Thursday, July 30, 2009

A real kick in the crotch...

Somewhere, in the back of my mind, I knew this day was coming. Or something very much like it, anyway. I woke up late, had some lunch, and ran to grab a few things at the grocery. I was, in these moments, blissfully unaware of what awaited me when I tuned in to ESPN Radio. Then I heard those dreaded words. The order of them didn't matter, the context didn't either. The only thing that mattered was that they were all there.


I am a baseball fan. An unapologetic one. These days, I'm a rare species. It's easy to poke fun at the pastime. Games are too slow. Players have no loyalty. Everybody's juicing. The commissioner's a stooge. The rich get richer and the small markets serve as funnels for the big boys.

I get it. Baseball isn't popular anymore. After today, it isn't hard to see why.

I've been a Red Sox fan since I was ten years old. If you know me, you know the story. Nomar was a rookie shortstop, I was a shortstop in Little League. I love the way he hit. A lot of doubles, high average, like me. Since that time, I have followed the Sox passionately. I was amazed by Pedro's run of brilliance from '98-'00, died a little inside when Aaron Boone went yard in '03, fell into the depths of despair (and was later rescued) during the "Bill Mueller" game, followed the same pattern in '04 on the way to the first title in my (and many other's) lifetime, and watched again in '07 when Josh Beckett cemented his postseason legend.

I love this team. And for years, I was convinced that they alone had remained clean during the infamous "steroids era." Manny has always been kinda pudgy, I'd say. Ortiz looks like a teddy bear, he can't be using. Now, both have been outed as users as more leaks have sprung from the 2003 list that outed A-Rod. These guys are Red Sox legends, the kind of players you stand in your back yard impersonating the stances and swings of. So what do I do now that I know that they were very likely cheating when they won the franchise's only two championships of the last 90 years? I wish I could be like some who say they're Brett Favre- level bored of hearing about steroids in baseball, that everybody was using except for Griffey, Maddux, and Ripken, and that we should all just move on. I wish I could, but then , I've called for Barry Bonds' records to be expunged from the books, for A-Rod's and Giambi's MVPs to be revoked, for year-long bans for anyone caught using anything resembling anabolic steroids. And now two of my top-ten favorite players of my lifetime are cheaters, destroyers of the fabric of the game that I love. So I can't, with any level of honesty, just say, "Oh well, everyone was doing it then, this doesn't affect the way I feel," because it does. Bill Simmons recent column about David Ortiz (back when we could assume that Ortiz's decline was due to age rather than PEDs) says it better than I can.

I'm depressed about all this, of course, but it's not like I'm going to search out another team to root for. Like Nick Hornby says in Fever Pitch, I'm an addict, and because I refuse to acknowledge my addiction as a problem, no matter how much it hurts or embarrasses me, I'm going to keep it up. I can only hope Ortiz quit using when stricter testing was announced (we know Manny didn't) and that by '07 he was clean. That's what we addicts do, we rationalize, using even the most pathetic pieces of minutiae to support what we know is indefensible.

Even though I no longer think of baseball players as the infallible heroes of my youth, I wish I didn't have to think of them as the innocence-destroying harbingers of death of my adulthood. All I need now is for Ted Williams to be uncovered as a coke-dealing pedophile who corked his bat and fought for North Korea during his two military stints to make my day complete.

Friday, March 6, 2009

A Comedian, A Sociopath, and A Blue Demigod walk into a bar...

OK. So I just got back from a screening of Watchmen, the film I have been waiting for more than any other pretty much since The Dark Knight came out last July. I am admittedly one of those geeks for whom the graphic novel hold special significance. However, unlike many others I was not reluctant to see Watchmen brought to the silver screen. In my book, nothing is unfilmable. Even the Lord of the Rings trilogy, fraught though it was with head-slapping moments, especially throughout the last two films, was put satisfactorily to celluloid (or whatever it is they use these days). As I said, my anticipation was running high, and though early reviews were mixed, I was expecting to be wowed.

