This is a weekly column from Leitch. It has words, and pictures. It's called Ten Humans Of The Week.
I'm about to hunker down in the bunker for the next book — out next Father's Day! If I finish in time! — so I'm trying to wean myself off excess, unnecessary Web usage. This used to be less difficult: I'd read Gawker and Slate and Baseball Prospectus a little less, maybe start doing more work on my old computer that doesn't connect to the Web. (This only goes so far: When you're writing something that big, you'll find any way you can to distract yourself. I found myself playing with that non-Web computer's internal clock. "I wonder what time it is in Monaco right now!")
Now, of course, there's a lot more to shut down from. There's my Twitter, there's my Tumblr, there's something called Foursquare, which I use for absolutely no reason at all. (I don't even like it, and its format — telling your friends what bars you're at when you arrive — is literally the opposite of the way I live my life. And still: I feel compelled to be on.) Realize, we are just about a year away, tops, from someone writing one of those gimmick books about staying away from the Internet for six months and seeing what happens, like that couple that had sex every day for a year or that guy who tried to live for a few months as if he were a Civil War general. (He must have been very hot.) It's going to be so much harder than it was the last time I slowed the Web usage for to work on a book, two years ago. I have a fear people will forget I'm alive. Not that being aware of it now is providing them much all that interesting.
(Thanks to Gourmet Spud, by the way, for filling in last week. Unfortunately, he ignored my pleas and wrote something much funnier than what you're about to read.)
(Oh, and I am absolutely not ready to talk about Ankiel yet. I hope you understand.)
Jim Courier. The "retired" tennis pro — I put retired in quotes because no tennis player is truly retired, not really — made a headline or two (but probably just one) for live-Twittering an exhibition match with John McEnroe over the weekend. In case you were wondering whether or not this is going to start some sort of trend, rest assured: It won't. Some highlights:
"I hit a rick-donk-u-lous slice angle pass to go up 2 minibreaks off of a sick mac approach. Yee haw."
"Gagged a fh sitter to lose serve 4-3 mac. Gotta refocus. Loose game there"
"3-2. Tight service game. Was down bp. Served out of it. Rushed that game 2 dbl flts. Relax!!!"
"They just reeled off winner after winner. 10-3 for them in the breaker...whew. I'm tired"
Technology at its finest. Will someone Twitter a marathon someday? (One would think someone already has.) I'd guess stuff like:
"feeling good! beautiful day!"
"look its that dude who pushes his son around in marathons. totally wasting that guy"
"startin to feeel sorrre"
"i think my nipples are starting to bleed"
"fuck you i dont want your water you fuck"
"i just shit myself"
"shit is running down my leg"
"please let me die"
John Danks. I had to feel for the White Sox lefthander, who was "caught" picking his nose during the ESPN Sunday Night game. (Stupid machines capable of capturing human movement for posterity!) I felt bad for him because, well, I'm one of those people who actually scratches and picks at his nose as a matter of fidgeting: I do it without realizing it, and I'm always getting caught. (On the subway the other day, an attractive woman was staring at me intently, which was intriguing until I realized my index finger was halfway to my eyesocket.) It's disgusting, and it's true, and it's happened to you and don't deny it. Thank God no one ever films me at my job. Anyway, I appreciated how Daulerio headlined the picture with different terminologies for nose picking. My dad's a fan of "Hey, Will, pick me out a Cadillac." Seriously, you don't want to see the bottom of my desk at home.
Pasta Dude. I'm not exactly the healthiest eater, to any stretch of the imagination, but I can't say I'm sprinting out the door to buy a bread bowl full of pasta. (I think it's possible that no one does the Atkins diet anymore. Maybe.) Though I am curious to see how that might taste covered in chocolate and ketchup. Anyway, the "So Good" blog pointed out the now-defunct but entirely brilliant "Pasta Dude" commercial that Domino's once had attached to their pasta. Please watch the commercial now. I love this advertisement in every possible way. First, it has a rapping corporate mascot, which is always epic. (His hat be on sideways.) Second, the ad, after the weird rapping corporate mascot shows up, is played completely straight, like this was the only logical way to convince people to eat pasta from Domino's. But mostly: It exists enough in the real world that the family reacts in the horror perhaps any of us would react with upon seeing a rapping corporate mascot show up dancing and singing in our kitchen. It's verisimilitude: It's what commercials would look like if they were all directed by Lars Von Trier.
Brett Favre. Don't you freaking dare. Just don't. Seriously. If John Madden has retired, man, there's nobody left anymore. Even Peter King is tired of writing about you. We can't take it. I'd rather see Dan Marino come back.
(Warning: All this goes out the window if he promises, upon "returning," to have a sex boat part for rookie initiation. He can make that promise, right? To make it easier on him, let's just make it a sex tractor party. I think my dad has some power tools calendar in his garage that's halfway there already.)
