31 May 2011

Empathy for Zombies

Deprived of my weekly dose of not-so-legal streamed episodes of Game of Thrones, I thought I spent Monday night looking for an alternative. I wasn't expecting much from normal TV but to my surprise, RTE were showing the first episode of The Walking Dead that very night. 

Not actually a direct replacement for the fantasy/soft porn/medieval adventure genre that is the Game of Thrones but a zombie flick is always good entertainment in my books, whatever the occasion. Even the B-grade ones. So, in this case, RTE are certainly pampering its viewers with a whole series of bite-size zombie-filled weekly episodes. Cool.

Anyway, halfway through the episode, like the still normal characters in the story, I was starting to feel some sympathy for the zombies. How would it feel to be a zombie? I mean it's not their fault that they're rotting former human beings that have a craving for human sushi.

Well, short of wanting to munch on a another human being, my curiosity was satiated. The next morning, I felt horrible. Be careful what you wish for, eh? Rest and something to put my mind off this sickness would be best. Maybe Game of Thrones would magically appear again online. That would be good. Maybe not. Where's that Panadol...?


29 May 2011

Once Upon A Time...

Once upon a time (actually, just last night), Wayne Shrek travelled to a land far, far, away (London if you haven't figured out already), to play a match of football.

He lost the match and was quite sad. Nelson Muntz wasn't.

I tend to agree with Nelson but that's just me.

PS: Just waiting for when Mascherano would come out with some I-told-you-so dig at his former club while at the same time trying to justify his move to Barcelona last summer. Maybe he's feeling guilty for having left the club. Anyway, I personally hope he doesn't do it because I used to like the dude so, just drop it Javier and enjoy your well-earned victory. Congratulations.

Update 30 May 2011: Mascherano dedicates Champions League victory to Liverpool fans (video here). Smart move. We like to you too.

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27 May 2011

The €4,000 Scooter Question

 A brand new, "all-improved" Vespa PX for €4,000 as recently quoted by Scooter Island.


A brand new genuinely improved LML 200 for €3,850, also at Scooter Island. Yes, that's with a 200cc (200!) engine with an old-school style manual transmission for less than the price of a 125cc Vespa.

Thankfully, it's not a question that I'd have to answer any time soon.  That would certainly wreck my head.

25 May 2011

Vespa PX: Presidential Parenthesis

 It took me almost two hours instead of the usual thirty minutes to get home last week. This week, it was Barack Obama's turn and I was expecting worse. It didn't turn out as bad though. Largely because I had learnt my lesson and was more sure as to where I needed to go to escape all the madness. The lack of protests also helped. I was half-expecting there to be some form of protest from the anti-war/anti-globalisation/anti-everything combo but it was all quiet on that front. Maybe there were too exhausted after last week or maybe they just couldn't be bothered because Ireland's infamous sideways rain (normally seen on Paddy's Day) had made a return the morning of Obama's visit.

Maybe the rain has a thing for visiting American tourists.

Whatever it is, I took the precaution of leaving two hours in advance to make it to wherever I needed to be on time. Unfortunately, the plan worked all too well and I was at my intended destination about an hour ahead of schedule.

It wasn't the worst thing that could've happened to me. The sun was shining that afternoon, I had some delicious sambal ikan bilis buns in the glovebox to keep me from starving to death and if I listened carefully, I could've probably heard the live music blaring out of the speakers as a warm-up to the President's speech a couple of miles away on College Green. And, if that wasn't enough, I could always keep myself entertained by trying to decipher the pieces of modern "art" that was spray-painted on a wall close to where my Vespa was parked.


The 25th of May represents a historic landmark in my life...

On this day, six years ago, the miracle of Istanbul stunned the world (especially the Milan players on the pitch of the Atatürk Olympic Stadium) and brought joy to the 30,000 or so Liverpool supporters in the stands that night as well as thousands upon thousands of others like myself who were glued to their tellys.

But seriously and more importantly, nothing (bar two other similar events) could beat my own personal miracle a couple of years later. The 25th of May was also the day my third child was born so, Happy Birthday boy! Daddy made a balls when ordering your birthday present. It's not going to be around at your wee birthday party but rest assured it will be worth the wait.

