A Cup of Russia

Obscure Blogger Breaks
Silence About World Cup

Many readers – ok, three – have asked about Colltales’ lack of World Cup coverage this year. Flattered that they even care to ask, I can only offer that I’m a lazy bone by nature. Deep down though I could come up with a corollary of excuses to justify my apathy.
Like, this team doesn’t make my heart beat faster (a lie); it doesn’t hold a candle to past Brazilian soccer players (that’s actually relative); their win will boost a terrible government (it always does). The reality, however, is that when they step on the pitch, I lose my mind.
I’m sorry that Germany is out, after what they did to the game, and to us, four years ago in Brazil. Their fine display of football had the rare quality of matching their generosity off the grass. The community that hosted them won’t forget their dignity, and donations, for long.
Also, despite my little faith, I’d hoped for a rematch of their 2014 7×1 thrashing of the home team. The upside for Brazilians, though, is that their premature exit represented a big relief: Brazil’s unmatched five-times world title record will remain unchallenged for another four years.
Apart from them, all teams expected to get this far, have made it into the round-robin stage. On its twisted way, the cup is a predictable affair. Past champions Argentina, England, France, Spain, and Uruguay are still pretty much alive, at least until next week. Can’t wait.

THE TEAMS, THE GAME & EVERYTHING
By far, everybody’s sentimental favorite seems to be Mexico, this time around – albeit there’s a place in my heart for Japan too. They’ve been playing with gusto, and Sweden aside, are hot for a first title. Plus, they play next, and are always reeling to beat, Brazil. You’re on.
Up to now, the best game was the early thriller Portugal 3×3 Spain. And Portuguese Cristiano Ronaldo has the edge over Argentine Messi and Brazilian Neymar as MVP. That can change but it’s unlikely. It may not be feasible but a Portugal versus Mexico final would be great.
Speaking of coverage, the media has been predictably biased and disappointingly sparse. News organizations, which have spend lots of ink demonizing Russia, seem set on not showing the country’s so-called human side, as it’s customary in this sort of world class sports event.

THE MYSTIQUE OF THE YELLOW JERSEYS
Disgusting displays of hate and racism happened too, but none from host Russians. Scenes of ugly sex abuse of female fans and reporters, burning of country flags, and xenophobic celebrations went viral and caused the appropriate repulse around the world.
But I daydream, sort of. Despite FIFA’s ingrained corruption, referee mistakes, fake injuries, and some boring games, the cup always manages to thrill those, like me, helplessly hooked on its appeal. My, I even consider those world titles my own personal achievements.
I grew up with Pelé, Garrincha, Gerson, Rivelino, Jairzinho, Sócrates, Zico, Falcão, Renato Portalupi, Careca, Romário, Roberto Carlos, Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho Gaúcho, Kaká, – and now, the pickings become slim – Marcelo, Dani Alves, and, fine, Neymar, and Coutinho.
I can’t help it, I’m lucky that way and yes, you may hate me for it. So when friends say they’re rooting against Brazil, I tell them (more)
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Read Also:
* Grace Under Rain
* Out of This World (Cup)
* Cold Cups II Continue reading

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Victorian Secrets

U.K. Celebrates Two Queens;
the World Respectfully Yawns

For many British citizens, Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee is a reason to be jolly, as their monarch completes 60 years as a mainly relic of the U.K.’s gilded past. But while the English don’t mind being called ‘subjects’ of a fading empire, the rest of the world is unmoved. In the U.S., which since its independence has completely upstaged its former lords, the anniversary is a moot point.
Elizabeth Regina took the opportunity to mark another Jubilee, that of Alexandrina Victoria, by posting her last female predecessor’s diaries online. It’s hours of minutia of interest mostly to historian and Anglophiles, and pretty much almost no one else, about the inside-palace goings of life in the 1800s, which the queen was, even if unwittingly, a dominant figure.

Which is not to say that the U.K. for what it represents to the world has become irrelevant. Not yet, anyway. The cradle of a language that’s still vibrant enough to be considered a universal tongue, this tiny island had indeed an oversize role in shaping the world as it came to be, and no other empire since the Romans was as powerful.
It thrived through the Dark and Middle Ages, and wound up dominating the seas during the Discovery Era, defeating all the great fleets of the time, including the Spanish Armada. At the dawn of the 20th century, Great Britain was still controlling a fifth of the world’s population, with the equivalent power to boot.
DICKENSIAN TIMES
Before that, Queen Victoria presided over a period of material prosperity and population explosion throughout the empire, although the times are better encapsulated by the grim social tales of Charles Dickens. They mostly portray a reality of great hardship for the poor, Continue reading

Wonder of it All

The Power of the Human Spit, Keys
That Got Away & Watching Paint Dry

When a prison loses its keys, a steel bridge may collapse because too many people spit on it, and there’s a contest for watching paint dry, well, that can mean just one thing. What it is, we have no idea.
But it may be something to do with the end of the year, or of an era, or hopefully, of people who make a living predicting the end of times.
Whether we’re all going bonkers or stuff like that happens all the time, though, here’s to the pleasures of being a fly on the wall and looking upside down at the world residing next door.
But before we go any further, let us acknowledge all the weird news sites that have helped Colltales to amass the almost thousand posts it has on file. We wouldn’t do it without you, guys, so thank you. Now, off to our Thursday Trio.
A BRIDGE TOO FRAIL
For over 70 years, an average of 100,000 vehicles along with 150,000 pedestrians cross every day the Howrah Bridge, in India. Despite that, it’s expected to remain Continue reading

Unrequited Love

Sorry, Estibalis, But They
Are Just Not That Into You

Someone is asking to be invited to the next wedding at Buckingham Palace, of one Prince William and Kate Middleton, and she’s neither taking a no nor a cake for an answer.
Let’s say, you have this friend from England, who’s either visiting or lives in the U.S. for a while. Nice chap, good to be around, fun do to things with. Oh, and don’t get him started into politics: he’s not just engaged in current affairs; he’s perfectly Continue reading

Potter’s Field

Tomb of Harry Potter Is
Magnet for Tourists in Israel

Now, that’s enough to inspire J.K. Rowling to go back to her old, beaten typewriter and come up with yet another installment of her officially concluded book saga franchise. One of Israel’s most sought after touristic attractions, right up there with the Western Wall, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, the Dead Sea and the town of Nazareth, is the grave site of Private Harry Potter, an English soldier who died age 19 in 1939.
It’s an odd and far away location from the fictional life of such Continue reading

Scousers

Liverpool Fans Sing
The Beatles (in 1964)

And in following a Reds’ time-honored tradition at the KOP, they may just have another go at it.

Power of Poop

Human, Animal Waste
Supplies Clean Energy

Two deceptively simple recycling power projects are helping restore our faith in human ingenuity and the feasibility of alternative sources of energy. An experiment in Oxfordshire, England, is turning human sewage into power for 200 residences. And a dog “poop converter” was used to light up a park in Cambridge, Massachusetts, for a whole month.
Both projects use bacteria inside specially designed tanks to Continue reading