Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Horrifying football wallpapers

Oh boy, some of these are absolutely horrific. A collection of the worst football wallpapers you could care to imagine. Check them out here on my latest for Balls.co.uk.

Scary!

Some of them are horrible, Some of them are just mind boggling. The range of obsolete, semi-unknown players on display is impressive. After you flick down through enough of them, you end up remembering that a lot of people spent a lot of time on these.

And that's terrifying in itself.

Just...what?

Monday, November 10, 2014

What up, Ukraine?!

Every now and then the Internet throws something funny at you. Check out this blog's viewer stats broken down by country.



Hey Ukraine! What's up?! I had no clue Irish baseball or US sports in particular were so popular in the Ukraine. I triple checked and I don't think I said anything to piss you guys in the Ukraine off, ever, but, please do correct me if I am wrong!

In the meantime, thanks for coming, and, I have always been a big fan of Andriy Shevchenko


The irresponsible callousness of Irish TV show ‘Love/Hate’

Ireland is a funny little island at times. Perhaps in part due to its relatively small population and subsequently intertwined gossip networks, perhaps due to the fact there’s relatively little else to do in the evenings, we tend to gobble up ‘hit’ TV shows like a fat guy gobbles up cheeseburgers at McDonalds. They infiltrate all levels of the Irish entertainment World, and set in like a plague amongst a hungry populace ready to eat it all up. Give us the TV show, give us the related YouTube clips and the vines, give us the talk-show appearances and the hyperbolic daily-rag-newspaper ‘specials’ on the show.



I realise fully I am in a considerable minority in that I have a boat load of issues with this stupid little TV show that’s gripping Ireland as we speak. Love/Hate, we’ll call it LH going forward, is many things. First and foremost it’s a sensationalized dramatization of a tiny percentage of the drugs world in Ireland. It is massively irresponsible, and is, in my opinion, completely the wrong TV show for Ireland at this moment in time, at the juncture in Irish society. It is guilty of pandering in its sleaziest form and finally, it is a contextually wildly inaccurate portrayal of Irish society today.

First of all, LH is guilty of a sick level of sensationalizing, over inflating the impact of a very small percentage group within the Irish illegal drugs world. If you were to believe LH, Dublin in particular is basically worse than the Baltimore of the early 2000s, so brilliantly depicted on The Wire. Make no mistake, sections of Baltimore were a no-go area at that time. For anyone who has read David Simon’s brilliant book on the subject, ‘Homicide’, the show The Wire told the story brilliantly, and with very little hyperbole. Baltimore actually was that bad.

Dublin is not.

Sure, it’s bad in many ways. The illegal drugs issue is very bad, and people, families and kids are falling through the cracks, dropping unassisted by a Government and a police force either unwilling or unable to save and or protect them from a life spent in drugs. The sick re-packaging of this story by LH, turning it into some kind of sexy drama, with young faces, gun fights and dramatic incidents, is an ugly lie.

You want to argue that LH is not sensationalized? Go ahead and google ‘Love/Hate’ and click on the images tab.

Dramatization/sensationalization, moi?

You want to argue that RTE are entitled to dramatize the drugs world in Ireland? Okay so. That’s where the irresponsible nature of LH rears its ugly head. The characters. Go ahead and stick your head in the sand if you like, but Ireland’s teen-youth in particular are absolutely lapping this stuff up. They are changing their social network profile pictures and handles to incorporate LH characters pictures and names. They are sitting in fast-food restaurants loudly talking about drugs. They are brazenly purchasing drugs on the street in the cold light of day.

In short, the TV show LH is empowering Ireland’s youth to watch, enjoy, act out, live in and soak up Ireland’s drug world.

Again, go play emu and bury your head in the sand if you like, but the younger generations of Ireland are absolutely loving this TV show, and, sorry kids, they aren’t smart enough to know what to copy and what not to copy.

This leads me to the aspect of pandering.

You might be sitting there thinking ‘screw this guy, we don’t have a drugs problem’, well, sorry,  if you think that, then you are oblivious, and you are a victim of RTE and LH pandering to you. They are showing you these idiots running around with guns and drugs, having sex and living these fast-paced sexy lives, and you are soaking it all up because you don’t think there’s a real problem with drugs. It’s either that, or you don’t care, and I don’t know which of those categories you want to belong to, but if you completely disagree with me, go ahead and pick one.

LH is pandering in its sleaziest, lowest form, by a national TV station, over a frankly gormless population that is swallowing it all up happily. We sit there in our comfy suburban homes watching this stupid TV show so we can talk about so-and-so shooting so-and-so or whoever screwing whoever in last night’s episode. Meanwhile, for those whose lives are ruined by drugs, today is just another day itching, scrounging, fighting and dying in a nasty, ugly world completely devoid of the sexy, sensationalized nature of LH.

Most of all, what this irresponsible show is completely lacking is context. Sure, there are a tiny proportion of idiots involved in the illegal drugs trade running around with a lot of money, a few old guns and a lot of time on their hands with which to conduct dramatic drugs-related incidents. There’s no denying it. What LH is abjectly missing, and therefore deliberately misleading everyone who watches it, is the true context of the drugs world in Dublin and Ireland.

Drugs in Ireland is that sad, haggard couple, completely strung out, pushing a toddler in a trolley down O’Connell street, asking tourists for a euro for a youth hostel. Drugs in Ireland is creepy 30-50 year old men with backpacks wandering around our streets in broad daylight selling pills, tablets and weeds to 15 and 16 year olds. Drugs in Ireland is the boarded up houses of former drugs dealers. Drugs in Ireland is a slew of young men and women sitting in semi abandoned houses smoking weed all day long as their lives slip away around them.

None of those things are quite as sexy or as dramatic as the garbage LH tries to peddle, and in that we see clearly the worst aspect of LH, its deliberate, callous and misleading glorification and dramatization of drugs in Ireland.  They are feeding us an irresponsible, pandering and misleading pile of trash, and, as always, Ireland is gobbling it up.

Mexico is currently ripping itself apart in grief and trauma after the horrific murder of 43 young students by a drugs gang acting in collusion with a corrupt local mayor and police force. This was able to occur in a society where illegal drugs are an everyday way of life, an accepted entity that has gripped an entire nation.

Obviously Ireland has a long, long way to fall before it slips into that level or horrible tragedy, however big disasters come off the back of smaller steps leading to same. Walk around the streets of Dublin, Cork, Limerick or Waterford and see for yourself, there are disgusting, sleazy, ugly older men wandering around with backpacks full of illegal drugs, selling them in broad daylight to teenagers who are lapping them up, grabbing at a taste of the drugs world, that same world so gratuitously glorified by Ireland’s state television station, RTE, on the irresponsible, callous and completely misleading show, Love/Hate.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Thoughts on 'Gone Girl'

There's a great line in '30 Rock' where Tina Fey turns to Alec Baldwin and says;

'Well, you just hate everyone, don't you?!' 

Much like Baldwin's character in 30 Rock,  it's apparent 'Gone Girl' director David Fincher doesn't suffer fools easily, and thoroughly enjoys making fun of them. He's also pretty pissed off at many of societies vagaries and thoroughly enjoys laying them bare for us. He does this in 'Seven', in 'Fight Club' and now in 'Gone Girl', where Fincher lays waste to the media, elements of the police, the legal profession, suburban St. Louis, over-bearing parents and snooty, rich business men too. No one escapes Fincher's acerbic eye.

'Gone Girl'
'Gone Girl' 


The basic premise of 'Gone Girl' starts with a married woman going missing under suspicious circumstances and the story runs off in dozens directions from there. There's basically no point in outlining the story as any commentary would be spoiler heavy. Suffice to say, it's riveting from start to finish.

Riveting for me anyway. I do wonder about some movie goers. Be it the chatty, loud, obnoxious middle aged couple that made me choose to move seats, or the dozens of people that complained audibly, after it all ended, about the plot, you have to wonder why some people bother going to the cinema.

That latter group, I would love to ask them what exactly they expected, Sly Stallone to swoop in, kill the bad guys and deliver a catchy quip as the credits roll?

If you're not going to open your mind and let the movie maker tell you a story, then what's the point?

Back to the movie itself, 'Gone Girl' is smooth, stylish and zips along at a frenetic pace, to the point you are surprised when the couple of hours are gone.

