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Iskaral Pust

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  1. I finished the season but didn’t love it. Better than S2 but I have to wonder why I keep watching TD hoping that the S1 magic will repeat. They told the story they wanted and shrugged off the many plot holes. The core was resolving the oppressor-oppressed tension and processing spiritually the unresolved griefs/traumas. The narrative required that the mystery had to conclude with the colonial, capitalist, male bad being called to justice by the indigenous, spiritual, female good. It completely fits that there weren’t individual perpetrators, but rather a group action crime and a group action justice. “Virtue-noir” is a decent name for it. I wonder how this era of art will be viewed in the future. Aside from the theme, the tone of claustrophobic horror continued and peaked with physical claustrophobia as they squeezed through the ice tunnels. I don’t enjoy horror tension. S1’s gothic philosophizing feels slow on rewatch now (perhaps knowing the ending is an anticlimax) but it struck a better tone.
  2. There has been a huge shift by Liverpool to being a second-half team this season. A few years ago we would blitz teams for the first ~20 minutes and score at least one goal, then we could reduce intensity, manage the game, and eventually score another on a counterattack. Now we struggle to score early and often concede first. But our half-time tactical adaptations have generally been a good response to the latest variety of parked bus, and we seem to exhaust our opponents as the game wears on. Plus our attacking subs have generally done well against tiring defenders. Klopp’s in-game management seems really important this year, and much different from when he was criticized for making subs too late. It’s definitely an effective system so far and we’re having a high scoring season despite Nunez and Diaz having very low conversion %.
  3. That Brentford match was one of the most expensive three points I can recall: Jones, Jota, Alisson (in pre-match training), Salah and Nunez all injured. The one lesson Klopp has never learned is when and how to create space for players to rest.
  4. I finally got to watch the Ireland vs Italy game. Not a great spectacle because Ireland were disjointed in their play with so many changes. They scored six tries while comfortably smothering any attacking play by Italy but it rarely felt like a free-flowing or exciting contest. It’s good to see more depth in the squad. Crowley was very good as the #10 playmaker, although his kicking for points was very poor. McCarthy and Baird both showed great speed and energy for their size, with Ireland’s changed pack looking mobile and fast. Lowe and Keenan were both in very good form (let’s hope Keenan recovers from that injury quickly), and Nash did well alongside them. And I thought we got a good showing from McCloskey and Henshaw at center considering how strong Aki and Ringrose typically are as a pair. Lineouts were really solid, with mauls generating some of the tries. Scrums were iffy again. Nothing went right for Larmour in his brief sub appearance but there was a lot of ropey play at that stage as some subs were third or fourth string while others were JVDF and JGP. Italy must feel dispirited after being much more competitive against England. Hopefully they’ll have more competitive matches ahead. They aren’t indulging in the madcap risks of last year, they just didn’t have quite enough quality to breach a very diligent Irish defense, while the scores against them gradually mounted. Watching Ireland score from 5-10m lineouts made me think again that England should have tried the same a week prior rather than kicking for points.
  5. Odin’s Betrayal by Donovan Cook is the opening book in a series of Viking historical fiction, with the central character born in Francia/Germnay to a Viking father abandoned there during a raid. The prose and characterization felt sophomoric — bland and tropey. I won’t read further. The Boyfriend by Thomas Perry is a crime fiction about an ex-cop PI in California on the track of a serial killer who’s using his girlfriend victims as a series of temporary covers for his work as an assassin around the country. Far-fetched plot but an OK read. An Elegant Defense by Matt Richtel is a non-fiction about the human immune system. It’s an interesting topic and well researched but, like too many non-fictions, it’s torturously over-extended to book length. Would have been a good long-form article instead.
  6. Got Trouble by Dave Dobson is, I guess, a sci-if thriller novel, whose rating in GoodReads seems inflated by a large % of ARCs. The protagonist is a woman struggling through life at the very bottom of the socioeconomic ladder, when she is suddenly thrust into a sci-fi crime plot, with a helpful college professor sidekick to explain to her what’s happening as it unfolds. I wouldn’t recommend. Stigmata by Colin Falconer is historical fiction set in 13th century France at the time of the Cathar Crusade. This is my second experience with this author who has been heavily promoted on Amazon, after enjoying his Silk Road novel — for which I posted a quick review in one of these threads. I didn’t much enjoy this one. It doubled down on the weak points of the other novel: it’s primarily an interpersonal/romance melodrama set against the backdrop of an interesting historical period, and spends much more focus on the dime-a-dozen character drama than the history. If you care more about Scarlet O’Hara than the American Civil War then you might enjoy this author but I’m not inclined to read any further. Son Of Mercia by M.J. Porter is historical fiction set in 9th century England as Saxon and Danish kingdoms maneuver and compete. The style is a disappointment: almost every chapter is an internal monologue as a POV engages in and reflects upon a conversation with another king or warband leader as they try to persuade allies and gather military support. It just goes on and on like this. I thought it was a poor choice of narrative structure.
  7. I forgot to respond to this good engagement on The Heart Of Darkness. It’s a good point that an influential new structure or style should be a classic even if it’s subsequently executed better. But the bolded part appears to have a very long history in literature, going back to The Odyssey, The Epic Of Gilgamesh, and many prehistoric myths where geographical symbolism of the wilderness/forest, sea, underworld, desert, etc mirrored or was a metaphor for the mental or spiritual journey of the protagonist. It’s pretty central to the entire hero’s journey too.
  8. This is the kind of cut-throat politicking and strategy we expect from F1, whether true or not. Since driver salaries are not part of the F1 budget cap, I wondered if the big teams would try to reassert their financial advantage through driver super-teams, running the risk that it helps win the WCC while potentially splitting the points and losing the WDC. The ideal second driver, from the POV of a title-chasing first driver, is Merc-era Bottas. Checo made some positive contribution as the Ministry Of Defense in Verstappen’s first WDC title but has been a non-factor since. Max could use a better partner but not too much better.
  9. Yes, it looked a penalty. As did the fouls on Jota and Diaz not given. The ref allowed a lot of heavy contact all game; the “let the game flow” attitude rewards clogging over skill.
  10. And now Jones and Jota subbed off early with further injuries. Jota’s looked potentially very bad.
  11. Szoboszlai is really missed in MF. I think MacAllister, Szoboszlai and Jones is the strongest MF by some distance (assuming Thiago is out of contention), but we’ve had very few games where we’ve been able to start with them. Elliot did well as a sub again, and has been more impactful as a sub rather than starter all season. A pity to see TAA withdrawn — both he and Szoboszlai were rushed back too soon. With Gomez out with flu and Bradley on compassionate leave, TAA was rushed back despite finally having two very capable deputies in the squad — after years of no depth at his position.
  12. In other news, lots of injuries, one suspension (Konate) and now now flu too have decimated Liverpool’s squad for today.
  13. Such a pity about Thiago. As everyone has said, this was the predictable risk and it has gone worse than the 50:50 betting line. But he was a joy to watch on the pitch. I hope he can recover enough to play on, whether for us or elsewhere. Incredible player.
  14. Lots of changes for Ireland. I don’t think that’s complacency about Italy, rather some development for a wider pool of players. In the WC we had the core players play far too many minutes and reached the QF looking fatigued. It should be a good match, and the Italians may see an opportunity against a rotated Ireland and come out swinging.
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