Ass From the Past #3 – Vanessa Angel

While I was flicking through the TV channels the other day I came across a classic film and the next lovely lady that I decided who I was going to write about. The film was Kingpin and the part was the cold nipples scene. After a quick Google search for her name (my memory is not as good as it used to be), it suddenly came back to me when the results returned as Vanessa Angel.

vanessa angel 2

Vanessa Angel started off as a model back in the 1980’s and managed to model for certain magazine covers such as Cosmopolitan and Vogue. She then tried her hand at acting and got her first role in 1985 in the film Spies Like Us, studied professional acting after the film finished and went on to appear in small roles for films (Kings of New York) and TV sitcoms such as Melrose Place and Baywatch along the way. Vanessa then got the part as Lisa in the popular TV series Weird Science, in which was the show that brought my attention to her existence. I’m not too sure of the plot behind Weird Science as I mainly watched it to look at the ridiculously stunning woman during the times of fashion wearing tight clothing with no bra , but I remember the show being an all-round enjoyable experience, including a catchy theme tune. I jest of course, with the show being about two guys who make the perfect woman on their computer who just happens to come to life! During the high times of Weird Science, Vanessa got the part of Claudia in Kingpin and got to work alongside the likes of Woody Harrelson, Randy Quaid and Bill Murray.

weirdscience

I got to work trying to find a way to contact Vanessa and noticed that she had a Facebook page. I was dubious at first whether it was actually her or not with there being fakes and fan pages out there, but after scrolling a fair bit through her status history, there were (what I would deem) personal photos i.e. birthday photos that I couldn’t re-find on Google search. I therefore came to the conclusion that it was actually her and messaged her asking if I could ask a few questions. She responded willingly and so this was our little “interview” if you like:

Did modelling always come first in your heart? Or did you always want to be an actress when you was growing up?

I never thought about being a model. I was awkward and skinny and not particularly confident in my early teen years! I loved acting and was part of my school drama club. We had a wonderful teacher who inspired me greatly and we put on plays, some quite advanced for our age, like Brecht’s “The Caucasian Chalk Circle’. I never thought about doing it as a profession though. At 15 I blossomed a bit and I was discovered by these ladies who ran one of the top modeling agencies in London. They sent me out on some ‘go sees’ and I was very lucky to start working right away. It was a fun way to meet interesting people, travel and make money but for all upside there are a lot of difficult things that you have to deal with at such a young age. I was then fortunate enough to meet the director, John Landis, who cast me in “Spies Like Us’ and that opened the door to my acting career. I guess it was meant to be and I got given a chance to take my earlier interest in acting and turn it into a career.

A question you probably get asked a lot (as I find it on most bios about you) and that is about the Xena audition. Do you feel disappointed to miss out doing Xena? Or a slight relief that you don’t have to do the high pitched Xena war cry to fans every day?

Ha! Yes, looking back I’m a bit disappointed I didn’t end up playing Xena, war cry and all. The role became an icon of strength and has fans all over the world. When I signed on, they were introducing her in a 3 part episode of “Hercules’ and I was on hiatus from Weird Science. After people responded so well to the character, they then spun it off into a series, so I wouldn’t have been able to do the series anyway. I really believe I got so sick before the shoot so I could make room for Lucy Lawless to get the role. They had to replace me quickly and find an actress already in New Zealand. She ended up marrying the show runner, Rob Tappert, so it was destiny for them!

What is your most memorable moment from your acting career?

I don’t think I have one most memorable moment from my career. Each job has it’s own special experience and I’ve met some amazing people along the way. However, I was very excited when I got Weird Science and Kingpin was a big win for me.

Has there been anything that you have been told to wear in a film or model shoot where you thought to yourself “This is embarrassing/ awful”?

Yes! I’ve worn too many skimpy outfits in my career! When you’re young and impressionable, you just kind of want to please everyone and agree to things even though you feel otherwise. I feel good that I’ve never done any nudity in films, contrary to what people think. I had a body double in an early film I did. I think we evolve over time and feelings on things can change. Not that I think it’s shameful but I never felt comfortable enough and I’m a mom to a 12 year old daughter now too.

What does the future hold for Vanessa Angel?

