Sunday, August 5, 2012

Thank you, Michael.

It’s the night of Michael Phelps’ last race. Sitting here and counting down the minutes, I am overcome with conflicting thoughts and feelings – trying to make sense of what he has meant to be over these years and what his retirement means to me now. Waiting for this last race, all I can think about are the things that I will miss. I will miss seeing Michael walk out onto the deck wearing his warm up coat. I will miss the freaky arm flap and the dramatic pre-race montages. I will miss the nail biting finishes and pure elation that follows. But most of all I will miss knowing that when I watch him race, everyone else will be watching too and we'll all and hoping for the same result.

I’m not a competitive swimmer. I’m hardly a competent swimmer, but over the past few years Michael Phelps has become an important part of my life. Before 2008 I dreaded the Olympics. All of my normal programming was disturbed for an achingly long 16 days to show sports. What a cruel fate!  But in 2008 something shifted. I sat in a bar in Asbury Park, NJ and, with no prior interest in sports or swimming, watched Michael Phelps win gold. Something in my heart and in my mind changed. I suddenly felt uplifted and irrationally invested in his quest to win 8 gold medals.  After that night it became an obsession. I raced home each night to watch him win – and that’s all he did. Sure, it’s easy and quite frankly very fun to root for someone who was considered by most to be the best, but there was something else about this guy that kept us interested. It wasn’t just him, it was what he represented.

Sure I could go into a long winded essay about how “Michael Phelps is America,” but I won’t. What I will say is that Michael Phelps represented something important to me and to all of us. Watching him made us realize that the impossible wasn’t that impossible. That maybe hard work and determination really could get you want you wanted. He gave us hope and something to hope for. He gave us something to talk about, something to care about and something to cheer for. He took us out of the 9-5 grind, the mundane daily chores, the same settled routine and got us excited. He motivated us. He made us believe that it was possible to strive for excellence and even reach it. He made us think that even if we could never be as great as he was, we could, at the very least, try to be the best version of ourselves.  I might not go down in history as the most decorated Olympian of all time, but I could try a little harder to be better at the things that I actually do – to work harder and my job, to be a better friend, a better daughter, and to have the courage and determination to follow my own dreams - whatever they may be.

Now it’s 2012, and the feelings are all the same. Granted, some of us may have lost interest over the last few years - we have kids to feed, bills to pay, jobs to go to and many other  tasks that need our attention. But every four years, the world stops to witness something spectacular.  This time around,  at least for me, a tiny cloud had been cast over the London Olympics because of one thing. Michael would retire after completing his 7 events. I was still glued to my television, cheering louder than ever but after 4 hours of primetime coverage each night, I dreaded falling asleep and waking up one day closer to the end.  Seeing him become the most decorated Olympian of all time was nothing short of extraordinary but it was marked with a poignant sadness, knowing it would all be over in a few short days.

It is quite possible that in my lifetime, I will never again witness greatness of this magnitude. Maybe I have a flare for the dramatics but it cannot be denied that the records he set, broke and re-broke, are going  to stand for a very long time. When I’m an old lady I will tell rowdy grandchildren, who probably won’t care to listen, that I watched Michael Phelps not only win 8 gold medals during the 2008 Olympic Games, but also watched him become the most decorated Olympian just four years later. I will talk about him the way my parents talk about people like Muhammad Ali.  I will say things like “I wish you could have seen it” or “you had to be there” – because I did, and I was. I witnessed history. I saw greatness with my own eyes.

As the games come to a close I realize that he’s not really going anywhere. He’s not dying or moving to some remote undisclosed location never to be seen or heard from again, but his departure is, for lack of a better expression, the end of era. Soon we'll all be back to the daily grind, back to the chores, back to the bills. But something this time is different. We’re all changed having watched him and we're better for it. Now that he's retiring I ask myself "who do we have to cheer for now?" I think now that maybe it's not another superstar, maybe it's not even another athlete-  maybe it’s ourselves. And maybe it took a legend to help us realize that. To realize that we, too, can be great. For that, I am especially thankful. 

Thank you, Michael. For everything. 

