Grantland

CaptainLaddie

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NatetheGreat said:
 
I like Andy Greenwald and Wesley Morris a lot. I think they're two of the better critics in their respective mediums. Chris Connelly is pretty good on the podcasts.
 
Chris Ryan is...fine. Never says anything that memorable, but he and Greenwald bounce off each other reasonably well.
 
Molly Lambert is awful.
It helps that Ryan and Greenwald have been friends since they were kids, I guess.  Their podcast is pretty entertaining, and I've been a fan of Greenwald's writing for way longer than I'd like to admit.
 

DrewDawg

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That story is INSANE. That girl LAPPED other swimmers. Not just in some opening round where there's someone that can barely finish, but in the finals, where she won by 27 seconds.  Wow. In one year she took 14 seconds off of her world record time.
 

tims4wins

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curly2 said:
A-freakin-men. This is great, except for maybe the P.S.
 
http://grantland.com/the-triangle/pedro-martinez-letter-to-clayton-kershaw/
 
Bumping this from a few weeks ago, but with yet ANOTHER postseason dud from Kershaw, I think we need to reconsider him as one of the best pitchers on the planet.
 
Some #s:
 
WHIP: 1.06 reg season / 1.27 postseason
ERA: 2.48 reg season / 5.20 postseason
W-L: 98-49 reg season / 1-4 postseason
 
Obviously these are very rudimentary numbers but he hasn't been remotely good in the playoffs. Some of that is definitely luck, but to have an ERA more than double is crazy.
 

jmcc5400

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Friend of mine here in Los Angeles bitterly just remarked that it may be time to start calling him Clayton Manning.
 

drleather2001

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And like manning, if he goes
on to have a single good postseason, all will be forgotten.
 

NatetheGreat

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Aug 27, 2007
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I thought the Grantland basketball hour got off to a decent, albeit inconsistent, start. Jeff Van Gundy didn't seem to click that well with Bill and Jalen, which meant that the first segment was weirdly subdued and off. But after that it picked up a lot. Zach Lowe was outstanding and the Rivers interview were really good. The the ending with Michelle Beadle was kinda meh again.
 
So overall I'd give it a B. Somewhat rocky but overall promising start. If they're smart, Zach Lowe will be on this show a lot.
 

Kliq

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I thought it came off really well. JVG was a little more subdued than he is broadcasts, but I thought the discussion points were good. Lowe was amazing, considering that was his first real TV apperance, and Doc was very good as well, which wasn't surprising. Beadle's segment was stupid, but I don't like Beadle anyways and maybe people who enjoy her liked that segment more. I think the show has a lot of potential, Jalen and Bill are dynamite together, and with ESPN and Bill's deep reservoir of available talent, it should be interesting week in and week out.
 

Kliq

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Zach Lowe should probably have his own thread. IMO, he is the best person around consistently writing about basketball. He is also pretty damn funny.
 
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Watching Kings-Nuggets. I&#39;m scared of Boogie just watching through my laptop. He was like a movie monster destroying a city.</p>&mdash; Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) <a href="https://twitter.com/ZachLowe_NBA/status/530399490461949952">November 6, 2014</a></blockquote>
<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
 

John Marzano Olympic Hero

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I haven't ripped Steven Hyden in awhile, but this piece on AC/DC is ridiculously dumb. It's almost as if Chuck Klosterman started writing it and then handed it off to Hyden to finish. 
 
I have no idea what the fuck he's talking about here:
 
Thanks to “Thunderstruck” and “Moneytalks,” this became the most successful AC/DC album since Back in Black. But I have an alternate, completely unsubstantiated theory for explaining why The Razors Edgewas a hit, and it centers on Julia Roberts playing a prostitute in a starmaking romantic comedy six months before the album was released.
 
 
I haven't watched "Pretty Woman" in close to 25 years, but was AC/DC on the soundtrack? I have no clue as to what he's talking about here. 
 
I wish Klosterman wrote this article. I really do. 
 

