30 June 2008

Spain wins, I lose (EURO 2008)

Last night Spain were deserving winners of the EURO 2008 tournament. Theys howed up to play in the final. Germany did not.

I guess it was a good game, but I was too disappointed by my own mismanagement of my fantasy team to really revel in the joy of the Spaniards. Don't get me wrong, I was happy for them, but I was dearly unhappy I squandered my bragging rights by playing fast and loose with my fantasy team. I also had banked on Germany at least participating in the game, as opposed to getting played off the pitch by a tactically superior and hungrier Spanish side.

So it goes.

Anyway, a great tournament, for a few reasons:

- Lots of goals

- Perennial underachievers Spain won. Finally. After so many tournament just-misses, bitter recriminations and hand-wringing they can soak soak soak up some glory.

- After a weak performance to follow up their weak qualifying campaign Italy shitcanned the useless Roberto Donadoni and replaced him with the masterful Marcello Lippi behind the bench. I read a quote shortly after Italy bounced out in which he said "Forse, hanno bisogno ancora di me," which loosely means "maybe they still need me." This would be hubris of the first degree if it weren't so patently obvious that they do. Need him. Also Totti and Nesta may come back now that they've sacked Donadoni.

- Andrei Arshavin is an awesome football player, and now we all know.

- Turkey. The team made it to the semi's having led for only 4 minutes all tournament (!) How'd they manage that? Last-gasp comeback after last-gasp comeback. In fact, against Germany they were finally hoist by their own petard when Germany sealed passage to the final via an injury time Philip Lahm strike. Overall, every game Turkey played in had an astonishing finish.

Bad things about EURO 2008

- I came in third in my fantasy league. : (


27 June 2008

Spain in the Final (EURO 2008)

Whoo boy!

Last night, tournament top scorer, Spain striker David Villa was subbed off in the 37th minute. Bad news for Spain right? Nope. Midfielder Cesc Fabregas came on and the whole damn Spanish crew unlocked gazoodles of space and ripped open Russia for 3 goals. The final two were assisted on directly by Mr Pocket Dynamo Fabregas.

I watched the game on Italian TV as usual and towards the end of the game the commentator basically lost his shit and just started crowing about the Spanish passing game "look at them pass! Back and forth, back and forth! So fluid, creating so much space!!"

And indeed, that's what happened. Russia, a team that made some others look very ordinary (Hello, Holland!) were themselves made to look pretty mdeiocre last night. A Spanish side gifted with an embarrassment of quality and a fluid, attacking game, will go on to face a likewise talented Germany.

The big winner is us: the fans. I think this could be a very good final indeed.


26 June 2008

Germany in the Finals (EURO 2008)

Germany went through, as expected. What was unexpected was how thrilling the finish was, and how well Turkey recommended themselves. Stealing a page from the Turkish playbook, defender Philip LLahm scored in the 90th minute to book Germany passage to the finals.

It was an exciting game (when the Italian transmission wasn't fucked up). I expect more run and gun tonight.

And I think Russia may have the self-belief to take them through, though it'd be foolish to discount Spain. We'll see.


25 June 2008

Football Street Goals

This guy can lay the perfect cross right into that sweet spot next to the fridge in your hot dog stand. Or garbage can. Watch and enjoy.

I'm thunderstruck

See more funny videos at CollegeHumor

UPDATE: His name is Remi Gaillard and kottke.org has links to a bunch more videos he has done.


23 June 2008

Read at work

Thanks Very Short List! For the link to readatwork, a NZ based website that has posted classics, short stories, and poetry into handy 'powerpont' presentations, so you can read them at work, unfettered by worry about being caught slacking. Visit the site - thanks NZ Book Council! Classics for our modern age.


Divorced man puts expat life for sale

Ian Usher, a 44 year old Yorkshireman, who lives in Perth Australia, has put his life up on eBay. After the painful breakup with his wife he is selling his house, his job as a rug store assistant (on a trial basis) and his friends (who have all agreed to be introduced to the successful bidder).

Usher plans on walking out his front door with just the clothes on his back - and his wallet in one pocket, passport in the other. Then he'll head to the airport to grab a ticket for the next plane the fuck out of Heartbreakville.

According to AFP "Usher said the value of the physical assets for sale -- including his three-bedroom Perth home, 19-year-old Mazda 929 sedan, a 1986 motorbike and a jetski -- was just 450,000 to 500,000 dollars." That was what he was hoping for - half a million dollars.

