Thursday, March 31, 2005

A Day Of Soccer On Television

I spent most of yesterday at home. Since it was a day of World Cup Qualifying matches in Europe and North America, I was treated to a full complement of televised live matches.

England 2-0 Azerbaijan
I wish this had been a more interesting match-up. Getting a day to watch international soccer and having England play the lowliest of teams is a disappointment. As stated by the English commentator, Azerbaijan has no pedigree. It was no fun watching Beckham and Co. beat them. The match was not as close as the score reads.

Spain 0-0 Serbia & Montenegro
Tellingly, Spain's national team includes no players from Real Madrid, one of the world's wealthiest and best-known teams. The team seems to be in a shambles, populated by talented youngsters with little collective experience, and they are led by a hideous manager, Luis Aragones, who should be dismissed and banned from football forever. More than in any other country, though, the avarice driving the La Liga professional clubs is hurting the development of their national team. Nothing can be done about this, of course, but the clubs should consider their role in sport and ask themselves if they are interested in the mere existence of international play. This goalless draw played in Belgrade, should have been won by the older, more sophisticated and better coached Serbia & Montenegro side.

Israel 1-1 France
David Trezeguet put the visitors ahead, but was later sent-off for violent behavior. France was reduced to ten men and Israel tied the match late in the game.

"The Game Of Their Lives" a film about the 1966 North Korean team who traveled to England for the 8th World Cup final was aired by IFC. It is the first documentary by Westerners ever allowed to film in North Korea, and includes footage of the players then and now.

The North Korean team beat Australia for the single Africa/Asia/Oceania berth in that World Cup and the team was drawn in Group 4 to play the first round in Middlesborough against USSR, Chile and Italy. The citizens of Middlesborough became almost-instantaneous supporters, adopting the team as their own and cheering them through a loss to the Soviets followed by victories over Chile and the all-powerful Italy, to move on to the quarterfinals.

Having grown-up in a nation that acknowledges neither soccer nor North Korea, I had no knowledge of this event. (I just learned about the 1950 team beating England in the 1950 World Cup tournament!)

The movie is filled with information and footage of the World Cup, the Korean team, and North Korea today. I highly recommend it.

USA 2-0 Guatemala
The USA beat Guatemala in a brutal, badly officiated match. I am surprised that nobody was seriously injured. There has to be a balance between letting the players play and over-calling the match, and referee Ramesh Ramdhan failed. Both nations should complain about his work.

It made for an exciting match!

Though having to suffer through the tedious Carlos Ruiz, who thankfully was booked for diving (which does not happen enough throughout the MLS seasons he turns into a Greg Louganis tribute), the Guatemala team was impressive to watch.

Richard Trigueno in goal was remarkable and prevented the 2-0 result from being as much as 6-0 by making save after remarkable save against an attacking USA squad who made the Guatemala defense look porous, at best. Other standouts for the visitors were Guillermo Ramirez with two excellent shots and an overall sporting, aggressive and skillful performance. Gustavo Cabrera played harder than anyone else on the field and though deserving of at least one caution, was no more guilty than anyone else for rough play this night. Late in the second half, Cabrera's nose was bloodied and some gauze and tape allowed him to play the rest of the match. I already mentioned the other MLS notable, Carlos Ruiz, who has played for the Galaxy and is a diver that makes Robert Pires look steady on his feet. I am sick of Ruiz, and MLS should send him packing.

For the USA, Eddie Johnson continues to amaze! Portugal club Benfica offered $5m for Johnson's services and I certainly hope the MLS rejection was based on Johnson's refusal to play in Portugal and not some attempt to hold him back from becoming a world-class player in Europe. I can see Johnson playing for an English team, it is just too bad Arsenal didn't get him five years ago as a boy.

The goals were scored by Johnson and Eddie Ralston on service from Landon Donovan and Johnson, respectively. Donovan had a goal erased when the officials deemed him offside, but replay after replay shows that he was onside and the goal should have counted.

Cory Gibbs, who plays for Feyenoord, in Holland, was brilliant in the back. I sure wish he played for the MetroStars!

Old Geezer Casey Keller was fantastic in goal and wore the captain's armband in Claudio Reyna's absence (say thank-you Liz, he did not play). Keller is now playing club soccer in Germany, after a long stint in the English Premier League, most recently with Tottenham Hotspurs.

Clint Dempsey continues to disappoint me. He is a skilled player with tons of potential, but no discipline and (like most boring American athletes) no respect for authority. After coming in late as a substitute for Donovan, Dempsey was cautioned but (as usual) refused to approach the ref when summoned for the booking.

I know that many apologists say athletes of all nationalities do this, it is isolated to American athletes, but I disagree. Also, as an American I hold my players to significantly higher standards than I do those from Monteserrat, England, Guatemala or any other nation. It's not about patriotism, it's about honor and a desire to have the greatest team in the world. Guys like Dempsey prevent teams from being great. Dempsey might play on good teams, he might play for teams that win many matches, trophies, medals and competitions; but men like Dempsey are never on teams that are considered GREAT because they lower the integrity of the game by being dismissive of the officials and their opponents. I'm sorry to focus on him, but he was the worst behaved player on my team last night. He reminds me of Clint Mathis, another arrogant dullard who should never grace the national team roster again. Sorry, Dempsey! Though I believe there is no hope for Mathis, I think you could turn your career into a great one with a simple attitude adjustment.

