31 July 2006

The Year in Celebrities

Celebrities I've seen while in Rome:

Owen Wilson: The second day here, he rode by us on a bike near the Spanish steps. It was not too long after "The Life Aquatic" came out, and who could've blamed him for falling in love with Italy. I recognized the nose.

Katie Couric: I went to Piazza Navona with US Citizens for Peace and Justice and while they were filming the segment on "wacky gelato flavours" we chanted "STOP STOP STOP THE WAR!" It was pretty awesome. She wasn't very happy. Also she's short. Like Tom CRuise and Sylvester Stallone, whom I haven't seen in Italy.

2 Guys from Grande Fratello(Italian Big Brother): On two separate occasions at this fantastic (but expensive) sushi place near Piramide Metro. I didn't recognize them and still wouldn't. They didn't seem that cool or exciting, but I tried to get excited and stare at least a little over dinner.

Skunk Hair: I don't know his name but he's some Italian B list celebrity who I also saw on TV New Years. But when we saw him in person he was at an outdoor market on the edges of the city. Chiara pointed him out to me, but I was already noticing him in his ostentatious jacket and sunglasses, but mostly his hair all blonde on top but brown all the rest of the way around.

Roberto Benigni: Italian filmmaker and comedian who struck big success with "Life is Beautiful" nearly struck our car with his one night when we were going out for dinner. I was passenger and looked over my shoulder because a car swerved close to ours and their was Benigni singing to himself in his little blue Peugeot. In retrospect it would've been better if he'd hit us, and we could've hung out for awhile waiting for the cops to come.

Ray Romano: Last week in the Gallery of the Candlabra of the Vatican Museum my group struggled to pay attention because Ray Romano was there getting a tour. He's from Everybody Loves Raymond and some movies. If you've ever watched "Welcome to Mooseport" a movie he made with Gene Hackman a few years ago, because you were on an airplane without movie choices, you'd realize that he's not really that funny.
But he is famous.

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Under A Tuscan Storm

Chiara and I spent last weekend (which I like to think of as "my birthday weekend") on the Tuscan coast. It was a wonderful presence. I was determined to get a suntan.
My sunburn was actually minimal, a nice base burn to build a tan on top of. PLus we swam in the sea, spent all sunday in and around the pool, and stayed at a beautiful agriturismo. The threatening storm I awoke to on Saturday morning never materialized, so we had beach time afternoon. Also, we weren't in the hot and sticky city of Rome. It's amazing how the heat takes on an entirely different aspect when it's close to water.

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My Birthday

Today is my birthday, and that's fun.

So far i've been to the bank, read the paper, and vaccuumed.

In many ways, almost every way, growing up is alot less glamourous than how I imagined it as a kid: I was sure i'd be being a big shot by this time, you know heli-skiing, parasailing, brokering deals, fighting off paparazzi, but this birthday shows me that's not the case.

But there's still time, as I'm getting older I can see that 30 isn't old it's when I be hitting my stride. I mean, it fucking better be. Early 20's were great, I was top of the world, mid 20's pretty good too, but these late 20's are preparations for power moves. Only, what they are and where they take place, I don't know. Fortunately, age encourages reflection, perhaps there I'll find some answers.

29 for life.

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28 July 2006

The Sprouts





Woke up groggy this morning to see these two characters back off to Australia, via the train to Fiumicino Airport, to take them back to Holland for some party and then back to Oz. Good men, with some good times. Easygoing and fun, always ready to party.

Though those pussies hit the Time Machine and got motion sick, I won't hold it against them, they remembered all the details from the Machine. PLus they brought us some stroopwaffles from Amsterdam. It'll take us a year to eat them all. Class.

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A Tuscan Sunset

Chiara and I are off this weekend to enjoy a Tuscan weekend. We're going to a little place up in the hills near the beach called San Vincenzo. It's got a pool and horses. It's my birthday on Monday so it's my prezzie from Chiara: a relaxing weekend of agriturismo. I'm planning on siiting by the pool and soaking up a heap of sun into my pasty skin through SPF 30 sunscreen. A little swimming, and probably some reading.

YES!

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24 July 2006

Sweet Rain

After all the thermometers that have been exploding here in Rome, a formal warning has been issued to watch for mercury spills, and drink lots of water.




