World Cup – Day 2 and Classes for Curses

13 06 2010

The day started with South Korea’s 2-0 victory over Greece. Lee Jung Soo scored in the seventh minute and Greece was never able to get past it. At the 52nd minute, Park Ji Sung cemented South Korea’s lead with another goal. Since the first goal set the trend for the whole game, it’s my photo moment of the match.
The second match of the day was between a name that comes up often when a casual fan in the US says “soccer” – Argentina – against a lesser known team – Nigeria ending in a 1-0 win for Argentina. My American brain was predicting a route, and that probably would’ve been the case if it weren’t for the efforts of one man – goal keeper Vincent Enyeama. He blocked many shots including several by the man who is arguably the best in the world – Lionel Messi. Even if the team itself doesn’t go farther than the group stage, he can leave having won that personal victory. Because of this, he is the subject of my photo moment of the match.
One more bit of news concerning Argentina. Their coach, Diego Maradona has promised to run naked through the center of Buenos Aires. I’m sure that there are some Argentina fans who would now be quite satisfied with second place.
The final match of the day was the one I’d heard the most about. It was the USA going up against England. Depending on who you listened to prior to the game the US was either completely and totally useless as should just fly home to save themselves from embarrassment or they had magically been possessed by the spirit of the Soccer Gods and were going to absolutely flatten any team they played. The truth was, unsurprisingly, somewhere in between – a 1-1 draw. There was a very early goal by England and many thought the US was done for since, historically, if the US gives up an early goal, they can’t catch up. The thing is, soccer rarely goes by history or numbers. The Soccer Gods always have their say and yesterday they smiled down upon the US in the form of a straight forward kick and an abysmally botched attempt at a save. Yes, the photo moment of the match is Robert Green’s epic fail.

Oh, the pain… if you an England fan.
Tim Howard also played a big part in the US hanging on. Early on there was a fear that he might not be able to continue after a save resulted in his colliding with the England striker and taking a foot to the chest. A whack to the solar-plexus is very painful and it knocked the wind out of him, but after a few minutes he’d shaken it off and the game continued. He gave a great performance leading the commentators to call the match “A Tale of Two Goalkeepers”.
One interesting fact. In preparation for this match, the Brazilian referees took courses in… curse words. I understand why especially given Wayne Rooney’s much talked about penchant for colorful language, but I still think it’s funny. I just keep remembering my time in language classes over the years and the image of a class in Modern English Obscenities is hysterical. One question, where’s my application to teach this course? I’m more than qualified.

And now the fan homage.


South Korea


Greece


Argentina. I really hope the guy in front has something on.


Nigeria


England. Is anyone else thinking Monty Python?


USA. There is a special feeling one gets when hearing their national anthem sung rather drunkenly by thousands of strangely dresses supporters of their nation and knowing that there might be a snowball’s chance in hell that their team won’t lose this one.


I haven’t found any pictures of Joe Biden at the game, so I don’t know whether or not he made a good Fan-in-Chief. This meeting with FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

The Slovenia-Algeria game just wrapped up about a half hour ago. The score was 1-0. Serbia and Ghana are due to play in a half hour. Germany plays Australia at 2:30 pm.

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Joe Biden – World Cup Fan-in-Chief

12 06 2010


South Africa tied Mexico this morning 1-1. The first goal of 2010 World Cup, the first World Cup in Africa, was scored for the home team by Siphiwe Tshabalala and I think it’s safe to say that the whole country saw it and reveled in it. If you went my the books, Mexico should have trounced South Africa, but soccer rarely works that way. It was not, however, for lack of trying and a hat should be tipped to South African goal keeper Itumeleng Khune.
Yes, I know that Mexico made a goal too, but the South African goal was less expected, more hoped for, and made a nation go nuts, so that is why it’s my choice for photo moment of the match.

France and Uruguay played a much duller game which ended tied as well. The final score was 0-0. The game picked up at the very end, but it was the French game that was so disappointing. Somebody needs to remind a few of their stars that there’s no “I” in “team”. That was the inspiration for my choice of photo moment of the match. Thierry Henry, France’s superstar, having his free kick blocked my a wall of Uruguayan defenders. That’s pretty much that match in microcosm – France would get the ball down the field and be held back by Uruguay’s defensive line. The only other incident of note is that this game brought the World Cup’s first red card. This distinction goes to Uruguay’s Nicolas Lodeiro after, wait for it, 18 minutes of play. He came on as a substitute at minute 63 and got his first red card two minutes later. Sixteen minutes after that he was off for a bad tackle. The drama was the most interesting part of this game. By the way, I’ve posted links to match summaries because I could go on forever. Once again, the soccer photos are from daylife.com.

