My Google news settings default to "World," and the "Latest Headlines" feed on my Firefox toolbar comes from the BBC; yes, it's a little precious, but I haven't changed it, because I like having the broader perspective.
The news for the last day or so has been all about Ronaldo, and Real Madrid's plan to dominate the world soccer community by acquiring not only him but also Kaka.
Everyone in the world cares about this, except for the United States. I added those links because I needed to look up Kaka myself, and know Ronaldo only because of his guest spot on that "Simpsons" episode where Lisa wanted to bend it like Beckham.
Every few years -- sometimes in connection with the World Cup, sometimes in connection with another cultural or sporting event -- the American press decides that soccer is about to make its major breakthrough into the American sporting consciousness, but it hasn't happened yet. Relatives and friends of mine have played soccer seriously, even earning college scholarships, but a professional soccer career has never been a real possibility for any of them.
My nephews go to soccer camp, and few things are more adorable than a dozen tiny boys and girls chasing a ball around a field -- but somewhere in their late teens, kids just lose interest. NASCAR and professional wrestling, two things I'd argue aren't sports at all, have exponentially larger fan bases in the United States than professional soccer. Why is this?
Edited to add: Since it's consumed my life this week, I keep forgetting to mention that Gaslight's summer musical, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, opens tonight in Hallowell, with a gala reception to follow. Performances continue tomorrow, Sunday, and next Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Don't miss it! Call 207-626-3698 for reservations.
What I Read This Week
Alexandra Sokoloff, THE UNSEEN. A classic haunted-house story in the tradition of the greatest of them all, The Haunting of Hill House. Professor Laurel MacDonald is drawn into the investigation of a haunted house, disguising her own motives but also unaware of her academic partner's. Sokoloff doesn't over-explain, and leaves several questions spookily unresolved.
Allison Burnett, UNDISCOVERED GYRL. Allison's a friend of mine, but even if he weren't, this would be one of the best books I've read so far this year. Undiscovered Gyrl is the journal, written as a series of blog posts, of 17-year-old Katie Kampenfelt, a bright and restless young woman taking a year off between high school and college. "Katie" is a pseudonym, and Katie admits she's an unreliable narrator, changing names and details so that her many blog readers can't identify her; all the same, she's disarmingly honest about her feelings and her flaws. Undiscovered Gyrl is full of sex and drugs and the bad decisions many young women make, but anyone who's offended by it simply isn't paying attention. The book reminds us exactly how dangerous adolescence is, and makes me grateful, once again, to have survived it. It'll be out in August.
Pam Bachorz, CANDOR. I've been reading a lot of young-adult novels lately, for some reason; this was an advance copy I picked up at BEA, of a book that comes out in September. It's a solid thriller about a teenaged boy who lives in the perfect Florida town of Candor, where The Messages make everyone model citizens. It's a cross between 1984 and The Stepford Wives, as if told by Lois Duncan; pleasantly creepy, and it would have packed a bigger punch if I hadn't still been reeling from Undiscovered Gyrl.