Thu, Nov 30, 2000

: Simpatico

Incomprehensible mess about horse racing fraud and blackmail. Told in a mishmash of flashbacks, you keep expecting something eventful to happen, but nothing much does. In the end, you wonder why you bothered.

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Wed, Nov 29, 2000

: The Red Violin

Director: Francois Girard

An incredible, mesmerizing, and remarkable film. I’ll be honest and say I usually don’t like “art” films: even good ones tend to be ponderous and boring. Like brussel sprouts, they may be good for you, but they taste terrible.

This film held me captivated. I couldn’t stop watching, even for tonight’s Star Trek (don’t worry, I recorded it). I doubt it’s because I used to play the violin as a child: I hated practicing and grew to loath the instrument (though I can appreciate it when it’s played well). I must admit, however, the film inspired a curiosity in me: how would I be different if I hadn’t stopped playing?

This film is put together in a masterful fashion: we begin in the present at an auction where the Red Violin is about to go on sale. Then we switch to 17th century Italy where the master craftsman Nicolo Bussotti is making his finest violin in honor of his about-to-born son. Then we follow the violin’s life through 300 years and a half-dozen countries to the present day, at the auction. The film takes us to diverse places: Italy, Germany, England, China, Montreal, New York, each with their own language (subtitled, of course), and each with their own musical style (my favorite was the gypsy music). Periodically, the film switches to Bussotti’s wife, the expectant mother, as her fortune is being told by a tarot card reader, but we see that the future revealed is not hers or her son’s, but the violin’s. We also switch to the auction house. What’s amazing is that the director not only handles these switches with a deftness that brings increased power to the scenes, but he’s clever enough to overlap and vary them slightly, showing us identical scenes from different perspectives. It gives one the feeling that time is an ocean and we’re just drifting through it, hearing bits and glimpses of living history as we float past. The film is never boring: every time you think you know what’s going to happen, the film surprises you with little twists and turns. Gradually the film drifts into a modern forensic detective story as a violin scientist traces the history of the remarkable violin and attempts to verify its authenticity.

This film is as complex and varied as a symphony, with incredible violin music and performances (Pope’s solo is astonishing). It reveals a musician’s love for an instrument, a unique bond only musicians can truly understand. (The scenes with the young orphan, who sleeps with the precious Red Violin beside him, are incredibly touching.) This film encompasses myriad human emotions — grief, joy, wonder, lust, greed, hatred, and sacrifice — all through an inanimate object. By the end of the film, you’ll feel as I do, that the Red Violin is alive, and will outlive us all, and within it will forever live all the people it touched over the centuries.

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: Champions League: Real Madrid at Leeds United

Great first half, though without goals. Madrid possessed the ball but Leeds had the best chances. In the second half, Leeds continued the pressure, but it was Madrid who broke the deadlock. After a great save by Robinson on Figo’s shot, Hierro’s header beat him on the resulting corner kick. Minutes later, Raul got open alone and scored, leaving Leeds really in the pits. They fought hard, but to no avail. 2-0 Madrid.

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Tue, Nov 28, 2000

: EPL: Bradford City at Middlesbrough

You might think it would be hard for a team to be underdogs to Middlesbrough, considering their terrible form this season, but Bradford City has been doing even worse (only one away goal all season). Both teams are in the relegation zone, with Bradford at the very bottom of the pile. So this game looked like Boro’s chance for a home win, but things went badly from the start. A minute and a half in when Boro didn’t clear the ball well, Windass got it and easily scored. Then, eight minutes later, Carbone scored. Underdogs Bradford were up by two! While Bradford dominated first half play, the second half can be described as a scramble as frantic Middlesbrough struggled for any kind of scrap they could find. They started off well with a goal from Ehiogu just a few minutes in, when Bradford’s keeper made a terrible clear by coming out of his box and knocking the ball right to Ehiogu’s head. After that, however, it looked like Bradford would hold their lead, especially when Middlesbrough had a man sent off. But miraculously, just before the end of regulation, veteran Paul Ince got the ball in the box, dribbled to some open space on the left and put in a low grounder. It bobbled right through Bradford’s keeper’s legs to bring the game to a 2-2 draw. Sadly, that comeback may not be enough to keep Middlesbrough’s manager’s job, but we’ll see.

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: Just a Little Harmless Sex

Strange talky movie about couples and infidelity. All talk, no sex. Lame.

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: Worthington Cup: Manchester United vs. Sunderland

Terrific game, though Man. U. didn’t field their full squad. Sunderland played with heart. United’s Dwight Yorke put them ahead in the first half, but in the second half he was sent off for a bad tackle. Sunderland scored minutes into the second half, and with the game tied, the intensity rose. Manchester should have gotten a penalty kick but the ref didn’t call it. The game went into 30 minutes of overtime. Phillips, who was having a great game, though he couldn’t score, was brought down in United’s box for a penalty kick. Phillips scored, and United never recovered. Final: 2-1 Sunderland.

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Mon, Nov 27, 2000

: La Liga: Deportivo at Celta Vigo

The game started off all Deportivo, culminating with a controversial penalty call against Celta Vigo as it looked like the takedown was outside the box. Turu Flores, however, slipped while kicking and sent the ball wide. Celta took over in the second half, at least at first, but failed to convert. Deportivo regained their momentum when Djalminha’s play in the box set up Flores, but he took five minutes to fiddle around with the ball instead of shooting, passing up a terrific chance. Then, with thirteen minutes to go, Djalminha put in a terrific angled kick over the keeper’s head. He cut the ball back to his left foot with his first move, then curled the ball home. Terrific! Final: 1-0 Deportivo.

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: Serie A: Lazio at Parma

Lazio started off in a lackluster fashion, with Parma scoring a great goal by former Lazio player Conceicao ten minutes in. Conceicao was a devil the entire match, running non-stop and pressuring Lazio constantly with great ball handling and clever passes. In the second half, Lazio scored but the goal was controversially called back for offsides: the replay clearly showed the player receiving the ball wasn’t offside, however, the whistle went long before Ravanelli headed in the ball, so that didn’t bother me too much (I hate it when the ref calls back a goal after it was scored). Anyway, Parma played much better than Lazio, possessing the ball and keeping Lazio at bay. Then late in the game Lazio went down a man when a player got a second yellow. In second half injury time, literally with seconds to play, Parma got their second on a goal by Frenchman Lamouchi who got a favorable bounce to beat a defender and still had the calm to put the ball past the keeper. Final: 2-0 Parma, well-deserved.

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Sun, Nov 26, 2000

: Serie A: Napoli at A.C. Milan

Nothing much happened initially, though Milan seemed in control, but with just a couple minutes left in the first half, Jose Marie’s header rebounded off the post. On the resulting throw-in, Ambrosini headed the ball in. In the second half Napoli played much better, forcing Abbiati to make a few critical saves, but nothing every penetrated his goal. Final: 1-0 Milan.

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Sat, Nov 25, 2000

: The Cider House Rules

Author: John Irving

Director: Lasse Halstrom

Interesting, well-done period film about a boy who grows up in an orphanage, leaves, and returns to serve as the orphanage doctor. Supposedly controversial because of its pro-abortion views, but I didn’t see much of that: the events in the film are too extreme to be taken as typical abortion situations. Overall, I liked the love story the best. It’s not unusual — boy leaves girl to go to war and while he’s away she has an affair — but I liked the dilemma it presented, and the main character’s innocence. Not a great film — it’s a bit too manipulative (“Oh, aren’t these poor orphans sympathetic!”) — but good.

