Sonja Henie won more medals Olympic and World titles than any other ladies’ figure skater to date. According to Wikipedia, “Henie is credited with being the first figure skater to adopt the short skirt costume, wear white boots, and make use of dance choreography. Her innovative skating techniques and glamorous demeanor transformed the sport permanently and confirmed its acceptance as a legitimate sport in the Winter Olympics.” Summing it up, she was the first lady to glide around on ice, leap into the air wearing a darling little skirt, do one revolution midair, and land on one foot skating backward in a balletic arabesque. It was the stuff of legends. And if she could have seen Nathan ‘Quad’ Chen skate his freeform recently, she probably wouldn’t have believed her eyes. Six quadruple turns in one program. It was hard for me to believe and I am no Sonja Henie. To spill all, Ms. Henie was born into a wealthy Norwegian family and became famous during Hitler’s rise to power. There has been controversy over her acceptance of him during the war, but she denied most accusations and donated pots of money to the Norwegian Relief Fund once she came to America. There is no doubt she had a checkered political past, but she was and is the mother of figure skating, as we know it today. If you get a chance, see Sun Valley Serenade, a film she made in 1941 with John Payne. Not only do you see her skate, you can watch her ski. And the movie is a hoot!
And I’m here to tell you it’s a little like a ride at Disneyland, a 45-minute wait, five-minute ride, but not nearly as much fun. At this point, it takes two people to drive a self-driven car, one to sit behind the wheel and the other in the passenger seat, staring at a monitor to key in the route on a keyboard. Driver two has to pay attention to any variable that might get thrown at the little darling. Like a pedestrian or stray dog wandering nearby. As a ‘level-three’ car, it doesn’t do u-turns yet. The person behind the wheel has to do that. However, it does go forward, albeit at 19-miles an hour. I’m not sure if it backs up. We never saw that. But it will stop at stop signs. Where we live there aren’t any stoplights, which is a good thing, because it doesn’t do stop lights, either. But it is very cute, and if you need to feel smug about your own driving ability, this is the car for you to investigate. It seems like all the things a driver automatically does has to be keyed into the computer. Apparently, we are able to do a gazillion things at one time, even the worst driver among us, but it’s all in the future for these little self-driven love bugs. Altho, despair not. If you are under 40, the reliable self-driven car, which is ‘level-four’ and capable of city driving, might just be in your future. As I am somewhat older, it probably isn’t in mine. And it’s just as well. I prefer Disneyland.