I went a little berserk on the twitter last night. I watched a few games back to back on NFL Rewind, and just started tweeting. I think it beats my marathon Basketball Wives tweeting sessions. Anyway, a few things:
1.) I got to see Cam Newton's 422-yard performance against the Cardinals. It should be said that the Cardinals didn't look very good on defense. But it should also be said, that they really seemed to be coming after Newton. I thought he handled the rush about as well as I've ever seen a rookie QB in his debut game. Check out Chris Brown's mock-up of Newton's first NFL touchdown--a 77-yard bomb.
2.) I know the notion of playing under pressure has been basically debunked. But watching Tony Romo's performance, and comparing it to his numbers, will make you suspicious. All interceptions and fumbles are killers, but some are just genocidal. I have no idea why Romo was running with the ball like a loaf of bread near the goal line, or what made him say, "Hey my number one receiver is hurt, I think this is a good time to test the best cornerback in the league."
With that said, I suspect the desire to take chances cuts both ways. I'm sure Romo could play smarter at the end of football games. But I wounder if the same urge to try for the touchdown, isn't the same urge that makes him a good quarterback. That touchdown to Miles Austin, really could have been picked off.
Finally, I'd love to see a statistical breakdown of QBs in the fourth quarter. The vague sense that Romo isn't a "clutch players" needs to be measured against some math.
3.) I got to chatting last night on the twitter last night with a dude who can't watch the games on Sunday because his RPG group plays at the same time. This was shocking. I really thought I was the only person in the world who generally believed "Against The Giants" to be a really cool double entendre.
It got me to wondering why nerds tend toward baseball, instead of football. I don't know if the brawny, muscle-headed rep of the game scares away geeks, but football always struck me as a game for intellectuals--chess with concussions as someone said on twitter, or RTS with actual people.
I was nerd almost as a matter of biology. But given where I grew up, I never thought of myself as such until much later. I wasn't stuffed into my locker (that was rather dangerous in 1989) and was generally pretty well liked. I never really felt socially banished. So I lack the standard nerd-narrative of pariah status.
You just had to love Ronnie Lott in West Baltimore. There wasn't much choice. The way we played the game, was the way we wanted to live You had to know what it meant for Doug Williams to ether John Elway. It was like hip-hop--a hood lingua franca.
4.) Here are some thoughts from Detroit on the NFL's worst owner:
Well, the Fontes/Ross era combined for six playoff appearances in nine seasons; the Lions made the playoffs eight times in 58 seasons prior to Fontes' arrival (well, Barry's arrival). The Lions went 9-7 in 2000, missing the playoffs thanks to Paul Edinger's game-winning FG in week 17.
As a result, Ford hired a broadcaster with no previous front office experience, watched him tear down a veteran team and replace it with a 2-14 version ... despite four consecutive seasons during which the Lions never approached that 9-7 mark, Ford rewarded Millen with a contract extension. At that point, Millen had led the Lions to a 16-48 record, tied for the 12th-worst four-season stretch since the advent of the 16-game schedule in 1978, and yet Ford made him reportedly the second-highest-paid general manager in the league. (I didn't even know that before. RAEG.)
At the end of his tenure, the Lions were 31-97 over that eight-season stretch (giving Millen the blame for all of 2008), ninth-worst in NFL history. The two franchises who managed worse streaks were the Cardinals, various periods from 1936 to 1945, and the Eagles, various periods from 1933 to 1943. (They each had four streaks that overlapped.) In essence, Millen took an average team and made it a WWII-era bottom-feeder. And the event that led to all this was arguably B. Sanders choosing to quit rather than to put up with another year of the lunacy that is football in Detroit.
That event is probably on par with a hypothetical ousting of Parcells, especially given what Parcells managed in Miami and what Barry contributed to in Detroit. (Five of the Lions' 10 modern playoff appearances came during Barry's career.) Ford has owned the team for 51 years. In the 50 seasons under his watch, the Lions have won 10 games or more 5 times. They've won exactly 1 playoff game. Snyder matched that total in his first year as owner (they beat the Lions, in fact, in 1999), and his Redskins have won 10 games twice in 11 seasons.
I can certainly understand the frustration that Redskins fans must feel, watching a storied franchise slowly being driven into the ditch by Voldemort, but trust me, Snyder has a long, long way to go to be the worst in the league. The fact that he's openly dumb just makes his stupidity more obvious; Ford's ability to hide in the shadows doesn't make his any less important. (We could throw in Mike Brown and Bill Bidwill for good measure; I'm not entirely convinced that Bidwill even realizes his Cardinals nearly won the Super Bowl once. If Snyder wants to lead the NFL in incompetence, he'd better be prepared for a long battle ... there are masters at work before him.)
I'd insert some word about Jerry Jones here, but I don't think I'm qualified anymore. More on that later.
