Gold Digger

Our personal-finance advisor sums up the Olympics. Want a Canadian dime?

You can open your eyes now! The Olympics are over. Before we get to the official Tucson wrap-up of the Games, an update from last week, when I wrote something moderately mean about banks.

I received e-mails from people who say they get charged a fee to cash a payroll check at the bank with which their employer does business! Myself, I conduct almost all of my business in cash. (I've always thought that if I were one of those guys who did everything with credit cards and checks, I'd feel like the taller member of an ice-dancing team.)

However, since my anti-bank rant last week, I've been the victim of some very odd happenings. I keep getting the weirdest things in change. Dollar bills so old you could spit through them. Canadian dimes! A Canadian dime isn't even worth a dime in Canada. You couldn't buy moose dung in Calgary with a wheelbarrow full of Canadian dimes. I even got a coin from New Zealand. I didn't know they had coins in New Zealand; I just thought the oppressive white people traded Maoris back and forth as barter.

I just know that banks have implanted little devices in the necks of people who work at Circle K stores so that every time I get a soda at least one of the coins I receive in change will have the likeness of either Patrice Lumumba, Pol Pot or Soupy Sales.

Thank God I don't write checks. Those things would be bouncing around like they were written on Flubber. How hard would it be for them to manipulate the computers so that my account would always be a day late and a dollar short? But then again, I wouldn't have to pay a fee to cash one of their checks.

So, watch your backs, because they will get you. And don't talk about it on the phone because you know they're in cahoots with the phone police.

Now, for the Olympics:

· U.S. officials were giddy that their conservative forecast of 20 medals won by the U.S. was shattered by the final count of 34. How can they be surprised, when half of the medals were in events made up by Americans? And some of the "events" look like dares made up by drunken frat boys.

What the hell is a half-pipe, anyway? A beginner's dose of crack?

You've got goofy white dudes snowboarding and doing stunts like in the Winter X-Games. And everybody knows that the X-Games are a publicity stunt made up by Mountain Dew.

They get guys on skateboards who couldn't make their high school football teams and they slide down bannisters and hand-rails until one of them slips, straddles the rail and lands on his scrotum. Then they show up on "You Gotta See This!," along with videotaped police pursuits and security camera footage of botched convenience-store robberies. How does that meet the standards of the Olympics?

· Even though the Canadian figure-skating duo obviously got jobbed by the judges, didn't you just know that it was going to open up Pandora's Box? Now you've got people calling for do-overs from stuff that happened 30 years ago.

Despite people's best efforts, sports aren't always fair. And when you're dealing with a sport involving judging, oftentimes you won't come close enough to "fair" to see it without binoculars.

Was Roy Jones, Jr., cheated out of a boxing medal in 1988? Did the Soviet Union steal the basketball gold medal in 1972? Heck, was Michelle Kwan robbed of gold in 1998? Yes, but they all became sympathetic and almost heroic figures in their unjust defeats.

OK, maybe there's one exception to this rule. In 1992, a synchronized swimmer from Canada lost out on a sure gold medal when one judge accidentally punched in 8.7 instead of 9.7 on a computerized scorecard. Even after the judge freely admitted the mistake, it took the I.O.C. a year to award her a gold medal. (Of course, she was from Canada, so nobody really cares. And how in the world does one do individual synchronized swimming? Synchronized with what?)

· For the 19th straight Olympiad, none of the medalists was from Tucson. I think we should blame the Republican-dominated City Council for this one.

· Hey, where are all the morons who constantly apologize for the violence in hockey by claiming that it's "the nature of the sport?" When you're playing for your country and a fight might keep you from participating in a medal game, all of a sudden, the gloves stay on and you play the game the way it's supposed to be played.

The NHL will forever be a minor league until they crack down on fighting the way the NBA and NFL have. You'll never eliminate it completely, but at least you won't see fights every night in every arena, and you won't have "fans" showing up just for that purpose.

· Speaking of hockey, the American women were upset in the gold-medal game by Canada. Apparently, the U.S. and Canada are the only two women's teams who know how to play the game and all the other nations just show up to take 14-0 ass-whuppins.

After the U.S. lost in the championship, some of the American women complained about the officiating. Hey, if there are only two good teams in the entire world, how many good refs are there going to be?

· As I mentioned 18 months ago during the 2000 Summer Games, don't be surprised if the 2004 Games don't take place in Athens. Olympic officials recently learned that the old Athens airport, on which ground was to be broken six months ago for the Olympic Stadium, is still being used as an airport.

With an especially brutal terrorist network (17 November) operating unchallenged in the country and Greek Olympic official bumbling about at every turn, it's almost even money that the 2004 Games will be either in Los Angeles or back in Sydney. Where we'll have a gymnastics scoring scandal.