Sunday, July 15, 2018

Okay I'm a little freaked out

Hi to anyone who reads this.  This is Rose and I'm Dave's stepdaughter.  I came home this morning from seeing my sister for a week and the house was just empty.  I mean my cat Ruby is here and the dogs too but my Gramma and Grampa and my Mom and Dave and the kids are all not here.

There was a note on Dave's computer saying to make this blog?  I don't think it's Dave's handwriting though.  I don't know what's going on and I'm kind of scared.  The blog window was open and his email was too but the only emails in it were the ones Dave wrote and so I posted them here.  When people made comments I just added them at the end of what Dave wrote.  It looks like he sent them all to his Infinity group?  I guess that's cool they're into soccer and all.

Anyway I'm a little freaked out and if you hear from Dave or my Mom or anyone can you let them know I'm at my dad's?  I don't want to be alone in this house.  I'm going to tell the neighbor about Ruby and the dogs too so they'll be okay.

EDIT: I read the emails as I was posting them and now I'm really freaked out.  No one is answering their phones either.  I don't think I like soccer anymore.  I'm going to take my cat with me too.

First Day of the 2018 Cup

Hey all - did anyone see it?  I just caught the highlights (gave my last final yesterday).  Russia is the lowest-ranked team in FIFA right now - 1 draw and 5 losses in the pre-Cup run-off - but they beat the Saudis 5 to nothing.

It seems like at least one of those goals - maybe two - was really the goalie's fault.  I'm not accusing them of throwing the game, just having a sucky goalie.

The game I'm REALLY excited for is tomorrow, 11am my time, between Spain and Portugal.  I mean, three hours before that is the game between Morocco and Iran - Iran is super-strong and there've been accusations of witchcraft (!!) against Morocco so that's weird, but Spain and Portugal have some awesome teams.

Too soon to tell yet who I think will take it - Germany and Brazil are always contenders (Brazil isn't looking like they did 20 years ago, but they're still fun to watch) - and we'll see what happens between the Iberians tomorrow.

Exciting!  Does anyone else care about World Cup?

  -Dave

Mark said: I don't, but I'm ok with people that are.

Rob said: Ya I’m down for some world cup. If I had any friends or time I might go to a bar and watch a game.

Mark said: See, I don't feel threatened because you guys are into that. It's cool.

Mark said: Ed said he was curious about the world cup. You guys should take him to one of those bars.

Steve said: We are your friends Rob.

Steve said: Except Ed... he told me he hates everything you represent.

Mark said: No. Ed said he just hates the way Rob is all like "I'm Rob, la la la..."

Direct quote.


Steve said: I do love the World Cup. But really I just like to watch soccer.  I don't follow which teams are good or not... and don't have time to keep up with all of the games... but it's fun to watch.

Second day of the Cup

We're appreciative that you're an ally, Mark.

So the Spain-Portugal match looked really exciting.  As far as I could tell someone named 'Nacho' scored one of the Spanish goals, which was cool.  Nachos are Tex-Mex though so probably an anomoly.  The game tied three-to-three at the end (they don't go into over time or anything, in this part of the Cup).  Lots of good goaltending which is what I care about the most.

But the Iran-Morocco game was more interesting, and I'm sorry I missed that one even more: Iran won, one to nothing, because of a Morrocan own-goal.   I had to go to a conference at Rose's school today - end of her junior year and plans for her as a senior (!) - so I missed the games.  Ah, well.  Her teacher showed me a cool clip though.  I wish I could find it - all sorts of fans dressed up, and a bunch of people in what looked like the Moroccan section in gaudy red robes.  Seriously - it was like they had their heads down in a prayer of some sort during the match.  It was a bit eerie, now that I write it, but maybe I was misinterpreting something that went by quickly in a crappy youtube thing from Russia.

I'm trying to find a good video - if you go here:


You can at least see the highlights and goals and stuff.  

Let's see - the next game I'm looking forward to is Nigeria vs Croatia - not because it will be a good game, but because the Nigerian team is always fun to watch.  Not the best, but there's a joy in the game that the Germans (for instance) don't seem to have as much of.  Germany vs Mexico on Sunday should also be tight - lots of talent there.  My money's on Germany but one never knows.

  -Dave

World Cup Day Three

Y'all know I'm'a do one of these each day this month, right?  Any day there are games, anyway.

France beat Australia 2-1 - no real surprise there.  

Here's a highlight video from France-Australia:


I mean, yeah, it's some good soccer.  But look at 0:08 - in the middle-ish of the screen, the person wearing pink in an oval of yellow.  I saw that on TV from a different angle - I swear right next to pink-shirt was someone in a long black robe, waving their arms around and... invoking, is the word I think we need here.  I've been looking for a better clip but I gotta get grades in too - and maybe I'm just imagining things.

Iceland tied Argentina 1-1, yay Iceland!  It's their first cup!  I suspect Argentina was as surprised as anyone there - Messi tried but just couldn't get another goal.

And Denmark beat Peru 1-0.  Mmmm, Peru looked okay, Denmark looked okay - see what happens.

As I write this the Croatia-Nigeria game has just started its second half; 1-0 in favor of Croatia so far.  From what I've seen the game's been kind of boring.

