Sunday, April 29, 2007

On Turning 33

WHAT I'M LISTENING TO: A mix-CD of mostly Sigur Ros tunes, sprinkled with some others.

WHAT I'M WATCHING: Soccer, of course, but also a wonderful PBS Bill Moyer's special called "Buying the War" about the so-called liberal media's failure to do their job in the run up to Iraq. If you can catch a replay, do so. It's damn good.

WHAT I'M READING: My "Inside United" magazine subscription finally started coming to the house again, after a strange two month delay.

Tomorrow I will be turning 33 years old. Thirty-three long years on this planet. It's been a pretty good run so far. I've got no real complaints. A college graduate. Found the love of my life and married her. Have a wonderful son and another on the way this Fall. Plus, I enjoy the soccer.

Have I accomplished all my goals? No. I still want to have a career as a writer. Getting paid to do something I love. I still want to do some traveling, especially with the wife. She deserves to see the world. I'd love to see my beloved DC United in person at their own stadium, or go to Old Trafford to see United play. I'd love to see Europe, or more importantly, Hawaii.

I'd love to never see snow again.

It'd be awesome to make enough money at my job so that the wife didn't have to work again. There's a part of me that feels a failure to them that my wife has to work and my child has to go to daycare. They should be at home, together.

But I haven't given up on any of those dreams. I believe that it will happen. I got a lot of hope, and hope don't cost a thing.

I plan to work harder at achieving those dreams in year thirty-three. Time to get out of the retail world and get a career going. Time to spend more time writing, and finding agents to get my writing sold.

After 33 years, it's time to start living the life of my dreams. For my wife and children, and for myself.

Happy Birthday to me.

1. Watching the Ultimate Fighter reality series for the first time. Just really got back into UFC this past winter. It's actually an interesting show. Although I do feel that too many UFC-wannabees feel like they need to waste time acting tough rather than doing the hard work in the gym to actually be tough.

2. Well, DC United has played three games and lost three times. Not a good start. But as long as MLS has a playoff system, early season woes don't really matter. Remember last year, DC lost one time in the first 16 games of a 32 game season. But the time the playoffs started, they were a shell of that team, and didn't even get to the MLS Cup final.

3. Hard to feel bad about that, though, with Manchester United riding high. Five points clear at the top of the Premier League with only three games left (basically, the title is coming home). Plus, already booking a spot against Chelsea in the FA Cup Final next month. AND, with the 3-2 home win last week, they hold the edge going into the second leg of the semi-final series with AC Milan in the UEFA Champions League. A shot at the treble, again. No complaints there.

4. Still catching up on my season six part one of the Sopranos. Still a great show.

5. If you happen to run into my wife, please tell her that your wish to the Make-a-Wish foundation is that she allow me to open my birthday gifts today. She's been taunting me with them for about forty days now. (okay, it's only been three-but she always gets me awesome gifts, and it's hard to wait for it).

I'm starting a little list here on the ole blog of my MLS TV viewing for the season. I'm curious exactly how much I'm paying, total, for each game on the Direct Kick package. It costs $79 for the season, so we'll see if it truly is "The Greatest Value in Pro Sports".

So far, here's my list. First, I list the TV channel (DK stands for Direct Kick), than the number of games I've watched on that particular channel.

Fox Soccer Channel (FSC)-4
Direct Kick (DK)-12

So, as of tomorrow's game (April 30th), I've watched twelve games, or $6.58 per game. This is gonna be a helluva bargain, as there is still six months to go!

That's all I got for now.

Be Seeing You.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Quick Predix

Have to get my UEFA Champions League semi-final predictions in before the games begin tomorrow.

Again, these predictions are for the whole semi-final round, and not just the first legs.

1. Manchester United v. AC Milan
I go with Manchester United. It will be very tough, because Milan are tough to break down and really only have this one cup to play for now. United are stretched on three fronts, with only a three point lead and four games left in the EPL and being in the FA Cup final. Plus, injuries are hurting them. Saha, Ferdinand, and others.

But I am remaining confident that my club can do it, and keep the march to a second treble going.

2. Chelsea v. Liverpool
I go with Liverpool. Chelsea are also stretched on three fronts now. Chasing United in the EPL by three points, being in the FA Cup final also, and trying to win their first UEFA Champions League, the one that Mourinho really wants before leaving. But 'Pool always seem to have their number. Plus, they looked excellent against Barcelona, and much like Milan, this is the only thing they have left to play for. Same semi-final in 2005, and 'Pool won. I think they can do it again.

Both games are on ESPN2, with United- Milan Tuesday at 2:30 pm and Chelsea-Pool Wednesday at 2:30 pm.

Should be excellent first legs, so check them out.

Be seeing you.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Ten Best Lists

A long time ago, the beautiful wife asked me about my top ten films of all time.

