Sat 10 Jul 2010
I have written nothing for a week. Not one word. This sloth is unprecedented, but I have a good excuse. I have been on vacation at a lake in Michigan, lulled into a sense of happy complacency by the clear blue sky, the sound of the waves lapping against the shore, the smell of the pine trees… and the siren call of buzzing vuvuzelas beckoning me to the television to watch another World Cup match.
I have managed to pull myself away from the lake and the World Cup once or twice. I ran a 10K (or as I like to think of it: a good excuse to eat more ice cream). I went on a beautiful day-long bike ride (a good excuse to drink more beer). And I journeyed into town to watch the new Twilight movie, a fascinating mix of the dull, implausible, and pointless. For those of you who watched the first two films in this epic quadrilogy, you will know that the second film ended with the depressive lead Bella choosing the more stylish hunk, Edward, over his muscle-bound rival, Jacob. The entire running time of Eclipse is devoted to a rehash of this decision, leaving us exactly where we started. Absolutely. Nothing. Happens. I suppose having a plot would have improved the movie, but on the other hand, I don’t think I would have had quite as much fun mocking it.
But these activities were mere diversions, ways of passing the time between World Cup matches. And what a glorious World Cup it has been. It opened as Africa’s Cup, looked for a brief moment as if it might become Asia’s Cup, before quickly transforming into first South America’s Cup and finally Europe’s Cup. Even CONCACAF treated us to a few memorable games: the United State’s spirited comeback against Slovenia and last-minute goal against Algeria; and Mexico’s controversial match versus Argentina. And speaking of Argentina, I would like to personally thank the country for selecting Diego Maradona to coach their national team. In a World Cup where the stars mostly failed to shine (Diego Forlan, Wesley Sneijder, and David Villa being notable exceptions), no one provided more entertainment and excitement than the ever-quotable Maradona. (Just a taste… when a journalist asked Maradona about his affectionate embraces of his players, Diego surprised him by replying: “No! I like women! I’m dating Veronica. She is 31. She is blonde. She is very pretty! Don’t start rumours about me. I may have my weaknesses towards some of my players, but that’s normal.”)
As ever, this has also been a World Cup of heartbreak, from Robert Green’s despair at his own ineptitude, to the elimination of all but one African team in the first round, to the German’s demolition of England and blitzkrieg against Argentina, to Brazil’s shocking ouster at the hands of the Dutch. No fans, however, were as cruelly abused as those of Ghana. If I were the sort who invested in things, I would invest in a company to sell anti-depressants to Ghanans. They surely need them after the Black Stars lost in the cruelest of fashions: a last-second, game-winning goal saved off the line by the hand of Uruguay’s Suarez, followed by a missed penalty kick that would have secured Ghana a place in the semi-finals. The match left me feeling sick.
And now, at last, the final is nearly here. Although I do not have an octopus on hand (for the few of you who have not yet heard of Paul the Octopus, check out this clip), and am thus liable to error, I’m picking the Orange to win it all. I think the Spaniard’s stubborn refusal to convert chances will finally come back to haunt them, allowing the Dutch to secure a thrilling 3-2 victory and leaving the Roja Furiosa furious indeed. And then, I can finally get back to writing.