Fri, Aug 31, 2001

: Site Updates

I’m trying to decide what to do about updates to this site. I’m thinking of dropping the soccer coverage of each game I watch: there are just too many, and it takes a lot of time to write up about them. I’m thinking of just focusing on a few key matches, like World Cup qualifiers and Earthquakes games I see in person. Another idea is to post a summary of a weekend’s worth of games just listing the scores. We’ll see what I decide to do!

Topic: [/zweb]

Link

Fri, Aug 24, 2001

: Supercup: Liverpool versus Bayern Munich

What a game! Last year’s Champions League winner against the UEFA Cup winner. Liverpool’s off to a great start this season with a win over West Ham on two Michael Owen goals, and he did it again in this game. Early in the first half his cross set up a teammate, and Heskey finished a great chance of his own just before the break. He caught a through-pass then easily outran the defenders and finished around a diving Khan. As the second half started, Munich had reason to wear red: ten seconds in Owen received a long ball from the back, darted forward with it, and put it past Khan to give Liverpool a 3-0 lead. Wild! Finally, with 30 minutes to go, Bayern showed signs of life when one of the smallest on the pitch, Salihamidozic, put in a great header to get one back. Then, after a lull, they got another with 10 minutes left, with Jancker’s header. But even with Khan playing forward and leaving his goal empty, Bayern couldn’t do it. Final: 3-2 Liverpool!

Topic: [/soccer]

Link

Thu, Aug 23, 2001

: Tivo Upgrade

This week I received up Tivo 80GB hard drive upgrade ($229 from www.digitalrecorder.tv/). Installing it was a simple hard drive swap of the existing drive (this does, apparently, void my Tivo warranty). The most difficult part was reinitializing everything to my settings again. This time I connected Tivo to DirecTV as well as cable, which is great. Now Tivo has 88 hours of time to record stuff for me! It will record all my soccer games and I don’t have to worry about not having enough blank videotape (there are as many as ten on a weekend). Even better, everything is random access, so I can watch what I want when I want, not the order that I recorded it. I can also watch one thing while recording another, which is incredibly useful. A great upgrade.

Topic: [/movie]

Link

Wed, Aug 22, 2001

: The Way of the Gun

Strange convoluted mismash about idiot kidnappers who steal a pregnant girl who’s having a baby for hire. Distasteful. I don’t care about any of these people, let alone their miserable lives. Worthless.

Topic: [/movie]

Link

: Open Cup Semis

Two terrific semi-finals tonight in the Open Cup. D.C. lost to a surprising New England, who played very well, with two great goals by Andy Williams. D.C. had two players sent off. The first was harsh, but the second deserved. For both teams, the Open Cup is their season (though NE has a slight chance of reaching the playoffs). The second game was a repeat of last year’s L.A./Chicago clash, when Josh Wolff got a late game winner, and this year’s game was very similar. The two teams played hard and well, but neither could break the deadlock. In extratime, it was substitute Alexi Lalas who scored the winner for L.A., scoring with his head off a corner kick. Revenge is sweet! So the final will be on Oct. 27 between the L.A. Galaxy and the N.E. Revolution. Should be good.

Topic: [/soccer]

Link

Sat, Aug 18, 2001

: MLS: Chicago at San Jose

Terrific, high-paced game, with the Quakes having tons of chances (including a few sitters), but failing to capitalize. Donovan played well, but he can’t do it on his own, especially against a team as organized as the Fire. Still, though the Fire are arguably the best team in the league, San Jose looked good and weren’t overwhelmed, though their possession play was more frantic and haphazard than Chicago’s. Disappointing result, especially considering all the chances (the Fire’s Zack Thorton had nine saves), but nothing to be ashamed of. The Quakes lose their first home game since the home opener! Final: 1-0 Chicago.

Topic: [/soccer]

Link

Mon, Aug 13, 2001

: Offside: Soccer and American Exceptionalism

Author: Andrei S. Markovits and Steven L. Hellerman

Fascinating book. In sociology, “American Exceptionalism” is an area (usually political) in which the United States is completely different (exceptional) from the rest of the world. Author Markovits realized that sports is another example of American Exceptionalism: while nearly the entire world is united in watching soccer, American does not. And yet just as American ignores soccer, the rest of the world ignores the American “Big Three” of American football, baseball, and basketball. Why is that? Why is there such a sporting disparity between America and the rest of the world?

