Ranking Drones – Muse

Drones: Amazon.co.uk: Music

By the time Drones came along I had mostly stopped caring about Muse. I still bought it on day one, but I probably waited a few weeks before listening to it, and maybe only listened to it twice in that first year. Part of that is down to how I consume music. I’m still a CD guy when it comes to buying, and I very rarely use stuff like Spotify for new music. I used to convert my CDs to play on Ipod, but by 2015 I’d slowed down on this nonsense too. Plus I’m old, and I struggle to care as much about music unless it has some immediacy for me at a melodic, emotional, or conceptual level. Drones didn’t appeal to me on any of these levels, it didn’t jump out at me screaming to be heard; it cowered in the corner shouting military slogans. Having survived a stint in the military in my youth, such things are ridiculous to me. It’s also a case of having heard the same riffs, the same approach to music and melody, and the same type of songs done better before, plus the band and their thematic content somehow seemed more juvenile and adolescent than ever. There are still a few decent tunes in there – it’s still Muse for Bellamy’s sake – so of course they’re not suddenly shit, but as a whole due to where I was and the overall samey nature of the thing, it comes across as distinctly average.

  1. Revolt.
  2. Mercy.
  3. Aftermath.
  4. Reapers.
  5. The Globalist.
  6. Dead Inside.
  7. Psycho.
  8. The Handler.
  9. Drones
  10. Defector.
  11. JFK.
  12. Drill Sergeant

Let us know what you think of Drones in the comments!

Happy Ending

Happy Ending: 3/Good

As the title suggests, this does sound happy, one of the very few songs in the Manics catalogue that sounds genuinely content. It’s another very simple song with simplistic, poor, repeated lyrics from the Lifeblood/There By The Grace Of God era, and at the time felt like a possible goodbye from the band. The band seemed like they wanted to go in one direction musically, but there was an uncertainty over whether they could convince themselves and fans of this direction, so possibly they would just pack it all in instead. Happily they didn’t, and we are left with this curious, piano driven pseudo-goodbye, pseudo-dedication. The melodies are amicable enough, Bradfield hits some high notes and while the song reaches for those crowd-pleasing chorus peaks the piano makes it feel more like a Coldplay song in places. It rarely goes beyond ‘yeah, this song sounds nice and nothing else’ but it’s enjoyable enough in small doses to keep it higher than average for me, with extra points because the band sound like they are content. 

The Story Of The Song: I’m not sure if the band has ever talked publicly about this one, but based on what they were going through at the time – the downgrading from Stadium chart toppers, the changes in musical and stylistic direction, the boredom Wire was always mentioning in interviews, and of course the lyrics themselves, it seems reasonable to assume they had this planned or written as a thanks and good bye song. It’s a little too soppy in one way for a band as angry and punk as they are, but it does fit. If it was meant to be a goodbye, I’m surprised they released it at all.

Let us know your thought in the comments!

The Wisher

*Originally written in 2003

Spliced (Movie Review) | Bloody Good Horror

Another cheap horror movie which borrows heavily from both big and cult hits of the genre, but one which manages to be quite enjoyable even if we have seen it all before. There are some good performances, some not so good, a few typical scares and jokes (some which hit, some which miss), a fair amount of blood, a simple but well executed story, and quite a creepy bad guy. Probably not worth searching for, but worth watching if it is on TV especially if you are a horror fan.

Mary is a teenage girl with a love for horror movies, always searching for the next scare. When she hears about a new film called The Wisher which has been getting good reviews from terrified audiences, she and her friends go to see it, against her father’s wishes. Mary has a habit of sleepwalking which her father believes is caused by all the rubbish she watches. A short time into the movie, Mary vomits and leaves knowing the film is too much for her. After an argument with her father she wishes he would just go away. Soon her father is dead, and Mary believes she keeps seeing the Wisher creature from the movie. She becomes paranoid and after a few more gory events related to what she has innocently wished for, she believes that The Wisher, or someone dressed up as him is stalking her, obsessively carrying out her wishes in the worst way possible. She finds out that the film makers imbued the film with subliminal messages, and thinks that school hunk Brad, who likes her, has been hypnotised by the film. She tries to find a way to reverse the process, planning to watch the film to see how it ended. The Wisher is on to her plan though…

Although everything is pretty predictable there is still enough fun to warrant watching this. There is some cheesy dialogue and effects, and you would think that once you believed that your wishes were coming true you would immediately wish for The Wisher to leave. Liane Balaban is very good as Mary, at times carrying the film on her own, and Ron Silver is good though seems uninterested in a smaller role. The rest of the cast are OK, but the film is quick and never tries to over-achieve. The Wisher itself does look scarier than your typical cheap horror movie bad guy, and the director’s best moments are when the Wisher is stalking in the shadows or on reflections. There is not much heavy violence and nothing is over-the-top. Give it a go if it’s on, but do not expect a masterpiece, just a quick piece of entertainment.

Let us know in the comments what you think of The Wisher!

She Is Suffering

I’ve always felt this to be the weakest song on The Holy Bible – too dreary and too distant from the more severe emotions which run through the rest of the album. This is unusual because it retains the quintessential Holy Bible atmosphere and obviously the Production ensures that there isn’t any other album it would work on. Maybe it’s the pacing -it meanders and plods and remains on a single level. It’s the weakest song, but it’s the weakest song on as perfect and harrowing an album as you’ll ever hear.

It does unsurprisingly have a superb lyric, and taken as a standalone song the melodies and tone work much better versus listening to it on an album run through. The US mix adds more depth and warmth and becomes the more interesting version musically, but it still lacks something which makes me love it as much as the rest of the album. It does have a blistering, basic guitar solo though, always a bonus.

The song was a single, reaching number 25, and accompanied by a truly unnerving and creepy video involving mannequins. It’s not very good, but it leaves an impact which is more than can be said for most Manics videos which are simply not very good.

She Is Suffering: 3/Good

The Story Of The Song: Like much of the album, this song is definitely about something but unlike the more overt political statements or concrete glimpses into Richey’s state of mind, She Is Suffering is more obtuse and open for interpretation. Logic dictates that the key to unlocking the song is deciding who, or what ‘she’ is and why or how she is suffering. Some have tried to identify a real life person, some have said it’s Richey and Nicky equating themselves to femininity, others that it’s the dichotomy between the pointlessness of and need for sex (stretching the narrative to being about a real life story of cheating or betrayal) but the most common interpretation is that ‘she’ is simply the personification of ‘beauty’. Beauty means suffering. Going directly to the source, Richey himself described the song as detailing the horrors of desire and the need to rid yourself of all want to become pure.

Misheard Lyrics: She is suffering upon her death.

2. Beauty she is God

3. It’s not an insult/it’s a body’s soul/into my own soul

4. Carry on

5. Unfair for all

6. The less she can stammer

Actual Lyrics: She is suffering yet more than death.

2. Beauty she is scarred

3. Into man’s soul

4. Carrion

5. Unfaithful all

6. The less she gives the more

Let us know in the comments what you think of She Is Suffering!

The Longest Most Pointless Post About Football In The World Of All Time… Ever!

