the answer to yesterday’s question is:

A small statue of a rat meditating!  Everybody needs a small Mexican pottery statue of Happy Buddha Rat*.   He is usually going to sit behind my keyboard under my monitor, but I took him outside to photograph him.  As usual, I kind of went to town with the editing suite on the phone and ended up making a variety of Happy Buddha Rat squares, which might make good icons.

*If nothing else, this wonderful rat inspired one of those famous sentences never before spoken in the English language, in this case: “I have to get my meditating rat out of your car.”

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things to want and buy

A cartoonist spent a day out today, wandering across two counties, scribbling in her notebook, taking pictures of random objects, eating in cafes, and shopping.  There were many things to want and buy! Which of the following did she bring home?

  • large Mexican pottery rattlesnake,  glazed in bright colors and folkloric patterns
  • organic dog harnesses made of all natural soy fibers
  • live banana tree
  • small statue of a rat meditating
  • big baritone wind chime that sounds like a gong
  • beach towel in an Indian blanket pattern
  • package of four cloth leaves, about a foot across, fuzzy on one side and shiny on the other, one tan, one dark red, one dark brown, one olive green)

Answer tomorrow!

 

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world cup semifinals notes

The semifinals in this World Cup pretty much reflected what most American sports fans know and think about the Beautiful Game.  They know it is gritty yet slow paced, with a lot of action and not a lot of scoring, that even a single goal can be a rare treat and some games, the ones the real fans call the best games, grind through all 120 possible minutes with no score at all, to be settled in the heartbreaking gut check of a penalty shootout.  And they think “the rest of the world’s football” would be a lot better if somebody scored a whole lot of goals.

In the semifinal we got one of each.  Yesterday’s long, rainy struggle between the Netherlands and Argentina went down to a shootout.  And yes, my Oranje lost.  But my man Van Persie (Dutch striker.  Very handsome.)  subbed out near the end of the game having run 11.23 K , some of it in the pouring rain, and everybody else on both sides worked just as hard to get that scoreless tie and it was really sort of epic.  Even if I don’t really understand it.

And then there was Wednesday’s game.  You may have heard about it?  The one where Germany beat Brazil?  Into the ground? 7-1?   I was pretty confident I was seeing something rather special by the second goal, but when the Germans ended up scoring 4 goals in 6 minutes of clock time, I started feeling like I was in the presence of history.  And according to the commentators, I wasn’t wrong:

“I hope the people in the United States are sitting and enjoying this game, because they will never see a World Cup semifinal like this for the rest of their lives.  I am shell shocked.”

And these are old British football experts who have seen thousands of games in person and more on film and who know pretty much everything there is to know about the sport.  Even if you could care less about the outcome it was worth watching to hear these jaded old guys trot out the really strong football related language:

  • “If this was boxing, the referee would be stopping it to save Brazil from further punishment.”
  • “Brazil has simply unravelled.”
  • “You might as well just finish the game and walk off if you’re not going to run around.”
  • “I keep saying ‘appalling’ but I’m running out of words.”

What happened to Brazil?  Well, their star player, Neymar, was hurt, and their captain, and the core of their defense, was suspended for being shown too many little yellow cards.  Maybe they were never as good as they seemed to be, and maybe home field advantage can only do so much.  Maybe national pride and hope can become a burden rather than an encouragement.  Maybe they simply unravelled.

It will be interesting to see who the thousands of Brazilian fans will support in the final– Germany, whose supporters seem to consist of Germans and the players’ moms, or Argentina, Brazil’s major sporting rival.  Will hemispheric solidarity trump everyday hatred between the yellow and green and the sky blue and white vertical stripes?  No European side has ever won a World Cup staged in the Americas.

My football-loving neighbor told me two weeks ago Germany was going to win it all.  I’m afraid he may be proved right.

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how to make fake cinnamon rolls. hint: the cinnamon is not fake.

If you sometimes get a craving for big, sticky, yeasty cinnamon rolls, the kind with the white vanilla frosting all over them, and you also happen to have someone in your household who likes that dreadful King’s Hawaiian Bread, there is an easy solution to your craving.  Warning: this solution is hardly perfect from a nutritional standpoint, but it is much, much better for you than one of those gutbomb cinnamon rolls, and you don’t have to drive to the mall to get it.