That said, let me get on my high horse and condemn some of the heavy-handed subtle manipulation of this film. The “cider house rules” of the title turn out to be a list of some inane rules the apple pickers are supposed to follow. The point, heavily made, is to the effect of “those rules weren’t made by people who live here so we don’t have to follow them.” One could look at this as a collery of the old “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes before you judge them.” Obviously, this is hinting at the abortion controversy, implying that anti-abortionists don’t “live in the house” and therefore can’t make laws for others (or if they do, abortionists don’t have to follow those laws). Quite illogical, on several fronts; in the end, the “rules” are a very poor metaphor for violating anti-abortion laws. Besides it not making sense, I just found this obvious manipulation distasteful and dangerous (Irving makes the rules so childishly dumb as to be meaningless).

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: The Grinch

Director: Ron Howard

Very good, though occasionally includes crude, inappropriate jokes (considering its audience). Makeup and special effects were awesome, and Jim Carey did a wonderful job. I liked the way they did the story: it followed the Suess one mostly, but included enough new material to be interesting.

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Fri, Nov 24, 2000

: Monty Python’s The Meaning Of Life

Hilarious comedy from the masters of the absurd, this film purports to explain the meaning of existence through a series of sketches. We explore topics such as birth, sex education, middle age, and death. Occasional profundity shows its head (such as the scene where a couple go to a restaurant to order a conversation, not a meal), but occasionally the humor is the more obvious puerile kind. Like most sketch movies, the quality varies. Best of all is the opening short, “The Crimson Assurance,” a terrific Brazil-like film by Terry Gilliam. It opens with a ship of slaves being whipped to work harder, then morphs that into the same old men working at desks as accountants. From there, the men overthrow the suits and put a pirate flag and set forth on the “accountancy” (emphasis on the final syllable). Hilarious and yet quite deep on many levels.

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: Rosemary’s Baby

Author: Roman Polanski (screenplay), Ira Levin (novel)

Director: Roman Polanski

Really well-done thriller without a single special effect! An ordinary young couple move into a new apartment and set about having a family. Gradually the woman comes to believe that her friendly neighbors are witches who want to steal her child. Terrific exercise in paranoia, suspicion, and doubt. Roman cleverly leaves things ambiguous so we wonder if the woman imagined everything or if she really gave birth to Satan’s child. Fascinating example of how to put together a gripping, tension-filled film without any action or graphic effects. Holds up very well over the years.

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: The Green Mile

Author: Frank Darabont (screenplay), Steven King (novel)

Director: Frank Darabont

An even better film than I expected. It was its stereotypicalness that turned me off of it initially (that an Tom Hank’s out-of-placeness as the prison guard), but despite certain predictable plot points, it invites thinking.

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: Black Robe

Author: Brian Moore

Director: Bruce Beresford

Authentic tale of French missionaries in 1634 attempting to convert Native Americans to Christianity. Clearly shows the difference in cultures and lifestyles. For instance, the Indians don’t like the Christian concept of Heaven which is without hunting and killing and sexual relations, and thus conversions are difficult. The missionaries are determined, however, risking and frequently losing their own lives for the cause. The film is violent and savage in places, with majestic and vivid photography. Unfortunately, there isn’t as much story as I desired: the obvious conflicts of human desires versus Godly plan is hinted at but rarely confronted. In the end, we are left with a film with no interpretation or purpose: it means everything and thus means nothing.

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Thu, Nov 23, 2000

: Peeping Tom

Director: Michael Powell

Considered the British version of Psycho, but it’s a very different film, and excellent in its own regard. The significant flaw is that it’s not particularly likeable, mostly because the lead character is not someone we want to relate to (even if we do).

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: The Killer

Author: John Woo

Director: John Woo

John Woo’s best film, an action movie with a conscience. It’s a tale of duality, with the life of a cop mirroring the life of a hired killer who wants to go straight. Throughout the film, they constantly switch white and black hats: he’s hero, no he’s the hero, no he’s the bad guy and the other guy’s the hero. Lots of existential dialogue and more flashbacks than a time-travel pic. Dramatic visuals, more like an opera than a shoot-em-up, with excessive blood and violence that dance across the screen like poetry. Ultimately the film asks the question: who is the killer? The cop kills bad guys while the assassin is hired to kill other criminals, so is he okay? Complex, profound, and thought-provoking, with an action overlay that is exciting and humorous.

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: For Your Eyes Only

One of my favorite James Bond flicks: excellent, dramatic locations; awesome, involved chase sequences; terrific humor; and, of course, the incomparable Carole Bouquet (who has the most amazing long hair) as the Bond Girl. Great fun.

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: Tumbleweeds

Unusual drama of a girl and her mother as they struggle for existence. The mother moves from boyfriend to boyfriend, leaving town after each failed relationship, and the girl grows frustrated by the constant moving. Well-done, with very good performances and strong characters, but it tries a bit too hard to be daring, with “open” mother-daughter conversations on crude topics like farting and having the young girl swear frequently (as though that’s innovative or shocking these days). (The opening scene, where the mother and her boyfriend fight and she and her daughter flee, is filled with foul language that comes across as strangely false, as though either the writer doesn’t know how to swear or just uses swearing as a substitute for characterization.) Still, the characters are real and the story and emotions overall ring true. My only real complaint is the flaw central to the film: the explanation of why the mom always leaves town when a relationship goes bad is weak, leaving the viewer wondering if the mom’s a little weak in the head. (She claims she doesn’t want to run into the old boyfriend, but that’s not enough to justify moving to a different state every four to six months.) If it wasn’t for this flaw the film would be Oscar-caliber, but this makes it fall a little short.

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: Harold and Maude

Author: Colin Higgins

Director: Hal Ashby

My number two favorite film of all time. Amazing, mesmerizing, and hilarious story of a lifeless young “poor little rich boy” who discovers a vivacious 80-year-old woman who teaches him to enjoy existence. Every scene is masterfully orchestrated: not a word of dialogue is excessive, every happening is critical to the plot, every shot is flawlessly composed, and the performances are genuine. This is truly a perfect film. After 30 years it has lost none of its power: perhaps it’s even gained import considering the pointlessness of modern life. This is a film I could watch every month and enjoy more every time.

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: Pitch Black

Terrific sci-fi thriller about a transport vessel that crash lands on an unknown planet. One of the members is a convict being returned to prison, and his escape creates the initial tension. Soon, however, it is discovered that much more dangerous brutes exist on the planet: dinosaur-like creatures (miniature raptors with wings) that consume a person in seconds, like piranha in the Amazon. The creatures, however, are killed by light, which means everyone is safe as the planet has multiple suns and there is no night. That is, until the group realize a once-every-twenty-two year total eclipse is about to occur, plunging the planet into complete darkness. You can imagine the rest.

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Wed, Nov 22, 2000

: Champions League: Deportivo at Paris Saint-Germain

Started off slow, with neither side doing much, but slowly PSG gained momentum and soon dominated. Then, on a weak shot from Algerino, Deportivo’s keeper misjudged the ball and let it slip under him for a PSG lead. In the second half, PSG had several early chances to increase their lead but failed, and Deportivo made them pay with a great volley by Naybet inside the penalty box. Minutes later, Deportivo’s Emerson was taken down in an obvious penalty kick, but the ref didn’t call it. Deportivo had a one-on-one chance moments after that, but the attempt to chip over the keeper failed. It looked like a tie might be the result of the day. But then Deportivo’s Turu Flores, in a brilliant run up the left side, feinted a stop at the edge of the box, then bolted past two defenders to free some space, and slotted the ball home. Both teams had a couple more chances (PSG’s keeper made one great save), but in injury time Deportivo put the matter beyond doubt when Roy Makaay took a great feed to go one-on-one with the keeper and he calmly dribbled around him and kicked the ball into the open net. Final: 3-1 Deportivo!

