May 27, 2006

Duck...Duck...(Oh Shoot!)

I don't often consider my life buzzworthy for personal stories, but I must make an exception for this one. I have worked lawn maintenance for 6 summers now, but no experience quite compares to this one.

My crew was at the mall for the day to mow, trim, blow, pull weeds, and pick up 9 billion cigarette butts (which reproduce faster than an asexual insect). I was in the middle of a juniper bed, doing my best to weed-out wiregrass and the like. The juniper was almost knee-high. It was such a mundane activity that i didn't give it any second thought. Generally speaking, I am pretty aware of my surroundings. This time would prove to be an exception however. I was walking in the middle of the bed making my way to the far side, when as I stepped and reached for a weed, a UFO (denotatively, an "unidentified flying object") came from the juniper. A frighented moan ensued. (I'm not exactly sure how to describe the noise which proceeded from my mouth. I'm glad it was a sound and not a word...)

This "thing", coming from my feet, swiftly made its way towards my face, giving me no time to respond. As it flew up, it "billed" my arm, almost breaking the skin. As you may have figured out by now, it was a bird. Its size would have warranted both my arms to carry it. (about 7 pounds) As I gathered myself, I eyed the bird until it was out of striking range. As I looked down to where I had stepped, I noticed a nest with 4 whole eggs and 2 cracked ones. For you einsteins out there, yes! I stepped on two of the eggs. As the bird made its way across the parking lot, I realized it was a duck or goose of some sort. I was glad the goose either didn't have teeth or didn't decide to use them. It was quite adventurous to say the least. I will definitely think twice before jumping in a juniper again! Also, playing Duck, Duck, Goose now has more meaning than ever!

May 14, 2006

Cup-Winners

The falls road girls overcame a physical, tough defense which packed the defensive third of the field for most of the game to claim their first girls' soccer state championship. Things were looking up as Falls Road held possession and had the best chances on goal through the first half. Danger struck the Crusaders by surprise when a Hickory forward received a centered ball at midfield, split the defenders, and beat the goal in a 1 v. 1 matchup. With 15 minutes to play, the 'Saders would need a goal to force Extra Time. Goals had been hard to come by so far. Hickory played either a 4-4-2 or a 4-5-1, forcing the Crusaders to make short, quick passes amid a quick and aggressive back four. Corner kicks were no opportunity, as the girls from Hickory packed 8 into the box to thwart the corner.

Even though the goal was a tough blow, the Crusaders did not drop their heads. They continued to produce chances, as they had done all game. In the 71st minute, an indirect free kick was given to Falls Road via a dangerous play by Hickory. Kristy Legg set-up for the kick, curling it away from the goalie toward the far post. The keeper attempted the save, only to see the ball deflect off her fingers and into the Hickory net. Jubilation ensued on the Falls Road half, as well as in the stands, where the Crusaders had much support. Six minutes later, a loose ball bounced into the Hickory penalty box. As two defenders merged to meet the ball, Anna Taylor dispossessed them, and volleyed the ball into the back of the net, leaving the keeper no chance. The Crusaders took the lead, 2-1. Hickory saw no great chances after the 2nd goal, and at full time, Falls Road lifted the cup (ok, it was a trophy).

This state championship is Falls Road's 3rd on the year. You can read more from the game here.

Congratulations to the 'Sader girls for a great season, a great year, and great memories in the years to come. Go Falls Road!

May 12, 2006

Five-Star(bucks) hotel

Soft beds. Indoor pool. Wi-Fi. Complimentary Breakfast. Proximity. Price. I don't know what you look for in a hotel/motel, but one feature especially drew me near to the Hampton Inn in Fayetteville, NC as I drove in the parking lot. My exact words were: "Oh my, there's a Starbucks across the street!!!" (and yes, JWC,Jr., I thought of you as I passed that sacred place). Starbucks has been a staple for me as I have endured grueling days/nights at school. Well, until tomorrow morning, when a specific need is met...

- btw...don't miss (seriously) the bananas-n-cream frappucino that Starbucks will debut May 15th. Absolutely Stunning!!! (thanks for the sample "Starbucks man" - aforementioned)

T-shirt Epiphany

Shazaam! ... You know what I mean?!? OK, I'll explain. Have you ever been somewhere and a great T-shirt idea comes into your mind. You quickly write it down, because the last time this happened, you swore you'd remember, but like every other time you forgot. I guess my T-shirt fetish is derived from two avenues: (1) I worked at a camp for a summer...unique t-shirts are a must! Having a duplicate "Tee" is to write the proverbial "L" on the forehead. (And no, Napoleon Dynamite t-shirts are not cool. They never were!) (2) I try to have a "style all my own." Not that everything of mine is original, but I'm not the "poser" type.

