Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The Batle of Grizzly Adams: Newcastle United is the Football Club For Me, Damn It


Big Fat Boring Sam Allardyce has disappeared down the tube like Augustus Gloop in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. Now we fans, the Oompa Loompas, will rage in discord on the blogs over whether it was good or bad and who the next manager should be.

But surely we can agree on a few things. Looking back at the FA Cup match against Stoke City, which could easily have been called "The Battle of Grizzly Adams," had bearded, hulking monstrosity Jon Parkin scored his couple of chances after coming on as a substitute in the 2nd half. Thankfully, his bear costume seemed to throw him off a bit.

But somehow the fates and our defense conspired to keep the ball out and we escaped with a draw. Filling in at right back was David Rozenhal who was an utter shambles. Jose Enrique at left back was not entirely convincing, but Taylor and Faye in the center were superb and Shay Given played well.

Our forwards had no service and were invisible again. Which brings us to the midfield. Let’s be honest about our midfield: Charles N’Zogbia is overrated. He, like Milner, does not pass. He twinkle-toes his way through half the opposition, only to give the ball away cheaply to a defender after beating two men. It didn’t work against Stoke City and it sure as feck won’t work against Man United or Arsenal. Pass the ball, Charles.

Duff is not blameless either. With these two superb wingers (and, yes, Duff is starting to look like himself again) there should more burning crosses than a Klan rally. Where are the quality crosses from our wingers? Eh?

However, it’s clear that our troubles sprung from the black hole of negativity in the central midfield. It is sucking the life out of the team. Yes, Nicky Butt and Alan Smith are hard working servants of the club, charging around and tackling hard. But, as we’ve all said, we need creativity.

And hopefully our new manager will keep this in mind because I think it’s fair to say that many inanimate objects, entities or abstract concepts would provide more creativity than either Nicky Butt or Alan Smith.

Any of these choices would be more creative than our current central midfield:

--A bottle of Jameson: I normally prefer Bushmills, to be honest, but whenever I drink with my friend Nate, he starts with the rounds of Jameson and the next thing I know, I’m swearing up a blue streak. It’s real ceative, I assure you, but the problem is that I can never actually remember anything I’ve said. At any rate, playing a bottle of Jameson (or any whiskey for that matter) in central midfiled is bound to be more creative than Allen Smith.

--Vegetable oil: Hey, you can make anything with it! Just substitute it for butter in any recipe or football team and voila! Low-fat killer passing in the final third of the field!

--Surrealism: I’m not a huge fan, but melting clocks hanging off trees and bullfighters fighting flies over a repeating tecnicolor background of roman statues? Pretty creative.

--A potato: So versatile, so nutritious! You can create bread, pancakes, French fries, tortillas soups. Aloo chana and any number of delicious dishes with this lowly tuber. That’s the kind of versatility and flexibility we need from our central midfield.

--A used tire: I’ve seen them used for tire swings, soles of Splaff sandals and shoes, decorative planters and… one or two other things. Surely more creative than Nicky Butt.

--Radiohead: The boys from Oxford are still cranking out interesting stuff, unlike the rumbling engine room of our side. If only they could Voltron into a soccer player.

--Gerhard Richter: This German doesn’t just do hyper realistic paintings for Sonic Youth album covers—he does expressionist work with a squeegee too! Now that’s innovative! Put him in the midfield.

--Martha Stewart: The mastermind of home decoration can create festive wreaths from empty tuna cans and macaroni or liven up room arrangements with rotting animal corpses from the Humane Society. What could she do with a football at her feet?

--Yessenia the girl at the nail salon on the corner: Damn! That girl does some cre-A-tive shit on fingernails! Portraits of movie stars, arabesques, tesselations, spider webs… Awesome! Put her in the midfield alongside Faye!

Who or what should we truly get for our midfield?

Monday, January 7, 2008

Diary of a Bushwick Bedbug, 4: There Will Be Blood?

Hey Folks,

How’s things? I got out again this weekend. This time I hitched a ride on Minnesota to the movies. She went to the Brooklyn Academy of Music to see "There Will Be Blood."

SPOILER ALERT: I gotta be honest: I thought there would be more blood.

I mean, after all, I’m a blood feeder, so I was hoping for more food porno for Bedbugs. Like watching the Food Network, you know? But there just wasn’t that much.

