Saturday, September 17, 2022

The Meaning Behind a Badge


The Athletic - "Tottenham’s badge: ‘Harry Hotspur’, a cockerel and a schoolboy dream"

"Well, we could start with the play’s release in 1597, or the real Battle of Shrewsbury (which is its climax) in 1403, or the Battle of Homildon Hill (which starts it) in 1402, or Henry Bolingbroke’s usurping of King Richard II in 1399, which sets up his own shaky royal legitimacy as Henry IV, from which he never truly recovers.

But maybe it makes more sense, before we start disentangling our Worcesters from our Mortimers, to remember why we are talking about this at all. And that is because of a few schoolboys who wanted to play sport on a field in Tottenham in 1880.

Some of England’s football clubs started out for industrial or even commercial reasons. This one was purely recreational.

As is detailed in Julie Welch’s authoritative book The Biography Of Tottenham Hotspur, it all started with two brothers playing on their uncle’s field, before they were joined by another pair of siblings, Hamilton and Lindsay Casey. All they wanted to do was play cricket, and that was their first organising principle, before they moved on to football in 1882.

The other thing they needed was a name.

The story is that the Caseys were so enamoured with the story of Percy — aka Harry Hotspur — that they named their cricket club after him, and then their football club, too.

The name was doubly appropriate because of the holdings of the Percy family in the Tottenham area, which meant the new club were never far from the land of Hotspur’s descendants.

Over the next few years, Tottenham Hotspur became bigger and more successful, going professional, winning the FA Cup in 1901 and establishing themselves as a force in London football. By the turn of the 20th century, it was very clear that they were permanently associated with the cockerel. You can see this from a quick look at contemporary newspaper cartoons, which would often draw a cockerel to represent this team."

The Athletic - "Barcelona’s badge: Crickets, Franco and Saint George"

"There are, of course, myths and legends around the formation of the badge. Local reports back in the day claimed the badge choice could have been linked to a desperate shout from one of the club executives at the start of the 20th century. The story is that the board was having a meeting when executive Lluis d’Osso had enough and cried out: “Aixo es una olla de grills!” — the Catalan idiom translates as “this is a pot full of crickets!” but is used to define a chaotic and loud discussion.

The reports claimed that Barcelona’s president, Gamper, felt inspired by the words and chose a design that was the shape of an actual pot. Inside, there had to be all the elements that defined FC Barcelona. That story endured over the years as an element of the club’s folklore.

Since 1910, then, Barcelona has been represented by the current crest. It comprises three different parts.

The top section is divided into two parts, each featuring a Catalan symbol. The top left is the cross of Saint George, the patron saint of Catalonia. The cross is also reflected in the coat of arms of the city of Barcelona.

The top right has the Catalan national flag on it, the “Senyera”, with four red stripes on a yellow field.

Right across the middle of the badge is the acronym of the club — FCB. There are some versions of the badge, from 1941 to 1974, in which the acronym changed to CFB. This was an order from Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, who made the club change their name from Catalan to Spanish, altering the order of “Futbol Club Barcelona” to “Club de Futbol Barcelona”. As soon as Franco’s ruling ended in Spain, Barca returned to their original name and acronym.

The middle part of the badge also plays a symbolic role in separating the top half from the bottom half — the top half is where the institutional and political side of the club is symbolised and the bottom half is the representation of Barcelona’s football identity.

This bottom section of the crest is filled with seven blue and red stripes — the club colours since their foundation, though the number of stripes has changed over the years. What has remained untouchable is the drawing of a football right in the middle of it, which is there for a reason: to embody how the ball is the central part of the club and their style of play. Around the ball, Barca’s colours and DNA spread all over.

Barcelona’s official website displays nine versions of the badge since its creation. Each one has a slight reshape. None of them altered any of the principle features that were set in 1910 when FC Barcelona were a “pot full of crickets” that somehow managed to epitomise the complex and unique personality of the Catalan club until today."


FIFA 23 Player Rankings


The Athletic - "FIFA 23 ratings: The best men’s players based on overall ratings"

1. Lionel Messi (RW, PSG) - 91
1. Kylian Mbappe (ST, PSG) - 91
1. Robert Lewandowski (ST, FC Barcelona) - 91
1. Karim Benzema (ST, Real Madrid) - 91
1. Kevin De Bruyne (CM, Manchester City) - 91
6. Cristiano Ronaldo (ST, Manchester United) - 90
6. Mohammed Salah (RW, Liverpool) - 90
6. Manuel Neuer (GK, Bayern Munich) - 90
6. Virgil van Dijk (CB, Liverpool) - 90
6. Thibaut Courtois (GK, Real Madrid) - 90
11. Ederson (GK, Manchester City) - 89
11. Casemiro (CDM, Manchester United) - 89
11. N'Golo Kante (CDM, Chelsea) - 89
11. Neymar (LW, PSG) - 89
11. Jan Oblak (GK, Atletico Madrid) - 89
11. Harry Kane (ST, Tottenham Hotspur) - 89
11. Joshua Kimmich (CDM, Bayern Munich) - 89
11. Son Heung-min (LW, Tottenham Hotspur) - 89
11. Allisson (GK, Liverpool) - 89
11. Saudio Mane (LM, Bayern Munich) - 89
21. Erling Haaland (ST, Manchester City) - 88
21. Toni Kroos (CM, Real Madrid) - 88
21. Marquinhos (CB, PSG) - 88

Andrew Luck on Title IX

Sports Illustrated - " Andrew Luck talks Title IX and "Incredible Women" inducted into Stanford HOF"


Created by Tony Gilroy (The Bourne Identity, Michael Clayton, Rogue One)
Starring Diego Luna, Genevieve O'Reilly, Stellan Skarsgård, Adria Arjona, Denise Gough, Kyle Soller, Fiona Shaw 

The Redeem Team Documentary

October 7 on Netflix.

