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The World Cup from a Graphic Artist’s Perspective

I am surrounded by many insanely talented people, and one of those artists is Lorraine, who I met in German class at Missouri State. I love her taste in graphic design and style, and I am continually amazed at the beautiful pieces she finds around the web.

Now that both America’s and England’s Summermärchen are over (and Germany is through to the quarter finals!!!), I think some inspiring World Cup design might lift losing spirits (unless you’re rooting for Germany, in which case, party in the streets!!!).

[image source]
In her Weekly Reader: World Cup Edition, Lorraine shared a great article on World Cup iPhone apps ;), a history of the World Cup logos (I like Mexico 1970 and 1986, and Italy 1990; totally disagree with the author about the Germany 2006 logo), a very German World Cup guidebook, and a beautiful bracket tracker.

In closing… AUF GEHT’S DEUTSCHLAND, SCHIESS EIN TOOOOOOR!!!

These Are the Moments That Change Our Lives

I’m reading Muriel Barbery‘s The Elegance of the Hedgehog for the Barnes & Noble Ladies Book Club. I wasn’t too impressed with the last two books we chose, Uglies and Winter’s Bone, but this book was already on my Goodreads To Read list, so I was hopeful. Last Saturday, I had a couple hours to kill at Barnes & Noble before Rob got off work and we went on a little date, so I got the book off the shelf, ordered a coffee, and started reading. I fell in love with this book by the end of the prologue, which is several chapters long.

I’ve been recording quotations from it, and there is one that I read last night that perfectly describes a sensation I’ve experienced before in my life but never tried to shroud in words, and I just have to share it here in my pensieve.

Moments like this act as magical interludes, placing our hearts at the edge of our souls: fleetingly, yet intensely, a fragment of eternity has come to enrich time. Elsewhere the world may be blustering or sleeping, wars are fought, people live and die, some nations disintegrate, while others are born, soon to be swallowed up in turn–and in all this sound and fury, amidst eruptions and undertows, while the world goes its merry way, bursts into flames, tears itself apart and is reborn: human life continues to throb. (91)

Have you ever experienced this?

Boomtown Days Half Marathon Race Report

I ran the Boomtown Run Half Marathon in Joplin yesterday, but I’m not going to say much about this race simply because I’m not ready to say much positive, and if you know me at all, you know I prefer positivity.

It was very hot and very humid. Some clouds and wind made the third 5k to the end bearable, along with the aid stations with lots of water and ice. One even had a high-powered mister, and another had water spraying from a hose. It was awesome.

We had a great cheering squad! My mom and Sarah’s husband, Chris, followed us around Joplin and they met up with us several times throughout the race, ringing cowbells, yelling, blowing an air horn, and waving signs. Nothing helps power a tired, hot runner forward more than cheers. Remember this if you ever attend / happen upon a race. Cheer nonstop. We need it, and we love you for it.

Finally, Sarah. When I wanted to stop, she said, “Not until that stoplight.” When I asked her if she would quit or keep running if I dropped out, she hesitated, and said, “It doesn’t matter because quitting isn’t an option. You will finish this race.” And I did because of her.

I would be remiss to ignore the excellent organization of the Boomtown Run Half Marathon. I definitely recommend this race (and would all the more so if it weren’t so hot) because of how well the entire event was put together. Registration was smooth. The course had plenty of aid stations, lots of medical support, and they reacted to or had already planned for the forecasted heat. Which I am very glad about; wouldn’t want another Chicago. My favorite part of the race support? I have to choose three experiences. (1) A volunteer named June at about mile 10.4 (just before the course turned south into Schifferdecker Park) who cheered and cheered and cheered! It was so uplifting! (2) The swag! We got a technical jersey at packet pick-up and a sweet medal and technical race hat at the finish line. That’s the best swag I’ve ever received in a race! (3) Ice tubs at the post-race party. See picture below. Very very cold, but I love the restorative effects of an ice bath on sort muscles and joints!

And that’s about all the nice things I can say about the Boomtown Run, no discredit to the organizers, only to the frickin’ weather. :) I’m starting to think I’m not made for half-marathons. *sigh*

If you want to see the rest of the pictures Chris took during the race, click here.

UPDATE! I was just about to publish this post when I found out that out of about 850 people who started, 400 DNFed. Wow. That makes me feel a LOT better about how poorly we did.

Update #2: I have to correct the information above. There were 850 total runners in both the half marathon and the 5k. Of that, 290 were 5k runners and 443 were half-marathon finishers. That means there were 117 DNFers, not 400. Still, that is 26% of the entrants who did did not complete the race. Even if 30 of those did not even start the race, that leaves 20% who DNFed. So I still feel good about crossing that finish line, even if it took me way too long.