Ben Affleck delivers the performance of his lifetime, for me anyway, and explores every inch of his character. I suspect he has some fun exploring the perception his suspect husband is smug and lacks the 'correct' emotions for the given situation.

'Gone Girl'


Tyler Perry is nothing short of a charming revelation in a serious role, he fills the screen brilliantly as a high profile lawyer, and leaves you wanting more. There are plenty of other excellent supporting performances, and David Fincher's usual technical team excel as always in making his vision as aesthetically brilliant as possible.

Fincher always has a great handle on what he wants to do musically in his movies, and the soundtrack is absolutely mesmeric.


It has to be noted strongly that Rosamund Pike is also something of a revelation, perfectly cast as a spoilt, only-child, upper-class young lady who goes missing, igniting a massive search for her. She is quite literally perfect for the role, and the depths to which it evolves.

Most of all, 'Gone Girl' is a provocative, entertaining and sometimes shocking movie. It has some good depth to it, and if you give Fincher a chance, the way he tells the story is a nice two fingers to the pervasive World of formulaic movie making we live in today.

 'Gone Girl'
 'Gone Girl'

Thursday, September 25, 2014

I'm boycotting ESPN for 3 weeks

As you may or may not know already, ESPN in its infinite wisdom has suspended Bill Simmons for 3 weeks in light of negative comments he made about the NFL. Yes, the NFL. Not ESPN. However, someone in the NFL must have been angered by these comments and must have subsequently made an angry call to ESPN, who bent over as usual and took it.

Bill Simmons suspended


If you recall, ESPN once ran an article on LeBron but then took it down hours later because LeBron's team didn't like it (here it is in full if you are so inclined).

Simmons is a very large proportion of what is 'good' about ESPN, for me anyway. Sure, he is New England everything, or at least he used to be, but his articles are entertaining and generally pretty knowledgeable. He is definitely a well meaning guy, and his heart is, by and large, in the right place. For me, he has every right to call foul on the NFL, and the fact ESPN has suspended him does nothing but make a further mockery of the site.

For the record, Simmons said

"I really hope somebody calls me or emails me and says I'm in trouble for anything I say about Roger Goodell. Because if one person says that to me, I'm going public. You leave me alone. The commissioner's a liar and I get to talk about that on my podcast. … Please, call me and say I'm in trouble. I dare you''

ESPN 'retaltaited' by suspending him and saying this

"Every employee must be accountable to ESPN and those engaged in our editorial operations must also operate within ESPN's journalistic standards. We have worked hard to ensure that our recent NFL coverage has met that criteria. Bill Simmons did not meet those obligations in a recent podcast, and as a result we have suspended him for three weeks."

I am disgusted by this cowardly action, ESPN should be standing by it's journalists, not throwing them under the bus. However the key to understanding this stab in the back is, as is so often the case in corporate America, money. ESPN has invested over 15 billion dollars in the NFL and they are clearly going to protect that investment quite aggressively.

Even  if it means suspending their own talent, should they dare to besmirch the name of the NFL.

Well, screw you ESPN. You want to suspend one of the chief reasons I bother visiting your site? Okay so, I will avoid your site for the duration of that suspension.

I invite my readers and friends to do same, and spread the word on Twitter with #DontVisitESPNFor3Weeks and of course #FreeSimmons

Simmons was brave enough to speak his mind on how the NFL has run out of control, and he deserves our support.





Friday, September 19, 2014

NFL incidents of violence against women just tip of sexism iceberg in USA

The NFL is absolutely reeling from a messy, stinking dirty-bomb of scandals these last few weeks. Aaron Hernandez is but a distant memory at this stage, as player after player ends up in trouble for a variety of reasons.


Adrian Peterson had kind of taken the focus off of the Ray Rice incident, but the Greg Hardy and Jonathon Dwyer cases once again brought violence against women to the fore. The NFL dragged its heels at first, but is now apparently adopting a much needed zero tolerance attitude to these cases of bullies attacking women under the previously somewhat protected tent of being their boyfriends, husbands or partners.

Throwing Ray Rice out of football is a step.

The thing is, this move is like having to walk from Boston to San Diego and lifting your leg and taking just one step. This move is nothing but a tiny bandage on the massive, gaping gash that is sexism in the USA today.