New items added to Premier League champions range - Liverpool FC

Greetings, Glancers! We interrupt our usual programming to bring you this mouthful. Y’all should know by now that I spend about 95% of the day inside my own head – it’s a great place to be and it leads to such nonsense as this. If you’re a football fan, and even if you’re not, you probably heard about the Sport-shattering shenanigans of this past week involving 12 European Clubs signing up to join a breakaway ‘Super League’ as an alternative to the longstanding Premier European Club Tournament – The Champions League. While on the surface, some of the reasons for this were sound, noble even, and perhaps inspired by a want for improvement. The Champions League format will be changing soon, creating even more matches for those who qualify, further congesting a packed calendar which will naturally make success more difficult and injuries more likely. I don’t like it. No-one likes it. It’s all about money. Somehow though, the Super League is worse.

The Super League got it wrong from the start – offering inclusion to a series of clubs seen as ‘the best’ in Europe. There are easy ways to gauge ‘the best’ – UEFA (the governing body) has been running a point coefficient system for years, to show the current ranking of every team on the Continent. That wasn’t used though, because the Billionaires in charge want the most profitable, famous, and richest teams involved who also have a bit of a European pedigree (apparently). Out of the 12 clubs, 6 were from England, including my beloved Liverpool. Liverpool is one of the most successful clubs in European history. Man Utd have won everything. Chelsea have had successes in recent years. Man City have won nothing, but are one of the richest clubs in the world. Arsenal used to be good, but are a joke now. Tottenham…. the less said the better. The club selection was one of the many farces surrounding this.

The next, and perhaps most egregious, is the fact that it was designed to be a closed competition. These 12 teams would always be there, and each would always earn 350 million for being involved each year. Rather than the yearly scramble for wins to get into the top few positions in the league required to qualify for the elite European competitions, for these 12 teams it wouldn’t matter where they finished – Tottenham could finish 15th in the League and they would still get in. For that money, why bother even trying to finish high in the League? What about the other teams who finish higher? They don’t get in, they don’t get the money or the ‘big matches’? It’s a mess. Thankfully, due to immense fan pressure, most clubs have since pulled out of the system and apologised to fans and staff. Worst of all for me, is that the people who made the decision just went ahead and did it – zero consultation with managers, staff, players, or fans. They tried to force through the biggest change in European football for decades, without letting the bill payers or performers have any say. Every single one of these scumbags should be held to account – the frothing media claiming clubs should be suspended, removed from leagues, docked points – that is all useless scaremongering. If clubs had been involved in the decision beyond the owners, by all means they should be punished.

But all this got me thinking. While I enjoy the current European set up with the Champions League and Europa League, I don’t think it’s perfect. There should be more involvement from other nations and smaller clubs. Elitists will point to the fact that they don’t want to watch small teams play and inevitably be smashed by the big boys. I do, and what’s more, it’s fair. Now I’m under no illusion that it would be unfair to have a Champions League which only features the winners of each League – teams may miss out on winning their league by a single point, a single goal, a single VAR mistake. The biggest leagues simply are more deserving of having more teams involved in the top competitions. But all leagues should be represented. It gives a chance for smaller teams to earn more money and actually improve, it gives them a once in a lifetime opportunity to play against the best, and it increases the opportunity for those ‘giant-killer’ matches the media loves so much.

Personally, I’m not a fan of massive qualifying rounds like you see before the Champions League and Europa League. They’re pointless, they’re almost never televised, and when they are nobody watches them anyway. Likewise, I’m not a fan of play-offs. If you spend an entire season winning points and reach a certain position, that position should be rewarded. I’m also all for less games on the calendar for individual teams, but more games in total. What that means is a revamp to the two existing European tournaments, and a ‘new’ third one. Read on to hear about my proposed changes.

First up, there should be three European club tournaments. Over the decades there have been instances of three tournaments – the Inter Toto cup, the Cup Winners Cup etc. While each of the three Tournaments are classed as Elite Club Championships, there is a tiering system with the Champions League being the best of the best, the Europa League for the Runner Up type teams, and the Third Cup being for… well I may as well say it now… it’s basically a revamped Cup Winners Cup. Obviously money and all of that crap comes into it, but basically the better the tier the more money, but ultimately each competition affords all entrants the chance and ability to earn for income, success, and respect.

My next revamp is to the format of the existing competitions; no more league/group stages but each competition should be a two-leg knockout cup. My third revamp involves increasing the number of teams involved in each competition – from 32 to 64. Next, I’ll be removing seeding because that is too much of an elitist invention to protect the bigger clubs and ensure they last the longest in each tournament – in my competition anyone can play anyone at any time, so cry me a river. My final revamp involves scrapping the qualification rounds altogether – qualification will be based on League and Cup success in each respective Domestic competition. So that’s it – simple yeah? Let me know your thoughts in the…. wait wait wait. You didn’t actually think I was done yet, did you? Oh no, we’re only getting started. When you spend time in my head, you don’t get to simply walk away.

I’m going through each of these proposed new tournaments, talking about the set-up and qualification process, then I’m going to cover each of the 55 Countries who make up European football and how their qualification process should work, then I’m going to look at who should have qualified for each competition based on last season’s results, then I’m going to assign each team a numeric value from 1-64, and finally I’m going to make my own Cup draw for each competition and show you the proposed first round fixtures for each. Why. Why. Why.

Jose Mourinho Backs Liverpool for 3rd Champions League Final in a Row | Bleacher Report | Latest News, Videos and Highlights

The Champions League – the best of the best, formally known as The European Cup. There are just too many matches and even if you get knocked out in the first round you still have to play six matches. You can keep the name, though the ‘league part’ doesn’t really make sense if we’re abandoning the group stages, so lets call it The European Champions Cup. We’re increasing the number of teams who qualify from 32 to 64. Each round, except for the final, would feature a Home and an Away leg. Therefore finalists would play maximum of eleven matches. Money lost by having less matches in the group stages would be offset by the gains made in having 64 matches in the first round. These would obviously be spread over a number of weeks so the Telly channels get maximum bang for their buck. Who should qualify?

There are currently 55 independent nations in Europe, and 54 of those have their own Football Leagues. The winner of each Top Level League in each Country automatically qualifies. Qualification is based on League Results only, Cups are not considered. This gives 54 teams with a wide range of quality and leaves 10 spots remaining. I’m torn on this next piece, because I originally thought there were only 50 countries which left 14 remaining spots, which gave a bit more freedom about the next teams to qualify. I’m left with two options. Either those ten spots are made up the 2nd and 3rd place finishers from Europe’s Top 5 Leagues: England, Spain, Germany, France, Italy. Or, the first five spots are completed by the 2nd place finisher in the first five leagues, and the final five are from the 2nd place finisher from the next five Top Leagues in Europe. Rather than the current flawed coefficient points system, the Top Leagues will be scored on points table based on team finishes within the 3 Cup Tournaments. Winner = 20 Points. Runner Up = 15 Points. Semi = 10 Points. Quarter = 8 Points.  3rd Round = 4 points. 2nd Round = 2 points. 1st Round = 1 point. The most likely final 5 spots would be from Greece, Russia, Portugal, Holland… Denmark/Ukraine/Belgium etc. The first option is probably more favourable to the money men as it brings more of the big names, plus it’s easier, so lets go with that for now.

The Second competition would be a revised Europa League. Lets call it The Europa Cup. Similar to the above set up, the current 48 teams would become 64, and it would be another Knockout tournament only. Finalists would play maximum of eleven matches. There would be no more of the teams kicked out of the Champions League dropping into the Europa League and there would be no Group Stages or Qualifying rounds. Qualification is based on League Results only. Qualifiers are made up of the next highest finisher from each of the Top 54 Leagues who did not qualify for Champions Cup, so based on Option 1 above it would be the 4th place finisher from England, Spain etc, and the second place finisher from Sweden, Poland, Scotland etc. 10 Spots Remaining – these would be made up of next highest finisher from the Top 10 Leagues in Europe, using same pointing system outlined above. The Top Ten Leagues based on the UEFA coefficient for last season are England, Spain, Italy, Germany, France, Portugal, Holland, Russia, Belgium, and Ukraine so for the sake of this post I’m going to pick those rather than trying to use my own points system – I haven’t got all day.

