Arts & Entertainment, Sports

Picking Splinters: Of Billy and Bob: Fitness and Football

Resolutions are a funny thing for me. Usually, New Year’s has done nothing to inspire me. The fact is, it’s cold and any fitness-related activity is usually drowned out by a more pressing desire to sit on my couch and watch college basketball or hockey.

However, it turns out that the above mentioned fitness plan has its drawbacks and when nutrition buffs talk about a “high protein diet,” they aren’t referring to the Meat Lover’s Pizza and wings combo from Dominos. The results of adopting such a diet for a few weeks in a row, does usually generate enough of a phobia to convince me that unless I get my act together, five to ten years down the road I’ll need to erect some sort of elaborate mirror system just to see my shoelaces.

As part of the pre-emptive campaign to combat such a future state, I decided to cave and try one of those Billy Blanks DVDs that my girlfriend had been pushing on me for the past few months. I’d been extremely hesitant to try one because I once tried one of those workout DVDs for Pilates. Not only did I find the production laughable (copious amounts of spandex-clad middle-aged men does not encourage me to watch the program), the morning after I also experienced a stomach pain I would liken to various scenes from the “Alien” movies.

Nevertheless I consented and this weekend I tried it for the first time, the scars may never heal.

The thing is cultish, it really is. Blanks is an odd enough cat, but stranger still are the women and workout drones behind him. The majority of the extras look and behave like some sort of cultists, like they were actually enjoying the burning sensation that slowly enveloped my limbs. They whooped and hollered and followed all of Blanks’ instructions as he walked through their midst yelling questions like “What kind of training is this?” To which the drones would respond: “Basic training,” thus making me feel even more inadequate that my t-shirt could have drowned a small mammal just ten minutes into the workout.

Meanwhile, Blanks wandered through the drones whispering things like “give yourself to Billy,” playing on female fears by announcing that you need to be “fit to fight for your life” and pointing out the women in the group whose abs could deflect attacks from most conventional weapons … and, Billy tells us, that’s after they’ve had 16.4 children.

This was lame. I didn’t want to be a part of this. I didn’t want to give into Billy. Who is this guy anyway? Didn’t he shoot himself in the head in “The Last Boy Scout?” Who is he to inspire me? And besides, I’m in a good place right now and I feel pretty good about me. I found more inspiration in raging against Blanks and the whooping groupies, keeping time by rattling off curses like Regan in “The Exorcist.”

Why do people think this particular avenue of fitness is fun?

Does this sort of workout really make people happy? Do those extras from the DVD really mean it when they “WHOOOOO!” like Ric Flair? Or more recently, Eddie Kim? After filming do Blanks and his disciples retire to the compound for Kool-Aid and carols?

Me? Well, I thought the goal in life was happiness and right now my hamstrings are NOT happy. So, I’ve decided to pursue another fitness related activity — The Billy Blanks’ Discus Toss.


Are You Ready For Some More of the Same?


Was anyone else a little disappointed in the Sunday Night Football broadcast of the Manning Bowl, sponsored by the Manning family (or was it Direct TV, Mastercard, Sprint and Gatorade? It was hard to tell, seeing as how Peyton starred in all of them.).

I know that Al Michaels and John Madden are coming from Monday Night Football, but did the broadcast have to appear so derivative? If I can channel my inner Tom Shales for a second, I’d like to gripe about how NBC’s rendition appeared to be a barely-different copy of ABC’s longtime franchise.

The starting lineup announcements at the beginning of the game, Pink’s intro song a la Hank Williams, even the player of the game feature, which moved from the character-filled horse trailer, to the “Top of the Rock” in New York City. The placement of the latter, a New York City skyscraper at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, might carry significance to various executives at NBC, but I’m not sure it resonates with America’s football consciousness like the trailer did.

The broadcast wasn’t a bad one, though I wish they didn’t make Bob Costas fly through the halftime highlights like the Micro Machines spokesman on crack, and Andrea Kremer had crunched her numbers before pronouncing a 59-yard field goal to be within the range of Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri. I was just disappointed that there were a plethora of weakly derived similarities and very few innovations that I could find beyond a relocated score bar.

The future of the sports, which has produced a fan base obsessed with fantasy football and Madden’s brand of games, seems to be interactive. Perhaps that’s an avenue broadcasts can pursue as the season progresses.

And please, will someone tell Jerome Bettis that he’s supposed to be a journalist now, and journalists aren’t supposed to run across playing fields in expensive suits holding their crotch. Though, admittedly, I would pay money to see Mike Wallace do the same.