Sep 20, 2014

Paris





No matter what Joni Mitchell says, I did not see folks kissing on the Main Street.  (I did see an Eastern European twentysomething couple snogging in front of Tour Eiffel one day.)

What I did see a lot of, and it was to beautiful to witness, was that just about every older couple on the streets held hands as they walked down the grand boulevards.  You do not really see a lot of that kind of sweet affection here in Urban or Suburban US of A.

Paris was so wonderful.  When are going back?







Mwah, ... 

















Sep 19, 2014

First, let me start by saying,

That even though it is likely that I know a heck of a lot more about United Kingdom policies and politics than just about anyone in my immediate circle of friends, that that notwithstanding, the phrase that best sums up my sum total of knowledge of UK policies and politics would be:  I do not know shit about UK policies and politics.  

I think these folks will rue their victory yesterday.


My thoughts on Scotland saying No to independence yesterday are really coming from from my gut, and my realistically modestly cynical view of human nature.

I suspect that the No folks will soon rue this chance that they let slip away.  England, London, and Westminster will not concede anything.  There will be no forgiveness and bonus burgers for Scotland (or Wales, or Northern Ireland.)

I think it is infinitely more likely that England will begin to act cruelly toward Scotland (and Wales, and Northern Ireland) in order to relieve their guilt for centuries of crap.

There will be a good deal more punishment than pleasure for Scotland because of what they did.

I watched the BBC report on CSpan last night, and just about every single Talking Head there was so smug and mean spirited.  They had one Yes pundit on, and he was never allowed to speak, constantly being cut off for returns or the dude next to him interrupting him in dissent.

England got exactly what they wanted, and I figure they are going to find ways to make Scotland pay for their even thinking about leaving the UK.

Just my gut.  Take it for what you will.








mds

Sep 17, 2014

Two quick things for folks today:

One,

I am so frickin' torn.  Even though I know it might not be a good idea, at all, part of me would really love to see Scotland stick it to the English, and go out on their own.

Nick C and I even have a great idea for their new currency:  The 'notes' (bills) would be called The Scots Dram.  And their coins would be called Rocks, like the ice in their drams of whiskey.



And, two,

Even though the Wife does not believe me, I have officially suspended my support for the NFL for an indefinite period of time.  We are through.  It is just too much shit to take, and I would not be surprised, or even that upset, if the NFL ceased to exist.  I am done with it.

In my defense, I have quit major sports before.  I quit the NBA nearly ten years ago, and have not watched a single regular season game all the way through since then.  I have seen some Mavericks and Warriors playoffs games, but my interest is pretty weak.  I am barely engaged, and hardly even know the players these days.

As for college football.  Well, if the Sooners sucked, I would probably abandon it, as well.  The Sooners are a weakness I might not be able to defeat.  Maybe the Sooners could win it all this year, start sucking next year, and I could kick American football all together!








--Ardent

Sep 16, 2014

Yup! Here is your GOP, hard at work!

Russell Pearce, who has already lost a recall election in Arizona because he is a Supreme Asshat of the very first order (plus there was the usual graft and lying) thinks that any woman who applies for government assistance should be sterilized and tested for drugs.



The asshat resigned yesterday from whatever stupid state GOP job he had.  But, sadly, this is what just about all of these GOP asshats believe, but do not, generally, have the guts (or stupidity) to say out loud.  And, there are probably a fair amount of asshat citizens who agree with Asshat Pearce. (Plus, another one of Asshat Pearce's great ideas was Arizona's "Papers, Please" legislation.  Asshat Pearce hates everyone not white or male, apparently!)



We keep electing these guys!



Get your asses out to the midterms people! Let us take our country forward, and shed ourselves of these ... well, ... asshats!














AZ GOP vice-chair calls for sterilizing poor women: If you want a baby, get a job



Yours,

mds

Sep 13, 2014

Nicole Stéphane, Another Woman Michael Loves!

Ms Stéphane was actually a Baroness and a member of the Rothschild banking family.  Her acting CV is not very long, and in one of her finest performances, Le silence de la mer, she does not even say a word.  After a car accident, she retired from acting, and concentrated on writing and theatre and film production.

