Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Formula 1derful Weekend

It's finally here. Starting tomorrow with the pitlane walkabout, I will be far away from a computer for most of the weekend as I will spend all my free time at the track for the 2006 FIA Formula 1 United States Grandprix Weekend I can't wait.

But, hey, Seds, after last year why would you want to go back? Wasn't it a total farce, a total waste of money? Fair question. Let's address them one by one.

Yes, it was a farce. Absolutely. Only 6 of 20 cars actually raced the race. An absolute and total disgrace. But behind nearly every good farce there is a reason and sometimes politics. And make no mistake, their was a ton of international intrigue and politics behind this. Michelin was still pissed at the FIA going to a single tyre supplier for 2007, some suggest this was their temper tantrum. I am one of those people. I know the PR hit that Michelin took, but Michelin knew that the bigger hit was going to F1 as a whole. Michelin also was a winning tyre more often than not in F1 last year by far. And won LeMans. They were more than doing fine in positive publicity. And for me, there is just as much joy in following the soap opera between teams, tyre suppliers, car manufacturers and the countries they represent as their is in the race half the time. So for me, the farce, while incredibly frustrating was highly entertaining, including the aftermath which lasted for weeks.

So was it worth the money? Yes, absolutely. That was historical, for all the wrong reasons, yes. But, I still witnessed history. And at $60 for a weekend pass, it's a complete and total bargain. After only 2 hours at the track, taking in the atmosphere, and even seeing the cars for one lap at speed you have more than your moneys worth. I had my money's worth well before raceday, just from being down there the two previous days for practice and qualifying. I had two friends come out from California for the race last year. Their first race at the track they see all this go down. They are coming back this year. I don't think I exaggerate to say they didn't even debate it.

And yes, of course I hope for a better situation this year. I do wanna see the race. It is the main attraction. Of course I wanna see it. If it all falls apart again, I will go to Montreal and watch the race there next year instead.

The bottom line is, this may be my favorite weekend to be in Indianapolis all year. It's fun as hell downtown with the internationals here. The atmosphere at the track is intoxicating, even before you pay 6 bucks for a Foster's oil can. It's something that should be done or tried at least once. 5 years ago I never would have guessed that I would be such a siucker for Formula 1. Now, I know that I am as hooked to it as baseball or soccer. And as I continue to go back to baseball even as they attempt ritualistic suicide by way of strikes, steroids, and other nightmares I go back to Formula 1 even inspite of their self destructive tendancies.

So predictions for the weekend? Your podium will be 1. Fisichella 2. Alonso 3.

There you have it.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Godard Exhibition in Paris

Look at Godard there. That was taken at Cannes in May. Not too bad for a 75 year old, methinks.

Anyway, if anyone wants to take me to Paris sometime before August 14, I am up for it. The Georges Pompidou Center is hosting a retrospective of Godard put together by Godard for a few more weeks. The New York Times article on the exhibition makes it seem as irreverant as one could expect from Godard.

For instance, the title...

Travel(s) in Utopia, Jean-Luc Godard 1946-2006, In Search of a Lost Theorem

Here is a brief explanation....

One enters "Travel(s)" via a long rectangular gallery labeled "Yesterday," with "Before Yesterday" to the left and "Today" on the right.

"Today" is a riff on domestic interiors, a room about the stuff we keep in rooms. Propped on a bed in the position of someone reading a book, a flat-screen television loops a sequence from "Black Hawk Down." This is flanked by a shelf of disconnected audio and video components, a flowerless vase, an arrangement of fake plants and a photomontage of home furnishings cut from glossy magazines. Elsewhere a hard-core pornographic montage is installed beside an ersatz kitchen.

At the center of "Yesterday," the central gallery, a grouping of plants obscures two monitors, a homage, perhaps, to Nam June Paik's "TV Garden." Other monitors along the floor show excerpts of films by Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, Nicholas Ray, Fritz Lang and others. The most striking element is a large electric train that passes through an aperture roughly cut in the wall, connecting "Yesterday" with "Before Yesterday."

And it's possible that the author of the article speaks in even greater hyperbole than myself...

"Travel(s)" may be the most demanding and audacious film of Mr. Godard's career, possibly the most hermetic and definitely the most chaotic. Like much of his late work, it can be read as an elegy for the history of cinema and the cinema of history. However it began, it ended as a characteristic act of opposition. At the very moment of his career embalment, Mr. Godard has let everyone know he's alive and kicking.

Good Lord. Do you think there is any chance of getting this to travel to the Children's Museum? The hardcore pornagraphy probably rules that out, unfortunately.

From what I can tell, This is the official english language website of the exhibit

Pearl Jam Live 6/24 Cincinnatti

I'm a sucker. I love Pearl Jam. I always have. I will tell you something else you may not know. Ten, while a great album, is not even close to their best album. It's number 4 or 5 maybe. Binaural is in fact their best album. I know this because I checked. Through repeated listens the evidence is irrefutable. So, over more than a decade as a Pearl Jam fan you would think I have seen them live numerous times. Sadly not. Before this past weekend I had only seen them once live. And truth told I was less than sober taht evening, and I don't even count that as seeing them. It's embarassing and best left forgotten. So we will say that Saturday night was my first Pearl Jam show. At US Bank Arena in Cinci.

I was blown away by the show. I am not usually into big shows. I think something gets lost in those shows. Energy, sound, everything. The barrier between performer and audience is just more difficult to overcome. The last BIG show I saw was Coldplay at Deer Creek last summer, and while it was good enough, it simply wasn't great. They and their music just don't have the energy to sustain a 2 hour show. But from the moment Pearl Jam took the stage, till 2 hours and 45 minutes later, the energy in the whole arena was phenomenal.

The set list?

Set 1 Long Road, Save You, Hail Hail, World Wide Suicide, Severed Hand, Corduroy, Unemployable, Even Flow, Love Boat Captain, Gone, Green Disease, Not For You/(Modern Girl), Present Tense, Lukin, Whipping, Do The Evolution, Life Wasted

Encore 1 Wishlist/(Love is Stronger than Witchcraft), Better Man/(Save it for Later), Inside Job, Crazy Mary, Rearviewmirror

Encore 2 Comatose, Leash, Alive, Baba O'Riley

Yeah, I coulda used some Binaural. But to see Wishlist, Present Tense, Long Road, Leash and some others live left me far more than satisfied. It almost restored my faith in the large arena show. Hearing thousands of people shout along with songs which never really amde an impact on radio is also pretty damn awesome. It's great to see this band still around and still having fans who have stayed along for the ride, when they aren't as hip or cool as they maybe once were thought to be.

