Friday, March 30, 2007

Next time I'll score one with my...

Some amusing reading for all the Landycakes haters out there. Finally, someone who doesn't think Donovan's a total waste... No matter what your take on this polarizing player, I think it will make you chuckle at least once.

Swim Across the Atlantic Ocean

Had to share this one. Google Maps can give you directions to London (from the US) for that next EPL game you are going to. You just need to be a little careful about step 20: "Swim Across the Atlantic Ocean, 3,462 mi"

(via Consumerist and probably a 1000 other places at this point. I am sure this little nugget is all over the place.)

Thursday, March 29, 2007

New England Revolution vs. New Orleans Shell Shockers

Update: Flickr set with more photos can be found here.

While most US Soccer fans were watching the MNT's inability to adjust to Guatemala's defensive posture, I was in Baton Rouge watching the New England Revolution slaughter the New Orleans Shell Shockers (PDL team). The Rev's won 4-0 and pretty much dominated. Even though their opponent was weaker then them, I couldn't help but be impressed with the speed of play at times. The primary difference between a MLS team and a PDL team? First touch was awesome. Speed of play was 3* faster.

Game coverage on the Rev's site can be read here. I think this guy Cristman is going to be interesting to watch. The guy is big, fast, and seems to have a knack to put them away (in contrast to the forwards in the other game folks were watching...). He had 34 career goals at UVa and has a history with younger US national teams as a former member of the U.S. Under-17 and Under-18 programs. He also played the U.S. Under-23 Team this past February in Japan. He was involved in 3 out of 4 goals last night.

BTW, Steve Ralston is an awesome midfielder. I never appreciated him until I saw him in person. Great player.

Here are some photos that I took during the game ( I may upload some more to Flickr and will post an update if I do). The assistant referee in the one shot is my buddy Mark. Congrats to him on getting to ref at this level.

Shalrie Joseph warming up pre-game.

Reis, Ralston, and Mark

Ralston passing in the midfield. This guy never stopped running.

Reis on a goal kick.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Urine Samples: Free Kahn

I played soccer for the RPI Engineers for 4 years when I was in college. We had an awesome team. Good enough to reach the NCAA tournament a couple times and good enough to win some games in it. After a NCAA game, players are randomly selected for drug tests and are forced to give urine samples. I was one of the lucky winners one year. The unfortunate thing is that after running for 90 minutes, I had no fluids left in my body and could not produce. The NCAA anticipates this and they give you buckets full of juice and other liquids that you can drink. So I started drinking. A couple hours later, I was successful. One problem though, if you drink all that liquid, your urine is so diluted that they cannot use it as an adequate sample. I stopped drinking. That night, I ended up in a hotel with NCAA officials standing over me and waiting until I had to take a leak. Oh, and by the way, we lost that game so we weren't even advancing. Eventually though, I succeeded. Never once did I throw a sample at them.

Oliver Kahn did. I feel his pain. Free Kahn.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Interim Bob Bradley

Here is a pretty interesting take on the interim label that is plaguing the head coach of the US MNT. I found the opinion kind of refreshing, even though I am one of the ones who is all for stripping the prefix from his name.

"Maybe it's time for the gallery - and that's all of us not named Sunil Gulati and Dan Flynn - to look past the obvious story-line and focus on what's not being addressed from that summer of misery we slogged through.

The lack of meaningful games played in Europe. The continual club vs. country issues with European call-ups and the relative benefits of staging games with MLS dominated rosters. The real size of the player pool and depth at individual positions. Establishing the National Team as the top of the pyramid and calling on players and at least MLS club coaches to think about overall tactics and an American style of soccer. Until then, any coaching selection is going to be interim, especially if the coach in question already has a contract. "

USA vs Ecuador Thoughts

I have a lot of thoughts about this game and just haven't had time to put them to paper yet. First things first though, the goal highlights. 43 seconds into this clip is when the build up for the third goal happens. This hit from Landon is wicked good.

