Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Ghosts of Olympics Past: 1956

After the Olympics, I binged on YouTube videos, and I'm still trying to digest everything I've seen. Today, I'd like to share this little gem with you.

In case you do not recognize the gymnast in the grainy film, that's Takashi Ono. He was one of the badasses of men's gymnastics in the mid-twentieth century. In fact, he was such a badass that I think the International Gymnast Hall of Fame should donate his portrait to the Louvre.

What made him a badass? you ask. Well, in 1952, he won the bronze medal on vault at the Olympics. In 1956, he was the Olympic champion on high bar, as well as a silver medalist in the all-around, pommel horse, and team competition. Oh, yeah, he also took home a bronze on the parallel bars that year.

Had I been in his shoes, I would have stopped while I was ahead, but Badass Ono decided to keep training and keep winning Olympic medals. In 1960, he won gold on high bar and was part of the gold-medal-winning Japanese team. When he wasn't winning gold medals, he took home silver medals in the all-around and vault and bronze medals on rings and parallel bars. To top things off, he was part of the Japanese gold-medal winning team in 1964.

Yeah, he pretty much sucked at gymnastics.


I wonder what he did with all those medals. I'd like to think that he hung his Olympic medals around a teddy bear, just like I did when I was a kid. At least, that's what I imagined Olympic athletes doing whenever I plopped a new medal around my Pooh Bear's neck.

A simpler time

You'll have to pardon the nostalgia. For whatever reason, watching Badass Ono's routine takes me back to a simpler time--a time when I did not know the names of most gymnastics skills, a time when I made up my own names for the skills.

For instance, long before there was Grindr, there were German giants, which I called grinder giants.
Why? Go hang in a skin the cat. Now, swing. Doesn't it feel like your shoulders are being ground into military-grade sharp, pointy objects? Yeah, now, imagine swinging all the way around the bar like that. 

Honestly, who needs a massage when you can do German giants all day long? Ugh.

My shoulders never liked skin the cats much, but I LOVED practicing another skill from Badass Ono's routine.
Long before Shawn Johnson's Bounty commercial, I was a living room gymnast, perfecting what I called the "Pike-oooo!" In order to practice this skill in your living room, you have to yell the words "Pike-ooooo!" as you jump sideways over every piece of furniture. Trust me, parents love when you do that.

Gym gods, Thank you for giving me patient parents. I was one helluva annoying kid. xx, Uncle Tim

You know what else parents really like? Seeing their son jump off the front porch, in a full spread eagle, yelling, "Starfish!"
My parents just couldn't understand what I was doing. In my head, I was doing timers for a straddled hecht dismount. Since I couldn't have a high bar at my house, I had to find another way to practice, and the front porch seemed like the best option.

My favorite part: The dismount

At the time that I was practicing my starfish dismount, I hadn't seen Badass Ono's routine. In retrospect, I'm glad that I hadn't because I would not have been able to appreciate the humor of his dismount.
I made an animated gif of it so that I could watch it over and over. It makes me chuckle because it reminds me of how little kids act at their first gymnastics meets. You know, they dismount, walk off the mat, and pick their wedgies. The coach gently grabs them by the shoulders, turns them around, and whispers, "Salute the judge." The little gymnasts salute, high five a few teammates, pick a wedgie, sit down, and wave to mom and dad.

Granted, Badass Ono was too badass to actually pick a wedgie in public, but I love how he salutes before he stands up straight and then saunters off the mat. So badass.

You know what else I love about this animated gif? The propinquity between the public and the gymnasts.

Can you imagine what would happen nowadays if the spectators could be that close to the competitors?

There would be cougars and teenagers tweeting, "Jake Dalton just dripped sweat on me, and it. was. awesome. Never gonna shower again." There would be weeping. There would be shrieks of joy. There would be fainting. There would be creepers grabbing for locks of Sam Mikulak's hair.

Sorry, I'm too lazy to photoshop in blonde locks. You'll have to settle for neon-yellow-French-fry-looking thingamabobs.

There would be fandemonium! It would be great! Perhaps Rio should take this into consideration...

Friday, October 26, 2012

American Anthem - Part 4

Since the last hour of American Anthem has very little dialogue, I'm convinced that the writers were fired halfway through the script. Or, perhaps they were trying to do an 80s take on the silent movie?
I'm not impressed by this movie, but I am impressed by the physical similarities between Maroney and Chaplin.

Whatever the case may be, I sat through a WHOLE hour of Mitch Gaylord trying to be dramatic, when I could've been re-watching the Gala for the Mexican Open.