King’s Hawaiian Bread, for those who are lucky enough to be unfamiliar with it, is a ghastly,  oversweetened, chunk style version of traditional soft crust white bread.  When used as advertised, as dinner rolls or buns for savory sandwiches, it is really quite horrible.  But I will admit it comes into its own when you let it get slightly stale and repurpose it.

Take a slightly stale King’s roll and slice it in thirds horizontally with a super sharp bread knife.  Soften some butter in the microwave and mix in a bit of sugar (remember the bread is already quite sweet) and a generous spoonful of really good cinnamon.  Butter the top and the bottom of the roll with the cinnamon butter, stack it back up, wrap it in a paper towel, and microwave it for 20 seconds or so.  And you have a pretty fabulous fake cinnamon roll.

Note: when you make these while distracted by a World Cup football match on a cloudy day, and the kitchen is in shadows, be sure to read the labels on those bottles you rummage out of the spice cabinet.  It’s  “Cinnamon” you’re looking for, not “Cayenne Pepper”.

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the dogs who belong to these

My dogs are normally pretty friendly, but they don’t want to meet the dogs that belong to these tie-outs.IMG_20140708_180313(More photographs of dogs with large, inexplicable rusty metal objects found on the sidewalks around the diggings for the new storm sewers.  The corgis report that walking in the dirt and sticking their heads into concrete pipes to look for mice are fun activities for dogs and much better than ordinary walks.)

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beyond love and hate: four letter words for hand tattoos

An aging punk character is floating around the edges of a prose story I am writing, and while the Mohawk and at least some of the piercings have been left in his past, the tattoos remain.  To me the tattoo-iest tattoo of all is the eight letter knuckle or finger tattoo.  Two words, four letters each, that you can never erase, or hide without wearing gloves. And while an image can be ambiguous, the knuckle tattoo spells everything out.  Of course my old punk has one– and he stand behinds whatever it says, even as he lives a “respectable” life as a businessman and community organizer.

But what does it say? The classic knuckle tattoo has LOVE on one hand and HATE on the other, but that’s been done. I’ve always liked the old sailor tattoo HOLD/FAST, but it has a military association that I’m not sure suits the character.  I was going to have to make something up, just like he did long ago.

I started out messing with combinations of  LOVE, SOUL, PUNK and TRUE, and my guess is he will end up wearing something like TRUE/PUNK or PUNK/SOUL.  But (to no one’s surprise) I didn’t stop there, and kind of got carried away making endless lists of words that would make great finger tattoos. Of course I’m going to share some of them here. Note that I am perfectly aware of all sorts of colorful but unsuitable options– they do call them “four letter words” for a reason.  I am trying to keep this blog PG rated, so please be moderate in your suggestions for additions to the list.  Also, there are lots of three letter words you can make into four letter words by making them plural.  These have been excluded for purely arbitrary reasons.  But BLUE/DOGS, for example, would certainly make a great tattoo. (I’m adding to my own original list as I think of stuff. Reader suggestions are in bold italics.)

  • Animals: FROG, LION, BIRD, HAWK, BEAR, WOLF, MOLE, FISH, ROOK
  • Colors: PINK, BLUE, GOLD, GREY
  • Numbers: FOUR, FIVE, NINE, SOME, MANY
  • Adjectives and other modifiers: TINY, HUGE, THIN, BARE, COLD, WARM, SLOW, FAST, TRUE, TALL, COOL, EVIL, RARE, LONG, DONE, GOOD, WELL, DEEP, OVER, MEAN, CUTE, FULL, OPEN, LOUD
  • Verbs: KEEP, HOLD, LOVE, HATE, DRAW, FALL, PLAY, SING, DROP, KNOW, TALK, BAKE, MARK, TAKE, WALK, CARE, WORK, PASS, STAY, READ, FAIL, OPEN
  • Misc. Nouns: BALL, SALT, CAPE, PUNK, HAIR, SOUL, BACK, NOTE, HERO, TREE, FLAG, FURY, HAND, CLASS, SHOT, ROAD, BAND, TEST, PATH, DUST, FEET, SKIN, PACK, FOOT, BONE, GAME, TIME, SAND,WIND, DIRT, FIST, WOOD, TAPE, WOOD, DUDE, HEAT

This is just what I came up with in an hour or so, while watching TV, but this short list is starting to offer up some great options already, from the strikingly obvious PLAY/BALL and  the title of that one Van Morrison song, WARM/LOVE, to the dark and shadowy EVIL/TREE and the mysterious NINE/HERO.  Or TALL/FROG for that matter.