Our final, newest competition may be the most interesting in terms of qualification, and maybe in terms of teams involved. It’s the revamped Cup Winners Cup, so lets just call it the Cup Winners Cup. Many of the big nations have more than one domestic Cup competition. The winner of each domestic cup competition automatically qualifies. If a team wins a Cup and finishes high enough in the league to qualify for one of the other two European competitions, they can either choose to also play in the Cup Winners Cup, or offer their place to the Runner Up. Similarly, if the Runner Up has already qualified, they would pass their position over to the 3rd place team within said Cup. To spice things up, most domestic cups don’t bother with a 3rd place play-off, so the 3rd and 4th team may need to play a qualifying match against each other. This is a great opportunity for the smaller teams in the bigger leagues to get some travel, new fans, and bonus money. Just to ensure teams don’t start randomly creating 2nd Domestic Cup competitions for the sole purpose of getting into Europe, lets place a ten year limit on new Cups – it has to exist for 10 Seasons before a team is eligible to qualify for Europe. If it does ever reach that point, I’m happy expanding this (somehow) to a 128 team knockout, because that would be fucking ridiculous. For the sake of this post, if the winner of the Cup has already qualified, I’ll try to pick the next club. Sadly, no system is perfect and by my count this gives me only 60 teams, leaving 4 open spots. The Dutch Cup Final was called off so I’m going to just add both finalists which means 3 open spots. There’s no good way of assigning those – most goals scored, best Nations runner up again? Random? Just be like Eurovision and invite Australia and some other Countries? Lets go the Runner up route in Top 10 Countries, who haven’t qualified for some other competition.

I did spend a couple of minutes wondering if the Current Champions League format should simply be retained, except only the Top 4 teams from the Top 8 Countries qualify. Then there would be some slight modifications to my plans for the Europa League, and I pondered having a 4th Cup which would allow the runners up from smaller leagues and a few smaller teams from bigger leagues their chance for silverware. But balls to that.

Before going through each Country, let me deal with some of the criticisms you’ve likely been spouting:

‘You’re an idiot’ – never said I wasn’t. In any case, settle down, none of this will ever happen (even though it clearly should).

‘I only want to see the best teams’ – then only watch those matches. People will watch what they want. There is a high chance for many Crap Unknown Team versus Crap Unknown team matches, but those still happen now in the Champions League. How about we give the Crap Unknown Teams a chance to get better and become known?

‘Half of these teams are semi-professional and don’t have adequate Stadium facilities’ – to me, that’s fantastic. Teams may qualify with a shared stadium, or a pitch with only 1000 capacity, and they may get Real Madrid in the first round. That’s hilarious to me. It happens currently in the FA Cup and it’s a great way for the multi-millionaires to show that it’s about the game, the fans, and not the money. If the big boys don’t want to field their best players, that’s fine. They risk being knocked out. The potential rewards for the smaller teams getting on this world stage far outweigh the grumblings of the elite.

‘I don’t like football’ – get a job, hippy.

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Countries By Loose Ascending Ranking (and their most recent qualifiers):

Liechenstein: Only has 7 teams, and these teams play in the Swiss Football League. Therefore there is a high chance that no team from Liechenstein will ever qualify for any of the three European Club competitions.

San Marino: Famously one of the worst National teams in the world (perhaps unfair because they compete in Europe), San Marino nevertheless has its own league with 15 teams.

Champion’s Cup Qualifier: Tre Fiori

Europa Cup Qualifier: Folgore (with their awesome 700 capacity stadium)

Cup Winners Cup Qualifier: Tre Fiori

Malta: For a country with a population of around half a million, Malta has a fully fledged League and Cup football system. Its Premier League contains 16 teams.

Champion’s Cup Qualifier: Floriana

Europa Cup Qualifier: Valletta

Cup Winners Cup Qualifier: Balzan (whose Ground is part of a School)

Andorra: With a population lower than 80000, Andorra is unsurprisingly not a European Football powerhouse. Their position between the powerhouses of France and Spain does mean they know a thing or two about the game.

Champion’s Cup Qualifier: Inter Escaldes

Europa Cup Qualifier: FC Santa Coloma

Cup Winners Cup Qualifier: Inter Escaldes

Latvia: Perennial competitors against my own Northern Ireland, Latvia have a regular League and Cup system.

Champion’s Cup Qualifier: Riga FC

Europa Cup Qualifier: RFS

Cup Winners Cup Qualifier: FK RFS

Faroe Islands: Another Country which acts as the whipping boys for everyone else, they have been better in recent years.

Champion’s Cup Qualifier: Havnar Boltfelag

Europa Cup Qualifier: NSI Runavik

Cup Winners Cup Qualifier: HB or Vikingur

Gibraltar: This is where things get silly, as ‘The Rock’ has a population of less than 35000 – less than the capacity of most Premier League stadiums. Being a British territory, it has one of the longest histories of football in the world and they somehow have a domestic cup and multiple leagues.

Champion’s Cup Qualifier: Europa

Europa Cup Qualifier: ST Joseph’s

Cup Winners Cup Qualifier: Europa

Moldova: One of the more recent Countries, and one of several forming from the collapse of the USSR, Moldova still has a Cup and set of Leagues.

Champion’s Cup Qualifier: Sheriff Teraspol

Europa Cup Qualifier: Sfintul Gheorghe

Cup Winners Cup Qualifier: Petrocub Hincesti

Kazakhstan: Until recently the Kazakhstan Premier League was quite competitive, with 9 different Champions in its 29 year history – though Astana has dominated recently with 6 Titles in a row.

Champion’s Cup Qualifier: Kairat

Europa Cup Qualifier: Tobol

Cup Winners Cup Qualifier: Kaisar

Azerbaijan: Sadly the most famous piece of football history in Azerbaijan was that they were banned for 2 years by UEFA due to fraud.

Champion’s Cup Qualifier: Qarabag

Europa Cup Qualifier: Neftki Baku

Cup Winners Cup Qualifier: Gabala

Armenia: Another recent Eastern Bloc country, like others, Armenia has failed to qualify for any major national tournament. Also like other, their stadium sizes are fairly small and my be interesting if the big boys come to play.

Champion’s Cup Qualifier: Ararat Armenia

Europa Cup Qualifier: Lori

Cup Winners Cup Qualifier: Noah

Luxembourg: At the risk of sounding repetitive – another small nation with leagues and cup.

Champion’s Cup Qualifier: F91 Dudelange

Europa Cup Qualifier: Fola Esch

Cup Winners Cup Qualifier: Etzella Ettelbruck

Belarus: We’re getting to the more interesting countries now. Another former Soviet Union State, Belarus has only been around since the early 90s, but one of their teams has appeared numerous times in the Champion’s League, and two teams have been regulars in the Europa League (famously BATE was knocked out on goal difference by PSG in 2010-2011). At least this way they won’t have the long slog of qualifying rounds.

Champion’s Cup Qualifier: Shakhtyor Soligorsk

Europa Cup Qualifier: BATE

Cup Winners Cup Qualifier: BATE Borisov or Dynamo Brest

Kosovo: For a Country you probably know nothing about (beyond War) it has an impressive number of clubs and competitions.

