Thursday, July 27, 2006

BCSDDB at 100

On Tuesday night, I passed the 100 page mark on the mock-up of Business Casual Stag Devil Death Boy, the forthcoming graphic novel produced by VTK Publishing House. After a strong start in the early months of my unemployment, my progress slowed a bit due to my move, my show, my work on a few new paintings ( v.1.3 coming soon), and of course, my World Cup. But I've got some momentum going again now, and given the estimated time left before my return to the chain gang and the amount of work left on BCSDDB, that's a good thing. I'm going to need to step it up even more if I'm going to complete the monolith (at right) by next summer. (Incidentally, I'm planning on having a show in my hallway with the pages all laid out like this. There will be a harness attached to a track on the ceiling so you can hover above the pages and work your way down the hall. There will be sweet curry chicken salad and high life waiting for you in the kitchen at the end of the hall. Fun!)

In other art related news, I'm off to Pittsfield this weekend to help Mama VTK with her show and to prep for mine, which begins next weekend at Pittsfield City Hall. (Pittsfield, you say? That's right, motherfuckers. As in the place where Lou Fucking Gehrig hit a dinger into the Hoosie. Check it out and submit to the power of the Pitt. (why am I obsessed with Pittsfield? No one else really gives a shit about their hometown like this. It's not right.)) Should you be in the W Mass, check it out. Should you not, and should you be in the E Mass in September, you'll get a chance to check out the paintings at the Middle East Restaurant in Central Square. That show goes up on Saturday, September 2nd, and stays up for a month. I don't know if there's going to be an opening because people will probably be busy for Labor Day Weekend and I'm gone the next weekend and the 4th and 5th weekends of the month. I may do something on the 16th. Stay tuned.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

VTK Recipe of the Month - Sweet Curry Chicken Salad

1 lb. diced boneless chicken breast
2 chopped hard boiled eggs (cook before removing shells and chopping)
½ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup sweet relish
1 cup chopped salted cashews
1 pink lady apple, cored and diced (unpeeled)
1 cup of red grapes (cut in half)
2 tablespoons of curry powder
2 teaspoons of rosemary
1/3 cup of olive oil

Fry diced chicken in olive oil, curry, and rosemary. Set aside to cool for 15 minutes. Mix chicken, eggs, mayo, relish. Fold in apples, grapes, and cashews and mix until covered in mayo. Cover and refrigerate for an hour. Serve on a bed of lettuce with a nice slice of bread. Eat over dirty Velvet Underground themed floor. Serves 4 and change.

Suggested beverage: Miller High Life.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Terrorist Milk

The Bush Administration and Hillary Clinton are rabidly supporting Israel's invasion and war on Lebanon's non-Hezbollah government and civilians. I don't see a problem with it. You never know where the terrorists are, so might as well attack anything suspected of being a target. For instance, yesterday Israel bombed a milk factory, some wheat silos, and some ambulances trying to get medical aid to civilians. Hezbollah spokespeople like Helen Thomas may decry these attacks as indiscriminate or even call them war crimes, but I think it's clear from these photographs that they were legitimate targets. Judge for yourself:

Seems pretty clear cut to me. As for the media's coverage, well, they seem to be having a problem defining it as a war:

Monday, July 17, 2006

_____ of the Week

Shout Out of the Week – goes to my dogg, Sophie (who is a cat). The cat is my dogg. I was housesitting at Ginger Snap and the Prankster Principal’s place for about a week and ½ last month and my primary responsibility (aside from kicking the asses of all the burglars that broke in on a nightly basis) was to take care of the Soph-Dogg, aka Sophalicious, aka the Sopha King, aka the cat. I had been warned that the cat would kill me, that the cat feared change, that the cat puked after 25% of it’s meals, etc., etc., but we didn't have any problems. She loved her Fun Uncle Dan and we got along great. Watching TV loud, daily access to the basement, 2 minute no frill scratch sessions, fish flakes every morning, scraps of cheese, cracking cat jokes, staying up late. Maybe a little too late – there were a couple incidents of angry stomping down the stairs, followed by a glare, at 1 AM. So, having been told that my life was in danger, I went to bed. All in all, she loved her Fun Uncle Dan. So much so that she apparently made a break for the outdoors the other day in search of me (she usually has no interest in leaving the house). So this shout out goes to Sophie. Hang in there, Kitty. They’re good people.

