Comment Of The Day
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Monday, June 29, 1998

Life itself, and living it, is.

Well, there ya go. Soccer crazy, half of the world idles through July and August every year. Auto plants and stock market trading in Brazil are all but closed down. An orchestra in Thailand once stopped in mid-performance to watch the end of a match. Armies break the "lights out" rule to allow soldiers to watch these World Soccer matches underway. Millions watching late-night broadcasts in Asia are effecting the production lines everywhere. And all of these red-eyed, crazed expressions, yee-haaw, macho, leap-in-the-air-of-your-living-room stuff is over what? A bunch of guys kicking a ball around for an hour ending up with the score 0 to 0 or at best 1 to 0 (the highest score I've seen was 3 to 2; that's an average of a goal every 12 minutes of play, but it doesn't happen that way, of course). It's not exactly action-packed, from an American football fan's point of view. The ball floats through the air as though in slow-mo, then some little tiny guy comes on camera, moves next to the ball, and suddenly the ball is again airborne in the opposite direction. Sometimes the ball moves close enough to the goal (from as far away as half-field) and then the goal tender catches it and throws it out on the field for some more kicking and running in all directions. This goes on and on. Sometimes the ref calls a foul and the crowd goes crazy. But all in all it strikes acasual viewer that the half of the world that likes -- strike that -- LOVES soccer needs to find some more things to do in their lives. Baseball is more interesting by a factor of at least a hundred. Yesterday, after 112 minutes of scoreless, but nonetheless "terribly exciting," play, France scored a "sudden death" goal against Paraguay, causing seismic-level eruptions in the grandstands and worldwide. And, then, of course there are the soccer riots and deaths associated with this unexplainable fanaticism. All in all, I feel like a lot of non-football fans on Super Sunday (which is a totally different thing, obviously) just hoping that it will be over soon. There is, believe it or not, a soccer game on television right now. The score is 0 to 0 and the guys are kicking the ball around. What is the opposite of "must see TV"? Just Click-TV? Oh, no, I know, "Animal Planet." Where's is my TV Guide? Quick hand me the remote!

If you've ever been lucky enough to read "Sailing Around The World Alone," by Joshua Slocum, you know what a truly amazing and exciting (unlike soccer) adventure this really was. Starting in Fairhaven, Massachusetts and ending in Newport Rhode Island, Slocum and his hearty little craft, Spray, went to Spain, under South America, across the Pacific Ocean, around Cape Horn, back to Northern South America and on to Newport. 46,000 miles in a 36 foot, 9 inch vessel, basically hand-built by Slocum himself from a rotting sloop he was given and hoped to earn a living from by fishing the coast of New England.

But as it turned out he completed a voyage that has long lived in marine history and this week was reacted in Newport Harbor commerating the 100th anniversary of Slocum's quiet, yet truly triumphal, arrival in Newport Harbor on June 26, 1898. In a world of "Guinness World Records," Slocum's amazing voyage, and all of the hardships and tests of ingenuity that he survived and passed, including rebuilding the Spray along the way, stands tall among the finest human feats. If you have the time, read his book. (We have it book marked above at for you), and, if you don't have the time... make the time. You will be richly rewarded with the reading of this ship's log written by Slocum himself. Hey, soccer is NOT the most exciting thing on the planet. Neither is football. Not by a long, long, boring shot. Life itself, and living it, is. See you next time.