2010/06/17

Riot
It's kicking off!

Word on the street (actually, in the change room of the Sheraton Hotel Fitness Club this lunchtime) is that the authorities expect disruptions from communists, deadbeats, tattoo-artists and other non-conformists in downtown Toronto starting next Monday, a full 5 days before the actual G20 Summit officially takes place.

I dismissed this as nothing more than rumour yet, when I got back to the office, I found a City email entitled "G20 - Toronto: Message from City Manager Joe Pennachetti" awaiting me.

Obviously, the City is preparing for the worst. The high points are:

You are expected to report for your scheduled hours of work as assigned during both the week leading up to the Summit and during the Summit.

  • In doing so, do not take actions that would jeopardize your personal safety.
  • Review all circumstances (such as the extent of crowding, the activities of demonstrators) in determining whether further direction from your supervisor/manager is needed.
  • If reporting to work in Metro Hall or other work locations adjacent to the Summit venue, give yourself extra time to get into your workplace.
  • Carry your City and personal identification at all times, as they may be required in order to gain access to your work location.
  • It is recommended that you dress casually in the downtown core.
  • Remember that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees freedom of opinion, expression and peaceful assembly. However, demonstrators cannot lawfully destroy property or engage in other illegal conduct. It is highly recommended that you not engage in discussions or disagreements with demonstrators.


My favourite bit is "It is recommended that you dress casually in the downtown core".

Obviously, the City believes the protesters are adherents of the philosophy "suits versus dungarees" first espoused by Herb Tarlek, circa 1980:
HERB TARLEK:
The whole world is in revolution. And not just here, but everywhere. And you know who's at war? It's The Dungarees v. The Suits. The whole world is in two armed camps. Over here you have The Dungarees and over here The Suits.

Remember the rise in the 50s? It was The Dungarees v. The Suits. And then Watergate. Those guys arrested were wearing dungarees and who suffered for it?

LES NESSMAN:
The Suits.

HERB TARLEK:
Exactly.

LES NESSMAN:
There are issues Herb.

HERB TARLEK:
The issues, Les, are a smokescreen.

Now listen. When a son disobeys his father, what's he wearing?

LES NESSMAN:
The son? um... dungarees!

HERB TARLEK:
And what's the father got on?

LES NESSMAN:
Probably a suit!

HERB TARLEK:
You see what I mean Les? And you know what's worse? The fathers are beginning to wear dungarees too!

LES NESSMAN:
That's right!

HERB TARLEK:
So are the mothers!

LES NESSMAN:
It's just like the Body Snatchers!

Even in times of tribulation, like this, I can rely on Herb and Les to give me a laugh.

Bring it on, outside agitators and their sheep-like followers! We casually dressed City minions intend on providing the full gamut of municipal services next week, regardless of any potential danger from the forces of entropy.

Also, it should be noted that, as unionised hourly wage earners, we don't get paid if we don't show up for work.

2010/06/02

Fearless World Cup 2010 Predictions

I think I can safely predict that lots of very interesting things will be happening in South Africa this June/July. Unfortunately, I expect most of them will probably be taking place off the pitch.

This time around I am sure that my predictions will be a little more à point since I have harnessed a powerful new predictive tool: Panini's Official World Cup 2010 Sticker Book. Once I have collected all the stickers, this will allow me to make a thorough assessment of how good a team is going to be, based on whether they look like they are good in their profile photos.

WC 2010 group A
Group A - who the frack knows?
This should be an easy group for France, but their recent poor record under Raymond Domenech (who already has a successor lined up) and indications of an unsettled squad (eg. Wll.i.am Gallas is sulking because Patrice Evra was made Captain) means that France will have trouble getting out of the group stage.

For the rest of them I choose South Africa to come in second in the group because AFAIK no host country has been eliminated in the group stages. And the winner?

The team I pick to win the group is Uruguay because they did very well in the qualification phases, and more importantly have a festive flag. Compare their happy sun with Argentina's pouting sun and you will see what I mean:

Uruguay and Argentina

Finally, I can't take Mexico seriously, as their 2 top forwards' (Giovani Dos Santos and Carlos Vela) preformances for me in World Soccer Manager 2010 have shown them to be so lazy they could be labelled the Brazilians of Central America.

Group B
This one looks easier to predict. Even with the wacky antics of their meatball of a manager, Diego Maradona, Argentina should win the group because a) they have good hardworking players and b) they are really good at cheating (AKA 'diving').

As for second place, this one is a toss up for me between Nigeria and South Korea. (Greece I have discounted out of hand ever since 1992, when I witnessed a physical confrontation between 2 Greek stevedores in the port of Rhodos. Enough said.)

