Posts Tagged ‘Olympics


2 in 1 Showcase Episode 281: The 2012 Year in Review

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It’s finally here, friends… the Showcase crew goes through everything interesting in the world of comics and pop culture for the past 12 months! This mammoth podcast touches on Marvel Now!, the New 52, The Walking Dead, hit movies, not-so-hit movies, LEGO, Aquaman, Spider-Man, Batman, Superman, the Avengers, the X-Men, Hello Kitty and virtually everything else. And as always, the crew closes it out with their picks of the year. Go to the bathroom first, because this episode is a giant. Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at!

Music provided by Music Alley from Mevio.

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 281: The 2012 Year in Review


The Olympics return — sadly, so does Matt Lauer

People who know me know how much I love the Olympics. Every two years, like clockwork, I glue myself to coverage for 16 days — summer or winter, doesn’t matter, I will watch any Olympic event I can find. And I don’t expect that to change any time soon.

But one thing really needs to change, and that’s NBC’s coverage of the games.

The networks of NBC have carried every Olympic games for several years now, and as in the past, NBC’s Today show talking head Matt Lauer has been freeze-dried, shipped overseas, and allowed to show the world America at its most obnoxious. Lauer, as he does daily on Today and annually at coverage of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, came across as a pompous, condescending windbag throughout the ceremony, interrupting moments of brilliant majesty, quick humor, and beautiful music with his own pontificating and blathering about what was on the screen, working under the assumption that the American audience is too stupid to understand what it is we’re watching.

That’s not my theory, though, that’s basically what an NBC spokesman said in an e-mail to the Los Angeles Times.

“It was never our intent to live stream the Opening Ceremony or Closing Ceremony. They are complex entertainment spectacles that do not translate well online because they require context, which our award-winning production team will provide for the large prime-time audiences that gather together to watch them.”

That’s right, friends. If you watched the coverage on NBC, you just wouldn’t have understood what you were watching if not for Lauer and Meredith Viera providing us with such brilliant insight as reminding us that children in the US will have heard of Madagascar from the series of animated movies, clarifying that the six people in the Nigerian delegation are “six athletes,” or — my personal favorite — telling us in the first few minutes of Friday night’s broadcast that in England, they refer to television as “The Telly.”

Remember, America. NBC thinks you are too stupid to understand the Olympic opening ceremonies without this sort of insight.

But look on the bright side — they also protected us by editing out elements of the ceremony such as a tribute to the victims of a London terrorist attack that happened just days after the city won the Olympic bid, instead using the air time to show us Ryan Secrest speaking to Michael Phelps (who no doubt wouldn’t have gotten any coverage at all were it not for this on-the-spot interview). This is context, people. NBC knows, of course, that the people of the United States of America couldn’t possibly understand taking a moment to memorialize the victims of a terrorist attack in a major city.

(Thanks, by the way, to my wonderful girlfriend Erin for bringing this particular bit of stupidity to my attention.)

Of course, this is the same network that can’t figure out what to do with a show like Community, gave Whitney Cummings’ attempt at comedy a second season order, and handled the problems in their late night division with such ineptitude that books have been written about it.


And, yes, are still in last place.

But I guess that last one is easy to explain. Clearly we, the viewers, don’t have the necessary context to understand their programming.


Thank You, Vancouver!

After two weeks of awesome, the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games came to an end last night, leaving us to wait patiently for the next four years before the games return, this time to to city of Sochi in Russia. Sure, we’ll get the summer games in London in 2012, and I’ll eagerly watch them as they unfold, but if we’re going to be totally honest here, I’ve always kind of preferred the winter games to the summer.

Oddly, I think the reason I like the winter games so much is because I’ve never done any of that stuff. I’ve played many of the games you see in the summer Olympics. I can swim. I lifted weights in P.E. I’ve played baseball, basketball, soccer. Not well, of course, but I’ve actually played them. But growing up in Louisiana, I’ve never played hockey. I’ve never gone skiing. I’ve never glided on a luge, and while I have, on two distant occasions, worn ice skates, nothing I did out there could possibly be considered actually “skating” by any sane observer.

And sometimes, I lie awake at night, silently weeping because I have never curled.

