June 22, 2002

Here's some food criticism you can use, although I wish she had also reviewed the crappy cardboard product Herr Puck puts out now.
Slow weekend planned. Probably go watch some band play. Have little to comment on as far as last night's games are concerned: Spain got jobbed even worse than Italy did, losing two clear goals; and Senegal was surprisingly uninspired against Turkey, who won the game in sudden death, and had most of the real scoring chances. One thing to note: if Korea gets to the Finals (a very real possibility, considering how exhausted the Germans were after the US game), they will go from being a home team backed by a very real, and loud, twelfth man, to the road team, since the Finals are in Yokohama, Japan.

June 21, 2002

I apologize to those of you whose only mission in life is to visit Smythe's World and find out about what's going on in my life, not just what my opinions are about the World Cup, Lena Olin, and the Middle East. In any event, your patience is about to be rewarded.

Last night, I ventured down to the happiest place on earth, Irish sports pub Joxer Dalys, to watch England v. Brazil, and was joined by about 125 revelers in what quickly became an overwhelming sea of humanity. For those of you who haven't been there before, I should point out that it is about the size of an ordinary bar; this isn't Yankee Doodles or Champions, with multiple floors and a large billiards and air hockey room in the basement. As a regular (by the way, that's a pretty sad thing to admit), the staff pretty much knows that I'm only going to drink Beamish or Carlsburg while I'm there, so I didn't have to wait in line, but for about 90% of the customers, getting a drink was a major hassle. Oh well, sucks to be them.

Anyway, considering that the crowd last night was larger than Super Bowl Sunday, the bartendresses did a pretty good job--the one quibble I have was that the stout was, well, just a bit too warm. The customers were split down the middle; a surprisingly large pro-Brazil contingent was there, and obviously they went home feeling pretty good about themselves. As an Inglaterra fan, last night's game was one of the more frustrating events I've witnessed there recently; even when Brazil went down a man, they controlled the game, and no one on the English team was a threat to score once Owen was subbed.

Well, we obviously weren't spanked. The U.S. took the play to the Germans, making most of the chances, but this time it was their opponent who got the inspired game from its goalkeeper. Soooooo close....
After the build-up, a big let-down, as Brazil dominated from the first minute on, and won 2-1. England actually took the lead, due to a defensive blunder allowing Owen an open blast, but the rest of the way Brazilian class showed; even after Ronaldinho was sent off early in the 2nd half, Brazil never looked to be in trouble. And of course, Seaman made his annual miscalculation on a long free kick, costing his team a chance to lose it in O.T. Depression sets in, as I now suspect the U.S. is about to get spanked....

June 20, 2002

After Sunday, I have learned enough not to predict World Cup games. I realized when I was breaking down these match-ups that I may have inadvertantly picked Weber St. to upset NC before the World Cup began; now that this game is actually going to take place tomorrow morning, I can only hope that no one remembered my original post on the subject.
Two questions about events in another part of the world:

1. Why is Arafat being negotiated with, when he has nothing to bring to the table?
2. What on earth does General Sharon have to do before the President realizes that he's a cancer?

This excellent piece eviscerates the soccerphobic commentariat (ie. Jim Rome, Matt Cairns, etc.) in the U.S.
I can't believe I'm now debating whether I should stay up the night (on a school night, no less) to watch the U.S. play the Germans, in a game the outcome of which is not really in doubt. In any event, I find this site to be fascinating (apparently, a fellow amateur).

June 19, 2002

For those of you keeping track, the quarterfinal of the World Cup begins tomorrow night, with Kansas playing Kentucky, followed by North Carolina and Weber State in the nightcap. Friday will see Wisconsin and Hawaii square off in the late game, with UCLA and Louisiana Tech trying to settle matters early. If that only looks partially like an NCAA Final Eight, its because this year has seen way too many upsets. Just as in college basketball, unfortunately, form begins to hold right around now. Sorry, but don't expect Weber State or LA Tech to reach the Final Four.
Sorry for disrespecting the Bing !!!
One of the more debated stories in futbol has been the decline of Serie A, the Italian national soccer league. This story perhaps encapsulates everything that is wrong and petty in sports, and provides some enlightenment as to the above issue. I hope Ahn signs to play in a superior league where they still have a dog in the hunt, like England, Germany, or the U.S.
Now Lauralee has company: a great casting coup for this daytime chestnut.

June 18, 2002

A little less conversation, a little more action: Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I think Ronaldo is the only player in that Nike ad (you know, the one on the tanker) that's still playing in the W.C.
Dept. of corrections: This earlier posting, which I thought sounded too good (or bad, as the case may be) to be true, was in fact not true. Please disregard.
On the post below, my reference to Alias being played "completely straight" referred to the tone of the show, not its perceived sexual preference. Sorry for any confusion, but I thought it went without saying that a TV show cannot have a "sexual preference".
A nice piece here skewers the most pretentious man alive.

