Sunday, September 30, 2007

John McCain Irrelevant to Presidential Campaign; Still Utter Douchebag

Well, this is refreshing. John McCain (R-Douchebaggery) asserted in an internet interview on Saturday that the Constitution says America is a Christian nation.

Mr. McCain said in the interview that he agreed with the results of a poll that showed that a majority of Americans believe the Constitution establishes a Christian nation.

“I would probably have to say yes, that the Constitution established the United States of America as a Christian nation,” he said.

No word on whether he also agrees with the majority of Americans--quite possibly the same respondents--who believe God created the earth in seven days and had Noah march T. rexes into the ark two by two.


Goddammit. Anyone declaring their candidacy for president should be required to pass a high school civics exam before their name goes on the ballot. And any of them spouting this Christian Nation bullshit should go back to remedial Bible class and circle the passages relating Christ's governmental analogies for the kingdom of God--plenty of references there to kings, none to constitutional republics that I recall.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Sigh

When is true character revealed? What criteria do you use to judge a person? Is it when things are swimming along, or is it when things go straight to hell? Hope Solo has been banished from the National Team following her blistering 30-second commentary after the 0-4 loss to Brazil, by the decision of coach Greg Ryan but also by the concurrence of "team leaders," which probably means captain Kristine Lilly and leading scorer Abby Wambach.

Solo had become a distraction, they said, and principles of team unity dictated that she had to go. No word on the distraction her benching caused in the first place. No word on the impact team unity suffered when Ryan blamed the loss on Leslie Osborne's own goal three times in the span of a 45-second postgame interview. Solo never had the reputation of a troublemaker, just a fierce competitor. Just like Scurry. And she lashed out after being relegated to the bench on the eve of the biggest match the team had yet to play during her tenure, just like Scurry did after being benched for Suri Mullinix during the 2000 Olympics.

A tough competitor was caught in an intensely emotional moment and said some impolitic things. Does the heat of the moment mean we should be more lenient in our judgment of her statements, or less? Does pressure make your true colors glow more vividly, or does it leach them? In the end, we don't know what went on in the locker room after the game or at the team hotel after Solo's remarks went worldwide. But, in the end, the team (or the coaches, or the federation) came down on the side of heat-of-the-moment yapping causing irreparable harm to the team dynamic, no matter how accurate that talk struck damn near everyone who heard it, and the imperative to toe the company line gained primacy over all else. And players I admire dutifully repeated it as they closed ranks to head into the third-place game with their number one keeper banned from the stadium. And somewhere Greg Ryan is chuckling maniacally over successfully deflecting justified mountains of criticism for his crappy coaching onto a young player who spoke in the heat of the moment and will likely be cashiered from the national team for it.
Added forward Abby Wambach: "It just goes to show you have to be professional all the time and you have to watch what you say."

And that, y'all, is simultaneously the motto and the epitaph of the women's soccer program. Keep watching your mouth, Abby. I hoped for more from you.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Ay Ay Ay Ay

And just like that, the US women's soccer program transformed overnight from a story you read uneasily, just knowing there's no way in hell it's going to end well, to a full-blown telenovela complete with foreshadowed failure, betrayal, heated words, the reappearance of characters from the past, and changing loyalties. Ryan benches Solo, Solo lashes out, Ryan snipes back, Foudy and Chastain spank Ryan, Foudy slides in a slap at Solo, BigSoccer message boards see more traffic (complete with gridlock and multiple drive-bys) on the women's side than any time in recent history.

This US team wanted the same media buzz that surrounded the 1999 champions, and they're sure getting it now. Just not in the same, uh, what's the word--oh, yeah, "positive"--way as the '99ers. What conclusions can we draw from what is rapidly becoming one of the sorriest two weeks in American sporting history?

The federation's top-down control of development has stifled technical development and creativity. To make it into the player pools at any age level, girls must demonstrate proficiency in the boot-and-chase system that's been in place since the Heinrichs regime. It's the soccer equivalent of elementary and high schools teaching to aptitude tests rather than than teaching critical thinking along with rote memorization, and then wondering why kids get to college and bomb in their freshman writing seminars.

The long-term residency program is detrimental to players' tactical sharpness. God love Abby Wambach--and I most definitely do--but when she repeatedly says that the US players' lack of international club experience is not a problem because "we get the best competition in the world every day at practice," I have to wonder if she's really that short-sighted or is simply saying what she's been instructed to say. And then I wonder which of those is the less distressing possibility. Going up against the same players who come out of the same system every day only teaches you how to beat those players and that system. After a few times you'll know everyone's tendencies, and you'll be anticipating moves rather than learning how to react to unfamiliar tactics and personnel. Club teams will not match up with the US roster in terms of individual skill, top-down, but playing in meaningful games every week against rotating opposition creates pressure, exposes players to adversity, and hones their reactions to changing circumstances in ways that end-of-practice scrimmages never will.

Success at the international level requires informed flexibility in tactics and personnel, the ability to recognize when something--say, the 4-3-3--is not working, and a level of trust in the roster to make changes on the fly. But it also requires that the right choices be made. Ryan's failure to substitute in pool play and the quarterfinal has been shredded by roughly two zillion people already, as has his inexplicable choices when he did finally make changes in the semi, and I'm too downtrodden to repeat it all here. Try Googling "Greg Ryan is a numbnuts" if you're into self-flagellation.

Oh, and bring the friggin' team psychologist with you when you go to a tournament, and remember that keepers are different from field players, and women are different from men. Ryan's comment that Solo's mental state after being benched "is not my concern" reveals volumes.

Mia Hamm, wisely, is staying above the fray on this one. Chastain, predictably, is not. Foudy's taking swings at all comers. Lilly and Wambach have been silent, probably due to a combination of good judgment and a clampdown by US Soccer on anyone else on the active roster opening their yaps until this one is long over. It's been a disheartening 24 hours. I'm glad so many people do seem to give a shit, but it feels like the world is coming apart. We've been exposed, and it's going to be a long hard slog up out of this hole.

Political ranting is scheduled to return over the weekend.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

AAAAAAAAAUUUUUUUUUGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!

Mmmm, long list of fuck 'ems to go through this morning.

Fuck Greg Ryan. After the match he said he didn't think the Great Keeper Swap had anything to do with the outcome. Maybe Marta's admittedly amazing individual skills would have brought Brazil out on top at the end no matter what, but Scurry's timing was clearly a bit rusty and, from the looks of things, the defenders did not trust her enough to let balls she was surely screaming for go through. Do you really think she wasn't calling for the ball on the corner in the 20th minute? The one (US midfielder) Osborne came flying in on under no pressure to mis-head into the US goal? What about the through ball late in the game Scurry came out and dove to grab, only to have Rampone come flying in to attempt a clearance that rebounded off the Brazilian attacker just wide of the goal?

