Archive for June, 2014
I am clearly rubbish at predicting stuff.
My original predictions, with correct placings in bold.
Group A: Brazil, Mexico, Croatia, Cameroon
Group B: Spain, Netherlands, Chile, Australia
Group C: Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Japan, Greece
Group D: Uruguay, England, Italy, Costa Rica
Group E: France, Switzerland, Ecuador, Honduras
Group F: Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Nigeria, Iran
Group G: Germany, Portugal, Ghana, United States
Group H: Belgium, Russia, South Korea, Algeria
Let’s have a re-look, then, and predict the Round of 16 and beyond.
Because of my crappy predictions in the groups, my original Round of 16 predictions are virtually pointless.
I originally went for a Brazil v Argentina final with Argentina winning. Still think that’s possible, but having watched each of the teams a few times, I might change my mind.
Let’s see, shall we? (Enthralling, right?)
Round of 16:
Brazil v Chile
I would love to see Chile win this one. But I just think that, however it happens, the home nation will find a way to stay in the competition.
Colombia v Uruguay
Colombia had a relatively easy group, of course, but they look pretty good, huh? And Uruguay, apart from Suárez against England, haven’t been as impressed as I originally imagined.
Netherlands v Mexico
Heart over head here.
Costa Rica v Greece
Please let’s get rid of the boring teams at this stage.
France v Nigeria
It would be wonderful, I think, if there was an upset here. And then we, as the dominant species on this planet can all come together and get behind the Nigerian people and completely destroy those fucks kidnapping schoolgirls and bombing people.
Germany v Algeria
They’ll just win, right?
Argentina v Switzerland
The only Round of 16 game I actually predicted happening. *High fives self* Argentina all the way here.
Belgium v USA
I don’t like the US team at all, but they’re like mosquitos and never bloody stop. Can see them upsetting Everyone’s Dark Horses here.
Brazil v Colombia
Mexico v Costa Rica
France v Germany
Argentina v USA
Colombia v France
Mexico v Argentina
France v Argentina
More finger painting here.
I quit Facebook five years ago. Then I rejoined Facebook about four years ago. I’m quitting again. Same reason, actually: it seems to be a truly hideous company and I don’t wanna be a part of its growing wealth anymore. I posted a quick reminder about this on the FFF Facebook page yesterday, letting the people who follow that page that it will be disappearing at the end of this month. And then Facebook sent me this message. I suppose you have to admire that, in a way…
More finger painting here.
Luis Suárez appeared to bite that Italian fella. I only say “appeared” because, guess what, I didn’t see it from an angle where I can be sure. And those marks on Chiellini’s shoulder? Well, the not-hi-def images I’ve seen aren’t conclusive. I can’t be absolutely sure they are bite marks. Everyone has already convicted him, of course. I’m not denying it appears likely that he did it. And I’m not defending him, and I’m very specifically not defending him because he plays his club football for my favourite team.
What I will say though—and this is not a hot sprots take, obviously—is how bloody dull everyone became yesterday after it happened. It was Twitter at its most tedious. Vampire! Hannibal Lecter! #Food #Brands using it for the same un-hilarious “If you’re hungry, Luis, why not try our chocolate-coated fried pork in popcorn batter! LOL.” The moral high ground was staggeringly over-populated; border guards were having trouble keeping up with the visa applicants. Everyone is allowed their opinions of course. I am expressing mine now.
Twitter is at its best, I think, when it feels like you’re having a chat in your living room, just that the people you’re chatting with are in various places around the world. That’s a good thing. When Internet moral outrage takes hold, though, I can’t be arsed with it. Go at it all you want. Knock yourselves out. But that’s when I close the browser window cos your unique opinion on Luis Suárez is fucking tedious.
Sadly, Suárez took away from other things that happened:
England didn’t lose. Yay!
Italy got knocked out. Yay!
Costa Rica won! the! bloody! group!
And the awesome-looking Colombia now face Uruguay in the Round of 16. That section of the Round of 16 is gonna fun as hell: the winner of that game facing either Brazil or Chile in the quarters. Much as I love the country of Brazil, I’m kinda hoping we see a Chile vs. Colombia quarter final. And if Ecuador get out of Group E—making it six out of six South American countries getting out of the group—they could meet Argentina in the Round of 16. That’d be fun. I wonder how much fun, though, these games will be for South Americans. Would they see these as chances to beat rivals on the big stage or would they all rather have the chance to play teams who aren’t from CONMEBOL?
