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December 6, 2009

The Cougar Lounge - Crims, Hoodies and Yobbos

"There are idiots everywhere."

- Wazzu athletic director Jim Sterk, after Gonzaga fans chanted and yelled verbal insults at Wazzu sophomore DeAngelo Casto in last week's game in Spokane.




"It was exciting to see our defense come back to Beasley."

- Wazzu women's hoop head coach June Daugherty, after the Cougars rebounded from a throttling by Saint Mary's - when the defense took a holiday - to defeat previously undefeated Wyoming.




"That day in 1950, I'll never forget it. We're playing the British so we don't have a chance in hell, but somehow Joe sticks the ball in the net - Joe scored the craziest goals - and we win 1-0!"

- Midfielder on the 1950 USA World Cup team, Walter Bahr who provided the assist that Joe Gaetjens headed into the net for the memorable 1-0 World Cup upset over England - widely regarded as the greatest upset in sports history.




"Well, ya see Norm, it's like this...A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo. When the herd is hunted, it is the slowest and weakest ones at the back that are killed first. This natural selection is good for the herd as a whole, because the general speed and health of the whole group keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members. In much the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as the slowest brain cells. Excessive intake of alcohol, as we know, kills brain cells. But naturally, it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first. In this way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine. That's why you always feel smarter after a few beers.'"

- Actor John Ratzenberger, in his role as Cliff Clavin on Cheers!, explaining to Norm [George Wendt] how natural selection correlates to beer drinking.








The Lounge will begin this final month of 2009 with a little bit of grazing in the international meadow [that is the meadow where maidens frolic in perpetuity but, alas, some frolicking maidens do not practice personal hygiene in the same manner as in the domestic meadow] where the the 2010 Men's World Cup draw was released. Now, normally, if you find yourself to be an average American who buys power tools, eats hot dogs and apple pie and drinks Bud or Coors or Miller or some other beer because it is cheap and not because of quality - then this is the part where you would generally doze off while the rest of the world gets excited about their chances to make the Round of 16 [the Lounge would like FIFA to at least consider changing that to "Sweet 16" - instead of dull and dreary "Round of 16"]. But this is not a normal men's World Cup - this is the one where the USA drew England in their first round group.


Aside from being the country from which it claimed independence 233 years ago - which seems motivating enough - there are several extra tidbits of motivation floating around. England is, with argument from Brazil, Italy and Germany, a contender for the soccer capital of the world. England's club team matches are broadcast all over the world and its national team usually draws the attention of local police units for its finely tuned collection of crims, hoodies and yobbos [and if you do not know what those are, then you must not speak English] - which are, collectively, called hooligans when they coalesce in one amoeba-like formation. Then there are the records. England is 8-2 all-time against the USA, but in World Cup action the good old Red, White and Blue is undefeated -having whipped up a scoring frenzy in a 1-0 win over the Old Chaps in 1950 [back when they used small sheep for balls - even before Beckenbauer's time]. Since many - if not all - Americans have no recollection of that momentous occasion in international soccer history, let the Lounge help you out. The USA's 1-0 [or one-nil, as they like to say in suave and chic futbol circles] victory over Mother England in 1950 was, at the very least, the equivalent - or possibly a greater accomplishment - than the famous "Miracle On Ice" when a collection of college kids beat the all-powerful Soviet Union, 4-3, in hockey at the 1980 Winter Olympics to give them a shot at the gold medal. The team of Americans, such as it was - partially consisted of a truck driver, a mechanic, a dishwasher and a hearse driver - all who joined for $5 a day in laundry and meal money.

In 1950, England was such an overwhelming favorite in the match against this pathetic array of Americans that when the final score arrived in England from Belo Horizonte, Brazil, it came across as 0-1 to newspaper editors and one newspaper, assuming this was clearly a mistake, printed that England had won the game 10-1. After all, this was in line with the expectation of the day. The American goal scorer in that game - Joe Gaetjens - did not even get respect as the proprietor of the greatest upset in World Cup history - English papers referred to him as "Larry". The ultimate disrespect came later. Gaetjens, who was Haitian by birth, returned to his homeland only to be abducted by the notorious secret police of then-dictator Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier - the Tonton Macoutes - because his relatives were anti-Duvalier and he owned a dry cleaning business coveted by one of the secret policemen. Because of these "crimes", Gaetjens was executed in 1964 in the Fort Dimanche prison in Haiti. Duvalier never knew who he had executed - to him, it was just another political prisoner.

Now that the story has finished and "normal" Americans have awoke from their snooze, they can erupt in joyous celebration. Why? Well, they can say it is because USA will be playing England in the first round of the World Cup or they can say that Notre Dame has given the college football universe the greatest gift they can ever give to college football fans [besides a winless season, that is] - they have declined to go to a bowl game in 2009. For the first time in 13 years, it will be a Leprechaun-free holiday season on the college gridiron and if that is not a reason to invest in a vat of nog, then there never will be another better reason.

The BCS Taliban title game participants will be made official today and it will not include any of three undefeated teams - Boise State, Cincinnati or TCU - instead, it is expected to be Alabama and Texas. Five teams remain undefeated at the end of the 2009 season yet only two of them can play for a contrived national title. Hmmm…how can this situation be averted? Hmmmm…a real conundrum that one. Hmmmm….nope, you other three undefeated teams will just have to stuff it. Your wins do not count as much as those of Texas and Alabama and we - the NCAA who really are not in charge of college football during the post-season only we are during the regular season and we have playoffs for every other sport we administer - just cannot see any possible way to solve this! It is out of our hands. We are powerless to stop the BCS Taliban and their secret police decision-making process. Good thing the World Cup does not operate this way. Imagine having Brazil, England, Germany, Spain and Italy as five undefeated teams and then picking Brazil and Spain based on a combined human and computer assessment of their wins - instead of playing matches on the pitch. Who can guess how this would be accepted by the world? World War III anybody?

