27 August 2015

world wide wednesdays :: the old trash and the sea

is there life after death? there is for your garbage. in fact, there's even kind of a garbage heaven, or haven, in our oceans oceans. the pacific is best known, but the atlantic and indian oceans have also staked their claim and despite the fact that we've known about them for years, there hasn't been much of anything done to address the problem. as a result, they're now taking on an eerie permanence and although we haven't yet colonised them for human settlement, it might not be that far behind. so today, here are some fun facts about the awesome islands of garbage that are sailing the open seas like pirates, picking up our discarded booty.

the first thing that warrants clarification is that these garbage islands aren't islands. and no, i don't mean they're actually peninsulas. but they're generally more like swamps, with an incredible concentration of plastic, much of it in pieces so small as to be invisible to the human eye. you could probably swim through sections of it and, assuming you didn't freeze to death, get swept away and drown in the rough seas, or get eaten by something large and scary, you might not even realise that you were in the midst of a huge dump. of course, you'd probably feel pretty sick afterward, because you'd doubtless swallow lots of plastic shrapnel. whether that would cause you any long term damage is unclear, but assume that it wouldn't be good for you. i have a feeling you're not going to be doing it anyway.

but in case you're feeling disappointed that there aren't massive islands of old diapers spinning around in the oceans, perhaps this will cheer you: there are islands within the garbage patches. the "great pacific garbage patch" now has a spiffy fifteen metre [fifty foot] island that boasts its own reefs, coastlines and marine life [largely mollusks and seaweed]. this was likely caused by the 2011 tsunami that hit japan and dragged much larger pieces of trash into the ocean. although it's taken time, eventually it all ends up in the garbage patch.

so how does the garbage know to find its way to the nearest hangout? well, it doesn't. we're not creating sentient garbage [yet]. the movement of currents in the world's oceans creates five major gyres, areas where the all converge and kind of spin around together, and when garbage ends up in the ocean [either because people put it there, or because it blows there from landfills or places where it's simply been dropped], the currents naturally spin it towards the gyres and leave it there. the oceans are much better at making sure all the trash ends up in the same place than we are, as it turns out.

one of the biggest problems cited by garbage patch scientists [they exist] is the effect of all this garbage on marine wildlife. bird carcasses are often found packed with the stuff, which they seem to eat and which fills them up, thus disguising the fact that they're starving to death from lack of nutrients. however, there may be a little more to it than that. because the animals that are examined are the dead ones, we don't know if it's possible that some animals eat the plastic and live [we know fish can, but it's not clear if they can in a trash-packed environment like the garbage patches]. while it's nice to think that our garbage isn't killing entire species, there's nothing reassuring about this idea, because it means either the animals don't absorb the plastics, which means they go straight out the back door and back into the ocean, or they do absorb them and all their chemicals, which means that those chemicals get spread through the entire food chain, where they could possibly case genetic mutations that could last forever. [side note :: the garbage also provides an easier method for some species, particularly insects, to move around, allowing them to travel long distances and see parts of the world where they've never been. and conquer them. invasive species have a way of upsetting ecosystems that are not used to dealing with them.]

a few years ago, scientists were somewhat relieved to find that the garbage patches seemed to be shrinking as the sun finally succeeded in breaking down the plastic bits through photo-degradation. [a term that sounds kind of naughty, but just means the changing of things through exposure to light.] i'm not exactly sure why they were so jazzed that the plastics were disappearing, since their chemical components would still be floating around, but any shrinkage has to be a good sign, right? [stop giggling, this is serious.]

well, it turns out that we don't have to debate how good or bad it is, because they were wrong. their results were based on trawling the oceans and seeing what turned up and, lo and behold, there were fewer pieces. and now i'd like to remind you of my earlier comment about many of the pieces being too small for the human eye to register. when subject to more accurate methods of testing, like analysing the density of the water from the air and testing its composition, it turns out there's way more garbage than was previously thought. although the tests were conducted on the "big boy patch" in the pacific, it's not unreasonable to assume that the same doesn't apply to its little brothers.

there's also the issue that the garbage goes much deeper than we originally thought: the relative strength of the currents in the gyre, as well as their density and temperature, means that some are forced beneath others and they seem to take their garbage right along with them. so the garbage builds up well beneath the surface as well as floating on top of it and it collects to form sold or semi-solid structures there as well.

the great gondwanalands of garbage will likely never wash up upon our shores, although they may send emissaries that break away from their orbit. in a way, that makes the problem worse, because most of us are never going to see the oceanic gyres [and we wouldn't be able to see the extent of the trashery even if we did] and this keeps us from thinking of what we should be doing to contain and control these mutants of our modern world. these aren't just things we can rush in and clean up with the world's toughest shop vac. but we need to find a way of removing them that's a lot less harmful than it was putting them there in the first place.

p.s. :: all of the images used are from the unesco-backed art project the garbage patch state, which was started to call attention to the problem of the patches. you can find out more about it here.

