Monthly Archives: June 2006

images are ready

woohoo! found a really cool script called bbips to handle scaling down all my images. I’ve replaced all the big ones from before with blog-friendly pics, so scroll down and take a gander at them all happy on one page. And I’ll get some more up here asap too!

new time zone

holy crap, two days without soccer!  In a row.  It’s not my fault, I suppose they’re giving the teams a quick breather before jumping into the quarter-finals.  Yesterday I travelled for someodd 24 hours from Hamburg back to happy Portland town.  Nice to be home, but I miss the adventure some.  Now I have to mow the lawn and go back to work and watch the games on tv with maybe 20 people instead of tens of thousands.  But the love among those 20!  Yeah.
So, tomorrow is the beginning of the quarter-finals.  I have to get up nine hours earlier now to catch the games.  But it’ll be well worth it!  Between the super-exciting matchup between Deutschland and Argentina (plenty of shots of Maradonna and Klinsman I’m sure, probably a few side-by-sides, maybe FIFA will stage a hug or a handshake) and screaming at the Italians flopping like Mike Patton’s goldfish it should be an exciting day.  I’m going to hold on to my Germany prediction.

So where’ve been the hotspots for watching the games?  I’m gravitating towards the Cheerful Tortoise, though I’m trying to talk some buddies into heading to the Red Wing.  Maybe I’ll go there for the second.

As far as photos, I’ve loaded them onto my ‘puter, but haven’t begun the arduous task of making them smaller yet.

Day 8 – Berlin with Uli

I arrive Friday late afternoon. We drink coffee at his house and ride the train to the city. My card is not working so I have no money. We drink beer on the train, many people do. Often there are little stores conveniently located to sell one a bottle of beer. Not many cans here. We walk around and have what appears to be lebanese food, similar to a doner. Which is not too different than gyros bot more cabbage and sometimes different bread.

me and Uli
The coffee and beer have made our bladders short. The day is beautiful, we piss a lot. And drink much beer as we walk around Berlin, stopping at another shop for a walking beer. We take the train to Potsdammer, piss in an empty lot…there is a ton of construction around Berlin. We walk to the Fanmille after picking up another beer, where we watch France workover Togo. We drink beer there and piss in the woods, then walk to a nearby pub with a nice garden. They close at one, and unsure what to do we wander a bit, drinking a beer, and decide to visit a party of Uli’s students, who’d graduated that day and arranged a club in which to celebrate.

Downstairs and hot, it was a happening clu, with three bars, two dance rooms, a movie/social room (similar to the Bar of the Gods) room, and a relaxed room. We drank, talked, danced, and smoked all night, riding the train (runs all night!) and crawling into bed at 6:30.

Abstract probability and the World Cup champion

I predict Germany will be the winner of the world cup this year. And here is my proof.

Word on the street is that Brazil is favored and I accept that. But is their probability better than 50% to win? I think not. Thus, we must say that a team other than Brazil should win.

Looking at the field, Germany seems to be the strongest and carry the greatest odds.

As I have already proven that Brazil will not win but will fall to a worthy opponent, and that of the teams in the match who are not Brazil Germany is strongest, we have now determined that Germany will carry the cup home the short drive from Germany to Germany.

Day 5 – playing with the Germans

Heads up, I’m just posting these as I have time and in whatever order I feel like. If you’re hoping for up-to-the-minute scores, check out FIFA’s website. Lunched with Nina’s family, had the white asparagus so popular here for the first time. It was really good and made my piss smell different that regular asparagus. Then off to Lasser’s for sone BBQ with some friends and to watch Germany play Ecuador. Both teams were going through and Germany dominated, so the game wasn’t very exciting.

me and the team

After the game I got to play some soccer with Tobi and Lasser’s club team, a semi-final match. They didn’t have enough jerseys so I was honored to sport the German national jersey, the only one out. We all enjoyed the irony, especially as it was suggested that I not talk since there would be no Americans in this league.

the clay pitch

I was astonished that the turf we were to play on was a red clay. Just touching it took skin. We went up 1-0 in the first half and held it through the game, which was played largely in the center of the field. I mostly played defense but got 5-10 minutes at forward in which I beat the keeper (too intent on pushing me out of the way to go for the ball) on a corner for a header off the crossbar. Also a nice turning cross, returned just a step ahead of me…oh, so close! Overall, I think I did pretty well for an American.

