A random girl's random gymnastics ramblings.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

this it the first time i've seen you look ugly, and it makes me happy!

The time has come.  Season Three.  Make It or Break It.  Let's go.

First thing's first: shit has changed.  No longer do our girls train at the Rock.  Now they are at the USATC, which one can only assume is a direct rip-off of the real-life USOTC.  But same thing.  A bunch of different sports, people running amuck, dudes smoking pot.  The girls move into their super lavish "dorm" room, which is gigantic and has three double beds.  I wonder how the real life national team girls feel about this, as they watch the show from their shitty bunk beds at camp with spiders crawling on the walls and shit. 

The girls are just so fucking thrilled that they made it all the way to Colorado Springs.  An 8 week training camp will serve as part of the selection for the Olympic team.  I suppose we'll see if there are any sort of trials, or what kind of reality MIOBI has in store for us.

A new gym, and also, a new coach.  Peace out Sasha, and hello Coach McIntire.

Sasha can no longer coach the girls, as he's taken up a role in a local stage production of True Blood. 

That's the only logical explanation I have.  Before rehearsal, Sasha takes some time to lobby his girls to the new head coach.  He tries to package them as a ready-built team, and that as long as they stay together, the world is their oyster, they can do anything.  That sort of crap.

Coach McIntire doesn't give a shit, rightly.  All he cares about is if Payson has a "triple anything."  Maybe he should take a gander at Catalina Ponor's FX.  A triple does not make you good.

Meanwhile, on the open road, we get our first glance of Emily 2.0.  Enter Jordyn Randall, scrappy wild-child who is very smart.  Smart enough to hitch a ride to camp, with none other than Large Marge. 

Or Napoleon's grandma.  Whatever.  Jordyn is cruising along with Large Marge, knitting.  See there, another clue that she's secretly awesome.  Although what the fuck kind of stitch that is, I'll never know.

Maybe that's a real stitch, and I just really suck.  Could be.  Anyway, Jordyn shares with Large Marge that she grew up in Pittsburgh, but has bounced around from town to town.  Large Marge warns her to be careful, but Jordyn reassures her that she can "take care of herself."

Yeah, well can she take care of THIS?

Large Marge drops Jordyn off at the USOTC as the girls are moving their crap into the teeny tiny dorm rooms.  The parents get the girls together for a bunch of pictures, as they show us how very super BFFs they are all now.

They remind each other, and us, that they're the three best friends that anyone could have, and they will never never ever ever leave each other. 

Cue boring old opening theme.


Well what have we here??  A brand new opening for what is almost like a brand new show.  So long, cheesy round offs and chalky bar-pinging.  Now we just have a very short shot of three girls stepping onto a podium as faceless people cheer in the background.  I like it.

Short and sweet.  The girls are in their dorm room, getting the massive place set up to their liking, as Lauren sprays them with her version of Sex Panther, the new perfume that she's marketing. She calls her version "Winning," and apparently it smells like shit.  Kaylie has to jet, because she must run out to go see Austin.  I mean, she hasn't seen him in a whole WEEK, and it's just been, like, the longest week EVER!

Bitch, try going six months.  Then complain to me about your fucking week.

Payson's with me.  She and Max are doing the long distance thing, and their relationship survives on letters.  So suck on THAT, cling-ass Kaylie.  Lauren decides that she wants to know all the dirty details about what is said in these letters, and that she will stop at nothing to find that out.  The Lauren Demon Train is en route.  Destination: BITCH

During a short walking tour of campus, Austin explains to Kaylie and her folks about Otis, the lightweight statue.  Because he was tragically killed some odd years ago, it has become good luck to rub his head.  Also, a tradition was born where teams take turns effortlessly hauling the statue off and parading it through the campus.  The team with the statue come the Olympics ALWAYS wins a medal.  So, a reverse hot-potato, if you will. 

Lauren is saying goodbye to Daddy when she is overcome by a dizzy spell.  Whatever does this mean?!

As the girls say all of their mushy goodbyes to their parents, Jordyn rolls on into Coach McIntire's office, wanting to try out for the team.  He kindly tells her to fuck off.  She pulls the "don't you know who I am?" card, and he's all "Yeah, bitch, I know who you are."  Seems she was the national junior champion four years ago, but hasn't done jack shit for the past two years.  Also, she was somewhat of a rabble-rouser, and now every single person from every single gym totally hates her. 