DrewDawg

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[SIZE=85%]His theory is inane. Because there was a popular movie about a prostitute, this album, which had songs reference paying for sex, became more popular?[/SIZE]
 
[SIZE=85%]Is there a big target audience crossover here?[/SIZE]
 

Smiling Joe Hesketh

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May 20, 2003
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Yeah, that was painful. I got a distinct Simmons "I need to tie everything into popular culture" vibe from that, which if you like AC/DC at all is absurd since they're profoundly anti-current trend.
 
And he was oddly dismissive of Stiff Upper Lip, which kind of gave the band a third jumpstart for the new century since Ballbreaker was indeed just "meh." They got 4 singles to chart from Stiff Upper Lip and all got tons of airplay.
 
He should have spoken more about Rudd's initial departure in 1983 and noted how it directly affected their next two albums (which are both considered the weakest in their catalogue). Simon Wright was a terrible choice for the band because his style was so wrong for their sound. Also, he slagged Chris Slade which I don't agree with at all, Slade was a great drummer.
 

drleather2001

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This passage, about AC/DC's breakthrough album, and one of the greatest selling albums of all time, is so monumentally stupid I just wanted to post it.  I'm not a huge AC/DC fan (I own 3 albums), but I find it hard to believe I like the band less than a guy who claims to own almost all of their albums, and then dismissively talks about "Back in Black" like this.  I mean, it's not even about AC/DC, much less the album itself.  It's just a stupid bit based on an unsubstantiated rumor and (frankly, unbelievable) anecdotes.  It offers nothing about the band.  It's like writing a summary of Neil Young's career and, when the writer got to "Harvest", just saying:  "Did you know James Taylor sings backup on a couple of these songs? I saw James Taylor once.  Old people like him."
 
 
The Pre-’90s Country Album: Back in Black (1980)
A.k.a. the first AC/DC album after Bon Scott died and Brian Johnson took over. A.k.a. the only AC/DC album that moms like. In the semi-decent biography AC/DC: Maximum Rock & Roll, there’s an unsourced aside about how it’s commonplace for Nashville recording engineers to check the acoustics of Music Row studios by blasting Back in Black. I have no idea if that’s true, but this is part of the public record: Lange followedBack in Black by producing a bunch of blockbusters for Def Leppard, and then in the ’90s he hooked up (professionally and personally) with Shania Twain, ushering in country as the new arena rock. Since then, Back in Black has become a totem for every country singer with vaguely “edgy” rock aspirations. (For modern country artists, Angus Young overshadowed Faron Young long ago.) I swear I’ve heard at least one song from Back in Black playing over the PA before every big-time country concert I’ve ever attended. Not once was it “Givin’ the Dog a Bone,” which should never be played publicly anywhere, even in animal shelters.
 
 

John Marzano Olympic Hero

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He's ripping of Klosterman there by doing what he does. When Klosterman writes about something that everyone knows about, he writes about something minute that not many people know about and goes on a larger tangent about something else that connects to his original point.

Obviously it's supposed to make you think differently about the subject you know a lot about. Hyden is not a good enough writer to do this so it usually becomes a complete mess.
 

PBDWake

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Barnwell covering himself in shit when discussing the Ineligible Receiver sets
 
Did Harbaugh have a legitimate gripe? Yes and no. There’s nothing illegal about what the Patriots were doing. Running unbalanced lines, moving blockers around a formation, and confusing a defense is all legal, and given the importance of the moment, this was a great time to unleash something confusing. At the same time, defenses are supposed to have the right to make substitutions if the offense makes a late change, with the umpire standing over the football until the defense has had the opportunity to substitute accordingly.
The loophole in that logic comes from the fact that the Patriots really weren’t making mass subs; they were replacing Kline, an offensive lineman, with a skill position player, Hoomanawanui, and then repositioning their skill position players in ways that were deliberately confusing to the defense. The Patriots weren’t technically doing anything illegal, because the rulebook doesn’t account for a change in receiver eligibility, even if the spirit of the law would seem to suggest that the Ravens should have had more of a chance to identify the Patriots’ formation. I suspect that the league will quietly tell the Patriots to cut that out and make an according change to the rulebook this offseason. I also suspect the Ravens will probably not find that to be a satisfying conclusion.1 I can’t fault the Patriots for employing the tactic, but if you thought it had the faint whiff of some tactic you’d see playing Madden online, I wouldn’t disagree.
 