Nicole Stéphane in Les Enfants terribles


She is best known for Silence, like I mentioned, and her imperious mischievous incestuous truly regal turn in the excellent Jean-Pierre Melville film, Les Enfants terribles.

Stéphane in Le silence de la mer


But what you might not know about her, is that she joined the French Army during WWII, and was captured in the Pyrenées by the Spanish whilst trying to hook up and coordinate with the Free France underground.  

Another awesome fact about Ms Stéphane is that she lived above Susan Sontag in Paris in the early Seventies.  They were lovers for a spell and were off and on artistic collaborators until Nicole's death in 2007.  

Truly, a Woman Michael Loves!



















Mwah, ... 
































Sep 10, 2014

Ida,

Directed by Pawel Pawlikowski, is the sort of so special film, that as it unrolls before you, you are occasionally taken out of the picture, desperate to watch the film again, just after it has finished.




And, who the hell is Agata Kulesza? Where did she come from? (Poland, sure.) But, her performance is absolutely to die for.  Every single acting choice she makes as Wanda is inevitable and surprising at the same time.

And the young woman who plays Ida, Agata Trzebuchowska, is breathtakingly impressive, as well.  

This masterpiece of a motion picture was an absolute joy to behold.  Every single set-up for the black and white photography is so thoughtfully and perfectly chosen.  One of the best things the team did was to have many of the close-ups, or two shots with the subject(s) in the bottom right hand corner of the frame, suggesting that what we were seeing was not the entire (big) picture, but a detail, instead.  That there was a whole other truth outside the frame that we are not allowed to see.  That we must decide for ourselves the truth, must decide for ourselves how the puzzle all fits together.

The film is done with such economy, too.  There is not a single superfluous scene.  There is not a single moment that does not impact the viewer, or count.  In fact, some scenes you would expect to see are not there.  Once again, letting the witness flesh out the tale for themselves, making Ida and Wanda's story part of your story, a new unexpected part of you own personal history.

It is stunning.  An amazing masterpiece.  What great work by this team.  All should see this.










mds

Sep 5, 2014

London





The fifth series of Downton Abbey debuts in the US in January of 2015.  I already adore the program -- even if sometimes I have issues with it -- but I adore it even more after a visit to Ealing Studios in London in April.



Ealing made some of the greatest films ever, and some of my all-time personal faves.  I have serious crushes on a few of their actresses, too:  Googie Withers, Joan Greenwood, and Valerie Hobson.  Kind Hearts and Coronets, Dead of Night, Pink String and Sealing Wax, Passport to Pimlico, The Ladykillers, It Always Rains on Sunday, The Lavender Hill Mob, etc, are all magnificent motion pictures, made at a tiny studio in the decidedly not posh,  but pleasant London suburb, Ealing.



Ealing ceased as a production company in the Fifties, and sold their sound stages to the BBC.  The Dennis Potter BBC masterpiece, The Singing Detective was shot there.



But, in the Nineties, Ealing became an independent, for hire, studio.  In fact, Shaun of the Dead was shot there.  That is right.  The Winchester was in London!



And, then I found out that Downton Abbey shoots there, as well.



All the "downstairs" servant's rooms, kitchen, etc, is really shot at Ealing.



So, while all the rich posh characters get to shoot at the luxurious manse up north, all the servants are working at Ealing.



I find that hilarious.



Another cool thing about Ealing is that there is a pub, The Red Lion, right across the street, where all the actors, directors, and technicians used to frequent after work.



Oftentimes, the wives of the Ealing folks would call, wondering where their husband was.  The Ealing staff would reply, "He's on Stage Six."



There were only five sound stages at Ealing.  Stage Six was the Red Lion.  The pub even has a nice Stage Six plaque at the entrance now.



And, I have been told that many of Downton Abbey crew and cast frequent the Red Lion, too.





















Mwah, ... 

Sep 3, 2014

Before I came to work today,

I watched the first hour of the MGM musical, Meet Me in Las Vegas, on TCM.

Wow.

