The things you see
|As close as it gets for Doug. Photo possibly taken with zoom lens.|
You see a lot of things in the first class lounges of various train stations and airports – not that I go there very often in these budget-conscious times (hi boss!). Things like famous people sometimes. Free food. The odd drink. Comfortable chairs.
And, apparently, bugs.
Big, stinking scorpion-like bugs.
That’s what greeted four of us at the Tianjin West train station the other night at the end of a looooooong women’s football day.
We’re sitting there and notice – because we’re crack observers of course – this huge thing on the counter and three young workers playing with it. It’d run a metre or so, they’d pick it up, turn it around and watch it saunter back.
Great sports, I guess.
Not entirely sure what it was, and I only got close enough to snap a picture because me and bugs have issues, but I was sort of hoping they’d bring out another so we could watch a race and maybe have a friendly wager.
Alas, we were left to transcribe tape. And sip a beer.
Speaking of, I got a bone to pick with whoever’s in charge over here and reading this blog (I get antsy every time I write that word now).
At every Main Press Centre I’ve been in at five summer games now, there’s always been a 24-hour lounge somewhere at the MPC because we’re all working on the 24-hour clock and like to relax with a cold beverage whenever the day is done.
Well, over here at Puritanical MPC, they give last call at TWELVE FREAKING MIDNIGHT. And a couple of thirsty Team Star travelers report they couldn’t find a place to buy a beer at midnight back in our media village.
That, my friends, has to got to stop. Even in Ontario that wouldn’t happen.
While we’re on 24-hour establishments, here’s another installment 2 of Tales From Past Games.
We’re in Athens four years ago and discover, much to our glee, a gorgeous rooftop patio overlooking the stadium and the city. Breezy, lots of nice seats, plenty of serving stations and 3 Euro a pint beer.
As I’m picking up a tray or two for the crowd, I need to ask the comely young barkeep how late the joint may be open, trying to figure out how early I’d have to get there.
She goes, confers with some supervisor ‘cause I don’t think she quite understands my English and comes back to report:
"Sir, we are open all the hours.”
You think I smiled?
Okay, enough about booze.
Let’s get on to cigarettes.
(A note: I smoke, you shouldn’t. None of you. It’s not cool. I have to quit. I will. Don’t start).
We’re walking into the restaurant the other night and I, because I’m a good Canadian trained in non-smoking, butt out just as we get to the door.
A local with some knowledge of the place looks at me like I’ve got three heads and says, “Don’t worry, you can smoke in restaurants here. I think you can smoke in hospitals if you want.”
Okay, really, enough about booze and smoking.
Let’s get on to athletics. Sports. You know, games.
Of course, I’m the only one from Team Star who’s seen a game – the glorious 2-1 football win over the dastardly Argentines – and I gotta say, I admire the women.
It was stinking hot and stinking humid in Tianjin, and even hazier than it is in Beijing usually, and while it was a perfect opportunity to complain about the conditions, no one did.
No one worried that it would affect performance – that will become the excuse du jour, I’m sure – because, frankly, it’s hot and sticky pretty much everywhere in August. You deal with it.
"Obviously it’s a little bit of an adjustment, your shirt weighs about 10 pounds at the end of the game but everybody has to play in it,” said Christine Sinclair.
Quite refreshing, that attitude is.
Remember way back in day when I said we should have some legit nicknames for our international teams?
Well, the Chinese women’s soccer team are the Steel Roses. That might be one of the best ones out there.
Us? We’re Team Canada. Yawn.
This is quasi-Games related mail:
Q: I was watching a bit of the U.S./Aussie pre-Olympic warmup and I noticed Nathan Jawai (a.k.a. Aussie Shaq) wasn't on the team. Why do you think he isn't, I don't know much about the Aussie's except Bogut, but I figured with all the pre-draft hype he'd be there, any reasons why not? Also, I caught an interview with Aussie Shaq and he said that the NBL was probably better than U.S. college ball. Comparing the number of guys in the NBA from U.S. college vs. NBL I would think that would be a tough arguement. Your thoughts?
Mark P, Ajax
A: I think that’s a little bit of patriotic hyperbole but the fact is, the pro leagues around the world are men, rather than college teens so the basketball IQ might be a bit better.
And the Aussie team, which gave the Yanks a bit of scare in that game ‘cause all they got were open three-pointers, are one of the most veteran teams here, it’s no surprise that a kid who’s played one year of professional basketball didn’t make the squad.
I don’t know if this signals anything, it probably doesn’t, but there will be four basketball players carrying flags in Friday’s opening ceremonies.
Yao Ming gets the gig for China, Andrei Kirilenko does the honours for Russia, Dirk Nowitzki handles the deal for Germany and Manu Ginobili does it for Argentina.
Guess that takes Yao out of the Who Lights The Torch lottery. Better tell Perk so we can revise the wager.
So, it’s night over here and the work is pretty much done (it’s fun, some days, to cover Games with games) and there’s this reception thingy at Canada Olympic House. I believe they will feed and water us and that should give lots of fodder for this space tomorrow