Brian July 30th, 2014 at 1:06 PM

I used to fisk things, back in the long long ago when people referred to the "MSM" seriously and I had a tiny platform compared to the people writing dumb things that annoyed me. These days most of those people are in other jobs and I gradually got over the fact that Someone Is Wrong On The Internet.

If that paragraph sounds like one big run up to me fisking the everloving pants off of something, yuuuuup. It's a teenager rage tactic from the dawn of mom's basement jokes. And it is absolutely required for this.


I got so mad at Matt Hayes writing things on the internet once that I called him "Horseface," which I was not proud of for a long time. I retroactively retract that shame. To the fiskmobile.

They’ve tried it all, and nothing has worked. Conditioning, suspension, rehabilitation. Even outright dismissal.

The prison system of America: overcrowded, broken, scourge of the inner city. This is an unusual topic for Matt Hayes.

Yet here we are, heading into a new era of college football with a brand new postseason, and the same old problems exist: players can’t seem to control themselves behaviorally off the field — no matter the consequences.

Oh goddammit. I have no idea what Matt Hayes's audience is these days since the Sporting News has died so many times cats are impressed but it must consist heavily of people who buy gold from Glenn Beck at 5 AM and think we should deport the Irish.

There is no college football crime spree. When SI did a study a few years ago they came back with the disturbing news that 7% of all college football players had been charged with a crime. That's terrible! Unless you look up the stats that say half of all black males and 40% of white males are arrested by 23. And that's just being charged, not convicted.

It turns out that professional aspirations and the threat of running stadium steps are in fact a great motivator to stay out of trouble.

“Because,” one Power 5 coach told Sporting News, “we can’t reach them where it matters most.”

Their penis.

That place, everyone, is the NFL.

I still think it's… let's come back to this.

If this were a relationship, it would have been dissolved long ago. College football gives everything to the NFL in every way, shape and form. The NFL gives nothing in return.

Now it’s time for the NFL, which for decades has thrived with the backdrop of a free minor league system that recruits, trains, teaches and ministers to young men before they step foot into the multi-billion dollar business, to give back.

Free minor league? What the…? I mean, yeah, the NCAA does act as a talent feeder, but the NFL only came into existence because the NCAA made football so popular that people tried and failed to make it into a nationwide pro sport for decades after Yost built a stadium that seated 100k. The NCAA is absolutely overrun with cash. The NFL doesn't owe it anything because it is impossible to owe a machine that prints money something. College football exists because it is profitable to exist, and not because of the NFL.

That means giving back the only way they can: controlling the flow of future money.

Shit is about to get real. This is the last semi-sane sentence here.

You want college football cleaned up?

No. We are currently making fun of how Mark Richt has lost control of everything because his players continually get in moped incidents.

Your article about the RASH OF ARRESTS SPIRALLING OUT OF CONTROL includes two marijuana possession charges, a DUI, an "obstructing governmental operations" misdemeanor, five guys who were immediately booted from their teams, and then four incidents spread across 120 teams that are serious-ish and still pending resolution. One of those is, yes, a moped joyride. I'm surprised Jameis Winston's crab legs aren't on there.

You want players who get second, third and fourth chances to finally see the game really is about both football and an education and learning about living and surviving and growing on your own?

I would like to see a system in which 75% fewer arrests transpire! But we already have…

You want this seemingly endless string of player arrests and violence against women to end?






Hit the players where it matters most:

Their penis.

future earnings.

That was my second choice.

The NFL can make this very simple and succinct. Any college player interested in employment in the league must pass a background check, and if they have a history of arrests or off-field issues, they immediately are moved into a — here’s the key — significantly lower earning bracket for the first four years of their employment.

How significant? Well below league minimum, or about $50,000-$75,000 a year.

Take a guess what the average league lifespan is for a player: four years.

The NFL can make it very simple if they negotiate an entirely new CBA that strips people with a history of "off-field issues"—like not even arrests—of potentially millions of dollars even if they're the top pick in the draft. Where is the line here? Does a pot arrest trigger it? How about a theft that got diverted into something that doesn't pop up on your criminal record?