The Fabelmans

Written by Steven Spielberg & Tony Kushner
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Starring Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, Seth Rogen, Gabriel LaBelle, Judd Hirsch

Sunday, September 11, 2022

The Mandalorian Season 3 Teaser

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

December 23, 2022 on Netflix
Written & Directed by Rian Johnson (Brick, Looper, The Last Jedi, Knives Out)
Starring Daniel Craig, Edward Norton, Janelle Monáe, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom Jr., Jessica Henwick, Madelyn Cline, Kate Hudson, Dave Bautista

Monday, September 5, 2022

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Was King Arthur Real?


American Tolkien


Wikipedia - George R.R. Martin

Lev Grossman in TIME Magazine (2005 - Six years before the HBO show):

"George R.R. Martin is fond of sudden reversals. The tasty but poisoned dish, the false god who abruptly proves all too real, the unsalvageable rogue who strikes a hidden vein of decency when we--and he--least expect it. Martin is also partial to sacked castles, bear pits, disastrous battles, cynical betrayals, public executions, assassinations, ill luck, duels to the death, ambushes in forests and corpses left rotting in green hedgerows. The world Martin writes about may bear a passing resemblance to Olde Englande, but it is not a Merrie one.

Martin isn't the best known of America's straight-up fantasy writers. That honor would probably go to upstart Christopher Paolini (Eragon), or Robert Jordan (the endlessly turning Wheel of Time series), or better yet to ageless grandmistress Ursula K. LeGuin (A Wizard of Earthsea). But of those who work in the grand epic-fantasy tradition, Martin is by far the best. In fact, with his newest book, A Feast for Crows (Bantam; 784 pages), currently descending on bookstores and ascending best-seller lists, this is as good a time as any to proclaim him the American Tolkien.

A Feast for Crows is the fourth volume of a series with the deceptively Renaissance fair-y name A Song of Ice and Fire. It's set mostly in the Seven Kingdoms, an unstable amalgamation of nations caught in the act of vigorously ripping itself to shreds following the death of King Robert Baratheon. Martin shoots the action from many angles, with a dozen narrators, the better to reflect its gritty, twisty, many-sided nature and its vast cast of would-be queens and kings, rogues, bastards, bandits, madmen, mercenaries, exiles, priests and various uncategorizable wild cards. Martin may write fantasy, but his politik is all real.

In the wrong hands, a big ensemble like this can be deadly, but Martin is a tense, surging, insomnia-inflicting plotter and a deft and inexhaustible sketcher of personalities--including Tyrion Lannister, a bitter, cynical, high-born dwarf (he's Martin's Falstaff) and Brienne the Beauty, a huge, unmarriageable, monstrously ugly woman who fights in full armor and usually wins. Martin has an astonishing ability to focus on epic sweep and tiny, touching human drama simultaneously. The supernatural plays a role, but only rarely.

What really distinguishes Martin, and what marks him as a major force for evolution in fantasy, is his refusal to embrace a vision of the world as a Manichaean struggle between Good and Evil. Tolkien's work has enormous imaginative force, but you have to go elsewhere for moral complexity. Martin's wars are multifaceted and ambiguous, as are the men and women who wage them and the gods who watch them and chortle, and somehow that makes them mean more. A Feast for Crows isn't pretty elves against gnarly orcs. It's men and women slugging it out in the muck, for money and power and lust and love."

English Premiere League Map


From Premiere League Table.

Champions League or World Cup


New York Times - "What the Champions League Is Lacking"

"Reluctantly, the Champions League — and the constellation of Europe’s great clubs who have come to regard it as their objective and birthright — will cede the limelight to the World Cup: five prime weeks in the middle of the season handed over to international soccer, that anachronism of a bygone age, glossy club soccer’s unwelcome, ugly cousin.

There is no shortage of reasons for club soccer to resent this intrusion: the financial ramifications of losing those weeks of television real estate; the potential risk of injury to players paid not by their national associations but by the clubs; the sense that the engine of the sport is being forced to stall so that the hood can be polished.

But greater than all those, perhaps, is the unhappy reminder that, while the Champions League is the most glamorous and most exclusive club competition on the planet, it is only the most glamorous and most exclusive club competition on the planet. The qualifier — “club” — tells a story of its own. For all the money, for all the power, for all the stories and the scenes, the World Cup is still the biggest show in town.

