mercoledì, giugno 15, 2016

2016: holidays and stuff

After a busig beginning of the year, after hard work (and not so hard work), after difficult times, past the wooden strip of life (this first sentence doesn't mean a thing, it's simply a way to start off writing and put some gazoline in my writing tank), I've taken some holidays to spend in Italy. And, let's face it... my sister got married and that was a good reason too.

Italy lately, means Parma and the hill surrounding this sleepy city  at the south of Pianura Padana, home of the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.

Torrechiara Castle
I've been spending time here since I left Paris 4 years ago, and it's been a perfect spot to regenerate my physical and spiritual batteries. In the hills and mountains that begin rising from it's southern borders there are so many beautiful natural spots and interesting buildings that no stay here would be boring or repetitive. It's true, anyway, that I simply love to visit and visit again the same places, so this is not a problem a face.

Another important part of my visits here, other than the friends whom I come visit, it's the food that this part of Italy has to offer.

Anyway, I'm here, in it's sweaty streets during the day, and in its magical slopes during the evenings. Yesterday, a beautiful storm lighten up the darkening evening.

lunedì, maggio 02, 2016

Johnny Clegg and feeling better

It's been a tough 2/3 weeks. Shitty weather, shitty health, and worst news.

I cannot deny that's been hard. Simply walk around and enjoy normal stuff like friends and hail has not been easy, for example. And last week has been the worst. I spent it at home, constantly sick and sad.

To make it short, I've been listening to Johnny Clegg, I found one of my old CDs and the whole world today has changed. It's still quite gray, but light gray, not dark... it's a change.

domenica, maggio 01, 2016

Four seasons in a day

Amsterdam at it's best. Or better, the Netherlands and it's crazy weather. Last Saturday we had sun, clouds, hail, sun again, rain, sun again and again hail in one day. Well, technically in one afternoon.

It's been even worst on Sunday, when at one point there were snow too.
It's been spring, summer, autumn and winter in the same day. In no specific order.

This is the weather in the Netherlands. Today, a week later, it's sunny. Not warm, but sunny and the spring is blossoming.

It's still winter in my mind.

martedì, aprile 26, 2016

Life, you fucking bastard!


Today a good friend died. She was a stubborn girl. She would not back away from a decision. She was stubborn and one of the good people on Earth. What I am now, where I've been, I own all of that mostly to her. She chose me to work in her team, with no clear good reason other than she understood I would be good in a thing I've never done. She was, evidently, right.

She would have help you with all of her hearth, she would have been bluntly straight and clear in her words. She was kind and gentle and sweet.

Those have bee so sad news that I'm still stunned. I've got the feeling that it's not right. She left her husband, kids, friends.

She deserved more. She deserved to get old and grumpy.

I was organizing a trip to visit her, because I learned she was sick and wanted to meet her again. But who cares? She should have lived longer and more happily.

Fuck it, Life.

giovedì, febbraio 25, 2016

Louis CK and being an innovator

I don't know if you know who Louis C.K. is.I hope you do, because if you do your life is a better life.

Who is he? He is a comedian.

This is an easy label. And quite wrong, but helps to start understanding. He is a comedian, actor, director, producer, editor... and the list goes on. Ah, and father. And divorced. And ginger.

Don't know if this explains something more. It's a bit more precise, though, and detailed.

But even the above list leaves something out. One thing it leaves out is that he is a fucking genius, the second is that he is an innovator.

I discovered him by chance 2 years ago. I was watching a show of Robin Williams (sadness...) on youtube and in the videos on the right he appeared.
I discovered that he is incredibly funny, clever and has a unbelievable insight on human condition and psychology. Usually comedians got this, but he got it at an extreme high level. I looked for his shows and discovered that he was offering them, DRM free, on his website at a really reasonable charge (5 dollars... FIVE DOLLARS).

I bought them all. And every time something from him comes out, I buy it.

Why innovator? Because, as far as I know, no one as ever did something like this on a big scale. He is huge now, meaning that his name is the biggest in USA comedy, and even if he is the best, he doesn't sell through the huge, mainstream companies. He sells his work on his website, no intermediaries, no shit. And it's incredibly good work (even if in the last 1 hour show, I felt some disconnections in the flow of the show... but hey, I cried so much when I saw it the first time that fuck myself!).

