30 June 2006
28 June 2006
So that's it. Australia's World Cup dream has come to an end. It's just as well I didn't post yesterday; I was too upset to make any sense. I'm more sanguine about it all now. But still. It's one thing to know in your head that we exceeded all expectations, got further than expected etc; but when you're 90 seconds away from the quarter finals and suddenly it slips away, it feels a bit different. Apparently many Australians feel the same, including John Howard, who says he's broken hearted. This is a big suprise, as no one thought he had one. Of course, there's always the naysayers, like this guy (I've noticed this trend more and more online lately - people can't seem to just ignore things they don't like or agree with, but have to be aggresively unpleasant about them. For those who say I do the same thing, well usually I'm joking).
Anyway, I'm going to turn my slightly-less-devoted attention to the rest of the Cup. Once again (as I argued about with someone), Spain have crashed out early on; I just wish it hadn't been the French who proved my point. I didn't have to think very hard about which team to "adopt" now that Australia is out - Argentina it is. I like their style, that's all. Also, who doesn't want to see them beat the Germans? It will be a game worth watching.
As for the Socceroos, we need to look to the future. Schwarzer says he's hoping to play in 2010 (by which time he'll be 38), but long before that we need to qualify for the Asian Cup. I'll definitely try to get along for one of the qualifiers, but I think our biggest concern right now should be changing the name of the team. What with the huge effort to get people to call the game football and not soccer in this country, the national team shouldn't be called the Socceroos any more. So what to call them? Well, it should follow the tradition of incorporating the name of a native animal...perhaps one that isn't being used at the moment. Let me be the first to suggest the Footypusses. Now there's a national team we can all be proud of.
26 June 2006
Well, thank goodness Big Brother - Adults Only has been axed. The kiddies can now grow up in a safer and more wholesome world.
For this we can thank those brave visionaries of Federal parliament, Family First's Steve Fielding and the Liberal's Trish Draper, who said Adults Only was rotting children's brains. Of course.
Now, I don't watch Adults Only because it's simply not my kind of thing, but I see no reason at all to ban it. The show is intended for adults. For a start, it's on at 9:40pm on a weeknight. If parents can't control what TV shows their kids are watching late on school nights, then they have far bigger problems than their kids seeing a few breasts and some swearing. But even so, the show has been pulled not because of demands from parents, but the demands of these politicians. And I do find the idea of MPs being able to directly decide what we can and can't see on television very worrying.
Not to mention, by banning shows like this (and in so much else of what they do) the message from these "pro family" groups seems to be that they don't actually trust families to raise their own kids right.
So what can we show on TV instead? Well, last night at 8:30pm I sat down to watch Law and Order: Criminal Intent; not as an experiment, but simply because I enjoy the show. The plot was based around a sort of Fifth Avenue Manson Family type group, and during that timeslot viewers saw a ligature strangulation; an abduction and drugging; and most memorably, a decapitated head in the freezer (and photos of the body which the head was removed from). All this was shown directly on screen, not just discussed or alluded to. Yet I'm not aware of anyone trying to get Law and Order banned.
Stop me if you've heard this before, but it never ceases to amaze me the extent to which violence in entertainment is okay, but sex is The Big No-No. On network TV you can show a man stabbing a woman through the breasts, but can't show the breasts themselves. Now, maybe this just says something about the mentality of the politicians who work themselves up trying to ban sex from TV and the movies, but getting into the Freudian implications of that is beyond me right now. If I had children, I wouldn't be happy about them watching a show like Adults Only, but rather that than a TV show featuring images of a woman who had holes drilled in her skull by a psychopath (as featured in the Law and Order episode that was on at 9:30pm).
Am I wrong or am I right?
23 June 2006
We're in, we're in, we're in, we're in!!!
Croatia 2 - Australia 2
Australia through to the Second Round!
