I never thought I'd live to write these words, but: Thank heaven for Matt Lauer.
Why? Because I was beginning to believe I wouldn't be able to watch any more of NBC's Olympic coverage due to the frightening sight of Bob "Fever Eyes" Costas. The pinkeye-afflicted anchor looked every bit the star of a particularly unsettling Japanese horror film. It was awful.
So when he finally decided to bench himself midweek and Lauer began his substitute primetime anchoring, not only did the TV audience heave a sigh of relief, but NBC's Olympic behind-the-camera crew no longer had to bathe themselves in Purell after every close call with Bleeding-Eyes Bob.
(If I were really going for the throat, I would point out that NBC traded one anchor with blood in his eyes for another with blood on his hands, after that whole business with Ann Curry getting shoved off the "Today" show. But I'll resist. Really, I will.)
And is it just me, or was the Costas eye-rash the most exciting thing so far in NBC's Olympic replay? I say "replay" because calling it a "broadcast" leaves the impression it's playing live on our TV screens. It's not, because Sochi, Russia, is many hours ahead of U.S. time zones. What we see every night really happened hours earlier, while most Great Americans were working at jobs or studying at school.
I'm guessing you're like me -- settle down, it's only a figure of speech -- in that to really enjoy the Olympics spectacle, you have to spend all day ignoring social media and online, radio and cable news so you don't hear or see who the winners and losers were hours before NBC's neatly remanufactured retelling. Instead of it being broadcast as it happens, the network's editors and commentators are slicing and reordering every event to heighten and/or create drama where there was little or none as it actually played out.
This business of having to avoid news and social media really cramps my workplace routine. Like most American office drones, I'm used to spending my weekdays Tweeting every interaction with co-workers and customers, what I had for lunch, passing along the latest viral videos on Facebook, and obsessively reading The New York Times, The Huffington Post and The Daily Beast.
Which reminds me: Without my normal distractions, I'm actually getting more work done and I fear my boss may come to expect continued job efficiency after the Olympics are over. So, note to myself, before he gets used to it, I better cut back on that whole doing-my-job-well thing.
Getting back to the earlier "eye" motif, the only other positive thing to come out of my watching the Olympics is that I get to see that creepy Russian President Vladimir Putin with some regularity. When it comes to impossibly vain, dead-eyed weasels, Vlad's hard to beat. When I catch sight of him, I can't help but think of the movie "Jaws," and Capt. Quint's description of man-eating sharks: " ... he's got lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll's eye. When he comes at ya, doesn't seem to be livin'. Until he bites ya, and those black eyes roll over white."
Which still has me puzzling over President George W. Bush's 2001 appraisal of Putin: "I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy. We had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul; a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country."
Yeah, well ... we have interesting presidents in our country, too.
Email Don Porter at email@example.com.