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Rooting for the prescient octopus and then some

You can go back to your old sleeping habits now. Spain has won its first World Cup, just as Paul the (German) octopus has predicted. You who are suddenly soccer, er, football crazy fans can rest easy now, as the next World Cup is in 2014!

I wasn’t really interested in football until Germany and Spain made it to the semi-finals. Spain used to be close to my heart—and not because I’m a faithful colonial, but because I once used to hold one of her subjects close to my heart.

So, I rooted for Germany to beat the crap out of Spain. True story.

But then the German octopus came into the picture and changed how I viewed the entire thing. Pretty soon, I was rooting for the octopus to be right—even if he predicted twice, and correctly, that Spain would win.

But who is Paul the octopus? And how did he get to be famous all over the world all of a sudden?

Paul is a two-year-old octopus living in a tank at a Sea Life Center in Germany. He was born in captivity in England. His name was taken from a children’s poem. He has two jobs: one, as live exhibit; second, as a football psychic.

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In the Euro 2008 games, he was able to predict most of Germany’s wins (he was only wrong twice, one of them being a match between Germany and Spain, thus giving the Germans hope that the Germany-Spain combo was his prediction waterloo).

In the 2010 World Cup, Paul bravely predicted Germany’s wins and its semi-finals loss to Spain. The latter earned him death threats, by grill or by sushi, prompting even Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero to offer him protection.

News reports say some 30,000 euros was raised in Spain to bring him over when he predicted that Spain would win over The Netherlands. Of course, the guys over at the Sea Life Center said no.

I’d agree. After all, Paul was eight for eight in his World Cup predictions. He’s certainly worth more than 30,000 euros.

In fact, he’s an international celebrity now. Italy is supposedly claiming that he was caught in their waters.

Spanish businessmen are trying to buy him. Dutch priests have downplayed his predictions.

In the Philippines, he’s all over the social networks, with those who were rooting for Netherlands talking about calamari and those who were rooting for Spain singing him praises.

Me, I was just rooting for the octopus. God keep him alive longer. It’s bad enough he’s in a cage; now, he’s in the center of a circus.

I hope no psycho poisons him or something.

The Beautiful Players

It didn’t really stick that football would be filled with so much eye candy. Weird, because when I was in grade school and watching my brother play the game, I did notice that there were plenty of pretty boys involved in the game.

Still, I suppose it was the social media hype that really opened my eyes to one other reason to love football, apart from Paul the Octopus, even if, like me, you couldn’t really care enough to make sense of the game.

The soccer players are, in a word, hot.

I’ve been following Live Journal accounts chronicling the many ways to love football without loving the game. Let’s just say that now I understand in many ways why it’s dubbed “the beautiful game.”

My favorite collections so far include The Non-Football Fan’s Guide to the World Cup on Live Journal, which has a really great collection of the United Colors of Benetton of good-looking players according to groups plus some hilarious commentary.

For example: “From what I’ve seen of the South Korean NT in my in-depth Google image searches, I feel like they should all come out onto the pitch with perfect hair and sartorial choices that put the opposition to shame. I will be greatly disappointed if this does not happen. ONLY YOU CAN MAKE THE WORLD CUP FABULOUS, SOUTH KOREA. You and Yoann Gourcuff.”

On Spain’s Iker Casillas, goalkeeper and captain, the site says, “There’s a reason they call him San Iker.” Si. I don’t care if his surname is funny-sounding! And he weeps openly too!

And then there’s “Germans are Hot Too Sometimes,” also on LiveJournal. On Arne Friedrich: “Let us begin with the man whose truly epic levels of hotness, I feel, are disgracefully under-appreciated. The man whose tag I am still hoping will one day be changed to Arne ‘Intensely Sexual’ Friedrich. The man who looks like with his mere gaze he could read you sweet German poetry  whilst lovingly ravaging you in an idyllic valley under the mountains.”


See you in Brazil in 2014!

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