i do not want to go to there

To where?  To this bacon:

Yeah, that’s colored bacon.  I saw it at bacontoday.com.  Did you know there’s a bacontoday.com?  Anyway, doesn’t that bacon look nasty?  And dude, colored bacon is not the preferred nomenclature.  African-American, please.  Also, there’s another joke I had for that spot, but I decided it was really just too inappropriate.  I know you may have thought yer old buddy i am whaleman had no limits but, well, now you know.  However, if you would really like to hear a terrifically funny but tremedously inappropriate joke, please feel free to email me at iamwhaleman@gmail.com.  I also accept phone calls and texts from people who have my number, but will not distribute it to every internet weirdo who shows up here.  This means you, Paula Poundstone!

tunes i am whaleman can’t get enough of

So yer old buddy i am whaleman rides the light rail to work.  I love it because it’s cheaper than driving, I don’t have to buy gas, and it gives me plenty of time for the Twitter and whatnot.  Oh, and there are all kinds of weirdys and nutballs and such for me to laugh at.  I also have plenty of time to listen to music.  Over the last little while, I keep coming back to a few songs that I’d be happy to share with you.

Animal Collective, “Summertime Clothes.”  If you don’t know these guys, y’oughter.  I had heard of them here and there, but paid attention after I read about 11 “Best of 2009″ music lists that had their album Merriweather Post Pavilion as the best album of the year.  It’s a good album.  I dig it.  I borrowed it from the library.  Heh heh.  But this song is, I think, the best song on the album by far.  The pulsing electronic thing, the great refrain…all of it.  I can listen to it over and over and over again.  Please to enjoy:

Andrew Bird, “Not a Robot But a Ghost.”  I was a longtime Andrew Bird holdout.  Crt kept telling me he was good and I kept hatin’ for no particular reason.  Well, not hatin’ exactly, but you know what I mean.  Andrew Bird does some cool shit.  Like this song.  Totally cool.

Modest Mouse, “Missed The Boat.”  This is one of those songs that I could listen to 800 times in a row and not get tired of it.  And Modest Mouse has a lot of repeatable songs.  But this, I think, is the most beautiful song Modest Mouse have ever done.  It’s not something you can often say about Modest Mouse.  I mean, listening to their music, you’d think they should’ve been called…oh, I don’t know…Built to Spill.  But this song is absolutely beautiful.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find an embeddable version, so if you haven’t heard it and you want to, you’ll have to follow the link.  I know you don’t like to click on links.  I know I erred in insisting that people follow the link to the Tim Lincecum-unicorn decapitation cartoon.  But at least think about it.

“Missed The Boat”

attention: ben has the floor

So this morning I tossed up a post responding to Ben’s commenting on how to cheer for the World Cup.  Here’s what Ben had to say to that, in case you didn’t read it in the comments:

It’s apparent I need to begin by pointing out that I was not saying that nobody should cheer for the US, or that people who already like soccer and cheer for the US are wrong and should stop doing so. I was merely expressing my personal view that the WC is immensely fun to watch, and even more fun if you have a team to cheer for, so if you were not a fan already there was no need to feel compelled to cheer for the US. The WC should be fun – cheer for whomever you want, guilt-free, but by no means should anybody stop cheering for a team they already support.

Ok, that’s fair enough.  I was just responding to the fact that you lumped the US in with the Nazis and The Fucking Dutch as “Worst” teams to root for.

As for birth location, I hope the argument is now pretty irrelevant, as it should be obvious I wasn’t saying stop cheering for the US if you already do, I was only speaking to the newly converted, or those motivated to watch for the first time. But since you mentioned it, I agree that birth location has a lot to do with who most people cheer for in sports, us included, and that can add a sense of pride to watching sports. But what about the fact we grew up cheering for the Cubs (and still do, to a certain extent), not the then-non-existent Rockies?