Even if you’re not a fan of soccer, or even interested in sports, this is a topic that should appeal to your cultural curiosity. A simplistic answer could be that Americans simply aren’t used to soccer and the rest of the world is unfamiliar with our sports, but Markovits goes much deeper. He explores the history of amateur and professional sports in the United States and you may be surprised to see how prominent soccer was in the U.S. a hundred years ago. I learned many things in reading this book, including the surprising fact that college football was more popular than professional until just a few decades ago. It was college football that displaced soccer — collegiate sports being the lead-in to the pros. College sports are another American exception since around the world, kids go from high school right into professional soccer. (In fact, now that the United States has a professional soccer league in Major League Soccer, students are doing just that, and it’s a good thing, since soccer in American colleges is played with completely different rules than “real” soccer; yet another American exception.)

If you are fascinated by the sporting culture, society in general, or wonder what the world will be like in fifty years as we become a truly global nation, you need to read this book. Understanding the sporting culture of both American and the rest of the world is an important step to understanding society.

Markovits doesn’t give solutions to the lack of enthusiasm Americans in general have shown to soccer, but he does conclude that there is hope. MLS is going well, and fulfilling its major goal in that it is producing new young American soccer stars like San Jose’s Landon Donovan which will (hopefully) help lead the United States to success on an international level. There’s also the advent of women’s soccer, which is wildly popular in the U.S., while — oddly — mocked in other countries. The future’s looking bright for American soccer, but only time will tell if soccer can become America’s fourth sport.

Topic: [/book]

Link

Sun, Aug 12, 2001

: Time Code

Author: Mike Figis

Unusual film. Like most of Figis’ films, it’s overlong, slow, and boring. In this case that’s a surprise, since it’s four films happening at once. The entire movie is an experiment: the screen is split into four screens in which multiple interrelated stories take place. Sometimes you see the same story from multiple viewpoints. Interesting idea, but since the whole film takes place in real-time, there are long periods in which nothing happens in one or more quadrants. For instance, in one, a woman waits in a limo, smoking and reading for thirty minutes. Yeah, that’s entertainment. The film’s multiple plots are interrelated and occasionally interesting, but the whole thing’s too disjointed to be a real movie. It’s an interesting experiment, but nothing more, and despite the presence of a number of big stars, it’s not a good film.

Topic: [/movie]

Link

Sat, Aug 11, 2001

: MLS: Tampa Bay at Chicago

Maesner started things off well for Tampa, but a penalty kick by Wynalda equalized things late in the half. He scored again in the second half — a header on a feed from Nowak — and Nowak added one of his own later, and that was the end for Tampa. Final: 3-1 Chicago.

Topic: [/soccer]

Link

: WUSA: New York at D.C.

Good game, with D.C. trying to act as spoiler to New York’s playoff hopes. But a goal from Elspeth late in the first half, followed by a nice finish by league-leading scorer Tiffany Millbret gave New York a decisive victory and ended San Diego’s playoff dreams. Final: 2-0 New York.

Topic: [/soccer]

Link

: MLS: Columbus at San Jose

Great game. Ronald Cerritos struck an amazing volley from 25 yards out to give the Earthquakes the early lead. But it was wiped out less than two minutes later when the Crew equalized. Joe Cannon made a great first stop, and the follow-up was blocked, but Cunningham managed to sneak the third try through the posts. Just before the half Cerritos struck again to give SJ the lead again, but once again, the Quakes gave up a goal minutes later, early in the second half. Warzycha’s free kick was deflected to throw off Joe Cannon and it went into the goal despite his hand touching the ball. After that the game seesawed, with both sides having good chances, including a couple great ones from Donovan. But in the end, even after ten minutes of overtime, the game finished a draw. Final: 2-2.

