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Friday, January 30, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 20.0° F  Fair
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Collecting MadVideos -- Olympics '08: Competitive Zen Gardening by Guerilla Friday

As the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing draw to a close on Sunday, so too do the thousands of hours of television and online broadcasts lighting up screens around the globe. One of the most familiar elements of this programming is that of the biographical sketch, so ubiquitous and formulaic in the last few decades that it has become a standard sports broadcasting cliché, particularly those for dedicated athletes that are otherwise ignored outside the context of the quadrennial competition.

When it comes to the Games, the 90-second inspirational promo is only a shade more cliché than the gradual inflation of Olympic sports and affiliated disciplines, particularly those that are based on judges' points rather than times or scores. Think synchronized swimming or rhythmic gymnastics, both of which started to be contested at the 1984 Los Angeles Games. And while they haven't been included in any program so far, billiards, bowling, bridge, and chess, among other various other competitive activities, are recognized as Olympic sports by the International Olympic Committee.

Together, these staples of the Olympiad and its accompanying media coverage are ripe for parody. Imagine the sport of competitive zen gardening, and its emergence in the spotlight of the world's biggest athletics stage. That's the idea behind a new video short created by Guerilla Friday, a sketch comedy filmmaking group based in Madison.

"For decades, competitive zen gardening has lurked in the shadows of underground caves..." intones the narrator, who goes on to introduce the two contenders for the gold medal, who else but the upstart phenom and the colossus defending champion. This mock promo for the newest Olympics event follows.

"Utilizing and adapting to the concept of guerrilla filmmaking," reads Guerilla Friday's description of its mission, "we meet once every one or two weeks with the goal of brainstorming and filming a complete short in a 6-8 hour time period." The concept is similar to other time-based short filmmaking exercises and competitions, and a format that is well suited to getting the jump on the topicality of the Olympics.

And what better place is there for a zen gardening showdown than along the breakwater piers extending from the Tenney Locks, as presented in this promo. Should competitive rock gardening not sweep the planet in time for the 2012 Olympic Games in London, aficionados can always hold out hold out hope for the following Olympiad, particularly should Chicago beat out Tokyo, Madrid, and Rio de Janeiro as the 2016 host city. If Camp Randall was floated as a venue for preliminary soccer matches, why can't other locations around Madison join in the fun, be they for mock sports or not?

If you have a video about Madison or by Madisonians, please consider adding it to the Isthmus YouTube group or send a message.

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