• Fancy eating in China

    Thu, August 28, 2008 by David Ramsey with no comments

    Ate at The Courtyard, Beijing’s most elegant restaurant, on my last night in the city. I was joined by soon-t0-be former Gazette sports columnist Milo Bryant and a couple East Coast sportswriter friends.

    The maitre-de tried his best – and he tried very diligently – to make  us uncomfortable with his haughty, you’re-not-good-enough-to-be-here demeanor, but he failed.  Our table had enough experience with uptight maitre-des back in the States to survive his snooty attacks.

    It was a fun night. We ate a few dozen yards away from the east gate to the Forbidden City. The food was great and the water was delicious. After finding out that we had paid $15 for the bottle of water, we understood the quality.

    Eating at a ridiculously pretentious, overpriced restaurant is one of the great pleasures of life. Once every two years or so, it’s smart to get a taste of the good life and discover that it is good, but not a nightly requirement.

      

  • Politics

    Fri, August 22, 2008 by David Ramsey with no comments

    I appreciate all the e-mails and letters that arrive in my box. I appreciate everyone who takes the time  to  write to my editor about my work.

    So there’s no rancor in this message. On Sunday, a reader from Monument complained that I “always” mix politics and sports. In the 51/2 years I’ve written columns for The Gazette, I might have used that mix a half-dozen times. My conservative friends didn’t appreciate my observations about Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity – who are entertainers, not politicians – and said  they were intensely against any intrusion of politics into The Gazette’s sports coverage.

     But in the most blatantly political of any of my Gazette columns, there were no complaints from my conservative brethren. I applauded George W. Bush for speaking against steroids in his State of the Union address. It was a brave moment in his presidency, one of his finest hours.

    And not one conservative reader had a problem with what I wrote.

  • Phelps, the hearthrob?

    Tue, August 19, 2008 by David Ramsey with 2 comments

    Millions of American females have fallen for Michael Phelps.

    One of those millions is my daughter, Ruth. I’m a little surprised. Phelps, America’s Swim King, is a bit of a nerd and a big-time momma’s boy.

    That’s fine with Ruth.

    “O.K., Phelps is a nerd but that term isn’t something that my generation sees as a bad thing,” Ruth told The Gazette in an exclusive interview. “I heard on the news
    that on Google one of the top 10 searches was Micheal Phelps’
    girlfriend. That just shows that every girl in America wants to date
    him, myself included. ”

    But isn’t Phelps less than handsome?

    “He does have a funny or ‘interesting’ face and his teeth are kinda odd. But I think the thing that makes him attractive is his drive and his amazing body. Also, watching the
    interviews he seems down to earth.”

    But what about the momma’s boy thing?

    “I was watching an interview and he was talking about his mom and it was so cute. I admire how he seems to be such a momma’s boy. That isn’t what most athletes portray.”

    Tell me more about this “nerds are cool” trend.

    “It is almost in style to like the nerds like Justin Timberlake. It is just right now Micheal
    Phelps is the nerd who is popular to like.”

    I understand. Kind of.

  • Showing your colors

    Mon, August 18, 2008 by David Ramsey with no comments

    When you attend sporting events here in Beijing, it’s not difficult to figure out where  journalists are from. They wear shirts that proclaim their nationality in big letters.

    Russians where Russia shirts. Serbians wear Serbia shirts. The message is clear. I’m here to support my homeland.

    Americans don’t wear America shirts.

    We embrace objectivity in American journalism. We try not to root for anybody. I can almost hear, even though I’m many,many miles from home, those who will howl about bias, but I disagree. American journalism is remarkably unbiased. When compared with the rest of the world, American journalists are bland. We stay away from opinion. We try to listen to both sides.

    Wish I could read Russian newspapers. I have a feeling the publications aren’t so strong when it comes to objectivity.

  • Soccer’s future in America

    Sat, August 16, 2008 by David Ramsey with no comments

    I’m worried about the  future of soccer in the United States. The U.S.  Olympic team played miserably against Nigeria, fumbling a chance to advance to the quarterfinals, but the team’s coach and players just wanted to indulge in happy talk after the game. No one wanted to tell the truth.

