A Few Thoughts on World Cup 2014

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So last year I wrote a thought piece on the current Confederations and their qualification systems for the World Cup.  About a month removed from this year’s World Cup in Brazil I am emerging from acute soccer withdrawal and wanted to note some thoughts about Brazil.

First off, this was an exciting edition of the World Cup.  Great games, lots of goals and drama galore.  The German shellacking of Brasil will go down in history as one of the greatest shock defeats in the history of the game.  The advance of Costa Rica deep into the tournament was as great a Cinderella story as soccer could have.  The overall performance of CONCACAF was wonderful despite Honduras’ poor form.  Africa and Asia did not perform up to expectations. Germany’s victory is the first time a European nation won the cup on South American soil.  German-Americans on the U.S. team played really really well and made everyone feel genuinely American all the more so.  Really, is there a more genuine expression of shock, joy and wonder than John Brooks emotions after scoring the winning goal against Ghana?

Let’s look at the performance of the various Confederations this year:

Oceania Football ConfederationNo team from OFC qualified for this year’s tournament. New Zealand qualified in 2010 but with Australia having moved to the Asia Confederation no other current OFC team has ever qualified for the Cup.

Asian Football ConfederationNone of the four AFC teams got out of their group and to add insult to injury they also all finished last in their groups.  Sometimes things don’t break your way — you need a bit of luck to succeed in soccer — but this is a pretty poor performance.

Confédération Africaine de FootballAfrica managed to move two of its five teams on to the round of 16.  Not objectively bad but given the perennial expectations for African teams to do better, a bit disappointing.  Algeria and Nigeria played fairly well.  There were, unfortunately not surprising, problems with payments and other support for these national teams.  The U.S. finally beat Ghana after two important defeats to that nation.

Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association FootballCONCACAF did really well.  We got three teams to the round of 16 and Costa Rica got to the round of 8.  There’s a question of how much more depth there is in CONCACAF beyond the U.S., Mexico and Costa Rica but I do think countries like Panama, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago (and even Canada if they could get their national program in shape) and other central american countries could make an impact in future cups.

Confederación Sudamericana de Fútbol: South America, despite not winning the final, did really well.  Only one of its six teams did not advance out of its group and two of its teams made it to the semi-finals with Argentina losing the final on a well-struck German goal in overtime.

Union des Associations Européennes de Football: Despite Germany becoming the first European country to win the Cup on South American soil, as a whole, seven of the thirteen European nations did not advance out of their groups.  European countries all played well on average despite a disappointing performance from Spain.  But it should raise questions over the 13 automatic spots for Europe and whether that should change before the next Cup.

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Bookmark: Tune

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I was a big fan of the webcomic Tune by Derek Kirk Kim. I just grabbed the print books – Vanishing Point (book 1) and Still Life (book 2) to re-read. The artist on book 2 was Les McClaine who does a faithful job with the template created by Derek.  It’s a great premise and I enjoyed re-reading it.

I searched around to see if there was any talk about further updates — I recall the webcomic went kaput because Derek was focused on the print versions but really haven’t found anything that would clarify whether book 2 was enough of a success that First Second Books would be publishing a third volume.

I totally missed the existence of the video adaptation, Mythomania, which has a couple of seasons posted on youtube.  I hope it’s well done — it would be nice to see the further adventures of Andy Go while waiting for Book 3 to arrive.  UPDATE: And now I know why I missed it — it’s not really at all the same as Tune.  Instead it’s a story about a cartoonist named Andy Go who (at least after 5 episodes) is living a pretty ordinary life for a cartoonist in LA with some standard sitcom complications.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m enjoying it (and cartoonist Jason Shiga was surprisingly good in his cameo) but it’s best not to think of it as having anything to do with Tune.

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Weird Al Has a Number One Album

Note to teenaged self -- This is a number one album in 2014!
Note to teenaged self -- This is a number one album in 2014!

I leave the country for a couple of weeks and… Weird Al has a number one album?! What is the world coming to?  Well genius marketing by Weird Al with his eight videos in eight days push to release it sure has a lot to do with it.  I crack up at Word Crimes and may someday like Tacky (right now my brain has overheard that Happy song to the point where it’s just too much too soon).

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One Way

One Way First Comic

A few quick thoughts on Christopher Baldwin’s One Way, his newest webcomic project and another story with a large group of characters in a science fiction setting.  His last webcomic Spacetrawler had a similar mix of elements and quickly became one of my favorites (and a whole lot of other people too).  For me, the biggest difference at the outset between these two comics is the unlikeability of the characters in One Way.  Initially I really hated each and every one of them, which does make it hard to identify with the story.  However, by now Baldwin has earned a lot of trust from his readers and for me, I stuck with it.  I think this story is a much larger gamble than the construct behind Spacetrawler but now that I’ve seen a few of the twists and plot points (and we can’t be any more than halfway into the story) in One Way, I’m starting to to care about this dysfunctional crew and wonder what fate has in store for them.

 

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Viva La Blog Posts

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I’m not feeling all that amazing today but conscious enough to read webcomics and maybe clack on some keys. I noticed that Sinfest actually updated it’s website design.  Still simple but certainly cleaner and with the benefit of newer artwork in the logo.

Another thing looking at the Sinfest site reminded me of is that creator Tatsuya Ishida has kept his sparsely update “Notes from the Resistance” archives on the site all the way back to the first post in January 31, 2000 (not that far after the first comic was posted):

January 31, 2000

Because man does not live by porn alone
Posted by Tatsuya Ishida

While scoping out websites of like-minded artists, some very professional, some very not, I thought to myself: Funky cold Medina. Here survive the lost, unsung warriors of comic strip art, the Not-Ready-For-Syndication misfits and rejects, broke but not yet broken, peddling their labor of love like cheap whores (or, to use more delicate parlance, discount whores), in a grungy, backwoods subculture of freelance burnouts and dreamers. Sounds like my kind of place. Let’s tango and cash y’all.

Ishida has never shared much about himself online, he clearly is a private person with regards to his audience.  No great lesson learned from flipping through a few of his early entries other than to remind oneself that the webcomic one makes earlier in life (2000) probably should evolve a heck of a lot if you are still updating it in 2014.

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