MLS Stretches Into Fall

While College Football ramps up, with baseball ready for the playoffs, and the NFL season in swing, Major League Soccer has entered the Autumn Stretch run.  For those of us in tune with the niche of American Soccer, this is a fun time.  The doldrums of mid-Summer are past and most teams can play their game again.  More importantly, it’s four more games until the playoffs and the intensity has once again risen.

The MLS regular season sort of reminds me of basball:  there’s a lot of hype an excitement at the beginning, followed by a long dour stretch, and then a push for the post-season.  Although games in July count for just as much as games in October, the urgency definitely increases.  Couple that with the fact that eight of fourteen teams make the playoffs, and nearly everyone is fighting at the end. Continue reading

Courage Needed

Our beloved Fighting Illini travel east to Penn State with a 2-1 record and less-than-satisfying results from these first three games.  Penn State, meanwhile, has looked impressive in their first four games, racking up yards and generally overwhelming their opponents.  As everyone who follows the Orange & Blue knows, this is a pivotal weekend for the Illini.  Win and we’re in the coversation for the Big10 race.  Lose (especially if we lose badly) and we’re perched on the edge of a deep ravine…

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DVD Pick: Perfect Creature

…starring Dougray Scott and Saffron Burrows, written and directed by Glenn Standring.

Although Perfect Creature purports to be a vampire movie, it’s not really a vampire movie;  it’s an well-conceived alternate history/mystery/thriller with a few vamprie elements thrown in (no doubt for the marketing sclhubs).

The logline sounded promising.

Paraphrasing here:  In a world where Isaac Newton’s cousin created vampires through genetic experimentation, and those vampires became part of the established church, calling themselves ‘the Brotherhood’ , dedicating themselves to priestlike service to maintaining harmony with humans instead of eating them, and they’ve also become the leading scientists of the age, someone’s gone all Lugosi…

It’s a pretty cool premise.  Writer/director Standring establishes this alternate world quickly, with grace and style.  He imbues the setting with strong steampunk sensibilities and adds in the vampire element without getting stuck in the mire of vamp cliches.  In this world, the Brotherhood are human-kind’s benevolvent watchers, and the established religion includes literal blood sacrifices by the faithful.  There are airships and steamcars, and it looks fairly Edwardian London.  Here we find Brother Silus (Scott) on the trail of another Brother engaging in the usual Hollywood Vampire behavior.

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Books: Kop

…by Warren Hammond

Kop is sci-fi detective noir with a dark hard edge.  It’s a well written debut novel with the kind of flawed yet sympathetic protagonist you look for in detective books.  And make no mistake — this is a detective book first and science fiction second.

We’re OK with that.

What Warren Hammond has done is use established elements of conventional sci-fi tropes to create a dingy and corrupt tropical world called Lagarto.  Lagarto is the perfect analogue for a depressed and isolated third-world colony.  Once it had a flourishing single export economy; now it has mostly lizards.  In fact the Lagartans are so poor, so backwards, they barely have any hi-tech at all.  They drive Petrol-fuel cars, there’s no beaming tech, no nano tech, no super net.  It’s a lot like Mos Eisley in a swamp.  In fact, what Hammond has done with Lagarto is to effectively roll back the clock to a very 1930s-type place.  Continue reading

Photostream USA v. Trinidad & Tobago

We had a blast up at Toyota Park.  The pregame was cool (props to the American Outlaws), the fan section rocking, and the game was pretty satisfying.  Three goals are always good, no matter who the coach left off the team because he’s way too conservative…

Sure, work was a little rough this morning, but you do what you can.  Which in our case meant fake tats, a lot of singing and chanting, wearing the colors, and having a good time supporting your USA National Soccer Team.

Click here or on photo above, then click ‘slideshow’

Name Games

Went to two football games this weekend–one high school, one college–wherein I noted the first names of the two opposing teams’ quarterbacks:  Game 1: MAVERICK.  Game 2: BODIE

What the hell…

While we can all appreciate a solid Top Gun and/or Point Break reference, who wakes up in the morning and thinks that kind of name is a good idea for their kid?  This is just male names, mind you; don’t even get me started about what some people call their little girls. Continue reading

Keep it real, I-fan OG

One of the highlights (sadly) of the Arch-rivalry game this past weekend was the OG Illini Fan sitting a few rows in front of us.  I’m not exactly sure who he was representing, but he was doing it old-school and he was angry.  The fact that he was decked out in his official Juice football jersey and replica baseball cap in no way detracted from the general menace.

We’ve all had superfan experiences at sporting events.  Hell, I’ve been that guy once or twice.  But this was the first time I’d seen the superfan mentality combined with constant gangsta signs and gyrations.  If I were the refs or the Missouri coaching staff I might be a little worried.  This guy was throwing out the signs and doing his little dance about every third play.  It was quite something. Continue reading