Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Two Minutes Hate

The Eddie The Eagle Olympic Rule

Do you remember Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards in the 1988 Olympic Winter Games? If you watched the games at all, you probably do. Eddie was the first professional ski jumper from Great Britain. He competed in the 1988 Calgary Olympic games...and finished last in both events in which he competed.

But what is great about Eddie is that he was basically an everyman. He was self-funded, no corporate or government funding for his training. He is extremely far sighted and must wear these huge dorky glasses. he was also slightly heavier and less toned than the rest of the athletes at the games. You may think this sounds horrible, but it all added up to make him the ultimate underdog.

Eddie the Eagle (Photo borrowed from here at the BBC)

Every time Eddie jumped it was inspiring - seeing this normal guy (basically) going for his Olympic dreams. You knew he wasn't going to win...it wasn't even close. But seeing him try and try again with all his heart was magnificent. Personally, I thought Eddie was nothing but beneficial for the Olympics. It was one of the first times that I connected with the Winter Olympics since the whole "Miracle on Ice" thing, but it actually went even deeper than that. I think this was probably the deepest that I connected with any Olympics - Summer or Winter. I am not athletically inclined, I don't really have the genes for it. To me the Olympics always seemed like something that was for all these top 1% people...the people that just happened to be born with not only the right genes but also the right situation to be able to train constantly for the games. Eddie made it seem that almost anyone could be an Olympic athlete if they really wanted to be.

I think Eddie was also beneficial to the Olympics in another way. He provided a measuring stick for the other jumpers. I don't know about you, but watching ski jumping I really can't tell who is doing really well and who is doing poorly. When a half meter can mean the difference from Silver and 6th place, I can't really judge that by watching TV. They all look the same. Eddie provided a starting point to measure the other athletes. Seeing Eddie jump and then the other athletes jump 20-30 meters farther...you could easily tell the difference and it made the other athletes seem that more impressive and amazing.

However, many athletes and officials felt that all the attention that Eddie received was embarrassing and making a mockery of the sport and games. (I think a lot of the attention was due to the fact that he skied with heart and wasn't just a cold and calculating athlete.) So between winter games, the Olympic Committee enacted a rule stating that in order to compete in the games, that an athlete must compete in international competitions and either finish in the top 30% or be in the top 50 athletes, whichever is smaller. Note: Eddie finished 55th in the World Competitions in 1987. Eddie would not qualify for another Olympics.

If this rule was in place in 1988 - we also wouldn't have the Jamaican Bobsled Team. They were able to qualify for later Olympics (and actually end up doing fairly well), but they would never even have gotten a start with this rule. To me, this rule prevents start up athletes and programs and just tightens the grip of the big, wealthy, and long competing countries on their share of medals.

Although I understand that logistically there needs to be some limits on who can compete in the Olympic games, I also think there needs to be some way to get a few amateurs in there to help inspire people and also showcase how good the professionals really are. Some might argue that these people would become laughing stocks and it is better to save them from that...but I think these kind of athletes are the ones that would compete with the most heart and be grateful for whatever happened. It is impossible to mock someone when they love what they are doing. These are the people that most symbolize the Olympic Spirit in my mind.

Eddie, Thanks for the great memories!

End Hate

Monday, February 22, 2010


I really wanted to watch the USA vs Canada Olympic hockey game yesterday.  Really, really did.  After all the hype that NBC had been putting into it the past few days, I just assumed it would be shown live on NBC...but instead Russia vs Czech, which was OK but not what I really wanted.  I don't get MSNBC, CNBC or whatever it was shown live on.  I had thought about going to a friend's house but wasn't feeling the best and just wanted to lie on my couch and wait for the tape delay.

I understand NBC wanting to tape delay something like that an show it in prime time for more viewers but for me they made it unwatchable.  Once I know the score to a hockey game, I just have no interest in watching the game...it loses all it's excitement and mystery.  I was trying to be careful - avoiding and TV channels that might have news, didn't listen to the radio, didn't check any texts from anyone that has an interest in hockey, watched most of the Russia game on mute since I didn't want the announcers making an offhand comment, didn't get online incase yahoo had a story on their front page, and I didn't log into facebook in case someone posted about the game. 

