Phelps' COMEBACK: A Twitter Analysis
Wednesday, September 4, 2013
I just read a fascinating, in-depth analysis of a tweet
by Michael Phelps, xx-time gold medalist in swimming and cultural pariah.
The tweet in question reads: "Tomorrow is a new start... Can't wait!!!"
If you're anything like me, you read that and thought, "Well, wait a minute, what exactly
does he really
mean by that cryptic
statement? He couldn't simply
be talking about tomorrow being a different day from today!"
And USA Today was right there with us. Their investigation team took a closer look and came up with several provocative explanations:
- The all-time leading Olympic gold medalist has already decided to make a comeback from [sic] the 2016 Olympics and is enjoying the process of stringing along fans and media who have always expected him to.
- Knowing he’ll never return to the pool, except when said pool is Tao Beach at The Venetian, Phelps enjoys subverting expectations by dropping red herrings about his swimming intentions.
- Having exclusively worn white pants, a white shirt and white sneakers since the start of summer, Phelps is looking forward to wearing colors and plaids as to conform to post-Labor Day fashion rules.
Let's be perfectly clear. Options 2 and 3 were provided for comic relief, and they got the job done! But make no mistake; Chris Chase, the author of the piece and self-described "D.C. native still hoping to live out childhood dream of qualifying for 1996 Olympics" is not fucking kidding around
with number 1. He is deeply emotionally invested in the return of Michael Phelps, the "all-time leading Olympic gold medalist" as Chris so admiringly described him.
As am I. Emotional investment is low-risk, high-reward. And with that, I decided to dig a little deeper into Michael Phelp's recent tweets to uncover the clues of his imminent comeback.
"Congrats to @jasondufner!! Well done buddy"
He's clearly practicing his good sportsmanship skills for his TRIUMPHANT FIRST-PLACE VICTORY WHEN HE RETURNS TO SWIMMING!
"Y are ppl so creepy and go through trash? Is that normal?"
He's clearly referring to a homeless person he saw digging out some McDonald's from the dumpster at the POOL WHERE HE TRAINS FOR COMEBACKS!
"First trip to #maine can't wait for my first lobster!!"
He's clearly going to PRACTICE FOR HIS SWIMMING COMEBACK by catching lobsters with his bare hands!
"Happy bday to #8 #calripken!!!"
He's clearly referencing baseball legend Cal Ripken Jr., here, whose career was so long and illustrious that he must have had SOME KIND OF COMEBACK AT SOME POINT!
"So far I've had 2 meals from #beckysdiner while I've been up in Portland.... Hmmm where else should I try?"
He's clearly talking about TRYING THE WATERS TO SEE IF THE TEMPERATURE IS RIGHT TO MAKE AN AMAZING COMEBACK!
What more proof could we possibly need? Michael Phelps is plotting a carefully concealed yet playfully public comeback to the world of watersports. Good luck, Michael, and careful with those lobsters!
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Thursday, February 7, 2013
Daybreak broke, bringing branches burdened by the night's snowfall a little relief. The dead forest was alive with the sound of snow plopping into the pristine white carpet that had laid itself at the trees' feet. But someone... something was dragging its bloody paws through it all, hurling wretched abuse at the serene bucolic scene. A stigma in the world's eye.
The locals simply called it the "Terk." Children shuddered at its distant, anguished howls, women's loins tingled at the rumors of its endowment, and men grew ever anxious fearing the impending confrontation would come too soon. They wanted to be ready, but ready for what? The legends gave only a hint of the Terk's foul existence: stories of genitalia ripped by hand from between the victim's legs; saliva that, upon contact, renders the victim powerless in a hallucinogenic daze; arms strong enough to punch a clean hole right through a goat's belly. The stench! The hair on that thing! Hair everywhere!
It was windy as Hell and snowing like the Dickens. The Terk had had enough of it. It kicked mud into the hole in the bog where it slept and decided to look for better prospects. "A cave," it thought, in a way that only natural instincts can tell a beast to think, "a cave is where I want to be! Natural protection from the elements. Fuck the elements!" The Terk knew the kind of stuff caves were made of. The hard stuff it hurt to walk on. It went where it hurt to walk and finally, it came to a cave.
The Terk entered the cave and it stopped snowing. Already, prospects were looking good. The Terk walked a bit further in and the wind stopped. Things were getting even better. The Terk walked a bit further and it became darker than it had ever seen. Perfect, no more sunlight to disturb its rest. On a roll, the Terk continued even deeper until it stepped on a furry patch. Something comfortable to walk on! To sleep on! The Terk decided not to press its luck any further and bedded down on the soft, warm, furry patch. Long story short, it was a grizzly bear.
The Terk ran limping and bleeding out of the cave and back into the muddy slush. A claw mark down its belly, the Terk knew it was in a bad way. Even worse, the snow had covered its tracks and it didn't know the direction back to the bog. In desperation, the Terk galloped away on three paws, the fourth holding its gut, gushing with blood. It tore through the snow, the brush, the woodland creatures with reckless abandon. Then it tried to tear through the metal beam of a swingset. All went from snowy white to bloody black.
Creak. Crick. Creak. Crick. The Terk was cold and numb and this creaking was giving it a whole new set of attitude problems. The Terk stood on all fours and majestically flung the snow from its mane, limbs, and scabby paunch. The little girl on the swing laughed, "Doggy!" She jumped off and started patting the Terk's head. "Good doggy! Now fetch!" She plucked a stick from the snow and tossed it about six feet.
The Terk... smiled. The Terk never felt this way before. No creature, human nor beast, old nor young, had ever shown it compassion, had ever smiled upon it nor stood near it without recoiling in terror. Something inside the Terk radiated warmth and love. Each step it took toward the stick was hesitant, but it felt so good to place one foot in front of the other. The Terk felt like it was wading not through snow, but through a blanket of pure joy. A new life for the Terk! Grooming, a collar and nametag, and best of all, a doghouse all to its own!
"Honey, come inside! Breakfast— What the FUCK is THAT thing?!" The backdoor flew open and slammed against the siding, bringing patches of snow hurdling onto the gardenia bush that slept beneath the kitchen window. Two shots rang out, and the little girl screamed, or maybe it was the other way around. It didn't matter to the Terk, who was again on the run and shedding blood-drenched snow.
Daybreak broke, and the Terk's spirits broke with it. Not another day of this shit. Not another day of snow, of mud, of the bog, of blood. Of flesh. Of hair. No, fuck this. The Terk plopped into the snow amid the endless forest of plops and plats, a forest of sound, of the relentless sun and its bearing down and melting all who stand against it. We are all snowflakes. Just let go of the branch.
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Sunday, August 14, 2011
I was walking. Toward what, I don't know, but I didn't think I was going the right way. I skeptically walked toward this thicket of birch trees
, when suddenly a raven
swept down to my right and landed in mid air — as though it were standing on some kind of invisible plane. It had a chestnut
, its shell intact, in its mouth. It bit down hard, and the nut shattered into fine crumbs. As the crumbs settled on the invisible plane, they formed the shape of a bird's foot
, with the back talon pointing forward.
The raven took a few pecks at the crumbs and then flew in the direction the talon was pointing. When I turned back to the trees, they were all dead, grouped together and slanted away from me, forming a steep walkway. The raven landed facing away from me on a stump at the high edge. I walked and climbed toward it. When I was close enough, I reached out to touch its back, but it fell to the side, dead, and its cloudy eyes stared at me.
I looked up, and there was a leafy canopy with a few very thin weeping willow tendrils
hanging down. I grabbed one to test its strength, as I often did when I was a child, and surprisingly, it was strong enough to support me. I climbed up just a few inches, twirling in front of the dead raven when its eyes switched on, soft like dim light bulbs
's voice spoke through the dead raven — not through its mouth, but vibrating through the corpse. He condemned me to live the lifetime of a bird. I didn't know the reason I was being condemned, but I thought of saṃsāra
. I closed my eyes and nodded in acceptance, then woke up.
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Sunday, August 14, 2011
Hello nuTang and all of its inhabitants. Congratulations for surviving the harsh seasonal storms on the Island of Ishbu. This is what I've been up to in the past three years:
- Wrote a collection of poetry for my senior thesis
- Graduated university with a 3.785 GPA and a B.A. in English
- Worked for nine months as a busboy at an Italian restaurant, promoted briefly to runner and then waiter
- Released an EP called Helicobbler
- Secured a job as a copyeditor at an NYC ad agency
- Moved to an apartment in Sunnyside, Queens, NYC
- Released a full-length album called Impaled Peach
I want to say that I'll be more active on here and keep up with people's blogs, but there's a very good chance I won't! But I'll look around at people's blogs a bit.
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Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Friday, August 22, 2008
So "intellectually disabled" people everywhere are up in arms about Ben Stiller's new movie, Tropic Thunder
I saw the film yesterday. It was incredibly vulgar, gory, awkward, and repulsive in many ways, so much so that even a self-proclaimed desensitized person like myself felt uncomfortable during some scenes. It exploits these moral sensitivities to strengthen its satire and larger moral lesson. Literature of the Restoration period and early 18th century, of which I've read much this summer, uses the same tactics toward the same goals. Jonathan Swift's fantastical satire Gulliver's Travels
, Delarivier Manley's thinly-veiled royal exposé The New Atlantis
, and Daniel Defoe's immoral criminal account Moll Flanders
are just three examples of the long tradition of shocking social commentary. While it's somewhat upsetting that culture still suffers from much of the same obvious flaws of the 17th and 18th centuries, it's equally troubling that certain groups still so frequently miss the point of satire and misinterpret criticisms as the views of the authors.
So when the headline news tells me that disability groups are boycotting and even protesting Ben Stiller's film for demeaning "retards," my Facepalm Advisory System
is heightened to orange: "High Risk of Facepalm Devastation."
There's not much of an argument to make here; Ben Stiller is clearly mocking the notion that taking half-retarded roles will win you an Oscar, not poking fun at retards just to aggravate and alienate a group of people. If you're too intellectually challenged to discern this sort of thing, then of course Tropic Thunder
probably isn't your box of wine. What I find more ridiculous, though, is the idea of making the "R" word taboo.
The "N" word was used to objectify black slaves. The main logical reason why the word is offensive now is because it no longer served a purpose after slavery was abolished; no purpose other than to open old wounds, to objectify black people in a demeaning way, or as an attempt to instill the arbitrary racial hierarchies that were proven incorrect and offensive.
Treating words like "retard" or "midget" in the same way is ludicrous because they are words with a singular, practical meaning. They are words, like any others, with roots and suffixes that invariably describe what they mean. Furthermore, replacing them with words like "handicapped" and "dwarf" solves nothing, because they, like their predecessors, are susceptible to the same negative connotations that the banned words accrued. "Fat" and "obese" mean the same thing; likewise, they share the same risk of developing negative connotations.
Why didn't the anti-intellectualism of the first half of the 20th century lead to the banning of the word "intellectual," or the "I" word? Probably because intelligent people realize that despite their smart-aleckism, they still have good qualities regardless of what anyone says about them. Like midgets and fat people, retarded individuals also possess good qualities (although deductive reasoning
is clearly not their strength). So what's next, douchebags upset over people using the "D" word? Assholes and the "A" word?
Words don't offend people; well, they do, but it's the people's fault. I still want to say "Words don't offend people, people offend people," though.
Then again, a satire that doesn't offend anyone is a failed satire. Tropic Thunder
is, to those who can understand and appreciate the lampoons, a certain achievement of contemporary culture. It proves, along with other recent films like WALL-E
, that it's still possible for non-documentaries to make an argument. Literature can be used for much more than simple entertainment; culture is about more than just enjoyment; and Ben Stiller is the Jonathan Swift of our time.
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