August 10, 2008

The Cougar Lounge - Slow Boat To China

"I thought he was a jerk. Against us, he threw a touchdown and turned to our bench and screamed and flexed. That's the perception a lot of people have of him, but he thrives on that."

- Wazzu senior receiver Brandon Gibson describing the definite jerk-like behavior of Arizona State quarterback Rudy Carpenter while going on to say that once you get to know him, he's really a "different guy".




"I also now understand that some IOC officials negotiated with the Chinese that some sensitive sites would be blocked on the basis they were not considered Games-related. If you have been misled by what I have told you about there being free internet access during the Games, then I apologize."

- International Olympic Committee press commission director Kevin Gosper, explaining that his IOC bosses - without mentioning it to him - were evidently in cahoots with the Chinese government to block certain internet access to any website that mentions that naughty "Tibet" word [like for instance, CougZone - Hey China! Listen to this catchy tune…Tibet, Tibet, bo-bibet; Banana-fana, fo-fifet; Fee-fi-mo-mibet - TIBET!].




"I'm not going to make an apology for something that the IOC is not responsible for. We are not running the internet in China. The Chinese authorities are running the internet."

- IOC president, Jacques Rogge, who is Belgian, explaining what everybody already knew but later, blamed it on his poor Belgian-to-English translation dictionary. Speaking through a spokeswoman, Rogge says that what he really meant last Saturday when he said "…in China, there will be no censorship of the internet" was that "in the China of 200 years from now, there might not be any censorship of the internet. There will still be censorship of CougZone, of course." Pardon our Belgian, we think that's what he said.




"Anyone that tells you they are here to see the distance is lying to you. They are here to see the crashes."

- Professional kayaker and Flugtag judge, Tao Berman, calling it like he sees it last week at Flugtag 2008 in Portland.








Since CougZone has been banned from the internet in China for saying TIBET multiple times over the past few months, we will talk about Canada first - then we will get around to that other thing in Beijing. Of course talking about Canada first is no problem when you are sitting around a pool-shaped pool, sipping bellinis and/or scrumpy, eh? In one hand, you can count the loonies and twonies [money in Canada is great - in addition to loonies and twonies, the $5 bill has hockey players on the back…like that would surprise anybody] you're saving by not coughing up a lung in Beijing. In the other hand, well, did the Lounge mention bellinis and scrumpy? Throw in numerous bocce ball settings [they use 'em for lawn bowling, but basically, same diff] and you have a heaping helping of fun. The Olympics are in Vancouver in 2010 - well, the winter version - so the weather will be cooler, probably much less than 10 degrees [that's Celsius] - and a section of Vancouver was recently stamped as the "sexiest place" in the country, although we are not certain of the criteria used to determine that notation.


Canada is sexy or, well, can be sexy, but that is not why it is cool. It is cool because of many things - the aforementioned money, scrumpy, bellinis, bocce, scooter travel and also because it is the home of both George Reed and Rueben Mayes. Plus, they have some nice loganberries, but you will need to fork over a handful of loonies for them.

Whilst the Lounge was in Canada, we completely missed out on the fun of Flugtag["flying day" in German - always helpful to brush up on your German], which made their second of three stops for the year in Portland earlier in the month. The Lounge was not in attendance but the Lounge clientele has reviewed the 31 contestants, some of which can be seen in this occasionally focus-challenged montage. Based on that footage as well as this additional footage of the Funky Four+One More[not to be confused with the Five Fingers of Funk], the clientele has awarded a triple-winner. The Big Wheel gets the vote for creativity and distance, the Pink Viking gets the vote for best routine and water entrance and the Funky Four+1 gets the nod for best funk.

We also missed the announcement that WSU has decided to dip their toes in the pool of the 21st century and allow hard liquor to be served in the fieldhouse before football games, at a couple campus joints and the new golf course - signaling their grudging acceptance to the end to prohibition 75 years later. We would raise a toast to this decision except that everybody had already grabbed a glass of vodka when they heard about the recruitment efforts of a Memphis alum to entice Tacoma men's hoop player Abdul Gaddy to come and play ball in Tennessee. Apparently the alum - who happened to be a corporate bigwig at FedEx - just happened to notice that Gaddy's mom was a FedEx employee. Well, isn't that a coincidence!? Then said bigwig - who, check his resume, must not have earned his common sense degree - decided it would be a good ideer to call up his "employee" and talk some hoop with her, landing his alma mater in some Big Brown, indeed [yes - an intentional sleight of hand]. Knock, knock - Will you sign for this shipment of brain cells, please?