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Prince-iples of Love

If any of you have had the pleasure (or displeasure) speaking to me to me for more than 10 seconds within this past year then you already know about my current obsession: Bollywood films. I love the big dance numbers, the colors, the songs - all the generic reasons why Westerners would like such films. I love the gentle nature of the love stories and the modesty in
leaving more than just a little to the imagination but I mostly love the films because of the one, the only Mr. Shah Rukh Khan. To me, and to many others, he is the ultimate Hindi Film star (only to be topped by respected screen legends.) As an actor he's got it all. He's talented, handsome, likable and for the most part, scandal free. In his films he's the perfect gentleman: romantic, sensitive, and caring (not to mention he looks damn good in a Kurta.) It's been about a year since I began watching his films in heavy rotation and I've noticed a great shift in the kind of men that I am attracted to because well, the men I am attracted to these days look a hell of a lot like Shah Rukh Khan. Thick dark hair, tan skin, brown eyes and of course, a big nose. I can't explain what it is about a big nose that I find attractive, there's just a certain je ne sais quoi about a big honker in the middle of someone's face. I imagine that, like Shah Rukh, men with larger noses would understand the beauty of this feature and use it as tools for romancing me during our courtship - like Shah Rukh does in his films. In lieu of kisses, he uses his nose to woo his on-screen heroines; stroking their necks with this ever-so-sexy, but not-so-subtly pronounced protrusion during romantic songs. Trust me, it's amazing.
Of course, life doesn't stop just because I want to indulge in 3-hour long movies on a regular basis. When I wasn't preoccupied with Bollywood watching, I was, like lots of ladies in their early 20s, somewhat occupied with and/or entertaining the idea of finding a boyfriend. Let's face it, I'm not getting any younger. The problem is, there's only one SRK so who on God's good green earth was I supposed to date now that I'd found him? I had a solution. After a year of pining away for King Khan I had pretty much come to the conclusion that my life's mission was to eithera) Go to Mumbai and make Shah Rukh fall in love with me b) Go to Mumbai and convince his wife that entering into a "sister wives" type of situation wouldn't be half bad or c) find a man who looks exactly like him and claim him for my own. C seemed like the best bet, and so it went. Anyone who looked remotely like SRK got at least an extended gaze on my behalf and everyone else was practically invisible. While trying to find an SRK look-a-like to romance me might sound amusing, it does pose some problems, namely the fact that in doing so, a single lady like myself is removing the majority of the eligible male population from consideration. But it wasn't my fault! SRK had completely ruined me for other men.Sure other guys have the potential to be nice, moderately attractive and have these little things called "personalities" (I hear they're important) but even so, they would never have SRK's passion, his sincerity or his nose! Just when I thought The Baadshah had completely skewed my expectations for male suitors, I made a great discovery. SRK was not changing my vision of the perfect man, he was simply fitting into a pre-existing mold, one that had been in place since childhood. My ideas about boys and men and what I perceived to be perfection had already been ingrained in me since I was 5 years old, thanks to the 1992 release of the Disney animated film Aladdin. That was it! I was and still am in constant search of my Aladdin - my dashing Prince in pauper's clothing (or is it the other way around?). I finally figured it out! My incessant Bollywood watching hadn't influenced by decisions about men, but my childhood favorite, my first crush, my first "hero" had. All I wanted from life (aside from money, a job, security, good health etc.) was a romantic, tan boyfriend who was not opposed to the occasional song and dance number.
For the past 19 years I had been (unbeknownst to me) in search of my Disney Prince - and let's be honest, what girl isn't? When we're young we act like it's all about the Princesses. We strive to be like them - dress like them, act like them, do our hair like them (I did mine like Jasmine's, obviously)- but the truth is that we only copy them because we believe that by doing this, we too will find a Prince. Our true focus from the very start is not on our favorite Princess but their dashing male counterpart. They are our first real idea of who men (aside from our fathers) are supposed to be. The men who will romance us, fight for us and eventually marry us (because good Princesses don't live in sin.) They are always handsome, well coiffed, seemingly tall and driven by their love for a woman with whom they have had minimal contact (I don't know about you but this is sounding very Bollywood to me). While others might go for Eric from the little Mermaid or Prince Philip from Sleeping Beauty, I have always fancied myself an Aladdin girl. Unlike those other Princes, Aladdin has a little bit of everything. He's brave, resourceful, romantic and loyal. Plus he has absolutely no body hair (plus!), no nipples (not necessarily a plus or minus but the absence of said nipples makes his pecs look bigger) and a strong nose, just like mama likes. True, he's not a real Prince but the fact that he's a commoner (ok a "street rat") only makes him more endearing, relatable and adds to the feeling of excitement when he eventually does become a Prince. Who does't love a rags to riches story? An orphan to a prince is pretty impressive (so is Delhi boy to Bollywood superstar, Shah Rukh. Don't worry, we haven't forgotten you.) Simply put, Aladdin (also known as Prince Ali Ababwa) is my perfect man. He grew up poor so you know he's scrappy, he's friends with a monkey so you know he's open minded and he fell in love with Jasmine when he thought she was a beggar so you know he's not in it for the money. Of course, like all men, he lies - but I think he learned his lesson from the whole Jaffar situation and emerged a more emotionally mature young man.
We have to consider, of course, that in the film Aladdin is supposed to be from the Arabian city
of Agrabah so my deepseeded love for him cannotcompletely explain my obsession with Indian born ShahRukh Khan but considering the ambiguous nature of character's ethnicities in the film (that's a nice way of me saying that Disney wasn't necessarily going for accuracy with this one) coupled with a 5 year old American child's lack of exposure to other cultures, it all sort of makes sense. Plus look at the Sultan's palace and tell me it's not a cartoon version of the Taj Mahal. Just try and tell me!
So what' the solution to all of this? Well, there really isn't one - I just realized it was a problem, what do you expect from me? Finding a real life version of my Prince - a tan, follicle-ly blessed orphan - is virtually impossible and I've already done it once (I'm looking at you, Shah Rukh) so the chances of doing it twice are slim to none. Thanks to Disney's unrealistic depiction of young men, I can't honestly say if I'll ever find my Aladdin but if Kim Kardashian's rise to fame is any indication, guys are digging the Jasmine look (and the genetic anomaly that is responsible for her insane body proportions) - maybe I'll try and go for that and see if my luck changes. Until then I'll be practicing my speed reading skills with constant viewings of subtitled Hindi films and anxiously awaiting the future arrival of the Band Baaja Baraat DVD (starring another Aladdin look-a-like) which, according to Netflix, will be arriving in about, oh, 6 months.
Originally posted @TheCosmicKid

