Ripples is compiled and written by Lenny Giteck
The Top 10 Ripples Stories of 2011
Given that approximately 125 items appeared in Ripples in 2011, choosing the top 10 is no easy task. Obviously, this is a matter of personal taste…in which case, legendary (in his own mind) Ripples expert Lenny Giteck gets to pick.
And the winners are…
Documented: Real Men Do
So, you're a guy who wants to prove to the world just how secure you are in your masculinity but you hate quiche. Why not take up synchronized swimming?
True, doing so might garner you a fair amount of smirking, punctuated by the occasional bout of snickering or guffaws. Ripples is reminded of the classic "Saturday Night Live" sendup in which Harry Shearer and Martin Short portrayed a ludicrously inept synchronized swimming duo. (To watch part of the sketch, see the link below.)
Still, as the old saying goes, "He who laughs last, laughs best." In this case, the last laugh just might go to the Swedish men and one American male who formed the group Stockholm Art Swim Gents and become avid and accomplished practitioners of aquatic ballet.
Although one might assume synchronized swimming is solely the domain of graceful women, it turns out that more than a few dudes perform the watery art form. Indeed, there are international competitions for all-male teams from countries such as Holland, Germany, Japan, Bulgaria, and Italy — including the prestigious World Cup event in which the Stockholm gentlemen eventually competed.
The sole American member of the group, expat filmmaker Dylan Williams, chronicled its tribulations and successes on video, which he then turned into a noteworthy documentary called "Men Who Swim." It recently premiered on the PBS "Independent Lens" series.
An article on the Web site Technorati.com characterized the documentary this way: "Entertaining and inspiring, 'Men Who Swim' is also humorous, campy and fascinating. It is the story of friendship, love, family, competition and coming to terms with one's life — if that's even possible."
Partying Prince Harry Falls (or Jumps)
Fully Clothed into Nightclub Pool
You remember Prince Harry — the other one, the younger brother who developed quite a reputation as a wild party animal whose judgment was not always up to British royal snuff. One episode that comes to mind: the time he dressed as a Nazi for a costume party — apparently never having been told about the devastating impact of the Blitz on Britain during World War II.
Then there were the photos that went viral on the Internet not long ago: They showed Harry cracking up uncontrollably behind his 90-year-old grandfather Prince Philip, who appears to have passed royal gas at an inopportune moment. Other members of the family — all of them lined up on a balcony — managed to keep relatively stiff upper lips despite the noxious attack.
In any event, Harry recently was partying at Veneranda, an open-air nightclub in Croatia, when he either fell or jumped into the establishment’s swimming pool. According to the Web site news.ninemsn.com.au, following his fully clothed entrance into the water “a bare-footed and soaking-wet Harry then hauled himself out of the pool and carried on dancing with fellow clubbers.”
The report continued, “An onlooker told the newspaper [that] Harry ‘seemed really tipsy’ and was untroubled at being the center of attention. ‘Everyone thought it was really funny and Harry was laughing his head off.’”
The 26-year-old prince continued dancing right on the edge of the pool, allegedly lost his balance again and went into the water for an encore performance.
Photos: To see photographic evidence that British royals ain’t what they used to be, click here.
Video: To view a blurry video of the incident, probably taken with a cell phone, click here. The video tends to support the “he fell in” theory.
$1,500 Solar-Powered Bikini
Recharges Electronic Devices
Who says there’s nothing new under the sun? Now there’s the Solar Bikini — and for a mere $500 to $1,500, wealthy sunbathing ladies can recharge their smartphones or media players right from their swimsuit.
The solar bikini is the brainchild of New York-based designer Andrew Schneider. Each bikini — available through custom order — “sports 40 thin and flexible photovoltaic strips connected by conductive thread, which ends at a USB port,” according to the technology Web site gizmag.com.
The Gizmag report continues: “As no energy is actually stored in the bikini, the designer says that wearers can even go for a swim while sporting the high-tech bikini, although charging while going for a dip is not recommended. Once back from the water, the Solar Bikini needs to be completely dried before any device is attached, or it won't function properly.”
Schneider’s next project is the iDrink, men’s solar swimming trunks that will be able to power a small cooler to chill beer at the beach.
Photo: To learn more and see a sunbathing beauty wearing a Solar Bikini, click here.
Marlon Brando: Inventor of Traction-
Optimizing Shoes for Swimming Pools
What comes to mind when you think of the legendary actor Marlon Brando? Great films such as “On the Waterfront,” “A Streetcar Named Desire,” “Julius Caesar,” “The Godfather” and “Apocalypse Now”?