Meet Me in Las Vegas was made by the Pasternak Unit at MGM, not the Freed Unit.  And not even Cyd Charisse, Lena Horne, Sammy Davis Jr, choreography by Hermes Pan, and a Sinatra cameo can save this turkey.

It is amazing to me just the difference of quality between the Freed and Pasternak Units at the studio for musicals at that time.

For those of you who do not know, the Freed Unit was Arthur Freed, Vincent Minelli, Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly, Comden & Green, etc, ... In movies such as Singin' in the Rain, On the Town,The Band Wagon, An American in Paris, Meet Me in St Louis, etc, ...

It is just not even close.

I am mos def gonna watch the splendid Freed Unit doc, Musicals Great Musicals, tonight.  If you can rustle it up (I got it with My Singin' in the Rain dvd collection), you should watch it too sometime.











Yup, the fauxluxe Summer hiatus is over.  We are back in business!





Mwah, ... 

Jun 19, 2014

Here is my new updated Top 8 Rooting Interest List

We are one week in to the tournament and Spain, the defending champions are already gone, so naturally they have come off my list.  

1. USMNT
2. Costa Rica
3. Ghana
4. Italy
5. CH
6. Holland
7. France*
8. Chile

*France are on Official Supporter Probation.  As long as they continue as they are doing they will move up this list.  I expect once they break from their group the probation will be lifted.  

The bottom four are the same, except there were some changes in the alignment:

29. Mexico
30. Belgium
31. England
32. Portugal

Of the Top 8, Ghana is the most likely to be eliminated, and I suspect Germany will take their place in a lower spot by this time next week.  

By July 2, I suspect my list should look something like this (there will only be eight teams left in the tournament):  

1. Germany
2. Italy
3. France
4. Holland
5. Colombia
6. Brazil
7. Argentina
8. Belgium

************

Meanwhile, as for Ingerland, they are sincerely hoping they are not going to be singing this tonight!











Happy World Cup everyone!
Love you all, 
Ciao!

Jun 16, 2014

I am going to be a nervous wreck

All day long, a sweaty smelly husk of a human by the time five PM PDT rolls around today.

Unless the USMNT just completely rolls over and gets waxed today by the Black Stars, which is definitely a legitimate possibility, and then I will be less exhausted husk and more very tired rationalizing philosophizing Alibi Ike.  

The key for the USA today is the same as it always for them in the World Cup.  They can not concede early goals in these matches.  For whatever reason, and despite always having World Class goaltending, the USA's biggest weakness has always been conceding early goals in the World Cup.  Much of that has to do with the fact that the US just has not been very good at producing and nurturing top flight defenders, and there probably is a mental thing/nerve sort of thing happening, as well.

I would like to think that coach, Jurgen Klinsmann, has helped the USA over that jitters thing, but we will not know until about twenty minutes in to today's contest with Ghana.

I am just going to have to see the games.  The USA could very easily look like Honduras did yesterday, rack up a bunch of cards, have no attacking play whatsoever, and get seriously humiliated in this tournament.  

Or, they could score some goals, get some lucky breaks, and make it to the Round of 16, or further.

One thing I can guarantee is that will not get any benefit of the doubt when it comes to difficult or crucial refereeing decisions.  FIFA hates the USA, and always will, most likely.  But I do not want to be like a whinging England supporter.  It is never England's fault when they lose.  They are always robbed of greater glory.  

So, I accept the difficult situations, and I temper my expectations, and ultimately resign myself to answering the question:  Am I proud of them? Did they acquit themselves in an entertaining classy way? 

Today is the day.  We will find out.






















-- Ardent

Jun 15, 2014

Fact is, manners and politeness these days, is practically done.





But not with me, or at my house.  And, that is because of both my parents, especially my father.  Even if I acted out or rebelled against him as a teen, all those lessons on manners really did sink in, and I am still a loyal polite soldier in a world where lots of folks do not seem to know or care any more.


So, here's to William Andrew Spitler.  Happy Father's Day to a supreme awesome Dad.  And, here is a little Motown for you, too!






Love you, Bud! We will call you today from Renee's folks house.















