Sunday, June 01, 2014

Other People's Writing

I swear, I read other websites besides only Grantland.  It's just that they publish so much quality stuff, and it's easier for logistical purposes if I just arrange a bunch of Grantland pieces into one post, and what am I supposed to do, start an "Other Other People's Writing" series for non-Grantland writers?  That would be madness.

* Michael Weinreb profiles one of my all-time favourite authors, the late Elmore Leonard in a piece so wonderful I've re-read it twice since I started writing this post.  Leonard was the best.

* Danielle Elliot writes about the work of Dr. Miguel Nicolelis, who….well, I'll just let the article's intro tell you the whole story.  "Before Brazil and Croatia play the first game of the 2014 World Cup on June 12, a paralyzed person will stand and walk on the pitch, then kick a ball. This is the story of the Brazilian neuroscientists who developed the mind-controlled exoskeleton that will make it possible."  This is mind-blowing, game-changing, humanity-altering kind of science right here, utterly fascinating stuff.

* Zach Dionne ranks every episode of Louie, and while I have quibbles with a few placements here and there, it's a pretty strong list (though "Barney/Never" should be way higher).  Though this show is only in its fourth season, because every episode is so idiosyncratic, it feels like it's been on a lot longer --- the recaps of some of the S1 eps drew 'oh yeah' reactions from me.  I'm not even sure how you'd go about ranking and breaking down the current season given that six of the episodes are part of one long arc, or hell, maybe the whole thing is an arc this year given various recurring elements (i.e. Charles Grodin's doctor character was introduced in the opener and has played a role throughout, Louie uses the hockey tickets he receives from his overweight admirer to take his Hungarian sorta-girlfriend on a date, etc.)

* Shea Serrano predicts how you (yes, you) would fare in a fight against various rap and hip-hop stars.  I'm not sure I 100% agree with Serrano's methodology here, since if Anderson Silva read this post, I'm pretty sure I'd take him in a fight over, say, DMX.  (Ironically, Silva's entrance music is DMX's remix of Ain't No Sunshine, so I guess they'd be fighting over royalty rights?  Wouldn't Bill Withers need to be the surprise third entrant to make it a triangle match?)  Also, there's a 51% chance Drake would knock me out?  Bullshit.  I'm not sure what Drake and I would fight about, other than if we held our birthday parties at the same Toronto bar on the same night and our respective guest lists got into an argument over use of the pool table.

* Alex Pappademas eulogizes Don Levine, the creator of G.I. Joe.  I learned a lot I didn't know about the history of the toy from this obituary, and learning is half the battle.  It's possible I could've learned just as much from a G.I. Joe Wikipedia article, though I'm not going to check it out for fear that I'll learn Pappademas just cribbed half his piece from the entry. 

* TV's Bill Lawrence details going on the road for a comedy tour meant to promote his new show "Undateable," and it's also a glimpse into just how much of a crapshoot it is to put together a quality show and then an even bigger crapshoot to actually get it on the air and then an infinitely larger crapshoot to actually get people to watch.  It's sobering advice, especially when even someone like Lawrence is down on the process and he's had a trio (Scrubs, Cougartown, Spin City) of successful, long-running shows.

* Rembert Browne goes all fanboy in imagining the perfect Jay Z/Beyonce concert.  While I'm a very casual fan of both musicians and I know only the major singles, Browne's sheer enthusiasm over every aspect of this dream concert won me over.  Don't get me started on what my dream U2 concert would look like, as I'd be here all day.

* Sam Knight looks at the rise of the Belgian national soccer team through the lens of Belgium's peculiar national identity.  Aside from the Leonard profile, this is my favourite piece of the bunch, even if I couldn't quite actually believe that Belgium is going to contend at the World Cup.  I see them as one of those mid-major teams in college basketball that has a big season and earns a #2 seed in March Madness, then everyone picks them as a dark horse national champion…and the team proceeds to get upset in the second round.  I wouldn't be shocked if Belgium didn't get out of the group stage (they're paired with Russia, South Korea and Algeria) and if they do advance, they'll face one of the big Group G powerhouses (Germany, Portugal, USA, Ghana) in the first knockout stage.  The highlight of Belgium's World Cup run might be Knight's story.

* A look at some of the iconic NBA posters of the late 1980's and early 1990's, detailed by Netw3rk (one of the more underrated Grantland writers, I may add).  It's a nice article and a walk down memory lane, but mostly I'm including the link because it contains an image of this terrible Dale Ellis poster.  First of all, a Dale Ellis poster?!  Secondly, Dale Ellis' three-point sharpshooting made him my favourite player in my old Nintendo NBA game, and for a time my "favourite NBA team" in real life was simply whatever team Ellis was playing for that season.  As much as pre-teen Mark liked Ellis, there is no way on this earth that pre-teen Mark would've hung this hilariously awful poster on his bedroom wall.  Would thirtysomething Mark hang this poster on his bedroom wall out of sheer irony?  Maybe.

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