And, oh yeh, congrats Greece, your presence in the Round of 16 is something everyone has been hoping and praying for…
Mexico won. In a cheap bar in the downtown Centro Historico part of Mexico City, we chugged down Tecates, ate peanuts, and eventually jumped up and down as Mexico beat Croatia
3-0, oops, I mean 3-1. We paid, and joined the throng of people leaving the Zócalo and heading to El Ángel de la Independencia, a nearly four kilometre walk which, due to the amount of people, really managed to mess with the traffic. Heading to El Ángel is something of a tradition when Mexico wins something. They won a group game yesterday. A group game.
You may have read that Fifa, that most discerning of bodies, decided to drop its charges of improper conduct with regards to Mexico fans at the World Cup shouting “puto” when the opposing goalkeeper takes a goal kick. That’s a shame, really. It would be good if something was done about this. It has occurred at every football match I’ve ever seen in Mexico. And, as far as I can tell, it’s hardly ever discussed. A few people I’ve spoken to about it don’t see it as a big deal, but, y’know, that’s what people say, isn’t it? Washington Redskins fans who want to keep using that horrible name will say it’s not a big deal. But as we walked toward El Ángel, the hordes shouted that word fairly regularly. One can’t say if it’s a knee-jerk, cornered, kind of fuck-you reaction to being slightly chastised by Fifa, or whether the people were just shouting it as a matter of course. Either way, Mexican football fans are, for the immediate future, still gonna use that word, and I just hope that the fact that this topic has come up during a World Cup may mean that we have started the long journey to stop shouting “puto.”
As people walked by Parque Alameda, a few of them noticed a Circle K. They began shouting “Chelas! Chelas!” Slang for “beer.” Before the store employees had time to react, the steps up to the place were full of fans. There was no real malice there, as the two or three employes seemed to fairly easily get twenty or thirty people out of the store and shut the doors quite quickly. Not quick enough, though, to stop the beer fridge being looted.
But, all in all, it was an incredibly good-natured and fun time. As an English person, it’s kinda nice to see a football victory being celebrated with such joy. It may seem, from the above two paragraphs, that it was all kinda crappy, but that’s totally not true. People danced, took photos with strangers, kicked balls and balloons around, honked car horns, sprayed foam everywhere, and whenever a TV camera appeared, went utterly bonkers in front of its lens.
Whenever I see the Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal, I can’t help but be reminded of this Lard twelve-inch sleeve.
At around 8 a.m., I was stood on the balcony, drinking coffee, watching the street wake up, and then a lovely silver VW Beetle drove past.
Moments later, one, two, three, four, five more Beetles. All white.
Then a blue one.
Then a matt black one.
And on and on and on it went.
Ten, twenty, thirty, forty, more and more Beetles, the odd combi, a handful of Golfs.
I put on my trousers and went down and had a look. The whole streets around the two stadiums near my apartment were full of Volkswagens.
Just one big coincidence, I assume…
During the 2006 World Cup, when I was living in Berlin, Call a Pizza, a pizza delivery place, did a special pizza for all of the teams. I wrote a blog post about at the time. Here is what those pizzas looked like. I remembered this yesterday, and thought, I wonder if… and yes! they are doing it again! Kinda regret not remembering it during the 2010 World Cup now, really. This could’ve been an ongoing four-yearly feature…
First thing to note is that when you look at their pizza list: there’s no Brazilian pizza. What they have done, though, and you can see it on their main page, is the thing below, an 8-inch “pizza” with “fine cinnamon and sugar, fresh bananas, and creamy Mozzarella balls.” That sounds bloody disgusting. I really don’t like cinnamon anyway, but even taking that off wouldn’t make this any tastier. In 2006, their Brazil pizza had broccoli, onions, peppers, sweetcorn and olives. Not particularly Brazilian-y.
So, let’s have a look at the others, shall we?
Pizza Germany: margherita with double salami
A simple pizza. No nonsense. Also, exactly the same as the Deutschland pizza in 2006.
Pizza Chile: margherita with ham, mushrooms, artichoke, olives, and pepperoni
Are any of these relevant? I don’t know.
Pizza Belgium: curry sauce, Edam, fried curry chicken breast, pineapple, and cheese
Okay, the first sign that we are dealing with a madman of a chef. For one thing, Edam is Dutch, not Belgian. And, of course, this pizza needs more waffles on it.