So I thought these alternate titles might work better:

--There Will Be Acting
--There Will Be Bad Midwestern Accents By an Irishman
--There Will Be Moustaches
--There Will Be No Female Characters
--There Will Be Death By Drill Bit, Pistol and Bowling Pin

Or maybe "There Will Be Ample Time For A Bed Bug To Scamper Around And Bite Every Single Moviegoer In The 5th Row." I got a little bored with the flick so I crawled across the whole row, sampling the flavors. It was like a buffet! A 10 course meal, even!

It’s amazing how fast that rich, real butter flavor makes its way from the popcorn into human blood! And mmm, that’s good butter! And Junior Mints really are refreshing, aren’t they? The Japanese girl on the end of the isle was scarfing them down, so her blood tasted choco-minty! Awesome! But I can tell--coffee at B.A.M. isn’t so good. I think Minnesota makes a better pot back at her place. Hey, maybe those free-range, fair trade coffee beans really do taste better.

Anyway, the movie was directed by P.T. Barnum’s great grandson—P.T. Anderson. It stars Daniel Day Lewis and a whole bunch of other no-name-nobodies who aren’t worth mentioning, except maybe the kid who played "the kid".

That Daniel Day Lewis is a real fucking ham. Minnesota was watching "Gangs of New York" a few nights ago on cable in her Bushwick loft, so I creeped out of the baseboard and took a look. I’ll be damned if Daniel Day Lewis doesn’t cop some dumb accent for every role he takes. I mean, come on. Who, anywhere, ever spoke like he does in this movie? A Dubliner trying to cop a dust-bowl accent, that’s who. Method acting? You want a method? How’s this: Let the words speak for themselves and stop glowering at the camera.

There were some other actors too, but I don’t really remember any of them, except the kid. That kid is the next Haley Joel Osment! Which means he better save his earnings from this turkey. I think Osment is doing dinner theater in Canton. Or maybe he’s the actual Haley Joel Osment! Wait, does Osment have the same disease as Gary Coleman, Emmanuel Lewis and Joe C from Kid Rock’s band? Shit. That’s sad.

Okay, so here’s a question about the movie: Where the hell were the women? Was the main character gay? Was he asexual? Or was Daniel Day Lewis some kind of mine pervert? Maybe he gets off on basalt and gabbro. I don’t know. But there was hardly a woman in sight in this flick. Maybe there was a little homo-Oedipus going on? The whole thing was pretty creepy.

So, crawling around in Minnesota’s papers the next night, I saw that the critics are lining up to fondle Paul Thomas Anderson scrotum, telling you it’s a grand American Film Masterpiece, but don’t be fooled. The score by Johnny Greenwood from Radiohead is pretty cool, the photography's nice and it’s got some funny moments, but otherwise, this one’s a hollow stinker.

So long for now,


Friday, January 4, 2008

Newcastle United Football Club Is The One For Me, Damn It!

I don’t know know much about soccer (or football for that matter) but for reasons too dull to explain at the moment, Newcastle United Football Club is the team I like, the club I support, the one and only team that truly matters to me (until New York gets its own team—not some swampy New Jersey pretenders out in the Meadowlands.)

I admit it: I’m a total Johnny-come-lately. But at least I didn’t choose any of the so-called big four (Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United or Arsenal). Instead, I chose a troubled, under-performing mid-table team that has suffered for years without winning anything to speak of, aside from the Intertoto Cup, which sounds like a competition of doggies from The Wizard Of Oz and is about as entertaining.

By choosing Newcastle, I expect to suffer a lot, which, in turn, proves my true fan-dom, loser spirit, under-dog loyalty and all that crap.

So there it is. Full disclosure. I’m a newby.

That said, I have a few observations about our most recent game: A two goal defeat at home to Manchester City. With a new manager and a host of new players having just shipped in, Newcastle and Man City have some things in common. What they don’t have in common is success. City are in 4th place, while Newcastle are languishing in 11th. Our new manager, Sam Allardyce, is in deep shit. And their new manager, whatever his name is, ain’t.

So what did I see Wednesday night when I watched the game?