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

In Which Michael Phelps Reminds Me Why I Am A Fan

The swimming fandom is kind of weird place - it's part newbies, part long time fans, part actual swimmers with actual knowledge and part random blend of people who just like Michael Phelps. And even though there are these small sub-groups among fans, they have one thing in common; they are all 100% emotionally invested. One of the things I find difficult about being a swimming fan - aside from the lack of TV coverage cough cough NBC - is that when I try and explain why I am a fan I have a very difficult time putting it into words. When asked I usually just say, jokingly, that I just like triumph; an appropriate answer being that the usual end result of a good race can be described with various synonyms of the word. In general, I think that it's hard to explain why you love something or why it affects you because "love" is just a strong emotion - it's something that you feel intensely and instantly recognize when you do. To someone who has never felt passion for anything (whether it be a hobby, sport, a business venture) then it's really like trying to explain why E.T. loved Reeses Pieces so much - he just did.

Although saying "triumph" is the reason I follow the sport is meant to be somewhat of a joke, it really does ring true much of the time. For instance, the other day I watched the show -down between good ol' Michael Phelps and his trash-talking rival, Milorad Cavic (cue the theme from the Good the Bad and the Ugly) and I have to say that it ended in a pretty triumphant manner - but before we get to that I have to clear a few things up. Before watching this race, I have to admit that I wasn't exactly as riled up as I should have been - sure it made me mad as hell that Cavic was claiming he had touched first (we all saw the pictures, buddy,) that he deserved the Gold and that, if necessary, he would buy Michael a suit to even the playing field (as if the issue was that Mikey's bank account balance was running low) but I wasn't insanely excited about watching the actual race. If this had been one year ago I would be jumping out of my chair in anticipation but it just didn't feel the same as last August. For me the Olympics was truly an event. I felt on top of the world last summer (minus the times I was actually watching the race and felt the need to vomit from nervousness) and nothing else that came afterward really got me as excited, emotional, or just plain crazy as I was during August 2008. The problem is that the Olympics to us new swim fans was kind of like that first hit for an addict - and we are doomed to spend the rest of your lives chasing that same high. It wasn't until the minutes were winding down and it was actually time to watch the race that I realized how important this was to me. Sure I make fun of Michael and his Subway Sandwich eating habits but the truth is, I became a fan because of his talent, his accomplishments and the way watching him made me feel - every time he won I felt pure elation in knowing that he represented the USA and he proved to everyone that he was the best and so we were because we had him. Of course not everyone believed that we were the best, cough cough Cavic, and it was time once again for him to show everyone that we were and are the undisputed champions.

I watched the race through my fingers because watching full on seemed to painful. What if he didn't win? What would people say? What would Cavic say? Would it cause more controversy over the swimsuits? Could I stand another headache because of the controversy over the swimsuits? I didn't know. All I knew was that my heart was practically bursting out of my chest as I watched him speed ahead, then fall behind and finally come through at the end for a finish that nobody, nobody could question - a victory won by a superior athlete wearing an "inferior" swimsuit. Once he touched the wall I knew at that moment why I loved him and why I loved swimming - because I do love triumph and this was the best example I could ever wish to witness. Watching him win, I felt something I hadn't experienced since last summer - and it literally brought tears to my eyes. It was a mix of happiness, disbelief, confirmed belief and sheer admiration for the talent, determination, and the will to win - with both grace and humility. In his performance Michael not only showed Cavic but he showed us - He showed us that he really does deserve all the press and all the fans. And even if, as Michael Phelps, the guy from Baltimore, gets himself into a little puff puff trouble that causes people to question his character he shows that as Michael Phelps the athlete, nobody can question his caliber.

