Sunday, July 26, 2009

Nothin' doin'

Two more posts below this one. Cricket should be down below Wales, but it's not, and I don't feel like fiddling with it.

I had been waiting to update because I was hoping to have big news to share. I had a couple of job interviews last week, and I was confident I'd get at least one of them, and then I could put up a big, triumphant post.

But who wants to put up a post admitting defeat? Yeah, exactly. 0-for-2, and back to square one. Frustrating, that.

Where to now? Not sure, really. I'd like to continue pursuing editing jobs, but 64 quid a week doesn't go very far (especially if you take the train to interviews ...), so I fear it may come to stocking shelves somewhere for a little while. We'll see.

In the meantime, football season is right around the corner. I've managed to get out to a couple preseason games, which are as pointless as preseason games in any sport, but entertaining in their own way. Of course, last week, I was in long sleeves and kinda cold. 61 degrees on July 18? Welcome to England.

And lest you think I won't entertain you, play "spot your humble correspondent." These were at Fareham Town yesterday. Who? Exactly. (But they do have a neat little stand. And I enjoy lower-league football.) The photos are courtesy of the host club's Flickr site. (Not that I've asked permission or anything.)

The ball's in the air. That happens a lot at this level.

A very random shape for a stand.

Bats, balls and beer

If it looks like a baseball game and sounds like a baseball game ...

Wait a second ... that looks nothing like a baseball game. Also, you didn't see this picture. If the steward knew I'd taken this, he'd have thrown me from the stand. You're not supposed to use mobile phones during play, apparently.

Indeed, is there anything more English than cricket? Not that what is pictured above bears much resemblance to the cricket you're probably familiar with. Well, the stereotypes of it anyway. Games that last five days, tea breaks, white sweaters -- none of this here. This is something called Twenty20 cricket, which bears about as much resemblance to "real" cricket as the home-run derby does to a baseball game.

But it was pretty entertaining. My uncle invited me to an exhibition match between the Indian champions and the English champions at Lord's, the self-styled home of cricket. It was roughly the equivalent of taking someone who's never been to a baseball game to Game One of the World Series at Yankee Stadium.

Twenty20 pretty much turns cricket on its ear, throwing out most of the strategy and slow play of the longer version (called Test cricket) and replacing it with loud music, cheerleaders and batsmen aiming for the fences. Well, not really fences. More like a rope boundary. (Also present: beer vendors with backpack coolers and handheld taps. That Americans didn't invent this is the biggest upset since David 1, Goliath 0.)

And that loud music? Well, let's just say the English (or the Indians -- the cheerleaders, among other things, were their idea) may not completely have the concept of music at a sporting event down pat just yet. Both teams had a little song snippet that played when anything good happened during their turn at bat. For the Indian team, it was some bit of Indian pop music, and for the English team, it was that annoying "I'm coming out" thing that, I think, Pink did.

But the strange thing was they would play this little snippet whenever ANYTHING happened, good or bad. Batsman hits a 6 (home run)? Snippet plays. Batsman is out? Snippet plays. Bizarre.

Not that there wasn't an English contribution to the game as well.

I won't bore you with a long explanation of cricket (not least because I'm not capable of giving one just yet). But it was definitely entertaining, and I've even started paying attention to the long-form version, in which England are playing (and, to the surprise of, well, everyone, beating) Australia in the Ashes series.

See? I've lost you already.

Where the streets have two names

A few weeks ago, I took a trip to Wales (population: 3 million; population including sheep: 14 million) to visit an aunt and uncle I hadn't seen in, oh, two decades.

That I could drive for a couple hours, cross a bridge and be in another country is a concept so fascinating as to be mind-boggling. Of course, some will tell you that Wales is not, in fact, a separate country, but none of them is Welsh.

And yes, everything in Wales has two names. Every street sign is in both Welsh (which is a strange amalgamation of English, Gaelic and French, but with fewer vowels) and English. I assume after a while one learns which signs are pointing to one city with two names (Swansea/Abertawe, for example) and which are, in fact, pointing to two different cities. But I'd guess it takes time.

My aunt and uncle couldn't have been more welcoming, especially considering they hadn't seen me since I was about 4 feet tall. They insist I still look the same; I'm not sure just how I feel about that.

Pictures? OK.

Citrus: It's not just for Floridians anymore. An orange tree at Aberglasney, a restored medieval house and garden.

Garden in the shape of a Celtic cross.

A GoingHomefortheFirstTime rarity. Me with my Uncle Greg. Why do those look like 90s jeans? I swear they're not.

No really. That's a real road. Signposted and everything. I took this photo at the urging of my uncle, who made my stepfather drive down it on his first visit to Wales. Hilarity, apparently, ensued.

Mervin the dog. Would that be Merwyn in Welsh? Merwn? Mrwn? In any event, Mervin is ... special.

Brecon Beacons National Park. It's best not to be in a hurry. This guy wasn't.

How many dogs do YOU know with their own lunchbox? I told you he was special.

Llyn Bryanne Dam. Remind anyone else of the Pacific Northwest?

No, really. It's best not to be in a hurry. This lasted a good two minutes.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Friday update? Sure, why not

A little bit of news on the job front, but I'm a believer in jinxes, so nothing more until I know more. It's not an offer, but it's nice to have some kind of response to something.

It's been quite the hot week in Britain. Temperatures approaching and even *gasp* exceeding 30 degrees Celsius. Which is about 86 Fahrenheit. Which, in turn, is enough to prompt heat-wave warnings and general paranoia.

IN FAIRNESS: There is very little air conditioning in this country. So 85 is a little bit more annoying. But when you've lived in the places I (we?) have, it's hard not to giggle.

I've gotten my share of England losing at things in the past week. The footballers lost the European Under-21 title to Germany (blargh) 4-0 (double-blargh) on Monday, and the new great hope of British tennis, Andy Murray, was knocked out by the other Andy, Roddick.

Big doings next week: Cricket on Monday, and Wales on Wednesday. I promise to try to post pictures, but I'm not a big fan of carrying my behemoth of a camera around.

Ooh...but I have a camera phone now. Eeenteresting.