The power of strong women.

A beautiful video of great athletes. Watch it here.

Here’s the story in The New York Times that accompanies it.

(Update: Some of the letters to the editor that followed chastised the paper for sexualizing the women in a way that would not be done if they were men. They asked: Why not just show them as the superior athletes they are, without erotic slow-mo, loose hair and makeup? Well,  letter-writers, I thought that too, for a second. Then I realized that these young women do wear makeup when they play, and it takes more than slo-mo to objectify ‘em. They don’t believe that their athleticism is diminished by looking good.)

Cyclist doping as workout.

Reading about doping by elite cyclists is almost as much of a workout as riding one of their damn bikes. There’s always a new round of accusations to get one’s heart rate jacked up:

“EPO!”

“Testosterone!”

“Human growth hormone!”

“We all do it!”

The latest aerobicism comes courtesy of  US rider Floyd Landis. (See the The New York Times piece by Julie Macur and Michael S. Schmidt.) The winner of the 2006 Tour de France until all the lab tests came back, Landis was a tireless protector of his own innocence,  spending four years on the talk-show circuit calling a lot of people liars.

Now comes news that Landis took a break from high-performance denials in order to send out a round of email in which he comes clean. He also accuses biker buds of big doping right alongside him.

Those guys are all crying foul, but something rings true in Landis’ reminiscences  of the good ol’ days when he stored bags of blood in Armstrong’s fridge, alongside similar bags belonging to Armstrong and teammate George Hincapie.  Now there’s an image: a half-asleep guy in his boxers (with impressively rippling muscles)  staring into the fridge and yelling: “Which of you shitheads used up all the milk? There’s nothing but blood in here!”

This ‘fessing up is a pulse-booster for sure. But the real jolt comes from reading that he supposedly spent $90,000 a year at one point on doping. Yes, $90,000.

If local tweakers read the NYTimes, they’d be furious.

Here they are working all hours going through nasty garbage bins looking for ways to make money off identity theft, and this pisher in the silly shorts raises this kind of dough riding a bike through the countryside? Now, that’s enough to get a person really exercised.

Heroic tee-off

A faithful reader of Type Like The Wind (also a friend and former colleague at The Seattle Times) is glued to the television for the Masters golf tournament. Craig (“Smitty”) Smith sends the challenge below. Since this is the closest I will ever get to actually playing the game, I agreed to give it a whirl:

“Imagine who would be in your ‘dream foursome’ for golf. You count yourself, of course, then have to come up with three other people you would like to spend 6 hours with – 4 1/2 on the course and 1 1/2 in the grill having lunch or drinks. Players can be someone long gone or someone in the present such as Barack Obama. Male or female. Has to be a believable golfer, though, which means Mother Theresa doesn’t qualify.”

I’ll add another rule: No professional golfers. (So forget Babe Didrikson Zaharias and Tiger.)

Okay. Well. Hmmm. If Mother Theresa doesn’t count, I’m guessing the late, great gospel singer Mahalia Jackson doesn’t either, right? She’s always on my list of “people-I’d-meet-if-I-could.”

Other usual occupants of that list seem problematic too. Several of my heroes are not physically able to qualify–FDR, Helen Keller, Ray Charles.

Some have too much dignity to be exposed to a world in which pink and green pants are acceptable–Eleanor  Roosevelt; Martin Luther King, Jr., Louisa May Alcott, EB White, Abraham Lincoln.

Some would just be annoyed at the idea–Lyndon Johnson (“Ah’d rather be hunting.”); Frank Lloyd Wright (“Why are the greens so round? Can’t we get some rectangles in here?”).

So, on to my other heroes. I’d pick John F. Kennedy, Muhammad Ali and Johnny Carson.

I’m exhausted. This golf stuff is harder than it looks.

[Update: Smitty's picks: Teddy Roosevelt, Billy Crystal and former Sen. Bill Bradley.]

Hole in one? How about the Holy One.

Watching the endless mea culpa madness involving Tiger Woods, I can’t help but wonder why other international figures don’t learn something from his very public apologies.

