Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Eve was a big big deal when I was a little kid, what with being allowed to stay up to a deliciously late hour and then make an unholy racket. These days? Not so much. I'm in it strictly for the football.

Already on the second EPL match of the day while waiting for the bowl games to start rolling (Berbatov has been a beast lately, hasn't he?), so let's see how far back into the past 364 days the old memory machine will stretch.

The Year in Review.

Best Meal (Tucson): Two trophies should be handed out this year; luckily, I make the rules around here and will allow it. One goes to a particularly perfect grilled cheese and tomato soup the girlfriend made on a cold rainy evening sometime this fall. The other was earned by the incomparable Cafe Poca Cosa three weeks ago. I don't even remember what was on the plate. It doesn't matter. It was the Plato Poca Cosa and I would like to marry it.

Best Meal (Seattle): Okay, technically not Seattle, but Bainbridge Island, at a waterfront bar and grill called Doc's, where the clam chowder made us weep (and I do not even like clam chowder, but DAMN) and the lobster mac 'n' cheese made the weeping continue all the way back to the ferry. In a good way. I mean, completely fucking stunning.

Worst Meal (Tucson): O heartbreak! Guadalajara Grill seriously misfired with the mole last week. What is that odd funk wafting off my plate? With sickly sweet hints of someone who is perhaps experiencing that not-so-fresh feeling? Do not want.

Worst Meal (elsewhere): There wasn't one. Seriously, that mole sucked.

Worst Food Trend: Kale. Kale, kale, kale. Kale salad. Kale chips. Puree of kale. Fuck kale. That is all.

Best Beer: Dragon's Tooth Stout, Elysian Brewing, Seattle. Everyone else should just give up brewing. End of story.

Best Purchase: My Nespresso Pixie (in Persimmon Red, or, as we say here in the States, "orange") espresso machine. Should the Plato Poca Cosa turns down my marriage proposal, the Pixie can still make me the happiest woman on the planet.

Best Sports Moment: Abby Wambach's 122nd minute goal against the cheating, diving, evil Brazilians. US Soccer should embroider "122" below the collar of the national team jerseys, forever.

Worst Sports Moment: Retroactively awarded to the nanosecond in December of 2009 when John Jenkins and Jack Swarbrick said, "Brian Kelly! That's the ticket!"

Best Book Choice: Probably The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. I also read a somewhat dry history of the Whiskey Rebellion that was still illuminating in that it disabused me of my dewy-eyed Schoolhouse Rock notions of founding-era politics being somehow purer or higher-minded than they are now. Who knew that the guy perennial middle-seed NCAA bracket-buster Robert Morris College is named after was actually a shameless influence peddler who rigged tax law and Continental Army procurement policy to maximize his personal profit?

Best Twitter feed: @angrysantaelf brings you the inside story of the North Pole. Probably only during actual Christmas season. Otherwise, the incomparable The Browser brings you the best of the web several times a day. More importantly, its #fivebooks feature points you to books you would probably not hear about otherwise.

Best Gleefully Profane Political Website: Wonkette. The comments make it. Finer snark has never been forged.

Best Pop Singer I Can Actually Get on Board with: Hey, that Adele lady's not half bad.

Worst cold: The one I am currently experiencing, thanks to my brother's humorless yet apparently potent fiancee.

Best Friday Night Escapist TV: Say Yes to the Dress on TLC. Mindless. Poofy. Dramatic. Fun!

Best Out and Proud WPS Couple: Joanna Lohman and Lianne Sanderson (formerly of the Cheesesteaks, currently free agents), although Abby Wambach and Sarah Huffman (free agents, nee MagicDan) have made a subtle yet strong run at the title over the past few months.

Best Women's Soccer News: WPS sanctioned for another season!

Possibly Worst Women's Soccer News: With only five teams!

Worst Moment of 2011, Period: Yeah, that morning last January 8 at the Safeway.

Best Moment that could Possibly Follow: Did you see the Diane Sawyer special with Giffords and Kelly? That, with the pep rally in McKale Center a close second.

