Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Annual MLS Prediction

Each year, I love to predict the coming Major League Soccer season ahead of time.

Impressive, in that the last two seasons I've correctly predicted the two clubs in the MLS Cup final. Not so impressive in that both times I predicted a New England victory, and both times I was wrong.

Revs suck!

Season Twelve kicks off on Saturday April 7th at 3:30 pm EST LIVE on ABC when the Colorado Rapids open their brand new Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado against my beloved DC United. Later on in April, expansion side Toronto FC opens their new stadium, BMO Stadium, in Toronto (dramatic pause) Ontario, Canada. Toronto have impressed by selling out their season ticket alotment. 14,000 season ticket holders in a 20,000 seat stadium for a club that's never played a real game.

I've thought about it for awhile, and don't feel too confident, but this is how I see it going down.

1. DC United
2. New England Revolution
3. New York Red Bulls
4. Chicago Fire
5. Kansas City Wizards
6. Toronto FC
7. Columbus Crew

As the pre-season ends, most experts are saying United look like the future champions. I think they'll take the East. Revs have lost a big player in Clint Dempsey, and Shalrie Joseph wants out. Not to mention captain Joe Franchino taking a leave of absence. But they still have a lot of talent, and still have Matt Reis in the net and Taylor Twellman to score the goals. NYRB have added Claudio Reyna, and have the greatest MLS coach ever in Bruce Arena. But unless they find somebody to put it in the back of the net, life could be tough. The Fire lost some talent, but always seem to be a tough club to beat. I think they'll squeak into the final playoff spot. KC have added a great keeper in Hartman, but I also wonder where the goals will come from. Unless Eddie Johnson actually starts earning his paycheck, it'll be tough. Toronto have great support already, and some good players picked up in the various expansion drafts, but I think it'll be a tough first season. The Crew have some great young talent, but I don't think they have what it takes to go too far.

1. Houston Dynamo
2. Los Angeles Galaxy
3. FC Dallas
4. Colorado Rapids
5. Club Deportivo Chivas USA
6. Real Salt Lake

Dynamo are the defending champions, and still look strong on paper. LA will have to wait for David Beckham until August, and I think they'll struggle early. But Becks will be motivated when he arrives, and Landon Donovan has a lot to prove this year after a dismal World Cup and no playoffs in 2006. Plus, he wins titles in odd numbered years (2001 & 2003 with the Quakes and 2005 with LA). Dallas have a lot of talent and a deadly pair up top with Kenny Cooper and Carlos Ruiz. Can new coach Steve Morrow finally bring the wins? Colorado are always tough, despite not looking like much. A new stadium should inspire the club. CD Chivas USA just don't strike me this year. They were pretty good in 06, but they've lost the coach and some big name players. Can Ante Razov show up again? Is Preki the right man for the job? Too many questions, and I think they'll miss out on the playoffs on the last day of the season. Real Salt Lake have some talent, and have added Freddy Adu. But still don't measure up in the West.

A new playoff format for 2007, as the top two teams in each conference get in, than the next four best point totals regardless of conference. Here's how I see it going down.

TOP TWO IN EAST: DC United & New England Revolution
TOP TWO IN WEST: Houston Dynamo & Los Angeles Galaxy
NEXT FOUR BEST POINT TOTALS: New York Red Bulls, FC Dallas, Colorado Rapids, Chicago Fire

I'm not positive, but I'm guessing they'll seed them 1-8 based on points, so here's how I see the playoffs.

#1 Houston Dynamo v. #8 Chicago Fire
#4 New England Revolution v. #5 New York Red Bulls
#3 Los Angeles Galaxy v. #6 FC Dallas
#2 DC United v. #7 Colorado Rapids

#1 Houston Dynamo v. #5 New York Red Bulls
#2 DC United v. #3 Los Angeles Galaxy

MLS CUP 2007
#1 Houston Dynamo v. #3 Los Angeles Galaxy

Come final time, I think Becks and Donovan will be flying high. It'll be a good to great game, but I'm going with the fairy tale ending of:

MLS CHAMPIONS: Los Angeles Galaxy

I'll also guess this:
ALL-STAR GAME: MLS beats Celtic
US OPEN CUP: Houston Dynamo over New England Revolution

Take it to the bank!

(well, not so fast. Remember how I did on my Oscar picks-50%-and my Champions League picks-63%)

Whatever happens, it'll be an awesome season. New team. New stadiums. Sponsors on the front of jerseys. TV rights paid by Disney, FSC, and Univision. Every game on the national partners and Direct Kick.

I cannot wait!

Be seeing you!

Good News (Happy, wait, Happy Halloween!)

So the miscarriage that we cried about a month ago didn't actually happen.

And the pregnancy we found out about Saturday? The wife is eight weeks along.

Who knows how it all happened, but it did.

So November 1st our second child is due. With the c-section, it'll probably be closer to the end of October.

We don't know for sure, but thus far my wife says based on the first pregnancy that she thinks it might be a boy.

Stay tuned for the coolest boy name you'll ever read on the net.

Be seeing you.

Monday, March 26, 2007

The Week That Was

And this is....well, read the damn title again and figure it out.

SUNDAY-Some great action from Planet Football. As I stated in my last post (way back when) my weekend footie viewing consisted entirely of English Premier League action. Thanks to Fox Soccer Channel and Setanta Sports, I had nine of the ten games on the DVR. Sunday, Number One Son and I watched Manchester United beat Bolton Wanderers 4-1 at the Reebok. Great result to keep us on top o' the table for another week. Also watched, over the course of the day and night, Chelsea beat Sheffield United three-nil to keep the pressure on, West Ham United beat Blackburn Rovers two-nil, Liverpool draw with Aston Villa nil-nil, Middlesbrough beat Manchester City two-zilch, and Reading draw Portsmouth with nary a goal in sight. These bled over into...

MONDAY-Watched a few of those on Monday, but don't remember the exact order. Also on Monday, I watched Charlton Athletic beat Newcastle United two-nil and Tottenham beat Watford.

TUESDAY-Everton beat Arsehoe one-nil late on. Speaking of Arseholes, the wife came down with some mild diarrhea. By the by, the only EPL game I didn't get to see was a Fulham-Wigan Athletic draw. A great four days of football action.

WEDNESDAY-Wife was feeling better, but now I had the mild diarrhea. Also called in to help out my co-workers with a reset. Nice that they took me to lunch first, but not so nice that it was a greasy spoon. I like greasy spoon usually, but not when the burger and my asshole is running a race. My company is the bitch of Kroger's. We have to go in there, reset their entire ice cream section by ourselves (most resets have reps from various companies, not just one), and every year I've done it we've lost space. So we go in there and literally hand over our space to companies that don't even have to help. Sad.

THURSDAY-Wife back to having diarrhea, more violent this time. Coupled with a cramping right above her tummy. Not fun. Number One Son is basically down to a parent a day at this moment. But he's flexible.

FRIDAY-Right around midnight, it hit me. While the family slept, I got what my wife had. Horrid diarrhea! A knotting cramping feeling right above my stomach! I was up all but forty minutes all night long. Worst night I've ever had. I sleep in the altogether, but had to wear undies to make sure that if an accident happened, it would be on me and not the sheets. I would get up, spend some time on the toilet, than come back to bed doubled over holding above my stomach. Roughly three minutes later, I'd repeat the cycle. The rest of the day was a touch better. I didn't have the runs so much, but had the constant feeling that something was coming. You know, when you're not sure if it'll be a fart or a turd coming out, so you hold it in all day long. No fun.

SATURDAY-Feeling better. Zip through a work day and spend the rest of the time with the family. A good day. Wonderful weather. Seventies. Spend a lot of time outside with Number One Son.

The highlight of the day is when the test comes back positive.

That's right, Mrs. Ole JC is preggers! Child number two on the way!

I know the experts say keep the news a secret until the first trimester is over. But we've always believed in being optimistic. Keeping it secret seems to be giving in to negative thoughts that something will happen. We announced our first pregnancy right away, and we've done so with this one.

With a miscarriage last month, I'm positive this will be a great, healthy pregnancy.

