Archive for the ‘Games’ Category


About a year ago, maybe less, I declared that would post a soccer-related topic every month as a countdown celebration to South AFrica 2010.  I was more or less successful. Now that we are five days away from kickoff, I’m taking the liberty of cataloging all my posts that describe, complain about, ponder about, poke fun at, and otherwise show my love for this game – the only sport I care about.  The only sport that counts because it has a power the American triad of sports can’t fathom: the power to stop wars, the power to effect societal change, the power to equalize the playing field between the sexes. That is soccer.  Call it what you need to call it; it doesn’t matter. Just love it with all your heart. 





I’ve been especially fond of Russell from the get-go.  Wouldn’t harm a fly – but he might try to chat it up. Steady, Russell.



My little brother got me the “Big Book O’Soccer” for Christmas.  New computer dropped to second place.


A journalist embeds himself with a third-rate soccer team in a no-rate town.  Let the insanity begin!


THE GUARDIAN’S FIVER-isms: A Glossary for Glazey-Eyed

Sheer Unadulterated Stupidity | News | Football

Some of the best humor writing in any topic!

Love & Blood: At The World Cup with The Footballers, Fans, and Freaks/Jamie Trecker 2007

THE THINKING FAN’S GUIDE TO THE WORLD CUP (2006) Matt Weiland & Sean Wilsey, eds.

Books about soccer-playing societies by soccer-loving sociologists masquerading as sports journalists.

Germans: Unspontaneous, micromanaging weirdos or gleefully chaotic?

A Man and His Ball–No Greater Love Pt. 1

Talking about A Man & His Ball: No Greater Love Pt. 2

Me manipulating double-entendres like they are taffy.   Damn, I’m good.



These are mostly about shopping for books, but they have sections on soccer stuff.

Eur08 Without Pity

This one is an older post from the early days.  Most of the art is expired. Sorry about that. And it pretty much rehashes soccer posts up to that time.

The Fiver email header      





   Russell Brand – read the article on his site

   Or read the original here at NEWS OF THE WORLD with a lovely pic of Russell — NOTW

RB is a fantastic writer of humor.  The thing is…he’s not writing humor…he’s writing about football.  And football – England’s Barclay’s Premier League – is very funny.  Ordinarily, it’s a comedy of errors , but in the last months, with horny satyr John Terry cutting a swathe through Wayne Bridge’s woman, it’s become a “comedy of eros”! And Wayne Bridge has taken offense to that, as he showed when he blanked England’s Brave John Terry during the handshake ritual at Chelsea vs. ManCity in February.  Don’t even get me started on the managers!  And so, this blog post by Russell Brand is hilarious and hysterically funny and rendered doubly funny by being bang-on true.  I don’t know if he’s ever met Nick Hornby, but I would love to have them both over to dinner one night to talk about our London teams – Arsenal for Nick, West Ham for Russell, and Fulham for me.  It would be pure football love.  With none of the barbaric hooliganism of the ignorant.  You might know everything about your team from day one, but if ripping someone’s face off because they’re for Charlton and you’re for Millwall is just retarded.  If you want to fight, just fight.  You don’t need to blame soccer for it, you nonce.


I missed Gazza’s yellow card against Germany in 1990 because I was in the loo.

— That is so my life!  I miss everything because my kidneys run my life and not me!

I didn’t say for example “Keep Wayne Bridge’s ex missus well away from Stamford Bridge”

–This one’s the money-shot, so to speak.  My kidneys really expressed their pleasure over this line. 

In history few men with great hair have been decent fighters and Mancini’s glorious silver summit looks like it could manage City without him and still find time to pick up chicks on it’s Vespa at the Trevi fountain. David Moyes on the other hand, comports himself as if he’s always on the precipice of nutting someone.

— I counted six in-joke wisecracks in this one sentence.  EPIC!  “Nutting”, by the way, means kicking someone in the …yeah, those. 

I for one hope that Wayne Bridge changes his mind and joins the squad. The World Cup is once every four years, during that cycle a half-decent Premiership player could go through nine marriages.

— OMG!  This is one of the truest statements ever uttered about sports ever! 

Wenger with his intellectual continental airs and graces (by which I mean glasses)

— That is so me!! I write sarcastic remarks like that! This is so exciting!

