Iskaral Pust

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Everything posted by Iskaral Pust

  1. Finished Last Orders by Caimh McDonnell, concluding his Dublin Trilogy that’s actually a tetralogy because you have to read the prequel (published during the trilogy) before reading the concluding novel. Like the others, this has some great Irish humor as a well-plotted mystery unfolds for the cast of oddballs. This one does rely on some deus ex machina for the bad guys at the climax, but it doesn’t ruin the book. My biggest concern is that Caimh announces at the end that his next book will follow Bunny McGarry as he strikes out on his own from the rest of the oddballs and misfits, basically following the structure and overall arc of the prequel, which was the weakest novel by far. I’m not sure I want to follow Bunny as a solo or majority POV without the sad sacks Paul and Phil nor the level-headed Bridget (and Nora was a great addition this time), nor do I want improbably powerful American antagonists who can infiltrate the FBI and send assassins. It’s not Jason Bourne. This has been a great series but I wish the author would stick to his strengths. I can’t imagine Bunny, the hurley-wielding culchie with a Cork accent, working in an American setting. But the Dublin trilogy itself is highly recommended. And the Irish humor is always accessible to other readers, unlike the excellence of Ross O’Carroll-Kelly that would be largely impenetrable to non-Irish.
  2. I was thinking that ~30 would be a good number to expect, but Goodreads shows 17 complete already this year. But my reading goals are generally more qualitative: keep a good variety of styles, tones, genres and depth; try new authors; be patient with some books that aren’t really hitting the spot, while knowing when to drop ones that aren’t going to be worth it; throw in some non-fiction too, although I already read a lot of short form non-fiction for work; don’t waste time on stuff that’s supposed to great but is really just trading on reputation (Holden Caulfield, you whiny bastard, you phoney), and don’t disdain genre novels that might be well written.
  3. I know there’s plenty still to go but Leinster are blowing away Scarlets in their semi-final.
  4. No surprise that WBA suddenly fighting for some pride, and to make Pardew look bad, were able to snatch a point. They piled forward for those late set pieces almost as heavily as they piled into dangerous tackles all day. A pity the ref was so completely useless and allowed a bunch of reckless cloggers with nothing to lose to endanger our players. Hopefully no-one was hurt too badly. Nice that we could rotate some players and manage subs to rest others. Moreno wasn’t able to recapture his good form, and Gomez mostly was. I’m very happy for Ings to score and play well — I hope he can build on this and become Firmino’s back-up.
  5. Every Chicago winter, and slow-arriving spring, makes me more certain that we'll try a warmer climate after our son finishes high school. That's seven years away, but the fantasy helps sustain me in the meantime. It's very early to speculate where exactly. My wife's parents live near Atlanta and will probably need some help as they age (they'll be in their early 80s then), but I like to spare a thought for San Diego or Orange County, Phoenix (although I'd prefer somewhere at some altitude in Arizona or New Mexico, while still accessible to a decent sized city), Charlotte, Miami or Austin. I don't think I could try the more redneck locations (it's bad enough to go to small cities like those), no matter how nice the beaches and inexpensive the real estate. I've a friend who claims Chattanooga is an over-looked gem but it sounds like a stretch. I'd even like to return to Seattle and regain the trade-off of snowboarding during the winter grey, but I think my wife is done on Seattle.
  6. I thought Pep said they were offered Pogba in January? That seems more tangible than the usual clickbait. if Mourinho and Pogba both stay, I don’t see his situation improving. The tactics and role in the team won’t suit him, and the gap in his form for Utd vs France and Juventus will continue to attract negative headlines that will make Mourinho even more bitter. (Potential World Cup winner this summer?). United will be reluctant to sell their Galactico (although DDG is their only true star player) but would prefer to remove this constant source of negative attention. Selling Pogba isn’t simple either. It could be like DiMaria: they’ve destroyed some of his market value since they bought him.
  7. I thought PSG had denied those reports.
  8. That was a shock when former Arsenal players started reporting it. There’s definitely a lot of room for a bounce under a new manager, from tactics, player motivation and player recruitment. As a Liverpool fan, I just have to hope that Arsenal balls it up and find their own version of Juande Ramos or Tim Sherwood. I’ll be enjoying all the links to Henry, Vieira, Adams, Bould and Arteta for the role. I think Tuchel is probably best to build on what they have already in talent and style, but it sounds like he and the DoF had a falling out at Dortmund. Ancelotti will improve them but would be a short term appointment and leave them with the problem of changing manager every two years.
  9. Congratulations to Wenger on an incredible career with the Gunners. He is arguably Arsenal’s version of Shankley. I know Arsenal were big and successful beforehand, but Wenger remade them as an institution and a culture. Stagnation made it feel like he overstayed, but he won three of the last four FA Cups and has a shot at the EL this year. Stubbornness can be a positive and a negative in a great manager, and I think his extended stay reflects more on the board’s complacency and priorities. As I’ve posted before, other than Istanbul, Liverpool fans would happily swap the last 22 years with Arsenal fans. It’s a big risk to change manager. Look at Liverpool post-Dalglish, Utd post-Ferguson or Spurs pre-Pochettino. Only Chelsea have made it work for them. As a squad, Arsenal have a large potential for a new manager bounce (similar to United now but unlike Utd as Moyes arrived), but it’s also a team that could conceivably require huge overhaul. Cech, Mustafi, Kos, Mertesacker, Chambers, Xhaka, Cazorla all look irretrievably past their best or else far below the level they showed prior to Arsenal. Bellerin is quality but has declined badly (like Ox had) but, if he stays, could rediscover his form. Elneny, Wilshire, Holding and Iwobi look like squad players. So that leaves, what, Auba, Ozil, Lacazette, Ramsey, Monreal, and Mkhitaryan as starters to build the team around, with Kolasinac and M-N as possible starters or squad level. That’s not a small ask.
  10. Good call. I do that at home with a hard massage ball against the wall. I look like a bear trying to scratch its back but it works.
  11. So frustrating! As I was walking to work on this sub-freezing Monday morning, a muscle in my back (around the right shoulder blade) tightened and locked up. Now it has stayed tight and sore all week, even with plenty of heat, ibuprofen, rest and even a massage last night. In fact, it’s tighter and sorer today than before. So no workout this midweek and probably nothing at the weekend either. With lots of work travel next week, I doubt I’ll be back until the following weekend. So frustrating! I’m pretty sure the source of the problem is the new posture brace I wore for the first time on Sunday. Of course I ignored the direction to start at only 15 minutes per day and build up slowly. I didn’t feel any strain as I wore it, so I kept it on for a few hours. Such warnings are only for litigious hunchbacked weaklings. I just drowned my frustration in chocolate cake. When I fall off the wagon, I go tumbling and sprawling.
  12. Finished Traitor’s Blade by Sebastien De Castell, first in the Greatcoats series. It’s a fantasy (very minor magic, basically just an alternative world version of 17th century France) very similar to The Three Musketeers without D’Artagnian. The Greatcoats duel with rapiers as they face off against lawless brigands and especially the soldiers of corrupt aristocratic authorities who have undermined the noble ideal of the king’s justice by devolving from an attempt at a centralized monarchy. It’s almost like propaganda for Louis XIV mixed with a story of nation building. The evil aristocracy oppressed the people but the rightful king would restore justice and rule of law. It’s told from a single POV narrated in the first person. The prose is pretty good but the style definitely tends toward melodramatic anguish to emphasize the righteousness of rule of law. Characterization is limited outside of the POV. The three central characters have the comedic by-play of longtime friends without it feeling forced or too modern. It’s not bad, and possibly even good if it wasn’t a repetitive style after Iron Gold, but it didn’t leave me eager to read the rest of the series.
  13. I definitely agree with that, I would have just preferred another color. I guess red was the bottom of the pyramid and therefore the biggest post-freedom story to tell, but we’ve already seen plenty of red.
  14. Otamendi? City’s defenders seem great until they actually have to defend. It’s questionable whether any of them have defended well enough to merit inclusion. Walker was shown up badly too recently, although I cannot think of any RB who has done especially well. I’m a bit surprised that Spurs get three representatives despite being a distant fourth in the PL; and their best form of the season has been since January IIRC. All three are fine players but it seems to reflect a halo effect from media coverage. Other than maybe Robertson, I’ve no complaints about Liverpool’s paucity of representation. Andy only played half the season, so did VVD — even if he improved an entire defense in the process. Liverpool have had some very good performances this year beyond Salah: notably Firmino, Milner, Trent, Gomez, Andy and Karius all showing big improvement and/or more than was expected for this season, plus Lovren has been significantly better in recent months. None of them are the stand-out at their position for the entire league, but it has been the breadth of our quality and the improved balance in our system that brought us within touching distance of second place (until we face-planted at OT and then got distracted by our CL adventure). I thought Kante or Fernandinho were worthy of inclusion. The team shape is heavily biased toward the glamour positions: strikers and playmakers abound in the front six. Salah’s unusual level of goals for a wide position is the only thing that saves this from being three #9s and three #10s. I realize people are voting for individuals rather than a team composition.
  15. I assume Americans need the discount to make up for not having background context on the glitz and geopolitics of the Eurovision song contest. I haven't read Valente before so $4.99 isn't bad for a Marmite experiment.
  16. Saturday was shoulder press, pull-ups, etc. Despite feeling sluggish and having a minor strain in my back, no doubt from no warm-up before table tennis, I was back to PB levels and added sets. I moved slightly slowly to make sure the back strain didn’t flare up, but I still got 75 pull-ups across six sets. That felt great after a slightly off day a week earlier. Sunday was legs day and went really well. Still maintaining my new PB level and added an extra heaviest set of squats, and dropped slightly deeper on squats throughout. Today will be all about sore legs.
  17. Sorry to hear it. You probably tried running too soon, and perhaps hiking too soon too. I remember being told the MCL needs six weeks of rest and then return very gently to see how much it can bear. You don’t want to get into an open-ended situation where it never fully recovers. When I had an MCL strain, I limited myself to necessary walking only for the six weeks (no hiking), plenty of RICE, and then started back with the knee flexibility exercises and some light running. It never bothered me again. Best of luck.
  18. United may play boring football but you have to respect their range. A victory against the runaway league leaders followed immediately (with plenty of rest) by a loss at home to the bottom team brings a different kind of interest. It used to only be Liverpool and occasionally Arsenal who could manage swings like that.
  19. Thanks Kalbear for posting the review. I was eager to hear if it would live up the descriptions and samples. Added to the reading list.
  20. Well done City. I’m surprised Spurs couldn’t score another with Fernandinho absent. Sterling’s goal contribution to this title win has been really significant, especially some of the late winners early in the season. He has developed his anticipation and timing to become a decent poacher close to goal, while still offering his usual contribution as a wide forward. But the amount of easy chances he fluffs is still incredible. I guess the positive is that he could take his goals tally even higher next season. To be fair, Mo Salah missed plenty of good chances too this year, especially early in the season. And Suarez did the same in his first season and a half for Liverpool. Sometimes it’s more important that you’re getting plenty of chances to miss. It’s easier to improve your finishing than to improve your rate of getting chances.
  21. Good start by City. It looked like it shouldn’t be a penalty — just outside the box — but why didn’t Jesus finish it first time on his left foot instead of turning inside? I’m sure dirty Spurs will be clogging away for the rest of the game.
  22. I watched the first two eps of Legion S2. It continues the incredible style and mind-bending twists from S1.
  23. They sat very deep against us for most of the game. They were 1-0 down from very early and stayed deep until around 75 minutes. They weren’t naive and open, but we’ve had lots of practice at finding that first goal against a deep team and then picking them off whenever they do come out. Ake is a very good player but he does seem to save his best for us. I think his style works well against ball-playing attackers. I haven’t seen how well he would do against counter-attacks or long balls that Liverpool’s defense tends to face.
  24. Liverpool looked very tired in the last ten minutes but Bobby closed it out nicely after conspiring to miss an easier chance five minutes ago. Edit to mention: Ox does really well for us when the game gets stretched late on. 40 goals in 45 appearances for Liverpool by Salah. When Rush got 47 goals it was in 65 appearances. And our front three all scored again. And another clean sheet, despite Bournemouth pouring forward for the last 15 minutes when Liverpool looked exhausted.
  25. What. A. Goal. Suarez-esque, on top of his usual Messi tribute act.