August 11th, 2008
03:18 PM ET

Admiring Michael Phelps (and feeling a little dirty about it)

The Olympics have already produced some amazing images - and last night might have been the finest yet.

Jason Lezak’s incredible finish in the 4 x 100 freestyle relay swimming event, which enabled Michael Phelps to continue his quest for a record amount of Olympic gold, was phenomenal. Lezak, swimming the final lap for the U.S. team, finished the race a slim eight-hundredths of a second ahead of Alain Bernard and the French team. The U.S. quartet - Lezak, Phelps, Garrett Weber-Gale and Cullen Jones - set a new world record in the process.

But, for us, that spectacular finish wasn’t the image that lingered. It was Phelps’ victory dance, arms thrust in the air, showing his chiseled body to perfection. Instead of wondering just how Lezak saved the day, many women (us, for example) were left wondering just how Phelps could have molded himself into such an incredible physical specimen in his skintight Speedo.

And we realized how young the athletes are, and how old we have become.

Now, is it so terrible to admire the athletes for their bodies as well as for their skills? After all, our partner publication, Sports Illustrated, has showcased female athletes in swimsuits for years - even if the swimsuit isn’t their usual uniform (or, for that matter, isn’t made for swimming).

And yet … can you feel exhilarated and dirty at the same time? Exactly how old is too old to appreciate the physical gifts that athletes have been blessed with?

- Audrey Irvine and Jo Parker, CNN

Filed under: Uncategorized
August 11th, 2008
11:46 AM ET

Isaac Hayes, 1942-2008

Of course all the Isaac Hayes obituaries are leading with “Theme from ‘Shaft,’ ” the No. 1 song that won Hayes an Oscar and Grammy and became his most famous hit.

Isaac Hayes was an accomplished writer, producer and singer.

And then they mention his performance as Chef in “South Park,” which earned Hayes a whole new generation of fans (many of whom can recite the lyrics to “Chocolate Salty Balls” from memory).

But let’s not forget about Hayes’ other contributions: writer, producer, and - yes - fashion plate.

Through his involvement with Stax Records, the Memphis label that was home to Sam and Dave, Otis Redding, Carla Thomas and Booker T. and the MGs, Hayes - with partner David Porter - created some of the most indelible soul classics: “Soul Man,” “Hold On, I’m Comin’ ” (which, legend has it, was inspired by a bathroom break), “I Thank You.”

He then expanded the genre with his 1969 album “Hot Buttered Soul,” which consisted of four songs - one of them a monumental 18-minute version of Jimmy Webb’s “By the Time I Get to Phoenix.” “With the release of this album, Motown suddenly seemed manufactured and James Brown a bit too theatrical,” writes’s Jason Birchmeier.

And the Hayes look? Unforgettable: proudly bald, heavily jeweled, wearing flowing outfits befitting an African king. “It was almost as if he was made to be a musical god,” writes The Associated Press’ Nekesa Mumbi Moody.

We can dig it.

- Todd Leopold, Entertainment Producer

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