How about traction-optimizing swimming shoes?
It seems that Brando was not only an enormously talented thespian; he also was an imaginative inventor whose ideas — according to his patent attorney, Kevin Costanza — included the aforementioned wet footwear.
Costanza (quoted on the Web site movieline.com) recalls that Brando “had these shoes that you can wear in the pool, that would increase friction as you walk on the bottom of the pool to give you a better workout.”
In addition, the actor invented an advanced system for, of all things, tuning conga drums. (Apparently, he was an avid conga drummer.) The movieline.com report notes that the Academy Award winner received a number of patents for his inventions.
Too bad Brando didn’t pursue his other career as an inventor more vigorously. He coulda been a contendah! He coulda been somebody!
Aria Ready for an Underwater
Opera Staged in a Pool?
Ripples has heard of swimming with dolphins, sharks, stingrays and koi…but swimming with opera singers?
In case you think Ripples is making up this item (we wish we were that clever and creative!) or that this actually was a skit on “Saturday Night Live,” here is the report, verbatim, from the Web site thelocal.de (“Germany’s News in English”):
A specially composed opera with a difference premiered in a Berlin swimming pool this week, with singers performing in and out and even under the water. "Aquaria Palaoa" is the brainchild of Claudia Herr, a champion swimmer in her youth before turning to singing. Playing the lead role, she dives into the Stadtbad Neukölln pool in her green evening dress.
With the help of air tanks strapped to her back, Herr sings underwater, with the whale-like sounds she produces transmitted onto speakers situated around the swimming pool with the help of special microphones. Her voice and those of other singers — who also sing underwater but without oxygen tanks — are mixed with sounds recorded 100 meters (330 feet) under an ice shelf in Antarctica. The orchestra stays dry, seated around the pool.
The opera tells the story of a young woman looking for the elixir of eternal youth. In her quest she comes across a killer whale — played by a man in a black costume — and a choir of seals. There is also a message on climate change and pollution, with rubbish bins placed in the pool.
A green evening dress with air tanks? Clearly a major fashion faux pas! Ripples has only one comment to make regarding the underwater opera: It’s not over till the fat lady floats…or produces whale-like sounds.
Gwyneth Paltrow Burned in Freak Accident
— Swimming Pool Prevents Worse Injury
According to an article on Torontosun.com, Academy Award-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow, who bought a rotisserie barbecue last year, suffered a freak accident this past summer while cooking duck for a family gathering. Paltrow described the incident during an appearance on Britain's “The Graham Norton Show”:
You have to put drip pans underneath the duck, but I'm such a moron that I didn't realize one of the burners was on underneath the drip pans, so one of the pans caught fire. I don't know if you've ever seen duck fat on fire, but it's like a nuclear weapon; the whole thing exploded, and we had to throw bits of it in the swimming pool.
Although Paltrow’s eyebrows were burned off, she suffered no major injuries. Whoever had the presence of mind to throw the burning mess into the family pool may have prevented even more serious burns.
Paltrow won an Academy Award for Best Actress in 1998 for her performance in the movie “Shakespeare in Love.” Ironically, she has become something of a celebrity chef in the years that followed.
Mystery: Did a UFO Drain an
Argentine Swimming Pool?
According to a report on the Web site UFOdigest.com, the 16,000-gallon swimming pool at the Hotel Maykel in Justiniano Posse, Argentina, was inexplicably drained completely dry in less than a day.
After being notified of the strange occurrence by the pool maintenance man, hotel owner Lilo Garcia was astonished to find that not only was there no water in the pool itself, there wasn't any on the surrounding deck as well. Said Garcia: "I don't understand, because when we drain the pool to clean it, such an amount of water takes a day and a half to drain. We flood the patio and the water runs down the street all the way to the canal. But this time there was nothing! Not a single drop of water anywhere around."
The possibility of theft by earthlings is being discounted because it would have taken five water trucks to drain the pool, and no such vehicles were observed. Nor did it appear to be a case of cracked plaster, since the maintenance man conducted a thorough examination and found the shell to be completely intact. Indeed, the pool was subsequently refilled and held water perfectly well.
"So," asks UFOdigest.com, "who stole the water?" Or as Ripples would put it, was this a genuine Close Encounter of the Wet Kind? And if the extraterrestrials were so thirsty, why wouldn't they drain a Coke or 7UP factory instead? Or a Starbucks? Or a liquor store? Could it be that on their planet, chlorine is considered a tasty and refreshing treat?
