Friday, January 3, 2014

The Strangest Olympic Story of Them All: 20 Years Later

Has it been that long?  It seems like it was only yesterday.

For those of you who weren’t around at the time because you weren’t born yet or were too young to remember, there was never a show at any Olympics like the Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding Soap Opera Ice Capades.

Let me refresh your memory somewhat.  Or maybe I’ll let Wackopedia refresh it for you:

Harding became notorious in conjunction with the January 6, 1994 attack on her competitor Nancy Kerrigan. The widely publicized attack took place during a practice session on the eve of the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Detroit. Her ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, and her bodyguard, Shawn Eckhardt, hired Shane Stant to break Kerrigan's right leg so that she would be unable to skate. Stant followed her to Detroit after failing to find her at her training rink in Massachusetts, and struck her on the thigh a few inches above the knee with an ASP baton.  Her leg was only bruised, not broken, but the injury forced her to withdraw from the national championship. Harding won that event, and they both were selected for the 1994 Olympic team.


So what was the aftermath of all this.  Harding’s husband, Jeff Gillooly, Eckhardt, and Stant all did prison time.  Harding pleaded guilty to conspiracy, did hundreds of hours of community do-gooder type work, paid a hefty fine, and was kicked out of amateur skating forever.  Bye bye, Miss America Skating Pie. 

From Wackopedia:

Harding avoided further prosecution and a possible jail sentence by pleading guilty on March 16 to conspiring to hinder prosecution of the attackers. She received three years probation, 500 hours of community service and a $160,000 fine. As part of the plea bargain, she was also forced to withdraw from the 1994 World Figure Skating Championships and resign from the USFSA.  

On June 30, 1994, after conducting its own investigation of the attack, the USFSA stripped her of her 1994 U.S. Championships title and banned her for life from participating in USFSA-run events as either a skater or a coach. The USFSA concluded that she knew about the attack before it happened and displayed "a clear disregard for fairness, good sportsmanship and ethical behavior". Although the USFSA has no control over professional skating events, she was also persona non grata on the pro circuit because few skaters and promoters would work with her. Consequently, she failed to benefit from the pro skating boom that ensued in the aftermath of the scandal.

In her 2008 autobiography, The Tonya Tapes, she said that she wanted to call the FBI to reveal what she knew, but refused when Gillooly allegedly threatened her with death following a gunpoint gang rape by him and two other men she did not know. He subsequently changed his name to Jeff Stone and called the allegations "utterly ridiculous". Eckhardt, who legally changed his name to Brian Sean Griffith following his release from jail, died of natural causes at age 40 on December 12, 2007. 

So how are Figure Skatings dynamic duo doing these days. This USA reporter went to find out.

"I really don't look back unless someone asks me to look back, and then I have to," Kerrigan, who won two Olympic figure skating medals, told USA TODAY Sports in a recent telephone interview. "Otherwise, why would I? I was attacked."

"It was 20 years ago and I don't remember lots and lots of it," Harding said in a phone interview this week. "I know it was a horrible time for everyone involved. It was a bad streak, going through all the crud, and I was able to rise above it. I think Nancy and I have good lives now."

Harding's knowledge of how Kerrigan is doing is not based on a mended relationship. Asked if she has seen or spoken with Harding, Kerrigan says, "Never. No. For what?

As for the rest of the story let me be your guide:

Gillooly got his revenge on Harding  by selling an explicit video tape to Penthouse Magazine of him and Tonya doing the nasty on their wedding night.

Gillooly and Harding  divorced, and after completing his sentence, Jeff being a big fan of The Donna Reed Show legally changed his last name to Stone.  I’m not sure how Paul Peterson felt about that.

Of course, we can’t let this story end without mentioning Kerrigan’s apperance at Disneyland, in a parade, with Mickey Mouse and the two million dollars she was paid for being there.