Sexism is rampant all around us, and particularly so in the Worlds of sports and entertainment.
This is a communal disaster many years in the making and you, me, everybody, we're all complicit. To borrow a phrase, we're all witnesses.

It's against this backdrop of hateful, misogynistic sexism that our youth are being brought up, and so it is no shock that less intelligent, small minded people like Ray Rice succumb to the glaring, screaming, neon light message of sexism all around them and do what they are being told to do.
Treat women like dirt.

Sports in the USA is a horrible breeding ground for sexism. It's an unapologetic vehicle for absolute, glorified, misogynistic sexism. There are different levels to it, some more obvious than others, from the rape-culture men's oriented websites that spew misogynistic hate to the NFL cheerleaders and their skimpy outfits and cheesy, Playboy magazine like act.

Entertainment is the USA makes Sports look intelligent and careful of thought in comparison. Have you bothered to check out the music videos your kids are watching these days? Music videos are essentially soft core porn now, and those are the light ones. There is another, heavier level of really degrading, sexist music video making, that treats women like animals.

Shake your head and disagree if you want, but again, do some research first. Just watch a couple of the latest hit music videos and think to yourself, how are women represented in these?
Spoiler alert; not well.

Back to sports, the biggest problem in terms of sexism in sports in the USA is the proliferation of men's sports websites that are basically soft core porn portals that are building and encouraging the rapists of tomorrow. It's all about how women are depicted in these trashy online cess pits. Women are something to be judged, laughed at, voted upon and, by all means, aggressively sexually hunted.

Cheerleading in the NFL is another sneakily depressing issue. Aggressive fans of NFL cheerleading, and sexist exposure of women's bodies in general, will no doubt start the 'Raar Raar rhubarb rhubarb' chant, but that's simply because they don't want to tax their small minds by actually thinking about a problem. Plus, their respect for women has been battered to a pulp by years of abusive revenge-porn, sexist videos on MTV and rape-culture men's magazines, print and online.

These sites breed sexism, they breed contempt and hatred for women at an alarming pace and on an alarming scale. Let’s just say a trip to the depths of, for example, Bleacher Report article comment section is something that future generations will probably study in terms of the depths of human stupidity. A more moronic, monosyllabic and ignorant place you shall never find.

This ‘article’ brought out the best in Alabama football fans  (click the image to view the comments but be warned, some are offensive).


It's not just the quasi-rape sites like the reprehensible Barstool sports and Bleacher Report, which isn't far behind, mainstream US sports media is really no better. Check out this comment section on a recent ESPN article about former MLB players Chuck Knoblauch abusing his partner.


Then there's cheerleading.

Sure, cheerleading has some sort of skill and function in college. Absolutely. Plus, it's focus is on gymnastic cheer-leading, and is unisex and finally, the costumes are not skimpy. You can understand the point of cheerleading in college. NFL cheerleading? Nothing short of sexist.

The constant battering ram of 'Hottest cheerleader!' slide shows on the openly sexist, rape-cajoling 'sports' websites aimed at American youth is mind bendingly disturbing. If you are in doubt that NFL cheerleading is sexist, just do yourself a favour. Do some due-diligence and have a little look at how NFL cheerleaders are presented to us by sports websites. Sports Illustrated take the stoic approach, their Hugh Heffner like styling is pathetic but, mostly, at least not overtly pornographic or aggressive.
Onto the 'harder' stuff. Have a look at the following if you think NFL cheerleading isn't a pursuit hijacked by sexism in the USA. Websites cajole us to marvel at their own slideshow of the NFL's 'hottest' cheerleader. It's absolute stone cold sexism and it has become so embedded in US society that we don't even see it for what it is any more.

Even these examples are just a tiny percentage of the instances of sexism in or associated with sports in the USA. Lingerie football, really? Women running around in skimpy outfits under the pretence of playing football. It would be laughable if it wasn't so abjectly pathetic, and a percentage part of the problem of sexism in the USA. Hooters. I mean, really. Hooters. Come and ogle women in skimpy outfits while you stuff yourself with chicken wings. That's not sexist at all.

If you want to bury your head in the sand and say that cheerleading isn't sexist, and that those men's sports websites are just having a good time and that Hooters has great chicken wings and that Lingerie football is just a good time, go for it, go bury your head deep in that proverbial sand.
Just don't come crying once yet another product of this system we are running, this process of growth of misogynistic behaviour, abuses or hurts yet another woman.

