Move Over Lloyd Christmas

In that great cinematic work, Dumb and Dumber, Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey) asked Mike Starr’s character, “Wanna hear the most annoying sound in the world?” And he proceeded to serenade him with what, at the time, was the most annoying sound in the world. Here’s the clip:

Well, suffice it to say, that sound plays second fiddle to the drone emanating from those ubiquitous South African “stadium horns”, vuvuzelas. That infernal noise was first heard by a worldwide audience during last year’s Confederations’ Cup. They were annoying then, and they are annoying now at the World Cup.

Opinion varies as to whether these horns are “annoying irritants” or “joyful expressions of African culture”, but at the risk of sounding dismissive of other cultures, they simply are annoying and irritating expressions of joyful African culture.

Whether it’s a South African, German or Mexican (below) providing the wind power, the noise produced is equally irritating. So much so that earplugs have become a hot item in South Africa. One might conclude that the vuvuzela was a clever scheme concocted by ear plug vendors, but I digress…

I took this pic after a México win at Reliant Stadium a couple of years ago, a match which proved to be my first exposure to the glorified funnels. As horrible as the noise is, it can’t take away from the beautiful game, especially at an event like the World Cup.

However, it would be a good if somehow Univision or ESPN found a way to filter out the vuvuzela noise, as the BBC is thinking of doing.

Here are a couple of observations from yesterday and today’s action:

  • The Germans have looked the best out of all the teams that have played so far. So effortless do the Krauts look, so crisp and pinpoint their passes are, are they not? They seem to have mastered the troublesome Jabulani (the official match ball), could it be because most of their squad plays in the Bundesliga, which used the Jabulani as its match ball last season?  Things that make you go hmmm…
  • Speaking of ze Germans…  How ’bout that rousing advertisement for globalization that their squad is?  The German National Team, dubbed Die Mannschaft (insert joke here), boasts a naturalized Brazilian, a son of Turkish immigrants, a guy named Gomez (born in Germany, has a Spanish father), 2 naturalized Poles (seems to be a running gag), another guy whose father is Tunisian.  Ol’ Adolf must be turning over in his grave…
  • What is it with Italy allowing headers from Latin American teams at the World Cup?  In ’02 it was México’s Jared Borghetti and today it was Paraguay’s Antolín Alcaraz who did the honors. Like in ’02 against El Tri Italy tied with Paraguay 1-1.
  • ESPN, I know that you learned from the last World Cup and hired good announcers to man your booth but you are still lagging behind Univision’s varsity, Pablo Ramirez and Jésus “El Profe” Bracamontes.  After Italy equalized today, Ramirez sung in Italian.  That is how you do it ESPN.  When a goal is scored don’t call it like it’s a throw-in, call it “with feelin'” as Jon Bon Jovi crooned.

Finally, on a totally unrelated not, you are very welcome Baylor.

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Clint Dempsey’s Strike: From Nac-Town with Love

Yesterday morning at the store, I ran into a friend of mine and he asked me what I thought the outcome would be of today’s England-US World Cup showdown. My response? A draw.

Can’t say that I called it because I didn’t predict a score. Even as my prediction rolled off my tongue, I thought about the feasibility of such an outcome and came to the conclusion that even a draw would be a victory for Team USA, given how loaded the English squad is.

While it would be best to leave the tactical analysis of the match to the experten, I cannot help but discuss Clint Dempsey’s equalizer.

Yes, English keeper Robert Green made the type of mistake which should never be made at the World Cup level or any level of soccer save Fun Fair Positive Soccer . However, not enough credit is being given to the Texan Clint Dempsey, the man who presented Green with the opportunity to embarrass himself, his family and his country before a captivated world audience.

Prior to firing the fateful shot, Dempsey had to break free, and he did so by juking English captain, Steven Gerrard, out of his expensive Adidas cleats. Here’s a shot from mid-juke, (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)


Es OK Esteven, there are embittered Mexican men in Nac-Town who feel your pain

Judging by the display, one might have thought that Dempsey must have learned these skills from Hakeem Olajuwon who as we can see in Exhibit A below, just abused David Robinson back in the 1995 NBA playoffs.

But no, Dempsey honed these moves in his youth while playing in Nacogdoches’ Mexican League matches. As is reported here, Dempsey,

…beat men more than twice his age, proud men from Mexico and El Salvador who’d throw you to the East Texas dirt for trying a fancy move on them.

And according to one of his childhood friends, one time Dempsey

“did some kind of weird trick—it was so awesome—and the guy got mad and spit in his face.”

Due to the fact that us Mexicans think fútbol is our game and not the Americans’, I can certainly understand the ire of the men he schooled.

It’s hard to swallow when someone beats you at “your own game”, just ask British columnist and America’s Got Talent judge, Piers Morgan who penned this:

I honestly can’t believe we drew with the Americans. Soccer is a complete non-sport in the US. It ranks somewhere below tiddlywinks in their national competitive psyche.

Now, Dempsey might have picked up a huge assist from the wildly unpredictable Jabulani but it is certain that the glorified beach ball had nothing to do with his dissecting of Gerrard.

Major props to Dempsey and the rest of Team USA for their win draw against a tough opponent. I do feel bad for Robert Green but I’d feel worse if he played for Colombia.

A Mexican’s World Cup Primer

No, it has nothing to do with Tequila shots or other such truck but rather a historical retrospective.

Mexicans get soccer fed to us in our baby bottles

I made this statement to an American friend a couple of years ago. Many will say that it is a generalization and perhaps be insulted by it. A Mexican-American chap who heard it certainly was and let it be known just how offended he was. The fact that he neither was born and spent most of his childhood living in México made his overreaction a little bit less credible.

My native land hosted the 1986 World Cup and I remember it vividly. Anyone remember the borderline offensive mascot, Pique?

[found the pic at:  http://degenerasian.blogspot.com/]

The memories are bittersweet because while Manuel Negrete’s strike made an indelible impression on my mind, the loss against ze Germans in the quarterfinals broke my young Tri-loving heart.

Over the years, we moved to America and my interest in soccer waned as it had to compete with American football, baseball and basketball. Yet every four years I was drawn to the world’s biggest sporting event, The World Cup. I have soaked in every WC since ’86, and followed especially close those in which my beloved Tri took part of. (All of them since ’86 except for Italy ’90).

I pined in ’94 to go watch them live but alas it was not to be. We are but 2 weeks away from the start of South Africa 2010 and like many of my compatriots living in all corners of the world, I am giddy with excitement.

Yet this anticipation is tempered by the ghost of México in World Cups past. Like many Mexicans I take a hopeful pessimism approach into each World Cup. Yes, the squad is a solid one with great potential but let us not set our sights too high.  Otherwise we will be disappointed if El Tri comes crashing down like cadet Juan Escutia at the Battle of Chapultepec.

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The Arm of God Haunts México

[Para Español no oprima el #1, nada mas haga click donde se termina el Ingles]

I was not able to watch yesterday’s México-England match in its entirety yesterday given the fact that this small thing called work kind of prevented it.

Thanks to Telemundo’s live streaming of the events, I did manage to catch a good chunk of the 1st half and about a quarter of the 2nd half. Kudos to Telemundo legend Andrés Cantor for dropping an f-bomb on live television. His partner, Sammy Sadovnik asked him what Mexican coach, Javier Aguirre, shouted at English captain Steven Gerrard.

Cantor obliged him by repeating Aguirre’s “Hey Steven, F*ck you!” Cantor thought the mikes were turned off, fail. Oh well, I guess the FCC doesn’t care since it is a Spanish station.

To the match…

It was good to watch El Tri go up against seemingly top-flight competition without throwing up all over themselves. That is, if we’re not going to consider the inability to defend set pieces and to put the ball in net (looking at you Carlos Vela) as examples of throwing up all over themselves.

México’s performance was tantalizing and typical of what happens when they go up against world powers (Though England hasn’t won a World Cup since 1966, they are still considered one of the world’s best, if not by merit then by tradition.)

El Tri created a myriad of scoring opportunities and yet failed to capitalize. If you want to beat good teams you have execute in front of the net. England? They had 2 corner kicks in the first half and scored in both. Granted, in the second corner English forward Peter Crouch was offsides and brushed the ball into the goal with his arm, but still.

Seeing the Frankenstein monster’s-like 6’8″ Crouch tower over my diminutive countrymen was hilarious but things would have been far more humorous and haunted if the Mexican contingent would have invited noted Mexican ref and Dracula doppelganger, Marco Antonio “Chiquidracula” Rodríguez (below)

Good teams (México is not there yet) find ways to maximize the opportunities granted to them, that they create opportunities should be a given.

I know it’s just a friendly, but the flashes of brilliance shown by the usual suspects up front, Gio and Carlos Vela, gave us Mexicans a glint of hope that maybe just maybe we might have the horses to get out of the frigging Round of 16 in South Africa. Then Vela blows 2 clear scoring chances.

Oh well, my beloved Tri has pined to be in that top tier of squads, and dwell in the lofty spires where Brazil, Argentina, Germany and Italy make their home. Unfortunately that is not currently the case as evidenced by the setting of this very match. This was England’s World Cup send off.

The host picks a “lesser” opponent to play in the send off match. Very much like homecoming in American football. For your homecoming, you schedule a team you know you’re going to beat. England had no doubt that it was going to beat México, hence the 3 lions scheduled my Tri.

That’s OK, until México shows that it can beat top-tier competition it will reside in the middle of the pack.

That said, I think they earned the respect of the Brits, or at least their journalists judging by some of the pieces I’ve read from their newspapers.

Here is a fine example of one from the Telegraph,

England 3 Mexico 1: match report

Up next for México? The Netherlands tomorrow at 1:30 PM.

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On Cinco de Mayo

Here we are again, May 5th and people throughout these United States will hold “Cinco de Mayo” celebrations. Some will ignorantly believe it is México’s 4th of July or even believe that this date means a great deal to us Mexicans, it doesn’t.

In all fairness, México doesn’t really have a “4th of July”. Yes, its “Independence Day” (September 16) marked the end of Spanish rule but only to be followed by subsequent American seizure of large tracts of land such as Arizona (isn’t it ironic?), California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Texas, as well as a brief French occupation.

On May 5th, 1862 near the city of Puebla, an inferior Mexican force beat a superior French force. It was significant due to the “David-Goliath” aspect of it and because my people were victorious in a battle. The only problem is that the defeat only delayed the inevitable French occupation of my native land and subsequent appointment of a hapless Hapsburg (Maximilian I, pictured below) to the throne of the newly minted Mexican Empire. In other words, México won the Battle of Puebla but lost the war.

(Museum of History, Chapultepec)

For this reason, most of México doesn’t make a big deal of this day. After all, who celebrates a victorious battle in a war which was ultimately lost? Not even my peoples, who look for small victories to revel in especially over hegemonic entities, have the non-sense to do this. It’d be akin to making a national holiday over the Battle of the Alamo. Yes, México won that “battle” but lost the war and Texas.

Emperor Maximilian I eventually was overthrown and to make a statement that foreign governance wouldn’t be tolerated, was sentenced to death by firing squad.

Perhaps as some sort of twisted joke, 139 years later, another Maximiliano, Maxi Rodriguez, would fire a shot (see vid below) that would avenge his namesake’s death at the hands of Mexican authorities, break the heart of the Mexican people and make the name “Maximiliano” reviled once more throughout the land.

Putin’s New Challenge(r)

Because counting coup with Siberian tigers and riding horseback bare-chested just don’t sate his virile appetite, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has received a worthy wrestling partner from the Iranians: a leopard.

Maybe Putin had to go into the animal kingdom for a worthy adversary because his wrestling (but not in that way) partner Russian President Dmitry Medvedev no longer provided a challenge.

Who knows what the PM is thinking? I do know that if Volodya ever wants to test his mettle against Chuck Norris I wouldn’t want to be within a continent and a half of such a clash.

The ABC story states, “Tough guy Putin is an unlikely environmentalist…”

Does this imply that environmentalists, as a general rule, are limp-wristed pansies?

As we do after every post centered on El Putin, here’s an oldie but a goodie:

The Spirit of Phil Hartman Lives on at Florida Tea Party

Yesterday was “Tax Day”, the day in which millions of people scramble like decapitated fowl to get their tax forms to their nearest post office.

Not coincidentally, various “Tea Party” groups chose “Tax Day” to express their discontent with our Federal government. I’ll leave the haranguing over the demographics to others.

While perusing through a gallery of shots taken at various nationwide demonstrations, here’s one of them:


[Photo Credit: Joe Cavaretta / AP]

Some may look at this and see an old man (possibly ex-military) telling some young punk that his slipper-wearing generation would have lost WWII, others might see this as an example of the uncivilized confrontations endemic to this kind of event.

Me? This pic took me back to the days when SNL was a must-see event. Remember the skit in which Frank Sinatra (Phil Hartman) slapped down an irreverent Billy Idol (Sting) with the epic line,

I’ve got chunks of guys like you in my stool!

Here’s the vid, the exchange begins at the 5:27 mark. Even a pro like Phil almost loses it after dropping the line.