The Real Show

I watched almost the entirety of the Argentina-Mexico match yesterday. Almost 90,000 people in attendance. I guess it was very loud there. The match itself was a nondescript struggle for the first half, but Lionel Messi broke the ice in the second half with a typically accurate worm burner to the lower right corner of the net, the goalie’s left. Messi’s side ended up winning 2-0 and kept hopes alive that he might get a chance to play for the one trophy he doesn’t yet have.

What was driven home yesterday, besides the other-worldly megastar status of Messi, is just how much time is wasted with the theatrics—fake injuries and dramatic writhing. It’s obviously part of a (sometimes) fast-paced, high-impact sport, but it’s still ridiculous and hard to watch.

I’m not sure if this is what people are considering when they call futbol the beautiful game, but it must be something the players work on in practice. I love the fact that we get to watch 45 minutes plus stoppage time of uninterrupted action with no commercial breaks. But the silly drama cheapens the product- it can be difficult to know when a player is actually hurt, when trainers and a stretcher on the pitch are for real or just part of the schtick.

Not only does one have to be a top notch athlete. They also have to have a flair for the dramatic. It gets hard to separate real effort from mere stage performance. Kudos to the ref, for having the patience and smarts to maintain an air of authenticity, and keeping it from turning into a WWF event.

In Summary II

Just scanned the headlines and the only one that really jumped out was the report of Trump dining with Ye and a white nationalist who denies the holocaust. A true Who’s Who of rogues and dimwits. A Summit of Sadness. There were other stories, but none of them dredged up the same feelings of abhorrence and fatigue.

The Artemis mission seems to be on course, the murders in Idaho remain unsolved and will be featured at some point on a “news” show, probably Dateline, hosted by Lester Holt. The Colorado Springs shooter had a death note, no doubt containing much wisdom to impart to the world. Not surprisingly, two brands of cell phone made in China have now been banned from sale here due to spying concerns (how many are already in circulation?). The US men played to a 0-0 tie with England. I watched the first half– the action was a bit more exciting than the score.

Oh, and Vladimir Putin is still a tiny man with a giant penchant for being a scumbag.

Often Bittersweet

We gathered with family at a road race, spent the time between Start and Finish sitting at a long table in a cozy coffee shop in town, enjoying the company of folks we don’t see very often. Seems idyllic in comparison to headlines involving deprived behavior and relentless bombing and a lack of electricity as winter approaches. A generally atrocious, heinous treatment of fellow human beings. Talking about you, Vladimir P., you fucking scumbag.

Such dissonance, such melancholy, such hateful, disgusting behavior. It brings us all down, or should. But we sit in the warm glow of coffee and baked goods, walking off a gluttonous meal, enjoying unabated family time uninterrupted by gunfire and assaults on our lives, if we’re lucky. We should be grateful every minute of every day.

Thanks giving? It must be really hard sometimes to find a silver lining, or the heart for gratitude.

800*

I’ve been on a roll and don’t want it to stop, so this entry is a sort of filler, an extender that gets me to a 39-day streak on WordPress and brings me to blog post #800. Officially, #801, but one of the recents was a short apology for a previous post. I don’t really count that as a post.

Anyway, I’ve been at it for five and a half years now, maybe a bit longer. Just words on a page, for the most part, but a mix of rewarding, cathartic, and something to do for my brain. I hope that, on occasion, I write things that make sense, strike a chord, or reflect some level of thoughtful observation and analysis. There’s usually no shortage of material.

Except for today.

Overnight

I’d hate to think that the Saudi victory over Argentina at yesterday’s World Cup match was anything other than a huge upset. I don’t know why I almost immediately started wondering if bin Salman or some emissary just waved cash in front of Messi and the rest and got them to somehow play a bit less focused, just enough to make it look legit. Wow. I know FIFA isn’t the most honorable of organizations, but does it extend to the players, too? Please– the answer must be “no.” Though… futbol players are known for being pretty good actors.

And another supermarket shooting. Well, another Walmart shooting, this one in Virginia. Prepare for many solemn expressions of concern and makeshift memorials and handwringing over weapons possession and the Second Amendment, and then… nothing. Only six deaths reported at this point– might not even move the needle.

