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Showing posts from March, 2016

March On Medium

Well, I hate to admit it, but I'm 2-1 on one piece of short fiction per month. I have something in the pipeline and I'm about 2300 words in- but unfortunately, it's not done yet- I'm hoping to get it done by the end of next month so I can stay above .500, so to speak, but I am wrapping up my Reinvention Series this month, so feast your eyes on this:
The Reinvention: This Qualifies As A Plan, Right?

Next month I'll have that short fiction piece done, I promise and in May... maybe I'll start another series on something. Not sure what yet.

Bookshot #88: Brilliant Orange- The Neurotic Genus of Dutch Soccer

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This book makes me want to visit Holland. There, I said it- and if you pick this book up expecting a book about Dutch soccer and Total Football and how it all happened, you'll get some of that with this book- but it's a rather unusual book in that it's not just about the history and the tactics and how it all went down on the soccer pitch. The author, David Winner wants to dig deeper and find out if there's something inherent in the Dutch national character or their national DNA that made the rise of something like Total Football an inevitability- and goes a long way to explain the Dutch inferiority complex/'always a bridesmaid and never a bride' that seems to bedevil them in major tournaments. Winner's thesis, therefore is something of a contradiction: the very same national DNA that produced some truly sublime moments of football is also the very thing holding the Netherlands back from winning a major tournament- and by and large, I think by the end of th…

This Week In Vexillology #159

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We're still sticking around This Week In Vexillology and this time, we've got double trouble:





No, you're not seeing things- we've got the flag of Poland (up top) and Monaco (below it.) But, you know what- let's have so fun and make it a triple shot, shall we? Let's complete our happy little trifecta with this flag:

Confused yet? Let's start at the top of this little collection of bicolors with the flag of Poland. Adopted on August 1st, 1918 for national usage, the red and white colors have been around since the 13th Century- and were taken from the Coats of Arms and two nations that made up the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. (And if you want historical proof that 'what goes around comes around' click that link and let your mind be blown by the fact that back in the day, the Poles and Lithuanians were the big dogs on the block.) While the colors were used since that time they weren't officially adopted as the national colors of Poland until 1831…

Boozehound Unfiltered: Revel Stoke Roasted Pecan

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The end of winter and the slow dawning of spring meant that it was about time for me to snag a flavored whiskey and check out something new. Don't get me wrong: I was doing my best to whittle down my single malts to get them done with so I could bring new stuff in, but you know what? I'd had my eye on the Revel Stoke line for awhile now and when I saw there was a Pecan Flavored Whisky on the shelf, I made a move, dropped the cash and grabbed it and damn am I glad I did!

I'm assuming (perhaps foolishly) that Revel Stoke Whisky comes from somewhere near the town of Revelstoke, British Columbia- so this would be my second or third foray across the 38th Parallel to dip my toe in the waters of Canadian Whiskey. (True story: never had a drop of Crown Royale in my life. That, O, Canada, needs to be rectified. Though I have had a sample of their rye and that intrigues me as well.) But Revel Stoke! Their website is short on story, but long on recipes- which is sort of unusual. Seem…

Brussels

A photo posted by Vladdo FF (@vladdo) on Mar 22, 2016 at 4:44am PDT
It was Tintin that got me. I didn't see this particular picture until late in the afternoon, but there were more floating around out there- and yeah, it was Tintin, that most Belgian of icons that got me. Another attack. Another tragedy. Little Dude woke up around 5:30 or so this morning wanting some breakfast, so, while I was half-asleep and the Missus was doing her thing with Little Dude, I grabbed my phone to do the usual gauntlet of things I do at 5:30 in the morning to stay half-awake and somewhat functioning in case the Missus needs something. And that's when I saw the news about Brussels.

At this point, I'm sort of out of answers. After San Bernadino, Paris, Mumbai, Ankara- it just never seems to stop and we seem to be running out of useful answers to give. Someone on Twitter immediately pointed out this this was going to be blamed of refugees- who, of course, thanks to the latest machinations of the…

Not Broken Yet

Today, AC/DC is my spirit animal. #littlesleep#nopatience#truthtelling — Tom Nixon (@litcityblues) March 18, 2016
The job almost broke me last week. I'm honestly surprised it took so long, but there I was, pulling into my usual parking spot down in Lot 11 and it hit me. Have you ever been so tired that you felt drunk? It was a ridiculously beautiful day. The sun was shining, the skies were blue, the temperature hinted at the coming of spring. I had the sunroof on the car open.* Meatloaf's Paradise By The Dashboard Light had played me to work. What was going to play me the rest of the way- the long walk down the alley and up the hill to work?

