Montenegro and Serbia advance to semis!!!

8 Aug

And the closer each team gets to medals, the more I dread the emotion of the game between them…

Montenegro’s Drasko Brguljan (R) and the bench celebrate a goal against Spain during their Men’s Quarterfinal water polo match during the London 2012 Olympic Games August 8, 2012. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes

(From Reuters)

By Sarah Young

Aug 8 (Reuters) – Gold-medal favourites Serbia joined their Balkan neighbours Montenegro in the semi-finals of the Olympic water polo tournament on Wednesday, after staging a decisive turnaround in the second half of their match against Australia.

Serbia, who won their group and were playing the lowest seed from the opposite pool narrowly avoided a huge upset. They trailed Australia right until the final four minutes of the match, before winning 11-8.

Montenegro beat Spain 11-9 in an earlier quarter final clash to book into the semis, giving the country a shot at winning its first Olympic medal as an independent nation.

“I was afraid,” admitted Serbia’s Filip Filipovic said of how he felt when they were behind, but he said he took confidence from the team’s ability to turn the match around.

“I think that this team showed spirit. When we play badly like in the first two quarters, we can rise up again, and we can play the most beautiful water polo.”

The team roared back to life in the second half of the match with a torrent of goals from their three top scorers, Andrija Prlainovic, Filipovic and captain Vanja Udovicic, in a display which saw Serbia’s famed defence recover to put a stop to Australia’s run.

Filip Filipovic — scored three goals to pull Serbia ahead over Australia, and into the semifinals

Serbia, who won bronze in Beijing, have spent the past four years on a roll, winning every major title on offer and are favourites to win the tournament after an unbeaten run so far.

MEDAL QUEST

Montenegro cruised through the middle periods of the game before letting a four-goal lead slip in a tense fourth quarter as Spain capitalised on their extra-player situations.

Montenegro narrowly lost out on the bronze to take fourth place in Beijing, when it competed in its first Olympics as an independent country since it separated from Serbia in 2006.

“I don’t want to be one more time fourth, I want to take a medal. It’s very important for us to take a medal,” Montenegrin captain Nikola Janovic said after the win.

The team was cheered on in the stands by Prime Minister Igor Luksic earlier on in the tournament, who spent his holiday in London watching the country’s teams compete in water polo and handball, such is his desire for a medal for Montenegro.

“We must be a little crazy. It’s the moment. It’s one moment (of) inspiration,” said Janovic when asked how his team will win their next match and guarantee a shot at the gold medal.

Nikola Janovic of Montenegro

Montenegro will play either Croatia or the U.S., who meet in a quarter final match later on Wednesday, in the semi-finals scheduled for Friday, while Serbia will meet either Hungary or Italy.

The Serbians have already overcome defending champions Hungary, looking to win a fourth consecutive Olympic gold, in the group stages.

“Doesn’t matter. Semi-final, tough game, everybody comes here to win,” Serbian coach Dejan Udovicic said when asked which team he would rather meet in the semis.

The former Yugoslav nations of Montenegro, Serbia and Croatia all play a similar style of water polo, which has to date help them dominate at this year’s Games.

For Spain, who last got a medal in the water polo in 1996 when they took home gold, the loss was a painful repeat of 2008, when they were also defeated in the quarter-finals. (Editing by Alison Williams)

 

Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

Brother

7 Aug

Do something.

Good luck here at the Open.  I wish you the best.  But then you gotta do something.

Get the fuck out of Monaco.  Monaco is for Russian mafiosi.  You’re not a Russian mafioso.  Stop acting like a movie star and a super model.  Put your pants back on.  And start acting like an athlete again.

And a Serb.

Go home.  I dunno: go to Chilandar for a while if you want.  Then go up to Durmitor or somewhere and get a cabin by yourself – or better, a cave.  Don’t play.  Run on the trails up there.  Your knees will be fine.  What do you need high-tech oxygen low barometer chambers or whatever the fuck they are for?  Run at high altitudes.  Grow a beard, eat stale proja and raw meat.

When the snows melt come down at Easter and find a court.  Does the one you first learned on still exist?  Go play there.  Do something for others; you’re a generous guy.  Help Marko with his game.  Or just give free lessons to anyone who wants them. “The giver’s glance gleams like gold,” Nietzsche says.  “You have a golden child,” your first trainer told your parents.  The problem isn’t your game or your body; it’s the spirit.