  1. Wayne Bridge refuses John Terry handshake
  2. Cold, Sweet Revenge:  Chelsea 2 Manchester City 4: match report



Product Details  ROIT!  GE’IT, YEAH! IT’S WELL FUNNY.



The Soccer Book

WOW! I’m getting verklempt!  I just need a minute…here, I’ll give you a topic: the World Cup sponsors are going to make sure the refs make sure that Italy and Brazil get to the finals.  Discuss amongst yourself…

This was a present from my little brother S.  This is, what is known in the vernacular as, a "BIG-ASS BOOK".  So sayeth the title.  A thick, vinyl cover — like a college textbook.  400 pages of basics and insider knowledge.  Nice illustrations of the most popular faces in the sport.  Words of wisdom and also slightly less elegant utterings and mutterings from current and former managers. 

All the names that matter. 

There’s a chapter for everything: records, all the continental tournament winners, Ballon D’Or (p. 374) winners, etc.  The blurb at the back of the book is actually much better than this.

            • Visit planet soccer — all you need to know on the clubs, the fans, the rituals, the stats, and the results worldwide
            • Find out about the laws, the tactics, the science, and the art of the beautiful game…

I like how the bullets in the bullet list are little soccer balls.  Too bad I can’t do that here.  This Windows Live Writer program really needs to upgrade its graphics integration and offer more design choices.

Guess what I spent the morning doing after opening my presents.


Easily one of the best bits of the book, as I’m not a stats "anorak", is "Soccer Technologies".  THAT I’m interested in.  I don’t care who won the Under-21 Scottish Cup in 1894.  What IS interesting is this:


big soccer book0001  A microchip embedded in the soccer ball that sends out one hundred thousand (100,000) measurements per second, plus the framework of struts that keep it centered. PHWOAR! That’s fascinating to me.  iPods are even being used to scout games and give opposition instant access to strategies. 

In the gap between the end of extra time and the start of the penalty shootout at the end of the 2009 English League Cup final, Manchester Utd’s goalkeeper Ben Foster watched footage of his opponents taking penalties on a coach’s iPod.  It seemed to help…

P. 56.  Oh my God.  THE OFFICIALS. They picked the perfect example to illustrate this chapter: PIERLUIGI COLLINA! Yeah!!  He’s — again with the pimply, adolescent vernacular — da bomb!  He’s got a serious reputation for fairness and you just don’t f**k widdat.  It’s particularly interesting that officiating is a second job for a lot of these guys.

PP. 62-3.  THE RULES.  17 mostly immutable "Laws of The Game".  After reading each rule, I was all like, "yeah, but…", as in The ball must be touched by a second player before the first player can touch it again.  "Yeah, but…".  More reading fun.

PP. 67.  THE OFFSIDE RULE.  Pippo Inzaghi pointing at a set of diagrams.  7 of them and I still haven’t a clue what the point is. 

PP. 76-77.  Balls. All about balls. Different sizes, different colors, different textures.  Look it up yourself if you don’t believe me.

PP. 110-111.  P.E. Coach stuff — anatomy of a player, training, warming up.

There’s sections for individual skills such as running with the ball and shooting.  Quotes are sprinkled everywhere.  In addition to the technical information, there’s trivia about just everybody who’s anybody.  About the only thing this book lacks is coverage of women’s soccer.  But that’s probably another book.  Most of the anoraking stuff is at the back — all the records and tournament winners. 

If you know the soccer world, then pp. 94-5 should come as no surprise: (my hand to God, this is what’s on it) criminals, directors, gamblers, methods, and "people to influence".

soccer portraits 10001

L-R/Top Row: Michel Platini, Ronaldinho, Zinedine Zidane. 

L-R/Middle Row: George Best, {FIFA 1903–no clue, sorry.} Franz Beckenbauer?

L-R/Bottom Row: Paolo Maldini, Ronaldo, a Real Madrid player/not Ferenc Puskas.







soccer portraits 20001

L-R/Top Row: Ireland? Danny Blanchflower?, Johan Cruyf, Andrey Shevchenko.

L-R/Middle Row: Roy Keane, Samuel E’to?, Cristiano Ronaldo.

L-R/Bottom Row: Kenny Dalglish?, Lionel Messi, Pele.






**All of the players mentioned have their own websites or Wikipedia pages.

*My spelling might be a bit off on some of the names.