And while this isn't relevant to the thrust of the article, let me state that saying "here's the key" when your platform is one plank long makes me want to flush your computer down a toilet, horseface. To have a "key" you have to have things that are more or less important, and it is impossible for a thing to be more or less important than itself. Obviously. Horseface.

“You have to understand, it’s more than just suspending a player and saying you’re going to miss X number of games for what you did,” said Alabama coach Nick Saban. “You have to change the behavior; you have to change the way the player thinks and acts.”

What better way than by taking away his ability to earn?

Yeah man why not just steal millions of dollars away from poor people who screwed up once because the Olds are scared of 'em.

I mean obviously the criminal justice system that looked at whatever these violations are and said "eh, do your time" is completely incapable of preventing this country from descending into a lawless morass. Let's take over from them. That is outside the justice system's core competency and right in ours.

This drastic yet necessary turn takes the onus off schools and the presidents of those schools to police behavior, the same people who have proven over and over that they have too much invested in players to make decisions that could impact those investments.

"Necessary." Because college football players get arrested one fourth as often as the average Joe.

“No one wants to look at this for what it is,” said another Power 5 conference coach. “It’s a vicious cycle.”

A vicious cycle is a feedback loop. The theory here is apparently that football players getting arrested and catching hell or getting booted by their coaches makes other football players more likely to commit crimes. I can only imagine this quote comes from Tim Beckmann, who tells his toaster every morning not to viciously cycle his bread, and then finds out he's talking to the washing machine again.

The first logical hurdle would be the NFL Players Association, which would be against anything that limits earning ability. But in the long run, it benefits both the NFL and the NFLPA to have players who understand right from wrong; who comprehend that every decision has consequences.

I mean Ray Lewis kind of murdered a dude. You know that, right? A guy ended up dead largely because of Ray Lewis, and the NFL fined him a quarter-million dollars and said "don't do it again." Nobody noticed or cared. If you want the NFL to fix college kids it is possible they should start with themselves.

You don’t punch someone in the head, and a year later, get picked in the second round of the draft and make significant money.

You don’t slap a woman, and a year later, get picked in the second round of the draft and make significant money.

It’s not like we’re breaking ground with this idea. Players will find in the real world, where you don’t get paid to play a game, employers don’t look too favorably on those with criminal records. And if they do, it certainly isn’t for much more than an entry-level job with minimum pay — until the employee proves to be worthy of more.

Even aside from guys named Ray who play for Baltimore, have you ever read any of the copious anonymous crap your own damn magazine publishes about players every time the draft rolls around? The NFL's official site said Johnny Manziel had an "outlaw mentality"! The NFL is constantly probing every potential mental gap and making tut-tutting judgments about every player. Those last until the instant that player proves he's pretty good in the NFL, and then you can knock your damn wife unconscious and you get a lesser suspension than Terrelle Pryor got for getting some free tattoos.

This is the way the world works. The sooner players understand and grasp this concept, the better for all involved.

The way the world works: pretend it never happened and refuse to apologize until people forget about it. This is my advice to you about this column.


Necessary But Not Sufficient

Necessary But Not Sufficient Comment Count

Brian October 7th, 2013 at 12:18 PM

10/5/2013 – Michigan 42, Minnesota 13 – 5-0, 1-0 Big Ten


Eric Upchurch

Jon Falk has a compatriot at Minnesota. He's probably had a dozen over his 40 years as Michigan's equipment manager. Some guy who comes in with the latest Gopher coaching staff, wonders what it's like to hold the jug in his meaty palm, and maybe once gets to shepherd it for a year. Since Falk arrived at Michigan a fresh-faced young thing four years into Bo's career, his opposite number has had this experience three times.