1. Seal look-alike Abdoulaye Faye is one big, rough mother-effer and a hell of a player. Lumbering around like an Ent with better ball skills and passing, he worked his ass off in the midfield, held possession and distributed the ball well to our forwards. Now, suppose we get into a relegation battle? Sam could take some advice from Faye’s long lost twin: "We’re never gonna survive unless we get a little crazy…" Translation? Stop being so goddamn defensive and play Faye alongside a attacking midfielder for a change. Hmm, then again, that idea is not that crazy, is it?
Faye brings the ball forward.

2. A moment I wish we’d seen: Faye strides purposefully across the field and yanks that fucking preposterous rug off Stephen Ireland’s head, shouting "You shall not pass!" Yes, I know I’m mixing Lord of the Rings characters and moments, but it would have been pretty amusing.

3. Somehow to me, Damien Duff and Obafemi Martins have similar facial characteristics. Yes, that’s complete lunacy, but at certain moments… is it the cheekbones? The deep carved lines on the sides of their mouths? There was some question over Obafemi’s real age and there is that chant that goes "21 or 28, 21 or 28, 21 or 28, Obafemi Martins!" Now, isn’t the Duffer also 28? THEY MAY BE TWINS! What? One’s Nigerian and the other’s Irish? Right. Never mind.

4. More important than the Irishman’s Nigerian twin, Duff played well against City. He and Milner switched off on right and left wing sometimes, which is something they did against Cheslea, and which, interestingly, is something I first noticed Duff doing with Arjen Robben back in his Chelsea days, but to better effect. WARNING: MORE STUPIDITY ALERT: Is Allardyce trying to crib an effective attacking technique from Mourinho’s style?! If Duff, N’Zogbia and Milner got that swirling switching play thing happening for Newcastle, that would be funky. But before that happens…

5. James "Travolta" Milner out on the right wing needs to learn how to pass the fucking ball. The kid dribbles but good. Unfortunately, he’s in love with his own feet. Fork it over, James. Trying your samba moves every time you get the ball might work in the under 21s but City’s defense had your number yesterday, and they’re not the only ones lately either. Cut the shit with the fancy-dancery on every possession There’ll be time for strutting your stuff on the dance floor in the 2018 edition of Dancing With The Stars.

6. Even from left back, Charles N’Zogbia is a force. He was our most threatening and maybe best player last night. Plus his name is fun to say. "n’ZOG-bia!" Sounds like a Superman villain—General Zod’s sidekick. Or a magic spell. Too bad uttering it doesn’t magically create goals. Now what could he do from the midfield proper?

7. Habib Beye is a great new addition to the team. Too bad he’s off to the African Cup of Noodles (no disrespect intended), leaving us with has-been Irish cue ball, Stephen Carr at right back (disrespect intended). Seriously, I’m a new fan and everything, so was there ever a time when Carr was good?

8. Cacapa & Taylor at the back: Why do so many folically-challenged men go for the goatee? That aside, I thought Cacapa was pretty good at the back, though he’s another Ent—slow and lumbering. Taylor was good too. But I was of two minds: Were Man City’s goals just well worked pieces of attack? Or was someone in our defense truly to blame, and if so, how can we avenge ourselves upon them without hurting our prospects for the season?

9. Viduka: He’s big and slow, but he’s got good feet, hasn’t he? Not in a fetish way, mind you. I thought he was close to crafting THE opening a few times, but…

10. Obafemi Martins was as profligate as a Hummer at a stop light. What’s going on? Is your luck just off, or did somebody cast a hex on your cleats? Maybe you need to go home and tear shit up for a few weeks with Nigeria in the African Nations Cup before you can start scoring again. Or maybe you’re just in shock that balls are coming in to your feet lately, after all the crappy hoofing the ball forward in the air that we’ve been doing. Either way, please come back from Ghana with your batteries recharged and your goal gyroscope re-tuned.

11. Nicky Butt! Hey, he’s a good tough, hard working veteran player, right? But why, in the name of god, did we need him on the field alongside Abdoulaye Faye? Where the eff was Emre? That crafty Turkish cat has got some tricks up his sleeve that could release Viduka, Martins et al, no?

12. Yes, we lost three in a row, but the last two games have been major improvements since the Wigan disaster. Is there reason for hope? Or will fecking Stoke City punch our ticket on Sunday?

13. Anybody else noticing the number of mohawks cropping up lately? Gallas, Micah Richards, our very own Alan Smith? It’s the foppish football hairdo of the moment. Thank goodness for silly haircuts.