Monday, February 22, 2010

The Olympics and Performance Enhancing Drugs

I saw a little of the ice dancing last night during the Olympic television coverage. Some of the outlandish costumes got me to thinking about a book I read as a child. It wasn't about skating but I loved the funny outfits the main characters wore. One was a small, mustachioed guy with wings on his helmet. The other was a very large, blue and white striped pants wearing guy with long, read pony tails. You may recognize these two as Asterix and Obelix.
“Asterix at the Olympic Games” 
By René Goscinny
Illustrated by Albert Uderzo
For Ages 5 – 10
• “Asterix at the Olympic Games” is fun comic book style storytelling filled with puns, wordplay, and silliness kids will enjoy, combined with social satire for adult interests. Rated 3 (silly, wordplay, adult satire, translation)

I read “Asterix the Gaul” when I was a kid. I always enjoyed the puns, wordplay, and character names. They were fun comic book style adventures. Asterix’s adventure at the Olympics was one of my favorites.

Originally published in France during the 1960s, Asterix’s adventures were covered in more than 30 graphic novels. They’ve been translated pretty well from French to English and are enjoyable adventures for children. However, adults are the true audience. Goscinny wove political and social satire throughout the stories — much of it is still relevant today. “Asterix at the Olympic Games,” is almost prophetic in touching on performance enhancing drugs long before the modern scandals.

“Asterix at the Olympic Games” finds the Romans near Vitalstatistix’s village excited that Glueteus Maximus is going to compete at the Greek Olympics. Much to the Roman’s chagrin the Gauls want in on the fun. Trying to gain any advantage they can, all the men in the village take Panoramix’s magic potion and head to Greece. The Greeks learn about the magic potion and threaten to disqualify the Gauls, which forces Asterix to enter on his own and without the aid of the magic potion.

Will Asterix win gold or will the Greeks and Romans reign supreme. Well, if I tell you that I’ll spoil the ending. So go out and read it yourself. It will put a smile on your face.

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