First, let me say a word about adaptations in general.

They're tough to pull off. I get it. I understand that certain things must be sacrificed in the transition from page to screen. My complaints in the adaptation department usually come instead from superfluous additions to plot or character development. Again, I understand the difficulty. It's why I can watch the Harry Potter films with a general sense of gladness at getting to experience Hogwarts and go along for the ride even though the films leave a lot to be desired. All that to say this: I was ready to be lenient with Zach Snyder. I was ready to pull punches and play nice and not let my geekdom trounce my previously stated good will towards all things adapted.

That didn't last long.

Watchmen does a lot of things right. That is, it reaches the level of the graphic novel a couple of times and in general it keeps its head above water. When it falls short, however, it does so with disastrous results. Zach Snyder films like a thirteen year old horror movie addict. He's as subtle as a sledgehammer, the Steven King of the screen. Nothing can ever be inferred. He shot and cut the movie as if compelled to duplicate the intensity of every frame of the graphic novel he was never going to be able to replicate. Problem is, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons were all about subtlety, even when heads were crushed and blood sprayed and flesh tore. The word gratuitous is overused, especially with regards to film. However, Snyder pushes the G button as many times as his two hours and forty-one minutes allow. The blood and guts and broken bones do not add to the impact of the film; they lessen it, because the audience's attention is constantly being drawn away from the narrative and towards the extraneous bits of diced-up bad guys. Plus, Watchmen contains perhaps the most unnecessary and useless sex scenes in the history of film.

Now, I don't want to come off as Mr. Anybody-could-have-done-this-better. That isn't true. Sure, Paul Greengrass and Darren Aronofsky (both at one time attached to direct) probably would have made a better movie out of Watchmen, but, then again, they didn't. Snyder hits the mark with the look of the film and with the performances he gets from nearly every actor. The cast is excellent almost from top to bottom. Billy Crudup (Dr. Manhattan), Jackie Earle Haley (Rorschach), Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Comedian), and Patrick Wilson (Nite Owl), all give excellent performances that nail the moods and mannerisms of their characters. The problems with the film do not come from the players. Give Snyder some credit for showing these guys where to go and be glad he got them there. Unfortunately, as good a job as Snyder did coaxing out solid work from his actors, he did as poor a job with the soundtrack. There is not even one song during the movie that does not immediately distract the audience's attention from the action on screen. Music in films - especially pop music - has to serve to enhance the scene without overriding it. The music in Watchmen is antithetical to that principal. The crappy part is that those songs chosen, like, "All Along the Watchtower" actually play a part in the graphic novel. Or at least their lyrics do. However, when reading a novel, you only read the words, you don't hear the music or have to deal with the conflicting mood created by its presence. The music is a huge distraction.

Other than that, there are hits and misses. Overall, the film feels jumbled and disorderly, whereas the novel has a superbly clean, clear structure. At times, the film feels like an overloaded ship without a rudder. It is difficult, especially, I'm sure, if you haven't read the novel, to keep up with all the goings on and maintain an interest in the maddeningly episodic narrative unfolding on screen. In the end, Watchmen (the film) is a noble failure. A valiant attempt, but one that scuffles in the hands of a director who seems doomed for Saw VI, rather than any more films attempting to achieve the rare and dynamic combination of serious and cool. I don't begrudge Snyder for undertaking the venture; it took more balls than a lot of directors would have shown. Unfortunately for us all, he was running without a governor.

I've watched The Watchmen, and I think once was more than enough.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Do you think this is how the Israelites felt a few years into their trek through the desert (or: Moses sure can recruit, but can he coach?)...

A three year-old child lost in the Alaska wilderness feels less confused and alone than I do right now.

Kentucky Basketball is the only thing with the power to make me feel this way.

It's ugly, people. I'm not quite sure what to do.

Listen to me. Talking like I'm the back-up point-guard. Hmmm... considering the way Porter and Liggins are playing...