Well, we rooted for the Cubs because they were our mother’s (and grandparents’) team, which is sort of what I was trying to get at.  We didn’t pick the Cubs at random because the Dingers had not yet been birthed from an egg that was found while they were building Coors Field.  I wasn’t trying to argue this part, exactly…I was just saying that I found it interesting that we supported our local squads when available, and wondering how we’d react to soccer if our parents had been soccer fans.

There are many people who grow up without a local team (yeah, but it’s not like we make fun of people from, I don’t know…Nebraska, say, or Oregon for not having any professional sports teams…never mind) or who have reasons for not cheering for the local team, and there are many reasons people pick for choosing the team they do – maybe they have family in another city with a team, maybe their favorite player plays for a certain team, maybe they just like the logo or the colors, but whatever the reason, fans often have to choose their team. International sports should be no different – it is certainly fun to cheer for USA Basketball and there is a sense of pride that comes from cheering for the American athletes in the Olympics, but sports are ultimately about fun, and there can be reasons to cheer for other countries without feeling like a traitor (think Usain Bolt – his amazing performance transcended country and many Americans were rooting for him). It’s sports, it’s fun. If you were someone who did not have established US Soccer rooting ties, you do not root for the local team, and you should feel free to pick your team for any reason you choose.

We agree on this.

America does not care about soccer, sorry, but it’s still the case, tired and lazy or not. There are certainly Americans that care deeply about the sport, millions of them (In fact, Uncle Sam’s Army is right up there with any country’s supporters, and I applaud them for that, I just don’t applaud when they do), but it remains a fact that there are millions more who do not care. While not scientific, the various polls -ESPN, newspapers, etc. – which ran at the start of the WC and asked about how excited you were for the WC/how much you planned to watch/etc. still had in the neighborhood of 80% answering not at all/none. So yes, if you compare sheer numbers based only on population sizes, a larger number of Americans may be fans than other countries (like the Ivory Coast), but when you talk percentages of citizens, it is still just about the most apathetic.

Ok, but when you look at those polls, it’s not like any sport gets a majority of the vote.  A recent poll I looked at while researching another post asked people about their favorite sport.  The winner was, of course, pro football…but that was only 31% of people.  Does that mean America doesn’t care about football?  Or baseball, which had 20-or-so percent?  Let’s face it; there’s nothing that really unites America like that.  You mentioned cheering for the US in the Olympics, and I’d say that’s about as close as the country comes to presenting a unified front.  But the Olympics, for the most part, involve sports that would fall under the “Votes Received” or <1% categories.

I tried to find and link to or quote from an interview Landon Donovan gave right before the start of the 2006 Cup that really swayed me to cheer for another team and never look back, but ESPN appears to have taken videos that old down, and I could not find it on youtube or the web (plus I’m at work and couldn’t devote any more time to looking for it), so I’ll have to paraphrase instead. In it Donovan (Team USA’s captain, leader and arguably best player) said that for him and most of the US players, winning the MLS Cup would probably mean more than winning the World Cup, because in America players of all sports are taught that team championships are the most important, and the US players never really had a chance to grow up watching the WC because soccer was even less popular in America then, so it isn’t all-consuming like it is for players on other teams. Being the champs of one of the World’s weakest leagues would be better than champs of the World? It’s one thing if the fans aren’t all about winning, but when the players aren’t either? And I’d like to reiterate the interviews during last summer’s qualifier in Mexico that the US players are always so shocked that other country’s fans care more than the US players do. I would just rather root for players who want it.

I don’t remember hearing Donovan say that.  I wonder if he still feels the same way, especially considering that in games, he sure seems like it means an awful lot to him.  But I don’t know that you can unequivocally say that it “means more” to fans and/or players in other countries.  Has it really seemed all that important to England players like, for example, John Terry?  Messi is one of the greatest players ever, but he is constantly criticized for sucking with an Argentina shirt on after dominating for the team he gets paid to play for.  I think there are absolutely rabid, nutso fans in countries all around the world, but I definitely don’t know enough about the culture of soccer, espcially in the big-money world of Euro soccer, to say that the players want it so bad.

