Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Word Problems

Here in barren California, we have a push. The tax benefit from the federal stimulus package is about equal to the new (regressive) taxes being levied by our great state to dig themselves out of a $42 billion dollar budget hole. Our forced donations are coupled with massive cuts to schools, among other things. Nice job. The company where I've been employed for more than 11 years is in Bankruptcy (not because of the economy, as they like to say, but because of their idiotic, leveraged deal that saddled the company with $9 Billion, with a 'B,' in debt) and laying off people by the bucket load. I live in an absurdly over-priced apartment, for the location, which is less my fault than it is the fact the area's apartments are all owned by the same company, constituting a near-monopoly, but hey! my pad is only 50 miles away from my job, a job I get to via mass transit for the low, low price of $300 per month. I can't move because AJ is here. And by "here," I mean a city with a total dearth of white collar jobs. X won't move, because The Douchebag is "established" here, which is a curious word, considering he was a 35-year-old man living with his Mommy before X took him in and for the fact he's "established" himself 1300 miles from his own children.

What circle of Hell am I currently in? Please show your work.

Friday, February 13, 2009


Dreary week here in the desert. Dreary all over, I suppose, with the economy and a rather rapid return to Politics as Usual. So much for Coming Together. I hate all of you and you're still bad at your jobs.

As such, I'm going to implement some legislation. Get involved. Make people's lives better.

One, the new limit for trying to pay with exact change is 36 cents. Anything over than that and you must use green. My burrito is getting cold while you try to dig up 58 cents. That's 6 coins. Six! Too many. A-holes.

Two, anyone who gets on the subway and immediately stops once inside the door, thereby blocking anyone behind them from entering, gets a kick in their bad knee. You people are a menace. These are the type of folks who would lead a group of people into a movie theater row and take the aisle seat so everyone else has to edge by them. They are noticeable not only by their behavior, but their bad haircuts and musty odor. If you see one, go for the bad knee.

Three, if you were an asshole to me when I was 13, don't add me as a friend on Facebook. I'm going to forever operate under the assumption you're still an asshole.

Speaking of Facebook, there's lately been a rush of childhood acquaintances to my page, which is 95% awesome. In fact, I'm planning on creating a Group on there called, "Girls I Kissed Before I Hit Puberty." We're only waiting on you, Jina Lanum.

Finally, just to reiterate,

Suck It, Mexico.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Wednesday Highlights

A couple funnies from last night. Since the US-Mexico game started at 4 p.m. local time, I started drinking at 4 p.m. local time, which made it perfectly logical that I'd play The Mookie. Which started at 7 p.m. local time. My state did not miss the host,

JoeSpeaker was buzzed and opening a lot of pots...

Guilty. I finished 5th. Some 6 hours after my first beer. Like I'm going to be able to read limping aces at that point.

In the meantime, I was cybering (platonically) with drizz and telling him about the Proper Football game, which he didn't get to see.

JoeSpeaker: 2-0 to the US. Coach's kid scored both goals.
drizz: Did his Mom bring orange slices?

Otra Vez

So...I'm amusing myself this morning reading the Spanish language newspapers for their take on last night's US-Mexico tilt, yet another drubbing by the Stars and Stripes. 2-0. Again. I don't speak a whole lot of Spanish, but can fake my way through most of it. What I can't grasp, I run through Babelfish, which, as anyone who has used Babelfish knows, is awesome in its consistent silliness. I give you the lede of a La Opinion article, run through two different translations:

Total loss. That is the balance. Red balance. Themselves does not treat only of the rout, neither of the three points that were an illusion for gullible.

Total loss. That is the balance. Balance red. It is not just the defeat, nor the three points were a mirage for dreamers.

"Total loss" is correct. "Balance," I think, is more properly "problems" ("red" refers to, of course, Rafa Marquez's sending off; that guy has serious problems for someone of such prodigious talent). The second translation has the fourth sentence about right, but I prefer "illusion for the gullible." Must be the writer in me.


The US were dominant in the first 45 with the wind at their back. Confident, composed. Bradley sent out a positive lineup, using Sacha Kljestan in the center of the park, instead of the more defensive-minded Ricardo Clark, eschewing his usual 4-5-1 (or 4-4-1-1) with two holding mids. Kljestan's relative inexperience didn't show, though he was never a real threat going forward, he and Michael Bradley did an effective job of disjointing the Mexican midfield and getting forward. Mexico were clearly wary of the speed of Donovan and Beasley, which allowed for space stepping in behind those players when they made runs. While the Nats didn't take great advantage of that, it's a trend that should pay dividends down the line as this group moves forward.

Sadly, all that good work went to crap in the 2nd half when the US took their foot off the pedal. It may have been the soggy conditions, some out-of-season players lacking full fitness, being against the strong winds. Or parts of all three. Regardless, with a one-goal lead, with the goal coming at a momentum-changing time right before half, the home side should have stormed out of the tunnel and continued to impose their will. They did not. They sat deeper, instead of challegning in midfield, the very tactic that had served them so well in the first 45. Even when Marquez was dismissed (at first, I didn't think it was a red, but the replay clearly showed he led with his studs, a karate kick to Howard's knee that Roy Keane can appreciate), the US played passively. That might be a useful skill on the road, but, at home, you're playing with fire.

Still, they got the result. Mexico were poor in nearly every aspect of the game. Eriksson has them playing a conservative brand of futbol and that's never been their style. It's a poor fit. Their "flair" players, Nery Castillo, Gio, were reduced to playing one-on-one due to lack of support, due to the defensive mind-set of the Mexican midfield. Yes, they were short-handed, missing Guardado, who terrorizes the US and Torrado, the rock in midfield. But it's hard to imagine them flourishing in the Swede's set-up.

Going forward, the US has to be more cynical, adopt some swagger and killer instinct. The team, as comprised last night, won't scare anyone in the World Cup final round, but some pieces are in place for improvement. Bradley the Younger was a revelation, aside from the two goals. Kljestan provides some color to go along with Beasley (surprising strong last night considering his lack of playing time at Rangers) and Donovan. Pearce was strong at left back and Hejduk was equally impressive on the right. Clint Dempsey seems to disappear at times and, like my friend Jorginho says, he gets frustrated by poor service and his body language is obvious. But he seemed to work hard last night.

With a clogged fixture list this summer (Gold Cup and Confederations Cup in addition to qualifying), players currently outside the Starting XI should get lots of opportunities to state their case for inclusion. Jozy, Marvell Wynne, Jose F. Torres, Jonathan Spector, Gabriel Ferrari, Danny Szetela and, I suppose, the erstwhile Freddy Adu. Some of those guys are more creative than what we've currently got and I think "creative" is what we need more of. Steel and industry, on the other hand, is not in short supply.