23 August 2015

paranoid theory of the week :: did the soviet army accidentally kill nine hikers in 1959?

stretching from the arctic islands of vaygach and novaya zembla down to the edge of kazakhstan, the ural mountains are the dividing line between europe and asia. it is one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world, although its craggy peaks rise unexpectedly high above sea level for their age. despite the remoteness of the region, its wealth of mining resources gave rise to the industrial centre of yekaterineburg. in 1979, a military accident resulted in the release of anthrax spores that killed at least one hundred people, but many believe that this was the second accident in the region. the rumour was that twenty years earlier, nine people died during a secret weapons test that remains a protected secret to this day.

in late january 1959, a group of ten mountain climbers and skiers, most of them students in their early twenties, planned to make the ten kilometre trek from vizhai to otorten mountain. at the time, it was considered to be a hiking challenge of the highest level of difficulty, but even by those standards, the date of the team was shocking. a single lucky member became ill and had to abandon the expedition, while nine others died in the snows of kholat syakhl, known locally as "the mountain of the dead". [this is a misinterpretation of the mansi name, however, since the word for "dead" can also mean "barren" and refers in this case to the mountain being devoid of game and wildlife. so that's one myth of the story cut down already.]

the mystery of what happened to the nine victims remains unsolved, but one theory is that they died as a result of injuries sustained from a new form of weapon being tested by the soviet army. [other theories include that they were attacked by a yeti, or even by hostile extra-terrestrials.] it is the most compelling type of mystery: the vast majority of the facts are well-established and undisputed; the movements of the group are meticulously documented, save for the crucial period just before they died; there are elements of the case that are difficult to explain given what is known; and finally, there is no official explanation, even after more than fifty years.

so this week, we take a look at a possible reason for the deaths of nine people in an area now named after the leader of that expedition: the dyatlov pass.

happier times
the theory ::
the members of the dyatlov exhibition died as a result of exposure to weapons being tested in the vicinity.

the origin ::
it's not entirely clear who first voiced the theory, but because of the way in which the inquest into the deaths was conducted and the inability of any of the officials to explain certain evidence found on the scene, many people suspected a government cover-up almost immediately.

the believers ::
lots of people believe lots of different things about what happened at dyatlov pass. film director renny harlin, whose film devil's pass deals with the incident and its legacy, is one high profile believer that the government was at least connected to the deaths. yuri kuntsevich, whose fascination with the case dates from seeing the bodies at their funerals, started a foundation to lobby the government to reopen the investigation into the deaths and to reveal what they know [although he has not backed any specific theory as to what brought about their deaths].

the bad guys ::
the soviet government and military.

the evidence :: 
how is it possible that we know so much about this case and be left feeling like we know nothing? the mountaineers recorded the progress of their expedition in meticulous detail through diaries and photographs, but that doesn't help us make any more sense of what happened to them. the facts of the situation seem to conspire against any rational explanation, but that's part of what makes this such a great mystery.

skipping straight to the night of february 1/2, when our unfortunate heroes met their horrible end, it seems that bad weather had slowed the team's progress and taken them about a mile and a half off course. straight away, the behaviour of the team seems a little odd. away from their path and with night descending, they had no choice but to stop and set up their camp. however, they did so on the exposed mountain face, rather than the treed area a short distance away, which would have offered some protection against the elements. the group's lone surviving member has posited that, on the mountain face, the group had gained more altitude and that dyatlov, as group leader, was unwilling to sacrifice that, given that they were already somewhat behind schedule and that getting themselves back to their planned route was going to take even more time.

the team had their supper together and retired to their tent for the night, but a couple of hours later, in the black of night, something roused the team from their sleep. and that's where it gets weird.


it's clear that the team fled the tent in a state of panic: rather than exiting through the customary door flap, they slashed it open from the inside and ran off into the night without even bothering to put on their coats and boots. the footprints that were found leading away from the camp indicated that at least one member of the team ran off barefoot, while others were found in their underwear. these were experienced climbers and they had to know that rushing out into the frigid -15c air [with mountain winds making it feel even colder] was a death sentence, especially without proper clothing.