And the final encore was an even greater treat. Robert Pollard one time Guided by Voices folk hero was the opener. (His set was also phenomenal.) Pearl Jam brought him up for Baba O'Riley. All the house lights were on, and everybody sang along. I couldn't have imagined being any happier to [i]not[/i] hear Yellow Leadbetter as a closer. It was a phenomenal ending to the show. I hope to get the bootleg off my friend Paul and listen to it repeatedly.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Le Petit Soldat

Upon viewing, it's not hard to see why Le Petit Soldat was banned in France for over three years. What I didn't expect though was that it would resonate in such a way today. Like many Godard films the plot seems relatively simple, but there is a ton going on under the surface. It's an antiwar movie. It's a love story. It espouses on some of Godard's favorite authors. It references Godard's cinematograpgher Raoul Coutard's growing fame.

But mainly it comes down to this, Bruno is on the side of the French. He is ordered to kill an Arab sympathizer in Geneva. Veronica (played beautifully by Anna Karina) is on the side of the Algerian's. They have ideals. The French had an ideal against the German's, but they don't here she says, and that's why they will lose the war. Of course, Bruno and Veronica meet. And of course Bruno falls in love, or at least a Godard type version of love with Veronica. In one scene they are together in an apartment for about 20 minutes, and it brings to mind the playful scene in Breathless which was the only feature film Godard had made before this.

Neither side is shown to be right or blameless in this story, even with Veronica criticizing the French lack of ideals. Bruno is tortured by the Arabs, and we watch. Soon after we don't watch (thankfully) as Veronica is also tortured. The film isn't propoganda for one side ir the other, instead it shows the awful nature of torture, and the confused nature of some of the combatants. You get the feeling that Bruno and Veronica wanted to believe in something and just happened to pick different sides in a battle where neither side had much inspiring to offer. At least in the context of the film.

I can't imagine what it would have been like to see this after it was banned for three years, and finally see what the fuss was about. But, seeing it today is still an experience. Not because it's Godard's best film, it isn't even close. But because these problems are still with us, in one form or another. Torture definitely is in the news lately. Seeing your nation at war when you are unsure the war is really just, yep, that's happening today, too. While I don't think I will view it repeatedly liek other Godard films, in part due to the heaviness of the subject matter, it is an intriguing and important film to see even forty plus years later.

Friday, June 23, 2006

A few words chosen random for those arriving late to the World Cup...

So Bruce Arena decides to play a 4-5-1 for three straight games? And thats how I see Reyna's and McBride's international careers end? And Croatia goes out on a clear offside goal from Australia and manages to completely lose their cool in the final ten minutes and embarass themselves.





Tactical nightmare.



Pink slip.

And for those wondering the official post World Cup soundtrack is Kid A by Radiohead.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Please, please, please let me get what I want.

So, by this time tomorrow I will be eating an enourmous amount of Indian food at a buffet and preparing for a moderate amount of alcohol consumption, hopefully in celebration of the US advancing to the 2nd round of the World Cup. It really can't come soon enough. I took tomorrow off from work weeks back fearing that it would be the decisive make or break day for the US team (and Croatia) and of course it is. So after a morning run to settle nerves I will head down to Radio Radio and hope that we have 75 fans cheering on the US again. I would like to think we won't have two bimbos in Ghana t-shirts like we had two in Italy t-shirts last game. But you never know what people will do just to be different.

In the days following the US game vs Italy, I actually have become more amazed at what they accomplished. I still can't believe that was the same team that played the Czech Republic. Some of the outcry against the referee has died down. I can only assume it's as people try to be more sportsmanlike. But, to me the Mastroeni redcard was still only a yellow at worse. As for Pope, it's tough to say. Regardless they overcame all the obstacles and somehow pulled off that draw. It truly was remarkable to watch, and one could argue that they even deserved the win. It's a game that I can honestly see recalling in 40 years in conversation, if.....

The United States wins tomorrow, and somehow advances to the second round. Because, really if they lose to Ghana tomorrow, what was that game except a small bright spot in a largely disapointing World Cup. And maybe thats the curse of expectations, or maybe its just being a sore loser. A win vs Ghana is by no means guaranteed. They are an extremely strong squad, and on paper probably look to be stronger than the US. At worst, they look our equal.

But after all the pre Cup build-up, and after hopes have been reinvigorated after the Italy match, it seems only a win and passage to the next round will satisfy. I'm jealous, I'm greedy, and probably unreasonable. But, all those qualities are pretty much expected in a sports fan aren't they?

So until 955 am tomorrow, I'll be the guy pacing back and forth and mumbling to himself. And yet, for some sick reason I am finding this all very fun and enjoyable.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The sound of ba, ba baaaaaaa

Goodness gracious. I have aproximately 75 weddings to go to this summer. That's an exaggeration perhaps. But at least 5 if you have counted those taht I have already attended. And then you hear of friends of friends weddings, and a whole load of other weddings. And you know that other already married friends are having kids. And then you get a phone call from your sister that she's pregnant. And all of these sometimes can be reminders of the single life that you (okay, I) lead.

Now that's not an entirely big deal. Neither are the questions about the single life, or the attempts at hookups from other friends. Or anything along those lines. I know that certain baggage that I carry leaves me far from ready for marraige at this time, inspite of the sharp wit, rockstar build, and black belt in chivalry that I happen to possess. One would imagaine that the suitors to take my hand would be plentiful with all these qualities. I assume that they are plentiful. But, perhaps just shy, and maybe thats why they are unknown to me.

But, in the meantime for me it just seems pointless to go out and sample around and try to involve myself in any sort of faux dating relationship with anyone else at this moment in time. Apparently I stubborn. Or maybe it's something else. But what I do know is that I have known what I have wanted for an extremely long time and to sample around at something less than that is dishonest, primarily to myself.

