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The Analogist: Year in Review

One of the occasional running features introduced in 2007 was 'The Analogist,' where you tell me your problem and I tell you what it's like. This feature is so occasional, in fact, I can rerun all the situations we've Analogized in one post. If you have a question for The Analogist, email me. Now on to the Year in Review...

I love my sister but she's the worst. When I was nine, I fell out of our treehouse and broke my collarbone. Angry at the attention I was getting, she jumped from the same treehouse and broke both legs (she still walks with a limp). I'm getting married next month. She's bound to pull something and I want to warn people. What's a good analogy for our relationship?
"“Kate
Texas

luna15.jpgYour sibling rivalry reminds me of the space race. Did you know that while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were traipsing around the lunar surface, a Soviet spacecraft "“ Luna 15, at right "“ slammed into the Moon? Sounds like something your sister might do if you were an astronaut and she ran a rival nation's space program. This will work especially well if your friends are still harboring Cold War resentment.

I tried and failed to get a former colleague a job with my new company. He was passed over for a less experienced guy with "more potential." People raved about this guy like he was the iPhone. But after months of lackluster work, he was caught trying to steal a scanner. After a tearful admission to HR, he was escorted out by the rent-a-cops that patrol our office park. A more humiliating fate I cannot imagine. I feel so vindicated. What parallels this clown's fall from grace?
"“Theresa
Atlanta, Georgia

Drop this line at your next office happy hour: "Glad we finally got rid of Darko." Darko Milicic was a highly touted prospect before the 2003 NBA Draft. The Detroit Pistons selected him #2 overall, ahead of future stars Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh. Talk about hype. Hindsight is 20/20, but it's also often hilarious. This is from ESPN analyst Chad Ford back then:

darko03.jpg"Darko is really one of a kind. He runs the floor, handles the ball, shoots an NBA three and plays with his back to the basket. So you can slot him at the 3, 4 or 5. Okay, a few other guys can do that, too, but what sets Darko apart is his toughness in the post "¦ Fact is, Darko plays in attack mode at both ends of the floor. The more you push, the more he pushes back."

Darko did not push back hard enough. In parts of three depressing seasons with the Pistons, he never averaged more than 1.8 points or 6.9 minutes a game. Now he's with the Memphis Grizzlies (and improving, I must admit). And in his defense, he was never accused of stealing company property.

Does a third-party candidate actually have a chance to win in 2008?
"“Ralph
Essex Fells, New Jersey

Hmmm. I think you misunderstood the concept. Asking me this question is like asking spelling bee contestants whether or not they'd make good pirates. An interesting query, yes. But altogether inappropriate for the venue.

I used to have two cats, until one disappeared. Ever since this happened, my other cat has been wandering aimlessly around the house, pretty much useless. Is there anything else like this out there?
"“Anna
Lubbock, TX

woodsharmon.jpg This reminds me of the relationship Tiger Woods had with his former swing coach, and not just because a tiger is one of the four species of cat in the genus Panthera (tiger, lion, jaguar and leopard).

Tiger split with Butch Harmon in 2002 after the U.S. Open. Before the parting of ways, Woods had won seven of the previous eleven major championships, which is like your cat's general attitude before becoming useless. Without Butch — your other cat in this analogy — Tiger was basically wandering aimlessly, not winning another major title until 2005.

But it's important to remember that Tiger eventually returned to his previous unbeatable form, winning tournament after tournament, buying a $39 million Florida home with his supermodel wife, and becoming a father. If this analogy holds, your cat will be fine (in three years, tops).

I just realized why my new boss seemed so familiar. Though we didn't go to the same school, she had a bit of an, um, reputation in high school (I attended a parochial school in the same town in the early 1990s and she's a few years older.) I'm not sure how much of it was true, but she sure dressed the part, and I know she never graduated. Now she's a completely different person, married, very driven and a great boss. I'll carry her secrets to my grave. Or at least my exit interview. What's an analogy for her change, and my feigned ignorance?