Anyway, I was in Greek class going through I John, when my teacher got off on a lexicon tangent, a necessary tangent however. The gist of his tirade (a bit strong, maybe) was to make the point that lexicons are not inspired; they may not always be right! Following this series of thoughts was a statement that caught my attention: "Lexicographers are people too!" This may mean nothing to you, because it didn't matter to anyone else in my class, which left me feeling like an idiot. Regardless, I really found that funny, as I thought of wearing a t-shirt bearing that inscription while in the mall, only to have all who would pass by stare, but without the care and/or courage to ask what a "Lexicographer" is. Maybe I'm just weird, but "intellectual" humor tickles my funny bone. Maybe that bone has been displaced.

- One day, i'll be ticked that I didn't design that tee-shirt myself and sell it...ok, so I'm a little ambitious.

Local talent is the Best!

I don't know where your musical taste(s) dwell(s), but one a personal favorite of mine can be found somewhere in the acoustic guitar realm. A friend of mine(SG), who is an awesome guitarrist himself from Tennessee, informed me of a "Local" from the Chattanooga area. He does vocals and acoustic guitar, along with some piano. His name is Josh(ua) Bales. Check out his webpage. Available for listening are full tracks of a few selections from his two albums. As a neophyte guitarrist myself, I really appreciate "home-grown" talent, especially the solo type (basically meaning sans band). His "self-titled" work is on my top 5 "cd's-to-buy" list. If you visit the site and/or get a cd of him, leave a comment. I just thought i'd pass the word.

3-Peat??? (Into the Final)

The Falls Road (my high school) girls will be playing in the State Final in soccer for their 3rd state championship of the year. The other two were in volleyball and basketball. The Semi-final got off to a bit of a rough start as Sheets Memorial scored an early goal (9') off of a sloppy corner (you know, girls' style, where all the players stand with their hands in the air feebly attempting the strike the ball). Anyway, the Falls Road girls got even in a few minutes off a corner of their own. They went ahead only two minutes later after a nice one-two between Anna Taylor and Kristen Godwin (my sister). Godwin was the goal scorer; Taylor with the assist. It was 3-1 Falls Road at the half. The second half was somewhat uneventful, but Falls Road did seal the deal with their fourth goal. At full time, the score was 4-1.

They will play the winner of Berean/Hickory (in progress) at 12:00 pm EST. Best of luck to all of the girls!

Go #2 and #11!!! (players of particular interest for me...)

May 4, 2006

linchpins for Success at World Cup

The USA is currently ranked 4th in the FIFA standings (that's world, people), the highest ranking ever for the States. That's cool and possibly a keeper stat, but it's not as telling as much as would be imagined or desired. Brazil, at number 1, is in a world of their own. It will take a monumental effort on the opponent's part to dethrone the soccer titans of the world. Country's ranked between 2-10 are basically the same caliber. This should not discourage however. The US team is finally as good as, if not better than the England side(a personal wish of mine would be a 2-0 win against England's starting XI), Portugal, Spain, and maybe even Italy and the Czech, which happen to be our group stage opponents. Drumroll please...the linchpins for success for the US team this summer in Germany are as follows: (i'll try to avoid the absolute obvious elements)
  1. No more injuries!!! We are not terribly deep when it comes to world-class talent. Truthfully, world-class talent may not even characterize every starter we have. An injury to the likes of Donovan, Beasley, or Reyna could spell disaster, which being interpreted is "not getting out of the group stage"
  2. No own goals!!! (This is a flashback from the '02 Cup when Jeff Agoos (bless his heart) netted one for the other team against Portugal, nearly costing us 3 vital points against a world power. ) I don't see the US team scoring 3+ goals against either Italy or the Czech, so an own goal would prove costly.
  3. Avoiding extraneous lineup adjustments. The best starting XI should play every match with only a switch or two depending upon the opponent (maybe). In 2002, Arena used several different starting lineups, which I honestly believe disrupts flow and consistency, at best. To his credit, Arena has almost too much talent sitting on the bench. There are guys that can contribute. But it's Arena's job to play the best, and to make only those subs which are vital.
  4. A dominant Central Midfield. Guys like Ballack, Ronaldinho, etc. can totally change the match with their 5-star play. We will see how well our defensive unit fares against the world best.
  5. Set-piece goals. The US undoubtedly have some of the largest defenders in the Cup. Onyewu is HUGE. Between him, Bocanegra, McBride, we should have several goals off restarts. Most times, not enough priority is placed on set pieces. I would venture to say that behind Germany, and maybe another country (just room for mistake), the US is as good as they come in the air.
  6. Finally, some good bounces. I'm not a believer in fate, nor am I a fatalist, but sometimes you just gotta get the bounces. We'll see. It should be a good Cup.
All this comes from a soccer player, referree, self-proclaimed analyst, and fan. These views may not necessarily be objective or fair by nature. But I do issue a promise, I will not be like some (Billy Packer, Eric Wynalda) who rub their "points of importance" in others' faces. (sorry, just a pet pieve).

May good futbol result from training in Cary, NC and crescendo in Germany! Go USA!!!