The Random Yak

Iron Chef Liveblogging: Batali vs. Blais

Filed under: Just Yaks,Liveblogging Yaks — Random Yak @ 9:14 pm on December 3, 2006

With fresh gingerbread straight from the oven, and a need for something to fill an evening, I bring you the newest (Cough) thing from our side of the mountain: Iron Chef Liveblogging!

For those not familiar with the Best Show on Television, refer to my post of the same name. This is Iron Chef America (rules and explanation at the link) - the Japanese version seems to have fallen off the Food Network schedule (bad move, guys) but this port will do in a culinary – and entertainment – storm.

Tonight’s Battle: Batali vs.Blais.

And the chairman announces the secret ingredient: Garbanzo Beans.

Garbanzo Beans?

Has the chairman lost his mind? Garbanzo beans aren’t food.

Oh dear, Batali just said “pasta.” Garbanzo bean pasta? Yikes. It’s gonna get gruesome below the fold. (more…)

Late-Night Torino Liveblogging (Speed Skating, )

Filed under: Just Yaks,Liveblogging Yaks — Random Yak @ 6:47 pm on February 22, 2006

Yes, yes, I know I’m late.

But after a day of work so hard it left me feeling like I’d run face-first into a brick wall, I can’t think of any way I’d rather end it (the day…the DAY) than liveblogging a little Olympic action. (Oh please, please…don’t let it be figure skating)


(21:57 PST) Women’s speed skating: USA’s Jennifer Rodriguez, up against Canadian Christine Nesbitt. (what are the odds the GoldenPalace guys are back in the stands? I’m watching…)

German Anni Friesinger and Canadian Cindy Klassen up next, both of whom seem well ahead of the leader’s time. Both Olympic medalists, both hoping for a medal, racing next-to-last in the competition. Klassen into first, looking very happy – or at least as happy as a person can be who can’t breathe for panting.

Ireen Wust, wunderkind of the Netherlands, up in the final pair. Looks like she’s racing Maki Tabata of Japan. Commentators barely mentioning Tabata’s name. Crowd is screaming for Wust. (Still no sign of the Golden Palace guys, but I’ll keep you posted.)

Cindy Klassen of Canada takes home the gold medal – and the Canadians also take the silver as teammate Kristina Groves offers up the second-best time of the night.

Women’s Slalom, run 2: Fog on the course. Ick. Nothing like skiing in near-whiteout conditions. That’s some of the worst fog I’ve ever seen in a sporting event. If those women can see two gates ahead of themselves, I’ll be amazed.

(Commercial break – looks like figure skating continues tomorrow. Rockin. Tomorrow night, I won’t be liveblogging. I’ll be at AnQiraj. That’s phonetic, but only 3% of you – the online gamers – know what I’m talking about anyway – and the ones who do now wonder what class I play.).

Back to skiing. Wow, that fog is thick. You can’t even see the spectators from the camera locations most of the time. Anja Paerson of Sweden wins the gold – and belly-flops and slides in the snow. Now, that’s cool. She’s happy, no doubt.

(22:35 PST) Men’s Speed Skating: (short track – 500 meters): Commentators profiling Apolo Ono, saying he looks much more relaxed than he did in 2002. Have to agree there. I actually almost like him this year. He certainly seems to have more joy in what he’s doing and less attitude. One might say…four years can do that.

Korean Ahn Hyun-Soo shooting for another gold medal tonight. The Korean team seems almost unbeatable, and Ahn looks to be by far the strongest of the group, winning his heat easily. He doesn’t even seem to be breathing hard.

(Momentary note: when did I become a sportscaster?? Remind me to verbally abuse myself thoroughly when this is all said and done.)

Lee Ho-Suk, Ahn’s teammate, comes to the line for his shot at qualifying for the 500 meter final. He’s fourth off the start, despite the commentators’ absolute certainty that he should run away with the race. He may manage the pass and qualify – in fact, he does – and now the commentators are saying how amazing he is, to come back from behind and actually win. (Instant replay, please? Playback? I think the NBC broadcast crew has short-term memory issues).

Apolo Ono moves up, "easily qualifying" according to commentators though he wasn’t in qualifying position through the whole race. His comment afterward? "I was having fun. I felt like a kid again." (Funny…he still LOOKS like a kid now…)

Women’s 3000m Relay, "B" bracket final: I don’t think I understand this race. 27 laps on the short track? Ouch. The U.S. and France just lapped the Japanese. U.S. team wins, edging out the French. Four teams to a final, which means the U.S. will finish no lower than fifth place overall. I’m guessing time may factor in somehow, though I’m not altogether sure.

One of the benefits of liveblogging is learning much, much more about sports I previously paid little or no attention. Not that I can claim to be a better person for it – On the contrary, I’m markedly more a wellspring of useless information than I was before I started this crazy undertaking – but I can at least claim I enjoyed it.

Women’s 5000m "A" bracket Final: Four skaters to a relay team, contact between them (they’re allowed to push one another) indicates the exchange.

Bumping in the turns…commentators excited, ready to pounce on the fall…but no fall. Commentators are disappointed. I’m laughing.

Again a two-team race, this time China and Korea, both absolutely giving it all they have. Oops, here come the Canadians, apparently determined to take second. Korea, Canada, China in that order, making this the fourth consecutive short-track relay medal for the Korean women’s team.

Or maybe we all spoke too soon. A bad attempted pass has just resulted in the disqualification of the Chinese, meaning that the Italian women will take the bronze medal behind the Koreans (gold) and Canadians (silver). Loud cheering in the stadium for that one.

Women’s Aerials: Freestyle skiing final, second jumps. Nice.

Five stories high, three back flips, three full twists, and Evelyne Leu of Switzerland proves once again (notice a pattern) that some human beings can, in fact, fly. That’s some victory dance at the bottom of the hill, too.

Australian Alisa Camplin up next. Commentators mentioning that the difficulty of her jump isn’t high enough to put her in contention for the gold medal. Apparently she hasn’t yet reached the level of Leu and the Chinese, but she’s shooting for silver and executing nicely at that. Apparently she bought her ski boots on eBay two months ago because the style she likes isn’t manufactured anymore. Heh. (whatever ‘it’ is…)

Xu NanNan of China, apparently a former gymnast (good training for aerials, actually) finishes in the bronze position, but two of the best jumpers have yet to compete. Her score means Leu is guaranteed a medal (and she knows it…see her grin).

Li NiNa of China, also comes in slightly low (scores, people, scores), meaning that Leu is now assured of silver, with one jumper left – and China’s Guo XinXin, the last jumper who has a chance of defeating Leu, takes off, heads into three flips, three twists – and lands with a near-unbelievable yard sale that guarantees Leu the gold.

Replay – and that really is a face plant. She’s sliding down the hill face first after lcoming down on her skis, but with weight too far forward to hold the landing.

Camera shot of Guo XinXin, grinning ear to ear with ice sliding off her face and shoulders as she waves at the camera. She’s enjoying the ride, whether she medals or not.

Australian Alisa Camplin is 20 days from knee surgery. Did she say 20 days?? Unreal. I couldn’t land a jump like that on two good knees (or four, for that matter). She’ll go home with a bronze medal – and a big smile too.

Torino 2006: Olympic Liveblogging (Skiing, Men’s Aerials, Ice Skating)

Filed under: Just Yaks,Liveblogging Yaks — Random Yak @ 5:41 pm on February 20, 2006

Welcome back to liveblogging (timeshifted for U.S. television) coverage of the Winter Olympics in Torino.

Coming in a little late this evening, but we’ll make up for that below the fold:

Women’s Super-G: Turned on the TV for what may well have been the best moment of the night: Austrian skier Michaela Dorfmeister sweeping down the slope to capture a gold medal in the women’s Super-G – and not realizing she’d placed in medal position. A wave to the crowd, and Dorfmeister headed out into the post-race area, beginning to remove her skis without any visible reaction to her medal-winning time. Croatian skier Janica Kostelic (who took the silver medal) ran out to Dorfmeister, hugging the winner and pointing to the leader board as a visibly startled Dorfmeister exclaimed, "I won??" Beautiful moment.

Men’s Giant Slalom: Hermann Maier taking another shot at a medal, taking the lead by 1.39 seconds after his first run. Benjamin Raich comes down right behind Maier – into second place. He doesn’t look all that happy with the result, but he’s got another shot at it.

