Good Luck Lebanon!

Update: For those asking how to watch the game online, you can use the LBC live stream link. Or this link in case LBC’s bandwidth dies.

Lebanon is playing the UAE today in a very crucial game on its way to qualify to the 2014 World Cup, to be held in Brazil.

After a surprising and very exciting win against South Korea last November, Lebanese football has gained great momentum with people and officials. You only need to look at any Lebanese’s Facebook timeline to see how enthusiastic everyone is about this game.

Lebanon needs to draw or win against UAE to advance to the next and final round where we’ll have to play eight extra games over the course of 2012 and 2013 in order to qualify. For a full analysis regarding the situation, check out this link.

As it stands, the ranking of all four teams in group B is as follows:

Wikipedia has everything

Even if we lose and Kuwait doesn’t win, we’d still advance. I’m not sure if we have an upper hand in any of our games. Don’t call me unpatriotic but I don’t want to be foolishly optimistic.

Either way, the Lebanese national football team has proven itself to be the little team that could. Hopefully its recent streak of victories will get sponsors to notice it more and start to splurge in giving it the proper equipment and training it needs to shine more than it is currently doing.

Good luck Lebanon. Let’s kick some Emirati as*!


Samsung Street Challenge: Galaxy Note vs iPhone – Big Failure!

It looks like Samsung isn’t bored of taking on Apple’s users with its ads. The latest is a street challenge where they got an iPhone user with a Galaxy Note user and asked them to perform three different tasks with the phone.

Needless to say, the Galaxy Note performed all three. The iPhone? None.

Let’s get a few things straight.

1) There’s a simple app to crop someone’s face on the iPhone.

2) The maps app actually allows you to draw trajectories. It’ even automated. You don’t have to hold a stylus to draw a road.

3) Keynote, anyone?

The only thing this “ad” does is expose the iPhone user as pretty much clueless. Not only does she have absolutely no freaking idea what to do with her phone, I don’t think she should be owning a smartphone in the first place.

Either way, if your idea of an awesome phone is a brick against your ear, then fine by me. But these ads that insult a viewer’s intelligence need to stop. Oh and did Samsung forgot to get the memo that styluses are not “in” anymore with modern day technology?

Russel Peters Coming to Lebanon in March

Famous Indo-Canadian comedian Russel Peters is coming to Lebanon again on March 24th for a standup comedy event at Platea Hall.

Ticket prices range from $100 to $40 (pretty acceptable if you ask me) and can be bought from Virgin Ticketing Box Office online or at their stores.

This wouldn’t be the first time Peters visited Lebanon. In fact, Lebanese people and our partying has been a fixture in his shows. I’m actually excited about attending this. Are you?

Let’s hope he doesn’t end up having some 13th degree ties with Israel and that we actually get to enjoy his show without unnecessary drama.

The Hunger Games (Book Review) – Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games is the first book in The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. It is already a top seller and will soon be released as a motion picture, being one of 2012′s most anticipated releases.

The Hunger Games takes place in the nation of Panem, in a post-apocalyptic United States. The state is divided into twelve districts, each of which is specialized in a trade, all centered around the Capitol. Each year, the Capitol holds The Hunger Games, an event to remind all twelve districts of their submission to the power of the Capitol. Why? A few years prior, there were thirteen districts with District 13 starting an uprising against the Capitol. The revolution failed and District 13 was eradicated and so arose The Hunger Games, whose is quite simple: a boy and a girl between the ages of 12 and 18 are selected as tributes through a lottery to represent their respective district in The Hunger Games. The  total of 24 candidates will then battle each other to the death, as all 12 districts are forced to watch their sons and daughters getting killed and killing. The winner gets a life of ease, which in the harsh world of Panem is almost tempting enough to enter the games. Some districts actually train their youngsters for the games.

