Saturday, July 31, 2010

Get Inspired

Quiet day in Atlanta, except for the thunder. This afternoon in Midtown there were lighting strikes like those in "War of the Worlds," plus torrential rain. Great day for catching up on emails.

One inbox message unlocked some inspiration: A note from an old friend who now lives in Denver.

I first meet Tricia Downing while we interned at the U.S. Olympic Training Center during the summer of 1995. For three months we lived, with about a dozen other interns, in the former military barracks on the southeast corner of the USOTC (steps away from the nation's best athletes-in-training for Atlanta 1996, and in the other direction just a few blocks from "The Jock's Trap" bar).

Tricia, the other interns and I worked hard that summer. Fortunately, one of the perks of living at the USOTC was free access to the dining hall. And except for a couple of intern excursions or crossing paths in the dorms, visiting over meals was the main time Tricia and I got to chat.

Five years later, got a call that Tricia was involved in a terrible cycling accident, leaving her paralyzed from the chest down by a driver making an improper turn. Fortunately, a few years later on her visit to Georgia, a mini-reunion for four of us former interns proved that Tricia persevered through the terrible challenges she faced at age 32.

Today's email announced Trish recently completed a published book telling her story. I ordered a copy immediately after reading the first two chapters shared via her website, http://www.trishdowning.com/.

Also got some additional inspiration from this Oct. 2007 Muscle & Fitness feature on Trish.

I hope you will join me in supporting Trish by purchasing her book and looking into Redefining Able, Inc., which she founded. Go-Trish-GO!

Photo via Amazon.com

Friday, July 30, 2010

Wannabe Marine One Helicopter Buzzes Downtown Atlanta

Since a third grade "transportation unit" assignment, I have remained in awe of helicopters.

Today at my high rise desk on the 29th floor of an office building, it was amazing to see Marine One -- or at least a helicopter that would be named as such if President Obama was aboard -- buzzing over downtown Atlanta with a clear sky as its backdrop ... in flight at eye level!

Wishing my camera was handy, watching the massive "bug" one could clearly see "United States of America" emblazoned in white letters across the glossy black tail boom. The aircraft cruised into the downtown area from the east then banked north, over Centennial Olympic Park, continuing along Interstate 75 in the direction of Cobb Co. (home of Dobbins AFB).

I suspect this was a logistics flight -- getting the helicopter into place for a presidential visit elsewhere -- as there was no apparent escort aircraft. A couple of hours later another giant military helicopter buzzed downtown, destination unknown.

Would be cool to see Marine One up close. Anyone got a hook-up at the White House to help me with that?

Photo via this site
WEEKEND UPDATE AUG. 1, 2010: According to this Atlanta Journal-Constitution report by Ariel Hart, President Obama is landing at the aforementioned Dobbins AFB on Monday morning, then heading to the Hyatt tower in downtown Atlanta (via Marine One?). That would be cool to see the presidential helicopter in action again! My camera will be ready. Hail to the Chief in Chopper!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Better Know An N.O.C -- Paraguay

It's been too long since the last post of a "B.K.A.N.O.C." -- Better Know An N.O.C.

This entry is for South America's national Olympic committee for landlocked Paraguay, which is nestled amid Brazil, Argentina and Bolivia.

A few years ago I experienced Paraguay first hand, first entering from Brazil via Ciudad del Este, terrified because our taxi did not stop at the border crossing on the Paraguay side of a large arch bridge (some travel books warn that Ciudad del Este is about the least-safe city in South America). Fortunately when we finally stopped the cab and walked back to the bridge, the crossing guard laughed and instructed us to "just go back" to Brazil. Whew! We carried our backpacks while some of the locals carried parcels of goodness knows what.

At any rate, a few days later, had a more relaxed entry into Paraguay at the southern border town Encarnacion, which is a fun little metropolis. It was interesting to see an early 1900s locomotive -- a real one -- in operation (on about a quarter mile of track) on one corner of town. Our "downtown" Encarnacion hotel was $4 per night. Great food at the town square, and the sushi restaurant beside the bus depot!

But back to Paraguay's N.O.C. and Olympic connections.

