Robin van Persie: New Found Respect

First thing’s first, I used to despise this man!  The first time I saw him play, he was a young and arrogant player playing for one of my most hated teams, Arsenal Football Club.  And now?  Now, I am embarrassed to admit that.  I cannot believe I did not like van Persie!  It must be made crystal clear that just because he is now playing for the team I support, Manchester United, does not mean I am such a huge fan of Robin van Persie now.

The truth is I started to enjoy watching van Persie play his last two seasons with Arsenal.  He grew up, he became a senior player at that club, he became a leader.  Over the years he had calmed down tremendously, he became more humble and that is what I enjoyed seeing.  Even when he scored goals against Manchester United, I would praise him.

He always has scored superb goals.  His vision, abilities on the ball and movement off it, is quite phenomenal.  He is a match-winner, literally a match-winner.  He has saved Arsenal, single-handedly, on many occasions.  In his first season at Manchester United, he has already done it.

It’s quite sad that a player of his calibre has not won any major trophies.  Arsenal’s drought for the past six/seven years has not been ideal and van Persie “was running out of time”, so to say.  Now the media claims that van Persie left for more money, but this is not true.  Rumours are that he snubbed Manchester City, who were willing to pay him almost double than what he is now earning at Manchester United.  He is desperate to win trophies, and he reckons he could do so at Manchester United.  I am almost certain that he will win at least one trophy this season!

Robin van Persie began his career in football at the age of 14 with Dutch club, SBV Excelsior.  After a fall-out with the coach after just one year, van Persie joined Feyenoord at age 15.  Due to many injury problems amongst the 1st team squad, van Persie found himself playing for their 1st team.  The following season he signed a professional contract with Feyenoord.  After having endless issues with his coach, their relationship was deteriorating and van Persie was shopped out at the end of the season.  Few clubs were interested in the youngster because of his attitude, reputation and lack of discipline.  One of those “few clubs” was Arsenal.  I have to say, Arsene Wenger (manager of Arsenal) has a habit of finding young, “unknown” talents.  Robin van Persie was one of them.

Arriving at Arsenal in May 2004, he became extremely popular, at a rapid pace, amongst the Arsenal faithful.  Football fans like myself, on the other hand, basically despised him.  He just had this attitude about himself, as if he thought he was the greatest.  Well, that’s the impression I got.  It used to drive me crazy, especially when he scored a goal and even more especially when that goal was a touch of magic.

Like I said earlier, I grew to like him.  He matured as player, as well as a man.  He became a leader at Arsenal, deservedly so.  I think August 15, 2012 was the best day of my life.  It was the day Robin van Persie had signed for Manchester United.  I was just so excited because I highly doubted that he would join United.  It was a real shock to me.  Another reason being was that United haven’t signed a high-profile name in absolute years!  Myself, and I am sure millions of United fans worldwide were extremely happy to say the least.  It is against United’s policy to sign a player of his age for that amount of money – Sir Alex Ferguson clearly wanted this man.  Yet again, Ferguson was spot on.

I can confidently say that van Persie has been every penny’s worth.  He is scoring goals, setting them up, running box to box and just playing his heart out!  He has that hunger to win trophies that any manager or fan expects from a player.  I tend to be superstitious at times and believe that van Persie is wearing the number 20 jersey to bring home Manchester United’s 20th crown.  Sounds cheesy I know, but I just have that suspicion.   Welcome to Manchester United, Robin!

RvP

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Red Hot Chili Peppers: Coming to South Africa!

Seeing that Red Hot Chili Peppers (RHCP) will be touring South Africa in February 2013, I dedicate this post to the band.  It’s strange, I was actually talking about this band the other day with my friends, saying there is no chance in hell that they would ever come to our country.  Low and behold, on Monday 27 August 2012, our local radio station (5FM) announced that they will be touring here.  Well, I almost had a car accident when I heard that!

South Africa have never really been lucky enough to have huge international bands visiting us until more recently.  I will never forget the day Limp Bizkit cancelled their gig.  We all thought it was an April Fool’s joke, but sadly it wasn’t.  I was bitterly upset that day – would’ve been my first ever live show.  I was young, but that band was very popular at the time.  In actual fact, I still enjoy them.  Often listen to their music.  Since then, we’ve had bands such as The Killers, U2, Kings of Leon and coming up in November, Linkin Park.  Kings of Leon turned out to be my first live show.  I am glad I waited for them, they were fantastic.  I will never forget that night – blew me away!  I am upset that I will be missing Linkin Park, financially it was bad timing.