"“Tommy
Manhattan, Kansas

Your suspension of disbelief is similar to the way viewers treat repeat actors on the same sitcom. For example, on The Golden Girls, the same actor who played Rose Nylund's lover Miles also appeared in season one as Arnie — another of Rose's male suitors. That Miles was actually in the Witness Protection Program is confusing and rather ridiculous, but irrelevant. The actor (your boss) and the show in general (your company at large) are both best served by your playing ignorant.

jefferson_index.jpgAnother example: Ted McGinley, who starred as Jefferson D'Arcy on Married"¦with Children for seven seasons, played Peggy's husband Norman Jablonski in the 1989 Christmas episode ("Whoa, Jablonski!"). Ted was fully accepted into our living rooms as Jefferson, unless of course your parents didn't allow you to watch this program. We acted like his previous role never happened. Just like you're doing with your boss' (mildly) scandalous past.

If you're not a Golden Girls or Married"¦with Children fan, this analogy also works with The Cosby Show "“ Denise's husband Lt. Martin Kendall previously appeared in season two as Sondra's date Darryl, a pre-med student Cliff Huxtable found preferable to Elvin and his wilderness-store-in-Brooklyn dreams.

When it comes to awkwardness prevention and sitcom enjoyability, feigned ignorance is bliss.

Does this remind you of anything or anybody? Earlier this year I convinced my law firm to let me start a law blog on our website. While it sounded like a great idea and has been fairly successful, they haven't let me scale back any of my lawyer duties. I'm working harder and longer than ever and totally drained. Now I'm almost certainly going to have to quit.

"“Dylan
New York, New York

It sounds like you were (metaphorically) killed by your own invention. Surprisingly, this is not uncommon. Otto Lilienthal was killed while testing a hang glider he'd invented. Franz Reichelt was killed after jumping off the Eiffel Tower to test his overcoat/parachute. William Bullock's foot was crushed by his rotary printing press and died from the subsequent infection. Wikipedia has a whole entry on this: List of inventors killed by their inventions. At least you've lived to tell your story.

After losing some key accounts, my company has laid off thirty people so far this year. Lots of good friends have been let go. There are only twenty of us left. As you'd expect, morale is low. Any analogies to make us feel better?
"“Name withheld
San Diego, California

This is a tough one. Watching your friends get shown the door is obviously painful. And you're all probably wondering who's next. I doubt this will help, but here's an explanation of forest rebirth posted in Muir Woods, outside San Francisco:

muirwoods.jpg

In case you're having trouble reading, the last line says, "Rather than an area of death and destruction this is a wonderful place for us to watch the rebirth of the forest. The debris [from the felled tree] created new habitat for animals, while the new gap in the canopy allows sunlight in, encouraging plant growth. This is not an end, but a beginning."

Sure, comparing your fired friends to old, dead trees is a little callous. But there's a possibility your company can turn things around. Maybe a more helpful place to look is the slogan of New York Lotto: "Hey, you never know."

Dear Analogist: I've been temping with an insurance company, splitting time between communications and HR. The HR folks just offered me a full-time position. A job's a job and I'm grateful and happy. But when I asked my boss in communications why they didn't want me, he told me that they did. However, last week, both groups had booked our main conference room for different important simultaneous meetings. HR agreed to find another meeting space if communications agreed to give me up. I've been traded for a two-hour stint in a conference room! Has anything like this ever happened before?

winfieldFleer.jpg"“Alicia
Connecticut

This isn't as bad as it sounds. And I don't mean that in a "be happy you're employed" way. This reminds me of a story about Dave Winfield, who had an illustrious Hall of Fame career, compiling over 3,000 hits in 22 seasons. Two weeks before the 1994 baseball strike, Winfield was traded from the Minnesota Twins to the Cleveland Indians for the proverbial "player to be named later." Winfield hadn't played in a game for Cleveland when the strike forced the cancellation of the season. In all the turmoil and labor strife, no player was ever named to complete the transaction.

To settle the trade, executives from Cleveland and Minnesota went to dinner, and the Indians picked up the check. So Dave Winfield "“ according to The Sporting News, the 94th greatest player of all-time "“ was traded for a dinner. You're in good company. Congrats on the new job.

