Arsenal 4 West Ham United 1

Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal farewell started in the perfect manner as the Gunners scored three goals in seven second-half minutes to ease to victory against West Ham at the Emirates. This was the first match since Wenger announced he would be leaving the club at the end of the season on Friday, after almost 22 years. Victory was also the perfect warm-up to Thursday’s Europa League semi-final first-leg against Atletico Madrid. The Gunners had taken the lead on 51 minutes after Nacho Monreal volleyed in from a corner, but Marko Arnautovic equalised just after the hour mark, rifling a shot past David Ospina.

Aaron Ramsey put the hosts back into the lead in the 82nd minute when his tame cross was not dealt with by Hammers’ defender Declan Rice and Joe Hart could only watch as the ball rolled in at his far post. Alexandre Lacazette made it three as his close-range shot beat Hart at the near post in the 85th minute, before the Frenchman sidefooted in his second four minutes later. One negative for Wenger will be an injury to Mohamed Elneny, who was taken off the pitch on a stretcher after injuring his foot in a 50-50 challenge with Mark Noble towards the end of the first half.

Victory keeps Arsenal sixth, 11 points behind fourth-placed Tottenham with four games remaining, but while they can still mathematically finish in the top four, their most likely route into the Champions League is by winning the Europa League. West Ham, who had dominated much of the first half, drop to 15th place, six points from the drop zone. Wenger made five changes to the side that lost 2-1 to Newcastle last week. Some were enforced, while others were made with the Europa League in mind. Record signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang started on the bench and Petr Cech missed out with a hip injury.

Mesut Ozil missed the game with illness, while Jack Wilshere and Sead Kolasinac had ankle injuries. Despite Wenger’s impending departure, the Emirates lacked a celebratory mood as the teams came out. There were empty seats, no fanfare and the Frenchman snuck into his dugout. The first half gave Arsenal fans little to cheer about as the visitors dominated the early exchanges. Granit Xhaka had their only shot on target as his free-kick stung the palms of Hart, while Danny Welbeck wasted a number of chances.

Shkodran Mustafi struggled in defence against Arnautovic and there were warning signs ahead of a meeting with one of the world’s best strikers in Atletico’s Antoine Griezmann. Despite deservedly taking the lead after half-time, their defensive frailties were exposed again for the equaliser. The introduction of Aubameyang in the 70th minute lifted the team and the fans. Hart was twice forced into action, first by Xhaka and then by Welbeck, before Ramsey’s goal started a late flourish as Arsenal finished in style.

I, Tonya

I, Tonya  is a 2017 American black comedy biographical film directed by Craig Gillespie and written by Steven Rogers. It follows the life of figure skater Tonya Harding and her connection to the 1994 attack on her rival Nancy Kerrigan. It features interviews with the characters in mockumentary-style set in the modern day, as well as fourth wall breaking. Margot Robbie (who also produced) stars as Harding, Sebastian Stan plays Harding’s husband Jeff Gillooly, and Allison Janney plays Harding’s mother LaVona Golden; Julianne Nicholson, Caitlin Carver, Paul Walter Hauser, and Bobby Cannavale also star.

Although enjoyable, I find it odd that the movie focuses on Harding and her ex-husband Jeff who conspired to hurt and intimidate Nancy – maybe not to hurt her that badly – but still the story is about the wrong doers. The infamous incident about the attack on her friend and rival Nancy Kerrigan is one of sports and media history, so much so that it is still clear in my mind all these years later. Harding has stuck to her story and maintains that she did not do anything wrong other the fact that once she found out about the attack on Nancy and that her only crime is not coming out sooner, having hindered the investigation.