So when I heard that RHCP were coming, I told myself I am going to do anything to go see them – it would be a crime to not take this opportunity.  I managed to get tickets on the same day as the announcement from RHCP’s website, thanks to a good friend of mine who had organised for me.  They were selling only 10% of the total tickets.  Now, I am counting down the days until 5 February 2013, just like a school kid waiting for Christmas.  RHCP have never been to South Africa, which means that they should be playing most of their classics!

I’ve seen them live on a DVD…a few songs that were absolutely brilliant live are:

  • Under The Bridge
  • Californication
  • Give It Away
  • By The Way
  • Can’t Stop
  • The Zephyr Song
  • Otherside
  • Scar Tissue

I sincerely hope they play all of the above as it was my ultimate favourite era of the band!  In my opinion, older RHCP was not my favourite.  I am talking pre 1990’s.  This is mainly because I was too young then to appreciate their music.  As soon as I was old enough to create my own opinions on music, I started listening to them.  That must have been around 1999, when the album, Californication, was released.

RHCP themselves have been around a lot longer than that!  They formed in Los Angeles, USA in 1983.  Founding band members, Anthony Kiedis (vocals), Michael “Flea” Balzary (bass), Chad Smith (drums) and Josh Klinghoffer (lead guitar), are some what crazy and are natural entertainers.  Josh Klinghoffer replaced John Frusciante in 2009.  Frusciante had started concentrating on his solo career and is working on new album.

Without going into too much writing detail, have a look at this timeline below and you will see how many members this band actually had and how long each member’s time in the band was.  Bet you not many people knew this, I sure didn’t.  It’s not all that clear, but you can sort of make it out.

I think what makes this band so unique is their sound, their genre of music.  It’s an odd blend of punk rock, hard rock, rock, funk and alternative.  RHCP’s main influences, to name a few, were Jimi Hendrix, James Brown, Bob Marley, Queen, The Beatles and many more.  Anthony Kiedis provides numerous vocal styles, which also adds to the band’s unique reputation.  He helped the band maintain a consistent style and as the band matured, Kiedis developed a different style more recently through coaching.

Without a doubt, one the most talented, unique, legendary bands out there.  Yes, it is just my opinion but I know for a fact that there are many fans out there that feel the same as me, especially here in South Africa.

“Space may be the final frontier, But it’s made in a Hollywood basement,  And Cobain can you hear  the spheres, Singing songs off  station to station.” – Lyrics from Californication.

One of my all-time favourite songs, from any of my favourite bands!  I cannot wait for this show, I am ready…

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Fight Club: A Cult Classic

Hands down, my favourite movie of all time!

I was left speechless after watching this film, in fact, I was left speechless after watching this film for the 20th time.  To me, it wasn’t about the violence.  It was about the message portrayed.  We are not who we think we are.  We are not special, we are all the same.  I know this sounds a lot like communism, but it’s not.  Fight Club had a very unique and special message and a rather different way of portraying the message.

Fight Club was based on a book written by Chuck Palahniuk and was adapted into the film, of the same name, by director David Fincher.  Fincher is known for his dark and stylish approach to directing movies.  He was the perfect guy for Fight Club.  The film that essentially made Fincher, was Seven – another cult classic.  Other films Fincher directed were:  Alien 3, The Game, Panic Room, Zodiac, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Social Network and most recently, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  Like most of Fincher’s films, Fight Club’s conclusion was very unexpected.  I think this is one of Fincher’s main traits when it comes to directing.

The characters in Fight Club were some what strange, which I think was actually a compliment to the film:

The Narrator (Edward Norton)

He is the main character, obviously, yet strangely enough he does not have a name.  He is just known as, “The Narrator”.  Some people argue that his name is “Jack” because he uses this name in certain statements he makes during the course of the film.  Whatever, it doesn’t matter.  All you need to know is that this man has serious issues.

He is an everyday man who lives in his stylish condo and works for a car company that specialises in recalls.  He has everything that is materialistic, but he is lonely and depressed.  He suffers from insomnia and his doctor refuses to prescribe him medication, telling him to get out and do things.