After the game we sang….fee-nahl-uh—oh-ay-oh from time to time and had some beers. It seems that German fields all have locker rooms with showers and such for both teams. We don’t even get toilets in the US at most fields.

And then back to Lasser’s to watch England v Sweden, and exciting game. Though both teams were almost certainly through (a drastic upset by Trinidad & Tobago could put them through in some outcomes), they were yet to determine who plays Germany and who gets Ecuador in the next round.

The game ended a tie with solid play from both sides, and some really nice goals. Rooney looked pissed after he was pulled, thogh they didn’t show his face when his replacement scored.

My picks

Okay…they’re late, but these are my predictions from this round on.

1/8
——
Germany v Sweden – Germany
Argentina v Mex – Argentina
Eng v Ecu – Eng
Por v Hol – Hol
Bra v Ghana – Brazil
Ita v Aus – Italy
Spa v Fra – Spain
Ukr v Switz – Switerland

1/4
———
Ger v Arg – Germany
Bra v Spa – Brazil
Switz v Ita – Switzerland
Hol v Eng – Holland

1/2
——-
Ger v Switz – Germany
Brazil v Netherlands – Brazil

3rd – Netherlands
1st – Germany

Um. I guess I have the Netherlands going too far.

Day 10 – wtf was that? (Portugal v Netherlands)

On the way to the Fan Fest downtown Hamburg I saw a woman jogging in a turquoise Ramones T-shirt. Something was about to happen.

Tobi started singing ‘yellow — yellow — yellowred’ and I joined it. Just a made-up song for the game, early in the second half. But that described it. Four red cards, all of them double yellows, and I felt mostly ridiculous. In fact, there were a couple red cards I felt would be deserved, but they didn’t get raised. In particular Sneidjur’s retaliatory tackle against Deca well into the second half. We were figuring 10 minutes of extra time would be added on at the end for all the time lost due to cards and injury, but the ref wanted to go home and limited to 6 minutes.

Rain fell in Hamburg and they moved us from the bleachers.

portugal fans

It is games like this that make it clear how important a good official is. After the game Tobi said there were three teams in that match: Portugal, Netherlands, and the official. It shouldn’t ever be that way. Poor officiating can take an otherwise aggresive but amicable game and escalate it out of control. Officials in this cup have been far too quick with their whistles and their cards. Players want to play and fans hope to see them play. Last night’s game, and US v Italy as well as US v Ghana, exemplify this. The referee made very questionable decisions that directly and indirectly affect the outcome of the game.

Poor officiating is bad for all parties involved. Both teams get frustrated and this leads to a fight or flight situation, most often ending in fight (not necessarily fisticuffs). Recently I played in a coed game. It started well, the game was fun for awhile. Then the ref started blowing his whistle for now valid reason. A lot. Probably the worst-officiated game I’ve ever played in. Players got frustrated and overly aggressive, things started getting mean on both sides. I started tracking players and hitting them. This is not my usual behavior, but when you get called for a fair trap you get confused. After the game I shook his hand and said ‘thank you for taking two teams of perfectly decent people and turning them into ass holes.’ Harsh, but I was very pissed. Believe me, I almost never say anything to the ref, and never anything like that.

Back to the World Cup. Portugal managed to hold onto their early lead of 1-0 throughout the game, both teams finished with 9 men on the field. Bizarro world.

some pub off the reiperbahn

After the game we went to the Reiperbahn (side streets) for a few nice bars. Drank beer of course, then ended up at a karaokee joint. Someone stole my beer off the table while I looked at songs. Later someone bought me a beer, so life works out. I sang I Can’t Fight This Feeling. Good times. A German I’d been talking to told be I was ‘shit. No, worse than shit,’ but I don’t think I was that bad really. Took the cab home after 3am. I opened the window and the German flag flew off. The cabbie got pissed and I went back for it. good times.

What no bier?

so, you may have noticed by now that I’m not talking about German beer that much. Well, it’s there and it’s good and there’s a lot of it. Not necessarily in me at the moment but passing through. Lots of Pilseners. Beck’s Gold has been really popular with the circles I’m running with, as well as Radlers which are some sort of lemon/beer mix. I enjoyed a nice Koenig Pilsener last night when I got back from Berlin in time to watch the extra time in the Argentina/Mexico game. Each Fan Fest seems to feature its own local favorite (or at least a different cheap…) beer.