Joe Biden will be at the US vs. England game representing us – the soccer fans, I mean – and I am so glad about the. Who else in this administration could be an effective fan-in-chief? The president is too reserved and doesn’t get too emotionally charged. I like that in a world leader, but it makes for an awful soccer fan. Soccer fans are a rather intense bunch, and I want the government official representing me to get into the game a little. They don’t have to get fully costumed like the dedicated individuals we’ve become so used to seeing, but jumping to one’s feet and cheering like a frat boy on pledge week would be nice. I don’t see that coming from Obama – at least not in public. The president is not the worst choice for a fan-in-chief though. Hillary Clinton is probably the worst choice for the job. At least the president has a certain “coolness” factor that could work at a sporting event. Hillary Clinton is many things, but she is not cool. Not even a little bit. The Secretary of State goes well beyond just being reserved, she’s never relaxed in public. There never are light moments with her that the public is privy to, and I’m not saying that’s a bad thing – she’s more than entitled to her privacy – but she’s too sever a personality to be fan-in-chief. Can you see her in the stands? Cheering. Not being at all serious or concerned with her work. The mental image is laughable! I can’t imagine her looking anything but miserable and that is not the look I want to represent my soccer fandom. Besides, pantsuits aren’t exactly proper fan attire. She’d look ridiculous and would you want her singing the national anthem?

That just looks painful!
I have confidence in Vice President Biden’s ability to behave like a fan at today’s game against England. He needs to get himself a USA scarf and cheer and jump around like the rest of us will if the US manages to score against England.

I’ll have more soccer info later today. South Korea is playing Greece now and has just scored at about the seventh minute making it 1-0. Argentina will play Nigeria at 10:00 am and then it’s the USA vs. England. Pre-game stuff starts at 2 pm. I’ll leave you with a look at what is usually referred to as a soccer team’s 12th man – the fans.


South Africa fans.


Desmond Tutu celebrates the South African goal. Behind him is Mexican president Felipe Calderon.


Mexico fans.


An Uruguay fan who is or knows someone who’s really good with face paint.


Fans of France. Love the ‘staches!

This is the strangest fan I’ve seen yet.

Yes, it’s a rooster and yes, I am holding back about a half-dozen jokes. I’ won’t type them out because, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. In case you were wondering…


yes, they were in the stands for the game. I love the expression on the face of the guy in red. I think he sees the comic potential of this situation as well and just doesn’t want to be involved.





It Has Begun – World Cup 2010!

11 06 2010

The festivities have begun in South Africa as the 2010 World Cup kicks off with a celebration concert full of award-winning musicians from around the world and a fusion of western and african rhythm that had the crowd dancing from start to finish. Here is the artist lineup from FIFA’s website. Stars well-known to US audiences including the Black-Eyed Peas and Shakira performed alongside Angelique Kidjo, the world-famous singer from Benin, international jazz legend and South African native Hugh Masekela, and the Soweto Gospel Choir among many others. Those who know their contemporary history with recognize the significance of both locating the start of the World Cup in Soweto and having their Gospel Choir perform at the opening ceremonies. I’ve attached a link anyway. Music plays such a large role in South African culture and has for so long that, as I continue to follow the coverage, my musician’s heart is thrilled with the near omnipresence of fabulous music. Germany didn’t rock like this!

Here are some pictures from the concert and this is a link to where you can watch it. Just a note, all pictures were taken from daylife.com, thank you, DayLife!


I love this guy’s hair!


Shakira


Amadou and Mariam


Angelique Kidjo


South African President Jacob Zuma stands at a podium. To his left is the president of FIFA.


Fans rock out to the Black Eyed Peas.


The Black Eyed Peas


Hugh Masekela


There were parties all over South Africa in the days leading up to the start of the World Cup. This was taken at Cape Town’s “Welcome the World” party.


John Legend


Former Anglican bishop and human rights champion Desmond Tutu.


Tinariwen


The crowd’s enthusiasm never let up even as the concert drew to a close.


Vusi Mahlasela


What they’re all chasing.


Former South African president Nelson Mandela has not yet made an appearance, but his image is everywhere. Now 91-years-old, he has cut back his public appearances greatly and essentially retired to private life, but people in South Africa and the world over see this event – the first ever event like this in Africa – as a testament to his lifetime of achievements. It is expected that he will attend tomorrow’s pre-game events, though the word has gone out that it will only be a brief visit.
****UPDATE*** Nelson Mandela has announced he will not be attending today’s game. His great-granddaughter Zenani, just thirteen-years-old, was killed in a car accident leaving the concert last night. This is the New York Times article. I’ve also heard it verified on BBC and read it on ESPN.com. I sincerely hope Bafana Bafana, the South African team, win today’s match in her memory. Former president Mandela’s presence was expected to be one of the World Cup’s more emotional high points.