And it should have been obvious the devastation remark was a throw-in joke about the policies of a certain one-letter President, come on iamwhaleman, I expected better from you on that one!

No, I got that.  I was promoting the joke and acknowledging the kernel of truth in there; that yeah, the “US” as an entity has been sort of crap at the world level for a while now, and for some little country to take out the US “powerhouse” in soccer is pretty cool too.

So the point of all of this is, cheer for whoever you want to cheer for, if you get swept up cheering for the US watching a match in a crowded bar, keep cheering for the US; if you really liked your visit to Italy and want to cheer for the Italians, cheer for them; if your family is originally from Germany, then by all means, cheer for the Germans.

Well, I know you’re just using this as an example.  But nobody should cheer for the Germans.  You and I both know that.

As you know, I am a fellow recent convert to soccer. This is only the second WC I have been excited for, and I discovered that cheering for a country made it a more enjoyable experience. I don’t want anyone to not cheer for the US, I was only saying that no one should think they have to cheer for the US if they’re inspired to get behind the WC.

Alright, that’s cool.  It’s not that we disagree, exactly, which is why I hesitated to post this in the first place.  Mostly I find it sort of fascinating that soccer is indeed so popular elsewhere in the world, but not as popular (percentage-wise) in this country.  Why is that?  I know that this question is asked over and over every time the World Cup rolls around, and nobody seems to have an adequate answer.  I guess the only thing I can think of, specifically, is that the US, probably as much or more than any other, is a society based on instant gratification and “results.”  So many people are not fascinated by a 0-0 draw, but if you’re really watching, there’s just as much excitement and tension in a 0-0 WC Match as there is in a 39-37 NFL game.  But people look at that nil-nil and the gut reaction is “BORING.”

I also thought the accident of birth thing was interesting.  Wasn’t saying you were wrong.

You wanker.

Fair enough.

on cheering for us soccer

So back in the day, last time yer old pal iamwhaleman hopped on the ol’ blogwagon, it was to talk about the World Cup.  And if you ask me, the World Cup has thus far lived up to the hype that was heaped upon it by people that include me.  There have been a lot of really exciting matches and plenty of fruity French drama (which I’m sure they’re loving in Ireland since Ireland were screwed out of a berth by Thierry Henry’s handball) and even a few goals here and there.

Tomorrow the US will play Algeria.  If the US wins, they move on to the next round.  If they lose, they go home.  If they draw, they could still move on, but they’d need some help.  They should win.  They’re better than Algeria.

Now, there was a brief but spirited round of comments on my WC post about who you should and should not support in the World Cup.  I thought there were some fair points made, though of course it is just silly to root for the French (just playin’.  The Zidane Headbutt was one of soccer’s all-time finest moments).  Anyway, Ben made this point under the category for Worst (as in Worst Teams to support):

USA (There is no rule that you need to root for a country in sporting events due to accident of birth location. America does not care about soccer while the rest of the world stops during the World Cup, with citizens of other countries living and dying by their team – it seems to me it would be horrible if our apathetic country devastated millions of people who actually care (but somehow fitting that America is responsible for more devastation of the world’s citizens))

Now, yer old buddy i am whaleman has been percolatin’ on this for the last 10 days.  I think there are some really good points in there, but I disagree here and there.  So let’s disagree, shall we?