Commentators are back to talking about Bode Miller. Apparently I’m the only one who’s tired of hearing them yap about the American Golden-Boy-Who-Isn’t. Miller’s performance at this Olympics has been nothing short of disappointing. I’d think the commentators would have gotten over him by now. Yes, cover him when it’s his turn, but let’s abandon the pretense that we need to evaluate all other skiers in relationship to Miller, please. It’s getting tiresome.

Ouch, US skier Darren Rahlves is out in the first run. That makes two disqualifications in the Men’s Giant Slalom, with both Rahlves and gold medalist Ted Ligety out of the running before the end of the first runs.

Ice Dancing: Free Dance: Oh , you knew it was coming. NBC’s just served up the barrel, let me grab my shotgun…and here come the fish. They’re allowing lyrics in the music now? Have they always allowed this in Ice Dancing?

Team1: French skaters Pechalat and Bourzat, skating to the French-language version of Les Miserables. With Lyrics. (There’s a surprise) That’s "At the End of the Day." I’m translating…and I don’t even speak French. Still, it’s more interesting than the Ice Dancing.

Wait a minute, here. Isn’t this supposed to be different than pairs figures? (It is…it’s more boring). Looks like pairs figures without the jumps and throws. In other words, figure skating light.

Well, they didn’t fall over, and at least the music was interesting. That, and they had a couple of nice "wow, if you drop her that’s going to hurt" moments. The commentators are talking about "interpretation of the music" and the "romantic relationship" between the skaters. I think they’re making things up to fill time…

Team 2: Silverstein and O’Meara of the United States. Can I get the Les Mis dancers back please? This couple seems dedicated to proving Ice Dancing is the cure for insomnia, and they’ve got the music to match.

Commentators are discussing the woman’s eating disorder. Apparently a class in Buddhist thought made her realize how important skating was to her (curious, most Buddhists try to stop caring about material things). Buddhism and eating disorders – obviously they don’t have much to say about her actual skating. (Then again, I don’t either).

Team 3: and the commentators are at it again. The latest gem? "They’re skating to Romeo and Juliet – only let’s hope theirs has a happy ending." Put down the snark, lady, it’s dangerous in untrained hands.

I’ve never watched this much Ice Dancing in my life (collectively, all my previous ice dancing watching doesn’t add up to the amount I’ve watched in the past 24 hours). I wish I could tell you I’d changed my mind, that I’m enjoying it more than I thought I would. But even the commentators are saying "it’s early in the evening, the scores don’t mean that much" – (if they don’t mean that much, why are you televising it? Let’s go watch something interesting, like ski jumping or paint drying).

Men’s Giant Slalom: Wow, apparently my wish is their command. Bode Miller is currently in first place. I’m not sure whether to be glad or surprised. Glad, I think. I may be snarky at times, but I’d rather see all the athletes perform their best.

Svindal crosses the line – and it’s a tie of Bode Miller’s time! That’s rare, especially given the degree of accuracy in Olympic race timing. Bode Miller shakes his head – frustrated or disappointed? Hard to tell.

Hermann Maier takes his second run – into second place. Is it good enough to hold on and put Maier on the medal platform? Only time will tell, but I hope so. Miller and Svindal will now have to settle for bronze, if anything, as an intervening racer has taken over the gold medal position.

Perhaps I’m a little too easily distracted this evening. I got started blog surfing during the commercial break (no, livebogging does NOT require me to watch the Lexus commercial for the fifteen millionth time) and didn’t quite make it back.

Benjamin Raich brings down the best time of the day, moving into first place and taking the gold medal. Joel Chenal of France takes the silver, and Hermann Maier wins the bronze. I’m glad to see him on the platform. 0.16 second separates gold from bronze – highlighting just how amazing the fourth place tie between Miller and Svindal really is.

Men’s Aerials: Ouch. They’re landing on a 37-degree slope. Once again proving some people actually can fly.

Ryan St.Onge of the United States offers a quad twisting triple – that’s 4 twists and three rotations. Small sit-down on the landing, and it wasn’t enough to move him on to the finals.

View from the top of the hill: impressive and intimidating. Steep slope down to the takeoff slope, with the landing area completely obscured. All the skiers see beyond the takeoff point is a large viewing stand packed with fans and flags.

Only one American skier qualified for the finals. Neither the 1998 or 2002 gold medalists qualified for the final jumps. The American skier claims he will be attempting "The Hurricane" – a jump commentators are calling "the jump rated highest, in terms of degree of difficulty, in men’s aerial skiing." Let’s just hope it’s televised at a time I can see it.

Ice Dancing: Commentators are talking to the ice dancer whose partner lost hold of her last night, sending her crashing to the ice (and then off to the hospital). Apparently there’s nothing broken, and she wanted to skate again tonight, though she missed practice this morning. I don’t understand exactly whether she’ll skate or not – the commentators seem to have said she will and she won’t.

The Italian Ice Dancers also had a dramatic fall last night – and tonight they’re not even speaking to one another. A mistake at the end of the program, and now the camera crews are showing them walking directly past one another without even acknowledging one another’s existence. Warming up on the ice, they’re barely making eye contact. Oh, that’s going to go over well with the judges. (how many prima donnas does it take to lose a gold medal?)

Russian Team on the ice: more boring music. Making me sorry I made fun of the Les Miserables dancers. Commentators are reminding us they have to work in the technical requirements. As though we could have forgotten. They don’t mention exactly what the requirements are (no, that would be "helpful") but they make sure we know the pairs are including them. One seems to be something called a "twizzle." Funny, I thought that was a kind of candy. Something like red licorice. (I like red licorice. Wish I had some now…).

Someone else on the ice (sorry, I wasn’t paying attention). Skating to Phantom of the Opera. I just noticed that one of the Conservababes (the Sage) likes Ice Dancing. I feel better now. If someone else likes it, I don’t have to. I’m doing my best to appreciate it, if only for the sake of the liveblog, but I’m afraid I’m best characterized as a fan of the "train wreck" approach to figure skating – I like it best when something goes dramatically, impressively right – or dramatically, impressively wrong. Update: the team in question was Lithuania’s Drobiazko and Vanagas.

Commercial Break: commentators saying tomorrow night brings coverage of the Women’s figure skating competition. Tomorrow night will not bring liveblogging coverage here at the Yak, though you can expect liveblogging to pick up again Wednesday.

Look, the Italians (Fusar-Poli and Margaglio) are on the ice! I thought the temperature dropped a few degrees all of a sudden. Dancing to "Deliver Us" from – unless I’m very much mistaken – the cartoon movie about the story of Moses and the Exodus. Can’t remember the title at the moment, but Yak the Younger loved it and we have a copy in the other room. Strange – those costumes look a lot more Roman than Hebrew. Nice lift there at the end – wonder if that was a promise or a threat she mouthed at him right before he picked her up? The Prince of Egypt - I knew I had the music right. And it looks like the Italian ice war is over, too.

Israeli skaters now, skating to Bolero. Sad. Torvill and Dean did Bolero back in 1984, ending up with perfect scores across the board for artistry (back under the all-judges-count, 6.0-is-perfect system) and no one has been able to touch the performance since. Even I remember the Torvill and Dean performance – it’s the one and only ice dancing performance I do remember. Now the commentators are saying the music choice is a poor one, given that no one has been able to touch the ice-dancing-defining Bolero from ’84. Retire it, folks. Trying to re-do what’s already been done isn’t the way to success. In any area.

Break for warmups and the last group is on the ice. I didn’t intend to liveblog this long this evening – I’d anticipated only an hour – but somehow I feel obligated to see the silliness to its conclusion.

Grushina and Goncharov from the Ukraine have perhaps the most…er…interesting costumes of the night. The woman has fringes hanging from her…er…on second thought let’s just say I don’t think "exotic dancer" was the look she was going for, but she looks like an escapee from a certain club down by Los Angeles International Airport….(statistically, 11% of you know exactly the one I’m talking about, though none of us has ever been inside it, and the other 89% don’t need to recognize it to know what I’m getting at here).