It's in witnessing things like this that make me realize that my true motivation for being a fan is very selfish - I am constantly being rewarded for my loyalty. When he wins, there is this feeling that comes over you and you believe that in your own small way, you helped make this moment happen. That by banging on the kitchen counter and screaming "Go! Michael, Go!" as loud as you possibly could, you made the win a little easier - that he could hear you through the TV, across continents and even under that water he was cutting through. You feel like he did it for you - that right when he seemed to have started losing steam he heard your voice screaming louder and your heart willing him to win and that's what gave him what he needed for that final push and to come through with the victory. Then of course you have to remind yourself not to be so delusional in your beliefs and to remember that this is essentially what he does for a living. But even with that small realty check you might provide for yourself, in that moment of happiness and adrenaline pumping excitement following a victory you can't bear to allow yourself to believe those more realistic thoughts - you did help and that feeling of euphoria is exactly how he meant for you to feel. When you think about it, that's pretty darn selfish - taking credit for a Gold Medal win when all you did was engage in activities that could, under any other circumstances, land you in a straight jacket. But I guess that's what it means to be a fan - party crazy, part selfish, part supportive and 100% emotionally invested.

This blog was brought to do by 'Don't Poke the Tiger' productions. Kicking major ass since 2009.

Originally posted @ The Cosmic Kid

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

And... Cue Training Montage

Now that I'm in a post-Nationals and soon-to-be World Championships mind set, I've been thinking about what exactly it takes to train for these big events. Just using the word "training" leaves a heck of a lot to the imagination - plus I still don't exactly know or understand what tapering is, not to mention the fact that I'm extremely iffy of the other terms thrown around in those press conferences. I'm not sure that non-swimmers like myself I can really wrap our heads around the kind of work it takes to be as great as some of our favorites - I can barely deal with 30 minutes of cardio a day let alone multiple workouts and/or rigorous exercise. What I am sure of, however, is that if I were a swimmer some part of my training schedule would include throwing darts at a board covered by a picture of Team France - or something of the like.

Jokes aside, I was thinking the other day about that Navy SEALs training camp session the national team did a few months back. That was probably a really fun (and painful) way for the US team to break out of their usual training routine. I'm assuming that aside from being very difficult and strenuous these athletes' training schedules don't really leave much room for variation (or much fun for that matter) so it was probably a nice treat to get out in the sun, wear fatigues, and get yelled at by someone other than your coach for a change (Bob, I'm looking at you.) While I'm sure it was plenty of fun - and a fair amount of work - I can't help but think it must have also served as an unpleasant reminder that our swimmer babies don't get to do these types of things that often. Sure they get to party in Vegas (cough cough Michael Fred) and buy diamond bracelets now and again but when it's training season and everyone's getting down to business, it seems pretty intense. Clearly, I am and have been very emotionally invested in the happiness (and fashion choices) of various athletes so it bothered me a little to think that not only are they in physical pain most of the training season but they're also probably bored a lot too - there had to be a solution.

Then I thought to myself, what athletes compete in top physical condition, keep their competitive edge while also maintaining a healthy level of happiness by engaging in various physical tasks that are actually fun? The contestants on Global Guts circa 1992, of course! That's right, folks. The spandex clad, Aggro Crag climbing kids representing their nations of Global Guts had just the ticket when it came to training for major competition and for keeping their sanity. Think about it, not only did they get to compete in an assortment of strenuous yet fun events but they served as a sort of United Nations of adolescent sports - various nations coming together for a 30 minute action-packed children's program. I think that the revival of Global Guts would present a unique opportunity for for all the athletes to train together -sort of like a mini Olympics to keep the competitive spirit alive (only without the accolades and with the inclusion of tacky spandex shorts.) Maybe it sounds silly but if you really think about it, those events were pretty physically taxing - I'll bet if you ask any of the past contestants they'll tell you that until you've had to ride handle-less bicycle around a race-track a few times, you'll never truly appreciate a quad workout. Plus it has the benefit of not only dry land and aquatic work-outs but also weird, areal things that don't even make sense - but they probably do wonders for your core muscles.

