Always after me Lucky Charms... I've been urged to blog about the fact that the Ireland rugby side have won a grand slam victory (i.e. beaten all five of their opponents) in the Six Nations Tournament over the weekend, making this the first time since 1948 that they have done so. The most recent side to topple to them was Wales.
The Guinness must have been flowing like mad in Dublin.
One of the first things I learned about Ireland, based on a remark from a commentator in a 1999 televised match I saw, was that they play a "disruptive" style of rugby. Translation: They start fights a lot.
And why they added Italy to the Five Nations to make it Six, I don't know. The expectation was that their level of play would improve, having to take on France, England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. While this may have happened (I don't know), it hasn't led to many victories. Italy rugby sucks. But you know who sucks more than Italy? We do, for starters.
I always find it jarring to learn when the United States of America isn't Number One at something, such is the power of American self-promotion. In fact, when it comes to rugby we usually hover around the same ranking as Romania. Yes, Romania, where Dracula comes from and the telecommunications infrastructure is paleolithic. When the Rugby World Cup is held every four years we're referred to by the press as one of the rugby "minnows." But we have another, more sinister title: "The Sleeping Giant."
Fact is, the rest of the world is well aware that if rugby union ever became as popular in the U.S. as NFL gridiron football - that is, if rugby was backed up with tons and tons of cash, product endorsements and freakishly gifted celebrity players - we would quickly dominate it.
No danger of that ever happening, though. In my years of playing rugby at the club level and helping to administer a rugby club I have seen again and again how totally dysfunctional USA Rugby (the sanctioning entity in the U.S.) is. If there is any agenda there at all of growing the game in the U.S. by helping or encouraging the small "grassroots" clubs, it was never apparent to me. In fact, I once observed a case of the local unions discouraging play! (Go here and read the entry for Fall 2005.)
I mentioned way back that I bought a 2007 Beetle convertible. Ever since, I have noted the number of other new Beetles that I see on the road which have one headlight out, and drew the conclusion that the headlamps must be hard to replace. I found out for myself last night, when I noticed that one of my lights - those incredibly annoying daytime running lamps - was out.
With the help of an Internet how-to page, I discovered that while the bulb isn't hard to replace once you know how, it's tricky, and that people not used to tackling challenging repairs might be discouraged from doing so. This explains the number of one-eyed bugs I see. The whole headlight assembly has to come out of the fender... this involves releasing a lock and pressing a level to free the assembly. It's not hard, but it's also not obvious at all!
Who really benefits by DRLs? Lamp manufacturers, whom I'm sure lobbied Congress for the laws requiring them.
Last night I saw an excellent postwar British film, Cavalcanti's Nicholas Nickleby (1947). The online reviews are generally unfavorable, but I enjoyed the typically great British cast of actors and wonderful sets. I will admit, however, that the Dickens plot is a lot to cram into 108 minutes and that this production is really a second best work compared to the two immortal David Lean adaptations (Oliver Twist and Great Expectations). But it was still well worth watching. I could watch British character actors for hours... and this one has some good ones.
Who? Well, James Hayter, for one. American audiences know him best as one of the senior menswear assistants on the Britcom "Are You Being Served?" later in the series' run.
Sally Ann Howes was also in this, although not really in a "character" part. She played a sweet young thing. (Ethan: You know her as the teenage girl in "Dead of Night.")
Stanley Holloway was one of the great postwar British comic actors; in this he played a flamboyant actor. He lit up practically everything he appeared in.
Bernard Miles (or more formally Baron Miles, MBE) played Newman Noggs, one of Dickens' many strangely-named characters. A wonderful actor to watch.
In fact, they all were. My Dad used to enjoy postwar British productions for this very reason as well - the actors. In America, the star system creates handsome and beautiful actors and actresses. In Great Britain, the emphasis seems to be less upon looks and more upon acting ability. I'll take a British production any day.
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