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After 2.5 weeks of lots of sweat, a few tears, and some blood, my hat goes off to the host country for a fantastic XXX Olympiad!

I love the camaraderie and national spirit that something like the Olympics instills. I loved feelings of pride when Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman led Team USA to a Team gold! And I am fairly certain that Uganda is still celebrating Stephen Kiprotich’s marathon gold…and only medal for the African nation!

But what I also love about major sporting events are the brilliant pieces that come out of Madison Avenue… or wherever ads are created these days. When billions of people are watching, companies pony up some big bucks for creative genius.

Honorable mention Nike. This one’s for the rest of us mortals. Thank you, Nike!
Nike – Find your Greatness:

 

Bronze All the Visa commercials.
Anytime Morgan Freeman narrates something, you know it’s going to be good. Okay, that aside, I love that Visa updated these seemingly instantly as the games went on. For the full collection, I highly recommend the YouTube channel. Do you know who David Boudia is? Visa does, and they recognized his gold medal.
Visa – Come Together
Visa – The Difference (aka: Global Cheer)
Visa – Perfect
Visa – One Hundredth of a Second

 

Silver AT&T.

I’ll be honest: my adoration for Ryan Lochte has waned since his out-of-water antics have caught up to him. But, before all that, AT&T opened the games by airing this gem. It’s beautiful, and the last line (“Luck didn’t get me to London…”) is great.

AT&T – Warming Up

 

Gold All the Proctor & Gamble commercials.

These win the uncontested gold in my book — I cry every time I see them. And I understand there was some early backlash around “what about the Dads?” But I am still fairly certain P&G hit the nail on the head. [I understand the marketing angle/buying power argument. I still think they are spot-on.]

P&G – Kids
P&G – Best Job

 

 

And the non-televised Gold: British Airways – “Welcome to Our Turf”. Seen quite plainly on a field in the landing pattern at Heathrow. Watch out for Team GB! Well done you, British Airways!

When you bring more than 10,000 athletes from 203 countries (and an independent contingent) together, competing (quite literally) on the world’s stage, representing their nations, emotions can run deep.

The best of the best, proudly wearing their own “stars and stripes” (maple leaves, Union Jacks, etc.). Representing his or her country.

By and large, I am quite proud of Team USA. Many athletes have upheld gamesmanship and sportsmanship ideals, rather nicely. And I think my utter agog comes from the distinct contrast I saw the other night during the women’s vault finals. It’s unfortunate that McKayla Maroney failed to land one of her vaults, but it’s a competition … if you aren’t on your game, someone else will better you. The blatant looks of disgust from Ms. Maroney were disappointing. Please, do not get up on that podium while the American flag is being raised behind you and pout. It’s ugly.

But I am not here to belittle Ms. Maroney any further; I am sure she is doing a rather good job of that herself.

Instead, I want to celebrate some of the athletes who have exemplified sportsmanship during these 2012 Games. These are the moments that typify graciousness and dignity in the sporting world.

Honorable Mentions

  • Holy smokes! Who set up the brackets so that North and South Korea would be playing each other in early-round ping pong? I caught this midday match live, and despite the intensity (and perhaps personal ramifications?), the men shook one another’s hand at the conclusion of the match, and walked over to the opposing coaches and offered exchanges. You’d never know the countries were in conflict. My applause to you, gentlemen, for this respectable display.
  • Thank you Team USA for supporting one another! It was great to see the LeBron James and Chris Paul in the nosebleeds of the Aquatics Centre, cheering Missy Franklin to her world record 200m Backstroke swim!
  • Dawn Harper and Kellie Wells, you ladies are both a class act! Taking silver and bronze in the 100m hurdles was a great achievement, and you each displayed the appropriate level of enthusiasm for it! (Ms. Maroney should take note of how to behave upon winning a medal).

And now, we enter Kerri Strug-inspiring, tear-jerking territory. I recommend a tissue. (Go ahead. I’ll wait.)

Bronze

As if Oscar Pistorius’ story isn’t inspiring enough, it takes one world-class Grenadian to exemplify character. The 400m semifinal proved to be a field of fast men, too fast for Pistorius. But, despite his struggles to keep up, field-dominate leader (and eventual event gold-medalist) Kirani James approached Pistorius after the run and asked to exchange number bibs with the South African. Honor and respect for all athletes. Congrats, Oscar, on making the semifinals, and kudos to Kirani for this character-building moment.

Silver

I don’t know the Chinese to standout in the track & field events, but one hurdler in particular will be remembered for years to come. Liu Xiang found catastrophe on the first hurdle of his 110m race. Suffering an injury that will have him in surgery before the week’s out, Liu ended up hopping the remainder of his race. But wait, it gets better. Great Britain’s Andy Turner and Spain’s Jackson Quiñónez, having already completed the race, joined Liu on the track and physically supported him and helped him finish. Bravo gentlemen, for showing the true Olympic spirit!