Not sure when the child will be due, as the doctor visit isn't until Friday. But we're guestimating around Thanksgiving.

SUNDAY-Just a wonderful day. Number One Son took pictures with his cousins in the morning as a Mother's Day gift for grandma. Than some great time outside in the sunshine.

A wonderful ending to a stinky week.

Be Seeing You.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Back from the Pork Induced Coma

WHAT I'M LISTENING TO: Soundtrack to "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind". Great stuff, especially Beck's piece and the instrumentals of Jon Brion.

WHAT I'M WATCHING: Started Babel last night with the wife. Taking a TV break before a huge football weekend. I've got all nine English Premier League games from the weekend set to DVR. The run up to the title is on! I want to see the title contenders fight for points, as well as the relegation zone clubs.

WHAT I'M READING: David Carradine's "Kill Bill Diary". Great films, and a good read.

Well, I'm back from my near death-by-pork experience. Was not fun. I'm pretty sure 80% of my arteries clogged up. A heart attack could be right around the corner. Just a few quick thoughts before a weekend with the family.

1. Finally saw Zodiac last Sunday. Awesome film. I'm a big admirer of Robert Graysmith's books on Zodiac, and this movie is probably the single best adaptation of a non-fiction piece I've seen. Great acting, great directing. Just awesome. Really got the viewer involved in the hunt for the killer, and the 158 minute running time flew by. Mrs. JC also really liked it. I can't recommend it enough.

2. Read Tyler Drumheller's "On the Brink". It's an awesome indictment of Bush & Co's handling of Iraq. Want the facts from somebody inside the CIA at the time? This is the book.

3. A lovely week. Highs in the 60's and 70's earlier in the week. It's back down in the 30's for the weekend, but the snow has all melted away. Spring is just days away!

4. Time change came Sunday. Seemed to reak some havoc on Number One Son for a few days, but he's back to a good night sleep now.

5. I didn't know the guy personally, but I find it hard to believe that St. Patrick would be all that happy that his big day means nothing more to most Americans than getting wasted on colored beer.

6. Could there be a promotion for your faithful blogger? More to come.

7. March Madness is here. Big whoop.

8. Man United has a huge game tomorrow against Bolton in the EPL. Need to get the three points and keep the pressure on Chelsea. As they say, it's the business end of the season, and Man U needs to take care of business. While still realistically involved in the hunt for another treble, the title I want most is the Premiership. Sir Alex leading the charge over the billionaire club would be an incredible win.

9. Anybody else into UFC? Me like it.

10. A brief bit on resolutions before calling it a day. I made a few for 2007. What I don't understand is why so many people feel like they have to do them all right away in the new year. I made a resolution to give up caffeine, and started on January 1st. It's gone great. I drink Sprite or Sierra Mist or water now. Actually, whenever I can, I drink Sprite Zero or Sierra Mist Free. No caffeine, no calories, and no sugar. I resolved to find a new job. The hunt is on, but I don't feel a need to have a new job by January 2nd. I resolved to lose weight/run more. Started regularly running fifteen to twenty minutes on the treadmill just this week. But that's okay. It's a resolution for 2007 of things I want to do before the year is over. Take it one resolution at a time, and I'll be more succesful at them.

Gotta run and eat some fish. But I'll be back.

Be Seeing You.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Thoughts Whilst Recovering from an Overindulgence of Pork

WHAT I'M LISTENING TO: A lot of "Had a Bad Day" because it's the only song Number One Son appears to like. He sings along with the chorus, which is cool.

WHAT I'M WATCHING: A few minutes of The Office (rerun, blah!)

WHAT I'M READING: Same damn thing. It's only been a few hours, people.

So I ate a lot of pork today.

I'm talking a lot.

Too much.

Belly-growing-as-I-sat-there too much.

The wife surprised us with some BBQ tonight from a new BBQ ribs place that opened up about a mile from us. Double T. The "T" in this case stood for "Toodamnmuch!"

