Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Dream Is Over...for local sports bars

The 2-1 loss by the U-S to Ghana in World Cup 2010 is bad news for local sports bars. Seeing England and Mexico lose over the weekend doesn't help either. Still, we can expect some local bars to offer World Cup action through the next two weeks for soccer fans, or those who are looking for a place to cool off.

This past weekend, I decided to visit three different places to compare how they celebrate the World Cup, after two games at the Streets of London Pub. Before I get to that, I noticed something else.
It's starting to bother American sports fans that our soccer team lost to Ghana in extra time, 2-1.
They're concerned that we let the other team score first, and we had to make a comeback in all four games of the tournament.
They wonder if the team will get better for 2014 because our top players are getting old, and maybe we need a new coach by then. They want changes to be made so that we'll finally be at the level of Europe and Brazil.
In other words, the USA finally cares abut soccer.
Not quite as much as Arena Football, but we care now. We're almost England, or maybe Nigeria.
Remember, we really didn't care about soccer until England 1966, followed by two pro leagues and even TV coverage. Pele helped in the '70s, but not enough to give soccer a foothold. After all, most countries have soccer as their only major sport, with nothing to compete. They're the ones who do the best in soccer. In America, four sports, celebrity ballroom dancing, and the Olympics get our attention before soccer does.
Univision and Cable TV have changed all that. So have Twitter and Facebook, which can spread opinions faster than the angriest tabloid newspaper.

So, we'll look forward to who wins the Cup this year. Lost of interesting possibilities are coming, like maybe a Brazil-Uruguay semifinal that's 60 years of revenge in the making, or maybe an outsider making the final four like a Japan or Ghana. If Brazil does win it all, it has a chance to repeat while hosting the Cup four years from now. Sounds almost automatic, doesn't it?
For Brazil, sure. France and Argentina pulled it off, but it's not easy.

So, let's get to my tour of sports bars hosting World Cup viewing parties:

World Cup Fever at Devere's

Concerned USA fans

I saw the first half of USA-Ghana at DeVere's, an Irish pub in midtown. It's much bigger than the Streets of London, but the crowd wasn't in the mood to chant or shout. Since Ghana scored the first goal, and the U-S was desperate to score, that made sense.

Wearing USA bunting

Then I walked over th the MVP Sports Bar, which moved a few blocks to 21st street. These guys were much louder and spirited. Some wore bunting which is similar to the flag, but is more commonly seen as decorations for baseball games. They also had chants like "America, F*ck yeah" and "Ghana-rhea"

Happy fans

The crowd was really pumped when the score was tied. When Ghana got the goal early in extra time, the mood was much different.

The end of the magic

I was surprised how excited the crowd was for this. As I left I saw someone in the men's room baning on the wall, angry about how we lost. One other fan said he was glad he's Mexican. He still had that team to root for, as they prepared for Argentina the next day.

For that game, I went to Zocolo's, a Mexican restaurant located at the site of a former car dealership. It's quite fancy, but was filled with Mexican fans and a sprinkling of Argentine supporters.

This ain't a small pub

Just Wanna Bang On My Drum All Day

Once Mexico lost, this gal had the last laugh.

Doing the Maradona twist

She was joined by two other fans, and a woman who waved a small Peru flag.

So, I will settle for watching the rest of the Cup at home, until the final on July 11th. I'll go back to Zocolo's because they promise a lot of hoopla plus samba dancers. I guess they've already decided who will reach the final.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

World Cup Fever Is Real In Sacramento

As I'm typing this, I am recording the USA-Algeria game from yesterday on a DVD. I want to have a keepsake of the USA team's wild ride to round two...and hopefully beyond.

I think World Cup fever is real because it led me to do something I have never done before....postpone by bedtime by four hours to see history. I could have went to bed and taped the game, but this was important. We had to win to get to round two, and wipe away the bad memories of Germany 2006.
After all, the world is starting to accept the fact the US is truly a soccer nation, or at least one that accepts its existence. Even with the 1950 upset over England, the US didn't care about soccer because Mickey Mantle, Jim Brown and Bill Russell's exploits distracted us. Oh, and hockey with Bobby Hull and Gordie Howe. That alone kept Canada's interest away.

