Sat, Sep 30, 2000

: Olympic Men: Spain vs. Cameroon (Gold Medal Match)

Incredible game, one of the best ever. Cameroon came in as the underdog to skillful Spain (the best team in the tournament, IMNSHO), and proved it quickly by giving up a free kick just outside the box less than two minutes in. Spain scored, and then just a minute later, were awarded a penalty kick on Jose Marie’s take down in the box. But Cameroon’s terrific 16-year-old keeper stopped the shot! Spain finally got another goal seconds before the half and went into the locker room safely up 2-0. But African teams are exciting to watch because they are so unpredictable, and a different Cameroon team came out. Within seconds they’d had a shot on goal, and push after push soon brought them their first goal (a lucky deflection off a Spanish player). More perseverance brought them a second, tying the score. Then Spain’s Gabri was red-carded for a bad foul and had to play with 10 men. Everything was going Cameroon’s way. With just seconds left in the game, Spain’s best player, Jose Marie, fell down in the box in an obvious dive and received his second yellow to be kicked out of the game! We go into overtime with Cameroon up two men (an odd coincidence, since Cameroon beat Brazil in overtime while down to nine men themselves).

In the first 10 minutes of overtime Cameroon put an incredible 5 or 6 point-blank shots on goal, only to by stopped by Spain’s quick keeper. Amazing turnaround for a game that started with Spain as the heavy favorite. But Spain played overtime intelligently — wasting time and slowing things down. Cameroon’s 120th minute goal should have counted, but a blind linesman called it offside and so it didn’t count. Spain got what they wanted: for the first time, an Olympic gold medal match would be decided by penalty kicks. Like most, I’d have given the edge to Spain on PKs, but Cameroon kicked coolly and calmly like pros. When Spain’s third kicker missed, it was all in Cameroon’s lap, and Wome’s finish put it beyond doubt: Cameroon beats Spain on PKs, 5-4, and wins the gold medal! It’s Cameroon’s first Olympic gold medal.

Topic: [/soccer]

Link

: EPL: Tottenham at Leeds

Terrific game! A slow first half put Spurs up by one on Rebrov’s goal, but spunky Leeds came out in the second half and in the span of one minute Australian Mark Viduka put in two goals! Then prodigy Alan Smith put in two, followed by Rebrov’s second. The last ten minutes were especially hairy for Leeds as they fought to maintain a 4-3 lead, but they did it. What a game with six goals in second half!

Topic: [/soccer]

Link

: Fight Club

Like most people, I had the impression this was a story about an underground fight club. I’d put off renting a number of times, simply because I wasn’t sure I wanted to see that, though I’d heard it was a good film. Surprisingly, it’s barely about fighting at all. I mean, yes, there’s fighting and lots of blood, but the film is really about existential angst. The main character (the narrator, played by Edward Norton), is caught in the rat race and hates it, and then he meets a guy named Tyler who’s everything he’s not. Tyler’s an anarchist, preaching against the ownership of anything, the kind of guy who’d tell his boss to jump in a lake (or something like that ;-). Together they form something called Fight Club: a secret club where ordinary people can bash each other’s brains out. There’s no money in it — it’s just for the experience, and the pain makes you feel alive. Good so far, right? But then, gradually, the story goes a different direction as Tyler forms his own army, Fight Clubs spring up all over the country, and soon Tyler is the head of a terrorist organization ready to spread anarchy across the country. The strange ending doesn’t take away the power of this film, but brings up more questions than it answers. A bit uneven, and the surprise “twist” isn’t that much a surprise, and though it makes sense, it feels gimmicky, like the movie-makers are toying with us. Fascinating, surprisingly deep. I’ll have to watch it again sometime to see what I really think — I wasn’t expecting anything intelligent and it caught me off guard.

Topic: [/movie]

Link

: MLS Playoff: Chicago at N.Y. (Game 2)

Losing the first game 3-0, New York was in a must-not-lose situation. For inspiration, they brought back injured All-Star keeper Mike Ammann, who’s been out with terrible injuries (broken ribs, punctured lung) since his August 16 collision with league-leading scorer Mamadou Diallo. Ammann was supposed to be out for the season, but he was ready to play. His teammates responded with a terrific goal by Mark Chung late in the first half. He got two chances: the first blast was blocked by his own teammate, but the rebound went right to his foot and he put it away with a second powerful blast. In the second half, things were tighter, and though New York poured it on initially, and Chicago came back with chances of their own, the two keepers kept the score the same. Finally, after missing or having his shots saved, “El Tran” Valencia was able to increase the Metrostars lead and finish off the Fire. Who goes to the MLS Cup final on Oct. 15 will therefore be decided in the third game next Friday in Chicago.