I literally ate pounds of BBQ ribs today, people. The equivalent of a human head. I wasn't even thinking about it. Unlike so many rib tip places, they had a lot o' meat on each tip. I was in heaven. Some rib tips in a tangy mild sauce (because my tummy is a pussy), some fries, and some slaw. Slaw, baby!

So I went to town. We ate while watching Monday's new episode of "Heroes". Sidebar-I'm still waiting for cheerleader Claire to take that shower. She's a cheerleader. The girl's gotta get dirty and needs to clean off. Just show us this and I'll move on. Or a strip search. There was a perfectly legitimate strip search scene waiting to happen in an airport, and they just let her board that plane. It don't make sense.

Back to the eating. About six pounds in, I noticed that my DC United jersey no longer fit. But did that stop me? Nope. Cut it off my bulbous belly and tucked it betwixt my third and fourth chins like a child's bib and kept on going. Number One Son just stared at me with his mouth agape, slowly pushing his own plate of food away. My sensible wife ate a nice portion than put the rest in the fridge for lunch tomorrow (and Saturday, and Sunday, and Monday, and Tuesday, and everyday up until the end of Lent-a lotta food, I'm telling ya).

As the button on my pants shot off and left a sizable circular hole in the wall, I finally reached the end of the meal. No more pork to be had. Sauce dribbling down my chin like a gay guy after pleasuring his boy toy, I noticed Charlotte the Spider on her web in the corner, explaining to my wife how Wilbur had gone missing and wondering if we'd seen him.

I was done. Now I must swear off food for Lent, and I don't even consider myself a Catholic.

"You've lived a good life, Father O'Flannery, but it says here that you a T-bone on Friday March 16th. To Hell with you, sir!"

Some other random thoughts while waiting to die:

(1) My gay friends must hate me. Heck, my straight friends too if we're counting. But let's focus on one minority at a time. I'm not the most subtle friend they've got. Talked to my gay pal yesterday on the phone and after he related a casual sex story (minus the gory details) I asked if he was pregnant.

Back in the day when my gay pal Flapjack lived in town, I would often open conversations with "So, suck any big dick lately?"

And I frequently show them my wedding ring and taunt them in a childish sing-song voice "You'll never get married! You'll never get married! The Christian Right won't let you! Na-na-na-na-nuts on chin".

Okay, I don't do that last thing. But I might have to one of these days. Sounds like it'll be fun for all.

One thing I'll never understand about gay sex is this: how can guys enjoy it? It hurts me when I force a turd out the shit chute, and those are usually small. I don't even want to know how bad a stiff cock up the arse feels. Many women say they want a well-endowed man. If I were gay, I'd be looking for the fellow with the smallest dick possible. "You wanna come back to my place? That all depends. Are you hung like a newborn?"

Of course, they tell me that you get used to it. The anus eventually becomes loose. That doesn't sound pleasant to me. I don't want to drop a deuce sideways and not have it hitting flesh.

(2) Why do companies bother with references on applications or resumes anymore? Who's really gonna put an iffy reference down. "You wanna know about Chuckie boy? Yeah, I worked with him. Laziest piece of shit this side of Reno. Only thing he was good at was milking the clock."

Who even bothers to check these anymore. I don't want anybody calling me last employer. If I'm unemployed, chances are they fired me for incompetence or I quit because they were all assholes. I don't want some asshole being the make-or-break for getting another job. If I have a job, I certainly don't want to advertise to my current employer that I'm looking to leave. That's a wise career move. Time to play the game.

What the up with references?

(3) Ever take a dump for so long that your ass cheeks go numb?

Maybe that's just me.

(4) After eating a torso's worth of pork, I'm thinking about having a slow churned ice cream bar. Half the fat, 1/3rd the calories.

That should balance out the eight pounds of meat I had for dinner.

(5) Back to the topic of gay guys. Why are so many right wingers surprised by the gay man's libido? These are guys afterall. Guys think about sex all the time. They don't always get sex because maybe the woman is not in the mood. Now take the woman out of that picture, and you've got two horny guys thinking about sex all the time.

Gee, I'm shocked that gay guys do it a lot. So different from us straight ones.

(6) All apologies to Monty Python, but there is no number six.