So, does Harbaugh have a legitimate gripe? Yes and No? Really? He goes on to explain the No. Then he goes on to explain why Harbaugh thought he had a legitimate gripe, but has to explain how he was wrong and there wasn't one. But the answer is still "Yes and No", because... uh... it violates the spirit of the law?
 
Relegated to the footnote is the only actually salient point I think he makes, which is that Harbaugh frequently makes odd substitutions and overloads lines and employs other bizarre defensive formations, but there's not a thought to how the offense should be able to adjust or substitute accordingly. Sour grapes.
 

joe dokes

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Barnwell is writing about John Fox, and throws in successful-coaches-getting-gassed graphic to demonstrate that:

 
"There’s a possibility that, in terms of winning percentage, Fox might be the most successful head coach since the AFL-NFL merger to get fired.I went through the coaching history at Pro-Football-Reference.com and tried to identify coaches who were similar to Fox, guys who were wildly successful in a brief stretch before leaving. Virtually all were coaches who retired or left of their own accord. Among post-merger coaches who spent at least 40 games with their organization, Fox has one of the best win-loss records of all time:"
 
 
His graphic goes by winning percentage, thus Jimmy Johnson, who had a 1-15 and a 7-9 to start his rebuild, but who got turfed after winning consecutive Super Bowls is not on his list. There's no one on Earth that would consider Fox with denver to be more successful than Johnson with Dallas, is there? Or at a minimum, JJ can't be exlcuded from the "list of successful coaches sho got axed."
 

drleather2001

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Even his first sentence sucks. 
 
When we talk about the best Super Bowl halftime shows of the modern era, we tend to dwell on legacy acts that seized the moment to make a grand gesture (U2 in 2002), to exhibit face-melting musical ability (Prince in 2007), or to stage a ridiculous, one-of-a-kind spectacle (Madonna in 2012). 
 
 
He names one of each "type" of legacy act.  He could just have said, "U2, Prince, and Madonna had some of the most talked about shows."  But he tries to draw some conclusion about 'what makes a special performance' based on those acts, when the first two were totally unique performances, which is why we talk about them.
 
Also, why was Madonna's spectacle "ridiculous" and unique?  Wasn't that type of show pretty standard fare (albeit updated) for the 1990s?
 

johnmd20

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drleather2001 said:
Even his first sentence sucks. 
 
 
He names one of each "type" of legacy act.  He could just have said, "U2, Prince, and Madonna had some of the most talked about shows."  But he tries to draw some conclusion about 'what makes a special performance' based on those acts, when the first two were totally unique performances, which is why we talk about them.
 
Also, why was Madonna's spectacle "ridiculous" and unique?  Wasn't that type of show pretty standard fare (albeit updated) for the 1990s?
 
Madonna's performance was terrible, if anything.
 

drleather2001

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Cellar-Door said:
I accidentally started reading this: http://grantland.com/hollywood-prospectus/courtney-barnett-writes-all-the-best-songs/
without realizing it was Steven Hyden.
The first two paragraphs may be the worst two paragraphs ever written about music for public consumption. EVER.
 
He is so caught up in trying to frame himself as a snappy writer and overall cool guy that there's no room in his articles for whomever, or whatever, he's talking about.   
 
EDIT: I mean, he devotes a paragraph to talking about an author he thinks Barnett is influenced by, even though she states in no uncertain terms that she isn't influenced by him.   If you want to talk about Raymond Carver, fucking write an article about Raymond Carver.  Don't just drop his name like a sophomore college student trying to impress girls at the campus coffee shop.
 

John Marzano Olympic Hero

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She’s like a journalist embedded in her own life
 
 
Ugh. I hate writers who think that they're clever. 
 