Anyway, I have a couple of theories. One is a legitimate analytical look at what's wrong (obvious), and how we might fix it. The other is much more sports-fan-like, and thus will be given the bulk of the attention.

My season tickets are in section 212 in Rupp Arena. On the wall right outside the entrance to this section there is a large advertisement for Whitaker Bank (of bank shot fame). The ad features several heroes of Kentucky High School Basketball lore, specifically, some players who have led their teams to State Championships at the Sweet Sixteen, sponsored by, you guessed it, Whitaker Bank. Richie Farmer makes an appearance (with a mustache that makes you wonder what he sprinkled on his Wheaties), Antwain Barbour is there, Marquis Estill too. All of those guys ended up playing for Big Blue and deserve their spot commemorating Kentucky's outstanding high school legends. However, there is another player whose face graces (if you want to use that word) the enormous ad-space, one who did not attend Kentucky, one who spent his entire four-year college career inspiring groans from every fan who didn't know enough to know that we should NEVER have recruited him over the guys we got in his class. That's right. Maysville's Own. Chris Effing Lofton. There he is, fifteen feet tall, cutting down the nets. In Rupp Arena. As someone who buys in - hook, line, and sinker - to the whole irrational-fan-who-thinks-superstition-in-sports-is-real philosophy, I'm calling this a curse until we hang banner number eight or Chris Lofton is revealed to be a post-op transgender, revoking all of his records from Tennessee for subverting the system as a dishonest, broad-shouldered he-she.


On the sane side of the coin, it's obvious that the 'Cats are turning the ball over more than I would accept from a team of eight year-old amputees, and that concerns me. What concerns me more, however, is the possibility that this team has pulled the grandest of hoaxes on our loyal fanbases, cheating us somehow into believing that they are more than they are, a walking, dribbling collective of smoke and mirrors, inflated expectations, and terminal weakness. All summer and fall I walked around innocently repeating to myself, "More talented, Patterson and Meeks healthy, solid recruits. We're really going to surprise some people this year." And we may still. Actually, at this point, winning a game would be kind of a surprise, so...

I digress.

The biggest fallacy in my essentially three-pronged philosophy may be the first prong. It occurs to me that this team is NOT as talented as the one we had last year. For all the griping that was done during Joe Crawford and Ramel Bradley's four years in Lexington, last year, they held together a team that by all indications should have completely collapsed about 19 different times. For every unfortunate turnover, there were five really good plays. These guys invigorated the rest of the team and they led the players on and off the court in a way that Coach Clyde desperately needed them too. Plus, they were really good scorers and underrated defenders. They could handle the ball and hit the big shot. This team does not have anyone to fill the void of their leadership, tenacity, and skill. Yes, Jodie Meeks is a stud. He is also, as of now, an island in the backcourt. Porter plays like a frightened gypsy, Liggins isn't to not being bigger, faster, and stronger than everyone else on the court, and Kevin Galloway can't seem to find his way out of Clyde's dog house. Guess what. Point guard play is important. It can and should get better, but right now, it scares the hell out of me.

As for the frontcourt, we were like, "Hey, Patterson is awesome." And he was like, "Yeah, I know, right?" And Perry Stevenson was like, "Hey, I'll be a legitimate scoring threat from the post." And we were like, "Yeah you will!" And then it was like, "Oh crap, that's right, you weigh 135 pounds and you're soft as a goose-down pillow." And then we were like, "Josh Harrelson! All right!" And the Coach G. was like, "Hey, dumbass, learn to play defense." And the bench was like, "Hi Josh."

And then there are the turnover machines who play in that ethereal, unknown region called simply, "The Wing." Darius Miller (who is going to be really good, even by the end of this season) and Ramon Harris have got to fill some of the void left by Jasper's exit and use their agility - well, Darius' agility - to get the ball to Patrick Patterson and create some match-up problems with their defensive length and their ability to get to the basket on smaller players.