Topic: [/soccer]

Link

Fri, Sep 29, 2000

: Olympic Men: U.S.A. vs. Chile (Bronze Medal Match)

The U.S. actually played for maybe 20 minutes in this game, and they had Chile nervous. But the rest of the time they simply defended and passed the ball around until a bad pass gave the ball away. Danny Califf’s poor decision to tackle a Chilean player in the box gave away a penalty in the second half, and it was downhill from there. As often happens, a goal disheartens one team and enlivens the other, and with just minutes to go, Chile scored a second, and the American dream of a soccer medal was gone. A terrific tournament for the U.S.; fourth place is still fourth best, and on an international stage, playing the world’s game, that’s awesome. The U.S. just needs more experience. We played best when players like Josh Wolff or Connor Casey went one-on-one dribbling right through an opponent’s defense, but too many times they missed the final shot the work brought them. The players need to take a lot more shots. Shots build confidence and make the other team falter (even misses). The U.S. often just passed the ball around (or tried) in the other team’s penalty area. Shoot! That’s the secret to scoring.

Topic: [/soccer]

Link

: Greenwitch

Author: Susan Cooper

Book Three of the “Dark is Rising” sequence. This is the best so far. The first, Over Sea, Under Stone, was modern and practical, with minimal fantasy. The second, The Dark is Rising, is almost completely fantasy, abstract and mystical like a dream. This book joins the two, bringing the characters of each together, and completes the story of the first novel. Excellent, with the perfect mix of fantasy and reality, while presenting a unique and interesting adventure.

Topic: [/book]

Link

: MLS Playoff: L.A. at K.C. (Game 1)

Take two great goalkeepers, and teams with the best offenses and defenses in the league, and you’ve got a scoreless draw. But that doesn’t mean the game wasn’t interesting. It wasn’t great, but there were plenty of chances, and Hartman (L.A.) made eight saves. This draw means there will definitely be three games in the series; game two is in L.A. on Tuesday.

Topic: [/soccer]

Link

Thu, Sep 28, 2000

: UEFA Cup: R. Bucharest vs. Liverpool (2nd Leg)

One word: booooring. Zero-zero games can be so dull sometimes, especially when nothing else happens in the game. Liverpool goes through based on their weak 1-0 away victory, but without any momentum.

Topic: [/movie]

Link

: Olympic Women: U.S.A. vs. Norway (Gold Medal Match)

I sure hope you saw this match, because it was one of the best soccer games I’ve ever seen, men or women. Started off slow, with Norway sitting back and only attacking once in the first half. The U.S. totally dominated, though they only got one goal. Then on Norway’s one push, they scored to tie the game going into the half. In the second half it was all Norway, at least at first. They really began to play and had the U.S. on their heels. Finally the U.S. began to fight back and it looked good for the U.S., but then Norway got a bit lucky with a good bounce and scored to put the ahead — the U.S. was now down a goal for the first time in the entire tournament. The U.S. fought harder and harder, but time was running out. It looked like the gold medal was Norway’s for sure. Two minutes of stoppage time was added as regulation ran out, and the U.S. was desperate. They fought back for possession of the ball and made one last dramatic drive toward Norway’s goal. With less than 30 seconds left, a run up the right flank offered the opportunity for a last cross into the box. But the only was there was tiny Tiffeny Milbrett, a 5’1” mouse among the Norwegian trees. Somehow she skied about the others and got her head to the ball. With less than 15 seconds to go, the U.S. tied the game to send it into overtime!

Incredible, but sadly, that’s all the U.S. had left. A few more attempts in overtime, but then a missed clearance and Norway’s substitute with the fresh legs took advantage and drove the ball under the U.S. goalkeeper. Norway wins the gold medal, 3-2. An awesome game, valiantly fought on both sides, and the closeness of the battle just goes to show how little difference there is between gold and silver. The U.S. should have won based on their play, but that’s the irony of soccer: it’s not about who plays better, but who scores the most, and in this case, Norway came through while the United States missed chances, and that’s the way it ended.

