Tuesday, June 29, 2010

World Cup 2010.8 ~ Final 8

The final 8 have been chosen. And with the exception of the United States, each bracket advanced in alignment with the FIFA international rankings.

If the next round marches in the same predictable procession, the semi finalists will be Uruguay, Brazil, Germany and Spain.

The finalists will be Brazil and Spain, and the winner will be Brazil.

There, you have it. Why waste anymore time, emotions or energy on the inevitable?

The loses in this tournament demote opportunities in both Asia and North America in 2014 World Cup to be held in Brazil. I wonder who will win that one....? I wonder if FIFA will finally allow refs to view replays and use electronic means to determine calls. Why recall Koman Coullibaly of Mali when you can simply give him the means by which to temper his judgment?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Watercolor 101: The Rose 04

Ta-Da! Or it is what it is.... There are dozens of things, of moments, that I would have taken back; and there are a dozen or so more that surprised me in a way that I could not have foreseen or planned; and in the end it simply is what it is.

And know I remember why I love watercolor so much ~ it's a metaphor for life. You can't take anything back once it's been done. If you allow your regrets to be your focus, the image will never be finished, and you'll never see the wonderful things that your choices and chance have actually made. You give it your best shot, and you learn to let go.

If I could choose the three things that mean to the most to me they would 1) contour, 2) contrast, and 3) color. Oh yeah, it also really helps when others believe in you, too.

Watercolor 101: The Rose 03

Patience, I tell myself. Patience...

Today's Sermon #30

This World is not Conclusion.
A Species stands beyond—
Invisible, as Music—
But positive, as Sound—

It beckons, and it baffles—
Philosophy—don't know—
And through a Riddle, at the last—
Sagacity, must go—

To guess it, puzzles scholars—
To gain it, Men have borne
Contempt of Generations
And Crucifixion, shown—

Faith slips—and laughs, and rallies—
Blushes, if any see—
Plucks at a twig of Evidence—
And asks a Vane, the way—

Much Gesture, from the Pulpit—
Strong Hallelujahs roll—
Narcotics cannot still the Tooth
That nibbles at the soul—

~ Emily Dickinson, 1830 - 1886

Mozel Tov, Bob & Henry!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Watercolor 101: The Rose 02

Little by little it continues to emerge. And the old joints like those of the tin man are feeling a little more oiled with every tentative brush stroke...

Wedding Blessings!

William Gary Loman, Jr. and Brock Patrick McCormack

The very pinnacle of the Wedding Announcement is the wedding announcement that appears in the New York Times' Wedding/Celebrations section. This isn't the first time a same-sex couple has appeared there -- although it's not been that long ago when the first one did appear (AUG 2002) and when it did, it's wasn't a wedding announcement, but a commitment ceremony.

On the verge of a proposition 9 ruling in the courts in California that will surely re-establish the right of Californians to marry regardless of gender, this recent announcement featuring a couple who wed in the latest jurisdiction to make it legal, the District of Columbia, is so charming.

Hare is an excerpt from the announcement of the Lowman ~ McCormack nuptials on June 19 at the Westin Grand Hotel in Washington, D.C.:

The couple met in August 2004 during their first week of law school. Mr. Lowman and a female classmate who was his roommate went on a class outing to a minor league baseball game in Winston-Salem. But the roommate had an agenda and wanted Mr. Lowman to help her out.

“She said there was this guy who was really cute, but she didn’t know if he was gay or not, so she wanted me to check him out,” he said.

Mr. McCormack said he was totally out of place because he never attended baseball games. “I didn’t know they were scoping me out,” he said.

Mr. McCormack added that he had already noticed Mr. Lowman on campus.

“I could see him talking to friends, and they were all laughing,” Mr. McCormack said. “I could see he was a fun spirit, but I wanted to be focused on my law studies, so I kept my nose in the books and didn’t pursue him.”

Later that year they became good friends, with their relationship blossoming from there as they discovered more and more shared interests.

“He would come over to my house, and we would play different Broadway soundtracks and sing along,” Mr. McCormack said. “We both knew all the words to ‘Wicked,’ and that’s how we bonded.”