After long thought, here's what I've come up with:

10. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1967)

9. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

8. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

7. The Thin Red Line (1998)

6. Akira Kurosawa's Ran (1985)

5. Schindler's List (1993)

4. Gone With the Wind (1939)

3. Seven Samurai (1954)

2. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

1. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

And, while we're at it, top ten songs of all time. Now, I'm not the biggest music geek out there, so the list is probably shabby to many:

10. Fade Into You by Mazzy Starr

9. God Only Knows by the Beach Boys

8. In This Heart by Sinnead O' Connor

7. Dogs by Pink Floyd

6. Under Pressure by Queen & David Bowie

5. Hey Jude by The Beatles

4. Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd

3. Imagine by John Lennon

2. Unchained Melody by The Righteous Brothers

1. Theme from Shaft by Isaac Hayes

I don't really have a list for books, but the best one I've ever read is

"Johnny Got His Gun" by Dalton Trumbo

TV shows?

10. M*A*S*H

9. Danger Man (aka Secret Agent)

8. The Office (British version, obviously)

7. Twin Peaks

6. The Prisoner

5. Monty Python's Flying Circus

4. NYPD Blue

3. Arrested Development

2. The Sopranos

1. Seinfeld

Any thoughts? I'd love to hear differing opinions.

Be Seeing You.

Best Week Ever

WHAT I'M LISTENING TO: "When it's Cold I'd Like to Die" by Moby. Beautiful song.

WHAT I'M WATCHING: A few things actually. Working my way through Season Six Part One of the Sopranos. Also, just finished "The Road to Guantanamo" last night.

WHAT I'M READING: "The Art of Happiness" by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

I just hope VH-1 doesn't sue me for stealing their title for mine.

Haven't blogged this past week because I've been busy having the best week in my short lifetime.

See, our Day Care Provider spent the past week in the Bahamas, suffering through the weather. So that meant Daddy got to take a week vacation to be home with Number One Son (isn't he cute? Check out the photo at the bottom of the blog too).

Monday we spent time playing outside and did the annual Spring Cleaning of the house. Tuesday we went to the library and spent time at the park. We also had lunch with Mommy. Wednesday was more time outside. Thursday Mommy was home with us, so we went back to the library and also spent time outside. Friday was running some errands, visiting Mommy at work, and trip to the park.

Today? Well, the lawn must be mowed for the first time this year. We have to do our weekly shopping trip. Of course, there will be time outside. And tonight, after the family is tucked in for the night, I'll watch some MLS Soccer Saturday action off the DVR.

When Daddy is home, Number One Son wants to be with me. I can't even get him to take a nap (which resulted in him falling asleep while eating dinner Thursday. So we spent virtually every moment from the time he woke up until he went to bed (except for Thursday when I had to share him with Mommy) together.

And it was fantastic. A glorious vacation. My best week ever.

Some Other Things:
(1) Big victory for Man United onTuesday. So, they maintain the three point lead with five games to play. Still have the game against Chelsea, who is doing the chasing after two years of walking away with the championship. But if United can win the four other games they play (today versus Middlesborough, plus games against West Ham United, Manchester City, and Everton) they'll be champions thanks to a vastly superior goal differential over Chelski.

(2) More kudos to Man United for a victory over Watford last Saturday that booked them passage to the FA Cup Final at new Wembley.

So, keep up now, Manchester United is in first in the Premiership, into the UEFA Champions League semi-final versus AC Milan, and in the FA Cup Final versus Chelsea. A shot at another treble for Sir Alex's men. It's been a great season, and the next month is gonna be awesome.

(3) Watched the newest James Bond this week. Maybe it's just me, but I have a few problems with it. See, I like the idea of "re-starting" the series and showing his first case as 007. But if you do that, why have Judi Dench playing M? She was M in the last Bond voyage. Now you are going back to the first one, and she's M also? Don't make sense to me. So what happened? Was she M, then she got replaced by the first guy, then he got replaced, then they brough Dench back? Or are we supposed to ignore the previous 19 films now? Also, if you are going to do Bond's first adventure, why set it in the present day? The Bond films have lasted for forty years, but they all tend to have a chronological look to them. Now we've got our first Bond adventure set in 2006, forty years after the events in Dr. No happened?

Outside of that, the movie was good. Not great. Not the best Bond by a mile, but good. I like Daniel Craig in the role, and look forward to what he does with it.

(4) DC United have started with two losses, but I ain't worried. The Black and Red will get back on track, and I still see them playing for that beautiful trophy on their home pitch come November.

Be Seeing You

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Four out of Four Ain't Bad!

WHAT I'M READING: "Happiness", a book of Buddhism.

WHAT I'M LISTENING TO: Mix CD's, with many different tunes.

