Tuesday, June 30, 2015

While doing twitter catch-up, I began hoping wondering if Scott and Tessa could be taking a shot at re-setting the narrative. Maybe they were toying with the idea of launching a menage a trois along the lines of Anais Nin/Henry Miller/June Miller. Tessa and Kaitlyn sort of fit the parts. Maybe the Kaitlyn Lawes/Scott Moir origin story would take a turn:

From wikipedia:
At the end of 1931, [Anais] Nin, finds herself dissatisfied with being a timid, faithful wife to her banker husband, Nin and her husband contemplate the possibility of opening their relationship. However when Anais meets June Miller, she is magnetically drawn to her and perceives June to be the most beautiful and charismatic woman she has ever met. Nin pursues an extremely intense, ambiguous, sexually charged friendship with her. When June leaves, Nin becomes involved with Henry, and begins an uninhibited sexual and emotional affair with him, which prompts an intellectual and sensual awakening. A friendship is formed between the two that was maintained throughout both artist's lives.
Henry, June and Anais


It’s right under our nose.

Come on guys, do something. Apropos of something much more serious, The Daily Show's Jon Stewart recently talked about "the nuanced language of lack of effort." Scott and Tessa's social media presence isn't all that nuanced, but the lack of effort part is nailed. I don't know if it's @jonescurl ladies specifically, or curling in general, but the curling angle has dull optics.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

T'was not the Season(s)

This gif-fest reacts to a small segment of the Virtue Moir fandom who criticized VM's choice to skate a debacle like Seasons at the Olympics instead of something mesmerizingly awesome such as Papadakis Cizeron's 2014-2015 free dance.

There are about 12 VM gifs and a few more PC gifs than that, so I'll get started now and finish up later.

When I made the gifs for these two programs, obviously I muted the music, and then we had two programs in the lyrical-romantic vein, so it was hard to decide where to be mesmerized, until you looked at skating content. Among other things.

Notes: Tessa Virtue straightens her legs rather more than Gabrielle Papadakis, who never straightens hers ever, while possessing hips nearly tighter than Meryl Davis's. I don't think either Virtue and Moir's skating, nor their choreography in Seasons suffers much in comparison to Papadakis/Cizeron's performance, despite Seasons's deficiency of drooping-flower-in-the-meadow body language or dramatic head rolls. And despite Tessa's failure to use fluttery fabric on her skirt. And despite Tessa and Scott neglecting to acquire matching light tans. Tessa does her own, interdependent skating while in and out of connection with Scott, rather than relying upon him to steer and turn her around the ice, but OTOH there's a clearly insufficient number of fluttery pirouettes performed in place as Scott gesticulates emotively while gliding, and yes, possibly Virtue and Moir could have raised their arms and eyes to the arena ceiling more frequently.

Yet, while I could see these choreographic omissions being perceived as less romantic, I don't get why some think it lesser skating. Or even less "impactful" skating, the most important category, usurping all others.

I think the main reason some may have preferred Papadakis/Cizeron to Virtue/Moir is they think the music is prettier. The clothes are prettier, the hair is styled more romantically, and the emoting gives more feels.

But the skating - it's not better. Or even in the same universe. I think lifts were mentioned, so I can't wait to get to those.

Here are the gifs (there will be some commentary):








Maybe Virtue and Moir's skating is too big?
The enormous run of blade/ice coverage thwarts
intimacy?


Though Papadakis Cizeron work to convey otherwise, a strong 
skating program is performed more with the blades than by
swinging the arms. Kudos for their arms remaining attached
to their shoulders after this performance; that took some doing.
One of VM's tired, easy lifts.




I'm not convinced all of ^  is what the figure skating
glossary means by "knee action".


My gifing slowed down a bunch at this point,
because the whole program looks like this.^
I kept thinking I was stuck at the same place, and
had to double check.
These guys could be the 2015 World Champions.


I wonder if Virtue and Moir would have lost half their fans if some of these fans had only found Meryl Davis to be a prettier looking woman. Or if Meryl Davis had a longer leg to torso ratio.

To be continued, but until then, jumping ahead to this:

So VM fans can gnash their teeth over how Tessa and
Scott's lackluster 2014 Olympic program didn't have this move
featuring a Weaver & Poje circa 2009 hydroblade
with an easier entrance, and Gabrielle using a full Meryl Davis
back-hooked arm around Guillame's neck coming out.