Their relationship turned romantic at a Super Bowl party that Mr. McCormack hosted in February 2006. He had invited a group of friends who were not big football fans, and after watching for a while, he and Mr. Lowman turned on show tunes and got up and sang.

Gentlemen, may I add my blessings!

Here's to your prosperity, your good health and happiness,
and most important ...
To life, to life, la kayim!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Gulf Oil Spill Fallout?

There's an odd canker on plants in areas of southern Mississippi. And there's a very disturbing theory to go with it.

From the website PrisionPlanet.com comes this explanation:

“It seems like damage brought by the oil gusher has spread way beyond the ocean, coastal areas and beaches. Collateral damage now appears to include agricultural damage way inland Mississippi,” writes Benjamin. The disease has caused widespread damage to plants from weeds to farmed organic and conventionally grown crops.

Benjamin believes the disease is the result of BP spraying the oil dispersant Corexit 9500 in the Gulf of Mexico. Corexit 9500 is believed to be responsible for widespread reports of oil cleanup crews reporting various injuries including respiratory distress, dizziness and headaches.

“Dispersants have never been applied on this scale, leaving environmental scientists guessing about the consequences. Corexit may have caused seven cleanup workers to be admitted to the hospital with shortness of breath and nausea,” reports Popular Science.

“Many have focused their concerns about Corexit… on what it’s doing under the water. But as we know, the oceans are part of a larger precipitation cycle, and scientists are worried that soon the consequences of using dispersants could be falling from the sky,” writes Beth Buczynski for Care2, an environmental website.

The EPA asked BP to stop using Corexit, which is banned in 18 countries due to its toxicity, but the oil transnational has refused.

There is no direct evidence that the crop damage in Mississippi is the result of Corexit 9500 falling from the sky. However, as Benjamin notes, there “is very strong suspicion that ocean winds have blown Corexit aerosol plumes or droplets and that dispersants have caused the unexplained widespread damage.”

The stench from the oil has reached the western coast of Florida, most notably the Tampa Bay area. There is no end in sight to the escaping oil from the destroyed well and now we are told that "fishers" are opening up on the gulf's floor releasing plumes of oil and gases unrelated to the drill site. My heart breaks because I know that there's nothing we can do about this catastrophe and 20 billion dollars from BP won't even begin to compensate the looming losses that are being unleashed.

Mother earth has just suffered an aneurysm. Let hope that it's not beyond rehabilitation.

Salute Team USA!

After a mighty mini bout of depression this afternoon, it's time to take stock and say that this Team USA is one for with I am tremendously proud. And the image that will always stay with me is this one of Landon Donovan scoring that last minute goal against Algeria. It was simple awe inspiring futbol. Thank you gentlemen for a wonderful run! Go Ghana!

Remembering MJ One Year Out

Michael Jackson rest in peace
1959 - 2009

World Cup 2010.7 ~ Final 16 History

The configuration of a 16 team single elimination format at the end of the tournament is a relatively new component, introduced in 1986, today begins the 7th time this protocol will determine the winner.

In a twist, it is the first time that European nations do not dominate the slate. 10 of the sixteen finalists are from elsewhere on the planet. The graph is based on one published in the NYTimes, that I enhances with flags to identify the actual countries and a highlighted square frame for the winner. In the previous 6 World Cups the winning has been traded back and forth between Europe and South America. If persistence matters both Germany and Brazil have been to all seven of the championships in examination; Argentina, England and Spain have been to six of them and Mexico and Netherlands to five.

Friday, June 25, 2010

World Cup 2010.6 ~ Final 16

The matches have been set. The before tournament FIFA rankings are attached to the countries in red. 16 teams and 7 of them were ranked lower than 16 in the world prior to the round robin tournament. The three lowest ranked finalists are Korea @ 47, Japan @ 45 and Slovakia @ 34. If the tournament played out by the rankings, the United States would finish in fourth place. The first time in that top four teams since 1930... Go USA.