Hopefully the future brings continued good health and opportunities. I’m a mom, so a lot of my energy centers around my daughter. A good part of my future will be supporting her and her journey. Career wise, I would love to continue acting. It gets more difficult at this stage and opportunities are less frequent but I hope I’ll have the chance to do a another series. I also have a small clothing line, VANE LA, that keeps me creative and I would like to expand that at some point.

vanessa angel1

Being in the modelling and film business for 30 years shows no toll on Vanessa (and that includes having a child too!) as she looks just as incredible as she did the day she started. You would never believe she is 47 and will probably have most women envious of her prolonged youthful looks. She came across wonderfully kind and treated me like a human being, as you sometimes wonder about how the celebrity world comes across to your average Joe, but there was no sign of snootiness and arrogance at all. Feel free to visit her on Facebook as she communicates with people and her fans regularly, as long as you don’t slobber all over her profile! Or if you are into fashion, then keep an eye on her VANE LA website.

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Crazy is the new Sexy….and I hate it

Music videos since being released are designed to attract more people to your song, whether the song is catchy or not. They started off as just the bands or singer performing on stage to a crowd, but imagination and creativity started to creep in. Along the way there has been controversial videos, with a one off crazy song to a crazy video, but the popularity of the band/ singer didn’t hold (with the odd exception as Madonna combined the two throughout her career) and people leaned towards the sexy videos, with less clothing being worn year after year. The “Sexy” period really kicked into overdrive around the noughties mainly female singers such as Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears etc might as well just wear Bra and knickers whilst grinding on a pole to attract people to buy their material. At this point, I believe the motive changed from attracting people to music to attracting people to the sexy brand of themselves. Sexy videos in the 90’s was normally told in a story and was a one off as the next song was a different type of video, but Aguilera, Spears et al were churning out sexy video after sexy video. Even songs that were not that good were getting to number 1 due to them wearing PVC leather or a mini skirt that might as well just have been a belt. 

Many people jumped on the band wagon and not just in the music industry as tv adverts joined in with sexy videos to promote perfume or chocolate.

Crazy videos have also been around for a while but was always a one hit wonder for most. Then came along Lady Gaga. At first she was just a bit extreme in the fashion sense, but the videos were gradually getting more weird as were her appearances in public for talk shows or Award shows such as wearing a meat dress for example. Nobody has focused on crazy and surreal as much as Lady Gaga before and people are lapping it up. It has also helped that her songs have been catchy and original enough to warrant the number 1 spot for some of her songs. But as the years go by and more songs are released, the effort to up her crazyness is more notable than the effort to write or sing good material. Her most popular song to this date is still Poker Face, her 2nd song that she released, and has failed to reach those heights since. Therefore the motive from songs to craziness has transpired with her recent videos including having her head CGI’d onto a swan body and wearing clothes that wont even be seen on a fashion catwalk speaks volumes. 

Due to the popularity of Lady Gaga, people are already (as expected) jumping on the bandwagon. The more notable being Nicki Minaj and her Neon coloured everything and her wacky hairstyles and the more recent Miley Cyrus with the short haircut, the constant twerking and tongue-sticking out malarky and the licking of sledgehammers. It’s all attention seeking to get people talking about them, whether it is good or bad, its still publicity and that is why Miley is on top of all the tabloids at the moment. The sexy phase is still around and is going strong for some (Katy Perry) and is starting to fail for others (Britney Spears, Madonna) but Crazy is definitely the new sexy and I hate it.

Why do I hate it? It’s because it’s unnecessary, that’s why. Why lick a sledgehammer? Why wear ridiculous clothes? What’s wrong with focussing on writing good enough material to reach the heights of the greats rather than swinging on a wrecking ball or having a hairstyle that looks like a Flump. You don’t see Adele twerking away to Rolling in the Deep do you? In fact she stays sat down throughout the video. Adele doesn’t need to do “Sexy” or “Crazy” as her talents shine through and beyond that. Emeli Sande is popular due to her voice and her songs, yes she has an original hairstyle, but she doesn’t act crazy or hump inanimate objects anywhere? That’s what singers should be about. Singing. Not their image, not how extreme they are, just write good music and sing it well. Nothing is wrong with a bit of sexy or crazy in small doses once in a blue moon to gain your own niche and originality, but for crying out loud stop attention seeking to the extreme and sing your song like a singer, not a Circus attraction.

