Rick Telander and Rick Morrissey share their thoughts

July 2012 Archives


LONDON--So, here I am just browsing in the athlete's village--the part where regular media humans can go, although hardly any are here--looking at athletes large and small. Suddenly, a commotion as a group of people come marching this way.
Young women start to swoon, and shop workers, sweat-suited jocks and coaches, even bobbies begin to chase the group. Me, I'm standing there, letting it come to papa.
Boom! Princess Kate is near asking me if I'll stop for a spot of champagne and a roll with the royal yorklings, or whatever the Queen's little dogs are called.
OK, not really. Because Prince William was ahead of her, wearing a red baseball cap. He's reasonably tall. In shape. And there were some mean-looking larger dudes in dark suits, to boot.
The Princess--for you People Mag readers--is very tall and very slender. High cheekbones, well-appointed makeup, long brown hair, reeks of money and, uh, royalty.
Next, I'll give you Pippa. Or maybe Scottie Pippen.


Our encounter was brief, yes. But how long does true affection take to become fruit, ripen, fall from the tree, and splatter like a melon dropped from a dorm? Swift!
I felt it. She certainly did. But, as in a fairy tale, while I was hunting for nutrients to put some meat on her bones, the poor thing vanished. Gone from my life.
Ah me, I bleed! I swoon!

Lunch, day 5

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LONDON -- I had a Ploughman's sandwich for lunch, which is what I often have after a hard morning of clearing the land. It had cheddar cheese and some sort of relish that I could have done without. Oh, well.


We are the world

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LONDON -- The Olympic media press center is huge, and it has to be, considering that 20,000 journalists are here. There are newspapers from all over the world. Why, here's the office of one from South Korea:


Making waves

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LONDON -- Here's a thought I haven't been able to shake since my first Summer Olympics in 1992: What's to stop a spectator from jumping into the pool while a gold medal is up for grabs?

I know, I should be thinking deeper thoughts. But how many times have we seen a drunken guy (and it's always a drunken guy) run onto the field during a baseball or football game? And how many times have we seen that drunken guy elude his would-be captors with some nifty moves? Eventually, security guards tackle him, making sure he feels their full weight and the hardness of the ground.

I have this image of Michael Phelps going for gold Tuesday night in the 200-meter butterfly and a sloshed Sven from Sweden doing a cannonball at about the 30-meter mark. There are lots of waves because Sven shops in the husky section of the department store in Stockholm. Actually, clothes don't matter because Sven isn't wearing any. He is a literal streaker.

Who goes in after him? Pool guards with whistles, red swim trunks and white zinc oxide on their noses? Cops? Other swimmers? And how long would the race have to be postponed? This is the kind of intellectual curiosity you've come to expect from me.

I did a Google search and couldn't find an instance of a spectator jumping in a pool during a competition. If if happens here, will I be to blame? It's really not how I want to make a splash.

Lunch is served

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Lunch at beach volleyball. Cumberland sausage. Yum.


Pub of the day

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LONDON -- They have some great names for pubs here. This one, The Friend at Hand, is just comforting, isn't it? It all but says, "A pint is your mate.''


Life is good

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LONDON -- The spectacular view of the city from the Olympic beach volleyball venue at Horse Guards Parade:


Hometown heroes

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LONDON -- The U.S. Olympic Committee often sends out news releases during the Games, keeping journalists updated on how American athletes are faring.

The typical press release gives the name and hometown of the athlete. What I like best is when the USOC writes about the men's basketball team. You probably identify Kevin Durant with Oklahoma City. Wrong.

"Led by 22 points and nine rebounds from Kevin Durant (Suitland, Md.), the U.S. men's basketball team opened play in the London 2012 Olympic Games tournament with a 98-71 victory over France,'' the release said.

"Durant received scoring support from Kevin Love (Lake Oswego, Ore.) and Kobe Bryant (Philadelphia, Pa.), who scored 14 and 10, respectively, while Tyson Chandler (Compton, Calif.) shared team rebounding honors with Durant with nine boards.''

See, they're just like all the other athletes here. Pay no attention to their multimillion-dollar contracts.

LONDON -- A guy walks into a bar with a carrot cake.

"What's the carrot cake for?'' my friend asks him.

"It's my birthday,'' he says.


"Want to see something weird?'' I say.

I take out my wallet and show him my driver's license. It's my birthday, too. July 29.

He smiles.

"Want to know something weirder?'' he says. "I was born the same year.''

We agree it's a very strange place, this Planet Earth.

His name is Dan Helms, and he's the managing editor for U.S. Presswire, which provides photos for media companies around the world. His Olympic co-workers had given the birthday boy a cake. Sun-Times, where are you? Telander?