In proof lingo, this means that beating Minnesota—beating up on Minnesota, usually—is a necessary but not sufficient property of Michigan teams that want to do anything with their seasons. Sometimes you can retain the Jug despite not being very good; sometimes you can retain the jug despite being headed for 3-9 because Nick Sheridan has an out-of-body experience. When you're headed for 3-9 you get a little misty about the Jug coming out. When you're not the worst team in Ann Arbor since the 1930s it's a checkbox to fill out.

Michigan did so in perfunctory style, grinding out a second half in which they went from vaguely threatened to bored. Since this came on the heels of narrow escapes against teams that lost 43-3 to Ohio on Saturday and 41-12 to Buffalo last week, it's progress. How much is unknown.


This game settled into a grim fugue state almost from the drop, as Michigan manballed its way into the endzone on a Statement Drive to start the game. Unfortunately, that Statement was "by putting Taylor Lewan next to Michael Schofield we can bull our way down the field against Minnesota." That statement is unlikely to apply to many teams on the schedule. But, hey, progress.

Then Minnesota donned turbans and embarked on the Ishtar Drive. An epic production galaxy-spanning in its dullness that arrived at its destination two hours too late and failed to have the desired impact, it ate up the rest of the quarter. Michigan left it without having attempted a pass.

This was a little dull.

It was the kind of dull that had Space Coyote, the Michigan's blogosphere's resident instant analysis savant, pleading with the masses that the intricacies of a well-blocked power play were just as appealing as, say, watching 175-pound Venric Mark activate his truck stick on an Ohio State safety. I can't imagine there's another Michigan fan in the world more receptive to that argument than yours truly and even I wasn't buying that as the secondary effect of all that manball kicked in: punt, commercial, play, end of quarter, commercial, play play, punt, commercial. Touchdown, commercial, kickoff, commercial—the NFL special. As the teams' attempt to blow through this game in record time was thwarted by the networks, being in Michigan Stadium became the worst concert of all time interrupted by bouts of football-related activity.

It was the kind of thing that made you consider what the purpose of your fandom was. Am I only here to see Michigan end a game with a larger number on the scoreboard than Opponent? Is there any valid goal outside of this? Am I a bad fan for wishing something interesting would happen? Do the people on twitter who scorn you for having feelings other than Go Team have a point? What is the point of any of this, and why can't they make the wifi work?

At halftime, the guys in front of me discussed whether they would bolt for Frazer's, and two did. I'm usually a guy who thinks leaving an athletic event before it's decided is a mortal sin, but I kind of envied the guy in the home-made muscle shirt screwing off to a place where he could get a beer and not hear "Build Me Up, Buttercup." At any other time, I would have thought this man's attendance at Michigan Stadium was a necessary property of a fan that he had just shown was not sufficient by leaving a touchdown game at halftime like he was a sorority girl about to blow a .341. On Saturday, I was with him in spirit.

This is a fearful development. I don't want to think like that. I want to be forever ten years old, excited by everything. On Saturday I had a long look down the elevator shaft.


It'll pass like the moment above did. Someone will do something interesting, and there will be something at stake other than a piece of crockery that just means you're not horrible, and sometimes not even that. I had a bad day, I was pissed at Dave Brandon when I discovered I was thirsty but knew I couldn't do anything about it without missing a large chunk of the game I was there to see even if it was narcoleptic, I was emo after the last few weeks of expectation-depressing terror. It'll pass, and the doors will close on the moment where I reached out and felt the slight outlines of a limit to my fandom.



Michigan won by a lot, eventually.


Completely one-sided highlights:


brady-hoke-epic-double-point_thumb_3[1]Brady Hoke Epic Double Point Of The Week. Has to be Michigan's new favorite worst nightmare at wide receiver: Devin Funchess. Relieved of many blocking duties and deployed on the outside, Funchess displayed fantastic hands on a couple of catches outside of his body, ran routes that got him tons of separation, and went right by a Minnesota cornerback(!) on a straight-up fly route(!) to prove himself Michigan's best deep threat(?). By the end of the game he had newspaper types plumbing the statistical depths for completely invalid comparisons to Jim Mandich, who was a tight end, which Devin Funchess is not.

