Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Olympian Observations

Here's what really matters about the Olympics, of course:

(Photo Credit: Doug Mills, New York Times; Michael Phelps takes his fourth gold medal of the Beijing Olympics in the 200-meter butterfly with a world-record time of 1 minute 52.03 seconds, 8/12/08, unless you are in China, where it is already 8/13/08.)

Roxie's World takes an extra jolt of pride in the accomplishments of the beyond phenomenal Phelps because he's a Baltimore boy with a hard-working mom. We won't mind at all if he breaks Mark Spitz's record of seven gold medals in a single Olympic games, even though Spitz was a hero of Moose's swimming-obsessed family in childhood.

[. . . .]

(Ellipses mark the pause in typing while Phelps picked up his fifth gold of the games in the men's 800-meter free relay. And his fifth world record! My typist is so easily distracted.)

[. . . .]

(How does the balance beam not do serious internal damage to the bodies of those tiny little girls? Oh, right -- It does!)

Anyway, watching the Olympics means watching commercials broadcast during the Olympics, which has made us wonder:
  • How can it be legal for McDonald's to be a major sponsor of the Olympics? Shouldn't someone have said, "No, really, guys, you've done more to undermine the cause of healthy eating world-wide than any other company. We just don't think this is the kind of product we want associated with the Games."
  • Is it us, or are those "Where does depression hurt?" commercials for Cymbalta the most depressing things you've ever seen? And do the marketing geniuses at Eli Lilly think viewers of the Olympics are the best target audience for Cymbalta? I mean, granted, a nation of couch potatoes glued to the spectacle of gravity-defying athleticism might be feeling a little down on itself, a little inadequate in comparison to the gods and goddesses on the screen, but viewers might also be reveling in the fantasy of their own god-like potentiality. "By golly," they might chirp from the couch, "I don't need an anti-depressant -- I need new running shoes! Or maybe a Big Mac . . . ."
(Eek, these little American girls are dropping like flies off the balance beam and onto the floor. Things are not looking good for the women's all-around. Quick -- Send in the Cymbalta!)
  • Flame us if you dare, but we think McCain's "celebrity" ads, which have been in heavy rotation in the DC media market during the Olympics (presumably because of the battle being waged for Virginia in November) are actually pretty effective on repeat viewing -- and there is something especially powerful about viewing them in the context of the Olympics. Caught up as we may be in the myth-making machinery of NBC's (actually pretty darn good) coverage of the games, McCain's message about whether a celebrity can be counted on to take care of your family has extra resonance within this context. Obama may be the political equivalent of Michael Phelps, but it's easy to imagine that Phelps would be, um, a fish out of water at something as mundane as a cabinet meeting. We can't imagine how the McCain campaign is affording all this air time, but we think it's a smart move.
  • On the other hand, and we swear we didn't make our minds up about this ahead of time, we are underwhelmed by the "hands" commercials Obama has been broadcasting during the Olympics. To us, they are about as moving as the corporate PR spots Archer Daniels Midland runs on The NewsHour. Strong production values, but a real snooze in the message department.
On a totally unrelated matter, you will note we haven't yapped, woofed, barked, or howled about the shocking news that Senator John Edwards was in fact schtupping Rielle Hunter, a woman hired by his campaign to make videos, as reported last October by The National Enquirer. We've kept quiet because it's so hard to find anything new or interesting to say on the tired subject of ambitious men with zipper problems. Two or three things we will say, though:
  • Go read Ruth Marcus's insightful column on the sordid affair. She reminded us of the snarky comments Edwards made about Bill Clinton's infidelity and pointed out how troubling it is that Elizabeth Edwards publicly promoted her husband's commitment to her during her illness as a reason to support his candidacy when, according to the timeline of events they have produced, she already knew about his infidelity.
  • Marcus doesn't make exactly this point, but we say that a candidate who uses parts of his private life as evidence of the kind of leader he would make can't cry foul when evidence of private misconduct is used against him. You don't get to say, "My virtues are a reason to vote for me, but my vices can't be held against me." Especially if you and your incurably ill wife have been publicly lying about your vices for nearly a year!
  • Finally, we couldn't help but raise an eyebrow this morning when photos of Edwards and Hunter together on his campaign announcement trip in late December 2006 turned up on Wa Po. This got our attention because Edwards has spoken of his "liaison" with Hunter as being over and acknowledged within his family in 2006. Now, of course, photos of the two together on a campaign trip say nothing about the private state of their relationship at that point in time, but public glimpses of the two looking chummy together just moments before the end of 2006 will fuel skepticism about the timing of events in relation to the recurrence of Elizabeth Edwards's cancer (in March of 2007) and the birth of Hunter's child (in February of 2008). Yeah, and we think it's super-convenient that Hunter is refusing a paternity test -- from the comfort of the Santa Barbara home that Edwards's top money guy is helping to pay for.
Gotta get off the soapbox, kids -- It's time for bed! The moms take off for a couple of days at the beach tomorrow, but if you're really, really good, maybe they'll post some pretty photos of the Jersey shore. Meantime, here's another piece of eye candy for Moose, qta, and other lovers of Aquaman:

(Photo Credit: Getty Images, via Baltimore Sun, 8/10/08)

4 comments:

  1. DOG! He is amazing isn't he!?!

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  2. He is TOTALLY amazing. Great pics, Rox. And great comments on the state of things political & personal in these United States. Amazing which candidate is more tv savvy these days. . .who'd-a-thunk it?
    love,
    Goose

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  3. And the poor guy swam that 200-meter fly with water swamping his goggles. Imagine what he would have done if he could have seen where he was going!

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  4. historiann2:28 PM EDT

    I hear you about Edwards. When will powerful men learn that they shouldn't have affairs with women who have more to gain by the affair becoming public? They need to have affairs with people who have as much to lose as they themselves have. I guess I'm more troubled by the stupid and the hubris than the sexysexy myself.

    On Elizabeth Edwards' cancer, I thought that SunGold at Kittywampus had a great post about cancer and how both the person with cancer and hir partner are affected by it. As the wife of a cancer survivor, she's much more forgiving of Edwards than any commnters in the mainstream media.
    (See http://kittywampus.blogspot.com/2008/08/surviving-cancer-surviving-affairs.html. I found it via suburbanguerrila.com.)

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