Saturday, October 24, 2020

Peyton Manning Loves Football

By Peter King

"Season deux of “Peyton’s Places,” the quirky and fun Peyton Manning/NFL Films history project that started last year (he wore Joe Namath’s famous fur coat, and recreated a publicity stunt of the old Giants by throwing a pass to Cris Carter from the top of a Manhattan skyscraper, among other shows), continues with 15 new episodes on ESPN+, running from late November to February. The pandemic scotched a few of the shows Manning would have liked to do, but he was able to safely travel enough to get some good new shows. “It’s a history project that became a passion project,” Manning told me. “There’s so many fascinating things about football history that people just don’t know.”

Such as these, from season two:

• There used to be cars on stadium fields; the Steelers had them at Three Rivers Stadium back in the glory days. Sponsors would pay to have their cars shown on the field. Manning interviews Lynn Swann with the same model car he won for being Super Bowl MVP—an AMC Pacer. If you’re not of a certain age, you don’t know what that is. But it’s not luxurious."

• Manning went to West Point with former president Bill Clinton to discuss the birth of the forward pass in 1913. “Teddy Roosevelt actually fought to legalize the forward pass,” Manning said. ”President Clinton talked about Roosevelt and his impact on football. He really studied the football aspect going into our meeting.”

• At Oakland Tech High in California, hometown hero Marshawn Lynch taught Manning how to drive the injury cart, which Lynch did at Cal late in a 2006 victory. That ride became known as “Ghost-riding the whip.” Lynch, reclusive except on commercials, also went deep with Manning on a few things—the geometry of running, why he dissed the press, the Beastquake run, how growing up in Oakland made him who he is.

• At Thomas Edison’s Lab in West Orange, N.J., Manning got to see the first football game film ever shot, the 1903 Princeton-Yale game. Edison invented the camera used to shoot the game. Ron Jaworski watched with Manning in the same room Edison watched that film 117 years ago, and Jaworski, a film nerd of the highest degree, talked about the history of film study.

• Manning played Madden with the first victim of the Madden Curse, running back Garrison Hearst.

“None of it’s possible without NFL Films,” Manning said. “They’ve got film of everything. They’ve got Teddy Roosevelt and footage of the early forward pass. Amazing. I love football. You love football. NFL Films really loves football.”

We spend a lot of time in our business figuring out when Manning will take a job running a franchise, or being some network’s jillion-dollar lead game analyst. But think of the life he has now: He gets to do a fun series like this, he gets to be at most every one of his kids’ events (school and sports) he wants to see at home in Colorado, he gets to live as normal a life as he wants, and he’s only 44. Plenty of time to do whatever he wants.

Signal Founder on Life and Time

By Anna Wiener "

"Regulation remains a threat to Signal, although, Marlinspike said, “you can never get rid of cryptography. Sets of equations are everywhere. There’s no way for everyone in the world to unsee that, or to unknow it.” He seemed unfazed by the prospect that, if end-to-end encrypted communication does catch on more widely, Signal might someday become obsolete. “If we’ve pushed the envelope as far as we can go and the things we develop become as ubiquitous as possible, we could all focus on other things,” he said. As we walked around Venice, I tried to ask him about what those other things might be. His answers were a little vague. He is not interested in retiring, or relaxing; he still fears routine. “I’ve always been much better at doing than being,” he told me later. Referring to Fitzgerald’s “This Side of Paradise,” he explained that he has always seen himself more as a “personage” than as a “personality.” He mentioned, casually, that he is curious about life-extension research, because he believes the world would look different if people had more time to explore their interests, learn new skills, build expertise, and experiment. “I dread the minute hand hitting the top of the dial every hour,” he said. “I feel like I have less time than I used to. When you’re really young, no doors have really closed.”

Whenever I asked Marlinspike what he had been up to, the answer was the same: “Work, work, work.” Wang, describing Marlinspike’s “masochistic anarchist workaholism,” told me, “I think the anarchy world rewards self-motivation, initiative, and experimentation. You oddly acquire a lot of skills that are useful, whether it’s graphic design or programming. There’s a strong work ethic, and a weird kind of anti-capitalist entrepreneurialism.” Reinhard said, of Marlinspike, “He is an incredibly efficient time manager, and he approaches his leisure in exactly the same way. Almost all of his adventures require, like, six months of planning—and he has the patience for it.”"