The Narrator does find release.  He starts attending different types of support groups.  He uses fake names because he doesn’t want the other members to find out that he is a fraud.  He starts to sleep again and his life gets back on track, until another fraud starts attending the same meetings.  Basically, The Narrator’s subconscious is in need of a sense of freedom.  He feels trapped within his own body and later, when he meets the infamous Tyler Durden, he sees all of the qualities he lacks in himself.

Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt)

Tyler Durden works night jobs where he sabotages companies and abuses & harms clients.  He also steals human fat from liposuction clinics in order to make soap, which he sells. He says he is “selling people’s own fat asses back to them.”  The fat also happens to be a key ingredient for bomb manufacturing – which plays a big role in the film.

He basically started Fight Club, as he came up with the idea to fight outside a bar.  This was very random, and from this random thought, a revolution started.  First it was Fight Club – fighting in the basement for pleasure.  Then it became Project Mayhem – launching various attacks on consumerism.

Tyler plays a pivotal role in The Narrator’s life.  He influences The Narrator, causing him to become “free”.  He has a no-care attitude, he does as he pleases.  At the same time, he has weird and wonderful theories about life.  Things that even made me, the viewer, think about.  He is by far my favourite character because of his style and charisma.

Marla Singer (Helena Bonham Carter)

The only female character in the movie.  Truly messed up woman this!  Steals clothes from the laundry, stealing sickly hospital patient’s ready-cooked meals from the delivery van and almost overdosing on medication are just a few issues Marla has.  She’s lonely and lost, until she meets Tyler…

Well, The Narrator meets Marla first, during a support group, where she is also faking her problems, just like he is.  It’s because of the fact she is also a fraud that The Narrator no longer gets the same release as he was getting before.  He stops going to these groups because of her.  He thinks Marla is out of his life, until he comes home one day and notices Marla is with Tyler, in his room…she becomes Tyler’s lover.

Marla is known to be uncaring and self-centred, and sometimes suicidal.  Though, at times, she does show a more softer, caring side – even though it does not last all that long.

Robert “Bob” Paulson (Meat Loaf)

The Narrator initially meets Bob at one of the support groups – at the testicular cancer group.  Bob, being a former bodybuilder, lost his testicles to cancer which was caused by the steroids he took.  He had to undergo testosterone injections which caused his body to increase its estrogen.  Bob then developed “Bitch Tits” and a softer voice.  Surely you can see the humour in this?

Because of Bob’s condition, he was the only member of Fight Club that was allowed to fight wearing a shirt, thank goodness.  He actually becomes a good friend of The Narrator and the death of Bob is hard on The Narrator and he ultimately turns against Tyler because of this.  He dies while carrying out an assignment for Project Mayhem.

Angel Face (Jared Leto)

A random man who joins Fight Club and is a fundamental influence to Project Mayhem.  At times he almost seems overeager, laughing at all the vandalism he and other members are responsible for.

Angel Face was considered to be “beautiful”, hence the name.  For some reason, The Narrator has something against Angel Face and absolutely beats the living daylights out of him in one of the more graphic scenes of the film.  You can see the results in the picture.  He claims that he “felt like destroying something beautiful”.

A short description of the film’s plot:

The Narrator works a stressful job and suffers from insomnia.  His doctor refuses to prescribe him medication and he then starts attending various support groups.  He finds that sharing his own problems with others, even if they have nothing to do with that particular support group, helps tremendously and he is able to sleep again.

This unique treatment works for him, until another fraud, Marla, attends the groups.  As soon as he finds she is also a fraud, he goes back to his old ways and struggles to sleep again.

On a routine flight home from a business trip, The Narrator is seated next to Tyler Durden – a soap salesman.  At first he finds Tyler odd, but they hold a decent conversation on the plane and end up trading numbers.  When he gets home, The Narrator finds his condo burnt to the floor, to his disgust, and he calls Tyler, for reasons unknown.  They meet at a bar.  While having a few pints they find themselves having an in-depth conversation about consumerism.  This effectively leads to Tyler inviting The Narrator back to his place.

This where the film ultimately begins…

Tyler asks The Narrator to “hit” him as he has never been in a fight before.  They carry on with the fist fight and The Narrator subsequently moves into Tyler’s beat-down, pathetic house.  After numerous fights, and a crowd watching regularly, the fighting moves down into the basement of Lou’s Tavern – the local watering hole.  Fight Club is born.

