Monthly Archives: July 2012

The Olympic Drinking Game

This is based off of something Mrs. Deelio found–I rearranged a little and added a few. More will surely be added as the games (and, let’s face it, the evening) wear on…

New additions in blue (as of 5 p.m., July 28).

One drink:

Didn’t stick the landing

Hideous uniforms

Bitter runners up

“Just a kid from…”


Celebrity spectator

Athlete beefs it while competing (including falling off gymnastics equipment)

Really funny name

USSR mention


Sportscaster says something A) ridiculously nationalistic, or B) ridiculously smug about his/her sport

Reference to a non-Olympic sport

Epic collapse from a big lead

Sportscaster makes a funny (ie “[So-and-so] called for the double-touch because she tried to play it off her face.”)

Parent or coach body-English.


New world record

High five left hanging

Gymnasts of dubious ages

Fit kid, fat parents

Nordic country wins gold

Learning a new rule about an obscure sport

Any athlete named “Pepe”

Athlete beefs it while not in the act of competing

Horse poops

False start DQ

Bela Karolyi says something nonsensical

Sportscaster gets indignant on behalf of opposing country (ie, “How DARE they call that penalty shot! The referees just GAVE the US the medal!”)

Epic collapse and/or upset in a medal round


Compound fracture

Wrong national anthem at medal ceremony


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Olympic Stories

It’s fair to say I geek out pretty solid to the Olympics. With the right combination of coffee, hormones and sleep deprivation, my eyes well up just saying “Olympics.” I almost cried three times on the way to work just listening to Olympics previews. I dig the games.

I love the stories they uncover about the athletes, the teams and the countries. Human interest framed in sports–it’s like Aaron Sorkin wrote a miniseries that’ll be airing over the next two weeks. I’ve already torn through a pile of material. I’ve read stories about Lolo Jones, who was well on her way to winning gold four years ago when she beefed it over the penultimate hurdle and came in seventh instead, collapsing into disbelief at the finish line, but giving the most gracious interview a few minutes later. Then the cameras caught her in the tunnel by herself, weeping.

Seriously. It’s nine a.m. and I’m crying already. I haven’t even had my coffee yet.

There’s the open-water swimmer, Alex Meyer–fuckers swim a 10k; can you believe that?! (Actually, there’s also a 25k distance, but it’s not an Olympic sport.) This guy was best friends with a competitor–they roomed together all the time, and the friend once gave up second place to turn around, swim back and help Meyer when he was having trouble in a race. Then, at a UAE race Meyer could only watch through an injury, the friend died when water temperatures pushed 90 degrees.

There’s the U.S. judo champ who’s had two goals since she was 10–to win a world championship (she did that in 2010) and a gold medal. But since the Sandusky trial, she was inspired to come out about being sexually abused for years by a former coach, and now, of course, that story will be part of her medal run.

There’s Gabby Douglas, the 16-year-old gymnastics phenom who moved away from her mother and older siblings in Virginia to live with a family in Iowa (where she’s now an older sister to four girls) and train with Coach Chow. She saw him on TV four years ago and loved how happy and supportive he was of all his athletes.

There’s Lochte and Phelps, of course–and as much as I rooted for Phelps last time (and as much as I don’t give a damn about his partying), I’m kind of going for Lochte this time. (Though I hate how his name is pronounced–“Lockty.”) There’s women’s soccer, of course–a World Cup rematch with Japan would be quite a thing to watch (especially since Japan is a great and respectable–and respectful–rival).

And those are just the Americans. I’ve also read about the Chinese medal-making machine–how, after boycotting the Olympics for years because Taiwan was included, they focused in on the least-popular, least-funded sports that could earn them the most medals, like gymnastics, and things that have multiple weight classes, like women’s weightlifting. There’s the Chechnyan wrestlers who are on Russia’s team, though Russia is a political enemy of their homeland. There’s the South African amputee 400 runner, and the sprinter who’s had her gender called into question–and South Africa in general, which was banned from the Olympics during apartheid, and now features only 14 non-white athletes out of 79, though the country is only 10 percent white.

And already there’s the incident where the South Korean flag was shown for the North Korean women’s soccer team–which would be understandably embarrassing if it were any other country, but is kind of hysterical when it’s North Korea.

There’s even the Afghan boxer who’s been pulled from competition for fear she’d be injured. (Which, by the way, kills the potential for this to be the first ever summer Olympics in which every competing nation included female athletes.)