Hyden has two problems:
 
1. He is not Chuck Klosterman
2. He does not get out of his own way
 
One of these problems can be solved. 
 

Hagios

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Dec 15, 2007
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A good article on Grantland the other day on the value of WAR to compare dissimilar players.
 
 
Although WAR reveals that Pierre and Dunn were equally valuable to their teams, their teams weren’t equally generous to them. From a financial perspective, it was far better to be Dunn, who retired with $112.7 million in career earnings, almost twice Pierre’s $57.1 million take. When economist Matt Swartz studied spending on free agents in the Hardball Times Annual 2013, he found that defense, baserunning, and contact were all undervalued skills, and that walks weren’t, which helps explains the disparity. More’s the pity for Pierre. On the other hand, WAR reveals that Dunn and Pierre were both lucky to be as well known as they were; given that an average player amasses roughly two WAR in a single full season, Dunn’s and Pierre’s career totals aren’t particularly impressive. As Bill James once wrote, “Specialists and players who do two or three things well are overrated; players who do several things well are underrated.” Dunn’s power and walk rate and Pierre’s contact skills and speed made them more visible than the more well-rounded (but less eye-catching) recent retiree Mark Ellis, who produced far more WAR in far less playing time.
 
 

JimBoSox9

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John Marzano Olympic Hero said:
 
Ugh. I hate writers who think that they're clever. 
 
Hyden has two problems:
 
1. He is not Chuck Klosterman
2. He does not get out of his own way
 
One of these problems can be solved. 
 
What drives me right around the bend is, for the music n00bs like me, Grantland should be the perfect platform to get some music from.  A lot of his topics, written with the stock Grantland approach or with almost any other Grantland writer, would be must-clicks.  Now it's at the point where the headlines just make me mad because I know it won't be worth my time.
 

jmcc5400

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Steven Hyden is a staff writer at Grantland.  He is currently writing a book on pop-music rivalries. 
 
Oh boy.  Please, Steve, another 100,000 words on Blur versus Oasis.  Please remind me of who held the championship belt when and tell me if Liam or Noel was the alpha dog or if they took turns seizing the conch from each other.
 

Spacemans Bong

chapeau rose
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I like Courtney Barnett so I was nervous reading this article, because Hyden sucks so bad. He didn't disappoint.
 
He's so pretentious and I don't think her really gets her music. I find her much more sardonic and, yes, slackerish than anything else. Sad eyed? Not really.
 

IdiotKicker

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It's funny, because Rem was actually the first person I met at Dartmouth. And if there was one person who you would have bet you wanted to be reading after graduation, it was Rem. Good guy all-around, and generally one of the more interesting people I've ever met. Very happy to see him doing this well for himself.
 

Blacken

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Skeesix said:
I would note that Charles Pierce has been on fire of late.
Of late, as always...I'll forgive the typo.


That Rembert piece is, as usual, excellent. His podcast is pretty great, too.
 

drleather2001

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Ugh.
 
A good “bad” album is a record that falls short aesthetically (the songs are subpar, the production is ineffectual, and the overall product is uninspired) but is nonetheless entertaining and even enlightening as a portrait of an artist working through a crisis...
 
"Initially, I devised the good “bad” albums theory in reference to the Rolling Stones. (1976’s Black and Blue is my favorite good “bad” album ever.)"
 
 
He immediately broadens his definition to include albums that are simply "Not the best stuff the band did."    Black and Blue is not and has never been considered a bad Rolling Stones album by anybody who knows dick about music.   (semi-random selection of reviews).    
 
I just...
 
The whole article does what he always does:  starts with a conclusion and cherry picks stuff to support it so, whatdyaknow!  He already knew everything he needed to to complete the column. Don't want to talk about Dylan's best 80s album ("Oh Mercy")?  Fuck it, don't bother!  
 