One last goodbye.  This time, it's Sasha saying goodbye to the Rock girls.  He gives Payson his Olympic medal, again.  I don't remember her giving it back to him?  Whatever.  He reiterates that they need to stay together, no matter what, as if he's sending them off to the arena, and not a fucking gymnastics camp.  Blonde hair doesn't make you Haymitch, pal.

On campus, a bunch of creepy dudes are creepily rubbing Otis' creepy head as Lauren strolls by.

The lead creep sees Lauren, and then calls out to the fat security guard who is rolling by, claiming that Lauren stole his cell phone.  The guard stops Lauren and searches through her bag, while the gang of creepies makes off with the Otis statue.  What a clever ploy.

Once cleared of the robbery, Lauren goes to pick up everyone's mail, I guess.  She sees that Payson has a letter from Max, and has absolutely no problem opening that bitch right on up.  However, before she can really get into the juicy details of the letter, she is stopped by someone screeching her full name.

Let me just say, nothing skeeves me out more than when someone randomly hollers out my full name.  It's always done by someone you don't know, or can't remember, or aren't that close with.  It is never good news.

Meet Wendy Capshaw.  Junior national champ, annoying as fuck.  Also, she appears to be wearing a wig.  First she accuses Lauren of being Shawn Johnson, and then points out that she, Wendy, has a higher D score than any of the senior bitches.  Also, she legit turns 16 the day they all fly to London, so she's peaking just. in. time.   

Before bed, Payson kindly asks Lauren if Max sent her a letter, since she knows that Lauren jacked all of the mail.  Lauren has zero problems lying point blank to Payson's face.  BFFs.  Kaylie shows up, fresh from boning Austin, and decides that the girls should go out and do some fun stuff.  And by fun stuff, she means break into the gym after hours, a recurring theme in this series, to take goofy pictures.  I'm not going to lie, that does seem like my kind of fun.  What they don't know is that Jordyn has also busted into the gym after hours, and is videotaping herself doing her many triples, so that she can finally show Coach McIntire that she's so much better than everyone else.

The girls race to the gym, and once in there, see that there is a podium inexplicably set up in the middle of the floor.  They sprint to the podium and fight for the top spot, before deciding to take turns.

Bunch of nerds.  But even hiding in the shadows, cool Jordyn has to admit that it kind of looks like fine.  She looks on longingly.  Lauren has another one of her mysterious dizzy spells, and the girls explain to her that it's probably her nasty Sex Panther perfume making her sick.  They all accept that as a reasonable explanation.

The next morning, Lauren decides that now is as good as any time to rip into Payson's letter from Max.  She easily whips it out, and has no qualms about invading her BFF's privacy.  She begins reading, and her face begins amused, it immediately changes to TERROR

Probably because boyfriend is home-skooled and can't write for shit.  Oh, also, he's breaking up with Payson.

Jordyn catches Coach McIntire on his drive in, and again asks him if she can train.  He again denies her.  She leaves him the thumb drive with the videos of herself training on it.

The girls who are allowed to train are inside the gym, warming up.  The real gymnasts do kip cast handstands in the background while the main three sit lazily on the the floor doing their version of stretching.  Wendy and her lisp bounce over, and explain to the girls the new ranking system, which isn't unlike the pyramid of one Abby Lee Miller.

Each day, the girls are ranked, blah blah blah.  Pretty self explanatory.  However, those on the right side are stuck training with the lowly assistant coach, while those on the left train with Coach McIntire.  So, hold up, do the coaches here actually coach?  Or spot?  Because I have yet to see that happen in this show.

As he exits his office, we see that not so much has changed.  The set decorators have kept my favorite poster ever, and have it right-side up.  For now.

The girls begin to warm up, for real, for probably the first time in their lives.  Kaylie runs as if she's on fire toward the vault.  She looks genuinely afraid of the table.

They really shouldn't juxtapose shots of the real gymnasts running with shots of the actors running.