Contrary to popular belief it is not ONLY American Budweiser served at stadiums. If you look around you can find Bitburger, which is marginally better than Bud. After all these tasty beers, Budweiser really tastes bad. Also, I’m not sure who’s actually responsible for them, but while McDonald’s hosts concessions at the stadiums, you’re not stuck with typical McDonald’s fair. You can also gobble down some sausages and pretzels (the big yummy kind).

Day 6

Today I was mistaken for a Swede for the first time. Watching them play England, I’d noticed the mullet was more popular on their side. Still sporting it.

After watching the early games (Mexico v Portugal and Angola v Iran) with Tobi, Flo and I cruised down to the Hamburg Fan Fest. Much larger than the ones at Cologne and Hannover, there was a great festival atmosphere with food offered from each of the 32 countries. I wonder if they’ll shut down after their teams are elimintated, leaving only German and Brazilian food at the final. Also they had fun games like human foosball and other games, a beach club, music, and dancing.

We met Meike and Sandra, had some beers (and ciders/snakebites from the English pub, and watched Argenta play the Netherlands to an uninspiring 0-0 tie. Both had already made it through so they allowed players to rest and not accumulate a second yellow card (a second in a round keeps you out of the next game, but after the third the count starts fresh).

Local World Cup Bloggers

Came across two bloggers tracking the World Cup as well, I’m sure there are more so as I come across them, I will update this. Bunco Parade and A Pretty Move. Jack Bog is keeping up on it too, and having a pool for the next rounds (link is on the sidebar). Update1: I like 11 devils too and I’m excited to hear what Zach’s secret mission is. And Shawn Levy’s blog.

Day 4 – Ukraine vs Saudi Arabia

Monday, second game ticket. Probably the last, Ukraine vs. Saudi Arabia. In their first game against Tunisia the Saudis played remarkably well. They are certainly capable of applying pressure up front and occasionally pull together some really pretty soccer. This was true against the Ukraine as well, nearly scoring on several occasions. Unfortunately, the defense, quite porous against Tunisia and rarely winning in the air, remained weak. A keeper error placed the ball in a dangerous area, which Ukraine capitalized on. Then the goalie slipped in an effort to block a shot from the outside. Well placed, I don’t think he would have gotten to it anyhow, but it certainly takes a team down. The other two goals were clinical, Ukraine 4 SA 0 in a mediocre match.

After the fourth goal nearly all of the green began leaving the stands. We were sitting near the main Saudi section and it emptied out. I understood their pain, the hope of the World Cup is dramatic and to face a loss worse than the US against Czech (apparently the loss by which embarassments are measured) is traumatic even for young teams.

Leaving, I was a Saudi supporter leaning against a wall, hugging a girl. He was crying inside the stadium, wrapped in his country’s flag.

Four years is a long time, I wonder what this cup could mean for Saudi Arabian soccer, or for Saudi Arabia itself. For the USA, it only means something for American soccer(?), whether the tide rises or falls, how much athletic companiesand media pay attention to our sport. But here, soccer is steadily growing. The 21st century will not be the century of gridiron football. US soccer may not overcome, but others may, lacrosse perhaps.

Yet for Saudi Arabia there could be more. A new passion. A unifying force that brings their people closer to the world as well as each other. And their leaders fear it and their people cry for it.

Czech vs. Italy tickets!

Just found out I got a ticket for Czech vs. Italy. I’m excited, it’ll be a great game, but a little sad not to see the US game live. Watch for me, I’ll be in the US jersey with the US towel. btw, I may not be saying much about beer, I’m way behind on writing so it’s just World Cup adventures so far. oboy, what an awesome game this will be!

USA Soccer Fight Songs

The fellow from Ghana summed it up painfully sweet: “I can’t root for the US, you don’t have any songs!” So our merry band of wanderers did what we could with what we had. Three letters and a movie. For the most part we spent the day shouting U-S-A U-S-A over the roar of ee-tahl-ya ee-tahl-ya until our throats were hoarse, moistened only by sweet German lager. Then we realized that We have a fight song. Or at least a few words. “America—Fuck Yeah!” from that Team America flick. So that helped. And when the Italian got the red card, we got to sing na na na na hey hey good-bye. BUT that’s not enough. So, I’ve written a few, take’em or leave’em, I think the last one’s alright, but here are all three I have so far.

