Steve Jobs: 1955-2011

6 10 2011

The world lost one of its true geniuses today when Steve Jobs passed away at the age of 56.

News broke at the Daily Journal relatively early, which gave my boy, Erik Oeverndiek some time to figure out what he wanted to do for Page 1 … since of course it’s a story of huge magnitude. Here is a look at what he came up with. I’m glad we played it as big as we could. It’s not often we mess with the Daily Journal flag. But then again, it’s not everyday a legend and genius like Jobs dies.

For a full look at the Daily Journal edition visit <<

What a bummer of a death. Jobs is the man. I’m sure if you stroll through the net, you’ll find some notes on his speeches, quotes, etc. The guy was amazing. I take pride in knowing a turned a couple of PC heads into Apple believers in my time. And as a designer (I use the term loosely), Jobs is an inspiration.

Rest In Peace, Steve. You’ll be missed.

44 Days Until the World Cup

27 04 2010

It seemed like everyone was writing about Charlie Davies yesterday … including me. The guy is a beast. One thing I left out from the column was how I would like to see this intangible of his, this desire, translate onto the field. Davies really really wants to play in South Africa. Not that the other guys don’t, but no one is working harder that he is to get there. I hope he makes the team because he’s so much fun to watch. Anyways. You can read the story below or click here or go to a news rack near you. Only 44 more days!

From near death to the World Cup
By Julio Lara, Daily Journal Staff
Six months ago, United States forward Charlie Davies almost died.

The talented, energizing, up-and-coming U.S. striker was involved in a car accident that took the life of another and left the tibia, fibula and femur in his right leg fractured. His elbow, nose and eye socket were broken as well.

World Cup 2010? How about we start at just being able to walk properly again.

Yes, a part of any U.S soccer fan quickly thought about the June 11 date and selfishly saw their hopes vanish of seeing a streaking Davies dashing to the goal for a score. But just as quickly, we all prayed for the 23 year-old young man to fully recover and get on with his life with or without soccer.

Apparently Davies had bigger plans.

A couple of days ago, Davies announced via Twitter that he had some big news and Monday came word from the striker that he’s been cleared to resume full training with FC Sochaux marking another huge step in his amazing recovery.

“I’ve resumed full training with my club!!” Davies said via Twitter. “It’s about time (and) it feels great! My speed is getting there too! Today was a good day! God Bless.”

Davies’ recovery is truly remarkable given the extent of his injuries. He’s known all along it would be, and still is, a long shot for him to make the U.S squad that will play in Soth Africa. But the odds haven’t kept him from doing everything he can to make sure he at least gets a chance to show head coach Bob Bradley what he can do post-accident.

Davies defines what the human spirit is all about and you can’t help but root for the guy to at least get a shot in training camp. Bradley will announce the 30-man camp roster by May 11. From there, he’ll have to narrow it down to 23 when World Cup rosters are due June 1.

I’d love to see Davies make the team. There’s something about his recovery that is very uplifting. He knows he acted stupidly the night of his accident when he broke curfew and therefore left himself susceptible to the accident. But he says he’s learned from it.

I believe his teammates and all the fans are rooting for Davies to make the team, so it’ll be interesting to see how Bradley plays this. We’ve all seen what he can do on the pitch — his play during the Confederations Cup is what got U.S fans salivating.

But unfortunately, that’s all we have.

Souchaux has three matches remaining on their league schedule and team president Alexandre Lacombe has already announced that Davies will not see any playing time in the closing games. If that’s the case, has Bradley seen enough in Davies’ recovery to warrant a spot on the U.S team?

The real question is, has Bradley seen enough from the other potential U.S. forwards not to give Davies a chance?

Jozy Altidore is as close to a lock for the United States as there is despite his struggles with Hull City — he’s making more headlines for his recent head-butt and red card during a 1-0 loss to Sunderland’s than for his play this season. Houston Dynamo’s Brian Ching is still nursing a hamstring injury and hasn’t seen action since April 1. Eddie Johnson has fallen off the face of the Earth.

The forward making the most noise in the weeks leading up to the World Cup? Herculez Gomez, the Puebla striker who locked up a share of the Golden Boot by leading Mexico’s Primera Division in scoring. His stock has definitely risen, but he’s never really been considered a real player in the formation of the United States squad.

So to say that the U.S isn’t bursting at the seams with forwards would not be far-fetched.

The fact that Davies is still in the South Africa conversation speaks to his potential on the field and the lack of proven fire power up front for the United States.

