QISE Review - Rio Edition - Day 16 by Mark

We’ve reached the end of the line...
  • The Peacock’s big event last night was Matt Lauer’s interview with Mr. Lochtegate himself—it was hyped throughout the evening and showed late.  Then, they held what are presumably the best bits to air on the Today Show on Monday.
  • Lochte apparently considers himself a hero because he waited to recant his lie until the other swimmers were back in the US.  Meanwhile, the network accidentally created a social media story after Al Roker went off on Lochte apologist Billy Bush on the Today show.  Or perhaps it was planned so the Peacock could hedge their bets?
  • In any case, Lochte is watching his endorsements evaporate en masse.  Oh, and the QISEOC says there will be further actions taken against the swimmers—cue the synchronized slapping of wrists...
  • Hey, we finally got Rhythmic Gymnastics on the Peacock mothership—at least for an hour.
  • Worst QISE commercial? People being shocked that Chevrolet has a car elevator.
  • Prime time began with Costas and Michaels at the Rio Apple Store, tempting fate by saying how things went off without a major hitch. Guys—you’ve still got the Closing Ceremonies...
  • Speaking of—Tirico, Seacrest, and Carillo walked us through another soggy QISE finale (“curated” for your protection).
  • Dancers dressed up as red clay dolls? Not creepy at all.
  • The Prime Minister of Japan just changed into Super Mario so he could get to the Closing Ceremony on time! There’s no doubt that the Tokyo 2020 games will be bizarre.
That will do it. I’ll be back in 2018 with Winter QISE coverage from PyeongChang!

QISE Review - Rio Edition - Day 15 by Mark

Starting with the previous night...
  • Men’s platform diving began with a mini-doc on British diver Tom Daley. The beginning made me think I was watching a Calvin Klein “Obsession” ad, but it turned into something that used to be common during QISE—an “up close and personal” story about his coming out as gay.
  • Costas seemed annoyed to hand off a shortened prime time session last night to a “special” episode of the “hit comedy” SuperStore—almost as annoyed as the viewers were, I suspect.  It didn’t help that they were running several minutes late, so if you were DVRing the games, you were screwed.
  • There were a lot of team sports during daytime coverage—volleyball, basketball, water polo—so I may have burned out the fast forward button on my DVR’s remote.  I think I got through 4 hours of coverage in about 15 minutes.  The Triathlon was interesting, though.
  • Prime Time began awkwardly, with a cold open showing the climax of the gold medal soccer match (Brazil won, so I doubt anyone in Rio cares about anything else tonight), then a quick cut to yet more live running!
  • Coming up next, the Men’s 4x400 relay fina—sorry, we’re breaking in for local weather coverage!  That continued for over 10 minutes, during which time the weatherman repeated the same info about 400 times.  I know the local station has a responsibility, but isn’t that why they have two other digital channels?  I’m sure they would hate to break into a Law & Order: SVU rerun being shown in the wrong resolution, but maybe they could make an exception for QISE?
  • BTW—during the weather fiasco, I determined that the Peacock’s online “live” coverage is at least 90 seconds behind the broadcast.
One more day left...

QISE Review - Rio Edition - Day 14 by Mark

Starting with the previous night..
  • Lochtegate has given Costas actual screen time beyond prime time intros and wrapups. We got to see the gas station security cams that prove the robbery story was fabricated. The QISEOC clearly wants this to go away, asking reporters to “give them a break”. Basically, boys will be boys.
  • By the next morning, Lochte and the QISEOC admitted the lie. Another swimmer, Jimmy Feigen, paid $11,000 to a charity to get his passport back. I guess you can buy your way out on minor offenses in Brazil. The other two swimmers were allowed to leave as well.
  • We also learned that Rio is covered by security cameras—the authorities literally showed a timeline taking them from point to point, all the way to the infamous gas station.
  • I’ve heard many turns of phrase in diving commentary, but last night was a new one from Cynthia Potter - “She is diving lights out”. So her eyes are closed? Huh?
  • The Peacock suffered from technical problems that shut down the MTV Beach House, forcing Costas to lead off late night from the Rio Apple Store, then going to a rerun of the US Volleyball loss. Oops! Maybe Ryan Seacrest is hanging out with Lochte...
  • During the daytime coverage I heard a dichotomy between the elegant Equestrian event and Melanie Smith-Taylor’s comment after a missed jump—“What a bummer!"
  • More and more running heats in prime time. Meanwhile, we got about 3 minutes of BMX coverage this afternoon, and I’ve yet to see rhythmic gymnastics. Guess I will need to go online to see that.
More to come.

