Sunday, May 31, 2009

The show about nothing

We went to see Jerry Seinfeld the other night.

I wasn't really sure what it would be like as I've never seen his stand up before, and only seen his show occasionally via re-runs. My Wife wasn't too sure either and wasn't too excited about going. It was more out of curiosity that I bought the tickets.

Anyway, we set off downtown pretty early as the show started at 7pm and we had dinner at an Italian restaurant next to where we always park when we go downtown.

When we arrived at the theatre, we found out that there was going to be a second show at 9.30pm so we guessed that it probably wasn't going to be a long one.

Tom Papa opened up and did around 20 minutes. His routine was mainly about being a father and the man's role in the family. Fairly fitting for a guy with a surname like Papa.

Tom Papa left the stage around 7.30pm and Jerry Seinfeld came straight on, surprising most of the audience who were expecting a break in between.

Seinfeld did just over an hour and was very good. I could hear my Wife laughing constantly so I knew she was having a great time, even if she wouldn't admit just how much she enjoyed it.

At 8.35pm it was all over and as we left the theatre, the audience for the 9.30pm show were waiting to come in, weighing up the people leaving to see whether the show was a hit.

I'm not sure if I'd have to go and see Jerry Seinfeld live again, but I'm definitely glad I got to see him at least once.

A trip downtown, dinner and a show made for a great night out with my wonderful Wife.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Sweet FA

Happy FA Cup Final day!

Whether my team is in the FA Cup final or not, it is always an exciting day for a football fan. No matter what the riches in the Premier League or Champions League, the FA Cup final is still the showpiece event of the season.

I always loved the build up the week of the cup final, interviews with the players, fans with their crazy superstitions and omens. Living in the US now it's not quite the same. Usually the game is in pay per view and you maybe get a little build up an hour before the game but not a lot else.

However, this year Setanta are airing the game so there is no extra cost for subscribers. Their coverage even started at 3am Houston time with reporters inside the stadium, outside the stadium with the fans, at the team hotels, pretty anywhere around Wembley Stadium.

The thing I like about the FA Cup final is that it's still a very British occasion. Thus year is the 128th FA Cup final so we know what we're doing by now. The Superbowl in the US is less about the actual game as the years go on and more about the occasion but despite all of the pageantry surrounding the FA Cup final, it is the game itself that is the reason we're all here.

So it's Everton v Chelsea. Everton are in their first final since 1995. Chelsea won the cup two years ago.

I hope Everton win it, mainly because I like different teams to win the cup and not have the same teams winning it as has happened in recent years with Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea winning it too often.

Portsmouth's win last year was a welcome surprise so hopefully Everton can overcome the underdog tag and claim the trophy.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Text Test

Apparently I can post to my blog via text message from my phone so this is just a test.

If it works I suppose I can post something quickly if it is too exciting to wait until I get home, or risk forgetting about.

You lucky people!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Short week

After the Memorial Day weekend last week week I thought this would be a short week in work but it hasn't really turned out like that.

We had Monday off and I finished early on Wednesday to watch the footy but Tuesday and Thursday both involved being caught up in the office until past 7pm despite planning on leaving around 4pm both days.

I plan on leaving a little bit early on Friday as my Wife and I are continuing our attempts at regaining our social life by going to see Jerry Seinfeld on Friday, and then a party on Saturday night. Another long weekend would be nice so we have an extra day to do the odd jobs you always seem to end up doing at the weekend.

There's also the small matter of the FA Cup final on Saturday which will be the last football game until August (possibly). I'm not a particular fan of either Everton or Chelsea but I'll be hoping Everton get the win, if only to see a new name on the trophy after the same names over the last few years (with the exception of Portsmouth's victory last year). Everton's last FA Cup win came against Manchester United in 1995 so it is long overdue.

As a United fan, if we can't win everything then I like new teams to at least win the cup so that things continue to be interesting.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Game over

Oh well, so it wasn't to be this time. After riding their luck for a lot of the season and not playing as well as they could, the Champions League final was a step too far for Manchester United.

Other than the first 10 minutes, they were never really in the game. Barcelona scored with their first chance and never looked back.

I actually don't feel as bad as I thought I would. It would've been much worse had it been a late winner but United didn't deserve it and were totally outplayed on the night. Barcelona are worthy champions and it's still surprising that this was only their third European Cup/Champions League title (the same as Manchester United).