We didn't start caring until 1967 when England's win inspired a pro soccer league that didn't catch on. Pele comes in, and that gives US soccer more attention. Without enough home-grown stars, or even playing in the World Cup, that didn't work for long. It wasn't until qualifying for Italy 1990 (and getting clobbered) and hosting USA 1994 that soccer proved it's here to stay. Getting more opportunities to see soccer anytime though cable TV sure helps, too.

So now we are at the Streets of London Pub, two blocks from my house, where USA and England fans gather to see their heroes get to the sweet 16.

Take your choice

USA fans enjoy the big screen, while England fans make do with the smaller but brighter flat screens. It's almost like picture-in-picture.
I did have a picture of fans celebrating the USA's goal in the first half, but that was disallowed. I had to delete it.

With the US staying scoreless while England scored a goal against Slovenia, the fans got worried, including this guy....

Wrapping the flag

At this point, I was hoping Slovenia would tie England, and put the US back on the road to round two. Of course, the US could do it themselves with a goal, but bad aim and even worse referees was making that unlikely.
Some still hoped...

Let's Go, USA!

but past 90 minutes, it looked bad.
Until...Landon Donovan saves the day. I can't embed this wideo, so here's a link to the game, including his goal in the 91st minute.

The reaction from Sacramento....


and that's it!

and Mr. Flag Guy...

Happy fan

I was even interviewed by KCRA, but any video proof of that interview is nowhere to be found. Since I am a radio guy, that's fine.
So, what now? I will try another soccer bar when I see the game against Ghana Saturday. There's an Irish bar nearby, which was featured in KFBK's coverage of "people watching soccer and drinking Guinness before work". I will see how they celebrate the game.
Sunday should be even better. Mexico plays Argentina, and there's a restaurant that's located on the site of an old auto dealership. It includes a mariachi band, so watching soccer there will be a much different experience. I'll be careful to wear a Mexican jersey in order to be welcome.
From there, who knows? I just don't think a sports bar is the best place to see a World Cup match. A small bar, out of the way, filled with jerseys and scarfs is much better. Once NFL pre-season starts, then you need a sporta bar.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

New from Cinematic Titanic: "Danger on Tiki Island"

There seems to be a split on whether the Cinematic Titanic crew should stick to live shows, or go back to the traditional route where they have to riff on movies for future generations because of some electron scaffolding or other. For all we know, some ex-Gizmonic employees are trapping Joel and the gang because they feel threatened by a group who they think will destroy life as we know if....RIFFTRAX!!
I just dare them to come out and say that.

That being said, the latest live DVD, Danger on Tiki Island, is now available. Once again, this is from their Largo Theater performances in Los Angeles. We'll try to describe the plot while tossing out a few choice riffs from the show:

A handsome Peace Corps volunteer is joined by Dr. Henderson and her undersexed wife on a trip to a tropic isle. While the natives look at their new visitors ("Native #2, he's got an Igloo cooler"), the doc wants to examine how nearby atomic bomb testing has affected the area ("This guy's like Bob Goulet after a Grand Slam Breakfast"). She wishes the doc would examine her in fairly obscene ways, The Peace Corps guy just wants to help the natives.
Anyway, they soon find out the natives have reverted to primitive ways. They have a Shirley Jackson lottery to choose who will be sacrificed to the forest monster who is now their god ("Sigmund the Sea Monster, NOOOO!"). Peace Corps guy falls for one of the natives named Alla, and we see a mysterious rich guy called Estaban ("Juan Stamos?"), complete with mysterious accent. He lives in a mansion run by very small natives who care often compared to Oompa-Loompas.

There's plenty of walking scenes, with the only excitement coming from the trees who sometimes attack passers-by with their branches ("I'm sorry I forgot Arbor Day")...then turn back into normal trees suddenly. Once one of the trees get violent, the tribe decides more sacrifices, and this time Alla's chosen. Peace Corps guy objects, and he takes her away. He goes to Esteban's mansion, where the doc and horny wife are staying.

Later that night, the doc's wife is unable to arouse him ("Is he playing dead or playing gay?"). She tries to seduce Esteban while he's sleeping, but his manservant Goro interrupts her. She tries again the next night, but gets lost in the violent forest. She then meets the monster, who's basically a pickle mascot gone horribly wrong. Let's just say her wishes do come true but in a horrible way ("Oh, she's thinking about it").

