Recommended reading: cricket and shonky bank robberies

Posted on June 22, 2011

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I’ve been reading an awful lot of good journalism recently, with the result that I want to share it with others. Hopefully from reading what I write, you’ll have a similar appreciation of these articles – all of which are available online for free – which tread the same sort of style and thought patterns as the stuff I do.

So, Cricket? Maybe? by Michael Schur and Nate DiMeo at Grantland
I think it was the 2006 World Cup where the BBC pundits (Hansen, Shearer and Lineker) revelled in replaying for their home audience a clip from American coverage of a World Cup match. (To be fair, they had very little else to analyse, given that England were, as usual, woeful in the tournament.) The clip had some horrific commentary, with two loud Americans shouting about an “offensive player” (winger) bearing down the wing and putting a cross into the “danger zone rectangle” (penalty box, to you and me). It was a cheap laugh, but I’ve remembered it five years on, and it tickled me enough to mention it again. Americans misunderstanding sports which seem categorically easy is always funny, because it answers our best beliefs that Americans are a) self-centred, b) lazy and c) stupid.

This is marginally different. Schur and DiMeo are in on the joke: they don’t really care about cricket at the start, but they have a wide-eyed enthusiasm – the kind which pervades the entirety of Grantland, which is a fresh-out-of-the-womb creation from a pre-eminent ESPN sportswriter. Regardless, it’s 12,000 words of excellent fish-out-of-water writing on a sport which we find engaging and integral (and which Americans categorically don’t, despite the fact that some of the world’s largest and fastest-developing countries (India says hi!) do). Read it, and laugh with them, not necessarily at them. An example:

The Basic Rules, Best We Can Tell
Batter then hits ball, in any direction he chooses, or just kind of blocks the ball from hitting the wicket. The batters can run or not run, depending on where the ball goes, and each tries to reach the opposite batter’s box area before the defense can break the wicket with the ball; each time they do this = one run. Ball reaches the boundary of the field on the ground = four runs. Ball sails over boundary on the fly (like a home run) = six runs.

US man stages $1 bank robbery to get state healthcare
This is another “laugh at America” story, except this is just sad and quietly heroic. You look at the attached picture and realise that behind James Varrone’s eyes isn’t madness – which if you’re quickly flicking through, you might take – but is in fact desperation and frustration.

A former Coca-Cola delivery man loses his job, and with it his salary and health insurance. He can’t afford to pay for treatment for debilitating problems, so he robs a bank so that when he goes to prison he can be treated. He does it quietly and efficiently, trying his best to avoid panicking people (there was no weapon, no hostages. He simply told the teller what he was doing, then sat waiting for the police to arrest him) – though sadly the teller involved was hospitalised for high blood pressure immediately following the ‘robbery’.

Any American readers checking in on this who happen to dislike the concept of ‘Obamacare’: why? Just why?

Like these articles? Maybe you have a recommendation of your own. Let me know below.

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