Movie Review: Once in a Lifetime


**** Once in a Lifetime (2006)

They say Americans don’t like soccer and that it will never be as popular here as it is in the rest of the world.  Yet I remember growing up in a time and place where not only did I play youth soccer but cheered for a successful American soccer team that played before sell-out crowds in an American Football stadium.  This documentary proves that I wasn’t imagining things in my childhood.  The New York Cosmos were real, they were good, and they were big.

All the figures involved in making the Cosmos – the players and the executives – are all there with the exception of the late Steve Ross and Pele (who wanted too much money to be interviewed).  Still it’s a rollicking film with conflicting opinions showing that tempestuous feelings among the Cosmos haven’t faded with time.  It’s an amazing story of how a team basically made of semi-pros playing at a small college football stadium grew into one of the first international all-star teams playing to a full house in the Meadowlands. And more amazing that some of those semi-pros stuck around long enough for the surreal experience of playing with Pele.

Ross invested a lot of his Warner Communications money into bringing stars like  Pele and Giorgio Chinalgia to the USA as well as making the Cosmos an attraction with cheerleaders, an exploding scoreboard, and Bugs Bunny as a mascot.  The free-spending ways also contributed to the demise of the NASL as other teams could not keep up, not to mention that the NASL expanded to way too many franchises.

The documentary uses graphics, music, and editing techniques that give it a 70’s vibe.  I really enjoyed it and it made me very nostalgic for the golden age of the NASL and the 70’s in New York.  Highly recommended for soccer fans or anyone interested in an unlikely American success story.

Soccer Week in Review


My soccer-watching exploits for the past week.

AFC Ajax vs. Vitesse (14 Aug 2010) – I have to admit that this is the kind of game I enjoy watching.  Granted I’m sure the football purist found the defensive lapses on both sides lacking.  But I liked how the lead changed several times in the first half.  I like how three goals were scored in about 5 minutes of the first half.  I like how Ajax scored a goal within seconds of kicking off the second half.  I like that the over-matched Vitesse despite being outplayed by Ajax seemed to have a chance of pulling off an upset, at least until Ajax scored their fourth goal.  I like that Ajax won.  Match report.

Chicago Fire vs. New England Revolution (18 Aug 2010) –   Tuned in hoping to see the Revs extend their 8-game unbeaten streak and streak of not allowing goals in league games, but alas it didn’t finish well.  The Revolution took an early lead in a very entertaining first half on a goal by Marko Perovic.  Chicago equalized in the 32nd minute.  Then the game began to get bogged down with penalties with most of the calls – and some non-calls – going against New England.  The most egregious referee error was not calling a penalty when Perovic was knocked down in the Chicago penalty area in the 90th minute.  Boston Globe coverage.

FC Bayern München vs. VfL Wolfsburg (20 Aug 2010) –  I watched this game on ESPN 3 which didn’t show the first 30 minutes of the game nor was there any commentary.  It was interesting to watch a televised match with only the sound of cheers and drumming of the fans.  The game was very defensive when I first tuned in with Bayern protecting a 1-0 lead.  There were so many back passes it seemed the two sides were playing toward their own goals.  The second half opened with Wolfsburg making an impressive barrage of long-range shots stopped only by the goal post before finally putting in a header off a corner kick.  With the score tied Bayern took control of the ball and got many free kicks due to the suddenly desperate physicality of Wolfsburg.  It looked like it would end a 1-1 tie but instead Bayern won the game dramatically on a stoppage time goal by Bastian Schweinsteiger.  Match report.

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How Steampunk can Save Librarianship: Libraries Redefined (Part 2) (via PC Sweeney’s Blog)


I shared this link on my tumblelog Portals of Discovery and it’s proved to be very popular. It’s an interesting comparison of two pretty cool things – steampunk and libraries – that could’ve gimmicky premise but it works.

How Steampunk can Save Librarianship: Libraries Redefined (Part 2) As I am continuing to explore the experiences that are changing how I view librarianship, I came across the steampunk movement. What is a steampunk you ask? Well, steampunk is a genre of speculative futurist fiction where the world is powered by steam and the design of the future is modeled after the Victorian craftsmanship of the 1800’s. Yet, in this steam powered … Read More

via PC Sweeney's Blog

Book Review: The Boston Irish by Thomas H. O’Connor


Author: Thomas H. O’Connor
Title: The Boston Irish
Publication Info: 9780316626613
ISBN: Back Bay Books (1997)

Previously Read by the Same Author: Eminent Bostonians

Summary/Review: Subtitled “A Political History” this is the Dean of Boston History’s story of the rise of Irish from subjugated minority to political power in Boston.  While there is a lot more that could be said of Boston Irish history this book focuses on the Irish mayors and a few other political leaders as well as Irish-American Catholic bishops attempts to help lead their flock into the Boston mainstream.  O’Connor follows to trends – the business-like, accommodationist attempts to work with the traditional Yankee power elite and the more confrontational, neighborhood-focused style emphasized by John Fitzgerald and James Michael Curley.  This was an interesting summary of politics in Boston history and especially informative of the big figures in recent history of Boston.

Recommended booksHow the Irish Became White by Noel Ignatiev, All Souls: A Family Story from Southie by Michael Patrick MacDonald, and Ethnics and Enclaves by William Michael Demarco.

