Nerd basketball returns

March 5, 2010

That’s right, it’s time for nerds who love basketball to rejoice, because the WORD basketball league has returned! We’re starting the season a bit earlier this year, with pre-season kicking off in April, so the start-up meetings are pretty soon.

As with last year, we will require the following from those who would like to play: 4 out of 5 answers correct on a relatively simple test of your literary knowledge, a self-assessment of your basketball skills, a list of requested teammates (if you have one), and a signed waiver. So you’ll need to come to one of the following meetings to take care of all of that:

Monday, March 15 at 7pm
Wednesday, March 17 at 7pm

Both meetings will be held in the basement of WORD. It is REQUIRED that you attend one of these two meetings if you want to play.

If you’d like to be involved, but have no interest in physical activity, that is fine! We definitely need people to help behind the scenes. In particular, we might need another ref and we definitely need people to help with keeping score and time. Also, one of our employees would like to start a nerd cheerleading squad.  So if you’d like to join up without actually playing, just email stephanie at wordbrooklyn dot com.

Yes, folks, we’re unusual EVEN by Brooklyn’s standards. That quote comes from this lovely write-up in The Brooklyn Paper about our basketball league.

Another thing that’s unusual about us is our matchmaking board, about which Stacked Blog wrote a great post. So if being unusual means that we encourage athleticism and seek to spark romances, well, we’ll take it!

Feel free to use the comments to talk about other things that are unusual even by Brooklyn’s standards.

DaveReidy_photographerJohnKuttenbergWe’re celebrating mid-season for the WORD basketball league this Sunday with a special brunch and event at the store. Basketball, Brunch and Books will feature Dave Reidy, author of the new short story collection Captive Audience. Dave will read his short story “Postgame”, about the retirement and fast-following fatherhood of a scrappy NBA guard. We’ll start the event at about 12:15 or so, after the WORD basketball teams finish up their Sunday morning games. Come by American Playground between 10:30 – noon to watch the players in action. Then join us across the street at the store for breakfast goodies and the reading. (Yes, there will be Peter Pan Donuts!) Here’s The WORD Interview Dave recently did with us:

1) Do you have a favorite WORD?

The fact that this question sent me scurrying to my inbox to scan the subject lines of old Word of the Day e-mails leads me to answer, no. No I don’t.

2) What WORDS do you live by?

“Rejection is the default state.” I don’t think that any of us should be surprised if a person doesn’t like our work. Why should she? Even if she thinks it’s good writing, she might not like it. Keeping this reality in mind helps me to see kind words from a person who likes my work for what they are: evidence of a small miracle.

3) What was the last book you read?

I am in the midst of reading The Magus by John Fowles. I have read 370 pages of it and have 286 to go. I’m in. I’m enjoying it. I’m seeing it through to the end.

4) Any idea what you’ll read next?

I’ve got my next two books all lined up. First, The Third Man by Graham Greene, a slim novel to follow up the monster Magus. Then I’ll devour the rest of And Here’s The Kicker, a nonfiction book I read in part in manuscript form. The book is a collection of interviews with the greatest comedy writers of our time, skillfully rendered by my friend Mike Sacks.

5) What is the last book you bought someone as a gift? (If you bought it at an indie store, let us know which one!)

In May, I was shopping with my fiancee at Quimby’s in Chicago, a great indie bookstore. A book called The 9-inch Diet caught her eye and I picked it up for her. It’s a very well designed book that tells the story of how American portion sizes–and waistlines–have grown with the size of our plates. In 1970, the average American dinner plate was nine inches in diameter. Today, it is twelve inches. Authors (and ad men) Alex Bogusky and Chuck Porter make a pretty compelling case that plate size has everything to do with obesity in these United States. Read the rest of this entry »

Finish out your week with a smile—read this delightful missive from Katherine Arathoon, member of The Elements of Style!

“When I first agreed to join a dodgeball team (don’t worry, it’s just a quick tangent), I thought I was signing up for kickball. ‘Sure, that sounds like fun,’ I said, forking over a hefty enrollment fee, and forgot about it. It was only 2 days before our first game that I remembered that dodgeball is actually two teams actively trying to pelt each other in the face with hard rubber balls. In an instant I was transported back to those terror-filled sessions in my elementary school days, and I called my roommate, Sanam, in a panic, shrieking, “I’ve just remembered what dodgeball is! I don’t want to play any more!” Accustomed to my histrionics, Sanam calmly informed me it was too late to get my fee back and I was damned well going to play. So play I did, and it turned out it was actually pretty fun. Teams were more evenly matched, now that everyone’s pituitary glands have for the most part leveled off, and there was beer after every game. Can’t argue with that!

“So, when the Mediabistro blurb popped up recommending Literary Basketball, I was intrigued. Sure, I’d hated basketball in high school gym, but if a girl like me can learn to tolerate dodgeball, she can do anything. Plus, the challenge of answering ‘literary questions’ in order to qualify was irresistible. I answered the questions, a handful of friends joined in as well, and one short introduction meeting later I was on the white team.

“The name picking began. We were team White, so early options included The Eebees, The Mocha Dicks, Charlotte’s Web of Domination, Great White Taupe, The Invisible Jam, and Midnight’s Children But With Basketball. However, several clear winners emerged from the fray, and after pushing Comma Sutra out of the way with deft aplomb, The Elements Of Style reigned supreme as our name of choice. The Strunks became unofficial team nickname, and ‘Sucks to your ass-mar!’ is our (as yet still unused in battle) team slogan.

