Friday, July 29, 2011

Nerdistan: Harry Potter 7.2 Review

So, my 12 years of Harry Potter fandom are at an end. It's been a fun ride, but the ending wasn't exactly perfect. While I thought the movie did a passable job of adapting the book, the problem is that book had an ending almost as drawn-out as The Lord of the Rings*. Harry died more times than Richard Nixon's career**. But here are a few points you might've missed:

  • This was the first HP movie to feature a gratuitous cleavage shot -- the camera zoomed in Hermione after the freefall. It was like accidentally seeing cleavage of a friend's young daughter -- kind of weird
  • Hermione trying to be Bellatrix Lestrange was pretty awesome -- that Helena Bonham Carter sure can act.
  • The Harry Potter movies are probably the only movies of the last decade to be set in the "modern world" AND to have no cell phones. Teens NOT texting? Kinda surreal
  • Did anyone else think it odd that the teens were facing a war for their existence, yet they took time to express their long-suppressed feelings of love? If not, why don't we see these kids of scenes in war movies?
  • I'm thinking Harry would have about 2 months of adulation in front of him before the Brit tabloids turned on him and started claiming that he was in league with Voldemort
  • Dumbledore got off easy in the movie -- none of the shadiness that was in the book.  Also, unsurprisingly, none of the hints of his homosexuality, either.  Odd, those not appearing in a major movie in fairly homophobic America.  Hmmmm.

Finally, a big shout-out to Tobias for the word "Nerdistan"!

* Not a good harbinger for the upcoming endings to Wheel of Time or A Song of Ice and Fire. At least for the latter we won't have to worry about that for a few decades
** A "Dave Barry Slept Here" reference. If you haven't read it, you damn well should.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Overreact Much?

So, US Soccer canned Bob Bradley today. While I'm not shocked, it's kind of a bit late -- the Gold Cup is done. After all, World Cup qualifying is usually a breeze for the USA, and I don't see what else has changed in the last 12 months since the World Cup. It seems like this is a knee-jerk reaction to the loss to Mexico. Which I understand, but will it really change the problems with the US team? Will the next coach magically change US Soccer at the youth levels so that attention is given to players based on ability and not their ability to pay? And which coach are we going to get to replace him?

On the bright side, an impulse firing after a loss is a sign of soccer's increasing importance in US sports!

Cologne Photos

I met a friend in Cologne last week for dinner, and we took a post-meal stroll along the Rhine and up a skyscraper with a nice view of the city. FBers go HERE for photos

O Brother, Where Art Thou Facebook Status Updates

I do love "O Brother, Where Art Thou" -- not a bit, but a lot. Easily one of my favorite flicks, while rewatching it I realized how filled it is with great Facebook status updates. Some of my favorites:
JT ...
is a Dapper Dan man
is in a tight spot
is gonna R-U-N-N-O-F-T
isn't here to make a record, you dumb cracker
is mass communicatin'
was bad til yesterday, but me and Pete been saved
hates cows worse than coppers
loved him up and turned him into a ... horny toad*
needs a shot in the arm -- the goddamned arm!

The rest will have to wait until the next time I watch!

* This one is better for women -- or gay guys.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Kirmes 2011 Part 2

More Kirmes photos!

Snarky Serendipity

So I'm at the monthly Expat Meetup at O'Reilly's last night, talking to this Japanese* woman. We exchange the usual pointless small talk, "How long have you been in Düsseldorf?", etc. That's when we have this exchange:

Her: Where are you from?
Me: Texas
Her: Oh? Is it dangerous there?
Me: What do you mean? (I'm assuming she's referring to the usual foreign concept of everyone in Texas packing heat, all the time)
(At this point my Mexican buddy Alberto walks up to join the conversation)
Her, whispering: Because of the Mexicans

Now, this is like Christmas come early to a smartass like me. Had Alberto not just walked up, I might've answered seriously. Instead...

Me, pointing to Alberto: Yeah, those Mexicans make it terrifying for everyone.

She then realizes what she's said and goes into hyper-apology mode. This is clearly mortifying to her, but Alberto was a gentleman and immediately let her off the hook by saying it was no big deal. I would not have been so kind!

* This will be a material detail to the story

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Though They May Be Rat-Like In Appearance...

... Truly, the are kings among men -- Homer J Simpson on carnies. FBers go HERE for photos & video!

Another year, another Kirmes. Lots of crowds, but disappointingly few mullets. Sigh.

Here's a bit of Petula Clarke to either a) get you fired up or b) give you a hint about the project you're working on:

Monday, July 18, 2011

Nerdistan: A Dance With Dragons Review

For a nerd, I came fairly late to George R. R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire*" series, known to most as the source for HBO's "Game of Thrones". I finally read the first book 2 years ago and the rest last year, so I "only" waited a year for book 5 -- "real" fans have been waiting for 5 years. Well, I finished it yesterday after a manic week of reading. Here are my thoughts, with spoilers at the end (and hidden, I think).

