Wednesday, May 19, 2010

London 2012 Mascots Have An Eye On You

Today the world was introduced to Wenlock and Mandeville, the new London Olympic mascots.

Media outlets are picking up the story, and folks are starting to chime in with their views about the new characters that will populate merchandise, venues and all things London 2012 now through the Games.

Since the new eyecons, er, icons for London 2012 -- which both have a single oculus (or would that be ocula?) and a Terminator 2-like shiny, computer-generated exterior -- are a client of the P.R. firm where I work, I'll leave it to readers to share their thoughts on the new arrivals.

From the London 2012 press release (full version available here):

"Wenlock and Mandeville were created from the last drops of steel left over from the construction of the final support girder for the [London 2012] Olympic Stadium. An animated film, based on a story by children’s author Michael Morpurgo, shows how the figures were brought to life and are able to reflect and adapt to their surroundings, changing their appearance depending on the situation. Wenlock and Mandeville will now go on separate journeys, often crossing paths and meeting people all over the country inspiring them to choose sport as they head towards the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.

"The mascots’ names reflect the UK’s rich Olympic and Paralympic histories. Wenlock’s name is inspired by the Shropshire village of Much Wenlock where the ‘Wenlock Games’ was one of the inspirations that led the founder of the modern Olympic movement Baron Pierre de Coubertin to create the Olympic Games. Mandeville’s name is inspired by Stoke Mandeville in Buckinghamshire. In the 1940s, Dr. Ludwig Guttmann came to Stoke Mandeville Hospital to set up a new spinal unit to help former soldiers suffering from spinal cord injuries. Looking for ways to inspire those in his care, he encouraged them to take up sport, leading to the formation of the Stoke Mandeville Games, widely recognised as a forerunner of the modern Paralympic movement."

Wenlock has its own Facebook page and Twitter page, and Mandeville also has its own Facebook page and Twitter page.

What are your thoughts?

Photo via London 2012

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Turn The Beat Around

According to the BBC, the London Cultural Olympiad team today launched a search for new music for the 2012 Olympic Games.

The competition, open to U.K. composers, is named New Music 20 x 12, with an October 1 deadline for submissions.

This week marks the deadline to submit votes in the Olympic blog survey of which U.K. music acts should perform at the London Olympic opening ceremony (drag your mouse to the right side of the screen to cast your ballots). Paul McCartney is the clear favorite so far.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (might suck)

Today I stumbled onto the trailer for "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" -- the sequel to Oliver Stone's outstanding "Wall Street" of 1987.

Unfortunately, not impressive.
My first hangup is that, according to the trailer, the plot features Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) trying to patch things up with his estranged daughter. HELLO -- the original film features G.G. as a proud father of a chubby BOY (not a daughter) in a few family shots with Gekko's on-screen spouse (the socialite played by Sean Young).
Obvious factual errors/inconsistencies from one film to its sequel = huge pet peeve.

Another trailer item that bothers me about the sequel is the apparent absence of any of the other key players from the original. Where is Terence Stamp, who played Gekko's fellow power baron who "could buy the stock just to burn [Gekko's] ass!"?
Where is Daryl Hannah, G.G.'s bombshell interior designer? And what of Ms. Young, or James Spader? None of their "Wall Street" characters made the cut for part two, according to IMDB.

According to news reports from Cannes, where a preview screening of "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps," there is a cameo from Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen). But no Martin Sheen -- makes sense he would not appear again (since the Bud Fox character, his son, is not a key player in part deux).
Are the writers of the sequel so weak they couldn't find creative ways to bring back the original cast?

The Terence Stamp character alone -- and his role in the Gordon Gekko take down in the original film -- need some closure: Did Sir Larry Wildman (Stamp) go to the clinker as did Gekko? I hope this question is answered when the film makes it stateside in September.
The previews for the "Wall Street" sequel are also spoiled by the selected music -- the original film had great tunes by Frank Sinatra, David Byrne and others. The "Money Never Sleeps" trailer is punctuated by a hit by The Rolling Stones, indicative of another way the sequel diverges (down a poorly chosen road) from the original.
And a motor cycle chase? WTF?!?
The new characters portrayed by Carey Mulligan, Josh Brolin and Shia LaBeouf ... boring, plain, yuk.
Frank Langella, apparently portraying one of the Feds ... barf.
About the only entertaining thing about the trailer was the scene of Gekko checking out of prison, receiving his brick-sized Motorola mobile phone from the beach scene in movie one.
Like Gekko trying to re-use that phone in modern times, I suspect viewers of "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" may anticipate only "bad service."