After Tonya’s confidence is shaken by a death threat; Jeff realises he can do the same to Tonya’s main rival Nancy Kerrigan. However, Jeff’s delusional friend Shawn Eckhart, seeking notoriety and prestige, hires two inept crooks to attack Kerrigan after a practice session in Detroit. Kerrigan’s knee is badly injured by Shane Stant, and both men involved are soon arrested. Eckhardt’s bragging around town quickly leads the FBI to him. He points the finger at Jeff, who is horrified to learn that Eckhardt gave orders beyond sending death threats via letters. Tonya qualifies for the Olympic team amid the allegations that she was involved in Kerrigan’s attack. Realizing that she will be found guilty by the association, she goes to the FBI and tells them what Jeff and Shawn did, who then show her written testimony to Jeff during the interview, and he races to her house to attack her. Tonya leaves him for good and he implicates her to the authorities, claiming she knew about the attack.

At the Olympics, Tonya comes in eighth place and Kerrigan wins the silver medal. Her abusive and inept mother comes to see Tonya amid a media circus but is thrown out when Tonya realizes she is wearing a recording device and ejects her from her home. Jeff, Eckhardt and Stant are all sentenced, with Tonya’s trial postponed until after the Olympics. Tonya avoids jail but is given three years probation, 500 hours of community service, and a $100,000 fine. She is also forced to withdraw from the 1994 World Figure Skating Championships and is banned from competitive figure skating for life. Heartbroken, she begs the judge to give her jail time rather than take away the one thing she knows how to do; the judge declines. Jeff acknowledges that he ruined Tonya’s career, changes his name and remarries. Tonya embraces her notoriety and becomes a boxer, whilst becoming a nurturing mother to her own children.

Brilliantly acted but I don’t really see the point about telling their story. It is fun to see 80s hair and clothes and the music is awesome. Robbie, the excellent Janney & Sebastian are all delightful in their roles as not so likeable people. 8 outta 10!

RIP Verne Troyer

Verne Troyer, who played Mini-Me in two of the Austin Powers comedy films, has died at the age of 49, according to statements posted to his social media accounts Saturday. Troyer was 49. No cause of death was immediately released. He was hospitalized earlier this month after emergency responders in Los Angeles went to his home, according to media reports.

Troyer, who was reportedly 2 feet, 8 inches tall, once joked with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer in 2002 that after gaining fame as Mini-Me he would go out in public with a hat and sunglasses on, “but it just doesn’t seem to work.”He added: “I’m still trying to get used to it. I’m just adjusting day by day. So you know, it’s — I don’t know. It’s — I’m just enjoying it and taking it one step at a time.” According to the Internet Movie Database, Troyer was in 58 movies and television shows. He played Mini-Me, the diminutive clone of Mike Myers’ Dr. Evil, in “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me” and “Austin Powers in Goldmember.”

He broke into entertainment as the stunt double for a 9-month-old baby in the 1994 film “Baby’s Day Out.” Among his other roles are  Griphook the goblin in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Love Guru & The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.

Wenger : Good Riddance

So we are hearing a lot of reports that Arsene Wenger was asked to resign aka sacked by the Arsenal board. Realistically, there were three scenarios for Wenger. Stay until the end of the season, perhaps win the Europa League along the way and then announce his departure, one of those “mutual consent” deals that clubs use to mask sackings. Another was hanging in there by his fingernails and getting the metaphorical bullet come the end of May. The third is the path he chose after it became clear to him that nothing, not even a European trophy and a return to the Champions League, was going to change Arsenal’s collective mind to get rid of him.

It had gone on too far – he has been so arrogant and he talks utter nonsense in interviews. Really, who did he think he was fooling? Perhaps himself and a load of AKB’s who don’t know anything but Wenger. The asshole had to go. He blamed the fans, he blamed the media, he blamed everyone – everyone but who he should have actually have blamed! Himself! The guy was a joke towards the end. A dinosaur beyond his prime. He was stubborn and pigheaded and so full of himself. Yes he has good things being said about him from players who have fond memories but I could not wait to see the last of him.

So goodbye you moron. Good riddance! We come to the end of the Wenger out protests and the empty seats that fans have become accustomed to seeing this year.

Arsene Wenger To Step Down As Arsenal Manager

Arsene Wenger has announced he is stepping down as Arsenal manager at the end of the season, bringing an end to a 21-and-a-half-year reign that brought unprecedented early success but has seen a late decline that made his position increasingly untenable. Wenger issued a statement earlier today that caught everyone by surprise, announcing his departure and thanking the club for letting him serve for “so many memorable years.”He added: “After careful consideration and following discussions with the club, I feel it is the right time for me to step down at the end of the season. I am grateful for having had the privilege to serve the club for so many memorable years.