Fondest Hope for 2012: In this moment, that this goddamn headache goes away before the ball drops. In the big picture, the usual. Health and happiness, love and life, food and football.

Friday, December 30, 2011

The sun came up too soon this morning. I finished my coffee too soon. The appointed hour came too soon, lunch went far too quickly, and in the blink of an eye there we were, saying goodbye again, far, far too soon.

I came home and put the Christmas decorations away, stared at the new chimenea, built a half-hearted first fire that went to ashes almost as quickly as it flared up. The bowl games persist despite my spotty attention, punctuated by noticing one more thing here to pack up, one more thing there to straighten. A book to read, or not. I wonder if the Baylor defense woke up this morning elated or mortified. I weigh the relative merits of sleep and tea and cast my lot with jasmine.

Solus.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Derp, Part Infinity.

Most of the houseplants spend most of the year on a plant stand by the living room window, but they are exiled en masse to a shelf under the hallway window every December to make room for the Christmas tree. Like clockwork, the tree comes down and the plants are moved back, and every year I marvel at how green and robust they managed to get in the very filtered and short-term east light that comes to that part of the hosue.

And I go ahead and stick them back by the living room window anyway, and a month later wonder why everything is faded and struggling again.

Are some lessons too obvious to even be lessons? Jesus. It's a wonder I ever learned to breathe.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Chrysalis, Solstice, Lint Roller, Something

Christmas came and went, and my mostly unintentional but nonetheless tenacious year of mourning came to an end as well, spitting me out the other side somewhat bewildered but mostly unscathed.

My sense of self is tethered only to memories now, not places. Childhood home is gone. Grandparents are gone. Fucking dogs are even gone. Parents grown old. Kid grown into a man bounding off into his own life. Traditions, muscle memory, everything we did and do Because It's What We Do... all in the long ago and far away. Stuff that's going to happen someday, really, if I just hope hard enough? Not gonna happen. Here and now? As good as it's likely to get.

And I guess I'm okay with that.

Blank canvas, lump of clay, pile of raw lumber waiting to be imagined and sketched and built into something else. It's all that's left.

Time to get to work.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Jury Duty

Jury duty called earlier in the week, so I dutifully trundled downtown, sat in the cattlecall room for an hour, and promptly was dismissed for lunch. So I walked around a little, visited the Presidio, read the tiny signs posted along the timeline outside, stuck my head in at Old Town Artisans, choked on patchouli.

Many of the original buildings downtown were demolished in the 1970s in the name of urban renewal. Just enough cool old Sonoran rowhouse adobes remain to make you wonder what the place might have looked like if Tucson had been more interested in historic preservation than in horrible pebble-coated concrete panels.











Adobe house at Washington and Court.

My company is often called on to keep an eye on street work in this area, since plenty of history is still around under the asphalt. Here is a utility alignment in the middle of Scott Avenue between Pennington and Alameda streets.









I monitored this one way back in 1996, watching a crew dig a trench and put in a new gas line. I found several bottles, part of a child’s tea set, and a Civil War-era US Army belt buckle. Pancho Villa’s Saturday night buckle, the gas company foreman laughed, and then he saw the little tea set and melted, gently holding the tiny teacup between his thumb and forefinger.










Scott Avenue: mercy, that’s not very friendly.

After the hour was up, I went back to the jury room and eventually up to a courtroom, where I was not selected to hear a child pornography case. The defendant looked like a standard-issue well-groomed, mid-60ish businessman; when I walked into the courtroom I had figured he’d been busted for embezzlement or tax fraud or something similarly highly financial. Uh, apparently not. I have never been so happy to not be picked for something. It has been hard enough to scrub just the names of the image files read out by the judge from my mind. I wonder how long the chosen jurors are going to have to see the actual pictures in their own memories.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

And We're Back

After having been away from the blog for the better part of the summer and the entire start of fall, I am back to, naturally, complain. What has dragged me back into the blogosphere? Destination weddings. Fucking destination weddings. Specifically, a brother’s wedding I can’t miss, being held for some unfathomable reason not in the moderately difficult to access but cheap once you’re there small town both families are from, but rather on an island in the Gulf of Mexico about halfway down America’s Wang.