There are just so many great stories, so much earnestness. Watch the opening ceremonies tonight. Look at how excited everyone is to be there. Think about how cool it is that every part of the globe is just so happy to come together like that.

I dunno. I’m pretty excited.


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Doing Work

They say the key to being a writer is to write consistently, every day. Not that I’m one for following rules like that. (I say the key to being a writer is to have someone pay you for the things that you write, heh.) But I do think writing in volume is important to learning how to listen to yourself.

I wrote the previous paragraph on Monday, in my PJs, working from home to finish a feature that I had, as usual, over-researched and under-…started. Volume aside, probably for the best that I concentrated on the feature rather than finishing a blog post that obviously had nowhere to go but tedious.

So Tuesday morning was exhaustion–and trying to write when you’re written out is hard, but fortunately I got tons of practice in college. Like a marathoner. (I mean, I’m guessing.) Push through the pain, there’s a little euphoria in every step, every noun-verb agreement and decisive period. And when you finally get to the end, it feels so good.

That? Is where I’m at now: Today I sent that 2,000-word story to art–a mercifully short turnaround after turning it in yesterday afternoon–plus an 18,000-word database to art. And just for funsies, polished off a 300-word intro and a 250-word department. Write that volume, bitches.

Rushed home in time to make the 6 o’clock workout:

Finished in 43:20.

It’s not boasting, exactly; I’m just psyched. Writer’s high. Wednesday was good to me. I’m-a try to keep it going.

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The Beauty Allergen

Why do my cheeks seem to swell into ham hocks the moment I set foot into a salon? Is it a trick of the mirror, or am I allergic to prettiness?

Also, it would seem that I could empty a cosmetics counter on my face and still look plain, as though surely all experienced beauty-goers look gorgeous and blemish-free, chin-up with their head in the hair-wash sink.

What I thought was a casual-but-cute skirt-and-flip-flops combination becomes the definition of “dirty hippy.” Also, unless it’s 9 a.m., I am Captain Pitstains–which only gets worse as I sit clenched under the smock as though a hair cut is akin to a dental procedure.

I can do a fair impersonation of classy in a fancy restaurant, but beauty salons and spas are beyond me. I don’t know which came first, the pull toward tomboy or the push away from girliness, but I found confidence in sports the same way I found insecurity in, well, femininity. Early on, I learned to dread the reaction I expected if I wore a dress to school–not so much “Wow, you’re pretty” as “Hah! That’s different!” In other words, “freakshow.”

I actually like the idea of being well-coiffed and dressed to the nines, all heels and hems. I currently have three kickass cocktail outfits and about a dozen unused purses in my closet just waiting for a fancy night out. But the effort-to-reward ratio skews to “not worth it” after about 15 minutes of prep time. Because without a full styling team and two hours to work with, a cocktail dress and a little blush is only going to accomplish, well, “Hannah looking hunched and awkward in church clothes.”

To me, blow dryers and curling irons, eyeliner and lipstick–they’re like karaoke. Do I really want to draw a bunch of attention to the fact that I can’t quite pull this off? No, I want to sit in the back all, “Meh, I don’t sing.”

And so it goes for salons, my karaoke green room, surrounded by people who know all the songs.

I want to make the effort, I really do. But 15 minutes of juggling a soccer ball always led to 15 minutes more, with all the satisfaction of accomplishing something and still getting better.

Fifteen minutes in front of a mirror mucking with my hair just makes me want to grab a ball cap and move on.

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My Spreading A-Peel

(Courtesy of a former colleague vacationing on Panama City Beach.)

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Day Off No. 4

Apologies for the delay, but on Friday, after I got everything written out, WordPress ATE MY DRAFT, and I had to wait until I didn’t want to kill things anymore. Which takes a while, obviously.

So: Thursday. Thursday was our Anna Maria Island day. (And as an added bonus, I actually managed to sleep in until 10, so that was a good start.)

First up was beach. I love Bradenton/Coquina/Cortez/whateveryoucallit beach (the one that stretches south of Cortez Road). Debby did do some damage, but it’s a great demonstration of the importance of sea oats: The water obviously came right up and over the oats, but the erosion stopped at their roots–so now there’s this nifty sedentary study of a shelf of sand, and then waves that wash up much further on the flattened beach than they used to, leaving only 20 feet or so of sand. It’s still an awesome beach, though.

We lounged. We swam–the water was just cool enough to be refreshing, but warm enough so you wanted to jump right in. We played catch with our cool little Waboba-ripoff skippy ball thing. We swam around with our masks on and searched underwater for shells. It was perfect.