Support WORLD FOOTBALL DAILY the best podcast about soccer in the US!  Unleash your inner "Anorak"! (World Cup 2010 — South Africa) (European Champions League — the most important tournament after the World Cup)


**Thanks to Sandra and Jorge for helping me with stanza six.

The Miracle of Castel di Sangro: A Tale of Passion and Folly in the Heart of Italy

The Miracle of Castel di Sangro is a story about a low-level soccer team in a low-level town in a depressed part of Italy that enjoyed "15 minutes of fame".  I’m about 3/4 done with the book, but I’ve got a good inkling of what’s coming.  La Societa, Gravina, Rezza — all real people.  The book started out so happy and hopeful.  Now, in the middle, the honeymoon’s over.  The shine’s worn off.  The scum is rising to the surface.  So I’ve been angry and indignant and disgusted for about four chapters now.

I don’t know why I’m suddenly fixated on haiku, but such is the nature of creativity.  So, here’s my review of Joe McGinnis’s year of living dangerously! (Hey! That would make a great title for a movie…)◄

Amazon’s Joe McGinnis Page



McGinnis journeys

to Italy for soccer.

Same ol’ politics.


Alluring lira —

Mystery money all gone.

Gravina’s Rezza.


Wins, loses, bruises:

"Wizard of Oz" sounds from the

cell phone of Rezza.


Marcella — mother

Superior.  Vanessa —

not so much, that one.


Blind eyes, heavy hearts;

Their pitch a bed of barbed wire.

Forget "win" — SURVIVE!


One goal.  Two goals.  Three…

Theirs.  Not ours.  As usual.



Beautiful game — brings

out the worst in brothers, yet

makes brothers-in-arms.




THE THINKING FAN’S GUIDE TO THE WORLD CUP (2006) Matt Weiland & Sean Wilsey, eds.

Product Details

 IN my continuing series on soccer books that I am blogging to celebrate the countdown to South Africa 2010, I’m thrilled to present this compendium of the genre’s sincerely passionate advocates of "the beautiful game".  I first heard about this book on World Soccer Daily — a podcast hosted by Steven Cohen and Kenny Hassan.  They recommended it, and since I trust their judgement, there I go — type, type, typing —  to! I really liked the writing right away.  This is how I want my students to write someday: passionately, thoughtfully, reflectively, analytically.  It doesn’t matter what the topic is.  Love your topic and your readers will love your topic!

There’s a lot of buildup to the actual heart of the book.  First of all, the book is a compilation of professional writers writing about a particular country, ostensibly one they are intimate with for whatever reason.  If you follow this blog, you know that I’m not a fan of prefaces and introductions. They tend to be a bit windy, word-wise.  But I genuinely enjoyed Matt Weiland’s (not that Weiland; that’s Scott.) Preface for a few earthy reasons. Firstly, he starts with a quote by Martin Amis, one of my fav writers.  I love when a writer I like quotes another writer I like because they too like that writer.  I was so captivated by MW’s definition of "abroad" because I found myself living that definition when I came back from England the first time.  It was so obnoxious! You would think I was the only person who had ever been there.  So…yeah.  Amis and the whole "abroad" thing. 

Then, as he went on to describe his indoctrination into the cult of soccer, again, it was like reading about myself — where emotions were concerned.  I didn’t have an uncle to take me to a soccer shop and get me a kit.  I had to do that myself.  After France 98, I bought a Michael Owen Liverpool home game jersey.  After Arsenal’s undefeated season, I bought their blue away shirt.  After Germany 06, I bought a Miroslav Klose national team jersey because he scored 5 goals — the highest scorer of the tournament. 

Some of the funny bits were the anecdotes about writers they couldn’t get!  Here’s an excerpt from the part about who got in and who didn’t:

We asked some of the writers, like (Eduardo) Galeano, to write about their own country.  Others we assigned to countries based on an experience there, and some we sent to a country of their choosing.  For a month, we made lists and contacted writers, and by the last stage of qualification, we had assigned each nation that looked likely to qualify.  Then we sat back to watch and wait.

What an awesome job these guys made for themselves!  When all was said and done, Roddy Doyle was too depressed over Ireland’s flame-out and didn’t want to write about football.  Rattawut Lapcharoensap didn’t get in because Thailand didn’t get in to Germany.  Nick Hornby wrote about England.  OF COURSE!!!  Dave Eggers wrote about the US. Cheeky!  (Eggers and Hornby both used to write for McSweeneys, btw.)