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: The Innovator’s Dilemma

Author: Clayton M. Christensen

Immaculately researched business book exploring answers to the question of why successful well-managed business fail to adapt to innovative technology. The author primarily uses data from the disk drive industry, where, in just over three decades, hundreds of companies rose to power and were defeated by new companies employing the next wave of technology. Why did this happen, over and over again? For instance, all the makers of the 14” drives were killed by the 8” drive makers, and those were killed by the 5.25” manufacturers, and only a few of them survived to make 3.5” drives. Why?

Christensen discovers that lack of managerial or technical skill was not the problem: rather it was the ironic fact that the companies were well-managed that killed them! Let me explain. In successful companies, the entire company, from CEO to managers to the lowest manual laborer, instinctively know to operate in a manner that maximizes profit for the company. Everyone wants to work on projects that will bring in significant growth, so managers approve resources for projects that customers want. The problem is that innovative technologies, while simpler, cheaper, smaller, and more convenient, are initially of limited utility. Their initial markets are small. Being cheaper, they have smaller margins of profit. For example, the first 3.5” disk drives could only hold 10 megabytes while the top 5.25” drives held 100 MB. When successful drive makers went to their customers and said, “Do you want a 10MB drive?” the customers said, “No, we want a 250MB drive!” The smaller drives, while cheaper in total cost, were much more expensive on a cost-per-megabyte basis. The businesses buying storage wanted the cheapest cost-per-megabyte possible. So was there no market for the 3.5” drive? Of course there was! The problem was that the established companies could only look for a market within their existing market. New companies looked for any market, and quickly discovered an emerging market for laptop computers in which the smaller size of the 3.5” drives was an incredible asset and the higher cost per megabyte didn’t matter. The bigger, established companies couldn’t see the laptop market because it was too small for them to consider: for them a successful product sold hundreds of millions of dollars, not a few million. In a sense, this makes sense: emerging markets are not a huge source of profit, especially considering the lower margins on the cheaper products. But eventually, as the innovative technology improves, it pushes the older technology out of the market and takes over: no 5.25” drives are made today, for instance.

The way Christensen explains this process is to divide technology into two types: sustaining and disruptive. Sustaining technology is an improvement that makes an existing product better. Disruptive technology is a simpler version of existing technology that isn’t initially comparable in features, but has the advantage of being simpler and more efficient: in the long run it will take over. Initially it has its own market, but once features and specs improve to be competitive with its larger cousin, it takes over. For example, look at photocopiers: Xerox, long the leader in huge business-oriented monsters, completely missed out on the personal copier market. Obviously, this was good business: why would Xerox, who’s business was tailored to huge customers buying extremely expensive machines want to bother with small sales to individuals? But of course we all know in retrospect that the personal copier market is much, much larger than the big copier market! (Xerox’s mistake meant they came into the personal copier market very late, and thus they are not the leader.) Christensen shows statistical evidence to show that being first in sustaining technology isn’t much of an advantage, but that being first in disruptive technology has tremendous advantages. In hundreds of cases, the makers of the older technology eventually shifted to the disruptive technology, but they were late and slow, and never regained the leadership position they originally had.

Fascinating, excellent, book, with lots of interesting stories and examples. My only criticism is that Christensen tends to repeat himself. For instance, in several places he points out that “successful” businesses are judged by their growth rate, not actual profit. The larger the company, the more new business must be generated. i.e. a $10 million company must earn only $2 million of new business to maintain a 20% growth rate, but the $100 million company needs $20 million and the $10 billion company needs $2 billion! Since there are no emerging markets of $2 billion, a huge company tends to avoid and thus miss emerging markets. This is an excellent point, but I can’t figure out why Christensen needs to repeat it over and over, almost word for word, in different chapters. He does this with other key points as well, and while that might be helpful for busy business execs just browsing through a few key chapters, it makes the book awkward for the ordinary reader. I’d like to see Christensen write a much shorter version of the book suitable for a mass audience: the book’s issues are important for anyone involved in society as they demonstrate how technology infiltrates our everyday lives. Fascinating and highly recommended.

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Mon, Nov 20, 2000

: Dutch: Feyenoord at NEC Nijmegen

I’d never even heard of Nijemegen, so I figured mighty Feyenoord had it in the bag, and I was right. Feyenoord had most of the offense in the early going, and a great cross in the 25th minute was mistakenly knocked in by the Nijemegen defense. Ten minutes later Emerton was left unmarked with the ball. He was a good distance from the goal, but he chipped the keeper perfectly, putting Feyenoord up by two. In the second half, Emerton was awesome: he took the ball at mid-field and ran through the entire defense and single-handedly put the ball into the goal! A bit later, Nijmegen did a little damage control with a header off a corner kick to cut the lead to two. But that was all they could do, so the game finished, as predicted, with Feyenoord easily winning.

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: EPL: Ipswich Town at Coventry City

Ipswich, promoted this year, has been leading a charmed life, and is high up the table. Coventry, however, is already fighting relegation. Today the trend continued. After a zero-zero first half in which Coventry dominated, both teams fought with more determination in the second, but neither could score. About the most exciting things to happen was when an Ipswich defender crashed himself into his goalpost making a diving header save and when Coventry hit the woodwork on a free kick. The score was still nothing-nothing when regulation ended, when suddenly, out of nowhere, Ipswich’s Wilnis knocked in a beautiful glancing header to win the game. Soccer’s a crazy, unfair game. Coventry lose at home.

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: World Cup Qualifier: Venezuela vs. Ecuador

On the low-end of South American soccer, I didn’t expect much, but was pleasantly surprised. Ecuador took the lead almost immediately with a terrific finish inside the box by youngster Kaviedes: he took a long pass down on his chest and slotted the ball past the keeper on his second touch when the ball dropped to his feet. About twenty minutes later, Ecuador got their second on a long bomb from Wellington Sanchez that the Venezuelan keeper magnificently bobbled. A few much contested free kicks for each side did nothing to change the scoreline, so Ecuador went into the locker room at the half two up. But in the second half, Ecuador’s poor defense let in a pass inside the box and Arango finished it. There were calls for a Venezuelan penalty kick moments later, but the ref didn’t call it. Then Venezuela hit the post, followed by a dangerous free kick opportunity that was blocked by the wall. The game got rough and extremely tense as the clock wound down, but in the end, Ecuador’s slim lead was all they needed. Final: 2-1 Ecuador.

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: La Liga: Valencia vs. Alaves

A lackluster first half with no scoring led into a second half with two beauties. Alaves took the lead mid-way through the half, when a clever backheel gave the ball to an open player who put in a great cross which Ivan Alsono put away. As the game swung in Alaves’ favor, they pressured and twice nearly scored again except for terrific saves by Valencia’s keeper. One of these resulted in a quick counter by Valencia and John Carew took a splendid feed from Captain Mendieta and slipped the ball under the keeper to equalize. Final: 1-1.

