When I first started following Arsenal seriously back at the beginning of the Wenger era, there were three players who captured my imagination: VieiraWhen I first started following Arsenal seriously back at the beginning of the Wenger era, there were three players who captured my imagination: Vieira, Bergkamp and Adams. I would come to like other players even better than that trio, but those three were my first footballing heroes, and they've always had a special place in my personal Gunners mythology.
I should probably mention that I was living in Florida when Arsene Wenger took over the Arsenal, and it was that move, near to a little Irish Pub named "The Fly's Tie" that allowed me to follow football in earnest. Until then I'd been living in Canada, and I had no access to football beyond some indoctrination from my Scouser neighbours (which made me a Gooner rather than a Red or a Toffee because I couldn't, in good conscience, follow their clubs) and an occasional and quite rare international match. Once in Jax, however, I discovered that football was on every Saturday and Sunday at the Pub, and I became duly addicted.
16 years later and I am willing to bet that football is as much a part of my daily life as any Gooner living in London. Just ask my wife. Sure I never made it to Highbury, nor have I been to the Emirates (which, I am told, makes me no better than a poser), but I've not missed the broadcast of a game in a decade. The football news is the first thing I read in the morning. My workout gear is exclusively Arsenal gear. My list could go on, but it's probably better if I stop there.
Which brings me back to Addicted, by Tony Adams. Tony was the first captain I knew as an Arsenal fan, and there hasn't been a Captain as effective since (although Vieira came close). I couldn't help loving Tony. He embodied the Arsenal I fell in love with; he bridged the span from Graham to Rioch to Wenger; and there is a bronze statue of him (and Thierry Henry) out in front of the stadium.
As you can imagine, I was expecting to love Addicted, Adams' account of his two great addictions -- booze and football. I am thoroughly disappointed.
I had this vision of Adams as a tough, old school defender who managed to overcome alcoholism and the shame of his imprisonment for drunk driving to achieve a healthy sobriety and thereby prolong his career. I imagined him as a lovable old tough who would have received respect because he believed in the people around him. I figured he'd have an impressive footballing brain even if his social and intellectual brain was run of the mill. I was wrong on the parts that really mattered.
Tony Adams' autobiography reveals that he is not just a stupid man but a stupid footballing man (a man who should never be handed another opportunity to manage a football club). He is arrogant with little cause. He was epically selfish when he drank, and now he is just impressively selfish. He thinks too highly of himself and not highly enough of those talented players who surrounded him. He is xenophobic (though mercifully not racist based on skin colour). And, ultimately, he is a bully, which is, I think, the only reason he was an effective captain.
I tarnished one of my favourite footballers by reading this book, and next time I go for a run I will have a hard time putting on my Adams' strip. I really wish I'd avoided this piece of sporting narcissism.
... if you are not a fan of Tony Adams, but you're curious about the kind of people who become top athletes in World Sport and how they deal -- or fail to deal -- with their fame and fortune, I am pretty sure Addicted is worth reading. Just not for me, but that's because it was too personal. ...more
When I finished Roseanna again last night I thought I should write a review talking about how rare it is for me to reread a book, and how Sjöwall &When I finished Roseanna again last night I thought I should write a review talking about how rare it is for me to reread a book, and how Sjöwall & Wahloo have conjured something exceptional from me as a reader. When I started thinking about how rare it is for me to reread, however, I realized what a load of crap that is.
So rereading Roseanna isn't so special after all. It isn't some rare occurrence. It's business as usual when I find something worth reading again and again. And this book is that.
I have been listening to these books for my "first reading" and I recently reached the seventh book, The Abominable Man, wherein the interdependence of Sjöwall & Wahloo tales suddenly focused into a clear picture. They wrote ten books in their Martin Beck series, and it struck me that it is one of the only series I've read (apart from Lord of the Rings) where the authors had the entire series mapped out before they started.
I decided to test that theory by actually reading Roseanna (rather than listening), and it appears that I was correct. Beck and Kollberg are fully conceived from the first moment. There is no authorial searching for what these men will be, no feeling out their relationship and personalities. Everything is there. Everything is ready, and everything that is coming for these men (the two constants in the series so far) are there waiting for them. I can see it in their decisions, their emotions, their concerns, their actions -- everything.
