R O 16 P2

Oh well.
There are few a things I care about more than soccer. One of them is seeing some of my favorite DJs play in a not-quite legal space. Suffice it to say, at 7am on Sunday morning, I decided to sleep instead of watch. I know that prize committees and editors worldwide sighed sadly as they realized I might not be a dependable enough commentator to provide oodles of money to plus tickets to Euro 2012, etc. Sorry folks.
I did spend some time with a nice English gentleman (well not quite a gentleman given his intake that evening) who was going on about how he expected his team to lose. I told him the score would be 4-0 in Germany's favor at the end of the match (why 4-0? because I figured Germany could score and would have enough respect for what England could do instead of what they do do that they would want to insure/ensure their win with a few extra points). Even he, in all his "I left that uptight gray island to come party in America decades ago and have not been tempted back for a moment"-ness(?), he still took a bit of offence to that one. Well, England did score once, proving me wrong, and perhaps the disallowed goal would have made some sort of difference for them. I doubt I could truly know that having seen the match. That being said, the result is not surprising.
As for Argentina's win, I don't know anything about that other than my lack of surprise.
I will not be able to watch tomorrows matches at all. I will return with the third and final part of this trology to try and offer some uninformed thoughts on the quarterfinals and perhaps some (un)funny commentary as well.


R O 16 P1

This is my first time posting drunk, as opposed to soberly posting something I had written drunk and not posted. What could I do? I don't own a TV and, while I was willing to depend on the kindness of strangers for free streams of earlier matches, this is knockout time... I was at a bar from 10am to around 5pm without working there so a few beers were inevitable. I did NOT start drinking at 10am though!

The South Koreans played valiantly against a larger and more physical team. I was impressed with the way they handled the ball, and I think that, had they survived, they would have played, at the very least, an admirable match against their next opponent.

A few random writers I have read have predicted that Asian teams would become more dominant in the future, but I am still not quite convinced. Being, unfortunately, a casual observer of soccer, a person who only makes the extra effort during international tournaments, I wonder how much impact the general level of play evident in a conference matters. My hypothesis, not belief, is that European and South American teams are always a bit more ready for the World Cup because the general level of play at the intra-conference tournaments (Euro, Copa) is probably higher.

As for Uruguay, well, as I said to the only other patron who showed up for the earlier match, the game was a win-win for me: I like South Korea's pluckiness, but also Forlan. That being said, I found it quite condescending how Uruguay acted as if their one-goal lead was greater than it was. That kind of laziness this far into the tournament is unwarranted, ESPECIALLY as they let South Korea have the ball for most of the game. If you are going to run out the clock, do it on your possession. If Uruguay does the same thing against Ghana, I expect them to suffer as Ghana adds their size and physicality to the speed they share with South Korea.

As for the second game today, well, team USA almost convinced me to cheer for them. Ghana played an excellent first half, and moved the ball as well as any team I have seen recently. They passed to where the recipient was going instead of to where he already was. They did not play as well during the second half, but I still don't think the United States was quite playing the best soccer possible. If football were football, I can't help but think that team USA is a team that has a good quarterback and a few good wide receivers. Those are, of course, good things to have, but without a good ground game (ie ability to maintain control, ability to run time and control the pace of the game), things get a bit predictable and propositions become a bit too all-or-nothing. America can score when the opposing defense makes mistakes or shows weakness. The best teams can score, period. You can't win the World Cup waiting for the ball to bounce off the goalie's gloves. Or rather, you can win with that happening but that can't be your strategy!

I may post in detail about the experience of watching the games today when I sober up. Suffice it to say it was weird spending time with all of the fair-weather fans who haven't paid much attention to soccer since they were little. Message: as much as you wanted Team USA to justify the 15 minutes you spent in the bathroom mirror putting on face paint, a 5 mph dribbler towards the goalie with no other players within twenty feet is not a "chance" unless you are watching a bunch of toddlers play. Just FYI, you know?

Now that America is out I should have no problem getting a seat for tomorrows matches. See you after those.

Edit: It is the silliness of this (see the bottom) (via) that makes me think my hypothesis above might have some merit. What would the USA gain by not going to Copa? The need to practice alone more? That doesn't make any sense. I used to play a bit of basketball when I was a kid. I could shoot very accurately from long distances. If basketball didn't involve another team trying to take the ball from me, thus depriving me of infinite time and concentration, I would have gotten a scholarship somewhere I am sure! Do they not want to sustain injuries? Would a tournament be a distraction? Man, this sports thing sounds like a hassle!


