The Brazilians’ fear of the goalkeeper

[*Blogpost title with apologies to Peter Handke.]

Neymar aside, it’s very hard to work up much enthusiasm for the Brazilian XI in the World Cup. The general lack of confidence and guile on display almost reminds me of England. How about that for an insulting comparison?  At each game I’ve seen so far, the singing of the national anthem has been the only time the players look roughly in synch. Will they  beat Colombia on Friday? I wouldn’t count on it. Ah well,  at least the host nation has a quality player between the posts this time. Not that the locals can ever get all that excited over whoever wears the No 1 jersey:

Júlio César, the starting goalkeeper for Brazil, is a frangueiro (chicken man). He is also a peru (turkey) and, on occasion, a mão de alface (or, roughly, lettuce hands). These are the printable euphemisms that Brazilians have for goalkeepers… In Brazil, goalkeepers are special, and not in a good way. They are the Little League right fielders, the last boy picked. In pickup games on the countless asphalt courts around this country, children usually play a form of rock-paper-scissors to decide which unlucky soul has to begin the game at goalkeeper. In the slightly more organized games in which adults rent a field to play on, anyone who agrees to play goalkeeper always plays free of charge.

[Via Simon Romero]

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“Good lecturer, ugly shoes.”


HT: TaxProfBlog via Althouse

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Along with direct rule, the French brought their penal code to Vietnam. Goodwill largely motivated them, since Vietnamese law beheaded thieves and had adulterous women trampled to death by elephants. But French jurisprudence confused and convulsed Vietnam’s traditional legal system without creating a viable alternative. It could not handle subtle Vietnamese judicial nuances, such as refraining from pronouncing a defendant’s name in court lest he “lose face”. It also contributed to the erosion of Vietnamese society in which, according to Confucian tenets, the father arbitrated family altercations or called on a respected dignitary to mediate a dispute informally. Besides, French justice lost its credibility when colonial police could wantonly jail suspects for years without putting them on trial.

Stanley Karnow, “Vietnam: A History”.

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Another of my 20 essential Brazilian songs from the Sunday Times.  The playlist is on Spotify too.

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Angela’s mother employed her colour very much as she practised certain winning usages of smile and voice to obtain indulgence which meant much to her and which took nothing from anyone else. Then, too, she was possessed of a keener sense of humour than her daughter; it amused her when by herself to take lunch at an exclusive restaurant whose patrons would have been panic-stricken if they had divined the presence of a “coloured” woman no matter how little her appearance differed from theirs. It was with no idea of disclaiming her own that she sat in orchestra seats which Philadelphia denied to coloured patrons. But when Junius or indeed any other dark friend accompanied her she was the first to announce that she liked to sit in the balcony. or gallery, as indeed she did.

Jessie Redmon Fauset, “Plum Bun: A Novel Without A Moral”

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Doyle Family, 2010

“Doyle Family, 2010″, from “Mixed Blood”, portraits of mixed-race families by the photographer known simply as Cyjo. [HT @Lucas_Jackson]

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Unflinching jazz memoir title of the year

We have a clear winner, courtesy of Art Pepper’s widow: “Art: Why I Stuck with a Junkie Jazzman”. Sounds like a very good read though.

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Soft power, 1945

Coke ad Paris 1945

Coke means “We’re your allies.” Magazine ad from the end of world War Two. HT:   & 

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Transatlantic language barrier

Matthew Barzun, American ambassador to the UK, on adjusting to the local way of speaking English:

In my work it sometimes causes difficulties, like when I told a British staff member his work was “quite good,” causing a confused expression. He processed it as, “not quite good enough.”

But mostly, I find it pretty funny.

“Scheme” is one of my favourites. My British friends use it as a synonym for plan. They’ll say, “our financial scheme” or “retirement scheme.” For Americans, the word has connotations of scam. “Retirement scheme” sounds like thinking you’d read out in an indictment against fraudsters. The modifier “ponzi-” is inferred by Americans but implied by the Brits.

Processed”? Yet another example of continental drift, you might say.

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Brazil, Brazil


In today’s Sunday Times [£], my list of 20 essential Brazilian songs, from João Gilberto to Carlinhos Brown, Maria Bethânia to Tom Zé. I’d assumed there’d be a feast of the country’s music on TV during the World Cup, but so far I’ve been disappointed. ITV has Ary Barroso’s “Aquarela do Brasil” as its signature tune, but the Beeb went for Stevie Wonders’s “Another Star”,  a fine song but a little ersatz all the same. My list concentrates on the golden age of MPB and bossa nova. Unlike England’s footballers, Gilberto Gil & Co – all entering bus-pass territory now – really do constitute a golden generation.

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