Archive for February, 2010

The Winter Olympics: The Americans Win Another Rodeo

February 24, 2010

Wall Street Journal, Thursday, February 18, 2010

 Every Olympic Downhill Has Swaggering U.S. Cowboys, but They usually Back It Up; Vonn Takes the Gold.

 “Skiing with an aggressive, fearless style that has become a trademark of Americans at the Olympics, American Lindsey Vonn won the gold medal in women’s downhill Wednesday by 0.56 seconds—a staggering chasm for this event, was her gunslinging teammate, Julia Mancuso, who claimed the silver medal at the event by the even more preposterous margin of 0.9 second.”

 Coming from a ranching family, the reason older cowboys swagger  is that they have “been in the saddle” for years and they are bowlegged.  In the sense of the article, “swagger” means “I’m the best.”    However, in the old days, cowboys did have to face a great many challenges, difficult weather, obstinate steers, tough bosses, on huge ranges in the West.  They competed in rodeos,  riding Brahma bulls, bucking horses, and other competitions where they could show their skills.  They were tough.  Cowgirls compete in rodeos; in World War II when many men went off to war the women took over doing the same chores, including bringing in the hay.   

 As “Ms. Vonn said after the race: ‘We don’t hold anything back.  I know everyone has a lot of pressure at the big events, the world championships, but Americans seem to come out on top.  We’re free-spirited and we’re really determined people.”

The Internet and Surfing/Surfer

February 19, 2010

The internet and surfing.  One surfs the net.  On this blog “” there are two surfer tags, Blog Surfer and Tag Surfer.  Does anyone have an idea why this is so?  Was it because Silicon Valley is near the Pacific Ocean, Santa Cruz and surfing?

Full Court Press in the Middle East

February 19, 2010

New York Times, “International”, February 13, 2010, by Mark Handler:

“U.S. Envoys Head Out on a Mission to Rally Iran’s Neighbors”

Washington:  “With tensions over Iran’s nuclear ambitions hitting new levels, the U.S. is mounting a diplomatic full court press in the Middle East, sending four top diplomats, including Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, to confer with Arab and Israeli leaders.” 

A full court press is an aggressive defensive move over the full length of the basketball court using all one team’s players.   The article refers to the four top diplomats aggressively seeking support in the Middle East.  

My site, www. mentions this idiom (go to the index) and my book has a full court press “New Yorker” magazine cartoon about this sports metaphor.

Basketball: a favorite game played by many in the U.S. and all over the world, a game perhaps improvised by American kids throwing a ball into wooden baskets, a game played in backyards with a hoop attached to a backboard, on courts in playgrounds, sports centers, by children, women and men.  

A personal note:  I played basketball at a small school in San Francisco and loved practising for hours throwing a basketball into a hoop.  My claim to fame with some of my boyfriends was “shooting” the hoops at fairs,   getting perfect scores and winning prizes.  For some reason, perhaps my family and friend’s affinity for sports, it was more important to be athletic in California than to get good grades, although I “caught” the latter also.  I dated men who played sports “jocks”, particularly skiiers and basketball players, except for my husband who rowed for the crew team at Yale University.  I swam and dove competively, surfed in the Pacific Ocean,  played touch football on Pacific beaches, soccer (American football) and volleyball on Atlantic beaches,  tennis on public courts, skiied wherever there was a hill and snow, and,  perhaps most important for this blog, was on the Rally Committee in California at UC Berkeley where I worked at football and basketball games.  And I love sports metaphors; they are so much fun.

Here’s to sports and Olympic Games rather than war!

U.S. Health Bill in the Red Zone

February 19, 2010

New York Times, February 3, 2010, by Peter Baker

“Stumping for Jobs Plan, Obama Pushes Health Bill”, Nashua, New Hampshire”:

President Obama on a road trip ( he”hit the road” ) early in February promoting “his new job-creation program, described as his No. 1 priority, but refused to abandon his embattled health care legislation, vowing to ‘punch it through’ resistance in Congress….

‘We had to go into overtime’, Mr. Obama said.  ‘But we are now in the red zone.  That’s exactly right  We’re in the red zone. We’ve got to punch it through.”

The correspondent, Peter Baker, used one metaphor, “hit the road” which is in such common usage that it is almost standard American English, but not quite.  However, in Mr. Baker’s article, President Obama has used several metaphors : ” overtime“, a metaphor used in many sports when at the end of regulation time the score is tied;  “punch it through“,  a fighting/boxing term used in football in conjunction with an American football term: the red zone.  The red zone identifies the area on a football field close to the defendant’s goal line which the team carrying the ball must reach to score a goal.

The red zone, a rather new metaphor, is now commonly used.   Although perhaps used by coaches and players to determine plays on a shortened field, its usage has increased since TV coverage superimposed a red color from the 20 yard line to the goal.  There is even a “Red Zone” deodorant.  In this case, health care legislation has been studied by the U.S. Congress for months in both the House and the Senate.  It is now considered overtime by President Obama. Though considered flawed by many, the Democratic Party, President Obama’s party, would like to pass (“punch through”) the legislation.

President Obama, a sports fan, has used metaphors, as have many, to emphasize his concerns in concrete, every day terms.

A Curveball Alters Talks Over Reform on Wall Street

February 2, 2010

NY Times, Tuesday, February 2, 2010:

“President Obama’s proposals to tax and curb the activities of Wall Street (NY City Financial Sector) have thrown an unpredictable element into the debate over financial regulatory reform.  They also have touched off an intensive new round of lobbying and raised questions in Congess over whether his plan will add urgency or merely bog things down.”

Subheading: Obama Throws a Curve Into Talks about Wall Street:

The House has passed its own regulatory measure in December of 2009 to put new controls on businesses and financial institutions.  The Senate Banking Committee has four bipartisan groups currently working on reform.   The question is what will happen now with Obama, metaphorically speaking as a pitcher throwing a curve ball (a ball in baseball which is unpredictable and difficult for the batter to hit),   into the regulation talks.