Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

The Summer of 2012 I Loved the Olympics and There's Hope for the Pirates, but

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

The Summer of 2012 I Loved the Olympics and There's Hope for the Pirates, but

Article excerpt

The last part of August puts me in a particular frame of mind and occasions a review of the summer past.

I used to remember hearing cicadas in the trees at twilight marking this time of year, but I suppose they have all died from natural gas fumes or fracking water. In any case, I know it's that time of year when it's dark again when I get up in the morning. So what about the summer of 2012?

The London Olympics were an unqualified "glorious" from my point of view. The "USA!" chants were a little embarrassing in their raw nationalism, but the performance of our country's athletes and the games' hosts, the British, were outstanding. We were told by one stuffy, politically correct observer that it is inappropriate to refer to Gabrielle Douglas as "The Flying Squirrel" but she was nonetheless my favorite Olympian by far, for her acrobatics and for her incandescent grin.

The Romneys' part-owned horse, a 15-year-old mare named Rafalca, didn't do well enough to reach the Grand Prix Freestyle, although, according to her rider, Rafalca's "piaffes" -- high-stepping trotting in place -- made her rider happy and presumably will continue to justify the Romneys' $77,000 tax deduction for her. What is truly astonishing is that a candidate for the U.S. presidency in 2012 would be seen taking an expensive dancing horse to London with his country in economic recession.

Another joy of this summer in Pittsburgh is that the Pirates, consistently pathetic in recent years, are still in the running for a division pennant long after the All-Star Game. Usually Pittsburgh sports fans by this time have been reduced to going to a few Pirates' games because they like the beer and the Cracker Jack but have given up on the team, looking forward sullenly to the sacred Steelers' season.

There were some bad spots, too. Composer, conductor, pianist and all-around wonderful person Marvin Hamlisch, died at a young 68. My wife and I were once privileged to have dinner with him in New York. We will never forget his story of how, as a not-spring chicken, he met, courted and married his wife, Terre Blair. The story underlined the man's charm and humanity. I believe there is a special place in heaven for entertainers. Marvin's there now, playing for us sinners.

The Penn State Jerry Sandusky thing continues to play out in an uneven way. I favored a one- or two-year suspension of the school's football program. What the NCAA imposed instead might have been tolerable except that, first, Penn State is showing itself able to find its way around a lot of it. The $60 million fine is nothing to a sports program that big. Second, some of the university's trustees clearly don't understand or don't care about what occurred. They do not appear to realize that their effort to have the school reject the NCAA's punishment makes a statement that what Mr. …

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