Thursday, June 29, 2006

I must apologize for having let World Cup hoopla push the following story out of my forebrain: Mexico will elect a president on Sunday.

This could have a high level of significance. Basically, if the PRI candidate wins (not likely), it will return to power the party that ran the joint for over 70 years. If Obrador (of PRD) wins (a distinct possibility), it would mean aNOTHER leftish government in Latin America (everything's coming up izquierda lately, or somethin'), and aNOTHER one whose oil reserves give it the potential, a la Venezuela, to hold the USA by the shorthairs. A PAN win (possible), would mean more of the same ole same ole (Fox is from PAN): more NAFTA, more economic refugees, more corruption, more drugwar, etc.

Attention must be paid.

(Note the cool "no more campaigning for a couple of days" rule. I think I like that.)

Ahem. So.

Germany did beat Sweden and England sqwoke by Ecuador (how much luck do those fuckwads get?), but otherwords I was way off.

In my defense, Mexico DID outplay Argentina (going so far as scoring a goal for them) and really only lost as punishment for numbnuttery, the Netherlands DID spank Portugal (and the other way around), but I didn't mean it literally, and Australia DID shock Italy (speaking of lucky fuckwads).

I was utterly wrong about the Ukraine/Switz and Spain/France.

As to the Ghana game: the Ghana defenders, in at least two of the goal moments and during several almost-a-goals, just totally disappeared. It was as if they had somewhere more important they suddenly had to be. Ghana's schizophrenic play, and Brazil's "easy" victory despite being outplayed up and down the field, caused Birgit to bring up the possiblity of cash changing hands. I think there may be something to that.

So, First round 25 and 23, second round 4 and 4.

I am 29 and 27, if that is possible.

Quarterfinal predictions, for what they are worth . . .

Germany will play the Argentina that played Mexico, and will win.
England really has to lose sooner or later, and as much as I doubt Portugal's fortitude, it will have to be them.
Ugh. pUkraine versus shItaly. Can they both lose? pUkraine will win.
And France versus Brazil? Man. It don't get easy, this pickin. I'll say France has found its form. Ugh.

Did I mention that I'm going to Berlin?

(On baseball: I think the Cubs are paying the Pirates to keep them out of last place)

Sunday, June 25, 2006

I listened to the England-Ecuador game on the radio because it was being shown on a channel I don't have. I'm glad I didn't watch. It sucked. England sucks. If they manage to get much further it is a damned shame. Let's look at their goals:

1. own goal by Paraguay
2. cheating goal against Trinidad (the hair pulling)
3. a good goal against Trinidad
4. two decent goals against Sweden (allowing two as well)
5. a free kick by Beckham against Ecuador.


Oh and, the Cubs suck ass.

I have to make a grudging admission: I don't really know all that much about how the World Cup works. See, I said that Mexico would win the whole deal, but they just lost to Argentina. My problem is, I thought this was the "lose to Argentina" round, so it doesn't count. But it seems that it does count. So, I don't know how they can do it now. I mean, win.

If, somehow, the Mexicans (who have now taken over the bodies of some other team via a funky Aztec/ Tarahumara/ Olmec/ Maya/ Huichole ceremony), should go on to win, it will likely be in a German uniform. Don't be shocked.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

It appears that I was 25 and 23 (26 and 22 if you count the England/Paraguay result in my favor). So. There's that.

Germany will beat Sweden
Mexico will upset Argentina
England will squeak by Ecuador
the Netherlands will spank Portugal
Australia will shock Italy
Brazil will struggle with, but defeat, Ghana
the Ukraine will stomp Switzerland
Spain will kill France

I would have blogged, honest, but I've been terribly busy. See, I have been struggling to balance work and the World Cup, and have therefore had very little me time.

I will say this, though: it is really a big load of fun to be around all the brouhaha. I've watched several matches on the big screen at the public viewing area in Dortmund (where I work), one on the big screen in the garden of one of the big companies where I teach, several in my local bar, and one or two at home. I've also missed several due to work (including the first and third US games: I saw the US-Italy game at a party).

The big news is that I'm going to go to Berlin with some friends for the final. We won't actually be at the game, but we will be in amongst the fans. Or rather, I *might* not be at the game: I continue to work an angle on a ticket to a match, because I know someone with access to assorted tickets. So, something may work out.

