Friday, January 11, 2013

Fun and games from Garbhan Downey

Here's the post I was going to put up a week ago when the author, Garbhan Downey, preempted my plans by offering some comments that I turned into a guest post. The original post was to have been about matters humorous and serious (that is, soccer and politics) in the book, but Downey took care of the serious part with his guest. So this post is  fun and games. And here's a post about another political crime writer who also loved and wrote about soccer (football).
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Garbhan Downey says his novel Across the Line is about politics and football (soccer), the lines being both those on the soccer field and that between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

So it's no surprise that two of the book's best jokes are about soccer, to wit:
"He'd always hated the descent into Cityside Airport. Because of the airport's topography, the little jet had to stay almost five miles up until it was directly above the runway. The first sign you knew it was on its way down was when the London stewardesses, to a man, would belt themselves into their seats, close their eyes and bless themselves. After which the plant hit the ground quicker than an Italian striker."
and
"`The entire squad walked out of Muff Hall last week when they heard I'd been signed as centre-forward.' 
"`You're joking?' 
"`I'm afraid not. Something about mafias taking over football clubs. That they wouldn't go the way of Chelsea."
© Peter Rozovsky 2013

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14 Comments:

Blogger R.T. said...

Flying into Cityside sounds a bit like flying into San Diego, or--as I once used to do (as a passenger, not a pilot)--flying onto the deck of an aircraft carrier, which is always good for an intense pucker factor. In both circumstances, the plane would hit the "ground" quicker than a French soldier in WW2. And does Downey really say "the London stewardesses, to a man, would belt themselves..."? And as for football/soccer, I've got nothing. Nada. Except to say--as the American heretic--soccer is one of the most boring things I've had the misfortune to witness, running a close second or third behind cricket and ice hockey. Weird, huh?

January 11, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

"Stewardesses to a man" it is. I find soccer exciting only amid the hoopla surrounding the game at its highest levels, but I must say that humor like Downey's could get me to watch more, just to see, for example, if Italian strikers really do flop more than their counterparts from other countries.

January 11, 2013  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Peter

Soccer incidentally is a good old British word, although many Brits seem to get worked up about it demanding that we call it a football or even real football. I think soccer is fine. This is just to preempt any wankers...

And Garv is awesome.

January 12, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

"Soccer" from "assoc" from "association football," is it not? We men of there world know that, but not everyone is so fortunate.

January 12, 2013  
Blogger R.T. said...

As a non sequitur (sp?), I offer the following: Do you see the folks' interest in blogging and commenting dwindling over the past year or so as I see it? FB and Twitter, to my mind, taken away many of the former bloggers and commentators, which has made blogging something of a threatened species.

January 12, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I have seen that. But I've maintained that there is no such thing as blogging. Rather, there is writing and discussion that happens to take place on blogs. So any fall-off does not bother me as much as it could or maybe should.

January 12, 2013  
Blogger R.T. said...

They "close their eyes and bless themselves." So, tell me, how do people bless THEMSELVES? I take that to be a figure of speech regarding the sign of the cross, but it hardly has anything to do with someone feeling powerful enough to bless himself. Right?

And what of that Italian striker? I take that to mean something other than a labor protester.

And what is the inside story on Cheslea?

So, you see, what I am getting at here is that sometimes writers use cultural contexts that shut some readers out.

Or I am just being a bit of a trouble maker by nitpicking these words and phrases. Call it pro football boredom. Go, Packers!

January 12, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

They "close their eyes and bless themselves."

Blessing one's self, according to a cursory search for blessing, appears indeed to be a common term in English for crossing one's self.

And what of that Italian striker? I take that to mean something other than a labor protester.

A striker plays at the front of a soccer formation as an attacker. Such players are generally their teams' big scorers and stars and, according to Downey's joke, Italian players in the position are particular prima donnas--not literally, should you wonder, first women, but rather whiners and show-offs prone to hitting the ground quickly in an effort to entice the referee to call a foul on the other team.

And what is the inside story on Cheslea?

Chelsea's owner is a Russian billionaire.

Do any meat-packing plants remain in Green Bay? I'm not sure Pittsburgh makes steel anymore, and the Lakers left the lakes in Minnesota when they moved from Minneapolis.

January 12, 2013  
Blogger R.T. said...

And are there any eagles still flying around in Philadelphia?

The Russian ownership of an English soccer franchise is a bit worrisome. But we should really worry, I suppose, if Irish crime writers and others from beyond these borders start including vampires and zombies in their plots. We will then know that they have caved in and bought into an unfortunate fad that is rather ruining genre fiction in the U.S.

January 13, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

No, and it's very possible there soon won't any newspapers flying around Philadelphia, either.

A number of England's top soccer teams have passed to foreign ownership in recent years, including Manchester United to--and American.

January 13, 2013  
Blogger R.T. said...

Ah, the newspapers are going the way of the dinosaurs? When Gutenberg put things in motion long, long ago--the technology for communication made newspapers a possibility and reality. When computers became ubiquitous, there was a radical shift in technology for communication. I know that I'm not uttering some profound insight. But I am surprised about the numbers of people (including publishers) who do not see the writing on the wall--er, the writing on the screen. Computers and the Internet might turn out to be part of the greatest paradox in human history: they are both a blessings and curses at the same time, and now they are inescapable. Personally, I have a love-hate relationship with computers and the Internet.

January 13, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...


One newspaper may be going the way of the dinosaur in the next two months.

I can also tell you that all publishers see the writing on the wall, but they don't know how to read it. And, in the short term at least, there is less knowledge and less literacy afoot because of the death of newspapers. This will be the case until something steps in to replace them, whether this is newspapers themselves in online versions, or something else that has not developed yet.

In this unsettled interim state, fewer resources are available for reporting, writing, and editing, and the openness of the Internet means that everything out there is equal. The dreadful emptiness of the terms "information" and "content" hit home more than ever.

As it happens, I realized this most recently when I was trolling the Internet for information about my newspaper's owners' threat to liquidate the paper if my union does not make concessions in a contract already in force. Every reference I found online used the same news release as a source, and at least one major factual error had crept into one report. And that says all that needs saying about the Internet as a source for news in its present state.

I may be too liberal for you politically, but we likely see eye to eye on the need for "gatekeepers."

January 13, 2013  
Blogger R.T. said...

If you mean "editors" as "gatekeepers," then I agree. There are--alas--too many Internet sites with "news" without quality. Sometimes size does matter, and in the case of Internet news, less would be better, especially if it involved the elimination of redundancy and lazy error among so-called "reporters." Both liberal and conservative outlets share the guilt on this issue. As I see it, there is too little actual "reporting" going on anywhere anymore. Journalism school must be a bit of a joke now. After all, what is there to teach? (1) Turn the computer on; (2) post something; (3) turn the computer off. There you have a probably journalism syllabus.

January 13, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I meant editors as gatekeepers, yes. I agree, too, that size matters. It takes money to put reporters in far-flung places, and it won't be too long, if it hasn't happened already, before dubious regimes in the world's trouble spots start flooding social media and the Internet with "citizen journalism" of their own.

I would always wonder at the spectacle of journalism students being led through my newsroom. My only hope is that these processions are a kind of "Scared Straight" to persuade them to consider the benefits of another profession.

I asked a recent intern on my copy desk what she expected to get out of her internship and where she expected to put those gains to use.

"In law school," she said. A wise woman.

Journalism schools must be interesting these days, a haven, a sinecure, and a golden parachute for high-level editors deserting sinking ships with, however scraps of prestige from their moribund industry to offer to their new employers. I strongly suspect, too, that journalism faculties these days harbor a fair number of charlatans peddling enough new-media wiftiness to impress nervous journalism deans desperate for relevance.

January 13, 2013  

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