Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Wales do not fear Argentina's scrum, claims Warren Gatland

In other news

"I do not understand the scrum", says Warren Gatland

Australia are stronger indeed - and this man coached the Lions forwards this year. It makes me weep, it truly does.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Susan Boyle

I'd be more impressed with her 100,000 sales if Guns hadn't sold 15m copies of Use Your Illusion.

And you know, if I weren't so bitter and cynical

Monday, 16 November 2009

Colts vs Pats

I haven't watched more than the first half of the first quarter, but there have already been two catches which caused my breath to just stop - the Garcon snatch in front of Bodden was just superb in terms of reaction time, and although I haven't seen it ruled in yet, the Reggie Wayne catch was something else

Friday, 13 November 2009

Brunch Break


1 - All day breakfast contains pork products
2 - All day breakfast contains vegetable portions
3 - All day breakfast comes with tea and toast (two things that could undermine my "all boys need for happiness is things that start with the letter B" theory)
4 - Brunch means you had a lie in (even if it was only five minutes more)
5 - Two meals a day seems better for you than one meal
6 - The morning is broken up nicely


I've been back from lunch for over an hour now... How is it still only one o clock?

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Quick, it's a controversy

Ok, so I can't bring myself to give a rat's ass about the Sun's latest lunacy. "The one eyed prime minister misspelt my dead son's name".

Go bollocks.

The prime minister takes time out of his schedule doing nothing important besides, you know, running a political party and a country, to write hand written letters. I'm not sure who started this hand writing letters thing, but I suspect it was someone with no massive recession and a casualty toll that wasn't mounting. Don't get me wrong, I respect the sacrifice the soldiers make, but they also know what they're getting themselves into. It's a volunteer army, not a drafted corps anymore. We should respect the courage, but we shouldn't be totally surprised when, in a war, some of those brave men and women die.

The worst thing about this is, if I were an incoming politician, I'd have serious qualms about continuing with the practice of privately recognising the sacrifice. Especially when it turns you into a political punchline and punchbag in short order.

So yeah, well done Mrs James, or Janes, or whatever. You've disrespected the highest office in the land, undermined parliamentary political process, potentially removed the possibility for politicians to sincerely and privately recognise the bravery of soldiers without any ludicrous flag waving or patriotic nonsense.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Johnnie Mitchell

Seriously, if it were just mangling the English language, that'd be one thing, but not to know the name of former Eagles and new Broncos safety BRIAN Dawkins, and not to be able to remember it from the announcer JUST SAYING IT, well, that's an issue

"The Running backs..."

"is not stepping up to the plate"


Are, I think you meant. Just putting it out there. Crazy talk, I know.

Dallas are getting good production in the Falcons game though, I can't quite work out what is wrong with the Cowboys. Obviously, Roy Williams is a pup at this point - they had Austin and Crayton, who can do a job and weren't highly drafted, and had Amendola in camp a couple of years ago who is looking ok with the Rams and could certainly play slot. Imagine having another first round draft pick, maybe a big body... Michael Oher was still available in the slot traded, given that Pettigrew wouldn't have been the choice as there are two tight ends already at Dallas who are doing really well anyhow.

I'll work it out

Fourth Kind

So there's a movie based on real/genuine "case studies" of alien abductions. Or, as I prefer to put it "the ravings of the deranged". Admittedly, I'm quite into words beginning with D to describe lunacy, from deranged to demented, but in this case, I'm comfortable.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Jack Straw

I thought he did well, except on the question about the failures in the migration system. I think I would have said "when we inherited the system, failed asylum seekers were being returned at a rate of X, now it's a rate of Y" (and this has definitely gone up, there are PAC reports and stats for that) "despite two wars".

Then "we should have done more to raise social housing stocks, and we will, and it is unfortunate that we are in a global recession and that there have been political scandals". take some on the chin, smash the tories a bit.

I'm outtie

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Further BNP funnies

"BNP spokesman Simon Darby, said today that at first glance the list includes some people who are no longer members and some who have moved abroad" (h/t)

They're not proper BNP members if they'll move abroad are they? In direct contravention of the party's stated goals?

BNP membership in Charnwood

What I don't understand is, why is the membership of the BNP so high in Charnwood? Are the lower middle class people of rural Leicestershire so threatened by and fearful of the majority residents of the county town? I cannot understand it. The Asian community is one of the reasons why Leicester is so brilliant.

Of course, this isn't reflected in the set up of the Leicester Tigers playing staff (I miss Aadel Kardooni, and according to Wikipedia he was Iranian, so not exactly representative of the Asian populous in Leicester). But I digress.

And North West Leicestershire can go bollocks too.

The funny thing is, as a long time resident of the county, these are the areas which middle class Asians are now moving to. 2nd and 3rd generation immigrants, who run their own businesses or are professionals, often mildly conservative socially, would seem to me to be an ideal fit with mid sized rural communities. But of course, they are brown, and therefore for some reason which has always eluded me, not welcome.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Saints vs Giants

The Saints did a nice job of showing pressure from one side, and then bringing pressure from the other side after the protection was adjusted. When Manning jr has been under pressure he has a tendency to shy away from the rush, dipping his shoulder a bit, and it's led to a couple of floaty looking passes including the interception which was called back. He doesn't stand tall in the face of the rush like Peyton does. Sometimes that works, as he's clearly got arm strength by the boatload, but other times it kind of lets him down.

On offense the Saints looked stunning out of play action, and have had no problem cutting the zone apart. Drew Brees looked top notch, in sharp contrast to how poor Reggie Bush looks. The commentators have suggested moving him into the slot, where they say he has got skills which some wideouts struggle with. However, in the Saints squad he'd have to come past Meacham, Colston, Henderson and Moore. That's an imposing two deep, imho, and it might be the best first four receivers in the league (I like the potential of the Colts, I like the variety in the Giants team, but the Saints have got production to point at over the last few years).

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Go Colts Go! 3

The insertion of Vince Young signals the end of the game. The fans are screaming for him but I'm not sure why. I think it's part of the typical bizarre manner in which wins are assigned to the QB, and losses equally so, as if one player can so transcend the environment in which they're in that they can elevate a team. If there is anything to be learnt from the career of Steve Young, I think that it's the fact that excellent players can be trapped in terrible situations, and as a consequence, suck.

In addition, if you are a sucky player, and happen to win, then that does not somehow make you a better player. Vince Young is such a player.

There have been dozens of articles written about the difficulties of transitioning from a college spread system into the pros. I am not convinced it is the system, however, I'm pretty sure it's the player. I know that Alex Smith seems to undermine the point I'm about to make, but I keep contending he's a Paragraph 1 player, and am prepared to be wrong.

My contention is that a smart player with the necessary physical attributes can be an NFL quarterback, but that a stupid player is going to have a larger difficulty in making the step. Vince Young needs reminding to breath in and out, so whilst he might have been able to master a one read system in Texas (run away from the end... is that one guy open, if not, scamper), he probably won't be able to master the complexity and nuance of the NFL. Hell, Trent Edwards looks occasionally competent, and he barely has the arm strength to play Division 1 ball. Chad Pennington is an excellent QB, who has legitimately gone to the Pro Bowl, extraordinarily bright, but has trouble winging it into anything more than a slight breeze. So smart beats physical.

Go Colts Go! 2

The Colts defensive line, despite the size increase, look for the most part like big H backs. When Dawson took the fumble recovery, he was a genuine looking chance to score - you wouldn't have been surprised if he'd beat a guy. The thing is, I love Haloti Ngata and a load of the big lumps, and I would love to see a massive body on the Colts line eating up blocks, but the more svelte guys are certainly doing a job for the Colts this year.

Go Colts Go!

Catching up on the Sunday night game, my early early thoughts are:

The 5 coverage is so superior to the Sky coverage it isn't even funny. I found myself actually watching the analysis, which never ever happens when Sky is on - it's a mute or when Sky+'d a fast forward.

Pat McAfee doesn't just erase computer viruses, he punts like a siege cannon.

