Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The music continues

I figure it's time to move my blogging activities to my hosted server. If you'd like to keep playing, move on over to infiniteDeferral.

See you there!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Please stand by

So I got this email from Haloscan, telling me I have to upgrade to their newer commenting system for an annual fee, or I lose the entire system, as well as the entire history of comments for this blog.

Fair enough. Goodbye.

With that, I'm going to officially step away from blogging, at least until I figure out what I actually want to do with a blog (I never got into it, to be honest). When I do figure it out, I will use this space. But for now, well, you can find me at the other usual places (or just Google me, whatever).

Til next time!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

For anyone who is wondering

One HUGE drawback about laptops is that many of the essential components are proprietary (if, say, you break the keyboard on that expensive model of yours - which I did once - that's pretty much it for you unless you feel like paying for expensive repairs and shipping to and from the in-house service center quite likely back in America), much unlike desktops where you can go to the hardware store if you feel like tinkering with the desktop computer with new and replacement parts.

Why do I mention this? Because now that I left my AC adapter in Shizuoka after giving a presentation, I'm without a home computer until my friend ships the adapter back to me this weekend. Since mine was bought in the States, I can't easily buy one in Japan, so I'll be waiting for at least a few days. upload of the cultural presentation until next week. No regular email, no bill payment, no Fish World. Wonderful.

On the other hand, it is blissfully quiet in the apartment...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Clarence from Jumpstart

I know it's just a comic strip, but his persistent materialism is really getting on my f***ing nerves.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

No. 9

Behind Landon Donovan's resurgence and the best FIFA tournament finish in US history, this was your breakout year. Rest easy and heal, for with a World Cup berth in hand, your work is done for now. We'll be thinking about you tonight and every other night.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Every heart beats true for the red, white and blue

See you in South Africa!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Five days from now

On Thursday morning, we will all wake up knowing one of two things:
  1. The United States has qualified for its sixth consecutive World Cup, or
  2. The United States has fallen to fourth place in the CONCACAF Hexagonal, meaning a home-and-home with a South American side for the 32nd and final spot in the 2010 tournament.
Take a look at the recent press and the chatter in the blogosphere. There is an air of pessimism about the national team not seen since 1989. 1994 was a lock. 1998 became business as usual. 2002 came down to Matchday 9, but everyone thought a home win against Jamaica was assured. 2006 was a walk in the park.

Those were different times. In this cycle, there are all but two games left for each of the six remaining sides in the region. Of the four nations in serious contention, the United States has the toughest schedule. Honduras will take its mind off of its political woes and play for national pride at home against the Americans. Costa Rica, the Americans' guest of honor in the capital on Matchday 10, sits in fourth and is desperate not to be left without a chair when the dance is over and music stops. Mexico, having survived their early miscues, is back in business and will easily qualify, provided El Salvador and Trinidad and Tobago don't give them too much trouble.

Looks can be deceiving. The US is at the top of the Hex after eight games. But a loss to Honduras tonight (the Hondurans are a perfect 9-0 at Estadio Olimpico in World Cup qualifying), combined with wins by Mexico and Costa Rica, will drop the Americans to third and needing not to lose to Costa Rica at Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium mid-week.

It is a perilous situation for the US, just months after a wildly successful summer in American soccer. The US had played in two consecutive cup finals, knocking off top-ranked Spain and pushing Brazil to the brink in South Africa, then taking a mostly-reserve national squad all the way to the CONCACAF championship match. Just before both those tournaments, they were perceived as a certain lock to share the region's World Cup berths with Costa Rica and Honduras while Mexico looked likely to implode from within.

Again, those were different times. Now, key players are injured, the US is playing away from home and other results don't appear to be in their favor. Take the temperature of American sentiment. It's not very encouraging.

However, there are also times of such pessimism, even in the US' recent past. Jack Edwards was exactly right after the US' 3-2 win over Portugal in 2002:
No one, not a single person, in South Korea - and we've been here for two weeks - no one has said a single word about the United States doing anything in this World Cup. (ed.: that is my best recollection of a tape I have played hundreds of times since June 5, 2002)
American fans can paint a very rosy picture about one of the biggest wins in US history up to that point. Prior to kickoff that day, I can bet money that fans all over the country were dumping bricks in their pants reading the Portugal starting lineup.

There are similar moments. Paul Caligiuri's shot against Trinidad and Tobago in 1989. The 2-1 win over Colombia in 1994. Their 1998 win over Brazil. History is littered with a mood of intense skepticism of the abilities of the United States national team in rare, crucial moments.

None of this will matter tonight. Good or bad, the slate will be wiped clean at kickoff and, again, the United States will finally have a chance to silence the doubters and prove the critics wrong. A win tonight (or a combination of unlikely results), and each of twenty-three tickets to South Africa next summer will be tucked into American passports.

Americans are used to worry and woe prior to important matches. Nothing can turn this tide except a tangible result over ninety minutes. Three points from Matchday 9 should provide sighs of relief and celebration throughout the American soccer fan base.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

All I know is this

In America, when you walk down the street, you're much more likely to meet a racist than a socialist. Perhaps the Redneck Scare is what Joe McCarthy should've been looking into.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Eight years on

Never forgive, nor forget.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

No choice

The national team travels to a place familiar to American prospects of getting to the World Cup. 1989 sounded the Shot Heart Round the World. 2005 kicked off the United States' most successful final round of qualifying, first place the Hexagonal for the first time.

A win on Matchday Eight at Hasely Crawford Stadium doesn't secure a berth. And on the current run of form, the US doesn't appear to be in danger of grabbing the top spot in CONCACAF anyways.

And an away win isn't even assured. The US has won only three times away from home in this qualification cycle, and against countries that rate even less in global recognition and reputation than the Americans, and not once in the final round. Which has little to do with the US; of 21 Hexagonal matches, the away team has won only twice.

Given the choice, the US would field an experimental lineup and look towards South Africa. But today, the US has no choice. The US sits perilously on a one-point cushion propping up second place. Fourth place in the six-team tournament faces (and with Argentina looming, may very well lose to) a South American nation for the 32nd spot in 2010. No team in CONCACAF is looking forward to that.

The United States needs this game. Confederation dark horses Costa Rica and Honduras loom in the distance of the final two matches of qualifying. Honduras leads the group. Costa Rica is in fourth and desperately wants to play hot potato with the CONCACAF-CONMEBOL playoff. And Mexico has a good chance of winning out.

If only the US had the sort of confidence to get nine out of nine possible remaining points. Certainly its supporters, by and large, do not feel any such confidence is deserved.

But this is the easiest game of the three. The last steps toward qualification must start in Trinidad and Tobago, and it must start tonight.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Matchday 7

The United States faces many parallels today as it did at this point in the Hexagonal eight years ago. The national team was riding high early on, Mexico was in shambles, then the quadrennial three-pointer in Azteca was dropped in a thorough loss away. The next game at home against Honduras would prove crucial towards cementing US hopes of World Cup qualification. This is right about where we are today.

We hope this is where the parallels stop.

The United States lost that match eight years ago, and lost again away to Costa Rica four days later. They would need help from Costa Rica on Matchday 9 in a 0-0 draw against Mexico, coupled with a US win at home despite an incompetent ref and a physical Jamaican team. The national team finished third out of six, grabbing the last qualifying spot with one game to spare, without any sort of style or finesse in the effort.

It needn't be that way again. Change RFK to Rio Tinto, D.C. to Sandy, Utah, from anti-American to (hopefully) red, white and blue in the stands.

Forget what El Salvador is capable of. Forget Arturo Alvarez. Forget about Trinidad and Tobago four days from now. If this game is the slightest bit about anything other than the United States, we lose three points. If this game is a reflection of what we achieved this summer and what can be achieved next summer in South Africa, we win. Period, end of sentence.

It must happen tonight. It will happen tonight.

Monday, August 31, 2009

ABMOD for permanent head coach

Go ahead and call for a foreign coach, they haven't had much success in MLS this decade. If you want someone who knows the system inside and out (and Lord knows New York needs one), you don't hire a guy with no MLS experience (Westerhof for Chivas, Gullit for LA) or someone with a big ego (pre-deflated Arena). You go with the guy who just works hard and expects his men to put in ninety minutes every game. We thought that was Osorio. We hope that's Richie Williams.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A little rant about poetry and writing

Back when I was putting all my writings on Elfwood, I used to comment about the "poetry" on that website and the lack of any sort of quality put into it. That was ten years ago and I'm older now, but I don't think my opinion has changed one bit.

I'm reminded about this from listening to last week's Prairie Home Companion, a clip show dedicated to poetry. There is a rhythm and a pattern to poetry. Sometimes it rhymes, and nine times out of ten it should have some sort of sound that appeals to the senses. Even prose has a flow that readers find appealing. It's OK to free verse, to stream of consciousness, but there must be an actual reason that has very little to do with laziness. And as a teacher now, I have spent years tuning my radar to laziness.

What does this mean? Go to the major creative websites these days: Elfwood, FictionPress, DeviantArt. The poetry there sucks. It SUCKS. It totally, absolutely...SUCKS.

If you're the writer, your response will typically be, "If you don't like it, don't read it." How selfish and petty of you, I say. You think I read your writings to stroke your ego and make you feel important? Don't flatter yourself. Quite frankly, you are here for my entertainment and the entertainment of others. If you waste my time, you will hear from me. Rowling got it, which is why, despite Harry Potter being elevated to quasi-able-to-be-used-in-AP-English-Literature-essays, the author made a TON of money off of the series and garnered a ****load of accolades the world over. Controversial and dark or otherwise, Harry Potter got the audience's attention and kept it these past few years.

Here's my point: if you can't do that, if you can't get my attention or anyone else's attention and keep it, you don't deserve to be called a writer.

You are writing for us. You are not writing for yourself. The creation of literature, amateur or professional or epic, is not about you. I don't begrudge anyone's talent for self-expression (or else I wouldn't be blogging away), don't get me wrong, but self-expression that sees the light of day must always be subject to how it is received by others. If you think otherwise, shove all of your writings into your drawer and lock them away. Please don't upload them onto the Internet and invite my criticism or others.

But if you are brave enough to have your works judged and to accept the collective judgment of all of your readers, then by all means, write away.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The New York Red Bulls suck

That's my analysis.