I haven't seen anything else as egregious as the bad plays by the Saudi goaltender in the first game, and so far the scrappy underdogs have been the most exciting to watch (Iceland!)  Shaping up to be a decent Cup so far but not the best I've seen.

  -Dave

Almost done with the first set of pre-lim matches

Croatia beat Nigeria, 2-0.  Not too surprising, but I expected Nigeria to do better.  There was a cloud of bats that swooped around the field and distracted the goalie during one of the penalties - and another penalty he just jumped the wrong way.  It happens.

Serbia beat Costa Rica 1-0, and Denmark beat Peru 1-0, and so far it seems like the whites are beating the browns, if you see what I mean.  Fucking European crackers.

Lots of goals scored on penalty kicks.  Some pretty aggressive play out there!

Brazil tied Switzerland 1-1 and while I don't think Brazil's gonna take it this time, they're always just a joy to watch.  They oddsmakers give them the best chance of winning, but I suspect it'll be one of the Ibereans.  Germany, France, and Argentina are looking okay, but Argentina tied and Germany lost, so maybe not.

Wish they'd shown more of the fans on the clips I was able to see - Brazil fans are notorious for partying HARD.

Mexico beat Germany 1-0 in the biggest surprise so far - and it almost looked like the German defender lost his mind for a second and kicked it in his own goal!  I'm certain that's not true, though.  Good goaltending on Germany's part for sure, but their offense just wasn't looking good today, and Mexico crushed it.

Well there's six more matches in Matchday 1.  There's 8 groups of four teams each, so 3 matchdays so that each team can play the three others in their group.  3 points for a win, 1 for a tie, 0 for a loss.  Top 16 advance to quarterfinals.

Stay tuned for more tomorrow!  Sweden v S. Korea, Belgium v Panama, Tunisia v. England.  England's the best of the lot, on paper, but we'll see how they look on the field.

  -Dave

Matchday 1 group F/G

No real surprises from the results.  Some strange ref behavior though.

England over Tunisia 2-1.  Tunisia scored on a penalty when an English player shoved a Tunisian player right over.  What was not caught was the English player who got stabbed; forwards are notoriously drama-queens and it just looked like he stumbled and then fell over.  The red shirt hid the blood but you could see the Tunisian's curved blade in the replay.  Kane scored both of England's goals - one on a rebound and one on a header - and it seemed like he'd be a better choice for a stabbing.

Belgium over Panama 3-0.  As foretold by prophecy: Belgium's ranked in the top 5, and Panama.... not so much.

Sweden over South Korea 1-0.  The goal was scored on a penalty kick - and it was a weird one.  Maybe there was a slide-tackle and maybe not (the Swedes sure thought so) so after several minutes (you could see the neck flaps on the ref during this time) a video review was called, and the penalty kick awarded.  Shame, really, because South Korea looked like the stronger team for most of the match.  Although really it's kind of moot, because these two teams are in the same group as Mexico and Germany, so Sweden and S. Korea are really kind of fighting for third.

I'm tracking down what was going on with the ref in that match - I'll post later if I learn more.

  -Dave

Rob said: I have to say, I'm quite enjoying this reporting.

End of Matchday one and the start of Matchday two

Thanks Rob!

So we're done with the first round of group matches and into the third.  It's been a weird Cup so far - we've seen four own-goals so far; the most own-goals ever scored in a Cup was six, in 1998.  We'll see what happens!

Plus, Russia.  Oh, geez, Russia...

But first let's finish the Groupday 1 matches.  Japan over Columbia 2-1, with the first red card of the Cup to Columbia (in, like, the third minute).  That meant Columbia's down a man (and will be down a player in their next game too), and Japan played SUPER aggressively.  Columbia's always fun to watch but Japan got it done.  Bit of an upset there but good on you, Japan!

Then Senegal over Poland, 2-1.  Poland looked better on paper, but messed around with the FIFA ranking system to get into the cup.  Senegal's team is 'The Lions of Hospitality' and they actually looked pretty good - but one of their goals was an own-goal off a Polish defender, and the other was because a player had come in to sub from an injury, so the keeper (who was distracted by bright lights and a terrible guttural sound from the stands) didn't see him, and the sub scored on an open goal.  Senegal's pretty hyped but I don't think they'll go too far this tournament, since they're in a group with Columbia and Japan.  Mad props to the Senegalese goalkeeper, though - some of the best keeping I've seen in a while.

And then the first of the second match day with Russia against Egypt.  Russia won 3-1, and one of Russia's goals was the fourth own-goal of the Cup.  It looked suspicious, to tell the truth.  Egypt's superstar Salah looked - fine, not the best but not the worst.  I saw the dead start to rise and enter the stadium, but they weren't needed to secure the win for the home team, this time.  It was only a few of the dead, anyway - some sloppy necromancy there.  As a team Egypt was way too tricky - you know when you run over the ball and pass it behind you?  Yeah.  That's some amateur middle-school shit right there.  Egypt's keeper was having an off day too - maybe he was fazed by the presence of the Russian undead.

Russia, to remind you, was the lowest-ranked FIFA team going into the Cup (you get in when you host).  So far I've seen more of Russia's wins because of opponent errors than any stellar Russian play - but they've been up against Saudi Arabia and Egypt, not exactly powerhouses.  We'll look closely at their match against Uruguay on June 25th for shenanigans.