I'd rate it as the 3rd best of the books behind books 1 and 3 (my favorite). While it focuses on my 3 favorite characters, it leaves EVERYONE in a cliffhanger. And one of those cliffhangers is suspiciously similar to how Davos's story ended in "A Feast for Crows" (Book 4, and my least favorite).
My favorite characters are Bran, Jaime, Tyrion and (surprisingly) Asha. Only one of these has a strong book, but I liked it anyway.
I loved the Bran chapters and how he may (or may not) have been in several others. But we waited too damn long to get stuck with just 4 or so POVs from the boy wonder.

If you're trying to get a role as a POV character in the series...

DRAGONS! Finally!

After ending the previous book with talk of a major conspiracy, there was exactly 0 progress or mention of this. Pretty freakin' disappointing.

The Melisandre POV was a letdown ...


All Martin's talk of the Meereenese knot ...

Why on Earth would Jon think ...

The Horn of Joramun ...

* Yeah, I think the title is a bit pretentious, too
** Prince That Was Promised, whatever
*** Actually, Jaime is turning into a heck of a negotiator. It helps when everyone thinks that you're enough of an asshole to kill everyone

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Dead Blogging Women's World Cup 2011: USA - Japan

So, some thoughts on the final of the WWC 2011:
  • If you live in a city with an inordinately large Japanese population, 2 words: house party. I can't say that all Japanese fans shriek loudly every time that their team is in a threatening position, but the ones at Fatty's definitely did.
  • On the bright side, this only happened 6 or 7 times. On the down side, Japan scored on two of these
  • Courtesy of Big T: FIFA needs to institute a rule that hitting the post 5 times in a match is a goal. The USA would've won 2-1 or 3-1 in regulation if this were the case
  • In a World Cup final, screwing with the ball in front of your goal is a BAD idea. Both Japan goals were courtesy of the USA not clearing well.  Who clears the ball ACROSS the goal?
  • Based on how much more confident the same players were on their PKs vs Brazil and vs Japan, I'd say that momentum is kind of huge. The USA had 5 fairly unstoppable kicks against Brazil and not even 1 against Japan*. 
  • That kick save by the Japanese keeper was pretty awesome.  Especially because she looked pretty lost for most of the game
  • Having a sign that says "Hope Solo is the Bomb" is a bit insensitive when the USA plays Japan. At least spell it "da Bomb"**

* Wambach's was going to get saved if the keeper guessed right
** That suggestion courtesy of Big T!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Famous For Fifteen... Frames

Andy Warhol* overestimated a bit! I'm the blue blur on the left!

* Have I mentioned how much I dislike Warhol? I think he was a complete tool -- and not a great artist

Happy Birthday Sean!

For my boy Sean, an interview with his current dream woman, Hope Solo. Not only is she hot, but she's wicked* tough -- talks here about making a save that ended with her arm torn open to the bone. Good times!

* That's for all youse bostonians

Justifiable Shoplifting

I'm in line at the grocery store yesterday around 6pm. The line is HUGE, because everyone and their brother wants to buy food so they can eat dinner before going out on Friday*. I ask the cashier if she can call someone else to help, and she says, "no, everyone is off -- their shifts are over."** I immediately think back to when I was working at Hastings, and our shifts just went longer if there were too many customers. I then drifted into fantasizing about just putting my intended-purchases**** into my backpack, sneaking out, and enjoying my food bought with the five minutes I wasted. Instead, I waited my turn and paid out.

All stories lead somewhere. "Somewhere" for this story just happened to mean "nowhere".

* Or so I'm assuming
** Maybe my German isn't so shitty*** if I can say/understand all this
*** Kidding! It really is so shitty
**** Frozen pizza, wine, chocolate and cookies to make a graham cracker crust

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Instant Gratification -- German-Style

I saw a cheap mountain bike on eBay and wanted to buy it. I've not bought anything from German eBay, so I need to sign up. I go through the whole process and get a screen that says they will send me a verification code. Ok, no problem. Via snail mail. Seriously? For an auction site? I shouldn't be surprised -- this is the country where the "last-minute" sale fares on train tickets stop being sold THREE DAYS before a trip. Sigh...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Women's World Cup 2011: USA - France Photos

The USA made the semifinals a mere 45 minutes from the 'dorf -- of course I'll be there! FBers go HERE for photos and video!