Ripples awaits further evidence that may offer answers to these and other questions.
Photo: To see an artist's rendering of what the possible alien H2O heist on may have looked like, click here.
Affinity for Soviet Busts
Note: This Ripples item appeared before the you-know-what hit the fan in the Schwarzenegger home, when it became clear that statues of ex-Soviet leaders were not the only busts The Terminator found intriguing. Sadly, the Schwarzenegger-Shriver marriage did not survive revelations about the family’s housekeeper and Arnold’s top-secret son.
Why did Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger adorn the deck around his swimming pool with statues of deceased Soviet luminaries?
According to the Web site TorontoSun.com, “The Terminator star reveals he asked friends in Russian wrestling circles to send him a good bust after the Soviet Union fell in 1991 and statues and billboards featuring the faces of Communism were being destroyed — and the dead leaders kept coming for years afterwards.
“Schwarzenegger explains, ‘They sent me this bust of Lenin, but the problem was they kept sending me more and more statues. I'd put them by the pool at home. Andropov and Chernenko and Brezhnev — all these old guys were around our swimming pool.’”
The report goes on to reveal that Mrs. Terminator — Maria Shriver — thought her husband had gone bonkers; eventually, she had the statues hauled away. But according to “Entertainment Weekly,” it was not before Mr. Terminator managed to save one of the Communist artworks — the first-to-arrive bust of Lenin — which now adorns the desk in his home office.
All Ripples can say is, good thing the McCarthy Red Scare era is long gone, or Ahhhnold — including his former world-champion biceps, triceps, delts, pecs and glutes — would be toast. (Still, ol’ Joe McCarthy must be spinning in his grave.) Given the statuary evidence, Ripples can’t help but ask: Could The Terminator possibly be a closet pinko-commie stooge? Say it ain’t so, Arnie…say it ain’t so!
Public Pool in England to
Be Heated by Dead People
Ripples is always eager to learn of renewable energy sources, but the latest being proposed in the U.K. — the bodies of deceased humans — does give one pause and raises many questions. For example, would this include members of the royal family?
The town council in Radditch, near the British city of Birmingham, has approved a plan to use waste heat from the crematorium of a local mortuary to heat a sports center being constructed right next door. The center, which is scheduled to be completed next year, is slated to have a swimming pool, which also will be heated by the human remains.
A story on the Web site NYTimes.com reported that "[town] Councilor Carole Gandy said the plan was consistent with the need for energy efficiency and had been widely backed by local residents once officials had explained the technology involved, which she described as common elsewhere in Europe."
Not everyone was so enthusiastic, however. Also from NYTimes.com: "Roger McKenzie, regional secretary for Unison, Britain's largest public sector union, condemned the plan as 'sick and an insult to local residents.' "
The novel heating idea reflects the fact that many communities in the U.K. are severely strapped financially due to deep cuts in their budgets. (The plan allegedly would save Radditch more than $23,000 per year.)
The Web site Dvorak.org quoted Simon Thomas of the local Thomas Brothers Funeral Directors as saying, "I don't know how comfortable people would feel about the swimming pool being heated due to the death of a loved one. I think it's a bit strange and eerie."
And the top — or should we say topless? — Ripples story of 2011…
Screen Legend Marilyn Monroe’s
Movie Outtake Swimming Nude
Had she lived, movie icon and sex goddess Marilyn Monroe would now be 85 years old — an image Ripples is not sure he wants to contemplate. For better or worse, she did not live to see old age and the wrinkles and drooping it brings; instead, Marilyn is forever frozen in time as a beautiful, young, blonde bombshell (she was 36 when she passed away).
To demonstrate her eternal super-hottie status, Ripples presents an outtake filmed for “Something’s Got to Give,” the movie that was never completed because of Marilyn’s untimely departure from the scene (due to either an accidental or intentional drug overdose, or being murdered, possibly by the Mafia, the CIA or the Kennedy boys, depending on which conspiracy theory you believe).
Anyway, one thing is certain: Marilyn is no longer with us. Luckily, we can still enjoy her curvaceous pulchritude in this swimming outtake. Caution: Although the clip is quite tame by today’s standards, Ripples advises anyone who is offended by female nudity — even when the female is Marilyn Monroe — not to watch it.
Video: To see a nude, gorgeous, giggling Marilyn Monroe cavorting in a swimming pool, click here. Enjoy!
With that, Ripples brings 2011 to a close; we look forward to visiting with you again in 2012. Until then, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year and happy watershaping to you!