Parking the Butt

 Contentment. And disgust. 

 

A framed photo of a German shopkeeper adorns  Peter's Luxury Apartment® to remind me to breathe deeply and remember what matters in life. Pour that lunch beer. Breathe, breathe in the air and tell your loved ones that indeed you are there. That is the intention but I haven't yet managed the task, it's so damn hard. 

 

The last three World Cups have been an excuse to slow down, skip school and sit in front of the television at odd hours. It's been an opportunity to indulge my fondness for food and drink. I've been fortunate to arrange my schedule for this event in the past but this year has proved difficult. Work has interfered to the point that I've watched only one full game and chunks of several others. But it is self imposed work. The photo is reminder to slow down.

 

This blog was an attempt to force me to take some time off and focus on an event that usually brings great pleasure. The irony is that several nights I've had to fast forward through most of the action to get back to work and prepare the blog. The good work of my contributors has helped to keep me going and I intend to finish the task. Toward that end, Nick has joined the WBC crew full time this week and the plan is to take a bit more time off to finish the blog, maybe spend dinnertime at home. Maybe don a smock and sit in the biergarten at lunch.

 

Day Nine: The Games

I watched most of the second half of the Serbia-Switzerland game and was reminded why these are so enjoyable. An extra-time winner tightened Group E and will make Serbia's chance difficult. Iceland was disappointing but wouldn't it be fun for Nigeria to edge out Argentina? Lots of interest tomorrow. Mexico will try to keep their dream tournament going with the late game against South Korea. Most will expect Germany to right themselves against Sweden, but if they don't get a full 3 points it will be a fun final day day in this group. 

 

Sunderland action: Bryan Oviedo of Costa Rica performed well against Brazil producing one tremendous defensive header to deny Jesus, according to the Independent, Grade: 6/10.

The other Black Cat in Russia is Wahbi Khazri - who has spent the season on loan at Rennes - will lead Tunisia’s charge against Belgium tomorrow.

 

On to the Beer: 
Belgium-Too-NEE-Zee-a at 7 a.m. Saturday. Leffe Royale from Belgium is a new beer for me, kind of a bigger version of their Blonde, stronger and hoppier. Not sure this is available here, my bottle was a gift from a traveler. The label is in French, but I gather it is dry hopped with Whitbread Goldings. Still, it's dominated by the malt with the Belgian yeast characteristics one expects: banana, clove, some phenols. BA rates it good/very good and I'd tend to agree. A pleasant, well balanced strong blonde. 

 

90th minute winner: 

Not a beer but a tasty local craft, Wild Culture Kombucha from Iowa City  was our neighbor at the Iowa Craft Brew Fest last week. We left with a growler of fruit infused kombucha on a 100 F day. Perfect. I don't remember the style but is redolent of strawberry and delicious. Thanks guys. 

SPINNING THE CUP with DJ Narthex

 

Space Race Face

Artist: Spinneweb

Nation: Belgium

Album: Enter The Druid (2018)

 

One of the key reasons I’m enjoying this tournament is my utter, complete and wholesale refusal to ruin it all by having entered some sort of stupid fantasy league prior to the start. 

 

Which, by the way, has been the thing that’s ruined the Premier League for me for the past two seasons. Well, that and Sunderland’s embarrassing and epic free-fall to (so far, check your watch) League One. 

 

No. Not this time. This time I can enjoy the unexpected ruthlessness of Croatia without kicking myself for not bringing Modric in to my midfield. I can fully appreciate the drama of Messi’s missed penalty without cringing at what it’s costing me. I can not give a single damn when a team already out of the knockouts gives up a clean sheet in the 97th minute because a free kick ricochets off a swooping Siberian grouse and past the keeper. 

 

And I can, for once, be completely and blissfully ambivalent about whether or not Eden Hazard shows up. 

 

Actually, is he even playing? Hadn’t noticed. 

 

You see, everyone who gets into fantasy football, from innocent dabbler to desperate needer-of-help, has THAT player. The guy whose scoring you can personally govern by bringing him in or sending him out. 

 

For me, Hazard is that guy. I’ve never guessed right with him. So I’ve banned him. Which means he scores all the time. 

 

I read today how we’re probably be seeing peak-Belgium this tournament. That it’s going to have to be a win this time, or not for a long time. 

 

Look at those names. Lukaku. De Bruyne. Kompany. Vertonghen. Courtois. And that guy whose name escapes me. That’s a likable side that should make some noise. 

 

And how much do I care? Some. An appropriate amount. That’s all. 

 

Speaking of promising Belgian noise, today I present that which is atop my Belgian noise list at the moment and that’s the current work of the young, upstart DIY electronica artist who goes by the name Spinneweb. 

 

You’ll find his stuff on Spotify and YouTube and elsewhere online. It’s by turns spare, driving, ambient, funny — covering the map. He’s reasonably new at this, but there’s a certain knack and authenticity in his approach that sets it above from so many of the freelance beats-and-loops assemblers who churn out so much, well, shall we call it cheesiness? Listen instead here for the better elements of Kraftwerk, Gary Numan, New Order, Eno. Lyrics when they’re present are evocative and wry, and vocals are unique and well-suited for the sound  It’s good. 

 

I’ve selected a track suitable for Eden Hazard’s frantic post-match Euro-clubbing after he single-handedly smashes my fantasy side again and again next Premier League season. 

 

If he stays with Chelsea, that is, and doesn’t go off to Real Madrid or some such during the transfer season. I bet he stays in England, though, just to vex me. 

 

Nat's Kitchen

 

Our Belgium theme continues with Moules-Frites. (Mussels and Fries). Mussels are usually served in the same pan they were cooked in with an additional vessel for discarding empty shells. Sauces for frites include ketchup, mayonnaise (variations include aioli, curry mayo), sauce andolouse, bicky dressing (similar to thousand island dressing), samurai-sauce, and peanut sauce.

Moules à la bière is one of several local variations and it consists of beer (Belgian Wits, pale ales or lagers pair best), shallots, parsley, and butter. On average between 25-30 metric tons of mussels are consumed as Moules-Frites.

In my opinion, Moules-Frites are a more refined version of chicken wings, both consumed with equal savagery.

 

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