“It was during this discussion that our noble team captain, Mark, came up with the brilliant plan of creating team t-shirts and using punctuation symbols instead of numbers on the back. There was a furious scramble to claim interrobang, and a question arose that remains unanswered to this day: does a dollar sign count as a punctuation mark? (In the end, cool factor won out over questionable verisimilitude on that particular issue.)

“So now we were named and marked, and ready for action. By this point I’d had enough fun and nerdiness that I scarcely cared about the looming first game. Sanam–now $anam–explained the basic rules to me on subway ride over, and I figured I was prepared enough.

“Two things I hadn’t anticipated:

“1) Basketball requires a lot of running. Like, a LOT of running. Fortunately we had a good showing of teammates that first game, because there was a steady rotation of subbing-out-before-my-heart-explodes. Some of us were a little hung over from the previous night’s adventures; some of us were just woefully out of shape. Safe to say, by game’s end most of us looked like teammate Mike in this picture.

“2) Despite the dramatic amounts of running, basketball is a lot of fun. Who knew? Much to my surprise, I was enjoying myself. And I was occasionally good at defense, which, for a total beginner, was very pleasing indeed.

“Most of all, my teammates proved to be just as awesome on-court as off; encouraging, hilarious, and in some instances enthusiastically clad in short-shorts. From ampersand to ellipses, from asterisk to exclamation point, I couldn’t ask for a better group. Week after week we have thundered up and down the court with great dexterity, generally taking a triumphant second-place in every game we play, and once even winning!

“(Here are two pictures of me with a few of my most magnificent Strunks, wearing the badass t-shirts that Ben made.)

“So, many, many thanks to WORD for organizing such a lovely literary league that has attracted such perspicacious people; I know where I’ll be doing my Christmas book shopping this year. And the basketball experience as a whole has reminded me not just to try out new things, but to re-visit old things as well. After all, if I find I now like dodgeball and love basketball, who knows: maybe it’s time to take another stab at Trigonometry?

Yours truly,
The Em Dash
(Katherine Arathoon)”

Time for a brief update on our basketball league! As you may know, the response to the idea of a basketball league for book-lovers was completely overwhelming–we had over 100 people email, and ended up with enough people for eight 10-person teams. Pre-season starts this Sunday. If you’d like to watch a game or two, come any Sunday this month at 10:30 or 11:15, or Wednesday at 7:30 or 8:15.

Without any games under our belt, so far the best part of the league is the fantastic names.

Wearing red…MRS. BALLOWAY.


Wearing orange…THE ORANGES OF WRATH.


Wearing black…THE 451s.



Wearing purple…THE PURPLE PROS.

Some of the names that were not chosen are just as great as the ones above. A selection:

The Dickens
Under the Net
Invisible Man on Man
Crepes of Wrath
Team Read
The Well Reds
Tender is the Net
The Fortress of Ballitude
Slaughterhouse Five on Five
As I Lay Dribbling
For Whom The Ball Rolls
Great Expectations
The Ballers Karamazov
Hoops of Wrath
The Ball of the Wild
Heart of Dunkness
Murder on the Alley-oop Express
The Origin of Swishes
The Dunkback of Notre Dame
Jane Air

Got any others? Leave them in comments, maybe we can use them next year.

Well, we’ve got to end it sometime, and that time is this Friday at noon.  If you haven’t gotten your questions in, do it ASAP.  Thanks!

WORD in the news

March 10, 2009

Time Out New York recently posted a trailer for 60 Writers/60 Places and talked about last week’s PACKED event for Calamari Press (we couldn’t even fit everybody in the basement, people were listening on the stairs).  They also noted that “for a small store, WORD has a solid selection.” Thanks! We think of it as curated or, as a customer suggested the other day, cultivated, but solid is a great compliment as well.

Galleycat also spread the news about our forthcoming basketball league.  As of this writing, we have almost 50 people signed up!  We’ll continue to accept newcomers for a bit longer, so get your answers in soon.

WORD basketball league

March 5, 2009

WORD basketball league!

As subscribers to our newsletter already know, WORD is setting up a basketball league for book people.  From the newsletter:


“Have you spent your entire life feeling really weird because you like both books and basketball?

Well, luckily for you, WORD feels your pain and wants to make it all better.

We’re starting a summer basketball league.  Not quite sure what format, yet–that’ll be determined by how many people join up.  But we’ve got American Playground across Franklin Street and we are determined to use it.  Both men and women are welcome.  The league will play from May to August, and we’ll do our best to work with everybody’s schedules.

One catch: this league is for book lovers only.  In order to participate, email the answers to the following five questions to

1. Who wrote Ulysses?
2. What is the best selling book of all time?
3. What is J. D. Salinger’s most well-known book?
4. Name a book that has been banned in the United States in the last 100 years.
5. What is your favorite book?

Send the answers along with your name and you’ll be signed up!  And please forward to the other basketball and book-loving freaks you know.”



Don’t worry, we’ll keep posting on the blog about it, to make sure that those who don’t want to play but do want to watch can come by and cheerlead.

3/31/09 UPDATE: The registration period for this league will close Friday, April 3, at noon.