Thursday, August 13, 2009

A return to serious posts – tomorrow

Someone suggested John R. Corrigan's golf novel Bad Lie in response to yesterday's question about sports in crime stories. What a terrific title.

This got me thinking that games, with their rules just waiting to be broken, offer apt metaphors for crime – and a rich field of over-the-top crime-fiction titles, some of them possibly genuine: Out of Bounds. Personal Foul. False Start. Long Bomb. Broken Play. Italics give even the hoariest cliché a bit of zing, don't they?

Your task today is to make up the cleverest or most outlandish sports-related title you can for a crime or mystery story. Titles of real books and stories, in the tradition of Bad Lie, are also welcome, as are suggestions from games whose terminology is unknown to me, such as cricket, darts, archery, camogie, boules, kabaddi, 43-man squamish, tossing the caber ...

© Peter Rozovsky 2009

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64 Comments:

Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Nice kabaddi ref there Peter,

Did you know that Channel 4 in Britain used to show kabaddi on the afternoons during the 80's? It was boon to students, shut ins and the unemployed.

How about this title from rugby:

SUICIDE PASS

August 13, 2009  
Blogger R. T. said...

"The Wicked Slice"

August 13, 2009  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

"The Bludger Crush"

Explanation here.

August 13, 2009  
Blogger Kiwicraig said...

Cricket: "French Cut"

Rugby: "Dangerous Bomb" or "Chip'n'chase"

Or just the unoffical title of wheelchair rugby: "Murderball"

August 13, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Adrian, I knew nothing of kabaddi until I made this post. It seems like a blend of many games from my childhood, which sets me to thinking about the roots of games.

Suicide Pass is a splendid title. What is a suicide pass in rugby? I'm guessing perhaps a pass with little chance of reaching its recipient, but a high payoff if it does get there?

After the Heineken Cup final this year, a bunch of young fans were tossing a rugby ball awfully close to the edge of the platform at a train station in Edinburgh. That's another kind of suicide pass.

August 13, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Wicked Slice is an eye-catcher, evocative both of cozy mysteries and slasher movies. That could be a good post-modern combination, I'd say.

August 13, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Linkmeister. "The Bludger Crush" sounds like a Robert Ludlum novel. In return for the explanation you provided, here is a bit about 43-man squamish.

August 14, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Kiwicraig has left a new comment on your post "A return to serious posts – tomorrow":

Cricket: "French Cut"

Rugby: "Dangerous Bomb" or "Chip'n'chase"

Or just the unoffical title of wheelchair rugby: "Murderball"


I always associated French cut more with bikinis than with cricket, which means French Cut is a fine title. What is a French cut in the rugby sense? I can guess at chip and chase based on similar terms in other sports. And is a dangerous bomb the same as the suicide bomb that a previous comment mentioned?

Murderball was also the name of a game we played in gym class occasionally, if my memory serves me well. It was nothing as vicious as what those wheelchair rugby guys do, though.

August 14, 2009  
Blogger Paul Davis said...

Peter,

Having been an amateur boxer from age 12 to 29, I like the idea of boxing terms as titles for crime stories.

I can think of more than a dozen, but here are a few of them:

"Stick and Move"

"Bum Rush"

"Outside Fighter"

"Right Cross"

Paul Davis

August 14, 2009  
Blogger seana said...

"A Bad Game of Bagaduli"

Yeah, I lifted that name right off of Sucharita's blog, so apply to her for any possible plots.

August 14, 2009  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Peter

A suicide pass is a backwards lob which hangs in there for a long time, giving the fly half or winger plenty of time to catch it but also penty of time for the opposing team's forwards to come charging towards him like a runaway train. He'll catch the ball all right but he'll smashed to bits a split second after. I've seen done deliberately - its a bit like fragging in Nam.

August 14, 2009  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

I must have read that issue of Mad where 43-man squamish was proposed; I read every issue of it in high school. I sure didn't remember it, though.

Paul, from boxing: "A Cauliflower for the Lady?"

