RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition. He does have an amazing PATREON, but also *normal* ARTIST WEBSITE too.

Tuesday, December 22

S14: World Cup 2010 Preliminary Rooting Interests

If you read this blog at all, it’s obvious I am a large fan of the American style of football, a game heavily steeped in strange rules and regulations and safety equipment featuring guys of questionable self-preservation desires and wild personalities. Nothing compares to football, in my mind. Yet, every four years, as I have grown older, I become more and more excited, and at earlier times, for the grand international spectacle that is the World Cup tournament, held in stupid South Africa next year. The first time I even paid attention, like many stupid Americans, was when the World Cup was held here, in 1996. At the time I worked in Richmond for a contractor with a heavy multi-cultural flair, featuring regular Americans, Mexican dudes, an Italian carpenter, a bunch of stupid New Yorkers, even a Canadian, plus ghetto black dudes. The Mexicans and the Italian were at each other for months before the Cup kicked off, and the first day of games, our bosses gave us the afternoon off and hosted us at one of their downtown apartments for manly appetizers and free beer. It was a great time, and my first real exposure to international soccer. Before that, soccer was mostly what my stoner high school friends could play and excel at since the superiorly athletic black guys at our school didn’t fuck with it.
But don’t get it wrong; I am no international futbol fan extraordinaire. I’m not going to meet up with other jackasses at a bar to watch Premier League games or UEFA Cups or whatever. The MLS is painfully boring to me, having watched the title game last month, but only being able to stomach like 10 minutes of it before the utter slowness of it, combined with David Beckham’s stupid hair, made me prefer like third-tier college football games instead. But the World Cup, when national teams are all together, going for it all, it’s a completely different game. My internet pal and longtime co-conspirator Mike Dikk explained to me one time that the reason for this is in international soccer of the professional variety, it’s like dudes from 7 different countries on the team, so communication can be an issue. But with national teams, it’s, for the most part, all dudes from the same place speaking the same language on the same page and working towards the same goal.
Well, I’ve actively been following World Cup qualifying in my google news for a long ass minute now, and have hyped myself up, and this shit doesn’t even kick off until next summer. My bro-in-law bought us a fancy new large face mos-def TV, and I plan to be paying for the satellite TV HAARP rays by then, so I figured, in my never-ending ability to talk for a long time about things I don’t really know about in a barely entertaining manner, I would share with you the 14 teams I am rooting for the most hardest and heaviest next summer in WORLD CUP 2010 STRAIGHT OUTTA AFRICA!