No way can you pull that kind of surprise move at this point in the tournament and not rattle your back line. And, more importantly for the long-term success of a program that made an early commitment to a 25-year-old goalkeeper, no way can you pull the rug out from under her like that without serious repercussions for her confidence. As a player, you have to be able to trust your coaches. Baffling moves that get a positive result build the team up. Baffling moves that leave you walking off at the wrong end of the scoreboard tear individual players down.

What is Solo supposed to do now--just tell herself she'll prove Ryan wrong? How, exactly? She proved him right in sticking with her by playing through the early error against North Korea and being a rock for the team. This is her reward for that display of mental toughness--a seat on the bench, with a well-timed poke in the ribs from Natasha Kai reminding her to sit up straight when Kai noticed the FIFA camera beaming Solo's glowering, staring-at-her-shoes form to the stadium bigscreens and televisions around the world. And Scurry? She was put into an impossible position. Nice going-away present she got from her coach.

Fuck Greg Ryan, also, for finally remembering he's allowed mid-game subs but using them, at 0-3 down, to put more defenders on the field. You're already down a player (more on that later) and need to put pressure on goal, so you... take off the fastest player you have on the field (O'Reilly) and bring on Ellertson (who is fast, but was put in to play center back). And then when Markgraf goes down to an ankle injury you bring on... Marian Dalmy? To what end, exactly? To try to keep the score respectable on Brazil's end, rather than trying to get the zero off the scoreboard? God bless Julie Foudy: you know, when you're down 3-0 there's really no point in man-marking Marta. Well, if US Soccer sticks with Ryan as coach, they know now that they can really save the bucks in their travel budget for the Olympics by only bringing 14 players instead of 21. Nice knowing you, Tarp. See ya, Aly. Keep it real, Tash.

Fuck Nicole Petignat. The Swiss referee had been strong in previous games, but here made a complete shit call that directly impacted the match. Boxx was already carrying a yellow from an earlier tackle (fair enough) when Brazilian Christiane tangled feet with her. From behind. Behind play, where the referee wasn't looking. Petignat looked over her shoulder, saw the players on the ground, and popped the second yellow on Boxx. To her credit, Boxxy just left instead of punching Petignat, but the US were left a man down for the entire second half. Already 0-2 down, the sending-off was the final nail in momentum's coffin today. The US were on their heels from the start of the second half and only managed one real chance, which Lilly popped directly to the keeper. So maybe it didn't matter that instead of calling a penalty when a Brazilian defender knocked the ball over the endline with her arm whilst defending against Chalupny's run, she gave a goal kick. Petignat did a decent job of keeping the game under control, but Jesus, the Boxx call was just inexcusable.

And, finally, fuck Brazil, not because they thrashed us, but because of all the diving, flopping, rolling-around-crying like somebody took a sledgehammer to your kneecaps. Yo, Brazil: you're better than that. You've proven that you're better than that, with the individual skills and team creativity to run circles around your opposition. Flopping to the ground with your arms waving ain't fucking jogo bonito. It's ugly. So just fucking play soccer and show you're better than your men.

Mad props to the ESPN commentators, Julie Foudy and Tony DiCicco in particular, for not pulling punches about Ryan's dipshit personnel decisions and the distractions they caused for his team. Foudy left me howling on a couple of her comments, while DiCicco showed remarkable tact and restraint in his critiques of Ryan's moves.

Oh, and look out, anybody who gets in Hope Solo's way the next few days. She had Death Glare radiating out of her in waves.

Sigh. The US really dominated the possession in the first 30 minutes or so, but couldn't finish any of their chances. No attack was discernible in the second half, as they were reduced to chasing the ball; as we saw too many times in group play, the US forwards spent most of their time in the midfield or defensive third just trying to get a touch on the ball. Time to reassess the system (4-3-3, you're so done), competition schedule, and game management.

edited to add: Mad props, also, to Marta. She's magic on the ball.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Great Moments in Public Art

The Geostationary Banana Over Texas. (h/t Shakesville)

When We Said We Wanted You to Sub, We Didn't Mean the Keeper

Got the Crock-Pot plugged in, the onions and potatoes and carrots chopped and ready to go, the chicken broth simmering, everything all set for adding one crow, plucked, in the event that benching the starting keeper for the semi-final turns out to be the most brilliant coaching move in the history of women's soccer.

But right now I'm convinced that Greg Ryan is an idiot.

Love Brianna Scurry. She's one of my all-time favorites. She did start in the last game against the Brazilians, which the US won 2-1, but hasn't played in a match since. Hope Solo has built a head of steam after conceding the one weak goal to North Korea in the opening match of the World Cup, and, more importantly, has established a rhythm with the back line. Bri is tough as nails and is better on quick-reaction saves, but doesn't have Solo's footwork, leg strength, or height--and Solo's extra couple inches have made a difference on at least one save (the game-salvaging full-stretch deflection in extra time against North Korea).

The US have managed to muddle through Ryan's baffling personnel decisions on ability alone, and maybe this change won't throw the defense for nearly the loop I'm anticipating. But Jesus Christ, man, you're fucking with the chemistry in a major bad way the night before the semi-final. You discussed the possibility of a keeper change for Brazil with Scurry before the Cup even started, but didn't get around to mentioning it to the rest of the team, including the starting keeper, until now?!? Solo is pissed and the entire team has to be wondering what the fuck is going on. What shape is Solo's head going to be in for the final, should they get past Brazil? Ryan says that's not his concern. I rather think it is.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Ahmedinejad: No Gays in Iran. Breaking News: No Stars in Sky, Either.



Honestly, Ahmedinejad's fingers-in-ears, la-la-la-I-can't-hear-you assertion that there are no gays in Iran is not much more than Pray Away Teh Gay writ large. Except that in Iran it's morphed to the level of Execute Away Teh Gay. Maybe Mahmoud just meant he thinks the last of them have finally been stamped out.


Too bad there's not a way to embed YouTube videos without the raftload of asinine comments that come along for the ride. At least I've been around long enough to be sufficiently numbed against people jumping onto the Kill 'Em All bandwagon.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Weekend Snakeblogging

A couple of hours after the world cup games Saturday morning were plenty for a leisurely jaunt up the Green Mountain trail in the Catalinas. I hadn't been on this one before; it's going to turn into one of my favorites, given my inordinate fondness for damp creekbeds, ferns, and big big rocks. The trailhead is at the back of the General Hitchcock campground, roughly 5,000 ft up, but you can pick it up by following the streambed that runs uphill behind the Bear Canyon and Chihuahua Pine picnic areas.






















Water strider (middle left) skimming along next to a ponderosa
pine reflected in a late-season pool.


The added bonus came on the way back to the truck, when I doubled my career snake sightings in the span of about fifty yards. First up was a two-foot Arizona Black Rattlesnake that was heading across a large rock in the streambed just ahead of me. Note to non-Arizona readers contemplating a hike here: don't mess with rattlesnakes. Give 'em a nice wide berth, take advantage of the zoom function on your camera, and move along.


















Mildly annoyed rattlesnake.

I immediately started paying much closer attention to where I was stepping, and a few minutes later did a better job of spotting the Sonoran Desert Kingsnake slithering across a remnant sandbar.


















Kingsnake.

Kingsnakes slurp up rattlesnakes like spaghetti, but this one was probably too small yet to pose much of a threat to the guy upstream. Isn't he handsome?


















Red next to black, friend of Jack.

On to the Semis

Redemption for Boxxy! I was skeptical about the midfield lineup coming in, with two career central holding mids starting on the wings flaking Chalupny, but it worked. Osbourne shut down Kelly Smith and Shannon Boxx got off the schneid in a big way, with a lovely sequence starting when she won the ball 30 yards out with a trademark strong tackle and ending when she deftly touched the ball forward into space and sent a left-footed shot just inside the right post off the diving England keeper. That goal was bookended by another deadly strike from Wambach's head off a corner and Lil following on a grave misjudgment by the keeper.

Quality possession was the difference in this game, finally, although Greg Ryan's substitutions strategy--or, more accurately, the lack thereof--still mystifies me. 3-0 up you need to take the opportunity to rest legs and get unused players some minutes... so he inserted Carli Lloyd, again, instead of Lindsay Tarpley, and Kai, again, for a few meaningless minutes. I still think Tarpley and O'Reilly on the field at the same time would create problems for the Germany defense that would prevent them from being able to key on the Lilly-Wambach combination that has kept the US in the Cup thus far.

Mad props to Stephanie Lopez, who continues to not only be rock solid at outside back but is threatening to one-up the Wombat in the toughness department, taking three staples to close a head gash opened up by an England boot in the first half and returning to the field a scant two minutes later. Staples! Speaking of Wombat and head wounds, England need to get off it regarding the elbow to Faye White's nose. Wambach's not the intentional-elbow-to-the-face kind of player (none of the US players are, actually), and the replay clearly shows she was simply spinning around trying to possess the ball. It happens.

In other news, for the second Cup in a row, Australia get screwed by diving opposition and a complicit ref. Just like the Socceroos against Italy in the last men's Cup, the Matildas were victimized by a dive in (into, actually) the box that gave Brazil a penalty. Watch the replay to see the foul clearly occurring outside the area, with the impressive air under the swan dive landing the Brazilian in the area and the ball on the penalty spot. Then, in the second half, a hard tackle on an Australia player sixteen yards out went uncalled. I do not like this German referee. In any event, Brazil are through but showed vulnerability in the face of both set pieces and quick counter-attacks. O'Reilly's speed up top and the threat of Wambach in the air off of corners will be huge for the US.

Friday, September 21, 2007

In Which Our Suspicions Are Confirmed

I'm sorry, what was I saying about Heather Mitts earlier? Any lingering doubts about exactly how sponsors and broadcast entities calculate her value are put to rest by this:



Why Foudy ever agreed to go along with this is a mystery to me.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Archaeology Porn
















The money shot.

Whaddya mean it doesn't get you all hot and bothered? 1,800 tiny retouch flakes from about .05 cubic meters of dirt certainly makes me a little flushed.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Metamorphoses

Thanks to Typhoon Wipha, there is no WWC news to report, other than a gripe about the tardiness of the announcement that this morning's games would be postponed until tomorrow. FIFA didn't take action on Canada's protest against only two of the games being postponed, rather than all four, until well after Arizona bedtime, meaning I hauled my ass out of bed at two this morning for the Australia-Canada match only to be greeted by a replay of Austria-Norway. That is not a nice thing to do to a groggy girl. After no more than five minutes of staring uncomprehendingly at the TV, I trudged back to bed and some really weird dreams.

And I don't have the energy for Iraq or conservative Christian brothers--although I did send mine a nice assortment of Benny Hinn YouTube videos (this one first, then this one) for his birthday yesterday--so here's some nature writing instead, both of the back yard and big mountain varieties.

As summer transitions to fall, small non-mammals get about the business of genetic propogation. Two large sphinx moth caterpillars (often called hornworms) laid waste to my pepper plants about a month ago, pissing me off to no end but simultaneously impressing me with their voraciousness and staying power.






















Hornworm (look for the stripes and suckers) striking an innocent pose
amidst denuded stalks.


Their mandibles whir as they shear leaves off the plants, zip zip zip, plowing through them like a PhotoShop eraser tool through a mass of pixels. Then you poke them and they curl their front ends up in an attempt to impersonate an innocent leaf much like the one they were just now mowing down before you so rudely interrupted them. Pulling them off the stalk isn't going to happen. Their abdominal prolegs (the suckery feet on the back segment of the caterpillar) grab on and do not let go. And they also have the nasty habit of whipping their thoraxes and heads back and forth in an attempt to sink those garden shears of mouthparts into you. Fortunately for my fingers, I was attempting to dislodge them with a stick; I could hear the clacking of mandible hitting wood with enough force to leave little divots. The simple solution was to grab the little bastards with tongs and snip off the section of stalk they refused to let go, and then toss the whole package into the weeds at the back of the lot.

Fast forward a month and the big green guys have grown up into very handsome moths, about three inches long with wings patterned to mimic tree bark and exposed wood.


















Sphinx moth trying to blend in to the chicken wire-covered fence post.


The adults make up for their rapacious juvenile habits by being prolific pollinators, which is a very good thing in these dark days for honeybees. I'm hoping this moth has enough of a nagging conscience to fly a little closer to the house and pollinate the few straggling flowers on the pepper plants.


The amphibians have been putting on their own life cycle show as the last of the monsoon runoff trickles away. A stream was still running through Molino Basin over the weekend, and its little pools were teeming with late-season tadpoles. They ranged in development from newly-hatched tads the size of small peas with tails (who are probably doomed by impending evaporation) to fully-formed toads. Most of the tads were fat grapes with leg buds, but the best was the little mostly-toad guy who still had a snippet of a tail.










