Boston 2024!?

Yes, you read that right – an exclamation point and a question mark.

My fair city has been put forth as the US candidate to host the 2024 summer Olympics.  If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I adore the Olympics.  I love the cheesy ceremonies, the serious politics that get brought up when we all get together to hit a few balls around (see: the Russian government’s stance on homosexuality), the live-tweeting and medal hysteria, the theme songs and backstories to make us care even more when they miss that shot/jump/step.

But here?  I’m… skeptical.

The mega fan in me says that this is the chance of a lifetime.  I don’t really care about claims that “without the Olympics, Boston can never be world class” – if we cared, you’d know by know, world.  But to have the games here, where my friends and I can go volunteer, cheer, show off our history and cannolis, winding streets and brick buildings – I love that part of bringing the games to Boston.

Yet the critic in me says that the games are never done right – people on the margins of the host city always suffer, along with the the city’s budget.  Plus, our transportation system is as antique as our state’s stance on alcohol (no discounts ever, not even allowed to use Groupons to get cheaper booze, etc.).  If it’s going to take them 52 weekends over 3 years to fix the Longfellow Bridge just so two trains can move on it at once, how can we possibly get ready to host a global event in a mere 9 years? (Note: that statement makes me feel old. I used to think tomorrow was far away!)

The good news is that no one asked me… yet.  The city claims that they’re going to hold public conferences to let people be involved in the planning process.  And to be fair, the process seems good so far – lots of plans to reuse college campuses for housing and events and such.  Plus, this might be the GIANT kick in the rear that we need to bring our transportation system into the late 19th century (let’s not get too excited here – the 20th is still ages away).

At the end of the day, I trust my city to try to do this right, as much as any city can – now, let’s see if we get the chance!

What do you think about Boston being picked to host the Olympics?  Do you think it would be a good or bad move for the city, state, and residents?

Kitchen Adventures, Olympic Edition: Pineapple Upside-down Cake

What better way is there to celebrate the Olympics than by singing to Daft Punk eating the Olympic rings? None.  We adapted a classic pineapple upside-down cake to fit into the Olympic spirit, rainbow rings and all.  Make your own before the games end on February 23, and let me know how it goes!

Olympic Pineapple Upside-Down Cake (adapted from good old Betty Crocker)

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons margarine or butter
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar (slightly less for Olympic version)
  • Red, green, and blue food coloring
  • 1 can sliced pineapple, drained (will only use 5 rings for Olympic version) – save the juice, too!
  • 1 1/3 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  1. Pat dry 5 pineapple rings – they don’t have to be too dry, just enough so that the color won’t run. In 4 separate containers, mix one drop of food color with a splash of pineapple juice, then lay one ring of pineapple in each color (red, blue, green, and one with a tiny bit of each to make black).  Yellow is just the plain pineapple ring.  Don’t flip the rings (since we only want the color on the top), but do move them around the container a bit to get all the dye onto them.
  2. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Heat butter in a 10-inch cake pan.
  3. While the butter is melting, combine flour through egg in a mixer, and beat at low speed for 30 seconds, scraping bowl occasionally. Then beat at high speed for 3 minutes, scraping bowl as you go.
  4. Arrange pineapple slices color-side-down in the butter, then sprinkle brown sugar in a thin layer over the remaining butter, so there’s either a pineapple or brown sugar coating the entire base of the pan.
  5. Bake for 45-55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove, and immediately invert over a plate, keeping the pan on top for a few minutes.  Remove and reveal your pineapples, then serve warm.

Enjoy with a mug of hot cocoa while cheering on your favorite Olympians.

Music Monday: Bringing “home” the gold

You know that song you get stuck in your head after watching the American gymnasts at the Olympics?  You can blame Phillip Phillips for that one.  His hit “Home” is apparently the theme of the Fab Five.  I didn’t hear him when he was on – and won – American Idol this year, but this song is definitely catchy.  What do you think?

Broken records

It’s been a long week, so today let’s reflect on almost one week of Olympic splendor (marred only briefly by some badminton players intentionally throwing a game and rightfully getting thrown out…).  For your Thursday enjoyment, I bring you two articles about all those Olympic records we’ve seen shattered this week.

See how current competitors stand up against past ones, in terms of record-breaking times and expectations here.

Ever wondered why some Olympic records get broken and other’s don’t?  Find out here.

Hope you have a gold-medal push into the end of the week!

Swimmers that make you look twice

… and not because they’re amazingly fit (in the American and British sense of the word), but because of the ridiculous faces some of them make while diving.  My favorites:

 

 

Though the men make some pretty awesome faces too – there’s a larger, glorious collection here.  Hope you’re enjoying the games – slow-motion and everything!

The girls’ team

** Spoiler alert, but only if you’re living in a bubble and don’t know the results from Sunday’s swimming competition yet.**

Did you know:

  • Women’s soccer has only been an Olympics sport since 1996 (ridiculous).
  • Women’s floor exercises in gymnastics are longer than men’s (70-90 seconds as opposed to 60-70 seconds) and use music, while men do not.
  • Dana Vollmer broke the 100M fly world record and scored the gold for Team USA this weekend.
  • This is the first year that all participating nations have women competing.
  • It’s also the first year that Team USA has more women than men competing.
  • Women are boxing for the first time in London, though they had a demonstration competition in 1904.  (Who dropped the ball in the meantime, ladies??)  With this advance, there are no remaining summer sports where women can’t compete.
  • In 1900, Charlotte Chattie Cooper was the first woman to win an Olympic title when she defeated her French counterpart in the women’s singles final (tennis).
  • After female athletes collapsed during track competitions in 1928 and were criticized for being “unfeminine” and “undignified”, they were banned from racing further than 200M, a ruling that stood at the Olympic level for 32 years.
  • In beach volleyball, women are required to wear two-piece uniforms, and there’s a maximum size for the bikini bottom.  (Yes, really.)

What amazing women have you been watching this week?  And what great ladies will you be cheering for as the Olympics continue?

That’s the name of the game

** Spoiler alert, if you have no clue what’s going on in women’s gymnastics.**

For those of you who are upset about Jordyn Wieber not making it into the gymnastics all-around, I suggest you go read Gold by Chris Cleave.  It’s an amazing Olympic novel about a pair of track cyclists who race for their livelihoods when their sport changes to allow only one woman per country to race at the London Olympiad.  Not only does it boast some awesome characters and a riveting plot (and, unlike his book Little Bee, I can read it without wanting to be sick), but it paints a new picture of Olympic competition – and what happens even before medals are awarded.

Because the fact of the matter is, these are sports we’re talking about.  They’re not always fair or objective, and there are made to be winners and losers – sometimes even on the same team.  Yes, Jordyn is the world champion – but that might just mean that on the day of the world championship, she did better than anyone else.  And yesterday wasn’t her day – Aly and Gabby simply outperformed her.  It could happen to anyone.  Whether or not it’s fair to limit each country to 2 max participants in the all-around is another issue, but Jordyn knew that going into it, and probably wouldn’t have cared about the fairness as long as she was one of the two.  It’s not like allowing the top 3 – as in previous years – is inherently more fair.

What do you think?  Was Jordyn scored unfairly?  Do these rules make any sense?  Is it weird that a competition to promote unity and conversation among nations is so focused on winners and losers?  Weigh in below!