Monthly Archives: May 2010

Day 8: $15?! I’ll take it!

Yesterday, MexiCAN #2 and I hit Santee Alley, better known to Spanish-speaking Angelenos as los callejones. It was one of the last weekends for us to try to score some good deals on Mexico gear before we leave. MexiCAN #2 came for the company. I was on strict orders not to let her spend $$$. I’m the worst person to put in charge of reigning in frivolous shopping and impulse buying. I went in with a budget of $100 for the day. It broke down a little like this:

Got free street parking. It’s Sunday at a meter!!

Super hot, so I splurged on a $5 sun hat. Made all the difference in the world.

Saw a lot of custom Mexico Ts, but finally settled on a bright red, Ed Hardy-esque t-shirt. Not my all-time favorite style, but the shirt was hot. Threw down another $8.

Walked around a little more. Started looking for other deals. Then, came back to the task at hand. Went into a soccer store spent the largest chunk of my budget.

I’ve been looking for hats. Ideally, I’d like a big charro sombrero. My mom thinks that’s ridiculous and I’m pretty sure MexiCAN #2 agrees. Perhaps MexiCAN #2 is more embarrassed by my poncho. But, like I said, the more naco you are for the World Cup, the better. They just haven’t realized how cool it’s going to be.

Didn’t find the sombrero there, but did see a slammin’ hat that looks fierce on me. It was just $10. Bought another for MexiCAN #2.

Money well spent. But, lo and behold, in the racks there was one small black away jersey. Grabbed it and deliberated if it would be excessive. At this point, MexiCAN #2 confirmed that her mamá got us replica green jerseys. I didn’t really deliberate that much…

Official black jersey: $70

My replica: $15!!

Took a break for a bacon-wrapped hot dog. Spent another $1.

On our way back to the car, stopped by a jewelry store. All jewelry 50% off, plus another 10%. Looked around and bought two earring/necklace sets for mi mamá and me. Grand total: $22

On way to car, lent MexiCAN #2 $3 to buy a baby apron. I dunno? It’s cute, but I’m just glad she knows a small kid who likes aprons.

Left downtown LA with some cash in my pocket. From here, MexiCAN #2 and I headed to Hollywood. Before meeting up with friends for a movie, we kicked it at Boardner’s, where I spent another $10 on happy hour drinks. From there, walked to the Arclight and threw down the rest of my money: $16

Grand total: $100

PHOTOS from top: Santee Alley vendor selling Mexico swag on Sunday, May 30; red Mexico shirt; green-and-white cap; official black jersey and replica.

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Trimming the fat on a 7% body

When you only have 7-percent body fat, where else can you trim? If you’re the Mexican national soccer team, you can start with Jonathan Dos Santos.

Giovani‘s younger brother, who plays for Barcelona when he’s not training with Mexico or loaned out, did not make the final roster of players South Africa-bound.

It came as shock, to me, at least. He played the full 90 minutes in the game against Gambia yesterday AND he didn’t even come in the Top 2 during the poll. Tri-istas are generally quite tuned into their team.

  • BOFO BAUTISTA: 43%
  • JONATHAN DOS SANTOS: 16%
  • JORGE TORRES NILO: 37%
  • EL VENADO MEDINA: 4%

Even with 43 percent of the vote, BOFO was probably spared because of his two goals in the 5-1 victory against Gambia.

The FINAL MEXICAN team:

GOALKEEPERS

  • Luis Michel (Chivas)
  • Memo Ochoa (America)
  • Oscar Perez (unattached)

DEFENDERS

  • Jonny Magallon (Chivas)
  • Jorge Torres Nilo (UANL)
  • Efrain Juarez (UNAM)
  • Paul Aguilar (Pachuca)
  • Francisco Javier Rodriguez (PSV)
  • Hector Moreno (AZ)
  • Rafael Marquez (Barcelona)
  • Carlos Salcido (PSV)
  • Ricardo Osorio (unattached)

MIDFIELDERS

  • Gerardo Torrado (Cruz Azul)
  • Israel Castro (UNAM)
  • Andres Guardado (Deportivo La Coruna)
  • Giovani dos Santos (Tottenham)

FORWARDS

  • Javier Hernandez (Chivas/Manchester United)
  • Cuauhtemoc Blanco (Veracruz)
  • Adolfo Bautista (Chivas)
  • Alberto Medina (Chivas)
  • Carlos Vela (Arsenal)
  • Pablo Barrera (UNAM)
  • Guillermo Franco (unattached)

PHOTO: Jonathan Dos Santos, 20, trains with Mexican team September 2009.