The USA v Guatemala match was held in Birmingham, Alabama. I was surprised and disappointed that it was held in such an inconvenient locale. My disappointment was turned-around by the fact that over 31,000 attended the match and a HUGE percentage of them were Guatemala supporters! Well done!

Two of the matches in this round of qualifying have yet to be booked into a stadium. It is my hope that either of the matches against Trinidad & Tobago or Panama will be held at Giants Stadium so I can attend.

The USA schedule is here.

USA v Guatemala Box Score

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Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Raquel Welch

When I was about eight- or nine-years-old, a poster for the movie One Million Years B.C. appeared. I had never seen a movie poster that looked like this; they just didn't release posters like this. I was amazed.

Since that day, I have had an unending crush on Raquel Welch.

Thank you for a lifetime of happy thoughts!

All Posters site (US)

Movie Market site (UK)

Famous Babes

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One Million Years B.C.
starring Raquel Welch

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Is Coke The New Nike?

There are plenty of reasons to hate Coca-Cola, but I have always preferred it to other soft drinks, and I am a brand-loyalty guy. If I like a company or its products, I generally buy only those products. When a restaurant offers me Pepsi instead of Coke, I ask for water. I just don't buy Pepsi. I'm a Coke guy.

I have always assumed that soft drink corporations are not good neighbors, or good employers, or shining testaments to the potential beneficence of capitalism. I assume thy are all scum. Coke being no worse than any of the others.

Then I read Michael Blanding's article at about Coke's human rights track record at its bottling facilities outside the United States.

Corporate apologists inside and outside Coca-Cola deny all the charges, of course; but I have never believed that labor movements fabricated stories about human rights abuses by Nike or Nestle, and I have no reason to believe that human rights organizations and labor leaders have fabricated stories about Coke's practices in developing economies.

According to Blanding's article, at an event at Smith College,
"Javier Correa, president of the Colombian union SINALTRAINAL, ... spoke of a decade of violence that has resulted in the deaths of eight workers. . . . [H]e told the story of Isidro Gil, who was shot dead in 1996 at the bottling plant; a week later, paramilitaries entered the plant and forced workers to sign letters of resignation from the union at gunpoint. Coca-Cola directly controls the bottling facilities through their contracts, said Correa, who says he has himself escaped three assassination attempts."

I know that American businessmen are not in Columbia holding guns to the heads of workers; but Coke controls the contracts and can easily intervene when human rights abuses are exposed. Sadly, the success of the Nike method of denying any knowledge of, or even the existence of human rights abuses is the most profitable tactic, so Coke is using it. They simply have some woman in a suit (Coke's issues director, Lori George Billingsley, in this case) make a statement denying the accuracy of the reports, and effectively dismiss any actions or boycotts planned against the company by denying there is a problem.

I see how a corporation might have trouble keeping a watchful eye on every remote locations in their operation. I imagine there are abuses in every corporation at every location. What is despicable about Coca-Cola's current problems is their tactic of total denial and refusal to take action or investigate. Like Nike in the 1990s, they are simply denying there is a problem and hoping those who oppose their practices will be silenced in the media, and simple go away. They are using their wealth not to make the world (and their company) better, but to make the world a worse place for disenfranchised people just trying to make a living by working in their bottling plants. This is not successful capitalism, this is not the American ideal -- it is an embarrassment to humanity.

I haven't yet decided to boycott Coca-Cola products. I want to see what happens next and get more information about their plans. Coke, however, will no longer have carte blanche in my grocery basket. I will now purchase what is on sale, or what is cheapest. Until Coke fixes these problems, until they start promoting human rights at their plants everywhere in the world, they cannot have my loyalty.

I applaud Carleton, Oberlin, Bard, New York University, Rutgers, and University of Michigan for considering a boycott of Coke and cancellation of their contracts, and I hope other college campuses in America join in the campaign. Boycott is the most effective tactic for forcing corporate change. Action by consumers works.

Please consider taking action.

You can contact United Students Against Sweatshops for information.

Read Blanding's article at The Nation.

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Monday, March 28, 2005

Joke - The Brothel

Pat and Mike were sitting at a pub having beer while watching the brothel across the street.

A Lincoln Town car pulls up, a Baptist minister gets out and enters the brothel. Pat turns to Mike, clicks his tongue and says: "Will ya look at that? And him a man of the cloth."

Mike shakes his head in disgust and returns to his drink.

An hour later a Cadillac pulls up, a rabbi gets out and rushes into the brothel. Mike shakes his head and says to Pat, "Tsk tsk tsk . . . and look at that! Another man of the cloth fallin' victim to temptation."

Pat shakes his head in disgust and returns to his drink.

Another hour later a chauffer-driven limousine pulls up, a Catholic bishop gets out and scurries into the brothel. Both men clear their throats and look around nervously until Pat says: "Must be someone pretty sick in there!"

