Grace Under Rain


Edson Arantes do Nascimento, a.k.a. Pelé, becomes 80 today. Still considered soccer’s G-O-A-T, his popularity is intact after half a century of retirement. Despite his difficult relationship with Brazil, he helped it win three out of five World Cups, the most of any other.
A wee lad in the 1960s, I’ve experienced his magic and seized the memory as one of my most precious. As his celebrated Santos played my Grêmio, I understood what means to embody the dreams of an entire nation with the grace of a generous king.  

As he walked off the field, crowd jeers turned into cheers. He held his head down until they grew louder to grant us his royal smile. It took him only a second for all of us to become his.

Pelé, football’s greatest player, had come to town to play my team. But by the end of the first half, there was no memorable greatness to report. It was just another league game, after all; rough skirmishes in the mud and a cold and unforgiving winter to boot. That night though there was also a shining knight among us. And he acted the part with aplomb.
Sports fans are rude, raw, and irrational the world over. Crude emotions are always at the ready but civility is usually checked at the turnstiles. Just like at the Colosseum: Christians and pagans crowded the pitch but to the beasts belongs the hour.
The birthplace of  ‘jogo bonito‘ is no haven away from this world of unbounded brutality. The exquisite touch of skills, the artistry with the ball are reflected on the Mondo Cane sensibility at the bleaches, the cursing, the unholy screams, and every obscene gesture to match.
Let’s not get into the urine-bag throwing at random, the foul-smelling bathrooms, the fights that break at chance between rivaling factions. And the slurs throw at women, let’s just not go there.
In such a freezing and wet Wednesday, as only a place that close to Antarctica can be, 30,000 or so of us were braving elements and odds but for a glimpse of a special player, to whom songs, and toasts, and accolades are still being raised.
Chanting our undying commitment to follow our blue team ‘barefoot if necessary,’ as its Anthem promises, that’s where we were at that very night. And for a chance to see how memories are built to last.
Ours was the no-nonsense team, whose physical game had almost no room for finesse. We’d kick the ball and the opponent with gusto, and if we’d sneak an offensive play, it’d usually be like a cannon aimed at the other end of the field. All fancy schmancy and flair had no place in the squad.
It was 1969 and Pelé had already won two world championships with the national team. By then though, he was close to retirement, his great glory days left smashed in the grass of England three years earlier. For all it counted, he had nothing else to prove and a lot of reasons to just fade away.
No one knew then that a year later, he’d rise and enchant the world all over again. Football is a game for the minute. All else (more)
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Read Also:
* Pelé At 70
* National Tragedy
* Don Diego de La Argentina
Continue reading

The Far Out Job Report

Help Wanted: Island Cat Keeper,
Beach Bookseller or Tourist Ninja

You hear about the great gig economy and how ‘robust’ is the job market right now, and wonder what are they talking about. The reality on the ground is far grimmer, and the last call you got was for a go-getter, as in getting lattes for the millionaire 25-year-old star-up boss.
Fear not, you’ve got options. Understandably, you’re now a creature of habits, so change is laborious. But you’re also broke, which is bad regardless of age. So, given all life experiences you’ve accumulated so far, it’d be foolish not to consider the alternatives.
Granted, that’s a cliche of advice-given book writers. But besides doing better than say, elderly dishwashers, their brand of counseling has at least one B.S.-proof factor on their favor: they sell it. So have you already got duped by job listing boards? the Web will see you next.
About those listings: don’t sign up for them. All they want is to collect your info and compile a massive database, so to attract funding from investors, and provide golden parachutes to top executives. Plus, if you check one, you’re checking them all; the market is the same.

OUT THERE BUT NOT MUCH
But you knew that. As you did about asking tips from people who short of picking you apart, just don’t mind saying anything to actually get rid of you. Which, granted, not even you can blame them for. By now, your ‘pitch’ sounds as exciting as going to bed at 7pm.
Speaking of which, you could be a NASA ‘professional sleeper,’ if you weren’t up so many times at night to pee. Or go to China to be a ‘mourner‘ for hire, or a ‘panda fluffer.’ Those bears are notoriously fussy, though, and other people’s grief is not easy to handle either.

