Category Archives: Olympics Rants

Pirates steal sport

Olympic Rant #17 IOC what you are up to

Pirates of the High-O Sea

REDCLIFFE Musical Theatre rendered the Gilbert & Sullivan musical The Pirates of Penzance as if it were carried on an invigorating ocean breeze.
The large cast of many ages was obviously having fun and it was contagious for the audience.
Pirates, along with The Mikado and H.M.S. Pinafore, is the most popular of the 14 collaborations of Gilbert and Sullivan.
Although the play is often called a comic opera, it is far more accessible to a general audience than continental opera which Gilbert and Sullivan sent up.
Gilbert and Sullivan were English and their Shakespearean heritage shines through plentiful plays on words, accompanied by musical spoofs.
Directing duo Madeleine Johns and Gordon Ball work seamlessly with choreographer Meredith Johns and musical director Sheree Drummond to create a delightful musical comedy.
Each act was rendered virtually without set changes with actors hiding behind parts of the set and, to much amusement, plant foliage.
Female lead Annika Hinricks as Mabel was in fine voice and readily accepted the challenge of the occasional musical trick in the play.
Her love interest Frederic was played by Jonathon Sweeper whose clear vocals and expressive visage carried the part well.
Thomas Armstong-Robley stole the show with his Deppesque movements as the sometimes ruthless, sometimes befuddled Pirate King.
Barry Haworth brought out the full humour embedded in his character Major General, of the much parodied song which is a highlight of the play.

Johnathan Johnson as the Sergeant of Police led his officers around the stage with beguiling walks and puppet-like head popping.

Young costume designer/ producer Kara Fisher has done a fabulous job with the clobber. It all looked wonderful with colourful pirates, pristine maidens and quintessential bobbies. Fisher aims to design for stage and screen and this play is a big  early tick in her portfolio.
Sullivan once described his music for Pirates as ‘tunier’ than that of H.M.S. Pinafore.
Tuny is a good a word as any for a score that ranges from the sprightly to the boisterous.
The RMT orchestra, assuredly conducted by Sheree Drummond, who seemed to be enjoying the exercise immensely, was always buoyant but never over-bearing.
The Redcliffe Musical Theatre version of the Pirates of Penzance is based on the award-winning New York Public Theater  adaptation.
All in all, The Pirates of Penzance is a joyous musical.
It continues at Redcliffe Cultural Centre until August 19. Book at www.redcliffeculturalcentre.com.au or phone 3283 0407.
Whenever you see someone being officious or bullying, sing Tarantara! Tarantara! OIC it coming on now!

Bernie Dowling, August 12, 2012.

Bolts in with the name game

Olympic Rant #12 Fast men are gone in well under 10


THE power of words is more than a casual contribution to the living mythology that is Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt. He might not go Gaga on Twitter but he is the biggest name in Ol’ London Town as he defends his 100m Olympic title.

Usain Bolt sets the fastest 100m time ever 
in Berlin on  August 16 , 2009

Bolt is no good thing to win. It is three years since he set the extant world record of 9.58s. The field includes the second, third, fourth and seventh fastest men alive – Tyson Gay, U.S. 9.69s; Asafa Powell, Jamaica, 9.72s; Yohan Blake, Jamaica, 9.75s and Justin Gatlin, U.S, 9.80s.
Gatlin is a remarkable athlete who recovered from a four-year doping ban (2006-10) – innocent he says – to run his 9.80s on June 24 this year. Jamaican Blake also set his best time in June, while Gay ran his in 2009 and Powell set his PB in 2008.
Rank
Fastest time (s)
Wind (m/s)
Athlete
Country
Date
Location
1
9.58
+0.9
16 August 2009
2
9.69
+2.0It is three years since he
20 September 2009
3
9.72
+0.2
2 September 2008
4
9.75
+1.1
29 June 2012
5
9.78
+0.9
29 August 2010
6
9.79
+0.1
16 June 1999
7
9.80
+1.3
4 June 2011
9.80
+1.8
24 June 2012
9
9.84
+0.7
27 July 1996
+0.2
22 August 1999