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Friday, March 25, 2005

New Job Title

When Emily was renewing her driver's license at the County Clerk's office she was asked by the woman recorder to state her occupation. She hesitated, uncertain how to classify herself.

"What I mean," explained the recorder, "is do you have a job, or are you just a . . . "

Emily was indignant! "Of course I have a job," she snapped. "I'm a . . . "

"Housewife? Mother? We don't list Mother as an occupation; generally, Housewife covers that," the recorder offered disdainfully.

"I am not a housewife!" Emily exclaimed. "I'm a Research Associate in Child Development and Human Relations."

The clerk paused, ball-point pen frozen in midair, and looked up as though she had not heard right. Emily repeated the title slowly, emphasizing the most significant words and stared with wonder as her pronouncement was written in bold, black ink on the application.

"Might I ask," said the clerk with new interest, "just what you do?"

Coolly, without any trace of fluster in her voice, Emily explained, "I manage a continuing program of labratory and field research. I'm working for my Masters, and already have four credits. This job is one of the most demanding in the humanities, and I often work 14 hours a day. It's more challenging than most run-of-the-mill careers, but the rewards are more about satisfaction rather than just money."

There was an increasing note of respect in the clerk's demeanor as she completed Emily's form, stood up, took her photo, and personally escorted her to the door explaining that the new license would arrive by mail.

As she drove into her driveway, buoyed up by her glamorous new career, she was greeted by her lab assistants -- ages 13, 7, and 3. Upstairs was her new experimental model, a 6 month old baby, in the child-development program, testing out a new vocal pattern.

Emily changed the bureaucracy! She is listed in the official record as someone more distinguished and indispensable to mankind than "just another Mom."

Does this make grandmothers "Senior Research Associates in the field of Child Development and Human Relations"? Are great-grandmothers "Executive Senior Research Associates"? This makes all aunts, "Associate Research Assistants".

Spread the word!

Thanks to J.T. for sending this along!

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by Hillary Rodham Clinton

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Thursday, March 24, 2005

AFP a poursuivi Google

Agence France-Presse (AFP) a poursuivi Google Inc. pour l'infraction de copyright parce que Google inclut des articles d'AFP dans son Search Engine.

AFP est-il conseillé par un groupe d'idiots? Qui est leur avocat? Sont-ils des idiots?

Ayante vos pages dans Google la publicité fondamentalement libre, ainsi pourquoi vous montrent-elles-vers le haut est-elle voudrait-elle être enlevée?

Parfois le Français peut être si américain!

Google News Results

Translate today's article here.

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Wednesday, March 23, 2005

That Gap Between Kraftwerk and Peggy Lee

Since I got my first CD player in 1985, I have been trying to replace all my LPs with CDs. I almost succeeded, then had to start again; and now the challenge of finding MP3s has been added to the mix. I now believe I will never replace all my vinyl with digital music.

Whenever I rifle through my CD collection I notice that missing gem between Kraftwerk Trans Europa Express and my Peggy Lee Greatest Hits, and I obsess about it missing! Why isn't it available on CD? The digital conversion that eludes me is the 1973 release Pressure Cookin' by Labelle.

The post-Blue Belles trio of Pattie Labelle, Nona Hendryx and Sarah Dash, were transformed by Vicki Wickham from a basic all-girl R&B singing group to a full-fledged glam band in space suits and feathers that made David Bowie's act of the same era look like a high-school drama project.

Labelle's career as a trio began with Laura Nyro's Gonna Take A Miracle LP. In 1971, the self-named Labelle LP included covers of The Glimmer Twins' "Wild Horses" and Carole King's "You've Got A Friend." The second release, Moon Shadow included covers of the Cat Stevens title track and The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again."

Pressure Cookin' was Labelle's third and rocking-est album, driven mainly by tunes written by Nona, the most musically diverse and talented of the trio. The ballad "Hollywood" showcased Patti's future diva-ness, and their cover of Gil Scott-Heron's "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" was an indication that this trio was more than met the eye. And plenty met the eye!

I was lucky to see Labelle at The Music Hall, in Boston, in 1974. The crowd was riotous, the sound horrid, the band loud, the singers attirred in platforms, metallic spandex, and feather boas. If I wasn't loaded on Seconol that night I must have been tripping my brains out, because the entire evening is a ruch and a blur. I do remember a huge plate glass window on Tremont Street being smashed, such was my concert-going career in that decade.

Though Labelle's commercial success was fleeting, with the Allen Toussaint-produced "Lady Marmalade" showing the most commercial action, the band managed to stay together only until 1976.

After the break-up, Nona and Patti enjoyed solo careers while Sarah has worked primarily as a back-up singer working stints with The Rolling Stones and Keith Richards.

Last Saturday, a friend arrived with a CD of Pressure Cookin' and I ripped it to MP3 as soon as I found a moment. What a great record!

Get it on 8-Track here

The Artistry of Nona Hendryx

A Sarah Dash page

A History of the Blue Belles

VH1's History of Labelle

The Wikipedia entry for Labelle

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Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Joke - Last Request

Mary Clancy goes up to Father O'Grady after Sunday mass, and she's in tears.

He asks, "So what's bothering you, Mary my dear?"

She says, "Oh, Father, I've got terrible news. My husband passed away last night."

