Category Archives: Soccer

Hot Air

The World Is Wrong

I have refrained thus far from pontificating on the World Cup, the big shindig down in Brazil that the entire universe is watching.

Soccer probably is more boring and interminable than the existential nothingness of death. I use the qualifier probably only because I imagine death to be boring and interminable, considering I haven’t died yet and I can’t speak authoritatively on its attributes, but I know soccer is boring and interminable.

So give me credit: I didn’t want to kill anybody’s buzz. Bloomington has its own Viewtopia, a non-stop match-watching party on the grounds of the Tyler & Dave Ferguson Estate. Everybody’s cheering for this country and that one as if there’s yet another World War going on. To give you an idea of how profound my loathing is for the sport, if you put a gun to my head and tell me I have a choice between experiencing the horrors of another World War or those of watching the various World Cup matches, I’d say, “Do me a favor and pull the trigger, wouldja?”

Lazy Dog

Even Dogs Have Enough Sense To Be Bored By Soccer

Now, you may bleat, “But Big Mike, it’s the most popular sport in the entire world!” To which I’d reply, “So? Celine Dion, Garth Brooks, and Taylor Swift are among the top selling recording artists of all time — in the world.”

Clearly, the world’s opinion blows.

Anyway, I can’t hold back any longer. I have to call out the madness (albeit spectacularly unexciting madness) that is this whole World Cup thing. The USA advanced in the tourney by losing yesterday.

Again, they lost.

They didn’t win.

The other team outscored them.

They didn’t score any goals (not that that’s terribly unusual in soccer.)

What am I missing here? I’d always thought sports entailed the defeat of the other team. Players in the world’s various athletic contests knock each other into unconsciousness, clip their opponents’ legs so they suffer debilitating knee trauma, hit their foes with the force of small cars ramming into a wall at 20 mph, inject themselves with substances that shrink their testicles and turn their skulls into medium-sized watermelons, and otherwise bend the rules of their respective sports and those of civilization itself merely to score a single point more than the other guy.

But in soccer, the most popular sport in the world — have I mentioned that? — the team representing the USA won even though they lost.

Man, the world is stupid.

Take My Wife, Please

So, scads of same sex couples got hitched the last couple of days outside the Monroe County Courthouse. Starry-eyed pairs descended upon the venerable old edifice moments after a federal judge ruled Tuesday that Indiana’s ban on same sex marriage was unconstitutional.

The Herald Times tells us the number of couples applying for marriage licenses set a record Tuesday — and it was promptly broken the next day.


From Sodahead

I’m told any number of happy pairs showed up for their impromptu ceremonies in such a state of haste that they wore baggy T-shirts, sweats, and flips.

It’s been a long time coming.

Lesbian and gay proponents of same sex marriage have fought a long, hard battle to get homosexual love recognized by the government. They’ve been vilified, spat upon, insulted, shunned, libeled and slandered, fired, and disowned simply because they wanted to share their lives with their soulmates.

Now comes the hard part: Staying married.

Cookies Can Be Better Than Sex

Indiana University sex research maven Debby Herbenick posted a recipe from the Food Network’s Giada De Laurentiis on Facebook the other day. Lemon Ricotta Cookies with Leman Glaze.

Just saying them name of them gives me a frisson.

So, I tried making them Wednesday in honor of The Loved One’s b-day.

The verdict? The taste is fab (you can never go wrong with either lemon or ricotta). They could do with less glaze than Giada calls for. And they’ll never, ever, ever turn out as neat and symmetrical as Giada’s photo shows them. Overall, I’d give them an 82 out of 100.

Here are some of mine:

MG Cookies

Lemon Ricotta Cookies With Lemon Glaze

And here’s the recipe:



    • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 stick unsalted butter
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 15 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese
    • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
    • zest of 1 lemon


    • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
    • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
    • zest of 1 lemon


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

For the cookies:

In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl combine the butter and the sugar. Using an electric mixer beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating until incorporated. Add the ricotta cheese, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Beat to combine. Stir in the dry ingredients.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Spoon the dough (about 2 tablespoons for each cookie) onto the baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes, until slightly golden at the edges. Remove from the oven and let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for 20 minutes.

For the glaze:

Combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a small bowl and stir until smooth. Spoon about 1/2-teaspoon onto each cookie and use the back of the spoon to gently spread. Let the glaze harden for about 2 hours.

Natch, I found it impossible to wait the two hours and 20 minutes before I could taste them. Honestly, I like them a tad better when they’re still warm.

Hot Air


My friends who know a little something about soccer tell me the USA victory over Ghana yesterday is a big deal.

Search me. The extent of my knowledge of the world’s most popular game is so sparse, as the saying goes, it could be fit into the navel of a flea.

So I did a little digging. Ghana, it turns out, is located in that western protrusion of the African continent that’s home to a whole passel of anonymous (to us) little countries like Burkina Faso, Benin, and Togo. The capital of G. is Accra, which is sort of known, I suppose. Its population is 2.27 million with a total of four million in its greater metropolitan area making it, overall, about as big as Rome or Sydney.


Ghana Soccer Fans

English is its official language although its diverse pop. also speaks tongues like Asante, Ewe, and Fante. That diversity is represented by ancient and traditional tribal groups known as Akan, Mole-Dagbon, the aforementioned Ewe, and others. Ghana gained its independence from Great Britain in 1957 and now is a constitutional democracy. Ghanians produce gold, cocoa, and a barrel or two of oil. Some 50 percent of them work in the service industry. The country is known as one of the most stable and advanced on the continent.

