30 June 2006

this is a call

I'll have 2 guests tonight at about 11:30 PM, and I'm wondering where we should go to eat... any suggestions?

the tour de effed

Is that how you'd spell F'd? Effed? Anyway...

Today came the news that both Ivan Basso and Jan Ullrich have both been banned from the Tour De France. It's horrible news because both fellas were favorites, and also because the sport of cycling is becoming a parade of allegation after allegation, and that just ruins the fun. Legalize everything, I guess. While I'm not the hugest fan of the sport, I do enjoy the tour quite a bit, and was hoping to see a very strong Basso this year. I've been known to ride in his teams' shorts.

In other exciting cycling news, I got another pinch flat on the way to work this morning. Apparently I should be running wider and/or more expensive tires. Or I should learn how to install innertubes. I managed to get it changed out in roughly 7 hours time and proceeded on to work, where I now sit.

I'd like to see George Hincapie win the tour, in case you're wondering. I'd like to see Scott Speed place at the USGP this weekend, and I'd like to see Italy lose as soon as possible in the World Cup.

Posts like these are why people shouldn't write blogs. But anyway..

29 June 2006

someday i'm going to write an entry about how i look like a different person in every picture that is taken of me. at least i think so. this is my reminder.

real salt lake at chicago fire

John and I began our trip to Chicago at 12:30 PM Eastern yesterday for reasons I can't quite explain; The game wasn't due to start until 9 PM ET, and it's only a 3-4 hour drive up to Bridgeview. Of course we hit the always present I-80/I-94 traffic and that slowed up down, but not nearly enough to make leaving eight and a half hours early make sense.

Steve Pastorino had told me that he would be spending the afternoon at the Chicago Cubs game and to expect him at Bridgeview Stadium/Toyota Park at 6 PM. My tickets would be available at Will Call.

After taking a full tour of Harlem Avenue we made our way back to the stadium and to the will call window, where the lovely clerk told me that she had no tickets for me, and to check back a half hour before game time. We killed a little time in conversation with a very cordial gentleman who worked in marketing for the Fire, and then after a little while checked the window again (no tickets). I then gave Steve a call and he explained that he'd be right out with our tickets.

We quickly met Steve, and he explained that he'd meet back up with us later. Toyota Park is a very nice and well thought out stadium (with a much more substantial and permanent feeling building than Columbus' Crew Stadium*) that reminded me of Indianapolis' Victory Field (it was probably the use brick). The public address system is a little loud. The video screen at the south end of the stadium is fantastic, the field looked perfect, but there is a need for a timeclock on the west side of the stadium.

As it turns out, we were sitting with Steve and his family, and we were introduced to former US National Team and 1994 World Cup veteran Frank Klopas*, who was sitting in the row in front of us. As the game began I asked Steve where Eddie Pope was and was given an interesting explanation on the ongoing status of Eddie. The game settled in with Steve and Frank having conversations about various players on the pitch. Mr. Klopas is very passionate about the game and the way it should be played, and was very insightful and talkative about what he thought should be happening on the field. It was fantastic to watch the game with the insight of a former player, and it was easy to see that he really wanted to share his knowledge with John and myself.

Steve and I also had a few conversation on everything from the way they get the stripes in the field to the status of the new stadium in Salt Lake. Although he's the GM, watching the game I couldn't shake the feeling that he was just a fan like everyone else. During a rain delay he explained his relationship with John Ellinger, his feelings about living in Salt Lake, and talked a little bit about his time with the Fire. He was quick to point out people he had worked with before, and almost everyone on the Fire staff seemed to stop by and say hello. It all felt very much any other small people-friendly business, or even perhaps a small family.

In the end (and after the rain delay), RSL blew a goal lead and ended up losing 2-1. Steve seemed as distraught as I was, but to be honest the Chicago comeback came as no surprise; RSL had played horribly all night, and Frank had been saying all game that he couldn't imagine Chicago losing the game just because of the disjointed play of RSL.

After the game we said our goodbyes and thanked everyone. It was a very rewarding experience that I'd definitely love to do again. Steve also offered to set me up with tickets in Columbus when RSL visits there (though he won't be attending). It's another wednesday game, though, and after getting back at 4:45 AM this morning, I'll have to think it through.

* * * * *

*A Chicago Fire official has the following to say about Crew Stadium: "It's a nice building for Columbus."

*I'll admit I had no idea who Frank Klopas was, except that he was a member of the Chicago Fire "Ring of Fire" . But that was explained to us when we were introduced. How is it possible that I don't remember members of the 1994 US World Cup squad? I'll blame it on the 12 years that have passed.

