Monday, June 28, 2010

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Super Mario Score

Original Nintendo is the only gaming system we ever had as a kid. The theme music is forever in my mind.

So, these 103 seconds were quite enjoyable, both for the ingenuity and nostalgia. The multiple coins part made me yelp.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

From The Bowels Of My Brain VII

'Bout time for another "From The Bowels Of My Brain". Wait for it. Wait for it. 5. 4. 3. 2. 1.

And we're off:

>> So far, I think the best part of having a kid is that they can't do anything for themselves. Interestingly, that too is the worst part.

>> Some people just can't take advice.

>> The insert button on a keyboard drives me crazy.

>> I've found that when someone is having difficulty deciding between 2 options, the best thing to do is flip a coin. While it's in the air, or soon thereafter, their actual desire becomes clear.

>> Prediction for next huge diet fad: Tasteless, invisible, calorie-free meals.

>> I wonder if more money has been spent on anything as ugly as those hats they make you wear for graduation ceremonies.

>> I still get slightly more than a smidgen of satisfaction from winning my 8th grade Geography Bee.

>> If you're a waitress under 60 years old and you don't know me, you can't call me "darlin".

>> It seems beer has a monopoly on being "Ice cold"

>> It's impossible for the phrase "y'all come back" to not be accompanied by either "and see us" or "now ya hear"

>> Summer, use a light-weight bed spread. Winter, use a heavy bed spread. Save on heating and cooling year round. Thank me later.

>> Event organizers, adding "palooza" to a regular word for your event name does not make it more appealing.

>> Sleeping is the most boring thing I've ever done.

>> Truth be told, I'm not that big of a fan of U2's music.

>> Two of my new favorite things to say: Bocanegra and vuvuzela.

>> I'd like to use this sentence to question the world's need for Koozies.

>> Sometimes I wipe my lips with the back of my hand and then smell it to see if I have bad breath. #justbeinghonest

That's all for now. I have to go trim my ear hair.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Inside Costco

ABC News did a little feature on Costco.

Nuggets from the piece:
  • Costco never charges more than 14 percent above cost for any item
  • It's the...ninth largest retailer in the world
  • It only carries about 4,000 unique products for sale at any one time. Compare that to a typical supermarket, which carries about 40,000 products, or a Wal-Mart store with about 125,000 products
  • Craziness. Costco snaps up 50 percent of the world's supply of the most popular cashew, selling $300,000 worth of them every week. The only product that sells more is that eternal necessity: toilet paper
I just thought all that was interesting.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Why Americans Don't Like Soccer

From the Brazil-Ivory Coast game, this is Exhibit A for why Americans don't like soccer. It's also why Americans don't like Duke:

Monday, June 21, 2010

America's Relationship With Soccer

"When children in the United States are very young, they believe that soccer is the most popular sport in the world. They believe this because every single child in America plays soccer. It is a rule that they play, a rule set forth in the same hoary document, displayed in every state capital, that insists that 6-year-olds also pledge allegiance to the flag—a practice which is terrifying to watch, by the way, good lord—and that once a year, they dress as tiny pilgrims with beards fashioned from cotton.
Saturdays, every flat green space in the continental United States is covered with tiny people in shiny uniforms, chasing the patchwork ball up and down the field, to the delight and consternation of their parents, most of whom have no idea what is happening. The primary force behind all of this is the American Youth Soccer Organization, or AYSO. In the 1970s, AYSO was formed to popularize soccer among the youth of America, and they did this with startling efficiency. Within a few years, soccer was the sport of choice for parents everywhere, particularly those who harbored suspicions that their children had no athletic ability whatsoever.
The beauty of soccer for very young people is that, to create a simulacrum of the game, it requires very little skill. There is no other sport that can bear such incompetence. With soccer, 22 kids can be running around, most of them aimlessly, or picking weeds by the sidelines, or crying for no apparent reason, and yet the game can have the general appearance of an actual soccer match. If there are three or four coordinated kids among the 22 flailing bodies, there will actually be dribbling, a few legal throw-ins, and a couple of times when the ball stretches the back of the net. It will be soccer, more or less.