Watercolor 101: The Rose 01

Just started what I hope will be my first painting of summer. It's very interesting painting again. I had this phase back between 1990 and 1993 when I painting manically; since then I've only attempted two; but this summer I'm feeling very much in the zone again. I know there's going to be a major learning curve to get back on the saddle. More progress as it comes.

Happy Pride Month!

June is Pride Month in many places (there are exceptions like Cape Town) and here are smattering of this years Pride Celebration Posters. They are fabulous and delightfully queer!





Thursday, June 24, 2010

World Cup 2010.7 ~ ESPN.com I Love You!

Two great matches today both of which I watched online via ESPN.com. The coverage over the Internet is wonderful, ESPN is to be commended for giving the world access to this sporting event in this way. I've loved every minute spent before my large, HD computer screen taking in these amazing games.

Slovakia v Italy was the first game of the day for me. Italy is the defending world champion and a team that was just past its prime. The question raised about the Italians was how important is their expertise? Today's match provided a definitive answer: It can make for some wonderfully coordinated and executed futbol, but in the face of youthful energy and exuberance it comes up short. It appears that young players are also smart.

And in this match, the Italian strategy of letting the younger Slovakians exert their energy throughout the first half as a way to tire their opponents proved short-sighted at best (and I'm giving them a lot a credit that this was at all on their minds). By the time the Italian team decided to enter the fray and display their expertise, it was just too late.

In the whole round robin of this tournament, Italy drew a tie against Paraguay--clearly a team on its ascendancy. Next they drew a tie against New Zealand (the picture is from that game when Winston Reid of New Zealand tackled Giampaolo Pazzini of Italy), a team that had no right to even be in South Africa (sorry, Kiwi's). Ranked 78th in the world by FIFA, and THEY kept the reigning world champions to a tie.... Italy's performance was pathetic at best.

So enter Slovakia -- the lesser half of the former Czechoslovakia. Twice Czechoslovakia made it to the finals: 1934 and 1962; never has either the Czech Republic or Slovakia made it as a separated national entity to the eliminations rounds. Can they move into the quarter finals? This has yet to be determined, but that are clearly the better team than Italy to represent their group against the Netherlands. Congratulations Slovakia, you play one hell of a game -- it was like an eager and talented son stomping out their arrogant father.

Japan had a similar match against Denmark in the evening. Their 3 to 1 trouncing of the Danes was largely won on a battle of penalty kicks. Yet they kept the Danish offense in check throughout the match. The Japanese victory places both hosts (Japan and South Korea) of the 2002 World Cup Tournament in play in the first round of elimination play.

Today really solidified in my mind how open and vulnerable the old establishment of the game is. In it's 18 Championships history a lot has changed in the world. Of those 18 victors 9 have gone to South America and 9 to Europe. The South American victories have been parcelled out to 3 nations: twice to Uruguay and Argentina and 5 times to Brazil. The European club is nearly as exclusive: 4 times to Italy, 3 times to "West" Germany, and once each to England and France.

In 18 competitions the runner up team in the finals have only been for a nation other than the 7 aforementioned on 7 occasions, and even these 7 matches only represent 4 different countries (Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Sweden and the Netherlands) all of which are also from Europe. And no interloper has threatened the hegemony of the original orthodox 7 nations in the final match since 1978! That's 32 years of a very exclusive domination of world soccer.

So why do so many nations spend so much money and so much energy on trying to enter this club? I don't know, but today I saw two more teams compete at a level that could make them contenders, and that was amazing sport to me.

Random Quotes 114 & 115

These come from one of the most under appreciated American leaders in our nation's history, and my second favorite Republican U. S. President after Lincoln. He was a profit in many ways because he not only stood up to the challenge of war with courage and fortitude, he rightly reflected upon his experience in war, and saw it for exactly what it is: an evil unnecessary as we have come to use it.

“Every gun that's made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms...is spending the genius of its scientists, the sweat of its laborers,”

“We will bankrupt ourselves in the vain search for absolute security.”

~ Dwight David Eisenhower, 1890 - 1969

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

World Cup 2010.6 ~ Lions and Tigers and OH MY!

