Mon, Apr 30, 2001

: Serie A: Roma vs. Lazio

The Rome derby started off slow, but became excellent. The first goal came in the second half, from Batistuta, on an assist by Delvechio. Minutes later, Delvechio got one of his own. Then Lazio fought back with a brilliant volley from the top of the box by Nedved. There were a number of other great chances, but that was it for the goals. Awesome game. Final: 2-1 Roma.

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Sun, Apr 29, 2001

: Bundesliga: Leverkusen at Kaiserslautern

Boring game: Neuville scored in the 10th minute on a great free kick, but nothing much happened after that. Final: 1-0 Leverkusen.

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: WUSA: Washington at Carolina

Excellent game, very impressive. It started off with a great goal from Canadian international Burtini on a header off a corner to put the home team up. Just a few minutes later, Mia Hamm was almost put out of the game by a rough tackle: it looked like she might be seriously injured. She was off on the sideline for a good ten minutes while they checked her out, but finally decided her knee was okay. Back in the game, her presence made an immediate difference, but Washington couldn’t score. Things were looking grim for the visitors until very late in the game when Hamm took a quick free kick from near the halfway line and sent in a gorgeous through ball for Pretinha, who ran onto it beautifully and scored. With the just eight minutes left, the game got intense. Finally, in the 90th minute, with just seconds left, Mia Hamm took a free kick from outside the box and beat the keeper for the game winner! Final: 2-1 Washington.

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: Serie A: Napoli at Regina

I wasn’t expecting much from this clash from the bottom of the table, but it proved an interesting game. Tiny Regina just thrashed Napoli. Dionigal scored just five minutes in, followed by a Marazzina goal at the end of the half off a great through-pass. Zanchetta scored early in the second half to really set things up for Regina. The goalkeeper Taibi saved a penalty kick. Napoli got a little bit of pride back in the 59th minute with a header from Edmundo, but that was the best they could do. Final: 3-1 Regina.

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: Farewell, My Concubine

Very strange and amazing film. It’s Chinese, and tells the tale of a two opera performers from childhood through adulthood, before and during the Communist revolution. I can say right out I don’t understand traditional Chinese opera: it’s an inflexible medium of rigid tradition. (For instance, in one scene, a man is criticising a performance because the actor playing the concubine didn’t take the right number of steps on his way to the king.) The film is complex, rich, and brutal. Worth seeing, but be prepared for a strange adventure.

Topic: [/movie]

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Sat, Apr 28, 2001

: MLS: New England Revolution at Miami Fusion

Good game, though a little slow. Harris showed some great moves for the Revs, but couldn’t put together a series of them to actually score. Miami didn’t do much and looked weak, but with just ten minutes to go, Chacon got open and scored yet again (he’s currently in the lead for most goals in the fewest minutes played in MLS). Miami held on to give the Revs their fourth defeat and zero points for the season. I hope that bodes well for San Jose as the Revs come to visit next weekend and the Quakes are hungry for a home win. Final: 1-0 Miami.

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: MLS: San Jose Earthquakes at Kansas City Wizards

Good game! The Quakes looked very good, far more dangerous than defensive-oriented K.C., and newcomer and potential superstar Landon Donovan got his first start in MLS and did great. He didn’t score, but was dangerous, and I was very impressed with his play: he definitely does not play like a 19-year-old. Some of his through-passes, traps, and shots showed incredible control and audacious confidence. It’s going to be awesome to see him develop at San Jose: I predict good things. San Jose’s defense held together much better at K.C. than in previous matches, though toward the end of the game the Wizards did pressure and almost scored on several occasions. Keeper Joe Cannon made some good saves to keep the Wizards out, and some hard defensive work saved the day on a number of occasions. Things were a little hairy at times but the Quakes didn’t panic and seemed confident: I hope they play as well next week at Spartan Stadium. Though neither team scored, I’d put this down as a win for San Jose: a valuable point on the road and a stop to that dreadful two-game losing streak. Final: 0-0.

Topic: [/soccer]

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: MLS: Dallas Burn at NY/NJ Metrostars

You want goals? We’ve got goals! New York dominated this rivalry last year, and it looks like they’re going to do so again this year, though the Burn aren’t going to take it without a stiff fight. Villegas scored 22 minutes in to give NY the lead, followed by a wonderful goal from Mark Chung in the 32 minute. Tab Ramos beat his man to bring the ball along the end line, but instead of crossing into the box the way all the Burn defenders expected, the passed the ball in the opposite direction to an onrushing Chung who connected fully with his left foot. I was expecting a wild shot over the goal as usually happens but instead the ball went low and sped like a bullet right into the back of the net! Amazing goal, possibly a goal of the year candidate. Terrific stuff. In the second half it looked like NY might have some problems when Comas was sent off, but then Clint Mathis (who scored nine goals last year against Dallas, including one game were he had five, an MLS record) got two in seven minutes! One of them was a 75-yard run that possibly ranks as the best goal ever in MLS. Minutes later, in the 72nd minute, Farrer got one for the Burn, but it looked like it was way too little. But a penalty kick in the 90th minute gave Dallas hope, but time ran out before they could do more. Oh yeah — I almost forgot to mention Chung’s second half penalty kick which Matt Jordon saved. The result could have been even worse for Dallas! Final: 4-2 New York.

