Someone assure me I’m not the one going insane. If I am, blame them anyway.

In the past, I’ve complained a little about my downstairs neighbors having loud parties all night long. Since I’ve complained about them, they’ve basically stopped, but my front apartment neighbors are still a bit of a problem. They don’t play music loud enough to be heard from across the house (midway through the house, sure), and they don’t really even have big enough of a house from what little I could tell to even hold parties, but they do play music intermittently at all hours of the day.

My bedroom is on the far side of the house from our shared wall. The room with the TV in it is in the near side of the house, with the couch flush up against the wall. Those are the two places where I can sleep in the house, or at least where I used to sleep until I had to deal with the guys downstairs and up front. Until recently, I never slept on the couch anymore because the people downstairs tended to play their music closer to the back of their house, which would be the front of the house overall, since their front door was in the back of the house overall. It didn’t always help to sleep in my bedroom, because the people downstairs tended to have people congregate in the parking lot, partly the result of Mom’s request that they not smoke inside. Well, I probably could barely smell the smoke anyway, but I did have to bear the full brunt of the noise with my room flush up against the parking lot. But I digress. The point is, I was at least able to drown out the noise of the parking lot because the clock in my bedroom is a clock radio, so I was able to turn on my own kind of music to drown them out and get to sleep.

But since the parties stopped, possibly the result of my mom calling the police a couple of times (dialing 911 to do so!) I had started drifting to the couch more often. Which brings me to tonight, or last night rather as you read this. Between the men’s basketball final (I erred in reporting in Sports Watcher that the basketball final would be delayed on the West Coast; NBC’s own web site was either not up-to-date on Friday or just plain wrong) and the closing ceremony on CBC, I could only give myself a little less than three hours of sleep, and with the music playing quite a bit louder than I would otherwise desire, I found myself pounding on the wall quite a bit more than I otherwise would during the basketball final, hoping it would get quiet enough for me to sleep on the couch but dreading it wouldn’t. When the music continued and wearing earplugs didn’t muffle the sound enough even with my ears facing away from the wall (I wouldn’t say no to an iPod with pre-loaded classical music and noise-cancelling headphones for Christmas), I decided to see if the fact that I could only have (at this point) two and a half hours of sleep, thus needing every minute of that sleep, because of events whose time I couldn’t change, and that I couldn’t simply move to my room, might produce just TWO AND A HALF HOURS OF QUIET, STARTING AT 2:20 IN THE MORNING, ONCE.

Instead the person who answered the door berated me. He seemed to start going on about a “job” and I was prepared to ask him when he worked and determine if having a bunch of music playing at 2:20 in the morning was not more of an impediment to that job than whatever I did in reaction to that music, but instead he demanded to know how old I was. He then told me that when he was my age (this guy can’t be older than 30, and I’m 20 already) he had to wake up for a job at 7:30 (I still was not able to ask whether he had to listen to music at 2:20 in the morning) and how dare I pound on the wall and come over and ask them to turn the music down for the sake of watching TV!

I started to walk back, slowly – well, I think that was what I was doing – but he had more: the people in both the front and downstairs apartments had resigned the lease, and they knew my mom wrote complaining letters every month about the noise, and apparently the landlord – I’m going from half-hour later memory here – came over every once in a while and laughed with them about it! Keep in mind, our family has lived in this house since like 1996 and this problem only started last year!

It’s at that point that I had to cry out in anguish to the heavens and anyone who would listen. HAS THE WHOLE WORLD GONE MAD? IS IT SUDDENLY NORMAL TO PLAY MUSIC IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT AS THOUGH AM HAS BECOME PM? But no sooner had I finished than this guy was brusquely shoving me down the path and wanting to have my mom come out (who wasn’t there at the time) and let me tell you, dear reader, if I wasn’t the proverbial 90-pound weakling I’d have started a knock-down fight with that guy right that instant. Hey, it’s 3 AM as I write this, you gotta excuse my potential windows into my more seedy side, but raise your hand if you’re just going “hell yeah!” instead. So he wanted to see my mom, and he was threatening to send me to the crazy house (for my little scream about how THEY were crazy) and that if I didn’t get back in that instant (he was standing in the way between me and the door) he’d knock my teeth out, and ditto if I so much as talked to him the rest of the night. And when I finally started heading back to the door he kept shoving me several more times in quick succession, apparently because my sleep-deprived body wasn’t jogging back to the door in fear.