It is worth pausing to reflect on why that might be; after all, it does not fit neatly with what we assume modern consumers — sorry, fans — want from sports. As discussed in this space a couple of weeks ago, audiences are drawn to soccer games by two factors in particular: the familiarity of the brands — sorry, teams — involved, and the stakes for which they are playing.

The World Cup, like the Champions League, delivers both in spades. There is no brand recognition quite like being a nation state, with your own seat at the United Nations and history of governmental corruption and fully equipped army, obviously. And there is no tournament quite so doused in risk as the World Cup, in which one misstep can waste four years’ work.

In every other aspect, though, the World Cup comes up short. It cannot match the Champions League for prize money, or for star power — Haaland, like Mohamed Salah and the noted nation state of Italy, will be absent from Qatar — or, most crucial, for quality. The Champions League, now, is where the finest soccer in the world is played. The World Cup, by contrast, is pockmarked by flaws.The World Cup, like the Champions League, delivers both in spades. There is no brand recognition quite like being a nation state, with your own seat at the United Nations and history of governmental corruption and fully equipped army, obviously. And there is no tournament quite so doused in risk as the World Cup, in which one misstep can waste four years’ work.

In every other aspect, though, the World Cup comes up short. It cannot match the Champions League for prize money, or for star power — Haaland, like Mohamed Salah and the noted nation state of Italy, will be absent from Qatar — or, most crucial, for quality. The Champions League, now, is where the finest soccer in the world is played. The World Cup, by contrast, is pockmarked by flaws.

That is unavoidable, of course. If Manchester City lacks a striker, it can go out and buy the best one it can find. Spain, as it has helpfully proved over the last several years, does not have that luxury. Like everyone else, it has to make do and mend. Its coach does not have the opportunity of endless training sessions to hone a system that might accentuate the team’s strengths and disguise its weaknesses; a few days is all that is available.

And yet, still, the World Cup possesses the quality of a Black Hole; it draws in the light from even the brightest stars around it. The first phase of the Champions League, like the early rounds of domestic soccer, will have the feel of an appetizer, for fans and players. Games will be played with an awareness that nobody wants to miss the main course."

Secret Cinema

BBC - "Secret Cinema: What inspired the creator of the interactive film event" (2018)

What should EVs sound like?


New Yorker - "What Should a Nine-Thousand-Pound Electric Vehicle Sound Like?"

Japan and the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (S.D.G.)


New York Times - "Why Is This Colorful Little Wheel Suddenly Everywhere in Japan?"

"In the United States, when people have heard of the development goals at all, it is often from right-wing media portraying them as part of a radical socialist plot. A less polarized, more community-oriented (and perhaps less cynical) Japan has coalesced around the goals as a feel-good, and in theory do-good, endeavor."


"There have also been concerns that companies and government agencies are publicly supporting the goals as a way to burnish their image rather than make real change — a phenomenon that has been labeled “S.D.G.s washing.”"

Saturday, August 20, 2022

Welcome to Wrexham

Executive Produced by Rob McElhenney (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Mythic Quest) Ryan Reynolds (Van Wilder, Deadpool) 

2022 World Cup Jerseys


Qatar World Cup Stadiums (June 2022)
World Cup Fashion (June 2018)
2018 World Cup Kits Inspired by Historical Designs (April 2018)

The Story Behind The Rings of Power


TIME - "The Secretive, Extravagant, Bighearted World of The Rings of Power, the Most Expensive Show Ever Made"

"Published in three volumes from 1954 to 1955 by British scholar and World War I veteran J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings revolutionized the high-fantasy genre. A hobbit named Frodo, an unassuming creature with hairy feet, is aided by a fellowship of a wizard, two men, an elf, a dwarf, and three other hobbits as he attempts to carry a magical and corrupting ring created by the villainous Sauron to a volcano so it can be destroyed.

The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King established enduring themes—environmentalism, the power of friendship in the face of evil, and how even the smallest person can change the world—that have found their way into megahits like Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, and Stranger Things. In the early 2000s, Peter Jackson adapted the books into a near perfect film trilogy, the last installment of which still shares the record for most Oscars won in a single night. Jackson later split Tolkien’s The Hobbit into yet another three-part film series. Together, the six movies grossed nearly $6 billion worldwide.

Anyone attempting to take on Tolkien would inevitably live in Jackson’s shadow. But that didn’t deter Hollywood: Dozens of writers pitched Amazon on series ideas in 2018. Many conceived origin stories for Tolkien’s best-known characters—like ranger turned king Aragorn and the wizard Gandalf—a popular device employed recently by shows like Netflix’s Ratched and Disney+’s Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Payne and McKay had a different take: they told the company it was sitting on a gold mine and didn’t even know it. The extensive appendices that appear at the end of The Return of the King serve as a prequel of sorts, outlining the rise of Sauron and creation of the titular rings. As the showrunners put it, Tolkien had left the stars. They just needed to make constellations. “We beat out people they would have felt more comfortable giving it to because this was the show,” says McKay.

The duo sketched out a new series that turns the five-minute prologue of Jackson’s Fellowship of the Ring film into five seasons of television set in the Second Age, over 3,000 years before the events of The Lord of the Rings. The evil lord Morgoth has been defeated. Middle-earth is flourishing, but the flaxen-haired elf Galadriel is convinced that Morgoth’s missing servant Sauron is amassing power. Audiences will explore the dwarf mines of Khazad-dûm and the seaside kingdom of Númenor; they’ll encounter harfoots, the nomadic ancestors of hobbits, as well as Isildur, the man who will eventually take the one ring from Sauron but fail to destroy it; and they’ll meet a mysterious stranger—maybe a certain familiar wizard?—who falls from the sky in the first episode.

When McKay and Payne scored the Rings of Power job, their old boss J.J. Abrams offered advice: “Trust your instincts,” he wrote in an email. “But say, ‘I don’t know’ a lot.” So they filled their fellowship with people who did know how to tell an epic story, beginning with fellow Bad Robot alum Lindsey Weber, 42, who has handled Star Trek and Cloverfield productions, as their executive producer. They used the practical and digital visual-effects companies co-founded by Jackson, Weta Workshop and Weta FX, and consulted with the Tolkien estate, particularly his grandson Simon Tolkien. J.A. Bayona, who helmed Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, directed the first two episodes, and Bryan Cogman, who worked on Game of Thrones, came on as a consulting producer to offer his experience with episodic television."


George R.R. Martin Back for House of Dragons


"“House of the Dragon” is derived from Mr. Martin’s 2018 book “Fire & Blood,” which is different from the main novels in his series. It’s an epoch-spanning history of the Targaryens, as recounted by various scribes.

That chronicle format gave “House of the Dragon” writers a detailed plot blueprint but with leeway to invent scenes and dialogue. Mr. Condal conferred with Mr. Martin during a year of script development, including some time spent at a secret cabin in Colorado where the author was working on his next novel. Mr. Condal, who had promised him an “exceedingly faithful adaptation,” got Mr. Martin’s go-ahead before sharing drafts with HBO. “My feeling was, if George is happy, that is the huge first hurdle, and that everything should be judged from then on,” he said.

“House of the Dragon” was made to be accessible to brand-new viewers while supplying “Thrones” fans with more of what they loved. The first episode features succession drama, sibling rivalry, gnarly combat, a brothel scene and dragon fire. While the original series had three dragons, the spinoff will involve 17. "


The Greatest Beer Run Ever

Written & Directed by Peter Farrelly (Dumb & Dumber, There's Something About Mary, Green Book)
Starring Zac Efron, Russell Crowe, Bill Murray

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Public Money for Private Stadiums


By Dan Moore

"Baseball stadiums are never only about baseball. Their utility is both more dynamic and more poetic; as writer and critic Paul Goldberger put it in Ballpark: Baseball in the American City, baseball stadiums are the “ultimate American metaphor.” The metaphor works on at least two levels. As spiritually public places containing “a garden” at their heart, ballparks evoke a tension between “the rural and the urban”—the Jeffersonian preference for the pastoral; the Hamiltonian impulse toward the industrial—that has “existed throughout American history.” Done right, they evince what beauty that tension can produce, the creative potential of this American conflict. But so, too, do baseball stadiums—through design quirks, topographical accommodations, structural evocations of local history—represent characteristics particular to the cities and time periods in which they were constructed. They’re expressions, in this way, about nothing less than how we live.

It’s perhaps by virtue of this fact that baseball stadiums also inspire in fans a unique and very personal kind of devotion and pride. We love our stadiums. Fans whose teams play in stadiums that are iconic—Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, Dodger Stadium—tend to regard them with an almost religious sort of reverence. Fans whose teams play in stadiums that are not yet so historic, meanwhile, often treat the prospect that they one day might as a reason for hope. This is why all new parks, when they finally open to fans, receive heraldic welcomes. Now this, we say, as we trundle wide-eyed through the pristine silver turnstiles for the first time, is the beginning of something new."


"Baltimore is another example. Though Camden Yards has not been nearly as costly for Maryland as stadiums have been for other state and local governments, it has still lost the state a fair amount of money. According to economists Bruce Hamilton and Peter Kahn, authors of a 1997 case study on Camden Yards that appears in Sports, Jobs, and Taxes: The Economic Impact of Sports Teams and Stadiums, even in the halcyon period after Camden first opened, when the Orioles were selling out every game, Camden Yards never broke even. In 1997, the Maryland Stadium Authority recovered “approximately $6 million in rent” from the Orioles “and another $5 million in admissions tax revenue,” as it was entitled to by the Orioles’ lease, but the annual cost to the state of operating the stadium was much more than that—about $20 million. As years passed, meanwhile, auxiliary development did not pop up at scale. “You don’t have to look far to see [Camden] hasn’t translated into an influx of development even within a mile or quarter-mile of the ballpark,” Louis Miserendino, a visiting fellow with the Maryland Public Policy Institute, told the Sun in 2017. According to Hamilton and Kahn, the verdict is clear. “Public expenditure on [Camden Yards] cannot be justified,” they write, “on the grounds of local economic development.”

Of course, “economically” is not the only way politicians or the public justify subsidizing pro sports. They also hold that subsidizing sports teams is warranted for incalculable social, psychological, and cultural reasons. Which: valid. Many people love their teams the way they love members of their own family and they don’t believe investments in them need to return a profit. And even for people who don’t closely follow their local teams, the presence of those teams can still provide valuable, intangible benefits. Like investments in parks or libraries, investments in something like a stadium can contribute to the general public good by, say, cultivating community, inspiring pride, alchemizing a newly tangible civic identity, or by simply giving strangers something to talk about at bars or in line at the grocery store. “If the real reason for extensive subsidization of major league team sports is public consumption,” Roger Noll, a Stanford economist and the editor of Sports, Jobs, and Taxes, has written, “the validity of economic impact studies is not very important.” As Schmoke, the former mayor of Baltimore told me, “We didn’t go into it thinking that this was going to be a major moneymaker for the city. We thought that it was an important amenity, like museums, things that bring people together. And our sports team had always brought people together.”

And—and!—some subsidies can, in fact, turn out to be moneymakers. Several stadiums of the post-Camden era, like those built in San Francisco, Columbus, and Sacramento, have bolstered the economies of their home cities by importing economic benefits from areas outside the city limits and by galvanizing other kinds of development in areas around the stadium. This raises property values and encourages economic activity even on days when there are no games being played or events being held: key markers of stadium subsidy success.

Such success, however, is rare. As Mark Rosentraub, professor of sport management at the University of Michigan, told me, it’s only obtainable under specific political criteria, including, importantly, high amounts of private investment to complement and effectively offset the public investment. In Sacramento, the Kings paid for more than half of their new arena. In San Francisco, the Giants paid closer to the entirety of the tab. (San Francisco paid for infrastructure and site acquisition.)"

Prey (Predator Prequel)

Written by Patrick Aison
Directed by Dan Trachtenberg
Starring Amber Midthunder, Dakota Beavers, Michelle Thrush, Stormee Kipp, Julian Black Antelope, Dane DiLiegro

The Bear

Created by Christopher Storer (Eighth Grade)
Starring Jeremy Allen White, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Ayo Edebiri, Lionel Boyce, Liza Colón-Zayas, Abby Elliott

Canoe Slalom World Championships


From Axios Sports on 8/2:

Germany dominated the 2022 Canoe Slalom World Championships, which concluded over the weekend near Munich — 50 years after the sport debuted at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

How it works: Canoe slalom is a race against the clock on a whitewater course. Athletes compete in two types of boats — canoe and kayak — and try to navigate a combination of upstream and downstream gates.

  • In canoe, the athlete uses a single-blade paddle and is strapped into the boat with their legs bent at the knees and tucked under their body. In kayak, they use a double-bladed paddle in a seated position.
  • The type of gate is designated by color (red for upstream, green for downstream). Touching a gate incurs a two-second time penalty and missing one will cost you 50 seconds.

Medal table: France (60) has won the most world titles, followed by East Germany (49), Germany (35), Czech Republic (34), Czechoslovakia (33), Great Britain (30), West Germany (25), the U.S. (25) and Slovakia (25).

The intrigue: A new head-to-head event called extreme slalom, which begins with competitors sliding off a ramp and splashing into the water, could be added to the Olympic program in 2024.

  • Contact is very much allowed and it "really is a case of anything goes," per the International Canoe Federation's website. 
  • Athletes must navigate buoys and only have a short window to roll their kayaks (360 degree flip). Races take about a minute.
🎥 Watch: Final day broadcast (YouTube)

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Black Panther 2: Wakanda Forever

Written by Ryan Coogler, Joe Robert Cole
Directed by Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station, Creed, Black Panther)
Starring Letitia Wright, Lupita Nyong'o, Danai Gurira, Winston Duke, Florence Kasumba, Dominique Thorne, Michaela Coel, Tenoch Huerta, Martin Freeman, Angela Bassett



From the New Yorker writer and author of The Lost City of Z and Killers of the Flower Moon. The book is scheduled to release April 18, 2023. The Hollywood Reporter announced Martin Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Apple have bought the movie rights. Scorsese, DiCaprio, and Apple are finishing a movie adaption of Killers of the Flower Moon now.

The book plot:

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Killers of the Flower Moon, a page-turning story of shipwreck, survival, and savagery, culminating in a court martial that reveals a shocking truth. With the twists and turns of a thriller Grann unearths the deeper meaning of the events on the Wager, showing that it was not only the captain and crew who ended up on trial, but the very idea of empire.

On January 28, 1742, a ramshackle vessel of patched-together wood and cloth washed up on the coast of Brazil. Inside were thirty emaciated men, barely alive, and they had an extraordinary tale to tell. They were survivors of His Majesty’s Ship the Wager, a British vessel that had left England in 1740 on a secret mission during an imperial war with Spain. While the Wager had been chasing a Spanish treasure-filled galleon known as “the prize of all the oceans,” it had wrecked on a desolate island off the coast of Patagonia. The men, after being marooned for months and facing starvation, built the flimsy craft and sailed for more than a hundred days, traversing 2500 miles of storm-wracked seas. They were greeted as heroes.