Regardless if Davies makes it to the World Cup or not, his story truly is amazing — one that speaks more about the will of a man then the game of soccer.

San Francisco International Film Festival: A Game Plan

24 04 2010

Film festivals rule. Last year I missed the SFIFF and consequently had to wait another year to watch La Mission. So I’ve learned my lesson. I’ll be in San Francisco a lot in the next couple of weeks. Check in periodically for reviews of some of the films I’ll be watching. Below, the story that ran in today’s edition of the San Mateo Daily Journal. 

San Francisco International Film Festival: A Game Plan
By Julio Lara Daily Journal Staff

The San Francisco Film Society has rolled out the 53rd edition of its film festival. With 150 films over two weeks, it is widely regarded as an important stop on the international festival circuit and will definitely be the place to be if you’re a movie aficionado.
For cinematic fans, it’s the perfect opportunity to enjoy a delicious buffet of incredible story-telling by some filmmaking visionaries with whom we are familiar and others that are up-and-coming like Pedro Gonzalez-Rubio, Jordan Scott and Ciro Guerra.
You really can’t go wrong with a festival like this.
But pace yourself, come to the understanding that you won’t get to them all no matter how many Red Bulls you down or your superior knowledge of the San Francisco streets. My advice: Download the mini-guide, sit down, do some homework and form a game plan, a blueprint of how to make the best of the next two weeks of cinematic gold. Or you can just copy mine.

Stop No. 1 — “Cracks”
This film opens Saturday night at the Kabuki Theater and it’s one of those instances where you check out an up-and-coming director in Jordan Scott (who makes her directorial debut with this film). If the name sounds familiar it’s because Scott is related to three other directors who bear the same last name (Ridley, Tony, Jake). If the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, then this should be a treat. The film stars Eva Green, known mostly for her role as a Bond girl in “Casino Royale,” Juno Temple, Imogen Poots and Maria Valverde.

Stop No. 2 — “Vengeance”
Hong Kong meets France in the latest gem by Johnnie To in which French actor and singer Johnny Hallyday plays a Parisian restaurant owner who is in Macau at the request of his daughter to avenge a savage attack on her family. For those who love a good revenge thriller, shootouts in the moonlight and unreal action sequences, To’s latest is a can’t miss. “Vengeance” opens Tuesday, April 27 at the Kabuki.

Stop No. 3 — “You Think You’re the Prettiest …”
I’ll admit, what draws me to this picture is the title, which is incomplete above but can be enjoyed fully by heading over to the SFFS website. But it’s not all in the name — there a couple of key words in the synopsis, mainly soccer, heartbreak and beautiful girls, that draw me to the movie. Directed by Che Sandoval, this Hispanic film explores what happens when the man figures out that it actually isn’t a man’s world and that women are actually in charge. “You Think …” opens April 28.

Stop No. 4 — “Get Low”
For those looking to find familiar stars at the SFIFF there’s “Get Low,” a film staring Robert Duvall, Bill Murray andSissy Spacek, is for you.
The star power in this film is enough to draw you to the Castro Theater April 30. For me, it’s an interesting concept — the movie is about a man who decides to throw his own funeral … while he’s alive. “Get Low” is directed by Aaron Schneider.

51 Days Until the World Cup

20 04 2010

51 days … tick tock tick tock … This was a weird week, talk about busy. I didn’t get around to writing this until the last minute. Writing Fail. Oh well, either way, we’ll be getting into the fun stuff in the coming weeks — mainly that of predicting the outcome of the groups which will be all wrong of course. Shout out to the peoples at The Offsides Rule (link is to your right) for inspiring this week’s countdown. As always, the link to the column on the J.O.B’s website is here.

49 down, 51 to go

By Julio Lara, Daily Journal Staff
We’re just about at the halfway point of our countdown and the excitement is palpable. As April winds down we’ll be heading into an important exhibition stretch for the United States — the month of May will see the Stars and Stripes play games against the Czech Republic, Turkey and Australia before they open World Cup play against England.Head coach Bob Bradley is expected to announce the final roster in the month of May as well.

So as a shout out to the boys in red, white and blue, an all U.S version of the countdown — some fun stuff, some T.V stuff and some “that’s what I’m talking about” stuff.

Mexico or burn?

There are a couple of blogs that you have to follow if you’re a fan of the U.S or soccer in general. One of my favorites as I amp myself for the World Cup is The Offsides Rule on blogspot.

Recently the people at T.O.R posted a short interview with United States star Landon Donovan — and the face of U.S soccer had some funny things to say.