I guess it comes down to settling, and other people are far more eloquent on the subject than myself. But, in my experience, and granted it's limited in these 29 years, anything thats worth having is sure as hell gonna take some time and affort. (And, I don't imply "having" in terms of love in such a possesive sense as it comes off, at elast to myself, there.) If shit goes pearshaped in your career, do you pack tents and head home? Did Brian McBride quit the damn game against Italy after he fwas bloodied by a cheating Italian? No and no. In your career you work at it and try your damndest to make it happen. And McBride got his eye patched the hell up and through himself into the line of fire, or flying elbows again. Thing is, you don't settle at the first sign of discourgement and decide that something lesser than what you want is what you are destined for. That's bullshit.

And yes if time goes on and it's discourgement after discorgement and you keep going back to the same well, that borders on some sort of neurosis perhaps. Some sort of naivite, lunacy, or just simply delusion. Ya know what though, fuck it. Some things are just worth it. And sometimes the fool with hope is the happiest guy in the room.

So, in this time when I see friends getting married and I see friends with their children, I am happy as hell for them. Cause I know that this is what they wanted all along. And I know that they have not settled. And some have admitted that sometimes it wasn't always as easy as it appeared, but they got through it. And now, on the other side they are happy as can be. And when I see them, I don't think to myself, I want that life that they have in terms of a married life or a family life. I think instead of I want what will make me most happy, and not settle for anything less than that. And, that likely will come at some cost, but in no way should that be a detterent.

This makes even less sense than the amateur film criticism and less than expert World Cup analysis. Less personal musings tomorrow.

Go USA. Start Conrad. Start O'Brien. Win the damn game. You have two more days to figure out how.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Thursday Matters...

I guess this is all we could realistically ask for. Coming into yesterdays US game I just wanted Thursday to matter. I had taken off the Thursday long ago in anticipation of it being the decisive day in order for the US team to make the second round. (Not to mention the Croatian team later that same day, but more on that later.) In order for Thursday to matter the US had to do play entirely different than they did against the Czech Republic. That had to actually play with heart and with pride. And they did.

In the first 15 minutes I actually found my mind wandering to thoughts of what would happen if this team actually showed up against the Czech's. For a few moments. Then I remembered all focus should be on if tehy could continue against Italy.

Then the US goes a goal down. But unlike before, within 45 seconds of the restart they are back in the Italian end of the field, attempting to create an equalizer. The equalizer came 5 minutes later. An own goal but we will take it.

Then all hell breaks loose. The referee was shambolic at best, at worst an outright disgrace. So it goes. I'm not gonna blame a draw or any result of any game on a referee. In soccer you have 90 minutes, and countless chances to make things happen. The US played a man down the entire second half after two extremely questionable calls. They could have folded their tents, but they didn't.

This team seems to thrive on an underdog role. As I mentioned before they don't play better when expectations are actually there. And yesterday, 9 against 10 for the last 45 minutes, the whole world had to expect Italy to score. Truthfully, I expected them to hold Italy to a draw and maybe even score. The team adopted the us vs the world attitude and came out with a draw. They played with heart, with guts, and yes even skillfully to hold the Italians to the draw.

It's okay to have mixed emotions I really wanted that win. Badly. And it can be argued that the USA team outplayed the Italians. I would be one to make that argument, even. So yes, 3 points would have been much better. So yeah dissappointment is there to an extent. But, once I step back and look at the larger picture, pride takes over. I am just damn proud of the way the guys played, and I'll step into hyperbole for a moment and say every American should be proud of the way they played.

I should also mention. It was fantastic atmospere down at Radio Radio and if you have not been down there yet for a game, get your ass down there Thursday. It's great to see, in Indy, 60-70 people maybe more cheering on the US team in one place. It's really quite a sight and that coupled with the result can't help but make me smile as a fan. Also, thanks to Jim and Mike and Gina for the beers and company.

It was a good day to be a fan, but hopefully Thursday is better. Find a way to beat Ghana and hope like hell that the Italy beats the Czechs.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Redemption Day....

Let's do this shit.

6 Points, starting today.

Play with pride boys.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Today's theme - Comedy or Tragedy

So I just got a visit from my supervisor. It turns out that I will be visiting Charelston, SC for a few days in July. Not bad, right. I've heard great things about the town, save the humidity, etc. It's near the water. It will be a nice change of pace.

So here is the thing. I will be flown out on the 9th. July 9th. As of right now, I will be in the air during the World Cup Final.

This is a true story.

Comedy or tragedy?

I am working desperately to alter my flight time.

Stay tuned.

EDIT: And now it's looking more than likely I will miss the US/Italy game tomorrow because of work. Damn it, I hate my job.

A Woman is a Woman, d. Godard

I needed to take some time away from thinking about the World Cup yesterday. Que Cera cera. Or something. So, courtesy of Netflix I popped in A Woman is A Woman. I had alerady fully expected to enjopy this movie since it has my girlfriend Anna Karina in a staring role, and since I have yet to see any Godard films that I haven't enjoyed. And, unsuprisingly it lived up to my expectations.

It's a simple plot. Angela (Karina) is involved with Emile (Jean-Claude Brialy) and wants a child. Emile however is not yet ready to do that. He then decides to call their friend Alfred (the incredible Jean-Paul Belmando) to see if he would sleep with her to get her pregnant. As we are told by narartion in words across the screen, "It is precisely because Emile and Angela love eachother, that everything will go wrong." So again, as was said by Godard's cinematographer Coutard a Godard film is about "the impossibilty of relationships or death."

But really, it's a comedy. It's an homage to musicals. Swelling bits of music at times overpower the dialogue. The chatracters make references to musicals. They act out numbers. They pose. They bow to the audience. They talk to the camera. It is insanely self concious. It is gloriously fun. It is joyful as hell. Micheal Legrand does the music, as he did in Band of Outsiders so you know that's covered well.

I can't imagine having seen this when it actually came out. It was Godard's third film. It's the first shot in color. It references other films including Breathless and two Truffaut films Jules and Jim and Shoot the Piano Player. At one point Belmando smiles to the camera mentioning his new friend Burt Lancaster. It's a film made by a filmaker and some actors who known they have made the big time, and can do more or less whatever they want. And they do, and thats what makes it a joy.