Chernobyl Paradise

"Marlinspike moved from the Bay Area to Los Angeles in 2018, in part to work on a side project with friends—an ecological restoration “experience” intended to mitigate the depletion of coastal kelp forests. Participants would spend three days earning their scuba certifications, then paddle out to nearshore ecosystems, exploring the kelp forests and planting spores. The project, Marlinspike said, was “at the confluence of a few things that I’m interested in, like ocean ecology, climate change, potential climate-change remediation.” Marlinspike’s close friend, who was also involved, said that the goal was for participants to be transformed: “What is the future of the world? Who are people in positions where they can change that future? How do we have those people do something that is going to change their world view, that might then change what they want to do?” The project fell through earlier this year, partly because of the pandemic but also because it is notoriously difficult to grow kelp from seed, and possibly illegal to plant it in the ocean at one’s leisure.

During our conversations, Marlinspike avoided making declarative statements about his plans and frequently declined requests to put seemingly innocuous information on the record. When I returned to his personal writing, I felt almost taunted by its attention to detail. I was particularly drawn to a blog post about a bicycle trip he took last year with friends through the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, the eighteen-mile radius around the Chernobyl nuclear plant, in Ukraine, which was evacuated on April 27, 1986. (Access to the area, which is variously radioactive, is limited to maintenance crews, scientists, and scheduled guided tours.) Aided by a cheap compass, dust masks, and dosimeters, they slept in an abandoned apartment, surrounded by aging domestic detritus, and wandered through the buildings of Pripyat, the former factory town, at night. The Exclusion Zone was “paradise, but a paradise you can’t enjoy,” he wrote. “The experience is full of tensions. . . . You have to be careful about where you sit, what you eat, how you eat it, what you touch; which is—ironically—why it exists. The reason it’s so beautiful and so peaceful is precisely because we can’t consume it. Like, perhaps, all real paradises everywhere.”"


Chernobyl (June 2019)

Notorious B.I.G.'s Crown Sells for $595,000

"The crown — sold by photographer Barron Claiborne, who shot the iconic Rap Pages cover just three days before Biggie’s March 9th, 1997 death — well exceeded its pre-auction estimate of $200,000 to $300,000. The item was autographed by both the rapper and the photographer and included three prints from the photoshoot.

“This crown is a novelty item; I bought it at a place on Broadway called Gordon’s,” Claiborne told the New York Post. “Without Biggie, the crown would not be worth [six figures]. I only paid six bucks for it.”

As Sotheby’s noted of the item, the famed image of B.I.G. almost didn’t happen, as Bad Boy Records head Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs complained that the cheap crown would make Biggie look like “the Burger King.” “Biggie was open to the idea, resulting in one of the most recognizable images in hip-hop culture and one of the most famous hip-hop portraits ever taken,” Sotheby’s said."

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Saturday, September 26, 2020


December 2020 on Disney+
Written by Jac Schaeffer 
Directed by Matt Shakman 
Starring Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Teyonah Parris, Kat Dennings, Randall Park, Kathryn Hahn

The Trial of the Chicago 7

October 16, 2020
Written & Directed by Andrew Sorkin
Starring Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Sacha Baron Cohen, Daniel Flaherty, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Keaton, Frank Langella, John Carroll Lynch, Eddie Redmayne, Noah Robbins, Mark Rylance, Alex Sharp, Jeremy Strong 

Bill Walton Pays Respect to Fellow Big Passer Nikola Jokic


GQ – "Bill Walton Pays Tribute to Nikola Jokic’s “Flow”"

"He’s just a very interesting player and super fun to watch. He looks like he’d be really fun to play with. He looks like a great teammate and a spectacularly skilled player who plays to win. And he can do so many different things. He’s big, strong, powerful, mobile, skilled, intelligent, creative, collaborative. Empty the thesaurus. He’s got a lot of things going for him. He comes from a great basketball culture. And he’s got a tremendous coach right now in Mike Malone. He’s got some real nice teammates in Denver. Josh Kroenke at the top is terrific. Chris Marlowe, their broadcaster. I’m very aware of the Nuggets and the dizzying possibilities of a wonderful tomorrow. 


