Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Olympic spirit

Predictably, the Olympics opening ceremony unleashed a whirlwind of tweets, with twitterers competing to key in in real time the greatest punch line - ever. Then, multiple web sites rushed to compile lists of the funniest tweets. Then, other web sites compiled lists of the best lists of funniest tweets. Then – OK, I made that last one up. In any case, I combed through a couple of the lists, and I did find a clear winner. It came from an economist, Matthew Yglesias, who must have an uncharacteristic ironic streak since he writes for Slate. This is what he said: “Watching these open ceremonies, fairly confident that China will bury the west.”

This is, of course, impressionistic, and intended to provoke angry rebuttals. But watching how the nimble and feisty South Korean women’s handball team dispatched the mighty Norwegian lady-vikings (about 15 percent taller and maybe 20 percent heavier than the Asians), in a sport with rather clear score-keeping, could invite similar laments about the waning of the West. Which reminds me of that verse by the great Russian poet (in my improvised translation): “It would all be funny, if it wasn’t deeply sad.”

Oh, and what is the funniest article about the games so far? This one is easy - no need for lists and other props there. It came out yesterday in the The New York Times: "Beach Volleyball's Lure Isn't Just the Athletics." Of course, this title doesn't convey any new information. But the article is, indeed hilarious. And, in this age of mandated non-judgmentalism, it comes perilously close to proclaiming the sport a joke. In any case, you do have to feel for the male athletes who compete in it.