Oh, I’m sure it will be lovely, being on a beach and all, butbutit will be in August. In Florida. In fucking August, in fucking Florida. My brother wants a bachelor party consisting of two days of fishing in the Everglades. Because nobody lives in the vicinity other than my other brother and their psychotic mother (they’re half brothers to me, actually, via Dad), the remaining family members are starting to hash out which $1,200-a-week beachfront cottages to rent. I’m looking around for the nearest defibrillator.

The upside? Since it will be August, in Florida, I will be at very little risk of freezing to death when I’m sleeping under a bridge. Besides, I hear manatees like to cuddle and are hardly ever rabid.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Flap Flap Tweet Shriek Munch Munch Oh Noes

Sigh. I can’t deny it any longer. I’m a classist.

Most days over the past two weeks, I have caught, out of the corner of my eye, a larger-than-usual swoop of motion outside my office window. I look up and see a hawk arranging its wings and shaking out its feathers on the fencepost, sometimes two hawks in tandem, as the finches scatter and the lizards try to melt into the shadows.

Sometimes the hawks hop along the fence, craning their necks front and back to find the occasional bad-luck squirrel that is now trapped under the bottom rail, sprinting back and forth from post to post in a very existential game of hotbox, hoping that the hawk will be distracted by an easier-to-reach potential snack just long enough for the squirrel to make a final mad dash across the road, either to the sanctuary of the brushpile or into talon-ushered eternity.

When the hawk drops out of nowhere to explode a dove into a cloud of feathers and retreats to the fence or a tree with whatever scraps of meat might be left under all that fluff, I cheer for the hawk. When it alights with a drooping, bepawed slip of a ground squirrel, I am chagrined. When both hawks flap ever closer and finally take swipes at the terrified squirrel, I cringe and hope the birds go hungry.

I am fascinated by raptors. I love watching them, even when they’re not doing much of anything. But they force me to acknowledge a hole in my otherwise reliably rational perspective on the natural world. Rampant classism. Mammalian solidarity. It's not just because the little mammals are usually cute; if we're arguing aesthetics, the hawks are very handsome and elegant. It's simply that I don’t want to be eaten by a bird, or a komodo dragon, or--definitely not--by a flippin’ fish, not even during Shark Week, and so don't wish a similar Aves-Mammalia mashup on the rodents.

Coyotes noshing on squirrels? Aw, look at the puppy! Birds doing the same? Stop that!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

En Fuego! Oh...

Remember when Arizona was burning down, way back at the start of the summer, and Walnuts went on television to tell the nation it was probably the illegals’ fault?

"We are concerned about, particularly, areas down on the border where there is substantial evidence that some of these fires are caused by people who have crossed our border illegally," McCain said Saturday at a press conference, according to CNN.
Yeah, not so much.

A Tucson man and his cousin have been charged with causing the largest wildfire in Arizona history.

David Wayne Malboeuf, 24, of Tucson, and Caleb Joshua Malboeuf, 26, of Benson, were charged in connection with the Wallow Fire, which started May 29 in the Apache Sitgreaves National Forest.

The blaze scorched more than 538,000 acres in Eastern Arizona and part of Western New Mexico and destroyed 32 homes, four commercial buildings and 36 outbuildings before it was contained July 8.

A Forest Service investigation found the fire started when a campfire, left unattended by the Malboeufs in the Bear Wallow area, spread out of the fire ring and quickly spread in high winds.

Umm, yay Tucson? McCain supporters are rushing to the comments to remind us that the senator didn’t specify the Wallow fire, despite his statement coming when that particular biggest, craziest fire in Arizona history was full-on raging, not just in the woods but in the national news, and everyone was talking about God having finally decided to just torch the place because we’re kinda stupid out here (see: Pearce, Russell; Brewer, Jan; Underpants, Sheriff Pink).