Here's my top-five picks from what I've seen so far:  Spain, Portugal, Mexico, Belgium, Brazil.

Belgium's only in there because of the waffles, though.

It's been a weird first-day set of matches - not 'Wow Exciting!' weird, but 'hunh.  Didn't expect that.' weird.

Okay!  One of three groupdays down - and the second one started!

  -Dave

Steve said: I don't know... I am enjoying the hell out of this commentary.. but I'm starting to doubt the accuracy and the commitment to "fair and balanced" reporting... I've rewatched the England v. Tunisia game three times through and never once saw that curved blade.  There's six hours of my life I'll never get back...

Fully into Matchday Two

They edited it out in post, Steve.  You gotta know a guy with a camera there, or see one of the Deep Black website's coverage.  I'd send you a URL but I don't know them - I have a box on my desk that does all the VPN security stuff.  Leah Knight got in touch with one of her Russian contacts for me - it's not about WHAT you know, but WHO.

All three games 1-0 today.  Communication with our robotic overlords perhaps?  Seems like since they run the internet we wouldn't need that, unless the R.O. are themselves split into factions that we're sending some sort of message to.  Dunno why the message is 333 but there you go.

Portugal beat Morocco.  No real surprises there.  Some solid goaltending on Morocco's part - Portugal took just a ton of shots, so good on Morocco for keeping the score as low as possible.  A few bloodvine tendrils snuck out of the corners but their druidic handlers, naked and covered in woad, urged them back to quiescence until the quarterfinals.  Some exciting action previewed there - if I were a midfielder I'd be thinking really hard about those corner kicks!

Uruguay beat Saudi Arabia.  As foretold by prophecy.  Vlad P keeping his cards close to his chest on this one, for sure; Russia's been playing well but their advancement to the quarterfinals speaks more to Saudi Arabia and Egypt being in their group (although I kind of expected Mummy power to play more of an influence and Egypt advancing, especially with Russia's pre-Cup shittiness.  Vlad P rolls deep on this one.)

Spain beat Iran.  Again, no surprises - Iran's got a good team but they had a bad draw to be in a group with Spain and Portugal.  Although this group is still up for grabs (except for Morocco).  Spain was clearly dominant - especially in the second half - but it had some weird moments.  The Iranian goalie got kicked in the head when there was a pile-up in front of the goal, and for a moment you could see the metal of its skull shining through until the skin-layer healed and reformed.  Iran's goal early on was ruled invalid because of offsides in a video review - and that really broke their spirit.  Then in injury time an Iranian attempted a somersault free-throw, but an impeding madness and doom consumed his mind and he messed it up, wasting valuable time.  Still, it could have been sweet!

That's all for today.

  -Dave

Matchday Two Second day

Is it confusing to anyone else that each Matchday lasts several days?

Hokay.  We'll save Argentina vs Croatia for last because that's the most important.

So first off Denmark Tied Australia 1-1.  Denmark scored in the sixth minute, some sort of giant bat-winged eyeless bug thing dragged off one of the sideline refs, and then Australia scored on a penalty.  There's been a lot of talk about video review for penalties - when do we go to them, for instance, and who decides that, and here's a quote from the Guardian:

Among other things, Russia 2018 is destined to be remembered for the advent of middle-aged men in the stands doing TV gestures with their hands whenever there is the slightest contact in the box. The VAR debate rumbles on.

Anyway.  I don't expect extra-dimensional fungi will play much of a role moving forward, especially as how they seem only to be targeting sideline refs and, like, third string coaches and subs.  Additionally, neither team have a lot of scoring power, and I don't expect either to get to the final four.

France beat Peru 1-0.  The goal for France was scored by a 19-year-old, the youngest scorer ever at the Cup.  In four years I hope to be the oldest scorer ever in the Cup, but I have some work to do there!   Peru actually looked pretty good but just couldn't get it in the goal - France advances to the next round and Peru is out.  It's a shame because Peru is scrappy - 

And then Croatia beat Argentina 3-0.  Argentina has the world's best player (Lionel Messi) but they just couldn't get him the ball, and the Argentinian goaltender was not playing his best.  Croatia, wearing black with red lettering, started the game by sacrificing a lamb painted to look like Wilfredo Caballero (the Argentinian keeper); it's hard to say if the sacrifice itself, or the formless winged monstrosities that hovered over the goal for most of the game, broke Caballero's spirit.  Whatever it was it's really on his shoulders that the loss needs to hang - between this, and the tie with Iceland, Caballero might be preventing Argentina's Cup bid.  It's a shame, really - a loss for Argentia is a win for dark sorceries and the forces that oppose the light - here represented by Messi.

Anyway.  Exciting times in the World Cup; we're starting to see the round of 16 shaping up!  Stay tuned for more tomorrow - the next games are Brazil vs Costa Rica (the important one), Nigeria vs Iceland (the fun one), and Switzerland vs Serbia (the meh one).  Marry-Fuck-Kill, there!

  -Dave

P.S.  If you want to see what USA Today thought about the World Cup countries before any games were played, well, here you go:


And here's a good little thing - maybe better written than mine! - about the top-ish ten teams so far:

Another exciting Cup day for different reasons than the scores

Hey all.