Dear Analogist: Since being named Best Man in my buddy's wedding, I've taken a new job in Dallas (commuting back to Phoenix on weekends), broken my collarbone in a freak street hockey accident, and found out I'm being audited. The point? No time to plan a bachelor party. One of our high school friends — a guy not even in the wedding party — really picked up the slack. He's been incredible with this thing, and we've got a kick ass weekend in Mexico ahead of us. My question — how do I get this point across to the groom? I'm worried I'll get credit I don't deserve. Who else in history has taken on so much responsibility? (And don't say LeBron James against the Pistons in last year's playoffs. That one I could come up with on my own.)

"“GTP
Phoenix, AZ

How about LeBron James against the Pistons in last year's playoffs? Oh, right.

While I'm not sure just how impressive your friend's actions really were, a great analogy for one person carrying a group is the 1884 season of Providence Grays pitcher Charles "Old Hoss" Radbourn.

I will let the fine folks from Baseball-Fever.com explain:

radbourn.jpgOn July 23, 1884, Providence Grays pitcher Radbourn begins what may be the most remarkable feat in baseball history. "˜Old Hoss' pledges to pitch every game for the rest of the season if the Grays would agree not to reserve him for the following year. He pitches in nine straight games, winning seven, losing one and tying one. He takes a "˜day off' and plays right field before returning to pitch six more consecutive games. He plays shortstop for a single game and then pitches in 20 more consecutive games, winning 10 before having his 20-game win streak stopped. He would lead the NL in wins with 60, an ERA of 1.38, innings pitched with 678.2, strikeouts with 441, complete games with 73 and winning percentage with a .833 mark. The Grays would win the pennant by 10½ games over the Boston Beaneaters.

If the groom's not a baseball fan and thus can't appreciate this incredible feat, another comparison is Sean Connery's character in The Rock. I haven't seen that movie in about five years, but I think I remember him really going above and beyond for Nic Cage in the end. Have fun in Mexico. Good luck with the audit.

Again, if you have a situation you need Analogized, email me.

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ERIC FEFERBERG, AFP/Getty Images
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9 Scandals that Rocked the Figure Skating World
ERIC FEFERBERG, AFP/Getty Images
ERIC FEFERBERG, AFP/Getty Images

Don't let the ornate costumes and beautiful choreography fool you, figure skaters are no strangers to scandal. Here are nine notable ones.

1. TONYA AND NANCY.

Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding
Pascal Rondeau, ALLSPORT/Getty Images

In 1994, a little club-and-run thrust the sport of figure skating into the spotlight. The assault on reigning national champion Nancy Kerrigan (and her subsequent anguished cries) at the 1994 U.S. National Figure Skating Championships in Detroit was heard round the world, as were the allegations that her main rival, Tonya Harding, may have been behind it all.

The story goes a little something like this: As America's sweetheart (Kerrigan) is preparing to compete for a spot on the U.S. Olympic team bound for Lillehammer, Norway, she gets clubbed in the knee outside the locker room after practice. Kerrigan is forced to withdraw from competition and Harding gets the gold. Details soon emerge that Harding's ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, was behind the attack (he hired a hitman). Harding denies any knowledge or involvement, but tanks at the Olympics the following month. She then pleads guilty to hindering prosecution of Gillooly and his co-conspirators, bodyguard Shawn Eckhart and hitman Shane Stant. And then she's banned from figure skating for life.

Questions about Harding's guilt remain two decades later, and the event is still a topic of conversation today. Recently, both an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary and the Oscar-nominated film I, Tonya revisited the saga, proving we can't get enough of a little figure skating scandal.

2. HAND-PICKED FOR GOLD.

Mirai Nagasu and Ashley Wagner at the podium
Jared Wickerham, Getty Images

Usually it's the top three medalists at the U.S. Nationals that compete for America at the Winter Olympics every four years. But in 2014, gold medalist Gracie Gold (no pun intended), silver medalist Polina Edmunds, and ... "pewter" medalist Ashley Wagner were destined for Sochi.

What about the bronze medalist, you ask? Mirai Nagasu, despite out-skating Wagner by a landslide in Boston and despite being the only skater with prior Olympic experience (she placed fourth at Vancouver in 2010) had to watch it all on television. The decision by the country's governing body of figure skating (United States Figure Skating Association, or USFS) deeply divided the skating community as to whether it was the right choice to pass over Nagasu in favor of Wagner, who hadn't skated so great, and it put a global spotlight on the selection process.