Donovan was asked if he the devil made him choose between playing for the Mexican national team or burning for all eternity in hell which would he pick.

“I’ll burn, baby,” Donovan said.

Funny thing is, before Donovan went on to play for Everton during his loan from the L.A Galaxy, there were rumors that Donovan would actually play in Mexico, for Club America nonetheless (sort of like, the New York Yankees of Mexican soccer). In this same interview Donovan says that that move was actually closer than what people might think.

Other fun tidbits of useless information: Heath bar is his favorite, he started shaving when he was 12 and when playing FIFA 2010 soccer on his XBOX 360 he likes to play as Barcelona because “I want to be Messi just for one day.”

Yes, who doesn’t.

Clint on T.V

ESPN E:60, one of my favorite sports magazine show on television, will be airing a feature on Clint Dempsey today at 4 p.m.

In it Jeremy Schaap travels back with Dempsey to his grandmother’s backyard to trace the origins of the Dempsey’s playing career. It also has interview with his U.S. teammates like Tim Howard who said that Dempsey is “hard nose, doesn’t take crap from anyone, he goes 100 miles an hour and doesn’t back down.”

Dempsey has been battling injuries in the months leading up to South Africa. He’ll sit out Fulham’s quarterfinal leg of the Europa League due to a nagging thigh injury which he sustained in a 2-1 victory over Wigan in the English Premiere League.

More Altidore

Not too long ago we mentioned on the countdown that Jozy Altidore was quoted as saying some things about the U.S and their pending World Cup match-up against England.

He later denied his quotes on Twitter and personally, I rather disappointedly, took him for his word.

But an interview has surfaced on (who credits in their article) where a confident Altidore speaks out about the Stars and Stripes and their participation in South Africa 51 days from now.

“We’ll be up against a world force in England and two quick teams in Slovenia and Algeria, and I think these opponents really suit our style of play,” Altidore said.

“We’re up to the challenge and the English will realize that when we meet them. It’ll be a tough match; no team can walk over us.”

That’s what I’m talking about,

San Jose beats New England 2-0

20 04 2010

The Earthquakes don’t look like the same Earthquakes I saw a couple of weeks ago against Real Salt Lake. I must say, I felt that were much improved. While I did miss my boy Arturo Alvarez (who was scratched because of an injury) it was nice to see youngsters like Wondolowski and Opara step their games up.

Credit goes to the SJEarthquakes website for the picture below. As always, the link to the story on my newspaper’s website is here.

San Jose Earthquakes off to good start
By Julio Lara Daily Journal Staff
Don’t look now, but the San Jose Earthquakes are starting to put things together.
It’s still very early in the 2010 campaign but the Quakes played their best game of the young season defeating the New England Revolution 2-0 Saturday night. 

With the win San Jose moves to 2-1 and avenges two losses to the Revolution in 2009. 

“(It’s) one of our better performances since I’ve been back here,” said Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop.

He might be right. San Jose hadn’t looked this good, this balanced in quite some time. Offensively they pressured New England the entire night and defensively Joe Cannon and the Quakes recorded their first shutout since October of 2009 — not surprisingly it was also the last time San Jose won a game at home.

The 2-0 outcome could have been greater if it wasn’t for the play of New England goalkeeper Preston Burpo who was superb for the Revolution in the first half. 

Twice Burpo denied Chris Wondolowski, who started in place of the injured Arturo Alvarez up front, on point blank chances in the box. Wondolowski’s opportunities were a product of some aggressive play by the Quakes. Steven Beltashour pushed up on a handful of occasions from his fullback position. His play opened things up nicely for San Jose. 

But the Earthquakes had nothing to show for their great effort going into halftime.

“I thought it was a great display of fighting for the ball tonight,” Yallop said. “Good things happen when you do that. We got in and regrouped and said hey, you’ve got to do exactly the same thing you did the first half.”

The first goal-scoring opportunity of the second half actually belonged to the Revolution. Only a spectacular save by Bobby Convey, who was manning the far post on a corner kick by New England, preserved the 0-0 score. After the save the Quakes went back to work on offense.

Their persistence paid off in the 57th minute and it was Wondolowski who was rewarded. The goal was actually sparked by the play and strength of Ryan Johnson who won the ball just inside the offensive third of the field, fighting off a New England defender in the process. He then threaded a beautiful ball to Wondolowski whose superb run opened him up just enough to receive the Johnson pass inside the 18 and finish with the right foot for the 1-0 lead.

The goal was the first of the season for Wondolowski who’s been playing well as of late for San Jose.