Prior the the game my major concern was the off tackle draw by Johnson - most teams do not have the speed at feature back to really gash the Colts, although the draw play remains the most effective way of attacking the upfield speed rush. The Titans on the other hand really worry me.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Musings on fantasy

I've just blasted through the Raymond E Feist Serpentwar Saga for about the twentieth time. I have a soft spot for the books, they are somewhat dear to me for no rational reason. However, I've noticed something in my last couple of re reads which makes me sad...

The mythical element is so much weaker than the action roles, it is absurd. There's nothing well done about it, and it's so clumsy. Compare it to a pretty similar mythical element (God gone, how does it impact on the world, how do you cope) in the Godless World saga.

The problem is, it is an interesting conceit, which Feist bleeds to death. This is the reason I haven't got his later books yet - because I know it's going to happen again.

As it is, I skipped all the bits with Pug in, because it's dull. I won't be reading the end of the final book, I've read it before, it doesn't do anything for me.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Friday Night Lights TV

So I've dipped into FNL, which has a pretty high rep, but there's a couple of criticisms I would have. First off, the tackle that paralyses Street... reasonable tackle -no way there's a paralysis off of that. He hits with his chest in a cross body. lands on his front and rolls. No way. The guy would have to be made of glass, or the guy he tackled made of trains for that to happen.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Sinners! Sinners!

I'm crossing Florida off my places to live list:

Visiting for sex looks ok though..?

Sunday, 27 September 2009


I don't usually click through weblinks, but here's one I'm glad I did.

Rock Paper Cynic

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Texas vs Tech

Sayeth the commentators:

"There's not a sound football guy in the world [who would have kicked the onside kick when Leach elected to]"

Sayeth Joel:

Leach doesn't think like other college football coaches. That is, in part, why he is so effective (I'm attributing the rest to his emphasis on the fundamentals *of his scheme*). Therefore the rationale for the onside kick - an unexpected onside kick is much more likely to be effective than an expected onside kick. By taking the chance he looked to put his O back on the field and continue to make the Longhorns suffer from his attritional style, whilst at the same time relying on his D who had played excellently in the first half.

A sound football guy should know that the unexpected is effective - see PLAY ACTION PASS and DRAW for more details. Of course, it isn't always (Seahawks 3rd down draw scheme) but that isn't to say that we should criticise coaches for taking shots and risks.

Rant over.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009


I love me a football name conversation. There are some great names out there in football land, whether you're a Craphonso Thorpe, a D'Brickashaw Montgomery Ladarius Fantana 'The Pain Train' Ferguson, a Nu'Keese Richardson or a Barkevious Mingo, you're an exciting guy, and destined for football greatness (or a name change and a career in landscape maintenance).

It's not just in football where you find names where there seems to be a weight of expectation - you have to hope when you name your kid Bismark or Tank that they'll not end up 90 pound weaklings.

And what about when the name given to a child is gender neutral. England stalwart Dorian West was a tough man, but would he have been so tough if his name was Dave?

All this leads to my point - Marion Barber the Third. The Third! His father played in the NFL. His Granddad, one assumes, was a tough guy too. There's some expectation.

Shame he's out for the week when I have to play Bjorn in the fantasy league... oh, and I have Felix Jones.


I noticed that the Bucs receivers retreat a couple of yards to turn before they head upfield on their comeback and curl routes.

I don't know if this is coaching, schematic, or a result of Fat Albert's throwing, but it cost them first downs and field position, and needs addressing.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Fred Jackson

Jackson may not be a starting quality/Pro Bowl back, but good god does that guy give great second effort. What a punishing runner! Each NFL team would love to have a second choice back to come in and start when the primary back is out who gives such good versatility and strength.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Here's a stat

Thanks to TMQ (love him or hate him, he can be pretty amusing, and comes up with some interesting stuff) for smashing this factoid into my brain:

Seven of Jason Campbell's last 532 passes have been intercepted. Nine of Jake Delhomme's last 51 passes have been intercepted.

Now, to be fair, I'm not much of a one for out of context statistics. Don't like 'em. Never have.

However, there is a point where statistics stop really requiring context.

For example, when Ben R was winning games and throwing passes in his rookie season, the announcers wanted to conflate his performance with his college performance. That, my friends, is bollocks.

However, JC and Jake the Snake are both playing in the NFL. Granted, they are not necessarily playing teams of equivalent skill (Detroit are still in the NFL, and no one can argue that they're anywhere near as imposing a pass defence as one anchored by the Giants pass rush, for example).

So let's look at the stat again, right:

Seven of Jason Campbell's last 532 passes have been intercepted. Nine of Jake Delhomme's last 51 passes have been intercepted.

Let's have a think. The Redskins are a bit volatile, and although their backs are quality, they are inconsistently used. The Panthers on the other hand have a romp em stomp em duo pulling (theoretically) safeties into the box in run support.

A quick comparison - in David Garrard's unlikely ascent to starterdom season (2007) he threw 3 picks in 325 attempts. This has returned to normal a bit, but represents an excellent return.

So - Campbell... 532 passes attempted (that's 26 from this year and 506 from last year). 7 picks (1 this year). Ok, so this year's total stats aren't lush, but let's have a think - if you're gunning the ball down the field over 500 times then your team is struggling. And your receiver corps contains Santana Moss. Who isn't huge, let's face it. And Randle El. Again, not so tall. Admitted, Steve Smith is comparable to one of these guys in size, but no both. I'm saying Campbell ain't throwing the jump ball to quality receivers, and he's throwing it in situations where his opponents are probably expecting it. As opposed to Delhomme, whose backs are big, brutal and home run threats.

Of course, we know which QB has terminal job insecurity, and which got an extension in the offseason...

(full disclosure, last year Delhomme threw 12 picks in 414 attempts, 2.8% to Campbell's 1.2%)
(and I know picks aren't the only way to measure QBs, but in a game of possession, they are kind of important)

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Dear Sky Sports

Please, for the sake of my sanity, change the announcing/presenting team for the NFL coverage immediately.

Every season we suffer, without respite, the idiocy and inanity of the sock puppet that is Nick Halling, the uninformed "analysis" and apparently drug induced diction of Kevin Cadle, and the even worse guest presenters. I appreciate that the NFL is a minority sport in your eyes, but in the name of all that is holy, is it too much to ask that you target competency at a bare minimum.

"The score ... in our ball game... is 10 nothing". We know Kevin, we can read. In fact, by the time you finish reading the score to us, we could probably have perused War and Peace as well. We only listen to see if you'll remember which of the 32 teams are actually playing in the telecast. "The score... in our ball game... is 10 ... nothing". We know this still Kevin, because we have what is referred to as an attention span.

Stop laughing that fake laugh Halling. I'm coming to you in a second.

First though, a word on the organisation of the announcing/presenting panel. In my humble opinion the show requires:

1 - a presenter.
2 - an analyst
3 - a colour guy

These roles should be distinct. This means that, although Sky have tried to adhere to this formula, you should try harder. My main complaints are as follows:

1 - the presenter should offer no analysis. Leading questions are acceptable, but the function of the presenter is to stitch the telecast together, to make the often patchy flow of the American programming and game seem more seamless. We accept that the presenter may not be an expert, in fact, we expect it, we've watched the rugby and soccer coverage on Sky. However, once this acceptance is given, we should not be subjected to uninformed opinion and waffling. We're managing that on our own at home.

2 - the analyst position for a British audience is a difficult role. The educated/experienced audience wants the analyst to use the extra time afforded him by the lesser commercial playing time in the UK television market to highlight hidden actions or plays and add to our appreciation of the tactics or physicality of the game. We also understand that the analyst needs to be explaining concisely more basic concepts to bring new audience members into the sport. Nick Halling is simply incapable of doing either. A case in point was in the Redskins vs Giants game this evening. Instead of showing why a Redskins drive starting on their 2 had faltered, leaving the Redskins in a giant tactical hole, Halling showed a scuffle which had already been rerun by the Fox announcers and was guaranteed to be shown again. This would have been an ideal opportunity to discuss play calling selection, blocking, the 4 downs concept, or any number of issues. Instead, I got to use my Sky+ functionality.