You let a couple of losses drag your ego down into a vicious cycle.

Be a Serb instead.

Your fans all love you like you don’t know.

NB

Durmitor (click)

 

Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

Today is the Feast of the Transfiguration

6 Aug

Fresco of the Transfiguration at the Serbian Orthodox Monastery of Decani in Kosovo. (click)

The Transfiguration – “today” all the title tracks of the Church’s feast days start with: today, here, the eternal now – is the moment when Christ revealed his divinity to John and Peter (yikes, I think, John and Peter…) on Mount Thabor, Moses and Elijah at his side.  It’s a holiday that the Catholic West has largely ignored, probably because it’s too metaphysical and abstract and there are no Virgins or blood or cute babies involved, so it was of limited uses for the Counter-Reformation propaganda machine.

This isn’t like the Epiphany, which commemorates the moment Christ the Man and the Father and the Holy Spirit were all revealed at once, a holiday that the Catholic Church has also dumbed-down to the completely irrelevant “Three Kings Day,” because there they can cast a cute baby: though what the cute baby was doing freezing in a cave twelve days old waiting for the Kings to bring him gifts, when scripture says he had been taken away to Egypt way before, and why the Epiphany happens when He’s thirty and not a baby, is something that the Catholic Church, like much else, has never thought it needed to explain to its followers…  Just the cheap marketing of Franciscan love for the Child — which is the distant root of the cheap marketing of Christmas.

The Transfiguration, the Metamorphosis, is Christ as God, a revelation of Divinity, a page straight out of the song book of any Indo-European or Semitic paganism, an Avatar or Incarnation — man, even animal – allowing a human to see the blinding glory of its Godhead.  In this version John and Peter are just knocked to the ground, not incinerated, or impregnated or stricken with fatal love.  But it’s clearly the same idea, and found its seed, like so much else, in the Semitic Christianity of the Near East.

In parts of rural Greece, it’s the day when the season’s first grapes are – or were — brought to church and blessed and distributed as prasad* to the congregation.  I was moved to find this tradition oddly observed in most Greek parishes in Istanbul, by the most profoundly urban Greeks of all Greeks, with grapes from the manave.**  I remember wondering what it was they needed to remember by doing this.  I remember being given a handful at the Taxiarches in Arnavutkoy, munching on them as I strolled back to class in Bebek, saving a few for my best friend there.

This is the interior of the church of the Taxiarches (the Archangels, Michael and Gabriel) in Arnavutkoy.  I went there a lot because it was the largest functioning church near Bogazici U, or at least the one that I knew wouldn’t be depressingly empty.  The only church of the Transfiguration I know of in Istanbul is on Buyuk Ada (Prinkipo) and I couldn’t find a picture of it.  Below is the Transfiguration of Corona, Queens, though, where I was baptized and raised.  Under that is the Russian Orthodox Church of the Transfiguration in Williamsburg (“Preobrazhenie,” “obraz” being the Slavonic for “image,” like the Latin “figura” in Transfiguration or the Greek “morphe” in Metamorphosis) which you used to be able to see from the BQE against the Manhattan skyline before all the ugly condos for the hipsters with rich daddies went up.  Below that are some grapes.

* prasad is a food offering to a Hindu deity which is blessed and then distrubuted to his devotees

** manave is a greengrocer

 

Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

wow…man…n-o-b-o-d-y talk to me right now…

5 Aug

Novak Djokovic of Serbia scrambles back to his racket after falling while playing against Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina in the men’s singles bronze medal match at the All England Lawn Tennis Club at Wimbledon, in London, at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — Juan Martin del Potro wept after losing to Roger Federer in the Olympic semifinals. He wept again Sunday, this time with joy after winning the bronze medal.

The Argentine beat Novak Djokovic 7-5, 6-4 in a rain-delayed match at Wimbledon and fell to the grass, covering his face with his hands.

“I don’t have the words to explain,” Del Potro said. “It’s similar to winning a Grand Slam (title) or maybe even bigger. It’s amazing.”

Del Potro had lost 3-6, 7-6 (5), 19-17 on Friday to Federer in the longest best-of-three set match in men’s tennis in the Open era – 4 hours, 26 minutes.

“I think I’m the most happy of the world at this moment,” Del Potro said. “After a really sad day two days ago, it’s not easy to recover and to play these kind of matches.”