In no particular logical order:
  • I got my wish and got to see Feilhaber play center mid. He did not disappoint and even made a goal line save. I thought his vision and poise in the center of the field were excellent. Simple passes and fairly consistent distribution. Yes, he got burnt in the beginning of the game on one play (badly) and he had a couple awkward touches, but remember that this was his first cap ever. If you watch that game again and pay attention to where every play starts (especially in the first half), you will notice that a great majority start with Benny. This is in spite of the fact that the guys in the booth thought it always started with Landon. Not true. Defensively, he needed Bradley next to him in the second half. The front/back combination with Landon did not do him justice on the defensive side of the ball in the first half. I did notice him body an Ecuadorian off the ball though at some point. In general it looks like he might want to hit the weight room (coming from someone who hasn't been to the gym in 4 weeks).
  • Guys in the booth: I hate to harp on it but they pretty much just plain suck right now. Did they show a graphic comparing Gooch to a Buccaneer? Did Bruce just compare Landon to Michael Jordan? Can these guys slobber any more over Landon? Listen, the guy played great and I am impressed, but there came a point where I thought they were simply ignoring the contributions (or lack thereof) of other players on the field. Do I care if you like Bruce Springsteen? No. Do I want you to talk about about the play on the field? Yes. Do you? No. Ugh.
  • Bradley: It doesn't matter which one you are talking about, right now, neither can do any wrong. The son was one of the reasons the second half was such a big improvement. He's a work horse. I like him. The coach, 3-0.
  • In case no one noticed, the future of the US MNT center midfield may have debuted in that game. I can only pray this is the case, Benny and Mike were good.
  • Johnson: Time to hang up the boots. Even when the ref missed that offsides call you managed to sky the volley. Next chance you had in the 18 you didn't shoot. Where were you the rest of the game?
  • Gooch: Really poor first half. Watch that clip again and see how bad he gets smoked on the Ecuador goal. Alternatively, you can admire that sweet first touch by Caicedo. Ecuador disappeared in the second half and that was no mistake. Gooch and the rest of the back line manned up in the second 45.
  • Conrad: Despite a shaky first half by the back 4, I keep the faith in Conrad. Key game changing save in the first half, big and strong in the back.
  • Bocanegra: Exposed all game. Not a good showing at left back...which isn't his true spot anyway and he showed why.
  • Defense: How slow are we? Or is Ecuador just that fast? Holy cow. That first half was sketchy.
  • Dempsey: I think he needs to get some real playing time before rust sets in. I won't say lack of confidence might set in. I can't imagine Deuce would ever suffer from that.
  • Beasley: Besides the assist I thought he was a black hole. He actually may be more annoying to watch right now than Johnson. Is that possible?
  • Ching: Strong on the ball. Bled for his colors. Great assist to Landon. Can't complain.
  • Howard: Looked awkward at moments and had some mis-communication with his back line. Stellar save in the first half though. I like Howard in between the sticks. Some guys just make you feel safe back there - right now he's my man.
  • Post game reaction: Folks, get off Landon's back. The guy is good. He had some bad games last World Cup. Cut him some slack and let's support the leading goal scorer on the squad. I am behind old Landycakes even if he is a pretty boy wuss. It is a little annoying that the guy can't have a good game without everyone complaining about him. Silly really.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Louisiana Trees: St John Catherdral Oak

On top of landscaping and watching the US MNT beat Ecuador 3-1, I decided to stop by the live oak at St John's cathedral and take some photo's (to follow up on the tree post the other day). When you are under it, you feel like you are walking in a forest. Its limbs are so heavy that they need to be held up by poles. This is a truly amazing tree.

Friday, March 23, 2007

...if players are now at each others' throats

Sepp Blatter, president of FIFA, held a news conference and raised the concern that soccer is on the verge, or in the middle of, a major problem. I'm glad someone at such a high level is saying it out loud. To list a few areas of concern within the last year or so: match fixing, fan riots, player fights, and a growing possibility of performance enhancement substance abuse. It could just get worse from here if someone doesn't do something about it.

  • "I see more and more financial interests over-riding people in club football especially."
  • "Even rich countries they are not capable of providing safe and comfortable stadia and I see that violence is everywhere, including inside the stadia."
  • "Where is football leading to if players are now at each others' throats?"

Cool Post: Magnificent Trees

I flew in from a week of travel and didn't get in until 1 AM - long day yesterday. That, plus the spirit of Friday are making me lazy this morning. Via kottke, here is a cool post to go check out: Pictures of the 10 most magnificent trees in the world. Pretty cool. One of my favorite things about Louisiana is the live oak population...maybe I'll try to get some pictures of them up here.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

US MNT Camp Call-Ups

So Bradley called up a new MNT camp to prepare for the upcoming MNT games against Ecuador (3/25) and Guatemala (3/28). I am pretty happy with some of the new faces. You can listen to Bob discuss the roster here.

