Friday, February 18, 2011

Strawberries? Cream?

For somebody like me (i.e. an over-entitled American whiner), of the most challenging things about the 2012 London Olympics is that I can read all of the news about it, but actually understanding it is a completely different matter.

This is especially disturbing because I always thought of myself as somewhat of an anglophile. I routinely misspell traveling with two ls because I read so much British humour. (SEE? DO YOU SEE?) Terry Pratchett is my favorite author. I can do a reasonable BBC accent. I know what stiff upper lip means, I know that in England you gob instead of spitting, that people are gits instead of jerks, that you shouldn't use the term fanny in polite company.

But cor, blimey if I can't figure out what some of these news stories are trying to say. For instance: London 2012 to have strawberries and cream factor.

Strawberries and cream factor?


 London 2012: Sure to be delicious!

The article completely fails to elucidate what in the bloody hell they mean by that. This is as close as they get: "The London 2012 Olympics will have the feel of an English summer event, organisers said Thursday, bringing the strawberries and cream flavour and the open-air festival spirit to the Games."

Oh really? So... everything is going to be flavored of strawberries and cream? Are they taking their design cues from Willy Wonka?
"So when it came to London, the team said: 'What is quintessentially London, what is quintessentially English?' That's the sort of experience we're trying to drive through," he told AFP.
"It's actually a very simple model. It's park, garden, enjoyment, relaxation.
"All of those things speak to having a lot more fun in the Olympics," he said, otherwise "it won't have that fizz".

So, to our English readers, I implore you to help me out here. What the bleedin' 'ell could this possibly mean?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Russia gave us something beautiful.

Remember that facebook album with all of the pictures of the possible mascots for the Sochi 2014 games? Well, they apparently left one out.

His name is Zoich, and he was created by Russian cartoonist zhgun. I think you'll agree: he is PERFECT:

The text says something like "The committee didn't choose him, but all the same he's better." AGREED.

 You have no idea how excited I am by this. I don't understand ANYTHING in that video, but still I think it's amazing.

 Sochi is choosing their mascot(s) slightly differently than usual. Instead of hiring a boring design firm to make a hideous excuse for a mascot out of thin air (I'm looking at YOU International Mascot Corporation).

From their website:

On September 1, 2010 the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee opened the Russian national competition to design a Mascot, for the Sochi Games. The competition remained open for three months, during which time anyone wishing to get involved could send in their own mascot suggestion (or even several suggestions), take a look at other participants’ suggestions and give their evaluation of others’ sketched designs.
By the time the competition stopped accepting entries (on December 5, 2010), over 24,000 sketches had been sent in to the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee. Entries could be sent in either via the Internet or by post. More than a million people followed the competition online, and each week we received over a thousand new entries.
The Sochi 2014 Partners were all fully supportive of the competition, helping to communicate news about it to the public. Application forms were made available in all of BoscoSPORT’s branches, all of Rosneft’s automobile repair centres, all of Volkswagen Group Rus’s showrooms and in every single MegaFon sales office. The Ingosstrakh insurance company mobilized 323 of its company offices in Russian to disseminate information about the mascot competition, and distributed around 30,000 application forms. Russian Railways gave all passengers on board its Sapsan trains the chance to draw a sketch of their proposed mascot while in transit. Meanwhile, Aeroflot arranged for its flight attendants to hand out application forms to passengers flying between Moscow and Sochi. Sberbank of Russia played an active role in keeping the public informed about the competition, through its corporate literature. And MegaFon even lent its support to a series of television programs entitled “The Star Mascot”, broadcast on the MuzTV channel. The Coca-Cola Company arranged special zone for the guests of Black Sea Day celebration in Sochi in October 2010. At the celebration every guest had a chance to participate in the Contest and propose their Sochi 2014 Mascot.
People from all over the country took part in the mascot ideas competition. All of Russia’s regions, from Kaliningrad to Khabarovsk, participated in it. The top three regions, in terms of participation, were: The Central, North-Western and Privolzhsky Federal Regions. The opinions of Russian citizens living abroad were also taken into consideration. There was no age limit to participation in the competition.
The results of the first round of the poll to select mascots for the Olympic and Paralympic Games were announced by an expert judging panel, which boasted famous names from the fields of culture, education, sport, business and politics. The competition’s judging panel was headed by Director General of the Channel One Russia, Konstantin Ernst.
Yeah. So basically, that "panel of experts," did something other than stab their eyes out after reviewing 30,000 sketches from the general public. They actually decided that your friend and mine, the beautiful and perfect Zoich, was unfit to compete. AND WHO ARE THEY TO JUDGE??? Oh, right. An expert judging panel, with famous people from the fields of culture, education, sport, business, and politics. Silly of me to ask, really.