WHAT I'M WATCHING: Tonight, it's the premier of MLS Primetime Thursday on ESPN2. Thursday nights are the new home of MLS on ESPN2.

...ring true!

I called all four quarter-final round series correctly.

1. Manchester United 8
Roma 3
2. Chelsea 3
Valencia 2
3. Liverpool 4
PSV Eindhoven 0
4. AC Milan 4
Bayern Munich 2

Just like I called them. For once, I'm basking in the glow of prediction perfection! It feels so good. Now if only somebody (besides my beautiful wife) was paying attention.

So that sets up a semi-final round of:
1. Manchester United v. AC Milan
2. Liverpool v. Chelsea

Still thinking over how I'm gonna call it, so my predictions will come soon.

Other stuff of note...
Not sure how I feel about Don Imus being fired. Yes, what he said was wrong. Yes, he deserved to be punished. But he was let go by his TV show and his radio show. Now the guy is unemployed. Was it really that bad? Does the punishment fit the crime? I'm not so sure.

It is highly hypocritical if any radio station that carried him now plays any song with offensive, racist type language, no matter what race the singer is.

And the public that cried out about this better start complaining to the music companies about the rap CD's that use language that harsh, and worse.

Any person of color who called for Imus' head this week better not be putting a CD with racist language in their stereo in the car.

It's fine if you think he deserved to be fired. But you should carry that anger across the board, and not just to some disc jockey who made a stupid, unfunny joke.

That's where this whole thing gets sticky. If we're gonna fire him for this, we need to be fair all over. And I don't think that's gonna happen.

Be Seeing you.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Some Random Thoughts from the Dung Pile

WHAT I'M LISTENING TO: A lot of "Had a Bad Day" and "Swans", as they are the boy's two favorite songs. He likes to sing a long, but there's hell to pay if you try and join him.

WHAT I'M WATCHING: Finished "The Ground Truth" last night. Watching the two Champions League games of the day.

WHAT I'M READING: Just got some books on Buddhism from the library. Not sure where to start.

Random Thoughts:

1. I'll never understand the love for American Idol. To me, the competition is flawed. The singers are not allowed to choose their own tunes, but are forced to sing from the songbook of other artists. If you have to sing funk that week, and you just can't do funk, it could knock you out. That's not what recording artists face in the biz. Nobody expects Justin Timberlake to sing heavy metal on his next album, because that's not his style. Also, I can only think of one past winner who actually is doing something in the music industry, and that's the first one. So millions have watched and voted for American Idol winners who basically go nowhere after winning. If they truly are THE American Idol, shouldn't they have some kind of career after it?

Not a reality show fan. Don't watch them. Never understood the Survivor phenom either. C'mon, if you are stranded on an island, you aren't going to go all "every man for himself" or even form teams. You would all band together to get off that damn island. Nobody is ever rescued and says "I survived because I screwed everybody else who was stranded with me". It's just dumb to me.

2. To me, there is no abortion controversy. In fact, there's a simple solution to decreasing the amount of abortions in the USA. It's called sex ed. Kids and teens who are taught proper sex ed will know how to use a condom, and the pill, and the morning after drug if necessary. When they do that, unwanted abortions are cut down significantly. Take a look at the facts. Holland is a nation with great sex ed, and also the lowest abortion rates on the globe (if memory is correct). It goes hand in hand. Telling kids to abstain is sending them out there unprepared to stop unwanted pregnancies, which lead to abortions, which the people pushing this nonsense on our kids claim not to want have happen. Simple logic would solve that problem.

3. Will also never understand the whole "ban gay marriage" mindset. Who really cares, in the end? How will two guys (or two gals) getting married really, REALLY effect the rest of America. Like my marriage will suddenly mean less because Johnny and Jimmy like riding each other's ass whilst all oiled up.

What's the big deal against homosexuality anyway? What actual harm do gay people cause us? What rights of mine are they trampling? If two guys next door like doing each other, it doesn't change anything in my life. Nobody has ever decided "Hey, I wanna smoke my pal's cock" because they saw a gay couple out in public. There is no evidence, nor is there anything you can say that will ever convince me that somebody decides to be gay. I never decided to be straight. I just found women attractive. I can look at a guy and see why women think he's handsome. But I in no way find him attractive. I see a beautiful woman, I enjoy looking. It just happens naturally. I don't find myself staring at a guy. I don't see how anybody could force themselves to do that. "I don't really think Lenny's good looking, but being gay is so cool and has so many benefits that I'll fool myself".

To claim that homosexuality is a choice is to say that one chooses to be straight also. If that's true, than we all have straight and gay traits inside. I just don't see it. Here at Dung!, when we smell bullshit, we say so.

I smells me some bullshit!

4. I'm trying to develop this more, but let me just toss out the small taste here.

There is a difference between ignorance and racism, and often we don't realize it.

