Sunday, October 18, 2009

American Football--What a DUD! (by Karen Bessey Pease)

I think I’m in love.

And the best place I can think of to gush about this new-found adoration is here on Down Under Dunder, my pal Jack’s blog.

I’ve been in love before. The first infatuation I can recall was with Steve Austin, The Six Million Dollar Man. Then, as a teenager, I was enthralled with horses--most particularly, McDuff, my blue roan Appaloosa. Into my twenties, I had the hots for Thomas Magnum, of Magnum, P.I. And as I matured towards my thirties, I flipped for Mr. Bessey Pease. (By the way, my husband does not come when he’s called by that name, so you’d be wasting your breath to try. At fifty years old, he’s barely housebroken, and rarely even lays down on command.)

Now… here I am in my forties. Middle aged. Like old McDuff, I’ve gotten long in the tooth. My days of fantasizing that I could run off into the sunset with my bionic dream man are a thing the past. (I still like to make that distinctly bionical, percussion-like sound when I run, though…)

What?????? Aw, c’mon!

Anyway, my new-found love is not for a man, or even a large and noble animal. (And those were, of course, completely different kinds of love. Just thought I should be clear on that…) Nope, my most recent fancy is for a game. A game where there is not just one handsome man to look at…but a whole slew of ‘em! Well-built men…men who are dressed in short shorts and have thighs like those of a Greek god.

Ah, RUGBY!!!

You understand that I am a Mainer, from the United States. The most north-eastern state in the Union. Baseball, hotdogs, apple pies and Chevrolets…that’s what little American girls are made of.

We have our own version of football up here, which is all I was acquainted with until recently. I am a fan of the New England Patriots. I’ve been known, on occasion, to have the patience to watch—for four hours straight--a game that should only last a little more than one hour. I’ve even managed to do so without screaming in frustration. Without cancelling my satellite dish subscription, or cussing too loudly, or swearing off the game forever. But see….American football was all I’d known.

Not so, anymore!

I’ve just had the pleasure of watching some awesome DVDs. Wallaby Wonders. A Decade of the Super 12s. Rugby League’s Greatest Tries of the Century. And I’ve gotta say….Rugby beats the socks off American football! And without a doubt, Rugby uniform socks are MUCH prettier than their American counterparts, too!

Naturally, I’m feeling a bit of guilt, here. Feeling like a traitor to all men with massive shoulder pads, heavy helmets and over-sized cups. But I’m an honest woman—usually to my detriment—and there is no doubt about it-- Rugby makes football look like a game for sissies.

I did NOT just say that!!! Not, not, not!!! I am a loyal American, and would never utter such blasphemous words! This is Jack Ramsay’s blog, and he must have snuck in here and tinkered with the intent of my statement, and censored my words before publication…

What I said is this: Those pro football players need to shuck some clothing and accessories!! To keep my interest from now on, they need to slide along the turf on the skin of their knees instead of the padded upholstery they currently protect themselves with. They need referees who aren’t dropping flags right and left, but who let the game be played despite the potential for bone-crushing boo-boos or slight infractions of the rules. Football players need to doff those huge helmets and let their fans see the agony on their faces when they’re tackled, or the euphoria that lights them when they’ve made a touchdown. (I know, I know…it’s called a ‘try’ here on DUD. Excuse me…I’m still a novice to the game.) Yup, to ensure my enthusiasm for the sport, the NFL players need to toughen up, and they need to undress! Grrr!

Of course, that’s just one American woman’s opinion. But I’m an honest American woman, and I think I’m in love.

Ah, rugby!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Snakes Alive! (by Jack Ramsay)

One tub of lard and I'm anyone's.

I'm no stranger to snakes. I come from Scotland, after all, where the adder still rules the moors. Nah, that's crap - I walked the hills of Perthshire and beyond for years and years and years, and never once saw an adder. I think they're related to the pond-dredging haggii - they're certainly just as rare. Still, a few of my friends claim to have seen one, and that's good enough for me.

Yes, I'm from Scotland, where snakes rule.

Then I came to Australia. But I didn't just rack up here and expect to fit in. I did my homework. I found out what could sting, bite, nip, paralyse, hypnotise or even kill me. I'd list them here for you - from ants to ticks, to wasps, spiders, caterpillars (that's just taking it too far!!!), dingoes, kangaroos (they fight dirty...gouging little so-and-so's), crocs and of course snakes - but it'd take too long and I've got tea brewing. Oh, there are more. And all are in the 'most dangerous in the world' category, or 'the most poisonous...' or 'just one bite can kill a million elephants...'. You get the picture.

So, when I arrived in Australia in April 2000 with my dear lady Alison, I was alert. I was prepared. Nothing would sneak up on me and bite my bahoochie (bum). No red-backed critter would nip my cheek while I contemplated the state of the Chinese economy in the dunny at the end of the garden. Nuh-huh.

We rented a place in Perth in Western Australia, moved in, and after the removalists had gone we sat outside with a 'coldie' or three and breathed a big sigh of relief - we'd arrived in Australia at long last. The sun went down, the cloudless sky turned purple and eventually we clambered over boxes and cartons to get to the bed, exhausted from the stress of moving home from one side of the planet to the other.

I didn't get much sleep. All those documentaries I'd watched; all those natural history museums I'd visited (and all their gift-shop books I'd bought) came back to haunt me. I'd visions of huntsmen - like the one I found in my new garden shed a few minutes after picking up the keys - marauding over us as we slumbered with our mouths agape (I've seen Alison sleep like that all night - all night!) I tried to relax, thought of haggis hunting on the Perthshire moors, and was soon drifting off...

And that's when the hissing started.

It wasn't even one of those 'is it, isn't it?' moments - it was loud, unmistakable hissing. A bloody snake was in the house! Already!! I knew it sometimes happened in Australia, if screen doors had been left open. We'd had the removalists at work all day, and every door had been wide open. And I knew that snakes here are viscious, deadly, pure evil and nasty for the sake of it...

I sat up, straining for some indication that I was imagining the noise (hoping I was imagining it.) But no. It was clear as clear can be; so I poked Alison in the ribs and she confirmed I wasn't hearing things.

"Go get rid of it," she said.

I can't tell you what I said in reply - I have a reputation to uphold - but after about twenty minutes of lying there (no, I wasn't quaking, even if Alison says I was...pfft!) the noise stopped. No hissing.

Only dripping.

Well, I had to get up and have a look, didn't I? Snakes don't 'drip', do they?

Ah, it's wonderful moving to a new country. See, in Scotland we never once had to water our garden. Installing a bore water irrigation system was a home improvement project that had never crossed my mind.

The thought of killing my land lord did cross my mind, however. I mean, who the **** (thanks to Anonymous for the correct spelling of **** there) sets an irrigation system timer to come on at 4am? Eh? Who?!

Yes, I come from Scotland where snakes rule the moors, and men never have to dodge those invisible, pop-up-when-you-least-expect-it watering heads when walking on someone's lawn. Pfft. 4am.

It's been almost ten years since we arrived in Australia, and it's true what some people say - you do become used to the heat, and the mozzies...and the snakes. In fact, it's snake season now and the slithering from the rafters tells me that Malfoy the python (it's so handy having a name for each snake, I find) will be out sunning himself in a few minutes. I might just go get that tub of lard, grease myself up and see if he fancies a wee wrestle.

Here he comes now...

Published in The Irregular newspaper, Kingfield, Maine, USA - November 2009