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I suppose I should talk about poker here, but I don't want to. Poker is already shoved down everyone's throat. Almost every electronic device a person owns can be somehow linked to poker: computer, television, cell phone, and the ipod. Pretty soon I'm sure my ice maker will offer spread limit Omaha. People who enjoy reading poker blogs have many options to choose from — all of which have more knowledge and advice than I could ever offer. Besides, my book will only make you a better poker player the way watching a car accident will make you a better driver.

What I'd really like to talk about is some topics that have not been discussed on the web yet: the World Cup, Bush administration deficiencies, and Snakes on a Plane.

Late night talk show hosts were making their jokes about Americans not caring about soccer or the World Cup. Every other country gets beyond excited at the prospect of taking on the world, but for us, it's old hat. We've been doing that for at least six years — and we can use our hands.

I care about the World Cup, if for no other reason, because I like watching people deliberately use their heads and faces to hit things.

The television commentators have a slew of heartbreaking/tragically hopeful stories about a country's civil war being put on hold for the Cup or a player's dramatic rise from some BFE slum to international star. This schmaltz is nothing new in sports and, usually, I'm a master of Tivo-ing past the corny stuff or muting it. Maybe it is the times we're living in, but this time I'm buying it.

That one English guy with cornrows kicked a sphere past a guy from Paraguay into a net is nothing special, but that hundreds of millions of people around the world watch and consider it important is something special. I don't think our leaders here get that. We like our own world championships to be won without dealing with suspect foreigners, except for the odd Cuban.

That Americans don't care much about soccer is old news. Beating the Americans on the field will not be considered a great sporting feat by any great team, but other countries — especially third world ones — will certainly take a measure of pride in handing us our hats.

Here's the funny thing: The worst thing for America's image would be if we won. It might be a good Cinderella story, which everyone loves. It would absolutely gain our team worldwide respect. But it would be really bad for America because we still wouldn't care. If we won the Cup, I doubt there would be a national holiday, teeming streets of revelers, or even one of our colorful drunken riots. Many citizens of the world, having spent their lives wishing and hoping for the World Cup, would see our indifference as unforgivable. No matter. I doubt very much we'll take the Cup.

Now, to more important matters. What the hell is Snakes on a Plane? I know it is some sort of Internet phenomenon, but what? Jon Stewart was making jokes about it, which means it is widely discussed. I feel like an idiot for not knowing what all the references to Snakes on a Plane are. Not that I'm unfamiliar with feeling like an idiot, but feeling dumb over something dumb is bad.

Books mentioned in this post

  1. How to Win the World Series of Poker... Sale Trade Paper $1.00
  2. The Thinking Fan's Guide to the... Used Trade Paper $3.95
  3. How to Win the World Series of Poker... Sale Trade Paper $1.00

Pat Walsh is the author of How to Win the World Series of Poker (or Not): An All-American Tale

5 Responses to "Monday"

    sam June 13th, 2006 at 1:11 pm

    Dear Pat.

    "Snakes on a Plane" might perhaps be the BEST Samuel L. Jackson movie ever made. Or, it will be much worse than "Shaft". Either way, it is a movie that Mr. Jackson will be starring in and it's coming out soon. I saw a trailer before "X-Men whatever". It's awesome, because when they pitched the idea to him, that was the working title. "They" wanted to change the name, but he refused to do it unless they kept the name (so I've heard).

    So, go see it when it comes out. Probably won't be in theaters very long....


    Brockman June 13th, 2006 at 3:26 pm

    As I understand it, the Snakes on a Plane craze started with the blog of screenwriter Josh Friedman (who, ironically, didn't even work on the film) in which he wrote:

    In fact, during the two or three days that precedes my phone call with the studio, I become obsessed with the concept. Not as a movie. But as a sort of philosophy. Somnewhere in between "Cest la vie", "Whattya gonna do?" and "Shit happens" falls my new zen koan "Snakes on a Plane".

    WIFE: "Honey you stepped in dog poop again."
    ME: "Snakes on a Plane..."
    DOCTOR: "Your cholesterol is 290. Perhaps you want to mix in a walk once in a while."
    ME: "Snakes on a Plane..."
    WIFE: "Honey, while you were on your cholesterol walk you stepped in dog poop again."

    The koan caught on and, like so many Internet memes, exploded over the next few months. I first read that blog last summer and since then the film's profile has skyrocketed. So I credit Friedman. (And, I guess, the New Line execs who green-lighted the movie in the first place.)

    Venkman June 13th, 2006 at 3:33 pm

    Hey Brocky,

    I think you're right about Friedman. In part because his blog notes - "As the great Sam Jackson would say: There are motherfucking snakes on the motherfucking plane."

    That was written last August, and New Line reshot a bunch of scenes to take the movie from PG-13 to a hard R rating. Among the new lines is Sam Jackson yelling, "We gotta get these motherfuckin' snakes off the motherfuckin' plane!"

    Bet Friedman didn't even get paid for that...

    pat walsh June 14th, 2006 at 5:24 pm

    I'm going to shout Snakes on a Plane at the poker table whenever I lose a pot. Thanks for all the info!


    marcia soffer October 27th, 2006 at 5:14 pm

    Where's Stuart Nahin?

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