Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 review

So the year 2010 is ending tomorrow. Here some of my high/lowlights of the year.

Best album: The Suburbs by Arcade Fire. When these guys make music it's as if they make magic. Kanye's is close but I haven't heard i enough.

Best movie that I watched: I didn't watch a lot but I like The American (even though my missus hated it). There was something about that movie that make me think a lot after I came out.

Best book I've read: Eating the Dinosaur by Chuck Klosterman. If he was writing when I was still in uni my professional life would have been so different. The guy is a genius!

Best football game: Barcelona - Real Madrid 5 - 0. You know which one. In 50 years they will still be talking about that fooball game.

Best iPhone/iPad game: Angry Birds. I'm still hooked even though I finished all levels.

Best gadget: Having Spotify on Sonos. No need to buy CDs anymore, I can listen to whatever I want.

Best song: Fuck You - CeeLo Green. The hook, the sound, the words, the uplifting mood. A perfect pop song.

Best reunion: Take That with Robbie. Yes I like them, so what?

Best purchase I made: Dr Dre Beat headphones. I might look like a fool wearing them but the sound quality is amazing.

Trending it before it's a trend: five-fingered shoes.

Best concert: Vampire Weekend at Montreux Jazz Festival. They were awesome and very polite.

Buzzword: Bunga-Bunga. How Berlusconi is still a prime minister, not even the Italians know...

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

World Cup 2010

Here's what I thought of the World Cup 2010

Worst XI: Green; Ottamendi, Terry, Cannavaro, Evra; Felipe Melo, Kaita, Lampard; CRonaldo, Rooney, Anelka; coached by Domenech. All for the obvious reasons.

How did he miss that? Yakubu vs South Korea; Higuain missed a sitter (forgot against who); Robben in the final

The ref didn't see that? Lampard non-goal vs Germany; Tevez off-side goal vs Mexico

True fighting spirit: Landon Donovan

Best save: Luis Suarez vs Ghana

He was not missed: Michael Ballack

Trendy formation: 4-2-3-1
Totally uncool formation: 4-4-2

Best entertainer: Diego Armando Maradona

Most talked about during the World Cup: Mark van Bommel, Paul the Octopus, vuvuzelas

Has his head stuck up his own ass: Sepp Blatter (@seppblatter on twitter)

Team spirit: France

A joke: Howard Webb

And finally the best XI with explanation:
GK: Stekelenburg - he had an amazing World Cup. Not very known and lots of people (including the Dutch doubted him) but showed that he is a worthy successor of van der Sar. Only had one dodgy moment (Forlan's goal), but his stops denying Kaka, Fabregas, Forlan, and those Slovaks were world class. He'll be missed at Ajax though (no, he's not officially gone yet but any top team should will want him).

Defense: van der Wiel, Lugano, Pique, Lahm - last season, van der Wiel was the only player to play all Ajax' games and he's been constant, and he's performed amazingly well in the World Cup. Lugano is a true leader in the Uruguayan defense. Pique is probably the best defender with a ball at his feet, he can actually pass the ball properly. And Lahm is one of the best full-backs around and he can play both sides as comfortably.

Defensive midfield (because 4-2-3-1 is trendy): van Bommel, Schweinsteiger - I'll get to van Bommel later, and Schweini played without having to serve Ballack and made German tick. He was at the heart of what was good about Germany.

Attacking midfield: Sneijder, Xavi, Mueller - Sneijder's passing ability is unbelievable, he can pass the ball in almost any situation. Xavi is still the master of the midfield, the king of the ball. And Mueller is a hard working youngster doing everything right.

Attack: Villa - it's a toss-up between Villa and Forlan, but because Villa plays more for the team (whereas Forlan it's all about him), he gets the spot.

Coach: Maradona - but of course.

I hear you say "van Bommel? VAN BOMMEL? why? WHY?". Well, I believe van Bommel was one of the best defending midfielders. Sure he kicks players around, but he does it so well not to get caught. His first yellow was in the semis for dissent! That means he is able to play on the limit and stick to that limit for 90 minutes. No laps of concentration. And is defending ability is actually the less important facet of his game. He can pass the ball around, create openings, and works hard.

At PSV he won 3 Dutch titles and twice Dutch player of the year. At Barcelona he won the Champions league (and played in the final). And last year he was instrumental for Bayern, winning the double and losing in the Champions league final. You don't get all that by just kicking people around!

He's the type of player that any team wants. And he doesn't care about being the most hated player around - another good quality (can't see that in Gerrard or CRonaldo). So for the balance of my best XI, he's in my midfield.

