Americans’ Slacks: Down in the Trousers

While millions are transfixed on men in tassels, sequins and hair gel sliding on the ice, there’s another competition going on at the Winter Olympics–curling.

Yet the parallels between curling, figure skating and dubious sartorial choices cannot be denied. Case in point: the Norwegians sported a dynamic pair of pants earlier this week. (Your far-flung correspondent did not fail to notice this. Or post pics.)

The pants made the papers. The pants got their own Facebook fan page. The page has almost 100,000 fans (I joined–but I didn’t inhale). The pants have great Facebook updates, in the third person, such as this earlier one, “Almost 83,000 fans! The pants are humbled by your support,” and this one from mid-match: “Norway and the pants up 3-2 after 5. Very exciting match!”

As exciting as the pants are, the US curled off against Denmark today. A very exciting match as well, that actually went to extra frames.

But before we get to the action, what were they wearing? The Americans were in stolid white shirts and black slacks. Very stolid. Sober. Proper. And Boring. They looked every bit the soporific golfer.

Ah, but the Danes! Red shorts, black pants … and white belts.You know, kinda hip! Oh, and the skip? He had on a silver belt buckle that would have made the Pendleton Round-Up proud.

Danish curler Lars Vilandt showing off that winning fashion edge.

The Americans and Danes went back and forth … no one ahead by more than one point … tied at the end of 10 … and … the Danes won in an extra frame.

Why? I think you know why. Oh, and did I mention that the Americans are now 0 and 4? Three of those matches they’ve lost by a single point. Rock. Whatever you call it. But still, losing by a belt buckle.

Back to the Norwegians. They wore a different pair of pants today:

Even the volunteer can't stop staring at those pants.

But how did they do?

They won 7-4, making them 3 and 1 in the prelims.

So if I were the Americans, I’d be looking for something–anything–to help my competitive edge.

Here’s what to do: Give the dull threads to Goodwill, and go shopping with something with some verve. One more suggestion? I know this guy who did quite well with miracle trousers. And cravats.

The Winter Olympics: A Border Skirmish

So Salon.com ran this column about the Winter Olympics by some random columnist/douche/shit-disturber the other day. A typical bit:

We go to Men’s 500 Meter Speed Skating, only we don’t, because the ice is all slushy. Why? Because the Zamboni machines used to groom the ice are either broken, or ineffectual. There is an hour delay, and Costas, now speaking from beneath a pompadour that appears varnished in shoe polish, declares the situation “strange, and not acceptable.”

Note to Canada: that was you getting fired.

Because, I mean, look at it: what’s the one thing you should know how to do at this point, in terms of athletic preparedness? We’re not asking you to produce a gripping television series, or a memorable historical figure. Just keep the ice smooth, Canada. That’s all you had to do. And you had, like, eight years to plan for this.

Here’s your box. Security will see you out.

Then, to its credit, Salon gave roughly equal real estate to the letters from Canadians that came in response.

“You suggest — without irony, as an American, in 2010 — that we, a nation with a population one tenth the size of yours, should have spent another $360 million on an opening ceremony because, I guess, it wasn’t good enough for you. Call us crazy (or boring), I know, but here we save up for our retirement, not our heart attacks.

We put the proudest, butchiest lesbian ever on an international stage to sing the living shit out of a song widely considered to be among the best ever written. Ever. We’re understandably proud of that. (Also, that lesbian? Totally allowed to get married here in our hopelessly-decade-behind-the-times little backwater. When, oh, when will we ever catch up to rest of the world?)

We put on an original experience designed to showcase our talents, history and contributions. It wasn’t a homogenized, sanitized Hollywood production, and I’m glad because that’s not who we are. You didn’t have to love it but it’s really amazing that you couldn’t even try to appreciate it and throw out a few kind words to your neighbour. Criticism is one thing. This was just flat-out arrogant, ignorant bitchiness.”

— Sweet Jane


“A legislature matters more than the luge”

I grew up in Canada, and lately I’m wondering what the hell is happening to make it go so horribly off the rails. Let’s backtrack about a year, to when Slate.com ran a piece called “What’s the Matter with Canada? How the world’s nicest country turned mean.

On December 30th, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper prorogued the government (it means discontinuing the session of parliament without dissolving it) for the second time in about a year. He did it the first time to avoid having his party’s minority leadership in parliament challenged by a vote of no confidence. (For those of you who somehow missed Canadian civics, if a vote of no confidence carries, the next step is a general election.)

When he did it a second time, it prompted Errol P. Mendes, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Ottawa, to write a piece that ran in the Toronto Star, which is really worth reading.

“The early decision to shut down Parliament was clearly to avoid the continuing scrutiny of a House of Commons committee over the mounting evidence of wilful blindness by the Harper government over the transfer of Afghan detainees to a substantial risk of torture. This is potentially a war crime and one of the most serious allegations any government has faced in the history of Canada.”

Mendes also outlines some of the other “unconstitutional behaviour” the Harper administration has been up to. What’s eerie is how much of it is reminiscent of the Bush administration. But even Bush/Cheney didn’t have the balls to shut down the government twice, just to get themselves out of hot water.

Enter The Economist, with its Olympian tone and unbylined stories. Now, The Economist is nobody’s ideal of a bleeding heart liberal magazine (even though they quaintly call themselves a newspaper), and they often profess their admiration for free markets.

However.

This is one of the colonies, and they are, you know, The Economist, and they see through your shady maneuvers, Mr. Harper.

His officials faced grilling by parliamentary committees over whether they misled the House of Commons in denying knowledge that detainees handed over to the local authorities by Canadian troops in Afghanistan were being tortured. The government would also have come under fire for its lack of policies to curb Canada’s abundant carbon emissions. Prorogation means that such committees—which carry out the essential democratic task of scrutinising government—will have to be formed anew in March.

(That means no governmental oversight until MARCH — after the Winter Olympics take place in Whistler, British Columbia, next month.)

Their rejoinder is in the form of a sub-headline. And I quote: “A legislature matters more than the luge.”

Amen.