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: Serie A: Roma at Verona

Early on this game looked unpredictable as lowly Verona went up 1-0 on a penalty kick in the fourth minute. But Roma took over after that, with Candela scoring in the 32nd minute on a great curling shot through a crowd of defenders and into the goal, and Totti putting in an easy goal in first half injury time when he was left completely unmarked at the top of the box. The second half was more of the same for poor Verona as Roma dominated. Thirteen minutes in Batistuta scored on a terrific free kick, blasting it through the wall and into the upper corner. Amazing, and worth the price of admission right there. Suddenly, Verona came alive, pressuring Roma with a long period of shots, free kicks, and corners, but they couldn’t actually score. Then, with just minutes left, Batistuta finished them off with another goal, a simple tap-in from a cross just outside of the keeper’s reach. Final: 4-1 Roma.

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Sun, Nov 19, 2000

: Whatever It Takes

I have no idea how this movie ended up in my Netflix queue; I disclaim all responsibility. It’s a lame teen Cyrano de Bergerac clone, with no actors you’ve ever heard of, and all the predictability of a Disney movie, but ultimately it’s harmless. But why in the world is there a Director’s Commentary on the DVD? Does anyone really care what this moron director thinks of this silliness?

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: Agentine: Racing at River Plate

An own goal by Racing in the first half put River up, but that was the only goal either team could manage. Not a terrible game, but it should have been better.

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Sat, Nov 18, 2000

: Serie A: A.C. Milan at Lazio

Boy do I love Italian soccer. They are so passionate they make a 0-0 draw incredibly exciting. This game started off with a bomb, when the home team’s Dino Baggio blasted the ball through the back of the net. Milan fought back and even out-played Lazio at times, but by the end of the first half, Lazio was attacking furiously, pressing their lead. I loved Crespo’s run when he was brought down at the top of the box: he out-dribbled two defenders with some nice moves and had to be fouled to be stopped. In the second half, the stalemate after the first goal continued, but a split second gap between two defenders gave Serie A goal-scoring leader Shevchenko all the opportunity he needed to equalize. The teams battled on with near misses, post hits, and other exciting developments, but ultimately, neither team could hurt the other any further, and the result was a fair 1-1 draw. Excellent game.

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: Election Commentary: Counting the Ballots

Let me just say this: the United States Presidential Election should not be decided on a technicality (this ballot is flawed, the voter was confused, or this absentee ballot doesn’t have a postmark) or by a court (supreme or any other).

Courts should make rules about how an election can be run, or determine if there was fraud or a violation of those rules, but they should not be deciding who wins the election.

I write this on Saturday, long before any decision has been made in this matter, and I am growing irritated by this process. The longer this continues the more it polarizes the country. The hand counting of ballots is an example of something that will tear this country apart: frankly I don’t believe the Democrats who say there is no fraud or flaw in the process, and I don’t believe the Republicans who imply that Democratic counters with long fingernails are surreptitiously punching Gore holes in ballots. Both are extreme views. But the hand counts open us up to that and turn this election into a partisan battle. What the Gore camp has never proven is that there is any reason for hand counting millions of ballots. For hand counts to be needed, the Gore camp must prove that there is bias in the machine count. Just because the machines rejected some ballots does not invalidate the election: there’s no evidence to show that the machine didn’t reject just as many Bush ballots as Gore ballots. That’s the whole point of machines. They may be wrong, they may even be wrong on a lot of ballots, but those errors average out in favor of all the parties. Unless Gore wants to argue that Gore voters are dumber than Bush voters and thus more likely to fill out ballots in such a way as to confuse the machines, there is no reason to suspect that a statewide hand recount would produce any different result than the machine count (barring any mischief, of course). Sure, the exact numbers might be different, but overall, the results would be the same.

So, you say, if Bush will win anyway, why not go ahead and do a statewide manual recount? Four reasons:

1) A manual recount will take a very long time. Currently it looks like it will take until after Thanksgiving to finish the counts already in progress, and that’s for just 1.7 million votes. Most likely those counts aren’t valid anyway, since every precinct is applying its own rules to the counting process, and without consistent standards, a court will throw out the results. That could mean it would take into next year just to count the ballots, not even getting into the dozens of lawsuits that are guaranteed to follow.

2) A manual recount is incredibly messy. We’re just seeing the tip of iceberg so far. Both parties have lots of lawyers and are going to go to extraordinary lengths to press their cases, and with the hand count process so complicated, irregular, and full of human error, it could literally take months or even years to figure out the mess. For instance, though the counting process is monitored by a Democrat and a Republican, on questionable ballots — the only ones that matter — the arbiter is the local canvassing board, which in Democrat counties, is made up of a majority of Democrats (and presumably the reverse in Republican counties). Both sides have a lot to lose in the hand count process, but Gore, of course, has no other option (he has already lost on the machine count).

3) It’s against the law. Now I know to most lawyers laws are just technicalities, but they do matter. There are rules to this game. Florida law says a party must request a hand count within 72 hours of the election. That time has long past and while Gore requested hand counts in certain Democratic counties, Bush did not. Accepting the results of hand counts in just the Gore counties would be patently unfair and America would not stand for that. The hue and cry would drown out the voice of any court in the nation that tried to support that crazy idea. If Gore wants “every vote to count” it must literally be every vote: Republican as well as Democratic. Sure, the Florida Supreme Court could determine that a statewide hand recount is necessary, but that’s more time, more complexity, and more expense for Florida. A statewide recount would be almost as complicated as a new election! Frankly, my feeling is that if hand recounts are ordered, that means that they must be more accurate than machine counts, and therefore, every state in the country must recount all their votes by hand. After all, we must count every vote. I am serious: why is Florida the only state that gets special attention? Doesn’t my vote in California count? New Mexico was won by less than 500 votes. A number of other states were also narrow victories. If Florida gets a hand recount, every state should do the same. It’s only fair. In fact, all future elections should be decided by hand counting: I mean, if we can’t trust machines with this election, why should we trust them in future elections? (Note: A nationwide hand recount, of course, would require a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court, not the Florida Supreme Court, which only has jurisdiction in Florida.) I say this only so the Florida Supreme court understands the seriousness of their decision: they could be writing election law for the new century.

4) There is no need for a manual recount (we have the results already). In short, Bush won. He won on election night. He won on the recount. He won after the absentee ballots came in. Enough. Let’s be done with it. Half of American didn’t vote at all, and of the half that did, they were evenly split between the two parties. That means America will accept either of these men as President. All we need is a good reason. If Gore cannot prove that there was any fraud or bias in the machine count, then he has lost. That has to be the standard on which the Florida Supreme Court decides whether or not to accept the hand recounted ballots. Gore needs to just pack up and bow out gracefully, and begin planning his 2004 campaign.

Let me conclude by saying that America will not tolerate this indecision much longer. It’s divisive, irritating, and insulting to our Constitution, our Founding Fathers, and every American who loves this country. I had hoped this mess would be over this weekend and I was distressed to find out it was not. The Florida Supreme Court has no business in this case, unless it is to simply uphold the law and rule that the hand counts were without cause and will not be included in the final tally. I pray that is what will happen, and quickly, because if it does not, we are going to see a long, technical, and extremely partisan legal battle, regardless of whatever the votes say. Remember, the longer this goes on, the more reluctant each candidate is going to be to bow out, especially if it goes on long enough to damage the person’s political career: he might see this as his only chance to be President and risk everything. If you thought Iran-Contra or the Clarence Thomas hearings or Bill Clinton’s impeachment were bad, you haven’t seen nothing yet. This is getting ugly, really ugly, and we’ve only seen the eyebrow of the monster.

