Culture

Play Ball

Baseball’s Borders

By 4.25.14

As a lad in school my concern for what my teachers wished me to learn, and their fusty behavioral restrictions, were considerably less than central to me. I had other fish to fry. Mostly having to do with baseball, girls, and turning a few bob delivering Tampa’s afternoon newspaper.  

One of my few distinctions, but not one I include on my résumé, is that I remain the only student in the history of Woodrow Wilson Junior High School in Tampa to get an F-squared in Algebra One. It’s not that I’m quantitatively feeble-minded. I can calculate earned-run-averages in my head. But the fact was that my girlfriend — perhaps more accurately the girl I hoped would become my girlfriend — sat in the desk right in front of me, leaving little of my attention span available for the Xs and Ys on the blackboard. Besides, how often in the course of nine innings does X minus Y come up? Never, that’s how often.

But in Tuesday’s New York Times there was a geography lesson even I would have paid attention to in junior high.

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The Beer Spectator: Why Drink Cheap Lagers?

By on 4.23.14 | 5:35PM

“I’m surprised you’re drinking that swill,” my observant roommate uttered.

“It’s refreshing, it’s cold, and I don’t have to think about it,” I replied about my beer of choice for the evening.

That beer, commonly called PBR, is one of my go-tos on a low budget week. When I can find PBR by the twelve-pack, I pick it up. Why not? 

Some hate the taste. Some reject it for its simplicity. Some even frown upon its very existence.

Yet we ignore the passion that follows such a beer; a fiery love that drives a community in Milwaukee to “bring PBR home.”

This week I'm taking a break from spring seasonals to address a question: What makes us love something so simple? The answer: It’s refreshing, comforting, cheap, and it reminds us of home.

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Game of Thrones: Sin in the Sept

By on 4.22.14 | 4:03PM

Recap: Royal funeral, Sansa’s getaway, incestuous sex scene, Lannister-Dorne geopolitical conspiracy, Oberyn bisexual orgy, the Hound’s reckless robbery, Gilly-Sam sexual tension, blood magic, senseless slaughter and an impending wilding threat, Jorah Mormont friend-zoning, and one-on-one combat for the city of Meereen. Oh, and spoilers. 

“Your joy will turn to ashes in your mouth, and you’ll know the debt is paid,” Tyrion warned Cersei back in season two. A Lannister always pays his debts, even debts with other Lannisters. Yet Tyrion is falsely accused, so which Lannister am I talking about?

Rather than ponder the question: “Who had the most incentive to kill Joffrey?” we should instead ponder: “Who had the most incentive to frame Tyrion?” Perhaps Lord Tywin is responsible for Joffrey’s gasping demise. After all, Tyrion is a blemish of shame on the Lannister’s Lion sigil. Lord Tywin blames Tyrion for his family’s shortcomings. Tywin’s wife died giving birth to the “hideous monster.” And yet, Tyrion and Tywin are the most alike—calculating, pragmatic strategists with an appreciation for power.

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Yes, Women Need Their Own Restrooms

By on 4.21.14 | 5:28PM

Occasionally Slate has a good piece, but an article today titled “Sex-segregated public restrooms are an outdated relic of Victorian paternalism” had nearly no redeeming qualities.

In it, Ted Trautman argues that we should do away with gender-specific bathrooms because they are leftovers of nineteenth-century sexism and needless chivalry.

But Ted’s male brain has obstructed the reality that for some women, this isn’t a matter of chivalry; it’s a matter of safety.

“Gender equal” bathrooms will become an excellent place for perverts to prey on vulnerable people. I can’t count how many times I’ve walked into a five-stall women’s restroom and checked each stall to make sure no men were hiding in them – particularly near closing time in a mall when the restrooms seem abandoned.

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Don’t Mess With Boston

By on 4.21.14 | 3:47PM

It was a day like any other.

That’s always how these stories start, isn’t it?

On April 15, 2013, most runners and supporters didn’t think much about security. They were fighting back butterflies as they imagined finishing a marathon, or letting out cheers as they rooted for a dad or sister or best friend.

