Thursday, July 27, 2006

One of the galley copies of my book somehow ended up on eBay this week. The galley copies are sent to reviewers in advance of publication and are clearly marked “Not For Sale.” I could have asked the seller to cancel the auction, but it hardly seemed worth the hassle. What really distresses me is the fact that it received only one bid!

In another development, my first review was published today, in the Penn State Digital Collegian. The reviewer, one Vincent Ross, says, “The book goes into incredible detail about the lives of the players.” Or, as I will hereafter put it:

“Incredible!” –-Penn State Digital Collegian

Friday, July 21, 2006

While we were in Dakar, Allyson and I took the ferry out to Goree Island, which was one of the centers of the international slave trade from the sixteenth through nineteenth centuries. The maison des esclaves, a prison built by the Dutch in 1776 to hold kidnapped Africans before they were sold into slavery, still stands on Goree. Nobody knows precisely how many human beings set foot on the island on the appalling journey from freedom to bondage.

Goree Island is the kind of place that demands introspection. Unfortunately, introspection is impossible there, for visitors are constantly hounded and harassed by would-be "guides." Allyson and I were just hoping to walk the island’s narrow sand streets and quietly absorb the ambiance. Maybe take a few minutes to stare out at the vast, green-blue emptiness of the Atlantic, contemplating.

Instead, we were constantly approached by young men who offered their services as guides and chastised us when we told them we weren’t interested in “renting” them (kind of a weird concept, anyway, considering the locale). The vendors weren’t much better. The whole island is covered with shops selling African “art” and African “crafts” and African “jewelry,” much of which, I suspect, is made in China.

The experience was hugely disappointing. On the ferry back to the city, I wondered: Does Auschwitz have a gift shop?

Monday, July 17, 2006

Just got back from Dakar. Allyson and I went there for a weekend getaway. Not much of a getaway, though, going from one overcrowded, polluted African capital to another. We stayed right in the middle of the city, at the Sofitel Teranga (pictured above). It’s a nice hotel, complete with a swimming pool overlooking the beach, and our stay there was generally pleasurable… until we tried to check out on Sunday morning. That’s when the clerk at the reception desk casually informed us that we couldn’t use our credit card to pay our bill because it was “ne marche pas”--i.e., broken. Of course what was really broken was the hotel’s electronic credit card swiping machine, but in Africa a problem is never mine--it’s always yours. The clerk then informed us that we would have to pay our bill in cash. When we told him that, uh, we didn’t happen to have 311,100 West African Francs--more than $600--on us at the moment, he seemed a little surprised, but was unmoved: cash only.

After much arguing, the clerk--a Monsieur Diop--finally agreed to run our card through one of those old-fashioned imprint machines, then get payment authorization later. (He also insisted on having the phone number of our “bank,” so we gave him the 1-800 number on the back of the credit card. Kind of funny imagining him trying to negotiate the automated hell that is credit card customer service.)

Bottom line: Never stay at a Sofitel hotel. Or any property owned by Sofitel’s parent company, Accor, including Motel 6.

But if you must, just remember to take plenty of cash.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Pre-order Last Team Standing right now! Just click on the innocuous little ad directly above. If you pre-order the book now, it will be shipped to you as soon as it is released in September. Avoid the hordes sure to descend on book stores when it comes out! Pre-order your copy right now!

UPDATE: Thanks to a faithful reader--actually, my only reader--it has come to my attention that the ad sometimes appears as a generic ad ("Shop Now & Save") instead of an ad for my book. This is because... well, I have my theories (some conspiratorial), but I really don't know why it's happening. Anyway, if you want to pre-order my book, just go to and search for it. Using the terms "Steagles" and "Algeo" ought to do the trick.

As you were.