I set the alarm for 4:55am, five mintues before the match was due to start (I knew if I set it earlier, during the pre-match commentary, I'd be tempted to hit the snooze button and sleep through the whole thing; this way, I had to get up). I dragged my doona into the lounge room in time to see the national anthems, then went into the kitchen to get a cup of tea, with the sound on the TV turned down low so I didn't disturb the neighbours. So I was shocked to return and see that Croatia had scored in the second minute! Some profanity followed. I didn't see that one coming. Nonetheless, early days yet and all that, and Australia had some great shots through the first half, until...38 minutes, and we get the penalty to level the score. Woo-hoo! Fists punched in the air. No screaming though (it seems too weird when you're watching on your own). Then, after a few missed chances, it was half-time. More tea and coffee followed; probably not a good idea.
Eleven minutes into the second half. Croatia take a shot at the goal. It should have been an easy save, but Kalac fumbles it and it goes through. "Schwarzer would have saved that" was all I could moan (and why wasn't he playing? Will look it up when I finish this). As Simon Hill, doing the commentary, said "that should have been a textbook save." All I know is, for the next few minutes, "You f**king muppet" was about the kindest thing I said about Kalac.
About this time, I made a bathroom visit (the coffee) and when I return, I realise it's the 70th minute. I felt...heartsunk. Really. I wasn't crying, I just felt my whole body sink. Okay, it wasn't over yet, but Australia had come from behind to beat Japan, come from behind in this game, and I just didn't think the magic could contine. I cursed Kalac (some more) and my heart nearly broke completely when they showed Schwarzer sitting on the bench.
Oh she of little faith. For just as I was looking away, Kewell scored in the 78th minute.
This time my hands stayed in the air for some 20 seconds, then began to shake, followed by the rest of me. It was ON. We had 12 minutes, plus extra time, to keep Croatia from scoring for us to go through. And although it flew by, I never want to experience a time as tense as that again. It was the most extraordinary period of football, which will probably be talked about for months to come, not least because of the bizaare refereeing (one of the Croatian players received 3 yellow cards but stayed on the pitch), but all I wanted was to hear that final whistle. And after a stomach churning few minutes with my nose pressed to the television, including a disallowed goal by Cahill, it came.
In a way, then end of the tension was so great I didn't stand up and cheer. Xander had been loudly demanding breakfast for some time, but I didn't want to move from in front of the TV. Now, I got up to feed him. But as I put his bowl out, I suddenly scooped him up and ran around the kitchen, jiggling him up and down, saying "We're in, baby! We're in!" He made no objection (he knows not to disturb insane people) until finally I put him down and he got his overdue food! Then I returned to the TV, and started to cry.
As the game ended, I opened the curtains on a miserably wet, grey winter morning. But in 20 minutes, the sun had come brilliantly out, and already it's a warmer day today than for quite a few weeks. We play Italy on Tuesday morning (AEST). Can we beat them? Why not?
22 June 2006
Okay, I have a confession to make. This World Cup blog thing isn't really working. For a start, I don't have enough to say, apart from comments like "Did you see that?" whilst watching a match. Really only relevant to Xander, who's the only one there at the time (and he doesn't often seem to care). Also, not that I'm obsessed with the numbers, but my stats are way down lately. So, I'm going back to my "normal" blog mode (a sort of disjointed mush of boring personal stories, misinformed politics, and cynical social comment...come to think of it, why were my stats higher before?) and will just write World Cup stuff as and when I feel like it. Which will definitley be tomorrow...
In the meantime, I'm experiencing Personal Crisis #2387: The Ageing! Because I only have two weeks in my mid-twenties left. After that I'll move into the dreaded late twenties territory. This all seems most unfair. No one asked me if I was okay with this, but there's not a damn thing I can do about it.
It's not getting old itself that I mind. I like having an excuse not to go places where the music is loud, not to mention not having to hide my AOR CDs. I'm not exactly interested in picking up, so I don't care if I lose my looks. I enjoy dinner parties and talking about real estate. No, the getting old part is just fine, and life now is a lot better than when I was a student living on instant noodles.