He’s the kind of player...he stands out. He stands out. He’s distinct. He’s unique. He’s someone who catches your eye when you watch the game because he does so many different things and I love basketball. Basketball is an expression of who you are and it’s a celebration of a world as it could and should be. And when you watch, he does things that put a smile on your face. And he sees things and he anticipates and he has a plan, he has an approach, he has a sense of what he’s doing, what he’s trying to accomplish. Why he wants it and then how he’s gonna get it done. He’s an interesting, exciting, and foundational pillar for the future. 


Q: When you think about Nikola, do any particular passes come to mind? 

A: No, because all of his plays, whether it’s his three-point shooting, whether it’s his rebounds, whether it’s his tipped balls to a teammate, in any situation, whatever he’s doing, it’s always based on the flow. In life we search for the flow and the glow, but we also search for growth. And when you’re playing basketball, which is never static, every single play in basketball is unique because of the other nine guys on the court and because of the refs. Because of the stakes, because of the circumstances, and the decision making of the brilliant players. He puts a smile on my face. And I glow. There’s a warmth in my heart. It’s fun. It’s creative, it’s imaginative, and they’re winning. Although they’re not winning right now. 


Q: They have a lot of talent and just about everyone is playing great at the right time. It’s also a lot of fun to see the different ways Jokic’s passing elevates everyone else even higher. 

A: The nicest thing anybody ever said about me as a basketball player was that I make my teammates play better. My hero was Bill Russell. To this day. On and off the court. That’s what he did. He made his teammates better. They were good. He made them better. Nikola does so many things. There’s nothing he can’t do. Now the challenge’s the same challenge for everybody: keep it going. It’s always about the next game and that ability to sustain. "

How Technicolor Changed Movies

Fine Dining Experience of our COVID Future


Fast Company – "Why this drive-through restaurant could be the future of fine dining"

60 Foot Tall Japanese Robot

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Ludwig Göransson


From Wikipedia: Ludwig Göransson is a Swedish composer, conductor, and record producer. His work includes Fruitvale Station, the Rocky franchise entries Creed and Creed II, Venom, and Tenet. For his work on the 2018 superhero film Black Panther, he won the Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media and the Academy Award for Best Original Score, as well as a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score. Göransson is also known for his work on U.S. TV series Community, Happy Endings, New Girl, and The Mandalorian.

The Mandalorian Season 2

October 30, 2020

Saturday, September 5, 2020

The LA28 Olympics Emblem



Ryan Coogler's Letter on Chadwick Boseman

Deadline – "‘Black Panther’ Director Ryan Coogler On Chadwick Boseman: ‘Because He Was A Caretaker, A Leader, And A Man Of Faith, Dignity And Pride, He Shielded His Collaborators From His Suffering”"

"Before sharing my thoughts on the passing of the great Chadwick Boseman, I first offer my condolences to his family who meant so very much to him. To his wife, Simone, especially.

I inherited Marvel and the Russo Brothers’ casting choice of T’Challa. It is something that I will forever be grateful for. The first time I saw Chad’s performance as T’Challa, it was in an unfinished cut of Captain America: Civil War. I was deciding whether or not directing Black Panther was the right choice for me. I’ll never forget, sitting in an editorial suite on the Disney Lot and watching his scenes. His first with Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, then, with the South African cinema titan, John Kani as T’Challa’s father, King T’Chaka. It was at that moment I knew I wanted to make this movie. After Scarlett’s character leaves them, Chad and John began conversing in a language I had never heard before. It sounded familiar, full of the same clicks and smacks that young black children would make in the States. The same clicks that we would often be chided for being disrespectful or improper. But, it had a musicality to it that felt ancient, powerful, and African.

