images are ready

woohoo! found a really cool script called bbips to handle scaling down all my images. I’ve replaced all the big ones from before with blog-friendly pics, so scroll down and take a gander at them all happy on one page. And I’ll get some more up here asap too!

new time zone

holy crap, two days without soccer!  In a row.  It’s not my fault, I suppose they’re giving the teams a quick breather before jumping into the quarter-finals.  Yesterday I travelled for someodd 24 hours from Hamburg back to happy Portland town.  Nice to be home, but I miss the adventure some.  Now I have to mow the lawn and go back to work and watch the games on tv with maybe 20 people instead of tens of thousands.  But the love among those 20!  Yeah.
So, tomorrow is the beginning of the quarter-finals.  I have to get up nine hours earlier now to catch the games.  But it’ll be well worth it!  Between the super-exciting matchup between Deutschland and Argentina (plenty of shots of Maradonna and Klinsman I’m sure, probably a few side-by-sides, maybe FIFA will stage a hug or a handshake) and screaming at the Italians flopping like Mike Patton’s goldfish it should be an exciting day.  I’m going to hold on to my Germany prediction.

So where’ve been the hotspots for watching the games?  I’m gravitating towards the Cheerful Tortoise, though I’m trying to talk some buddies into heading to the Red Wing.  Maybe I’ll go there for the second.

As far as photos, I’ve loaded them onto my ‘puter, but haven’t begun the arduous task of making them smaller yet.

Day 8 – Berlin with Uli

I arrive Friday late afternoon. We drink coffee at his house and ride the train to the city. My card is not working so I have no money. We drink beer on the train, many people do. Often there are little stores conveniently located to sell one a bottle of beer. Not many cans here. We walk around and have what appears to be lebanese food, similar to a doner. Which is not too different than gyros bot more cabbage and sometimes different bread.

me and Uli
The coffee and beer have made our bladders short. The day is beautiful, we piss a lot. And drink much beer as we walk around Berlin, stopping at another shop for a walking beer. We take the train to Potsdammer, piss in an empty lot…there is a ton of construction around Berlin. We walk to the Fanmille after picking up another beer, where we watch France workover Togo. We drink beer there and piss in the woods, then walk to a nearby pub with a nice garden. They close at one, and unsure what to do we wander a bit, drinking a beer, and decide to visit a party of Uli’s students, who’d graduated that day and arranged a club in which to celebrate.

Downstairs and hot, it was a happening clu, with three bars, two dance rooms, a movie/social room (similar to the Bar of the Gods) room, and a relaxed room. We drank, talked, danced, and smoked all night, riding the train (runs all night!) and crawling into bed at 6:30.

Abstract probability and the World Cup champion

I predict Germany will be the winner of the world cup this year. And here is my proof.

Word on the street is that Brazil is favored and I accept that. But is their probability better than 50% to win? I think not. Thus, we must say that a team other than Brazil should win.

Looking at the field, Germany seems to be the strongest and carry the greatest odds.

As I have already proven that Brazil will not win but will fall to a worthy opponent, and that of the teams in the match who are not Brazil Germany is strongest, we have now determined that Germany will carry the cup home the short drive from Germany to Germany.

Day 5 – playing with the Germans

Heads up, I’m just posting these as I have time and in whatever order I feel like. If you’re hoping for up-to-the-minute scores, check out FIFA’s website. Lunched with Nina’s family, had the white asparagus so popular here for the first time. It was really good and made my piss smell different that regular asparagus. Then off to Lasser’s for sone BBQ with some friends and to watch Germany play Ecuador. Both teams were going through and Germany dominated, so the game wasn’t very exciting.

me and the team

After the game I got to play some soccer with Tobi and Lasser’s club team, a semi-final match. They didn’t have enough jerseys so I was honored to sport the German national jersey, the only one out. We all enjoyed the irony, especially as it was suggested that I not talk since there would be no Americans in this league.

the clay pitch

I was astonished that the turf we were to play on was a red clay. Just touching it took skin. We went up 1-0 in the first half and held it through the game, which was played largely in the center of the field. I mostly played defense but got 5-10 minutes at forward in which I beat the keeper (too intent on pushing me out of the way to go for the ball) on a corner for a header off the crossbar. Also a nice turning cross, returned just a step ahead of me…oh, so close! Overall, I think I did pretty well for an American.

After the game we sang….fee-nahl-uh—oh-ay-oh from time to time and had some beers. It seems that German fields all have locker rooms with showers and such for both teams. We don’t even get toilets in the US at most fields.

And then back to Lasser’s to watch England v Sweden, and exciting game. Though both teams were almost certainly through (a drastic upset by Trinidad & Tobago could put them through in some outcomes), they were yet to determine who plays Germany and who gets Ecuador in the next round.

The game ended a tie with solid play from both sides, and some really nice goals. Rooney looked pissed after he was pulled, thogh they didn’t show his face when his replacement scored.

My picks

Okay…they’re late, but these are my predictions from this round on.