The Hunger Games “Review”

After recently acquiring Netflix (on trial at the moment), I thought I would catch up on all the films I have missed out on that I have really wanted to see, with this including The Hunger Games. After all the hype and attention it got, it made me want to watch it even more, but the main reason why I wanted to watch it was because it sounded very much like an american version of Battle Royale.

 

After watching the whole thing, I didn’t feel like I wanted to shout to the rooftops like most people have, probably because I was expecting too much of it. There were also a couple of things in the film that irked me. 

 

1) I’m pretty sure most of the film was all about the build up to the Games rather than the actual fighting itself. I haven’t read the books and don’t know if this is how it is in the books, but for the focus of the film being about the games itself and expecting to see fighting and bloodshed for it to then see Katniss sleep in a tree half the time didn’t get me going. Maybe it was like the first Harry Potter and was just a film explaining everything rather than being entertaining…

 

2) During the build-up for the games, Woody Harrelson went on about sponsors so much that it was bound to be used heavily during the fighting. The only thing the sponsors were involved in was sending Katniss (and only Katniss) some Vaseline and some special chicken soup, which was for Katniss to give to big jaw kid. It was a huge let down. Why wasn’t sponsors used more during the Games? Again, they may have during the books, I couldn’t tell you. But for Woody to basically fap over sponsors throughout the film and hardly see them utilised when it mattered was poor form.

 

3) Why did that lad who saved Katniss from knife-throwing girl not kill Katniss afterwards? A life and death situation where the Highlander reference is highly important (“There can be only one”), knowing full well that there was literally 4 or 5 of them left, why didn’t he take advantage of the situation? He had a big-ass knife, plus built like a brick shithouse. He chose to save her “just this once”. It’s towards the end of the games you numbnuts, stab her! So after this happened, you think “Well he’s going to  appear later and have something to do with the ending”, but no, you just hear him scream later whilst he gets eaten by a half werewolf. half staffordshire bull terrier. Bit disappointing.

 

4) The lack of fighting in the film was also a let down. You saw a fair bit of killing during the start of the actual games, but for the rest of the games, I think I saw about….3 fights? Including the end scuffle? How can you make a film about people killing each other and only show a handful of fights. It’s like making a porno, but only showing the kissing.

Overall, it was an all right film, Jennifer Lawrence is pretty hot so kept my attention. Plus there was a football match I was following on twitter too so I kept phasing in and out during the tree sleeping scenes to check the score, but I don’t think I missed anything important. I’d probably watch the sequel just to see the story out. I did the same with the TV show Heroes when it went a bit shit. Also because Hayden Panettiere is hot.

So basically if there was no hot leading actress, I may not watch the next film. Also Battle Royale beats Hunger Games hands down due to excessive violence and original deaths, plus decent love story, but The Hunger Games still a better love story than Twilight.

Ass From The Past #1 – Lindy Christopher

Do you remember the days when you watched a TV show or a music video and there she was, a thing of beauty, dazzling the screen with her stunning good looks and you think “phwoar she’s nice”.

I do.

It was all brought back to me recently after watching old music videos on the internet when I came across her again on the Bowling For Soup video “Girl All The Bad Guys Want”. “Phwoar, I remember her” I said, but this time I thought to myself, “I wonder what she’s been up to after all these years…I wonder what she looks like now?!”

So the search began, with it ending 5 minutes later thanks to Google.

Her name, ladies and gents, is Lindy Christopher.

Lindy Christopher

The next thing I decided to look up about her was “What else was she in?” Apparently she was also in Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the episode “Hush” as Nora, but nothing else from what I could see. I found this peculiar as she seemed so nice (to look at) so I decided to find  out what else she decided to do. Ten seconds later, I noticed she had a twitter account and found out that she is now a photographer and a mum, loves tattoos by the looks of her photos and that she has also turned Vegan for her own reasons.

Without trying to sound like a stalker and to get more information, I followed and tweeted her, and when given time, she responded!

Here is our following conversation:

twitter with lindy

twitter with lindy 2

Overall she has still kept her good looks, not a fan of tattoos personally, but doesn’t take away her natural beauty. It looks like she needs a bacon butty or two, which is down to my personal taste, but that won’t happen due to her being a vegan and with her now being happy the way she looks. She comes across really nice and was great for even replying to me and didn’t make it obvious that she thought I was weird even though that’s what most people think.