Apparently, A player from Ghana thought that there was something in his shorts -- and there was! Oh My!

Earthquake Up-date! Oh, Canada!

As a friend in Cleveland posted on his Facebook page, "I felt the earth move....." Alas, I didn't; however, a 5.0 temblor with a epicenter just north of Ottawa, Canada was widely felt in the border region between the two nations today. Reports of shaking came in from as far north as Hudson Bay, east to the heart of New Brunswick province and south into the United States including Boston, New York, Hartford, Rochester, Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Columbus, Cincinnati, Chicago, Indianapolis, Louisville, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Milwaukee. No damage extended beyond very light, and no shaking beyond moderate (which was limited to localities in Canada and up-state New York.

World Cup 2010.5 ~ We did it!

Today's game between the United States and Algeria played at Tshwane/Pretoria's Loftus Versfeld Stadium was the most exciting match of the tournament to date. And the United States showed the world that we are tenacious, principled, and talented.

The game began with a page taken from Malian referee, Koman Coulibaly's, indefensible miss-called that denied the U.S. team a goal in their game against Slovenia, when Belgian referee, Frank de Bleeckere, denied the U.S. team's first goal with an off-sides call that replay tapes clearly showed was in error. To have a game deciding goal denied to you once at this level of international play is a tragedy; but, to have it happen a second time, and potentially deny a team the opportunity to advance is a travesty. Here are two referees with a combined total of 33 years of experience making bad calls against the United States. Conspiracy anyone? And seriously, I don't think that the case, but it would not be unreasonable for one to think that the deck is somehow stacked against US.

Yet, our team with grace and composure just kept on keeping on. The result is a righteous one, but the path that has gotten us here is one in which I am most proud. The U.S. team exhibited great endurance and generous team play in prosecuting this victory. Jay DeMerit was awesome in his defense of the goal. Time and again it was his response to an Algerian charge that sent the ball back toward the Algerian side of the field. Jozy Altidore, Maurice Edu, Benny Feilhaber, Clint Dempsey, Herculez Gomez, and Landon Donovan each had their moments. And when all was but lost, it was another selfless pass by Landon Donovan missed and followed-up by Donovan that scored the winning goal.

Now on to a rematch with Ghana in the semi-finals like 2006 back in Nüremburg, Germany. We didn't win then, but it's a new team U.S.A.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

South Carolina Enters The 21st Century....Well, Sort Of

She just won the primary...

If elected as Governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley will join a rather exclusive club that began in 1923 with the election of Nellie Tayloe Ross as governor of Wyoming.

She would also become only the 30th woman to be elected to the office of governor. While 32 women before her had held the title: 20 of which have been Democrats and 12 Republicans.

The states that have been served by female chief executives in chronological order of their first woman governor and with the total number of women governors per state in parenthesis are:

1) Wyoming (1)
2) Texas (2)
3) Alabama (1)
4) Connecticut (2)
5) Washington (2)
6) New Hampshire (2)
7) Kentucky (1)
8) Vermont (1)
9) Nebraska (1)
10) Arizona (4)
11) Kansas (2)
12) Oregon (1)
13) New Jersey (1)
14) Ohio (1)
15) Massachusetts (1)
16) Montana (1)
17) Delaware (1)
18) Hawaii (1)
19) Utah (1)
20) Michigan (1)
21) Louisiana (1)
22) Alaska (1)
23) North Carolina (1)

27 states have yet to have a female governor.

In the 2010 cycle only 2 women appear to be viable, Susan Bartlett in Vermont and Meg Whitman in California.

World Cup 2010.4 ~ The Final 16

In the metrics of the World Cup, not only do the 32 top ranked teams not get guaranteed berth on the ship, the 3 match 4 member preliminary rounds allow for some amazing opportunities. The third stage of this portion of the tournament weeds out those who squander those gifts, as well as, highlighting the teams that are HOT, Hot, hot in the moment.

Today we witness a royal act of squandering by the team from Nigeria. Not that the South Koreans were waiting to roll over, but the Nigerians had at least 5 opportunities to score handed to them on a silver platter and wasted them in the second half of the game alone! It was pathetic to watch.

