This is a new semi-weekly column from Leitch. It has words, and pictures. It's called Ten Humans Of The Week. It might or might not work. But here it is.
The most depressing thing I've read all week? This post by Anil Dash. Basically, he was traveling for a couple of weeks, away from the Web, TV, whatever, and he asked his readers, "What did I miss?" The response was chilling.
The overwhelming consensus? I didn't miss anything.. There were some funny and/or amusing replies in there, of course, (you're a clever bunch!) but for the most part, I was kind of disturbed at how few things that are truly significant happen in any given two-week period. There were the usual bevy of internet memes, some fussing over, of all things, a policy change at Facebook, and a couple of pop-culture items of note.
So, it's not exactly the most profound observation, and I'm far from the first to make it, but it's worth noting again: There isn't that much going on. While the constant flow of information is entertaining and addictive, it is, by overwhelming consensus, primarily filled with bits that are of little to no value. I'm recording this as much for my own future reference as for anyone else's.
I thought about this when I was reading this Slate piece about Twitter, which points out that even though it might be exciting when something big happens that makes Twitter look prescient, very rarely does anything big happen. This does not bother me about the Internet. It bothers me about life.
As we get older, we have so few moments of real consequence that we usually don't even notice them until they're long gone. I swear to God, 67 percent of conversations at parties in the last year have gone exactly like this:
Me: How's it going?
Other Person: Good, good.
Me: What's been going on? Haven't seen you in a while.
Other Person: Same shit.
Me:: Yeah, me too.
We have entered the Same Shit stage of our lives. I used to get this from my friends who married early, or had children young. Now I get it from everyone, and I give it to everyone. I might have to accept that the person I am now is the exact same person I will be 30 years from now. Same Shit. Happens to everybody.
You might say the Internet exacerbates the problem. I would argue that it distracts us from it. In the last two hours, I have seen Cats That Look Like Wilford Brimley, perused pictures of drunk/dead stuffed animals, enjoyed a Lego Camcorder and discovered retro Mac iPhone applications. Did any of this have a tangible effect on my life? Will I remember any of them by the time I finish this paragraph? No. But it sure did make the last two hours go faster.
So: Thanks, Internet. You continue to be the motorized walkway easing our brisk glide toward death. It's so much easier than actually walking there ourselves.
Frank Caliendo. It is telling that in the world of actual entertainment, Frank Caliendo is a guy who can't keep a show on the air. In the world of sports, he is the Funniest Human Being Alive. I know, I like to think I'm fancy pants entertainment writer guy, fine, but honestly, our sports media is entirely to blame for Frank Caliendo. The rest of earth thinks he's a fat Rich Little, but, man, Terry Bradshaw and John Saunders just think he's uproarious! I would say that Caliendo is destined to just host the ESPYs every year, but honestly? Look at the ESPY hosts. He's not even qualified to do that! By the way, take a look at that ESPY Wikipedia page. It's enormous, and deep, and awfully well researched. (There's intricate detail on how voting works for the Best Outdoor Sportsman ESPY.) Anybody who claims that sports bloggers have too much time on their hands should look at the people who diligently update the Wikipedia pages for the ESPY Awards. I cannot fathom of a more pointless activity. We must document what happened for future generations!
Vladimir Guerrero. So, this Saturday, I'm heading out to Tampa for a week to write a story about the Yankees for the magazine. I'm pretty much assuming nobody's going to tell me anything interesting. They don't tell the beat guys anything interesting, and those guys are there all the time. I somehow doubt your average Yankee is going to say, "Well, I know Mark Feinsand has been working his butt off every day out here for a month ... but I think I'll just spill my guts to this new dude who just popped in for a few days!" And as if I wasn't worried enough, now athletes have another reason to shut up: The possibility of costing themselves millions of dollars by accidentally revealing their actual age. I'm trying to think of something I could say in casual conversation that would cost me millions of dollars. I don't think there's anything. I find it vaguely disconcerting that not only will I never be a millionaire, I'll never even have the opportunity to foolishly cost myself millions of dollars.
John Hart. Guess what? More MLB Network shilling! Of all the "new" analysts on the network, my favorite is without question John Hart, former general manager for the Texas Rangers. His continued excellence is proof positive of the theory that fans' ability to tolerate a baseball analyst and retain insights is indirectly proportional to the number of seasons said analyst spent in the major leagues. (Hart never played in the pros.) And, because this will amuse only me, here is how I'd rank the MLB Network's analysts:
2. Joe Magrane (it's amazing how much he looks like Bruce Campbell)
3. Harold Reynolds (a little sycophantic and Joe Morgan-clubby, but unlike Morgan, he actually seems to like baseball. Makes a difference)
4. Mitch Williams (not only buddies with Daulerio's dad, but also surprisingly alert and sane. There's hope for Kenny Powers yet!)