 

QISE Review - Rio Edition - Day 13 by Mark

Starting with the previous night...
  • You can tell the events are starting to wind up. We’re getting more mini-documentaries and human interest stories. I particularly enjoyed Mary Carillo’s segment on “The Girl from Ipanama” (who actually exists, BTW) which ran at the end of prime time.
  • Lochtegate continues—security footage has been released of the swimmers in a drunken brawl at a Rio gas station (now the most popular media spot in the country), breaking down a bathroom door. I guess they didn’t want to wait for the key attached to a board?  There’s other footage showing the group returning to the QISE village that morning in good spirits, which doesn’t jibe with just being robbed. Not looking good...
  • On a more serious note, British sports reporter Charlie Webster, after biking 3000 miles from the UK to Rio, is now fighting a rare malaria strain in the hospital there. She’s in an induced coma as of this writing. With all the Zika talk, tropical diseases haven’t gotten a lot of attention.
  • QISE always schedules events to leave some time open at the end in case of weather issues, etc. We’re reaching that point—the Peacock showed a 60 minute documentary on gymnastic coach legends Bela and Marta Karolyi this afternoon. I suspect they will show it again Sunday night before or during the Closing Ceremonies.
  • With a lack of network coverage, I turned to the Peacock website. Overall, I was impressed with the video quality. It came up relatively quickly and was quite crisp. There are too many commercials, but that has nothing to do with the technology.  The layout was a little confusing—different screens would take you to the same content.
More to come.

QISE Review - Rio Edition - Day 12 by Mark

Starting with the previous night...
  • The Peacock has been burying men’s gymnastics since the US team has not done well (not supporting this, but that’s Peacock QISE procedure). So it was humorous to hear Tim Daggett be genuinely surprised when a US performance went very well.
  • Another weird QISE/movie tie-in, this time for what is a reportedly terrible Ben-Hur remake—why a remake, and why the tie-in?
  • If all the scandals in Rio haven’t been enough, now we’re hearing that an executive QISEOC member was arrested for ticket scalping.  So the bribes weren’t enough?  In any case, the stands have been half empty—how could you scalp the tickets anyway?
  • The effect of scalping could explain why the good seats at the Gymnastics Gala were almost completely empty today.  Sure, there's no judging going on, but I think this would be a premium event.
  • This must be scandal day at QISE. Ryan Lochte, who was ordered to stay in Rio during the investigation of the previously mentioned robbery, has in fact returned to the US. It’s not even confirmed that the robbery even occurred. Not sure if this will become an international incident or not.  I guess if I was robbed at gunpoint, I would skedaddle as well. My guess? Rio doesn’t like the optics of fake police robbing people, and the QISEOC want the story of ticket scalping to be buried by this one, so they are working together to create this controversy.  Get out your tinfoil hats...
More to come.

QISE Review - Rio Edition - Day 11 by Mark

Starting with the previous night...
  • I think it’s a bit of hyperbole when a gymnast makes a single mistake, and it’s considered to be “stunning".
  • First we get a green pool, and now gale force winds for a diving event.  Who's idea was it to have an outdoor diving venue?
  • Costas interviewed Shaun White, a Winter QISEian, because...?
  • Back at the Rio Apple Store in prime time, Costas did his nightly mega-tease, then off to the track for more races with and without hurdles. It's impressive how the Peacock can take an event that lasts seconds and turn it into an entire segment.
  • Hey, we’ve got a doping controversy!  Costa went over a litany of offenses, including a major competitor in the women’s 1500m race. The QISEOC even retroactively stripped the 2008 Chinese team of a medal. You can see a Costas interview about this—if you go to the Peacock QISE website...
More to come.

QISE Review - Rio Edition - Day 10 by Mark

Starting with the previous night...
  • More gems from Gymnastics color commentator Tim Daggett:
    • “There’s a required rollout move, named for” and I immediately said “Bob Rollout"
    • “I don’t know what it takes to become a king, but he’s the king of it"
  • The Peacock crew must have been out partying last night—I kept hearing extraneous audio on the Today Show.  I’m not talking some mumbling; more like “how far are we taking this interview?"
  • A number of team events today—yawn.  Thank goodness for DVRs and fast-forwarding.
  • Rio continues to see weather issues. A dock planned as the start of open-water swimming basically sank, and various track events have been delayed. I know you can’t control the weather, but picking a site where it’s currently winter (if a warm one) may not have been the best idea.
  • With a lack of blog-worthy stories today, I’ll note the following: Clayton Murphy won the bronze in the 800m race today. He’s from Paris, OH, close to my hometown of North Canton. The last US winner of the 800m was Dave Wottle from Canton in 1972. My mom was a nurse at the time, and gave Dave his shots to go to Munich.
More to come.

 

QISE Review - Rio Edition - Day 9 by Mark

Starting with the previous night...
  • The Peacock gets the gold in teasing!
    • 10:32p Eastern: Phelps’ final medal ceremony coming up, but first let’s take a look at random events of the day…
    • 10:34p: We’ll be back with Phelps’ medal ceremony, right after this!
    • 10:37p: A review of the swim relays
    • 10:42p: A rerun of Usain Bolt’s preliminary 100m sprint from earlier that day
    • 10:47p: We’ll be back with Phelps’ medal ceremony, right after this!
    • 10:51p: Still getting ready for that medal ceremony, so let’s go back to the track...
    • 11:01p: Another segment at the track
    • 11:08p Yet another segment at the track
    • 11:12p: We have medal ceremony!!!
    • Total tease time: 40 minutes
  • Women’s Marathon not boring enough for you? Let’s go over to golf! <zzzzzz>
  • 9 days in, and I finally saw the amorphous blob that is Rio’s mascot. I guess it’s a cat?
  • As the afternoon begins, we get synchronized swimming as a palate cleanser. All I can think of is the old SNL routine.
  • Ugh—more golf.  The color commentator sounds like Uncle Joe from Petticoat Junction.
  • Then it's the equestrian competition. I'm always expecting Thurston Howell III to show up. " Buffy, if you don't get the gold we'll never be able to show our faces at the Polo Club."
  • The Peacock reported that Ryan Lochte and three other athletes were robbed at gunpoint last night. I wonder why the spectator stands are almost empty...
More to come...

 

QISE Review - Rio Edition - Day 8 by Mark

Starting with the previous night...
  • The Peacock somehow ran out of events, so the last half hour of prime time was a taped bit from the pair of Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir, followed by a Costas interview with Katie Ledecky.
  • Another Ledecky interview kicked off the morning coverage at the MTV Beach House. One of the basic concepts in camerawork is called “headroom”—giving the subject a little bit of room above their head onscreen. The Peacock cameraman needs to remember that—you know she’s tall, so you should actually compensate for that!
  • Another technical flub immediately followed—they took what was clearly a different audio feed than the rowing onscreen. Did the Peacock crew go out for drinks last night?
  • The Track and Field events are on—I noticed the sprinters, both men and women, are wearing lots of jewelry.  Good luck charms? Wouldn’t they get in your way, or slightly slow you down?
  • The commentators kept referring to Usain Bolt as “the great one”. All I could think of was Jackie Geason in the 100m dash.
  • I’m seeing a number of mini-up-close-and-personals for the Track and Field stars, about 30 seconds long, all of which end with a Ken Burns-esque title graphic. Very artsy, Peacock!
More to come...