 Some of the authors from the book: (the ones I’m familiar with, anyhoo):

Sean Wilsey wrote a wonderfully witty and clued-up Introduction.  Again — it’s a bit long as introductions go and should have been titled something else, but it’s a good read.  He has a handle on the insider expressions such as Gli Azzurri (Italy; the sky blues), Les Bleus ("the blues"; the French national team), catenaccio (Italian for "make 1 goal then defend for the rest of the game yawnfest") and an adrenalized uppercase reproduction of GOOOOOOOO…well, you get the idea.  I love Sean’s description of rambling, rickety Roger Milla, the star of Cameroon in Italia ’90. 

You will probably go straight to the countries you like, but take some time to read about the Ghanas, the Trinidad/Tobagos, the Angolas — the obscure countries that won’t make it out of the group stages but who provide the most gripping, exciting, heartbreaking underdog action you will ever see.  Remember Croatia in France ’98?  South Korea in Korea/Japan 02?  Cote d’Ivoire in Germany 06?

Whew!  Wait — there’s more!  This book is great for "anoraking" (an "anorak" is someone who is fixated on stats).  An anorak’s almanac, if you will.  Forgive me, Nick Hornby for that awkward almost-alliteration.  Every article comes with demographics and FIFA stats.  At the end of the book, there’s a section called "The World Cup in Numbers" which serves up juicy dets like "Most Goals in A World Cup", "Most Appearances", and "Penalty Shootouts".  After that there’s a section called "The 32 Nations in Numbers" and Holee Abacus, Batman! does it ever dish dets on the price of living in each country: Median Age, Birth Rate, Annual GDP, Unemployment Rate, Exports, Tourism, Internet Users…Damn!

Such an amalgamation of information on the state of the nation is not just there for filler.  When you read about the haves and have-nots of soccer countries, you start to understand what’s at stake for them if they succeed or if they don’t.  Wars have started and stopped because of soccer.  If your a 10 year-old boy in Sierra Leone or Somalia or the Congo, would you rather be a half-starved soldier or a soccer player with a salary and a pair of shoes?  That is a real career choice in those countries.  I love how the demographics come from the CIA World Factbook.  Not an atlas.  Not Encyclopedia Britannica.  Not the internet. The Freaking CIA World Factbook!  This book is soaking in a brine of testosterone.  It even has a good blurb at the back — and you know how I am about blurbs.


Other posts in this series: Irons in The Fire, Love & Blood

FOX FOOTBALL FONE-IN [companion to World Soccer Daily podcast available on iTunes or live on Sirius Ch. 125(?)]


The British site for this book  (The link to the American publishers site didn’t work for me.  Maybe it’s out of date or sumfin or nuffin…)

The CIA World Factbook online


Love & Blood: At The World Cup with The Footballers, Fans, and Freaks/Jamie Trecker 2007


In the months leading up to World Cup 2010/South Africa, I will be commenting on my collection of soccer books, thus combining two of my greatest loves. LOVE&BLOOD is available through major online retailers, i.e. Amazon, Borders, etc.  

clip_image001This book has a blurb that’s actually useful. The idea of the micromanaging German establishment trying to keep things sane during the Big Show is laughable. During the summer of 2006, we could laugh at the Germans for good reasons. Jamie Trecker, the author, is an insider. He works for Fox Sports; his specialty being soccer. He’s been in the press trenches for two world cups (02, 06), and will most probably be in them again for 2010 in South Africa. His experiences are made more dramatic by the fact that he suffers from severe epilepsy and had to take copious amounts of medication. I don’t know how he survived. Sheer force of will, I guess.

When it comes to soccer, the only sport I care deeply about, I’m more of a “people person”. I love learning about the players, the managers, the politics. The gossip! Soccer gossip is way better than Hollywood gossip. Way, way better! The money is unreal! Grown men who own multinational whatsits bow down to lick the Diadoras (who have gone broke, btw.), Adidas, and Nikes of players like Christiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Zidane, and Ronaldinho (who’s on his last legs, having eaten all the pies!).

