Friday, June 10, 2005

Sumo Wars...

In the Times we have this tale of a feud between two Sumo-wrestling brothers:
THERE have been few dynasties in any sport as glorious as that of the late Futagoyama. In his heyday in the 1970s, he was one of the best-loved sumo wrestlers, admired as much for his looks as for his prowess.
Twenty-five years later, his sons, the grand champions known as Wakanohana and Takanohana, achieved even greater feats, and Futagoyama’s stable of wrestlers dominated the sport. His passing was always going to be a blow to sumo — but no one predicted how destructive it would be.
Since the death of the great man a fortnight ago, his family have indulged in an orgy of bickering. They have quarrelled over his corpse, at his funeral and in interviews. The feud has dominated daytime television, to the appalled fascination of viewers.
Taka inherited his father’s sumo stable after his retirement. Waka became a TV celebrity and sports commentator and opened a chain of restaurants that serve chanko nabe, the stew that gives sumo wrestlers their essential bulk. As long as their father was alive, their antipathy was kept in check, but from the moment of his death — from mouth cancer at the age of 55 — it has been out in the open.
According to Japanese magazines, the brothers argued over Futagoyama’s body for five hours about who should be chief mourner at the funeral. As the elder son, Waka was the traditional choice — but Taka insisted that he had forfeited the place of honour when he abandoned the dignified world of sumo for the tawdry realm of showbiz.
“He should understand what his public role is,” Takanohana told reporters. “He has quit sumo circles and (to lead the funeral) is impolite to the sumo elders attending the service. We’re not on speaking terms over these matters. People tell us to get along well with each other, but it is impossible.”
The OED is looking for help in establishing the origins of certain modern words. Here's the list - can you prove that any of those words were used earlier than indicated? (Warning: Lots of Britishisms...)
The Corriere della Sera's excellent cartoonist depicts Cardinal Ruini's appeal to Italians to abstain from the forthcoming 'fertility' referendum. The Church wants the measure defeated and it seems the best way to do so is to ensure that it doesn't reach the 50% quorum required by law. Ruini is saying 'I give you my blessing, but don't make any signs of the cross'.

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