Watching my daughter roam the sweeper position with an unselfish, team-oriented approach fills me with the kind of pride only a parent could comprehend. And if she can get a college scholarship out of it, all the better.
——Roy Trakin,
Soccer Dad


Things To Think About When You’re Not Being Told What To Think About
As the first year of the new millennium winds down (or approaches, depending on who you ask), we find ourselves in a reflective mood. Amid the dot-com disasters, merger anxiety and shrinking 401k's was some positive stuff as well. So this weekend, why not make your own list of things you're grateful to have experienced this year? Either that, or drink and smoke yourself into oblivion as you repeat your mantra, "Life is shit and then you die." Your choice.

Y2K's Little Joys, Fondly Remembered
In this speeded-up, wired world, where satisfaction is a mouse-click away, people barely listen to entire singles, let alone full, 78-minute CDs. Here's a year-end list of my own admittedly idiosyncratic Pop Culture Moments before they pass in a haze of memories:

  1. Subway Series: I'd waited longer for the Mets to play the Yankees than for the next Beatles, and it was essentially all over after an excruciating extra-inning first game that lasted almost as long as the Presidential election. Run, Timo, run!
  2. Broadband Penetration: The second coming of Gutenberg, it made possible Napster, hypertext, interactivity and the ultimate convergence of the home-entertainment system.
  3. Eminem, "The Marshall Mathers LP" (Aftermath/Interscope): With "Real Slim Shady" and, especially, "Stan," the singles of the year, and producer of the year Dr. Dre, Mr. Sensitivity captured the current WW-"F You" zeitgeist like a media prophet drunk on his own naughtiness.
  4. Radiohead, "Kid A" (Capitol): I wasn't a fan, either, but they proved pop is in the eye of the beholder with an anti-marketing campaign that galvanized the e-generation, climaxed by a world-class concert at the Greek.
  5. Outkast, "Ms. Jackson" (LaFace/Arista): A stunning single from an album that's hip-hop's answer to "There's A Riot Going On."
  6. Cameron Crowe's "Almost Famous"; Stephen Frears' "High Fidelity": These bittersweet odes to the rockcrit mindset gave beleaguered pop scribes their own version of Truffaut's "Day For Night."
  7. Howard Stern: The most important popcult figure of the '90s threatens to overstay his welcome, but if he leaves, talk radio will never be quite the same.
  8. Comebacks & Reissues: Lester Bangs, U2, Steely Dan, the Band, the Beach Boys, Fela Kuti, Sun Ra, Cat Stevens.
  9. Live: Old guys in effect, with Neil Young @ the Greek, Suicide @ Knitting Factory, Brian Wilson @ Roxy, The Who @ Hollywood Bowl, Nine Inch Nails @ Anaheim Pond.
  10. Reality TV: "Once and Again": fortysomething with real angst; "Felicity": teenpop TV with voyeur fizz; "Curb Your Enthusiasm": "Seinfeld" from George's POV, nasty but true.
  11. Concept albums: Queens of the Stone Age, "Restricted" (Interscope): stoner rock as Platonic ideal; Mickey Katz, "Greatest Shticks" (Koch): M.O.T. forebear; Johnny Cash, "American III: Solitary Man" (American): death be not proud; Beatles, "1" (Capitol): timeless capsule; "Poultry In Motion: The Hasil Adkins Chicken Collection 1955-1999" (Norton): more cluck for your buck; Travis Meeks, "The End," "Stoned Immaculate: The Music of the Doors" (Elektra): this is definitely the end.
  12. Books: Neil Gabler, "An Empire of Their Own"; Frederick Exley, "Pages From A Cold Island"; Jim DeRogatis, "Let It Blurt." —Roy Trakin

Trinidad vs. Vargas
Now here is the fight we've been waiting for. This Saturday (12/2), at Mandalay Bay in Sin City, two big-time fighters will go at it in a big-time battle. We know the champ (and so does Oscar De La Hoya!). He's Felix "Tito" Trinidad, born and raised in Puerto Rico. The defending WBA Super Welterweight Champion (38-0, 31 KOs), Tito will be defending his crown against Oxnard, CA, native "Ferocious" Fernando Vargas (20-0, 18 KOs), IBF Junior Middleweight Champion. Unlike bouts in previous weeks (e.g., Lewis/Tua), this fight has the feel of a Tyson/Holyfield extravaganza—without the bite. Undoubtedly, Vargas will be inspired by the support of the crowd, American and Mexican alike. The 22-year-old possesses the hunger and skills to upend Trinidad for the title, but will the experience of Trinidad enable him to win round after round? Tune in tomorrow night at your nearest black box, or shell out the $49.95 on fight night to Don King & Co. —Don Daily

Millard Fillmore, our 13th president, was born in the Finger Lakes country of New York in 1800. He became president on the death of Zachary Taylor in 1850. His administration authorized Commodore Matthew C. Perry's expedition to Japan in 1852-1854. Best Anagram Of His Name: Immoral elf drill.

