Friday, December 18, 2009

Blue Christmas


"Avatar" has been on the brain of late. Almost everyone's brain, it seems.

Close to home, at my desk in fact, it's been mostly "Avatar" as my Edelman team worked on some events to support IMAX auditoriums opening at AMC Theatres in New Jersey and Florida.
So it was an easy decision to purchase a ticket to "Avatar: An IMAX 3D Experience" for one of the first local Metro Atlanta theatres -- I took in the film at midnight this morning. Great stuff!

While watching "Avatar" unfold, numerous adjectives came to mind to describe it: Original. Creative. Spectacular. Surprising. Miraculous. Awesome. Awe-inspiring. Jaw-dropping. Stunning. Dazzling. Amazing. Breathtaking. It was fun to later read many of these words in the reviews of my favorite film critics.

First thoughts exiting the theatre: Yes for Oscars, but only for effects and soundtrack.

"Avatar" really delivers on the entertainment front -- beautiful scenery, excellent score and thought-provoking themes. Several times there were subtle (or not so subtle) references to superb films of the past. It is likely I will have to see it a few times to really absorb it all.

My lone "complaint" or negative criticism of "Avatar" is that during the mental compilation of all those adjectives, I realized that the words coming to mind to describe the film actually, consistently have more syllables that most of the dialogue.

It seems a shame to me that the writing for "Avatar" never tee'd up an Academy Award-worthy actress like Sigourney Weaver, one of the "Avatar" co-stars, to deliver a thoughtful monologue, lesson or detailed point of view. Rather than empower her with captivating words and emotions, as in Weaver's performance in "Death And The Maiden," for example, James Cameron & Co. gave Weaver's "Avatar" scientist a lot of monosyllable exclamations and pseudo-surly (and almost monosyllable) banter.

And regarding Weaver's chain smoking for dramatic effect: WTF!?! Totally unnecessary -- they might as well have had her carrying around a shot glass of bourbon. Or, hey. How about some Na'vi crack?

More than once I also sensed there was a LOT of stuff filmed for "Avatar" that got scrapped to cut it down to just more than two hours and forty minutes. In the mad rush to showcase action-action-action there was not a lot of character development. But the action does deliver. Fortunately, the dialogue (one syl la ble at a time as it was) in "Avatar" was not a distraction as was the comically-stupid script of the "Star Wars: Episode II" action scenes.

I looked, but could find no obvious nor subtle "Avatar" connection to the Olympics, except to ponder what sports contests might be played on Pandora, the planet in the film.

Of course, athletics (specifically long jump, high jump, marathon and sprints), archery, equestrian (on the horse-like and dragon-style creatures of "Avatar"), and shooting (on the human side) would be other-worldly options.
Maybe the Na'vi Olympiad will make the cut for "Avatar II -- The Sequel" (or would that be aptly titled "Avatar's Avatar" for part two?).
Avatar photo via this blog

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Don We Now Our Sports Illustrated Apparel

Awesome news via the Associated Press: Sports Illustrated's new edition (on newsstands tomorrow) features Stephen Colbert in a U.S. Speedskating uniform!

As noted in previous posts, The Colbert Report and Colbert Nation recently rescued the national governing body for speedskating, raking in more than $250,000 in donations when another title sponsor pulled out of their arrangement.

Kudos to Colbert -- that photo cover is awesome, and I can't wait to read the sports media cover story. Bravo, SI, for celebrating Colbert's contributions to Vancouver 2010 and sport.

Photo via the Associated Press

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sochi2014.ru Afterthoughts

The more I've reflected on it during recent days, the more the new Sochi2014.ru logo is growing on me.

But also, it still troubles me. Here's ... the .RUb:

While the logo is original and "a first" to incorporate the organizing committee's URL into its official mark, this logo may also prove to be "the first" that -- in the future -- will cause Olympic historians and anyone to look at the Sochi logo with a smirk of "What were they thinking?"

Why?