Sunday, May 31, 2015

Football, FIFA, Figureskating

I don't know, I feel that for the past six years, in many ways, figure skating, on and off the ice, is the real deflate gate.*
Sports are more than metaphor. Most boys adore sports because of the athletic aesthetic, trust in the final score and that both were attained by fair play. It’s what distinguishes the NFL from the WWE.
We assume one has old-school behemoths who play within the lines, and the rules, and the other has juiced-up behemoths who win by breaking the rules like a chair over a bulging back. Once the laws are more malleable, then the line between fact and fiction becomes obscured. We no longer know the difference between pro football and pro wrestling.
Jason Keidel, CBS Los Angeles
Keidel should get with the present century and substitute "people" for "boys" (WTF?), but it's nice Keidel has his ideals, and believes it’s still possible to preserve/defend select sports from the culture of fraud, instead of joining the chorus telling us none of it makes any difference. All the sports journalists are using the WWW as the point of no return. Baseball, football, soccer, dear God, get your house in order or you’ll end up like the WWW. A circus act. Not a sport.

OTOH, maybe if sports journalists thought "boys" watched figure skating, they'd give a shit that it's corrupt, and the line between fact and fiction has disappeared. I believe a significant component of figure skating's problem is its demographic. It has a demographic everybody thinks they can shit on. If it were perceived to have "boys" in its demo, figure skating might tread more carefully.

Figure skating is much more fraudulent than wrestling. If, in the WWW, cheating happens so Behemoth A defeats Behemoth B, at least Behemoth A actually did defeat Behomith B. The referee doesn't use a wet towel to slap awake the guy laid out unconscious on the mat after a knockout, haul him to his feet and declare him the victor.

In American football’s deflategate, depressurizing footballs allowed Tom Brady better purchase on the ball, so it would sail when thrown, not drop like a brick. If football were like figure skating, Tom Brady could literally throw a brick, or nothing but interceptions, and be awarded touchdowns anyway.

Figure skaters such as Ashley Wagner have tried to sell the blurred lines between sport and melodrama as part of figure skating’s appeal. And certainly Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir are here to remind us figure skating is a joke.**

After Vancouver 2010, which was marketed as the Integrity Figure Skating Olympics, figure skating 180’d towards the “It’s all about melodrama, personalities, entertainment and marketing!” route Wagner has embraced. That’s fine, except then you're no longer a legitimate Olympic sport. You're a Kardashian. Scott is, Tessa is, Davis and White are, and, come to how it handles itself off-ice, more people, like Kaitlyn Lawes and @jonescurl join in. Role modeling their hearts out on social media while lying through their teeth and hoaxing their supporters.

I wish figure skating could be exposed the way international soccer is exposed, the way the deal making and hard core corruption in FIFA is exposed. All it would take is a mainstream journalist actually reading the Code of Points, and spending a little bit of time on youtube familiarizing themselves with some basic edgework and steps. Throw up some screen caps and video shorts while asking a couple of questions about how the two were connected on the protocols. That’s it. Nobody, not even those who have written about figure skating for decades, have bothered to do that. Fans have done it, but unless that's acknowledged, it's like a tree falling in a forest. Back to the demographic - I believe if football fans, or fans of perceived "masculine" sports were pointing out this this type of evidence on line, sports journalists would pay attention.

The FIFA international criminal investigation and arrests are being driven by international financial crime laws, not sports regulation violations that are investigated internally, and penalized internally with fines, suspensions, and banning.

I look at what happened with figure skating in 2014 at the Grand Prix final and Sochi, and in its fundamentals, it looks a whole lot closer to FIFA than deflategate. But we’re talking pocket change, probably, compared to the sums at stake with FIFA wheeling and dealing. The principle, though, is similar. Dore, Retstatt and Lavoit didn’t cooperate to bring about Davis and White’s Olympic victory without getting something tangible out of the deal for themselves.

Even those who write about figure skating with enthusiasm are simultaneously a bit embarrassed to do so, and wouldn’t be caught dead taking it seriously. If they did take it seriously, they’d actually bother to know what they’re talking about, and be willing to engage with others who know what they’re talking about. Instead, fans and everyone else who takes it seriously as a sport are shut down.

Figure skating remains an Olympic sport, and shouldn’t be as it conducts itself now. I feel like there are figure skating fans waving their arms, trying to signal some attention from various regulatory or investigative entities, and the helicopters just refuse to see them, disappearing into the horizon.