But beneath all that playfuillness is the actual story of the love triangle. Alfred has already told Angela he loves her. Numerous times. Much like Belmando's character in Breathless he oozes cool and insecurity. How do they pull that off? So when, Angela makes her decision, you have Emile wonder aloud to the camera whether this is "comedy or tragedy." It a total Godard moment, and it fits in with the rest of the film perfectly. As I am writing about it, I am realizing I liked it even more than I initially thought.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Film Quick Hits

I've watched two notable fims in the past week in between World Cup action. And as a friend pointed out they were fittingly about a disapearing act, and living in the shadow of a 4ish year old memory. Ugh. C'mon USA.

It's easy to see why Michealangelo Antonioni's L'Avventura was booed by audiences at the 1960 Cannes Film Festival but at the same time, rewarded by critics with the Golden Palm for "creating a new film language, and the honesty of the pictures." The story focuses around the disapearance of a beautiful young woman as she and her friends go to on an island cruise. Immediately after her disappearnce her lover and her best friend seach for her and within days begin an affair. The characters in this film seem entirely stunted in dealing with real human emotions. They are obviously wealthy beyond belief and have everything they could wish for. Yet they are seemingly unable to connect in any real way with eachother. We aren't told of their inability to connect directly but by the way Antonioni frames them against lanscapes and architecture. The first hour of this film is amongst set primarily on an island after the disapearance is some of the most beautiful filmaking I have seen. The buzzword around the characters in most reviews seems to be malaise. Couple that with the pace of the movie and I could see why some audiences hated it. But, as for me, I found myself empathizing with characters I would normally not feel anything for, and just being struck by the overall beauty of the film.

Wong Kar-Wai's 2046 is a bit of an indirect sequel to In the Mood for Love. 2046 can stand well on its own, I think as a stylistic piece, but I can't imagine it would actually hold up as more than that without some of the background set forth in In the Mood for Love. We meet Chow again, the protaginist from In The Mood for Love around four years later. He is a completely different man from when we last saw him. Now he is almost entirely a womanizer, and seemingly insincere as well, which is a bit of a shock if you cared for him in the first film. Set between 1964-1968 primarily 2046 goes back and forth between the past, 1960's present, and then a futuristic science fiction novel. Yeah. It takes some patience to get through, and someone more eloquent than me to explain the plot. What ties it all together is, in my opinion, the ending of In the Mood for Love though. In seeing that, we then can attempt to makes more sense of Chow's actions. Wong Kar-Wai of course remains a master of mood in this film. The color and lighting are phenomenal. I definitely reccomend viewing it on a high quality large screen. And then maybe you can discuss with me what I just saw, as I am still processing it. I probably will be for a while actually.

Here is to hoping that the USA and Croatia can actually score a goal and maybe even win a game this World Cup and maybe then, just maybe, I will watch some more uplifting films.

World Cup Quick Hits... We're #31!!!! Woooooo!

Yesterday was an intersting day of World Cup games....

Thank you Spain!!!! After a 4-0 win over the Ukraine, the Ukraine has Zero points and a worst goal differential than us! Phenomenal! We're number 31 of 32! You rule Spain! USA! USA! U!S!A!

An overlooked rule of viewing the World Cup....always tape the matches between minnows. Yesterday, Tunisua played Saudi Arabia. Not supposed to be so interesting right? Except it was a 2-2 draw. Two goals in the final 10 minutes. Tears of joy for the Saudi's followed by shock as Tunisia tied it up in injury time. Great stuff. Both these teams were looking at their best chance for a win and played an extremely exciting game. And, really, it was infinitely more exciting than the England snorefest last week, despite all the hype surrounding that team.

Germany. Wow and congrats. Poland, thanks for coming. That game was gonna be filled with emotion and passion, yet I thought Germany would run away with it. Poland looked awful vs Ecuador, but brought up every bit of pride they had left and gave Germany a run for their money. Yet in injury time, Germany scores. 1-0 Germany. I normally pull for the underdog, but I really have no love for Poland. There is some German blood in me, and I really just wanted to see the stadium erupt after a goal. And boy did they. Well done, Germans.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A thank you letter

Dear Croatia,
Coming into yesterdays World Cup matches I was in a solemn mood. The United States team played with no passion whatsoever, and I wondered why I cared about this tournament in the first place. Still, I made my way down to Radio Radio to watch you take on Brazil. I wore my Croatia tshirt and my Croatia scarf from France 98. In the beginning, I was the only Croatia fan there. Everyone was ready to see Brazil, and ready for all the hype. In pregame we heard about their fans, their star players, and throughout the game announcers kept telling us we were watching Brazil, with nary a mention of the 11 representing Croatia.

At the half you were down 1-0. A great goal from Kaka. You didn't put your heads down. As the second half wore on, something unexpected was happening. You were controlling the play. You had your chances. The crowd at Radio Radio started suddenly having people switch allegiance to Croatia, and rightfully so. You were the better team. But unfortunately you didn't score. The game ended 1-0 to Brazil. Yet in defeat, you outplayed Brazil on the field, and you out sang and danced them in the stands. You deserve to hold your heads high and proud. When nobody gave you a chance, and still few will even admit those truths. Thank you for reminding me why I love this tournament in the first place. Now let's work on some finishing and get through to the second round.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Morning After

No pictures today just text. This blog is so beautiful.

I am still trying to process yesterday's game. Luckily, I had an 8 hour shift at Barnes and Noble starting at 3pm yesterday, so I had plenty of time to process. And by luckily, I of course mean miserably.

4 years of build up for that. It's like Jim mentioned. I can handle losing, just not like that. Of all the teams to step on the field so far in Germany maybe only Poland looked worse. And that's wholly optimistic.

Onto some players...I am pretty sure DeMarcus Beasley is a media creation. He had 45 great minutes vs Portugal, and had some goals here and there since. But, has he really brought more to this team over the past 5-6 years than say Eddie Lewis? Not really. He's been benched at PSV, looked awful in the tuneups, and yesterday he was by far the worst player on the field. Bruce Arena called him out after the game. The same Bruce Arena who states that current form is so important in how he makes his team. So why leave him in for 90, Bruce? He needs to shoulder some blame as well.

