Interesting weekend. Yard sales were few and far-between; I didn't buy anything from them. I got a couple of neat books instead from a library sale - the library is always the last stop in my route: an English pamphlet about ghosts in the Tower of London which probably sold for $20 (unfavorable exchange rates) in one of the gift stores located therein and a nice hardbound Time-Life book about Civil War soldier life.
The Rugby World Cup has begun! I watched the New Zealand All-Blacks beat the Tongans in the first match of the tournament Friday, although the second half looked much better for Tonga. So it was the expected win, but not a convincing one for the Men in Black. I also saw the United States Eagles play Ireland; same story there. It was the expected win but not a convincing one for Ireland, 22-10. There should have been a much bigger points spread. The boys in the red, white and blue were doing some fierce tackling in the first half - 68 tackles, only 9 of which were missed. And up until the last minute of the first half the score was Ireland 3 - Eagles 0. Not bad at all, until Ireland scored a try. Wasn't it great to see rugby broadcast on NBC in high definition? Yes, it was. But I don't know how sports fans do it - three hours of pre-game, game, half-time analysis and a post game show wiped me out. I got a headache. I can't sit still that long! No wonder there are so many NFL fan beer bellies...
Eagles Captain Todd Clever was picking Irishmen up and dropping 'em down, but I suspect that if he got a haircut and didn't look so much like Billy Ray Cyrus the Eagles would play better. Just a thought. Ponytails, after all, are much more of a soccer thing than they are a rugby thing. The next match this Thursday is a Cold War battle: United States vs. Russia. Only this time the war will be fought in earnest on a rugby pitch, never mind the Olympics, chess games, International Tchaikovsky Piano Competitions or nukes.
9/11, ten years ago yesterday... my famous Little Voice (the one I always regret not listening to) told me not to go to work that day, so I took the day off and went to lunch with my daughter Meredith in the school cafeteria. Needless to say, I said nothing about the jets hitting the World Trade Centers or the Pentagon (my little voice again). One of the teachers later whispered to me not to since some kids have family working at the Pentagon, duh. Like much of the rest of the country I watched the whole story unfold on television. I understand that it took some of my co-workers many hours to get home that night due to traffic problems.
The big issue for me that night was whether or not to cancel rugby practice! I was one of the club's officers at the time, and in rugby - at least in my club - there is a cultural bias against canceling practice. It just isn't done. If heavy rain shuts down the field we use and we don't have an alternate, well, that's different. We will often meet at a pub somewhere and do a chalk talk. Anyway, we officers exchanged e-mails to discuss it, and I pointed out that the civil authorities were telling people to stay off the highways in the D.C. area. So that settled it.
The next big issue was, do we play the match that weekend or not, out of respect to the fallen? One club canceled its match but we played ours. I made a point of mentioning on the web site and in my e-mails that rugby is a game played by free men - the Taliban doesn't play rugby. I remember it being kind of weird, the after-match party at the pub with 9/11 footage being shown on the televisions...
Later on we learned about the heroic 9/11 - rugby connection, Mark Bingham. And for a while it became a rugby thing to wear a rugby jersey while flying, sort of a way of telling the flight attendants, "Should you need some physical backup in the case of on board terrorists, ask me. We get violently physical for recreational fun." Later on I learned that a couple of the firemen in that famous photograph were ruggers, and found a hilarious photo of the FDNY club mimicking the pose. I can only imagine the ribbing those poor guys took...
One of our Old Boy players, "the Iceman," a rescue specialist, drove to Manhattan, lied to the authorities to get in and worked 20 hours days helping sort through the rubble at Ground Zero; he took stunning photos which we showed at our annual banquet that year. I wish the images were still up, but they're not and I can't FTP onto the site to re-load them, but here's the introductory page.
So, you see, I have inescapable mental connections between 9/11 and rugby.
Our enemies commemorated the 9/11 anniversary by triggering a truck bomb in Afghanistan that injured seventeen U.S. military members. (No U.S. deaths, thank goodness.) But the homeland remains safe and unattacked. Credit must be given, I think, to former President George W. Bush, who counter-punched after 9/11 effectively and put the Taliban on the global defensive. He sent troops to Afghanistan and Iraq and took the war to the enemy, and set up the civil structure to help prevent another attack. It obviously worked. It would be the job of another president to pull the trigger on Osama bin Laden, but we achieved that war aim as well. And who can credibly insists that Bush had no influence upon that? Had it not been for Bush, the structure would not have been in place to find bin Laden. So... while he is certainly not my favortie president dfor many reasons, I must give credit to George Bush. Living as I do in the D.C. area, I do think about homeland security.
I saw a disappointing film noir over the weekend, Man-Trap (1961). I would have never thought that seeing shapely Stella Stevens cavorting about drunkenly in her skivvies would get old, but it did. As did the drunken swinger couples friends who frequently dropped in on her and her hapless spouse Jeffrey Hunter. Yeesh. Move out of THAT neighborhood!
I also saw a Brit noir which was an okay whodunnit, City After Midnight (1957).
But other than that it was a rugby weekend.
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