Archive for June, 2010

World Cup Satisfaction

It’s never an awesome feeling when your team is eliminated from the World Cup, and, yes, I think we could have and should have won that game against Ghana. As I said when they scored, “Start Ricardo Clark, give up a goal: that’s the law.”

But you can’t fault this team. They played awesome. They played as well as they could have and got beaten anyway, largely because they left it all on the field a few nights before.

And we got to have that moment, the greatest moment I’ve ever seen in a sporting event, Donovan’s goal. I still get weepy when I watch the celebration videos. That made the whole exercise worth it.If you haven’t heard Andres Cantor’s call of the goal, you must listen. You don’t need to speak Spanish to understand what that goal means.

Categories: Soccer Tags: , , ,

The Quotable Abigail: Part 2

On things to say while wearing Momma’s shoes: “We need to go get coffee.”

On things to say while wearing Momma’s shoes: “We need to go to the store.”

On things to say while wearing Momma’s shoes: “Okay, you know what, we need to go to the restaurant.”

On the men’s room sign: “That says, ‘Abbey’s bathroom’.”

On urinals, Daddy’s use of: “Daddy’s boo-boo is going pee pee.”

On not being told not to throw that ball anymore: “You can throw it gently.” (with toss.)

On whether she is stretching: “No, downward dog.”

On automotive travel: “The car makes me sad. The car makes me a diamond. Blue diamond. It makes me a blue diamond. It makes Momma a pink diamond. It’s from the park.”

On family relations: “Uncle Sean is Momma’s sister.”

Categories: Abigailia Tags:


Just a quick tally tonight. The question before us is, who did better at predicting the groups, me or Abigail? You may recall that we shared our predictions of how the groups would finish before the first round of the World Cup started. Abigail made some unorthodox choices, while I felt I was sticking to more proven logic.

Naturally, we both selected exactly nine of the 16 teams that advanced. They weren’t the same nine however. And while, sure I predicted the exact rankings for Group H and Abigail got none of them right in Group D, I’m still going to give her the nod on tiebreakers. The fact of the matter is that Australia is a really cool sounding country. It’s hard NOT to pick them to succeed.

Categories: Abigailia, Soccer Tags:

Tearful Celebrations

June 24, 2010 2 comments

I feel very silly to admit this – literally absurd – but this video made me weep openly. There are actual tears on my cheeks as I write this.

It really meant that much.

Categories: Soccer Tags: , , ,

The Unbitter Sweet Day

June 23, 2010 4 comments

“Daddy’s sad,” Abigail said this morning, around 8:55 am. She had reason to think I might be unhappy. I was throwing myself around the living room, making a wide range of squealing and sputtering noises. If she’d looked closely – which would have been a challenge since she was with her Momma, sitting on her potty in the bathroom – she would even have seen tears in my eyes.

But Daddy was not sad.

Daddy was very happy.

A day that looked like it was getting off to a bitter start had suddenly turned very sweet. I had spent most of the prior two hours as a bundle of nerves. Actually, that isn’t accurate. I had spent the last three or four days as a bundle of nerves. The US had a must win game this morning against Algeria, a team that – on paper at least – they should be easy. I knew the US history of blowing it at the last moment, of stepping up for the game against the big team and then falling apart in the big game against the average team.

And for 90 minutes, it looked like the US was going to live up to the choke stereotype. I tried to relax and lean back on the couch. But I would inevitable find myself standing, rocking back and forth on my feet, boring my eyes into the television, trying to will the US to make better passes, the ref to make better offside calls. When Clint Dempsey, a clutch player, put a shot off the post deep into the second half, I even told Jessica that I thought this wouldn’t be our day.

With the game winding down, they put four minutes of stoppage time up on the board and it gave me a strange sense of hope. I had been expecting one, maybe two minutes. Four, we might be able to do something with. Four was enough time.

Actually, two was enough time. When Landon Donovan scored that goal I flipped out, running circles around the room, leaping over Abigail’s toys when they posed obstacles to the aforementioned running circles around the room. And yes, it’s true, there were tears in my eyes.

Because this wasn’t just a win in one game. This was the culmination of four years of waiting, hoping that the team would live up to their promise, show the ability that we knew they had. Four years ago I stood in a packed plaza in Kaiserslautern and watched the US play the way we knew they could. I watched the US quiet the massive Italian advantage in the fans and I heard the few US supporters start outshouting them.