I thought I was safe in my hockey news free bubble.  I was wrong.  I stepped outside to get something from my car...just at the time that my two neighbors decided to yell to each other about the game.  Inside I was all "God Dammit Mother Fucker!" but I calmly walked inside - depressed that this hockey game was now dead to me.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Gold for Commercials

I usually think that Olympic commercials are pretty lame, Winter Olympics especially since it isn't as high profile.  I mean half the time it is just a normal commercial with "Proud sponsor of the xxxx Olympiad" tacked on the end...so lame.  Then the commercials that they try to make more relevant usually shows someone practicing hard at their sport...over coming that adversity, trying their best (rarely showing their faces as they usually don't use the actual Olympic athletes) and then saying some like "We are proud to support our Olympic athletes."  Just the most boring and generic commercials that you can think of.

However, I loved this commercial by Procter and Gamble about being a proud sponsor of moms.  Very cute and touching...it was a commercial that I actually wanted to see again, I even rewound on my DVR to watch it a second time when it premiered during the opening ceremonies.  Well played P&G, well played indeed.

And I don't even have kids!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Two Minutes Hate

Club Footed Figure Skaters

I enjoy figure skating...it is not my favorite Winter Olympic event but it is good to watch in small doses.  What I don't like is when the ladies wear tights that stretch over their skates.  It disturbs me quite a bit.  I'm sure it keeps their skates from clashing with the rest of their outfit and might even help keep their laces out of the way.  However to me, it looks like someone with big club feet sliding on ice.  There should be some kind of division between the leg and the skate...it is almost an exact picture of the definition of  "Cankle."  If it is supposed to keep the skates from distracting from the rest of the outfit, it has the opposite effect on me.  I can't stop staring at the seeming deformity.  My mind is drawn to the poor girl with huge feet that somehow has metal blades coming out of the soles of her feet.  These tights do not create a "clean" look, they create a deformed look.  Come on skaters - we know you are wearing skates, just show them.  It looks so much better.

 (Photo by: Mkendrab at en.wikipedia)
Sasha Cohen 2006 Nationals
(one of my fave skaters but better when not club footed)

End Hate

Monday, February 15, 2010

Leave it to the Sensible Canadians

I would just like to say that you to the Canadian Olympic clothing designer for showing how it should be done. The Canadian official clothing for the most past is simple, sharp, and patriotic. Just look at this stuff, there is no doubt what country you are supporting...but not in a gaudy way, in a clean but bold design. Who makes this clothing? I am unsure as there is not a huge logo plastered across it. But that is what is so great about it, you are showing support for your country.
I love this red and white sweater - it just looks elegant to me...almost vintage in it's style.  I think it definitely provides a classic look. They also have one that is opposite - red with white trim and letters (but I couldn't find a good picture).  I can't decide which one I like more, I find both extremely handsome.


And this hoodie is perfect in it's simplicity.  Available in a wide range of colors but I am pretty sure that 90% of the people are choosing this subdued red.  It is just such a rich warm color.  This hoodie looks awesome to just hang out and relax in...looks like it would be soft and keep you warm plenty warm.  I am a recent convert to the greatness of hoodies (I know, I know I am stubborn sometimes) but even if I was still a hater, I would find this an attractive option.

However, nothing is more iconic and striking than the red mittens.  These little mitten say a lot.  Simple but bold, these are beautifully symbolic to my mind...a rallying point for the people.  You don't need something large, fancy, or expensive to show your love of country.
Plus all proceeds from these mittens go to the Canadian Olympic team...and at just $10, nearly everyone can contribute. If I buy something from the USA store, am I directly contributing to the team? I am not sure...it could be all going into Ralph Lauren's pocket.  I just don't know because it doesn't say...plus there is not anything for Team USA that captures the spirit like these mittens do.  Team USA - please take note that this is how it should be done.  In the future, please remember that simple is more and create me some iconic clothing to show my patriotic support.

