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Soup of This Day #258: We All Talk A Different Language

October 25, 2012

It’s the eye of a numbat, (Myrmecobius fasciatus). It’s the thrill of the fight. Rising up to the challenge of our termites. And the last known survivor stalks his prey in the night. And he’s watching us all with the eye of the numbat – Helenabella, 2010. Helenabella is not affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

Today my wife took her car to our mechanic.

Whose name is Mike.

He works with a group of other mechanics.

It’s a good workshop. They do right by us and our vehicles – They fix stuff and they don’t seem to overcharge for the effort. My only criticism is that the communication is sometimes lacking…

Stilted conversations – I’m afraid that’s all we’ve got…

If you were musically aware in 1989 you’ll maybe have picked up that I’ve just referenced the band Mike + The Mechanics and 1 of their hit songs.

The ‘+’ bit is their idea. I’d have been cool with an ‘&’.

The ampersand-less band had its beginnings as a side-project for Mike Rutherford of supergroup Genesis.

Yep, Mike + The Mechanics had their genesis in Genesis.

From that not-really-humble start Mike + The Mechanics progressed from being a side-dish to a mains – The high point being in 1989 when they released the album, ‘The Living Years’. It’s eponymous lead single went to the top of the charts in a host of major markets, including the US, and was nominated for a Grammy. Burt Bacharach later declared:

‘The Living Years is one of the finest lyrics of the last 10 years.’

Which is pretty epic – I mean Burt knows how to write lyrics. Which is nice and all but what I really want from the sage Burt Bacharach is to know the answer to a burning question that I have had for a number of years.

23 years to be exact.

Are those guys really mechanics?

I mean, they call themselves mechanics but should I trust them with the workings of your average internal combustion engine?

Going by Wikipedia, probably not so much.

The Mechanics seem to be musicians – Songwriters and sessions players, capable of engineering a hit tune but not who you’d get to work on your Watt’s linkage.

I’m disappointed but not surprised – Stage names can have a fair amount of poetic licence attached. So too can sporting team names and this then is the theme of this post.

Exhibit A is the Perth Wildcats. The Cats are Perth’s entrant in the Australian National Basketball League (NBL). They were founded in 1982 and as many other franchises have come and gone the Wildcats have stuck with it, becoming along the way the most successful club in the league’s history. They have notched up a record 5 NBL Championships and have not missed the post-season since 1986. This season they are 3-0 early on and look to be contenders once more. It’s hard not to be proud of them, although there is a lingering quirk in their image.

We don’t have any native wildcats in Western Australia.

We do have some feral cats that have come from your domesticated moggy-type feline. These are a pest, hunting and damaging our populations of native species of birds and marsupials.

Like the numbat.

The numbat is Western Australia’s faunal emblem and rightly so. It’s a stunning creature, adorned with tiger/zebra stripes and the kind of brushy tail that would make a warthog look like a unicorn. It would make a great emblem for a team representing this extraordinary State.

Except that its name does not sound particularly fierce. The Perth Numbats.


It’s a hard name to sell. The actual numbats themselves are easy to promote – They’re tough marsupials that can grow to 45cm in length, so that’s no mouse you’ve got there. Plus they are ruthless, hunting and consuming up to 20,000 prey each and every day.

Sure that fodder is comprised of termites but those little insectivorous beggars can take out a whole house. That’s right, a numbat can single-pawedly wipe out 20,000 rampaging, house-wrecking varmints in just 1 day.

You still can’t sell the name though. The folk from Mad Men could not sell that name.

No, what you need as the handle for a team is an animal something like a wildcat. It sounds ferocious, causes supporters to take heart and opponents to tremble in anticipation of the mauling on offer. I mean these guys are wildcats – The basketballing epitome of a hunter – A mean, lean fight’n machine.

Except that none of the 22 recognized subspecies of wildcat is known to so much as bounce a ball, let alone get up there for a dunk.

See? Poetic licence.

Let’s extend a little further to look at the 108th World Series, now underway. The combatants this year are the Detroit Tigers and the San Francisco Giants.

Are those guys from Michigan actual tigers? I hope not. I’ve seen tigers at the zoo and generally they put a big fence around those big cats to keep them away from the human population. Sometimes they use a moat as well.

This is because tigers have been known to eat humans. This is not a sustainable tactic in baseball.

And the Giants – Are they actually gigantic?

In a manner of speaking.

To be honest, if we’re going on weight then there is some seriously large people out there in play for both sides.

Detroit has Prince Fielder, who fittingly is a prince of a fielder, mostly because he covers 1st and does not have far to move. He’s a king of a hitter too – Mostly because he slugs the ball far enough that running is a secondary kind of thing for him.

Prince is 5’11” and 275 pounds. His career batting average is .287 and he has smashed 260 home runs across 8 years. If you know baseball, you know how big those numbers are. They’re gigantic.

Miguel Cabrera, Fielder’s fellow Tiger slugger can claim bigger numbers. Miggy has notched up 321 home runs in his 10 years of service, to go along with a batting average of .318. For the icing on the cake, this year he led the American League (AL) with 44 home runs, 139 RBIs, and a .330 batting average. Those figures have netted him the 1st batting Triple Crown since Red Sox legend Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.

Oh, and he’s 6’4″ and 240 pounds. A gigantic figure of a player, he is.

Across the park and San Francisco has their own heavyweight – Pablo Sandoval. Known as ‘Kung Fu Panda’ this switch-hitter is also 5’11” but edges Fielder out on weight, clocking in at 290 pounds. Across 5 years in the big time he has a batting average of .303 and a measly 76 home runs. On paper you’d mark him down based on that record when compared to Detroit’s finest previously mentioned.

You’d do that at your peril though if the opening game of the World Series is anything to go by.

The Panda sent his 1st 3 hits over the fence, becoming only the 4th player to hit 3 home runs in a single World Series game. Babe Ruth was 1 of the others, none of whom did what Sandoval managed and did it with their 1st 3 at bats.

That’s freakin’ gigantic alright.

So maybe there’s something to some of those stage names after all. If a panda can hit a baseball, then maybe a wildcat can play basketball.

I wonder if either could fix the clutch in my wife’s car?

We All Talk A Different Language

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