Instead the offers are now up around a retarded 2.2 million!!!

That's awesome for this guy - way to make a clean break, when one door closes another opens, etc. etc. but the real question this all begs is: how the fuck does a rug store assistant get a jet-ski, motorbike, and half a million dollar home? It just seems pretty obscenely awesome, and slightly discordant to me. But anyway, good luck to him.


EURO 2008- WTF!? (1/4 Finals)

EURO 2008- WTF!? (1/4 Finals)
So shit went crazy in these quarterfinals, resulting in two semi-final matchups few would've predicted

Germany vs Turkey

Russia vs Spain

Germany beat Portugal soundly which was only a little surprising. Turkey stole the game, fair and square, from Croatia. OK, fine. Two surprises (one mild, one mildly spicy), that's enough unexpected excitement for one round... but wait!!

Russia beat The Netherlands 3-1 after extra time. Not only that, they made the high-flying heavily favorited Dutch look bad. The Oranje lacked the attacking rhythm and constant pressure that made them so dangerous (and fun to watch) in the Group Stage. The attacking midfield combos couldn't combine, couldn't click, and Ruudy just lumbered around upfront without much ambition or effect.

I underestimated Russia in this game because I really only watched their final Group Game against Sweden . In that game they looked good, but mostly Sweden looked bad. I mistakenly thought that was Sweden's fault. But as it turns out, the Russians can make even the most high-flying offense look feckless. Spain beware - this is not the team you thrashed 4-1 in the opener.

And speaking of Spain, they beat Italy in what was a long and boring game that culminated in disappointment. Not the best way to spend a Sunday night. Spain deserved to win. The goalspree I was hoping for was, not unexpectedly, nowhere to be seen. As much as I wanted Italy to win, this result was merited.

Italy was mediocre in the 120 minutes on the field and failed in the penalty shoot-out. The bright spot being that Torres and Villa didn't score much credit due to Chiellini, who should be assured of his spot as half the national team central defence for some time to come. Antonio Cassano played well again, though he didn't create any goals. Italy just could not penetrate.

The sad thing is that my man, AS Roma midfielder Daniele De Rossi, a world-beater on the pitch, set the stage for penalty shoot-out disaster with a just-decent PK that was unable to beat a world-class keeper. That put Italy in the hole.

Di Natale finished Italy off with an excruciatingly weak effort that was easily parried by Casillas, sending the Spanish through to see if they can defy the Russian juggernaut.

Germany, for their part, should easily dispatch an overachieving Turkish team who, through injury or suspension, will be without five starters. Five!

My predictions, as useless and inaccurate as they are, will be upcoming.


20 June 2008

Housing market

Chiara and I would like to buy a cheap house in a run-down neighborhood and make it into an awesome home. We will draw on our immense store of DIY fixer-upper knowledge and endless patience to make a beautiful, thoughtful and unique (and spacious!) home.

As the property value appreciates, and our garden blooms, and great restaurants, bars, and art galleries flock to our neighborhood we will toast our good fortune, hard work, and shrewd planning.


Germany knocks out Portugal

So my prediction for last night's match was incorrect. I got the winner and the scoreline pretty wrong.

Except Nuno Gomes scored! So I'm going to count that first prediction as 'moderately successful'.

Germany showed why they were the pre-tournament favorites. Portugal showed that they lack some depth and finish and ideas. Crissy Ron Ron played pretty well, Deco played awesome, but some defensive lapses cost them in the end. I'm not that sad - Germany was great to watch.

Bastian Schweinsteiger was a man on a mission pumping in a goal and setting up 2 others.

Croatia or Turkey have much to fear - although Croatia beat Germany last round, and Turkey upset the favored Czechs... so the semi-final may not be a walk for the Germans.

However, given their poise, strike rate and confidence from last night, I wouldn't bet against them.


19 June 2008

Famous Philanthropist Blogger

Blogger Ryan Millar wrote a very subjective and useful article on French Classes in Brussels. These turned out to be of great assistance to a fellow expat Canadian whom we shall call 'Brenda'.

Brenda surprised the author by introducing herself to him at graduation cermeonies at their language school. She proceeded to speak to him in excited and pretty darn good French. Embarrassingly she was waaay better at French than him, despite (officially) being two levels below him. It was the first time that the blogger had ever been recognized on the strength of his blogging. Not to mention his thrilling journalistic exposé (that's a french word!!) of language schools in Brussels. There you go, internet.


