Wed, Feb 28, 2001

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

AWESOME GAME! This begins the first of ten brutal final games that will determine which three teams from the CONCACAF region go to World Cup 2002. It is critical the U.S. do well, but fifteen minutes into the game, our best striker, Brian McBride, had to be taken out of the game with an injury. He’d bonked heads with a Mexican player and his right eye swelled up horrendously — I’ve never seen anything like it. His eyebrow was the size of a baseball, swollen so big it closed his eye and he couldn’t see. A half hour after that, the engine of the American team, Claudio Reyna, had to be taken out because of a groin strain. Terrible, just terrible, and Mexicans were really pressing the U.S. Remember, in international play only three substitutions are allowed per team per game, and we’d used two in the first half. The game was played in Columbus, Ohio, in twenty degree weather, and it sure looked like doom was in the air. But just two minutes into the second half, the two substitutes worked major. Clint Mathis, of the New York/New Jersey Metrostars, put in a fantastic 50-yard ball over the back line of the Mexican defense. Speedster Josh Wolff, in terrific form at the Olympics in Australia, burned up the track, rushing past the defenders to grab the ball and run upfield. Mexican keeper Jorge Campos raced out to stop him, but wasn’t quick enough to beat Wolff. Wolff’s touch bounced the ball against Campos and came back, hitting Wolff and going forward. It was a bit of luck and a bit of opportunism, but Josh did well to grab the loose ball and coolly put it in the back of the empty goal. The U.S. led 1-0. After that the Mexicans went all out to defeat the U.S. The took off defenders and put in attackers, and pushed and pushed, but the U.S. held well. A couple of times Brad Friedel, the American keeper, had to make a save, but the U.S. defense was so good he really wasn’t tested. Still, in such a close game, anything can happen, and the packed stadium held their breath for 42 minutes. That’s when Mathis and Wolff combined again, with another long ball and Wolff running toward the corner flag, obviously attempting to waste time. But suddenly he broke free, miraculously dribbling out of a maze of Mexican defenders and running up the end line toward the goal. His sidefooted pass was glorious, perfectly placed, splitting the Mexican defenders, and going right into the path of the onrushing Ernie Stewart. Stewart didn’t waste his opportunity — he just blasted it into the goal. Wow, not only was the U.S. winning, they were winning well. And this was without two of our key players! Amazing, and a real triumph of American soccer. It might be premature or overkill to say it, but from what I saw, this game marks a new day in American soccer. A decade from now we just might look back at this game as being the start of something amazing. From the Olympics to the full national squad, young Americans are proving that they can play the world’s game. Remember, this wasn’t a Sunday match-up: World Cup qualifying games are taken extremely seriously around the world. To put this in perspective, in 90 World Cup qualifiers Mexico has only lost 10 times. Think about that! And make it eleven. Final: 2-0 U.S.A.

Topic: [/soccer]

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: Bundesliga: B. Dortmund at Schalke

Boring game. All rough fouls, yellow cards, and shots over the bar. Maybe one or two good saves from the keepers, but mostly everything was dreadfully off target. Final: 0-0 boredom.

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: Champions League: Galatasaray at Deportivo

Good game, but the Turkish club was sadly out-classed. They could do little against the Spanish champs, who were really in form. Victor scored first just 40 minutes in, and Djalminha added in a penalty kick in the 72nd minute, but the 2-0 scoreline doesn’t show what a one-sided affair it really was.

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Tue, Feb 27, 2001

: Champions League: Bayern Munich at Spartak Moscow

It was miserably cold and snowy in Moscow, and the field was a muddy mess, but both teams gave it their all. Bayern moved ahead early when Scholl put in a great shot seventeen minutes in. Elber passed him the ball and he ran onto it, kicking it between two onrushing defenders to blast it past the keeper. Spartak really fought back but couldn’t break the German side. In the second half a bad play on a counterattack gave Bayern a penalty kick and it was Scholl who roofed it to give his team a two goal lead. But that wasn’t enough: substitute Paulo Sergio entered late into the game to head in a great goal with just minutes left. Final: 3-0 Munich.