Jay DeMerit (Watford FC)
Jonathan Spector (West Ham United)
Michael Bradley (SC Heerenveen)
Benny Feilhaber (Hamburger SV)
Frank Simek (Sheffield Wednesday)

I am really hoping to see Feilhaber take the field. I watched him play for the U-20 team in the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship and I thought he showed potential to be the future playmaker of the US squad. It's a double fixture camp so the chances are good that we will see Benny get his first cap.

Bob on Benny: "Benny started the season quite well in Hamburg, but obviously has suffered of late with the coaching change, but he has a good feel for the game. He reads things well when he has time on the ball. He has a good sense of where the ball should go. He can mix up passes short and long. So we are anxious to continue to challenge him and move him forward."

Bob on Spector: "Jonathan, we all know, is a young player that has done quite well in the Premiership. Primarily he has played as a right and left back, but he also has some experience playing as a center back. I think that we want to be able to see him on both the outsides and in the center and have a good grip on what he can offer for the tournaments this summer and know where he fits best. Week in and week out the part that always impresses me with Jonathan is just his competitiveness. He’s shown, even as a young player in hard games, that his concentration is good and he understands how to handle himself in tough games."

Benny vs. Landon:

US MNT 2007 Jersey

I am not sure if I am a fan of the new MNT jersey yet. I think I need to see it in person before I pass final judgment. If the crest is the right size, I think I might like it. However, it looks like it might be a little big.

Ronaldo Free Kick

If he wasn't so cocky looking after this goal I might like him. Either way, I love watching this ball move. 20 seconds into this clip you see the shot from an angle where you can appreciate how it changes direction in mid air - with almost no spin. It's like the magic bullet.

Never Let It Bounce

I always encourage my team to never let the ball bounce in the box. Here is the example of "why not" that takes the cake. Watch as Goalkeeper Paul Robinson (Tottenham) scores a goal by kicking the ball from his 18 yard box into the back of the net against Watford. The last replay of the shot in this video (second 43) is where you get the best view.

Monday, March 19, 2007


This was taken by Carlee this past weekend. I think that I am probably complaining about the referee.

...and the knee does not speak

My youth team has 5 injuries on the roster...which means that this upcoming month of down time prior to the state tournament is needed. While reading an interview with Samuel Eto'o, the African player of the year for 3 years in a row (striker for Barcelona), I thought this quote fit well.

"I feel good. I’m getting better slowly. Every time out I am feeling better. I can’t put a date when I will feel 100 percent. The knee is the knee and the knee does not speak. We’ll see if it’s true."

Cajun Signs: Rebuilding Louisiana

This is a picture from a marquis at the local technical college in Lafayette. Beyond the local relevance of the marquis, I like the staggered signs (for a dry cleaner and a shoe repair shop) that fall back behind it.

Deja Vu

I've been inactive due to some traveling and a weekend of soccer. At this point, I appear to be stuck in an endless loop of losing to the same U-16 team in penalty kicks in the finals of soccer tournaments. Two weekends in a row, same team, same loss. Strange. However, positive notes to take away were:
  • We did not give up a single goal all weekend - 4 games, 0 goals. The final was 0-0 and went to PK's. Half the time we played with a back-up goalie who is not trained at all. I didn't keep a tally on shots but I remember 5 or less that even came close.
  • We scored 11 goals in 4 games.
  • We did both of these with 12 players - 1 sub. That is not an easy task.
  • I saw my team play their best game of the year on Sunday morning. It was good to see them click. Now they just need to do it when the cup is on the line.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Cajun Signs: Good Drinks, No Joke

On the road again tomorrow - Headed to Knoxville. I'll probably be posting over the next few days while we are on our trip. In the meantime, here's another photograph from my excursion to the Boudreaux and Thibodeaux bar in Baton Rouge.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Predicting the President

I didn't have a lot of nicknames growing up and the ones that I had were usually not that flattering. I can't really remember a nickname that I enjoyed until I was out of college and in the work force. That was back in 1998 and the President of the United States was Bill Clinton. Evidently it was not a far jump to extend his nickname to me, so some of my co-workers started calling me "Slick Willie." That's a pretty catchy nickname and it stuck around. I am still referred to as Slick Willie in some circles.