And 4 weeks ago I received an e-mail from his website (he seldom send some even if you are a registered user). What was happening? Well, without telling anybody (kinda) he had been producing a new series: Horace and Pete.
It was the first episode, 1 hour, 5 dollars.
Now we are at the 4th episode, every time announced by an e-mail and buy-able on the website, more or less same length and same price.

Steve Buscemi is in it. Alan Alda is in it.

It's a weird series, lot of talk, lot of normal human problems. For example one episode is 40 minutes of dialog between 2 persons sitting at a table. Impressive. I could not stop watching.

Louis C.K. is a genius. And I stop there, but the things I've written above are not the reasons why he his. You can find yourself if you want.

Ah... and he is fat.

giovedì, gennaio 14, 2016

Cramps! Cramps! (annoying people, part 3)

It's been a while. Happy Christmas and Merry New Year and all those sort of things...

I'll talk about football, if you don't mind. We all know that's the most important part of my life at the moment: playing football.
After the 3 weeks intermission during the holidays (as per above) this week 2 tournaments started again: the 7 a side (Mondays) and the 6 a side (Tuesdays). You would notice that there is a 0 days break between one tournament and the other; a thing I am so happy about that you would not believe me (and, please, don't believe it, because I am scared and worried about it).

So, Monday we played, 7 against 7, and we lost. We had no substitutes, they were slightly better, but we simply lost 4 - 2. Not bad. My ankles didn't enjoyed the match as much as they would have liked, mainly the left one, as the opponents enjoyed kicking it from the early start. I didn't play particularly well or particularly bad. Simply it was difficult to run after a previous run, but that's age (and kilos... holidays were as usual not kind with my belly, or probably too kind). But this was expected.

What wasn't particularly expected was playing the very next day. Again without subs, against what was supposed to be a strong side. I reached the pitch a bit earlier as usual, to warm up. And it was a fun warm up: first I could not properly run, lets say I was strolling around; second, at the moment I tried some lateral movement, I simply noticed that my left ankle was quite hurting and moving that direction was a no go. I tried to stretch as much as I could, warm up muscles to avoid any damage and notified my teammates that I would be of little use, since I simply couldn't run. Easy as that. So I started in the front, as striker (with my superior strength and height, of course!).

2 - 0 for them after 10 minutes. That's how the match started. But they weren't that good. They had subs, they were younger and supposed to be stronger: you should be destroying us, but instead they managed to score on 2 of our mistakes. I was managing to keep the ball up and trying to create some space and some opportunities for us. We scored one, I scored the second and it was a draw and a match again. Than the defender that was defending on me got substituted and a blonde, tall and handsome young guy came in. "Hi, how are you?" "Is everything fine at home?" and at the first opportunity he simply kicked me on my left ankle, for good measure, hard. That's the kind of thing that can ruin a friendship. From then on every time I had the ball up front somebody started kicking my legs. Randomly. I think in 35 minutes I had something like 10 faults for me (and... well.. I was not moving that much and having the ball that much, so it's quite too many times). I complained. I like to complain, and I was in real pain: mainly for the effects of a second match in 2 days, but also because, you know, when somebody kicks you it usually hurts.

Anyway, by the end of the match we were up 1, and they were pissed off. So, after another kick and another fault and another complain, one of the opponents told me to "shut up, football is a men's game, pussy!"... hehehe... thank you darling, I thought, but "you shut the fuck up", I replied, because I like to keep things simple. Next action he tried to stole the ball from me with his strength and pride; but no, dear friend, you are not good enough, nor strong enough. Anyway, 5 minutes later he have to hop off injured (I had nothing to do on that, he collided against one of my teammates while we were scoring the winning goal...). Revenge is a... we know...

But the interesting thing happened at the very end of the match: after running for a long ball from my keeper, I HAD A CRAMP! It's been 23 years since last cramp! I had been struggling with a tense calf muscle through the whole second half. I tried to do the "rugby player", stretching it during pauses... but finally it catch up with me. So... CRAMPS! CRAMPS! ... and the match ended and we won.