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Mon, Feb 26, 2001

: EPL: Aston Villa at Derby County

Despite the low score, this was a fun game to watch. Derby succeeded in getting a penalty kick late in the first half. Deon Burton took it and scored, putting them up, and though there were chances and crossbar shots the rest of the game, neither team gave up or scored a goal. Derby actually win for once! Final: 1-0 Derby.

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: Serie A: A.C. Milan at Juventus

Great game! Juventus is in form and soaring, while Milan still can’t quite figure out what game they are playing. Defender Tudor started things for Juve, scoring just nine minutes in. After that, Juventus settled down into defensive mode and when they do that, few teams can catch up. In the second half Milan began to press forward more and more desperately, and finally it cost them, when Inzaghi scored in the 67th minute. His first shot was blocked, and he fell down in the box, but managed to scramble to play the ball while lying on the ground, beating the keeper and scoring! Zidane added to Milan’s injury with a cheeky goal in injury time. His chip went over the keeper and curled perfectly into the net. Fantastic! Final: 3-0 Juventus.

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Sun, Feb 25, 2001

: UEFA Cup: Stuttgart at Celta Vigo

Good game. Watched the first half last night, where Celta started things off quick with a goal from Karpin, but Stuttgart came back with a goal in the dying seconds from Blank. But though the German team controlled the second half, they couldn’t score, and it was Mostovoi who made the most of his slight chance to put the Spanish club ahead. Final: 2-1 Celta Vigo.

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: Worthington Cup Final: Liverpool v. Birmingham City

Terrific cup tie. This was the final, so a winner would be determined one way or another. No replays. Liverpool started things off well, and everything looked good when Robbie Fowler put in a top-notch goal. His keeper, Vesterveld, put in a long ball which Heskey nodded down, right to Fowler, who delivered a brilliant shot. Three touches and the ball was in the back of the net! Birmingham held on, fighting for every scrape, and the game was filled with lots of near chances and close shots. But it looked like it was to be Liverpool’s day. Then, with two minutes of injury time expired, the ref suddenly called a penalty kick against Liverpool. Disaster! Birmingham’s main penalty kick taker was injured on the play and off the field, so Purse stepped and finished beautifully, as though there was no pressure at all. That sent the game into 30 minutes of overtime. During the overtime play there were some critical saves, and one foul that should have been another penalty kick for Birmingham, but the ref didn’t call that one (it was far more blatant than the first). Finally, the game went to penalty kicks. The first kicker for Birmingham missed his, putting them behind, but several Liverpool kickers later, one missed, and the two teams were even again. They went to a sixth kick, and Liverpool scored, but then, sadly, Birmingham’s player missed, meaning they lost the game. It was hard for the player — he’d done excellent during the game. So Liverpool win their first hardware in years, and take home the Worthington Cup!

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: Cecil B. Demented

Author: John Waters

Director: John Waters

Waters’ big budget pictures just aren’t as much fun as his low budget spoofs. It’s partly the nature of his type of humor: he tends to take one premise and do a whole film, and the more Hollywood movies just can’t support a one joke premise. This one is a great idea: a mockery of independent and big budget moviemaking via a renegade filmmaker who kidnaps a Hollywood A-list starlet and forces her to be in his film attacking Hollywood. There are some great lines, a fair amount of crudity, some excellent satire, but in the end it seems like a lot of fuss over nothing. Waters fans will enjoy it, of course, but the average viewer won’t find too much too cheer.

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: EPL: Charlton Athletic at Coventry City

Surprisingly good game. Coventry scored early, to the shock of everyone, when Bellamy put in a ball the Charlton keeper fumbled. But Charlton were back minutes later when Rufus put in a similar silly goal at the other end. After the mistakes, there were good goals in the second half, starting with Charlton’s Johansson volleying in a shot just seconds after the kickoff to put them ahead. But Coventry somehow found a way to equalize when Hartson’s missed kick caught just enough of the ball to allow it to trickle over the goalline. Crazy. Final: 2-2.