BETTER THAN SUMMER READING
No. Instead, such well-honed skills you’ve mastered for so long may be better served for more imaginative tasks. Like selling books in a tropical island. That pricked up your ears, didn’t it? Minimal wages but what perks. Say, do you like summer, sun and sand? You’re hired.
As for the competition, let us let you in on a secret: they want pretty young things, and frankly, that’s a huge mistake. No offense, but the young will take it as easy as vacation time, and wind up neglecting their duties. That’s when a pro like you have the edge. Go for it.

SWORD & MASK, YOU’RE A STAR
Know what happens to ‘pro queuers,’ who stand in line, waiting for somebody else’s newest iPhone to come out? they get beat up. Often. And ‘chief listening officer‘ is another name for customer service rep, that human punching bag that gets it from everyone and everywhere.
May we suggest instead fighting back and becoming a ninja in Japan? We know, it sounds outlandish but if you think about it, it’s not that you’ll need to obliterate deadbeats like a Yakuza and swear allegiance to some shady boss. Believe us, it’s all mostly for show.

THE GREEK GOD OF KITTENS
You’d be working for the City of Tokyo, and your job will be to entertain tourists. No Asian relatives? no problem; just think what an ice breaker for striking a conversation that would be. Which is just as well: your spouse will never tell you to get out again.
But the real cherry on this pie is taking care of 55 cats on an idyllic Greek island. You, walking on a beach like a god, with no one but the demanding, albeit wise, felines to report to is as close to (more)
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Read Also:
* Run for Cover
* Small Classes
* Help Unwanted

Continue reading

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

Dead Can Dance

The Hotel for the Departed, a City of
Mausoleums & a Coffin-Making Class

In the age of transcontinental traveling, it’s not easy to be buried in your hometown. Unless you choose to live where you plan to die. But for your grieving loved ones, nothing like a hotel to send you off in style. Better yet, why not build your own coffin?
Of course, there’s nothing new under the sun. Like our ancestors, we angst about what to do with the deceased and imagine those we’ll leave behind will surely grieve over us. By then, though, the great absentee of this party – us – won’t care one way or another.
We build crypts, enact rituals and come up with ways to memorialize the lives that were, so to transcend, or rather forget, the natural fact that once we’re born, we’re ever closer to the end. But even as we’re off and running towards oblivion, there’s still a lot of candles to light up.
Granted, there are those who truly couldn’t care less. Others never saw a life they didn’t want to murder. And yet, another class of hopefuls spend their waking hours, and loads of cash, trying to outlast the unrevealed count of the days already allotted to their name.
For when that moment comes, regardless of who you’ve been so far, monk or gambler, pious or psychopath, well, it will come. Regardless. The only thing that it’s up to you is whether you’ll ease into that night, or resist. Word of caution, though: it won’t make a damn difference.
CITY OF THE DEAD
Creeped out yet? Let’s climb an ancient mountaintop, where each family has its own mausoleum. From the distance, the remote village of Dargavs looks like a collection of medieval white houses, popping up at the tip of one of the five ridges of North Ossetia, Russia.
It’s only once you get closer, after a trying three-hour trek through steep hills, that you realize that the structures are actually stone crypts where locals have been burying their loved ones for centuries.
The ‘city’ is an ancient Ossetian cemetery and each family knows (more)
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Read Also:
* Grace Ushers
* A Life, Abridged
* Spooky Rites

Continue reading

The Day After

10 Years Ago Today, Recovery From
the Monster Tsunami Got Under Way

The day after Christmas, 2004, a giant wave came crashing on the beaches of 14 Asian countries, taking a quarter of a million lives with it, and leaving indelibly tragic memories on its wake. But the day after, survivors and volunteers from all over the world fought back.
Nothing will replace those gone with the receding waters, or their earthly possessions lost to the flooding. But tsunamis and tragedies do happen all the time. What not always survives is the courage to move on. And that was exactly what took place at those places and time.
There were worldwide ceremonies marking the first decade since the equivalent of a small city got wiped out of the face of the Earth. Neither those who perished will be forgotten, nor those left behind will ever get used to their absence. But they will light candles and carry on.
It helps that much of what was destroyed has since been rebuilt. Emotional wounds take long to turn into scars, but just like in Japan, reconstruction is truly remarkable. No one’s wasting time waiting for the next wave. And when it does come, they’ll beat it all over again.