“I managed the club with full commitment and integrity. I want to thank the staff, the players, the Directors and the fans who make this club so special. I urge our fans to stand behind the team to finish on a high. “To all the Arsenal lovers take care of the values of the club. My love and support for ever.” Arsenal said a new manager will be appointed “as soon as possible.” Club chief executive Ivan Gazidis is scheduled to hold a news conference at 5 p.m. local time on Friday. According to Press Association Sport, Wenger asked Arsenal to hold off announcing his decision to leave the club so he could inform his players first.

Wenger was keen to tell the Arsenal players himself and did so ahead of training at their London Colney base and minutes before the news was made public by the club. His coaching staff were also informed of the decision in advance, although club staff working at the Emirates Stadium rather than the training ground discovered the news at the same time as everyone else. Speculation surrounding the Frenchman’s future has been rampant in recent months, with Arsenal set to miss out on a top-four finish in the Premier League for the second year running. Still, there was a general feeling that he could still save his job and see out the remaining year of his contract if Arsenal won the Europa League, thus qualifying for next season’s Champions League.

Building Basement Collapses During Piling Work

Last night as I passed by Kaloor on my way home from work, I saw the commotion on the streets. Tension gripped the city on Thursday night when the basement of a building under construction at Kaloor collapsed, threatening the structural stability of nearby buildings and roads, besides forcing the suspension of the Kochi metro services. The incident happened around 8.30 p.m. when the two-storey deep basement parking area of the building of an upcoming textile major caved in during the course of piling work being undertaken using excavators.

Following the incident, occupants of a section of Gokulam Park Hotel and another three-storey commercial building, which reportedly developed a slant to either side of the upcoming building were evacuated as a precautionary measure. As a crack appeared near the road in the impact of the collapse, traffic between Kaloor and Kacherippady was also fully suspended. At least three Kochi metro services were suspended midway through following the incident. The last train from Aluva to Maharaja’s terminated service at Palarivattom, while a train bound for Aluva from Maharaja’s suspended service at MG Road. Another train bound for Aluva never took off from Maharaja’s station.

Track experts of the Kochi metro are already at work, and the service up to Maharaja’s will be resumed only after their assessment as the incident took place close to the metro pillars. The site identified for the third extension of the culvert in front of PVS Hospital had developed a crack, and that if it had already been constructed, it would have collapsed in the impact. A Kerala Water Authority (KWA) pipeline also burst in the impact of the collapse, and the thick jet of water further worsened the situation.

Cannot Wait For Friday Evening

Argghhhhhhhh! I am tired and frustrated. I have been working morning shifts and reaching home late. 12 or 13 hours a day. Waking up at 6:30 am or 7 am and leaving home by 8:30 am and reaching home by 10 pm. That is not what I want. I hope this stops soon.

I am so tired. I barely have time to go online for a little while and chill down for a while. Then I watch an episode of one my shows and fall asleep. And I wake up tired and needing a huge pot of coffee to be intravenously fed to me. Ok, two pots! Strong, black coffee.

So I am glad that tomorrow is Friday so I can then sleep easily and sleep late. Friday evening cannot come quickly enough. Ah, I gotta go to bed. Good night.

Home Of My Dreams

Describe your dream home.

what I would like in a dream home is a nice, big spacious 2 storey home, double car attached garage, that starts off with a living / dining room in the front off the foyer / entrance. It is very important that the living / dining room for guests is away from the kitchen and family room. That is for guests and entertaining, the latter is for you and your family. One half bathroom / powder room for guests and for emergencies when you are at home too. At the back of the house I would like a large kitchen with center island, large freezer /fridge, beer fridge, double wall ovens.