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: MLS: Chicago Fire at Tampa Bay Mutiny

Great game, though I was disappointed that Mamadou Diallo couldn’t play because of last week’s red card. The hero of Wednesday night’s USA game was back for more, this time for his club team. Early on Josh Wolff pressured the Tampa defense and they brought him down in the penalty arc. A free kick was given and Wolff took it, curling the ball in — a splendid goal! Can anyone stop this kid? Well, Demmin can: minutes into the second half he brought down Wolff with a terrible tackle from behind, nearly crippling Wolff. Josh had to leave the game with a sprained ankle. Unfortunately, Demmin only got a yellow card. His partner, John Maessner, however, wasn’t so lucky, drawing a red for dragging down DaMarcus Beasley by his shirt while on a breakaway. That pretty much finished it for Tampa: they had very little offense before, and playing ten men against Chicago’s defense isn’t easy. Final: 1-0 Chicago.

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Thu, Apr 26, 2001

: Champions League: Galatasaray at Real Madrid

Well, the Turkish club had a chance coming into this game, but Real was having none of it. They easily won, scoring three goals in the first half! Raul got things going with a goal fifteen minutes in, followed by Helguera in the 28th, and Raul got his second with ten minutes left in the half. After that Real just had to hold on for the win. They advance to the semi-finals. Final: 3-0 Real Madrid.

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Wed, Apr 25, 2001

: World Cup Qualifier: Costa Rica at U.S.A.

Awesome game! The U.S. played very well, with a number of quality chances, including a sure chip goal from Josh Wolff that was dramatically cleared off the goalline with a bicycle kick from the Costa Rican captain Parks. The U.S. dominated the first half, but Costa Rica forced Keller to make a few good saves in the second half. But the great news for the U.S. was Wolff’s 70th minute goal. On the corner kick the ball bounced around in the box and came awkwardly to Clint Mathis. It looked like it hit his hand, though it obviously wasn’t intentional (his hand was up in the air before the ball came to him), but the slight deflection may have helped as the ball dropped away from the keeper and right to Josh Wolff’s feet. He barely need to touch it to put it in the net. The U.S. defended well after that, though there were some nerve-racking moments, but the Americans held on. The victory means the U.S. has — incredibly — won all three of their World Cup qualifiers so far (seven more to go) and with nine points is well on their way to a slot in World Cup 2002. They’re leading their group by five points! Final: 1-0 United States.

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Tue, Apr 24, 2001

: La Liga: Deportivo at Celta Vigo

Excellent game! The first half finished nil-nil and I thought this was going to be a low-scoring affair, but both teams came alive in the second half. Valeron scored early for Deportivo, but minutes later Djorovic equalized on a great goal. Then Mostovoi put in a blast from outside the box that beat the keeper and that was all Celta needed. Final: 2-1 Celta Vigo.

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Mon, Apr 23, 2001

: Serie A: Juventus at Parma

A surprisingly good game, very entertaining and competitive, though no goals were scored. Final: 0-0.

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: EPL: Coventry City at Ipswitch Town

Poor Coventry: they seemed like they were finally getting into form, but they were blasted by Ipswitch. Reuser scored early, in the 20th minute, and in the second half Wright’s shot was deflected to put Ipswitch up by two. Coventry tried hard, but they couldn’t score. Final: 2-0 Ipswitch.

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Sun, Apr 22, 2001

: A Scanner Darkly

Author: Philip K. Dick

A remarkable book. Definitely the kind you could read fifty times and still not completely understand. I’ve never done drugs, but if I had, I’m sure this book would describe the experience exactly. It’s set in the future (the 1990’s) and deals with a narc out to find drug dealers. Fred goes under cover as Bob, a drug addict. As part of his cover he must take Substance D, also known as Death, a powerful drug that has a side effect of splitting the mind into duelling consciouses. Slowly Fred (and Bob) lose the ability to distinguish reality. Worse, Fred’s secret identity is a secret even to his police bosses, and they assign him to monitor and keep tabs on… Bob. Yeah, that’s right, he’s to narc on himself! Eventually Fred can’t tell that he is Bob and the book gets really bizarre as paranoid Bob does things to avoid Fred and Fred does things to stop Bob… and they’re the same person! Incredibly powerful book on the dangers of drug abuse, but Dick doesn’t play God: he doesn’t judge these people, but he also doesn’t protect them from the consequences of their actions. From the opening line, “Once a guy stood all day shaking bugs from his hair,” to the end, this book is a trip. In some places it was so funny I had to stop reading to literally wipe tears of laughter from my eyes (like the part where the druggies argue that they were cheated on the ten-speed bike they bought because it only has seven gears, a two-setting gear and a five-setting gear for a total of seven). In other places it was so hard to read I couldn’t get through more than a few paragraphs without having to put the book down and breathe for a bit. The novel is hilarious, scary, and sickening, occasionally all three at once. It’s also a profound exploration of reality, unreality, consciousness, perception, personality, identity, and the meaning of existence. Very complex, very bizarre, very sad. Dick had his own drug problems, so this book speaks from experience. At the end he includes a list of close personal friends effected by drugs (some forming the basis of various characters in the novel), all of whom are either dead or permanently damaged by their habit. Frightening. He uses the analogy of a group of children playing in the street, being smashed and slaughtered by cars that pass, yet the children keep playing in the street, mindless of the deadly consequences of their actions. They just wanna have fun. Chilling. Highly recommended.