Medieval News

The Food Was Game &
So Was the Kamikaze

Ah, nothing like being nostalgic about old times, when we were a mere few hundred million of human beings being mean to each other. Specially now, when we’re officially seven billion doing all we can to ruin the ground where we run with scissors after each other.
One would be hard pressed to find takers for a one-ticket back to medieval times, though. Dreamers notwithstanding, most of us wouldn’t survive a day amid the carnage that marked the conquests of new worlds we are so enthralled to read about in our heated homes.
Even the type of complain a typical citizen would air to the local authorities would make us all sick. And we haven’t even mentioned the food.
A FEAST OF GAME
Talking about food and reading, literature has been a great guide for us Continue reading

The Miyagi We Can Avoid

The Earth Shook & the Waters Came.
Nukes Blew Up & Thousands Got Killed

It happened a year ago tomorrow. At 2:46pm local time, on a Friday afternoon, the biggest earthquake to ever hit Japan shook the floor of its Pacific coastal sea and the entire country for six long minutes, while gigantic tsunami waves covered 10 miles inland with debris of every boat, building and vehicle it found on its lethal wake.
Even before the powerful aftershocks started, 15,000 had already perished, while over three thousand remain missing. The worst natural disaster, however, may have also caused the worse man made disaster: the destruction of the Fukushima Daiichi complex of six nuclear plants, which may have doomed by radiation thousands of Japanese citizens and miles of once fertile land for generations to come.
Even after a year, it’s impossible to determine the exact extent of the devastation of this tragedy, both uncontrollable from the point of view of nature, and utterly predictable, if experience and wisdom had prevailed years before it happened. Still, for years to come, the Myiagi earthquake will remain a cautionary tale for our losing bet against the dangers of nuclear power.
For if Japan has already started the process of reconstruction and Continue reading

Yeah, He Invented That

Life Should Be Longer;
Speech Should Be Shorter

If you enjoy reading obscure tech blogs or following fringe Web sites, chances are you know about Dr. NakaMats, a Japanese man who may be the world’s most prolific inventor.
Then again, the most original invention of this very popular man in his country, and virtually unknown anywhere else, may be his own public persona.
Chances are, you may have in your home one of Dr. NakaMats‘ inventions. He’s said to have had a hand on the digital technology that made possible CDs and DVDs, floppy disks, the Casio-type of watches, the taxi meter, and many others.
Not all that successful, which is not uncommon for inventions, and many have been challenged, like the karaoke machine.
Whatever credit he may have, though, what’s surprising is the Continue reading

Death by Blue

What a Little Canister in Goiania
Has in Common With Fukushima

As the world pulls its collective hair watching dozens of workers struggle to contain the radiation from Japan’s leaky plants, scores of scientists around the world lose sleep over the damage caused by nuclear crisis past.
While the Fukushima disaster has already surpassed the combined radiation produced by Chernobyl and Three Miles Island, other, less well known nuclear disasters may better guide us out of this dangerously overheated, seawater soaked, plutonium infused mess.
Over at the New Scientist magazine, for example, technology features editor Sally Adee revisited an over 20-year old case that resonates Continue reading

Whale Blood

Iceland Disregards Ban,
Steps Up Illegal Whaling

Word by word, you could have read this headline in the 1970s and the 1980s: Commercial Whaling Will Drive Whales to Extinction. Thirty years have passed and the story hasn’t changed much. Despite an official, global, U.N.-sanctioned ban on whaling first established in 1986, the practice of hunting, killing and profiting from the slaughtering of whales continues as bloody and senseless as ever.
Iceland now, as then, leads the nations breaking the law (yes, Continue reading

What on Earth?