Seriously. I've done some research (thanks Wikipedia!) and I've looked at Global Guts' cornucopia of events and I really think it would be a great way to keep the training fresh and it's probably, at least in some ways, safer than training with the armed forces - I can't be too sure but I'm almost positive that none of the contestants from Guts ever broke a bone on while fiming. Plus the event would provide unique ways of working those medal-winning muscles. I mean where else could you crawl through an Elastic Jungle that Wikipedia described as (and I quote): A jungle gym filled with elastic bands through which players had to walk or crawl. This was one of the few obstacles that had a definitive stategy; there was a small opening in the lower, right-hand corner of the obstacle that made tunneling through the Elastic Jungle very easy. That sounds embarrassing, agitating and fun all at the same time! And I bet all that crawling works the biceps and core muscles. Or what about the Off The Wall (RIP MJ) event? I don't know about you but jumping off a bridge in an attempt to knock as many as 50 basketballs off of a Velcro wall sounds like my kind of Saturday night. I don't know what muscles that would actually work out but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that at least the initial jump would be good for the thighs. And who could forget the true test of physical fitness and glory that is that glistening, overly glittery, jagged edged mountain, the Aggro Craig. Climbing the Aggro Craig was the final event of each episode which is triumphant in and of itself but the contestant that reached the top fastest got to take home a price of that epic rock - pieces that always looked nothing like the actual mountain and also looked a little radioactive. And in true Global Guts style, who wouldn't love to see MP, Reezy and Cullen Jones film those terribly tacky (and wonderful) introductions where they show off their cribs and needlessly yell at the camera like they're going on the Maury show for a paternity test? (Matt Grevers, you are not the father!) I, for one, would enjoy that very much.

Now even though I think this is an excellent idea and I think I've provided sufficient proof as to the benefits of allowing the athletes to compete on Global Cuts, the chances of a legitimate comeback for the show seems sort of slim at the moment. For one, I think Mike O'Malley is making some pretty good dough being the face of Time Warner Cable - starring as their generic man/husband/tv watcher in various commercials. And I have not even the slightest of clues as to wear Mo (the attractive British referee) is - I don't even know for a fact if she is still living. Plus I have a feeling there was some sordid on-set love affair between Mike and Mo that might hinder a civil reunion - you could cut that sexual tension with a knife! Anyhow, with all things considered, especially when considering the terrible programming now airing on Nick, (True Jackson VP? Seriously?) I think we definitely need this show back in our lives. That said, I think there is still a glimmer of hope that we might be able to work something out with USA Swimming and the Nickelodeon execs. We could throw in a few Subway spots and make everyone happy. What I'm trying to say is that even though this is a far fetched idea/most awesome fantasy I've ever had, if the planets were to align in my favor and this were to ever take place (with Mike O'Malley and Mo making their grand return) all my money is on Lochte to win a piece of the Aggro Crag.

Someone call Summer Sanders! She used to host "Figure It Out." Maybe she can put in a good word for me over at Nickelodeon.

Origianlly posted @ The Cosmic Kid

Monday, June 8, 2009

Second Open Letter to Nick Jonas

Dear Nick Jonas,

I don't know if you remember me but I wrote to you a few months ago. You know, the desperate cry from a college asking you to stop being hot. Yeah, that was me. Well, now that months have passed I feel that you've had a considerable amount of time to digest the material and I, myself, had had time to reflect on what I had written and have come to realize that perhaps my requests may have been too bold - but I have to say that in my defense, I was not only asking this as a personal favor but on behalf of the millions of women who are just one JB Meet and Greet away from a face to face session with Chris Hansen. And while I do realize the enormity of such tasks (namely reducing your hotness) might be taxing, it has become clear that, rather than even attempting to comply, you have simply chosen to ignore my cries and continue on your current path to inappropriate and illegal maturity. Though I can understand that the physiological aspect of your growth may be out of your control, there are various other aspects that contribute to the problem that can and should be halted. While the visual stimulation that your growth provides is not a problem for my eyes (because I must admit I quite enjoy it) it poses a problem for my physical and mental well being as it forces me to come to terms with an unnatural attraction to a child while also forcing me to contemplate a very real and possible future in a guarded cell.

While I appreciate the fact that you and your brothers seem to be very involved in communicating with your fans - taking photos, hosting meet and greets, general things of that nature - I can't help but notice that you have chosen to neglect the needs of your older, more mature fans in your complete refusal to answer our cries. I thought that you would have sensed the desperation in my letter but apparently it only added fuel to the jail bait fire. You see Nicholas, I have noticed the perpetuation of several problems in recent days: 1) your hair is looking better than ever 2) your wardrobe is even more impeccable (and more eclectic now with the stylish addition of various fashion forward scarves) and 3) you seem to have physically grown quite a bit -both in height and girth. I saw photos of you and your brothers at the London premier of 'Jonas Brothers 3D Concert Experience' and I must admit, I was beside myself. Your once cherubic face had changed. It had both thinned and filled out in the optimum places creating the illusion of age and exuded a manliness far beyond your years. If I didn't know any better I would have suspected foul play - specifically the use of growth hormones. You see, your physical maturation may be one aspect that worries me the most because now you not only look like a man - thanks to your stylist and hairdresser - but you are now well on your way to actually equaling the size of one. How am I supposed to avert my gaze when, at this point, the only tangible object that logically suggests you are the actual young age of 16 is that flimsy piece of paper called a birth certificate (which I have never seen and am still holding on out as actual legal proof.)