Asafa Powell is a mellifluous name befitting the world’s fastest man from 2005-2008.
Asafa Powell: 3rd fastest time and 2nd best name

Then along came Usain St Leo Bolt. On May 31, 2008, fellow Jamaican Usain Boly  ran a time of 9.72s at the Reebok Grand Prix in New York City. Bolt not only had a better time but also a better name.
Usain Bolt sounds like it burst from the pages of a private-detective thriller, but it is his real moniker. I believe the name has added zest to his performance in the track. Coupled with his playful warm-up antics, the name Usain Bolt, the Thor of our times, is revered around the world.
The concept of the fastest man alive helps, as well. It is something of a misnomer in that Bolt would have to be faster than all the dead man, too.
I achieved my only gold medal at the final Goodwill Games in Brisbane in 2001. It was through the then Fastest Man Alive, Maurice Greene. Injury prevented star attraction Greene from competing but he was an ambassador.
He gave a media conference and I asked a question which led to my gold medal. I maintain to this day it was a good question. Before me was the fastest man alive, a man with an English surname and a French first name.
I knew Kansas had French settlers before and after the United States acquired most of the territory through the Louisiana Purchase. One Frenchman Ernest Valeton de Boissière was a fascinating homme who came to the U. S. in 1852.
Although he was a former French army engineer, he was of an idealistic bent and, in 1870, set up what he hoped would be a utopian commune in Kansas. He called it Silkville, planted mulberry trees and produced high quality silk. The enterprise hummed along sweetly and Silkville soon had a school, winery, silk factory and a three-story 60-room housing complex.
Cheap overseas silk imports and community members re-joining the rat-race took its toll financially Sticking resolutely to his dream, de Boissiere and his communards diversified into dairy cattle and livestock , but with little success. In 1892, de Boissiere, gave the property to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and he sailed back to France, where he died in 1894.
Some might say he wasted the last had 25 years of his life but the utopian commune survived for 22 years. By most comparisons with  similar ventures, the Frenchman did well.
In 1972,  the extant  buildings of the ghost town of Silkville  were added to the National Register of Historic Places. If you are in the area of Williamsburg Township, Franklin County, Kansas, you can  pay Silkville  a visit.
Why Maurice  Greene was given a French name might not be as fascinating as the saga of Silkville. But we would never know unless someone asked. So, at an international media conference, I asked the  fastest man alive how he got the name Maurice. ‘My mother gave me that name,’ Maurice Greene replied. It was not the answer I was looking for, though it seemed to please my media colleagues who laughed heartily.
Six months later, an anniversary of the Games was held in the swank Brisbane Polo Club, a place no one had thought to invite me to, before.
I was presented with a gold medal. I do not remember what the event I won was officially called but it was little doubt it was meant to be for the dumbest question of the final Goodwill Games anywhere in the world. I still maintain it was a good question and a lot better than Greene’s answer which sank my credibility.
After all my years in journalism I have only two small pieces of advice for novices: it is not a popularity contest and never be afraid to ask what you think could be a dumb question; you might win a gold medal from it.
So who will win the gold in the 100m.? Like most of the world, I would like to see Usain Bolt win. But I think the gold will go to Yohan Blake. As soon as I post this rant, I will contact my internet bookie to have a modest wager on Blake.
Yohan Blakei looks for gold 

If I am wrong, that’s alright. You have to back your judgement in life, or wait for others to tell you what you think.