If you don’t know what’s happening on the field of play, there is no way to recognize the empirical evidence that demonstrates corruption has taken place. It’s right in front of everybody’s face, but if everybody pretends not to know what’s there, it’s hopeless. Worse, when corruption in figure skating does get attention, most of it has been ginned up bullshit used as misdirection from real corruption.

How cute - Scott reassures Tessa that her pre-competition
rituals weren't that crazy. He's evolved so much since
"Tessa and Scott", where her every personality quirk
grated on his nerves to the point where he appeared to
be manfully clenching his jaw so as not to sock
her in the face. One more leap forward and maybe these
crazy kids will finally get together.
On another front, I think I’ve temporarily mislaid many of my “Drunk Scott” jpgs. I started looking for them after half-watching Mad Men’s season finale (for me, an exercise in “you have that to work with and you did that with it?"), and at several junctures I was reminded of social media Scott:

The left is Season 4, where the sick on Draper's shirt is
precisely where we usually find Scott's beer drool, and
the right from the series finale is from Mad Men
Screencaps with Things Drawn on Them
http://madmenwiththingsdrawnonthem.tumblr.com/page/2
Donald Draper is a middle-aged man in the grip of a long-running, destructive and painful existential crisis featuring a pitifully tenuous grip on his sense of self, while when we've see Scott in this condition, we assume he's just being masculine. I hope Kaitlyn has been a sobering influence.

Scott role modeling proper usage of the possessive and
plural on mother's day. 


*For its fans. Psychologically.

**Which is sad, because both are much more articulate and far more informed than Scott Hamilton and Sandra Bezic, but that's not why NBC hired them. NBC has decided figure skating is a camp event. Fine, but, which, again, not an Olympic-eligible sport.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

I no longer have the flu, but like almost everybody I know, I've persisted with a kind of half-assed, coldish, allergyesque, malaise-y kind of feeling, despite experiencing some really really really really nice weather, and an overall general delightedness that spring has sprung. I wonder what's causing it:


When I know it’s (way past) time to crawl into the web
and find out what Scott and Tessa are up to.
Every time I trek back into the figure-skating regions of the internet, I wonder if maybe something like this went down while I was away:


While occupied elsewhere I could easily miss it, given how much real news is happening these days (Bruce Jenner!). But it always turns out not to worry, it's still Groundhog Day in Scott and Tessa Territory. Both on track to pass their thirtieth birthdays still lying their asses off with the avid participation (actual help isn’t really required) of the many eager beavers in Canada's media demi-cartel. I bet Virtue Moir didn’t anticipate, back in 2008, that it would become the norm for the mainstream North American media to peddle bullshit it knows flatout is bullshit, and doesn't care. We're not talking see no evil, hear no evil. Not failure to verify. Straight up. Tessa and Scott's mid-00s hoaxing antics matured in time to intersect seamlessly with the current Zeitgeist, which is essentially all bullshit, all the time.

Tessa used to want to be different, Tessa and Scott used to say they wanted to do their own thing, but in this regard they’re just lemmings.

Scott, never change:


“Now that that pressure is gone, we can both
focus on our LOVE … for skating and how much
we
love to skate ... TOGETHER”
 
Actually, he could change a little. I wonder if he still gets a kick out of himself still using the same material from 2009.



I of course read this:

Dating

More fun clippings for mommy and daddy's scrapbook. Kirk Penton has the byline.

The rest of Team Jones discusses how they’re dealing with the heightened public attention the curling team has done nothing but energetically cultivate since they stepped off the podium. It's how you do. Bust a hernia jockeying for the spotlight, then smile gamely and interview: "Oh my gracious - attention! Let us demonstrate what good sports we are about it!" 

I don’t think you even have to be really having any kind of authentic celebrity experience, because we all know that if your publicist tells a "journalist" you're getting attention, the media will say you are without having the first clue if you are or aren’t. What is the media going to do – verify? They’re too busy using celebrities to create celebrity for themselves.

