This week I have been reading/planning to read/pretending to read the following. Hopefully you’ll find something of interest amongst it all.
- Building a Mystery: Boards of Canada’s Promotional Mindf— and How to Like Things Now
- Dignity and the Professionalized Body: Truck Driving in the Age of Instant Gratification
- How William Eggleston Would Photograph a Baseball Game
- The Real Karl Marx
- Robert Hughes On Nostalgia, Art and Solitude
I finally cracked down and bought a Kindle this week. My favorite feature about it is that Instapaper will send you your to-read list. I’ve added them all.
in re: Grantland, the site that did the Boards of Canada story. Do you like the site? I feel like I should enjoy it more than I really do. It kind of bugs me, actually. I’d rant about why, but I want to get some outside opinions before I decide if I legitimately have a right to be annoyed or if it’s just a hangup.
the Dutch have had little succses at club level football (soccer) in Europe – not really true. They have had three European champion clubs who have won a total of six European Cup titles – that’s 9% of all European Cups contested, for a country with about 3% of Europe’s population. Germany has over four times the population of the Netherlands but its clubs have won the same number of titles.Dutch clubs have won four of the 41 UEFA Cup/Europa Leagues (the second tier competition) contested – again, just under 10%.Also, many Dutch players have won European titles with non-Dutch clubs.Later anonymous (the guy who re-iterates glib points ad nauseam ad infinitum, never uses the definite article when referring to ethnic groups, and says “cuz” and “and etc” a lot) – the Dutch are a tall people but this is not the reason for their footballing succses. Tallness is highly advantageous for goalkeepers, and somewhat advantageous for central defenders, but those three positions notwithstanding it confers little if any competitive advantage on footballers. Most of the great players have been of average height or shorter, some of them considerably. The two great Argentinians, Maradona and Messi, are midgets, and current world and European champions spain have an abundance of short, slight players. A low centre of gravity and compact physique are much more advantageous, on average, than great height.Rather, the reasons for Dutch succses at football are high intelligence, superb organisation, quantitative analysis of training methods and footballing technique, and an emphasis on skills training from an early age. The Dutch design systems to overcome problems, and make them work, often over a pan-generational timescale that requires exception future time orientation – the reclamation of much of their very country from the sea is strong evidence of this excellent national trait.
One more thing: In the Robert Hughes article, they mention Scott Miller, a recently deceased friend of Big Star’s Alex Chilton. Scott Miller was a pretty amazing power popper in his own right. His band sounds as if Big Star continued to record into the 1980s’.
Anyway, I mention it because when he died, his family/friends made his classic albums available for free on his website. It’s five or six albums, but honestly I haven’t been able to get past Lolita Nation yet. You should download it for sure.
Also also, the ballplayer mentioned, Nick Castellanos, I could have sworn played for the Isotopes last year. But I guess his name is a portmanteau of Albuquerque outfielders Alex Castellanos and Nick “Chili” Buss..
I love the Instapaper feature too. I read far more articles than books on my Kindle, and reading articles on a Kindle rather than a computer screen is a much nicer experience.
I haven’t really read much from Grantland, so don’t really feel in a position to comment. There does seem to have been a growth in sites kind of following the longform trend but appearing a bit corporate-y with it, not necessarily taking the risks sites without advertisers/funders would be willing to take, and generally linking out to/scalping from other places, or just seeming a bit contrived. I’m not sure if Grantland falls under that banner or not, but I’d like to hear your rant!
Thanks for the Scott Miller link. I’d never heard of him, but I’ll be sure to check him out. Free Power Pop!
How long did it take you to accidentally purchase your first book on the Kindle? I’ve already mistakenly bought two.
Grantland feels to me like it’s a parody of quality.
I think they have a partnership with McSweeneys, who seem similar to Grantland in a way. I know that McSweeneys is aiming to be The Paris Review, a publishing house that will make writing hip and relevant again. But McSweeney’s doesn’t have a ton of quality control in its articles. It seems like they overpay to have work by established names, and their up-and-coming writers have promise but still miss a few beats. In that way it comes off more like Playboy: everything McSweeney’s puts out is beautiful, but nobody reads it for the articles.
And Grantland feels like it wants to emulate McSweeney’s–to be this big branded name that makes sports writing relevant again. But again, the quality’s just not there. Most of the writing isn’t any smarter or witter than what you’d get from a Sports Illustrated analyst, just a lot, lot wordier. The site just posted a 2500 word article about a single basketball game. And their big-name writer is Chuck Klosterman, who is the most lunkheaded writer in a generation. He’s David Foster Wallace if DFW watched 12 hours of TV a day as a kid. And Grantland is run by ESPN, which is a whole other rant. So what you get is a website that’s not nearly as cool as it aspires to be.
I’d rant longer, but if I spent more than a couple hundred words on this, I’d be falling into the Grantland trap!
Luckily, so far no accidental purchases…yet.
Nice rant! I think there are a fair few sites either falling into the same trap, or a very similar one. I’ve read a lot of stuff that has this pseudo-intellectual feel, favours volume over clarity and generally presents the illusion of quality without any real substance. Either that, or it is genuinely good intellectual writing that just goes over my head. Now, I don’t really mind that kind of thing in a normal blog, but when it is part of a slickly designed site and the writer is getting paid for it, it irks me a little.
I can read 2500 words on the smallest of subjects if it is written well and there is a certain lightness of touch to it – by all means be intellectual (or at least thoughtful), but there’s no real need to show off your understanding of critical theory and your Trust Funded socio-political insight when talking about what you watched on TV last night.
DFW was a great writer because he made the reader feel smart. Some of these writers seem to be setting out to make the reader feel dumb.
In conclusion, there aren’t many group-authored sites that manage to partner really good writing with the freedom of format/subject/etc you get with blogging.
Also, I’m not unconvinced that Chuck Klosterman has a Google Alert set up for himself. I ranted about him on an old blog several years ago, and I got a ton of extra page hits for that page.