Because they all play, most of America's children assume that soccer will always be a part of their lives. When I was 8, playing center midfielder for the undefeated Strikers (coached by the unparalleled Mr. Cooper), I harbored no life expectations other than that I would continue playing center midfielder until such time as I died. It never occurred to me that any of this would change."
- From Dave Eggers at Slate.com.

Read the whole thing here.

Music Monday | Michael Jackson Medley

This week is the one year anniversary of Michael Jackson's passing. This medley is a pretty good effort to pay him respect. Great vocals with impressive production.


Father's Day At The Lake

To celebrate fathers and my first year having a child outside the womb when the calendar got to the Father's Day holiday, we went to my Uncle Terry's place at High Rock Lake. We jetted out of church and rolled down 52, getting there just in time for some good, ground and pattied cow muscle sandwiched between two pieces of leavened bread. 

There were, I think, 10 fathers in attendance. It was a good crowd. Kessler was in a fantastic mood the entire day, well maybe not the entire day (see last photo), but he was a ton of fun. With lots of fun people to play with including his cute cousin, Honey Cate, and a plethora of stimuli, he didn't sleep in his normal patters. He just played and smiled and played and smiled. By the end of the day he was exhausted and just conked out on my chest. I'm not normally sappy, but there was just something about watching my son have one of the funnest days of his short life; play and play and play and then see him get sleepy, pick him up, hold him close and feel his totally relaxed body press into my chest on Father's Day evening.

 My father with his grandbabies
Cute niece, Honey Cate
Playing in the baby pool
Kessler eying a ball!

Poor guy.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Six Months

This past Monday marked six months from the day Kessler let out his first cry. To celebrate this extremely momentous occasion, Kessler got the pleasure of having some puréed butternut squash. Mmmmmm.
 
At first he was a little wary of this mushy orange goodness.

But he eventually warmed up and finished the entire serving.
He was a full, happy boy by the end.
Other than having his sixth cold in as many months, he remains a wonderful little guy. He sits up pretty well and is full of smiles and squeals.  He loves to play in his exersaucer. He tips the scales right at 17 Lbs. and is a little longer than the average sixth month old. And cuter than the average bear.

Friday, June 11, 2010

World Cup | South Africa Team

World Cup | Players To Watch

More getting ready for the World Cup. It starts today!

Here's a list of 25 players to watch out for from Backpage Football:

