Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Road to Brazil 2014

World Cup qualification continued in the Asian zone yesterday with the first leg of several home-and-away playoffs taking place between a whole bunch of nations that have virtually no chance of making the finals.

Most of the matches were fairly close with Malaysia and Nepal earning 2-1 victories over Chinese Taipei and Timor-Leste, respectively.

Palestine defeated Afghanistan 2-0 away, giving them an excellent chance to advance to the second round.

The Philippines only managed a 1-1 draw against Sri Lanka, who struck first in the 43rd minute. The equalizer was scored by American Nate Burkey early in the second half.

Vietnam exacted a punishing 6-0 victory over lowly Macau.

Pakistan lost 0-3 to Bangladesh and Cambodia won 4-2 over Laos.

Finally, Mongolia edged Myanmar 1-0.

The second legs will be played on 2 and 3 July with the aggregate winners advancing to play a bunch of other Asian teams that will not make it to the World Cup in 2014.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Indie Classic Movie Review: El mariachi

Watching El mariachi again makes me wistful for the indie film movement of the early ‘90s, when directors like Robert Rodriguez burst onto the scene by going out and making cheap films and getting noticed by studios. The story of his first feature is the stuff of indie legend: he wrote, directed and edited the film on a budget of $7,000 and then shopped it around until it was picked up for distribution by Columbia Pictures. Rodriguez’s gift is stretching his budget and making it look like double (or more) on screen. Yes, El mariachi looks low-budget, but it looks like a hell of a lot more than 7K.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sorry for the wait...

I've been quite busy in recent weeks finishing up a project and preparing for the big move from Europe back to the US. Taking care of a baby also takes a fair amount of my time. Also it's regularly about 100 degrees F (38 C) during the day here in Seville now and my apartment feels like it's that temperature even at 3am. I can't think straight long enough to actually write anything that makes sense.

New reviews are coming, I promise. I just need to work up the will and sit in the air conditioned bedroom perhaps.

I'm also working on adding a new feature to the blog which will happen about twice a month (I hope) and hopefully draw some new readers in addition to providing me with personal growth. Hopefully the first entry will be up in the first week of July.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Belize Status Up in the Air

So after I posted about the big barnstormer Belize vs. Montserrat, I waited with anticipation the follow-up leg. But the Belize National Team has been suspended for governmental interference. The second leg was postponed. No determination has yet been made as to whether the match will be rescheduled. If it is, it must be played before 10 July.

We wait.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Resignation Speech I Wish Weiner Had Made

"In light of the absurd level of interest in the unfortunate incident involving my personal life online, I have decided to resign my office in the House of Representatives.

I would like every one of my constituents to know that I am resigning not because I believe I have done anything illegal, unethical or in breach of my contract with you, the people, but because the behavior of the media and my fellow Representatives, many of them members of my own party, has made it impossible for me to conduct business as usual.

What I did was wrong. However, my transgression is a personal one that concerns my wife and me. It is not the business of the public or my colleagues and I think it is shameful that they, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, engaged in such public condemnation of my character and actions, calling for my resignation from the outset.

It is these things that allow the public to be distracted from the very real business of running the country. And every time the media and other politicians make a big deal of it, it makes it all the more likely these minor scandals will continue to stall politics when they occur in the future.

Once in the very recent past, a President was impeached over matters relating to a sex scandal. It's unfortunate I should have to bring up that sad incident in our history, but I recall that many of the people currently working in Congress labeled those proceedings a witch hunt. What does it say about the state of our prurient interests that some of those same people have forced me into this position today?

I leave my office with a heavy heart, for how will we differentiate the politicians who commit genuine misconduct or real crimes from those who have simply exercised poor judgment?"

I would have cheered a resignation speech of that nature, excoriating the attitudes that fostered this event. Of course it would have been the end of his political career. I suppose he's still planning to run for Mayor of New York.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Prepping 2014

UPDATE: Belize took this one 5-2. That means Montserrat (an island nation lacking sufficient coastline to even run a marathon) will have to win their away leg by 4 goals or score at least 6 goals but win by a margin of 3.

Can you believe this? The first qualifier for Brazil 2014 is being played as I write. Yes, the next World Cup tournament is still 3 years away, but that's how long it takes to weed out the insignificant national sides like Montserrat and Belize, (ranked 202 and 172 in the world, respectively) who are playing each other in the first leg of a two match playoff that will see one of them as the very first team eliminated from the next World Cup (not counting Brunei, Bhutan, Guam and Mauritania, who have not entered the competition). The second leg will be played in Belize on 19 June.

By the way, this is the first of 832 qualifying matches that will be played over the course of the next 2 1/2 years.