Quarterfinals Preview (EURO 2008)


I didn't predict any of the upsets: not Croatia over Germany, nor the stunning Turkey win over Czechs, nor Russia, nor The Netherlands being so radtastic, but other than that I did alright.

Actually fuck that: I just calculated: I picked 5 of the 8 teams who advanced: not much better than one could have done by chance or trained monkey:

With that track record there's only one thing to do:

I'm going to pick the teams and the scorelines and goal-getters for the Quarterfinals. Now that you know I know what I'm talking about you're going to want to follow very closely my masterpunditry.


Portugal vs. Germany

Winner: Portugal
Score: 2-1
Goals: Nuno Gomes, Lahm, Carvalho,

Two early favorites go to the Thunderdome to settle their post-apocalyptic differences: only one will advance. That team: Portugal. Portugal's second string lost to Switzerland, which I thought was a nice way to repay their hosts. They deserve to advance on the basis of their very good guest manners.

Actually that momentum screech may be the one thing they're fighting (besides Germany). Germany has looked pretty good, but not great and unless their highly-touted but invisible-thus-far Gomez shows up with some magic they might just find themselves overpowered by Crissy Ron Ron and the Portuguese attack. Also: their coach will be watching from the stands after he was banished last game, and UEFA has decided to carry over that banishment for another game.

Croatia vs. Turkey
Winner: Turkey
Score: 1-0
Goal: Nihat Kahveci

I'm going to pick an upset this round so if it comes true I can look prescient, and if it doesn't people will be so busy thinking about the semis they won't even care.

After Turkey's madcap thriller over the Czech's I'm willing to bet they could throw another surprise party. Croatia has been quietly powerful and dominant all tournament but Turkey is riding a high. I'm backing raw emotion and another last minute improbable comeback. Hey Turkey: go put that lightning back in that bottle!!

Holland vs Russia
Winner: Holland
Score: 3-1
Goals: Van Persie, Kuyt, Arshavin, Sneijder

This game will be rad. Holland is the fastest, smartest, most in-form team of the tournament and should easily overpower Russia easily. Easily. However, the impressive performance the Russkies put in against the Swedes last night leads me to think that we'll be in for a game full of crisp passes and creative counter-attacks, from both sides. I'm going to predict a goal in the first 10 minutes, then a see-saw battle, with Holland capitalizing again before the break, then they'll swap goals on the hour mark. Why am I getting so specific, you ask? Because I gotta feeling - a gutfeeling.

Spain vs Italy
Winner: Italy
Score: 3-2
Goals: Villa, Panucci, Iniesta, Toni, De Rossi

I'm predicting a goal fest that I don't really think is coming, but would really really like to see. The David Villa Finishing School for Footballers (DVFSF) has had an impressive recruitment campaign, with a few teams (particularly Russia) feeling pretty hazed by the proceedings. The Spanish attack has been dominating and the defence untroubled. Iniesta and Silva have looked particularly adept at feeding balls through to El Nino and The Headmaster.

However, the new alignment of Italian defence (Panucci and Chiellini flanked by Grosso and Zambrotta) has pace and poise enough to soak up most of the pressure. Not to mention De Rossi patrolling the midfield closing down space. The suspension of Pirlo and Gattuso is troubling on paper, however I think Italy has enough midfield depth to compensate. Expect to see Ambrosini and Camoranesi join De Rossi and Perrotta in midfield. Although if we're lucky Ambrosini will sit on the bench and Aquilani will come on and show everybody how much awesome he has. If Ambrosini does play, hopefully he doesn't suck. Also: let's hope Luca Toni watches and learns from David Villa; after being the Bundesliga top scorer this season it's surprising that he has seemed to be unable to locate the oppositions goal- it's there Luca!! Right in front of you. Put the ball between the the tall white things!!!

Anyway, I think he will. He'll break the monkey on the ducks back (or whatever) and Italy will continue to improve. Spain will continue to crap out too early in major tournaments and thus spend all summer wringing their hands and eating tapas in the sunshine.*

*If Spain was playing anybody other than Italy I'd will them through, but alas, it's Forza Italia!


18 June 2008

Italy Advances (EURO 2008)

So Italy advanced last night after beating 10 man France by a score of 2-0.
Daniele De Rossi was Man of the Match.

He's awesome.