Marla then overdoses on her pills and calls The Narrator for help.  He ignores her by leaving the phone off the hook and letting her babble on.  Enter Tyler, he picks up the phone and ends up going to her apartment to “save” her life.  The two of them become sexually involved.

More fight clubs are started countrywide and under Tyler’s command, they become increasingly more and more anti-corporate and anti-materialistic.  This was when Project Mayhem evolved.  Now it’s not about fighting anymore, it is now about economic equity, freedom…

The Narrator becomes highly upset with the fact that he is left in the dark with regards to the plans of Project Mayhem and wants to be more involved.  Tyler, all of a sudden, disappears.  When Bob, one of the members, is killed by police, The Narrator tries to shut down Project Mayhem.  He traces Tyler’s travels and tracks him down.  In one of the cities, a member of Project Mayhem greets him as Mr. Durden.  Stunned, he calls Marla to ask her what his own name is…she says Tyler.

Out of nowhere, Tyler appears in his hotel room.  Tyler explains to him that they are dissociated personalities and that Tyler controls the body when The Narrator is asleep – this is David Fincher’s trait I was talking about earlier. The Narrator blacks out from shock.

Later, The Narrator unveils Tyler’s plans to erase all debt by blowing up (bombs were manufactured by all the soap that was made by Tyler) multiple buildings that contain all credit card companies’ records.  After discovering that even the police are in on the whole plan, he decides to take matters into his own hands.  He attempts to try disarm the bombs, but Tyler stops him and forces him to a safe building to watch the destruction.

Here, The Narrator is held at gunpoint.  He then realises that in sharing the same body, he himself is actually holding the gun.  He shoots himself in the mouth, shooting through the cheek without killing himself.  Tyler falls to the floor and The Narrator stops mentally projecting him.

After this ordeal, members of Project Mayhem bring a kidnapped Marla Singer to him and then leave them alone.  The bombs then detonate and The Narrator and Marla watch while holding hands.  The film ends by The Narrator saying to Marla, “You met me at a very strange time in my life.”

My conclusion:

This movie was not at all popular with the public and to be honest I am surprised with that.  Yes it was based on a novel, but the storyline was unique and if deep thought was put into it, you will realise that it was not about violence.  Violence was just used to portray the message.  There is one quote from the movie that I feel sums the message up.  It comes from none other than, Tyler Durden…

“You are not your job,
You’re not how much money you have in the bank,
You’re not the car you drive,
You’re not the contents of your wallet,
You’re not your fucking khakis,
You are the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world.”

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The Pit Bull: Friend or Foe?

Feared by people who have never known one, adored and admired by those who have.

Pit bulls are not thoroughbreds, but instead used in reference to multiple breeds of dogs.  These breeds are:  American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire and Staffordshire Terrier, as well as any crosses between these 3 breeds.

The pit bull breed dates back to the early 11th century, where “Bull-Baiting” was a popular pastime in London, England.  Bull-Baiting involved having a bull tied down to an iron stake, generally in a pit/hole and had an audience surrounding it.  Dogs were then released to immobilize the bull.  Bets were made on whether the bull would survive this ordeal or not.  This is where this particular breed of dog comes in, hence the name – Pit Bull.  Dog breeders were looking for the ultimate fighting machine.

When I say a pit bull is the “ultimate fighting machine”, I mean they are extremely powerful.  A very muscular dog that has horse-like hind legs, with a broad chest and bulging shoulders. These dogs have deceiving pace with finely tuned reflexes and quite a spring in their step.  They are athletic and agile, with high energy levels.

Pit bulls need to exercise regularly in order to maintain their athletic bodies.  It is also important for them to burn up energy, otherwise the can become hyperactive.  This perfectly explains why these dogs are abused, being used for dog fighting – for people to bet and make money off them, and also explains why these dogs have developed the terrible reputation they have.

These proud canines have carried the burden, pain and shame for what corrupt people have done, for far too long.

Dog fighting is still very active in society, and pit bulls are the most popular breed to use for fighting because they learn quickly, are eager to please, are easy to handle and are very confident dogs.

It is because of this that pit bulls are misidentified and misunderstood.  The truth is that these dogs are loyal, lovable companions that have respect for their owners.  Like any other breed of dog, it is the manner in which you bring the dog up.