Tadpole, not thrilled to be in my hand.











Tiny almost-toad, basking on the boy's finger.


With the last of the young critters trundling toward maturity, fall is in the air. My own tad accompanied me on this trip, to my delight, nearly full-sized himself at 15 but still happy to build temporary dams across the stream and examine the toads-in-progress before gently slipping them back into the water.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

WWC: WTF?

Either US women's national soccer team coach Greg Ryan is masterfully concealing his side's strengths prior to the quarterfinal matchup with England, or he's in over his head. This has been a very frustrating World Cup to watch as an American fan, given the promising buildup of a team finally throwing off the Heinrich shackles and playing with joy, passion, and creativity. What have they delivered? Flat, dull perfomances just over the bare minimum necessary to advance. Thank god for Sweden's sudden rediscovery of their chops against North Korea this morning, or we might have faced Germany in the knockout round.

Lori Chalupny's weak ball on frame 55 seconds into the match deflected off a Nigerian defender and past keeper Precious Dede for the US' only goal on a typhoon-drenched field. The US spent the remaining 92:05 of the game playing better than they had in their two previous matches, but demonstrating a maddening inability to create chances on goal that did not involve set pieces or long crosses to Abby Wambach's battered noggin. Ryan stubbornly stuck with the starting lineup from the Sweden match, keeping Carli Lloyd in at a wing midfield position over Lindsay Tarpley. After Julie Foudy spent most of the game commenting that the Americans have used only 13 players in the Cup so far, raising spectres of exhausted players making mental mistakes or being run into the ground, Ryan did make three second-half subs, bringing Osbourne for Lloyd, Ellertson for Rampone, and Tarpley, mercifully, for Lilly.

I do not understand the reluctance to have Tarpley and O'Reilly on the field at the same time, nor the persistence of keeping Lloyd in the lineup when she failed to take a single shot from distance--from anywhere, actually--given that her only real edge over the other midfielders on the roster is her cannon of a leg. Considering the wet, treacherous conditions for the goalkeepers, the reluctance to put the ball on the goal (or inability to get free long enough to shoot) was really, really bad decisionmaking.

But even worse in the bad decisions department was Wambach trying to hold the ball in the corner as time wound down. Nigeria had already shown their complete lack of concern for committing hard fouls throughout the game, hacking Wambach and, especially, Chalupny more than enough times for the referee to have considered a card for persistent infringement. Foudy, again, was screaming about how stupid it is to stand still with the ball when you know the other team is going to come flying in, and how it greatly increases the chances for injury. So here's Abby with a bad toe and 11 stitches in her head, clearly dragging from three full games on wet, heavy fields, holding the ball in the corner, and sure enough, the Nigerian defender says fuck this shit and whacks her. Wambach goes down and the ball goes out for a US throw. Wambach back up, gets the ball, and inexplicably holds it in the corner again. Foudy is apoplectic, in a controlled sort of way, but unable to hide her disbelief. The Nigerian defender says how fucking stupid are you, anyway and whacks her again. This time Wambach goes down holding a twisted knee as the ball goes out for a US corner. Wambach gets up, takes it short to Chalupny, who gives it back to Wambach, and she... turns her back on the field again to... hold ... the ball... in the corner. And gets hit again. I assume she did eventually get up, because on the third one there I simply got up and walked away.

It's ridiculous. They have to play smarter than this if they don't want to embarrass themselves against England. Think the midfield that started today will be able to do anything but give Kelly Smith the opportunity to bust one awesome move and then be off to the races? Hell, it's essentially a 4-6-0 anyway since the forwards were having to track back so far to see the ball. Start Lilly, Tarpley, Boxx, and Chalupny there and stick HAO and Wambach up top, if Wambach can still move after today.

"Squandered" is such an ugly word.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Ding Ding Ding! Ten Thousand.

Visit 10,000 came at 7:46 this morning, from South Africa, via a soccer blog. Whew, think I'll go have a smoke and lie down for a while.

Well, I don't smoke, but whatever. Onward!

Friday World Cup Notes

Finally. After a rough first twenty minutes, the US side calmed down and got back to playing possession and--wonder of wonders--remembering they had a midfield, eventually beating the devil's own Swedes 2-0. I would still prefer to see Lilly in the midfield and O'Reilly up top and Lloyd squarely on the bench for now, and would like the defense to wake up 20 minutes before the game rather than 20 minutes into it. There were far too many weak clearances and corners conceded (five in the first ten minutes of the game? WTF?).

Comeback Player of the Match goes to Boxx. After a horrible outing on Tuesday, she entered as a second-half sub and appeared to be back to form as a holding midfielder.

Wombat x 2: her penalty was poorly struck, but thank god it was on frame and the keeper guessed wrong. The second-half goal from the run of play was brilliant, chesting a long flighted ball from Lilly and hitting a rocket of a half-volley high into the back of the net. Perfect execution from both Lil and Abby left the keeper helpless.

Note to ESPN: please get those fucking graphics off the screen now, or choose better times to put them up. As it is, you have the uncanny knack of blocking off the entire bottom third of the screen when the ball's down there.

Another note to ESPN: yes, it's amusing to hear the studio hosts moan about how early in the morning it is. And yes, 5 a.m. is pretty early for New Yorkers. But just once I'd like to hear some acknowledgment that those of us in the devil's own Pacific time zone are hauling our asses out of bed for a 2 a.m. start. Which is three hours earlier. Suck it, 5 a.m.-ers!

Note to Nike: your Jim Mike commercials still suck. Could you at least toss in a little variety? I'm pleased to report, though, that my reflexive mute-button stabbing every time I hear your announcer say brought to you by the best team you never heard of in what I assume is meant to be a smug growl has worked pretty well. I can't decide if the players in those spots are good actors who manage to convey complete disgust and embarassment, or if they're lousy actors who can't conceal their complete disgust and embarassment. Whichever it is, every time I see Rainn Wilson flopping around in that sports bra I want to rip my eyeballs out. Great campaign, Nike.

In other WC news, Japan showed definitively that you cannot lose your focus for a second against them until the final whistle blows. Once again they snatched a victory in stoppage time, this morning's victim being Argentina. England fought out a well-deserved draw with Germany in what may have been the best game of the tournament so far. England might even have had a chance to put one in late, had Kelly Smith perhaps thought about laying the ball off to the wide-open left wing and making a run to goal. Think the organizers are worried yet about their showcase field coming up in toddler-sized divots?

Game plan for the rest of the day: coffee, coffee, and some more coffee, preferably directly into a vein.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Sibling Rivalry

Another day, another forwarded e-mail from my brother, another rant on the blog.