80’s Music Video Hook Up Of The Week – goes to the PRT's 80's video playlist on youtube. 41 videos. Get your 1980's 120 Minutes on.

Unicorn Website of the Week – goes to Unicorn Art. Scroll to the bottom of the page for more links, including instructions on how to adopt a unicorn.

Screenhead Selection of the Week
– goes to Beth Agnew, certified laugher. oh. And she’s got more on her blog if you really want it.

Pittsfield Props of the Weekgo to Stephanie Wilson, NASA astronaut and Pittsfield native, who just returned from space with the Space Shuttle Discovery. She and her co-“robo chick” shattered the previous record for space robotic arm activity while inspecting the shuttle’s heat shield for damage. Pittsfield, getting it done. First baseball, then lexan (yeah, you can thank Dawes Ave’s own Dan Fox the next time you’re using your shiny white iPod, drinking out of a Nalgene water bottle, behind bullet proof glass), and now this? We are dominating this mu’fu#$%ka. It’s not even close.

Motherfucking Bullshit of the Week - goes to the NStar Electric Company for fucking Area 4 in Cambridge for the past 4 hours. Four fucking hours of a blackout on the hottest night of the fucking year. Fuck you NStar. Fuck you Cambridge. You know damn well this shit would not be tolerated in a rich neighborhood, but fuck Area 4. They can wait while I sip on my Iced Vanilla Chai and take my time fixing this shit. My roommate told me that it happens all the time and they brought it up at a City Council meeting and NStar said it would take 4 to 5 years to fix. FUCK YOU. Fuck you. Fuck you. There is no way this shit would happen in any other neighborhood. Kiss my sweaty ass, NStar and Cambridge.

OK. Last World Cup Post. Promise.

I know I have been pushing my luck with the non-sports-fan VTK readership with my month of near exclusive World Cup posts. And, as I promised, there are a few other interesting non-soccer posts in the works. But first, one last look at the Zidane Headbutt genre:

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

But do you ... Hasselhoff?

What the hell is this man doing? Is he trying to pull a Shatner by going over the top with the kitschy self-awareness in an effort to make himself relevant again? Or, more appropriately, is he just pulling a Hasselhoff. Hoffy being Hoffy. Thanks to CJ for the tip to The Superficial's coverage of the following:

Please also see his renditions of Rhinestone Cowboy, Secret Agent Man, Hooked on a Feeling, and Blue Bayou, and of course the all-time classic, Hooked on a Feeling. This guy invented the Triple Threat.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Shine On You Crazy Diamond

RIP, Syd Barrett, co-founder and creative genius behind early Pink Floyd. He apparently died a few days ago, according to the NYTimes, but the cause of death and other details are uncertain. Here's an interesting article that Father O sent me a few years ago. Let this be a lesson to all you kids: don't lock your friends in the linen cupboards when they're on acid. Not cool.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Ciao Copa

Campiones! Forza Azzuri!

First things first: Many congrats to Italia on their deserved World Cup victory. They played great all tournament (with an aberrant stretch of mediocrity against the US) and are true champs. After getting robbed on a PK that resulted from a clear dive, they bounced back, scored a nice header, and dominated the first half. Their fatigue caught up with them in the second half, which was controlled by a great French team, but they hung on for a draw, and then won on 5 perfectly executed PKs in the shootout. I hate that a PK shootout decided the World Cup, but that's the game, and Italy are the undisputed champs.

Oh Zizou...