 

QISE Review - Rio Edition - Day 7 by Mark

Starting with the previous night...
  • Women’s gymnastics, as always, is turned into a soap opera by the Peacock. “Will Simone find success? Will Aly triumph over adversity? Tune in after the break!"
  • Also, is Al Traugwig a dog in disguise? I clearly heard him say “woof” at one point during a bad routine.
  • You know, I’m DVRing all of this, which means I take the risk of missing something when they run late. Such is the case of the women’s gymnastics award ceremony, which cut off just as they got on the podium. Why did this run late?  It wasn’t live—I thought that was the whole reason the Peacock wanted to “curate” this?  This was a cynical move to bump ratings for the local news that followed it.  Oh well—I can see it online...
  • Trampolining is similar to bowling, in that you start thinking to yourself “I could perform at that level if I practiced enough”.  Then you see how high they go—so maybe not.
  • That thudding sound you might have heard this afternoon was the Peacock’s ratings crashing to the ground after the US women were eliminated in the soccer tournament.
  • Just when I thought we would never see a podium ceremony where the Stars and Stripes were not played, here comes the Men’s 100m Butterfly. Of course, it might have been because Phelps got a silver (shared with two others).
More to come.

 

QISE Review - Rio Edition - Day 6 by Mark

Starting with the previous night...
  • Everybody get on the Michael Phelps hype train—right, Peacock!  It’s impressive that he’s doing so well, but they don’t need to make it into a soap opera.
  • Tim Daggett - unbiased gymnastics color commentator during a US men’s routine: “Uhhh, booyy”
  • I normally try to skip commercials, but I’m enjoying the Nike ad where the athletes get out of control and the announcer tries to talk them down.
  • Would someone explain the bizarre QISE/Star Wars promotion?  Are the Rebels going for the gold? Is Michael Phelps a Jedi? This is a major misfire.
  • Speaking of Phelps—the hype machine is now white hot. “The last time for Michael Phelps!!!” I’m pretty sure they said that in London.
  • Hey Peacock—there’s already enough swimming without showing semi-finals in prime time...
More to come.

QISE Review - Rio Edition - Day 5 by Mark

Starting with the previous night--
  • …and here’s why gymnastics was “curated” and not live. It allowed the Peacock to split it out and show the finale near 10:30p Eastern, dragging the audience through endless swimming rounds.
  • I’m sure the Peacock doesn’t want to annoy the host city, but I’m hearing very little about the bizarre green water in the diving pool. Other sources are showing a second pool across from it with a normal blue color. Officials are saying it’s fine, but the literal optics are bad, considering the concerns over polluted water in the open water events.  I’m no chemist, but I bet this could be easily fixed.
  • I always enjoy Jimmy Roberts' taped reports. In a sea of hype about the big stars, he covers small stories that are often quite touching. He did one today about a US kayaker born in Poland who could have easily played for their team but chose to go the harder route and get a spot on the US squad
  • The Peacock can’t seem to catch a break. Poor weather in Rio resulted in a signature prime time event—women’s beach volleyball—with the athletes wearing more clothing than they would like.
  • The danger of Peacock commentators concentrating on the US team? Not noticing the guy from Kazakhstan winning the Men’s 200m Breaststroke.
More to come.

QISE Review - Rio Edition - Day 4 by Mark

Starting with the previous night--
  • Due to either luck or design, the “lower third” graphics in the Men’s Synchronized Swimming, combined with their small swimsuits, made it look like we were watching Skinemax for awhile.
  • I see that the Peacock decided to bury the Men’s Gymnastics implosion late into the evening.
  • OMG - HOW MANY TIMES WILL THEY SHOW US MICHAEL PHELPS' MEAN FACE???
  • If the women's gymnastics finals looked a little slicker than some of the other competitions, that's because it was "curated" and not live.  The results were announced on social media before the broadcast even began.
  • The gymnasts always have some makeup, but at the finals, it appears a paintball gun was involved.
  • In a toss-up women’s swim that was hyped endlessly, the Peacock put up a split screen of the swimmers at the start and Michael Phelps sitting in a chair. One of these is more interesting than the other...
More to come...

