Wednesday, May 27, 2015

FIFA Officials Being Arrested on Corruption

Currently in Zurich, Switzerland, a number of FIFA officials are being arrested and extradited to the US on corruption charges. Sadly though, Sepp Blatter is not one of those. My only question is what took so long? The arrests happened as FIFA officials were attending a meeting at headquarters. Swiss law enforcement, not in uniform, went to hotel rooms to arrest each of them. It goes to show just how corrupt FIFA is that the neutral Swiss are going out of their way to arrest them and send them to the US.

The charges are money laundering, racketeering, and wire fraud. As everyone know, a bribery scandal recently rocked FIFA, with Qatar paying millions of dollars and giving gifts for votes. Its also likely Russia did the same for the 2018 World Cup. One law enforcement official said, "We’re struck by just how long this went on for and how it touched nearly every part of what FIFA did." This article in the New York Times has loads of details.

It's still highly doubtful that the 2022 World Cup will be moved from Qatar, despite the hundreds of deaths of migrant workers. Recently, workers from Nepal were not allowed to go back to check on family or attend funerals, despite the thousands who tragically died in the Nepal Earthquake. Stay classy, Qatar. The 2022 Cup was also moved to November/December because of the extreme heat during the Summer, even though it will interfere with the club soccer calendar.

It is also highly doubtful that Sepp Blatter won't win re-election as head of FIFA. The election is Friday May 30th. Though one can only hope after this investigation that Blatter will have his day in court.

I would personally love to see the Men in Blazers run FIFA, right from their closet in the crap part of SoHo.

Friday, May 8, 2015

2015 FIFA Women's World Cup: Group Games To Watch

The Simpsons Have Women's World Cup Fever
The 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup from Canada is fast approaching with a June 6th start. The Simpsons have caught Women's World Cup fever, and you should too by now! They've upped the number of teams from 16 to 24, which makes for even more soccer/football for us to enjoy. Here are some games that you should be most excited about.

USA vs. Sweden - Clash of the Titans in Group D. The United States and Sweden have both been powers in the Women's game since the 1980s.  Sweden defeated the US in the 2011 Women's World Cup group stage and finished on top, but the US made it to the final. Pia Sundhage, who coached the USWNT from 2007-2012, is now coach of Sweden. She knows the strengths & weaknesses of various players on the US team. This is also a game that should decide who tops the group, though Nigeria & Australia are capable of upsets.

England vs. France - Rivals no matter what, these countries always produce a fun game whether its men or women. In 2011, France defeated England on Penalty Kicks in the Quarterfinals, which is the most English way to lose a big game. These are the top two teams in Group F, and both teams will want to make a statement. England want to be taken seriously, and France want to show they can make it to a final after years of knocking on the door.

Brazil vs. Spain - A team known for being carried by the phenomenal Marta, Brazil seems to come together for the big tournaments. Spain are making their Women's World Cup debut, and might be the most powerful of the debuting teams. Vero Boquete is one to watch in this tournament, with fancy footwork that will wow anyone and rival that of Marta.

Canada vs. China - China aren't what they were in the 1990's and early 2000's, and both the Netherlands and New Zealand might pose a bigger threat in Group A. However, this is the opening match which will feature plenty of rabid Canadian fans, so it'll be interesting to see how Canada handles the pressure on the biggest stage at home. China are young and don't have much experience outside of one remaining veteran from 1999 (Captain Pu Wei) when they lost to the USA in the final.

Japan vs Switzerland - Defending champs Japan were drawn into possibly the easiest group in the World Cup. Switzerland make their debut, but could give Japan a bit of a scare in the opening match. Homare Sawa made the roster for Japan, appearing in her 6th World Cup and passing the likes of Kristine Lilly (5), which is a record for any man or woman. She'll be the only remaining player who appeared in the 1995 Women's World Cup. Lara Dickenmann of Switzerland is one of the best in the world and should give some fits to Japan.

USA vs Australia - This is the opening match for the United States and should set the tone of their play. They'll want a strong showing right out of the gate, but Australia are completely capable of hanging with them. However, Australia will need to be on top of their game to have a chance to pull off the upset. We'll see what formation the US uses, and how they use veteran Abby Wambach. The rotation of Morgan, Press, Leroux, Rodriguez and Wambach in the attack could keep them fresh.