Defensively the Earthquakes looked like a different team than the one that gave up three goals to Real Salt Lake in the season opener — their was a cohesiveness to the group, better communication and a Cannon was rarely challenged for the majority of the contest.

San Jose added to their tally in the 72nd minute on a corner kick off the foot of Convey who found the head of rookie Ike Opara for his second goal of the season.

Cannon made some incredible saves as the game was dying down to preserve the shutout for the Earthquakes. 

Next up for San Jose — a trip south to face Chivas USA.

“La Mission” comes to SF

16 04 2010

First and foremost, full discretion, I grew up in the Mission … on 24th and Alabama to be exact … so I have a lot of emotional ties to this place. I’m sure it made me enjoy the film more than most. That said, it’s still a great film and if you’re like me, you have to see it. 

Shout out to Karen Larsen for setting up the interview with Peter Bratt — scroll down and you’ll find a jpeg of the page that ran in today’s edition of the Daily Journal. You can also read the story here. Enjoy. Hopefully.

Mission accomplished
By Julio Lara Daily Journal Staff
For brothers Benjamin and Peter Bratt, the journey back home has been a long one with stops in New York, Los Angeles, The View, The George Lopez show and everywhere in between all in an effort to promote a true labor of love.

Yet despite the time, a span that has lasted almost two years, the truth remains it’s never too late to come back home.

In many ways, tonight will be the biggest night for Director Peter Bratt and his movie “La Mission” which has been tearing through the festival circuit and was picked up for a 25-theater release in the United States. April 9 saw the film premiere in New York and tonight it will open in Northern California, bringing with it a story with which many San Francisco natives can connect.

“La Mission” is a film shot in the San Francisco district that bears its name. It captures the sights, the sounds and the feel of a neighborhood known more for its violence than its beautiful character. In “La Mission,” Peter Bratt has managed to shine the light on other aspects of the Mission culture that make it one of the most fascinating places in the Bay Area while not backing down from the issues that also make it one of the most troubling.

Having grown up in San Francisco, the task to bring a genuine depiction of the Mission wasn’t an easy one especially when you consider that tonight, those who grew up in that neighborhood will give Peter Bratt the review that matters the most — that of the people whose lives are being shown on the big screen.

In a lot of ways, those are the critics Peter Bratt is most nervous about.

“You can’t help but feel that the stakes are a little higher and go a little deeper because it’s the home town,” Bratt said. “We look at ‘La Mission’ as a love letter of sorts, now the people who the love letter was written for get to see it.”

A labor of love, a love letter, a snapshot of the neighborhood, “La Mission is a lot of things.

As a film, the picture is the story of Che Rivera, an ex-convict/“cholo” who grew up to become a MUNI driver and father of a young man, Jes. A lot of who Rivera is is rooted in the past and he is a product of the rough and gritty neighborhood of la Mission. 

Rivera is played by Benjamin Bratt, known for his roles on “Law and Order,” “Miss Congeniality” and most recently “The Cleaner.”

Having found a place of comfort in his life, Rivera is forced to confront his inner demons when he discovers that his son is gay. That scenario is the backdrop for a powerful story of reinvention — of having to remake yourself all in the name of love.

Fans of the film have been drawn by Peter’s ability to take a taboo subject in Latin American culture and force the audience to take the journey with Rivera and confront their own views of the subject. 

“I never got stuck on the notion that it might be risky,” Peter said about choosing to do a story about a Hispanic gay man. “For me as a screenwriter I just thought it was great drama. What’s amazing to me is how powerful the cultural taboo remains in so many communities like the Mission — communities where coming out often means being cut off from your family, your community and culture as well.”

As a love letter and snapshot, the film is magnificent. Peter along with Hiro Narita (director of photography) do a marvelous job of bringing the Mission to life. It’s not just the streets and all their flare, but the sounds, the language and the lifestyle that form an emotional vacuum with those who have witnessed the neighborhood firsthand.

“We didn’t set out to film the definite Mission story,” Peter said, “or the definite Latino story. (But) there is a sense of pride,” he said, adding that involving members of the community allowed the people of the Mission to have a stake in the process.

As a labor of love, “La Mission” has given the term a new definition. Backed by a small budget and a crammed shooting schedule, the Bratts have taken on the task of taking their film and pushing forward with their dream of having viewers experience it. 

For the last couple of years, they’ve taken it to numerous film festivals (Sundance, Cinequest, Palm Springs International, Goteborg), logging miles and miles in the challenging circuit. But backed by word of mouth, hard work and avenues like Facebook (of which the film has over 14,000 fans) “La Mission” has created a following large enough to spawn a wider release.

