Oh John Carroll

With the New Yorker online archives free to all this summer, you should go read this Simon Rich piece. If you like it, go buy Ant Farm. You won’t regret either decision.

Some Come Blogging Through

I was searching for a publication date for a story of mine today, and thought Google might be the quickest route. Instead of finding my answer, though, I was pleasantly surprised to find a 2-year-old blog entry about the story in question.

I wish this upon any writer, as I was incredibly moved!

I loved David Hill’s article about the board game Diplomacy for Grantland:

I still don’t know whom I should have trusted, if anyone. All I know is that I felt stupid, stressed out, humiliated, and sad. I had several shouting matches with a few of these guys. Some of them got personal. And all I had to show for my loyalty to Brian Ecton and my righteous indignation toward the other players was nothing at all. I was physically exhausted and emotionally abused. I hated Brian, the other players all hated me, and I hated myself most of all. I had to purse my lips extra hard to fight the urge to cry.

Is it weird that I really want to play this after reading, even though all of the evidence suggests I should feel otherwise?

If you need more prodding, here’s the video for “Don’t Come Back”. If you like that, go track down the other 10 minutes of Dissed and Dismissed.

My favorite record of the year so far might be Tony Molina’s Dissed and Dismissed, which is like a lo-fi, mid-90s Weezer record stripped of structure and length. Seriously, it’s just hooks and solos without any filler. The record label page even warns: “Also, please note that this album runs just under 12 minutes. Just so you know.” But yeah, this is most definitely an LP, and well worth your attention.

Jimmy Rollins, one of the best Phillies ever, is about to set the franchise record for hits in a career. He remembers his five best in this piece by MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki.

Deadspin has an excellent takedown of the “unwritten rules of baseball” by Dick Hayhurst, a former MLB pitcher:

I’ve heard all this stuff before, all throughout my playing days. Don’t run over the pitcher’s mound because it’s sacred ground. Don’t pimp home runs because it’s disrespectful to the game. Don’t throw inside unless you want one of your own players getting buzzed. Don’t do this or that unless you have enough service time under your belt, in which case do whatever you want.

None of the players passing along their wisdom seemed to realize that it was all completely arbitrary. No one came close to acknowledging, “You know, it’s stupid and none of us know where it came from, and before we go fracturing some poor rookie’s wrist because he looked too happy about going yard on a vet, we should really sit down and ask ourselves if the punishment fits the crime.”

If you haven’t already, you should read The Internet With A Human Face, Maciej Ceglowski’s talk from the 2014 Beyond Tellerrand conference:

I’ve come to believe that a lot of what’s wrong with the Internet has to do with memory. The Internet somehow contrives to remember too much and too little at the same time, and it maps poorly on our concepts of how memory should work.

I don’t know if they did this in Germany, but in our elementary schools in America, if we did something particularly heinous, they had a special way of threatening you. They would say: “This is going on your permanent record”.

It was pretty scary. I had never seen a permanent record, but I knew exactly what it must look like. It was bright red, thick, tied with twine. Full of official stamps.

The permanent record would follow you through life, and whenever you changed schools, or looked for a job or moved to a new house, people would see the shameful things you had done in fifth grade.

How wonderful it felt when I first realized the permanent record didn’t exist. They were bluffing! Nothing I did was going to matter! We were free!

And then when I grew up, I helped build it for real.

I never expected to write, “Here’s a great piece about Adam Sandler’s Blended,” but here’s a great piece about Adam Sandler’s Blended:

I went into Blended expecting nothing. Actually, I went into Blended expecting less than nothing. I didn’t think about it at all before entering the theater. It’s probably why I was caught so off-guard by the movie’s first scene. Jim (Adam Sandler) and Lauren (Drew Barrymore) are single parents on a terrible blind date at Hooters. After a series of unfortunate events, Lauren has enough and says something to the effect of, “I can see why your wife left you.” And that’s when it hits me. There’s a pause that lasts for hours. My throat goes dry. My chest hollows completely. I know that pause. I’ve never been married, but I am very familiar with the feeling of being on a date where someone assumes divorce when it was actually death. This is how the most moving movie experience of my life began.

It’s by Jesse David Fox at New York‘s Vulture site.

While I’m certainly not a fan of what Amazon is doing in its recent dealings with Hachette, I was happy to see Ben Thompson explain why publishers are doing themselves the most harm in the long run:

The problem with DRM, as Nook owners now know all too well, is that it ties your books to a single company. If you start buying Kindle books, you will always buy Kindle books, because your books will only ever work on a Kindle. The result is that anyone who has bought Kindle books is now more loyal to Amazon than they are to any of the publishers. Not that they were ever loyal to publishers, of course; said loyalty is reserved for specific authors. And that right there is the root of the publishers’ Faustian bargain: unloved by consumers, yet unwilling to give up their position as middleperson, publishers traded away infinite distribution and the truly free exchange of ideas for the yoke of another, infinitely more powerful middleperson – Amazon.

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