Katniss Everdeen and Gale Hawthorn are best friends from District 12. They also have their names in the lottery more than once as a way to get food to their hungry families. Their chances for getting selected are rather high. But both their names are not drawn. Instead, Katniss’ sister, Primrose, is selected – with her name being in the lottery once. In a burst of courage, Katniss volunteers to take her sister’s place. Gale is also not selected and instead Peeta Mellark is chosen as the male representative of District 12. Together, Katniss and Peeta are taken to the Capitol where they will try their best to build an image that will help them while inside the games, not knowing that there’s way more going on behind the scenes than they know and that the slightest “wrong” move on their part will cost them dearly.

The Hunger Games is probably one of the most riveting books you might read. The action goes on at breakneck pace, not leaving any dull moment for you to take in what has passed or think about what might happen. You cannot let the book down before finishing it. I had to learn this the hard way with a major exam coming up and finding myself reading this book instead of my anatomy textbook.

Don’t let the fast pace undermine the book’s value, however. The book is perfectly paced. It doesn’t linger on sequences more than it should and, seeing as it’s a book about life and death, it doesn’t dwell on details that are irrelevant to the ultimate goal of its characters: survival. The text may become violent at points, but it remains hypnotizing and chilling.

Simply put,  it is one of those books, which are immensely suspenseful, that will get glued to the palm of your hand and refuse to let go until you turn the last page, only finding out that the story has not been fully resolved and you’ll have to read the second book, Catching Fire, to know what happens next. And before you know it, you have that book in your hands and you’re at it again. The Hunger Games takes you aboard its cycle and doesn’t let you go. Even the love triangle, which the author tries to set up, becomes irrelevant to you as a reader with everything else going on in the book.

At the end of the day, The Hunger Games, despite being totally rooted in fiction, has strands of real-life intertwined in it. There’s humor, there’s treason, there’s death, there’s love, there’s life, there’s loss, there’s pain. All in a couple hundred pages. A must-read, definitely.

9/10

The Battle of Homs: A Video from inside the Syrian Revolution

A French photojournalist named Mani was brave enough to take footage from inside the battles currently taking place in the Syrian city of Homs, called by many as the capitol of the revolution.

The video features scenes from gunfights, funerals, wounded & dead people…. It is possibly the first time such a report has been made of what’s going on inside Syria with almost every other footage from inside the city was being transmitted via mobile phones.

You might want to check out an earlier post as well: What Is Going On In Syria?

For now, I leave you with the video:

Thanks Beirutspring for the tip.

2012 Oscars Predictions: Who Will Win & Who Should Win

With the Oscars only a day away, and even though I won’t be tuning in, I figured I’d throw away some predictions just for the fun of it.

Best Picture:

Who will win: The Artist (my review)

Who should win: The Help (my review)

The Artist is more “artistic” perhaps, with it being a silent movie and all. But The Help is just so much more. The Help is a movie with a very deep and real story and it makes the book upon which it was based even better. The acting in both movies is phenomenal but The Help, as an ensemble, rises above The Artist. It ultimately goes down to this: if your preference is for out of the box movies, and by out of the box in this case we mean going retro, then you will go with The Artist. If your preference is for movies that will tug on your heartstrings and leave you, at their end, reflective on your life, then go with The Help. Which one has the momentum? The Artist. Which movie is the most prone to upset The Artist? The Help.

Best Actor:

Who will win: Jean Dujardin

Who should win: Jean Dujardin

I think with the momentum The Artist is garnering across award shows, and with his recent wins, Jean Dujardin should have enough momentum to snag his first Oscar. And quite frankly, the only thing working against him here is that Academy voters may be wary of voting for someone they’re not familiar with. But he was able to get audiences to connect with his character without uttering a single word. And that, by itself, is an achievment when compared with his fellow nominees.

Best Actress:

Who will win: Viola Davis

Who should win: Rooney Mara

Rooney Mara, in her chilling portrayal of Lisbeth Salander, has my vote for best actress. She wore her character like a glove and Lisbeth is definitely a much more difficult character to wear than say Aibeleen or even Margaret Thatcher. But Rooney Mara’s chances are next to zero. It’s all between Viola Davis and Meryl Streep. I think Academy voters take Meryl Streep for granted, that’s why Davis will have an oh-so-tiny edge over Streep and snag her first Oscar. Streep will be satisfied with breaking yet another of her records for most Oscar nominations.

Best Director:

Who will win: Michel Hazanavicius 

Who should win: Michel Hazanavicius 

To make a successful silent movie in 2012 is commendable. Michel Hazanavicius pulls it off. This puts him way above his fellow nominees who are only there before of their name, not because of the quality of their movies. Yes, I’m looking at you Terrence Malick and Alexandre Payne.

Best Supporting Actor:

Who will win: Christopher Plummer 

Who should win: Christopher Plummer

He has the momentum. His performance in the Beginners as a gay father who comes out late in life only to be diagnosed with terminal lung cancer after is quite chilling. And at 82, it’s high time he get his Oscar.

Best Supporting Actress:

Who will win: Octavia Spencer

Who should win: Octavia Spencer

As much as I want Jessica Chastain to take this, for The Help, I can’t but be delusional in wanting so. Octavia Spencer has almost had a flaw-free award season with her portrayal of Minnie and the Oscars will be her night. Regardless, I’d be more than happy with either of the women from The Help taking this. Berenice Bejo might be in for an upset though, depending on how big of a sweep The Artist is preparing. Either way, all three of them deserve it.

Best Animated Feature:

Who will win: Rango

Who should win: Puss in Boots

*cat in the background saying ouuu* – enough said, right? Puss in Boots is entertaining, funny and charming. Rango appeals to Oscar voters more with its more serious tone. You know where their votes are going.

Best Foreign Movie:

Who will win: A Separation (my review)

Who should win: A Separation

A Separation is an absolutely captivating tale of two Iranian families and how their lives intertwined due to some incidences all the backdrop of modern day Tehran. The screenplay is very well written, as is obvious by it being nominated for an Oscar as well. A Separation has also won every major award for foreign movies this year. Asghar Abbasi’s movie has this in the bag.

Other categories: 

Visual Effects: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 (my review)

Original Score: The Artist

Makeup: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2

Cinematography: War Horse (my review)

Art Direction: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2

Costume Design: The Artist

Film Editing: The Artist

Sound Editing: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (my review)

Sound Mixing: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Adapted Screenplay: Moneyball (my review)

Original Screenplay: Midnight in Paris (my review)

5 Reasons Why I Won’t Be Watching The Oscars This Year

As I’ve made it widely known already, I will not be overnighting to watch the Academy Awards this year for several reasons, the main ones being:

1) I do not care about any of the nominees in best picture. Meaning, I don’t give a rat’s a*s if The Help wins best picture or The Artist or The Descendants or Moneyball or any of the other nominees. Why? Because, despite some of them being good movies (The Descendants is atrocious and I couldn’t go through Tree of Life), they are simply nominated because academy members are a bunch of elitist snobs who couldn’t take a risk. The Artist is getting hype because it’s the first silent movie to be made in a long time (if it weren’t silent, it would have crashed and died), The Help is making the rounds because of its brilliant cast and captivating story. I have no idea why Tree of Life and The Descendants are nominated, to be honest, apart from the names associated with them.
Is it worth it to watch an award show from 3 AM to 6 AM when you don’t care about their top honors? Nope.

2) I do not care who wins best actor. Jean Dujardin, Brad Pitt or George Clooney. None of them have given me a performance this year that I feel is truly captivating enough for me to root for them beyond measure. Last year, James Franco delivered a tour-de-force one man show in 127 Hours that should have gotten him an Oscar. I had him to support. While I do have my preference, I still wouldn’t care if it goes either way, which means yet another reason as to why I wouldn’t want to tire myself by staying up all night for nothing.

