Friday, June 27, 2014

The universe will never be the same - São Paulo

Caravanning with the Argentinians - Belo Horizonte - Porto Alegre

So, as I have mentioned before, I am having a GREAT time with the World Cup. One of the reasons is that it turns out that I am really good at predictions. Let me tell you two examples:

1. At minute 85 (it's 90 minutes + injury time in a match for all those confused) of the Argentina-Iran game, the score was tied 0-0. My kid started crying because he wanted to see a Messi goal. I promised him that Messi would make a goal--I mean I promised...BOOM! At minute 91 (regulation time + 1 minute, are you following me Americans?), Messi got a goal. Even my kid was impressed with me (okay, he was more impressed with Messi, what can you do?)

2. At minute 70 of the Uruguay-Italy game, I was online with an Italian friend who was getting upset about the red carding of the Italian dude and I said "don't worry, game is not over, Suarez will probably bite someone." I'm not kidding--it's right there on my facebook page. And at around minute 80, Suarez did bite someone. Okay, so Italy lost but that's not the point.

So, I'm feeling very chuffed with myself. Yeah, I didn't see Costa Rica coming and yeah, I've gotten most of the score predictions wrong but I am good with some of it. And I'm enjoying the heck out of the rest of it. 

A few friends have sent me the link to Ann Coulter's deluded rant against soccer yesterday. Clearly she has never watched a game in her life. Does she have kids? God, I hope not. Anyway, she is as demented as Suarez but her bites don't hurt as much and pretty much we should all ignore her. The fact of the matter is the World Cup is so much fun. More fun than Nascar, the NBA finals or baseball which I think are the things she mentioned. Okay, minus Nascar. I've never been to a Nascar race so I'd better wipe that one off my complaints here.

Anyway, here's what's fun for the non-soccer person (that's me in spite of being a card-carrying Palmeiras "fan"):

1. Soccer is bloodier than most sports. And it's crafty-bloody. As in, there is no instant replay for the refs to look and say "wow, he really did bite that guy" or "I think elbowing his nose out of joint is cause for a yellow card."  I saw Cavani chuck a guy out of bounds while the ref wasn't looking, I've seen all kinds of "hugs" and kicks and smooshes. Some of it makes me cringe--like Jones and the other guy (sorry terrible with names) from the US crashing into each other--that was worse than a Raiders game.  The gauging and cleats flying is also scary... So not sure that is "fun" but anyway, it's ummm, entertainment.

2. The fans. Oh, my gosh, the fans. First and foremost, let's talk about the South Americans who are here (non-Brazilians). The Argentinians are nuts. We saw converted buses traveling from Belo Horizonte on their way to the next stop in Porto Alegre, covered with blue and white flags. One had hung a real air conditioner out the back window--you know a regular size window air conditioner--and was going hells bells down the highway. This is fandom. The Argentinian fans are so far my favorites--they were polite and good-humored and singing all the time at the Iran game. Love.

Chileans are also here in force. I can hardly believe there are so many Chileans at all. A sea of red. I hope that if they win tomorrow against Brazil, there is not another type of sea of red. No, just kidding--this World Cup fandom is amazingly non-violent. There really are no fights between the fans--they can all sit in the stadium next to each other and no one dies like in club soccer. Love.

Even on TV, you have to be amused by how fans dress, how they cheer, everything. It is a giant party. Yeah, I know I forget to watch soccer when watching the fans but it's hard not to when they are dressed in diapers and whatever else.

Korean fan in diapers. Not sure why. Maybe it's "why not?" Image credit:
And if you think the gringos are immune to "loucura", guess again.Image:

The rising sun? Yes, of course! Credit again to

There's an ad for McDonald's right now which I think sums it up pretty well. Here is the link in case it does not embed: The universe will never be the same...I'm glad you came:

3. The stars. I mean the soccer stars. I love watching Messi, Muller, Robben, these guys who are living highlight reels. Yeah, if you hate soccer, you can catch the "real" highlights reel but you're missing the anticipation. And let's face it: soccer is all anticipation. 

4. The joy. Imagine being one of these 11 players on the field and winning a World Cup match, 65,000 people watching you live, millions at home. It must be just incredible. I love watching the moments of joy, the teams streaming onto the field to hug and jump on and pretty much run over the goal-maker. 

Today is a day completely without games. I'm not really sure what to do with my afternoon. Well, okay, so I'm heading to my favorite sushi restaurant with friends, picking up a shirt for my son, and bringing the kids to swimming but I mean besides that! Oh, real life. So it will go on after this? Yes, and I will move from Brazil on July 23 with the best possible memories. 

I'm glad I stayed for this. Tem Copa!


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