Friday, February 17, 2006

America's Next Top Medal

No, not gold. Silver. Why? Because Lindsey Jacobellis, taking advantage of her 3-second lead in the snobo cross finals, decided to "showboat" during her last jump, lost her balance, and fell, giving Swiss competitor Tanja Frieden the chance to glide past across the finish line, winning the gold.

The NBC cameras and commentators, true to the US-centric coverage, were following Jacobellis from the start when she was second out of the gate, through her chance to grab the lead over a Canadian competitor, to her impressive lead toward the last quarter or so of the run. Coming off the last jump, she twisted her legs, grabbing the board in the air in a move called a "Method Air." She landed off-balance as a result and fell, losing her lead. It was pure celebratory grandstanding, and it cost her a medal she would have easily taken otherwise. At first, it wasn't clear why she had fallen, but the instant replay slo-mo showed clearly the mid-air maneuver. The commentators were itching to ask her about it. It was a horribly embarrassing moment, and it showed in Jacobellis's stunned face once the race was over. The commentator asked her about it, and Lindsey tried to say she was just grabbing her board to stabilize it, but the commentator wouldn't let go and asked her about how that Method Air worked for her. (As bryduck dryly commented, "We need this reporter to go after Bush.")

I can only say that this is a telling example of why I am currently often embarrassed by my nationality. Even if Lindsey had held onto her balance and her lead, such showboating is just poor sportsmanship. I'm sorry it happened, and particularly in snowboarding, because I had just been saying how much I like the US snowboard athletes. They seem, as a group, like a really cool, down-to-earth bunch of people, "just happy to be here at the Olympics," and I watched with an eagle eye how naturally they all seemed to congratulate one another, regardless of nationality and who placed where, after each event. (I was really impressed at how happily US snowboarder Seth Wescott hugged and congratulated the competitor who took the lead away from him in the final qualifying run. Of course, Wescott ended up winning the gold medal, but he didn't show off or get all "in your face" about it. He and the male and female half-pipe snowboard gold medalists, all American, have all been pretty at ease, excited but not overly cocky about winning the gold, at least when reporters and cameras are around to capture it. Then comes Lindsey Jacobellis (pronounced "Jacob-Ellis;" I don't know why someone didn't force a hyphen on that family!).

Seems to me that's a big problem with the US. America doesn't play nice with others. In our global political actions (glo-po cross?), she has trained hard, but once she took the lead she hasn't let any of the other players forget it. She has made moves full of hubris and often wrong-headedness due to a lack of real empathy or understanding of her competitor's mindset or skills, and just continues blithely on until something happens to stun her into "Huh? What?" After which she refuses to face facts and fix the problem.

It's obviously not a perfect metaphor, and poor "Unlucky Lindsey" (as she was dubbed on the NBC Olympics site) shouldn't carry the weight of my shame at American political hubris on her narrow, disappointed shoulders. But she could have waited another fraction of a second to celebrate her "win."

Look, Ma! Both hands! I'M BLOGGINGGGGGGG.....

I figured I'd get in on the blogging action, oh, 11 months ago, and promptly set up my account here at Blogspot. Since then, I've had nothing to say so it lazed around, apathetic and devoid of comment.

Now that my beloved and two closest friends in life are furiously and fantastically blogging on a regular basis, I'm feeling gentle pressure to prove I have something to say. Which I might not, actually. If you know me, I'm pretty willing to vomit my life story--and extra commentary about everything under the sun--all over you in person, so maybe I get it out of my system and there's nothing left to say in another forum. I hope not. Somehow, that thought depresses me.

What's interesting about the blogs I read daily (see links to the aforementioned three blogs at right) is that my peeps are showing bits of themselves virtually that I have not (yet?) discovered in person. (Perhaps because I'm always so busy talking about myself and my issues when we're together--the poor things have been vying for attention, but me and my ego gaily natter on and on...)

Sporksforall, for example, shares the sorts of emotional things about herself and her life that don't come up the same way in person. Don't get me wrong, she expresses her feelings just fine, but she writes so beautifully (and I haven't had the chance to read her writing much before her blog) and her more poignant posts often stun me in their loveliness.

Scout, too, blogs some "deepest darkest" stuff that fascinates and surprises me. She's willing to expose her soft underbelly online, but with wonderful humor to go along with her courage. I've known her very well for 10 years or so, and I am learning much about her, not the least being her prodigious writing talent. She tells deep truths without necessarily reporting facts. As we've all heard much about Mr. Frey and Nasdijj, props to Scout for being honest and knowing how to make a good story better.