August 14, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Paul, boxing could supply a shelf full of titles and probably has. "Split Decision" positively reeks of moral ambiguity, and how about "Pound for Pound" as a good, Mike Hammerish title?

August 14, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana, I'll be right back as soon as I've looked up bagaduli. That's a hell of a title.

August 14, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Aha!

August 14, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Adrian, the sporting equivalent fragging sarge, which was the illustrative example I read the first time I came across the word frag.

Yeah, I picture a movie sequence illustrating a suicide pass -- its last shot a grin spreading across the face of a player as he releases the ball. The rest shall be left to the audience's imagination.

August 14, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Linkmeister, one man blocks out cricket references, another obliterates memories of 43-man squamish. These things happen.

I like your hoxing title. It adds a note of whimsy to these violent proceedings.

August 14, 2009  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

Thanks. The Cauliflower could be an old beaten-down pug who falls in love with a gorgeous dame and musters one last bit of strength in the ring to save her from Lefty and the Mob.

Or is that too clichéd? ;)

August 14, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Lefty: "What's a swell dame like you see in a tomato can like that palooka anyhow?"

August 14, 2009  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

Not bad, not bad.

I think one of Louis L'Amour's short stories had that for a plot, now that I think about it. He wrote about 15 noir-ish stories, as well as a couple of dozen war adventures that took place in the Pacific.

August 14, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Sounds as if Louis L'Amour could have become a crime writer. A lot of the pulp crime writers wrote war and Western stories, too. It's as if pulp writers were stem cells that only later differentiated and specialized in crime or Westerns.

August 14, 2009  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

As the man here says about the L'Amour stories, "whatever paid the rent."

August 14, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

That's an interesting article. I like what L'Amour says toward the end about the difference between Western and crime stories.

I wonder when the specialization started. Probably when the magazine fiction market dried up.

August 14, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Adrian, how could forget the classic kabaddi crime story Breathless?

August 14, 2009  
Anonymous Horst said...

From Australian Rules Football, a strange game which Adrian McKinty now should be following:

SCREAMER

LONG BOMB

WHITE MAGGOT

COATHANGER

August 14, 2009  
Blogger Vanda Symon said...

Fencing has a few terms that have potential:

Corps a corps

Fleche

Stop hit

Considering it's a sport where you cheerfully try to kill each other...

August 14, 2009  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

"Games whose terminology is unknown to me" cricket! My seminar on cricket obviously was not comprehensive enough. But among the terms these might be good titles

Bodyline
A Chinaman
Silly Mid On
Third Man

Baseball: Suicide Squeeze and Sacrifice Fly

Rugby: Hooker, Drop Goal and Line Out

August 14, 2009  
Blogger Vanda Symon said...

And of course cricket has such pearlers as bowling a maiden over, and taking out middle stump...ouch.

August 14, 2009  
Blogger Kiwicraig said...

A french cut in cricket Peter, is the rough equivalent of a baseball hitter foul-tipping the ball between his own legs... but in the case of cricket there is no 'fair territory' as such, so players can still score runs by hitting it backwards...

A dangerous bomb is just when an attacking rugby team kicks a ball really really high, allowing it to pressure the fullback trying to catch it (in rugby if the attackers catch it before the defender, they still keep possession - unlike the NFL where the defender would have to fumble it - so the pressure is even greater)...

Other cricketing terms (there are so many):

"Smashed through the covers"

"Headhunter"

"Sandshoe crusher"

"Direct hit"

etc etc...

August 14, 2009  
Blogger Loren Eaton said...

Negative Ice: More is amiss than a flawed sheet in this noirish curling novel when the Saskatchewan lead is found strangled in the locker room prior to an Olympic qualifying match.

August 14, 2009  
Blogger Dorte H said...

Archery: An Arrow Miss?

August 14, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Horst, is a coat hanger what we call a clothesline in North American football: stopping a speeding player in his tracks with a straight arm held at neck level.

