Reluctant Townie: Unleashing an avalanche of Sochi knowledge
With the 2014 Winter Olympics kicking off recently in Sochi, I invested a modicum of my time researching the event. The result of my labors is the following list of things you wanted to know about the Sochi Winter Games, but were too afraid to ask.
1. Ugh, is it time for the Olympics again already?
Yes. The last Winter Olympic Games occurred in 2010 in Vancouver. Believe it or not, four years have passed since then. If you had just started high school during the last winter games, you would presumably be graduating this year.
If you had a bank-issued debit card, you have probably had to replace it. If you are a bachelor with zero romantic prospects, you probably have still not cleaned out the crisper in your refrigerator.
But I can assure you, and my assurance is backed up by all the discounted wall calendars at Barnes and Noble, it is indeed 2014.
Go pay your taxes.
2. Where is Sochi? I've never heard of it before. Also, how do you pronounce Sochi? (I don't want to sound like an idiot when I am the first one of my friends to talk about it.)
In America, you pronounce it "So-chee." In Soviet Russia, Sochi pronounces you!
Sochi is in (post-Soviet) Russia. It sits on the subtropical southwest tip of the country, next to the Black Sea, and is the only part of Russia with palm trees. So, basically, it's Russia's version of Malibu.
If you think that sounds like a weird place to hold the Winter Olympics (i.e., not cold enough for a bobsled track), especially when the hosting country is known for its vast, frozen tundras — congratulations, you have more common sense than whoever wrote the Russian bid.
3. Will Russian President Vladimir Putin be competing in the Olympic games?
No, but he is nonetheless expected to take home the gold in judo, bare-chested horseback riding and nude tiger wrestling. He is favored to take silver in everything else. Or else.
4. What about the gays? Will they be allowed at the Sochi games? I heard Russia is not the greatest place to open a gay theme park right now.
2014 is trying to establish itself as the year for people to parade their outmoded opinions on homosexuality in the media — whether it be the bearded, corporately branded rednecks of "Duck Dynasty" or the "oops, English is my second, more pervert language" back peddling of Juan Pablo from "The Bachelor" — and the Sochi games are no exception.
Last year, Putin signed a bill into law that banned "propaganda of nontraditional sexual practices" in Russia and has essentially made it illegal to be gay in public or to speak about homosexuality anywhere where a minor might overhear you.
Under international pressure to explain why he was being such a Chad, Putin announced that homosexuals would be safe at the Winter Games ... as long as they left the children alone.
Which was in no way construed as offensive by the nonpedophiliac homosexual population of the world.
But what America fails to understand is that this law was not put into place to marginalize and attack homosexuality. In Russia, a "nontraditional sexual practice" is defined as anything that does not directly involve fantasizing that your partner is Putin.
So, long story short, nobody will be sending Brian Boitano to the gulag, unless he asks politely.
But the fate of Russian out and proud comrade Brian Boitanokov is less certain ...
5. Is there anything new this year to entice me to watch? Or will I be using the electric light of the ski slope competition as my Ambien? Yawn.
The Sochi games are adding 12 new events — most of which have been co-opted to help kids talk about the 2014 Olympics on their social medias using such buzz words as "totally rad" and "bodacious." Among the pandering to the Disney Channel crowd: Olympic snowboarding. Cowabunga, Sochi.
6. Are they going to run out of snow? (I think most of the world's snow has been dropped between Champaign and Chicago in the past month.)
No. Since the Cold War ended, Russia has been eager to satiate its addiction to stockpiling — and the 2014 games have given them the perfect excuse.
In the nearby Caucasus mountains, the Russians have been hoarding giant reserves of snow. Should the snow-melting situation reach critical levels and threaten the games, Russian organizers will detonate their additional snow stockpiles and cause a controlled avalanche — which Putin will surf down on the back of an endangered leopard eating a dissident.
7. Is it too late to see Yakov Smirnoff perform in Branson?
The Soviet Union might have fallen in 1991, but popular funnyman Smirnoff didn't let that stop him. He went on to perform a nightly show for more than 20 years in Branson, Mo. — eventually purchasing his own theater and permanent home.
However, he performed his final show in Branson on Dec. 8, 2012.
The good news is that his website states that he will perform Sept. 27 in downstate Marion. In America, you can get your tickets now. In Soviet Russia, tickets get YOU!
8. Are there any other Russian Reversals you wanted to include in this column but couldn't find the right space to shoehorn?
In America, you watch the Winter Games. In Soviet Russia, the Winter Games watch YOU!
Should I have left that one out? It felt like a bridge too far ...
Ryan Jackson wrote this column in his best Russian accent, and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.