But Italy? Meh. They looked alright, but considering France lost their best player in Franck Ribery in the 10th minute, and had used up 2 of their subs and were down a man by the half hour mark, you'd have thought Italy could've been more convincing. Especially in the last half hour: put out some fresh legs and use all that open space to fill Coupets net with balls.

Not so much.

As it was they were pretty good, hopefully continuing their history of picking up steam, confidence, and form as a tournament advances (see World Cup 2006).

Something important that needs to happen if they want to advance:

Luca Toni needs to start hitting the target. His strike rate has been frankly underwhelming, (the phrase 'couldn't hit the broad side of a barn' comes to mind) but he's been getting chances, so it could just be a matter of time.

The Dutch are another story entirely. Still awesome. Have been since Game 1.

Their second string (which admittedly included deadly awesome first stringers Van Persie, Robben and Huntelaar) beat up on Romania 2-0. They go into the Quarterfinals with a 3-0 record and a combined scoreline of 9-1. The trophy is theirs to lose.

It was a good thing the Orangies won. Because the Azurri needed that favorable result to advance.

Other notes:

Gattuso and Pirlo are out of the QF match due to an excess of yellow cards. who'll be in?

My guess: Ambrosini (*fingers crossed) As for the other? Who knows? My hope is for Aquilani or Fab Quags, but expect to see Camoranesi get the nod.

Ambrosini did something rad last night when he came on. Surprised? Me too. Pleasantly so.


16 June 2008

Holy Turkey!

Wow. The Czech Republic feels pretty crappy right about now. They were up 2-0 against Turkey late in the second half. Then Turkey made it 2-1 very late in the game. Then Petr Cech one of the world's best goalies made a clamoroso error and Turkey tied the game. So they were going to go to a shoot-out. Crazy.

Two minutes later Turkey scored again.

Final score 3-2 for Turkey. The last minute drama included a red-carding of the Turkish keeper, but that didn't really take away from the stunning tide-turning Chiara and I witnessed last night.

In other EURO 2008 news: Already-out Switzerland beat title-contenders Portugal in an irrelevant feel-good sidenote to the tournament.

Shocking last minute twist endings and heartwarming tales of plucky underdogs: thanks EURO 2008!


13 June 2008

Canada's Copyright Laws

Industry Minister Jim Prentice is putting into motion a copyright law that is bad news for just about everybody - based on the horrendous failure of a law the US introduced in 1997.

From Copyright for Canadians:

Canada’s DMCA?

Forward-thinking reform to copyright is possible: laws that recognise the growth and importance of the Internet, open source software, and new business models for creators. Canada could take the initiative, and lead the world.
Instead, new legislation proposed by this government is a sell-out to the United States’ government and media’s demands. C-61 includes wholesale import of the worst provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act — a law that the U.S. passed in 1997 and has been widely seen as a damaging failure. Instead of inviting a new era, the current government is intent on repeating all the mistakes of the last decade.

This is not be a copyright law for Canadians. It is a copyright law from entrenched U.S. lobbyists and politicians. Join us, and fight back!

Write a letter to say 'This law sucks.' It only takes a minute.


Jesus Christ, Dinosaur Rider

Thank you Photo Basement, for making my day.


EURO 2008 Italy vs Romania

Italy needs to win tonight (as does Romania, as does France. As do the Netherlands - who will be looking to continue their spectacular form against a talented but underperforming team of Les Bleus.)

But who cares about thos other guys? Not me.

For Italy tonight has everything on the line. Will they crash and burn? Or will they rise up to the challenge of their riii-vaal?

My guess, and hope, is for the latter.

If the reports in Italian sportsmedia are to be believed then there will be a number of (deseperately needed) changes in the Italian line-up. They basically consist of getting the shitty out-of-form players out of the XI and replacing them with fiercely talented and fierce Romanisti.

At least expect to see Marco Matterazzi and (hopefully) Barzagli out for Grosso, with Panucci moved into central defending duties with Chiellini. Zambrotta and Grosso will be playing wingbacks.

This should provide a solid central pairing, in which Old Man Panucci's lack of speed will be offset by great positioning and ball-winning ability. And there will be persistent counter-attacking anger on the flanks.

In the mid-field there will be changes, with Ambrosini taking his much deserved place on the bench, and De Rossi stepping in. Word. That guy is Leaky-D-B-Gone, and can distro attack balls and deliver long-range cannons as well.