I shall also accord you the honor of making one of your titles the first of this group to be made into a movie. I'll even give the movie a star and a promotional slogan:

Jason Statham is White Maggot

August 14, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

You're right, Vanda. Those are some good ones, and I think you're right about the reason. I like all three of your titles.. The first two have the added cachet of French, and the third is perfect for a thriller featuring a hard-driving detective. Considering the strange delicacy of the term denoting a point in fencing, Deadly Touch might be another good title.

August 14, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Oh, and what's a fleche?

And is Fleche Wound another possibile crime novel set in the world of fencing?

Hmm, a fence is also a dealer in stolen good, and such characters figure in crime novels that feature thieves. A whole world of punning titles is opening before my eyes.

August 14, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Uriah, I writhe in agonies of remorse at the thought that you felt slighted by my post. I have often cited you as my tutor in cricket.

But, since the only thing I knew about cricket before your tutorial was which end of the bat one holds, you didn't explain that many exotic terms. Sticky wicket is one that I recall with delight. I note with interest that at least two of your entries are real titles: Carol Reed's movie The Third Man and Freidrich Glauser's novel The Chinaman. What's a Chinaman in cricket? Hooker, of course, would be a paperback original with an appropriately salacious cover.

And then there is the murder mystery set amid a certain England-Australia cricket competition: Ashes, Ashes, They All Fall Down.

August 14, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Vanda, anyone who cannot concoct a compelling crime title from the phrase "bowling a maiden over" ought to take a vow of silence. Thanks for the excellent suggestions.

August 14, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

KCraig, dangerous bomb suggests another title, this one based on North American football. In that sport, it is considered desirable to kick the ball high to allow the kicking team time to get downfield and stop the receiving team from advancing. The term for the amount of time the ball stays in the air would make a fair crime title: Hang Time.

Every one of those cricket terms is a home run and a direct hit. I must learn more about this game.

August 14, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Loren, Negative Ice is another title that suggests a movie, or at least a title sequence. And isn't it strange how seldom Saskatchewan crops up in crime-fiction blurbs?

August 14, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Dorte, I'm going to adapt your suggestion into an archery novel by Agatha Christie: Oops, the Archer Said.

August 14, 2009  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

Ooh! Christie modifications! I nominate "10 Little Duckpins!"

August 14, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

One might expect the several sports terms involving trap to lend themselves to sports-related variants on The Mousetrap.

August 14, 2009  
Blogger Sucharita Sarkar said...

Unfortunately, although I played my fair share of 'kabaddi' as a kid, the only thing the players say is a chant of 'kabaddi, kabaddi, kabaddi...' till they are out-of-breath.

Cricket has a lot of possibilities - 'Caught in the slips', 'Reverse swing', 'Bouncer', 'Bodyline'...

Maybe 'Checkmate' from chess?
Or "foul play" from football (soccer to you)?

August 14, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Bodyline is my favorite from your list. What is a bodyline? And does any sport have a lexicon as colorful as cricket's? Not kabaddi, apparently, though the spectacle of the players chanting the game's name over and over has a charm of its own.

Chess has probably provided a fair number of titles, being a metaphor for life and all, but I can't think of any at the moment.

August 14, 2009  
Blogger Vanda Symon said...

Peter, a fleche is where you throw yourself off balance and hurl yourself at the opposition. It works on the element of surprise. So yes, fleche wound is a goer.

One could also be Foiled.

August 14, 2009  
Blogger Vanda Symon said...

Oh, and if you're into Volley Ball (all my male friends are quite fond of watching the beach version) an appropriate title would be Spiked.

August 14, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The success of a whimsical fencing mystery called Curses! Foiled Again! could depend on its cover. The illustration of a young gentlemen with a sword protruding from his chest would have so be suitably amusing.

August 14, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Vanda, spike is not the only volleyball term relevant to this discussion. There is also kill, and I think I've heard save as well. Saved by a Kill would make a good title.

August 14, 2009  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

Also from volleyball, Bumped.

(That's the two-forearm set to the front row hitter.)

Carol Higgins Clark or her publisher has had a lot of fun with single-word titles for her Regan Reilly books. They're not quite puns, but they're evocative of the content. "Hitched" revolves around Reilly's marriage, for example.