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: MLS: Colorado Rapids at L.A. Galaxy

Rather a boring affair. There were lots of valiant runs but neither team really had that many dramatic scoring opportunities, though the keepers did make a few key saves (especially Colorado’s Brown). Hendrickson got the game’s only goal late in the first half. Good result for L.A., but they should have won 3-zip. Final: 1-0 Galaxy.

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: First to Die

Author: James Patterson

A surprisingly good book. I’ve grown cautious with Patterson’s books: they are uneven in quality, but this one is very good. It deals with a serial killer who kills couples on their wedding night. But what makes the story interesting is Patterson’s protagonists: a group of females in various positions of authority (an assistant D.A., a Medical Examiner, a reporter, and a police inspector) who form their own unofficial “murder club” in pursuit of the killer. They all are intelligent, driven women, bonded by their sex, and feeling discriminated against by their male-dominated careers. The leader of the group is Lindsay Boxer, the police inspector in charge of the case, and as the book opens and the case begins, she learns she has a fatal disease. Unusual and interesting. Nice twists as far as the plot goes, though occasionally a little obvious. The reader’s given a little too much extra information about the crime at times, making the slower police investigation seem a little tedious, but overall the writing is decent, the pace breakneck, and the characters mostly three dimensional. The ending’s pretty good, but the epilogue — which changes everything — feels tacked on and tacky, like some editor told Patterson to include it. It’s way too short for the information it conveys and trivializes the rest of the novel. Patterson does leave the door open for a sequel with the murder club gals leading the charge: it will be interesting to see what he comes up with next. Good quick read.

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: MLS: New England Revolution at D.C. United

Not a bad game, though rather strange scoring. Abdul Thompson Conteh (formerly of San Jose Earthquakes) scored on a header just 9 minutes in for D.C., but late in the half when D.C. was supposed to go up two goals after a penalty kick was awarded them, Calley’s shot was saved by Jurgen Summer. The second half was a reverse of the first half. Two minutes in New England was awarded a penalty and Harris took it. Mike Ammann blocked the shot, but the rebound went free and a charging Okoh pounced on it to tie the score. Then, toward the end of the game, it Conteh who scored again, this time on a volley in the box off a corner kick. Great action in the second half, both keepers performing well, especially Ammann, who made several spectacular saves to keep D.C. in the game. Unfortunately for the Revs, this is their third defeat in three games, though they didn’t play that badly. Final: 2-1 D.C.

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Sat, Apr 21, 2001

: WUSA: New York Power at Atlanta Beat

Impressive debut of the new American women’s soccer league. Apparently games are shown every Saturday at 9 a.m. Pacific on cable channel TNT with a WUSA highlight show airing at 8 a.m. on the Discovery channel. This game was New York, with Tiffeny Milbrett, against Atlanta, with Cindy Parlow and China’s Sun-Wen. The game was pretty good. No goals, but some good action, good defending, a great crowd (over 20,000), and lots of enthusiasm. For the start of a new league, it’s definitely impressive. We’ll have to see how things continue. Final: 0-0.

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: EPL: Leeds at West Ham

Cool game. Leeds got going early when Keane slipped one past the keeper, and just into the second half former West Ham player Rio Ferdinand got one against his old club. Leeds probably would have increased their lead, but Batty was sent off a minute later, so they just held on to the end. Final: 2-0 Leeds.

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: Bundesliga: Hamburg at Leverkusen

Tough battle with Hamburg desperate for some points and Leverkusen needing a win to keep themselves in contention at the top of the league. Hamburg scored first on a deflected free kick by Danish international Tofting, but Leverkusen equalized in first half injury time by Kirsten off a deflected cross into the box that dropped for him. The second half was more battling but no more scoring. American and my personal favorite Frankie Hejduk made a saving tackle on a Hamburg run but found himself staring at his second yellow (therefore a red). A rather harsh call. But ten men Leverkusen didn’t give up any more goals and the game finished a draw that doesn’t help either team. Final: 1-1.

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: MLS: San Jose Earthquakes at Miami Fusion

Good game, though not a good result. Early on San Jose held their own, but toward the end of the first half everything fell apart. The first two goals were giveaways. In the 39th minute Miami put a cross through the box and a Quake defender deflected into his own goal. Minutes later, in first half injury time, poor defending left newcomer Chacon open for a split second and he took advantage of his chance, scoring his third goal in three games for Miami. In the second half, Ian Russell got a goal for San Jose, but I didn’t get to see it because Fox Sports Bay Area cleverly edited out San Jose’s only goal of the game “due to time constraints.” Yes, the baseball game preceeding the Quake’s game went too long so they showed the entire first half, then jumped to the 52minute of the second half, skipping the Quake’s only goal. Makes perfect sense. After all, what local people would want to see San Jose score? Aren’t we all Miami fans??? Oh well, I suppose it was a good goal. The goal gave San Jose drive and they played much better in the second half, really pressuring Miami and came very close to equalizing on several occasions, but couldn’t quite make it. Miami looked dangerous on several counters, but Joe Cannon make some excellent saves and the defense came to the rescue on other occasions. Good game overall for the Quakes: much better than last week’s fiasco. Despite the result, I now have a little hope for the season (especially considering that Donovan and Goose were absent for national team duty). Final: 2-1 Miami.