Brazil 2-0 over Costa Rica.  Both goals in stoppage time; five minutes into the match a giant maw opened in the middle of the field and proceeded to scream for seven minutes (it was ruled too hazardous to play; the ref who approached too closely had to be carried from the field, writhing and moaning and bleeding from the eyes and ears).

Even though with that rough start it took a while to get going, Brazil dominated.  Of course.  I expect good things from them but I always do - coming from Detroit where 'team winning' = 'city burning' it's nice to see a place where 'team winning' = 'naked dancing'.

Nigeria over Iceland, also 2-0.  Bummer for the scrappy Icelandic team but Nigeria's just a tick better.  Iceland started out really strong and looked dominant during the first half, and only some really, really strong work on the keeper's part kept them from scoring.  At half time Musa took a captured Hulduf√≥lk and ate it, in full view of the Iceland team, grinning maniacally as fairy blood poured down his chest.  He's one of the up-and-coming superstars, and went on to score both Nigerian goals against a shaken and broken Icelandic team.

Switzerland over Serbia 2-1.  Serbia scored in the fourth minute; after that, every time I try to watch the game or even just highlights I just see a dark cowled face, repeating my name in a gravelly and quite sinister voice - when I come too the video is over and I am weeping, drenched with sweat, and just all in all kind of a mess.  All I remember is the terrible, terrible eyes.

Both teams were well-matched going into it, but I really don't want to think too much more about that horrible visage and the madness it seems to promise.  Good for Switzerland, I suppose.

All in all no surprises on the outcomes today.  There's a ton of analysis on what teams need to do in each group so far to advance, but that shit bores the piss out of me and I feel kind of wrung out anyway so I'm for bed.

Update tomorrow if I can keep my shit together.

  -Dave

Mark said: Now I see why people watch.

More from Matchday Two

Okay.  I can do this.  We've got one more day in Matchday two, and then FOUR games a day for Matchday three, but then the pace slows a bit.  I'm starting to dream about soccer but soccer in a kind of nightmare dimension, where the ball is some sort of squishy slimy tentacle-monster and the object is to remain sane or at least alive by the end of the match.

Anyway.  No real surprises with the scores today.

Belgium over Tunisia 5-2.  Belgium scored in the sixth minute on a penalty, and then again in the fifteenth minute on a text-book perfect play.  There was a lot of action this game - Look at that score! - But Belgium was clearly dominant.  I kind of expect them to go to the final four.

Mexico beat S. Korea 2-1.  Not very exciting, really, and even Son Heung-min's magic talisman, glowing throughout the second half of the match, couldn't give him more than one goal.

Germany beat Sweden 2-1.  Boateng got a second yellow card and was sent off, so Germany finished down a man.  If you read other analyses on the web they'll talk about how Germany looked down and out and it was a last-minute miracle play that saved them - that's not the game I saw.  I saw a dominant and skilled German team with a tight defense and a precise offense giving just enough of a push to beat a clearly weaker team.

But then again I also saw one of the refs consulting with his parasitic twin on some of the calls, and none of the other analysis mentioned that, so maybe I saw a DIFFERENT Germany vs Sweden match.

Okay.  Not too bad today, as far as ending my day of soccer viewing curled up and weeping on the floor goes.  I guess that's the new 'good day' condition over here in Portland, hey?

  -Dave

Mike said: I wish you were a professional commentator.

Ed said: Mexico FTW Dave. Enough of your dismissive partisan commentary.

Last from Matchday Two

Thanks Mike - I actually was offered a position as the Sports Editor for the Miskatonic Tradesmen and Fisheries Journal, but their interview was... well, strange, and they wanted me to come back during the new moon for some sort of aquatic induction ritual, and that just seemed excessive.

And Ed - I was only dismissing Mexico when compared to Spain and Portugal and Belgium and England and Brazil and Germany.  For some examples.  Yah, maybe at the start I had Mexico down compared to Argentina and Croatia and Uruguay, for examples, but they've shown their ability to succeed - beating both Germany and South Korea (one of those is more exciting than the other, of course).  If they do well against Sweden I think they have a good shot at the final four.

Three more matches.  Japan and Senegal tied 2-2.  This was one of the more exciting matches to watch, because both teams played aggressively, creatively, and made mistakes which the other team took advantage of.  I doubt either will make it to the final four, but right now both are tied for top of their group (which they share with Poland and Columbia - none of them are traditional Cup powerhouses but it's still anyone's Cup.)

Columbia beat Poland 3-0.  Poland's out of the final 4, and Columbia looks shaky (They have to beat Senegal next game, and Japan has to lose to Poland, for Columbia to advance).  It was not a very exciting match - Columbia dominated.  Even the Polish Black Friars holding a Black Mass could not help defend against Columbia's offense - but Columbia needs to significantly up their defence game to beat Senegal and (if it happens) most of the other teams that might make it to the next round; I just don't see them with the team talent or the coaching to get there.

And then England beat Panama 6-1.  No lie.  That's huge and Harry Kane might be one of the best offensive players this cup (he scored three of England's goals, even though two were on penalties and his third was a fluke - a shot bounced off his heel).  I mean, Panama has a meh team, but England was surgically precise with their offense and their shots on goal.  I would say the Panamanian keeper wasn't up to snuff but I think he's actually pretty good - England was just on fire.  That they had each player led on by a Cerro Azul Monster instead of the 'traditional' child mascot was a risky move for their second Cup match.  It could have gone differently but I think the risk paid off - hindsight's 20-20, though, innit?  Whatever else happens I am expecting the best game of the Cup during this elimination round to be England vs Belgium (local to Portland that'll be Thursday June 28th 11am.)