You can see her work on her own website at http://www.lindychristopher.com to see her talented photography skills.

Do you remember an Ass From the Past that you want me to write about? Feel free to leave me a message and I’ll think about it

Euro 2012 Preview and Predictions

Coming up is the highly anticipated Euro 2012 and every football fan that is starting to feel the hunger from lack of Football is about to engross in a few weeks of International footballing drama.

Starting with the controversial side of the tournament, Racism will hopefully play no part, but it is sad before it has even began, player’s families and friends have been advised not to travel to the Ukraine to prevent anything that might occur speaks wonders for the level of doubt the Associations and Advisors have for the place. Not all Polish and Ukrainians are racists, but there is always a small minority there to spoil the party in any situation, whether its race gender or even if it’s just the team you support. Hopefully Racism won’t rear it’s ugly head this time.

Moving on to the football matters. Not one Nation has successfully retained the Euro Championship since it first started in 1958, but would it be wise to rule out Spain? They have dominated the sport for the past few years by winning the previous Euro’s as well as winning the World Cup two years later, but with their all-time goal scorer in David Villa injured, it seems to be a slight wobble before the tournament has begun. Their other forwards are not necessarily in the best forms of their life currently so someone will have to take a step up and take charge in Villa’s absence for them to move forward. That being said, the amount of quality in the Spanish squad, it would be foolish to write them off so early. There is a first time for everything regarding the retainment of the Championship and there is no better team to do it than Spain.

The teams I feel with problems at the moment going into the Euro’s are: England, Ukraine, Italy and France. My reasons are as follows:

England: To lose a manager in the year of the tournament is bad enough, but for the FA to wait until a few weeks before the tournament to hire someone has pretty much handed England limited chance of any success. The new boss Roy Hodgson will have had no time to look over the amount of talent available that will best fit the tactics he wants to deploy. No doubt the tactics will be completely different to what the usual England set-up is used to, so the players will have to get used to the system quickly before the tournament begins. With Roy’s selection, you can tell he has mixed the ideology of the ageing current stars with the possible future England internationals by having youth with not much experience at this level before. I believe this is the perfect balance, especially for the youth. The method may not win anything this tournament, but the experience and lessons learnt by the youth at this tournament will be majorly beneficial heading into the next World Cup, which most of the aged squad won’t be at. If anybody calls for Hodgson’s head after this tournament, even if we don’t make it out of the Group stage, need a slap of reality. It was never going to be a success in such a short time frame. “But he left out top players like Rio, Richards and Carrick!” So? Richards and Carrick apparently turned down the chance to be on standby for England, so why should Roy pick someone who isn’t willing to be available for their country at any level? I would have done the same. The Rio situation, regardless of what Rio has said to the press, is probably down to footballing reasons. Yes Terry is not in the best situation off the field; but comparing the 2 statisically, Terry has scored 7 goals and made 2 assists this season, Rio has scored 0 as well assisting 0. In fact, the last time Rio scored was for England against Kazakstan in 2008! The last time he assisted was further back in 2007. Yes he can defend extremely well, but defenders need to have another string to their bow nowadays such as being able to score in set pieces etc. What about the other defenders? Joleon Lescott = 3 goals, 1 assist. Phil Jaglieka = 2 goals, 1 assist. Phil Jones (even though he is more utility man and also plays midfield) has scored 2,  3 assists. So in defence of Roy and the footballing reasons, he is within his right to pick the people he has. Nobody is guaranteed a call-up, Rio needs to realise that.

Italy: Another major scandal has occured in the Italian football leagues, but with the same problem as before. Match-fixing. It has horrendously affected the Italian team, who did seem to be recovering from the previous scandal a few years ago. This scandal will knock them back down again. Their last friendly before the Euros was a 3-0 battering to the Russians. All the italian legends seem to be a bit too old now and need to start bringing through youth, but it just seems to be the Italian way. Something needs to change drastically for the Italians for them to get back on the right path. There has even been suggestions of cancelling the Italian league so the match-fixing problem can be rid of once and for all. I’d be highly surprised if they manage to get out of the group stage that includes Spain, Ireland and Croatia, all good sides. You never know though, with players like Pirlo orchestrating in the middle of the park, anything can happen.

