Tag Archives: rugby

Applied physics, Rugby, and Loving the NFL

The good people at Earth Unplugged have produced a video of various rugby moves in slow-motion.

It’s cool but more so in and of itself.  There is no aestheticizing of the physicality of the sport the way that NFL Films does to football.  It’s not just the slow-motion.  It’s the voice-over narration, camera angles, and music.

Over the years since I started watching NFL games and the occasional college game (go Yellow Jackets!), I’ve met/seen more exhibitionistic NFL fans than college fans.  It’ll be the height of March Madness or the summer Olympics and I’ll see an NFL logo on a shirt.  If you happen to love the NFL as much as these people do, and could envision yourself submitting a compelling textual or audiovisual entry to a contest where five people and friend(s) will win a Super Bowl XLVIII prize package, please click here for more details.  According to the press release:

Stories submitted through Tuesday, November 5 will be entered into the contest that will ultimately select five winners.

Following the deadline for submissions, an NFL panel will select 10 finalists whose stories will be turned into short features by NFL Films that will be unveiled on Thanksgiving weekend and air during games throughout the month of December. Fans will be able to vote for the finalist story that they believe is the most engaging on TogetherWeMakeFootball.com through Monday, Dec. 23. The five winning storytellers will be announced during the NFL Playoffs.

If you can envision yourself taking time off from school or work for up to a week in early February 2014*, you should do it.  You’ll be the envy of your Eagle Scout troupe, your ballet class, your fraternity, or your city block.  You could be the next Samantha Gordon.


* Not to mention a stack of release forms and other legal documents detailing the extent to which what you wrote, drew, taped, recorded, or conveyed in this particular manner may be used for promotions by the league or its subsidiaries/affiliates…and even if what you submitted is still considered your property or by entering the contest you relinquish all rights to the contents that you just submitted.

** Be sure to scroll down and click on the Rules/Official Rules link to read the fine print, including what constitutes an eligible entry.**

Speaker Ambiguity

This entry was originally going to center on the similarities and differences between acceptance, tolerance, endurance, and resignation.  The preoccupation around “resignation” originated earlier today when I was reading at a Starbux (not my favorite one, but a newly renovated one in my side of town).  Book in hand, and later pens with sketchpad, I was listening to this Chinese song by MC Jin and Hanjin.  MC Jin raps the verses in Cantonese and Hanjin sings the pre-first verse and the choruses in Mandarin.  Lyrics are:

I may have remarked in the past that when it comes to music, I tend to pay more attention to the melody rather than the lyrics (even though it doesn’t take me long to memorize the words).  When it comes to Mandarin, though, I’m much more cognisant of the lyrics.   Basing my interpretation of this upbeat song solely on listening comprehension, the choruses struck me as quite sad.  It made me think of resignation because the words suggest that the singer is willing to settle.  I didn’t translate the verses because there is a considerable amount of Cantonese slang with which I’m unfamiliar.

My thoughts veered from the idea of resignation as I read the lyrics of the chorus.  When Hanjin sings for a third time, where the translation begins “You say I can’t lose myself,” the character for “You” is the masculine version of the pronoun.  When refering to a female “you,” there is a “female” character on the left which lets a reader know the “you” is female.  Compare with masculine and feminine forms of third-person pronouns:

I took a break from thinking about the song to eat and watch some of the 2011 USA Sevens Collegiate Rugby Championship on NBC (Army beat Navy 19 to 15!).  Amidst mastication and realizing that both Army and Navy’s rugby teams are much more pleasing to the eye than their football teams, it dawned on me that the meaning behind “Girlfriend” is ambiguous.

Assuming the speaker is male (because the actual artists are male), then the addresse is male–because of the masculine form of “you” used in the “second” chorus.  What is the speaker saying then?  He’s in love with a girl who treats him like a girl, who might as well pretend he is a girl, and he accepts this emasculating role because her family likes him?  Because he must have her in his life no matter the conditions? Meanwhile, there’s a guy out there that wants the speaker to be his maid of honor (or bridesmaid), his girl because they are lovers?

Does the song make sense if the speaker were a female, maybe a tomboy?  The masculine “you” wants her to be his girl?  That makes no sense either…unless the “you” were a tomboy.  Then, it would make a lot of sense because masculine/feminine forms of pronouns notwithstanding, the players are lesbians.  These unknowns made me think of Skye Sweetnam’s song “It Sucks,” which can be read as being about girl-on-girl romance (and various permutations involving a boy).  Lyrics:

It’s just simple kissing
No one has to ever know
What she doesnt know won’t hurt her
As long as I don’t let it show
And we’ll keep it just between us
Bottled up inside
Just our little secret
I’ll be playing dumb and acting shy

Goin crazy for a week
(crazy for a week)
Your Girlfriend’s gonna freak
(she’s gonna freak)
Because I know that I’d be freaking too
Cause that’s the thing that girlfriends do
It’s so frustrating you’re not the type that I should be dating
No matter where i go or what I do
It sucks cause I wanna be with you you you you
Found a lame excuse to call you

Just to hear you on the phone
Talked a million miles an hour
Pretending we were all alone
And if only for a moment
It felt like you were really mine
But no one wants a cheater
Even if the boy is fine

Goin crazy for a week
(crazy for a week)
Your Girlfriend’s gonna freak
(she’s gonna freak)
Because I know that id be freaking too
Cause that’s the thing that girlfriends do
It’s so frustrating you’re not the type that I should be dating
No matter where i go or what I do
It sucks cause I wanna be with you you you you you you you you.

