Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Keeping Up

TigerBlog would never watch "Keeping Up With The Kardashians" if he didn't have a good reason.

In TB's opinion, the Kardashian show more than any other captures so many of the ills of contemporary American popular culture - and really American society as a whole.

Let's face it. These are people who are narcissists and who will do anything for fame and fortune. They have no discernible talent, other than having been in the right place at the right time when reality TV kicked into high gear - and very little in the way of shame.

And so they've spent years and years living their lives with cameras pointed at them. In fairness, who wouldn't start to think that they were fascinating if every little piece of one's life were part of a TV show?  

Of course you have to hand it to them. They have achieved great fame and fortune, which is America today is what the whole goal seems to be. Find whatever shortcut you can to wealth and notoriety, and it was really the Kardashian family that wrote the playbook of how to do so.

TB hates when he's going through the channels and stumbles upon it for a second before he changes the channel. It makes him feel unclean just to see that much of it.

So if he watched a segment of it Sunday night, there must have been a good reason, right?

There was.

This episode centered around Bruce Jenner's birthday - and his daughter's coming 18th birthday and desire to buy a beach house in Malibu, because, you know, isn't that what 18-year-olds do?

Anyway, there was a time that Bruce Jenner was the studliest of studs, the Olympic gold medalist in the decathlon, the greatest athlete in the world, a genuine American sporting icon. Seriously, after the 1976 Olympics, Jenner was to marketing in this country what Michael Jordan or Peyton Manning would become. That's how huge he was.

Now? He's just part of the trainwreck.

Anyway, his step-daughters wanted to do something nice for his birthday though, and they hit upon the idea of surprising him by inviting his 1976 Olympic decathlon teammates to California for his dinner.

Both of those teammates were named Fred. One of them is Fred Samara, the longtime Princeton men's track and field coach.

And that's how TigerBlog came to watch "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" Sunday.

Actually, he didn't watch the whole thing. He relied on his coworker Kristy McNeil, an avid fan of the show, to let him know when Fred was about to be on.

When TB put it on, he saw the barely recognizable Bruce Jenner dressed in a Princeton Track and Field shirt. And there was a part where Kim Kardashian looks up the 1976 Olympic decathlon team and then calls Fred to invite him the party.

Fred - both Freds, Samara and Dixon, actually - is then shown walking into where the family has gathered. Kim's concern was that Bruce wouldn't recognize the two Freds after all these years, but that's hardly the case.

TB remembers when Fred went out to California for the party/filming. It was awhile ago.

And there he was on TV Sunday night.

It went as well as it could have for Samara, with the Princeton Track and Field t-shirt and with a fairly respectable treatment by the narcissists, the ones who could have been condescending without too much effort.

When TB spoke to Samara yesterday, he was pleased with the way it went. And TB could tell he wasn't the first person to ask him about it.

If Samara was uncomfortable with the whole thing, he'll be much more in his element this weekend, when Princeton competes in the Ivy League Heptagonal championships at Dartmouth.

From his bio:
As head coach, Samara has guided the Tigers to 35 Ivy League titles, 17 indoor, 14 outdoor and four in cross country. Since 2000 alone, Samara had guided the Tigers to 12 Ivy League track & field titles, winning eight in indoor track and field and four in outdoor. His team posted an Ivy League triple crown in 2010-11 as Princeton became just the 10th program in NCAA history to sweep all six titles (men and women) in a single academic year and did it again in 2011-12.

As for indoor Heps,  the men's winner has been either Princeton or Cornell every year since 1994 except for one year, 1997, when Penn won the title. Princeton won in 2010, 2011 and 2012 before Cornell regained the championship last year.

Samara looks like he could still be a decathlete all these years later. His workouts are a standard part of daily life in Jadwin Gym, and he doesn't have an ounce of fat on him. 

Yeah, he's way more athlete/coach than reality TV star. 

His cameo appearance Sunday was more than enough for him. And for TigerBlog, who will watch again when another Princeton coach is on.

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