Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Busy 2 Months

It's been 2 months and change since I've even thought about posting here. No one ever said I was going to compete in the blog Olympics, but I should probably try and do this a bit more often. Just more proof that I'm part of a natural order of species that just aren't evolved enough to manage all of the many ways to get worthless pieces of information about their lives into cyberspace. Like a stubborn old man with chores to do would say, "I'll get to it when I'm good and ready."

Since I last popped on here to pour a bit of praise Paul's Boutique's way, I've been involved with a bit of life activity. Nothing too extravagant, but changes is changes. We actually had to make proper house purchases like adults. We picked up a lawn mower, edge trimmer, grill and patio furniture. Coming from the midwest, I was hoping for some Hank Hill-esque euphoria when shopping for these sorts of things, but maybe I'm just not wired that way. Anyone I know from home or here that is hip to Hank Hill-isms has been giving me all manner of crap about not getting a propane grill to boot.

I will say this, there's nothing that gives a pseudo manly feeling like mowing your lawn for the first time, with a mower you bought. Anyone who says it's no big deal is lying. Sure, it's not like taking a drive in your new car for the first time, but there's a bit of a satisfaction you take from it nonetheless. Now, what can take that feeling away, is trying to grill for the first time. My man credentials were severely questioned when it came to grilling. I'd never really taken much interest in how to actually cook on a grill rather than eat what has been cooked. That first time around a charcoal grill can really make a mouse out of you if you don't know what you're doing. Having said that, the fact that our first attempt at grilling turned out shoddy only motivated me to get better at it. So, my goal is to, by the end of the summer, be mediocre at it. Next year I'll go for my masters.

Taking a chunk of time out of grill practice will be a two-week vacation. We're going to Spain. While most that've interacted with me over the past 2 months may not have noticed, I'm absolutely stoked for this trip. We'll trekking up and down the country and seeing a ton. Let's not keep the cat in the bag here, I don't know much about Spain to begin with; at least not much in the grand historical sense. I'm excited to see the land that gave the world individuals like Cervantes, Pedro Almodovar, Luis Bunuel, Antonio Gaudi, Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali. I'm also curious about - this is going to sound weird - the different social climates in places like Catalonia, Valencia, Andalusia and (hopefully) Basque Country. Plus, being the football fan that I am, I want to see Estadio Mestalla in Valencia and Camp Nou in Barcelona. I'll possibly try and pick up a couple of jerseys while I'm there. If this is going to be anything like my first trip to Romania, it'll be one to remember as well as exhausting as hell.

Speaking of football, the season ended and what a conclusion it was. In England, it went almost to the last day with Manchester United taking the title over my Liverpool. While I'm sick of United seemingly winning everything put in front of them, I do have to say that my Reds gave them a proper challenge this year. With the possibility of huge names leaving United this summer and Liverpool keeping most of, if not all, its squad, next year could finally end the title drought for the reds.

In Spain, Barcelona showed the world what the height of all-conquering Catalan style can bring in terms of technique, class, dominance and flat-out entertainment. They made winning La Liga look almost academic while scoring and keeping the ball at will. Thierry Henry, Samuel Eto'o and Lionel Messi scored almost 100 goals between them and that's more than most TEAM's in the world have scored this season. They also became the first Spanish team to complete the treble (winning La Liga, The Copa del Rey and the UEFA Champions League). If they could play the way they did this season for a decade, I don't think anyone would complain.

Germany saw a VFL Wolfsburg win the league for the first time ever. Providing entertainment second only to Barcelona, Wolfsburg were a team that no one saw coming at all. They quietly wowed onlookers with the attacking brilliance of Christian Gentner, Zvjezdan Misimovic, Edin Dzeko, Josue and the defender-eating Grafite (scorer of my favorite goal this season).

France finally saw Olympique Lyonnais not win the championship ending their run of 7 in a row. Girondins de Boardeaux topped Ligue 1 when all is said and done. I will say that it was nice to see Paris Saint-Germain really put up a fight this season. Hopefully, they can build on it. Inter Milan won Serie A in Italy, but I can't say I really care. Italy was really hard to watch for me this year. Apart from seeing Genoa wreck some shop all over the place and finishing 5th, the always enjoyable Palermo, Napoli and Fiorentina finish in unsurprising spots, Serie A really lacked gravitas for me.

The best moments from this season though came in the form of teams breaking from tradition and delivering great performances where negative, defensive tactics were expected. In the Champions League, when Real Madrid went to Anfield, no one expected Liverpool to put on a show and light them up for 4 goals. Then, in the very next round, no one expected anything dramatic from a Liverpool - Chelsea tie (something that Jorge Valdano once called shit on a stick). However, viewers were treated to a two-legged affair that amounted to 12 goals (Chelsea going through 7-5 on aggregate). Sad to see my team eliminated, I could hold my head high knowing they went down fighting rather than worrying about damage control. Then, one week later, viewers were treated to a 4-4 thriller as Arsenal came to Anfield (one of the best matches I've ever seen). Again, their chances for the league title effectively eliminated there single-handedly by Andrey Arshavin, but they went down with a fight. Hopefully it's a good omen for the future.

That's all I have time for today. Be back soon!