#1: UNITED STATES (ranked 14th in the World, 65 to 1 to win it all) - So I am usually your standard malcontent that roots against America in everything from swimming at the Olympics to the G8 Summit to conflicts in the Middle East. It’s my nature to hate the overlord, yet I was born inside the boundaries of the most overlording country on the earth. Of course, if I was born somewhere else I’d probably love America. Greener grass on the other side of the preconceived wall and all that. Yet, the truth be told, I tend to root for underdogs. And what bigger underdog is there in world soccer than America? We suck. Our best athletes all go play football or basketball or even baseball or tennis or golf before soccer. Soccer’s way down on the list after kids get older than 10. And also, being your standard 30-something Generation ADHD-X malcontent, I like lots of retarded things. And no country allows retarded sub-cultures to not only exist but thrive like America, except maybe Japan. But fuck Japan. This is about America. So while contemplating this list, and even though my home country wears terrible-looking uniforms, I am going to put my full psychic rooting weight behind the United States of America. I am a firm believer in the power of the psychic energy of the collective fan consciousness, and perhaps a big problem for America in the past is the same demographics that our soccer fans come from are overeducated smarmy asshole types who won’t just root for America because of slavery and World conquest and all that other shit. Well, I for one am going to put all that behind me when the whistle blows (is that how they start?) and going all in for Team USA next summer. Although I do wish we had enough of a soccer (I know uber nerd, it’s called “football”) consciousness here for our team to have a nickname like other countries do. And hopefully we’d have something better than stupid Eagles or whatever. I personally am saying right here we should just call them the USA FTWs, our national soccer team.
#2: GHANA (ranked 34th in the World, 65 to 1 to win it all) - In my last two rounds of World Cup watching, I fell in love with the relentless style of African team play, especially that of the Ghana Black Stars. Being the World Cup is being held in Africa for the first time ever, I actually followed the African qualifying pretty intensely online, which actually culminated, in true world soccer fashion, with strained political relations between Algeria, Egypt, and the Sudan after the final play-in game was played. But in recent years, Ghana has taken a hold of my attention deficit heart as a homeland for bizarreness. Between psychedelic fuzz funk music or strange drug-induced tribal religions or the best rap music made by actual Africans, it all comes from Ghana. Nigeria is a more well-known commodity internationally, what with its movie industry and oil exports and large population. But just to the left on the map is Ghana, a poorer and crazier version of the exact same thing, pretty much, although Nigerians would probably mock them for their Ibo ways (or something like that, I used to read an African rap music downloading message board and they had the strangest slurs for each other that I started to incorporate in my everyday life, but even I didn’t understand them). Ghana was the first independent African nation, hence the solitary black star on their African colored flag. But beyond that, they play full speed, for 90 minutes, relentlessly. They drew a tough draw in Group D, where they’re the lowest ranked team, although Australia and Serbia are questionable. But Germany is the easy favorite, and the scrappy speed-happy African Black Stars playing in the motherland against the ominous German team from the country that invaded the motherland 60 years ago, that’s gonna be great. Luckily, the gamemakers made that match-up part of the last cycle in this group, so hopefully both Ghana and Germany smoke the Serbs and the Aussies and have a super showdown to wrap up Group D’s first round.

#3: MEXICO (ranked 17th in the World, 65 to 1 to win it all) - Mexicans are some of the finest, most hard-working, honest, drunken, and crazy people I’ve ever known, even though I’ve probably known more of them than most other types of foreign peoples being two-thirds of all Mexicans live here. America is a funny place like that. There are more Puerto Ricans and Filipinos and Samoans and so on here than there are left at the actual place of nationality. Probably why Team USA FTWs don’t have so many folks pulling for them because everybody’s pulling for somebody else here. Being I like Mexicans, and first learned of World Cup’s greatness by working with two such dudes, who were hermanos, named Javier and Chino, I have always fondly rooted for Mexico. I feel an allegiance to Mexicans because much like them, I am hard-working, will do things I probably am not properly trained for without question, prone to violence, and love women with large asses and big for-real breasts. Mexico got a good draw by being in Group A, with host country South Africa, who should probably suck. They also drew France, who is the most evil, vile, despicable bunch of assholes to ever play soccer. Their star in the last World Cup stabbed another player with his baldhead and was not called a Foul on it (sometimes I like to write like I translated myself through Babelfish), and they got in this time by screwing over the poor, drunken Irish with an obvious handball that almost triggered a war. Not really, but if Europeans were half as passionate as Africans (as in Egypt, who had riots after it didn’t beat Algeria to get in), it would’ve. So Mexico, I fully with you on this ride, and when they play your national anthem, I will hold my hand sideways across my chest and chop at myself too like I am part of some alien army on Battlestar Galactica just like you guys.

#4: ARGENTINA (ranked 8th in the World, 9 to 1 to win it all) - I don’t normally support soccer’s great powers, but Argentina is coached by the utterly demented former cokehead and national hero Diego Maradona, which adds an amazing aura of unpredictability to their whole experience. They actually struggled early on in South American qualifying stages, but pulled it together to get in and try to win another Cup title in another rare moment of international glory for this nation. Plus, their tarheel blue and white striped jerseys are pretty pimp. But really, at first, a normal guy like me is all like, “Soccer is boring.” But then you realize that it’s not boring and full of lots of weird fuckers, yet they’re still kind of boring in their weirdness. Like Beckham. They’re weird in a friends-with-Tyra-Banks-and-is-a-judge-on-America’s-Next-Top-Model type weird. But Diego Maradona is the real deal wacky crazy type. He might shoot somebody in Africa, or call the Nigerian team a bunch of changos, or just get all gacked up and disappear the night before a game but show up and rally his team to victory by tying. Pure soccer.

