Tuesday, June 27, 2006

A Fan...An Old Fan

(From here thanks to Xenoverse's might pointer) The caption reads as follows:
"The Tollund man provides an example of what ancient Germanic peoples may have looked like. Discovered in a peat bog in Denmark in 1952, the Tollund man was dressed only in a pointed cap and belt. Tests later determined that the body was over 2000 years old."

Let me repeat that the Tollund man was dressed only in a pointed cap and belt. Hmmmmm. Watching the World Cup and hearing various stories such as the one that FIFA's dictator-in-chief, Joseph Sepp Blatter, banned Dutch fans from wearing shorts with a non-Budweiser beer ad prominantly displayed, made something click. (Aside from the need to post a link to Crooked Timber. Who'da thunk that those intellectuals would write about football?).

Anyway, the Dutch fans, ever-clever that bunch even though their preference for oranje is frightening, came up with an alternative plan.

Do like the Tollund Man and come stripped down to your shorts. With a hat, to be sure. They were a tad more conservative than the Tollund Fan. Rather than a belt and a hat, the Dutch opted for a hat and underwear. How modest.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Big Game

Dramas all around. Today is the BIGGEST GAME ever, or so they say, for Equipa Hrvatska. The showdown with Australia (aka Croatia Two) will determine which country will represent the Land of Croats in the second round of the World Cup. Will it be Croatia, which has no Autralians on the team? Or Australia, which has 7 Croatians on the team. I'll wimp out here and state that I have no preference. I enjoy both teams' style of play and while my land of birth tugs me in their direction, the underdog in me tugs me toward Australia.

Fans, always an interesting byproduct of the WC, from Croatia have been getting more than the once-over from the border guards in Germany. From the Vecernji List, this article mentions the interrogations some of the fans have been put through, specifically those avid fans that are on the Hooligan List (the hooligans, in turn, have their own list). For those folks crazy enough to want to learn the language, this article is a great place to start. The writing of this online newspaper is very tight and almost officious. The comments to the article are, well, definitely not of the grammatically correct variety. Earthy is more like it. Just on the cusp of George Carlin's 7 Deadly Words. Getting to know some of these words (in the comments) and the way they're constructed into sentences will give you a colloquial version of Croatian, one that will most definitely get you involved in conversation. Bluster combined with a touch of grandiosity and a smidgen of feeling slighted are the main ingredients in speaking the tongue in Croatia. These comments reflect these attributes quite well.

As far as the score of today's game, Nil-Nil in the first half. Niko Kranjcar will provide a late Father's Day gift to his dad, coach Cico Krnajcar, by scoring 10 minutes into the second half. Josip Simunic, having just rolled out of bed, will take Tim Cahill, one of the non Croat-Australians, down with a vicious sliding tackle. Play will start to get a bit squirrely; in fact, the game may start to take on aspects of Australian Rules Rugby. Igor Tudor will make an appearance on a substitution, just to keep his name in the ring for the Player Most Likely to MAke You Turn Face Away award. Ivica Olic will turn Brazilian and dance through 3 Australian defenders and put the ball in the top left-hand corner. He'll immediately leave the field to get a haircut. At the end of the game, at mid-pitch, Team Croatia and the Croat-Australians will gather and barbecue a kangaroo, which will be washed down with Karlovacko pivo. All in all, an entertaining match.

Croatia 2-0 over Australia.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Spices for Your Name

Tired of Dick, Tom, or Harry? Try out Brazil Name and liven up your name! That guy on the Brazilian team, Fred? I'd like to know how far back in the line he was when they put his original name through the Braziliator.

I ended up with two names.
Darkisco, which, I believe, is a product that can be used to fry eggs or oil up the cookie sheets.
Darkildo, which sounds like some, well, go ahead, spit it out. I know what you're thinking. Yep, a combination sex toy and fantasy gamer.

Thanks to Bob (who never sleeps) the World Cup Blogger for the link.