Paraguay entered the Olympic Family in 1968 with a single foil Olympic fencing competitor at Mexico City, and Paraguay fielded a team at each summer Olympiad since (except 1980 as the nation joined the U.S.-led boycott of Moscow's Games). Paraguay has just one medal -- silver in the 2004 Athens football (soccer) finals against Argentina.

I won't soon forget Paraguay's track and field entrant at Athens and Beijing (and I hope London): Olympic javelin would not be the same without Paraguay's Leryn Franco hurling Paraguay's Olympic dreams across the Olympic Stadium grounds every four years.

After a night in Encarnacion, my girlfriend, her sister and I took a jalopy bus to Asuncion, which is also an interesting metropolis and home to the Paraguay Olympic Committee. Some of the friendliest people in South America are in Asuncion, and we were impressed with the historic architecture.

I'll be rooting for Paraguay at London 2012 (their team at the 2010 World Cup did well; expect good things in the U.K. competition.

Photo via this Flickr account

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Cincinatti 2024 Olympic Bid

You read it here first, folks.

Cincinnati, the Ohio metropolis that is home to the International Olympic Committee's new TOP Olympic sponsor Proctor & Gamble (P&G), is planning a bid for the 2020 or 2024 Olympic Games!

Just kidding.

But with today's announcement that P&G will share its wealth with the IOC and the U.S. Olympic Committee now through 2020, a decision by Cincinnati to dust off its 2008 and 2012 Olympic bid books would not be as much of a stretch as, say, this time yesterday.

According to P&G's press release, quoted executives from the company are "proud" and "thrilled" about the 10-year Olympic partnership (unfortunately, proud and thrilled are, in this public relations writer's opinion, two of the most overused press release executive canned quote buzzwords).

But even with (Pringles?) canned quotes, P&G is embarking on an interesting global program titled "Raising an Olympian, The P&G Momumentary Project," through which a "video series will tell the stories of Olympic hopefuls as seen through the eyes of their moms."

I like the program -- probably would have considered "Olympic MOMents" as an alternative title (maybe in creating the word "Momumentary" there was a MOMentary lapse of ... hmmm, I don't know), but I will tune in regardless.

Today's P&G and IOC press event in Manhattan included several top Olympians' mothers, which may be viewed in an online photo gallery.

Other noteworthy items from the announcement:

  • " ... due to the success seen during the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, P&G is in the early stages of evaluating plans to host a family home facility at the London 2012 Olympic Games for all U.S. athletes, similar to the one in Vancouver at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. The P&G Family Home was a place where all U.S. athletes and their families could relax, do laundry, entertain their children, and participate in other family activities.

  • "For P&G, [the sponsorship] is about partnering with the IOC to make life better for athletes, moms and their families as we take the Olympic Movement to our four billion consumers around the world that our brands already serve.

  • "P&G will continue helping athletes, moms and families immediately. As part of the 'Proud Sponsor of Moms' campaign, the company will continue its 'Thank You Mom' program in conjunction with the IOC's inaugural Youth Olympic Games to be held in Singapore from Aug. 14-26, 2010.

  • "P&G will help up to 25 moms of Youth Olympic athletes from around the world, including three mothers of U.S. athletes, with their travel and lodging costs so they can be in Singapore with their children as they compete." (NOTE to P&G P.R.: If you are sponsoring either of the moms from Edmond, Okla., with YOG athletes heading to Singapore, email me for my news reports, in progress, on these two Oklahoma athletes)

P&G began as a candle manufacturer in the 1800s, so one may ponder ... did IOC founder Baron Pierre de Coubertin draw some inspiration while reading by P&G candlelight in 1894?

Sadly we may never know the answer to this burning question.

The P&G and Olympic Rings illustration is a blend of images at this link and this link, respectively

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Fitness Ambassadors Bound For London 2012

With today's two-year countdown to London 2012, my inbox contained a handful of Olympic announcements, including one tied to my Edelman colleagues working with 24 Hour Fitness.

According to a U.S. Olympic Committee press release, the San Ramon, Calif.-based company is creating a U.S. Team High Performance Training Center (HPTC) in London, which will be staffed by "Fitness Ambassadors" (a.k.a. 24 Hour Fitness team members from their 420 locations).