If you come up with the perfect knuckle tattoo for you, try it out by lettering it onto yourself with markers first and see how everyone reacts.  I’m all for tattoos, but one you can’t hide under ordinary clothes is serious business.

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tumblr sunday– a firecracker bestiary

In honor of the holiday, please have a few classic firecracker labels with animals on them.  Labels of all kinds can be masterpieces of printing and design, and these firecracker labels, mostly from China, Hong Kong and Macau, have a particular aesthetic that appeals directly to cartoonists and comics artists.  Any of these labels would make (with a few modifications to the text)  great covers for comics.

(See the rest of the collection on my picture file tumblr, the Coelacanth Gallery.  Firecracker labels on tumblr: safer than blowing your fingers off and annoying the dogs.  Let’s be careful out there!)

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world cup quarterfinal notes

The quarterfinals are over–and there were no major surprises, I guess. I know three of the four pre-tournament favorites are in– everyone but Spain– and there is a nice mix of two European and two South American sides in the semis.  But between the injury to Brazilian star Neymar yesterday and the Netherlands’ unsatisfying victory over Costa Rica in a penalty shootout this afternoon, things seem unsettled.  I was hoping (again!) to see a more or less unambiguous potential champion emerge, and it still hasn’t happened.  All the semifinal teams seemed to play just well enough to win against tenacious opponents– which means the next round is hard for someone who knows as little about futbol as I do to predict.  Which I suppose it ought to be.  I’m still rooting for Brazil and my usual favorite Oranje.

I didn’t get a lot of notes out of the first three games– just a lot of questions, some of which may be mentioned here later if the answers are interesting enough– but the Netherlands-Costa Rica game yielded some beautiful examples of what I’m starting to think of as classic British football commentary.  These include:

  • Oranje player Robben  was “upended in spectacular fashion”  by a Costa Rican defender.  He sure was.
  • “There were six orange shirts ready to feast on any tasty morsel”  provided by a free kick.
  • And of course, the slightly obvious– Netherlands striker Van Persie (apparently usually reliable [and always very handsome]) “doesn’t have his finishing boots on tonight”

He didn’t.  But they won anyway.  That’s football, I guess.

(Edited to add that I did get a good look at the tattoo of Antwerp Cathedral when Belgian player Toby Alderweireld was shown a yellow card!)

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the fourth of july

Here’s hoping all of you are having a safe and happy fourth of July, whether or not it is a holiday where you happen to live.july4anitapage Here, we’re wearing silly hats and waving the flag.  Or washing dishes and watching Babylon 5.  One or the other.

(photo of Anita Page and friends via tumblr)

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world cup knockout follow up

In Tuesday’s post concerning the results of the World Cup knockout round (sorry– “round of 16″ sounds too boring), I mentioned a reason one might, if one’s favorite side had been knocked out, decide to follow Belgium as the tournament continues.  I had in my notes a quote from one of the British commentators saying that one of the Belgian players “had a tattoo of Antwerp Cathedral somewhere on his person”.

Alert reader Kim, who is apparently a fan of a) the World Cup, b) international level football in general, c) Belgium, d) athletic trivia, and/or e) the art of tattoo, promptly identified both the player and the location of the tattoo.  The answers are “Toby Alderweireld” and “his right arm” respectively.  I must say in passing that the phrase “somewhere on his person” suggested a more interesting place than the right arm.  I have been enjoying several days of speculation as to what would provoke  a person to get a tattoo of Antwerp Cathedral on a part of the body normally covered by a FIFA approved football kit, and am somewhat saddened to find myself cut off from an entertaining line of inquiry.

However, it is always better to know something than to not know it, and a quick Google image search for “Toby Alderweireld tattoo” yielded useful results.  Mr. Alderweireld has a number of striking tattoos, primarily of a religious nature, and one of the Cathedral is on the inside of his right arm.  The image on the left is pre-Cathedral,  and a shot of the finished tattoo, featuring the North Tower against the moon, is on the right.

So there you go.  Thank you Kim, and go Red Devils!

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