Archive for May, 2011

A house is a man’s castle? That used to be a saying, you know. Depreciating castle is more like it. Psshhaw!

George W. Bush presided over the biggest rise and fall of the American housing market in my lifetime, and then he left the mess for Barack Obama to clean up.



“Published: May 31, 2011

Housing’s Rise and Fall in 20 Cities

The Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller Home Price Index for 20 major metropolitan areas is one of the most closely watched gauges of the housing market. The figures for March, released May 31, showed prices at their lowest point since the downturn began.”
“It’s official: The housing crisis that began in 2006 and has recently entered a double dip is now worse than the Great Depression.
Prices have fallen some 33 percent since the market began its collapse, greater than the 31 percent fall that began in the late 1920s and culminated in the early 1930s, according to Case-Shiller data.”

Comic Relief – “You lucky bastard”

Cheers to the Mony Python boys! Thanks for the laughs. : )

Categories: Comic Relief Tags:

Bravos Barça!

When sport transcends to the point of Art, it is called “The Beautiful Game.”©

To summarize:

Pedro, Rooney, Messi, Villa – the goal scorers; it was 1-1 at half-time, 3-1 at the end of the match.

To elaborate:

Xavi threaded the needle in traffic to deliver a diagonal pass to Pedro, who brilliantly booted the ball past Van der Sar. Then Giggs served up Rooney, who expertly curled his shot past Valdes and into the corner of the net. At half-time it was a dream Final at Wembley because both teams had scored and the contest was level at 1-1.

The dream formed into a mythological moment for the graduates of La Masia and the Blaugrana. Xavi and Iniesta dished out tantalizing lead passes. Abidal, Piqué, Puyol, and Valdes kept any counter-attack on lock-down. Alves and Mascherano performed perfectly as a part of the Catalan Gestalt. Sergio drifted about the midfield pitch like an apparition going about the business of dispossessing Manchester United players and passing the ball with the lightest roll of his feet, making his actions look effortless.

Nine minutes after the start of the second half, Messi came crashing into the scene with the ball at his neon-yellow boots. Dribbling into space about 25 yards from the goal, he set his sights on the canary-yellow shirt of Van der Sar. A loose, picket fence of white-jerseyed defensemen stood between Messi and glory. With his deft left foot, the Little Lion lashed the ball to make it swerve through a hole in the human-fence and skip once past the veteran keeper to “bulge the back of the auld onion bag,” as Tommy Smyth likes to say. Barcelona led by a score of 2-1. Messi ran to the corner of the field gripping the crest on his shirt, kicked over a microphone in his way, pumped his fists wildly, and continued celebrating his goal with his teammates and the Barcelona fans who had traveled to London to see the magic in person.

Minutes later, Messi drew the Red Devils toward him into the 18-yard box. The ball caromed off defenders to the top of the box and into the soft boot of Sergio, who laid off a pristine pass for David Villa. With his shoulders square to the goal, Villa stopped, drew his right foot back, and spun the ball – with some English on it – into the upper-right corner of the pulsating netting, sending reverberations through Wembley and around the football universe. Messi triumphantly dropped to his knees in front of the goal, stretched out his arms, and shook the galvanized air in the arena. Barcelona led 3-1 at that point, and that’s how the match ended.

Congratulations to FC Barcelona for winning their 4th Champions League title! Most of all, thank you to the Catalans for a sublime show of sport transcending into Art!


Read more:

Blast from the Fandecande past:


April 8, 2010
Lionel Messi is 22 years old, which is young compared to many other footballers. Messi scored a hat-trick against Real Madrid when he was 19 years old. I saw him score two goals at Camp Nou when he was still 19. He has achieved such an inimitable stature in his craft at a relatively young age that he deserves the distinction of “wunderkind.” Messi earned the best player of the year award–the Ballon d’ Or–in 2009 when he was 21, and during a season in which Barcelona won the treble (domestic league, domestic cup and Champions League), in addition to three other tournaments. They won every tournament they entered! It is safe to say that this Barcelona squad–anchored by Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, Puyol, Piqué, Abidal, Valdes and others who have played in the Catalan system for years–is the best football team ever assembled.

It makes me feel grateful to be alive to watch Lionel Messi and FC Barcelona create Art on the field of play.

I love The Beautiful Game! : )

Football Folklore

There is a folklore to football. The highlight reel does not always cover the build-up to the goal, which is like putting the cart before the horse…or more like singing the chorus at the beginning of a song. Folklore? Ask anybody about the 1966 World Cup won by England, in England. The ball bounced on the line, say some. Others claim it was too close to call.  England beat Germany 4-2 thanks to a debatable goal that broke the tie score at 2-2 (England’s Geoff Hurst made it 4-2 in extra time with his third goal of the match). However, football is a game of momentum. The pendulum swing of a 3-2 score can many times carry the winning team to victory and deflate the team just scored upon. Ask Frank Lampard about his disallowed goal against Germany during the World Cup this past summer in South Africa.

Today some of the best footballers on planet Earth will play in the Champions League Final at Wembley Stadium in London, England, but many of the players also star on their respective national teams and represent their countries around the globe. The majority of FC Barcelona’s starting team helped Spain win its 1st World Cup in Johannesburg last July. Likewise, many of Manchester United’s players have appeared on the biggest football stage of them all. Both Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand represented the Three Lions in multiple World Cups, and they have won just about every other trophy a player can win during their time in Manchester. The Blaugrana has also piled up the trophies in Barcelona. In fact, both teams won their league titles this year. So this is a true Champions League Final – the best club team in England versus the best club team in Spain. For the majority of the men on the field, playing at Wembley today is another chance to mold their own legend in the saga that is football – the world’s most popular sport.

