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Author Archive: "Matt Weiland and Sean Wilsey"

Bend It Like Beckett

Oh hey Sean —

The thing is, I love the current refereeing system because it feels so much like real life: isn't what you call the referee's "absolute, flawed, subjective authority" also a perfect description of the way in which we all live our lives? We are absolute authors of our own destiny and yet so often wrong, so frequently blind to the obvious foul, the step out of bounds, the ball over the line! How many times have we all thought about a night, a day, a year of our lives: if only we could see that again, slower, to know what we got wrong? Except for the start of the game and the end, we are all referees. I'm just glad we don't have to wear those goofy orthodontal Q-tip microphones strapped to one cheek.

I think soccer's relentless, Beckettian horror is part of its great appeal: it just goes on, the clock always ticking and the game full of moments that seem, and often are, unfair. No stopping, rarely any do-overs, and never a replay review. The clods of dirt and the accidental whistle are part of the game. When David Beckham ...

My World Cup

Hey Matt,

Incredible second game today, between the French and the Spanish! Morning game, however, between Brazil and Ghana: a total bummer. I've begun to hate Brazil for always winning and never looking like they deserve to win. What happened to John Lanchester's Brazil, the Brazil that made doing something as if your life depended on it, and doing it beautifully, into the same thing? That Brazil sure ain't in Germany! Even Ronaldinho stopped smiling and started jumping up and down in frustration when he didn't get a pass in the box. Ronaldo's goal was opportunistic and effective, but far from pretty. Adriano was offside for his. And I don't even remember the third one. Ghana played better, deserved to win, and STILL LOST: it stank.

Meanwhile, I am feeling the whole French thing. Seeing Spain's racist coach and his squad of children (talented children) get handed tickets home by a bunch of multi-culti old Frenchmen made me think that the dream of an integrated Europe could still happen. Of course, this is a ridiculous thing to think, but that's what I thought. ...

F*cking Wankers


New York — and America in general, since I've been traveling all this month — is such a strange place to be watching. I've been in bars for all the England games, and the fans have been pumped, caped, painted-of-face, generally obnoxious. For the opener against Paraguay I was at San Francisco's Mad Dog in the Fog, at 5:30 AM, next to a pseudo-skinhead/computer programmer who would shout, "Shut up, you yank!" and "Fucking wanker!" every time any announcer with an American accent said anything, intelligent or un. During halftime ABC told us to stick around after the game for an "essay" by one of the network commentators. An American guy turned to the pseudo-skinhead and said, with perfectly pitched sarcasm, "I think you're really going to enjoy the essay." I laughed. In response the ps started shouting at the American, "Are you stupid?! Are you retarded?!" I think the fact that he was far from his own people made him feel like he could behave like a caricature. Similar situation yesterday at Milwaukee's charmingly named The Highbury, which was full of enthusiasm, cigarette smoke, and bad ...

Joyless Olde England

Dear Sean,

Can this World Cup get any better? Great goals and great saves, drama and heartbreak, the thrill of individual genius and incredible team performances — I won't soon forget Argentina's second goal against Serbia & Montenegro (it seems ridiculous to call it Cambiasso's, since 24 passes made it such a shared masterpiece); nor Mexico storming out of the gate to surprise, and nearly beat, Argentina! There's even, as the novelist John Lanchester points out on his excellent World Cup blog, a gratifying absence of silly hair.

I've been watching the World Cup since 1982, and I don't remember a better one.

Typically, in London there's a palpable sense of disappointment. Every available surface in town may still be covered with the Flag of St. George, but England have played so poorly that even having topped their group and beaten Ecuador in the Round of Sixteen brings little cheer. This is true to the city's temperment: London always feels to me like it's in the midst of some awful breakup, where a couple can't say anything right to each other — it's a tense town, bitter ...

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