USA in World Cup Group of Death

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Leave it to Stephen Colbert to give us a lovely outlook on the US chances in the World Cup.

Stephen: “Why won’t he motivate our team?”

Beinholtz: “Do you mean lie to them? Tell them that they are better than he knows them to be? Nein. To love someone is to confront them with their own worthlessness.”

þjóðhátíðardagurinn – icelandic independence day – but… USA! USA! USA!

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Today is Icelandic independence day, part of the reason I always take this entire week off from work. June 17 (Icelandic independence day), June 18 (my birthday) and then the Swedish Midsummer holiday.

But in the midst of my celebrating my own birth, the birth of a nation and the cyclical birth of summer and bright summer nights, I am secretly (or not so secretly) chanting, “USA! USA! USA!” – which, if you know me, you know I would never in a million years do. But as I indulge in football match after football match in this year’s World Cup, I was cheering on the underdog American team but did not actually think they’d do anything. But then Seattle Sounders‘ player and national team captain Clint Dempsey scored in the first 34 seconds of the US’s first match (against Ghana). And the US actually won. Shocking.

For the Philatelically Inclined: Homoerotic Finnish Postage Stamps

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Just hours before I saw that Finland had introduced these unusual and rather groundbreaking postage stamps featuring homoerotic images, I had a playful debate with someone about “the best stamps ever”.

Homoerotic philately in Finland

Homoerotic philately in Finland

Now, sure, I write and talk about stamps a lot – but I am no philatelist. I have never collected or thought about the value of stamps (other than when the price goes up and my postal costs – as a lifelong pen pal type – go up). I have always sought to get the most interesting or visually stimulating stamps because I assume that is the kind of stamps my pen pals (and anyone receiving mail from me) would want to see. Not patriotic row on row of American flags! No. Give me the Johnny Cash or the March on Washington! Or Harvey Milk or… Jimi Hendrix! Give me the Imagine Peace Tower or Eyjafjallajökull! Give me the cutest depictions of animals ever on Swedish Christmas stamps – or even Swedish luminaries (albeit from totally opposite ends of the cultural spectrum – Nobel laureate Tomas Tranströmer and footballer Zlatan Ibrahimovic!). Give me heart-shaped French designer Valentine stamps! Just not something boring. So the playful argument ended up with a UK resident telling me he was going to outstamp my stamp prowess (I argued that my Swedish wildlife Christmas motif was the best ever, hands down). He claimed he could outdo it.

But before that could happen, I saw the breaking news – Finland had unleashed these stamps by influential artist Tom of Finland. Well, announced them, anyway. The real release, according to the Finnish post website, is in September.

Not that Finland has bored us too much with stamp design before (quite unlike Scandinavian nation, Norway – almost the world’s most boring stamps in my humble opinion. Bore-wegian stamps!) – they’ve given us Angry Birds, police cars, a whole lot of postal representations of Finnish design (and when it comes to design, is there any better?), an homage to their world-leading education system, Tove Jansson, teddy bears for Valentine’s Day (Teddy feels honored of course), Moomin, ice hockey, loads of nature – and that is just in the current lineup.

Postcards from Paradise” – Flesh for Lulu… “I fell under your spell…

We got so far and then there was nothing

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The slight heartbreak of little things piling up has hit me tonight. Already feeling a twinge of melancholy, the evening turned into a platform of little blooms of grief.

My friend’s poor cat passed away this evening. It was not unexpected, but the loss of a beloved pet – lovely, non-judgmental pets – always breaks my heart a bit.

Of course, understated but never underrated actor Philip Seymour Hoffman also passed away, and it just seemed so deflating. Such a waste. I often wonder about people blessed and cursed with so much talent. I discussed drug abuse with someone earlier, and he said something about famous people and their drug habits, but it struck me (without having any knowledge on the subject) that many of the most talented people probably already struggled with addiction issues before they ever dreamt of becoming “famous”. There is, I like to imagine, something so intense about embodying that kind of talent and losing oneself in one’s performances, that the temptation to lose oneself in drugs or some “altered state” is too great.

Eventually I succumbed to a discussion on the fucked-up things that happen to us as children and our helplessness about it and how those things influence (but hopefully don’t control) us.

Meanwhile I reflect on my own little, private issues and how I cannot bring myself to be open about them, even when there is something optimistic about them.

Now I am just hoping the Seattle Seahawks will not destroy the only good thing that can come of this day.

Where is my Firewall?

Seahawks + Dodging Deer = Another Commute

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This morning/middle of the night made for an awful commute. During the first third of the drive, the roads were clear, but every kilometer or so, I encountered big groups of deer playing in the road. I must have seen 100 deer in about 100 kilometers. I also saw a rabbit, which I have never seen around here, and two foxes. This winter, strangely, has been mostly devoid of moose. It occurred to me that my driving amounted to little more than dodging deer, which would not be a bad name for a video game. I got to use the whole road, just as the Seattle-based 1990s comedy sketch show, Almost Live encouraged Ballard drivers to do. You pay taxes on the whole thing – randomly weave all over the road!

On the second third of the road, most of it was covered with ice that had been covered over by snow. So many cars were off the road and so many tow trucks were pulling the cars out. The whole thing made me not only not want to drive but made me think seriously about the merits of living somewhere warmer – Hawai’i once more? Australia (perhaps much too warm)? Uruguay?

Thanks to the middle-of-night driving, I did not get to see my Seattle Seahawks win against the San Francisco 49s in their playoff game. It sounds like the Seahawks did not play at their best in the first half, so I know I would just have been getting angry and sick watching it anyway. By the time I was done driving the first two-thirds of the seemingly interminable three-hour commute and stopped off at a petrol station in Uddevalla, the Seahawks had claimed their place in the Super Bowl (versus the Denver Broncos). All kinds of mentions of it are going around the internet already – but it seems funny that the two places in the entire US to pass laws making recreational marijuana legal are the two places that send their football teams to the Super Bowl.

American Football – Go Seahawks – No Saints!

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In any other game or season, I would cheer for the New Orleans Saints. But when it comes down to it, I have to cheer for the “home team” (one of my homes anyway) – the Seattle Seahawks! Normally Seattle teams suck, so it’s a futile exercise in cheering endlessly for the underdog throughout the existence of our teams (until they are taken away from us, like the Sonics). It’s heartbreaking but expected. When one of our teams does something, it’s like we cannot actually believe it’s happening – and even as it’s happening, it is like we cannot have real faith that the success will continue. I always expect our teams to lose it.

Tonight I am watching the Saints-Seahawks game and despite the Seahawks’ season-long success, I am still sitting here waiting for the other shoe to drop. Normally I would not bother watching, but I managed to find a stream that works (I don’t have a tv). It’s fun to see how Seattle managed to put on one of its typical January weather “shows” (crazy wind and rain).