Bryduck? Well, he's my beloved, my best friend, my happiness. I know it's corny to say so, but it's true. I figure by now, after the year we had in '05, I know him as well as one person knows another. But he's such an eloquent writer and has such passion, especially politically, at a time when most folks out there don't seem to give a crap. [interruption] A colleague shared a great cartoon with me the other day, where a monkey is looking down at the ground, saying "What's that? A banana? Awww, I don't care" with the caption "Disinterested George." [/interruption] He's about the most interesting man I've ever known, for lots of reasons including his huuuge ingelligence, his wacky perspective, his sweetness, and unassailable integrity. His word? You can trust it. Perhaps its the girl in me as I tend to go more for the personal in blogs than the political, but someone needs to say the things he has to say, and he says them better than anyone. He writes eloquently about the emotional stuff and I love him all the more for it.

Anyways, I know I'm probably supposed to say something about myself, so without having been officially "tagged," I'm gonna answer the survey that seems to be bloggily popular right now:

Four jobs I've had:
1) grocery bagger/cart pusher for Ralphs (to this day, I am highly critical of the baggers who don't take pride in a well-balanced bag of goods--it's an art form, I tell ya!
2) cookie baker/counterperson for Baker Street cookies
3) book/paper conservation intern at the Getty Research Institute (I did get paid, but more of a stipend)--probably the most fun I'll ever have as work, but something I'd need years more of schooling including lots of organic chemistry to do forever
4) reference librarian at a SoCal public library

Four movies I could watch over and over:
1) Big Night (for many reasons, but mostly because I love the scene at the end with no dialogue but lots of feeling)
2) When Harry Met Sally ("..but Baby Fish Mouth is sweeping the nation..")
3) Gone with the Wind (I apologize heartily for political incorrectness, but I loved this movie as a kid--my mom took me to see it for my ninth birthday because I loved it so much--and it remains, I think, the movie most faithful to its source novel in script, tone, and casting. It's a sentimental favorite and it's hard to shake those.)
4) Anything (Top Gun, A Few Good Men, The Hunt for Red October) Bryduck likes to recite lines to when we happen upon them. They tend toward corny and toward Tom Cruise (what's up with that?)

Four places I've lived:
1) Lake Tahoe
2) North Hollywood
3) Berkeley
4) Glendale (yep, it's true--never lived outside of California!)

Four television shows I love:
1) Joan of Arcadia (hey, CBS? It's not true! People talking to ghosts doesn't skew younger than people talking to God! And Patricia Arquette--see 2)--kicks Jennifer Love Hewitt's a$$ any day of the week!!!!
2) Medium -- one of the most realistic character- (even if she is a psychic crime-solver) and family-portrayals on tv. Patricia Arquette ROCKS!
3) Lost
4) Project Runway

Four places I've vacationed:
1) Italy
2) Canadian Rockies
3) Jacksonville, FL (yeah, I know--enough said)
4) Washington, DC and environs (special shoutout to Bryduck's Uncle Roy and fond remembrance of his Uncle Wayne)

Four sites I visit daily:
1) Woot
2) Salon
3) Google (it's the workhorse, the sine qua non of the reference desk, even if lots of ref librarians out there pine for the good old days of encyclopedias, atlases and "real" reference work--we aren't competing with Google, folks!)
4) Epicurious

Four places I'd rather be:
1) Anywhere but where I am, usually--I've got a real travel itch.
2) Somewhere bustling where I'm on vacation (Paris, NYC, Boston, which I haven't yet had the pleasure of...)
3) Somewhere exotic to me)-- Egypt, Nepal, Ohio
4) Somewhere where privacy and civil liberty means something, where my medicine is socialized, my beef is prion-free, I don't have to drive a car to get somewhere, and there are rainbows and lollipops, tra-la-la...

Four books I love:
1) Blink
2) Flu (Remember the Rupert Holmes song? "If you like Gina Kolatas.." runs through my head when I think of this book's author)
3) Opening Skinner's Box
4) So far, Misquoting Jesus since it touches on religious literalism, comparative language, and lots of other stuff I am interested in and think important ...
(yep, there's a pattern--I like popular nonfiction a lot)

Four video games I play:
1) Gem Shop
2) Minesweeper, Hearts or Mah Jong solitaire when I'm waiting online or distracting myself to solve a problem
3) I'm not too into video games, generally. I've heard about two that might be fun to me--the SIMS stuff and the one where you design and "ride" a roller coaster. But not enough to find, purchase and try them out. Yet.

Four bloggers I'm tagging:
1) Not even sure what it means to tag a blogger--
2) The ones I read daily and like are all listed and have already been tagged...

Okay! Well that's enough for one day!