Germany v Sweden – Germany
Argentina v Mex – Argentina
Eng v Ecu – Eng
Por v Hol – Hol
Bra v Ghana – Brazil
Ita v Aus – Italy
Spa v Fra – Spain
Ukr v Switz – Switerland

Ger v Arg – Germany
Bra v Spa – Brazil
Switz v Ita – Switzerland
Hol v Eng – Holland

Ger v Switz – Germany
Brazil v Netherlands – Brazil

3rd – Netherlands
1st – Germany

Um. I guess I have the Netherlands going too far.

Day 10 – wtf was that? (Portugal v Netherlands)

On the way to the Fan Fest downtown Hamburg I saw a woman jogging in a turquoise Ramones T-shirt. Something was about to happen.

Tobi started singing ‘yellow — yellow — yellowred’ and I joined it. Just a made-up song for the game, early in the second half. But that described it. Four red cards, all of them double yellows, and I felt mostly ridiculous. In fact, there were a couple red cards I felt would be deserved, but they didn’t get raised. In particular Sneidjur’s retaliatory tackle against Deca well into the second half. We were figuring 10 minutes of extra time would be added on at the end for all the time lost due to cards and injury, but the ref wanted to go home and limited to 6 minutes.

Rain fell in Hamburg and they moved us from the bleachers.

portugal fans

It is games like this that make it clear how important a good official is. After the game Tobi said there were three teams in that match: Portugal, Netherlands, and the official. It shouldn’t ever be that way. Poor officiating can take an otherwise aggresive but amicable game and escalate it out of control. Officials in this cup have been far too quick with their whistles and their cards. Players want to play and fans hope to see them play. Last night’s game, and US v Italy as well as US v Ghana, exemplify this. The referee made very questionable decisions that directly and indirectly affect the outcome of the game.

Poor officiating is bad for all parties involved. Both teams get frustrated and this leads to a fight or flight situation, most often ending in fight (not necessarily fisticuffs). Recently I played in a coed game. It started well, the game was fun for awhile. Then the ref started blowing his whistle for now valid reason. A lot. Probably the worst-officiated game I’ve ever played in. Players got frustrated and overly aggressive, things started getting mean on both sides. I started tracking players and hitting them. This is not my usual behavior, but when you get called for a fair trap you get confused. After the game I shook his hand and said ‘thank you for taking two teams of perfectly decent people and turning them into ass holes.’ Harsh, but I was very pissed. Believe me, I almost never say anything to the ref, and never anything like that.

Back to the World Cup. Portugal managed to hold onto their early lead of 1-0 throughout the game, both teams finished with 9 men on the field. Bizarro world.

some pub off the reiperbahn

After the game we went to the Reiperbahn (side streets) for a few nice bars. Drank beer of course, then ended up at a karaokee joint. Someone stole my beer off the table while I looked at songs. Later someone bought me a beer, so life works out. I sang I Can’t Fight This Feeling. Good times. A German I’d been talking to told be I was ‘shit. No, worse than shit,’ but I don’t think I was that bad really. Took the cab home after 3am. I opened the window and the German flag flew off. The cabbie got pissed and I went back for it. good times.

What no bier?

so, you may have noticed by now that I’m not talking about German beer that much. Well, it’s there and it’s good and there’s a lot of it. Not necessarily in me at the moment but passing through. Lots of Pilseners. Beck’s Gold has been really popular with the circles I’m running with, as well as Radlers which are some sort of lemon/beer mix. I enjoyed a nice Koenig Pilsener last night when I got back from Berlin in time to watch the extra time in the Argentina/Mexico game. Each Fan Fest seems to feature its own local favorite (or at least a different cheap…) beer.

Contrary to popular belief it is not ONLY American Budweiser served at stadiums. If you look around you can find Bitburger, which is marginally better than Bud. After all these tasty beers, Budweiser really tastes bad. Also, I’m not sure who’s actually responsible for them, but while McDonald’s hosts concessions at the stadiums, you’re not stuck with typical McDonald’s fair. You can also gobble down some sausages and pretzels (the big yummy kind).

Day 6

Today I was mistaken for a Swede for the first time. Watching them play England, I’d noticed the mullet was more popular on their side. Still sporting it.

After watching the early games (Mexico v Portugal and Angola v Iran) with Tobi, Flo and I cruised down to the Hamburg Fan Fest. Much larger than the ones at Cologne and Hannover, there was a great festival atmosphere with food offered from each of the 32 countries. I wonder if they’ll shut down after their teams are elimintated, leaving only German and Brazilian food at the final. Also they had fun games like human foosball and other games, a beach club, music, and dancing.

We met Meike and Sandra, had some beers (and ciders/snakebites from the English pub, and watched Argenta play the Netherlands to an uninspiring 0-0 tie. Both had already made it through so they allowed players to rest and not accumulate a second yellow card (a second in a round keeps you out of the next game, but after the third the count starts fresh).