So, the USA topped France to make the semis of the Women's World Cup. It wasn't always pretty, but the USA dominated the 1st and last 20 min of the match -- and got the goals. Which is what matters, so they'll face Japan in the final on Sunday. Clearly, I'll be cheering for the USA. I'm betting most of the crowd will be cheering for Japan, for 2 reasons: sympathy for the Fukushima disaster and they don't want the USA to have 3 titles to Germany's 2. No matter, USA! USA! USA!

Just to prove I'm not a complete homer, here's a video of an uncalled handball by the USA's Carli Lloyd:

Monday, July 11, 2011

Women's World Cup 2011: Germany - France Photos

FBers go HERE for photos. Sure, it's a week late, but better late than never, right? Right?

FIFA Needs a Fact-Checker

In their info page on Mönchengladbach, the nearest host city for the 2011 Women's World Cup, FIFA claims "The first settlements in the Monchengladbach area date back approximately 300,000-400,000 years." Now, according to never-inaccurate* Wikipedia, homo sapiens have only been around for 500,000 years. And even at 200,000 years ago, the earliest evidence** for homo sapiens was found in Ethiopia. Personally, I'm not at all surprised that Sleazy Sepp & co. have managed to suss out previously-unknown info about humanity -- after all, his organization has been scandal-free for at least 20 minutes.

* Note the sarcasm. Especially since we all know God created the universe only 6,000 years ago!
** Source: "My Life" by Dick Clark

Sunday, July 10, 2011

My LIGHT Is Leaking?

FBers go HERE for video. It's always comforting when you see water coming out of a light. My landlord was especially pleased to see this on a Sunday afternoon.

Women's World Cup 2011: Holy Flurking Schnitt!

Was our basic reaction when Japan scored a beautiful goal deep into extra time (FBers go HERE for links & video). Germany had dominated the 45 minutes we watched with the exception of one or two decent chances by Japan. Unfortunately for the host(esses?) and two-time defending champs, Japan buried a half-chance. The ref, however, was not going to call a penalty for anything short of a Last Boy Scout-style shooting -- she let more shoving go on than happens on a rush-hour subway. In extra time, both teams gave up on subtlety and just started throwing each other to the ground. Good times!

In case you wanted the Kang (Kodos?) quote set to music, here you go:

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Dorf Graffiti!

The walls of the train overpass near my apartment have some pretty cool graffiti, including a cool mural of the X-Men as little kids (that I kept forgetting to photograph, and now it's gone). But yesterday was, apparently, the day to change it. So here's a sneak peak of the new street art

And I think that "graffiti" looks wrong no matter which combination of multiple "f"s and "t"s you put in.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Women's World Cup Live Blogging: USA - Sweden 1st Half

It's been a while, but live blogging is back! Time "stamps" are my local time.

8:41 - What's the protocol on standing for the anthem when I'm on my couch? I'm pretty sure the Founding Fathers would want me to remain on my ass. So I will.

8:44 - Having attended the France-Germany game last night, I'm curious to see if either of these teams can defend against headers on set pieces. Because the Germans and French BOTH sucked at it. If either team had given up on scoring and just tried to win corners, they easily could've scored 10 goals.

8:46 - Our first "kick it to nowhere" play of the day, or "the Canadian" as it's called in women's soccer.

8:50 - The US women appear to have a strategy of "get in a dangerous position, then pass to the Swedes." It's a bold strategy, let's see how it works out for them.

8:52 - Wow. The US got incredibly lucky when the Swedish attacker was so distracted by Hope Solo's hotness that she shot right at her in a 1-on-1. At least, I'm betting that's what Sean thinks is the explanation.

8:58 - Some nice work by the USA, but Abby Wambach forgot that the near post is always shut down.

8:59 - Lepeilbet is lucky to only give up a penalty and a yellow when she drags down the Swedish woman alone in the box.

9:00 - Solo is doing a great job of wasting time before the PK, even getting the ref to make her put her toes on the line. Doesn't matter, though, as the kick was perfect.

9:02 - The Swedish fans celebrate by doing the annoying "7 Nation Army" cheer. I hate that.

9:04 - Wambach had a great play to set up ???, but it's just wide.

9:07 - The German announcer either didn't learn all the American names or they all look the same, since every long ball is "für Wambach"

9:10 - I thought that was a great quick header to Solo by the USA defender, but she didn't see it. SO, more embarrassing than great.

9:14 - This is turning into one of those nightmare games (see: World Cup 2010, USA men) where the USA dominates the ball and the chances, but manages not to score.

9:16 - Rodriguez misses the chip over the keeper (while being held by her defender).

9:20 - Ugh. Lepeilbet is taking over the Agoos role. The free kick ricochets off her to flat foot Solo. The announcer thinks the Swedes are playing "super" but the 2 goals have been off USA mistakes (the first was set up by a missed header). The Swedes are playing OK, but the Americans are making them look much better.