The heat may be uncomfortable, but rays of sunlight take on a different hue when one escapes the morning heat into the cool of the Pantheon and catches a glimpse of the sun shining down into the same place it's been shining for almost 2000 years.

But tonight, finally, it rains. ANd when it rains it pours. It's fucking pouring tonight. Never been so happy to see rain.

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23 July 2006

The Roots

Sure I love football like nobody's business. I live in Italy. But I couldn't resist buying this lighter, though I'm really an ex-smoker these days, this reminded me of some of my favorite things: Canada, hockey, Ottawa, and smoking.



Whatcha got here is a Canadian flag in the top left corner, with the heretofore nonexistent abbreviation "OEW" for Ottawa.* Underneath is written "OTTAWA" in block letters. With a sweet graphic underneath that of a red silhouetted hockey player taking a slapshot. He's probably one of "Canada's Players." What's he doing? IF it's not clear (and it is). He's playing "Hockey on Ice." If you can't read the script underlining it all, it says: "Smoking"

It almost makes me want to pick up the habit again. Or go to Ottawa to play some hockey on ice. Canada at the very least will get a visit in mid-September. The lighter, truth be known, had nothing to do with the decision, but it's my favorite hockey on ice related item.

* I've been informed via anonymous blogger comment that OEW is in fact 0EW and is the second half of the postal code of various government buildings in Ottawa. So it is existent, and, just a little esoteric, unless you're a Canadian Postie or work in one of those buildings. But somehow it made it onto the lighter, now let's make it in vogue. I might be from the 604, and live in the EC, but I can't wait to visit the 'zero-E-double-U.'

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21 July 2006

MORE PHOTOS, MORE PARTY

TRIUMPHAL PARADE TO THE TRIUMPHAL ARCH



PORTAPOTTYPARTY


LOOK AT THIS PARTY!


A HELPING HAND


BUS PARTY!


THE COLOSSEO SCENE


FOUNTAIN DANCING


FLAGS IN THE CENTRE


VICTORY TRACTOR



THE BUS WE TOOK HOME AT 5 IN THE MORNING

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18 July 2006

Blogger Burnout

After the fervor and excitement of the World Cup, I feel like the bloggings slowed down. But that might just be because I don't have 3 seperate events to talk about every day, like I did during the first round. Nor all the other World Cup soap operatic events. Culminating with Italy's victory. Fuck Yeah!

Anyway, I'm returning to regularly scheduled blogprogramming (bloggramming?).

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Maybe You Heard?

Email Home
July 17th


Friends,

Maybe you heard the good news: Italy is the World Cup Champion! Best football team in the world. I have been vicariously enjoying the national pride resurgence and certainly danced ontop of a bus in front of the Colosseum and chanted slogans and enjoyed the final game immensely in the Circus Maximus with 300,000 others. It was a truly monumental occasion: i'll always remember where I was when Italy won the World Cup in 2006: Italy.

After all the time and enthusiasm invested in this years World Cup (I blogged every single game), it's nice to see that my hard work paid off.

In other news summer is trucking along and I've been giving plenty of tours to the knowledge hungry transient masses here in this old town. Today I drove a couple of New York Jews around and took them to the Jewish Ghetto and the Synagogue. Seeing how the guy had been ordained as a rabbi I was a little out of my league, but it was fun driving an electric minicar (golfcart) around the city. Necessary too, because not only is it hot as blazes and jammed full of tourists, taxis are on strike.

Never a dull moment.

Last week I went North to Bologna and caught up with some BC Cooperators on a study tour of the region. We went to a drug rehab centre called San Petrignano http://www.sanpatrignano.org/page.php?catid=214 that was an inspired and inspirational visit to a rehabiliation and treatment centre that works. They also (and not coincidentally) churn out some of the most fantastic handcrafted materials in the world: handmade wallpaper, leatherbound books, wine, furniture, bike frames, ironworks... the list goes on. It's a thriving utopic community of 1,800 people, that counts a success rate of some 70%.
Remarkable, and so perfect and wholesome its a little creepy, sure, but it all seemed to work very well. You can't argue with success. And the combination of people cleaning up and learning a trade or craft or art and shaping new patterns in their lives was beautiful to see. And administered as a cooperative. Good show all the way around...