The priest says, "Oh, Mary, that's terrible. Tell me, did he have any last requests?"

She says, "That he did, Father..."

The priest asks, "What did he ask, Mary?"

"He asked, 'Please Mary, won't you put down that gun?'"

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Monday, March 21, 2005

Shoot the Kitties!

I am no fan of kitty-cats. I have nothing against them, per se, but I am allergic to them and I avoid them. I like that cats as pets are so independent. That makes them good pets. I don't like to visit their homes, but I do. I just take a pill and I am free from snot and runny eyes and itchy skin for six hours or so -- then I gotta leave.

I live in a city, and like most cities there is an aggressive spaying and neutering program to keep the cat population from becoming unruly. Many rural areas do not spend money on domestic pet control.

I'm beginning to suspect that the residents in rural areas believe that "getting back to the land" means they needn't assume any social, or more accurately, societal responsibilities. They want the freedom to do anything they desire on their land, but they want to be left alone when it comes to inconvenience. I read complaints from ruarl-folk that city-folk (that is, the people who pay the majority of the taxes to keep America running) shouldn't be passing laws that infringe on their rights to kill game or live freely on their slice of rural utopia. To some degree, I agree with them: they should be allowed to kill game on their land.

Some country folks in Wisconsin have put forth Question 62 which illustrates the city vs country life styles.

Question 62 will amend the hunting laws to designate domesticated, but now feral, felines (tabbies, angoras, and the like) as small game. So, Mr.-and-Mrs.-I'm-Getting-Back-To-The-Land will be able to take pot shots at any kitty-cats that trespass on their land!

Hunters are allowed to kill birds and mammals already; but they now want legislation so that only they themselves get to do the killing. They must be angry that the kitty-cats are doing a better job at it, so they want to kill the kitty-cats, too!

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Question 62 reads:

Studies have been done in Wisconsin concerning effects of free roaming feral domestic cats. These studies showed free roaming feral domestic cats killed millions of small mammals, song and game birds. Estimates range from a minimum of 47 million up to 139 million songbirds are killed each year. Free roaming feral domestic cats are not a native species in Wisconsin. The above mentioned cats do however kill native species therefore reducing native species.

At present free roaming feral domestic cats are not defined as a protected or unprotected species. Thus Wisconsin should move to define free roaming feral domestic cats, as any domestic type cat which is not under the owner's direct control, or whose owner has not placed a collar on such cat showing it to be their property. All such defined free roaming feral domestic cats shall be listed as an unprotected species. In so doing Wisconsin would be defining and listing free roaming feral domestic cats.

62. Do you favor the DNR take steps to define free roaming feral domestic cats by the previously mentioned definition and list free roaming domestic feral cats as an unprotected species?

Feral cats are not small game! They are domesticated cats who have been abandoned -- they need to be helped, not shot! Are we supposed to believe that hunters will check to see if the kitty-cat is wearing a collar before shooting it? Nobody willing to shoot kitty-cats is going to check for a collar!

I do not object to hunting. I think we should avoid killing endangered species, and I think killing should be done in a quick and clean manner. I object to fox hunts and clubbing baby seals, and I object to shooting kitty-cats. Let's get real! Shooting kitty-cats? Has it come to this? Have hunters become so drunk and lazy that they won't go and hunt real game, they want to shoot their neighbors' kitty-cat?

If Wisconsin is having trouble with feral cats, they should institute policies that require the spaying/neutering of feral cats. Let's interfere with nature by ending the reproduction cycle, not by hunting and shooting them!

Some Links:

Don't shoot the cat

The Petition

Greater Milwaukee Today article

Writing.Com article

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Alley Cat Allies

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Friday, March 18, 2005

Soccer in America

I am a season-ticket holder for the MetroStars, the Major League Soccer franchise in Metropolitan New York. They are based in New Jersey and play at Giants Stadium.

In an article earlier this week, I wrote:
One of the fringe benefits of being a MetroMember, as season-ticket holders are called, is pre-sale access to tickets for all international matches held at Giants Stadium. I have had front row seats to watch Mexico, Peru, Manchester United, Juventus, and AC Milan; and I've had fantastic seats to see many others. It's a great fringe benefit! (Soon I will write about this year's free bonus match that will make me the envy of most of my footy fanatic mates.)

Well, it was announced at the end of last week that one of the matches I would get to see is England v. Columbia! The MetroStars have set the match as part of a double-header, so I will watch the international friendly followed by the MetroStars hosting the Chicago Fire! Since it is a double-header, my existing ticket for the match provides me access to both matches!

Tickets are also available for sale. See this article.

This is very exciting. I have never seen England play and I am looking forward to it. Imagine the team they could send? You can see the choices here.

I would like to see this 16-man sqaud:

David James - GK
Robert Green - GK
Ashley Cole - D
Jamie Carragher - D
Sol Campbell - D
Rio Ferdinand - D
Glenn Johnson - D
David Beckham - M
Jermaine Jenas - M
Shaun Wright-Phillips - M
Kieron Dyer - M
Joe Cole - M
Michael Owen - F
Wayne Rooney - F
Jermaine Defoe - F
Andrew Johnson - F

For Columbia, I only hope that Juan Pablo Angel is present.

