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“When you’re through learning, you’re through,” the old adage goes, and here’s what I’ve learned in the two weeks since last I blogged here.
I have learned that archery is the national sport of Bhutan and team handball is the national sport of Iceland. As if that weren’t enough, I have learned the coach of the Icelandic Olympic handball team is the delightfully named Gudmunder Gudmundsson.
Speaking of having almost the same first and last names, I’ve also learned that New Jersey Governor (and possible Republican Vice-Presidential nominee) Chris Christie has seen Bruce Springsteen in concert 129 times. I also learned Bruce Springsteen refuses to speak to his most prominent home-state fan.
Staying in politics, I learned that Mitt Romney and Benjamin Netanyahu worked together in a business called the Boston Consulting Group in 1976. In the last two weeks I’ve also learned that Mitt signed an assault weapons ban while governor of Massachusetts.
In other weapons-that-should-have-been-banned news, I learned that razor-blade wielding professional wrestler Abdullah the Butcher – the “Madman from the Sudan” – has never actually been to Sudan, but he has cut grooves so deep into his scalp he can hold quarters in them.
Speaking of self-mutilation, I learned that when Sir Isaac Newton started to ponder why and how we see colors and where they come from, his first experiment was to stick a knife into the socket of his eye and move his eyeball around to see what was back there. I don’t like to jump to conclusions, but I guess I also learned Sir Isaac Newton wasn’t as smart as I had always been led to believe.
Going back to Sudan, I learned that Sudan has sent six athletes to the London Olympics, but the most prominent Sudanese athlete — Luol Deng of the NBA Chicago Bulls — is competing in men’s basketball for Great Britain. I don’t know the right word to describe my feelings about the several-country odyssey of Deng’s life – it’s equal parts sadness and admiration. Millions of others from Southern Sudan have not been as lucky.
In more Olympic news, I learned Ann Romney owns a horse competing in dressage. It’s interesting that the media has reported this as “Ann’s horse.” For some reason Mitt found it politically or personally expedient to distance himself from the horse. Does anyone know why? And who really understands what dressage is? Blissfully unaware of its existence until the last ten days, now I’ve also learned a Swedish dressage competitor is embroiled in scandal, having been charged with cruelty to animals. I know controversy goes with the territory in the Olympics, but who imagined a scandal in dressage? What’s next, badminton? Oh, wait a minute . . . .
Speaking of cruel Swedes, in the last two weeks I’ve finally seen the movie The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. (I often get around to movies about six months after they were popular.) James Bond, the Queen’s date for the Olympic Opening Ceremonies, stars, but he didn’t have his normal superpowers. I learned that the bad guy from Beverly Hills Cop with the mole on his forehead was a good guy in this movie, but I kept waiting for him to be revealed as bad, probably because of the mole. Most of all, I learned that although this movie was good in the sense that it was skillfully made and very suspenseful, it wasn’t really “good,” lacking any sort of message other than “revenge is sweet.”
Also at the movies, I learned that Woody Allen’s new movie To Rome with Love was a nice try, but not one of the Woodman’s better efforts. The Italian opera singer who could only sing in the shower was a sort of vintage Woody gag, the sort of thing he’d do in 1973. I enjoyed myself but can’t really recommend the movie to others.
And finally, speaking of loving Italy, I learned that the economically-strapped nation pays its Olympic athletes $182,400 when they win a gold medal. Holy financial crisis! So far, the Italian government is going to have to come up with over one million dollars for their six winners with still another week of competition to go. I want to know what would happen if one of their teams takes gold. Do they have to pay each member $182,400? Makes me want to sit in front of the TV and shout “Italia” during every team sport.
That’s all I’ve got. What have you learned lately?
A fun piece, Jeff. I really enjoyed this, especially the witty transitions! Here's something I learned while watching the Olympics. Why do male swimmers turn up at the blocks with red welts on their chests? Well, at first I thought that maybe they had just emerged from the locker rooms with their chests freshly waxed, but it's actually because they're trying to keep their muscles warm and moving. It's actually kind of a nervous habit. Some people also suggest that it's a gorilla-like, chest-thumping, male competition thing. (And I thought I was fidgety!)