Borderstan welcomes new contributor Dito Sevilla. You can often find him tending bar at –where else — Dito’s Bar om 17th Street NW where he dispenses witticisms and advice. A DC native, expert mixologist, amateur oenophile, and avid collector, he thrives on human interaction, exposing ironies in the human condition, and enjoying watching history repeat itself. When not found behind the bar, Dito enjoys discovering old neighborhoods that other people call new, and finding the needles in life’s haystacks. Email him at dito[AT]borderstan.com
Sometime last week, either late into the night or early in the morning, the long held dream of many – or most likely, relatively few — came true. Curiosity, a rather unimpressive looking doohickey, landed on Mars. And apparently, it was a big deal.
For those who may not be aware, Mars is far away — even further away from DC than Manassas or Culpepper. It’s what NASA calls “another planet” — as in a real other planet, not just “Texas.”
I know all of this because I saw it on television, and here is what I witnessed:
A rustic golf cart dropped onto Mars and vainly took pictures of itself and it’s tires. Then, it emailed these pictures back to Earth where a room full of nerds, one memorable for his cute (gay) haircut, all cheered, hugged and rubbed on each other as each grainy image downloaded onto the room’s screens.
This whole charade was aired live, while millions of Americans (myself included) were steered away from what really mattered: the Summer Olympics. You see, this whole alien landing episode interrupted the quadrennial Games — a gathering of the world’s hottest people specifically designed to showcase their rippling bodies and hours spent training, drilling and preparing to showcase their greatness. These men and women swim, dance, jump, box, dive, wrestle, vault, tumble, leap, hurdle, and in some cases, fall for the chance of earning a gold, silver or bronze necklace.
A dusty plopping down onto some far-off planet in the middle of the night holds no candle to the prime time, toe curling landing of gymnast, McKayla Maroney’s, vault. Yes, grainy black and white images of a left wheel sent millions of miles through space are nice, but do not impress me after perusing the uncut, high-resolution, full-color self-pictures of a half-naked Danell Leyva; images he, like the Mars Rover, sexted from his own phone. Unlike Curiosity, Danell lacks a spare tire, but compensates with unparalleled flexibility and grace.
When one thinks of mankind’s greatest achievements, space landings tend to be high on the list. They’re usually filed alongside the discovery of fire and the development of sliced bread. Of course, there are other inventions, too. Who could live without electricity, the telephone or computers? While those are nice (and have certainly stood the test of time) new greatness emerged from London every hour. Legends developed as Big Ben ticked away the minutes.
Legendary swimmer, Michael Phelps swam his way into the history books, and did it in a place where history was made. Not since Mrs. Wallace Simpson stole their king has a Baltimorean left England with more gold and silver. Opening the ceremonies, a Kingdom’s Queen invited the world’s most spectacular to experience their most spectacular. In competing for greatness in a place known for it, every athlete at this year’s games exchanged some of the best they had with a city that gave some of it’s own back.
If one day, mankind’s curiosity leads him to Uranus, I won’t be watching.
From Scott Leibowitz. Find Scott on Twitter @Lebodome. Email him at scott[AT]borderstan.com.
When is the last time you enjoyed Judo, para-sailing, and badminton? As it’s obviously not recently, we are all in luck as this Friday it is the start of the 2012 Olympics. It’s that time in the decade when these relatively less well known sports (some of them only played in high school gym class, i.e., handball) become interesting and people actually watch them.
For those of us feeling a little out of it due to the heat, the 2012 Summer Olympic games are beginning and thanks to great technology and NBC’s desire to cover it all, every single game/match/trial is available live from London either online or on the NBC family of networks.
The Best Part of the Olympics
What I always loved about the Olympics is that it seems to bring a lot of non-regular sports fans into the fold. The games are loaded with patriotism, rich stories of success and failure, and even a global orgy hangout. The Summer Olympics also tend to be a lot more popular as these sports are better known and don’t include some obscure skiing-rifle-shooting-hybrid. This is not to say the summer games don’t have their fair share of odd events, in the Equestrian category, for instance (if you ask me, the horses should be required to be from the country, just like the rider).
So, as you go through the next two weeks, glance at your newspaper and check the medal count, watch two people compete their hearts out for a 3rd place medal, or just guess the real age of the gymnasts.
What to Watch for at the Olympics
Here are some things to watch for, as well as some local ideas to enhance your Olympic experience.
Opening Ceremony: After China’s 2008 performance, the bar has been set pretty high. The show is directed by award winning director Danny Boyle and will include Sir Paul McCartney and, hopefully, a slew of awesome performers. It airs on NBC this Friday at 7 pm, but it will be a tape delay showing, so don’t check any social media, if you want to see/hear it fresh.
Are Phelps and Bolt still the best? Four years ago we watched a man-fish win 8 Gold Medals in swimming, and a speedster blow away the world records by not even trying that hard. Both U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps and Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt are back to retain their titles in respective fields. Both have looked a bit rusty and vulnerable. Track and swimming are always great at the Olympics, mainly because this is their biggest stage and these athletes want to show the world the best.
Pro Athletes Offseason: Soccer, basketball, tennis. These sports have fully functioning, popular, and well marketed professional leagues. All of them are taking time off and doing the world a favor by showing us their talent. Yes, it will be fun to see US basketball destroy the competition, but ultimately the Olympics is a 2nd-tier championship for these guys (World Cup > Olympic Gold). The part that I am looking forward to most is the tennis, as it’s being played at Wimbledon. But the all-white dress attire will not be in effect and that will give it a different feel.
Plenty of DC Bars to Enjoy the Olympics: NBC Washington did a list of Top 10 places to watch games at and some spots in our ‘hood made the list. Let me take this opportunity to double down on Buffalo Billiards, which made the list, as well as Nellie’s Sports Bar at 9th and U Streets NW. Think of all the screens and event-related ADD you could have. This is also a good opportunity to try some ethnic bars, root for a different nation, and maybe even learn some new anthems.
I am looking forward to a fun London-centric week with a healthy side of jokes made in my mediocre English accent. For a list of all the events, times, etc. check here. The Washington Post also has a great guide to the games. In general, wear some red/white/blue and enjoy the games!
Learn This Guy’s Name, NOW
ROBERT GRIFFEN III. This man is two months away from taking over the District.
Links! Links! Ice Cold Links!
- Google is about to change the world, again.
- Olympics and politics don’t mix.
- NASA is dying, slowly, and it hurts us all.