Ukraine: Ukraine are in a similar position to England in the sense of losing their manager so close to the tournament. The whole having to re-adjust the tactics, personnel and players, it can cause havoc for preparation. However, with Ukraine being a co-host of the Euros, they will have the backing of the country, the crowd, willing them on, giving a bigger boost to the team. It’s quite rare host nations do poorly in this tournament, with the last one consisting of another co-hosting situation of Austria and Switzerland, both failing to get past the group stage, also Belgium in 2000. So in a way, Ukraine (or Poland) could be considered as the Dark Horse.

France: France are not really having major problems as before, like the World Cup for example, with Laurent Blanc settling the whole situation down. This does not mean however that all is well. Just recently, Patrice Evra caused another stir in a friendly by wiping his bum with a team-mates football shirt, with all of it caught on camera. The french will not take that lightly, especially the support back home. It is something that unneccessarily needed, especially for Evra, who lead the team to strike against the former manager in the last tournament, he should be keeping his head down and playing it safe, as Blance will take nonsense from nobody. France do seem to be playing alright though, being unbeaten in their last 21 games, should prove that if small problems are clamped down quickly, they should be a candidate to go far.

Who do I think will win? Well you have the usual suspects of Spain, Germany, Netherlands, even Russia are looking quite strong. Portugal aren’t as strong as they used to be, in fact they only just qualified for this tournament. With the Portuguese also in the “Group of Death” along with Germany and Netherlands, I can only see one outcome.

If I was a betting man though, all the tough teams seem to be close together, facing each other in the Quarter finals too, so it could leave an opening for a Dark horse like Croatia or Italy to sneak in the back way and take the crown this year.

I think this year, however, will belong to the Germans.

 

…You watch, everything I said will be the complete opposite of what happens.

Liverpool FC – My current evaluation

When clubs are involved in major takeovers nowadays, most people assume that when the new owners have a lot of money to invest in their new assets, that it will be spent on all the up and coming stars in the game, the best of the best, even if it is out of their means. Buying success can be a major problem, especially if success doesn’t occur. When Liverpool FC were taken over in October 2010, even though Fenway Sports Group (FSG) have a lot of money and investors, their approach to success is different, moneyball. Moneyball, I believe, is basically getting the best skill and talent that represents best value for money, to then gain a greater value on the asset if the necessity to sell occurs. In other words, the aim is to buy/ invest mainly in youth and to help develop and mould the squad into a world class players.

The first thing FSG did was to give the current manager a chance to keep on his job as they learnt the sport, the club, everything to do with the sport, as their expertise was in Baseball. They hired Damien Comolli to uncover transfer targets, who represented closely to the moneyball way as he is a major believer in statistics and analysis in players. Results never improved and so FSG dismissed Roy Hodgson and put Kenny Dalglish in charge temporarily til the end of the season, again to keep learning about the sport and who would be the best candidates for the new season.

The January transfer window saw FSG invest quite heavily in the sense of getting Luis Suarez at around £22m, but suffered a blow losing the top asset at the time in Fernando Torres to Chelsea (£50m). With the Torres sale happening on the last day of the window, Liverpool needed a replacement, and quickly. So the plan was to buy the most up-and-coming british striker at the time in Andy Carroll, stating to Chelsea that Torres is worth £15m plus whatever the price Newcastle ask for Andy Carroll, which ended up as £35m. The amount of money spent for someone who has not fully developed their skills and abilities and on potential alone is unheard of, a high risk in it self seeing as though Carroll was nursing a serious knee injury and didn’t make his debut til around March.

Results improved under Kenny Dalglish, and the fans love Dalgish as he was a club legend, so was offered the job full time at the end of the season.

The summer of 2011 saw one of the busiest transfer windows Liverpool FC has ever had in recent years, seeing 25 players leave the club, with 8 coming in. The 8 coming in were:

Craig Bellamy (free), Charlie Adam (£6m), Jordan Henderson (£16m approx), Stuart Downing (£20m), Seb Coates (undisc.), Doni (free), Jose Enrique (£6m), Villyan Bijev (undisc.).