I’ve gotten the impression that not just the multiplex I live in, but several more houses right near the closest arterial I live near, have become home to party-friendly, up-all-night, college students. Even ones way up on a high ridge. I’d say this is among the many reasons I can’t fathom how I could possibly be more motivated to get a real job, so I could move away from these people (or at least fix my reputation at school enough to move back to the dorms, which is sure to be made a lot harder by having to deal with this stuff and being sleep-deprived as a result), but that would essentially be admitting defeat. It would be giving up the neighborhood, which for over ten years was fairly idyllic and, well, livable, to the forces of unlimited beer, smokes, PARTY! and all sorts of other unseemly elements.

To paraphrase Mike Gundy, I’m a college student! I’m 20! I don’t subscribe to the theory that the night is a time to pump up the music (and, my mom suspects in the case of the people downstairs, smoke drugs so sleep literally becomes an unknown concept), I subscribe to the theory that it’s a time to sleep! Catch some Z’s! I actually care about getting my studies done! I have to wake up for a class that starts at 9 AM this coming quarter! I’m going to have to wake up at 7 AM or earlier to get ready in time! I can live a perfectly fulfilling life by being completely unconscious for, ideally, seven or eight hours a night – or at least I could, if I didn’t have to deal with people who feel differently! Perhaps, if these hooligans maybe tried shutting the music off once in a while, and put their head in their studies, or in the case of the people who have already ditched college or graduated with probably-grade-inflated scores, got actual jobs (because there’s no way they’re old enough and non-brain-damaged enough to have graduated and deserved it), they’d discover it to be at least as if not more fulfilling than throwing your f’ing life away every night!

EDIT: I forgot the part where this guy suggested I move my 27-inch TV that’s hooked up to a cable box, two VCRs, and a DVD player, and sits on a 36×48-inch piece of furniture. NOT gonna happen.

Sports Watcher for the Weekend of 8/23-24

All times PDT.

11-9 AM: Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, baseball bronze medal game, women’s handball gold medal game, baseball gold medal game, water polo semifinal, table tennis semifinals, men’s field hockey gold medal game (USA). Yes, that’s TONIGHT, in just one hour on the East Coast. If I were keeping track of any of this I’d give you pithy analysis, but all I can offer is: Can the Americans avenge their softball cousins? (I heard they lost to Japan in the gold medal game, is that right?) Oh, and pretend 6-7:30 AM isn’t part of this, that’s when the water polo semifinal is on.

9-5 PM: Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, medal finals in women’s basketball, rhythmic gymnastics, synchronized swimming, boxing, canoe/kayak, and women’s volleyball (NBC).

5-8:30 PM: NASCAR Sprint Cup Racing, Bristol race (ESPN). We just don’t have NASCAR on here enough.

9-11 PM: Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, men’s basketball bronze medal game (CNBC). Why the hell is Lithuania so good with no players I’ve heard of?

12:30-2:30 AM: Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, medal finals in table tennis, mountain biking, boxing, and track and field (NBC). Alternately, there’s a women’s volleyball match at midnight on Telemundo.

2:30-5 AM: Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, men’s basketball gold medal game (NBC). Warning: West Coast viewers get screwed again, because this is same on both coasts! In fact the semifinal game this morning was delayed even in the Central time zone, at least in Chicago! It seems the Olympics are indeed more popular on the West Coast than on the East, though that may just be because they always HAVE gotten delayed broadcasts. Some commenters on Awful Announcing suggested putting either the live broadcast or the delay on one of NBC’s cable networks, to get around the problem of people not being home at the right times. I have a better idea: We’ve been talking about digital TV and subchannels all week, why not stick the live feed on there? It’s likely to take away “Weather Plus” time, but it’s better than insulting a wide swath of your audience by telling them New York really is the center of the universe and actually making people beg for ESPN to save them, even people who are normally ESPN haters. I’m watching this, the Closing Ceremony on CBC, and then I’m done with the Olympics. (ESPN is on record as saying they would never think of delaying events for the West Coast.)

5-9 AM: Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, Closing Ceremony (CBC). I do have to say, NBC seems to treat the Olympics as more of a special event. They play the Olympic Song and CBC just has this weird, almost-offensive, almost-more-appropriate-in-India opener. And CBC uses their own regular sports graphics instead of coming up with something unique.

10-12 PM: Major League Lacrosse, NB ZIP Championship Game (ESPN2). The worst part? This isn’t even the only lacrosse league in North America. And you probably haven’t heard of the National Lacrosse League either. Apparently it’s semi-big in Canada. Who knew? (Just barely interferes with the Olympics on USA on the West Coast.)

