Basketball, As They Know It

It’s not often that we are visited by life forms from another planet… or life forms that declare themselves as such, in a clear manner.  Unlike, for example, Roger Clemmons, Boy George and Sarah Palin, who have kept their true extraterrestrial identities hidden from view.

But such was the case when “representatives” from You-Wouldn’t-Recognize-The-Name-If-You-Heard-It Planet, in a Galaxy, also completely unknown to us, and a Star System that even George Lucas couldn’t cook up, visited earth on what might best be described as a reconnoitering patrol, and left behind indisputable evidence of their presence.

We can thank the efforts of Edward Cadbury-Howard of Oxford’s Department of Antiquities and Forensic Science Fiction for his work in what will go down as one of the great mysteries of this, or any, millennia.  And as is often the case, this story of success was a product of hard work and blind luck. 

First, the discovery of the object itself.  Cadbury-Howard, at the time, was a Visiting Lecturer in Archeology at Yale University when he happened upon a “slab” of considerable size and strange composition… bringing to mind the “monolith” from the film 2001 Space Odyssey, except that it wasn’t 2001, it was 2002, and it wasn’t the moon; but it was on a beach on Long Island Sound in Woodmont, CT where the slab was unearthed.

Call it blind luck when Cadbury-Howard, a few professors from the Department, and a group of graduate students stumbled upon the historic find by chance when they were actively engaged in digging a pit for a New England clam bake.

Little did the troop expect to come upon anything other than sand (although one of the grad students mentioned that Captain Kidd supposedly buried treasure in these parts).  After taking several hours to excavate the slab, the academics carefully wrapped it in a Land’s End “double king” beach blanket and carted it back to the University for a detailed analysis.

The lobsters, clams and sweet corn would have wait for another afternoon.

At Yale, specialists in metallurgy were summoned to work on the physical make-up of the slab, while the obscure etched symbols that totally covered every surface of the artifact, occupied Cadbury-Howard for eight years.  After the partial results of his hard work were published last September in the Royal Survey of Galactic Intelligence, the find was hailed as the 21st Century equivalent of the Rosetta Stone.

The Rosetta Stone unlocked the key to Egyptian Hieroglyphics, and paved the way to understanding ancient Egyptian History and Civilization.  The Woodmont Slab (as it is now known) unlocked the key to understanding communication from a world unknown.

{Let’s pause here.  I don’t know how much of this outer-space-Roswell-NM-“they’re-living-amongst-us” you are prepared to believe.  But let’s say for argument, that it’s true: They are here, or were here. So think about it… 300,000 years of human habitation (give or take), we have populated New Jersey and got as far as touching ground on the moon.  That “they” got to us, before we got to “them”… I mean… aren’t you just a little bit nervous about their abilities to open a can of whup ass on us?}

Working with a dedicated team of cryptographers on loan from the U.S. Navy and a group of Eagle Scouts from Temple Mishkan Israel, Cadbury-Howard made the break-thru discovery when he was finally able to convert a section of the bizarre symbols to: “These words are razors to my wounded heart.” [Titus Andronicus, Act I, Scene 1].  That led to deciphering the following: “Men at some time are masters of their fates: The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.” [Julius Caesar, Act 1, Scene 2]

Further study revealed that the complete works of William Shakespeare were inscribed in the upper third of, what was determined as the front facing portion of the Woodmont Slab. Just below Shakespeare’s Sonnets, Cadbury-Howard found Douglas MacArthur’s Farewell Address to the Corps of Cadets at West Point:

“The long gray line has never failed us. Were you to do so, a million ghosts in olive drab, in brown khaki, in blue and gray, would rise from their white crosses, thundering those magic words: Duty, Honor, Country.

“This does not mean that you are warmongers. On the contrary, the soldier above all other people prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war. But always in our ears ring the ominous words of Plato, that wisest of all philosophers: ‘Only the dead have seen the end of war.’

“The shadows are lengthening for me. The twilight is here. My days of old have vanished – tone and tint. They have gone glimmering through the dreams of things that were. Their memory is one of wondrous beauty, watered by tears and coaxed and caressed by the smiles of yesterday. I listen then, but with thirsty ear, for the witching melody of faint bugles blowing reveille, of far drums beating the long roll.

“In my dreams I hear again the crash of guns, the rattle of musketry, the strange, mournful mutter of the battlefield. But in the evening of my memory I come back to West Point. Always there echoes and re-echoes: Duty, Honor, Country.

“Today marks my final roll call with you. But I want you to know that when I cross the river, my last conscious thoughts will be of the Corps, and the Corps, and the Corps.

“I bid you farewell.”

On the obverse side, the Woodmont Slab contained observations covering varied subject matter.

“The Blue Planet has many diverting activities meant to entertain their population.  These activities are organized in buildings where humans consume beverages that induce vocal encouragement to support contesting groups of humans wearing unique costumes.  This activity is referred to as Basketball.  The contestants wear head coverings, and perform on a smooth surface that is very cold by Blue Planet’s norm, most similar to – {Editor’s note: this has yet to be decoded}.  The humans carry specially fashioned sticks and pursue a tiny black disk.  The object of this pursuit is to put the black disk in an enclosure protected by a human in heavy armor.  Sometimes the humans hit each other with their sticks, and sometimes they take off their crude hand coverings so they can better hold each other’s garb or strike at each other’s faces.  This always brings an enthusiastic response from the humans in the building.  Although it seems to cause concern for the humans wearing striped shirts.”

{This is basketball? Do you think we really have to worry about these “visitors”?}

Also on this side of the Slab was a recipe for a Mojito: “Lightly muddle 2-4 sprigs of fresh mint, with a small amount of sugar with a little club soda until sugar dissolves and the mint can be smelled. Squeeze in the juice of one lime, add 3 ounces of dark rum, shake and top with ice and club soda. Garnish with a sprig of mint.”

{Dark rum? Dark rum! I’ve made dozens of Mojito’s and you use light rum! These guys have a lot to learn!}

Nearly half of the Woodmont Slab remains to be deciphered.  The work continues.  Questions as to why the beach in Woodmont was selected as a location for depositing the Slab is a source of great speculation.  What were they looking for?  Maybe Captain Kidd’s treasure? Maybe they found it!  Word spreads quick about stuff like that… even to planet watcha-callit. Cadbury-Howard has suggested that it was left as a “study aid” or “travel guide” for future visitors.  Perhaps these questions will be answered as more of the Slab is deciphered.  Maybe there are other slabs to be discovered? One thing is quite clear… in the words of Cadbury-Howard, “These chaps came quite a distance.  Maybe they just got lost in space!”

Interesting.  I am not ruling out that this is an elaborate hoax perpetrated by clever Yale students.  Still, the possibility exists that it’s the real thing and that we are, in all likelihood, not alone.  Sure they made a mistake identifying hockey as basketball. But what the hell… even they are entitled to a “mulligan”. Dark rum in a Mojito?  ??? !!! These guys maybe on to something!

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