5.) Another endorsement for NFL Rewind which is offering a free trial through September 19. The game really looks spectacular. Watching Newton yesterday got me thinking a lot about story-telling. I knew he lost the game, and yet on that final drive my blood was still up. It was as though I expected him to defy space-time.
It's very similar to story-telling in that way. How can we know that D'Angelo is a dead man and root for him anyway? Know what happens at the end is good. Knowing how it happened is so much better.
6.) I bought a glass bodum tea pot. I make mint tea every morning and every night. I think I'm in love.
What J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic The Hobbit still has to offer, 80 years after its publication
“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” So began the legendarium that dominated a genre, changed Western literature and the field of linguistics, created a tapestry of characters and mythology that endured four generations, built an anti-war ethos that endured a World War and a Cold War, and spawned a multibillion-dollar media franchise. J.R.R. Tolkien’s work is probably best remembered today by the sword-and-sandal epic scale of The Lord of The Rings films, but it started in the quiet, fictionalized English countryside of the Shire. It started, 80 years ago in a hobbit-hole, with Bilbo Baggins.
Although Tolkien created the complicated cosmological sprawl of The Silmarillion and stories like the incestuous saga of Túrin Turambar told in The Children of Húrin, Middle-earth itself is mostly remembered today as something akin to little Bilbo in his Hobbit-hole: quaint, virtuous, and tidy. Nowadays, George R.R. Martin’s got the market cornered on heavily initialed fantasy writers, and his hand guides the field. High and epic fantasy are often expected to dip heavily into the medieval muck of realism, to contain heavy doses of sex and curses, gore and grime, sickness and believable motives and set pieces. Characters like Martin’s mercenary Bronn of the Blackwater are expected to say “fuck.” Modern stories, even when set in lands like A Song of Ice and Fire’s Essos that are filled with competing faiths, tend toward the nihilist, and mostly atheist. Heavenly beings are denuded of potency and purity; while the gods may not be dead, divinity certainly is.
The president’s latest comments shouldn’t be surprising—but his deliberate inflammation of tense situations is no less stunning.
During last year’s presidential campaign, I conducted a running feature called the “Trump Time Capsule.” Its purpose was to chronicle the things Donald Trump said or did that were entirely outside the range of previous presidents or major-party nominees. This, in turn, was meant to lay down a record of what was known about this man, as the electorate decided whether to elevate him to presidential power.
By the time the campaign ended, the series had reached installment #152. Who Donald Trump was, and is, was absolutely clear by election day: ignorant, biased, narcissistic, dishonest. As Ta-Nehisi Coates argues in our current issue, everyone who voted for him did so with ample evidence about the kind of person they considered the “better” choice, or even as a minimally acceptable choice for president. Almost nothing Trump has done since taking office should come as a surprise.
At a game played in London on Sunday afternoon, many of their fellow Ravens and Jaguars took a knee.
Before the Lions met the Falcons in Detroit on Sunday, Rico LaVelle sang “The Star-Spangled Banner.” And then he took a knee.
They were replicating the gesture of Colin Kaepernick, the former 49ers quarterback who, starting in 2016, had been kneeling during the pre-game singing of the national anthem. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick explained. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” Kaepernick’s 49ers teammates, Eric Reid and Eli Harold, took a knee. The Beaumont Bulls, a high school team, took a knee. Their collective protests, however, had been limited—deviations from the norm.
The foundation of Donald Trump’s presidency is the negation of Barack Obama’s legacy.
It is insufficient to statethe obvious of Donald Trump: that he is a white man who would not be president were it not for this fact. With one immediate exception, Trump’s predecessors made their way to high office through the passive power of whiteness—that bloody heirloom which cannot ensure mastery of all events but can conjure a tailwind for most of them. Land theft and human plunder cleared the grounds for Trump’s forefathers and barred others from it. Once upon the field, these men became soldiers, statesmen, and scholars; held court in Paris; presided at Princeton; advanced into the Wilderness and then into the White House. Their individual triumphs made this exclusive party seem above America’s founding sins, and it was forgotten that the former was in fact bound to the latter, that all their victories had transpired on cleared grounds. No such elegant detachment can be attributed to Donald Trump—a president who, more than any other, has made the awful inheritance explicit.
More comfortable online than out partying, post-Millennials are safer, physically, than adolescents have ever been. But they’re on the brink of a mental-health crisis.
One day last summer, around noon, I called Athena, a 13-year-old who lives in Houston, Texas. She answered her phone—she’s had an iPhone since she was 11—sounding as if she’d just woken up. We chatted about her favorite songs and TV shows, and I asked her what she likes to do with her friends. “We go to the mall,” she said. “Do your parents drop you off?,” I asked, recalling my own middle-school days, in the 1980s, when I’d enjoy a few parent-free hours shopping with my friends. “No—I go with my family,” she replied. “We’ll go with my mom and brothers and walk a little behind them. I just have to tell my mom where we’re going. I have to check in every hour or every 30 minutes.”