As well as this match, I have been able to purchase front-row corner seats for the Gold Cup Semi-finals and Final. The CONCACAF Gold Cup is a competition among ten teams from the Caribbean and North and Central America with two other national teams invited. This year those teams are South Africa and Columbia. Hopefully the USA will make it to the Semis so I can see them play.

Being a season-ticket holder of your local soccer team is a great deal and the benfits are fantastic.

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Thursday, March 17, 2005

MP3s I want

I continue to grow my collection of oldies. I want more! Can you send me any of these?

96 Tears - ? and The Mysterians
Bella Lagosi's Dead - Bauhaus
Angel From Montgomery - Bonnie Raitt
The Harder They Come (Acapella) - Donnie Calvin & Rocker's Revenge
Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend - Emmylou Harris
Money - Flying Lizards
Christine (fast and/or slow versions) - Garland Jeffreys
Midnight Train To Georgia - Gladys Knight & The Pips
Neither One Of Us - Gladys Knight & The Pips
Tainted Love - Gloria Jones
Then He Kissed Me - Hollywood Brats
Little Wing - Jimi Hendrix Experience
Johnny Are You Queer? - Josie Cotton
Lucky Number - Lene Lovich
New Toy - Lene Lovich
Too Tender To Touch - Lene Lovich
To Sir With Love - Lou Miami & The Kozmetix
On Broadway - Lou Rawls
To Sir With Love (Film Soundtrack Version) - Lulu
Buffalo Love - Malcolm McLaren
Spirit In The Sky - Norman Greenbaum
Every Beat You Hear - Otis Liggett
Piss Factory - Patti Smith
Everybody's Boring - Pearl Harbor & The Explosions
Schock den Affen - Peter Gabriel
Tainted Love - Soft Cell
Sex Dwarf - Soft Cell
Skin And Bone - The Kinks
Georgy Girl - The Seekers
American Fun - The Stompers
Walk On By - The Stranglers
Betcha by Golly, Wow - The Stylistics
My Generation - The Who
Gloria - Them
Go - Tones On Tails
Jackie Wilson Said - Van Morrison
Hey D.J. - Worlds Famous Supreme Team
Oh Bondage Up Yours - X.Ray Spex

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Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Tim Howard: "Shutting Out Tourette's Syndrome"

I became a soccer fan at the "turn-of-the-century." (That sounds so quaint!) I was living in London and another ex-pat took me to Highbury to see Arsenal beat Man City 5-0. I was hooked!

I had had a reputation for poking fun at soccer. You know the standard American criticisms: "How can it be a sport if you can't use your hands?" "It's just poor man's football." "An insurmountable lead of 1-0." You've heard them all, I'm sure.

In the late 1960s, I had was exposed to soccer by attending Boston Beacons matches at Fenway Park. We were poor, the projects were near the park, the tickets were free. It was a good Summer night out. Somewhere there is a picture of me in a Boston Beacons t-shirt and I want to find it!

Well, I became an Arsenal supporter while living in London and when I returned to New York I had to scramble to find broadcasts and web subscriptions and magazines. But, eventually I was all set-up with my regular fix of English footy.

It wasn't enough! I Googled "professional soccer usa" and found, which led me to my local Major League Soccer team: The MetroStars. I called the front office and purchased two season tickets. Thus began my love affair with American soccer.

The MetroStars were perfect for me. They have never won the championship, they climb to the top of the table, then slip out of contention at the last possible moment, and then are eliminated from the playoffs in the first round. What more could I ask for in a home team?!?!? Have you seen or read nick Hornby's "Fever Pitch"?

One of the fringe benefits of being a MetroMember, as season-ticket holders are called, is pre-sale access to tickets for all international matches held at Giants Stadium. I have had front row seats to watch Mexico, Peru, Manchester United, Juventus, and AC Milan; and I've had fantastic seats to see many others. It's a great fringe benefit! (Soon I will write about this year's free bonus match that will make me the envy of most of my footy fanatic mates.)

Back to my Metros! We had a spectacular goalkeeper, Tim Howard. He was the best in the league. Phenomenal. He was nearly unbeatable. He was a joy to watch. He was public about living with Tourette's Syndrome, which made him even more amazing, admirable and adorable. He was an athlete extrodinaire and a true professional. He made amazing saves and played agressively.

He was part of an infamous double-switch when Metros coach Bob Bradley used a litte-known and now-defunct MLS rule that allowed a team to make three regular substitutions PLUS one goalkeeper substitution. After all three player subsitutions had been made, the game was still even. Bradley had Howard take a defenders position, putting the defender in goal. Then a player who usually plays as a forward was subsituted as goalkeeper and a few minutes later Howard returned to goal and the new player took up his position at forward! It was extremely unorthodox, but not illegal, and the Metros won the game minutes later!

Howard always played so well that he caught the eye of some European clubs, including the richest, most famous sports club in the world: the hated Manchester United (referred to forthwith as ManUre), of the English Premier League.

I hate ManUre! I lived in London, so why would I ever support a team from Manchester? That's like living in New York and supporting a team from Pittsburgh! Nonsense! Tim Howard was invited to tryout for ManUre and that is a dream come true for any soccer player, but moreso for an American soccer player.