3 Best iPhone Apps for World Cup Fans

On Friday, the biggest world-wide sports event, the 2010 FIFA World Cup, opens with host country South Africa challenging Mexico. American soccer fans don’t have to wait long to see their team play; on the second game day, a much anticipated clash between England and the United States starts at 1:30 CST. The 2010 World Cup is one month of nearly daily soccer, filled with exciting match-ups and probably with more than a few surprising upsets.

What’s the best way to follow your favorite team? Or at least to stay in-the-know so you’ll have something to discuss with your footy-obsessed friends between June 11 and July 11? With an iPhone app, of course! But which one? Here are my recommendations, for everyone from serious Fußball fans with office pool standings to keep track of, to soccer fans who want to know what’s going on. I’ve even included an embarrassing entry in the World Cup iPhone arena.

Best All-in-One App:  ESPN2010 FIFA World Cup

I have a feeling that this strong, well-balanced app from sports behemoth ESPN will be my go-to app for World Cup 2010.The app is free, but to get all sorts of cool options, like live audio, play-by-play commentary, and alerts for all 64 matches, you have to buy the World Cup Premium Package for $7.99. I don’t know that I’ll pay 8 bucks (!) for those features. They do sound nice, but for 8 clams? Hmm. We’ll see.

Unlike a couple other World Cup apps (who shall, for now, remain nameless), ESPN’s news section stays current (nice feature, right?), and this is an absolute must-have for a sports event with up to three games a day during the group stage.

There is a small news ticker along the bottom of the app, but unlike the Fox Soccer Channel app (honorable mention, below), it is minimalist and well-designed. It doesn’t detract from the main function of the app, which is to share World Cup info.

This app also features your chosen favorite teams front and center. (In case you’re wondering, mine are, in no particular order, England, Germany, Spain, Italy, Australia, and Brazil.)

In the spinner below your favorites is where all of the other useful information is located, including Scores & Schedule, News, Video, Tables, Stats, and Teams. All of this information is just a finger slide away. Great design.

Best True Footy Fan App: World Football Tracker

Warning: This $0.99 app is for serious fand only! Or for people who really like entering numbers into boxes.

This app lets you plug in your predictions for every game, then figures group stage tables. Based on group stage scores entered (and maybe on world standings, which can be updated with a single click from the Options menu), it predicts round of 16, quarter finals, semi-finals, and final stage face-offs! Rob and I usually make predictions and compete for highest score (3 points for a spot-on correct prediction, 2 points for the right spread, or 1 point for correctly identifying the winner), so this will really help me to see the effects of my predictions and adjust as necessary. Shh, don’t tell him my secret.

But the app isn’t just useful for score predictions. It shows the time, date, and location of every match, includes a knockout table, and lets you choose a favorite team (although I can’t quite figure out how to do that, and there aren’t instructions in the Help section).

For a buck, it’s a great app for serious footy fans.

Best Year-Round App: iFooty (and iFooty Plus for $2.99)

This is the soccer app that I use year round, and even though I can’t see any World Cup-related stats yet because the app displays results and game breakdowns, I am sure that it will be as useful during the World Cup as it was for checking Champions League, Premiere League, Bundesliga, La Liga, or whichever world league(s) you want to follow. It offers push notifications for any teams you specify. As a fan who just can’t watch all the games I want to live, I really love this feature.

Honorable Mention: Fox Soccer Channel

Wow. This one was disappointing. While it supplies the basic, expected features, like displaying group tables and team information (in a style that I found overly difficult to navigate), the news ticker is flashy and distracting, news items were almost two months old, and the gallery images? There are some “fun” galleries, like World Cup of Hair and Hunky Soccer Players Gallery. The captions in this one sound like they were written by a dude whose women told him which players were hot but not why. Now, I am not one to disagree with anyone who says soccer players are hot. But I think serious commentary is expected. I get the impression that some of these galleries were created ahead of June 11 just fill out the gallery section.  They are entertaining, that’s for sure, but junk food when I’m looking for meat and potatoes. Check out the hormonal captions Fox Soccer Channel subjects users to.

Michael Ballack: The Chelsea midfielder and Germany captain makes them swoon. And no, that is not a photo of Matt Damon.

Thanks. Because I was confused. Since, you know, Matt Damon regularly moonlights as a Chelsea player.


Landon Donovan: The face of U.S. soccer is a good looking one, indeed.

[Insert picture of chiseled soccer player here]
[Insert generic comment about how hot said chiseled player is]

Yawn.


Cristiano Ronaldo: The Real Madrid star and leader of Portugal has taken over from David Beckham and the sport’s preeminent sex symbol.

What whack job thinks Beckham has lost his sex appeal? Don’t get me wrong, Ronaldo is one fine specimen. But Becks still has it. Am I right, ladies, or am I right?


See what I mean? Believe me, we don’t need Fox telling us who’s hot. Just show us the shirtless pics and we’ll drool on our iPhones all by ourselves. :)

Have another great soccer app? Share it in the comments! If you feel like writing about it, email it to lam (at) lindenamueller.com; I’d love to feature it as a guest post!