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.

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.

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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* Grace Under Rain
* Out of This World (Cup)
* Cold Cups II Continue reading

Thanks, France

Statue of Liberty,
125 Years Old Today

Dedicated on October 28th, 1886, this gift from the people of France became New York’s biggest symbol and helped singed the U.S.’s global brand of tolerance and benevolence to citizens of the world.
How much that still holds true is the subject of a sometimes passionate but often sad debate over our nation’s diminished role as a champion for global peace and freedom for all.
Still, it’s as good a moment as any to meditate on what’s happening to our character and moral compass, our destiny and what we really want to be our legacy to future generations.
When our best qualities, our longing for social justice and prosperity for Continue reading

Perfect Stroke

Goofy Ideas for
The Game of Golf

For anyone who’s watched the comedian Robin Williams‘s inspired bit about golf, but never got around to hitting its hard plastic-rubber-and-resin ball into oblivion, it’s hard to conceive its appeal, despite the game’s certified ability to generate passion and revenue throughout the world.
What was once a favorite among celebrities and millionaires, is no longer considered as such. Even small communities now Continue reading

Foreign Objects

When Surgeons Find Knives
and Chopsticks In Your Skull

We hate to be the ones to tell you but when someone complains about intense headaches for years, they may have something lodged in their skulls. For knife blades, chopsticks, and all sorts of blunt objects are more commonly found in the heads of people from all over the world than you’re led to believe. And most of the victims don’t even know they are carrying them.
Take Li Fu, from the Yunnan Province, China, for instance. Continue reading

Head & Shoulders

Henri IV Gets
His Skull Back

After 400 years, Henri IV’s head is finally about to rejoin the rest of his body. But this time around, it’s to rest in peace for good. Long live the French king.
Some people lose their head over anything. As grandma used to say, their blood gets hot and they do something stupid. You know what happens next: they run around like headless chickens.
Others keep them well in place. It’s a good thing if you’re, for example, a king. You make good decisions and then, when you die, your subjects remember you as an good-hearted monarch. Continue reading

Trick or Gift?

Doubts Abound Over Trove
of Unknown Picasso Works

It’s not uncommon for a member of a traditional family to find a forgotten work of art behind some cupboard or at the attic of a farm house. What’s very unusual is when the finder claims that the author himself, one of the greatest of the 20th century, gave him not one or two but a trove of 271 drawings and sketches.
That’s exactly what happened, according to retired Frenchman Pierre Le Guennec, who swears Spanish great Pablo Picasso (or Continue reading

Ghost Ride

Under New York, a Storied
Past Missed its Last Train

Paris has the old Catacombs. Capadocia, in Turkey, exists atop dozens of underground villages. And New York City has its subway tunnels, where abandoned stations are connected by miles of uncompleted tracks.
Recent news about a graffiti show that opened somewhere under Williamsburg renewed interest in the dark recesses of this city, Continue reading

Change the World

TED Award for J R,
Street Provocateur

If you’re not well acquainted with the agitprop world of graffiti expression or street art, or don’t live in one of the slums of South America, Asia and Africa, you may never have heard of J R, the secretive Parisian artist who just won the TED’s 2011 “Wishes Big Enough to Change the World” award.
But to scores of impoverished communities around the world, it’s Continue reading

Undiscovered Country

New Island Off France
Sets Off Old Arguments

It’s not on any map or chart yet. It has no name. At high tide, it’s about the size of two and a half football fields, but it’s at least 10 times larger when the tide is low. And it’s 20 minutes off the French coast, near the mouth of the Gironde estuary. That’s pretty much all everybody can agree about it.
To some, “L’île Mystérieuse” is not even an island, but a sandbank. There are those who believe it’s only 18 months old, while others swear they’ve been going there for 15 years. Environmentalists, geologists and naturalists say the island is likely to expand, rather than disappear, and therefore, should be protected from the human presence.
Partygoers and regular visitors wish such buzzkillers would just go away and let them do as they please on the new land. They even congregate under the “île Mystérieuse Liberation Front.” For them, it should be declared a semi-independent territory of the people, and all this talk about regulation is just too much.
Oh, but there’s something else everyone seems to agree about the Mysterious Island: it’s very, very beautiful. And it’s French, of course.