Posts Tagged ‘soccer’

Pompey Party 07: Pressbox to Party Bus

“A Clueless American Sportswriter Seeks Solace in English Soccer.”

A sick-at-home American wants something to read in between bouts of blowing snot projectiles.

It’s a win-win.

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I’m still not sure why, after about four years of this book languishing on my shelf, I picked Chuck Culpepper’s book out of a shoebox and just started reading. It’s not a fast read, although the style is upbeat and uptempo, even jazzy in parts.  It also has a sportswriter’s unique footprint – that is – juggling an astounding bulk of stats. 

Waiting for the end-of-game whistle to blow can be hell. Firstly, because every second of injury time can feel like an hour and many goals are scored in injury time. Second, if one of the teams is Manchester Utd, then you probably have like half an hour of injury time because the officials like to give ManYoo time to win if they aren’t.

“Finally, one of life’s kindest acts occurred: the whistle tweeted, and Portsmouth had a 2-1 win over Liverpool to go with the 2-1 win over Newcastle, the 2-1 win over Manchester United [despite injury time – emphasis added], the 2-1 win over Manchester City, the 2-1 win over Wigan in the FA Cup, and the 2-1 win over West Ham…” (Chapter 32)

If you love soccer from way back, this book has nothing new to teach you, but you should read it anyway because you should at least be positive about converting someone to this sport.  If you don’t like soccer, you still may not after this book.  Even Pat Forde of ESPN (at least he was in 2007) did not jump on the soccer bandwagon. And he’s friends with Culpepper! His quote is at the top of the cover of the paperback: “I’m still not sure I love soccer, but I love this book.”  What a douche!  I don’t know why this struck such a sour note; probably because it’s faint praise.  And everyone knows faint praise is damning. But this is conditional faint praise. Of your friend’s book. Good thing Culpepper made some new friends in England. 

The writing is not super-fantastic.  It’s even a bit amateurish in spots.  I wonder if this is his first book-book.  The back of the book has Culpepper’s pic and says that he’s been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize twice, has written for the LA Times and ESPN Books. (Oooooh, there’s a oxymoron!)  And really, my only grouse is that Culpep makes the classic overcompensation mistake of using “myself” as a direct or indirect object instead of the correct “me”.  Why was that not edited? It’s so obviously incorrect. 

What’s excellent about the book is the fun.  Culpepper sounds like he had a blast following Portsmouth around like a Grateful Dead-head.  Many of the trips were not pleasant. The chapter 17: “The Distinct Horror of Rail Replacement”.  I would have laughed more except I remembered that nightmare Thanksgiving trip from San Marcos, Texas to Laredo in ‘84 via Greyhound Bus. Three university students and about half the population of Tamaulipas (Mexico) trying to get to the border in time to enjoy Thanksgiving at home.  I wish I could say that was the last time  I rode “the Dog”.  Culp also had to endure a few rail replacement traumas.  At least he had good company, and they could all talk about soccer.

Anyhoo—more good stuff.  It was nice to read that Culp endeared himself to many.  He made it a point to write about all the nice people that he met, which is very cool.  Also, he totally got it right in that soccer makes you afraid of numbers; specifically:4,  5, 10, 17, the amount of injury time, and whatever your team’s goal difference happens to be.  For being a sports writer, Culp tells good human stories. He admits in the early chapters that he’s sick of the pretensions of American sports. So much drek.  Soccer has its drek, too, as I noticed not for the first time when Muamba had a heart attack in the middle of the pitch in March.  If I had a nickel for every player that tweeted “really puts things in perspective”, I could pay off my car tomorrow.  I’m sure they sort of probably meant it, but really, it was just a cheap move to not be left out of the action.  To paraphrase Culp: you never really leave high school. 

For the benefit of American sports fans, Culp draws numerous comparisons between soccer and American sports.  NFL has better locker rooms. Away fans are treated like red-headed stepchildren.  College sports is filthy with corruption.  Soccer is filthy with bad-tempered players and managers.  College sports is crawling with exploitative businessmen who have completely forgotten that the players still have to go to class and graduate.  Based on this book, I would put college recruiting practices way above even Big Oil lobbyists for venal greed.  It’s a wonder recruiters are not in jail for contributing to the delinquency of minors. A funny thing to find in a book about soccer.

Some other good bits: Keeper David James is mentioned a lot because he was pretty amazing during the 06-07 season.  Graham Poll is mentioned a lot towards the end of the book because he had a couple of shocking calls that went against Portsmouth. He was pilloried after giving 3 yellows during the Germany ‘06, but since ManYoo was not involved, I didn’t really care other than to feel sorry that he made a mistake in the heat of the moment.  Speaking of heat of the moment, Culp rightly discerned what couple of douchebags are Joey Barton and Cristiano Ronaldo.  He even figured out the Portuguese Diving Team joke about Ronaldo.  Of course, there is his education about soccer in general and Pompey in particular, and his people stories are awesome – honest, a touch too self-deprecating, but never skimping on his praise for fans who stick to their teams no matter what – like the relative you can’t get rid of and who can sometimes be a bit of a screw-up but you still love them.  Oh! and the best chant ever! 

“You’re a town full of seamen!

You’re a town full of seamen!”




Official page of Portsmouth Football Club (“Pompey”)

Roundup 11: Wondering Whether to Continue

I’m wondering whether to continue with this blog.  After the first couple of years, I started slowing down because of life things.  I still enjoy it when I do it, but the posts are getting farther and farther apart.  The only time I post often is during the summer.  And the blog has never really taken off.  I don’t spend much time shopping it around.  There are days, though, when it gets triple the amount of hits, but that is still under a hundred.  Imagine – less than a hundred hits a day every day.  Sometimes less than fifty.  Again – people tend to find it by accident instead of design.  I don’t know. 

It’s possible that one of the reasons there’s hardly any comments is because one must have an account with WordPress.  That’s not fair.  Most people don’t and should not be obligated to.  So that just kills the comments perk.

Perhaps I shall continue as I have done these last two years – just write when the energy’s right.  Time will tell.


Romance Reading Timeline Part 1 – Harlequin and Hysterical Historicals

Romance Reading Timeline Part 2 – Barbara Cartland

Be An ID10T – Learn by Not Reading


#1 Knight of A Trillion Stars

#3 Mine to Take

A post by my mum: How to Mark A Book

Reading READICIDE/ Living Readicide

Soccer and Books = Bliss

No snap, crackle or pop in this Rice

Follow-up to a wish list I posted in 2008.

Fun with tongues

Creepy search terms lead to this post

My Book House – fast becoming one of TFB’s most popular posts.  (#5)

Bettelheim the Buzzkiller of Fairy Tales

My Book House 4 – Some of the more familiar fairy tales and wardrobe fantasy

Lyrics to The Music of The Spheres – it’s a concept. There’s not really any lyrics.

Thinking out loud on adolescent whingers, Proust, lack of literary foundations, and mammoth Norton anthologies

Everybody should own a couple of joke books!

Burn Notice – the novel!

Champion’s League Saturday & I’m A Believer

As I watch the Champion’s League final on Fox Deportes, I’m alternately crying and cheering. Crying because of the emotional overload of this tremendous event taking place in a tremendous venue – New Wembley – between two tremendous teams – ManYoo and Barcelona (not “Barca-lona, as their nickname suggests) – playing a tremendous game.  I’m cheering because, in spite of my love for Chicharito, I want Barcelona to win.  And at 64 minutes in, Barca is ahead 2-1.  VIVA BARCELONA!

But the game ain’t over yet.  The two teams are countering each other’s moves.  The Red Devils haven’t been able to score in about 15 minutes so they are getting desperate.  Angry Reds are a bad sign.  After a pristine first half, they already have two yellow cards for dirty tackles.  Poor Iniesta.  He’s been tumbled like  jumper in a dryer twice already.  All because he had possession of the ball.  Go fig…


If Manchester doesn’t score soon, someone may do something stupid and get sent off.

But I digress…

Went to Barnes & Noble in Edinburg, Texas. It’s like the Wal-Mart of bookstores.  They had a large children’s section, a whole big section for YA books which resembled the library of a psychiatric  hospital (most of the inventory was books about traumas and vampires. )

Antonio Valencia and Ryan Giggs reverting to form, i.e., when they are not winning, they turn into whinging brats who have to break what they cannot have.


They also had a nice DVD/CD shop. I wonder what’s better – lots of little mom and pop shops where you can find obscure books as well as popular titles or one big paperback-only mega-mart that specializes in the friggin’ obvious.  Take that home, chew it. Talk amongst yourself. [sic].





Scholes traded shirts with Iniesta. Cool.  Chicha looks on the verge of tears.  Everybody wants a piece of Messi.  Man of the Match is MESSI.  They won without their man mountain Carlos Puyol.  Pep is HOT HOT HOT! And a little bow-legged. Cute!

Barca honor guard for ManLoser.  I love all the ceremonies before and after a game. You never get those with American coverage.  You only get them on Latin American coverage. So here’s a plug for Fox Deportes. Ustedes chavos son lo maximo! As per usual, American Fox is on commercial.  All those multi-millionaires in suits pawing the players as they walk past would give up every Euro to be a Messi or Abidal or Villa right now!

30 SECONDS INSIDE PEP’S HEAD: “note to self: do NOT let Piquet carry the trophy on the parade bus.

Wales just beat Northern Ireland in a Euro-prep friendly.  Too bad it all means nothing.

RainbowOkay, half an hour of on-pitch celebrations is winding down. I can’t get enough of that stuff. But back to the issues at hand.  Those issues being:

  1. 442 #203 with the droolicious Andy Carroll on the cover and the cute but slightly dim Uruguayan weasel Luis Suarez. um…oh, and a couple of freeloaders in the back. (What! I can’t have an opinion!)
  2. CHAMPIONS #46 with (My Name Is) Luka Modric on the cover, looking very Kate Moss-y.
  3. POETS  & WRITERS May/June.  Theme: Writing Contests.  JACKPOT!
  4. PARABOLA “Giving and Receiving”
  5. THE BELIEVER #80 Celebratory issue. My idol Nick Hornby’s column.  He changed my reading life for the better!
  6. A FROZEN FIRE by Charlotte Lamb
  7. PORTRAIT OF BETHANY by Anne Weale
  8. And a book from my wish list – AN ILLUSTRATED LIFE.


  2. NAUTI AND WILD (“Nauti Kisses”)

AIL is wonderful!  It’s a bit cofffee table-ish, but truly amazing in its scope. The variety of art that you see, the innumerable design and comp0sition concepts are inspiring.  Some are even a little scary – like the artist that covers his pages in writing. OCD much? It breaks my heart that I am not an artist when I see how much more interesting their journals look than mine. Disappointed smileComputer

ND and NK are Lora Leigh’s stories about “Rogue Walker” and her brother “John, Jr.” from Boston. Hmmm…

This is my fourth reading of ND and my second or third of NK.  What has brought me back to ND is that it’s the most romantic book since HARMONY’S WAY.  It still has a lot of sturm und drang, but it has those quiet moments where it’s just the two of them finding ways to connect without a lot of shouting. Rogue makes Zeke laugh. I think that’s what draws me to this story.  And that thing where she would call him for rides was too adorable!

It has way way WAY too much swearing.  That does get in the way sometimes.  The brother’s book, too. John, for all his polished ways, swears like a stevedore. It sounds gratuitous more often than not. His story I do not like as much. He’s an asshole.  “Sierra”, who is often described as “tiny” to the point that I think  she’s actually a toddler, is bruised and sore and traumatized. What’s John’s answer? Arouse her and have sex with her. Oh yeah, that’s JUST what she needs when she’s sleep-deprived and in pain after a near-fatal assault.  That is some messed-up logic right there.  Why not make her do dishes and vacuum while you’re at it.

A FROZEN FIRE is a Harlequin Presents from 1980.  I remember it being a particular favorite.  It made me want to go to York in England.  Gist: a nice woman and her husband’s boss fall in love.  The husband, who’s a scum-on-scum, figures it out and makes trouble.  You really believe the love in this story.  The anger doesn’t smother everything.

A WRINKLE IN TIME should be read by everybody.  It’s a masterpiece of communication and imagination.  Plus, it’s a super sci-fi book, if you need a more earth-bound reason to justify it.

So far I have only read Nick Hornby’s column.  It’s funny and self-deprecating in that charming way that Hornby is. I hope his missus thinks so, too. Winking smile


Product Details Product Details
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(Sample cover/this is not the one I bought)
luka modric thumbnail
this is a crop of the issue I bought.  UEFA CL page



Wound-Up Roundup #10

It’s been a long time since the last roundup post (No. 9).  Plus, I’ve posted a fair amount of wank along the way.  And – get this!  Windows Live stats were, like, a thousand times off as far as accuracy.  How else could I explain WL stats showing 500 hits in a day, then WordPress showing anywhere from 1 to 30 per day.  Someone was Enron-ing my stats.  But I’m prone to believe the WordPress stats – depressing though they are – simply because they are so thorough about where the hits come from. 