Donovan - invisble.

McBride, set up to fail in a 4-5-1.

Keller, on an island.

Gooch - stock falling.

The left side of Convey and Lewis, defenseless.

We were told over and over that this is the best team the US has assembled for a World Cup, and I remained a bit skeptical. The worth of guys like Earnie Stewart, Cobi Jones, and Joe-Max Moore goes beyond the scoresheet. We don't have guys like that right now. McBride and Reyna aren't those guys, and Donovan isn't ready to be yet either.

It really seems that by and large this is a team, that when they believe their own hype gets into trouble. They were hailed going into Poland in '02 and fell flat. Azteca in qualifying, we were told they could finally win their, and tehy told us they could too, and they fell flat. And now after all the hype, the deepest team in US WC history falls flat.

I am used to this though, I am a Philly fan. On Rocisky's third goal I could have swore I saw Joe Jurevicius running down the sidelines too for teh Tampa Bay Bucs with Blaine Bishop futily chasing him down in the last game at the Vet. It was the same feeling. Awful.

But, you know what...After a dreadful performance against Poland in 02 the team beat Mexico. After a dreadful performance at Azteca, this team bounced back and won their qualifying group. So, though the odds look stacked against us, and Italy looks rather good, I will be at radio radio again Saturday. I will be wearing my American flag. I will be waiting to see the bounceback. I can't turn away just yet. I just don't know any other way to do this.

Monday, June 12, 2006

I Love Sports.

The only way that game is more disapointing is if it was against Mexico.

Sleeplessness and the death of innocence, another World Cup Post

It's a little after 1:15 am as I start writing this. If form holds true to from about Friday on, I will try to get to bed in the next hour and toss and turn until about 330 or 4 am. I will of course primarily be thinking of the fate of the US World Cup team, which I guess is better than recurring dreams of loss and abandonment, right?

All day today I thought about the game, save for two hours when I watched a movie to try to get my mind away from soccer for a moment. I was down at Radio Radio at 9am to watch the Holland game. My mind kept drifting to the USA.

After I got home from watching a movie at a friends house tonight I actually popped in the behind the scenes and highlight video of the 2002 US World Cup team, Our Way. I still was letting out loud cheers, sighs, and virtually everything else one could think of. Watching highlights of games from 4 years ago. Highlights that I have seen more that 100 times, and they still had me on the edge of my seat. Just to make sure, even though it happened this way 4 years ago, I needed to make sure it happened the same tonight.

After the US scored their second goal against Portugal in 2002, Jack Edwards shouted, "Shock the World!!!!!!!" I said to my roomate that we would never hear a call like that again. That after the 2002 World Cup we have expectations for this team that didn't exist before. My roomate referred to it as a "loss of innocence." That's a double edged sword really isn't it?

In 2002, I saw enough of the team to claim that they could beat Portugal. I think I actually predicted a tie, that game. I thought they were good enough to get out of the group. And they did. But collectively, across the country and really the world the feeling was they were not good enough. That feeling was so prevalent that it made the US win over Portugal truly a shock, especially the manner in which it happened. As the goals were going in, even the largest optimist around could not hide shock and glee. Maybe you tried to convince ourself they could beat Portugal, Mexico, and Germany. But when these games were happening, you didn't need convincing, you saw proof right in front of your eyes. It was actually happening. It was still a shock. There was no way around it.

Fast forward 4 years, and you watch those games and they feel like yesterday. You remember all the moments. You know what happened. You can't erase it. You go into this 2006 World Cup with heightened expectations. If the US goes up 2-0 on the Czechs in a few hours there will be no unrestrained "Shock the World," yelp. This is a team that everyone really truly believes is good enough to get to round two. These games have much more at stake now. In 2002, had we lost to Portugal it would have been expected and nothing would have been thought of it, it's a team that should beat us. In 2006, if we lose to the Czech Republic, even though convential wisdom says its a team that should beat us, if we lose it's to a team we could have beat. And thats true. And thats fair. But there is a loss of innocence here as a fan now thanks to heightened expectations.

And I will miss the days when anytime the US beat a European team it was a shock. I will miss them dearly. Beating Portugal was pure delerium. Nothing short of beating Brazil would really match that this time around. (Actually beating Mexico again would, but thats just a hatred rivalry thing. The whole world including Mexico already knows the US is better.) beating the Czech Republic would be nice, but it won't set off celebrations in nearly the same way, instead it just will make us look towards Italy with three points as opposed to one or zero.

But you know what, though I miss that potential for delerium. I am happier that the team is here. This is not yet a nation that can expect to win World Cup's. First it's gotta be a nation that can expect to get out of the group. And by and large, if you talk to 100 devoted US fans, a vast majority expect them to make it out of this group. And they aren't afraid of what those expectations mean. And really, that's just another step. And if that means a little less sleep, I can deal with that.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

World Cup Day 1 Reflections...

For better or worse, this blog will deal almost exclusively with soccer of the next month. Can ya dig it? Fantastico.

First off, Radio Radio is gonna be a fantastic place to watch the games. They got some couches set up. The TV's are coming in fantastic in hi-def. Tufty and Roni are more than happy to be there, (at least on day 1 of 30 some)and the beer is great. Smaller crowds yesterday, but I can imagine as I am stuck at work today the crowds will be larger for England and Monday's US match will bring a great crowd.

I will be at the Monday match, I will be wearing my USA flag like a cape. I hope to see some people there.

Somehow I got interviewed by the Indianapolis Star. I really am interested to see what I had to say.

Germany looked much better than I anticipated. I have no idea how Klose continually scores goals in the World Cup. You don't exactly think of him as a top 10 striker in the world, yet every time that he puts on a Germany jersey he scores goals it seems.

Costa Rica is done. Finished. They looked awful really, they made it interesting for a few moments, I guess. But after seeing Ecuador beat Poland, it looks like my prediction of Ecuador being the second team through from that group will be correct.