V-word: calsaur - Mesozoic-era California resident. Often found in what are now the La Brea Tar Pits.

August 15, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Looks like she has some good ones, and the gimmick could yield a number of titles limited only by the number of monosyllabic passive verbs in English.

I learned another evocative volleyball term when preparing a previous comment: pancake.

August 15, 2009  
Blogger Sucharita Sarkar said...

Bodyline is an infamous bowling action popularised by English captain Douglas Jardine to win the Ashes series (against traditional arch-rival Australia) where the bowlers would bowl so hard and close to the batsmen's bodies that they often got them badly injured, along with taking their wickets, of course. It's perhaps the closest that cricket, lauded as a 'gentlemen's game', has ever come to blood-sports.

August 15, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

One wonders how popular Mr. Jardine (or "Doug" if he was of working-class background) was among opponents and even his fellow players. One suspects, too, that there were occasional bad feeling during the tea break when Jardine bowled. All this makes Bodyline an even better crime title.

A bodyline sounds very much closer to the sports popular here in North America than to a gentleman's game. And this reminds me: Do women play cricket these days?

August 15, 2009  
Blogger seana said...

"Bodyline" has excellent mystery potential. Write it, Sucharita.

I was wondering whether women play cricket myself.

v word=tersh. Or succinct, after one too many.

August 15, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Tersh. Lacon-HIC! Damn, thash good.

August 16, 2009  
Blogger Kiwicraig said...

Women do play cricket. There's even a women's world cup - won by England earlier this year, over New Zealand in the final.
http://iccwomensworldcup.yahoo.net/

August 16, 2009  
Blogger seana said...

That's good to know, Kiwicraig, as unlike pretty much every other sport, I had never heard mention of women's entry into it.

Given your user name, I expect you aren't all that happy about that England win, though.


v word=patsmess. My only question is, who the heck is Pat and why hasn't he or she learned to clean up after themselves?

August 16, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks, Craig. I had some vague recollection of having heard of women playing cricket. Much success to New Zealand in the next World Cup.

August 16, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana, Craig is indeed from New Zealand. His New Zealand crime fiction blog, Crime Spot, is the subject of my latest post.

The New England Patriots football team is often called the Pats. Patsmess is good headline word the next time they lose a sloppy, for poorly played game. But they have been an excellent team in recent years, so this is unlikely to happen often.

My v-word, believe it or not, is flash.

August 16, 2009  
Blogger Vanda Symon said...

In my misspent youth I used to play cricket for my school team. Plenty of women play it here. Although I did plenty of knocking the bails off and taking out middle stump (I was the wicket keeper) I was never good enough to bowl a maiden over.

Now days I fence, so spend my time cheerfully trying to kill my opposition with a sword.

August 18, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

If I have ever bowled a maiden over, I hope I was good enough to offer her an arm and help her back up.

I ought to get hold a cricket rule book, or, better, of a book that offers a thorough and entertaining explanation of the rules. I have a vague understanding of the concept of runs, but taking out stumps is a closed book to me.

August 18, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I took a fencing class at university, and I recently was discussing the sport with an acquaintance who fenced in college. I thought I might look for a club where I could take the sport up again for recreation. it would be good physical and mental exercise, I think.

August 18, 2009  
Blogger Vanda Symon said...

Fencing is great exercise for body & mind. The club I belong to is very civilised - we attack each other whole heartedly with foils, then retire to a local cafe for lunch.

August 18, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Given the schedule for the local fencing academy's adult beginners' classes, the sequence would likely be bout and brew. And here is yet another sports-related thriller title: A Brew to a Kill.

August 18, 2009  
Anonymous Tim Hallinan said...

Shooting Hoops, about the murder of popular rapper Hoops Z.

Fowl Bawl, a cozy murder case solved by the fact that a mynah bird imitates the final weeping of the victim.

I can't continue. Life calls.

August 18, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I am glad you made this humble post a part of that life, however briefly. Thanks for those worthy contributions.

August 18, 2009  

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