And this:
 
Here’s the thing about “Kokomo”: You can’t defend it, but you can’t hate it, either. Hating “Kokomo” is like hating Hawaiian Shirt Day at the senior’s center. It’s good, clean fun designed to distract the populace from impending death
 
 
Fuck you.   The reason why "Kokomo" sucks is that it is Mike Love deliberately boiling down every bad cliche about the music of the Beach Boys into one song, and doing so purely for profit.  It's shit.  I can absolutely hate it because it represents the triumph of an evil fucking guy (Love), and commerce, over a genuine artist (Wilson) and art.  It's vile.  It's reprehensible.  I can't believe a self-professed music writer would ever defend "Kokomo."  
 
But, the larger problem is, yet again:  Hyden can't take anything seriously.  He poses the premise of the column as semi-serious ("Hey, which major artist's post-peak, blah, period is really the best. Let's look into this.") and immediately scraps it in favor of cracking jokes about the artist's biggest experiments.  Is it good to "win" the bracket, or is it a mark of shame?  I sincerely can't follow.   He stops doing any kind of analysis and just makes fun of the bands/artists in question.  "Oh, look, Billy Joel makes funny faces...SO HE WINS!"  
 
Hyden is so fucking awful.  I don't even think he knows what he's writing half the time.
 

jmcc5400

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But, Doc, he used BRACKETS. 
 
Maybe we need a "Why Do I Bother Reading Steve Hyden" thread. 
 
Cellar-Door said:
 
It was pretty well written, what's the issue?
I have to respectfully disagree. To me, the first five words justified Kliq’s reaction:
 
Merkins have a murky history.
 
That’s right, a pun. His first sentence and entire first paragraph is a pun. This is the literary equivalent of a bowel movement and he proudly wants you to smell it. There are two sure-fire ways to start off a speech or an article poorly, and a pun is one of them.
 
The Oxford Companion to the Body points to 1450 as the year “malkin” — from which the name for a pubic hair wig derives — first appeared.
 
And a dictionary reference is the other. This is the double rainbow of sophomoric writing!
 
Our present era of light triangles, translucent landing strips, and full montys shouts that the species doesn’t hold its pubes in nearly as dear regard as when the queen of Egypt was believed to have lorded her hirsute bounty over the masses — or even, for that matter, as it did through the ’70s. In 21st century cinema, aesthetic trends and Motion Picture Association of America standards have made the merkin a staple in the R-rated realm.
 
At first glance, this is very well written. The writer incorporated some interesting adjectives and complex sentence structures.  But what is a “light triangle,” and would you consider pubic hair shaped like a landing strip to be translucent? Thinned pubes might be considered translucent (though even that is a stretch), but a landing strip is one part hair and two parts no hair. An opaque window next to two transparent windows does not make a single translucent window.
 
I also question his apparent conclusion that because more people shave the pubic hair, the merkin has become a necessity in R-rated films. He has presented no evidence to support this leap.
 
Attempting to confirm a cinematic merkin has to rank among the most delicate tasks of reportage: One thinks they know fakery upon seeing one, when perhaps they’ve merely glimpsed a hippie. Cineasts think they glimpsed phony curlies when Mary-Louise Parker disrobed in Angels in America or when Suzanna Hamilton did the same in Nineteen Eighty-Four, but only their hairdressers know.
 
So, we don’t even know when merkins are used in film. This does not really support his conclusion that merkins have become a staple.
 
We’re hip to the Elton John–esque realness of Kate Winslet…
 
Someone needs to explain to me what he means by this. Is it because Elton John wears costumes on stage? If so, it's odd phrasing, as it's akin to saying something is as dark as the sun. Plus, I didn't know that she wore merkins, but that could simply reinforce that I'm not hip.
 
Anyway, my Robert Duvall-esque eyes are probably missing something obvious.
 
But as Rooney Mara pointed out when discussing The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, it can also preserve a veneer of privacy. As Emmy-winning makeup artist Nicki Ledermann said, “For some actors, a merkin is a safety blanket.”
 