King's Shilling

From Xenoverse:
"You're never really done growing up, are you? There's always something else to age you more." He's back in form and he'll be breaking your heart. Please go read his latest entry.


(Surreptitiously borrowed from World Cup Blog. Cleaner view here.)

What's wrong with this picture?
Is it the whiteface?
Is it the perfect teeth? (a sight not normally associated with football types)
Is it the beer with minimal heads?
Is it the uneven placment of hands on the face?

It's the shirts!

How can they be so spic 'n span when beer, face paint, hot sun, and celebrations are all present? This photo must be some Adobe Illustrator chicanery. That, or the Cosmetics Artists Union is holding a convention in the same place as the World Cup.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Hi! I'm a PC.....& I wish I Weren't

The jury seems to be out about the new Apple commercials. My vote is a resounding and enthusiastic(coupled with a hand across my grinning mouth) Yes! (Ads visible here) The only thing that bothers me about the ads is the way Apple seems to be deliberately trying to eliminate the placement of Macs in any business function requiring heavy numbers usage or Excle uesage. I think this is a big mistake. But hey, it won't change my perception that the Mac is a viable tool for Microsoft Office use.

I was a PC guy back in the days when Compaq was around and they made their 25 lb. "portable". My back's o.k. now. Thanks for asking. The little screen, based on a U-boat's sonar I believe, was quaint and blinding. Then, the first Macintosh came out and I was sold. Quite a few years spent on the various permutations and the ever larger sizes and I was still happy. Then, a turn to the dark side. The Dell side. Corporate went that way and I had no choice but to veer and drive over that cliff with them. What used to be easy. What used to be understandable. What used to be...natural computing. Well, all those whats disappeared and I was (still am) stuck with a hunk of plastic and command keys and "////"'s.

But a distant light is glowing. A MacBook Pro came into my life. Well, not necessarily into my hands, but somewhere realtively close to them. It is a thing of beauty. It is as advertised.
Remove it from the box. (Apple has a genius who heads up the packaging and presentation department)
Connect the ethernet wire.
Turn it on.
There you are. You're doing.
It was getting close to dusk, the sunlight was dying. Darkness was settling into the room. The MacBook Pro's keyboard lighted up. An unexpected whistle.

Wow. Fill that glass with wine; I'll be here a spell.

It's in my own future...hopefully close to where my own present is now.

Mama was right

Slow day, so I'll be claiming some scraps from Bob's table. The South Koreans, already famous for their high fan to cheering volume ratio, now have proven that they were brought up the right way.

The reputation of the British fans is legendary; the fact that minimal troubles have arisen at this year's World Cup have to do with the efficiency and doggedness of the German and the British police in keeping the number of professional hooligans entering Germany to a minimum. I'm sure that Xenoverse not being in attendance is also a major reason for the lack of fan calamity. Let's just summarize by saying that, albeit it's a very small minority that's been the casue of it, the Brits' rep as football fans is not a very inviting one. When one's teams fans are on the dreaded Keep Out list, a country's team is not held in particularly high regard.

180 degrees to that (turn around once, lad, and you've got the visual of that) are the South Korean fans. Seems that at the end of a game, in which their team had come back to tie the mighty French, their method of celebration was....cleaning. How better to ingratiate oneself to one's host than to peck-peck after oneself (wasn't able to find a defintion on the Internet for this. Surprising. Elementary school teachers will immediately recognize it as what the kids are asked to do after snack, lunch, or a messy activity). (No Peck's Bad Boy, these folks.)

Now, just to put thing into perspective. The South Koreans are not completely without some human foible. It seems that not cheering enough or not being vigorous enough in one's team's love could get one into trouble.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Don't Morose....

I've been listening to Tony Allen's Lagos No Shaking and I've adapted one of the songs, Morose, as my song for the balance of the World Cup.

Catchy refrain from the song?

Don't Morose your Face.

One more review.