Without hesitation, ManUre made an offer, and my star goalkeeper was off to play for the team I hate most. I was angry, I sad for the MetroStars, but I was and still am thrilled for Howard. He has become quite famous around the world and though his success with ManUre has been mixed, he is still considered a top-flight international goalkeeper. Not bad for a guy from New Jersey!

I miss Timmy, but I wish him all the success in the world and I look forward to him being sold by ManUre to a club more deserving of his talents.

Howard is so famous that he was the subject of a 60 Minutes report back in January titled "Shutting Out Tourette's Syndrome" and he is now the international face of the battle against the condition.

See the 60 Minutes report here.

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by Nick Hornby

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Tuesday, March 15, 2005

"Dear Condi, . . . "

Lloyd Axworthy, president of the University of Winnipeg and former Canadian foreign minister, is a bit miffed by the reaction of the current American regime to the sensible decision of the Canadian Finance Ministry to refuse that nation's participation in our wacky missile defense programs.

In an article in the form of an open-letter to Secretary of State Rice, published by the Winnipeg Free Press, Axworthy says (not without quite a bit of humor):

I know it seems improbable to your divinely guided master in the White House that mere mortals might disagree with participating in a missile-defence system that has failed in its last three tests, even though the tests themselves were carefully rigged to show results.

But, gosh, we folks above the 49th parallel are somewhat cautious types who can't quite see laying down billions of dollars in a three-dud poker game.

As our erstwhile Prairie-born and bred (and therefore prudent) finance minister pointed out in presenting his recent budget, we've had eight years of balanced or surplus financial accounts. If we're going to spend money, Mr. Goodale added, it will be on day-care and health programs, and even on more foreign aid and improved defence.

Even though American republicans lose the wars they start, or fail to complete the job once they see a positive public relations blip, they still expect everyone to get behind their bizarre defense-spending schemes. These multi-billion dollar projects are started only to funnel tax dollars to wealthy friends who own military production facilities making devices that have a near-zero success rate.

This happens time and again and has nothing to do with protecting freedom or defending the people of the world.

Still, we are all supposed to just shut-up and let them waste our money while tens of millions of American citizens go without health care, housing, education, and jobs. Leaders like the current American president also expect other nations to spend big in their efforts to get rich. It's refreshing to read Axworthy's refusal to capitulate and his desire to fund unAmerican programs like healthcare and education.

Read the original Winnipeg Free Press article here.

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Monday, March 14, 2005

The Drugs I Need

The Consumers Union, publishers of Consumers Reports, commissioned the creation of an animated film about the costs and advertising of prescription drugs. It's hilarious!

JibJab usually publishes only their own creations, but they have published "The Drugs I Need" for your enjoyment.

The health care crisis and prescription drug strangle-hold on the United States public is a modern day embarrassment. No nation that considers itself civilized should hamper delivery of health care the way the United States does. The elderly and the infirm and the able-bodied, children and the handicapped and the healthy, the unemployed, underemployed and the employed, all deserve access to the world's finest health care.

Why don't we have it?

I work for a company that does over a billion dollars worth of business, and whose principals are some of the highest earning professionals in their industry. Last year, they reduced our health care benefits to the absolute worst available.

Why does the wealthiest nation in the world provide some of the worst health care on the planet?

I know nobody really cares, I just thought I'd ask! Now, go have some fun and watch the cartoon:

See "The Drugs I Need" at jibjab.


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Friday, March 11, 2005

I've been thrown out of better places!

Frederick Henry, The Roman Catholic Bishop of Calgary, says that Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin should be excommunicated from the Church because he supports the constitutionality of gay marriage.

I guess business must be good for the Roman Catholic Church in Canada if they can start kicking-out people. I mean, when business is good, you can refuse admission to anyone. Last I'd heard, from my own parish priest, attendance is still declining in Catholic churches across the USA and Canada.

A popular political tactic of self-serving bishops in North America is to frighten parishioners away from using their God-given brains. By refusing Communion to elected officials, the church delivers the not-so-subtle and inappropriate message that anyone in the parish who holds a political position different from Church party-line, might also be expelled from the Communion. If a parishioner uses his brain and comes to a conclusion that differs from the Church, he is unwelcome. The Church calls the shots, and no amount of sense (common or otherwise) may come between the parishioner and his enslavement to Rome.

Bishop Henry, of Calgary, Alberta, is a man who delivers a most unChristian message.

I am a Catholic and I enjoy being part of the Communion. I will continue being part of the Communion and nobody will stop me, no matter my position on gay marriage or any other political issue of the day!

So there!

Bishop Calls for PM's Excommunication

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Thursday, March 10, 2005

"He was insignificant in every way . . . "

"He knew who I was, at that time, because I had a reputation as a writer. I knew he was part of the Bush dynasty. But he was nothing, he offered nothing, and he promised nothing. He had no humor. He was insignificant in every way and consequently I didn't pay much attention to him. But when he passed out in my bathtub, then I noticed him. I'd been in another room, talking to the bright people. I had to have him taken away."
-- Hunter S. Thompson on meeting George W. Bush at Thompson's Super Bowl party in Houston in 1974.