But then … six months later, another, even more decrepit craft landed on the coast of Chile. This boat contained just three castaways, and they told a very different story. The thirty sailors who landed in Brazil were not heroes – they were mutineers. The first group responded with countercharges of their own, of a tyrannical and murderous senior officer and his henchmen. It became clear that while stranded on the island the crew had fallen into anarchy, with warring factions fighting for dominion over the barren wilderness. As accusations of treachery and murder flew, the Admiralty convened a court martial to determine who was telling the truth. The stakes were life-and-death—for whomever the court found guilty could hang.

The Wager is a grand tale of human behavior at the extremes told by one of our greatest nonfiction writers. Grann’s recreation of the hidden world on a British warship rivals the work of Patrick O’Brian, his portrayal of the castaways’ desperate straits stands up to the classics of survival writing such as The Endurance, and his account of the court martial has the savvy of a Scott Turow thriller. As always with Grann’s work, the incredible twists of the narrative hold the reader spellbound.

The Hollywood Reporter - "Leonardo DiCaprio, Martin Scorsese Tackling Naval Survival Tale ‘The Wager’ for Apple, Imperative (Exclusive)"

Aotearoa New Zealand


Wall Street Journal - "Welcome to Aotearoa? The Campaign to Decolonize New Zealand’s Name"

"The first European contact with indigenous Māori ended with four sailors killed and a hasty retreat. But it led to an identity for this South Pacific country: Nieuw Zeeland in Dutch, or New Zealand when it later became part of the British Empire.

Now, some lawmakers want New Zealanders to drop a name that harks back to an era of colonization and adopt another—Aotearoa, a Māori word referring to the clouds that indigenous oral history says helped early Polynesian navigators make their way here.

Around the world, several countries are rethinking their identities to address resentment at their colonial past and forge a new future. In some cases, that involves changing the head of state, such as Barbados’s severing of ties to the British monarchy. In others, it has meant changing its official name, as Eswatini did in 2018 when its absolute ruler decided it should no longer be known as Swaziland. Australia in recent years tweaked its national anthem because it didn’t reflect its Aboriginal history.

In New Zealand, the issue is coming to a head because a petition to rename the country Aotearoa—pronounced ‘au-te-a-ro-uh’—garnered more than 70,000 signatures and will be considered by a parliamentary committee that could recommend a vote in Parliament, put it to a referendum or take no further action."

"Can J.Crew Be Cool Again?"


GQ - "The New J.Crew"

By Sam Schube

Chicago Dog


New York Times - "Welcome to Chicago, Hot Dog Town, U.S.A."

"“Dragged through the garden” is how Chicagoans lovingly refer to this saladlike outfitting."

Baseball's Mud


New York Times - "He’s Baseball’s Only Mud Supplier. It’s a Job He May Soon Lose."

"While coaching third base for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1938, he heard an umpire complain about the struggle to prepare brand-new balls for use. Blackburne experimented with mud from a Delaware River tributary, not far from his New Jersey home, and found that it de-glossed the ball while mostly maintaining its whiteness.

He now had a side job. After a while, every major and minor league team was using what sometimes came to be called “Mississippi mud” — though “mysterious” would have been more apt than Mississippi.

Before Blackburne died at 81 in 1968, he bequeathed the secret spot to an old friend who had joined him in mud harvesting: Bintliff’s grandfather, who left it to Bintliff’s mother and father, who, in 2000, passed it on to Bintliff."

Super Yachts


New Yorker - "The Haves and the Have-Yachts"
By Evan Osnos

"If you’ve just put half a billion dollars into a boat, you may have qualms about the truism that material things bring less happiness than experiences do. But this, too, can be finessed. Andrew Grant Super, a co-founder of the “experiential yachting” firm Berkeley Rand, told me that he served a uniquely overstimulated clientele: “We call them the bored billionaires.” He outlined a few of his experience products. “We can plot half of the Pacific Ocean with coördinates, to map out the Battle of Midway,” he said. “We re-create the full-blown battles of the giant ships from America and Japan. The kids have haptic guns and haptic vests. We put the smell of cordite and cannon fire on board, pumping around them.” For those who aren’t soothed by the scent of cordite, Super offered an alternative. “We fly 3-D-printed, architectural freestanding restaurants into the middle of the Maldives, on a sand shelf that can only last another eight hours before it disappears.”"

"As yachts have grown more capacious, and the limits on passengers have not, more and more space on board has been devoted to staff and to novelties. The latest fashions include imax theatres, hospital equipment that tests for dozens of pathogens, and ski rooms where guests can suit up for a helicopter trip to a mountaintop. The longtime owner, who had returned the previous day from his yacht, told me, “No one today—except for assholes and ridiculous people—lives on land in what you would call a deep and broad luxe life. Yes, people have nice houses and all of that, but it’s unlikely that the ratio of staff to them is what it is on a boat.” After a moment, he added, “Boats are the last place that I think you can get away with it.”"

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Celebrating P.J. Tucker's Tenacity & Career


From Tom Ziller's Good Morning It's Basketball Newsletter on Substack:

This NBA free agency has, like many others, been focused on unrest. In particular, Kevin Durant’s trade request in Brooklyn, the Utah Jazz’s implosion and Russell Westbrook’s uncertain future are dominating attention. We should, though, take a step back and acknowledge the stories behind some of the free agency contract worth celebrating.