From my view, with the fast pace of the Internet changing and being constantly reinvented --taking only months, weeks, days or hours for something/anything online to become "outdated" -- the Sochi2014.ru mark puts a neon sign on their Games for thinking short-term marketing over long-term staying power (will the URL even function come 2016?).

In other words, I think it's logical that in 10 years (or fewer?), the Internet will have changed to the point where ".ru" or ".com" or ".gov" (or any similar nomenclature for a Web address) will be extinct, leaving future generations to gaze upon Sochi2014.ru and scratch their heads with wonder "what is the purpose of .ru? What does '.ru' mean?"

Oh, bother. It's likely the International Olympic Committee, Russian Federation and Russian Olympic Committee -- as well as the Sochi 2014 Olympic officials -- considered all of the potential T.ruth or Consequences of their decision.

America's Office Champion

A week or so ago a press release arrived from the U.S. Olympic Committee and sponsor Adecco, noting the video contest underway to determine "America's Office Champion."

After viewing the contest details, sample video and official rules, I have a couple of colleagues in mind to nominate, and if time permits, a video entry will be posted by the Dec. 22 deadline -- at first glance the entry process seems pretty simple (and topping the posted sample video should not be difficult).

"America's Office Champion" will not only head to three A-list events of the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, but also the nominator may gain some spending money in the form of an Amex gift card (interesting since VISA is the official card of the Olympics), or a Flip Video device (sweet!).

If only I could nominate my girlfriend via her employer (would like to get her to Vancouver for a few days while my assignments there are underway).

Good luck to those who enter -- if you do, please post word of the entry via the comments section below so that readers here may view and vote for you.
Image via Adecco

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Odds & End of Year


The last few days, post-Thanksgiving, I spent a bit of time cleaning house and my office, preparing for the new year (early 2010 Spring cleaning, or late 2009 Spring cleaning, if you please).

Tonight I came across a couple of items clipped from New York Times features of 2009 -- so that the papers may be tossed, posting the items here for perpetuity.

The first is a photo from the Jan. 1, 2009, edition of The Times featuring a Yale University photo exhibition review by Ken Johnson. The photo (shown with post) is by Karin Rosenthal and is titled "Belly Landscape" (clever title, eh) from 1980. Any one of the Rio women in my Dec. 4 beach volleyball post might well be suited for a "30 years later" photo should Rosenthal choose to pursue a similar study in 2010.

Also tagged and saved another New York Times photo from the paper's Sept. 4 report that "Avenue Q" (one of my favorites) was closing shop after a great run (thank goodness they reopened down the street in Manhattan as I hope to get my parents and sister in to see the show in 2010). The photo was by Sara Krulwich -- great shot of the puppets on a backstage shelf awaiting their "final" curtain call (unfortunately, the image is not available online -- drat!).

The last item (at least for tonight) is a cutout saved from an auction catalog or art sale advertisement featuring a painting by Roy Lichtenstein (anyone know the title?). This one reminds me of the need to invest in some larger-necked dress shirts (seems I've outgrown a few from my closet in the days since the office where I work switched from "casual Fridays" to casual everyday).
Photo by Karin Rosenthal via The New York Times; Roy Lichtenstein image via this site.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Life's A Beach

OK, I was a little harsh poking fun at Rio this week, so here's a friendly follow-up to kiss and make up.

Today Reuters posted a cool video of a Brasilian family who plays beach volleyball in Rio de Janiero, and they had some good messages to the world regarding sportsmanship and preparation for the 2016 Olympic Games.

Good stuff. I sure hope they are still playing when we get back to Brazil (my girlfriend and I visited the beach in this video in 2006 and it is fabulous!).

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Deck The Halls

Today's Olympic "awwwww" moment popped up as a TV station in Charlottesville, Va., reported that a local elementary school is decorating a Christmas tree Vancouver 2010 Olympic ornaments and decor.