Oh, Nicholas, perhaps I am being too judgmental. You cannot help but to grow at the pace nature had intended for you. I've seen the movie Jack - so I understand that sometimes the growth process is sped up for certain individuals reasons that cannot be controlled (and sometimes those individuals end up looking like Robin Williams in the first grade.) But perhaps this is something of a good thing. Perhaps in this odd scenario of doomed love you are the Robin Williams to my Jennifer Lopez - and maybe when I least expect it you will bring me a ziplock filled with red gummy bears as sign of your affection. And just as Jennifer Lopez did, I shall refuse your overture of love for I know that though your body and face are deceiving, you are still but a child in the eyes of the law. A difficult yet noble thing to do. Damn you, Chris Hansen!

Anyway, getting back on task, I would like to address the issue of your new show JONAS. Now the problem here is somewhat more complex. Yes, you may have a point in saying that a woman of my age should not be watching the Disney Channel or doesn't HAVE to put on Channel 49 at exactly 8:30 pm to catch the show but it just seems to happen. I have cable, I get the Disney Channel, that's not a crime. Perhaps for your older fans, the Disney Channel should cost extra - this way when they want to watch Jonas they have to pay for it and they will actually have to come to terms with their sick obsession when their bill comes in the mail a month later - like porn addicts. But even with that, I know I would pay for it because your new television really has become a problem. While it is most likely aimed at a target audience from 7-13 years old I cannot help but find the the slapstick comedy and musical high jinks extremely amusing. More than amusing, beyond my control I find myself laughing quite loudly during the program. I also enjoy you stylish ensembles... but perhaps we should not discuss that.

I wonder sometimes, if you are purposely trying to get me attention; making subtle love calls to your older female admirers. Surely when filming the video for the song "Paranoid" you were fully aware that you had your electric guitar resting on your young hips just-so as you lifted your prematurely muscular arms above your head. I am not naive enough to think that you are that naive to have just done something like that nonchalantly - surely it was done as a little visual treat for the younger gals and a horribly mean (yet oddly delightful) tease and reminder that the older ladies like myself can look, but not touch. It's a perfectly innocently yet completely sexually suggestive gesture. What I mean is, if the tables were turned and Chris Hansen were to ask you what you were doing, you could just say you had an itch and were reaching for it (which would seem completely plausible) - but in actuality we all know that your little arm move was a little 'wink wink nudge nudge' to the other ladies. And what about the song "Don't Charge Me For the Crime"? While at face value, a fun tale of rebelliousness, is really, at its core, a song of sympathy because in your heart you too realize that my love cannot be bound by state laws and they will never truly understand our love - and by "understand" I mean legally allow it to exist.

Nicholas before I bid you a fond a dieu, I just want you to know that if loving you is wrong then I don't want to be right! But to anyone who is reading this who is not Nicholas I want you to know that I mean that more...hypothetically and I have not broken any laws because I know that it is wrong and that it means potential jail time and I'm not willing to go through that (even though I love you Nicholas, please forgive me, I'm not that strong.)


P.S. I only have eyes for you, Nicholas, especially now that Joe got that terrible haircut. K bye.

Orignally Posted @ The Cosmic Kid

Return of the Jedi

The bitch is back! And by "bitch" I mean "alien cyborg swimmer sent to destroy everything in it's path." And when I say "alien cyborg swimmer sent to destroy anything in its path" I mean Michael Fred Phelps - but you probably already knew that.

This weekend was host to Charlotte Ultraswim - and what a fitting title that was. This was not only a big meet for lots of our favorites - Reezy, PVK, Cullen Jones- but it marks the return of Michael Phelps to competition after a little... slip up... which cost him a 3 month suspension back in February. You know, If I didn't know better (and I do) I would have thought that Mikey planned that whole debacle out just to make us sweat for a few months. To build up the anticipation and make us question the real advantage of his weird flexibility, long torso, big feet and to let us stew over whether or not he could really come back post-partying, post-loss-of-8-pack, post-vegas and kick some real ass. Well he showed us. Shame on us for doubting! I really only have my own cynical self to blame, or maybe it's the lack of Kellogg's products in my diet that have caused a deficiency in certain vitamins that promote intellectual vigor - either one. But what this meet showed us that Michael's triumphant return to competitive swimming can really only be compared to Luke's kick ass force-using skills in Return of the Jedi, part 3 of the Star Wars Saga.

