Archive for June, 2013

Come in out of the rain and read some links.

* Jessica Pressler had a really interesting story in New York Magazine about an ongoing war between cat people and bird people. (note, that’s people who love those animals, not actually a Cat Person who’s half feline, half human). Cats kill millions of birds a year and the bird people want the cats eliminated.

* Also in New York Mag, a piece on Mariano Rivera and his faith. Everyone knows him as the greatest closer of all time, but he’s ready to move on to a new stage of his life, as an evangelist.

* For you Hollywood types, David Carr with a story about the fight between gossip queens Nikki Finke and Sharon Waxman, former friends now at war with each other. 

* Dave Zirin with an open letter to Dan Snyder about renaming the Washington Redskins.

* Katie Baker on the first game of the Stanley Cup, a three-overtime thriller.

* Kanye West spoke to the New York Times and here are the most ridiculous things he said. 

* In the wake of another horrific case of a child being left in a vehicle and dying — most recently in Moorhead, Minn., — it’s worth visiting Gene Weingarten’s piece in the Washington Post from a few years ago.

* Chris Jones on Pat Riley and trademark brains.

* For Deadspin, Peter Cox spent a week in South Africa with the North Korea hockey team.

* Grantland with a fun discussion about whether Game of Thrones is better as a show or a series of books.

* The podcast of the week is not a podcast, at all; it’s the return of the Jerry Seinfeld project “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.” Always funny stuff. Not sure which I like more: Known guests or obscure ones – Sein must think very highly of the folks in the latter category.

* Some dude in Maine has lived the hermit lifestyle for 27 years. But he’s also an alleged thief. What the what?

* Odds are that you’ve already seen this link, but if not … please, please, please read the Washington Post tale about a family trying to move on without their son, who died in a school shooting. Gut wrenching.

One of the worst things about having an oversized family wrought with health issues is that it’s virtually impossible to leave home as a group for an extended period of time. But this week, with our first real trip as a group of six on the horizon, that immobility feels more like a positive. (more…)

I didn’t see the first airing of NBA TV’s new documentary on Julius Erving, but I’ll watch it soon. Some of their movies perhaps rely on mythologizing the subjects a bit much, but the network has a nice track record of putting together films, digging up old footage that people assumed was lost forever. Their documentary on the 1992 Dream Team featured some highlights from the famous scrimmage between Michael’s team and Magic’s team. And the new piece on Erving contains numerous clips from his younger, bigger-hair, higher-flying days.

I want to see it because by the time I started watching the NBA, Erving was still a superstar but those earlier days are what truly made him a legend. It’s hard to imagine in today’s world — where a single block by LeBron is up on YouTube 20 minutes later, with five angles — but for the stars of yesterday, many of their most eye-opening deeds took place before every shot, pass, and dunk was saved and distributed to millions.


A terrible man died last week. Richard Ramirez was better known as the Night Stalker and he was convicted of murdering 13 people in California during a terrifying 1985 crime spree, though authorities suspect he killed many more. Ramirez said he worshiped the devil and didn’t show any remorse for his crimes — if anything he displayed pride.

I didn’t know anything about Ramirez in 1985, not in those pre-Internet days. Instead my first exposure to Ramirez came in 1989 when I watched the NBC movie Manhunt: Search for the Night Stalker. The movie kept me up the night I watched it and probably a few nights later, even though I was 14, Ramirez was incarcerated and California was half-a-country away. I’m sure I made sure our doors in little Janesville were locked that night, in case Ramirez or an acolyte was stalking the night. There was no Internet and not even serial killers always made our  local papers so we learned about these cases on TV, and on TV movies.

And in the 1980s and early ’90s, TV was filled with horrifying true-life stories that were turned into horrifying made-for-TV movies. Good times for kids who watched too much TV.