Bernie Dowling, August 5, 2012 

Pool brouhaha splashes at the shallow end

Olympic Rant #8 Dopey blasts dwarf win

‘YOU’RE a drug cheat.’
‘No you’re a drug cheat.’
‘You’re a druggie.’
Nah, you’re a druggie; nah, nah, nah.’
Back and forth across the Olympic the pool, the accusations fly like shuttlecocks; it is water badminton.
The latest design in shuttlecocks for water badminton
expected to be an Olympic sport in 2020 

Chinese swimmer Shiwen Ye was the catalyst for the first of a barrage of snide remarks when she won the 400m individual medley. It should have been a fairy tale result as Ye easily swam her personal best and snatched a world record. But it turned into a fairy tale directed by Tim Burton as the dark news unfolded that the Chinese schoolgirl had swum a faster final 50m than Ryan Lochte who had won the men’s equivalent and relegated super swimmer Michael Phelps to a medal-less  fourth in the process.
At first no one quite yelled out Ye was a drug cheat: that would be against the Olympic spirit of these carping back-biting Games.
Lochte served up just a hint of suspicion as he told journos the American camp discussed it over dinner. ‘She’s fast,’ he told reporters, just in case any of the scribes had not noticed.
It was wise to help out the world’s media with an indisputable piece of copy. It was not only the swim which had the world’s media declaring there were two Shiwen.  Yes. I am not sure about the exact proportion but let’s say half the world’s media believe her name is Ye Shiwen. I am with the “Shiwen Ye” half because that is all she writes in the official Games website. For those wishing to argue the toss at your own dinner party, Ye is the family name.
Australian swimming commentator and former Olympic medallist Susie O’Neill was known as Madam Butterfly in her heyday. She was more Madam Math as she gave her opinion of the swim of Mademoiselle Ye. ‘Every time we see a good Chinese swimmer….there’s just that .0001 per cent at the back of mind.’
It might have been at the back of Madam Butterfly’s mind but it butterflew to the front of her lips.
The coyness of such remarks failed to impress a former Chinese swimming official who did not confucius with maths or dinner-party banter in returning the water shuttlecock.
Shanghai Chen was the head of the Chinese Olympic medical team in Los Angeles, Seoul and Barcelona. ‘America’s (Michael) Phelps broke seven world records! Is he normal?’ Dr Chen asked.
Before a journo could ask the sensible question ‘what’s your definition of normal’, Chen made it clear drug cheating was abnormal.
‘I suspect Phelps, but without evidence,’ he said. This sounded like the distillation of a conversation at a tea, rather than dinner, party. ‘I have to recognise that we should be grounded in facts,’
Dr Chen said.
That is how you engage in war of drug cheating without either side making an outright accusation against the other.
‘The Americans are very bad; they do a lot of evil,’ Dr Chen said  
Swimming pools are central to geopolitics: with the medico’s unsophisticated diagnosis, all became clear.
Congratulations Azerbaijan
Valentin Hristov, 18, won Olympic bronze for Azerbaijan in the clean and jerk 56-kg weight class) event.
In another upset, North Korea’s Om Yun Chol won the gold ahead of Chinese world champion Jingbiao Wu (or Wu Jingbiao, take your pick).
Azerbaijani president, Ilham Aliyev, watched the success of Bulgarian-born Hristov.
The Republic of Azerbaijan is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west, and Iran to the south.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have criticised the nation’s record on human rights: especially its treatment of homosexuals and the media.
All may not be forgiven but this journalist is glad to see a nation which is not a household name in the West take home a medal. We applaud you in the traditional manner.
Bernie Dowling July 31, 2012

How the West has lost

              Olympic Rant #7 More surprises than at a Tea Party Geography Quiz

UPSETS are the order of the first daze of the 2012 Games.
Super swimmer  Michael Phelps set the tone when he was unplaced in his first final, the 400m individual motley.
Some thought Michael Phelps swam in a dinner suit

Phelps made amends, of sorts when he able to rub his 17thOlympic medal, but it was only a silver  when the Americans were swum down by the French  in the freestyle relay.   The French? Sure we know they can speak incomprehensible philosophy under water but who knew they could move so fast on top of it. The favourites, the Aussies, came an unimpressive fourth.
In the sabre version of poking-holes-in-people, Hungarian Aron  Szilagyi, ranked only sixth in the world,won the gold.
The victory took those of us with long memories or fertile imaginations back to the glorious 1912 Summer Olympics  in Stockholm.
The 1912 Hungarian poking-holes-in-people team.