There's been a surge of Olympic-related Christmas gear appearing on online auction sites of late as well (like the Eric Heiden decoration shown with this post).
And of course the retail outlets in British Columbia stocked the shelves with some curious 2010 Christmas schwag (technically not schwag since none appears to be free).
I'm wondering when there might be a "Twelve Days of Christmas" Olympic gift pack ready for market (seems like an easy licensing option for sponsors of the U.S. Olympic Committee).

'Tis the season! Here's hoping each day now to Dec. 25 includes at least one reference to "five ... golden ... rings ..."
Photo via this eBay seller (disclosure: eBay is a client of Edelman, the P.R. firm where I work)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Rio vs. Robin Williams

The most ridiculous "news" item today -- other than CNN airing their own admission that they shamelessly just played (for the umpteenth time) the unverified-by-CNN Tiger Woods voicemails -- came in the form of an Associated Press brief stating that the Rio 2016 Olympic organizers are looking for legal options given Robin Williams' Olympic bid-related comments on "The Late Show with David Letterman" recently (see the full episode with Williams):

"Some citizens and officials in the Brazilian city are upset with comments the comedian made on a recent appearance on ... Letterman, saying Rio received the 2016 Olympics because it sent '50 strippers and a pound of blow' to compete with Chicago’s entourage that included Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey ... Rio’s Olympic Committee said its lawyers will analyze whether legal action against Williams is possible."

I hope the lawyers in Rio aren't seriously wasting time on this "issue" as there are certainly more important items to tend to in the 2016 Olympic city preparations.

C'mon, everyone knows by now it was more than 100 strippers ... and a kilo of blow, and Pelé was place-kicking ludes into the mouths of IOC members! (Just kidding, IOC, Pelé and Rio 2016 -- I look forward to again visiting Brazil many times now to 2016).

It was good to see Robin Williams in the news, though -- glad he is healthy again. Just thinking of him crying over this Olympic legal issue brings back thoughts on the disturbing scene in "One Hour Photo" when Williams' character had a nightmare (yikes!).
As my septuagenarian middle school algebra teacher used to exclaim, "Oh, for crying out tears in the sink!" (I think she would say the same of Rio "legal issue" for Williams, no algebra required.)
Photo of Robin Williams via this site; Rio 2016 logo via this site.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Sochi, .RU Kidding Me?

Late yesterday I heard that the Sochi 2014 Olympic office planned to unveil their new official logo today, delayed by recent news events in Russia.

A few minutes ago I found the new Olympic logo news online, and my brain is still processing Sochi2014.ru (that's it!).

Knee-jerk initial reaction: Not crazy about this logo design, which for the first time is simply a custom font with the URL for the organizing committee. Unlike the clever "intercrossed C's" for Calgary 1988, the Northern Lights-inspired look for Lillehammer's 1994 logo, or the detailed skyline/snowflake for Salt Lake 2002, the Sochi 2014 Olympic logo does not really stir the soul.

According to the Associated Press ...

" ... The word 'sochi.ru' appears above the number '2014' in an apparent reflection, symbolizing the southern city's water-based location on the Black Sea ... Interbrand produced the logo, which was subsequently approved in a series of national and international surveys, [officials] said. [Officials] said the new logo would help break Western stereotypes of a Russia stuck in the past, instead promoting the country as a dynamic and modern nation capable of reaching out to new audiences in a digital age."

Borrowing a phrase from an English:Russian translation site: Ya ne paneemau.

It may take some time, and reading a few hundred pages of "Dr. Zhivago," to help me respond "da" to the new Sochi 2014 logo, but I'm sure in time my five-ringed brain will come to terms with the [dot] .ru - infused logo, and eventually the Sochi 2014 typeface will get added to favorite fonts.

I do like the video for the new logo, and encourage folks to view it in Russian or English. The views of the Black Sea and snow-capped Russian mountains are inspiring.

In honor of the new logo, I'll send a Moscow 1980 Olympic pin to the first international reader of this blog who posts a comment with their views on this new Sochi 2014 logo. Thanks/спасибо for reading!

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