************

I was really interested to read in Vanity Fair that NBC's news division was run by a woman who came up the Peggy Olson way (began as a secretary), accumulating an extensive management background but with a complete gap where news experience would belong. She has plentiful soap opera background, and for that matter, why does one actually need a news background, when the way you manage a news division is to commission a bunch of focus groups to find out what they think of the on-air personalities. Then you do what you want, because focus group research only exists to back-up something you’ve already decided upon. The article describes how communication among the different honchos up and down NBC's hierarchy was less than clear cut and aboveboard, and how Brian Williams did what he wanted and reported how he wanted because he was a network celebrity. His supervisors at NBC - once they remembered that's what they were - didn't really care that he'd lied. Turns out Williams' career-stalling blunder was crafting his weirdo apology himself, and delivering it on air without alerting anyone in advance. No no. You're supposed to hole up in your apartment with NBC's crack marketing wizards, shades drawn, for three days until you produce something that makes the lies slide by like butter. Williams went rogue when it mattered most.* Sheesh. Don't ad lib your own explanation for why you lied your face off, fool! Let the pros write it, that's why we pay them.



Sunday, March 29, 2015

Ugh

Apologies for whatever happened with the photo upload last night. My browser at times shows issues when there are none, so I assumed that was it when the images didn't show for me.

Iliushechina/Moscovitch death spiral
I take it back - I don't think IM's placement really merits sarcasm, considering the death spiral was just gone. They frustrate me. To my surprise, Iliushechkina well and truly has her jumps, both of them, but it's like whack-a-mole. They nail one problem and then there's a weird outcrop somewhere else. I think I'm afraid it's a focus issue.

Still:


I thought Savchenko Szalkowy stalked their quad. Duhamel Radford frustrate me too. The calibre of Meagan's skating was well below that of Eric's at Worlds; but as their coach pretty much said, once you start getting pcs, you keep getting pcs. Every discipline in figure skating is turning into a nightmare.

And there's this:



There ya go, Angelika Krylova. You garbaged Virtue and Moir for nothing.

The fifth place Shibs weren't asked to skate in the gala, but I'm sort of curious if next season they start getting better scores while Weaver & Poje are thrown under the bus. I won't cry if that happens, and I sort of wonder if it might. They won't be able to touch Chock & Bates of course.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Some weeks back, U.S. network news anchor Brian Williams, father of spectacularly charismatic superstar Allison Williams, was put on “suspension” for making up stuff about his adventures in the field. Social media made a whole lot more fun of the vainglorious nature of his fabrications than they did of the fact that he was a news anchor making shit up.

Brian Williams is the latest “news” person to show us that news people are in the business of making brands/celebrities of themselves, nothing else. After his mis-remembrances flared into controversy, other media notables waded into the fray, some to make the points that “He’s a nice guy” and “everybody lies, so what’s the big deal.” We're supposed to suck it up, come on, remember that.

Back in the 1930s, William Randolph Hearst was quoted as observing: “The public is even more fond of entertainment than it is of information.”

Well, duh. I don't know if that's actually true, but it's certainly an evergreen rationale.

I snoozed through the 4CCs.  Not even this:


perked me up. How much fun can it be when even KMT know she's fucked up? Look at her face. She can't even be bothered to be apprehensive.

I enjoyed this:

But I still feel uncomfortable when a good team is awarded appropriately, just as I feel uncomfortable when a sucky, or placeholder, or pedestrian team gets decent scores. It's just difficult. When a decent team gets decent scores,one wonders how Virtue Moir ended up wearing silver medals at the Sochi Olympics, if actual skating merits strong scores. Just as it's difficult when a polished, but bad skating, team, receives top marks in a competition. It's pretty much no win.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Skate Talk

I’ve had the flu, which has caused a delay in following up the previous post. Even now I'm sort of dragging myself across the keyboard, but if I don't force myself to get going, I'll end up malingering straight through the Canadian Championships.

Once my eyes stopped glazing over every time I looked at the computer screen, I tried to start in on the next post, which became this post, a post I’d intended to be about Meryl Davis, or more precisely, to be about how people inside the sport talk about Meryl Davis when they, like Angelika Krylova, are interviewed. I'm stuck now thinking about how people talk about and analyze skating, skaters, competitions, and wondering how fans are supposed to look at and analyze skating and competitions in what is, IMO, a newly flagrantly oppressive system (even for figure skating, it's still newly oppressive in ways it hasn't been before), that has demonstrated itself in fine form so far this season. I think a Rubicon has been crossed.

The only one who is sort of talking about it is Richard Gauthier, Duhamel and Radford's coach, and I don't even know if he knows he's talking about it. I'll elaborate later.

I’d been stuck on that Angelika Krylova interview, the one where she claimed Virtue Moir, specifically, Tessa, got fat and lazy after Worlds 2012, while Meryl Davis, a woman with no discernible ice dance or figure skating ability, Angelika Krylova reminded us, willed herself to the top. This is Krylova’s framework for Meryl, not mine.