In the end of this first set of matches in round 3 of the preliminary group games Uruguay, Argentina, Mexico and South Korea have advanced. Two other squads have secured a place in the final 16 after round 2; Brazil and Paraguay. It's clearly a Latin/South American World Cup

The rest of the world plays out thusly and faithfully: 1) Asia and Oceania are barely a factor (although South Korea and Japan are spoilers were no spoilers before existed), 2) Africa plays under an inferiority complex still (All but one of their coaches is from Europe or South America), 3) Europe is in a shambles (France self-distructed, powerhouses Germany and Italy have been defeated once, as has the great hope of Europe Spain, England is clinging to a mathematical calculation to advance; only the Netherlands and Portugal are playing like possible champions), 4) And in North America two dark horses are creeping forward against impossible odds (Mexico and the United States).

This is why I love the World Cup. All that is good and amazing and powerful about men competing with their minds and bodies is present in this game. And while some must loose, the game remains open to all

Boxers V. Briefs

In the age old debate, I go whitey tighties every time. My old man? A Boxer dude. What does that say about us? And who cares?

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Beautiful Men Of The World Cup 2010

There are ample opportunities to expose and celebrate the beauty of women. The World Cup offers a chance to appreciate the beauty of men. Here are my top 15. Handsome men who have transcended the herd by virtue of their athleticism and their generous genes.

LEE ADDY age 19, a Defender on the team from Ghana

IBRAHIM AFELLAY age 24, a Midfielder on the team from the Netherlands

HOLGER BADSTRUBER age 21, a Defender on the team from Germany

MARK GONZALEZ age 25, a Forward on the team from Chile

GLEN JOHNSON age 25, a Defender on the team from England

FOUED KADIR age 26, a Midfielder on the team from Algeria

IDRISS KAMENI age 26, a Goalkeeper on the team from the Cameroon

GEORGES MANDJECK age 21, a Midfielder for the team from the Cameroon

JESUS NAVAS age 24, a Forward on the team from Spain

FRANCISCO RODRIGUEZ age 28, a Defender for the team from Mexico

CHRISTIANO RONALDO age 25, a Forward on the team from Portugal

NIKOS SPIROPOULOS age 26, a Defender on the team from Greece

FERNANDO TORRES age 26, a Forward on the team from Spain

NOEL VALLADARES age 33, a Goal Keeper for the team from Honduras

VLADIMIR WEISS age 20, a Midfielder for the team from Slovakia

What I'm Reading #31

I know I've shared before how wonderful the periodical, Virginia Quarterly Review is, and having just received my latest (summer 2010) issue, I'm disposed to say it again. Every issue comes with a dominant theme and this issue is sub-titled: "Inside Iran, A Special Symposium Of Writers From Iran". There are essays, as well as, photographs and poems. I've only read one of these so far, "Lust, Devotion, & the Binary Code" by Kamin Mohammadi. As a gay man who first tried to imagine an adult life in the late 70's in a rural town in southern Michigan...I felt a strange tinge of recognition.

Other essays, stories, poems, graphic novels, photographs, and reviews fill the rest of the issue.

The one that I've just finished is referred to as a Dispatch. It's title's "Island in the Sand" and speaks of the author's (Anthony Ham) journey to an ancient and fading village in the heart of the Malian Sahara called Araouane. It is a journey from Timbuktu that on a map encompasses a mere 250 km, but in the hands of this skilled writer (and photographer) we travel through both space and time back to the inception of Islam. Through the eyes of his Taureg friend, Azima, we see the world of this nomadic people as it teeters on the verge of extinction crushed between nationalism and modernity. Baba, his faithful Songhai driver, opens a door onto the world of ethnic strife that has torn at the fragile social constructs of the modern nation of Mali since it's creation from the clothe formerly known as French West Africa. And it is through the gentle observations and unquestioned hospitality of Mohammed Bashir, the imam of Araouane, that we see the fierce devotion to place that is both honorable and baffling at once.