Pizza Ecuador: spicy barbecue sauce, Edam, crispy bacon, and onions
In 2006, the Ecuador pizza had ham, mushrooms, and jalapeños.
Pizza Croatia: margherita with ham, pineapple, and cheese
In 2006, the Croatia pizza was exactly the same as the 2014 Ecuador pizza, except without the Edam. That makes sense.
Pizza Switzerland: fine tomato sauce, Edam, Gorgonzola, Hirtenkäse, and creamy Mozzarella
That’s a lot of cheese. Only difference between this and the 2006 one is they’ve replaced Feta with Hirtenkäse.
Pizza Japan: margherita with tuna and onion
Exactly the same as 2006.
Pizza Ghana: margherita with ham, spinach, and a fried egg
Now that’s a pizza! Way better than the Ghana pizza in 2006: honey mustard sauce, cheese, chicken, mandarins, and mozzarella
Pizza Greece: margherita with seafood and fresh garlic
I don’t like the word “seafood” here. Too vague.
Pizza England: margherita with crispy bacon and fried egg
Obviously. And the same as 2006.
Pizza Portugal: margherita with salami, ham, fresh mushrooms, and pepperoni
I’m not really feeling the occasional use of the word “fresh” at Call a Pizza. It seems to highlight that the other stuff isn’t fresh. In 2006, it was ham, spinach, and egg.
Pizza Colombia: margherita with ham and fresh mushrooms
I feel obliged to say “what: no cocaine!?” here.
Pizza Argentina: margherita with spicy beef, onions and cheese on top
Same as 2006. Beef. Argentina. Well done.
Pizza Australia: with fine tomato sauce and baked Mozzerella, and topped with Serrano ham, rocket, and fresh grated Grana Padano
Last time it was Mozzarella, rocket, Parma ham, parmesan. So pretty much the same, just with fancier descriptions.
Pizza Côte d’Ivoire: margherita with onions, fresh peppers, broccoli, sweetcorn, and olives
in 2006, they went for spicy beef, sweetcorn and jalapeños.
Pizza Italy: margherita with red onion, fresh cherry tomatoes, topped with pesto and fresh grated Grana Padano
Eight years ago, they kept it simple: tomato, mozzarella and fresh basil.
Pizza Spain: margherita with Tabasco sauce, pepperoni and spicy jalapeños
This exact combination of ingredients was the Mexican pizza in 2006.
Pizza Iran: spicy barbecue sauce, Edam, spicy Sucuk (Turkish sausage), crispy onion, and spicy jalapeños
I would like to know how many people bought the Iran pizza in 2006. It had curry sauce, “grilled curry chicken breast,” pineapple and extra cheese. As for the 2014 edition: Iran isn’t Turkey.
Pizza Algeria: spicy barbecue sauce, Tabasco sauce, Edam, grilled chicken breast, and pineapple
I’ve written about every other pizza so far, so here are some more words.
Pizza Costa Rica: spicy barbecue sauce, Tabasco sauce, Edam, crispy bacon, spicy jalapeños, and crème fraîche
Sounds like a spicy, sloppy feast of fun, that. Better than 2006’s ham, pineapple and extra cheese job.
Pizza Honduras: margherita, spicy pepperoni, hearty Cheddar cheese, crispy bacon, and creamy Mozzarella
Not really sure if the word “herzhaftem” is referring to the Cheddar being hearty or savoury here.
Pizza United States: margherita, pepperoni, delicious beef, spicy Chester, crispy onion, cheese on top, barbecue sauce, and crispy bacon
Just throw everything that’s nearby on there, Florian, that’s what they do in the States, anyway. In 2006, it was pretty similar: BBQ sauce, cheese, salami, beef, more cheese, onions and bacon
Pizza Uruguay: creamy Hollandaise, Edam, pepperoni, crisy bacon, fresh peppers, and broccoli
I’ve been to Uruguay. It was very nice. Can’t remember this being similar to their cuisine, though.
Pizza Mexico: spicy barbecue sauce, Edam, pepperoni, grilled chicken breast, onions, fresh peppers, and sweetcorn
Pizza Nigeria: honey mustard sauce, Edam, juicy chicken breast, sweet mandarins, and creamy Mozzarella
Interestingly, this was the Ghana pizza in 2006. Because Africa is a country.
Pizza Bosnia and Herzegovina: margherita with grilled chicken breast, spinach, a creamy Hollandaise, and crispy bacon
Things are just getting repeated now in slightly different configurations.