The 25 that left were:

Aquilani (loan to buy), Ayala, Banton, Bijev(loan), Bruna, Chamberlain, Joe Cole (loan), Cooper, Darby, El Zhar, Gulacsi (loan), Highdale, Ince, Insua, Irwin, Jovanovic, Konchesky, Kyrgiakos, Mavinga, Meireles, N’Gog, Pacheco, Poulson, Saric, Degen.

Such a huge turnaround will not only have a massive effect, it will take a long time for the dust to settle. Out of all the players that left, not many were 1st team players, but it still has a detrimental effect as that it is basically the whole reserve team gone. The reserve team today consists of most of the u18’s from the previous year, so the foundations are slowly being built again, with the inclusion of new youth players being brought in throughout this current season.

Why weren’t certain players kept? Well Aquilani didn’t want to be here full stop, so has been sent out on loan again as clubs were not willing to meet the asking price for him. Meireles wasn’t the best midfielder in the sense of tackling  and went missing most matches, he linked up the attack quite well towards the end of the season, but handed in a transfer request towards the end of the transfer window for whatever reasons he had.

Joe Cole had a nightmare season and just didn’t seem to fit in the style of Kenny Dalglish’s tactics, so was sent out on loan and I fully expect him to be sold this summer. The rest were seen surplus to requirements and were despatched as seen fit by free transfer, loan or sold.

The signings have been the main talking point this season, with most of the deals considered to be overpriced for the players, with British players being overpriced for many years now, Liverpool took the risk.

Let’s start with Stewart Downing. After spending £20m on him, his crossing and assists were his main assets, chipping in with the odd goal too. Liverpool have lacked this over the previous seasons, especially in wide players, so was deemed a necessity. Unfortunately, he has yet to score in the league and only has 1 assist to his name, how is this so? His form has been very poor, but slowly improved as the season has gone on. He has hit the woodwork about 5 times, so he is getting the chances. He is getting the ball in the box, but with LFC struggling in the final third, with nobody daring to get into the box to attack the crosses, the chances won’t be converted. So although he was an expensive buy, he is providing the opportunities, more so as the season goes on, which is being asked of him, so not all blame should be on him.

Charlie Adam, bought for £6m. Sir Alex Ferguson rated his corner taking was worth at least £10m alone. His first season in the Premier League with Blackpool he was a scorcher, creating many assists, his long ball accuracy was second to none and his set pieces were nearly impossible to defend. For some reason, even though he has 6 assists to his name this season, his corners and set pieces have been atrocious. His long balls are still there, but not as often (possibly due to tactics?) and his goal rate isn’t as good, even though he has had chances. I noticed he is a selfish player at times too, trying a spectacular shot, instead of playing in one of his team mates who is more likely to score and in a better position to do so. The effect of trying too hard may be the problem with Adam, forcing the set-pieces rather than letting his natural ability run it’s course. He was always the hero for Blackpool, so feels he has to try that extra hard to make himself an instant hero in the red shirt. Very rarely players are tagged as heroes instantly, ask Lucas Leiva. Time (if given) will see his abilities shine again, as long as he becomes more of a team player.

Jordan Henderson, bought for approx £16m. Out of all the signings made last summer, I feel for this guy the most. After being at one club for his whole young life, the 21 year old was bought for a big price with only about a  full season in the first team for Sunderland. Not only is a new club daunting at a young age, he has constantly been played out wide, a position he hardly played  in the Sunderland days. He is a central midfielder, and a great talent at that, but been played constantly in a position he’s not used to, in your 2nd full season as a first team player at a brand new club, is going to affect your performance over time. Credit where its due, he has never given up, he hasn’t moaned, he has just got on with it and tried to make the best out of the situation. Unfortunately, most people see him as a huge flop. He should have been utilised more of a squad player this season, allowing Dirk Kuyt to operate the right wing, which he has done for years now. But for some strange reason, Dalglish has been sticking by Henderson, maybe because he was his signing and is giving valuable playing time to help him settle. After seeing his recent performances, it seems to have backfired as constantly poor performances has knocked his confidence big time.

Jose Enrique for £6m. One of the best buys and value for money. For a few years LFC have been lacking a good full back on the left, and have seemed to have found the answer in Enrique. He has been solid throughout the season, but seems to have got complacent since the turn of the year. This is probably due to lack of competition for his place in the team. There is either Fabio Aurelio, who is always injured, or Jack Robinson, who is only 18 and needs more experience and will probably go on loan next season.