Speaking of Poland, that is a team in shambles. When you really don't create a decent scoring opportunity till the 85th minute, in what is virtually a home game for you, against a very suspect Ecuador team, well you're done. They are worst than Costa Rica. They may be the worst team in the tournament.

That said, they beat Croatia last week, so that doesn't bode well for Croatia does it.

Soccer fans are an intersting lot aren't they? They almost seem to do misery better than joy. Take the love hate relationship with the star players on any team. Look at Michael Davies stuff on ESPN. He says about Costa Rica fans attitude before the game, "The Costa Ricans I met weren't much better. Very glum about their star player, Paolo Wanchope. Apparently, he's crap. Of course Wanchope scored two goals. Of course on one he was on the wrong side of the prime meridian and clearly offside, but it made the game interesting, so....

And let me say, I find this hilarious because I have done the same. I do it with Crew players all the time, and any Philadelphia sports icon. But here is the thing, I can say they are crap if I want, cause I support the team. But the minute some talking head or opposing fans says they are crap, I will defend them, cause they may be crap, but they are my crap. And frankly my crap is better than yours, so you have no right to judge.

Another moment of misery for fans...the commentators. Honestly, if you are so focused on Dave O'Brien, Marcello Balboa, or Julie Foudy, I think your focus may be in the wrong place. Get out, go to a bar, chat with friends suring the game, drown out the announcers. Whatever. There is no other sport that I think we complain so much about the announcers.

Personally I think O'Brien is doing a fine job. But I loved Jack Edwards too. And Foudy, I am discussing the game with friends during the half so I miss what she says. That said, it's gotta be better than Wynalda.

Last night on the way home from work, I decided that now that they have 2 albums under their belt Asobi Seksu are in the running for greatest active American band with Sleater-Kinney and a handful of others. And I thought it would be neat if they recorded a US World Cup anthem. Or even a Japanese one. I'd listen to that and love it. And then I realized that somehow that U2 song from all the ESPN commercials (City of Blinding Lights?) has been stuck in my head the whole damn day. And I realized for better or worse, that will always be linked in my head with this World Cup, and almost an unofficial anthem of it. I haven't liked much U2 at all since Pop. But it's hard not to get pumped up when that song comes on, mixed with highlights of the days action.

Is there a worse place to be today than at work, missing all the games?

Is it wring to already be losing sleep over the US game on Monday? I was tossing and turning past 3 am last night. Ridiculous.

Predictions for games I won't see today, until I get home and see 'em on tape. England draws Paraguay. Sweeden 75-Trindad nil, Tobago 1. And I am suddenly feeling more love for those cheating Argentine's. Argentina 3-2 over Ivory Coast.

William Hill betting srvice has 2-1 odds that I will fall apart and check the scores of the games I am taping within the first 25 minutes. Get while the getting is good.

And merry Christmas....

Friday, June 09, 2006

Happy World Cup Day

There really isn't much to be said that hasn't already been said elsewhere is there? No there isn't but I am too giddy not tob type.

The bottom line is this, the World Cup starts today.

For a month, the most exciting sporting event in the world will have nearly all my attention.

Come Monday morning, I throw aside my hatred for players like Ben Olsen, Eddie Johnson and DeMarcus Beasley and cheer them on as if they were childhood best friends of mine. They wear the Red, White, and Blue now. I can cheer them on one month out of every four years, without a problem.

I will wear my time tested, true, and stained Brian McBride jersey. It worked in 2002. McBride represnts the bridge from club to national team for me, and beyond that has played with more class and heart than anyone I have seen in our National team jerseys.

Should any of our players stumble, the first reaction will not be to turn my back in frustration or disgust, but to scream at the tv loud enough so that they can hear me in Germany, words of encourgement and belief.

When I see American flags hanging from windows, or off of cars, I will not think of our nations sometimes misguided foreign policy, I will simply assume the best, and figure these people two are supporting our 23 in Germany. This, contrary to impression, is not delusional.

I shall hearby swear off Czech cusine on monday, Italian on Saturday, and Ghanian the following thursday. I will make the best damn red white and blue vegan meals this side of the Chicago Diner on Halsted.

I will drink fine American beers in celebration, such as Miller High Life or Pabst Blue Ribbon.

I will eat rocket pop popsicles. Just because they are Red, White, and Blue.

Should I attempt to die my heair red in hysteria after a US World Cup win this time like in 2002, I will ask for help so that more than my neck and forehead actually turn red.

I will support any team that plays Mexico. For instance, Sunday, I wish to make myself an honorable Iranian citizen.

I will support teams in which close friends have enormous ties to because of place of birth. This will be a problem when Germany plays Costa Rica today, but I will enjoy it nonetheless.

I will root like hell for Croatia and the Dutch, so long as it doesn't interfere with US glory.

I will make bold proclimations and actually believe them, I will start now...

The United States will win two in group play and tie one. They will finish second the Czechs only on goal differential. They will make us proud as hell. Bruce Arena will continue to amaze, and achieve soccer god status. I will bite all my nails off regardless.

Should the world reverse its rotation on its axis (which may be the only thing Bruce does not have these guys prepared for) and they somehow lose, or the ghost of Torsten Frings handballs one off the line and the ref doesn't see it. Our boys will still play their hearts out and make us proud. That I can guarantee.

I can't wait...

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Film quick hits...

Ove the weekend and earlier this week I watched a few movies. I wonder, now, with the World Cup starting up, if my bouts with insomnia will be entertained by taped World Cup games, or if I will still be up till 3am watching movies. I also wonder if I could misuse more commas in a single sentance. The post is young, I guess.

We'll start off with Jean-Luc Godard's Alphaville. Now this film was different. A science fiction film with no special effects whatsoever. Shot entirely in 1960's Paris, and entirely in black and white. At no point did it really seem campy to me though. There was a futuristic feeling to the whole ordeal. My crush on Anna Karina escalated even more as she was phenomenal here. Like nearly all Godard films this was very lyrical. There were a more than a few extended moments of dialogue that I wanted to memorize should I ever fall in love again. And yes, love, or the impossibility of love, is the theme in this postmodern society. Highly reccomended.

