17

2018 Animal Olympics – Week 1

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Riki T. Tavi here. Welcome to our summary of the first week of the 2018 Animal Olympics. It’s been an exciting week here. We’ve had thrills and a few surprises. It’s been truly heartwarming to see the carnivores and non-carnivores competing against each other in peaceful surroundings. Now I’ll turn you over to our commentators.

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Margaret Malamute – Freestyle Skiing

Since no equipment is allowed in competition, this event has always been dominated by animals who could run down the hill the fastest. The last three winners were the Dall sheep team. However, this year the seals challenged the definition of “upright”. They argued that upright for them was on their bellies. After much consideration, the Olympic Committee agreed with their argument.

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So the finalists were the Dall Sheep, the reindeer and the seals. The favored sheep ran into a problem almost immediately when one of their runners hit a patch of ice and skidded off the trail. The seals were next. Being their first Olympics, the form was not great. But their speed made up for it. The reindeer were last. They were under pressure to beat the seals using traditional methods. It came down to the last runner, but in the end the reindeer triumphed.

Gold: Reindeer; Silver: Seals; Bronze: Sheep. The sheep plan a challenge based on the conditions of the slope.

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Edie Ermine – Freestyle Sledding

In a somewhat surprising turn of events, the seals did not qualify for the finals. The likely explanation is that they spent extra time working on the skiing skills and not enough on the sledding. Regardless, the finalists were the ermine, the penguins, and (surprisingly) the polar bears. The polar bears entered the competition on a dare and were expected to finish at the bottom of the pack.

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The ermine went first, displaying their flawless beauty in the event. The scores were good, but not great. Definitely room for the other teams to score higher. The penguins, apparently sensing victory, were a little careless in their takeoffs and barely edged the ermine. The polar bears went last. Their form was unusual, to say the least. They sat on their butts and held their feet up. Since the only requirement is that competitors maintain the same position from top to bottom, it was an acceptable position. The bears were not attractive going down the hills, but it’s a speed contest.

Gold: Polar Bears; Silver: Penguins; Bronze: Ermine

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Penelope Penguin – Luge

The Luge didn’t really hold many surprises. This fan favorite is a test of speed not form. The sides of the track are expandable so all the animals use the same track.The finalists were the penguins, the polar bears, and the otters. All three teams are experienced, and all performed well. Some minors errors on the track made the difference.

Gold: Otters; Silver: Penguins; Bronze: Polar Bears

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Oscar Otter – Underwater Relay

The otters have been dominant in this event for many years. Swimming quickly around and through posts and rings seems second nature to them. The only real question here was who would get silver and bronze. The finalists were the otters, the penguins, and the seals. The penguins were faster than the seals, but the seals missed fewer obstacles. In a very close finish, the seals beat out the penguins for silver.

Gold: Otters; Silver: Seals; Bronze: Penguins

It’s Riki again. Hopefully, you’ve been watching the actual events online at cheeseland.anm/olympics. Please join us next week for our summary of the remaining events.

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All pictures courtesy of Google Images

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18

The 2018 Supper Bowl

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The resident male human (Cat’s husband) loves to watch American football. He watches it all fall, but at the end of the year there seems to be a lot of “bowls”. Watching with him, we noticed something strange. The winner of the Rose Bowl didn’t get a bowl of roses (or even a bowl), the winner of the Orange Bowl didn’t get oranges, and some of the bowl were for gifts that didn’t even make sense. (Who’d want a weed-eater as a prize?)

It seems that the biggest game of all is this weekend. They call it the Super Bowl. What’s so super about it? Apparently it shows who has the best football team in the country. But they still don’t win a bowl. Instead, they get really big rings. You can’t eat out of a ring.

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So we decided that we needed to sponsor our own bowl, The Supper Bowl. And guess what the winners get? Silver bowls with their names engraved on them and a year’s supply of their favorite food (funded by an anonymous donor.)

We had to make a few adjustments to the game. Since few animals are bipedal, runners can carry the ball in either their hands or their mouths. Unless the game is between two bipedal teams, passing is not allowed. Finally, field goals are not allowed because of the difference in animal heights.

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After an 8-game playoff, the contenders in the inaugural Supper Bowl are the Lions and the Bison. It’s a classic match-up of speed and brawn. We’ll see if the Lions’ stealth is any match for the brute strength of the Bison.

