Thursday, December 30, 2010

Happy New Year & Happy New Rio 2016 Logo

Excitement is building for the blowout traditional New Year's Eve festivities in Rio de Janiero, with the *BONUS* excitement tomorrow as the new logo for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games will be unveiled at Copacabana Beach.

Today's Associated Press report shares more detail. Any predictions for the new logo?

I am guessing that green and yellow will remain prominent features. Something off the wall and new for the future (as was the London 2012 logo when unveiled) is also likely as Brazil may wish to push the envelope.
Looking forward to 2011 and the big unveil on the news, which I expect will appear on CNN shortly before midnight Eastern Standard Time.
Happy New Year from OlympicRingsAndOtherThings.blogspot.com!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Televising the Games

Interesting read in today's New York Times regarding the U.S. Olympic broadcast rights process underway with major TV networks and the International Olympic Committee.

The report by Richard Sandomir paints the picture that the money may come in under past Games' agreements given the economy, changes at NBC and other factors. My gut is that with the Games coming to Rio de Janiero in 2016, with prime time competition options for U.S. broadcasts, NBC may be willing to take a hit in Sochi 2014 for the potential payoff two years later. What do you think? Post a comment by Dec. 31, 2010, and I'll send you a pin from this blog.

Photo of TV camera at Berlin 1936 Games via this Flickr account

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Olympic Filmmaker Bud Greenspan

Saddened to learn that Bud Greenspan died Dec. 25 in New York, according to published reports over the weekend.

Greenspan's series "16 Days of Glory" from the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics solidified my interest in the Olympic Movement during my early teens, and it was an honor to meet Greenspan more than once, starting in 1997 at the premiere of his documentary film for the Centennial Olympic Games of Atlanta.

I was also lucky to be in the room when the International Society of Olympic Historians (ISOH) presented Greenspan with an award on the eve of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic opening ceremony. Greenspan's health was clearly deteriorating but he was in good spirits.
The Olympic Family lost a major contributor. Fortunately, Greenspan's work will remain accessible for future generations.

Photo via AP.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

College Days On The Brain



This morning while perusing The New York Times, the dateline for a report on page A20 -- Mankato, Minn. -- jumped off the paper.

Mankato was home for my latter teen years and early 20s, and the site on the brain when the song "I Wish I Could Go Back To College" is performed in "Avenue Q" (for clarity: I usually don't wish I could go back to college, but Minnesota State University-Mankato was a pretty darn good place to attend classes).

It's not often this little town, where Silica Gel is produced* to delight owners of new luggage, gets some ink or Internet space in a national news outlet.
Also known as the "big city" portrayed in "Little House On The Prairie," Mankato is an hour southwest of Minneapolis. And yes, Walnut Grove is real and not far from Mankato. Bravo, Mankato, for the limelight!

Today's report in The Gray Lady describes an event from 148 years ago that may get some more media play for an upcoming sesquicentennial of the largest mass execution in U.S. history.

I will let the article by Robert K. Elder speak for itself, but you can imagine my surprise and delight to read a quote in the report, showcasing the expertise of one of my college English professors, Gwen Westerman. My file cabinet holds many pages of terrible late-night writing dated 1992, each covered with Westerman's handwriting and proofreader marks (see how I just used her last name, a la AP Style -- she might have suggested I just use 'Gwen' for this pseudo-journalism blog that is more an exercise in would-be creative writing).

So cool to see her name in The New York Times!

With thanks for her influence and good works, Gwen was the third in a series of influential creative writers, following Honors English teacher Saxon Vandagriff at Edmond High School, and Keith Sell in English 101 at Mankato, who taught me a great deal about writing before "things clicked" junior year and I pursued a journalism degree with the fine MSU Mass Communications Department.

Of course, after two years of "reporting" for the campus newspaper, journalism's "dark side" lured me away to a career in public relations, which I love, but not without the occasional "grass is greener" allure of a news room (for the record, more than one MSU classmate has since inquired about the greener pastures on the dark side).

By chance, a newsy friend at Atlanta's NPR affiliate WABE-FM today forwarded a timely video titled "So You Want To Be A Journalist," portraying a recent J-School graduate networking for a job. Hilarious!

What made the video all the funnier for me personally was that I hung out at Columbia Journalism School (referenced in the video) during a Manhattan apartment-sitting gig in 1996, pondering graduate school options. Also explored Syracuse University options before landing the first P.R. job back in Atlanta. Those were the days.

Who knows, maybe the recent grad in the video has some Mankato ties, too.
Photo of "journalist" via Xtranormal. Image of Mankato via The New York Times courtesy The Minnesota Historical Society.
*Technically, silica is produced in nearby Kasota, Minn., also of LeSeur Co., home of The Green Giant and the best peas in the world.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Munich 2018 All The Way

Katarina Witt of the Munich 2018 Olympic Bid may be secretly jumping for joy over today's resignation of Annecy, France, 2018 bid chief.

According to Inside The Games, Annecy's CEO pulled out over government financial support (or lack thereof) as the next hurdle of the 2018 Olympic bid process -- delivery of the bid books to the IOC -- approaches Jan. 11, 2011.

July 6, 2011, is the big day when Munich, Annecy or PyeongChang, South Korea, will take home hosting duties from the IOC session in Durban, South Africa.

I am eager to eventually study the bid books and learn more. For the moment, Munich is my personal favorite as it would be wonderful to see the Games return to Bavaria and for the magnificent Olympiapark facilities of 1972 to see new life (though they remain a thriving legacy of the earlier summer Games).

If you wish to peruse the bid books, head over to GamesBids.com and look at the profiles for each city. Happy reading.

Photo via MotorInsight.com

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Shalit Just Hit The Fan (er, the door, leaving The TODAY Show)

My eyebrows ascended upon reading that longtime TODAY Show film critic Gene Shalit is leaving the program later this week to continue film reviews online.

I'll never forget meeting Shalit in New York. During the fall of 1996, I had a brief apartment-sitting gig on the way-upper West Side (north of the George Washington Bridge), and a great friend of mine was working at Au Bon Pain beneath Radio City Music Hall.