Slick Willie is confined to Virginia. When I moved to Louisiana, I went back to my simple first name and life settled down. One particularly close friend seems to have recently started my newest nickname. At the moment, he is the only one that uses it and I am ok with that. I picked up on it after the second voice mail on our home phone. He seems to be calling me "Dubya."

The way I see it, the potential to associate my name with a President of the United States now dates back two administrations, all the way back to 1993. Now, I can't really figure out how Hilary, Barack, Giulani, McCain, or any of the others has a potential nickname that can help me figure out who is going to win in 2008...but if a candidate comes along with a nickname that fits me, maybe you should put your money on that one.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Reflections on the Weekend

We had a long but good weekend with a ton of activity. Some random thoughts as I start off my week...
  • The youth soccer season for my U-16 team kicked into gear with our first tournament. We lost in the final on penalty kicks to one of our rivals. Losing in PK's is usually considered one of the most unsatisfying ways to lose a soccer game. I normally agree. However, we had come back from a 1-0 deficit in the final against a very strong team...and looking back at that game, I don't feel the classical dissatisfaction with the PK loss. Odd.
  • Gardening is rewarding. We planted a lime tree this weekend (as well as some herbs in our backyard) and I think this is the first tree I have ever planted. Not 100% sure about that but I think I am right. I am excited to see if it makes it. We have had some personal loss in my family recently. Until now, I have refrained from mentioning in this forum. The tree was purchased at a different time, but upon planting it, I can't help but associate it a little bit with the memory of my grandmother.
  • Life lesson: Don't leave your trunk open for extended periods of time - the battery runs out.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Letters from CEO's: AAA Hurricane Insurance

Dear Mr. Wilablog,

My name is Robert L. Darbelnet and I am the CEO of AAA. First, I would like to thank you and your wife for the last 10 years of doing business with our company. When you bought your first house, we were very happy to see that you turned to AAA to provide home, flood and hurricane (wind and hail) coverage.

The reason I am writing this letter to you is because it has become clear to AAA that there is a good possibility that you might actually need to make use of your insurance if another hurricane were to impact your area of the Gulf Coast. While we are extremely sympathetic to the plight of Louisiana homeowners who have lost homes as a result of hurricane damage, AAA has decided that actually providing the insurance that you have been paying for is no longer a viable business model for us.

You should know that if you were a hurricane policy holder with us for 3 years or more, that we would not be able to legally remove this coverage from your policy. However, because the legislators in your state have decided to not protect or encourage new homeowners in Louisiana, we are able to take this action without penalty. We do hope that you continue to use AAA for Home and Flood insurance and that you understand that even though we are removing coverage from your policy, that it is logical for us to keep your premium at the same level or possibly even increase this premium in the future.

I understand that you have discussed this situation with our phone representatives that they have outlined some possible options to help you feel more at ease with our decision. To recap, these options include:

1. Use the Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, Louisiana's state run hurricane insurance provider. This option will cost you an additional $3,000 a year. As you have seen in local news stories, this agency is a little reluctant to award insurance claims to individuals suffering from damage related to Katrina or Rita, so we understand if this option does not seem desirable at first.

2. Call all insurance companies operating in Louisiana and try to find another company that may be willing to write this policy. Please keep in mind that they will have the right to cancel this policy at any time because you lack the requisite 3 years of coverage history.

3. Open a savings account and begin saving money in case your house gets damaged by a hurricane. Placing money under your mattress is a good back-up just in case the local banks suffer damage as well.

Mr. Wilablog, your patience and understanding in this matter is greatly appreciated. Even though you may not be able to find a viable option for hurricane coverage, please understand that we personally recommend that you find some way to protect yourself from this risk. After all, hurricane related damage is extremely likely when you live on the Gulf Coast of Louisiana.


Robert L. Darbelnet

Cajun Signs: Come Pass a Good Time

This picture is from a bar in Baton Rouge called Boudreaux and Thibodeaux. It is one of my favorite pictures yet in the Cajun Signs project.

If you've never been to this part of the country, these last names are ubiquitous. Thus, there are tons of classic cajun jokes and stories where two characters named Boudreaux and Thibodeaux take all the glory. The -eaux is pronounced with a long "O" and the "x" is of course silent. Cajuns love their -eaux and play on words with literal long "O"s in them and replace them with the -eaux. Thus, you will see signs that read something like "Geaux Cajuns."