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Sat, Feb 24, 2001

: What Lies Beneath

Author: Clark Gregg and Sarah Kernochan

Director: Robert Zemeckis

Odd little thriller about a woman seeing ghosts. Doesn’t seem like much, and the casting of huge stars Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer seems overdone, at least at first. But both relish these small, simple roles, performing them with appropriate subtlety. As the movie continues, it grows more complex, and though ultimately the plot is predictable and less than satisfying, the film delivers some nice chills. Excellent directing, with Zemeckis milking the minimalists scenes to good effect. The long climactic bathtub scene is a classic masterpiece, never rushed, and fits in perfectly with the low-key style of the film. (It reminds me a great deal of the flashbulb scene in Hitchcock’s Rear Window.) After that things go overboard and there’s too much action for a psychological film, but the end result is still a decent thriller.

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Fri, Feb 23, 2001

: Bundesliga: Energie Cottbus at Bayern Leverkusen

Crazy game. Cottbus is at the bottle and Leverkusen’s just two points behind leaders Bayern Munich, and Cottbus haven’t even won a single away game all season, so I figured this was an easy one for Leverkusen. It was not. A half hour in Mirluta scored on a breath-taking free kick, and just ten minutes after that Labak increased the lead to two. In the second half Leverkusen were just as bad, giving up a second goal to Mirluta on the hour mark, and only getting a consolation goal from Ze Roberto with fifteen minutes left. Leverkusen really looked dismal. Final: 3-1 Energie Cottbus, with their first away win of the season.

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: Battlefield Earth

Author: L. Ron Hubbard

Director: Roger Christian

Huh? I’d heard terrible things about this and expected that it couldn’t possibly be that bad. It’s not. At least if you liked the book, it’s not, as it’s close to the book to be mildly interesting. If you hated the book you’ll hate the film. It essentially strips out all the unusual, interesting parts of the book and only keeps the action scenes. Incomprehensibly, however, the film makes astonishingly primitive and foolish errors. For instance, John Travolta plays an alien, a Psychlos named Terl. Yet he and the other Psychlos are nearly indistinguishable from the humans. Psychlos are supposed to be huge creatures, nine feet tall, and there’s some awkward camera work to almost make that illusion happen, but then all the Psychlos machinery, chairs, etc. are human-sized! The pace of the whole film is rushed to the point of incomprehensibility — key lines of dialog are thrown away or grunted in strange incomprehensible accents — if you haven’t read the book I doubt anything would make sense. But so much of the book is tossed out that what’s left doesn’t make sense anyway. And there are weird technical mistakes, such as the matter transportation special effect which was so badly done you couldn’t figure out what was happening. I mean come on, Star Trek had that working in the sixties! And what was up with the acting? Performances varied all over the place, with the human hero played by Barry Pepper absolutely terribly, just a mishmash of rebellion and toughness. Now there were a few good things: I thought Travolta did a good job conveying the sliminess of Terl, and the special effects of planet Psychlos were fine, but the story just didn’t mesh. It’s an epic tale told by a kindergarten teacher, reduced of all complexity and science. Next time, get a decent script and director. I was shocked after the film was over to discover that the director, whom I was positive was a no-talent MTV video hack doing his first feature, is an industry veteran who’s been making films since the 1970’s (even winning an Academy Award for a short) and came personally recommended by George Lucas. Have we really sunk this low? Seventy percent of the problems of this film came from the director, the rest from the script (which wasn’t that bad, though it had some serious deficiencies in places). Watching the pompous director on the DVD compare Hubbard’s novel to Frank Herbert’s Dune is not only an insult, it shows how little this guy about science fiction and literature. He ought to have to pay money to every person who suffered through this turkey.