27 June 2006

tomorrow, you're only a day away

Way back in 2004, I took a trip to Chicago to catch a game between the US and England. A few things stick out in my mind from that day. The first is that the England supporters totally overwhelmed and embarrassed the American supporters. It was the only time in my life I've been embarrassed into loudly singing my own national anthem. The second is that although the game was played in America at Soldier Field, the stadium was covered in England flags. The third thing that sticks out that is the Eddie Pope had a horrible game, and thus began my mixed emotions over all things Popeish.

American soccer supporters are coming along nicely; apparently they even managed to sing some lovely songs while in Germany. We're pretty good at putting our flags up, too. But one of the things I really appreciate about the English supporters is that they give their flags a little bit more personality. The English flag can be used to support not only the national team, but the club team and the hometown of the fans (or even Bob Marley lyrics). We wouldn't dream of putting all that on the American flag, it's likely someone would try to pass a law denying you that right if you did.

But we don't bother with that kind of sanctimonious malarky for our state flags, luckily enough, which is why I'll have no problems (except maybe some heckling from the locals) when I show up at tomorrow's Real Salt Lake vs Chicago Fire game carrying a flag that looks like this...

As you may recall, this all began back in April with this post where I asked all the teams in Major League Soccer to make me a fan. It took me 18 days to make my decision, and tomorrow I'll be wearing an Eddie Pope jersey (a gift) while sitting in the brand new Toyota Park (formerly Bridgeview Stadium) and meeting the GM of the team I chose, Real Salt Lake.

Everything comes full circle, I suppose. My first World Cup game was Germany/Spain in Chicago, and now my first MLS game will be in Chicago, supporting club and country with a reverence that continues to grow.

And we're going to win and on a 90th minute volley off my left foot (I'm right footed), and I'll be carried off the field by Eddie Pope and Chris Klein to the jeers of the Fire fans, but I'll be well respected around the league, and I'll make my first national team start in our first friendly after the world cup.

Well why not? Everything else has turned out better than I could have expected.

22 June 2006

well now that that's over with...

Good riddance. Maybe I'm just bitter but I really feel like they never gave it a good effort. The effort that they made against Italy should have been there every game. It's the World Cup, we don't have any "star" players, and playing half-assed just isn't going to be good enough.

And I think Landon Donovan was a joke.

I hope to see Clint Dempsey playing in England soon, preferably in a Fulham shirt. I think he understood that THIS WAS THE FREAKING WORLD CUP. I think some of the other guys forgot that.

We were just half-assed. I hate it.

It should be interesting to see what happens next. Does Bruce get the ax? Isn't it ironic that they passed on a guy that was actually scoring goals (Twellman) for a guy that didn't play anyway, and then failed to score goals? Are our MLS guys a joke? What would Eddie Johnson have done if he got more that 45 minutes?

I'm proud of Steve Cherundolo, Carlos Bocanegra (I know, right?!?)... it's a short list. Bobby Convey was ok. Brian McBride did the best he could with no service. Claudio played well (except for one mishap).

Next time the team is going to look alot different, I think. It should be an interesting four years. I'm sure we'll continue to beat up on Mexico. I'm sure our expectation will be a lot lower from here on out.

And maybe that's for the best. At least it's realistic.

* * * * *

So now I'm rooting for the Dutch, because I like Ruud Van Nistelrooy and orange jerseys. And I'm sort of rooting for England, because no matter what happens (win or lose), it's high drama, and usually a bit funny.

i linked him for a reason

Get to know the funny and interesting world of my friend Jon. There's more than one thing worthy of laughter in his post today.

Czech 1 - Italy 1
US 1 - Ghana 0
Brazil 2 - Japan 0
Australia 2 - Croatia 0

Croatia is an odd word.

I'll be at Radio Radio for the game. I'm sure I'll see someone I know there.

* * * * *

I'm going to add a current reading footnote to my posts; I encourage anyone to comment if they're familiar with anything I'm reading. My retention is horrible, so a decent conversation about a book is appreciated. It keeps my mind awake.

* * * * *

Current Reading:
The Thinking Fan's Guide to the World Cup - Various
Being Peace - Thich Nhat Hanh

Bike Mileage This Week
M - 23, T - 34, W - 40 (on target so far)

20 June 2006

who wants to know

I bet I am asked at least 12 times a day what I actually do. The truth is that I don't do much of anything. And that no one ever asks me what I do.

But if they were to ask me, I could point them here, and tell them that this is what I do. Well, part of it anyway. I also do (or did) this. I do a bit of this. Sometimes I do a little bit of this. I also do this, this, and a touch of this.