But enough about that.

Summers in full swing, 29 years are peeking at me from just around the corner, and changes are afoot in Rome, in that a move may be upcoming. Not only that there's a Vancouver visit likely in the offing. Unkle Ryan has a nephew to meet.

Just wanted to send regards... and gloat just a tiny bit:

Forza Italia!


Much Love,

Ryan Millarazzi

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14 July 2006

Post Cup Funk

The World Cup is over and I'm trying to fill the void. SO far I've been using sweltering heat and alot of work to do the job. And that's ok, but I'm waiting expectantly for the profound changes to occur in Italian society now that we own the World's most prized trophy for the next four years. Unfortunately, i think the changes will be subtle. But nonetheless hope springs eternal.

In good news and changes news, I got to go to Bologna last week for two days and a night and see some fascinating things with some wonderful people. As part of the Co-Op Studies Priogram, jointly organized by the University of Bologna, The BC CO-Operative Association, and SFU. I went to drug rehab centre/Utopia San Petrignano, expect article upcoming. Other than that, a trip to Vancouver is being organized and Ryan's getting hungry.

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World Cup Photos

What a Party! I can't get my phone to upload its photos onto the computer so I can post them on the internet, but Chiara and I do have a couple snaps so that'll have to do. For now. Though the glory of that night deserves oilpaintings and music videos and skywriting.

Anyways, here's some snaps.

Party Before, getting ready for the game.



And after the dark set in, and we prepared to launch OPERATION ALL NIGHT VICTORY PARTY, though we didn't know it quite yet, we could feel it.


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10 July 2006

The Headbutt Heard Round The World


Zinedane Zidane violently headbutted towering Italian defender Marco Materazzi in the chest in the second half of extra time. Ending his sparkling career as one of the best European footballers ever in shame. Obviously he was goaded into it; apparently Materazzi said something about Zidane's mother, suspects the BBC.

Well, every fan in Rome last night chanted "La mamma di Zidane e una putana," on a fairly regular basis. And loudly too. But I suspect he'd be hard-pressed to headbutt each and everyone of us in the chest.

Though he'll have lots of time to do that now that he's retired from football in a spectacularly sour fashion.



Anyway it's too bad for Zidane who was such a class player alot of the time and whose return to the French national team had much to do with their success. And it's a shame for Italy and for their victory that their success story has been overshadowed by Zidane's sob story.

However Zidane can be comforted by the fact that although his team didn't win the trophy he was awarded the Goden Ball by FIFA as the player of the tournament (!?)



What the fuck is FIFA thinking? On what basis do they give the award? If a player has a slow start to the tournament, being invisible except for the yellow cards he receives in two consecutive games, forcing him to sit out the third, in which his team doubles their offensive output in his absence then returns and makes some nice dribbles and passes, even taking his team into the finals but then gets redcarded towards the end of the most important match in the past four and next four years and leaves in disgrace while his team plays a man short and then loses, THAT'S THE MAN OF THE TOURNAMENT?!?!?

There's a few voting members of the Golden Ball voting committee that i'd like to headbutt in the chest.

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OMIGOD THE PARTY

Last night was the biggest party ever in the world. That may be exaggeration, but it didn't feel like exaggeration. It was a dream come true.

And there's no question that it wsa the biggest party in the world last night. Because nobody had more reason to party. Nobody.

Chiara and I watched (or rather tried to watch) the game down in Circo Massimo. The ancient Roman circus. It was just us and 300,000 of our closest fanfriends. And it was crazy go nuts ville the whole time. Except of course for the 11 minutes between Zidane's spotkick goal and Marco Materazzi's equalizer.

After extra time and it came to the penalty kicks, everybody was on their feet with the fear in their eyes. Italy can't beat France; hadn't for 40 years. And Italy chokes on penalty kicks.

But this time they were perfect 5 out of 5. France was good, except for Trezeguet who bounced his shot off the crossbar, and unlike Zizous earlier shot, stayed out.


Then it was partytime here in Italy! Until 5 in the morning when Chiara and I got home.