QISE Review - Rio Edition - Day 3 by Mark

Starting with the previous night--
  • Why are these events being scheduled so late?  Keep in mind Rio is an hour later than Eastern time. Phelps’ relay swim was held around midnight local time—that’s ridiculous.
  • Rowdy Gaines’ swimming commentary is a paradox, giving gentle advice while he screams. “HE NEEDS TO CALM DOWN!!! PACE YOURSELF!!! DON’T OVER-SWIM IT!!!!"
  • Can’t say I’m impressed by the Peacock’s audio work. There’s a lot of chatter in the background that is clearly caused by hot mikes that need to be muted.
  • I’m scanning through the Today Show to see how they are doing. They had a segment that featured the gals ogling the Tonga flag holder. At one point, the rubbed oil on him. Really? For a “news” show?
  • Also in the category of “something for the ladies”—during the men’s synchronized swimming, the Peacock seems to be spending a lot of time showing the competitors showering off between dives...
  • I guess society’s lack of civility has even made it to QISE.  As a result of the Russian doping scandal, swimmer Yulia Efimova was audibly booed before her race.  I can’t remember that happening before.
More to come.

 

QISE Review - Rio Edition - Day 2 by Mark

We’re starting with the previous night...
  • In an awkward moment for both QISE and the Peacock, the Switzerland / China beach volleyball match ended in a dispute call. Then, Costas threw to an unrelated Tom Brokaw piece which got interrupted 30 seconds in when the judge’s decision was reversed and play continued for another minute.  This forced Costas into a “do-over” introduction.
  • Ryan Seacrest then took over at the MTV Beach Pa—sorry, QISE Late Night.  He was joined by two supermodels for some reason—it’s like Sabato Gigante: US Edition.  Ryan’s lack of height is really emphasized next to them.
  • The Peacock commentators are always biased for the home team, but Tim Daggett on gymnastics is beyond the pale. He routinely dismisses US errors, but listen for the “oohs” and sucking in of breath when other counties make a boo-boo.
  • The daytime team of Mike Tirico, Dan Patrick, and Al Michaels (with one handing off to another relay style) don’t seem to have much to do: “That was cycling, onto volleyball…"
  • What is the obsession of QISE host cities with building outdoor diving facilities?  You can clearly hear police sirens in the background, which I doubt helps the concentration of the athletes.
  • Women’s gymnastics is underway—let the “up close and personals” commence! Sequins as far as the eye can see! Unbridled hype!
  • In a bizarre cross-promotion, Olympic clips were mixed into an ad for the next Star Wars movie—huh?
More tomorrow.

QISE Review - Rio Edition - Day 1 by Mark

In the first full day of competition (again, not counting the three days of soccer and archery)...
  • Al Michaels kicks it off, looking like he just got off the tour bus after a business conference.
  • Rowing camera coverage seems a bit better than before, with multiple angles thanks to cameras mounted to overhead cables.
  • It was mentioned that there were hand sanitizers for the open water competitors, due to concerns with water quality and bacteria.  Based on the alarming nature of the news stories, I would be asking for a Silkwood shower.
  • The US got their first gold medal in the games in the Air Rifle competition.  I’m guessing other countries are thinking “of course the US is good at shooting things”.
  • Costas is back at the Rio Apple Store in prime time, handing us off to Men’s Gymnastics.  If you’re looking for breathless commentary, you’re in the right place.
  • Are they separately miking the gym equipment?  There’s a lot of banging and creaking going on.
  • Ugh—Michael Phelps is a great swimmer, we get it!  Can we move on?
Speaking of moving on—more tomorrow.

 

