I’m not dead, I’m just more focused on football

I’ll get caught up this week, I promise. I’ve been more interested in football and just sort of writing topics on paper instead of posting. It’s the World Cup, what do you want from me?

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Lesson #180: Sheep Shearing

My friend who lives in the Texas capital is currently visiting his grandparents on their ranch in West Texas. This morning, rather than watching England completely collapse their way out of the World Cup at the hands of a non-goal call that was a goal and their defence being mentally in Mallorca, which allowed Germany to trounce them, he was shearing sheep. Or rather, he was supervising the shearing of sheep while professionals did it. I asked him how long it takes to shear a sheep because I am very much not a ranch kind of a girl; I’ve never been on a ranch in my entire life. I was expecting a couple of minutes. Nope, it takes about 45 seconds. Apparently, one of these guys used to be the national champion.*

*In other news, sheep shearing is a competitive event.

Lesson #179: Throwback Thursdays

I was driving up from New Jersey to my parents’ place in New York today and because I don’t have a kit to hook my ipod up to the car speakers and I don’t have any CDs with me, I was stuck with the radio.* Anyway, I get a bit south of Albany and I pick up a station talking about how it’s Throwback Thursday and get all excited. I’m thinking I’m going to get some Zeppelin and some Floyd and some Stones.

Nope.

I got my high school and college years. Apparently, I’m now old enough to have my high school and college years (which weren’t that long ago, by the way…I’m still a couple years from my 10 year college reunion) considered throwbacks. My soul cries.

*Incidentally, until you get far enough north to pick up something other than New York City stations, you get rap. I don’t really care for rap.

Lesson #178: Paraguay’s International Results

I have a confession to make; my very favourite time of year is not Opening Day of the baseball season, the Stanley Cup finals or the World Series. It is every four years when the World Cup rolls around. I watch a lot of football. Premiership, Champions League, Europa (UEFA) Cup if my team is in it. The best summer of my life was spent in a European capital watching Euro in the old square on a giant screen with all my friends, quite a bit of beer and thousands of complete strangers. I love the atmosphere of it. So when the World Cup rolls around, my focus is on little else. So you’ll have to forgive the barrage of football related posts that will likely occur between now and 11 July.

I’m watching the Italy/Paraguay match and I’ve just been informed that Paraguay have never performed well during the World Cup. They went ahead of Italy in the first half on a surprise spot kick and the announcers went wild and decided to provide me with some stats that don’t mean anything — as announcers are wont to do, much to my dismay* — so I thought I’d actually look it up. The results:

In seven World Cup appearances dating back to 1930, Paraguay have won six matches of 22; they have never progressed past the round of 16. The last international tournament the Guaranies won was the 1979 Copa America (though they did win a silver medal at the 2004 Olympics in Athens).**

*In fairness, they did tell me that the last time the Italians lost a match in the opening round was during the 1994 World Cup, though if they told me against whom, I didn’t hear it.

**That information here.

Lesson #177: What Eats Toads

I’m in New Jersey. Dying of humidity.*

My mother is working here, so I’m here to spend a few days with her. And to buy a car.** It being Sunday, we decided to go be all cultural and go off to a national park and hike and learn history stuff about the American Revolution.*** So, of course, today’s lesson has absolutely nothing at all to do with the historical aspects and everything to do with forest amphibians. But there’s a context, so that’s what matters. Sometimes, you don’t even get that.

Toads have several natural predators including herons, foxes, kingfishers, snakes and some other bird I can’t remember the name of that I’d never heard of, among others. All this according to my mother who knows these things. A quick run down of research shows that this is in fact true. I won’t link to all that, but if you want to look it up, you can. I assure you it’s true though.

*I have never been a girl who dealt well with humidity. Having spent the last six years of my life (three in the desert, one in a moderate climate and one in a place where it’s humid, but never warm, thus negating the part of humidity that makes me miserable), I had forgotten how much this is the case. I need to move back to the desert ASAP. Albuquerque suddenly jumped to the very top of my “places I should move to” list.

**This makes me giddy, I have missed driving so much.

***We will not get into how the American Revolution is not really a revolution in the strictest sense of the word.

Lesson #176: The Merchant of Venice (or Shakespeare’s Anti-Semitism)

That title might be more accurately worded, “Shakespeare was a product of his time.”

I’m in New York City visiting an old college friend of mine with whom I worked in the theatre, so we went up to Queens to see a friend of hers, with whom she works in another company, in a production of The Merchant of Venice.* It’s a very anti-Semitic play, but it turns out that in Shakespeare’s time, it was perfectly acceptable to treat the Jews like second-class citizens and dupe them out of what is rightfully theirs.** This is not really all that surprising, I suppose, if you know the history of Judaism, but for a Jewish character to be so openly mocked by someone like Shakespeare says something. It’s not a bad play, it’s just shockingly anti-Semitic. The number of times the word “Jew” is used with a demeaning connotation just made me cringe.***

There’s a very interesting discussion on the anti-Semitism of the play here.

*I’d never seen it before, mostly since I’m not a huge Shakespeare fan. It’s a very weird play. It’s like he took a comedy and a drama and mashed them together. Also, it has the typical Shakespearean women as deceivers for hilarity thing going and I freaking HATE that about Shakespeare. Every time I read/see one of his works where the women dress up as men and deceive their men for later shenanigans, I get annoyed and spend the rest of the time rolling my eyes at the men and sighing passive-aggressively. I always want to smack the men upside and ask, “HOW ARE YOU THIS STUPID?”

**I’ll be honest, I was on Shylock’s side the whole time. Basically, this guy spits on him and then demands Shylock lend him some money, is the reason his daughter runs off with a gentile, can’t pay back the loan, all but refuses to make good, has to have his friends come to his rescue and in the end is the reason why Shylock is forced to convert to Christianity when all he wanted was what was due him in the first place.

***I’m not alone in this. My friend’s friend was playing him and he said that because he had no experience as regards Judaism, he would rehearse it as if the term were “fag” because he understood how much that hurt.

Lesson #175: Bureaucracy

I’m in New York to both visit an old college friend and get my driver’s license renewed. I tried to do that (the latter, not the former) when I was home at Christmas, but couldn’t find my social security card, so no dice. So I got my social security card reissued and had my dad send it to my brother in Boston to pass it on to me. I show up at the DMV with my expired license from a southern state I used to live in, my social security card and my passport. All good right? Nope. No dice.

Why?

Because while my Canadian passport has a stamp in it that says I’m a US citizen and that’s good enough for the border control people to a. allow me into the country in the first place and b. stay now that I’m here, it is NOT enough for the DMV to renew my license. They kept telling me I needed an I-94 (residency) visa. My attempts to explain to them that the stamp in my passport that says that I’m an American citizen precludes me from needing a residency visa was unsuccessful.

I hate bureaucracy.