Sunday, July 18, 2010

A World Of Knowledge

Viva the motherland!!!!!!

What a final! I'm probably in the minority in saying that, with everyone complaining about the refereeing and the mounds of missed opportunities. But hey, better that than every American sportscaster grilling a penalty-kick final for the next 4 years. If you look at it, it was the only way that the biggest sporting event in the world could end, with two storied soccer nations that needed an extra 30 minutes to duke it out for their first world title. As I finished celebrating Andres Iniesta's goal in the middle of The Joshua Tree in Allston, I realized that this is becoming more of an event on this side of the pond. Yeah, the American Cinderella story ended against Ghana, but many of us took a heavy interest afterward, with viewers backing their finals pick with as much fervor as they would their gridiron squads. Comes to show you that even through the midst of the brutally backstabbing mess that was LeBron's 'decision', sports can provide us moments of pure passion and excitement that's far distant from the next muliti-million dollar contract. As a student to this soccer phenomenon, I continue to learn the many quirks and nuances of the beautiful game. Here are some lessons I took from this African spectacle.

For the final time, the vuvuzela is annoying.
Just when you thought that was the sound of your TV imploding, or South Africa going through a killer bee problem in their winter time. The monotonous drone of the vuvuzela invaded and conquered the stadiums of South Africa with a high decibel. It has even blamed for spreading sickness, hacking down the performances of the world's greats and even destroying a few windpipes. The craze proved to spread like a virus, as it made its way through the American grandstands in Miami when the Marlins gave out 15,000 in a World Cup promotion that would literally and figuratively, well, blow. Makes me sort of regret that I didn't buy stocks in earplugs last month. I know it's a cultural tool. But like Heidi Montag's recent plastic surgery binges and American Idol, some things just need to stop.

Guess I see why the Dutch made it this far.

In the World Cup, wearing a mini skirt may get you in trouble.
Apparently, two skirt-wielding Dutch ladies were arrested and detained for allegedly participating in an ambush marketing campaign for Bavaria Beer, who paid the ride for over 30 women to support their Oranje footballers in South Africa. Guess it's pretty difficult for ladies in skirts not to get attention, but to get it for some marketing conspiracy is something else. Something tells me that a vuvuzela crack down would have been more popular amongst the populous, but I guess I'm only talking for the red-blooded males here. Either way, shame on you South Africa police. Shame on you! Sideways head nods all the way around.

Diego Maradona is still a disgraceful human being.
Don't get me wrong, Diego Maradona is one of the top 3 players/compelling people to ever play this sport. But even with all the energy and love to his team he showed on the sidelines, Maradona still showed to the world that he is as much of a loathsome figure to some as he is beloved to others. Running over a camerman is one thing, but to curse him out for being there while he lays injured just seems like something that would only come from the worst behaved on 6th Street in Manhattan. And then there was him calling out Pele to go back to the museum after comments he made as well as to Michel Platini's 'Frenchness', making Maradona have about as much social grace as an elephant with ice skates. I love Messi, but it's Maradona's consistent buffoonery that forced me not to root for Argentina in 2010. That or him promising to run around Buenos Aires with what God gave him if they won. But anyway, while we're still kind of on the French....

Karma is a.....well, you know
See: 2010 French National team. Classic! Enough said.

Nation's best friend or worst enemy?

A hot reporter girlfriend maybe a risky proposition if you're a goalie.
The goalie position easily has to be the loneliest position on the field. You're pretty much on an island, in charge of defending a vast space, spending a majority of the game as a cautious on-looker. So it's no wonder that every once in a while you may be caught off guard, so to speak, taking a trip to Dreamland. Well, at least that's what's what the citizens of your beloved country will think when you allow a goal that puts your country on the brink of exiting the world stage. Want another reason to blame Canada? Well, Britain got on board for blaming ex and Toronto native Elizabeth Minett for distracting British goalie Rob Green's sad excuse for a stop that helped the U.S. equalize the opening game of the group stage. And then there is Spanish goalie Iker Casillas, who allowed the lone goal in that Swiss early in the group stage. Who did the blame go to you ask? None other than the main Spanish reporter for the Cup, Sara Carbonero (wowsers!), who he just happens to be dating currently. So much for the 'un-biased' interview. But I guess it worked out for San Iker in the end, and if it does, you should definitely reward here like a saint should, in front of the whole world to see!

When all else fails, blame the ball.
Believe it or not, I think I know what's been getting more heat than Howard Webb, or any other ref that has officiated over a match this World Cup. Seems like the Jabulani has been denied some love this World Cup where it has been blamed for being believe-it-or-not, too aerodynamic, while having as straight of a trajectory in mid-air as a inadequately designed paper airplane, creating the 2nd lowest goals per game average in World Cup history. It was in South Africa where we learned that a soccer ball could have 'knuckleball'-type flight. Along with the vuvuzela, the ball, whose name meas 'celebration', prevented many of the Rooneys, Messis and Ronaldos from doing just that, affecting the quality of the tournament for some. Unless it was a game involving Germany or the Netherlands, the scores read virtually binary in many of the other fixtures in the tourney. As flawed as the ball design was, it can't be blamed for the lack of goals as stellar defensive sides like Uruguay, Paraguay, Spain and Portugal became mainstays in the group of 16. Guess the run...ehem..goal prevention theory goes far beyond baseball.

Let's do it again in Brazil in 2014!

Friday, June 11, 2010

It's A World Affair

Looks like the party convoy is set to roll in.

Even with the Celtics in the finals and the recent resurgence of the Sox, the enchanting croak of the vuvuzela is luring me in. It's World Cup 2010, ladies and gents, about as unavoidable as soaking up a bit of petroleum product with a swim in the Gulf in recent times, or the temptation to say the name Siphiwe Tshabalala 10 times fast. As a casual soccer fan in the past, the World Cup was a prominent event of interest for me, but it was more of an aquarium-type experience as I watched the inhabitants of my town (about a third with Portuguese descent) catch the fever that only the biggest sporting tournament on the globe can bring while tapping the glass with the Ronaldo flopping cracks. With a club team chosen, the fact that I can name more than 5 players on Cameroon's team and with me using the word 'pitch' for more than a curveball, I guess you can say that this is the first World Cup that I am in the fish tank, so-to-speak. Besides, there is not too many instances in which you will voraciously re-hash Revolutionary Way/War of 1812 issues on a Saturday afternoon at your TV screen, unless you are on some rowdy debate team. In the midst of my ever-growing knowledge and interest in the beautiful game, and as a few refs are studying up on their English curse words, a few questions are going to linger in my brain until that final whistle in Johannesburg a month from now. It's gametime, world!

For the U.S., it's gonna take a little more than a lot of flexing.

How will the U.S. perform?
The crystal ball seems to be floating with a little optimism for our red, white and blues. The Americans arguably enter the World's game with one of the top goalies in the world in Tim Howard, and with Group C containing upstarts like Algeria and Slovenia, the U. S. of A have a solid chance of reaching the Sweet 16 in South Africa. With all that being said, I don't really have the highest expectations for the US. in 2010, at least for a having a long, successful run. Despite the Dempsey/Donovan attacking combo, the Americans seem to be severely lacking on the defensive side of the ball. Jozy Altidore's ankle sure doesn't make me feel all too cozy, and the prospect of seeing Wayne Rooney bulldozing Oguchi Onyewu and his healing left knee on Saturday is all too real of a nightmare for me. Even Landon Donovan has proclaimed in a couple of interviews that this country as at least a couple of World Cups away from truly breaking out. But hey, you can never lose too much faith in your country in a tourney as grand as this. Imagine actually pulling off a magical run while beating countries that worship soccer as a natural rite of passage, all while we as a country on average are spending more time photo shopping LeBron James into their favorite team's uni. If we even make it to the semifinals, we would just have to fly Al Michaels down in the event of the impossible to make some kind of unique utterance. Unfortunately, I think the chances of the stars and stripes winning this thing is exactly that, a miracle.

How do you say, 'Au Revoir' in Zulu?

Who will be the biggest surprise/disappointment?
So hard to pick, considering at even some of the best teams have great obstacles to overcome. From Maradona's aura to Spain's absence of luck, it only takes one lackluster game to shock a world of football fans, as well as paralyze a country that had high hopes of a confetti shower in their capital city. As much as I don't want to scare my Portuguese peers, even the 3rd ranked Portugal may be susceptible to the snake bite for being in the same group as superpower Brazil and depending on Didier Drogba's health, a formidable Ivory Coast squad. Even the English squad doesn't impress me with David James in goal, increasing my hopes for an American upset. But for the disappointments, you may not have to look further than the participants of the 2006 final. As the virtual geriatrics of the tournament, Italy title defense hopes are shaky at best and probably have the highest probability of tanking if not for being slotted in a fairly easy Group F. So the Stinky Boot will go to the hands-on French team (Had to do it!), who will not only fall victim to the salacious sex scandal that has affected a few of the team's key players (Ribery, Benzema), but possibly to a defensive-minded Uruguayan squad (not-to-shabby 16th in the world), who have the offensive punch of Forlan/Suarez to boost their advancement out of Group A, giving birth to my biggest South African surprise team.

Mr. Mandela, many nations are turning their eyes to you.

How will South Africa do as hosts?
Saying that this World Cup is a big deal is an understatement. Not only is this pivotal for one of the world's fastest-growing economies, but this is of high importance to a continent who is hosting an event of this magnitude for the 1st time. Many have already lauded this South African World Cup as one of the biggest modern day historical events in modern African history. That doesn't mean that South Africa haven't caught some flak for some of the goings-on in their country. It seems as if all I've seen is more of South Africa's peccadilloes, all those stories on ESPN's Outside the Lines on corrective rape and human trafficking seem to be the images emitted by the cathode rays to the public as of late. On top of that, we've all been reminded of the country's high rape and murder rate to go along with that nasty bout in their past with apartheid and how it still affects a free-South Africa to this day. Turns out that the nation is hoping that this World Cup will attract more white talent to a predominantly black football corps, exposing some of the complicated race and class issues that still plague South Africa. We also can't forget the tragedy of the Togo bus ambush at the Cup of African Nations in Angola almost 5 months back. Hell, even the vuvuzela, the official noisemaker of the World Cup in 2010, could potentially spread flu according to some studies. But like the world at large, the nation of South Africa has been prepping themselves physically and mentally for this event. They know as much as anybody that this is grand moment for the reputation of a continent, and they will not let anything take away from the magnitude, as well as what the World Cup could potentially improve from an economical and social standpoint with all this media exposure. It's not necessarily that they won't screw this up, South Africa just can't afford to.

The obstacle to world greatness maybe closer to home than you think.

Will South Africa be the launching pad for Messi's legend?
International success, or the lack of, seems to be the one big counter-attack that many of Messi's detractors have been proclaiming that separates him from some of the all-timers in the sport's rich history. Judging from the 45 goals he scored for the reigning champions of Spanish football, the galaxies are lining up for something special for the next month. As a culé myself, the possibility of Lionel Messi breaking out on the international stage is the main reason why I am so excited for this World Cup. However, it may not be his foreign opponents, but a few domestic factors that will inhibit the high climb. With options like Gonzalo Higuain, Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero, head trainer Diego Maradona (Yup, that one) has plenty of options of how to put the ball to the back of the net. In fact, the mercurial Maradona maybe the single most important factor as to whether Messi finally achieves the international success that will possibly propel him over Maradona's legendary accomplishments. It's a big fear for me, as well as every other Messi fan that the combination of Maradona's ego and options up front will not only destroy Messi's chances of being an all-time great, but more importantly ruin Argentina's chances up holding up the trophy for the 1st time since that glorious day in Mexico 24 years ago. Even with an Argentinian triumph, let's just hope that a taser is around for immediate use once Diego gets back to romping around Buenos Aires. In the end, I think Messi's talent is too explosive right now to be kept bottled up by any force. Golden Ball, anyone?

A golden ACE banadge may need to be rewarded after it's all said and done.

Can Spain finally break through in the biggest stage on the globe?
At the dawn of the 2010 go-round, many have reserved the tallest portion of the podium for Spain, and for good reason. Coming off a dominant title run in the 2008 Euro tourney, Spain probably boasts the most world-class players currently are in top form. With footballers like David Villa, Xavi, Pique, and stud keeper Iker Casillas, it's somewhat of a shocker that they haven't already handed over the trophy to La Roja in the pre-tourney concert. But using history as a guide, it's a dangerous proposition to coronate the Spaniards in any World Cup. In fact, Spain's best World Cup showing was a 4th place finish in 1950, and their performance in international play has been marred more by underachievement than by pure futility. The dominating Euro 2008 in many ways, was more of the exception than the rule in terms of Spain's history in global competition, for it marked sort of a demon cleanser and their former title of chokers. However, you have to wonder if that loss to the U.S. in the Confederations Cup is still lingering In order for Spain to triumph on Johannesburg soil, they must outperform their marginal past, while having their medics do a little overachieving themselves. With players like Iniesta, Fabergas and striker Fernando Torres battling some form of injury or another, the medics' ability to heal these bruised superstars will play as much of a role in Spain re-writing their international history as a well-placed pass from Xavi.

