Monday, August 6, 2012

Experimenting with layout -- and the Olympics

I've just applied the "dynamic layout" to this blog. I'm not sure I really like it, so I'd like you to tell me in a comment or an email message.

Other than that, the past week has involved a lot of Olympics watching. I've been having a discussion about the commentary with a friend on facebook. And we've been complaining about the commentary at home, too. In fact, we've gotten so sick of the commentary that we've taken to watching with the sound off. I'm pretty sure that commentary is almost the same in any given country, but I only know France.
The star commentators have been doing this forever. I've actually been in France long enough to have seen these guys since they started out and they can't be too far from retirement now. I remember the icons that preceded them. French TV loves icons. Eventually they will go and be replaced by a fresh new crew, all the same age, of which two or three will remain in place for 40 years. It means that those who are about 30 or 40 now won't make it. They'll be fill-in between the icon generations. For me and my facebook friend, another American in France, this is really boring.
The commentary is nonsensical blabber. They just don't shut up and let you watch what's going on. They don't really explain the lesser-known sports, either. Also, there are so many events that just as you get settled to watching whatever it is, they switch you to another sport and switch you again just as you've gotten interested. Between telling you what you are watching, what is coming up, what the results were 4 or 88 years ago, you get completely confused. Turn off the sound and you figure it all out faster.
Yesterday, there was a new kind of cycling event and a young French kid -- just turned 20 in April and went to the training center at Pont-Château, bla, bla, bla,.... -- was in it, but we were told nothing about how one scored in this event, how it became an Olympic event or anything else about it. We're intelligent and we figured it out (based on decathlon or triathlon events, this has six cycling elements of endurance or speed and one is ranked for each event and then there's an overall ranking). We turned off the sound after the umpteenth reminder that this young kid has a great future, had just turned 20.... He did get the silver medal.
Another thing is that, since these icons have been around so long, comedians have been imitating them for years. And they do great imitations of the voices, idiosyncrasies, and inane commentary. They do such a good job that watching the real thing makes you want to start laughing immediately.
Eurosport has voice-off commentary and it's much more restrained. EquipeTV does not carry the events, they just do sports news, so it's commentary after the event is over and off-site interviews.
All complaining over, we've been really surprised by the team sports: handball, basketball, and football -- especially the women's teams.

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