But before we start using the b-word in regards to Ms. Nancy, she does have an explanation for the above behavior.  It’s up to you whether you buy into it or not.  From Wackopedia:

Kerrigan then chose not to attend the closing ceremonies at the Olympics. Her agent claimed this was because Norwegian security advised her not to do so because of death threats that had been made against her, but this was later denied. Instead, she left Norway early to take part in a pre-arranged publicity parade at Walt Disney World, her $2 million sponsor. During the parade, she was caught on microphone saying to Mickey Mouse, "This is dumb. I hate it. This is the corniest thing I have ever done." She later claimed her remark was taken out of context: she was not commenting being in the parade, but because her agent insisted she wear her silver medal in the parade. She said showing off and bragging about her accomplishments was something that her parents always taught her not to do. She added that she had nothing against Disney or Mickey Mouse, and "Who could find fault with Mickey Mouse? He's the greatest mouse I've ever known.
See what you missed all you young whipper snappers? No Olympics in my memory have brought you more drama and intrigue than that. By the way, Kerrigan did go on to win the silver medal. A medal that in all fairness should have been gold except for the fact that having watched Kerrigan get whacked in Detroit, an East German Judge gave her a different kind of whacking.  But that’s another story, and just sprinkles on the cupcake.

And last but not least, there was this quickie NBC movie, available only from you neighborhood bootlegger.  Good luck.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Hunger Games: Mockingjay is the most anticipated movie for 2014

This does not surprise me in the least.  Although the usual critics give it the  brush off on their bests of lists for 2013, I’ve placed Catching Fire squarely at the top  followed by Gravity.  (Note:  I have not seen every film out there.  As of yet, nobody has invited me to a bunch of free screenings so I see what I can, when I can, and when I can afford to). 

But despite having some heavy duty underlying themes throughout the film that the Hollywood elitists continue to ignore (How can a movie that makes that much money be about anything but pure entertainment?!), it will be ignored at awards ceremonies everywhere.  Yet, Catching Fire has a lofty 89 per cent approval by critics counted at Rotten Tomatoes.  So go ahead, explain it to  me.

From Hollywood Reporter:

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire topped Fandango's 2012 most-anticipated movies list. It went on to become the top-selling movie in Fandango history, surpassing the previous record-holder, Avatar. The film -- starring Jennifer Lawrence andJosh Hutcherson -- was a box office smash when it opened in the U.S. in November, earning $158.1 million in its domestic debut to set a new November opening record (Twilight: New Moon held the previous record at $142.8 million). The following weekend -- Thanksgiving -- Catching Fire earned $110 million over five days, and $74.5 million of that during the traditional weekend frame, setting a new record for both the three-day and five-day Thanksgiving weekend. It has earned a stunning $765.3 million worldwide to date.

Mockingjay -- Part 1, the third of four films based on Suzanne Collins' popular YA novels, will hit theaters Nov. 21, 2014. Mockingjay -- Part 2 will follow one year later, Nov. 20, 2015.

There's also the usual assortment of favorite lists that I don't care about at the end of the article. Use the same link.  And Amazon is taking pre-orders on the Catchin Fire blu-ray if you want to turn off your adblocker and order one as I already have.  Thanks I appreciate it.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Will EA win the triple crown with it’s 3rd Worst Company in America Golden Poo Award?

If you were roaming around in my blog universe in May of 2013, you are probably well aware that EA was named the worse company in the U.S. for the second year in a row.  Despite the proclamation of their new CEO, Andy Wilson,  who replaced the forever clueless John Riccitiello, that EA would do better, they’vthus far continued on their merry path to total mediocrity.

But let’s not place the entire blame on EA.  The gaming public still continues to be suckered into the EA web as they relentlessly purchase crappy products more worthy of being buried alongside millions of old Atari E.T cartridges than being inserted into a gaming console or PC.  I guess this is what one would call the buy now bitch later plan.  And no, I’ve never understood it.

Between flooding the market with broken games and showering game players with expensive overpriced micro-transactions, you would think that consumers would have sent EA to the scrap heap by now.  But no, game players young and old keep asking to be punished and EA keeps delivering the goods.

From The Consumerist:

“With regard to quality control, it would be disingenuous to describe EA’s software output in 2013 in terms more flattering than ‘dismal,’” writes Noonan, citing the monstrous gaffe that was SimCity, a game that required the user to be online, but for which the company provided utterly inadequate server support, leaving many people unable to play.

And in spite of EA’s promise for better products and improved support, the company is currently still being publicly thrashed for the broken release of Battlefield 4, a game that was released with known disastrous glitches that have taken weeks to be resolved, and which has resulted in a lawsuit against the company.

But, points out Noonan, for all the griping about EA and its broken games and horrendous service, a large number of consumers are still willing to plunk down their money for EA products.