We paraded from the Circus to the Arch of Constantine and Colosseum with our 300,000 friends. And about as many flags. Then we ate we drank we danced on a bus, we sang, oh how we sang. And basically partied like it was our birthday.
We saw people dance in fountains. We saw cars with fresh coats of red,white and green paint, all wide open, full of gladiators. We saw tractors, city trucks, we saw Carabinieri and Police sing along to the victory chants. We saw lots of guys in their tight Italian jockey shorts dance on cars and in bars.

We saw a city and country re-energized, proud, happy and gloriously gloriously full of hype glory.

Chiara and I parked our car at a metro station so we could pick it up on our way home.
HA!
Not after midnight. So we had to walk, and we walked in our own victory parade from the Circus Maximus to the Colosseum, to Piazza Venezia, to Piazza Repubblica, to Termini, then Chiara asked for a ride from a stranger driving home. He took us to Porta Pia. The gate to the old city which we leave about 5 kilometres beyond.

We waited for a bus. None forthcoming. Fortunately that only took 5 minutes before a minivan with the back ripped out and "FORZA AZZURRI" spraypainted on the side and all the doors open full of flagwaving tifosi pulled up.

We hopped in and were home in no time.

Then we watched the last half of the game. Up close on our own TV.

Then we went smugly and happily to sleep.

I can't get my pictures onto the computer, but when I can: eyewitness pictures of the madness.

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ITALY WORLD CUP CHAMPIONS!

Mamma mia! Che fantastico, non posso crederla: siamo campioni del mondo! "Bo bobobo bo bo bo!"
Abbiamo battuta le francese, che stronzi specialmente Zizou. Una testata? Nel ultima match del sua carrriere? Nel ultima partita del mondiale 2006? Che stupidagine!
Comunque Roma era bellissima ieri sera. Piu informazione dopo. Ma senti: Italia e la squadra piu forte nel tutto il mondo! Vivo qui, nel capitale! Che figo!!!!

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09 July 2006

BLUES ON BLUES

Which Blue do you cheer for?

Les Bleus (French for the blues). The French team from France. Led by 34 year old Zinedane Zidane. With the ugliest man in football, Frank Ribery, and tall offside wonder Thierry Henry.

Or the Azzurri (Italian for blues). The Italians. Who are awesome and from Italy.

It's pretty clear that the blues we want to win are the blue Italians.

Marred by scandal in their domestic league, government, and until-recently-exiled Royal House, the Azzurri rose from the ashes of their brutal 1-1 tie with America to beat hosts Germany in the last minute of the extra time to earn their way into the final.
Top be fair, the French started shitty too, tying Korea and Switzerland in the first round.

But, the fact remains that there's gonna be a great final tomorrow. Not alot of goals probably, but an awesome final nonetheless as these awesome teams battle for football supremacy.

And if we're lucky, we'll watch Italy win while we're standing in the middle of the 300,000 seat stadium Circo Massimo watching the big screen show Italy's victory. Then there'll be an all night party with lots of honking and booze and people dressed in Azzurri blue and it'll be a night to remember for the rest of my life.

WINNER: ITALY (Because it has to be)
MARGIN: 2-0

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08 July 2006

PORTUGAL GERMANY

The third place games on. Nobody cares. In fact it's in the 15th minute and I just remembered. Like I said, nobody cares.
However since it's still 0-0 I feel I can still make a prediction. And I predict that Germany, the big surprise of this World Cup, and the home team, will beat those cheaty Ports.

WINNER: germany
MARGIN:2-1

Let's say this: Germany deserves it, the team and the country. And everybody hates Portugal.

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FITY TWO DOWN, TWO TO GO

It's almost over.
There's two games left in the World Cup. The one to decide for third place, and the Big Game to decide who's the best team in the whole fucking world.
C'mon Italy.

The strange thing is that, as the World Cup builds to it's big crescendo, and I'm living in one of the participant countries, I'm not feeling the crazy excitement. I mean, don't get me wrong, i'm excited as all anything about the Final, and if Italy wins, I'll honk and go nuts with the nutsest of tifosi, but I'm missing the World Cup even before it's gone. And it's making me wistful. Pre-completion anxiety, or something. I'm lacking the sensory overload, the 4 games a day of the first round. The deluge of Fantasy League Points. The goals, the trip to Berlin, etc.
But I wouldn't change the way it's gone up until now for anything. Because the Italy France final is going to be incredible. And i'll be watching it in the Centre of the city, with face paint on.