QISE Review - Rio Edition - Day Zero by Mark

First off—why “day zero”? Because it’s QISE tradition that the opening ceremony is on Day Zero, which begins the whole shebang. (Never mind that early rounds of soccer and the entire archery competition is over.)
Okay, so Day Zero...
  • The network has waited since the 1996 Atlanta Games to show the event live in the Eastern Time Zone. With Rio in the Atlantic Zone (only one hour off), it’s all live, all the time, right?  Well mostly—the Opening Ceremony and gymnastics will be “curated” and shown “slightly" later.  Translation: edited within an inch of it’s life in order to jam in more ads.
  • Many of the Peacock family are missing the big show due to concerns over the Zika virus.  Savannah Guthrie and Dylan Dreyer of the Today Show are both pregnant so they stayed home.  For any on-air talent of child-bearing age in Rio now—how exactly did you explain it to your significant other?  “Sorry, honey, it’s my big break!"
  • This leaves old fogies Lauer, Vieira, and Kotb to host the Opening Ceremony, with Costas standing by at what I’m calling the Rio Apple Store.
  • So, the ceremony—it wouldn’t be QISE without extras from Tron holding aluminum pillows, creepy puppets, the history of the host country via a Cirque du Soleil routine, the cast of Solid Gold, and multicolored Cousin Itts.
  • In an unusual move, Rio QISE decided to include an educational message about global climate change. Fox News viewers—avert your eyes.
  • In the Parade of Nations, when they mentioned concerns about Germany, I immediately thought of “The Boys from Brazil”. Nope—just a previous soccer loss.

Tomorrow—the Games truly get underway.

Quadrennial International Sporting Event (QISE) Review - Rio Edition - Day Negative 1 by Mark

Citius, Altius, Zikius.

It seems like only two years ago when I covered QISE for the last Winter Games, but here we are again.  (I am avoiding the O-word as to not annoy the QISE Organizing Committee’s attorneys).  As before, I will concentrate on the spectacle and media over the actual events—you can get coverage for that anywhere.  It’s all about the ceremony, the histrionics, the commercials, and how the Peacock network, desperate for a hit, can pull in the viewers.

We are still cord cutters, so the 260 hours of network coverage will have to suffice, along with whatever online stuff I can get. There’s also social networks, which have only become more powerful.

You can expect controversies and scandals surrounding any QISE, but we have a bumper crop in Rio.  The Zika virus, polluted water, unfit athlete housing, rampant crime, a failing local economy, plus the normal corruption that seems to follow the event.  Let’s see if they can pull it off.


Tomorrow—let the games begin! (I know some events have already started, but…)

Southern Sweep - Day 9 and Wrap Up by Mark

Like most vacations, it's great to visit, but it's nicer to get home. Unfortunately, we left the longest drive for the last day--Memphis to Columbus.  So no pics for today--it would be a lot of freeways and construction.

We stopped at a very pretty Starbucks in Jackson, TN that might be the least organized location in their chain. You would think if you were paying by phone and knew exactly what you wanted, it would be easy. However, we got a barrista who I assume was a trainee and didn't know how a register worked, that "rewards" could be redeemed, or how to complete an order.  I think we could have made the breakfast sandwiches and coffee at the side of the road more quickly. We knew there was a problem when two of the same order appeared.  They were nice--just untrained.

I drove, Mindy drove, the other dozed in the car, drive, drive, drive--repeat.

The temperature dropped as we went, forcing us to hit a rest stop and change from shorts to pants.

We stopped at a Skyline Chili in the Cincinnati area (if you haven't had their 3-way, stop reading and drive to Cincinnati), and we ordred, were served, ate, paid, and left in less time than the Starbucks order took.

As nightime arrived, we made it to the Schmidbauer homestead.

Overall, the trip was a lot of fun, we got to see our nieces, ate some great food, and saw giant animals. What's not to like?  We're discussing a Western Sweep next--but first some sleep in our own bed.

Southern Sweep - Day 8 by Mark

Niece #3 - Betsy, who lives on the Texas side of Texarkana with her husband Kai and two kids.  We got a picture to document the event just outside the IHOP.

Back on the road--and a chance to stand astride two states. The county courthouse was built on the border to save money--go to the left for Texas cases, and to the right for Arkansas cases.

On the way to Memphis, we stopped at the biggest scam since the casino--the Crater of Diamonds State Park.

Site of an ancient volcano, they offer the chance to dig through a field for real diamonds--at only $8 plus the cost of shovels, buckets, etc.  It drew a decent crowd, including us.

We made it to Memphis in time for BBQ at the legendary Germantown Commissary.

The pile of meat in a bowl? That's a salad.

Logy and tired, we made it to the hotel. 

Tomorrow--driving, driving, driving, and wrapping it up.