless, we need to amp up this event and put the “men” back in men's figure skating. I've been thinking long and hard about this, and I have a few suggestions. The following is how I envision the next Olympic competition, complete with commentary from NBC analysts Sandra Bezic, Scott Hamilton, and Dick Button.

SANDRA BEZIC: Our next skater is Spaniard Marco Esquandolas.

SCOTT HAMILTON: I'm being told Marco has been preparing today by eating lots ofrye? Rye. Rock, oh, I'm told his music will rock.

DICK BUTTON: He's skating to something called, “You Enjoy Myself”? Do we have that right? It's apparently a song by a band called Fish. What is Fish?

BEZIC: He's the Scottish solo artist, born as Derek William Dick, whose penchant for dramatic lead vocals led many to compare his work with the prog-rock group Marillion to that of Genesis, circa Peter Gabriel. In 1988, Fish went solo and began recording albums that are theatrical in nature, many of which are live releases. Fish continues to record for his Chocolate Frog Records imprint.

HAMILTON: Wow, Sandra! You're like a walking wikipedia!

BUTTON: What's a wikipedia?

BEZIC: It's a communally updated reference site on the Internet-

BUTTON: What's the Internet?

BEZIC: It'sit's like a giant computerized post office or retail store or library…okay, it's really nothing more than a huge shrine to pornography.

BUTTON: What will you kids think of next?

BEZIC: I'm not that young, Dick. I'm somewhere between 50 and 65.

BUTTON: Everyone is young compared to me. Oh, to young again! To frolic in the autumn mist and dance beneath the sagging elm—

HAMILTON: Meanwhile, back at the Olympics

BEZIC: So Marco is wearing some interesting attire.

HAMILTON: I've never seen a skater wear a muumuu in Olympic competition.

BEZIC: And here's the opening.

HAMILTON: This is an interesting start. It's not often we hear music this complex on the ice.

BUTTON: What is this garbage? It's making me dizzy. This is a far cry from Bolero!

BEZIC: He has a big combination here

HAMILTON: And he nailed the double axel-double toe-loop! Amazing!

BUTTON: I couldn't see a damn thing but backhair. Too much backhair.

HAMILTON: He's really picking up speed and racing through this intricate section of the musicAnd there's the triple axel! Fantastic!

BUTTON: Waxing would work wonders for this guy.

BEZIC: Oh, I really like how he's keeping it light through this very happy section.

HAMILTON: Wow! He's timing these Russians perfectly through this odd time signature!

BUTTON: This song has no beat, and you definitely cannot dance to it.

BEZIC: He's hitting a jump on each one of these lyrics. He's really finding ways to punctuate each word.

BUTTON: Lyrics? You call those lyrics? Boy? Man? God?....Wait. Did they just say “Shit”?

HAMILTON: You just did, old man.

BUTTON: Sonofabitch! I'm going to get fucking fined! This sucks-

HAMILTON: Dick, it might be time to start using your inside voice.

BEZIC: What do we have here? There's a trampoline on the ice!

HAMILTON: He's going to jump on the trampoline! This is the most amazing thing I've ever seen since the last time I said, “This is the most amazing thing I've ever seen!”

BEZIC: It appears as if he's going to attempt some choreographed jumps on the trampolineOooooooooh, that was a nasty spill.

BUTTON: I guess no one told him that a skate will slice through a trampoline. Hahaha! I just love it when they fall!

BELZIC: He seems to be pulling out a prop of sortswhat is that?

HAMILTON: It's called a chillum. (_Silence._) What? Don’t look at me like I’m crazy. I live in CaliforniaI know these things.

BUTTON: Well, Mr. Hippie, this usage of a prop doesn't exactly look legal.

HAMILTON: It would be if we were in Amsterdam.

BELZIC: Well, he is really going to town on that chillum. And look at that quadruple axel!

HAMILTON: Oh my God! He just got incredibly high!

BEZIC: Yes, we've seen jumps with some serious height, but this the highest anyone has ever been in the Olympics.

BUTTON: Is it me or is it getting a little foggy in here? Is he allowed to use a smoke machine?

HAMILTON: Wow! That reeks like White Window! I haven't smelled anything that skunky since I was in coll—

BUTTON: Yes! It smells like Studio 54. Those were the days…I remember forming a circle with Andy Warhol, Liza Minelli, Jimmy Carter…or maybe it was Jimmy Walker…

(39 minutes later)

BEZIC: We're back here in the Olympic Men's Figure Skating Long Program, and Spaniard Marco Esquandolas is still going strong after 44 minutes and 7 commercial breaks.

HAMILTON: This is incredible! He’s hit 62 double lutzes, 55 double toe loops, 48 double salchows, 38 double axels, 29 triple axels, and 18 quadruple axels! Thanks to the White Window, he’s feeling no pain.

BUTTON: Thanks to this music, I’m writhing in pain. Guess what? Thirty-some minutes later, we finally have some more vocals, but they still don’t make any sense. “Wash your feet and drive me to the firehouse?” I give up.

BEZIC: With the vocal jam upon us, we’re finally approaching the end of the routine.

HAMILTON: Oh, no! Why are the vocals chanting the word “Kung”? This could go on forever.

BUTTON: I can’t take this anymore! Pass the chillum. I’m fried.

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