But four years until the next one? Shit.

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07 July 2006

Note to Self

Bring your passport eveywhere you go in a foreign country.

Because then the chances of getting accosted by Italian State Police while doing your somewhat illegal habit of offering free tours to tourists is greatly diminished.

And if that doesn't happen, or if it does happen and you can produce documents there on the spot, well you won't get taken to the first of three police stations where they hold you for an hour. They won't explain what's happening, but they will give you chocolate.

Then you could get taken to another Police Station for further processing. They won't explain there either, but you may get another candy. Also the feeling of dread will still be in the pit of your stomach, but begin to numb.

Finally you'd get taken outside of town in an unmarked police car at high speed with the siren frequently blaring where you'll be forced to wait in a holding cell at the immigration detention centre. Fortunately, the accompanying officers will likely be molto simpatici bravi ragazzi who will look after you taking you to get coffee and water and even allowing you outside though you should technically be locked in the cell.

They might even tell you cool Italian police stories and flip through your GQ magazine with Will Ferrell on the cover.

The bad news is you'll get fingerprinted and mug shotted and have to hang out in that cell all fucking day.

And even though your new cop friends are watching you when you've gone upstairs for your final processing, it won't make you feel that much better while you're hanging out in that second cell, this time with door closed, and a guy that's missing a thumb and another with alot of knife slashes on his arms lurking around zombie-like. It'll be like any scene from the movies where the lovable and dorky protagonist gets taken to the overnight holding cell. That comically scary.

And even though you won't stay overnight, you'll still feel like shit afterwards.

I know, it happened to a friend of mine.

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06 July 2006

PORTUGAL GOES HOME


...and everybody is happy!


except me.

Things were desperate in the Fantasy Football League. Everybody I'm in contention with all has basically the same players, so I went for broke and picked up another Portuguese at the ultimate transfer stage. Knowing that if POrtugal beat France, I'd be racking up mad points while everybody else watched me rock my way to the top.

But Portugal lost.

In the end this is a good thing. Because Portugal has become the most hated team in international football. Nobody wants to see them do well. They waste time. They dive. Alot. Pretty boy Cristian Ronaldo cries. Alot. Nobody would want to see an Italy Portugal final. In fact, it would've hurt Italy and their international reputation. People are starting to see past Italy's reputation for diving and playing generally ugly football. this is because of transference. People have transferred their ill-will towards Ialy onto Portugal. And that ill-will leaves with Portugal.

However if it was an Italy Portugal final, it would undo that psychological effect. With everybody hating both teams.

But fortunately the final will be Italy France. Which is 2 old school soccer powers. And old Europe countries. Going head-to-head for the greatest trophy in the world.
Awesome!

FRANCE-1 0-PORTUGAL

Couple things happened here:

Everybody in the stadium booed when C. Ronaldo touched the ball.



I think even some Portuguese.

POrtugal got called for a legitimate penalty on Thierry henry in the first half. Which Zidane put into the net. They then fell down every time they entered into the penalty area and looked to the ref for a penalty. But he wasn't fooled. nobody was. Not even "Big" Phil Scolari's temper tantrums on the sidelines could change the fact that France is going to the finals because they were the better team.

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05 July 2006

PREVIEW FRANCE PORTUGAL

FRANCE VS. PORTUGAL

The second match of the "Battle of Europe" semi-finals. This should be a hard fought battle. France are the favorites, but Portugal will have Deco back, and C. Ronaldo should be healthy with dry cheeks. Plus their goaltender just proved he's a fucking superhero from outer space against England. France however have a rejuvenated Zizou, Henry, who's always good for a goal or two, Patrick Viera, who's been earning tonnes of Fantasy League points, and, as a team, they just beat Brazil. Essentially they've gone from pathetic write-offs, to semi-final favorites in the span of three games.
But I'm not convinced. It'll be a shame to see Portugal lose in the finals in the second tournament in a row, but that may just be what'll happen. Or wait, France does know how to win, maybe they're psyching Portugal out right now, as both teams are battling on the FIFA website to be portrayed as underdogs.
We'll find out tonight.