I untangled my headphones, plugged them into my phone and shoved them in my ears. Natasha Bedingfield? Maybe Unwritten? Something cheerful and uplifting? I did a quick search and, finding it, hit play. I listened for a moment and shook my head. No, I need something- yes, that was the perfect. I hauled myself out of the car and into the su…

This Week In Vexillology #158

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This Week In Vexillology, we're moving slightly north from Slovenia to the other half of the nation formerly known as Czechoslovakia...  that's right, this week, we've got the flag of none other than Slovakia:


Adopted on September 3rd, 1992 as the national flag of Slovakia, what we see is pretty much what we've been seeing all over that portion of Europe. That's right- say it with me: PAN-SLAVIC COLORS! I want to travel back in time to 1848 and propose different colors at that pan-Slavic conference or whatever the hell it was because it makes all these flags so monotonous and boring. No kidding: if you take away the coat of arms, you know whose flag you have? Russia's.
So let's leave aside the color scheme and focus on the Coat of Arms. Adopted on June 1st, 1993- the double cross is a symbol of its Christian faith- one modern interpretation says it's represents St. Cyril and St. Methodius who brought Christianity to region from the Byzantine Empire way,…

Bracketology '16

It remains a source of mild amusement to me that I plunge into the Brackets of March Madness every year with such enthusiasm. I hate playing basketball. I don't really watch basketball. (I've been known to go to a game when I can though- like baseball, it's not bad to watch in person.) But I do one of these every damn year and every damn year it's always so interesting and exciting and my bracket is usually a smoking pile of rubble by the end of the first weekend. Yet I do this anyway, because there's something almost primal about filling out what is essentially a large chart. Humanity just flocks to it for some reason.*

I usually have a general idea of what's going on in College Basketball (this year: anarchy) but this time around, I actually spent an hour or two listening to the talking heads on ESPN and glanced through FiveThirtyEight's March Madness predictions and then I got down to brass tacks. Let's take it by region, shall we?

SOUTH:
Kansas has s…

My Vote Project: This Is The End

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This seems like an appropriate soundtrack after last night's results. Trump destroyed Rubio in Florida and, indeed, knocked him out of the race. Kasich stopped the bleeding by winning Ohio, but Trump picked up Illinois, North Carolina and Missouri so it really wasn't the night that anti-Trump forces were looking for. But Rubio is out and only glancing at the primary calendar was enough to drag me from the depths of my despair. There's actually a decent amount of states for the GOP out there and if Kasich can pick up enough of a bounce we still might end up with a contested convention and a chance to block Trump from the nomination.

Will it happen? I don't know. Kasich is going to need to pick up Rubio's donors and some money, I think, to make a credible run at it- just winning Ohio isn't going to cut it. There are states where I think he has a shot down the stretch including Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Rhode Island and Connecticut. (Though…

'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny' --A Review

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I didn't really know what to think of this movie at first. It seemed slow, ponderous and lacked the grace and effortless choreography of the first movie- and it seemed to lack some of the production values as well. It was nice, however, to see the familiar face of Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh) emerge from her retirement in solitude to travel once more to Peking, where the Green Destiny, the sword of Li Mu Bai, her beloved resides in the house of Sir Te, who has recently died.

The world has changed since the first movie: there's less honor, there's more chaos and the West Lotus clan has a Warlord, Hades Dai (Jason Scott Lee) who is looking for a blade strong enough to let him dominate the entire world. A young woman by the name of Snow Vase (Natasha Liu Bordizzo) arrives at his tower, attempting to join his ranks- as he approaches, she attempts to kill him, but is easily driven off. Meanwhile, a young man by the name of Wei Fang (Harry Shum, Jr.) is making his way through th…

This Week In Vexillology #157

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This Week In Vexillology, we're getting away from municipalities and back to countries- this time to wrap up the nations that make up what used to be Yugoslavia- last but not in any way the least, we've got the flag of Slovenia:


As with many of the other countries of the former Yugoslavia, Slovenia goes with the traditional white-blue-red that are associated with the Pan-Slavic movement, but in the case of Slovenia have a historical link to the coat of arms of the Duchy of Carniola. The Coat of Arms appears in the hoist side- the peak represents Mount Triglav, which is the highest peak in Slovenia. The wavy lines represent the Adriatic Sea and local rivers. The three six-pointed golden stars in the inverted triangle above the peak are taken from the Coat of Arms of the Counts of Celje, a major dynastic house of the 14th and 15th Centuries,.