On a man-to-man basis, it is hard to take the shrimps of the Republic of Korea seriously when they are compared to the strapping mandingos of Nigeria. On the other hand, presumably the Koreans are more team-oriented than the Nigerians (they are orientals, after all) and have won twice and drawn once in the 3 times the two teams have met. So second place, South Korea.

Group C
This one should be easy to call. If England don't win this group, they should all be taken out behind the chemical sheds and shot. Since this is the group stage, there are no penalty shoot-outs and thus they have no excuse for losing.

As for the USA-USA-USA, I expect 'Landycakes' Donovan and his band of merrie men to progress to the group of 16 where they will be given a short sharp lesson by Germany.

Algeria I believe can be dismissed because they have only one player in the English Premier League (Nadir Belhadj) while Slovenia I have dismissed as a country ever since they spearheaded the breakup of a once proud country, Yugoslavia.

Group D
Probably no surprises here. Germany are perennials and have done very well in qualification, pointing to them winning the group. For second place, I expect Serbia to narrowly beat Ghana.

This is a sentimental choice for me since Serbia is one of the two European countries in WWII that didn't jump at the chance to massacre their jews, gypsies and other undesirables (Italy was the other). I have nothing against Ghana, it is just that a team can't be made up of 10 mid-fielders and a goalie and expect to win.

As for Australia, I have said in the past what I think of Australians and in my considered opinion, a group of happy monkeys are not going to get out of the group stages, let alone win the World Cup.

Group E
Holland should take this group quite easily due to the weak draw. Denmark let me down once before when I bet on them (1986), and having the likes of Niklas Bendtner playing for them now isn't exactly going to make me change my mind.

For second place, I am going for Cameroon over Japan because their main man, Samuel Eto'o, is the only top African player in the tournament who hasn't been injured in the last month and that must count for something. Plus, I know nothing about Japan besides the fact that Shunsuke Nakamura felt that he is too good for Celtic (he isn't, BTW).

Group F
While I am sure most people predict that Italy will win this group easily, I disagree. Yes, they will weasel their way into the Group of 16 in their usual cheating, whinging fashion but I expect them to do so with a very thin margin for error, finishing second.

As for the rest, I expect Paraguay to win the group by default since New Zealand have a racist nickname (the "All-Whites" !?!) and my Panini stickerbook reveals that the Slovakia team are a bunch of skinheads.

Group G
The 'Group of Death', at least for North Korea and Ivory Coast since Brazil and Portugal are expected to romp through the round.

Brazil are favourites to win the tournament through the efforts of lazy clowns like Robinho and Elano, neither of whom can be bothered to make an effort for the clubs that actually pay them to play. Not all Brazilians are like this, people like Ramires and Thiago Silva consistently make an effort at the club level, yet it seems to be these people that are sidelined when it comes to the national side. Go figure.

Portugal, on the other hand, is expected to go through due solely to the greasy, winking efforts of Christiano Ronaldo, the most despised player on the planet.

Hopefully, Ronaldo will suffer a career-ending injury in his first five minutes on the pitch but even if this happens I expect Portugal to beat North Korea (a totally unknown quality) and Ivory Coast who are missing the googly-eyed scoring specialist Didier Drogba.

Group H
Spain will win this group, of course, since they are one of the favourites with one of the deepest squads in the tournament (a fact which will become increasingly relevant as the month wears on).

I am picking Chile to come in second in this group for a couple of reasons. One, in the sticker album they are a very attractive bunch in a Desi Arnaz, Richard from Lost kind of way. Two, they are the only team in the tournament who are explicitly committed to attacking soccer.

Switzerland? Maybe an outside chance of coming second should Chile falter, but Honduras are really just there as a make-weight, regardless of how many players they have that play at Wigan Athletic.

After the Group Stages
Here is how I see the latter stages working out according to my Group predictions. (Click to see an image that is actually readable):

WC2010 draw

As you can see, I have made a couple of questionable predictions in the post-group stages. Because I dislike Brazil so much (do you remember that Nike commercial from about 12 years ago when they were kicking balls all over the place waiting in line in an airport?) I decided that they will lose to Holland in the Quarterfinals.

Also, I think that Spain's recent successes are a fluke, rather than the new normal, and that they will revert to their old, bottling ways when they lose to Germany in the Semifinals.

(The tournament graphic is courtesy of ESPN Bracket Predictor where I am a member of the Lawyers, Guns and Money Group, password for joining is "zenon", deadline June 11.)

Update
Since creating the above graphic I bottled it, and chose Germany to beat Holland in the final, rather than vice-versa.