I must go rest my weary head now. My body is worn out from having to digest a small pig.

Be Seeing You.

Three out of Four Ain't Bad (for me)

WHAT I'M LISTENING TO: Stuck on "Swan" by Uncle Bob right now. Good song to stick on.

WHAT I'M WATCHING: Just finished my Champions League round of 16 games, so nothing at this moment.


Well, the round of sixteen is officially done now. I was at 50% on my predicts going into Wednesday's action. Here's how it turned out:

Arsenal 1
PSV Eindhoven 1
AGG: 1-2 for PSV

Bayern Munich 2
Real Madrid 1
AGG: 4-4 with Munich going through on away goals

AC Milan 1
Celtic o aet
AGG: 1-0 to Milan

Manchester United 1
Lille 0
AGG: 2-nil for United

So, I got three of the four correct (Man United, Bayern, & Milan) which isn't too bad. Out of the eight series, I got 5 out of 8 right. Damn you PSV, Liverpool, and Roma!

So these eight are through to the quarter-finals:
PSV Eindhoven
Bayern Munich
AC Milan
Manchester United

The draw is Friday, so it will be interesting to see the matchups. Of note is that both of last year's finalists go out in this round (Barca & Arsehole).

Got a few inches of snow on Monday, but I think winter is slowly fading away. Nice and sunny today, and warm enough to roll down the window a tad. I'm confident that if it does snow again, it'll just be a dusting. I feel safe in saying that the snow blower is done for the season.

A big weekend for some major Euro derbies. Real Madrid v. Barcelona, Inter Milan v. AC Milan, and Celtic v. Rangers. Huge. Add in the FA Cup quarter-finals, and you've got one helluva football weekend.

Looks like Mrs. JC and myself will be heading to the picture show on Sunday, first time this year. Zodiac is on the agenda, and I gots to see it.

Speaking of film, for those who care about the Jeff Awards, there are 14 down and 86 to go. I'm guestimating to finish up sometime in August.

Back soon with some controversial topics!

Be Seeing You

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

A Little Game

WHAT I'M LISTENING TO: A lot of "Samson" by Regina Spektor. Also, a wee bit o' "In this Heart" by Sinead O'Connor.

WHAT I'M WATCHING: Champions League, duh. Actually, waiting for todays games to start in a few hours, so might peruse some UFC 52 (that's Ultimate Fighting Championship).

WHAT I'M READING: Just started "On the Brink" by Tyler Drumheller.

For those keeping tabs, my 50% prediction rate is still going strong.

Results of yesterday's Champions League games:
Chelsea 2
Porto 1
AGG: 3-2 for Chelsea

Lyon 0
Roma 2
AGG: 2-nil for Roma

Inter Milan 0
Valencia 0
AGG: 2-2 with the away goals meaning Valencia advance

Liverpool 0
Barcelona 1
AGG: 2-2 with the away goals meaning Liverpool advance

So Chelsea, Roma, Valencia, and Liverpool are in to the quarter-finals. I had predicted Chelsea and Valencia, but missed the other two.

We'll see how I finish up today. I'm guessing, based on the Oscars and these second legs, that it'll be around 50%.


Time to play a new game here at the blog. A game I like to call...

What the fuck?

Today's game is What the fuck...ever happened to Billy Ocean?

The guy wasn't the biggest selling artist of the 1980's, but he had some pretty big hits, and some good tunes.

Now I hear absolutely nothing about him. Did he die? Is he in a coma? Or did he just say "I've made enough money, screw it all I'm gonna retire!" Is Billy Ocean sitting on his own private tropical island somewhere staring out at the ocean laughing like a giddy school girl?

I want to pull a Billy Ocean! I want to just call me boss up and say "I've had enough of ice cream and humans. I'm done. I'm doing an Ocean, broheim!"

Of course, with our current finances and having a mortgage and a child, I'd only be on that magical beach one hour before heading back to the States to find a new job.

Oh well. When I've got the talent of Billy Ocean, I can do a Billy Ocean.

Until then, I'm just here playing What the fuck.

That's it for the first game. Stay tuned for more, America!