Topic: [/politics]

Link

: EPL: Sunderland at Newcastle United

Newcastle’s Gary Speed missed a good chance twenty seconds in, but three minutes later he put in the rebound of his own header while lying on the ground in front of Sunderland’s goal. Sunderland had their own try ten minutes in, but it was brilliantly saved by keeper Given, who backpeddled to touch the ball over the crossbar. Sunderland seemed out of it by the end of the first half, but in the second they woke up with a great header goal by Hutchison. Not long after that Sunderland went up a goal when Niall Quinn put in a fantastic header. Sunderland’s momentum was lost, however, when hero Quinn’s takedown in the box resulted in a penalty kick for Newcastle. Striker Alan Shearer stepped up for the guaranteed goal — but Sunderland keeper Sorenson with his save of season blocked the shot! What a great game! Final: 2-1 underdogs Sunderland, putting them in ninth place, just behind Newcastle.

Topic: [/soccer]

Link

: Girl

Excellent small independent film about a high school senior finding herself. Dominque Swain (Lolita) plays an intellectual girl who has no identity — she doesn’t know what she wants in life. Everyone around her seems to her to be totally in control of who they are: pretty, talented, focused, etc. Then she becomes obsessed with a local rock star; the irony of such a smart mooning over a silly boy is entertaining, but as her character grows she slowly realizes that not only are others just as lost as she is, but that she isn’t as much of a nobody as she thought. Very well done. My favorite thing was Swain’s narration: she constantly says one thing in her narration and something completely different in real life, making for profundity and hilarity. (For instance, in one scene, coming home late, she waves to her parents and jovially narrates, “Hi! I’m not a virgin any more!” but then actually says, “Hi!”)

Topic: [/movie]

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: Dutch: FC Ultrecht at Roda JC

A fairly even first half, though Roda dominated and had several point blank shots that missed (including a miss on an open net that was scandalous). I thought the second half was going to be more of the same, but ten minutes in Ultrecht’s terrible defense left Lawal alone in the box. He took a nice pass and put it away. A beautiful play, but really poor marking by Ultrecht. Ultrecht fought back, getting some free kick opportunities, and then on a corner kick a player centered the ball with an overhead kick which Dombi nicely headed into the goal. The even battle continued until seven minutes left when Van Der Luer’s free kick bounced off a man on the wall to deflect into the goal. Ultrecht had their chance with seconds left, but their shot went into the side netting. That was it: 2-1 Roda.

Topic: [/soccer]

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Fri, Nov 17, 2000

: The Skulls

Interesting concept; it’s about a young man being accepted into a collegiate an elite secret society. Suddenly he’s given cash, a fancy car, and he college tuition is paid for. But then he discovers the society is a trap: once in, there’s no getting out. He’ll owe members favors for the rest of his life. Overall, the movie’s a bit pretentious, mistaking a slow pace and thoughtful looks for philosophical depth, and it tends to be predictable and nothing much happens. I still liked it for concept alone, but it’s only an okay film.

Topic: [/movie]

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Thu, Nov 16, 2000

: Romeo Must Die

Okay action flick with some nice scenes, but the writer seemed to think obtuse meant profound. In the end, rather predictable, but watchable, if you like Kung Fu action movies.

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Wed, Nov 15, 2000

: EPL: Derby County at Arsenal

The second place team against the worst place team: who will win? Yeah, right, like it’s even a contest. Well, it was. Derby was the stronger team at the start, but mostly they defended while the Gunners struggled to put together plays. In the end, neither team could defeat the other: a classic nil-nil draw. Bah humbug.

Topic: [/soccer]

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: World Cup Qualifier: U.S.A. at Barbados

Whew! This was a critical game for the United States: a loss and they miss going to the World Cup in 2002. They easily beat Barbados 7-0 at home, but in an away game, anything can happen. As if to prove that point, it started out poorly for the U.S., with the horrible, choppy, wet field creating havoc. The ball rolled awkwardly, passes missed their targets, and erratic bounces threatened an accidental goal. Barbados had a few chances, but the game really didn’t get going until about a half hour in, when Meola’s save ricocheted off a teammate to nearly rebound into his goal but hit the post. Mathis had a great chance for the U.S., but the wet ball didn’t allow a clean hit and struck the post. Late in the second half, with a mere half hour to go, the situation started looking nerve-wracking for the United States. Shots went wide or were saved, and Barbados looked dangerous on the occasional counter-attack. Then came the play of the game, when Joe-Max Moore brilliantly dribbled the ball up the endline and put back a nice center to Mathis who barely had to move to knock the ball into the goal. Things were dicey for a few minutes as I worried the Americans would relax too much, but then Eric Stewart was given an hour of time at the top of the box to line up his shot: his blast nearly punctured a hole in the far side netting. After that, the game really went to the United States. On a fantastic through-ball from Mathis, Cobi Jones darted in behind the Barbados defense and slipped the ball under Stout, their keeper. Then, in injury time, Ante Razov got a nice pass in the box and finished it easily. Final: 4-0 United States. The U.S. advances to the next round of qualifying (which continues through November 2001) where the top three teams (out of the United States, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico and Trinidad and Tobago, and either Guatemala or Costa Rica, depending on the outcome of their playoff game) will go to the World Cup finals in 2002.

Topic: [/soccer]

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Tue, Nov 14, 2000

: EPL: Middlesborough at Manchester United

The first part of the game was all Manchester, with shot after shot after shot. But nothing went in, and then in the thirty-second minute, Christian Karembou received the ball unmarked in the box and put in an awkward chip over United’s keeper and fellow Frenchman, Bartez, for a terrific goal (his first in the Premiership). Manchester looked out of sorts after that, but in the second half they peppered the Middlesborough goal with shots — but none went in. Just as it was starting to seem like Manchester was out of it, an opportunistic Nicky Butt scored. Just minutes later, Dwight Yorke’s point blank shot rebounded and Teddy Sherringham pounced on it to put United up 2-1. Once again, Man. U. comes back — they just can’t be defeated.

Topic: [/soccer]

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: Dutch: De Graafschap at Ajax

The Brazilian Wamberto got things going for Ajax in the sixth minute on a great through-ball that put him one-on-one with the keeper, and he didn’t miss his chance. Then Viscaal put in an amazing blast from the top of the arc to equalize in the 32nd minute. You’d have thought the stronger Ajax would have won easily, but it took a lot of work for them to move ahead. de Graafschap gave up a series of free kicks and corner kicks that culminated in a penalty kick for Ajax, which Chivu put away. Then Ajax took over, with a great goal by Van Der Gun on a ball played over the top of the defense. Van Der Gun got his second moments later on a blast inside the box. That was it: 4-1 Ajax, in a well-deserved win.

Topic: [/soccer]

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Mon, Nov 13, 2000

: La Liga: Real Zaragoza vs. Deportivo

Things were pretty routine in the first half until Diego Tristan put in a beauty late in the half. He received the ball at the far side of the penalty box and put in an elegant angled ball that easily beat the keeper. After the goal the game became a lot more competitive. About fifteen minutes into the second half, Tristan got his second on a long distance bomber that was gorgeous to watch. Zaragoza played well, but they couldn’t come back from two down. Final: 2-0 Deportivo.