Pizza South Korea: spicy barbecue sauce, Edam, red onions, hearty/savoury Cheddar cheese, crispy bacon, topped with Block House steak pepper and crème fraîche
It was tuna, onions and salami in 2006, so I guess this is a bit more adventurous.
Pizza Netherlands: with a delicate Hollandaise, Edam, fresh broccoli, delicious white asparagus, and crispy bacon
A slight variation on the 2006 effort, they switched ham for bacon and added broccoli.
Pizza France: with a delicate Hollandaise, Edam, fresh mushrooms, and delicious green and white aparagus
In 2006, they did Hollandaise sauce, asparagus, peppers, artichoke and cheese. Neither the 2006 or the 2014 pizzas seem very French to me.
Pizza Funghi: margherita with fresh mushrooms
Now, call me unobservant, but I’ve not noticed Funghi playing at the World Cup.
Pizza Prosciutto: margherita with ham
Nor have I noticed Prosciutto. I assume it’s one of those microstates like Monaco, Andorra or San Morino. Well done, Prosciutto.
Pizza Margherita: margherita, obvs
Tomato sauce and Edam. And the only Queen playing at this year’s Fifa Corrupt Soccer Jubilee.
Pizza Russia: “stuffed pizza” with tomato sauce, Edam, salami, ham, fresh mushrooms, olives, and cheese on top
More of a calzone than a pizza. This pizza will attack any nearby homosexuals.
Pizza Cameroon: “stuffed pizza” with spicy barbecue sauce, Edam, pepperoni, beef, red onions, fresh peppers, with spicy jalapeños, creamy Hollandaise, and cheese on top
Too many ingredients, maybe?
All in all, it really just seems like they went to a warehouse and asked about a special price on everything. Having said that, I’m looking forward to checking back in with Call a Pizza in 2016.
It’s been a few days since one of these, but I kinda wrote a lot about watching the World Cup in the post I wrote for NotGraphs yesterday.
Anyway, England are out, which you know already. Here are two Mexican newspapers after the Uruguay game:
Now’s the time for two things: rooting for Mexico and letting the dark side take hold, so:
Please lose, Russia.
Please lose, Italy.
Please lose, Portugal.
Please lose, USA.
Fuck Arjen Robben.
And here’s something I remembered. In 2006, when I lived in Berlin, my local pizza place did pizzas for every nation in the World Cup:
Don’t let the title of this blog post put you off, non-baseball lovers.
I wrote a post for top baseball site NotGraphs about this very subject, but, between you and me, *stage whisper* it’s hardly about baseball at all. It’s most about being in a different city. Travel writing, I guess.
I’ve been watching a Brazilian feed of a few of the games so far. I like how the Portuguese language sounds. I especially like the “-ão” sound. And I keep finding myself altering players’ names to include an -ão…
Robão vão Persão
And while we are here, it’s good to remember the best word in any language is a Portuguese word: saudade.
Wanna see an animation of a mutant Cristiano Ronaldo head on a pixelly snake set to a MIDI version of “Walk of Life”? Clickity click: http://flipflopflyin.com/ronalves/index.html
I mentioned the reason for the mutant head thingy in a post earlier today, btw.
I wanted to do a drawing of the old man I drew recently as a young man. Here.
First World Cup day without alcohol. A victory.
Saw this photo of Chicharito. Seems as if he’s morphing into Sylvester Stallone:
After the Germany-Portugal game, it was nice to see someone slowing down the film of Cristiano Ronaldo making a weird face.
The proximity of Bruno Alves behind Cristiano, though, kinda made me want to do a quick Photoshop job. So I did:
Seeing Ghana’s flag reminded me of a quiz drawing I did for my third book Atlas, Schmatlas (probably not available in all good book shops any more, but worth trying, I guess). Name the flags. Answers at the bottom of this post.
Inspiration for the United States of (the Part of the) America (s between Canada and Mexico)’s kit:
And that USA-Ghana game wasn’t Kyle Beckerman’s first appearance at this World Cup, y’know:
Flags, left to right: Senegal, Burkina Faso, Bolivia, Cameroon, Ghana, Togo, Benin, São Tomé and Principe
Here’s an infographic about when in the calendar year each of the World Cups has taken place.
