Saturday, June 26, 2010

Yet another soccer post

Yeah, yeah... I realize I have been a little heavy on the World Cup lately here on Read Ink. But this is good stuff. International competition, drama, North Koreans... what's not to like?

But no matter what the sport, crowd reaction videos, for some reason, have always been like catnip for me. That, compelled with the canard that Americans don't care about soccer, makes this clip so excellent:

Except for the music and saccharine patriotic stuff at the end... pretty neat, huh? Let's hope for a repeat today.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


So let me tell you what I did last night. For the second time in my life, I watched the U.S. win a big World Cup match in a foreign country.

The first time was 1994. It was late June, and I was in Spain with a big group of Yellowjackets, most notably Friends of the Blog Adam and Chris. In our hotel in Cordoba, we dominated the foosball table and watched the U.S. beat Colombia, assuring them a trip into the knockout stages as one of the best third-place teams.

That year, I looked a little like Lalas, too.

On July 4, we watched the same team lose to Brazil, 1-0, ending their run. But it was still sweet.

Last night, I watched the U.S. beat Algeria in dramatic fashion, not only sending themselves through to the elimination rounds, but putting the team at the top of the group. Sweet.

Right time, right place, right goal.

An interesting experience, too, as the U.S. game was being shown without sound (projected on a wall) while the England game--just as much of a win-or-go-home affair as the U.S. match--was on the TV. It was a good setup, too, because there was no way either team could knock the other out just by winning, so everyone could cheer for everyone else. There were no Algerian fans in the house.

It was a fun night, and I'd offer more of a play-by-play description of it, but most of the physical activity involved couch-sitting and high-fiving and beer-drinking, and most of the conversation went something like, "Oh! So close" and "How the hell did he miss that?"

Once the second matches started, it was a little more relaxed and we could all make fun of the German ubermenschen, who squeaked past Ghana and now will face England in a rematch of 1966, or World War II, depending on your point of view.

Treading on me=yellow card.

So add "high-stakes sporting event" to the list of expat experiences I have enjoyed. I wish Mrs Blog had been there to take part, but then again, she started Wednesday night at one of our favorite restaurants and finished it at our favorite bar... so I don't feel too bad.

Last night I barely had the energy to text message other sports fans after the game. Better make sure I am well-rested for Saturday night... there will be no excuse for not wildly celebrating if the U.S. continues its run.

P.S. Suck it, Sun.

Note to headline writer: Turns out "Y" stood for "Your first-place team."

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Can we talk about the weather?

This morning I heard on the radio some extraordinarily unpleasant words. Words I am tempted to not repeat, because they might keep Mrs. Blog in the U.S. until after the autumnal equinox.

It is allegedly going to be one of the hottest summers on record here in the UAE.

Already there is anecdotal evidence--humidity today hit 95 percent, beyond which it would have started raining. And it ain't gonna rain. That meant the 35 degree Celsius temperature today felt like 68 degrees. In American terms, that's 154 sweat-soaked degrees of Fahrenheit unpleasantness. And without the humidity, it still would have been 95 degrees F.

So I guess I should hunker down and turn up the air conditioning. Inshallah, by the time Mrs Blog gets back it will be safe to go outside again.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

From the Depths of Google

You know what's weird? Googling yourself. Which I just did, mostly because I was trying to track down contact information for an old friend by Googling him. Not much came up.

But of course this led to a bit of a narcissistic fugue, and I wound up on the page for "From the Depths." The good news was that it's almost at four stars in customer reviews. And in fact there have been a couple added since I last checked (which, to be fair, was probably like 18 months ago).

The weird part, though, the really weird part, is that one of these--which criticized the book for not mentioning characters eating or using the head on the submarine--still annoyed me. Three years after the book was published! Or maybe that's totally predictable.

I have written about this before, but the point stands that you can't let reviews get under your skin. Same thing is true of rejections. People are reading the book--that's good! They're thinking about it critically--that's good! So I will let the fact that I have read literally zero thrillers that mention bathroom breaks, let alone thrillers set over a period of hours, not days, slide.

Because I'm just magnanimous that way. If you don't believe me, Google it.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The battle of Etisalat

Last night marked a momentous occasion. Months of skirmishing with Etisalat over various problems--Internet speed, access, settings, pretty much everything you would expect an service provide--ended in... well... at least a semi-victory. Let's put it this way, if my goal was to make it hot, I at least made it lukewarm.

All I had to do was go to their office tower for three consecutive days and spend several hours in line. And then endure a long service outage once I got home.

Well, whatever. It's a small victory. And it's a fun way to pass the time while Mrs. Blog is on her U.S. Tour of Culinary Jealousy.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Continuing my treasury of awesome World Cup ads...

... this entry is directed by the same guy who was behind the camera for "Babel" and "21 Grams" (neither of which I have seen, but both of which are supposed to be good).

Four out of four cleats.

It's only three minutes long but already has been reviewed on Slate. This--and "Mad Men"--is why working in advertising looks fun.

Who else wants some?

From the deepest, darkest depths of dorkdom, I give you... World Cup soccer meets Star Wars.

... and, of course, Snoop Dogg.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

This time, it's not war

Saturday is a big day. Not only will it by the first weekend without Mrs. Blog (who will be in the States for a month, taunting me long-distance about the delicious meals and artisinal cocktails and trees with leaves on them), but it marks the resumption of hostilities between the US and Britain.

Yes. It's 1776 all over again, except with soccer balls instead of muskets. And here is the U.S. in its most recent tune-up match.

The Aussie team is really called the Socceroos. Maybe not in Spanish, though.

Portugal vs. Brazil should be a good one too, which got me to thinking--how many former colonies will be squaring off against their colonial masters? The odds are pretty good for Britain, Spain and France, I think.