Back on June 30, two deals of note were quickly announced. JaVale McGee signed a $20 million contract at age 37, a monumental achievement for a player whose early years were mostly an NBA on TNT punchline. The second contract was a 3-year, $33 million deal for P.J. Tucker, who has never been a laugh but whose journey to this point is even more amazing.

Seriously, let’s look at P.J. Tucker’s path to this point, signing a $33 million contract at age 37.

He played college ball with LaMarcus Aldridge and Boobie Gibson. In the Big 12 he played against guys like Tony Allen, Wayne Simien, Joey Graham, Brandon Rush and Mario Chalmers. Tucker left Texas the year as a junior before Kevin Durant and D.J. Augustin arrived. He was THREE recruiting classes before Durant and Augustin.

Second-round pick in the NBA. One of four rookies on the Raptors with Andrea Bargnani and two international players, Jorge Garbajosa and Uros Slokar. Tucker finished third in Raptors rookies in total minutes, just edging Slokar with … 83 minutes on the season.

The Raptors cut Tucker toward the end of his rookie year to sign Luke Jackson. Luke Jackson. Jackson played 10 games for the Raps, and then a couple hundred minutes with the Heat the following year, and then left the NBA, never to return.

Tucker, meanwhile, ended up on the Cavaliers’ 2007 Summer League team, also featuring Shannon Brown, Tucker’s college teammate Boobie Gibson, Kevin Pittsnogle and Friend-of-LeBron Romeo Travis. Tucker was seventh in minutes per game on that team. The effort did not result in an NBA contract. So he decided to go to Europe.

Tucker had huge success across the ocean: he won MVP of the Israeli league in 2007-08, was an All-Star and scoring champ (scoring champ! P.J. Tucker!) in Ukraine and won Finals MVP for a German club. He played in Greece and Italy, too.

And he clearly worked really hard to build out his game. He came back to Summer League in 2012 for the Suns. Tucker was 27 years old at this point, with all of 83 career NBA minutes. It had been nine years since he arrived at the University of Texas, six years since he’d been drafted by the Raps. And here he was, fighting to make an NBA roster again, back in Summer League, starring alongside a 22-year-old Markieff Morris and a 20-year-old Kendall Marshall.

His effort in Summer League didn’t wow anyone outside of Phoenix, but the Suns did offer up a minimum contract. Once the regular season hit, Tucker got opportunities on a bad team under Alvin Gentry and his midseason replacement Lindsay Hunter, and Tucker made the most of them. He became an important piece for a weird Suns era, earned a modest-for-the-NBA but life-changing 3-year, $16 million contract in 2014. He made it.

And then he made it some more.

In the post-Bledsoe Phoenix teardown — Tucker got traded back to Toronto a decade after his last Raptors appearance. At this point, he was 31 and about to be an unrestricted NBA free agent for the first time since 2012 Summer League.

You know the rest: he signed with the Rockets and became a key part of a team that could (would?) have won a title if not for those pesky juggernaut Golden State Warriors (starring Tucker’s Texas successor Durant), then Tucker got traded (for Augustin!, among other things) and helped Giannis Antetokounmpo win a championship in Milwaukee (beating the Suns in the Finals, poetry), had to decamp for Miami to get a 1-year contract worthy of his contributions and now gets his last big multi-year deal in Philadelphia.

Talent and potential capture our attention most of the time. There’s something inherently cool about a young athlete who can do amazing things. But there’s so much beauty, too, in the mundane reality of hard work and maximal effort that players like P.J. Tucker exhibit. Maybe it’s corny, but the grind and grit that Tucker has shown over his 15-year career as a pro basketball player is as inspired as anything we see in Summer League from lottery picks. And it’s a story that anyone can take something from.

This isn’t to shortchange Tucker’s physical gifts or the incredible effort that superstar players put in to remain at the top of the elite sliver of the best basketball players in the world. But Tucker’s path feels like a particularly inspiring tale, and it’s worth acknowledging how seemingly unlikely and truly amazing it is.

Cheers to Tucker and all the people out there grinding in their walks of life, working for something better and more secure.

Airbnb's Vision for Future Travel


Fast Company - "Airbnb is launching its biggest redesign in a decade. Travel may never be the same"
By Mark Wilson

The other potential effect is on communities themselves. Airbnb has already impacted high tourist destinations: Areas like Sonoma are littered with Airbnb protest signs, posted by residents who are sick of rentals. A recent story in The New York Times demonstrated how Joshua Tree was getting flooded by cookie-cutter modernist rentals, which encroached on the serene desert landscape. I ask Chesky if he’s concerned that Airbnb’s redesign could bring similar problems to small town America, if it might over-popularize quiet areas at the expense of their identity.