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


I'm as big a fan of step-overs as the next guy but this is friggin' ridiculous. Ronaldo must be jealous. I get dizzy just watching this guy.

Cajun Signs: LSU

One of the big sights to see when you are in Baton Rouge is Tiger Stadium of course. When we were in town on Monday, I made sure to stop and take two quick pictures for all of the college sports fans out there. Apparently, the women athletes should be getting more press. Who knew?

Monday, March 05, 2007

Beckham: Impossible is Nothing

I know there will be people who don't like this spot. And perhaps after all the hype continues to hit our airwaves I will side with them. However, right now, I like it.

New Mississippi River Bridge

We drove into Baton Rouge today and had dinner at the Melting Pot - good fondue. While Carlee was in her study group I managed to get lost in Catfish Town and took this picture of the Horace Wilkinson Bridge (popularly known as the New Mississippi River Bridge). The bridge was built from 1963-1968 and crosses the Mississippi River just south of downtown Baton Rouge. I-10 is the highway it carries, 6 lanes, 4,550 feet long, $41M to build and about 167 feet high over the water.

Satellite photo on WikiMapia.

Cajun Signs: We Buy Guns

If you grew up in a sportsman's paradise, signs like this probably don't even register for you. However, being raised in a family where hunting was not a part of life, I always find this sign interesting. The text under the "We Buy Guns" obviously changes with whatever special is running. Sometimes it provides additional reason for me to pause and consider the different worlds that people grow up in. Obviously, in the case above, the subtext is completely unremarkable.

My neighbor from Jersey, SINEDDIE, is from a hunting family so I know that signs like this aren't actually cajun. I know that this sign is remarkable to me purely because I was not raised in a family where hunting and guns were part of daily life. And finally, to be fair, I have a little bit more experience with hunting than I let on. In fact, I've had my share of run-ins with deer carcases and assault rifles more than once. But those are stories for another time.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Scenes from a Cajun Dinner

Our good friend caught some fresh fish the other day and we were lucky enough to have a chance to have dinner over his house. Our friend and his wife are both awesome cooks. When you combine their talents with fresh caught tuna and wahoo, sweet potato risotto and a're in for a treat.

These are some photo's from dinner.

1. Father and Daughter
2. Cajun Yoga
3. The Wine

Marcia Ball - Recap

The Marcia Ball show on Friday was fantastic. Marcia is known for her keyboard and when she is combined with her band, they swing from blues to swamp pop to good old cajun and zydeco laced country tunes. Back her with a full wind ensemble orchestra that includes oboes, flutes, trombones, trumpets, drums, clarinets, a euphonium and you have a unique recipe for a musical gumbo.

It was a sit down show with a songwriter session feel with Marcia doing a lot of talking between songs as well as a little Q/A with the audience. Two major highlights of the show for me:
  • The cover of the Randy Newman song, Louisiana 1927 - with the orchestra backing the band, this song was really moving.
  • An encore rendition of When the Saints Go Marching In - with each repeated chorus another full row of horns would stand up and the sound grew in intensity with each pass. The audience was of course all standing, clapping, singing, dancing, you name it. I've never seen this song performed in a live setting in Louisiana. Way cool.
Here are 2 tracks for you to download and enjoy (neither from the show - I'm not that slick).

Louisiana 1927
Go to Alligator Records get her music

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Marcia Ball: Louisiana 1927

We're headed out tonight to see Marcia Ball perform with the UL Lafayette Wind Ensemble for the Louisiana Crossroads concert series. According to the local paper's blog, there will be a "special orchestrated version" of this Randy Newman song performed. Should be a good night. This is a pretty song.

Drive Thru Daiquiri

To round off the cajun drive thru photo series, I made a special trip out to a couple drive thru daiquiri huts and took a few photographs. This phenomena is really fascinating. You get in your car, drive down to the hut, and enter the drive thru line. You drive up to the window and order an alcoholic drink. They give you the drink (again, it is alcoholic) in a styrofoam cup with a straw. You drive away. Pretty weird right?

The straw is sometime covered with a piece of tape or the upper most portion of the straw wrapper. This is a good thing. Otherwise, we would have a bunch of drunk cajuns driving around Lafayette. Ummm.....yeah.