World Cup Personal Progress

Eh so I haven't gotten to see as many games as I expected. What kind of country is this where people have to go to work when there is a World Cup being played?
1. I didn't get to see any Eastern European teams play, but from the results, none of them seemed to be the passionate young usptarts able to sneak their way into the quarterfinals that I was looking for. Oh well. Is Ghana any good? I hate to conflate the incredible diversity of an entire continent, and I have no idea what people in Ghana think of South Africans, or vice versa, but an African team made it into the knockout stage of the first tournament held in Africa, so I will cheer for them in the place of South Africa. Sorry USA.
2. Still haven't seen my favorite European team, the Netherlands, at all, so I have no idea if they are coasting through a relatively easy Group (seems that way) or are playing excellent football/soccer, or both. I probably won't get to see them play in the next round either.
3. US won a group, huh. England is lucky they didn't have a second-tier South American team to contend with.
I am really looking forward to this weekend and catching back up with all of this. And drinking at 10am.
Edit: Looks like I missed an exciting match. This is why I need to watch most of the games at Euro 2012. If Slovakia could beat Italy, was their tie to New Zealand a fluke? Should I get excited? I'll see I hope...


Just the worst...

He actually gets paid to write this shit. I have re-written this post thirty times now and can still not capture my anger. Here are the highlights of all the deleted posts:
1. ...like arguing with a kid who believes in Santa Claus...
2. ...does he really believe that since the majority of people believe in less government intervention there actually should have been less oversight of BP before the spill, and less intervention now? Is he planning on cleaning that shit himself?
3. ...in other (1939) news, a majority of Germans blame the Jews for the current economic crisis...
4. ..."Moderate suburban voters do not see the world as liberals do" because of bullshit columns like this that elevate the whims of selfish people to a political philosphy.
5. ...Brooks imagines this "left-wing philogist" as asking Mephistopheles for bad things to happen because he can't imagine anyone could exist outside of a cynical poltical system where it is good for bad things to happen to good people if it advances your idelogical cause.


Another obvious one

Remember when Obama's "great speaking abilities" were the gleam in the media's eye?
Obama is either the end or the beginning. Running for President and being President are two different things and this presidency shows perhaps the greatest gulf between the two ever. For all of GWB LLCs "compassionate conservatism" morphing into "I really don't give a fuck conservatism" sometime around January 2001, that doesn't really compare to the "second coming of Che Guevara"-style imagery of Obama's campaign (HOPE - CHANGE - WHOLE FOODS) and the caution that has followed. I have issues with pragmatism as a day-to-day way of living. To conflate the way things are with what is natural and then make choices within that very limited context, to not take any risks or dare to imagine profound change, has always struck me as a bit irresponsible, even if the goal of pragmatism itself is responsibility. But I digress. It is one thing to want all the facts to be in before making a decision, quite another to act as if one could not know something about a situation at all before beginning the collection of evidence, to not only ignore instinct, experience, whatever, but to actually pretend that it doesn't exist. Ideology and idea sound more similar than they are. But I am still digressing. Will Obama herald a new age of people so well trained to become President that they can't be one? Or will people look for something else?
My pragmatic answer is that so few people truly feel that this disconnect exists that, well, neither. ;-)

It's The Same Old Story, All Love and Glory...