3 - the colour guy. Ideally this person would either be triggering discussion with the analyst, highlighting player matchups where victory or defeat could be reached, discussing their experience. Instead, last season we had Shaun Gayle, who seemed amiable but confused. Having learnt from your mistake, you have selected former journeyman Johnnie Mitchell to fill the seat, a man whose grasp of the English language could be fairly described as cursory. I understand that Jeff Reinebold has returned to the coaching ranks, but there must be other former NFL Europe coaches, or indeed coaches working in the British ranks who are lucid, presentable and informed.

Finally, we love fantasy football. It helps you to track the accomplishments of players across the league (in fact, that's what it was designed for!). We don't need to hear about it every thirty seconds.

Five used to present a significantly better coverage of the NFL much later in the night with only two presenters. Colin Murray may be available to present, Mike Carlson may have space in his schedule to replace Halling, and a sock puppet voiced by an American could ably replace Mr Mitchell.

So, to repeat my plea - get rid of the presenters. They're killing me.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Are you ready for some FOOTBALL!

So the pro season kicked off last night.

If you don't want to know the result, well, tough.

Pittsburgh took the game in OT, leaving Tennessee ruing two missed field goals in the first half (one was blocked, but we'll count both as missed against the kicker - the first was a terrible snap, but it isn't sure how much this contributed to the push across the face).

The main things of note were - Tennessee moved to a rush four cover 2 scheme in the second half, which the bobbleheads were correct in noting allowed Ben R to hold the ball and pick open receivers. There's nothing inherently wrong with going rush 4 cloud, but the vanilla "run straight forward" bull rush did absolutely nothing against the (let's face it) not very good Steelers line. Pump fakes pulled safeties left and right, and a couple of gaping holes in zones allowed Holmes and Ward to rack up killer amounts of yardage.

Mewelde Moore was the best back for the Steelers, mainly because he's a useful pass blocker with an uncanny knack of slipping open under or over the linebackers in zone coverage to keep the chains moving. Mendenhall had 4 carries for 6 yards, and I don't remember his name being called even that often. His abortion of a run where he missed the handoff mesh point and smashed into his QB on his first carry was his most memorable move. The abominable failure to move the chains on 3rd and short will kill this team unless it is fixed, or unless there is some kind of radical scheme/plan change, where draw plays are brought in to exploit the quality passing game. In fact, the play action to draw action (fake hand off, fake pass, draw play) you see from the Colts would be pretty useful, as Ben R holds the ball for so damn long anyway.

Kenny Britt looked pretty solid for a rookie wide out, which is positive news for the Titans.

Oh... and the Madden curse killed Troy. Some games I think the announcers focus on him because of his unique appearance, but last night he definitely deserved the hype, seemingly being involved in every play for the first half dozen drives. His highlight reel moment was a one handed catch reminiscent of the Braylon Edwards take at Michigan or the freak "catch of the year" at a 1AA school last year - up, stretch, grab the end of the ball, tuck it in, get up, get moving. Astonishing. For me, his closing speed and grit were more impressive, but I'm a fat guy, so there. Unfortunately Alge Crumpler is also a fat guy, and having him fall on your knee whilst you're trying to recover a blocked kick, and then another buffet muncher dropping on your body, well, that looked like it hurt. Strained MCL, and Pittsburgh struggled much more with Johnson's speed in the the 3rd and 4th quarters in Troy's absence.


Here's something chirpy and emo

I love it

It's Fei Comodo - Behind Bars

Moustaches for the Solid Verbal

Here's the moustaches

Andy Goode, Geordan Murphy
George Chuter, Harry Ellis

Are the players

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Whatever happened to...


So Papa Roach had a Pop Nu Metal album, released a second record with a pop nu metal single and a load of pap on it...

Here's the new single.

I like the refrain, but isn't the verse structure and sound a little NIN derivative? And I'm sure I saw an emo single by them. Are they sharing the Good Charlotte career arc: put out successful record in popular genre, then pursue continuing record sales by biting other artists writing styles?

Song of the week

Clutch = 50000 Unstoppable Watts

How much fun is this scuzzy rock and roll joint? Lots, I tell thee, lots.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Weekend fixtures

As I gobble through the weekend fixtures here are some more observations:

1 - I love it that some programmes are scheduling proper inter divisional match ups. Ok, so Oregon wasn't a scorcher against Boise, and SC vs NC State wasn't a giggle fest either, but these (and the Va Tech vs Tide game) give me much more respect for the programmes involved, particularly on opening weekend. And no, it didn't work out for Georgia. But if it had, and they ran the table in the SEC, there could have been no disputing their national title credentials. I haven't finished watching the Tide game yet.

2 - The first Alabama TD was great. Lovely to see the RB just hammering somebody to go over the line.

3 - Tyrod Taylor looks overrated. However the 1 read offense being run in the passing game by 'bama isn't super impressive either.

Sports coverage

I get kind of annoyed when camera men and directors clown up sporting events. However, two things this week have highlighted that it can be a bit tricky as a job.

1 - Andy "I like pies" Goode sliced a kick in a Top 14 game. The ball came off the studs of his boot, it was that far round the side of his foot. He was in his 22, so the camera guy panned to the halfway line. No ball. Then he shook about a bit, before realising that the fat guy had smashed it into the opposing 22 even with the slice.

2 - Oklahoma State v Georgia, the back takes an inside dive/off tackle hand off, gets hit by a linebacker at about the line of scrimmage, then slides off. The camera guy is so unimpressed by the tackle he assumes the backer was shedding the guy and starts to desperately scoop back to the QB, figuring it was just a really lush play action. Then the back puts the ball in the other hand and scoots off up field.

However, this doesn't excuse the gratuitous crowd shots during the on field action which I am cursed with. And if you have to shoot the crowd, at least pick filthy hotties with their chests out. Not fat guys with funny hats. Uninterested.

Monday, 7 September 2009


How does a Colonel seize power in a military coup? What happened to all the Generals?

Friday, 4 September 2009

Football season!

I'm lucky enough to have ESPN America. The first game I'm watching this year is Oregon and Boise State on the smurf turf, and I'm super excited.

I guess this is a kind of live blog thing. But I have no readers.

I could be more excited during the game, to be fair. Boise have decided fumbling is an effective offensive play, and Oregon aren't exactly getting a decent return out of their enormous combination of QB and RB (Masoli is a giant of a man, and Blount is a freak beast senior, who will go high in the draft this year if he can put together some decent productivity and stay healthy). First quarter and some punts isn't what I was after.

In fact, so far the most impressive play has been a fourth down conversion from Boise when they went super heavy on the line and ploughed up for the yard they needed and then some. I say this was the best play because it was designed for success, coming off a quick count, rather than the odd completion which seems to be a bit flukey.

I'm quite liking the lefty quarterback for Boise. It's odd watching pass plays develop back to front. You'd think with that kind of advantage Leinart would be handy for the Buzzsaw, but there you go.

The coverage of this game is absolute garbage - let's have some crows shots and then "how about this formation... maybe the Ducks didn't have this on their reel of trick plays". No shit, jerk off, probably because you've elected not to show the actual formation. "It's as funky a formation as you are going to see"- then show it you fuckwits.

Five minutes later we finally get it.

The Ducks are in some serious trouble here. A safety gets scored when the defense just flat out inhales the spread read. I actually agree with the commentator a little here - the East/West running style of the spread option read offense does make you vulnerable in the tight areas.

Second half - a change of starting/featured backs seems to have made Boise even more menacing. Avery didn't seem to be hitting the hole as quickly as the new back (Harper) in the first half, and he promptly breaks off a long run, showing good patience to wait for the blocks on the right hand side to come back downhill.

Oregon come back out on offense, show a lovely zone read play, but only get a yard or two. The edge defender wasn't interested in the (to me very convincing) play fake and gobbles up the QB. The subsequent play goes for a loss. I'm wondering where the inside zone play is. A little underneath screen sees Blount take a horrific shot in the back. Boise are happy to cough up a yard for that kind of impact.

