Beach Soccer In Brazil


Taken on a beach near the town of Ubatuba, Brazil.

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Soccer in Sao Paulo


Every Monday night I play indoor soccer with a small group of middle-aged guys somewhere in Liberdade. I’m not sure where the field is exactly because my friend picks me up and drives me there and Sao Paulo isn’t one of those cities where you always know where you are. It’s a maze and most streets are lined with tall, concrete walls.

The game lasts two hours. When the game is over everyone retires to the bar adjoining the field and drinks beer. Ice cold Ibrahma beer to be exact.

I still don’t know which part is better.

And here is yours truly taking a strategic break…

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Sao Paulo FC’s Field at Night


Last Friday I was lucky enough to visit Sao Paulo Football Club’s stadium.

It was empty since there was no game. Inside, only a sushi restaurant and gym were open for business. I went to the sushi restaurant, strolled around the field, and got to live out one of my minor dreams: I pretended to be a football coach. However, my fun didn’t last long. A security guard interrupted my fantasies and sent my wife and I packing.

And here is my brief stint as coach:

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A History of Humor: 14 Humorists & Their Best Work


Recently I read Paul Johnson’s Humorists–an enjoyable survey of the best English speaking  humorists from the 18th to the early 20th century.

Follows is Johnson’s list of favorite writers, actors, directors, and painters and an example of their best work.

Presented this way I think one can quickly see part of the evolution of humor and comedy in the past 300 years.

1. William Hogarth (1697-1764)

Johnson writes of the painter and print-maker: “The safe laugh at the expense of a sad world is one of the chief effects a professional humorist seeks to bring about, and it was Hogarth’s principal strength.”

Johnson considered Hogarth’s Marriage à-la-mode’s six panel print to be his most popular and must successful work. It’s a story told in six captivating illustrations. The best and most amusing panel illustrates a husband catching his wife with another man. Notice the man sneaking out the window:

2. Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

Johnson believes Franklin is the father of the American one liner who inspired notables like Mark Twain. His best comedic book, Poor Richard’s Almanac is filled with them.

Highlights include: Read the rest of this article »

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The Secret to a Good Story: Make the First 10 Minutes Count


Last night I saw Ball of Fire directed by Howard Hawks and written, in part, by the great Billy Wilder.

It’s about a group of professors (based off Snow White’s Seven Dwarfs) who are trying to write an encyclopedia but get delayed when they allow the endearing and inciting Barbara Stanwyck to crash in their home offices.

The opening few scenes deserve the most attention for they swiftly set the story and nimbly introduce a rather absurd group of characters.

The best bit revolves around an elderly house maid interrogating the professors about a jar of missing jam. When none of the professors confess to the crime she grimly states her punishment: no jam for the remainder of the week.

The look of horror is priceless:

In the background we see the ever lovable S.Z. Sakall grinning like a school boy because he knows the punishment will pain his peers.

Scriptwriter Ben Garant would do well to use Ball of Fire as an example in his masterclass where he argues that all good, popular scripts define the setting of the story and each major character within it in the first 10 minutes.

Writers, not just screenwriters, should always try to build their world and explain their characters as quickly as possible.

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The Stars My Destination


Just finished reading The Stars My Destination

It opens with a man adrift in space. A ship passes by, but doesn’t stop to help. The man explodes with rage and resolves to rescue himself and get revenge.

His quest brings him all over the solar system and ultimately to the top tier of Earth’s political and commercial elite.

The book is filled with simple, gripping dialogue:

“There’s got to be more to life than just living,” Foyle said to the robot.

“Then find it for yourself, sir. Don’t ask the world to stop moving because you have doubts.”

The author, Alfred Bester, also sounds like a great guy. From wikipedia:

[Bester] had no children, and according to legend, left everything to his bartender, Joe Suder.

Read the book. Michael Dirda, America’s most-read-man, also loves and reccomends the book.

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I Know a Little German


This weekend I had the pleasure of watching Top Secret for the 8,324 time.

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Short Story Publication


Juncture: A Writerly Newspaper has published one of my short stories! It’s about a man obsessed with management techniques. It’s called, The Manner of Leadership.

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