So the links listed here are only to book-related posts.  Jus’ keepin’ it real…er…yo.

  Webnovelas feat. William Levy–Part 3

— judging by my stats, the webnovela posts are the most popular so, I posted a third collection of stories from the forums.  The stories can be found in the William Levy Forum, the Maite Perroni Forum and the Jacqueline Bracamontes Forum.

  The Daughter of Time–A Different Species of Murder Mystery

— This novel has a great plot. I don’t like mysteries, but this one is a big hit at It took me a long time to get past the first couple of chapters because reading them was like watching dust collect on the coffee table. Words go by. They are sort of just there, yet nothing is happening.  It took a while for it to really take off.  It’s so terribly English. Still, it’s a super novel when all is said and done.

  Lora Leigh’s Elite Ops–The Final Mission

— sniff…sniff…waaaaaaahhhh…Don’t want to say goodbye!!!  Noah/Nathan, Micah/Maverick, John/Heat Seeker, Travis/Black Jack, Nik/Renegade, and now Jordan/Live Wire.  Jordan kind of reminds me of Acheron, the topic of the other most popular posts here at TFB. (Sorry about the pics not working.)  He’s mad, bad, and in charge. Everyone feels sorry for him one minute and wants to punch him the next.  He’s a thousand years older than the woman he’s in love with, but, well, I’m pretty much done complaining.  It’s been a grand series.  (Please check out the very nice reference chart. Print it, cut it out, laminate it.)

  INTO THE CROSSFIRE — Lisa Marie Rice

— Sweet story, and yet, not impressed with the quality of writing.  Still going to buy the next one in the series, though. [Hotter Than Wildfire: A Protectors Novel/Delta Force]


Wow, how did I live so long without reading this journal?  It’s awesome! My first one was “The Pleasure of Reading” – one of the most emotionally and philosophically satisfying books I’ve ever read (the exact opposite of FREEDOM AND DEATH by Nikos Kazantzakis).  Granted, you can’t compare a journal with a novel exactly, but satisfying is satisfying.  I found some more through  If you can get your hands on some, they are a good reading investment.


There’s a lot of interesting things about this book – mainly it’s social message.  And I’m not all that squeamish, but this book is a but much to stomach.  It has a strong sleaze factor.  Which puts it on par with most written and visual drek you see these days.  I would say, read it once. If you can screw up the patience, read it again. I’ve read it twice and, again, I appreciate the message, agree with it even. But I know I’ll never go back to this book again.  This novel would appeal to alpha types who have a compulsion to exploit, practice body modification, or want to sleep with twins.


Aaaahh, I watch footage from the world cup and I still get goose bumps!  Up at 6 am to catch the first of four games for about 10 days! Then slowly winding down the rounds. America ejaculated prematurely – again.  England – yawnfest. France!  Holy Shit!!! A meltdown of operatic proportions. My heart goes out to Yoann Gourcuff.  Cuz he’s HAWT!  South Africa put on a decent show.  If they can do it, anyone can.  Putting a world cup together reminds me of the scenes in THE TEN COMMANDMENTS where the Hebrew slaves are working themselves to death building pyramids.


Quoting myself from the original post: 

If you are a fan of Austen, the Bronte sisters, and/or George Eliot, beg, borrow, or steal a copy of this book. 


I like to do that thing that Nick Hornby does in his BELIEVER book review columns: include a list of books bought and books read. It’s amusing to see where the lists converge and diverge.


It’s so easy to write a review when your material is as good as this is.  I’m very fond of Russell in an annoying-but-adorable-hyper-puppy sort of way.  His writing style is casual, yet learned.  He’s no slouch in the grammar department. I would use his writing as an example of “voice” if I thought I could get away with it.

To conclude, I want to give a big shout-out to who came up with a genius idea that’s perfect for me – buy-backs.  You can sell your books back if they are in good condition.  I’m up to $30 in gift cards. I love you gods of book retail!!!

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