I’m wondering if prison inmates in New Hampshire have any problems making license plates that read, “Live Free or Die”…

Another World Cup update. Apparently the Italians were upset with the U.S.’s use of war terminology when discussing their upcoming game. Oh give me a break. Welcome to the rough and tumble world of soccer *sarcasm*. Seriously… read that article. If you are a sports fan… check that… and AMERICAN sports fan, you will probably say, “yeah… and?..” Good thing the Italians don’t play in the NFL because their heads might explode. In case you haven’t noticed, many many sports terms have a war basis to them. Football has it’s “long bomb”, “shotgun”, “blitz”, “War Room” (for the draft), the “battery” (pitcher & catcher) in baseball, “Sudden Death”, “run and gun”, on and on and on… this is completely ignoring the fact that just about every athlete or coach interview is peppered with war analogies that they have become cliche. “go out there and battle”. Oh, and for the record, our friggin national anthem (played before EVERY sporting event) is about war as well. Get over it.

Man up, Italy. Pull your panties out of your ass and just play soccer. Quit crying. You’ll probably kick our ass anyway, so whats the point?

In other news, the apartment living room is nearing completion. I finally got some drapes up on the wall to cover the hideous mini-blinds. The room is really starting to come together. Now I just need a lamp to go behind the couch, some more stuff for the walls (maybe a big clock or a mirror or something), and a few more accent pieces (throw pillows, knick-knack stuff, candles, etc). I had the lady from the Merry Maids (yes, I’m getting a maid. I’m lazy. What’s it to ya?) come by yesterday to give me a quote on a bi-weekly cleaning deal, and she seemed really impressed with the apartment. She thought I had very good style, and wished her husband had the same. So I got that goin’ for me… which is nice. Maybe if I ever have a date, she’ll be impressed too…

Ok, US v. Italy is starting. Off to watch.

Another quick World Cup story

I just wanted to share this story with you people. For some reason, I just really like it.

My friend George was in Sweden in 1994 during the World Cup. One day, he was in a packed bar watching the US play on TV. Of course, he was the only American in the entire place. And, given that he was an American, he didn’t really give two shits about the World Cup. Mainly, this was just another time to be drinking. Not that George would drink or anything…

Since it was the US playing, you can pretty much guess what happened. We lost. George was most definitely ok with that, since he didn’t care in the first place. However, the entire rest of the bar didn’t share his laissez-faire attitude toward the whole thing. Upon the loss, every last person in the bar bought George a drink to console his loss. He had his entire table filled with every type of drink you could imagine. I have to believe that must have been quite a sight. Even though George is not exactly a light weight (ask him about New Years Eve, 2001) I seriously doubt he was able to put them all away. I am willing to bet, however, that he gave it a most valiant effort. George if you read this, feel free to correct any mistakes or add anything I left out. I do love that story.

That story alone makes me want to visit Sweden. Of course, the 6′ blonde women might also play a small roll in that.

In the same vein of a ‘drink covered table’ I have one other story. This was Halloween probably 1998ish. Myself, and friends Chris and John were going to a local bar for their halloween party. It was being promoted by a radio station, and thus, they were advertising $0.97 draft beers. Well, hell… you can’t beat that deal. So we costume up and head down there. We get there and get our first beers and start to have a good time. When it came time for round 2, the bartender told us, “we’re ending that promotion… it was only good until 10:00”. Astonished, but resigned to paying full price for beers, we grudgingly accepted. Except for John, that is. Being the quick-on-his-feet kinda guy that he is, he pulls out a $20 bill, slaps it on the bar and says, “It’s 4 minutes til 10… give me 20.” The bartender looks a little caught off guard. He turns to his manager, who replies, “the man ordered them… serve them up.” So John, Chris, and myself start a fire-brigade style line to move these 20 beers from the bar to our parking lot… er… table. I do love that mental image of all those beers lined up on the table. We proceeded to drink those for the rest of the night. Sure, they got a little warm, but hell… once you get 3 or 4 drafts in, you really don’t care anymore.

A tremendous night all the way around. By the way, my costume was ‘windblown man’. I had an overcoat that mom sewed a wire hanger in the hem to make it fly away from my body. I put a hanger in a tie, and had it flinging back over my shoulder. I taped various leaves, newspaper bits, and various other trash type items to my coat, and pants. One of my greatest costumes ever.

World Cup… Game On

World Cup has started. I sat down and actually watched my first ‘match’ (see… I even know the lingo) on Saturday. I gotta say, soccer in High Def is very nice to watch. Then, I flipped to regular def and the game looked like I was watching it though a mud puddle. Man, I cannot wait for more High Def programming.

Anyway, I was watching Sweden vs. Trinidad & Tobago. I have to admit that I enjoyed it. However, I did have 2 major problems with ABC’s coverage of the game. Technically, they did a good job. Lots of cameras, good replays, high def (like I mentioned) but they really screwed the pooch in two places.