Good job Canada!  We look like corporate sellout whores by comparison.  Canada gets the Gold for apparel design this Olympic Games.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Have Not Sold Out....Yet

Today, I received my first email asking me to post something on this blog. I am sure it was a part of a data list created about blogger users - it included my first name and "Why I Suck"* both of which could have been gleaned relatively easily (as well as, my email address).

First of all - this is my blog and no one tells me what to post.

Secondly - if you suggest something I may post it if I believe in it.

This happened to be about "supporting Team USA in the winter Olympics" which I do believe in. However, since I can't believe they ever actually read this blog and it was just a mass mailing, I refuse to do it. Did they not see the last (and only I believe) post that had anything to do with the Olympics? Anyhow, I don't see how loading your banner ads and widgets will actually help Team USA.

Not a Widget

Let it be known however that I do wish the US Olympic Team and the US Paralympic Team the very best of luck. I hope you do especially well in Hockey, Curling, and Short Track Speed Skating (they are my favorites).

Now if only we could get some cash offers in here, then I could really sell out. Nuprin. Little. Yellow. Different.

*I must admit that it was pretty cool seeing "and your blog Why I Suck" in an official looking email. It made me giggle and I hoped someone had to type that by hand (although I'm sure not).

A Strange Urge

Anytime I walk into a movie theater and there is only one other person/couple/small group there...I always have the urge to either sit right next to them or right in front of them.  This is especially true if they are in a random seat and not somewhere that makes sense like the dead center of the theater.

I know this would totally piss me off if I was them because there is a whole fraking theater to choose from.  Yet, it crosses my mind every time. Seriously, how weird would it be if you were the only couple in the theater and in comes some guy that picks the seat right next to your girlfriend out of the 200 other empty seats?  I think I want to see how they would react and see how uncomfortable it would actually be...but I also think a part of me may just be a total dick.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

For the Love of Music

The state of music purchasing disturbs me a little today.  No, not the fact that record company profits are plunging.* After the recording industry suing fans and trying to make it illegal for you to use your music how you would like for personal use, I have little love for the them.  I'm not talking about the sad condition of MTV, or even the "influx of piracy" (which I am not sure is nearly as evil as the recording industry thinks - each download does not equal a lost sale). 

My worry is that a lot of people are now buying single tracks only...and I believe this trend is increasing.  They only buy the one song that they heard on the radio and liked.  This isn't always bad, I have a few CDs that have exactly one good song on them that in hindsight I wish I could have only purchased the one track.  However, I have way more CDs that the one song that I had previously heard ended up not being my favorite.  In fact, of all my favorite songs on all the albums that I have ever purchased, I would say about 90% of those songs were never released as singles.  Had I just bought the single track, I would not know all this great music.  Just a few examples of great songs (from my current work play list) that I would never have heard if I only bought the singles:

Metallica - Blackened
Janes Addiction - Three Days
Guns N Roses - Rocket Queen
Alice in Chains - Dam that River
Megadeth - Tornado of Souls
Danzig - Twist of Cain

As you can probably tell, I am listening to a early 90's metal play list at the moment...but the same goes for every genre, every artist.  The singles are good, but if that is all you buy you are missing out on so much great music.  This is not even taking into account the entire feel of an album that can be used to create a mood or even tell a story.

You might say that singles have been around for decades and you would be right...and I still don't approve of them.  There is a large difference however between single digital tracks now and singles in the past.  In the past you would at the very least get a b-side track (if not more of a EP CD), this gave you more of a chance to try out the artist and see if you like them...now you get nothing, you get your one track and you are done.  You will not discover the complete joy of the new artist and in ten years you will consider them a one hit wonder.

*Personally, I think it is very iffy at how much the record company profits are actually down once you figure in that the 1990's probably represented higher than average profits as consumers upgraded their music collections from cassettes and vinyl.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Two Minutes Hate

Annoying McDonald's Commercial

I'm sure you have all seen the "What can I get for a dollar?" commercial for McDonald's. This is commercial where the guy goes to all these different businesses and asks what he can get for a dollar and then leaves to continue his search for a great value (or something like that). He goes to a travel agent and gets a plastic tree, a spray tan place and gets a 1 inch diameter spot of spray tan on his face, etc...