One nice room as a den / office where I have my computer, dvd/bluray collections and various Star Trek and other Scifi models on display. A pantry area and a butler’s pantry too. A nice deck out back with a large green yard confined by picket fences on the left and right sides and a grill at the back – which overlooks a small lake. 2 dogs and 2 kitties that play in that yard. One smoking hot wife who is totally in love & lust with me and vice versa. Above a master bedroom with 5 piece attached bathroom and 2 large walk in closets. 2 additional bedrooms with bath attached and a single room which will be converted into a library.

The basement will have a large tv room, pool table, Foosball table, a small wine cellar, one half bathroom, an additional bedroom with batch attached and a storage room next to the facilities room. And it has to be a walkout basement leading to the backyard. That’s all I ask for!

Prompt from 31 DAYS OF WRITING PROMPTS FOR MAY at The SitsGirls

What’s Your Favorite Neighbourhood Joint?

My favourite joint – it’s not really in my immediate neighbourhood but a quick 20 minutes away – is the original Golden Dragon restaurant which is located in Mercy Estate, Ravipuram. So it’s an old joint and it’s been a favourite for quite a few years. I love Chinese food and my family and I have ordered it several 100 times over the years.

We used to love to go with uncles, aunts and my cousins to Chinese Garden but as I turned into my 20s, I started loving Golden Dragon. Mostly because it’s more authentic and it’s also more tasty. Plus – and this is very important – they have license for beer and alcoholic drinks. I love sitting there for a few hours, tasting some awesome pork, beef, seafood and chicken while downing a few beers or drinking vodka.

My cousin and I go once every couple of months and sit there for 4-5 hours and drink a few and eat a lot and chat quite a bit. I also go there with friends. I love this place.

Prompt from The Learning Network at The New York Times

Thanks For The Tips

Paddy, newly arrived from Ireland, attends his first confession in New York. “What sins have you come to confess?” the priest asks.

“Ah, Father,” Paddy replies, “’Tis a terrible thing I’ve done. Blighted fair womankind, I have.”

“That is a serious sin, Paddy,” the priest replies. “Who was the woman?”

“Now, Father, I couldn’t tell you that,” Paddy replies. “It would be like betraying her all over again.”

“Only a full confession will cleanse you of your sin,” the priest admonishes. “And everything you tell me will be held in strictest confidence. So come on now — was it Mary from the Five Points?”

“Father, please don’t ask me.”

“Well, was it Kathleen from Hell’s Kitchen?”

“Father, I just can’t say.”

“Was it Sheila from Ninth Avenue?”

“No, no — I can’t speak her name, Father.”

The priest sighs. “Very well. Say three Hail Marys and put $2 in the collection box.”

“Thank you, Father, thank you,” Paddy says as he rises to leave. “Oh, and Father — thanks for all the good tips!”

Insidious: The Last Key

Insidious: The Last Key (also known as Insidious: Chapter 4) is a 2018 American supernatural horror film directed by Adam Robitel and written by Leigh Whannell. It is produced by Jason Blum, Oren Peli, and James Wan. It is the fourth installment in the Insidious franchise, and the second in the chronology of the story running through the series. Starring Lin Shaye, Angus Sampson, Leigh Whannell, Spencer Locke, Caitlin Gerard, and Bruce Davison, the film follows parapsychologist Elise Rainier as she investigates a haunting in her childhood home.

The movie is set chronologically second in the series, years (I guess) after the events of the 3rd movie and the ending connects a full circle back to the first film. Elise is asked to help a man who contacts her with a ghostly infestation in his house that he recently bought. When she takes down the address, she is shocked to find out that the man lives in her old childhood home. As a child she could see spirits which her abusive father forbade her to do but which her mother Audrey encouraged. After an incident which scared her younger brother, Elise’s father locked her in the basement as punishment where Elise to a door which she unlocks. A demon called “Key Face” comes through the door, possessing Elise. Audrey investigates, finding Elise, but the entity kills Audrey by hanging her. Elise comes out of the possession as Gerald arrives, finding Elise and Audrey’s body.