Germany vs. Norway - Germany are ranked #1 in the world right now, and Norway will want to show that they can return to being one of the top teams as they once were. It'll be interesting to see how they handle a powerhouse like Germany. After being knocked out by Japan in the Quarterfinals at home in 2011, Germany will most likely be firing on all cylinders in the Group Stage.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Olsen Twins Open To 'Fuller House'

Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen didn't find out about the Netflix Full House reboot, Fuller House, until everyone else did. They've since been asked about the show, and are open to reprising their role of Michelle Tanner, but aren't certain. Mary Kate said they'll talk to the creators, and Ashley said she's going to call Bob Saget and get his perspective.

If they decide not to join the series, the creators could always explain their absence in multiple ways. The best would be to say that Michelle slipped into a coma following repercussions from her head injury when she fell off the horse in the series finale and had memory loss.

So far returning to the series will be Candace Cameron Bure (DJ Tanner), Andrea Barber (Kimmy Gibbler), Jodie Sweetin (Stephanie Tanner) & the ageless John Stamos (Uncle Jesse). The others are all still possible for a return. The premise of the show will revolve around DJ being a recent widow with three boys, calling upon Kimmy and Stephanie to help out. Basically a flip of the original. Hopefully it will be just as gloriously cheesy!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Teaser Trailer 2

Nerds and nerd lovers unite! The second teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens has hit the web and you can watch it below. Being a teaser it still doesn't show much, but does feature some familiar famous breathing and a look at two of the returning characters from the original trilogy. Expectations are already high, and will just keep growing with more reveals like this one.



Han Solo & Chewbacca! Darth Vader's charred mask! You can bet with the next trailer we'll see Luke & Leia, and maybe a first glimpse at some of the new characters we haven't seen yet (like Lupita Nyong'o).

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is out on December 18, 2015. It stars Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Lupita Nyong'o, Oscar Isaac, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Gwendoline Christie, Andy Serkis, Peter Mayhew, Anthony Daniels and Kenny Baker.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

2015 FIFA Women's World Cup Contenders

The 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup comes at us from Canada in June, and qualified teams have begun preparing for the big tournament through the Algarve Cup and friendlies. It'll be the first World Cup broadcast by FOX in the US, who will be devoting more time on the main broadcast channel than any World Cup (Men's or Women's) previously has. Besides the 16 matches on FOX, every match will also be on FOX Sports 1 & FOX Sports 2. Time to break down the Twenty Four teams that will be featured at the Cup.

Favorites:

Japan - The defending World Cup champs are just as technically sound as they were when they won in 2011. The main difference this time is nobody will be caught off guard by them. Everyone knows its hard to repeat a championship, but Japan have the team to pull it off. There is a question if Homare Sawa (Japan's version of Mia Hamm in popularity) will be in Canada. She famously scored the tying goal against the United States in the 2011 Final before winning FIFA World Player of the Year in 2011. The 36-year-old was not taken to the Algarve Cup. A veteran presence could be a boost coming off the bench, which is something they'll have to decide.

United States - USA are looking to capture their first World Cup since the famous 1999 Title won on Brandi Chastain's penalty kick against China in the Rose Bowl. They also won in 1991. Its been an up-and-down year for the squad with losses to Brazil, France, Denmark, & Sweden as well as ties with China, Canada, Brazil & Iceland. However, they finished the Algarve Cup strong by beating France. They were drawn into the Group of Death with Sweden, Australia and Nigeria. Winning the group would be ideal, as the 2nd place team would likely face Brazil in the Round of 16. As long as Alex Morgan stays healthy, this team should be just fine. This will most likely be the final World Cup for Abby Wambach, Hope Solo, and Christie Rampone (the only remaining player from 1999).

Germany - The 2003 & 2007 champs were probably the #1 favorite a few weeks ago, but they just lost their best player and 2014 Player of the Year, Nadine Ke├čler, to a knee injury that required surgery. As one of the best teams in the world they have the depth to get through injuries, but you never want to lose a star player. They were also beaten by Sweden & France recently, showing they are mortal.

Sweden - They are the best and most consistent country to never win the World Cup, losing the final in 2003 to Germany and finishing 3rd in 2011. They're coached by Pia Sundhage, who coached the US to Olympic Gold Medals in 2008 & 2012, as well as 2nd place at the 2011 Cup.