Soccer commercials during the World Cup season are hilarious and brilliant. Remember 2006? Eric Cantona, who once “autographed the face of a fan with his studs”, bursts into a German tv studio to take it over and spread the word about JOGA BONITO! Genius!!! Ronaldinho as a little boy, playing with a passion and love you NEVER see in NFL these days. (College games, maybe. But in NFL, it’s all about sniffing the oxygen. Wimps.) Adidas’s IMPOSSIBLE TEAM! With the real players!! Beat that, NBA. One of the absolute best, and probably most expensive, has to be the 2002 Nike SECRET TOURNAMENT. Cantona was in that one, too. For soccer lovers, that commercial was a dream come true. Seven years later, I still watch it a couple of times a month.

Downloadable soccer commercials

A lot of the book is about South Korea/Japan 2002. That might seem a waste of space, but Trekker goes on to compare and contrast 02 and 06, which for a reader/writer like me, is just perfect. The whole book is very personal. No Baedeker this, neither Fodor’s. I hate to use the word “cool”, but this is just a freaking cool memoir. And I don’t even like memoirs.  Also, it has a 20-page introduction, which is mostly the South Korea 2002 experience.  Dude, if it’s running to 20 pages, just title it already and call it Chapter One. We won’t mind.  Really.

I really like that the back of the book contains a summary of the 06 World Cup with comments. Love that!  There’s also a nicely detailed index.  It’s a very fan-friendly book, written by a fan of the game.   

I don’t just love soccer. I love it with the enthusiasm of a girl’s first crush. I love it like the promotion you never saw coming, then suddenly it’s yours. Like when you’re going to your first “grownups” party. That fresh, sunny, jubilant, PURE passion. Myopic, consuming, teeth-gnashing, endorphin-releasing, jingoistic soccer.

LOVE & BLOOD gives you sackfulls of gory details. The crappy weather in South Korea: Trekker describes the air as “stew”. Oy! The frantic efforts of the Germans to live in the “here and now”. Drinking. Shantytowns set up for the press. More drinking. Dodgy access to electronics. Impregnable press conferences. Reticent managers. Drink. Hype. Above all things, hype.

Next year, we get to do it all again in South Africa! Break out your vuvuzelas and take a deep breath…


Related Posts:



· Germans: Unspontaneous, micromanaging weirdos or gleefully chaotic?

· THE GUARDIAN’S FIVER-isms: A Glossary for Glazey-Eyed


Support WORLD FOOTBALL DAILY and their advertisers.


The Powers That Be: Continental federations


THE GUARDIAN’S FIVER-isms: A Glossary for Glazey-Eyed

London’s THE GUARDIAN online newspaper has a magnificently acerbic column by Barrry Glendenning, Sean Ingle, Paul Doyle, Tom Bryant, Scott Murray and Tom Lutz called “The Fiver”. A fiver usually refers to a five-pound note, but this fiver is probably called that as it is e-mailed to subscribers every day at 5 p.m. Nice.

I typed this up in MSWord and the auto-editor went crazy filling in red and green wavy lines everywhere. Ha! Auto-editor, you suck. At the end of the day, there’s nothing like the human eye to discern right and wrong. Auto-editor and spellcheck have no intuition. Even grammar-check is the equivalent of a 1st year English teacher who goes by the textbook and nowt else. (There are way too many of those out there.)


“Mr. 15%” – a player’s manager. Rarely spoken of with a positive connotation.

EXAMPLE: Christiano Ronaldo’s Mr. 15% assures Sir Alex that “the gelled one” is happy to graze at ManUre for another year.

Big Vase – The UEFA Champion’s League trophy which looks essentially like a …

Big Paper – THE GUARDIAN itself, I think. Usually referred to in contrast to its subsidiaries or departments.

Big Cup – THE UEFA Champion’s League final. Takes place in late May after 9 months of World Cup-style elimination play. Sometimes not even the best game. In the last 4 years or so, the quarters and semis have been more exciting than the heavily risk-aversive finals.

Big Cup Big Day – the day of the Champion’s League final. The most important game after the World Cup final, but that’s up for debate these days. For the last two years, I would have it on in my classroom tv and tape it at home. Next year, I’m taking that day off to watch it at home from beginning to end. ESPN needs to get their shit together and show the entire post-game festivities, thank you very much!

Fiver Lawyers – in essence, the censors. They make their presence felt: SEE "snip-snip-snip"

Snip-snip-snip – Fiver Lawyers: censored information; usually something very personal or obscene or something that is being swept under the carpet so as not to be libelous even though it’s true.

Knack — injury

Knack-prone – injury-prone

Toe-knack/knee-knack: i.e. David Beckham and Michael Owen; possibly Rooney, too.