So there. That should fix us. It's going to be a tumultuous season. The good news is that we've got a slew of low-end opponents who we can hopefully use to figure out a system and gain an identity in time for the SEC schedule. We can still do damage, we just have to take the passion and togetherness that last year's team showed toward the end of the year and fuse it with the skill that many of these same guys exhibited down the stretch.

Some say it's a waste to think about this stuff. After all, I'm not on the team and I can't affect the outcome. But, I can't stop caring. And I never will. So, in the meantime, it's all I can think about.

Monday, June 30, 2008

I'll Never Call it Football, But...

I'm already starting to think about fantasy football. I think I have a disease.

That said, this is not a fantasy football post. Or even a football post. Or is it?

No, it's not. I already said that. Anyway, I have officially turned the corner in regards to that great unwatchable, anti-American, boring, poorly constructed sport called soccer. I now no longer find it unwatchable or boring, although there are still criticisms to be made (the shootout is a joke of a way to decide a game). I really, really got into Euro Cup 2008 over the past few weeks on ESPN. I picked Spain (without any real reason) from the beginning of the tournament and happily rooted for them on their way to beating Germany in the final 1-0. What I will now attempt is a rational look at soccer and what has changed that has caused the sudden surge in interest. I will address possible criticisms of logic as I go.

The only real soccer watching experience I have ever had was two years ago when the World Cup was in Southeast Asia. I watched several matches and they were interesting enough for me to keep tabs on who was doing what in the tournament, but I never set my watch by the start-time of a match as I would with UK basketball or the Red Sox. I was suitably jazzed up by my encounter in 2006 to look a little further into soccer as a sport. I did. And I wasn't happy with what I found (this is part where I voice my complaints).

First of all, aggregate scoring is stupid because the nature of the game causes whoever won that first match to play defense to the point of absurdity in the second. It's like if the Red Sox outscored the Rockies 8-1 in the first game of the World Series, and only played hard enough not to let the Rockies outscore them by 7 in game 2. Ridiculous. Aggregate scoring generally only applies to league play, but still, the English Premiership is supposed to be the best of the best, and I don't want to see the best playing for a tie.

Secondly, American sports are all about the payoff. The home run, the slam dunk, the 50 yard touchdown pass. Teams that don't hit a lot of homers are called boring, teams that grind it out in the half-court and hit open 16 foot jumpers are called boring, teams that run the ball 65% of the time and score only after 12:00 minute drives where they punch it in from the 2 yard line on their third try are called boring. And this is in the most popular American sports. Now imagine soccer through the eyes of the average American fan. The average games sees about 2.5 goals scored over a ninety minute span. While it's true that some of the goals are spectacular, they simply don't provide the average American viewer with the payoff they seek. This doesn't mean they're right, but it does go some distance toward explaining why soccer doesn't (and very likely never will) catch on in this country.

However, as I have already stated, it's caught on with me. I loved every minute of the games I watched. By way of explanation, I say the following things:

1. I watched almost every game with friends, many of whom were soccer fans. The next time you're in doubt about the impact this has, try watching a borderline sporting event by yourself. It gets boring really quickly. But, if you have someone to talk to about the game, someone who is somewhat invested, it's a different story. We made events out of getting together to watch, just like with college football or the NCAA tournament. This made a huge difference.

2. I had (kind of) a rooting interest. I was rooting for Spain solely because they were playing well in the World Cup in '06, but then ran into a rolling French team that beat them. It was a sympathy vote, but it also made a difference.

3. I changed my expectations. That, please note, is not to say that I lowered my expectations, but simply altered them. I slowly began to accept that soccer is not a thrill a minute, constant action sport like basketball, or even a thrill-every-few-minutes game like football or baseball. To quote an increasingly used phrase in our lexicon, it is what it is. There is a pace to the game that takes some understanding. The best way to understand it, unfortunately for the sport, is to either play the sport, or watch a lot of it. After doing the latter, I'm now interested throughout the entire game, watching each side's strategy develop and come to fruition. Granted, their is still a lot more non-action that action, but, for whatever reason, that just isn't as big a deal to me anymore. Whereas before, I couldn't see where all that kicking back and forth was going, now I do. It's like when Neo saw the Matrix in green code for the first time. When I began to enjoy the game for what it is, rather than trying to make it what it was never going to be, I saw the whole thing differently.

So there, I like soccer. Now, how to keep this going. I've reasoned that I can't simply wait two years for the next major international competition; I need a club team. Naturally, I can't abide the MLS for the same reasons I don't have a favorite AA baseball team. I'm going to the English Premier League to find a team to follow. Since I live in the U.S. and can therefore claim no geographic proximity to a team, I must find some other way of arriving at one I can root for. I'll end the suspense: I decided on Liverpool. I arrived at my choice thus:

1. They have two players from Spain's national team, Fernando Torres and Xabi Alonso, who I have already become familiar with and can instantly begin rooting for in a club setting.

2. The Beatles are from Liverpool.

3. Carlsberg is their sponsor. I like to drink Carlsberg.

4. Their team crest and slogan ("You'll Never Walk Alone") are awesome.

OK, so those are pretty lame reasons to support a soccer team, but it made about as much sense as anything else I came up with. I do have a friend who is a huge Man. U fan, so I guess I could support them in the interest of his happiness, but everyone I know who knows anything about soccer is pro-Man. U (this was especially unbearable in the weeks following my friends' mission trip to Ireland, when all of a sudden everyone had a United jersey and were vowing to religiously begin follow the EPL), and I didn't want to follow suit. So, there it is. The unthinkable has happened. I am a soccer fan. Liverpool kicks the regular season off (no pun intended) on Aug. 16 against those yokels from Sunderland with their much less cool team crest (trash talking also helps build allegiance). I'll try to wrangle some channel that lets me watch most if not all of their games, and I'll enjoy every second of them.

P.S. - Just to insure you all that I have not lost my mind... ahem... I'm loving Maurice Jones-Drew, but in a split backfield with Fred Taylor, is worth a late first round pick, or should I use that on a QB and hope MJD is there on the comeback? Arrrggghhh!

Friday, June 20, 2008

O Captain, My Captain...

OK, so I can't really get by without mentioning the tremendous collapse of this formerly oft-updated blog. I'm beginning to get harassed by people who for one reason or another have taken umbrage with my lack of posts. There is a lot I could talk about, but rather than do one lengthy post on a single subject, I'll simply post a bunch of thoughts/happenings that have been a part of my life for the past two months.

In no particular order:

- Saw Psycho at the Kentucky Theater. Great movie. Awful crowd.

- I found rap music that is good. There is no caveat to that statement. They're called Flobots. Listen to the song "Handlebars." It will stun you. I was sold when they referenced Buster Bluth.

- Yes, I'm starting a non-profit organization with at least one (and probably more) of my friends. It's in its infancy, so their isn't much to say, other than that I'm serious about it.

- Kentucky Basketball recruiting is awesome. 8th graders? Sure. Who cares? Seriously, if they can play, I don't care if Billy Clyde is abducting them from nurseries.

- Soccer needs some sort of line on the field to designate offsides. I don't like the whole "can't be behind the defender when the ball is passed" thing. It bothers me for some reason.

- My novel is coming along nicely. Thanks for asking. This is part of the reason my blog dried up. When I made posts, I inevitably felt guilty for not having worked on the novel instead.

- I never believed in the whole "acquired taste" concept until recently, when I realized I had fully acquired a taste for beer. Hooray beer!

- Coldplay and My Morning Jacket have released great albums. Buy them both. Even if you didn't like X & Y.

- C.S. Lewis pwns.

- I'm going to see Radiohead and Wilco on back to back nights in August. I will post a long blog entry consisting entirely of a running diary kept for those two days.

- I saw the Raconteurs live in Cincinnati. Jack White is the most amazing vampire I've ever seen.

- Lost is back. Tell your friends. Then mock them because they abandoned the show when Nikki and Paulo showed up in season 3.

- What Tiger Woods did at the U.S. Open last week is so, so, so much more hardcore than Jordan scoring 41 with the flu, or Willis Reed playing on one leg. Just because it's golf doesn't mean he isn't a beast.

- I got to see the Red Sox play three games in Cincinnati, the first time I've seen them play since 2003. Sara and I enjoyed all three games and it was a thrill getting to see these guys in person. As a bonus, the Sox took 2 of 3 and I got to see Josh Beckett pitch one of his best games of the year. I was worried we were going to catch crap from Reds fans after they won the first game 3-1, but then I remembered that they would be riling up fans of a first place team who would instantly remind them how much of an irrelevant joke their franchise has been for the last 17 seasons (funny how arrogant I've become about the Red Sox, considering that just five years ago, they were in the midst of an 86 year World Series drought. But they had competitive years in there, you know, unlike the Reds).

- The American educational system sucks. Lucky for them, I'm coming to the rescue. That's right, people, I'm going to be teaching English to Juniors and Seniors at West Jessamine High School this fall. I am, from this point forward, a real person.

- Oh yeah, I'm becoming a beast at disc golf, so, yeah.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Flying W's impending crash...

Watching somebody you love destroy him or herself is an especially difficult thing to witness.

It's even more difficult when it happens to be four people who are inextricably linked with some of the most formative years of your life.

Weezer, what are you doing?

I love Weezer. I don't want to qualify that by saying I love Weezer's first two albums a whole lot, and their subsequent output less so, but I'm tempted to. Weezer, or The Blue Album, and Pinkerton are solidly in my top ten albums of all-time (#s 2 and 8, respectively). The Green Album, Maladroit, and Make Believe are noticeably behind the curve Weezer set with those first two Golden Treasures. Don't get me wrong, I don't loathe these last three releases, it's just that they aren't perfect, like the first two.

Now, don't think that the warped expectations I have for this band have not crossed my mind. I get that what I expect from them, they couldn't possibly deliver. However, that doesn't really matter much to me at this point.

Their new album is coming out in a couple of months (June 17th, to be exact), and I promise you I'll buy it. But I'm bracing for disappointment. I feel much like I have with Kentucky in the NCAA tournament these past few years: Sure, there's a chance they could make a run and pull of something great, but I'm not exactly brimming with confidence.

Their first single from the yet-again-eponymous Red Album is called - shudder - "Pork and Beans." This is easily the worst name for a song in the history of popular music, and I am including rap in this, so "Move, Bitch" and "Chicken and Beer" and "Barry Bonds" were all considered. Even worse, the song (or, more accurately, the 30 second clip I heard from doesn't sound bad. I would listen to this song and the record it came from. Rivers is still happy, which means his lyrics have lost all of the confessional bite that made those first two records so great, but it still sounds alright. This is what Weezer has been doing musically for the past eight years, taking one step forward just to take two back.

I wish I could stop them. There may have been a time when I thought I would never see the day I didn't pine for the next Weezer album. But I fear that time has come.

Take a listen for yourself HERE.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

You Ain't Gonna Make It With Anyone Anyhow...

The news (ESPNews, but that counts, right) has been peppered with stories of protest amid the Olympic torch's usual Run-Through-A-Lot-Of-Big-Cities tour. In London and Paris, the flame was actually extinguished numerous times when torch bearers were actually accosted during their runs. All the hubbub relates directly to the old Chinese habit of treating human beings like shit. Communism has been around for a long time, and China has been under communist rule since 1949, when Chairman Mao (see the Beatles' "Revolution #1) came to power in what is ironically termed a "New-democratic revolution." The people Mao and his cronies duped pretty much had no choice, as their existence before Communism was just as bad if not worse than it has been. Primarily, the communist regime has ignored the rights of peasant farmers, which they promised they would sort out during the 28 year period after they were founded but before they came to power. These farmers are still being ignored, but, as peasants don't generally do a whole lot to boost the economy (you know, besides FEEDING THE CITIZENRY!), they are able to be ignored without a whole lot of negative effect upon the People's Republic. The economy in China continues to grow at a scary pace while human rights violations remain commonplace.

