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Weekend: Get into the Olympic spirit

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Posted: Friday, August 8, 2008 8:42 am | Updated: 10:25 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

From Mesa to Gilbert to Scottsdale, here are great Olympic-themed events to help celebrate the spirit of the international competition.

Opening ceremonies aren’t just in China

by Albert Ching

It’s 08-08-08, and perhaps the most noteworthy event around the world today is the opening of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing. But if you’re not too busy glued to the set watching Olympic events like archery and handball, there are plenty of local activities to get you out of the house.

Arizona Museum of Natural History, Dog Days, <a href=downtownmesa.org, Power Paws" />
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DOG DAYS

An athlete has to be highly trained to make it to the Olympics. So are the Power Paws Assistance Dogs featured at the Arizona Museum of Natural History’s Dog Days of August event. The museum will host a demonstration from the assistant dogs, which work with the disabled to help with tasks like opening and closing doors or switching lights on and off. Dog Days of Summer is also the theme of the downtown Mesa Second Friday monthly event, with plenty of dog-themed events.

>> Dog Days of August takes place 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. today at the Arizona Museum of Natural History, 53 N. Macdonald, Mesa. Free with donation of new, packaged school supplies, or $4-$6. (480) 644-2230 or arizonamuseumofnaturalhistory.org.

EXHIBIT OPENING

The Olympics have a lot of history to them. The modern version started in 1896, but the original games date to 776 B.C. At the “What Fun We Had! Entertainment in Chandler” exhibit at the Chandler Museum, you can learn a little bit more about the history of the city, specifically what people did for fun in the pre-digital world. The exhibit features historical photographs and playable versions of old-timey games like jacks and Tinkertoys.

>> The “What Fun We Had!” exhibit opening takes place 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. today at Chandler Museum, 178 E. Commonwealth Ave. Free. (480) 782-2717 or chandlermuseum.org.

TEMPE BASEBALL

This is the last year baseball will be an Olympic event, unless the International Olympic Committee reverses its decision. The teams usually consist of minor-leaguers, and there are still plenty of opportunities to watch future stars — like the Arizona League, a rookie-level league that operates entirely in the Valley. This Sunday, the Arizona League A’s will play the Arizona League Angels at Tempe Diablo Stadium, the spring training home of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

>> The Arizona League Angels host the Arizona League A’s 7 p.m. Sunday at Tempe Diablo Stadium, 2200 W. Alameda Drive. Free. (480) 350-5205 or tempe.gov/diablo.

Scottsdale to Beijing? Just a stone’s throw away

by Craig Outhier

Some people say that Scottsdale is a world apart from Beijing. They’re wrong — technically, at 6,506 miles, it’s merely half a world. Furthermore, if you take away OUR civil liberties, THEIR 4,000-year-old cultural heritage and overlook the 20,000,000-person population disparity, the two cities are practically indistinguishable. Convinced? Good. Now follow this Olympic-themed weekend planner to the letter and bring the 2008 Beijing Olympics home.

TODAY

First, go home and put an Internet block on such hate-filled extremist Web sites as amnesty.org, dalailama.com and teletubbies.com. This wouldn’t be a very convincing Beijing if you could effortlessly exercise your First Amendment rights, would it? Then get ready for tonight’s Olympic opening ceremony by scooting down to AA Party Mart (10626 N. 71st Place) and picking up the national flag of your choice. The Party Mart folks stock all the cool-looking ones (Great Britain, Mexico, USA, Japan) and a few of the all-right-looking ones (Canada, Italy, Greece) in both full-scale ($29.99) and miniature ($1.49) sizes — perfect for waving while your compatriots amble through Beijing National Stadium. You also might want to pick up a smog mask ($1.99) at Home Depot. 

>> The 2008 Summer Olympics opening ceremony starts at 6:30 p.m. on KPNX-TV (Channel 12). For more Party Mart information, call (480) 991-7505.

SATURDAY

As a Summer Olympics spectator sport, women’s beach volleyball has made massive strides in popularity since its inception in 1996 ... for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with those skimpy uniforms and sun-kissed muscles, we’re sure. Before watching Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh defend their 2004 gold medal in Chaoyang Park, whet your beach volleyball appetite with a few games down at Tempe Town Lake, the only true waterfront beach court in the area. Courts are $10 for a two-hour block. Later, you can also root on former Phoenix Mountain Pointe High School star Reid Priddy when the male volleyballers take on the Venezuelans.

>> Volleyball coverage begins at 12:30 p.m. Saturday on KPNX-TV (Channel 12). For more information on Tempe Town Lake volleyball, call (480) 350-8625.

Olympics, Kobe Bryant, basketball
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SUNDAY

You can bet the hometown fans will be out in force when Yao Ming and the Chinese men’s basketball team take on the Kobe Bryant-led USA squad in a preliminary-round battle. Alas, the best seat YOU’RE likely to score is the one at the bar at Fox Sports Grill (16203 N. Scottsdale Road) near the Airpark. If you order the Asian chicken salad ($11), it might feel like you have front row seats at Beijing Olympic Basketball Stadium, right? RIGHT?! Sigh. This is why Scottsdale needs a good dim sum place.

>> Basketball starts at 9 a.m. Sunday on KPNX-TV (Channel 12). For information on Fox Sports Grill, visit foxsportsgrill.com.

Get in the Beijing spirit in the E.V.

by Martin Cizmar

The 2008 Summer Olympic Games kick off today in Beijing. Here are a few ways to get in the spirit of the games.

CHINESE GROCERIES

There are a lot of Asian markets in the Valley, but Lee Lee Oriental Supermarket stands alone on size and selection. They’ve got everything from freeze-dried noodle bowls that blow away ramen to the thorny fruit durian, known as the world’s smelliest foodstuff. They’ve also got a grand selection of Chinese and Asian beers, as well as great prices on other imports (Pilsner Urquell, $9.99 for a 12-pack).

>> Lee Lee Oriental Supermarket, 2025 N. Dobson Road, Chandler. (480) 899-2887.

Olympics, pingpong, Gilbert Community Center, <a href=www.ci.gilbert.az.us" />
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PINGPONG

Just like Americans expect gold in basketball, the Chinese expect victory in their unofficial national sport, table tennis. If you’d like to get ready for 2012, stop by the Gilbert Community Center. Their table has been stored to make way for more exercise equipment, but they’ll gladly set it up if there’s a free conference room. Then paddle away.

>> Gilbert Community Center, 130 N. Oak St. (480) 503-6290 or www.ci.gilbert.az.us.

FORTUNE COOKIE

There are Chinese restaurants all over the southeast Valley, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better one than Yao’s at Gilbert and Williams Field roads. Try the Seafood Delight and the paper-wrapped chicken — small pieces of chicken soaked in a spicy marinade, wrapped in foil and fried.

>> Yao’s Fine Chinese Cuisine, 2487 S. Gilbert Road, Gilbert. (480) 899-0308.

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