Bad Press

While I’ve been working on my homage to the former Olympic event of Art (yes, art, see my first Olympic blog post if this is news to you) I’ve been knee-deep in the newspaper. I’ve been more than a little disappointed at some of the headlines and amount of coverage certain athletes are receiving:

Dad and I noticed that our sport sections had different headlines. Both unnecessarily negative.

The photo that I took above is an excellent illustration of my point. In the first event that Michael Phelps could have medaled in, he didn’t. Ryan Lochte, another American did. 1) Why did Phelps get the majority of the back page of the Sports Section in the Chicago Tribune – and Lochte, the gold medal winner, get only a small photo? 2) Why did the media decide that because he didn’t medal in one event, that the games were pretty much over for him? Both of those headlines are wildly inappropriate, especially the one that reads ‘Failps’.

This was the first of several times that I noticed the athlete that fell short of their Olympic goal got significantly more coverage than the athlete that met or exceeded their Olympic dreams. Jordyn Wieber also got full-page color-photo coverage when she didn’t make the all-around as expected. It saddens me that the media would rather rub salt in the wounds of those that are still licking their wounds, rather than praise those that might not have a big name, but won gold, or broke a record, or where thrilled to win bronze.

Part of the reason the Olympics are so near and dear to my heart is that it is a reminder that the human spirit knows no bounds. These athletes are pushing themselves to be better than their previous selves, direct competitors and previous champions. To go faster, soar higher and compete harder. As someone who will likely never achieve any form of athletic accomplishment in her life, the games inspire me in other ways. How can I apply the essence of the human spirit to my craft, how can I achieve my American dream?

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Stay-cation with Dad

Back in the fall of 2010 my dad and I took a journey up to Toronto and the Georgian Bay. While staying in a cabin near the bay we spent our days hiking and exploring several of the parks in that region. At night we’d make a simple dinner together and then spend our evening talking and watching Arrested Development until I fell asleep on the couch – that was the sign that it was time to go to bed. It was a wonderful trip and my dad and I are excellent travel companions. I look forward to whatever our next travel adventure happens to be, but in the meantime, we’ve had an unexpected stay-cation together.

It’s remarkably similar to our trip to the Georgian Bay, except that instead of spending our days hiking – we’re both working our regular jobs. And we’re at my parent’s house instead of Canada. You’re thinking, ‘so, it’s nothing like your trip…’

This past weekend, my mom and brother embarked on a trip to D.C. to visit my uncle and aunt and to spend some quality time together before Ian starts his senior year and immediately transitions into college. Coincidentally, my sister decided to go visit some friends in NY the following day. So this left my dad home alone with no one to keep him company. Now, it’s no secret that I spend a ton of time at my parent’s house (when your family is as fun as mine is and lives as close as mine does, you just naturally want to spend time with them) and since Mike and I cancelled our cable, their house was a natural choice for Olympic-viewing + spending some quality time with dad.

So, since Saturday it’s been mostly me and dad hanging out, watching the Olympics and having dinner together, just like when we were in Canada. And every night I inevitably end up passing out on the couch before finally calling it a night and heading home to get some sleep.

Whether it’s hiking through another country, or walking to the train together during our commute – I always enjoy spending time with my dad 🙂

Olympics Day 1

With the start of the athletic portion of the Olympics, I decided to start my 2-week long homage to the artistic Olympic events of yesteryear. The medium will be collage with gold paint and black/white markers.

The first images found for my collage

**SPOILER ALERT**

It was quite prophetic that I was Modge-podging an image of Ryan Lochte swimming ahead of Michael Phelps as I was watching him win Team USA’s first Olympic gold medal this evening (a race which Michael took 4th place).

I’m looking forward to Sunday’s Chicago Tribune, hoping for more black and white Olympic imagery to Modge-podge onto my gold canvas 🙂

Opening Ceremonies

So far I’m 0/2 in actually staying awake until Prime Time Olympic Coverage is over at 11pm Central time. I’m a chronic couch-sleeper, though I’ll completely deny it whenever someone asks “were you sleeping?”

The Opening Ceremonies (I managed to stay awake until midway through the parade of nations and then dozed in and out until after Great Britain entered. At which point I finally decided that I’d best head home and catch the lighting of the torch online today) were very conceptual. I really liked where they were going with it – however I felt that it was so detail orientated that there was no real way of taking it all in. I’m sure that the London Olympic organizers and Danny Boyle are beyond sick of being compared to Beijing, but my quick contrast: the Beijing Opening Ceremonies (from what I recall) were more about texture and large scale movement, which I feel probably translated better on television and for someone in the stands watching it live. However, a few big props to London’s Opening Ceremonies:

1. Everyone in it was a volunteer – call me a human rights advocate, but the fact that “The inner workings of China’s proudest night were less a point of pride: participants in the Opening Ceremony were virtual indentured servants, rehearsing for 10 months while living in almost barbaric conditions. The director of the production, Zang Yimou, told the Telegraph of London in 2008 that neither England nor any other country could produce such a spectacle because labor unions would never allow the work force to endure such conditions.” (Yahoo Sports).

2. The set was astounding. I would have really loved to have been able to walk around that meadow scene. And the way that they took it all down in front of your eyes was pretty darn cool. It had a lot of well-thought-out layers to it.

3. The comedic sketch with Mr. Bean (I know he has a real name too) was well done.

4. David Beckham was quite possibly the most attractive torch bearer to-date and he made quite an entrance.

5. But the best entrance of the night goes to her Majesty the Queen of England with another very debonaire man, Mr. Daniel Craig. If you don’t watch any of the other clips that I’ve posted and didn’t see this on TV, this is a must see!