Topic: [/soccer]

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: Serie A: Regina at Roma

Poor little Regina just couldn’t get it going in the first half, which was completely dominated by Roma. Roma’s only goal, however, came from a penalty kick by Totti. In the second half, Roma started off with Delvechio missing a keeperless net from eight yards out. Then Regina got their first shot on goal — and it went in! Bogdani put in a tremendous header from distance that went right at the base of the post where the keeper couldn’t get down fast enough. For fifteen minutes Regina looked like a real team, then Montella put in a great volley in the box on a feed from Totti. For a while it looked like Regina might make a second comeback, but it was not to be. Roma, while they won, should have done much better against such weak opposition. Final: 2-1 Roma.

Topic: [/soccer]

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Sun, Nov 12, 2000

: Sara Groves Concert#2

A year later, Sara Groves is back on her California tour, promoting her new album (Conversations) and her new baby, 11-week-old Kirby. As usual, she was excellent, blending entertaining and meaningful stories in between her excellent, moving songs. For example, she had the place rolling with her embarrassing stories of birds pooping on her (which happened four times in her life, once during a first date)! The story brought the audience close to her, however, and then she quickly turned the humor into seriousness by relating how embarrassing moments tend to happen when you’re trying to please other people, not God. That led into her song about “You face God alone,” reminding us that we aren’t validated by the people we try to impress, but by our relationship with God. Excellent. Download one of her songs from her website and give it a listen!

Topic: [/music]

Link

: Argentine: Rosario Central at Boca Juniors

Wild game with tons of goals. I missed the first half hour, when Delgado scored, but in the second half it was crazy. Caceres tied the score a few minutes in, but twenty minutes later Palermo took an excellent feed from Schelotto and slid the ball under the keeper. Boca’s joy was only temporary when Diaz put a header in the other goal. After some real battling, Boca went ahead of a Schelotto penalty kick. It seemed like it wasn’t to be Rosario’s day. But with seconds left in regulation, Caceres got his second goal on another header. Final: 3-3! Crazy!

Topic: [/soccer]

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Sat, Nov 11, 2000

: Serie A: Lazio at Juventus

Two of my favorite Italian teams clash and it was terrific! Juventus had the better play over all, but Lazio did what was needed to come away with a point. The first goal was scored by defender Igor Tudor, on a header off a corner kick. The ball went over Veron’s head (he was on the goal line) and hit the underside of the crossbar and went in. A few minutes later, Salas put in a great knuckling shot from distance. Even with the rain and everything, it should have been an easy stop for keeper Edwin Van der Sar as it was right at him, but he let the ball slip under his elbow for an easy equalizer. That was all the goals the game netted, but it was still a good game, with lots of chances, a couple redeeming saves for Van der Sar, and some quality attacking play on both sides. Juventus deserved the win, but they didn’t get it.

Topic: [/soccer]

Link

: Total Recall

Author: Based on story by Philip K. Dick

I felt like an action flick and this DVD suited my mood perfectly. It’s a classic: excellent science fiction story, good action, and nice plot twists. Not nearly as violent as I remembered, but every well done. The plot is about a guy who chooses to have a memory implant of a vacation to Mars (cheaper than the real thing), but the process awakens real memories of Mars. It turns out he’s a secret agent and everything about his life (family, wife, job, etc.) is nothing but a memory implant. It gets crazier from there. Based on the classic Philip K. Dick story (author of the book Bladerunner was based on), it’s a terrific trip of wondering what is real and what is not (central themes of much of Dick’s work).

The first time I saw this film was a real head trip: the whole time I kept thinking I’d seen it before, though I knew I hadn’t. It wasn’t until the very end that I figured out I’d read Dick’s short story as a child and the similarities were driving me insane. The overwhelming sense of deja vue I was suffering was literally making me nauseous. What this did, however, was immerse me into the film at a deeper level: I was the main character, trying to find my mind (and reality). Really, really cool.

Topic: [/movie]

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: EPL: Charlton Athletic at Ipswich Town

The clash of two promoted clubs (both were in the second division last season) proved to be a determined battle. For the first 80 minutes nothing much happened as the teams just scraped and struggled, but finally Ipswich came to life with a goal by Matt Holland (his first in the Premiereship), and a few minutes later Stewart did a terrific juggling act in the box to maneuver the ball into shooting position, scoring off a deflection. Final: 2-0 Ipswich.

Topic: [/soccer]

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Fri, Nov 10, 2000

: Charlie’s Angels

Director: McG

The original title of this movie was “Three Adorable Babes So We Don’t Need a Coherent Plot” (the title was rejected by focus groups who didn’t know what “coherent” meant). This is the kind of film I usually hate, as the plot is so nonsensical as to be worse than insulting, but this time is works. The angels are having so much fun and looking so cute doing it, you can’t help but join in. Everyone knows their dialog is corny, and the director rushes through critical plot elements so quickly it seems even he’s embarrassed to dwell on their stupidity, and the result is that you relax and just have some mindless fun. It’s pure eye candy. There really are four angels, not three, as Cameron Diaz’s butt gets enough screen time for a credit of its own. The director, obviously of MTV-influence, puts the film together like a series of music videos. The fight sequences are too

Topic: [/movie]

Link

: Videodrome

Author: David Cronenberg

Director: David Cronenberg

I love the bizarre and absurd, but this film didn’t quite work for me. It has lots of Cronenberg’s typical themes: the merging of biology and technology, reality vs. unreality, sexual horror, etc. The “plot” is about a TV producer who discovers a pirate feed of violent torture and decides it is what his on-the-edge cable station needs. Turns out “videodrome” is an electronic infection embedded in the signal, and the guy (wonderfully played by the always excellent James Woods) begins to hallucinate. Soon he (and us) can’t tell what is real and what is a dream. From there the plot descends into an uncomfortable mess of corporate bad guys, betrayal, assassination, and death.

As usual, Cronenberg is saying some profound things about society and how we are slaves to technology. For instance, his idea of the “Cathode Ray Mission” is brilliant: a place where the homeless can come watch TV for free (since TV is more important than food or shelter). But in much of the film Cronenberg’s ideas are just too convoluted to be of much use to anyone, and his violent, horror-filled presentation will turn off a lot of people. Overall, this is a fascinating work on the merging of television and the mind and one of Cronenberg’s best films, but it’s not the kind of film you can just sit down and enjoy: it’s more like something that attacks you. As Woods’ character says about a video in the film, “Watch out. It bites.”

Topic: [/movie]

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: Election Delay (Commentary)

Okay, I’ve just got to say something about this silly election. First, understand that I’m a disenfranchised voter. I’m one of the twenty million who voted for Perot, after all. Some might say I was crazy to vote for Perot, but before that, I’d never bothered to vote (though I was eligible). So Perot got me motivated. This election shows exactly why so few Americans bother to vote: it’s all partisan politics.

Now, a day or so ago, I was ready to say, “Flip a coin and get it over with!” After all, with the vote being 50-50 (and forget that nonsense about Gore winning the popular vote; the votes aren’t all in, and his lead is so slim as to be statistically nil), the country really doesn’t care which one gets put in. But then Gore began this dangerous, arrogant business of legally challenging the result, which has the potential of tearing the country in part. It could literally lead to riots and violence (look at the sit-ins and demonstrations in Florida, which right now are peaceful). People on both sides think they are morally right and that’s dangerous. So now, with Gore pulling this kind of legal maneuvering, I say, pull the plug on Gore and give the White House to Bush. (It’s not going to make any difference anyway, as there’s no mandate.)

