Why is Pennzoil trying to make men associate motor oil with umm, enjoyment?

During any World Cup, we’re subjected to many of the same ads over and over again. Whether it’s Adidas’ Pedro, or Eric Cantona on that stupid prison boat thing, the ads end up totally riveted into our consciousness by the end of the tournament. This year, beyond the usual overload of U2 from ESPN2 it looks like we’re going to subjected to this ad from Pennzoil.

[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWGTg22k-7A"]YouTube- Pennzoil Ultra TV Commercial[/ame]

That music in the background may sound familiar. It is, of course, from the famous Phoebe Cates pool scene from Fast Times at Ridgemont High. The song is “Moving in Stereo” by the Cars, but everyone in America remembers it for this. (Video below is somewhat safe for work.)

[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PqMIfeTc-CM"]YouTube- Phoebe Cates In Bikini[/ame]

Thus, what is Pennzoil going for when it shows a motor oil ad with this as its soundtrack? Every guy born in the last 30 years is going to associate that song with just one thing – and that thing has nothing to do with motor oil. (Unless you really, really like cars, like to an unhealthy level.)

What do you think? Is this ad sort of odd and creepy to you?

I Hope I’m Wrong About England …

… It’s been no secret here that I am not enamored with the defense the United States has put together for this World Cup. I think their speed is a question mark, and their ability to counteract opponents’ speed and pace, along with questionable positioning that allows opposing players to be free in and around the 18, is a major concern heading into this tournament – the biggest concern the US has.

It is why, when I posted my picks for the tournament yesterday, I placed England at the top of Group C, ahead of the United States, with the reasoning that I just can’t pick the US to beat England. Do I want to see the US win? Absodamnlutely. I’ll be cheering like Hell for it, and when the US does win, I’m sure folks great and small will be here to remind me of it all.

But to look at it objectively, my big fear regarding playing England is that I’m just not sure how the United States is going to keep this opponent from scoring twice, or maybe even three times.

Consider:

  • US defenders Steve Cherundolo, Jay DeMerit, and Carlos Bocanegra are all on the north side of their 30th birthdays. You could call this veteran presence, but I worry if they can keep up.
  • Cherundolo makes up for his age by only standing 5’6″. Only Clarence Goodson and Oguchi Onyewu stand taller than 6′, with both checking in at a relatively gargantuan 6’4″.
  • I’ve discussed here before that I’m not a big Jonathan Bornstein fan, and I’m curious to see how much coach Bob Bradley relies on him Saturday. Then there’s Jonathan Spector, who just doesn’t seem ready for this type of primetime stage.

So, given these factors, how can the US shut down England? Can they man-mark the likes of Wayne Rooney and Jermain Defoe (if he’s used). Questionable. Can this defense coordinate well enough with the midfield to cover all the zones and hold off England that way? I’m afraid this will lead to trouble.

Can this defense handle the air within the penalty area? This is where having a healthy Onyewu and an on-point Goodson is absolutely critical, given that the US might find the 6’7″, 65-pound Peter Crouch lurking late in the match.

And this isn’t even getting into set pieces, where England should be dangerous with Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard in the middle of the park.

Despite all that’s been presented here, it’s not an impossible task. Some great philosopher or marketer or some such thing once told us that Impossible is Nothing. The one thing in the United States’ favor is that while I fully expect them to concede goals Saturday – I also fully expect them to score. If you follow the NFL, this US side could be equivalent to the ’81 San Diego Chargers – you never really know when a score is coming on either side of the field, but you generally didn’t have to wait long. It won San Diego more games than it lost, but it never got them a title.

The key is, can the US defense hold out England long enough for the midfield to play to its potential and put forwards like Edson Buddle, Jozy Altidore, and perhaps Robbie Findley in position to make England pay? While I expect England to score 2 or 3, I also expect they’re going to need to score 2 or 3.

If the US defense plays its best game in quite some time, then yes, England can be had. But if I have to pick, I just can’t say with a good heart that I believe in the back line right now. It’s good enough to get the US past Algeria and Slovenia and to advance to the second round – I have no doubt of that.

Whether it’s good enough on Saturday, however, remains a question mark in my head.

I hope the US emphatically tells me I’m wrong.

FRIDAY’S PICKS:
Mexico 2-1 South Africa
Uruguay 1-0 France

How to tell who writes what on Fighting Talker

As our readership has spiked a bit during the run-up to the World Cup, I see that some readers are having a hard time telling which of us has written each individual piece.

