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.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

First of two posts. The second post isn’t fully worked out, but I think is going to focus on last month's Angelika Krylova interview, with a particular emphasis on Meryl Davis’ superior talents in the realm of figure skating and ice dance, which Krylova had no problem whatsoever enumerating. I may also remark on Meryl Davis’s implied hot romance with Fedor Andreev, and how this doesn’t do her fans’ near-unquenchable need for validation any favors.

The just-concluded holiday season has been, for the blogger, about two weeks’ worth of holiday celebrations/busyness, and one week procrastination. I didn’t really want to know or think about if Virtue and Moir, a couple of mid/late twentysomethings, apparently retired ice-dancers, continued to feel the need to make a display of self-importance via shamming on social media during Christmas and New Year’s, so I avoided finding out. I also didn’t want to pollute the holidays with second-hand embarrassment, even though anybody following Virtue and Moir should be real comfortable with second-hand embarrassment by now.

Every day she's shoveling all right.
I don’t know what’s going to be sadder – when the latest crop of Virtue Moir fans, in, say, 2029, wonder if these two fortysomethings regret never having gotten it together, sharing fan fic about Tessa and Scott’s wistful conversations about what might have been, or Virtue and Moir still pretending to themselves, enabled by the sycophants who appear to surround every figure skater, that shamming is necessary.

Caveat, for what follows: this isn’t focused on skating women in social media to the exclusion of men. It’s just that in some respects, what I’m talking about next is kind of what a gossip columnist once said about the cast of Friends: as the show went on, the actresses on it got skinner and tanner, their hair got longer and straighter, and the dudes just got fatter and more slovenly. The particulars of Tessa’s social media image manipulations got me thinking along these lines.

When I look around at guys who were competing ten years ago, some of whom are now coaching, a number of them have gotten pretty comfortable wearing relaxed-fit pants and jackets. I look at women who were competing more recently, or are still competing, but have been at it a long time, and some of them, no matter how free-spirited they pretend to be, have become even more image-conscious.

So, speaking of second-hand embarrassment, Jessica Dube is now posing like this:


Sunday, December 14, 2014

New canadablue videos from the Grand Prix series below, and here.

I'm throwing in this prediction right at the top: in 2015-2016 Weaver and Poje will be dropped faster than Cappellini and Lanotte. This season's scores and titles were/are checkmarks on ice dance's To Do list, and done.

As ice dance judging continues to be unfair, disgusting, and depressing (the Shibs! That was heartbreaking.), and thus upsetting, I thought this "feet only" video post might benefit from comic relief:

Sinitsina / Katsalapov, Rostelcom Cup (full length)



If you watch the feet-only version, the actual skating doesn't become truly dire until after the lift collapses, whereupon you start worrying he's going to slice her shins to ribbons. Full body also shows Nikita skating with an ass jut that makes Dmitri Soloviev's look clenched.

Now Sinitsina & Katsalapov feet only, where you can watch the skates instead of his ass (in a bad way), his facial expressions, and his wildly swinging arms.



And here is Chock and Bates's brilliant winning skate at Rostelcom, feet only:



The lifts in particular. I don't know what these Chock and Bates lifts got at the GPF but the GOE must have been spectacular. Shpilband, he's like a lift magician.

Friday, December 12, 2014

My puking sounds were real

Per her twitter, Tessa's "Finally watching our W network show."*
Wait til you see the part with your husband's fake girlfriend.
A later post is going to use canadablue's videos, but for the moment:

Left hand stapled to her chest seeing as the left
side of Tessa's torso has been amputed
I think her photoshopping friend is just trolling at this point.

 
Speaking of puking sounds, guess what got a couple of 10s today in the Grand Prix Final short dance?



10! Let's have another one. 10!
On the video I watched, the fall happened at 3:11 and they just hung around and walked into their final pose at 3:18. Seven seconds of program in the toilet, why even mention the out of synch twizzles, lackluster lift, and lack of ice coverage, and they were immediately placed ahead of this:



It's that fantastic element GOE Chock and Bates deliver.

More later.
__________________________
*First it was a documentary. Then a reality show. Now just a show. Next it'll be: "Our acting debut!"

Friday, December 5, 2014

Hoping for schadenfreude

The ice dance results in the Grand Prix series were so egregious it seems (almost) pointless to do more than acknowledge this, while moving on to national championships and worlds. It was demoralizing to watch strong skates vis a vis numerous slow, "meh" skates as they were competed, knowing the irrelevance of performance to the outcome.We'll see how it shakes down in the Grand Prix Final for the teams that were gifted with a berth, and by that I mean, which teams are in favour enough to stand on the second and third tiers of the podium.We all know it's in the bag for Papadakis and Cizeron. Prior to TEB, P.J. Kwong demonstrated that, unlike last season, not everybody following figure skating got this season's memo: 
This is a dance team that has been slowly improving under the radar. I like what I saw in Barrie in October and they followed it up with a win against world champions Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte at their first Grand Prix. I wouldn’t have thought necessarily they would qualify for the Grand Prix Final if you had asked me in September. This weekend will tell the tale.
Wait - Papadakis and Cizeron are not the second coming of Virtue Moir, only better? P.J., what have you been doing, looking at the skating? You know better. Last season, you proactively lectured others not to do that. Don't be a hypocrite.

