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Watch out for the nuances…

Many of you know I’m Australian, and as we travel toward the end of the year, the weather here is heating up – hello, Summer! And of course, with summer comes the world’s most boring sport: cricket.Cricket

I say this knowing that millions disagree. All around the world, cricket-playing nations abound. People pay money to go to matches, sit in the hot sun for eight or more hours and watch men dressed from head to toe in white smack a ball with a bat. On the other side of the globe, people who are interested in the outcome get up at four in the morning so they can watch on TV. For myself, I don’t get it. Cricket is the kind of thing I turn the TV to when I can’t get to sleep.

Case in point: right now, Australia and England are locked in battle for the Ashes, series of matches that we apparently fight over every year or couple of years – I’m not 100% clear on the details, as my care factor is pretty low. I do know that it’s Test cricket, as opposed to One-Day cricket, and what that means is that a match lasts multiple days. Five Tests are played over six or so months, I think, in both England and Australia, and even if one side wins the first three Tests, they still play all five, which to me is just plain mean.

Anyway, I actually have a point to make here. I was hanging out with my brother and his wife at their place, and my sister-in-law and I were working on a jigsaw puzzle while my brother watched the cricket. They’ve been married for nearly two years now, but they’re often still like newlyweds so my SIL kept coaxing my brother to join us. He was adamant that he had to watch the cricket. I waded in, mostly just to annoy him, and pointed out that a colleague had told me that cricket wasn’t even a real sport. That got him all fired up, and he spent a few minutes telling us how important cricket is to many nations that would otherwise be at daggers drawn (my words, not his) and that the game had many nuances which were not at first obvious (his words, not mine). I’ll take a moment to point out that the match was in play the whole time we were talking, and it didn’t seem like he was missing much. My SIL and I were not impressed. “What kind of nuances?” we demanded.

It was unfortunate for my brother that at that precise moment one of the British commentators said to another, “What was your breakfast like this morning?”

My SIL and I started laughing and couldn’t stop. It seems to me that a sport should be fast-paced enough that commentators don’t have time during play to talk about anything except what’s happening on the field. My poor brother shut up after that. There wasn’t really anything that could be said about those nuances that would balance out the breakfast discussion.

What do you think? Are there sports out there that don’t deserve to be so named?

The Joy of Paintball

Oh. My. God.
Yesterday I went paintballing for the first time. Let me say right off that it was fun. Yes, that’s right, it WAS fun.

But, oh my God, the pain I’m in today.

Part of it is because I’m not at all fit, physically, exercise being an invention of the devil. Running, crouching (oh, my thighs! My knees!), crawling and the rest, has sent my poor muscles into instant protest. I also have poor hand-eye coordination, which caused some falling. But most of it is from the bruises.

Don’t let anyone tell you those little suckers don’t hurt. The ones that bounce instead of bursting hurt more. It seems like a momentary sting, but today I have a swollen, black left index finger (NOT good for typing, by the way) and fifteen other major bruises over my arms, legs and neck. And, embarrassingly, my butt. Yes, that was friendly fire. Don’t worry, I got revenge!

By ‘major’, I mean the bruises with a red welt in the centre and blue and purple rainbows around the outside. The other bruises, which I haven’t counted, are just regular purplish smudges.

Let me emphasise again that it’s fun. I will go again, although not for a while. We were put into teams with all the other people there (some of them looked really scary. Like, oh crap, don’t let that guy take me to a secondary location, scary) and then pitted (pit? is there a past tense?) against each other in games. There were courses, i.e. Cops and Robbers was set in an Old West town. The robbers hade to steal the money bags from the bank and get them back to the ‘hide-out’. Then there was my favorite, the trenches. The aim was to get the enemy team’s flag and bring it back to your own camp. I, being extremely un-adventurous, stayed in the trenches and provided cover fire. I still managed to get shot in the throat (and that really hurts!)

So, the body armor and helmets are uncomfortable, if the paintball hits the grate over the lower part of your face and explodes, your mouth gets splashed with paint, which tastes really bad, and the camo fatigues are UGLY. But, I was shot several times in the head and chest and have no bruises there, and the clothes I wore under the camo are stain-free. So I tolerated all that. What pissed me off were the people who ignored the rules.

I don’t think I was being overly prissy about this. There were a whole pile of rules, like the eight-metre rule (you can’t shoot anyone from any closer) and the no-running rule (please. Really?). Those were only two of the ones that I thought were pretty unrealistic. I mean, shooting someone at point-blank is a bit much, and would hurt like a bitch, but who can visually measure eight metres in the middle of a paint-fight? And no running? Was the robber supposed to grab the money bag and saunter back to the hide-out, avoiding the rain of ‘bullets’?

There were two that did get broken – often – by a particular group who were later asked to leave by the marshals.
One was, if you’re shot and it counts as a kill shot (not on helmet, gun or hands, and doesn’t bounce off), you raise your gun and move off the field into the dead zone. Nobody is allowed to shoot someone with a raised gun, because, hey, they’re defenseless. The other was no shooting people in the dead zone. For pretty much the same reason.
The five or so people who found it amusing to shoot ‘dead’ people, both on the field and in the dead zone, screwed things up. It may be petty, but I’m glad they were made to leave without a refund. And no, they weren’t the scary-looking people. That group was actually really nice, which is why the don’t-judge-a-book cliche is accurate.

Anybody else been paintballing? What did you think?

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