Honorable mention: No Turnovers, which may be Devin Gardner's temporary name until such point as he turns it over. Schofield and Lewan were mashing as tackle brothers. Blake Countess did have a pick six, albeit one of no importance. James Ross and Desmond Morgan had lots of tackles, usually at the LOS when not facing spread formations.

Epic Double Point Standings.

1.0: Devin Gardner (ND), Jeremy Gallon (ND), Desmond Morgan(UConn), Devin Funchess(Minnesota)
0.5: Cam Gordon (CMU), Brennen Beyer (CMU)


I guess? [Upchurch]

Brady Hoke Epic Double Fist-Pump Of The Week. Wow. Are we at a loss here? We might be at a loss here. Countess's interception was after the game was decided, as was the long Funchess fly route thing. Michigan's longest run went for not many yards. I guess we're going with Fitzgerald Toussaint scoring an easy ten-yard touchdown, as it hinted that Michigan may be able to run the ball forward? Yeah, okay.

Honorable mention: Funchess reception, pick one. Countess pick. Black FF.

Epic Double Fist-Pumps Past.

8/31/2013: Dymonte Thomas introduces himself by blocking a punt.
9/7/2013: Jeremy Gallon spins through four Notre Dame defenders for a 61-yard touchdown.
9/14/2013: Michigan does not lose to Akron. Thanks, Thomas Gordon.
9/21/2013: Desmond Morgan's leaping one-handed spear INT saves Michigan's bacon against UConn.
10/5/2013: Fitzgerald Toussaint runs for ten yards, gets touchdown rather easily.

[After THE JUMP: actual game analysis instead of pathetic emo self-pity mooning!]


Sports in the Time of Esther McCleery

Sports in the Time of Esther McCleery Comment Count

Seth August 2nd, 2013 at 10:45 AM


Dear Diary was going to be in this spot this morning, but the site was 504-ing and I couldn't get at all my precious tabs. So instead you get Esther McCleery.

My good friend Nate is certainly the most interesting person I've ever met. He's one of those diamonds from the middle of nowhere that the University of Michigan goes out of its way to collect, the nowhere in this case being Eastern Kentucky and the middle being a small town called Grayson. I'll save you his list of accomplishments because he'll be famous enough one day for all of them to end up in a book.

In a town like Grayson hoarding is one of the things that register on a list of pastimes. While sorting through one trove Nate found a stack of old copies of Life magazine and brought them with him to our college reunion last weekend. Inside he found and framed enough ads for bourbon to keep Kentucky bars well-tchotchke'd for a decade.

This he was doing at the breakfast table on Saturday morning while another friend and I were trying to justify to our wives why we're blowing what could have been a Europe trip on a few upcoming Saturdays.

That's when Nate serendipitously discovered an article on Homecoming in the November 1959 issue. Hey it's our band:


That's the only photo in the article that's pointed at the field. Life's photographer instead spent the 4th quarter with his camera turned toward Class of '34 alumna Esther McCleery. I'll reproduce that for you now:


HOMECOMING SPIRIT at game is shown in the mobile face of Mrs. Esther McCleery, class of '34 at Michigan. Above Mrs. McCleery screams, "Go, Team, Go, this is it!" as Michigan, behind 16-10 in final quarter, intercepts pass deep in Wisconsin territory. "All right, Blue," Mrs. McCleery bellows. "This is it, we've got 'em now."

But a moment later Michigan fumbles and Mrs. McCleery's face falls (below)


In the final minutes of the game, she dejectedly watches Wisconsin wrap it up with a field goal. "We've had it but good," she mutters.


But she brightened. "Next year we'll get 'em," she says.