For all the talk about the TZR/Taser position, this is not a new innovation Oregon. You're using itty bitty backs as waterbug receivers to run jet sweeps and bubble screens. For more details of how this works, see Percy Harvin last year, and basically every other team who use the zone read.

Oregon get on the board with the inside zone. I'd take credit and kudos, except two plays back Blount bashed into the line for a yard on the other half of the inside zone, so I shan't.

Now they're showing Masoli bulldozing a safety from last year. I'm more impressed that the O Lineman is in the mix with the three other DBs, chasing like a man half his size.

Boise get a gorgeous downfield pass off. The left tackle cut down the pass rush like he was chopping with an axe and the pass came out over the middle like an absolute rocket.

Boise put the game to bed after having a decent try at giving it away with fumbles - Oregon could have won this with a bit of composure, but their O just didn't get started.

And the game ends in scandal. Excellent news. That's just what we want

Bored of writing now

Thursday, 3 September 2009

OC woes

Here's a thing.

To: Chiefs/Bucs
From: All football fans

If you are firing your OC following the third preseason game, you are going to suck the balls in the ACTUAL season.

Oh my god, are you going to suck.


Who knows who is giving this guy advice, but if he doesn't sign before November 12th then he is going to miss out on the whole 2009 season. Also, he hasn't played any preseason, and he hasn't gotten any practice reps, so the season is basically a wash at this point anyway. Oh dear oh dear oh dear.

I'm waiting for Danny Pass to draft him in our NFL fantasy draft on Saturday, as a handcuff for Vernon Davis.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Crush of the day

Firstly, a complaint. Why are there female celebrities in existence without topless or intimate photos on the internet. What is the point of that?

Lucy Porter is the crush of the day. Hot Hot Hot.

Game of Thrones

Normally, I shy away from casting news as pretty uninteresting. Even casting news for GRRM's Game of Thrones, being serialised (probably) on HBO isn't super exciting for me. I question what exactly Alfie Allen is bringing to the table, and how he has managed to swing as role in something so epic and exciting as his first acting role (clue, starts with nep, rhymes with... oh wait, nepotism doesn't rhyme with anything).

Here's some excitement though. I fucking love Lena Headey, and the lesbian sex scenes later in the series are going to be horny as hell with her in it. Awesome.

Monday, 31 August 2009

All sorts of updates


Nights of Villjamur - Mark Charan Newton

I was super intrigued by this book. Newton is the same age as me, from Nottingham, pitching out a fantasy debut. He's the me I want to be. Of course, the me I want to be would have finished this book a little better. There's too much telling rather than showing, some character developments which don't really hang true, and the edit is a touch weak. On the plus side the world building has plenty of interesting pieces in it, and there's aliens and non humans a plenty to add to the mix. I'll be getting the next book, because I think there's promise here, but this isn't a debut that stands up against First Law, Name of the Wind or a lot of last year's big splashes. This is a wait for paperback book.

Divided Kingdom - Rupert Thomson

This book is dreadful. Dreadful. The initial premise doesn't hang together at all, doesn't hold up under any scrutiny, doesn't, in fact, make any sense. The main character goes on a journey of personal discovery without making an personal discoveries. This book is, I will be honest, worse than the GI Joe Movie, worse than being waterboarded, worse than that bug which lives inthe Amazon and swims up your piss.


Bye bye Matt Cassell. We hardly knew you. Hello Tyler Thigpen? I heard you were moving to Jacksonville, but that may be off now. Of course, Matt Guttierez may be making an appearance for KC, which is super exciting. It's battle of Tom Brady's backups, redux!

More later

Wednesday, 12 August 2009


Here's a link (hat tip sportsline):

This kid has the most intensity of any person I've ever seen.


Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Song of the day

Here's a new wiley track. I love me a bit of wiley, and his ridiculous eskibeat stylings.

Boy Better Know

I don't think it will be, but wouldn't it be amusing if this became a lesbian bar anthem? For the mean time, I can imagine dancing to this bad boy. Of course, given that despite his talent and prominence, Wiley doesn't seem to sell many records. Go figure.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Solid Verbal College Fantasy Draft

So I'm in the solid verbal podcast fantasy league.

Last night's draft has left me a bit heavy in the players from UCLA category, a bit light in receivers, and having earnt the emnity of Ty, one of the hosts, who said "Fuck whoever drafted Jimmy Clausen" and "I needed this".

I had warned that I would piss on chips, but perhaps they didn't realise I meant it.

I'm going to need to do some in year wrangling of the roster I think - more to follow

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Bits and Bobs

Football news:

"OT SirVincent Rogers, a rookie from Houston, got tired of struggling during camp so he quit before Thursday morning's practice."

Interesting Dolphins news. Firstly... SirVincent may be the best name ever. Secondly, although from the armchair being a football player may seem like the most awesome job ever, I guess being beaten up by men significantly bigger and stronger than you every day for work could get old pretty quick. And if you don't love the football (and you played because of other reasons, for example, education, prestige, girls) then I totally get it.

Blog news:

Snacks and Shit

This website is very amusing. Deconstructed rap lyrics for all.

Film reviews:

I just watched GI Joe and oh my god was this the worst film of all time. If not the worst, then very close... absolutely terrible. I'm not sure exactly where to start, other than to say that the script and science were actually worse than advertised. The effects were good, where you could ignore the stupidity of the science and pretend that some of them weren't totally ripped off Transformers. There's a great segue from the aerial battle to the submarine stuff, totally smooth. And the submarine battle effects and sequence could be used to great effect in a space battle, with the colours rescrubbed and someone somewhat serious actually, you know, picking holes in the stupidity.

The script was horrific. There were screaming cliches, crap repartee, one liners a six year old could have bettered.

There was also some significant homoeroticism. And the hot women characters had thongs built into the costumes. So you could tug one out at home, but only if you could squeeze it in before the boy love started again.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Draft bust alert

People criticise Alex Smith. They scoff when I claim that he'll look incredible playing for the Colts in a couple of years, where he'll be the new Steve Young (what I'm saying is the 49ers are the new creamsicle Buccaneers).

He isn't anywhere near to being as big a bust as this guy though!

Rap feud!

I'm not normally a Tim Westwood fan, but last night on the way back from training he played the latest shots in a rap feud between Eminem and... wait... Mariah Carey?

Her original diss track is: here

I think it's a pretty dangerous game to pick a public fight with a rapper who cut his teeth in battle competitions, and whose first album contained some vigorous personal attacks. Oh, and who has been feuding on and off ever since... but who am I to judge.

The Eminem response is here.

I have never heard anything as vicious as this. I don't think that this will elevate to gun play like the rap feuds of old, but I guess I prefer the awful truth of the verbal jabs.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Blind Side

The trailer for the movie of Michael Lewis's book The Blind Side is out on youtube.

If you haven't read the book, go out and get it straight away. The writing has Lewis's typical style - he makes the relatively complex relatable. Go and get all his stuff, actually - Liars poker is fantastic and Moneyball is a great baseball expose which is accessible for non baseball fans.

Of course, part of the reason Blind Side is amazing is that there is the redemption of Michael Oher, form tragic hard knocks case to millionaire, and Lewis's investigation as to how exactly economics and personality have combined to create a perfect storm of circumstance.

I'm excited. Sandra Bullock.

Oh, and the film is going to be a weepy. Ideal for taking a girl to!

Friday, 31 July 2009

Song of the day

Here's a link to a free download of a cool catchy little UK rap number:

Dead End

I don't like cricket...

Ok, I do like it.

I don't know a lot about it though, but I was pretty sure that the book on James Anderson was that he bowled a consistent line and length when fit, but that it wasn't a wicket taking line/length combination. 5 wickets in this innings so far seems to suggest that either:

The book is lying
He has changed something
The wicket is ideal

As I say, I don't know enough to pull an actual conclusion out.