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: MLS: Tampa Bay Muntiny at New York Metrostars

Great game! It got off a little slow, at least for Tampa, who kept giving opportunities to New York. Then in the 28th minute Alvarez got sent off to drastically change the game. With only ten men, New York should have faltered, but instead they dominated, continuing to find holes in the Muntiny’s defense. Ramos broke down the left, beat his man and put in a great cross, and Comas finished. The score really should have been 3-0 or 4-0 by the second half, but man of the match Scott Garlick kept out a half dozen of New York’s shots. In the second half, the Mutiny took their time, but finally scored on a marvelous long-range strike by Ralston in the 74th minute. That broke the ice, and four minutes later, Diallo’s cross to a sliding Josh Keller, who hadn’t been playing well to that point, finished it off to take the lead. But Diallo, who’s collision last year with New York keeper Mike Ammann fueled the New York-Tampa rivalry, reacted badly when beat by Mike Petke and tackled him. He got the ball and I thought he only deserved a yellow, but it was a bad tackle and the ref immediately produced the red. With both teams at ten men, it seemed like New York had some hope, but when the pushed forward, Tampa countered beautifully, and Curtis scored on a breakaway. Final: 3-1 Tampa Bay.

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: Serie A: Fiorentina at Intermilan

After struggling a bit recently, Inter is suddenly back. Vieri got things going with a goal just twelve minutes in, followed by a penalty kick in the 40th minute after Seedorf was taken down in the box. Minutes later came the beauty: Dalmat (who assisted on the first goal) just blasted a shot from forty-some yards out that curled into the inside of the far post and into the net. Stunning! A goal to be talked about for years! In the second half, Fiorentina really turned on the pressure, but it was Inter, on the counter, who scored. Sukur got the ball at the top of the box and curled it over the keeper. Fiorentina got one back with Bressan’s header, and with 11 minutes left, Chiesa got another with a chip over the off-his-line Frey, but despite the slight comeback, one just felt that this was Inter’s day. Sure enough, they managed to preserve the win. Final: 4-2 Inter.

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: The Music Lovers

Director: Ken Russell

Not a pleasant film, but unquestionably a remarkable one. This tells the story of Tchaichosky, the Russian composer. Russell deals with the man’s complicated past and fantasies but an excellent technique of interchanging and intercutting fantasy sequences and reality. For instance, when T meets his future wife, her real image is intercut with his fantasy image, and he falls in love with her… or is he in love with his fantasy? The story is dark and brutal. The composer’s a genius, but his personal life is a mess. There are strong hints that T was homosexual and that his marriage fell apart because it was a lie. After marriage, he couldn’t compose until he went away from his wife. She slowly descends into madness, and the final scenes of her living in the madhouse are truly sickening. (I felt sorry just for the actors, not to mention the characters.) T himself drinks contaminated water and contracts cholera and dies horribly, the way his beloved mother died. Very bizarre, very sad. It’s a movie about people torn with conflicting passions, secret fantasies and ideals, and the unforgiving nature of genius. Complex, but distasteful.

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Fri, Apr 20, 2001

: Bundesliga: Bochum at B. Dortmund

Poor Bochum’s at the bottom of the league, with Dortmund in the logjam at the top, and this game showed why. Ricken scored in the 18th minute, followed by Heinrich at the 29th, two impressive goals from Reina in the second half, and finished off with a penalty kick by Stevic. Final: 5-0 Dortmund.

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Thu, Apr 19, 2001

: UEFA Cup: Barcelona at Liverpool

The first game ended 0-0, so all either needed was a win. Liverpool had the most chances, but couldn’t finish. Finally a somewhat questionable penalty was called against Barca at the end of the half, and McAllister put it away. That was the only the goal of the game. Not great football, but impressive defense on the part of Liverpool, to hold Barca’s potent offense to two shutouts. Final: 1-0 Liverpool.

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: UEFA Cup: Alaves at Kaiserslauten

Kaiserslauten was slaughtered in the first leg 5-1, so they needed a ton of goals to eke this one out. Instead, they got routed a second time! French World Cup winner Djorkaeff started things off well for Kaiser with a goal just seven minutes in, but after that it was all Alaves. Alanzo got one in the 23rd minute, followed by two from Vucko late in the second half. Ganan added one with three left to really rub it in. Final: 4-1 Alaves (9-2 on aggregate)

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Wed, Apr 18, 2001

: Champions League: Manchester United at Bayern Munich

Going into the second leg with a loss at home, United needed to not give up any goals. So of course that’s exactly what they did just five minutes in, on Elber’s shot. United showed hardly any offense and toward the end of the first half, Scholl added another, giving United a real mountain to climb. They came partway back just into the second half with a great goal by Ryan Giggs, but it was too little, too late. Munich held on to advance, and United’s out of Europe for this season. Final: 2-1 Munich.

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Mon, Apr 16, 2001

: Serie A: Parma at Atalanta

A hard-fought game, but Parma went ahead in the first half with a goal by Milosevic and that was all they needed. Final: 1-0 Parma.

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: EPL: Liverpool at Everton

Wow, what a game! One didn’t know who would win this rivalry until the final seconds. Liverpool started things off with a great run by Heskey who finished beautifully in the 5th minute. But Ferguson equalized for Everton just before the half. In the second half, Babbel scored early to put the Reds back on top, and they should have been two goals ahead but Fowler missed his penalty kick. The ref (who had a number of controversial decisions) sent off Biscan in the 79th minute putting Liverpool down a man, and shortly afterward awarded Everton with their own penalty, which Unsworth completed to tie the score. The tie kept well into injury time, when almost four minutes in, McAllister’s long free kick curled just inside the near post for a brilliant goal. Seconds later the whistle blew and just like that Liverpool was victorious! Wow, what a finale! Final: 3-2.