In reality, the athletes that we send to the Olympics are not chosen solely on their performance at Nationals—it's one of many criteria taken into consideration, including performance in international competition over the previous year, difficulty of each skater's technical elements, and, to some degree, their marketability to a world audience. This has happened before to other skaters—most notably Michelle Kwan was relegated to being an alternate in 1994 after Nancy Kerrigan was granted a medical bye after the leg-clubbing heard round the world. Nagasu had the right to appeal the decision, and was encouraged to do so by mobs of angry skating fans, but she elected not to.

3. SALT LAKE CITY, 2002.

Pairs skaters Jamie Sale and David Pelletier of Canada and Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze of Russia perform in the figure skating exhibition during the Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games at the Salt Lake Ice Center in Salt Lake City, Utah
Brian Bahr, Getty Images

Objectively, this scandal rocked the skating world the hardest, because the end result was a shattering of the competitive sport's very structure. When Canadian pairs team Jamie Sale and David Pelletier found themselves in second place after a flawless freeskate at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake, something wasn't right. The Russian team of Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze placed first, despite a technically flawed performance.

An investigation into the result revealed that judges had conspired to fix the results of the pairs and dance events—a French judge admitted to being pressured to vote for the Russian pair in exchange for a boost for the French dance team (who won that event). In the end, both pairs teams were awarded a gold medal, and the entire system of judging figure skating competition was thrown out and rebuilt.

4. AGENT OF STYLE.

Jackson Haines was an American figure skater in the mid-1800s who had some crazy ideas about the sport. He had this absolutely ludicrous notion of skating to music (music!), waltzing on ice, as well as incorporating balletic movements, athletic jumps, and spins into competition. His brand new style of skating was in complete contrast to the rigid, traditional, and formal (read: awkward) standard of tracing figure-eights into the ice. Needless to say, it was not well received by the skating world in America, so he was forced to take his talents to the Old World.

His new “international style” did eventually catch on around the globe, and Haines is now hailed as the father of modern figure skating. He also invented the sit spin, a technical element now required in almost every level and discipline of the sport.

5. LADIES LAST.

In 1902, competitive figure skating was a gentlemen's pursuit. Ladies simply didn't compete by themselves on the world stage (though they did compete in pairs events). But a British skater named Madge Syers flouted that standard, entering the World Figure Skating Championships in 1902. She ruffled a lot of feathers, but was ultimately allowed to compete and beat the pants off every man save one, earning the silver medal.

Her actions sparked a controversy that spurred the International Skating Union to create a separate competitive world event for women in 1906. Madge went on to win that twice, and became Olympic champion at the 1908 summer games [PDF] in London—the first “winter” Olympics weren't held until 1924 in France, several years after Madge died in 1917.

6. AGENT OF STYLE, PART 2.

A picture of Norwegian figure skater Sonja Henie
Keystone/Getty Images

Norwegian skater Sonja Henie was the darling of the figure skating world in the first half of the 20th century. The flirtatious blonde was a three-time Olympic champion, a movie star, and the role model of countless aspiring skaters. She brought sexy back to skating—or rather, introduced it. She was the first skater to wear scandalously short skirts and white skates. Prior to her bold fashion choices, ladies wore black skates and long, conservative skirts. During WWII, a fabric shortage hiked up the skirts even further than Henie's typical length, and the ladies of figure skating have never looked back.

7. TOO SEXY FOR HER SKATES.

Katarina Witt displaying her gold medal
DANIEL JANIN, AFP/Getty Images

A buxom young beauty from the former Democratic German Republic dominated ladies figure skating in the mid- to late 1980s. A two-time Olympic champion, and one of the most decorated female skaters in history, Katarina Witt was just too sexy for her shirt—she tended to wear scandalously revealing costumes (one of which resulted in a wardrobe malfunction during a show), and was criticized for attempting to flirt with the judges to earn higher scores.