In a nutshell, reading articles like this not only expand my understanding of the world, but enlarge my heart's capacity to cherish it.

A second dispatch in this issue is a collaboration between photographer Andre Lamberton and poet Kwame Dawes. Lamberton recorded images from the inner city neighborhoods of Baltimore, Boston, Brooklyn, Chicago, and New Orleans; and Dawes set the images to poetry. It's a devastating act of grace. Neither my mind nor my heart will ever be the same.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Father's Day Farmer's Market

One of the regular events that defines the sense of community in Takoma Park, Maryland is the Sunday Farmer's Market. Opening in the summer of 1983, it was the first Sunday farmer's market in the greater Washington, D.C. region; and being that Takoma Park is basically ground zero for the Christian denomination known as the Seventh Day Adventists (who call Saturday the Sabbath and treat Sunday like any other of the remaining 6 days of the week, it makes perfect sense.)

The little statue in the foreground of the above image is a bronze of "Roscoe the Rooster." Roscoe is the unofficial mascot of Takoma Park. Something of a local gadfly in his day. No one knows were he came from, and though his stay amongst us was a brief one, his untimely demise against the undercarriage of an ill-driven SUV left a void in the hearts of those who knew him best. One that eventually necessitated this monument as a memorial to him. It's the kind of thing that explains the gestalt of my city better that any diatribe or academic paper could even hope to. And week in and week out, there he now sits, Lord of the Sunday Farmer's Market.

Of course, it's not the statue of Roscoe that brings hundreds and hundreds of people to the couple of dozen stalls each week. It's the produce. This week, early season fruit (blackberries, raspberries, blue berries, and cherries), all manner of greens (lettuce, chard, tot soy, celery, parsley, cilantro, arugula, dandy lion), tons of squash/Zucchini (mostly medium to small in size), crates of sugar snap peas, and tomatoes seemed to dominate. You could also find some really beautiful pickling cucumbers, and in one stand there were beets to die for!. The problem, of course, is the price.

With most of the major chains in this area; (Safeway, Giant, Shopper's Food Warehouse) now offering a wide variety of organic produce at prices that undercut these farmers--sometimes by 50%--my heart is torn.

Besides the produce there are other reasons to shop here on a Sunday morning. There are the cut flowers and the nursery flowers. There is an organic egg man who usually has a line of about 20 people by the time the place opens for business and continues to require some patient queuing as long as his supply lasts. There is an organic butcher with meat products of all sorts. There are two bakeries which make every sort of bread and role and cookie and cupcake and scone and well you get the picture. There's at least one organic dairy which focuses on cheeses. There is also one to two honey booths.

My favorite stops include the "Green Hippie Farm" (not it's real name, this is my moniker). This collection of retro flower-children entrepreneurs focus their efforts on greens. They introduced me to the wonders of Tot Soy, and they grow this hyper rich deep green pseudo-parsleyesque cultivar of Celery that kicks up anything that you could possibly add celery to to a higher-power of gastronomical satisfaction. We're talking soups, salads, stuffing, rice dishes, you name it, I'm there. They had the luscious looking beets today.

Another is the bakery run by the Hispanic family. They know bread and how to make it so it's eggshell crusty on the outside and chewy-soft and butter-ready on the inside.

So with limited funds, how did I spend my cash today? A loaf of cheese bread ($5) to last me the week. And a cluster of tomatoes, $5.50. There is no reason to buy a tomato that you will not actually enjoy eating. But I'll be pining over the beets all week.....

The Fans Fascinate Me


One of the things that I love most about the World Cup are the fans. They're nothing like the docile groups of the elite effete who seem to make their way to the Olympics (a gross over-simplification, to be sure). Which isn't to say that they aren't well connected, the air fare alone for this contest would be setting them back a pretty penny. It's just that they seem so 'everyman' enthusiastic. Willing to done all manner of face painting and flag waving until their arms just give out. And as it's winter in South Africa and cool to at times chilly depending on your venue, they've even taken to waving their scarves!






PORTUGUESE (with an ANGOLIAN hanger-on-er!)