The unknown of the sports is probably what appeals to me. I’m fascinated as I watch the bobsleds race down the tracks. I imagine the feel of the wind whipping past my face on the speed skating track. I think about the incredible endurance needed for cross-country skiing and the pinpoint accuracy of the biathlete. And, if you’ll excuse the pun, I watch the snowboard cross races, and I feel like I’m looking at the coolest game in the world.

I, of course, am far too old and out of shape to ever even dream about competing in the games. (This is not an excuse to remain out of shape, it’s just a glimpse of realism.) But that doesn’t mean that I won’t be captivated watching them as they happen.

Thanks for a great show, Vancouver. Sochi, we’ll see you in ’14. I’m looking forward to the show.


The night before vacation…

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a huge fan of Mardi Gras. So tomorrow (early) I’ll be boarding a plane and heading to Las Vegas, Nevada, to spend five magical days with my girl Erin there. So how am I spending my last night in Lousiana for a few days?

  • Packing, first and foremost. Although for me, packing always seems to entail cleaning out as well. Going on a trip seems to be the only time I take all the junk paper, used pens, and other assorted debris out of my computer bag. I’m trying to get away with only having my one checked bag and my computer bag with me on this trip, and I think I’ll be able to pull it off. I’ve even secured an extra shirt and pair of underwear in my computer bag in case my luggage and I wind up having to take different flights. I’ve made the traditional list of everything that needs to be packed and almost all of it is. But I know that somehow I’ll find something I missed.
  • Searching for eBooks. The main reason I believe that I’ll be able to eschew my usual carry-on backpack for this flight is because I won’t have a huge sack full of books to read on the flight with me. Instead, I’ve got my trusty Kindle. And although I already have over 400 titles on the device, I’m bopping around several websites looking for other free content to upload, because who knows what I’ll be in the mood to read after the current book I’m nearly finished with? I’m searching a variety of sources, including the sites I mentioned in my shockingly popular Where I Find Free eBooks post of last week, and other sites that people have directed me to since reading that one.
  • Podcasting. Since I was unable to get together with any of my crew this weekend to record, I dashed out a shortened episode of the 2 in 1 Showcase podcast. I’m going to upload it after I finish this post, and then send it out into the internet. I take my podcasting duties seriously.
  • Watching the Winter Olympics. As you probably know by now, I dearly love the Olympic games, both summer and winter. Oddly enough, I think I actually like the winter games a little bit more. The summer games are great, but something about watching events taking place amidst the snow and ice — an utterly foreign concept here in Louisiana — makes it almost like I’m watching another world.
  • Sleep. Well, soon enough. I’ve got to get up at 4 a.m. to catch my flight, after all. But for now, I’ve still got so much to do…

The new commercial race

I was watching Chuck the other day. In and of itself, there’s nothing unusual about this. Chuck is a brilliant show, and every time you don’t watch it, NBC kills two puppies and rearranges its late-night schedule. But during the season premiere of this excellent show, a strange sort of cut scene began. The stars of this scene, however, were not the main characters of Chuck, Sarah, and Casey, but side-characters Ellie, Morgan, and Devon (a.k.a. Captain Awesome) taking a road trip. It soon became clear that this was not an actual part of the show, but instead, a commercial for the vehicle they were driving in. I think it was a Honda of some sort. And what’s more, these three characters from the show were on their way to the Vancouver Winter Olympics, which also (coincidentally) will be broadcast on NBC.

I don’t watch as many commercials as I used to, because like everyone else with access to DVR, I’m usually fast-forwarding through them. But I stopped for this commercial, because I didn’t realize at first that it was a commercial. But I like the characters, and the commercial was actually telling a bit of a story. So I watched it, and the last few weeks, I’ve actually looked for the new “installments” of this ad campaign.

This week, watching Community (another show you should be watching. NBC kills three puppies when you don’t watch Community) I noticed another such ad. This time we had two of the supporting actors from the show, but they were playing “themselves” instead of their characters, having a business dinner and plugging TurboTax. And again, it was actually funny.

