Monday, January 22, 2007

Liverpool 2 Chelski 0

That was a great result! Liverpool desperately needed something good soon, and this might just be the result that turns things around for us. Kuyt and Pennant were the scorers, while Jamie Carragher was the star in the center of defense. Wish this could happen more often. The truth still remains that this is the first time Liverpool have beaten Chelski in the league since Rafa and Jose arrived in the English league. But hey, lets enjoy it!

So, Liverpool have won two of the five which I had talked about in an earlier post. We are now 5 behind Chelsea, and 11 behind Man Utd. I think it may still be possible to catch Chelski. Though second is hardly the same as first, it would still be terrific.

Being in this situation just keeps reminding you of the wasted points at the beginning of the season. We could easily have been title challengers if we get a good start to the season for once!! Draws against Sheffield Utd and Middlesborough(both away) and Blackburn and Portsmouth(both home), defeats to Everton and Bolton (both away), coupled with defeats to all three of the big four, meant that at the end of November, we had already lost 23 points, out of which only 9 were to the big title contenders. The remaining 14 could have been real handy right now, and would have improved our chances of stealing some of the points from the big 3 too! And in December, we lost to Blackburn again, another three points wasted.

Anyway, West Ham(a), Everton(h) and Newcastle(a) now before the trip to Barcelona.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Brand New Day

Big weekend coming up.. Liverpool play Chelski, Arsenal play Man Utd. And I am stuck here in the US with no way to watch the games. Darn! Anyway, Liverpool did beat Watford comfortably last week, and here's hoping they find a way to beat the champs. It will be a big favour to Man Utd too, especially if MU can get themselves at least a point against Arsenal. Not that I would usually be rooting for ManUre to win the league, but it will be fantastic to see Chelski bite the dust !!

I'm too busy at work lately, really need to get a lot done and fast. Might have to come in over the weekend and get some stuff done. Wish I could get out of town for a day, but don't think its gonna happen this weekend. And its dull and gloomy outside today, not at all like Phoenix, feels more like Mumbai or Pune, except there's no humidity. Its usually so sunny and nice here most of the year that one gloomy day makes you feel like it was all a mirage. It couldn't have been such a bright lovely day yesterday!! And its raining too, the irritating drizzles all day.

I'm looking forward to partying tonite at Andy's place. Its Mojito party time, and its going to be great fun as usual. We skipped our regular Happy Hour Friday meet at Tailgater's since Andy had to go home and get his cooking done. Usually, the Mojito party would be just us men, but the ladies are getting in on it today. So, there needs to be food, which we wouldn't usually bother about. Just a quesadilla later to soak up the alcohol would be it! Anyway, hope the weather is not a downer.

Did you know Mojitos were the second favourite drink of Ernest Hemingway? Though I think he had a lot more favourites than two!

And James Bond drinks one in the movie "Die Another Day". These facts courtesy Wikipedia.

Current music - still listening to Strings today. I am so bored with most modern music, i cant stand hip-hop or so-called R&B. I can barely stand most of the modern or new-age rock groups. Once in a while, a band like Train writes a song like "Drops of Jupiter" or Green Day writes "Boulevard of broken dreams". Where did all the musical talent go? I keep returning to The Who, Led Zep and Deep Purple among a few other favourites. Even bands like U2 and REM are not cracking it with their new stuff. And Metallica has lost it, they are trying too hard to just fit in. These are sad times musically. What will the next generation have to look back on as great music? Like I look back and wish it was the 70's now. So, Strings it is for today.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Strings that bind...

Feeling pretty good today. Have been listening to a lot of good music by Indian and Pakistani bands today. Being a hard-core (or pretty close) classic rock afficionado, it feels good to hear music being made in the sub-continent which can touch me the same way as Zeppelin, Straits etc do.

Of the Indian and Pakistani bands today, Euphoria and Strings are my favourites. Palash Sen, the driving force behind Euphoria is a talented musician, and I like most of their songs. They have a great way of fusing folk music into a lot of their pop songs, these fusion numbers are probably some of their best. They are most likely to trip up on songs which are all out western influenced. They have a new album out called "Mehfuz", and I hope they have a lot of sales.