Gold

Like many Americans, I cried Wednesday watching the beloved team of May(-Treanor) and Walsh (Jennings) play together for the last time. These two ladies have earned a place among America’s sweethearts, for the many years of incredible sport domination. But athletic prowess aside, what I took notice of a few matches back, was their grace. After each win (and there are lots of them!) Kerri Walsh takes the time to shake hands and thank all the officials and support people in the arena, and to wave to and celebrate the fans. She makes these rounds, often jogging up to unsuspecting recipients, before sitting down to rest after a hard-fought match. Likewise, Misty May-Treanor had a particularly dynamic moment after the quarterfinal match against the Italians. Marta Menegatti is an up-and-coming defensive specialist, but Misty still reigns supreme. And after another May-Treanor/Walsh victory, Misty joined a tearful Menegatti at the Italian bench and embraced her, clearly speaking words of encouragement for her career. The crown may not be passed yet, but one pair of royalty is retiring on top, with all the grace in the world.

Humbleness and amazing grace. Thank you, ladies, for representing the United States of America!

~M

Did you see the US Women on the soccer pitch on Wednesday? HOT! Hope Solo is brilliant! (overlooking the rough start, of course). But, today’s Olympic moment is not about the women of the games, but rather, the men.

How did we all fall for Michael Phelps four years ago?

Michael Phelps. 2012 Olympic ID photo.

I distinctly remember an era of thinking that he was the hottest thing since A.C. Slater transferred into Bayside High.

But, as I observed a few weeks back during qualifying, I think I had a case of Gold Blindness. Yes, in fact, I think all that bling made me overlook that fact that a rock hard body plus some Olympic medals do not necessarily a poster child for sexiness make.

Instead, let us look to the rest of the US Men’s Swim Team. Ryan Lochte, anyone (yeah, okay… the mop in Beijing made me overlook him then; thank goodness for haircuts)? Or what about Matt Grevers? And you really can’t deny Cullen Jones having the best smile on the team!

But what about other sports? And, … gasp! Other countries? (Could it be possible that another country has a male Olympian worthy of bringing home the Gold for Good Looks? Let us see…

Bronze

Matt Ryan – Australia – Rowing

Australia has a distinct lead in the Male Medal contender category. After all, they come from a land down under. And I could probably post the entire country’s male Olympians on here, but if one were to “captain” the team, then this girl would elect Matt Ryan every day. Row on, good looking man, row on!

 

 

Silver

Clemente Russo – Italy – Boxing

Oh, didn’t I mention that I have a bad boy streak? Yeah. It comes out every once in a while. And Signore Russo handily nabs this one. I generally don’t go for guys who voluntarily allow their brain cells to be depleted for sport, but I think I can make an exception here. Happy boxing, Signore!

 

 

 

 

Gold

Guiseppe Lanzone – United States of America – Rowing

Apparently I need to spend more time near the water because men in boats are fantastic! I think my inner preppy wins out. And if our gold medal winner looks familiar, draw up the images of those hideous Ralph Lauren Team USA outfits — Guiseppe was the flag-bearer in that group. (An Olympian and a model? Yes, please!)

 

At the outset of this little exercise, I would have put my Ladbrokes odds that soccer players would have dominated this podium placement. Wow; was I wrong! But, all is not a loss … it was certainly my pleasure to scour the images of male athletes to select these divine three finishers. I can certainly say, without a doubt, the London games will have plenty of eye candy!

And as a random aside, do we not think that the Ken doll was modeled after Brian Alexander? You can’t scream “California” any louder! …but if anyone is giving away their water polo tickets, I’d be happy to take one off your hands! ;-)

Let the games begin!

~M

Retro re-post of the day: Fit and Pace of Life (or, A Place To Call Home)

Apparently, it’s been so long since I’ve written that I’ve forgotten how to navigate WordPress! (sorry)  And this time, I realize whole-heartedly that my ability to even think about writing is directly tied to the stress-levels and happiness in my life. (consider my renewed writing a good thing)

So, without further babble, it’s time to unroll the first in a series of very timely musings: Let the (Olympic) games begin!

This first round examines the games themselves. Did you know that there are 302 events going on in London this year? That blows my mind. These are spread across 26 different sports, and certain ones like track & field (really, “athletics”), swimming, and gymnastics clearly contort the number of events with their own multiplicity.

You can’t really go anywhere without something of Olympic interest popping up. One of my favorites of late is a fun look at the “hardest” sports. A few of my favorites: #14 – Soccer (“…if the ball does come your way, just fall down clutching your shin. You’ll fit right in.”), #5 – Sailing (“This isn’t like taking a booze cruise off Montauk.”), and #1 – Equestrian (“Can you ride a horse? Me neither.”).

