When last we met, I was taking what I imagined was a calm, reasoned look at this business of being a fan. Because the heavens like a good jest, five days later I was watching Liverpool (minus ex-favorite player Fernando Torres) versus Chelsea (plus ex-favorite player Fernando Torres), and absolutely losing my shit as I contradicted everything in the aforementioned post.
I booed Torres when he left the field. I screamed and embraced my Liverpool-watching pal when Raul Meireles scored. When the final whistle blew, leaving Liverpool with a 1-0 win, I posted some frankly embarassing stuff about my devotion to the club on Twitter.
So much as I'd like to pretend otherwise, I'm just as stupid and irrational as anyone else. I apologize for the confusion.
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That day seemed to herald a turnaround in my sporting (watching) life; not only did Liverpool win, but the Packers (representing good) defeated the Steelers in the Super Bowl, and it emerged that Peter Forsberg was returning to the Avalanche. Combined with an Evander Kane-fueled Thrashers win over the Rangers a few days later (with me in some posh seats, thanks to the Elk) and it looked like all sunshine and roses from here on out, up to the inevitable Thrashers-Avalanche Stanley Cup. Since then, though, the wheels have come off. Liverpool could only manage a draw against Wigan, Forsberg's retired and the Avalanche are tanking, I also saw the Thrashers in an uninspired loss to Carolina, and labor strife threatens the 2011 NFL season. Sports, man. They'll break your heart.
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I have been reading, yes, yes.
#5 -- "The Ghost Map" by Steven Johnson
#6 -- "The Siege" by Ismail Kadare
#7 -- "War Without Death" by Mark Maske
"The Ghost Map" is an interesting book elevated to another level by the sheer enthusiasm (if that's the right word, given the subject matter) the author brings to it. Johnson -- a really good writer -- thinks this stuff is fascinating and he really wants to share it with you. It's hard not to be swept along. The book's about a 19th-century cholera outbreak in London and some non-traditional thinking by a few of the residents that led to a breakthrough in how the disease was viewed. It's good stuff.
I love Kadare, but "The Siege" didn't do a whole lot for me. It's actually an older book ("The Castle," which I can now scratch off my want list) repurposed. It's a metaphor for late-1960s Albania and it felt like it could've been half the length. Not bad but he's got a bunch that are better.
"War Without Death" eases me gently into the football offseason. Maske spent a year following the NFC East teams around and this is the result. I applaud him for breaking out of the "follow one team" thing, which has been done so many times before, but can't help but think that it would have been better if he'd just ... followed one team. As it is it jumps around a lot and some interesting threads are lost. It's good, but could've been much better.