Brazil - Marta and Co have become more of a team as of late, which could be scary for the rest of the field. However, they still lack the all around aspect that they always have due to not playing together as often as the other top squads. The Brazilian federation have given them much more support in the lead up to this World Cup and the Rio 2016 Olympics though, so they could easily mesh well enough to win one of the two tournaments. The lost the 2007 final to Germany and will be looking to get back.

France - France has taken the world by storm as of late with some big wins against top teams, finally beating Germany in October after years of losses. They've risen to an all-time high of 3rd in the FIFA Women's Rankings. They can do everything well on the field. However, they have yet to win a major tournament, though this could be their year.

Dark Horses:

Norway - The 1995 Women's World Cup champs have fallen behind the pack since being eliminated in the Group Stage in 2011. However, they are still a force, and gave the US some tough competition at the Algarve Cup by playing well defensively and countering. They do lack the fitness of the top teams which could hurt them in the knockout round later in games.

England - While its unlikely they can do enough to win it all, they have a good squad that could make a deep run to the Semifinals and possible upset there. They lost in the Quarterfinals in 2011 by typical English fashion - a Penalty Shootout, which they were leading before some botched shots did them in. In friendlies against Germany they went on the attack too much, and against the US they played too much defense, so they'll need a better balance in Canada.

Canada - Their outstanding & controversial Olympic semifinal game against the USA lifted hopes for Canadian soccer glory after they nearly made it to the Olympic Final, losing in the final seconds of overtime. If Christine Sinclair is in top form they will be a tough team to beat on home soil.

Australia - They've reached the Quarterfinals of the past two tournaments, and have the talent to possibly make it one step further. They do have the challenge of being in a group with the US and Sweden. The top four 3rd place teams move onto the Round of 16 though, so that gives them a shot. The bad thing is that also means they'd have to face a group winner right away in the knockout stage.

China - One of the women's soccer powers of the 1990s (along with USA & Norway), they've struggled more in recent years. However they seem to be working their way back. They recently tied Brazil, USA & Japan. They play good defense, but scoring it an issue when they face top opponents due to a young and inexperienced team, which has made wins tough to come by. They can make it out of the group, but draws obviously won't be enough in the knockout round. I'll still keep them here, they may have a small chance to figure it all out enough to pull an upset, though it's unlikely they can make it too far in the knockout round.

New Zealand - They can hang with top teams, but like some others just lack the experience to be able to string together enough wins against them to make it to the final. But they have talent, and if everything fell into place they could cause an upset in the knockout round even if they don't make the final.

Spain - They upset England at the 2013 EURO's and qualified for their first Women's World Cup by finishing ahead of Italy last year. Vero Boquete, who plays for Portland Thorns in the NWSL, will be one of the more exciting players to watch. One thing is for sure, they should have a better finish then the men did in the 2014 World Cup.

Netherlands - The Oranje will also be making their debut at the Women's World Cup as they continue their rise in the women's game. However, 2015 may be too soon for them to make it to the final four, especially in a pretty tough group with Canada, China and New Zealand. Every team in Group A is capable, without a weak link in the bunch.

Good, But Unlikely To Go Far: 

Switzerland, South Korea, Nigeria, Mexico, Colombia

Switzerland and South Korea have a good shot to make it to the knockout round due to their groups giving them an opening to pick up points. South Korea will be contending with Spain for a guaranteed 2nd place spot, but whoever finishes 3rd has a chance to pick up the needed points and goal differential. Nigeria is talented enough to go to the knockout round, but being in the Group of Death their only chance would be to beat Australia. Mexico should finish 3rd in their group behind France & England, but Colombia could pose a challenge. Mexico also struggled in Qualifying, finishing behind Costa Rica in their group and needing overtime to beat Trinidad & Tobago.

Happy To Be There:

Thailand, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Cameroon, Ivory Coast

All of these teams are making their debuts and will just be looking to improve their play by facing the world's best. Thailand is actually appearing in its first ever major FIFA tournament, men or women. They benefited from traditional power North Korea being banned for PED use in 2011. Ecuador defeated Trinidad & Tobago in a playoff that saw both teams fill big stadiums. Costa Rica may be the most talented of the bunch, but still have lots of work to do.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Best of SNL 40

Saturday Night Live celebrated 40 Years with a Sunday Night special...live from New York, of course. Overall it was an enjoyable show, and quite amazing to the crew that pulled it all together in what was probably a pretty crazy week. The show was big on nostalgia with plenty of clips from 1975 to the present.

