Sunday, July 27, 2014

Other People's Writing

Shea Serrano is all over this month's OPW, beginning with his Grantland examination of which R&B singer's music will most likely lead to sex.  See, I've been going about this all wrong, when I'm trying to woo my lady, I put on a CD of speeches by R.B. Bennett.  It is spectacularly ineffective at putting her in the mood.

* Serrano is back again, teaming with fellow Grantlander Bill Barnwell to determine the greatest sports movie villain of all time.  I like Serrano's writing style but admittedly, he's a bit of an acquired taste.  (My pal Kyle literally sent me a text once pondering/complaining why Serrano keeps getting things published on Grantland.)  It definitely complements Serrano's off-the-wall style when he's paired with a very straight-laced writer like Barnwell, whose NFL stuff I enjoy reading but man, he seems like one of the dullest people around.  His appearances on Simmons' podcasts are cures for insomnia, with the only entertaining coming when Simmons makes some asinine opinion about the NFL and Barnwell has to figure out a way to tell his boss that he's dead wrong in the politest way possible.  This said, I'm a fan of the Barnwell/Serrano comedy duo and would love to see them team up in the future.  (Not crazy about their methodology, however.  The Beast from 'The Sandlot' has no chance of becoming likeable?  He does so literally before the movie even ends!)

* This time writing for Deadspin, Serrano describes playing old Nintendo games and, as a sideline, describes having sex while wearing a Nintendo Power Glove.  Admittedly, I related more to the part about playing the games.  I just can't believe he didn't work a 'no glove, no love' joke in there somehow.  This piece absolutely hits home for me as a child of the 80's and early 90's, and Serrano is absolutely right about the glory related to finally beating Mike Tyson in Punch-Out.  When I was a kid, I was at a birthday party and saw a friend beat Tyson, whereupon all of us celebrated like crazy.  It's possible we lifted that kid up on our shoulders and carried him around, no joke.

* Speaking of late 80's/early 90's nostalgia, here's Grantland's Steven Hyden discussing how he still loves to listen to music on compact discs.  I sympathize heavily, given the tons of CDs I have back at my parents' house.  I'll probably never stop buying CDs as long as my favourite artists (U2, Pearl Jam, Springsteen, etc.) are still releasing records, since I'll always want to add to my collection with a proper CD.  I can't just download something and burn it onto a disc, that'd be cheating!

* In another Grantland piece, Mimi Hanaoka looks at how pro wrestling legend turned Japanese politician Antonio Inoki has been using wrestling as a diplomatic tool for decades, with a surprising amount of success.  Canada and the USA could've used him in 1997 when tensions between the two countries were high thanks to the Hart Foundation/Stone Cold Steve Austin feud.

* Claire L. Evans, writing for Grantland, has an interesting thought piece that asks this question: what would happen if you would magically take Ben Franklin and bring him to the present, then show him the new Transformers movie?  It's a good reminder of just how far technology has evolved, somewhat akin to the Arthur C. Clarke law about how "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."  I'd also like to think that Franklin, even with no context whatsoever, would be disgusted by Mark Wahlberg's acting.
* This is almost a year old, but the New Yorker's Simon Rich takes the "man walks into a bar" joke to its logical extreme.  I'm going to a fancy dinner party next week, so thank goodness I have a witty New Yorker piece to discuss and brag about reading.

* And finally, here's a must-read for all you 'Orange Is The New Black' fans, as Larry Smith (the 'real-life Larry') tells the story of he and the 'real Piper' (Piper Kernan), covering everything from how they met to how they dealt with her incarceration to their rise to fame thanks to the TV show.  Interestingly, Smith doesn't really touch on the events of the second season, when (SPOILER ALERT) not only are Piper and Larry not a couple, but Larry is now engaged to Piper's best friend.  I'm going to go ahead and presume that didn't actually happen in real life, though the issue of whether Larry actually went ahead and watched 'Mad Men' without Piper remains unsettled.  

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