Can't wait for Euro 2012. Hopefully Paul will still be around, I will then bet according to his predictions.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Howard Webb

After last night's final, I am still pissed off. Holland was in the final against Spain and it should have been a great game.

Before I go on, let me clarify these points first:
1. I am a big Holland supporter - having been born and raised there.
2. Spain deservedly won the match, they were the better team.
3. Holland can only blame Robben for not scoring.

However, I am still mightily pissed off at Howar Webb, the English referee. He brandished 15 yellow cards during the game and he never ever had the game under control. Yes, Nigel de Jong should have been sent off. But he didn't because it's the final and if you don't send him off for that challenge (intentional or not), well that just sets the tone. Webb then overcompensates by handing out yellows way to easy for the Dutch and not so much for the Spanish.

Howard Webb was the one who refereed the Spain Switzerland match and after the game the whole of Spain was furious at him. On top of that, all of the English media have been brandishing the Dutch football as thuggish and Mark van Bommel became the most hated man in football (outside of Holland of course). I'm sure those things influenced his decision making during the final, resulting in a poorer final than it could have been.

Basically he should be consistent. Do it according to the rules. You kick somebody in the chest with studs up - RED. You wave your hands asking for a car - YELLOW. The last man tries to stop an attacker with his arms - red. A shot deflected off a defender - corner.

I'm alright now with Holland losing. But I'm still pissed off at Howard Webb.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Holland vs Brazil, World Cup 2010

So in the quarterfinal Holland will be facing Brazil. As a Holland supporter I want Holland to win and my heart says they will. My head though isn't sure.

I still remember 1994. Holland vs Brazil in the quarterfinals. Brazil scored twice in the first half (the second goal from Bebeto with Romario in an off-side position but not interfering with play). Then Holland replied with two goals in the second half (one of them from Aron Winter) before Branco dived, got a freekick and blasted it in. Ronald Koeman kicking him when he was down probably made his shot harder. Holland met Brazil again in 1998, in the semis and it went to penalties.

For this world cup both team play very similar. A defense of four with the full-backs going up to support the attack. Two defensive midfielders in front of the defense to shield the defense. And four attacking players who can do what they want.

Holland is the only team that hasn't conceded a goal from open play but then again none of the teams they play against had an attacking trio the quality of Robinho-Kaka-Luis Fabiano.

The only light I can see is that Robben will be playing against Michel Bastos, arguably Brazil's weakest link. But then again Gio van Bronckhorst, 35, will have to fend off Maicon and Elano/Dani Alves.

Whatever happens, the game on Friday will be a classic. And I will cheer on the Dutch!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

FC Barcelona

After Ajax Amsterdam, my second favorite team in Europe is Barcelona. This is mainly because there is such a strong link between Ajax and Barcelona (think Johan Cruijff). Also because Barcelona plays football the way Ajax intends to. Where Ajax fails, Barcelona excels.

Last week during the Arsenal-Barcelona match in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinal, Barcelona played a blinding 20 minutes. In the first half their performance was among the best I've ever seen and many agreed. That they didn't score was just a sidenote, it was the passing, position play, speed and the way they left the opposition all confused (and Arsenal isn't just a football club either). The game ended 2-2 so all still to play for in the next leg.

Last night was the return leg in Barcelona. Arsenal pinned their hope on Theo Walcott but Barcelona have Lionel Messi. And Xavi. After Barcelona conceded, Messi just ran riot. Nothing and nobody could stop him. Behind him Xavi was pulling all the strings. Pass the ball there, run here, receive ball and pass straight away, look and run, pass, always in constant motion. Everytime Messi has the ball he becomes a threat. Scoring 4 goals is just proof what he is capable of.

I love watching Barcelona play. There is a certain arrogance and class to their game. They are adhering to the first basic principle of football: the opposition cannot score if they don't have the ball (see Johan Cruijff). The fluidity of the passing, the constant movements and the early pressure when they lose the ball.

I really hope Barcelona wins next weekend against Real Madrid - they will then clinch the Spanish League. Then the Champions League. If they can hold on to their title, it will show how great a team they are.

In any case, they already showed the most amazing football last week. Messi showed he is God last night. And he is only22...

Thursday, March 04, 2010


It's already March and today I just bought the second album of the year. Yes, my music consumption has gone down dramatically. It used to be about 2 albums per week, and now 2 albums in 2 months.

The first album of the year that I bought was Them Crooked Vultures. I'm a big fan of Dave Grohl and I couldn't just let that supergroup go without listening to it several times. The second one I just bought is Owl City's Ocean Eyes. Mainly because I have Fireflies stuck in my head ever since I saw it on MTV Austria back in December.