Champion’s Cup Qualifier: Drita

Europa Cup Qualifier: Gjilani

Cup Winners Cup Qualifier: Prishtina

North Macedonia: The Country seems to be on an upward cycle, having narrowly missed out on winning Eurovision (if you’re into that sort of thing) and having qualified for Euro 2020 (or 2021 as it’s now called).

Champion’s Cup Qualifier: Vardar

Europa Cup Qualifier: Sileks

Cup Winners Cup Qualifier: Akademija Pandev

Georgia: You know the story – former USSR – fairly new.

Champion’s Cup Qualifier: Dinamo Tblisi

Europa Cup Qualifier: Dinamo Batumi

Cup Winners Cup Qualifier: Saburtalo

Lithuania: See above.

Champion’s Cup Qualifier: Zalgiris Vilnius

Europa Cup Qualifier: Sudova

Cup Winners Cup Qualifier: FK Panevezys

Slovenia: See above, but replace USSR with Yugoslavia.

Champion’s Cup Qualifier: Celja

Europa Cup Qualifier: Maribor

Cup Winners Cup Qualifier: Mura

Estonia: Estonia is one of those countries which looks set to finally begin qualifying for one of the major International competitions one of these years as those in charge change the rules to be more inclusive and expansive. As yet, the country has qualified for nowt.

Champion’s Cup Qualifier: Flora

Europa Cup Qualifier: Paide Linnameedskonde

Cup Winners Cup Qualifier: Narva Trans.

Cyprus: As a separate entity from Greece, Cyprus deserves its own representation. APOEL famously made it to the Quarter Finals of The Champions League in 2012 and has qualified on three other occasions. They also pop up in the Europa League from time to time, so they are not to be taken lightly.

Champion’s Cup Qualifier: APOEL

Europa Cup Qualifier: Apollon Limassol

Cup Winners Cup Qualifier: AEL Limassol

Montenegro: Splitting from Serbia in 2006, Montenegro is one of the most recent independent nations. As such the domestic league system has only been around for a couple of decades.

Champion’s Cup Qualifier: Budocnost

Europa Cup Qualifier: Sutjeska

Cup Winners Cup Qualifier: Lovcen (member of third league!)

Albania: We’re getting into the lower tier of nations who do actually qualify for major Championships.

Champion’s Cup Qualifier: KF Tirana

Europa Cup Qualifier: Kukesi

Cup Winners Cup Qualifier: Tueta

Greece: Greek teams have been a mainstay of top tier European competition for decades, but in recent years they’ve fallen away a bit not least due to their economy crisis. Nevertheless, there’s always at least couple of Greek Teams in the major tournaments – this new system will ensure they keep up the trend.

Champion’s Cup Qualifier: Olympiacos

Europa Cup Qualifier: PAOK

Cup Winners Cup Qualifier: Olympiacos or AEK.

Romania: Romania had a Golden Age when I was growing up in the 90s, but they haven’t quite kept up in the decades since, remaining a periphery nation.  Romania has had two major domestic competitions over the years, but their League Cup was recently abolished again leaving a solo Cup. Currently the League winners qualify for the 3rd Qualifying round of the Champion’s League, with the Cup Winner and 2nd and 3rd place League finishers making it to the Europa League qualification rounds. With my system, teams would be guaranteed a spot. Two teams have dominated Romanian football since the beginning, but recently those two teams have been outwitted and been much less successful on their own turf.

Champion’s Cup Qualifier: CFR Cluj

Europa Cup Qualifier: Universitatea Craiova

Cup Winners Cup Qualifier: Steaua Bucuresti

Hungary: Once a European powerhouse with one of the most successful teams in history, Hungary dipped into a deep decline for several decades. All points suggest a bit of a recent resurgence, though domestic teams have never had much success on the bigger stages. 4 teams make it to the qualifying rounds of the Euro Competitions currently, similar to Romania.

Champion’s Cup Qualifier: Ferencvarosi

Europa Cup Qualifier: Fehervar

Cup Winners Cup Qualifier: Budapest Honved

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Israel: I’m not sure why Israel football is ranked so highly, given they have not really achieved anything. They do compete on some of those other Cups that no-one cares about, but they’ve only appeared in a single World Cup and their domestic teams have not achieved much. Recent years have seen an impressive run list of appearances though. Current qualification is much the same as Hungary, however Israel does have two domestic Cups.

Champion’s Cup Qualifier: Maccabi Tel Aviv

Europa Cup Qualifier: Maccabi Haifa

Cup Winners Cup Qualifiers: Hapoel Be’er Sheva and Beitar Jerusalem

Bulgaria: Like Romania, these boys had a Golden Age in the 90s, but not much since. A number of domestic teams are mainstays in the Europa League currently.

Champion’s Cup Qualifier: Ludogorets Razgrad

Europa Cup Qualifier: Locomotiv Plovdiv

Cup Winners Cup Qualifier: Locomotiv Plovdiv or CSKA Sofia

Finland: The least successful of the major Nordic nations, Finnish domestic football isn’t exactly known for setting the continent on fire, with their biggest stars moving to bigger leagues.

Champion’s Cup Qualifier: HJK

Europa Cup Qualifier: FC Inter Turku

Cup Winners Cup Qualifier: HJK or FC Inter Turku.

Serbia: Now on its own after Montenegro split, Serbia still has a decent enough record in National and Domestic spaces, including memorably beating Germany in the World Cup (though followed up by losing to Australia). On the domestic front, teams from Serbia have been both finalists and winner in the major European competitions, though those days seem to be long gone.

Champion’s Cup Qualifier: Red Star Belgrade

Europa Cup Qualifier: Partizan

Cup Winners Cup Qualifier: Vojvodina

Norway: Norway has competed at the highest levels a few times in their history, but are not exactly a regular. Domestically quite competitive, with 17 League winners in less than 100 years, those clubs are not overly successful on the European front.

Champion’s Cup Qualifier: Bodo

Europa Cup Qualifier: Molde

Cup Winners Cup Qualifier: Viking

Scotland: While Scotland has produced a few all time great players and managers, their International form is poor compared with their neighbours, and their domestic League is dominated by two teams. Those teams do have a fairly decent record in Europe (along with a few notable exceptions in previous decades from other teams), and with my system we’re basically guaranteeing that Rangers and/or Celtic will be there every year. Plus we have genuinely big stadiums to host big teams. Scotland also has two Domestic Cups.

Champion’s Cup Qualifier: Celtic

Europa Cup Qualifier: Rangers

Cup Winners Cup Qualifiers: Hearts

Northern Ireland: As a Northern Ireland bloke, I have no qualms about saying our football is terrible. Sub-standard. Awful. But then again I’m not a patriot and couldn’t name a single player from our current squad. Billy Balaclava? Jonty Spud? George Best? The domestic front is a farce, with little or no dent on European football, but the National Team has improved in recent years to reaching the point of almost qualifying for things rather than being the laughing stock of the home nations. It amuses me no end imaging the likes of Barcelona and Liverpool possibly playing against Glentoran in the Champions League.  We do have two cups, so it increases the chances of glory/hilarity.

Champion’s Cup Qualifier: Linfield

Europa Cup Qualifier: Crusaders

Cup Winners Cup Qualifiers: Glentoran and Coleraine

Republic Of Ireland: Heading South of the border and things are only marginally better. The national team has had a fair go at things one or two times, but domestically there isn’t a huge history of success. At least my system guarantees a couple of clubs will be showcased worldwide.