In my meeting after watching the film, I asked Nate Moore, one of the producers of the film, about the language. “Did you guys make it up?” Nate replied, “that’s Xhosa, John Kani’s native language. He and Chad decided to do the scene like that on set, and we rolled with it.” I thought to myself. “He just learned lines in another language, that day?” I couldn’t conceive how difficult that must have been, and even though I hadn’t met Chad, I was already in awe of his capacity as actor.

I learned later that there was much conversation over how T’Challa would sound in the film. The decision to have Xhosa be the official language of Wakanda was solidified by Chad, a native of South Carolina, because he was able to learn his lines in Xhosa, there on the spot. He also advocated for his character to speak with an African accent, so that he could present T’Challa to audiences as an African king, whose dialect had not been conquered by the West.

I finally met Chad in person in early 2016, once I signed onto the film. He snuck past journalists that were congregated for a press junket I was doing for Creed, and met with me in the green room. We talked about our lives, my time playing football in college, and his time at Howard studying to be a director, about our collective vision for T’Challa and Wakanda. We spoke about the irony of how his former Howard classmate Ta-Nehisi Coates was writing T’Challa’s current arc with Marvel Comics. And how Chad knew Howard student Prince Jones, whose murder by a police officer inspired Coates’ memoir Between The World and Me.

I noticed then that Chad was an anomaly. He was calm. Assured. Constantly studying. But also kind, comforting, had the warmest laugh in the world, and eyes that seen much beyond his years, but could still sparkle like a child seeing something for the first time.

That was the first of many conversations. He was a special person. We would often speak about heritage and what it means to be African. When preparing for the film, he would ponder every decision, every choice, not just for how it would reflect on himself, but how those choices could reverberate. “They not ready for this, what we are doing…” “This is Star Wars, this is Lord of the Rings, but for us… and bigger!” He would say this to me while we were struggling to finish a dramatic scene, stretching into double overtime. Or while he was covered in body paint, doing his own stunts. Or crashing into frigid water, and foam landing pads. I would nod and smile, but I didn’t believe him. I had no idea if the film would work. I wasn’t sure I knew what I was doing. But I look back and realize that Chad knew something we all didn’t. He was playing the long game. All while putting in the work. And work he did.

He would come to auditions for supporting roles, which is not common for lead actors in big budget movies. He was there for several M’Baku auditions. In Winston Duke’s, he turned a chemistry read into a wrestling match. Winston broke his bracelet. In Letitia Wright’s audition for Shuri, she pierced his royal poise with her signature humor, and would bring about a smile to T’Challa’s face that was 100% Chad.

While filming the movie, we would meet at the office or at my rental home in Atlanta, to discuss lines and different ways to add depth to each scene. We talked costumes, military practices. He said to me “Wakandans have to dance during the coronations. If they just stand there with spears, what separates them from Romans?” In early drafts of the script. Eric Killmonger’s character would ask T’Challa to be buried in Wakanda. Chad challenged that and asked, what if Killmonger asked to be buried somewhere else?

Chad deeply valued his privacy, and I wasn’t privy to the details of his illness. After his family released their statement, I realized that he was living with his illness the entire time I knew him. Because he was a caretaker, a leader, and a man of faith, dignity and pride, he shielded his collaborators from his suffering. He lived a beautiful life. And he made great art. Day after day, year after year. That was who he was. He was an epic firework display. I will tell stories about being there for some of the brilliant sparks till the end of my days. What an incredible mark he’s left for us.

I haven’t grieved a loss this acute before. I spent the last year preparing, imagining and writing words for him to say, that we weren’t destined to see. It leaves me broken knowing that I won’t be able to watch another close-up of him in the monitor again or walk up to him and ask for another take.

It hurts more to know that we can’t have another conversation, or facetime, or text message exchange. He would send vegetarian recipes and eating regimens for my family and me to follow during the pandemic. He would check in on me and my loved ones, even as he dealt with the scourge of cancer.