Too Predictable

As you can see from this picture, and this one, and, what the heck, this one, the Croatian fans were fairly lively, colorful, and....predictable. On Sunday, that pretty much summarized Equipa Croatia in its 2nd World Cup game. Against Japan, a team it was expected to beat, perhaps not soundly, but definitely, a 0-0 tie resulted.
Even with the gift of a penalty kick, Croatia could not pull it out. Kudos to the Japanese Goalkeeper, Kawaguchi, who guessed correctly as to where the kick was going to go.
Now, it's June 22nd and the hope that things go Croatia's way, in a predictable manner or...not. Otherwise the Japan-Croatia game will be grist for the cafe/taverna mill for the next four years

Well, at least the kick wasn't a Baggio.


An intersting little piece here from the Australian site, The Advertiser. A language, Socceranto (little takeoff on Esperanto), specifically for Football, World Style. The book, Socceranto: Birth of a Language, co-written by Englishman 16-year-old Ted Freedman, Peter Freedman, and Argentinian-American Ignacio van Gelderen, gives shorthand expressions/words for specific situations, thus minimizing long detailed explanations and providing Football fans with their own language to match their own mania.
Some Socceranto words?
How about:
fliegenfanger: The word for a useless goalkeeper derived from the German word for flycatcher
A Baggio: A Baggio is a missed penalty after the Italy star's bungled spot-kick in the shootout in the 1994 final against Brazil
Harry Potter: Midfield Wizard
Rustico: Player with few skills, a donkey from the Spanish/Latin American word meaning rustic.

The only thing that surprises me about Socceranto, is the title. Since everyone else in the world, with the exception of USA, Canada, and (I think) Australia calls the sport Football, why then Socceranto? It's almos t as if the authors want to antagonize the very group they're hoping will buy the book and take on the new language.

Credit to the incomparable Bob at World Cup Blog for this link.


Socceranto: Birth of a Language is a free download...but do so at your own risk. I haven't tested it out yet. I wonder if it'll turn out to be like Wikipedia, say Soccerpedia, where new word additions will be allowed.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

South Philly for Italia

Salvatore Frank Fasano, aka Sal Fasano of the Fightin' Phils, was asked yesterday, after another loss, a shellaccing by Tampa Bay (loss #5 in a row for those following the downward spiral of the Phillies as managed by Charlie "English is not my Mother Tongue..Spanish neither" Manuel) as to today's USA-Italia World Cup match. Mr. Fasano, born in the heartland of USA (Chicago, IL) and wearing a pulled over-his-eyes woolie with Italia emblazoned on the front, went into a long spiel as to how he's followed the World Cup for years. Aside from being well-spoken in general, he actually knew his football stuff. (Dave O'Brien better watch out.) He was doing quite well on dribbling through the pointed questions. Finally, the interviewer posed, "O.K. Sal. Who are you cheering for? Italy? Or USA?
"Well, being my parents, from whom I was born, are from the old country, my heart's with Italia. I hope that team USA somehow makes it to the next round, but they really got a raw deal being in the group they were." He then launched into quite a nice little analysis of the group, the players, and FIFA in general.

So, Sal's for Italy. I'll go with him, the adapted son of South Philly. Italia 3-0.

Friday, June 16, 2006

A People's "Hero"

(From WorldCupBlog)

A detailed illustration of Ante Zuanic's exploits from this Croatian Internet paper is a good indication of his instant fame.

...and all he wanted to do was kiss the foot (or was it boot?) of Croatian striker Dado Prso.

Perhaps Manolo of Shoe Blog fame will be interested in a more detailed story.

Trademark on Bad Behaviour

HooliganWatch. Yes, it seems to be trademarked. I'm waiting for CarCrash to receive the same legal claim.

Aural Memories

An acquaintance, when informed that I've been trying to keep up with the World Cup, shrugged and asked how I watched the games while I was at work.
"I listen to the games.", I replied.
"How do you listen?. I mean, not the technology. I'm well aware of that. What I mean is how do you understand what they're saying and translate it into the visual?"