Both of them I bought on iTunes. No physical CD, just an electronic file that surely will be deleted one day. Ten years ago I was against downloading music, my reasoning being that the artwork and all that is part of the album package. But when you buy from iTunes you get the artwork anyway and any other details you might want to know you can find on the internet.

Another way of listening to music is Spotify. I have a premium subscription and I can type in anything I want to listen and it will play - even on my iPhone. Since most music that I have bought I only listened to 2 or 3 times, Spotify makes perfect sense for me.

It does not mean that I will never buy CDs again. Next week I will definitely get Plastic Beach. And when Radiohead, U2, Coldplay, Muse, Foo Fighters, Weezer, and some other bands come out with an album I need to get a CD to complete my collection of their albums.

The experience of listening and purchasing music has definitely changed and I am changing with it. God knows how we listen to music in 20 years time. I hope I still have a copy of Owl City's Ocean Eyes somewhere though because Fireflies certainly lifts me up.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Musings over The Noughties

In a couple of weeks we'll be entering a new decade. The Noughties will be over, replaced by "2010-2019". It's been an interesting decade and here are some personal musings over the decade.

* The fall of MTV.
In 2000 I was still watching MTV regularly and I still remember being influenced by them. I picked up on Coldplay by watching their music video of Shiver (this was before Yellow - when the everyone else jumped on that bandwagon). There were some interesting programs. In 2009 I barely watch MTV and last time I accidentally flicked on it a program called "16 and pregnant" was on. Oh how the mighty have fallen! MTV used to be the cool epitome of music and pop culture. A marketing channel for pop stars. A place to listen and see the coolest acts in the world. Now all those have been replaced by MySpace and YouTube and MTV is no longer a music television.

* Social networking
Ten years ago I kept in touch with friends and family by email and the occassional phone call. These days I just look what they are saying on facebook/twitter/koprol and think I know what they are doing. No emails, no phone calls. In many ways I have lost touch with many people, even though they are my facebook friends.

* Global warming
Probably the issue of the decade. Ten years ago nobody batted an eyelid if you flew across the world then got into your Hummer to have some fresh tuna. These days everybody would bat an eyelid if you did.

* iPod
The noughties is also the decade where technology just went crazy. And the case in point is the iPod. The first iPod came out in 2001. A friend of mine got it and it look beautiful. There was a wheel (that actually moved) and some buttons (that were physical buttons) around the wheel. Fast forward 6 years and Apple came out with an iPhone, an evolution of the iPod. Now almost everybody has an iPod or an iPhone. Ten years ago I was still walking around with a chunky CD player. At one point I had a MD player but that only lasted a couple of years.

And not only did Apple revolutionize the way we listen to music, they also revolutionized the way we buy music. Now you can buy songs easily via iTunes. Some of you might say Napster set the revolution, but Napster wasn't about buying music, it was about sharing music. Apple actually made it work, to sell music online. Radiohead then went that extra step further with In Rainbows.

And all that because of the iPod that was invented in 2001.

* The Wire
The best television series ever.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Snow on the road

It snowed last night and evrything is white. Yippee!

Unfortunately with snow comes the big 4x4s driven by soccermums. Yes, those mums who drive their big-ass cars without knowing how to drive properly and it drives me mad!

This morning I was driving the missus' car (a Mini) on a road with a bit of snow on it. In front of me: an Audi Q7. Its speed: 30 kph. Seriously.

Now the soccermum (yes it was a soccermum) in it probably thinks "there is snow, must drive carefully" but what she ought to know is that her car is big, it has snowtires and four-wheel drive. It can do bloody more than 30 kph on a road with some snowflakes on them!

No wonder people get road rage from driving behind these spackers!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thierry Henry's handball

The Hand of Frog. Everybody knows about it, everybody has an opinion about it. Here's mine, albeit a bit late.

I was on holiday when I saw this on CNN. At first I just wanted to find out the score, as I knew France won 1-0 in Ireland. As I was watching the highlights, Ireland was 1-0 up and the game went into overtime. France got a freekick and scored. My first reaction: offside! Two french players were clearly offside. Then the slow-motion replay showed that Thierry Henry handled the ball before Gallas headed it into the net.

The same confusion can be seen and heard on the youtube clip I posted. The french commentator said it was a clear offside and then realised Henry handled the ball.

So What?

"So What?" indeed. For me the bigger issue is that because of that handball, France is going to the World Cup and not Ireland. The game was tight and at that moment both teams still had a chance (it wasn't as if the French were up 2-0 already).

