Friday, January 16, 2009

Maradona, still entertaining

Maradona: Player of the Year rules are stupid

Buried in this piece is news that France and Argentina will be playing a friendly on February 11. I'm looking forward to this one.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Looks like I (and every other sane commentator) am probably wrong. Apparently Kaka will move for 135 million pounds. Egads.


UN headquarters in Gaza hit by Israeli 'white phosphorus' shells

I am a bit incredulous at this. To be fair, the Israeli's claim they were responding to being fired upon from the UN position... however, bombing, with white phosphorous, in a civilian area a UN depot for needed supplies, food, and medicine is shockingly contemptuous of international law, the UN, and the human beings who live in Gaza.

Also this is not the first incident where Israel has attacked a UN facility.

Wenger on money and reality

The more I follow the soap opera that is football, the more I respect Wenger, the manager of Arsenal. He is v. good at building football teams and creating champions. This year, however, Arsenal will probably not meet expectations (deservedly so, but such a shame). But only a fool would write off Arsenal's chances, especially next year.

Wenger discusses Manchester City and the January transfer window.

From the Dept. of ROFLs

Whole lotta links

Revamping this blog a bit.

All part of my cunning plan...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ex-cop charged with murder in Calif. shooting

Prosecutors in the San Francisco Bay area have filed murder charges against a former transit officer in the shooting death of an unarmed black man.

The big question people are asking is why Mehserle fired his weapon. I doubt Mehserle knows the answer to that. He drew his weapon and fired in time frame of about three seconds. Something was wrong with his pattern of thought. In addition to destroying the life of one individual, he has essentially destroyed his own.

A tragedy. I hope some good comes out of this.

Manchester City Drama

Man City is hot for Kaka, who they will not get. Kaka has not played as much as he would like at Milan, since the arrival of Ronaldinho, so there was speculation earlier in the year that he might be amenable to a move. Yet, he is a fantastic player who also enjoys winning championships. And Milan is a great city to live in.
"A deal this month is not impossible. Kaka will talk to Manchester City if the two clubs agree a fee. But Ricky would like a strong side. He would never do something like Robinho, who, just to earn more, contented himself with not a winning solution."
This statement, by Kaka's agent, is a bit unfair to Robhino. Robhino was clearly unhappy with Real Madrid during the summer, as Real Madrid focused all of its attention on acquiring Cristiano Ronaldo (who has this year won the golden boot, and FIFA Player of the Year) from Manchester United. Both Robhino and C. Ronaldo are strikers who play as right-side wingers, so the arrival of Cristiano would have meant Robhino sitting on the bench or switching positions (CR can play effectively anywhere in the front field, although he prefers the wing).

With this going on Robhino became desperate to leave Real Madrid -- apparently the acrimony erupted big time, compounded by ineffective team management. Chelsea offered a way out, but the price Real Madrid wanted for Robhino was insanely high... Apparently the machismo at Real Madrid was such that Real Madrid was willing to let Robhino sit on the bench for the year rather than take Chelsea's offer. At the last minute Manchester City put in an offer that met Real Madrid's demands.

And it is a shame really. Chelsea would have had a much stronger season had Robhino been on their squad, even with the injury troubles Robhino has had off and on. Chelsea's big problem this season is an inability to find goals when it counts -- although in their loss to Manchester United, that looked like the least of their problems. Chelsea seem to have gone off the rails slightly -- they have the talent. But one can see now what Robhino would have meant to them.

Manchester City, facing a relegation battle, is trying to buy its way out of trouble by spending mad money on stars. And yet the mad money has caused the team to implode -- most of the players on the squad don't see a future for themselves on the team, given that most are journeyman players. And their manager has completely failed to motivate the players and get the most out of them.

In a way I hope Manchester City does become relegated -- although it is a scenario I find hard to believe will happen. Should Manchester City go down it will prove that the English game is fair -- no match fixing, no shady dealings. It will also prove that money does not turn a team into champions (c.f. Chelsea), although it might help. It will also give Man Utd fans loads of material for chants to scream and sing at derbies, and it will inject the Champions League (the English second division, if you will) with a fresh bolus of drama and talent.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tom Vickery says...

