Weekly Word: July 19th, 2012

Hey there Shmooplympians,

It’s that time of the decade again: every two years, we bust out our respective national-flag jumpsuits, play John Williams’ arrangement of “The Bugler’s Dream” on repeat, and prepare a first-aid kit for our inevitable attempt to stick a double front pike/do a perfect platform dive/luge like nobody’s business.*

To celebrate the London 2012 Olympics, we at Shmoop HQ are holding our very own series of myth-worthy competitions—you know, things like Peanut Butter M&M-eating, slippery labradoodle-chasing, and speed-typing. For those of you at home, though, why not get in the spirit with some of our other favorite Olympians?

Shmoop Featured Olympians: Hepaestus and Aphrodite

Forging is an Olympic sport, right? If not, it probably should be. It’s way more exciting than biathlon. And Hephaestuswould totally own it.

As the prettiest Olympian in all the land, we’re guessing Aphrodite was fairly popular with, well, everyone. If there were an Olympic event for being smokin’ hot, we know who’d win the gold. Every time.

Need more mythology in your life? Check out our gods, goddesses, monsters, and myths here.

Shmoop Week in History: Moon Landing, July 20, 1969

“One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

How could we not start with that quote? It basically summarizes the spirit of the huge achievement: Neil only had to climb down a couple steps to be the first human** to touch his spacesuit-protected toes to solid rock—or moon cheese, or whatever it is. In all seriousness though, what an accomplishment.

We found a way to hurl our tiny, oxygen-dependent, carbon-based bodies a whopping 238,000 miles through the void of space (where no one can hear you scream) and gently land on a rock traveling at approximately 2,299 mph. Hear hear, humanity. Hear, hear.

Shmoop Birthday: Ernest Hemingway July 21, 1899

This is a blurb. A blurb of great courage. The blurb had taken up at the diner for a steak. And to wait for Nick. They were going to shoot a lion. And go to war. And they would be proud strong men, the blurb and Nick.

So we may be poking fun at Hemingway’s terse and often dramatic style, but the man did unearth some pretty deep truths about humanity and morality in his works—and he did it by meticulously cutting away at the unneeded elements in both his language and his subjects. We think there might even be a connection to the old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words”…something along the lines of “a Hemingway word is worth, oh, about 72 words written by those other guys,” perhaps? Anyway, happy birthday, Ernest!

Honor the author by checking out some of his works:

Shmoop Shout-Out: The Catcher in the Rye Published July 16, 1951 

Here’s a fun fact that threw us for a loop: Holden Caulfield turns 61 this week. (Or at least The Catcher in the Rye does, anyway.) But although Salinger’s iconic protagonist has been around almost long enough to qualify for Social Security, he’ll always be a young’un to us—the same gray-haired, foul-mouthed, screwed-up teenager who hates phonies and has a serious soft spot for his little sister.

Need a reminder of what happens to poor Holden? (And what’s a catcher in the rye, anyway?) Check out our guide to Salinger’s novel here.

Shmoop Shout-Out 2.0: Encyclopedia Brown Author Donald J. Sobol Passes Away

A nerdy kid starts his own detective agency, consistently bests the town bully, and earns the respect of adults and peers alike—all while developing a super sweet nickname (we’d prefer “Encyclopedia” over “Leroy,” too). It was basically our dream life…although we would have certainly charged more than 25 cents per day plus expenses. What? It’s called inflation, okay?

Still, we wanted to honor the author who convinced us that we, too, could be kid detectives. All right, maybe it wasn’t the most realistic of dreams, but Mr. Sobol certainly knew how to spin a fine yarn.

Shmoop Shout-Out 3.0: Comic-Con 2012

We’re still trying to convince the higher-ups at Shmoop that Comic-Con is a legitimate educational conference and it would be in the company’s best interest to send a contingent of their nerdiest…er, most enthusiastic…employees to represent, but we aren’t having a whole lot of luck.

To all you lady Thors and dudely Leias, thank you for letting us live vicariously through your epic costumes and super sweet panel recaps. And for anyone else who missed out on the fun, try your hand at some of our Con-worthy guides:



To victory,

The Shmantheon




*Just kidding. Please don’t try any of these without parental permission and professional supervision.

**Who knows what kinds of aliens were there first?

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