Then last night MSNBC played a clip from Rush Limbaugh’s radio program. To demonstrate what a creep Gore is, Rush pointed out class by talking about how Missouri Senator and former Govenor John Ashcroft had reacted to “losing to a dead guy.”

First Ashcroft congratulated the people of Missouri for their compassion, then said he lost “because I simply didn’t get enough votes,” and he called Mel’s wife and told her sincerely, “I hope this win will ease the pain of your loss at least a tiny bit.” Then he refused any legal challenges to his loss (there are many who said he had grounds to overturn the result) and said he wouldn’t support anyone else making any legal challenge.

Contrast that to Gore, who’s going to keep the country in limbo for a few weeks while he desperately digs into graveyards for votes, stirring up the country and antagonizing the whole repub/demo thing. The hand-counting of ballets sounds extremely subjective: the counters are allowed to guess at the person’s intention

Enough! The votes are in, call the election, and move the country forward.

Topic: [/politics]

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Thu, Nov 09, 2000

: UEFA Cup: Liverpool at Slovan Liberec

Liverpool has been lackluster in the UEFA Cup to say the least. They inched by Liberec 1-0 at home so they had a slight lead coming in, but we really needed to see them perform well to have confidence for the future. Things started off poorly right off when Liberec scored with a glancing header off a corner kick. It looked like everything was going against the English club. But then, on a cross from a free kick, Nicky Barmby put in his own header in almost a duplicate of the Liberec goal. In the second half, things were mediocre until late when Liverpool came to life with a goal from Heskey. Clearly in control, 20-year-old hero and international superstar Michael Owen was put in the game with less than ten minutes to play. He’s been out injured and there were questions regarding his form. But within thirty seconds of coming on, on his first touch, he dribbled the ball at the top of the box past several defenders and put in a beauty that the keeper, while he got a touch to it, failed to stop! Brilliant! Liberec answered moments later with their own “Owen,” as substitute Breda put in a wonderful arching shot from outside the penalty area with his first touch, but that left the score 3-2 Liverpool, meaning that they advance to the next round. Finally, some life at Liverpool. Great to see Owen back. He’s awesome.

Topic: [/soccer]

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Wed, Nov 08, 2000

: Election Results

Wow, what a hilarious turn of circumstance! Last night when I went to bed Bush was President-Elect. Today he’s not, and we won’t officially know until tomorrow. Plus, Gore could win the popular vote while Bush wins the White House. Only in America.

Okay, I’ve got to vent a bit. If I hear another idiot talking head say that this election proves that “every vote counts” I am going to scream! This election proves the exact opposite. My vote didn’t count squat. If I lived in Florida, yes, my vote might have made a difference, but not in California. Enough of the Electoral College, folks! It’s out dated, insane, and incredibly lame. It’s time for one vote = one vote. No wonder so few people vote in the country. Not only is registration an incredible hassle (I’m still voting in a city I haven’t live in for seven years, because that’s where they have me registered, and whenever it’s election time it’s always too late for me to change it), but our vote doesn’t count anyway! I want to be able to vote on the Internet! I want my vote to count! I want to start my own country!

Topic: [/politics]

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: Champions League: Leeds United at A.C. Milan

After a last-minute tie against Barcelona, Leeds was in the position where they had to get something from this game: at least a draw to advance to the second round of the competition. Milan was already guaranteed to go through, so they had little to play for except for pride. The game started off poorly for Leeds when a very questionable handball penalty was called against them. Milan’s top striker Shevchenko stepped up… and hit the post! Leeds was still alive. The game was even after that, with Leeds getting very few chances, and Milan frighteningly close on occasion. Then, as we entered first half injury time, Leeds got a corner kick. Matteo headed the ball toward the near post and it beat the keeper! Leeds was ahead! In the second half, Milan stepped up the offense, with Shevchenko desperately trying to redeem himself, but it was Serginho who broke Leeds with a goal late in the game. After that, it was nail-biting time as Leeds tried to possess the ball and Milan occasionally went forward, but basically the game was over, both sides satisfied with a 1-1 draw. Milan wins the group, Leeds advance in second place, and “poor” Barcelona is knocked out!

Topic: [/soccer]

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Tue, Nov 07, 2000

: Shivers

Author: David Cronenberg

Director: David Cronenberg

Nice little thriller from the master of the bizarre, Cronenberg. This was his first film, but even it shows the touches of a genius. As typical of Cronenberg, the plot is absurd to the point of silliness — humans in a high-rise complex are infected by a parasite that makes them seek sexual pleasure — but Cronenberg directs the film with a seriousness that makes it believable. Some nice chills and bit of gore, but mostly fun. Watching the hero run from a sex-crazed crowd is hilarious — he’s running because they want to have sex with him, not hurt him (though sex will infect him with the parasite). Not quite as much profundity as I would have liked, but more than your average horror flick (interesting that this was made in a pre-AIDS era). Recommended for Cronenberg fans.

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Mon, Nov 06, 2000

: La Liga: Deportivo at Villarreal

Last year’s champs Deportivo got things going with a quirky goal from Djalminha. A fantastic through-ball was sent ahead of him toward the keeper and he just managed a touch to detour it around the keeper. Unfortunately, he’d hit it too hard to catch it and it seemed like it was going wide. But at the last moment it banged the post and spun in! EPSN2 lost the signal toward the end of the half and after a break they came back to reveal Villarreal had tied the score on a shot from Victor. The replay revealed it was an amazing strike from just outside the box. In the second half it was all Villarreal, who outplayed Deportivo, but like often happens in soccer, it was Deportivo who scored. Substitute Pandiani beat the offside trap and pushed the ball through the legs of the keeper! Villarreal were deflated for a while, but kept fighting, and with less than ten minutes left, Victor scored his second with a shot from outside the top corner of the box, low and past the keeper. It looked for certain we were heading for a 2-2 draw. But in injury time, Moises ran onto a desperate cross that was going just in front of the goal, and he scarcely had to touch it to put it in. The giant was toppled and the crowd went mad! Final: 3-2 Villarreal.

Topic: [/soccer]

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: EPL: Arsenal at Middlesbrough

With Middlesbrough in such lowly form, how would they fare against powerhouse Arsenal? They did not start off well: in the 23rd minute keeper Crossley violently took down Lundberg in the box and not only gave Arsenal a penalty kick but was ejected! Substitute keeper Beresford was quickly put in to face the penalty, but Frenchman Henry easily scored. Beresford did well, making several excellent saves late in the half, but with Middlesbrough down to ten men, it didn’t look good for the home side. But Middlesbrough came back determined and played well. Arsenal sat back except for a few counters, including some impressive play by Henry (he played provider several times, and hit the post once). Other than a few shining moments, however, the game was weak, as Arsenal played defense (in a game they should have won by a large margin) and ten-man Middlesbrough struggled for any kind of quality offense. Final: 1-0 Arsenal.

Topic: [/soccer]

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: EPL: West Ham at Derby County

These two are near the bottom of the table and I didn’t expect much, though the battle was fiercely contested. Neither team could score in the first half, though both had chances. Derby had the possession in the second half, but couldn’t do anything with it, and West Ham’s big money players failed to break the Derby defense. Lame. Final: 0-0.