Jesus’s Surprising Return to Japan
May’ve Jeopardized Plans by Faithful

Clearly, Tokyo has a big problem with umbrellas being left behind in the subway system. City officials have tried everything to remind riders to collect their belongings before leaving the trains, apparently to no avail.
All else having failed, they went for broke. By some undisclosed grace granted upon their land from above, they recruited none other than Jesus Christ, who brought along three of his closest disciples to help him out with the task.
Now do you realize the seriousness of the situation? By anticipating his second coming, Jesus ruined big plans by every earthly Christian promoter worth his or hers fishes, never mind screwing up all prophecies written in the past two millennia in the process, just so the issue could be quickly addressed.
No word yet on the progress of such a transcendental job bestowed upon the Chief Spiritual Officer of billions of faithful. Most likely, they make up the majority of those forgetful Japanese commuters anyway. But by the looks of the poster, J.C. seems to be on top of it.
And it won’t be done a moment too soon. After all, many remain blissfully unaware of this premature visit of his, and who wants to spoil and steal the thunder of that other event, the one they’re all counting on, when he’s supposed to return to earth with a completely different agenda?

Storyboard

“In a Mad World,
Only The Mad Are Sane.”

The great Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa, whose centennial is being celebrated this year, was known for creating full-scale paintings to use as storyboards for his films. His masterpieces “Rashomon,” (1950), “Seven Samurai,” (1954), “Kagemusha,” (1980), to which belongs the panel above, and “Ran,” (1985), all benefitted from his richly detailed, high quality storyboards, and resulted in countless international awards.
Along with another superior filmmaker, Italian Federico Fellini, Kurosawa‘s storyboards tell stories of their own and exist independently from the movies to which they were drawn. He tapped into Shakespeare, Dostoevsky and Gorky, and his love for American post-war Western directors such as John Ford, to develop highly personal and intensely humanist works, many of them adapted and remade by others.
He died in 1998, not as a household name in Japan but revered the world over as one of the cinema’s great masters.

World War 2


Japan Marks 66th Anniversary
of the “Jewel Voice Broadcast”

A-Bomb Like No Other

A Global Vigil for Peace
65 Years After Hiroshima

At 8.15am on August 6, 1945, the first atomic bomb exploded above Hiroshima, Japan, killing instantly 140,000 people. About 80 thousand more died in a second explosion in Nagasaki three days later, effectively ending the World War II.
As all the clocks in Hiroshima stopped at that infamous glimpse of hell on earth, so should we today, 65 years after. Let’s take a moment of silence to remember the sacrifice of those souls, along with their descendants and survivors.
Let’s reaffirm our faith on mankind’s ability to learn from its mistakes and renew our vows and commitment to peace on this planet. Let’s once again swear that never again we’ll take that road, no matter how many times we failed to make it good on our word.
Let’s join the fight to retire all nuclear weapons, even if that’d be such a small gesture compared to what so many already went through. War and cruelty rage on everywhere you look but there’s also plenty of kindness and forgiveness left.
The sun, the wind, the human ingenuity shall always provide to us and never threat our own existence once unleashed, the way powers we can’t control may and will if given a chance.
Let’s never forget the monsters that thrive within our hearts. Let’s keep an eye on them but also nurture and shelter whatever else of good is there so we can share our strength with each other.
Dragons may visit and haunt you at night but only the aim at making it right this time will get you out of bed in the morning. Heaven knows those hundreds of thousands stepped into that burning light as if life was as good as it had always been. As it may always be, if it’s up to you and me.

EVENTS & NEWS
* Universal Day of Peace in New York City.
* UN Secretary’s Message, Visit to Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
* U.S.’s first-time presence at ceremony in Japan.
* New York calendar marking 65th anniversary.

Better Late…

The World Prepares to
Celebrate End of WWI

Ok, you can breathe freely now.
After 92 years, and almost 40 million lives lost, World War I will be officially over Sunday. Once Germany pays up the last $94 million installment of war reparations imposed by the 1919 Treaty of Versailles, champagne and cake will be served and thank you notes sent to all involved. Or rather, to their surviving kin.
It could’ve happened much earlier, of course, if it hadn’t been for that nagging Adolf’s objections over the merit of the Allies’ monetary demands. His successful bid to Germany’s Chancellery four years later was built in great part on Continue reading