Russians Navka and Kostomarov look the part for Bolero but have the sense not to use it. He looks like a matador, which I guess makes her the cape. (red dress, black fringe..yep, she’s the cape all right.) Traditional tango. Nothing exciting, but at least it’s not somnolent like so many others. They look happy with that performance. Audience seems to like it too. The commentators are snarking, though – calling it "a combination of steps and elements" rather than a passionate routine. Again (as usual?) I’m calling hooey on that one. A program is defined as a combination of steps and elements, and the ones they’ve called "passionate" have all threatened to cure my insomnia once and for all. That, or thrown themselves to the ice in a bad imitation of the train wreck I’ve been waiting to see. Would someone please mute the commentators?

Uh-oh. The Bulgarian team has taken the ice, and the woman’s costume looks very, very similar to the one worn by the immediately preceding woman. Is it declasse to wear the same thing in competition, or does that rule only extend to formal parties? This pair made some interesting choices when it comes to choreography. Looks a little too much like modern dance for me. Tango, anyone? Could we at least take the tempo over 35 beats per minute? (When did "dirge" become one of the compulsory interpretations?) Commentators calling this "one of their most aggressive performances. Yikes. How many points do you get for putting the judges to sleep?

Americans Belbin and Agosto take the ice, hoping to add to the brilliant collection of U.S. Ice Dancing medals (that would be one, a bronze, earned over 20 years ago, for those who didn’t catch the irony on the first pass). Flamenco. At least they’re dressed for it.

…Must have dozed off for a moment. They’re off the ice, but the commentators are still talking, so I must not have slept long. Scores place the Americans in second place, guaranteeing them a medal – and doubling the all-time U.S. medal count in ice dancing. Nice.

And it looks like the medal will be silver. Russia wins gold, United States manages the silver, the skaters from the Ukraine take home bronze and the rest of us can finally surrender to sleep.

Check back tomorrow, for more Yak coverage of the 2006 Winter Games in Torino.

Olympic Liveblogging: Night 5: Freestyle Skiing,

Filed under: Just Yaks,Liveblogging Yaks — Random Yak @ 5:04 pm on February 15, 2006

Welcome back to the Live Yak coverage of the 2006 Winter Games in Torino Italy. Yes, we know it’s not really live, but it’s on the TV now, so it’s live to me (besides, digital cable bigscreen = good as live anyway).

No clue whether you’re in for R.Yak alone or whether some Random Maniyak will chime in before the evening is over, but one thing’s for certain…we’ll find out together below the fold.

Men’s Pursuit (long track speed skating: qualifying round): Chad Hedrick and the other members of Team USA’s pursuit team look good out of the box. Six laps to go, and it’s a distinct possibility that Hedrick will lead up to half the time. All three members of Team USA came to speed skating from inline skating, which may prove a benefit given their comfort skating in a tight pack.

Or not. The third skater in the U.S. team fell behind, and Team Italy advances, terminating both the United States’ chances to medal in the team pursuit and Chad Hedrick’s opportunity to take home five medals from the Torino games. Congratulations, Italy – we wish you all the best in tomorrow night’s final.

Short Track Speedskating: That’s going to leave a mark: U.S. speedskater Alison Baver advances despite being taken down by a pileup started by a Korean skater. Keeping her head even after it smashed into the pads at the side of the rink, she got back on her feet and into position, advancing despite a sudden and unexpected wipeout. Katerina Novatna of the Czech Republic leaps to the lead in the second heat, an unexpected (but exciting) move that places the Czech darkhorse in the semifinals. Very, very nice.

From Ghoulies and Ghosties and Long-Legged Beasties and ice-skating commentators who love one another a little too much, may the Good Lord protect us.

Back to speedskating: Alison Baver fails to qualify for the finals when hesitation prevents her from making a vital pass. Could her earlier fall have impacted her courage at the critical moment? I’m guessing so, though there’s really no way to tell.

(21:15 PST) Women?s Downhill: American Lindsay Kildow returns to the slopes following a crash in practice that left her hospitalized ? but fortunately not seriously injured. The French champion also crashed in training. She, too will compete, despite a bruised face and other minor injuries. Four training crashes in all, most of which looked serious enough to put the competitors out of the Torino Games altogether (ooo ? NBC has the replay and that had to hurt).

(21:25) Flat light ? no sun. Not the easiest of conditions for a downhill race on this kind of a course, but everyone seems to be doing well. Dorfmeister ? obviously thrilled ? just vaulted into the lead by more than a second. Nice to see, considering she?s announced her retirement at the end of the year. It would be nice to see her go out with the gold.

(21:43) Mancuso of the United States seems to be having some trouble keeping up with the record pace. Commentators are blaming boot trouble earlier in the season (yeah, I?m sure that?s what she?s thinking about today). No wonder the Random Maniyak watches sports without sound.

(20:53) Kildow is on the course. Commentators discussing her fall and the potential extent of her injuries. A little over half a second behind Dorfmeister?s time at the midway point, and the course gets flat below. She finishes in eighth place, not in medal contention but definitely not bad for someone who spent last night in the hospital.

Austria’s Michaela Dorfmeister is crying as the news sinks in – only one skier left to compete means she’s going home with at least a silver medal. Update: make that a gold, and Dorfmeister finally wins the elusive gold medal she’s always wanted (Note: for those who don’t remember, Dorfmeister lost to Picabo Street in Nagano by 1/100 of a second), in what will apparently be one of the last races of her career. Congratulations to both Dorfmeister and Austria for a race well won!

Short Track Speedskating: Men?s 1000 meter semifinals: top two racers advance, along with the two fastest third-place finishers, so nobody?s definitively ?out? after only one race. Considering the men seem to be racing in groups of three, this has a ?no child left behind? ring to it, though obviously someone?s not going to make the cut. Heat 1 brings both Korean skater Ahn and American Rusty Smith into Saturday?s final. Heat 2 offers a little excitement as Korean skater Lee Ho-Suk performs a quick outside pass, moving from third to first in a successful bid for a position in the finals. Commentators seem more concerned with the condition of the ice than conditions on the track. That, and discussion of Apolo Anton Ono?s upcoming heat.

Commentators claiming Ono looks “completely comfortable on the ice.” (Sorry, I’m calling hooey on that one. I’ve never seen anyone look so relieved to make the finals.) And it gets better! “Sunday, he didn’t look like he was completely in control of his skates” (What was your first clue, genius? The fact that skaters normally don’t hit the wall?)

Men?s Freestyle Finals: Bilodeaux of Canada proves three things: (1) human beings apparently can fly. (2) well. (3) it?s landings they have difficulty with. Disappointing score, considering those were the best aerial maneuvers I?ve seen in freestyle skiing all day.

Disappointment: Janne Lahtula of Finland, the defending gold medalist, fails to quite stick the landing off his second aerial (read: came as close as you can come to eating snow) and ends up well down the pack. No repeat medals for him here in Torino.

Toby Dawson offers a huge run that puts him into second place. (ok, I actually missed seeing it ? the Random Spouse stopped in to chat). Looks like the silver won’t hold, but it will hold at bronze – congratulations Toby Dawson! (and the gold and silver medalists too. I’m afraid I got temporarily distracted – burning clothing will do that, especially when it’s your own).

I’m betting there will be no commentary by the Random Maniyak this evening. It’s getting late.

Speed Skating Returns: Men?s 5,000 meter relay. 45 laps (give or take), with the U.S. Men?s team featuring both Apolo Ono and Rusty Smith. Why don?t the commentators tell us more about the other teams? I like hearing about the local favorites, but it skews the liveblogging something awful. U.S. is third behind China and Italy, with Japan in fourth place. Commentators don?t seem surprised.

Wipeout! Japan goes down hard, apparently taking the Italians with them. The U.S. and China are now half a lap ahead, a significant margin halfway through the race.

Team USA take first place, advancing into the finals over the Chinese, Italian and Japanese teams. Team Japan may end up DQd over the massive wipeout. Yep – Italy advances over the Japanese pileup. Nice. I hate seeing teams put out of the action through no fault of their own.

And on that positive note, I’ll call it a night. Congratulations to the winners, the losers and everyone else who spent the evening reminding us that under the right circumstances, people really can fly.

