World Cup Predictions – Group D

As suggested in earlier posts, the FIFA FIX Is IN and get prepared to see Brazil in the World Cup final.   I am not sure that Brazil deserves to be in the World Cup final, but then corruption has a way of levelling the playing field for all contenders.   In any event, some of the qualifying matches can be quite entertaining.

Group D promises to be one of the most exciting groups of the early qualifying matches.   Teams from this group have earned no less than 7 World Cup titles of the 19 World Cups played:   Italy (4), Uruguay (2) and England (1).   Now, only serious environmentalists and Tea Party freaks who have emmigrated to Costa Rica to escape Obama honestly think that Costa Rica has a chance of moving forward to the next round.  Nevertheless,  the remaining three contenders all have solid credentials to move forward to the next stage.

Manaus Football Stadium

Manaus Football Stadium for World Cup 2014

Here is the drawing for Group D for the 2014 World Cup with the FIFA March “Power Rankings” in parenthesis:

  • Uruguay (Power Ranking of 5)
  • Italy (9)
  • England (11)
  • Costa Rica (34)

Now I realize it is hard to believe that Uruguay – a country of 3 million – has a higher FIFA power ranking than Italy and England, but these lads play serious football and sprinkled among the national team are great individual talents.  In fact, no less than 81 Uruguayans play professionally for European and Latin American teams.

It is not surprising that most Uruguayans prefer to play abroad, since Brazilians jokingly comment that Uruguay is a country where 1/3 of the population is retired, 1/3 is unemployed and the remaining 1/3 work for the government.   Personally, I think a more telling feature is that the Reverend Moon owns the largest hotel in Montevideo.

Levity aside, Uruguay won the first World Cup in 1930 and upset Brazil in the finals at Maracana in 1950 to win their second world cup title.  I expect that they will advance to the next round in this painfully difficult group to predict.

England is always a consistent underachiever and I suspect that “the rot” will once again be exposed in a truly historical match against Italy in Manaus on June 14th.   The English Premier League attracts a great deal of attention among the media, but – let’s face it – the only place where English is spoken is in the football stands (Editor’s Note:  And it is not the Queen’s English) rather than the pitch.   Most of the foreign-owned league leaders are filled with mercenaries where English is but a distant second-language.  Indeed, even most of the successful managers in the Premier League are also imported.   Very sad indeed!

I realize that Italian football is in decline, but I believe that they will muster enough energy to beat England by using their heads rather than their diminished skills.  The only winner in this contest is Manaus which will be dreadfully hot and humid.   I suspect that the Italians will employ the “Rope-a-Dope” technique against the English that Muhammad Ali so successfully used against Joe Foreman in the Rumble in the Jungle in Zaire.    Personally, I detest seeing World Class football being played in these conditions, but then FIFA’s hypocritical bandits have never been known to do anything to enhance the quality of the game.

While I am giving a nod to Italy who play football with surgical precision, the real winner will the heat and humidity of Manaus.  A nil nil draw is quite likely and both teams would probably settle for that if they could avoid playing in Manaus.  If there should be a winner, the “better team” will most certainly progress to the next round.

Another reason I am giving the nod to Italy is that Caruso sang at the historic Manaus Opera House that was built just before the bottom fell out of the rubber market.

Again, I am looking for Uruguay and Italy to emerge from this group.  Games which stand out are as follows:

  • June 14th   Italy – England (Manaus)
  • June 19th   Uruguay – England (Sao Paulo)
  • June 24th  Uruguay – Italy (Natal)

A most interesting group, but do catch Italy and England in Manaus which is one of the earlier matches of the tournament and is likely to determine the fate of one of these two strong contenders.

Italian Stationery: A Tribute to Juliet and Vanessa

This article has been reprinted with permission of the Stationers Guild and includes a video clip for some of our Texas relatives who appear to be “word-challenged.”  I am not talking about “Bogey” Pinson, “Taleggio” Turner and Eli who have been kind enough to make the occasional contribution to Gourmay.  I realize that the Library of Congress is now archiving Tweets for a future generation of historians or aliens to analyze, but I would appreciate the occasional “comment” on some of my Blog posts to indicate that I am getting under your skin.  If you have something useful to say, all the better, but I don’t have high expectations.  Enough said, now the article:

Vanessa Redgrave is my favorite actress and I have had a crush on her since the mid-60s when I saw her perform opposite David Warner in Morgan.    I make it a point of seeing every film she is in and when asked to see a sneak preview of Letters to Juliet (the Juliet of Romeo and Juliet fame) on Mother’s Day, how could I resist?