Rating: ***

Book Review: The Purpose of the Past by Gordon S. Wood


Author:Gordon S. Wood
Title: The Purpose of the Past
Publication Info:Blackstone Audio, Inc., 2008
ISBN: 9781433242137

Previously Read by Same Author: The Radicalism of the American Revolution

Summary/Review: This is a collection of book reviews written by the esteemed historian Gordon S. Wood.  Many of them criticize history writers for presentism, post-modernism, political history, and scientific quantitative analysis.  Coming under Wood’s scrutiny are authors I admire such as Gary Wills, Barbara Tuchman, and Simon Schama.  Yet despite this, I like Wood’s well-written and well-supported take on how history should be told.  Regardless of Wood’s ultimate opinion of these works, there are a lot of books I want to add to my reading list.

Recommended booksPracticing History by Barbara Tuchman
Rating: ***

Normal Distribution in Library Thing


At library school I took the required course on the role of research.  Each week the professor would draw graphs all over the dry erase board and then with vigor mark out the bell curves on each of them with his marker.  I didn’t much get it then, and I don’t get it now but looking at my Library Thing page this jumped out at me:

Scary isn’t it.  The distribution of stars I award to books I’ve read does indeed form a bell curve.  At least on the integers if not on the half-stars.

Now someone should run a statistical analysis to tell me what this all means.

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Beer Review: Wormtown Freakin’ Unbelievable IPA


Beer: Freakin’ Unbelievable IPA
Brewer: Wormtown Brewing Co.
Source: Draft
Rating: ** (6/7 of 10)

Comments: Kudos to the marketing geniuses at this Worcester, MA brewery for coming up with an irresistible name.  The beer came in a tulip style glass which displayed it’s dark amber color and plentiful carbonation.  The scent was flowery and the taste was a good balance of bitter hops and a sweet citrus aftertaste.  An interesting beer that is not like other IPA’s I’ve sampled.  I’d like to try more beers from this brewery.

Beer Review: Ommegang Witte


Beer: Witte Ale
Brewer: Brewery Ommegang
Source: Draft
Rating: ** (6 of 10)

Comments: This Belgian style beer comes from Cooperstown, NY and is an attractive cloudy, pale yellow beer served with a slice of orange.  The aroma is grassy and earthy and the taste is sharp and tangy with a citrus sweet aftertaste.  The head disappeared quickly and left behind moderate lacing.  Overall this was a decent beer, crisp and refreshing, and suited to a hot summer evening.

This Week in Soccer


Here’s the report on my first week as a novice soccer fan.  See my previous post Forming an Association with Football for more details.

USA v. Brazil (10 Aug 2010) – A friendly match in the New Meadowlands stadium in New Jersey to thank the US fans for their World Cup support.  Supposedly the experienced US side fresh from the World Cup would have something to show to a young Brazilian team featuring many players appearing in their first international match.  Instead, it turned into an embarrassing rout with stylish Brazilian play exposing the weakness of the USA’s back line with attack after attack after attack.  Only great goalkeeping by Tim Howard and Brad Guzan prevented Brazil from running up the score.  More on this debacle from the Boston Globe.

At the very least seeing Brazilian players in the Meadowlands reminded me of the glory days of Pele and the New York Cosmos.

Mexico vs. Spain (11 Aug 2010) – I stopped in a pub in Boston for supper on Wednesday night and they had Spain’s first World Cup championship friendly at Mexico on the TV.  This game was Spain’s first defense of a lesser-known title, the Unofficial Football World Championship.  Basically the UFWC folks have created a basic title system akin to boxing championships tracing back to the earliest international football match in 1872.  When Spain defeated the Netherlands in the World Cup championship they ended the Dutch run of 21 title defenses and unified the UFWC with the official world championship.  Mexico had a good chance of snatching the title away from Spain with an early first half goal but David Silva of Spain equalized in stoppage time just before the end of the game (the UFWC champion retains the title in a tie).  The drama of the moment was lost on me because the Univision broadcast for some reason reset the clock at zero at the start of the second half so I had thought I was watching the first half until the players started shaking hands.

Bayern Munich vs. Real Madrid (13 Aug 2010) –  Yet another friendly, this team matched two European club powers to contest the Beckenbauer Cup in tribute to the Bayern great Franz Beckenbauer.  It was fun to watch some of the best players in the world duke it out but the game ended as 0-0 tie with Real Madrid winning the cup in a penalty shootout.  Real Madrid’s goalkeeper Iker Casillas proved to be the hero of the match with several dramatic saves.

This leads me to a question which will probably betray my ignorance and American heritage:  How is it that with the goals in soccer being so enormous that there are so many scoreless games?  I mean if you ever stand by one of those nets it would seem impossible for a ball not to get in there no matter how good the keeper and the defense.


This weekend was too busy to watch soccer so I didn’t see any games of the teams I purportedly am following.  I did learn that as a supporter of Everton and the US national team I can be double embarrassed by Tim Howard’s fumble in the penalty area which allowed Blackburn to score the only goal of the game:

I’ve also I discovered a German team with the best name ever:  Wormatia Worms. Granted it’s funnier in English if you imagine annelids playing soccer, and ignore that Worms is the name of city in Germany.  Still, if the Wormatia Worms played higher than the fourth division in Germany I’d definitely start watching their games.

Photopost: Friday Evening Hayride at Drumlin Farm


Last night we returned to Drumlin Farm for the Friday Evening Hayride.  Farmer Caroline drove the tractor out to through the fields. Along the way Drumlin Farm educator Debbie taught us that we were in fact taking a strawride and that Drumlin Farm has been under cultivation for 250 years.  Of course, around these parts I wondered “only 250 years?”

We stopped by a campfire to roast marshmallows and make s’mores.  Then we sang “She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Drumlin” for Farmer Caroline and a song about a farm called “Muscle and Arm.”  Then we heard a native American story about our special evening visitor, a screech owl!

A good time was had by all.

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