The flag was officially adopted on June 25th, 1991- though the Slovenian tricolor was raised for the first time during the Revolution of 1…

Bookshot #87: Das Reboot

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I brought this book after listening to a Men In Blazers Pod Special featuring the author, Raphael Honigstein- who also narrates this excellent documentary on F.C. St. Pauli. Why buy the book? You know, I'm not really sure...  I watch more soccer than I used to, so it just sort of made sense to me to learn more about the history and trends of the game itself and Das Reboot is a fascinating look at how a game can evolve and be changed from the ground up.

After a decline in the quality and results of the German game from 1998 onward- culminating in a disastrous turn at the 2004 European Championships, the best minds of German football sat down and began to figure out what had gone wrong with their game- in decades past, considered one of the premier football powers of the world- and how they could reach that pinnacle once more. The heart of Das Reboot: How German Soccer Reinvented Itself and Conquered The World is the reinvention that took place between that low point of 2004 to rea…

Whither The Art Museum?

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I'm a little behind this week...  I need to finish a book so I can review it and I was going to write another post about, well, work, but I'm still massaging that a little bit. Happily, some late breaking news this afternoon provided a topic to delve into.

The University is pulling out of a public-private partnership that was set to develop the Hieronymous Square area downtown (finally! At long last!) and give the University of Iowa Art Museum a new permanent home. Which is a bummer, because that was a really, really good location for a new Art Museum. Which now opens up the question- now what? Where does the Art Museum go? And does this delay a return of the Museum or even make it less likely?

Well, I think the Museum is still coming back. University officials are re-affirming their commitment to getting the place a new permanent home and you know what? Reading that article, I'm not sure the timeline is going to be adversely affected either. I have a feeling that there hav…

MLS Quest 2016

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This is the year.

I know I say that every single year, but this really is the year. Last year was helpful- I narrowed the list down quite a bit, but this year, I'm going to do it. I'm going to pick an MLS Team to support. (I'm also angling for a Bundesliga team, but that quest might be placed discreetly on hold as we'll be officially cutting the cord and ditching our Direct TV this month and switching to Sling- probably in the next month or so- which maybe means BeIN Sports and all kinds of new goodies for me to consider.) Look, I want an MLS Team because I think it's important to support your domestic league if you're a soccer fan and for the first time, I think I can safely say that I am. (Pre-NBC Sports, I would say that I liked soccer, but it was quadrennial/biennial type of thing with the Euros or the World Cup being the highlights of my 'like' but now I can theoretically find soccer on my television every single weekend, I'd say that yes, I h…

This Week In Vexillology #156

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So, this week in vexillology, we're taking a slight detour. I've been devouring podcasts at a fairly healthy clip for about a year or so now. They're nice, the perfect background noise for when I'm cleaning, washing dishes, folding laundry and one of the podcasts I listen to is the always excellent 99% Invisible, which looks at aspects of design that all of us either take for granted or just straight up don't notice.  I was listening to the usual regular episode and the host, Roman Mars (what a great name- seriously) mentioned that they were posting an update to the TED Talk he gave on Vexillology the year before...

What's that? I perked up. A TED Talk on Vexillology? Yes please!


The beautiful thing about this TED Talk is that it does bring up a big problem, not only with municipal flags but by extension with state flags as well. Iowa's is actually pretty decent- but there are far, far too many 'seals on a bedsheet' as Mars calls them for my liking.…

Squawk Box: Making A Murderer

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It's been about a month or so since the Missus and I finished up watching Making A Murderer on Netflix and I'm still honestly not sure what I'm supposed to think about it or even what the point of it all was. Was it meant to be a portrait of how the criminal justice system can fuck up in a major way in this country? Or was it meant to show how the presumption of innocence is impossible when prosecutors can try their case in the media if the murder is shocking or lurid enough- or hell, was it even an attempt to show that the defense in a case can play that game as well? Was it supposed to be a portrait of how the criminal justice system can screw poor people in a major way if it wants too? Or did the filmmakers actually believe the story of Steven Avery?

Making A Murder is a 10 episode documentary that looks at the case of Steven Avery- who was sent to prison back in the 80s for a sexual assault that it turns out he didn't commit- he was, in fact, exonerated and released…