The ISU put the kibosh on the controversial outfits soon afterward, inserting a rule that all competitive female skaters “must not give the effect of excessive nudity inappropriate for an athletic sport.” The outrage forced Witt to add some fabric to her competitive outfits in the late '80s. But 10 years later she took it all off, posing naked for a 1998 issue of Playboy.

8. MORE COSTUME CONTROVERSY.

For the 2010 competitive year, the ISU's annual theme for the original dance segment (since defunct and replaced by the “short dance”) was “country/folk.” That meant competitors had to create a routine that explored some aspect of it, in both music and costume as well as in maneuvers. The top Russian pair chose to emulate Aboriginal tribal dancing in their program, decked in full bodysuits adorned with their interpretation of Aboriginal body paint (and a loincloth).

Their debut performance at the European Championships drew heavy criticism from Aboriginal groups in both Australia and Canada, who were greatly offended by the inaccuracy of the costumes and the routine. The Russian pair, Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin, were quick to dial down the costumes and dial up the accuracy in time for the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, but the judges were not impressed. They ended up with the bronze, ending decades of Russian dominance in the discipline. (With the glaring exception of 2002, of course.)

9. IN MEMORIAM.

While not a scandal, this event bears mentioning because it has rocked the figure skating world arguably more than anything else. In February of 1961, the American figure skating team boarded a flight to Belgium from New York, en route to the World Championships in Prague. The plane went down mysteriously (cause still questioned today) as it tried to land in Brussels, killing all 72 passengers. America's top skaters and coaches had been aboard, including nine-time U.S. Champion and Olympic bronze medalist-turned-coach Maribel Vinson-Owen and her daughter Laurence Owen, a 16-year-old who had been heavily favored to win the ladies event that year.

The ISU canceled the competition upon the news of the crash and the United States lost its long-held dominance in the sport for almost a decade. The United States Figure Skating Association (USFS) soon after established a memorial fund that helped support the skating careers of competitors in need of financial assistance, including future Olympic champions like Scott Hamilton and Peggy Fleming.

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Disney/Marvel Studios
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Marvel vs. DC: This Map Shows Each State’s Favorite Comic Universe
Disney/Marvel Studios
Disney/Marvel Studios

Which comic book company is the best: Marvel or DC? This is a perennial argument on middle-school playgrounds and Reddit threads, but this map, courtesy of USDish.com, might just give us a definitive answer. The information here is broken down by state, using information provided by Google Trends to give us a clear winner of not only the most popular comic book company but also the most popular individual hero in each state (let’s show a little respect to Indiana for championing the Martian Manhunter).

According to the map, Marvel is the most popular publisher in 37 states, with DC trailing behind at eight, and five additional states coming to a 50/50 stalemate. The totals weren’t a blowout, though. In certain states like Mississippi, Iowa, and Pennsylvania, the favored company only won by a point. And just because a state searches Google for a specific publisher the most doesn’t mean an individual character from the opposing team isn’t its favorite—Hawaii is listed as favoring Marvel overall, yet they love Aquaman on his own. Same with DC-loving Maryland showing Black Panther some love (helps to have a big movie coming out). Take a look at some of the most notable state preferences below:

So how did Marvel amass so many states when there are just as many DC TV shows and movies out there? Well, according to Andrew Selepak, Ph.D., a professor in the department of telecommunication at the University of Florida, and director of the graduate program in social media, the answer lies in the depth at the House of Ideas.

“While Superman and Batman may be dominant characters,” Selepak said in a statement, “the DC Universe offers few other well-known heroes and villains and when these other characters are presented to the audience in film and on TV, they often are less than well-received.” This is opposed to Marvel, which launches new heroes on the big and small screen seemingly every year.

Does this map tell the whole story? That’s up for debate. When it comes to comics sold, DC and Marvel are always in a close battle: In January 2018, DC had six of the 10 best-selling comics of the month, placing four of the top five. Marvel, meanwhile, had three, while Image Comics had one with The Walking Dead. In terms of overall retail market share, though, Marvel eked out DC 34.3 percent to 33.8 percent.

This is a battle that's been raging since the 1960s, and for an industry that thrives on a never-ending fight between good and evil, we shouldn't expect the Marvel vs. DC debate to be settled anytime soon.

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