Military Rules for Non-Military Personnel

Dear Civilians,

We know that the current state of affairs in our great nation have many civilians up in arms and excited to join the military. For those of you who can't join, you can still lend a hand. Here are a few of the areas where we would like your assistance:

(1) The next time you see an adult talking (or wearing a hat) during the playing of the National Anthem---kick their ass.
(2) When you witness, firsthand, someone burning the American Flag in protest---kick their ass.
(3) Regardless of the rank they held while they served, pay the highest amount of respect to all veterans. If you see anyone doing otherwise, quietly pull them aside and explain how these veterans fought for the very freedom they bask in every second. Enlighten them on the many sacrifices these veterans made to make this Nation great. Then hold them down while a disabled veteran kicks their ass.
(4) (GUYS) If you were never in the military, DO NOT pretend that you were. Wearing battle dress uniforms (BDUs, cammies), telling others that you used to be "Special Forces," and collecting GI Joe memorabilia, might have been okay when you were seven years old. Now, it will only make you look stupid and get your ass kicked.
(5) Next time you come across an Air Force member, do not ask them, "Do you fly a jet?" Not everyone in the Air Force is a pilot. Such ignorance deserves an ass-kicking (children are exempt).
(6) If you witness someone calling the US Coast Guard 'non-military', inform them of their mistake---and kick their ass.
(7) Next time Old Glory (the US flag) prances by during a parade, get on your damn feet and pay homage to her by placing your hand over your heart. And, of course, if someone around you doesn't, feel free to kick their ass. Quietly thank the military member or veteran lucky enough to be carrying her (American Flag)---of course, failure to do either of those could earn you a severe ass-kicking.
(8) Don't try to discuss politics with a military member or a veteran.. We are Americans, and we all bleed the same, regardless of our party affiliation. Our Chain of Command is to include our Commander-In-Chief (CinC). The President (for those who didn't know) is our CinC regardless of political party. We have no inside track on what happens inside those big important buildings where all those representatives meet. All we know is that when those civilian representatives screw up the situation, they call upon the military to go straighten it out. If you keep asking us the same stupid questions repeatedly, you will get your ass kicked!
(9) 'Your mama wears combat boots' never made sense to me---stop saying it! If she did, she would most likely be a vet and therefore, could kick your ass!
(10) Bin Laden and the Taliban are not Communists, so stop saying 'Let's go kill those Commies!' And stop asking us where he is! Crystal balls are not standard issue in the military. That reminds me---if you see anyone calling those damn psychic phone numbers, let me know, so I can go kick their ass.
(11) 'Flyboy'(AirForce), 'Jarhead'(Marines), 'Grunt' (Army), 'Squid' (Navy), 'Puddle Jumpers' (Coast Guard), etc., are terms of endearment we use describing each other. Unless you are a service member or vet, you have not earned the right to use them. That could get your ass kicked.
(12) Last, but not least, whether or not you become a member of the military, support our troops and their families. Every Thanksgiving and religious holiday that you enjoy with family and friends, please remember that there are literally thousands of sailors and troops far from home wishing they could be with their families. Thank God for our military and the sacrifices they make every day. Without them, our country would get its ass kicked.*

"It is the soldier, not the reporter who has given us the freedom of the press."
"It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us the freedom of speech."
"It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who gives us the freedom to demonstrate."
"It is the soldier who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag."
"If you can read this, thank a teacher"
"If you are reading it in English, thank a veteran."

Sigh. Where to start?


If you think freedom of the press, speech, and assembly have been given by the military rather than by the Constitution, look up your old high school government teacher, go to his house, and--in the spirit of this e-mail--kick his ass because he didn't teach you shit.

Juuuuuust had to get that out of my system. This endlessly repeating pattern drives me nuts, no matter who does it--the twisting of a tenable position (the military protects the country from takeover by hostile forces that would likely deny us the full spectrum of civil rights enumerated in the US Constitution) into an untenable one (civil rights exist solely due to the military). Does the statement "it is the soldier, not the reporter who has given us the freedom of the press" reflect some portion of reality on a general scale? Yes. Is it accurate as worded? Nope. As worded, does it serve any purpose other than advancing general ignorance and a specific dogma? Nope.There's a reason the military is not tasked with the enforcement of civil law in this country. It would be a fucking disaster and there would be no civil law. Spend some time in a country where civil rights are extended or rescinded on the whims of the generals and tell me how that went when you get home.


My brother sends this sort of thing along on a regular basis. After fisking one too many of his forwarded right-wing screeds and sending it back to him (although I've refrained from pointing out inaccuracies, half-truths, and flat-out lies to his entire mailing list, no matter how sore the temptation), he's taken to adding a disclaimer that usually goes something like I don't know if Jay Leno really wrote this or not, but it's funny and makes some good points, so if you agree pass this along and if you don't, just delete it. As far as he's concerned, I have no sense of humor. As far as I'm concerned, if you have to distort the truth or fabricate "facts" to support your position, your position is probably bullshit maybe you should redirect your energy into revising your position.


I can pick nits with the e-mail above until the cows come home. #11 is amusing since I have never heard my Army brother refer to any other branch of the military except the Marines with any respect at all, unless making jokes about gay sex between Navy guys counts as another term of endearment he earned the right to use in Ranger school. #6 (don't bust on the Coast Guard) is doubly amusing since he did exactly that over Christmas last year, trying to talk his way into a gym in Flagstaff for free on the strength of his Army ID card. The girl at the desk said her boyfriend was in the Coast Guard, and my brother replied, "Well, I'm in the real military." Strangely enough, his buddy--who sent him this e-mail in the first place--was right there with him and for some reason failed to kick his ass. Maybe real military people are exempt from the ass-kicking rules.


And that brings us to my objection to this particular e-mail: the attitude the e-mail reflects, which can be boiled down to I am military so I am better than you, and if your comportment toward me and my symbols and rituals does not reflect this belief, I am within my rights to kick your ass. I will tolerate your freedom of speech as long as that speech doesn't piss me off. I will tolerate your freedom of assembly as long as you don't denigrate symbols I venerate. Your press can be free as long as it does not present opinions contrary to mine, at which point I can rightfully label it traitorous.


No word on how military people such as the seven 82nd Airborne soldiers who wrote against the war in the NY Times Op-Ed page are to have their asses kicked. This is not a petty point, an statistically meaningless anecdote. It illustrates that while there is certainly an overarching culture of the military, the people within that culture, the individual soldiers and marines--notice I'm not saying "grunt" or "jarhead," since I haven't earned that right and don't want my ass kicked--are exactly that. Individuals. Their possession of a military ID does not make them inherently more noble or boneheaded than the average civilian.


