What the Cup?

So here's an interesting New York City bus-stop advertisement.

1. Lampard, Rooney, and Gerrard each look like they're in various stages of taking a shit. Which, I mean, if you've seen any of England's games over the last couple weeks....

2. I think ESPN brought in Rob Liefeld just to draw their thighs.

3. Fabio Capello's glasses aren't fancy enough. And he looks like he might be black here.

4. Decoder-ring time: 8104 is actually an iTunes "unknown error" code. Luckily, we know that the error is trying to play Lampard and Gerrard at the same time.

5. That big '66 is just begging to be Photoshopped. Maybe later.



Mais pourquois?

I've watched it a dozen times and I'm still not sure how I feel about it.

If you somehow haven't heard, France's Zinedine Zidane completely lost his shit yesterday and rammed his iconic, widow's-peaked dome into Italian defender Marco Materazzi's chest. This happened during extra time of the World Cup final, with the score level at 1-1.

Part of me is saddened by the sudden (though not at all unprecedented) flash of violence from Zizou. He's probably the best player of his generation, the consummate playmaker and a true artist on the ball. And while he hasn't been at his best for some years now, he somehow found his old, magnificent form in the knock-out stages of this year's Cup to lead his team to an unlikely spot in the final. I can't tell you how much I wanted France to win, just to see Zidane's career get the fairytale ending it deserved. (I also despise Mauro Camoranesi.)

Materazzi, a ruthless, studs-up-tackling prick also known as "The Matrix," must have said something pretty awful to provoke that sort of reaction, and my initial reaction was the he probably deserved what he got, if only for the innumerable reckless challenges he's made in his heavily tattooed career. But as Zidane walked past that ugly little trophy and out of the stadium, I found I no longer cared who won the match. Seriously, was there anyone else on the pitch for les bleus worth rooting for? Thierry Henry is a remarkable talent, but his diving and shameless face-clutching earlier in the tournament were just too much for me. Gallas and Makelele carry about them the unmistakable stink of Chelsea. Barthez ... okay, I like Barthez, if only because he's absolutely out of his mind.

And so I found myself happy-ish for the azzurri, particularly Cannavaro, a 5'9" colossus and my player of the tournament. Walking through Brooklyn after the match was over, I even raised a hand to a car full of flag-waving Italy supporters honking their way up Clinton Street. It was more an offering of congratulations than a celebration, though, as some part of me still wished Materazzi's heart had exploded right there on the pitch.

Like I said, I'm still kind of conflicted about the whole thing. One thing I am sure of, though, is that we should not only remember Zidane's career for a moment of madness at the whistle. That's only part of the story (and what a story it is).

The video up there will grab the headlines for now, but this is what the world will remember forever. (Feel free to mute the video, though - the music is more offensive than any head-butt I've ever seen.)

[video removed]

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Spinning: The Stone Roses, The Stone Roses (Thanks, Sean!)

Couple links to start with:

When I read this morning that George Best had died, I knew my man Simon Barnes would get it right. Of course, he did.

Good news! (For most of you.)

Vladimir Nabokov’s son may follow his father’s instructions to burn what remains of his unfinished novel, The Original of Laura. As you would expect, Ron Rosenbaum is on the case.

So, what have I been doing? What’s kept me so busy? A few things, actually. But mainly, I’ve spending a lot of time with a person who has become very dear to me, someone whose company I cherish and whose very presence has enriched my life beyond words. His name is Leon.

Now, I’m not a huge videogame dork. I’m not what you’d call a “gamer.” I play a lot of Winning Eleven (aka Pro Evolution, aka ISS) soccer on the trusty old Xbox, and that’s about it. But I still read the reviews, and if a particular title grabs my interest, I’ll pick it up. So about a week and a half ago, I pulled the dusty old PS2 out of storage and fired up a copy of Resident Evil 4. And let me tell you, this is why videogames exist. Sweet Jesus, is this game fun. Now that it’s available on the PlayStation (because I know you don’t own a GameCube—nobody does), if you’ve got the hardware, you need this game. It’s as good as the movies were bad.

Aside from that, I’ve been sick for the last week and I think my sciatic nerve is being pinched. Which is no fun. But decapitating Spanish not-quite-zombies with a shotgun helps take the pain away.

One for Simon and "Le God."

Spinning: John Coltrane, One Down, One Up: Live at the Half Note

This was supposed to go up last night, but my server was down. Sue me.

On days like today when I can't really come up with anything worthwhile to say, I'll try to let someone else say it for me. Today that someone is Simon Barnes, one of my favorite sports journalists and the current Chief Sports Writer for The Times.

I read Barnes' story "An Alien on the Pitch," about Southampton legend Matt Le Tissier, a few years ago and it's stuck with me ever since. Give it a read.