The Pope, for instance.

I mean, come on, here’s one guy on the pro circuit ‘fessing up and doing 12-step speak on all the networks, while the captain whose team roster is filled with child-abusing clerics is sending his Brothers-in-Spin out to defend the Church.

Tiger’s working the program, leave the guy alone.

Now what we really need is for ESPN to get next to the Holy See for some live face-time.

Bobsleds over the cliff

Cities want to host Olympic events for the same reasons they crave pro sports teams:

(1) People come and spend money; and

(2) It’s cool.

But the spenders never seem to cover all the costs, and now those practical Canadians are wondering if the cool factor is worth it. Folks, here’s your answer: No, it’s not.

Your suspicions are correct; the winter games are going to leave you with a pile of bills. Every tourist on the planet would need to show up for a night out on the town and a souvenir $30 maple leaf t-shirt to pay for this spectacle.

Ian Austin of The New York Times writes a concise, very readable and sobering piece on this very thing. He points out that the Olympic Village, a development project so ballsy that Donald Trump might not try it, is a tsunami of red ink:

“But cost overruns, combined with the credit crisis in 2008, destroyed the financing. Once in office, [Vancouver, B.C.'s mayor] Mr. Robertson had to obtain special permission from the province to borrow $434 million to complete the village. In all, the city is responsible for about $1 billion in development costs, a situation that lowered its credit rating.”

Remember, this is a city of fewer than 600,000 people who are responsible for that $1 billion debt. And it’s not like things were really solid before Bob Costas showed up.  As Austin points out, the resort hosting Alpine events (Whistler Blackcomb) is set to go on the auction block after the events. The repo guy is probably standing by right now, waiting to tow those courtesy vans with the Olympic logo on the sides.

Other Canadian taxpayers and various Olympic emergency funds can come into play, but the responsibility pretty much sticks to locals.

The notion of permanent Olympic Villages (which gets floated every few years and is now being pushed by some as a greener alternative) seems smart. Building anew each time was never a solid financial move, and the jingoistic pleasure that comes from hosting the games is an expensive indulgence in 21st century economies. Maybe we could even turn this into an urban bail-out strategy. They could get some snow-making equipment in Detroit, couldn’t they?

Man hits tree; hell breaks loose

Ah, yes, the Tiger Woods accident story.

It was only a generation ago that the only really big news story likely to feature a black man and a tree was one about lynching.

Still, it’s too much of a stretch for me to call it “progress” just because every newspaper, “news” broadcast, chat room, social network and a zillion websites are carrying something about the silent hero and his low-speed crash the other night.

Okay, at first I was as guilty as a lot of other gawkers who can’t stop themselves from looking as they drive by someone’s misfortune. I typed “Tiger Woods accident” in Google a couple of times.

My support’s on the Tiger side of the ticket — the celeb spin doctors who say it is his “obligation” to speak publicly about the incident are, let’s face it, in the bullshit business, and their comments should be considered accordingly.

In my last search, I came up with a clever blog post that captures the pathetic and occasionally hilarious frenzy over a celeb electing to remain mum — how dare he! — until he’s damn ready to talk.

It’s James Ponewozik’s post in Time, here. His humorous jabs cajoled me into quitting my web crawling over this topic, which frees me up to criticize those of you who are still digging into Tiger’s business. Leave the guy alone, already.

Surprising film


We just saw Tyson, a film about one of the best boxers in history. The film is a Greek tragedy–with Tyson playing the hero, villain, and chorus. I’m a boxing fan, so expected to like the clips, but did not anticipate being so intrigued by the man himself. He is complex: terrified, fearless, needy, violent, dangerous and kind.

As I watched, I learned a lot more about the life he’s led, which in turn pushes me to reexamine and rethink notions I have about violent behavior. This is not to say that I’m questioning the seriousness of Tyson’s crimes–or excusing them in any way. However, the film does compel one to think in more nuanced ways about the outside forces and inner demons that make one man a driven, ambitious and successful athlete who is adored, and another man a driven, ambitious and successful athlete who is despised…and rightly, feared.