Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Long Live Mr. Lane

Anthony Lane has several gems in his report from the first week of the Olympics. You should read the whole thing, but if you simply refuse, here are three excerpts. First, a thought on the opening ceremonies:
Nobody will ever surpass the mathematical majesty of that night in Beijing, and, in retrospect, that may be a good thing. It will be scant consolation, however, to Lord Coe. Formerly Sebastian Coe, part of the shining generation of British middle-distance runners in the nineteen-eighties, he now heads the team that will bring the Olympics to London in 2012. I tried to pick him out among the V.I.P.s on that first Friday, but without success. He may have been hiding in the men’s room, calling home to order more light bulbs. You can imagine the rising panic in his voice: “They had two thousand and eight drummers, all lit up. Yes, two thousand and eight. And what have we got so far? Elton John on a trampoline.”
Then, he champions The Complete Book of the Olympics by David Wallechinsky, which includes a great deal of entertaining trivia:
As for Eva Klobukowska, the Polish sprinter who won two medals at Tokyo, in 1964, and became the first athlete to fail a sex test, I wouldn’t have believed it were it not for the photograph supplied by Wallechinsky, which confirms that the lady in question resembled Harry Dean Stanton after an evening of rye and Lucky Strikes.
Lastly, some thoughts about water polo:
Wallechinsky’s guide was with me as I arrived for the water polo. Thanks to him, I was primed to note the fine distinctions between the three kinds of foul that can be committed in the course of a game; after a minute, I laid the book aside, having realized that all three were being committed all the time by everybody. The rules and infringements of this ancient sport are of a solemn complexity, but all are founded on the fundamental desire of one person to treat another as a tea bag. You find your opposite number, grab him (or her), and dunk, regardless of whether the ball is anywhere in the vicinity; neck-holding is especially popular, involving, as it does, much frantic splashing on the part of the drowner, and the whole exercise looks weirdly like a lifesaving class, except that the motive is reversed.


Blogger Barbara Carlson said...

I printed out the New Yorker article and LOL all the way through it! Thanks for pointing it out; my life would have been the poorer without it.
I am a new reader of your daily blog and appreciate the work you do on it. Good luck at the track!

4:22 PM  

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