Day 9: Splish-splashing to 5-1 victory

After Portugal got their diva on, Mexico lined up a game with Gambia to test out their game against African-style play. They played  in Bayreuth, Germany.

My play-by-play:

8:30 a.m.: Woke up. Wondered what time the game was on today. Woah, others watching it on TV already. Good thing didn’t sleep in.

11 MINUTES: Started watching. Trying to figure out who’s on the field. Mexico, in their green-shirt/white-short kits, blend into the field. Gambia, on the other hand, stands out well with its red shirts and blue shorts. Alright, it looks like JONATHAN DOS SANTOS is playing right now. Good for him.

12:30: ANDRES GUARDADO attacks. Corner kick by DOS SANTOS. Hey, anyone else think the Gambian goalie looks like Stringer Bell, a little. And the kick! nada.

14: Pop up advertisement for The A-Team… en cines… 11 de Junio. Interesting sidenote, Mexico is in Group A… on main stage… 11 de Junio.

16: GUARDADO taken down and Gambia gets yellow-carded. People are falling all over the place.

16:45: Another attack begins. Long pass on the goal by RAFA MARQUEZ. Yay, he’s in! Gambian defender kicks back…. ooh, other dude misses pass and CHICHARITO is there! GOOOOOOOOOOL Man, that field’s a sponge. People are getting tripped up everywhere and Hernandez was there to convert.

18: RAFA takes free kick. Ooh, over the wall and straight on goal! But he drops it!!! Chicharito almost scores again!

19:30: GUARDADO viene, viene, viene… nope

21:30: Ball finally made it to the other side of the field. Just now noticed LUIS MICHEL from Chivas is in goal.

22:47: VELA cuts in, passes to GUARDADO, doubles back to VELA. Damn, that STRINGER BELL goalie is taking the shots and coming up with HUGE saves. There’s another one at 23:56.

27: Corner kick for Gambia. Long and high to the second post. It’s still in play in front of the goal. Oooh, some Gambian player is attempting a bicycle.. Too HIGH! Phew…

28:29: Free kick on Mexico’s goal and MICHEL gets it.

32: Attack on Gambia, STRINGER BELL cleans it up and quickly throws ball down the field, starting Gambian attack. Too close. Player gets caught up and Mexico cleans it up.

37:21: It’s getting cloudy in Germany and apparently that’s a concern because there are no lights at the stadium. We can’t be having a repeat of that French Open match played in near-total darkness.

43:58: Players sliding all over the place. To me it looks like fun. Like a grown-up slip ‘n’ slide. To my dad: They should not be playing there. If someone gets hurt, they should sue.

And HALFTIME.

4: MICHEL saves kick and you can start to hear the rain falling hard. Ugh, what a muddy mess. I take back my previous statement.. but wait, oh…

4:37: SALCIDO kicks on goal and CHICHARITO is there to push it in. Or did he? I can’t tell if we’re celebrating or just laughing off an attempt. Nope, it’s a GOOOOOOL. CHICHARITO scores again. Man, he’s earning that $10 million from Manchester United now.

9:21: SALCIDO to GUARDADO, who shoots on goal. Too wide. Kept in play by DOS SANTOS. Passed to RAFA, who also shoots on goal. STRINGER BELL stops it but it bounces. CHICHARITO is there to shoot. Too wide. El BOFO BAUTISTA is there on the other side of the post to shoot. This time STRINGER BELL holds on to it. Intense play! Kudos STRINGER.

10: Mexico makes some substitutions. VELA for EL VENADO MEDINA and CHICHARITO for CUAUHTEMOC BLANCO.

13:40: Mexico scores again. This time it’s BOFO. I kinda think we were offsides, but no one’s saying anything, so I guess it counts. I’ll take it! GOOOOL. Man, I want Mexico to win, but I’m also rooting for STRINGER BELL. I’m at odds.

19:59: Corner kick and Gambia heads it into the goal. Good for them. Good goal. Score UPDATE: Mexico 3, Gambia 1

25: Mexico is still one player over the World Cup limit. Telemundo’s poll on who will get cut today:

BOFO BAUTISTA: 43%

JONATHAN DOS SANTOS: 16%

JORGE TORRES NILO: 37%

EL VENADO MEDINA: 4%

28: CUAU heel passes to, what, himself. EL VENADO shoots and BOFO cleans it up and gets tangled in the net. GOOOOOOL. Score now 4-1. BOFO is leading the poll and he’s responsible for half the goals.