Ever since DVR and “time-shifted” television viewing started to become a factor, advertisers have had a problem. Commercials, after all, are what pay for most of our television content. It’s the reason we don’t have to pay a monthly fee to watch NBC the way we do for HBO. But if nobody is watching the commercials, why would anybody buy a commercial? And if nobody is buying a commercial, who’s gonna pay for me to watch Chuck? When I saw these two ad campaigns, I realized I was seeing an attempt to respond to this issue. Sure, they’ve been using product placement during the show, and it’s not anything new. In “reality” shows the product placement has gotten so ridiculous that you’d think Simon Cowell is an indentured servant to the Coca-Cola Company. But now we’re seeing the actors for the show we’re watching shilling products in-character, something that (if my memory of my communications degree is correct) used to be against FCC regulations in the United States. I first realized this was changing when Direct TV started its ad campaign featuring actors re-creating their famous movie roles to convince me that cable just wasn’t good enough. Now it’s making its way to current TV. Heck, the Chuck spots actually promoted three things at once: Chuck itself, the Honda Whatchamacallit, and the Winter Olympics.

And here’s the amazing thing. Neither commercial bothered me, because I found them both entertaining. Some people have a knee-jerk reaction to commercials, they hate ’em outright. But advertising is filmmaking, in a sense, and there have been some really entertaining commercials over the years. I like the Coca-Cola Polar Bears. I like the animated M&Ms. I like that Minute Maid commercial where the guy in the mall thinks he’s the father of a nun’s child. I look forward to the “Funniest Commercials of the Year” specials TBS airs every December. Great commercials are the reason that, most years, I’m more interested in the ad spots than the actual game on Super Bowl Sunday. (Here’s hoping this year will prove the exception.)

Then I realized one more thing. I realized a heck of a lot of things this week. I realized that Madison Avenue wasn’t trying anything new. Far from it. What I’m seeing here is a return to old-school advertising. If you look in the early days of television and the Golden Age of Radio, the actors themselves did ads during the TV show. A lot of the time they would even integrate the spot into the script itself. I love old-time radio, and I’m always amazed when I hear something like an episode of Duffy’s Tavern where one of the characters interrupts a poker game to talk about how awesome some archaic brand of pomade was, or how Camel Cigarettes would talk about some brave American serviceman that they were sending a few thousand cigarettes each week on Abbott and Costello.

It was okay then, and honestly, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it now, really. Remember the secret, guys. We’ll forgive being advertised to if you can entertain us at the same time.

And you people go watch Chuck before Fluffy gets it.


Thanks to everyone who has expressed concern for my wonderful girlfriend Erin. She unexpectedly had to be admitted to the hospital on Tuesday, had her gall bladder removed yesterday, and came home to recuperate today. She’s doing okay, but we did get a bit of a scare there. If you want to read a much more detailed (and entertaining) account of her ordeal over on her own blog in today’s post, The New and Improved Erin Patricia, Now With Fewer Internal Organs!


Michael Phelps in 60 Seconds!

Not much of an update for you tonight, guys. Something kind of big came up a little while ago and it’s consuming all of my attention. Maybe someday soon I’ll be able to tell you about it, if it turns out the way I want it to.

I know that’s vague, but for once I’m not being cryptic for the sake of fun, I genuinely can’t talk about this yet. But I’ll take any good karma you can send my way.

Here’s something I thought was kinda fun to fill the void: Michael Phelps in 60 Seconds!


Why do you watch the Olympics, Blake?

Why do I watch the Olympics?

Nights like this one.

There’s something to be said for achievement. For dedication. For the spirit of competition. There’s something to be said for watching the best in the world compete against one another. And there’s something to be said for watching a competitor like Michael Phelps.

The Olympics are not just about the event, it’s also about the story behind it. The hard work it took the athletes to get there, the way they’re working to make their mark in the world, the way they’re fighting to prove themselves against the greatest competitors on Earth. Michael Phelps’ story has been an incredible one. For decades now, the same record of 7 Gold Medals in a single Olympics has stood. Tonight — or, rather, tomorrow morning in Beijing — Phelps swam his final race in this games, a four-man relay that depended not only on his own near-superhuman prowess, but also on the skill, hard work, and talent of his three teammates.

And they made it.

Why do I watch the Olympics? Because it’s worth it to see someone do something that has never before been done in the history of the world.

Go ahead and cheer, Michael. You’ve earned it.