Craig Bellamy. Free transfer. One of the signings of the summer for me. An absolute revelation since his move from Manchester City. His performances have improved every time he has stepped onto the pitch, it’s just a shame his knees aren’t holding up and isn’t a few years younger.

Seb Coates. Bought for undisclosed fee. Even though he has hardly appeared and is bought for the future, he seems to be a solid centre back with a cracking scissor kick! In a handful of matches he has played, he has seemed quite solid, but has made a few mistakes, due to not being used to the tempo and physicality of the English game. Comparing to what he is used to, the Uruguayan league, he needs time to bulk up and understand the English game more. When he does, he’ll be a top centre back.

Due to the sales of Aquilani and Meireles, there has been chances along the line for Jay Spearing and Jonjo Shelvey.

Jay Spearing has been involved more in the squad since the season-ending injury to Lucas Leiva and even though he has had solid games, he is no Lucas. He can only get better with game time, and may go on loan next year to a Premiership may help develop him more if Liverpool recruit more midfielders in the summer. Jonjo Shelvey hasn’t has as many appearances than Spearing, but he is definately a star in the making if he works hard. He has the confidence to take men on and to shout at his team mates at a tender age of 19. Again another loan deal will do him wonders next season.

Liverpool as a whole has struggled for goals this season, even though the new strikeforce cost more than £50m. Suarez has problems this season with the whole racial abuse situation, which will of course knock anybody’s confidence and form. Andy Carroll on the other hand has found it hard to stay in the first team line-up throughout the season, maybe for tactical reasons or just because his form and mind isn’t where it should be. He has a similar story to Henderson,  only being at one club all his life. Only been in the first team at Newcastle for about a season and a half, to then all of a sudden being the bought as the most expensive british football player ever. It is going to be daunting to him, new club for the first time, huge price on his head, took a long time to recover from his knee injury. His performances recently have slowly improved, but its the goals scored people are interested in for strikers and for Andy, only scoring about 8 goals since his move over a year ago, has been poor. He has hit the woodwork a few times, his teamwork display has improved greatly, but he is never putting himself in the penalty area to convert chances. Many times this season, people like Downing or Suarez have surged down the side and cross the ball across the goal for someone to tap in and Andy Carroll is outside the penalty area, stood there watching it all unfold. This video says it all, Carroll just stands there and watches Shelvey run past him instead of running into the box, creating an opportunity or a distraction for Newcastle players. As soon as he gets that part of his game sorted and settles down with his lifestyle, forgets about the price tag and develops his game more, he’ll be tapping in goals for fun. Most target man strikers turn good around mid 20’s given  by Paul Tomkin’s research . He also states John Toshack joined Liverpool at the age of 21 and his best seasons didn’t start til the age of 26. So it’s the case of you have got a couple of years to wait yet til Carroll hits top form with his target man role.

In summary, Liverpool have improved the squad since FSG has taken over, but have replaced them with only squad players who have the potential to be better. There needed to be more signings for now, not just for the future, but maybe none were available at the current time. This has definately shown this season as Liverpool can’t even buy a point let alone win one at the moment. For me, the turning point of the season was Lucas’ injury, he held everything together and allowed players to go forward feeling comfortable Lucas was there to mop up any counter-attacks. Liverpool have missed him greatly and really don’t have another defensive midfielder as effective as him, Spearing has played solidly, but been missing when it matters sometimes.

A couple of world class players are needed if possible. A striker who is going to guarantee you goals and a playmaker in midfield, or a player who has the ability to cut open defences, as Liverpool’s other downfall has been the inability to create chances against teams who sit back. Another winger is also need for the right hand side, to whip in more boxes to invite Andy Carroll into the box more. A manager is normally given the sack after the record Kenny Dalglish has faced over the past few weeks. So FSG may look into moving Kenny back upstairs and look for a new, young manager to develop the youth and the potentially talented players into world beaters. If Kenny Dalglish is kept on, which I’ll have no problem with, he’ll need to buy quality to improve the current first 11, not just to add to the squad ( except for the left back position). Without Champions League, it’ll be hard to get the quality needed though, Damien Comolli, will need to start looking for diamonds in the rough.