Also, let me give you a word on what I think Zoich is. I think he's a take on Futurama's hypnotoad. You see, Futurama had the hynotoad as a recurr-- ALL GLORY TO THE HYPNOTOAD

Special thanks to Russia Travel Log for making this amazing.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


They are the unknowns: we don't know their names, we don't know their backstories, we don't know where they came from, we don't even know what deeper meaning they are supposed to represent! But we do know that one of the mascots from this facebook album will be the mascot for Sochi 2014. Oh. My. Goodness. I am so excited.

So we don't know anything about them except that this one looks like Santa, this one is apparently a whale...? who skis? and this one is the most hideous thing I've ever seen in my life.

Currently, this is in the lead for Facebook likes. And if that's the way we're deciding this year, more power to the cloud!

I want to know his or her name! I want to wear his or her scarf!

Is the IOC becoming more savvy when it comes to social media? Probably. It's hard to think of an organization that isn't at least a little bit more savvy about social media than the IOC back pre-Beijing, including the current IOC.

What they still haven't improved on is transparency. How is this decision going to be made? Are the facebook likes and tweets going to be taken into account? Are they just going to go for the one that can sell the most plushies? We have no way of knowing.

This guy, though. He knows. After all, he's gone through it once before. It's basically Misha from 1980! And he's waving hello! Hello Misha!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Awesome photo alert!!


This photo is brought to you courtesy of the new Mount Olympics twitter account (OMG I KNOW)! It features Ele Opeloge of Samoa being a complete and total phenomenon while competing in the women's +75kg group A weightlifting event on August 16, 2008 in Beijing, China. 

Photo credit: Jed Jacobsohn, Getty Images, retrieved off the IOC's Flikr.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sponsorship isn't usually this awesome

Back in the halcyon days of yore, I promised you all a series called "Follow the Money" where we investigated the Olympic sponsorship model and poked fun at things like this:

This is happening.

Or possibly this entire paragraph
With a Chicken McNugget in one hand and his ski poles in the other, U.S. ski team member and defending moguls world champion Patrick Deneen answered the question, "How do you McNugget?" for an upcoming television ad showcasing McDonald's sponsorship as the official restaurant of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. With a broad smile, Deneen dipped his McNugget in one of the restaurant's signature sauces before launching into the powdery snow surrounding him.


But today I want to talk about a sponsor that is so so SO much cooler than McDonald's. It was just announced that Otto Bock will be a sponsor for the 2012 Paralympic Games. AWESOME.

Otto Bock is awesome in many ways, including its amazing building. Here, look:


You see, Otto Bock does something a lot more awesome than processing Chicken McNuggets. Otto Bock is a premier prosthetics company, perhaps the best in the world. 

In sponsoring, they will be charged with keeping the equipment on which Paralympians rely in good working order. When they sponsored the 2008 Beijing Paralympics, they did 2,188 repairs for the 4,000 athletes. Amazing! It's like they're a coach, medic, and mechanic all in one!

A sponsorship deal like this is like the best seamstress in the world agreeing to both sponsor and fix Superman's cape. Or like being the pit crew for the best athletes in the world. It's a phenomenal setup. 

This image is from a blog called Hipster Nascar about biking. You should totally check it out.