I know my brother's response without even having to read it. The point, he will say, is that people who have never been in infantry combat or a long-term deployment have no idea what it's like in a war zone, and it rankles him to see people appropriating the gear, garb, and symbols of the military without having experienced it themselves. Fair enough. He's sick of the hippie-wannabe kids he goes to school with spouting opposition to the war and the military that he strongly suspects is boilerplate rather than the product of critical thought. Also fair enough. He's been through a hell of a lot and subjected himself to things most people would not be able to physically or emotionally handle, which--in his mind--makes him and everyone else in the military just plain better than civilians. And that's where we differ. I respect his choices and growth as a person (although, frankly, he only ended up in the Army because he was too much of a fuckup at age 20 to keep his head above water in community college or keep a job), but will never confuse co-occurence with causality.


Goddammit. Let people love you or not and respect you or not on your own merits, little brother. Don't insist on blind faith and get righteously indignant--whether this was forwarded just because it's "funny" or not--when the rest of the country doesn't follow your chosen path.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

*Interestingly, other versions of this e-mail bouncing around Teh Internets include numbered points slamming Roseanne Barr's mangling of the national anthem several years ago and Jane Fonda's decades-old asshattery with the North Koreans--items most people (even flaming liberals like me) would agree reflect massive stupidity. I'm not sure why they were deleted in the version I received. Perhaps they were too obvious opportunities for said flaming liberals to demonstrate their ability to agree with portions of an argument while disagreeing with the rest; those shades of gray can be so distracting to an ideologue.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Protest, Counter-protest

September 11 was as good an excuse as any for the pro-war and anti-war and 9/11 conspiracy protesters to converge on Speedway Boulevard after work today. I heard the honking and chanting we've come to expect on Saturday mornings about once a month, but it was the squawk of a bullhorn that piqued my interest enough to wander over.

Osama Loves Lefties.


The usual cast was there, with the pro-war faction arrayed along the south side of the street on the sidewalk outside the recruiting center, with an impressive number of large flags stuck in the ground at regular intervals. Some of their signs have seen a lot of wear and tear, though. This guy with the "Bin Laden Loves Lefties" sign has been showing up for a couple of years now, although I think the little blue tarp weighted down with rocks is a new touch.


I have been sorely tempted to point out to him that "lefty" ideals such as secular government, religious pluralism, and gender equality are polar opposites of Osama's system of values, but I don't think we'd get very far due to that conservative brain/liberal brain disconnect. There was also the small matter of the lady to his right; her sign read "if you can't stand behind the troops, stand in front of them."


If I'd been quicker with the camera, I would have video of the beautiful moment when a guy in a passing car whipped out his own bullhorn as he passed this group and yelled, "Kill the Arabs! We hate Arabs! Kill 'em all!" The sign-and-flag people waved triumphantly at him for the splittest of seconds before it dawned on them they'd just been owned. They grumbled to each other, but then one of their number charged the car, shouting "Say no to Communism! Communism kills!" He was quickly shushed; maybe he was confused about what he was supposed to be protesting.





















Say No to Communism Man's sign, forlorn and abandoned in the parking lot.

The intersection a block to the east harbored the anti-war protesters and the 9/11 conspiracy buffs, although their big sign might have been disproportionate to the actual numbers of the latter. While the warmongers' flag display was precise and impressive, the clots of peaceniks on all four corners of the intersection had a rawer presence. Of course, it helped that the Raging Grannies were on one corner belting out songs.





















The left side of the dial.




















The Raging Grannies' banner, from behind.

A cacophony of horns never makes for an accurate caucus, so I couldn't tell you what the relative proportions of pro-and anti-war (and pro-Bush and pro-impeachment) folk were, although the anti-war side stuck around longer thanks to the natural advantage provided by the streetlights at their intersection. I heard a few invectives shouted from cars and trucks, like the guy who came to a stop--on Speedway--in front of three women with peace signs and said, "Why don't you suck my dick?" A Republican dick? No thanks, honey; we just don't know where that thing's been.


A couple of hours later, Speedway's quiet again except for late-night tires on pavement. Come next month and the month after that, we'll probably do it all over again.

Milestones

Proving that I can hit benchmarks every bit as speedily as the al-Maliki government, the blog is creeping up on hit #10,000 since I started keeping track of such things. The big boys get ten times as many in a day, but what's the fun in that? If your ISP registers as Boltgirl visitor five-kay, you may be eligible for a fabulous prize to be determined later. Stay tuned early and often.

Ugh

Image
Abby Wambach, apr├Ęs taking one for the team. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

This pretty well sums up the US-North Korea game this morning. Wombat gushing a river from a cut on the back of her head that was opened up by a NK forward knocking noggins with her in front of the US goal. The US escaped with a 2-2 tie against a Korean squad that beat them to damn near every ball and left their midfield virtually invisible. The best team you never heard of? Right now the best team I'd never heard of is North Korea. Luckily, Nigeria pulled out a tie against Sweden, leaving Group A level at one point apiece.


In other WC news, England controlled most of their game against Japan, only to give up a goal on a free kick in the 55th minute. The Lions stormed back with a pair of goals from the wondrous Kelly Smith within two minutes late in the game, and then absolutely pissed away the three points by conceding a goal on a free kick at 3:50 of extra time, a low shot the keeper never saw until it barely cleared the wall and tucked inside the post.


Better matches than yesterday's Germany-Argentina debacle, but the US needs to get their heads out of their lethargic butts and remember how to link passes.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Kiss My Anterior Cingulate Cortex, Conservatives!

Well, that goes a long way toward explaining why our conservative brethren cling to the Bush administration's dogma in the face of what liberals see as unassailable logic. Our brains are just different.
Previous psychological studies have found that conservatives tend to be more structured and persistent in their judgments whereas liberals are more open to new experiences. The latest study found those traits are not confined to political situations but also influence everyday decisions.

And this explains the rest.

The conventional response to myths and urban legends is to counter bad information with accurate information.
But the new psychological studies show that denials and clarifications, for all their intuitive appeal, can paradoxically contribute to the resiliency of popular myths.

This phenomenon may help explain why large numbers of Americans incorrectly think that Saddam Hussein was directly involved in planning the Sept 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and that most of the Sept. 11 hijackers were Iraqi. While these beliefs likely arose because Bush administration officials have repeatedly tried to connect Iraq with Sept. 11, the experiments suggest that intelligence reports and other efforts to debunk this account may in fact help keep it alive.

