Sunday, June 26, 2011

The weird and the wonderful

This week, with the football lockout still, uh, fully locked, I thought I would do some heavy research and find some of the manliest sports played on Planet Earth, kind of like stumbling off the Starship Enterprise armed with testosterone and without ever leaving orbit.  It took less than 3 seconds to find stuff aplenty; amazingly, NASCAR is nowhere on those lists.

The Highland Games are sports for the manliest and strongest of men with massive upper body strength and incredible concentration and also some pretty strong women who could beat the crap out of me with no difficulty.  I detail:
     1.  Caber toss:  The caber, a big old piece of wood closely resembling a tapered telephone pole, is balanced vertically on one end and the person doing the tossing runs forward and attempts to toss the pole end over end, having said wood and land facing away from the person doing the toss.  No, the cabers don't need to be a uniform size; scoring depends on the degree of difficulty as the cabers vary in length, weight, degree of taper, and balance. 
     2.  Sheaf toss:  A bundle of hay weighing 20 lbs. for men and 10 lbs. for women is wrapped in burlap and then tossed over a raised bar -- much like a pole vaulting bar -- using a pitchfork.
     3.  Stone put:  Like shot put but with a big old rock.
     4.  Scottish hammer throw:   Yes, like modern Olympic hammer throw with different weights for men and women.
     5.  Weight throw:  Toss a really heavy metal weight attached to a chain and p.s. you can only use one hand.  The idea is to send it far, really far, super far.  One hand.  Also called "weight for distance."
     6.  Weight over the bar:  Toss a 56-pound stone with an attached handle over a horizontal bar.  This is also called "weight for height."  Think of a curling stone but you don't slide it on the ice (which is incredibly difficult as you have to be accurate in addition to sliding this big ass rock) but instead throw it over a bar.  The one time I tried to move a curling stone on ice it didn't go very far and I immediately fell onto the ice.  Fortunately, the area of contact is well padded and no, not on my head.  Weight over the bar would probably be followed by my family members planning my memorial service as I would surely drop that sucker onto my head.  Oh!  P.S.  One hand only!

Buzkashi is the national sport of Afghanistan.  A player is called a Chapandaz.  A goat calf is beheaded, disemboweled, has its legs cut off at the knees, then soaked in water for 24 hours to toughen it up.  There are 10 Chapandaz on each team but only Chapandaz from each team can play in a half that lasts 45 minutes.  There is a single 15-minute break.  The playing field is a square that measures 400 meters on each side.  The goal is to grab the carcass with your hand and then throw it across a goal line.

No lizards are harmed in Goanna-Pulling,  a sport from the Outback of Australia.  Two people face each other with leather straps around their necks that are joined in the middle (which looks like a goanna if you have been in the heat of the Outback for too long and have a very good imagination).  The joined competitors do a tug-of-war with their necks.

I could go on but after that last one, I have to say that the NFL is a bunch of millionaire little girls in party dresses at Sunday tea parties.  In Buzkashi, a great Chapandaz is in his forties; in the NFL, if he's in his forties, he's an oddity, Brett Favre, or both.  I still worry about the greed of the NFL owners, the health of the players, and myself because what is UP with me and football?  Of course, saying the NFL is filled with girls at a pretty little picnic playing dress-ups and combing their My Little Ponys does pretty much guarantees no one from an NFL team will talk to me ever, but dang, I could not imagine Mr. Brian Urlacher strapping on the leathers for a nice Goanna-Pull with Mr. Jay Cutler and my imagination is stinking good.

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This past Friday night, June 24, 2011, New York, the Empire State, voted to allow same-sex marriage.  Equality is what America is about, y'all.  If you are in love in New York, you can marry your beloved.  You can celebrate your union with those dearest to you -- with cake! -- and you can spend your days building a life together, raising a family, sharing every ordinary day that creates an amazing existence with the person you love.  Congratulations to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the State of NY legislature, and to the Empire State Building for providing a building covered in a rainbow.  Love is never a bad idea.

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