The merkin as a safety blanket--this seems like an interesting topic to explore. Does it make the actor feel more secure on set? Does the carpet not match the pubes? Does it make an actor feel less embarrassed to know that an audience has merely seen a merkin, even though the audience members are left with the perception they saw the actor naked?
 
Spoiler: It sort of resurfaced later, but the writer chose not to delve into this with any depth.
 
These tiny faux-fros…
 
Another pun, but this one I didn't mind so much.
 
“There was a makeup artist who needed to put a beard on a man and she didn’t have the hair,” recalls Natascha Hahn Ladek, an Austrian wig designer whose 24 years in Hollywood includes work on Thor and The Dark Knight Rises. “So she went to the bathroom, shaved his pubic hair, and put it on the man’s face. He said it was the best beard he’s ever, ever had. That’s the reverse merkin.”
 
I’m struggling to continue reading. There are lots words, unnecessarily details, and mildly amusing anecdotes like this, but there is no point. There is no insight provided. There are lots of adjectives and quotes, but nothing to tie it all together. Why is he writing about merkins? WHY?
 
Even among the craftspeople themselves, there’s some debate over what a good merkin should look like.
 
All right, a debate!
 
“If it’s unrealistically bushy, you say, ‘Oh, that’s not the real thing,’” Ladek said.
 
Side A: Not too bushy.
 
Ledermann, who has overseen more than one merkin for HBO, sees it differently: “There’s so much variety on pubes, and who’s to judge what looks fake or not, unless you’ve seen a lot.”
 
Side B: Anything goes, except for those who have seen many of them. Fascinating debate.
 
At this point, it’s become apparent that the writer did a lot of research about merkins. That is commendable. He wants to shoehorn-in every quote, fact, and story that he uncovered, though, with no cohesive approach to the topic.
 
Viewing genitalia, while endlessly interesting in intimacy, is generally a less-is-more thrill in the performing arts.
 
Really? People seem to enjoy looking at actor’s privates.
 
Take burlesque, a setting in which a variety of decorative merkins still finds a home.
 
Is this still a thing?
 
“My only advice for easy removal to anyone who is to wear a merkin is to shave everything. Do not glue over hair! Ouch!”

 
Insightful. So, one might ask if shaved pubes brought on merkins or if merkins (for privacy or other concerns) brought about shaved pubes. The writer didn't, but someone might ask that.
 
And you know, I feel that “Neighbors” reference should have been inserted here.
 
The Egyptians truly did invent Western civilization.
 
There was nothing in the column to support this statement. This a stunning non-sequitor. That’s the problem when you don’t have a point, there is no easy way to close out your thoughts.
 
I’ll be happy to donate a $100 to the Jimmy Fund if someone can explain how the column supported that conclusion.
 

Tartan

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The ending is no a non-sequitur; it's a reference to earlier in the article when it mentioned that the Egyptians pioneered the art of completely shaving one's pubes, It ties in nicely to the ending quote about shaving one's pubes completely to wear a merkin. Not the most elegant ending, but as articles about pube wigs go it'll do the job.
 
Christ, I didn't expect to be writing these words tonight.
 
M

MentalDisabldLst

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NWSF: awesome FJM-style breakdown. The shit columns are worthwhile just to be able to read a good, sarcastic repartee.
 
Tartan said:
The ending is no a non-sequitur; it's a reference to earlier in the article when it mentioned that the Egyptians pioneered the art of completely shaving one's pubes, It ties in nicely to the ending quote about shaving one's pubes completely to wear a merkin. Not the most elegant ending, but as articles about pube wigs go it'll do the job.
 
Christ, I didn't expect to be writing these words tonight.
Right, but the conclusion put forward an argument that was not supported--at all--by the content of the column. An analogy:
  • Someone in China discovered gunpowder. He created fireworks.
  • People enjoy watching fireworks.
  • There are lots of types of fireworks.
  • People still light fireworks.
  • The Chinese truly did invent Eastern civilization.
A reasonable reaction would be, "huh?"
 
I appreciate your comment, though, of course I'll make a donation to the Jimmy Fund. I did not expect to be writing about merkins, either.