Mochaman's World Cup Predictions

2010 World Cup Sweet 16

Group A:

Group B:

Group C:
United States

Group D:

Group E:

Group F:

Group G:

Group H:

Golden Ball:
Lionel Messi ARG

Golden Boot:
David Villa ESP

Final Match
Spain 3 vs. Argentina 2

Third Place Game
Germany 2 vs. Netherlands 1

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Didn't We Do This A Month Ago?

See! Some things have just got in the way.

I'm baaaaaaaaaaack (again)! So much for coming back full force in May. I mean, there has been a ton to write about. A Barcelona league title, a somewhat-shocking Celtics final run and BP's little 'oopsies' moment were all for the taking for me to wax poetic about, or at least a chance to wax informal prose. To be fair, there was a lengthy computer issues that needed to be resolved. After pulling out my own hair between constant sessions with call centers and getting all my data backed up without an operating system (Figure that one out), it's back to go time, but the aftermath is still making me dizzy, especially after looking at the final bill to regulate this whole debacle. I'd also be lying if I didn't say that a bout of pure laziness (to be fair, an 'active laziness') hadn't slowed my blogging to a halt. Between getting accustomed to a new job and trips to D.C., it's been a wee bit difficult to sit down and boil up those creative juices into 300-600 words of enlightenment. Then again, it would be pretty difficult to compete at the blogging level up against the times when the idleness known as my endless job search last year took up all my minutes this time last year. It turns out that this lengthy pause is just what I've needed to get the pistons in my brain working into a new level of horsepower, pondering about new and interesting topics while refreshing my perspectives on the things that are already familiar to me. After all, it would have been boring for me to write about a 4th place Red Sox team that seemed to be on the decline, all while trying too hard to conjure up a refreshing nugget during this cyclone known as my life. It's all about quality, and it wouldn't be fair to you or me if I just blurted out half-hearted entries just for quick boosts to my reader stats. Especially after the creative blend I was able to pull off with my 'Locked Up' entry, I knew I could push myself further and be able to paint a meaningful picture without writing every time the wind changed direction. I vow not to let my 'active laziness' slow me down (I mean it this time!), but I'm also determined to bring quality over quantity as I head into the second year of the Cloud 10 administration. Probably be less articles I bang out, but hopefully each entry becomes more enlightening in some way. So, this is just declaration that the flint has been struck once again, and the chronicles will sure continue. Now, here's some montages just to show you I haven't been trapped in a catacomb for the past 2 months!

Memorial Day In D.C.

"O.M.G" - Usher (Featuring - Raymond v. Raymond, 2010

Red Sox - Orioles 4/30 (From The State Street Pavilion)

"Rocker" - AC/DC - Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, 1976

Monday, May 3, 2010

An Unwelcome Return

Sorry, Paps. Can't hide from this stinker.

What a cobweb buster. Well, what can bring me back from my month-long hiatus from blogging (Sorry about that by the way)? What could possibly compel me enough to make some time to spew some vitriol with the help of my keyboard? What could be bigger news than a gigantic oil spoil, or my beloved Barça's exit from the Champions League? How about getting swept by a team that we were 16-2 against last year and were 4-18 coming into this weekend's debacle of a series, making it the the 1st time since the brand-spanking new Gerald Ford administration was putting Watergate in the dust that the Sox were swept in Baltimore in a 3-game set. And the back talk I'm getting from my friends in the Maryland/DC area is only the tip of the iceberg. So much for a Cloudcast comeback on how I spout about an emerging Sox team and how a certain McWalk-Off will direct our season for the better (Attended that doozie of a game, but no montage. Stupid me for not bringing the camera.). I mean, our bullpen out-Baltimored the Orioles 'pen, which says a whole lot about the state of our team right now, and reaffirms the concerns I have had about our relief corps since Spring Training. Our offense out-Baltimored the O's in clutch situations with a 4/20 clip with runners in scoring position during the nuclear meltdown known as that series this past weekend. Seeing the likes of Will Ohman and Matt Albers turn into Koufax/Drysdale made me as nauseous as someone who has drank the tap water in Boston this past weekend. I won't lie, I wish this team was a horse just so I could shoot it, put it out of its misery turn it into glue. Hey, it would be something useful for once. As great as the B's and C's are doing, my heart's affinity gears strongly for the Sox, and you probably know how that's working out for me, especially because this year's team is more vanilla than last year's version (or that Frosty I had a Wendy's two weeks ago), and they're losing to the likes of the O's on top of it. Even though it's only May and I realize that it is just past dawn in the season, I'm already in the pantry looking for that towel.