Knacked up (make sure it’s got an “a” in it!) – injured

EXAMPLE: Petr Cech suffered a horrendous head-knack!

“bits and bobs” – alliterative cuteness indicating small chunks of information like gossip, rumors, comments, etc.

“on a free” – a free transfer. Refers to the Bosman Ruling where if a player has finished his contract with a team, he can go to another team and they don’t have to pay any transfer money for him. Synonym: “on a Bosman”.  This phrase not exclusive to the column; sort of common.

EXAMPLE: “Michael Owen has gone to Manchester United on a free now that his contract with Newcastle has expired.”

“a medical” – a medical exam on a player done by the organization he’s about to join.  Mandatory prior to finalizing contracts.

pundit – sports critic/writer, perhaps even a broadcaster; often with a sarcastic, demeaning, or otherwise negative connotation.

hack – a lousy pundit

“to neck” – to swallow something; literally or metaphorically

"He" with a capital “H” – Christiano Ronaldo (for now)

EXAMPLE:  Such was the hoop-la generated by His unveiling at the Bernabéu. (Fiver, 7 July)

"At [His] request – who has again expressed [His] desire to leave – and after discussion with [His] representatives, United have agreed to give [Them] permission to talk to [Him],"


World Soccer Daily

The Guardian>Football>The Fiver

Fox Sports/Soccer

ESPN Soccernet

Previous mention of The Fiver


Product DetailsIt were unfortunate that Russell Brand has had such a difficult time of it here in the States.  One might get the impression that everyone hates him.  But they don’t all.  Just boring people.  They don’t like his packaging.  Why vilify him when so many others deserve it more: Angelina Jolie, Any of the Jacksons.  That Spears woman. Most popular rappers.  Anyone on reality TV.  But this is not a knuckle-rap to the boneheads what slam Russell.  This is actually about a column he wrote for the English newspaper THE GUARDIAN about his soccer team West Ham.

Not to be condescending or pedantic but here’s some background. The “Ham” in West Ham, I think is short for Hammersmith, a section of London. So the team is sometimes called “The Hammers” and their logo includes a couple of crossed sledgehammers. There’s even a reference to them in Monty Python’s Flying Circus. It’s the skit where they’re asking Karl Marx questions about politics and soccer. It’s classic. Check it out.

The thing you need to understand about London is that some of the surrounding sections were named after the trade or guild that operated out of that part of town. Hence Hammersmith may have been the part of town where you could find someone to shoe your horse or fix a nick on your sword. Nowadays, it’s an urban mélange of immigrants, as are most parts of London and its environs.

IRONS IN THE FIRE is the first collection of his columns.  Funny!  Oh my God. HI-larious.  Quippy. Clever. Verbally inventive.  I love that urban London patois where he gets all the pronouns and verbs wrong.  Like Ali G, except funny.  Ali G sounds like an imbecile on purpose.  Russell, in spite of the dodgy grammar, sounds intelligent for all the right reasons: complete sentences, complex ideas, lucidity of expression.  And he writes like he speaks, which is fantastic because I love listening to him talk.  His base voice always sounds a bit incredulous, boyish, and happy-go-lucky.  But he can go deep, and disarmingly high, as well.  He also does, I don’t know if he knows this, a damned sexy American accent – the tv exec suggesting the elephant – wow!

So here’s some “bits and bobs” (quotation marks just in case “Big Paper’s” legal team is web surfing) from Russell’s columns that I really got a thrill out of reading for various reasons. If indeed he did write the more sprawling sentences, then I am breathless – even a bit high – from his artistry.

“My account is always unbalanced and frightfully biased so unless these as yet unborn, nameless academics crave the solipsistic scribbling of a highly capricious and volatile witness to events at Upton Park and Soho Square they should probably, on uncovering my writings in some excavated knocking shop, keep digging till[sic] they reach the works of Richard Lacey or Oliver Holte.”

Bit wordy, this. This is one of those sentences that gave me an endorphin high. It’s so well balanced, so rhythmic, so consistently baroque in its structure, that I’m breathless with wonder. It’s a sprawling Blackadder-esque architectural delight.

“gangle-tang of limbs sans gorm Ha! Gormless is what he’s sayin’, but isn’t this so much more expressive? A cool twist.