We're building monsters, and we are apparently all okay with it.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Balls! Update on my latest work for Balls.co.uk

Hi everyone. So things are going well with Balls.co.uk, and I've created a good few articles for them at this stage. Some of them are pretty funny subjects, so do please click through a few of them, check them out and let me know what you think.

You can see all my articles on Balls at this link.

Here's a few of the most recent ones. A variety of topics, as you can see!

 

 

 

Friday, September 05, 2014

Week One NFL preview

So, here's the Week One NFL preview I wrote for Balls.co.uk. It's currently being reviewed by the good people of Balls, but here's a sneak peek at it in its entirety for my super-duper readers, family and friends. Enjoy!


Balls NFL preview
Welcome to the Balls weekly NFL preview. Each week we will be looking at the key games, outstanding plays and players from the previous week, telling you what’s on UK and Irish TV, and of course pointing you in the direction of a few bets we like. Week one can’t come soon enough, so without further ado, let’s get stuck in.
  • The Balls weekly NFL snapshot – Week One
Every week we will be bringing you this weekly snapshot, cheat sheet type thing, which will give you the low-down on all the games at a glance. Check the key below the snapshot if you are unfamiliar with the columns.
week one snapshot
Key - the meaning behind the columns in the above snapshot
We’re hoping day, time and game are all relatively self-explanatory however here’s the meaning behind the other columns. We will be updating the content of the below weekly, bringing you our GTH score and other fresh items as the weeks develop.
  • Line – The favourite with the bookies for the game. We publish our preview nice and early to take in the Thursday game so the lines might change by the time, for example, the Sunday games roll around.
  • Our GTH pick – Our Gun To The Head pick. Obviously some games are more appealing to NFL punters than others, however if we absolutely had to pick a team in each game, this is which one it would be. Our GTH score so far? A perfectly symmetrical 0-0.
  • Watchability – Some games are more watchable than others. Divisional games, rivalry games, anything with Cam Newton in it (we unashamedly love Cam Newton) all get higher scores. Jacksonville and the Jets are both going to struggle to break into the A column this season. Two A games this week, both potential crackers.
  • TWD – Three Word Description. A bit of fun, if we had to describe the game in 3 words only, this is what we would say. More thought goes into some TWD entries than others.
  • Tiredness Factor – watching the NFL from as far away as the UK presents some interesting challenges, namely staying awake in work the next day. If you are clever and take our snapshot and look at the Watchability column and the Tiredness Factor column, you will know to avoid any D/High games.
Gronk
  • What’s on TV this week?
Here’s a look at the live games on British and Irish TV over this coming opening weekend in the NFL. The opener could be a terrific game, and we will see how serious a challenge the Packers will mount this season. They appear to be plenty of pundit’s Dark Horse for the Superbowl. We shall see! Obviously it will be interesting to see if Seattle are going to be defending their title with any gusto also.
Sunday brings a trifecta of great games, starting with the Patriots travelling to Miami in a fixture that has given them heartache for years. The 49ers and Dallas is another potential cracker, Dallas have frankly a lot of convincing to do in terms of their potential playoff credentials. This would be a good spot for them to make a statement. Sunday wraps up with the Broncos taking on Peyton Manning’s old team, the Colts, in Denver.  Double our pleasure on Monday, with the Lions hosting the Giants and the Cardinals taking on San Diego in Arizona. Will the real Detroit please stand up? We’ll get a glimpse as to whether the Lions will be roaring this season or not.
Late, late, late Thursday night GMT
  • GREEN BAY PACKERS @ SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
    Sky Sports 1 – Century Link Field – Friday 5th of September 1:30am
Sunday
  • NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS @ MIAMI DOLPHINS
    Sky Sports 1 – Sun Life Stadium – Sunday 7th of September 6.00pm
  • SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS @ DALLAS COWBOYS
    Sky Sports 1 – AT&T Stadium – Sunday 7th of September 9.00pm
  • INDIANAPOLIS COLTS @ DENVER BRONCOS