Stay tuned for more on that.

5. Can somebody offer up any evidence whatsoever that Dubya isn't the worst president we've ever had. I'm glad I'm not a Republican, because I would hate to have to ignore all the facts to still defend him.

6. This is America. We're not that stupid (voting Bush in twice aside). So why do companies spend money on commercials with actors singing the praises? Has anybody ever been fooled by that? Do you buy a product based on what some actor says? I'm not talking famous either. I'm talking the unknown actors providing "testimonial" about how great product X is. "I love my Vonage phone" or whatever.

On a related note, why do beer companies even advertise? They are going to sell their product. Just like tobacco, people will buy it without a single TV ad. Yeah, beer commercials can be funny. But save the money. It's not necessary.

That's all I got for now. Man United and Roma are lining up.

Be seeing you.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

The Annual MLS Prediction 2: Revisions!

Well, I made my Major League Soccer season predictions last week. Turns out, I made one error. The playoff format.

I'm still standing by my picks for who makes the playoffs:
DC United, New England Revolution, New York Red Bulls, Chicago Fire

Houston Dynamo, Los Angeles Galaxy, FC Dallas, Colorado Rapids

Remember, it's the top two clubs in each conference, than the next four best point totals.

Now, here was my mistake. I thought they were going to seed the clubs one through eight in the bracket. I was wrong.

Once more, with feeling, just for my wife: I WAS WRONG!

No, they are keeping the conference playoff format. If one conference had more clubs make it than the other, they'd just move one club over to the other conference playoff bracket. Say three went in from the East, and five from the West, they'd move one West over to the East.

Get it?

Now, I think each conference will have four clubs make it, so it's not that big a deal according to my guesses.

Here's my revised playoff predictions:

#1 DC United v. #4 Chicago Fire
#2 New England Revolution v. #3 New York Red Bulls

#1 DC United v. #3 New York Red Bulls

#1 Houston Dynamo v. #4 Colorado Rapids
#2 Los Angeles Galaxy v. #3 FC Dallas

#1 Houston Dynamo v. #2 Los Angeles Galaxy
Now, in my original prediction I had this as the MLS Cup final, with the Galaxy winning. However, that was a different situation. I think in a one-off cup final at a neutral spot that the Galaxy would win. But a one-off conference final at the Dynamo's home stadium, I like their chances better.

MLS CUP 2007
DC United v. Houston Dynamo


Hate to jinx my club by picking them to win it all (for the fifth time, suckas!), but it's so very hard to repeat in MLS. Only one club has ever done it (hint-same team that will win it in 2007).

So there it is. Read it, weep, wipe your eyes, than chuckle at my thinking I can call the MLS Cup final three years in a row.

Be seeing you.

The Champ (League)'s here!

WHAT I'M WATCHING: Champions League today and tomorrow, but also some films. In the midst of watching an interesting documentary on Iraq War 2 vets called "The Ground Truth".

WHAT I'M LISTENING TO: A lot of The Decembrists, with their album "Picaresque". Interesting, fun music. Cool in an odd way. Check it out. Also rocking out to some Nine Inch Nails "Slightly Damaged". That song will get the blood flowing.

WHAT I'M READING: Just finished "I Killed" a book about comedians on the road. Very funny stuff.

Champions League quarter-final action starts today, with the first legs over the next 48 hours.

I failed to blog my predictions before actually watching the first game of the four, but I'm sticking with what I thought heading into today.

And again, these predictions are for the complete quarter-finals, not just the first leg.

1. Bayern Munich v. AC Milan
MY PREDICTION: AC Milan. I have watched the first leg, but sticking to my guns on this one. I think Milan only have the Champions League to focus on, with the point deduction punishment pretty much taking them out of the Serie A hunt on opening day. But Munich looked good here in getting the tie.

2. Liverpool v. PSV Eindhoven
MY PREDICTION: Liverpool. PSV impressed me by knocking Arsehole out in the last round, but I don't think they can do it again. 'Pool looked awesome in knocking out Barcelona, and I think they'll stay strong here.


3. Chelsea v. Valencia
MY PREDICTION: Chelsea. This is the toughest one to call for me, because under Mourinho, Chelsea have stumbled in the CL in the later stages. They could do it again. Yet in their current form, they just don't look like losing. It should be a very good contest.

4. Manchester United v. Roma
MY PREDICTION: Man United. C'mon, what kind of fan would I be to not go with my club? But seriously, I think they can do it. The recent rash of injuries have hurt them, but they are getting the results in the Premiership when they need them. Roma look good in the Serie A, but I'm sticking with my club.

There it is. A couple more blogs coming soon. Plus, a correction to my MLS predictions as I got the playoff format incorrect.

Be seeing you (soon).