Took the Yellow Line down to Pioneer Courthouse Square ("Portland's Living Room," a.k.a. a magnet for career hacky-sack players, meth commandos and kids with nails in their faces) for today's semi-final fiesta. Some enterprising local entertainment moguls, including my former Juggernaut FC teammate Mossy Moss, installed a gi'normous screen in the square's northeast corner, chucked up a beer garden and some sponsor booths and hoped They would come for the last four matches. So far, success: a crowd of about a thousand packed in, submerging the usual gang of urban troublemakers in a sea of polite football appreciation. The scene underscored the fact that at least here in Portland, tons of people have embraced this World Cup as a social/cultural/sporting/excuse-to-drink-beer-during-daylight good time. Even the guy who stood next to me and asked what "quarter" it was about mid-way through the second half seemed visibly enthused. If I do say so myself, I've said it all along: If you can't enjoy the World Cup, there's something wrong with you.
Meanwhile, the match itself was moderately entertaining, with patches of brilliance from both sides. A Portugal goal at any point would have juiced it considerably, of course, and the second half bogged down a little. Still, a fine time for all, and a well-deserved win for the classy French.
As silky as France can be, though, Italy must be licking its proverbials. Les Bleus aren't exactly scoring goals by the metric ton, no matter how much of a "maestro" Zidane remains. And Gli Azzurri, as noted previously, don't surrender (m)any. My call: Italia 2-0 France. So go out to your bookie and bet the exact opposite, hard.