For those of you who don't know, I was way into Star Wars when I was ten. And by 'way into' I mean I had the boy version of Polly Pocket that featured a Storm Trooper helmet that housed the Death Star inside and my father pretended not to speak English at a vintage Comic Book shop as part of a scheme just to get me a real Storm Trooper Helmet as Christmas present - true story. Anyway what I'm getting at is that there are various elements to the Star Wars saga that relate to Michael Fred's career and grand return. Aside from the obvious daddy issues they share, these two have a lot in common. You see, even though I'm pretty sure Luke never took a hit off that long pipe that Jabba the Hut was smoking, he's had his fair share of problems. Michael's "rebellious" period can really only be compared to Luke's refusal to be a farmer on Tatooine. Even though Uncle Owen and Mamma Phelps raised their respective boys right, sometimes a young man must venture off on his own, leaving the next and/or home planet with 2 suns to meet new people, try new things and even make some mistakes along the way (though I blame Han Solo for most of Luke's downfall.) Alright, so maybe refusal to be a farmer isn't as bad as smoking an illegal substance but Luke might have done some other stuff too I mean, who knows what was in that blue milk they drank on Tatooine.

Aside from being a little rebellious here and there, both Luke and Michael have been able to hone their skills under the guidance of very strong mentors. I know what you're thinking, the clear choice for casting Bob Bowman would be Obi-Wan Kenobi, but I must remind you that Obi-Wan dies in the first movie and though his voice still follows Luke around but it's really not the same (plus I don't think Bowman looks like an older Ewan McGregor at all.) This is precisely why I see Bob Bowman as more of a Yoda character. You see, while Yoda is the ultimate Jedi master and teaches Luke how to really use the force, he and Luke do not always see eye to eye, in part because Yoda is about 2 feet tall, but also because Yoda uses unorthodox methods of training that a young kid like Luke really doesn't understand. Clearly Yoda knows what he's doing - he's had 900 years of Jedi training for crying out loud! Bowman, though well behind 900 years, has been at this for a long time and clearly knows how to train champions. And even though Bowman and Luke, I mean Michael, might have some screaming matches at the pool you can be damn sure that if it came down to it, after everything they've accomplished together, Mikey would carry that dude through a swamp in a little tiny back pack Yoda style.

What I'm getting at is that for both of these guys after all the existential crises, training with mentors and becoming friends with a very handsome fellow space traveler and/or swimmer with an alternative personality (Michael : Luke :: Reezy : Han) it was time to get down to business. Sure they both faltered along the way - kissing a sister, getting a DUI, losing a hand and being caught on a camera phone - both men brushed it all off in time to make a triumphant return - even though Luke was kind of annoying in the last movie and had 3 years to Michael's 3 months to train, but that's beside the point. Both revealed new weapons - Luke opting for a the new green (not blue) Light Saber and Michael debuting some new stroke that may or may not eventually stick and a death stare like nothing you've ever seen - and were ready to rock. Aside from that, the main thing they had in common is that they were focused and had the tools to kick some major ass - and Luke's decision not to kill his father who clearly deserved it can only be compared to Michael's sportsmanship (think Team France.) Hopefully after such hard work Michael had a little (and I mean little) after party, Ewok Barbecue style.

Okay so maybe those comparisons weren't exact but I think you get the general gist. Plus there's lots of little things like the fact that there isn't much diversity in space (cough cough Lando Calrissian) or in swimming or the fact that lots of former Jedi's end up being mentors and are instrumental in keeping the Jedi culture alive (cough cough Mel Stewart.)

Hey, maybe the whole robotic hand thing can explain this new straight-arm freestyle...

Originally Posted @ The Cosmic Kid

The X-Factor

It's May and right around this time is when the summer movie season begins. Luckily for me the first big movie to come was X-Men Origins Wolverine or Wolverine as we pedestrians have been calling it. The truth is, I happen to really love the X-Men movie franchise. When I was in High School X2 was just about the coolest/nerdiest thing to me and I watched it all the time - and by all the time I mean all. the. time. Yes I have the 2 disc DVD and I enjoy watching the special features from time to time - you have a problem with that? Didn't think so. Anyway, when I heard about this Wolverine movie coming out there was no question is my mind if I was going to see this new movie it was just a matter of when.

Before I actually got a chance to see it a few bits of bad news were pouring in. My sister alerted me that this film was not even a full 2 hours and for a comic book movie, that felt like a bit a rip off to me. I ignored that information because I chose to believe that she was misinformed and even if it was short, it wasn't enough to stop me from seeing it. Second bit of info was about the quality of the film. I was getting some mixed reviewed from people - some saying the film was great, some saying it was.. not so great - but I thought I should see for myself. Even though I was a little disappointed I felt some folks were being a bit unfair which is why I present to you 5 Reasons Why Wolverine Was Good.