Equestrian has a special place in my heart, having grown up with horses. And I love that it’s unique in the Olympic world for 2 reasons: it’s the only sport where men and women compete in the same category, and it’s the only sport in which a single competitor utilizes another living thing for competition.

And I understand sports that have been in it for a while. Archery, wrestling, fencing, and pentathlon all scream ancient sport. And I can even hang with recent newcomers like badminton, table tennis, and taekwondo (which, coincidentally, all debuted either as an official sport or as a demonstration sport during the Seoul, South Korea games).

But I have an issue with trampoline.

Somehow I’ve missed that it’s been a part of the games since Australia, some three Olympics ago, but that does not diminish that fact that I still can’t quite wrap my mind around this as a competitive sport. [And I can’t knock the athletes, because clearly they have done something I have not, being they are representing their countries at the Olympics in something, so they get a free (albeit strange) pass on this one].

But please explain how this came to be?

~M

Retro re-post of the day: Mid-life Without Purpose (or, An Inverse Crisis)

The Single Girl is out to stretch her Single legs for a while and revisit the begrudgingly familiar intersection of Life Lane and Career Path.

The Single Girl is actively trying to make her next career move. An opportune lunch recently gave me a glimpse into Big Law Firm life. I haven’t necessarily wanted to go there prior to now, but if I’m already putting in the same kind of hours, why not get paid like it, right? And with any luck, I will become a better practitioner along the way.

The next few minutes after lunch, the conversation played out in the Single Girl’s head like so:

  • Self: “Well, there you have it. You get the career, and can simultaneously nail the coffin shut on ever getting married and having a family. Who would want to start courting a Single Girl on a partnership track in Big Law if he wants a family?”

It was a one-sided chiding, really.

And then I recalled one of my newly found favorite blogs: Truth and Cake. Rian put forth a very delightful discussion about the major components in your life by asking “What Did You Give Up, To Get What You Got?

What I know is that I don’t want to be Oprah — I don’t want a jet-setting career, to the exclusion of a family. But, being the Single Girl, I feel compelled to have to travel down the Career Path because I don’t have the family or husband thing going. I am blessed with a great group of friends… so that component is solidly in my court. But I think I would give up other components to achieve the ones I want. (Don’t get me wrong… I am fully aware that it is near impossible to have them all. Not my goal.)

I suppose I should also channel more of Truth and Cake’s words, though, and consider the journey and experience. Perhaps it’s not my time to embark on husband and family. Perhaps the Plan has me doing something else meaningful and worthwhile for the time being. So, with a reluctant sigh, I sit back and take a long, hard look down Career Path, and maybe it’s not such a bumpy road, after all.

~M

Retro Re-post of the day: Buckeye Blues (or, Living the Dream)

I’m dusting the keyboard back off in order to rant. Pull up your soapboxes and join me, if you will?

Bond does not drink beer.

I haven’t been this incensed since Snookie announced her pregnancy, or Facebook stuck us with Timeline. Really though, this is a much more dire matter than that.

Bond writers, you recognized the error of your ways when you stuffed Pierce Brosnan in a BMW, and promptly corrected the action in the following series. And I’m still not entirely sure what you were doing when you made Daniel Craig all morose and vengeful. But for the love of all that is heaven and holy! Bond does not drink beer!

Under the careful tutelage of a dear friend, I, myself, am becoming a beer snob (Saison Dupont, anyone?). So this really has nothing to do with beer. It has everything to do the classic tradition of the character! So not only will he be ordering a Heineken (frosted, not warm?) this next time around, but so help me Zeus if he rolls up in a Mini Cooper. Well… at least it’s British, right? (sort of)

It’s kind of like taking the pinstripes off Yankees’ uniforms. Or adding names to the Penn State jerseys. Or even Ryan Seacrest counting down the new year. Breaking the tradition just isn’t right.

But if you are trying to make the argument that you are bringing Bond into the next century, not unlike Quaker Oats’ Larry, don’t even go there. Sure, we all remember the Mojito on the beach with Halle Berry. And perhaps that was an acceptable, albeit situational, sidestep. But beer just isn’t going to cut it.

So, my Bond writers … I hope you are getting a big kickback from the people at Heine right now … because you have otherwise failed epically this time around in my book. That is all.

~M

Retro re-post of the day: Standing on a Corner (or, Paying Your Own Way)

Oy! My pervasive laziness has reached epic levels … even for me! It’s time to play a little catch-up. Here are the Retro Re-posts that I failed to attached to their associated dates lately (or even not so lately).

Santana is done, and my glass of Salcheto is empty. Housekeeping, pt. 1, is put to bed.

~M

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