Athens, GA (Feb 18, 2009) - For troops, whether they are in a war zone or deployed to a faraway place, there is nothing better than when people from home come to entertain you, giving a small respite from your duties. For years, Bob Hope did this as part of his U.S.O. tours. These days troops will get visits from entertainers and football coaches. For six years now, they have been entertained by World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).
The logistics to move a show like this can be challenging, as freelance audio engineer Marc "Frenchy" Lanciaux has described in parts one and two of this series of articles. In this final installment, Frenchy talks about waking up to the Islamic call to prayer (the fard salah), helicopters, and machine gun fire. He also talks about the challenges of not having power...again.
Eye on Sports Media cannot thank Frenchy enough for allowing us to republish these posts from his blog. His writing and storytelling are excellent, and they set a bar for all sports related blogs, including this one, to strive for. The orginal posting of this installment can be found on his blog.
Iraq IV - Back to Baghdad - Part Three
by Marc Lanciaux
You don't need as much sleep as you think.
This, above all else, is a lesson that I have taken home from Iraq. Every year. I'd say that on average, the crew gets about ten hours of sleep in four days, give or take. I was racking up my dreamless hours when, suddenly, my sound sleep was shattered by the Adhan, the Muslim fard salah, or call to prayer. The helicopters flying overhead all night may have briefly made me stir; the sporadic sound of gunfire as patrols leaving Camp Victory test their 50 cal machine guns might have made me roll over; but when I heard the wailing call of the Adnan at 5 AM, I knew I was done sleeping for the night.
So, I did what any transient in Cyclone City would do when wide awake at 5 AM, I ponied up my credit card and signed on to the in suite WI-FI router. If I can't sleep, I may as well rant.
It was a little weird to see the header in Arabic. I tried to sign on. And failed. Several times. I kept getting an error message - in Arabic. WOW, that's helpful! I struggled for a while, until I figured out (by figured out, I mean made a wild guess) that Arabic reads from left to right. Entering my password first, then my username was the way to open the sesame to Blogger.com.
I wrote a silly little rant, added one picture, then waited thirty-seven minutes while the post and picture uploaded. The Internet may not be free, but at least it's slow. While waiting, I carried out the second half of my Iraq mission, writing the first of two installments of my 'crew blog' for the WWE.com website. Before the trip began, I was asked if I'd write a blog about what it takes to set up an arena in the desert. I figured I'm going to blog about it here for the Faithful Fifteen to skim, why not write something on a website that people actually visit? The WWE wisely hid my blog from all but the most dedicated fans, including my brother Eric, Unleaded of The Great Nova Scotia Expedition and Air Force fame, and my Dad, who posted three of the five comments I received. To save time and trouble, here's a link to that blog: WWE.com
Set day number two started much like set day one ended. Dark, with no electricity.
The electricians worked on defrosting the wire and hooking us up with some electrons all morning; taking frequent breaks for lunch, tea, and to rest from their long breaks. We worked on other things until there was nothing left to do but wait for juice.
I wanted to see if my signature left from the 2006 Tribute to the Troops was still there.
It was. I improved on the original theme, and also claimed Iraq for the Kingdom of Rhode Island.
The electricians guarantee power 'sometime after lunch.' Then they promptly go to lunch. They neglect to specify which lunch the power will come after. Those electricians! Such a merry bunch of kidders!
For once, they weren't kidding. After their mandated post-lunch, pre-break break ends, they flip a circuit breaker, we all hold our collective breath, and, rather than filling with smoke like we expected, miraculously, the tent fills with the wonderful sounds of whirring fans, electronic beeping and blinking lights. With half a set day to go, we're in business!
Suddenly, there is a fairly loud explosion not too far away. The second lesson I've taken away from Iraq is - It's Always Something. I flash back three years to the last time in Baghdad. We were waiting to go to lunch when a mortar attack hit the dining facility. Something about a rocket exploding a few hundred feet away really put me off my lunch that day. But this time, nobody's running; nobody's shouting "Get the fuck down!" In fact the soldiers working with us don't even seem to have noticed. I walk outside to see what happened.
Well, whatever it was, it was pretty close. But if nobody else is going to worry about it, I won't either. Back to work! Inside Supershooter Green, racks are set up, and the long, tedious job of patching everything together begins.
After suffering through another brief power outage, much briefer than the previous day-and-a-half long outage, I get as far as I am going to get for the day. I'd say that I'm about 80% ready for tomorrow's show, which is close enough for comfort. Speaking of comfort, before leaving for the day, we pour some smuggled adult liquid comfort from a flask, and hoist a red plastic cup to the Best Set Day Ever.
Show time - Outside Supershooter Green:
The WWE entertain the troops the best way we know; soldiers cheer, scream and yell, and maybe, for a little while at least, forget where they are. The show, for all the headaches during setup, is a good, clean show. I can't ask for more than that.
Guest Article: Iraq IV - Back to Baghdad - Part One
Guest Article: Iraq IV - Back to Baghdad - Part Two