#5: THE NETHERLANDS (ranked 3rd in the World, 12 to 1 to win it all) - The Orange will be waving high in South Africa next summer, as The Dutch team is ranked higher by FIFA right now than ever before. Basically, I like them because they wear orange. Most Euro teams have stupid uniform color combos, so some way northern Euro team busting out the bright orange, and being successful about it, I want to support that. The Dutch are the team to beat in Group E, and should be able to coast into the second round.

#6: NORTH KOREA (ranked 86th in the World, 2000 to 1 to win it all) - The longest longshot in the tournament are these zany North Koreans, and they drew themselves into Group G, generally regarded as the Group of Death for 2010, where everybody is awesome except North Korea. For me, I just like rooting for crazy things to prove the world wrong completely. Like Charles Manson, I hope he miraculously outlives his prison sentence and at like age 186 they have to make up reasons to keep him in jail or release him. North Korea, with Kim Jong Il in charge, are run by a nut, but he’s an artistic nut. If it was the World Cup of alternative filmmaking, he’d put some power behind it. But being it’s actual athletics, I bet he won’t even let his own country watch the games because the North Korean team will get blown out, in all likelihood, by Brazil, Portugal, and Ivory Coast, in that order. But North Korea did shock the world by beating Italy in 1966. So there is a precedent there. And I’m rooting for it again, although hopefully against one of the browner teams and not the black one.

#7: ALGERIA (ranked 26th in the World, 300 to 1 to win it all) - Algeria places so highly on my personal rooting list for this World Cup because of two things. First, they beat Egypt and caused international tensions to get in. That’s what makes World Cup soccer so great. Secondly, they are in America’s group, so if the Algerians can whoop up on Slovenia and upset England, it fares better for my beloved FTWs. So I am rooting for Algeria, in that lining up of allies and enemies sort of way that you have to learn to root for your favorite team when they’re not quite good enough to do it on their own, like you have to do with team sports.

#8: NEW ZEALAND (ranked 82nd in the World, 1000 to 1 to win it all) - The second longest shot to win the World Cup, New Zealand’s team nickname is the All Whites, which is kinda funny to me being they’ll be playing in South Africa. Still, in Group F, I don’t like Italy, mostly because I don’t like Italians (well not all Italians but many I’ve dealt with are far too unreasonable and crazy, although I guess they paint that with the more liberal term “passionate”), and I am indifferent about Slovakia and Paraguay. Slovakia I know only as one of the crazy eastern European countries that came about upon the disintegration of non-Soviet Union states. I only like those countries when they have a presence in strange arenas like sumo wrestling or underground international cockfighting. I never heard Raekwon rap about “Slovakians” although I never stole the new Cuban Linx from the internet either, so he might have. And Paraguay is the -guay country with the non-awesome flag, because I know Uruguay has the mellow stripey flag with the big ass sunshine on it that you could draw a smiley face all over and get high to. So mostly be default, I am going to be rooting for New Zealand in their group, and because they are giant underdogs, it makes me hope they somehow sneak their way into the second round. Probably not a strong chance of that though when they’re star player is a former MLS guy who’s not even good enough for that league anymore.

#9: PORTUGAL (ranked 5th in the World, 25 to 1 to win it all) - Even though I’m kinda rooting for North Korea in the Group of Death, if I had to pick a team that actually stood a chance, I’m gonna be going with Portugal. They’re one of the few European teams I enjoyed in 2002, and their green uniforms are aesthetically pleasing. And Spain is considered the best team in the World right now, so little old Portugal is once again getting overshadowed by its stupid Spaniard neighbors.

