Sunday, June 11, 2006

Habby Sudnay

My enjoyment of the weekend was severely curtailed by catching some kind of upper-respiratory virus. I'll spare you most of the gory details, but I've spent a large amount of time making Chewbacca noises while trying to convince the crud in my throat to dislodge. However, I managed to have a productive weekend.

Saturday afternoon, I found myself staring at a table set up under an awning on one of Fort Knox's many sports fields. On it were the implements of cricket -- leg pads, chest protectors, gloves, and brutal looking bats. I once saw a special on the ancient Hawaiians, and apparently they used to make war clubs that looked like these things. All you need is a cricket bat and a set of mako shark teeth to set into the edge, and you'd be ready to wreak havoc on invading islanders.

Two different British liaison officers have tried to explain cricket to me, and they've made very little headway. The diagrams -- which show a large circle with a narrow rectangular strip in the middle and several dots scattered at random -- aren't much help, either.

A salty lieutenant I knew from one of the post's infantry battalions came up to me. He had been a senior non-com before going to Officer Candidate School, so he's a lot more grizzled than most looeys I've met.

"What's up, man?" he said from under a white boonie hat and sunglasses.

"Um, not much, sir. Trying to figure this weird-ass game out," I said. "You ever play before?"

"I came to the class they had this morning," he said. "It was... almost fun."

The match was between the English liaison's team and one organized by an Australian exchange student. The teams were both hodge-podges of children and adults, some with cricket experience, and some who just knew it was something like baseball.

The results were predictable, but at least I figured out the basic elements of the game. I snapped about 150 photos and headed out. I needed to pick up a new pair of running shoes, and talk to the mother of a 9-year-old who'd been attacked by a pit bull in one of the post's housing areas.

I'd already filled some of a notebook at Recruiting Command. They had been running a chat session where drill sergeants were talking to "future soldiers" -- guys who'd signed contracts and would soon be shipping out, eventually to wind up in the drills' training company. They were asking the usual questions -- "What can I bring," "Can we have cell phones," "How many push-ups do I have to do." I jotted down their names and made a mental note to call them on Monday.

By that evening, I was tired and starting to feel the effects of phlegm over-production.

I've just been reading and watching television, when I haven't been whacked out on the generic NyQuil knockoff I found in the bathroom.

But I'll leave you all with a worthwhile link. My dad called and recommended this piece by the inimicable James Lileks:

Self-Loathing and the Denial of Terrorism, at Newhouse News Service. Check it out, it's a hoot.