Interesting question, that. He loves sports but always watches events on tv. He'll turn on AM sports radio shows, but he never listens to games on them. I mean, he never listens purely. He'll listen to the AM sportscaster homer for the football games, but he always must have the tv on as well.

"When he's describing a run to the left or a pass to the right, well...look I know my left hand from my right, but when you throw in east, west, north, south and all points in between, I have no clue what the guys are doing on the field. Circles, for all I know. I love the radio guy's spiel, but all those words and no pictures?????..Well, I get jumbled up, so I watch tv with the volume off."

I wasn't sure if this was a generational thing or simply one guy's version of the aural/visual state of comprehension. Since I'm listening to the majority of the games rather than watching the World Cup, old memories came flowing back of the days of transistor radios, Catholic grammar school, and daytime weekday World Series games. As with most memories from kid-dom, those World Series were the best. The players. The announcers. The games. As with football (soccer), you knew the dimensions of the field, the positioning of the players, the mentality of the managers/coaches, and the tendencies of the major players. You didn't need to see them; that's what the announcers did for you. If they were really good, you felt the heat of the day, the cool of the grass, the smell of the press box. The crack of the bat, the roar of the crowd, the timbre of the sportscaster were enough to paint you a picture. A moving ever-evolving picture. Coming up with an inventive way to run the earpiece from the radio to one's head so as to escape Sister Agnes of Tarantula's ever beady 20 eyes added to the draw of the radio.

That's how this World Cup is for me. A throwback to the transistor radio days. All that's missing is the crackle of the sound as the ozone settles in for the game.

Sorry to leave abruptly. Great game coming up in 30 minutes, Argentina v. Serbia-Montenegro. Ear's to the speakers.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

A Bear of a Day

Being pulled here, there, and yonder most of the day. Ever have one of those days where you're thankful there are urinals in the men's room to let you know you've made it to the right place?

Pointers for...pointers.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Missing.... and Found

Xenoverse, not communicating since March 8th had been presumed lost and resting from the labors of blogging. Well, it turns out that, even though his native Scotland did not make the Football Final Dance, he's been cheering on the mighty Brazilians. Just don't think Yellow is a good match of a pale Scotsman, even one (or two) with red hair.

Wonder what Xeno's take on England is? Can he be coaxed out of his silence to post a few well-crafted (as they always are) spiels on the whole World Cup thing? He's got to have some wiseacre remark on the doings there. Do we have to beg?


While people are rising from the dead in Germany to watch the World Cup, things back home are amusing, as always.

In Philly, the City of Brotherly Love, a local legend of an establishment is seemingly legislating its own language policy. At Geno's Steaks, English is now the only accepted language of business. "Owner Joey Vento has said the signs are directed at a booming population of illegal immigrants near his business. In dozens of interviews with media outlets across the country, he has said Latino immigrants don't "pay the price" that his Italian-immigrant grandparents, stuck in an ethnic enclave because they could not speak English, had to. The newest immigrants, he said, are coddled with services available in Spanish. (from Philidelphia Inquirer of June 14, 2006)

The Philly Inqy goes on,
"A little sign like that?" exclaimed Penny Constantino, a South Philadelphian who saw the controversial signs for the first time while in line for lunch yesterday.

"I'll buy you a poster," she told Geno Vento, whose family owns the store at Ninth and Passyunk. "Why don't you make [the sign] bigger?"

"The only ones who have freedom of speech are the politically correct," said Tina Dolpies, 62, owner of New Leaf Flower Shop in South Philadelphia. "Why should [Vento's] opinion be suppressed? I don't think that's fair. That's not the America I know."

"Here's the thing," said another Geno's customer, an Indian immigrant from Dallas. "If I wanted to have a cheesesteak, wouldn't I learn how to say it?"

