Lakenheath Old Boys

We are all former students at Lakenheath High School and other public schools in East Anglia. We were in school in the 70s and 80s and drank deeply from the well of British culture of those decades - the pints, the telly, and of course the footie!

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Footie Moments of 2009

Odd numbered years never have the enormous weight of anticipation (or the crushing sense of disappointment) of years that include big international competitions. However, as we approach the World Cup in South Africa, it feels as if 2009 may be paving the way toward a magnificent 2010 that may well include a Division One championship for my beloved Leeds United and (big gulp) a World Cup for England. Here are the highlights for me:

Team of the Year: Barcelona; they had so much quality throughout the side that it really didn't matter if one or two of their key players (Henry, e.g.) didn't always perform. In Xavi and Iniesta they have the most effective midfield in the world and the core of a Spanish side that may well win next summer.

Player of the Year: Didier Drogba; yes, he's not really a fan favorite outside of Stamford Bridge, but even the most grudging among us that howls at his floppiness has to admit that we'd love him at our club. He is, simply put, a game winner and may well lead his Ivory Coast side to the quarter-finals next summer.

Game of the Year: England's thrashing of Croatia at Wembley, which put paid to the notion that it's thrashing of Croatia in the fall of '08 was a fluke. We must be cautious here, but Capello's England are probably the best England team since 1970.

Disappointments: France cheating their way to World Cup 2010; Leeds United's inevitable collapse in the Division 1 play-offs.

Hopes for the New Year: Simple; an England captain raising that little golden statue in July for the first time since Bobby Moore grabbed the Jules Rimet from QE2 at Wembley in 1966. An end to more than forty years of hurt.

So, what got you lot jumping off the couch in 2009?

Monday, December 28, 2009

Movies of 2009

Have we done movies yet? I saw two game-changing movies this year, District 9, and Avatar. District 9 was the better movie of the two because the story was really good, and the acting was excellent, but the computer generated effects were what really sold this movie for me. About 2 minutes after the alien creatures were introduced, I completely stopped noticing that they were CG. The integration of live and computer action was so seamless. And Eric pointed out that this movie deserves special mention because the previews didn't make you feel like a chump for paying to see the movie after almost every scene worthy of mention had been included.

Avatar was an amazing technical achievement but a really mediocre story and a waste of decent actors. I can't see how future action movies cannot immediately plan to incorporate the 3-D technology. I just don't see how the studios can expect to pack us into theaters to watch Tom Cruise shoot his way through 2 1/2 hours of action if those bullets aren't whizzing away over our heads.

I also liked, I Love You Man, Zombieland, The Damned United, The Hangover, Star Trek, Funny People, and You're Welcome, America.

I saw Up In The Air this year, and it left a deep impression on me. The previews made this up to be a rom-com with that handsome devil Clooney. Let me tell you my fellow LOB-ers, this is serious stuff and the laughs are few and ring hollow as a pair of cold downsizing experts wreak havoc through the country firing people. It was too demoralizing for me to watch people getting fired by video conferencing because I just bet that's actually in use. I will mention that the female lead Vera Farmiga is about as good an American actress as is working in movies today.

So, what did you lot think was worthy this year?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Boxing Day Live!

Jingle bells, Chelski smells, ManYoo ran away - oh, what fun it is to see the Leeds win on Boxing Day.

It's the best footer day of the season - join me!


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Gooner Greetings: Don't open until Christmas morning.

I'll be in NC and computer deprived so I'm posting early. No peeking.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Mark Wahlberg Talks to Christmas Animals

Happy holidays!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Happy Festive Footie Season!

While all of you have been snoozing back Stateside, I've been up with the jetlag scouring the morning sports pages and glued to Sky Sports in preparation for a brilliant day of footie watching with my Dad. First up in a couple of hours is the fascinating match-up of bottom of the table Pompey against faltering Liverpool. Then it's the regular fixture list with Leeds taking on Soton at Elland Road and finally the late kick-off between Arsenal and Hull. Should be enthralling. Won't you join me?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Champions League Knock-out Draw

Greetings from London, LOB'ers! The big news across the Pond today was the draw for the knock-out stages of the Champions League, which immediately through up return visits for Jose Mourinho to Stamford Bridge and Goldenballs to Old Trafford. Here's the draw in full:

Stuttgart v Barcelona
Olympiacos v Bordeaux
Inter Milan v Chelsea
Bayern Munich v Fiorentina
CSKA Moscow v Sevilla
Lyon v Real Madrid
Porto v Arsenal
AC Milan v Manchester United

The first legs will take place on February 16, 17, 23 & 24, with the second legs on March 9, 10, 16 & 17.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Music of the 2009

That wise old man of Britpop Jarvis Cocker recently summed up the decade in music with one word - "Shuffle." I couldn't agree more. While there were certainly a number of albums that caught my ear this year - notably, Polish jazz pianist Marcin Wasilewski's "January," Brazilian dude Curumin's "JapanPopShow," Melody Gardot's second album "My One and Only Thrill," Maxwell's return to form with with "Blacksummer'snight, Kat Edmonson's "Take to the Sky," Neko Case's "Middle Cyclone" and the AIDS benefit double-disc "Dark Was the Night" - my listening habits are now firmly anchored by the experience of the "playlist" rather than the "CD" (to say nothing of the long lamented "LP").

