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Olympic insanity

So the Icelandic men’s handball team has now made it to the semi-finals at the Olympics and the first game in the round is today. We’re playing against Spain and the entire nation is set to grind to a halt – events have been postponed, businesses and organizations have planned special viewings for all the staff [at EPI’s work they’re ordering pizza] with the game being projected up on screens, etc., and the largest cinema operator in the country will be showing the game in two of its theatres with the largest screens – free to the public. Did I mention we’re kind of excited?

See, this is what happens when a nation of 300,000 people, which moreover suffers from small-nation complex, has a chance to shine on the world stage. Even though 99.8 percent of the world’s population has never heard of handball … hell, we don’t care. It’s our national sport and we’re damn well going to watch “our boys” [yes, that’s really what they’re called] take the gold!

Incidentally, Iceland has never won a gold metal at the Olympics [we’ve won lots at the Small-Nation Olympics, though … wait, you didn’t know there was such a thing as the Small-Nation Olympics? well, there is], but we did win a silver metal once, and we’ve won two bronze metals. USA Today and the Christian Science Monitor both did cute stories on this a couple of days ago, if you’re interested.

True to form, our President Ólafur Ragnar met with the Chinese prez this morning and they slapped each other on the back a few times and chanted mutual-admiration mantras. Meanwhile Fréttablaðið had a story yesterday about two old women in their late 70s, one of whom is virtually blind and lame, being sentenced to two years in a Chinese labour camp. Their offense? They applied – APPLIED – to protest in one of the three designated protest areas in Peking. Yes, these are protest areas that the Chinese government promised to set up in the event that they were awarded the Olympics. People who intended to protest anything had to apply for a permit, and so far, not a single permit has been granted. Several applicants, however, have been arrested – including the 77- and 79-year old women now sentenced to labour camps.

Nice.

OVERCAST BUT CALM AND THREATENING TO RAIN
That’s how it looks outside right now. It rained buckets yesterday and it’s set to do the same today … and for the next few days, apparently. Bad news for those planning to run the Reykjavík Marathon tomorrow, not to mention all of us planning to hit the town for Menningarnótt [culture night] tomorrow. Ah well. I guess there are such things as umbrellas. And hoods. Right now 12°C [54F], sunrise was at 5:41 am, sunset due for 9:17 pm.

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  • Foilwoman August 22, 2008, 11:09 am

    I’m going to go check results now (not sure when it’s on, but if it hasn’t happened yet, I’ll check throughout the day) and wish you all luck. I remember watching the Olympics once in Denmark when the Danish volleyball team (I think — women’s) was playing some other team for the Bronze medal. Every one in Denmark was so excited. And Iceland, population-wise, is so much smaller than Denmark. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

  • alda August 22, 2008, 12:26 pm

    It’s about 10 minutes into the game now and Iceland is leading 8-3. Huzzah!

    I’ll post the results when they come.

  • Vikinsson August 22, 2008, 12:28 pm

    Very nicely written. I can almost hear your voice and I hear your sentiments about China and political rhetoric. I grew up learning that the capital was Peking too. 🙂 In fact I personally believe that mainstream news and political figureheads are irrelevant as far as being a source of information or knowledge. And yes, I can handle the truth…

    I hear you about small nation syndrome. Canada suffers from that too but our 800 pound gorilla is a only short car drive away. On the other hand we pretend to be ‘world class’ which is getting boring and driving us the other way. Iceland isn’t small to me, it is one of the biggest nations and not just in my heart. Pull those politicians back to reality while there is still hope. It is too late for us on the gluttonous side of the earth.

    Oh, the Olympics are on? I almost forgot about that. It is no longer your daddy’s Olympics. I miss those days.

  • alda August 22, 2008, 12:57 pm

    17-15 for us in half-time!

  • Cassie August 22, 2008, 5:04 pm

    And they won! (Although I’m not into the Olympics because of the China thing, I’m still happy for the win for Iceland. Doublethink? Maybe.)

  • Robert Hill August 22, 2008, 8:59 pm

    Ya’d think i was Icelandic, Gold! Gold! Pass me a red happy pill*, they go down well with a bottle of Thule! *(today, Iceland Review)
    I swell with small nation pride, Hooray!
    And why not? Our state of USA politic these days, well, quick forced analogy, you didn’t mis-step on any down-sloping white coated rocks on Drangey, thank the gods.
    We filched so many hours while on payroll, playing handball, wicked games, those years ago, if you appreciate stolen moments, Hooray, again for you, Dear Iceland.

  • hildigunnur August 23, 2008, 12:22 am

    I was singing at a funeral at 13:00 today, wondering if anybody would show up…

    Anyway, we did our bits, then walked slowly and reverently out of the church, closed the door quietly – then ran downstairs to check out how the game was proceeding.

  • Keera August 23, 2008, 7:54 am

    I wish our country had allowed us to watch the women’s handball match between Norway and South Korea yesterday, because that was a nailbiting match! And right now I’m watching the final between Norway and Russia.

    Go for gold, Iceland! Lykke til!

  • alda August 23, 2008, 1:22 pm

    Cassie – no, no doublethink. It’s just great.

    Robert – exactly.

    hildigunnur – lol! I can just picture it.

    Keera – Takk!!

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