Red Guns Rising: Arsenal vs. Tottenham Hotspur (2-26-2012)

Let us be fair and say that this victory does not, in any way, wipe away what must be accomplished by our club in the remainder of the season.  Nevertheless, today’s win was another derby in the books that will hopefully stay as evidence to all that the club truly does have quality.  Despite our defeats against Sunderland & AC Milan, along with the departure of Arshavin, today’s victory was an unbridled gale of good news.

Down 2-0 thanks to some so-so defending and a diving Welshman, Arsenal appeared to have been at the shorter end of what would’ve been another disappointing defeat, but then came Arteta’s cross near the box, with Sagna popping up like a plastic animal in a Whack-a-mole arcade game, his header sailing far past Friedel into the net.  And then, like a lightning bolt out of the blue (one of Grumpygrad’s favorite lines), RVP found the space to kick an immaculate goal, one that curled in such a way that would make Freya’s panties cream way on high in Valhalla.  Friedel was left in the dust as Robin slid down the pitch in red and white glory, screaming to the gods that commanded the Gunner Hate Train.  The crowd erupted in cheers, and we were back in the game at the end of the first half.

Wow.

But that wasn’t all.  Rosicky was midfield boss throughout, and his work with Arteta and Benayoun was solid stuff.  Holding and passing, and moving, moving, moving, Arsenal seemed to have the momentum.  Modric, where were ya?

Arsenal volleyed forth once again during the 2nd half, as Rosicky moved up with the ball and made a pass to Sagna on the right.  The rest of the midfield moved forward as Spurs’ defense was in shambles at that point, akin to a pack of dogs scuttling while being unaware of the Apache helicopters hovering behind them.  Sagna let loose a low pass to the left and Rosicky deftly flicked the ball with the outside of his left foot as he beat Ledley King, allowing it to ride over Friedel with pure class.  It was Rosicky’s first goal in years, and one that had the Emirates in utter delirium.  If there was any sign that the Little Mozart was beginning to revitalize himself and his career, this was it.  At this point, the scoreboard was Arsenal 3, Spurs 2.

Walcott, Gibbs, Song and the rest of the gang had a marvelous game, and if anything, much of that relied on Spurs’ shit defending.  If Arsenal gets raked over the coals for it, then I hope the Spuds do too.  The fact that Walcott came through with two counterattacks with breakneck speed, and, get this, FINISHES them off makes Tottenham look fucking awful.  Credit to Theo for putting the last two fabulous nails into the game, because by then, it looked as though the coffin was shut for good.  Spurs lacked any real attack afterwards, save for a set piece or two.  Parker lost his shit for some reason and got red carded (2 yellows man, you can add, right?) with some apeshit tackle on the Verminator, but that’s not our loss.  The Gunners ended the day with a 5-2 victory, and a well deserved one at that.

Arsenal played with a different formation that, from Grumpygrad’s observation, relied less on wing play and more on midfield dominance and deft passing.  With Ramsey out of the mix, we relied on experience, tight passing and forward momentum to make it on the break without any errant or empty giveaways.  I’m not saying that this will work on other clubs, but this worked today, and I hope that we’ll see more of this kind of performance as we look to stay in the Top 4 this season.  Liverpool will loom over us like a dark cloud from the dank, port shantytown where it comes from, but hopefully, the Gunners will aim high and fire a cannonball to let out the light.  It’s not a title-winning race, but the journey towards consistency is just as important…

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Naika Reviews “Ashes of Time: Redux”

Rivers of blood and the froth of death runs rapid in the minds of those that follow the way of the sword, but for anyone that has ever loved and lost, nothing could cut more than the razor of heartache, and nothing could dig deeper than the dagger of loss.  For stories such as this, no other filmmaker can express these ideas through the world of wuxiapian quite like Wong Kar Wai.  Whether it’s across the neon streets of Hong Kong or amidst the parched wastelands of a mongolian desert, Wong expresses the triumphs and tragedies that befall the memories of sword fighters with flawless grace through his only wuxia film, Ashes of Time.

Based on Jin Yong’s famous wuxia novel series, The Legend of the Condor Heroes, Ashes of Time was released in 1994 as a prequel / companion piece to the novels, acting as Wong’s imaginings of what he feels are the emotional origins of the book’s characters, centering on the unorthodox and carefree Huang Yaoshi (played by Leung Ka-Fai) & the bitter Ouyang Feng (acted out beautifully by the late Leslie Cheung).  Ouyang Feng is more central to the story than Huang since he acts as an intermediate for assassins and mercenaries, placing his quest for glory amongst swordsmen aside for reasons that are revealed later in the film.  Leslie Cheung’s portrayal of Ouyang Feng is clever, informative and balanced since it is his character that creates the narration, monologues and exposition that help to flesh out the story, while Leung Ka-Fai’s portrayal of Huang introduces us to the notions that drive one to forget the past.  For many a Wong fan, the film has come under considerable criticism over the years for how “elliptical” and “nonsensical” the plot is, but I feel that these criticisms have little to do with the merits of the film and more to do with peoples’ taste on how they think movies should deliver or flesh out a story.  In reference to what other net reviewers have pointed out, Wong’s work on Ashes of Time has less to do with what’s exactly being said and more to do with how the film makes YOU as a viewer feel as you watch the film.