Topic: [/soccer]

Link

: EPL: Manchester United vs. Chelsea

Poor Chelsea’s been struggling this season, while Man U’s been of their usual form. This first game with Chelsea’s new manager (a.k.a. coach here in the U.S.) was an extremely important game and Chelsea came out with all guns blazing. Paul Scholes scored United, then Haisslebank’s terrific blast from the outer corner of the box tied the score at one. United came back quickly with Sherringham’s goal, and then Beckham’s tap-in seemed to seal the deal for Manchester. Chelsea didn’t give up and a goal from Flo just before halftime meant they were only down by one going into the second half. The battle slowed a bit as defenses keep things clean, but a terrific cross by Graeme Lesaux gave the ball to Zola, who’s weak trap pushed it to a wide-open Flo who nailed it home. Final? A well-deserved 3-3 tie that doesn’t tarnish Man U’s unbeated streak but gives Chelsea a much needed boost.

Topic: [/soccer]

Link

Wed, Sep 27, 2000

: Scream 3

Excellent, hilarious, and a worthy conclusion to the horror parody series. It’s been a while since I’ve seen the first couple Screams, so I’m sure there was humor and references I missed, but this one was the best of the three (though the first had originality going for it). The plot uses one of my favorite tongue-in-cheek techniques of having a movie within a movie: the story of the murders in the original movie has been turned into a series of slasher films, and it is during the filming of Stab 3 that we find our heroes being threatened yet again. There are hilarious confrontations between the characters and the actors portraying them in the film, and jabs at Hollywood, the horror genre, and at the Scream franchise. A lot of fun.

Topic: [/movie]

Link

Tue, Sep 26, 2000

: Olympic Men: Chile vs. Cameroon

The winner of this game takes on Spain for the Gold, while the U.S. plays the loser for the Bronze. Chile totally dominated for 90% of the game, missing chance after point blank chance. They finally scored late in the second half… well, Cameroon scored for them, with an own goal. But the goal didn’t dispirit Cameroon, who quickly came back with a surprise goal of their own. With Chile confused by the sudden change in the game, Cameroon pushed hard and in the 90th minute were awarded a penalty. It looked like a good call at first, but on replay seemed questionable. But that meant Cameroon finished 2-1 and the U.S. gets to play a talented and no doubt very upset and determined Chile for the Bronze. I don’t hold out much hope for the U.S., but you never know. If they play up to their potential and if Chile doesn’t really want a lowly Bronze medal, the U.S. could take it, but I suspect they are too tired. Remember, they’ve already done better than any U.S. soccer team ever, and these are young kids without a lot of experience. They’d love some sort of tribute to bring home, but just being in the semi-finals is an incredible feat, especially considering the international talent on the field. (Some of the internationals playing for Spain, Chile, etc. command transfer fees in the $20-$25 million dollar range, and many of the youngsters play for huge European clubs, so these are world class players the U.S. is competing against.)

Topic: [/soccer]

Link

: Olympic Men: U.S.A. vs. Spain

Lackluster game in which the U.S. only showed flashes of their true capability; most likely they were exhausted, both emotionally and physically. Five intense matches in twelve days in five cities is a lot to ask of anyone (and one of those matches went 120 minutes). The U.S. started off disorganized and slow, and went down two goals early. When coach Clive Charles put in two substitutions, the game improved considerably, and the U.S. was able to draw a goal back via a penalty kick. (I don’t know why Clive didn’t start the game with subs Donovan and Victorine — and he unfortunately took out Albright instead of moving him up front.) The U.S. should have capitalized on the Spain’s defensive play in the second half, but couldn’t, and with just minutes left Spain scored again, dooming the U.S. Final score: 3-1 Spain. That means the U.S. plays for the Bronze on Friday.

Topic: [/soccer]

Link

Mon, Sep 25, 2000

: EPL: Southhampton at Bradford City

Oooh, a low scoring affair of two bottom-of-the-table teams! Boring! I guess you really have to be a fan of one of these teams to get into a game like this, but I just couldn’t. Some lower teams (like Charlton) I really enjoy, but this game was lame. Final: 1-0 Southhampton.