5. Dan Plesac (seems smart, but actually picked the Astros to finish second in the NL Central)
6. Barry Larkin (it's funny how everything in baseball today somehow relates to the mid-90s Cincinnati Reds)
7. Billy Ripken (the only reason he's on TV is because he kind of looks like his brother. Fuck Face!)
Tom Izzo. Considering trashing the Big Ten is the fun college hoops rage these days, allow me a humble retort. I've been watching the Big Ten all season, and it's pleasing to watch actual defense in a basketball game. Isn't the lack of defense what people who (dumbly) dislike the NBA always cite? I saw some of those mid-major conference championship games, and they certainly don't play any defense in there. Imagine what the NBA would be like if no one could score, but they kept shooting like crazy anyway. Illinois is the worst supposed "offender" — they'll never, ever live that 33-point game against Penn State down — but the Big Ten is full of teams with average scorers and vastly above average defenders. And coaches, of which Izzo is the best. (Even if, sorry Dash, I never quite understand why he has decided East Lansing is the best city on earth.) It's not like people watch college basketball for the amazing athleticism anyway. Isn't good coaching and solid fundamentals the reason college basketball is thought to be better by so many? Well, the Big Ten has been outstanding in both those all season. Every few years, the Big Ten stuns everybody by putting four or five teams in the Sweet 16. I bet this is that year.
Dan Leone. I'm of two minds on whether or not the Eagles were justified in firing the part-time stadium employee. On one hand, the Eagles should probably relax, particularly when a firing like that guarantees terrible press once people find out about it, which they inevitably do. On the other hand: In this economy, it's probably not wise to do anything that might even slightly upset your employee, considering they're just looking for an excuse to can your ass. (I assume, in three years, by the way, Leone's job will actually be filled by Brian Dawkins.) Not everyone can be Bill Simmons, you know, and thrive under the iron fist of an oppressor. By the way, kudos to the Philadelphia Inquirer for coming up with a new way to shoot the Guy At A Laptop Photo. He's actually holding his keyboard. Clever!
Joe Lunardi. This is the time of year when everyone loves to stomp on ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi. It will be particularly amusing to watch him get screamed at by Jay Bilas and Bob Knight all week for Never Playing The Game; getting yelled at is pretty much 47 percent of Lunardi's job description. I think Lunardi gets a bum rap. In the world of baseball, Nate Silver is lionized for using statistical analysis and past results to predict the future. In the world of college basketball, Joe Lunardi is called a pencil dick for being a desk jockey with the temerity not to include Maryland and Providence. Everyone always asks how Lunardi got the job of Bracketologist. Wanna know how? Because he actually put in the time and effort to study this stuff. (For many years.) Trust me, I don't care how well Digger Phelps can draw up the pick-and-roll — and, all told, I suspect he doesn't do it all that well — Joe Lunardi has a much better idea of who's going to make the tournament than anyone else you'll see on ESPN's set this week. Plus, you know, he's just chillin'.
Terrell Owens. Because of The Lady, I make a yearly trip to a Buffalo Bills game, and I have to say: I'm looking for it more now than I could have anticipated. Think about it: Is there any team in organized football that Terrell Owens could have signed with that you would have preferred more than Buffalo? I hate Terrell Owens, and I was excited to see him go here. Buffalo desperately, profoundly needs something to get excited about, and Terrell Owens is just the prescription. If he's great, Buffalo has an identity again, something to rally around, someone for everyone to talk about and get angry at. If he's terrible, Buffalo will be unified, and overpowering, in its malevolence. Buffalo hasn't been relevant enough to cheer against lately, to have gravitas, to put some meat on its bones. Terrell Owens provides them that. I still hope he somehow hurts himself. But if he were going to redeem himself anywhere, it would have to be here. Admit it: If Terrell Owens can bring a Super Bowl title to Buffalo — which of course he isn't going to do, but still ... if — you'd re-evaluate him a little bit, wouldn't you? I would.
Billy Packer. We're nine days from the beginning of the Tournament, and no matter what you think about him — and considering only Bayless and Mariotti finished lower than him in Deadspin's Media Approval Ratings, I think you've made yourself quite clear — it'll be strange not to hear his patented nasally outrage this March. I imagine him sitting alone in his den — actually, he'd probably be in his garage, woodworking and growling at cars that drive by — flicking the lights on ...and off ... and on ... and off. In case you were wondering, he hasn't died. In fact, he has a crazy idea: Turning the NBA into a four-on-four league. Hey, times are tough all over. Everybody's cutting back.
David Paterson. I thought living in Illinois would give me all the gubernatorial drama one human could handle, but, alas, New York's getting almost as good. As hilariously documented by my colleague Chris Smith, the state of New York is being run by incompetent blind guy who seems almost proud of the fact that he doesn't know what he's doing. At first, I thought the cracks about him being blind were over the top and a bit unnecessary. I now realize that his blindness is not only entertaining, but also part of the problem. But hey: He's upfront about his drug use and marital difficulties! That's so much more important than actually having a clue as to what's going on. We can bring Spitzer back, yes? Give that guy a different concubine an hour, whatever works.
Rick Reilly. I'm going to keep linking to the Fake Rick Reilly Twitter until someone finally just asks Reilly about it. (My favorite from the last few days: "Sunny Yang's parents didn't understand. They were born in North Korea. What did THEY know about wakeboarding?") I suspect his reaction will be similar to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Joe Strauss. Even though famed columnist Bernie Miklasz — along with half the sports staff — is on Twitter, Strauss, when confronted with the technology, unleashed this gem: "Only twits Twitter." Good one! Reilly himself would be proud.
(UPDATE: It appears someone HAS shown it to Reilly. The account has been suspended. More updates to come, I'm sure.)