But some illegal immigrant somewhere in Arizona started some fire sometime, probably, which means all fires are ultimately the Mexicans' fault anyway, also. QED. Or something.

Friday, August 19, 2011

O_o

Aaaaaaaand the other dog had to be put down yesterday. Happy fucking birthday, yo.

This summer has been the absolute singularity and event horizon of suck. Stress, strife, sadness piled on sadness. Fall's coming. Let's fucking go.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Me Eve

My birthday is tomorrow. This used to be an exciting event.

Number three was an absolutely killer train party, for which my parents made little cardboard train cars for the guest to chug themselves around in from pin the tail on the donkey to the beanbag toss to whatever other games were going on. Number nine fell in 1976, so my parents threw an Olympic-themed party complete with various events and homemade medals. Not surprisingly, I got the overall bronze; my best friends Stephanie and Cindy could run like gazelles, although my shotputting whipped everyone by a mile. Number twelve involved a neighborhood scavenger hunt. Number sixteen did not bring a car, not that I was expecting one, but I did get my own set of keys to my mom's VW Beetle, on a brass pig keychain that I still have tucked in a drawer somewhere, plus a soccer ball a friend brought back from a trip to Germany. Number eighteen came the day before I left South Bend for good, after a summer spent crashing with various friends and high school teachers after my mom moved away. I had cake and deliciously wicked wine coolers with two of those friends--no tents or Levi Johnstons were involved, so no pregnancies ensued--and the next morning hopped the bus and took off for the future.

Number twenty came on a 20-hour layover in the Lima, Peru airport, toasted by friends with cold Pilsens. Number twenty-five came a few weeks after delivering the boy; everything hurt, the Giordano's delivery got screwed up and instead of ravioli I got some questionable lasagna, and nobody in my family except my mom remembered to call. Number twenty-six came as a surprise since I had somehow spent the previous year thinking I was 26 already, so I was distressed to realize I'd completely missed out on being 25 (see: first year of parenthood brain malfunction). Number thirty saw me dropping the boy off for his first day of kindergarten, which told me I was officially maybe not exactly old, but definitely in a different stage of life. After number thirty-three, things got even more interesting, not always in a particularly savory way, but I suppose I am more or less back on track now.

My grandma used to make me a butter cake with marshmallow cream frosting. I never got the recipe from her. After the boy came along and I was purportedly grown up, there were no more cakes because I demanded birthday chocolate chip cookies instead. Sometimes now it's just a Twinkie. I do not know what baked good will be involved this year, if any.

The absolute best birthday phone call I ever got was... I don't know, probably 15 years ago, my grandparents and favorite aunt and uncle on speakerphone (which I normally loathe, but this was awesome), singing a wine-fueled rendition of Happy Birthday in joyous four-part harmony.

I still have two grandparents left (the non-singing, non-butter cake set), which is pretty good for someone of my advanced years. My all-grown-up son plans on spending the day with me, working on the carpentry project we started at the beginning of the summer but let tail away from us. We will probably have some decent snacks and a beer or two.

No more gauzy Illinois late-summer evenings with the approaching candles heralded by cicadas. Time to firmly focus on what's ahead.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Fizzle.












Up, up, up! Here we go, come on, up, okay, yes, there it goes off on its own, will ya look at that, yeeeee-hah... wait a minute.


And the ship arcs gracefully away, and the solid rocket booster is at first perplexed and then increasingly alarmed to find itself sputtering, veering, and finally plunging back down to earth, spent.

But wait, it whispers on traces of hydrogen breath, the friction of the upper atmosphere introducing it to aches and pains it never noticed before, is that it? That can't be it. I wanted to go with him a little farther. Uh, hello?

Whoomp, flash, pop, splash.

I am bobbing in the ocean now, parachute silks draped over my head, waiting for the boat to come along and fish me out and point me to whatever is supposed to come next, hoping something will light the fire again, wondering what can overcome my current waterlogged state. That was the last shuttle.