And then I watched the inevitable game 3 collapse. This was more than just a win, this was vindication. This was proof that the emotional energy I’ve pumped into this team wasn’t wasted. And did that emotion ever flow today. Just watch Landon in this interview and you’ll see how much that goal meant. Heck, maybe you get a better perspective by watching this local NBC report from the bar where I usually watch the games.

But today wasn’t just about soccer, believe it or not. It was Funtime Jessica’s last day in the office. It will truly not be the same without her. I have trouble even imagining it, so I try not to . I just don’t think about it. But today was her last day. It was time to face it. There were sandwiches. There was cake. And sure, it was an ice cream cake, but even that cake’s sweetness couldn’t shake the ennui that came from losing Jessica. More bitterness.

Or so you might think. JenSara* had a brilliant plan. A plan she’d put into action unbeknowst to almost all. A plan that would take away all bitterness that the day still held.

She got an inflatable bouncy house. Not only was this a fitting celebration of what Jessica meant to all of us, but it was a great way to continue leaping for joy for the World Cup win. What could have been a miserable day, dragging me down into a depressive malaise had become among the most awesome days ever. Easily top ten.

Observe the photos that follow at tremble at the awesome majesty of the bouncy house.

*Update: Apparently the house was Sara’s idea, which was fought for by all of support, particularly Julie. This plan was inacted in the end by Jen.

Also Update: This photo should have been given due consideration:

Categories: Abigailia, Soccer Tags: , ,

Come On, Potty People

June 19, 2010 4 comments

Abigail has been potty training lately. I anticipated that this would be a substantial challenge, but as with most things, Abigail has taken right to it. On the second or third day, I sat her down on the potty and started fishing through her stack of books, figuring we’d need to be there for a while. I heard that distinctive tinkling noise and expressed my excitement with some enthusiasm.

Abigail seemed unmoved by the moment’s significance. “I’m all done,” she said.

She’s spending her whole day in underwear with no accidents at this point, although we still have her in diapers for naps and bedtime. It’s only been a week after all.

This system does require frequent visits to the potty, about half of which are fruitless. At least, if you consider reading stories and lauding the virtues of toilet-centered bowel evacuation fruitless.

We’re still on the lookout for the elusive poop, which has yet to poke its shy head out when the toilet is in play. That hasn’t stopped her from pooping, mind you. In fact, she had a pretty substantial one at swim class the other day, something she hasn’t done since she was a baby.

By the time we noticed the lump in her swim diaper, it had already metastasized, spreading out into the secondary swim diaper and the suit itself. I knew there might be an issue when Jessica took Abigail to the bathroom to clean it up, but I was blissfully unaware of the depth of the problem until it took her about 10 minutes to return. Even then she had to go back to finish cleaning the surrounding area and, I’m guessing, put up the biohazard warnings.

Abigail seems to really enjoy using the potty, at least when it doesn’t interfere with her spinning wildly on the grass time. In fact, if we’re putting her to be, she absolutely loves going to the potty and wants to do it every five minutes or so. She used this con to great effect a few days ago. It’s much more effective than shouting, “Wolf!” Particularly if your room is on the second story of a suburban San Diego community.

“Coyote!” might work, but “I have to go pee-pee on the potty” really hits the right triggers in a parent’s brain.

Hopefully we’ll get a poop soon. Mostly because I want to use that tag again.

Categories: Abigailia Tags: , , ,


June 17, 2010 4 comments

I don’t believe I’ve mentioned Florence + The Machine on my blog and I now plan to correct this heinous oversight. I can’t stop listening to her music. Literally, I’ll sit in my car after it’s stopped, as the sun beats down on the roof and slowly heats me like the proverbial frog, just to listen to the last section of a song I’ve heard dozens of times before.

In fact, it’s like Elmo for adults. Seriously. Hear me out.

Elmo is a weird brain worm for kids. They all love him. They all love him a lot. Things are better because he is in them. If the drove cars, they would sit in them to finish hearing him sing Elmo’s Song, even if their cars were black and it was really too sunny to support that sort of activity.

Florence will have that affect on you. I challenge you to listen to this, a song off her album, Lungs, and not love it. You might try, but I happen to know that my readers are all mortals and thus are helpless in the grip of a siren’s song. Unless you’re tied to a mast, you’re going to like it.