Seems like I'm pretty damn skilled, if I do say so myself. But it all adds up to this, so maybe I'm not as smart as I think I am.

19 June 2006

that dad post was heavy

In Real Salt Lake news, Steve sent me a t-shirt, an Eddie Pope jersey, a media guide, a pin, a Real Madrid pin and keychain... a team set of soccer (baseball) cards... I'll be meeting him next Wednesday in Chicago. Should be fantastic.

If you're an American soccer fan and aren't aware of Mehdi Ballouchy, please get to know him. I really think he's the real deal, and we need to get him in a US jersey pronto.

"Sunday is Father's Day...

just in case you have something to do with your dad," he said.

It's not offensive or even upsetting, though it always causes a slight internal shudder; most people just assume both my parents would be alive when I'm only 30. When my dad comes up in conversation with someone who doesn't know my situation I usually just sort of shrug it off or change the subject. Because it's easier than explaining that he's been dead for a while, or that I have to really think to figure out how long exactly, or that I still don't know how or what to think of it. I don't think I ever really thought he was going to die.

Sometimes I'll try to remember what his voice sounded like, and I can't. The things I remember are the things I picked up; the way I act in private company, the sense of humor, the knowledge of what's right and wrong. He went away but he never went away.

When he died I was asked if I was going to write something for the funeral, but I couldn't write out what I wanted to say; It was too big for words then and it still is today.

He deserved better and I'm thinking of him today. A day or years late, I guess.

17 June 2006

how far we've come

In the summer of my 14th year, I spent my days running a VCR, pausing to edit out commercials in real-time as the World Cup was beamed from Italy to a TBS feed and into a basement VCR and television. Those 1990 World Cup tapes were a fantastic soccer fix for the following year.

In the years that followed I lost a lot of my memory, but what I do remember is highlights of Tony Meola and Walter Zenga in a match that was considered a giant step for American Soccer. We didn't score that day, but we hung with the Azzuri. It was an amazing result considering the disaster that was our opening game against Czechoslovakia. The broadcast team heralded our efforts despite the result, and everyone felt a little bit better about the state of our national team.

Forgive me if I'm having a little bit of deja vu.

I had a horrible feeling about our chances going into today's game; I had decided to forgo asking for a two-hour lunch on Thursday because I had the overwhelming feeling that it wasn't going to matter. As it turns out it is going to matter, maybe even too much. I haven't read through all the scenarios that could take place Thursday. I've got all week for that. What I am sure of is that a win today would have helped more than anything.

Yes, we played with heart and skill, and surely the refereeing could have been better, but this World Cup was supposed to be the one where we eliminated all the excuses and showed the world that we were for real. Ties with Italy aren't going to shake off any of the naysayers (perhaps myself included), especially when you consider that we still haven't scored a goal.

I suppose this game was a stellar introduction to casual fans (or non-fans) about how a low scoring tie game can still be exciting, and our fans at the game were spectacularly loud and representative of what's possible. Michael Davies' reported a 10 to 1 Italy to US fan ratio, and (at least judging by the television broadcast) our fans have now let the world know that we're really taking to the game, and we'll only get more vocal (and better yet, more annoying).

But the question remains: Are we really getting anywhere? After 16 years, I'm still not sure.

* * * * *

Gina and I would like to offer our thanks to Scot and Jim for being fantastic co-supporters at Radio Radio today. It's fairly rare that I get to spend a couple hours spouting out my limited soccer knowledge, and your conversation, hospitality and insight were greatly appreciated. We hope to have a chance to do it again soon.

15 June 2006

it gets better, i promise

I've recently come to the realization that no one wants to read a blog about a guy riding his bicycle. I barely want to read a blog about a guy riding his bicycle. So instead of that, I'm going to write about guy riding his bicycle in sweatpants.

Nah, just kidding. I know this isn't really the most entertaining reading right now, but I swear it'll all be over with on Monday, July 17th, when I'm finally finished spending my evenings riding in circles. And then I'll attack the issue of sweatpants with a level of depth and perhaps even a touch of pure inspiration.

I really wish I was more entertaining right now, but then again, so does my girlfriend.

13 June 2006

this is a world cup and bicycle crash blog

Now the cops are out to get us. A cop hit a bicyclist this morning. I'm going to start commuting again (I've been slacking lately) and it's always encouraging to hear that people keep getting hit.

Korea and Togo are tied.

I am awaiting C02 cartridges.

I'm sorry you bothered too.

12 June 2006

make that undefeated and one

Alright, we just lost to a team that appears (so far) to be a legitimate contender to win the whole thing. That's fine. We'll get over it.

