Saturday, August 24, 2013

A week is a long time in politics, football, etc.

Tiny Little Baby Cannons Practicing a 4-4-10 Formation
Wenger gets a reprieve of sorts after two decent performances on the road.  Fenerbache showed little resistance on Wednesday night and were dispatched 3-0 (Gibbs, Ramsey, Giroud).  Only downside: Koscielny was maimed and came off early after a Turkish boot to the head. This morning, in the early game, Arsenal prevailed 3-1 over Fulham (Giroud, Podolski 2) with Aaron Ramsey turning in another very steady performance in central midfield.  He has a great engine and runs tirelessly to help the cause.  He might not be as steady as Arteta but Aaron is proving to be a very valuable member of the team. 

Giroud continues with his goal-per-game form, somewhat fortunate with Arsenal's first but showing a deft touch when setting up Podolski for his second.  As for Lukas, he is an interesting cat.  He is either very good (today) or anonymous.  In typical Wenger fashion, Podolski is not playing in his best position - center forward - but then what to do with Giroud?  There is rumours that Podolski will go back to Germany - which would be ludicrous given how thin the sqaud is.  Which segues to...


At this stage it is almost irrelevant who comes in.  On the bench today:  Zelalem, Gnarby, Sanogo, Frimpong...  Exactly! Bunch of no name kids.  This is ridiculous.  Only Frimpong has a handful of senior games under his belt - or socks - since footballers do not really wear belts, or suspenders...

Thank goodness Sagna was not allowed to leave - he looked very solid alongside the BFG today and both fullbacks (Gibbs and Jenks) played well.


Bring in some size for goodness sake.  The other night there was a moment where Walcott, Wilshere and Cazorla were side by side (by side).  I wasn't sure if was watching a football game or if Snow White was going to make a cameo with four other pint-sized players.  It is hard enough to win with kids, damn near impossible with midgets.


Tuesdays game at home vs. Fenerbache should be a formality; however, we are always one crazy own goal, generous penalty, ridiculous red card, freak injury away from calamity (wait, wasn't that the Aston Villa game last week?).  The real test comes next Sunday, at home to the tiny Totts.  But by then Bale will be gone and we will have signed Benzema, Di Maria, Williams, Cabaye, another goalie, Flamini, Ray Parlour, Messi, Maradona and Pele... or more likey some four foot nothing 16 year Peruvian from the French League 4 - and he will not have a passport.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Arsene's Chickens Have Come Home To Roost

Busted Cannon
A new football season started today at The Emirates in North London and already the natives are beyond restless. I would say they are justifiably baying for blood.  A 3-1 home loss to Aston Villa was unacceptable and this is up there with the debacle at Old Trafford in 2011.

First to the game.  The Gunners started brightly and took the lead in the 6th minute through Giroud after some quick ball movement up the left side of the  field.  Things quickly deteriorated.  Gibbs - with blood streaming down his face - went off injured, meaning Sagna was shifted to left back. On came Jenks and the jury is still out on his abilities.  A dreadful mistake in midfield (not sure who - but it was not Arteta) allowed Gabby Agbonlahor gallop through the middle and Chesney was left to haul him down for a penno.  Note the ref played advantage but when Villa missed the chance, he blew for the foul...  Chesney was lucky only to see yellow...  And there our luck ended.

Chseney saved the penalty but Benteke scored on the rebound.  Then the Ox who was lively, went off injured at half time.   Cazorla came on but was not his usual self.  Walcott was piss-poor.  The Wilshere-Ramsey partnership did not click.  Neither provide adequate protection for the back four. 

The ref then gave an incredibly soft penalty - Koscielny got the ball first - and Benteke scored for his second.  More misery when Kos was later sent off for what seemed to be some acting by a Villa player.  With ten men we pushed forward for an equalizer but only succeeded in giving up a third goal in the 85th minute.  The scariest moment was yet to come - the sight of Sagna being flipped when trying to win a header and coming crashing down to the grass literally landing on his head.  How his neck was not broken, I do not know.

The Ensuing Debacle
Injuries left and right, suspensions (surely Kos's red card will be appealed?) and an already fragile and thin squad is looking very weak indeed.  The cupboards are bare:  the reserves have been annihilated in their pre-season games, there is nothing at the youth level.  Worse still, Wenger sent our only viable defensive midfielder and centerback out on loan (Coquelin and Miquel).  Unbelievable.  What goes through his head these days defies logic.

Wenger and Gazidis between them have conspired to totally bollix up the first team.  All summer they have dithered and dilly-dallied and done SFA to improve the team.  A blind man could see where the gaps are.  No depth, weaknesses at key positions and no strategy (other than moan) to fix the issues.   The ownership does not seem to care.  The fans need to revolt by not going to the games until the product and the field improves.

And it could get worse: Fenerbache could very easily dump this lot out of the Champions League.

I have been a fan for too long to think this a new low.  Some of the teams fielded in the early 1980's were dire (remember the John Hawley and Ray Hankin experiment?).  But to see how far we have fallen since the Invincibles of 2003-04 is tough to swallow.

Gazidis needs to stop palavering about how much money the club has.  Go quietly about your business - all that matters are results on the field.  It is a joke to see how little Fab and RvP were sold for and the money that is being mentioned for Bale and Suarez.   Very poor business acumen.

Everyone is accountable: the ownership, the manager, the coaches, the players, the scouts, the youth system.  The fans are being short-changed, big-time.  A sad day and one that has been all too common in the past several years.  This club needs a serious overhaul and a new regime. I hope it does not get worse but I would not be surprised if it did.

The once proud cannon is in serious disrepair.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Movie Review: Elysium (2013)

We went to see this based on the strength of District 9 (2009) - same director - Neill Blomkap.  And while Elysium explores similar themes, namely a future earth that is borderline destroyed and the controlling class live in the relative safety of space, the storyline behind Elysium is not nearly as original as District 9.  That being said, the performances of Matt Damon and Jodie Foster are worthy of praise and the movie's bad guy "Kruger" dominates every scene he is in.  Kruger is played by Sharlto Copley who was the main protagonist in District 9.  His South African accent is just terrific, the way he seems to chew up his words and then spit them out with venom.

As mentioned, the plot is a bit thin, kids needing cures, etc. Offsetting this are solid special effects, especially the great wheel in the sky contraption where the wealthy humans live.

Two bones of contention: how does the colony in space create an atmosphere hospitable for humans and where were their defense forces when the illegals landed?

Elysium had a budget of $115 million, big name casts will do that... and took in $30 million on its opening weekend.  Will it break-even?  District 9, a much better film, cost $30 million but made well in excess of $200 million. 

You could wait for the DVD, but Elysium is probably best viewed on the big screen; however, I would wait for the $2 matinee - or do they still have that?


After a couple of fruitless summers we found the right place for a vegetable garden.  In 2011 it got too much shade and not enough water.  Last year I constructed a dolly based mobile unit that was designed to be shifted around depending on the sun-shade-sprinkler combo.  It failed miserably.

This year, on the advice of a neighbor, we chose a spot that got morning sun and stood a good chance of benefiting from our sporadic summer rain.  Burned (literally) from last years debacle, we planted only a few tomato plants, some leftover strawberry plants and a solitary squash.  Well, the tomato plant has grown to amazon proportions with loads of flowers - although strangely no fruit yet.  The squash has turned rampant and has several nice looking yellow offspring.  Both the tomato and the squash contrived to crowd out the strawberry plants, they have disappeared.

The apple tree had its usual abundance of fruit, which I picked and unceremoniously threw away.  The apples are sweetish but seem to have a lot of, how do you say, tenants.  Unlike last year,  when I placed the large trash can full of apples out by the curb on garbage day, this time I situated the can a little further back from the street.  See last summer some-overserved yahoo in a pickup came barreling down the road at 3am in his pickup and sideswiped the harvest.  We spent about an hour cleaning up the mess by the light of the moon. It is amazing how far an apple will roll...

The peach tree had a bumper crop, we picked the best of the bunch and brought them inside to ripen.  The missus made an excellent peach pie.

So while the 2013 vegetable garden is small - it was an experiment after all - critically it is in a productive spot and can be expanded nicely next spring.