The 2012 HPTC is now under construction at the Docklands Campus of the University of East London.

National Governing Bodies (NGBs) -- the national federations for Olympic sports in the U.S. -- also benefit from the 24 Hour Fitness NGB Incentive Program and Elite Membership program, according to the press release.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

More Olympic Acronyms Coming Soon

There's a running joke, or trend, or something (can't put finger on how the right noun) from one Olympic organizing committee (OOC) to the next.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC), U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) or other National Olympic Committees (NOCs), international federations (IFs) and even the global TOP Olympic sponsors have TMAs -- Too Many Acronyms.

According to the AP -- that's the Associated Press -- and ATR (Around The Rings), two more acronyms are signing up for five-ringed status this week: BMW and P&G.

Bayerische Motoren Werke AG was not a big surprise. After all, BMW provided hundreds of gorgeous new cars used by the NOCs staying at the Atlanta OLV (Olympic Village, where their global CEO -- chief executive officer -- presented me a sweet BMW sponsor pin).

Also, BMW's global showcase BMW Museum in Munich is nestled between the 1972 Olympic Village and Olympiapark (if you haven't seen these three sites, they are worth a round trip flight no matter where you live, and you need at least three days to see them all).

Proctor & Gamble. Well, they aren't exactly a surprise either. In Vancouver they had a broad range of engagement underway, and a lot of their product found its way onto The Colbert Report post-Games. What surprised me is their likely announcement of TOP global sponsor status so close to Dow Chemical's IOC sponsor announcement. But then, Tuesday, July 27, marks the two-years-to-London 2012 milestone, so the timing is right.

What other brands do you want to see in the OAS (Olympic Acronym Scene)?

TTYL.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Piece of Work -- Joan Rivers

Love low-key Saturdays. A couple hours shipping eBay items to buyers. A hour for laundry. Slowly reading the newspaper (rather than scanning the paper's website). AND ... time to catch a flick.

Today's pick was "Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work," the new documentary that arrived last month. Though it's doubtful this film will be up for an Oscar, it is well-made, interesting and best of all, seriously funny. The New York Times review of the film made me curious -- glad the film finally showed up in Atlanta.

I was never much of a Rivers fan. Most recollections of her work are from drivel red carpet shows for big Hollywood events. Had no idea she apparently won on "Celebrity Apprentice" (new drivel) last year. The documentary shed some good light on Rivers, outlining her rise and fall and constant ups and downs since the 1960s.

It was impressive, too, to see her floor to ceiling (and I suspect custom-built) index card file cabinet drawers crammed, card catalog-style, with thousands and thousands of hand-written or typed note cards, each with its own joke and punchline. Paraphrasing here ...
" ... When you get old, your body droops. Your boobs droop. Even your vagina droops. I woke up the other day and looked down to see I was wearing bunny slippers with gray fur."

" ... I often address my staff as, 'Hey, Staff," because I can't remember their names. The other day I said, "Hey, staff. I'm lonely. Who's gonna f*ck me tonight?"
And in describing her Manhattan high rise home, decked out much like a Donald Trump condo or Liberace set (top to bottom historic French opulence), she said,


"This is what Mary Antoinette's condo would have looked like if she were rich."

The film follows Rivers through a year of her career -- and her 75th year on earth -- including the launch of a new stage play in the U.K., her Trump show appearance, chats with her daughter and about her absent agent (the audience learns his fate), and 'a day in the life' shots with her personal assistant trying to keep her schedule full morning, noon and night.

In addition to the card file/joke archive, I was impressed with Rivers' charity work (including annual Thanksgiving Day traditions for those in need), and appalled to learn what happened to her late husband (I had no idea). After seeing some of the downs Rivers endured, it was a relief to see some successes, too, including how Rivers manhandled a heckler at a casino stand up gig in Wisconsin.

Not in the film, there's at least one Joan Rivers Olympic joke online. Here's hoping Rivers will take her show on the road again for some club or theatre gigs -- she would likely bring down the house!