I had just slipped in to the restaurant to surprise my pal Meg, who was working the counter, and undetected by yours truly, Mr. Shalit stepped in line behind me during the surprise, so my friend reacted both to Shalit and my appearance simultaneously.

Its fair to say Shalit was as surprised as Meg and I were with the gleeful exchange that ensued (Shalit was a regular at this location, if memory serves me, and Meg and I had not seen each other in months, so the retail reunion was boisterous). Shalit was a nice guy and really cheerful for our brief exchange, and as Meg and I later finally got to chat, Shalit waved goodbye and wished us well. Nice guy.

Shalit did a memorable review of an Olympic film when I was in grade school, stating "'Chariots of Fire' will lift you with exultation and hold you there." Agreed!
During the Vancouver Olympics, Shalit even took to the slopes of the Eastern U.S. for a ski-clad review of "Shutter Island." Well done!

Here's hoping Shalit's great work continues for years to come. Long live the puns!

Photo via this site

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Screen The Dream Opens Nov. 15

In Atlanta, The King Center announced this week that the nonprofit will launch its "Screen The Dream" film series on Nov. 15 with the award winning documentary "A Small Act" at 7:30 p.m. in the Center's auditorium.

According to the press release and the website for the 2009 film, "A Small Act" tells the tale of a Swedish woman and a life she changed.

"When Hilde Back sponsored a young, rural Kenyan student, she thought nothing of it. She certainly never expected to hear from him, but years later she does. Now a Harvard graduate and a Human Rights Lawyer for the United Nations, Chris Mburu decides to find the stranger that changed his life. Inspired by her generosity, he starts a scholarship program of his own and names it for his former benefactor."

This description reminded me of the letters sent to a young Tanzanian boy -- Ndugu Umbohe -- adopted by the retired Nebraska insurance executive (Jack Nicholson) in "About Schmidt."

I hope the organizers of this new "Screen The Dream" film series may consider some Olympic-themed films, such as "Chariots of Fire" or "The Jesse Owens Story," in which themes of equal treatment for all are explored.

More details about the Atlanta and other screenings are available online. Enjoy the show!

Photo via this site

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Please Re-Peat This ... Four Times


If Bob Costas, Jim Lampley, the other NBC Sports anchors, or their army of Olympic researchers and interns, are online to gear up for the London 2012 Olympic commentary, I hope they'll read this post.

Because on my desk is a copy of a page-turning academic paper my good friend J. Brian Carberry got published in the most recent edition of the Journal of Olympic History.

In his report titled The Olympic 4-Peat -- A Rare Achievement, Carberry presents his case as to why the terms "Olympic Four-Peat" (changed here to match AP Style), "Olympic Three-Peat" or similar should be added to the Olympic and sports lexicon.

That definition states that to achieve the rare Olympic Four-Peat one must take home the gold medal in four consecutive Olympic competitions in the same sport/discipline. An example: Carl Lewis winning his fourth gold medal in the long jump at the Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta. One blogger used the term in 2004 to describe the original/first Olympic Four-Peater, Al Oerter.
(11/7/2010 correction: Oerter was not the original/first Olympic Four-Peater.)

Carberry also charts the history of past or potential Olympic Four-Peats, including 15 athletes -- five women and 10 men -- who may Olympic Four-Peat themselves into the history books AND Carberry's updated research during the Games of the XXXth Olympiad.

Yes, we are shopping for tickets to attend the potential Olympic Four-Peats (as stated in my previous post, Carberry and I also seek tickets so we may achieve a personal Olympic Three-Peat in spectating at the women's beach volleyball final in 2012).

Following Carberry's six-page report, a 10-page chart provides excruciating yet thorough detail about Olympic Three-Peat and Olympic Four-Peat achievements in modern Olympic history (only eight Olympians achieved Olympic Four-Peats thus far -- remarkable.

Commentators should clamor to describe the one-time Olympic Five-Peat (would that also be an Olympic Pent-Peat or Olympic Pente-Peat) and the single Olympic Six-Peat (Olympic Sex-Peat?) winners in history, Hungarian fencers Pál Kovács and Aladár Gerevich, respectively. CNN.com features a nice write-up about Gerevich.

By way of this post, I am encouraging Carberry to set up his own website, Facebook page and blog to showcase and elevate the terminology he proposed should have more prominence. This way, Brian and others will be able to continue to build a case for the Olympic Four-Peat vocabulary to achieve mainstream status in sports coverage and conversation.
An online resource dedicated to this topic will permit more interactive history and discussion on this topic, and give fans a place to reference -- in real time from London 2012 -- the status of the upcoming Olympic Four-Peat contenders.

To inspire Mr. Carberry to get online and get busy, I added an "Olympic Four-Peat" statement to the Al Oerter page on Wikipedia.
(11/7/2010 update: Because this statement was incorrect, it was later edited from the Wikipedia page; I stand corrected.)

And send a copy of the article to Mr. Costas -- he needs to read it.
Photo via this site

Sunday, October 31, 2010

At London's St. James Park, Life's A Beach

World travels took me through London twice, and only via the airport. One travel goal by next May is to check out the city in advance of London 2012.

So I've never seen, but often heard, of Downing Street and St. James Park. It pleased me to read that the London 2012 beach volleyball venue will be wedged between both destinations at a spectacular temporary venue, announced last week and reported by the Telegraph.

Both in Athens and Beijing, a good friend and I each trekked to Beach Volleyball for the women's gold medal finals. Kerri Walsh-Jennings and Misty May Treanor are 2-0 for gold, and a three-peat would be an awesome feat to witness.

In Athens, the venue was on the Mediterranean beach near Piraeus. In Beijing, an amusement park ground (in pouring rain). What will the London venue include? Views of Big Ben and the London Eye, apparently (can't wait).

Saturday, October 30, 2010

More Images from Salvador Dalí: The Late Work















To supplement the post of a few moments ago, here are a few more images captured at the media preview for Salvador Dalí: The Late Work, the current exhibition at Atlanta's High Museum of Art.