 Turn your second hand in on those cartwheels!
I have such a huge crush on Věra Čáslavská. Always the performer--even at the age of 70.

But, no, I sat through an hour of Mitch Gaylord doing shit like this.

You know that a gay man staged this scene because it looks like a large pole was shoved up Mitch's ass. I mean, once you notice that little detail, how can you take this scene seriously? And that's the problem: it's supposed to be serious. Mitch the Chimney Gaylord is having his last cigarette.

Shit is getting serious in Flagstaff. Everyone is feeling the pressure of the upcoming meet, and Barbie looks scared, like a deer caught in the headlights of Mitch's doorless vehicle.
With a Gregorian chant sounding in the background, we find Barbie practicing her floor choreography. Like every good floor routine, this one features drool rolling down the front of her leotard, an emotionless face, a right boob that wants to pop out of its place, and a lot of airplane arms.

It also features kink-in-the-neck hairography.
And more airplane arms. Seriously, is her choreographer Romanian?

Coincidentally, this guy also needs to get laid.
By the way, this is the worst angle for shooting an iron cross. It just looks nasty.

Hmm, and he's got an eye on the ass he wants to tap.
I love this gif so much I had to reuse it.

Yup, he wants to bone down with Barbie, but first, he has to get through a rough day at practice. Nothing seems to be going his way.
So he has to do more leaning because leaning makes your problems disappear.

Except for this problem...

That one doesn't disappear, and he is all like, "You need to work hard! You can't just show up and expect to win--not even if you're Mitchy Fuckin' Gaylord."

I liked where the Hoff was going with that... until he started grabbing the sweatband around his neck. Seriously, no one will take you seriously when you're wearing a sweatband around your neck. No one.

Of course, Barbie sees all of this, and she's all like, "I'm stretching just for you. Come by my house later. Double entendre intended."
Who the F stretches on a balance beam as a cool down?

Trying not to climax too soon, the movie breaks up the sexual tension by giving us another lovely scene between Mitch Gaylord and his dad, who is clearly sleeping when Mitch enters the room. Nevertheless, Mitch decides to start talking to his dad: "Are you awake?" Then, in a trembling voice, he pours his little heart out.

I should care about this scene because Mitch admits that he needs his dad in his life. Aww... I know, right? But the whole time, I'm thinking, "How come the sunlight never looks this piss yellow in San Francisco?"

This scene "naturally" progresses into a sex scene. As it should. I mean, whenever I stare at my sleeping dad and talk to him, I leave the room hornier than a pubescent puppy who humps every leg, table, and pillow in sight. Don't you?

Barbie wakes up in the middle of the night--only to find Mitch Gaylord IN HER BEDROOM! But instead of screaming or beating him with a baseball bat or calling the police, she starts making out with him. For Barbie, breaking and entering is a huge turn on.

So, question: Why is the background blue during this sex scene? Is it supposed to be artsy? Does it symbolize Mitch's depression? Is the director trying to tell us that Mitch has blue balls?

If that's the case, those balls aren't going to be blue for much longer because the two of them GET IT ON...on the kitchen table...

...while covered in motor oil. As strange as it sounds, later on, Shakira would copy this technique in her video for "Tortura." 

As a gay man, I think I'm more turned on by Shakira than Mitch Gaylord. Weird. Also, I'd like to point out that this is probably the most action that Emaciated Barbie's kitchen table has ever seen. I'm guessing that not a lot of eating went down there.

Anyway, with his ball(s) completely emptied of its contents,

The symbolism in this movie is *almost* as deep as the symbolism of a James Joyce novel.

Mitch can focus entirely on gymnastics. But guess what? Getting laid doesn't solve all your problems. Mitch still can't do a straight Arabian dive roll.

Nor did getting laid make Barbie a better dancer.
Black Swan lied to us.

But getting laid does have its advantages. It empowers you to dress like a slut. Here's Mitch showing a little midriff.
 And here's a shot of Barbie.
I'm not entirely sure, but Barbie's vagina may or may not be hanging out of her leotard. I don't know; I try not to stare at the female nether regions; for gay men, it's like staring directly at the sun...

...or a welding machine, for that matter.

As you can see, Mitch is back to work, paying for his rent at his parents' house, and Ginger Friction is back to work on Barbie's music.
Which apparently gives him yet another orgasm.

Back on the homestead, Mitch and his father fight some more, which leads to, you guessed it...
...more dramatic leaning.

