Monday, May 14, 2018

This Is Absolutely Insane: I actually read the National Review's review of "This Is America"

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I listened to Childish Gambino's "This Is America" and watched the video. I had some thoughts about it, and about its maker.

Donald Glover, undeniably, has unbelievable intelligence and talent. The guy can ably do everything. His music is good. His comedy writing is good. His stand-up is good. His show is good. My impression of Glover has always been that he deeply understands what makes these art forms good (intelligence) and executes them extremely well (talent). But, to me, there's always been something about Glover that seemed aloof, a step removed, and even contrived. You can see the talent and intelligence so easily, but I've always seen something kind of inauthentic about it -- as if he's doing the best possible impression that one can do of music makers, comedy writers, stand-up comedians, and show creators. I've always liked him, but never thought I got anything new from him. And I sort of felt that about "This Is America" and its video.

This opinion is complicated and fraught, and I decided to search for someone to express, better than I could, something close to my thoughts (turns out, by the way, that Pitchfork came close -- not something I expected).

But in that simple Googling, I came across something I couldn't resist reading: The National Review's review of "This is America."

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Listen to Bob Dylan's Christmas in the Heart in 2017, and let's give Armando Galarraga an official perfect game while we're at it

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Sports don't matter when Donald Trump is president. This blog lost its steam in 2015 after a good three-year run, but you'll notice that the last post was from the 2016 MLB playoffs. A few weeks after that, it happened, and sports took a backseat.

The Trump presidency has been a truly awful time, and it will continue to be awful. The recovery from a Trump presidency (if there is one) will be awful. Sports can serve as an escape from the bad stuff of normal times. But when bad stuff becomes normal, and normal stuff stops existing, and normal times become bad, and bad times become normal, the silly pastime of following professional sports seems all the more silly. You'd think sports might provide some relief, or perhaps some ballast -- at least sports are the same, so the world can't be totally falling apart -- but in 2017, nothing could escape. Our baseline level of crippling anxiety rendered sports moot, and at times, sports themselves became political (#takeaknee), as did everything else.

Nothing can save us from this as long as Trump is president. So, just because I have a blog and could use a little catharsis, let me propose two things that will not exactly distract us from our lousy lot, but will make us feel infinitesimally better.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Cal Ripken Was Right, Oddly Enough

Last night's ALDS Game 1 between the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox featured a somewhat odd play. Cleveland's Lonnie Chisenhall slid into second base, beat the throw, and was called safe. The Red Sox challenged the play because they thought Chisenhall came off second base while Xander Bogaerts was still applying a tag. The play was overturned on review because the Red Sox were right -- Chisenhall popped off the base for a couple of seconds.

This led Ernie Johnson, TBS play-by-play man who is normally the guy sitting between Kenny Smith and Shaq, to discuss the role of replay in baseball (I can't find the video of this, unfortunately). He said that replay should not be used this situation because, in real time, the umpire could never have made the call that Chisenhall wasn't on the base. Ron Darling, Ernie's booth mate, agreed. But Cal Ripken, who plays the role of weird sideline reporter/color commentator, and says the most boring and obvious things all the time, vehemently disagreed. He said that runners should have to keep contact with the bag the entire way through, and that it was right for Chisenhall to be called out. They went back and forth for a surprising amount of time about this. MLB Network Radio even put out a Twitter poll asking which side people agreed with (Cal's side won 51% of 237 votes -- a tight one!).

Sunday, February 14, 2016

On Football and Falling Out of Love

We’ve long known football breaks bodies. We now know football breaks brains. The sport is violently athletic and viscerally fast, traits that have an unfortunate multiplier effect when combined with chemically altered behemoths smashing into one another dozens of times per game. The game is pure, uncut American id – soaring fighter jets overhead and handsome quarterbacks who break down the defense and get the girls, men being men like back in the days when men were men (only now with more slightly more dancing!). It’s the State of Nature goofily reflected through a game with an oblong ball and non-guaranteed contracts. Unfortunately, the career (and life) of a standard football player is equally Hobbesian – solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Was the PAT really that bad?

Yesterday, the NFL announced that the Point-After Try (PAT, extra point) was changing. Until now, teams would get the ball at the 2-yard line after a touchdown, and could decide if they wanted to try to kick it through the goal posts for an extra point, or try to push the ball into the end zone for 2 points (the two-point conversion was introduced to the NFL in 1994). About 99% of PATs were converted, meaning that the vast majority of touchdowns led to a team scoring 7 points. That's one point more than two field goals. Great.

Over the past few years, there has been an outcry about the extra point. IT'S TOO EASY! IT'S NOT EXCITING! WE MUST BE ENTERTAINED! Roger Goodell got on board with the idea of changing the extra point. It's a vestige of old football, where kickers couldn't kick. It's downright PROBLEMATIC. And now, the extra point is going to be snapped from 15 yards away instead of 2, while two-point conversions are still going to be from the two-yard line.

Ironic nerdy blog nerds are celebrating this new rule as a huge win for the NFL, finally disposing of the gimme extra point. But really, what was so bad about this? And why was this change really needed?

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Ranking Characters on Kroll Show

I'm not a guy who watches shows. I've never seen The Wire (shut up omg shut up I know it's great shut up I know I'd love it shut up). I basically live on Seinfeld and Family Guy reruns and sports for my TV watching. But recently, I've begun watching Kroll Show on Comedy Central for a really random reason: in a promo for the show's final season a few months ago, one of the characters from the show pronounced something weird, and that made it seem like a show I'd be interested in. I looked it up online and realized that I loved it. And then it ended.

The show is a bit hard to explain, but I'll try: it's a sketch comedy show that basically parodies reality TV (mostly), with Kroll's characters being stars of reality TV shows which get spinoffs of spinoffs of spinoffs, and that intersect with each other, and other stuff happens, and I did a terrible job of explaining this. Check out the show for yourself. It's great.

A million characters appeared on Kroll Show, and I'm here to rank them. I'm only going to be doing characters who appeared on more than one episode of Kroll Show, and who were actually actively funny. This leaves off great guest stars like Nathan Fielder, Pete Holmes and Aziz Ansari, but if I get into that, it'll be too much. I'm just gonna name the characters and say my favorite quote from each. I've done this before. This is gonna be ameezeen.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Greatest Players in Franchise Histories: NBA

In the wake of the wildly successful and popular best players in baseball franchise history, I decided to take it up a notch and do the same thing with basketball teams. I guess that's not taking it up a notch. Same notch. It's a high notch though.

With the baseball list, I didn't really take era into consideration too much: old timers were considered right alongside new timers. Old timers will be slightly penalized in this one just because the game has changed SO much (not that baseball hasn't, but it's a different degree). And I'll still be doing the greatest in all of franchise history, and then the greatest in the franchise's current iteration.

Atlanta Hawks: The greatest Hawk ever is Dominique Wilkins, with all due respect to Bob Pettit. This one's pretty close, so since Wilkins is the more current player, he gets the nod. Tough one right off the bat though.