"Say what you will about the Ten Commandments, you must always come back to the pleasant fact that there are only ten of them." —H.L. Mencken

Gobler Toys:
First of all, it rhymes with "wobbler." And speaking of "Wobblers," it is at that one can learn of the interesting history behind Ira Gobler's most successful toy: Gobler's Wobblers, the wobbling toy kids can climb into and whose "high-impact design allows for wobbling fun on all terrains." Naturally, the Wobblers were later instrumental in the Allied forces' victory in WWII—just read the article on the site. Other great Gobler toys include Louie The Cheese Shark ("the bath toy that blows cheese-scented soap bubbles"), the Wiener Works (which kids can use to make their own hot dogs from table scraps), and Rodeo Rover (the plastic horse head that "turns ordinary dogs into buckin' broncos"). Does it matter that there are no such toys and no such man named Ira Gobler? Only in that it'd be pretty cool to own the Rocket Head, the lighter fluid powered helmet that can help you "win every race you run."
—Jeff Drake

Sir Isaac Newton's First Law of Motion
's First Law of Motion is fairly simple: "An object at rest tends to stay at rest, and an object in motion tends to stay in motion." What this means, on the one hand, is the empty beer cans you left on your kitchen counter last night will still be on there when you drag your ass out of bed the next morning. They won't throw themselves away. It also means, on the other hand, that when you are driving without a seatbelt and you slam on the brakes, you go flying through the windshield. Newton based his theory on the radical thinking of Galileo, the foremost scientist of the 1600s, who discovered that friction is what eventually causes moving objects to stop. Newton's First Law of Motion states that force isn't needed to keep an object in motion. In fact, like the HITS staff, all objects resist changes in their state of motion. It's that pesky friction that usually stops moving objects. Thank you.
—David Simutis, apprentice physicist

Chaos permeates Eastland when Mrs. Garrett's attempts to entertain her French visitors who speak no English are met by a series of bizarre events.

CINCINNATI –4 over Arizona
Shoot fire—confidence is high after last week's Turkey Day twin killin'. Most prognostickaters would have more interest in games like Washington-Giants or mebbe Miami-Buffalo. But to me, this here game has it all: bad runnin', bad throwin', bad catchin', bad kickin'. But them dang Cardinals is the badderest of all. Cincinnati will run on these turds all day long. (Record to date: 3-2)

Because You Have To Go Outside Sometime
Saturday and Sunday in New York City should be typical of this time of year. Expect partly-to-mostly cloudy skies with highs in the upper-30s to mid-40s. A strong breeze from the Northwest will produce wind chills in the mid-20s, so do wear a hat. Saturday offers the best chance of sunshine. Here in Los Angeles, there will be a couple of partly cloudy days with highs in the 70s and lows in the upper-50s. There's a reason that people move out here, folks. Our friends in Tulsa should look for high temperatures in the mid-40s, and it will dip down to the low-30s at night. Strong winds mean a wind chill in the low-20s. Luckily, no precipitation is in the forecast. There's a reason that people move out of there, folks.
—David Simutis, apprentice meteorologist

Confessions Of A Soccer Dad
What hath Brandi Chastain wrought? There's a fever pitch of intensity, with flying bodies and sharp elbows everywhere, trash-talking, cursing the ref, openly questioning the coach's competency …and that's just the parents.

Welcome to the world of Under-10 Girls Club Soccer, SoCal style. Since the success of the Women's Soccer Team at the Olympics and the World Cup, Girl's Soccer has taken off all over the country, but especially in states with warm climates like California and Florida, where they can play all year round.

My own 10-year-old daughter Tara has been playing since she was five years old, when she started in the recreational AYSO. For the last two years, she has been playing "club" soccer, a more committed program that involves at least two practices a week, two games every weekend and a series of tournaments in locales as far away as San Bernardino and San Diego. We pay up to $1,500 over four months for the right to schlep our kids to practices and games, make sure they have enough water, their equipment is on properly and their hair is in pigtails, braids or a pony. Naturally, the only people you end up socializing with are the other parents. Needless to say, with that kind of commitment, it's not how your daughter plays the game, but whether she—and by extension, we—wins or not. This isn't just a game—it's a culture.

My daughter's team, SoCal United, has an impressive record of 9-4 in the Coast Soccer League, good enough for a second-place tie, but parents are already jockeying to find better teams for their daughters next year. One or two losses in a row and, just like in pro sports, the talk turns to replacing the coach—in this case a young college athlete in her 20s. The level of competition is remarkably high for girls nine and 10 years old, with some teams even starting to develop aggressive, borderline-dirty tactics like grabbing, holding and tripping.

That young women now have role models like Chastain and Mia Hamm is a welcome change from the adolescent sex-kitten images thrust upon them by the likes of Britney Spears. Chastain's Nike-sponsored appearance at the Hilton in San Diego during last weekend's Surf Cup championships drew an overflow crowd of 2,500 eager soccer acolytes. Pre-teen and teenage girls are now encouraged to participate with the reliance on teamwork that has become standard for young males in this society, which is an even more positive sign—that and the fact they don't have to sacrifice their sex appeal in the process.

And while my son is more interested in directing and acting, it is through my daughter that I get out whatever vicarious sports dreams I still harbor after a lifetime of spectating. Watching her roam the sweeper position with an unselfish, team-oriented approach fills me with the kind of pride only a parent could comprehend. And if she can get a college scholarship out of it, all the better. At the very least, she's forced me to appreciate a game I haven't watched since Pele played for the New York Cosmos (run by Warner Communications and Nesuhi Ertegun). Hey, as long as she doesn't show an interest in playing football. —Roy Trakin

Redrawing the Mason-Dixon Line (5/21a)
Let's look under the hood. (5/21a)
It'll be here before you know it. (5/21a)
Art and commerce intersect. (5/21a)
The latest action from the live sector (5/21a)
Gosh, we hope there are more press releases.
Unless the Senate manages to make this whole thing go away, that is.
No, not that one.
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