What now?

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

The Important Bits

Want some more arm porn to go along with your Abby Wambach girlfriend research? Fine, here.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Pew Pew

Offered without comment.Yay Arizona.
A 26-year-old man accidentally shot himself in the penis with a pink handgun at a grocery store in Chandler last week, the Arizona Republic reported.

The Republic’s story said Joshua Seto and his fiancĂ©e, Cara Christopher, walked to a Fry’s Food Store for refreshments Tuesday night. Once there he tried to put away Christopher’s pink handgun in the front waistband of his pants when it fired.

Yay Arizona.

Friday, August 05, 2011

A Bright Spot

Today's entry in the Never Let It Be Said department starts like this: Never let it be said that I do not recognize the rare occasions upon which a conservative politician does something that pleasantly surprises me. In a rare flash of rational thinking, Gov. Jan Brewer has vetoed Arizona's birther bill.
"I never imagined being presented with a bill that could require candidates for president of the greatest and most powerful nation on Earth to submit their 'early baptismal or circumcision certificates,' among other records, to the Arizona Secretary of State," Brewer said in her letter. "This is a bridge too far."
Because "circumcision" means she would have to think about Rick Santorum's wang and possibly John McCain's withered member as well, so, yeah, eww. The Republican-dominated legislature won't try to override her, which ends this particular chapter in the Big Book o' Arizona Stupid but still leaves us with building the dang fence, ending public education, and the gun-of-the-month club or whatever.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

She did not believe in heaven, hell, karma, or fate, or that things happen for a reason. She believed even less in the deities and spirit worlds that were necessary preconditions for these things. In fact, she had so little patience any more for magical thinking of any stripe that she turned the stinkeye on fellow World Cup watchers who moaned oh no don't jinx us to announcers trumpeting a team's success before the final whistle.

But then the summer of strife hit her in the chops, and gut, and kneecaps for good measure, and she remembered why people fall back on supernatural explanations for crap. It was the only narrative that would allow her to handle shit without completely falling apart.

How much longer, she wondered, until the bill is stamped Paid in Full? I mean, shouldn't it have been six months ago? How far back does the fucking karmic clock that I do not even believe in, except for the fact that it is the sole thing keeping me sane, rewind?

The calendar kept flipping, far too slowly for her tastes but resolutely nonetheless. Fall beckoned. She wondered if this meant it was going to get better or worse.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Just Because

Missing the World Cup? I am. Here's a little gratuitous Wambach arm porn, with the added bonus of two Ali Krieger cameos. Don't say I've never done anything for you, abby wambach girlfriend searchers.



Monday, July 18, 2011

Edited to Add

Thoughts on the Cup will surely be bubbling up to the surface for the next week or so. Kudos to Christie Rampone and Amy LePeilbet. Despite Rampone's unfortunate shaky second or two yesterday, she is a complete fucking rock on the back line, Lyme disease and all. Scooting her over to the left center back position took some heat off LePeilbet and allowed LP to be mostly competent and occasionally nifty as an attacking outside back against both France and Japan. Kudos to Becky Sauerbrunn for stepping in against France and turning in a thoroughly professional job in a semifinal after seeing the field for exactly zero minutes in the previous tournament games. Oh, Ali Krieger. She had a rough game, hitting a couple of uncharacteristically bad passes that stood out mainly because they were so inconsistent with her otherwise completely solid and reliable play throughout the tournament. She also dropped her mark a few times, although nothing untoward came of it. I do not put the first Japan goal on her at all. The ball was blasted at her from six feet away, dead in front of the goal; it hit her foot at a poor position for a one-touch clearance, directly under her hip, and with an onrushing attacker she didn't have time to touch it to a better position to get a full-strength swing at it. Hard luck.

