Sun, Jul 29, 2001

: Unbreakable

Author: M. Night Shyamalan

Director: M. Night Shyamalan

Not bad. Interesting film, though nothing like

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Sat, Jul 28, 2001

: MLS: All-Star Game

I got to go to this game in person and it was an awesome party! San Jose’s Spartan Stadium was packed to overflowing (over 23,500 fans). The game ball was brought in (or should I say down) by two world champion “skysurfers” who dropped into the stadium from 10,000 feet. It was truly exciting to see these guys loop upside down just fifty feet above the heads of the fans and then swoop down onto the field and land right in the center of the green! Then, during the national anthem, two jets did a flyby of the stadium. Very cool. And then the game itself was awesome: San Jose’s own Landon Donovan was the MVP of the day, scoring three goals in thirty minutes. The West had a 4-0 lead but lost it late in the first half when the East suddenly game back with a series of goal to go into the lockers 4-3. After the break, the East’s Mamadou Diallo scored to equalize, then the West broke out again, only to give up two goals after that to trail for the first time in the game. It was looking grim for the West when in injury time Landon scored yet again to tie the game and set a huge record for the All-Star game (no player had ever scored more than two goals in the All-Star game before). The topper was when two players, Jim Rooney of the East and Donovan of the West both celebrated their goals by removing their shirts to reveal Brandi Chastain-style black sports bras! Great fun, great goals, and great soccer.

Topic: [/soccer]

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Fri, Jul 27, 2001

: Planet of the Apes

Director: Tim Burton

Interesting film. Good fun. Not intellectually taxing, but visually appealing. The plot’s a little simple for such a big budget flick, but it works, except the tacked on “complicated” ending weakens it. It’s not a remake, which I liked. Some good performances. Mark Walberg’s rather invisible as the human lead, and Helena Bonham Carter somehow still comes across as human. But Tim Roth as the evil ape is absolutely magnificent: completely believable as an ape with his frantic outbursts of rage, flickering eyes and rapid movements, and yet human in his greed and lust. He’s an evil character with little good (unlike so many “gray” evil characters in modern films), which is a refreshing change as you can root for his demise with no guilt. The film looks great, has a nice twist midway through, and the apes are definitely an improvement over the original film, but the film wasn’t as dark as I would have liked. At times the film reminded me of the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park — remarkably evil and frightening — but then it would make the apes do human-like things and they’d lose their power to frighten. Overall, it’s a fun flick and worth seeing if you liked the original and/or enjoy science fiction.

Topic: [/movie]

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Sun, Jul 22, 2001

: Little Nicky

Lame, lame, lame. Extremely unfunny story about the Devil’s son who must go to earth on a mission to save his father’s life. I think I laughed once, and that wasn’t much more than a smile at one joke. There were a few things that were mildly amusing, but the whole film just reeked of bad taste, bizarre performances, and weird humor. (To give you one example of the “humor,” “Doughnuts are fat free in heaven.”) Not worth ten cents of your time.

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Sat, Jul 21, 2001

: MLS: Dallas at Chicago

Strange game. Graziani put Dallas in front in the 11th minute, but Stoitchkov was given two penalty kick chances (the second one extremely questionable). He missed the first (sent it wide) but finished the second to equalize. In overtime his splendid cross went right to Wynalda’s head and he finished it perfectly, giving Chicago the Golden Goal win. Final: 2-1 Chicago.

Topic: [/soccer]

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: MLS: San Jose at Columbus

Good game, though the result didn’t go San Jose’s way. They played the better of the two teams, however, and deserved the win, putting in the most shots and really making Columbus work to keep them out of the goal. Perez caught San Jose out on a counter-attack in the 18th minute to put Columbus up, but Jeff Agoos’s determination and drive forced a goal in the final minutes of the first half to equalize. It looked like San Jose was building the momentum, but minutes into the second half, Elcock’s seemingly harmless run into the corner proved deadly when he drove a perfect shot from an impossible angle and it went into the net. A very impressive goal. Final: 2-1 Columbus.

Topic: [/soccer]

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: MLS: D.C. at New York

D.C.’s hero and goat was Carrey Talley, who’s goal put them ahead, but who’s own goal gave the win to New York in the final minutes. Billy Walsh tied the game for the Metrostars. Final: 2-1 New York.

Topic: [/soccer]

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: MLS: Colorado at Tampa Bay

It was all Bravo as he scored twice in the first twenty minutes (the second on a rebounded post shot that John Spencer put in). Final: 2-0 Colorado.