This is for REEL









With thanks to the High Museum of Art public relations team, a couple of months ago I attended a media preview for the current exhibition Salvador Dalí: The Late Work.
A few days later, in Milwaukee, at trip to The Monster Ball Tour provided a second dose of surreal, courtesy of Lady Gaga.

I read or heard over the years that Dalí infused zeal to his U.S. exhibition debut by creating a P.R. stunt, breaking into his own exhibition and getting arrested by New York City police. Everywhere you look these days, Gaga is creating a similar spectacle, sans police involvement thus far.

Among the most stunning moments of The Monster Ball is the series of video vignettes projected on a white curtain. In the mini art house films -- with Gaga, clad in some of her elaborate fashion creations including a white gown on which a female model vomits a neon green liquid to the squeals and screams (of awe and curious delight) of onlookers -- the visuals serve as filler during set changes for the event.

The complete Gaga experience from costumes to flaming props and custom guitars, and the videos in particular, made me wonder how big Dalí might be grinning if he were among the audience members. I also wondered how long it may be before Gaga will appear with her own handlebar moustache.

Today I read that the High Museum of Art is hosting its first SurREEL video contest with a deadline of mid-December. This is a tempting invitation to roll out the Flip Video camera and dust off the video editing skills.

Whether or not you choose to enter the contest, consider this recommendation and review of Dalí: The Late Work.

At the museum's main entrance to the Renzo Piano-designed structure, welcome signs covered with Dalí-esque red ants foreshadow some of the arachnid-inclusive paintings inside the venue. With ticket in hand, emerging from the gallery elevator, it's your Dalí Time, almost literally, as all eyes meet with a billboard-sized blowup of one of the Philippe Halsman's black and white photographs depicting Dalí's whiskers as the hands of a clock ("Dalí Time" appears also at the exhibition's end with a Time magazine cover among many magazine covers featuring the Spanish artist).

Each room of the exhibit includes many surprises. Among the Halsman photographs, for instance, there is a staged image in which Dalí appears to be hanging by his facial hair from a helicopter. This iconic image of the spread eagle and dangling painter appears later in some of the paintings.

Room two includes the small and beautiful painting Morphological Echo, which impressed me for its miniature detail much like the famous work, also of the 1930s, The Persistence of Memory soon to be added to the High exhibit, on loan from the Museum of Modern Art.

Bring on the ants!

Moving into the next gallery, the massive work Santiago El Grande is muy grande and draws you in for a peek up close (much like in the smaller works, this painting includes many small details worthy of close inspection).

During our media tour, some of the attending reporters took the guide's advice and got flat on the floor to gaze up at the expansive blue and white canvas. Standing at a distance, one can almost make out the head fashioned from the many arches that form a cathedral ceiling framing the centered white horse.

The same head shape appears across the room in a series of photographs of nudes who posed under Dalí's direction to form a skull. Take note of the white "teeth" made of the models' feet dusted with powder for effect.

Science and religion merge in Dalí: The Late Work through several works comprised of atomic particles turned surreal mosaics.

I also enjoyed the large gathering of portrait paintings, including a commissioned piece recognized on loan from the California Palace of the Legion of Honor. Favorite among these portraits: a painting of an unknown woman who apparently did not pay the artist, inspiring his brush to convert her likeness from socialite to Medusa. If my ex-girlfriend from St. Louis is out there reading this blog ... well, you know who's resemblance is striking in this snake head work.

It was good to see so many representations of Gala, Salvador's wife, in one place. She appears in several paintings from the early to the later years. Don't miss the Marilyn Monroe/Chairman Mao photograph and the sculptures that appear just beyond a side gallery exhibit of film works and collaboration with Andy Warhol.

By far my favorite surprise of Dalí: The Late Work appears in the final room of the exhibition.

Feast your eyes on Fifty Abstract Paintings Which as Seen from Two Yards Change into Three Lenins Masquerading as Chinese and as Seen from Six Yards Appear as the Head of a Royal Bengal Tiger. This is a painting I had not previously seen in the many Dalí books collected over the years. Bright, bold, and vivid.

And to its right is the Ben-Day Dot-filled Portrait of My Dead Brother which I had seen many times in books but now believe must be seen in person. Many of the dime-sized (or smaller) dots feature their own "personalities" while other details, observed up close (as close as security may let you get to the canvas) reveal another world from the large portrait of a boy.

It was in this final exhibition room, I asked Dalí scholar and exhibition/independent curator Elliott King whether any works by the artist (in the High exhibit or otherwise) had a specific Olympic connection. King seemed convinced there IS some possible five-ringed connection, but he could not recall one on the fly, including the Barcelona 1992 Games held near Dalí birthplace (in the moment King believed Dalí was part of Spain's Games which occurred three years after Dalí died -- we were unable to complete the interview as we were rudely interrupted by a film crew for the museum).

One thing missing from the Dalí: The Late Work -- and I believe a lost revenue opportunity for the High Museum of Art -- is Chupa Chups. Where are they? Not in the High Museum. Dalí designed the logo for this global candy brand, and it seemed a natural that these might be on hand (for sale) for folks departing the exhibit.

I wonder if the museum will hand out Chupa Chups for their Dalí-Ween Halloween event tomorrow. If not, that might chupa (suck).
It's my intention to visit the exhibition again once The Persistence of Memory arrives in November. If you have a favorite Dalí story or work to share, please post it as a comment on this blog and I'll send you a nice Barcelona 1992 Olympic pin or Olympic blog pin.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Atlanta Loses An Olympic Contributor

It was troubling to learn that one of my clients and new friends of the last year, Holly Mull of Holly Mull & Associates, suffered a major stroke last week.

Very sad to learn today she died Thursday, just a couple of weeks after her team produced the successful Midtown Festival of the Arts, which more than 20,000 people attended.

It was only through the Atlanta Journal-Constitution obituary, Maria Saporta's blog post and numerous Facebook messages of condolences that I learned of Holly's many connections spanning Atlanta's Olympic bid (all the way back to the late 1980s through September 1990 -- note, the AJC.com hyperlink takes you to an archived report which incorrectly lists Denver as the home of the U.S. Olympic Committee, which has always been based in Colorado Springs -- this uncorrected error from 1996 led to a factual error in today's AJC.com obituary -- where are the copy editors of 1996, and 2010?) and eventual work with the Centennial Olympic Games.