The poor sheeple apparently really can't help themselves after all. If only half of us are predisposed to being open minded, and all of us are hard-wired to reject reason in favor of woo after only a few repetitions, what hope hath the republic?


20 Hours of Soccer

9:00 Sunday: my hopelessly overmatched women's team took the field against a new team with nifty new uniforms and stenciled shorts and color-coordinated practice balls, for chrissakes. The temperature was already pushing the mid-90s, the humidity was high, the sky cloudless, and the air dead still. By the ten-minute mark in the second half it was 5-0 not in our favor and the left back was vomiting on the sideline. One of the assistant referees sympathetically asked me if it was my first time playing keeper. No, I said, amazingly managing to both keep my voice calm and not invite him to eat a bag of dicks, it only looks that way.

1:00 Sunday: I hit the line with my assistant referee's flag for the first of two women's matches I was working. The temperature was now well over 100, the sun absolutely beating down, no breeze, a few clouds on the horizon laughing at me. By halftime I had stopped sweating and was starting to shiver. Started in on gallon of water #2 for the day and hoped I wouldn't pass out.

3:00 Sunday: the second match started with a light breeze and a large cloud mercifully parked over the field. The teams were equally grabby and pushy, so I didn't feel inordinately awful about my brain being too fried to be able to decide who to call a foul on.

5:00 Sunday: returned home and made token effort at urination after eight hours in the sun and a couple of gallons of water and Gatorade. Was not overly successful.

7:00 Sunday: parked freshly showered but exhausted butt in bleachers at Murphey Field to watch the Arizona Wildcats women's team take on #4 Texas, expecting a blowout. The Cats were down to their #3 keeper, freshman Danielle Nicolai, after knee injuries sidelined the top two keepers in the past week. She stopped everything and did everything short of standing on her head to shut out the Longhorns. Jasmin Day scored a great goal early on and cemented her status as my favorite player on the team--the woman has an amazing work rate, moves beautifully off the ball, and as a converted high jumper can cover ground and get up for balls in the air like nobody else. 2-0 Arizona in the most intense game I have seen in person at any level.

5:00 am Monday: the Women's World Cup opened with defending champion Germany taking on Argentina. It was close for about 5 minutes and finished 11-0 and wasn't as close as the score indicated. Yes, the Argentine keeper bookended the scoring with own goals. But I took exception at Tony DiCicco's blasting her for each of the first, oh, eight goals or so before noticing that the German crosses were deadly accurate and the German target players were completely unmarked in front of the net. JP Dellacamera, who makes me nuts under any circumstances, piled on so eagerly it makes me think he must have been the consummate weasel sidekick as a boy, waiting to see who the bully would target and soften up with a few punches before joining in to taunt from a safe distance. The Argentine defense was caught ball-watching on nearly all of those goals, leaving two or three German attackers wide open. When you watch an EPL match, a ball that curves in from 40 yards directly to the foot of an unmarked attacker on the 6 for a one-touch volley to the opposite post usually elicits a comment of "nothing the keeper could do on that one." Get off it, DiCicco. I liked you much better as a coach than a color man.

So it's begun, meaning my sleep schedule will be severely disrupted for the next couple of weeks, and if ESPN keeps running those fucking Jim Mike ads at this morning's clip of four per game, my eating will be disrupted as well. And possibly the flat-screen when I heave a box fan through it.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Friday Food Fal-de-ral

You probably don't need another reason to love Rocco's Little Chicago, but tuck this one into your back pocket for a rainy day just in case.

Wings. I love wings. But I am maybe the pickiest person on the planet when it comes to chicken skin--in a word or thirteen, it's gotta be fried long enough for me to not notice it's there. Soft, googly non-meat chicken bits that feel wiggly on my tongue are right out and put me right off my feed, no matter how tasty the accompanying sauce might be. I don't often have that problem at Rocco's, but sometimes I'm feeling a little insecure and don't want to risk the heartbreak of wiggly chicken skin bollocksing up my meal, or sometimes reality claws its way into my brain and asks if I really want quite so much fat in one sitting, or, since it's not all about me, maybe you're a vegetarian or dating a vegetarian who won't let lips that have touched chicken touch her. Anywhere.

But fear not! There's a beautiful solution on the menu. Hot sticks! Hot sticks! Hot sticks! Rocco's kitchen guys take the standard pizza dough and wind it into wonderful twisty sticks folded around pockets of their most excellent wing sauce. Ask for Javier to make your batch and they'll be even more sublime, big and puffy and soft with a generous amount of sauce--not so much as to make them soggy, but just enough to give you a nice kick with each bite. $3.79 gets you an order of six, which effectively is a dozen since they're chopped in half before they come to the table (sometimes the illusion of quantity is all it takes). If you can't finish them, they reheat very nicely the next day.

Better yet, if you buy a Rocco's t-shirt (which might seem steep at $20, but look!) and wear it on Tuesdays, you get a free appetizer. Six weeks in, your new wardrobe starts paying for itself. Old Style is still a buck and a half and the service is always friendly. Oh, and if you want the poultry version of the hot sticks, Wednesday wing night gets you the wings for a quarter a pop.

Rocco's. It does an ex-pat Chicagoan's heart good.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Wednesday Reader

The next time someone--say, your beloved and intelligent but inexplicably Republican brother--rails in your direction about the liberal media, point him to Vanity Fair's in-depth examination of how that same media torched Al Gore during the 2000 campaign.
There's no doubt that some things have changed about Al Gore since 2000. He has demonstrated inner strength, rising from an excruciating defeat that would have crushed many men. Beyond that, what has changed is that he now speaks directly to the public; he has neither the patience nor the need to go through the media.

Eight years ago, in the bastions of the "liberal media" that were supposed to love Gore—The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, CNN—he was variously described as "repellent," "delusional," a vote-rigger, a man who "lies like a rug," "Pinocchio." Eric Pooley, who covered him for Time magazine, says, "He brought out the creative-writing student in so many reporters.… Everybody kind of let loose on the guy."

In other news, Larry Craig is thinking about not resigning after all, and has hired Michael Vick's attorney to represent him. This is gonna get ugly, fast, and--dare I say it--the fur's gonna fly.


Finally, on a lighter note--sorry, Michiganders--the Wolverines have pulled off a feat so audacious as to have never been seen before, taking a tumble of unprecedented proportions and taking their stupid six-note fight song along with them:

The final fallout from a disastrous opening weekend for Michigan came Tuesday, when the Wolverines dropped all the way out of The Associated Press Top 25, an unprecedented fall from No. 5 to unranked.

Since the AP poll expanded to 25 teams in 1989, no team has taken a bigger tumble in one week.