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Thu, Feb 22, 2001

: UEFA Cup: Roma at Liverpool

With a two-zip result in the first leg, Liverpool was sitting pretty. But if people thought Roma was going to take an English loss sitting down, they were mistaken. Roma came out fighting and set an incredible pace, forcing Liverpool into some frantic clearances. But by the end of the first half, it was still zero-zero. An hour in, Liverpool were given a gift penalty kick, but Michael Owen rushed his shot, sending in an easy sidefoot for the Roma keeper to block. That energized Roma, and soon the Uruguayan Guigou took the ball outside the penalty box and put in a stunning shot that curled into the goal. Amazing. Stunned, Liverpool fought back desperately, but it looked like it might be Roma’s day when they were awarded a penalty for a handball. But seconds later, the ref changed his mind and gave a corner kick instead. Roma players protested violently and the ref gave out a slew of yellow cards, but he didn’t change his mind and give the penalty kick (which was questionable). One of those yellows ultimately resulted in a Roma player being ejected for a second one toward the end, and the last few minutes of the game were incredibly exciting as ten-man Roma gave everything they could. But though Roma won, 1-0, it’s Liverpool who advance to the quarterfinals, on the merit of their two away goals in Rome.

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Wed, Feb 21, 2001

: Serie A: Lecce at Roma

Roma looked the stronger from the start, though obtaining goals was tough. They finally managed in the second half, when defender Walter Samuel received a cross and headed in a goal. It was his first goal in the Serie A, and it proved to be the game winner. Final: 1-0 Roma.

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: EPL: Liverpool at Sunderland

I have to be honest: I slept through most of this game. I did see the goals, however. The first half was nil-nil. Just as I was dozing off in the second, Hutchinson put one in for Sunderland, and toward the end of the game, Litmanen tied it up for Liverpool on a penalty kick. That’s about all I remember. Final: 1-1 draw.

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: Champions League: Lazio vs. Real Madrid

Real Madrid is at the top of their group while Lazio hasn’t had a single win, but Lazio started things off boldly with a goal by Nedved in the fourth minute. His shot went through the legs of a defender, then went through the legs of the surprised keeper! Crazy goal, but they all count. Though Real Madrid had the most possession, Lazio looked more dangerous. So it was odd that the next goal was Madrid’s, when Solari scored in the 32nd minute. Shortly into the second half Lazio regained the lead when Crespo poached a goal with pure persistence. But a perfect cross onto Raul’s head allowed his header to tie the score with less than twenty minutes left. I thought there would be more scoring, but that was it. Madrid was happy with a tie. Since Leeds United won their game, Leeds and Real Madrid advance to the quarterfinals while Lazio’s Champions League dreams are over for this season (even though there are two matches left, Leeds and Madrid have so many points the others can’t catch up). Final: 2-2 draw.

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Tue, Feb 20, 2001

: Bundesliga: Bayern Munich at Unterhaching

A slow game, with Bayern forgetting to show up. Unterhaching’s a tough, tenacious team, especially at home. The first half was a nil-nil draw, but in the second, Unterhacking put together a great series of passes which left Spizak open to shoot. He finished beautifully, putting the ball past a diving Oliver Khan. Bayern fought back, but it seemed like destiny was against them this day. Final: 1-0 Unterhaching.

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: Serie A: Bologna at A.C. Milan

I managed to stay awake through this one. Partly because I got up and had a late supper (soup, of course, since I’m sick), but also because the game was so exciting. Milan was out for revenge, having lost the game at Bologna earlier in the season, and they started off with two cheeky goals against the run of play by Shevchenko. It looked like it was all Milan, and though Bologna had been playing well, they’d given up two goals. Then, late in the first half, Cipriani pushed into the box and forced Italian great Pablo Maldini to foul him. The ref awarded a penalty, and just before the half, it seemed like the idea time to narrow the lead. But the Bologna player missed the penalty kick! So it was still a two-goal lead for Milan. In the second half, however, as the commentators were complimenting Cipriani’s play (this was only his sixth Serie A appearance and his first start), he scored a goal. Scoring a goal in your first start is incredible, and Cipriani was ecstatic. But there was more. In the 75th minute, Cipriani leaped up to intercept a cross, beating Maldini, and caught the ball perfectly with his head. It ricochetted into the net with the force of a kick! Bologna had come back from two down to tie the score! Cipriani was suddenly a Bologna hero. Tears were running down his face as he celebrated his score. Unbelievable to do that your first start. That just doesn’t happen except in books. But Cipriani wasn’t done. As Bologna pressed, he managed to draw a defender away, leaving space for Signori, who put in a third for Bologna. The Bologna bench and fans were mad with joy. This was unheard of, to come to power-house Milan and beat them on their own turf (and hadn’t happened since the 1960s), especially starting the game two goals down. But the joy was pre-mature. Though only seconds remained in the game, a mistake by Olive, substituted just a minute earlier for Locatelli, who’d pulled his hamstring, gave the ball to Sala, who tied the score for Milan. Twenty minutes earlier Bologna would have been delighted with a tie, and Milan crushed, but now it was Milan who breathed a sigh of relief and Bologna who were disappointed to come so close and miss victory. Great game! Final: 3-3.

