Thursday, August 23, 2007

Stones/Scorsese Shine A Light

I can't wait to see this movie. This should go some way towards making up for the dreck that was "Pirates of the Caribbean III". I had so looked forward to seeing Keith Richards as Captain Jack Sparrow's dad. And then they went and made it one of the worst sequels since Superman III. That was one of the worst experiences I've ever had sitting in a cinema. Damn shame.

No word yet on when the Peter Bogdanovich movie of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers' last tour will be out. It commemorated their 30th Anniversary as a band.

Anyone seen "Gimme Shelter"?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Beckham Effect Continues

Another example of the MLS Beckham Effect in big markets: Washington D.C.

Tune in tomorrow (Thursday) night for the DC United/LA Galaxy game on ESPN2. It should be a feisty match. The Galaxy are struggling to make the playoffs. DC United has been strong all season & is well-positioned for the playoffs. LA really needs 3 points. They left Toronto with 1 point...and thankful for that considering how much Toronto dominated in the first half of that contest. Beckham's doubtful again. But his personage will once again be on the bench. And who knows, maybe since they're playing on a natural pitch this time, he'll get some playing time.

The Washington Post match preview has all the trappings of what the MLS dreams of: big game day traffic tips for fans coming in buses, trains & automobiles, parking tips and, not to mention, a sold out RFK Stadium. This is the Pele effect wrought in the new media age. If gets a significant jump in click-throughs on their MLS Soccer coverage, then that's solid evidence for their programming chiefs. Yes, they've already committed to the Beckham matches. But web traffic definitely is a new factor that must be taken seriously.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Thoughts on American Futbol

Last night my friend Tom & I had a spirited discussion about soccer's chances of mainstream success here in America. Tom had read a previous post here speculating on the meaning of David Beckham's arrival on these shores. He found my rosy prediction about soccer's inevitable acceptance to be way off reality. Summarizing Tom's strong opinion about soccer here: There's no way that, in our generation, soccer will find a huge audience (ie. get regular coverage on SportsCenter or on your local sports talk radio.)

He outlined his strong disagreement thusly:

1. There ain't no way that 30-45 year old guys like us are going to start watching soccer on a regular basis. That's too much of a stretch for sports fans who already have too much on their plate: American Football, Baseball, Basketball, not to mention X Games,

2. The only way soccer will become popular here is if the young kids today grow up watching it, become very familiar with it and find a few soccer heroes to fawn over. Then maybe it gets acceptance 20 years down the line.

I had a hard time defending my dreams of American Soccer acceptance to Tom over the phone. But it did get me thinking today. Perhaps I should do a better job of articulating my appreciation of the game.

Televised soccer has no commercial interruptions.

I really prefer not being bombarded with commercials every inning, pitching change, series or timeout. Watch a soccer game and lose yourself in two luxurious 45 minute halves. (These days, ESPN2 annoys us with the sports crawler. That's another blog post though! For now, I'm thankful that they throw us the occasional soccer bone.) You really get a sense of pace for the game.

Soccer Has Real Passion, not Artificial Exuberance

Been to an NBA, NFL or MLB game in the past few years? For whatever reason, the presentation of the live game has been maxi-size hyped. Do we really need for each batter to have a theme song? Is it necessary to blow our ears & eyes out with a laser light show and "Girls Girls Girls" blaring at an NBA game in October? As a fan, this is insulting to me. There's no such offensive overhyping in Major League Soccer.

I watched the ESPN2 coverage of last Sunday night's Toronto FC/LA Galaxy game. (Yes, the only reason ESPN2 broadcast this game was because of the presence of David Beckham.) I had no idea how insanely passionate the Toronto FC fans were going to be. It was a really impressive display. And none of it was artificially produced: No dancing girls on the sideline, no dimmed house lights & laser shows & no commercials between plays. It was pure sports passion.

In the movie about the NY Cosmos: Once in a Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the NY Cosmos there was a reporter talking about the short American attention span for sports. We expect the commercial after the punt or a stretch in the 7th inning. She explained how soccer is similar to an opera or a play. You get swept up in one act, you break for intermission, then you come back for Act Two. I genuinely find this refreshing in this day and age. I suspect that I'm not alone in that sentiment.

I have a confession to make. I used to loathe soccer. As a kid, I used to play goalie. Our offense was strong & I would get really bored on the other side of the field waiting for the next stampede. I did enjoy going to SMU to watch the Tornado games. I followed Kyle Rote Jr., Kenny Cooper & Mike Renshaw. Later in life, studying in Europe left me far removed from my beloved Cowboys early '90's resurgence. This sapped any enthusiasm I might have had for Real or Atletico de Madrid. I was happy enough going to watch the Super Bowl at 3:30AM in some Spanish pub.

But in 1994 I worked protocol for the World Cup here in Dallas. I went to all the games at the Cotton Bowl. And I followed closely our American squad's tourney. (We beat Colombia!) Watching the 1998 World Cup was also instrumental in stirring the soccer embers. I will never forget the victory over Mexico. What an upset! Then we got our own soccer team again: the Dallas Burn. We went to all of the inaugural season's home games at the Cotton Bowl. (I was a season ticket holder with my buddies Bryan, Brandon & Tim.) We had a blast at those games.

I do hope someday soon we'll be listening to local sports reporters covering FC Dallas scuttlebutt. We have a playoff contending, division leading team this season. The league has the highest profile soccer star in the world now. (Hopefully the Galaxy make the playoffs so we can see him some!) Most clubs have plans for or already have shiny new soccer-specific stadiums with great site lines. It's a matter of time before we're all enjoying the beautiful game again: this time for keeps.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Personal Blimp Progress

Congratulations go to Dan Nachbar on the NPR coverage of his Personal Blimp. The FAA has granted his experimental craft the permission to take passengers along on board. He e-mailed me the details:

"After nine months of waiting, the FAA has finally said
"YES" to the request that Mike Kuehlmuss (my cobuilder) and I
be allowed to take passengers in Alberto, the Personal Blimp!
Getting rid of this stumbling block is a big step forward."

We've been in touch for more than 3 years now. (Pablo's Point blogged about his "SkyYacht" way back when.) Well, NPR has just filed a story on the Blimp. And I couldn't be happier for Dan. It's a really well put together project. And the Boston Globe coverage below is excellent. It's wonderful to see such a graceful aircraft. (Especially in light of summer travel stories from our nation's airports: 7 hour wait for takeoff on the runway, cancelled flights, crowded & germy planes, etc.) Our future's in the hands of small entrepreneurs like Dan & co. who patiently test out these vanguard ideas & ready them for the marketplace. Onward,airships!