Along with Specs & Tucker, Elise investigates the house A female ghost appears and attacks Elise, shouting “help her”, before vanishing with the whistle. Elise tells them that she has seen her before, as a teenager. Elise saw the ghost in their laundry room. Gerald investigated and said he saw nothing. Fearing another beating, Elise fled the house and abandoned Christian. The next morning, Elise, Tucker, and Specs visit a diner, meeting sisters, Melissa and Imogen. Christian joins them, and they learn that the girls are Christian’s daughters and Elise’s nieces. Christian is still furious at Elise for abandoning him and storms out. Hoping to repair their relationship, Elise hands Melissa a photo of the whistle, telling her to show it to Christian. That night, Elise and Tucker hear the whistle being blown downstairs.

Elise follows the sound into the basement, where she realizes it is coming from behind a wall. Elise asks a series of questions and learns that what she is looking for is behind the wall. Elise sees that the wall is a door and rushes to her bedroom to get the keys. Behind the door, she finds a bloodied girl with a chain around her neck. Ted storms into the room and it’s shown that he was keeping the girl against her will. He locks the group in the room and tries to kill Specs, but he tricks Ted, and kills him with a bookcase. The police rescue the group and Elise is taken in for questioning. Christian and his girls go to find the whistle. Melissa is lured into the basement and is attacked by “Key Face”. The entity sticks two keys in Melissa, one steals her voice, and the other takes her soul and sends her into a coma. During the questioning, Elise is startled by a vision of Melissa, realizing she is in danger. Elise, Tucker and Specs find Melissa in the basement.

Christian demands that Elise stay away and Melissa is taken to the hospital. Imogen tells Elise that she can also astral project into The Further. Elise tells Imogen she intends to save Melissa by defeating Key Face once and for all, thereby ridding the house of the evil entities.  In a flashback, Elise saw Anna in the laundry room. She was actually alive and escaped from the room she was locked in. When Gerald walked in, he saw Anna, but pretended that he saw nothing. After Elise ran away, Gerald brutally killed Anna. While Elise examines a suitcase, she’s ambushed by Key Face, who takes her into The Further, leaving her unconscious body in the real world. Imogen helps her and they fight Key Face and Audrey’s spirit arrives to help them defeat them.

Melissa’s spirit returns to her body in the real world, saving her life. Elise makes amends with her Mother and says goodbye. Elise and Imogen return to the real world and reunite with Melissa and Christian at the hospital. Christian forgives Elise and she gives him the whistle, and she goes home to California. In her sleep, Elise sees a vision of Dalton, with the Red-faced demon looming over him, and she wakes up startled. Her phone rings. A woman, Lorraine, calls for help for her grandson, Dalton. Elise helped her with her son Josh years earlier and she agrees to help Dalton.

Although I like the story line, the movie itself suffers from the actual execution. The scares are predictable and repetitive and the cast isn’t very effective. Lin Shaye is excellent in her role for the 4th film. Even the jokes fall short. 6.5 outta 10!

Newcastle United 2 Arsenal 1

Newcastle passed the 40-point mark and all but secured their Premier League future by beating Arsenal, whose terrible away record in 2018 continued. Matt Ritchie’s 68th-minute goal earned the Magpies their fourth straight league win and put them on 41 points with five games remaining, 13 clear of relegation. Arsenal, who reached the Europa League semi-finals with a 6-3 aggregate win over CSKA Moscow in Russia on Thursday, are the only team in England’s top four divisions yet to earn an away league point in 2018. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette, playing for the first time together, had linked up for Arsenal’s opener in the 14th minute.

The Gabon striker received Shkodran Mustafi’s chip and clipped the ball to the far post for the arriving Lacazette to slide in and score. Ayoze Perez equalised just before the half-hour mark, running in past Shkodran Mustafi, to guide in DeAndre Yedlin’s cross at the near post. Calum Chambers should have put Arsenal back in front towards the end of the half, but he pushed an attempt wide as he slid in to meet Mustafi’s header. It took until the 67th minute for either side to have a shot in the second half, with Ritchie then getting the winner a minute later. Nacho Monreal failed to clear the ball and substitute Islam Slimani’s header was flicked on by Perez into the path of Ritchie, who coolly steered his shot past Petr Cech.

