Tue, Oct 31, 2000

: Dutch: Ajax at PSV Eindhoven

These are the two biggest clubs in Holland. The battle started off with a lot of battling, but about fifteen minutes in a mistake put Ajax’s Machlas in good position and he chipped it over the keeper, who was helplessly off his line. Ajax got a second minutes later, but it was called back for offside. The game got very physical late in the half as PSV really pressed forward, but they couldn’t score. The scrapiest continued in the second half, but it was all the way to the 78th minute before PSV could equalize on a penalty kick (which Ajax keeper Grimes almost saved). Seconds later, Machlas could have put Ajax ahead again, but his shot went inches wide of the post. In a strange play toward the end of the game when PSV could have gone ahead, a PSV player got hit in the back of the head with the ball and was knocked out cold! I’ve never seen that before. He was fine after a couple minutes, but it was strange. Final: 1-1.

Topic: [/soccer]

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: Dutch: Feyenoord at Utrecht

A top- versus bottom-of-the-table clash, Feyenoord was expected to dominate, but a terrific dribbling play got Utrecht the first goal by Dombi. Feyenoord really pressed after that, getting some opportune free kicks and corners, but failed to convert. But in the second half, Feyenoord came out kicking. African player Kalou did an amazing thing: in the penalty area he received the ball at his foot by a throw in, somehow muscled off the defender on his back, turned, and put in a low shot that went past two defenders and the keeper! Amazing goal, almost put in by sheer will alone. Kalou almost got another in the 64th minute, but hit it into the side netting. For the final twenty minutes, Utrecht put on some impressive, determined pressure, all heart, but it was for naught. Final: 1-1.

Topic: [/soccer]

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: The Murders in the Rue Morgue

Author: Edgar Allan Poe

This is a short story, not a book, so one might wonder why I write about it; but it’s a remarkable story, one I’ve never before read, and it’s made quite an impression upon me. Poe begins with a lecture on the difference between mere intelligence and the analytical mind. What I liked about this was how he reveals the flaw inherent to the game of chess (proficiency is merely indicative of a strong memory more than any analytical skill). Chess has always puzzled me because skill at it is considered a sign of intelligence, yet I’ve found it to be more tedious than challenging. Poe has confirmed what I always thought! The actual story of the murders is a fascinating story of detection, with a brilliant (and completely logical) conclusion. The trick is the same as how magicians fool audiences — with distraction. The murders are so brutal and horrible they confuse you, causing your mind to go into the wrong direction. Fascinating. (I am pleased to report I figured out the solution long before the end of the story, but I must admit I had an unfair advantage: my mind was still filled with images from the book I just finished.)

Topic: [/writing]

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: Worthington Cup: Blackburn vs. West Ham

After all the setup that this clash would prove to be competitive (West Ham has been knocked out of the Worthington Cup by a lower-division club five times in the last eight years), West Ham dominated. After an uneventful first half, Davor Sukor scored in the 67th minute on West Ham’s first corner kick of the game. That opened the game a bit, but when Man of the Match Paulo Di Canio was brought down in the box in the 83rd minute, you knew Blackburn was dead. Di Canio’s first shot scored, but the ref made him retake it for some reason. The second kick was blocked, but the rebound went right to Di Canio and he didn’t miss. And that’s the way she ended, 2-0 West Ham.

Topic: [/soccer]

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: Jungle Tales of Tarzan

Author: Edgar Rice Burroughs

Terrific book of short Tarzan stories. The stories are not necessarily related, though they are chronological in order. They mostly deal with a very young Tarzan, still more ape than man, and his learning about the world. I love that sort of thing. (As a child I regularly read a French comic book series about a prehistoric man who traveled the world, meeting various peoples, having adventures, and always learning new things, such as swimming, fire, blowguns, glass, etc. I still have a couple of those books and they’re awesome.)

Anyway, in this book there’s lots of humor, action, and Burroughs does an incredible job of making us understand the savage mind and point of view. There is even some profundity: for instance, the story where Tarzan searches for God. God is a foreign concept to him, but he reads about it in the books left by his parents, and so searches for God, inquiring the wise old apes, the witch-doctor of the native village, and even asks the moon. Burroughs’ revelation of how Tarzan discovers God is clever: Tarzan discovers mercy and refrains from killing a helpless man. He cannot figure out what stayed his hand, but finally figures it must be God, because only God could be stronger than Tarzan. Neatly done (and probably a healthier concept of God than most people’s).

A central theme in all of Burroughs’ Tarzan stories is the conflict/differences between savagery and civilization, and he deftly brings that out in these stories, including one where he switches between the lives of two Lord Greystokes: the imposture in England and the savage in the African jungles, showing how each hunts, dines, and sleeps. The humor and irony is terrific: the “civilized” man shoots hundreds of harmless birds with a rifle as beaters drive the birds into the air, while the “savage” hunts with his bare hands and wits, and kills only what he needs to eat. In the end, it is the savage who sleeps peacefully, while the civilized man is up with pains from eating too much lobster and drinking too much wine. Hilarious!

Topic: [/book]

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