25 Jesus Navas Spain
A classic winger with excellent speed and dribbling ability, Sevilla’s Jesus Navas has overcome chronic anxiety problems to make himself available for the Spanish national team this summer. Although a starting place in Vicente Del Bosque’s side is highly unlikely, Navas, who has nine goals and ten assists to his name this season, is in line to play a vital role as an impact substitute in South Africa. With players of Navas’ calibre coming off the bench, it’s no surprise that Spain are the overwhelming favourites to lift the World Cup on July 11th.
24 Wesley Sneijder Netherlands
Inter Milan’s midfield dynamo has been a fundamental part of Jose Mourinho’s bid for Scudetto and Champions League glory. After being disposed of from the latest Los Galacticos revolution at Real Madrid, the Dutchman will be lining out in his old stomping ground in May for the European Cup final. A hard working, vibrant midfield player who can score as well as create, Sneijder is a very important player in the Netherlands team.
http://africanfootball.mtnfootball.com/content/Pienaar,%20Steven~2.jpg23 Steven Pienaar South Africa
Pienaar is no doubt one of Everton’s and South Africa’s most talented players, and will be out to do his home nation proud when they host the World Cup this summer. Tricky, and a fantastic player with the ball at his feet, Pienaar is also capable of firing in a shot from anywhere, and is lethal in dead ball situations. There’s talk of him moving elsewhere this summer, and he has the perfect platform to show why clubs around Europe should be interested in him.
22 Steven Gerrard England
After a very disappointing season which saw Gerrard go another year without a medal, and another year without finally getting his hands on the Premier League title, Steven will be keen to go all the way with England. A hugely determined, inspirational player, don’t be surprised to see Gerrard pull the England side by himself in late stages of games such is his ability. A motivated player, there will only be one thing on his mind and that’s winning the trophy.
http://www.straitstimes.com/STI/STIMEDIA/image/20090402/FranckRibery-AP.jpg21 Franck Ribery France
Despite ending the season enveloped in scandal and innuendo, Franck Ribery is still one of France’s key players and his form will be vital if Raymond Domenech’s squad are to prove the doubters wrong in South Africa. A tricky, intelligent wide midfielder, Ribery has struggled to find his best form this season but has shown signs of returning to the top of his game of late, just in time to go to the World Cup.
20 Marek Hamsik Slovakia
Slovakian and Napoli attacker Marek Hamšík has exploded onto the scene this year in the Serie A as one of the best attacking midfielders around. A big summer with unlikely qualifiers Slovakia could set Hamsik up with a move away, possibly to a big European Cup. Marek is a vibrant, creative attacking midfield player who can score a goal or two, especially from long range. He will Slovakia’s most dazzling and talented players this summer.
http://u.goal.com/46100/46166_news.jpg19 Robin van Persie Netherlands
Arsenal striker Robin van Persie missed most of the season with an ankle injury sustained while on Dutch duty, and his absence was clear for all to see. But now that he’s back and raring to go, the front man who is arguably one of the best left footed players in the world will be up for a big summer with his nation. A tricky, vibrant forward who can score from almost anywhere on the pitch, RVP is a player you don’t take your eyes off of. He can score, create and do plenty of damage to even the best defenses.
18 Samuel Eto’o Cameroon
Inter Milan and Cameroon striker Samuel Eto’o has embedded himself well into life in Italy after moving from Barcelona. A part for some spells on the sideline, Eto’o has notched up twelve goals in just under thirty games for Il Nerazzurri. Without doubt Cameroon’s biggest player, Eto’o on his day is a striker to fear and will be amongst the scorers this summer in his home continent.
http://images.football365.com/09/12/247x247/Landon-Donovan-USA_2395520.jpg17 Landon Donovan USA
American talisman Landon Donovon spent a very successful three months in England with Everton this season, so well in fact that there are talks he could be returning next season for another spell in the Premier League. Over the past few years the LA Galaxy attacker has been the USA’s best and most important player as they climb up the soccer ladder. A nation where football isn’t even in its top three sports, Donovon has been a remarkable spokesperson for the game in the States and all eyes will be on his side this summer as football fever hits America.
16 Yoann Gourcuff FranceThe France and Bordeaux star is another rising young attacking midfielder with plenty of ability and craft to do some damage at the World Cup. At just 23, Gourcuff has plenty of experience under his belt at both club and international level, and has been repeatedly linked with a big move away from Ligue Un. With this man on form, he’ll be just as important to Domenech’s side as Ribery.
http://www.as.com/recorte/20080208dasdasftb_7/C280/Ies/Gonzalo_Higuain.jpg15 Gonzalo Higuain Argentina
Against all adds, and millions upon millions of euros, Argentinian striker Gonzalo Higuain still remains Real Madrid’s most potent striker and an integral part of their squad. In such an unpredictable environment, it is unsure whether or not Higuain will be even called up by Maradona ahead of the likes of Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero, but there is no doubt he deserves a place on the plane. Gonzalo has scored a remarkable 25 La Liga goals in just 28 games this season, but his time with La Albiceleste has been limited, with only four caps and two goals. But if he plays, except a handful of goals from the unlikely Galactico.
