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Friday, August 06, 2004

TFGIFF. Lots to cover today, so let's get to it.

The anniversary dinner was excellent. We ate out on the deck, overlooking the wishing well and garden where we were married four years ago. The lovely view was marred by groups of Neanderthal-esque Arizonans lumbering into the scene to take photos with their antiquated Polaroid One-Step cameras. "Zonies" are a filthy people, and a massive wall should be erected around their state to prevent them from escaping and unleashing their depravations on the rest of our fair country. Governor Arnold, if you truly are a man of the people, you will declare war on Arizona, and lead our National Guard into battle against these modern day Huns. You can do it, and the people will follow you. I envision you, Governator, resplendant in your "Commando" costume, camouflage face paint and sleeveless fatigue shirt, addressing your legions - I think you'd do a hell of a job with Shakespeare's "once more onto the breech" rally speech from "Henry IV". But I digress. Many compliments were bestowed by Prado staff and patrons upon Lucas, who was perfectly content to sit in his carseat and stare at the lights, umbrellas, and people. He is remarkable well behaved in public, unlike his father, who was chastised for making fun of a fellow diner with a horrifically large Adam's apple. Poor guy looked like a python swallowing a small puppy.

Lest I be accused of being a complete Kerryboy, I was somewhat dismayed by the comments made by JK about how he would have reacted when given the news about the planes flying into the WTC. Much has been made over Dubya's blank look and apparent freezing up when his reading session with grade schoolers was interrupted by the annoucement. Kerry yesterday played Monday morning quarterback (see this article: http://www.cnn.com/2004/ALLPOLITICS/08/05/kerry.911/index.html), saying that he would have immediately wrapped things up with the kids and rushed out to handle things. Maybe so, maybe not. My response, and I believe I speak for most Americans, would have been something along the lines of: "Excuse me, children, but I have soiled myself and need to change my trousers." In any case, Bush can and should be judged on his wildly uneven post-9/11 anti-terror record; the things he's screwed up over the past three years far outweigh what he did or didn't do in the 7 minutes after the attacks.

http://www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/meast/08/06/iraq.main/index.html

Kurt pointed out that there seems to be a trend developing: the administration using enemy body counts as a measure of success in Iraq. Good on ya! This strategy worked out well in Vietnam, so let's go with it! Yikes - doesn't anyone realize that if we fuck up in Iraq, Sylvester Stallone will make "Rambo IV: Back to Baghdad"?

On to the rugby. This weekend brings us Australia v. New Zealand. The NZ All-Blacks (so named for the color of their uniforms, perhaps the least creative team name in the history of organized sports) count among their numbers the Scariest Human on The Planet, forward Kees Meeuws - remember the Ice Monster in "The Empire Strikes Back", the one that knocks Luke out and hangs him by his feet in the cave, presumably to dine on/have relations with later? Shave the Ice Monster down, put him in a New Zealans uni, kick him in the nuts to REALLY piss him off, and you have Kees Meeuws. The Wallabies have the intangibles on their side, namely home field advantage. It's challenging for visitors to play when 80,000 drunks are shrieking the lyrics to "Waltzing Matilida" for 80 minutes. My prediction: Australia by 3.

Here then, for you neophytes watching the sport for the first time, is my list of Fun Things To Look For In Rugby.

1: The Boots. Rugby players wear very special shoes - referred to as "boots" - which enable them to play safely. Rugby boots have 8 cleats, each about an inch long and made of bright shiny aluminum. Again, this is for safety - the long cleats give them the traction they need to run on slippery grass surfaces. The tips of the cleats are rounded, again for safety - don't want anyone to get scratched, do we? Thus, rugby players can safely put their cleats on the backs and legs of opposing players and rake them, giving their opponents long red welts. Which they do. Constantly. Fun!

2. Great Camera Work: When you watch sports on TV, you inevitably get shots of various fans in the stands, cheering, wearing funny costumes, etc. On American TV, you see fans of all ages, men and women, boys and girls, fat and thin. I suspect that the same 3 teenage boys run the cameras for all of the international rugby matches. Either that, or the crowds that show up for the matches consist entirely of hot chicks in tight clothing.

3. Bizarre terminology: Example - a rugby ball does not go "out of bounds", rather, it's "in touch". Which at first makes no sense, because you're not supposed to touch the ball if it's out of bounds. But that's ok, because any contact sport that incorporates the terms "ruck" and "maul" must be cool.

4. Joe Rokocoko: All-Blacks winger. In U.S. football terms, he's like the running back. Except that unlike U.S. football players, he plays offense and defense, without pads, running pretty much the entire time during the course of two 40 minute halves. Right now he's the best in the world at his position, and is truly amazing to watch.

5. Drop goals: One way to score in rugby is by drop kicking the ball through the goal posts. Sounds easy, right? In a rugby drop goal, you have to drop the ball so that it takes a bounce before you kick it. This is hard; try it with a football and you'll see. Add to that the fact that you do this while the game is on - in other words, there's a bunch of guys running at you to tackle you - and your teammates are not allowed to block for you.

I'll have more of these in future installments. I go now to mourn the passing of Rick James, who has left us for a better place. He was, and ever shall be, a Superfreak. I leave you with the following to ponder: if Mary Kay Letourneau and her boyfriend were a man and a girl respectively, would the media still be wondering if the two were going to live happily ever after?

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