Holly mentioned her Olympic work from time to time, but never the full extent of her five-ringed contributions. Holly was just a couple of years younger than my mother, and seeing Holly in action at meetings and events reminded me of witnessing my mom's work with community events back home.

I will miss working with Holly. Condolences to her family and many friends and associates.

Photo via AJC.com, which attributes the photo to the family. This photo also appeared on the Holly Mull & Associates website

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Chicago 2016 One Year Later

Has it really been a year? A year since "Black Friday" in The Windy City?

Until receiving an email from World Sport Chicago on Friday, it almost slipped by this weekend: The anniversary of Rio de Janiero winning the 2016 Olympic Games bid, and Chicago's first-round elimination in the big vote at Copenhagen.

The loss for Chicago was a disappointment to thousands of people, notably the hard-working army of volunteers who donated time and resources to World Sport Chicago and the multi-year bid effort.

On this day, there are likely folks in Madrid and Tokyo pondering their Olympic dreams denied as well.

It still hurts thinking about the stunning news delivered via satellite when my girlfriend, her sister, thousands of Olympic enthusiasts and I stood shoulder to shoulder in Daley Plaza on a Friday morning. Like Phil Rogers expression and the "face" of the plaza's famous Picasso sculpture, the devastating news -- Chicago was out -- left us all breathless and frozen. Stunned silence. Like a kick hit everyone in the solar plexus.

I was very happy to learn yesterday, however, that one year later, World Sport Chicago, NBC 5 in Chicago and others collaborated to create a one year later video titled "Making Big Plans: The Story of Chicago's Olympic Dream" to focus on the positive aspects of the bid, and (I suspect) to close the books on the 2016 with an inspirational message for a future potential attempt to host the Olympic Games in Chicago. This was a classy move.

The trailer for the film includes Patrick Ryan, father of the bid, Mayor Daley and other key players from Chicago 2016. Here's wishing someone can share a recording of the full broadcast with me -- I really would like to view it.

Love that Ryan states "Chicago didn't lose. Rio won. But Chicago won in so many ways" and Mayor Daley summed it up with, "You have to take risks and if you don't you never succeed in life, and that's why I'm glad we did it in Chicago."

In my bones I have a feeling that Chicago will someday be a great Olympic host city. For 2016, it just wasn't our turn again for North America and the U.S. When another bid team is ready to start work, sign me up to help make some big plans.

The Social Network and the Olympics

Just got home from a matinee screening of "The Social Network" at Midtown Art Cinema.

"The Social Network" is about the best film I've seen in months, including a thoughtful, compelling and dry humor-packed script, an outstanding soundtrack (thrilled to see Trent Reznor in the opening credits), excellent acting, interesting photography (would love to know how they filmed the rowing competition to make it look like a miniature landscape), a bit of recent history and, of course, an Olympic connection.

Actually, two Olympic connections (or three, if you count each involved Olympian twin once).

Before getting to these five-ringed ties, a bit about the "The Social Network" overall:

I've only been in Boston twice, and on the Harvard campus once, during October in 2003, when and where this film opens. Through some of the opening sequences of Mark Zuckerberg trekking to his dorm after a breakup, the filmmakers really nailed it capturing the Harvard experience of an autumn evening. There's a curious energy -- perhaps from the convergence of intellectuals, money, society, history and creativity -- on the campus and somehow they caught it. Brilliant!

Mark Zuckerberg is portrayed by "Zombieland" and "Adventureland" co-star Jesse Eisenberg, and this role is likely going to go Oscar (I predict a nomination at least). He does a fine job delivering Zuckerberg douche bag one-liners as cool as George Carlin and his matter-of-fact style and timing.

I highly recommend seeing this film.

Much has been made in press and reviews for "The Social Network" regarding the film's dramedy versus factual portrayal of Facebook's early days. In my book, mincing the facts for the sake of a more entertaining story is OK in the movies (provided the mincing is acknowledged). But I did take issue with one of the mini-fictions portrayed in "The Social Network," and this is where the Olympic connections come into the picture.

Two of the main characters in both the true, and faux-non-fiction, stories of Facebook are the twin Olympic rowers for Team USA: Tyler Winklevoss and Cameron Winklevoss.

I must admit, unfortunately, in spite of Olympic writing and travels, today was the first time either of their names came into my world. Apparently they both competed in rowing at the Beijing Olympics (and I even went to the rowing venue in 2008!). One must take for granted that the filmmakers for"The Social Network" took liberties with their portrayal of with Winklevoss twins.

But where the filmmakers crossed the line, or brought even more fiction into the mix, is during a scene of "The Social Network" where the Winklevi (a clever nickname from Zuckerberg) allegedly met Prince Albert of Monaco at a British rowing event.

They got this scene downright wrong on three details (here comes the Nick-nitpicking).

First off, Prince Albert of Monaco does not have a British accent (duh!).

Next, Prince Albert, though articulate, thoughtful and genuine in conversations and public events, could not have stated the script as shown in the film, for Mr. Grimaldi has a very slight stutter (10/3: correction speech impediment*), which is apparent in an interview with the Monégasque IOC member for this blog (here's a link to that interview filmed in Vancouver earlier this year).

Third, I doubt that such an introduction of the Winklevoss brothers would have taken place without some Olympic discussion during the conversation, seeing as the Winklevoss Twins aspired to compete in Beijing and Prince Albert is a five time Olympian.

Did the screenwriters or the actor portraying Prince Albert, James Shanklin, do ANY research of Prince Albert (other than his haircut and suits ... oh, wait, the makeup and costume crews did that research)? It came as no surprise to discover that Shanklin's background includes acting in soap operas and the occasional TV episode. Bravo!

OK, that's all the nitpicking for this post.

Like I wrote, "The Social Network" is excellent and worth the time and ticket price -- and (bonus!) not a single car chase, firearm or 34B breast on screen (though Zuckerberg does reference at least one of these three topics in one of his blog posts at the opening of the film.