This season has still been a great success. English League Champions for the third season running and a record equalling eighteenth time in total, the league Cup, World Club Cup and Charity Shield.

It will be an interesting summer but I can't see United buying too many players. It will depend on the departures with Carlos Tevez seemingly on his way, and we're sure to endure another will he won't he saga over Ronaldo and Real Madrid.

Next season might be the last we see of some of the senior players, with Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Edwin Van Der Sar all likely to retire sooner rather than later so the next few years could well be a transition period, especially if Fergie decides to retire.

Pre-match nerves

I'm just about to head out to watch the Champions League Final between Manchester United and Barcelona.

This is a huge game and my pre-match nerves have been getting gradually worse throughout the day. The last hour at work was pretty much spent pacing around the office counting down until it was time to leave!

I can't think of anything else to say I'm so excited so I'm going to sign off, even though it's such a big game that I know I'm not going to actually enjoy watching it.

See you on the other side.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Final Day Drama

It was the final day of the English Premier League season today.

I always look forward to the final day as all games start at the same time to ensure there is no funny business and this only adds to the drama.

The TV companies keep you updated with all of the scores and show how each goal affects the final table with the various teams being safe from relegation one minute and then all of a sudden sucked back into danger.

With West Brom already relegated it left two more places left to be decided with four teams still in danger of the drop. Middlesbrough are a nothing team who are pretty much just a minor irritation twice a season. Sunderland looked the least likely to go down and I wasn't that bothered either way really.

Hull City and Newcastle were the other two in danger. Hull only came up last season so I was hoping they'd stay up, mainly because it can get pretty boring when the teams that get promoted to the Premier League go straight back down. Manchester United stood in the way of Hull today and there were rumours of a weakened United side ahead of Wednesday's Champions League final but the result worked out just as I'd hoped. United played a lot of youngsters with only Darren Fletcher, who is suspended for the final, appearing regularly for the first team. Just to make sure that the relegated clubs could have no complaints, United's "3rd team" came away with a victory while results elsewhere meant Hull survived.

Newcastle are a big club with a lot of big name players who just haven't performed. Although I despise Alan Shearer, I actually prefer to see the bigger clubs in the Premier League.

In the end, all four teams were beaten which meant Middlesbrough and Newcastle were relegated.

As the title of this post suggests, there was lots of drama today, only it wasn't in the football as I'd expected.

We've had our eyes on an old rustic style beer cooler for the back garden for a while now and went to a couple of places yesterday to try and find one but to no avail. This morning we decided we'd try another store and with one eye on the clock, I decided we'd have enough time to make it there and back in time for the big kick off.

An impromptu big shop delayed us slightly but we missed only part of the first half of the games and with the magic of the DVR we were caught up by half time.

Looking forward to a frenetic second half in all of the games, this is when the drama started. My Wife noticed that something wasn't quite right with Busby's stomach. It actually appeared to be drooping on one side, almost as if he has suddenly lost a lot of weight and had too much skin.

A quick google search failed to put her mind at rest as she dissected all of the worst case scenario's convincing herself, and me that this was something serious.

To save ourselves from a possible lifetime of regrets, we decided a trip to the animal emergency clinic was in order. Luckily, there was one not too far from the house but we were advised there was a 2-3 hour wait. While we were waiting my Wife also noticed a lump just above his hind left leg.

When we finally did see the vet, he knew right away what it was. He said that it was likely that Busby had been bitten by something, or maybe stung by a bee and this has caused an edema. Basically, gravity had pulled the infected area away from the body, making it appear to be drooping, which is the only way we knew something was wrong.

They shaved his newly groomed fur to find the puncture wound and luckily it was just a bee sting. Busby had a couple of shots of pain killers and currently wouldn't look out of place in a Cheech & Chong movie or The Pineapple Express.

He should be ok in a couple of days and his stomach should return to it's normal state soon.

To his credit, Busby was really well behaved throughout his ordeal. In fact you wouldn't have guessed there was anything wrong with him if he wasn't dragging his little belly along the floor when he walked.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Fine Red Whine

For those of you that know me, you will probably have realised I'm not really as nice and easy going as I seem on these pages, and just to prove it, I have started a new blog: Fine Red Whine.

That is the place where I can let off steam and basically rant about the things that piss me off, hence the new profile photo.

