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