You can see my first round predictions below, so you know that I was less than fully accurate. It is useless to promise a game by game reaction, so I'll just give you the following:

Argentina, obviously, but I do not fear them.
Germany, obviously.
The Netherlands.

France, Switzerland, Italy, England, Sweden, and Portugal

Mexico and Ukraine

Brazil: they looked tired and bored in the first two games, and seem only to have woken up after the Japanese goal. I think the monster may now be out of the cage, but they are still not the favorite in my book.

I remain true to Mexico out of pure stubbornness, but I may have to change after today.

I will miss the US, Trinidad, and Koreateam. And, of course, Tobago.

Sunday, June 18, 2006


Brazil team needing a good ass kicking.


Details to follow at some point.

Friday, June 16, 2006

The Gallivantings of Daniel Franklin: Cupblogging with pictures!

Well. What a week it has been.

On Tuesday the health department came into Birgit's classroom and informed her that 1) one of her fifth graders has the measles, 2) the whole class will now be tested and must wait at home for the results, 3) all teachers with contact to the kid have to do the same, 4) by "at home" they mean "in your house and nowhere else" and 5) the results won't be available until Monday. So Birgit is my prisoner! Tuesday afternoon the doorbell rang and she opened up. Two women with information material and whatnot came up the stairs and said "Oh! We're glad to find you at home!" Birgit figured they were from the health department, checking up on her, so she was cool. Then they said "We have really just one question: Do you believe in Jeebus?" HA!

I seem to be on my own recognizance, despite the fact that if B has it then I probably do to: the health authorities didn't ask if I had been immunized [I have].

And now, your World Cupdate:

I had to work Monday, so I missed Australia's surprise win over Japan (3-1, incorrectly predicted the other way around by me) and the US getting drubbed by the Czechs (3-0, ditto). A word on the Czech win: they were without their #1 striker, and the US has Casey the Killer Keller anchoring what I thought was a solid defense. I figured it was reasonable for the US to score a freak goal and then close down for a win. Ahem.

After the train delays got sorted out and I took a detour train through Essen, I met up with some friends in time for the second half of the Italy-Ghana game (2-0). My understanding is that the first half was really fun to watch, but I thought the second half was pretty good, too. Ghana looks like a really good team except for in one fundamental aspect: they seem averse to being anywhere close to the opponent's goal before shooting. I mean, they were shooting from 50 yards out! And STILL going over the goal! They were often closer on corner kicks, for crying out loud. I joked that they should have stayed home and shot from there, for all the good it was doing.

South Korea 2 versus Togo 1 (KOREA TEAM FIGHTING back from 0-1 against a Togo team whose coach quit last week, then rejoined them a day or so before this game! I picked Koreateam, and I was working while the game was being played)

France 0 versus Switzerland 0 (wrong again, Greg, and working again)

Brazil 1 versus Croatia 0 (correct!). I saw this game down at my corner bar and had the bittersweet experience of watching a BORING Brazil team. Listless? Dude, they were playing the harpsichord! I wouldn't be surprised if the Aussies or Japannies slap that smile off their faces, but I am honor bound not to change my predictions.

Spain 4(!!!) versus Ukraine 0(!!!). I got that one hella rong. Due to fortuitous cancellations, I was able to watch this on the big screen in the public viewing area in Dortmund. Dude. Spain looks awesome all of a sudden. Be afraid.

Saudi Arabia and Tunisia kissed their sisters*. I didn't watch. I picked Tunisia.

Germany 1 versus Poland 0. I was there, in front of the big screen, surrounded by many thousands of Poles and Germans. Awesome atmosphere, awesome game. A bit of
unpleasantness on the fringes (the biggest part of that happened around 50-100 yards from me, by the way, and I didn't notice), but cool. I was there with Holger. Our friend Annette wanted into the area, too, but by the time she got there it was full and she was stuck outside of it. Then some Polish fans, in frustration, started smashing beer bottles (as one does). Annette thought quickly and allowed a piece of glass to skip off the pavement and gash her calf. This meant she needed medical attention and so was allowed in. Genius!
Hazel was there with guests from the Engalond, and afterwards we went out on the town a bit. Got home just before dawn.