Perrotta may also be in and Gattuso out. I'll miss Gattuso, but Perrotta will be everywhere at once.

Up front, Pirlo behind the attacking duo of Toni and Del Piero. I forget who the other mid-fielder will be: surprise me.

Viewed from every angle and taking into account the shifts Donadoni may feel inclined to make, this is still a team that will fuck you up.

I have deep confidence and high-hopes, but Romania will be no pushover, and if Italy does not win, they will take this embarrassment home far to early, and then be attacked by violent fans and media for the rest of the summer.

It's go-time.


11 June 2008

Skateboard shakedown

So... I got a new skateboard yesterday. Rad!

It's been literally years since I've gotten a new deck, since i've felt the crisp snap of a new wood beneath my feets. I rode it only as far as the office, but it felt mighty good.


The impeachment of Bush

Yesterday hot-bewived Congressman Dennis Kucinich laid out an extensive indictment of GW Bush - Worst President Ever. It's a motion to impeach the motherfucker. He brought it into the House of Representatives.

Here are the article titles:

Article I
Creating a Secret Propaganda Campaign to Manufacture a False Case for War Against Iraq

Article II
Falsely, Systematically, and with Criminal Intent Conflating the Attacks of September 11, 2001, With Misrepresentation of Iraq as a Security Threat as Part of Fraudulent Justification for a War of

Article III
Misleading the American People and Members of Congress to Believe Iraq Possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction, to Manufacture a False Case for War

Article IV
Misleading the American People and Members of Congress to Believe Iraq Posed an Imminent Threat to the United States

Article V
Illegally Misspending Funds to Secretly Begin a War of Aggression

Article VI
Invading Iraq in Violation of the Requirements of HJRes114

Article VII
Invading Iraq Absent a Declaration of War.

Article VIII
Invading Iraq, A Sovereign Nation, in Violation of the UN Charter

Article IX
Failing to Provide Troops With Body Armor and Vehicle Armor

Article X
Falsifying Accounts of US Troop Deaths and Injuries for Political Purposes

Article XI
Establishment of Permanent U.S. Military Bases in Iraq

Article XII
Initiating a War Against Iraq for Control of That Nation's Natural Resources

Article XIIII
Creating a Secret Task Force to Develop Energy and Military Policies With Respect to Iraq and Other Countries

Article XIV
Misprision of a Felony, Misuse and Exposure of Classified Information And Obstruction of Justice in the Matter of Valerie Plame Wilson, Clandestine Agent of the Central Intelligence Agency

Article XV
Providing Immunity from Prosecution for Criminal Contractors in Iraq

Article XVI
Reckless Misspending and Waste of U.S. Tax Dollars in Connection With Iraq and US Contractors

Article XVII
Illegal Detention: Detaining Indefinitely And Without Charge Persons Both U.S. Citizens and Foreign Captives

Article XVIII
Torture: Secretly Authorizing, and Encouraging the Use of Torture Against Captives in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Other Places, as a Matter of Official Policy

Article XIX
Rendition: Kidnapping People and Taking Them Against Their Will to "Black Sites" Located in Other Nations, Including Nations Known to Practice Torture

Article XX
Imprisoning Children

Article XXI
Misleading Congress and the American People About Threats from Iran, and Supporting Terrorist Organizations Within Iran, With the Goal of Overthrowing the Iranian Government

Article XXII
Creating Secret Laws

Article XXIII
Violation of the Posse Comitatus Act

Article XXIV
Spying on American Citizens, Without a Court-Ordered Warrant, in Violation of the Law and the Fourth Amendment

Article XXV
Directing Telecommunications Companies to Create an Illegal and Unconstitutional Database of the Private Telephone Numbers and Emails of American Citizens

Article XXVI
Announcing the Intent to Violate Laws with Signing Statements

Article XXVII
Failing to Comply with Congressional Subpoenas and Instructing Former Employees Not to Comply

Article XXVIII
Tampering with Free and Fair Elections, Corruption of the Administration of Justice

Article XXIX
Conspiracy to Violate the Voting Rights Act of 1965

Article XXX
Misleading Congress and the American People in an Attempt to Destroy Medicare

Article XXXI
Katrina: Failure to Plan for the Predicted Disaster of Hurricane Katrina, Failure to Respond to a Civil Emergency

Article XXXII
Misleading Congress and the American People, Systematically Undermining Efforts to Address Global Climate Change

Article XXXIII
Repeatedly Ignored and Failed to Respond to High Level Intelligence Warnings of Planned Terrorist Attacks in the US, Prior to 911.

