Archive for the ‘Blah blah’ Category
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…
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.
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.
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
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?
Another of the animated GIFs I did for IBMblr is up:
Links to my other stuff for them:
Yesterday, I did a post and wee graphic about proportions of flags, and how when designers need to use a lot of flags (like next to World Cup games and tables), the designers, understandably, standardise the flag proportions. This inevitably creates a wrong Switzerland flag.
After putting the post up, Twitter user @AMR_MN made a good point:
@flipflopflying I'm surprised none of those countries are that close to the Golden Ratio. 5:8 would be very close.
— AMR (@AMR_MN) June 11, 2014
Here’s that graphic again, with the golden ratio marked as a black line:
This got me thinking. At the World Cup, the closest flag ratios to the golden ratio (1:1.618) are those of Costa Rica, England, and Germany which have a 1:1.666 ratio. The only nation’s flag that has the golden 1:1.618 ratio is the flag of Togo.
So I decided to re-jig some flags to be golden rectangles. First thing to note was it was a thoroughly absorbing exercise. It’s great to look at flag design and see how changing the ratio is a big step, cos you are messing with things that the original designers deemed important. So at this point I should note this is not me trying to improve on flag design. I’m just tweaking the flags so they are golden rectangles.
I didn’t look at every flag. I looked at a selection that cover most of the basic flag designs. A few tribands, vertical and horizontal, a Scandanavian cross, and some others. I wanted to not just look at the easy-to-manipulate flags. In that sense, the most difficult ones were the British, Australian, and American flags. In reality, unless you’ve got an extensive knowledge of flags, you probably wouldn’t even notice that the tweaks had occurred.
Some flags were a lot easier than others. Germany, for example, was easy. It’s close already, only being 0.048 away. Sweden, too, which is 1:1.6.
Others, it was just a matter of keeping the proportions of the flag parts as close as possible. Here, the Canada flag and Mexico flags, vertical tribands with a thingy in the middle, I kept the triband proportions the same, and re-sized the centre bits so they were the same proportional size horizontally. Same with the rhombus on Brazil’s flag. Israel and Switzerland were relatively simple, too: just adding space at the edges and extending the colours. The Switzerland flag now feels wrong. The Swiss flag’s squareness seems such a huge part of the flag.
Portugal wasn’t too hard. The green bit is two-fifths of the width in the actual flag. I kept that proportion and re-sized the coat of arms and centred it where the green and red meet. With the United States flag, there’s a few more changes that are needed. The blue starry bit is two-fifths of the width and seven red and white stripes deep. Not rocket surgery, but when you do that re-jiggery, you need to re-space the stars within the blue canton. Such stuff makes me nervous. You are messing with things that people view as important. But, the US flag has changed so many times over the country’s history, if such a thing as a golden rectangle re-design were to happen, it’s an issue that would need addressing. So, USA, I’ve dang well gone and addressed it.
With flags that have diagonal elements, you have to fundamentally alter the flag. The flag of Trinidad and Tobago has a band where the top left of the band begins in the top left corner, and the bottom right edge of the band ends in the bottom right corner. The angle of the band only changes by a couple of degrees, but a couple of degrees is a couple of degrees. Flags with chevrons, like Cuba, change too. The triangle-y bit has a shorter peak bit poking out into the bands. Of all the golden triangle re-designs, this is the style of flag that suffers the most, I think.
Just a couple more, both of which feature the UK’s Union Flag: the United Kingdom, obvs, and Australia. Leaving aside the discussion of whether Australia should get rid of their Britty flag and have a properly Australian one, these re-jigs were by far the trickiest. And kinda the most fun to get my head around. I don’t wanna underestimate your flag knowledge, but just in case you don’t know, the UK’s flag is kind of a composite of three flags, an English one, a Scottish one, and a Northern Irish one. The Welsh, you ask? Well, the flag overlords of the UK deemed them fuck-off-able. Changing the British flag from a ratio of 1:2 to 1:1.618 means changing angles like with the Cuba chevron. Not too tough with the English part (the red symmetrical cross), but tougher with the Scottish (a blue and white saltire) and Northern Irish (a white and red saltire) bits. To have the Northern Irish red diagonal stripes correctly touching the corners of the flag, I had to approximate the proportions. On the real flag, the white and red diagonal parts are split into six equal imaginary stripes. In the top left quarter, for example, going from left to right, it’s one-sixth white, two-sixths red, and three more sixths white. Mine isn’t perfectly correct. But it’s close-ish.