Tomorrow’s game at 9:25 am pits Mexico against the home team, South Africa’s beloved Bafana Bafana. Match 2, Uruguay vs. France is at 2:30 pm. Saturday sees Greece up against South Korea at 7:30 am, at 10:00 am Argentina faces Nigeria, and the USA plays their first match against England at 2:30 pm.

* EDIT* All times are EST because I’m from the east coast and occasionally forget that some people aren’t so lucky.

If you feel like dancing around the room while getting into the soccer spirit, here’s the video of the Official Song for the 2010 World Cup, Shakira’s Waka Waka (Time for Africa).

I’m linking back to my post about the US seeking to host the World Cup in either 2018 or 2022. If you haven’t signed the petition, please think about it. And, because you know I have to…

VIVA ITALIA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!





Bon Voyage, Team USA!

28 05 2010

The US World Cup team visited the White House today for a meeting with President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and former President Bill Clinton who is Honorary Chairman of the USA Bid for the 2018 or 2022 World cup. (I posted about it here.) They posed for pictures under the North Portico. Truthfully, I have very little faith in our team’s chances – their first match is against England on June 12th – but I wish them all the best of luck even though I will be cheering, quite loudly as a matter of fact, for Italy. Joe Biden is planning to be at their first game and President Obama says he’ll be watching on TV. So, what stunning world of wisdom did Mr. Clinton have to impart on this occasion? He said he liked the team’s tan dress shoes. *Sigh*

Here is an article about the event and I’ve found a video of the send-off.

And, since I love pictures, I’ve found some of the event… and the shoes.

And, as promised, the shoes that all the boys in DC are talking about.





Because the World Cup is About to Start – Great Soccer Pics – Politicians

20 05 2010

It almost World Cup time and I cannot wait. I love it. I have created my first of at least two soccer picture montages. Here is what passes for soccer in the political sphere. Some do better than others.

Nelson Mandela

Pictured here in Switzerland in 2004 after the announcement of South Africa winning the bid to host the 2010 World Cup.

Gordon Brown

For someone who always looks like he’s about to fall asleep, he does alright.

Barack Obama

OK, so he’s no Pele. At least he gives it a try.

Michelle Obama

Looks to have more soccer skills than her husband.

Dmitri Medvedev

Not too bad.

David Cameron

He seems to be settling in nicely.

Nicolas Sarkozy

He always looks a little awkward.

Evo Morales

The President of Bolivia actually plays on a local team.

Angela Merkel

Apparently quite the fan, Angela Merkel was quoted in the lead up to the 2006 World Cup as saying that she “had arranged her schedule so that she could watch any match Germany plays, including the final.” Hmmmm… yeah… about that… VIVA AZZURRI!

Tony Blair

Looks good by politician standards… until he tries to kick a ball.

The G5

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Mexican President Felipe Calderon, Brazilian President, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, South African President Jacob Zuma, and Chinese State Counsellor Dai Bingguo pose with autographed Brazilian national team jerseys.

Joe Biden

He looks lost – like someone handed him that ball and said “Here, hold this and smile.” Still, he gets credit from this soccer fan for even being there. I don’t see Rahm Emanuel, Janet Napolitano, Hillary Clinton, or anyone else in the administration out there, do you? Incidentally, I will be very disappointed if someone doesn’t pick up a soccer ball – or better yet, kick it – for a photo-op between now and the end of the World Cup.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Because idiots play, too.

Silvio Berlusconi

He can give soccer part of the credit for being in office today. He’s President of AC Milan – a well-known team even here in the US – and used the name recognition it gave him to launch a political career which has now made him President of Italy.

Bill Clinton

Pictured here in 1997 getting a lesson from Brazilian soccer legend Pelé. He looks very silly, but he gets credit for trying and also for trying to bring the 2018 or 2022 World Cup to the US. Here is a post I wrote about that very thing.

Dubya

Dubya knows next to nothing about soccer and, for a refreshing change from the actions of politicians in general, he’s totally honest. He was quoted as saying “[A] lot of us grew up not knowing anything about soccer, like me. I never saw soccer as a young boy. We didn’t play it where I was from. It just didn’t exist.” Thanks for being upfront about it, Dubya!


Uhhhh… that’s the wrong sport! Hey, has Dick Cheney been giving you golf lessons again?





I Never Though I’d Say This, But I Could Hug Bill Clinton

19 05 2010

I could hug Bill Clinton right now.


Allow me to explain.