All we've got to do now is beat Italy and Ghana. And maybe trade DeMarcus for Rosicky.

11 June 2006

crap + cavalcade = crapplecade

Well after watching a full weekend of World Cup soccer, I can honestly say I've been completely underwhelmed. Aside for the wonderful (and yet ultimately futile) possession skills of the Dutch, I have yet to be impressed by a World Cup side. Even the teams that have started strong have quickly fallen into a boring defensive shell, and it seems as though none of the underdog teams are really that interested in winning.

But I didn't watch the Argentina game. And I gave up on the Mexico game at halftime. So..

But tomorrow everything changes. I still stand by my prediction. We're going undefeated.

* * * * *

I got the time to take the new bike out for a 30 or so mile cruise today. After changing the front tire I was ready to go. The bike rides like butter (my LeMond rides like a bony squirrel) and I'm afraid that I might end up liking the $10 bike more than the $950 bike.

I already ordered a new seat, tires, and handlebar tape for the new bike... it will soon have bright blue tires, a bright blue seat, and bright blue handlebars. It should be quite ugly. I can't wait. I also ordered a book so I can finally learn how to fix things I break. Sound like trouble.

* * * * *

2-1 tomorrow?

10 June 2006


I woke up early this morning in order to catch the England/Paraguay stinker, and nearly fell asleep in the process of watching. I so very badly wanted England to be punished for their unimaginitive and boring play, but I guess Paraguay deserved just as much punishment... Joe Cole looked good, as usual. Too bad he plays for Chelsea.

Luckily enough I was rewarded, though, because as soon as the game was over I went for a bike cruise through the neighborhood to browse the neighborhood garage sales. I am not the sort of person who normally shops secondhand; I'm much too snobby for that. But I am willing to roll by and see what people have laying out.

I rolled by a house in the suburb across from ours and noticed a bicycle. From a distance the brake levers/shifters looked like they might be of decent quality (expensive bike parts have a certain look...), so I rolled around the block and stopped in.

The first thing I noticed was that the bike was $10. The second thing I noticed was that it has Shimano components, just like the expensive bicycle I had rolled up on...

Well you know what happened next. I am now the owner of what seems to be an early 90's (Japanese Brand) Miyata 914. It is a steel bicycle (my LeMond is aluminum) with Shimano 105 components, and apparently sold for something around $800 - $900 new.

For $10.

The bike definitely isn't worth $800 - $900 now, but someone has one listed on Ebay for $249; regardless it was a complete steal. I took the bike home, put air in the tires (one is dry rotted and need replaced, but they both hold air), lubed the chain... and now I have a perfectly servicable bicyle, with gears that work the way they should. The seat is completely horrible, and the wheels may need trued (a $20 repair) but other than that it's good to go.

Eventually it will probably end up as a fixed gear or singlespeed bicycle (like this one), and I'm thinking of a light blue powdercoat (like a bike I rode in Japan), but in the meantime it's a great beater bike. Or maybe better. Time will tell.

Anyway, awesome.

08 June 2006

what's on tap for friday morning

You may recall a previous post I made about a couple of comedians I know (a post I can't seem to find now). John Garrett was one of those comedians, and he also happens to live in my spare bedroom. He'll be on the Bob and Tom Show this morning (June 9th) from around 9 - 9:30 AM. I'm sure he'd appreciate it if you listened. And if you think he's horrible, you can meet him in person Monday when he'll be with me at Radio Radio for the USMNT World Cup game. Feel free to walk up and punch him in the shoulder.

* * * * *

In additional World Cup research, I'm currently watching a replay of the US/Portugal game from World Cup 2002, and I'm suddenly feeling 100% better about our chances this time. What I had forgotten was that we hardly looked like we belonged on the field against Portugal, and yet we won. At least on looks, we're a 100% better squad this time. I mean... Jeff Agoos? I just think the guys play a much better brand of soccer now, and there's no reason we should be outclassed this time. We definitely belong.

There's the 2-0 Donovan goal. Remember the call "Shock the World!"?

Maybe I'm overconfident, but I think we'll go undefeated this time. And if not? I'll already be drinking.

World Cup World Cup World Cup

Liverpool's primary wife beater (and French striker) Djibril Cisse is out of the World Cup with a broken leg. In the history of all leg breaks, this one ranks right at the top. In fact, there's a picture available...don't say I didn't warn you.

07 June 2006

things that scare me

Southside bicyclist killed in hit and run - These are the kinds of things that go through my mind when I'm passed a little too close or some idiot decides honking or yelling at me is a good idea. I wonder if he was wearing a helmet.