Michael

Jun 12, 2014

Here are the eight nations I will be cheering hardest for in the 2014 World Cup:

1. USA
2. The Cantons of Helvetica (Switzerland)
3. Spain
4. Honduras
5. Costa Rica
6. Holland
7. Ghana
8. Ecuador

The list is descending order, thus, if No 1 (USA) met No 2 (CH) in a match, I would support the USA.  I will support the USA against all possible opponents, and there is only one team that Switzerland could play wherein I would not support them, the USA.  

I like Switzerland because my parents used to live in Basel, and my father still does much of the year; and because I have a weird softness for that bizarre proud country.

I like Spain because their players are beautiful, they play a beautiful brand of football with a goofy nickname -- tika taka -- and they always seem to exude class on and off the pitch.

I like Honduras and Costa Rica because they are tiny nations that seriously over-perform and get very little respect.  

Go La Bicolor!


I like Holland for their gorgeous uniforms, and their exciting lively brand of football (even though lately they have become quite goonish), and the way they always have their fans pull marketing stunts in the crowd to piss off their opposition.

Ghana is my favorite African nation.  They know how to win, and they are the USA's nemesis.

Ecuador is my favorite Central or South American nation because they are a very tiny nation, too, and get very little respect.

This list will have to change as the tournament progresses, and it will, and I will update it over the next month.  It has to change because as even a footy novice will notice, very few of those teams in my Top 8 have any legitimate chance to make it deep in to the tournament.  Only Spain and Holland from my list would count as serious contenders.  Ghana would be a dark horse.  If I had to make a Top 8 of simply legitimate sides, it would look like this:

1. Spain
2. Brazil
3. Ghana
4. Germany
5. Uruguay
6. France
7. Italy
8. Argentina

France is a toughie.  Normally they would be in my opening Top 8, but they kind of broke my heart at the last World Cup, with all their prima donna behavior, and mutiny.  If they are on their form, and keep it classy, they could move up my list very quickly.  

Now, there is a bottom of the list, as well.  These are the four nations I like the least, and will be rooting against.  

29.  Belgium
30. Mexico
31. (tie) England
              Portugal

I can not explain it fully, but I can not stand Belgium.  Mexico are the USA's mortal enemy, and if England and Portugal met in this year's World Cup, I would hope for a power outage.  I hate both of them so much.  Portugal for their crappy sportsmanship, and CR7; and England because of their smug nasty homer xenophobic fans.  

World Cup starts today! Go Croatia!







Ciao!
Ardent
















Amazing video! Thank you, John Oliver.





John Oliver really got it right last Sunday.  It is amazing how he did this in a hilarious way right after I had said all of the same things about FIFA to the Wife the day earlier.

I think I like the French(?) guy best, talking about beer.



World Cup so wonderful.  FIFA so flipping evil.









AH










Jun 9, 2014

The Sunday NYT Magazine

Had a brilliant World Cup preview inside.  It included the excellent profile of the USMNT's coach, Jurgen Klinsmann; had fun graphic Spy Magazine-like charts (they are picking Uruguay to win -- not a bad choice); an article on the new music from Brazil; and, with Lionel Messi on the cover, naturally, an article on why Messi is not loved in Argentina.

Re Messi:  We have a supremely sweet Argentine dairy delivery driver at our store, and he has already explained to me why Messi, the greatest footballer on the planet right now, is not loved by his home nation.  

The argument is thus:  Messi has not performed well in the World Cup Finals tournaments that he has been in, and that is true.  Messi also went to Spain at a very early age, and did not play in the Argentine professional leagues.  Messi also plays for Barcelona FC, one of the best club teams in the world, and a team that is essentially an international all-star team.  So despite Messi absolutely shattering previous Club football goal-scoring records the past few years, Argentines continue to shrug their shoulders.  Why?

Because of Maradona.  Diego Maradona is arguably the greatest footballer of the Twentieth Century.  He is also from Argentina, and he grew up in much worse circumstances than did Messi. The whole slums v suburbs argument again.  