Kudos to Rapinoe, or, as one of my friends kept mangling it during the game, Ra-pony. She may have been slightly more effective in the later games as a supersub coming on with fresh legs to torment tired defenses than as a starter in the opening games, but yesterday she was a solid left midfielder, even if she may have run herself into the ground by the end. I wonder if occasionally switching sides with HAO would have confused the Japan defense a little, a la the switching in the France match, but the team's overall inability to finish probably makes it moot. Kudos to Cheney, playing 44 decent minutes on a torqued ankle. If she hadn't been hurt, maybe the outcome would have been different. Ah, soccer.

Not-kudos to announcers (both ESPN and Fox Soccer) who still don't seem to get that offside is judged on the position of the attacker's body parts with which it is legal to score. The graphic with the line drawn across the field at the defender's feet is a useful start, but if the attacker's head, chest, or ass is forward of the defender's head/chest/ass/knee/anything but the arm, the attacker is offside. And the high and slightly oblique camera shot used for those graphics cannot physically show the relative positions of anything but the feet. In other words, your feet might be even with the defender's, but if you're leaning forward with your upper body or or just your head even a little bit past the defender, you're off. So some of the "controversial" offside calls (Ohno yesterday, Schelin Saturday) may not have looked controversial at all, if the camera were at field level directly in line with the assistant referee. Also, it's "offside." Not "offsides." Kate and Julie, I'm looking at you.

Much more to come, I'm sure.

Oh Noes

As Carli Lloyd walked to the mark, following an exhausted Shannon Boxx's hospital-ball shot to the keeper's foot, I groaned and said she's gonna sky it over the bar. The ref blew the whistle, Lloyd sent the ball roughly two miles over the bar, and that was pretty much that. Tobin Heath's miss became just a footnote at that point.

Maybe the most interesting thing about the match was the Rashomon experience of hearing Ian Darke and Julie Foudy praise Boxx and Lloyd up and down while everyone in the room with me wondered aloud what game they were watching. Opinion is similarly divided on the Big Soccer boards, where half the commenters think the pair were an efficient engine that shut down the Japan attack and made the US attack go, and the other half saw them consistently lose the ball, make poor decisions, and waste possession after possession by sending shots into the cheap seats from 40 yards out. Would you care to guess which camp I'm in?

The only consolation I find--other than Japan playing a clean, crisp game dedicated to buoying the heart of their country, of course--is that the loss was a total team effort. The US failed to finish about a thousand good chances in front of the net, had an ineffective central midfield, and showed more than a few moments of ghastly defensive panic. The first Japsn goal came off a quick sequence of Rampone making a terrible decision on a pass, Buehler going to ground and sending a rocket directly across the goalmouth, which unfortunately went only two yards before slamming into Krieger, whose panicked clearance went directly to Miyama, who slammed the ball home, one, two, three. And on the coaching side of things, while the decision to start Cheney over Rodriguez was sound, the decision to bring on speedy and tricksy but undisciplined Heath at the end of a tight match that demanded possession and protection of a fragile one-goal lead was baffling and, ultimately, costly. Heath promptly turned the ball over by dribbling into three defenders, and shortly thereafter turned it over again, leading to the fatal Japan corner. Meanwhile, Lori Lindsey languished on the bench and Lloyd stayed in. Japan never quit, and they won, and the world rightly cheered for them.

Well, the other consolation is that the US barely squeaked into the tournament in the first place, and was never favored to win it once they were in, and somehow made it to the championship match anyway. They gave us the gift of the Brazil game, which will go down as one of the two finest team efforts in US history in any sport, right up there with the 1980 hockey team beating the Russians. And Abby Wambach and Hope Solo were perfect pictures of grace and sportsmanship in defeat. Wambach got a goal, Solo saved a penalty, the the team went down, and both said exactly the right things in the postgame interviews.

So close, so tantalizingly, agonizingly close.

The Olympics are coming. We have some work to do.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Game. Day.

I went to bed early last night. Yes, to make today come faster. Just like a ten-year-old on Christmas Eve. And instead of carols in my head it's been that fucking glorious but maddening Megan Rapinoe song on a constant loop, there when I drifted off and oh yeah, riiiiight there when I woke up. Can't get it out.

Forthwith.