    The Americans had blown it. That’s the truth.

    After reading my column on the game, U.S. Soccer Federation communication manager Neil Buethe wrote an e-mail note. He questioned my soccer knowledge, which is fine. My soccer-freak son Caleb questions my soccer knowledge all  the time.

    What bothered me is the excuse-filled tone of the note and the way he,  too, tried to put a happy face on a sad game. The team’s players, he wrote, return to America “with their heads held high,  knowing they played excellent soccer.”

    Wait  a minute. ”Excellent soccer” doesn’t get anyone  sent home.  “Excellent soccer” keeps teams alive in tournaments, and the Americans are done.

    Happy, oblivious talk will doom  America’s soccer future. In Greece and Spain and Argentina, basketball players once faced the seemingly impossible challenge of defeating the United States. These players faced up reality’s hard truths, declined to make excuses and made their visions come true. They didn’t draw happy faces on defeats.

    The U.S. team failed in its mission here in Beijing and anyone who says they succeeded is standing in the way of  future success. If the U.S. wants to compete with the world’s powers - and I believe America will eventually rank as a world power -it must call failure what it is.

    Failure is failure. Pure and simple.

      

      

  • U.S. vs. Iran

    Tue, August 12, 2008 by David Ramsey with no comments

    I think it  would have made for a great scene.  The United States walking out on the basketball court  to face … Iran.

    Iran earned a place in the Olympic basketball tournament. It’s still tough for me to picture Iranians playing basketball, that pure American game, but they do. Not very well, mind you, but they do play.

    I asked U.S. point guard Deron Williams if he would have liked to play Iran.

    “Why you asking?” he said,  obviously not very happy.

    I told him it was a simple question. Would you have liked to play Iran.

    “I’m talking about basketball, not politics,” Williams said.

    I asked about basketball, not politics, but whatever. Maybe a battle on the basketball court would be good for relations between these archrivals.

    Maybe at the next Olympics.

  • Beijing traffic

    Mon, August 11, 2008 by David Ramsey with no comments

    One nice thing about America: At traffic lights, everyone stops. Doesn’t matter if you’re the governor or a teen. You stop when the light turns red.

    In Beijing, that isn’t so true. Black Audis, the car of choice for high-level government types, often come roaring through lights, with the driver honking the horn and flashing lights and demanding that all other cars get out of the way.

  • Cabs in Beijing

    Fri, August 8, 2008 by David Ramsey with 1 comment

    American journalists covering the Beijing Games are confronting a big problem.

    Cabs won’t pick them up.

    Most Chinese cab drivers don’t speak English and most – make that all – American journalists don’t speak Chinese. It appears Chinese cabbies want to avoid the hassle of trying to communicate with non-Chinese passengers.

    On Thursday night, I walked through the Olympic grounds to a restaurant. After our meal, we tried to walk back, but the grounds were blocked off in preparation for Opening Ceremonies. That left us with a long,  long walk. We tried hailing cabs. That didn’t work. One of my buddies even resorted to standing in the middle of the road.  That didn’t work, either. The cabs were just whiz by him.

    Finally, after a long wait, we found a friendly cabbie willing to work through the language barrier.  

  • Mastermind and playoffs

    Sat, August 2, 2008 by David Ramsey with 1 comment

    I like Mike Shanahan’s confidence. He announced on a Denver radio station broadcast that his Denver Broncos are “not going to miss the playoffs.” He also said the Broncos have “a chance to do something special once we get there.”

    Not so sure I like Shanahan’s grip on reality. His Broncos look depleted to me, lacking in offensive weapons and only so-so on defense. Unless Jay Cutler turns into the second coming of an in-his-prime Joe Montana, the Broncos look on their way to an 8-8 record. And that’s being optimistic.

    But, of course, the artist formerly known as the Mastermind – a description originated by Ryan Thorburn of the Boulder Daily Camera – disagrees. Shanahan all but guarantees a journey to the playoffs. He can have his Mastermind title back if he makes his words come true.