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Sun, Apr 15, 2001

: Bundesliga: Schalke at Bayern Munich

A critical game. No league is tighter than the German Bundesliga, with three teams tied for second place, all one point behind Munich. Schalke is one of them, and a win puts them in first place. Bayern had six starters serving suspensions for this game (all those reds and yellows in last week’s Dortmund clash) so things looked good for Schalke. But then just three minutes in a long through-pass put Jancker in on goal alone, and he beat the keeper. A dream start for Munich. But Sand scored in the 14th minute to equalize, and after a scoreless thirty minutes more, it seemed like a draw might be in order. But minutes into the second half Sand scored his second, putting him at the top of the Bundesliga scoring chart. His pal Mpenza tried and tried, but kept getting foiled by Munich’s Oliver Khan in goal. Finally, he and Sand did a give and go, but Mpenza couldn’t reach the final ball. It was loose, in the box, and Sand pounced on it for the hat trick! So there’s a new leader in Germany, and Schalke are in good position to be the champs. With so few games left in the season, the trophy is theirs to lose. Final: 3-1 Schalke.

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: MLS: D.C. United at Chicago Fire

ESPN thoughtfully pre-empted the first half, only showing the second, but since there were no goals in the first half, I guess I didn’t miss much. Wolff scored early in the second half, and after several near misses and post shots by Kovalenko, he got his goal in the 78th minute. D.C.’s frustration reached its peak when their captain and best player, Etcheverry, lost his temper and was red carded in injury time. Not smart. Final: 2-0 Chicago.

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: MLS: New York/New Jersey Metrostars at Colorado Rapids

Great game. Wide open with gobs of shots by both teams. Both keepers were excellent, stopping shots right and left, several amazing saves. Alvarez got on early for New York, and though Clint Mathis had a bunch of chances (he was voted man of the match), none of his would sink in (he hit the post several times, and other shots were saved). Late in the game, with seven minutes to goal, a frantic Colorado finally breached the NY defense. A clever backheel gave the ball to veteran Balboa and he ran onto it and smacked it home, a real blast into the upper corner, giving the keeper no chance to save it. The game went into extra time, and there were many heart-stopping saves, but no more goals. It was a well-deserved draw. Final: 1-1.

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: Manhunter

Author: Michael Mann (book by Thomas Harris)

Director: Michael Mann

Good film adaptation of the book. Faithful. The ending’s a little weak, descending into a stereotypical action shoot-out thing, but overall classy and well done. This is the film that first brought Hannibal Lector to the big screen and though he doesn’t have much screen time, he’s well done by Brian Cox. Some of the best psychological stuff from the book doesn’t get translated to the screen as well as I’d have liked, and the film seems mild compared to Silence of the Lambs, but it’s certainly worth seeing.

Topic: [/book]

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Sat, Apr 14, 2001

: MLS: Dallas Burn at San Jose Earthquakes

I don’t know what happened since last week, but the Quakes came out asleep for this game. I went to the game expecting a victory — the Burn isn’t the strongest team, especially away, and with San Jose’s form last week, it should have been a decisive home opening victory. Instead it was a miserable loss. The game was slow, the Quakes spent more time passing the ball back to their own half than going forward, and there were very few quality chances. The ref blew the whistle every time two players brushed against each other, and for some odd reason, play was completely halted every time there was an injury: no stretcher was brought to carry the injured guy off so the game could keep moving. The result was a real stop-and-go affair, and San Jose never got any momentum going. The Burn played mostly defense (SJ keeper Cannon only had to make one save all night and that was in injury time), but scored in the 18th minute on a counter-attack. That turned out to be all they needed as San Jose couldn’t get a shot on target to save their life. Quite pathetic. Worst of all, the stadium was packed. It was nearly sold out. They even ran out of programs. I got one of the last $15 tickets while some of the people behind me had to pay for $25 seats because that’s all that was left. Though the game was crappy, the event itself was a lot of fun. The fans were in good spirits (most were used to San Jose losing), the atmosphere was entertaining, and the fireworks show at the end of the game was spectacular, almost worth the price of admission alone. (They cleared out one end of the stadium and most of the fireworks exploded just a hundred feet or so above the stadium so the flash lit up the entire place and the booming explosions hurt my ears. Very cool.) As far as soccer goes, let’s hope this was just a fluke. Final: 1-0 Burn.

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: Serie A: Intermilan at Juventus

The first half was boring, with no goals and no much offense by either team. I don’t know what the coach said at halftime, but suddenly Juventus came alive. Tacchinardi scored six minutes into the second half, followed by a goal from Inzagi four minutes later. Eight minutes after that Del Piero put in a beauty and it was officially a rout! Vieri managed one for Inter on a penalty kick, but no one seriously expected Juventus to give up a three goal lead. Final: 3-1 Juventus.

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: EPL: Middlesbrough at Arsenal

A rather bizarre game. Arsenal gifted Boro with two own goals in the first half! The first was Edu’s deflection off Windass’ shot, and the second was a dreadful clear by Silvinho which sent the ball past David Seaman. In the second half Arsenal really had to push forward, and Richard scored in the 58th minute on a Boro counter-attack. Wow, a 3-0 win for Boro! The craziest thing of all, however, was that this unexpected home loss to second place Arsenal gave the championship to Manchester United. They are sixteen points ahead and there’s no way Arsenal can catch them! So Man. U. are now the champs seven times in nine years. Wow, that’s domination! Final: 3-0 Middlesbrough.