WARNING- WHAT FOLLOWS CONTAINS INFORMATION AND IMAGES THAT SOME MIGHT FIND UPSETTING

21 August 2015

imperfect ten

i'm starting this post with no real idea where it's going to go, or why it's here, but i couldn't very well let this day go without saying a little something.

what day you ask?

this day!


that poor bedraggled soul is indeed me, exactly how i looked ten years ago today when i returned home from a shopping expedition where i was nearly struck by lightning and washed away with the toronto tide, toweled myself off and thought: "yes, today will be the day that i start a blog".

and so it was.

many things have changed since that day. i live in a different city. i've said goodbye to the three cats who welcomed their soggy mother home on that day. i've welcomed five new ones who fulfill all of my maternal instincts and do not expect me to send them to university or bail them out on weekends. i've become a lot more conscious about health. i've connected with a lot of people in a lot of different areas of the world, who have enriched my life a great deal. most importantly, i met dom and it's because of him that i've been able to do a lot of other things. it's with his support and encouragement that i've been able to:

  • publish an anthology of short stories
  • write a film script
  • make a feature film from that script
  • make my own short films
  • start my own company
  • publish a first novel [with the aforementioned film script]

... and to prepare for more in the future.

when i started off, i was doing a lot of very short posts, very often. if i were starting such a thing now, it would likely go on tumblr, where brief, cryptic little epistles seem the norm.

if i'd been more confident going into the blog project, i would have started podcasting. given my somewhat lengthy spell in radio, i'm a little surprised that i didn't go with that angle, but writing has always been my go-to

if i were more serious about this, i'd move it off blogger and find a way to monetize, assuming that there were people who wanted to support a site about politics, beauty, paranoia, soccer, mental health, dreams, extremely weird music, movies, restaurants, insomnia and the process of writing, with a liberal smattering of fiction just to round things off. that's not all, of course, because there's lots of things that have shown up here but not become regular features. and there will be others.

borrowed with utmost reverence from the brilliant david firth's "salad fingers"

my efforts on the blog flagged for a few years, as i tried to adjust to the realities of social media encroaching on what i'd started doing. then i changed how i thought about things and started doing things like publishing bits of my writing, in various states of readiness, writing longer posts and establishing "subgroups" for topics that i wanted to return to again and again.

i'm always fascinated to see who ends up here and how they end up here and what posts get the greatest response. one of the things that makes me the happiest is that some of the posts that get the most views and reaction are ones that are longer than most experts would advise. what do they know?

i have, of course, thought about moving more like space off blogspot and into its own domain. i'm sure it'll happen eventually, i just haven't been able to make it a priority to this point. as you can see, i'm in this for the long haul.


in the hopes that it inspires some of you to do something that makes you as happy as doing this has made me, here's the complete list of things i've learned about writing a blog:

  • it's old-fashioned at this point and no one reads them. so you don't exist.
  • you have to pick one topic and stick to it, or else werewolves from another dimension will come and eat your soul. 
  • no one reads long blog posts, except when they do. 
  • you will feel the pain of every typo you catch on your blog until your dying breath, but you will still fail to catch them. 
  • even when you think people aren't listening or reading, they are.
  • if someone implies that if you were "serious" about writing, you'd be a professional journalist and not a blogger, feel free to remind them that fox news are professional journalists. also, feel free to smack them hard enough to knock them into this century. 
  • read up on the "rules" of writing for the internet audience. learn why those are the rules. then break them. make rules for yourself. break those too. break everything. then put it back together. 

tomorrow is the beginning of a new decade here on more like space, but chances are it's just going to be more business as usual. usual for here. for me. for us.

making faces :: the more like space splurge-o-matic 2015

i'm still catching up on a few reviews, but i've been planning to do a post like this forever and i figured that, forever could mean any time and now is an any time, so now is as good a time as any to write it, right? [it's possible that i've had too much coffee today.]