Enjoy!
*10/3: Upon reflection since original post, determined he does not really have a stutter, but rather a regular pause during speech.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

NY Times: USOC Works to Combat Athlete Abuse

Found an interesting sports brief in today's New York Times, noting the U.S. Olympic Committee will help NGBs tackle the issue of abusive coaches.

Though Lynn Zinser's report was just a couple of paragraphs in print, it's worth a read of the full article.

The U.S.O.C. announcement also includes details on this program, with additional team news also archived here.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps ... But Audience Members Do Sleep!

Earlier this year I wrote a preview post regarding "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" (now in theatres and the No. 1 film of the weekend).

The May 2010 prediction that the film "might suck" unfortunately came true, though it was not as bad as this blogger expected when purchasing my ticket.

Add this film to the pile of sequels that failed to live up to the original.

A few highlights on the "disappointed" side:

  • David Byrne, Brian Eno and the Talking Heads tunes return to the soundtrack. Sadly, the songs went overplayed (one tune in particular seemed to crop up over and over, with no instrumentals of the first film; instead, a lackluster Craig Armstrong mix played in some scenes, prompting the question, "does this theatre sell No-Doz?"
  • Though the motorcycle "chase" of the trailer proves to be more of a "competitive ride" for boss and employee, the whole scene was unnecessary and, ultimately, another in a series of poorly written dialogue punctuated by a predictable and forgettable "F*ck You!" (c'mon, in the original, the dialogue had much more clever angry exchanges ... for instance, "When I get a hold of the son of a bitch who leaked this, I'm gonna tear his eyeballs out and I'm gonna suck his f*cking skull!"-- now, that is some dialogue!)
  • The set-up for the motorcycle scene begins with a Manhattan helicopter ride for Shia LaBeouf that is reminiscent of those ridiculous Scottrade chopper ads that subtly showcase that "with every spin of this rotor, we're burning your investment money in the form of jet fuel."
  • No Daryl Hannah. They dug up the 100+ year old Manhattan realtor from the first film, but could not find a way to bring back Daryl Hannah.
  • Whoever the actress is playing Gordon Gekko's daughter = poor man's Katie Holmes, with bad hair. Future viewers may consider drinking games built around the volume of crying scenes for this performance. "She's crying again -- take another shot!"
  • What in the world were they thinking, writing in two (lame) scenes for Susan Sarandon? Hello -- she is an Oscar winner, and like Sigourney Weaver in "Avatar," Sarandon's talent was totally wasted.
  • No Terence Stamp. I got hopeful of a cameo by Stamp when Gekko set up shop in London for the sequel. Alas, no Stamp.
  • Little or no actual footage of Wall Street (the geographic location).

During the course of the film, an on-screen graphic sequence pops up from time to time, taking a panoramic skyline shot and converting it into a graph of declining stocks. This might as well have been a flat line or a heart monitor -- I found myself squirming in my seat several times, shaking my head, asking why "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" was so drawn out and downright boring.

Photo via this MSN link and 20th Century Fox

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Chicago, Don't Tease Me

Catching up on weekend Olympic headlines, came across a UPI.com story noting that Chicago Mayor Richard Daley shared advice for future administrations (since he will not seek reelection) regarding a possible 2020 Olympic bid.

It hasn't yet been a year since Rio de Janiero won the Games for 2016 (with Chicago out in early voting by the International Olympic Committee -- that was a long and gray day in The Windy City).

According to the article, Daley's caution was that the IOC is likely to continue selection of host cities based on geographic locations where the Games did not yet visit: Africa, the Middle East, India.

While I tend to agree with this assessment, the Olympics have not been to the Midwest U.S. since St. Louis in 1904 -- only a state away from Chicago. Could this be a shimmer of hope for Chicago that Mayor Daley inadvertently planted?

Given the Commonwealth Games fiasco in India, that does perhaps move that nation way down the "next for the Olympics" target list. Africa could indeed be a contender. Not sure about the Middle East.
Whatever the case, Chicago, please don't tease! Will the city jump into another bid? That would be something!
Photo via UPI.com

Atlanta's New Midtown Festival of the Arts Arrives!

After two years of planning, Atlanta's new Midtown Festival of the Arts (a client) finally arrived on Peachtree Street yesterday.

It's awesome to witness the throngs of residents and visitors shopping, dining and strolling between 10th Street and 5th Street, just a few blocks from my Midtown residence.

I first learned about plans for the Midtown Festival of the Arts on a call during June 2009. A small group of Midtowners was working hard to secure sponsors and permits to set a very high standard for future event planners seeking to close Peachtree Street. By all indicators on Friday and Saturday, the work of this core group, as well as hundreds of additional volunteers who came on board during the last year, has paid off big time.

One of the best things about Midtown Festival of the Arts is the food. My girlfriend and I shared a break on Saturday to dine at "Plates On Peachtree," where we were treated to gourmet samples from Bacchanalia, Ra Sushi, Gordon Biersch, South City Kitchen, Ecco and other culinary arts establishments across Atlanta. I highly recommend the sweet corn ice cream and lobster corn dogs, courtesy of Park 75.

Several media outlets previewed or reviewed the Festival this week. Today's weather is bound to cooperate, making for a pleasant afternoon in Midtown Atlanta.

We're heading back to the Festival on Sunday to pick up some hand-made pottery art from a couple of the artists along Peachtree Street. Hope to see you there!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Olympian Interview: Gail Devers

Shared a fun phone conversation this week with Gail Devers, Olympic champion in athletics.

An Atlanta resident, Devers was on site at the Carver School of Health Sciences & Research for an appearance to speak about the importance of balance, exercise and eating well. We also chatted briefly about her role with the GE BEE Healthy program (disclosure: GE is a client of Edelman, my employer).

On the same day in Atlanta, the GE Foundation announced selection of two Atlanta area non-profit community health centers -- West End Medical Center and Southside Medical Center -- will split $1 million in grants.
Devers impressed me for her positive outlook at the points she made about doing things with a high standard of excellence and thoughtful approach. We started the conversation going way back to her own school days in California, where she graduated high school a Class of '84 member, just in time for the Los Angeles Olympic Games.