Champion’s Cup Qualifier: Shamrock Rovers

Europa Cup Qualifier: Bohemians

Cup Winners Cup Qualifiers: Dundalk and Derry City

Turkey: Every so often Turkey sees a spike in performance both domestically and on the national side, though their domestic football teams see more consistently good results, with the same handful of teams outperforming the rest of the Turkish clubs.

Champion’s Cup Qualifier: Istanbul Basaksehir

Europa Cup Qualifier: Beziktas

Cup Winners Cup Qualifier: Trabzonspor

Slovakia: Slovakia have done well since splitting from the Czechs, and as a new independent nation they have had plenty of success – historically of course Czechoslovakia was a middling force in World football for 50 years.

Champion’s Cup Qualifier: Slovan Bratislava

Europa Cup Qualifier: Zilina

Cup Winners Cup Qualifier: Slovan Bratislava or MFK Ruzomberok.

Czech Republic: We’re getting into the big boys now. The Czech Republic had one of the best National teams I’ve ever seen for a period in the late 90s to early 2000s. It just so happened that other teams had their own brilliant individual players. A couple of the domestic clubs have real European heritage, though the lack of wins and finalists keeps them lower down the pecking order.

Champion’s Cup Qualifier: Slavia Prague

Europa Cup Qualifier: Viktoria Plzen

Cup Winners Cup Qualifier: Sparta Prague

Wales: The least successful of the home nations historically, with Wales being more of a Rugby country, Wales has seen one of the largest jumps in quality and success of any Country recently. On the domestic front, their best teams play in the English Leagues instead, but they do still have their own league and cups giving teams a better, but still small, chance of playing in Europe. Under my system, a couple will be guaranteed.

Champion’s Cup Qualifier: Connah’s Quay Nomads

Europa Cup Qualifier: The New Saints

Cup Winners Cup Qualifier: The New Saints and Connah’s Quay Nomads or STM Sports

Austria: Austria is one of those Countries which surprises me when they are so high in the rankings. Sure they’ve been in plenty of World Cups, but haven’t achieved much. Domestically, it is only in recent years that a small number of clubs have been making waves in Europe, typically feeding bigger teams with great players, yet still achieving.

Champion’s Cup Qualifier: RB Salzburg

Europa Cup Qualifier: LASK

Cup Winners Cup Qualifier: RB Salzburg or SC Austria Lustenau

Russia (Top 10 Nation): The dissolution of the Soviet Union had the impact of creating a bunch of independent nations with their own teams, but didn’t really slow or change Russia’s progress or quality. Russia either always qualifies or almost qualifies, and a few of their domestic teams have a rich history in Europe.

Champion’s Cup Qualifier: Zenit St Petersburg

Europa Cup Qualifier: Lokomotive Moscow and Krasnodar

Cup Winners Cup Qualifier: Zenit St Petersburg or Khimki.

Sweden: Sweden have been so close to winning a number of times, and as such they are a significant European force. The domestic league is less impressive, with most if not all of the best players quickly being snapped up elsewhere.

Champion’s Cup Qualifier: Malmo

Europa Cup Qualifier: IF Elsborg

Cup Winners Cup Qualifier: IFK Goteborg

Denmark: The most successful Nordic nation, Denmark’s fame is largely down to winning the Euros in 1992. Since then, their appearances and successes have been average. On the Domestic front, Danish teams tend to fare better in the Europa League but have had various impacts within the Champions League.

Champion’s Cup Qualifier: FC Midtjylland

Europa Cup Qualifier: Copenhagen

Cup Winners Cup Qualifier: Sonderjyske

Ukraine (Top 10 Nation): The biggest success since splitting from the USSR, Ukraine have had a number of high performing players leading to impressive appearances on the World and European stages, though they have been on a downward slide. Domestically two clubs dominate, and both clubs have a strong history in Europe, including Championship wins.

Champion’s Cup Qualifier: Shakhtar Donetsk

Europa Cup Qualifier: Dynamo Kyiv and Zorya Luhansk

Cup Winners Cup Qualifier: Dynamo Kyiv or Vorskla Poltava

Bosnia & Herzogovina: The breakaways from Yugoslavia with the second most success, even if success is a bit of a stretch given they’ve only qualified for a single World Cup.

Champion’s Cup Qualifier: Sarajevo

Europa Cup Qualifier: Zeljeznicar

Cup Winners Cup Qualifier: Sarajevo or Siroki Brijeg

Iceland: These guys came from nowhere, then took the world by storm in the 2010s. Like many of the nations above I’m sure this success or hype won’t last, but it has been enjoyable watching a bunch of unknowns from a Country known more for being ‘oh so quiet (sssh…. sssssh)’ topple the big boys.

Champion’s Cup Qualifier: Valur

Europa Cup Qualifier: Breioablik

Cup Winners Cup Qualifiers: KR, FH, and Vikingur Reykjavik

Germany (Top 5 Nation): I don’t know Germany is ranked so low on this coefficient list, but there you go. It’s Germany – you know them, you know their clubs.

Champion’s Cup Qualifier: Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig.

Europa Cup Qualifier: Borussia Monchengladbach, Bayern Leverkusen

Cup Winners Cup Qualifier: Bayern Leverkusen or Bayerm Munich

Poland: Winners once at the Olympics (which no-one really cares about, but should) and fairly frequent also-rans at the World Cup and the Euros, I don’t think anyone considers Poland or the Polish league as better than, or even on par with Germany. But there you go.

Champion’s Cup Qualifier: Legia Warsaw

Europa Cup Qualifier: Piast Gliwice

Cup Winners Cup Qualifier: Cracovia and Lechia Gdasnk

Croatia: The biggest success story of the Yugoslavia split, Croatia have been more successful than the likes of England in the last 30 years, finishing 3rd and 2nd in World Cups. Their domestic competitions don’t match the success of their international team as once again the best players move to the big leagues.

Champion’s Cup Qualifier: Dinamo Zagreb

Europa Cup Qualifier: Lokomotiva

Cup Winners Cup Qualifier: Rijeka

Italy (Top 5 Nation): You know the Country, the teams, the players.

Champion’s Cup Qualifier: Juventus. Inter Milan. Atalanta.

Europa Cup Qualifier: Lazio. Roma.

Cup Winners Cup Qualifier: Napoli and Juventus.

Spain: (Top 5 Nation): You know the Country, the teams, the players.

Champion’s Cup Qualifier: Real Madrid. Barcelona. Athletico Madrid.

Europa Cup Qualifier: Sevilla. Villareal.

Cup Winners Cup Qualifier: Real Sociodad and Athletic Bilbao.

Belgium (Top 10 Nation): Belgium was a nothing team for decades, then had a Golden Age in the 80s -90s, and then in the early Noughties the odd very good player would pop up and there were whisperings of a new power rising in the East. Suddenly a batch of very very good players came at the same time, propelling Belgium into the big time. Will it last? Domestically the nation has a hit and miss history, with a few sides notable for their successes.

Champion’s Cup Qualifier: Club Brugge.

Europa Cup Qualifier: Gent. Charleroi.

Cup Winners Cup Qualifier: Antwerp

France (Top 5 Nation): You know the Country, the teams, the players.

Champion’s Cup Qualifier: PSG. Marseille. Rennes.

Europa Cup Qualifier: Lille. Nice

Cup Winners Cup Qualifier: PSG or St Etienne and Lyon.