I am speaking from experience because I own a pit bull.  His name is Mack.  I named him after the make of truck – big, strong and powerful.  We got Mack on 1 December 2011, which makes him 8 months old now.

Mack is one of the most lovable dogs I have ever come across.  The way he greets me when I come home, they way he sleeps next to me, shows me what a great dog he really is.  He doesn’t know how to be aggressive, all he wants to do is play with his ball, rope or bone all the time.  He is great with children and friendly towards other dogs.  Yes, I said FRIENDLY, we as a family made sure that Mack had interaction with other dogs since the day we got him.  He is now one of the more popular dogs at our local sports field – where owners bring their dogs for social interaction and exercise.

Above is a more recent photo of Mack.  He is a Pit Bull Terrier, so he will not be as big as the American Pit Bulls.  However, he is still a big dog.  He now weighs 20 kilograms and is still growing.  He has been a blessing to my family, and I strongly believe that pit bulls are unique, special and a phenomenal breed of dog.

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Manchester United: #7 Legends

I am not too sure about other clubs, but I know that wearing the number 7 jersey for Manchester United is considered an honour. Such an honour that United’s latest signing, Shinji Kagawa, turned down the opportunity to wear the historic number 7, saying he would like to “prove” himself before taking up the offer.

I admire, in no particular order, the following players that wore the prestigious number 7 jersey.  I admire these players for their technical abilities.  Some points may be controversial, but these players made a name for themselves and have written their name in Manchester United’s folklore.

1. George Best (Northern Ireland)

Best signed for United in 1961 as a youngster. He made is senior debut in 1963, scoring an impressive 179 goals in just 470 appearances.  Best played for United for 11 years and quit surprisingly in 1974 at the age of 27.

In his later years, Best fell victim to alcoholism.  He suffered for most of his adulthood with this, before passing away in 2005 at the subtle age of only 59.

2. Eric Cantona (France)

Ah, King Eric!  He played a key role in the revival of Manchester United, winning 4 league titles in 5 years.  He also won 2 League and 2 FA Cups.  Cantona was voted as Manchester United’s greatest ever player by Inside United magazine.  Cantona scored 64 goals in 143 appearances for the Red Devils.

As impressive as he was on the field, Eric Cantona was as controversial as ever.  The incident that grabbed most attention came in 1995, when he assaulted a Crystal Palace fan on his way to the tunnel after being sent off for United for a kick at Palace defender, Richard Shaw.

3. David Beckham (England)

Beckham came through the ranks at United, signing on professionally in 1992 at the age of 17.  He made a decent 265 appearances, scoring 62 goals for the Manchester club.  This isn’t a bad record considering he was only a winger.  During his time at United, he clinched 6 League titles, 2 FA Cups and 1 Champions League title.  He was part of the treble-winning team in 1999.

Beckham holds the appearance record as an outfield player for the English national side – 115 caps.

After leaving United in 2003, he joined Real Madrid.  Spending 4 seasons there, he won 1 La Liga title.  He now resides with his wife and 4 children in Los Angeles, playing for LA Galaxy.

4. Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)

In 2003, Ronaldo became United’s first ever Portuguese player.  Funnily, he too did not want to wear the number 7 jersey and requested to wear number 28 (the number he wore at Sporting Lisbon, the club he was signed from).  Sir Alex forced him to wear number 7, giving him that extra motivation to succeed as a footballer.  Ronaldo scored 84 goals in 196 appearances.

The 2006-2007 season proved to his breakthrough season.  It was from this season, until he left in 2009, that he scored the majority of his goals.

In 2009 he left United to join Real Madrid for a record-breaking £80 million.  From here, his career truly flourished.  Ronaldo broke many United fans’ hearts when he announced that would be leaving to join his “dream” club.

5. Antonio Valencia (Ecuador)

Valencia signed for Manchester United in the summer of 2009.  He may lack in technical ability, but has pace and immense strength whilst running with the ball.  To date, Valencia has scored 10 goals in 71 appearances.  He is most definitely a crowd favourite.  He is appreciated for his energy levels produced and impressive work ethic.

During his time at United, he has been very consistent and personally, I believe he is worthy of wearing the legendary number 7!

Personally, I hope Valencia stays at Manchester United for many years to come and earns the right be called a “Man United Great.”

Other players that have worn the number 7 jersey:  Bryan Robson, Michael Owen, Ralph Milne, Keith Gillespie, Ashley Grimes.

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