It's down to 16. Who will advance? This weekend has four games, and we've run all the data through our proprietary algorithm that uses predictive analytics based on a coach's sideline presence to determine game outcomes. Here's what's going to happen, and why:
France vs. Argentina
Didier Deschamps — France
Jorge Sampaoli — Argentina
Gold bracelet. Chunky wedding ring. Ridiculously oversized watch. Between his excessive male jewelry and his "Bring me my goddamned Harvey Wallbanger!" body language, Deschamps looks more than ready to hit the Baccarat table at Caeser's. But at least his lapels are the right size. That gives him a slight edge over Sampaoli who completely undermines pretty good "Are you fucking kidding me?" Jesus Arms with a black blazer over black tee combo that Michael Lohan would be proud to rock at wherever Michael Lohan is rocking it these days. Plus it looks like he might be smuggling a couple keys of cocaine in his shoulder pads — and given recent news emanating from Argentina, that gives us pause. MB Prediction: France, 3-1.
Uruguay vs. Portugal
Óscar Tabárez — Uruguay
Fernando Santos — Portugal
Uruguay rolled through the Group A like they were all riding on Óscar Tabárez's motorized scooter, but despite sleeve-rolling at near MB levels, look for Portugal to advance on the sheer will of Santos's artful dishevelment and insouciance. He's just not into that cigarette. MB Prediction: Portugal, 1-0.
Spain vs. Russia
Fernando Hierro — Spain
Stanislav Cherchesov — Russia
"Dress for the job you want, not the job you have" is always good advice, and Spain's Fernando Hierro should have taken it. Instead, the Interim Head Coach is dressed like an Interim Head Coach — a solid performance (minimal accessorization, crest on the blazer) but nothing extraordinary, and the slightly oversized watch makes us wonder if he's truly a long-term fit. In the short term, it doesn't matter, because he's matched against Cherchesov, whose rumpled three-piece suit, black patent shoes, and over-sized ID Badge makes him look like he's head of security for a boy band from Novosibirsk. Sometimes in the World Cup, it's all about the luck of the draw. MB Prediction: Spain, 2-0.
Croatia vs. Denmark
Zlatko Dalić — Croatia
Åge Hareide — Denmark
Obviously, Knockout Phase matches cannot end in a draw, but Dalić and Hareide are pretty evenly matched here, in the timeless and understated uniform of charcoal pants, white woven, black sweater. As far as accessorization goes, Hareide's black-out sunglasses are slightly outplaying Dalic's tie — but whatever advantage that gives him is completely erased by an ID badge that appears even bigger than Cherchesov's. And maybe even bigger than a Denny's menu. We're still debating that here at MB headquarters, but giving the win to Dalic in the interim. MB Prediction: Croatia, 2-1.
Speculation has been running high about why Obama does, and the leading theory — that he does it to protect the ring from would-be thieves — makes no sense at all. First, he shakes hands with his right hand, not his left. Second, there's a reason you've heard of "pickpockets" but not "pickfingers" — it's much easier to lift a ring from the former rather than the latter.
But the notion that Obama has big plans for his First 100 Days out of office doesn't wash either. Even armed with those Trumpian ties and some Tic Tacs®, we just don't see him stepping out on Michelle any time soon. Which, as faithful readers have already no doubt deduced, leaves only one plausible explanation: The lame duck leader of the free world is finally adopting at least one Magnificent Bastard principle.
Q: This week I realized I still have the piercings I got in high school, but I'm in university now. As an 18 year old hoping to be a little classier than she started out as once I'm done with my schooling, what are your stances on piercings? I have my ears pierced twice over, as well as a simple cartilage piercing. I usually wear small sliver sleepers. I also have my naval pierced (despite knowing it's trashy) and am justifying it because only my boyfriend has seen it. I haven't changed it either, since anything that dangles or had rhinestones was just too gaudy even for my younger self. Should I take any of these out? What should I wear if I keep them in? Thank you! — Tessa
A: Our favorite Ask the MB submissions are the ones where readers answer their own question. It's a real timesaver!
Trust that your forthcoming jewelry and infection-reduction strategy is firmly grounded in the core principle of understatement, and would be zealously endorsed by MB patriarch Paul Fussell (RIP), who wrote in Class, "Both men's and women's elite looks are achieved by a process of rejection — of the current, the showy, the superfluous." He's talking about cartilage piercings here, Tessa.
Best of luck in college, and may any naval scarring be at a minimum.
Q: I have just inherited a family crest ring from my grandfather. How does MB feel about such rings. Should they be worn? —Phillip
A: There are certain things we'd happily inherit from our grandfather: His 1961 Jaguar E-Type. His Mizuno MP-14s. Money.
Then there are other things we'd rather not: Male pattern baldness. An elevated PSA. His third wife Mitzi.
Where does jewelry fall? Somewhere in the middle. Jewelry with a heraldic knight helmet? As our original logo attests, we have a soft spot for heraldic imagery. But when you put it on a big gold ring, we can't help but think this is what the 14th century version of Michael Lohan/Donald Trump would have worn. And that means that on our inheritability continuum, it's veering towards prostate cancer.
Our suggestion: File this item in a high-quality ring box and pass it down to your progeny, so in 30 years he can Ask the MB about wearing a family crest ring from his great-grandfather. We'll be here.
Granted, Prince William will be wearing the most glaring, in-your-face wedding band of all, the wedding band of fame, the wedding band that comes with having more than a billion people around the planet watch you get married....but still, we admire his decision to forsake the tiny golden fingercuff that positions the sacred covenant of marriage as a life sentence rather than a purely elective union between two people who really really want to be there, at least for eleven years or so.