Topic: [/soccer]

Link

: The Dark is Rising

Author: Susan Cooper

Book two of the “Dark is Rising” sequence. A very different book from the first. Didn’t seem at all geared towards children, though the main character is a boy who discovers on his eleventh birthday he has special magic powers. Unfortunately, those powers come with tremendous responsibility, and he’s not at all happy with the situation: it’s more of a curse than a blessing. Excellently written, but dark, abstract, and full of mystery and odd philosophical and theological explanations. The boy saves the world, but I never quite understood the how or why (the only time he does something creative, he’s “inspired” by a voice inside him; otherwise everything seems to happen to him). For most of the book you aren’t really sure what is happening. There’s time travel, strange magic, mysterious things, evil everywhere, etc. Towards the end of the book we’re treated with long-winded explanations of everything, but it’s more like reading a textbook on magical history instead of an adventure story. The ending isn’t as satisfying as it should be. In short, this is a well-written and thought-provoking book for adults, but the child in me wanted a lot more fun.

Topic: [/book]

Link

Sun, Sep 24, 2000

: Olympic Women: U.S.A. vs. Brazil

Boring, disappointing game. The U.S. was flat and hardly had a shot on goal the whole night. Their one goal was questionable, as it looked like Tiffeny Milbret fouled the Brazilian keeper to give Mia Hamm a shot at an open net, but nothing was called and the game finished 1-0 with the Americans advancing. Best move of the game was an incredible late second half save by the American keeper to keep Brazil out.

Topic: [/soccer]

Link

: MLS Playoff: Colorado at Kansas City (Game 3)

With K.C. having the best defense in the league and only needing a draw, and considering the two teams only had one goal in the previous two playoff games (K.C. won the first 1-0 and the last was 0-0), I figured this would be a low scoring game. K.C. seemed on track scoring early, and Colorado had no offense at all. Coming into the second half Colorado still had a chance, but then K.C. scored two goals to make 3-0! The Rapids battled on, however, almost immediately getting a goal back by Paul Bravo with a terrific turn and shoot at the top of the box, but with only a few minutes left it didn’t look like the Rapids could do. In the final minute their pressure paid off with a penalty call, but there wasn’t time for anything else and the game finished 3-2, with Kansas City advancing to play Los Angeles in the semifinals.

Topic: [/soccer]

Link

: Welcome to the Dollhouse

Terrific film. I’d wanted to see it long ago, but never got around to it, but as it’s by the writer/director of the quirky film not turn into a swan at the end. Brutally honest and occasionally viscious. My favorite scene? It’s the dinner scene where the mom is trying to get the girl to say that she loves the (bratty) little sister and the girl’s refusing. So the mom says, “Then you can just stay at the table until you tell you sister you love her!” You can imagine what happens. Forced love. I love it!

Topic: [/movie]

Link

: EPL: Arsenal vs. Ipswich

Powerhouse Arsenal just really seemed to struggle while Ipswich played excellently. However, though Ipswich got a great goal early, they missed several great chances later, and sure enough, Arsenal managed to sneak one past the keeper late in the game for a 1-1 final.

Topic: [/soccer]

Link

Sat, Sep 23, 2000

: Olympic Men: U.S.A. vs. Japan

Talk about an exciting game! The U.S. spurned a couple early chances, then Japan took the lead with an awkward bouncing header and missed an open net just before halftime. U.S.A. got back in it with a goal from Josh Wolff, but Japan immediately game back with another goal to go ahead. Near the very end of the game, as the U.S. pushed and pushed and pushed, Wolff was pulled down in the back and the U.S. was awarded a penalty kick. With the converted PK, the score was tied and went into “Golden Goal” overtime (sudden death). With terrific chances at both ends, both keepers made fantastic saves to keep their team in the game. The U.S. dominated play, but the Japanese were very dangerous on the counter-attack. Somehow the U.S. survived and the game went to a penalty kick shootout. Each team got five kicks, and Japan’s best player, Nakata, missed his shot! All five U.S. players made their PKs, and the U.S. advances to the semi-finals with strong hopes of a medal!

Topic: [/soccer]

Link

Fri, Sep 22, 2000

: MLS Playoff: New England at Chicago (Game 3)

Usually playoff games are low scoring affairs, and sometimes there’s even suspense. I’d been rooting for underdog New England, but seventeen minutes in it was 3-0 Chicago. They never could catch up (though they had a few chances), and Chicago, with Stoitchkof of a tear, finished things off 6-0 to set and tie and bunch of playoff records. Wow!

