Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Why women should not be allowed to vote... least while a hot guy is on the list of candidates.

Cricinfo are currently deciding on the South African All Time XI. There is a panel of judges (none of them female) which will make the final decision, but we knowledgeable commoners also have a chance to vote for who we believe should make the team.

At the moment, the focus is the middle order, and the options are Jacques Kallis, Daryl Cullinan, Dudley Nourse, Graeme Pollock, Herbie Taylor and AB de Villiers. Now, I go off to vote with perfectly legitimate intentions. Reading down the list I give a big TICK to Kallis and a big TICK to Pollock. And this is where my reason deserts me and female instinct overtakes. I see the photo of AB de Villiers. Not just any photo, but one in which he looks particularly gorgeous. I can't not vote for him! Even though he probably has no place at all in an all-time XI at this moment, I know who my third vote is going to.

And if some politicians are good-looking then women shouldn't vote, for the sake of democracy and the country. Luckily, in Australia, politicians are as ugly as vogons, or very very old.

Back to the cricket

Well, I didn't bother mentioning the series currently underway between Pakistan and New Zealand in my last post because I thought it would be, well, boring. Two rather lacklustre teams playing each other, both of which can be disastrously bad on their day. Much more interest could be taken from the Indian series against Sri Lanka.

How wrong was I? The series in India has so far played out as a borefest. Getting runs seems to be easier than catching sardines in a tin, and after the first day India are well-placed at 417/2. Well-placed to score over 700, followed by Sri Lanka scoring about 700 too and the match being drawn half way into the third innings. That's the way Tests seem to play out in India and Pakistan these days. The groundsmen should be castrated.

However, over with our close neighbours in New Zealand, a teetering struggle is occurring. Which team can capitulate more? Only time will tell - currently New Zealand aren't doing a very good job of capitulating. They've managed to score 374 for 7 wickets in the first innings, despite some serious bounce and carry in the pitch that had Brendon McCullum and Daniel Vettori hopping like rabbits all morning as they reached respective half-centuries. The hottest man in New Zealand unfortunately lost his wicket in the over before lunch, castled by Umar Gul, but Dan the Man is still there, ready to save the day, dry his hands and prepare to bowl Pakistan out for under 300 with his hitherto unknown pace bowling skills. He can do anything, Dan.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A BIG Celebration...

...for the return of Test cricket. As I write, the Jayawardenes are pulverising the Indian bowlers in a very slow, methodical manner (kind of like Chinese water torture) in what might not be the best advert for the format. I'm talking 711/5 and no sign of relenting.

Meanwhile, rather ominously, the West Indies are looking rather z-grade against Queensland, who have an 100+ lead with 6 wickets in hand in the first innings. All I hope is that the boys from the Caribbean have massive hangovers and this is the sole reason for the dreadful performance. If not, maybe hangovers should be on the cards - they could hardly get worse, could they?

Things are also heating up in South Africa, with the one-dayers against England scheduled to start VERY SOON (yes, I know, I haven't checked the calendar for the exact date). For me, this means a gawpfest thanks to the double-billing of Graeme Swann and AB de Villiers. For everyone else, the series will involve watching a weakened England being clubbed to death by the Saffas. Unless some of their very own Saffas to pull off a miracle. Failing that, Swanny could save the day.

But all this was the introduction (wakey wakey!). The ACTUAL BIG CELEBRATION is a little one of my own. A celebration of oversized animals around the world. Below is an interesting selection (but by no means are they all represented - maybe this could be continued later?)

Disclaimer: most info comes from Wikipedia. I'm too tired to research properly, but if it's dodgy, please tell me :)