Even Chirac gave him the European Finger Wag on this one. I'm sure those of you who give a damn about soccer (i.e. anyone reading this far), know exactly what I'm talking about and have seen it several times (it has been viewed on youtube in various clip forms approximately 2.5 million times in the last 22 hours), but here it is anyways:

God. What the fuck can you say about this? It was just absolutely shocking. Unbelievable that someone like Zinedine Zidane would do something like this at a time like this. Obviously there was some provocation, but what could possibly have been said that would have precipitated that type of attack in overtime of a World Cup Final. The Daily Mail is reporting that it was a racist slur, more specifically that Matterozzi called Zidane, the French born son of Algerian immigrants, a terrorist. The Guardian and the BBC are running variations of this story as well, but without characterizing it as racist or mentioning a "terrorist" slur. So let's assume the worst - Matterozi tweaked his nipple and then said something sexually degrading about his mother and called her a terrorist. Still, for chrissake man. It's the World Cup Final. Let it go. But none of us have been in the shoes (or "boots") of a World Cup Finalist, except for loyal VTK reader Diego Maradona, so we really can't speculate. After a long career of soccer and the cumulative effect of all the experiences at matches, after 3 World Cups, after 6 full matches (he was suspended for the Togo match due to hardly warranted yellow card accumulation) and several minutes of overtime in a month, after 110 minutes of intense competition on the biggest of stages, after getting taken down and injuring his shoulder, after having what would have been the most glorious game winning goal in the history of soccer deflected over the goal a few minutes earlier, some guy gives you a purple nurple and calls your mother a dirty terrorist whore. I would like to say that I wouldn't react but I couldn't say for sure. Should he have controlled himself? Absolutely. But he snapped. Human, all too human. It's just too bad that this is the last image that the world will have of this great player. It's really beyond comparison. David Hirshey attempts comparison in writing that "it would be like Tiger Woods, moments from donning another green jacket at the Masters, bringing his putter down on top of Vijay Singh’s skull. Or Michael Jordan stepping up to the free throw line in the final ticks of an NBA championship game and breaking Kobe Bryant’s nose with a basketball." But he correctly notes that Zidane's breakdown was worse. Because not only did he disgrace himself and possibly cost his team a World Cup (and lose me $50), but he did it on the precipice of canonization. We sports fans love our stories and this was so close to being one of the all time great ones, only to flip in a moment and become ... I want to use the word tragedy here, but that's not what this is. There is real tragedy in the world, and this is not that. But it's very sad to see humanity trip itself up like this. Beyond comparison. And yet he was awarded the Golden Ball as the World Cup's most valuable player. So, for that, Zinedine, Congratulations.

Ciao Copa
How to wrap up the last month? I am so psyched that I got the opportunity to be unemployed this summer so that I could watch the Cup nearly in it's entirety, much of it accompanied by good friends and times. The first Cup that I really followed was in 1990 (my soccer team and I watched several matches together). In 1993, I was able to follow Ireland's qualifying matches from within Ireland. In 1994, I enjoyed following Ireland and the US from within the Cup host country (the US). In 1998, I sold a couple paintings and quit my job, proclaiming myself a professional artist, but did little more than sit on my couch in Clearwater, drink 40's, and follow the World Cup for a month. In 2001, dewy24 and I watched the US qualifier against T&T at the old Foxboro Stadium. In 2002, AK and I got cable for the Cup and hosted a series of 4 AM pre-work parties, culminating in celebrating in the streets of Allston with ecstatic Brazilians. In 2004, dewy24 and I watched a US qualifier against El Salvador in the new Foxboro stadium. And in 2006, I have had the good fortune to be able to watch exactly 50 matches live (8 were simulcast so I couldn't watch them, and 6 I just missed). I watched them at the pub, I watched them at home, I watched them at my housesitting gig, I watched them at friends houses, I watched them at the pub, I watched them alone, I watched them with friends. Add in the pregame and between-game analysis and that's about 120 hours or 3 full work weeks of soccer. Add in time reading, emailing, and blogging about Copa and I'm easily into 4 full work weeks. And since the Cup is exactly 1 month long, I can quite literally say that I have been World Cupping full time for the last month. In fact, a girl I met at one of the pubs introduced me to her friend as "This is Dan. He watches the World Cup." I am going to be going through some major soccer withdrawals for a while. I may even watch a Revs game to get me through it. South Africa - 2010...