I got in 30 very comfortable and enjoyable miles last evening, and made it home in time to make dinner, watch a television show, and go to bed. With the World Cup starting Friday, I'm wondering how I'm going to fit everything in. So I'm quitting my job.

If only it was that easy... I think I'll be at Radio Radio Monday for US/Czech and Italy/Ghana. I was going to take a long lunch and just watch the USMNT, but now I think that I might need a half-day, because I'll probably want to be drinking. Hopefully in celebration. We shall see...

04 June 2006

i ride my bike

Yesterday was a good day for a couple reasons.

I got 77 miles of training in on the bike. On top of the 26 for Friday and the 30 I'm due today, it's adding up quick. I wish I could say that it was comfortable and pleasant and that I felt strong and quick, but that would be a lie. I felt fantastic for the first 30 miles, and thereafter I was uncomfortable and struggling. But I did keep pace with my riding partners, so I guess that's a good thing. I'm learning to manage my struggles, which is exactly what I need to do. I'm pretty sure I was the weakest link yesterday, but perhaps my excuse was that I don't rest nearly as much as the other guys. It was the first time in a long time that I remembered that I have the lungs of a former smoker. But that was over a year ago. Excuses excuses excuses. I hope to be better next time. I also blew out an inner tube. Here's a Deerhoof song about a bike. Check out their website if you like free EP albums. I'd give a link but that traces back...

Real Salt Lake destroyed Chicago. I think you're still reading this site, Jim... It was a very fast paced game (which the astroturf always helps) and both teams looked strong starting off, but RSL had a very strong second half and Jeff Cunningham made a fool out of the Chicago back line. Medhi was strong again, and I'm pretty sure he never makes a bad pass and never loses the ball. He's going to be a fine National Team player, I just hope it's our national team.

Steve Pastorino got back to me. He told me to make my plans and that he'd have tickets waiting for me in Chicago. He hasn't been responding as much to my emails, but explained that the RSL vs Real Madrid match (coming up in August) was consuming his life ("In a good way" he added). I don't believe it'll be on DirectKick, but I'm hoping it will. I want to see Medhi against Madrid. I don't want to see Medhi transferred to Real Madrid.

02 June 2006

i'm so happy i could robot

Let's get this World Cup thing started already. I'm tired of waiting. So is Peter Crouch. Just look at him. He can't control himself. Here's a few World Cup heads-uppers.

Michael Davies is writing about the cup for espn again. If my memory is working (and it rarely does), Mr. Davies was the creator of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire". Don't hold that against him though. If you didn't get the chance to read about Davies' World Cup experiences in Japan, you missed out. Though as it turns out, if you hit this page you can see that all the 2002 WC diary entries are listed in the right column, and as of right now you don't have to be an "ESPN Insider" to read them. Lucky you.

Harper Perennial has published The Thinking Fan's Guide to the World Cup. The book features articles by a fairly eclectic group of authors, from Former Foreign Minister of Mexico Jorge G. Casta to Nick Hornby. I wish I could say that the book is perfect, but I'm afraid that the editors (both American) may have been a little ignorant about soccer in their home country. One of them tells us to watch for Freddy Adu at the World Cup (which I think we all knew wasn't going to happen). The other tells tales of his past World Cup fandom and the teams he chose to root for, but never once mentions rooting for his own country, which makes him a traitor (and that's the nicest word I could use). But I'll forgive them both, because the book is a very nice read. I just finished the entry about Cote d'Ivoire, which expanded a bit on the things I've learned through Bono's commercials.

The book was available at the downtown Borders (but not the Greenwood location), at it was $15, I think. It appears that if you order it through Amazon it's a whole lot cheaper, but then you'd have to wait for it.

If you're the sort of person that believes in the Sports Illustrated cover curse, consider the USMNT dead in the water. They've put perhaps our four best players front and center in the latest issue, and all for a very short article. I guess we now know who to send hate mail to if things go badly. I'm not a fan of the whole "US National Team wants you" thing either. But I suppose until we can fill US stadiums with our own supporters that's the way it's got to be. Bah Humbug or something.

01 June 2006


I added David Byrne's journal in the list to the left. In case the name does not ring a bell, David Byrne is the former singer of Talking Heads.

* * * * *

While listening to this track (Thom Yorke's "Black Swan" from The Eraser) on the way to work this morning I realized that it easily would have fit on Justin Timberlake's solo album. I suppose the best way to make sure your song doesn't ever get to radio is to use the words "fucked up" repeatedly in the chorus. Though it is a very relaxed use of the words. It's not like he's screaming it or anything. Check it out, I don't post too many songs anymore.