009: The Ropers

Things to distract your mind on a stressful day

It’s Election Day. I’m a nervous wreck. You’re a nervous wreck. We probably won’t know the results tonight. It’s like the sword of Damocles* is hanging over our heads.

So for this week’s newsletter, I offer you respite. Here are a few delightful things that have nothing at all to do with the election.

Jump Rope Is Not What It Used To Be

When I was a kid, the fanciest jump roping (jumping rope?) I ever saw was the double dutch on Sesame Street.

I knew competitive jump rope existed, but over the years I haven’t really given it much thought. I certainly didn’t imagine how much it has evolved.

A few months ago I saw a video on Reddit that opened my eyes. A woman was doing jump rope tricks like I had never seen before. Her name is Tori Boggs, and she’s among the top jump ropers in the world, winner of 30 Grand World Jump Rope titles.

This is the video I saw, which I’ve converted to a gif here but you can see in higher quality on Tori’s Instagram.

What caught my eye were the jump rope “releases” (as I later learned they’re called), where she lets go of the rope and catches it fluidly. I had no idea that jumping rope now involved doing a whole routine with the rope. It reminded me of the rope tricks of old Wild West shows and folks like Will Rogers. In fact, here’s footage of Rogers doing rope tricks just about 100 years ago:

There’s less fancy footwork, but a lot of commonality. I’ve done some Googling to see if there are any straight lines that can be drawn from Rogers’ style of rope tricks and modern jump roping, but I haven’t found a connection. Maybe there’s a jump rope journal somewhere that has written an article about the history of rope tricks, but I couldn’t find it. Maybe they both trace their history back to an even older tradition of rope tricks.

After I saw that video on Reddit, I took a dive down Tori’s Instagram feed and website. She makes it look so easy in video after video.

And it turns out that I even underestimated how far double dutch has come along. Here is Tori jumping rope inside double dutch ropes! My mind is blown.

And then the internet did what it does and recommended I follow other professional jump ropers. And then it started advertising jump rope workouts to me.

And, friends, I may or may not have purchased a jump rope recently. I will neither confirm nor deny. But I will say my calves are sore today.

Print These Photos Of Your “Friends”

Need more distraction today? Okay.

There’s a niche category of celebrity photos that I particularly enjoy: out-of-costume and out-of-context cast photos. The kind of thing you could print out, put on your fridge, and nobody would notice they were celebrity photos unless they took a second look.

Here’s an example:

Print that out and hang it up in your cubicle next to all your other pictures (one day, when you go back to the office). Don’t do anything special to draw attention to it. Just stick it up with a thumbtack like you do with all the other photos in your cube. One day someone will come over and ask who you’ve got pictures of.

“Oh, that picture is my kid, and those are my parents. Oh, and this picture is just a bunch of my old friends from the Goon Docks.”

For these photos to work, it’s important they have nothing in them that suggests it was taken on a set, or behind the scenes. So no cameras in the background, and no costumes. Just people hanging out.

Here’s another one:

“Oh, that picture? Yeah, that’s just from when my mates came to visit. I met them when I studied abroad in Hampshire.”

“Yeah, that’s my senior class photo from High School. There’s Heather, Heather, Heather, Veronica, and J.D.”

“Oh, yeah, those are some friends from Hogwar—uh, elementary school.”

“That’s my Dad in the blue tie with a bunch of his old college buddies, and definitely not the cast of Night of the Living Dead, if that’s what you’re thinking.”

*Speaking of the Sword of Damocles

Did you know that the song “The Sword of Damocles” from The Rocky Horror Picture Show is not on the movie’s soundtrack? I noticed it was missing recently while listening to the soundtrack in a fit of nostalgia. So I looked it up. It turns out there’s a story behind why, as told by the film’s Executive Producer Lou Adler:

Peter Hinwood, who played Rocky, did not sing, so we dubbed him. It turns out that there was a version of the song that was recorded by someone from the chorus. They were playing that version in his ear for him to mimic to… But what happened was Jim Sharman, the director, didn’t think it sounded naïve enough, like something that somebody that was just born, which was the Rocky character, would sing. So they had someone on the set, an Australian singer named Trevor White, sing it right to 35mm. It never went to tape. And that’s why we didn’t get on a soundtrack.

This is not one of the delightful things I said would be in this newsletter, though. This was just a bonus thing.

Still Thinking About The Election?

Yeah. Me, too.

If you haven’t yet, go vote (for Biden)! I’ll be back next week. See you then.


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When they do the double-dutch, that’s them dancing.
(Aren’t you glad this issue wasn’t about The Ropers?)