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Semifinals

The first all-European semifinal since 1982 did not disappoint. I've been known to bitch about Europe getting 16 of the 32 World Cup spots and I traditionally cheer for ABE (Anyone But Europe), but the obvious reality is that they deserve to have that many selections. And they've produced some likeable squads this year. The matches:

Germany vs. Italy
- I went into this match thinking that I was going to root for Germany. That lasted until the opening kick, at which point I found myself rooting for Il Azzuri. Just couldn't do it, Deutschland. Italy, who have only conceded one goal so far in the Cup (and that was an own-goal), defended well again, neutralizing the potent German frontline of Klose and Podolski. When they went the first 90 without scoring, I was pretty sure we were going to PKs again and Jens "Cheat Sheet" Lehmann would put the home team into the Final. But the Italians came out like gangbusters and there were plenty of scoring chances in the OT. Still when minute 119 rolled around, PKs seemed inevitable. Then the Italians scored an otherworldly matrixesque bender goal. The Germans were forced to push recklessly forward to try to equalize and Italy got another brilliant goal on a counterattack about a minute later. 119 scoreless minutes followed by 2 goals in 2 minutes to absolutely devastate Deutschland. On a side note, why the hell is Lehmann the only keeper doing his homework on PK shooters? Is Germany the only country intelligent enough to scout the other players exhaustively? And how much would the US have to pay to get Bill Belichick to coach their next team?

France vs. Portugal
- At the beginning of the Cup, a friend alerted me to the odds on each of the 32 teams winning it all. Two stuck out as good risk/reward bets: Spain at 16 to 1 and France at 10 to 1. I didn't think either would win, but the odds were high enough that they were worth throwing a fiver down on each. After the first 2 matches by each team, I was starting to get very excited about the Spain bet and not at all excited about the France bet. Then, France started to remember that they were a great team. And now, 4 wins later, they're 90 minutes away from banking me up! The aging Zidane notched the only score of this match by putting a PK past the sublimely unconscious Ricardo, who guessed correctly again, but was bested by a perfectly placed shot just out of his reach. Allez Les Bleus! And please for the love of fifty bucks, catch the damn ball, Barthez.

Updated Power Rankings:

1. Italy
2. France
3. Germany
3. Argentina
5. Brasil
6. Portugal
6. England
8. Holland
9. Spain
9. Mexico

France beat Spain, Brazil, and Portugal, back to back to back. They've earned the VTKPR 2 spot. Italy was all the way down at the 8 spot, mostly because they narrowly defeated the Socceroos and got into the Semi's easy with a win over Ukraine, but outscoring Ghana, Czech Republic, and Germany 6 to 0, and conceding only a single own-goal in 6 World Cup matches gets you the 1 spot. by a hair. The hairless Barthez will let in a goal off a rebound, giving the Azzuri their 4th and denying me my 50.

Hot Dog!

I took a quick break from my World Cup watching yesterday to welcome several VTK readers over to the Norfunk Compound to watch my other favorite sport: competitive eating. I am, of course, talking about the annual 4th of July Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Competition at Coney Island. This year promised to be the most exciting competition since the reign of Kobayashi began, with a 22 year old American, Joey Chestnutt, having proved that he is capable of breaking the 50 barrier. Finally, a legitimate challenger. No offense, Badlands and Black Widow, but you were never really up to the challenge of taking down the Tsunami. Anyways, in honor of the big match, we hosted (the first annual?) Hot Dog Ho Down here at the house. After 40 minutes of pregame and the most exciting 12 minutes in sports, five types of dogs were served: Nathan’s Beef Franks, Oscar Mayer Wieners, Kayem’s Old Tyme Reds, Tofu Pups, and Smart Dogs. I started off by taking the first Nathan’s down Solomon Style (split in half and consumed straight up) followed by the obligatory bun consumption (dipped in lemonade to expedite swallowing). Then I went for a more traditional approach (bun, condiments) for the next two. Dogs 4, 5, and 6? Well, they didn’t happen. 3 is plenty. It was enough to fill me up and enough to tie Trivmaster for first place. The Coney Island Competition? Kobayashi won that of couse, breaking his own world record by ¼ of a dog. But it was not without its drama. Chestnutt ate valiantly, munching out to an early lead, but Kobayashi hung within 2 dogs and the bulk of the match was back and forth. In the end, Kobayashi was just too good. Chestnutt wolfed down 52 hot dogs. Kobayshi – 53 ¾. Well played, Joey C. We were pulling for you here at the Compound and we look forward to great things from you in the future.