“Just the fact that we made it to Los Angeles and New York and are now opening in San Francisco, Sacramento and Santa Cruz, it’s a huge victory,” Peter said. 

58 Days Until The World Cup

13 04 2010

Maybe we’re all talking too much about Messi … let me think … naaawww. The guy is unbelievable. I’ve been following soccer since 1994 and I’m having a hard time thinking of anyone I’ve seen who is better. He’s on a whole other level. Well anyways, the countdown continues. Article below. Link to article here.

Messi’s talent matching his potential
By Julio Lara, Daily Journal Staff
This is how I know I’m not the only one blowing Argentinean star Lionel Messi’s soccer brilliance out of proportion: while sitting at my desk last week as Barcelona and Arsenal played their Champions League game, I decided to follow the game via Twitter. While I knew this would spoil my DVR experience later that night, the truth is I had to know what No. 10 was doing.Within minutes, comments about Messi started threading on the Web site. As he single-handedly dismantled Arsenal, Messi’s thread even surpassed that of the great Justin Bieber — on Twitter, that is truly a marvelous feat.

Some of my favorites Messi tweets included:

@alecko11: “I don’t have a dog at the moment, but when I do get one I have decided that his name is going to be ‘Messi.’”

@tyduffy: “Not old enough to have watched Maradona in his prime, but guessing it was something like this.”

@JamesPJennings: “Is Lionel Messi the Black Smoke on Lost???”

@JenChang88: “Well there are worse ways to go out in the CL. At least Arsenal fans can say ‘We’d have won if they didn’t have Messi.’”

@TheBigLead: “Argentina soccer history (I think): 1978— Won World Cup. 1986 — Hand of God goal, won World Cup. 1987 — Messi born.”

And my two cents after watching him score four ridiculous goals:

@julitolara: “The only thing #ChuckNorris is afraid of: #LionelMessi.”

The writers at have more great tweets on their web site.

Despite his brilliance, at the league level you have to wonder if we are setting Messi up for disaster. The build-up and hype behind this is guy is gigantic with people already saying he’s the best player of all-time — and the kid is only 22 years old.

It’s the comparisons to Maradona and Pele that has the world expecting nothing less than brilliant during South Africa 2010. And by brilliant I mean a World Cup victory.

Messi definitely has the talent to meet those expectations and it’s looking more and more like he’s actually figuring out how truly genius he can be on the soccer field. It’s a scary thought for the rest of the world when a player’s physical gifts meet with a mental understanding of the game. Other names that come to mind are Wayne Greztky in hockey, Michael Jordan in basketball, Jim Brown in football — players who have said that the game seemed to slow them for them and therefore could dominate it at a consistent basis. Messi is at that level now.

Yet, how many times have we seen players carry that pressure and try to do “too much” only to do nothing at all?

Here’s hoping that if Messi does not meet those expectations (and there’s a big chance he won’t) that the same people who built him up to be this soccer god don’t banish him to soccer hell. Regardless of what he does during the World Cup he’s a ton of fun to watch.

El Clasico

We mentioned last week that the game to watch this weekend was going to be “El Clasico” — Real Madrid versus Barcelona in a very important La Liga match-up. The teams came in tied in the standings and the star power on the pitch was going to be second to none with a lot of those players holding positions on their international teams.

As expected the game did not disappoint. The final outcome was in Barcelona’s favor — a 2-0 victory with goals from (who else?) Messi and Pedro. That makes four straight El Clasico victories for Barcelona — a record for that club.

While all eyes were on (who else?) Messi after 90 minutes of play, I can’t help but make the argument that Spanish midfielder and Barcelona teammate Xavier Hernández i Creus (better known to the soccer world as Xavi) was the true star of the game and just as good as Messi but just in that contest.

Sure, Messi gets the spotlight with his finishes, but Xavi’s vision on the pitch is unbelievable. There probably isn’t anyone else in the world who could have made the lob-pass to Messi in the box for goal one and his through ball to Pedro for the second goal warranted multiple replays and a napkin to wipe off the drool.

It’s Xavi’s ability to distribute the ball that will be a better weapon on his Spanish team than Messi’s ability to score on team Argentina. Spain also has players like Andres Iniesta, Carlos Puyol, Fernando Torres and David Villa that makes them the deadliest, most loaded squad in the World Cup. I had a friend tell me that Spain not winning the World Cup in 2010 would be just as big as Holland and their Total Football failing to win the championship in 1974.

I can agree with that.