Topic: [/soccer]

Link

Thu, Sep 21, 2000

: MLS Playoff: Tampa Bay at L.A. (Game 2)

L.A. just whooped on Tampa. Though L.A. had only managed four goals in their last three games, they came up with FIVE goals in this one. Tampa’s Mamadou Diallo had two goals, but it wasn’t enough and they are eliminated from the playoff picture.

Topic: [/soccer]

Link

: Soccer News

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve noticed I’m now reporting soccer games I watch, as well as movies and books. I do a fair amount of the latter, depending on my schedule, but I’ve always got time for soccer. In fact, I watch so much I can’t always keep it straight myself, so this is a good way to keep a record of it.

Topic: [/zweb]

Link

Wed, Sep 20, 2000

: Olympic Women: U.S.A. vs. Nigeria

Though Nigeria did get a goal to make things interesting, the U.S. was firmly in control, making this a fairly routine 3-1 victory. Things will become much more competitive now. Surprisingly, powerhouse China was eliminated and does not advance to the semifinals.

Topic: [/soccer]

Link

Tue, Sep 19, 2000

: MLS Playoff: Chicago at New England (Game 2)

What a day for soccer! First the U.S. Olympic team makes history, and then the playoffs really get going when New England makes a dramatic come-back to beat Chicago and force a third game in the series. New England looked a much better team than Chicago, dominating possession and chances, and only a mistake at the back letting Chicago snag a goal in the 80th minute. Defender Maricio Wright answered back for the Revolution, scoring a terrific header in the 85th minute. (Wright had an own goal in game one, so this was a great consolation.) You can tell by how passionately the players are playing that it’s playoff season!

Topic: [/soccer]

Link

: Olympic Men: U.S.A. vs. Kuwait

With a must-win to advance, the U.S. started out slowly, with amateur Connor Casey once again missing obvious chances. When he was replaced by Landon Donnovan in the 31st minute and Albright was moved to forward, the U.S. took the game to Kuwait, finishing with a dramatic 3-1 win that not only meant the U.S. advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time in history, but the U.S. won the group! (Winning the group is important, because group winners play second place teams from another group in the quarterfinals. Likewise, coming in second means you have to play a group winner.)

Topic: [/soccer]

Link

Mon, Sep 18, 2000

: EPL: Arsenal vs. Coventry City

Arsenal had control most of the game and towards the end it looked like an easy 2-0 victory, but then a great free kick goal from Moroccan Hadji made the game 2-1 and the last ten minutes were a frantic fight. Hall had a terrific post shot in the last seconds that could have tied the score, but it wasn’t Coventry’s day. Hadji’s goal marked the first time in five seasons Coventry scored on Arsenal’s home field.

Topic: [/movie]

Link

Sun, Sep 17, 2000

: Drive Me Crazy

Teen movie about… well, about teens. I never could quite figure out the plot, as it seemed to change throughout the film (loosely it’s “good girl bribes bad boy to be her date and they fall in love for real”). Quite derivative in every way. More or less harmless, though. Not half as good as an Eighties classic like Can’t Buy Me Love (which it superficially resembles).

Topic: [/movie]

Link

: Olympic Women: U.S. vs. China

Good game, though the U.S. struggled at times. China played very well. 1-1 was the final score, though the U.S. could have won on a missed penalty kick (which was justice as it was a questionable call anyway). The U.S. needs at least a win or a draw against Nigeria to advance.

Topic: [/soccer]

Link

: Magnolia

Author: Paul Thomas Anderson

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson

One of the more successful episodic films I’ve seen, this movie blends the stories of multiple semi-related characters into one. Starts off excellently, but unfortunately, the build-up is for naught, as the film peters out without much of an ending (or explanation or revelation). Very long, but I didn’t really notice as the characters and situations were interesting, especially the bits about the “quiz kid” boy being forced to compete on the game show to win his dad money. Excellent subtle performances. Only thing that felt odd was the excessive profanity — every character seemed obsessed with using the F-word as many times as possible in every sentence. Do real people talk that way? I didn’t think so until I watched the behind-the-scenes “diary” on the DVD (very good, btw), and it showed that writer/director Anderson talks just like that. I guess he’s a genius. Whatever.

Topic: [/movie]

Link

Sat, Sep 16, 2000

: EPL: Charlton vs. Tottenham Hotspur

I like to root for the underdogs, so I was delighted that Charlton won, 1-0, but the game itself wasn’t that great, though the goal was excellent.