Be seeing you.

Monday, March 5, 2007

It's (Almost) the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

WHAT I'M LISTENING TO: "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" by Santa Esmerelda. If that opening minute doesn't get you rocking, you have no soul, and I will come to slap you.

WHAT I'M WATCHING: Just finished "Jaws: the Revenge" yesterday, because I absolutely hate myself.

WHAT I'M READING: Just finished the most recent issue of "Inside United" magazine.

A few quick thoughts as we recover from Mrs. JC's birthday and the social event of the year.

1. Had a loverly March 1st with the missus and Number One Son. Took her out to dinner at the place of her choice (Red Lobster for the seafood lover in her). Had her favorite birthday cake (angel food cake with Cool Whip topping) and let her (finally) open her gifts. Bought her all five seasons of the TV series "Angel". She's a huge Buffy fan and finds David Boreanaz to be hot (I don't personally see it, but what do I know about hot guys anywho). It's a gift that will keep on giving.

2. Saturday was the Social Event of 2007. My brother-in-law (finally) got married to his long time companion. Not the gay kind, but the female kind. BIL and his lady began dating on March 4, 2000, just two short months after my wife and I met. They finally got engaged last year. I still swear it had something to do with his girlfriend graduating and becoming a (six figure earning) pharmacist, but my wife insists that it's love. So did the pastor doing their wedding, as he boldly stated "have you ever seen two people more in love?". To which I thought yes (a) my wife and I and (b)my brother and his right hand.

I kid, I kid.

He did say it though. At least, I think it was the reverend, as the view of everybody in the church was blocked by the wall of people in the bridal party. I counted sixty three bridesmaids before losing interest (actually, there were only eight bridesmaids).

After the wedding came the reception. Food was good, so I enjoyed it. I'm a food guy. The best kind of food? Free. Seriously. You'll never hear me complaining about free food. Chicken? Good. Free chicken? Very good. Pork? Good. Free pork? Very good. Those little red potatoes? Good. Free those little red potatoes? Very good.

Ya gettin' the picture yet?

Mrs. JC enjoyed the champagne quite a bit. She never reached the drunken stage (as I've been told that involves table dancing and the baring of the breasts) but was much more social than normal.

In the end, a good time was had by all. We even made it home safely after driving through what seemed like two hundred miles of backwoods roads covered in snow at a safe speed of twenty. It's always nice when you can't tell if your on a road or in Farmer Bob's field.

3. Saturday was made better because Manchester United got a one-nil win over Liverpool in the a.m. to stay on top of the English Premier League. First loss at Anfield all year for 'Pool. Man U are now down to the final nine games of the season.

4. Tuesday and Wednesday are the second legs of the Champions League Round o' Sixteen. I've already made my predictions (and judging by my Oscar picks, you might want to put big money against them). Should make for some good viewing:

TUESDAY: Chelsea v. Porto (Setanta 2 pm LIVE)
Lyon v. Roma (Setanta 5 pm Delayed)
Inter v. Valencia
Barcelona v. Liverpool (ESPN2 2:30 pm LIVE)
WEDNESDAY: Arsenal v. PSV Eindhoven (Setanta 2 pm LIVE)
Bayern Munich v. Real Madrid (Setanta 5 pm Delayed)
AC Milan v. Celtic
Manchester United v. Lille (ESPN2 2:30 pm LIVE)

In case you are too bored to scroll down and look, these are the eight I think will advance: Chelsea, Lyon, Barcelona, Arsenal, Bayern Munich, AC Milan, Manchester United, and Valencia.

Based on the first leg, I think the Munich-Madrid clash will be the game to watch.

5. Last, but not least, the title of this posting refers to this past Friday, when I did my annual ordering of the Major League Soccer Direct Kick sports package. For the low, low price of $79, I will get to watch 125 MLS games this season (beginning April 3rd and finishing up at the Cup on November 18th).

And DirecTV has this cool option where you can pay in four easy installments, which is nice. Or, as the great Mitch Hedberg would say, three easy installments and the last one will be a bitch. But I don't think they'll charge me in wampum.

Be Seeing You.