12:30-3 PM: Little League Baseball, Little League World Series (ABC). Does it seem a little odd that we pay so much attention to the LLWS for basically no reason? I mean, other than to be reminded about “sportsmanship” that’s basically a no-thing anyway? And why do the other three divisions have their World Series on Saturdays while neither Little League WS ends on that day?

Honorable Mention: 12:45-5 PM: National Pro Fastpitch, Championship Series (MLB.TV, second game if needed). It’s a league with a grand total of six teams. One look at their website shows how far behind they are. They don’t even have TV for their championship series, even, by all appearances, on tape delay. And this coming from one of the more popular non-football-or-basketball NCAA sports. What’s going on here?

(Oh, and perfect timing. Aren’t all your good players in the Olympics?)

5-8 PM: MLB Baseball, LA Dodgers @ Philadelphia (ESPN). I’ve banned NBC’s Olympic coverage from this space!

Next week, the first weekend of the US Open, and can you feel the football start?

This probably won’t be the last I have to say about the Olympics. Probably. Maybe.

Couple of notes from last night at the Olympics.

First, showing events live on both coasts isn’t the only thing the CBC beats NBC over the head with. I watched both networks’ coverage of the 1500 meter freestyle, and even though CBC was a complete homer for Ryan Cochrane, they still ran circles around NBC, who took until five minutes into the race (after a commercial break) to mention him. Were it not for the occasional check-ins on the status of Larsen Jensen, I might have thought I was hearing the Australian broadcasters, so focused were they on Grant Hackett. In the process, as they called Hackett’s doomed-to-failure chase of ???, they missed a pretty good chase for the bronze.

Second, I was probably the worst track athlete in the world in high school for two years, stumbling to Charlie Brown-like finishes in the most junky heats of the 100 and 200 (the latter of which I only raced in because I needed a second event), but I still consider that enough experience to put my TV analyst cap on regarding the 100. Usain Bolt may have cost himself more than a more unbeatable world record by celebrating several meters short of the finish. He may have made himself some enemies as well.

If other sports like basketball, but especially sports with a lot of tradition (and at over 2500 years, there’s no sport with more tradition than track and field), are any indication, there is probably an “old guard” who stands for doing things “the right way”, which at least in the eyes of some, usually means “don’t have fun”. I don’t know this for certain, but I’d be shocked if there weren’t some people who will say of Bolt, “he’s too cocky” – regardless of whether he is or not – “he’s too showboating, he let up with 15 meters to go in the 100, he’s too Hollywood” – you’re nodding your head, Tom, you know what I’m talking about!

Sports Watcher for the Weekend of 8/16-17

All times PDT.

12:30-6 AM: Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, diving and the medal final in the women’s 10km track race (12:30-2 AM), plus primetime replay (2-6 AM) (NBC). Same on both coasts. You could watch USA on the East Coast to get closer to the start time of the next item.

10-6 PM: Little League Baseball, Junior League, Senior League, Junior League Softball, and Big League Softball World Series…es (ESPNU). Not necessarily in that order. The Little League Softball World Series ended back on Wednesday. That’s the only LLWS that doesn’t end on the weekend. Get with the program! Is it just me, or does the marquee age division of the LLWS seem arbitrary considering it’s the youngest group? We completely lose sight of these kids as they move up through Junior, Senior, and maybe Big League, then we regain sight in the College World Series, then we lose sight of them again until they get called up to the bigs because we pay no attention to AAA whatsoever.

7:30-12 AM: Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, track and field and swimming and the awarding of medals in both (NBC). Same on both coasts, so there’s interference with Little League on the East Coast. I had been thinking about writing a post about the rising tide of discontent on the West Coast at being told events are “live” when they’re still tape-delayed. Then I saw that more than half of the top five highest-rated major markets, and almost half of the top 17, are in the Pacific and Mountain time zones, and almost all the largest markets in those two time zones (eight of the top nine, with Seattle’s ratings depressed by being able to see events truly live on CBC) are averaging at least a 21 rating for the Olympics, which I believe is higher than NBC’s nationwide average. Which means one of two things: people on the West Coast are more into the Olympics than people back East, and I see no reason why that should be so, especially in Mountain time; or NBC’s decision to tape delay events is HELPING ratings in the Pacific and Mountain time zones. I have a feeling NBC may decide they’re never pulling strings to get events live in primetime for a non-American Olympics again (starting in 2012, that is). On another note, this is the last medal Michael Phelps needs to pass Mark Spitz, and it’s also women’s marathon day.

12:30-6 AM: Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, beach volleyball, track and field, and the primetime replay (NBC). Same on both coasts. I’d put USA here but it interferes with NBC’s primetime coverage.

11-2:30 PM: NASCAR Sprint Cup Racing, Michigan race (ESPN). Because the Sprint Cup Series isn’t on here often enough.

3-5 PM: Little League Baseball, Venezuela v. “Saudia Arabia” (ESPN2). Yes, that’s how it actually appears on ESPN’s own web site.

5-8 PM: MLB Baseball, Philadelphia @ San Diego (ESPN). The Phillies may be in NL East contention, but you can tell this game was decided on before the season started.

9-11 PM: Beijing 2008 Olympic Games Softball, United States v. China (CNBC). Looking back over what I said last week about CNBC’s coverage, I’m not sure what they think their audience is. I accused them of misreading their audience last week, yet that was for a time slot that included tennis, which fits right in with the rich-snob demographic. I was focusing on boxing, yet that so often gets called the “sweet science” and seen as so much superior to the supposed bloodlust and chaos of MMA, as though boxing was as tame as golf. And then there’s softball, and the only way I see this fitting in with CNBC’s “male demographic” is if they’re thinking “Ooh! Boobs!” Yet at the same time, the fact that it’s softball and not some other female sport tells me it’s an old male demographic that remembers when baseball was the national pasttime (AS IT SHOULD BE!) and isn’t into all this football stuff the whippersnappers are into. Which… adds up to a pretty disturbing demographic.

11-11 AM: Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, water polo, synchronized swimming, canoeing, kayaking, field hockey, basketball, and table tennis, including the table tennis gold medal match (USA). Prepare to march back into work on Monday and fall right asleep, stay there till quitting time, sleep all the way home, and sleep the rest of the day.

Sports Watcher for the Weekend of 8/9-10

All times PDT.

2-1 PM: Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, soccer, shooting, badminton, fencing, equestrian, beach volleyball, basketball, and weightlifting, including the awarding of shooting and weightlifting medals (USA). Same on both coasts. According to NBC’s olympic site, “the first gold medal awarded at the Beijing Games could come in” either the shooting or weightlifting events. Aren’t they both scheduled for a certain time? Could you not just look at the schedule?

1-3 PM: Little League Baseball, Senior League Softball World Series (ESPN2). No, they’re not just making random shit up to tide people over for the big shebang.

3-5:30 PM: IndyCar Racing, IndyCar 300 at Kentucky (ESPN2). A moment of silence for the IRL’s impending move to Versus.

7-10 PM: Ultimate Fighting Championship, UFC 87 (PPV). So it turns out the UFC does space out its PPVs after all. I apologize for suggesting otherwise. Interferes with Olympic primetime coverage on the West Coast.

11-11 AM: Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics, basketball, tennis, soccer, archery, and weightlifting, including the awarding of medals in archery and two in weightlifting (USA). Same on both coasts (if that causes a problem, coverage is on NBC from 12:30 to 6 AM). Because real men stay up all night watching the Olympics!

11-4 PM: PGA Golf, PGA Championship, final round (CBS). If golf were to become part of the Olympics, what would happen to the PGA Championship?

5-8 PM: MLB Baseball, St. Louis @ Chicago Cubs (ESPN). Hey, I need to get baseball in somewhere. I should have NBC’s primetime coverage next week.

11-1:30 AM: Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics, boxing and tennis (CNBC). NBC has said that they’re putting stuff on CNBC that fits with its male demographic. Um… not the UFC, bloodlust-filled male demographic… more like the wimpy, pass-the-caviar, rich-snob demographic…


So I stayed up until after 3 AM just to try and get my computer to settle down enough to get my Truth Court demonstration up, a half hour after that to get the strip up, and a half hour after that to get this up.

I made an error in the strip that has nothing to do with the lack of sleep, because I made this strip back in February.

As I learned, well, I guess last night now (a guy just ran by apparently delivering newspapers and it’s not yet 4), the Opening Ceremonies do not start at 8:08:08 AM Chinese time.

They start at 8:08:08 PM Chinese time.

Which means I could have run today’s strip on 8/08/08, instead of the less pretty 8/07/08.

Oh well.