"I went up to L.A. [as a spectator] ... for the Olympics," said Devers, responding to questions about the extent to which the Los Angeles Olympic competition inspired her career. "Sitting in the stands, looking at the best runners, seeing Florence [Griffith-Joyner] get silver ... this all made me strive the best I could be.
"Before 1984, to me the Olympics as 'history' in that I was a fan of famous runners, like Wilma Rudolph," said Devers. "L.A. put it in my head, 'I will compete for as long as I can."

We also talked about the five Olympiads at which Devers competed: Seoul, Barcelona, Atlanta, Sydney and Athens.
Devers is now the mother of a two year old and kindergartner.
"I always regarded myself as health conscious, but it is important to be fit 'for life' not just an athletic career," said Devers. "I want to stay fit and hang out with my two- and five-year olds!"
Staying in shape was among the key messages Devers sought to share with the young adult audience in Atlanta.
"It is important to set goals, but if you are not living right, it's lost potential," said Devers.
Devers also shared detail about her former role with Chicago 2016 and the U.S. Olympic bid, noting her location for the Oct. 2 announcement of Rio's successful bid.
"I was home [in Atlanta] watching CNN," said Devers. "Unfortunately it wasn't meant to be for Chicago."

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Youth Olympic Games Underway

The last couple of weeks are a bit of a blur. First the mad dash of a pre-vacation week, then the mad dash of the vacation time itself (most recent trek included blend of food, family and sightseeing in Dallas, Fort Worth and Oklahoma City).

Also took on a writing project with the Edmond Sun newspaper in the home town where my folks live. Their sports editor was kind enough to indulge my suggestion that I write a report on one of the Edmond entrants to the Youth Olympic Games now underway in Singapore. Inquiring minds may check out the full sports report online in the Edmond Sun archive. Good luck to Edmond's YOG participants Gunnar Nixon and Micha Hancock!

Upon returning to Atlanta and catching up on Olympic news, was saddened to read that David Wolper, producer of the magnificent Los Angeles Olympic Opening Ceremony of 1984, died last week. Wolper's work on the Games made a tremendous impression on me 26 years ago -- I was fortunate enough to shake his hand during the July 18, 1996, Atlanta Olympic Opening Ceremony dress rehearsal (Wolper was running around like a kid in a Willy Wonka candy store and we crossed paths near one of the tunnels).

Was curious to find headlines about Olympic figure skater Nicole Bobek found some new 'meth'ods of spending her spare time.

And this just in: Kerri Walsh and other beach volleyball greats may hold their ground regarding an upcoming tournament seeking to play by 'retro' rules.

I'm currently reading a new Olympic book titled The 1972 Munich Olympics and the Making of Modern Germany. Will work to post a review of this new text by Kay Schiller and Christopher Young before month's end.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Olympic Headline Hodgepodge

Lots of weekend Olympic headlines.

Olympic swimmer Amanda Beard talked to the New York Times about motherhood.

Beijing's Water Cube is set to open as China's grandest water park on Aug. 8.

Jim Thorpe's family is duking it out in court with the town of Jim Thorpe, Pa. (don't let me bury the lead -- the family wants to move Thorpe's casket to his Oklahoma home town).

Commonwealth Games calamity is just one of many "issues" for India's Olympic leadership.

X marks the spot for Gagnon, not Shaun White.

Have a great week!
Photo via this site

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Get Inspired

Quiet day in Atlanta, except for the thunder. This afternoon in Midtown there were lighting strikes like those in "War of the Worlds," plus torrential rain. Great day for catching up on emails.

One inbox message unlocked some inspiration: A note from an old friend who now lives in Denver.

I first meet Tricia Downing while we interned at the U.S. Olympic Training Center during the summer of 1995. For three months we lived, with about a dozen other interns, in the former military barracks on the southeast corner of the USOTC (steps away from the nation's best athletes-in-training for Atlanta 1996, and in the other direction just a few blocks from "The Jock's Trap" bar).

Tricia, the other interns and I worked hard that summer. Fortunately, one of the perks of living at the USOTC was free access to the dining hall. And except for a couple of intern excursions or crossing paths in the dorms, visiting over meals was the main time Tricia and I got to chat.

Five years later, got a call that Tricia was involved in a terrible cycling accident, leaving her paralyzed from the chest down by a driver making an improper turn. Fortunately, a few years later on her visit to Georgia, a mini-reunion for four of us former interns proved that Tricia persevered through the terrible challenges she faced at age 32.

Today's email announced Trish recently completed a published book telling her story. I ordered a copy immediately after reading the first two chapters shared via her website, http://www.trishdowning.com/.

Also got some additional inspiration from this Oct. 2007 Muscle & Fitness feature on Trish.

I hope you will join me in supporting Trish by purchasing her book and looking into Redefining Able, Inc., which she founded. Go-Trish-GO!

Photo via Amazon.com

Friday, July 30, 2010

Wannabe Marine One Helicopter Buzzes Downtown Atlanta

Since a third grade "transportation unit" assignment, I have remained in awe of helicopters.

Today at my high rise desk on the 29th floor of an office building, it was amazing to see Marine One -- or at least a helicopter that would be named as such if President Obama was aboard -- buzzing over downtown Atlanta with a clear sky as its backdrop ... in flight at eye level!

Wishing my camera was handy, watching the massive "bug" one could clearly see "United States of America" emblazoned in white letters across the glossy black tail boom. The aircraft cruised into the downtown area from the east then banked north, over Centennial Olympic Park, continuing along Interstate 75 in the direction of Cobb Co. (home of Dobbins AFB).

I suspect this was a logistics flight -- getting the helicopter into place for a presidential visit elsewhere -- as there was no apparent escort aircraft. A couple of hours later another giant military helicopter buzzed downtown, destination unknown.

Would be cool to see Marine One up close. Anyone got a hook-up at the White House to help me with that?

