Saturday, February 15, 2014

Other People's Writing

Grantland faced a lot of criticism this past month for publishing what ended up being probably the most controversial article in the site's history --- Caleb Hannan's profile/expose of putter designer Dr. Essay Anne Vanderbilt, which began as a look at a new golf club and ended as a public outing of a transgendered woman.  Vanderbilt committed suicide a few months before the article was published, and while you can't draw a direct line between her death and the story (Vanderbilt had a history of suicide attempts), the fact that Hannan had uncovered her past as a man and had actually revealed that fact to one of her company's investors makes the timing awfully stark.  Bill Simmons wrote a piece explaining Grantland's decision to run the piece (and apologizing for the controversy), while ESPN's Christina Kahrl, a transgendered individual herself, also explored the problems with Hannan's story.

I don't really have any original take on the issue, aside from just echoing others in feeling that Hannan and Grantland's editors made some poor decisions in their handling of this story.  Beyond the gender issues, I'd also argue that Hannan's original intent (investigating this putter) was also pretty half-assed.  His conclusion about the putter's design and whether or not it actually works is basically summed up as, "meh, it's hard to tell, putting is up to the individual."  Real in-depth analysis, champ.  I'd also love to see a follow-up with Gary McCord given his involvement with endorsing the company and the fact that he's been silent about everything since the story broke.

* Steven Hyden probably thought he had the transgender issue corner covered on Grantland last month, but oh well.  Hyden profiles Laura Jane Grace, lead singer of Against Me!, who very publicly began living as a woman within the last two years.  It's a very interesting look at a person who's going through this massive change while she and her band are also going through a tough time in their careers.  My buddy Dave, a big Against Me! fan, had good things to say about their new album, praising it almost as much as Hyden does in this piece.

* It seems like I've been posting a lot about U2 lately but screw it, they're the best.  Here's an interview Hal Espen of the Hollywood Reporter conducted with the band, discussing their management changes, their (forever delayed) new album and the Oscar-nominated "Ordinary Love."  As cool as it would be to see U2 rack up an Oscars, I'm not sure if they have even the second-best song of the bunch.  "Let It Go" seems like the big favourite and Pharrell's "Happy" could be a contender since Pharrell is just so hot right now, plus it's a terrific song.

* I was a big fan of "Her" and enjoyed the film's futuristic take on Los Angeles that was actually shot in Shanghai, though Grantland's Molly Lambert wasn't so taken with the setting.  In this great piece, Lambert details some of Los Angeles' most famous portrayals on film as both itself and various generic urban landscapes.

* Grantland's Brian Phillips looks at Oklahoma's win over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, and really, he had me with the opening sketch about Nick Saban having a nap and obsessing over pushpins.  I'm a sucker for anything that makes Saban looks like a micromanaging lunatic.

* An oral history of the making of "Swingers" by Grantland's Alex French and Howie Kahn.  Here's a movie that I probably need to watch again…saw it 15-odd years ago and haven't revisited it since.  My aim is to one day be a guy who wears bowling shirts everywhere despite not being a bowler, so this film is critical to that dream.

* What better way to follow up a "Swingers" link than a breakdown of two legendary hockey video games?  Grantland's Sean McIndoe tries to determine which of NHLPA '93 and NHL '94 was the better game.  I've got to say, I'm firmly in the NHL '94 camp on this one, aside from the fact that my brother beat me 95% of the time, always by scoring those cheap wrap-arounds from behind the net and it drove me up the goddamned wall.  Not that I'm still bitter after 20 years. 

* Drake probably wants me to write something about him here, but I'm instead going to go ahead with this Philip Seymour Hoffman obituary from Grantland's Mark Harris that focuses on Hoffman's New York roots and his epic theatre career.  Just hearing about these "True West" performances or Hoffman's legendary role as Willy Loman makes me miss him all the more.

* Here's Joe Posnanski's hilarious analysis of a commercial for the Farmer's Only dating website.  I can't add anything to this aside from to say that Joe is dead-on, and this commercial is amazing.

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