As the girls run circuits, doing legit exercise, Coach explains to them that only five girls will make the team.  The Rock girls apparently weren't aware, because they just now do the math.  All that figurin' makes Lauren sleepy, so she passes out again due to one of her spells.

This girl always has the most dramatic falls ever.  Coach doesn't have time for this bullshit, so he tells Lauren to hurry off to the nutritionist, who he happens to be banging, by the way.  While there, the nutritionist mostly talks about her blood sugar and not skipping breakfast.  Nothing exciting.

The girls are waiting for Lauren, as they see that she has dropped in the rankings a bit.  Lauren reassures the ladies that things will be fine, because she's been "prescribed" a few of Payson's tampon bars.

For what it's worth, even though all of this buddy-buddy shit is super annoying, the girls themselves are getting better at portraying it.  They actually have moments here and there that seem genuine and not forced.  Few and far between, but they're there.

After workout, the girls go to one of what I'm assuming are nightly parties.

This girl is jammin'.  Lauren is on a smush mission, and on her way, she runs into the stone-cold pack of creeps who used her as a decoy the other day.

A husky gentlemen wearing a shirt regarding relations.  Lauren is on it, however, and knows that flirting with this classy, robust fellow is her ticket to Otis. 

While the girls are being slutty party animals, Jordyn is inside of her tent, studying via flashlight and talking to herself.  Or is she?  Psych, she's actually talking to her insanely cute bunny friend who she totes around from town to town with her.

I want to call her crazy, but this actually makes me love her.  Probably because I do the same thing with my cats.  She informs her bunny friend that this is only temporary, that in 8 weeks they'll be on their way to London, and then they'll have it made in the shade.  I'm OK with this.

OH GOD, what if something happens to the bunny?!  If MIOBI kills off both Bitchface Chloe AND the bunny, I will start a motherfucking riot. 

After the party, Payson finally has some time to read the poorly written letter from Max.  She too stares in horror after seeing how many errors are on just one page.

The next morning, plucky young Jordyn is at it again, trying to convince that douchebag Coach McIntire to let her train.

She looks so much like the Schwikerts, it's uncanny.  You know, now that I think about it, that's probably where they got the name from.  Jordan will probably be the stunt double for Jordyn.  Har har har. 

Inside of the gym, Payson is making of mess out of her illusions on beam.  She can't do one to save her life.  Payson, the one who said she would never let a boy ruin her life, is so torn up over her short-term long distance relationship with bisexual Max that she can't even do an illusion turn on beam.

Lauren, who has her hair done in a gorgeous but completely impractical bun, and Kaylie both take note of Payson's meltdown over on beam.

That shit wouldn't last one back handspring.  Coach McIntire decides to bring the girl with the lowest ranking into the office and give her the heave-ho.  Gotta whittle the team down to five, why not start now?  Coach also takes this time to move Payson down a notch in the rankings, which means she has to train with the lowly assistant coach.

Meanwhile, Lauren casually mentions to Kaylie that she did indeed read Payson's letter, so she knows what is bothering her.  No one seems to have a problem with this at all.  So, with this, we have this season's first example of Lauren being a backstabbing hoe and never having to pay for it. 

Those two don't need to train at all, what with being in the top group and all, so they mosey over to vault to cheer for Payson.

"C'mon Pay, you're a star!"

Oh, she has an Amanar now, by the way.  Wendy rightly is all "The fuck, she has an Amanar?  Didn't she just break her back?  Wasn't she just doing a handspring front last season?  Isn't she OLD AS FUCK?"

My question is this: if Wendy is making comments about Payson's "old age," how old is Payson supposed to be?  Isn't she only about 16-17?  You'd think she was Chuso, trying to do tough vaults in her 30s.  OH WAIT.  Because that never happens.  Just like women can never, never ever come back to elite gymnastics after having a baby.  Ever.  

But before we can see what was sure to be a delightful and realistic vault, Jordyn busts through the doors, and threatens to do a vault of her own.  Turns out she ALSO has an Amanar, because this is Amanar Town.  Coach puts a stop to that, so Jordyn hightails it to the bars, where her grips just happen to be waiting for her.  

Funny how that works out.  While this circus is going on, the girls infodump on us that Kaylie used to be friends with Jordyn, but "something" happened and now they hate each others guts.  I'm sure they won't become BFFs or anything.  