Topic: [/soccer]

Link

: Olympic Men: U.S. vs. Cameroon

Wonderful, though frustrating, game. The U.S. had gobs of dead-on chances but couldn’t finish. The only non-professional player on the U.S. team, Connor Casey, missed several sitters, alone with the keeper, but hopefully he’ll learn from his experiences. (Amazing that the U.S. can now field a team of under 21-year-olds and only have one that doesn’t play professionally!) While the game was exciting, the only goals came from penalties. Final: U.S. 1, Cameroon 1. With Cameroon winning their first game, and with Kuwait (the other team in the U.S.’s group) winning their second, the U.S. faces a must-win against Kuwait to advance. (Since Kuwait is currently in second with the U.S. in third, a win against them guarantees the U.S. moving forward in the tournament.)

Topic: [/soccer]

Link

Fri, Sep 15, 2000

: Over Sea, Under Stone

Author: Susan Cooper

First book in the “Dark is Rising Sequence.” I’d never heard of this series until recently, when it was compared favorably to the Harry Potter books. These were written in the sixties and seventies, and deal with children and the legend of King Arthur (as near as I can figure without having read them yet). This book has children discovering a map that leads them to the Holy Grail. A bit light, but interesting and well-written. I’ve started the second book and it is even better, so I think this is going to be a good series. There are five books in all.

Topic: [/book]

Link

: MLS Playoff: New England at Chicago (Game 1)

Excellent, action-filled game, but NE really suffered when rookie defender Rusty Pierce went down with an injury and the team had to reshuffle into a more defensive posture. Final: NE 1, Chicago 2.

Topic: [/soccer]

Link

: MLS Playoff: Dallas at NY (Game 1)

Good game, with away team Dallas going up early, but NY came back to make it a game, and won in the last seconds of overtime with a goal by “El Trane” Valencia. Final: NY 2, Dallas 1. Dallas missed a penalty kick that should have won it for them.

Topic: [/soccer]

Link

Thu, Sep 14, 2000

: UEFA Cup: Liverpool vs. Rapid Bucharest (1st leg)

I only got to see the last half, but the goal had already been scored by Liverpool’s Nick Barmby, and what I saw was rather boring and defensive. Liverpool missed a few good chances and should have won by more. Bucharest fans booed their own team most of the second half.

Topic: [/soccer]

Link

: Olympic Women: U.S. vs. Norway

U.S. 2, Norway 0. Great start from U.S. They totally dominated and didn’t give Norway a chance. Chances for gold medal look much better, considering Norway and China are in the same group as the U.S.

Topic: [/soccer]

Link

: MLS Playoff: L.A. vs. Tampa Bay (Game 1)

1-0, L.A. Galaxy. Slow, defensive-oriented game with a penalty as the only goal. Mamadou Diallo was marked out of the game and missed his one or two chances. First of “best of three” series doesn’t leave Tampa out of it, but getting a win in L.A. is going to be a challenge.

Topic: [/soccer]

Link

Wed, Sep 13, 2000

: U.S. Open Cup Semifinal: Miami v. NY

Wow, what an exciting game! U.S. Open Cup games this year have all gone to the wire, but it seemed like Miami was out for vengeance after missing the playoffs as they came back after the 1-1 tie at the half to quickly go up 3-1. Then New York got a late goal and pummelled the Miami goal for the last ten minutes, but couldn’t quite make it a win. So the underdog Miami goes to their first U.S. Open Cup final. They’ll face Chicago (which beat L.A. with an overtime goal from sub Josh Wolf). Final score: 3-2 Miami.

Topic: [/soccer]

Link

: Olympic Men: U.S. vs. Czech Republic

Great start for the U.S. Men’s team; they dominated the game and should have won, but nerves and fatigue meant they gave up some goals they shouldn’t and didn’t pick up a winner in the second half. A 2-2 draw, it gives the U.S. a point in the standings, an excellent start from a game the U.S. expected to lose.

Topic: [/soccer]

Link

Tue, Sep 12, 2000

: The Beach

Interesting, if somewhat boring film. Reminded me a little too much of Lord of the Flies, but it’s not as deep. In a nutshell, that’s what I found most annoying about the film: it is pretentious, acting as though it’s about profound existential issues, yet it’s really just about anarchy and pleasure-seeking. I also couldn’t figure out what was so special about the beach. There are millions of deserted, beautiful beaches all over the world. What’s the big deal about this one (other than it’s a big secret)? Lamely executed concept, though an interesting premise. Main character goes looney toward the end, which I didn’t get at all.