It was Panama's first ever goal in the World Cup, though, so good on them.  Bummer to be a first-time Cup only to have your first two games against Belgium and England, but there you go.

Again, a dreamless tears-free Cup day so it's all good here in Portland.  Matchday 2 is over!  Next week I expect to be difficult in a variety of ways.  Wish me luck.

  -Dave

P.S.  I reserved a blogspot name - I forget which (something like Exciting Cup 2018) - so after this is all over I'll go through and post it for posterity.  It'll be interesting to see what happens and once we go into the 16 I'll make a call who I think's gonna advance to the quarterfinals and the semifinals - and then leave it for the world to mock or praise me, depending on how prognosticant I turn out to be.

Matchday three starts today!

We're starting to see things sort out now; see who's advancing to the qualifying round of 16.  We had groups A and B today, and C and D tomorrow, and so on.  The depths will rise to cover us all in blood and unforgiveness and our misery shall be horrendous and eternal, but soon we will have a day off and then go to two matches a day until the quarter-finals.

Anyway.  In group A it was Saudi Arabia over Egypt 2-1, and Uruguay over Russia 3-0.  Both Uruguay and Russia advance but - I think Uruguay can make it to the quarterfinals but they haven't looked so hot against Egypt and Saudi Arabia - they won both times, sure but not as decisively as they should have done.

The match between the Saudis and the Egyptians was actually pretty good - the 45 year old Egyptian Keeper stopped a penalty kick, which at this level is wicked hard to do.  Saudis got their second goal with a minute left in overtime for the win.  And the name of the angel of our undoing shall be Amenadiel, she of the lash and of the plague.

Uruguay looked... fine.  Professional and tight.  Russia was all over the place, getting a red card by Smolnikov 35 minutes in.  Both advance to the qualifiers.  If Russia makes it to the final four it will be because of dark magics or some sort of corruption, I think.

Ties all around for group B.  Iran-Portugal went 1-1.  Too bad for Iran to be in the group with both Span and Portugal, really.  Spain-Morocco was 2-2 (it almost went poorly for Spain, with a second goal in the 81st minute for Morocco, but a goal 9 seconds into injury time clinched it for the Spaniards).

So - as it stands so far, Uruguay faces Portugal in the round of 16 (my money's tentatively on Portugal but Uruguay might pull it off) and Spain vs Russia (Spain all the way).

Whew.  Four more games tomorrow.  I am starting to be in a pretty dark place with all of this.

  -Dave

Matchday three second day

More countries shaking out.  Nothing really unexpected about the rankings, but kind of a bummer for Peru and Iceland.  Not unexpected, just a bummer.  I feel like I'm repeating myself.  Like I'm stuck in a loop, on repeat, and everything I'm saying I have said before.  Before all of this and before the Darkness that is FIFA soccer came - The football in the darkness, the ball of madness.

But I digress.  No monsters today, just visions of our doom.  Inexorable and inevitable, instratingent and obdurate.  There we go.  

My screen went black partway through the France/Denmark game and then a voice whispered secrets to me - secrets that bled through my speakers directly to my mind, secrets of doom and misery.  France tied Denmark, apparently, which is enough for both teams to advance.  Was the game a good one?  Were there penalties and drama?  Perhaps, perhaps.

Peru beat Australia 2-0 but that was the battle for third, in their group.  If I was Australia, with what that team has seen, I would not be sorrowful to leave the accursed Russian fields.

Argentina over Nigeria 2-1.  I thought much more highly of the Argentinian team before the Cup; I suspect they thought they'd just let Messi sort it out, but "superstar scores a bunch of goals" isn't a very good Cup strategy.  I swear I saw some of the footage from this game in the last game Nigeria played, but I'm too tired to go back and track it down.  Things repeat inexorably.  Argentina have a few days to get it together but I doubt they'll make it much farther, especially since their next game is against France.

Croatia over Iceland 2-1.  Yup.  The Croatian keeper was phenomenal.  A good keeper is half of what you need, though, and I dunno if they've got the scoring power to advance much further.  Maybe the final four - they've been playing really, really good - but we'll see.

Okay.  More soccer tomorrow.  Mexico vs Sweden will be a tight game, Serbia vs Brazil might be interesting, I doubt we'll see anything amazing from Switzerland vs Costa Rica (boring) or South Korea vs Germany (the biggest mis-match of the tournament so far).

  -Dave 

Oh holy shit! Germany's out!

Yup.  South Korea beat Germany, 2-0.  Wow!  It's the first time in 80 years that Germany's been eliminated in the first round.  Germany took, to my eye, about twice as many shots on goal, and both of S. Korea's goals were a little sketchy, but in the end there it is.  Neither Germany nor S. Korea advance.  Wow!

Sweden over Mexico 3-0.  Slightly unexpected, but the Swedes are looking strong this Cup.  Not much else of note for this game - both Sweden and Mexico advance.

Brazil beat Serbia 2-0 and looked good doing it.