(More World Cup this weekend I hope - haven't seen a game since my last post!)
So first off, great writers are great editors (or at least have them), and since I am certainly not the latter, I will be never be the former. Instead of letting the prospect of writing cause me anxiety, I am just going to write. That may mean more activity here. Yay. Or it may not.
Just like my compatriot, I am a bit sad from writing the same shit over and over again. It may not appear that I am doing this to you (or it may!) because I have deleted a million drafts of Typical Leftist Blogger Palaver on the typical subjects, all reading something like this:
Surprise, surprise, Obama is not a leftist. Who could have anticipated that? In other news, Democrats are hypocrites, doing the same things the Republicans did when they were in power, only not always as well (except for fundraising two years ago! Democrats in moneyloving shocker!). Who woulda thunk it?
No point in finishing half of these "essays", really. At best they come off like poking a blind man in the eye, at worst, boring, self-aggrandizing bullshit easily summarized as: hey you liberals you aren't that Left, you know. You are not harDCore like me, not at all. Blah.
I watched a documentary on Chomsky (Manufacturing Consent) recently and that feeling of being one of many grooves in a skipping record became even more overwhelming. When will things change substantially enough to require the development of a completely new critique?
News Flash: America kills innocent people with its bombs and justifies this with the complaint that the people it was trying to kill were doing the same thing or going to do the same thing (Bush Doctrine [great name for a political porn? Has someone already said that?]).
For those of you with the same malaise, ie the Left has been the same Left for too long, I propose you answer this question as a challenge so that now you may have something to write about: when do you think that being Left became a reactionary position instead of a progressive one? When did humanism and the dream of collective action become something that happened instead of something that would?
Please answer freely, and you are welcome to reject the question entirely as a means of answering. Here are a few themes:
1. The tension between horror and fascination that lies at the heart of the experience of modernization, industrialization and standardization. The weird beauty of the glow of missiles in
night vision.
2. Is the fight against oppression by oppressed groups about ending oppression or opening up the position of oppressor to more people?
3. The 70s as the reconciliation of 50s consumer capitalism and the 60s desire for intense personal experiences.
4. The collapse of the gold standard.
5. Bush I and "New World Order", aka "The End of History".
6. Clinton ("triangle of love/you gotta be careful how you start/don't be in a rush to play your part")
7. Bush II: the Murmuring.
I guess even this shit has been written about a lot; I invite personal accounts, not historical narrative. My quick "answer":
I guess I have seen these themes pop up in their own ways for quite some time, but I felt like everything really came together for me sometime in 2003 in the run up to the Iraq war. Compared to the broad, sweeping, dystopian vision of the Bush/Cheney administration, the typical liberal complaint seemed so trite, so boring (maybe it is the switch from a Left vision of empowering and fighting for rights to one of the defense of victims that has taken so much energy out of the cause). Not that I ever agreed with BC (apt) but they were certainly looking into the future and, all of a sudden, I felt I couldn't...
(and that whole liberal complaint of Republicans wanting to reenact the 50s are missing the point - the only way these sweeping visions of the future can truly be enacted is with the "50s-style" unquestioning loyalty of the people)
(but wait! fascism happens now and happened in the past? why is it easier to see the New World Order in terms of the future but not the Revolution? It's a trick. I need to read that book by Derrida that's lying around somewhere.)
A bad non-poem I thought up while getting lunch (told u ii need an eDitor):
Title of many overwrought whines = America
The thing about prison is that it's clean
Locked up twenty three hours a day
but the fresh concrete keeps the cockroach away
I guess it's better than China


England Vs. England

No the title is not a typo. Not that the USA played badly at all, with goalkeeper Howard especially epitomizing the doggedness of the US team, but, really, how many times can a team have an opportunity to score and not quite do it? England says a lot. England says very many.

I am still waiting for Rooney to show me why everyone cares about him. I guess it is just a perspectival trick; I haven't seen any of the international games in which he has scored a goal. It must happen once in a while though.

More thoughts:
The US seems to give the ball up too often. Kicking the ball all the way to the other side of the field for lack of a better option is a bit of a waste at the high school level, and dangerous at the international level. This is the sort of stuff that makes it hard for me to excited. Being so disconnected from soccer, I rarely pick a team a priori to root for but more than sheer dominance or excitement, what draws me to a team is the display of the subtle mix of passion, intelligence, risk-taking and hustle that makes soccer so exciting to watch. The goalie rolling the ball the a defensive player to start a well-orchestrated attack involving ground passes from line to line, from near side to far side culminating in a great cross is exciting while the goalie punting the ball to opposing goalkeeper is not.

As for England, I don't know enough of the mentality of the players to know what advice to offer them. I am, as you can all guess, a bit negative by nature, and I would be disheartened, not energized, by so many near misses, so if I were England, or rather if England were I, I would try and pick my opportunities more carefully for attack and spend more time in the midfield looking for them. Their mileage may vary.

Midday Update

So I won't actually be able to watch the World Cup every day but I am having some fun adding my thoughts here. The same reason I was able to watch matches yesterday, upper respiratory infection, is the same reason I slept through the two matches this morning. USA vs. England is just about to start and I will provide my summary later. I am excited for this one, just to see a) if England is going to be any good (well, they are always good, but really they should win a major championship and they haven't in a while) and b) if I have been unfair and unkind to the USA.

As for the earlier matches, no true surprises. Greece's win at the 2004 Euros seems more and more a fluke as the years go by and Argentina should have won and did.


Uruguay Vs. France

Whoa that was a great game for South Africa!

As for the actual participants, as the commentator of whatever UK satellite network I was illicitly connected to via the magic of the internet said "Does anyone want to win this game?". 75 minutes in and there was not much of an answer to that question. I got the impression France had the ball a lot more during the first half, but never quite maintained pressure, which made for a fairly boring half. The second half picked up slowly and then more quickly in the last 15 minutes of regular time, as substitutions were made towards the end of, you know, actually winning, but a late red card finished Uruguay off and gave us the opportunity to see France actually caring, which looked slightly more frenetic than when they didn't with about the same results.

I now feel a little more ambivalent about which team South Africa has to beat to advance. The average play of the French team was higher than that of Uruguay, but they didn't quite seem to have the necessary conviction. Uruguay showed more promise when it wanted to compared to France, but a bit of complacency towards the beginning. My pointless, barely-informed guess is that an early goal by South Africa would do more against France than Uruguay, but who knows...