I will still be updating Mancunian Moon as usual, with stories about puppy dogs and flowers, not to mention football, but over on the other blog things will be a little more intense.

Try it if you dare.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Ireland's Most Romantic Man

This is a cheeky one Mum if you're reading..

Do you ever read a news headline that grabs your attention and you find you just have to read the story and get more information? Even if the headline is about a story you would normally have no interest in reading?

I found myself in that situation today. I was reading a football website as I usually do at lunch time and their section "Mediawatch" which is a humourous look at the world of the media and their coverage of the beautiful game. The last part of this section is usually reserved for a non-football story of the day.

Here's the first paragraph of the story. See if you find yourself having to read on to get the full story:

"A NORTH Clare resident who admitted to masturbating while following young women around Galway City may be stripped of his crown as Ireland’s Most Romantic Man."

Now, this may seem a harsh punishment to some. I've known a few Irish girls over the years and I would guess their idea of romance is slightly different to a lot of other women, especially after a few drinks, so let's not jump the gun here.

Obviously my beautiful, wonderful Wife, who is also an amazing cook might I add, is not classed in the same category as the Irish girls I knew back home.

The Clare People brings us the full story if you're interested.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Pizza the future

Are you ever surprised when a company cold calls you and they seem to know a lot about you? Or you call to order something and they know your Mother's maiden name, your star sign and your inside leg measurement? Worrying isn't? here for a slice of future technology.

You know it's coming one day!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Number 18

It's all over. Manchester United are Premier League Champions for the 3rd year running, and a record equalling 18th time!

They weren't on particularly good form today against Arsenal but all they had to do was avoid defeat. With the game finishing goalless the title was wrapped up and the celebrations could start.

The party will be short lived though as the players start to concentrate on the Champions League final, with the small matter of wrapping up the domestic season next week at Hull City.

In eleven days time United will come up against Barcelona, and yesterday was the 18th anniversary of the European Cup Winners Cup final between the two clubs.

I still remember that campaign really well. It was the first season English clubs were allowed back into European competition after the Heysel disaster led to a five year ban, although Liverpool were banned for an additional year. United qualified thanks to winning the FA Cup the previous year, a win widely believed to have saved Alex Ferguson's job. I remember calling for Fergie's head in the late 80's, the 12 year old me convinced the guy would never bring the glory days back to Old Trafford!

We were all looking forward to a European adventure and some glamorous games against the big boys but we had to wait as the early rounds took us to Hungary, Poland as well as a quick trip over to Wrexham.

Was it a sign of things to come as United got to the final in that first year? Probably not really as it took the club a few years to finally get it right but on May 15th 1991 a 2-1 victory against Barcelona gave the club only their second ever European trophy.

This was a few years before the European Cup was revamped into the monster that is now the Champions League so there were some big names in the competition. It's a sad sign of how things have developed since then that the Cup Winners Cup no longer exists.

I had pre-match nerves before the Arsenal game today but it is nothing compared to how I'll feel on the 27th.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Dog's Life

Yesterday, as it was Sunday, and a nice day we took the dogs out for a walk. We usually take them to the dog park at Bear Creek but you may remember that a couple of weeks ago we had a bad storm and the local area suffered a lot of flooding. (You can read my post here).

We didn't think the park would be open again yet so we had to find an alternative so we decided on a walking trail a little further away. To get there we had to drive passed the area where the dog park is and I think it will be a few weeks before the park is open again.

This isn't a great picture, taken as we drove passed but you can still see that most of the park is under water:

Bear in mind that the opening you can see to the left is actually a road, and what now looks like a big lake is usually a collection of football (soccer) pitches that any other weekend would be full of the hustle and bustle of the local Sunday league.

When we finally arrived at our alternative park, we decided that as it was our first visit, we'd start with one of the shorter trails.

The four of us (my Wife, the two dogs and I) set off happily looking for adventure (well, not really, more a leisurely Sunday morning walk) but we soon realised we weren't as prepared as we might have been.

The Houston heat soon picked up and realising we had left all of the bottled water back in the car we decided to keep going knowing that there were water fountains (for humans and dogs) at the spot we were already heading for.

The problem with having small dogs is they only have little legs, meaning that everywhere is much further to them. We realised they maybe weren't enjoying being outside quite as much as we'd hoped when they plonked themselves down under a tree and refused to go any further.