The Australian flag has the British flag taking up the whole of the upper hoist quarter, so that’s that sorted. The rest of it messes up a bit. I kept the proportional size of the stars the same and the proportional placement the same, but their placement ends up looking different in the fly half of the flag. Because of the thinner horizontal size of the flag, those stars all look a bit more squished. I imagine, should a golden rectangle version of this flag ever be done, the size of the stars may be altered so that the relatively placement of the stars is the same as the current flag.
Anyway, that was a fun way to kill a couple of hours.
And while we’re on the topic of flags, Scotland is voting on independence on September 18th this year. Should they leave the United Kingdom, I think we, the British, should have a new flag. It’d be wrong to keep the Scottish part if they are not a part of the UK. Plus, now’s a good chance to give Wales some flag presence. This is what I’d do: simply swap the blue for green. It’d be fun to have a new colour in there. Plus, y’know, red, white, and blue… yawn. 26 countries have red, white, and blue flags; only nine have red, white, and green flags. Come on, Queenie, you know it makes sense. (More post-Scotland flag designs here.)
More flag factz:
88 sovereign states have flags with a 2:3 ratio. 54 states have a 1:2 ratio flags. That’s 142 of the 195 countries. Kinda nuts. In my opinion, 1:2 is an ugly ratio.
Aside from Switzerland, Vatican City is the only other 1:1 flag.
Nepal’s flag is bonkers. Two triangles on top of each other, with a 0.820 ratio.
The only flag with a ratio longer that 1:2 is Qatar’s, a mammoth 1:2.545. Bully for them, eh? Let’s hope they get stripped of their World Cup and have to take solace in having a fancy flag.
All original flags from Wikipedia.
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
Round of 16:
Brazil v Netherlands
Colombia v England
Spain v Mexico
Uruguay v Côte d’Ivoire
France v Benson and Hedges
Germany v Russia
Argentina v Switzerland
Belgium v Portugal
Brazil v England
Spain v Uruguay
France v Germany
Argentina v Belgium
Brazil v Germany
Uruguay v Argentina
Brazil v Argentina
Argentina wins, Brazilian people explode.
Every morning, I wake up around dawn.
I get out of bed, go to the kitchen, fill the kettle with water and turn it on.
I get a mug out of the cupboard and put coffee in the cafetière.
I go to the bathroom and then turn on my computer and check email.
When I hear the kettle click, I go and fill the cafetière and wait for a bit.
Some times longer than other times.
I’m never really sure how long I should wait.
Normally it’s two or three minutes.
I pour a cup of coffee.
And she is there.
She is there.
Hair pulled back into a ponytail.
White sports bra top thing (I don’t know the actual word, sorry).
Grey sporty trousers.
She looks at me and melts my heart.
A slight smile.
She smiles while I drink coffee.
She knows I should probably go to the gym with her, but she never says anything.
She knows I like to drink coffee, stare out of the window as the sun comes up, she knows that those first couple of hours are the most creative hours I have in my day.
She’s not a cow in a field.
She’s not text.
She’s not an illustration.
She’s not an industrial farming process.
She sees me at my worst and she doesn’t judge me.
Then I put her back in the fridge.
Last year, I went to this thing called the Feria de las Culturas Amigas. It was on the big main avenue in the centre of Mexico City with lots of stalls from different countries. There was food, crafts, other stuff. It was a nice way to see and taste things that you might not ever get to see or taste. This year, it was at the Zócalo—formally Plaza de la Constitución—the huge empty square downtown which has some federal buildings, the Catedral Metropolitana, and the Palacio Nacional on three of its sides. The other side has some shops and people selling stuff, and yesterday, a terrible saxophonist busking.
It was a far better location for such a thing, not having to walk along the packed pavement by a big road. Just like last year, the food was good. We had a nice wee brie sandwich from France, bacalhau from Portugal, a big fat white sausage and mustard from Switzerland (the queue for the German sausage, like last year, was big, so we gave their neighbours a go: it was tasty), mate cocido from Paraguay, and pão de queijo from Brazil.
We boycotted the Russia stand. I tried some North Korean food last time. It was greasy and grim. This year, there was no food at the North Korea stand. The USA stand sold hot dogs and popcorn. Exotic food which many Mexicans have never tried before, obviously. There were a few gringos stood chatting behind some books about jazz, comic art, and a few great novels. It was like they were a little bit too desperate for people to know that there is culture in the US. The UK stand was possibly even worse. They had a red telephone box, cutouts of the future king and his wife, and the Beatles. And you could buy Strongbow, Weetabix, and One Direction t-shirts. So proud of my home country.