But Strings is hands down the best band to come out of the sub-continent ever. Bilal Maqsood is a very good guitarist and Faisal Kapadia is an excellent vocalist. And above everything, they make music which is meaningful and literate. Check out the jukebox of their songs playing on their website. I especially love "Dhaani", "Sir Kiyae Yeh Pahar" and "Kahani Mohabbat Ki". Hats off to these guys!

I have great hopes from some other Indian/Pakistani singers or bands. The band Jal came out with a winner in "Woh Lamhey" but have not heard much lately from them. Rabbi Shergill is another and his song "Bulla ki jaana" will remain one of my favourite indi-pop numbers. Though indi-pop brings to mind mostly awful remixes, Baba Sehgal's crappy rap, and loads of British Asians trying to make it big with their bhangra booty shakes. Its up to bands like Euphoria, Strings and the guitar wielding Rabbi to carve out a new genre - maybe Indi-Rock! Aw yeah that
sounds right!

So any readers (not many yet!), go out and BUY their albums. These bands need our encouragement. Download the albums of the brit and american bands by all means ;).

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Kiss Me, Judas

Alright, no football action till the weekend, so lets talk books.

I've been doing a lot of reading lately. One of the books which left a haunting image on my mind was Will Christopher Baer's "Kiss Me, Judas". This is the first in a trilogy about the misadventures of Phineas Poe, erstwhile cop, recently released from a psychiatric hospital. On his first night out Poe meets Jude, a prostitute, who unaccountably agrees to spend the night with him - only to wake up to find himself in a bathtub filled with ice and staples on his skin where his kidney was removed. A little note says "If you want to live, call 911."

The book is exactly the way it sounds - dark, atmospheric, surreal. Add to this the fact that Poe cannot remember clearly the details of his wife's death - she was found dead on a boat. Either it was a boating accident, or it may be suicide, or Poe might have killed her. It doesn't help that another lady shows up whom Poe mistakes to be his wife back from the dead. Somethings awfully screwy about Poe and the stuff he is going through.

Poe decides he wants his kidney back. But he cant shake off a dark fascination for Jude, and starts pursuing her. It doesn't help that he needs to keep taking morphine to ease the pain. There are too many painful gaps in his memory and Poe may be hurting more people than he knows, people he does not want to hurt.

Baer is fantastic at building the suspense, and his writing evokes Poe's dreamy, incoherent state very well. He builds the story up to a conclusion which asks as many questions as it answers. On the flip side, the reader will probably want to take a break from the bleakness and go back to the next part of the trilogy only a couple of months after completing the first part. You don't want too much of Phineas!

Definitely recommended for folks who like to delve into the dark side once in a while.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Godfather weekend...

Watched the Godfather II again this weekend. Reminded myself that I havent yet added that to my list of faves. Wow.. what a movie. Robert De Niro is so good at portraying the subtlety of Vito Corleone's character. He is magnificent in that performance, something I havent been able to say too often lately. Wonder why he hasnt been making more serious movies lately, though I havent yet caught "The Good Shepherd". Al Pacino is brilliant too of course, two of my all-time favourite actors.
The one actor from the younger generation who will ultimately reach the level of these two greats, I believe, is Matt Damon. His performances in movies like "The Talented Mr. Ripley", "Syriana" and "The Departed" have all been brilliant. Another of course is Leonardo Di Caprio. He has been showing his capabilities ever since "What's Eating Gilbert Grape?". Which reminds me of Johnny Depp, another who is already on his way to greatness.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Chelski and Becks

Heard a real good one about Ballack...

Ballack walks into a cocktail bar in the west end. "Two Martinis, bitte," he pipes up. The barman says "Dry?" Ballack's fuming. Slams his fist on the table and says "Nein! I said two". :))

Like the Beatles said, Money cant buy them love. Chelski have spend countless millions in trying to buy themselves all the trophies they possibly can. They have won the premier league twice now in the process, but are universally hated by all but their own supporters. Even their own supporters cant have failed to note the reasons for their clubs status as the most hated club in the world. Why, people would even support Man Utd just because they are the ones with the best chance of beating Chelski to the winners trophy! That takes a lot of doing, as Utd were definitely the most hated club before Jose Mourinho came along.