Maybe the BCS Taliban is upset because the President of the United States clearly hates Charlie Brown and will do anything in his power to stop us from watching A Charlie Brown Christmas including intentionally scheduling his national speech about the war in Afghanistan to coincide with the airing of the special, just like this guy in Tennessee says he did. Wait a minute…a guy in Tennessee is not very smart? No further explanation necessary.

Meanwhile, the crack Lounge research staff ignored stupid people in Tennessee and instead, tried to find out who eats fast food? We know what you are saying - doesn't everybody eat fast food? Well, yeah, but some of us eat more of it than others. Just where do people see images of religious icons and Linus in their burger patties and buns - can you guess where? - Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky mostly. Surprised?

"I find myself warming with fuzzies," says Father Lotto, who admits this feeling could come from multiple sources.

We, of course, are assuming that Monsignor Lotto [we gave him another title to distract him from the Charlie Brown show being pre-empted] is talking about the Wazzu volleyball squad and their first NCAA appearance in seven years. Although that appearance was a brief one for the Cougars, it was an accomplishment enough just to get there. Last year, the Cougars finished with three wins in the Pac-10 and the previous year, they were even farther away - finishing 1-17 in conference play. But after only two years at the helm, head coach Andrew Palileo has successfully integrated his system of play and brought Wazzu back to the volleyball elite and level of respect they enjoyed in the late 1990s and early part of this decade under former head coach Cindy Fredrick. For his efforts, Palileo was properly rewarded as the Pac-10 Coach of the Year and although they were only able to get three more conference wins than last year - that was enough for the NCAA selection committee to barely squeeze them into the tournament as one of the last teams to be invited. The strength of the conference - eight teams were invited overall - no doubt had an extremely large influence on Wazzu's selection, but Palileo and his athletes also put them in a position for the NCAA to consider them. With one NCAA trip at Wazzu under his belt and a good chunk of the team returning next year, Palileo and the Cougars can begin aiming to climb a few more rungs of the Pac-10 ladder and try to advance in the NCAA tourney to at least the second round in 2010.

"What were they thinking?" asks Marcus O'Realius about the poor behavior of Gonzaga men's basketball fans in the game against Wazzu last week.

Well, Marcus, the Lounge is divided on this subject. On one side is the faction which claims that the entire Gonzaga fan base cannot be blamed for the - vociferous - verbal assaults of a few aimed toward Wazzu sophomore DeAngelo Casto. As athletic director Sterk pointed out above - there are always going to be idiots - and some of them will be unhappy that they cannot watch the Charlie Brown special at a certain time. Now, this faction would like the few offenders dealt with the obvious solution, shipping off the offending Gonzaga taunters to Tennessee and letting them live out their lives amongst humans of similar mental capacities as theirs. But the other Lounge faction says that, in line with their supposedly high religious-based values at a private Jesuit university, maybe they should be forgiven and given a second chance. After all, Wazzu is not ducking them like the Huskies are - they actually agreed to play a men's hoop series with the Bulldogs at their own court and not on neutral sites that are really not neutral at all. So if Gonzaga fans can find it in themselves to repent their sins of idiocy, then Cougar fans and well-wishers should take the high road and give them a second chance. Far be it from Wazzu to brand an entire university with an unfair label - you know, like "party school" or something. Now, if stupidity continues to emanate from Spokane over the next few months or rears its ugly head in Pullman next year, then we will entertain the Tennessee juvenile detention center.

The mornings are always a busy time during the work week so how does one have the time to fit in all the proper internet surfing that must be done - must be done, we tell you! - in one day. Well, there is a solution for that - sorta. Instead of wasting time on social media like some people in Tennessee do, instead get 5 Blogs Before Lunch. That way, you can know everything there possibly is to know by lunchtime and you can go into that afternoon meeting confident that you have all the most updated information, such as - why reality television series, nor anything for that matter, should ever be based in New Jersey [this needs to be pointed out?], the imminent demise of Jolt Cola and why the Cayman Islands are not suing Porsche like Porsche is suing Crocs for calling one of its creations a Cayman. See - isn't this fun?


Meanwhile, the Lounge Scientists have discovered that a soccer ball will travel in a speedier fashion in higher altitude than it will in lower levels. In South Africa next year, a Beckham-blasted free kick will travel 5% faster on its way toward the goal mouth in high-altitude Johannesburg [5,558 feet above sea level] than it will in seaside Durban [26 feet above sea level]. On the other hand, a goal clearance can travel three yards farther in Johannesburg than in Durban, so it may all work out in the end - and the use of a lighter, faster ball will also have its effect - unlike the older, leathery balls of yore.

"You pulled a muscle because the ball was so heavy," says Lounge Soccer Scientist #11, Franz "Der Kaiser" Beckenbauer, a former German soccer scientist with a 1960s and 1970s World Cup research background, who reportedly will not divulge which muscle he pulled.

Just like they do in college football in America, there is revenue sharing - and FIFA will award their champion. The World Cup winner will receive $31 million - $1 million for preparation costs and $30 million for winning - while the runner-up will receive $25 million, semifinal losers get $21 million, quarterfinal losers get $19 million, second round losers get $10 million and just for making it, every team will receive a minimum of nine million. The only difference, of course, is that FIFA adopts the unorthodox method of allowing their 32 teams to play on the field in order to determine their champion.




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