Make It Happen

The shadow of your smile

When you have gone

Will color all my dreams

And light the dawn

 

Look into my eyes my love, and see

All the lovely things, you are, to me

 

Our wistful little star

It was far, too high

A teardrop kissed your lips

And so, so did I

 

Now when I remember spring

And every little lovely thing

I will be remembering

The shadow of your smile

Your lovely smile

Some dear friends of mine are quite disconsolate over the chance that the New York Mets Apple won’t be making the trip from Shea to the new stadium. They’ve taken their pleas to the streets, in the form of an online petition, over at www.savetheapple.com and all Mets fans who have ever exulted at the majestic sight of the apple rising from it’s top hat should head over there immediately.

While it can be correctly pointed out that I have no affection for the Mets, I do care greatly for the preservation of certain traditions. This trait has been ingrained upon me from years of going to Wrigley Field. I understand the need for new stadiums, especially one as woeful as Shea. But there are certain aspects of every ballpark that are dear to the hometown faithful. Some of these (Ronnie “Woo Woo” Wickers) can’t be held forever, but the apple can be transferred. It’s delighted fans young and old and I don’t understand why there is even a sliver of doubt about it’s survival. I’d go on, but the case is made far better at SaveTheApple. One day the apple will fall, but it will not be this day! Today the fight begins!

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Published in: on July 31, 2007 at 4:25 pm  Comments (1)  

The vast, horrifying power of the internet

Yesterday I received a couple of emails alerting me to an article published in the Washington Post. The article is about Allison Stokke, the sensation that has been tearing up the internet for the past month or so. Having already written a post in the immediate aftermath of my exposure to the withleather.com post that the article mentions, I must say the article caused me to have a pang of remorse. I felt kind of bad for her; she’s just a kid. She didn’t ask for all this attention. She’s not a random internet babe trying to make money off her looks, she just wants to pole vault and graduate high school. By all accounts, she’s a well adjusted, normal girl who’s justifiably freaked out about all the attention she’s been getting. Eli Saslow, who wrote the article for the Washington Post, chronicles her discomfort with suddenly being a celebrity who gets stared at when she goes out for coffee. (I’m sure getting stared at is nothing new for her, but when the starer is a stranger who knows your name and where you go to high school I’d imagine it’s a lot creepier.) It’s not fair to her and it’s obscuring her other talents.

 

It also occurred to me that this is pretty much a worst case scenario for a dad. Thousands and thousands of dudes looking at your daughter, searching for more info about her, I mean c’mon! I’d have an anger induced heart attack. Stop looking at her! Happily, I am not a father and have no daughters, hot pole vaulters or otherwise. But I feel for the guy. The article seems to imply that, as a defense attorney, her father is better equipped to deal with this situation than most. But really, what can he do? The pictures are out there, there’s no getting them back. I’m pretty sure even a defense attorney would have a hard time suing a guy for looking at a non-pornographic picture of a girl of legal age on his computer. He’d actually be better equipped to deal with this if he were, for example, a Marine sharpshooter or a champion ultimate fighter. You don’t mess with a girl when her dad’s a sniper. That’s just one of the lessons every guy learns growing up. I know I did.

 

The article, however, stops short of condemning the internet and Matt Ufford, author of withleather. Normally in this situation the blogger that gets trotted out is worked like a speedbag with heavy handed calls for morality and decorum. It’s to Saslow’s credit that he avoids this. One of his conclusions, as best as I can figure, is that there’s not really anything she can do to stop the internet from leering at her, so long as the leering remains legal. I happen to agree, despite the strain it puts on Ms. Stokke (through no fault of her own), that you can’t really blame the internet for something like this. You don’t blame a wolf when it hunts and you don’t blame a bomb when it explodes. Likewise, when pictures of a smoking hot athlete make the internet rounds that’s just the internet doing what it was made to do. Luckily for her, things change quickly in internet time and soon there’ll be something new delighting us all. The internet is a terrible machina, constantly requiring new grist to grind away at. While I feel bad for her, there’s very little that one person can do against the internet, especially in a case like this where the question is of taste and not of legality. You’d have an easier time turning back the tide than getting the internet to exhibit good taste.

 

In other news, I’d quickly like to make a birthday shoutout to my homegirl over at Make It, the coolest blogger around. I was going to refer to her as my “bottom bitch blogger” but, having just written an article about the lack of good taste and restraint on the internet, I decided that I’d go with something a little more neutral. In either event, I hope RiffeRaff has an awesome birthday, filled with adorable cakes and delightful presents.