Jordyn warns Coach that he's about to see something completely brand new and never before seen: a TRIPLE BACK DISMOUNT.  Yeah... no.  It's called a Magana in the code, look it up.  It's been like ten years now, for fuck's sake. 

I try to put myself in the writers' positions here, and wonder "If I had to make up a brand new skill, what would I call it?"  I would make up something like a "four and a half twisting McGlurginfliff to a punch front Horginboffin."  Because I know that it doesn't exist.  I would not choose a common element, and pretend that no one has ever heard of it. 

New bitchface?  Debatable.  

After this gongshow, the girls are back in the dorms, trying to comfort poor Payson.  Now, I know that whenever I'm torn up over a boy, what I like the most is when my BFF invites her boyfriend over, and sits on his lap in front of me.  

I'm sure she feels much better now.  Austin wants to help a little bit more, and tells Payson that Max is bi.  The girls have various reactions.  Lauren is surprised, but more because she didn't sense it beforehand.  Payson acts as if Austin told her Max was actually a robot, and doesn't understand how this could possibly happen.  Payson's usually cool, but she makes this shit all about her.  Max is going through a life altering period, and she makes it about her.  Typical.  She is so boggled, I mean, after all, he KISSED her!

And Lauren.  

And Austin.  

Later that evening, Kaylie is still trying to help poor lonely Payson, when finally, Lauren steps up and puts an end to this bullshit.  

As we all know, Lauren's not my favorite person on the show, but I really like what she has to say here.  She reminds Payson that she and Max only went out once or twice, and then got involved in a long distance "relationship" that was never more than sending a few letters back and forth.  What the fuck was she so upset about?  Yeah, it's harsh, but it needs to be said.  Girls Payson's age do this shit in real life all of the time.  A boy pays you a lick of attention, and now you're fucking OBSESSED and he's your entire life.  Get over it.  It wasn't you, but even it was you, who cares??  Over the years, we've come to expect this sort of skewed behavior from someone like Kaylie, but not from Payson, who somehow went from "I'm not having sex until the Olympics!" to "I can't go on because my pen pal is bi."  It's depressing, and I genuinely hope that this rant helps Payson wake up and move on.  

Lauren suggests that they go out and try to steal Otis from that creepy gang of wrestlers.  Turns out, Lauren made out with the creepy buffalo kid, and was able to extract some information.  Otis is hiding out somewhere on top of a roof.  No problem, right?

Since all of the doors are locked, and there are no stairs, there is only one viable option: Lauren must become a Twilight ninja, and flip her way onto the building.  

It's hard to see, but yeah, not only does she hurl herself into a flip onto the building, it's also done in weird super fast motion.  

That's not a man in a wig at all.  

Lauren has safely ninja'd her way onto the roof, as Payson and Kaylie keep watch on the street.  Lauren searches for Otis, but finds nothing.  And then she passes out.  Cue super dramatic fall. 

She comes to before too long, and rejoins the girls on the ground.  I'm assuming she triple-backed her way off of the roof.  The girls didn't find Otis, but they did find a Barbie with a hand written note.  Seems to boys scammed them, in what is the first of what I'm sure will be many ploys.  No doubt, Lauren will end up boning the main creepy.  Mark my words.  

Witnessing all of this is that pesky Wendy Capshaw.  The girls shoo her away, which probably pisses her off, because someone texts Coach McIntire to blab about what the Rock girls were doing all night.  Before he receives the mystery text, Coach and the sexy nutritionist are finally watching the video that Jordyn took of herself training.  

In true Make It or Break It fashion, we see a video of a girl who very obviously does a double back dismount off of bars.  But then Coach and wifey are both all "Holy balls, was that a... a TRIPLE BACK DISMOUNT???"  They show the "triple back" from multiple angles, so one would have to assume that Jordyn was able to find and set up many cameras to film herself with.  Whatever.  

Well, after that show, Coach has no choice but to invite Jordyn to come train for real.  He finds her in her tent, and tells her to pack her shit up and move into the dorms.  I wonder who she'll be living with....