Now, on to the game with our commentators, Biff and Zoomer:

Zoomer: Well, here we go. The Lions are kicking off to the Bison. That was some kick. The Bison ball carrier starts slowly, but now he picks up speed.

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Biff: Oh my goodness. That Lion defense is pretty impressive. Two go for the legs and one jumps up in front of him. There’s no gain.

(Two more attempts and the Bisons turn the ball over to the Lions.)

Biff: Now we’ll see how good that Bison defense really is. The Lion runner takes off but has no where to go. No gain.  Running through the Bison line is not going to work for the Lions.

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Zoomer: There he goes again. He sees a little daylight around the end and runs for it. The Bison line is slow to react. Touchdown! The Lions lead 6-0.

Biff: OK, now the Bison need to make sure that they come back strong.

Zoomer: Oh no! two of the Bison players have collided. This is not good. They need to be helped off the field.

Biff: The offense is already down players from previous injuries. They’re going to have to put in rookies.

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(seesaw)

(As expected, the series doesn’t go well for the Bison and they don’t score. Things go back and forth for most of the game. The defenses manage to keep either team from scoring until late in the game.)

Biff: Well, this is it for the Bison. If they don’t score here, they’re out of time.

Zoomer: Right you are. Here we go. The Bison form a group around their runner. They move as one. The Lions have no choice but to move out of their way. It looks like we’re headed to overtime.

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(The teams take a break to discuss their strategy. Whoever scores first wins the game.)

Zoomer: Since the Bison had the ball first in the game, the Lions will get it first in overtime.

Biff: Rumor has it that the Lions have been practicing a trick play. If it’s true, now’s the time to use it.

Zoomer: We’re back on the field. The Lions have the ball. The carrier goes to the left instead of straight ahead and runs into his own player.

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Biff: No! He didn’t run into him. He gave him the ball. The Bison look confused. The new runner passes the ball to a third Lion. He takes advantage of the confusion in the Bison defensive line. He leaps over two Bison who are wandering around and heads for the end zone.

Zoomer: And the Lions win the Supper Bowl!

Biff: Let’s go down to the field to talk to the victors.

(Fortunately for fans everywhere, the teams have disappeared into their respective locker rooms and are not available for interviews. The Supper Bowl will be presented the next day at a banquet.)

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Alert readers should have guessed the outcome. We are based in Michigan, home of the Detroit Lions.

All pictures courtesy of Google Images

 

14

2018 Animal Olympics Coverage Team

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It’s almost time for the Winter Animal Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. We noticed that the humans put out an announcement introducing their coverage team. We decided that would be a good idea, so here they are:

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General Coordination and Coverage – Riki T. Tavi (mongoose) – our Asian Correspondent

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Interpreters  – Lexi (German Shepard) and Yuma Cho (Raccoon Dog) – you may remember Lexi as the ace translator we discovered during the cat food crisis a couple of months ago.

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Cross-Country Tracking – Harold Hare – member of the gold medal-winning 2014 Snowshoe Hare team.

What it is: Teams compete to see who can locate the most food on a prepared track. There are separate events for carnivores and non-carnivores.

Favorites: badgers, hares, wolverines

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Freestyle Skiing – Margaret Malamute – member of the 2014 Olympic Mixed Sled-Dog Team

What it is: Teams compete for a combined score based on how quickly its members get down the mountain. The skier must remain upright and no equipment is allowed.

Favorites: Dall sheep, reindeer

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Freestyle Sledding – Edie Ermine – gold medalist, 2014

What it is: Teams are scored on how quickly its members are able to get down the mountain in the same position (back, front, sitting).

Favorites: ermine, seals, penguins

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Ice Hockey – Bruno Brown Bear – member of the 2014 Brown/Grizzly Team

What it is: Teams compete to see how many chunks of ice they can get into their opponents goal. Players will be ejected for drawing blood on an opposing team member.

Favorites: polar bears, black bears

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Luge – Penelope Penguin – silver medalist, 2014

What it is: Teams are scored on how quickly its members can get down an iced track on their backs

Favorites:  penguins, polar bears

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Raptor Grab – Arnie, member of the 2014 American Kestrel team

What it is: Teams compete to collect the largest number of fish in the shortest period of time. Points are deducted for bringing back game not marked with the Olympic. Participants are disqualified for bringing back prey that is not a fish.