Djokovic said he failed to capitalize on his chances, and that Del Potro deserved to win.

“Disappointing end, but I enjoyed it,” the second-seeded Serb said. “It was a pleasure playing for my country.”

From left, silver medalist Switzerland’s Roger Federer, gold medalist Andy Murray of Great Britain, and bronze medalist Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina stand during the medal ceremony of the men’s singles event at the All England Lawn Tennis Club at Wimbledon, in London, at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

 

Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

This might be the week the Syrian opposition lost me…

5 Aug

…for whatever my opinion is worth.

Executing prisoners is disgusting enough; executing civilians in cold blood, like prominent Aleppo families, because they’re friends of the Assad’s, is when I pull my vote.

And, though I’ve learned to become pretty wary of these jihadist allegations and their Bush II “war-on-terror” timbre, these don’t sound so bogus: Al Qaeda Insinuating its Way into Syria’s Conflict.

And the video:

 

Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

Photos: Men

5 Aug

Big man

Bigger man — who’s gonna eat you alive one day…

 

Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

Occupation, Not Culture, Is Holding Palestinians Back

5 Aug

From the New York Times August 3, 2012

By MUNIB R. MASRI

Nablus, West Bank

EARLIER this week, while Israel’s cheerleaders and Las Vegas casino moguls were parsing every syllable uttered by Mitt Romney in Jerusalem as fastidiously as the Olympic judges were scrutinizing every back flip in London, millions of Palestinians issued a giant collective yawn.

There was little anger when Mr. Romney made thinly veiled racist allusions to the supposed inferiority of Palestinian culture and genuflected at the altar of distant fund-raising thrones in New York and Los Angeles.

Of course, Hamas sputtered rejections and the Iranians hyperbolically accused Romney of “kissing the foot” of Israel — shrill criticisms easily dismissed in the West.

On the legendary “Palestinian street,” however, there was only weariness after Mr. Romney’s slight. It was nothing we haven’t heard before, nothing we haven’t seen in so many other pre-election panderings.

American Jews like to split hairs over which candidate is more pro-Israel or who better represents their interests: Is Mr. Obama’s facial expression lacking? Is that omitted adjective by Mr. Romney significant? But ask 9 out of 10 Palestinians and you will get an identical response: “There is no difference between Obama and Romney.”

President Obama brought his clarion call for hope and change to Cairo early in his tenure. He said nice, positive things about respecting the Muslim world and encouraging a true peace between Israel and Palestine. And then he did nothing in slow motion for more than three years.

Now Mr. Romney has waded into the debate. His claim that there can be “no daylight” between Israeli and American policies amused us here in the West Bank. In fact, there is no daylight today under Mr. Obama, nor was there under George W. Bush. America’s veto of Palestine’s bid for statehood in the United Nations Security Council continues to stifle our legitimate ambitions for self-determination. Like peas in a pod or twins in a crib, American foreign policy and Israel’s desires move in tandem. Palestine plays no role whatsoever in this cozy equation.

Mr. Romney believes that Israel’s impressive economic growth is because of the country’s strong culture and that the Palestinian economy lags because — implicitly — our culture is inferior.

As one of the most successful businessmen and industrialists in Palestine today (there are many of us), I can tell Mr. Romney without doubt or hesitation that our economy has two arms and one foot tied behind us not by culture but by occupation.

It’s hard to succeed, Mr. Romney, when roadblocks, checkpoints and draconian restrictions on the movement of goods and people suffocate our business environment. It is a tribute to the indomitable spirit of our Palestinian culture that we have managed to do so well despite such onerous constraints.

It was predictable that Mr. Romney would eventually visit our area — although he didn’t actually set foot on our land or see how we live up close and personal — in order to score points.

Palestinians were genuinely saddened, however, by the fact that he deliberately chose to ignore us. There was nary a word about our plight, our day-to-day challenges, our rights and our future. We were here, just meters away from his entourage, yet we were not on his radar or on his agenda.

To paraphrase an ancient observation: Romney came. He saw only what his advisers permitted him to see. And he conquered his fund-raising goals by saying what his boosters insisted on hearing, while completely ignoring one of the two peoples who live here.

But peace is not made by ignoring one party while lionizing the other. In Palestine, we stubbornly continue to hope that the occupant of the White House will one day recognize this.

Munib R. Masri, a businessman and industrialist, is the chairman of Padico, the Palestine Development and Investment Company.

 

Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

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