Let’s talk about the “accident of birth location” point.  As you may or may not know, yer old friend i am whaleman and Ben are both natives of Colorful Colorado and are devoted followers of the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Rockies, and keep up with news of the Broncos because even though we don’t much care for football, it’s the Broncos (and these days, the news is pretty consistently either funny or depressing).  We both spent significant time living in Minnesota, and in many arguments we had with our father about why we hate Minnesota’s sports teams, one of the main reasons we gave was that we already had teams that we rooted for, and that you don’t switch your lifelong allegiance just because you happen to live somewhere else for a while.  But I wonder…would we have been fans of those particular teams if we hadn’t by “accident of birth location,” been born and raised in Colorado?  If we had been born in New York, wouldn’t we have been fans of the Knicks and (hopefully) the Mets?  If we had been born in, say, Salt Lake City, wouldn’t we have been Jazz fans (it makes me throw up in my mouth just a little bit to say that, but I comfort myself with the thought that if I was born in SLC, I’d probably be functionally retarded at best anyway, so what’s the difference, right)?  Now, part of the reason that we became fans of those teams in those sports is that our parents were fans of those sports.  But if they had been soccer fans (beyond my mother wishing that yer old pal i am whaleman had chosen soccer over football when he was six), wouldn’t we have naturally become supporters of USA soccer in the same way that we support USA Basketball?

How about “America does not care about soccer?”  Well, this is the argument that I most disagree with, I think.  Frankly, I think this is just a tired, lazy argument.  Millions of Americans care a great deal about soccer.  Many Americans follow their relatively weak MLS team with a fiery passion.  “America” does not care about soccer in the way that “America” thinks that Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck are humans who should continue to exist and that “America” loves the music of…well, I can’t even think of any terrible pop singer I hate at the moment.  But you know what I mean.  Additionally, size matters.  Compare the United States to, say…Cote D’Ivoire.  The US has 16 times the population and is 28 times the area.  Of course you’re not going to have the kind of unity and support for a team here that they have there.  It’s true that soccer is not a nationwide, stop-everything, super-big deal in this country.  But that does not mean the team is not worth supporting.  And the contrarian in me wants more to support the US team every time I read some jerkoff writing about how boring soccer is and how nobody cares.

I waffle on the last point, about devastation.  The US has been pretty dickish worldwide over the last 10 years or so.  But even though the US is a behemoth, it’s not a soccer powerhouse.  Unlike other countries, our elite athletes do not pick soccer.  They pick basketball and football and baseball because that’s where the money’s at.  I like it when the little guy sticks it to the big guy (and, somewhat perversely, especially when the big guy is the US).  I don’t know that the US is a behemoth in this situation.  But if the US is knocked out by some tiny country, that’s cool too.

I wouldn’t call myself a huge soccer fan.  I love to watch it, and I love to cheer in a room full of screaming people.  It’s fun, and yer old buddy i am whaleman is fairly easily suckered into that (somewhat false) feeling of unity.  I watched the USA-England match in a bar with three dudes from St. Louis.  It was a great time.  I don’t root passionately for any team; I root for good games and I enjoy the spectacle of it all.  Maybe that makes me an uncaring wanker.  I suppose that’s fair enough.

i am whaleman: uncaring, rambling wanker.

USA Soccer: Not one of the “Worst” teams to support.

U! S! A!!  U! S! A!!

i am whaleman: totally pumped for the world cup

That’s right, people!  It’s World Cup time!  Time for all you football and hockey fans to appreciate an unboring sport for once!  Now, by the time you read this, the games most likely will have already begun.  Now, if you live in the same time zone as yer old buddy iamwhaleman, that means games start soooooper early in the morning…like, 4:30 in the morning on days when there are early games in South Africa.  On the plus side, however, that means that if yer old pal iamwhaleman decides to get up and go watch the game somewhere, it’ll only be like 80 degrees here in the PHX.  So that’s cool.

I’ve been adding to this post all week as I find cooler and cooler World Cup stuff to share witchall…so let’s dance, people!  It’s World Cup time!

Check out this super-cool World Cup calendar tingy.  It’s pretty damn sweet, design-wise, although I think the matches for the first day (June 11) should appear in the 2nd and 3rd columns, as they take place in the 2nd and 3rd time slots for the day.  Otherwise, no quibbles.  Here it is:

ESPN has a pretty sweet set of poster-type deals they had designed for each country that can be seen here.  To pique your interest, here is the All-Nations one:

The individual country ones are pretty cool too (although some of them are kinda weird…Australia, for example).