The final eight in the sabre poking-holes-in-people were seven Hungarians and one Italian.
Nedo Nadi really took it to the Hungarians and the plucky Italian finished sixth. Jeno Fuchs overcame ridicule, in primary school because of his name, to take the gold.
Jeno and his fellow six finalists as well as Aron, we salute you, although we leave  our sabres in their scabbard.

If these upsets keep up, they will feed the families of sundry academics for generations. Psychologists, social scientists, sports medicos, politico types  and economists will argue whether the upsets mean the decline of the West.
The Tea Party will blame Barack Obama who fixed the Games  to support an African nation. Most Tea Party members know where the country is because they saw a doco on Hungary Africa.
Bernie Dowling July 30, 2012

Shoot off the mouth for gold

Olympic Rant #5 Barkingly mad start to the games
IT was a weird start to Games e competition with American super-swimmer Michael Phelps missing a medal in the 400m men’s individual medley won by teammate Ryan Lochte.
Lochte one, Phelps nil
Phelps described it as a “crappy race’’, presumably reflecting on his own performance rather than the collective effort of the finalists. Still, Phelps missed a medal in eloquence as well as in the pool.
It was hard to know what to make of the performance of senior sports scribe Barney Ronay after the first gold medal of the Games went to China’s Siling  Yi in the sport of shooting-at-things.  The sub-category was the 10m air rifle. Thank Mao; the 10m was not the calibre of the rifle but the distance from which you shoot at things.
On behalf of the guardian .co.uk, journo Ronay wrote, ‘China’s parpingly jaunty anthem was the first to be heard in triumph at London 2012.’ Parpingly? Really, Barney.
The obscure word “parping” seems to mean the sound made by a car horn.
Whether parpingly can be used successfully to modify “jaunty”, I just do not know. What I do know is the word appeared in the online guardian in Andrew Sparrow’s blog on June 16, 2012.
Boris Johnson has arrived in Cape Town to fly the flag for England’s 2018 World Cup bid (and) did give his views on the controversial vuvuzela, the horn blasted deafeningly by fans during every game of the South African World Cup.
Johnson said: ’Certainly the vuvuzela is a very very interesting device…..It’s a great way of expressing yourself in a loud, vehement, parping kind of way. … I think maybe that’s not the effect we’re going to want to see in 2012 [at the London Olympics].’
             
Was it coincidence that Barney Ronay revived the word parping(ly) or was it some sort of tribute to the barkingly mad Boris Johnson?  BTW, Johnson brought little to the lingual table in stating a horn had the sound of a horn and that sound is rarely jaunty.
Enough of this nonsense bring on that jaunty sound.

