Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Kiss

The teasers did advertise it as the "kiss heard around the world". Well, the fact that the sound crew did little for that scene but just keep still and quiet meant that this was an important development. "New Girl" has always been one of my must-see TV shows, and the chemistry between Jess and Nick has always been palpable ever since the Thanksgiving episode in season one.

I wasn't really sure if I like the idea of letting them kiss this early in the show. But I'm interested to see how this all pans out. I know there will be consequences, and that should make for plenty of comedy.

I wonder how many takes that scene took? And whether Nick going for another one was planned? I'd like to think of Jake as being in the moment and kissed Zooey again. It certainly sold the scene for me. That was HOT.

Clearly Nick and Jess are the endgame here. But I can't help but feel might bad for Sam and his inner dork. I really really like him, and think he's way cool and well suited for this band of crazies. If there was a way to have Sam and Jess break up but still give Sam a reason to hang around, that would be ideal. I mean, Cece does it when she's no longer with Schmidt, so weirder things have happened. (This always happens to me; as soon as I get invested in someone's TV love interest, they break up. See: Josh from "The Mindy Project".)

Anyway, glad "New Girl" is keeping things moving at least. And good for them for dominating last night's ratings.

Also? Winston finally gets a girl. About damn time!


Sunday, January 20, 2013

It's Not About the Bike Anymore

Lance Armstrong is a jerk and a bully. He said so himself Thursday night in an interview with Oprah Winfrey. And I believed him. I personally knew athletes, and I know how terribly disciplined they can be. They need to train, to be on a strict diet, to follow a schedule for months on end. They are sometimes not the happiest campers on earth. Lance Armstrong was telling the truth about himself being a jerk and a bully.

He is also a cancer survivor. It's a story that's resonated with the general public. It's difficult not to know someone who hasn't been touched by cancer, whether as a patient or a family member/friend. His survival story is legendary, and inspiring. That he really did beat cancer I can believe. And it says something about his fighter spirit. I'll bet he thought that if he can bully the disease into remission, then he can bully his way into anything. Including another shot at the Tour de France.

Which he did. Seven times. While his desire to win was channeled into something healthy, his transformation from patient to athlete showed aggression and a ruthlessness that fed into the doping culture of the sport. Like he said on Thursday, he didn't do anything to stop it. And he did all he could to surround himself with a culture-friendly and -savvy retinue.

The backlash will be enormous. He has already pinned a dollar figure to his losses ($75 million in just days after the USADA report went out). He has admitted to going to therapy, and reaching out to those people he tried to ruin when they spoke up against him. He has already felt the shame and humility of admitting the truth to his children. In that moment, as he struggled to speak on television, one can't help but be consciously aware of the burden these children are operating under. And that there was nothing more Armstrong can do but to tell them to stop defending him anymore.

He admitted that stepping down from the foundation was the most humbling thing for him to do. But no one can deny that it was the right thing for him to do. However, the foundation has done more than just raise awareness for cancer. It became a social network of folks touched by cancer. It's become bigger than Lance Armstrong himself. Those Livestrong bracelets are his legacy. The millions of dollars it has raised for many years will go on to contribute much to cancer research. That legacy is nothing to be sneezed at. And this is why Lance Armstrong, for all his flaws, will continue to be relevant. Maybe not within the sporting world, but he will stand for something else greater than all his yellow jerseys combined. Some people have criticized that Armstrong keeps hiding behind his cancer story. By golly, if you had beaten stage 3 cancer, you would have celebrated it as well. His cancer story is out there for everyone to see, and it is the believable truth that he does not have to hide from. That it took him only two years to get back into fighting, cycling shape was remarkable as well. Everything about his cancer story, right up to the point when he started doping, is something that needs to be told.

The fact that Armstrong was able to redefine himself post-cancer was a phenomenal feat in itself. To millions, he is an inspirational public figure. A dedicated athlete who was also a philanthropist and cancer warrior. It's as his book title shows, he's not about the bike anymore. The fact that he admitted to the drug use and the bullying will not stop people from still seeing him as someone to aspire to. He may feel enormous shame, and he will feel vulnerable after all those therapy sessions will have made their "tectonic shifts" on his psyche. But I think he will raise up the fighter in him to go on with his life.

I have no doubt in my mind that the conversation that Lance Armstrong started will continue. And it could even happen that Lance Armstrong himself will no longer figure into the debate. But the legacy that he has started, with his foundation and his yellow bracelets, will go on. Lance himself will live on. And live strong.

Postscript - Of all the articles I've read about Armstrong in the past few months, I was most impressed by this Grantland article by Wesley Morris.

I even managed to crib from the ending of his article. He has a personal stake in Armstrong's legacy, however. As do millions, I would imagine.