And, let us look at Maradona's CV:  Maradona is one of the greatest World Cup players ever, who has scored both of the most talked about and celebrated goals in World Cup history.  In the same game! (Poor Ingerland.) Sure, one of them might have been illegal, but it still has the coolest nickname:  The Hand of God.  (There was nothing illegal about the other goal, as Maradona mercilessly shredded the entire England side, essentially one-on-eleven, and calmly slotted the ball in the back of the net.) Maradona won that World Cup as captain, and led the Argentines to a second place finish four years later, despite playing with an injured ankle.  Maradona's Club CV includes a decent sized stint with an Argentine club, a trip, also, to Barcelona, where he performed very well even though he and the management were not friendly.  Then, Maradona was sold to Napoli in the Italian Serie A.  Napoli was not a team of all-stars to say the least.  Moreover, no Club team from Southern Italy had ever won the league title, period.  Well, that changed. Maradona, nearly by himself, lifted that Napoli side to becoming one of the best teams on the continent.

Of course, there is the whole back page of Maradona's resume, too.  That is the page that talks about the suspensions, the drug abuse, the steroids, etc, ... (Messi himself took steroids at a young age due to a growth hormone disorder.) 

So, even with Maradona's complicated and tumultuous life off the pitch, he will always be revered over Messi in Argentina, and to me, personally.

I was fortunate enough to watch the Hand of God and the other goal v England in 1986.  At home, on teevee, in Austim, Texas; and I have always adored difficult and feisty artists and athletes. Messi may be one of the greatest footballers I have ever seen, but he is no Maradona.  I stand with the other Argentines, like that delivery guy.  













World Cup in four days!












Ciao, Ardent

Jun 4, 2014

From a letter a young Sergei Diaghilev wrote to his beloved stepmother:

Sergei Diaghilev




"As for myself ... I am first a great charlatan, although one with great flair; second, I am a great charmer; third, I've a great nerve; fourth, I'm a man with a great deal of logic and few principles; and fifth, I think I lack talent; but if you like I think I've found my real calling -- patronage of the arts."









Note:  I got this wonderful quote from Lisa Chaney's splendid biography of Coco Chanel, Chanel An Intimate Life


























Ardent Henry

Jun 3, 2014

Landon Donovan

Is the greatest soccer player the United States has ever produced, and yet, unlike his friend and teammate, DaMarcus Beasley, Donovan will not be playing in his fourth FIFA World Cup Finals.

Donovan's World Cup CV is astounding, as well.  It is not as if he was just coasting through his nation's most important matches.  In fact, he has scored more goals in the World Cup Finals than some of the more illustrious strikers from other nations, including Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo.

But, there has always been a nagging sense that as great as Donovan was, that he still could have been even better.  That he could have been, in addition to being the greatest US soccer player ever, he might have been one of the world's best footballers, period.

If that is the case, then what was it that held him down? I believe it is the same thing that is keeping him out of the 2014 World Cup Finals:  Attitude.

Donovan has always carried with him an attitude that suggests he is cocky, or a bit of a diva. Lots of the world's greatest athletes have attitudes like that.  Many argue it may be essential to reaching elite achievement in sport, or art, or business, or life.

The first real instance of it possibly impairing Donovan's career advancement, though, came when he was playing in Germany in the Bundesliga.  He was young, and had already scored goals in the World Cup, and, even by then, was probably considered one of the greatest US-born footballer's ever.

He did not play well in Germany.  He sulked and moaned and bitched about probably everything in the entire experience of big-time European Club Football.

Unfortunately for him, the current USMNT coach, Jurgen Klinsmann, was working in the Bundesliga at the time, and was, I am sure, privy to every single Donovan story coming out of Leverkusen.

But it gets worse.  Right on the eve of the USMNT's 2014 World Cup Qualifying campaign, Donovan told Klinsmann that he was burned out and needed some time off.  Even if it is not technically the case, that attitude smacks of someone who does not want to rehearse, and expects to be the star when the lights go on.

Klinsmann was not impressed.  By the time Donovan was ready to return to the national side, the US were cruising through the Hex, and well on their way to Brazil.  Klinsmann, in a sense, demoted Donovan by forcing him to play in the Gold Cup, with essentially the US B-team.  Donovan did as he was told, and was the star of the tournament, which the US won.

It was not enough.  Klinsmann left Donovan off the team for Brazil.  Cue hue and cry!