That anthem could have been written for a Chinese victory in the international sport of shooting at things. The lyric about China facing its greatest danger is a bit dodgy though.  This anthem is likely to be around for centuries so the message for the generations is be on a constant war footing. Grab your air rifle and be prepared.
 I am not sure tourists will flock to that new Great Wall if it is made of flesh and blood; could be a bit slippery. Perhaps I am being too literal.
It is heartening to see the Chinese lyrics pay homage to the French anthem La Marseillaise. The Chinese version has the good taste to ditch that French stuff about fearsome soldiers coming into our midst to cut the throats of your sons and consorts. It is something of a surprise France does not do better in shooting-at-things. I believe the reason is the French athletes try to sell their arms during the competition, leaving them at a distinct disadvantage during the shoot-offs for medals.
During shooting-at-things, athletes are encouraged to only fire at inert objects. Live pigeon shooting had its only appearance at the 1900 Paris Games. It did not take off.
Neither did the 21 pigeons Belgian Leon de Linden shot to win the gold. They do not call them pigeons for nothing, but even the IOC could see the ineffable killing the unflappable was a trifle off.
Crap is the word
CRAP is quick off the blocks in the competition for the golden word of the 2012 London Olympics.
Swim champ Michael Phelps missed a medal in the 400m men’s individual medley and described his performance as a crappy race. Tory MP Aidan Burley took to Twitter to describe the Opening ceremony as “leftie multicultural crap”.
You would have thought that phrase has few shades of meaning, far fewer than 50, but Burley said he was misunderstood. Unfortunately for public figures, the nature of Twitter makes it difficult to bleat the old stand-by of being taken out of context.  The MP then went on to make the bizarre claim the rappers did his head in.
‘We had all these rappers – that is what got me to the point about multiculturalism.’
Burley received little support from his Conservative colleagues. The Mad Mayor of London said it was nonsense, a subject on which Boris Johnson is an authority.
‘People say it was all leftie stuff. That is nonsense. I’m a Conservative and I had hot tears of patriotic pride from the beginning. I was blubbing like Andy Murray,’ Johnson said. Why he had to tie-in Murray’s tears after losing the Wimbledon tennis final was anybody’s guess, if anybody wants to bother interpreting thoughts from the addled Mayoral mind.
Seems my tweet has been misunderstood. I was talking about the way it was handled in the show, not multiculturalism itself
Thank God the athletes have arrived! Now we can move on from leftie multi-cultural crap. Bring back red arrows, Shakespeare and the Stones!
The most leftie opening ceremony I have ever seen – more than Beijing, the capital of a communist state! Welfare tribute next?
It was left up to online readers to stick up for Burley.
This is from a reader of the Independent
johngoode  
Burley was right.
This was not an opening ceremony but an excuse by the liberal elite to pour more of their absurd and defeatist multi-cultural propaganda into the Olympics. Why Danny Boyle, for crying out loud.
Look, next time, why not just have an opening ceremony full of addicts and ravers at a disco and cut the attempts to present the distorted history lessons. Why bother with the athletes at all? This country has lost it.
Most Independent readers took the opposite view: 
Hilarious! An opening ceremony for an event featuring athletes from more than 200 nations, hosted by one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse cities on the planet branded “leftie multicultural crap”! Where does the Tory party get such prize turnips from? I know they don’t like their MPs to be too clever, but he really takes the gold for ignorance and boorish stupidity. Cameron should promote him to the Cabinet immediately- at least he’s honest about his racism, xenophobia and fascistic tendencies!
Bernie Dowling July 29, 2912
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Olympics in song

Olympic rant #4  OIC bans Bond

WHAT were they thinking. giving mad Irish film maker  Danny Boyle $42 million to stage the Opening Ceremony of the London? When the Big End of London goes for the cutting edge, it ends up bleeding badly.
Danny Boy, the Pistols are calling

The Scots bung on the Edinburgh Comedy Festival, and, of course, they are going to put on a Fringe Festival for comedians to ridicule the High and Mighty. Among the English.
(Do not  go down to the comments column to tell me I am an idiot because Boyle is English. You will lose the thread of my dissertation . I have no time to explain why Boyle is Irish so just take my word for it and we will move on.)
But the English should not have fringes, even on their foreheads. Yet Boris Johnson is the Official Games Madman and Boyle is the Fringe Games Madman.
Of course Boyle was going to include the Sex-Pistols’ God Save the Queen in the ceremony. It was only a snippet but Boyle knew we would all usain-bolt to our computers to play the whole damn thing.
The Queen was a good sport in allowing Boyle to put together the great-looking hokum with Her Maj, the Royal Corgis and James Bond. I believe Boyle has offered Elizabeth II a role in the sequel to Trainspotting. I was going to show the You Tube vid but the IOC spolsports tracked it down and banned it. You know how it goes.
This video contains content from International Olympic Committee, who has blocked it on copyright groundsThis video contains content from International Olympic Committee, who has blocked it on copyright grounds.
.Sorry about that, says Youtube, Yair, we are too.
That vid brought out the republicans and the jingoes among the Youtubers who saw it before the IOC swooped.
good2btheking  commented ‘Thats (sic, commas and Capital Letters are optional for good2b) not fair, she had a parachute on! What a waste of my time.’
I guess the implication is, if China had Danny Boyle, Mao Tse-tung would have opened the 2008 Beijing Olympics. 
If we cannot watch the Queen/ Bondy/ corgi thing we will make do with another classic which Danny Boyle’s mob covered.
This is 4u, IOC