At the Argentina stand, they were selling tickets for a football game. Boca Juniors vs. River Plate at Estadio Azteca. How had we not heard that this was happening? Argentina’s superclásico in this city. So we bought tickets and come Saturday evening, took a couple of peseros down to the Azteca. Peseros, as I’m sure I must’ve mentioned before, are cheap small buses. They have about 20 seats, and with standing passengers, can easily carry double that. Mostly because they are death traps and the drivers care more about getting an extra few pesos than not killing people in a horrific accident. It’s easy to joke about these buses, but, really, it’s not that funny. Every time I take one, I realise that I’m in the hands of someone who isn’t a good driver. But, they exist, and they cover parts of the city where taking the subway isn’t possible or would be a long convoluted route.
Estadio Azteca is a wonderful place. I like stadiums in general, but this one is huge. I’ve been to four or five games there, and each time I’m impressed by its size. It’s the seventh largest stadium in the world. But that’s not the impressivest thing for me. First, there’s a big Alexander Calder sculpture at the entrance. Second, it’s where Maradona beat England in 1986. Every time I’m there, I look at the goal at that end of the ground and can see both goals happening in my head.
Stood around the Calder sculpture were lots of people in Boca and River jerseys singing and chanting. Touts asked if we wanted tickets and stalls sold bootleg jerseys, t-shirts, scarves, bags, pins, earrings, whatever. They had Boca stuff, River stuff, and stuff from other Argentine teams. Club America, Pumas, and Cruz Azul stuff (those are the three teams in Mexico City). World Cup jerseys from Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Portugal, Netherlands, Germany.
Going through the turnstiles, a security guy indicated for me to turn around and hold my arms out. He frisked me. He told me I couldn’t take my lighter in, so I lobbed it into a nearby bin. A few yards later, there was a line of policemen. One of them asked me to stop. He did the same frisking. We walked around the side of the stadium to the gate where we were supposed to enter. Our tickets were scanned again, and another line of coppers was frisking everyone. Up the giant concrete ramps to the top of the stadium. We looked at our tickets to see which entrance we needed and walked around to the right. Again a bunch of police there, frisking.
We went in, and realised that the section where our tickets were was right in the middle of where the hardcore fans were, behind one of the goals. When we bought the tickets, they asked if we wanted the Boca or River section, I said Boca because I’d been to see a game at their stadium in Buenos Aires. Girlfriend, who had lived in Buenos Aires for a while, confessed after we’d got the tickets that she preferred River. What we didn’t bank on, though, was our tickets being right there amongst the people who were the most passionate. Jumping up and down, constantly singing, aping what happens at games in Buenos Aires. We decided to look for seats elsewhere, and one section over, there wasn’t riot police around the edges of the section, and other people seemed a lot calmer.
The other end was where the River fans were. Not as many as in the Boca end. Along the sides seemed to be neutral. Down in the lower level of the stadium, the expensive seats were all wet. The roof only covers the top tier, and it was raining. Most of those seats were empty. And actually, most seats in general were empty. Of the 105,000 seats in the Azteca, according to Marca.com, only 25,000 were occupied.
The teams came out to much cheering and chanting. Then they both lined up next to each other and unfurled a banner which read “VAMOS ARGENTINA.” The cheering turned to boos. The game kicked off, and to be frank, it wasn’t all that much of a superclásico. River took the lead in the 36th minute. Boca equalised in the 70th. At the end of the game, because of some fake trophy being given away by the sponsors they had a penalty shootout. Boca missed their first two, and River won 4-2. So far in 2014, the two teams have played one league match and four friendlies. Four! River won the league game and the last three friendlies.
All in all, it was a tad disappointing, but then, I don’t know why I expected one country’s biggest game to have the same intensity as it would in their own city. It was, though, good to see them playing each other, if only for the fact that aesthetically it’s one of the world’s most beautiful sports fixtures. Blue with a yellow band vs white with a red sash. Magic.
(Apologies for the crappy photos. My camera is bust and I kinda have to just use my iPod, which has a shitty camera. Thanks, Apple.)
In 2010, when I lived in lovely Toronto for one lovely summer, I would often walk past a restaurant called Buddha’s Vegetarian. I liked that it was a statement as well as a name. Buddha is vegetarian.
I guess technically the name is Buddha’s Vegetarian Restaurant, as their Web site makes a wee bit clearer. But maybe he was like Colonel Sanders. I dunno.