I gave this book four stars when I first read it, but loved it enough to pass it on to a good friend (she loved it too). Now I have to give it five stars. I think the series itself constitutes a masterpiece, but as first chapters go, Roseanna is perfection....more
I doubt this would be interesting to many outside of literary circles, even those who are generally interested in gender studies, but for those simultI doubt this would be interesting to many outside of literary circles, even those who are generally interested in gender studies, but for those simultaneously interested in Shakespeare and heterosexuality this is an essential read.
Rebecca Ann Bach makes a compelling argument for homosociality in Shakespeare's plays, although I felt her arguments concerning the dating of heterosexuality as a concept weren't supported rigourously enough. Still, it adds depth and historical background to the discussion of sexual politics in Shakespeare's plays, and anything that adds to this discussion is worth while.
It didn't knock my socks off (like many of those she referenced have done to me in the past), but it was worth the time. I have to say, though, that I am glad to be finished. Now I can move on to things that are a smidge more fun. ...more
I exhale my breath in a long deep sigh. I've just finished listening to what is probably the most cinematic of all the Sjowall and Wahloo Beck books (I exhale my breath in a long deep sigh. I've just finished listening to what is probably the most cinematic of all the Sjowall and Wahloo Beck books (maybe not the best, but certainly the most evocative), and for the first time (despite the excellence of the entire series) I want to drop everything I'm doing and get started on the next book.
I need to know how the serious cliffhanger resolves. I need to see the fallout of everything that's happened, I need to see how these men, some of whom I hate and some of whom I love, handle the carnage they've been part of and have helped to bring about directly or indirectly.
I sit here typing with a slight pain in my back when I should be cleaning or grocery shopping, and I think of writing a book with the qualities of The Abominable Man. Its unique in the Beck series for taking the shortest time from crime to resolution. A day passes. That's all. And that is a huge departure from a series that is all about the banality of police procedure. It is a crime where the criminal might actually want to be caught, but we can't know that for sure. It's a bloody crime that leads to a crime some might call crazed (with a lone gunman on the roof of an apartment block killing police) but I call desperate.
It moves from action to action to action. It throws together two pairings of cops who hate each other, separating them from their usual, comfortable partners. It makes us care about them all. It makes us care about two of the other victims, dumb ass radio cops from earlier books. It makes us care about the murderer, to see where he is coming from. It makes us loathe the murderer's first victim, and love our eponymous hero more than we ever have before. Thus I realize that I couldn't write a book with The Abominable Man's qualities. Not from scratch. The Abominable Man is excellent because it is preceded by six other books, and those books built the milieu through which all of these men heroes, villains, victims, victimizers and buffoons move. It is a book that only patience of purpose and playing the long game could create.
I'll need seven books to get there. Better get writing. ...more
All six forewords for all six Martin Beck books I've read (in order) have made much of the authors' Marxist backgrounds. I can't remember who wrote whAll six forewords for all six Martin Beck books I've read (in order) have made much of the authors' Marxist backgrounds. I can't remember who wrote what and what they wrote exactly, but most of them are quick to warn readers of Maj Sjöwall & Per Wahlöö politics, then -- most times -- they are just as quick to let us know that those politics rarely intrude on on their writing, so we readers shouldn't have any problem enjoying their mysteries.
The writers of the forewords talk a lot about their love of the police procedural as a form, or Sjöwall & Wahlöö's impact on the writers who've followed them and their relevance today, or they talk about how well the books hold up forty years on and how much fun they are to read. Then they remind us, once again, not to worry about the authors' Socialist ideals, as though they are apologizing for Sjöwall & Wahlöö, or are ashamed to admit they love the work of a pair of pinko-Swedes.
I have no such shame. If anything, I've been disappointed throughout the series that Sjöwall & Wahlöö's politics haven't been more obvious in their books. I want more socio-economic criticism from the radical left (although their brand of Marxism is hardly radical), so I am thrilled that Polis, polis, potatismos! (the original Swedish title of Murder at the Savoy) and its Marxist ending finally satisfied my craving for more.
The criticism is expressed in a feeling Martin Beck has while walking home after solving the murder of industrialist Viktor Palmgren. It's a feeling he can't shake because a poor man, a beaten man, a useless man waits to spend his life in prison for killing Palmgren, and Palmgren was the man who kept the poor man poor by making him poorer still, beat him into submission through the bludgeon of greed and made him useless to himself and everyone around him. It's Beck's sadness that carries the Marxist opinions of Sjöwall & Wahlöö, and in this series that I have thoroughly enjoyed, I have finally found a moment I can also love. Beck walking home is my favourite moment so far.
I'm not expecting to see much overt Marxism in the rest of the books -- Sjöwall & Wahlöö tend to be too subtle for that -- but that will simply make me savour this book's chapter all the more. ...more
My introduction to the X-Men, many years ago, was the Dark Phoenix Saga (even though it was already a couple of years old when I found it). Up until tMy introduction to the X-Men, many years ago, was the Dark Phoenix Saga (even though it was already a couple of years old when I found it). Up until then I'd been consuming Namor and the staples: Batman, Superman, Captain America, Spiderman. My starting place was not a bad place to start; it was, in fact, a pretty fine place to start. Maybe too fine. Starting with one of the finest chapters of the X-Men might be why I've mostly been a passing fan of Marvel's mutants over the years. Nothing could quite live up to the excellence of the Chris Claremont & John Byrne partnership.
I'd pop into the X-Men for a visit if I heard an arc was worth reading or if a crossover made a visit essential, or even buy a mini-series with an X-Man I liked, but I was never an avid reader.
I had no idea until recently that my introduction to the X-Men was as significant to my personal mythology as it was and is, but somewhere in my squishy brain bits that first moment with the X-Men planted some seeds that germinated into my contribution to our youngest daughter's name.
When I chose the name nine years ago (a name which was supposed to be my son Milos' when he and his twin sister Bronte were born, but he was a boy, "Damn it!" and he screwed up my plans), everyone wondered why I would chose a name like the one I chose, especially when I instantly replaced it with a nickname. I couldn't provide an answer beyond, "I dunno. I've always just loved those names." The name and the nickname felt right.
As soon as I started reading I was greeted by an old, old friend -- Shadowcat. She's late for her return to Professor Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, and she finds an empty school upon her arrival, so she starts walking through walls and sinking through floors trying to figure out where everyone's gone (she can phase through anything, in case you didn't know). And I am thrilled. I instantly remember how much I've loved Shadowcat through the years, and I hope that she'll bump into Wolverine soon (in the movies, Rogue's relationship with Wolvie is based on the comic book relationship between him and Shadowcat). Instead, she stumbles into a school assembly and shrugs off the embarrassment at her lateness when the new Headmistress, Emma Frost (former White Queen of the Hellfire Club), mocks her. She gives Emma a sassy tongue lashing and reminds the White Queen that the first time they met Emma tried to kill her, derailing her search for the X-Men and unleashing a Dark Phoenix. I snort at Shadowcat's telling blow, then remember that Dark Phoenix was indeed the first appearance of Kitty Pryde.
And I start to wonder without any serious thought whether "Kitty" has anything to do with my Kitty Kat's nickname; something is shaking those roots, but I ignore it and keep reading until it comes clear.
You see ... another old favourite appears right near the end(view spoiler)[ Colossus, resurrected from the dead by alien baddy, Ord (hide spoiler)], and he calls Kitty by the name only he calls her -- "Katya" -- and I know the source of my contribution to Scoutie's name: Katya Gwendolyn Scout. I should have known all along, but somehow the source slipped away from me only to be revealed in the best X-Man comic since the Dark Phoenix Saga.
I think they're fabulous. Both the comic and the revelation it catalyzed. And I love comics. And Joss Whedon. And most of all I love my Scoutie Kat.
*For all you oldsters out there: did you know that Joss Whedon's Dad, Tom Whedon, was the head writer for The Electric Company? How fucking cool is that?...more
Nolan himself recognizes Loeb's influence on his Dark Knight trilogy, and it is everywhere in these pages, but Loeb's The Long Halloween is much betteNolan himself recognizes Loeb's influence on his Dark Knight trilogy, and it is everywhere in these pages, but Loeb's The Long Halloween is much better than what Nolan did on screen. It takes the post-Miller Dark Knight back to his kinder gentler detective past without the cheese and stupidity. Loeb's Batman is morose and grey, but he's not bitter, nasty, or "dark," which makes him much more welcoming to the reader. I think this is the ideal beginning for anyone interested in Batman. Plus, it's not just a great place to start for Bruce/Batman, but also for an intro to all the major villainous players. ...more