We managed to coax them out from their resting place but had to carry them part of the way until they could get some fluid on board.

On the way back, we made sure we made more stops so they could rest up and Boomer hitched a ride with me for part of the way. He's a lot older than busby and understandably got tired.

It was hard getting them to keep going whenever we stopped. They just lay down shaking and panting and looking at us mentally demanding to know what we were thinking!

Here are Boomer and Busby on one of their rest stops:

I actually enjoyed the walk, and we'd like to do it again, but next time we'll make sure we have water, sunscreen and mosquito spray!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Derby Day

Another football post today I'm afraid but it's that time of year where everything is up for grabs.

It was derby day in Manchester with United meeting City at Old Trafford. All in all it was an easy win for United, City rarely threatened and now we need 4 points from the last 3 games to win the title.

I'm not going to discuss the game in detail but I think it is occasions like this that American sports fans miss out on. Most major cities have just one team for each sport (with the odd exception).

Houston have the Rockets for Basketball, Texans for American football and the Astros for Baseball and the Dynamo in the MLS. They may have their rival teams and there's always an extra buzz when they play Dallas in anything but it lacks that local rivalry. The one where you know that going into the office on Monday is going to be miserable if your team loses.

Having two competing teams in the same city means that a lot of friends, neighbours, and family support the other team giving any games where they play each other greater significance.

As I've mentioned before, my Grandad was a City fan and we talked about football all the time, but derby day and the weeks leading up to it, and the days after it were different. The rivalry was cranked up to 11 twice a year.

Derby day has lost a little bit of it's passion in recent years, on the pitch especially as more and more players come from overseas but off the pitch it is still huge. The local newspapers have special features about the game.

In today's game, United are closing in on the Championship but City a still hopeful of clinching a European spot for next season but knowing City fans over the years their main aim would be to dent United's hopes rather than anything their own team may achieve.

At least there has been a rivalry in recent seasons. After City beat United heavily in September 1989, United went on a 13 year unbeaten run against their local rivals and I think the games lost a bit of their spark, especially when City were struggling to get out of the third division while United were clinching the historic treble in 1999.

City beat United twice last season, a rare feat but it means that neither team can take these things for granted and they are more of a spectacle.

The win means United need 4 points from their final 3 games with the chance to have it all sewn up before Liverpool play again.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

No More Onion Bags

The Uefa Champions League final on May 27th will be an historic occasion. Not least because it is the last Champions League game covered in the US by ESPN.

They lost the rights to show games from next season and they will be on Fox soccer channel for the foreseeable future.

It's not that I have any particular dislike of ESPN in general but I won't shed a tear at the loss of their coverage and the main reason for this is their regular co-commentator Tommy Smyth.

This guy is unbelievable, from his annoyingly exaggerated Irish accent, to his lack of general football knowledge and deep lying hatred of all things English their is nothing to like about Mr Smyth (with a Y).

But more annoying than all of the above is his insistence on referring to the goal as an 'onion bag'. Every time a goal is scored it 'burst the old onion bag', or it 'dropped right in the onion bag'.

After years of putting up with his nonsense and trying to block him out to actually try and enjoy watching the games, I recently discovered that I'm not alone in my dislike for the guy. A recent article in the Guardian newspaper referred to Tommy Smyth as 'the most hated sports commentator in the world'.

There is also a website devoted to the subject called No more onion bags, and an inevitable Facebook group (just one of many).

The guy really knows nothing about the game and it's actually embarrassing when you think that Americans may tune in to try and see what the fuss is all about, only to hear this guy spout his drivel and go back to their jumbo bag of cheeto's and throwball super match up series.

I don't have any particular affinity to Rupert Murdoch and his media empire but I will be forever in their debt for removing this pillock from my life.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Hidden Talents

You know when someone tries something for the first time and it turns out they're really good at it? Wife encouraged me to start a blog as she knows I love to write and it was a good chance for me to put my thoughts down on paper (so to speak). Not long after, she herself started to blog about whatever was on her mind, anything and everything.

At first it was bit worrying as I wasn't immune from her wrath (just kidding!) but she has developed into a really good blogger. She writes about things that she is passionate about and this comes across in her writing.