Now some might argue that Letters to Juliet  is a chick-flick, but any film set in Verona, Siena and the beautiful landscape of Tuscany can’t be all that bad.   With the exception of the dewey-eyed Vanessa and a cameo appearance by Franco Nero, most of the performances were Hollywood-lite but who cares as long as there is a happy ending.  I certainly didn’t.

The plot – if you can call it that – revolves around a young American girl on a pre-honeymoon trip with her boarish fiance.  While touring Verona, she notices many young women posting letters on the wall underneath Juliet’s balcony.   In much the same way people write to Ann Landers, women of all ages  seek advice from Juliet on “matters of the heart” and appear daily to blanket the wall with their letters.  While some may find this behavior somewhat bizarre since Juliet  has been dead for over 500 years and was only 13 years old when she stabbed herself with Romeo’s dagger, I find the ritual charming.

Each day at dusk the self-appointed secretaries of Juliet take down the letters and retire to a nearby palazzo to answer these letters on behalf of Juliet.  These lovely ladies give hope to these heart-stricken women by sending a hand-written note, no doubt written on Juliet’s engraved stationery.  In fact, the young American woman finds a letter hidden behind a stone written 50 years earlier by Vanessa who asks for Juliet’s advice on whether to settle for a conventional English marriage or run off with a young Italian man with whom she was passionately in love.  I won’t spill any further details.

Now imagine if this lovely ritual could occur in today’s digital society.  I suppose one could Tweet Juliet or become a Facebook Fan if Juliet has a “Fan” or “Like” Page, but it hardly seems the same compared to penning a letter in a small courtyard under the most famous balcony in the world.  I guess today’s techies could leave behind a RW CD or, perhaps, a USB port under the balcony in the hope that some “New Age” secretary would would care enough to send an e-mail.  Alas, I think not.  But imagine how rich our lives would be if a perfect stranger – in the interests of “love” – would simply pen a note and let you know they hear you and wish you well. 

Oh, it’s only a film.  We have little time for romance and passion in today’s world.  How sad.

Richard May
Thérèse Saint Clair

Nine and Amarcord

All food and no fun makes for a dull Grinch. At the suggestion of Abigail “Drama Queen” May, the Grinch has decided that it would be appropriate to have a little cultural entertainment. Nothing could be better than to see the screen version of Nine, a Broadway musical loosely-based on the life of Federico Fellini. I recall seeing this delightful musical in the early 80s (1980 not 1880) with our good friend Rafael deGuzman. The original Nine starred Raul Julia in the title role of Guido Contini (Fellini). (Note: Sheila and I had seen Rafael and the late Raul Julia in the Broadway musical of Two Gentleman of Verona in the early seventies).  In 2003, I had the pleasant opportunity to take our two daughters and Sheila to see the Nine Broadway revival starring Antonio Banderas in the role of Guido. It brought back great memories and it was most satisfying sharing this lively musical with my family.

Found below is the video trailer for Nine. This musical clip is not in the original stage version and is apparently sung by some lovely creature by the name of Fergie, who at best has a “C+” voice.  (Note: I only thought that Brazilian football players had one name).  I do hope the film version will do a bit more justice to the original, but maybe the director is trying to create a cinecitta version of modern day Italy.


NINE: Movie Trailer – Funny videos are here


Amarcord by Fellini

Amarcord by Fellini

I do think we should definitely schedule Nine for a light refreshing cultural interlude over the Christmas holidays.   As homework, I suggest that you see Fellini’s Amarcord, which is a semi-autobiographical story (hilarious) of Fellini’s childhood.   Normally, I wouldn’t call seeing Amarcord   homework, but this might be the first time our Texas relatives have seen a foreign film with sub-titles.  I know it sounds difficult, but I can assure you that these Italian actors speak slow enough for you to read the subtitles.    (Nancy, that was a joke.  It’s a movie/flick/film, not a foreign language class).   Visually stimulating art from times-past. 

For those who want to do extracurricular activity, picking up a CD of  Nine – The Musical (2003 Broadway Revival Cast)
is certainly recommended.  The music is fun and engaging and will help you get more from the film.    Note for the Dish:  Despite the skin and suggestive displays in the video clip the film has a PG-13 rating.