when it comes to beauty, we all have areas where we like to spend and where we like to save. my preferences on the splurge-y side tend to be for colour cosmetics [lipsticks, eye shadows, blushes/ highlighters], whereas a have a stricter "ceiling" price for skin care [including lip balms/ treatments], nail polish, body care, shampoo/ conditioner and with any products i perceive as "gimmicky". i'm sure i could think up reasons why i divide up my priorities that way [and there are some that fall into a middle ground, like foundations, concealers and mascaras] but it's not particularly interesting, nor important to this post.

my point is that i've wanted to do a "splurge-o-matic" for some time, with some "learn from my spending" tips on where you might want to turn if you have a hankering to spoil yourself with a little cosmetic treat. i can't promise the list will be comprehensive, but i figure i've built up enough mileage on the credit card that i can take you a good deal of the way. clearly, the results are based on what's currently available, what i've been able to sample and my own personal preferences. if you want to get a sense of what those are, you might want to peruse the past makeup reviews here on the site.

this list is organised by product, but if you'd like to sample a particular brand, you might want to have a look at the beauty brand report card i did a few years ago [and which i plan on updating]. please feel free to get back to me with any questions you might have about the recommendations.

so here's what i'd recommend if you want to splurge on...

just a few of the beautiful bunnies
eye shadow ::

rouge bunny rouge, baby. their entire range is subtle and sophisticated, with the majority of shades being wear-wherever neutrals that remain distinctive, even in a sea of neutrals. the oiliness of my lids means that i pretty much always need to use a primer; [i find that mac paint pots are a very cost-effective way of accomplishing this: at $24cad each, they're a few dollars cheaper than most "proper" primers, but they also last about ten times as long.] my experience is that, on a good base, these shadows last extremely well and show little fading over the course of a normal day. in very hot weather, wear time is shortened and some last a little better than others at any time. overall, though, i still find myself reaching for these more than any other shadows.

but it's kind of broad to just recommend one blanket eye shadow splurge. while rbr would be my first choice overall, here are a few other recommendations 

bright shades ::

urban decay. they have a wonderful assortment of brights in their permanent lineup, plus they have the electric palette, which is like the motherload of bold shades. it's a combination of incredibly saturated colour with a high-end formula.

an eye shadow palette ::

boring choice ahoy... if you want to invest in a palette you're going to use all the time, that can give you a variety of looks for any occasion, pick up one of the urban decay naked palettes. they have two smaller "basics" versions, but this is the splurge-o-matic, so if you want to invest, stick with numbers 1, 2 and 3, which have a dozen shades each. 3 is my personal favourite.

cream/ liquid formulas ::

i approach this with a major caveat, which is that i'm allergic to a lot of these, which means that, for me, they basically fall into categories of "yeah, these are pretty nice" and "aaggghh! my eyeballs exploded!!!" so of the ones i've tried of the former category, i'd recommend...

liquid emeralds from armani
armani eye tints. new this year, but with a few additional shades already appearing in limited edition, i just love the great colour payoff and smooth finish of these thin liquid shadows. i'd give a close second to ellis faas, who have a greater range of colours and finishes, but their iconic packaging is fragile. word has it that they're making improvements to the design, to make it a little hardier.

mascara ::

this isn't something that a lot of people choose as an item to splurge on, but i will say that it's one where i notice the greatest difference from one product to another. however, i already covered this in detail, so it's probably just easier to read that post.

[it likewise seems a little weird to choose eye liner as a "splurge" item, but i don't want to judge, so i'd opt for urban decay's pencils, illamasqua's liquid formula or nars eye paints if you're up for trying a cream, because they can double as eye shadows. my all-time favourite cream is illamasqua's precision gel, but it only comes in black.]

blush ::

cheeks from nars + hourglass
this answer is even more predictable than my choice for palette splurge, but nars is the way to go. they have a wide variety of shades and, most importantly, shades that are really unique [because if you're going to splurge on something, you want it to be distinctive]. they also have a wider range of finishes, from high shine frost to matte. what really distinguishes them, though, is the high quality standard they maintain over the whole range.

i'm not an aficionado of cream and liquid formulas, so i'm of limited use to you there, sorry. dior has made the best i've tried of either, but only in limited edition, the bastards.

highlighter ::

highlighters aren't actually something i'd recommend as a first time splurge, since their effect tends to be so subtle, but if you feel comfortable with the rest of your makeup game and want to get your glow on, go with hourglass. their ambient lighting powders are worth the hype and they do each give a unique effect on the skin. they seemed gimmicky to me at first and now it's rare that i go a day without using one.