14 Sergio Aguero ArgentinaAguero is the son-in-law of head coach Diego Maradona, and regarded as the hottest talent on the planet, Atletico Madrid’s star striker is set for a big summer in South Africa. Aguero is a deadly striker with superb movement off the ball, scoring twenty goals this season in Spain. At just 21, Sergio has gained twenty-one international caps for Argentina. The future’s bright for this man, will it explode this summer?
13 Kaka BrazilWhat more could be said for the player Real Madrid spent over €50million last summer? Kaka is without doubt one of the best players on the planet. A dynamic magician who oozes guile and talent, Kaka is in line for another big summer with Brazil as they go on the prowl for an amazing sixth World Cup victory.
12 Andres Iniesta SpainYet another Spanish inclusion, but nobody can disregard the importance of El Ilusionista to Spain and Barcelona, be it from the start or off the bench. Iniesta has grown into one of the most talented players in the world, more then capable of holding his own in amongst the Barça superstars. A home grown talent, Iniesta is creative, extremely industrial and has an amazing knack of playing well anywhere on the field. Just as important a component to Pique at the back, Cassilas in goals or even Xavi alongside him in the centre.
http://brazil.footballblog.co.uk/files/2009/10/Fab-1.jpg11 Luis Fabiano Brazil
Some might be wondering why the Sevilla and Brazil striker is so high in our list, but with such an impressive international goal tally he might be a surprise top scorer in the competition. Fabiano was Brazil’s number one striker at the Confederations Cup last year, as they went all the way. A similar set up this year could see Fabiano amongst the high scorers, but there is no certainty the big man will be given the chance.
10 Carlos Tevez ArgentinaA player that is never short of controversy, it has been a huge season for Carlito at his new home in Manchester. Nobody could have predicted such a campaign for Tevez, who introduced himself to the world with a fine World Cup in Germany back in 2006, before making a shock switch to West Ham. Tevez has netted twenty-three times this season for the blue half of Manchester, and having broken free from the chains that held him back at Old Trafford, Carlos is showing exactly what he is capable. Expect a fine World Cup from this man.
http://www.oleole.com/media/main/images/blogs/images/group1/subgrp12/footballlegends-davi_205616.jpg9 David Villa Spain
Arguably Europe’s most potent striker, Valencia and Spain’s David Villa has enjoyed another superb domestic season, scoring an incredible 21 goals in 30 La Liga appearances. Usually deployed in a strike partnership with Fernando Torres for the national team, his intelligence off the ball and ruthlessness on it will make him a real contender for the Golden Boot in South Africa.
8 Ronaldinho Brazil
The AC Milan forward may have hit a drop in his dazzling career, but you just can’t write off the man who was previously regarded as the best player on the planet. With his sublime trickery and skills, and ability to score amazing goals out of nothing, Ronaldinho will always be a player you just got to look out for wherever he is. Not guaranteed a spot in the starting eleven, but watch out for glimpses of the Ronnie of old this summer.
http://img.skysports.com/08/06/800x600/Xavi_976230.jpg7 Xavi Spain
Barcelona’s creative maestro, Xavi is one of the most consistently brilliant players in world football. With a passing ability second to none, the Spanish midfielder has sublime vision and ability on the ball, talents which allow the players around him to flourish and fulfill their potential. For Del Bosque the equation is simple, if Xavi plays well his team plays well. This could be the tournament which finally affords Xavi the deserved recognition as one of the greatest of all time.
6 Fernando Torres SpainLike most at Liverpool, it was a season of under performance and disappointment for Torres who spent most of the season on the injury table. But that didn’t stop him scoring a mighty fine twenty-two goals in just thirty-two games, showing how lethal a performer he can be even when not at full match fitness. Torres scored the winning goal for Spain in Euro 2008, and will be hoping to take them all the way again with another handful of goals.
http://www.smh.com.au/ffximage/2006/05/18/Drogba_gallery__440x400.jpg5 Didier Drogba Ivory Coast
The Chelsea and Ivory Coast powerhouse has shown this season that he is one of the most clinical and most feared striker on the planet. Drogba is the captain of Ivory Coast, and will be fired up to take his nation as far as they can go, he’s certainly good enough. The Africans are more then capable of going into the knockout stages, so expect the big forward to be amongst the goals and plaudits this summer after what has been a stunning season for Didier.
4 Cesc Fabregas Spain
Arsenal talisman Cesc Fabregas isn’t even guaranteed a starting berth in the Spanish team, such is the depth of their midfield quality, but when he does Cesc usually stands out as an amazing performer, and on his day – one of the best in the world. He holds all the distributing attributes of Xavi, with a fierce attacking instinct that can lead to goals as well as assists. It is hard to believe Cesc is only 22-years-old, he’s been around so long and has matured into one of the finest midfield players on the planet. It won’t be his last World Cup, but in one where Spain are amongst the favourites to go all the way, he’s their one to watch.
http://www.smh.com.au/ffximage/2006/06/19/christianoronaldo_gallery__470x356.jpg3 Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal Number three on our list is the most expensive man ever to trade hands in the world of football, Cristiano Ronaldo. The £80million man is a super-athlete with trickery you cannot imagine, and a strike of a football that no-one can match. Portugal will not be expected to go all the way, but with this man on form don’t rule them out just yet.