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Fri, Apr 13, 2001

: Bundesliga: Energie Cottbus at Stuttgart

Boring bottom-of-the-barrel clash. Stuttgart finally went ahead on Balakov’s penalty kick, but that was the game’s only goal. Final: 1-0 Stuttgart.

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Thu, Apr 12, 2001

: EPL: Sunderland at Middlesbrough

So boring I don’t even want to talk about it. No goals, lots of yellow cards, but not even a sending off to enliven things. Boring! Final: 0-0.

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: FA Cup: Liverpool vs. Wycombe

This game started off like the Sunderland-Middlesbrough game: no goals until the last twelve minutes. Some good play, but mostly defense for Wycombe, and boring to watch. I knew the game needed a goal, and once Heskey nailed a header from a few yards out to put Liverpool in front, the game indeed changed for the better, with both sides trying. But Fowler added to Liverpool’s lead with a great free kick goal in the 83rd minute, and it looked like Wycombe was done. Then they snuck in a goal on their own with one minute left. Their keep put in a long ball right into Liverpool’s penalty box. The ball was headed down by a Wycombe player to Ryan, who was open, and he finished it. But it wasn’t enough. Liverpool deservedly win. Final: 2-1 Liverpool.

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Wed, Apr 11, 2001

: La Liga: Barceleona at Villareal

Wow, what a game. Zillions of goals. Don’t know that I’ve ever seen a soccer game quite like this one. Villareal came out storming, fulling intending to put a lock on the came early. They scored three goals in twenty minutes! Former Barca player Victor got the first one eleven minutes in, followed by Calleja seven minutes later. Victor added another in the twentieth minute. It looked like it was all Villareal, but then Kluivert got one in the 38th minute and Barca was awarded a penalty kick in the dying minutes of the first half. Rivaldo stepped up to take the kick and I was positive the score was going to be 3-2. But Rivaldo missed! His rebounded off the base of the post! After that brush with danger, Villareal looked like they would survive as Barca squandered chance after chance. But early in the second half Kluivert managed another, and then Rivaldo scored himself on about the hour mark, tying the score and making up for his missed penalty. But the game was by no means over. Villareal went up again just five minutes later, when Lopez scored after Palermo whiffed on his shot. As time ran out it looked like Villareal would get the three points for sure. The game went into injury time, one, two, then three minutes passed. There were just seconds left. Barca was still pushing hard, when, amazingly, Kluivert managed to score his third to complete his hat trick and give Barca a valuable road point. Wow, eight goals in one game! Final: 4-4.

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: Champions League: Deportivo at Leeds

Does it make sense to insult your opponent before playing them? Probably not. It doesn’t do you any good and it can only hurt you. No doubt Deportivo’s coach regrets his critical comments on Leeds before this game. His team was roasted. Ian Harte scored just 26 minutes in off a wonderful free kick, and Smith and Ferdinand added to the total in the second half. Deportivo hardly had a shot on Leeds’ goal all night. They’ll have a tough job scoring more than three goals against Leeds at home. Final: 3-0 Leeds.

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Mon, Apr 09, 2001

: Serie A: Roma at Fiorentina

Another trouncing for a top club! Chiesa scored twelve minutes in to put Fiorentina on top, but that was equalized by Emerson twenty minutes later. After that the game sort of dragged, with neither team taking control. Then, in the 52nd minute, Candella’s headed clear hit the post and bounced into his own goal! Fiorentina were leading again. Roma fought hard creating a slew of chances: at one point Fiorentina defenders made two off-the-line clearances in the span of a minute. But the ball never crossed the line, and with eight to go Chiesa got his second and put the result beyond doubt. The first win for new coach Mancini. Final: 3-1 Fiorentina.

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: FA Cup: Arsenal vs. Tottenham Hotspur

Fair but disappointing game. Spurs started things off brilliantly, with a great goal by Doherty. The first shot was impressively saved by David Seaman, but the rebound shot/cross went wide to Doherty who headed it in for the triangle goal. Seemed like things were looking up for Spurs, but sadly it was not to be. Vieira (who probably should have had two yellow cards by this time) scored in the 33rd minute on a header to equalize, and Pires gave Arsenal the victory halfway through the second half. The two goals disheartened Tottenham, who seemed lost and never really got going after that, though they made a few game efforts. Arsenal once again stumble forward. Final: 2-1 Arsenal.

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Sun, Apr 08, 2001

: Bundesliga: Bayern Munich at B. Dortmund

Exciting game. It started off as a normal Bayern win, with Santa Cruz scoring just six minutes in. But 30 minutes later Lizarazou was sent off for his second yellow. In the dying minutes of the half Dortmund had two goals called off for off-side, one of them unfairly. In the second half, Bobic finally got his goal, tying the score. It was a ground shot that keeper Kahn should have stopped: the ball went right past his foot, but instead of kicking it, he tried to dive and save it with his hands. (Stupid. If I was a goal-keeping coach I’d make my keepers practice with their hands tied behind their backs: they depend too much on their hands.) Moments after the goal Effenberg was red carded for a horrible tackle and Munich was down to nine men. Dortmund really poured on the pressure, but couldn’t get another goal, making this the equivalent of a loss for them. In injury time Evanilson was sent off for Dortmund. Final: 1-1.