Q: I recently picked up a silver Clint Orms "Trophy" buckle on vacation out west. In a room of Texan high-rollers you could call it understated, but I'm not sure how to pull it off in NYC without looking like a confused cowboy. Any suggestions? --Charles
A: Charles, we applaud your decision to get a Clint Orms trophy buckle. For those unfamiliar with Orms, he's a Texas-based silversmith and engraver known for his meticulously crafted belt buckles that along with silver incorporate gold, rubies, diamonds, sapphires, and emeralds. A single buckle may be constructed from as many as 200 different pieces, take 200 hours to make, and cost upwards of $20,000.
Always remember, though, that while a belt buckle in it simplest form is functional, a belt buckle that costs more than $20 is essentially male jewelry, and male jewelry involving precious metals and stones is typically an express train to Toolbagville. So restraint is crucial. Orms clearly gets this -- even at their most ornate, his trophy buckles display a sense of lavish understatement (see example, pictured).
The key to wearing them in NYC is to keep that principle in mind. First, we'd recommend going with a matte black/brown leather belt rather than lizard, alligator, or anything else with a lot of shine or texture. Second, keep everything else simple too: Unadulterated denim, canvas sneakers or sandals, and a well-worn tee or polo can work with an Orms trophy buckle. Never wear it with a suit. Never wear it with a shirt that has pearl snap buttons or Western-style stitching. Never wear it with a cowboy hat, a lariat, or cowboy boots -- which should be pretty easy since you should never wear a cowboy hat, a lariat, or cowboy boots in NYC anyhow.
Q: Shockingly you have never mentioned anything about your stance on earrings. I wear a very small silver hoop in my left ear and I consider myself to be moderately MB. My hot PhD wife certainly finds it sexy. What do you think? --Mark
A: Sorry, Mark, here at Magnificent Bastard we think of earrings, even relatively understated ones like you describe, as a gateway drug to a spot on the next season of Jersey Shore. First comes the hoop earring, next comes Pauly D's blowout hairstyle.
Q: Hey guys, love the site and what you're doing. I was wondering what your take on medical identification (i.e. bracelets, dog tags, and the like) was. I've been a type 1 diabetic for over nine years and have always refused to wear medical ID's because they tend to make people feel sorry for you ... and because most of the ones that I've seen, look ridiculous. However, recent events have brought to light the necessity of wearing a medical ID and I can thus no longer ignore the issue. What type of medical ID would say "hell yea I have diabetes, what about it?", while still maintaining the fashion style of an MB? --Iain
A: Here are the options as we see them:
Option A: Wear a necklace. They are barely visible 95% of the time and will indicate your medical need when necessary. If you're like us and can't stand things hanging from your neck, then...
Option C: If you are feeling flush, with the help of Tiffany you could make a one-of-a kind piece to last a lifetime. Buy a Tiffany 1837 I.D. bracelet (bottom) and work with their customer service -- and they are all about customer service -- to get the custom engraving your body needs.
These may be better suited for your mistress than your girlfriend or wife, but In God We Trust's Shana Tabor has come up with some exceptionally cheeky engraved heart necklaces. Consider these high risk/reward. Like a 490 yard par 5 with water in front of the green: a good birdie opportunity but could quickly turn into an 8. Call 718-388-2012 with questions or to place an order.
Q: I reject the MB's stance against pinkie rings at all cost. I wear a simple, small, stainless steel one because of what it represents. I'm an engineer from Canada (ya make all the jokes you want to prove your American insecurity, eh) and it represents a solemn expression of intent, a reminder of the humanity and responsibility involved in the profession. Keep that in mind when the guy-from-out-of-town drinks you under the bar while wearing one. Plus the ring follows the MB mantra, lack of utility coinciding with obscurity. --Ethan
A: The other day we were watching a television advertisement for a national restaurant chain and witnessed a customer wearing a pinkie ring (and exhibiting PDA). The restaurant was Applebee's. Our challenge to you, Mr. smart engineer guy: calculate the degree incline of the uphill battle you're fighting.
Q: In a March critique of an Iraqi insurgent's magnificent bastard-dom, you note: "Pinkie ring acceptable only if starring in Scorsese mob picture." With an astute sense of style, I think one could pull this off. I'm thinking Jude Law in The Talented Mr. Ripley (approx. 24 minutes in), with a jade/gold pinkie ring. In almost every situation, I would stay away from gold, but I found a similar ring in Egypt -- very simple and understated, with a small piece of turquoise in it -- if anything, more understated than the film. If done in good taste (not the least bit Rush Limbaugh-esque), would the MB endorse such a ring? Thanks. --Colin
A: We'll see your Talented Mr. Ripley and raise you an Idiocracy (where writer/director Mike Judge puts everyone in Crocs), featuring 5-time Ultimate Smackdown Champion and U.S. President Dwayne Elizando Mountain Dew Hector Camacho, in a gold pinkie ring.
Q: I am getting married in the summer and I want to know what kind of wedding band an MB wears. I want something simple but a little different. I'm not a fan of gold, I was thinking tungsten or platinum. --Spencer
A: Spencer, your instincts are strong. Your question got us to make a wedding band/ring chart, from zero to maximum magnificent bastard-dom. As you can see, no ring is at the top. It's simple, a little different, and communicates clearly that you are, and always will be, your own man. And there's nothing more Magnificent Bastardly than that.
May we suggest tucking that in? Or maybe taking it off and sticking it in a drawer somewhere?
Check in later this week for the complete Top 10.
Scotch on Rocks
Into a rocks glass filled halfway with ice, pour your house scotch whisky, which of course is something like Glenmorangie, Oban, Old Pulteney, Macallan, Highland Park, Talisker, Scapa, Lagavulin, Laphroaig.