Some folks knew family and friends would be there, but couldn’t make it or had other plans. They figured they’d see the photos later on Twitter and Facebook.

But bloody pictures of a bomb’s aftermath? No one expected that.

I’m a Massachusetts native, so when the news bombarded my Facebook feed I made frantic calls and got the news. Thankfully, no one I knew had been hurt.

But for 264 others and their families, the tragedy lives on. For them, “Boston Strong” is more than a nice catch phrase that makes you feel good about being a Red Sox fan. For the families of Krystle Campbell, Martin William Richard, Lingzi Lu, and Sean Collier, “Boston Strong” is a salve for the deep wounds their lost lives left.

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New Journalism’s Gaping Hole

By on 4.21.14 | 11:23AM

Much has been made about Ezra Klein’s move to Vox Media. He eschewed traditional outlets like the Washington Post (or, perhaps more likely, they weren’t interested in funding his pet project) for Internet upstart Vox Media. In some ways, I applaud Klein’s entrepreneurial spirit. If the Post doesn't want his idea, he’ll make it a reality somewhere else. On the other hand, is there anything more insipid than explanatory journalism? This new-fangled term is Klein’s way of saying that he will fully explain every subject to his sadly uninformed audience. He and Vox will dive into every nitty-gritty detail while still following the daily news cycle.

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Leave the Duggars Alone

By on 4.18.14 | 12:43PM

Amanda Marcotte just couldn’t resist a dirty jab at the Duggars.

In her scathing article at the Daily Beast yesterday, the feminist blogger predicted the end of the Duggar Dynasty.

The popular TLC show “19 Kids and Counting” follows the semi-chaotic, but strangely normal and splendidly wholesome lives of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar and their nineteen children. Their oldest son is married and has three children of his own; one daughter is engaged and another has a serious boyfriend.

Sure, the Duggars are extreme even for many conservative Christians. They don’t watch TV, the girls all wear skirts and dresses, and for goodness sake, there are nineteen of them. However, they aren’t the women-hating, female-abusing psychos Marcotte presents them as.

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Boob Tube

The French Zombie Show You Didn’t Even Know You Needed

By 4.17.14

There’s a scene in the second half of the Peabody Award-winning French TV show The Returned (Les Revenants) where two characters are swimming across a reservoir. One cries out and disappears. The other dives under the surface and searches for him, but with no luck. Eventually, he gives up. The first person is gone, apparently without a trace.

Give or take a few traces (a body, say), this is how death is supposed to work, particularly if you don’t believe in an afterlife: you swim along and someone around you disappears. Then the water closes over them and life goes on, until it doesn’t. And even if you do believe in an afterlife, you do not expect the sudden resurfacing of your lost companion to be any time soon.

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Media Matters

Colbert to Cable

By 4.16.14

The world of late night television been through upheaval lately, none of which seems specifically designed to make it funnier. First, Jay Leno retired and ushered in Jimmy Fallon, who has all the late-night charisma of a slice of Steak & Shake Texas toast. Not to be outdone, Fallon replaced himself with SNL alum Seth Meyers who was mostly notable for making SNL less funny. And not to be outdone by his NBC competitors, David Letterman will be replaced by Stephen Colbert, who is not a late-night talk show host or stand-up comedian, but a caricature of a Fox News talk show host last popular in 2004.

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Game of Thrones: Marriage, Murder, and Spoilers

By on 4.15.14 | 3:53PM

It was a dragonless night on the Game of Thrones political battlefield, but it certainly did not want for violence. Instead, viewers were greeted with one of Ramsey Snow’s torture scenes, Melisandre's human sacrifice of infidels in the name of the lord of light, another royal wedding, and another royal funeral. Joffrey has tortured his last court jester!

First, a few words on the torture scene. Ramsey Snow fed his female victim to the dogs. I gritted my teeth as I awaited the camera to pan onto the victim ripped apart by hounds. But it didn’t. There was no glimpse of her bloody body. Has HBO reached its limit on showing violence?

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