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: Bundesliga: Kaiserslautern at Schalke

What’s wrong with Kaiserslauten? Schalke just overpowered them. Waldoch scored twice in the first ten minutes, followed by two goals from Sand in the second half. Mpenza got one of his own in the last few minutes as well. Kaiser did manage one goal, in the 72nd minute, but Schalke ruled. Final: 5-1.

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: MLS: San Jose Earthquakes at Los Angeles Galaxy

Unbelievable game! San Jose has consistently been one of the worst teams in MLS. This year they’ve got a lot of new exciting players and are promising better results. Well, talk doesn’t cut it: actions do. And San Jose delivered in their season opener at rivals L.A. They started things off in a storming fashion, with Dayak heading in a goal nine minutes in. San Jose remained composed and focused, and their plan worked: Cerritos scored in the 24th minute, and that was followed by a great goal from Canadian International DeRosario just minutes later. Three goals in less than 30 minutes! Unbelievable! L.A. looked legitimately outclassed. In the second half, San Jose made the mistake of sitting back on their lead. They allowed L.A. some possession, which built their confidence. Finally they began breaking down San Jose’s defense. With just ten minutes left Victorine’s kick slipped the ball through and L.A. were on the board. they fought hard, pouring on the pressure, and suddenly Frye got open and scored (on a ground ball that Cannon dove for and should have kick-saved). Only one goal separated the teams and L.A. were hungry for one more. But San Jose played well, defending intelligently and composed, and managed to keep the Galaxy from scoring again. Incredible start for San Jose, which hasn’t won their home opening in three seasons. (In fact, last season they didn’t win an away game until round 21!) Final: 3-2 San Jose.

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Sat, Apr 07, 2001

: MLS: Chicago Fire at Columbus Crew

Today is the start of Major League Soccer action and if this game is any indication of what’s in store, it’s going to be good. The level and speed of play seemed higher than ever, probably partly due to a number of internationals like Josh Wolff, who forgot that MLS is supposed to be a slower-paced game. The first half was all Chicago, with young DaMarcus Beasley just burning up the field. He not only demonstrated great speed and stamina, he show terrific ball skills, dribbling past defenders and delivering excellent passes. Wonderful, and the kid’s only 18! His feed provided the game’s first goal, by Wolyniec. After that things quieted as the Fire didn’t seem as desperate and Columbus showed virtually no offense. In the second half Columbus still wasn’t playing, which was disappointing, until suddenly, Dante Washington found himself open with the ball floating toward him, and he used his head to put it just inside the post. Suddenly the team and the fans came alive! From that moment on the game was fantastic: hard tackles, end-to-end action, shots for both sides, and great saves by both keepers. This continued right to the end of the game when Aguilera was sent off for Columbus for a bad tackle. The advantage didn’t last long, however, when Lewis was sent off for Chicago as the last man who took down Washington on a break-away. In the dying seconds of the game Columbus Crew substitute keeper Tom Presthus made two great saves to keep them alive, and with literally two seconds left on the clock, his counterpart Thorton made a great save of his own. The game went into MLS’ silly ten minutes of overtime, but since it’s Golden Goal, it was exciting. Chicago’s Guitierrez was sent off when he threw an elbow reacting to a foul, but even with nine men Chicago spent most of the time in Columbus’ penalty box. But it was all for naught: the game ended with no more goals, so each team gets one point. Columbus escaped the indignity of losing their home opener, and the Fire have a respectable road point. Final: 1-1.

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: EPL: Coventry City at Leicester City

Astonishing! Where did this Coventry come from? With relegation looming, wins are vital for Coventry, but the goals just haven’t been coming. Until today. Bellamy scored in the first minute, stunning everyone. But Leicester battled back and Akinbiyi managed a header eight minutes later to equalize, and it seemed like the same old Coventry situation. But it was not. Chance after chance had Coventry, who can bare score at home, putting Leicester on the defensive. Lee Carsley got a terrific header in the nineteenth minute, so Coventry went into the locker room at the half one goal ahead. It really should have been four-one, except for some terrific goal-keeping and bad luck. In the second half I expected Leicester to fight, but before they got going Hartson, who’d had several good chances in the first half, finally got his goal just a few minute in. Eventually Leicester got a little going, but it was much too late and Coventry were so full of confidence that their defense had a reasonably easy time of it. Terrific win for lowly Coventry. Final: 3-1.

