And So Its Christmas

Happy Christmas Everybody ūüôā (its technically the 24th when I’m writing this)

Its been an amazing fast year from Nottingham through Andalucia and Oxford and Devon ending the year at Pedro’s gaff in Barcelona for New Year.

I’ll get a year review up asap. Next year is falling into place. My academic breeze has opened doors, South America is as near as booked and then I’ll be back at university in September. Not sure yet but its looking more and more like Nottingham again with London a decent second.

Anyway if I met you this year or caught up with you, thank you or if unfortunately we haven’t seen each other this year, we’ll sort it for next year, that’s a promise.

Take care

Love

Dan

xx

Khan Fails Under Pressure

Two title fights and two losses for English fighters, Carl Froch and Amir Khan. The shock reverberated around SkySports but if you know the game, you’d have known these losses were understandable for differing reasons. So much so, I bet on both¬†winners.

Froch’s loss was the most predictable. While a tough and reasonably skilled fighter, he reached his level with Kessler, a fight he lost, just. But Andre Ward his opponent last weekend is a clear league above anyone in the division including Bute, the ‘other guy,’ not in the Super Six Super Middleweight Tournament. Bute has skills and will challenge Ward but Ward can do it all.

Tough, fit, skilful at range and happy to mix it. A winner at the 2004 Olympics, at 27 years he’s going to dominate the division for the next few years. He’s not an all-time great and probably won’t be. The division is too weak but he has the skills to be champion for a few years to come.

Khan’s loss was less predictable but always was eminently possible. Peterson is very good, tough and determined. He showed the kind of heart that befits his background of homelessness. Khan right now, after losing a decision is¬†showing the spoilt child side. He got drawn into his fight, displayed arrogance but lacked nous. Fighting in his opponent’s hometown was brave, some say stupid. The decision was close but Khan simply took too may shots to be a clear winner.

Khan is coming across worse and worse. He fought well but inappropriately and then spoke completely out of place. He should have saved that talk for after the ring. He’s acting like a spoilt child and no doubt he pulls out the racism card in this country. But soon enough the Americans will get tired of that attitude too. He wont be able to fall back on the same excusing making there. They’ll see through that.

His level was exposed. He’s just about the best in the division despite this defeat. I’m sure he will win the rematch but stepping up to challenge Floyd Mayweather, the best fighter of the century , maybe greater than Roy Jones Junior and therefore the greatest since Sugar Ray Leonard in the early 1980s is far beyond Khan and even his ego.

Clarkson and that other cu#t Cameron

Jeremy Clarkson may be a tool (and hate his manner and TV shows) but can I complain about the complaints for a second? I mean come on, sure he was merely being reflective of a horrible, twatish, nerdy Loaded magazine demographic, the kind of moron who laugh at shit jokes and make crass comments about a waitress when she leaves their table but ultimately I don’t think he was literally advocating shooting people. The guy is a moron, no better than the average tram racist, just better educated and more careful about his words.

However he has apologised, should be kicked off TV for a while and the complainers should get something else to do. Sadly it will likely help Clarkson. It further his ‘no style rebel image’ amongst his boring demographic who incidentally worship him for his directness but never had his advantages in life. Its coming up to Xmas too. I’m sure it’ll all help the book/DVD sales concerning being an obnoxious twat and driving another car down another road.

Of course the real issue here is that Clarkson is reflecting but hiding his class bias. Clarkson’s criticisms of the strikers and his snub-nosed response to the question ‘any of your friends involved in the strikes?’ indicate a lot. He has nothing to lose or question from the present system and therefore every one else must be a loser in this zero-sum game. Don’t kid me that neo-liberal capitalism has trickle-down for it clearly doesn’t. But even simpler than that, not questioning a system makes the man as banal as could be.

David Cameron answered some questions from celebrities (I know!) recently in The Guardian. The first question was from David Mitchell who asked ‘do you sometimes wish you weren’t as posh?’ This is a great question for it immediately forces Cameron to pretend he is not the son of a line of stockbrokers and connected to the Queen (5th cousin). His answer was an example of Dave’s every man personality. Dave (we’re all friends) talked of his humble origins and the sacrifices his parents made to get him to Eton, Oxford and a place in Conservative Central Office alongside his best mate George Osborne (interestingly born Gideon Oliver to the 17th Baronet).