These are my satisfactions of lately...

[The title of this post is an homage to "Guards! Guards!", a book from the late and magnificent Terry Pratchett. Loved it.]

sabato, novembre 21, 2015

The best possible end (Rugby World Cup)

Dan Carter was already a legend in his own rights. Already the top scorer in the game by far, already considered the best fly-half of of the modern era (and possibly of any era), good looking and whatever you want to say, he got it.

But entering this Rugby World Cup he was at the end of his career, coming back to a World Cup after having lost all but the first games in the previous one. He got injured during that World Cup while he was at the top of his career and missed the rest of the competition. Then ruptured his Achilles tendon in 2013. Already new players on the rise took his place in games during last years, so his position was not the one of the big star that no-one can doubt.

Then the competition begun, the matches went on and he was playing his game, good composure, on target with the kicking. Everything was going well, even if the All Blacks were not crushing every opponent as expected, but simply winning. And then a quarter final against France started, and New Zealand won big, really big. Than the semi final against South Africa and he played well during the whole match, and he topped the performance with a fine kicked drop goal that close the gap with South Africa and inspired the come back win.

And the final came. After 4 years, Carter would have played in the final he couldn't play 4 years before. A bit older, still great, but yet not the same: age and injuries slowing him down.

And I am sitting in my couch at home with my parents, big screen in front of me, enjoying the match and hoping for him to win that match he deserves. New Zealand started strong, and he plays great. Kicking well, orchestrating the offence and tough on defence. And Australia come back, increasing the pressure on defence, with hard tackles on Carter. At least 2, one just a little late, the second definitely high. He goes on. At half time they are up big, match seemingly in control. And just after half time another try for New Zealand and Carter converts it: 21 - 3. And I think this it's over, Carter, playing a really good game, is winning his World Cup.

Nope! Australia is a young team and plays really well. And Ben Smith tip-tackle a man in orange and is sin-binned. And in those 10 minutes the Wallabies storms back and suddenly the score is 21 - 17 and the momentum is on the Australia side. New Zealand seems still composed, but they are missing something to retake control. And Carter seems tired, he got tackled and it seems to me it took him ages to stand up again. Then he has a ball to kick into touch and he misses it. I am worried, it's around 60' minutes and I feel for the better of New Zealand's chances that he should be subbed.
Then something happens. The TV shows him rallying his team-mates, his run seems fine again and he keeps on tackling as if he is a flanker instead of the fly-half.
And... and out of nowhere he kicks out a drop goal that is simply amazing. Without preparation, from 35 meters, just like he is just passing by, an incredible drop goal. No preparation, he is not deeper than usual, the Australian line is not far away, he just kicks it and it goes in. New Zealand is up 7, a converted try, and Australia starts to feel the pressure and the time winding down. Carter kicked 7 drop goals in his whole career up to that point (and 1 in the semi-final 5 days before, byt the way). I am stunned.
The match goes on, Australia putting even more pressure, the All Blacks defending with order. Then there is a penalty just inside the All Blacks' half. I think they are gonna put it on touch. Carter looks around and decides to kick. 54 meters? He converts it! I am now on my feet. Final minutes, the Australians are attacking, but they are risking too much and they lose the ball: try for New Zealand. That's the end, Carter converts with his right foot. I didn't notice it at first. He is left footed (when kicking, he is actually right handed...). Carter wins his World Cup with an incredible match.

So, this was the perfect end. They should be making a movie about this man and his career and this last match. Because this is his last match with the All Blacks. 1, 5, 9, 8. Mark these numbers: 1598. It's 2 points short of 1600. But it's a sweet number. It's his mark for test points. I doubt anyone in the future will ever surpass this number. This is Dan Carter.

giovedì, ottobre 15, 2015

Fucking midget (annoying people, part 2)

I am waiting for to go to the station and catch the train to work. I am kinda late, really late, but there are not so many train. So lets use this time for something completely useless.

Monday night, another football game of the famed team Notti Magiche. We are up 4 - 0 after 10 minutes, than we let them come back, because we are kind people. The match begins to turn to a grind, though game. We are still up 4 - 3 in the final 10 minutes of the match, they mainly try to score in counter attacks (don't ask, please don't ask how a team that is up by one is pressing high instead of waiting for the opponent to come... don't ASK!), but we are managing quite well to control. They started to make faults, we started to receive them, this is a usual pattern. For once I am not complaining that much with the referee, since he is controlling everything quite well and when he sees a harsh tackle he has no problem on talking to the player and tell him to quite down. Finally.

Then a ball in our half, rebounds high, I go and an opponent too, we try to reach the ball with the legs, his is a bit higher and far stretched then mine (he is also taller then me, lets say 10/15 cm, not that difficult, I know) and I lower it just before we reach the ball. The ref assigns a fault for me, rightfully: his leg is high and straight, dangerous play. He (the opponent) complains, and I agree: always complain! But there are no doubt it was a fault. But the funny part starts now: he goes to collect the ball, and shouts (in between with something else, but that I don't remember): "FUCKING MIDGET!"

And it was me! I was the "fucking midget"!! Come on!! I am not that short! Anyway... after realizing the comments I started to laugh! Quite hard (theatrically, lets say) and quite a lot. I was sincerely amused by the comment, and was already planning some come back. Anyway, while he passed by I told him: "Not that you are such a giant, come on!" and re-started the play.

From that point on, every time I took the ball from him, and it happened quite a lot because I didn't want him to do anything else, I was telling him: "That's the fucking midget coming!" or something similar. I also used my incredible midget strength to steal the ball from him just overpowering him, and as I said, he was taller then me and heavier than me. But fuck it!

In the end... we won. I went to him to shake his hand and he reluctantly did so. I really enjoyed that match (my match, the one from the team, not at all... again, how you manage to have them score 3 goals in counter attacks when you are up 4 - 0 ?!?).

[I know you where thinking I would have talked about the Game of Thrones midget... sorry to disappoint you!]

giovedì, ottobre 08, 2015

Draw (annoying people)

This is a football post, this is a "I annoy people and people annoys me" post.

Today is Thursday, a day I used to spend doing something for sometimes, a something that I really enjoyed doing and that now I miss quite a lot, and that now is devoted to football. Playing football. 6 vs 6 football (I know, I betrayed my beliefs... but I needed a second night of sport each week, and this was what was available).

It's with not the team I organize, and you can understand it by the fact that in 3 matches I played we've never lost. With the team I organize (7 a side) we never won.

Anyway, we are from Ukraine, we are not a great team, we are not a bad team. And tonight we draw. It was a though match, we controlled the first part of the first half, and than we were down 3 - 0 all of a sudden. We hit posts, their goalie save quite some shots, when the goalie was not there a defender saved a goal already done (by the way... mine...) and at the end of the first half we managed to score: 3 - 1!

It was a hard fought first half, we were emotionally down... but we stick together and we started the second half with high expectations. And all of a sudden we were 6 - 1 (or something similar). Holy s...!!! But we started to grind it, pass after pass, miss after miss, and they started to be de-concentrated. And we got back up to 7 - 3. And they started kicking, pushing and doing all those bullshit things that a team that is not any more confident does. They were actually pretty hard with the tackles all match long, but it's fine, if you don't push it too far and risk hurting with your tackles, it's ok with me. But they started crossing that line. And I don't like it. I became vocal about that a lot (my team-mates knows that). And at one point one of them crossed the line a bit too much and was sent out for 3 minutes (a yellow card, in this tournament). And we scored. And then they scored again: 8 - 4. And here I started to feel good, to run more, push up a little more. And we scored 8 - 5. And I pressed one of them with the ball, that thought I am a small guy and he is a strong player... and protected the ball with his strong body and I don't give a shit. You push me? I push harder than you. You hit me in the face with your flailing hand? I don't care, I sneak below it (he was actually holding me while protecting the ball, but in that way both of his arms were towards me so I could simply go around him... bad defence there, man!) and took the ball and went towards the goal and... he kicked me! From behind, not to try to take the ball, but just to hit me. Well... not a big deal, not strong enough to cause me pain, but the ref sent him off (red card... yeah!!). I called him a fucking idiot, and that's not a good thing and I am not proud of it, but I never stood people that cannot lose and that try to hurt you when they are loosing. Anyway.
We scored a goal, than I scored another one, humiliating in the process the goal keeper (that was prepared to launch the ball with the feet, but I sneak behind (today it's sneaky day!) one of his team mates and put the foot in front of the ball just when he was shooting: the ball rebounded in the goal.

And then... it's all of a sudden 8 - 7 and they are 1 man down. And we push. And I took the ball at the limit of the box behind the defenders, the goalie rushed out and I dribbled him, but pushed the ball too deep and I was all of a sudden 30 cm away from the line and outside of the goal for half a meeter. And then humiliated the goalie again (I want to stop a moment now and explain the "humiliated" thing: I don't really think that there was humiliation, but probably that's what he was thinking, because he became quite pissed off): he rushed again to me, thinking I was trapped, and I simply brought up the ball above him, jump him over, landed next to the line, a defender come but I sneak the ball in the goal (today is the sneaky day, I told you). And scored! I went to collect the ball and take it up midfield because at this point I really wanted to win and there were few minutes left. And the defender (tall guy, 1.90 metres, 90 kilos) defended the ball, pushed it with his legs against the nets (the goal's one, elastic, and the fence one, steel...y). I leaned down to take it, and he still did it, and pushed me a little, but I am a fucker, and sneak it outside from his legs and tried to stand up, and he leaned against me, I tried to go towards the centre of the field and he actually jump on me and I carried him for some meters. I thought he was joking but he was really mad at me! I told him than if he wants to make love, I was not prepared (you know, I like to annoy people) and probably pissed him off even more. So... I annoy people.

And the match ended. We didn't scored another goal (I had the chance to shoot from the distance, but I chickened out and tried to get near, but missed the occasion... meaning that I should have shot with the left and I would have scored because I am that good...). So, a draw. Match finished, time to shake hands, and I, as usual, went to all of the players and started shaking hands. They were not happy, but I was enjoying them been pissed of... I am that bastard. And the tall guy shook it, but he was shitting me over in dutch, and I went to the goalkeeper, and he took my hand... and tried to hurt me tightening the hold on my hand! But... but... are we 6 year olds?!? I could not believe... he tried it again! TWO TIMES!! I called him an idiot (again... yes, it's my favourite word) and really could not believe it.


I annoy people, I know... but they annoy me more.

martedì, ottobre 06, 2015

Not a people's person (or: how to live as an idiot)

Few days ago (actually, almost 2 weeks ago) I have had a nice confirmation of how less I understand people. Well, truth is that it wasn't really on that day that I had the confirmation, I already knew it. But it has been a nice follow up on the conclusion I had come to in past times (and actually the episode was not so important on the matter, it was really important on another level, but transeat...).

I really don't get people. I maybe am able to understand their reactions, facial expressions and words when I am actually detached from them, but the minute they matter to me... ooohh!!! That gets really interesting! I simply get lost, go blind and deaf. I know myself, so nothing that happens really takes me by surprise, but it still hurts sometimes finding out... that I was right... or wrong, depending on which side you look at the matter from.

I definitely don't get people. I am better of with animals. I can understand why an animal does something. I cannot understand why a person does something. I can't even understand why I do something, imagine the difficulty when it comes to understand other people's actions. And again, the closer I am to the person, or better, the stronger the feeling I've got towards her (yes... hehehe... it's always a she, sorry) the less I understand. And that's why I love play football and why I understand people there: I HATE EVERYBODY on the football pitch! I am obviously joking and taking everything to an extreme, but in the above three paragraphs something true can be found.

I don't understand people. Please, come clean with me. I will not understand you.

How do I live with that? Like an idiot (hence the title). I move around, doing dumb mistakes, hurting people's feelings, hurting my feelings. And there's not enough words sometimes to explain "I am sorry" other than... the actual words. And it gets annoying not understanding and not getting understood.

Anyway, it's dark outside and there's so many things I don't understand that it sound a bit ridiculous. You will see me laughing a lot... not laughing that much in the inside.