From there we walked dripping to Joe’s Eats and Sweets for ice cream, since Joe’s made a big impression during our office ice cream-a-thon, and salty lips love cool, creamy sweetness. Waffle cones of butter pecan and almond, and before lunch, too, because that is what you do on days off.

For lunch, as per the plan, we hit up Skinny’s–arch rival to our beloved Duffy’s. But we picked Duffy’s only because we loved their burgers by a lot, but we’d never tried Skinny’s by comparison before. This was our chance to make an educated decision.

Skinny’s: two TVs, both on SportsCenter. Good sign.

Skinny’s is an AC-less Old Florida shack right across the street from Manatee County Beach. It’s the perfect draw for beachgoers–close and casual, super-friendly and heavenly satisfying, with its own quirky-but-simple ordering rules. Burgers are Skinny (single) or Fatty (double), with cheese and bacon if you want, but your condiment/toppings options stop at “mayo” or “no mayo.”

I’m sorry, have we met? If the question is “mayo or no?,” the answer is always YES.

Also, tater tots. Tots are always a yes.

And yes, the burgers, they are juicy and delicious.

And yes, I’m still a Duffy’s gal.

I mean, I’m not going to turn down a Skinny’s burger–not on your life–but it wasn’t the kind of transcendent must-eat-this-burger-and-all-of-its-brethren experience I’ve had at Duffy’s. It’s just the way my beef has lain.

Stuffed and a tad overheated, we got in the car and just…drove. What a lovely thing–this must have been what all the old people were savoring while I was a bored and impatient child in the back seat. (Although I imagine they didn’t savor it too much with me there, heh.) We wound our way north to get to know the island. And then we wound up at one of my top 10 favorite places in all the world: Anna Maria City Pier.

Wood underfoot 100 yards out into the gulf; Skyway backdrop, sea breeze and cold beer, afternoon sunshine and a deep breath.

Doesn’t. Get. Better.

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Day Off No. 3

Ok, at 6:30 a.m. on Wednesday, I wanted to murder. Everything. The sheets? Kill them. The doorknob? Must be slaughtered. The blades of grass? Shall be dismembered and fed to the flames of my all-consuming rage.

It took a couple of hours, but eventually the all-consuming rage was doused by a cup of coffee and a very patient boyfriend.

Pa came by at 8 to drop off the smoker, and CCB went right to work building the charcoal fire. The Brisket of Odysseus went in at 8:45, and then? We wait.


Lots of discussion about the proper way to smoke  brisket–this being our first. We went with fat-side down (protects the bottom of the meat from direct heat), smoker steady around 225 degrees. Eventually, when the center of the meat reached around 150 degrees, CCB put it in a foil pouch with a mixture of apple juice and apple cider vinegar, and sealed it to be braised.

Then it rained, and the braising was brought indoors to the oven.

With that meat situation pretty well under control, we pondered our options and settled on a quick trip to the bowling alley. Because frankly, if I’m up and outside in 90-degree heat at 8 a.m., I want to spend an hour or two in a cold, dark cavern–i.e. Bradenton Lanes.

As for fireworks, weeeell, let’s cut to the chase: It didn’t take long for me to set my shirt on fire.

Y’see, CCB’s created this ingenious little bottle rocket launcher out of a hollow composite hockey stick (no blade), with duct tape over one end. If the user, however, it’s not so ingenious, it’s a little too easy for the lit bottle rocket to get caught on the lip of the open end, so that its propulsion charge lands on your crisp white Siesta Key Rum T-shirt and burns a hole clear on through.

(To be fair, CCB also managed to burn his collar bone.) (To be really fair, though, that was also my fault.)

Our neighborhood is awesome for fireworks. It’s like an urban battleground. (Well, it’s alwayslike an urban battleground, but at least on the Fourth it’s all fireworks. Er, mostly.) Mortars in all colors going off in all directions. It reminded me of standing on the roof of an App State dorm in Boone, N.C. and watching fireworks going off across the mountain forests. You didn’t see the actual fireworks as much there, but the flashes lighting up the trees and sides of mountains in little valleys across the landscape made it feel like we were watching pockets of fighting in the Civil War.

Here, too, there’s this great feeling of so many different stories peaking all at once.


Oh, and the brisket? Sweet, tender and still MASSIVE. Seriously, want some? UFC at our place on Saturday. There’s plenty to go around.

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