2 Wayne Rooney England

Many have regarded the World Cup of 2010 to be England’s best chance to reclaim the trophy the last won in 1966. A team that all over the pitch contains world class quality, and a team on it’s day could be magnificent. But what a bonus if this man could be on top form for the Three Lions, Wayne Rooney. His luck with international competitions has been absent, but after the season he just had if he could reproduce the goals and form then England will go a long way.

http://momento24.com/en/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/messi-argentina.jpg

1 Lionel Messi Argentina

Our number one needs no explanation. The best player in the world, and arguably already one of the greatest of all time. Some people say all he needs now is a World Cup winners medal and he can be named in the same vain as his legendary coach at Argentina. With huge question marks over whether or not Argentina are stable enough to win the competition, Messi will be looked on as the man to take them all the way and cement his name in football history forever.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

World Cup | Teams To Watch

I'm not a huge soccer guy, but I know I'm going to get force fed World Cup coverage by the ESPN family of networks for the next four weeks, so I might as well open wide. 

It kicks off tomorrow at 10am EST with the host country, South Africa taking on Mexico in Jo-burg. It will be quite the spectacle. The big game for us Americans, though, happens Saturday at 2:30pm EST when Team USA trots onto the pitch against the team from the country where people have bad teeth. The referees are learning English curse words specifically for this game. It should be epic. 

Since I'm going to be watching the World Cup, I need to have an idea of which teams to like and which teams to hate. I also want to become somewhat knowledgeable on the different players competing.

SB Nation came up with World Cup Likability Rankings specifically for us American, casual soccer fans (my personal favorite other than the USA is #5):

1. THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. Your country needs you, and there is no debate. If you're not American and looking for a team, may we remind you we have 100% more Hercules now?
2. SOUTH AFRICA: The homeboys not only have sentiment on their side as the beloved hosts, but also boast a spiffy nickname (Bafana Bafana, literally meaning "The boys"), have a player named "Kermit Erasmus," and have a 32-year-old striker named Siyabona Nomvete whose legs might fall off at any second. They also have zero chance of advancing from their group, making them an underdog of unparalleled degree here.
Hair? Pretty standard, and the only weak point in their resume of World Cup Likeability.
3. NEW ZEALAND: Another hopeless underdog with likable quirk. They've only made the tourney once before, take your lame Lord of the Rings jokes well, and will likely flame out in the first round cheerfully. One downside: their team name (the All-Whites) isn't exactly user-friendly for a South African tournament.
4. NIGERIA: Dysfunctional, gifted, and spectacularly coiffed, the Nigerians stand a chance, sure. They also might flame out, fire their manager while stiffing him for six months' back pay, and have their luggage stolen by their own government halfway though the group stage. Nickname "The Super Eagles" can't really be beat; neither can their unpredictable selection of hairstyles. Prone to spurts of hyper-aggressive play and shot-taking from anywhere on the field. Due to chronic mismanagement, may be kicked out of their hotel in the middle of the cup when corrupt officials steal their per diem.
Hair? Braided, popped out in full afro, and spectacularly varied.
5. COTE D'IVOIRE: ESPN might be calling them Ivory Coast, but we here at SB Nation go by the CIA Factbook only in choosing our terminology. Les Elephants may not have Didier Drogba, but they have everything else to love: attacking football, a fantastic jersey, an awesome name, status as an African underdog playing on home soil, and this seal, the greatest in all of international soccer:
Fif_newcrest_medium
Hair? Braided elaborately. 
6. AUSTRALIA: The team your girlfriend or wife will most likely choose due to adorable team nickname, "The Socceroos." Filled with rangy, mean-looking white guys who would not look out of place putting on brass knuckles prepping for a Kentucky barfight. Not very good, but certainly enthusiastic. Don't stand a chance, but can certainly put a pipe in someone else's spokes in the tourney, even if they do so in horrific, ugly fashion. Only team with three marsupials in the starting lineup. Goalie has venomous barbs to protect himself against overly aggressive strikers.
Hair? A team loaded with a few quality half and quarter mullets.
7. SLOVENIA: Another low-probability pick, but one with a spectacular fan cheer: "HE WHO IS NOT JUMPING IS NOT SLOVENIAN HEY! HEY! HEY!" The Dragons score in the nickname department and the celebration one, since the team does a well-coordinated belly slide in times of triumph:
Players-of-slovenia-celeb-001_medium
They also play England in group play, so reserve some concern rays for them even if they'd all probably rather be out pursuing Slovenians' true passion: mountain climbing. In related news, Slovenians are ridiculously well-conditioned, and hate being called Slovakian.
8. GHANA: Have one of the finer nicknames in "The Black Stars." The connaisseur's choice for African squads, since Cameroon is the obvious popular choice after the injury to Cote d'Ivoire's Didier Drogba. Insanely aggressive. Feature three dudes named "Prince," "Junior," and "Sully." Have an Olympic team name of "The Black Meteors," which should count for something here. Are already complaining about accommodations like true divas. If you like geographically skinny countries, Ghana and Chile are your choices.
Hair? Potentially spectacular, and highly variable.
9. SOUTH KOREA: The ADD kids' pick, since the South Koreans attack, attack, and then continue attacking like Asian commuters elbowing each other out of the way on crowded subway platforms. All effort and little defense, so if you like Big 12 football or run-and-gun basketball, the South Koreans are a lock for your affections. Additionally, they have the team logo most easily used as a beer label:
200px-emblem_of_korea_football_association
Korea Football Association Lager: it tries really hard all the time, and offers up no defenses. That's drinkability at its finest, there.
Hair? Floppy and frantic.
10. CAMEROON: Africans, yes, but the aristocracy of African soccer and the continent's team that has gone deepest in the Cup by reaching the quarterfinal in 1990. Makes up for all this unflattering success by being The Indomitable Lions and by having the frenetic Samuel Eto'o, who plays soccer like a rabid chicken trying to kick a balled-up armadillo to death. A quality choice for those looking to back the home continent here.