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Edmond, Okla., On The Map (and Ellen)

Earlier this week I was treated to a seat at the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG)-hosted Young Professionals session at which Ubercool Michael Tchong delivered an excellent presentation titled "I'm Going To Tweet You Up."

His presentation title smacks of inspiration from Tom Cruise's character in "Tropic Thunder." I loved his fast-paced information sharing and his Cruise-like shift from calm to dramatic delivery.

At any rate, one of Tchong's key presentation points regarding learning to spot trends versus fads in social media conversations.

Tonight one of the latter -- the fad of everyone and their mother filming a Lady Gaga-inspired video -- crossed my screen, and it ties back to my hometown, Edmond, Okla.

Turns out a middle school kid who lives not far from my family recently performed a Lady Gaga song at a recital. Someone taped it (did Flip Cameras other than mine really make it to Oklahoma?) and put it on YouTube. Some Tweets here, some hyperlinks there. BAM! The kid is on "Ellen" this week as the web sensation (fad) du jour sharing a TV conversation with Lady Gaga (who, by the way, has been driving a lot of other fad videos of late -- I am intentionally not hyperlinking these since everything she touches already has gazillions of hits).

So, as happy as I am to find a news story of a fellow "Edmond kid done good" (the Lady Gaga piano player, named Greyson Michael Chance, is likely the biggest news personality out of Edmond since Olympic champion Shannon Miller), it is unfortunate that at least a portion of Chance's 15 minutes in the spotlight got picked up in fad-dom.

Questions start coming to mind: How is he possibly going to top this before graduating from high school, let alone the eighth grade? Did this kid really want to go down in Edmond history as "the boy with Lady Gaga's voice?"

Perhaps he could be the first to create a trend of some sort ... YouTube Lady Gaga wannabes asking Lady Gaga to the spring dance?

Photo via Ellen

Singapore: Youth Olympic Games

The countdown continues to the debut Youth Olympic Games (YOG), set to take place in 92 days in Singapore.

During the Vancouver Games there were three YOG executives in attendance at the World Olympians Association gathering one evening, and it was a pleasure to learn more about this new event of the International Olympic Committee.

According to the YOG "99 Days" countdown press release, the inaugural YOG will include around 5,000 athletes from up to 205 national Olympic committees. There are 26 sports events to be contested, and culture/education initiatives are part of the festivities. I found the YOG FAQ section quite informative.

From what I've seen so far, this global event has some similarities to the U.S. Olympic Festival concept used by the U.S. Olympic Committee from 1978 to 1995, since the YOG is for younger athletes (though the USOF also included adult Olympians in some competitions, based on the level of athletes each national governing body sent to the Festival, the majority of competitors -- especially in the latter USOFs, tended to be high school athletes).

I haven't yet been to Singapore, but this event is of interest -- anyone out there got a few grand to send my way as "official sponsor of the five-ringed blogger" (LOL)?

Stay tuned for updates on YOG final preparation. And please write to me or comment if you know a specific YOG-ger (competitor heading to the YOG in Singapore).

Photo of skyline via this site. Map via

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Say Hello To My Little Friend

During a recent visit to Maui, our Haleakala bike tour stopped for provisions at a mountainside general store, and our group was surprised to spot a chameleon climbing on a large flowering shrub where we parked.
Imagine my girlfriend's shock and embarrassment as I reached out to grab the green gal (our tour guide informed us this chameleon is a female), later to discover than I slashed my wrist on the shrub's massive protective thorns (ouch!).

So, say hello to our little Maui friend, who left our tour group singing Boy George songs for the last part of our ride.

Photos by Nicholas Wolaver and Donna S.