Badlands. I wish I didn't like this movie as much as I did. I don't really think I want find movies about a guy who goes on a killing spree, on the run from the law, with his girlfriend (?) in tow to be a movie that I am so intrigued by. Yet, I found this movie entirely hyptnotic. Ther is no real lesson here. It's just a story of youth gone wrong, or wild (Skid Row rules!). But through voiceover nararation by Sissy Spacek, and throuh wonderful direction by Terrance Malick, it somehow becomes a wonderful and magificent film. Why do I feel for Martin Sheen's character? Why do I empathize with him in a way? If anyone has any ideas, let me know.

Crimes and Misdemeanors may be my favorite Woody Allen film. A while back I talked about my dilema after viewing Match Point. It seems to me that Crimes and Misdemeanors deals broadly with the same sorts of issues, byut from a far less cynical standpoint. I don't only say this because of the abundance of humour that is found in Crimes and Misdemeanors, as opposed to the total lack in Match Point, though that is true. I say it because in the characters in Crimes and Misdemeanors you see them struggling through their problems in a more human way. They don't seem entirely detached from their actions. They contemplate not only the natural consequences of their actions, but the longer lasting spritual and human consequences of their actions. This begs to be talked about with a friend afterwards, luckily I have a few that have seen it.

When I first watched White I thought it was by far the weakest of Kieslowski's Three Colors trilogy. On first viewing it didn't have beauty of Blue or pack the emotional wallop of Red. Only upon repeated viewings have I come to appreciate this film nearly as much as it might deserve. It's a bit of a dark comedy, wrapped in a bit of a love story, wrapped in the larger whole of the Three Colors. White is meant to represent equality in the French flag, and as Karol tries to re-start his life in Poland after his wife divorces him, Kieslowski puts forth the questions of how equality can really exist in love? There are larger themes covered here as well, but like Blue and Red when we look at Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity in Kieslowski's trilogy it is never in the political realm, it is always in the relational realm. There isn't another filmaker who could have possibly made this trilogy or this film in particular.

The New Order Story DVD is like all music documentaries, overly long, pretentious, and insufferable. However, it is about the greatest band in the world through their Repuplic album period. So it's watchable. But even as a huge New Order fan I cringed a few times. But when you are New Order, or related to New Order, you are okay with me.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

World Cup Predictions...

In the time when I could have been more prductive doing just about anything over the weekend, I instead filled out my World Cup Brackets and suprised even myself, so here we go....

Group A
Germany 9
Ecuador 4
Costa Rica 2
Poland 1

Group B
Sweeden 9
England 6
Paraguay 3
T & T 0

Group C
Netherlands 5
Serbs 4
Argentina 3
Ivory Coast 2

Group D
Portugal 7
Iran 7
Mexico 3
Angola 0

Group E
Czechs 7
Italy 3
Ghana 1

Group F
Brazil 7
Croatia 5
Austrailia 3
Japan 0

Group G
France 7
Togo 5
South Korea 4
Swiss 0

Group H
Ukraine 5
Spain 5
Tunisua 3
Saudi Arabia 0

Round of 16...

Germany over England
Netherlands over Iran
Sweeden over Ecuador
Serbs over Portugal
Croatia over Czechs
France over Spain
Brazil over US
Ukraine over Togo

In the quarters...
Netherlands over Germany
Sweeden over Serbs
France over Croatia
Brazil over the Ukraine

In the semis...
France over Netherlands
Brazil over Sweden

And somehow, in the final...
France over Brazil

I am as suprised as you are.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The new sound of summer....

In the abscence of a new New Order album I have been in desperate search for that summer album. That album that you just have the windows down in your car and play loudly as you are going through downtown. Some of my favorite bands have returned with new albums, but for instance Pearl Jam just doesn't scream summer. Asobi Seksu's Citrus was definitely a frontrunner and will likely remain in very heavy rotation. But the gem of the bunch to date must be the new album from Mojave 3. (but a little work on the website, c'mon guys.)

Mojave 3 has been around for a while. They have had their good albums. Out of Tune was phenomenal. Excuses for Travelers and Spoon and Rafter both had their moments, but weren't nearly as consistent as Out of Tune and worse yet, they just were boring in places. Then, suddenly comes the new one Puzzles Like You. Right away it get's off with what for Mojave 3 is a pretty rocking song. Jangly guitars louder vocals than normal. There still are moments of pedal steel on the album and still 2-3 ballads that recall some of the more beautiful moments on Excuses for Travellers. But what you are really getting here is a bucketload of jangly guitars, handclaps, some theramin and typical Neil Halstead lyrics. "Everyone I have loved has been some sort of fuck up." or "Jenny, I've been thinking things over, I know thinking never got me far. The bottle gets me further. Some come stand a little closer, now. We'll try breaking the ice again." (I apologize for the overwhelming depth of those lyrics. I'll try to keep things less serious in the upcoming days.) But, with the music these lyrics work perfectly. And more Rachel on backing vocals? Yes? Alright, phenomenal.

I haven't been this overwhelmed and suprised by an album in a long time. My only complaint is it's too short (41 minutes) so I feel sorta goofy when I listen to it 4 times in a row. But that's okay. It's summer, and I deserve to be happy.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Simply Fantastic

I was quite pissed off after the Crew loss to DC earlier in the week. You might remember, my rant. However, I was extremely thankful that the Crew had another game in short order. I thought it would show us a great deal about this team. They had easily their worst performance under Sigi Schmid and had to travel to Dallas to play the Western Conference leaders. If ever a test of character was to come for this team it was this game. And holy shit, did they ever respond.

The Crew played what may have been their best game of the season. The 2-1 victory has virtually erased the DC debacle from memory, proving that it was an aberation for the team. I wish I taped the game. I wish I was watching it again right now. The defense was spectacular all night. Chad Marshall and Marcos Gonzalez were simply incedible. Six string keeper Noah Palmer was fantastic. Richie Kotschau looked like Ronaldhino on his goal. Jacob Thomas struck a free kick as good as any you will ever see, and Leo Bisaku nodded in the rebound. Did you know that Bisaku is Croatian for sensation? You do now. Grabavoy, Reitz, Gaven fantastic. Jason Garey? The kid is gonna be a beloved star in Columbus for many years. He gets what it means to put on the black and gold and represent Columbus.

