My feelings about sports tend to range from relatively indifferent to curmudgeonly (forgive me if that's not a word), but watching the Olympics this year brings me back to Lillehammer 1994, when a bold male figure skater named Elvis with a most authentic Canada-mullet hit the ice and did something original. For Elvis Stojko, it wasn't just about the triple axels--not that displaying one's ability to fly off of the ice and spin is not special, because it is. Indeed, I think I like the Winter Olympics so much because the athletes are so graceful and phenomenal that they allow near impossibilities to look easy. Take speed skating: gliding however many miles per hour around a skating rink requires that the skater makes a balanced, controlled turn. Impossible for most of us--second nature to them. Snowboarding especially impresses me. Seeing human beings remain suspended in the air for several seconds is something.
The other aspect of the Olympics which I like is the meeting of countries in a competitive but good-spirited event. It is a truly diplomatic exercise, where--unless there is corruption by judges or sabotage of another figure skater--athlete-representatives from across the globe gather together to meet, compete, and ultimately respect the rules and the winner of the event. Maybe it's so diplomatic because it has little to do with actual diplomacy: the stakes for winning and losing are huge for the competitors, yes, but in the end the fact that everyone played the game is more important. A country does not become a global power if it sweeps the Olympics. More important is that the countries who are participating have decided to open themselves up to the global community. Not that China's strong involvement in the Olympics nullifies its human rights record; it does mean that the country are engaging with the rest of the world. Friendly countries can engage in friendly competition.
Anyway, in other news, I am a big fan of Sergio Mendes and Brasil's version of the Beatles' "Fool on the Hill." A great song in the original, their version has some bossa nova touches and an ethereal air to it.
And finally, regarding Dick Cheney accidentally shooting one of his hunting partners, I guess the man is as incompetent at hunting as he is at governing.