In perhaps the most exciting game of the weekend, Manchester City stumbled to a 3-2 win against plucky Southampton at the Etihad. The Saints talisman Rickie Lambert started on the bench but came on after an hour to transform them into a genuine threat for the champions. Within four minutes he brought the score to 1-1, after a first half strike from Carlos Tevez. Saints manager Nigel Adkins second substitute, Steven Davis, scored almost straight away with an almost identical strike to Lambert’s. Panic had wavered across the Etihad. But City showed why they were champions when Samir Nasri pounced on a poor clearance to grab the three points.
Due to the fact that my dissertation is based on the late Michael Crichton, I thought I’d finally get round to doing another blog post and spread the word of this writer. Few realise that Steven Spielberg’s 1993 blockbuster hit started as a novel, with all of the film’s intricacies and heart pounding suspense penned by one man.
Before I look into the novel itself, here’s a quick run-down of the information you really need to know about Crichton;
- Died of leukaemia in 2008 while finishing two books published posthumously.
- He remains the only person in history to have a number one film (Jurassic Park) a number one book (Disclosure) and a number one television series (E.R) all at the same time.
- Of the 18 fiction novels he has published, 11 of them have been adapted to the big screen, including Jurassic Park’s sequel The Lost World, Rising Sun, Sphere, The Great Train Robbery, Disclosure and Timeline. It will soon be 12 as Steven Spielberg has bought the filming rights to his posthumous novel Pirate latitudes.
- He is considered the father of the techno-thriller who meticulously researched his novels. Jurassic Park took 8 years to finish.
- He is responsible for the films Twister and Westworld, with the latter being the first film in history to use CGI, using it as a viewpoint for a robot. This is no doubt where the Terminator franchise got the idea of using a robot POV from.
A quick summary of the plot, for the rare few that don’t know, is that philanthropist John Hammond (Sir David Attenborough) has come up with a way of using dinosaur DNA, found in mosquitoes set in amber resin, to clone and reproduce real life dinosaurs. He breeds them all on an island off the coast of Costa Rica to build a theme park around them to profit on his discovery. A routine inspection made by archaeologists, businessman and investors soon turns into a disaster when the park’s defences shut down and the dinosaurs run amok.
Upon picking up the book of Jurassic Park, my thoughts were that I’d find it boring and uninteresting since I had watched the film over a dozen times since it was released. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
The pace at which Crichton wrote the book was electrifying. Even though I knew the outcome of the story, I still found myself turning the pages until four in the morning. Crichton had said in an interview that he only used 20% of the book when writing the screenplay for Spielberg, so the book has plenty to offer in terms of a new adventure in an old story. Unfortunately, readers still have to put up with John Hammond’s screaming grandchild, who is just as grating in the book as she is the film.
The book’s stand out character though is Dr Ian Malcolm, played by Jeff Goldblum, whose constant belittling of the park and Hammonds vision with dry humoured remarks offer an insight into the writer himself. In the years before his death, Crichton was a politically outspoken critic of global warming and the extent to which scientists and media have portrayed its disastrous consequences for future generations. It’s easy to see a comparison of sorts between Malcolm’s scepticism of the park and Crichton’s criticism of global warming. Malcolm was right about the park, is Crichton right about global warming?
Following FIFA’s announcement of their team of the year, a sense of unjust and scepticism soon set in. The team sheet is as follows;
Four Real Madrid players, five Barcelona players and two Manchester United players comprise this unimaginative list of footballers who have ruled 2011. Don’t get me wrong, these players have all contributed to the year in fine style with their sublime goals, incisive passing and will to win. That is not the issue. The issue is the heavy one sided nature of the selection. Three different clubs make up the entire XI, only two different leagues are represented with the split being nine from La Liga and only two for the Premier League. This seems very unfair for other players who have had an excellent year for their clubs, who have not been selected.
