Friday, December 25, 2015

Rembert Browne: Who Won 2015?

Vulture - "Who Won 2015?"

Filming The Revenant

Popular Science - "We Talked to the Man Who Shot Leonardo DiCaprio (and a Bear)"

"We decided to film in two locations [Canada and Argentina]. When we started doing all of the scouting, we were very extensive. We drove more than 10,000 miles, and found that we couldn’t do it in America because the nature was just decimated. Rivers were dammed, all of them, and the forests have been cut and replaced with farmland everywhere. It was a sad situation. We went to Canada, then, and there is a little more left, and it was still accessible. We didn’t want to shoot at the end of the world."

The New Japanese Stadium

CNN - "Japan unveils design for 2020 Olympic stadium ... again"

"The steel and wood concept resembles traditional Japanese temples and stands at a relatively short 50 meters (164 feet) with its main sports field sunken under the ground. The stadium is estimated to cost 154 billion yen ($1.26 billion) and will accommodate 80,000 people."


(previously: Andre the Giant Tall Tale)

Atlas Obscura - "The Story Behind the Famous Portrait of Andre the Giant Clutching a Beer Can"

"The writer who penned the piece, Terry Todd, noted that Roussimoff’s wrists are more than a foot in circumference—“about average for an adult male western lowland gorilla”—and that you can pass a silver dollar through his ring, which would make it around a size 30. In the accompanying 8,000 word article, “To the Giant among Us”, Todd takes the reader on a rollicking journey with the amiable Roussimoff from New York to Montreal, where they finally end up in the wrestler’s own French cafe, Le Pitcher."


"Rousimoff knew his life was likely to be shorter than most. “If I were to die tomorrow,” he said in the article, “I know I have eaten more good food, drunk more beer and fine wine, had more friends and seen more of the world than most men ever will.”"

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Island on an Unnamed Planet

UNESCO World Heritage Site Skellig Michael

The Top Podcasts of 2015

Vulture - "The 10 Best Podcasts and 10 Best Podcast Episodes of 2015"

1. Death, Sex, and Money
2. You Must Remember This
3. BuzzFeed's Another Round
4. Reply All
5. NPR's How to Do Everything
6. Song Exploder
7. The Watch
8. Limetown / The Message / The Black Types Podcast
9. Happier With Gretchen Rubin
10. Criminal

Learning from Sports Entertainment

IndieWire - "Francis Ford Coppola Reflects on the Past, Present and Future of Cinema"

"We've had so many years of canned stories, the only area where there's still some surprise is in sports, where you don't know what's going to happen and they don't know what's going to happen. With this, stories will be really exciting."

"Sunday Night Football Is the Best Show on TV"

Western vs Eastern Culture

New York Times - "Walmart Can’t Escape Clutter. Can You?"

"Consumer spending this fall has barely budged upward and many store chains are struggling with low sales and falling stock prices. The reluctance to spend might be a result of general skittishness or a residual fear left over from the Great Recession. Or perhaps, inspired by books like the No. 1 best seller “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing,” Americans are striving to lead simpler, more spiritual lives, free of the stuff and clutter filling up their homes and lives.

They won’t find much Zen at the mall, where stores are cluttered with merchandise and promotions like never before.

There is a basic rule of thumb in retail: The more stuff in the aisle and the more promotional the environment, the higher the sales."

The Sounds of Star Wars

Friday, December 18, 2015

Monday, December 14, 2015


From Peter King:

"Interesting side note: The only perfect team in the modern era of pro football to go unbeaten through the regular season and playoffs is the 1972 Dolphins. Don Shula coached that team, of course. And his son, Mike Shula, is Carolina’s offensive coordinator. I asked Mike Shula to be honest: Does his father want Carolina to go unbeaten, or is he just saying he does because he’s a good dad?

“Deep down?” said Mike Shula. “I think he’s rooting harder than anyone for us to do it.”"