I'm having a geekgasm right now. I never really got into Atlantis, and some of SG-1 left me a bit cold, but I loved the original Stargate movie, and I love John Scalzi, and I love me some Hamish Macbeth. Ergo the new stargate universe trailer looks pretty smashing to me:


There's more at whatever ( for excitement sake.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Song of the week

Here's a peculiar but fun video, which tickled me.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Supplemental Draft

Yesterday was the supplemental draft. In some ways, the supplemental draft is significantly inferior to the general draft. There is no circus, no hype, no Clay Travis prepping alongside the players. That said, there's something (in some ways) much purer about the supplemental draft. And it has some elements of ludicrous.

Just to recap how it works. Players who have not got eligibility left at the NCAA level, for various reasons, and who have missed the regular draft, declare themselves for the draft. Then the NFL teams email the league in a blind auction style, telling the league what round they would be interested in selecting any players in. The draft order is determined by number of wins in the previous season. The team with the highest bid wins. They lose the draft slot from the following year.

The reason that in some ways this process is a larger lottery than the draft (which is really saying something) is that the players have exhausted their eligibility for very good reasons: they are either not the sharpest knives in the block, have legal issues or are broken beyond regular repair. Here's the list of recent draftees.

Manny Wright - a genuine athletic stud, when healthy and not busting people up, the DT out of football factory USC was taken by the Dolphins, then reduced to tears by Nick "Satan" Saban. Struggling with his weight and mental health (not being helped by being belittled on national television, I guess) he made a swift impact for the 'Fins before bouncing out of the league, back to the Bills, the Giants for a superbowl ring but few tackles, and now into af2. His promise has been exhausted.

Ahmad Brooks - again, a stud with problems. Coming out of Virginia, this guy had potential to make an impact on a 3-4 defense, and went to the Bengals (character concerns, eh?) to be tutored by Marvin Lewis. Now he's at the 49ers, where Mike Singletary has shown himself to have an excellent eye for linebacker talent (snark) and in a system that might suit him better. Still, if you can't look good at the Bengals, surrounded by dross, then will you look good at the 9ers, surrounded by... oh wait... they're dross too.

Jared Gaither and Paul Oliver went in the 2007 supplemental draft to the Ravens and Chargers, who unlike the previously mentioned organisations didn't have to rush players into the lineup, and could develop them.

Because there's the second rub - the supplemental draft is like bringing in street free agents halfway through the offseason. The time rookies may need to adjust simply isn't there. However, what you do get is the ability to determine the natural physical level of the players, as there hasn't been the hothousing for the draft tests.

But of course, you do get the players at a discount.

I await to see how the Redskins misuse their draft pick, Jeremy Jarmon. Chances are he'll flame out, because the Skins are as disfunctional as it is possible to be in the NFL without being the Detroit Lions.

Song of the week

She's a dwelling place for demons...

I have a bit of a soft spot for Avenged Sevenfold. Ok, their name sounds like they should be a Christian emo-core band. And let's face it, they may be evangelical nutcases for all I know. But the tune Beast and the Harlot encapsulates perfectly why I like them. They chorus has this gorgeous melody which floats over the arpeggiating guitar. And yes, I may have just made up a word. The intro is a straight up thrash your head riff, which has a guitar screech out of it and then swaggering section. The drums are pulverising, the little kick flares directly under the chug of the verse guitar. It's spot on. The solo has a lot of tapping and silly bits, perfect for ludicrous shred pretending. Also the video is cool.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Bad decisions and salaries

The guys who work in the NFL have a pretty unique salary payment structure and position.

In the Premiership the players have contracts which range anywhere from 1 year to a decade, and the wage values you hear about in the papers are the actual amounts they will earn on a weekly basis for the whole of their contracts. They aren't game cheques (amounts per week of the season) they are actual payments.

The same is basically the same in the rugby, except that rugby clubs are operating under a salary cap and recognise that the value of the player contract as an asset is a lot more fungible. This means that even established international players can be playing under one or two year deals. The old amateur ethos of the game means that the players are still at a point where (for the most part) they're glad to be being paid to go to the club, and not having to work the jobs they would otherwise be filling (this excludes the guys like Jamie Roberts, who's studying to be a doctor, and the guys who use rugby to pay for being an eternal student).

In the NFL annual salaries are paid on a weekly basis for the period of the season, with bonus cheques paid in the post season at a much lower rate. The good part of the salary of an NFL star is the up front cash lumps, which are pro rated for salary cap purposes, but are a real pain (one assumes) to manage cash wise. The players who hit it big get a massive influx of cash, and given the 8 years average career of the NFL player, need to invest wisely.

This story from the National Football Post, which I've seen mooched about for the last couple of days, is a case study in what not to do. Of course, the MLB has the same problem (see Moneyball for Billie Beane's sad story).

I'll probably witter on about salary cap stuff later - Profootballtalk is a pretty good place to start with any contract details.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Songs of the week

I have been following two blogs

metalhead and proud

ask earache

The former is a great blog where there are exhaustive lists of new records and singles, and quick track listings and reviews. It's an absolute goldmine for discovering new bands.

The latter is an email column from Dig, who is a legend in the metal world and top guy (having done a neat little internship at Earache I can confirm this), where he gives links and views, and is well worth a read if the heavy is your taste.

I've also heard two exciting new songs

Here's one by Amon Amarth

Viking metal! How excited am I? This tune has what I look for in a heavy tune. Driving kick drums and that punchy snare sound forming the heart beat of the track, setting the rhythm for the headbanging. A guitar riff which runs into a yowl. And the main guitar riff is extremely melodic - I think the test for heavy metal of this type is whether you can imagine the guitar being switched out with a choir without losing the menace.

Here's one by Shadows Fall

I just think this is quality dancefloor filler. A punchy opening and then a vocal drop, with a melodic hook which you can pull cool shapes to and puff your chest out like an undead parrot. This is important to me.

That is all

Crush of the day

I fucking love Jamelia

Best obituary ever

This is the most brutal obituary ever


Friday, 3 July 2009

Angela Gossow vs Song of the Week

Angela Gossow could so easily be the love of my life, in another place or time...


Maybe Jennifer won't approve.

Here's the song of the week, with unusually high quality audio for a bootleg


Goatwhore, ladies and gentlemen, Goatwhore.

Thursday, 2 July 2009


The "Sticky and Sweet" tour will be on Sky One HD. I can't imagine why anyone would want to see Madonna in HD. I've taken sexier shits after a night out on Hoegarden. Criminy.

Monday, 29 June 2009

reasons to love football: #1

I read an article this week on the Sporting News where the writer says : "Make no mistake, the Ravens won't sneak up on anybody in 2009". Here's a thing, and it's my first reason for loving football.

The 16 game schedule has a number of impacts, and one of the interesting ones is the total lack of squad rotation. When you watch the Premiership (Guinness or Barclays) is that some teams have an increased level of performance one season, followed by a drop off. This is because teams take them more seriously following good performance, and stop rotating out as much of the first team squad as they had previously.

Each game is a battle, and on any given Sunday anything could happen. There's reason number one.


When I read the quote, I paused and had a little think about it, and I think that the writer means this:

1 - the Ravens system had changed. Although the offensive patterns had been used by offensive coordinator Cam Cameron at his previous stops, the particular strain used by Baltimore was new, and the way in which players fit into it was different.

2 - Joe Flacco was a total mystery to NFL defensive coordinators. The best plan in that situation was to bring some exotic pressure, plug up the run, take away the easy options and force errors. Unfortunately for these opponents the Baltimore run game remained rugged and Flacco showed his arm strength to go down the field, drawing defenders out of the run game. In addition, Flacco had the advantage of playing with the Baltimore D - firstly, they gobbled up the ball, and secondly there are few better groups at showing exotic looks, so he had become accustomed to the strange in training.

I am super excited about the new season. I'd do a poll on whether this year's crop of 1st round QBS will top the bar set last year, but I have no readers!