23 May 2011

Sixth It Is

It's half-time at Villa Park and Liverpool are 1-0 down courtesy of Stewart Downing. It wouldn't be too hard to imagine what could have been said in the dressing room then. Something along the lines of this wouldn't be too far off...

Come on lads, we can win this! And, when we do, Europe awaits us next season...

Yes, Europe but the Europa League. That great motivating factor for all players who want to achieve something of signficance in their lives. I'm sure the players would be overjoyed with the opportunity to play against footballing luminaries from Azerbaijan, Malta and the Faroe Islands.

So, it came as no surprise that the lacklustre performance continued in the second half and the scoreline stayed the same. Spurs ended up winning their match against Birmingham anyway, condemning Alex McLeish's side to the Championship next season and pipping Liverpool to fifth spot.

The season ended the same way it started - a bit of an anti-climax. But then again, I was never expecting great things this season anyway. It's all about next season then, as is now and that was evident in Dalglish's post-match interview with the BBC.

When asked whether the lack of European competition would be beneficial to Liverpool as it would be one less distraction from the domestic competition, Dalglish just looked at the reporter as if he had asked the world's dumbest question.

After a few moments, to the reporter's relief, Dalglish finally gave him a fitting reply (not Dalglish's exact words but close enough as far as I'm concerned): Liverpool FC belong in Europe. Europe is not a distraction to Liverpool. To some other clubs, Europe might be a bit of a distraction but not to Liverpool.


And then, when asked whether Liverpool would be spending a wad load of money in the market come the summer, the short reply was that it would take a very special player to replace what Liverpool already have at the moment. Well thought of reply in my opinion as even if Liverpool were going to spend a large portion of the reported £100m budget, it would still give a temporary boost to the current crop of players (especially the Academy graduates) as well as having the effect of dampening any mad inflationary impact and any intent from clubs out there who would like to hold Liverpool to ransom for their player(s).

Can't wait for silly season to start. I've got the feeling this one's going to be a very good one indeed.

21 May 2011

Lando Calrissian's Co-Pilot

Nien Nunb


Yup, there's another for oh, you never know, an upcoming inter-galactic pub quiz. Plus, the dude reminds me of a friend of mine in primary school who had a horrible sinus problem. Never bothered getting him a tissue or anything like that though. I just thought he was just too lazy to wipe his nose. What? I was a cruel kid? I'm not his mommy, dammit.

Anyway, thinking of it, he (I've been reliably informed that it's a "he", not my friend, the alien) kind of looks like me after I've been out riding on a very cold day. My wife must really love me to be hanging around with a  guy that looks like Nien. Heck, he's even better looking than I am. In an alien fly boy kinda way. Like a totally-not-gay Val Kilmer playing beach volleyball in Top Gun or something. Without the funky leather hat of course.

19 May 2011

Unleashing the Rempit Within

Wednesday morning. I had been reminded on countless occasions that there would be road closures and traffic diversions over the next few weeks yet, I still reverted to auto-pilot mode and followed my normal route to work.

Not a good idea.

I could've been stuck in traffic for hours on end all because it was decided that the Queen would need the whole of Phoenix Park as her private playground. Fortunately, common sense prevailed. Phoenix Park was open to public traffic that morning. At least for traffic heading into town.

It seemed great at first - there was very little traffic going through the park that morning but then, I realised that I was being watched the whole way through the park by a couple of hundred pairs of gardai eyes decked in yellow hi-viz gear that lined both sides of Chesterfield Avenue. It wasn't a very pleasant feeling especially when ever so often as I passed by, a guard would start talking into his walkie-talkie thingy...

Check out the fat eejit on his moped looking like feckin' Darth Vader. Bwahahaha!

Should we stop him Seargent?

I didn't get stopped that morning or the morning after but still, I'd rather not have all that attention on me. Feelings of paranoia aside, other than an annoying issue with my Vespa cutting out at almost every other red light (need to sort this out ASAP), I managed to get to work on time without having to strip a single piece of clothing!

The journey home was a little bit different though.