Now back to the soccer. Allez Les Bleus!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

The Quarters

Clearly I was a tad intoxicated when I wrote that last post. Rooting for Germany, France, and England? What? Well, I guess I did root for England yesterday, but that was only because they were playing Portugal, who, out of respect for the Portugal fan sector of the VTK readership, I will try not to bash today (other than to say that Cristiano Ronaldo ('ian-Ron) is a detestable pratt). All in all, it was a pretty dismal weekend for the teams I was supporting. Here's some notes on the matches, followed by the updated power rankings:

Argentina vs. Germany - While the result and the post-match fracus were disappointing, the match was fantastic. Maybe the best of the Cup. It's a shame that this was a quarterfinal match instead of a semi or the Final. You had two of the best in the world battling to a draw for 120 minutes, each notching a spectacular goal along the way, and it had to be decided by a penalty kick shootout. Unfortunately for Argentina, their star keeper (who I have read described as a PK specialist) had to leave the game due to an injury, and his replacement just wasn't up to the challenge put forth by Germany's great keeper, Lehmann. What can I say. It really sucks that a team that played as well as the Argentines did got bounced in such a fashion. But that's the game.

I watched the match with scoutie, duffless, et. al. at PJ Ryan's in Teele Square, which is a great place to watch soccer (I watched all the Quarterfinal matches there, actually). I had my Argentina jersey on and there were about 5 or 6 off us rooting for the Argentines. We sat on one side of the bar, across from the sizeable German contingent that were decked out in jerseys, face paint, hats, flags, horns, etc. Both groups cheered loudly, but it was friendly and I talked to a few of them, shook hands, congratulated them, etc. They left after the match, while we stayed for the second match. A few minutes later, I notice there's a Scorpions song playing. Then another. Then 99 Luftballons. I look over at the bartender and he starts cracking up. They gave him the mixed cd as they were leaving. Damn Germans.

Italy vs. Ukraine - One of these teams is not like the other. Let's face it - the Ukraine just wasn't up to it. They got pounded by Spain, then managed to get out of their group because of the poor quality of the other teams (and they only barely beat Tunisia), and then they get past an overachieving Swiss team via PK shootout. Italy revealed them for the second tier team that they are. There wasn't a moment in this match that I thought that the Ukraine would lose by less than 2 goals.

England vs. Portugal
- I think this was the first time I've ever rooted for the English national team. In '02 when the Brits came over to watch the early morning matches, I didn't actively root against them (except against Argentina and Brazil) but that's not the same as actively rooting for them (but I guess you could say that I was actively rooting against Portugal). And so, of course, they blow it as soon as I join their side. Sven insisted on using the 4-5-1 again. Lampard finally got a shot on net, but it was right at the keeper. blah blah blah, then the Rooney Incident.

