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Book Notes

November 21, 2012

Hope Solo's autobiography does not disappoint

Women’s soccer has an interesting history in this country. When Brandi Chastain clinched the World Cup title for the United States in 1999 with her game-winning shot in a penalty kick shootout against China it led to an upsurge of interest in the women’s game. It also led to a lot of questioning of Chastain’s motives when she pulled off her jersey leading many to wonder if Nike hadn’t paid her to advertise its sports bra. Whatever the truth, the lasting image of Chastain’s celebration was that women’s soccer as a popular spectator sport was here to stay.

The problem is that it didn’t happen. In the 13 years since Chastain’s victorious kick, three U.S. women’s professional soccer leagues have bit the dust. Apparently the American public loves the sport when our women compete on the international stage but could care less when it comes to domestic competition.

The men’s game hasn’t exactly caught fire either, but at least its domestic league has survived up until now.

As long as we’re on the subject of soccer and international popularity please allow me to digress for a moment and express my pet peeve about what otherwise is a beautiful sport. How can the world’s most popular competition, the World Cup, allow its championship match to be decided by penalty kicks in case of a tie? That would be like having the World Series decided by a home run competition, or the Super Bowl being determined by field goal attempts. It makes no sense.

The World Cup final should be decided by the “golden goal,” the phrase used for a winning goal in sudden-death overtime. If the sport is worried about the condition of the athletes for a match that goes on endlessly then simply allow unlimited substitution in overtime. If it ends up being the “survival of the fittest,” well, so be it. It would encourage teams to try to score and get rid of the idea of forcing penalty kicks in the hope that your opponent will screw up what should be a sure thing (i.e., making the shot) more than you do.

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  • Libraries provide vital services Some people think that libraries are becoming obsolete due to the Internet and the growing popularity of e-books. Nothing could be further from the truth. Libraries are a repository for more than just the written word and reference materials. They provide a basic need for every community and will for the foreseeable future.

    April 17, 2014

  • WWII collection grows with 'Those Angry Days' The main lesson history teaches us is to learn from our mistakes and not repeat them. There’s also an old saying that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Perhaps the two notions have something in common because we continually prove that history does indeed repeat itself.

    April 10, 2014

  • 'Blue Jasmine' shows talent of troubled Allen It's a shame that Woody Allen is caught up in controversy in his personal life because it deflects from his talent as a filmmaker. You can see the brilliance in his most recent release, "Blue Jasmine" now available for rental at the Cooperstown Library.

    April 3, 2014

  • 'Nebraska' helps give Dern his due Bruce Dern has been a character actor for over half a century yet hadn't really gotten the acclaim he deserves.

    March 27, 2014

  • Book captures both sides of 'Splended Splinter' Ted Williams is an American icon. As the mainstay of the Boston Red Sox from 1939-1960 he was one of baseball’s all-time greats, a first ballot Hall-of-Famer, and perhaps the greatest hitter the sport has ever known. He was admired for his devotion to the game, his service to his country, and his support for children with cancer. But there was an ugly side to him too. Williams’ life was a set of contradictions where his talent and humanity were offset by fits of rage and cold-heartedness.

    March 20, 2014

  • Wouk has amazing body of epic work One of the problems with eulogies is that they only seem to occur posthumously. I often wonder why people who have produced something noteworthy aren't honored until after they die and don't get to hear the acclaim they deserve. In that vein I want to recognize an aging classic novelist while he is still with us.

    March 13, 2014

  • 'Miracle' shows when Olympics were pure The Winter Olympics ended recently and somehow they seemed to have lost their luster. It wasn’t so much that they were in Sochi where most of the events were on tape delay. It was more due to the new events (many we have never heard of) that have diluted the games. The Winter Olympics have gone from an intimate edition of their summer counterpart to one where it appears medal counts and commercialism is all that matters.

    March 6, 2014

  • Sometimes bad films, books called 'Classic' About 40 years ago a movie was made that set the standard for overhyped and underwhelming films. It was "The Great Gatsby" starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow. Redford was the hottest thing in Hollywood at the time and Time Magazine ran a cover story on the film. When it was finally released it completely bombed.

    February 27, 2014

  • British films that will warm your heart With all the snow and sub-zero temperatures this winter there are enough nights where the easiest thing to do is hunker down and enjoy a good movie. I thought I’d offer a few suggestions with a British twist. These are films with Americans that are filmed in England. The one thing they all have in common is that they’ll warm your heart in the end.

    February 20, 2014

  • Giants-Dodgers rivalry entertains One of the fiercest rivalries in all of sports is the Giants and Dodgers. These two proud franchises have been going at it for well over 100 years. First it was New York vs. Brooklyn. Now it's San Francisco vs. Los Angeles. There's no love lost between them. Victories over each other are sweeter than those over any other team. Even when they're not going head-to-head it feels good when their arch-rival loses. If you're a Giants' fan, hating the Dodgers is a way of life (and vice versa).

    February 13, 2014