Ecuador 3 versus Costa Rica 0 (wrong of me): Ecuador may have something. Germany should be able to handle them but who knows? I watched on TV at home. So tired. So very tired.

The Engalond 2 versus Soca Warriors 0 (right of me): Crouch pulled the Trini defenders pony tail when he went up for that header. He is now on my shit list. The Engalond suck donkey balls. TV. House. Tired.

Sweden 1 versus Paraguay 0 (right of me): not much to report here. I now want Sweden to beat the piss out of the Engalond, but I fear they would have a hard time beating the piss out of a big bag of piss. TV. House. Tired. Drifted off a couple of times.

What will today bring us? Argentina will beat Serbia in Gelsenkirchen, the Netherlands will beat the Ivory Coast (I wish I hadn't predicted that) in Stuttgart, and your 2006 World Champion Mexico will defeat Angola in Hanover. I will be hooking up with some Mexicans, I think, for that one.

If you look at this post you will see my overall first round Cup predictions in tatters.

* Paul "Bear" Bryant, legendary coach of the University of Alabama Crimson Tide football team, is alleged to have said that a tie is like kissing your sister: it feels ok, but it doesn't mean much.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Portugual 1, Angola 0. I am now 4 and 3.
I "watched" this game on the Fifa live ticker dealie on the Fifa website.

Mexico 3, Iran 1. Another correct prediction (I am now 3-3)
I was the only "fan" in the bar (others were just watching).
I must confess to having said "Puta Madre!" after Iran's goal, which is a very anti-woman thing to say. I should have said something like "Maldicion!" or "Chingadre!"

Pinche Iran. Yo soy Mexicano, egual que tu.


Back in December/January, I determined that I would write a letter to my brother. This determination was the result of a significant amount of pressure from my mother. My problem was that I didn't have the foggiest notion of what I wanted to say to the man. So I agonized over it. This turned into stress. The stress increased. I soon found myself unable to do much of anything writing-related because I hadn't yet written the letter. In no particular order, this cascaded into: me not writing some things I wanted to do for work; me staying off the chat program I was usually on; me not answering emails; me rarely checking emails; me not looking at this blog; me avoiding friends' blogs (because they might see my ip address and realize that I was online but silent and might get offended); me not turning to the telephone as a substitute for writing friends. I got it into my head that, after waiting so long to say anything, only a long and elaborate apology written on paper and mailed would be a fitting solution. Then I got into another spiral about writing that.

Blah, blah, blah, depressioncakes.

Long story short, I'm getting over it. I did write the letter to my brother, and have now sent out a few short emails and made a couple of phone calls.


NOW, however, I'm suffering from an acute case of footballitis. See, I live really close to three World Cup stadia (Gelsenkirchen, Cologne, and Dortmund [I work in Dortmund]). I really should blog about it.

I can't get blogger to cooperate at the moment, so a linkdump will have to wait (I've got some good ones), but I will tell you what I've been up to as far as the tournament is concerned.

9 June: Germany 4 versus Costa Rica 2 (in Munich), Poland 0 versus Ecuador 1 (in Gelsenkirchen)
I watched these games at my former neighbors' house. It was really nice. We sat out in the garden and watched and drank lots of beer (some nerds watched inside the house on the big projected screen, but smoking wasn't allowed in there). One of our hosts is from Scotland and I am from the US, and we were the foreign contingent (repri Zent!). A drunken old fellow sitting next to me learned, after a while, that I was from the US and decided he wanted to talk politics (or rather, he decided that he'd like to harangue Bush, the US government, the US, all Americans, and everything related to the US in any way [but he was careful not to actually shit down my throat, which was nice of him]). Mixed in with this were his variations on the theme of "I'm not really a soccer fan . . .", to which I was tempted to shout BUT I FUCKING WELL AM SO SHUT THE FUCK UP YOU STUPID OLD FUCK! Fortunately, I was Raised Right, so I managed to slowly steer him towards the notion that only an ignorant turd would think the way he does, and that he should realize that however much he may disapprove of certain things about the US, he should step the fuck off when it comes to condemning all the many hundreds of millions of Americans (living and dead and yet to be born) and all their works, lest he one day find himself sitting next to a drunk one who is trying to watch a fucking soccer game in peace. As far as the games are concerned: I correctly predicted that Germany would win and incorrectly predicted that Poland would win. I am now convinced, without statistics, that Germany scores more when playing without their captain, Ballack (he was slightly injured and sat out the game).