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Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Another Playlist

Well not so much a playlist as song list.

My friend Joe gave me an iTunes gift certificate for my birthday and it took me weeks to put together the list of files I wanted to download.

Did I want to find obscure cuts I'd been missing for years? Yes. Did I find some? Yes. Did I want to find some not-so-obscure hits I am somewhat embarrassed to admit I like? Well, of course!

Alphabetically, this is the list of songs I added to my library:

Academy Fight Song by Mission of Burma
Annie, I'm Not Your Daddy by Kid Creole & The Coconuts
Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In by The 5th Dimension
Don't Leave Me This Way by Thelma Houston
Don't Talk to Me About Love by Altered Images
Downtown by Petula Clark
Harper Valley PTA by Jeannie C. Riley
Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel by Tavares
Hound Dog by Big Mama Thornton
I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor
Indiana Wants Me by R. Dean Taylor
Johnny Come Home by Fine Young Cannibals
King of the Road by Roger Miller
Louie Louie by Toots & The Maytals
Mannish Boy by Muddy Waters
Rock 'n' Roll Nigger by Patti Smith
Smalltown Boy by Bronski Beat
The Twist by Chubby Checker
Up-Up and Away by The 5th Dimension
Who Are You by The Who

Some of these songs I hadn't heard in twenty, twenty-five, thirty years, or more! What a treat!

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Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Santa Fe man savagely beaten in gay-bashing

At least four young Santa Fe men beat James Maestas in a gay-bashing incident last week; and he is breathing with the help of a respirator. His companion, an Albuquerque man, suffered minor injuries during the assault, in which police say the attackers repeatedly called the two men "faggots."

Gabriel Maturin, 20, Isaia Medina, 19, and David Trinidad, 17, have been charged in connection with the beating, and police say three other men also were present during the violence; but, did not necessarily participate.

According to a family spokesperson: "We’re not out of the woods yet. The doctors say he will be getting worse before he gets better."

This is 2005, and homosexuals are still being attacked and nothing is being done on a cultural level to put an end to it. The culture of homophobia is rampant.

Oddly, the 17-year-old Trinidad is currently on probation for raping a 4 1/2-year-old boy, according to Asst. Dist. Atty. Heidi Pircher. Pircher said she plans to seek adult sanctions against Trinidad. So this baby-raping turd is on the street after abusing a toddler and he has turned his violent ways to trying to kill adults.

Sadly, he will probably be given another lenient sentence and be allowed to continue his crime spree without hinderence, as long as he focuses on children, homosexuals, and any other marginalized group. You can be sure that once he perpertrates a crime against a white heterosexual jesus-freak he will be given the death-penalty and all the wrong-wingers will scream that a violent man like this should have been incarcerated and it's the liberals that let guys like this run free.

This is the way the wrong-wing always operates: they set the table for disaster then blame liberals for the ensuing crises. Whether it is health care or violence or social security, the wrong-wing makes a series of blunders then blames liberals. It's been happening since the Reagan years and because idiots lost in the heartland unable to wipe the jeezus from their eyes are unwilling to see the truth, the wrong-wingers continue to get away with it!

The family of James Maestas needs money to pay hospital bills. Donations to the "Love Conquers Hate Fund" can be sent to P.O. Box 25683, Albuquerque, NM 87125.

The Advocate

The Free New Mexican

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Monday, March 07, 2005

A Long Day With A Road Block

Please forgive the tardiness of today's entry. I have been traveling and I should have posted before my last journey.

Hit a road block in Connecticut; which is dramatically less inconvenient than hitting a road block in Iraq!

I read some more today about the Italian agent killed in Iraq while escorting the recently-released hostage, Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena, from the bad guys. Seems like quite a blunder.

I want to believe the American soldiers' stories; but the American military lies so much it's impossible to know if they EVER tell the truth. And the Italian journalist who WAS freed has a story that seems much more believable; especially since the dead man drew his last breath on top of her while shielding her from bullets.

It looks like Italy will be the next nation to abandon the American campaign to acquire the natural resources of Iraq. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is also the chairman of the AC Milan football club, and he knows how to run a public relations campaign. Iraq is a PR nightmare for him right now. No good can come from his continued support for sending Italian troops and I suspect they will be completely withdrawn by Christmas.

Since the American media barely covers this stuff, I thought I'd proffer links from the bad guys:

World Socialist Web Site




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Friday, March 04, 2005

A Mix

I will be seeing my sister this weekend, and she goes crazy for 1970s pop music. I knew I had to make a mixed CD as a gift, and I wondered exactly how far down the pop food-chain I could go.