3) Viola Davis or Meryl Streep? The million dollar question, as they say, for this year’s awards rounds. And yet, I don’t feel invested in any of them. Viola Davis was great in The Help. I have yet to watch Meryl Streep’s movie but everyone’s saying it’s a one-woman show, which is almost always the case whenever she’s present – regardless of how strong her supporting cast is. However, I haven’t been exposed to that one performance which absolutely blew me away, like I was with Jennifer Lawrence’s Winter’s Bone last year. If you haven’t watched that movie, you absolutely must. So as you see, with another one of the major awards becoming irrelevant to me, this turns up yet another reason not to watch.

4) Best director? Let’s pretend we understand all the technicalities that come with this. And let’s also pretend that Terrence Malick is not there because of his name and because academy voters usually worship at his altar. Let’s also pretend that Martin Scorsese’s Hugo deserves eleven nominations, including one for best director and let’s also pretend that Alexandre Payne is nominated because The Descendants is actually a good movie, which it most definitely is not, and not because he’s been away for seven years. And while you try to pronounce the name of Michel Hazanavicius, you’re left with him as the only one person who deserves it. However, I feel no investment in whether he actually wins or not. I really couldn’t care either way. I was invested in this last year because I was furious Christopher Nolan didn’t get a nomination. This year, not so much.

5) I tried to come up with a fifth reason and there’s no better reason than the fact that I didn’t bother with closing any of the major categories like I did last year. I haven’t finished watching all the acting performances. I still need to watch one of the Best Picture movies (Tree of Life doesn’t count). The one I still need to watch, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, has an aggregate score of 46% on Rotten Tomatoes and received mixed to negative reviews at best. The reason it was nominated? Probably its theme of 9/11 drama. Simply, there’s nothing about the Oscars this year that screams excitement. There are no breakthrough performances, no surprise nominations. The Oscars this year are a mess of safe choices that will go well with the history of the Academy and, in the long run, become forgotten as movies of the “it” moment that fail to garner considerable traction with the people.

 

Good Girl (Single Review) – Carrie Underwood

It’s been a year since Carrie Underwood had a solo single on country radio, her last one being Mama’s Song, which peaked at #2 on the country charts.

Taking her time with the preparations for her upcoming album, set for a May 1st release date, Carrie Underwood has been building the momentum for both her lead single, Good Girl, and her album. The anticipation for the lead single has reached stratospheric proportions among country audiences, especially following an Amazon clip and a teaser that Carrie posted on YouTube.

And now Good Girl is here. Was the long wait for new Carrie music worth the wait? I guess you’ll have to read the remainder of this review to find out. Who am I kidding? Good Girl is way better than I thought Carrie’s lead single would be. Add to that my already very high expectations and the scenario becomes: this is a knockout blow delivered by Mrs. Underwood (or is it Underwood-Fisher now?).

The song opens with a killer guitar riff to a backdrop of drums and hand-clap percussion to which Carrie starts: “Hey good girl with your head in the clouds. I bet you I can tell you what you’re thinking about. You’ll see a good boy, gonna give you the world. But he’s gonna leave you crying with your heart in the dirt….” Then she takes it up a notch vocally to growl the rest of the first verse: “His lips are dropping honey. But he’ll sting you like a bee. So lock up all your lovin’, go and throw away the key. Hey good girl, get out when you can I know you think you got a good man…”

And then she starts signing the chorus, which has a very different melody, creating a hook in itself in the transition between verse and chorus: “Why, why you gotta be so blind? Won’t you open your eyes? It’s just a matter of time till you find he’s no good, girl. No good for you. You better to getting on your goodbye shoes and go, go, go. You better listen to me he’s low, low, low….” It doesn’t hurt that Carrie kills the rocking chorus vocally as well. Starting with heavy tempo, it turns to simply Carrie’s voice to a backdrop of drums as she sings “he’s no good, girl, no good for you.”

The tempo then picks up again for the second verse: “Hey good girl, you got a heart of gold. You want a white wedding and a hand you can hold just like you should girl, like every good girl does. Want a fairytale ending, somebody to love.” Then she takes it up a notch again for the second part of the verse – all with a killing line to end it: “But he’s really good at lying girl, yeah, he’ll leave you in the dust cause when he says forever, well, it don’t mean much. Hey good girl, so good for him, better back away honey, you don’t know where he’s been.”