Topic: [/soccer]

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: Portland Trip

Friday I flew up to Oregon for the three-day weekend. The flight up was delayed for an hour by an “emergency”… the coffee pot was broken (we also didn’t have a pilot, but that was a minor detail). By Sunday I had caught my uncle’s flu, and Monday evening I was not feeling well at all. For some reason my stomach was ridiculously upset. I totally felt like vomiting even before I got on the plane (which was thirty minutes late departing). The flight was hell. I threw up once in the bathroom, and I couldn’t sleep at all. Just miserable. When we finally got near SFO, the pilot came on and said we were going into a holding pattern because of bad weather at SFO they wouldn’t let us land. After thirty minutes of that, they decided to land at Oakland airport instead, as we were running out of fuel. That descent, through a violent rainstorm, was worse than hell. At one point we dropped 20 feet in half-a-second. All the passengers gasped and I saw the people in front of me rise up out of their seats we dropped so fast. If I hadn’t been so sick, I’d have been terrified. As it was, crashing seemed like a pleasant alternative. I don’t really remember the actually touchdown, which occurred a few minutes later, as I had my head in the barf bag. Once we’ve arrived at Oakland, we were told the plane would refuel and in one to three hours we’d head to SFO, once the weather cleared. Well, it was already almost midnight. Waiting for several more hours before I could get to my car and drive two hours home in my condition did not seem like a great plan. And knew positively, absolutely, that I was not going to survive another take-off and landing that night. So I deplaned at Oakland and called my Aunt, who was gracious enough to pick me up and let me stay at her place. On Tuesday she gave me a ride to SFO where I got my car to come home. Now I’m in bed, trying to recover from this flu. I only slept twelve hours yesterday, I think I’ll go back to bed.

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Thu, Feb 15, 2001

: EPL: Coventry at West Ham

This game was a lot of hard work with very little payoff. But when it came, it was sweet indeed. West Ham struggled against bottom-of-the-league Coventry, but couldn’t break them until very late in the game. Joe Cole cleaned up a mess in the box by side footing the ball into the goal. Very nice. For Coventry, it certainly looked like they are heading for Division One next year. But miraculously, with thirty seconds to go, they came up with a goal! Eustice headed in a weak ball that came off his shoulder but it went in. Like they say about airplane landings, any goal that counts is a good one. Final: 1-1 West Ham.

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: Bundesliga: Bayern Munich at Stuttgart

An affair you’d expect top Bayern to win and sure enough, Elber started things off just seven minutes in. A simple pass put three Bayern players behind the Stuttgart defense, and Elber was open for a tap-in. But that seemed to be enough for Bayern: they clearly dominated, though Stuttgart had some chances in the second half, and that was all they wanted. Final: 1-0 Bayern.

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Wed, Feb 14, 2001

: La Liga: Villarreal at Oviedo

Great game. Villarreal just signed Martin Palermo from Boca Juniors; this was his second game. It started off badly for the visitors, however: in the dying seconds of the first half Oviedo was awarded a penalty kick because of a hand ball in the box. Worse, the player received his second yellow: he was sent off. So Villarreal was going to have to play the entire second half with ten men and a goal down. How could they come back? Well, whatever the coach said sure worked! Villarreal not only came back, they walloped Oviedo. It started when Palermo got his first La Liga goal: it was a cheeky poach goal, with him sticking his foot out to catch the end of a bouncing ball off a corner kick. You’ve got to clear those corner kicks, Oviedo! Then Unai scored just three minutes later on a free kick. Eight minutes after that Jorge Lopez added one of his own and Oviedo was down and out. I love comebacks! Final: 3-1 Villarreal.