I wish I was really watching 'Groundhog Day'.

Where do I start? Well let's check the basics on Theo's genius run prevention strategy for '10. Team ERA: 4.78, good enough for 12th in the American League. The combined 5.60 ERA of Lester and Beckett doesn't help the 4.96 starter's ERA, nor does it validate any preseason predictions made for this rotation. Dice-K has me all but abandoning my prediction for a stellar comeback season. When you implode like he did on Saturday even when he was so under control earlier in the game has to indicate a mental timidness, a fear of returning to the failure he was so familiar with last year. The bullpen has me feeling less cozy, with Okajima's 6.75 ERA and Papelbon's knack for drama not exactly making it easy for me to sleep at night. Fielding Percentage: .980, which places 13th in the AL. Beltre has already made 5 errors at 3rd, Bill Hall has forced me into terrible flashbacks of my Little League career on a couple of instances in the field and our dynamic outfield duo have been done in by some bad ribs and a kidney stone issue that has become an eerie trend for Sox center fielders (See: Coco Crisp, 2006). Well, so much for pitching and defense, huh? But the holes are more frequent, and sooooooo much deeper. Our inability to throw out even the cement-footed on the basepaths has grown into a bigger malaise than even the most cynical sports blogger could ever even imagine. In fact, both 'Tek and V-Mart have caught only a combined 7 out of 45 runners (15.6%), which is actually good compared to the abysmal 2 for 40 clip (5%)that the tandem tallied prior to the start of the road trip at Toronto. The 9-steal performance against Tim Wakefield that I had the privilege to witness couple of weeks back only made our powerlessness against base-stealers more apparent, while compelling me to down more $8 dollar drafts to ease my suffering. And let's not let the hitting (or lack of) slide off that easily. The struggles of key run producers like Drew (.214, 29 Ks in 84 ABs), V-Mart (.230, 1 HR, .310 SLG) have stunted us enough, especially in clutch situations. However, the Big Papi situation (.159, 23 Ks in 63 ABs) consumes our attention the most, for we all wonder if the sun has set on his career. The bat speed just isn't there, as evidenced by the many floaters in the zone he used to make satellites are now just foul tips. The worst part is that you know the past two years have got to him. The steroid scandal and the slow start last year in particular have just affected him drastically, and you can tell with the blowup he had with the media after his struggles after only the 2nd game of the season. Don't you have to slump at least a whole month before expletives start being thrown around in clubhouse interviews? Even by getting the rest of the guys off the DL and on the lineup card, I'm starting to wonder if Ellsbury can charge us up enough to get back to playoff contention, or if a 37-year old Cameron can be a big contributor or just become another casualty like the other 30-somethings on the club. With this team walking on a 'bridge' so to speak, the Sox were the team out of the Big 3 in the AL East that could least afford a start like the one they have produced, especially when the Rays and Yanks have been on the high-speed rail to begin the season. The cherry on top of all this is that we head back home playing a combined 7 games against the two participants of the 2009 ALCS in the Angels and the Yankees this week. With all this Yes, there is 137 contests left to play and you always have to be on 'wait-and-see' mode in a long season such as a baseball campaign. I mean, who would have thought Varitek would be the MVP of the team at the end of April? With all the obsessing and prepping I do for this team, I would hate to give up on a season before the vernal equinox. But with the many deficiencies plaguing the team, I think I could feel confident in booking those Europe tickets for October.