The last time the media called for Klinsmann's head the USMNT ran off twelve wins in a row, so I am keen to give Klinsmann the benefit of the doubt, even though I bloody well know that the United States will not win this World Cup Finals, or possibly even make it out of their brutal group.

Klinsmann has a plan for the future that sees the USMNT as legitimate World Cup contenders in 2018 and 2022.  Contenders in the sense that they could reach the Semis, the Finals, or win the whole damn thing.  I am not kidding.

As much as I wish Landon Donovan was in Brazil, I understand why he is not, and I think it was the right decision by Klinsmann.  Even if the USMNT are unable to break from their group this month, I still think Klinsmann made the right call.

I have always loved difficult or feisty artists and athletes, and I will always love Landon Donovan, and all his brilliant goals, and the way he got under the skin of every Mexican El Tri supporter.  Despite the uneasy small feeling that he could have even been better, I consider myself lucky to have been able to witness the greatest footballer from the United States ever.

My favorite Donovan goal? As much as I love his dagger in El Tri's heart in 2002, I have to go with his goal against Slovenia in 2006.  When it looked as if the World Cup was slipping away from the US he point blank scored one on one with a laser of a top shelf strike that literally had the goalkeeper going backwards in a pathetic effort to stop it.  After the goal, as Donovan was being congratulated by his teammates, Donovan seemed to shrug them off, and kept pointing to his head, yelling at the entire team, as if to say, "What the fuck? Where are you guys? Use your head! Am the only guy playing here?"












Ciao!
Nine days to World Cup!










Ardent

May 30, 2014

fauxluxe Complete 2014 World Cup Preview

No burying the lede, no personal stories, just a complete breakdown of how I see the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil play out.  Here we go.


GROUP A

Brazil 3W 0D 0L 9pts
Mexico 1W 1D 1L 4pts
Croatia 0W 2D 1L 2pts
Cameroon 0W 1D 2L 1pt

Brazil should breeze through this group despite all the travel they have in store for them.  Only one other team will rack up more air miles during the tournament, the United States.  The crucial match that will be the difference for Mexico advancing will be on Friday, 13 June, where I see them beating Cameroon two to one.  That means Mexico would only need a draw against Croatia ten days later.  I think they can handle that.  

GROUP B

Spain 3W 0D 0L 9pts
Netherlands 2W 0D 1L 6pts
Chile 1W 0D 2L 3pts
Australia 0W 0D 3L 0pts

One of the most exciting games of the group stage will happen on the second day of the tournament, as Spain and the Netherlands have a rematch of the 2010 World Cup Final.  I believe Spain will win a thrilling three to two victory that day.  Lots of folks are high on Chile right now, but I am not convinced.  I have the Netherlands beating Chile two to one on Monday, 23 June.  

GROUP C

Columbia 2W 1D 0L 7pts
Greece 2W 1D 0L 7pts
Japan 1W 0D 2L 3pts
Ivory Coast 0W 0D 3L 0pts

I expect Columbia will win the group on goal difference.  Columbia should be able to score more goals against Japan and/or the Ivory Coast than Greece can.  Ivory Coast have a terrible reputation for being crap in the big tournaments.  I do not see that changing here.  Greece will play their normal defensive minded boring football, and their one-nil victory over Japan on Thursday, 19 June will see them through to the Round of Sixteen.

GROUP D

Uruguay 1W 2D 0L 5pts
Italy 0W 3D 0L 3pts
England 0W 3D 0L 3pts
Costa Rica 0W 2D 1L 2pts

This is a brutal group, and I really feel for the Ticos.  I think Italy will advance on the strength of scoring more goals than England, even though I do not see a whole lot of goals being scored in this group, period.  Ingerland will sack their manager for sure, and the British press will be merciless.  Uruguay beating Costa Rica two-nil on Saturday, 14 June will be the match that separates Uruguay from the rest of the group.  

