Chapter Fourteen: The Twins Drop Mentos In Diet Coke (With Video), How The Internet Sucks, The Outstanding Efforts Of Darren Todd and Jamie Carragher’s Strange Critique Of Alan Shearer
In this entry, I share a video we made with the kids where they dropped Mentos in Diet Coke. I then talk about the frustration of the modern internet, before highlighting a friend who has gone above and beyond this last year, then finishing by dismantling Carragher's argument that Aguero is better than Shearer.
We start this entry with a video that’s full of fun! When the twins finished school for Easter yesterday, we got them home and asked them what they wanted to do to celebrate. At first, the lass said she wanted to have a girly night with her Mam, but when the boy said he wanted to drop some Mentos in Diet Coke and set off explosions everywhere, his sister quickly changed her mind! After a first attempt using cheap cola that ended up a damp squib, I went and got some proper Diet Coke and we had a second attempt that went much better! I then spent all night editing the video to something they could enjoy forever and I’m really pleased with how it’s turned out. It’s my first time using DaVinci Resolve, which is a great video editing programme that’s completely free to download. If you do any sort of video editing, I’d highly recommend it.
This video is a little basic, because I’m still learning how to use DaVinci Resolve, but the end result is full of laughter, joy and chaos! I wish I’d tidied the garden up a bit and shaved my head first, but it was a spontaneous decision to make the video and there just wasn’t time. Here it is anyway! We all hope you enjoy it.
Part of what took so long to edit the video was, after uploading it to YouTube the first time, it was blocked from being visible because it uses eighteen seconds of Shoot To Thrill by AC/DC. I managed to work around it by using Halestorm’s cover of the song instead of the original version, which is fine by me because Halestorm are quality, but it really soured me on AC/DC as a band in general. Like, how petty do you have to be to block people’s videos that about twenty people will see because they use snippets of a song, especially when you’re a world-famous band like AC/DC, who have sold over 200 million albums? People will make an argument about copyright and intellectual property, but I just think it’s pathetic, especially when they can claim any revenue from the video anyway - of which there will be none and I’m not even interested in.
It really speaks to a wider issue of how the internet, in general, has declined in quality over the years. YouTube used to be about making videos to make people smile, tell stories, share your unknown band’s music and stuff like that. Creativity was encouraged and it wasn’t about the money, because there was no money in it anyway. Then, much like every other website where anyone can contribute, it became about maximising profits instead of fostering freedom. As soon as people learned how to monetise videos and YouTube became ubiquitous, the website went down the pan. Now, you can’t just make a video for fun to the best quality possible, because someone, somewhere, will be trying to claim the 0.0011 pence you make per view and, if you’re a really big band like AC/DC, they’ll block you doing it at all. Also, you can’t just watch a video on YouTube anymore, no. You have to watch or skip endless ads – one of which, recently, was one hour and fifty-two minutes for me – and then there’s more ads during the video, even if it’s a music video. It’s all designed to get you so pissed off you sign up to a subscription, because, let’s face it, very few people use other video-sharing sites, and it’s completely killing the usability of the website. When it was a young, up-and-coming website, YouTube was revolutionary. Then, it sold its soul to the corporate dollar, and any sort of freedom or fun was hit with so many restrictions, and you’re left pining for the good ol’ days when it was about the creativity, not the commodity.