Switzerland tied Costa Rica 2-2.  The tied goal for Costa Rica in injury time was a penalty kick that bounced off the top rail of the goal, and then off the back of the goalie's head to go in.  So that's unfortunate, but Switzerland still advances.

From today the new round of 16 matches are Brazil v Mexico, and Sweden v. Switzerland.  Costa Rica, Serbia, Germany, and South Korea are all out.

My dreams were clear and easy last night, too.  Exciting times!

  -Dave

Last games of Matchday Three

Hey all - sorry for not updating sooner.  I had a good day today!  Not bitter or morose, and my apologies for the previous downer emails.

I mean, I'm a little sick - a head cold and a cough - but things are generally looking good.  The birds woke me with a song of optimism and then I watched some soccer.  A good day!

Columbia over Senegal 1-0.  In the same group, Poland beat Japan 1-0 (in a bit of an upset).  For group H that meant Columbia was first and Senegal and Japan tied for third; Japan and Senegal were also tied for points, goal difference, and goals scored, and Japan had fewer yellow cards than Senegal so Japan advances.  It's the first team to be eliminated from the Cup on fair-play.

In group G Tunisia beat Panama 2-1, in a fight over third place.  There was some fucked up goalkeeping - I still don't know if it was too fancy, or a good amount of fancy.

Belgium beat England 1-0.  I had high hopes for this game but it was kind of a bore - the other three games were all more fun to watch.  I suspect that since both teams knew they would advance no matter what, they gave their best players the night off (Kane wasn't there for the Brits, for example).  Ah, well.

Not with a bang but with a whimper, although I doubt that quote really works here.

Soccer!  The next games are on Saturday.  I'll go through the round of 16 matches and give my picks tomorrow - we'll see how well I do!

Exciting times for Cup Football!

  -Dave

Predictions for Round of 16

Hey all,

Trouble sleeping last night - weird dreams and this cold made me toss and turn.  Not the dark like last week, just.... weird.  Recursive.  Like walking down a corridor and looking at my phone to see a video of me walking down a corridor kind of stuff.

Anyway.  Who cares, right?  We're here for the football!

So here's the 8 matchups that happen over the next four days.  I'll put asterisks** next to my picks for the winners.

France** - Argentina
Uruguay - Portugal**

Spain** - Russia
Croatia** - Denmark (this was a tough one!)

Brazil** - Mexico
Belgium** - Japan

Sweden - Switzerland (too close to call)
Colombia  - England**

Of course weird things happen in the Cup so it's still anyone's tournament!  I'm pretty confident that Japan and Russia will not advance, less so about Argentina, Mexico, and Columbia, and the other two matches are really too close to call.

  -Dave

Rob said: I’m banking on Uruguay for personal reasons. But I think the final match will be England-Russia.

Ed said: Dave you don't think Messi is going to show up for Argentina against France? Rob I'll pull for Uruguay against Portugal if you pull for Mexico against Brazil.

Dave said: Ed - I've been waiting for Messi to show up at all this Cup - he's either had off days, or his team isn't giving him the support he needs.  I had Argentina in the final four, originally, but not after what we've seen so far.

I always pull for Brazil for personal reasons - but I doubt they'll take it this year.  England, Belgium, and the Iberians have all looked awesome so far.

If Russia makes it to the final four I think that'll be clear evidence of FIFA corruption.  Which, I mean, there's already clear evidence of that, you know?

Rob said: You got my vote for Mexico. But if Dave’s reporting is accurate, it ain’t gonna matter, the Russian warlocks will conspire to have Brexiters show well before losing horribly, stress on horror, to Russia.

Ed said: This France Argentina game is off the chain

Round of 16 first day

The dreams came back.  Not nightmares like I'm being chased or falling, but nightmares of an unfeeling madness, or an intelligence so different and alien that 'insane' is the only fitting descriptor.  Lovecraftian, maybe, but as an Afrofuturist I'm uncomfortable with H.P. and his ways.

Anyway.  As Ed said, the France Argentina game was off of the chain; France won 4-3.  The Portugal Uruguay game was also chainless, with Uruguay upsetting Portugal 2-1.  Messi and Ronaldo are both out, and maybe that's a metaphor for the great masses being triumphant over the individual being of will.

French 19-year-old Mbappe is the first teenager since Pele to score two points in a Cup match, and while Argentina was scrappy and worked really hard to support their star Messi, the Argentinian defense was shoddy at best, like the thoughts of the man behind the dustbins, contemplating his meagre existence and wondering if he should use the knife on himself, or on those who have wronged him first.

Well, maybe not quite that dark.  Anyway.  The goalkeeping on both sides was - acceptable.  Nothing magical.  outside of that, however, this is the first game I saw so far that really looked like Cup-level soccer - two teams battling back and forth, nothing that made me cringe because of poor play, and just a joy to revel in the sport.  I have so few things that bring me joy these days that it's nice to see a game like this.

I called it wrong - Uruguay beat Portugal and now I can't use the word 'Iberians' anymore to describe two of my picks for the final four.  Portugal just didn't have the juice this Cup, I guess - It was not the contest that I saw in France-Argentina.  The Uruguayan team of Cavani (who scored two) and Suarez was some of the tightest offense I've seen so far, and if I say the match could have been more exciting that's because I have the earlier match today as a comparison.