Indeed, the most gratifying musical experiences I had this year were in putting together a bewildering number of iTunes playlists based on my latest whims. While last year was dominated by a certain beardy folk introspection, it seemed as if a lot of the my favorite artists this year were determined to dance while the world was collapsing around them. Most of the tunes that caught my ear were relentlessly upbeat and danceable, including: Franz Ferdinand's "Ulysses," Passion Pit's "Little Secrets,
Phoenix's "Lisztomania," Peaches' "Talk to Me," The Phenomenal Handclap Band's "You'll Disappear, Animal Collective's "My Girls" and St. Vincent - "The Strangers."

The folkies didn't exactly disappear and I enjoyed Bon Iver's "Blood Bank" EP, J. Tillman's latest solo disc, Jeff Tweedy's duet with Feist on "You and I," Pete Yorn's "Don't Wanna Cry," Bonnie "Prince" Billy's "Afraid Ain't Me," Alexi Murdoch's soundtrack for "Away we Go" and many more.

I'm still getting a lot of my music tips from podcasts, including most notably NPR's "All Songs Considered" and the Guardian Unlimited's "Music Weekly" and I have thank the Gooner again for hipping me to a lot of my favorite sounds of the year. As usual, I look forward to hearing what's been in your earbuds this year.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The People Who Ruined The Decade

I was a bit surprised that this t*t didn't make the Guardian's list.

Here's who did

Johnstone's Paint Trophy Northern Division Semi Final Live!

It may not be the marquee event of the afternoon, but my eyes will be glued on the Mighty Whites clash against Accrington Stanley in order to make the final of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy Northern Division. Heady days at the Elland, eh?

Oh, there are one or two Premiership matches on as well. Ho hum.

Monday, December 14, 2009

More Footie Websites

When Saturday Comes gave out awards for the best football websites.

My Favorite was Football Filter, an aggregator site for all things to do with English football. Click the link HERE

The link to the WSC story with all the best footie websites is HERE

A Decade of Turkeys

We'll be dealing with the best films of the year shortly, but I was amused to see the following list of the decade's twenty worst films on Huffington Post. Read the full post here:

20. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
19. The Wicker Man
18. Daddy Day Camp
17. Lady in the Water
16. Sleuth
15. The Adventures of Pluto Nash
14. Norbit
13. The Love Guru
12. Freddy vs. Jason
11. Swept Away
10. I Know Who Killed Me
9. Employee of the Month
8. Disaster Month
7. Gigli
6. Bratz: The Movie
5. Battlefield Earth
4. Freddy Got Fingered
3. Torque
2. The Hottie and the Nottie
1. Glitter

So, how many of these did you suffer through?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Rafa v. Arsene Live!

Both managers are under increasing pressure, both have reasons to be glum this festive season, but which one will end up the happy chappy this evening. Join me from 11 am to find out.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Snowbound Footie Weekend

We're completely snowbound here in western New York this weekend. The cable is out but somehow the Internet is still up and running so I'm looking forward to snuggling by the Amish fire and watching some of the Beautiful Game. And chatting with you lot, of course. Keep me company...?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Back Patting . . .

So lads, I thought I'd share with you what I was up to last night. My soccer club, Stoddert Soccer Club, awarded me 2009 Co-Ed Coach of the Year. In addition to the plaque, I received a real snazzy warm-up jacket.

Now I'm insisting my players call me COTY!

My acceptance speech was a tad under two hours. I dedicated a good forty-five minutes to recollections of my first youth soccer practice, age 9, on Lakenheath AFB, where two dads had us practice throw-ins the entire practice!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Le Tiss to teach England how to take penalties?

The Guardian has a story today that Matthew Le Tissier who retired with a 97.9% accuracy rate from the spot has offered to teach Tiny Tears Terry and co. how to take a penalty. I think that's a great idea. As Bob has said before, if taking a spot kick was really a lottery, wouldn't we sometimes win?

Here's the link to the story.

Champions League - Final Gameday!

Most footie eyes will be squarely on the Champions League's final round of matches today, though goodness knows why. The real drama will be at Elland Road, where plucky Kettering Town have earned a replay with the mighty Whites for the honor of getting absolutely mullered by ManYoo in the 3rd Round. Follow it with me if you've got the bottle.

LOB's Culture Corner

Today, poetry. Kristen Wiig reads Suzanne Somers.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Books of 2009

Every year around this time, we at LOB take stock of our favorite cultural moments of the past year. I'll start us off modestly with my favorite reads of 2009. I particularly enjoyed sharing three books with you here and I hope we'll do the same in the future when we're able to steal a few moments from work to dive into something tasty. These are the ones that kept me turning the pages this year:

1. Ethan Canin – America, America: My favorite novel of the year is an old-fashioned grand narrative about the intertwining lives of a working class kid and the Robber Baron family that takes him in, all with the backdrop of the 1972 Presidential election.