#10: NIGERIA (ranked 22nd in the World, 100 to 1 to win it all) - Now the Super Eagles of Nigeria are fucking high speed soccer exemplified. Last World Cup time, they were the most highly-touted team from the African continent, but not so much this time with Ghana, the Ivory Coast, and Cameroon all having better regarded teams. Still, in Group B, where you kinda have to assume South Korea is doomed to go 0 for 3 in the first round, all the Super Eagles really have to play for is a win over either Greece or Argentina to sneak into the second round on their home continent and take their chances with hyperspeed style in elimination play. The Argentina vs. Nigeria game is on the actual second day of the World Cup (June 12th), but I’m considering that my own personal kick-off to the festivities. Perhaps we will make a homeschoolin’ lesson of it and fix Nigerian and Argentinian foods and learn about the rich history of email scams before game time with the kids.

#11: IVORY COAST (ranked 16th in the World, 25 to 1 to win it all) - Yet another Group of Death aka Group G team I am partially rooting for, meaning I’m pretty much rooting for anybody playing there, kinda like how I watch the NBA playoffs. The Elephants of the Ivory Coast are considered the best team coming from the African continent, and were expected to be the best threat to go deep in the tournament, but then they got drawn into a first round group with international destructors Brazil and Portugal. Still, home continent advantage will play a role, and Ivory Coast is a proud country, one that tried to go to war with France a few years back with an air force that consisted of like 14 planes. Seriously. That kind of relentless pride may not help much in the war department, where financial backing goes a long way, but on the relatively even playing field of the soccer pitch (haha, I told myself I was gonna use that word one time), it can take them far. Not really, just around South Africa, but still, you know what I be meaning.

#12: URUGUAY (ranked 20th in the World, 80 to 1 to win it all) - Aforementioned smiley sunshine happy flag land from South America, and lopped into the Group A with South Africa and France, two of the teams I’ll be rooting the hardest against. So again, team sports politics makes Uruguay a personal favorite, at least through the first round.

#13: SLOVAKIA (ranked 33rd in the World, 200 to 1 to win it all) - Well, I did want to pull for at least one eastern European team that doesn’t exist on my World Map from 1992, so it was either Slovakia, Slovenia, or Serbia. Slovenia is in America’s group, and honestly I don’t even know what Slovenia is (which actually works for them in my warped mind), so they’re out. And to be honest, Serbians freak me out. Like Germans are machine people who relentlessly perform obsessive tasks, and thus can create things like Benzes and Volkswagens and Kraftwerk and scat porns. Well, Serbians are kinda like that, but they’re a broken machine people, so they’re success is not so great. Yet they keep relentlessly moving along whatever path they think they’re supposed to be on. It disturbs me. So by default, Slovakia becomes my strange eastern European team to love in 2010 and pretend they are a sauerkrauet eating people, except most likely I’ll make kimchi instead anyways. Slovakia is also in Group F, which gives me a (barely) more realistic chance of rooting for someone who advances to the second round than shitty New Zealand.

#14: HONDURAS (ranked 37th in the World, 500 to 1 to win it all) - I don’t care that much about Honduras or Hondurans, although I hope they love pupusas as much as Salvadorans and myself do. But really, there’s nobody else I wanted to pull for Group H, as Spain and Switzerland are boring, and Chile is the redheaded stepchild of South American soccer behind Argentina and Brazil. So I’m kinda just rooting for Honduras to have somebody to pull for if I happen to be watching a game from that group, to make it more interesting. I guess gambling would make it more interesting too. That always ends well.


the most felonious vocalist in the wide world of showbusiness said...

You are a fucking nut.

Unknown said...

Yeah, I completely hear you...World cup soccer (and other international tournaments)completely rock! Sports is about intensity, and with the World Cup there is plenty of that! MLS completely sucks, and I have no idea what it would take to turn it around (other than Making American Football illegal, but of course then we would just be into ultimate fighting). Anyways, I hear the local NC sports shows talk about soccer, and many people are at a point that they really like it (or think they could), but just don't want to admit it it with enthusiasm for fear they may be ranked a little lower on the man scale or something...know what I mean? Well, I will admit it..I love that damn sport!