I’m a list maker, and when life gets really busy with deadlines, etc., I go into list overdrive. Which is why, while cleaning up the mess from the September IRON MAN after we put it to bed, I found multiple versions of a list titled, alternatively, “To Blog,” “Things to Blog About” and “Blog, Dammit!” (I said I made lists; didn’t say I was tidy.)
With a new round of pro contests getting under way in Houston last week, it seems a good time to cross a few of those topics off the list…
1) Kelly Ryan and Craig Titus—Oh, the Melodrama of It All
So in the end, he sacrificed himself to save her. I couldn’t help thinking that when I first read about the plea agreement that bodybuilding’s former favorite bad boy and the one-time routine queen of fitness entered into with the Clark County, Nevada, district attorney’s office. That I didn’t know Melissa James gives me a certain distance from the horror suffered by her friends and family. I did know Kelly Ryan and Craig Titus, however, for long time as things go in the physique world. There was a lot going on with them that seemed larger than life—and not just because they were “bodybuilders”—so I can’t help seeing the larger strokes of the events surrounding James’ death in December 2005 and what came after. We may never know all the details of what happened when James, the live-in assistant of physique-world notables Titus and Ryan, died in Las Vegas, but the broad outlines of the story—the Jaguar burning in the desert; the charred body in the trunk; the Thelma-and-Louise cross-country run; the showdown with police in a Massachusetts mini-mall; and the 2 1/2 years of court appearances, redemption seeking, (alleged) escape plots and some pretty tough jail time for Titus if you can believe what you view on YouTube—are the stuff of which HBO series are made. Or at least a Lifetime movie.
As the police built their case, the Tituses have maintained a solid front—basically, he didn’t roll over on her, and she didn’t roll over on him—and I can’t help thinking that there’s a kind of code being upheld (yes, even bad boys have codes). Also that in the recesses of his consciousness, in that place where we all go to figure out how to live with ourselves, whatever we have done, Craig takes responsibility for having brought himself and his wife to a point in life where the scenario of December ’05 could occur.
So he’s pleading guilty to second-degree murder plus kidnapping and arson to save her from being convicted of murder (though Kelly will plead guilty to lesser charges), and he has asked to speak at the sentencing, which is set for July 18, so he can address James’ mother. “He has never had an opportunity to talk to her or say he was sorry or to discuss how this unfolded,” his attorney, Marc Saggese, is quoted in news accounts.
Is Titus sincere about that—will we really hear the truth? I’m not getting into that conversation, but I can tell you one thing. In the battle of fiction vs. real life for which is more bizarre, real life wins every time. You just can’t make this stuff up.
Click here for Las Vegas Review-Journal’s story on the plea agreement.
Photo: Kelly and Craig at the ’01 Arnold Classic and in love. I like to remember them this way.
2) Female-Muscle Mania—but With Restraint, Ladies
Regarding the IFBB’s (and NPC’s) current campaign against excessive muscularity, conditioning and shoulder development on figure physiques, I for one am glad to see those shoulders gone, gone, gone. Somehow over the years the remedy for a lacking V-taper evolved to building deltoids that would pad a linebacker. For a while I thought I was the only one who noticed because physiques like that were winning—I can recall one fitness diva who had a different set of shoulders every time she stepped onstage—but perhaps I was just ahead of the curve. Double-decker delts seem to be part of the ever-evolving cycle of size, striations and let’s-take-a-step-back letters that figure goes through every few years. It’s the inevitable consequence of trying to build X-frames without filling out the rest of the X.
As any follower of fashion will tell you, big shoulders don’t stay in style forever (just long enough for you to spend way too much on a leather coat that will scream ’80s for years to come). Maybe the current dial-down will persuade a few more women to fill out the X and move over to bodybuilding. So far it’s had a positive effect on the pro-figure ranks—anything that encourages symmetry and proportion gets a thumbs-up here—and based on photos from the junior-national shows, that seems to have carried over to the amateurs. We’ll see how the bodies are flowing at the Masters Nationals this coming weekend and at the USA at the end of this month.
Photos: Trending toward symmetry at the ’08 NPC Junior Nationals—JulieAnn Kulla, the B class and overall champ (above), and Sue Upson, A class winner (below), are soon to be seen at a pro show near you.
3) Thanks to Millard Baker
Millard Baker’s thoughtful commentary on the synergy of the so-called legitimate and illegitimate media—in response to something I wrote in my June 5 blog on the tragic death of Amanda Savell—was right on the money. Check it out in the entry below. In the spirit of full disclosure I admit that it includes a very sweet compliment to me, but I was nodding vigorously in agreement before I got to that part.
Thank you, Mr. B. I couldn’t have said it better myself.