GROUP E

Ecuador 2W 1D 0L 7pts
Switzerland 0W 3D 0L 3pts
France 0W 2D 1L 2pts
Honduras 0W 2D 1L 2pts

This should be the most boring group in the whole tournament.  There will not be a lot of goals scored, and it will come down to Wednesday, 25 June when France and Honduras will  be sent packing.  Honduras will manage a nil-nil draw against my beloved boring Switzerland, but Ecuador will beat France one-nil.  The difference for Switzerland over France is the Swiss will have been able to draw one all v Ecuador ten days earlier.  

GROUP F

Argentina 3W 0D 0L 9pts
Nigeria 1W 1D 1L 4pts
Bosnia and Herzegovina 0W 2D 1L 2pts
Iran 0W 1D 2L 1pt

If our new Pope really did pray for an easy group for Argentina then he really did get his wish. This group will be a cakewalk for Messi et al, and they should win all three games.  The difference for Nigeria will be that they can beat Iran, while Bosnia only manage a draw v Iran on Wednesday, 25 June.  

GROUP G

Germany 2W 1D 0L 7pts
USA 1W 2D 0L 5pts
Portugal 1W 0D 2L 3pts
Ghana 0W 1D 2L 1pt

The USA will draw v Ghana one all; beat Portugal three-two again; and then kick the ball around the park with Germany on Thursday, 26 June, earning a draw, whilst Portugal maliciously destroy Ghana four-nil.  It will not matter, though.  Portugal will flame out of a major tournament once again, even with Ronaldo.  

GROUP H

Belgium 1W 2D 0L 5pts
Russia 0W 3D 0L 3pts
Algeria 0W 3D 0L 3pts
South Korea 0W 2D 1L

Belgium will advance on the strength of being the only team in this extremely boring group to win a match, (one-nil over South Korea on Thursday, 26 June).  Russia will score more goals than Algeria, and break through because of that.  Lots of folks really fancy this Belgian side, and on paper they do look impressive, but I am skeptical.  


ROUND OF SIXTEEN

SATURDAY, 28 JUNE

Brazil 3-2 Netherlands
Columbia 0-1 Italy

The Brazil Holland match will be the most exciting game of the 2014 World Cup.  Unfortunately, right after that, Italy will bore Columbia to death, and win yet another one-nil Azzurri Special.


SUNDAY, 29 JUNE

Spain 2-0 Mexico
Uruguay 0-0 (4-2 PKs) Greece 

Spain will tiki taka Mexico senseless, and Uruguay and Greece will put everyone to sleep, until Los Charrúas win on PKs.


MONDAY, 30 JUNE

Ecuador 2-1 Nigeria
Germany 3-1 Russia

This will be a fun day for football, with loads of goals scored, and one extremely tight, and competitive matchup that could also go in to Extra Time or PKs.  


TUESDAY, 1 JULY

Argentina 2-0 Switzerland
Belgium 0-2 USA

I told you I did not think Belgium were for real.  Plus, European teams do not do well away from their continent.  (The exceptions are Germany, they are always good; Italy, they either win it all or suck; and Spain, who are becoming the new version of Germany.) And, Argentina will have no problems with the Cantons of Helvetica.


QUARTERFINALS


FRIDAY, 4 JULY

Brazil 0-0 (4-3 PKs) Italy
Ecuador 0-1 Germany

Germany will reach yet another semifinal, and Brazil will break Italy's heart again, on PKs.


SATURDAY, 5 JULY

Spain 1-0 Uruguay
Argentina 2-1 USA

The party ends for the USMNT, but they acquit themselves well, and are not a complete pushover for Argentina.  Meanwhile, Spain marches on, and eliminate one of my favorite sides, the gutsy, and tough Uruguayans.


SEMIFINALS



TUESDAY, 8 JULY

Brazil 2-0 Germany

WEDNESDAY, 9 JULY

Argentina 1-3 Spain

Yup, I am picking a Spain Brazil final.  Pretty boring, hunh? But, that is how I see it.


THIRD PLACE GAME


SATURDAY, 12 JULY

Argentina 1-2 Germany


FINAL


SUNDAY, 13 JULY

Brazil 0-2 Spain

I am going with Spain to win their second straight World Cup, and their third straight Major Tournament.  Perhaps a safe choice, and perhaps not.  We will see.  I can not wait!













Mwah, ... 



May 14, 2014