Everyone ought to see Notre Dame du Paris (NOTE-rruh Dahm) one time in their life just to appreciate the feats of art and engineering that mankind can accomplish when we feel like it. To understand why we'd ever build such things, first you ought to experience something like Notre Dame at Michigan, since there are few other things in the world—other than gaining or losing another human being—that can make you truly appreciate the depths of emotions that make being a human animal quite worthwhile.1375122306_163422_HTTV_Sports

29 days, Esther.



Failure Comment Count

Brian March 25th, 2013 at 4:31 PM

3/23/2013 – Michigan 6, Miami 2 – 18-18-3, reach CCHA final
3/24/2013 – Michigan 1, Notre Dame 3 – 18-19-3, season over, tourney streak over


In the end they were nowhere near good enough.

If you've followed Michigan hockey for a long period of time, you can point to a tourney game here or there Sunday's CCHA final against the Irish reminded you of. Smash together:

  • that Maine game where a moment of brilliance from Mike Comrie couldn't cover up his short-handed defense's failing legs with…
  • that Boston College game Michigan inexplicably led for most of that was over the moment the Eagles tied it after a nine-minute stretch without stoppages and…
  • that North Dakota game when Michigan couldn't get out of its own zone but scratched out a shorthanded goal and made it stand up and…

…you get that Notre Dame game.

You know the general outline even if you have no idea what I'm talking about above. If it was soccer the announcers would instantly announce your goal as "against the run of play."  Overwhelmed in the corners, fortunate to be in the game, goalie's arm hanging out over the abyss as he screams "DON'T. LET. GO." Fingers sweating, grip slipping, eyes widening, waiting for the buzzer or death.

I don't know about you but as soon as Notre Dame tied it, I was waiting for the end. Michigan had hardly put together a scoring chance. Notre Dame did them a favor by scoring early in the third and dialing back the throttle. At that point shots were 31-10, scoring chances at least that lopsided. By sitting back Notre Dame allowed Michigan to get a better handle on the game, but with 19:30 left I thought "Michigan will have two chances to tie it" and that was all they got.

Notre Dame ate Michigan's lunch. They took one penalty and gave up no odd-man rushes save the shorthanded goal. They won battles in the corner at a 3 to 1 rate. Michigan couldn't put together a rush for ten-minute blocks of time. Over the previous month they'd put something together and run roughshod over all comers, but finally they met a horse they couldn't catch up to. All that stuff Michigan did over their last ten games Notre Dame had been doing all year.

That's how a 21-year tourney streak ends: with Notre Dame showing men of will what will really is.


In the aftermath the word of the day is "redeem."

By the bitter end, Michigan hockey redeemed itself

Or "proud"

NCAA streak ends, but Wolverines made Michigan proud


Michigan put themselves in this position with 2/3rds of a season of miserable, unwatchable hockey, and did not dig themselves out. Without the vagaries of single-game playoff hockey they would not have even come close in the end. They were 0-5 against the Irish this year, bombed in every game. Michigan was about as far away from winning that Notre Dame game as they were from getting an at large bid. They had a chance, and found out that running to catch up with someone who had been trying hard from day one isn't easy.

They got what they deserved. A team with as many NHL draft picks as anyone in the country was reduced to a "Cinderella run" in the CCHA playoffs. Divided, they lost game after game to sheer apathy. It got so bad Red tried the put-in-the-third-string-walk-on trick again. Hunwick's first team responded by flying through the slot to clear pucks like demons. This edition lost 4-0 to Michigan Tech and 5-1 to Bowling Green, the nadir. That listless debacle against Bowling Green is this season. What they did at the end was a preview of next year.

It's great that Andrew Copp emerged to take the team by the scruff of its neck and jam it towards an NCAA bid whether it wanted one or not, great that Steve Racine emerged into a viable starter once his defense ceased selling him out a dozen times a game, great that Guptill went from a wake-up scratch to pounding, skating power forward. The fact that this could happen is a ringing condemnation of the upperclassmen. By midseason the guys flanking Treais on the top line were Copp and Sinelli; by the end of the season Copp, a freshman no one had heard of before the year, was the undisputed leader of the forward corps. Because he tried real hard, full stop. This made him unique.