Oh yeah, then there are the Olympics. They finally began - or at least what could be seen of them through the smoggy haze - maybe the Chinese government should have blocked the smog instead of the internet? There were the usual pre-Games statements - some people unfurled a banner mentioning the magic word of "Tibet" and were, of course, promptly arrested, a squashing of the freedom of expression that eventually became miniaturized when a nutball Chinese man killed the father-in-law of the American men's volleyball head coach at a tourist attraction. Here's the deal for everybody to remember - but especially the Chinese government: The Lounge watched the opening ceremonies as did surely nearly everybody else in the world last week. It is the best part of the Olympics - when the competition has not yet begun and everybody is happy to celebrate. We saw the 2008 drum solo, the cool blue+green light up suits, the Benin women's hats, Hungary's 80s-style paint-splotched outfits, the Chinese cheerleaders [who must have definitely been drinking green tea all day long prior to that gig], the silly USA berets and, of course, the memorable torch cauldron lighting. We saw all of that. So did everybody else. Everybody saw everything and at that moment, everybody felt really, really good about the world. So here is CougZone's Cougar Lounge official message to the Chinese government and any other governments that need to heed it - you know that good feeling you had when you were watching those opening ceremonies? Try to remember that the next time it comes to Tibet, the internet, revoking a former Olympic athlete's visa, human rights, Darfur, Iraq, whatever - you can fill in the blanks with the world issue you feel is most important. But when you do, just try to remember that image of Li Ning running around the lip of the stadium suspended what seems like 900 million feet up in the air. Think of that before you do anything.

Beijing is 15 hours ahead of us Americans here on the West Coast and if this was a normal Olympics that the television dunderheads at NBC were running - like the last one in Turin or the one before that in Athens or…well, you catch our drift - you can understand that our bar was set very low. Turin and Athens had virtually no live coverage nor internet presence and, in fact, the network took a overall combative stance toward both of those topics in those two Olympics. But so far, less than a week into the 2008 Olympics, we can report that we are pleasantly surprised with NBC's efforts to date. The television coverage, despite China's ridiculous restrictions, are mostly first-rate. Nearly all the live stuff happens in the wee hours of the morning and although most of the clientele are not badminton fans, we have to admit it is intriguing to see a sport that one is unfamiliar with and it is much better to see it live. Much better.

Something else that is much better for the early morning television is the limited interruptions of commercials in the live coverage - making it eons better than the primetime coverage. Another of the early morning bennies is the general lack of soap opera features - the coverage goes straight to the action, for the most part - perfect. NBC's 2008 Olympics site is also laudable, although it still has some room for improvement. The best parts, in our sizable book, is the update/schedule bar of events in progress or coming up on the schedule. The updates have been quick and that is helpful when television coverage sometimes is not available. Directly below that is the medal count table and it is updated reasonably quick and is fun to keep track. The drawback so far has been the video. Video downloading has been either slow or prone to too much hoop-jumping to get it going. If you have the video, put it up with one click and no embedded commercials, otherwise, don't bother, we have a television with a bigger screen that will do the trick.

"When do the Cougars get going in the Olympics?" asks Lounge newcomer Bill Pseudonym in a very calm tone of voice which does not give away his alias.

All five Cougar Olympians are track and field or swimming athletes [Bernard Lagat, Ian Waltz and Diana Pickler for USA in track and field, Arend Watkins for Canada in track and field and Rugile Mileisyte in swimming for Lithuania] and August 15 is the magical date when all the fun begins in Beijing for them. Lagat and Waltz will have the best chances to bring home a medal and both of them have good shots at that medal being gold. They will be seeking to continue the recent run of medals for Cougar athletes in the summer Olympics as baseball player Mike Kinkade got a gold medal in his stint with the USA baseball team in 2000 and Lagat took a silver in the 1500 meters in 2004. Overall, there have been nine Cougar medal-winners at the Olympics.


"What will the Cougars do in football?" asks Kent Renton, who is getting all Tukwila on us.

We have said this before and we will say it again - we don't know - we will find out at the end of September. But what we do know is that their chances may have taken somewhat of a hit with the recent announcement that sophomore sensation hurdler and receiver Jeshua Anderson has a hernia. Anderson had a phenomenal year on the track in the 400-meter hurdles, winning nearly everything in sight and, as a legitimate deep threat for the Wazzu football team, would have taken some of the pressure off senior receiving star Brandon Gibson. Anderson's status, at the moment, is officially up in the air for 2008 and that brings up several questions. First, what is the prognosis and will it affect his track career? Second, will he be redshirted for the season? Third and perhaps most importantly - does this force a life-changing decision? Anderson's primary talent is clearly in track and currently he is a few seconds away from the elite international level - a couple more of those seconds and he would have been in Beijing right now - but he also likes football, although it can make one prone to more serious injuries. The hernia may be an opportunity for reflection on which course he will ultimately take.

Because it is the Olympics and we want to show that even though Beijing will not allow CougZone to be available to the people of China because we are always mentioning Tibet, we will practice what we preach and honor of Li Ning, we present you with the official site of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The site is cleaner [read: not as cluttered, more and better spacing] than NBC's, they count medals differently [favoring the host country, naturally] and they have some of the same issues with video but they do have a "fun page" and way more representation of the official mascots than one can legitimately handle without some heavy caffeination.

Finally, the Lounge Scientists are always on the lookout for ground-breaking material and that is why they were stunned to learn of the world's oldest jokes being traced all the way back to nearly 5000 years ago. The entire Top 10 of the world's oldest jokes is on display at the University of Wolverhampton but the oldest British joke might be the best of the extremely elderly bunch.

"Jokes have varied over the years, with some taking the question-and-answer format while others are witty proverbs or riddles," says Lounge Scientist #12, Paul McDonald, a scientist at the University of Wolverhampton, who reportedly busted a gut and pulled a leg during his research.

Question: What hangs at a man's thigh and wants to poke the hole that it's often poked before? Answer: A key. Humor [or "humour" - with a "u"] courtesy of the 10th century.





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