If you'd offered me a 2-3 defeat to Brazil in the final at the beginning of the tournament, I would've taken it and run.
Which isn't to say that he doesn't deserve what criticism he gets for starting Beasley in the first match against Brazil (when it was obvious to anyone who watched the past couple qualifiers that Beasley is way out of form and shape) and playing Sacha a bit much (and I say that as someone who is a big Sacha fan, when he is in form -- but its hard to imagine that Torres, who starts at holding midfield for Pachuca, would be a worse choice to replace Feilhaber than Sacha). I have no idea what Conor Casey is about, but its clearly not tackling, passing, dribbling, shooting, running, or challenging for the ball.
But 3-0 Egypt, 2-0 Spain, and 2-3 Brazil is a fantastic series of results that no national team would rightly be aggrieved with. What Brian Phillips said (in the first comment).
"It will be an advantage for Spain because they will have had an extra day's rest and the more you rest, the better you play. Egypt beating Italy and the US qualifying, those have been the surprises. I do not think there will be others."
I would imagine Luis is rather less certain of that now.
The college career of Sam Witwicky, the earthly hero played by Shia LaBeouf in the Michael Bay sequel Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, lasts exactly two days. This is not because--as some of us might have forecast--he immediately flunks out, but is instead due to a summons from intergalactic robot chieftain Optimus Prime, who asks him to aid the Autobots and humanity. (The Autobots, you will recall, are the friendly robots who turn into cars. The Decepticons are the angry robots who turn into jet planes, mostly.) Sam wants to stay in school. "I'm a normal kid," he moans, "with normal problems."
This is easily the funniest line in the movie. Even allowing for his relationship with a talking Chevrolet Camaro, Sam is not living a typical existence. His life is what Bay imagines regular people live, which means it is bigger and better than anything you and I have ever experienced. Sam is dating Megan Fox, and as soon as he sets foot on a university campus, he is accosted by gorgeous members of the opposite sex, who want to molest him. Then the robots come calling. The only person who responds to the androids like a normal kid would--that is, by shrieking and crying--is Sam's roommate (Ramon Rodriguez), and the other characters grow annoyed and Tase him.
Conor Friedersdorf continues his lonely battle against extreme political rhetoric at the temporary Atlantic Ideas blog; I summarize that post, which I endorse, as saying:
When you make an argument about hidden motivations that (a) lacks external evidence and (b) conveniently coincides with your existing biases, then it is more likely that the argument and your conclusions are attractive to you because they confirm your biases than that the argument is correct. This has less to do with the specifics of the cases quoted and more to do with a general rule about examining one's own motivations.
free darko is doing something that I didn't think was possible: giving me reason to be interested in the NBA. Which, I suppose, does make some sense, despite my general hostility towards the NBA. I've long thought that basketball and soccer are remarkably similar sports. Yes, there are the obvious points of difference: the small, enclosed court vs. the large, open pitch, hands vs. feet, net vs. goal, goaltending as a foul vs. goaltending as a virtue necessitating the only the specialized position directly recognized in the laws of the game, lengthy timeouts which mock the official clock vs. the sport which accepts no delay of game.
But the similarities are more fundamental. The referee exerts a remarkable degree of sway over the outcome of the game, leading to the formulation of conspiracy theories plausible and implausible. Players simulate fouls and injuries to earn phantom decisions, infuriating many but praised by others for their gamesmanship. The artistic genius, the one who presides magiestrially over the chaos of the game, creating structure and order through both imagination and athletic prowess, is the most highly praised character, whether his name is James or Messi. Unlike, say, baseball (easily reduced to a series of individual moments which have clearly good and bad outcomes), basketball and soccer games turn on pivots that are invisible in realtime (except to those players with the instinctual intelligence required to discern the structure of the game as it is unfolding) and are remarkably difficult to quantify afterwards. Even in the more mundane characteristics, the structure of the sport as expressed by leagues, marketers, and cash flows, the two darkly mirror one another: in basketball, the world gradually is adopting a quintessentially American sport, with the best and most-expensively-paid players gravitating to a single American league, while soccer, the sport which most wholly belongs to the world rather than a single country, is growing in popularity in America, but the best players gravitate to a series of highly competitive, well-paid European leagues.
All that aside, my point is that, if you enjoy extremely sharp but slightly off-kilter writing and have even a modicum of interest in basketball, you ought to be reading free darko. Though if you fit that profile, you probably already are.
This song is way better than it has any right to be.
Saw Dirty Projectors (immense) last night with TV on the Radio (not bad). Haven't been that blown away by a live show since the first time I saw His Name is Alive. If Merriweather Post Pavilion was the album of the year back on January 5th, surely its not to early to settle on Bitte Orca as album of the decade?
[for a limited time, stream Bitte Orca at NPR]
Jess pointed me to this article on Slate which catalogues single-post users of Twitter; the lone posts range from the cryptic ("pmosterday Director of Advancement 12:55 PM Nov 20th, 2008") to the useless ("kttheet Wearing a gigantic t-shirt (2XL). 9:56 PM Apr 22nd, 2008") to the somewhat poetic ("mundial marching backwards toward the source of the four winds 9:45 AM Jul 17th, 2007").
Since everything on the internet should have a winner, I nominate DouglasAllen:
"I am writing an email to the makers of Spray N Wash to thank them for making a product that got the blood stains out of my new PJs and robe. 7:40 PM Aug 27th, 2007"