Article XXXIV
Obstruction of the Investigation into the Attacks of September 11, 2001

Article XXXV
Endangering the Health of 911 First Responders

Yup, that seems to cover all the bases. It's unlikely to work, because unfortunately the world isn't fair and just.
But good on him, anyway; for being a man of conviction, and using that conviction to turn up the heat on Bush, and to get such a hot wife.

Link to the complete text is here.


10 June 2008

Italy crushed by incompetence (EURO 2008)

In truth Italy was crushed by a younger, smarter, much better managed and organized Dutch squad. 3-0.


That's pretty embarassing, for the reigning world champs. But the most embarassing thing is that prior to this tournament, the Italian football powers extended the contract of Italy manager Roberto Donadoni.

The guy is fucking retarded.

Why he chose to start, for example, the Gary Busey-ish Massimo Ambrosini instead of Daniele de Rossi (Serie A's best midfielder this season) is inexplicable. It beggars belief.

How the team universally renowned for their well-organized team-oriented defence could get ripped open for 3 goals is a mystery. One that can only be solved by looking at the 'mastermind' charged with organizing players and dictating tactics.

Remember this is a team that did not allow a single goal in open play the entire World Cup (not including the own goal).

The whole game they looked scrambly, confused and uncomfortable.
It was as if the guy who's supposed to be telling them where to go, what to do and how to counter the opposition is an incompetent fuck. Hmmm.


To be fair: the Oranje made them look worse than ordinary, and that's not just the fault of the manager or a single player...

Unless that player is Ambrosini.

What the fuck was he doing out there?!? And for an entire game (!) when Italy was lacking attacking midfield options and defensive support. Actually they don't lack those options; they were all on the bench.

Daniele de Rossi, Alberto Aquilani, Simone Perrotta. Two of these players were part of the World Champion team and the third was called by Gigi Buffon (Captain of the squad): 'destined to become the best midfielder in Europe'.

Why did they all sit on the bench while that lumbering oaf Ambrosini was allowed to be out of breath and ordinary out there?

Ask Donadoni, though I'm not convinced he's got the mental capacity to articulate a response.


- Since when is a defender collapsed off-field behind the net used as 'the last man back' in determining offside calls?

- Barzagli is no Cannavaro in central defence.

- Much as I hate Cassano, he provided some much needed creativity to the attack when he was brought on.

- del Piero's fountain of youth and nose for the net could see him on the field much earlier next time.

- Sneijder's goal was ninja-awesome.

- The Dutch could be a force to be reckoned with this time around. With the old cry-babies watching from home, and a well managed, quick and creative group of youngsters (and van der Sar) this could be serious go-time for the Oranje. What a difference having a tactician as manager can make.

A recap of the game is here.

An assessment of the situation is here.


09 June 2008

Lego restoration

Lego can do pretty much anything. Including the noteworthy awe(some)-inspiring reconstruction of dilapidated medieval buildings in Italy. Link


06 June 2008

A Non-Essential Preview of EURO 2008

Tournament starts tomorrow. Here's some things you may or may not want or need to know about what's going to happen. For in-depth, incisive or useful commentary, it might be best to look elsewhere, for random, biased, loosely researched, and potentially inaccurate commentary, keep reading.


Portugal: Oh look, it's the Cristian Ronaldo show. Though there's a few others (Nani, Quaresma) who could prove offensive threats while everyone (including Crissy Ron-Ron himself) is admiring pretty boys stepovers. Lots of attacking options and a strong defensive corps, they'll finish on top of the group.

Czech Republic: Thank God that diving whining shitbag Nedved isn't playing. I fucking hate that guy. The midfield they have is pretty hot, and their striker Koller is pretty tall. Though apparently strike partner Baros is out of form. They'll progress anyway.

Switzerland: I'm rooting for them to spring a surprise, but apparently they lack depth, and the coach's wife is in a coma. Not ideal conditions. Midfield dynamo Tranquillo Barnetta is apparently healthy, and striker Alex Frei has some skillz, but it may not be enough. Unless the crazy go-nuts Swiss superfans spur them to punch above their weight.

Turkey: I don't know that much about them, but they've got some domestic players who could bring the X-factor. Will make the games interesting, but they won't progress.