My one gripe is that there weren't quite enough sketches, yet there were three musical performances. And one of them was Kanye West and his Auto-Tune...yawn. So if you tuned in expecting to see 3 hours full of new versions of your favorite sketches from the 1970's to now, you were kind of out of luck. Here are the best moments:

1. Wayne's World. Possibly the most famous recurring sketch was thankfully brought back to life towards the end of the special to deliver one of their always fun Top 10 lists. The best was when they ran through the list of musical performers. Three of The Beatles, U2, Nirvana, Beyonce & Beck were some named. And of course, Garth mentioned how he thought Beck was a better performer than Beyonce. Cue Kanye West jokes, which he was in on, having "security" hold him down.

2. Weekend Update. Tina Fey, Amy Poehler & Jane Curtin came together for a funny and entertaining version of the SNL staple. It featured some tributes to classic SNL characters portrayed by former stars who have since passed away (such as Emma Stone playing Gilda Radner's "Roseanne Roseannadanna"). Stefon made an appearance, and he and Seth Meyers are parents now! But the highlight goes to Curtin: "I used to be the only pretty blonde reading fake news. Now there's a whole network devoted to that." Then the Fox News logo pops up.

3. Jim Carrey. This was technically before the show, but Carrey asked Matt Lauer & Savannah Guthrie if he could ask them something. His question: "Where are you hiding Brian Williams?" Lauer awkwardly responded, "Oh, look at the time." Carrey followed with, "In his defense, if the helicopter in front of me gets hit, I'm taking the story." Perfect!

 

4. Celebrity Jeopardy. Will Ferrell & Darrell Hammond did battle again as Alex Trebek & Sean Connery and it was just as good as it always was. Kate McKinnon also did her perfect Justin Bieber impression, and Norm Macdonald brought back Burt Reynolds.

5. Martin Short & Maya Rudolph (as Beyonce). They paid tribute to the musical sketches of SNL, with perfect use of a fan on Maya-Beyonce. It featured Will Ferrell & Ana Gasteyer as their desperately trying to be hip church singers, The Culps. Adam Sandler brought back Operaman and the Blues Brothers showed up.

6. Justin Timberlake & Jimmy Fallon Opening. The dynamic duo did a musical rundown of the most memorable characters in SNL history. Molly Shannon showed up as Mary Katherine Gallagher and then Rachel Dratch appeared as Debbie Downer to bring down the mood just a little bit as only she can. Always remember - Feline Aids is the number one killer of domestic cats.

7. Ellen Cleghorne. Jerry Seinfeld did a segment which we see a lot of on SNL, taking questions from cast members & others sitting in the audience. He called Sarah Palin Tina which provided an amusing skit between the two. But, Larry David and former cast member Cleghorne were the best, with it going something like this:
Cleghorne - "Why aren't there more black women?"
Seinfeld - "On the show?"
Cleghorne - "No just in general. There should be black women popping out of drawers." Jerry agreed that there should be more, and then she asked where they were on his show Seinfeld. Burn!

8. Betty White & Bradley Cooper Kiss. The Californians went way too long, and there were so many other sketches they probably could have done instead. It did however feature a fun performance from original cast member, Laraine Newman. And it also had a long kiss between Betty White and Bradley Cooper, which wasn't just a peck on the lips. That's something you might never see again!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Kanye West: Douche

Kanye West was at it again at the Grammy Awards, a few years after interrupting his first victim (Taylor Swift). He ran on stage after Beck won for Best Album, only to run back down to his seat. It seemed like a joke at first, by poking fun at himself. Great. Then he goes on E! and starts ranting that it wasn't a joke, saying Beck should give his award to Beyonce and to "respect artistry". Beck responded by saying he thinks Kanye is great and talented. I don't really listen to Beck much, but its nice to see someone so humble & naturally talented win.

Even his wife Kim Kardashian was incredibly uncomfortable during the whole ordeal, forcing a smile. I mean, he made Kim Kardashian uncomfortable on camera. And she did a porn!

Personally, I think Kanye West should heed his own advice to respect artistry and creativity. Its 2015 and he is still overusing Auto-Tune (since he can't sing) 17 years after it was first used by Cher as a gimmick in 1998. Real artistic & original there, Kanye. And what is his obsession with Beyonce? I'm surprised more people don't find it odd, especially Jay Z and Beyonce.

I think Shirley Manson of the band Garbage said it best by writing to him, You are making yourself look like a complete twat.