Messin’ with Texas

The vacation posts on Beemsville have often tended to be  late for a variety of reasons.  This summer’s entry saw us traveling to Dallas, TX to visit cousins and my sister.  That’s right. We weren’t satisfied with record highs and drought conditions in the home state; those hundred degree days in Illinois were just to get us in the mood.  We really wanted to experience early August in North Texas, get the full effect. Yes it was hot, but actually a little cooler than home for a couple of days.

Of course the real draw was family and a chance to reconnect.  My sister had been down there for over a year and we miss her.  And staying with my cousin Andy, who grew up a couple of miles away from us, who played sports together , went to school together, worked on the farm together, caught frogs, snakes, fish, and lizards together – well, this trip had been in the making for years. Continue reading

Books: Before They Are Hanged

In Brief: In this second book in Joe Abercrombie’s First Law trilogy, established characters pick up the pace with war brewing on two fronts and a quest for a lost artifact.

Pros:  The excellent writing and Sword and Sorcery feel continue from the first book.  The author sticks with the same core characters and continues to develop them.  The action is quick and deadly, the pacing and plotting are spot on.  And you have to appreciate the gallows humor.  No second book lull here.

Cons:  Some readers seeking a deviation from the classic neo-European fantasy setting may be disappointed.

Review:  The title of Before They Are Hanged, courtesy of an epigraph from the poet, Heinrich Heine: “We should forgive our enemies, but not before they are hanged.”  Yeah.  That sums up the prevailing ethos of the main characters as well as the author’s thematic approach.

It’s a welcome approach, true Sword and Sorcery in the tradition of Robert E. Howard and Fritz Leiber rather than Tolkien (although the nods to Tolkien are evident).  Abercrombie continues with the main characters from The Blade Itself: Logen Ninefingers, practical barbarian from the north, Superior Glotka, the crippled inquisitor who was once a soldier and court favorite, Bayaz, first of the magi, Ferro, former slave and assassin, Captain Luthar Jezal, fencing champion and upper-class twit, Colonel West, self-made officer from the provinces, and the Dogman, renegade Northman tracker and archer.

Continue reading

Pentagram: Historic Azteca Win

Juergen Klinsmann beat Italy on the road and now he’s managed a first ever victory over Mexico at Estadio Azteca.  Where Team America has never won.  In fact, the US was 0 wins, 1 tie, and 23 losses all-time in Mexico.  Until last nights 1-0 win.  Signature victory for Coach Klinsi.

Alexi Lalas, key contributor in the one tie from the late 90s said of the Azteca, “This is Thunderdome.”  Usually we only play our noisy neighbors on the road in World Cup Qualifiers – all other ‘friendlies’ taking place on American soil, where the Mexicans pack the stands and outnumber us in our own stadiums.  But for some reason El Tri agreed to play this one in their fortress, giving the US the chance to get a little more familiar with the altitude, smog, and hostility they will likely face in next year’s final round of qualifying.

Adding to the drama, Team America left stalwarts like Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, Carlos Bocanegra, Jozy Altiodore, and Steve Cherundolo with their club teams in Europe – either to allow them to prepare for the season or for impending transfers.  Klinsmann called in a group of mostly MLS and Mexican-based players, a definite B-team, anchored by Tim Howard, Jermaine Jones, and Herculez Gomez.  Mexico, meanwhile, trotted out 9 of their 11 first-choice squad.  They’re coming off the emotional high of having beat Brazil for the Gold Medal in London, and their youth squads have been impressive in the last round of U-20 and U17 championships.  Advantage Green.

Not so fast.  1-0 good guys.  So how did we do it?  How did Team America snatch its first victory in 25 tries on Mexican soil?  Five pentagram points…

Continue reading

TV Picks Return

Quick programming alert: two Beemsville TV picks return for each of their second seasons this week.

On AMC, Hell on Wheels kicks off at 8:00 CST.  You can watch trailers and plot-line lead-in from last season if you want to get on board or missed some episodes.  AMC is also doing a Season 1 Marathon all day today (Sunday) as is their custom.  We like this show because it’s a well-made Western with strong performances and interesting characters.

Tomorrow night at 9:00 CST, Grimm starts up again on NBC.  Move on from your Olympic hangover with supernatural style.  NBC’s site also has plenty of media and content to initiate or reintroduce you to Detective Nick, Monroe, and the Grimm-iverse.  This show has old-school X-Files appeal, a well-conceived urban fantasy setting (easier said than done – just look at all the crap fantasy spin-off attempts), and interesting characters.

You gotta have interesting characters.  Check them out.

Summer 3-on-3 Soccer

Last month we participated in a couple of 3-on-3 soccer tournaments in the middle of Illinois.  Back-to-back weekends saw the senior circuit (yours truly and some friends) and the youth team (daughter and friends) lace ’em up and hit the severely drought-depleted pitch.

For me it was a chance to play, in a semi-organized fashion, this sport I’ve become so enamored with.  For the kids it was a new take on the kind of soccer they’ve been learning the last few years.  We were playing the standard 3-on-3 rules:  small goals, no keeper, playing pitch a bit bigger than full-court basketball.

Our team, sporting the green Skibereen shirts (local Celtic/Irish band, whose bass player is a friend and teammate), were certainly the best-dressed and oldest team.  We found ourselves in the men’s open division, and since they didn’t have quite enough teams to split between a Rec League and Competitive Division, we found ourselves severely outclassed in one match.  That one featured a couple of former college players and some high school kids with skills. Continue reading