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Liveblogging: Torino 2006 (Night 2, Part 2) Speedskating, Ski Jumping

Filed under: Just Yaks,Liveblogging Yaks — Random Yak @ 7:04 pm on February 12, 2006

We’re back. Dividing the liveblogging into two parts keeps the commentary shorter and under control (at least, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it). Part 1 is below. Part 2 is below the fold:

Short Track Speedskating: Semifinals of the men?s 1500m. First two men into the finals: Korean skater Ahn and Chinese skater Li, surprising no one as they skate to what appeared an easy victory in the semifinals. I?m still waiting for someone else to fall. It?s not that I don?t appreciate the sport ? it?s just that some lend themselves more easily to the train wreck mentality (that, and I bore easily).

Breaking News: Apolo Anton Ono tries to pass into first place (a pass he didn?t have to make in order to make the finals) and slips, clipping the Chinese skater?s skate with his left hand, then hitting the marking block and falling out of the race and out of the medal competition. He looks disappointed (there?s a shock). He?s examining his hand ? I wonder whether he cut it on the other competitor?s skate. Officials are watching the replay, but Ono doesn?t seem concerned. He knows he?s out of this one. Yep – official stats place Ono in fourth place, out of the medal heat.

Men?s Halfpipe Final: Commentators say Shaun White ?barely made the finals? ? curiously, he delivered the highest scoring run, so despite problems early in the competition I think his performance hardly qualifies as ?barely managing.?

Looks like there won?t be a medal for Markus Keller of Switzerland ? I?m no snowboarder, but I do know your bottom isn?t supposed to hit the ground in competition. (The Random Sibling snowboards, and I do pay attention from time to time).

The 1080 seems to be the move to complete to stay in the medal running. This move looks nearly impossible to at least this observer ? the boarders make it look easy, but there?s no denying the fact that these guys are completing multiple revolutions in the air and managing to land on their feet (sort of).

Gary Zebrowski, a French snowboarder of Tahitian descent (he was adopted by French parents and moved to France as a child). I like his style. He?s clearly delighted to land a beautiful frontside 1080 at the bottom of the run. Silver medal position for now, but he probably doesn?t stand a chance against the snowboarding juggernaut which is Team USA. Too bad. I would have liked seeing him medal.

Finland’s Risto Mattila follows White onto the pipe. He?s also putting up big technical moves, but he sits down on the heel edge in his last move. His performance demonstrates another difference between Shaun White and the other riders: White?s moves appear to be executed almost in slow motion ? not only huge moves, but near-complete control, even in the air.

Andy Finch wipes out ? OUCH. Down on his hip, colliding with the top edge of the halfpipe as he comes out of a 1080 that didn?t clear out as it should. That?s a bruise, for sure ? but he seems ok and he does, at least, have the second run to try and put himself back into contention.

Mason Aguirre ? youngest member of Team USA snowboarding. Back to back 1080s, big air, good control. These guys are easily 15-20 feet above the edge of the halfpipe. Impressive. I repeat my thought from yesterday: when did children start coming with wings??

Antti Autti scrubs on his last move. Disappointing for the only boarder in the competition to ever beat Shaun White ? particularly considering the quality of the run up to the moment his rear end hit the ground.

Must be time for the wipeouts. American Danny Kass eats snow at the bottom of the halfpipe, coming out (way out) of back to back 1080s flat - first on his board and then on his rear end. Ouch. He?ll be depending on the second run to put him back in the competition.

Speedskating Finals: Looks like a race between Korea and China. The Koreans are making a unified move, with China’s Li JiaJun winning his fifth Olympic Medal, this one a bronze (or honey-nut, depending how you look at it). Korea may have failed to medal in Salt Lake, but they?ll go gold-silver in Torino.

Men?s halfpipe final ? second runs. Danny Kass redeems himself with a beautiful, clean performance this time down the pipe. He?s happy with that one ? and he should be, because it?s moved him into silver medal position. The riders keep the best of their two scores, so everyone?s chasing Shaun White?s big numbers from run #1.

Antti Autti manages a clean run this time, with some very technical moves, though he?s boarding early in the second set and a lot can happen between his scores and the medal platform. The judges score him 39.1 and the crowd is actually booing the numbers. Loudly. They?re not happy with that and neither is Autti. His run looked slow, but he definitely expected higher numbers.

Shaun White pulls a beautiful "victory ride" after whooping it up excitedly at the top of the mountain upon realizing his first run will in fact win him a repeat gold medal. At the bottom of the mountain, White is visibly shaken, literally crying with joy. A fitting place to leave this evening’s live coverage of the Torino games.

Torino 2006 Liveblogging: Speed Skating and Figure Skating…

Filed under: Just Yaks,Liveblogging Yaks — Random Yak @ 8:05 pm on February 11, 2006

Aww, no medal ceremony tonight. Oh well, have to wait until tomorrow to see Hedrick get his medal.

Back to – figure skating? Yikes. (imminent snark warning…click below if you dare).

R.Yak: Russian pairs skaters. (Watching them makes me wonder?blog traffic is way up already. How many of you are depending on us to watch these events for you and how many are watching first and tuning in to see whether we caught the same things you did)

Standings at this point in the short program: Russia, China, Russia, China. Interesting symmetry.

The Germans, Savchenko and Szolkowy, have taken the ice. Interesting costumes ? think ?jogging suit meets bondage, with just enough sparkle to remind us they?re skaters.? It?s a choice (not a good one). They?re doing ?mirror skating? ? opposite moves, on opposite sides of the ice (like skating in front of a mirror ? hence the name). For once the commentators are right: it is a nice change.

RMyak: It’s 11 o’clock. Do you know where RMyak’s brain has gone? What was that television zombie effect the Japanese children experienced a few years ago, from cartoons. Maybe figure skating fries your brain too. Unless of course you’re female.

11:25 p.m., ‘Bout finished here. The midnight broadcast is a repeat, right? Anything more heard about the penguin-looking interloper on the luge course?

Going out on a fortune cookie actuality. Weak. But that’s all for this telecast and blogcast. Thanks for the time. RMyak.

Liveblogging Schedule: Torino 2006 Winter Games

Filed under: Just Yaks,Liveblogging Yaks — Random Yak @ 10:28 am on

To respond to queries: yes, at least one yak will continue (time-shifted) liveblogging of the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino.

Look for liveblogging coverage starting at 20:00 PST (that’s 8 pm Pacific, United States, for those of you not on military time or familiar with the time zones) tomorrow night, with anticipated liveblogging coverage for at least an hour Tuesday and Wednesday evenings as well.

Torino 2006: Liveblogging the Opening Ceremonies 23:00-23:59

Filed under: Just Yaks,Liveblogging Yaks — Random Yak @ 8:02 pm on February 10, 2006

Yak the Younger doesn’t like the naked dancer with the mohawk. Actually, he has a body suit on, but I get the point. I don’t like him either. Where’s that fire they were talking about…

Here’s to hoping something gets set on fire below the fold.

(23:07) Racecars and fireworks. Finally, the ceremonies pick up. Protocol continues. Long speeches in Italian. Appropriate since they are in Italy, but slightly irritating to Yak the Younger, whose tolerance is lower than mine, particularly when he?s up way past his bedtime. Here we go ? English translation, and the child is mollified.

And there?s the declaration that the games are officially open!

Commercial: the first ad I?ve seen for The DaVinci Code. Tom Hanks. Interesting casting choice. Figures they?d run it during the Olympics. Not yet rated, eh? Looks like they?re trying to bring it in at PG-13, but haven?t quite managed to cut enough yet.

(23:15) Presentation of the Olympic flag. Sophia Loren leading the bearers, with Susan Sarandon carrying the back end of the flag. Definitely an apolitical event. Yep. Carriers are all women, one representing each continent. I?m happier to see Somali Mam, the Cambodian activist who works to prevent the abuse of women in her homeland. Apparently not every continent opted to send actors. In fact, looks like most of them went with athletes or other people of consequence. We got Susan Sarandon? I?m feeling repressed again?

(23:20) I?m getting tired, too. If they?d already lit the torch, I?d probably be out of here, but I promised to see this insanity through, and based on the sitemeter stats some of you are still in this with me. (Hello, Burnaby, B.C. Hello Orangevale and San Francisco, California. Go to bed Brookfield, Wisconsin, it?s late there.)

I thought Yak the Younger might want to go to bed, but he tells me he?s waiting until they set something on fire (thereby eliminating all doubt. He is, in fact, my child.). Clarification: he is waiting for the torch. Aren?t we all, at this point.