Guilt set in Sunday night around 11 p.m. CT, internal concerns that I had perhaps neglected my family and/or done something absentminded such as put my keys in the freezer. That’s how many good sporting events were on TV this weekend, and I dutifully watched most of them. You know, because I’m dedicated to our readers.

There’s no way I could choose just one to write about. Plus, the sum of the weekend unquestionably was better than the individual parts. My musings:

* The U.S. Men’s National Team continued World Cup qualifying by traveling to Jamaica. The contest was decided late, the U.S. coughing up the lead and then taking it back on an improbable goal by a little-known player.

I know this because I watched it on a Web feed of a channel called beIN Sport. I’m going to assume that the airing was pirated because no station in its right mind would run ads promoting “ugly girls.” No, I’m not making that up.

But the point is this: There are roughly 87 million channels in the English-speaking world, and a vast majority of them offer at least one interesting show. However, we can’t watch it unless our cable/internet/satellite provider offers that channel. It’s about time a scientist somewhere go to work on fixing this, finding a way to make anything on any channel available to anybody – if only on the web or through iTunes – for a fee. It’d be like pay-per-view except for whatever you want to watch, not only for what’s explicitly offered.
We, the people, are willing to pay for it. Just give us the opportunity.

* The French Open wrapped up in relatively satisfying fashion for front-runner fans with Serena Williams and Rafa Nadal winning the women’s and men’s titles, respectively.

Serena slugged her way through the field so easily that I received an email in my work account wondering if she might be on something. Her semifinal win over a pint-sized Italian was neither fair not particularly fun to watch.
Meanwhile, Nadal returned to glory with his first Slam victory after a seven-month layoff due to injury. The way the tears welled in his eyes during the Spanish national anthem, I wondered if there was a time that he thought his career might be over. Then again, maybe he just got flare smoke in his eyes during the second of two bizarre match interruptions by fans.

On a related note, I showed some pretty remarkable restraint during the Nadal match, refusing to Google “Nadal, one arm bigger than the other” or the like. I’ve heard rumors that’s the case, and it does look possible from certain angles. But I’ve decided not to seek out this information, to let mystery prevail – to be uniformed about a trivial matter the way the bulk of the world used to be.

* For all the regrettable things people post on Twitter, I’m more apt to kick myself for NOT posting something. Such was the case Sunday, when it occurred to me that there was no way the Miami Heat were going to lose Game 2 of the NBA Finals. There were at least three reasons: They’re a really good team; Spurs hater Joey Crawford was chosen to ref the game; the league couldn’t risk another sweep in a postseason full of them.

It crossed my mind to let the world know that it should bet everything it owns on the Heat to win. But I didn’t, afraid that some poor kid would take the advice and end up losing the shirt off his back on my accord.

My bad. The game at first was controlled by members of the supporting casts and then dominated by the Heat – in part because Manu Ginobili was dreadful. It was as if he forgot how to dribble. I’ve seen this happen to other players on lesser levels, and it’s astounding every time. How can a guy be so off his game as to be incapable of reproducing any of the skills that he’d practiced and mastered over so many years? In this case, Ginobili’s freeze-up coincided with a career performance by teammate Danny Green, who briefly belonged to the D-League team in Sioux Falls just last season.

Strange stuff.

Yep, I think I’ll keep watching.

Welcome to this week’s links.

* Minneapolis is better than New York. When it comes to parks, according to one study, which states that Minneapolis has the best parks in the entire country. Thousands of New Yorkers just threw their food wrappers down in disgust in Central Park.

* The New York Times revisited a crazy story from several decades ago, when a guy landed a plane on the streets of upper Manhattan — twice. The second time he did it was because some dude in a bar didn’t believe he’d done it the first time. That’s much cooler than some drunk in the bar lying about having played minor league baseball and then tearing his rotator cuff when he tries to prove it by firing a beer glass through a window.

* Fun story with sideline reporters about what it’s like interviewing Gregg Popovich between quarters.

* Fourteen percent more men cook today than in 1965. I’m holding down the fort for those who still don’t.