Topic: [/soccer]

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Wed, Jul 18, 2001

: MLS: Tampa Bay at Dallas

Tampa’s struggles continue as Dallas just dominates. Kreis got things going with a goal off an indirect free kick late in the first half, and then Graziani put in a rebound in the second to push the Burn forward. Rodriquez’s penalty kick put the result beyond question. Final: 3-0 Dallas.

Topic: [/soccer]

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Sun, Jul 15, 2001

: Repo Man

Very odd film. I can’t remember why I rented it, except it was supposed to be a classic. A guess that meant a cult classic, because this is a bizarre and terrible film. It’s a dumb story about morons. The plot is a mishmash about a kid who gets a job repossessing cars, a group of UFO fanatics who hide alien corpses in the trunk of car (which, duh, gets repossessed), and secret government types out to hide the reality of aliens in our midst. The film’s got some humor (some of it’s just odd, some of it is a bit of social commentary) which helps, but it’s also got a nasty tone with lots of swearing and dark violence which is at odds with the silly humor. I found the movie uncomfortable to watch. I suppose I would have liked it better if I’d known a bit more of what to expect — sort of an Airplane crossed with The X-Files — but the film is a little too serious to be taken as a parody, yet to unrealistic to be a UFO or sci-fi film. It’s a strange beast. I can see how it could be a cult classic, and usually I love those, but this one I can do without.

Topic: [/movie]

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Sat, Jul 14, 2001

: Finding Forrester

I really wanted to like this movie about a brilliant 16-year-old writer growing up in the Bronx who finds out the strange old man watching him is really the eccentric and elusive writer William Forrester who wrote one Pulitzer-winning novel and disappeared from public view. The film had some good stuff, but was far too long and slow. I didn’t understand the basketball stuff: the director assumed I’d understand the game, but I couldn’t even tell which team was which. (I am the opposite of a basketball fan. I don’t even consider basketball a sport: it’s just a semi-athletic endeavor for tall people.) I didn’t understand the significance of things like the silly game-winning free throw at the end of the film — it just felt contrived to me. Perhaps I was missing something, or perhaps it really was dumb. I don’t know. I did like some of the writing-related material, but even there the film was on the weak side, not really explaining anything, not going into much depth. Basically the film tries to keep Sean Connery’s character (Forrester) mysterious and assumes that mystery equals profundity, but instead we get trite platitudes and boredom. Not a great film. Interesting, but could have been much, much better. I think I was more disappointed by the film’s waste of potential than disappointed by anything in the movie itself; on it’s own the film isn’t bad, but it saddens me to think how good it could have been.

Topic: [/movie]

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: MLS: D.C. at New England

D.C. definitely dominated this game. They started and finished with goals from 16-year-old Quaranta, sandwiched with a goal from Moreno. Sunsing gave New England a little respect, but it wasn’t enough. Final: 3-1 D.C.

Topic: [/soccer]

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: MLS: Colorado at Chicago

Excellent game. It was all Chicago. Colorado’s Robin Fraser was ejected just 30 minutes in for taking down Jamar Beasley. Still, somehow Colorado held on, with keeper Garlick putting up some great saves. Finally, with overtime looming, an amazing lob by the great Stoitchkov won the game for Chicago. A long bomb from Chris Armas at the back went over everyone except Stoitchkov, who let it bounce once, then chipped it over Garlick. Awesome goal. Final: 1-0 Chicago.

Topic: [/soccer]

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: MLS: Tampa Bay at San Jose

Great game! After a loss to Colorado last weekend, I wondered if San Jose would rebound (unlike Miami, which has lost several in a row). Rebound they did. San Jose clearly dominated play, and their defense was fairly solid, even without Jeff Agoos at the back (out with an injury). Former Mutiny player Manny Lagos got revenge with a 4th minute goal to put San Jose ahead. DeRosario puts forth a great through-pass to Manny who fights off two to get some room and slip it past keeper Adin Brown. Tampa fought back with some good chances of their own, but Cannon and San Jose kept the ball out of their net. In the second half, the Quakes poured on the offense, forcing Adin Brown in a dozen spectacular saves: he was easily the man of the match for the Mutiny. He stopped point-blank chances from Donovan, DeRosario, and Cerritos. Then the Mutiny got a break: a slight touch in the box brought down Diallo who equalized on the penalty kick. It looked like we were heading to extra time but then, with literally seconds left, Donovan ran toward the Mutiny’s back line with the ball. Faced with a wall of players he pulled back and ran away, only to suddenly turn and lift the ball with a delicate lob over the defense. Keeper Adin Brown saw the danger and started to come off his line, but he was too late: a darting Manny Lagos, brilliantly spotted by Donovan, ran onto the lob and headed it perfectly over the onrushing Brown to give the Quakes the win! Final: 2-1 San Jose!