“scratch my frantic opinions on to the page with the twisted lust of a self-harming adolescent etching anxious, doubtful journals upon her busy wrists.” (Self-harming refers to people who secretly – or not – cut themselves. My students call them “emos”)

Is he really comparing the stress of writing his column to an emo cutting their wrists? Blimey, that’s intense.

“…the sparkle-eyed Sasquatch from Merseyside”. LMAO! He’s referring to Peter Crouch, formerly of Liverpool, but who has since been craned to another team, Portsmouth.

I love this one: referring to the blooming of Joe Cole at WC2006 (not THAT wc, for God’s sake!), he essentially compares Sir Alex to a pervert for “inquiring after Cole like an aged suitor willing the ripening of teenage prey.” That’s a ripe, saucy comment. Sir Alex is not known for his sense of humor, btw.

“Here in England[,] we endure an anxious carnival of pain, a Mardi Gras of malcontent, a samba of sadness.”

This kind of parallel/alliteration combo-phrasing is a structure I tend to use myself. So I was so excited to see it in the book. In fact, I did something similar way back in one of my spending-too-much-money-at-the-bookstore posts. It’s vindication; it’s absolution; it’s a sign from Thoth, the scribe-god, that I don’t completely suck as a writer.



westham logo


Irons in the Fire

Russell Brand in New York City

Radio Show: The Best of What’s Legal (Bonus Dvd)

Product DetailsPart 2 of his columns! 

[Do not even bother with Forgetting Sarah Marshall. It is an excruciatingly crap movie!]




Russell Brand

Marilynne Robinson

Cesear (Julius)


Gail Faulkner

Elizabeth Hale


In the course of the coming year, I will try to highlight soccer books. Don’t be surprised if you see some repeats.  After a spell of distractedness these last couple of months, the Confederations Cup and our national team’s amazing accomplishments have inspired me to "get back in the game" (as opposed to "get back ON the game" which is a reference to prostitution).

I started IRONS IN THE FIRE as soon as I took it out of the box.  I was in the car at the time on my way to Smoothie King to get a medium “Light & Fluffy”.  I should know better than to read and drive.  I’ve had my share of fender benders.  But such is the tunnel vision of the habitual reader, especially when it’s a book you’re enthusiastic about. 

I am quite fond of Russell Brand. I like his self-deprecating comedy that enhances his personal vitriol at stupid, ignorant people.  He’s like Eddie Izzard in that sense. Those two guys are so freaking intelligent; it’s a shame that they camouflage it.  Coming out as a transvestite must be a piece of piss compared to coming out as an exceptionally intelligent, even intellectual person. The unwashed, unread masses would forgive a costumed clown before they would accept someone who sees their proud ignorance for the atrocity that it is. 

So, yeah…IRONS.  It’s a collection of Russell’s (can I call you Russell? Ta.)  columns about soccer for the London newspaper THE GUARDIAN during the 2006-07 season – a World Cup preparatory season.  It was a lead-in famous for stories of toe-knack and contract-knack and grudges.  Croatia would be playing an Australian team teeming with half-Croats.  The USA was going to try not to embarrass itself  (and failed horribly).  Germany had had a chemical peel and was looking fresh, shiny and butch with their new manager Juergen Klinsmann. 

But in England, there was a serious lack of creativity.  The team was depending on faded laurels Owen and Beckham, 9/11 of ManU, 3/11 of Liverpool, and a smattering of players from mid-table teams.  I better stop name-dropping because I can’t be arsed to link everything all the time.  Sigh…

One reason I love IITF is because it serves my ever decreasing attention span.  The columns are short, pithy, every-word-counts kind of writing that I love.  Also, writing like one speaks sounds easy to the unschooled, but it’s quite challenging.  You have to sound like yourself on purpose.  Elizabeth Gage, in CRAFTING WRITERS, says that one must isolate the quality of writing you want to master. So you basically have figure out what makes you sound like "you", then work from there.


Here are some of the soccer-intensive books I have:

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Your Dominant Intelligence is Linguistic Intelligence
You are excellent with words and language. You explain yourself well.
An elegant speaker, you can converse well with anyone on the fly.
You are also good at remembering information and convincing someone of your point of view.
A master of creative phrasing and unique words, you enjoy expanding your vocabulary.

You would make a fantastic poet, journalist, writer, teacher, lawyer, politician, or translator.


It’s no accident that I call this category GAMES.

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