Never look back
Stronger everyday
Oh-ah-lee-a-lay
U S A

and then there’s the funny one:
Football baseball basketball bowling
You won’t see it on TV
Soccer is growing

and finally, one with with drums and stuff:
(beat beat beat)
For the red white and blue
(beat beat beat)
we proudly cheer for you
(beat beat beat)
Raise your arms stand up!
(beat beat beat)
We have come for the cup

Sing loud, sing strong! prost.

Group E finals

Today you should look forward to some of the best and most importand matches of first-round group play. The games are the third round of Group E, which some have dubbed this year’s group of death. Others have debated it, but now I think the debaters have shut up because it is pretty clear. Czech beat US. US tied Italy. Italy beat Ghana. Ghana beat Czech. For standings, Italy has four, Czech and Ghana have three, and the US has one.

Today’s matches are: Czech vs. Italy and US vs. Ghana. Both matter for all teams involved. A win by Czech, Ghana, or Italy and they go through. The US needs a win but also either Italy to win or a huge gain in goal differential. Currently they are at -3 whereas Italy is at +2…that’s a 5-6 point swing we need, so an Italy/Czech tie doesn’t help much. Ouch. So every team is in it at this time, the US just has more conditions for making it.

As for me, I might be able to score a ticket to the Czech/Italy game today. Watch for me, I’ll be the one in the US jersey. Also, if you wanted me to pick something up for you here, make sure to send an email. prost!

Day -2 – Passport Hell (Portland/Seattle)

13 June 06. Impatiently she shakes her head. Why haven’t they helped her yet, she has children! Not with her…but she does. Continuously shaking or grunting, she stalks the window. To my left security guards chuckle. She stands up, steps, glares, and sits again to shake her head more.

Still shaking, the window clears, she is there before the numbers change. Friendly as can be, smiling, talking about her four kids under two. Laughing, chatting, crazy.

A young fellow walked in and asked the best way to get a passport for an infant. I resisted suggesting that he stick it back into the womb.

I’m going to the friggin world cup. About two months ago that thought congealed, appearing in my mind more and more frequently. I woke up Tuesday morning, that echo a shout. Quickly showering, bags thrown hastily into the car, spinning I go to the airport.

There’s a problem with my passport. I sit while she makes some calls. Somehow sometime it got wet. It hadn’t crossed my mind. These things are made for travelling, and I didn’t notice anything wrong with mine. The text was fine, the picture untouched. The laminate she showed me was peeling a little. She mentioned new immigration laws. She mentioned fines from German customs. Still sitting, I am an optimist.

She helps another traveller. The phone rings, she reads something from my passport into the mouthpiese. Hanging up, she looks to me and raises her hand. I think she looks welcoming and smile.

“We can’t let you on the plane.” Oh my God. I wail it again. Perhaps a third time, my head on the counter. Two years I’ve planned and she hands my bags back. Two years and I get picked up thirty minutes later, right where I left, legs weak head hung. Somehow my bags were heavier. I felt empty. Tired and defeated, I call the Seattle passport office. They aren’t open yet, but the system for an appointment is automated. I press 1 for a morning appointment. There are no morning appointments available. I press 1 again for an afternoon appointment. Would I like to setup an appointment for the next available, on June 19? My world dropped, my stomach hung. I knew despair.

We drove to Seattle. N drove me as I stared perplexed out the window, too empty for tears. I began considering camping trips.

The visit to the passport office went remarkably well. They were helpful, friendly, and even a little sympathetic. From the beginning my confidence rose. I probably wouldn’t be visiting my brother in San Diego, and stopped thinking about how to obtain a refund from an airline.

I’d grown a mullet for a soccer tournament a few weeks prior and decided to take it and some handlebars to Germany with me. Now the lark is immortalized in my kinko’s passport photos.

At 3:15 PM they handed me my passport. The information appeared correct and I signed it. Having already visited Seattle’s beautiful central library that day and eaten fish tacos across the street, I decided to head straight for the airport to get on an airplane.

I was able to switch my flight a little. I’d now arrive in Hamburg Friday morning mere hours before my first game ticket, Mexico vs. Angola in Hannover. Quietly the echo returned.

Day 1 – Mexico vs. Angola (Hannover)

I slept the entire drive from Hamburg to Hannover and woke still tired. I’d just arrived in Germany that morning due to the passport mayhem I’ll fill you in on later. Jetlag was definitely impacting me but I’m a trooper! We parked maybe a kilometer from the stadium and wald to the Fan Fest, these town square setups in each city with a huge screen, beer (cheaper than water or soda), and food. There we watched as Argentina pummeled Serbia Montenegro 6-0 and the first half of Netherlands vs. Ivory before making the short walk to the stadium.

