In less than two weeks our intrepid Jordanian correspondent will be rotating stateside to take up the prestigious Somerville/Medford assignment. Meanwhile, here are some of his observations on Ramadan.
During the parade of the athletes in the opening ceremony, the NBC announcers mentioned the problem of Ramadan occurring during the games. Of course, they couldn’t say “Some of the Muslim athletes are totally blowing it off because winning a medal is the most important thing in their lives”; they simply allowed as how some of them are postponing their fast till after the games. Here‘s an article about the various complexities the Olympics have to deal with when it comes to religion.
As part of our training for the Olympics we re-watched Chariots of Fire. Some utterly random comments:
- The movie hasn’t aged especially well, or maybe I have just become bored with feel-good sports movies.
- One of the many funky (and endearing) things about Friday’s opening ceremony was the decision to give Rowan Atkinson five minutes of prime time to do a spoof of the movie’s iconic music and opening. Does the entire world think Rowan Atkinson is as funny as I do? Or did people in India or China watch the skit in utter bafflement? Anyway, here it is:
- I once saw Simon Rattle (the guy conducting the Chariots of Fire theme) conduct the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The LA audience was getting restless during a bleak Shostakovich symphony (is there any other kind?) and he turned around and glared at them during the performance. I guess everyone doesn’t like Shostakovich as much as I do.
- Does everyone watch old movies the way I do, with IMDB ready at hand? The stars of the movie mostly have had solid careers since then, but none really broke out. I was sad to see that Ian Charleson, who played Eric Liddell and was probably the best actor in the movie, died of AIDS a few years later–the first celebrity death in the UK openly attributed to AIDS, according to Wikipedia. IMDB tells me that Kenneth Branagh and Stephen Fry were both extras in the movie, but I couldn’t pick them out.
- Eric Liddell, the Scottish athlete who wouldn’t run on Sunday, became a missionary to China and is now on the calendar of saints for the Episcopal Church of the USA–the day after John Henry Newman, who converted from Anglicanism to Catholicism, and two days after Frederick Douglass. I had no idea the Episcopalians had such an interesting calendar of saints. Yesterday they honored Bach, Handel, and Purcell.
- The religion/Olympics conflict goes back to the first time the Olympics were held in London, in 2008. Here is the famous photo of the American hurdler Forrest Smithson holding a Bible while running to protest the scheduling of races on Sunday. Apparently this was a posed photograph, and he didn’t actually run his race with Bible in hand. He won the gold medal in a race held on Saturday.
There, that about does it for today’s Olympic coverage.