32:37: Mexico makes more substitutions: JONNY MAGALLON for MORENO and JORGE TORRES NILO for SALCIDO.

35: EL VENADO with the ball and GOOOOL #5.

And it’s done… Here’s a video clip with goal highlights:

PHOTO: Screen shot of CHICHARITO scoring from Mexico’s 5-1 victory over Gambia Sunday, May 30.

Day 10: The Countdown Begins

This is the official countdown to my World Cup adventure. True, the festivities do not kick off until June 11 with Mexico taking on host South Africa in the opening match. But I am located in Los Angeles, so my trip officially begins 10 days from today. (I’m fudging my timeline a little since it’s technically past midnight over here.)

And since I can’t think of anything else, I figured I’d share my itinerary (at least the parts that are already set in stone). So if anyone is anywhere near me at these times, be sure to look me up.

Let’s begin…

MONDAY, June 7: After a full day of work, which will likely be hectic as I wrap up all my loose ends, I’m hopping on the Westwood Flyaway for LAX. Gotta catch that redeye to New York. Since the plan is to go to the airport directly from work, I’ll be lugging all my stuff on the Metro Rapid bus beginning at 7:30 a.m! If anyone’s offering a ride, I believe in airport-ride karma. Just so you know…

TUESDAY, June 8: Arrive in New York before 6 a.m. and twiddle my thumbs for hours. Meet up with MexiCAN #2, check in and board Emirates international flight to Johannesburg via Dubai.

WEDNESDAY, June 9: After 20+ hours of flying, layovers, in-flight movies and more than a few magazines, touch down in Johannesburg at 4:30 p.m.! Get my luggage. Get my second South Africa passport stamp. Get my match tickets at the airport. How convenient are they!

FRIDAY, June 11: Heading to safari. Yeah, right! I didn’t even believe that. I’ll be settling in at Soccer City Stadium for the 4 p.m. opening match between MEXICO and SOUTH AFRICA.

SATURDAY, June 12: Skipping out of Jo’burg and heading to Cape Town. As far as what we’re doing while there, trying to stay out of trouble. We’ll be staying in Hout Bay. Maybe we’ll hike Table Mountain or visit the gardens. If Crush is still there, I’m heading for their butternut squash soup. Oooh, and Mama Africa. Any other food suggestions? MexiCAN No. 2 and I will also be going on a bike/wine tour one day. A 21-kilometer ride with tastings at four wineries. That doesn’t sound dangerous!

TUESDAY, June 15: If we survive, taking British Airways flight back to Johannesburg and picking up a rental at the airport. Must remember they drive on the opposite side of the road. Since MexiCAN #2 doesn’t drive stick, our survival rests solely on my remembering that little fact.

WEDNESDAY, June 16: Drive to Nelspruit, which I’m told is 358 km from Jo’burg. Why would I go there? For the second match, silly. This time its HONDURAS v. CHILE… hmmm, who to root for? MexiCAN #2 made accommodations for us to stay in a tent this night. Could count as “camping”… if so, then hey, I’ll knock something else off this list.

THURSDAY, June 17: Drive to Polokwane for third match: FRANCE v. MEXICO.

FRIDAY, June 18: Drive back to Nelspruit. No more tents. Kicking it in South Africa’s version of Super 8, or so I think. It may be better. It may be worse. This is when we begin to hit up Kruger and all other stuff that requires my malaria meds.

MONDAY, June 21: Drive back to Johannesburg for fourth match: SPAIN v. HONDURAS. I just noticed we’re going to be watching a lot of Honduras’ games. To the untrained eye, it may seem that I’m a fan. Not really. The first match was picked because it was in Johannesburg and this one was picked because of Spain. Honduras just happened to luck out.

TUESDAY, June 22: Somehow get to Rustenburg (121 km from Johannesburg) for fifth match: MEXICO v. URUGUAY

THURSDAY, June 24: After a few more days of cavorting, watching games and mingling with other people who worship at the altar of futbol, MexiCAN #2 and I head to the airport. Sniffle. On our way back to Los Angeles, we’ll be making a weekend stop at New York… How much fun can two jetlagged MexiCANS have in New York? Stay tuned.

PHOTOS from top: Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa; MexiCAN #1’s passport stamp circa 2004; Nelspruit tent.

Nearing my limit on that un-New Car Smell

A couple of days ago, I took this photo of my car parked right next to another burgundy-colored Volkswagen Jetta. It was an underground parking lot at 10:30 p.m. on UCLA campus. The lights are bouncing all over the place, which helps my car out a little.