Cavani was replaced late in the game with an injury, probably to his hamstring (and in a touching moment he was walked off by the Portuguese Ronaldo - nice to see respect at that level, like two battling cult leaders politely dividing up their captured victims).  And the Uruguayan keeper today wasn't the best I've seen - when France meets Uruguay in a week my money's on France.  I mean, maybe Cavani can recover.  Maybe their keeper can up his game.  Maybe France won't bring it as tight and as hard as a knife to the heart, with blood on the altar.  But I predict France to go to the semi-finals.

Unless they tighten their defense (and especially their keeping) I don't see France in the finals, though.

Hmmm.  Maybe my cold blunted my senses to the looming darkness of FIFA World Cup Soccer and it's Dark Masters.  Tomorrow is Spain vs Russia, and Croatia vs Denmark.  I'm going to take a shower and contemplate my shortcomings.  Until tomorrow,

  -Dave

Russia upsets Spain

Hey!  Hey listen!  Well, listen with your eyes, I suppose, unless you have a screen reader or something.

No!  No digressions!  Soviet win - are supreme!

Yeah.  Russia beat Spain in penalty kicks.  Spain's out and Russia advances.  If it's due to FIFA corruption and black arts it was super subtle, too.

So Spain ran circles around Russia most of the game.  Literally, in the first half - Spain's only point was an own-goal from a Russian defender.  Most of the first half Spain just passed the ball around, not even trying to score.  Now maybe this was Spain thinking very little of the Russian team, and maybe this was Spain taking the piss, and maybe this was Spain taking a dive.  Hard to say.

Russia scored in the 40th minute on a penalty kick, and it went into halftime tied.

There was a quick clip during the half-time show of Putin and Gorbachev (!!) sitting down to a meal of Roasted Pig - but I think that should really be Roasted LONG Pig because it looked more like a teenage boy than swine.  I suppose those are pretty close?  The presence of 13 robed figures dressed all in scarlet in the background of the room seemed a bit sinister too - maybe some kind of Russian elite guard, and not a cabal of sinister monks, performing a dark Football ritual. 

During the second half the game got a LITTLE more interesting - but Spain was still dicking around and it went tied into overtime and beyond.

Then Russia got 4 of the kicks to Spain's 3.  Win for Russia!

Spain really looked dominant during the game - flukes like this happen all the time, during the Cup matches, but maybe it wasn't a fluke.  Maybe there is a conspiracy by FIFA and Putin's forces, to create the narrative of the scrappy Russian underdogs, overcoming adversity and emerging dominant.  I'm certain that's how Putin sees Russia, after all - we'll see how things play out!

Russia now goes on to play the winner of Croatia vs Denmark.  That game is currently tied, 1-1, as we go into the half.  I'll write again later today!

  -Dave


Rob said: Hey my prediction is good into the quarter finals. Thanks to Dave for the A+ reporting, that's how I know.

Croatia vs Denmark

Holy BALLS.  Another match into penalty kicks - this one going to Croatia.

Each team scored once in the first four minutes - more because of crappy defense and keeping than any awesome offensive moves, really.  The keeping got better, but the rest of the game was boring compared to the promise of the first two minutes.  One of the refs was consumed by the earth, and a Croat sub broke his leg trying to rescue the ref, but even that wasn't enough to lift the announcers' ennui:

"Well it looks like a hole - or maybe maw is the better word - has opened up under one of the assistant referees.  I haven't seen such an egregious violation by the earth itself since 1998 in New Zealand... wait, I'm getting word that the referee who is almost lost to a strange mouth in the earth is Assistant Referee Two - Juan Pablo Belatti, from Argentina."

"That's got to be disheartening for the South Americans - first the loss to France yesterday, and now the chthonic forces of darkness consuming one of their countrymen."

They didn't even stop play - that's how bored the whole stadium was.  Ten minutes into first overtime, if I remember correctly.  I didn't see the Croat player's jersey number, and I can't find footage of it (of course), but if you check the subs list from a few days ago with the current subs list we could probably figure it out.

Anway.  Russia meets Croatia next Saturday at the quarterfinals.  My money's tentatively on Croatia - the play's been just weird for both teams, and Russia has the home team advantage, but holy shit, you guys, have you read about Croatia's history?  It's fucked up and weird - Croatian citizens were given pensions bigger than their checks and free health and dental care under Yugoslavian rule in the 60s and 70s, and allowed free no-Visa travel to both Western and Communist countries, but then there was a decade of violence when Yugoslavia broke up and Milosevic came to power.  Shit like that - although I guess any region with a several-thousand-year history will have it's share of fucked up politics.

My point is that maybe Russia's not going to the be scrappy underdogs in their match.  So I'm pulling for Croatia!  Whoever makes it out of Russia v Croatia, though, I doubt has the breadth to make it to the finals.

Okay.  Another exciting day of soccer, all in all.  Tomorrow is Brazil v Mexico, Cthulhu v Hastur, and Belgium v Japan.  Drama expected!

  -Dave 

No Surprises in the Cup today

Hey all.  Brazil 2-0 over Mexico.  Belgium 3-2 over Japan.  Well, maybe there was a surprise - that Japan scored at all and kept it so close against Belgium.