11. HONDURAS: Big and mean, and just lucky to be there, which is appealing enough on its own. Their president also knows how to wear a cowboy hat properly, and this also earns them enough points as a team you might want to take an enthusiastic but hopeless flyer on in the group stage (and definitely no further).
12. SLOVAKIA: Godfather fans and Sopranos freaks, your team is Slovakia if only because midfielder Marek Hamsik has a fondness for being photographed with mafiosi and bragging out his ability to speed with impunity thanks to "the cops in Naples all knowing who I am." They're also quite stingy with allowing goals, so cheap people, style up with the Slovaks like now. Their fans also drink like fish even by soccer standards, if you're into that. Ironically, don't mind being called Slovenian, because Slovenes are very nice people.
13. CHILE: Don't sleep on Chile, the most tactically complex side according to the geeky and necessary Zonal Marking. They won't advance, mind you, but it should be a fiery and spectacular pyrrhic victory for whomever gets on the end of their goal cannon. Additional selling point: Chile is very long and skinny on the map, so for those fans of geographically anorexic countries there is no other choice.
14. ALGERIA: Boast a fantastic nickname, "The Desert Foxes." Fans capable of extreme violence, as some unfortunate Egyptian fans found out this year when a spat between Egypt and Algeria in soccer resulted in rioting and the delay of oil shipments between the two countries. Goalkeeper Lounes Gaouaoui has what is believed to be the only surname in the world with seven vowels in a row. Don't stand a chance of winning the whole thing, and are generally likable (except when playing the US, of course).
Hair? Close-cropped, because it's hot in the desert and even soccer players have their practical limits.
15. URUGUAY: A charmingly retro pick, since Uruguay did host and win the first World Cup in 1930. A good team to pull for if you love violence, since Uruguay eschews any notion of actually scoring in favor of booting the kneecaps off their opponents and picking up red cards with glee. The Baltimore Ravens of the Cup.
16. PARAGUAY: If you like landlocked countries, this is your bet. Smart uniforms, too, which is nice because the pretty colors liven up their otherwise stultifying style of play. Shots all around if they score two goals, and for three, finish the whole bottle.
17. JAPAN: "Samurai Blue" is a hell of a name, and recent strange roster choices have reduced their chances in the World Cup to increase their general hopelessness here (and therefore their inherent likability). If you lean toward Asian imports for your World Cup adoptees, they remain a fine choice, though not as manic as the South Koreans by any stretch.
Hair? Floppy, and often dyed to match favorite anime characters.
18. DENMARK: Butter cookies. Ohhh, sweet butter cookies. These alone should engender some kind of warmth in your heart for "Olsen's Eleven," as should their general skill and effort despite a thin line. Additional charm: their fans are roligans, the anti-hooligans of Europe and generally beloved among soccer fans.
19. NETHERLANDS: Play in a hypnotic shade of orange, and certainly are very close as teammates. Very, very close:
As favored as they will be in many of the matches, the Dutch remain really likable here for their attacking style of play, and are even more likable now that dive-y forward Arjen Robben is missing at least their first match with a hamstring injury. Nicknames come strong here, too: "The Flying Dutchmen" or "Clockwork Orange."
20. GREECE: If their stagnant style of play weren't enough to cost them points here, their Euro 2004 championship reduced their underdog status to previously unimaginable level. There is an upside to their country's financial ruin, though, since the implosion of the Greek economy and subsequent fallout just made any potential European vacations a lot cheaper. So they've got that going for them, at least.
21. SPAIN: Fans favor rich hams, promiscuity, red wine, and dancing until 3 a.m.. Style of play is goal-friendly, highly skilled, and festive. Obviously gorged with talent from La Liga and blessed with a killer nickname, "The Fury." We're short on downsides because separating the Spanish team from the thought of tasty tapas and going out in Barcelona until six in the morning is clouding our judgment, so yeah: they're too good to be likable, but too sexy to resist.
22. GERMANY: A hard sell based on their skill and popularity, but nasty, aggressive, and precise soccer never loses favor here. Fearsomely nicknamed with a moniker that could double as a metal band name: Die Mannschaft. Otherwise, far too good and predictable to like.
23. ENGLAND: The Notre Dame of international football, forever moaning on about how fantastic 1966 was. If you are American, you may not root for them until after group stage, because tyranny cannot be tolerated. Have Wayne Rooney, the Super Chav who, if American, would hang out with Jared Allen in the offseason killing deer with spears and drinking beer out of cans. Prefer tea to coffee, which is how you lose a global empire in half a century.