Mochaman's Fantasy Baseball Report
- Bubba Gump Shrimpz - 29-24-3 (2nd, Vitamins and Supplements, 7 GB)
Tis the season, ladies and gents! Great to start up the fantasy baseball reports again. So far, so good on the title defense, especially after surviving a disastrous opening week. Carpenter, Johnson, and Niemann have teamed up with waiver-wire pickups like Fister and C.J. Wilson to create a staff that has been out of this planet despite the struggles of Felix Hernandez. Hopefully, it only gets better when Strasburg gets called up in June and tears it up like expected (knock on wood)! However, my team has slowly becoming the training room with the growing amount of injuries (Kurt Suzuki, Brett Anderson, Mike Gonzalez). Regardless, Choo and crew need to rake if I am to overcome this week, considering all of my starters will only have one start to contribute.

- Mocha Sox - 18-20-2 (8th, Yahoo Public 162850, 6.5 GB)
Lukewarm start, but better than expected considering I missed this draft (big oops!). The return of Cliff should help out a staff that has been saved by the wonder known as Ubaldo Jimenez. Another Rockie, Carlos Gonzalez, has been an absolute stud. Hoping that he can keep up this production year round. Hoping Prince Fielder and V-Mart can heat up an carry this team past consolation bracket territory. Either way, I think a couple of trades are in order.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Year On Cloud 10

Year 1: Monumental Success

After all of the Eurotrips, Sox-Yanks marathon games, celebrity sex scandals and mixing a little too much wine with beer this Easter, Cloud 10 has made it to the one-year mark, and I have enjoyed every bit of it. From chronicling my adventure in Oslo, to conjuring up the best post- lotto strategy, to sharing my joy/frustration that comes with every minute of following the Red Sox, I have had more than a blast sharing my rants and reviews with each and everyone of you. And I'm motivated to keep it going for another year. In a year which my cash flow wasn't exactly at its peak, this blog was a valuable outlet for my personal acclimation into the surrounding events of my so-called adulthood. Plus, a little baseball talk doesn't hurt anybody either, right? Anyhoo, here are a few samples of me in the past year putting on my best impersonation as someone who knows what they are talking about.

Opening Day....It's A Holiday, A Way Of Life, An Escape - 4/8/2009
My first true post on the blog, which details just how important the first day of the national pastime is to folks like me, despite any hardship that comes our way.

1st Ever Gamecast On Cloud 10: Sox - A's
- 4/15/2009
My first gamecast (soon to be Cloudcast) where I let my emotions known as this marathon game was happening. Even though this game ended in a 2:30 AM disappointment, a Cloud 10 favorite was born. Aaah, the days of unemployment.

Front Row At Fenway + Doubleheader = Best Day Ever
- 4/23/2009
No, seriously. It was the best day ever! Hope these photo montages do the day justice!

European Picture Show
- 6/15/2009
Killer montages from each and every country I visited on my second Eurotrip. Images of schnitzels and Gaudi structures coexist so well with the music of Lady Gaga and Flo Rida. No, believe it!

R.I.P. To An Iconic Three - 6/27/2009
Paying homage to three pop culture icons (Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson) who fell victim to the whole bizarre celeb trio death, but left us with so much of a legacy.

Destination Dreamin' - 7/17/2009
The birth of what was to become the '5-Piece', detailing my most desired destinations worldwide. Seriously working on Hawaii for this year.

If I Had A Dollar For Every Wishful Thought.... - 11/23/2009
A personal favorite of mine, displaying the right way to approach the triumph of a lotto jackpot (if your reeeeeeeeal lucky enough). You can thank that documentary on E! and a bad economy for this piece.

Tigers In Celebrity Cages - 12/2/2009
Me ranting about us as a society building up athletes to an image they really aren't. Wished I liked writing papers when I was in school. This has the beginnings of a thesis written all over it.

In Awe Of The Aughts - 12/20/2009
Lots of admiration for the past 10 years + a lot of time on my hands = this piece.

Locked Up In Your Own Prison - 2/5/2010
Comparing my brief experience as an MLN salesman to a favorite show of mine on National Geographic. Almost uncanny in similarities.

Is there anything unique you wish to see me pick apart in this blog? More political stuff? More '5-Piece' topics? Want more Barça/soccer entries perhaps? Comment away, my friends! I gotta another year of creativity in me, for sure.