guerlain grenade, my very first

lipstick ::

if you're going to invest in a hard-copy dictionary, don't mess around: buy the oxford english. so it is with lipstick. if you're going to splurge, then splurge and buy a guerlain rouge g. most high end brands like to "lead" with their lipsticks, so there is an embarrassment of choice when it comes to these perfect little tubes of happiness and i love many of them, but there's no getting around it: rouge g's are in a class by themselves. there is a beautiful range of permanent shades that will hit most of your lipstick colour needs and the formula is almost uniformly magnificent: long-lasting, hydrating, richly pigmented. what impresses me most about these, though, is how nuanced each shade seems to be: its either more saturated, or slightly muted, or contains a faint dusting of shimmer, or has a sheen in a complementary colour, but when you see them swatched next to other lipsticks [although it's not always visible in photos] you realise: only a rouge g is a rouge g.

of course, not everyone loves full-coverage lipsticks like i do, so if you want to splurge on something a little softer...

sheer lipstick ::

i like a lot of sheerer formulas well enough, but the only one that really stands out to me as offering something different is the rouge d'armani sheer. i find that it lasts a bit longer, smudges less and balances nicely between offering enough colour to warrant purchasing a higher-priced product and allowing the natural lip colour to come through, which is the point of a sheer lipstick. it's a criminally overlooked product and they've just added a half a dozen new shades to their permanent assortment [not that you'd know it from them].

voluptuous glossiness
lip gloss ::

i feel like it would be cheating to say my favourite gloss is yves st. laurent glossy stain, because it's a much fuller-coverage product than your usual gloss, even when it's applied fairly lightly. but i'd also feel badly if i didn't mention it, because it's a remarkable formula, in a category of its own.

if we're talking real glosses- sheerer, lighter colour, lots of shine and perhaps some shimmer- i'd still have to say yves st. laurent is the winner with their gloss volupté formula. yes, the watermelon scent makes me gag and no, i'm not really a gloss girl to begin with, but these are exceptional. they're probably even more thrilling if you like watermelon.

i was going to do a section on foundations and concealers, but those products are just too complicated to recommend: you need to find one that works with your complexion, that has options to suit your colouring, that gives you the amount of coverage you want, that gives the type of finish you want, that's appropriate to the climate you live in... it's a highly personalized thing. i'd also say that these are not things you should choose for a first splurge, at least not unless you have the opportunity to test the formula beforehand. [sephora will make up handy little samples for you of any liquid foundation and a lot of concealers. a lot of online retailers will allow you to get samples of foundations with an order, so it's worth asking.]

there are also some areas where i think there's work to be done before they're splurge-worthy. liquid lipsticks are really having a moment right now, but i've never come across a formula that struck me as being so much better that it justified paying a much higher price. i do like the armani maestro, but a lot of liquid lipstick fans don't, because it doesn't set to that coveted flat matte finish that doesn't budge.

where i think there is real room for improvement, however, is in the range of colours available. brands that offer "offbeat" shades are generally those that are geared towards a younger demographic, which makes two assumptions i find baffling: 1. older women who like high end brands don't want to try new shades [which gets more ridiculous the longer it persists: people now in their fifties have seen black lipstick used in counter culture and high fashion from the time they were teenagers]; and 2. that young women won't splurge on makeup. i promise, that's not true. last year, when tom ford launched his monumental "lips & boys" collection, the first shade to sell out almost everywhere was the cool grey-taupe "stavros" [see temptalia's review here].

shades don't have to be far out of the comfort zone to be original, either. how about a little blue or green shimmer on a red or pink base? or highlighters that have a multicolour pearl, so they reflect different shades from different angles. there's lots more to do on all fronts and the penalty of not trying to offer things that are a little oddball, or risky, is that you eventually exhaust the narrower range you leave available to yourself.