Two blocks from Geno's, two Mexicans said they didn't need Joey Vento to tell them to learn English.

"English is very necessary," said Oscar, a 20-year-old restaurant worker who declined to give his last name because he is an illegal immigrant.

A local radio sports station, WIP decided to test out this hard 'n fast policy. They sent an intern out to Geno's blessed with cojones and sophmore level Spanish. He flashed some bills and ordered in Spanish. He was served exactly what he'd ordered and the money was gladly accepted.

So, lesson learned. ANY language would be acceptable as long as dollars were being counted out. Check out the article; partial tongue in cheek, partial shock of the Cro-Magnon attitude (not to offend any Cro-Magnon reader out there!!).

The closing paragraph from the article?

"In more ways than one. The block remains the hub of a decades-old rivalry.

Oscar and Emilio, sitting on a step nearby, said they had ordered cheesesteaks - in English - at Geno's. But they prefer Pat's.

It has nothing to do with Geno's signs, the brothers said. Or even that several workers at Pat's speak Spanish. At Pat's, "it's better," Oscar said, in perfect English. "It's the best."

Ask...and You Shall Receive

From yesterday's entry, "I wonder if these are available in Croatian red & white so as to hide the tears and lack of sleep.

And today?

Couldn't have asked for anything more garish.

Just hope folks won't be adding a W to the CRO if we lose to the Japanese in the next match. Barbecued Crow is not generally classified as good eating.

You'll notice that the famous Croatian probuscis is in need of additional material for full coverage. "Grande" is the only size a respectable Croat should be wearing on his head.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Football Diplomacy

I don't really care about what Bush is trooping out these days about Iran. Would you go to war with these people? Let's consider alternate venues. Perhaps Dubya should be looking back to one of his Republican predecessors for clues on effective diplomacy in touchy times. What's wrong with Football (Soccer) Diplomacy, except for the fact that our side of the equation in this negotiation is in need of some serious help.


A True Bummer

So close.... Brazil over the Land of Croats by a 1-0 score. With barely a minute left in the first half, Kaka boomed a lazer into the goal. And that was it. Pain settled in quickly. Dog days of August came 2 months early. Second half had many opportunities, many close chances, many temptations. But the gods were speaking Portuguese and dancing the samba. 2-0 or 3-0 would have been awful...but understandable. 1-0 showed that Hrvatska was so close. And yet, a 1-0 loss is the same as a 3-0 or 10-0 loss. No points for Croatia; 3 points for Brazil. I feel the sorrow of the Japanese. I wonder if these are available in Croatian red & white so as to hide the tears and lack of sleep.

Well, there's always June 18th, when The Land of the Rising Sun meets the Land of the Croats.

Approaching Game Time

That would be a Croatia supporter on the right.
On the right, fella. Yeah, shift your eyes to the right!

So, based on this one Brazil - Croatia fan picture, who do you think is:
1) Going to have a great time at the game?
2) Going to win the game?

Fella, Fella...shift your eyes to the right!



is what happens when you have too much of....


Momci! (The "Lads")

Well, the day has come. Today, at 3:00 EST or 21:00, German time, in the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, Benito Archundia will blow his whistle and Croatia will attempt to upset Brazil, just a small bit of a chore.

Brazil is, of course, the favorite in the match and in the World Cup to win it all. It is unfortunate that Croatia is the first team to play them. Some of the defensive players on Brazil, specifically Cafu and Roberto Carlos, are a bit long in the tooth. How they hold up during the 3 weeks of the competition is the big mystery of the World Cup. For their first match, though, I'm sure they'll hold up quite well. Brazil, aside from the riches of talent, are also the team with the best named players.

Dida. Cafu. Lucio. Roberto Carlos. Emerson. Ze Roberto. Kaka. Ronaldinho. Ronaldo Adriano.

They all sound like sleek fast Italian cars. Well, all except Kaka, who sounds like one of those East German cars, say like the plywood Trabant. But having a name sounding like anything German will only help Brazil get more fans on their side, as if they needed any additional ones...

Speaking of fans, Brazil, obviously, has the best-looking fans, the most rhythmic fans, and the most passionate fans of all of the countries participating. Being a hanger-on fan to Brazil is an easy and tempting thing.

Croatia, on the other hand, has players in need of vowels.

Srna. Kranjcar. Prso.

It's always a joy to hear announcers struggle through the pronunciation. I suggest a few nips of sljivovica prior to speaking as the needed verbal lubricant.

The Croatian fans, while not lacking in passion, are Slavic, which means, as Mr. Garrison Keillor says about Minnesotans, they know any good things that may come their way (such as Ronaldinho possibly coming down with food poisoning just before the match) will inevitably be followed by a plethora of bad things (such as the goalkeeper suffering from the DT's at 21:00 today or the water bottles to be all sokied with Valium).

It should be interesting. I hope that Univision (THE tv channel to be watching!!) shows a lot of fan shots. Score-wise, Brazil 3-1.....hopefully Hrvatska can hold them to 3.

Here is Croatian coach Kranjcar's master plan!!!

Monday, June 12, 2006

The Other Croatia

Well, Croatia's match with Brazil isn't until tomorrow, so I'll be cheering on Australia as it plays (well, actually, as it is playing) Japan today.
The captain of the squad, Mark Viduka, is of Croatian heritage. In fact, there are five other players of Croatian (or the previously 6 republic country of Yugoslavia) on the Aussie team.

Raznjici on the barby, fellows!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Woodwork (as in "coming out of...")

This picture's caption is simply "Serbian Fans Go Nuts Against Holland"

I'd be wooried if I were the entire country of Holland. That fellow in the middle, holding some kind of aiming device, forgot to leave his Official Tito's Glorious Army Hat at home, so if Serbia & Montenegro, S & M for short, loses its match today v. Holland (Update: they lost 1-0), that hat may come in handy.

I've beeen watching all of the games on Univision. At that rate, I'll be fluent in Spanish by the time the final plays out in July. Why watch on a channel that I can barely understand?
1) Cleare brighter picture.
2) Audio seems louder; you can really hear the fans, something I'm looking forward to when Croatia plays Brazil on June 13th in Berlin.
3) The play-by-play and the color announcers are 11 on the 1 to 10 enthusiasm meter. They make the American announcers on ESPN2 sound like cadavers.
4) Even the commercials on Univision are better; "Chevy" is pronounced with a "CH', not "Sh".

Viva Univision!!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Why Football..

(Soccer)..is the best sport in the world, next to Hockey, of course

Explanation #1: Referees

A Football (Soccer) Referee in action

An (American) Football referee in action

1) A Football (Soccer) referee must be in shape, just like all of the actual participants in the game. He must be able to run around the field for 2 halfs of 45 minutes each. An (American) Football referee must be able to stay awake for 4 quarters, each lasting 15 minutes each. Running around is held to a minimum to allow for intense concentration.

2) A Football (Soccer) referee gets to hand out tickets,Yellow for a venial sin, or red, for a mortal one. An (American) Football referee gets to throw weighted handkerchiefs (mis-named as flags) upon an infraction. Sometimes, they inadvertently throw these handkerchiefs, possible in a state of huff, and blind the players. Extensive google-searches have netted no finds for Football (Soccer) referees blinding players with yellow or red cards.

3) Football (Soccer) referees, in addition to being in fit physical condition, must posess the theatre critic's discerning eye for what is real and what is acting. How to distinguish a dive from an infraction is just part of their repertoire. The (American) Football referee must know how to blow a whistle...in a timely manner.

4) Football (Soccer) referees are multi-liguists, capable of understanding slang from the most obscure language of the 32 participating equipes. This allows him to hand out the appropriate punishment (See #2, above). (American) Football referees have problems understanding anything but Standard American English and are thus at a disadvantage when players are hip-hoppin' 'em. Yo!

