Archive for June, 2011

Getting Our Guy Back

June 19, 2011

On January 21, 2011, 671 days after the inauguration of Barack Obama as President, 673 days following the debut of “The Glenn Beck Show” on Fox News Channel and just 13 days after the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Keith Olbermann, the host of “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” on MSNBC, abruptly (or so it seemed) announced that “this is to be the last show on this network.”  And following his “Friday’s with Thurber” segment, he went poof.

A little over an hour later, on “Real Time with Bill Maher”, Olbermann’s colleague and friend Rachel Maddow, in a stupor over what to say, said “It’s been a interesting day at work.”  Even though she knew a lot more than what she was saying at the time.    Or maybe less.  According to Olbermann, who had been suspended for three days earlier for not revealing campaign contribution made to three Democratic Congressional Candidates (including Giffords) in 2010, he didn’t know until three minutes before he made the announcement that the exit was final.

It even caught the network off guard.  They were still running promos for his program as late as the next morning.  By then, people were, as usual, screaming on both sides of the spectrum.  Olbermann had been a driving force in turning MSNBC into a liberal version of Fox News and it’s ultra-conservative network.  With the abuses of the Bush administration, Olbermann led the charge for a more level-headed, liberal slant for a network who employed at one time the likes of Dan Abrams and Tucker Carlson.  They were out, replaced by Maddow, Ed Schultz and Lawrence O’Donnell.

Now, I have liked Olbermann since his days at ESPN.  His pairing with Dan Patrick was the stuff that dreams are made of.  It was called “The Big Show.”  Nothing the Worldwide Leader has done since has matched it, with the exception of  Stuart Scott and Rich Eisen.  But that was nearly 20 years ago, and even though they were reunited on NBC’s “Football Night” pregame, that was short-lived.

That he spent eight years at MSNBC was a bit of a miracle in itself.  His first stint at the network ended after he did 400-some odd shows leading with OJ Simpson.  He then went to work for Fox Sports and left there, too.  Even though he lagged behind Fox, he still had the largest audience on MSNBC.  So, I think his exit in January had more to do with his employers than him.

To see him at Current almost five months later isn’t what NBC (or their new owners, Comcast) expected.  Nor did anyone else for that matter, critic and supporter alike.  We will see what happens, but the way the world turns these days, Olbermann might end up back at MSNBC one day, or his friends and colleagues might end up on Current.  I think it’ll be the latter rather than the former.  By this time next year, you could see Cenk  Uyger and Ed Schultz at Current (which is also partially owned by Comcast).  Followed by Maddow and O’Donnell.

Olbermann isn’t  Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly or Sean Hannity.  He is smart, funny, swarmmy,  sarcastic, biting, bitter, and intelligent.  He also alienates friends, co-workers, bosses and viewers.  But I think he’s honest and has his facts straight (keeping in mind that in today’s world, one man’s facts are Joe Wilson’s lies) and I will welcome him back tomorrow with a smile and a laugh.  A smile at knowing that we got our voice back and a laugh at those who thought that after that bewildering Friday night in January, that we had seen the last of him.

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My (weird) and wonderful trip

June 2, 2011

Well, it’s been a interesting month.  I was 35,000 feet above the Atlantic when Osama bin Laden was killed, spent two weeks in Europe playing Table Tennis well, and got sick, came home and got better.  Wonderful times.  A few problems, but not many.  Made some new friends and saw some old ones.

Life is interesting, that’s for sure.  You never know what is going to happen from one day to the next.  Two weeks outside your comfort zone is a test of everything that you have.  Mentally, Physically and Emotionally.  Nine thousand miles.  Five Flights.  And one excruciatingly long bus ride around Rotterdam.
Slovenia is a wonderful place and they do a very good job taking care of us.  The hotels are very accessible and well-staffed.  Nice people and a pretty good venue.  300 players and a slew of volunteers, officials (and one very cool Texan teammate) and you have a world-class event.  Unlike last year, when i was the lone American, I actually had teammates and coaches with me on this trip.  Meaning that instead of dealing with officials and attending meetings, I was able to relax and concentrate on playing my game.

In both Laško and Rotterdam, I played the same three in my group of four.  I took a game off the Korean and played the French player very well the first time.  The second time, a week later, when i was ill with a cold, played well there too, but the scores weren’t indictive of how close the matches were.  Against the Russian, i played about the same.  My teammate, Mike and I, took a game in one of our team matches and I thought we had points.  I did for about a week and then they were taken away.  Oh well.  Easy come, easy go as the old song goes.

My teammate and doubles partner, Mike Godfrey, is from Texas and has a personality as big as the Lone Star State.  He was a Pro-Rodeo rider and became paralyzed after being thrown at an event twenty-some years ago.  The man is amazing, always got a smile on his face, and has a wonderful wife and help-mate in Crissy.  And a very cool step-daughter in Lillian.   All three of them helped me get through my two week odyssey.

All my teammates went above and beyond in making me feel comfortable and welcome.  Even through my little dust-up with my roommate Sebastian over a huge laundry bill (my fault completely), I felt like I was a part of something very nice and cool.  And my Coaches, Dan, Keith and Roman, helped me out immensely and it was nice to have coaches.  Thank you Pam for suggesting that we pay for the extra coaches and to Jon Redman and his foundation for the $2000 to put towards that.

None of us won medals in either Slovenia or Holland, but I think everyone played very well and better than many of us expected.  My local coach Bob Quinn, said to me the other day that I was playing as well as he’s ever seen me play.  I told him I thought my new chair has helped and the fact that i know how to play at this level now is very important.  And the fact that we finally have some coaching who looks after everyone, not just select players, is a big plus.

I come back and tell folks, I played well but didn’t win and they don’t understand.  Some think I’m just going to be a tourist or that I enjoy the travel.  Believe you me, I like to travel, but if I was just a tourist, I wouldn’t even bother playing.  What people don’t understand is that everyone at these tournaments is very good, even the ones who don’t win.

Now, about that bus ride.  First of all, it was amazing that we all got there on one plane.  Everyone who stayed the extra days in Slovenia went out on the same flight to Amsterdam.  Thirteen people in wheelchairs and some had extra equipment and chairs.  Amazing that Adria Airways got us all on the plane.  But once we got to Schiphol Airport, we were all put on buses and taken to Rotterdam.  Sounds easy enough, right?  Not exactly.

The ride to Rotterdam was easy enough.  Took about a hour.  Went to the venue.  Coaches got off the bus, athletes didn’t.  Then, the George Perot Bus Tour of Rotterdam began.  (Mr. Perot was a friend of my grandfather and hosted a travelogue show on Detroit TV back in the 60’s and 70’s)  We were housed at the Bilderberg Hotel, but the driver was told to follow the lead bus and so we did…for four hours.  It was terrible.  I was a miserable wreck and my cold was getting worse.

Anyhow, once we got to the hotel, we found out that the rooms weren’t exactly accessable.  So, more delays and frustration.  Finally got into a halfway decent room and took some meds and went to sleep, eventually. And I left my vanity bag on the bus.  A very long day (They found my bag and returned it to me).

Well, that was my European “vacation.” What I learned was that I can play at this level and win, too.  And that it’s nice to have teammates and friends who care about you. Maybe not as funny as the Griswald’s or as scrutinized as the President’s, but an adventure nonetheless.  On to Milwaukee and Sheffield.