Weekly Word: August 7th, 2012

Hey there Shmortspeople,

In the least surprising news ever, London’s Olympic opening ceremony featured lots of literature: J.K. Rowling read fromPeter Pan, for one, and Kenneth Branagh delivered lines from Shakespeare’s Tempest like he wasn’t wearing a beard and a top hat that made him basically unrecognizable.*

Sad that we’re already halfway through the XXX Olympiad? We’re just waiting to see what the closing ceremony has in store. In the meantime, why not check out the next installment of Those Other Olympians, You Know, The Ones We Read About in Mythology Books?

Shmoop Featured Olympians: Ares & Athena


Everyone knew Ares had anger management issues, which…well, considering the company he kept, that’s a pretty bad temper. God of War? Fair enough. But he also enjoyed destroying the love lives of his fellow Olympians—just askHephaestus, who never totally got used to Aphrodite’s dude on the side.

Meanwhile, Athena got props for being the Goddess of Wisdom, not to mention the part of war that had more to do with thinking and strategizing than hulking out. She and Ares often found themselves at odds, but what else do you expect from siblings?**

Featured Shmoop: Shmoop Video Page

Extry! Extry! New craze sweeping media culture: the moving pictures! Not since radio has learning been this much fun.

We may be taking some liberty with the gravity (see: Curiosity below) of our new Shmoopsterpiece Theater section, but it’s pretty darn cool. In fact, it’s tricked out with the old-fashioned red curtains and everything. If you’re looking to enhance your Shmoop skills (i.e. learn how to maximize your Shmoint count, master your new SAT skills, or set up a classroom under your license), this is the place for you.

Or, if you’d just like to sit back, relax, and enjoy some free learning, you can check out our Shmoop Sidebar section.  Either way, swing by the Shmoopsterpiece Theater.

Shmoop Shout Out: Curiosity Mars Landing

Let’s think about this landing for a second: the rover Curiosity weighs about a ton. In its final hours before landing (when Mars said “Oh, here’s my gravity, have all of it”), the craft reached 13,000 mph. Yet the engineers at NASA who oversaw the building and launching of Curiosity somehow—amazingly—performed a perfect landing. In the words of the Olympics, they totally “stuck it.”

No wonder they reacted like this.

Now, the spaceship will become a spacecar and spend the next two years gathering data on everything from the history and evolution of Mars to the planet’s potential for sustaining life. Awesome, right? NASA, we salute you!

Shmoop Shout-Out 2.0: Attenborough Spider

This itsy-bitsy spider doesn’t have to associate itself with commoners like Little Miss Muffet. After all, he’s named after a sir, like a boss—er, knight.  This Australian species of goblin spider is named after Sir David Attenborough, also known as that dude who narrates all those nature documentaries that your parents make you watch on PBS on family movie nights.*** 

Sir David got himself the Prethopalpus attenboroughi because he’s managed to demystify the crazy world of biology and make nature lovers of all of us.  Pretty awesome, considering the only things we’ve gotten named after us are made-up words that start with “shm.”****

Shmoop Shout-Out 3.0: High School Olympians

What do most regular folks do before legally being able to vote, drive, or play the lottery?  Fall in love with an undead bad boyOutwit, outplay, outlast your fellow teens to start a revolution?  Find out that you’re the chosen one and save theworld from doom, like, again and again and again and then a few more times after that?  (Seriously, at this point, there must be a way to outsource destiny.)

All these accomplishments seem like small potatoes when you compare them to winning a buttload (yes, that’s a technical term) of gold medals at the 2012 Olympics.  So let’s sing a partly-mangled version of the Star-Spangled Banner in honor of teenage all-stars like Gabby DouglasMissy Franklin, and Katie Ledecky.

And though he isn’t in high school any more, we also need to mention Oscar Pistorius, who shines as an example for us all. Shmoop salutes his drive in the face of adversity.



Here’s hoping for some sweet closing ceremonies,

Official Olympic Shmectators




*Branagh was dressed as the engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Some of us at Shmoop HQ may or may not have thought he was Charles Dickens, while others remained convinced  that he was Abraham Lincoln for an embarrasingly long time.

**Half-siblings. Whatever it is when one of you springs fully formed from your dad’s head.

***Come on, you know you love watching dramatic antelope fights and heartwarming bird hugs narrated in the smooth, dulcet tones of British nobility.

****Merriam-Webster is totally still mulling over adding “Shmoints” to the dictionary.  We remain cautiously optimistic.

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