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: EPL: Manchester United at Chelsea

Cool game, though once again Man. U’s luck goes farther than it should. Chelsea took the lead on a goal from Hasselbaink: it was a gift from Paul Scholes. He tried to head the ball back to his keeper, but it went right to Hasselbaink and he headed it forward into the goal. It took United a while to get back from that, and it could have been all over early in the second half when Zola’s goal was called back. He and the United keeper were by the corner flag and Zola won, kicking the ball toward the empty goal. It went in. But the ref said the ball had gone out near the corner so the goal didn’t count. I think the ref was right, but it was a close call. The two teams battled furiously after that, then Cole was given a nice through-pass from Giggs and he equalized with his first touch. That was it. Final: 1-1.

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Mon, Feb 12, 2001

: Serie A: Roma at Bologna

Roma’s just unstoppable. Bologna’s a good team, but they’ve been struggling of late, and Roma made them look like a Serie B team. The game started off quickly with a penalty kick awarded to Roma, and Batistuta easily put it away. Then a Bologna player stupidly kicked a Roma player while the whole world watched. He tried to do it sneakily, but it was obvious was he was doing. He was immediately given a red card and he had the gall to argue! Down to ten men, Bologna had an uphill battle, and that was made even worse since they couldn’t control the Roma team. In one of the most brilliant displays of teamwork I’ve ever seen, the Roma players took the ball into the Bologna penalty area and dribbled it around, passing and shooting at will. The ball kept ping-ponging around, resembling a pinball machine. Somehow, though, the ball always returned to a Roma player. Finally it fell to the Brazilian Emerson, back for his first game since being sidelined with a terrible knee injury, and he quickly drilled the ball into the back of the net. Very cool, very deserved. In the second half, Roma came back with a goal stolen by Brioschi, but Roma just clammed up and wouldn’t let anything else go through. And that was that. Final: 2-1 Roma.

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Sun, Feb 11, 2001

: Bundesliga: Energie Cottbus at Eintracht Frankfurt

Odd game. A real scraper at the bottom of the league, so that was interesting, but there was only one goal, which was frustrating because the game deserved more for all the hard effort put in. Heldt scored for Frankfurt in the 65th minute, and it was a good goal, but Cottbus never really got into the game. Final: 1-0 Frankfurt.

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Sat, Feb 10, 2001

: Hannibal

Author: Thomas Harris (novel)

Director: Ridley Scott

First, let me say I liked the book — most critics did not. The film is very similar to the book, except at the very end. Why they changed the ending, I don’t know: I thought that was the crux of the book. For me, it was Harris’ statement about society and the way we celebrate and glorify criminals (haven’t you seen a Charles Manson T-shirt?). But I can see why people didn’t like the book — it’s very different from Silence of the Lambs. That didn’t bother me; I liked the humor and cheesy thrills. Harris gave the audience exactly what they wanted: a sequel, with lots of Hannibal.

That said, the early buzz on the film was that it wasn’t going to be good. So I wanted to see it early, before I had my mind distorted by the media. I’m glad I did, because I liked the movie. It was loyal to the book in most regards, and well-directed and written. It would have been better with the original ending, and there were some confusing and rushed portions: Mason Verger’s gory history was poorly edited and incomprehensible for those who haven’t read the book, and the new ending was filled with bizarre inaccuracies and “clever” plot points which made no sense. The film is certainly not going to win Oscars for anyone; it is not the least bit ground-breaking like the earlier film. But it’s a fun ride. Think of it like the new super roller coaster put in to replace the old one. There are many of the same thrills, and it’s good fun, but it will never be as good as the original.