Favorites: Red-Tailed Hawks, Golden Eagles

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Sleigh Pull – Rodney Reindeer, gold medalist in 2014

What it is: Teams of four animals compete to pull a sleigh of two (friendly) adult black bears. Participants are disqualified for tipping the sleigh over. Note: bears may not be as friendly at this point.

Favorites: caribou/reindeer, moose

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Underwater Relay – Oscar Otter, bronze medalist 2014

What it is: Teams of four animals compete to finish a circular obstacle course underwater with each member completing one quarter of the circuit. The winner is the fastest team with the fewest missed obstacles.

Favorites: otters, seals

We animals don’t tell time like the humans do. So just remember that all of the competitions will be during the day. But when it’s daytime in South Korea. So you might just want to set some kind of recording device or leave the channel on all the time.

See you in February!

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0

One Last Look at the Animal Olympics

(Words in italics are translated at the bottom.)

The sloth 10-meter race was amazingly quick this year, coming in at less than five days for the first time in Olympic history. The winner, Maria Perezoso of Costa Rico, said that she credited her intensive training regime with moving vines for her victory. She also said that the climate in Rio was similar to that at home which helped her breathing.

One of the best ideas this year was to separate the gorilla gymnastics from the rest of the competition due to the weight differences. After the tragic accident in London where John Gorilla misjudged his landing and fell on the monkey team practicing on the next apparatus, there was no question that something had to be done. This year’s competition was thankfully accident-free.

The biggest upset of the year was the victory of Lin-Lin Panda in the 20-meter tree climb, beating heavily favored A. M. Biri. Mr. Biri is challenging the results. The Olympic Committee is awaiting drug-testing results before making a decision.

Once again, Russian bears won all of the wrestling medals: Igor Obez’yana – gold; Sergei Obez’yana – silver; and Petya Obez’yana – bronze. The Canadian Alan Brown Bear ended in fourth place, the best result for a non-Russian bear in the last eight years. Russian cubs are taken into training when they are four months old, which probably accounts for their dominance. Unfortunately, there is some impact on social development and these bears rarely mate.

As expected, Samuel Duma dominated the short running events. His only real competition was I.A. Duma, his training partner. Hando Paa came in third, undoubted aided by the cheetah who was close behind. Mr. Paa said that instinct took over and propelled him to his bronze medal.

The long-distance running events took an unexpected turn when Dubai entered several camels in the races. On the hot track, Abraham Jamal easily outpaced his competition. Ishmael Jamal took the silver. Alexander Kudu from the African savannah was the third-place finisher. The camels will be definite contenders going forward. The other competitors found them rather rude and almost mean.

Unfortunately most of the swimming events had to be cancelled. When the water was tested prior to the first race, the officials found a significant amount of chlorine. Suspicion immediately focused on the Russians whose Siberian tigers had been disqualified due to failed drug testing. The tigers had been heavy favorites to win several events. The other theory is that the maintenance crew had been given the human requirements by mistake.

The other animals laughed at the idea of the hippos entering a team in the water polo competition. No one is doubting now that they have won the silver medal. Their style is definitely unorthodox, using their snouts to propel the ball. Their coach, Jonas Kiboko, credited the team’s desire to prove the critics wrong for the strong showing. Unfortunately, the elephant team ended the hippos’ run. Their long trunks provided superior accuracy, and the team went on to win their fifth consecutive Olympic gold medal.

Overall, the games were a huge success. Now the animals can relax until their human counterparts are finished and provide them with a ride home. Unfortunately, the animals lost their petition to attend the human games. Apparently the cheetah eating the capybara early in the games has led some humans to fear for their own lives. For their part, the animals are hoping that there are no hunters on the human side.

 

Spanish – sloth, Hausa – gorilla, Hausa – monkey, Russian (transliterated) – bear, Swahili – cheetah, gazelle, Arabic (transliterated) – camel, Swahili – kudu, Swahili – hippo (Translations provided by Google. The African translations are limited by the number of languages available.)

 

2

Rio Animal Olympics: Water Aerobics

(Google Images/Rebloggy.com)

I’m Les Sloth, and I’m here with the Canadian otters, winners of the 2016 gold medal in Water Aerobics. From the left, we have Terry (team captain), James, Ian, and Joseph.

Les: Congratulations! How does it feel to win the gold?

Terry: It’s amazing. We’ve been working so hard, and it’s great to get the gold for Canada.

Les: The competition did not work out the way many folks thought it would. It was supposed to be a four-way contest between the Canadians, Americans, Russians, and Chinese. What happened?

