The litter in littérateur. Ricky Opaterny on Books, Music, Art, and Sports


Zidane: un Portrait du 21e Siècle

Filed under: General — Ricky @ 7:03 pm

The National Galleries of Scotland have paid a reported £70,000 for a special cut of Douglas Gordon’s film Zidane: un Portrait du 21e Siècle. The film, which follows Zidane throughout a game between Real Madrid and Villareal on April 23, 2005, will premier in the UK at Edinburgh Film Festival before its theatrical release in September. Being the occasional pessimist that I am, I suspect that we in the US will have to wait until the film’s DVD release to see it. The DVD release is scheduled to take place before Christmas of this year.

In the meantime, the film has enjoyed surprising success at CineQuanon in Tokyo, Japan. Audiences have been leaving messages for Zidane at the theatre that will eventually be sent on to him. has posted a review of the film here:

Zinedine Zidane is a footballer. (If you didn’t know that, stop reading now. This film is not for you.)

In many ways, this is the soccer equivalent of Derek Jarman’s Blue. If you love the beautiful game, this will captivate you.

The Herald also has a capsule review of the film:

Gordon and Parreno’s portrait is as much a meditative piece of art as it is an elegy to a sportsman, and will appeal to football fans and film-goers alike.


The trouble with book reviewing

Filed under: General — Ricky @ 10:25 pm

Ruth Franklin has a review of David Mitchell’s Black Swan Green in this week’s New Republic. She bemoans the trite superlatives that populate positive book reviews, praises Dale Peck, laments the decline of standards we have for great books, and bashes Heidi Julavits and the Believer’s anti-snark stance. She then goes on to laud Black Swan and Mitchell’s writing in a review that, except for its opening complaints about the state of book reviewing, is the exact sort of engaged, anti-snark essay that the Believer favors. In other words, it’s a good, well-written review. Perhaps, she should stick to reviewing books and stop trying to take down other book reviewers. I would also like to point out that suggesting that Dale Peck has high standards for fiction is a bit suspicious. Franklin would have been much better off citing James Wood. But of course, Peck is provocative, which she seems to think is better than simply appreciating good novels. I must admit that I have at least one thing in common with Franklin: I, like her, read and liked Black Swan Green.


Fifa suspends and fines Materazzi and Zidane

Filed under: General — Ricky @ 8:08 am

Fifa announced today the suspensions and fines of both Zidane and Materazzi. Zidane will be suspended for three matches and fined 7500 Swiss francs. Materazzi will be suspended for two matches and fined 5000 Swiss francs. This means that Materazzi may potentially miss France’s rematch with Italy in the Euro 2008 qualifier match that takes place in Paris on September 6.


Fifa to investigate Materazzi’s comments

Filed under: General — Ricky @ 7:48 am

Fifa has launched a probe into Marco Materazzi’s comments that provoked Zinédine Zidane to headbut him in the 110th minute of the World Cup final on Sunday, summoning both players to appear in Zurich on July 20.

Meanwhile, Materazzi has said that Zidane deserves the Golden Ball award, which he won for being voted the best player of the World Cup. Materazzi said, “He won it for what he did on the pitch. He was the best.” Yesterday, Fifa president Sepp Blatter suggested that Fifa may strip Zidane of his award.


Videos of Zidane’s appearances on TF1 and Canal +

Filed under: General — Ricky @ 2:57 pm

You can watch Zidane’s interview on TF1 here. The Canal + video can be found here.

The BBC has also posted an incomplete transcript of Zidane’s interview on Canal +.

I enjoyed the TF1 interview more than the Canal + one as Zidane seems more at ease and less defensive. He comes across in this interview as someone who seems to genuinely accept his fate, while contending that Materazzi should be disciplined as well.

The Guardian has posted an article about reactions to Zidane’s comments, including this translated snippet from the French paper L’Equipe:

“Never, during a long career during which he heard such things hundreds of times, had he touched on this subject,” the paper wrote in an editorial.

“These interviews by Zinedine Zidane were a fairly solemn way of saying goodbye, after the missed opportunity of Berlin.”

Zidane to speak tonight; FIFA may strip award

Filed under: General — Ricky @ 8:36 am

Zidane will speak tonight at 19:00 Paris time (2 pm EST) on Canal + about the World Cup Final.

Fifa president Sepp Blatter has suggested that the organization may strip Zidane of his Golden Ball award as the World Cup’s best player. Of course, this should come as no surprise from an organization as corrupt as Fifa.

