I’ve been trying to follow recent developments in the deliciously-named* Whitefish, Montana. Of course, I am concerned for the health and well-being of my co-religionists and other wonderful people who have been targeted there. But also — given that the town is less than a nine-hour drive from Seattle — it has occurred to me that the same skinheads bussing themselves in from as far away as the Bay Area** could probably also find their way here. Which is why I find it so frustrating when the esteemed journalists of the New York Times are derelict in their duty to, you know, journalize.
Here’s a simple rule reputable media publications should follow, with absolutely no exceptions: If you’re going to reproduce a third party’s factual assertion, you must provide immediate clarification whenever said factual assertion is false. The alternative – that is, current practice – makes it far too easy for the subject of a news story to hijack the vehicle you provide for his or her own ends.
Because I don’t want to turn the hunt for truth into a partisan issue, I’ll give an innocuous example of how this ought to be done. On Saturday morning, the Seattle Times published an editorial by columnist Larry Stone that touched on what a potential Sounders victory in the MLS Cup could do for the franchise in its home city:
In its article describing the new trains designed for Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), a Bay Area Publication (BAP) felt the need to assure its readers that any similarity between the cars’ interior color scheme and Santa Clara‘s erstwhile nemesis from the north was purely incidental: “This is no homage to Russell Wilson and gang.”
But this should have gone without saying. Not because deliberate homage would have garnered few fans, or because — as BART marketing and research manager Aaron Weinstein told WIRED — “any combination of hues would run into sports allegiances,” but simply because the magazine mixed up its Seattle sports teams.
Earlier this month, the Seattle Seahawks hit back at Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon with their own take on his recurring segment “Tonight Show Superlatives“. This was actually their second crack back at the late night host. In the first go-around, the Hawks went with their own version of that exact segment and titled it, oh so cleverly, “Seahawks Superlatives“. This time — almost exactly one year later — they instead spoofed Jimmy Fallon’s “Thank You Notes“.
Both Seahawks responses were cute enough — though nobody seems to have told Russell Wilson that his thank you note should be addressed to Jimmy Fallon — but both also left me thinking the Seahawks blew their huge opportunity to dunk one through the goal posts (like Jimmy Graham).
Bail was set for #ManInTree at $50,000, which means it won’t be long before we hear he’s signed a lucrative book deal to help cover the costs. Since the forthcoming memoir may as well be a foregone conclusion, I took the liberty of designing a book jacket on his behalf:
Last Tuesday, while much of the world stood transfixed by the tragic bombings in Brussels, Seattle could not take its eyes off #ManInTree — a man (surprise!) who defied police orders to descend from an 80-foot sequoia tree in downtown Seattle for a full Shabbat (25 hours).
At the height (pun intended) of his popularity, KOMO News’ livestream of #ManInTree’s treetop standoff attracted 420,000 viewers (the perfect number of Seattleites to demonstrate interest in someone really, really high). By comparison, a nearby Hillary rally attracted fewer than 3,000.
As #ManInTree’s ordeal stretched into Wednesday, I could not help but notice certain parallels between his story and that of the impending holiday of Purim (which began that night). And so I was inspired to pen a piece of poetry,* which I now publish publicly for the first time. I hope you enjoy:
Cam Newton has faced no end of grief after he walked out of his post-Super Bowl press conference having said precisely this:
Late night TV hosts sometimes understandably like to make sure their viewers are still awake. John Oliver, for instance, delights in mislabeling his maps just to keep you on your toes:
Thanks to Rudyard Kipling, we know how the leopard got his spots, how the camel got his humps, how the tiger got his stripes, how the whale got his throat, and so on.* Among his beloved Just So Stories is one titled The Crab That Played with the Sea, which tells of how the crab was transformed from a large animal into a tiny one.**
Joel McHale was a panelist on last night’s Nightly Show when the conversation turned to hashtag deflategate. McHale came down hard for Tom Brady, so much so that he advanced a completely spurious and silly argument in Brady’s defense.
Now, admittedly, he might have realized how silly it was, because Joel only got about half the point out of his mouth before pulling up:
If you give the balls to another team, they’re going — just like — every — this is so dumb. It is so overdone, it’s ridiculous.
Figuring out what McHale wanted to say is going to take some serious sleuthing. I could parse the sentence slowly word by word, but here’s how I read the argument as a whole: