Sunday, 19 April 2009

How Did We Get Here?

Yet another defeat, and one point out of a possible nine with Shearer at the helm. Five games left, second from the bottom and four points adrift of safety at this moment (depending on how well Hull City perform next). I really never knew I'd be here, and the message got really driven home the other day after my Cognitive Psychology paper when I headed back to school with Shawn and, among the general musing, we started talking about soccer.

The past one or two weeks, there was Porto vs Manchester United, Arsenal vs Chelsea, and so on along the vein of mainstream news right now. Exciting stuff. Then he suddenly recalled I was a Newcastle fan and asked a very vague and generic, "how ah?"

It's one of those things that are really hard to swallow, and just so taboo to even think about. A club as huge as Newcastle United vanishing from top flight football, with a long history that has had its fair share of glory, but which has began to dry up within the last few seasons. All the while when you're a Newcastle fan, you just insiduously and subconsciously learn to develop this sense of humour because you just can't take them too seriously. I only realised about over a year back that I've found it hard to get my hopes up with the Magpies anymore. But as always, I still doggedly stood by them.

There was a time when I could say that sometimes, Newcastle play such exciting football because they've got a certain classic British x-factor about their style of play. Even during that time, Newcastle would slip into bouts of really retarded defending and gameplay that I wish I could be there playing for them. Such was the kind of kick you'd get from being a Newcastle fan. For the longest time, that kick had always been there ever since I fell in love with them in 1998 when Newcastle signed Alan Shearer for £15m and boasted a daring, swashbuckling three-man attack (most teams play only two strikers). They were terribly exciting to watch. But that time has gone; the climate has changed into unceasingly wondering how low they can keep the number of goals conceded to.

When you go out on the street and ask people which teams they support, you'd get answers like Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea. But you'd never really know what that means. There are just so many people supporting teams like Manchester United that it just isn't special anymore. But when you meet a dude who supports Newcastle United, you'd know he's different, and you probably know a lot more about each other simply because of the tears and joy Newcastle United brings to its fans. It is always a unique experience being a member of the Toon Army, and every season brings about that characteristic experience that, while it can barely be explained properly, we can call our own.

So I tried saying all of that to Shawn in response to his vague and generic question (and I don't think a Newcastle fan can ever do a good job conveying that to a non-fan), and then he said that he used to be a Leeds United fan, who have been out of the top-flight for the longest time. And then the reality hit so hard that I couldn't stop regretting all the cynical jibes I've been lacing on every poor Newcastle performance in the last one season or so, just to brush off the 'sigh yet another vintage poor game from the black and white' looks I get from quizzical friends wondering how I, as a competitive soccer player, could put up with that, in a dismissive bid to avoid answering too many questions. Ah, it's just another typical Newcastle game la. Sian.

But now, would I be faced with the horrific fate that Shawn had with Leeds? Shawn jumped ship and became a Manchester United fan (pah, typical). After 11 years, I don't think so. If they're going down, I've decided that it will be a season, or however many seasons, of not being able to catch them in action on TV. It has been bad as it is already because SCV only shows Newcastle games when they're playing big teams. For the club, it is almost like death, except that resurrection is possible. But if anything, it will be the biggest wake up call in the club's history.

Which then brings me here to today, all of that culminating into rushing down to the prata shop to watch Newcastle take on Tottenham Hotspurs at White Hart Lane. I'd spent the whole evening trying to stream it on Sopcast on my computer but it couldn't work, and 15min into the game I couldn't take it hearing commentary but not seeing anything anymore so I went out by myself.

The match doesn't need much detail, except that Newcastle conceded a goal in the first half and never caught up, concluding in a 1-0 defeat. Alan Shearer tried sparking something to life by throwing in four strikers (Martins, Smith, Owen and Viduka) but although they came close on a couple of occasions, the finishing was dismal.

Once in a while, the camera would zoom in on the traveling Toon Army fans, and the few they shot carried the expressions of thousands of Newcastle fans all over the world - a mixture of dismay, agony and helplessness, but at the same time fused with a resolute refusal to give up on the team and some vestige of hope still being clung on to. And there I was, sitting alone with other random prata, kopi and football patrons (it was a tiny fraction of the kind of turnout you'd get there for a Chelsea vs Manchester United game), biting my nails and willing Newcastle to play harder and better, as if my brainwaves could somehow travel into the screen and zap energy into the battling players who, for some reason, are playing out of their skins but just can't seem to find that vital touch. And although, in the end, it was futile as we crashed to another defeat, I knew for that moment that we were joined all over the world, hearts and hands together, screaming C'MON NEWCASTLE! in our heads, just hoping for a miracle.

Soccer has been my life for the most part, and I suppose you could say that being a soccer player with no team to support is like being a spiritual person without a religion. Having to follow a team down into relegation and being denied of watching them play comes a little close, but doesn't match up as long as I continue holding on to that connection and support I have for them. However the season unfolds, best of luck Newcastle. I can see all the players fighting so hard for it, even if confidence is low, even though, in spite of all the pressing on, things just can't seem to go right. I'd go right down with them. You'll do us proud no matter what now.