First, one of the teams involved in this game was Sweden. Half of the stadium was completely decked out in yellow and blue (Swedish flag colors). Unfortunately, ABC did not spend the stoppages in play showing us audience shots of 6 foot blonde Swedish goddesses cheering on their team. This is unconscionable. Isn’t that the whole reason the rest of the world watches Sweden do anything? If Sweden has an advantage in any department, its gotta be in 6 foot blonde goddesses. How you cannot spare the camera time and give the fans at home a little taste of what its like at the World Cup, is just irresponsible.

My second major problem came with the announcing team. Now, they knew the game. They could describe what was happening and explain why certain things were going on. That’s all well and good. But, to me, you absolutely cannot have 2 American guys covering soccer on TV. How they could not have brought in some guy with an Irish, Scottish, or English accent for at least one of the positions in the broadcast team is just plain wrong. I watch soccer once every 4 years. Nobody gives a damn about the MLS (Major League Soccer in the US). If I see any soccer on TV, 100% of the time, the announcing team comes from a country that actually cares about soccer. It just doesn’t sound right coming from someone without an accent. I mean, would you expect there to NOT be someone with a southern accent on a NASCAR broadcast crew? Absolutely not. Hell, I would have settled for the guy from Univision who shouts “GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL!”. At least there would be some international flavor.

I guess that entire post is a prime example of an American and soccer. The only complaints are hot blonde chicks and foreign guys.

Oh yeah… I think the game ended in tie or something. I wasn’t paying attention.

A Well Spent $47

I’ve had a decent couple days. Apart for the being awake all night Wed, but lets just pretend that didn’t happen. Beers with dad was fun Wednesday evening. It wasn’t too crazy hot outside yet, and we had a table. Those retired guys can get down to where the little festival is before the rest of us working shlubs can. I never used to go down there because standing in the sun, unable to move, holding your beer about 6 inches from your face cause that’s all the space you had. That would suck, so I never did it. However, I did notice that now that I’m single, that should be the place I hang out. Holy cow. Women all over the place. Of course, in my entire life I’ve never met a woman like that, but that’s beside the point.

Last night, I thought I would go out and watch the first game of the NBA finals. Have a beer and some dinner. Hang out. I went down to the Ha’ Penny again (see Roller Coaster). Whether anyone would be there or not, I didn’t care. I walk in and see Barry (the owner) and Coach Mac (local basketball coach). I sit with them and kinda shoot the shit a little bit and watch the beginning of the game. Had a beer. Another guy, John, (owner of the Big Easy) who is a friend of Barry and an acquaintance of mine, came by and they talked about going to get dinner. They invited me to come along, and I had originally turned them down, not wanting to feel like I was imposing. But then I realized that was stupid, and went with them. We went down to another sports pub Busters, to eat and watch the rest of the game. Had a good time. It was nice to be out with some new-old people. (if that makes sense)

A couple appetizers, 4 beers and 4 entrees later we were finishing up. Waitress comes by and I just give her my card and tell her I’ll get it. Of course, they all objected. But I held my ground and just said, “Hey guys, I’m flush now. I can get it. Who knew marriage was so expensive, huh?” Well, they were very appreciative. When I got the check, it was remarkably cheap. $47 something. Sheeeeit… that’s nothing. I don’t spend much money anymore. I’ve got well over a whole paycheck in my checking account, and payday is in 5 days again. Not to mention that there is whole other paycheck that rent will come out of (on the first). That never happened when I was married, or if it did, it was for a very short time until the recently written checks cleared. But I digress…. they thanked me profusely, “You didn’t have to do that.” etc. I guess they didn’t realize it was well worth 47 bones to me just be included with those guys.

Other thoughts.

World Cup starts today. Also starting today is the avalanche of “Soccer is loved in the rest of the world but not in the US” columns from every sports writer in America. I mean, honestly… that is the laziest topic they could possibly write about. Is there anyone on the planet that doesn’t know that already? Certainly every sports fan in America (a.k.a. the people who read said sports columns) already knows this.

However, I’m bucking the trend. I kinda like to watch soccer. But, its kinda like a slower hockey, so I can see the strategy behind it. Granted, there isn’t a ton of scoring. But, I figure as long as there are some good shots, saves, a couple yellow cards, and at least one guy who’s knocked down and spends 30 seconds rolling around holding his knee like it just exploded, and then proceeds to get up and stays in the game. Who couldn’t like that? Also, I’ve been playing a little video world cup soccer which always seems to pique my interest in something.

So, Go USA. If we get out of our group it will be a miracle.

We’re back!

I’m very excited. The United States finally has taken it to the next level. In one of the most important sporting competitions in the history of mankind, we finally have a shot. His name is Joey Chestnut. No, you haven’t heard of him. But, he could be the most significant athlete since Jesse Owens.

Now, we’ve been dominant in all kinds of different sports. Our sports leagues are generally thought to be the tops in the world (apart from soccer, but that doesn’t count). Baseball, basketball, football… well, hockey not so much… but still… you know what I’m saying.