Parade of the flags. Nice, but a little sedate for this hour of the night. Accompanied by an anthem composed for the Torino games. Also a little sedate for this hour of the night. It appears to be snowing in Torino. That?s nice, but I bet it?s cold, standing out there on the ice-covered stadium floor.

(23:27) The Athletes? Oath. Taken for the group by an Italian skier. ?For the glory of the sport, and the honor of our countries.?

Oh, not again. Modern dancers/acrobats climbing on a screen. They?re supposedly forming a dove (the international symbol of peace) but I?m not seeing it yet. (I do, however, seem to see the international symbol for ?time sink? ? statistically, 13% of you will get that, all gamers). Have to admit, if I wasn?t waiting for someone to light a great big fire, this might be kind of nice. (Looking back, I?m seeing a pattern in tonight?s entries. I?m not really a pyromaniac?though I seem to play one while watching TV?)

(23:30) The dove is cool. Took them a little long to get there, but I have to admit it works.

Yoko Ono?? And I thought the musical selections for the night couldn?t get any stranger. Or any worse. (That?s what I get for forgetting the cardinal rule: never say things can?t get any worse). At least she?s not singing. She?s reading a poem. Yak the Younger?s comment: ?It wasn?t that long. She couldn?t memorize it?? Have to agree with him there.

Peter Gabriel singing ?Imagine.? I won?t complain. They could have had Yoko Ono sing it. I bet her voice could shatter my TV screen all the way from Torino. Wow. When did Peter Gabriel get old? Little lights all over the stadium. Looks like flashlights, not lighters. Yep. Bet they were provided under the seats like they?ve done at other Opening Ceremonies. Nice camera shot of U.S. athletes singing along. Yak the Younger has decided he doesn?t like this song. I don?t really like it either, but I think most people do, and I guess it does fit the theme.

I’m betting the Maniyak has given up the ghost. Too bad, but he can read all about it in the morning.

Here comes the torch. Alberto Tomba brings it into the Stadium. Looks like he won’t be lighting the flame after all. A bunch of people will lose the pool on that one.

(23:40) Tomba hands off to a quartet ? the cross-country relay team from 1994 which won the relay by less than half a second. Commentators promise to show the films a week from tomorrow during coverage of the cross-country relay event here in Torino.

Oops, missed the next carrier because I was blogging. Can?t multitask well when tired.

The next carrier is an alpine skier, the only one to win a medal in three different winter games.

And now, the most decorated winter Olympic skier of all time. She will light the torch ? which at the moment appears to be a miniature version of the St. Louis arch.

We have FIRE! THAT was cool. Fireworks all over the stadium, around the floor, over the walls and up to the torch stand. Well worth the wait. Yak the Younger loves it. The cat woke up and complained about his exuberance.

Figures. The commentators are saying ?when we come back the ceremony concludes with a final surprise.? Guess we?ll be staying around just a little longer.

Looks like Women’s Hockey starts tomorrow, along with Nordic Combined and men’s Luge. Probably a good day of coverage, though I’ll be spending most of it at the office. But never fear – the yaks will have all the coverage tomorrow night (most likely including more than a few snarks as the commentators thoroughly mangle all non-Anglicized names).

(23:46) The surprise isn’t. Pavarotti singing a selection from Puccini. They kept us up for Opera. Well, since I can’t speak Italian and I’m here anyway, here’s my (admittedly very loose) translation:

"Oh, why did you make me wait so long, until the people have stopped listening? Everyone has gone to bed, tired beyond measure. The ones still here have started slowly listing, sleeping through this singing treasure. Opera and Olympics do not mix, these youths are here for sporting kicks. So now I end my mournful song – because no one will sing along."

Or something like that.

Fireworks. Yak the Younger is happy again. He’s up too late, but he can nap tomorrow. Nice fireworks. I like the spiral around the stadium. Pyrotechnics for the win.

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Torino 2006: Liveblogging the Opening Ceremonies 22:00-23:00 PST

Filed under: Just Yaks,Liveblogging Yaks — Random Yak @ 7:00 pm on

Continuing the parade of nations and the rest of the Opening Ceremony liveblogging action below the fold:R.M. Yak: Look, Korea! See, East Germany and West Germany are marching together too.

Hey, how come Hong Kong marches separately from the PRC? Idea for Korea: united but separate. Might work.

(23:00) R.Yak: France: Commentators are claiming the British ?stole? the honor of hosting the Olympic games from the French. Good Grief.

Georgia: Not the state, the country. Check a map, people. Uh-oh ? they?re wearing the same costumes as Chile. That?s going to leave a mark.

Germany: Top medal winners in Salt Lake, with 36 medals overall. Doesn?t look like they?ll be winning any costume design medals tonight, though ? white, orange and (gak) baby puke green. Someone apparently has the nickname ?The Speeding White Sausage? ? there?s one not likely to cause envy.

Japan: (Giappone in Italian). Apparently their best figure skater is only 15. She missed the cutoff age by less than three months, and therefore cannot compete in the games.

Great Britain: (Let?s hear it for the Unhinged Kingdom!) Cut to First Lady Laura Bush in the stands, cheering for the British team. Nice to see she?s there. (Women in white, men in black ? like a UK Version of ?Spy vs. Spy, the Olympic Edition?)

Hong Kong, China: YtY is asking, ?wait a minute ? there?s a difference?? (Depends who you ask, son, depends who you ask?)

(23:10) R.Yak: India: Commentator: ?over a billion people, but only four of them are part of the winter Olympic team.? (10:20) R.Yak: Madagascar: One athlete, and the first country for which Yak the Younger has actually applauded. In the background: Eurythmics.R.M.Yak: On Turner Classic Movies, counter-programming against the Olympic Opening togetherness fest, we find “Dr. Strangelove,” that zany, international feel-good movie about crazy antics of national leaders that result in thermonuclear war. Oops. Sorry.

Islamic Republic of Iran: Hmm ? what does the green ribbon across that guy?s chest say? Commentators are discussing the Iranian call for the destruction of Israel. So much for nonpolitical sporting events to bring the world together.

Ireland: Never won a medal in the Winter Games. Let?s hope that changes this year.

Iceland: Also never won a Winter Games medal. That?s a little stranger. (We have a reader in Iceland ? hello, and we?ll be rooting for you).

Virgin Islands: One athlete, ?grandma luge? the oldest Olympic Games winter athlete. (OUCH ? they?re claiming in the Virgin Islands you get into the winter Olympics by raising your hand and saying ?sure, I?ll try that.? The commentators are snarkier than I am ? and that?s saying something!)

Israel: and the commentators are discussing Spielberg?s film. Of course.

Kazakhstan: Think hockey. Think goalie. Think Colorado Avalanche.

Kenya: One competitor, cross-country skier Philip Boit. We wish him well.

Kyrgyzstan: Someone needs to teach the commentators to pronounce Kyrgyzstan.

Latvia: YtY is commenting on the burgundy fedoras.

Lebanon: Nice flag. Always liked it.

Liechtenstein: Strong winter games presence, if a small contingent. Only country to win winter games medals, but never a summer games medal.

Lithuania: (What is that horrible music in the background? It?s like every cheesy song from the 60?s onward has been resurrected for this evening)

Luxembourg: Figure skater carrying the flag. Did they say that was the only athlete? Looks like she might be. We wish her well.

Moldova: Commentators are mentioning we?ve skipped where Mexico would have been ? just in case you forgot they don?t have a team here.

Monaco: The Prince is no longer competing in bobsled. End of an era.

Mongolia: YtY likes this team, too.

R.M.Yak: No Mexico? Are their athletes competing as part of the United States?

Nepal! Yak country. Race you up Everest!?

Announcer. Here are the Russians who not so long ago lived behind a curtain, “or so we have been taught”? Historical revisionism rolls trippingly off the tongues of sports talkers. The Iron Curtain was some 20th century myth? The Soviet Union?s repression never happened? Nothing about Russia today is really all that different? Is that what we?re being told? As RYak would say, flap, flap, flap, bark, bark, bark.

Here comes the United States. Diversity. Asian-American, African-American, European-American, male, female. Singer belting “Freedom.” (I don?t see the Mexicans though. Too cold probably.)

R.Yak (interlineated) Nepal: the Olympic flame is scheduled to hit the peak of Everest on its tour before the Chinese Olympic games. Good luck with that. Really.

Norway: Apparently one of the biggest grudge matches will be men?s cross country relay skiing. Apparently I?m out of the loop.

New Zealand: YtY asks ?do they sleep a lot there?? (Statistically, 5% of you got that and laughed, most of you faster than I did.)

Netherlands: Paesi Bassi in Italian. Someone explain that to me please.

Poland: (some of you are actually reading this in real time. I see you on the sitemeter. Welcome and thanks).

Portugal: The Commentators are asking to hear ?Bette Davis Eyes? ? they?re hoping it plays in the background some time during this parade of bad music that should have stayed dead. Gah.

Romania: Furry hats. ?Nuff said.

Russia: Their flagbearer is carrying the flag one-handed, outside the carrying cup. I?m impressed. Those things are heavy.

Commercial: Yak the Younger is curled up on the couch with the cat. The cat that will not stay with me.

San Marino: A nation one third the size of Washington, D.C. They, too, fell prey to the Team USA hat designer. YtY says ?what?s with those ugly hats? ? confirming my as yet unvoiced opinion. The hats are, in fact, ugly.

Senegal: Another small contingent. We wish them well.

Serbia and Montenegro: Apparently a split is in the making ? voting in April to determine whether they separate or remain unified.

Slovakia: Apparently the athletes requested ?YMCA? to play when they entered the stadium.

Slovenia: The Random Spouse just stopped in. Hard to type and talk simultaneously.

Spain: Welcome Spain! Yak the Younger says he?s rooting for you.

United States of America: Go, Team USA! Yak the Younger sits up, exclaiming ?Michelle Kwan! I read about her in school!? Apparently he didn?t connect this icon with a living being.

(10:40) R. Yak: South Africa: 3 athletes, but they look happy to be here.

Sweden: Yak the Younger just realized the countries? names are spelled strangely. Conversation about alternative spellings in other languages.

Switzerland: Did they just say the Swiss have competitors in every sport? Could be.

Tajikistan: One athlete. We wish him well.

Chinese Taipei: aka Taiwan. Using a special flag ? not their national flag ? due to an agreement with the IOC and the Chinese. Interesting to see what they will be carrying in Beijing in 2008.

Thailand: Yak the Younger says he roots for their food. He is, in fact, my son.

Turkey: Has been competing in the winter games since 1936. YtY: ?they compete in the Thanksgiving games constantly.? (They medal, too?)

R.M. Yak: Uh, sorry there. Snooze-blogging is setting in. Doze were my snores you read.

R.M. Yak: Are we there yet? Nope, more ceremonial theatrics. We flagging here.

Hungary: YtY is claiming to be ?Hungary.? Like I?m going to feed him at this hour.

Uzbekistan: Missed while updating.

Venezuela: Crowd is looking for Italy.

Italy: Wow, silver metallic jackets. That?s a choice. YtY thinks they look like astronauts.

(10:50) R.Yak: Moving on: choreographed flag waving. YtY likes it.

This is the longest post in Random Yak History. Like the event itself, it just keeps going?and going?.No wonder the Maniyak is dozing.

They?re throwing flags now. Looks like someone?s going to land a 747 on the stage.

Re-enactment of Boticelli?s ?Birth of Venus? ? slightly modified for television (as in, she?s wearing clothes). Someone needs to teach the commentator to say ?Zephyr.? A tribute to the Renaissance. Hmm?something?s missing?they?ve mentioned an embracing of intellectual pursuits, art, science, literature ? oh, I know! Religion! No mention of Religion! (Sorry, Jesus?the Kingdom of Heaven isn?t officially recognized by the IOC).

What?s the significance of the women in big dresses pulled up to reveal other women on swings swinging in their skirts? I don?t understand, but I?m not sure I really want to.

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the Opening Ceremonies ? the modern dancers are back, this time suspended on wires. A salute to flailing?

The commentators have finally said something I can agree with: ?fire always works at these opening ceremonies.? Yep. More fire, less modern dancers. Unless you?d like to ignite the dancers. That would be okay with me.

Moving on to part 4: Liveblogging the Opening Ceremonies 23:00-24:00 PST.

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Torino 2006: Liveblogging the Opening Ceremonies 21:00-22:00 PST

Filed under: Just Yaks,Liveblogging Yaks — Random Yak @ 5:54 pm on

Well, it’s about time. So much for trusting the NBC schedule – I’ve been here an hour and not seen more than a passing glimpse of the Stadio Olympico (and that with a commentator telling me about its construction at the request of none other than beloved humanitarian Benito Mussolini. Nice.) – but I have it on good MSM authority that the real opening Ceremonies will begin after these commercials…and our coverage will begin after you click below the fold.

(21:00) Bob Costas is talking. Insomniacs everywhere are nodding off.

Wow. The U.S. Olympic team has some really stupid-looking uniform hats. Why do all the uniforms say ?Roots? on the right front? If that?s a manufacturer?s trademark, it?s just about the most aggressive ? and tasteless ? form of advertising I?ve seen on an official uniform in recent memory.

Chris Witty (speed skater and Olympic medalist) will carry the U.S. flag into the stadium.

(21:04) Gymnast with hammer hits anvil, makes fire. The commentator tells us this represents ?passion.? (Glad they told me. I thought it represented a gymnast with a hammer. Particularly since they just said that in his homeland his nickname is ?the Lord of the Rings? ? where I come from, the Lord of the Rings is not the guy you want standing at the forge. One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them. One ring to start the games with fire in the dark to blind them?)

(21:06) Modern dance. Yikes. Irony levels rising, Captain?we can?t stop them?

Legs?lots and lots of wiggly legs. I admit, I don?t get it. Now they?re representing a beating heart (the universal symbol of passion? It has a universal symbol ? like ?walk? and ?don?t walk???) Enough of this. Show me some athletes.

Ok, inline skaters ? on fire. THIS is better. It?s not athletes, but it?s people on fire, which is at least entertaining.

(21:10) R. Yak: Guys with those big Alpine horns play them (sounds like yaks?reminds me of home) while little kids raise the flags of the Alpine nations.

Hold on a minute. COWS? They?ve got Cows on the ice! No, no no. Where are the yaks? Yaks live in the snow ? not cows. I?m feeling repressed.

(21:15) R.Yak: protocol portion of the ceremonies. They?re explaining that the Italian flag stands for the cardinal virtues: Green for hope, white for faith, red for charity. That?s kind of nice.

(21:20) Three dudes dressed like Napoleon Bonaparte. One takes the flag. (Still no athletes?) They?re running it up the flagpole. Raising the flag to the Italian national anthem. Nicest camera shot so far: one of the guys in the Napoleon costumes is crying ? or at least, fighting hard to control it ? as he raises the flag.

(21:22) I think the Maniyak has abandoned the proceedings. We’ll see if he updates later.

On the other hand, Yak the younger has joined me in the living room. So have two of the cats, both of whom seem unimpressed by the proceedings. The spotted one has decided to let YtY share the couch, so long as he continues to pet her.

Uh-oh. The dancers are back. They have what appear to be spotlights on their heads. (Isn?t that the universal symbol for cluelessness?)

I think they just made a skier out of people. Yep. From a distance, that?s kind of interesting. Much better than nonrepresentational modern dance, that?s for sure. OK, the ski jumping representation was kind of cool.


And the men on fire are back. Even better. Tinsel and fire within thirty seconds of one another. This is better than I expected.

RMyak: Wow! Did you see those two spectacular crashes? No, of course not. They were my DSL connection. If a Yak?s computer crashes in the forest while liveblogging, but no one can read about it, does it make any noise?

Admit it. You did not even notice that RMyak had gone the way of all yaks. (Edit: R. Yak.: they noticed. I mentioned it two paragraphs ago.)

While I was out: the Opening Ceremonies. Fire spouting anvil, face-guarded (OSHA-approved) hammerer. Rhythmic dancing. Announcer has to tell us that the red-clad bunch of dancers represents a “beating heart,” symbolizing what? Valentine?s Day? And dancers in black and while cow costumes? Moo-ve it along please, Elsie.

“XX”-rated games? Whaat?

Who decided that people who love sports would want to sit through abstract theatrical spectaculars for Opening Ceremonies?

You know, these Olympics have a familiar ring about them. Five rings in fact.

Here comes Albania. Can Zimbabwe be far behind?

(21:34) R. Yak: More modern dance. This time the weirdos artists are painted red and gold, and they seem to be giving me the universal symbol for ?go get a Coke now, you?re not missing anything.?

