Category Archives: Sport

Be a square

Premise 1 – Chess is fascinating.

Premise 2 –  Bobby Fischer is the most fascinating player in the history of the game.

Conclusion – Watch this documentary

Try the supreme yet brief BBC documentary – click here and play the third video down.

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David Foster Wallace as Religious Experience

I dipped into the world of David Foster Wallace for the first time recently, boy its pretty deep. DFW was an American author of contemporary fiction who committed suicide last year. Here’s his mammoth article, E Unibus Pluram, on televisual dominance, irony and the future of modern fiction for your reading pleasure. You’ll need an hour or two combined with peace and quiet, and probably a dictionary, but it’s well worth the effort. If you want to start with something lighter then I suggest this stunning article about Roger Federer, a truly gladdening piece of literary sports journalism. If you really want to go deep then Infinite Jest is where it’s at…I’m still psyching myself up.

If you’re still a little daunted by volume of reading required then you could try the DFW experience via the medium of film. First-time director John Krasinki has attempted to film the unfilmable by adapting DFW’s collection of short stories Brief Interviews with Hideous Men. It’s out in the US this month so will hopefully be here soon. Here’s the trailer…

I like short shorts…and long articles

I read this exceptional article about the Denmark national team circa the early 1980’s when it first appeared on the Guardian website a couple of weeks ago. It is a great example of the new standards in web-based journalism. Leaving aside it shooting economic models of the media to pieces, the web gives a unique visual context and depth to this article. Whilst I do vaguely recall the beautifully designed Hummel kit – I seem to recollect Southampton having one too – I was too young to remember any of the key moments featured in this excellent piece. With video only a click away, so too further reading, I can witness and contextualise the very moments that inspired the author’s reminisces. Furthermore it is purely an internet-only piece, not for print. Not so unusual, but if admire the length of the article – no advert or page limitations here – then you begin to understand that this article is conceived and delivered with the internet in its heart. It just wouldn’t be the same in print.

A 4-1 defeat amongst hints of nightmares.

My beloved Recreativo Hackney were away to second-placed Llamas FC yesterday afternoon. We ended up on the wrong end of a 4-1 scoreline. That’s the same end that normally makes you whinge about all the day’s knocks about 19% more. But as Joe and I cycled gingerly back from the park, I felt great. Yes we’d been exposed by younger, slicker opponents whose star is on the rise. Yes we were shattered, but only because we’d given everything we had. We’d raged against the dying of the light. After going in 2-0 down at half-time we came out strong and had their heads ringing. It wasn’t glossy stuff but there was blood pumping in our veins. We pegged them back to 2-1. Yet we couldn’t keep up the intensity. One silly mistake later and the game was lost.

This week, in exposing one nightmarish aspect of modern society and then giving a platform to another, the wizened print media have managed to prove both a continuing relevance and a peculiar ability to self-destruct.  The thread running through both cases has been increasingly important role played by the new kid on the block, social networking. Forgive the stretch but I wonder if the print media feel slightly like I do today? Battered, bruised and beaten by the yoot, but still a contender.

The case of oil company Trafigura and it’s legal firm Carter-Ruck, highlighted by the Guardian, exposed the Orwellian world of the super-injunction and the truly frightening prospect of other unknown-unknowns. I reckon the shape-shifting lizards that David Icke claims rule the world probably have a super-injunction against their existence being reported. We should all feel proud that the print media are still fulfilling their role as the ‘Fourth Estate’. It’s not all seasonal recipes and wall charts; the black heart of an arrogant and greedy oil company was well and truly exposed. That Tweeters also helped to turn up the lights on the media black-out means that the Trafigura scandal stands as a great example of how social networking can help journalists get to the bottom of a story.

This pride quickly gave way to revulsion with the publication of Jan Moir’s abhorrent piece of, fingers crossed, career suicide. Linking the untimely death of Stephen Gately to his sexual habits through a heady mix of insinuation and innuendo is simply pathetic. I must say it is strange to be in the righteous moral orthodoxy on this one. This must be the kind of moral outrage that Mail readers feel when they hear about politically correct immigrants getting over-paid jobs at the BBC and making prank phone-calls to old actresses from the Good Life in their native tongue.

It is easy to joke about the editorial policy at the Daily Mail but this is a low. That a record-breaking number of complaints were made to the Press Complaints Commission and several big-hitting companies demanded the removal of their ads from the on-line article was remarkable. That this was in response to what Moir has complained of as, ‘heavily orchestrated internet campaign’, is even more exciting. Too bloody right there was an orchestrated internet campaign! Why does she say this as if it is some kind of technological liberal conspiracy against her? Oh those bloody lefties with their bloody internet, did you know, thanks to this Twitter, there are some kids out there who can only concentrate long enough to understand 140-characters of bigoted rant before they think about knife crime?

The co-ordinated response excites as it underlines the potential power of social networking. The instantaneous connectivity on offer saw the offending article, and info on how to formally complain, disseminated with lightning speed securing a harmoniously loud response. It is a little depressing that the editors at the Mail will ultimately respond quicker to the loss of advertising revenue than any potential PCC action…but nevertheless, thanks to Pied Piper’s like Stephen Fry and Derren Brown they will surely think twice about printing such unmitigated bollocks.