Friday, July 31, 2015

Scott and Tessa are still "Tessa and Scott"

Tessa and Scott, presented by the W Network.
Partnership venture with the NY Times to follow?
This post takes a winding road to the subject of Tessa and Scott:
And to other reporters: Democracy is not a game. It is not a means of getting our names on the front page or setting the world abuzz about our latest scoop. It is about providing information so that an electorate can make decisions based on reality. It is about being fair and being accurate. This despicable Times story was neither.
Journalist Kurt Eichenwald, for Newsweek. He says “Democracy”, but for me, the point is journalism is not a means of self-promotion and self-positioning for the individual journalist, and all other considerations can fuck off. But as times have evolved, that’s all journalism has mostly become.

The block quote opening this blog post is a summing up from an old school, veteran investigative journalist writing about last week’s New York Times’ rushing into above-the-fold print a “criminal referral into Hillary Clinton’s handling of emails” story based upon a document that turned out to not concern Hillary Clinton and not be a criminal inquiry. The document dealt with a dispute between the U.S. State Department and the Office of the Inspector General over the classification of emails currently being reviewed for release in response to the Freedom of Information Act. The IG office is saying to State: “We disagree with your classification process/criteria” and the State Department is saying, “Fuck off, this is our turf.”

So, Pulitzers all around, and throw that uppity witch in jail. In a separate interview, Eichenwald mentioned that one of the Times reporters on the story has a reputation as a hype artist, and had bungled a non-political 2009 story, an event that seemingly did not stick in the NY Times institutional memory. The paper appears happy to employ and promote witless morons.

While a whole bunch of commentators are deriding the Times, and calling for accountability, the Times is shrugging it off. It even reasserted how proud it is of its “aggressive”, if factually inaccurate, faked up political reporting. Critics are just jellus.

I just put this here for anyone wondering why the sports and entertainment media is blithe about telling us whatever Scott and Tessa want said about them, or for anyone insisting that the media would blow Scott and Tessa's cover if they were lying. There’s no accountability at the presumptive highest level of journalism, and there certainly is none among the bottom feeders (sports, entertainment and all soft “news” programs) and talking heads.

The title of the document upon which the Times story purported to be based, a public document as easily obtained as a press release, was "Potential Issues Identified by the Office of the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community Concerning the Department of State’s Process for the Review of Former Secretary Clinton’s Emails under the Freedom of Information Act (ESP-15-05).” This was somehow interpreted by the Times and its source(s) as: “Office of the Inspector General Hereby Makes a Criminal Referral into the Actions of Hillary Clinton vis a vis her Emails while Secretary of State.”

This happened because neither the reporters, nor the individual widely believed to be their source:

Draco Malfoy*
had seen or read the easily obtained document that formed the basis of the Times’ blockbuster scoop.

That’s a lot here above in this post about stuff that’s not directly related to Tessa and Scott. It relates to media accountability at what some consider the highest level. As we can see, when tested, there isn’t any. Write what you want. Lie your face off. I think the cultural change over the past decade is the media no longer even pays lip service to what the consumer thinks. They’re sort of flaunting the fact that credibility is a non-issue, because "we" don’t factor into their process. I think a lot of those in media are having a sustained tantrum over the reality that, vis a vis social media, the public has a direct voice, and that fact has made “legit” media hostile to the public. One of the reasons the blog started in the first place was to reassert that the public has a voice through social media, and social media doesn’t have a hierarchy. Virtue and Moir were using social media as a one-way street. “We’re the celebrities, we tell you what’s true, you shut up and pretend to believe it, while we entertain ourselves mocking you for believing it.” IOW, “we’re somebody, y’all are nobody.” When the blog began, it was because I didn’t see any reason why skating fans shouldn’t join the members of the public that push back on assumptions like that one.

Today, journalism is just a job to leverage the “journalist” into celebrity. That’s the agenda behind the decisions made by many many people in media. It has nothing to do with delivering information, or even (setting the bar low) accurately promoting something. The only thing most journalists are interested in promoting is themselves. Don’t get in the way, public.

******

I did my monthly twitter review and found nothing of interest, except that Tessa and Scott continue to spend way more time together on non-skating appearances than that other famously compatible platonic pair, Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto managed post Vancouver. If there are more freeze-frame style canoodling instagram images of Kaitlyn and Scott, I can’t wait to see them.**

I looked at some of Tessa and Scott’s promotion rounds on youtube, including their downright painfully stale TEDxyouth appearance last spring. Awkward, recycled, zero points for effort, with a side of cattiness and pandering bitchery. Kudos to the young Toronto audience for its palpable collective uncertainty, and for the "This is really WTF, but I don’t want to be impolite” ambience with which it received Scott and Tessa’s nuggets of self-referential wisdom (arcane “wisdom” applicable only to Scott and Tessa if the content of Scott and Tessa's remarks were true, but as it’s lies and backstabbing, it's applicable to nobody). I don’t understand how Scott can recite the same lies for going on the second decade, zero variation, yet at one point lose his place and train of thought while he fumbles his index cards. His tells used to be endearing, now I think they’re calculated. “I hate lying so much, I get clumsy and conspicuously uncomfortable when I do it.”  Except it’s bullshit.



Tessa and Scott use the TEDxyouth talk (from the TEDxYouth website: “TEDxYouth events are fun, imaginative, and smart TEDx events designed for, and often organized by, young people. They bring ideas worth spreading to all ages.”) to recycle stale circa 2010 fake biography talking points, including Tessa’s fan fiction about the compartment syndrome rift, and much cattiness and side eye about Canton. Throughout, Tessa’s voice quavered and Scott fidgeted. Tessa continued her nervous habit of smiling while catty, which I think made the audience uncomfortable. Virtue and Moir did basically nothing to help the audience go from micro (Tessa and Scott's particular experience) to macro (takeaways the audience could apply to their own challenges). They were lazy.

According to Tessa, when they trained in Waterloo, they were enveloped in support and warmth, an environment which helped them sustain some normalcy, such as going to an actual school in a real building. But when exiled in the United States among a bunch of Russians and Americans, things sure changed. They were forced to take classes on line. Michigan didn’t allow them to physically attend school in an actual building. This had nothing to do with the schedule of a couple of elite, high performance athletes training for Olympic competition, and everything to do with Michigan’s hostile environment towards soft-hearted Canadians. The coaches were inapproachable, cold bitches, Scott and Tessa were separately forced to room with high strung competitor skaters out to get them. They had to sleep with one eye open. There were no responsible adults in sight. 

I know some of us were under the impression, based on what, I’m certainly not sure, that Kate Virtue moved first to Waterloo, and then to Michigan, to room with her vulnerable daughter, and were further under the impression that Kate Virtue publicized this after Vancouver so that none of us could speculate that Scott Moir ever had the slightest opportunity to take Tessa’s virginity.

Apart from “Try to adapt, as we did, if, during your training for the ice dance Olympics, your partner develops compartment syndrome”, and “Be glad you’re Canadian, because the US is full of nasty, backstabbing Americans and cold, inapproachable Russians who might pretend to support your goals but will undermine them at every step.” – there wasn’t much of the typical TED talk: “Here is my specific experience, and now let me pull back, open the aperture, develop context, cite other people’s experience, reference research, and draw connections in a way that you could apply to your own life/goals”. Tessa and Scott’s TED talk reaffirms that they have a very shaky concept of “others". At their most low-maintenance, well-groomed and polite, they still think it’s about their story. Them. Even in a TED talk, it’s not about finding ways (you know, giving some real thought to the experience of other people) for their story to reach out and help people with their own challenges. 

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.