Monday, 30 June 2008

Happily It Ends

So, the football finished on Sunday. Well, the EM part of it anyway. There were some great games along the way. And there were games where France took part.

My prediction for the final was that, though I wanted Spain to win, I was sure Germany would manage to grind another one out. Apparently I didn't realise Torres was due his second goal of the Tournament or that the Spanish defence would be quite so tenacious.

Ballack of Germany has had a pretty tragic year, possibly in ways that only a great footballer could have: lost the Premier League on the last day, lost the Champions League Final, lost the League Cup Final and knocked out of the FA cup in the quarter finals. To that list he can now add losing in the final of Euro 2008. If I were able to feel sorry for a multi-million-pound player for Chelsea and Germany, now would be the time.

I'm Back!

Last week was mostly a training event and then sickness (well, a bad head cold or virus or something, I believe the popular term is man-flu). Hopefully posting will be back to normal once I've got back up to speed.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Brunnbach Aftermath

The BluesBerries latest gig was not without it's technical hitches (because of the structure of the event we didn't get a really satisfactory sound check) but the music was solid and occasionally spectacular. Of course, I always say something like this, but the moment it stops being true is when I'll stop saying it.

We had a good crowd, I'd guess there were over a hundred people. They weren't particularly there for us as there was a race event earlier — our first set was split in two by the prize giving. Plenty of people stayed for us, though, and at least a couple of tables rowdily cheered us on much to my delight.

I've just heard that there are some excellent photos of the gig, and I hope to get them in the next few days, so I'll say more when I can post some pics.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

No Córdoba, Then

Gary Lineker once described football as "a match between two teams of 11 men and Germany wins on penalties". Well, they didn't need penalties last night. I like to think my prediction was roughly right, I didn't attempt to predict the result, although in the end it was all too predictable.

What I didn't foresee, however, was Austria's complete lack of anything resembling a striker. They played some very fine football, their passing tended to be accurate and they could put lovely crosses in to the box all night. The problem was that there was never anybody who could shoot on the end of that cross.

A pity. But a decent game never-the-less.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Football: Austria Vs Germany

The Scots will tell you that they only support two International teams: Scotland and anybody playing against England. The English, meanwhile, tend to ignore Scotland, partly to annoy the Scots but partly because they don't care, and concentrate on holding grudges against some of the innumerable teams who have knocked them out of a major tournament, Argentina, say, and, of course, Germany.

Wanting German teams to lose isn't a pastime that's limited to the English, however. In his book "Football Against the Enemy" Simon Kuper claims that over half the dutch population took to the streets to celebrate when Holland beat Germany in 1988.

The Austrians will tell you that they've been hating the Piefke longer and more venomusly than anybody. Well, that's debatable, but what isn't debatable is that there's been a lot of talk of "Córdoba" recently.

Córdoba, for those without a nearby Austrian to clear things up for you, is the site of a famous Austrian victory over the West Germany in 1978, their second in forty seven years, which knocked the Germans out of the World Cup. Hans Krankl netted two that day, ensuring himself legendary status in Austria.

Schadenfreude, as the ritual explanation goes, is a very German word, despite the fact that enjoyment at others misfortune is not limited to the Germans at all. And joy at Germany's misfortunes can seem like a universal constant outside of Germany itself. So it is that many Austrians are looking forward to tonight's match with giddy expectation. Howard Webb may, or may not, have gifted them a point with that penalty decision (it is to be hoped that he never needs his plumbing fixed again after earning the contempt of the entire Polish nation -- ignoring the fact that their goal was offside), but the country feels that it is on a roll. And that they're playing at home. And they've been playing well. And that, really, if Croatia can beat them, then it really is their turn. And it's about time.


Well, good luck to them. With enough luck they might just do it.

I predict that they will start off quickly using what pace they have to try and catch their opponents napping. They will fade after twenty minutes and spend the rest of the half defending. Austria will need to score a goal in that first 20 minutes because Germany will grind them down in the second 25.

The second half will be something like the reverse of the first. A Ballack-led German team will keep relentless pressure on the Austrians for much of the match. In the last fifteen minutes or so minutes Austria will get something like a second wind and again try to use what pace they have against the Germans, perhaps scenting a historic victory or just seeking a consolation goal.

I'm not going to predict the result, I just hope that it's a fun, fair match.

The 50 Worst Sex Scenes In Cinema

I usually dislike lists as a form of content, but this one is hard to disagree with.

Friday, 13 June 2008

Link Dump

Just because...

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Top 10 Philosophers' Deaths

You get the feeling that a list with the title "Top 10 Philosophers' Deaths" shouldn't really exist, or at least the number should be smaller. But it seems something about being a philosopher does lead itself to eccentricity:
3. Chrysippus (280-207BC)
Perhaps the greatest of the Stoics. There are two stories of his death, both involving alcohol. In the first, he took a draught of sweet wine unmixed with water, was seized with dizziness and died five days later. But the second is even better: after an ass had eaten his figs, he cried out to an old woman, "Now give the ass a drink of pure wine to wash down the figs". Thereupon, he laughed so heartily that he died.

I'm sure his line loses something in the tranlation.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Slow Posting

I'm just a little busier than usual at the moment. No crisis or anything, I just don't have a great deal of time to think about a post for this blog. I'll try and get something through every now and then. But, please,expect posting to be a little light for now.

This probably means I'll find three really interesting things today and post on all of them, just for irony's sake.

Until then enjoy this thing I missed a few days back: Shatner vs Kirk a video for Bill's Common People made out of bits of Star Trek: The Animated Series.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Hypocrisy: A Republican Luxury?

For those who keep up on the American Right's hypocrisy when it comes to matters sexual —if a Republican politician ever vehemently denouces gay marriage (or whatever) it's a fair bet that he unwinds at night by having a rent boy tongue his balls—, or are even vaguely aware, what Teresa Nielsen Hayden says here is not new. It is, however, well said and all in one place, with links to further reading.
Remember the endless, salacious coverage of the Monica Lewinsky incident, and all the politicians who professed to be shocked that such a thing had happened? Not one of them was shocked. Not a single one. And that's not because Clinton was particularly randy. It's because most of their personal lives were as bad or worse, and all the Washington insiders knew it.

The Monica Lewinsky thing was not about morality, outing hypocrisy, or Clinton sullying the Office of the President. It was an attempt at an extra-Constitutional power grab. The Gingrich Republicans were furious that Clinton had gotten elected. I'm afraid they didn't hold the will of the voters sacrosanct.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

In Defense Of Auto-Tune

In The New Yorker Sasha Frere-Jones looks at Auto-Tune (the thing that made Cher's voice all warbly in that track) and sees it as if not exactly a necessary evil then an evil that has as much place in music as any other.
[T]here is nothing natural about recorded music. Whether the engineer merely tweaks a few bum notes or makes a singer tootle like Robby the Robot, recorded music is still a composite of sounds that may or may not have happened in real time. An effect is always achieved, and not necessarily the one intended. Aren’t some of the most entertaining and fruitful sounds in pop —distortion, whammy bars, scratching— the result of glorious abuse of the tools?