2. Rob Sheffield – Life is a Mix Tape: The Rolling Stone critic steps outside his usual snarky self for a beautiful and moving portrait of a lives of two married music geeks living in Charlottesville, Virginia.

3. Smith, Mayer and Fritschler – Closed Minds? I recently reviewed this valuable book on academic bias for a social studies journal. I found it a useful rebuttal to the most hysterical criticisms of academia.

4. Richard Price – Lush Life: Price is well known for writing gritty policiers such as “Clockers” and the scripts for HBO’s "The Wire series." In his latest novel, he dissects the Lower East side in a gripping procedural that proceeds at a snail’s pace and looks under every rock in the neighborhood on the way toward it’s inevitable and cataclysmic conclusion.

5. Patrick Humphries - The Life and Times of Tom Waits: I’ve been on a real Tom Waits kick recently and Humphries’s book has only increased my appreciation. I particularly enjoyed reading about his early boho career in LA, palling around with Rickie Lee Jones and the immortal Chuck E Weiss.

6. Russell Banks – The Reserve: Banks’s latest novel pulls the reader straight in with a mystery surrounding a group of the landed gentry summering in the Adirondacks.

7. James Montague – When Friday Comes: A fascinating look at Middle Eastern football. While promoting the idea of footballing progress, Montague inadvertently points out why no Middle Eastern country will be winning the World Cup any time soon.

8. Diana Hess – Controversy in the Classroom: Diana Hess’s discourse on teaching controversy is destined to become the definitive work on the topic.

9. Monica Ali – In the Kitchen: Monica Ali’s third novel concerns the inner workings of a hotel restaurant presided over by chef Gabe, who’s having a bit of an existential meltdown.

10. Nick Hornby – Juliet, Naked: My favorite novelist is back on the safe terrain of pop music and relationships in his latest. I loved the material on the reclusive 80s pop star and his obsessive Internet following. I wasn’t really in the mood for the material on the hopelessness of relationships.

Notable Others:
* Kate Summerscale - The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher - a 19th century true crime book in style of Wilkie Collins.
* Joe Bageant - Deer Hunting with Jesus - a passionate call for a left populist surge.
* Dean Baker - Plunder and Blunder - a useful dissection of the causes of the current economic crisis.
* Michael Pollan - In Defense of Food - another searching critique of the food industry by Pollan.
* Bill Bishop - The Big Sort - a look at the fragmentation of American politics.
* Jennifer Burns - Goddess of the Market - an academic biography of Ayn Rand.

So, what were the rest of you reading and enjoying (or not enjoying) this year?

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Another Big Day in the Prem

It's another big day in the Premier League with lots of fixtures with meaning. First up, another chance for Pompey to fire up their season as they host Burnley at Fratton Park. Does Avram have something up his sleeve. Join me for the answer to that question and plenty of others.

Friday, December 04, 2009

South African Version of The Onion

I was looking around for reaction to the WC2010 draw and stumbled across this satirical South African news site that reminds me a lot of The Onion News. This site bears watching as we get closer to June 2010.

Click here to see site.

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Happy Birthday, Gooner!

Many happy returns to the Gooner today on his birthday. I'm hoping that the birthday mojo will work wonders on the big draw for the World Cup, too.

Happy birthday, bruvver!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

South Africa 2010 Draw

The draw for next summer's World Cup in South Africa is still more than twelve hours away but my stomach is already churning over the prospects and it's because FIFA has made a complete balls up with the seeding as usual. I don't really have too many problems with Pot 1, which includes the world's best teams plus the hosts, including England. However, with the other pots FIFA have decided to go geographical rather than seeding by quality, which means that there are landmines out there in each pot. Here's what the seeding structure looks like:

Pot 1 - South Africa, Brazil, Italy, Germany, Argentina, England, Spain, Netherlands.

Pot 2 - Japan, Australia, South Korea, North Korea, USA, Mexico, Honduras, New Zealand

Pot 3 - Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Cameroon, Algeria, Ghana, Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile

Pot 4 - France, Denmark, Serbia, Switzerland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Greece, Portugal

So, yes, it's nice that England avoid the big boys in Pot 1 - apart from SA - but our group could still look like this:

England, South Korea, Ivory Coast, Portugal (Yikes!)

And because the U.S. is in the crappest pot, our group could easily be this:

Brazil, USA, Nigeria, France (Goodnight and good luck!)

Anyone else out there reading the tea leaves tonight?

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Carling Cup Quarter Finals!

It's Carling Cup Quarter Final time, boys and girls, and I'll be manning LOB central throughout the afternoon, buzzing in and out of my class. I'll also have my eye on a full slate of League 1 matches. Join me for all the action!