Portugal (Top 10 Country): The underperformer when rated alongside neighbours Spain, Portugal have nevertheless had a lot of success domestically, and recently as a Country.

Champion’s Cup Qualifier: Porto

Europa Cup Qualifier: Benfica and Braga.

Cup Winners Cup Qualifier: Porto or Benfica or Academico de Viseu or Famalicao

Netherlands (Top 10 Country): Neither the force they had been in recent eras nationally or domestically, Netherlands still manages to produce some of the best players in the world and you can’t write the Nation or their teams off.

Champion’s Cup Qualifier: Ajax

Europa Cup Qualifier: Alkmaar and Feyenoord

Cup Winners Cup Qualifier: Utrecht and Feyenoord (Cancelled due to Covid)

England (Top 5 Country): It’s the biggest, most successful, richest, most competitive, and best league in the world. Or at least it was till they started making changes and employed shockingly bad referees.

Champion’s Cup Qualifier: Liverpool. Man City. Man Utd.

Europa Cup Qualifier: Chelsea. Leicester.

Cup Winners Cup Qualifier: Arsenal and Man City or Tottenham

Switzerland: No idea why they are so high, but they’re the last time on the list, thank thy Lord.

Champion’s Cup Qualifier: Young Boys.

Europa Cup Qualifier: St Gallen

Cup Winners Cup Qualifier: Young Boys or Basel

FIFA Club World Cup 2019 - News - Firmino writes Liverpool into Club World  Cup history - FIFA.com

So if we take the 2019 – 2020 Season as an example, below is what this season’s imaginary competitions could have looked like. Just look at the amount of unnecessary effort I put into this! For the Cup Winners Cup, in those instances where the Cup Winner had already qualified, I’ve just gone with the easiest route and let the runner up qualify.

Champions Cup First Round

Sheriff Teraspol VS RB Salzburg     Bodo VS Marseille                Zenit St Petersberg VS Qarabag

Juventus VS Budocnost                 Drita VS Istanbul Basaksehir  APOEL VS Barcelona

Liverpool VS PSG                           HJK VS Maccabi Tel Aviv        Borussia Dortmund VS Ararat Armenia

KF Tirana VS Sarajevo                    Malmo VS FC Midtyjlland      Ajax VS Porto

Slavia Prague VS Connah’s Quay Nomads                                   Kairat VS Shamrock Rovers

Riga FC VS Shakhtyor Soligorsk    Atalanta VS Vardar                 Athletico Madrid VS Man City

Ferencvarosi VS Red Star                                                              Shaktar Donestsk VS Inter Escalades

Rennes VS Inter Milan                   Celja VS Zalgiris Vilnius          RB Leipzig VS F91 Dudelange

Ludogorets VS Flora                     Dinamo Tblisi VS Tre Fiori       Man UTD VS Dinamo Zagreb

Floriana VS Linfield                                                                       Havnar Boltfelag VS Olympiacos

Young Boys VS Legia Warsaw      CFR Clug VS Valur                    Real Madrid VS Slovan Bratislava

Bayern Munich VS Club Brugge                                                   Celtic VS Europa

Okay, so the money men may not be happy with that draw given that a couple of the favourites will be knocked out at the first hurdle. Liverpool VS PSG is the pick of the bunch. PSG are multi time Billionaires, but haven’t won much in Europe, versus 6 time winners Liverpool. One of them will be going home with nothing. Ajax and Porto could be interesting – both former winners but both shadows of their former selves. Man City’s plastic billionaires could slip up against an always tricky Athletico Madrid but elsewhere the big teams should pass through – Brugge shouldn’t have enough to stop Munich, Madrid should get past Bratislava, while Utd could have a tricky enough time against Dinamo Zagreb. Barcelona, Inter, Dortmund, Juventus all go through untroubled. Plenty of tiny and middling teams will therefore progress to the next round and get more of that sweet sweet qualifying and viewer cash. Ironically, Floriana and Linfield met last year in the Europa Qualifiers, with Floriana winning so the Northern Ireland champions will be out for revenge. Eventually some of the minnows are bound to meet up with the big boys – and probably be destroyed – but it all raises their profile and could help them become true competitors in the future. At the very least – something to tell the grandkids.

Europa Cup First Round

Dynamo Kiev VS Benfica                Sutjeska VS Breioablik          Lazio VS Universitatea Craiova

Lille VS Sfintul Gheorghe               Partizan VS Krasnodar          Maribor VS FC Inter Turku

FK RFS VS St Josephs                     Maccabi Haifa VS BATE        LASK VS The New Saints

Lokomotiv Moscow VS PAOK        Kukesi VS Apollon Limassol  Chelsea VS Braga

Piast Gliwice VS St Gallen              Besiktas VS Viktoria Plzen    Crusaders VS AZ Alkmaar

IF Elsborg VS Gent                        Nice VS Neftki Baku              Paide Linnameeskond VS Feyonoord

Roma VS Lokomotiv Plovdiv        Sevilla VS Zorya Luhansk       Tobol VS Folgore

Dinamo Batumi VS Sileks             Molde VS FC Santa Coloma   Fola Esch VS Villareal

Fehervar VS Lokomotiva              Bohemians VS Gjilani             Charleroi VS Bayern Leverkusen

Leicester VS NSI Runavik             Zilina VS Valetta                      Sudova VS Rangers

Zeljeznicar VS Lori                       Copenhagen VS Borussia Monchengladbach

Lets take a look at the pick of this round – the first match out of the hat is the tastiest, two decent teams and only one can go through – no matter who loses, most other teams’ chances go up by one. Chelsea VS Braga could be interesting, on paper Chelsea should have no problems but Braga won’t lie down. Crusaders get a tough tie against Alkmaar, Europa League specialists should knock out Zorya, Leicester will enjoy a trip to the Faroe Islands. A few other tight contests and always the slight chance of an upset.

Cup Winners Cup First Round

Sonderjyske VS Gabala                    Hearts VS Basel                    Steaua Bucuresti VS FK Panevezys

Antwerp VS MFK Ruzomberok        Khimki VS FK RFS                 Prishtina VS Etzella Ettelbruck

Noah VS Arsenal                             Vojvodina VS Viking              Lechia Gdansk VS Inter Escalada

Budapest Honved VS Feyenoord    HJK VS Sparta Prague           Coleraine VS Siroki Brijeg

Lovcen VS Derry City                                                                     Vikingur Reykjavik VS Narva Trans

Balzan VS Hapoel Be’er Sheva        Lyon VS The New Saints        KR VS Tueta

Kaisar VS IFK Goterborg                                                                Tottenham VS Dynamo Brest

Athletic Bilbao VS Tre Fiori              Cracovia VS St Etienne          Akademija Pandev VS AEK

Bayern Munich VS CSKA Sofia        Europa VS Vikingur               Mura VS Glentoran

Dundalk VS Academico De Viseu   Rijeka VS Utrecht                   FH VS Trabzonspor

SC Austria Lustenau VS AEL Limassol                                           Saburtalo VS Napoli

STM Sports VS Petrocab Hincesti                                                 Beitar Jerusalem VS Vorskla Poltava

I admit than on the surface that’s a crappy line-up, and not a lot for the purists to enjoy. But that’s always been the case for these competitions and it’ll be the fans tuning in rather than the general public/fans of other teams. Still, a few matches stand out – Bayern Munich should easily be winning this competition (assuming they don’t play a B Team) but they have a tough first tie against CSKA Sofia. Elsewhere there’s little chance of giant killing – Spurs should comfortably beat Dynamo Brest, Arsenal should destroy NOAH (who have only existed for a couple of years), and Napoli should have no problems. Hearts VS Basel could be interesting, and for selfish reasons (given that I’m friendly with their manager and his wife) Coleraine travel to Bosnia.