Germany: These guys are actually the punters choice, but I don't think they'll win it all. however, they'll definitely take this group. I'm banking on Mario Gomez to have a breakout tournament. Lahm gives them attacking options from the back, but I still can't see why everybody loves Ballack so much. Prove me something.

Croatia: Not a big fan of their jerseys, but they should progress.

Poland: Had a strong qualifying campaign, but, like Croatia, I can't pronounce any of their players names.

Austria: Good thing they qualified automatically.

(This group should be a bit of a walk for Germany and Croatia, but the off-field action of fans, though hopefully peaceful, could be the story here). And actually, Poland could challenge for second spot. They hate Germany; hopefully the action will all be on the pitch.


Italy: Has Daniele de Rossi and Aquilani in midfield. (Start Aquilani!) Loss of Cannavaro is a bummer, but the World Champs have depth and creativity. As long as coach Donadoni doesn't fuck it up. That guy is a fucking liability. Still, this team is still good.

France: Tonnes of depth, and Franck Ribery and the 'Benz could make a strong case for the young bloods. The Italy-France match could be explosively awesome.

Netherlands: So many options, so much talent, so unlikely to really impress as a collective.

Romania: Mutu and Chivu. Could pull a dark-horse surprise. But will fall to the Group of Death.


Spain: Perennial underachievers, but I have big hopes for them this year. Ramos, Villa, el Nino, and Fabregas: their youth are peaking at the right time. Could go deep.

Greece: Boring. But apparently hard to beat (See EURO 2004). Same coach, same stifling style that could see them make it at least out of the group stage.

Sweden: Could progress, but apparently they lack a world-class goalie. Zlatan should score a couple though. And Freddie Ljungberg should give them some moral support and experience.

Russia: Not this year. But did have a strong qualifying. This group will not be a cakewalk.


Vatican Football

Awesome. A new football team, coached by the Pope. Well..not exactly, but the Vatican has a 'Clericus Cup' in which seminary students and other churchy types play some football. They've added in a 'blue card' which comes with a five minute penalty where you can get off the field and pray for forgiveness for your foul. Or just think about what you've done, and cool off.

Sweet. Link.


05 June 2008

Wedding photos

Here's one photo from our wedding. There are many more circulating out there, but only Geordie has gotten them all up on flickr, so I have limited access to these wonderful photos.

As you can see the wedding was fun, and Chiara and I did, based on the photographic evidence, indeed get married.


03 June 2008

Awesome hip hop show in Brussels

There were many highlights from the smorgasbord of local and international hip hop on display at (or 'all up in the') Ancienne Belgique on Sunday.

First and foremost was going out with my brother and sister. A little sibling time that was augmented and souped-up by the addition of Amsterdam-issue add-ons Gingerfury and Shortcut Kid (the Catalyst).

The entire operation was bound to succeed once you factor in the 'Filip and Mireia' factor.

And the music was no joke. Which is not to say it wasn't funtastic.

B. Dolan: Missed him. Too bad. He looks alot like Sage. Probably good like him too.

Zucchini Drive: two mcs and one dj. one cover(ish) of 'The Power of Love' and a hot tune extolling the virtues of doing the donkey dance.

Cadence Weapon: Dude brought the energy to his performance, as did DJ Weez-L who finished a hot show with a sweet backspin. Mr Weapon even frequently came down and jogged through the sparse crowd, rhyming and stealing. Although not really stealing, just rhyming. he brought the full bore of his blowing-up energy to the small-but-appreciative crowd.

Tido Berman: went for a street picnic with the family during his set. Falafels were delicious. My older brother got his without corn. Who knew?

Members of Marvelas: I think these guys were totallyrockawesome. Unfortunately I only caught the end because I was doing Benelux-based hip-hop networking with Shortcut Kid. Is it possible we'll open up for Zucchini Drive? Yes. Once we get our shit together. The MOM were huge: literally a big band and bringing the funk flavour.

Fun Fact: Tom from Zucchini Drive is doing an album with Pipi Skid. Rad.

Sage Francis: Awesome. Opened his show be-caped with a performance of Climb Trees. My bro described him as half stand-up comedian, half mc. I'd say he has his percentages off, but otherwise an accurate assesment. Hot cover of Buck 65's 'Centaur' although he denied it was by Buck, despite my shoutingest attribution efforts. A great and enthralling performance. I was happy he stuck to his odler stuff, which I know better. Though I now have a copy of his latest disc, so next time he comes he can do stuff from that.