Carrie then repeats the chorus before going into a pure rock bridge that will leave you absolutely stunned. “He’s no good, girl. Why can’t you see? He’ll take your heart and break it. Listen to me, yeah…

The bridge starts with a shout and ends with a falsetto. Enough said, right? I was hoping for a bigger chorus, but this one delivers just right.

The song then ends with another version of the chorus which ends with Carrie singing “he’s no good girl, no good for you. You better get to getting on your goodbye shoes” acapella – nothing to back her up on it. And the song ends.

Perhaps the correct title for the song should have been “Damn Girl” because Carrie Underwood is back and she’s not messing around with anyone. From the second the song opens, you know this isn’t like anything Carrie has given her audience before. The fact that this is probably the best she has sounded on a recorded track only helps to elevate Good Girl from the hit that it is to a truly amazing song. It’s absolutely brilliant to see such vocal versatility with Underwood. She can literally sing the phonebook (or one of my medicine books) and get you absolutely interested in what she’s singing. Her vocal ability translates onto Good Girl and then some more. And on Good Girl, she sings with the song’s production, not on top of it.

The song is also different structurally from what Carrie Underwood’s fans are used to. There’s no three-verse storyline. There are no lyrics which can be considered sappy. It’s all in your face. Who would have thought a Carrie Underwood song would contain the line: “Better back away honey, you don’t know where he’s been?” No one. And yet it feels so natural to have such strong lyrics in Good Girl. Why? Because the song demands it. And Carrie delivers.

The country-rock sound is also a very welcome change for Underwood. This is also the most rocking she has been in a song before, with the song still having much needed country elements. Her detractors will shout “she’s not country” at her new offering. But who cares when you’ve got such a song on your table? You simply don’t. You welcome it and you listen to it with a smile on your face because it’s just that awesome.

Carrie Underwood is back, ladies and gentlemen. And she’s here to reclaim that #1 spot at the top of the charts like a good girl does.

10/10

You can get Good Girl on iTunes here.

Listen to Good Girl:

Good Girl (Lyrics) – Carrie Underwood

These are the lyrics for Carrie Underwood’s brand new single: Good Girl!

For my review, click here.

[Verse 1:]

Hey good girl

With your head in the clouds

I bet you I can tell you what you’re thinking about

You’ll see a good boy

Gonna give you the world

But he’s gonna leave you crying 

with your heart in the dirt

His lips are dripping honey 

But he’ll sting you like a bee

So lock up all your lovin’

Go and throw away the key

Hey good girl

get out while you can

I know you think you got a good man

[Chorus]

Why, why you gotta be so blind?

Won’t you open your eyes?

It’s just a matter of time till you find

He’s no good, girl

No good for you

You better get to getting on your goodbye shoes and go, go, go

you better listen to me he’s low, low, low

[Verse 2:]

Hey good girl

you got a heart of gold

You want a white wedding and a hand you can hold

Just like you should, girl,

like every good girl does

Want a fairytale ending, somebody to love

But he’s really good at lying girl,

Yeah, he’ll leave you in the dust

Cause when he says forever

Well it don’t mean much

Hey good girl

So good for him

better back away honey

you don’t know where he’s been

[Chorus]

Why, why you gotta be so blind?

Won’t you open your eyes?

It’s just a matter of time till you find

He’s no good, girl

No good for you

You better get to getting on your goodbye shoes and go, go, go

Yeah yeah yeah, he’s low

yeah yeah yeah

[Bridge]

he’s no good, girl

Why can’t you see?

He’ll take your heart and break it

Listen to me, yeah…

[Outro]

Why, why you gotta be so blind?

Won’t you open your eyes?

It’s just a matter of time till you find

he’s no good, he’s no good

won’t you open up your eyes?

It’s just a matter of time till you find

he’s no good, girl

he’s no good for you

you better get to getting on your goodbye shoes