In African cultures we often refer to loved ones that have passed on as ancestors. Sometimes you are genetically related. Sometimes you are not. I had the privilege of directing scenes of Chad’s character, T’Challa, communicating with the ancestors of Wakanda. We were in Atlanta, in an abandoned warehouse, with bluescreens, and massive movie lights, but Chad’s performance made it feel real. I think it was because from the time that I met him, the ancestors spoke through him. It’s no secret to me now how he was able to skillfully portray some of our most notable ones. I had no doubt that he would live on and continue to bless us with more. But it is with a heavy heart and a sense of deep gratitude to have ever been in his presence, that I have to reckon with the fact that Chad is an ancestor now. And I know that he will watch over us, until we meet again."

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Rest in Peace Chadwick Boseman


The Fairytale of Alphonso Davies


"Davies is already on the fast-track to becoming a global soccer star, playing a key role as Bayern Munich won a famous “treble” of trophies including the Bundesliga league title in Germany, the main domestic cup competition and the prestigious UEFA Champions League—Europe’s top competition and the most prestigious title in world club soccer. He was also voted as Bayern’s Rookie of the Year.

By almost any standards it’s a stunning rise to stardom for a player many mainstream soccer fans had never even heard of two years ago.

In the process, Davies has set records, including becoming the first Canadian international to win the Champions League. But Davies isn’t new to rewriting the record books. His $13 million transfer fee made him the most expensive MLS player ever. And, after featuring at the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup at 16, he became the youngest player ever for Canada’s men’s national team. He also became Canada’s youngest ever goalscorer as well as the youngest player to score at the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

By most standards for young soccer players, Davies is living the dream. But that dream was very nearly crushed even before it started as he was born in a Ghanaian refugee camp to Liberian parents fleeing a brutal civil war which left more than 150,000 dead and nearly half a million people displaced. At the age of five, he arrived in Canada with his parents as refugees and soon began turning heads at local soccer training pitches and became the first player born in the 2000s to play in an MLS match after making his debut at 16 for Vancouver Whitecaps.

At a time when several Western countries in Europe, UK and the US are having heated political debates about keeping out refugees, Davies’ journey serves as the rare case which shows the other side of some of the unsavory discourse. "

Redesigning Taiwan's Passport


"If Taiwan adopts a quirky motif on its next passport, it will signal a break in the long tradition of using crests, coats of arms, cartouches, and other stodgy symbols in the history of travel documents. When passports were first used, projecting an air of formality in the graphic design was essential, in large part to convince border guards that your travel papers were legitimate and issued by an official body. But with the dawning of biometrics and ePassports in the late 1990s, a traveler’s data are now stored in a microchip embedded in the booklet. Today, computers ascertain the veracity of documents, thus technically eliminating the need to design documents so austerely.

The International Civil Aviation Organization in fact, only has recommendations, not rules, for what passports should look like. Despite this, most countries tend to stick to traditional colors to “look official” and uphold a “sense of propriety,” as explained in a 2018 Travel and Leisure article (though countries have begun to be a bit more creative on the inside). Similarly, South Sudan, the world’s newest country, chose a dark blue cover decorated with an eagle, ostensibly following the look of the US passport.

But seriousness is far from Taiwan’s favored policy. At this year’s TED conference, Taiwan’s digital minister Audrey Tang explained that government ministries routinely hire professional comedians as “engagement officers” to help scheme information campaigns. The Taiwanese government recently used memes featuring dogs to quash hoaxes about Covid-19 circulating on the internet. Even its top leaders are willing to be, quite literally, the butt of the joke.

That goofiness, which is reflected in many of the contest’s entries, is a genius foil to China’s dour authoritarianism, Hugh observes, where the government regularly tries to bar jokes about the Chinese president’s likeness to Winnie the Pooh.

“It’s the one thing that dictators really can’t deal with it,” said Hughes.”They can deal with criticism or dissidents by locking them up or shooting them but being laughed at is the opposite of fear.”"

The World's Most and Least Powerful Passports (February 2016)

Big New, Empty NFL Stadiums

Allegiant Stadium for the Las Vegas Raiders 

SoFi Stadium for the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers