Heat? Crowds? Bring 'em on
I’m not big on crowds and I’m not really built for the heat so why I decided today, when it’s 30 plus and a billion people are in town, to go visit Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City is beyond me.
But I did. And it was sorta worth it.
Not sure what I was expecting, certainly not tanks and students and protesters, but the square was, frankly, underwhelming.
Sure, there was a sense of history but cheesy souvenir stands on the sides really diminish it.
But it was crowded. And hot. Just like I like it. Not.
The most interesting thing?
Being asked by a local teen to have my picture taken with him.
The other Canadians had been telling me about this phenomenon, where they’re asked, out of the blue, to pose for a photo with a local.
I was chatting with a woman from California when a kid and what had to be his mom stopped by. The kid spoke, the California woman is fluent in Mandarin and answered and then all of a sudden, I’m standing there next to the guy while mom clicks off a couple of frames.
I can just hear the kid now when he gets back to school:
“Hey look. Big, heavy, tired foreigner and me. What a picture!”
Did get a chance to check out Snack Street and was not even tempted to try deep fried bug or some insect on a stick or whatever the meat on a skewer was.
And if Tiananmen was packed, Snack Street was super packed.
Think the smallest, tightest alley anywhere near where you live, put booths on both sides of it, added a couple of thousands people and the, um, aroma, of frying bugs and the screeches of food hawkers and you’ve got it.
I’m not sure why anyone would go twice. It’s something to see. And then to avoid.
First mail trip
Q: Is the source you refer to as "Someone Who'd Know" a single person, or instead a catchall for the various insider contacts you've accumulated?
K A, Toronto
A: Without revealing a source, ‘cause I’d never do that, let’s just say that when I write that phrase, it refers to whoever it needs to in a specific instance.
You gotta trust me that it’s indeed Someone Who Knows about whatever it is I’m writing about.
You are going to have to look long and hard to find a more compelling athletic competition than the women’s platform diving here Thursday night, which I guess was early Thursday morning there, and I really hope a lot of you saw it.
Can you imagine the pressure on the winner from China, Chen Roulin?
She’s at home, the gold favourite, sellout crowd watching in the Ice Cube, er, Water Cube, I don’t know many millions of others watching on TV and all those years of training and competing pointing to her last dive.
She’s got to be practically perfect to move into first and what did she do?
Nailed it. Perfectly.
That’s stones, my friends.
And Canada’ s silver medallist Emilie Heymans?
Well, let’s just say she’s not really known for grit but for her to nail five dives like she did under those circumstances?
I’m nominating that right now for the best Canadian performance – all things considered – of the Game so far.
Two Olympic moments, right there.
Okay, I know you’re all going to read this and then sit around and watch USA-Argentina in the basketball semifinals, right?
Well, the Kobe-Manu story is the one that’s getting all the juice out there but here’s one to think about to.
I’m told by beat grunts who follow the Cavs regularly that it’s pretty personal between LeBron James and Andres Nocioni and that’s one worth watching, too.
I don’t know if the Americans can be beaten with the way they’ve played.
But if they play three quarters like they did in the first half against Australia (missing 10 free throws and 10 of 13 three-pointers), Argentina’s got a legit chance.
I don’t know what the line is (gambling, except when it’s run by the bookies in our government, is illegal, I remind you again) but I see the US winning by less than 10.
I don’t care what happens the rest of the Games, nothing will be as big an upset as Japan over the United States in softball. No way.
The Americans were unbeatable. And then they got beat.
And while we’re on the subject:
Q: I'm confused about the format of Softball in the Olympics. Japan beat USA for the gold, but I also just read that Japan lost to USA in the semi-finals. If they lost in the semi-finals, how do they get to play for gold? Shouldn't they be playing in the bronze medal game? It also said that Japan played three games the day before the Gold medal game. Can you explain the format? Thanks
Alex H, Oakville
A: It’s the Page Playoff system. One plays two, three plays four. Winner of one-two goes to the gold medal game, loser plays the winner of three-four (the loser of three-four is out) and the winner of that game meets the winner of one-two for gold and silver. The loser of that game between the loser of one-two and the winner of three-four gets the bronze.
Got it? Took me a day or two to figure it out.
We sitting around glued to the TV watching equestrian (and I absolutely guarantee you I will never write those words again) the other night when Lamaze won his gold. The question was, would they take the horse through the mixed zone? And since I never saw any Hickstead quotes, I guess they don’t.
From the Department of Knock-Offs I’ve seen Wu Mart. A big department store that sells whatever you need at discount prices.