Gaming Blog #2 – Unchartered 3 – Drake’s Deception

Naughty Dog’s successful Unchartered series continues into it’s prime with another great release, Drake’s Deception. Did it live up to the predecessor Among Thieves? Yes. In fact it was all too similar, but I’ll resist from splurting out spoilers.

I’ll start with what Naughty Dog seem quite proud of, which is the fact that it comes across as if its an actual film. What do I mean? Most of the Characters have deep stories that you don’t explore during the game, but come up briefly whilst playing, assuring that more sequels are along the way. The way the camera pans out to see how big the cruise ship is, or some other mass landscape that shows the amazing graphics (this also featured in Among Thieves the one time, possibly as a tester); this frustrates me in a way of it’ll only pan in again if you keep moving Drake to the correct area. Normally it’s just the case of travelling in a straight line, but (for me) it pans out too far and I didn’t know which direction to take, so was stuck looking at a mass landscape with a tiny Drake running in circles for a couple of minutes. These panning scenes happen a few times too, so the effect of going “ooooooooh“ for the first time eventually becomes “Oh, another one? Is it necessary?”. There was a couple of “escape scenes” too where the camera kept moving and cutting to different angles, which really didn’t help at all and was quite a put off, but made the action on the screen look like a top market action film (if the hero doesn’t run into walls or constantly die). In the middle of the game, where Drake is in the desert, it may have been easier to make it a long cut scene instead of bit-by-bit interaction as it dragged a bit too much. I understand why it was done, to feel he’s been in the desert for ages and gets dehydrated and hallucinates etc etc. Just got boring for me, got the point pretty early on but had to keep trudging along through the dunes.

There was a couple of times during this game where I could have sworn I was playing a Max Payne game, the bit where he’s drugged up and going through dark shady areas with the bloody walls and crying child? Well it was like that, just without the bloody walls and crying child.
“Traditionally” there always seems to be a baddy that is “abnormal” or fictional, a monster baddy if you will, such as the Nazi and Spanish Armada zombie thingies in Drake’s Fortune and the big butch Avatar look-a-likes/ Goat Yeti things in Among Thieves. In Drake’s Deception however, there was only a small glimpse of a few flamey head baddies that were a bit harder to kill, but only for a tiny amount of the game compared to how big the gameplay is, which I found disappointing as I was expecting to get a bit scared at some point throughout.

The engine for this game seems to have added extra effects on it, with the movement of Drake being a lot more realistic. Imagine Assassin’s Creed engine where you walk into people or walls and your character reacts to it with either shoulder barge or hands along the wall. It improves the realism of the game tenfold.

There are a bunch of new guns included this time around such as the PAK 80 (heavy machine gun)and G-mal, with some oldies in there too (AK47, Wes 44 etc) with the variety allowing you to explore different ways of killing the pesky villains.

If you are used to the story lengths of such games as Call of Duty or Battlefield 3, then you will be in for a surprise when playing this game. Some chapters in this game can be done without in a way, but after playing those FPS’s and then getting into this game, I needed many a rest! Just like Among Thieves, the gameplay is huge, with many hours to be enjoyed along with the gripping story and witty humour and banter of the characters, You definitely get the “Just one more Chapter” disease.

The story ended in a similar way to it’s predecessor,*possible spoiler alert* running away from a collapsing historical buildings and not getting the treasure is just old news. It needed something different to finish it as that ending has been done before and will probably be done again in the future. The “Boss fight” was very poor too, in fact I’ll go and say there wasn’t one. After playing hours upon hours to finally get to the end, I expected something that was going to get me killed many times and throw plenty of curse words at the screen, but what it ended up being was anti-climatic and a bit of a let down.

The multiplayer side of it is a big improvement on Among Thieves, with the layouts and the upgrades included makes the interaction and customisation a lot better, with the added Co-op sessions too. The Co-op adventures especially are my favourite and great fun to do, as you get to play along to a story line completely separate to the main single player story with either people on your friends list or complete strangers.

Overall, the game is a great success and has a re-playable aspect to it due to treasure collecting and using different guns to collect achievements. Multiplayer really makes the game a high marker too, with more options than running and gunning like most shooting games. If its a good storyline game you‘re after, I would say Among Thieves is the better of the 3 Unchartered games out so far as Drakes Deception is just too similar to it story wise.