WINNER: FRANCE
MARGIN:2-1

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ITALIAN STANDOUTS

Players who kicked ass:

Buffon: kept a clean sheet
Cannavaro: captain and defensive stalwart, who made a number of key tackles and clears
Pirlo: tonnes of sweet passes, set up the gamewinner. FIFA Man of the Match
Grosso: scored the game winner
Gattuso: this man is a fucking animal plays with his heart on his sleeve, was everywhere at once

Absent from this list:
Toni: most action he had was jogging off the field when he was subbed in the 71st minute. Captain of my Fantasy Team. Shitbag.

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Italy: WORLD CUP FINALISTS


ITALY-2 0-GERMANY

I've heard more than one person talk shit about Italy. Talk shit about their "diving" (as if they alone are guilty of that football sin). Talk shit about their draw with the USA and De Rossi's elbow, as if De Rossi wasn't publicly chstised for his foul by his coach, and the two redcarded American players weren't defended by theirs. People talk shit about Totti's last minute penalty kick against Australia, as if last-minute drama, glory and heroics weren't why they turn into the WC in the first place. Regardless of what those dicks say, Italy is a class football team, demonstratively cpaable of last minute heroics, determination, and excitement. Eat that, naysayer dicks.

Chiara and I went to watch this game atour favorite pizzeria, Al Pachino. Chiara so fervent in her support that she donned her dirty blue Italia t-shirt to head out for the evening. I had no second thoughts about dirty fan attire.

We were expecting the place to be packed, but most were ordering take-out pizzas. We got our usual meals pizza (me: Canadian pizza, her: pizza bianca vegeteriana) beer and appetizers.

The first half of the game was characterized by some careful football, not alot of scoring opportunities from either side. The ref also let the play go, which made for some nice flow, even if most of took place on the outside of everybodies 18 yard box. It was inconsistent with the rest of the tournaments refereeing though, but maybe that directive to let the play flow has come down from on high, regardless it was nice to see more football, less whistles, less cards. Only three cards, all of them yellow.

The second half saw the play open up a little. But still the score was locked at nil-nil. Before the game Chiara had been pleading with me to assure her it wasn't going to go to penalty shoot-out. Assure her I did, but heading into extra time my confidence waned. Speaking of waning confidence, Italy would most certainly not want a penalty shoot-out against Germany. Italy has never won a WC shoot-out, Germany has never lost. Odds against indeed.

If it was the fear driving them ok, but Italy surged in the extra frame. They hit a post in the 1st minute and a crossbar in the next minute. And it was attacking football the whole time. End to end action even. Germany was denied on at least one beautiful chance by hero Gigi Buffon, and Italy's substitutes, Del Piero, Iaquinta and Gilardino (all attackers) certainly made life busy for Lehmann.

But to no avail. This game looked destiend for penalties. The Italian fans (all of us) in the pizzeria leaping to our feet when Italy entered the attacking zone, but the clock was winding down, just one minute of extra time left. Del Piero pulls up on the ball in the 18yard box, looks, and feeds the ball through to Grosso, and with a brilliant first-touch left-footed strike that Lehmann could only dive vainly at, Italy took the lead in the last minute of extra time! What drama. Wingback Grosso, who I've shit talked here before, struck in one of the strongest and most important goals of the tournament.

But all was not done, Germany, desperate to equalize pushed forward on Italy, but Italy grabbed the ball back and went streaking on their own into the germans zone. And GOT ANOTHER GOAL!

This time it was substitute Del Piero, with another beautiful unstoppable kick that Lehmann had no chance on. After a clever pass from substitute Gilardino.

The whistle blew and that's the end of Germany's World Cup hopes. But we're all better off that way: they exceeded expectations, performed brilliantly, went all the way to the semi-finals, and lost (yes, a heartbreaker) to the better team. they can be proud.


And so can Italy. Once all the rejoicing and bill-paying was done at the pizzeria, Chiara and I joined the impromptu parade that seems to follow all Italy Worlc Cup victories. We honked, we drove, we took pictures. We went home. And we listened to the honking as we fell asleep. Next stop: THE FINALS!