Mom the MILF happens to be waiting for him outside in the garage, where she greets Mitch with her legs wide open and her camel toe on full display.
It just so happens that Mom the MILF is in possession of a scrapbook that Mitchy's dad made of his son's newspaper clippings. Personally, I think that Pops just saved all the ones with double entendres for headlines.
It took all my willpower not to photoshop a huge dong over the word "win" and between the player's hands.

This scrapbook, according to Mom the MILF, is proof that Mr. Tevere does care. So, Mitch asks the obvious question, "Why couldn't he just tell me he cares?" And Mom the MILF responds, "Why can't you tell him? He goes to bed every night worried about you. He thinks he let you down." Blah blah blah. "Talk to him, Steve. You don't have to be a star for him. Just be a son."

Apparently, Mitch is a little slow or hard of hearing because he interprets this to mean, "You should go to the woods and practice your high bar routine between a bunch of birch trees." It's a good thing that he and Barbie already boned down because everything around his man parts would be chaffed after doing so many straddles in tight jeans.

For the first time in my life, I find myself thinking about, and concerned for, Mitch Gaylord's nether regions. FML. Anyway, thankfully, my concern is fleeting because I'm so distracted by this terrible plot. Let me explain...

Remember back to a time when you were, like, 8. If you were anything like me, you were probably snorting Pixie Stix in the back of your third grade classroom, paying no attention to your teacher who, at the time, was telling you about the different types of conflict in a story. (In my case, this is even funnier because my mom was my third grade teacher.) There was:

  • man vs. man; 
  • man vs. self; 
  • man vs. nature; 
  • man vs. society. 

And after you read a story, you had to fill out a worksheet and choose ONE conflict that was at the heart of the story.

Well, the writers for American Anthem decided to throw EVERY type of conflict into this scene. I'm not even joking. EVERY SINGLE TYPE OF CONFLICT. There's a bit of "Mitch vs. Dad," "Mitch vs. the Hoff," "Mitch vs. self," "Mitch vs. being poor," and to top if off, there's a bit of "Mitch vs. nature" 'cause ALL OF A SUDDEN it starts raining!

Once again, it is clear that a gay man wrote or directed this scene because it turns into a wet t-shirt party real fast...

By the way, USAG, if you ever need a fundraiser idea...

Anyway, we're supposed to think, "Oooo! How dangerous!" The thing is... it's not really raining on the high bar; it's just raining on his truck. So, actually, it's super safe.

Well, it's as safe as doing high bar between a bunch of birch trees can be.

Supposedly covered in water, Mitch Gaylord winds up for his "triffus," but he bails, doing only a full-twisting double back. And then, he rolls down a hill (which was not in any of the previous shots), only to ram into a giant tree.

When he stands up after colliding with the tree, we quickly learn why the directors made Mitch Gaylord lean so much. His facial expressions are horrendous.
You see, with Mitch Gaylord, there's very little difference between his pain face and his orgasm face.

Sopping wet and covered in mud, Mitch heads to Barbie's house. This time, he doesn't break and enter, and as a result, Barbie is NOT turned on. She loves the bad boys.

We know that she's not turned on because this is the perfect time to say, "You have to strip naked before you come into my house. I don't want you traipsing mud through my clean apartment!" Instead, she asks, "What happened to you?" He replies, "I want to stay here tonight."

I HATE when someone doesn't answer my question, and Barbie doesn't like it, either. (We finally have something in common.) When Mitch tells her that he quit gymnastics, she lays the smack down. "BULLSHIT! If you quit now, you'll just be a loser... Steve, whenever anything starts to get heavy [Gotta love the 80s slang], all you know how to do is run." To which, Mitch says, "You don't know shit." To which Barbie says, "You, bastard. GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE!"

And in that brief moment, I love Barbie. Bastard is one of the best words in the English language because, if you type correctly, you can type it entirely with your left hand. Fun fact.

Anyway, clearly upset by the accuracy of Barbie's psychoanalysis, Mitch finishes the scene the only way he knows how: by leaning.


There are roughly 40 minutes left in this movie, kiddos, which means there's a lot of time left for Mitch to do some more heavy-duty leaning. I don't know if I can handle it.

There's good news, though: Roughly 30 of those minutes are dedicated to gymnastics routines, wanton homoerotic glances, and beating the Chinese. (Mitt Romney and President Obama would be so proud.) I can't fucking wait.

For part 5, click here.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Studly Male Gymnasts, Now Coaches of Female Elites

Prepare yourselves to have your minds blown.

Believe it or not, Nastia Liukin did not make Valeri Liukin famous. 
Nor did McKayla Maroney make Arthur Akopian famous. 
Nor did Anna Li make Yuejiu Li famous. 
Nor did Shawn Johnson or Gabrielle Douglas make Liang Chow famous.