Topic: [/soccer]

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: MLS: Miami at Los Angeles

Excellent game, though the league-leading Fusion are suddenly impotent for three games straight. Hernandez gets a header over keeper Rimando to put L.A. ahead in the 8th minute. Then a PK is awarded to Miami, but Hartman, amazingly, stops Preki’s left-footed blast! Miami had some good chances, but the post and Hartman kept them out. Late in the game Adam Frye wins a scramble in the box to slide a ball into the goal. In injury time, Jones is taken down in the box for a PK, and Vanney finishes it off. (One side comment on Vanney: I like him, but he had an instance just before the PK where he refused to give the ball back to the other team when they wanted to put the ball back in play quickly. Vanney childishly kept the ball away, which started a scuffle and nearly a fight, and of course after that the ref had to award yellows to both teams. Vanney should have been given a yellow immediately by the ref, or maybe even a red. I can’t stand that sort of ridiculous time-wasting, especially by a team that’s ahead by two goals. Obviously Miami shouldn’t have reacted violently to Vanney’s move, but part of the reason players do that is because the refs don’t punish that kind of time-wasting properly. If the refs would regularly send off players that do that, it would stop in a hurry, let me tell you. Once the ref blows the whistle on a play, the ball should just be left where it is and whichever team is supposed to take the kick ought to pick it up and put it back in play.) Final: 3-0 Los Angeles.

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Mon, Jul 09, 2001

: Vacation!

This week is my first back from a week’s vacation. What a trip! I left Thursday evening, June 28, and traveled to Oakland to pick up my cousin. We then drove that night to Fresno. The next day we got up at five-thirty and loaded all of my mother’s furniture and belongings into a U-Haul truck and started the drive for Oregon. We dropped my car off at my Uncle’s at Lawrence Livermore Labs where he works, then continued on our way. That afternoon, at about 3 o’clock, 40 miles south of Redding, we had a flat tire. Fortunately the U-Haul has double-tires, so it wasn’t the end of the world. We drove slowly and got off five miles down the road, found a telephone, waited on hold for 30 minutes, and discovered that there was a Goodyear tire place within a couple blocks! Minutes later the tire was replaced and we were on the road. But the adventure did set us back a couple hours. Since our schedule was blown, we took our time, stopping for a nice sit-down dinner at an expensive (but wonderful) Italian restaurant in Ashland, Oregon, and continued driving throughout the night. At about 2 a.m. we were rudely awakened by a dark flying shape which collided with the windshield of the truck! In retrospect we concluded it was a bat. It struck very hard, though it didn’t break the glass or anything, but it was so odd and startling, it woke us up for the rest of the trip. We finally made it to my grandfather’s home in Oceanside, Oregon (west of Tillamook and a mile from the beach) at five in the morning. Our journey had taken us a full twenty-four hours!

After that, we relaxed and slept, though we did have to unload and return the rented truck Saturday evening. Then it was time for golfing. Last summer I got the bug, and this summer I bought a set of clubs and decided to actually learn how to play. I practiced at the driving range, the petite nine-hole par 3, and the full 5300-yard 18-hole Alderbrook Golf Course. I played some golf just about every day, including the big course on four occasions. During the week I learned a great deal and my game went from over double-par to slightly under. The main thing for me was not my overall score (I’m too inconsistent for that to be affected yet), but to see if I could control my shots a little better and actually make a few shots. I did well in that respect, putting forth a few good drives, some nice irons (including a few tricky ones behind trees that got me out of trouble), and a few pitching wedge chips that surprised me! My best was a bogey on a par 4 400 yard hole where I managed, for my first time ever, three good shots in a row (I usually can’t hit good even twice in a row). I hit a decent 200+ yard drive, a nice long iron that put me near the green, and a chip that put me six or seven feet from the hole. Of course I missed the par put, but easily earned my bogey, and for me that was great golf. (I never did make par on any hole, but I did manage a few bogeyes, which is a good target for me.) I’ll practice this year and see how much better I am by my next Oceanside visit.

I watched a few movies on vacation, but I didn’t keep track of them for reviewing, so I won’t. Same for the patches of soccer I got to see. Mostly it was a chance to relax, enjoy seeing some relatives I hadn’t seen in a while, and play some golf.

I haven’t yet put up pictures from trip, but I’ll do so at some point.

Topic: [/travel]

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