How do they KNOW: an Olympic query

For a week now, I’ve been diligently watching the Summer Olympics. Virtually every second I’ve been home and awake, I’ve had coverage of some event or another on TV… even tennis, which I’ve never been able to comprehend. I’ve had few greater joys as an Olympic fan than watching Michael Phelps rack up gold after gold in the pool. Erin is convinced he’s Batman.

But there’s something that I still find perplexing, and it’s in the gymnastics arena. I appreciate a magnificent gymnastic performance, and I get why certain mistakes bring with them certain penalties. A girl falls off the bars? Make a deduction. Someone bounces out-of-bounds in the floor exercises? Make a deduction. Dude misses on the vault and winds up smashing himself in the jibblies? Make a deduction and put it on YouTube.

But sometimes I’m listening to the commentators discussing these microscopic errors and the microscopic point deductions and I’ve just got to ask: how can they tell? “Look at how she wobbled there, Johnny, almost one-thirteenth of a millimeter. That’s a three-tenths deduction.” “Oh, his shoulder is pointing in the wrong direction while he’s hurtling through the air at a trillion miles an hour. That’s gonna hurt him.” “Oh no! Did you see how her foot brushed against that uneven bar? That’s going to be a catastrophic error! Japan is going to clean house!”

These events take place so fast I don’t understand how the human eye can possibly keep track. Even with the instant replay option, it seems so unlikely that they could pick up on something like that. Plus, I’ve just got the knowledge that there’s no way in hell I could ever do it, so I give them total respect. Honestly, if a dude can get off a pommel horse and still has the ability to father children, I say give him the gold.

Bless Me, Father update:

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I’m directing a play over at the Thibodaux Playhouse. While I’ve still got a couple of roles that need to be cast, we’ve begun rehearsing in earnest. The first few rehearsals are always a little rough. We’re blocking out the scenes, telling people where to stand, when to move, when to sit, all the nit-picky stuff. Once that’s out of the way, we can really start to work on things like timing, character, and just plain comedy. But even in the blocking rehearsals, we’re laughing an awful lot. I’ve got a really good cast. I know I’m going to be proud of this group when they take the stage.


Let the games begin!

As so many of my friends will immediately tell you, I’m not much of a sports guy. I don’t watch a lot of sports, I haven’t played any since I stopped rec department baseball in about fourth grade. Heck, it took a hurricane for me to full appreciate the importance of the Saints to the city of New Orleans.

But I love the Olympics.

I’ve always loved the Olympics, for as long as I can remember. From the opening ceremonies to the final dousing of the torch, I watch every second I possibly can — summer or winter, doesn’t matter. Bicycling, hockey, basketball, ice dancing, track, curling… I’ll watch it. Last night the 2008 games in Beijing, China, opened with what many are justifiably calling the most spectacular opening ceremonies of all time. I watched every second of that, and since I woke up this morning I’ve been watching volleyball, beach volleyball, rowing, swimming, and whatever else they saw fit to put on the TV.

There are a lot of reasons I love the Olympics. For one thing, for a lot of American athletes it’s the only chance they’ll get to shine. Let’s face it, if it weren’t for the Olympics, how many of us would know names like Michael Phelps and Amanda Beard (swimming stars)? How would the equestrian champions or the rowing champions find exposure outside of their own little circles? What are the chances of synchronized swimming getting played on TV before midnight?

But that isn’t the only reason — I watch basketball and hockey too, and those are games populated by superstars. So why does it resonate with me? It’s a symbolic thing. The Olympic games are, ideally, a chance for the people of the world to put aside their differences and come together to celebrate the greatest of us — the strongest, the fastest, the highest. There’s a degree of national pride involved. This morning, I saw three American girls I’ve never heard of before sweep the gold, silver, and bronze medals in a fencing category, and I bubbled up when I saw all three flags raised together. And although I of course pull for the Americans in any sport, I don’t begrudge anyone else who cheers for their team. They keep saying on the news that the people of China view the Olympics as a chance to change their perception in the eyes of the world. They’ve got a long way to go, clearly, in the arena of human rights, but if they’re honestly making a change, this will be their chance to show it.

It’s about unity, and determination, and although I’m not the sort who likes to elevate athletes to heroic status, chances are the ones who actually deserve that label — from all over the world — will be on display in Beijing over the next 16 days. I’ll be watching for them all.


A few reviews for you today, gang:

May 2023

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