Yes, I know, there I go over-thinking on trivial matters.

a bite of rugby and Alan Cumming does not age

Merry July 5th everyone. Today’s entry will feature a nibble of rugby.

But first, some delayed Independence Day tidings. I went to the highest topographical (or geological) point I knew of in Alpharetta last night thinking that I could see some of the Roswell fireworks. There might be higher ground I’m not aware of, but off the top of my head, I came up with the former location of the Caribou on Mansell Road. There’s a Justix eatery in the same shopping center and a car dealership (Lexus? I don’t remember) in the next parcel of land.

I was only there for a dozen or so minutes. I then headed over to a townhouse-condo complex downhill from the Northpoint Best Buy to take a walk around a lake. After it got darker, I decided to head home. I saw some fireworks in the sky en route, so I made a small detour and entered the parking lot of a church to watch them. There were several other cars there too–up to twenty perhaps. There I was amidst complete strangers, gazing at exploding colors. Human beings can’t all just get along (or all just can’t get along), but we can certainly all share a moment.


My mom took the above photo while leaving Centennial Olympic Park.



A friend of mine mentioned the film Circle of Friends (Pat O’Connor, 1995) to me; she said there was some rugby in it. The film is based on the novel by Maeve Binchy and is essentially about self-discovery and relationships in the mid-Twentieth Century Ireland. It stars a well established Chris O’Donnell, a very young Saffron Burrows, and newcomer Minnie Driver. And, of course, the seemingly non-aging Alan Cumming. I’ve seen him in many films that have spanned the mid-90s through the present, and he’s remained virtually untouched by the passage of time. C’est incroyable.

There is one rugby scene in Circle of Friends; it lasts approximately thirty seconds (technically, though, the entire sequence consists of twenty-five or so seconds of actual rugby and five seconds of crowd footage). This match happens ten minutes into the film’s running time of 103 minutes. The preceding scene is set in a classroom. The professor (played by an extremely young Ciaran Hinds) tells his students that they will be learning about the Trobriand, an island people of the South Pacific, from anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski’s book The Sexual Life of Savages.

After the camera presents glimpses of the main characters in this classroom environment, the professor says, “by studying the rites of passage….,” which serves as an audio transition to the rugby match. Specifically, when the words “by studying” are uttered, the camera tracks from screen left to screen right in a medium close-up of Eve (Geraldine O’Rawe) and Nan (Saffron Burrows). “Rites of passage” is accompanied by the camera cutting to an extreme low angle, medium shot (in slow motion) of the rugby players about to collide with each other. Three are wearing light blue shirts and are at the bottom of the frame (right side up); the other three are in dark colors (later revealed to be maroon) and are at the top of the frame (upside-down)–like a huddle. The camera then cuts to a medium on-field point-of-view shot of the scrum line. The referee stands off-center in the shot, and his back faces the camera. Chris O’Donnell is on the blue team. The scrum pile moves towards screen left and one of O’Donnell’s teammates passes him the ball, at which point he throws the ball to another teammate who throws it back to him and he takes off running towards screen left (increasingly from the background to the foreground).

My immediate thought upon watching this very short scene: basketball minus the basket! Futbol with hands and no net!

Observations & Miscellania:

1. Alan Cumming and Minnie Driver watch On the Waterfront. He thinks it’s a date and she just doesn’t like him that way. After the movie ends, she tells him, “I don’t want people thinking we’re an article because we’re not.” Is the term “article” to mean “a couple” a 50s British Isles expression? Americans would say “I don’t want people thinking we’re an item because we’re not.”

2. Chris O’Donnell and Minnie Driver are walking in the woods where she basically asks him if he’s still a virgin. He answers that he has not gone all the way with a girl yet.

She responds, “would you like to?”

Flabbergasted, he sputters, “what, now?”

She corrects him by replying, “No. It wasn’t an invitation. It was a request for information.”

3. The film gave me pause in the final moments. There’s one more politically infused message and another that suggests love is greater than lust. A genuine emotional connection outlasts and is more important than a physical one (and that a true emotional and intellectual bond has the potential to generate its own variation of physical attraction). There is some comfort in this idea, but at the same time, “how normative.”


While searching for images of Minnie Driver, I came across this page about buses in movies.  It’s amazing.