Friday, May 27, 2016

Other People's Writing

Holy smokes, Other People’s Writing is back!  With fanfare!

* Blog readers know how I'm often championing 'The Americans' as both perhaps the best show on TV and absolutely the most underrated given how it's inexplicably ignored by both audiences and awards shows.  Little did I know that the show was in part based on a real-life situation involving Russian sleeper agents raising a family in the United States, as chronicled by The Guardian's Shaun Walker.  Tell you what, to avoid spoilers, watch all three-plus seasons and THEN come back to read the article.  I'll wait.

* Joe Posnanski openly admits ranking the top 100 Summer Olympics athletes of all time is a fruitless endeavour, so I can't complain too much over nonsense like his ranking most of the Dream Team into 11 slots.  Then again, he leaves off Christian Laettner, which is patently hilarious.

* Animaniacs was watched by pretty much everyone in my generation so we didn’t need to “get it,” though it’s certainly one of those shows that you really needed to see to understand (or believe).  The Toast’s Abbey Fenbert sums up the show as well as possible, and I'll also mention that Tiny Toon Adventures was an important and necessary forerunner in the "incredibly postmodern WB cartoons" canon.  Sixteen-year-old Mark watching Citizen Kane for the first time was pretty blown away to realize that he'd already seen the entire film spoofed via Tiny Toons' "Citizen Max" episode (plus several gags on the Simpsons).

* The SNL "ten to 1" sketch to end all ten-to-1 sketches may well have been the legendarily weird potato chip sketch, the creation of which is chronicled in this oral history by Uproxx's Mike Ryan.  To this day, I cannot figure out how Will Forte, Jason Sudeikis and Blake Lively got through that thing without so much as a smirk out of character.  Forte and Sudeikis were tough nuts to crack (in fact, I'm not sure I saw Forte break character even once in all his years on the show) but for a first-timer like Lively to get through it, that takes skill.  Between this and living every day having to laugh at Ryan "Tries Too Hard" Reynolds' jokes, is Blake Lively the best actress of our generation?

* Few celebrities inspired as much mystique as Prince, who was essentially the potato chip sketch of musicians.  In the wake of his death, Vulture's David Marchese re-published an old compilation of 24 of the best eccentric Prince stories, and I can only imagine they're all true.

* It almost feels like Tiger Woods is approaching that Prince zone where almost any anecdote (no matter how odd) can be instantly believed, if this piece by Wright Thompson is any indication.  Tiger believes in ghosts?  Sure.  Tiger has no confidence around women, much to the shock of Michael Jordan and Derek Jeter?  Why not.  Tiger considered leaving golf entirely to enter Navy SEAL training?  Checks out.  I can't recommend this piece highly enough if you're a golf fan.

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