From a British perspective, journalists love to wax lyrical about Barcelona and Real Madrid. Sky Sports show La Liga games with Barca and Madrid too regularly, accompanied by programmes dedicated to analysing and discussing the Spanish League. Even airing ‘The Cesc Fabregas Show’ revolving around the ex-Arsenal midfielder and his progress with the Catalans, guarantee no Arsenal fan will be interested in that and given the long saga over whether he would leave or not boring the public to death, neither will many neutrals. ITV are the worst culprits for me when it comes to lauding these two teams. Their commentary on, arguably Arsenal’s finest game of 2011, their first leg 2-1 win against Barcelona in the Champions league, was bordering sickening every time they talked about the Spanish side. Jim Beglin and David Pleat unnecessarily glorified every single pass, shot, tackle, save and run Barca made, whilst Arsenal’s efforts to try and win the game were described as being futile. Commentators are meant to be impartial to who they are watching but surely their allegiances would be with the English team, in a European tie if any?
FIFA’s selections reflect this over exuberance.
To me the choices should highlight to the world a selection of players who have consistently performed at a high level for their club and country, stayed out of controversy in the press and have exuded an all round professional attitude to the game, whilst heavily contributing to their sides success.
The selections of Messi and Ronaldo are a no brainer in that respect. They are both on another planet in terms of football ability. I more have an issue with who was not picked.
As a replacement for Rooney I would have chosen Robin van Persie. Arsenal had a year to forget but van Persie has had a sensational year, just one goal shy of taking Alan Shearer’s record of most goals scored in a calendar year (35) in the premier league. This is something which is worthy of recognition. Rooney’s achievements in 2011 compared to van Persie’s are far inferior.
The Bundesliga saw the emergence of Borrusia Dortmund’s creative midfielder Mario Goetze, who at just 19 years old has made himself the first name on the team sheet for the German club. I would omit Xabi Alonso from FIFA’s XI and put Goetze in his place. Similarly to Jack Wilshere, before the 2010/11 season, Goetze had made just 5 appearances for his club but then went on to be an ever-present in his side. His age makes his exploits even more remarkable to, being named FIFA’s Golden Boy of 2011, ahead of Wilshere, Eden Hazard and Christian Eriksen and winning the Bundesliga.
Sticking with the Germans, I believe Philipp Lahm deserves a place in the full back position instead of Dani Alves. Captain of German giants Bayern Munich, the 5ft 7 left back has been irreplaceable in not only the Bavarians first XI but for his country as well. His consistency, professionalism, decisive tackling and surging runs make him Bayern’s ideal choice as captain. He would be ahead of Dani Alves purely because of Alves’ tendency to go to ground on soft challenges and subsequently nurse a fake injury. This is something FIFA will surely want to stamp out of the game.
Other players worthy of note are Mario Gomez’s scintillating form for Bayern, Neymar’s goal haul for Santos and his Goal of the Year effort alone, Eden Hazard’s participation in Lille’s title winning side of 2010/11 and his current form of nine goals and six assists this season show he is continuing to grow and Edinson Cavani’s superb form for Napoli continues from 33 goals last season to 14 so far this season.
There is an argument to suggest that the selection does not mean anything and that it’s another pointless accolade for players. I would not disagree with that argument. The selection represents FIFA’s way of thinking in that they promote and award those who have already been awarded heavily. Other players around the world, who have done just as much, if not more, deserve the credit that their performances have merited.
Encounters between these two sides in recent seasons have on the whole not disappointed in terms of world class football and quality goals. City’s last win against their rivals, in all competitions, came in last season’s FA cup semi final where Yaya Toure’s second half strike was enough to settle the tie. Despite just the one goal, the game was played at a fast and exhilarating pace.
The community shield on the 7th August was their first meeting this season. The red devils won 3-2 but the contest was hotly contested by City, who were 2-0 up at half time. Nani was able to create a winner in the 93rd minute, after a defensive mix up from Kompany.
Wayne Rooney’s fantastic Bicycle kick was the deciding goal in another even encounter in the two side’s last league meeting. In fact, City fans have to look back as far as February 2008 for their team’s last league win in the derby. So why might their meeting tomorrow be one to watch?
So far this season, both halves of Manchester have lit up the premier league with their lightening quick football and goals. Great individual performances have been aplenty for both sides with Wayne Rooney, Ashley Young, Nani, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones for united and Edin Dzeko, David Silva, Samir Nasri, Mario Balotelli and Sergio Aguero have all sparkled for City.