You already have my starting lineup wish list, and much like the Christmas wish list that always includes a jetpack, I don't expect a 4-3-3 with no extra Lloyds to be waiting under the tree. Given the inviolable 4-3-Lloyd-2, I'm just hoping that the central midfield either has an uncharacteristically solid game against Japan's precision possession, or that Pia concedes and subs in the midfield we finished with against France, but before they get dissected too bad.

Things I did not expect:

1. Wambach's sudden resurgence. It couldn't have happened at a better time. But if the group game strategy of shooting from 30 yards out is simply going to morph back into vintage 2009 fling-it-up-and-hope-Abby-gets-it, that won't be so great. Be that as it may, the winning goal will come off her noggin. It just can't end any other way now.

2. A-Rod's disappearance. I thought last season's move away from Boston and DiCicco had finally unlocked her confidence and let her turn into the forward we thought she'd be. But this entire Cup has been spent running very fast and then losing the ball or winging it closer to the cheap seats than to the goal. Balls finally quit coming her way. When it's apparent that the team doesn't trust one of the two strike options with a pass, it's time to change.

3. Ali Krieger. Damn. Just damn. Krieger has been the most consistent and dependable person on the field for the entire tournament. Her decision to spend an entire season out of contract in order to work on her game and land a spot with the nats looks brilliant now, for her and for us.

4. The Wambach-Solo lovefest. If those two can roll around on the grass and then walk off with their arms around each other, it's way past time for everyone to stop talking about 2007. The photo of the two of them post-Brazil is the new Webster's picture accompanying the entry for Getting Over It.

5. ESPN. Fucking killer coverage, guys. This was not an afterthought grudgingly produced with interns and stashed away on Classic or U. Flagship channels, actual analysis, and a blessed bare minimum of human interest stories--and even those have a soccer angle first rather than treacle. It's all about the football.

6. Germany. Before the Cup started, I had read that nobody really cared about it there, at least not to anything remotely approaching the extent of the passion surrounding the men's Cup they hosted. But the stadiums have been pleasantly full, TV ratings are sky-high (even after Germany was eliminated), and everything I have read since reports outstanding enthusiasm across the country. A lot of people watching for the first time are impressed by the level of play. Shit, I'm blown away by the overall quality and I'm one of the die-hards.

My prediction for today? US 3-1.

Addendum: Glad Sweden took third. I liked watching both teams play, but Bompy's crap move to provoke Oqvist into a red card tipped it for me.

ome

Friday, July 15, 2011

Turn and Burn the Defender and Hit a Solid Cross Out to the Far Stick

Science is melting my brain this afternoon, as it often does when I'm on the cusp of finally figuring out a long-term problem. So yay for that, but a body needs occasional breaks to churn out words that are not related to the adoption of projectile point design canons over large geographic spaces 2500 years ago.

My favorite uncle has gone on some super-cleansy diet ordered by his endocrinologist, or something, and for four more weeks must eschew caffeine, alcohol, pork (a Muslin endocrinologist? I do not know), grains,
salt, black pepper (whuh??), sugar, nuts, and anything refined or otherwise flavorful. I would have to be thisclose to death for that to sound like a good option. What's that you say? I need to eat unseasoned steamed kale and chicken for the next month? And drink herbal tea? Do you have any unprocessed, gluten-free bullets I might be able to eat? Because that sounds seriously fucking intolerable. He's lost 16 pounds in two weeks, which wouldn't hurt me one bit, except that the daily rage index would probably push my blood pressure into such dangerously high elevations as to outweigh the health benefits of swearing off chocolate chips, coffee, and hoppy hoppy IPAs.

Here's something happier than that:



And with the Megan Rapinoe Song playing in my head nonstop, it's back to the science.

Current Events

In ths final run-up to the World Cup championship match on Sunday, one more thing that I've been thinking to myself since this whole thing started.