She's recently made some changes and additions to her blog and it looks really good. She's added pictures to each post that are topical and all the more impressive when she told me she had taken the pictures herself. So now she has two formerly hidden talents, writing, and photography. Do I know how to pick them or what?!?

Unfortunately, she doesn't always see how talented she is and thinks that my compliments are just me humoring her. This is far from the truth and I am very impressed as well as proud.

Her blog is called 'One off' and can be found here. Check it out for yourself.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Last weekend, I did something I've got out of the habit of doing. I splashed quite a bit of money on something that I wanted, rather than something my Wife and I needed. After two years of wishing, and talking myself out of getting one, I finally got an iPhone.

It tells you something about the advance in technology when I tell you that it was probably the third day of owning the phone that I finally got round to trying to figure out how to actually make a call.

There are thousands of applications you can get, many of them free including games, restaurant guides, drink recipes, GPS systems. I can even set my DVR to record something I'd forgotten.

It's no exaggeration to say that the iPhone is like a laptop computer in your pocket. You can access the internet, check e-mails, weather reports, sports results, whatever you want.

The only downside to having an iPhone is that it attracts unwanted attention from jealous types. Every time I get home from work, my Wife greets me at the door, gives me a kiss and demands I hand over my phone. At least Dick Turpin wore a mask!

I'm now resigned to the fact that I will have to get her one in the near future. Despite her getting a new phone not too long ago on the basis that she 'likes flip phones', she's now started dropping the odd hint how her phone isn't working properly or doing the things its supposed to.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


An update on the second Champions League semi final and Barcelona scored a 93rd minute equaliser to go through to the final on the away goals rule after it looked like Chelsea had set up a repeat of last year's final.

But to give credit where credit is due, Chelsea took the lead from a superb goal from Michael Essien.

I'll admit I would much rather play Barcelona than Chelsea. Not because I think Barcelona will be the easier game, but because it is the European Champions league and it's a chance for the best teams from different countries to play against each other. We play Chelsea every year in the league so meeting them is nothing special.

Besides, should the worst happen, losing to another English team would be much harder to take than a European super power with a rich history.

The final is May 27th.

When in Rome

Last night Manchester United beat Arsenal 3-1 in the Champions League Semi-final second leg to clinch their place in the final for the second year running.

This is a big deal. The club have won the competition only three times in their history, 1968, 1999 & 2008. A 4th title would be amazing but just getting to the final is a big thing simply because of the rarity of such an event (the last two years excepted).

Leading 1-0 from the first leg, I hoped United would attack straight from the kick off knowing that an early goal would mean Arsenal had to score 3 to progress. Getting 2 goals in the first 11 minutes was way beyond expectations and the game was virtually over with Arsenal needing to score 4 against one of the meanest defences in the world.

The other semi final is currently in progress with Chelsea meeting Barcelona so we'll have to wait a little while longer to see who we'll meet with a repeat of last year's final a possibility.

My main concern with the final being held in Rome is more to do with events off the field. The reputation of Italian football fans is well deserved. Recent visits by both Manchester United and Arsenal have resulted in English fans being attacked and stabbed by Roma's 'Ultra's'.

The Champions league final, especially if it's between two English teams will certainly be an attraction for the less savoury residents of Roma and when added to the reputations of English football fans, there's a strong possibility of trouble.

Uefa have long claimed to clamp down on crowd trouble but the small fines handed out to Italian clubs shows that it is not as high on their agenda as it should be and rewarding a city with such a recent history of trouble, the Champions league final, they are only seen to be rewarding their behaviour rather than demanding an end to the trouble.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Middlesbrough Away

A good solid 2-0 win for United today. They played well and Middlesbrough never really threatened.

A couple of players were rested ready for the Champions League 2nd leg with Arsenal on Tuesday but the squad is good enough that any replacements can do a good job.

Ryan Giggs scored the first goal in his 801st game for United just a week after becoming the PFA Player of the Year. Giggs was a surprise winner of the award but looking back over his career, there's clearly a case that he sould have won it way before now.

I remember when Giggs made his debut back in 1991. He was 17 years old. Now, aged 34 he's still going strong despite having won everything there is to win (many times) and he's done it all playing for the same team which is especially rare these days.

The second goal of the day was scored by Park after a great ball from Rooney to put United 6 points clear of Liverpool having now played the same games and with just 4 remaining.

It's certainly not all over yet but it's looking good.