24. SERBIA: A nation with a PR problem to start with, Serbia would just like you to ignore words like "genocide" and "sorry for starting World War I" and focus on their burly defender Nemanja Vidic and their coach Raddy Antic, who as a player really did look like the Balkan Christopher Walken. Otherwise...yeah. Serbia's got an uphill battle for your random affections, especially with fellow Yugoslav alumni Slovenia acting all charming and fun over there.
25. ARGENTINA: More likable than they've been in recent years simply for two factors: the incomparable Lionel Messi and the deranged team management of Diego Maradona. On one hand, you have the possibility of watching the greatest footballer alive rip his way through the tourney as no player in recent history has. On the other, you have the possibility of Diego Maradona inserting himself into the game in short shorts and no shirt in the second half of the World Cup final.  Either way, for a dominant favorite they remain remarkably likable and capable of generating chaos in both positive and negative directions, and thus land higher than they might otherwise.
Hair? Shorter than in previous years, and no longer reminiscent of a crew of Nickelback roadies.
26. BRAZIL. The style of play isn't even what it once was: reliant on counter-attacking, and nowhere near the free-dancing sambalero play of the 1970s Selecao. Skill still remains intergalactically unfair at times, but each player has eight girlfriends, each more beautiful than the next, and really there's nothing likable about that kind of level of masculine overkill. (Anything after three is just bad taste, really.) A thing of beauty, yes, but almost alien to our species in terms of the game and how they play it.
27. FRANCE: Likability factor very, very low as they've won the Cup before, made the final in 2006, and are generally successful and very, very French about it. Coming off one of the more controversial qualifiers in European history where Thierry Henry's blatant handball caused an international political furor. Final nail in likability: French. Only real selling point? Their coach is functionally insane, and relies on astrology to determine lineups.
28. MEXICO: Mexico may not be pulled for at any time unless you are actually Mexican. If they play Italy somehow, root for a meteor to strike the stadium. There are no exceptions to this rule.
29. ITALY: Fantastically talented returning World Cup champs, and therefore near the bottom of the likability rankings instantly. They'd be here anyway for being diving, theatrical, and possessed with some of the stupidest goal celebrations of all time. (If I see one more Italian soccer player suck his thumb, I will RPG the nearest television.) They need no help from you or anyone else, because they are very good, very beloved by their home country, and everything bad Americans mock about the sport of soccer.
30. THE DEMOCRATIC PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF KOREA: You just can't. I know, it might be ironic, like the asshole hipster wearing a CCCP jacket to watch a match. Aren't the players trying just because they love the game? Sure they are, but they're not going over the fence to defect because the DPRK's government probably has their relatives under armed guard while they're abroad, and would do horrific things to them if they left. You might joke, "Ha ha, Italy's evil," but no, you can actually say "The DPRK is evil." It's a fact, and as a fan, rooting for them is simply not done no matter how many layers of irony you pile onto it.
NOT LISTED:
PORTUGAL. No data found for "likability."
SWITZERLAND. We remain neutral regarding the Swiss.


Monday, June 07, 2010

Friday, June 04, 2010

From The Bowels Of My Brain VI

It's time for. Another. Batch of unrelated thoughts. We like to call "From The Bowels Of My Brain".

Get your ski poles out.

>> People's choice of books to display on their coffee tables is fascinating.

>> I recently decided I hate drawers.

>> You know how they say to always wear clean underwear. Another way around that is to always wear brown underwear.

>> We do it so often that we forget what a delightful experience drinking milk is.

>> It's funny how saying the opposite of whatever is happening is funny.

>> Glove Compartments need a new name.

>> Can I just be honest for two seconds? A fork makes a really good head and back scratcher.

>> Nothing can unite people better than a song.

>> If you're looking for something that's consistently funny, it's hard to beat pictures of babies holding alcohol.

>> Well-told stories give you the best chance of initiating change.

>> If "Google" was instead named "Akhabbarabbadia", it wouldn't be nearly as popular.

>> Next time you hear someone say something like, "What we do do is..." immediately interrupt them and say, "You just said doodoo." and laugh like a middle school boy.

>> When a wedding officiant says, "What symbols have you brought...?", he is deceiving you. He always knows what they brought.

That's all for now. Don't do drugs.