“The reason a lot of people go to Sonoma is actually that Sonoma is super famous—as is Joshua Tree. And so people are typing in Sonoma and Joshua Tree into Airbnb,” says Chesky—who goes so far as to call Joshua Tree “the brand desert.” “I guess the point is that what we’re trying to do is move away from the place you think to type, to redistribute and spread out. If we send everyone to Geneva, Ohio, then yes, we will probably flood Geneva, Ohio. The point is, though, to not to send everyone to any one place, and not to limit search to the places people can think of.”

VW's Electric Dreams


New Yorker - "The VW Bus Took the Sixties on the Road. Now It’s Getting a Twenty-first-Century Makeover"

Volkswagen ID Buzz Coming to U.S. by 2023 (March 2021)

Netflix's Swing for an Action Blockbuster Franchise


New York Times - "Netflix, Still Reeling, Bets Big on ‘The Gray Man’"

New NFL Helmets


Michael Mann on Heat 2 (book), Ferrari (movie), and Career


New York Times Magazine - "Michael Mann’s Damaged Men"
By Jonah Weiner

Michael Mann on Marc Maron's podcast.

The World's Best Restaurant is Inside a Stadium

From Axios Sports:

The best restaurant in the world is in a soccer stadium.

Driving the news: Copenhagen's Geranium, located on the eighth floor of Denmark's national soccer stadium, topped the annual list of the World's 50 Best Restaurants, unveiled this week.

  • Geranium follows in the footsteps of fellow Danish eatery, Noma, which claimed the title last year.
  • Its full-length windows offer stunning views of the 38,000-seat stadium and surrounding gardens.

In case you're wondering … Geranium's current menu, ''The Summer Universe,' costs $440 per person and lasts for a minimum of three hours.

The New U.S. Quarter - Looking Forward


Fast Company - "How a small change to U.S. quarters is part of a big trend in logo design"

Oppenheimer Poster


July 21, 2023
Written & Directed by Christopher Nolan (Interstellar, Inception, The Dark Knight)
Starring Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr., Florence Pugh, Rami Malek, Benny Safdie, Josh Hartnett, Dane DeHaan, Jack Quaid, Matthew Modine, Kenneth Branagh, Jason Clarke

House of Dragons Trailer

Sunday, July 10, 2022

The Beach


The Atlantic - "Beware the Luxury Beach Resort"

"In the United States, summer resorts had been thickly established along the coasts of the Northeast since the early 19th century; Long Branch, New Jersey, was even touted as the “American Monte Carlo.” But the beach resort in its most romantic form—seared into the public consciousness as a tropical wonderland of sea and surf and fruit and floral shirts—truly began in Hawaii, not long after a bunch of greedy American businessmen effected a coup d’état that removed the Hawaiian monarchy and claimed the archipelago for the United States in 1898. The deposed Queen Lili’uokalani lived by a breeze-swept bay called Waikiki, on the island of Oahu, where one of the first major resorts was built, the Moana.

Later, in 1927, a fever dream of a resort hotel opened, the Royal Hawaiian, a great pink hulk that ushered in the beach glamour and exoticism that we associate with luxury resorts today (where Joan Didion once fled, as she wrote in an essay, “in lieu of filing for divorce”). What was good for the economy of the gorgeous locale, however, was bad for its ecology—a trade-off that, though glaring, not surprisingly went ignored. The new buildings of Waikiki were constructed so close to the shore that they impeded the natural flow of sand, and the once-abundant beaches washed away. A tourist now sees sand that is replenished by machines and held in place by man-made barriers that stop its natural movement, which serves only to erode beaches farther down the current.

Stodola is, like me, skeptical about the beach idyll, constantly seeing the darker forces of environmental and cultural degradation amid all the luxury she describes. She is at her most incisive when she calmly, clearly lists what is lost when beach resorts take over a place. For instance, she describes the Fijian village of Vatuolalai, where two clans used to live as equals, one owning the beach where they fished, the other the acres inland where they grew crops such as taro, coexisting according to solesolevaki, which means that “everyone in a community is obliged to work together toward common ends.” Then, in the 1970s, the resort developers crept in, renting the land from the beach owners, who now had the funds to buy nontraditional foods and goods. The Polynesian chestnut trees were ripped out and non-native coconut palms put in. Fiddler crabs and the golden plovers that ate them disappeared; turtle-nesting on the beach became rare. Silt built up in the local river and blocked the trevally fish from swimming and spawning there, and the coral reefs were damaged first by river silt flowing into the bay and then by the fertilizer runoff from the golf course, as well as by the sunblock that washes off tourist bodies.

Diminished coral reefs meant far fewer fish. Faced with scarcity, Vatuolalai’s inhabitants started working for themselves, not for the collective good. Ninety-two percent of them became involved in tourism. The knowledge of how to make oil and traps and mats was lost, as were traditional dances, supplanted by those from other nations in the Pacific, which young people performed for tourists. The provisions that since time immemorial had been saved up in case of emergency were no longer there for the villagers. When Cyclone Kina hit in 1993, the residents had to rely on the government to survive, instead of on their own stores. Diabetes became endemic, the result of a new diet of processed foods. Stodola watches happy families from Australia in the resort’s pools, the adults bellied up to the bars set into the water, and feels certain that none of them sees any of the trade-offs that went into making the resort they’re enjoying."