Coach isn't done for the night, however.  He has called the Rock girls to a secret late night tribunal at some random campfire.  He explains to them that, guess what bitches, sometimes it's not about the team.  Well, not about THEIR team.  Fuck the Rock.  They need to stop being so damned cliquey, and understand that the best five girls will be chosen, regardless of their club affiliation.  To accept that NOW, and have each one fight to the death.  Three tributes from the same district cannot win, and that's all there is to that.  So start hating each other ASAP.  

In order to really drive home that they are all fighting one another, he has each girl burn her Rock warmup jacket in the fire.  Payson has a really hard time with this; for whatever reason, she's obsessed with her jacket.  But, it's either burn the overly expensive GK jacket, or be kicked from camp.  All three girls choose wisely, and burn their GK shit.  And with that, Jordyn emerges from the shadows as Coach introduces them to their new teammate.  Dun dun DUNNNNNNN

First impressions?  Mine was a resounding MEH.  There are so many new aspects to the show, and yet instead we're faced with endless scenes and shots of the girls being super buddy BFFs.  WE GET IT, you're fucking best friends now.  It really was just an infodump episode, which I guess was necessary, but nevertheless pretty boring. 

I'm excited to see what they do with this Jordyn character.  I like her, I do.  Which means they'll probably turn her into some cartoonish version of someone I'll inevitably hate.  

Until then, friends, may your week be lovely, and your skills be brand new!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

How I Learned to Dougie

Gabby effing Douglas.  

What is it about this girl that positively enraptures me?  Here I am, an adult woman who hasn't done as much as a back handspring in years (except last summer in Chicago on my bed in the hotel, and I faceplanted.  It hurt.)  Of course, I have followed elite gymnastics very closely since the early 90s, and have had my favorites (Moceanu, Dawes) and my not-so-favorites (Khorkina, cough.) 

I love watching gymnastics.  I love learning about the sport.  There is always something else to notice, something new (and probably stupid) about the code to pick up and focus on.  It is so satisfying to engulf yourself in this information, and yet, it totally sucks.  The more you know, the more you are able to criticize.  What was once "Oooh, she's got spunk!" slowly turns into "Ugh.  She has the worst counter-rotation during her release moves."  Sometimes, I feel that it takes away from my ability to fully enjoy gymnastics the way I used to when I was younger.  I see so much of what I don't like, and so little of what I do like

But then there's Gabby.

She has flaws.  I'm sure she does.  I don't see them.  Well, that's a lie, her FX choreo needs a serious dose of Travis Wall STAT.  But in my eyes, she is absolutely golden.  But it's not just her gymnastics that I am so wildly impressed with.  It is her as a person.

I mean, whatever, I don't KNOW her as a person, but that's the thing about Dougie: I don't think you have to KNOW her to know her.  Here is this girl, barely 16, who is making huge sacrifices to achieve her dreams.

"Oh, but Spanny, EVERY gymnast makes sacrifices!" 

That's true, but this is something else.  Girls have been moving away from home to train for years.  Big whoop.  However, Dougie's a military kid.  That shit is a whole different ballgame.  I know that many families are close, but there is a different type of closeness inside of a family where a member is fighting overseas.  There is a desperate closeness.

When my brother and sister were deployed, I did the only thing I thought I could do: I moved my ass back home to be near my parents.

I left LA, and bunkered down in Winterville, MN so that my family could at least have a semblance of togetherness.  I did it for myself, for my parents, but also for my brother and sister.  It helped them knowing that I was near my parents, so I could be there for THEM.

It was the least I could do.

So imagine being a father who is away from his children for months, a year at a time.  Not only is he worried about his own safety, of course he's worried about his family back home.  Now imagine that father's little girl is an elite gymnast.  Of course I'm just making assumptions here, but I imagine that one must feel an incredible mix of bittersweet fear.  What man wouldn't be so endlessly proud of his daughter when she's as talented as any high level gymnast is?  Such pride, and yet sadness because he doesn't get to be there to support her, to witness all of the glory days for himself.  And the fear that I think any human has while watching little girls fling themselves sky high in the hopes of pleasing one Bruno Grandi.

Dad deals with that, and daughter deals with that.  She looks young, but she's 16.  Gabby is surely aware of the worry she causes BOTH of her parents.  I'm sure there is a lot of pressure, and desire really, to stay home, and be safe. 