"The oldest stadium now employed by an N.F.L. team is Chicago’s Soldier Field"

New York Times - "Soldier Field: A Football Cathedral Never Really Meant for Football"

"As Liam T.A. Ford wrote in his 2009 book on Soldier Field (University of Chicago Press), Chicago boosters wished to “outrival Paris” and “build the largest, most beautiful public arena in the world.”Their mayor, William Thompson, known as Big Bill, called for a vast 150,000-seat stadium, which would honor Chicago’s fallen World War I soldiers, exceeding what “the Romans had ever built.”"

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

"swagger is galactic"

The Atlantic - "The Gangsta Rapper Tully Blanchard"

73-9? Sport of the times?

FiveThirtyEight - "It’s Time To Take The Warriors’ Chances Of Going 73-9 Seriously"

New York Times new Critic-At-Large Wesley Morris on destination TV shows:

"I am trying to watch less professional football, for any number of reasons, and more professional basketball, for many reasons more."

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Nick Offerman's 'Yule Log'

BuzzFeed - "This Video Of Ron Swanson Drinking Whisky For 45 Minutes Is The Only Yule Log You Need"

The Drive to Win

MinnPost - "'I am dying to win': a Q&A with the Timberwolves' Ricky Rubio"

"I think I bring something that is unique. The leadership [pauses] — I think it is part of playing the point. When a point guard is unselfish and thinking about the team, about winning first, it relates to the other players. So, I think that is my style of play. I come from a winning team in Europe and I know what it takes to win games and to win championships.

And I am dying to win. When I go to bed and we’ve won that day, no matter what I did on the court, I am happy. And if we lost, no matter what I did, I am sad. That feeling comes from me, on the inside, and I think when I am out there playing I am sharing that with my teammates."

The Nice Guys Trailer

May 20, 2016
Directed by Shane Black
Written by Shane Black and Anthony Bagarozzi
Starring Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Professional College Football

New York Times - "The Best Teams? Look at the Big Games"
By Gregg Easterbrook

"Virginia Tech just replaced the storied Frank Beamer with Justin Fuente of Memphis, who walked out on a five-year contract he signed less than 12 months ago. Nobody put a gun to Fuente’s head and forced him to agree to that December 2014 deal. Fuente, who’s leaving Memphis immediately — good luck in that bowl game, Tigers — breaks his promises to the University of Memphis and to the young men he recruited. In recruiting, most college football coaches preach loyalty and family. Then when dollars are waved, it’s see you later. Virginia Tech faithful: Fuente did not keep his word at Memphis; why assume he will keep his word to you? Apparently the Virginia Tech program is changing in more ways than one, from Beamer’s character-first approach to the almighty-dollar mind-set.

To the N.C.A.A., Fuente’s move is fine, because anything that enriches coaches and athletic administrators is kosher. If a big-college N.C.A.A. football player wants to be released from his written commitment to accept a better offer at another university, this can be forbidden. What about the sanctity of the contract you signed, son!"

Vice Sports - "Amateur Athletics Programs Don't Pay Coaches $15 Million to Not Coach"

Interview With a Director Pt. 2 – Alejandro González Iñárritu

Wall Street Journal - "Director Alejandro González Iñárritu on Leonardo DiCaprio, ‘Birdman’ and the Importance of a Proper Lunch"

Andrew Goldman: After your father was kidnapped, and your mother brutally robbed in Mexico City, you chose to relocate your family to Los Angeles in 2001 to escape the violence. Culturally, what American habit was the hardest thing to accept?

Alejandro González Iñárritu: Eating from plastic in offices. I couldn’t understand it. Because when I arrived, a friend of mine gave me a room in his office, and there were a lot of people there. And they would have this food come in, and they’d eat it at their desks in plastic containers using plastic tools. It was shocking to me. I have a lot of work too, but I could always go have a nice lunch with the proper kind of tools. And I missed the sobremesa, which literally means the “over table.” When you finish your meal, you spend maybe the same time that you took eating to talk, with coffee, maybe a little wine. It’s when you have a little cigarette with your wine and then—deliciously gossip. It’s that pleasurable moment.

. . . . .

 AG: So you’ve never been sitting with some Hulk script with your wife, seriously debating doing one?

AGI: No. And I’m an idiot, because, honestly, financially it would solve a lot. I’m not a very smart person. I reject those things and maybe I shouldn’t, you know, because that would solve a lot of problems in my life.

