July 2006

Cup of Soup

Wed, Jul 5, 2006

Wear Sunscreen - Part 2

You know, that sunscreen bit really is a good piece of advice, and should always be heeded.

Ow.... mercy...

Sun, Jul 9, 2006

A World Away

World Cup 2006 has come to a close after a month of the Beautiful Game not always at its most beautiful. Fatherland Portugal finished fourth place after being ousted by a Zinedine Zidane penalty kick in the semi-final. An admirable finish for a small country, though I wasn't impressed with the way they won some of their games. Ronaldo, you've got an amazing talent, and you could grow into an incredible footballer, but please grow up. The diving and whining will not do.

Italy managed to come away with their fourth championship despite, in my opinion, never looking overly strong and needing lots of help, most notably a last-minute controversial penalty kick in the early knockout round. The Final will be best remembered, however, for Zinedine Zidane's red-carded head butt on Materazzi, the final act of his illustrious career putting his team a man down before surprisingly bowing out on penalties. I wonder what Materazzi said to fire him off. I'm certain it wasn't very nice.

Unfortunately, that's the resounding note of this World Cup. Among the wonderful football that was played, there was a disgraceful Portugal-Netherlands match, red cards galore, and some blatant contrast to the Fair Play mantra. The worst, in my opinion, came from Italy's Gattuso in an otherwise exciting semi-final. After taking a tumble with Ballack, the two got up and embraced in a sorry-no-problem manner. And then Gattuso pinched him in the neck. Nice guy.

Some things never change. A World Cup ends in controversy, and Italy wins the diving crown yet again.

Sat, Jul 15, 2006

Feeling Flat

The hockey gods must be against me lately. I often participate in a late-night scrimmage on Fridays, but the past two weeks my plans have been thwarted. Last week, it was due to my unfortunate and ill-advised sunburn, making it quite impossible to handle all that equipment and blistering slap shots screeching for a collision with my near-blistering skin. This time, it was car trouble.

As I left home, I noticed that the ride felt a little off. I pulled into the Ex, just a couple of blocks away, and got out to investigate. Sure enough, I had a flat tire. Never having actually changed a tire myself before, I had to wing it. I knew the basics, though: jack up the car, remove the lug nuts, change the tire, replace the nuts, lower the car, done.

"No problem," I thought. "This shouldn't be too hard."

Didn't I feel the fool when I couldn't figure out how to use the jack.

The handle was attached to the jack in such a way that I couldn't figure out how to remove it. I pulled it, turned it, twisted it; the thing wouldn't budge. I must have looked rather silly standing there with a spare tire on the ground, holding the jack in my hands, and simply staring at it.

Eventually, I discovered the magic required to remove it (you had to manually lower the jack a bit and it would unhinge), and got to work. The rest was easy, and I got to feel kinda manly as I got my hands dirty doing auto work.

The next problem arose, though, as I finished. It seemed that a concert or some other sort of show at Ricoh or the Trade Centre had just let out, and the roads jammed up entirely while I was busy at work. It took a solid ten minutes just to get out of the block, and by then, it was far too late to make it to the rink and get dressed before our ice time would be up.

So, I drove the two blocks back home, and hauled my goalie equipment - unused - back inside. Another evening of hockey missed. The cool rink would have been nice in this humid heat, too. At least, however, some chick in a cowboy hat said I looked pretty sexy doing all that manual labour as she drove by, so it wasn't all bad.

Mon, Jul 31, 2006

Taking A Risk

Next year, Canada will be hosting the FIFA U20 World Cup, with Toronto hosting centre stage. It will be at the new soon-to-be-completed National Soccer Stadium, which just so happens to be down the street from me. Canada isn't exactly a soccer/football power, and the U20 World Cup is the largest tournament FIFA runs aside from the quadrennial show. An event like this will not come this way again.

With that thought in mind, I took a gamble and bought a ticket package at a hefty price, hoping see some young stars emerge, and sell off some extras to recoup the loss. Canada is not likely to make it beyond the Round of 16, so the hope I had was that Portugal would qualify and I would be able to see the future stars of the Homeland perform; a grand day out for me and my Dad.

The problem is that I had no idea who would qualify, or even how; info on the matter was a little scarce, and much of the qualifying probably won't take place until early next year. For the sake of getting centre-line seats, I decided to go for it anyway and hope for the best.

Much to my surprise - and relief - just a few days later I discovered that Europe's qualifiers had just been determined, and that Portugal had made the cut.

Now I just have to hope they have a playoff game in Toronto. And that enough friends want to buy the extras so I don't have to swallow six games' worth of tickets.

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