But if there's one thing Gabby's not, it's SAFE


The SAFE thing for her, and her family to do would be to continue training in Virginia, where she was really, really good, but not GREAT.  But she didn't want to be safe, she wanted to be GREAT, so she packed her shit up and moved to IOWA.  Who chooses to go to Iowa??  (I say this as a Minnesotan.)  She left her friends, she left her family, she left her coaches, and pretty much her entire life just to pursue this one thing:  

That is some ballsy shit right there.

So how does this affect me, Spanny F. Tampson?

Gabby was quoted during one of those news fluff pieces regarding local athletes,

This little girl inspires the SHIT out of me.  I assume she meant inspiring more of the young gymnast crowd, and not so much the old curmudgeonly cat lady crowd.  But this little girl inspires me.

Here is a young, teenaged girl who is succeeding, and failing, in front of the world.  I am TERRIFIED of succeeding or failing, and there's not a soul watching me.  I genuinely don't know how she does it.


Those are words to live by.  Those are MY words to live by.

I think that inside every woman is a little Dougie.  Someone who wants to fly high, and to achieve her goals, adversity be damned.  Someone who can faceplant in front of thousands, and still walk away with a smile.  A girl who goes after her dreams, even though they've never been promised to her.

I wish I was more like Dougie.  Every single day.

From child athletes to creepy cat-hoarding adults, Gabby Douglas inspires us all.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

you wanna party? it's $500 for kissing and $10,000 for snuggling; end of list.

The Olympic year.  So many arguments to have.  Who will win team gold?  What about the AA?  Is Romania screwed now that they've seemed to forgo bars entirely?  How many legs will be broken this year on our way to trials?

As we all know, I prefer to focus on the more superficial aspects of the sport.  Like hair and outfits.  And in my opinion, it is never too early to start trashing discussing leotards. 

Let's start with a controversial topic: #hotpinknation.  I have a very long list of shit I think is stupid.  This is near the top.

Nastia, I will give you credit.  This worked.  FOR YOU.  Back in 2008.  OMG, she won the AA in stunning fashion while wearing her signature color!  It really was a great moment, and probably made you a shitton of money.  But now it is time to let it die.  It was uncomfortable to watch every USAG girl in the following years be washed out while wearing the apparently now patriotic pink.

"Look at me!  I'm the new Nastia!"

Oh my god.  Let it die.  I think I can speak for the entire planet when I say 


What with Nastia on the selection committee, and for all we know in the UB lineup, expect to see more horrid #hotpinkgarbage with a huge picture of Nastia's face on it.  

Now, one might argue that Nastia isn't in charge of what leotards USAG wears.  I'd say you're wrong, but that's a different argument for a different day.  Let's say Martha was in charge?

Bitch and complain about Martha and #hotpinknation as I will, nothing compares to the atrocities that countries like Italy has rained upon us.  What kind of pornographic nightmare will they lay on us this year?

So completely appropriate.  That said, there are ways to wear a completely fugly leotard without displaying all of your lady bits.  Or prepubescent teenage girl bits, whatever.  One word: sparkles.

Nothing says "I hate fashion" like a forest of bedazzled sparkles. No country is immune from this shit.  It's never a question of "Do you want sparkles on your leotard?"  It's always "Where can I put MILLIONS of sparkles on this thing?!

Some countries take all of the guesswork out of leotards, and just wear whatever other countries wore a few years earlier.  For example, Russia seems to just LOVE old American leotards.  We're lucky, for the most part, in that they take old American designs and make them a little less garish, a little more tasteful.  But I still wonder if there's a GK outlet somewhere near Round Lake. 

"Oh Spanny.  You hate ALL the leotards.  Will there ever be one that you approve of??" 

Yes.  Yes there is one I would approve of.

Now THAT'S a leotard!  It would look stunning on everyone, really.  We need to make this happen.

I do enjoy when leotards make a statement.  Do I like it when that statement is "Come and see how great my jugs look in this bedazzled mesh!"  No.  I hate that.  I like leotards that show how athletic and artistic the sport is.  However, if a powerful statement must be made via leotard, then I hope it's this one: