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The Greatest Amateur Goal Ever?fat-footballer

That image on the right is how I picture most amateur footballers; fat, balding, probably a bit shit at moving never mind playing the game itself.

They're the kind of men who always thought they'd make it to the big time but could never quite get over the fact that they're about as athletically gifted as a one legged sloth with an inner ear problem.

Every now and then though even the most limited human being can produce a moment of perfection that defies even the most miserable of critics' (me) understand of the physical world.

The clip below is of CSKA Tralee player Michael Griffin scoring a goal that MSN describe as reminiscent of Denis Bergkamp.

Personally I think that's overstating it a bit but it's always good to have something that distracts you from the sight of an empty stadium. I assume the only people that attended this game were all huddled together in one area to share body heat.



Source: MSN


Ancient Man's Best Friendcave-man-dog-cute-funny

Ever wondered why dogs (for the most part) are so damn pleased to spend time with humans? Is it because they're naturally lovely creatures? Possibly. Is it because they desperately seek affection as a way of ensuring their own survival? Maybe. Is it because they know that humans have bacon and other pork products in the fridge? Yeah that could be it, or it could be because for thousands of years they've been trained to love us.

There are many things that lead to humans becoming the dominant species on earth: opposable thumbs, social interaction, eating cooked meat and, the one that everyone seems to forget, the ability to train animals.

Since as long as history has been recorded there have been graphic illustrations of human beings training any animal they could find to either do their bidding or be cute fluffy stress relievers.

Most historians assumed that modern dogs had evolved from tamed wolves introduced to the world by Asian farmers, but it turns out those historians were way out. I guess if you judge it in geological terms they were only 1 ice age out, which isn't that bad.

Dogs and humans became best friends in Ice Age Europe between 19,000 and 30,000 years ago, say scientists.

That was when wolves, ancestors of domestic dogs living today, were first tamed by ancient hunter gatherers, according to new genetic evidence.

The findings challenge a previous theory that dog domestication happened some 15,000 years ago in eastern Asia, after the introduction of agriculture.

In reality, the history of the bond between dog and man appears to go back much further, to a time when fur-clad humans were living in caves and hunting woolly mammoths.

Scientists used a tried and trusted technique of DNA analysis to establish what populations of wolves were most related to living dogs.

DNA from domestic dogs most closely matched that extracted from the fossil bones of ancient European Ice Age wolves, as well as modern wolves.

There was little similarity with DNA from wolves, coyotes and dingos from other parts of the world.

That's good news really, it means that whenever people in Australia go camping in the bush and a dingo tries to take their baby they won't have to be nervous the next time a poodle eyes their newborn.

It also means that if we ever have a Jurassic Park situation, like if a bunch of other scientists finally do reanimate/clone a mammoth that then breaks free and runs amok we can round it up by simply opening the kennels at the Battersea dog home and letting the fluffy little blighters do what comes naturally. And by naturally I mean what they've been trained to do over the last 30,000 years.


Source: MSN


A Theatre Cynic Watches: "Follies" St AlbansFollies-st-Albans-musical-theatre-operatic-society

It might sound like a contradiction given my hatred of loud noises but living 100 yards from a theatre does have some advantages.

Sure the chance to hang out with actors is a big one but the main perk is that you're never short of something to do of an evening.

Given that I have the memory of an amoeba cell it's good to know that I can just shuffle zombie like towards the big shiny building round the corner and see a decent show without having to plan anything.

That being said I'm not a fan of musical (unless they have sweary muppets in them). I'm not sure if it's the camp insanity of it all but they've never really appealed to me. Fortunately I put my scepticism aside for one night and went to see the St Albans Operatic Society's performance of Follies.

If you're unfamiliar with it, Follies is a musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim (and a book by James Goldman). The story revolves around a reunion in a crumbling Broadway theatre, scheduled for demolition, of the past performers of the "Weismann's Follies," a musical revue that played in that theatre between the World Wars.

st-albans follies-reviewIt focuses on two couples, Buddy and Sally Durant Plummer and Benjamin and Phyllis Rogers Stone, who are attending the reunion. Sally and Phyllis were showgirls in the Follies. Both couples are deeply unhappy with their marriages.

Buddy, a traveling salesman, is having an affair with a girl on the road; Sally is still as much in love with Ben as she was years ago; and Ben is so self-absorbed that Phyllis feels emotionally abandoned. Several of the former showgirls perform their old numbers, sometimes accompanied by the ghosts of their former selves.

Once the main and peripheral characters have given you a quick idea of who they are on the surface you're blasted with number after number of classic nostalgia. The yarns come thick and fast as the guests recap their lives while the main characters reconnect with each other and begin to set the foundations for all manner of intrigue and naughtiness.

With each passing moment the veneer of happiness fades away as the couples slightly mournful reminiscing turns to bitter resentment, dangerous flirting and eventually extra marital Russian Roulette. Ben snogs Sally who then turns into a psycho hose beast, Phyllis starts macking with a waiter and poor silly Buddy becomes the world's most self hating cuckold.

The series of self inflicted tragedies come to a massive crescendo when all of the main characters confront ghostly versions of their younger selves. The screaming continues until everyone swallows the red pill (metaphorically speaking of course, this isn't some Irvine Welsh play) and we are transported into big budget musical cliche heaven.

The final leg of the play is a sight to behold; fantastic performances, perfect lighting schemes, excellent set dressing and the kind of poetic character examinations you normally only get in Alan Moore books. Easily identifiable theatrical markers are used expertly to shove these weird people under the microscope in such a way that the poor sods are torn to shreds only, you know, there's awesome music and dancing involved so it's a lot less heavy going.

Once they've done some major soul searching the main players all return to where they were before, the comfortable rut of normality that doesn't force them to search for the lost glory of their youth (which never really existed).

As for the production itself I really couldn't fault it. The commitment and hard work of the performers and production crew was there for all to see. The sets were carefully considered (especially in the second half), the lighting flooded the characters with purple and pink tones as they boasted about their past triumphs and sunk them into pits of darkness when they dropped the pretence and woke up to reality, the orchestra were consistent and polished and the actors all worked their socks off.

Special praise must go to whoever portrayed Sally (I didn't pick up a programme so I don't know who she was, sorry Sally!), not only did she pull off innocent, lost and naive without forcing it she also had the subtle tones of Karen Carpenter, quite a treat during the big numbers.

The best compliment I can give the production is that it made me completely suspend disbelief, a feat virtually impossible these days as I'm so desensitised to fiction that I watch police chase programmes to unwind. This is a fantastic production and I urge all of you who are within striking distance of the Alban Arena to come and see this, you won't regret it. Just be careful as you're leaving though, the Biffa trucks are a bit reckless at that time of night, one of them nearly turned me into a very happy pancake as I was leaving. Big red bully.


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