Non Sequiturs + Other Quasi-Funny Stuff #4: The Martian’s Tale — Part 1

Once upon a time — or once above a time — Martian scientists and scholars were planning a trip to planet Earth.

This would be the first-ever trip from Mars to Earth. Martian technology had reached the point that space travel to such distant destinations was possible. At least, all the Martians’ test flights and projections indicated this was their new reality, but the anticipated trip to Earth would be their first manned — or, more accurately, Martianed — space odyssey to such a far-flung place.

To prepare for the journey, these Martian scientists and scholars wanted to learn all they could about Earth and the customs of its inhabitants. The Martians were hoping for a meaningful, educational encounter with earthlings — apparently, these were not the terrifying, vanquishing, destroying Martians of “War of the Worlds” infamy.

How did these curious Martians learn about Earth? Simple — or maybe not.

Using high-octane computers and an elaborate deep-space wireless network, plus potent satellite-like devices orbiting Mars, they somehow were able to access our Internet via Earth’s satellites. Once connected, the Martians used their powerful search engine — called Gaargle — to surf the Web and gather information about our planet.

A caveat: While the Martian search engine was powerful enough to reach across all those empty miles and access Earth’s satellites, the extreme distance — and resulting complexities with the space-time continuum — meant that Gaargle wasn’t nearly as effective as Google. So sometimes the search results were as spotty as cell-phone service on a remote road.

Anyway, each scholar and scientist was assigned a certain subject to research: economy, family life, government, religion, etc. As the Martians got busy Gaargling and pursuing their subjects, they realized another category begged to be added: sports.

Evidently, on Mars sports are for schoolchildren. Period. There are no professional sports leagues and no college sports — by the way, the latter is because there are no colleges, but that’s another story. Once the Martians discovered the role athletics play in human society, they added sports to their list.

The Martian researching Earth’s sports went to work. Puzzled by the first news he found when he Gaargled “soccer,” he consulted a fellow scholar via M-mail (short for Mars-mail — yes, the Martian equivalent of e-mail):

SUBJECT — Sports research on Soccer

Your expert linguistic opinion is requested. Please examine this sentence about the Earth sport called soccer:

“The United States will play a friendly against Scotland on Saturday. Later, the U.S. faces two World Cup qualifiers against Antigua and Barbuda and Guatemala.”

Two questions:

1 — In a competitive sport, why would a team play in a “friendly” manner?

Please note: I am assuming that “a” is accidentally included in the first sentence. Thus, I believe it actually means to say: “The United States will play friendly against Scotland on Saturday.”

2 – I was able to ascertain via Gaargle that the “World Cup” is a soccer tournament featuring teams from countries around the Earth. But Gaargle failed me when I sought to learn about these three countries: “Antigua and Barbuda and Guatemala.”

Why would the sentence say the U.S. has TWO World Cup qualifiers and then list THREE countries?

Thank you in advance for your assistance.

Perhaps it would have helped the Martian scholar if the two countries mentioned had been designated this way: “Antigua & Barbuda and Guatemala.” But who knows, maybe not.

A few minutes later, the Martian came upon another sentence via Gaargle that prompted this email:

SUBJECT — Sports research on MLB

Once again, I’m seeking your expert linguistic knowledge. Please look at this information about the Earth sport called MLB:

“The Giants have a questionable MLB situation, with unproven Chase Blackburn and Mark Herzlich trying to fill that role.”

I’ve Gaargled “MLB” and found pages upon pages of info on the Internet about Major League Baseball. I’ve also discovered that the “Giants” are a professional MLB baseball team from San Francisco, USA.

What I’m unsure about is this — why do the Giants have a “questionable MLB situation”? According to Gaargle evidence, the Giants won the World Series (the tournament that crowns the best MLB team) in two of the past three years. This would appear to be far from questionable.

Also, I Gaargled “Chase Blackburn and Mark Herzlich” but unfortunately the results were nonexistent.

Please advise re: your take on this conundrum.

Clearly, it would have helped the Martian scholar if his Gaargle search for the two players had worked — because at the time that report was written, Blackburn and Herzlich both played football for the New York Giants of the NFL.

And MLB? In this case, as football fans on Earth will know, it refers to … middle linebacker.

To be continued…

The Martian’s Tale — Part 2

© Bruce William Deckert 2013

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