Kenedy almost made it three, his shot looping up and hitting the bar. This was another dire away performance from Arsenal, for whom the only way to save their season will be by winning the Europa League to secure automatic Champions League qualification. But they face a semi-final against Atletico Madrid, who are second in La Liga, and based on this display at St James’ Park, victory will be a tall order. Arsene Wenger gave a Premier League debut to 18-year-old midfielder Joe Willock, while Hector Bellerin was not in the squad.

Food Review #224

KFC’s Chicken Longer – a pathetic looking & below average tasting sandwich. It was cold, bland and dry with little chicken inside. I dunno if it was that particular KFC outlet (it’s on my way to work so it’s convenient) but KFC’s standards have dipped badly. On other occasions too I have noticed their poor service . French fries were the worst tasting ever. I did not review it in this video but when I bit into the chicken piece – it was cold on one side and on the other when I bit into it, a vat of oil just oozed out. Terrible!

CSKA Moscow 2 Arsenal 2

Arsenal reached the Europa League semi-finals with a 6-3 aggregate win over CSKA Moscow despite a nervy 2-2 draw in Russia. Arsene Wenger’s side were trailing 2-0 and under pressure when Danny Welbeck’s second-half goal gave them breathing space. The hosts, who led through Fedor Chalov and Kirill Nababkin, went close to drawing level on aggregate and leading on away goals as Petr Cech saved Aleksandr Golovin’s free-kick and Sergei Ignashevich shot narrowly wide. Arsenal, the leading scorers in the competition, did not have an effort on target in the first 70 minutes, and Laurent Koscielny wasted a glorious chance before Welbeck struck.

Aaron Ramsey’s goal in stoppage time made certain of their progress into the last four alongside Atletico Madrid, Marseille and Salzburg. Viktor Goncharenko’s men had dreamed of an upset when Chalov reacted before Shkodran Mustafi to score the opener after Cech saved Nabakin’s header. Cech was at fault when he could only parry Golovin’s strike from 25 yards and Nababkin reacted first to double the hosts’ lead. But Arsenal, who lost midfielder Jack Wilshere to injury, kept their nerve to enter the semi-final draw, which takes place in Nyon, Switzerland, at 11:00 BST on Friday.

Arsenal’s Europa League dream lives on – just – after a tense night in Moscow, and Wenger can still hope for his first European trophy with the Gunners. With CSKA leading and asking some severe questions of the visitors, it required Welbeck – who scored twice against Southampton after what Wenger described as a “dark” time in his career – to save the day. He latched on to a wonderful Mohamed Elneny pass to finish calmly 15 minutes from time. That goal knocked the stuffing out of an impressive CSKA, who recovered well from losing influential Russia midfielder Alan Dzagoev to injury in the first half. Ramsey, who needed treatment to a badly cut foot, showed similar cool when one on one with Igor Akinfeev with the local time past midnight. Arsenal will face Athletico Madrid in the semi-finals.

Home Alone

Well, it’s the weekend. Saturday. I was alone at home for the past 4 days and my folks just came back from a trip to Bangalore with my sister and my niece. My 2 nephews study in colleges in Bangalore and we also have cousin Shalini and her husband who live there (they moved from Bombay to Bangalore about a year ago) as well as another older cousin from my dad’s side who lives there with his wife and 2 kids and 2 yellow labs.

So on me own, though the maid came in Wednesday to Friday, I slept in a lot and I did my business as per usual. I ordered a pizza on Wednesday and had a burger on Friday with a couple of wings. Uber Eats is an awesome app and service that I can utilize so much – I just love it. Today though, even if I was initially planning on going out and maybe even taking in a movie, I decided to stay in as I got very little sleep.

I woke up by 10:45 am and just had coffee before deciding to go and buy some beer. I booked an Uber and went to Bevco Self Service and bought a few beers. Came home very quickly and then got a pizza from 360 Degree via Uber Eats. Watched a movie in the afternoon and went to sleep. There’s been some thunder and lightning but no rain today, so it is a bit humid.