gambitch - now available in blue
Our constant efforts to reinvent ourselves reveal how much we fear our own images.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

The signs are not good. My injured toe is bleeding, although not profusely. Still, it could be an indication that my toenail is coming a little loose.

Let's hope it recovers quickly enough. I still have plenty of movement to do.

gambitch [ 2:08 AM]

Friday, January 21, 2005

It has begun, the slow torturous process of suffocating the TV viewership ratings of the channel we love and they hate.

They're replaying this show they broadcast a few years ago. It's a Chinese martial arts show, and the show had originally been canned when it got its first run. Yet in that short period of time it already got incredibly bad reviews because the story just stopped making sense. The show had no plot, and started coming up with strange stuff like flying rocks and characters who looked more like ET. Now, ET has no real place in traditional Chinese martial arts-type stories, so obviously it was totally unacceptable to the Chinese audience who watched the show. That was why we all stopped watching this rubbish and decided to support the channel we loved (which was showing something else much more credible). That was why ratings fell so disastrously. The viewers had voted with their remotes.

But no, it appears that the evil powers that be did not realize this, that we turned down a show that we just felt we didn't want to watch. In an attempt to insult the viewers' intellect, and kill off the viewership ratings on the channel we love so much, they are now re-running this previously canned show - on our channel, no less! The newspapers today carried a story saying that the evil powers that be felt it was unlucky to receive low viewership and are confident that it'll pick up this time. No, it won't, and even if it does, all it means is that the audience have become stupid. Either way, they're trying to take us TV viewers for a ride, on a flying stone that feels more like an alien spaceship, no less.

I'd rather that they just killed this channel and stopped airing anything on it now. Then we've all got good reason to protest and drown them in our spit. Instead, they're trying to kill our love before they kill the channel. What evil mind-altering stuff are they going to try next?

gambitch [ 2:16 PM]

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

I don't know why Adam and Rebecca actually listened to that idiotic Jonathan and Yielded Freddy and Kendra on the latest leg of The Amazing Race. I would have thought that the extremely irritating Jonathan would be the one who would get the Yield. They are almost the universal object of hate this season. Mind you, there have been villains in previous editions of the show, but they're usually villains who would receive some level of support from some people for some reason or other. Jonathan and Victoria? No. I cannot find myself or anyone else having reason to support this team. Thank goodness we don't have to - they have been eliminated!

Gratefully, Hayden and Aaron finished first and overturned their deficit in the last leg. Lots of people have had bad comments about Hayden, but I don't think she's half that bad. She's not the prettiest model around, and people have all sorts of things to say about getting her to wear some clothes (and a bra), but she makes decent reality TV. She's a bit of a noisemaker, but the type you could live with.

The Race is going to be so much better now...

gambitch [ 10:51 PM]

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Time to give all my Bond songs a run-out!

It's perhaps one of the better-known secrets that the trailer music for The Two Towers was actually ripped (with composer's permission, I assume) from the Requiem For A Dream movie soundtrack by Clint Mansell. The track name, for those interested, is Lux Aeterna. Mansell's original tracks were played mostly with a single violin lead (I think - it's definitely a strings type instrument). On the other hand, the music for The Two Towers was performed by a full-blown orchestra, with a couple of non-orchestra instruments thrown in. The primary difference in terms of effect is that a single violin produces a sound quality that pierces the air with a razor-sharp edge, while the orchestra version is much more tympanic, with an associated grandness that sets the heart abeat.

It would be interesting to hear the effects when the two versions cross into each other, with a single-violin opening concluded by a full orchestra finish. Except, of course, would any orchestra be interested in doing that? The Kronos Quartet, perhaps?

gambitch [ 9:35 PM]

Monday, January 17, 2005

Roy Keane's autobiography, circa 2002, makes for some absolutely compelling reading. I have just finished the book, after storming through it for the best part of two days. I would love to quote a few paragraphs from the book, but I don't know what to exclude. On the other hand, Roy Keane tells it mostly as it is, right down to the expressive expletives. No real attempts to clean it up, this was typical, if not quite vintage, Roy Keane.

I would make this the recommended reading for all people who are into the competition business. The only obstacle to that, of course, is that many people aren't exactly into football and therefore do not know Roy Keane. Of course, I'm a Manchester United fan, and there are things that make you a Manchester United fan through and through once you shake off the glory-hunter tag. To truly support Manchester United is to see past the glory-hunting. It involves things like understanding Munich 1958, the legacy of the Busby Babes, that first European Cup win ten years later, the doldrums that were the '70s, Martin Buchan, Bryan Robson and Norman Whiteside, the Sparky-lit late '80s and early '90s, Ryan Giggs, Eric Cantona, Dolly and Daisy, Becks, Roy Keane, and, of course, everything else. I'm not there already, but, more than the average '90s convert, I guess I am willing to learn.

Football is a stronger game than basketball in terms of emotions. Watching the NBA you would think it is pretty easy to sink hoops. It largely is, unless you're a really lousy shooter like me. Precise shooting into a very small area is not my thing. Taking shots at a goal many times larger than a football is somewhat easier because there is greater leeway. But then again, you don't often get a football scoreline like 104-96 unless you're playing some really amateur game and you're out there on the pitch from sun-up to sundown. Football matches are much tighter than that, and while this is an impediment to the American public's interest in embracing the game, it hasn't stopped men from the rest of the world from rabidly following it.