For the record, there aren’t many of our major sports where the Japanese dominate us. Sure, there are some terrific guys in MLB, Ichiro, Matsui, Hideo Nomo. However, our washed up major league baseball players go over there to milk a few more years from their careers, as seen in the movie Mr. Baseball. (I may be the only person that saw that one.) But the American sporting scene has had no one to compete with Takeru Kobayashi. He has been dominant. World champion 5 straight years. Physically unimposing at 130 lbs. he still has ruled the roost. Untouchable.

Out of nowhere comes this 22 year old civil engineering student at San Jose State. He has made a major splash on the IFOCE circuit. He is the current holder of the American record, and he’s shooting for the world.  This upcoming competition could really be like Ali v. Frasier or Bird v. Magic all over again. Mark your calendars for July 4th. The USA is going to regain the title, and Mr. Chestnut is just the guy to take us back to glory. It is only appropriate that on Independence Day America with reign again.

Read Mr. Chestnut’s story.


The NHL tried to kill me

I’m going to take this post in a different direction from the usual. Which is probably a good thing. Some of you have heard me bitch about this, but I wanted to post it anyway.

I’m a hockey fan. Love the sport. Had Idaho Steelheads season tickets for 4 years. Watched a good 3 or 4 games a week on The Worldwide Leader (ESPN), and the nights that they didn’t have a game they still had their wrap up show, NHL2Night. My fandom peaked in 2001 when the Colorado Avalanche completed the grueling task of capturing Lord Stanley’s Cup.

Since then, like I said, the NHL and its forces are tried to kill me. First, came the entire locked out / cancelled season of 2005. No NHL. Summing that up, millionaires arguing with billionaires. Billionaires won. When they solved that thing last summer, I was very pleased. We were a few short weeks from the start of the season. I had worn out my tape of games 6 and 7 of the 2001 finals.

Then, the wheels started coming off. First, I get word that my Colorado Avalanche have moved from Fox Sports Northwest (where I used to have every game of theirs) to some channel called Altitude. No, my digital cable system doesn’t get it. I call my cable company every day for a week, and they pretty much tell me they have no plans to add it in the near future. *sigh* Ok, well surely ESPN will pick back up their rights to the NHL, right? The NHL would be crazy not to go with the most popular sports network on the planet, right? Short answer is they went to the ‘Outdoor Life Network’ OLN, which is available in a fraction of the homes that ESPN is. Sure, the NHL got more money from OLN, but you can’t tell me that the loss of exposure isn’t going to hurt them. I subscribe to every single channel my digital cable system offers, unfortunately, this means exactly squat. I won’t even go into my attempts in past years to get my cable system to carry the NHL Center Ice package… “we’re not offering it because there is not enough interest in your area…” I’ve tried every year for the past 5 to get them to offer it. No dice.
Here were my options. Option 1, NBC was going to show hockey. Great! When? Oh, 4 saturdays in January, one game a day, and then show one playoff game saturdays in April/May. Wow, I’ll try to contain my excitement.

Option 2. Go to a bar that is showing hockey and watch it there. Well, anyone who has watched a game in a bar knows it sucks. Especially hockey. You’re sitting probably 50 feet away from the tv, that the game relegated to (the smallest one in the place). You can’t even see the puck, and there is no sound. Besides, trying to find hockey on TV in a bar here is not easy.

Option 3. Dump digital cable, invest a bundle of cash, buy a satellite dish and multiple receivers with DVR’s in them, get someone to install it, and learn an all new channel lineup, all just to watch a few hockey games. Well, since I was married at the time, needless to say, the payoff wasn’t worth the investment. So that was a non-starter.

Long story longer, I have seen about a total of 9 periods of hockey this season. Total. Not even all from the same games, either. So, the playoffs started a few weeks ago, and I didn’t even have any idea who was in. I pretty much lost all connection to the sport. It gets very little coverage on SportsCenter, and you have to sit through 45 minutes of NBA highlights… Ugh. Not worth it.

I’m worried that I’m just not a hockey fan anymore. I want to be, but following the game online is not exactly optimal. I’ve read about how the game has changed with rule changes… faster, more scoring, more plays not so much clogging… I’ve yet to be able to really see it. Needless to say 2006 has not been a banner year for me so far… Sorry for the length of this.

Wake up the echos?

Got a call from best friend John (in Georgia… See below) this evening. His idea is for he and I to make a pilgrimage to South Bend and catch a Notre Dame home football game this fall. That actually sounds like a lot of fun. Their first two home games are, of course, Penn State and Michigan. You’re looking at probably a grand a ticket for those games. Maybe we’ll shoot for Stanford, Purdue or Air Force. Probably not as in demand. Of course, I told John that they play USC on the weekend of my birthday… rematch of their absolutely classic game from last season… Of course, to get tickets to that, you have to sell your soul to the devil. (which just might be worth it.)

Anyway, its nice to have something to look forward to. I just hope our trip doesn’t coincide with a home Boise State game… I have a hard time missing those for anything seeing as I haven’t missed a home game in 13 years and all.

That might be a real good time. I hope it comes off.

John and I in Vegas, June 2000