final olympic update

Sunday night: Saw the closing ceremonies. Quite a spectacle, bizarrely humorous at times (really, Kiss with Kristi Yamaguchi?), awe-inspiring at others (that fireworks show was life changing). Then went out with Juliet and Filip from the NY Daily News to P.F. Chang’s, which is apparently the only restaurant in downtown SLC that thought: “Hey, maybe we should stay open after the closing ceremonies are over at 9 p.m., even though it’s Sunday and this is Utah.”
P.F. Chang’s had also been celeb-spotting central at the Games — Gretzky was there all the time, I understand — so it wasn’t too surprising to see Katarina Witt walk in. Yowzers. Anyway, I’d had a total of one beer in SLC before Sunday night, a Bud at a hockey game, so it was my first real brush with Utah liquor law.
(Aside: One impact of Utah’s alcohol-free legacy is that there’s very little beer-pouring knowledge in the general population. When I asked the volunteer at the hockey game to pour me a beer, he just put a cup under the tap and let her rip, which meant I got roughly 50% foam, 50% beer.)
Anyway, I ordered a Tsingtao to go with my ginger chicken, then, when I was about 80% done with it, ordered another one. The waitress brought it over, then told me she could not put it on my table until the previous beer was all gone. Evidently, you can’t have more than one beer on the table per person at a time in Utah. So I drank up.
Then we went to Squatters, a brewpub across the street, for more alcohol weirdness. All the beer on tap was 3.2, although they had some bottles of regular strength. But last call for regular beer was midnight (!), with last call for 3.2 at 12:45. Saw Dave Barry again; I’m normally not the biggest fan, but he had some good Olympic columns.
Monday: Ran a bunch of errands, bought a lot of souvenirs, traded all the DMN Olympic pins I had for other crappy Olympic pins, then promptly lost them all on the bus ride to the airport. The airport, where I waited four hours for my flight. Grrr. Finally got home around 1 a.m. Tuesday morning, only to find that the key to my apartment door didn’t work anymore. It took me half an hour of pushing and prodding to get into my apartment, only to find it as messy as when I left it three weeks earlier.
Tuesday: Back to reality — a day spent at an educational assessment conference in the Dallas ‘burbs. Yes, I’m an education reporter, and I must be reminded of this fact. Then headed out to Jessica‘s birthday party. Then sleep. Sleep is good.
Don’t worry, everybody — I’ll soon realize that my post-Olympic life is much less interesting than my Olympic life, so you can expect me to transition soon from day-by-day accounting of my existence back into “wacky” links, snide commentary, and the other “features” that made “famous.”

us-russia hockey, osmonds, slalom

Did you know that the Osmonds’ “Hold Her Tight” has the exact same bass line and drum part as Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song”? As soon as they start cranking out that familiar “dumdumdumDUMdum, dumdumdumDUMdum” last night, I half-expected Merrill Osmond to start wailing, “We come from the land of the ice and snow / From the midnight sun where the hot springs blow…”
(Oh, this is so unfair — I thought that was an original observation, but a quick Googling found that others have noticed before me. Damn.)
Anyway, caught the US-Russia hockey game yesterday, which was tremendous. I’m a pretty big sports fan, but I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know a damned thing about hockey. (And I’ve never skied. Growing up in south Louisiana will do that to a guy.) But it was a joy to watch, top-notch play on both sides. Shame the Russkis have to keep whining about everything like the All-Time Cold War Losers they are. As a wise man once said: too bad, so sad.
Then headed out to rural Lehi, Utah, to see the Osmond Brothers in concert. They’re so easy to make fun of. They sing a bunch of corny songs, interspersed with impossibly corny jokes (sample: “I’ve traveled so much, I can say Kaopectate in 12 languages”; “If at first you don’t succeed, skydiving is not for you”). They played to an audience 90-percent AARP-eligible, some of them probably old enough to remember the days when polygamy was still an okay Mormon doctrine. But they do seem like genuinely nice people, and they brought enormous joy to their audience. And while their whole baseball, Mom, apple pie, and Joseph Smith schtick has a high cheese factor, folks loved it. I actually had a great time. (And again, every Utahn I interviewed was as nice and open as could be, despite what must have been a real suspicion I was out to do a hit on the Osmonds. I was, after all, out-of-town media.)
Plus, there was even a surprise Donny appearance, so all was right in the world.
In my quest to squeeze in as many actual events as possible before I leave, I spent the morning out in Park City, watching the men’s slalom. I’m about to go see the finals of the four-man bobsled this afternoon, then hopefully squeeze in a little more short-track tonight. Fun, fun. I finished my Osmonds story at midnight last night, so I am officially done with all my stories (well, except for covering the closing ceremonies, but that’s not very hard). Woo hoo!

sxsw hotel

Want the chance to spend a little time with Mr. Crabwalk himself? (And who in their right mind doesn’t?) I’m going to SXSW next month, and I’m looking for someone to share my hotel room. I have a double at the Wellesley Inn & Suites on Town Lake.
The cost is $79 a night plus tax. Splitting the cost, it’ll probably be around $50 a night — well under what you can get at any hotel around downtown. And I’m not planning on spending much non-sleep time in the room, so we shouldn’t get sick of each other. Email me at jbenton AT if you’re interested.