Alright, so we all know that some of the highlights of the World Cup come from advertisements…like this stuff that Umbro did in England.  Apparently they have some sort of “Tailored in England” campaign going on around the WC, so they went to each England player’s hometown and painted a wall somewhere in that town with a white (or green) background and a red (or white) jersey number with a “Tailored in [Town Name]” script on the bottom.  They’re super-cool…here’s the collection of them from The Guardian:

Really nifty concept, I think, and really well executed.  I love that they didn’t just throw up a billboard in each of those towns; they found a unique place to paint that makes for a diverse and unique campaign.  This one is my favorite:

Bitchin’.  I also like that The Guardian made the filename for that picture a-big-red-number-on-a-wall.  Good stuff, the British.

But enough with the still pictures already…let’s get to some film action!

I dig this ad from ESPN…sums up the whole “one-world” aspect of the World Cup.  Call me sentimental…or a big wuss, but I like it:

And there’s more ESPN where that came from.  Seriously, ESPN has done such a good job with the pre-World Cup business, I may stop hating them…at least for a couple weeks.  No wait–I just watched a couple of hours (no really, I did) of their WC preview show, which featured some good analysis from Alexi Lalas and a coupla furreners, but had way too much Mike Tirico and Bob Ley doing a wholesale ripoff of NBC’s Olympic coverage.  I mean, they weren’t sitting in front of a fireplace…but this might’ve been worse.  Their set was absolutely awful.  It looked like maybe they imported their set designer from the ’50s and told him to imagine what South Africa might look like.  I’ve never seen quite so obvious a connection between ESPN and Disney.  Anyway, that’s neither here nor there, because they make ads like this:

Pretty cool.  It’s like “Invictus” in a minute.  Alright, so here’s kind of a weird one from adidas.  It feels a little bit odd, doesn’t it?  The whole “poor black kids playing soccer barefoot on the beach” angle?  And apparently, it was filmed on Long Island.  Nice work, adidas:

But if you thought, that was weird, then I am proud to present to you an adidas commercial that appears to have absolutely nothing to do with soccer whatsoever.  Maybe adidas forgot the World Cup was this year and decided to just make a really cool commercial.  Yeah, that’s the ticket:

Yeah, that’s really weird.  Ok, so I also wanted to share a Pepsi commercial.  Now, there are a whole series of these with guys like Henry and Messi and Kaka and Whozits and Et cetera wearing these horrid Africanish shirts with big Pepsi logos in the center.  They’re universally bad.  Here’s one:

I warned you.

Ok, I saved the best for last: the Nike ad.  You may have seen this already, but if you have, you know it’s worth watching again.  And if you haven’t seen it, it’s absolutely worth watching.  It’s so much better than the Tim Lincecum-decapitated unicorn video that I really thought people would appreciate but apparently the desert heat has been frying my brain.  Anyway, this ad is awesome.  I could watch it over and over and over…and have, in fact.  It was directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu and features all sorts of cameos from soccer players…Roger Federer…Kove Bryant…Homer Simpson…it’s so good.  Watch it.  And then watch some soccer.  It’s so good.

So good.

(Oh, and I’ll be back later Friday with a rant about an article I read that was really, REALLY stupid.  Stay tuned.)

now presenting: student work!

Yer old buddy i am whaleman may or may not work in a school.  As such, I am privy to things like this:

I’m unclear; does that say Ramp or Rump on the side?  This work is supposed to be “abstract,” but I think they were doing a unit on “suggestive” art.

Here’s another nice piece of artwork:

Well, that appears to be a box of *something*.  What?  I don’t know.  But don’t worry…students write, too.

Well, if they were bad gays, does it count as a hate crime?  That reminds me of this, of course:

Um…yeah.

i don’t care about your clickophobia

I’m sorry, but I don’t.  Actually, I’m not sorry.  At all.  You absolutely must click on this link if you give a damn about any of the following:

  • Baseball
  • Mythical creatures (specifically unicorns)
  • Talking automobiles
  • Drug humor
  • Psychedelia
  • All things that are good