9:23 - The Swedes apparently play Australian Rules Football. They've been clocking the US players at every opportunity, but the ref apparently feels that body blows when you don't go for the ball aren't yellow-worthy.

9:27 - The USA has apparently given up on anything except long crosses. Which would be fine if they were playing against France or Germany, but Sweden apparently expected this.

9:32 - The announcer is now going on about Sweden playing with a self-belief, a surety. Also with the willingness to foul at all times.

So, 2nd half. Not sure I'll blog, as it's been a bit less mockable than the men's games. Perhaps this explains why:

Monday, July 04, 2011

Work Problems -- Hip Hop to the Rescue

Is your boss hassling you because you're late with a presentation/project/deliverable/happy ending*? Well, here are some helpful phrases to ensure that your manager will be ok with the delay:

"I don't think you're ready for this jelly"
"Well, boss, you know pimpin' ain't easy, right?"
"I'm bustin' my ass on this -- I got 99 problems, bein' a bitch ain't one."
"I'm just double-checking everything, I feel that anything less than the best is a felony"

Any suggestions?

* According to Google Analytics, I had some hits from "shady masseuses"** last month, so I'm trying to expand my market share.
** I'm serious!

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Not Even Oxford Gives A F%$* About An Oxford Comma

FaceBookarinos go HERE for the video.

Now that Oxford University doesn't support Oxford commas, the only people who still care are Grammar Nazis, pretentious anglophones,* and bloggers desperate for post material.

* In case you were wondering, the comma before the footnote is an Oxford (or serial) comma. I'm pretty sure that this bit of actual information is a first for my blog.

Goodbye, Ice Cave

See you next year!


And, yes, that is a bottle of vodka and some Thin Mints. What can I say? I'm a classy guy.


I HATE moving. I don't dislike it, I actually hate it. This goes a long way to explaining why I've been in the same apartment for five years. When I was in Dallas I had a semi-firm rule about not helping people move -- just hire movers. But in Germany, I've managed to be roped into helping with 4 moves (though two of those I did about as little as humanly possible). So when Kaisi asked me to help her move the same weekend I was in Amsterdam, I was thrilled to weasel out of it. Unfortunately, this got postponed to yesterday and I was stuck with no legitimate excuses. But here are the three I considered:

  1. I'm out of town -- I've been traveling so much that this seemed believable, but Kaisi knew I was in town this weekend. Dammit.
  2. I have friends visiting -- I didn't want her to call my bluff on this one. Then I would be a liar AND a friendless loser. Not a good combo, just ask former Congressman Weiner.
  3. I reinjured my ankle -- Again, it's getting caught out that killed this one. And if she asked me to just come hang out and heckle Berti, I would've been forced to fake a limp.
Any suggestions?  I need to be prepared the next time one of my friends is too cheap to hire movers.

Friday, July 01, 2011

A Solution To Boring Sports Playoffs

After the Dear Leader invented invisible cell phones to communicate with the brave players on North Korea's men's World Cup team, I thought they were out of entertainment potential. I never should've doubted the Dear Leader & company's ability to bring the laugh laugh! Because they're back! After losing to the USA 2-0 in the opening game of the Women's World Cup, the North Korean coach blamed their poor play in the second half on... his players being hit by lightning. A month ago. But the very fact they could play was indicative of "very strong will". Damn straight.

But, what do we care? I think that North Korea should get an automatic bid into ALL team sports playoffs -- World Cup, Rugby World Cup, MLB/NBA/NHL/NFL playoffs, whatever. Put 'em against the top seed in the first round and enjoy the fun! Can you imagine Mark Cuban's blog posts during a series?

As always, you're welcome for another brilliant idea!

2011 WWC - France v Canada

Tonight at the gym, I finally caught some of the WWC going on here in lovely Deutschland. Here are my thoughts on France-Canada.

Canada's strategy was based on 3 points:

  1. Kick the ball hard -- The Canucks* played a "direct" style -- they would kick it downfield and hoped that something good would happen. This was ineffective for my team when I was 6, and it had the same result for the Canucks.
  2. Play with the ball in front of your goal -- This was a specialty of my high school teammate Beston, and it had the same result here: the other team scores and everyone yells at you.
  3. Play the ball into space -- This is actually a solid technique, unless you speak Canucklish, where "space" means "the feet of the opposing team".

France's strategy was much simpler:
Let the Canadians screw up. This worked well, as the Canadians screwed up like Huey Long voted -- early and often**.

So, supposedly the Canucks were a pre-tournament title hopeful. Based on the 20 minutes I saw, I'd say they have 2 chances: Jack and Shit -- and Jack just left town.

* If you're offended that I refer to them as "Canucks", I don't care. I was offended by their suckitude.
** Maybe it wasn't Huey Long who popularized this phrase, but he was a shady Louisiana politician, so I'm going with it.