Photo via IMDB

Friday, July 23, 2010

Two Years And Counting


Tuesday marks the two-years-out milestone for London 2012. Donning my marketing cap, I wrote a guest post for Edelman's global ConsumerActionism blog, highlighting some Olympic planning that's likely underway via TOP Olympic sponsors and those who might seek to ambush market to London Olympic audiences. Hope you'll check out the post and the range of other content on the Edelman (where I work) site.

Photo via London 2012/LOCOG, an Edelman client

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Cool Event Alert!

Surfing the Atlanta event scene, tonight I found word of a potentially off-the-chart cool event set for August 7 in Atlanta.

The High Museum of Art will host the "So Real ... Surreal Soiree" to open its new exhibition "Dali: The Late Work" featuring a variety of works by Salvador Dali.

Dali is one of my all-time favorites. It's been ages since my Florida trek to St. Petersburg to see the U.S. museum dedicated to Dali's work (hint: a fantastic experience!). It will be intriguing to see how the High presents the Catalan artist to an Atlanta audience.

One detail I've searched for in the past was any possible connection Dali may have had to Spain's numerous Olympic bids, including their successful Barcelona 1992 bid (which was in play around the time Dali died). So this may be my scavenger hunt topic for the High's new exhibition -- did any of the artist's late works tie back to the Games?

Perhaps the closest-to-Olympic work by Dali I've seen is "The Hallucinogenic Torreador" -- a massive work (see photo with this post) -- at St. Petersburg. The painting has an arena theme (and so much more).

The soiree invitation mentions the event includes "a phunky photo booth, Flamenco guitarist, a jewelry trunk show, live DJ, a wearable art fashion show highlighting several Atlanta artists, face paining" and more. I suspect tapas and/or Sangria will be on the menu.

Check out all the details at the High Museum website. Hope to see you there. I'll be the one wishing I had a handle bar or Dali moustache.

Photos via High Museum and this Flickr account

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Team USA Roster for Youth Olympic Games


The roster of young Team USA competitors heading to the inaugural Youth Olympic Games (next month, in Singapore) are now published. The U.S. Olympic Committee released the athlete roster on Friday.

As an Atlanta resident, I was happy to find several Georgia athletes among the selected students. Specifically, there are Youth Olympic athletes hailing from Conyers, Dublin, Leesburg, Powder Springs and Stone Mountain, Ga.

It was surprising and cool to also find that my hometown Edmond, Okla., will be represented by two local rising stars -- one in volleyball, the other in track (perhaps the YOG-bound Edmond high jumper is training on the Edmond Memorial High School track where I failed to clear a single high jump bar in the early 1990s).

Check out the USOC press release and YOG team roster online to learn the names of your hometown favorites. YOG opening ceremonies kick things off on Aug. 14.

Graphic via Sportcal

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Dow + IOC = The Right Olympic Chemistry (?)




Early last week an invitation arrived for the International Olympic Committee press conference to announce a new TOP Olympic sponsor.

Colleagues and I placed our bets on a range of current sponsors expanding their Olympic support from domestic to global reach, but none of us bet on Dow, the massive chemical conglomerate, as the new IOC partner (even though the Associated Press apparently broke this news a month or so ago).

Dow is an interesting addition to the Olympic family. According to the company backgrounder released at Friday's press conference, Dow first got involved with the 1980 Winter Olympic Games at Lake Placid, and they've contributed on again off again at most Olympic Games since (most recently at Vancouver).

Absent from the press materials is mention of chemistry as it relates to doping in sports -- got to wonder the extent to which Dow's chemical expertise will be put to use to combat use of banned, performance-enhancing drugs through new or evolving detection methods, and how the Dow P.R. team will leverage Dow's expertise in this regard.

Overall, appears to be good chemistry.

Photo and logo via Dow

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Olympic Swimmer Jenny Thompson Fights the Good Fight

Just read in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Olympic gold medalist Jenny Thompson fought off some alleged teen attackers who pulled up behind her in traffic (Thompson was driving a scooter) and tried to steal her ride.

Glad to see Thompson fought back and the would-be thieves instead took a ride to the clinker. Hello, they must not have seen her matching 'guns' (check out those Olympic swimming arms!).
Thompson may now add "scooter defense" to her great resume of achievement.


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