Topic: [/movie]

Link

: X-Men

Excellent action-adventure, based on the Marvel comic. I love comic book adaptations when they are done seriously, and this one is. Comics are a fantasy medium, and thus work best when presented in an ultra-realistic fashion as the fantasy elements are less dismissable (and silly). While the story’s not too deep, it does involve the interesting concept of discrimination against mutants, and there was even some decent acting. Two thumbs up.

Topic: [/movie]

Link

Sun, Sep 10, 2000

: Happiness

Bizarre, quirky film that deals with extreme subjects (like pedophilia) in a loosely satricial fashion. The whole point is summarized in the title, as in, the search for (Happiness) and what it all means. Unfortunately, the film doesn’t really uncover anything too revealing, though the presentation is unique, and it has fun poking fun at society’s trivialities. Some great characters and great moments, but falls a little short of a great film. Sample moment: fat slob loser geek with crush on beautiful neighbor (a successful writer with too many boyfriends and no painful life experiences) finally meet after his anonymous phone sex calls have got her extremely interested, and after a long, awkward silence, she finally says, “You’re not my type.” and that’s that. Realistic. Best moment? When the fat neighbor with crush on fat slob loser geek finally go on a date and the unexpected happens. Hilarious!

Topic: [/movie]

Link

Fri, Sep 08, 2000

: A Talk With Hitchcock

Excellent DVD interview with Hitch, the greatest director of all time. This interview is apparently from a 1960-something TV Canadian TV show, and it included lots of great stuff from Hitch. He tells his vision of film in the year 3000 (we’ll all just go and be hynoptized into living the film we experience), and reveals insights into modern debates like the issue over film violence. (Hitch claims no connection, and when asked about a serial killer who had watched a Hitchcock movie just before his third murder, Hitch said, “I wonder what he watched before his second murder?” He dismissed the whole thing and said that the killer was just as likely to have just drunk a glass of milk before his killing.) Classic Hitchcock, great video.

Topic: [/movie]

Link

Thu, Sep 07, 2000

: Captain for Life and Other Temporary Assignments

Author: John Harkes

On a soccer kick, I ordered this book at the same time as

Topic: [/book]

Link

Mon, Sep 04, 2000

: Erin Brockovich

Wow, a Julia Roberts movie I like! Actually, I don’t not like Julia Roberts, but usually she’s rather too much of a presence is her movies for the movie to be very good. But I really liked this one. The character was very different from previous Julia Roberts’ characters, and I liked the story. (For once, there was no controversy in the tale of a lawsuit against big business: the big business admitted within their own memos that the problem existed and that it was time to cover it up. So no wacko environmentalist versus reasonable person debates here.)

Topic: [/movie]

Link

: Pele

Author: Pele

Terrific auto-biography of the greatest soccer player the world has ever known. I figured the book would be mostly about soccer, but I was wrong. Turns out the book is a fascinating account of a man’s childhood, his longings and dreams, his struggles into adulthood, and the challenges of being a legend in his own time. Very well written, the book is profound in an elegant, simple manner, similar to the way Pele played soccer. Highly recommended for everyone.

Topic: [/book]

Link

: New Desk!

I spent Labor Day weekend destroying my office and putting it back together again. This was a massive project. With such a small room and so little storage space I first had to go through my storage boxes and consolidate and throw junk away. Once I’d made room, I was able to begin constructing my new IKEA desk, though with hardly any floor space putting it together in such cramped quarters was quite the adventure. Still, I made it, and my new office is amazing. I finally have space! Where before I literally couldn’t turn around without knocking something over, I now have a four by twelve foot clear area for walking around. Plus, my new desk not only has room for all my equipment, but tons of extra room for future stuff and/or books and other accessories. Incredible!

Topic: [/personal]

Link

Sun, Sep 03, 2000

: Victory

Director: John Huston

Interesting concept: prisoners of war during WWII are challenged into a soccer match against Germany, and use it as a way to escape. There isn’t that much soccer, at least until the finale, though the passion of the players is obvious. Pele himself stars as one of the prisoners, and of course he plays great in the final game. Okay, nothing great or brilliant, and Sylvester Stalone as the goalkeeper is a rather odd selection, but not a bad film, at least if you’re a soccer fan.

Topic: [/movie]

Link