Honestly, this is the type of game that makes you believe your team has a chance at winning the whole thing. They were that good. What is most encourging is the way they bounced back from the DC loss. They have 4 goalkeepers injured. They just gave up 5 goals in DC. They are playing their second game in the heat on the road in 4 days. They could have packed it in and felt sorry for themselves. Under a different coach that may have happened. But Sigi is building something very special with this team. They are 4-4-2 now. With all these injuries. With only 4 players remaining from last years team. This team hasn't even got it all together yet. Watching them come together is going to be very exciting. This is probably the most exciting season as a Crew fan I have ever had. You know that their is a plan. You know you have the best coach in MLS. And you look around at your team, at all the young talent, and you realize these guys are learning on the job. It's only gonna get better.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Less than a week away...

As I get ready to watch the Crew's 8th string goalkeeper try to get a point for us on the road tonight in Dallas, I also am really starting to get excited about the World Cup. So excited, that I even put up a picture for the ladies. Look at Brian McBride, girls! I have scheduled off time for each US and Croatia game and already have invites to more than a few watch parties, not to mention the exdcitement that will be watching games down at Radio Radio

At any rate the real reason for this post is that over at Extrawack BigSoccer's nusical tastemaker, Bob has a very nice selection of World Cup music and Music videos for your consumption. Including the instantly catchy ode to Kasey Keller by Barcelona (holla!) and the worlds finest band, New Order, doing their thing for England.


Friday, June 02, 2006

Over the Rhine and Hem, Bloomington 6/1

Last night I had the opportunity to see Over the Rhine and Hem in Bloomington. Now I have seen Over the Rhine maybe 7 or 8 times before so I knew what to expect, but I had no idea what to expect out of Hem, even though their album Eveningland has been in very heavy rotation for me for about a year.

Hem took the stage first at Bushkirk Chumley Theater and played for over an hour. Six members of the band were on stage and you had at any time you had piano, glockenspiel, upright bass, harmonica, tambourine, banjo, guitar, and vocals. The band was all seated except for the singer. They mixed it up from their three albums and even played a new tune from an album due out in Spetember. I was amazed by how tight the band sounded. I figured that their might be some letdown in their live sound from their studio records but they were sensational. The highlights for me all came from Eveningland, but when they encored with REM's "South Central Rain" that also ranked pretty high on the list.

Over The Rhine soon followed and also played for an hour and a half in what was billed as a double headlining tour. I haven't seen Over The Rhine in 18 months, but they were just as good as I remembered. I was with a few people whom have never seen them live before, and for some reason that made me really nervous. I really wanted them to like it, Over the Rhine seems to me to be so musically and lyrically accessible that each person can find something to at least appreciate in their songs. I was suprised to hear so many new songs. But with a 4 piece band up there they mixed it up quite a bit, though never going back fuurther than anything off of Good Dog, Bad Dog which was clearly a turning point in their career. Karin sounded fanastic on vocals and had some good banter back and forth. Indianapolis native devon Ashley was fantastic on drums and a new guitarist was simple and understated in his stage prescence which was a welcome change from past OTR guitarists. Highlights for me from OTR's set all came from Drunkard's Prayer since I had not heard any of that live before. To be honest I could take or leave the new stuff from the upcoming album.

The venue ws perfect and both bands performed really well in front of a very appreciative crowd. Suprisingly, I may have even enjoyed Hem's set more that Over The Rhine's. But I think that speaks more to familiarity with seeing Over the Rhine so often and seeing Hem's songs live for the first time.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

I'm in a foul mood.

Last night was the first Crew game that I got to watch in 6 weeks. It was against the most disgusting cheating, hacking, and diving franchise in all of MLS's history. We lost 5-1. 5 fuckin 1. So much for the three game unbeaten streak. And though we lost 5-1, I can still take comfort in the fact that DC Coach Peter Nowak is a closet racist. Actually I guess there really is nothing comforting in that. Just the hopes that one day, hopefully good will prevail over evil. One day. Like the next time Columbus plays those assholes.

The Crew has huge problems right now. They have 4 goalkeepers injured. 4. Most MLS teams don't carry more than 3, but the Crew? They have 4 on the injury list. Fantastic. Somehow through all that they went into halftime last night tied 1-1 and were actually playing decent soccer. They gave up a PK early after Eskandarian flailed around in the box like a fish out of water. And then Jamie Moreno scored his 100th MLS goal. Aproximately 99.9 of those have come from the penalty spot. Way to pad the stat sheet Jamie. Soon after though Columbus scored a much more beautiful goal through new aquisition Joseph Ngwenya off a lovely ball from Sebastian Rozental who seemed to be the only player who played the full 90 with passion for Columbus.

In the second half the wheels came off for stand in keeper Dan Popik and the whole team. It's not entirely Popik's fault, but he can't be absolved of blame either. To absolve a keeper of blame after letting in 5 goals, just to make a point about the rest of the team is also missing the point that yes, we actually do need a keeper back there.

The bottom line is this. By midway through the second half Popik didn't believe in his defense. With good reason. They didn't really give him much to believe in. And the defense sure as hell didn't believe in Popik either. And they just quit. And it's embarassing, and it says a lot about the character of some guys on the team.

Like it or not if we bench Ezra and Lietch, we still got a enormous problem between the pipes. We need to somehow find a goalkeeper that wants to be here, that is hungry and that has something to prove. We need to find one that is able to inspire a defense, and also one that the defense believes in as well. Down 4-1 they turned around and saw a guy that didn't belong there. He doesn't. Period. And neither his performance or that of the defense cancels eachother out. We need a keeper who can put on a Crew jersey and know that it means something. We need a keeper who knows that he is more than just a stopgap, for his sake and for the sake of the whole team.

Before last night, the most saves Popik had in the past two years was double coupon day at Walmart. You can't win in MLS with that. It's not 1996 anymore.

The Crew is a good enough team to play with the best in this league. They showed that in the first half, and they showed it over the past month. But until they address the glaring whole in goal, it's just not gonna happen.

(thanks to the fine frustrated Crew fans at BigSoccer for the images.)