The numbers game a bane:
There have been many times in the Maracana stadium when I have been sitting next to the team collecting match statistics. "Accurate pass by the number 5," the team leader would call out, though the ball had been blasted calf-height on the recipient's wrong foot, keeping the play so tight that loss of possession was inevitable, or "inaccurate pass by the number 8," after he had played an inspired ball inside the opposing full -back which might have set up a chance if his team-mate had been bright enough to read it.

Witnessing the match stats being compiled has made me acutely aware of their limitations. Football is too fluid for the rigidity of the statistical mind. Has the ball been used well? This depends, surely, on the situation of the game, the zone of the pitch - on considerations that cannot be reduced to a statistic.

If football were just numbers it would be bingo, and would not have become such a global passion. Even football's key statistic - goals - are not the be all and end all. It is often said that no one remembers who came second, but it's not true. The likes of Hungary in 1954 and Holland 20 years later lost World Cup finals, but their teams are still remembered fondly. Brazil didn't even make the semis in 1982 - but there are many all over the world that fell in love with football after seeing the beauty of the play from Socrates, Zico, Falcao etc.

A fascinating perspective

My Dinners with Dubya

Monday, January 12, 2009


Q&A with literary agents (thanks to CSS for this)


Going back over earlier portions of the novel -- editing, streamlining -- before continuing with the new stuff.

Since I am now at the end-game of the story, it is important to make sure everything is accounted for.

Top ten Bush moments

Apropos of a rant

Apropos (which is not really a word, you know) of a rant somewhere else...

I had just started graduate school and I was living in an apartment complex... a college student apartment complex with comely undergrads and a pool... so I had understandably misguided hopes about my future, based on my living conditions. I was working at home one day, since I like peace and solitude, and the freedom to speak aloud to myself (which is actually important when writing), when I, against my instincts, felt compelled to call the cops because one of my neighbors was playing incredibly loud music. And it was not even particularly hip or new, it was Black Sabbath -- I mean, I understand the sentiment, but playing Black Sabbath incredibly loudly is not awe-inspiring, its cliché (which is a real word).

And it was not even one of my neighbors in my own apartment building. It was someone in the apartment building that was two buildings away.

I felt as if I had transgressed against my music-loving, "if you dig it do it" soul.

But then, after the cops came, the music was turned way down, and I found the quiet I needed to write.

All was right in the world once more...


Research point: Divine languages

See also: Enochian and The Enochians

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Fifth Element

Ebert said, in 1997:
``The Fifth Element,'' which opened the Cannes Film Festival on Thursday, is one of the great goofy movies--a film so preposterous I wasn't surprised to discover it was written by a teenage boy. That boy grew up to become Luc Besson, director of good smaller movies and bizarre big ones, and here he's spent $90 million to create sights so remarkable they really ought to be seen.

That's not to say this is a good movie, exactly. It's more of a jumble that includes greatness. Like ``Metropolis'' or ``Blade Runner,'' it offers such extraordinary visions that you put your criticisms on hold and are simply grateful to see them. If Besson had been able to link those sights with a more disciplined story and more ruthless editing, he might have really had something.

He really needn't have said any more, except that he had column inches to fill. It is a hodge-podge of a movie with attitude and grace.

Doing the math

Hey maybe, just maybe, the USA's unqualified support for Israel's actions in Gaza will have negative consequences in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I don't want to be accused of crazy talk, so just treat it as playing devil's advocate.

The Fez

Apparently I'm not the only one who thought that The Fez, a brilliant, groovy song from Steely Dan's The Royal Scam (1976), was about condoms. Awesome song, btw.

Man Utd-Chelsea 3-0

The second and third goals in particular were amazing.

The first and third goals were from set pieces. Both teams at times had trouble maintaining possession, but Chelsea were not nearly as good as they should have been.