There have been times when I’ve tried not to give a shit about England. Good players playing boring football. And it has been easy. I made a concerted effort during the 2010 World Cup. Problem was, though, as soon as the England-USA game started, I couldn’t really stop myself wanting my home nation’s team to win. So this time, aided by such a big Liverpool presence in the squad, I’ve given in and will be pro-England. Not in a UKIP way, obviously. Look:
Three two lions on a shirt:
Day two and the time zones and game times were already taking their toll. After the opening game and beery celebrations, getting up and ready and prepared for being at a bar at 10am to stake out a decent seat for the Mexico-Cameroon game was tough. We went to a local place, arrived while they were still mopping the floor, sat down and ordered from their special World Cup special offers menu: a cubeta (that’s an ice-filled bucket with six bottles of beer in it) and one kilogram of campechano (a mix of beef and chorizo with beans and onions and tortillas).
That first beer was a good hairy dog. The bar started to fill up with people in green Adidas jerseys. Mexican TV spent a lot of time focussing on the Mexican people in the stadium. Wet Mexican people in the pouring rain. Wet Mexican people with huge sombreros: check. Wet Mexican people in Mariachi costumes: check. Wet Mexican people wearing Aztec headdresses: check. Wet Mexican people in luchador masks: check.
It was fun to be in a room full of people who cared about the result of a game that I didn’t care as much about. I absolutely want Mexico to do well, but I’m not Mexican, so I can’t care as much as they do. And the game was kinda how I’d expected. Mexico having chances but not scoring. Eventually when they did score, people went nuts. Relief. Then it was a matter of praying that somehow Chicarito might be able to score a goal (he didn’t) and Cameroon don’t get an equaliser (they didn’t).
On to a friend’s apartment for the second and third games of the day. I have nothing against the Dutch people. I have enjoyed their football in previous championships, but I can’t stand Arjen Robben. And Robin van Persie either, really. And now that their coach is gonna be the next Manutd manager, well, fuck the Dutch. But, of course, they had other ideas and made Spain look ordinary.
After that, the Chile-Australia game seemed to continue the fun for a bit, then petered out. We ate snacks, drank beer. And now, on the morning o the third day, I’m knackered, and thankful that after this afternoon’s England game, there’s a couple of days off the booze before Mexico-Brazil on Tuesday.
Couple of things: the goal line technology that Fifa is enjoying showing us is utterly ridiculous. They’ve only ever shown it for actual clear cut goals. That’s not why we need technology. It’s for goals like Lampard’s against Germany in 2010. That’s where it’d be useful, Sepp. But showing that you have the technology when it’s not needed just seems a bit desperate.
I drew an England badge. It’s pretty good, no?
Yesterday – WORLD CUP DAY! – we went to see an exhibit at the Museo Nacional de Arte. It was an exhibit of male nudes. There was an early-ish Picasso, a couple of small Cezannes, and some other stuff. It was okay. But a trick was missed. They totally should’ve tried to get sponsorship from a gym, who could’ve had a stall or something next to the exit, cos, I tell ya, there’s nothing like an exhibition full of male ideals to make you feel a bit not-ideal.
Art, though, of course, was just a wee snack before the main meal of the day. Brazil v Croatia. We’d given some thought to going to Zócalo, the big main plaza downtown where there’s a big screen, but in the end, hunger took us to Salon Corona. Some tacos, a couple of beers, and, “shall we go elsewhere?” “no, let’s stay here.” Pitbull on the telly, coming out of a ball, dressed like he was on holiday in Cancún. People around us in Brazil jerseys, cos everyone loves Brazil. Even the employees had fake Brazil jerseys with “Salon Corona” printed where the Nike logo would normally be.
Like a contrary bugger, I was rooting for Croatia. We got stiffed by the waiter who definitely overcharged us. Just like Croatia with the referee. I decided that we should make a stand, and rather than make an actual stand, we actually just didn’t tip him. On to El Jarrito, another bar. Yellow walls, a jukebox playing Spanish language stuff, and plastic garden chairs with Sol logos on them. Each chair was actually two chairs. Stacked. Not sure why. Girlfriend said it was because too many big dudes ended up breaking them.
Subway and a pesero microbus back to our neighbourhood. Another couple at a local bar. Some tacos at the stand across the street from the apartment. A great day. World Cup Day. And in about an hour, it’ll all start again. Back to the local bar where we’ll watch Mexico v Cameroon. People on the street below are in green jerseys and honking airhorns. It’s not even 9am.
Let’s see if I can keep this World Cup blogging up, eh?