Actually, you’re going to like it anyway, but you won’t be able to … buy the album. Or… This isn’t my best analogy.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , ,

The Quotable Abigail

June 13, 2010 4 comments

On convertibles: “That car is broken.”

On convertibles, after a discussion of the nature of convertibles: “They’re going to fix it.”

On bellies, maternal: “Mommy’s belly is smooth.”

On bellies, personal: “Abigail’s belly is smooth.”

On bellies, paternal: “Daddy’s belly is furry.”

On decisions to be made: “These are Abigail’s choices.”

On decisions, outside her original choices: “How about that one?”

On cheering at sporting events: “That’s what the people do.”

On the World Cup: “Maggie’s going to win the World Cup.”

On Daddy, thanking: “Thank you, Daddy. Thank you for diamonds, Daddy.”

On Daddy, trying to get her to say “Z is for Zoroastrian”: “Settle down, Daddy.”

On the barking neighbor dog: “Hey, Bo! No! This is not a game!”

On her word book, upon seeing the blue ball: “That says ‘ball’.”

On her word book, upon seeing the black kitten: “That says ‘baby Henry’.”

On uncle Sean: “Uncle Sean don’t sit on the potty.”

Categories: Abigailia Tags: ,

All Square

June 12, 2010 1 comment

This pretty much tells you all you need to know about the US England game:

Apparently I should thank Noelle, for taking the picture, although it was received via das Boster.

As expected, O’Brien’s is the the pace to do anything US Soccer related.

Update: Let me add this as my favorite headline from the British tabloids. I LOL’d.

Update to the update:

Okay, this photo from The Offside Rules really wins:

Categories: Soccer Tags: ,

Reading Flesh and Fire

I should start off by saying that I don’t love fantasy. To set the bar for you, I’m someone who has never read The Lord of the Rings. Let me clarify: I’ve never finished reading The Lord of the Rings. I’ve tried. On one occasion, I made it halfway through the third book before I quit.

There seems to be a language barrier for me. If I met someone on the street who talked the way fantasy authors write, I would consider them a pompous ass.

Flesh and Fire: Book One of the Vineart War by Laura Anne Gilman isn’t as over-the-top with the overwrought dialogue and description as some I’ve read, but there’s no question that you’re reading a fantasy novel. For one thing, there’s the title; it might be a reference to the flesh of the grapes and … burning, but otherwise it’s unrelated to the contents of the book.

Here’s the basic gist. “Flesh and Fire” takes place in a fictional, post-medieval world where grapes can be used to make not only wine, but “spellwine” which has all manner of magical properties. You can use it to make fire, affect the weather, heal people and generally make the world a better place. The knowledge of growing and creating these wines is controlled by the Vinearts, who have a mystical connection to the land and the wines. The story follows Jerzy, an apprentice Vineart, as he learns his craft and becomes aware of an unseen evil attacking the land.

There are a number of elements of this book that I quite liked. First of all, the magic itself was very compelling. The way the user take a mouthful and says the words before swallowing to release the magic felt very real. It was a visceral magic, something that connected the users body to the end result. The descriptions of the cultivation and distillation of the grapes and wine through Jerzy’s five sense was also extremely compelling.

This is also a fairly well realized world. There are no trolls or dwarves, mercifully, and the fantasy setting is interesting from a political and social setting. This is no utopia. Slavery is rife and the city-states seem to be constantly bickering.

Yet that same political intrigue, which Gilman uses as a foundation for much of the plot, feels paper thin for most of the novel. It does deepen a little at the end, but an entire subplot around a foreign island is forgettable and unbelievable. We’re told that these two dimensional characters are excellent at politics and diplomacy, but that’s the only reason we might suspect them of it.

Those sections reminded me of my 2 year old daughter running around the house, shouting, “I’m sneaking!” If she hadn’t told me, I wouldn’t have known.

There is a quality core to “Flesh and Fire” that comes out when we deal with Jerzy and his life. And the ending hints at a deeper exploration of the politics of the world than we’ve seen thus far. If you like fantasy and are looking for something different, I’d recommend this book.

If you don’t like fantasy, or you’re afraid that it sounds like the annoying fantasy language has been replaced by annoying wine snobbery, I would say you’d be right to give this one a pass.


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