Bill Clinton has been named the Honorary Chairman of the USA Bid to host the World Cup in either 2018 or 2022. Here is an article from the New York Observer with the particulars. He announced his chairmanship (honorary though it is) at the FC Harlem soccer facility in Harlem, NY after a soccer clinic for local children was given by Juan Pablo Angel of the New York Red Bulls. In answer to the obvious question, yes, Bill Clinton, the aging, white-haired former president did in fact kick a few soccer balls and, according to the reporter for the Observer, looked at one point “like an excited but debonair flamingo.” I would’ve paid to see that. Here are a few pictures from the event.

Some slight “flamingo-ness” there or maybe just a Monty Python imitation.

For lending his name to the cause of bringing the World Cup here to the US, I would give Bill Clinton a hug. Of course, I’d also have to hug Henry Kissinger, Drew Carey, and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg among others, but it’s for a good cause, so hugs all around! Here is the website where you can sign the petition to try and bring the 2018 or 2022 World Cup to the US. Also, there are 22 days left until the 2010 World Cup begins in South Africa. (Viva Italia!)

I actually don’t think the former president would be put off by the offer of a hug…

but…

I wouldn’t want to cross her. Would you? I think not.

Nope, Bill Clinton gets no hugs.





Life Is a Series of Decisions (Bla, Bla, Bla-Di-Bla…)

17 05 2010

Ok, first a recap.


-I turned twenty-five on the fifth – in other words, youth, as it pertains to yours truly, is the stuff of history and perhaps a legend or two. I hope to hit myth status by thirty.


-I’ve been drafted as a mosaic artist to work alongside my grumpy, republican father. To be fair he’s a lot less grumpy when we aren’t discussing politics. I’d say it would make great sitcom fodder but it’s already been done… a lot.


-I’m still looking for work and it still sucks. Happily, my father’s irritation at having a grown, unemployed lump of humanity inhabiting an entire floor of his home whose only achievement of late is not killing off the tomatoes and strawberries she and her mother planted has cooled a little though things can gets heated when the FOX News folks start talking about unemployment as it relates to the economy. I think he’d like to see the able-bodied unemployed put into giant hamster wheel and made to run, powering a generator able to generate half the nation’s electricity until we learn the art of “making things happen.” Well, that or strip us of our citizenship and send us on a one-way trip to Europe. Actually, I’ve always dreamed of living in Italy. Warm Mediterranean sunshine, good food, soccer – no – football, one of the most melodious languages in the world, and let’s not forget the men.


Daria – the best TV show ever – has been released on DVD. It’s only been off the air for eight years. Glad they were so prompt about it. Let’s hear it for the show that helped get people like me feeling OK with being themselves… to the chagrin of the rest of the world. In addition to the “Glass Ceiling” Project and some impromptu tiling, I have a new quest – obtain the DVD set and revel in the snark. (UPDATE – I bought this boxset. It’s great!)


-The World Cup starts June 11th and, unless there’s a change in my employment status, I will be a complete soccer nut for the entire month-long event. ITALIA!

Now to the substantive issue of the day – how badly do I want to see my Congresswoman re-elected? Badly enough to actively participate in the political process? I’m actually not sure. I like Rosa DeLauro. I’ve met her several times – some before I was able to vote – and she didn’t dismiss me because I wasn’t either a baby or a possible supporter. She heard out my child self and, as much as I hate to admit that I fell for the oldest trick in the political book, I have to say, it stuck with me. From a practical standpoint, I share her point of view on many issues. I think hers is a good voice to have in Congress. Also, I’m seeing more – and by “more” I mean more than one – of those Teaparty flags around the neighborhood and, while I don’t see Connecticut’s third district as a hotbed of hardcore conservatism, it might be time for me to enter the fray as a sort of counterbalance.
I also just happen to enjoy politics. Sometimes it’s interesting, sometimes it’s amusement coupled with a healthy dose of schadenfreude, and sometimes, rarely, something really meaningful that betters people’s lives is accomplished. Sounds like a done deals right? Not If you’re me. As much as the political process fascinates me, there is also an element I find unpalatable. I sometimes wonder if we as a nation have outgrown integrity and ethics in general. Usually I laugh at it as I did here but I don’t know how close I want to get to the system itself even though I like the product. I like sopressata, but I wouldn’t want to make it, especially without compensation. Then again, it’s only posters and phone calls, right. It’s not like I’m trying to be the next Hillary Clinton.

I’ll add pics and such later, but I’m finally tired. I’ve been having a lot of trouble sleeping lately and I’m now like a zombie. I have no idea whether this post makes sense or not at this point. I’ll fix whatever’s most certainly wrong with it when I regain consciousness in several hours. (Obviously, I got around to updating.)

UPDATE – I sent in my info to volunteer. Yes, I do care enough to try to get involved. I find myself caring more and more. Now it’s time to wait and see. It would be a new personal low to be rejected as a volunteer.