As always happens, Tessa immediately became the topic of debate and discussion on skating forums, while, despite Krylova’s praise, nobody really wanted to touch Meryl except when her supporters affirmed once more how they admired the ability of a woman with no talent whatsoever to persevere until she had an Olympic gold medal at home. It’s much easier to talk about fat versus muscle development, weight distribution, Scott’s knees and Virtue and Moir’s arrogance, and, of course and eternally MUSIC SELECTION AND STYLE (which is all that matters in a program) then to really get into the specifics about how a woman like Meryl, with, we must be reminded, no talent or skill, got a gold medal at the Olympics. People say they admire that she did it, and kind of leave it at that.

It's difficult to think of any other figure skater where THE key narrative element to their success arc begins by reminding us  - emphasizing -  their utter lack of talent and apparent lack of anything else to bring to the table (and there’s a world of fan insecurity in that “or anything else” because those inside the sport always imply Meryl started with nothing but sheer will). Meryl’s lack of ability appears essential to the storyline. The subtext ends up reading: “What she did was amazing for a woman who can’t skate or dance and hasn't much charisma either!”*

Well, yeah. And that’s where we are, really. That’s the story. If Meryl had been presented as an extremely talented woman, a brilliant figure skater and wonderful dancer who was number two in the world until the even more brilliant and talented number one (Tessa) got fat and lazy,
 and Meryl was able to take over, it doesn’t seem as if anybody in the sport had confidence it would sell, not to the public, not even to her own fans or the credulous media. So the narrative seems to be – “Let me remind you again – this girl had NOTHING going for her, but she kept at it anyway, and then they won! Meantime the spoiled girl who had EVERYTHING got complacent and sat around stuffing her face! Who deserves to win, huh?"

Meryl always does need a little help even with her own story. There has to be a negative Tessa story to help grease the wheels AND Meryl needs to be graded on a curve. It's always compensation when it comes to her.

And that seems to work okay, logical implications be damned. Meryl Davis – she sucked, but didn’t let that stop her!

(I don't know if it's Tessa extraordinary talent or Meryl's lack of it that makes pushing Tessa down a requirement, that if we're not told Carmen proved how lazy and fat Tessa was, we'd never believe even the ferociously willpowered Meryl Davis could ever surpass her. The narrative arc of Meryl's zealous drive to the top doesn't work unless we're simultaneously told Tessa Virtue pigged out and became a sloth. Just amazing. Selling Meryl as a legit champion - this is what it takes.)

These are the storylines we’ve got in this sport, now, Meryl’s story is at the top, and furthermore, and no matter what wonderful skating may randomly display itself, stories are all we've got. The skating part is gone. Meryl's story will always and forever demonstrate overcompensation (a woman who can't do anything has to be flipped and presented as someone who can do everything), and I think we're in for a lot of that all around. It's deadening.

I believe, and believed last year, that with what happened to Virtue and Moir at the Grand Prix Final and in Sochi, there's no going back. It's impossible for the sport to ever return to an athletic/skating skills narrative even when/if at times that narrative might be attractive to the ISU. I do see some period-of-adjustment awkwardness this season as some seasoned skating observers reverse engineer/adjust to the new order, like: "Oh wait, Papadakis and Cizeron are GOOD? How was I supposed to know – all I had to go by was the skating. Why didn't you tell me before I submitted my competition preview!"

Before, the sport was corrupt but I don’t think the corruption was “officially” institutionalized. With Virtue and Moir, that happened. It was an unprecedented step across the line and there’s no going back without official acknowledgement it was done, and that will never ever happen. We'll continue to get dumb fuck agenda’d analysis like Krylova’s*, and I believe what happened to Virtue and Moir has had, and will continue to have, an incredibly oppressive effect on those who participate in skating and those who are fans of figure skating. Bottom line, I think what happened to Virtue and Moir had the effect of making skaters and those few knowledgeable fans who exist KNOW they’re powerless. The one power skaters did have was the belief that if they listened to feedback and looked at the protocol sheet and adjusted their skating in response, they could alter their results. If they now know this is a charade, that the exercise is futile before it’s even undertaken, where does that leave the skaters, where does that leave the public?


_______________________
*As I said before, my suspicion is this was a desperation, kiss ass ploy, because she's fearful Weaver & Poje are slated to be Cappellini'd and Lanotte'd next season.