Paul McCartney sang Hey Jude, a song the former Beatle wrote though it was credited as being by Lennon-McCartney. I have no idea why Boyle did not have John Lennon performing beside McCartney. Hey Jude is a sweet song but not overly inspiring.

McCartney, could have chosen one of his songs which more reflected on modern Britain. You might correctly guess Lennon’s fingerprints are on some of the lyrics of the song McCartney should have sung.

Six young athletes lit the cauldron from a flame carried by five-time gold medallist, rower Steve Redgrave. In a thoughtful gesture, Redgrave’s guard of honour consisted of 500 men and women who built the Olympic Park, specifically for the London Olympics and Paralympics. After the Games are finished, it will be renamed the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and will be used as a playground for her corgis.
The Arctic Monkeys covered the Beatles Come Together but the IOC says we are not allowed to watch the replay.  You know the drill:

oundsThis video contains content from International Olympic Committee, who has blocked it on copyright grounds.
.Sorry about that, says Youtube.


Yes, it is a bit of a shame as we will not see a song with the title Come Together at the fiscally responsible Ayn Rand Olympics. (Read my previous blog. Or not.) The Arctic Monkeys did a version most faithful to the original. You can catch the sound of Youtube but, what the heck, we will play a cover  from a trio who should have been invited to perform at the London Games.
You cannot finish on a more inspirational note than that.
Enjoy the Games.!
Olympic shorts
Ducking for glory
THE archive of Australia’s first ever double Olympic Medal winner Bobby Pearce was the top selling lot at Bonhams Olympic Games Sale held on July 25 in London. (See My Olympic rant #1)
The collection included the rower’s two Olympic Gold Medals, letters, photographs and posters.
It sold for £49,250 to an Australian buyer.  The winning bid was at the top end of Bonhham’s expectations
He buyer will be able to tell the story of Pearce’s heat at the 1928  Amsterdam Olympics. He stopped rowing during his heat to allow a group of ducks to cross the course. Pearce went  on to win by 20 lengths.
It would be good if the modern IOC could realise how fireworks terrorise wildlife and domestic parts. I know I am in the minority on this one but I would like to see fireworks replaced by laser light shows synchronised with popular music.
BIGGEST representation
The Cook Islands has the biggest number of national representatives.
Its eight athletes represent the nation at the rate of 40 per 100,000 inhabitants. The greedy nation the United Kingdom (England and those countries yet to win independence) has  a rate of  under 1 for every 100,000 people.
Half the nations  have fewer than 10 competitors, while six nations –  the US, UK, Russia, China, Germany and Australia. –   have  2,720 athletes or  a quarter of all the athletes in the games.


Meet you in Burkina Faso
A HUMBLING experience for Olympic spectators is the realisation that there are countries we have never heard. Be honest: how many of these countries  do you know something about: Andorra, Aruba, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cape Verde, Djibouti, Gabon, Gambia, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Lesotho, Mauritania, Myanmar, Suriname, Tuvalu.
Over the next fortnight, Olympic Rants will feature some of the athletes from these countries. The Olympics is a better way for countries such as these to make the headlines for reasons other than war and famine.
Bernie Dowling June 28, 2012