The doc gets Peace Corps guy to help him find his wife, but Goro battles the doc in a terrible fight scene that's more like Tom DeLay's performance in Dancing With the Stars.
This, of course, leads to the final battle, and the slightly shocking truth about the monster. Joel, of course, gives the perfect description of this movie: Roger Corman's South Pacific.

There are flubs, especially from Frank, but having the CT crew riff live makes it more real. We wish these guys would be included in showings of lousy movies, with them giving their comments from the wings. Imagine what they could do to the Twilight movies or Jonah Hex....or 99.999999999999 percent of romantic movies. While we may have another studio DVD in the future, having these guys live would be great, too. The Rifftrax guys are already seeing how live shows can work, thanks to their special theater shows in the past year which are also available on DVD (especially the Christmas show from 2009).

The DVD also has interviews with the crew, who say nice things about each other, and why they're back in the movie riffing game. We learn TV's Frank is quite a show biz expert, and has an interesting fan base. Of course, we also hear from the fans who can't get enough of watching bad movies get humiliated...and we never will.

A couple of years ago, everyone from MST3K got together for a special panel on the show at Comic-Con. We should have it again. We could have a riffing rumble, but I'm not sure if the CT crew would be the Sharks or the Jets. Then again, we could have a rumble where the CT's are the Torgos and the Rifftrax guys be the Krankors or Brain Guys. Now THAT should be shown in theaters across the country.

Until then, the CT live tour continues with shows in Ann Arbor, San Francisco and Los Angeles..and even more stops well into next Spring. I think the next target is a Japanese movie called War of the Insects. At least Sandy Frank didn't give us this movie.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

World Cup Fever At A Sacramento Pub

The whole world in taking the next 30 days off to see what they think is the most important sporting event, the World Cup in South Africa.

Normally, we Americans wouldn't care about soccer. Any sport that forbids using your hands and scoring six points at a time is not a sport. Two "distinguished" commentators called soccer a "women's sport" and barbaric because it was invented by South American Indians who used a human head as the ball.
Then again, some people think basketball's origins can be traced back to a Mayan game where teams had to put a ball through a hoop...and the losers are killed. That was even pointed out in an NBC sports NCAA broadcast in the 1970s. It's no more outrageous than what these "experts" think about soccer.

Some Congressmen have shown their patriotism by not having any idea what the World Cup is. I read a story in Fox News Radio where one member hoped North Korea wouldn't wind up winning the whole thing. Sure, it beat Italy 44 years ago, but that's as close as it got.

Anyway, to all you haters...

Starting the rebellion

More soccer fans

So who is HE with?

Soccer is an American game. It may not compete with the eternal battle between a Celtic and a Laker, but soccer is part of this country. We've been in the World Cup for 20 years after a long drought from the 50s to the 80s, but we matter. Besides, you can see soccer from several countries if you can handle the cable bill...or the beer tab, if you prefer seeing it at a bar.

I went to Streets of London Pub to see USA-England. It was the first time I saw the World Cup there since 2002 when the US was a goal short of reaching the semi-finals.
It was loud and crowded, with face paint and beer. Pitchers sold as quickly as pints there. And there was this...

One scary England fan

I couldn't get the red-eye out of this picture, and I think it expresses how he felt about his team.

Also, my camera almost didn't survive this game. As Clint Dempsey scored the tying goal, I tried to get a picture. Someone knocked the camera from my hand, and it looks like it was broken. Thankfully, it wasn't, and at least I got this response of people seeing the replay...

Reaction to US tying game

I think people were relieved it ended in a tie. Now both England and the US will be under pressure to win over Algeria and Slovenia by 7-0 margins to get to the next round.
If the US gets to the quarterfinals, I may consider going to another pub to see the game. Going to Pyramid Ale or a sports pub wouldn't be as authentic.

Soon, I will be at Raley Field to see an MLS exhibition between San Jose and Chivas USA. It should be interesting what type of crowd will be coming. They had Mexican league teams play before to sellout crowds. Tonight shouldn't be any different. It'll be almost like being in a World Cup game.