So many other websites have ruined themselves through greed. Facebook used to be a place to connect with people, to share your news – good and bad – with people who cared and to have conversations and debates that furthered your knowledge. Now, nobody shares proper statuses, very few people share their thoughts or opinions, the same few jokes are done to death, there’s far too many prejudiced posts, conspiracy bots have turned too many people into absolute morons who think they’re free-thinkers and every third post is a bloody advert. Twitter, rather than being about encouraging people’s creativity, supporting each other and sharing jokes, has devolved into the snarkzone, where people amplify the worst kind of people for the sake of a few hearts, normally by being as miserable as possible. That, of course, is if you can avoid taking it seriously; if you fall into the trap of trying to follow the news, all you get is people competing to share more and more polarised opinions because extreme gets engagement, and then all nuance is lost. Instagram doesn’t seem as bad for those issues, bar the whole every-third-post-is-an-advert issue, but it’s just a matter of time. Then you have shopping websites like Amazon, which are becoming completely unusable because whenever you search for something, your search results are filled with hundreds of cheap Chinese knock-off goods and a load of utter rubbish that has little relevance to what you searched for, as well as a load of sponsored products that you don’t wish to see. All of this websites have sacrificed quality for greed, and I can’t remember the last time I used any of them and came away feeling better than before I opened the app.
As a fan of alternative music, it’s a pattern I’ve seen so many times growing up. A band breaks through playing exciting, unique music and taking chances, then they sign to a major label and everything exciting and interesting about them is stripped away so they can be mass-marketed to maximise monetary gains. You can understand why people do it, but it’s always such a shame, and if you talk about how much better they used to be you’re dismissed as curmudgeonly. Those that know, though, know you’re right. It’s the same with these websites. Creation and innovation only until you can maximise revenue generation, then whore yourself to mass-marketing and manipulation. It always happens, and it always sucks, and with the financial muscle and monopoly power of these websites, you just can’t see how alternatives that empower and engender innovation will be able to rise to any level of prominence. It doesn’t have to be this way, and it’s such a shame that it is.
Someone that deserves an awful lot of credit this week is a friend of mine named Darren Todd. I’ve known Toddy a long time, since school, and have an awful lot to thank him for. It was Toddy that got me work at Blues Nightclub way back in the day, a job that introduced me to Dinga and Jeeves, two of the very best friends I’ve ever had, the only two non-family members that visited me when I was in hospital with my mental illness, and without whom I’d no longer still be here. Those two lads changed and saved my life as much as anyone, and every so often I think about how it would never have happened without the happenstance of bumping into Toddy walking home and him getting me that job.
When the pandemic started, him and Andrew Kaye, both of Chestnut House shop in Pooley Bridge, went out of their way to ensure people locked-down were able to get basic provisions, delivering all over the county to ensure people were able to get food at a time when it was becoming almost-impossible to get a food delivery from anywhere. Not content with that, Toddy decided he wanted to embark on a very difficult personal challenge in order to raise money for the Great North Air Ambulance service. To do this, he was sponsored to run at least a mile every single day in March, whatever the weather conditions. Some people might think this isn’t much of a challenge, but Toddy is a big lad, and this was really going to push him – especially in addition to his responsibilities with Chestnut House. I’ll be honest, I didn’t know if he could do it, especially when the weather turned horrid.
Throughout March, it was an absolute delight to see Toddy prove all the doubters wrong, by getting out there and running every day – even during the mid-month storm. He ultimately ran 57 miles and lost two stone in weight, and he ended up smashing his initial target of £200 and raising a total of £2,700-plus, enough to cover the operating costs of a life-saving helicopter mission. This really was a fantastic effort, and Toddy deserves so much credit. Christopher Reeve once said, ‘I think a hero is an ordinary individual who finds strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles,’ and Darren Todd has demonstrated that philosophy over this last month and year. Well done, chief.
His donation page is still open, and he is more than worthy of them. If you wish to add to his outstanding efforts, you can do so by clicking HERE.
Finally, I read Jamie Carragher’s column this morning about who he thinks are the best strikers in Premier League history, and I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I don’t know if it’s recency bias, or if he’s trying to drive up Sky viewing figures for his last few matches in a Manchester City shirt, but Carragher made the claim that Sergio Aguero was a better striker than Alan Shearer, and that he was so because he won more trophies.
This is an argument that just makes no sense. Football is a team game. However people try to paint a narrative, no single player wins trophies by himself – not Maradona in 1986, Messi during Barcelona’s recent years, Vardy in 2016 or a whole host of other outstanding individuals. Without the right team to maximise that individual’s talents, success just doesn’t follow, which is why Johan Cruyff never won an international tournament, why George Best never played at a World Cup and why Lionel Messi has never won a World Cup. Sergio Aguero won more league titles than Alan Shearer because he played for the best team in the country for the best part of a decade, whereas Shearer remained loyal to a club that were mid-table for half of his tenure. Despite having played in a far superior team, Aguero has gotten nowhere near Shearer’s goal record. If you argue Shearer has had more seasons, then look at Shearer’s record over the same period of his Premier League career as Aguero’s from when he joined Manchester City at 23. In the ten years he has been at Manchester City since he was 23, Aguero has 181 goals, he has broken twenty goals six times, he never broke thirty goals and he won the Golden Boot once. In the ten years from Shearer turning 23, 1993/94 to 2002/03, Shearer scored 205 goals, breaking twenty goals six times and thirty goals three consecutive years, winning three golden boots – a record even more impressive when you remember that he suffered a career-threatening injury during that time which resulted in 1997/98 producing just two league goals. If you replaced that with his 22-goal 2003/04 season, when he was 33 years old – a year older than Aguero is now – his numbers become staggering. At Manchester City, Aguero has finished in the top two eight of his ten seasons, with one third-place finish and one fourth. During Shearer’s era, Newcastle finished in the top four just three times, with five bottom-half finishes. This serves to highlight the quality Aguero was supported by, and the dross Shearer found himself carrying, and actually enhances Shearer’s claim as the greater individual player.
Using a comparison of how many league titles their clubs won as a method of individual performance just makes no sense. Ask yourself this – If Newcastle had a decade of Aguero instead of Shearer, would they have won the league? The answer is no. If Manchester City had Alan Shearer instead of Sergio Aguero this last decade, would they have won more? The answer, whether Manchester City fans, Jamie Carragher and Sky want to admit it, is yes.
Alan Shearer was, is, and continues to be the greatest centre-forward in Premier League history, with only Thierry Henry staking a credible claim to the title. Aguero was excellent – I have him fourth on my list of greatest Premier League strikers – but saying he is better than Shearer just doesn’t hold up to the facts.
One thing I will give credit to Carragher for is for including in his list the striker who is third on mine – Andy Cole. So often overlooked in the pantheon of Premier League creates, Cole deserves far more credit than he gets, and it was nice to see him get some recognition. That being said, Carragher underrated him, even by the parameters he himself set. If he thinks Aguero outranks Shearer because of trophies, then Andy Cole, with 187 goals to Aguero’s 181, five titles in six years, and also a Champion’s League title of which he scored the crucial winning goal in the epic semi-final against Juventus, outranks Aguero. Even though Carragher only ranked him seventh – bizarrely, behind Mohamed Salah, who isn’t even a striker – it was nice to see Goal King Cole, still one of only two Premier League players to score 40-plus goals in a season and someone who never took a single penalty, get some of the credit he deserves.
Interestingly, by his parameters of trophies and crucial goals being such determining factors, Frank Lampard – with 57 more Premier League goals, ten more Premier League assists, three Premier League titles to nil, four FA Cups to two, two Community Shields to one and an equal haul in Europe - outranks Steven Gerrard as an attacking midfielder, unless you think a UEFA Super Cup and an extra League Cup outweighs three league titles and two FA Cups. In championing Aguero over Shearer, Carragher inadvertently champions Lampard over Gerrard. I bet Carragher would never write that column though!
I hope you all have a wonderful Easter. Thank you for your ongoing support, and feel free to add your opinions in the comments section or the replies.
Song of the Chapter:
‘I Miss The Misery’
Quote of the Chapter:
“Whereas literalists and fundamentalists tend to choose one pole of any dilemma or opposition, whereas modern political parties and religious groups tend towards demonizing each other, the creative individual must be born again and again in the crucible created by the tension between opposing instincts, conflicted feelings, and contrasting ideas.”