This commercial annoys me for so many reasons. A few examples:
  • He gets a dollar's worth of product from these businesses (except the cab) but he never pays them a dollar...so actually he is getting these products and services for free! That is a much better deal than McDonald's (or he is a thief).
  • It's not really comparing similar products...gee you can't get a vacation for a dollar but you can get a hamburger?! Who knew? Bahama vacations are obviously rip offs, we should only buy hamburgers. Might as well show him trying to buy a car or a house (well maybe in Detroit), it would be just as ridiculous. Anything that costs more than a dollar must be a waste of money...even though there are many things on McDonald's menu that cost more.
  • I am sure this guy would have been much more impressed with The Dollar Store, Family Dollar, The Dollar Tree, Super Dollar+, Everything 99 Cents, or even the $1 Spot at Target. McDonald's has 5 or so things on their dollar menu but hey these places have hundreds of products.
  • Finally, he spends way more than the one dollar that he originally seemed to only want to spend. he is eating his burger but also got drinks and a sundae? That is $3 minimum (I am not sure if they are all on the dollar menu or not, I rarely go to McDonald's). He probably could have gotten a lot more at the other places too if he wanted to spend more. Heck, he probably could have gone to his local mom and pop diner (AKA greasy spoon) and got just as much, if not more food which was actually better tasting.

End Hate

Friday, February 5, 2010

Ladies and Gentlemen, The Rock-afire Explosion

After a less than spectacular trip to Chuck E Cheese, I was inspired to finally order the DVD documentary about The Rock-afire Explosion (TRAE).  For those of you who don't know TRAE, they were the animatronic band for Showbiz Pizza Place in the 1980's (link is to an excellent fan site).  Similar to the current Chuck E Cheese animatronic band, Munch's Make Believe Band, only millions of times better.  I have said it before but The Rock-afire Explosion had so much more personality and life than the Munch's MBB (and it may just be the upkeep at my local CEC, but the band hardly moves now - they use to be lively!).  They were exciting to watch as a kid, it seemed like a real concert - dim lit room, light show, fog machine, music, and skits.It was awesome.

After the package getting misdirected by the post office, I finally received the DVD about a week late.  I was full of excitement and hope as I slid it into the DVD player.  I was disappointed.  It's not that it isn't a very interesting movie, it is.  It gives the background on the inventor and the process through which Showbiz Pizza and the Rock-afire Explosion spread across the country and ultimately disappeared...and their possible rebirth.  It is a good documentary that brought back a lot of memories from when I was a kid and shows a lot of people with passion for Billy Bob and Rock-afire to this day.  I like TRAE, a lot...but these are people who live for Rock-afire.  Yes, they a little strange but you have to admire their passion and tenacity.  I wish I had that kind of passion for something.  In the end, it was more sad than any to see the company that created TRAE to be in the rundown condition it was in...but the fact that it is still there and there has been a minor resurgence of fans that there was a slightly optimistic twinge at the end.  It was a good movie, I was just hoping for something a little different.

I was hoping to see more of the original show programming that I encountered as a child.  It had a few of the skits but it didn't have any of the musical numbers.  I am sure this was do music licensing and the documentary producers not wanting 99% of their budget to go to the obtain the musical rights.  I understand this, but I do think that means that the documentary was missing something.  It is like watching those shows like E! True Hollywood Story or something where they go over an actors entire career and they talk about all these great scenes and movies that the actor was in but they never show any clips because they don't want to pay the licensing.  It gets the job done, but it is a shadow of what it could be.  Still, I would recommend it to anyone who remembers Showbiz Pizza and The Rock-afire Explosion fondly.  It is good to relive some of the memories that you had as a child but also interesting to learn about the behind the scenes dealing that led to it's demise.  The movie did give me a deep sense of respect for Rock-afire creator Aaron for sticking to his beliefs and dreams (although not his business sense).