I remember the word sacrifice having genuine resonance once rather than a trade-off between an iPhone 4S or waiting for the iPhone5. Maybe like jumping on a grenade to save your fellow soldiers. Or selling your car to fund your children’s university. Or working 2 jobs including in a cafe to fund your kids. That’s a sacrifice to me but like the bastardisation (or relativism) of all words in the name of free speech in this consumerist age, the consumer is right especially if you have the power to ignore the consequences.

The Differences between Suarez and Terry

I’ll keep this brief. Luis Suarez of LFC was banned for 8 games for repeatedly calling Patrice Evra a negro during a game. He admitted saying it but pleaded innocent essentially calling for cultural relativism. His argument is that in Uruguay and South America in general, calling someone black or a negro is not offensive but simply a term of description. Evra’s argument was its offensive and racist to refer to a person’s colour solely with the intent of categorizing and disparaging him. Otherwise known as racism.

It’s a subtle argument by Suarez but fails to dismiss the racist element. After all, the history of race relations in South America involves forced export and slavery in the fields. White South Americans, the racist kind, are well-known for still calling Brazilians ‘monkeys.’ That’s essentially what Suarez was doing. Referring to someone in a lower sense simply based on their race or colour. His argument was it was in jest or simple baiting a footballer during the game. Blatter would have called for a handshake but we wouldn’t accept that for in any other circumstance.

Terry has been charged with calling Anton Ferdinand ‘a black motherfucker.’ The difference here and Terry’s saving grace ironically is the word motherfucker. It’s similar to calling someone a fat bastard or black cunt (excuse my language). The personal insult is in fact the second term. The descriptive word is an embellisher. The insult for Terry is the word motherfucker, a word I know from Arabic is considered an ultimate insult even if its over-use means its lost much of its vehemence in Western culture. Terry is likely to be found guilty but given a fine or suspended sentence or be found innocent on a lack of convincing evidence.

That’s not to argue there aren’t significant similarities between the men. Terry is in no way a better man. His record as a philanderer, racist, self-righteous thug and general arsehole (see; pissing on the floor of a strip bar because he can) is on a par with Suarez, the man banned for seven games at Ajax for biting another player or red carded for cheating during the World Cup and diving constantly throughout games here in the EPL, bizarrely known as gamesmanship.

Zimbardo the psychiatrist would talk of the structure within which these players grow up and live to explain their behaviour. That’s undoubtedly true and so while it might be too late to mend their childhoods, the structure, rules and norms of football and modern society need to enforce ideas beyond pure freedom of speech, and value collective responsibility alongside rights to be a c#nt

Films Consumed

Films seen recently…

Tintin – it just sorta happens and then you move on. Slick and mildly uninteresting 3/5

Mission Impossible 4 – big budget, flashy and sometimes ridiculous, MI4’s gadgetry takes away from the modest story involving saving the world. It’ll never compete with the Bourne films but its entertaining. 4/5

The Treasure of Sierra Madre – Bogart in the Mexican desert searching for gold with his compatriots but the real story is about greed as Bogie becomes suspicious of everyone and everything in his quest to secure his wealth. Great, tough film. 5/5

Piranaha 3D – Ridiculous, cheap, silly, fun, gory. well worth it. 4/5

Hugo – Its endearing but strangely seems to take a long time to get nowhere in particular. You can’t help thinking if this was French-made it would be far funnier and cuter and with a more satisfying ending. French films always play out ‘in the now’ while US films tend to be about finding who you are by looking into the past for some reassurance. The French define themselves in this life. Americans in the past. Think Buddhism. 3/5

Tower Heist – I’m not sure this was meant to be funny. It succeeded. 1/5

Outrage – Takeshi Kitano shoots his way through the entire cast by the end but the beginnings of the film well-highlight the mundaneness of business even for the Yakuza. 3/5

Silent Running – a slightly odd 70s environmental film set in space with Bruce Dern killing off the crew in a bid to save his cultivated greenhouse. Some nice model work. 3/5

The Great Dictator – I’ll end on the best film I’ve seen for a while. Charlie Chaplin’s talkie satirising¬†fascism, totalitarianism and Hitler long before anyone else saw the dangers. Its very funny but also deeply clever and sad and at times beautifully rendered especially the scenes involving the globe and the final speech. 5/5

The Ghost Writer

I’m gonna tell you a story about a story that’s never existed, written by a man I know who writes stories. Or that how the story’s been told. This man, someone I met through others has a publishing deal to write a children’s story to hit the book shelves next year. Its taken well over a year to get to this point but the book is written. Its now just a matter of of printing, packaging and publishing. Or that’s how the story goes.

So what does all this mean? What am I saying? Why am I questioning my own words? Am I trying to mislead you?

Well this is where I have to step back, hold up my hands and say I don’t know. For I truly don’t know. This upcoming publication by a friend of a friend has been taken as read by us all for a long time. We were all proud and looking forward to introducing our friend the author.

Our friend the author has been house-hunting with his girlfriend with the ¬£60,000 advance. They’re both excited. Who wouldn’t be? have looked round numerous well-attired flats and houses, all with an extra room for guests and a nice flat-screen for the wall. We’re also awaiting the promised, lavish dinner when the publication is finally confirmed.

So why am I reading this you might ask?

The issue at hand is there is no book. There will be no dinner and¬†consequentially¬†there can be no house for a lack of advanced finance. Its only come to light recently and no one knows how to play it yet. I’m not tempted to say anything for he’s a friend’s friend. Its not my place.

My friend has simply dropped the book story, stopped asking questions to allow the story to be forgotten like drunken gossip. No one wants an open confrontation. The book has taken on a surreal life of it own. Its very absence, its non-existence has given it life. We’ve weaved it into our lives. We’re writing the idea of the book into our story.¬†We’ll remember it as we age over whiskey and mull over times past. We’ll sip and smile.

But I couldn’t possible write that story. It may not occur. We’ll have to see where the narrative takes us.

Martin O’Neill – the Nearly Man

I’m starting to believe he is the real nearly man of football management. His timing has always been slightly off. Fergie said something interesting today. ‘He’ll do a good job, if thats the job he’s going for.’ I think he meant O’Neill really should be on a grander level. Yet, of the big clubs, only Chelsea and Liverpool have been higher and firing. O’Neill has been linked to both these clubs (he was also ¬†interviewed for the Newcastle job but was bizarrely turned down by Freddie Shepherd).

O’Neill is 59, This could be his last big job. He’s started out well but Sunderland are a poor squad. Its really a shame he might never get a shot a a top job. With his track record, ¬†he really should have been at a big club by now.

Blood in the Mobile

I finally got around to watching this the other day and I’d say I was slightly disappointed by it. Apart raising the issue and highlighting it to the embarrassment of Nokia, Polson, the filmmaker really gets nowhere and seems to lack the charisma if not the determination to get answers.

I don’t doubt the risks he took, but the risks of the boy whoo took him down the mines and the reaction to him there from the fellow miners

Polson then at the end seems rather disingenuous with Nokia, asking the head of social responsibility that he made promises to the boys in Congo and what can he tell the now. Well if he did makes those promises, he certainly didn’t on camera. And what is Polson’s responsibility to these boys? They are treated terribly and lead desperate, fear-ridden lives but what happens to them next? These minerals are mined to demand. Cutting the supply means losing demand and hence jobs. What is better?

The section in Germany with the geologists came across as frankly silly and its inadequacy was immediately pointed pout by Global Witness. The part with the Congressman was under explored. The part with the UN spokesman really could have been built on. I was slightly suspicious of it. It seemed loaded.

Polson seems to have lived in a Danish wonderland, unknowing of the big, bad world out there. To a certain degree I think it was an act. People live terrible lives, exploitation is rife, corruption is not unusual but an everyday function of survival for all. You do what you have to do.

It’s the people at the bottom who lose out but the solution here might not be to expose the workers so openly and to essentially demand their dismissal. The whole structure is at work here. The consumerist nature of the West, the exploitative and short-termist multinationals, the tied development, the race to the bottom (in this case literally) economic system. Its the same structure that is creaking right now. We need to help push it over.

The Season Got Interesting

The Manchester clubs failing in the Champions League may prove a real fillet to the Premier League this season. With both clubs dropping to the Europa League, they will now be playing on a Thursday night alongside their weekend game. So while this means we’ll have United and City endlessly on Sunday/Monday nights and with Chelsea and Arsenal playing on Tuesday or Wednesday, the real winners are potentially Spurs and Liverpool and Spurs in particular.

Liverpool still look a fairly one-dimensional team despite their progress under Dalglish. Suarez is playing well but the rest of his signings are far from unqualified successes as yet. Downing is as good as I thought (poor man’s Adam Johnson) while Henderson is simply not that good. Beyond Reina, the defence is suspect too. That said, they have Gerrard to come back but losing Lucas might be a bigger blow. He marshals the midfield very well.

Spurs, my pet-hate team, are playing some stunning football. While I believe without Ledley King, they are suspect at the back, their midfield and attack is second only to Man City and not by much. Parker would fit into any team (even Spain imo) while Van Der Vaart and Modric provide the passes for the marauding Bale, Lennon and Adebayor, Bale is unplayable at times. Freidel was an excellent signing too. Harry’s team play with such pace and movement, few teams are organised enough to keep up. Forget the opening games of the season, the return fixtures will be far tougher.

Manchester City are still going to win the league so you can forget that. Manchester United are far from a team in transition. They are a team in decline. Their youngsters are far from good enough. You could say they haven’t been for 10 years. Seeing Macheda come off the bench to ‘save the day’ is a sign of the poverty in their ranks. The defence is ageing, the midfield has aged and De Gea may be young but that’s not the point. The season doesn’t wait.

Chelsea will also struggle but their team has some pace and their talent has only just begun its decline. Mata was an excellent signing. They lack the power and confidence of the past but that’s not coming back without Jose. Arsenal are still far from the team they were. They still have far too many players who simply aren’t good enough and the squad lacks depth but they have talent down the spine in Szczesny, Vermaelen, Ramsey and Van Persie and a little pace to get back into the top four. But it will be competitive in there.

Newcastle are now down in 7th, a reasonable position and one I would be happy with at the end of the season. The teams below are no better but without Taylor for the rest of the season, Ba and Tiote for the African Nations Cup, a lot rests on Krul maintaining his form (keeper of the season so far), Coloccini staying fit and Cabaye pulling the strings. The club should have cash to invest in January and a centre back, wingers and cover upfront are vital.

At the bottom, O’Neill will save Sunderland without worry. I predicted Wigan, Blackburn and Swansea would go down. I am sticking with Wigan and Swansea who have started well but will fade. How Steve Kean got the job remains a mystery and how he still has it is equally bewildering but I think either he or a January replacement might just keep them up by the skin of their teeth. I’m not sure why I’ve changed my mind there and it’s not a sure thing but it will be close with Bolton and Wolves.

Merry Xmas folks ūüôā

Dan’s Trip to the Dentist

<– the picture is an artist’s impression

I visited the dentist this week for the first time in a while. Having had no issues and been travelling, its just been fallen down my list of needs to do. So while visiting the folks, I thought I’d go to a white room, lie back, chat about my life for two minutes with a man in blue I’ll never meet again in the company of a silent but active partner and let him put his instruments in my mouth.

He was a nice man, very unassuming as you’d like. No one wants a dentist who seems cocky or confident. He checked out my pegs, counted them up, pushed in to look for wear and tear and then informed me I needed a filling. So did the nurse but that’s a Pedro story. I took this on board as he cleaned and polish my teeth like a brass lamp. They did look slightly better to go with the nails I’m finally allowing to grow.

I’ve never had a fear of the dentist. Marathon Man was before my generation and the Yakuza antics of Beat Kitano only had comedy value for me. But its not the drill or the scrappy thing we should worry about. Its that the suction pump held by the nurse to remove the water and saliva. The whirling, sucking noise is invasive. The nurse in blue togs, her face just out of clear sight is hidden behind plastic glasses. She could be anyone.

The dentist was clearly plugging Braun. I assume he gets money for this. Twice he told me I should get the Braun Super-Scrubber (or something jargon-based bollocks). I asked him if there was anything wrong with my teeth and he replied no, they are fine. But get the Braun Super-Scrubber anyway. I looked at him. He looked at me and we moved on.

The most curious part of this check-up was the X-ray. I’m not sure why he wanted to take one. Maybe he wanted them on his wall. But the curious or worrying aspect involved the actual taking of the X-ray. A spatula is put in my mouth, the mobile unit placed next to my jaw and the nurse and dentist flee to the far side of the room to press a switch. The process was then repeated on the other side of my jaw. Considering I didn’t ask for this X-ray or put another way, to be exposed to radiation and have an increased risk of cancer.

Thanks Doc. I’m not sure I’ll be back but you improved a rainy day.