I see five illuminated rings. Bet they turn – yep, here they go. Didn?t see that one coming. Mentioning that one of the five colors in the rings appears in the flag of every nation in the world. I always sort of liked that.

(21:36) I had to wait an hour and a half, but here come the athletes!

Greece first, then the rest, this time in Italian alphabetical order.

They?re entering to ?Good Times??? No Motown at the Superbowl, but we?re going to get Motown at the Opening Ceremonies?

Albania: nice flag. Only one athlete, an alpine skier. Hope he does well.

Algeria: one of six African nations competing at the games.

Andorra: 3 athletes, but more mechanical lifts per capita than any other country in the world.

Argentina: Commentators telling us no South American country has ever won a gold medal in the Winter Olympics. Let?s hope that changes this time.

Armenia: They?re calling Armenia part of ?an interesting neighborhood of the world? ? (what does that mean? That sounds vaguely snarky to me. Hand over that ski ? you?re going downhill on one).

Australia: (We have readers in Australia ? enjoy the games!)

R.M.Yak: Hey. NBC is tivo-ing the broadcast. It?s breaking away for commercials and picking up right where they left off, skipping no one in the parade of nations. Kinda let?s the secret out of the bag about time-shifting this not-live broadcast. When the Yaks can figure it out, you?re not fooling anybody.

Oh. It?s 3-1 in the 80th minute of the USA-Japan football (soccer) game. You?re welcome.

(21:40) R. Yak:

Austria: Home of Hermann Maier, R. Yak?s choice for the men?s downhill gold.

Azerbaijan: (Yes, I will be commenting on them all?)

Belgium: As usual, the athletes have their video cameras with them.

Bermuda: One athlete ? who competes in the Skeleton. He?s not wearing shorts tonight. Good choice.

Belarus: ooo. Same hat designer as Team USA. He should be shot.

Bosnia/Herzegovina: (I love the Winter Games?average athlete age has to be at least a decade older than the Summer Games)

Brazil: Commentators are saying figure skating tickets are selling for up to $400.00 a seat. Face value (I can?t imagine the scalping). That?s insane.

Canada: (Oops, I missed someone while snarking about figure skating tickets. We have readers in Canada. Lots of you.) More commentators talking about figure skating ? scandals now. Figure skating and hockey.

Czech Republic: Commentators telling us the NHL players won?t arrive until Monday.

R.M. Yak: Ok, we?re at a break after the Czech Republic. How many countries can you name that begin with the letter “F”? You?ve got two letters to get your list together. Winner gets a snowball.

If you Google “Chinese Olympics team” on China Google, do you get arrested?

Korea, North and South together. Cool. Sports can bring Koreans together, in Italy. Not across the DMZ.

Denmark. Cute PMS cartoon characters on their caps.

(21:50) R.Yak: Chile: They?re wearing black? Interesting design choice.

People?s Republic of China: Largest winter Olympic team the Chinese have ever sent ? 76 athletes. Apparently this is the first time a female athlete has carried their flag into an Olympic stadium. Commentators are trying to be nice: ?under a lot of pressure around the world? (as in, clean up your dissenter-beating act before 2008. Thank you, drive through).

Korea: (did it again, missed a country while snarking about China.) North and South marching together again. Apparently the signs say ?Koreas? (Note: it?s spelled with a ?c? in Italian).

Costa Rica: wow, those guys look happy.

Croatia: pretty big contingent for Croatia.

DENMARK: BUY DANISH! Even the Commentators are discussing the controversy, and the fact that Italy has spent much less on security than many countries hosting the games.

Estonia: (The commentators are now talking about the Muslim population of Italy?still on the Danish issue)

Ethiopia: Only a single athlete ? we wish him well.

Macedonia: In Italian: the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia?hence inclusion with the F?s

Finland: cut to commercial, and moving to the next entry: Liveblogging the Opening Ceremonies, 22:00-23:00

R.M. Yak: So, how are we doing with the “F” countries? Finland, France, uh, Fiji here? Maybe for ice surfing?

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Torino 2006: Liveblogging the Opening Ceremonies 20:00-21:00PST

Filed under: Just Yaks,Liveblogging Yaks — Random Yak @ 5:07 pm on

20:00 PST: Emotional images and a background commentary designed to please players of "Olympic Buzzword Bingo" announces the start of NBC’s coverage of the Opening Ceremonies of the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy…even as the tapping of the keys announces the start of the yaks’ Olympic coverage from this side of the mountain.

Join us if you will, for 16 days of interrupted coverage (unlike NBC, we do need to sleep sometime) of the Torino Olympic Games.

Join us, if you will, for four hours of uninterrupted irony as we liveblog the Opening Ceremonies below the fold:

20:06-20:10: Look! The torch! It?s on its way to the stadium, with no visible sign of the protestors apparently bothering it earlier this week. Good.

Lovely. The Olympic Stadium was built by Benito Mussolini in 1933. Nice touch, NBC. Nothing says ?splendid introduction? like Mussolini.

Last minute commentary: Bode Miller (sorry, this yak has already picked Hermann Maier in the men?s downhill), Shawn White, and Michelle Kwan, who they are calling ?the clear underdog.? Wow. 25 years old and they?re essentially calling her ?washed up.? What is up with this interview? They?re actually asking if she?s ?okay? with having to petition for a place on the U.S. team and the fact that injury may prevent her from winning a medal in Torino. I know one interviewer that won?t be medaling in ?Tact? at this games.

20:10-20:20: R. Yak: Riddle me this: why does the NBC TV schedule claim the Opening Ceremonies begin at eight p.m. (that?s 20:00 for those on military time) and yet I?m still looking at commentators. We saw a glimpse of the torch a few minutes ago, but I?m definitely confused. Shut that guy up and show me some athletes!

RMYak: Have you noticed that the Winter Olympics seems to be going downhill?

(20:17) R. Yak Why am I seeing downhill skiing?? Now I?m really confused. Not that I mind?Men?s downhill happens to be one of my favorite events, even in the preliminaries (which is what I?m guessing this to be, based on the blue guide lines painted on the run) but still..I?m not seeing any opening ceremonies. Where are the flags? The screaming fans? The communist countries holding hands with their democratic neighbors?

Ohhh. THERE we go. They just put a little tiny (I mean really tiny?) counter on the screen: ?Opening Ceremonies in 35 minutes.? Nice. Thanks for telling us ?8pm? on the schedule and actually starting at 9. Well, I?m here anyway, with a good head of fisk built up ? so I might as well stick around now. Note to the paying attention: anyone notice the momentary Ironic Convergence?

Before we get too much farther along (since I obviously have time, as I still see no athletes?) permit me to explain the setup you?re seeing. R.Yak and R.M.Yak have both elected to liveblog the opening ceremonies. How do you do this when you?re not in the same locale? Alternating updates, of course. Expect to see updates from R. Yak on the tens and R.M.Yak on the fives ? simultaneous liveblogging without communication in an exercise doubtless designed to produce an interesting analysis of just how well-aligned our respective irony meters happen to be.

20:20 R.Yak update: I can see where this is going. We?re in for four hours (and four entries) just like our liveblogging coverage of Superbowl XL. The Random Spouse thinks knows I?ve lost my mind for watching this in its entirety, but yaks are creatures of fortitude, with a sense of - awww?I thought Scott Macartney was going to eat some ice on the downhill course, but he saved it at the last minute. No worries, if this Olympics is like the ones that went before, we?ll see plenty of flying skiis before the closing ceremonies.

(20:26) Commercials. If I?m going to be here all night, I?m grabbing a Coke. Not planning on seeing too many bloggably creative commercials tonight.

R.M.Yak: Ski commentator: "He?s going all out because he wants one of those positions in the finals on Sunday." Glad you told me that! Now everything finally comes into focus. I thought they were playing "Last one down?s a rotten egg."

What you?re missing. The USA is leading Japan 1-0 in a world cup qualifier football-soccer match (ESPN2). 30 minutes into the game. Why aren?t they playing on their national ice soccer teams in the Winter Olympics? Have they no patriotism? No spikes? No fur shorts?

(20:30) R. Yak: Looks like one of the yaks types more than the other. Leave it to you to figure out which one.