I wish they had just stuck with the amiable Claudio Ranieri instead. I am sure he would have got them the same results. Its not like Jose has uncovered gems through his scouting network, he just buys the ones who are making all the headlines. Makelele, Essien, Robben, Crespo, Drogba, and this seasons huge flops Ballack and Sheva. The worst possible failure of a manager is when he cannot get the best out of a proven world-beater like Sheva. Perhaps Mourinho's coaching style is similar to his media personality - obnoxious, out-spoken, arrogant. At least he did have the guts to place Sheva on the bench instead of trying to keep playing him when he is out of form. Another damning statement made about Chelsea is that they are unable to entertain, even though they are a team of galacticos. And then Jose has the audacity to ask "Why dont the Chelsea supporters sing?".

They dont coz they dont have anything to sing about, Jose. Grinding out 1-0 victories at home with Drogba scoring the only goal of the game against much weaker opposition is not what makes supporters break into song!

Of course, as a Liverpool supporter, I cant be too critical of Chelsea's game! Liv havent been setting the pitch on fire lately, but the difference is that the new talent coming in is vastly un-proven. Well, not the Bellamy and Pennant kind, but the Gonzalez, Paletta, Agger kind.

Another big story this week is about Becks's final stand-off with Predrag Mijatovic and the Real Madrid board. Mijatovic gave him an ultimatum, tell us if you will sign a new deal by the end of this week. Beck's comes back with "To Hell with you, I am not going to sign. I'd rather take the $25m a year package with the LA Galaxy"!!

Sad, really sad. I dont think he can be blamed for wanting the money, and it would do wonders for his celeb status living in LA and hobnobbing with Hollywood types of course. I think Becks wants to make his hay while the sun still shines. But from a footballing point of view, its a disastrous decision. He has now closed the doors to his England career for sure. Even if he scores 10 goals a month and sets up 10 more, he will still not get back into the national squad.

A great deal of the blame should fall on Steve Maclaren, I think. His decision to strip Beckham of the captaincy AND to dump him out of the squad was a very dishonest one in my opinion. At the same time, there was no action against players like John Terry and Frank Lampard, who both had very poor World Cups too. In fact, except for Owen Hargreaves, none of the English players did anything at the WC to enhance their reputations. And yet, Becks was made the scapegoat. As a footballer, he still has a lot to offer. Teams like Newcastle, Portsmouth and Bolton would give their right arms (or their managers) to have him play for them, but Becks made it clear that he will not be able to take lining up against Man Utd in the premiership. There was some rumours of Liverpool making a move for him too, but thats highly unlikely. That shows character, I think and a sense of loyalty to the club which ignominously sent out one of their favourite sons.

Unfortunately, Beckhams choice of his next destination will always be seen as more of a money thing than a footballing decision. Hopefully, after a season at LA Galaxy, he may rethink and decide a move to the premier league is not such a bad thing. I believe he easily has at least 3-4 years of football left in him, and the MLS will not be able to hold on to him, if he still has any footballing ambitions that is.

I think thats a long enough rant on footy for today!

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Aww man, the Gunners again!

Well, damn those gunners !! Two games in a row, both at Anfield, and Liverpool gets thrashed! Hard to believe it, but it really seems like the new year has brought more luck to the Gunners than to us.

For those who havent been keeping score, Arsenal first beat Liverpool on Sunday in the FA Cup third round game - 3-1 at Anfield. Then today, they went ahead and beat us again at Anfield, this time its the Carling Cup quarter final and its 6-3 !! Nasty!! Julio "Beast" Baptista scored 4 goals!! He had only scored once before this season, and this was his 14th appearance. According to the match reports though, Jeremie Aliadere, the French kid was the real star for Arsenal, scoring one and creating 3.