Topic: [/soccer]

Link

Fri, Aug 10, 2001

: Cast Away

I didn’t want to like this movie. It seemed like just another retread of Robinson Crusoe, and yes, that’s exactly what it turned out to be. I saw very little that I didn’t expect: I swear I could have written out the plot myself in advance. Much of the drama was forced and heavy-handed. For instance in the first few minutes Tom Hanks’ calls his girlfriend from Moscow and just happens to mention he needs a dentist appointment for a tooth that’s bothering him. “Oh great,” I immediately think, “we’ll be having an overly dramatic home dental surgery demonstration on the island.” Sure enough, that’s what happened (though I didn’t know he’d use an ice skate). At other times the direction is too obvious: Tom flicking a lighter that instantly flames to show how “easy” it is to get fire (in contrast to his having to create fire via friction). But despite all that, I did like the film. It was well done, though there was nothing earthshattering about it. Just a realistic story about a man surviving for years on a deserted island. Hanks did a good job; he blended into the role completely, which is excellent acting, but I thought his character was a little boring. The special effects and plane crash and storms were very well done. Overall, a decent film, though lacking in depth. It tries to explore some complex issues (like Hanks coming home to find his girlfriend married with children), but it doesn’t explore them beyond introducing the potential problems. For me, the film Alive did all this so much better with a positive message.

Topic: [/movie]

Link

Wed, Aug 08, 2001

: MLS: San Jose at New England

Awesome game! Coming off their incredible 5-1 win over Dallas, New England had some momentum, but San Jose doused cold water on that quickly. Coach Yallop changed the lineup slightly, starting Agogo and benching Cerritos, and the results were dramatic. Landon Donovan played like a pro, scoring two goals and two assists in the game. (The second was a penalty kick which he didn’t miss the way De Rosario did last week.) Agogo got two goals of his own (his first in a Quake uniform), and no rout would be complete without Manny Lagos scoring a goal. New England got their own penalty kick (roofed by Cate) on a questionable call against Lagos in the box. San Jose’s penalty was a handball by former Quake Mauricio Wright who was red carded. Two other red cards were given out late in the game, one to Alvarez of New England and one to Corrales of San Jose. But the Quakes were just glad to be back in form. Final: 5-1 San Jose.

Topic: [/soccer]

Link

Sat, Aug 04, 2001

: MLS: Miami at New York

Cool game. Faria had three chances in the first ten minutes and finished one of them to give NY the lead, but Preki later equalized when he was set up by a poor NY clear and he drove in a perfectly flighted left-footed chip over keeper Tim Howard who was off his line. But Miami was having other problems: McKinley was sent off with a red card in the first half, and in the second Bishop followed leaving them down by two. Then Mark Chung got his second goal of the year and the game winner. Final: 2-1 New York.

Topic: [/soccer]

Link

: MLS: San Jose at Tampa Bay

A frustrating game for the Quakes. They fought and fought, but a combination of bad luck and great goalkeeping kept the ball from going into the net. A mistake at the back allowed Josh Keller a shot, which he finished, and Danny Pena chipped a head over Joe Cannon to put Tampa up by two. De Rosario had a chance to get one back on a penalty kick, but he didn’t strike it well and Adin Brown intercepted it to preserve the shutout. Brown was truly impressive, saving nearly a dozen sure goals in the game. Not a good result for the Quakes, who with their second loss in a row, need to get something going (though they remain in first place in the West). Final: 2-0 Tampa.

Topic: [/soccer]

Link

: MLS: Chicago at Colorado

Okay game. Good “win” for Chicago: Colorado really needed the three points. They started off well with a goal from Balboa, but Jamar Beasley equalized and that’s the way it finished. Final: 1-1.

Topic: [/soccer]

Link

Wed, Aug 01, 2001

: MLS: Miami at D.C.

Good game. D.C. started early with Conteh scoring twice, including a back-heeled goal that was incredibly impressive. Miami came back in the second half with goals from Chacon and Serna to tie things. In the ten minutes of overtime that followed, neither team could score. Final: 2-2.

Topic: [/soccer]

Link

: The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon

Author: Stephen King (book)

I had no idea who Tom Gordon was when I got this (he’s apparently a baseball pitcher) but it turned out to be a cool book. It’s not about baseball at all, but about a little girl who gets lost in the woods and survives on her own. She survives in part because she gains strength by acting like her hero, Tom Gordon. Like him, she has “veins of ice.” Well written, quick reading, exciting, and fascinating. A surprising change of pace from King.

Topic: [/book]

Link