Published in: on May 30, 2007 at 6:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Star Is Born

Like most little kids, I paid too much attention to sports. Unlike most kids, however, my father had more than a passing interest in track and field, being a former hurdler. I can remember my dad sitting back on a summer afternoon and relaxing while waiting for the 4x100m relay to happen. His utter amazement when Mike Powell broke Bob Beamon‘s long jump record. And while I was always more for football or basketball I was acquainted with the personalities of the track and field universe. I knew that when it came to pole vaulting only one name mattered, Sergei Bubka. Between Pa and the George Michael’s Sports Machine, which provided breathless updates on basically every type of competition imaginable, I was able to follow the legendary Sergei Bubka from half a world away. (And as a quick aside, no one did a better highlight montage. Sportscenter’s Top Ten and Ultimate Highlight have nothing, and I repeat NOTHING, on the GMSM Plays of the Month. I used to stay up late on Sunday, waiting for George Michael to take me “around the world of sports, with our Plays of the Month,” while music from the Star Wars theme played.) That Sergei Bubka could stand out to me as a nine year old only underscores just how dominant he was at the pole vault.

Statue of Sergei Bubka

He broke his own record for an outdoor vault 17 times. Vaulting first at the age of 10, by 15 he had moved to Donetsk, Ukraine, where the statue above is located, in order to train full time. From May to August 1991 he raised his best (and world record) four times. Sergei co-developed and mastered the Petrov/Bubka technical model of pole vaulting. I don’t know a whole lot about previous vaulting techniques, but it seems pretty serious. Quoting Wikipedia:

He gripped the pole higher than most vaulters to get extra leverage. Bubka had great strength and could use a relatively heavier pole for his weight for generating more recoil force…The Petrov/Bubka model is superior to many others today because it allows the vaulter to continuously put energy into the pole while constantly rising towards the bar.

Heavier pole, higher grip = more recoil force. Makes sense and, as an added bonus, makes me giggle like a sixth grader. Tee hee. Bubka set his personal best in 1994 and no one has come close to challenging it. The record progression for pole vault is silly. Bubka first breaks it in 1984 and is the first to vault the previously thought impossible height of 6 meters (19 feet, 8 inches). His triumphs in 1991 came during the collapse of the Soviet Union; his August vault happening in Sweden a mere 17 days before the secession of Ukraine from the USSR. That’s focus. Blocking everything out and concentrating on being the best. By the time Bubka retired and served a term in the Ukrainian Parliament, he was the greatest vaulter alive and widely acknowledged as the greatest of all time. He’s now the president of the National Olympic Council in Ukraine.

 

Sergei Bubka

He is a man so dominant in his craft that even George Michael treated clips of his vault like they had been handed from above. That a little kid in Chicago could realize the magnitude of his accomplishments in pole vaulting. Casting such a wide shadow over the practice and the practitioners, it would take a miracle for another pole vaulter to match his influence and his notoriety. (When was the last time you saw a non-Olympic pole vault highlight?) An uncommon mix of grace and power, someone who could captivate audiences.

 

Well, that day has come. Allow me to introduce you to the future of pole vaulting:

 

(picture via With Leather)

Her name is Allison Stokke. She’s a senior at Newport Harbor and her personal best is only a couple inches off of the girl’s high school record. With a couple years more training, who’s to say how high she could vault? She’s still young; having only turned 18 a couple months ago.

Apparently she’s already building a following, and her fans have already set up a Myspace dedicated to her. (Thanks to my friends at [Un]necessarily Angry for digging that and pictures up.) It’s hard to tell just from a few pictures, but she looks like she has great form. I think she has what it takes to capture the imaginations of track and field fans everywhere.

 

I’ll be following her career closely. And asking her to marry me. More pictures and hilariously creepy comments over at With Leather, which is where I originally ran into her. I can honestly say there hasn’t been this much fervor about pole vaulting since Bubka officially retired in 2001.

 

DAMN!

I’d say the future of pole vaulting is in good hands.

When I happened upon this yesterday my iTunes immediately began playing this song, so I thought I might as well share it, as it makes me think of Ms. Stokke and, to a much lesser extent, Sergei Bubka.

Love Unlimited – Are You Sure?

This is a track by Love Unlimited, Barry White’s female backing group in the 1970’s. It’s off their 1972 debut album, which was produced by White. It’s very restrained, as far as Barry White goes, relying more on vocal harmonizing than on the lavishly arranged strings and horns that became standard for White as the 70’s progressed. Short and sweet, without the sometimes bloated lavishness that White gravitated towards. Enjoy!

Published in: on May 9, 2007 at 5:52 pm  Comments (13)