Here's a photo of me and Helms (on right) toasting ourselves Sunday night in the press center bar. The photographer apparently was listing to his right by this point:


Warring parties

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LONDON -- Daley Thompson and Steve Redgrave don't like each other too much.

Both British Olympic greats wanted to light the cauldron at the Opening Ceremony, and they spent the lead-up sniping at each other. Redgrave listed his five best British athletes and didn't include Thompson, a two-time gold medalist in the decathlon. Redgrave, who won five gold medals as a rower, included himself on the list.

Thompson fired back Saturday.

"As I understand it, for most of his gold-medal career, he wasn't even the best rower in his boat,'' he told the Independent. "So how he considers himself the greatest is beyond me. I was going to put him 10th, but to show there are no hard feelings between us, I've moved him up to ninth.''

Redgrave ran the torch into Olympic Stadium on Friday night, then handed it off to seven young athletes, who lit the cauldron. Thompson ran a leg of the torch route two days earlier.

Pedestrian rules

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LONDON -- They drive on the wrong side of the road here. I'm pretty sure the warning on this street is meant for any dumb, directionally challenged Americans walking about London. In other words, all of us:


LONDON -- OK, it's not as if I need a beer every night, but come on. Pubs closing at 11 p.m.? How often do we hear about the charm of British pubs? It's part of the fabric here, as much so as rain. You go to a pub to find conversation, community and a pint, not necessarily in that order.

On Saturday, I took a bus from an archery event to Russell Square and stopped in a pub with a fellow journalist. I was on my second beer when the bartender informed us the pub was closing. It was 10:55. I downed the beer and went looking for a restaurant to have a late dinner. No luck there, either. I ended up eating a flapjack from the hotel gift shop. And I don't even know what a flapjack is.

Thousands and thousands of visitors are in town for the Olympics, and a guy can't get a pint and a bite to eat? Really, London?

The photo here is not of that pub, but it's a typical pub, and my frustration is such that the place falls under the umbrella of collateral damage and innocent victims:


Back to school

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LONDON -- I ran across this place heading to the Olympic Village. My kind of school. Honest. Reasonable expectations.


Olympic spirit

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By Rick Morrissey

LONDON -- People are nice. No, really, they are. That's why the Olympics are so good for a confirmed cynic like me. They don't reaffirm my faith in mankind. They tell to me to wake up and look around.

I was at the Opening Ceremony on Friday night, running on fumes after being up for 36 straight hours, thanks to travel. I looked like death microwaved on high for two minutes. Steve, an Austrian journalist who sat next to me at the ceremony, took pity and walked me in and out of the crowd for 45 minutes to the high-speed train that would take us to Kings Cross.

On the train, I met Jim, a marketing man from Wales whose wife is a wildlife photographer. He's been to the Arctic Circle (his wife was taking photos of polar bears) and must be good with directions, otherwise he'd be frozen to a glacier somewhere. He walked me several blocks, pointed me down the road and left me his card. It took me another 15 minutes and more huddling with strangers before I found my way to my hotel at 2 a.m. It was a nice adventure after a spectacular Opening Ceremony.

There was no pub open at that hour, which was probably a good thing. But, London? You've got to work on that.

Photos: Opening ceremony glimpses

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Opening ceremonies? No, opening karaoke!

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By Rick Morrissey
Sign outside main press center. You know, if Sir Paul gets boring.


Elite swimmers are built like Greek gods. Except without hamstrings.
Their quadriceps are massive. And, of course, their lats, deltoids, triceps, abs and pecs are ripped to the max. Yep, even the women.
But other than the random breaststroker who needs some leg contraction, they have withered, almost nonexistent hamstrings. The sport does not call for their extended use. Runners have hamstrings. So do football players, basketball players, tennis players, wrestlers, joggers.
Swimmers, nope.


Do you recall all the swimming world records that were set in the last five to 10 years?
At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, for example, 21 out of 32 swimming events had their world records broken. World records blew up at the 2009 world championships in Rome, too. And it was all because of the polyurethane bodysuits everyone was wearing, coverings that made swimmers as buoyant and hydro-dynamic as killer whales.
Well, those suits are gone. Now there are no zippers, no non-textile materials, no wetsuit lengths allowed. Thank God.
The swimmers' times suck. World records are not tumbling. So be it. This sport is about skill, not technology.


It was late Thursday, June 28 when Michael Phelps came into the interview room at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb., site of the Olympic Swimming Trials.
The stadium was empty, except for late-deadline sportswriters, and as Phelps climbed the dais, in the blast of the massive air-conditioning stream, he shivered. It was cold. With the 100-degree scorcher outside, it seemed somebody had flipped the switch to "Arctic."


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