UPDATE: Zidane did not reveal exactly what was said to him. However, he did confirm that the insult concerned his mother and sister and was repeated by Materazzi. Although he apologized for his actions, Zidane did not regret them after Materazzi repeatedly insulted him. Here’s a translation of Zidane’s comments:

“It started when we pulled each other’s shirt.

“I said to him to stop, stop pulling my shirt – if you want I’ll change it at the end of the match.

“He said words that were very difficult to accept which he repeated many times – they were more difficult to accept that just gestures.

“It was difficult to turn away as they happened so quickly.

“They are very serious and personal. He mentioned my mother and my sister.

“He mentioned them once and I feel bad but you hear them a third time… these words, I would rather someone punch me in the face than hear them.

“I reacted – it certainly wasn’t a gesture to make.

“It’s true that two or three muillion people saw that and children and I apologise to them.”

ESPN has posted a more thorough story about Zidane’s statement.

Additionally, here’s a nice compliation of Zidane highlights:


Cody’s Closes

Filed under: Books,General,Save Kepler's — Ricky @ 6:27 pm

Cody’s Books on Telegraph is closing today.

Zidane “provoked,” to speak about World Cup final

Filed under: General — Ricky @ 10:12 am

In the Guardian today:

Zinedine Zidane’s chestbutt on Marco Materazzi was “provoked” by a comment from the Italy defender, according to the player’s agent. And, while Alain Migliaccio did not know what Materazzi said, he confirmed that Zidane would reveal the exact nature of the comments soon.

The group SOS Racism has further reported that Materazzi called Zidane a “dirty terrorist”:

“According to several very well informed sources from the world of football, it would seem that the Italian player Marco Materazzi called Zinedine Zidane a ‘dirty terrorist’,” SOS Racism said in a statement.

The Daily Mail has used a lip reader to decipher what was said to Zidane:

With the help of an expert lip reader the Daily Mail was able to decipher what led to the violent outburst.

First defender Marco Materazzi spoke in Italian – a language understood by Zidane who once played for Italian side Juventus – grabbed his opponent and told him ‘hold on, wait, that one’s not for a n***** like you.’

It is not clear whether the Italian was referring to the ball heading their way or his own groping of Zidane.

The expert, who can lip read foreign languages phonetically and translate with the aid of an Italian interpreter, was unable to see what Zidane said in reply.

But she saw that as the players walked forward Materazzi said: ‘We all know you are the son of a terrorist whore.’

Then, just before the headbutt, he was seen saying,: ‘So just f*** off.’

The New York Times reports that Zidane’s family speculates that he reacted to a racial insult regarding his Algerian heritage.

Zidane has yet to say anything publicly about the incident. But family members, in telephone interviews, said they believed the Italian defender Marco Materazzi had called Zidane, the son of Algerian immigrants, a “terrorist.”

“We think he either called him a terrorist or a son of Harkis,’’ said Mokhtar Haddad, one of Zidane’s cousins, who with friends and family studied the pivotal scene on a big screen in the family’s home village Aguemoune, 160 miles east of Algiers.

The Harkis reference is a term for Algerians who fought on the French side in Algeria’s war for independence, and it is a severe insult for someone with Zidane’s heritage.

“The insult went in that direction,’’ said Djamel Zidane, the player’s brother, adding that Zidane was expected to call his family in Algeria on Monday evening or Tuesday to tell them exactly what had happened. “Otherwise he would not have reacted that way.’’

Materazzi is quoted as having said, in denial of the terrorist comment, “I am ignorant, I don’t even know what an Islamic terrorist is.” That sounds like a pretty lame excuse to me. To live in this time, in this century and not know what an Islamic terrorist is–how is that possible except for someone truly ignorant?

Click here to see a video of some of Materazzi’s previous fouls.


Weekend Round-up

Filed under: Books,General,Save Kepler's — Ricky @ 11:40 am

The Contra Costa Times summarizes and laments the state of independent bookstores in the Bay Area. In their article, a local writer, Linda Watanabe McFerrin, is quoted as saying, “A bookseller like Cody’s or Book Passage doesn’t just participate in the scene. They help create it. They are actually generating the literary culture. They’re not just serving it, and that’s very, very different.”

This, unfortunately, seems to me the exact opposite of what Kepler’s is doing these days with their market research, trying to find out what customers want so the store can be everything to everyone. The consequence, of course, is that they still have yet to establish a clear voice in the literary landscape. What does Kepler’s stand for–i.e. what kind of books does it stand for? I’ve been shopping there for a decade, and I have no idea.

Some out of town news:

Tattered Cover in Dever has moved to a refurbished theater.

In developments reminiscent of what happened with Kepler’s last year, Brazos Bookstore in Houston has been bought and will not close.

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