Chris & Me

September 19, 2014

I don’t usually do this sort of thing, but over at TWS I’ve got a little essay about comic books, my best friend, parenthood, and mortality.

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As of today the good folks at Templeton Press have sent my new book, The Seven Deadly Virtues, off to the printer. I’d like to tell you about it, since, unlike What to Expect, this project has been shrouded in relative secrecy.

First off, it’s not really “my” book. After What to Expect, which took a little more than five years to write, I realized that writing books by yourself is for suckers. So for The Seven Deadly Virtues (I’m open to suggestions on how to short-hand the title; “7DV”?) I called a bunch of my favorite writers and asked them to each write an essay. All I had to do was edit them, shuffle the chapters into a semi-coherent order, and write an introduction. It was an embarrassingly small amount of work. The product is awesome because the secret, it turns out, is getting writers who are better than you to do all the heavy lifting. And I’ve got the 1998 Yankees.

No, really: P. J. O’Rourke, Christopher Buckley, Andy Ferguson, Matt Labash, Mollie Hemingway, James Lileks, Rob Long, Jonah Goldberg Joe Queenan, Larry Miller, Christopher Caldwell, Iowahawk, Sonny Bunch, Christine Rosen, Andrew Stiles, Michael Graham, and Rita Koganzon. That, my friends, is a New Jack Murderer’s Row.

So what’s it all about? Remember Bill Bennett’s wonderful Book of Virtues? It’s like that, but funny. The Seven Deadly Virtues is a meditation on virtue and the human condition and filled with yucks. Yet also, amazingly enough, some philosophical seriousness, too. Imagine Aristotle crossed with . . . well, I don’t know who, exactly. Maybe Rodney Dangerfield. Or Jerry Seinfeld. Or Evelyn Waugh. It’s just funny. You’ll love it.

Of course, I would say that. But I truly believe it. I love how this book turned out and I’m really proud to be part of a project with so many writers I admire. And I think you’ll love it, too.

I’ll be redesigning the site in a few weeks and then moving into pimp mode as we get closer to the release date, October 28.

Now, go order copies for you and everyone you love. It’ll be a fantastic Halloween (or holiday of your choice) gift.

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The Greatness of Triple H

September 10, 2014

If you’re into podcasting, and wrestling, Talk is Jericho is about as good as it gets. (Jericho is such podcasting gold that his episode on the Nerdist podcast was absolutely the best interview Chris Hardwick ever did. Even better than the Mitch Hurwitz episode.) In two recent episodes, Jericho has a long interview with Triple H. I cannot possibly recommend it enough.

Some thoughts:

* How great is Jericho? He plays the audio of one of Triple H’s first on camera interviews, when he had just been handed the gimmick of French heel Jean-Paul Levesque. His French accent is atrocious. And Jericho says he sounds Manuel from Fawlty Towers. Gold.

(The bow on top of this incident is that as he’s getting ready to do the spot, Triple H notices that the interviewer, Gordon Solie, is totally hammered. One of the crew members whispers to Triple H, as he’s walking to the camera, “If he collapses, try to clothesline him so you can draw some heat.”)

* Triple H has long been my favorite modern-era wrestler. (Modern era, for me, meaning, guys I watched primarily as an adult and not a kid.) I don’t know that he’s the best talent of his generation–though he’s certainly top five. He was just my favorite. Now I understand why: He’s a normal guy.

I don’t mean normal in the sense of being just an average joe. He’s clearly not. But while most wrestlers have junior varsity rock-star lives, Triple H seems to have approached his profession like any high-achieving, ambitious guy in other industries, might: He focused on the wrestling business early, knew he wanted to work in the WWE, and set about learning everything there was about the company and its history. Then, when he got hired, he showed deference to elders and waited his turn while working hard. He was the first guy at the office and the last guy to leave. He hung around waiting for the bosses to ask him to do stuff and when they did, he said yes. That’s how you make yourself indispensable. And how you succeed. You say yes. You get into position so that when the boss tosses you the ball, you’re ready to catch and run. But you never demand that they throw it to you. That’s for diva wide-outs and office d-bags.

Where most wrestlers approach their jobs as a lifestyle, Triple H seems to have approached it like a career.

Whether you want to be a doctor or a writer or anything else, this is a pretty good formula for success. (And it’s a formula that’s anathema to most of the Millennials I see who want to start their careers in upper-management and then work to start co-opting ownership straight away.)

* In a weird way, Triple H has lived the wresting equivalent of Charles Murray’s Curmudgeon’s Guide.

* Not really being a Shawn Michaels guy, I never fully understood how influential Michaels was to late-’90s wrestling. I guess he really was The Man.

* Triple H tells a story about his first night out with the Kliq. Whoa.

I’ll leave you with this: The tag-match in which Triple H tore his quad muscle, but finished the match anyway. The last four minutes of this is one of the best bits of storytelling I’ve ever seen in the ring. Epic.

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An iWatch for the Leftorium?

September 9, 2014

A stupid Apple Watch question: Does it come in a left-handed version? Because if you’re a lefty who wears your watch on your right wrist, you’re reaching across the face of the watch to use the digital crown, which seems to be the primary input.

If you’re a weirdo like me–a righty who wears his watch on his righthand–it’s even worse. I’ll be reaching across the watch face to use the digital crown with my non-dominant hand.

Good thing someone just bought a kick-ass surf watch . . .

Update: Now we know!

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RGIII: Calling All Markers

September 9, 2014

An honest question for Redskins fans: What level of success does Robert Griffin III need to achieve as a quarterback to make his acquisition worthwhile for the franchise?

For example, if he’s Elway, then he was a bargain. If he’s Achille Smith, he’s a disaster.

But what if he’s Brad Johnson? Or Joe Flacco? Or Steve McNair?

I’m looking for analogies here in terms of both numbers and longevity. And I wonder where the line is under which drafting him at the price the Redskins paid clearly becomes a mistake that, with the benefit of hindsight, would not be repeated.

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NYC edition.

As always, the problem isn’t (just) the mistake–it’s that (1) The mistake seems to have been made in bad faith; and (2) There seems to be no institutional corrective applied to the officers who made the mistake. Most workers would expect to get fired if they made a really bad on-the-job mistake like this one.

Also, as Conor Friedersdorf notes, this is another case where the public disorder seems to have been created by the police. In situations like this one, it’s helpful to think about whether or not there were ways the police officers could have acted which would have obtained their objectives without a beating and arrest. If there were such courses of actions–and in this case, it certainly seems so–then the course of action they did take is not acceptable. The use of force by a state agent should be the last resort, not just one option among many, depending on how the agent of the state is feeling at the given moment.

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Site Is Slightly Jacked Up

September 8, 2014

Comments don’t seem to be working and lots of other little things are going weird. I’m working on it; I think I have to update Thesis. But this may take a while. Like, several weeks. Thanks to the new WordPress. Update: Look at the big brain on Brad!

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#GamerGate

September 4, 2014

As the kids say, W.T.F. No really, go look. I’ll wait. Let me know how many paragraphs you make it through before you’re completely lost. Two thoughts: 1) You thought that there were people with too much time on their hands? You have no idea. 2) Suzanne Collins was basically right: except that America is pretty […]

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The Best Gay Cowboy Since Brokeback Mountain

September 4, 2014

Obligatory Michael Sam content, via Galley Friend X: In a story on Michael Sam’s move to Dallas, he’s quoted as complaining about the media circus: “You guys follow me around like hawks,” Sam said after going through his first late-morning workout with the Cowboys. “I’ve been tired of it since February. I expected it.” That’s pretty […]

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World War T Comes to the Army

August 26, 2014

The Pentagon thinks that there are 15,500 transgendered people secretly serving in the military. Some quick math: There are 1,369,532 active duty military personnel. If 15,500 of them are transgendered, it means that 1.13 percent of our armed forces are transgendered. For comparison’s sake, according to the CDC, 1.6 percent of Americans identify as gay […]

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About that Action Comics #1

August 26, 2014

The world perked up when a 9.0 copy of Action Comics #1 sold for $3.2 million on eBay the other day. The real news is buried in Chuck Rozanski’s helpful weekly Mile High Comics newsletter: It might surprise you to know that my reaction to that sale was that it was no big deal, as it […]

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Great Moments in Law Enforcement

August 20, 2014

An honest question for super trooper Sunil Dutta, who says that if citizens would like to avoid being shot (or tasered or pepper sprayed or beaten) by their law enforcement agents, they simply must not “challenge me.” Here’s his relevant advice to citizens: [I]f you don’t want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton […]

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