Whats really shocking though is that the Liverpool defence has now given away 9 goals in 2 games, both to Arsenal!! From the match reports again, looks like Jerzy Dudek may just have played his last game for Pool. Also, Gabriel Palleta had a nightmare game. Plus both the wasteful Luis Garcia, and Mark Gonzalez had to be stretchered off the ground, so thats worrying news for Rafa.

Its not just a matter of losing two games though. This now means that the only silverware we can win this season is the Champs League. And I am not betting the house on that yet, there's Barca waiting round the corner. On the flip side, now we have two less competitions to worry about, maybe Rafa can reduce the tinkering which caused so many problems early in the season. Concentrating mainly on the Premiership, perhaps just perhaps... we can catch up with Chelski and ManUre. Here's hoping!

We will have a much simpler fixture list now compared to Chelski, Manure and Arsenal. Can that help push us to a higher level in the league? I feel we have probably slipped too much already this season to make any sort of attack on the title, but have we slipped too far off beating Chelski to the runner-up spot?? I dont know, its just 8 points, and theres 16 games to play. By the time we travel to Barca on the 21st of Feb, we will have played 5 league games... if we can have collected all 15 points by then, I'd say we might just be breathing down Chelsea necks then. Chelsea would have played 7 games in that period, Manyoo 6 games and Arsenal a whopping 9 games! Could that be to Liverpool's advantage?

Oh by the way, to get the 15 points before the CL second round away game against Barca, we need to win three away games - Watford, West Ham and Newcastle - and two home games - Chelsea and Everton. I see all of those games as potential defeats for Liverpool, especially if Rafa does not tighten his team up and get them focussed again. But at the same time, I do think we can beat them all too. Chelsea and Everton will be the toughest obviously, even though they are home games. But WH and Watford are both in the relegation zone, Newcastle are on the rise (sort of), so all the games are hard.

But we can do it! I believe in Rafa and Stevie G, and the whole Pool team. Go Liverpool!!! Keep following this blog for updates from Anfield!

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

The first one

Alright, so i guess this blog might just be doomed to be visited only by fans of George R.R. Martin and his super fantasy series "The song of ice and fire". Cool!! ;)

Jaime, the King Slayer, might just be one of the most complex literary creations I have yet come across, not just in the fantasy genre, but in all literature that I have sampled thus far. When the series starts, Jaime emerges as the first and foremost hate figure. He remains a shadowy character through the first two books, and then GRRM could not resist giving him a voice. And then the reader gets into the mind of this character, so incredibly wrenched between his hated public persona and what he knows of himself and his motives. Jaime represents all that is brilliant and unique about GRRM's series - the making, and then the breaking, of myths; the refusal to paint any characters as good or evil; making his readers re-think their opinions about liked or not-so-liked characters - and the author's sadistic glee in making the reader lose his bearings by throwing surprise over shock at him/her. His story is made even more fascinating due to the fact that initially you only hear about his terrible deeds, and you take him to be the true son of his diabolical father, Tywin Lannister. And gradually GRRM examines each of those dark deeds and shows us Jaime's view, and sometimes you think that maybe I would have done the same if I was in his place. Things are not always the way they seem. Only GRRM knows what other surprises he has in store for his faithful fans in the next episodes of his series.

I took a long time to complete Book 4, just because some of my favourite characters like Jon Snow, Dany and above all Tyrion were missing from this book. Even Sansa and Arya's stories had lost a little bit of steam, and Samwell's journey was getting monotonous. So the book starts off well, but gradually declines. But I have to say, trying really hard not to give away any spoilers for those who haven't read it yet, the book ends in a tantalising fashion. And since the next book will only concentrate on the characters missing from Book 4, we will have to wait even longer to find out what happens next to Cersei, Jaime, Arya et al. But I am looking forward to finding out what Tyrion is up to. Tyrion is another fantastic and brilliant creation. Pathetic at times, but his moments in this series hugely contribute to the superior nature of this series.

Well, that's enough for a first post.