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  • Reply to: 53-Year-Old Speed Skater Attempts to Make US Olympic Team   26 weeks 1 hour ago

    That's one way to make sure your muscles are being worked out - fear of dropping weights on your head.  Very enjoyable video! Thanks. They do look a lot more ice-skatey on the road with their inlines, and it does look like they're maximizing the swing of the recovery leg. They are skating super low there. Good training inspiration!

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  • Reply to: Crowd-Sourced Color Names by XKCD   26 weeks 1 day ago
    Ooh

    I could spend a lot of time and money on that site (Loudmouth Golf)!

    It's good to know someone has already gone to the trouble to create all this clothing, since it's not a passion of mine to make it all myself for various performances. 

    I'm not sure about the Opposuits clothing material, but yes I think it's substantial.  I think one of our trombonists was wearing this yesterday.  I'll ask next time! Some of these have actually made it to mall department stores (JC Penney' etc.). 

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  • Reply to: 53-Year-Old Speed Skater Attempts to Make US Olympic Team   26 weeks 1 day ago

    Much food for thought there, eebee. I watched some hockey technique videos (inspired by a Joey Cheek comment about hockey players who cross over to speed skating and how "easy on their skates" they are) and that's all about transitions, even learning to push straight back when accelerating from a dead stop.

    On my recent Country Park visits, I've been thinking about how easy it is to fall into the habit of skating up the hills hard, then coasting the downhills and flats and maybe making a few flippy pushes while standing upright until the next hill. I'm trying to focus more on skating in a low position with full-length pushes, working on form and range of motion. It might not be the fast way around the park, or the easiest way, but I think it gives me more of what I go there for. And I often think about the effect of the free leg, swinging that quite heavy appendage, which I believe matters more than most realize.

    Anyway, for your analysis enjoyment, here's video of the mighty Sven Kramer and his teammates in past years, including lots of inline skating beginning around the 3:00 mark.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHHG__CxUfw

    (Be prepared to mute audio or be overcome by the Eurodisco soundtrack.)

    One more thing re Theron Sands: I re-watched some of the US Olympic Trials, which I still had saved on my dvr, and noticed that he also competed in the 5000 meters event. His attempt wasn't televised but his time was in the results, and he finished 10th, notably 6 places lower and 18 seconds slower than four-time Olympian K.C. Boutiette, who at 47 years old is only 6 years younger than Sands!

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  • Reply to: Crowd-Sourced Color Names by XKCD   26 weeks 1 day ago

    Neat! I'm impressed as much as anything by how low their prices are. Do you have any sense of how substantial the material is? Looking for more about them, I saw a comment somewhere saying that they aren't costumes and are made to be worn more than once, faint praise but that's a baseline anyway.

    I'm reminded of the stuff from Loudmouth Golf, who will once again sponsor the Norwegian Olympic Curling Team this year. (Although, re manly men and what they wear, I've definitely seen more LPGA players wearing Loudmouth skorts than PGA players wearing their trousers.)

    With names like Guus, Jelle, and Jasper, the Opposuits guys could have been road musicians who backed up Agnetha, Björn, Benny, and Anni-Frid. But it turns out that they're Dutch (translation), which explains the "oranje" suit on the guy in the middle of the picture on their "About" page. I'll be looking for their suits around the skating oval in Pyeongchang.

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  • Reply to: Sound Doll/Bran Doll   26 weeks 1 day ago

    Wasn't aware of the Sandie Shaw song. Thanks for including that. I guess I only knew her as one of the 60s pop singers Morrissey had become obsessed with as The Smiths were falling apart. That title brings to mind, "Open up the heaven in your heart and let me be the things you are to me and not some puppet on a string," sung by Andy Gibb and written by Barry Gibb, whom I can pardon for helping out his little brother but never ever for Saturday Night Fever.

    There's also Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham's "I'm Your Puppet," best known as sung by James & Bobby Purify, although recorded first by Penn as it turns out and covered many times since. With all of the "baby" songs of the early/mid 60s ("Be My Baby," "Baby, Where Did Our Love Go?," "Baby Love," "Don't Worry Baby," etc.) branching out to toys and games might have been the natural next step.

    Anyway I was curious about the "poupée de cire" half of the title, wondering how popular actual wax dolls might have been. Coincidentally I was zooming around the net looking for information on ice skating form and technique, and I noticed several references attempting to connect skating with Marie Antoinette. (Apparently ice skating was indeed fashionable during Louis XVI's reign in France and it wouldn't be too surprising if his Queen had an Austrian's love of winter sports. I'm skeptical of claims that figure skating was invented as an entertainment either for her or by her though.)