* A public service story: When someone’s drowning, it doesn’t look like drowning. Especially if it’s a kid.

* Headlines you don’t want to see: Nuke Missile Crews Cite Morale-Sapping Pressures. 

*’s Wright Thompson had a long but amazing piece on racism in Italian soccer.

* Grantland looks at surprise TV and movie deaths in its YouTube Hall of Fame clips.

* Vanity Fair’s Mark Bowden investigates which Navy SEAL is telling the truth when it comes to the question of who shot Osama bin Laden. 

* Five rules of Kickstarter etiquette fund-raising filmmakers need to learn.

* For charity, Samuel L. Jackson performs a monologue from Breaking Bad. Jackson’s also a great follow on Twitter during the NBA playoffs as he often rants about his dislike of the Heat. 

* Hey young journos: Do you still dream of working for ESPN after reading this salacious account from Deadspin?

* Season 2 of the Jerry Seinfeld vehicle Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee is coming soon. Here’s a preview.

* The podcast of the week comes to us from the odd/admirable folks at Vice. Basically, one of their reporters has a semi-contentious discuss with the founder of American Apparel about the way clothing factories are run across the world. It’s interesting, but not relaxing.

In my continuing quest to convince taxi drivers and non-New Yorkers that Inwood is actually a part of Manhattan, a little look back at some history of the neighborhood.

And as always, I strongly suggest that people visit the neighborhood today too — it’s not what it was back in these videos and posts, but it remains as unique as ever. And as Law & Order: Criminal Intent explained, there’s even a type of code if you live here (which was don’t talk to the police; so if you do come here and have need to talk to the police, don’t follow the code).


TV and Fury intended to record a smart, rational podcast to preview the upcoming NBA Finals. Instead, they got sidetracked by their shared dislike of Justin Bieber’s favorite club (this week): The Miami Heat.

Not their finest moment. Growing up is hard.

Here’s the link.

Bieber: Not impressed by the latest TVFury pod.

Bieber: Not impressed by the latest TVFury pod.

For a relatively skinny guy, I like to eat. I’m hardly Anthony Bourdain in terms of food knowledge and/or palate sophistication, but I enjoy the process of learning about and devouring good grub. And I wouldn’t think of ordering the same entrée every time I dine. Because variety is supposed to be the spice of life.

But this mix-it-up philosophy does not translate to shoes. (more…)

I can already see how this Game 7 between the Pacers and Heat is going to go. You probably have similar visions. LeBron comes out and hits an 18-foot jumper. Pacers miss some early layups. Dwyane Wade gets an early layup, looking more Flash than Shell. Bosh hits a jumper, screams. Chalmers knocks down a 3. Lance Stephenson dribbles around aimlessly. Timeout Pacers, it’s about 11-2. The Heat never really sweat and cruise into the Finals.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Maybe Wade and Bosh struggle again — why would the final game be any different than the previous six? The Pacers again pound the Heat on the glass and make it ugly. They lead by 2 at the half and it’s tight all the way, with Paul George finally making a clinching 3 in the final minute in front of a very tanned, and very quiet crowd.

Or it stays close and without six minutes to go LeBron takes over for good, scores eight straight, blocks a Hibbert layup, dishes out to Mike Miller for a 3 that puts the Heat up 14, helps the South Dakota native up after he tears an oblique on the shot. I actually still can’t see the Heat losing but that’s because I don’t want to get too excited about the possibility. Still, with Wade sounding more and more like Pau Gasol or Andrew Bynum when it comes to needing to get involved in the flow of the offense, his excuse for being terrible, the Heat certainly aren’t the same team that won 27 in a row (it is amusing that when a Lakers player makes comments like Wade, it’s seen as proof that Kobe’s not a team player; I doubt we’ll see similar sentiments about LeBron).

Game 7s are the most exciting games in sports, no matter the league. But each one is different, even if the themes are always the same.