AG: So Hollywood hasn’t made you super rich?

AGI: Me? I’m absolutely not super rich. I would have been better off making tacos. But I feel rich in many other senses. I always said, you know, Donald Trump is a poor man whose only possession is money. I don’t want to be that.

Interview With a Director Pt. 1 – Ryan Coogler

Vulture - "Creed Director Ryan Coogler on Reimagining Rocky and Convincing Stallone"

John Horn: Adonis Johnson is played by Michael B. Jordan, who was your star in Fruitvale Station. But I understand your interest in Rocky goes back. Did you grow up watching these movies?

Ryan Coogler: Yes, I did. My father was a Rocky fan. He would watch them as bonding time with me and my brother. We watched the movies constantly and grew to love them through my father.

JH: How long ago did the idea for Creed start to take shape?

RC: It was around 2011–2012 that I went to film school. I was getting ready to make Fruitvale. Then my father got really sick, and my world kind of crashed. He had a neuromuscular condition, so he was becoming weaker. In the process, he was struggling mentally. I got this idea about telling a story about it. I thought, What if this happened to my father’s hero, to Rocky? That’s kind of when I came up with the idea of Adonis, and the idea of the movie.

JH: What was it about Rocky that was so meaningful to your dad?

RC: My dad always kind of saw himself as an underdog. But I later found out it was really about him and his mom. She was diagnosed with breast cancer when he was 8 or 9, but she fought the disease for 15 years. My father saw her as an underdog fighting like Rocky. In the last few months of her life, they would kill the time by watching TV. Rocky II was on television all the time. That’s what made the movie so special to him.

JH: You’re talking about father-son stories, which are very personal. But with Sylvester Stallone, you’re dealing with a guy who’s very strong. So approaching him with, “By the way, Mr. Stallone, you’re going to start losing it in this movie” must have been an awkward conversation to have.

RC: It was. But the thing about Sly is, he’s an artist, an actor. He’s nothing like the characters he became famous for. The only thing he has in common with them is his physicality. But he’s an intellectual — very articulate. He was definitely apprehensive about the idea of people seeing Rocky like this — and the idea of aging and vulnerability — but at the same time, he was excited about a challenge.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Game Planning with Bruce Arians and Carson Palmer

MMQB (Sports Illustrated)
"A Quarterback and His Game Plan, Part I: Five Days to Learn 171 Plays"
"Part II: Virtual Reality Meets Reality"
by Peter King

"The game plan is a collaborative affair, and Arians runs it the way most head coaches have done it for years. In the mid-’80s, Giants coach Bill Parcells used to tell defensive coordinator Bill Belichick at midday Tuesday to throw this out or that out, or that he was making it too complicated, or that he loved what Belichick had, and Belichick would finalize his plan after that talk. Arians does it much the same way—except that after offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin (run game) and assistant head coach Tom Moore (pass game) come to him with their concepts for the week, after some long hours Monday with their staff, Arians formats the offensive practices each day. Then, by the weekend, Arians sees what he likes from his own ideas and from how plays looked in practice. He picks the first 15 run plays. The first 15 passes get done differently in Arizona than in most places. Palmer picks them. After Arians IDs the passes he wants in the overall game plan, Palmer walks up to the whiteboard on Friday and puts a star next to the 15 he wants to run first; they become the first 15 passes. Palmer circles four of the 15, and those four become the passes he wants to call first in the game. Most coaches over time have adhered to the Bill Walsh philosophy of picking the first 15 offensive plays of the game. Arians picks 30, half run and half pass."

"Arians picks out six Home Runs per week. This week, one of the Home Runs stands out above all: Pistol Strong Right Stack Act 6 Y Cross Divide. “I love the play this week,” Arians says.