At the fan fest it was pretty clear that the Mexican fans outnumbered the Angolans. I met a number of people who had made the trip from Mexico. Approaching the stadium was walking into a sea of green. Aztec warriors marched alongside masked wrestlers and shirtless men painted in red, green, and white beating drums as princesses in green danced.

Small pockets of red-clad Angolas danced and sang, wome wearing robes, headdresses, and elaborate (costume) jewelry.

The stadium staff was friendly, the security about as tight as a Timbers game. I never had to show identification. AWD stadium in Hannover is a nice on, and the locals take pride judging by a conversation with the German next to me. Most interesting was the absence of tunnel-travellling. From the outdoors I walked a flight of stairs which landed me at the top, an immense landing jam-packed with Mexican jerseys. Sponsoring the concessions were Budweiser and McDonald’s, a familiar disapppointment though the sausage was alright.

The sound was amazing. Whistles, drums, elaborate wooden and plastic noisemakers, all kinds of trumpets, and ample yelling filled the air as I tried to work down my Budweiser after consuming quality German pilsners. Corner kicks and close-in Mexico free kicks were accompanied by ceremony- the entire stands stood, reached their arms out, shaking, yelling ‘woooooo—–’ until inevitably the ball was possessed by Angola.

The game ended 0-0 despite maybe 100 good opportunities for the Mexican side, and a few good ones for Angola. After the game we drove to Cologne, once again I slept the entire time.

watch the monkey push the button

At this time I will attempt to put fotos on the interweb.

Update: looks like I need to do a bit of cropping…you can see the whole picture by viewing it in a new window in the meantime. Of course, I’m on a German Mac right now, so who knows what y’all back home are seeing. (more) sorry, I’m going to need help to figure out the annoying kodak foto editor in German, so y’all will have to deal with odd views of the pics unless you view the whole thing (I’m seeing just the far left edge of the pics here).

This is a shot of me and a big Czech dude getting beers during the Czech Ghana game in Cologne.
Me and a big Czech dude

This is a shot of me and an Iranian Guy during the Iran game, again in Cologne.
Dear George Bush...(watch more soccer)

These are all Italian fans during the USA vs Italy game in which we outplayed them after being a man down.
Some Italian fans

And these are a few USA fans (just about all of us…there were probably 20 scattered among the 10000 or so Italian fans).
and some USA fans

This is at the Mexico vs. Angola game (0-0). Note the lack of Angolans. I was a bit bummed that this one ended zero zero because the place would have exploded with a Mexican goal. The empty seats across the way are VIP seats…this is still about 30 minutes before the game started.
A shot of the stands at Mexco v Angola

I’ve taken some notes and hope to get some of it distilled into some stories.

I’m at the freakin’ World Cup!

well holy crap I’m on day four of my beer drinking world cup tour, and having an awesome time! I’ve seen Mexico tie Angola (wished for a goal to hear the stadium explode there were so many Mexican fans) live, stood 20 americans yelling over 10,000 italians in Cologne watching the USA outplay Italy with a man down at the Fan Fest drinking copious beer making day-long friends for life I’ll never see again, hung out with some true old friends, driven the autobahn, and travelled to three great cities…Hannover, Cologne, and Hamburg. Flo tells me he may have just the tool I need to crowbar my pics out of my camera so if there’s ever any mutual downtime I’ll try to get some onto the interweb. In the meantime, prost!

World Cup!!

I am super-excited, leaving for Germany tomorrow morning.  I probably won’t post many pics while I’m there because I won’t have the camera dongle, but maybe my german buddy will throw me a bone on that.  I’m seeing two games, Mexico vs. Angola and Ukraine vs. Saudi Arabia.  Oh boy, I’m really gonna miss my lady and pup and folks back home, but I don’t think I’ll have too much time to pine away on it.  cheers!

back?

well holy crap I’ve been lazy about posting latetly. Plenty of beer drining has been going on, I just finished up one of my big projects for the year: the Moist Tournament. Anyway, it was an awesome friggin time, and don’t get me wrong, I don’t run the tourney. We just put three teams into it and a lot of blood, beer-laden sweat, and tears. That was over memorial day. There should be some excellent pictures coming out of it. I’m including one, just for a taster…this was Monday after my team had finished playing, while the D-2 Moist United were in the process of winner their division’s championship.

Kilt on the Moist United sideline