10 June: England 1 versus Paraguay 0 (in Frankfurt), Sweden 0 versus Trinidad & Tobago 0 (in Dortmund), Argentina 2 versus the Ivory Coast 1 (in Hamburg)
Two friends (Kirsten and Holger) and I went to Dortmund to hang around for these games. The city was slam full of festive fans from all over the world. I wore my Mexico jersey and was saluted for coming to Germany (heh). We hung out with a colleague of mine, Colin, who is English and lives in Dortmund (he wore a shirt and hat in support of his hometown Liverpool FC and bought an English flag to be provocative). Colin went home. Then we rode a ferris wheel. Then we watched the England/Paraguay game on a huge screen in one of the squares. Then Kirsten went home. Then Holger and I followed the red carpet which leads from the city center out to the stadium (around 2 miles walk). We watched the Sweden/Trinidad game on a huge screen in the Westfallenhalle (a big concert/basketball type arena) next to the stadium with hundreds of Swedes and Trinis. It was an awesome atmosphere and an awesome game. Much better than Eng/Par (which sucked, and England looks weak). Then we went back to the city center. We met some nice Swedish fans who had been in the stadium and were feeling low (Sweden should have won but didn't), one of whom gave me a button that reads "Vi är svenska fans allihopa" (which means, roughly, "We are Sweden fans, no matter what"). Then we watched Arg/IC on the city center big screen. Then we saw some Trinis performing a concert sponsored by Angostura (a Trini rum brand). We drank the whole day. Then we took the train home. It was a good day.

11 June: Sebia & Montenegro versus Netherlands (in Leipzig), Mexico versus Iran (in Nuremburg), Angola versus Portugal (in Cologne) SEE PREDICTIOINS BELOW
I am currently watching the live ticker on the Fifa website for the Serbia/Netherlands game (Netherlands 1-0 at halftime) and will watch the others at my local bar.

HERE ARE, BY THE WAY, MY FIRST ROUND PREDICTIONS. I'm only doing this round by round, and I don't predict scores (so I won't guess group 1st and 2nd). I made these predictions as soon as the bracket was set and filed them with a colleague. I would change them based on some things I've since learned, but that wouldn't be in the spirit of wild prognostication.

Germany defeats Costa Rica CORRECT
Poland defeats Ecuador INCORRECT
Germany and Poland tie
Costa Rica defeats Ecuador
Germany defeats Ecuador
Poland defeats Costa Rica

England and Paraguay tie INCORRECT TECHNICALLY, but it was an own-goal for Paraguay
Sweden defeats Trinidad & Tobago INCORRECT
England defeats Trinidad & Tobago
Sweden defeats Paraguay
Paraguay defeats Trinidad & Tobago
Sweden defeats England

Argentina defeats Ivory Coast CORRECT
Netherlands defeats Serbia & Montenegro
Argentina defeats Serbia & Montenegro
Netherlands defeats Ivory Coast
Argentina defeats Netherlands
Serbia & Montenegro defeats Ivory Coast

Mexico defeats Iran
Portugal defeats Angola
Mexico defeats Angola
Iran defeats Portugal
Mexico defeats Portugal
Iran defeats Angola

United States defeats Czech Republic
Italy defeats Ghana
Czech Republic defeats Ghana
Italy and the United States tie
Italy defeats Czech Republic
United States defeats Ghana

Japan defeats Australia
Brazil defeats Croatia
Croatia defeats Japan
Brazil defeats Australia
Brazil defeats Japan
Australia defeats Croatia

South Korea defeats Togo
Switzerland defeats France
South Korea defeats France
Switzerland defeats Togo
South Korea defeats Switzerland
France defeats Togo

Ukraine defeats Spain
Tunisia defeats Saudi Arabia
Ukraine defeats Saudi Arabia
Spain defeats Tunisia
Ukraine defeats Tunisia
Spain defeats Saudia Arabia


I will update this from time to time.