More Aloha Photos

Based on popular demand, here's another round of Hawaii photos from recent travels to Maui and Oahu. The yellow windbreakers are courtesy of the sunrise tour and bike ride back down Haleakala (with numerous stops on our journey).

Photos by Nicholas Wolaver and Donna S.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Aloha Photos

For friends and family who asked since my recent return from Maui and Oahu holiday, this post includes some "Top Pick" photos from the trip to the islands. Aloha!

All photos by Nicholas Wolaver

Thoughts of Lena Horne

Lena Horne was one of the first famous people I learned about via "Sesame Street" -- any time she came on the screen, she had my attention for her big, soft eyes and her bigger voice.

Here are a few Lena Horne greatest hits, if only as a result of the Children's Television Workshop.

But even with Kermit and The Muppets, for Lena Horne, nobody beats "The Wiz" and her version of "Believe In Yourself."

So long, Lena.

Photo via Fanboy

Monday, May 10, 2010

Where The Wind Comes Sweeping Down The Plain

Just got the news that tornadoes are raging tonight in my home state, Oklahoma. Who knew than when I phoned home briefly a few hours ago, only miles from my parents' house there were cars and tractor trailers getting tossed off the Interstate?
Leave it to KWTV 9, home of Gary England (the weather expert who appeared in the film "Twister"), to capture the jaw-dropping video and photos of the storms during sunset. Amazing!

Haven't seen TV news helicopter coverage of a tornado like that since the KARE 11 chopper won an Emmy for flying during a major twister in the Twin Cities (I later flew with the pilot of this video on April 19, 1995).

Growing up there, there was only one night when tornadoes got too close for comfort -- it was the night of my 12th birthday, and also a middle school band concert delayed by the citywide tornado alarms blaring (picture dozens of middle schoolers in formal band geek attire gathered in halls to duck and cover next to their clarinets and tambourines).

About 30 homes got blown away that night, including a residence next to, or that actually belonged to, the family of fellow Edmond resident Shannon Miller (at the time she was not yet on the Olympic scene, but as I recall, her memoirs mention the storm).

Tonight's breaking news photos are about as dramatic as the storms from that night back in 1985.

Writing about Oklahoma makes me think of the stage performances of "Oklahoma!" and some of the popular films in which song lyrics from the musical appeared. Two favorites, of course, are Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan singing "Fringe On The Top" at a Sharper Image store in "When Harry Met Sally," topped twice, first with the ensuing "wagon wheel coffee table" scened, then by Dr. Hannibal Lecter in "The Silence of the Lambs" with his epic quote (and music song title) "People Will Say We're In Love."

Here's hoping the folks in Oklahoma are safe and accounted for tonight -- may the storms quickly keep sweeping down the plain (and on over into Arkansas!).

Monday, May 3, 2010

Goodbye, Georgy Girl

Lately it seems that the only time I find to blog is right around the time some celebrity dies.

Sorry for another bad news post, but this one is about the passing of Lynn Redgrave, one of the nicest celebrities I had the pleasure of escorting for a morning media tour in Atlanta.

In early 2004, Redgrave was in town performing "The Exonerated" on stage at then-client, Georgia Tech's Ferst Center for the Arts. We picked up Redgrave (in my Volvo, mind you) at the Georgian Terrace Hotel in Midtown Atlanta, and Ms. Redgrave, her personal publicist and I (as P.R. for the Ferst Center) trekked over to WAGA-TV Fox 5's set for a "Good Day Atlanta" interview.

Redgrave was so polite, eager to discuss "The Exonerated" and happy to answer my silly questions about her roles in "Georgy Girl" and "Shine" (I chickened out and did not ask about her work with Woody Allen for "Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex (But Were Afraid To Ask"). She kicked-butt on her TV interview, too -- I was disappointed that travels out of town later that day prevented my attendance at the play to see her in a real performance.

Ms. Redgrave provided one of those celebrity interactions before my habit of asking Olympic-related questions kicked in, so I did not speak with her about any Games connections during our brief conversations. Just remembered she laughed during my attempts at quoting her "Shine" co-star's line to her character, imploring Redgrave to "Talk to the Stars!"

I hope she is.

Photo via Yahoo! credited to the Everett Collection

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