“Aren’t you a little short to be a stormtrooper?”
For the A to Z Challenge today, O is for Obstacle.
After fourth grade, one of my obstacles was height. I slumped from power forward length in elementary school quickly to shooting guard and all the way back down to point guard before finally settling in on, “chess club meets in room 102, buddy.”
I’ve always embraced my low center of gravity, although for years I fought for the right to be 5-foot-7.
That’s the stat I knew from one of my favorite NBA players, Spud Webb. Dude couldn’t reach the top shelf, but he could dunk. How cool is that? I could dunk – on a 6-foot goal. With the wind at my back.
I was well into my late 30s before I finally embraced my God-given (lack of) height of 5-6.
And a half. Yet, here I am, acting 6-2 on the Internet. Que obstacle?
1. Why are football players so tall?
So that diminutive sports writers will have to stand on chairs for post-game interviews.
I see eye to eye with several players, including Drew Brees (listed 6-0, but don’t believe the hype), Darren Sproles and Steve Smith. Monstrous men such as Texans linebacker Jadeveon Clowney (6-6) and Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (6-5) revolutionize their positions.
(Newton is bigger than many defensive players charged with bringing him down, in fact.)
Taller players cover more ground. They reach farther, have bigger strides, and are tougher to throw over. A taller frame means more space for more mass, so the big fellas can hit and be hit with less shock than we peanuts, shrimps, or small fries. All food references, interestingly.
2. How do you get Ebola?
Only one new case was confirmed in Liberia in March. Contact with infected people or their bodily fluids was the most common means of transmission. The Ebola virus isn’t airborne. You can’t catch it as you would the flu or measles. Ebola is contagious only in patients who exhibit symptoms.
This NPR report tells of the incredible heroes known as Ebola fighters
3. What does “Eyes Without a Face” mean?
It’s how parents worldwide keep an eye on their kids, even in other rooms or while you’re studying abroad.
Before Billy Idol sang it through side-curled lips, Eyes Without a Face (1960) was the title to a gruesome film. A plastic surgeon abducts young women to surgically remove their facial features. He then grafts them to his daughter’s face, which suffered disfigurement in a near-fatal auto accident.
Billy Idol’s song takes the concept another direction, focusing on a dearth of humanity in modern romance. (Hey, who turned the lights off in here? Dark, sister, dark.)
4. You can’t do more than one sport in the Olympics, can you?
Oh, but you can.
Of the 128 Olympians who’ve competed in the Summer and Winter Games, 10 were American. Everyone thinks it’s cool to go from track and field to bobsledding, apparently. By everyone, I mean Americans Lolo Jones and Lauryn Williams; Australian Jana Pitttman; and Belgian Hannah Marien.
Know who’s cool? Norwegian Jacob Tulin Thams. He won gold at the 1924 Games in the ski jump. Twelve years later, his sailing team took second in the 8-meter class. And how about this: American Walter Winans won five goals in two Olympics in two sports: Art and Shooting. Olympic medals in Art ended in 1954, because artists were considered professional, and Olympians were required to be amateur back then.
5. Why do they say left, left, left right left in the Army?
It’s a basic Army cadence chanted to keep soldiers marching in time.
Cadences originated in the Revolutionary War to keep troops in sync to ready their muskets and fire together. Cadences have grown in complexity and flair over the years.
Famous cadences aren’t always politically correct. Just Google Casey Jones.
Cadences are also called “Jodies,” in reference to a general character who steals a soldier’s girlfriend back home. They’re a nod to Army life, especially the gloomy side, as in this cadence I found on the Army’s website. The drill sergeant barks the line, and the company repeats it:
“Ain’t no use in lookin’ down
Ain’t no discharge on the ground …
Ain’t no use in lookin’ back.
Jody’s got your Cadillac …
Ain’t no use in lookin’ blue
Jody’s got your girlfriend, too … “