Here’s a quick guide. Let’s a take a look at an earlier post.

If you look at the two areas that I have circled, you’ll see the name/username of the author of the post.

For those of you reading via RSS, I know it’s a bit harder to tell. The RSS feed often lists me as the author of every post. If in doubt, or if you’re about to comment, just look atop the post on the site itself (rather than the RSS) and it will let you know who you’re “talking to.”

I hope this helps, and thanks to everyone for reading.

Pessimism that even I can’t agree with

First of all, I’d like to introduce everyone to my good friend Ted C. He’ll be contributing during this World Cup. Not only is he a fellow DC fan and an overall smart guy, but he’s been Fighting Talker’s most prolific commenter since the old WordPress.com days. So, he knows what he’s talking about and gets the full Fighting Talker seal of endorsement.

Yesterday, he debuted on Fighting Talker with a piece saying how because of the injuries and altitude the World Cup might be a disappointment.

I don’t agree one bit. While the rash of pre-tournament injuries has been bad, it won’t spoil our memories of this tournament. Can anyone out there remember a single injury to a team you don’t support (or England*) in the run up to the the 2006 or 2002 World Cup?

I can’t, and I even tried thinking about it when I was in the shower where I get my most of my truly “deep” thinking done.

We’ll remember this World Cup like we remember almost all of them, for a hopefully compelling (if not entertaining) final, for some great goals, some great saves, some amazing images, and for how our own teams do.

Are we really going to remember how Robben hurt himself (again) or how Ballack didn’t play? Fans of Holland and Germany might, but for fans of other countries looking back on the tournament, I think they’ll be mere footnotes.

I like the fact the tournament is going to be at altitude. Hopefully it, like the heat of 2002 and 1994, will help create more unpredictable results.

Despite my worries about the US. I can’t wait for the World Cup to start. I don’t connect the Nigeria-North Korea stampede with the management of the tournament on a micro level. The tickets appear to have been sold and they’ll be using technology to ensure that fraudulent tickets aren’t used to beat the system.

There will be plenty of time to assess whether it was a good idea to put the even in South Africa later. For now, finally, after the years of qualifying and anticipation, the World Cup is about to start and I can hardly wait much longer.

* Provisoed because they’re so hideously over-covered, especially as it relates to Beckham.

If you’re going to watch one thing other than the World Cup this weekend, make it Le Mans

[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=db5W8cVhdm0"]YouTube- 2009 Le Mans 24 Hours Race Start HD[/ame]
The start of last year’s race

I’d like to interrupt the World Cup buildup to ask, no, to implore you to take a few minutes out of your fervent soccer watching to watch one of greatest sporting events in the world, the 24 Hours of Le Mans. I’ve made it a bit of an annual tradition to plug sportscar races on this site but this is the big one. Le Mans. Yup, it’s the race Steve McQueen made a movie about back in the 70s. It’s quite simply the greatest motor race on earth and it’s definitely worth tuning into for even a few minutes.

Speed Channel summed it up pretty well a few years ago.
[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cP-OSYcjsjQ"]YouTube- 24 Hours of Le Mans 2007 – broadcast intro[/ame]

The other great thing about Le Mans, especially this year’s edition, is that it’s got a little bit of something for everyone.

For folks into the cutting edge of technology, there is Audi and Peugeot revolutionizing diesel technology as they battle for the overall win. These two manufacturers have plowed hundreds of millions of dollars into showing that not only can a diesel engine last 24 hours, but that it can do so while pumping out over 600 horsepower.

Audi’s 2010 challenge for Le Mans

For the red-blooded Americans you’ve got the Corvette team which will battle BMW, Ferrari, Porsche, Jaguar, and Spyker for the win in the GT2 class featuring production based cars.

For the art lovers out there. BMW commissioned renowned artist Jeff Koons to paint a special “art car” that will compete in the race. Koons isn’t the first artist to paint a BMW race car for Le Mans, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Alexander Calder have also created cars that then become priceless pieces of both art and racing history.

Jeff Koons and his new BMW M3 art car.

Here in the US, Speed Channel is televising most of the race starting Saturday morning and going through the night into the Sunday morning finish.

I’ll leave you this. Watch this footage of the cars last year traveling over 200 mph through the night and tell me this isn’t more than just a little bit cool.

[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5oPZUCZpdWk"]YouTube- Le Mans 2009 porsche curves at night[/ame]

Anyway, if you’re killing time between matches Saturday morning, flip on over to Le Mans for a few minutes.