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: Princess Mononoke

This is an amazing film, unlike any animated film I’ve ever seen. For one, it’s over two hours long! For another, it violates stereotypes of characters, something that few live action films do effectively. This is an incredibly complex film: I’ll probably have to watch it several times to understand all the nuances. Unlike most movies, where there’s a clear good guy and bad guy, in this film everyone’s good and bad. For instance, the main hero’s a young man who saved his village from a monstrous demon but in the process the demon touched his arm, which becomes infected. He is told he must leave the village forever: the infection of hatred and evil will eventually kill him. The man leaves on a quest to remove the curse and on his journey learns that his arm has a will of it’s own, causing him to brutally kill two Samuri who were abusing a villager. So we’ve got a hero who must battle against himself: hatred and anger give strength to his evil arm. But that’s just part of the story. Things get really complicated as he discovers the origin of the demon that tried to destroy his village and cursed him. A tip sends him to the primordial forest where giant animals from the dawn of time still live, and he seeks out the Forest Spirit, who can perhaps remove his curse. He ends up at Irontown, a village where the major industry is the ironworks, run by a ruthless woman who, contrary to stereotype, cares for lepers and abused women. The woman is out to destroy the forest so they can mine the iron under the mountain, so the young man finds his loyalties divided: he cares for the animals of the forest and doesn’t want to see them destroyed, yet he also cares for the humans, who need to survive. He confronts Princess Mononoke, a wild girl-child who was raised by giant wolves (and thinks she’s a wolf and hates humans). As the conflict between the humans and the animals escalates, we realize this is the primary theme of the film: hatred on the part of either party, anger and senseless killing, are the real evils of the world, not individuals we blame for causing us pain. It is hatred and bitter rage that turns animals from gods into cursed demons that are neither human nor animal, and who hurt both. Fantastic movie, far too complex to analyze in a few brief paragraphs. Just go get it and watch it. Buy it: it’s a film you’ll watch over and over again. There are no easy, trivial answers in the film, only that hatred is bad and it takes willpower to defeat it.

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Fri, Apr 06, 2001

: The Dinner Game

Hilarious French movie about a group of rich men who have a weekly contest where they each invite an idiot to dinner. The man with the biggest idiot wins. The idiots don’t know why they’re there, of course — that’s the whole joke. They think they’re invited because the important men want to hear their ideas. Great premise, but the movie goes a completely different direction: we never even get to the dinner. Instead, the main rich guy tweaks his back golfing and can’t go to the dinner. He finds himself stuck at home with the prize idiot of all time, who won’t leave, and goes on and on incessantly about his matchstick models. Next, the phone rings and it’s his wife saying she’s leaving him, and what follows is a bizarre comedy of errors as the man, with the “help” of his idiot, try to track her down and save his marriage. Absolutely priceless. Great performances, especially by the idiot, who somehow manages to be an ingratiating moron and evoke sympathy from the viewer. Well worth your time. A classic.

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Thu, Apr 05, 2001

: UEFA Cup: Liverpool at Barcelona

One word: boring! Liverpool played defensively and Barcelona couldn’t break it down. Good first leg result for Liverpool, bad for home team Barca. Final: 0-0.

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Wed, Apr 04, 2001

: Champions League: Valencia at Arsenal

This game started off with the Spanish team dominating. Ayala got a goal just before the half to put Valencia in good position. But Arsenal came back in the second — a completely different team. Henry scored just before the hour mark, and that was followed two minutes later by a magnificent strike from Parlour. He blasted it from long range into the top corner of the net giving the keeper no chance at all. Brilliant! Final: 2-1 Arsenal.

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Tue, Apr 03, 2001

: Champions League: Bayern Munich at Manchester United

A surprisingly boring game, with Palo Sergio scoring for Munich in the 86th minute. Where was Man. U.’s offense? Final: 1-0 Bayern.

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: World Cup Qualifier: Brazil at Ecuador

In the first half, Ecuador dominated, though Brazil showed dangerous flashes. But shortly into the second half, Ecuador put together a brilliant run into the box and though the shot was going wide, Delgado slid into it to put Ecuador up one against the mighty Brazil. After that it was war: great chances on both sides made for a great game, but in the end, the goal held up, and Ecuador gets the major upset! Final: 1-0 Ecuador.

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Mon, Apr 02, 2001

: EPL: Ipswitch Town at Southampton

Poor Southampton: they struggled at the beginning of the season, but new coach Glenn Hoddle turned their season around. They haven’t lost in their last six games. Then last week he suddenly left to manage Tottenham; perhaps that rattled Southampton’s confidence. Ipswitch, astonishingly in third place in the league, decided they wanted to keep that place. Marcus Stewart got open in the box and slotted in an easy goal 33 minutes in. He got his second in the second half, and capped that off with a penalty kick goal in the 76th minute. A hat trick! That was more than enough. Final: 3-0 Ipswitch.

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: Serie A: Lazio at A.C. Milan

Very slow first half, but in the second Milan began to really play, looking very impressive. Lazio looked mediocre the entire game. The goal came from my favorite Croatian, Boban, who played well, and put in a terrific long-range header that shot into the back corner like it came from a gun. How he got such control on it, I’ll never know. Great goal. Final: 1-0 Milan.

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Sun, Apr 01, 2001

: Bundesliga: B. Dortmund at Kaiserslautern

Wild game with gobs of goals. Things started a little slow, but heated up when Bobic scored in the 33rd minute. In the second half, Dortmund came of gunning for more: seconds after the kickoff, Addo got a great goal, getting himself alone against the keeper and finishing with confidence. Eight minutes later Kaiserslauten came back with a goal from Lokvenc, but just minutes after that Lars Ricken scored for Dortmund, restoring their two goal lead. The matter was put beyond doubt when Heinrich scored in the 76th minute: Kaiserslautern was going to lose. Final: 4-1 Dortmund.

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: Serie A: Fiorentina at Vicenza

Odd game in which Fiorentina scored the only goals but didn’t win. Tiny Vicenza really battled, doing themselves well, but their goal came from Fiorentina when defender Repka scuffed his clear, sending the ball trickling into his own net instead of away. Fiorentina finally got the ball in the correct goal late in the game when Rui Costa scored, but couldn’t do more than a draw. Final: 1-1.

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