Gloria James. It's Mother's Day this Sunday — so if you're planning on ordering flowers online, you best do it today — so I thought I'd take a look at Gloria James, the mother of our new MVP and the best player in the NBA. It has been more than three years since LeBron's mom — who, I remind, is only 40 years old; she should date Favre! — was arrested for drunk driving. During the arrest, she kicked out the back windshield of the cop car and, when she still refused to settle down, they maced her. They maced LeBron's mom! I mean, I really don't think this story could possibly be talked about enough. If he comes to New York in a couple years, she's going to be a huge, huge hit here.
Damon Lindelof. I'm pretty sure I don't understand what's going on on "Lost" anymore, but that doesn't make me any less obsessive about it. As I've mentioned before, I'm a loyal listener to the "Lost" podcast with producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, and I'm realizing that Lindelof, in particular, reminds me just how much of my life I've wasted. He's running the most challenging show on television, he's producing the "Star Trek" remake that everyone seems to love and when "Lost" ends, he's writing the screenplay for a movie version of Stephen King's "The Dark Tower," which I'm not afraid to admit occupied about 14 percent of my childhood. And he just turned 36. Meanwhile, most of my friends have trouble getting up before noon on a Sunday. Jerk.
Mine That Bird. Ten years ago, I made my one bet on a horse race: Sitting an OTB in Alton, Illinois, I put five dollars on 30-1 underdog Charismatic to win the Kentucky Derby. Somehow, he did, and I never bet on a race again. I think this makes me the world's greatest gambler. Anyway, right before Sunday's Kentucky Derby, everyone at the party I was at — oddly, the only sporting events I go to that are social events are the Super Bowl and the Kentucky Derby — starting flitting around, asking everybody who their picks were for the race. No one had any idea, of course, partly because no one had any idea and mostly because, geez, it's a bunch of freaking horses. I, totally guessing, just blurted out "Mine That Bird," owing mostly to the fact that those are three words that make absolutely no sense place together. Lo and behold, it won, and I looked like ... well, I looked like an idiot who just threw a name into the air because everyone was asking and expected me to know something because I (kind of) work in sports. Which I quite definitively do not. I don't have a major point here except to say that I hope that Cajun guy stops winning races because he's hard enough to understand when both he and the interviewer aren't sitting atop massive mammals.
Bill Simmons. As you might have heard, The Sports Fella — who is the same age as LeBron's mom — has finally caved and signed up for Twitter. (It probably has something to do with that book he's gonna be promoting in a few months, which, rumor has it, is more than 500 pages.) Predictably, Simmons went dog-nutty from the get-go, powering forth an impressive (and oppressive) 75 Tweets in four days. (That's a pace I hit only when Rick Ankiel has slammed his head into the center field wall at a crazy rate of speed. For example.) As a frame of reference, the hyperactive storm that is Ron Zook is only at 69 after a matter of months. Will Simmons get bored with Twitter, Oprah-style, and gravitate away in the next few weeks? I hope not: There's something sublime about Simmons telling the world about watching Shoot To Kill in real time.
Quentin Tarantino. I'm the only person alive, other than maybe Daulerio, who thinks Quentin Tarantino's movies are actually improving. I'm not sure why everyone seems so annoyed that he makes stylish, empty movies about his personal obsessions: Isn't that what we usually ask from our artists? And this artist makes shit blow up in awesome ways and can even stage a kick-ass half-hour car chase. That is to say: I'm pretty ecstatic about Inglourious Basterds, which is going to debut at the Cannes Film Festival next week. The whole plot of the movie seems to be "Jews killing Nazis in increasingly creative ways." Is there supposed to be something wrong with that? What, is he supposed to make a chamber drama about a dysfunctional family torn apart over long-repressed memories of tragedy? He's Quentin Tarantino, for cripes sake! Give me stuff blowing up, riffs on animated television shows I've never seen and new, cool ways for people to die. That'll do just fine. If you need a reminder, just watch this.
Bruce Weber. No, I'm not talking about the Anatidae-voiced Illinois basketball coach, nor the fashion photographer particularly skilled at shooting profiles of naked men. (Sending that link to my always-eager-for-Illini-news father is still one of my favorite jokes. It gets him every time.) It turns out there's another Bruce Weber, a sports reporter for The New York Times, and his new book, As They Seem 'Em, is my new obsession. Basically, Weber hung out with umpires for three years and learned everything you could know about him. Umpires are weird creatures: They're on the road all the time, they rarely have anything resembling a normal family life and they exist almost solely to be yelled it. It reminded me of Ron Luciano's famous The Umpire Strikes Back, which I read as a kid and made me think that every umpire was secretly charming, funny and sweet. Luciano killed himself 14 years ago. So there's that.