Finally. There you have it. What do you think? What is your preferred format for elite European football? Do you like the current set up of the Champions League and Europa League? Would you like to see a third Competition created/reinstated to give other clubs that extra shot of money? Let us know in the comments!

In Your Room

*Originally written in 2009

See the source image

Anneke’s 3rd release since leaving The Gathering shows further growth as an individual artist and as a whole is a much lighter album than any previous work. I say ‘lighter’ with a positive slant, as this album goes for a more straight forward pop approach, revelling in Beatles-esque melodies rather than some of the more downbeat, introspective, and slower songs from previous albums. There is a sense that Anneke is smiling throughout each track and the sheer joy of writing and performing shines through. Some fans may not agree with the direction she has taken here, but there are still plenty of traditional rock moments. At its core, this is another emotional piece covering a wide array of thoughts and feelings brought to our ears by her heavenly voice.

‘Pearly’ opens the album in a suitably left of centre melodic manner. Twanging chords build gradually, while Anneke sings of desire in an openly horny fashion. The verse and chorus are catchy without being instant ear worms, and she substitutes a guitar solo with her own vocal ‘doos and dees’ – something I always enjoy. This is a strong opener which tends to grow on the listener as time passes.

‘Hey Okay!’ was the lead single and highlights the overall direction of the album. It is probably the most pop-sounding song she has ever written, and as a result is one of her most fun and infectious. It certainly isn’t the sort of fluff which makes up the charts, but rather returns to the days when melody was master and wit and talent followed in tow. Lyrically, it is a partner to the opening track as it continues the subtly sexual themes, but musically it bounces along with one of the most repeatable choruses in recent memory. The song even ends with some tongue in cheek cheerleading vocals.

‘I Want’ continues the light, bouncy introduction to the album, except that the lyrics here are more biting, dealing presumably with some guy or guys and their problems. There are some hilarious synth sounds throughout which give a retro feel and add to the humour of the lyrics, whether intentionally or not. Once again, the ‘do-di-dos’ are extremely catchy and will repeat in your head throughout the day, most often at inappropriate moments.

‘Wonder’ is the first quiet, piano driven, introspective song and as such has a downbeat tone and some heartbreaking lyrics. It re-treads some similar ground from Air but improves upon her debut’s efforts with this feeling much more tuned to heartache and sounding more relatable. It is a simple song, one of loss, one with deep feeling, and one whose simplicity will haunt the listener who has been through a similar situation.

‘The World’ opens with an ominous build-up and a series of questions directed at the listener about the state of The World. The male vocals drop in the second verse to give a different level of texture and tone before the pair duet for the chorus. This is a decent mid-album track which would have more impact in a live setting.

‘Sunny Side Up’ returns us to the lighter side of things in glorious fashion; a lovely, simple, summer song that I can find no fault with. Instantly contagious thanks to beautiful melodies throughout, and a nice string middle section replacing the usual guitar solo. Who’s Miranda?

‘Physical’ begins in acoustic fashion albeit with bitter lyrics and angry vocals which reach a wonderful peak in the chorus. Nice chorus harmonies too. I like how this one switches between sensual and angry, light and dark very easily and quickly, echoing the ‘you…me’ lyrical style. Another novel touch is replacing, or echoing the guitar solo with Anneke’s voice.

‘Home Again’ is the second sullen piano led track, and while it doesn’t pay off as well as the first, it still has strong moments, particularly on the ‘stormy day’ line thanks to the painfully yearning vocals. The verse and chorus seem a little too barren and unaffecting to have a huge emotional impact, but I’m sure there are plenty who will see this as a favourite – just not for me.

‘Wide Open’ is one of the heavier songs on the album, featuring a driving bass line and an interesting series of guitar riffs. The verses aren’t particularly memorable, but the chorus vocals are fairly powerful and the lyrics give off both a blasé air of disinterest and an honest, thankful sentiment.

‘Longest Day’ is my least favourite track on the album, a little too uneventful. There isn’t anything wrong here – it isn’t bland, it just doesn’t have enough to make it stand out from the other softer songs presented. There are good moments, naturally, like some of the melodic parts pre-chorus, and during the chorus – it feels like another track cut from Air as it has the dreamy, thoughtful sensation which permeated that album.

‘Just Fine’ is one of my favourites, a calming mid-paced rocker which has Devin Townsend’s influence all over it. I love both the verse and chorus melodies, both showing off Anneke’s wonderful range, but without doing anything spectacular. It’s another sunny, snappy song.

‘Adore’ closes the album in strong fashion, a 5 star track with stormy guitars and notable melding of vocals and melody. Anneke weaves between the usual soaring sounds and more rough edged vocals where a touch of gravel adds that extra something special. The way the melodies rise and fall along with the guitars is particularly glorious, and although the chorus is a little uneventful, it only lasts a few seconds each time.

While Air was a distinctly cold, and almost barren affair musically (not a bad thing) In Your Room is altogether warmer in tone and theme, with a much fuller musical soundscape. There are more driving rock songs, there is more variety, and there are a selection of standout memorable tracks which deserve more recognition. Anneke here has clearly found her own voice and style, and is having fun writing, recording, and performing. When the output is as strong as this, both she and us should have no complaints.

Let us know in the comments what you think of In Your Room!

1980 Academy Awards – An Introduction

53rd Academy Awards.jpg

The 53rd Academy Awards saw Johnny Carson leading the proceedings once again and featured Ordinary People picking up the most wins, with The Elephant Man, Raging Bull, and The Coal Miner’s Daughter and others earning high numbers of nominations. This year saw many interesting movies in multiple genres being awarded or nominated, and of course many others not appearing at all. As we proceed into the 80s we’ll be getting into the territory of the films I know and love most and as such the number of films which would never get nominated in a million years in the real world, will be nominated by me. Exciting!

Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton were some of the performers this year, while Lilian Gish, Peter Ustinov, Luciano Pavarotti, and Sigourney Weaver were some of those handing out the awards. Henry Fonda got an Honorary Award, as did the Special Effects team who worked on The Empire Strikes Back.

Join us over the next few weeks to see which films I nominated and awarded, and feel free to add your thoughts and picks!

Ranking The 2nd Law – Muse

Muse – The 2nd Law (2012, Vinyl) - Discogs

Similar to the last album, this is a more consistent affair without a single song I strongly dislike, but with few clear highs. My number 1 is head and shoulders above the others, the next eight songs are roughly similar in my estimation, and then the last few are a step further behind.

1.Madness

2. Follow Me.

3. Save Me.

4. Panic Station.

5. Big Freeze.

6. Animals.

7. Unsustainable.

8. Survival.

9. Supremacy.

10. Liquid State.

11. Isolated System.

12. Explorers.

13. Prelude.

Let us know your ranking in the comments!