(20:36) My guess about the commercials might be slightly wrong. I just saw four men in helmets bobsledding a couch in a living room. I?m a little scared.

(20:37) Interview with Bode Miller. The U.S. Athlete who told 60 Minutes that he ?skiis wasted.? Nice. ?Skiing?s Bad Boy? who claims the media coverage of him is ?typical America? ? that people want to think about ?anything other the kind of person they ought to be.? Right now, at least one of them is thinking about the kind of person Bode Miller represents himself to be. He?s denying telling 60 Minutes he skis drunk. Hmm?either I missed his explanation or he didn?t give one. I miss athletes who considered themselves ambassadors. Skiiers have always suffered from rock star complexes to a certain degree, but (censored for momentary lapse into ?Darn You Kids? mode.)

RM Yak: Back to the USA-Japan soccer match. A star player on the Japanese team is named "Santos." Southern Japan, near Rio De Janeiro. # 39th minute, beautiful US gooooaaaaalllll ! 2-0. Now back to the not-so-live Olympics.

(20:43) R. Yak: Why is RM Yak watching football? There’s no football in the Winter Games. Someone hand me a universal remote…preferably one that works at distance.

Men?s Halfpipe. Speaking of rock stars, bring on the snowboarders! (The Random Sibling snowboards. The Random Yak Skis. It?s the Hatfields and McCoys all over again).

(20:44) Commercials: DHL shows Olympic ice skaters slipping. There?s a good promotion. ?DHL, the company that?slips?

(20:45) 45 minutes in, and yes ? that?s the Olympic Stadium! Nope, just a tease. Back to the Men?s Halfpipe. Are the American snowboarders really wearing white with little blue pinstripes? How will the judges see them on the snow? (Shaun White comes off the course?with a score of zero?the judges completely missed him in his camouflage uniform). Ouch, they are, and they are hard to see. Apparently nobody told the Team USA costume designer the athletes would be competing on snow. Best name in the competition: Antti Autti. Shaun White is the home favorite, but we?d be pleased with an Autti win too, if only because of his name.

The commentators are discussing back to back 1080s on the halfpipe. I can?t do a 1080 standing in my living room without falling over. When did children start coming with wings?? I?m impressed.

RM Yak: What do you call fair-haired female snowboarders doing practice spins down the halfpipe? Dizzy blondes.

Back in a minute. In college hoops, it?s 69-68 Arizona over Oregon with 3.1 seconds to play. Now 70-68. Half court shot to win . . . ? Yes sir, I will go back to the Olympics right now. Immediately. Gone.

Love those woman-to-woman interviews. Female question to female athlete: "You are the American flag bearer. I hear the flag is very heavy. Have you practiced? Do you think you?ll be able to carry it?" All America, all the world, wants to know. Answer: "I?ve been working out." Duh.

Moving on to entry #2…21:00-22:00

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Liveblogging Superbowl XL (fourth quarter)

Filed under: Liveblogging Yaks — Random Yak @ 3:26 pm on February 5, 2006

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Liveblogging Superbowl XL (halftime and third quarter)

Filed under: Liveblogging Yaks — Random Yak @ 1:58 pm on

Halftime: Break to go grill the yak. (Not a talking yak!) Yummy.

Insurance ad. Ford Mustang ad. Are these local ads?

Halftime report. Why is this Superbowl eXtra Large (XL)?

Grumbling here about the alleged breaking the plane of the goal line on the Steelers TD. And calling back the Seahawks touchdown on a blown call.

Irony Alert: Sprint halftime show – featuring artists who no longer can.

Headline Update: Rolling Stones Live (we were wondering….). Don’t look too closely…those rolling stones look a little mossy to me.

RMyak: A new wrinkle in halftime performances, in fact a whole lot of new wrinkles, on all the Stones. A halftime for the ages. First time a rock group qualified for Social Security. The Superbowl is in Detroit, but they could not bring back some Motown? Uh-oh, Mick Jagger just took off his coat. Cover your eyes. What’s this MJ bare midriff? Cross-undressing? I can’t get no satisfaction. We agree! He’s dancing like a teenybopper. Is that glitter on his shirt? Yech.

The nostalgia segment is over now. Our apologies to the 1 billion subjected to these egregious torture-like stress-enducing activities by the American powers-that-be, that is, the entertainment lib powers.

Third quarter about to begin. Talking heads. Kickoff. Pittsburgh from the 25. Dropped pass. 75-yard TD run. Momentum. Pass the Starbucks. Seattle needs a jolt. Longest run in Superbowl history.

Now back to RYak.

Commercials again: Little horse pulling the wagon…will triumphs over gravity…until we see the big horses pushing from behind. Good commercial, but I saw it coming.

8:43 remaining: Seattle 3, Pittsburgh 14, and it’s very, very quiet here now.

7:20 remaining: Seattle interception, and a return that brought the crowd (in this room, at least) to its feet. Followed by a dropped pass that goes a long way toward explaining why the score is still Seattle 3, Pittsburgh 14.

6:45 remaining: Seattle Scores! 9-14 and this is once again a football game. I’m off to pull the last of the charcoal-crispy critters off the grill…

Update: score is 10-14, food is almost gone. Even R.M.Yak appreciated the crispy-critters.

Commercials: Great. Musical ringtones, now available on Sprint. "What would you pick if your house was on fire?" Benny Hill, of course.

Blocking on the play, arguing in the living room….

Liveblogging….Superbowl XL (first quarter commentary)

Filed under: Liveblogging Yaks — Random Yak @ 12:27 pm on

Kickoff! Seattle wins the toss and elects to receive. Hope they pull the camera off the cheerleaders in time to see the initial kick….

Initial predictions:

- Seattle will win. I say by 7.

- The Jessica Simpson Pizza Hut Commercial will play at least three times an hour.

Play by play below the fold:

- At least one of the Rolling Stones will have a minor "wardrobe malfunction" during halftime.

Less drugs for the Seattle quarterback. 3rd and 9 – after a pass clearly thrown to the pink elephant romping around midfield.

3 minutes in, and Seattle has turned the ball over to Pittsburgh.

Apparently it’s not just the Seattle quarterback who’s on drugs. Burger King is flinging half-naked women onto buns. Final anlysis: pretty girls, with some really, really big buns.

Awww, I walked away for five minutes, and apparently they’re worshipping the Refrigerator God, which provides miraculous quantities of Bud Light. (Some God. Everyone knows Magical Refrigerators are supposed to produce Guinness and Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper).

Seattle completes a pass! 3rd and 6 on the 41. Let’s hope Hasselbeck just needed a little time to get his game on. Ooo…neck holding, Pittsburgh. That’s the third penalty, and we’ve still got 5:38 left in the first quarter. Apparently they’re channeling the Raiders. Others in the room are debating the virtues of grabbing across the chest and around the neck. Either way….flag on the play.

Commercials again. Winner so far for best ad: Fed Ex. Summary: caveman sends package by pterodactyl. T Rex eats pterodactyl. Caveman gets fired. Caveman kicks compy – and promptly gets stepped on by brontosaurus. Reminds me of a certain scene from Jurassic Park. (Man sends package, dinosaur eats package…FedEx takes over the world…)

The Random Maniyak just pointed out that the Whopper ad is officially no longer the worst Superbowl commercial of the day. 3:53 pm and the creativity-black-hole which is "Brown and Bubbly" (Diet Pepsi and Jay Mohr) has just officially sucked all of the creativity out of my brain. The rest of the room disagrees with us – they claim the Whopper is still the day’s biggest stinker.

2:33 remaining in the first quarter, and we have an actual first down. Apparently there will be football between the commercials.

2:00 remaining: Offensive pass interference has cancelled what would otherwise have been the first Seattle touchdown. The natives are restless – this room does not agree with the call.

It’s official – Trekkies are old, and Aleve may be able to stop their arthritis, but even that can’t stop the pain of watching the commercial.

First Quarter Commercial Observation: "if you crush, injure, kill (thanks AmeriQuest) or otherwise make fun of a man in a commercial, the ad is funny. If you dress a woman as a tomato and flop her on a giant bun with 10 of her closest friends…it’s at least better than ‘Brown and Bubbly’"

OK, Diet Pepsi just redeemed itself – Jackie Chan was a good choice, but using a diet coke as the stunt double was genius. Diet Pepsi goes from an unmitigated "F" to a "C-" – judgment reserved for now.

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