Two of the main people in the movie - Aaron Fechter (inventor of Rock-afire) and Chris Thrash (super-fun and enthusiast) are still working with The Rock-afire Explosion and even programming some new songs for videos.  This is my favorite done to date:

The Rock-afire Exlposion doing NIN's 1,000,000

There are many others - Usher, Shakira, The Arcade Fire, etc... The White Stripes' Conquest is also particularly charming (although I wish it was a full video).  Other fans are making videos too, but these by Aaron and Chris are usually much higher quality, incorporating all aspects of the Rock-afire stage.  If you want to bid on the next song that Aaron and/or Chris create you can go to Aaron's site here

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Go Team Polo! I mean USA!

The Branding of America (the federal constitutional republic)

Maybe you saw the new Olympic wardrobe by Ralph Lauren announced earlier this week. This is the clothing that will be worn in the opening ceremonies, around the Olympic village, and pretty much most any time the athletes are not actually wearing theirIt pretty much makes me sick. I like the design of the outfits themselves, but seriously should the Ralph Lauren logos be bigger than either the United States Flag or Olympic logos? Since when is it The United States by Ralph Lauren. Don't get me wrong, I think it is great that RL is supporting the US Olympic team and I think the company deserves exposure for their sponsorship. I just think promoting the company more than the team or even the Olympics themselves is the wrong message to be sending. It does not seem to be the spirit of the Olympic games. I just don't like it.

This is the type of thing that can only get worse. Let's look at the Polo style shirts from the past two Olympic games. The 2008 polo shirt by Nike on the right, still has the Nike logo and swoosh as a sponsorship should, but the logo is smaller than the USA Olympic logo, there for not the main focus. The 2010 by Ralph Lauren on the other hand has the pony twice the size of the USA Olympic logo. My eye focuses on the pony well before the team, I feel like I will be watching corporations compete instead of representations of countries.

Even the hoodie by Ralph Lauren for the 2008 (right) was much more subdued with the logo than the current. That is RL Polo logo on the sleeve, much nicer than a huge RL_10.

Ralph Lauren wasn't the first, for a while it felt like watching the Home Depot team with all the commercials they aired about HD employing more Olympic athletes. The difference there was that it was a commercial, not the outfits at the games themselves. I still knew Home Depot was a major sponsor and supporter but during the games themselves there was enough of a separation for me not to feel like I was rooting for Team Home Depot, I was rooting for Team USA. Maybe I will feel this way when the Olympics do arrive in a couple weeks...but right now all I can think is "Go team Polo by Ralph Lauren!"

I hear this is what the outfits will look like for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.

OK, this is just a Jeff Gordon NASCAR coat with a few Olympic and other logos added...but you can see this coming, right? Brawndo The Thirst Mutilator!

I do however love the mascot Quatchi. Quatchi rules. So cute, cuddly, friendly, and welcoming. Good job Vancouver. You made Izzy (AKA - Whatizit) look like a real piece of garbage in comparison (by the way, he was a piece of garbage...might as well have been Springy from the Simpsons). Epic Fail USA. Gold in the mascot field goes to Vancouver, USA did not even qualify for this event.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Music Appreciation

I am of the opinion that nearly any band can have one catchy/hit song.  My test of whether an album is great or just OK is what gets stuck in your head after listening to it.  If the same song is always stuck in your head it is an album with one good song, it is probably an OK album - decent but not great.  A great album is one where you can have a different song stuck in your head every day of the week.  This is a well balanced, well written album.  An album that can inspire you without you even realizing it, an album that connects with the listener.  Unfortunately, since these types of albums may not have that super-catchy hit single, they may never be best sellers.  But these rare albums are the ones that will nourish your music loving soul and live in your heart and mind long after any hit single is forgotten by the mainstream music industry.  These type of albums can change your life.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Two Minutes Hate

Glad I had to click through!

I hate when internet sites make you click to see their awesome price, because evidently it is so low that they can't advertise that price...or some other stupid reason like that.  It is annoying, wastes my time and makes comparing products within the store difficult.  Just tell me the price, I don't need your crossed out retail price to make me think I am getting a bargain because more and more the bargain ends up like the picture below.

In case you can't read that and/or don't want to click through to the larger version:

List price: $99.99  ($99.99)
Amazon price: $99.96
You save: $0.03

Seriously, I would rather pay the 3 cents than have to go through that bullshit.

End Hate