    An essay about her, which only tangentially mentions skating but was interesting nonetheless, was, "The Queen's Closet: What Marie Antoinette really wore," which brings up poupées de mode, "elegant fashion dolls" sent as models from Paris "to foreign capitals, including the Vienna of Archduchess Marie Antoinette's childhood." She's said to have had a very large collection of them and I wondered if maybe some of them might have been made of wax. But sources say that they were either wood or ceramic,  and really wax wouldn't have traveled very well. It's also anachronistic, since wax figures were introduced by Madame Tussaud and her lesser-known anatomist uncle in Paris during the time of Louis XVI.

    Like figure skating and Marie Antoinette, Tussaud's biography tends to be muddled by the back-story promoted for her later Wax Museums, but evidence seems good that she was in fact living at Versailles as an art tutor to the King's sister at the time of the Revolution, and her experiences during the Reign of Terror--narrowly escaping execution herself--are prominent in her later legend. There's a macabre sense to the museums (at a minimum, nearly all the figures portrayed there are people no longer with us) and I wonder if "poupée de cire" was at least meant to be a little bit creepy in that way.

    It's also interesting to me that the French in the 1960s would still refer to phonograph records as "wax," as in English, when it had gone away with Edison cylinders when they faded out for good in the 1920s. (78s were generally a compound based on shellac, 33s all vinyl, and 45s usually polystyrene.)

    But back in the early days of the Internet, the first really cool thing I found online  was a trove of electronic transcriptions of cylinder recordings, including the first million-seller in history, Enrico Caruso's "Vesti la Giubba." (Believe the hype, he really was that good.) It really was recorded on wax and, as with France Gall's song, it's another tale of a performer complaining about having to go on stage, in this case a clown who has to make the audience laugh while his heart is breaking.

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  • Reply to: Crowd-Sourced Color Names by XKCD   26 weeks 3 days ago

    Here you go! I think some of our band members wear some of these. 

     https://www.opposuits.com/suits.html

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  • Reply to: Sound Doll/Bran Doll   26 weeks 6 days ago

    They could just as easily have been influenced by that Mott song. :-D Thanks for bringing it up. The piano intro is probably not a coincidence. 

    I forgot the obvious one in the same thread, the United Kingdom's winning entry to Eurovision (22 days before I was born!): Sandie Shaw's "Puppet on a string", lyrics by a Bill Martin, who (surprise) wrote the English lyrics for forlorn sixties waif Twinkle in 1965 to the 'Poupee de son' tune. I spent a grand total of one minute discovering that! Mirthful interview with him here (are they holding up 'Cue Girls Screaming' signs off camera in the Cliff Richard clip?).

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  • Reply to: Sound Doll/Bran Doll   27 weeks 1 day ago

    I'll see your ABBA and raise you Mott the Hoople's "Marionette (Live)". I suppose it's a natural motif for musicians, even the ones who write their own songs. A long tour doing the same show every night probably starts to feel that way for everyone.

    And that's a sweet tribute to France Gall. I recognized the name and had read a little bit about her, about Serge Gainsbourg writing songs filled with innuendos that she didn't understand at the time, but I hadn't heard the songs. Evidently, from the comments, she had lots of fans all around the world.

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  • Reply to: 53-Year-Old Speed Skater Attempts to Make US Olympic Team   27 weeks 2 days ago

    Oh well that's very generous of you :-). 

    I'm not sure if this is what you mean in what Joey Cheek recommended, but while I was out skating this weekend in very cold weather for Georgia (35 - 38 actual degrees F., 27 - 29 windchill if I plugged it in right), I found it very tough going on the uphills on the way back. As a diversion I imagined what it might be like to compete in cross country skiing, because no matter how difficult skating seemed at that moment, it had to be easier than that! I started trying to imitate that motion the best I could, minus the poles. This caused me to stomp harder on the pavement and push all the way through the stride. I shocked myself by picking up a lot of speed at that point (and also wore myself out).  So yes - definitely a good thing to try to remember the rest of the time.

    I also thought more about this sideways on ice, backwards indoor issue, and concluded to myself that there's so much focus on turns with indoor I'm sure there's really no point worrying about a regular push. 

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  • Reply to: Crowd-Sourced Color Names by XKCD   27 weeks 2 days ago

    Interesting points there, eebee. The book you reference is fascinating to me too despite knowing basically zero German.

    It can be aggravating when references don't back up their word derivations. There's often more then one plausible way it could have happened, and it really would be nice to have a link to the justification and some examples that support such a claim.

    I can see how it might be because a word entered a language at a certain time when another language is known to have had a strong influence. (E.g., the ~400 years when England was under the rule of French kings.) Or maybe some shade of meaning is carried over from one source that isn't present in another. Could historisch lead to terms like "historical society" in English, but not convey the sense of someone saying that, for example, a book is "history-ish" rather than history? Maybe it had to pass through French for that, I dunno.

    Fwiw, I can think of place names like Derry, Kerry, Tipperary, Kilkenny, and Killarney in Ireland, with a similar-sounding ending meaning "pertaining to" some person or people in their Gaelic/Irish language names. So I guess they could also be the ones behind this tendency.

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