It was actually bad even before it started. The AA's site was great at pointing out that ALL bridges across the Liffey would be closed to traffic but wasn't helpful in coming up with a solution. I came to the conclusion that since my Vespa couldn't fly or had the ability to float on water, I'd just go with the flow and hope for the best. The approach seemed to have worked fine until I reached Christ Church where traffic was at a standstill. A solitary guard blocked the slip road to Thomas Street and a quick glance opposite to where he was standing explained why he was alone.

His buddies in blue were a bit pre-occupied with a group of 50 or so break-away "protesters" who appeared determined to get to Dublin Castle so that their voices could be heard by the British monarch. Don't think that would achieve much but it all did seem like a bit of fun until gun shots were heard. Or, were they just those really loud firecrackers. Whatever it was, I wasn't curious enough to hang around and find out especially since solo guard was just given his orders to let traffic through the safer end.

I pointed my Vespa away as swarms of reporters and photographers ran in the opposite direction, towards the action. That wasn't the end of it though. I still had to escape from the traffic madness and get home. So, like on many occasions before, I let the rempit in me takeover and went all gemilang on Dublin traffic.

Still, between all the road closures, diversions, stuck lorries and mile-long queues of cars, I eventually managed to get home in about two hours. Thinking about it, that was just the rehearsal. Next week, Ireland welcomes Barack Obama.

17 May 2011

Grey Matter

Steven Gerrard, Dirk Kuyt and Luis Suarez were over in Dublin last Thursday to launch Liverpool's much awaited 2011/2012 away kit. And where was I when all this was happening?

A mere 15-minute scooter ride away, on the other side of town, stuck in a windowless room trying to think of an excuse. Any excuse. An escape plan that would make it possible for me to pop down the stairs, jump on my Vespa and head towards Henry Street that sunny Thursday afternoon.

It was never going to happen though. I would just have to wait until later that afternoon to get my hands on the jersey. That was the easy bit. Unlike the jersey, Gerrard, Kuyt and Suarez won't be kept in stock by Lifestyle Sports so, I'll just have to accept the fact that I'll have to travel all the way to Liverpool to stand a chance of meeting either of the three in person. Wonder what my wife would think of another Anfield visit? Hmmm...

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15 May 2011

Vespa PX: Black & White

I would've preferred red and silver but just couldn't justify forking out on a pair of Bitubo shocks especially for every day use. With the state of Dublin roads these days, it was either going to be the shocks that would snap in a couple of months, or my back.

So, I went with the cheaper option - a pair of BGM Pro shocks instead. At first, the order was delayed because Scooter Center didn't have the rear shocks in matching black and red in stock. Wanting to make sure I got both shocks in the same colour, I waited a week or so before I realised that it didn't actually matter what colour the rear shock came in. It would eventually become a greasy black within a few days anyway. I went back online looking for a suitable replacement but there were all out, no matter what colour.

Still, I waited but, after another week that was made worse with the constantly pouring rain, I caved in and went for the other cheap option. I had known about YSS' X-Pro shocks  for a while but had never seriously considered them until today.  YSS seem to have a good reputation amongst the twist-and-go scooter crowd but within the classic scootering circle they do appear like a relative unknown. Well, at least as far as I can tell.

After a quick call to Scooter Center (yes, they have customer service guys that speak absolutely fluent English), my previous BGM order was cancelled and the YSS replacements were ordered. Having placed my order on Monday, the shocks reached me via UPS first thing on Thursday morning. Now, to get them on and see whether they're any good. To be honest, as long as I stop going boing boing with every encounter with the slightest crack in the road, I'll be happy.

13 May 2011

There's Something About Kenny

The Replacement Managers post that I had written hangs on the right-hand side of this blog like a badge of shame. How could I have easily brushed the King himself aside as a mere caretaker in favour of a handful of pretenders to the Red Throne?

As justification for my actions, I would say it was out of respect for the man. He had done all that he possibly could as a player, manager and more than any other person should have been asked to do following the tragic events after Hillsborough. Yet, there he was again to offer all that he could give during one of the club's darkest hour, to rescue us from the dark abyss of relegation. Surely, I initially thought, by the end of the season, he would've been exhausted by the whole rescue process and would be happy to re-commence his retirement.

Obviously not. Any buffoon would've been able to see the burning desire in the man's eyes every time Liverpool take to the field. No one can deny the joy that is evident when Liverpool score a goal, win a match or string together a couple of sweet passes.

No one man is bigger than Liverpool Football Club but if you ask me or many other supporters of the club, Kenny Dalglish certainly comes close.

Famous Five pic by: Eric the Fish

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11 May 2011

Liver Bird, in the Closet

I've been quite keen on writing about this matter for as long as I've followed Liverpool but for some reason, I've always found an excuse ("just not worth it" being a constant one) not to write about it. I've hinted at it in several posts but never actually addressed it directly. For a variety of reasons and because of how events have unfolded in the past few days, I feel that now is as good a time as any. So here goes...

Are a significant but vocal minority of self-proclaimed Man United fans secretly fans of Liverpool Football Club?

Seriously, why the obsession with Liverpool? And when I say obsession, I do mean obsession. I do understand that keeping an eye on the competition be it at home or in Europe is a totally valid excuse but it seems like every other Man United fan that I meet has an opinion on how Liverpool should play, who should be managing us, what our owners should be doing, where Damien Comolli should be looking for players and for some reason, I've also heard comments about the shade of red that's on the Liverpool jersey.

One would seldom hear supporters of other clubs (Liverpool included) being so opiniated about the goings on of another club that they presumably do not support.

Of course, as an avid supporter of Liverpool, it's some times nice to hear about how things can be dealt with differently in the club. A neutral's perspective once in a while is always a good thing. The problem with the set of people I am referring to here is, most if not all of the time, their views aren't actually their own views. They're actually the views of the media that they regurgitate onto the ears and eyes of Liverpool fans in an attempt to sound knowledgeable about football. Unfortunately for them, the media tend to go with the more sensational pieces of news and opinions that can vary between half-truths to outright lies so in the end, these people end up looking like muppets rather than footballing experts. Sad but unfortunately for them (and my ears and eyes) also very true.

But still, why go through all the hassle in the first place?

09 May 2011

Maxi Power on the Final Stretch

Having watched the reverse fixture earlier this year at Anfield, I'm sure I couldn't be blamed for expecting a similarly dire game of football tonight. Fulham are a much improved team from those dark winter days but spring has come all out around the Liverpool camp lately and I'm glad that my initial thoughts on the game were proven wrong. 

So, so wrong. 

Nothing says a game was entertaining better than a 7-goal scoreline. And, as biased as might be, I'm sure it was equally entertaining for the Fulham fans as well to see such a footballing masterclass which included Maxi's hat-trick, capped off by a stunner of a shot (with a carbon copy reply courtesy of Steve Sidwell at the other end for Fulham's second of the night).

So, the game came to an end at a glance at the league table looks quite positive (it's amazing how relative positivity is actually). Liverpool lie in fifth with Spurs a mere two points behind with a game in hand. Unfortunately for Spurs, the game in hand is against Roberto Mancini's Man City at Eastlands. Added to that, the North London club are missing Gareth Bale for the rest of the season. I'll leave dreams (some might even say delusions) of Champions League football aside for the moment and hope for a City win or at the very least a draw which would strengthen Liverpool's hold on its current position.

That would set it up just nicely, for Liverpool's home encounter with our European-spot rivals for the season. Now, that's a game I can safely look forward to.

07 May 2011

Mac or PC?

This is a Mac.

And this, is a PC.

Yes, here's some useful pub quiz information: Apparently, according to a follow-up Mac/PC survey conducted by collective intelligence site - Hunch, riders of scooters particularly the Vespa, are more prone to use a Mac rather than a PC. Well, I don't own a Mac, not yet anyway, but I do wish that my ancient PC was a bit quicker and looked a bit cooler.

So, which one are you? A Mac or a PC? Or should that be a Vespa or a Harley...?

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05 May 2011

Vespa PX: Saving People from Obesity Since 1978

Another week and another seemingly endless round of emails. The emails aren't work related (thankfully) but revolved around the location of our now weekly football match. Attendance for this week's match was on the wane but that was quickly fixed when the majority decided to push the match back by a day which suited most if not all involved a bit more.

Great but because of the late decision on numbers, the astro turf pitch that we normally played on was fully booked. We were screwed. 

Did this mean that there was going to be no football this week? It was certainly a break from tradition. It could not be allowed to happen. It would be too much of a health and safety risk. Without the hour's worth of weekly exercise, some of us would balloon into horribly obese beings of pure fat, confined to our bedrooms, needing the help of cranes and forklifts to stand a chance of ever leaving our respective houses. Our 15 minutes of fame would be to feature on one of More 4's documentaries on fat people getting sick.

What about the Park? It's free and we've got enough players now to play on a full-size pitch anyway...?

Like a ray of light through a dark sky, those words immediately saved us from visions of our obese destinies. A brilliant idea and that's why I went about my self-assigned mission - to scout for suitable pitches to play on within Phoenix Park.

Not a bad spot for a game of football, eh?

Having said that. I wouldn't have done it if I didn't have my Vespa. On two wheels, tasks such as these become all too easy. I can stop more often without annoying the traffic behind me. I can make u-turns without much hassle and track back if I'd taken a wrong turn but the best of all, I enjoy the best of both worlds - the power of an internal combustion engine and the convenience of a bicycle (or even walking) all rolled into one. In short and to paraphrase James T. Kirk, I could boldly go (and I was quite bold on several occasions) where no car had gone before...

Oh, and yes, the mission was accomplished. 

03 May 2011

José Against the World

Hopefully, it'll end with a big fat Nil to José and a resounding One to the rest of us Beautiful Game-loving football fans around the world.

Hyprocitical am I?

Well, possibly when you consider that Real Madrid's opponents in tomorrow night's Champions League clash, equally guilty of "unsportsmanlike behaviour".

But, are they really?

Maybe, it's an awfully immature way at looking at things but hey, they (i.e. the dudes in white) started it first. Yes, nobody told Mourinho to field at least three centre-halves in his starting XI (with one permanently marking Messi). Nobody forced him to leave Ronaldo alone upfront without any decent support which inevitably led to regular hissy fits around the Bernabéu pitch. And, nobody certainly didn't want the great Real to settle for Vinnie Jones-led Crazy Gang tactics.

Certainly not with the squad the self-proclaimed Special One has at his disposal.

For every Valdes that Barcelona could muster, Real have a Cassillas. For every Xavi there is a Xabi. For every Ramos there is a Puyol. For every Villa there is an Adebayor if not a Higuain and if those two don't work out, there's always a Benzema lurking somewhere on the bench.

So, what was Mourinho's excuse?

He wanted to win. At any cost. Unfortunately for him, Guardiola could match (and better) Mourinho's high stakes gamble. It wasn't a like-for-like, you tackle me, I tackle you harder game though. Barcelona were never going to be able to match Real's testosterone-fueled strong arm game so, they did the exact opposite - they played like girls. All over the pitch, Barcelona players went down quicker than a bohsia (or whatever it is their called these days) shown a 50 ringgit bill on Saturday night race haram event. If Real were intent on being the big, bad, playground bully, Barcelona were ever-obliging in playing the role of abused victim.

Who do I want to win tonight? I don't think I need to state the obvious again, do I?

Pic by: apasciuto

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01 May 2011

Rebuilding Fortress Anfield

It was probably two or three seasons ago since I've had such a positive feeling when it comes to Liverpool games. Back then, a draw was a major disappointment, playing against European giants were (relatively) easy and winning games were the norm.

So. while analysing today's 3-0 win against Newcastle, a couple of us Liverpool fans came to a conclusion. If we aren't there yet we're certainly close to it. Yes, home games certainly have that Fortress Anfield feeling to it and it's certainly a good feeling.

It's such a refreshing feeling when you're looking towards the top of the Premiership table rather than discussing the next few depreessing relegation battle fixtures with the sole Wolves fan at work. Thankfully, Liverpool are miles away from the position we occupied earlier in the season.

Three more games to go until the end of the season and it's looking quite well.

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