Catch some FIFA blogging/commentatin' at World Cup Blog.


Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Too Wise

It's past Memorial Day and that means restaurant choices available with ready seating are quite limited. On occassion, one's hi-falutin' eating standards have to be sacrificed for immediate seating.
As I wait in line to get into a joint of quesionable kitchen operations, my mind clicks back to a few summers ago.
A neigbour of ours, blessed with two quick kids readily equipped with opinions of the human condition, was meandering up and down a local subarban route in search of short lines and kid-acceptable meals. Pickings were especially bad that day, certainly not helped by the multitude of race-fans doing their own alcohol-fueled meanderings homeward. Our neighbour is a kind, considerate, sensible and forward-thinking woman. She also knows what happens when two sub-teenagers are seat-belted in her car and are in the throes of deep hunger. Desperate times, indeed.
So, she swerved into the the only eating establishment in sight with a negligible waiting line.

Shame creeped up her neck and blew full blast into her face. "How's this look to you guys?"
Her daughter screamed in disbelief.
Her son, not yet cursed with roiling testosterone and still comfortable in his Star Wars skin, seemed to be mulling the meal offerings.

He finally opined,"O.K., Mom. But I'm not drinking any milk here!.".

So, family shorthand for any restaurant visited under hunger distress is noted with that 9 yr. old's restaurant review.

"O.K. But I'm not drinking any milk here!.".

Damn Revenuers

From that article-posting dervish, Yakima Gulag, comes this intersting bit from Reuters UK regardng the Grey Economy in the Land of the Croats. The article's author, Igor Ilic, notes that "many small private tourist businesses here operate illegally. Or, if they are formally registered, they don't declare all their guests to avoid paying taxes."

"In the summer, the behaviour of some of those who offer private accommodation is really shameful. For instance, they gather at the bus station and pull tourists' sleeves to lure them to stay in their houses. Their aggressive approach sometimes causes quite unpleasant situations for guests.", he adds. In addition, analysts say the grey economy accounts for up to 15 percent of the European Union candidate country's (Croatia) total GDP, which grew by 4.3 percent in 2005 to 229 billion kuna ($40.15 billion) thanks to booming investment, tourism and exports."

Now, while all this may (or may not) be true, the crackdown, that the Croatian authorities are suggesting they may start, will eliminate one of the endearing qualities of Croatia, namely that most everyone, especially those everyones who happen to own even a miniscule quadrant of property on the Adriatic, see themselves as a minor version of Donald Trump. These folks' displeasure, no, make that hatred, for any taxing or licensing government agency would make the attitude toward the law by the corn liquor entrenprenuers of the back country stills seem like that of your typical charitable organization's. Bootleggers have nothing on these Croatian "beezness" people.

One hasn't experienced Croatia until they've been mugged by a stara baba. Saying "No!!" to a telephone solicitor is nothing compared to denying the pleadings of an older retiree "barely getting by on her $2/month pension." There's a reason these older women are still alive and it has nothing to do with the kindness of strangers. Hopefully, the Croatian Revenuers will leave these poor women alone or at least implement some "catch 'n release" program for them to follow regarding tourists.

And that 15% grey economy estimate? They have got to be pulling someone's leg. The word on the street, well, actually on the beach, last year was that it was closer to 50-60%. How else to explain all of those bakas driving Benz's and Beemers.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Borat's Speedo

Here, (yes, you'll click to actually see the pic) is the World Famous Borat (aka Ali G, aka Sasha Baron Cohen) @ Cannes, just in time to resurrect a post of mine from last year, the Summer of Croatia. No amount of slivovica could be poured down my throat to be wearing that.

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Snaring a Train

From Whisky Bar, this minute-by-minute account of catching a train in Egypt. Small event turns inot a great story, complete with nice character sketches. Much more trusting soul is he than I would be under the circumstances. All in all, a fine piece of travel writing.

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