Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Mario Gomez: I GO TO SLEEP

Does anyone care about Mario Gomez? There is so little to distinguish him, let alone recommend him, among Bundesliga strikers. Heck, despite being Bayern's chief goalscorer his place in the squad is marked by its anonymity. He lacks the youth and famous name of Muller, the industry and fun name of Schweinsteiger, the pace and horrible facial features of "Scarface" Franck Ribery and Arjen "The 2,000 Year Old Man Who's Actually Only 25" Robben. Anatoliy Tymoshchuk, a defensive midfielder usually found on the substitute list, is vibrant and has a cool name and jazzy hair. Ivica Olic has barely played for two years, yet the memories of the 2009-2010 campaign and his drive therein are instantly more compelling than Gomez.

Many football squads are compared to the New York Yankees. Yet more than Real Madrid or Manchester United or either of the two Milanese giants Bayern fit the image of the pinstripe horde. You watch Bayern or the Yankees and you know they'll find some annoying way to win. Those other teams surely possess the air of predestined winners, but none manifest this fate as mechanically and consistently as these two organizations. Announcers say that they "find a way to win". Observers simply remark, "Fucking Yankees". Fucking Bayern. Watching them at Frankfurt last season: on the back foot the whole match, surviving only for the grace of Theofanis Gekas's resolute shittiness with the goal open before him, practically being toyed with by a side that wound up going down. But it was frustratingly clear they wouldn't lose. Their lack of personality compels them to succeed. Just as you knew that the Mariners of the late '90s wouldn't unseat the Yankees, that oddballs and extremes like Edgar Martinez, Joey Cora, Jay Buhner, Tino Martinez Luis Sojo and Randy Johnson. They came back in the 1995 Division Series but that upset was just that.

The Yankees are expected to win. They do it all the time with a roster of unspectacular but eminently hate-able players, offensive in their lack of personality. Their sheer Yankee-ness. Paul O'Neill. Jim Leyritz. Bernie Williams. And Mario Gomez might as well have played third for Buck Showalter. They win, for sure, but they do not achieve. Where's the heart? Where is Gomez's heart, not to mention his artistry and creativity?

Monday, August 22, 2011

It Begins with a Harp

Most songs: Verse/chorus/verse/chorus/bridge/solo/chorus.

"Foolin'" by Def Leppard: Intro/Joe Elliot's super ugly face/short verse/trading acoustic for electric guitar/pre-chorus #1/pre-chorus #2/CHORUS/verse/clairvoyance/pre-chorus #1/pre-chorus #2/hanging out at Q-Zar/CHORUS/solo/solo/pre-chorus #2/CHORUS/CHORUS.

The cut to Rick Allen's Union Jack briefs is priceless. The song is not exactly priceless because it is worth 70 trillion dollars. That's... I don't even know how many shillings. And halfpence! Each of the initial pre-choruses would be good enough for the main hook in the songs of lesser groups, but Def Lep are not about to settle for "good enough". Their gear settings are locked at "greater than". And as if the main chorus isn't totally rad enough, they add cowbell! And then marauding double-time drums to the end. I've been listening to Ronee Blakley all day and love it but turning on the radio to the pop craftsmanship masterclass of 'Ffffffoolin'" was fuckin' awesome.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

UHM Constructs the Best Possible Hold Steady Set-List, Within Reason.

This is my dream Hold Steady set-list. Maybe not a dream, because in my dream I'm sure they'd be joined onstage by Bob Stinson and Paul Westerberg for a 'Mats mini-set ("Bastards of Young", "Shiftless when Idle", "Within Your Reach" and an unbelievable "Seen Your Video" featuring Andre Cymone). Also, Slayer would open. Anyway, if I could pick the set-list for the next time I saw THS, which hopefully will be August 25th in Chicago, the show would go like this:

"Cattle and the Creeping Things"
"The Weekenders"
"Same Kooks"
"Multitude of Casualties"
"Party Pit"
"Chips Ahoy!"
"First Night"
"Chillout Tent"
"Barfruit Blues"
"Constructive Summer"
"Your Little Hoodrat Friend"
"Jokes About Jamaica"
"Southtown Girls"
"Chicago Seemed Tired Last Night"
"Slapped Actress"

Short break so everyone who just majorly lost their shit can recover for a minute.

