Into the first week of the World Cup I have been quite lucky so far and managed to catch a number of the games, including England's win over Paraguay, although I had to watch half of it in Spanish!!
I thought the build-up to the World Cup over here was bad enough, but listening to the commentary is even worse. During the first England game, I was forced to listen to such quotes as 'Crouch rises, like a skyscraper on the Manhattan skyline' and ' He's bending it like Beckham baby'. American coverage also likes to produce the most useless World Cup facts possible that even John Motson would stay well clear of. Such gems so far have been England’s win being the first time a team has ever won 1-0 with an own goal (and also the longest a team has held on to a 1-0 win), and the first time Spain had won an opening game 4-0!! It's ridiculous!!
If I hear another mention of how unlucky Team USA was, I will be opening a can of whoop ass on someone that’s for sure!! The main culprit for all of these comments is an ex 'soccer' professional by the name of Eric Wynalda. When he adds into his commentary the phrase ''The ball is bending like a Tim Wakefield knuckle-ball' (Tim Wakefield is a professional baseball player!!) then he deserves all of the criticism being thrown at him!! American commentary is definitely a lot different what I am use to listening to in England.
Other than World Cup viewing, I have also had the pleasure of pilgrimages to the graves of two of the most influential and well known figures that have ever graced this world. Well, I might be exaggerating slightly!! First off was a trip to the grave of KFC founder and creator of the finger licking good chicken recipe, the legend that is Colonel Sanders. Obviously his grave must be a Mecca for many a KFC addict as they have even drawn a yellow line on the road from the main entrance so everyone can find their way to it!! Earlier in my trip I turned down the chance of visiting the first ever KFC restaurant, so it’s quite worrying to have stooped to these levels!!
This wasn't the only legend's grave I visited this week. I also made the emotional trip to the grave and home of the King himself, Elvis 'the pelvis' Pressley, which I visited during a road trip down to Tennessee. Graceland has become a shrine to Elvis fans from throughout the world, but to me it was a little too much of a tourist trap. Not as much of the freak show that I was expecting though!! The trip to Memphis, Tennessee was a nice 6 hour drive, arriving in sweltering humidity almost touching 100 degrees (38 degrees Celsius). The only highlight was passing the numerous road kill armadillo's and turtle's that littered the highway.
Any chance of having a one to one with the king himself were truly shattered, as I was followed around for the majority of the tour by a pair of lovers whose combined weight must have been close to 600lbs!! The woman was crying and sniffling throughout the tour and the guy decided to sing Elvis songs to try and cheer her up. It's not often you hear a voice that’s worse than mine!! The only rest bite I received was when they decided to find comfort in each other by sucking each others face off. The sounds made were truly revolting and I am sure will haunt me for many years to come!! Luckily, these were the only people I saw crying, even at Elvis's grave!!
While in Memphis a trip was also taken to the birthplace of rock and roll, Sun Studios, where the legends of Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Roy Orbison to name but a few were all discovered. It was a strange feeling knowing that you had been standing in the same spot as some of these legends, in the recording studio. Unfortunately my trip was slightly ruined by the most annoying English family of tourists, all dressed in matching wife beater sleeveless t-shirts, I have ever encountered. I have not come across a more arrogant, obnoxious and pretentious group of people during my whole time in America!! Hopefully with Memphis being one of the most dangerous cities in America, someone will have taught them to be a little more considerate and polite in a foreign country before they leave!!
As well as taking in the home of rock and roll, we also took a stroll down Beale Street, the home of the Blues, where legends such as BB King grew up. This street featured enough blues music and home southern cooking to make any man obese! I had my first taste of alligator, although as expected it tasted just like chicken!! As per any place you go in the world today, Beale Street was lined full of fake Irish Pubs, which kind of took the shine off the history that this street has to offer.
After seeing the main sites in Memphis, we traveled onto Nashville, the home of country music. Nashville felt much safer than Memphis, which had the feeling you were going to get shot or car-jacked at any moment! Although Memphis was a bit of a hell-hole, Nashville definitely won on the number of homeless people. I though Stoke-on-Trent was bad, but this city is crawling with them, all walking around with wooden guitar braking into song at any given opportunity in the hope of getting a few cents to pay for their next beer or sniff of glue. They were so bad that I think I would have actually preferred the traditional begging style!! While in Nashville I made a trip to a karaoke bar hoping to relive the singing memories during my previous trip to America. As soon as we walked in though I knew my singing voice would not be heard in public. I have never known a karaoke like it; everyone was amazing, obviously getting some practice in while seeking fame and fortune as a country singer. It did cross my mind whether to do 'First of the Gang to Die' by Morrissey for old times sake, but it definitely wouldn’t have gone down well at all!!
That’s about all this week. I also saw another baseball game in Louisville, the home of the world's finest baseball bat - The Louisville Slugger. The idea if tipping at baseball is still something that bewilders me, especially when in England I would consider it thieving. This time when buying a drink, I handed over $3 for a $2.50 bottle of water and as soon as I handed the money over the girl shouted out 'we have our first tip of the day girls', and the whole staff started cheering and clapping. Obviously after this, I wasn't really in any position to ask for my money back, especially after the girl thanked me as it was going towards some new sporting equipment at her school. Stingy as I am, it would still have been nice to give the tip instead of having it taken from me!!
My mood was lightened a little a few moments later when the opposing team hit a home run. As virtually none of the crowd ever seem to pay attention during a baseball game no one saw the ball coming until it was too late. One woman ducked out of the way at the last moment, tripping and falling down the stairs, covering herself in the food she had just bought. The ball then dropped down right next to where she had been standing, and straight into a guy holding a freshly poured pint, which exploded all over him. Very amusing, although people looked at me in disgust when I started laughing!!
Next week I have to embark on another road trip, this time a 10-hour drive to Washington DC to try and get my visa for Ecuador. Hopefully I won’t have any trouble!!