Photo via this site
WEEKEND UPDATE AUG. 1, 2010: According to this Atlanta Journal-Constitution report by Ariel Hart, President Obama is landing at the aforementioned Dobbins AFB on Monday morning, then heading to the Hyatt tower in downtown Atlanta (via Marine One?). That would be cool to see the presidential helicopter in action again! My camera will be ready. Hail to the Chief in Chopper!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Better Know An N.O.C -- Paraguay

It's been too long since the last post of a "B.K.A.N.O.C." -- Better Know An N.O.C.

This entry is for South America's national Olympic committee for landlocked Paraguay, which is nestled amid Brazil, Argentina and Bolivia.

A few years ago I experienced Paraguay first hand, first entering from Brazil via Ciudad del Este, terrified because our taxi did not stop at the border crossing on the Paraguay side of a large arch bridge (some travel books warn that Ciudad del Este is about the least-safe city in South America). Fortunately when we finally stopped the cab and walked back to the bridge, the crossing guard laughed and instructed us to "just go back" to Brazil. Whew! We carried our backpacks while some of the locals carried parcels of goodness knows what.

At any rate, a few days later, had a more relaxed entry into Paraguay at the southern border town Encarnacion, which is a fun little metropolis. It was interesting to see an early 1900s locomotive -- a real one -- in operation (on about a quarter mile of track) on one corner of town. Our "downtown" Encarnacion hotel was $4 per night. Great food at the town square, and the sushi restaurant beside the bus depot!

But back to Paraguay's N.O.C. and Olympic connections.

Paraguay entered the Olympic Family in 1968 with a single foil Olympic fencing competitor at Mexico City, and Paraguay fielded a team at each summer Olympiad since (except 1980 as the nation joined the U.S.-led boycott of Moscow's Games). Paraguay has just one medal -- silver in the 2004 Athens football (soccer) finals against Argentina.

I won't soon forget Paraguay's track and field entrant at Athens and Beijing (and I hope London): Olympic javelin would not be the same without Paraguay's Leryn Franco hurling Paraguay's Olympic dreams across the Olympic Stadium grounds every four years.

After a night in Encarnacion, my girlfriend, her sister and I took a jalopy bus to Asuncion, which is also an interesting metropolis and home to the Paraguay Olympic Committee. Some of the friendliest people in South America are in Asuncion, and we were impressed with the historic architecture.

I'll be rooting for Paraguay at London 2012 (their team at the 2010 World Cup did well; expect good things in the U.K. competition.

Photo via this Flickr account

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Cincinatti 2024 Olympic Bid

You read it here first, folks.

Cincinnati, the Ohio metropolis that is home to the International Olympic Committee's new TOP Olympic sponsor Proctor & Gamble (P&G), is planning a bid for the 2020 or 2024 Olympic Games!

Just kidding.

But with today's announcement that P&G will share its wealth with the IOC and the U.S. Olympic Committee now through 2020, a decision by Cincinnati to dust off its 2008 and 2012 Olympic bid books would not be as much of a stretch as, say, this time yesterday.

According to P&G's press release, quoted executives from the company are "proud" and "thrilled" about the 10-year Olympic partnership (unfortunately, proud and thrilled are, in this public relations writer's opinion, two of the most overused press release executive canned quote buzzwords).

But even with (Pringles?) canned quotes, P&G is embarking on an interesting global program titled "Raising an Olympian, The P&G Momumentary Project," through which a "video series will tell the stories of Olympic hopefuls as seen through the eyes of their moms."

I like the program -- probably would have considered "Olympic MOMents" as an alternative title (maybe in creating the word "Momumentary" there was a MOMentary lapse of ... hmmm, I don't know), but I will tune in regardless.

Today's P&G and IOC press event in Manhattan included several top Olympians' mothers, which may be viewed in an online photo gallery.

Other noteworthy items from the announcement:

  • " ... due to the success seen during the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, P&G is in the early stages of evaluating plans to host a family home facility at the London 2012 Olympic Games for all U.S. athletes, similar to the one in Vancouver at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. The P&G Family Home was a place where all U.S. athletes and their families could relax, do laundry, entertain their children, and participate in other family activities.

  • "For P&G, [the sponsorship] is about partnering with the IOC to make life better for athletes, moms and their families as we take the Olympic Movement to our four billion consumers around the world that our brands already serve.

  • "P&G will continue helping athletes, moms and families immediately. As part of the 'Proud Sponsor of Moms' campaign, the company will continue its 'Thank You Mom' program in conjunction with the IOC's inaugural Youth Olympic Games to be held in Singapore from Aug. 14-26, 2010.

  • "P&G will help up to 25 moms of Youth Olympic athletes from around the world, including three mothers of U.S. athletes, with their travel and lodging costs so they can be in Singapore with their children as they compete." (NOTE to P&G P.R.: If you are sponsoring either of the moms from Edmond, Okla., with YOG athletes heading to Singapore, email me for my news reports, in progress, on these two Oklahoma athletes)

P&G began as a candle manufacturer in the 1800s, so one may ponder ... did IOC founder Baron Pierre de Coubertin draw some inspiration while reading by P&G candlelight in 1894?

Sadly we may never know the answer to this burning question.

The P&G and Olympic Rings illustration is a blend of images at this link and this link, respectively

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Fitness Ambassadors Bound For London 2012

With today's two-year countdown to London 2012, my inbox contained a handful of Olympic announcements, including one tied to my Edelman colleagues working with 24 Hour Fitness.

According to a U.S. Olympic Committee press release, the San Ramon, Calif.-based company is creating a U.S. Team High Performance Training Center (HPTC) in London, which will be staffed by "Fitness Ambassadors" (a.k.a. 24 Hour Fitness team members from their 420 locations).

The 2012 HPTC is now under construction at the Docklands Campus of the University of East London.

National Governing Bodies (NGBs) -- the national federations for Olympic sports in the U.S. -- also benefit from the 24 Hour Fitness NGB Incentive Program and Elite Membership program, according to the press release.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

More Olympic Acronyms Coming Soon

There's a running joke, or trend, or something (can't put finger on how the right noun) from one Olympic organizing committee (OOC) to the next.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC), U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) or other National Olympic Committees (NOCs), international federations (IFs) and even the global TOP Olympic sponsors have TMAs -- Too Many Acronyms.