Those mall trips are infrequent—about once a month. More often, Athena and her friends spend time together on their phones, unchaperoned. Unlike the teens of my generation, who might have spent an evening tying up the family landline with gossip, they talk on Snapchat, the smartphone app that allows users to send pictures and videos that quickly disappear. They make sure to keep up their Snapstreaks, which show how many days in a row they have Snapchatted with each other. Sometimes they save screenshots of particularly ridiculous pictures of friends. “It’s good blackmail,” Athena said. (Because she’s a minor, I’m not using her real name.) She told me she’d spent most of the summer hanging out alone in her room with her phone. That’s just the way her generation is, she said. “We didn’t have a choice to know any life without iPads or iPhones. I think we like our phones more than we like actual people.”
Colin Kaepernick and other athletes have a better claim on the United States’s symbols and their meaning.
President Trump apparently slept on it overnight and woke up early on Sunday morning thinking: “Yes, I will fight a cultural war against black athletes.”
In two Sunday morning tweets, Trump urged a boycott of the National Football League until owners punished players who refused to stand for the national anthem, in protest of police brutality and racial injustice—capping a weekend of taunting and trash-talking that began at his Alabama rally Friday night. He’s now created a situation in which it will seem almost unmanly for black athletes, and not only football players, not to take a knee during the anthem. If they stand for the anthem, they will seem to do so at Trump’s command. How can they not resist?
A new film details the reason the star postponed her recent tour—and will test cultural attitudes about gender, pain, and pop.
“Pain without a cause is pain we can’t trust,” the author Leslie Jamison wrote in 2014. “We assume it’s been chosen or fabricated.”
Jamison’s essay “Grand Unified Theory of Female Pain” unpacked the suffering-woman archetype, which encompasses literature’s broken hearts (Anna Karenina, Miss Havisham) and society’s sad girls—the depressed, the anorexic, and in the 19th century, the tubercular. Wariness about being defined by suffering, she argued, had led many modern women to adopt a new pose. She wrote, “The post-wounded woman conducts herself as if preempting certain accusations: Don’t cry too loud; don’t play victim.” Jamison questioned whether this was an overcorrection. “The possibility of fetishizing pain is no reason to stop representing it,” she wrote. “Pain that gets performed is still pain.”
Thirty minutes. That’s about how long it would take a nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launched from North Korea to reach Los Angeles. With the powers in Pyongyang working doggedly toward making this possible—building an ICBM and shrinking a nuke to fit on it—analysts now predict that Kim Jong Un will have the capability before Donald Trump completes one four-year term.
About which the president has tweeted, simply, “It won’t happen!”
Though given to reckless oaths, Trump is not in this case saying anything that departs significantly from the past half century of futile American policy toward North Korea. Preventing the Kim dynasty from having a nuclear device was an American priority long before Pyongyang exploded its first nuke, in 2006, during the administration of George W. Bush. The Kim regime detonated four more while Barack Obama was in the White House. In the more than four decades since Richard Nixon held office, the U.S. has tried to control North Korea by issuing threats, conducting military exercises, ratcheting up diplomatic sanctions, leaning on China, and most recently, it seems likely, committing cybersabotage.
A good marriage is no guarantee against infidelity.
“Most descriptions of troubled marriages don’t seem to fit my situation,” Priya insists. “Colin and I have a wonderful relationship. Great kids, no financial stresses, careers we love, great friends. He is a phenom at work, fucking handsome, attentive lover, fit, and generous to everyone, including my parents. My life is good.” Yet Priya is having an affair. “Not someone I would ever date—ever, ever, ever. He drives a truck and has tattoos. It’s so clichéd, it pains me to say it out loud. It could ruin everything I’ve built.”
Priya is right. Few events in the life of a couple, except illness and death, carry such devastating force. For years, I have worked as a therapist with hundreds of couples who have been shattered by infidelity. And my conversations about affairs have not been confined within the cloistered walls of my therapy practice; they’ve happened on airplanes, at dinner parties, at conferences, at the nail salon, with colleagues, with the cable guy, and of course, on social media. From Pittsburgh to Buenos Aires, Delhi to Paris, I have been conducting an open-ended survey about infidelity.
Two new books explore America’s changing romantic landscape.
C.S. Lewis’s wife, Joy Davidman, died of bone cancer on July 13, 1960. The next day, the famous author wrote a letter to Peter Bide, the priest who had married them, to tell him the news.
“I’d like to meet,” Lewis writes, suggesting the two grab lunch sometime soon. “For I am—oh God that I were not—very free now. One doesn’t realize in early life that the price of freedom is loneliness. To be happy is to be tied.”
When it comes to romance, Americans are freer than they’ve ever been. Freer to marry, freer to divorce, freer to have sex when and with whom they like with fewer consequences, freer to cohabitate without getting married, freer to remain single, freer to pursue open relationships or polyamory.