What. A. Match.

Liverpool surely don’t do it easy or straightforward. They had to have us going from one emotion to the extreme opposite end. Last night’s match vs Norwich is one for the books. What a rollercoaster ride. Adam Lallana, you are my hero.

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Arundhati Roy on Great Stories

“…the secret of the Great Stories is that they have no secrets. The Great Stories are the ones you have heard and want to hear again. The ones you can enter anywhere and inhabit comfortably. They don’t deceive you with thrills and trick endings. They don’t surprise you with the unforeseen. They are as familiar as the house you live in. Or the smell of your lover’s skin. You know how they end, yet you listen as though you don’t. In the way that although you know that one day you will die, you live as though you won’t. In the Great Stories you know who lives, who dies, who finds love, who doesn’t. And yet you want to know again.

That is their mystery and their magic.”

Why Things Burn

My fire-eating career came to an end
when I could no longer tell
when to spit and when

to swallow.
Last night in Amsterdam,
1,000 tulips burned to death.

I have an alibi. When I walked by
your garden, your hand
grenades were in bloom.

You caught me playing
loves me, loves me
not, metal pins between my teeth.

I forget the difference
between seduction
and arson,

ignition and cognition. I am a girl
with incendiary
vices and you have a filthy never

mind. If you say no, twice,
it’s a four-letter word.
You are so dirty, people have planted

flowers on you: heliotropes. sun-
flowers. You’ll take
anything. Loves me,

loves me not.
I want to bend you over
and whisper: ‘potting soil, ‘ ‘fresh

cut.’ When you made
the urgent fists of peonies
a proposition, I stole a pair of botanists’

hands. Green. Confident. All thumbs.
I look sharp in garden
shears and it rained spring

all night.1,000 tulips
burned to death
in Amsterdam.

We didn’t hear the sirens.
All night, you held my alibis
so softly, like taboos

already broken.

Daphne Gottlieb

WCQ: Philippines 2 – 1 Bahrain

There are times when I am reminded that supporting the Azkals qualifies as love—when it’s not about sitting through a game of long balls or putting up with the drama of men, it has got to be trekking to Bulacan.

This is perhaps a South kid complaint. After all, there’s nothing as exciting as the prospect of passing through the arterial shithole that is EDSA and having your too smart of a car alert you multiple times that the transmission is close to overheating as you literally inch your way up north.

But really, once you get past the NLEX Toll Gates of Hell (where nobody seems to have a concept of what a straight line is), the drive to the Philippine Sports Stadium (PSS) is smooth and fast. Amid a starless night sky, the PSS and the adjacent Philippine Arena are sights to behold.

After parking in a slightly muddy vacant lot, my friend Ron and I made the long walk to the stadium, arriving just in time to hear the starting lineups being announced.

Entering the PSS, one would obviously think it’s… clean. It’s shiny and new. Still, it’s nowhere near intimidating when only about a quarter of the stadium is filled with people—obviously the ones who love the Azkals in equal measure or more than we do.

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By the time eight o’clock rolled around, the players made it to the pitch, and despite whatever pronouncements about being “the strongest Azkals lineup yet”, there’s good reason to be fairly concerned. You’ve got a handful of highly touted names joining the squad for the first time—and who knows how that will pan out. Moreover, the guys have been together for barely two weeks in training. Add to that the last-minute suspense of whether or not certain players will be cleared to play.

And I never thought I would see the day when the Azkals play a 3-5-2 formation. Risky, but it just might pay off against a quicker Bahraini squad.

The first half saw barely any chances for the Azkals and a couple of nervy moments for the defense. Prodigal Azkal Stephan Schröck picked up an injury and had to be taken out in the 22nd minute. Coming into halftime with a 0-0 scoreline was definitely a good sign.

The second half was quite a different story though, with goals by Misagh Bahadoran (his first international goal—would you believe it? My favorite ball hog and dribble boy finally got his own breakthrough after all these years!) and Javier Patiño (another Prodigal Azkal whose goal-scoring exploits in Thailand and China have finally benefited the Philippines!).

Cue the wild cheers—there must have been five different cheer groups at PSS that night, from the Ultras on one end to the familiar beats of the UP Pep Squad on the other. Please, let’s just not have Mexican waves when the stadium is not even half full.

Cue as well the Diving Divas of Bahrain. If you can’t beat them on goals, beat them on the acting department.

That being said, I thought that who made the most difference was Phil Younghusband. If memory serves me right, there have been experiments in the past in club football where he plays a deeper attacking midfield role, and I thought he has been more effective as that, as opposed to being the sole target man up front (seriously, nobody in the Azkal line-up, save for Schröcky, comes close to being as quick as the Middle Eastern teams).

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The only slight spoiler to the party was Bahrain scoring a goal in stoppage time. We should have shut them out—after all, we’ll need all the advantages we could get in a tough World Cup Qualifying Group.

And while we’re at it, someone please tell the DOTC to put up a rail express to connect PSS with Metro Manila. Someone, anyone please take a cue from how most of the world do their stadia.

Oh Captain, My Captain

tumblr_nogj90ACFc1tjid03o1_540This has got to be one of the hardest goodbyes in football. That 3-1 loss to Crystal Palace is Steven Gerrard’s last match at Anfield, after some 17 years and 10 trophies amassed. He is the heart and soul of Liverpool, and his departure will leave a gaping hole in central midfield. Thanks for the memories, Stevie. You are my hero.