Pistol means Palmer will take the snap four yards behind center. It’s a short shotgun snap. Strong tells the fullback (backup center A.Q. Shipley, in this case) to line up to the tight-end side of the formation. Right is the side the tight end will line up on, assuming the ball is spotted in the middle of the field or the right hash. Stack tells the two wide receivers on the play to line up in a stack to the opposite side of the formation from the tight end. Act 6 is the protection, telling the two backs which linebacker to block if the ’backers rush; the fullback will seal the tight-end side, while the running back will take the blitzer from the middle or weak side, if there is one. Y Cross Divide comprises the two routes run by the wide receivers. The Y, or slot receiver, will run a deep cross through the formation and hope to take a safety with him, while the split end in the stack will run a divide route; that means the split end, likely Larry Fitzgerald, will run a stutter-and-go, running maybe seven yards downfield, faking toward the sideline, then sprinting downfield. The route is divided into two segments, the first ending in the deke to the right, and then the go."

Without Grantland; Where to?

"My favorite website just closed down. Which other ones should I be visiting instead?"

Rafe Bartholomew: New York Times.

Amos Barshad: I don't say this lightly—I really feel like, out of respect, in the wake of Grantland's demise, people should stop reading altogether.

Andy Greenwald: Did I write this question?

Holly Anderson: Anything my esteemed writing partner and probable cousin Spencer Hall types onto a screen, anywhere. Start here.

Jonah Keri: Go support Lowe, Barnwell, and McIndoe at, Rembert at New York Mag, Wesley at the New York Times, the Chris Ryan and Andy Greenwald podcast on Simmons's network, Lindbergh and Goldsberry at FiveThirtyEight, and anything Pierce, Litman, Conn, Bartholomew, Anderson, Barshad, Brown, Lambert, Mays, Goodman, Hyden, Thomas, Phillips, Curtis, Concepcion, Schilling, Shoemaker, Lisanti, Baker, Abrams, Pappademas, Baumann, Chau, Sharp, Hinton, O'Hanlon, Jacoby, Jazayerli, Serrano, Lynch, Yoshida, and Titus do anywhere.

Jason Concepcion: Get rid of your internet altogether and move to the woods.

Brian Phillips: Don't read the internet; read the print edition of Vanity Fair.

Surviving The Misery Olympics

Fast Company - "The Norwegian Secret to Enjoying a Long Winter"

Soccer in America: EPL vs. MLS vs. Liga MX

New Republic - "Inside BlazerCon, the Nerdiest Sports Convention in the U.S."

"But no matter their club, these fans were serious about their love. They had to be, considering the cheapest BlazerCon tickets cost $225. (The VIP tickets set you back $425.) Unsurprisingly, the fans at this sold-out event were overwhelmingly white men, a demographic showing that strikes at the heart of the cultural divide in American soccer fandom. Men in Blazers, like NBC and FOX, are chasing typically white upper-middle class viewers who will buy their cable packages and turn up at pubs to watch their matches over pints of Guinness.

BlazerCon didn’t take into account the millions of American soccer fans who don’t fit this demographic. The MLS, for instance, has far and away the largest share of Hispanic viewers of any American sport: 34 percent to the NBA’s 12 percent. Nearly 40 percent of MLS fans make less than $40,000 a year. Despite the Premier League’s rising popularity, Univision’s broadcast of the Mexican league in the U.S. outperforms NBC’s coverage of the English league by 15 percent each season. These people were not at BlazerCon, and they would hardly consider Davies and Bennett the great saviors of American soccer culture."

Jon Snow Theories

Wired - "Game of Thrones Teases Return of Jon Snow in New Poster"

Midnight Special

March 18, 2016
Written & Directed by Jeff Nichols
Starring Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Kirsten Dunst, Adam Driver

Saturday, November 21, 2015

The New England Patriots

GQ - "Tom Brady Talks to Chuck Klosterman About Deflategate (Sort Of . . .)"

"These questions shall remain unasked, simply because Brady refused to repeat a one-word response he claims to have given many times before. Now, I’m not a cop or a lawyer or a judge. I don’t have any classified information that can’t be found on the Internet. My opinion on this event has as much concrete value as my opinion on Brady’s quarterbacking, which is exactly zero. But I strongly suspect the real reason Brady did not want to answer a question about his “general awareness” of Deflategate is pretty uncomplicated: He doesn’t want to keep saying something that isn’t true, nor does he want to directly contradict what he said in the past. I realize that seems like a negative thing to conclude about someone I don’t know. It seems like I’m suggesting that he both cheated and lied, and technically I am.