Towering Babbel

It is a dizzying prospect when one contemplates having to listen to politicians offer their version of an answer to questions about Donald Trump and his place in the Republican party. Paul Ryan, Nikki Haley, Chris Christie and the rest are trying to chart a new course for the party while tip-toeing around the 76-year-old toddler and purveyor of fine bombast.

This is all fine and good except for the fact that the Republican party—even the old guard or more mainstream membership—is still a one-trick pony. They pride themselves on “conservative” values as this applies to everything from spending and taxation to views on religion and sex. They have trouble dealing with life as it comes at most of us. Even the sane ones seem to have trouble recognizing that life will not, cannot be as neat and tidy as they wish it would be.

They’re unduly influenced by their Christian beliefs, seemingly stuck in some nostalgic time warp, reluctant to acknowledge real need or perhaps simply ill-equipped or unwilling to address it. The irony has always been that as self-proclaimed followers of Jesus, they behave as if they really don’t believe that. For them, it still appears to be more about law than gospel.

Maybe we should dispense with the labels, namely “conservative” and “liberal,” and instead simply assume that Republican concerns will always align more closely with maintaining material wealth and a rigid moral code, while Democrats at least attempt to see the world as it actually is, and aspire to change it for the better. For everyone.

Something to Watch

As much griping and handwringing as there is over the political wranglings and worthiness of the World Cup host, one can expect this to be a grand spectacle with great play and unexpected results. The competition itself will take over and people will stop and gaze in wonder at the beautiful game.

Or not. Who knows? If one’s identity and life are so interwoven with a game played by grown men and big boys treated as gods, well, that is what it is. And what’s up with Jon Hamm- can he not get a part in a movie anymore? Advertising really is part of the hype machine, nothing more than contrived debauchery.

Not So Fast

Maher and Colbert and others seem buoyed by the results of the recent midterm elections, i.e. America isn’t as crazy and doomed as people claimed or feared. I think they’re premature in their assessments, because that’s what I do and who I am.

If Trump recedes, and the MAGA crowd along with him, I will be elated beyond words and the first to admit the error of my judgment. But I have this feeling that the crazies and itchy trigger fingers will still have a moment, especially if Trump is brought to trial in any of the pending legal cases in which he’s involved. And let’s not forget the clones who remain in or were recently elected to Congress.

I just don’t see this being clean and neat. We’re still in the woods.

It’s like we all know what Trump is up to, and the chances of stopping him are mixed, at best. I don’t see him being removed from the scene, which is what we need. We need him to fade into the woodwork, either with jail time until he’s too old to run again, or by being marginalized and finally recognized by the Base as the windbag and toxic slug he’s always been.

No Better Anytime Soon

The goons and hoodlums are ready to pounce. Imagine elected representatives like MTG, Matt Gaetz, Rand Paul, Jim Jordan, and the rest—with Kevin McCarthy at the helm!—having a turn in the majority in the House. The next two years are gonna be a mess, just more outlandish, partisan wrangling and yelling, the same tired rhetoric, the same vengeful feel. Such a waste of time and oxygen.

Plenty of fodder for the networks, though. They shouldn’t have any trouble finding something to exploit and cover to death.

Sampler

Network news really is a hype machine. Every story is delivered breathlessly, especially the weather. I guess I’d be excited, too, by the possibility of five feet of snow coming my way. Look out, Buffalo and Watertown. Lake effect is gonna do its thing. I know they’re used to a lot of snow in that neck of the woods, but five feet sounds like it might be more than even they can handle. The way things are developing, one might wonder if winter is coming early and will be over early. Seems like that often happens when the big storms arrive so soon in the season. Oh, predictions are down to four feet this morning. That’s more like it.

Speaking of Lake Effect… Kari refuses to concede. Of course. Should we be expecting anything more, or less, from the person who prefers to be filmed as if through a sheet of plastic wrap?

Kevin McCarthy got quickly around to diminishing Nancy Pelosi’s time as Speaker. As if it were a reign of terror. Hopefully you’ll be learning that karma is a bitch, Kevin.