A glance at the table, and you will see that City lead with 22 points, with United trailing by just two points. A win for United will not only put them top, it would also bring City closer to the other teams close behind.A win for City would put them five points ahead and would give them great momentum to increase that lead.
How they might line up:
Manchester United- They will most likely play Nani and Young on the wings, Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic are sure to take the CB roles. If Sir Alex Ferguson opts to use Park Ji Sung, as he often does in the big games, then Rooney will most likely be up front with Park supporting. If Park does not play, Hernandez could be used up front with Rooney dropping just behind.
Manchester City- Mancini has a plethora of multi-million pound attacking talent at his disposal. Balotelli, Silva and Aguero are the ones he will most likely line up front leaving a disgruntled Edin Dzeko and frustrated Samir Nasri on the bench. Gareth Barry is sure to hold the midfield and Yaya Toure is most likely to be in front of him. Mancini though must be careful as Adam Johnson, Pablo Zabaleta and James Milner have all impressed when used, so they will want to start to.
Queens of the Stone Age- Queens of the Stone Age
Rekords Rekords, 1998
The album is an amalgamation of sorts between Josh Homme’s first band Kyuss and his new creation (QOTSA) after Kyuss split up in the early 90’s. Kyuss’s reputation, and success, was largely down to Homme’s guitar creating catchy head swaying riffs which stick in your head months after the first listen.This largelyunknown, and hard to find, debut album, from the Californian desert rockers, in 1998 contains many QOTSA fans festival favourites and shows the birth of their signature sound of electrifying fuzz riffs, deep bluesy bass lines and catchy lyrics.
Opening the album is ‘Regular John’, a song with drumming which you just cannot help but stomp your foot to. A mix of rock groove, with the bands trademark fuzz guitar, and delicate squeals make the song one of the best on the album. Homme’s unmistakable leering voice glides across the song, which fans more familiar with QOTSA will know and love.
‘Avon’ is a previous Desert Session’s recording, where Homme and twenty or so likeminded rock musicians gather at Homme’s ranch in Palm Desert to jam, and is also a mainstay on their tours to this day. It’s rolling guitar and steady drum beats repeat incessantly throughout, with a solo which grooves steadily with the march like beats.
‘If Only’ is perhaps one of the more pop like songs on the album with an opening riff that remains their most catchiest to date. The swinging harmony of the track is the perfect backdrop to Homme’s heartfelt lyrics like ‘those long long days with no escaping’.
The song which would epitomise Homme’s own assessment of QOTSA’s style as ‘robotic rock’ is ‘You Would Know’. The short and snappy riff repeated behind Homme’s melodic squeaks on top of his robotic voice. The heaviest sound of the album comes from ‘How to Handle a Rope’, a mix of deep fuzz infused guitar and a primitive drum beat which erupts into a chaotic solo at the end.
But there is no song on the album quite like the majestic ‘You Can’t Quit Me Baby’. From the opening infectiously catchy wavering bass line, to Homme’s iconic melodic croon ‘ahhing’ after every verse with contagious passion , to the song’s instrumental type break where the words, ‘your solid gold, I’ll see you in hell’ is harmonised perfectly with more subtle guitar overtones. The track doesn’t give in there though; the undeniable brilliance of the soaring solo, bouncing off the hazy bass line will stick in your head for years. Live renditions of this song have never failed to let fans down, and it remains the longest onstage jam session to date at fifteen minutes.
There are just a couple of songs however which don’t quite hit the mark. The final song ‘I Was a Teenage Hand Model’ plods along aimlessly without any signature QOTSA riffs or bluesy bass lines. The ending is just a mess of loud beeping noises. ‘Hispanic Impressions’ is a strange track which doesn’t seem to have a consistent beat throughout, making the odd time signature unsettling.
From a band which offers something different, yet always satisfying, in every album they make, this glorious debut is an absolute must listen. Due to be re released on March 7th with bonus tracks and a revamped sound, the album will most definitely not disappoint.