But I’m on his side here, kind of. Yes, what Brady allegedly did would be unethical. It’s also what the world wants him to do. And that may seem paradoxical, because—in the heat of the moment, when faced with the specifics of a crime—consumers are programmed to express outrage and disbelief and self-righteous indignation. But Brady is doing the very thing that prompts athletes to be lionized; the only problem is the immediacy of the context. And that context will evolve, in the same direction it always does. Someday this media disaster will seem quaint.

The Oakland Raiders of the 1970s broke every rule they could, on and off the field, sometimes for no reason. They were successful and corrupt, and fans living outside the Bay Area hated what they represented. But nobody hates the ’70s Raiders now. In fact, we long for those teams, nostalgic for the era when their sublime villainy could thrive. It’s widely assumed Red Auerbach bugged the opponents’ locker room when he coached the Celtics, an illicit subterfuge retrospectively re-imagined as clever and industrious. When former Tar Heels basketball player Buzz Peterson talks about the greatness of his college roommate Michael Jordan, he sometimes recounts a story of the evening Jordan tried to cheat Peterson’s mother in a card game, an anecdote employed to reinforce how MJ was so supernaturally competitive that even middle-aged women got sliced. The defining memory of Kansas City Royals legend George Brett involves the illegal use of pine tar on his bat, an unambiguous infraction that was ultimately reversed on appeal, just like Brady’s suspension.

“I’m the pine-tar guy,” Brett would say years later. “And it’s not a bad thing to be remembered as.”

In the present, we overvalue the rules of sport and insist that anyone caught breaking those parameters must be stopped, sanctioned, and banned. But as the decades slip away, such responses tend to invert. Who won and who lost matters less than the visage of the experience; as long as nobody got hurt and nobody took drugs and nothing was fixed by gamblers, a little deception almost becomes charming. A deficiency of character adds character, somehow. It proves that the cheater cared.

The Patriots are the Raiders of now, despite the fact that the Raiders still exist. They push the limits of everything, and that’s how they dominate. Sometimes that limit-pushing is lawful and brilliant: When Belichick placed seven “eligible” receivers on the field against the Ravens in last season’s divisional playoff, it was a stroke of strategic genius. Sometimes that limit-pushing is (perhaps) significantly less than totally legal. But it’s all philosophically essential to what makes them who they are. They don’t need to cheat in order to win, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. I mean, how do rich people stay rich? By avoiding all the taxes specifically designed for rich people. How does a football franchise sustain a dynasty within an NFL system designed to instill parity? By attacking the boundaries of every rule in that system, at every level of the organization. And in both cases, the perception of those actions does not matter to the individuals involved. Perception is other people’s problem. Brady does not hide from this: “I don’t really care how the Patriots are perceived. I really don’t.”"

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Mercedes-Benz Vision Tokyo

The Verge - "Mercedes-Benz's Vision Tokyo is a self-driving car for the megacity"
New York Times - "The Dream Life of Driverless Cars"

"Driver-­controlled cars remade the world in the last century, and there is good reason to expect that driverless cars will remake it again in the century to come"

Odell Beckham's Left Handed Skills

Wall Street Journal - "The Secret Left-Handed Life of Odell Beckham"

Vulnerable Art

New York Times - "Scott Campbell Wants to Tattoo You"

"From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday to Sunday, Mr. Campbell will serve as both artist and tattoo artist in residence at Whole Glory, a one-man installation and performance at Milk Gallery on West 15th Street in Manhattan.

The installation includes a 50-foot-long painting by him, at the center of which is a small hole, about four feet off the ground, with a chair in front of it. On a first-come-first-served basis, members of the public who so dare are invited to seat themselves in the chair for up to 90 minutes, their bare arm through the hole, while from the other side of the wall, Mr. Campbell tattoos on them whatever rendering he sees fit, knowing nothing about the subjects — even what they look like — and with zero input from them.

To leave early is to leave with a half-tattoo: an actual, permanent one. To remain is, well, to receive an original Scott Campbell free."

Raury - "Devil's Whisper"

Sunday, November 8, 2015