Grand Prix Final?! Grand Prix and World gold. A notch below them will be Weaver Poje, then we'll see which of Chock Bates or Gilles Poirier round things out. Poirier is the only good skater of the four - will that count, or is the ISU all about the big tent?

The scoring this season so far is nearly as revolting as it was last season, with the sole mitigating factor that last season, the greatest ice dancers of all time, who delivered the greatest set of competitive performances of all time, when it counted, in the Grand Prix Final and the Olympics, were fucked over for one of the worst teams of figure skaters, let alone ice dancers, to stand atop any podium anywhere. So bad that the guy on the gold medal-wearing team ducked the question of whether he knew he'd skated a gold medal-winning performance, drawing our attention instead to the real reason they got gold handed to them, namely, the many people who were promised a return on their investment.

This year, it's merely a bunch of wonderful ice dancers really doing it getting thrown under the bus so skaters wheeled around the ice by their partners can dominate. It's merely stuff like Tanith Belbin inaccurately throwing shade at Alexandra Paul for getting dragged around by her partner. Setting Tanith's Charlie Meryl hypocrisy aside, that was pretty rich coming from Ben Agosto's human travel blanky.*

P&C are this season's golden children. P.J. needs to get on board.

May I be amazing at you

There's going to be a more skating-focused post tonight.


Tessa's tweets often make me think of Tina Fey's memoir, Bossypants, recounting the ways people comment on the scar she acquired at age five, when someone slashed her chin: "'It's so beautiful.' Ugh. Disgusting. They might as well walk up and say, 'May I be amazing at you?'"

And sometimes Tessa's tweets make me feel as if I've accidentally subscribed to a self-selecting, trust-funded, real-world sheltered, sorority sisters' twitter feed, oblivious to the fact that its conversations are visible to the public.

John, the 77 year-old golden-ager value add on Tessa's plane ride. I imagine she's going to steer clear of "from the mouths of babes" anecdotes, but she can still meet unconventional looking people and report how real beauty comes from within.

That's the sort of elite-level, albeit inane, fortune cookie tone she produces, offsetting the purpose of her social media presence, which is her continuously schizophrenic image output:


Jennifer Lawrence wouldn't sneer at those boobs.
Look at those hips! Tessa's an hourglass and has
had shoulder reduction surgery as well. I think
that last was a bad move on her part.
Scott, OTOH, it can't be denied any longer

that that's a whole bunch of summers worth of
"summer weight gain."
Luckily, these two
can gain and, more importantly, drop, 20-30 pounds
and back again with the click of a mouse.
And despite how .. substantial.. the two of them
appear in this image, the background, as is their
custom of the past few months, is skewed and tilted.
and promotional material:


I think we all know to expect increased image consistency in 2015, once the transitional phase is over.

With Virtue and Moir, I'm really looking towards the 2015-2016 season. If they don't compete, one wonders why a couple of married, retired figures skaters with a couple of kids, entering their late twenties, still finds it legitimately necessary, after more than a decade, to conceal their basic status from those incredibly rabid, overly invested, thirty-nine or so uber fans online, and from what these fans might say, think and do, that they don't do now, if the truth were acknowledged. What could happen? These fans might actually think stuff for five minutes before moving onto the next thing. Scott and Tessa would control the version of the truth that came out, including a lying version of the truth, and control any questions asked, including no questions at all. No problem. Maybe the reason is that there's yet another Olympics coming in 2018. And one after that! And after that! Best officially stay in the closet ... forever. Or maybe the exclusive club factor would dissipate, and they do seem to enjoy life in the bubble, along with all their friends, the Canadian media, other people with the same lifestyle - you know, the bubble full of people worth respecting, as opposed to those outside. It's not as much fun if there's nobody outside not (officially) knowing what you know.

Scott and Tessa have roped in what sometimes feels like most of Canada's tiny media/public relations community, its various affiliations, and all of its figure skaters, as collaborators. After the year that's passed, perhaps they want to protect their friends in the media who wouldn't want it demonstrated that, in addition to sucking up to Jian Ghomeshi for years despite believing he's an abusive creep, they all aggressively, downright gaslighted the public into buying into a married team of skaters as a single and dating others team of skaters, to the benefit of the sport of figure skating, which is already bursting at the seams with credibility.

Scott and Tessa have certainly shown themselves huge fans of figure skating so far this season, what with his promotion of curling, her "school > skating", their incredible team spirit during the Grand Prix Series, and only noticing figure skating when they want us, the targets of their lies, to pay to come see them get paid. That's all both figure skating - and us - are worth.