His leadership and the rest of the locker room pulling together is reason for hope. Lessons have clearly been learned, and if this year doesn't show the players the route to success goes through Jeff Jackson's relentless discipline, I'll be surprised.

But it doesn't redeem a damn thing. The preseason #2 team in the country finished under .500 and missed the tournament for the first time in 22 years. There is only one word for that: failure. The scarlet F is branded in this team. The only way up is to own that. Some of them have time to redeem themselves yet; that process starts now.

Next Year

Michigan loses Moffie, Treais, Sparks, Rohrkemper, and Lynch the Elder to graduation. The early word on departures from Mike Spath at the Wolverine is as such:

  • OUT: Kevin Clare, revealed to be indefinitely suspended as much as he was injured and implicated as a Problem, and—sigh—star-crossed Jon Merrill.
  • FENCE: Trouba is declared 60-40 to return—an opinion more or less shared by Dave Starman. At least we will know quickly—he's expected to make a decision in a couple days.
  • BACK (EXCEPT ONE OF THESE GUYS WILL NOT BE BACK BECAUSE THIS IS MICHIGAN HOCKEY):  The three forwards likely to have NHL options are Guptill, Di Giuseppe, and Nieves. Spath projects all to be back, though Guptill "clashed" with the coaches earlier in the year—he was left at home for one series, IIRC. Mac Bennett is projected to return and wear the C.

Just looking at playing time, a couple other guys may also head for greener pastures. There's Rutledge, of course, who turned in an .856 and watched Racine establish a death grip on the job over the last ten games of the season. If he wants to play, a return to the USHL and transfer to a smaller school is probably the only way. Then there's Mike Chiasson, who was an apparently-healthy scratch for the ten-game run. Mike Szuma played in his stead; against Notre Dame Michigan refused to ice a sixth defenseman entirely. I don't think any of the recruits are threats to not show but never say never, mmm, Connor Carrick?

If Michigan does get Trouba back and somehow evades the inevitable unexpected departure, here's a hypothetical line chart:


  1. Guptill-Copp-Compher
  2. Di Giuseppe-Nieves-DeBlois
  3. Motte-Lynch-Moffatt
  4. Selman-Hyman-Allen

(Also: Kile, Sinelli, Cianfrone, Random New Walk-on who might be Max Shuart.)


  1. Trouba-Downing
  2. Bennett-De Jong
  3. Serville-Chiasson

(Also: Szuma and probably Kevin Lohan, possibly Spencer Hyman.)

Michigan can sustain a forward departure without much dropoff. The guys I've projected as scratches are all capable of emerging into quality players. Sinelli gave Michigan good minutes late this year. Kile is a year older than the NTDP guys and has better than PPG with one of the USHL's best teams. While Cianfrone has struggled in the USHL, before that he was a midget minor demon and projected first-round OHL draft pick who still went in the third round despite telling teams he was headed to Michigan. Drawing one of those guys into the lineup will be fine. Only Shuart (who left his USHL club for the NAHL) looks particularly unlikely to be a contributor next year.

On defense, they need Trouba back badly. That third pairing is pretty sketch as it is, featuring one of two guys Michigan simply refused to ice against ND plus Serville, who still gives me hives quite a bit. The top two pairings feature two freshmen. There's not nearly as much confidence that any of the backup plans will come through. Lohan is a 6'5" late bloomer; Hyman is a guy who's piled up a lot of time in junior and seems like a third pairing type. If Trouba's gone Michigan is down to one solid pair and hope.

Copp will get an A, for sure, and then DeBlois seems like the most likely other captain. That lineup has no seniors save projected C Bennett and Luke Moffatt, who has never seemed like captain material. Juniors include Lynch, Hyman, Chiasson, and Serville. I could see Hyman getting a call, but DeBlois was on the top line while he toiled on the fourth.