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: Dutch: Ajax at Willem II

Willem dominated in the early part of the game, but Ajax struck in the 11th minute. Machlas’ low grounder was going wide of the goal, but it was just outside of the keeper’s reacher. Brazilian winger Wamberto ran onto it and amazingly put it in from the end line, just over the diving keeper’s fingers. After that, except for the occasional counter-attack, Willem was on their heels as Ajax pressed forward. In the second half, Willem really tried, and had the superior play, but couldn’t capitalize. They had numerous chances, but either the shots went wild or Ajax’s Grimm made the key stop (he had several nice saves). And that was it: 1-0 Ajax, for their first win on the road this season.

Topic: [/soccer]

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: Serie A: Roma at Brescia

Brescia hasn’t won a game all season, so one was surprised, to say the least, when they led at the half! Candela started things off for Roma in the 13th minute, but nine minutes later Bisoli leveled things for the smaller club. A penalty kick at the 45 minute mark put Brescia ahead going into the half, but the second half was all Roma as they pressed and Brescia tried to play defense. Brescia’s keeper made a spectacular double-save early on, but then Batistuta scored off a long shot that bounced to him off the post. He did the same thing again eighteen minutes later when Cafu’s shot hit the post and felt right at his feet. Then, in injury time, Batigoal got a terrific feed from Delvechio and put it away sweetly. Final: 4-2 Roma!

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Sun, Nov 05, 2000

: Serie A: Bologna at Lazio

Bologna’s been doing very well this season, but this game showed they’re still not in the class of a club like Lazio. Early in the game Salas made a great run up the side, amazingly dribbling past about four defenders (nutmegging the last one). Once in the box he delivered an angled cross back toward the top of the box where my favorite Czeck Nedved ran on to it and put it away (the keeper was marking Salas on the near side). In the second half, it was Crespo, taking a nice through-ball and doing just enough to get it past the keeper. Good game, but all Lazio: 2-0.

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: Dutch: Twente Enschede at PSV Eindhoven

Once again, the big club dominates, with PSV scoring by Ramzi ten minutes in. In the second half Twente hit the post and the rebound turned into a great counter in which Twente’s keeper had to make a terrific save. But in minute 66 a poor clearance from Twente on a corner kick and the Finn Kolkka made a great trap for his first touch, and scored with the second. That was all the scoring, though the game had some good action, injuries, and yellow cards. Final: 2-0 PSV.

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Fri, Nov 03, 2000

: Serie A: Roma at Intermilan

A big mid-week match for these two top clubs, I expected a battle and got it. After some Roma domination early on, Inter got a boost with the first goal. New signing Turkish genius Sukur misplaced his shot to give Roma’s keeper a save, but what did he do on the resulting corner kick? Head the ball into the net, of course! In the second half, Roma torn into the Inter defense again and again, but nothing they did resulted in a goal. Then, with about twenty minutes left, a fantastic turn-and-shoot move from Recoba put Inter up 2-0, and that was all that it took to sent Roma home with their heads hanging.

Topic: [/soccer]

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Thu, Nov 02, 2000

: Dutch: Vitesse Arbgen at PSV Einhoven

Two good teams clash with passion and vigor. PSV started things off with a terrific goal from Finn Kolkka in the 10th minute — he dribbled through the heart of the defense and put in a cracker shot that went through the legs of a defender and beat the keeper. Vitesse struggled hard, but could do nothing, and finally in the 90th minute PSV scored another. A shot was saved amazingly by the Vitesse keeper, but the rebound went to the dreaded Kolkka, who finished it with class and finesse. Final: 2-0 PSV.

Topic: [/soccer]

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: Worthington Cup: Chelsea vs. Liverpool

Terrific game! Incredible, skilled soccer on both sides. Lots of 10-12 touch passing combinations leading to offensive play. It was the best I’ve seen Liverpool play in a long time. Liverpool started things off with a goal from the left side from Murphy, who put across a grounder from a tight angle that managed to go between the defenders running on and beating the keeper at the far post. Chelsea didn’t answer until late in the half with a easy goal from the tiny Italian Zola (one of my favorite players). Combination play and a run up the left side left Zola alone in the box, and a perfect cross meant he got a chance to head it into the goal standing about two feet from the goal line! Zola doesn’t miss chances like that. In the second half the good play continued, but the defenses of both teams played just as good. Late in the game things got a bit chippy, especially when the game went into overtime (where we saw a flurry of yellow cards). But it was Robbie Fowler who put in the winner: he received the ball with his right foot, knocking it down to his left, and one-timed a low straight-as-an-arrow shot just inside the post. And that was it! Chelsea’s knocked out of the Worthington Cup, Liverpool goes on, 2-1.

Topic: [/soccer]

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Wed, Nov 01, 2000

: Seminar: Guy Kawasaki’s Rules For Revolutionaries

This evening I went to Lighthouse Venture Forum’s premiere event at Peachwoods restaurant, with special speaker Guy Kawaksaki (former Apple Fellow, CEO of garage.com, and author of Rules for Revolutionaries, The Macintosh Way, and other classic books). The place was filled with nearly 200 people, many of them CEOs of local companies such as Aladdin Systems, Thuridion, Tartan Technologies, and many others; I recognized a number of SVP’s printing customers. Guy’s presentation was amazing. He has such a flare for speaking, so relaxed and comfortable and witty he makes you feel the same. Nearly every sentence out of his mouth was a clever phrase, designed for you to remember (such as “Eat like a bird, poop like an elephant” — his way of saving absorb information and spread it around, not just in your own company, but in your entire industry). He actually gave several presentations (each about 15 minutes), and he had a question-and-answer follow-up. Full of excellent tips on entrepreneurship, business development, and securing venture capital funding, he had the crowd laughing at his great stories and hilarious examples of business stupidity (including making fun of both Microsoft and Apple, calling “Apple Marketing” an oxymoron, and saying, “If Apple had licensed the Mac OS in 1987 the desktop market would be 95% Mac and 5% Linux.”). Guy managed to offend most of the audience in one way or another, making Santa Cruz, women, men, guys with goatees who drive German cars and wear Armani, and other groups the butt of his jokes. It was hilarious, considering the CEO of Thuridion, founding member of the conference, drives a German car and has a goatee! (Even better was Guy’s attack on Herman Miller chairs: he declared that if a start-up buys Aeron chairs they are guaranteed to fail. In fact, he’s banned them at garage.com. I was at the Thuridion table, where the CEO was turning purple: everyone at Thuridion has an Aeron chair!) Note that Guy handled all this very well — when he realized the event’s sponsor had Aeron chairs he tried to use a different chair in his example, but finally gave up and picked on Herman Miller anyway. It was all in fun, but made a serious point about not wasting money just for the impression money creates. If you ever get the chance to hear Guy speak, take it. You’ll remember it for the rest of your life!

Topic: [/event]

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: EPL: Newcastle at West Ham

I’d already heard the result of this game (which was played on Saturday, but aired today), so I wasn’t too excited. I don’t know why Fox Sports World decided to air this game, as it wasn’t great. There was a few moments of spirited battle, with Given making a great one-handed save in the first half, and Newcastle having some chances in the second. West Ham’s young Joe Cole was terrific, really creating some opportunities in the second half, but then he was injured and had to leave the game. West Ham finally managed a goal by Frenchman Kunoute in the 76th minute — he received a terrific through-pass from a teammate and he took the shot first time, essentially continuing the motion of the through-pass, beating Given. Very well done, but that was it. West Ham, 1-0.

Topic: [/soccer]

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