James: Well, it was kind of a fluke with the Americans. None of us knew that it was illegal to shave our country’s name into our fur. Once the first team was disqualified, they really didn’t have much of a chance.

Ian: And the Russians were pretty demoralized when their coach wasn’t allowed to leave Russia with them. Who knew that his wife’s grandmother’s second cousin was married to a Chechen?

Les: It’s incredible that both of those things would have happened the same year. But what about the Chinese?

Terry: We’d rather not talk about that.

Les: Why’s that?

Terry: Apparently, there was some sort of political situation. As athletes, we try not to get involved in those things.

Les: Can you tell me anything?

Ian: It appears that they were using some kind of top-secret training facilities that may not have been approved for the Animal Olympics. The Olympic Committee was looking into it right before the Games.

Les: Did they find anything?

Ian: There was enough of an issue that they issued a warning to the Chinese. Of course, the Chinese denied they had done anything wrong and blamed a Western conspiracy to eliminate the Chinese politically since they couldn’t do it in the water.

Les: Do they know what was happening at the secret facility?

Ian: Rumor has it that they were using some kind of hyper-oxygenated water to train. It’s supposed to help develop stronger lungs.

Terry: But there’s no proof that the Chinese were cheating.

Joseph: We do know that for some reason they didn’t understand that the competition was happening at a river here in the zoological park. They have been training for the past couple of months in an extremely polluted river outside Beijing. They thought it would give them an advantage over those of us training in the wild.

Les: That’s awful. It’s probably the reason they wanted stronger lungs.

James: Unfortunately, most of them picked up some kind of river sickness that has made them incredibly weak. A couple of the alternates even died.

Joseph: They were training with the rest of us, but they weren’t in the clean water long enough to make a difference.

Les: That definitely explains why Iceland and Norway showed so strongly.

Terry: They did perform very well. Iceland, in particular has shown immense growth in the last few years. We’re proud to have beaten them.

Les: So what are you planning to do to celebrate?

Terry: The Canadians have a party every night for all of their medal winners. You are welcome to come.

Les: Thank you very much. However, after the incident in the Big Cat room yesterday, I’ve decided to eat in my room.

James: Yes, it was very unfortunate that the capybara was mistaken for dinner. They never should have sent him in as a waiter for the 200-meter dash winners. They knew the room would be full of hungry cheetahs.

Les: Yes, that is true. I suppose it was appropriate to hold the administrators responsible rather than the cats.

Ian: We feel the same way. The only carnivores allowed tonight are those on Team Canada. It’s unfortunate, but the cats understand. They really feel terrible about what happened.

Joseph: They are collecting money for the poor fellow’s family.

Les: That’s showing the true Olympic spirit. Otters, thank you so much for stopping by. And congratulations once again.

(Google Images/Wikimedia)

 

5

Newsflash: IAOC Bans Tigers

(Google Images/Pinterest)

 

Dateline: July 22, 2016

Irkutsk, Siberia – Rumors have been running rampant that the International Animal Olympics Committee (IAOC) was investigating the Siberian Tiger swim team. Those rumors were verified today when Ferdinand Fox, President of the IAOC, issued the following statement:

“After months of testing and research, the IAOC has determined that the Siberian Tiger swim team has consistently shown inappropriately high levels of testosterone. The guidelines for the Animal Olympics are very specific, and the Siberians have not met the requirements. Unfortunately, we have no choice but to ban the team from the 2016 Animal Olympics.

“We did not make this decision lightly. We know that the Siberian Tigers have always been an important part of the swimming competition. However, we must abide by the guidelines. The integrity of the Games is more important than any one team.”

The sports world’s reaction was mainly surprise. Given the strength of the Siberian team, no one thought the IAOC would have the fortitude to penalize the team. The Siberian Olympic management issued a competing statement:

“The charges are ridiculous. Our swimmers are the strongest tigers in the world. Of course they have high levels of testosterone. We would never inject them with additional hormones. The meat we use comes straight from Moscow and is guarded to prevent adulteration.

“We do not plan to challenge this ban. After training in the pure waters of Siberia, the filthy water in the Olympic venue would probably make the team sick anyway. We feel that we are being singled out unfairly because of our strength. These charges are based on groundless rumors started by the Americans and Bengal Tigers because they have never been competitive against our superior training and strength.”

There was no immediate comment from the Americans or Bengalis.