    Channel 4 – Sports Authority Filed at Mile High – Monday 8th of September 1:30am
Monday late!
  • NEW YORK GIANTS @ DETROIT LIONS
    Eurosport HD – Ford Field – Tuesday 8th of September 00.10am
  • SAN DIEGO CHARGERS @ ARIZONA CARDINALS
    Eurosport HD – University of Phoenix Stadium – Tuesday 8th of September 3:20am
  •  Power Balls! The Balls NFL Power Ranking Top 5
  1. The Seattle Seahawks. Obviously Seattle owns the number one spot, until someone knocks them off. And, to do that, someone is going to have to do something impressive. It’s been a while since we have had a Superbowl Champion that looks this solid. Current Superbowl odds – 11/2
  2. The Denver Broncos. It will be interesting to see how Denver bounces back from its horrific Superbowl. The addition of DeMarcus Ware. Now if only Wes Welker could stay out of trouble, the little scamp! Current Superbowl odds – 11/2
  3. The San Francisco 49ers. They will as always be playing with a chip on their shoulder, and that makes them dangerous. Some people might be overlooking the 49ers coming into this season. That’s not wise. People may take more notice once they blow Dallas away in week one. Current Superbowl odds – 9/1
  4. The Green Bay Packers. Aaron Rodgers had a little break last season, which means he comes into this season a little under the radar. It won’t be long before people remember just how good he is. Hard to believe he used to be considered a long-term backup. Current Superbowl odds – 12/1
  5. The New England Patriots. Tom Brady has some pretty decent cavalry arriving after a season in which he was expected to carry a disproportionate weight of the Patriots load. We all know Gronk is back, but perhaps even more importantly, the Patriots D is starting to look ridiculously good. Sure, they have to prove it on game-day, but all the pieces are there for a dominant D for the season. Current Superbowl odds – 8-1
  • The Fab Four - Our favourite four bets of the NFL weekend
  1. NY Jets -5.5 20/23 – Yes, the Jets have a lot to prove. Sure, we get that. But bringing in Chris Johnson was smart, he’s got a huge chip on his shoulder and will run hard for a year at least. Gino Smith played well down the stretch and the Jets will be fired up in front of their home fans. Meanwhile, Oakland are starting a rookie QB! We repeat, Oakland, who are absolutely brutal anyway, are starting a rookie QB!  The Jets secondary is their weakest spot going into week one, a rookie QB isn’t going to take advantage of that. Jets -5.5 with confidence is the Balls NFL Lock Of The Week.
  2. Minnesota +4 4/5 – There are a couple of rules to picking a road-dog, as with the Vikings here. Can you see the team actually winning? Yes. Does the home team have issues? Well, the home team just lost its starting QB for the season, so, yes. Also, is Adrian Peterson involved?! A huge yes. Can’t you just see Peterson running riot in the second half, leading the Vikings to a road win? Be clever and take the 4 points on offer just in case.
  3. Colts at Broncos over 55 pts 10/11 – The last time these two met there were 72 points total. With both teams raring to go, we can reasonably expect a tasty scoreline.
  4. Chargers at Cardinals over 45 pts 10/11 - Two superb offences both full of weapons for two good QBs. The Cardinals and Chargers are both underrated teams and should both grab themselves a few TDs on opening their opening night. We could be in for a potential cracker in the last game of the week.
Fab Four score so far – 0-0 (obviously!)
The Balls Lock Of The Week – 0-0 (clearly!)
  • Here’s a million dollars, who’s going to win the Superbowl?
It’s a great question, isn’t it? Each week we’re going to consider who we would choose should someone give us a million dollars to back a team to win the Superbowl. Obviously certain weeks will be harder than others, until we get some data to work off of. Opening up the season, we’re taking the Seattle Seahakws. Now, remember, some mysterious benefactor has just handed you one million dollars, so it’s up to you to place it on the team you really think will bring home the proverbial bacon. We’re taking Seattle, until someone shows they are ready to punch Seattle in the face and take the top spot. Or of course until Seattle falls to pieces when Pete Carroll remembers he’s an awful coach.
We’d love to hear your million dollar pick, let us know in the comment section below.

Ireland Croatia

Ireland Croatia
The Irish Team in Croatia 2000

Heroes and villains on Fox Sports

Heroes and villains on Fox Sports

'I didn't know..' gets a mention on Fox Sports

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