  • Siberian tiger | at up to 3.3m long and 1.1m high at the shoulder, the Siberian tiger is the largest member of the cat family (lion fans, shut up). However, who said massive, ferocious carnivores couldn't have cute babies? Or be maternal?
  • Giant squid | until someone finds a complete un-shrunken specimen of the Colossal squid, this fellow remains the king of the invertebrates by length, although not by weight.
  • Whale shark | the biggest shark, the biggest fish, and completely harmless. Like a gigantic baby really, with its gummy mouth and blubber.
  • Blue whale | yeah, you know that.
  • Giant golden-crowned flying fox | ok, you probably didn't know about this flapper - it has a wingspan of up to 1.8m. Not sure I want to go into any caves in the Philippines anytime soon.
  • Japanese spider-crab | another pretty well-known one, it has a maximum legspan of 4m and has been reported feeding of drowning seafarers, although it is also reportedly quite docile. All these conflicting reports...
  • Japanese giant salamander | not officially the largest salamander (that belongs to China) but the one boasting the largest recent specimens. This thing reaches up to 1.5m in length including tail, is aggressively territorial, nocturnal and haunts storm water drains. Kind of like a bunyip, I guess.
  • Southern elephant seal | while everyone gets excited about lions, tigers and bears, the largest carnivorous mammal is actually this bloke. The bull grows up to 6.9m in length - that's 2m longer than a car - and they're very territorial among themselves, although fights are rarely fatal.
  • Ocean sunfish | the heaviest bony fish, this one grows up to 3.3m in length and 4.5m in height and likes sunbathing.
  • Fish tapeworm | enough to put you off your sushi, this one. Grows to 20m in length in your intestines and lays up to 1 million eggs per day. They are transferred to humans through raw or undercooked fish.
  • Giant ribbon worm | this one thankfully doesn't live inside us - it's been reported up to 55m long but is usually anywhere between 5mm and 30m in length.
  • North Pacific giant octopus | not as big as the largest squids but in my mind more frightening (because octopuses just ARE) with a tentacle span of 7m.
  • Oarfish | believed to be the source of many sea serpent tales, this is the longest bony fish, growing to a length of up to 11m. However, it has no teeth, unlike the significantly shorter (but much more fearsome) giant moray eel.
  • Tarantula hawk | tiny compared with the rest of our friends listed here, but massive for a wasp, this grows up to 5cm long and eats tarantulas. Its sting is reputedly one of the most painful from an insect. Badass!
Okay, kids. Zoology lesson's over. Back to the cricket, where Sri Lanka have declared.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Anglo-Saxon is not a three-word language

Many apologies for not posting for a little while. It's been what uni students call "that end of semester", with assignments due and all.

As there's been no cricket of late (did someone mention Champion's League? no, surely not, because THAT IS JUST NOT CRICKET) I went and re-read the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit. Not having yet had my fill of Middle-Earth, I re-watched the Peter Jackson trilogy - Extended Edition, of course. Then the commentaries of the Extended Editions.

Wanting even more of Frodo & Company, I decided to dig up the old BBC Radio dramatisation, which I'm not sure I enjoyed as much as I did the first time round (but it's still really good, so listen if you haven't) although Bill Nighy was an amazing Sam.

By now, LoTR had become a bit of a drug, so off I went to re-watch the Ralph Bakshi animated version from 1978 - and laughed. I'd forgotten how dreadful some bits were. The butterfly-lion Balrog with the fluffy bedroom slippers, for example. Or Samwise the Stupid and Incredibly Ugly. Not to mention Legolas the boy/girl/rabbit - I can't see any fangrrl crushes happening there. However, 10 points to Bakshi for the Nazgul, they were some of the creepiest things I've seen in an animated film. Even if the Flight to the Ford did play out as a trippy lightshow.

However, I then made the grave mistake of digging further (please excuse the appalling pun). I watched the Rankin/Bass version of The Return of the King. Now, I enjoyed their Hobbit. However, crappy songs and script plus a freaky-looking Pippin was just too much. My inner-orc felt violated.

Not, however, as violated when it read the screenplay outline for John Boorman's version. All I can say is thank Eru he didn't have the money to produce it. Galadriel seducing Frodo? Gandalf orchestrating a violent rebirth for Gimli outside the Gates of Moria? Aragorn 'healing' Eowyn by having sex with her on the battlefield? Mystic teen Arwen operating on Frodo with a hot knife to get the Morgul blade's shard out? These are the worst points, but there are more. Oh yes, precioussss, there are more. Forget rolling in his grave, Tolkien would have become a wight, left his barrow and pursued Boorman to the end of the earth. The dead followed, indeed!

So, after getting extensive counselling to recover from this unpleasant discovery, I decided I needed a new hobby (as if I don't have enough) to keep my mind off the visuals Boorman had conjured in my brain. To keep in the spirit of things, I thought it might be a good idea to teach myself Anglo-Saxon. So far, it's going pretty well - I'm re-reading the bilingual edition of Seamus Heaney's rendition of Beowulf, but this time not allowing myself to check the Modern English version until I get really stuck (ie. every fifth line). It's surprising how different the translation is from the original, however. Much as I like Heaney's version, the alliteration and use of synonyms by the original poet is mindblowing.

People (my mum, for example) get this impression that Anglo-Saxon is a simple language made up of a few single-syllable words (or grunts) and not really good at expressing anything complex. This is ridiculously untrue. Through use of an admittedly limited selection of root words and a range of prefixes and suffixes, composite words are created that can pretty much convey anything. Anyway, as you can see, I'm thoroughly enjoying myself and neglecting my blog.

Next post should be all about why so-called Tolkien purists are actually completely missing the point. That is, unless the cricket has revived by then. Wæs hal!