When our UPS driver, Juan, came by this morning, it was all he could do to contain his excitement for the Mexico vs. South Africa match taking place at that moment in first round World Cup action. A little while later another of our regular delivery drivers, this one from Brazil, couldn't stop talking about his country's first match on Tuesday. It reminded me of two truths: that America is a great country, still the great melting pot of cultures from around the world where people come to strive for a better life while keeping a foot in their native culture; and that my beloved game of baseball is a mere provincial hobby compared to the worldwide phenomenon that is soccer/football/futebol/etc.
For those of you who, like me, don't know a bit about "the beautiful game" but are starting to get a contact high on World Cup Mania, a couple of guide books are out to offer you the general lay of the land.
The first, pictured above, by local publican and true Glasgwegian Alan Black, is the more thorough. The author describes it as "a smash and grab read with propellant laughs, and wicked satire. Expect some crunching tackles on the establishment with profiles on hooligans, World Cup villains and serious national grudges. Stuffed with country and player profiles, bags of footie history, and all you need to know about South Africa."
The second, the 2011 World Cup Survival Guide is by John Beck. Bruce Jenkins recently said of it on his SFGate blog:
Got a terrific little surprise in the mail yesterday: John Beck's "2010 World Cup Survival Guide," an extremely informative, 82-page book that literally fits into your back pocket and is geared specifically toward a Bay Area audience....Beck's work is a treasure. Not only can you bring it along when visiting your local pub, Beck suggests you "spill beer on it and throw it at the television." Admirable spirit, that.
Both books on our shelves as we go to press.