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04 July 2006

ITALY GERMANY

Oh shit. This is a big game. My hearts in my throat already. Fuck do I ever not want Germany to win, they've done enough this WC, proven themselves, redeemed themselves, reinvented themselves. But they want revenge for the 4-1 thrashing visited upon them by Italy back in March. Here's hoping for a repeat of that game

WINNER: iTALY
MARGIN:4-1

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BRAZIL FRANCE

Brazil, with the best player(s) in the world couldn-t beat washed up France. In fact, Brazil's tremendous offence looked feckless and weak all game. Henry scored on a beautiful cross from Zidane, who was not playing like an old man. MOre like the world class player he once was/still is.

Let's hear it for upsets and an all-european semis!

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ENGLAND PORTUGOAL

ENGLAND-0 0-PORTUGAL
(PORTUGAL WINS ON PENALTY SHOTS. BECAUSE ENGLAND SUCKS)

So I watched this game with Evan Cornish. And through our rivalry I supported, marginally, Portugal. But truly I wanted England to win. Not the whole WC, but this game at least, because those lads deserved it.
But they couldn-t fucking do it.
Wayne "Oh Jesus, I hope he's fit in time. Our entire chances of winning the World Cup depend on his fitness" Rooney. Played for only the first half. But was shown a straight red card in the 62nd minute, for needlessly and stupidly stomping on Ricardo Carvallho's nuts. What a shitbag. Glad he wasn't captain of my Fantasy Football team.

Anyway, England battled with drive, desire and determination for the next hour, and fought for the draw. So to penalty shoot-out it went. And Portuguese goalie Ricardo saved 3 of 4 England shots. Lampard, Gerrard, and Carragher: you guys suck. Owen Hargreaves, much maligned Canadian from Calgary, was the only England player to score in the shoot-out.

And so Portugal, and their villain (at least to the English, and anti-date rape groups) C. Ronaldo got ot the semis.

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ITALY UKRAINE

Italy just dissembled the Ukraine here. This game had Chiara and I very very excited, me with a Belgian beer in my hand. All of us glued to the screen. I had cause to jump up and scream 3 times. 3 goals. Italy never looked in danger. Toni got 2 goals. Now he's heating up, just in time to kick Germany's asss. We hope.

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03 July 2006

So I correctly predicted the outcome of 3 of the 4 finals. Not to brag, but that's pretty good. I'd feel better about it, if my prediction for England to win was correct. ANd my prediction for Germany to beat Argentina wasn't but there you have it, i don't actually get to choose.

ARGENTINA-1 1-GERMANY (2-4 pso)

Well, my precition for this game to be an awesome one full of attacking football wasn't correct. This game was more cautious than either team should've been. But Germany won in the penalty shoot-out and they deserved to win. The biggest mistake of all is the Argentinian coach who lost the game for his country. Shitbag. Argentina scored early on in the second half. Then tried to defend their narrow one goal margin. They even substituted out their great playmaker Riquelme and leading goalscorer Crespo in the 72nd and 79th minute respectively. Germany scored in the 80th minute. So much for defensive changes.

By the time they'd gone through to penalty shoot-outs Argentina was already crashing and burning. Evidence being borne out by the skirmish after all was said and done. These players wanted to fight! Not something the FIFA higher ups, with their stragnlehold on the beautiful game, would like to happen. It didn't help that Argentina had their back-up keeper in for the penalty shoot-out, after their main guy with the really long last name got injured in the 70th minute. BUt the biggest problem was that Argentina missed 2 spot kicks.

BUt it shouldn't have gone to extra time, or penalty kicks. That's Jose Pekerman's fault. Germany had gone far enough. But now they got their eyes on the prize.

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02 July 2006

Quartefinals

The quarterfinaals happened for me in Belgium. Mechelen. Hot. Hot Party. Good times. Played some football as well. Now in Amsterdam, another great lowlands city. Going for dinner with some Australian guys. They hate Italians, as you might imagine. But we're hoping it'll go ok.

Quarterfinals, shocking, shocking and a little disappointing, but with plenty of bright spots. Well, one really. Italy won! Yes! Going to the semi-finals.

More to come.

*For anyone who has been complaining about the football focus here lately. Just wait until a few weeks after the World Cup, then we'll return to our regular sporadic dosages of wry observations on Italian life and insights into my occasionally interesting life.

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