June 17, 2002

"Susan" suggests this 12-step program might do me some good.
Its time to check the mailbag:

A laconic friend writes:
1.There are no liars at Joxer's.
2.Coach Cock WILL be available for the 2006 World Cup.
3.I'm ecstatic that Algore is busy picking up filtered cigarette butts from the gutters and stenciling fishbones with the phrase "No dumping" next to sewer drains than leading our country at this time.
4.Back in May I distinctly remember a certain bespectacled, shiny headed attorney predicting the Lakers would not repeat (or "Threepeat" as you unoriginal Laker fans call it) this season.
5.I'll take Rowan & Martin over Shaq & Kobe anytime.

No liars? Haven't you ever gotten a bill from Christine or Dakota? I'm getting tired of so-called friends falsely impugning my integrity and my wisdom and foresight in predicting that the Lakers would get their trey. Please take the time to review my posts last week, after Games 2 and 3 of the Finals. I'm glad that Hitchcock will be available in 2006, as he might have a choice of several teams to coach, including our neighbors to the south. I will ignore your insult about the President. Quit harassing me.
Some of you took exception to my comments about Lena Olin, to wit:

About to be jumped? That show jumps everytime she says, "I was working for the people I thought I was fighting against".

or this, from someone whose evil twin is the basis for Laura Bristow:

What have you got against Lena Olin? I'm definitely not a lesbian -- not that there is anything wrong with that -- and yet I find her incredibly sexy. A dark haired Swede -- what a great combination.
BTW, was hanging at a new hotspot called Koi the other night, and Jennifer Garner's love interest from Alias (you know, her "CIA handler") was at the next table. I stared at him all night.

I'm not a lesbian either, although I often think I am a lesbian trapped in a man's body. Seriously, no one is going to understand any of this without some background. One of the best shows on TV right now is an ABC series called Alias. It's stars an impossibly gorgeous actress named Jennifer Garner (Sydney Bristow), and is basically like a James Bond or Indiana Jones movie, except its played completely straight; no bad jokes or puns, no smirks or winks from the hero to leaden the atmosphere, and even the bad guys are three-dimensional. The heroine gets into her fair share of fights, and in a TV-first, every so often gets the crap beat out of her, making the character sort of like a female Jim Rockford. Its largely a no-name cast. This is a good place to go if you want more info on the series; if you are just getting into the show, or if you need an explanation as to what some obscure group or reference (incl. anything to do with "Rambaldi artifacts"), that's where you go, or go to the official website ABC has for the show. As the first writer pointed out, its entirely reasonable to believe that the show already jumped the shark, but then again, its entirely reasonable to tell a 5-year old that there is no Santa Claus.

Anyway, without giving away too many plot twists, Swedish actress Lena Olin was recently cast as a woman very close to our heroine, a character that can be described as a cross between Keyser Soze, Harry Lime, and "Karla" from the Le Carre spy novels. My disappointment with the casting centers around my feeling that the show could have been a bit more creative. Ms. Olin, for those of you who may have forgotten, was a star back in the late-80's-early 90's, and was (I think) nominated for an Oscar. Her career has slowed down in the last ten years, to the point that she now basically plays evil semi-attractive women in every film, similar to her memorable character in Romeo Is Burning. The low point has to be her supporting role in Queen of the Damned; every actress who basically wants to the follow the Karen Black route just needs to do one Anne Rice movie.

Nevertheless, that downturn has more to do with poor choices than a lack of talent; I have no doubt she will pull off the character. But as the other letter reminds us, this show is always on the verge of slipping off the precipice into self-parody. Its pretty much survived without "stars", and although I would have preferred, for purely fetishistic reasons, that they had cast Mimi Rogers in the role, I believe that hiring another talented but non-famous actress would have been a better move. Besides, how do you kill off Lena Olin?

P.S. On your last point, the name of the actor you were stalking at Koi is Michael Vartan. And remember, whatever you do, please do not tell Scott what you really do for a living.

Damn hackers. Disregard the previous post.

June 16, 2002


Mexico 3, U.S. 1: Mexico will dominate possession and pick apart the pathetic U.S. defense; if the U.S. falls behind early, look for an even higher scoring game, with Donovan and O'Brien setting up many good scoring chances, and Mexico getting counterattack after counterattack.

Brazil 4, Belgium 1: Gotta love the Samba !!!
As I predicted, England ended up dominating Denmark, and looks set to give Brazil (or Belgium, right...) a good battle in the quarterfinals next Thursday night. As I didn't predict, Paraguay kept the game with Germany close, and Chilavert, the goalkeeper who bears a resemblance to the fat kid at boot camp in Full Metal Jacket, came up big time and time again, until a goal in the final two minutes gave the Germans a well-deserved result. As dull as those two games were, this mornings games were classics. Senegal, the Kent State of soccer, stunned the Swedes in overtime, by scoring a "golden goal", to use the cheesy term FIFA has come up with, then Spain overcame a last-second goal by the Irish to prevail on penalty kicks. Two things about that game bear commentary: one, the Spanish subbed out Raul, their superstar, late in the game to get an extra defender to protect the lead; once the Irish scored to tie the game, Spain was left with almost no attack; and two, this has been repeated almost to the point of cliche, but using penalty kicks to decide a game after only 30 minutes of overtime sucks big time.