Ranking The Resistance By Muse

Muse – The Resistance (2009, Gatefold Card Sleeve, CD) - Discogs I think this is the first Muse album where there isn’t a song I can point to and say ‘I don’t like that one’. However, there are fewer highs than any album so far. The title track is one of their best, but most of the songs are middling and forgettable. The Exogenesis piece I anticipated was going to be wonderful and the perfect next step for a band as overblown as Muse to take, but it’s a little bland and turns out it’s not the sort of thing I want from Muse. This also represents the turning point in my fandom timeframe – I began to not care as much about the band as I had in their (and my) earlier days. No bad songs, but if someone told me to sing a bit from anything other than my top two picks, I wouldn’t be able to.
  1. Resistance
  2. Undisclosed Desires.
  3. MK Ultra.
  4. Unnatural Selection.
  5. Guiding Light.
  6. Uprising.
  7. I Belong To You (Mon Couer S’Ouvre a Ta Voix).
  8. United States Of Eurasia (and Collateral Damage).
  9. Exogenesis.
Let us know your ranking in the comments!

The Ultimate Wrestlemania – Part One

Greetings, Glancers! It’s Wrestlemania weekend – or at least it is when I’m writing this. I was watching some of the ponderous build-up to the biggest event in Sports Entertainment and was pleased to see some time (too much time) dedicated to a panel discussion on ‘The Ultimate Wrestlemania’. Basically, a bunch of Wrestling fan nobodies had to create their fantasy Ultimate Wrestlemania card – 10 matches which they would love to see. The interesting this is that they could pick any wrestler from any era, any wrestler alive or dead, and pit them against any other wrestler. This naturally had me and the family thinking about our own dream matches, and as I’m not averse to writing every little pointless thing which pops into my head, that’s exactly what I’ll be doing in the next post – my fantasy Wrestlemania. I take even more liberties with the format and pull in performers from other promotions. But that’s for later. For now, I just wanted to look at the panel’s picks.

 

Before I go any further, it’s worth noting that the guys know their stuff, and go into a whole hell of a lot of detail on each match, down to gimmicks, who wins, the length of each match, costumes, entrances etc. I don’t care about any of that. Also, while many potential matchups were discussed and discarded meaning a lot of big names obviously don’t make it on, they also seem to have gone for people known for having big Wrestlemania matches and moments. In my list, I’ve simply gone with a mixture of my favourites and who I would love to have seen in a match together. Plus, my list will be limited to those I grew up with or have a lot of experience in watching.

Trish Stratus Vs Sasha Banks: As loose as free-wheeling as this discussion was, I’m sure someone high up the chain had a word beforehand and said ‘you need to include <insert current popular superstar’s name here> on the show, or it ain’t happening’. Presumably that’s why this match exists. Technically this match could still happen, as unlikely as that is, but these Hall Of Famers coming out of retirement to take on the current roster is a thing that still goes on (Edge Vs Bryan Vs Reigns anyone?). But out of all the female wrestlers there have been and currently are, this is your pick? I liked Trish – didn’t think she was much of a wrestler at the start, and certainly improved, but for whatever reason she is the WWE’s main Ambassador for kick-starting the female wrestling revolution. Sasha Banks is the current champ, so sure. They’re both… sassy? Seems like a decent match, but it would be fairly low down my list of fantasy matches.

Big E Vs Goldberg: Now what in the actual fuck is this? Like most sane people, I can’t stand The New Day. They’re fine, but WWE has had this thing over the past few years of only pushing like three teams – The New Day, The Bar, The Uzos. We have finally seen each of those teams split/disband, or change, but the constant title changes between these three and hardly anyone else, has been very very silly. The New Day – kids like them, they sell a lot of merch. But a singles match featuring Big E is not something which would interest me, and the fact that he’s put up against Goldberg seems pointless. I assume they’re picking peak Goldberg, at which point this match would last all of about 50 seconds. I’m sure Big E will continue this current push in breaking out as a solo star, but he’s nowhere near on Goldberg’s level. This one is a complete mystery.

Dudley Boyz VS Hardey Boyz VS The New Day VS Legion Of Doom (TLC Match): A no brainer. Of the many times Jeff, Matt, Devon, and Bubba have met, the TLC matches are all time classics. With this being a fantasy Card, why not chuck in a couple of teams who never had the chance to meet. I wouldn’t go with The New Day, though I can see them giving this one a fair go, but Legion Of Doom seem like a better fit for what is essentially a chaotic Attitude Era match. We have two high flying teams against two brawling teams – seems like a match made in heaven.

The Rock VS Shawn Michaels (HHH Special Guest Ref): One of the big dream matches which never really happened – arguably the most popular Superstar of all time taking on one of the finest Wrestlemania performers ever. The legend goes that the two didn’t get on in real life and therefore didn’t want that to make it onto screen or in the ring. Again it seems like a no brainer that a match these two at their peak, would be one for the ages.

Charlotte Vs Beth Phoenix Vs Chyna: This is where things get interesting – three generations of performer who never really had the chance to meet, including the late Chyna. Each of these ladies is known for their power game with Chyna not having anyone decent to face off against in her day, with Beth coming later, and with Charlotte the current leader – although more and more female performers are coming into the fray – Shayna, Rhea, Bianca etc. I’m not a huge fan of triple threats, but this would be a cool match to see.

Yokozuna Vs Roman Reigns: Two legends, and of course they were related. I’m not sure what sort of match this would be – assuming you pick a more agile Yokozuna I can see this being fairly entertaining. There’s so much of a different style between the two – not just because of their body and character types, but because of the eras they found themselves in. I’d of course be curious to see how it would go, but I don’t think it would be a personal highlight.

Undertaker Vs Macho Man: This is one of those matches you assumed must have happened all the time back in the day, but it didn’t. Macho was bigger in the 80s while Taker only really hit it off in the early 90s and while the two crossed paths there was never a huge feud. This is a case of legend versus legend, and that’s exactly what these fantasy cards are all about.

Hogan Vs Cena: This is one of those dream matches that almost happened and which people have dreamed of. Cena gets a lot of hate and Hogan… well we all know Hogan has made mistakes. But there’s no doubting both are highest of the highest icons in the biz. Peak Hogan against peak Cena would be a spectacle, no doubt.

CM Punk Vs Stone Cold Steve Austin: Honestly, CM Punk’s time in WWE was the same time I’d stopped watching, so I essentially missed his whole era. I’ve caught a few of his highlights on the Network, but mostly I’ve stuck to the major PPVs. I didn’t think much of him when he started out and I think he remains a divisive figure. Whatevs. If people think this would be a good match, great, there’s other people I’d like to see Austin drop.

Becky Lynch and Bret Hart Vs Ronda Rousey and Brock Lesnar: This is another strange one for me, where they seem to have gone for star power and preference – again, if these guys are your preferences that’s fine. I could get on board with this if the story was interesting, but I’m not a big fan of any of these guys. Bret is a legend, no doubt, but he’s so much of a grump that it’s difficult seeing him tag with anyone these days. I’d stick him here with Natalya. I never got on the Becky Lynch bandwagon – the whole The Man shtick works, but got old very quickly. I find her quite a sloppy performer when compared with many of the other ladies, and The Man shtick started out as a Heel turn which didn’t work because she’s so inexplicably popular. I like Ronda – she wasn’t given a decent chance to shine and the crowd took a great dislike to her. Her move-set may have been limited, but she had a lot of potential. And Brock? Look, Brock is a beast. The Beast. But lets face it, he’s only so popular because of Paul Heyman. Take Heyman away, and Brock becomes another Lars Sullivan, albeit a more capable performer and athletic freak. I’d like to see Brock against another freak, I’d like to see Bret against a similar technical wrestler, like Eddie Guerrero.

Next time I’m going to present my ideal Wrestlemania card – for now, let us know your thoughts on the panel’s matches above, and feel free to share some fantasy matches of your own!