"The Sweet Part of the City"
"Stuck Between Stations"
"Hot Soft Light"
"How a Resurrection Really Feels"
"This Year", a cover of the Mountain Goats jam
"Most People Are DJs/Killer Parties"

Boom. And if they were ever able to pull off a decent version of "Lord, I'm Discouraged" I'd probably include that as well. Another Stay Positive track, "One for the Cutters", would be an absolute gas, though the harpsichord parts don't seem like they'd translate well live. This ain't Joanna Newsom, it's Craig and the Boys! This obviously can't account for extended solos, in-between-songs banter or the odd stagediving delay but nothing can. I don't even like "Chillout Tent" that much when it's removed from its album context but hearing it in concert would at least be interesting. And since it's suddenly my dream again, Naomi Yang can handle the lady vocals!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

This Is Where I Vent About Spurs a Bunch

Spurs should sign Joey Barton, let Modric leave (though hopefully not to Chelsea), and, of course, sign a striker. Simple, right? Barton is available on a free and the money they'd get from the Modric sale would surely fund the purchase of a more-than-just-decent striker and maybe even another central defender. Dude clearly isn't interested in staying in North London so why not move on, face reality and use the cash to pick up long-bandied-about targets like Osvaldo or Chris Samba. Maybe pluck Liam Ridgewell from cash-strapped Birmingham. This could be so fun!

Yet Spurs' transfer policy this year, not just in the close season but during the winter break as well, has been characterized by a befuddling lack of movement. The needs for a central defender were obvious then and you'd have to think that Redknapp wouldn't have been so naive as to believe that VdV's goal flow would continue unabated, yet the only signing of note turned out to be Steven Pienaar. I think Pienaar is rather underrated and brings great industry to the middle of the park, but his signing was surely unnecessary. They can't get Bentley off the books nor Kranjcar off the bench, the latter inability a weird unfairness in its own right, yet they bring in the diminutive South African. Given his height, perhaps they believed he'd be a replacement for the already-agitating Modric, yet who could fool themselves into believing he'd be of the Croatian's class? Luka's imperiousness in the middle is nearly unmatched in England's top flight, his ability to carve space for himself and his teammates with an amazing economy of motion making him the chief architect of whatever success Spurs have had over the past two seasons.

So now he wants to move and we want a suitable replacement. The period at hand is one of stagnant interregnum, the waiting space between not just seasons but between Luka being a Spur and a... something else. A Chelsea Cashhunter? I hope not. His disregard of the rivalry between the two clubs has been rather shocking and a crosstown move would be truly disrespectful to the Yids who correctly rated him as Player of the Year. Wherever the destination, a move certainly seems inevitable at this juncture yet Spurs are mystifying reluctant to make any sort of compensatory moves in this period. The whole summer has been spent with hands under rears, little action save for the occasional declaration that Abramovich's latest bid is "derisory". There's nothing wrong with driving up the price and receiving the best value for the fucking star of your squad, but their refusal to explore other avenues concurrently has been extremely frustrating. This torpor contributed heavily to the failure to finish top four this season as they wasted the January transfer window and paid the consequences as the predictably short squad, exhausted by the CL run alongside the already-considerable rigors of the EPL season, endured a putrid run of draws against far-below-par opposition.

So sign Joey Barton. He's on a fucking free! I think we made a huge mistake by not recognizing that Ben Foster would be leaving Birmingham and watching him go to West Brom. Our keeper situation last year with Ol' Flailing Tentacles could charitably be described as "shitty" and adding the perpetually on-loan United stopper would've improved the situation immeasurably. And I'm sure he'd rather have played for a potentially top four club than rickety West Brom. Instead we have the ancient, bankrupt American Brad Friedel, the Jaime Moyer of the goalposts. Except that I love Jaime Moyer. Seeing as we keep letting quality acquisitions not even slip away but saunter into the grasp of inferior competitors the chance to sign the electric Barton is one that must be taken. Partnered with the gritty Sandro in the middle of the pitch would produce a tenacious midfield tandem akin to the dynamic rough/smooth pairing of Gary Medel and Ivan Rakitic at Sevilla. Except Barton and Sandro are both super-rough AND totally smooth! Maybe we'll bring in Craig "Whu'??" Bellamy to truly boost our malcontent cred.

That's serious teeth but also the promise of silky-ass passing and, if the Brazilian's thunderbolt against Chelsea is any indication, along with Barton's free-kick skills, genuine forward movement and goals. I also think that his combative nature, while thankfully out of the realm of jurisprudence these days, will give defenders once keen on giving Bale a kicking, if they could reach him, a bit of "perspective'. We must operate on the assumptions that Luka will soon be gone and that his departure will bring a buttload of cash, so Spurs' lack of proactivity is all the more galling. Signing Joey Barton, however, would be a great opportunity to reverse that recent trend.