It's a massive game, football, and when you're supporting a club like Manchester United, with its rich history and traditions as well as a modern setup that matches up to that history and those traditions, it just totally blows your mind away. There's a case to be made for supporting your local club as well, your Stokes and Barnsleys, even Exeter! But trust me, there is nothing that compares to looking at setups like Manchester United, thoroughly, from roof to basement, and examining every single small detail to learn why they succeed so well. Every new revelation about just how the club works leads me to see how the club is entrenched in its desire to win, as often as their will succeeds in driving them forward and their bodies can carry them.

I've said it before, but I'll say it again. My two biggest idols in football are Roy Keane and Sir Alex. Both have that unquenchable desire to win, to keep pushing and to keep challenging. Both are uncompromising and total in their approach. Sir Alex is a proven manager, not just for one season, but for virtually an entire dynasty. And while Roy Keane is not yet a proven manager, he is intensely combative, and he will learn everything he wants to learn about how to increase his chances of winning, legitimately of course. He is a hard tackler, but he knows how to pass, and he can summon the strength in him to conjure a goal if the need arises. As the famous Saipan fallout with Mick McCarthy showed, he also knew about things off the pitch and outside the 90 minutes.

To learn about Keano is to learn just what it means to become one of the best, to learn what it is like working with the very best, as well as working with people who don't become the very best. Of course, choosing mediocrity is something entirely legitimate, but if you want to believe you are God's gift to whatever it is you do and blame everything else in life for pretty much screwing it all up for you, then you're the one who isn't living up to the potential you strongly believe you have. If you can't accept the harsh but simple fact that you're the one with the mental fragility, who bottled it and couldn't hold the nerve, then I'm sorry to tell you that there is not one reason to feel sorry for you. If you work at it and it doesn't come off, at least you've tried. Maybe not hard enough this time, but then there is justification for having regrets. But if you work at it hard enough and apply yourself enough, then there should be some kind of confidence that you can go out there and win.

There is, deep down in every fierce competitor's heart of hearts, a sports fan within. An ardent, fervent, passionate one. There has to be; what else can drive them? Fame? Try your hand at showbiz. Fortune? There's good money to be made playing in the stock market. Glory? Go fight a war or something. For the truest of competitors, it is about both the process and the end result. We all want to win, but we are equally if not more obsessed about getting there. Every little step matters to us. We know that every small thing we do is geared towards getting us to win, but we are also aware of just how every little discrete step that we do is intended to get us there. To me, that is the marvel of sports - a passion that isn't just blind chanting, but actually seeing how we're going to get ourselves on the way to ultimate victory.

Because I'm very unlikely to ever become a manager at a football club, I will just about never have the opportunity to immerse myself in doing things like planning out the next pre-season training camp, where to go, what to do, who to play exhibition warm-up games against, right down to the small detail of which airline to take. Of course, I can do some of that playing computer games like Total Club Manager, but computer games being what they are, some of these things just get abstracted away to speed up and smoothen game play. Of course we have to keep in mind that a single day in game time is much shorter than a single day in real life - if such a time compression didn't exist, computer games would be so much more boring. The point of all this, though, is just to say that I can at best sympathize and have a little imagination about what life must be like for Sir Alex and other football club managers. I can never fully empathize, because I'll never be one of them.

That, however, should not stop me, or anyone else who has read Sir Alex and Keano's autobiographies, from drawing the lessons and applying them in another context, like managing a club in another sport. There are only two things that can stop anyone from doing that application. The first, obviously enough, is having the opportunity; if the raffle tickets aren't up for sale, you can't win the prize. Provided you grab that opportunity and get your two feet in the door, however, the second part comes along - just what you do after that. And the answer is a wee bit more complicated than buying a ticket for the raffle.

gambitch [ 12:26 AM]

Sunday, January 16, 2005

I have been downed by multiple injuries thanks to today's game. On the catalogue, I have mild ligament damage on my right wrist (my writing hand!), a couple of painful knocks on my right lower leg, and a massive blood clot forming in my right big toe. All par for the course, to be sure, in a game of football, but it doesn't make it any less unpleasant. Fifteen years or so of injury-free football - except the odd knock of course, I have never even suffered from cramps halfway through a game - and suddenly I find my fine record wiped out in one morning with multiple injuries.

Fortunately, I retain the ability to write and type without too much fuss (although I'll have to be really careful with how I use the mouse now), and I can walk normally with the usual shoes. I'm not exactly a sandals person, which is just as well because shoes would give my toes better protection.

On a more positive note, I had the most amazing day as a forward. Eight or nine shots at goal! Quite a personal record of sorts. While I missed them all, there is nothing bad about getting the chances and trying shots. Besides, I usually miss, so that isn't altogether unusual. The keeper fluffed one of my shots, though, so someone else managed to bang in the rebound, which means that, in some infinitesimally small way, I managed to make a contribution. Besides pulling off a few saves earlier, which led to my wrist injury, of course.

Managed to read the papers earlier, which highlighted yet another Jerzy Dudek blunder that let a Rooney shot go past him. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that every soft concession from a goalkeeper today was greeted with references to the Liverpool custodian. Dudek tends to have bad days against Manchester United, although he is, in all fairness, no David 'Calamity' James. It just seems that he saves his mistakes for United. Poor man. I'm glad he's not on United's payroll though!

gambitch [ 3:12 PM]


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