Monday, August 25, 2008

The Olympics in China — Isn't That Special?

Well, most of us have been mesmerized by the swimming, gymnastics or beach volleyball the last couple of weeks. Many a late night has been spent watching the world's best athletes compete for their countries and the gold. People have stretched the recording capacity of their DVRs and TiVos

The Opening Ceremonies were like a huge Chinese New Year's wingding with fireworks, spectacle, pageantry and music. The Chinese tried very hard to pull it off. Digital enhanced fireworks for television viewing, plus the "Chinese Idol" singer thingy. They have a contest like American Idol, in which a little girl wins the singing contest — then at the last moment, they substitute a cuter model-type kid and lipsync the song. (I bet her mom is looking over her shoulder all the time for the singer's mom — maybe a little acupuncture-in-the-back revenge.) 

Rumor is, they had a showing of the newest Hollywood movie for just the athletes competing, and Chinese women gymnasts and divers couldn't get in because it was rated PG-13. I've picked on them enough, but why hasn't NBC done an up-close (with that goofy tall lady that nobody remembers) story about a Chinese Fire Drill? We've all heard about them our whole life, and I'm sure our conception is way off the true mark. What's the deal?

This "Rhythmic Gymnastics" deal, where they dance and tumble with streamers, hula hoops and batons looks like what the girls made up in the back yard on a boring summer evening. They are keeping this event, have BMX bicycle races (is this not a hoot?), as an event — but they are eliminating women's softball. That's right, women's softball is being cancelled, even though 181 countries are members of the World Softball Association. Hey, Olympic ping pong players — wipe that snicker off your face because you could be next!

What's the deal with the divers getting out of the pool, going to an open shower and wiping down with a little shammy cloth?

Overall, we need to be proud of all our athletes who put so much time into training, effort and sacrifice. They represented our country with honor and dignity (even the pro basketball guys, which I know was hard those spoiled brats).

God Bless the USA!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Clapton, Page, Van Halen and Ocean Guitar Thunder

It's big and bad — it's Air Guitar!!!

Gas prices soaring, global warming, food skyrocketing, but who will be the new "King of the Air Axe Slingers"? You got it, people — grown (or is it "groan"?) men in spandex, grunge or hippie attire, traveling from all over to duke it out with each other, but never actually "playing" a lick on the air guitar. 

With the current problems in airplane travel chaos, not having to really carry a guitar is pretty advantageous. I'll have to admit, all of us real music fans have probably taken our turn on the ol' air guitar (most likely in the privacy of our own crib, with the volume up extremely high), or you persons of libations overload may have strummed in public.

The facial expressions are very important to pulling off this visual virtuoso performance. This massive national championship is no doubt sponsored by Cuervo Black (tequila, man — tequila). The defending champion, Andrew Litz, even has a "stage name" — William Ocean (sounds pretty Barry Manilow-ish to me), unlike the 2005 king (the Rockness Monster), or even the 2006 champ Hot Lixxx Hulahan.

It's not too late for you to go to San Francisco August 20-22 for your 60-second set of strutting, strumming and stunning. In the spirit of the Olympics, you could represent the good old US of A in Oulu, Finland, to bring home the world title. No hassles at customs with your Gibson or Fender, just keep your fingers and face limber on the plane. But remember the judges at the world championships tend to reward technique over theatrics — so practice, practice, practice...

In Memphis, I was hearing the real thing — BLUES — what a guitar was made for!

* * * * *

My favorite Food Channel program, "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives", featured the Tea Room CafĂ© in Memphis, Tennessee, and last week I got to eat lunch there. It was every bit or more than I had imagined — the choices overwhelmed me!

Narrowing it down, the meat loaf had a unique flavor with superb texture. Beets — I know most people don't like beets, but I grew up on them, as Grandma Cosper was the all-time best cooker. The Tea Room beets were way up there on the scale.

Now the killer — the scalloped tomatoes (no, I'd never heard of that before, either) were off the scale. Cheeses, spices, fresh tomatoes, onions, peppers all converged for the ultimate taste extravaganza. Topped off with corn fritters and Southern sweet tea, it all led to the sad part of no room left for dessert (I took mine to go). Peach cobbler — light, flaky, sweet and marvelous.

On a scale of one to ten, I only gained six pounds from this place. (Ha! Ha! Ha!)