So far, the officiating has been impressive and I hope the high standards of these first matches will be maintained.

Mexico vs. South Africa

A somewhat satisfying game, but I am a bit worried for South Africa's chances to get out of the group. Without trying to fathom the scoring system right now, my best guess is that they have to beat Uruguay and then hold France to a draw - we will see if that is enough...

Congratulations to them on the first goal of the tournament...

World Cup 2010 - Just my musings

I love watching soccer/football at the International level and the World Cup and Euros are always one of the highlights of the years ending in an even number. Since I don't follow league soccer it is always a bit of a surprise as to who is good is who isn't. But I still have my favorites, based on past experience (and since I really only pay attention every few years all you pros out there are welcome to correct me but no point in being uncivil about it!):

1. I always root for the home team if they have yet to win the World Cup. Except for team USA.

2. There is always an upstart, passionate Eastern European team that makes it to the round of 16 or the quarterfinals (but unfortunately not any further) and I always root for them as well.

3. The Netherlands is my favorite Western team. Last time I watched them play a few years ago, I felt they had a good mixture of attacking and defensive strategies always executed with intelligence and good sportsmanship. Germany is always too cautious to really be exciting, and Italy a little too, well, they are good actors and they are a hard team to cheer for if you are cheering for other teams because they put their desire to win above all moral considerations. Brazil's dominance may be boring (ironic as their attacks are so exciting) but, even though I never cheer for them, I rarely feel like there is something sketchy about their victories.

4. Why no USA? I could give you a bunch of boring Left-ish reasons, or just complain that we win everything else, which is boring to me, but really, at least a few years ago, they seemed like a bunch of ball-followers. Go watch a bunch of American kids play soccer and they all run after ball, not realizing that since they are all on the ball, if someone on their team wins the ball, that person will have nobody to pass to as all of their teammates, as well as the entire opposing team, will all be in a jumble between 10 and 1 feet away from them. Consequently, the person with the ball will try and fight their way through this morass and either make a solo run on goal, liable to fail unless the goalie is no good, or they will lose the ball and the pile-up will stretch to indeterminacy until a defensive player clears the ball halfway across the field straight to the opposing goalie. The few moments that the goalkeeper holds on to the ball will provide the players the opportunity to spread out again back to their initial positions but as soon as the goalkeeper puts the ball back into play, things start to fall apart again. I was never great at soccer, but I did do well at my level. When I played forward, I understood it to be a good idea to simply not be around all of the other players, and when I played mid, it understood it to be a good idea to PASS the ball to anyone who was smart enough to not be around the other players. Anyways, as great as the strides the American teams have made over the years, I still can't help but feel that there is still that 1% or 2%o of their "DNA" that still doesn't always quite get this, and so when they run into a team that prides itself on having absolute control of pace of the game, whether fast or slow, Team USA ends up tiring themselves out chasing the ball around, instead of letting the more conservative, slow-paced teams pass the ball around pointlessly or working on trapping more aggressive teams offsides. Many of the other mediocre clubs that win as often as the USA are playing good strategies with inexperienced players, whereas I still don't quite feel that the US has a coherent character yet that allows the decision-making process of its quite-talented players to be automatic.

Good luck to all teams and all players!

Edit: I can't be completely un-gracious. Please tell me I am wrong about the USA 'cause I haven't seen the national team play for four years. They are nice enough to go out there and represent this country for better or worse so thanks guys and good luck.

Also, what I love about this - I am watching right now a stream from a TV network in India while listening to audio from BBC Radio 5. Other tournaments have seen me watching and listening to other random combinations such as this and always seeing and/or hearing something completely unexpected...


It's Just My Job Folks

I wish I could tell you that, after a long, hard day of staring at the computer doing pointless busywork, that all I wanted to do when I got home was to create music or share ideas via this website but that is not the case. I just want to relax and survive. This is the meaning of wage slavery. You academics out there could discuss how I am renting myself towards the enrichment of others, how I never earn the value I create for my company, but that is besides the point, mere Marxist blah blah blah. The slavery is what I impose on myself. My exhaustion. My unwillingness to pour every moment into plotting my escape.

I don't even come home and dig for exciting new music. Is ground being broken out there? I have no idea! All I know is that song below is beautiful and is all I need. You fuckers out there who think art has to be challenging, contemporary, or futuristic or even a unique twist on the past can all go fuck off. I am a prole and I demand ease!

(NB this entire "essay" is a lie towards justifying this video. no it is not. or some of it. enjoy.)
(btw wtf is up with the scantily-clad dancers? it's like they had to include them because it is a house music video. i can't imagine a song that makes me think about fucking less than this one except for any song having to do with death, genocide, or baseball)