Mexico's keeper was excellent and the reason Brazil didn't score until the second half.  Neymar, Brazil's biggest Diva, went a little overboard in his 'oh I'm so injured' histrionics, but - he scored the first goal and set up the second, so okay.

Japan scored two at the start of the first half, and it looked pretty bad until Belgium legged in three at 70 minutes, 74 minutes, and just in time at 94 minutes.  

I didn't sleep much last night.  I lay in bed, and at first I tossed an turned until a great logy melancholic darkness descended upon me.  This has been a rough Cup, I think, and the forces aligned on opposing sides are starting to perturb and deform the psychic flows, or the great Jungian collective unconscious.  Visions of soccer balls, of cleats, and of keeper gloves arranged in a horrible dance of the macabre and the dismal flowed through my head as I lay, still and dark, waiting for the dawn.

I guess both games were exciting, good soccer, and fun to watch.  It's just - it's hard, today, to rouse myself from this gloomy miasma of grey and heaviness.  The Belgium-Japan game was historic as shit, for instance, with Belgium's comeback from being down two in the last 20 minutes.  But it all feels like ashes and dust in my mouth, to mix my metaphors around.

Anyway.  Brazil meets Belgium in the quarter-finals on Friday.  I don't know who's gonna win but whoever it is I think will take the whole Cup.  We still have to see what England does though.  Tomorrow is Sweden v Switzerland, and England v Columbia.

  -Dave

Rob said:  Ya there are a bunch of Belgian bars downtown and it would have been fun to watch the Belg-Japan game there.

Dave it's still Russia in the end.

Last Day of Round of Sixteen

Hey all,

Emergent apologies - I feel ashamed of my weird reporting and tone in several of my emails so far.  The start of the term and the stress of this new tenure process and all I think caught up with me - I had some cannabinoid tincture before bed last night and slept for 12 hours.  I feel refreshed and rejuvenated - clearly there were no cloud of bats on the field or weird cultists behind Putin or cannibalism or anything!  I'll be more objective for the last eight matches, now, I'm sure.

Like I said before, though, no surprises in the scores.  Sweden beat Switzerland 1-0 (an own goal, to boot, rebounding off the foot of a defender).  It was a good match, and could have gone to the Swiss just as easily I think.

Praise to England; they beat Columbia in the shoot-out, and the first time England's won a Cup shootout ever.  Columbia scored an injury-time goal to send it into overtime, and England just got lucky there.  We've seen lots of shoot-outs so far this cup!  Again - a good tight game, but this time one team (England) was pretty clearly dominant.  Columbia played like a bunch of jerks, too - throwing elbows and scuffing up where Kane kicked his penalty kick from (Kane scored anyway for England's only goal).

Meanwhile, we're getting to a place where almost all of the teams look fucking tight.  Russia so far has looked the sloppiest of the eight teams in the quarter-finals.  You can't get to the cup without a good offense, but you can't get far in the cup without a good defense and we're starting to see some amazing defense and keeping going on - the Switzerland vs Sweden game had some exceptionally good keeping.

Excelsior!  The next game is Friday.  I'll write something about the Quarterfinals before then, who I think will advance and all.  Good to take a break from it for a couple of days!


  -Dave

Quarterfinals and predictions

Hey all - shout out to my man Steve, who's in town with his family.  Gonna meat them for dinner as soon as we done with this!  Firing up the grill right now.  We won't have time to marinade or tenderize stuff before grilling but some of what we'll have is pretty young.  A kind of veal, if you will.  I think his youngest is 12/13, something like that.  I mean, on an unrelated note.  Was that too obvious?  I try for a more subtle and deliberate tone here, you know.

Anyway.  Quarterfinals start tomorrow!  Two games, France v Uruguay and England v Belgium.

At the start of the Cup I would have said France over Uruguay for sure.  Halfway into the Matchdays I would have reversed that because France wasn't playing at their tits, and Uruguay was on fire.  But after France beat Argentina.... I just don't know.  Not sure I can call this one - France looked better in the run-ups, but Uruguay looks better in the Cup so far.

I doubt whoever wins that match won't advance, though, because they'll meet the winner of the Brazil v Belgium match.  And DAMN - this will probably be one of the two best games this cup (the other being the final).  Both teams are ON, and both are tight both offensively and defensively.  Brazil is sloppy but has an artistry and grace that almost no other teams have; Belgium is technically maybe the tightest team in the Cup.  We will see!  My money's tentatively on Brazil, but that's because of the waffles.

Steve's family are approaching, and dinner is coming, is why.  Belgian waffles.  It was kind of a thinker there I guess.  Mmm my stomach's rumbling already!

Maybe we'll have like Chik'n'Waffles but with a different kind of barbecued meat.  Change it up, you know.

On Saturday is Sweden vs England and Russia vs Croatia.  I suspect we'll see an England vs Croatia match after this - Sweden's playing well but England's playing better, and Russia is way too sloppy - some teams haven't been able to take advantage but I think Croatia totes can.

Anything can happen in the cup, though.

If my predictions are correct we'll see Brazil vs France and England vs Croatia in the semi-finals, and then Brazil vs England in the finals.  But again, anything can happen.  

Maybe I will use the special pecan barbecue sauce I've been saving for special company.

It's always delicious when old friends come into town with their young ones.

  -Dave