These men were badasses long before their pupils hit the elite stage, and YouTube can prove it. Let's start with Mr. Valeri Liukin.

Valeri Liukin, the Russian Kazakh who doesn't like vodka

Valeri Liukin was one of those bat shit crazy gymnasts. You know the type: the one who just throws skills like triple backs on floor.
The triple back is called a "Ljukin" in the Code.

Without Nastia's help (I know it's hard to believe, but it's true), he won the all-around gold at the 1987 European Championships, as well as golds on floor and high bar. At the 1988 Olympics, he won gold in the team competition and on high bar. He also earned two silvers in the all-around and parallel bars. Once the Soviet Union disbanded, he competed for Kazakhstan, his home country.

That's right, Kazakhstan.

Valeri Liukin is technically not Russian, which means that all this talk of Nastia's Russian heritage is only partially true.

Her mother, Anna, was born in Moscow, Russia, but Valeri was born in Aktyubinsk, Kazakhstan (now called Aktobe).

Just one of today's geography lessons.

Arthur Akopian, the Russian Armenian

Unlike Valeri, Arthur (or Artur) Akopian (or Akopyan) never competed on an Olympic team, partly because the Soviet Union boycotted the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. His biggest accomplishments happened at the 1981 and 1983 World Championships, where the Soviet team won gold and silver (respectively). Individually, he won silver on high bar and vault in Moscow, and in Budapest, he won bronze in the all-around and gold on vault.

If you listened to NBC's broadcast of the London Olympics, you heard the commentators mention Mr. Akopian's vaulting prowess. Well, here's a video of him competing the vault that still bears his name in the Code of Points.

While I'm on this geography kick, I might as well tell you that Akopian competed for the Soviet Union--not Russia.

And he was from Yerevan, Armenia.
Now, you're fully prepared to go and rock the gymnastics version of "Where In the World Is Carmen Sandiego?" If only such a game existed...

Yuejiu Li, the Proudest Gym Dad Ever

Since I'm blowing your mind with so much revisionist geography, I might as well continue. This one's really going to change your life forever, so brace yourself. Anna's pops is not really from China!

Just kidding. He is, and he represented China during the early 80s. He was world champion on floor in 1981, in addition to being part of the 1984 Chinese Olympic team that finished second behind the United States.

Yuejiu's second tumbling pass is named after him,* but I have a feeling that that's not his proudest accomplishment...

Yuejiu Li, pretty much the proudest gym dad ever.

*In an earlier version of this post, I had stated that the Yuejiu Li is no longer in the Code of Points, but I was incorrect. It is; I was looking at the wrong version of the Code on my computer.

Liang Chow (Qiao), Mr. Booty Shorts

Like Akopian, Liang Chow never competed on an Olympic team for China, but that doesn't mean he's a wuss. Nope, he's a badass just like the other guys in this post. He, too, kind of, sort of has a skill named after him. You see, he was the first man to do a front double pike on parallel bars. The Code of Points, however, hates him, in that it does not credit Chow for this skill.

In my personal copy of the Code of Points, though, it is called the "Qiao." (That's what I meant by kind of, sort of.)

You can see him perform that skill around the 3:10 mark in this video:

Even though his name is not officially attached to the skill, Chow should go down in the history books for other reasons. Like, the fit of his shorts.

Not only are they tight, but his buns are hanging out the bottom. Chow, I'm claiming, was the first man to wear hot pants in an international competition.

Which brings me to the final section of this post...

Most likely to still fit into his competition booty shorts

As you were looking at the old videos, I'm sure that you were wondering whether those men could still fit into their competition booty shorts. I know I was, which got me thinking. (And whenever I get to thinking, something gloriously inappropriate usually happens.) I decided that I, Uncle Tim, should start giving out a lifetime achievement award to retired gymnasts who still stay in shape.

After conducting very scientific research on waist sizes and consulting with my team of experts (read: myself), I have chosen the first recipients of Uncle Tim's Lifetime Achievement Award. Congratulations to Liang Chow and Valeri Liukin, who, I believe, deserve a very special present. Specifically, this one:

I approve of very few butts, so to win this award is a HUGE compliment.

I wish I could see their faces when these hot pants (called "cheer shorts" online) arrive at their gyms. "Who the &*#% is Uncle Tim?"

Anyway, in case you were wondering, here are the official results of the first round of Uncle Tim's Lifetime Achievement Award:
1T. Liang Chow
1T. Valeri Liukin
3. Yuejiu Li
4. Arthur Akopian
Sorry, Arthur.