My Maria - BW Stevenson
Joy To The World - Three Dog Night
Billy Don't Be A Hero - Bo Donaldson
Knock Three Times - Dawn
Give Me Just A Little More Time - Chairmen of the Board
Hooked On A Feeling - Blue Swede
Changes - David Bowie
Band Of Gold - Freda Payne
Don't Pull Your Love Out - Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds
Want Ads - Honey Cone
I'm Not My Brother's Keeper - Flaming Ember
Rock The Boat - Hues Corporation
River Deep, Mountain High - Supremes
Brandy (You're A Fine Girl) - Looking Glass
Brother Louie - Stories
Bad Blood - Neil Sedaka
I Am Woman - Helen Reddy
Saturday Night - Bay City Rollers
Go All The Way - Raspberries
Pay To The Piper - Chairmen of the Board
Higher Ground - Stevie Wonder
O-o-o-oh Child - Five Stairsteps
You're So Vain - Carly Simon
Someday We'll Be Together - Supremes

Sure, some of these are classics, but most are not. How many of these songs can you sing-along? It's embarrassing to realize I know the words to some of these songs!

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Thursday, March 03, 2005

Ode To Billie Joe Follow-Up

Earlier this week, I posted an article about "Ode To Billie Joe" and I pondered:

So . . . what is this song about? Why did Billie Joe MacAllister jump off the bridge? And what were he and this girl throwing off the bridge beforehand? What was Billie Joe's secret? What personal devil drove him to suicide? Is there a clue in the song I am missing?

In a few email threads and actual conversations, I put forth my theory that he must have been a repressed homosexual who was exposed by someone and couldn't live around Choctaw Ridge in the early sixties if people knew. Most of my friends dismissed my theory . . . actually, all my friends dismissed my theory.

Then I got the following email from my friend Mark:

According to the film version of Ode to Billy Joe, made sometime in the 70's I think but am not sure, and starring (who can forget?) Robbie Benson, and supposedly approved by the big B.G. herself, Billy Joe was a closet case who had nasty sex with his factory foreman and threw himself off the bridge over that. What they were seen throwing off the bridge was a baby doll (rag I believe), I forget why, but I think the girl had an abortion somewhere in there. Feel free to share this with the blog world so someone with less of a life than me can correct all the errors of memory hiding in this missive.

I didn't even know there was a movie about the song! So, I visited and learned:

At last, we're given the answers to the questions raised by the haunting 1967 Bobbie Gentry song of the same title. Eighteen- year-old Billy Joe McAllister is in love with Bobbie Lee, but her father refuses to allow her to receive gentlemen callers before she's sixteen. In the Mississippi Delta, in a time before the boondocks had seen television and indoor plumbing, a young man's fancy turns constantly to thoughts of love. Billy Joe is no different in this regard and his persistence is making it difficult for Bobbie Lee to maintain her virtue (the dog-eared issues of "Torrid Romance" don't help either). Perhaps an indictment of the artificial conventions of society, the film demonstrates the tragic consequences of a young couple's first awkward grapplings with love and sex. As Bobbie Lee says shortly after Billy Joe's lifeless body is dragged from the Chattahoochee River, "What do I know of love... I'm only a child." Yet, there seems little doubt that what she feels for the dead boy is love. Could he have loved her so well?

and this:

Billy Joe confesses his love to the lovely Bobbi Lee only to cover his growing fear that he may, in fact, be homosexual. One night, at a barn dance, he gets a little drunk and rather than going with the hired whores, gives into his desires and sexual relations with an unnamed man. The guilt causes him to run away, hide in the woods and eventually confess everything to Bobbi Lee who doesn't want to believe him only because she was enjoying the forbidden nature of their love. In the end, he cannot accept his sexuality nor can he hide behind Bobbi Lee and that's why he throws himself off the [Tallahatchie] bridge.

When I thanked Mark for his insight and told him of people's reaction to my theory, he wrote:
. . . your friends should realize that whenever a young kid jumps off a bridge in East Bumfuck, Tennessee, there's at least a 50% chance that homosexuality is involved.

I think he is quite correct, and the percentage is probably higher than 50%!

My friend Irma has promised an MP3 of the song, and let's hope it arrives before long! entry for the movie "Ode To Billie Joe"

Link to my original article of 28 FEB 06.

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(This post was updated on 27 DEC 06.)

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Joke - The president visited an elementary school . . .

One day, President Bush visited an elementary school. All the teachers and students were excited to get to meet him. The school was decorated in red, white & blue; the Secret Service buzzed around the grounds for days in advance; reporters attempted to make connections with faculty and administration to try and get an inside story. The entire community was abuzz.

When he finally arrived, he stood at a podium in a small auditorium and delivered a well-written speech about heroism, greatness, and tragedy. At the end of his speech, he asked the children in the audience to define the word "tragedy."

"Well," one girl replied, "If my mommy ran over my dog, Rover, that would be a tragedy!"

The President smiled at the little girl and said, "No, sweetie. That would be an accident! Can anyone else give it a try?" Nervous laughter rose form the audience.

A little boy raised his hand and said, "I know! I know! If our bus driver ran off of a cliff and killed everyone!"

The President shook his head and said, "No son. That would be a great loss, not a tragedy! Does anyone else know of a good example of a tragedy?" Some nervous murmuring could be heard from the adults.

A small girl raised her hand and said, "Well, Mr. President, if you and the First Lady were in Air Force One and it was hit by a missile and blown to smithereens, most people would think of that as a tragedy!"

A sense of relief came over those assembled.

"Very good, young lady," the President said. "And what was your reasoning for that answer?"

"Well," she said. "If you were shot out of the sky, it would not be an accident and it certainly would not be a great loss!"

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