Archive by Author | blkennedy

How to design a metaphor – Michael Erard – Aeon

How to design a metaphor – Michael Erard – Aeon
If you could ask Dante where he got the idea of life as a road, or Rilke where he found the notion that time is a destroyer, they might have said the metaphors…

June 19, 2015 at 03:52PM
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Alone in the Wild for 7 Days – Sam Parker Essay

Alone in the Wild for 7 Days – Sam Parker Essay
“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”—Blaise Pascal, Pensées
It’s 3:35 a.m. in the morning. I am standing in an…

June 17, 2015 at 11:02PM
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“Don’t Be Evil”

Good advice on how to suck, but I had to share the kicker specifically:

Put mayo on my sandwich without asking me. Goes without saying. If you put mayo on my sandwich without asking me, you suck the most of all. Someone put this on a park bench in my honor, please.

from How To Suck: A Special Message To The Graduating Class Of 2014, by Drew Magary for Deadspin

The Silent Majority

tribebally

The 11-seeded Dayton Flyers lost to No. 1-overall Florida today in the NCAA tournament, and with that loss, the death throes of The Mid-Majority began. I can trace my interest in basketball to my discovery of this site (and free season tickets to Tribe hoops from my employer), but credit for the site’s charisma and community belong to Kyle. I have never met Kyle, but I feel like I know Kyle. The fact that I feel compelled to pay my respects to a basketball website is entirely due to Kyle.

Kyle Whelliston is (for another few days, at least), the proprietor of The Mid-Majority and the finest sportswriter in America. On Monday night, ten years of TMM posts, interviews, fabulous reporting and absolutely stellar writing will disappear. The website that Whelliston invented, shepherded, battled and let go will be gone and deleted.

I’ve been thinking about this all day. Why, after a decade of building a community — a real, breathing one — should its home be erased? My Twitter feed would be full of Tribe basketball faithful regardless, but it’s thanks to the Mid-Majority that there are also fans of VCU, Northeastern, Denver and, yes, Dayton. There are code words and inside jokes, #PIXELVISION and #AOUEOU, secrets that only the proud few of us know. I proudly donated money to keep the site going, as did many others. And it will be gone.

This will all be explained, Kyle says, in the tenth and final Epilogue. If it’s anything like previous years, it won’t just be a post-mortem of the mid-major collegiate basketball landscape (in fact, it’s sometimes only remotely related to hoops) but also a barometer on Kyle, the community that supported him and the places he would lead us. I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say he became a bit of an iconoclast, not least of all because he shrank from the TMM spotlight over the last few years to focus on the rest of his life. Now, it seems, he’ll finish the leap.

The Mid-Majority lent narrative to a sport that I barely understood eight years ago, watching agape in Richmond as Leonard Mendez buried an off-balance three to annihilate the Tribe’s CAA tournament chances. TMM knew: ours was a titanic struggle of schools with few resources struggling against the might of the BCS conferences. Ours was a challenge to claim a sport on our terms and not ESPN’s. Ours was a struggle to remember that there must be room for quirk and pain and joy in a world of power rankings and ROI. The Mid-Majority, when I found it, was a conduit I could get into, and I did. TMM blended the obscure and strange with the epic and powerful. It was the perfect place for me to discover basketball, and I learned a lot about writing, too. (Of course, there are still haters.)

More than anything else, Kyle Whelliston is a hell of a sportswriter. He styles himself as a web developer now, and admittedly I lost some interest in the site after he stopped writing as frequently. But if you don’t believe me, read his 2010 book One Beautiful Season, which is now my post-deletion consolation that this work will live on. But if you’re just learning about the website now, you have fewer than 48 hours to read as much of TMM as you can. Start here.

A handwritten note from Kyle arrived in the mail last week to thank me for my support of The Mid-Majority over the last few years. Now that I live in Silicon Valley, mere miles from a Pac-12 Sweet Sixteen team, I am struck by the realness of the TMM community in contrast with the nascent, ephemeral communities of the tech industry. I have a TMM foam finger, a t-shirt, two Bally Club membership cards and now this note. I gave *him* my money and I’m the one writing this lengthy tribute. It’s an inadequate way for me to extend my thanks back to Kyle, but it’s a start. I got a lot out of following TMM: I learned a lot, and I felt like I belonged. It’s not a feeling I ever expected to get from the Internet.

So for a website about ten guys bouncing an orange ball around a wooden floor, that’s pretty damn good. Thanks, Kyle. Good luck.

Invisible Boy

Invisible Boy

Any profile of Kel Mitchell that doesn’t mention his excellent performance in the also-excellent Mystery Men is fradulent. FRAUDULENT.

Husslin’

“To hide from sadness—and one way or another, that’s what Americans struggle mightily to do—is to remain a child all your life. Most Americans have never grown up. (Foreigners know this, by the way.)”

from “How America’s ‘Culture of Hustling’ Is Dark and Empty” by David Masciotra for the Atlantic

Related in some ways to the last post. Sobering, but probably just water off the backs of anyone mired in the rat race. I wish I could unplug and take it all to heart sometimes. One haunting quote: “It took me a long time to understand that I, or, my ego, had no idea what was best for me.”

(Note: Kardinal Offishall is exempt from this criticism, seeing as he’s Canadian.)

The Revenge of Alanis

Take, for example, an ad that calls itself an ad, makes fun of its own format, and attempts to lure its target market to laugh at and with it. It pre-emptively acknowledges its own failure to accomplish anything meaningful. No attack can be set against it, as it has already conquered itself. The ironic frame functions as a shield against criticism. The same goes for ironic living. Irony is the most self-defensive mode, as it allows a person to dodge responsibility for his or her choices, aesthetic and otherwise. To live ironically is to hide in public. It is flagrantly indirect, a form of subterfuge, which means etymologically to “secretly flee” (subter + fuge). Somehow, directness has become unbearable to us.

from How to Live Without Irony by Christy Wampole for the New York Times.

I am reminded of a “lesson” taught to startup people here in the Bay Area: fail early and fail fast. Don’t get too attached to your supposed million-dollar idea, lest it break your heart if it likely fails. The implication is perhaps that this is not your life’s work; this is business. It runs counter to what I always thought was a requirement of new businesses: make sure you can devote your heart and soul to this, because it’s not worth all the difficult work otherwise.

But maybe the above article (which is very thought-provoking, and somewhat long) sheds different light on all that. Really loving something — whether it’s a new business, a work of art, a beloved place or a special person — opens us up to disappointment and pain. Some folks can’t bear to let down their guard. In the part of America that reads the New York Times’ online blogs, we’ve gotten really good at minimizing pain and inconvenience. Intentionally putting ourselves out there is terrifying, so why not operate within the cloak that Wampole describes? Young people are terrified of placing actual phone calls, and even food has replaced art as the primary form of cultural cachet. Might as well shroud your feelings inside some other scattered ideas.

Or, be original and believe in something. Fight for it and be sad when it dies. People will notice.

(This post brought to you by my dozens of unfinished and unpublished posts, aged in oaken barrels during this blog’s year of silence.)
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