Yeah, but players cheat all the time and refs always make mistakes
True. But players who cheat don't go become all honest straight after the game. Thierry Henry came clean straight after the game. Either you come clean directly to the ref or keep it for a couple of weeks before coming clean. And refs do make mistakes, that is part of the game. But as a ref, if you see six or seven players claim a handball, then something must have been wrong. The ref did consult his assistant but they both didn't see anything.

A replay?
No. A replay will set the wrong precedent. If this game is replayed, then slowly every other team will want a replay. I can imagine Chelsea asking for every European game to be replayed and any team who lost against Man Utd will do the same. No replay, the ref has blown the whistle and the result should stand.

FIFA is corrupt that's why there will be no replay.
FIFA is definitely corrupt, no doubting that. But if it was Robbie Keane who handled for the Irish winning game, FIFA would still do the same. Partly it's because its run by fools (Sepp Blatter was put in UEFA by a certain Adi Dassler, he worked in the watch industry without any football experience before that!) and partly it's because the rules say so.

So what should be done then?
I believe that Thierry Henry should be given a punishment and the best one is that he shouldn't be allowed to play in South Africe. Divers and aggresive tacklers do get punishment after the game, so Henry should get one too. Although I doubt that will happen because Henry is a big name and carries a lot of sponsorship too. And FIFA should try putting another linesman on the backline (which they are trying to do for the World Cup).

Didn't Roy Keane blame the Irish?

Yeah but he's a grumpy old man.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Some (random) thoughts

Just a couple of things I've learned/noted/need to jot down

  • When renting a car in Germany, pay a bit extra to get a more powerful car. I rented a cheap Opel Corsa and had to pay the price on the Autobahn. The car is barely able to do 150 kph convincingly and then it was being overtaken by almost every other car on the Autobahn.
  • Muse's The Resistance: OTT camp prog-rock/pop. Absolutely fabulous! We vs They lyrics? Check. Weird sounds? Check. Timbaland beats? Check. Three-part symphony? Check.
  • Spotify is great! I still buy CDs but before I buy them I can listen to them. Before Spotify I would have definitely bought the Monsters Of Folk CD. Now having listened to it on Spotify I don't need to, because that album I'll probably listen to twice or three times. And having it on my iPhone? Genius!
  • I'm still in withdrawal mode after finishing The Wire. Don't know what to watch now.
There are some other things on my mind. Hopefully I can put them on my blog when I have the willpower to do so.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Spotify on iPhone

I've been using Spotify premium for about 3 months now and I love it. I can listen to almost anything I want wherever I am as long as I have a computer near me. Now it will get even better as Spotify have announced that Apple have approved their iPhone app. With this app I can listen to anything on my iPhone via Wi-Fi and 3G and I can even save playlists to listen to them offline.

The premium subscription is probably the best thing in the world. For 10 Euros a month I can listen to almost anything. Therefore my CD buying habit is taking a BIG hit. Where before I used to buy a CD or two a week, now I'm on one CD per month. Everything else I just listen to on Spotify, especially as I did have a habit of buying CDs which I only have listened to less than three times.

The only problem is that for the moment the Spotify app is only available in the UK, France, Sweden, Spain, Norway and Finland. Hopefully it will be available where I live soon because I need it. Yes, I need it!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Wire - the best TV show ever

I've been reading on the internet for a while about The Wire being the best television show ever. In March during a visit to the UK I decided to buy the first season DVD. I could have gone for the whole boxset for Season 1-5 as there are only 5 seasons, but wasn't sure if I will actually like it.

I put on the first episode and the show was a bit slow. There was a lot of swearing going-on but slowly it caught me. What caught me first was how in the show it wasn't simply good guy vs bad guy. No, in The Wire almost everybody and everything is gray. Sure there is the main cop McNulty but he's not the Horatio Caine straight ass cop who can solve everything and anything with just taking off some sunglasses. And in D'Angelo Barksdale (the first of many drug dealers in this series) it wasn't the usual drug dealer.

The story goes out nicely and before I knew it I was hooked. Each episode is about 55 minutes long and last weekend I managed to watch 10 episodes! I'm almost done with season 4 and I have season 5 ready. I should have bought the boxset.

The Wire is not about good vs bad, it's not a cop vs drugs series, it's more than that. It shows all the politicking - in the police, drugs, city hall, schools, even the corners. It shows characters that are supposed to be good but with big flaws and vice versa. It shows the intricacy of a big city (Baltimore) and how everyone is tangled up in it. And it's amazing the number of characters you have to keep up with as there are tons.

Whereas with Lost, Prison Break, Heroes and the likes I watched the next episode to know what is going on next or to understand what has happened before (until my interest runs out), with The Wire I watch the next episode knowing well what is going to happen but wanting to see how it is going to happen. And that makes for great viewing.

Definitely the best television show ever.