According to the AP -- that's the Associated Press -- and ATR (Around The Rings), two more acronyms are signing up for five-ringed status this week: BMW and P&G.

Bayerische Motoren Werke AG was not a big surprise. After all, BMW provided hundreds of gorgeous new cars used by the NOCs staying at the Atlanta OLV (Olympic Village, where their global CEO -- chief executive officer -- presented me a sweet BMW sponsor pin).

Also, BMW's global showcase BMW Museum in Munich is nestled between the 1972 Olympic Village and Olympiapark (if you haven't seen these three sites, they are worth a round trip flight no matter where you live, and you need at least three days to see them all).

Proctor & Gamble. Well, they aren't exactly a surprise either. In Vancouver they had a broad range of engagement underway, and a lot of their product found its way onto The Colbert Report post-Games. What surprised me is their likely announcement of TOP global sponsor status so close to Dow Chemical's IOC sponsor announcement. But then, Tuesday, July 27, marks the two-years-to-London 2012 milestone, so the timing is right.

What other brands do you want to see in the OAS (Olympic Acronym Scene)?

TTYL.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Piece of Work -- Joan Rivers

Love low-key Saturdays. A couple hours shipping eBay items to buyers. A hour for laundry. Slowly reading the newspaper (rather than scanning the paper's website). AND ... time to catch a flick.

Today's pick was "Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work," the new documentary that arrived last month. Though it's doubtful this film will be up for an Oscar, it is well-made, interesting and best of all, seriously funny. The New York Times review of the film made me curious -- glad the film finally showed up in Atlanta.

I was never much of a Rivers fan. Most recollections of her work are from drivel red carpet shows for big Hollywood events. Had no idea she apparently won on "Celebrity Apprentice" (new drivel) last year. The documentary shed some good light on Rivers, outlining her rise and fall and constant ups and downs since the 1960s.

It was impressive, too, to see her floor to ceiling (and I suspect custom-built) index card file cabinet drawers crammed, card catalog-style, with thousands and thousands of hand-written or typed note cards, each with its own joke and punchline. Paraphrasing here ...
" ... When you get old, your body droops. Your boobs droop. Even your vagina droops. I woke up the other day and looked down to see I was wearing bunny slippers with gray fur."

" ... I often address my staff as, 'Hey, Staff," because I can't remember their names. The other day I said, "Hey, staff. I'm lonely. Who's gonna f*ck me tonight?"
And in describing her Manhattan high rise home, decked out much like a Donald Trump condo or Liberace set (top to bottom historic French opulence), she said,


"This is what Mary Antoinette's condo would have looked like if she were rich."

The film follows Rivers through a year of her career -- and her 75th year on earth -- including the launch of a new stage play in the U.K., her Trump show appearance, chats with her daughter and about her absent agent (the audience learns his fate), and 'a day in the life' shots with her personal assistant trying to keep her schedule full morning, noon and night.

In addition to the card file/joke archive, I was impressed with Rivers' charity work (including annual Thanksgiving Day traditions for those in need), and appalled to learn what happened to her late husband (I had no idea). After seeing some of the downs Rivers endured, it was a relief to see some successes, too, including how Rivers manhandled a heckler at a casino stand up gig in Wisconsin.

Not in the film, there's at least one Joan Rivers Olympic joke online. Here's hoping Rivers will take her show on the road again for some club or theatre gigs -- she would likely bring down the house!

Photo via IMDB

Friday, July 23, 2010

Two Years And Counting


Tuesday marks the two-years-out milestone for London 2012. Donning my marketing cap, I wrote a guest post for Edelman's global ConsumerActionism blog, highlighting some Olympic planning that's likely underway via TOP Olympic sponsors and those who might seek to ambush market to London Olympic audiences. Hope you'll check out the post and the range of other content on the Edelman (where I work) site.

Photo via London 2012/LOCOG, an Edelman client

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Cool Event Alert!

Surfing the Atlanta event scene, tonight I found word of a potentially off-the-chart cool event set for August 7 in Atlanta.

The High Museum of Art will host the "So Real ... Surreal Soiree" to open its new exhibition "Dali: The Late Work" featuring a variety of works by Salvador Dali.

Dali is one of my all-time favorites. It's been ages since my Florida trek to St. Petersburg to see the U.S. museum dedicated to Dali's work (hint: a fantastic experience!). It will be intriguing to see how the High presents the Catalan artist to an Atlanta audience.

One detail I've searched for in the past was any possible connection Dali may have had to Spain's numerous Olympic bids, including their successful Barcelona 1992 bid (which was in play around the time Dali died). So this may be my scavenger hunt topic for the High's new exhibition -- did any of the artist's late works tie back to the Games?

Perhaps the closest-to-Olympic work by Dali I've seen is "The Hallucinogenic Torreador" -- a massive work (see photo with this post) -- at St. Petersburg. The painting has an arena theme (and so much more).

The soiree invitation mentions the event includes "a phunky photo booth, Flamenco guitarist, a jewelry trunk show, live DJ, a wearable art fashion show highlighting several Atlanta artists, face paining" and more. I suspect tapas and/or Sangria will be on the menu.

Check out all the details at the High Museum website. Hope to see you there. I'll be the one wishing I had a handle bar or Dali moustache.

Photos via High Museum and this Flickr account

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Team USA Roster for Youth Olympic Games


The roster of young Team USA competitors heading to the inaugural Youth Olympic Games (next month, in Singapore) are now published. The U.S. Olympic Committee released the athlete roster on Friday.

As an Atlanta resident, I was happy to find several Georgia athletes among the selected students. Specifically, there are Youth Olympic athletes hailing from Conyers, Dublin, Leesburg, Powder Springs and Stone Mountain, Ga.

It was surprising and cool to also find that my hometown Edmond, Okla., will be represented by two local rising stars -- one in volleyball, the other in track (perhaps the YOG-bound Edmond high jumper is training on the Edmond Memorial High School track where I failed to clear a single high jump bar in the early 1990s).

Check out the USOC press release and YOG team roster online to learn the names of your hometown favorites. YOG opening ceremonies kick things off on Aug. 14.

Graphic via Sportcal

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