We need to collectively forget about 1999. The best thing that can happen for the WNT is for everyone to stop talking about 1999, stop flashing back to 1999, stop introducing Brandi Chastain as the winning goal-scorer and bra-flasher, stop replaying The Kick, stop wistfully saying you miss Mia, stop comparing the two teams, all of it. That team did great things, and no one who watched that match will ever forget it. Okay, done. This is 2011, and it's a completely different world in women's soccer now.

Go out and win in 2011. The end.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Notes

A couple of things heading into the semifinal tomorrow.

1. Ian Darke tweeted yesterday that the US team is still on cloud nine, but needs to come down now and focus. Come to think of it, I probably need to come down and focus. The game is already the stuff of legends--the US Soccer online store put all their replica jerseys on sale yesterday for 122 minutes--and was so emotionally wringing and cathartic and totally fucking triumphant that it felt like the championship. The team are the darlings of the US again and a large portion of Germany, but there is still a game left to play, and hopefully one more after that. When the semifinal feels like the denouement instead of the penultimate chapter, well, that could be a harder hurdle than Marta to overcome.

2. Speaking of the Twitter, or, as my fellow Wonketteers are wont to call it, the Twatter, it's an indispensable tool for following the Cup. Subtle nuances, blaring in your face statements, fun tidbits and photos you won't get from the official coverage, all in 140 characters. It's where I first heard about Hope Powell losing the plot, as they say, along with the astonished and indignant reactions from players around the world.

3. Speaking of Hope Powell, O_o. Granted, I have never played or coached at any level remotely approaching international soccer, but I have played for most of my life (including college and high-level club) and done a fair amount of coaching, and there's no way you go into the World Cup knockout round with a KFTM plan that involves asking for volunteers 60 seconds before the kicks start. And then, when you end up losing, you don't turn away from players who finished the match on one good leg and the fumes of poor substitution decisions and call them cowards. You just don't.
And she wants to be technical director for the entire FA? Yowza.

4. I hear Sauerbrunn will be starting for Buehler. I've always liked her, but worry about the zero minutes she's logged so far in the finals. Maybe sliding LePeilbet over to her natural center back position and starting Cox on the left wing would be better? Or Boxx at center back, with Lindsey in the middle? Whatever, they're gonna need some wheels to deal with Thiney and Thomis.

5. World Cup breakfast again tomorrow. Please please please soccer gods, let there be one more this weekend.

Monday, July 11, 2011

No Words

I am on my back, on the living room floor, pounding the hardwood with my fists, tears running down my face, and I am laughing. The US has just beaten Brazil in the most wrenching, draining, tornado-in-the heart rollercoaster wreck with bombs thrown in soccer match you will ever see.

The web is full of recaps, so I won't reinvent the wheel here. Jesus Christ. I was completely with Sundhage and Wambach at the end there. There truly were no words. Just laughing and howling and being drenched with tears and sweat and disbelief and joy, the outcome still so improbable and tenuous even after the fact that I was afraid to watch the replays for fear that somehow it might turn out differently the second or third time through. There were no words.

But I do have three words now, plus a followup. The three words are: thank you, Erika.

Thank you for your ever-so-artful dive, with an added technical merit score given for walking away from play and furtively checking over your shoulder to make sure the ball was safely out of bounds before crumpling to the ground like you'd been hit with an elephant dart. Thank you for rolling around and twitching for a full two and half minutes before being stretchered off, because that was conveniently ten full seconds more than the US needed to score the tying goal. And thank you for definitively proving that such odious cheating theatrics not only lose you the respect of your opponents and every person watching from the stands, but also lose you the match as well.

Fuck off, Brazil. You have the most technically and physically gifted player on the planet and a supporting cast that can dribble circles around most of the US defense, but instead of beating us with your superior skills and instincts, you chose to bring the most repellant aspect of the men's game into your own and tried to cheat your way to a victory. That is not "gamesmanship." It is cowardice. The only person among the 26,000 in attendance who fell for your bullshit diving and screaming was the referee, so it almost worked. But in the end it didn't matter. You lost. Try playing straight-up football next time, because you're actually quite good at that.