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MORNING BRIEFING : TOTALLY RANDOM : Soccer means all is well in Wellington

November 16, 2009|Chuck Culpepper

Of all the towns on the planet in which to spend this last Saturday night, the best -- remarkably -- might have been a smallish city way, way down on the serene latitude of 41 degrees south, 6,706 miles from Los Angeles, 7,388 miles from Johannesburg and 11,642 miles from London.

There, in Wellington, on the south edge of the north island of New Zealand, a rare bacchanalia blossomed, as the New Zealand Herald reported, "Cars hooted horns, flags were everywhere, a happy conga line waddled past the Beehive" -- that's the executive wing of Parliament -- "and fans got happily hammered."

How rare the night? Rugby-zany New Zealand actually reached a soccer World Cup -- for the first time since 1982. Its squad so lacks renown the goal-scorer in the 1-0 qualifying win over Bahrain in Wellington, Rory Fallon, has spent the last decade pinballing around English underling clubs. The goalkeeper who saved the whole thing when he saved a Bahrain penalty, Mark Paston, plays for the Wellington Phoenix, alerting a snobbish world as to the existence of a "Wellington Phoenix."

"Let's dare not compare the Kiwis to a pub team," wrote Chris Rattue of the Herald, but they're "definitely of a beer budget," and the newspaper definitely did use the words "happily hammered."

Trivia time

The last time Stanford won a Rose Bowl -- by 13-12 over Michigan in 1972 -- who was named most valuable player?

Workplace issues

According to the daily Al-Anba, an Algerian reporter at a Kuwaiti TV station filed a complaint, accusing four Egyptian colleagues with physical assault just before Algeria and Egypt continued their battle for Africa's last World Cup slot.

These kinds of stories, while unfortunate, do have value in providing American fanatics with the delusion they're relatively normal.

With a string and a foam cup?

The Associated Press reported that a Daniel Passafiume caught 25 passes for Division III Hanover College against Franklin College on Saturday -- breaking the NCAA record of 24 by a certain Jerry Rice of Mississippi Valley State -- and that the AP in New York learned of this feat through an archaic method.

Passafiume's brother called.

Deranged fan posting of the weekend

A Notre Dame fan, absent the last strand of patience, took to to howl, "How, in the name of everything unholy, do you explain the inability of the punters this year?" -- a clear case of sacrilegious punting.

Trivia answer

The late orthopedic surgeon Don Bunce, who succeeded Jim Plunkett as Stanford quarterback and led a late drive for the field goal that beat Michigan.

And finally

Michael Rosenberg of the Detroit Free Press, on the Lions, now 1-8: "If they go 4-12, we ought to hold a parade, and if they finish 5-11, they should retire the number of every player on the team."


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