Hail!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Why It Is Good to Have Homer as a Co-worker and Blogfriend

Boltgirl hearts Homer.








Scraped-clean plate (formerly holding a giant piece of coconut cake with cream cheese frosting and toasted coconut on top) perilously balanced atop ancient artifacts.

Little Help Here?

The girlfriend gave me the National Geographic guide to North American birds and nifty new binoculars (!) for my birthday. Upon paging through the book, I realized I've never seen a shrike out here in Arizona, and they're allegedly all over the place. Have any of you Tucsonenses seen a local shrike? Am I looking in the wrong places? Please advise; I'm feeling inadequate as a birder.

Next?

Mike Rogers is hot on the trail and closeted Republicans are quaking. Who's next on the list of anti-gay voting by day, gay-sex trolling by night Congressional movers and shakers who will be thrown under the bus by their colleagues viz Larry Craig?
With the corruption issue having weighed down some of their Congressional candidates in the disastrous 2006 elections, Senate Republicans saw Mr. Craig as inviting even heavier damage, especially on the heels of ethics cases involving two other Republican senators, David Vitter of Louisiana, who was the client of a dubious escort service, and Ted Stevens of Alaska, who faces a widening inquiry into whether he traded official favors.

So Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky on Wednesday sent a blunt message, a threat meant to have the effect achieved on Saturday afternoon, when Mr. Craig announced his resignation.

Mr. McConnell enlisted the junior Idaho senator, Michael D. Crapo, a fellow Republican who was close to Mr. Craig, to warn him that he would face excruciating public hearings into his conduct, similar to the threat raised by Democrats against former Senator Bob Packwood of Oregon, who was accused of sexual harassment.

No rallying round a private sinner who may or may not have received forgiveness from his god and his wife for Senator Craig--the prerequisite for that apparently being heterosexual conduct, felonious and kinky or no--but, instead, promises of a McCarthyite investigation. Does the same fate await the next senators or representatives to be outed?

I rather hope not, actually. How much more preferable it would be to see the GOP have to finally come clean about its private acceptance of its gay staffers, family members, and colleagues and stop playing Janus with a public face always smiling on the religious fundamentalist voting bloc that demands continued public excoriation of gay people. No, I'm not holding my breath on that one.

A straight friend commented over the weekend that she has absolutely no sympathy for the likes of Craig, contending that his position as a quite conservative legislator was wholly chosen by him, in complete contradiction to his personal nature. After all, she said, it's not likely that he rose to the Senate and suddenly noticed at age 50 that the guys in the hallway looked better than the women. I guess I tend to look at Craig, Allen, and whoever the next guy will be as sad object lessons on the personal costs levied by the Republican Party's being in thrall to the religious right. Should anyone have to forfeit their socially conservative, warmongering, anti-welfare cred just because they're attracted to peeps of their own gender? I don't think so.

Really throwing the need for the closet aside would probably only help the GOP in the long haul. Perhaps it only proves my status as a liberal pansy that it's a price I'm willing to incur if it means more people (read: all people) being allowed to live honestly.


Monday, September 03, 2007

The Deal; Formerly Titled Hello, Monroe!

Just a note to any Boltreaders who may be checking in from, say, southeast Michigan--I'm very glad you're spending so much time here, but I'm a little curious about why you have returned time and time again over the past week, pushing three hours total reading time and well into double digits in the visit count, when I apparently annoy you so badly. At least you finally figured out that by repeatedly getting here via "abby wambach dyke" on Teh Google, this blog was getting bumped higher and higher up on the link list, strengthening the algorithm in a direction you apparently don't agree with.

So hey, Monroe, save yourself some time and just bookmark and come in through the front door. Regardless of how you arrive, you're welcome here, and I'm hoping that the more you read (you must be approaching the 2006 archive, by my page count) the more it will become clear that my speculations about any public figure's sexuality aren't about that sexuality as an independent entity that is intrinsically good or bad, but, rather, about our society's fixation (for good or ill) on a single, morally neutral component of personality to the exclusion of acknowledging the full spectrum of traits that come together to define us as human beings. And sometimes it's about people being unable to deal with that one trait within themselves and taking it out on the rest of us, or about not giving a rat's ass about that trait but using it as a convenient whipping boy to advance their own political or religious power.

As far as the original post goes that got at least one person's shorts in a knot, if the word "dyke" is the problem, let me soften that for you. Instead of saying "she's also an obvious dyke," let me edit that to say "she is perceived as gay by many gay and straight soccer fans, most of whom still adore her regardless of her sexuality." The observation was made as part of a discussion about marketing, and offered as a hypothetical explanation for why the one of the top active scorers in the women's game is not being aggressively promoted by the national federation. It was not intended to be a value judgment about her as a human being.

The assertion that a 50-year-old assistant coach is the player's long-term boyfriend was beyond dignifying with a response; I thank commenter anonymous2 for pointing that out nonetheless. But as much as I appreciate the fact-checking, I gotta ask if your strong dislike of public discussions of anyone's sexuality extends to disliking mentions of Lils recently getting married (including a halftime feature about her husband and the cute story of how they met) or of Stephanie Lopez' recent engagement (including a photo of the engagement ring prominently featured in the photo galleries on the official US Soccer website). If I speculate that Wambach is being passed over in favor of Mitts because Wambach is widely perceived as being gay, that is a statement intended to be every bit as matter-of-fact and non-titillating as the statement that Kristine Lilly recently married a male firefighter (ergo, she's straight). If a player's sexuality gets bandied about in a negative way, or is used to denigrate and devalue her as a person, yeah, I'm right there with you. But speculating about it simply for speculation's sake is not inappropriate simply because the speculation leans in a non-straight direction. If the word choice offended, I apologize. I often forget I'm not purely preaching to the choir here.

Personally, I prefer my televised soccer coverage to focus on, well, soccer rather than the halftime warm 'n' fuzzy personal interest stories the media are convinced women adore above all else. Controversy on my little blog! Homer, I don't know how you do it. And with that, I do hope I'm done with this particular angle on a recurring theme.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

This Helps, How?

Let's see... under-promote a team to the point that no one outside a small core group knows who they are, and then poke fun at your failure to do your job by saying a fake PR man who clearly doesn't know anything about the team or the game is their last, best hope for publicity.



Love ya, Rainn. Nike, not so much.

Suck of the Irish

Wow. Haven't seen an offense that inept since the waning days of the Willingham era.

South Bend Tribune photo/Jim Rider

Michigan getting amazingly slapped down by Appalachian State was the day's only saving grace; at least we lost to a Division I team. Suck it, Wolverines! Go Irish go!