17 August 2015

armchair centre back :: too soon?

before i get to the titular "too soon" section, let me apologise for being too late in congratulating both the u.s. national women's team and the chilean men's national team for their respective victories and the women's world cup and the copa america this summer. i feel a little guilty for not marching myself to see a wwc game, since they were right here in the same city as me. in fact, there's a whole slew of missed chances this summer: watching the local team compete for a place in the club world cup; greeting our new player didier drogba at the airport [actually a wise decision: it was 40c/ 100f and the packed-in crowd overflowed, so a lot of people were stuck standing in the blazing sun], seeing paris st. germain, a world class team, take on olympique lyonnais in an exhibition game. there is nothing i regret so much, though, as deciding not to show up to whip eggs at chelsea, who were using montreal as their home base for two weeks while they toured the united states. nothing haunts us like the mischief we didn't start.

but enough with regrets! it's a new season in europe, which means that dom and i have had our weekend ritual restored. it also means that i can generally tell what day of the week it is, which is something that eludes me without these sorts of markers.

for me personally, this is exciting because, not only is the premier league back, but my cable provider [i'm old-fashioned that way] has decided to pick up bundesliga games. so now i have two sources of man candy sporting entertainment. of course, i don't know the german game as well [yet] and i haven't gravitated towards one specific team at this point. i'm normally loathe to support the wealthiest team in a league that just buys up the good players from everyone, but bayern munich has bought up a lot of the players that i like, which makes that instinct complicated. of course, i also like a lot of the players with borussia dortmund... plus i've also noticed that this blog gets a roughly equal number of visits from munich and the area around dortmund, which makes it even more difficult to choose. plus, of course, there are loads more teams who i just haven't seen yet. [well, there were two who i saw annihilated by the previously mentioned ones, i suppose. i actually felt sorry for them and thought that it was merciful of the refs in both cases to decline added time. ninety minutes is more than enough when you're down that far.]

but while i'm figuring that out, there's more than enough to entertain me on english shores. so here is my list of my personal favourites, even though things are barely underway.

feel the mysterious power
swansea are undefeated. w00t!! that's especially impressive since they held chelsea [who beat them soundly, twice, last year] to a draw in their season opener. at chelsea's stamford bridge fortress. i'm a little scared that i might ever meet swansea manager garry monk, because i'm pretty certain he could convince me to don a chicken suit and run along the swansea coastline trying to sing opera if he wanted to. [and who wouldn't want that? -ed.] somehow, he's managed to recruit players who had every chance of being picked up by larger teams [jefferson montero, who was a bright spot in the otherwise lacklustre ecuadorian team at the 2014 world cup, bafétimbi gomis, and andre ayew], teams that are getting much-coveted european play. and he's convinced them to come to swansea. hell, he's even managed to score two phenomenal players- ayew and goalkeeper lukas fabianski, for free. this man has powers.

"nobody loves me..."
everyone seems to hate jose mourinho more than i do. i wouldn't have guessed that were possible, but it's become really hard to find anyone who's willing to say a nice word about a man who was held in a sort of awe when his team- a team that's virtually unchanged this year- easily trotted off with the league title for 2014/15. people talked about him like he wasn't even fucking human, although that's possibly just them sensing that he's the antichrist. i read an article earlier referring to him as "toxic", slating him for his extremely public feud with his popular team doctor eva carneiro and rumoured falling out with his team captain john terry [i don't have a dog in that race, because they're both pretty risible characters] and, of course, the fact that his team have stumbled badly coming out of the gate. his egotism and petulance were forgivable when he was triumphant, but you sort of suspect that a lot of people were waiting for this. [no one more so than his nemesis arsène wenger, who blanked him like a boss after he finally defeated him in the battle for all of our souls community shield.]



on a related note, chelsea may have been taken over by pod people. if you hear a soft, sort of grating or chafing, it's the sound of thousands of heads being scratched as people ask themselves "what the hell happened?" it's not merely that they've salvaged just one point in two games- lots of people have sputtering starts- it's the way in which they've struggled that's astonishing. their defense, better than a cast iron chastity belt at preventing penetration last year, has been their weakest link. there's lots of time for them to get their old form back, but until then, let's all enjoy looking at the very early premier league table, shall we? look down, look wwaaaaaaayyyy down...

you know, swansea weren't outside the top ten once last season

there's a good[ish] chance that there will be some wild cards in the mix with the big guys this year. ok, it always looks like that after a couple of games, when normally middling teams get a couple of easy matches and run up some points. but aside from swansea looking solid [hope springs eternal], there are a few "dark horses" who've looked not lucky, but impressive: last season's late bloomers leicester have scored as many goals as heavy-hitters manchester city. west ham looked like champions league material against arsenal. crystal palace have been motherfucking elegant [yes, exactly that] and are so replete with goalscorers that manager alan pardew [on the cusp of being the winning-est manager the blub has had in premier league history after just over half a season in charge] is faced with having to sell one just because he can't make time for all of them. i'm not a fan
the best little brick shithouse in switzerland
of stoke, but they have signed xherdan shaqiri, a player i do really like and they have been building a pretty solid squad for years. yes, it's early. yes, it's unlikely that all these teams, or even most of these teams, can maintain their momentum. but isn't it fun to cheer an underdog? and besides, three of the four have already acquitted themselves well against top-tier teams, the ones who are perpetually competing for the league title, at least in theory.

