WINTHROPBy Ashley Lodato

All that talk of thongs in last week’s column gives me a perfect segue into Gene Shull’s latest endeavor: a body building competition in Wenatchee. The Iron Mountain Championships is an amateur contest where participants are judged on their muscles and levels of fitness. As Gene describes it, you basically stand on stage in a “posing suit” (read: bikini bottom), do a series of different poses, and get judged by a panel of experienced body builders on your symmetry, size of muscle, and definition.

Gene started training for the middleweight division about a year ago, working out at Winthrop Fitness and changing his diet, and has lost about 45 pounds. Taking his new body and a serious amount of courage to Wenatchee over the weekend, Gene arrived at the venue and lifted some weights to get his muscles pumped up, and then was rubbed down with three layers of dark shoe polish (technically not, I imagine, but that’s how he describes it), sprayed with a tan, coated with oil, and sent onstage to strut his stuff, with a mandatory poses session in the morning and a routine to music in the evening.

Competitors are not drug tested for this particular competition and Gene maintains that some of the guys are really big due to steroid use. Still, Gene managed to get a very respectable second place and had enough fun that he is entering another competition in Vancouver in the spring.

Completely unrelated – and I can think of no graceful way to transition from bikinis to Bob – was Bob Ulrich’s birthday last week. Bob was serenaded by a chorus of four of his fellow Kiwanis members at the Kiwanis meeting on Tuesday.

After the first four birthday crooners bought their way out of singing (this is a Kiwanis thing and generates money for the club), four second-string vocalists gathered around Bob and started singing. And I tell you, if John Owen can’t do a perfect imitation of Marilyn Monroe’s “Happy Birthday, Mr. President,” then I don’t know who can.

More fun and unexpected stuff was in store at Room One’s annual Soup Bowl dinner at the Barn on Saturday night. Costumes, masks, and face paint both crazy and fantastic were everywhere, but my favorite was Michael Brady’s incredible Pope costume. Even more amazing was emcee Mark Manzo’s speedy recognition of Michael’s entrance, announcing within seconds of Michael’s appearance, “The Pope has arrived, the Pope has arrived.”

And actually, given Pope Francis’ more-progressive attitude and interest in serving the poor and the marginalized, the symbol of a Pope breaking bread with the rest of his fellow men/women at the Room One event was quite appropriate.