I doubt if I’ve ever met a Ghanian. I know I would have been hard pressed to point it out on a map before doing this bit of seat of the pants research. I’d never heard of its president, John Dramani Mahama. Its air force is only two years old.

Fútbol aficionados in this holy land are delirious about the world’s last remaining superpower’s glorious triumph over little Ghana. I don’t know precisely who the USA is playing next in this World Cup shebang.

Perhaps Ellettsville.

A House Divided

The Indianapolis Star reported yesterday that the state’s casinos are “losing money.”

Let me repeat that. Casinos in the Hoosier State are losing money. Losing money!

Friends, that’s impossible. It should not happen. It cannot happen.

The house never loses. That’s the single Commandment in the bible of the gaming industry. In fact, the games that are offered in casinos and other such centers of culture and competition are designed to give the edge to the house. Simply setting up the games and letting anyone, no matter their ability play them, automatically guarantees the house operator a winning certainty.

Take blackjack. The player always goes first. If both the dealer and the player go over 21, the house wins because, under the rules, the player has gone first and therefore loses.

Players cannot count cards but very astute dealers do. When a good dealer notices the deck’s edge going to the player, s/he simply reshuffles.


How about roulette? You’d think the odds of winning would be 50/50, split between the house and the player. After all, you either get red or black, right? Only casino roulette wheels have either one or two extra spaces, a zero or double zero. When the ball lands there, it’s a win for the house. So the odds favor you know who. Over time that slight statistical edge pays off handsomely.

Poker tournaments are big deals in casinos. The house wins no matter what because it takes a cut off the top of every ante. Winning players get paid from their opponents, not the house.

Craps is a big money-maker for the house. Whenever a dice thrower scores a big win, there is screaming and cheering. This automatically draws players to the table, the majority of whom will lose — the odds are built into the dice — so the house loves to pay out big.

I could go on and on but suffice it to say the reason the Outfit got itself cozy in Las Vegas was the guaranteed revenue of gaming. There is next to no risk in operating a casino (other than, of course, getting your brains blown out for cheating the Mob out of its cut.)

So how can Indiana’s casinos be losing money?

Simple. The state of Ohio has allowed several new facilities to open up near Cincinnati. That’s only an hour from three of Indiana’s riverboats and “racinos.” The gaming industry here wants land-based casinos. The state legislature has been loath to allow that for years. Keep in mind this is a state that still doesn’t allow liquor sales on Sundays; just getting floating casinos here was fairly revolutionary. House Speaker Brian Bosma is exhibiting no sign that he’s about to start thinking about allowing brick and mortar casinos.

So things don’t look good for Indiana’s gaming people right now, that is, unless Bosma is wearing his best poker face. Should he push for land-based casinos, the state might get back the millions of dollars lost to the Ohio competition and even maybe even make more than that. Pols, just like gamblers, hate losing dough.

At this moment, the state of Ohio is the house. It’s gonna win. Bosma may feel the need to make Indiana the house once again.

Where It’s At

Jazzman and political science prof. Jeff Isaac stopped in to the Book Corner yesterday. He’s a magazine freak, tending toward titles like Downbeat and Perspectives in Politics, natch. He had to elbow his way to the checkout counter with said titles in hand as this correspondent was holding court with the usual revolving gang of cognoscenti.


Ivory Tickler

“Let me through so I can do some business with this man,” Isaac said. He paused a moment, scanning the semi-circle of faces. “Man,” he said, “this is the nerve center of Bloomington right here.”

So it is.

To wit: State Rep. Matt Pierce paid a visit about an hour later. He says he and his statehouse colleagues are wrapping up last minute business in Indy these days and then they’ll take a few months to get themselves reelected this fall.I told the Rep. I was worried about what the 538 political numbers blog is saying about the November beauty contests. I figured Pierce might try to snow me with partisan cheerleading but he spoke frankly. Bad news on the national front, Pierce observed, trickles down to the local. He’s not worried, personally, as he’s running unopposed to retain his District 61 seat.

We went on to talk about US House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s earth-shattering primary loss last week. I told the Rep. Cantor was ousted because only 12 percent of the voters in his district even bothered to show up. Pierce nodded. “You only get the true believers when that happens,” he said. True: If there’s one thing that’s dangerous in politics, statecraft, or religion, it’s a true believer.


Pierce added that only 13 percent of Hoosiers voted in our May primary. “It’s ironic,” he explained, “that the people who can really benefit from voting don’t, so then when pols get in who do nothing for them they conclude that system is broke. Then they become even more alienated from the process. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle.”

The Big Mike take-away: An apathetic electorate is just as dangerous as a gang of true believers.

Libation Information

Attn: Pencillistas! I want you to add another blog to your bookmarks. It’s local and it’s goddamned good.Author and playwright Joni Herkimer runs the A Cocktail A Day daily bleat. It’s funny and informative.

From A Cocktail A Day

Monday’s Concoction

Here’s a little taste from Sunday’s post:

I think if I got to choose my royal title, I would choose Countess. I don’t know why exactly, but the title has always appealed to me much more than Queen, Princess, or Duchess. I don’t even know exactly what a real Countess is or does, but I am pretty certain I would enjoy being one.

Keep a close eye on Countess Joni: She’s working on a play right now that’s sure to blow this town sky-high if and when it gets finished and produced. It deals with one of the biggest news stories in our great metrop.’s recent history. Everything you think you know about it, JH swears, just may be wrong.

Other than that, my lips are sealed about the project.