“[T]he market has yet to rebuke EA’s tendency to release incomplete games,” he writes, saying that from a business standpoint it was probably the right move for EA to unleash a cracked product to the market rather than wait to fix Battlefield 4 and miss the holiday shopping season.

Only a short time before the Battlefield boner, new EA CEO Andrew Wilson said his company’s two consecutive WCIA wins were a “wake-up call,” and promised to focus on providing the customer with a better gaming experience.

But perhaps what he really should have said was that the company’s decision to ignore those Golden Poos and continue releasing shoddy product should be a wake-up call to consumers, who should vote with their wallets and choose to not buy EA video games until the company learns to respect its customer base.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

How do you spell Bomb? G-r-u-d-g-e M-a-t-c-h

After a while audiences get tired of seeing over age actors doing things overage actors shouldn’t be doing.  Stallone brought his Rocky character back a few years ago and was quite successful at it, but you can only push geriatrics so far.  So what do you do?

You make a boxing movie where the main character is Rocky but isn’t called Rocky. 

And DeNiro was just a little  too old to be doing a reincarnation of Jake LaMotta.  Be that as it may, I will check this movie out… soon as it hits Redbox. It’s not on my list of must haves.

From Variety:

Grudge Match,” which opened Christmas day and stars the veteran actors, finished in 11th place on Friday at the box office with $2.4 million and is expected to earn just $13 million through Sunday. Warner Bros.-based producer Bill Gerber had hoped that “Grudge Match” will offer a parallel box office success story to the 2008 hit “Grand Torino,” which starred Clint Eastwood and went on to gross $270 million worldwide. But so far, “Grudge Match” has been a swing and a miss financially. Made for $40 million, “Grudge Match” still has plenty of time to find older audiences but the boxing comedy wraps an otherwise forgettable year for Stallone and De Niro at the box office. “Bullet to the Head,” Stallone’s recent action film (also distribtued by Warner Bros.), was one of the biggest underachievers of 2013, earning just $9.4 million worldwide on a $55 million budget.

They are however working on the next sequel of The Expendables which has been a successful series so far.  I guess as long as your arthritis doesn’t keep you from holding an AK-47, you can do those types of movies forever.  You just can’t box.

Amazon Kicked Ass During the Holidays

From Ars Technica:

Amazon gave away a tiny inkling of how big its Amazon Prime program has grown: it likely has at least 20 million members, with one million of those members signing up in the third week of December during the run-up to Christmas, according to a press release from the company. In fact, the press release indicates that the take-up rate was so brisk that the company had to at times limit new sign-ups "to ensure service to current members was not impacted by the surge in new membership."

The company hit its peak sale rate on Cyber Monday, when customers were ordering 426 items per second. Amazon stated that “millions” of customers bought Kindle e-readers and Kindle Fire tablets, though it didn't break out specific numbers for either type of device.

Analyst estimates previously pegged Amazon Prime’s base as somewhere between 16 and 18 million members, per the New York Times. Amazon generally charges $79 a year for Prime membership, though there are discounted versions of the service for students and “moms.” In the press release, Amazon refers to its Prime subscriber base as being made up of "tens of millions of members" scattered around the world.

And while I’m on the subject of Amazon, I'm sure you've seen all the ads for Amazon products running rampant on this blog. This is of course unless you have your adblocker turned on.  I used to keep mine on everywhere as well, until I realized there were others out there in the same boat I am.  Now, I generally use it on web pages with annoying endless unnecessary pop ups.  You’ll get none of that here. 

Granted, I’ve hardly kept the blog up to date.  And the only people I’ve directly asked to click on the ads have been friends and family members, but I just as well be talking to those eight dogs I have running around out back tearing up the yard.

But here’s the thing.  I don’t make much off those ads.  Maybe anywhere from $15 to $50 a year, and I get that in an Amazon gift certificate which usually goes towards the purchase of either some blu-ray or classic TV series I’m wanting.  But if you click on an ad, any ad, you don’t have to purchase that product in order for my blog to get credit.  Whatever you buy during that particular visit will be attributed back to me. 

I’m always appreciative of those who do, and yes I know the ads need updated.   But since so many of the sites I visit ask me to click on their ads, I finally decided I might as well join the crowd.  I mean, I’m a one man show here and certainly my effort is no less than their effort is it?

Anyway, thanks to those who have clicked the ads.  I appreciate it immensely.