To fully appreciate what these high-octane athletes do for 90 minutes, get a football, aka soccer ball, and kick it around with some friends in the park. The game is quick. These men are running at full speed while controlling the ball with their feet, as other men chase them and try to take the ball away.

Of course, the point of the game is to put the ball in the net with any part of your body other than your arms or hands. Most of the contact with the ball occurs with the feet and legs, but you can shoulder or chest the ball, as well as head-butt the ball into the net. Wayne Rooney is good at this. As is Lionel Messi, who scored with a header to help the Catalans win 2-0 against the Red Devils the last time these two teams met in a Champions League Final – in Rome, Italy in 2009.

The English invented the sport, and they called that sport football. It is a gentlemanly game perfected by the Brazilians, who have won an unmatched 5 World Cups. Dani Alves plays on the Brazilian national team, and for Barcelona. Both Rafael and Fabio are also from Brazil (or Brasil!!!)…and both play for Manchester United. Little firecrackers, the brothers are; and soon to be standouts on Brazil’s national team or whichever national team they desire, I predict.

Did you kick around that ball with your friends in the park yet? Make sure you pump up the ball so it’s firm but not busting…feel the ball with both hands to judge for yourself. Go ahead, kick the ball once it feels right. Wear shoes if you like. Throw down 2 shirts as goal posts on either side of the field, or however you choose to fashion a goal. Play for 30 minutes to start. Then drink some water, grab a beer or a beverage of your choosing, and  tune into the Champions League Final today at approximately 11am PST/2pm EST.

* In the United States, the match is televised on FOX Deportes and on your local FOX network station. The one thing for which I can thank Rupert Murdoch…bringing football into my living room.

There will be stories to tell about this match. In between the ball bulging the back of the net, there will be triangle passes created to advance the play on the field and hard tackles dispatched to stop the offensive attack. The goalkeepers will put themselves in harm’s way to deflect the cannon-fire shots blasting toward the mouth of the goal. 

First, kick the football in the park, and then you will have a better appreciation for what Rooney, Messi, and all the rest of these precision-magicians can do. Kick a football and watch a football match, and you become part of the folklore because you saw and can appreciate what happened in the build-up to the goals. No highlight show tells the whole story of what happened on the football pitch. The story takes 90 minutes to tell, and maybe some extra time with possibly a penalty shootout…if we have another miracle match like the one in Istanbul, Turkey in 2005 when Liverpool beat AC Milan. May there be many goals today in London, England! Long Live The Beautiful Game!


When sport transcends to the point of Art, it is called “The Beautiful Game.”©

For lagniappe:

Bridesmaids, the movie – so good, it’s a classic!

Bridesmaids is worth seeing in the movie theatre. Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph and the rest of the female cast bring every kind of funny – the raunchy, the warm & fuzzy, and everything in between. Bridesmaids lets it all hang out.

Wiig kills it whether she’s doing physical comedy or verbally riffing off others. Rudolph centers the movie emotionally with her performance to make all the gags blend into a touching story of friendship between women looking to settle down happily with their respective men. And the male cast play their parts perfectly too.

This is City Lights type of brilliance to combine (a) gut-busting laughter, (b) heart-tugging moments of real emotion, and (c) social commentary about romance in difficult economic times (it always was for The Tramp until he befriends a millionaire; and it is for Wiig’s character during the Great Recession). In addition to playing the lead roles in his films – whether silent or talkies – Charlie Chaplin famously wrote the screenplays, directed the entire cast, composed the music and wore the producer’s hat. Kristen Wiig co-wrote the screenplay for Bridesmaids and plays the lead role to carry the movie’s success. Wiig is right up there with the comic greats! We’ve seen her for years on SNL, but there is much more to come from this budding genius. Wiig already has the lead role and the writing down. If she gets a feel for behind the camera and a little money to back her up, she can start making her own films. Somebody else can do the score.

* Much respect to Producer Judd Apatow, Director Paul Feig and Co-Writer Annie Mumolo for their contributions to this comedic tour de force. Credit is also due to the behind-the-scenes crew, everyone who helped. Bridesmaids is an example of top-notch movie-making. Hello, Oscar?

For lagniappe: Kristen Wiig in Knocked Up, which is also a classic!


Read more:

Beastie Boys – Flute Loop

Paul Krugman bringing the Fande or the Cande?

Remember the Fande: Bush made the mess; Barack Obama is cleaning up Bush’s mess.

Fande = Fact and Evidence; Cande = Conjecture & Exaggeration

Bring your Fande, leave your Cande!

I think Paul Krugman – the Nobel-Prize winning economist who taught at M.I.T. and now teaches at Princeton University, as well as writes a column for The New York Times – is bringing the Fande, but I can see how conservatives might take his words for Cande. Of course some conservatives still think Obama started the bailout of the Wall Street banks in 2008…which in reality was undertaken by Bush, Paulson & Co.



“Yet Mr. Obama was fiercely denounced for taking action. One Republican congressman declared the auto rescue part of the administration’s ‘war on capitalism.’ Another insisted that when government gets involved in a company, ‘the disaster that follows is predictable.’ Not so much, it turns out….

The auto industry…would have imploded if President Obama hadn’t stepped in to rescue General Motors and Chrysler. For those companies would almost surely have gone into liquidation, closing all their factories. And this liquidation would have undermined the rest of America’s auto industry, as essential suppliers went under, too. Hundreds of thousands of jobs were at stake….

So while we still have a deeply troubled economy, one piece of good news is that Americans are, once again, starting to actually make things. And we’re doing that thanks, in large part, to the fact that the Fed and the Obama administration ignored very bad advice from right-wingers — ideologues who still, in the face of all the evidence, claim to know something about creating prosperity.”