Reason #1: Hugh Jackman is hot! So maybe there's some questioning of his sexuality in the media and what not but even if we don't know what the preferred sex of Hugh Jackman is, one this is for sure: Wolverine is definitely into chicks. I mean I love me some Hugh Jackman but sometimes he's so nice that I cannot find him as sexually attractive as I would like - Wolverine does not have that problem. Dude is hard - and I mean that in a completely nonsexual way. He's a badass plain and simple and sometimes us ladies (and some guys) are into that. He snarls all the time, kicks major ass and his body is ripped. Lucky for us, it seemed like they had him shirtless whenever possible so we got to see the bulging muscles in action - even though him being shirtless had nothing to do with the plot and was completely unnecessary I still quite enjoyed it. Basically what I'm saying is that if you ever found yourself in the tangles of passion with this dude he could most definitely kill you - and that's kind of sexy.

Reason #2: This is the film debut of the delectable Daniel Henney. Now for those of us in the states, Daniel Henney is a new face but the ladies of Asia have had access to his deliciousness for quite some time. Thanks to the very 'in-the-know' folks over at ONTD, I found out about this guy a few years ago but was very upset to find that he hadn't done anything in the US and thus I had to real access to his beauty. I'm not exaggerating when I talk about the perfection that is Daniel Henney - he's been a model for years and his photos are good. In X-Men he plays Agent Zero and I don't know if this has anything to do with his character or just the wardrobe assistant's probable on-set crush on him but he is looking luscious throughout the whole film donning white button down shirt (sleeves rolled up, thank you very much) and black ties. Basically he looks like the hottest lawyer you've ever seen. Daniel Henney does not disappoint in this film (minus the fact that his character doesn't have many lines) plus he knows how to handle firearms. Hot!

Reason #3: Hugh Jackman looks hot in period clothing. Okay I know this is similar to number 1 but it's got a whole different flavor. You see, Wolverine/Logan/Jimmy has the power to heal himself - so he basically lives forever. Anyway, at the beginning of the film they sort of show you all the time periods he's lived through with a montage of all the wars he's fought in - which include... well all of them really. At one point they show him fighting in some sort of civil/revolutionary/something-in-the-1800s war and I've never seen a blue frock coat look so good (yes I had to google that term.) Even though I'm pretty sure this was not historically accurate - considering the fact that he would have been like 16 in the Civil War and was born post-Revolutionary war - I was able to suspend my disbelief because the dude so looked delicious that questioning the scene's accuracy was not my top priority at the moment. He also looks good in all the other war scenes because he's sweaty, snarling and sometimes has a tank top on but this one historically inaccurate war was a winner - old fashioned hotness.

Reason #4: They fixed Hugh Jackman's hair. Okay I know this also sounds similar to numbers 1 and 3 but hear me out. In the other X-Men films they were being very true to the comic in that they made Wolverine look like he had hair that was a hybrid between a 1950s Greaser and a woman from the 1940s. While I can appreciate the fact that that choice was made in order to make the character reflect its true origin, it looked kind of weird - but Hugh Jackman totally worked it, which is hard to do. Luckily for the ladies in the move watching universe, the hairstylist on this film opted for a more subtle Wolverine look - it still goes up at the sides all wolf-like but only slightly. Giving him this more understated 'do made his character seem less cartoony, less mutant-like and less like the yellow and blue spandex-clad Wolverine from the video games I used to play, so I felt totally ok with being attracted to man who's killed a few folks and sometimes has bone claws coming out of his hands - hey, nobody's perfect.

Reason #5: They show Hugh Jackman's butt. Okay so you got me - most of these reasons have to do with Hugh Jackman but come on, they show the man's ass for crying out loud so I can't just ignore it! For anyone who has seen X2 you know that Wolverine has -these weird flashbacks of him in a science-project-looking tub - naked - getting adamantium put into his body to make him indestructible and most likely the world's biggest magnet. In this movie they actually show you how and why it happens - and like any respectable experimental Government science project he's naked. And just like the other movies suggest, he escapes from the eerie underground compound and you know, when you're in a flight from death you don't really have time to go back to your cubby and get pants. Now the thing that's so great about this is that, well you know, not every man has a butt worth looking at. Just like us ladies, some men are lacking in the booty area so I for one can appreciate and respect a man who has some junk in the trunk. I don't know what he's been eating or if he's just naturally blessed but this might be the first Australian ghetto booty to grace the silver screen. And it graces it. And graces it... for a few different scenes. Lucky us.

So maybe those reasons were a little biased and sway toward the females but hey, I'm a girl so what can you expect? Of course there's also cool explosions and some kick ass fight scenes - how can there not be when the man has effing retractable claws? Not the best of the X-Men franchise but definitely worth your dough - especially when you scam the theaters and buy senior tickets.

Originally Posted @ The Cosmic Kid