Bridgette Lin turns out a stunning performance in Wong Kar Wai's "Ashes of Time: Redux" (2008)

With that said, the performances from all the actors and actresses involved in the film are nothing short of outstanding.  I for one possess no grasp of the Chinese language, but the amount of feeling and emotion portrayed by everyone, from Charlie Yeung carrying eggs in the desert to Bridgette Lin’s stunning, if not marvelous turn as two characters in the film, paints a vibrant portrait of jiang hu angst that is made more grandiose thanks to the creative eye of Wong’s long time cinematographer, Christoper Doyle.  And with Wong Kar Wai alum Tony Leung rounding out the cast as a blind swordsman, I think we got ourselves a FINE film to watch.

Although most wuxia films focus a great deal of it’s time on fighting, Ashes of Time avoids all of that to give the viewer something more cerebral, if not lasting, with evocative visuals and strong acting.  However, opinions on the film became more divided when, in 2008, Wong re-edited the film and released it as Ashes of Time: Redux, which is readily available on DVD and on Netflix streaming.  More commercially available then the original film, the re-edits and the new score have either alienated older fans or re-introduced new fans to a film that was seldom seen outside of the arthouse circle.  I for one am of the latter, so I am unaware of the differences between the two, so maybe it’s a bit too soon for me to sing praises for this version of the film, but at least in my honest opinion, Ashes of Time: Redux is a brilliant piece of filmmaking.

As I mentioned in the beginning of this review, nothing can cut deeper than the edge of one’s memories.  Pain and sadness, longing and regret, and the lust for conquest that drives broken individuals towards the way of the sword are what color the characters that we find in Ashes of Time: Redux.  The film has divided many a movie fan over its unorthodox storytelling and out-of-character viewpoint of the wuxia world, and yet the film is remembered and loved by many for those very same things. Wong Kar Wai has given us a vibrant painting that not only provides us with a bleak view of how cruel the way of the sword can be, but a longing look at how our memories haunt our present and cloud our future, no matter how fearless we seem to be.  Like the pain that we find ourselves feeling over things we wish were long forgotten, it continues to come back even more when we actively try to forget.  However, despite all of this, there is a duality that is present in this motif.  Only by embracing the past for what it is, we come to eventually learn more from ourselves, let go, and, possibly, succumb to the remarkable possibilities that may be hidden right in front of us.  In the end, a sword can only strike down so much…

Weekend Roundup (2-10-2012 to 2-12-2012)

It’s been a while since I wrote anything here, and after a long and hard week full of PCR and other things I’ve screwed up on in the lab, here’s my roundup for the weekend.

Friday was a crummy day where I more or less provided some undue stress on my Post-Doc for being a bit too sure on a mistake I made earlier in the week.  Nothing detrimental in the long run, but it just means that I have more work to do to genotype a certain set of mice we’ve been breeding for a few months now.  That night, I was treated to some tasty Chinese hotpot at ‘said girl’s’ house for movie night with the roomies.  It first started out with the lackluster Colombiana, which had decent action, but not much else in terms of a plot.  It’s eye candy for us girls and guys, but that’s about it.  After a round of Uno, we proceeded to a film her and I have been talking about watching for a week now, and that’s Fruit Chan’s Dumplings.  A twisted, sexy film to say the least, it’s a gorgeous look at how one person’s desire to outwit the ravages of age consumes her as she consumes some special dumplings with a ‘special’ ingredient.  Lastly, it was a return to good film as we sat over to grace the awesomeness that was, and is, Pulp Fiction, while giving a boxing lesson at the same time (I’m not going into that any further).  Honey bunnies indeed.

Saturday started off really well, with a win for us Arsenal fans at the Stadium of Light against the black cats of Sunderland.  Martin O’Neil has really turned the Cats around since he took over, and it looked dire for us Gunners, especially after Mertesacker’s horrendous injury which later led to a goal for Sunderland.  However, Ramsey came on for us and scored a cracker of a goal that bounced off of both posts before smacking the net.  Arshavin and Henry some came in to replace our wingers and things really took off.  Arshavin took two of Sunderland’s defenders head on and made a cross between them that was headed for the box. Henry leaped up with a flying jump kick to poke the ball in for another legendary goal for us, sending our away troop into a frenzy.  It was Henry’s last game in the Premiership for us and it was one helluva way for him to send the fans off.  Now, if only he could score against AC Milan later this coming week…

However, that night, things turned a bit dour as I was informed by said girl over the FB that yes, Whitney Houston passed away.  Yes, I mean THE Whitney Houston.  Y’know, the diva of divas who’s been having a tough time as of late?  There is still no real clue as to why she was found dead in her hotel room, but hopefully people will take the time to remember somebody who you could say that you probably heard on the radio once a day.  I’m sure there are a handful of assholes making comments about her drug problems and such, and although that it is clear that she did have substance abuse issues, I think it’s bad that she may be remembered for that then, I dunno, singing an 80s pop song or having a film career or being an astounding singer.  I’m not the biggest Whitney fan out there, and I’m not gonna jump the band wagon just because she died, but to overlook her talent for singing by focusing on her issues with drugs and trolling the net with it is in bad taste.  So, do me a favor folks, at least play one Whitney song for yourself and raise your glass to her.

Sunday was simply a lazy one filled with running and room cleaning, so nothing much for me to mention.  The grammys happened, and so did a Whitney tribute as well.  Otherwise, with another Wong Kar Wai film review and a few other things in the works, including a new YouTube video from yours truly, that’s all I’ve got for now.  Valentine’s Day is upon us, and although I don’t care much for it, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.  To all of those that do come by here and read every now and then, have a great week, enjoy it with somebody special if you can, and look forward to another weekend.  Cheers…