But at times like this you do tend to take stock of your life, and what I see is rather worrying. I feel I should have achieved more right now, or if not, at least have achieved something. My career is just kind of ooching along (The word "ooching" I've only ever heard as a Bushism, but it's the best I've ever heard to describe the situation. I have no major assets. And quite frankly I thought I'd be married by now - I do wake up with a gorgeous guy in my arms every morning, but he usually bats my nose with his paw and meows for his breakfast.
I guess it's all my own fault for failing to make any plans for my life when I was younger, but the problem can be summed up by this Simpson's dialogue:
Marge: When we got married, is this how you thought we'd be spending our
Saturdays? Driving out to the boondocks to trade in a refrigerator
Homer: Meh, I never thought I'd live this long.
(Are there many situations in life which can't be summed up by Simpson's dialogue?)
I can barely even make plans for my own birthday party. Boof and I are having one, and it will be a 90s party, but little things like confirming a date, actually inviting people, organising food etc all seem beyond us. Never mind. I'm sure it will be a lovely time anyway, even if it's left so much to the last minute that the festivities consist of sitting in the car eating packs of mustard...
20 June 2006
Of course, I'm disappointed by the 2-0 loss to Brazil. But we really did have their measure, and the score doesn't truly reflect the play of the game. We didn't exactly have the fairest of runs from the referee, but still, Kewell should have kept his mouth shut. Nonetheless, none of the players picked up anymore yellow cards, so we only need to draw against Croatia to win on Firday (AEST). However, even though I'd arranged to have the day off after every Socceroos game, through circumstances beyond everyone's control I will have to work Friday. As long as they understand when I send out memos that look like this: "3oriq chtuope56yhv806 wetipu sljh386**" because I've fallen asleep face down on the keyboard!
Apart from the win over Japan (obviously), my favourite match of the tournament so far was Argentina's 6-0 win over Serbia. Sure, a nail-biting finish can be an exciting game, but for a nuetral fan there's nothing like the beauty of watching it all come together for a superb team. I'm particularly taken with young Argentinian star Lionel Messi who happens to look uncannily like Neil Morrisey (Tony from Men Behaving Badly).
A couple of posts ago, I mentioned how misue of the term "literally" drives me nuts. Well I have another one: this morning on Sunrise, the host was answering questions emailed in by viewers, and came to one about how the World Cup second round works - would there be new groups of teams formed? The host replied, "No, the second round is virtually a knockout stage."
No, it is a knockout stage you sad fool.
Lastly, here's a question for all you boffins out there...
If Spain beat Ukraine 4-0, and Ukraine beat Saudi Arabia 4-0, then how much will Spain beat the Saudis by?
16 June 2006
Another collection of World Cup Humour. Enjoy!
Just five more days till Mexico v Portugal.
US reflects on its devastating first round loss
Amusing banter from the World Cup Blog (pity about all the ads though)
A nice little reminder not to cheat at the World Cup.
The World Cup has taught Cotard why Australia really is a country (and if you only click on one link from this post, make it this one)
So, how do we feel against Brazil on Sunday? Yes, history's not on our side. But stuff history!
15 June 2006
It's hardly an original observation that the World Cup (and all other major sporting events) have become grossly over-commercialised. Companies want to get involved in every way possible to promote themselves in a saturated media environment. But it slightly suprises even myself just how far it's going these days. Not just sponsorships - although currently in Australia you can even purchase official Socceroos deodorant in a green and gold can. But every media outlet is getting on board these days - from travel shows and foreign affairs programs with profiles on the countries involved, through to every news outlet carrying special reports - even though if you actually talk to people, alot of them really don't care. And of course, there are lots and lots of World Cup blogs. I'm not saying these people are insincere - and if anyone thinks I'm just riding the Socceroos hype on this blog right now, I have honestly followed football for years, and I can produce witnesses.
But it seems everyone wants their piece of the action, no matter how tangentially connected to any of it they are. There's a local paint shop which is running ads at the moment emblazoned with green and gold and the message "Come on Australia!" Their current promotion is that if you buy two 4L tins of paint, you'll receive a free gold football.
The football has nothing to do with FIFA, the FFA, the Socceroos or the World Cup. It actually has the paint company's own logo stamped on it. The ad doesn't mention football or the team at all, just alludes to it. There's no accreditation or connection here whatsoever. So who the heck is meant to be interested? What does a paint company have to do with football anyway? Nothing, of course. But I guess they figured they don't have to shell out for a sponsorship deal if they can grap a tiny glimmer of the reflected glory for free.
And that is why I think it's all going too far these days.
Sorry to go off-topic, but I just have to add one more item to my list of people I hate, because it's something that exercises me inordinatley: People who misuse the term "literally" to emphasise their point.
Recently I heard someone say that they are "literally a sitting duck at work".
My first reaction was to reply "Really? So it's an actual fact that you have a bill, and webbed feet, and are in a reclining position?" But of course I didn't say that. I'd be regarded with resentment by the person who said it, and as a smart ass by everyone else in earshot. People don't like it when you point out their mistakes. I don't know. Sometimes I think if people don't like being corrected, they should... stop being wrong!
14 June 2006
Well what else is left to say? (Sometimes I really hate not having net access every day. No, wait. I always hate not having net access every day). Until now, I rated the 1999 European Championship final as the most exciting game I've ever seen. But we have a new winner! In fact, it would have to be the most excting game any of us have ever seen.
Australia looked nervous at first (well, actually that's being kind. I heard a reporter the next day saying "Australia showed no sign of big match jitters", and I thought "Were we watching the same game? They were like rabbits caught in the headlights". And please put that lame metaphor down to lack of sleep). Then there was that unfair Japanese goal, which I won't even get started on because I'd never finish, except to say that I just felt so sorry for Mark Schwarzer - I can't even imagine how frustrated he must have felt.
Then followed a tense, and towards the end rather despairing, 60 minutes of stasis...
Until Tim Cahill scored twice, followed by John Aloisi, in the last seven minutes. If you were watching, you'll know exactly how I felt; if not, I can't really describe it. According to the wrap up in Crikey, no team in World Cup history has ever scored three goals in the last seven minutes. For an interesting perspective see Paul Wilson's piece from The Guardian...and the English fans' responses!
As for me though, I had to sleep...ironically this was easier because I wasn't working the next day, and had therefore been free to indulge myself through the match. I had intended to drink beer from each of the nations we were playing against during the respective matches, but decided against it because 1. Finding them could prove difficult; and 2. Because it meant I'd have to drink Japanese beer. When I got up on Tuesday, I kept watching the news over and over; I just couldn't believe what had happened and wanted to check. Also to be reminded. If you'd like to do the same, The World Game's spotlight on the Socceroos is as good a place as any to start...
For the first time since the Cup started, I actually had a beer-and-football-free night last night. I had to. I couldn't face any more alcohol, and knew that if I even caught the start of the first match, I'd still be in front of the TV at 2:30am. but I was up first thing this morning to get all the overnight results (and write them up on my wall chart!) including Brazil's very gratifying 1-0 victory over Croatia. This means that if Australia draws with Brazil on Sunday, we'll be...top of the group on goal difference! (Tim Cahill is actually top of the goal scoring table at present, but it's a bit early to say). Could we...top the group?!? Who knows!
11 June 2006
Yep, I'm throwing my not-inconsiderable weight behind any Australian bid to host the World Cup. Apart from all the obvious benefits, it will mean being able to watch the games at a reasonable time! I can't even tell you how tired I am - and it's only just started. I'm not sure if my brain (and liver!) are up to this.
The Opening Ceremony was pretty low key. I think that's as it should be. We're there for the game, after all, not to watch school children dressed as native animals run around to the strains of some band who had a top ten hit in 1987. It was moving to see members of previous winning teams walk out; but apart from that, the whole thing was over in about half an hour. There's some photos here if you want them (though if you were keen, I guess you would have seen it already, wouldn't you?)
Well, that got us straight onto the football! I have to admit, I've been dozing off during half time during the first match (and generally waking up with twenty minutes left of the last match). Still, there's been some suprises, such as the highest-ever scoring opening match (I predicted Germany would win 3-0, Rex said Germany by 4, but 4-2 took us all by suprise). And Paraguay last night saved us from the humiliation I feared Australia would suffer: the first own-goal of the tournament. Best of all, the English fans seem to be behaving themselves so far.
Although it doesn't really offer the team much encouragement, I decided I simply had to have a team t-shirt. So I went to the local sports store to get one, and let me tell you, people were going crazy. Anything you can think of that had an Australia logo, it was for sale and people were buying it. I'm sure that if there had been sealed jars into which the players had burped, priced at $129.95, people would have purchased them by the truckload. People were crazy in other ways too. I overheard this:
"What's the name of that guy? The head of the football with the funny name?"
"Oh yeah. HahaHA!"
Despite my lack of sleep I managed to get out of there with the t-shirt you see in the picture, without buying anything else, and aware that the President of FIFA is not named after a piece of useful domestic equipment. We'll see if it lasts...
09 June 2006
Yes, your favourite collection of humorous links, with a football theme in honour of the World Cup!
Some fun facts about the World Cup
The Onion's World Cup Predictions
Who says Australians don't take an interest in the world?
Well, I'm nothing like the stereotypical woman
Classic football "quotes"
The NY Times World Cup Fact-o-Rama
(I don't get it, but knock yourselves out).
Q: What does a Spanish fan do when his team has won the World Cup?
A: He turns off the Playstation.
Just (as I write this) 13 hours and 45 minutes to go!
08 June 2006
After all this time, it's now less than 36 hours until the start of the World Cup! Always an exciting time, but none more so than now, as Australia are in the finals for the first time since 1974 - long (well, not that long) before I was even born. I can't really say I've been waiting my whole life for this, but I've certainly been waiting since at least last November. So for the next few weeks, I'm - mostly - turning my blog over to the World Cup. However, as I did with the November post, I'm not going to provide match analysis, or team profiles, or anything of that nature; there are literally thousands and thousands of sites which will be far more revealing than my biased and uninformed commentary (I've but a button for the FIFA site on the sidebar for the duration) so I won't add to the fray. As before, this will just be one fan's perspective of the action, far from where it is taking place.
And I am ready! I have Les Murray's Official Guide to The World Cup, and the SBS Official Guide to The World Cup (with a foreword and commentary by Les Murray). I've got DVDs profiling the teams and host cities. A poster of the Socceroos on my loungeroom wall. I even bought a new TV. You've seen electrical retailers advertising new TVs ahead of big events, but never thought anyone actually bought one? Well, I did. (Okay, okay. I wanted a new TV earlier this year anyway, tired at trying to make out the old set's postage-stamp sized screen. But I wanted a lot of other things too. It was the upcoming World Cup that settled my debate as to which purchase I actually made). So I can watch the matches in 51cm flat screen pleasure (not a huge TV I know but enough for my small lounge room). I'm buying a selection of international beers to drink during matches - just to fully get into the spirit of things, you understand. And I've purchased extra back-up batteries for my alarm clock.
The alarm clock is the kicker here; due to the time difference between Australia and Germany, most of the matches are on in the middle of the night. It will be a formidable test of endurance. I've done it before - during France '98, I watched about half of the 64 matches played. But I was 19 then. When you're that age you have energy to spare, energy to burn, energy to study all night, go to uni the next day, then go to work for a few hours, then go out all night. It's terrible when young people waste their money on drugs - they don't need them! Anyway, although no one ever asked me how I felt about it, I'm not 19 anymore. I get tired just thinking about what 19 year olds do. Being out at 11pm is a late night. Also, I will tire easily for the rest of my life anyway.
Nevertheless, I'm determined to see as many games as possible. All of the Australian group matches, obviously - I've arranged with work to have the three days after those games off, and will make further arrangements if we get through to the second round. But I'd also like to see all the top teams in action, and am especially looking forward to the Mexico v Portugal clash (Oh, I'll kill myself if Portugal doesn't win).
It's exciting to have your own nation in the tournament rather than having to pick another team you have no connection with to support, just to follow someone. In 1998, under the influence of all the Premier League I watched at the time, it was the English - and no, I didn't hate David Beckham for lashing out against Argentina. (Not when there are so many other good reasons to dislike him). In 2002, I have to admit I barely noticed the World Cup at all - due to the horrible mess that was my life during the first few years of the milennium, I was barely aware of anything going on in the outside world, apart from the news (that's why I'm so hopelessly out of touch with music and social trends now - it's such a lot to catch up on, and I'm too old anyway). But now, Australia are IN! Okay, in a way most of the players aren't really Australian at all - and I'm not referring to their ethnic backgrounds, just the fact that due to the fact they play overseas, most of them haven't spent more than a few weeks at a time here their whole adult lives'. But still! We shouldn't let that get in the way of national pride. Anyway, if they do well, at least the ticker tape parade will be in Australia, and that's the main thing.
Well, I'd better leave it for now - I don't want to collapse from exhaustion before a ball has even been kicked just typing this post. Tomorrow I'll be trying something new here - the Football Friday Follies! Now let's just hope I can find enough good links...
06 June 2006
I've had an interesting lesson in internet (and comedic) misinterpretation over the last few days.
It began with my previous post. Perhaps I should have explained that the idea came from a similar post I read on someone else's blog, found at random, some years ago. That person had very different political views to mine, and basically said they hate everything I believe in. Reading it, I thought "That's amusing, I must write a post like that of my own one day." But I didn't include this explanation, believing that to get the full effect, it would be better if I launched straight into the tirade.
Then I made my mistake: I published a link to the post, again with no explanation, on a forum I post to semi-regularly. I hoped it would get people talking. Well it did, but not in quite the way I had intended. I was flamed to a toasty crisp. Somehow, and I can't quite believe it, people seemed to think I was writing about them, and were personally offended by what I said. People picked up on points on the list which applied to them, and shot back furious insults at me. The zenith (or nadir?) was reached when someone said that whilst they aren't a vegan, they respect vegans rights and decisions!
About there was where I lost it, laughing.
Imagine if I was offended in the same way. Yesterday one of the Big Brother housemates, Claire, said she votes Green because "she's not educated enough to make a decision". But wait! Several of my close friends vote Green. Is Claire saying my friends are uneducated? Well, I hope she's nominated soon so I can vote her out of the house!
But of course I didn't think that way, because that would be ridiculous. I can understand that it's not all about me...but that it is about the context. There is a venerable tradition of the tirade being used for comedic purposes. Whether or not my post was actually funny, it was never meant to be taken seriously. You can see from that list - I offended everybody. Someone posted that if that's the way I feel, they feel sorry for me, but if they can so badly misinterpret something, I really feel sorry for them. I can understand why writers get so fed up with critics who miss the point. If someone said a post was poorly written and the facts were wrong, I could understand. But to be misinterpreted is incredibly frustrating.
However, I'm not going to post this on that forum. When was the last time you heard someone end an argument with "Okay, now that I understand, I can see that I was completely wrong"? But I have learnt a lesson on how humour, and the tone of anything one writes on the internet, can be taken out of context and twisted into any shape the reader sees fit. I won't be posting links to the pod much from now on. (Well, unless I'm posting funny pictures, or talking about things in a completely up-beat way that no one could possibly take offence at. Lobotomy, anyone?)
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