The moment I spotted my car and then this neighbor, I started laughing. Really?! Of all the spaces in all the parking lots in all of UCLA, this newer, fancier, CLEANER version of my car had to park right next to Rodal. It was as if Kismet wanted me to see what a burgundy VW Jetta was supposed to look like.

It’s bigger. I’m shorter. It’s sleek. I’m boxy. It’s color is deep and shiny. Mine’s faded, scraped, scratched and unmatched in a few places. It has chrome. I’ve got aluminum alloy. Better yet, what I have left, is alloy/plastic.

A detailed list of everything that’s wrong with my car would take up all my available space here. Suffice it to say there are parts missing, parts broken, parts that don’t open and others that can’t close. There’s duct tape keeping some parts together and the will of God on the rest. A drive-through window or parking garage instantly transforms into a dangerous game of chicken because my car dictates when and where it plans to roll the windows up.

On July 14, Rodal (named after my hs French teacher whose first name was Jetta) will turn 11 years old! That’s 77 in dog years and decrepit in Claudia-driving years. I’m not the best or most attentive owner. I stay too long in a gear without shifting. I fly over potholes like they’re my personal playground. I’ll race some Valley punk with a suped-up SUV even as I can hear my alternator about to bust. I easily forget oil changes and wait for the rain to wash away the grime. That or when my dad gets fed up with how gross it looks, whichever comes first.

All this to say, the time has come for a new car. Believe it or not, this is the first time in all these years and all these problems (oh, I forgot, broken a/c in desert summer) that I am seriously considering trading in Rodal for a newer model.

It is a bittersweet moment. I am excited about getting a car that’ll at least have a CD PLAYER in the dashboard. My CD CHANGER is in the truck and I only have that because it was a gift. Rodal’s basics were bare bones.

But I’m also getting sentimental about all our road trips and life experiences.

I learned to drive stick with her that first summer. My skills and her emergency parking brake were put to the test quickly. I was working as a merchandise sales associate (fancy title for souvenir hawker) for $5.75/hour at Universal Studios that summer. Any locals out there or die-hard Studio heads: Imagine that steep hill as you turn into the park from Lankershim. I needed a running start for that. God forbid there was traffic on the hill!

Like on that other hill I started driving that same summer: The 405. Rodal and I left for college together, grew up, grew old and came out the other end.

RODAL gets her own category for sticking by me for so long. Oh the stories we could tell.. and I will.

PHOTOS from top: Rodal and new version parked next to each other in Lot 2 at UCLA campus; Universal Studios fountain; View of 405 Freeway/Sepulveda Pass.

I’m UCLA and so are you

I’m taking a little break from my World Cup frenetic postings to share this video. To all my former and future Bruins out there, take a look at the cute video produced by the UCLA Fund.

This year, UCLA was the most popular school in the nation in terms of applicants… People are tripping over themselves to get in… but what good would it do if our resources are drying up like the rest of the state’s? It should come as no surprise that our UC system is in dire straits (though we did receive light reprieve from the governor this month).

DISCLAIMER: Yes, I’m a proud Bruin who spent four glorious years as an undergrad here. Yes, I’m also a proud Bruin-turned-staffer at an amazing research center for equity in schools. I’m not unbiased when it comes to the BEST college in the world. Who else boasts equal parts brain and athletic superiority nestled on beautiful campus?

OK, I’ll allow some whispers

Sigh x 2.

As the title suggests, this post is my own reaction to Quit saying we’re down and out. After hushing all the nay-sayers about Mexico’s loss at the feet of England, they go and do it again. This time we fell to the Netherlands in Shakespearean fashion where the one consolation was that the rain could hide the tears.

In soccer, it’s win, lose or draw. We deal in absolute values. Even if the final score was 2-1, it’s still a loss.

Some articles and commentary have said that Mexico was the superior team on the field during the second half. Those kind words can only console so much. What good is being good if you can’t score? I don’t want to be known as the team that’s technically superior but still a loser. What kind of rep is that? You’re playing Mexico?Don’t worry. They’ll outrun you and outshoot you, but you should still come out on top. That should console South Africa, France or Uruguay, but not Mexico.

It’s a friendly, another meaningless game. Wrong. I think by now my charade has been exposed. I was full of it during my last post. Of course friendlies matter! Especially when they take place almost two weeks before the main stage. Who wants to go to South Africa with their morale deflated because they lose in friendlies? This isn’t like the All-Star break or spring training where players refrain from aggressive plays, stealing or sliding into home plate pleats first.