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: Life on Earth

Great film if you love Africa, especially West Africa. Part of the “Celebration 2000” event, this was directed by a West African to show his view of the changeover to 2000. He lives in Europe and shows comparisons between the fast-paced, product-filled life of Europe versus the monotony of life in the African bush. His conclusion is appropriate: that the year 2000 means nothing in the bush, that nothing will change, and things won’t get better. I don’t take quiet such a negative view of bush life (it strikes me as almost idyllic in many ways, though of course starving isn’t fun). The photography is spectacular, especially on the widescreen DVD. There’s lots of humor (telephone communication madness, colorful black-and-white photography, etc.). Excellent. Only an hour long, it feels much longer as much of it is designed to show the slow, boring life of an African village. The film made me homesick (I grew up in West Africa).

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Tue, Feb 06, 2001

: EPL: Everton at Manchester United

Pretty good game, though unfair for Everton, since they dominated the game. But once again, Man. U.’s luck runs strong. Cole put in a shot early in the second half and when an Everton defender tried to block it, it deflect into his own goal. After that, Man. U. just held on. American Joe-Max Moore got to start this game, and he had a few good moves, including a terrific shot which was saved by the keeper. Final: 1-0 Manchester United.

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Mon, Feb 05, 2001

: Serie A: Roma at Parma

Excellent game. Roma had the initial momentum, but then, amazingly, Captain Totti missed his penalty kick! (He’s normally a perfect penalty kick taker.) Parma took momentum from that to score their own goal, by DiVaio in the 36th minute. Roma fought back in the second half, but while exciting, nothing was going in. Then Batistuta decided to get involved. In the 74th minute he put in a fantastic volley to tie the score. Even more amazing, nine minutes later, he did the same thing again! Incredible goals. Final: 2-1 Roma.

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Sun, Feb 04, 2001

: Serie A: Juventus at Atalanta

Amazing game, with everything on top. Juventus is almost always good, but Atalanta, though they started off the season well, have been struggling of late. Both are near the top of the table. The first hour of this game was routine, with neither team dominating or creating much. But then, late in the game, both teams started to play. Juventus began pushing forward aggressively, and this paid off when a gorgeous cross from Zinedine Zidane was missed by Inzaghi but headed into the goal by an opponent (Paganin). With that lead, you’d expect Juventus to win handily, as they are infamous for 1-0 victories. But just seconds later, in the 75th minute, Atalanta struck back. Off the kickoff the ball was played down the right wing, and eventually a cross was put into the box. In his first touch on the ball, substitution Lorenzi leaped up and headed the ball toward the goal. It arched over Van der Sar’s 10-foot stretch, struck the underside of the crossbar, and dropped into the goal. Amazing! With the score tied, everything went berserk. The ref shoved Davitz for no reason (as if the ref should be assaulting players for any reason), and Juve’s Kovacevic almost scored on a bicycle kick that cleared off the goalline. Then, in a tight offside call that wasn’t called, Ventola was let through with the ball, to go one-on-one with Van der Sar. The Dutch keeper’s good, but the player’s got a huge advantage, and Ventola gave his side the game winner with eight minutes left. Incredible game. Final: 2-1 Atalanta.

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: Bundesliga: Hamburg at Werder Bremen

Cool game. I’m a Hamburg fan, and I thought they were going to take this one, but they let me down. Still, it was a good game. Bremen started things off with a brilliant free kick goal right at the stroke of halftime. Literally. It was the last play of the half. Pizarro’s kick went right into the corner, where Hamburg keeper Butt couldn’t possibly get it. But Hamburg came back in the second half with a great goal from Heinz. The ball basically bounced around in the box a bit, then was passed to the top of the key where a running Heinz blasted it. No chance for the keeper. Heinz had two more great attempts that were stopped by Roos, Bremen’s keeper, who made a number of great saves and I think was their most valuable player. But Ailton scored on a questionable penalty kick in the 76th minute, and then Pizarro got his second in injury time to put the matter beyond doubt. He ran up the left flank without a single player marking him! Final: 3-1 Werder Bremen.