As you probably know, the 2008 Summer Olympics were awarded to Beijing, the capital of China, in 2001. Part of the IOC's (International Olympic Committee) thought process behind awarding the Games to a nation with such an egregious record on human rights was that the spotlight placed on the country through the games would force them to change their ways, or else be embarrassed on the world's greatest stage. Guess what? With apologies to Clark Gable, they don't give a damn. They pushed peasants out of their homes to make way for state of the art stadiums and Olympic facilities. The trick is, communism is designed to put the government at the top of the priorities list; the prosperity of the state is all that matters. Therefore, when peasant farmers go up against Olympic stadiums, the stadium wins because it will generate more money for the state. HOW DID NOBODY SEE THIS COMING?!

That question is leading protesters to attempt to bring attention to the horrible atrocities committed by the Chinese government, largely against Tibet, which considers itself a free and sovereign state, but which the PRC thinks makes a nice living room addition to the west wing of their house. Funny that you didn't hear much about this in the U.S. media in the SEVEN YEARS leading up to the Olympics from the time they were awarded.

The big question now, and the one I would like to see some discussion on (can Petie have a discussion with himself? We shall see) is what the U.S. and, more specifically, our Olympic teams, going to do about this? Several athletes have mentioned a boycott, which I am pretty much all in favor of at this point. Several groups have put pressure on President Bush to take a stand and issue the boycott himself. The crappy thing is, these athletes spend ALL THEIR TIME AND RESOURCES training for these events, and their non-participation will hardly curb human rights abuses from a self-imposed, non-elected government that has propagated them for years. To end an athletes Olympic dream is a tough thing to do.

But, if you ask me, it's the only thing to do. We boycotted the Games in Moscow in 1980 because the USSR and the U.S. weren't getting along, so why can't we do the same when there are far worse crimes being committed daily by the Chinese Government than the Soviets at that time. To be really effective, though, it would have to be an international boycott, the European Union would have to step up along with every country who stands against human rights abuses. There is, of course, a rather cynical part of me that doesn't see this happening. Why? Because China is a huge economic partner of America, and sadly, their dollars matter more to the government than their crimes. Starbucks, Nike, and a whole host of other companies are firmly entrenched in China, and I doubt they want to see that spending vanish, especially in the tenuous U.S. economy. If we boycott the Games alone, they might pull trade with us. Sure, it would hurt them too, but if the rest of the world was still trading with them, they could pull through it. Besides, it's not like their government is worried about not getting its officials re-elected.

The possibility of boycotting the games actually thrills me. Never mind that I'm just not a big Olympics guy, I think this actually could be a world-changing statement, if done right. If every major economic power in the world pulled out of the Games, China would be crushed and embarrassed in front of the world and the IOC's basic idea, though obviously not the way they saw it, would come to fruition. We could follow with hard-hitting economic sanctions from enough countries that China would have no choice but to submit to frequent U.N. inspections of the quality of life enjoyed by historically mistreated people. Plus, it would be George W. Bush's final grand gesture, one that might actually succeed in recovering some of the good-will he's been squandering as fast as possible these last few years. If he could lead the charge by pulling the U.S. teams and encouraging other countries to do the same, he would leave office with at least one giant gold star pinned to his lapel, and I think he's eager for a positive not on his legacy at this point. We've been given a gift-wrapped opportunity to make a huge global statement. This is not some contrived "what if" game.

What can the U.S. do? What should the U.S. do? I know I'm not an Olympian and that it isn't my life's ambition that is being ripped from me in the event of a boycott, but I'd like to think that the service these athletes could be doing for the millions of mistreated and murdered in China would last longer and mean more to more people than even a Gold Medal.

Go Go Gadget Boycott!