Gordon Banks, who has died aged 81, was the best goalkeeper England have ever had and is widely regarded as one of the finest to have played for any side in any era. A World Cup winner in 1966, he also appeared in the 1970 World Cup finals, where, against Brazil, he was responsible for what is often cited as “the greatest save ever made” – a supremely agile effort from a close-range header by Pelé. The scene of Banks’s famous save was Guadalajara in Mexico, where England were playing Brazil in the group stage. Jairzinho, the fast and powerful Brazilian outside-right, crossed the ball after beating the England left-back, Terry Cooper. Pelé, Brazil’s most lauded player, met the ball with a downward, bouncing header, and was already shouting “Goal!” when Banks miraculously hurled himself across his goal, reached the ball with a flailing right arm, and turned it over his crossbar. “As soon as I got my hand to it, I thought it was … [Read more...] about Gordon Banks obituary
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For Tolstoy fans, 2010 is set to be a wonderful year. One hundred years after the great Russian novelist fled from his country estate outside Moscow – dying three weeks later in a small provincial railway station – the world is gearing up to celebrate him. In Germany and the US there are fresh translations of Anna Karenina; in Cuba and Mexico Tolstoy bookfairs; worldwide, a new black- and-white documentary. Dug up from Russia's archives and restored, the original cinema footage shows an elderly Tolstoy playing with his poodles and vaulting energetically on his horse. Next month also sees the UK premiere of The Last Station, an accomplished new drama about Tolstoy's final days. Starring Helen Mirren, Christopher Plummer and James McAvoy, this witty biopic recounts the eventful last two years of his life. Under siege from fin de siècle paparazzi, Count Tolstoy and his wife Sofya Andreevna squabble over his literary estate. Tolstoy wants to leave the copyright to … [Read more...] about Leo Tolstoy: the forgotten genius?
The French singer Charles Aznavour – often hailed as his country’s Frank Sinatra – has died at the age of 94. Aznavour, who was born Shahnour Varinag Aznavourian in Paris to Armenian parents, sold more than 100m records in 80 countries and had about 1,400 songs to his name, including 1,300 he wrote himself. He was sometimes described as the French Sinatra because of his stirring, melancholic style. He left school aged nine to become a child actor and went on to have a successful parallel acting career, most notably appearing in François Truffaut’s new-wave classic Tirez Sur le Pianiste (Shoot the Piano Player), Claude Chabrol’s Les Fantômes du Chapelier (The Hatter’s Ghost), and the 1979 Oscar-winning film adaptation of Günter Grass’s The Tin Drum. His singing career was forged in occupied Paris during the second world war, performing in cabarets as his parents secretly worked with the resistance, hiding Jews, communists and … [Read more...] about Charles Aznavour, the ‘Frank Sinatra of France’, dies aged 94
1 Infinite Jest is set in a near future in which the Gregorian calendar has been supplanted by a sponsorship arrangement. Most of the action of the novel takes place in the Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment [Depend is a real brand of adult nappies]. Other years are sponsored by: the Whopper, the Tucks Medicated Pad, the Trial-Size Dove Bar, the Perdue Wonderchicken, the Whisper-Quiet Maytag Dishmaster, Glad, Dairy Products from the American Heartland and the Yushityu 2007 Mimetic-Resolution-Cartridge-View-Motherboard-Easy-To-Install-Upgrade for Infernatron/InterLace TP Systems for Home, Office or Mobile. 2 The central plot MacGuffin, such as it is, is the search for the missing master copy of a videotape known as “the Entertainment”: this is a film, made by the avant-garde film-maker James Incandenza, so ridiculously entertaining that anyone who sees it will be compelled to watch it over and over again, and having lost all interest in eating, drinking and basic … [Read more...] about Infinite Jest at 20: 20 things you need to know
"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench. A long plastic hallway where pimps and thieves run free and good men die like dogs. There is also a negative side." I don't want you to think that I make a habit of this, but last weekend, in the name of research, I spent an indulgent afternoon with the curtains drawn, sifting through a pile of old Sleeper photographs, press cuttings and band mementoes. Tucked away in the attic, behind a tub of creosote and something pungent that re-whitens grout, are a pair of cardboard boxes that contain every groove of vinyl Sleeper ever pressed, and every inch of domestic and international print coverage that our publicist deemed worthy of indexing and wrapping in plastic. I hadn't looked through any of these pictures and interviews since I moved house three years ago, and it was with some trepidation that I heaved the box on to the floor, split open the seal with a Stanley knife and tipped out its contents. There it was in black and white. … [Read more...] about My life as a pop star