We have not been able to verify reports that the athletes have threatened to eat the members of the IAOC who voted for the ban. There has been a lot of growling around the camp, but the tigers are forbidden to speak with the media.

This ruling will not impact past medals that the Siberians have won. Because of the lifespans of some of the Olympic participants (e.g., mice, some fish species), the IAOC has determined that awards will stand once they have been presented.

Reported by Ricky T. Tavi  (Google Images/Reddit)

 

12

Confessions of a Football Junkie

(Warning: If you are not American, this post will probably make very little sense. And almost certainly not be humorous.)

It is true. The pacifist kitten-hugger is also a fan of arguably the most violent mass-marketed sport in the United States. In my defense, I started to like it before field mikes let us hear all the crashing and crunching.

I blame my father – and the University of Michigan.

My father came from the tough male – delicate female mold that was really the only model available when he was growing up. So we didn’t have much in common.

I decided when I was in junior high school (roughly equivalent to middle school these days), that I would listen to football games with him on the radio. Yes, back in those days, there were only three major television stations.

Alas, every football game between every two schools in the nation was not available for public consumption. If it had been, I probably would have been overexposed to it (like Led Zeppelin) and never wanted to watch it again.

Because it was radio-centric, every team had its own dyed-in-the-wool announcer. Dad was a University of Michigan fan, so we had Bob Ufer. Bob Ufer bled maize and blue. They practically shut down Ann Arbor when he died.

When Michigan scored a touchdown, Bob would blow the horn from General Patton’s jeep. What more manly sound could there be?

So it became our Saturday ritual in the fall from that point forward. Bo Schembechler (the Michigan coach) came to my high school to recruit one of our players. Obviously it was a highlight – I still remember it.

Guess what? I went to the University of Michigan. So we didn’t even have to change teams. We could still enjoy Ohio State and Michigan State losing.

One problem. The team was really bad for a few years. During the glory years of “three years and a cloud of dust”, the rest of the country had adopted a new technique. It’s called the forward pass.

And Michigan had recruited quarterbacks who didn’t seem to realize that 1) you had to throw the ball far enough and accurately enough to reach the guy who’s supposed to catch it, and 2) you only throw it to guys wearing the same colors as you are. It was painful, but I was hooked by this time.

Finally Bo recruited a kid named Jim Harbaugh. You may have heard of him. If you watched any sports at all during the weeks around Christmas, you would have seen a never-ending crawl at the bottom of the screen showing the progress the University of Michigan was making in hiring him as the new head coach. (It even annoyed me.)

But long before he (or bottom-line crawls) became ubiquitous on TV, Harbaugh dragged University of Michigan football into the modern age.

It was scary at first. We had learned to (metaphorically) cover our eyes when a Michigan quarterback tried to pass. Luckily Harbaugh’s arrival coincided somewhat with Michigan football being chosen for TV coverage on a fairly regular basis. So the football looked pretty good when it went national.

Harbaugh ushered in a new era of Michigan quarterbacks. The ones that somebody actually wanted to draft into the NFL. You may have heard of one of them: Tom Brady.

Of course, they made Brady back up the brilliant Drew Henson for a while. The reason you haven’t heard of Drew is that he only lasted a few games before the coaches realized he wasn’t very good.

Time goes by. Life is good. I married a man who knew the difference between holding and interference. So we added him to our Saturday afternoon tradition.

Two coaches ago, Michigan decided they needed a change. A non-“Michigan Man”. As far as I can tell, a Michigan Man is a guy who has coached with/played for/been somehow associated with Bo Schembechler. At least that’s what I read in the press.

The first new coach forever antagonized the loyal by not understanding that there is a blood feud between Michigan and Ohio State. Seriously, how can you be a good college coach if you think your fans hate all opponents equally?

So after six or so years of bad coaching, bad recruiting, and bad games; the alumni have spoken. (Always follow the money.) We have a Michigan football hero with college and pro coaching experience. Successful coaching experience. (Except that time he lost to his brother in the Super Bowl.)

Obviously, Jim Harbaugh is going to usher in the new Golden Age of Michigan football. Or at least make it better than Michigan State football. That has been so embarrassing.

(Be grateful. When I started this post, I was going to overwhelm you with my technical knowledge.)

Pro football? I love the Lions. Have been following them for years. Think Stafford, Johnson, Bush, and Tate are pulling things together. But it’s hard to create a story arc around a team whose motto should be, “Wait until next year.”

But they were robbed in the Wild Card game last Sunday.