Friday, 26 June 2009

players I'm excited about

As previously posited, I love the draft.  I love it because you get some great stories about some interesting players who go on to play minor roles at best in the NFL.  I love college ball for the same - there'll be one or two guys on each squad with these fascinating stories.  One guy I liked to watch last year was James Casey at Rice.  A former professional baseball player who took a second chance in athletics and returned to football, played for Rice and looked really good.  Any player who has a package of plays built around him is exciting, but when the package is called the "Thor" package, then well... exciting! He's big! He runs.  The Thor package was a QB option type bundle, but this guy played end, TE, H back, fullback, tailback, split end - he's a football player, not a position player.  He'll contribute on special teams, and in a hybrid role, is my best guess.  He's the guy you will never draft in Fantasy, but has the potential to excite a hardcore fanbase - look for him at the Texans this year.

super jimmy back on Welford Road

James Grindal is coming back to Leicester to replace the departing Dupuy.  Grindal came into the Tigers set up initially as a security blanket for Andy Goode, and looked pretty promising as far as Leicester style 9s go.  Solid, steady, enough pace, a flat pass.  He didn't break all the way through though, and was basically pushed out by the emergence of Harry Ellis.  Up to Newcastle he went, where he's toiled in relative obscurity.  136 appearances: that's 19 games a year or basically a full season of appearances.  That'll work for Leicester, where his durability isn't going to be stretched because he'll be the old head who backs up Ben Youngs when we start the bolter, or he'll sit behind Ellis and provide us some sort of steadiness off the bench in a big game.  I think Youngs could be the future, and Grindal may be resigned to the fact that his career will be the constant placeholding for emerging scrum half talent - first Ellis, then Micky Young at Newcastle, now maybe Youngs at Leicester. 

n other news, more rugby emails from Sideshow.

Picking Simon Shaw in the test team for Saturday = the maddest thing I’ve ever seen. I wouldn’t have him in the Saxons squad. Smacks of panic to me, they are playing on the top of a ruddy mountain, the idiot will wander, knackered, to the breakdown, fall over and give up so many kicking points it’s unreal, followed by the inevitable sin binning for whacking someone. If they wanted that, they should have taken White, at least that way we’d not have looked like 8 year olds at scrum time, and wed’ve loved him despite his indiscipline. I love Geech, really I do, but that’s just picking your own bloke at the expense of sanity. I think Burger’s selection will help us, but this hurts us more."

I think Berger is going to ram the ball down our gizzard something crazy.  I think Shaw has had a pretty good tour, but hadn't expected him to get the nod, because I think he's the same player as O'Connell.  I was surprised he went on the tour (the Shaw and Worsley selections
were rampant Wasps homerism, as was putting Cipriani on the waiting list).  I think the harshest move is saying that Monye is a worse player than that leek eating midget.  That will backfire.  I'd have put Hook in at 10, or certainly on the bench.  ROG should have jogged off
the front of the pitch after missing that kick and run straight to the airplane.  Inexcusable.

Monday, 22 June 2009

testing times for the lions (plus more)

I got an email from Sideshow, and he has this to say:

"What got me about the Lions game was that if we could play basic Rugby, we'dve comfortably won. Thow the ball into the lineout properly, get a prop that can prop (and if not, have the 8 pick up quicker), kick intelligently rather than down the 15's throat and get a winger that can carry the ball in the correct arm = comfortable win. "

I didn't mind so much kicking the ball down Steyn's throat - he spilled a couple of times, and has played the last 18 months at 12.  Pressuring him is tactical. It didn't pay the dividends it could have, but you learn things in a three test series, and that's one of them - we need to pull him around a little bit.  That's Ok.

The Front Row - I wasn't convinced by the Vickery selection, and it turns out I know more about scrummaging than the Lions selectors.  If you insist on leaving mighty mighty Julian White at home, you can't guarantee victory in the scrum.  I'm deeply concerned about the front row call ups.  Oh well.  Mears had a poor game, but you couldn't have predicted that.  Rees will step in and do well, and we'll have competitiveness up front, which will mean we can't exploit De Villiers awful substitution timing again.

As for Monye - I thought he could have gone to deck earlier for the first attempt, but that the cover tackle was spectacular.  The second try I'll let him off, because he'd shifted arms to fend off the first tackler, and got tomahawked by an unseen man.  I don't think Williams will step in, but Fitgerald could. 

There's been a lot of talk about Phillips having a good game.  For my money, he was picked to go over people and on the one occasion he tried he fumbled away a try.  For me, off he goes and in comes Ellis.

I watched the Saxons final too.

Luke Narraway is a lot bigger than I thought - 6'3 and about 17 stone. 
The kid we played at scrum half (Micky Young of the Falcons) has a great pass - straight off the deck and it fizzes across the park.  He gets around the paddock at pace as well.  He isn't at the Ellis standard yet, but I prefered what I saw of his game to Danny Care. 
Dan Cole is a massive lump of a man. He was unlucky to be sin binned because Ireland infringed about a dozen times, got warning warning warning, Ireland get into the red zone once, Cole slows the ball and off he goes.  And watching the replay, there's an argument to say that it wasn't a penalty at all - it looked to me like he was the tackler, made the tackle and Ireland pinned him off his feet.
Varndell is still very young, and looked big and strong - his stiff arm is a thing of beauty.  He looked much more polished than he has in the past, a more complete player.  This is a problem when the player is moving to Wasps. 
Myler is still promising, but he doesn't smash people like you'd expect a League convert to.

He also refers to my story writing as a "Barbera Cartland (sic)" impression.  There's nothing like the support of your friends (and this isn't exactly the support of my friends, now, is it!) but I shall persevere regardless.  Of course, that isn't how you spell Barbara.  So there.

Friday, 19 June 2009

you tube if you want to

I hate the overblown hype, the misunderstanding, the confusion and then the misappropriation that accompanies any changes in the media landscape.  First it was blogs, then it was myspace, then facebook and youtube, now it's Twitter.

The thing that companies and politicians don't seem to understand is the inherently organic nature of these types of activity, and how corporate intrusion into them is horribly ineffective.

Youtube is the worst for this - other than the censorship and fair use issues which go on and on and on, the idea of politicians making press releases via this site is ludicrous.  You have proper TV equipment and access to the world's actual media.  Social media is not for you Gordon.

That said, youtube can be pretty neat - kids learning to tell visual stories, old tv clips, pirated gigs, amatuer music videos, all these things I am on board with.  Video diaries, less so.

Here's a list of things I have found this week on the internet, via various sources, which have amused me.

First up, two links from the excellent Earache blog - a cool Bezerker cover and the best washing machine advert of all time: (don't watch this at work!)

Then there's some more professional content, an unreleased single from the Streets. Mega.

And finally, via boing boing, a Jay Z remix

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Lions test team


Here's the team:

L Byrne (Wales and Ospreys); T Bowe (Ireland and Ospreys), B O'Driscoll (Ireland and Leinster), J Roberts (Wales and Cardiff Blues), U Monye (England and Harlequins); S Jones (Wales and Scarlets), M Phillips (Wales and Ospreys); G Jenkins (Wales and Cardiff Blues), L Mears (England and Bath), P Vickery (England and Wasps), Alun-Wyn Jones (Wales and Ospreys), P O'Connell (Ireland and Munster, capt), T Croft (England and Leicester), D Wallace (Ireland and Munster), J Heaslip (Ireland and Leinster).
Replacements: M Rees (Wales and Scarlets), A Jones (Wales and Ospreys), D O'Callaghan (Ireland and Munster), M Williams (Wales and Cardiff Blues), H Ellis(England and Leicester), R O'Gara (Ireland and Munster), R Kearney (Ireland and Leinster)

All I can say is wow - the selection looks spot on.  I've written about the back row and half backs already, so let's have a quick peak at the rest of the side.

Full Back

Byrne ahead of Kearney (and that muppet Earls).  This is the correct selection, but it's been a pretty close call.  Two very similar players, both exhibiting impressive range, tackling and deep field kicking.  Byrne is a touch better in defence, Kearney a bit swifter.  I wouldn't like to say who's better under the high ball - Byrne has a solidity about him which makes him a great selection, but Kearney has a bit of the GAA bred player about him.  In terms of form Byrne is the guy, and it's nice to see it recognised.


Ugo has been in menacing form this tour, despite being something of a fringe selection in the squad.  He's scoring a lot, and bulldozing people on little wing incursions.  Bowe is a pretty similar player stylistically - he comes into the line at pace and uses good balance and shake moves to go past people.  His kicking game is a bit more finesse based than Monye's booming style, and suffers a consequential diminution in range.  He's in good form also.

Fitzgerald struggled in the centres, and has had something of a up and down tour in terms of form.  At the risk of over emphasising - that game in the centres has cost Fitzgerald a chance of playing in the first couple of tests.  Shane Williams has been awful on the tour.

Kearney provides back up on the wing and in the centre, which fits the defensive plans, but might limit the overall attacking potential of the team in the final 20 minutes.


These selections are the easiest on the tour.  Flutey has struggled with injuries and hasn't had the chance to hit form.  Leaving aside the fact that I wouldn't have taken him (he's not British!) he was the player who made England's backline tick in the Six Nations.  He won't get the chance for the Lions for now.  I guess he'll be the starting centre in the third test, after the shoulders of the incumbents have worn down.

Roberts has been the player of the tour for the backs - big, strong, quick, surehanded.  He adds to the possession and breakdown battle in a way that the other backs simply do not.

O'Driscoll is the highly rated, high reputation player on the squad.  I've seen him in the meat once, where he and D'Arcy were played off the park by the Leicester combination of Smith and Lloyd.  That game gave Smith his chance with the Lions (although he never really got a proper push on that tour, and following his father's tragic early death his form suffered - which is totally understandable - and he's not looked quite the same player since... here's hoping France is helping him feel at peace).  BOD get's the call simply because there's no one else - Earls has been dreadful - even though his form hasn't been epic.  He's been OK though.

D'Arcy was a late call up, and never had a proper chance of an early test slot, despite his rapport with BOD. 

Hook is out, possibly for the whole tour, with a head injury.

Front Row

The Hooker selection is really interesting.  I thought Rees would get the nod, because there hasn't been a lot to choose from between him and Mears, and Rees has a significant size advantage over Mears.  Line out throwing is going to be a battle ground for the Lions, given the proficiency of Matfield and Botha - this is why Ford is going to be playing the remainder of his tour in the midweek side.  Mears gets the chance to impress, but if he struggles, expect a switch for the second week.

Prop wise, there's been a lot of talk about how Sheridan must start because of the weakness of Smith as a tight head.  I never bought that, and always felt that Jenkins superior technical ability would win out.  Win one for me.  He's a great asset in the loose too.

Vickery plays, and is a professed favourite of Rowntree.  I'm prepared to accept he knows more about scrummaging than I will ever learn, and so will take this selection on faith. 

Jones adds a lot to the breakdown (massive massive unit).

Euan Murray got himself banged up, but he was playing well as well - I'd think he'd have started ahead of Vickery, but as I said, I won't argue with Wig.  This is the strongest performing group in the squad, and I couldn't say if this was due to selection, combinations or coaching.

Second Row

O'Connell was a shoo in, a gimme pick.  He's been paired consistently with Wyn Jones, and it's been obvious that this was the plan - pick two line out forwards to attack Botha and Matfield. 

O'Callaghan adds experience, strength and power for the loose.  At a push Croft can come forward.  Hines has been pushed around the pack, and seems to be considered as exclusively a midweek player.  Shaw is a huge lump of a man, solid at 5 and plenty of power on the break.  In the event the captain gets spear tackled in a challenge from which no player is cited, expect Shaw to come up into the test squad.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Lions thoughts, take two


Oh the halfbacks... spine of the team, most important positions on the park... decision makers... coaches on the field.

I think it might be a bit over baked, the whole worship of the halfbacks, but that is probably a typical Leicester front row forward mentality.  I've watched Leicester compete with the very best with some pretty limited half backs, and come to value some of the qualities which those limited guys had.  Calm heads (when they were playing well), a quick pass from the 9, sensible kicking... yes, Mr Serevi, I'm looking at you here.

The Lions were in an awkward position, what with the French having opened up a brutal monopoly on half backs in the last couple of years, clever little players who can switch between 9 and 10, kick goals, run games, distributed efficiently from out half with no pressure or ferret the ball out of the ruck and maul and fire it across the field. 


The best out halves in Britain are both Welsh, for my money (Stephen Jones and James Hook are very different players, but both excellent, and you know full well there are a handful of other Welsh tens just waiting... I remember that Arwel Thomas and Ceri Jones never even got a run for Wales, even though they were quality, so I'm going to assume there are more).  ROG used to look like a pretty gifted, flash player, but something happened at the World Cup and he's (for my money) done.  The Scots have nothing, the English out halves are all separately and difficultly limited - Cipriani has a need to reduce his cuntyness and regear his kicking, but runs like a gazelle, Andy Average has one of the best kicking games you'll ever see, but is a confidence pony, the younger guys need seasoning (Myler and Geraghty come to mind, but Barkley barely played this year also).  Vesty is a Leicester guy, but not an international stand off (see weak leg, lack of goal kicking range for more details) who played himself out of contention in the last two games of the season.

I can totally understand why the decision was made to take ROG and Jones, and the belated addition of Hook made sense to me.

Tour form has been hard to come by for all the out halves - ROG has played awfully, absolutely awfully.  Jones has had a couple of good games.  Hook has been given no quality time, and seems to be viewed as a utility back for the midweek side, which is a shame, as he could lean on the game management expertise of the grizzled forwards and the (allegedly world class) O'Driscoll and make a name for himself.  As it is, the pick will be Jones.


As I said, the best 9s in Europe are all French.  Yachvilli, Elisalde, Dupuy, Michalak... there's something for everyone there.

The Lions went for the Tomas O'Leary, unimpressive scrum half for the Irish team, who actively impaired the team function of Ireland during the Six Nations.  Every time Stringer came on ROG looked better, the ball moved quickly and the team looked fluid.  Unfortunately Stringer is an old man, and has no pace.  I'd have considered taking him as an impact sub.

Then O'Leary got hurt and Mike Blair got called up.

Since then he's looked like the old man, out of place, unable to manage the Lions backline.  We can safely say he's out of contention, regardless of his nationality.

Then there's the Leicester man, Ellis.  Ellis has shown off his stunning box kicking game, putting pressure on the wings and sidelines.  The ball comes off the deck quickly when he's in the game and allowed to play the ball (fucking Wayne Barnes) and Ellis brings a ferocious amount of pace to the table. 

Mike Phillips is the other contender for the jersey.  He's afflicted with what I like to call Matt Dawson syndrome - the habit built into 9s these days to pick up the ball and have a little look to see what is on for them.  That might wash at junior level, where they're the best player on the paddock, but in the international test arena, they could really do with coaching that back a bit.  Phillips isn't as quick as Ellis, but is bigger.  He'll go through a tackle which Ellis would go over, but won't beat a guy to the corner that Ellis might.

As it is, Phillips has had all the plum starting jobs, and so looks likely to start.  He's also got the advantage of having a rapport with ROG.  I think that the third test will show Hook and Ellis in the starting roles, battling to get some respect in a series which is already lost.  For the moment though Phillips is tied on for the starting role.

Monday, 15 June 2009

booking fees...

are something of a bugbear of mine.


A bugbear? me? But I'm such a cheery chappie.  I never grouse.

Well, ok, a bit.

Here's an interesting article

But to summarise - Ticketmaster are a bunch of pirating, kidnapping, ransoming bastards.  No one likes them, but we all have to deal with them.  There's a word for that type of business practice, and I'm pretty sure that the people who are supposed to regulate it even have the word in their name.

I'm a blank

### and Mergers Committee?

The word eludes me.

self indulgence

So, this is pretty self indulgent, but isn't posting a diary online and expecting anyone to read it pretty narcissistic anyway? I figure it is, so sod it.

I wrote this little short story in response to a competition. Submitted it. Heard nothing. Still mine though, so I'll stick it here.


Their lips touched once, twice, thrice.  Hesitant, tentative, bashful.  First, chastely.  Second, demurely. The third time insistently, as they fell in love.

He thought of the first time they met, the softness of her skin as she took his hand, they way her eyes glittered in the light like a fistful of sapphires piled in a snow white palm, the smell of vanilla as he leant forward to kiss her cheek.

She thought of the warmth of his smile as he leant towards her, the flush that rose unwanted in her cheeks as his stubble grazed her face, the pounding of her heart as he drew away.

In that brief instant they could feel their lives unfolding into the future: years spent together, travelling, exploring, a wealth of experiences cementing their passion.  Walking on sandy beaches whilst the wind whips salt water into their hair.  Sitting beneath broad oak trees, drinking wine and gazing at a peach and violet sunset. Raising their children, three all told, with her grace and his strength, her laugh and his wit, tall and brave. 
Watching their
first steps, hearing their first words, sharing in their triumphs and commiserating with them on their defeats.  Growing older, growing together, taking comfort in their love with the passing of each year.

These things they told me, my sister and my husband, the day he asked for the divorce.

Lions thoughts

One of the key concerns for the Lions has got to be the back row. 

Let me rephrase

The Lions have got to be concerned about all their positions.  For every player who's put their hand up for test selection, there's an injury or a hopeless bust (I'm looking at you Shane Williams you overrated little smurf)

But the back row is critical to victory.  Winning the breakdown and turnover battle can make or break a test team.

The squad selection for the back row was interesting to say the least.  Alan Quinlan got selected as a squad filling hardman/bolter, and promptly got himself banned for gouging.  Out he went and in came Tom Croft, a personal favourite of mine, and a man many thought would be in the test team prior to the squad announcement.

Tom isn't a prototypical openside though, he's a freak athelete who could play on the wing if he wanted, but has the side of an early 90s lock.  Let's talk opensides:



Pros - freakish speed, and I don't use that phrase lightly.  Reputedly the second fastest player in the Tigers squad, after nippy little Tom Varndell.  A monster in the lineout, partly based off the same kind of explosive power which drives his pace, and partly because he's comparatively light for a big man, at about 16 stone. 

Cons - he's too fucking tall.  This is a typical Leicester attitude, but an open side should be able to get low to the ground and scrap.  Too many times in the tour we've seen Croft blown off the ball.  Not his fault, but it's an issue.


Nominally a 7, which is where he was first selected for England.  People said he'd replace Neil Back, and despite his dozens of England caps, let's face it, he never did. 

Pros - love him or hate him (I hate him) he can tackle and has a mastery of the Edwards defensive system.

Cons - he's slow. And he's too fucking tall to play 7. 

Here's a Wasps coaches select Wasps player thing - the coaches know what they're getting, and took a guy on tour who had one good international match all year.


Pros - great in the tackle area, great around the park.

Cons - he's too slow, he's too tall... when a player is touted as a player who can play anywhere in the back row, there's a guy who cannot play openside against the Springboks.


Martyn Williams

Last seen missing a penalty kick against Leicester (oooh, salty) Williams is limping around with injuries a plenty. 

Pros - a true openside

Cons - he's old, he's hurt, he's never been as good as people made out (typical Welsh player in other words)


Oh yes, the cupboard is bare, and it isn't like there were any quality 7s left at home.  Looking at the English, Moody was hurt all year, Narraway is too small, Armitage is overrated and simply not a big game player, Ben Woods looked good for Leicester but isn't a test player... there's not a lot there

The Welsh don't have any opensides outside of Williams, hence his unretirement

Scotland's top back row players played hurt and out of position, Simon Taylor is the openside you'd have wanted to step forward, but he didn't. Ho hum.

The Irish are short of players too, outside the two we've mentioned.  I love Shane Jennings, but he has never got a look for Ireland.  At Leicester, he was spectacular.  Ludicorus.  Since... less so.

So Williams it is.


I love Geech, but in his wisdom he opted against taking any out and out 8s.  Instead we have the massive unit that is Andy Powell and the flexibility of Stephen Ferris.


Pros - what  a beast.  Brrrrrrring. Beast.  A big hitter who's pretty close to the line at all times, and a huge carrier. 

Cons - not exactly a force in the lineout, is he.  Hands are a little bit suspect.  Has turned it over a few times when isolated.


Pros - Good around the paddock.  A mixture of skills.

Cons - He's not a massive crash ball guy, and he doesn't scare people.

Here's a man who'se put his hand up big time for the test place, one of the very few.  He's been pretty impressive.  Ferris.


Blind side is the toughest position on the park, the hardest to play, the hardest to value.  It's also the place in the squad where tactics come into play the most, certainly in the pack at least.

This spot was absolutely locked down.  Heaslip was playing like a man possessed.  A demon on the park, quick, skillful, good in the line and the loose.  He would have formed a terrifying tandem with Croft and run the Boks off the park.  Now he's gone, there's no chance of Croft playing openside (although blindside isn't out...) and the other contenders for the shirt are...

All discussed above!

Wallace, I guess, could play, but hasn't stood out
Worsley hasn't played superbly
Croft looks savage quick
Ferris could play 6 to allow Powell to play

I'm going to say Croft, because Botha and Matfield are going to dominate the lineout, but I think it will be Worsley for the first test.  I don't think he'll be good though.

In the words of So Solid

Romeo Done.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Scouting next year's draft

I love the draft. Love it to bits. The hope, the promise, the prospect for change... and then the success, the failure, the disappointment, plus the odd bolter.

This is why I love the National Football Post's scouting the draft - because it is never too early to start guessing at who will go high in the next draft.

And, of course, it adds spice to my watching of the fall's college ball. And yes, I don't like the word fall for autumn, but there we go. Here's a link:

Scouting Series

Book review: The Instrumentalities of the Night

Books: The Tyranny of the Night, Lord of the Silent Kingdom
Author: Glen Cook
Purchase: Book 1 , Book 2


Glen Cook uses his unparalleled world building skills to showcase a version of Crusades era western Europe where magic exists and the gods are all too real. Else Tage, slave soldier turned infiltrator, represents a threat in the mind of hoary powers, sorcerers and warrior emperors, even if he isn't aware of it. A heresy rages, a crusade stutters and stumbles and the old gods rise.


The mix of complexity, politics, war and realism that Cook creates is a pretty unique blend. There are dozens of non fantasy war authors who would kill their kids to achieve a similar level of grit and grime in their work, but Cook will never achieve the same level of commercial success because A) he writes fantasy and B) as far as I can tell, he is an ornery cuss.


The heresy in the books is a pretty accurate representation of the Albigensian heresy in the south of France, which the Catholic Church put down in typically brutal fashion - the contention was that, as the world is such a shitty place to live, it seems more reasonable to assume it was made by the Devil than God. Cook even gets some of the famous lines of the era into the lips of his characters.

For readers of:

Glen Cook, Robert Jordan, David Eddings, Pat Rothfuss, Joe Abercrombie, Steven Erikson

Song of the week

Bettah - Dennis Bovell

I like reggae. This may seem somewhat incongruous for someone who can usually be found listening to some pretty heavy metal, a music not known for it's cheeriness and upbeat nature, unlike the reggae. Nonetheless. I like reggae.

This tune is fantastic. At the same time upbeat and political, it has what I look for in a song to roll around in the car to on a summer day.


Also, there's a kind of punky sensibility to the snarly "bettah!" of the chorus. I have two versions of the song, but here's a link to the original, just in case you wanted to listen.

I may talk about other great records by this guy in the future - he's kind of cool.

A first post

So here's the plan:

Some book reviews (this may include reviews of series, depending on how it's going on a week to week basis... I'll strive to have a uniform system, but who knows how that'll turn out);

Some ruminations on football; and

Some notes on other stuff that's going on. This may include music, film, television, who knows what else.