I used to know you so well.

Don't count your eggs until the chicken's laid them.
- Sir Bobby Robson

Audio Candy:
Apocalyptica Feat. Adam Gontier - I Don't Care

Thursday, 16 April 2009

17 Hours To Liberación

It can't get any more Singaporeanly inane when my dad brings back disposable stuff from overseas (toothbrushes, toothpastes, soap, etc) so that he can collect them and then use them overseas next time to reduce baggage weight, and then brings a whole new stash home from the trip so the cycle repeats.

Conversations with the old birds from my soccer team have always brought to light axioms from experience, since they're graduating or have already graduated and have stepped into the mire of the working world.

The latest two that have come to the fore are that saying internships are valuable is a gross understatement, and that overseas experience is a highly prized notch on the resume to companies hiring now.

So many things to do, so little time with only two years left. With the way things are economically, it wouldn't hurt to be allowed to hang around school a little longer, except that it's not so simple when you're a guy and there are expectations, both explicit and hidden.

Committing myself to studying psychology now is a wonderful thing, but it comes at a price. Psychology isn't particularly concerned with the beauty of writing, although good writing capability is still prized (and often lacking). By choosing psychology over other social sciences, like political science and sociology, I guess I've let go of the chance to explore writing in a more argumentative, creative and abstract manner for now.

After submitting my cognitive psychology term paper last week, I was just thinking that there's just so much you can go in terms of writing for psychology. From now on, psychology modules will be all about learning more psychology concepts, but there will no longer be anything new to learn in terms of writing technique. Everything has been covered after the research methods and design, measurement and analysis modules.

I'm always looking forward to pursuing modules in those other areas though, with Globalization of World Politics and Social Stratification on my list.

Aside from that, I'm also considering the Spanish module after summer. I've always been enthralled by the language ever since I was 13 or 14 because it is seductive, poetic and smooth, and self-learning has proven to be extremely futile for the past 2 years.

Anyway, I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before but Chinhong and I are trying out a little research on our own to try and draw links between school performance and personality. I won't reveal too much except that so far, the initial hypothesis still remains inadequately supported, but on a side note it seems like orderliness is a factor for school performance for NUS students while inquisitiveness is a factor for school performance for SMU students.

To help us in this research, click here to take the test. Muchas gracias!

Duct tape is like the force, it has a light side and a dark side and it holds the universe together.

Audio Candy:
System Of A Down - Vicinity Of Obscenity

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Be My Navigator

You're the wonder in everything that's wonderful.

Max Brenner's chocolate is heavenly. I should invest in a fondue machine.

Y Homeless FC won HELO FC 8-1 on saturday. I nearly got on the scoresheet finally only to squander my chances so badly. But it's the best I think I've played in a long while. Right wing really is my best position.

Our league record so far is really quite 'disgusting'.

33 goals scored and 6 conceded, making it a goal difference of +27 haha.

"I've learned that everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but that all the happiness and growth occurs while you're climbing it."

In art as in life, true value is gained in the journey towards what is important. To lose sight of that is to completely lose all sense of self and purpose.

Audio Candy:
Stone Temple Pilots - Wonderful

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

One Day We'll Get Nostalgic For Disaster

Here's a rather sadistic-esque Hannibal Lecter/Saw perspective.

The latest prawning rate has hit 19 in 3 hours. We're on our way to prawn master (or more contemporarily known as prawn hero) soon!

Angie has also declared herself, by virtue mostly of association (and perhaps sympathy), a Newcastle United fan. I don't care if the only reason why is because she thinks that Newcastle has lotsa cute guys. I doubt there would be any other way either, considering their miserly 2-0 defeat to Chelsea at home over the weekend.

A couple of weeks ago I secured my Pearson Ed South Asia internship. It's a weird feeling cos while I didn't expect to get an internship so easily, I wasn't expecting to not get the job either considering the relevance of my job experience that I had stated in my resume. It's back to the editorial and publishing grind again (with glee), but this time with a company of academic authority. It will be an interesting learning experience that is still somewhat within my element, sans the completely horrid Jurong location.

The hunger to push knowledge and creative boundaries is beckoning again. I want to do a new piece of art. I want to write. I want to learn a new skill. I want to understand a new concept. I want to read a new book. I want to achieve something small but novel. School is simply getting in the way like a fat, obnoxious man at a narrow gantry.

Time is proving to be a rather luxurious commodity, and it can only get worse the next two weeks.

The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

Audio Candy:
Joni Mitchell - Both Sides Now

Friday, 3 April 2009

Welcome Back

Perhaps the thought of Newcastle missing out on top flight football for once is too much too bear. With them languishing at third from bottom, Alan Shearer has finally taken over the reins, and maybe now there's hope.

Q. What's the difference between the Toon defence and a taxi driver?
A. A taxi driver will only let in four at a time.

Audio Candy:
ACDC - Highway To Hell