This kid needs some anger management classes. That was obvious before this game. He just looks like he's going to kill someone. But I've always liked him as a player, even when he jilted Everton for Man U and became a star for England. He's passionate, tough, fast, and incredibly skilled. Leading up to the red card, he had been controlling/protecting the ball impressively against two players on his back. The battle got heated, Carvalho was holding his shirt and using his leg to block Rooney from the ball, Carvalho falls and pulls Rooney down, Rooney gets up and steps on his groin. Intentional? Tough to say. Probably. Didn't look like he "stamped" his nuts, as many are wording it, but it didn't look very accidental either. As a soccer fan I can say that this stuff happens in such a heated battle. As a man, it's absolutely inexcusable. Yellow card? maybe. Though Carvalho definitely should have gotten one for pulling him down by the shirt as well. The ref was right there and it looked like he was just calling a foul. Red card? I don't think so. Then comes The Antichrist, 'ian-Ron, to plead for a card and Rooney pushes him. Yellow card? Unfortunately, probably so. Two possible yellows in a 10 second span equals either a Yellow card or arguably a red card. I haven't heard/read anyone confirm whether he got it for stepping on Carvalho, pushing 'ian-Ron, or both. Regardless, it was an error of youth to allow yourself to be baited into losing your cool that much in a quarterfinal match. You just left your team a man down for the next 60 minutes. 'ian-Ron is trying to do damage control in the British media now, since he has to go back and play there [see comments for update on his future], but you know what kid? We saw that little wink and the snide shush gesture when you came off the field after helping to get Rooney sent off. When they get back to Old Trafford, I hope Rooney stabs 'ian-Ron's pretty boy face like he did to Ribery. Just kidding. I don't know if if was Rooney that stabbed Ribery in the face, but it sure looks like someone did. And I don't really hope that he stabs 'ian-Ron in the face. Black eye might be nice, though [update on Rooney v 'ian-Ronny in comments]. (sorry dewy/cj. I just don't like the way they play.)

France vs. Brazil - The most stunning moment of this match came in the 78th minute when Brazil subbed in Robinho for Kaka. Stunning why? Stunning because I thought Robinho wasn't playing because he was injured. Why would you not play your 2nd or 3rd best player (behind Ronaldinho and Kaka)? Am I the only person who recognized the difference in the way Brasil played with and without Robbie on the pitch. He's match-fit and available and you wait until you're a goal down with 12 minutes left in the match to bring him in. And he had an immediate impact. But there just wasn't enough time for that impact to play out. Would Brazil have won if he had played? I don't know. They definitely looked vulnerable this year, despite flashes of brilliance and wins in all 4 matches. France played great once again. Their defense is tremendous. I still think Barthez is suspect though. It seems as if he's allergic to catching a ball. But he's got decent reaction speed, parrying skills, experience, and confidence. And that might be enough for Les Bleus to Allez. I'm shaving my head ala Zidane for the France - Portugal match.

Current Power Rankings (penalty kicks may advance you in The Cup, but not in the Power Rankings):

1. Germany
1. Argentina
3. France
4. Brasil
5. Portugal
5. England
7. Holland
8. Italy
8. Spain
8. Mexico

lastly, here's a few interesting articles:

- Here is an interesting article on the representation of the power football clubs in this and future World Cups. Chelsea really was everywhere. (also, did anyone else realize that Romario is still playing? I thought he was dead)

- Essien campaigns for Adu to come to Chelsea/Ghana.

- Hope Amid Heartache For Argentina

Au revoir, Selecao.


I'm not ready to comment on this fully, other than to say that both of these teams are absolutely brilliant and it's tragic to have it end like this. but, that's the game. what can ya do. Also, I've given up pretending that I'm going to post about anything but World Cup soccer until the end of the Cup (July 9). Viva Argentina, well played Deutschland. Most likeable German team ever? I don't know if I've ever been so devastated by a loss and simultaneously come away with so much respect for the other team - to the point where they may be my favorite team left in the Cup. What the fuck is happening to me? I'm rooting for Germany now that they've eliminated my beloved Albiceleste. I'm mostly rooting for Brazil but was so taken by France's play in the last match that I'm sort of a little bit rooting for them. And I'm straight up rooting for England against Portugal. If you had told me 3 weeks ago I'd be pulling for Germany, France, and England, I would have Baker Act-ed your ass.

just a heartbreaking loss. but a tremendous Cup.