Topic: [/soccer]

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: Meet the Feebles

Director: Peter Jackson

Wow, what a wickedly perverse, freaked out film! If this had been done with human actors it would have been extreme, but not this extreme. This is the equivalent of finding your favorite children’s cartoon character in a bar, swearing, drunk, and high on crack while raping a woman.

Australia director Jackson (who’s now filming Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy) brilliantly satires everything under the sun by doing the film with puppets. Watching puppets behave like disgusting humans (complete with foul language, vomiting, bowel movements, crude sex, drug abuse, and violence) really shows you the insanity of society. Trust me — watching various animal muppets get their heads blown off by a submachine gun will change your perspective on life (either for the better or the worse). Not for the faint of heart, but hilarious for those who can handle it. It’s like a cross between a perverted Alice in Wonderland and South Park (there are several wicked songs, though I didn’t find this film as offensive as South Park, because here there’s a satirical purpose).

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Sat, Feb 03, 2001

: EPL: Arsenal at Coventry City

Good game, though not many goals. By the look of things Coventry is on their way out of the Premiere League, while Arsenal wants to show they are the second best team in England. Coventry dominated possession, though Arsenal never seemed flustered by that. While Coventry had some good chances, Arsenal’s were a lot better quality. They finally converted on a 78th minute header by Bergkamp. Magnus Hedman, Coventry’s Swedish goal-keeper (a favorite of mine), was amazing, doing a number of tip-overs and one-handed stops from close range. He kept the score respectable from Coventry’s viewpoint, though that doesn’t help their league standings. I don’t recall any significant saves from Arsenal’s Seaman. Final: 1-0 Arsenal.

Topic: [/soccer]

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: International Friendly: USA vs. Columbia

In this warm up for World Cup qualifying later this month, the U.S. did well. Not great, but decent. We fielded mostly MLS kids, as our international stars are busy in leagues overseas, and there was some impressive play. The U.S. dominated for the first 15 minutes of each half, but slowed down after that, allowing Columbia time to get comfortable. In particular, we took very few long shots (or shots at all), a criticism I’ve often made of the U.S. We need forwards who aren’t afraid to shoot. We’ve got a few players who don’t mind shooting, like Cobi Jones and Clint Mathis, but neither play forward. Some of the younger players, like Josh Wolff, will take shots, but their experience is limited and they tend to miss. That just means they should shoot twice as often! Anyway, in this game Columbia didn’t play as strongly as I expected, though there were some excellent players. They beat us on the counter, scoring mid-way through the second half, and defended heavily after that. It was a good experience for the U.S. players. They need to feel the desperation and frustration of losing against a quality opponent. Next up is USA vs. Mexico in a critical World Cup Qualifier on Feb. 28 (airing on ESPN2). Final: 1-0 Columbia.

Topic: [/soccer]

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Fri, Feb 02, 2001

: Bundesliga: B. Dortmund at 1860 Munich

These two teams have reversed their fortunes from last season, with Dortmund just one point away from leading the league and 1860 down in the cellar. With that the case, it seemed like an easy win for Dortmund, but they didn’t show up. Oh, sure, they had a few chances, but it was 1860 who attacked constantly and deserved the three points. 1860’s attack wasn’t really successful, but at least they were trying. They finally got their goal via a questionable penalty kick awarded in the 53 minute: Thomas “The Little General” Hassler took it well. I figured that Dortmund would surely rebound after that, but they played as though they’d already lost. Final: 1-0 1860 Munich.

Topic: [/soccer]

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Thu, Feb 01, 2001

: Annie Hall

Author: Woody Allen

Director: Woody Allen

Pretty good Allen film, though it gets weaker as it goes along. Allen plays a comedian who’s a loser at romance (there’s something new) and he walks us through his life in retrospect. That’s the best, because he frequently breaks down the wall between the camera and the audience, talking directly to the viewer, and intruding his present-day character upon his past-day character, and making snide remarks. Some good wit, cool cameos by big stars, but all the self-introspection gets old after a while, and the ending is flat. Worth seeing, though, especially if you like Allen’s humor.

Topic: [/movie]

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