unfortunately, there are also already things that are sucking donkey parts about this new season and in the interest of fairness and balance, i need to mention those too:

arsenal what the actual fuck? ok, they did win against crystal palace this weekend, but they really didn't make it look easy. their rising star from last season, francis coquelin, was extremely lucky not to get his ass thrown off the pitch. at least in this game, a handful of players were literally and figuratively on the ball, because the week before, they were nigh on tragic. thus far, marquee signing petr cech has looked like he would be more at home in this year's chelsea team. a lot of people were picking arsenal and chelsea to be fighting it out tooth and nail for the title [possibly for real, given the relationship between the managers]. at the moment, neither one of them is setting the world on fire.

no good can come of this
somebody needs to smack manchester united. hard. despite spending something like $10 billion on bringing in all the players this summer, manchester united have arguably been worse on the field than either chelsea or arsenal. [in fact, the only "big" team that's looked big is manchester city. and indeed, they have looked very big indeed, with six goals thus far and zero conceded. again, i normally hate the moneyed crowd, but at this point, they seem like the dignified "old money" next to the nouveau riche neighbours straight out of whatever manchester has in place of trailer parks.] nonetheless, they've managed to eke out two 1-0 victories that they absolutely did not deserve. that happened a lot last year, too, which just makes it seem that much more like a conspiracy. also, manager louis van gaal is nearly as objectionable as mourinho, although they're friends, which makes a lot of sense.

predictions for the rest of the season? oh, i don't know. i want to think that swansea can inch up a
what are they doing with my money?
little, besting their record-breaking season from last year. a lot depends on how healthy they stay, since that's almost always the downfall of less wealthy teams as the season drags on and people inevitably get hurt. [am i the only one who's a little troubled that it's inevitable that people get hurt? it seems like it should be evitable.] that said, last year's cinderellas southampton and regular contenders tottenham have both looked a little shaken thus far. so it could happen. the gomis-ayew-montero-shelvey-sigurdsson lineup they have going is the strongest they've put forward.

chelsea are going to start winning at some point, but if they don't seem to resume a commanding presence, expect team owner roman abramovitch, who's said "you're fired" to more people than donald trump, to start putting the screws to his manager.

arsenal need to do some more business before the transfer window closes at the end of the month. i'm still a little miffed that they didn't sign arturo vidal [remember what i said about bayern picking up players i really like?] when he seemed interested. or morgan schneiderlin, who seemed like he was waiting for them until the last possible second before moving to manchester united. there's a lot of "is he or isn't he? will they or won't they?" buzz about the team adding striker karim benzema, or possibly edison cavani. i can't explain why, but neither of those guys really does it for me. that's in no
him?
way denying their enviable talents, it's just that... oh, i don't know. call it a gut feeling. i'd honestly be much more excited by the prospect of pierre-emerick aubamayang [if only because his name is the most fun thing to say ever in history], or if they're serious about parting with crazy money, luis suarez or gareth bale [note: neither of those deals is ever going to happen.]. alternately, if we're going to broaden the horizons to include "general goal scorers", i'd love to see any of: marco reus, antoine griezman, mario götze or [cue angelic choir sounds] thomas muller. i share with admiral wenger a love for very flexible players, so i'm kinda surprised that we aren't seeing eye to eye on this one. here's hoping he doesn't just keep the wallet glued shut, as he was known for doing up until the last couple of years.

finally, i think that people are vastly underestimating liverpool. they've ended up with the same two scores as manchester united, but they've looked sooooo much better doing it. they've bought smarter [and faster] than anyone this year, after a decidedly off season. i'm surprised that no one is backing them to finish in the coveted top four.

so that's it. that's everything i've learned from the last two weekends. the real stories now are going to be about who's moving where, which always plays out like a high school gossip session where all the seniors are billionaires. honestly, i'm not certain that anything that exciting will happen. there are a few things that i'd like to see happen, but, well, i'd like lots of things that never happen. never.
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