A few other thoughts that don’t really pertain to how London did the opening ceremonies, mostly coming out of the mouth of one Bob Costas during the parade of nations – the real Olympic spectacle is that he doesn’t age. Ever. You’ll come to realize that my family has a tendency to make fun of the anti-aging Mr. Costas.

1. Best Bob Costas quote of the night “From the ‘I didn’t know that’ file”

2. Mawali is the “warm part of Africa” (insert thought about how all of Africa is pretty warm) apparently this was meant to mean that Mawali is the friendliest nation in Africa.

3. Bob ALWAYS gets to announce Gabon in the parade of nations. Why? Because Bob likes to say the name ‘Gabon’.

4. This has nothing to do with Bob Costas, but during the parade of nations, NBC posted a map graphic so you’d know where that particular nation is found on the globe. The only problem here was that it always first showed where the United States was, and then the country in question. What is that saying about our geographical education that we need to first be shown where the United States is before we understand where another country is located? Geography is far from my strong suit, but at least I know when looking at something highlighted on a globe, where it is without needing to know where the United States is located.

Some Olympic Trivia

While North America patiently waits for NBC to air the Opening Ceremonies (technically happening live at 3:30pm Central) tonight (taped), here’s some trivia and current happenings to tide you over 🙂

From the Washington Post
• This is London’s 3rd time hosting the Olympics (1908, 1948 and now 2012)
• No surprise after seeing The Bird’s Nest and the Opening Ceremonies, but Beijing’s Olympics were the most expensive to-date with a $40 billion price tag! Conversely, the budget for this year is in the ballpark of $4 billion.
• London’s main Olympic venue this year was constructed with 50% recycled materials!
• Due to the increase in worth of gold and silver this year’s gold medals are 30% lighter than the 2010 Olympic medals, but cost $165 more. Total worth of each 2012 Olympic gold medal? Priceless. But seriously, it’s $640.
• Larisa Latynina is the most decorated Olympian of all-time with 18 medals – Michael Phelps has 16 and is hoping to break that record. Would it be a modern summer Olympics if Mr. Phelps wasn’t breaking some record?
• This is the first Olympics where all 205 nations are sending female athletes to compete!!! And Team USA has sent 8 more women than men this year (269 women to 261 men). And most importantly, even Brunei, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are sending women to the games! Girl Power 🙂

From ABC News
Word on the street is that long-time teammate Ryan Lochte is going to be giving Michael Phelps a run for his money in his quest to be the most decorated Olympian ever. Apparently Ryan has been beating Mike lately (at the 2011 World Championships and at the U.S. Trials). Come on gentlemen, there’s room on the podium for multiple medal winners! The two claim to be fierce competitors but also great friends.

From the Los Angeles Times
Still trying to wrap my brain around this headline: “Legally blind archer sets world record” This happened today in a ranking round and yielded Team South Korea a team record as well.

And finally, while in the elevator today at work, I saw a headline that Team USA’s swimmers created their own spoof of the popular “Call Me Maybe” video. Enjoy!

Insta-patriotism

Americans generally like to be patriotic. We hang flags for 4th of July, Memorial Day & Veterans Day, we have parades, cook-outs and purchase the iconic $5 Old Navy flag t-shirt each year.

Every two years, we get a refreshing 2 week jolt of patriotism that unites the country in one goal: going for the gold. We love to win and our athletes are good at delivering on that. This week I’ve heard several plans being made by my co-workers for Opening Ceremonies viewing parties – and naturally I’ve already lined up who I’ll be glued to the TV with on Friday night as well.

Just as when I was growing up, during the last Olympics, back when I had TV (as you may recall, Mike and I now just stream our TV shows through the internet via the Roku) the Olympics were pretty much on the entire time I was at home. I’m always surprised when someone admits to me that they never really got into the Olympics growing up. I was all about the competition of the races, the artistry of gymnastics and skating and the fashion of the Opening Ceremonies. I knew Team USA by name and could tell you which country was suspected of cheating (China in women’s gymnastics) and who took out Nancy Kerrigan (Tonya Harding). I stood up in suspense watching Michael Phelps break his records (it’s just a coincidence that I happened to marry someone who looks like a young Mr. Phelps…) and picked my jaw up off the floor while watching free-style skiing (mind still = blown). How could you not get into the games?!

Earlier today I happened across a link on Twitter that caught my eye, it was something along the lines of art being an olympic sport and the Nazis ruined it (no surprise there, the Nazis pretty much ruin everything…). How could you not click on that? The article was fascinating. Seriously, read it (link is in the word ‘article’).

As a kid, I dreamed of being in the Olympics – how cool would that be! Unfortunately, my less than stellar athletic performance, at well, anything, kept that dream at bay. And now I find out that had various unfortunate happenings not happened I could have had a shot competing in the Olympics as an artist!!!

The events (yes, plural) centered around athletic-inspired art (and composed music). So, in honor of the fallen sport of my people (fellow artists and musicians) I’ve decided to come up with some 2-week-long athletic-inspired art project that will last the duration of the Olympics. I’m mulling over a few ideas as to mediums used and size. The current front-runner is newspaper photographs + sharpies and maybe a little paint. I’ll document my progress here – and get back to blogging regularly in general (I promise!)

So, t-minus 25.5 hours (6:30pm Central Time on Friday)… let the games begin!