There’s another test for mi TRI on Sunday against Gambia. At least they get a first-hand chance to test out African play style before the opening match.

And now to ease my wounded ego, a compilation of Mexican kudos:

From Radio Netherlands:

“But the Wembley scoreline doesn’t reflect the performances of the two teams; by comment consent, Mexico were far superior for most of the match, and this fixture promised to be a good test for the Dutch.”

“… Suddenly the Dutch defenders had to work hard, and looked a bit shell-shocked, as if they were not expecting Mexico to play good football. If so, that was a big mistake…”

“If Mexico had played for the whole 90 minutes like they did in the second half, the result would almost certainly have been different.”

From LA TIMES:

“Mexican Coach Javier Aguirre, whose offense was kept bottled up for much of the first half, made some impressive adjustments at the intermission and they nearly helped his team steal the win.”

PHOTO from AP: Netherlands’ John Heitinga and Mexico’s Jose Hernandez battle for the ball in 2-1 loss Wednesday.

Quit saying we’re down and out

Sigh.

Where did all these haters come from?

After a commanding performance for the last few games, El Tri’s three-game winning streak came to an end yesterday in a friendly against England. My black-clad team was defeated 3-1.

It seemed the second the ref blew the final whistle was like uncorking the island… All negativity poured out.

“Wow! If they can’t beat England, they have no chance against the great teams like Spain, Brazil and Italy.”

“Mexico needs serious work on their forwards.”

“That one goal was a lucky shot.”

Of course, I’m not pleased that we lost. Of course, I would be saying some stuff to England fans had they lost, a la “how do you expect to win against Spain when you were so readily handled by Mexico?” Of course, I’m aware of the hypocrisy. It’s my prerogative. It’s every fans’ prerogative between June 11 and July 11. (And I suppose, leading up to it too).

But this is why I think everyone should just chill.

ONE: It’s a friendly. It means nothing in the end. (Though, had we won, it would mean much more.)

TWO: No offense to Oscar Perez, but Memo Ochoa wasn’t in the goal.

THREE: Mexico dominated in the first half. Though they didn’t convert as often as they should, their fierce attacks had England trembling. Unfortunately for us, that scared them straight into our goal. Whatever!

Even England coach Franco Capello was awestruck by our fierceness.

“I knew Mexico is good in possession, technically. They are faster than us and it was not easy to win back the ball,” Capello said.

I guess we won’t know who’s right or who’s just hating until the final showdown next month. Until then, Mexico can redeem itself tomorrow against the Netherlands and next Thursday against the defending champions, Italy.

PHOTO from Reuters: England’s Glen Johnson scores past Mexico’s Oscar Perez in 3-1 victory Monday, May 24.

Starting the one-bag journey

Today begins the beginning of the beginning of my trip preparations.

Man, that’s a lot of false starts.

In other words, today I start packing.

It’s three weeks away, but quite on time for me. Maybe it’s a wee bit early, but who ever got screwed over by having too much time? Let’s not answer. This time around I’m trying something new. Plus I know that my days will be quite hectic before my departure date.

If I don’t front-load my time, I know I’ll end up throwing way too much stuff in a bag or suitcase, forgetting something relatively important like a camera, sunblock or match tickets or just going all Mitchell. I can barely contain myself to “carry-on” size for a weekend getaway to Vegas, how am I going to manage a three-week adventure with the same restrictions?

By planning, that’s how.

I’ve scoured the internet for “travel light” tips and have come away with some suggestions. The main one, the one I’ll implement today: Make a list.

I’m flying in June. Normally, that would mean I can take advantage of the weather and steer clear of heavy, bulky, space-hogging items. Not so this time. Yeah, it’ll be June but I won’t be packing summer clothes for South Africa. I need to plan for sweaters and jackets and ponchos!

So many sacrifices…

Maybe I’ll just get a whole bunch of those space bags that I get three times smaller by vacuuming out the air.

If I could turn back time…

… I’d do it in Vegas!

I’ve found my musical icon and I’m going to see her rock it out the way only 60+ year olds know how. For my friend’s birthday, we are going to sway and dance to Cher song and be mesmerized by her many wigs and costume changes at the Colosseum at Caesar’s Palace this weekend.

Could you believe that there are people who chose to go to Vegas and not see Cher?? Inconceivable!! They obviously don’t know what they’re missing and I’ll be sure to rub it in after the fact.

In T minus 5 minutes, my weekend (and  my road trip) will officially begin.