New Year

New Year’s Eve is, to me, not a great holiday. I love Christmas, but the night before January 1st…not so much. A good night to stay in with my spouse, drink a little sparkly something and enjoy not being at a party or on the road. That said, I enjoy the sappy NYE scene in When Harry Met Sally. Actually, I enjoy all of WHMS. I remember when I first saw it: I was living in Paris, studying and working, and I went out with my roommates to see it. I just loved it. I think I needed it at the time. Yes, I know Billy Crystal is way too old to play Harry, and yes, I know it’s a Woody Allen knock-off, but both of those things are small quibbles, in my view. Get over yourselves, film students, and enjoy this happy ending:

Allez les Bleus

There is something profoundly wrong with a World Cup where Canada qualified and Italy didn’t. Still, I have been watching the matches. There are many ways to enjoy the World Cup, even if – like me – you are neither a sports nor a soccer fan. One of my favourites has always been by making World War II jokes. With Germany and Japan eliminated and Italy not present, that’s a bit of a tougher call, though as I write this, we still have France and Argentina (surrenderers and the refuge of the wicked, respectively). Of course, the young and the woke might prefer to divide the countries between the colonizers and the colonized, the gender fluid and the gender rigid, the good and the bad. (And they likely would not agree with me about which countries fall under the “good” label.)

A propos, our little armbands are not going to change any hearts, minds, or objectionable regimes, in Qatar or elsewhere. What will make a difference is the true courage of the Iranian team refusing to sing their anthem. (Yes, they did sing later in the tournament, but one can be certain this was done under duress.) Or people in China watching on television and noticing stands full of unmasked fans and crowds of people from around the world not barricaded into their apartments. Or the absolute graciousness of the American team captain (see previous post) and the magnanimity of the U.S. team in a moment that could have been a blustery display of political posturing – the victory over the Iranian team.

(Of course, the cultural differences between countries that respect the rights of the individual – the basis of liberalism – and those that don’t is tremendous. But there is also a wide gulf in a more superficial area: fashion. I can’t help but notice that soccer coaches, particularly those from Europe, are all dressed like they came off the Armani runway. Whereas North American coaches are basically a notch above Fetterman.)

While I was happy to see Morocco do well – I was hoping for an African or Asian team to go far – I am pleased France is in the final. I lived in France and continue to visit there when possible. So I’m rooting for them in Sunday’s match, but unlike some fans, I will survive if Argentina wins. Seriously, a South American friend of mine was telling me that Brazil’s loss to Croatia might have caused suicides – soccer in Latin America is that important. Sheesh. So if France wins, please, Argentina supporters, keep it in perspective.

Tyler Adams

This young guy is quite impressive: watch as this reporter from Iranian state media tries to play “gotcha” with him. He responds beautifully – he has massive emotional intelligence. And just plain intelligence, from what I can see. The U.S. is out of the World Cup, as is Canada – so I am currently rooting for England – but so far, this is one of my favourite stories from the event.