Dear Diary Might Be an MGoBlogger If…

Dear Diary Might Be an MGoBlogger If… Comment Count

Seth April 6th, 2012 at 8:27 AM

From the Z to the O to the double-R O, he's the dude in the mask from Chem-Orgo. I love the mariachi band, and that the professor turned the "Z" slashes into a carbon chain, and that people are having a heated discussion regarding the professor's added hydroxyl group between the typical amoebic Youtube commenters.

It was a light week, by which I mean the board was mostly obsessed with Burke and the diaries, well, there's only one real "diary." It's about the Director's Cup and where Michigan stands right now, c/o WolverineBlue. Etc. The Blockhams, and Not Michigan Replay video—if you haven't before, now's your chance to learn the words (there's words!) to the Michigan Replay/MGoPodcast song. Let's move on to…

Best of the Board


Boom: Jeff Foxworthy'd! The "You might be a _______" meme finally found its way to the board. A collection of some of the more pos-banged follows. You might be an MGoBlogger if

  • …your loved ones will only let you watch Michigan sporting events in public if you promise not to correct all the stupid people this time. (funandgun, paraphrased)
  • …you've both wanted to punch Magnus, and greatly appreciated the insight he's provided... at the same time (Nick Sparks)
  • …you are as star struck when you see Lloyd Brady or Mitch McGary Picture Guy as if you were to see someone like Charlie Sheen etc. (Raback Obama)
  • …you yell "Tacopants!" when a pass sails over a receiver's head (Nick Sparks)
  • …you respond to this post so that someday you can get to 100 points and be able to start your own thread. (Michigan Moonman)
  • …you scream out "MUPPETS!" in real life when minor things go your way, like finding bacon half price (maizedandconfused)
  • …you know who Ohio is, and who OHIO is, and what (NTM) means (ST3)
  • …you can find the F5 key in the dark in under 5 seconds (Lionsfan). Replies:
    "lol, you guys measure it in seconds. That's cute." –BlockM
    "You still have an F5 key? That's cute." –Michigan_Mike
  • …a cute girl at a bar says "Hello" and you wonder who's going to commit at the Spring scrimmage.
  • …if you have MGOBLOG set as a bookmark, click it, scan the page for updates, then decide to continue surfing the web and without even realizing it, click the MGOBLOG bookmark again instead of going to another site, and then scan the page for a second time in under 30 seconds (Chobee215)
  • …you could care less that you're a pre-madonna, a moran, or a looser for all intensive purposes. (OMG Shirtless, who is going to die for putting me through that again just now).
  • ...before posting, you ask yourself, is this safe for Mrs StephenRKass? (ST3)




Fact: 90% of Youtube comments are written by people from Alabama. Fact: the longer RollDamnTide hangs out around here the worse you feel about all of those great Alabama jokes. RDT wins Diarist of the Week without writing a diary because his work on the board did more for how people perceive people from Alabama than anything since Lynyrd Skynyrd (I'm including Forrest Gump.) Post the first is a rundown of how Bama boards view Michigan. That they think Pipkins is going to be a factor 4 weeks after arriving on campus shows they're probably even more 5-starry eyed as a fanbase than we are.* Post the second is about academics in the SEC after Morris Claiborne apparently scored between single-celled organism and Youtube commenter. Question: does the Wonderlic ask questions about organic chemistry and/or 18th century Alta California, or, like, other stuff you would learn in regular college courses?


*I realize this is the second time I've knocked Pipkins recently. Please understand that this is not some personal vendetta but an agreement with my doctors to reduce expectations for 5-star recruits and be pleasantly surprised if they succeed, which even in cases of Charles Woodsons is hyper-rare before the Big Ten season begins.



James Burrill Angell started a thread to track guys formerly in winged helmets who now wear headsets. I went on to post about Kastl but someone beat me to it. I don't know who "Admin" is who posted the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association position paper on recruiting (an interesting read that provides unintentional insight into things like private recruiting services, combines, and AAU events), but his profile image is this:

…so maybe one of our guys? Among FBS schools in the state Central and MSU have signed on. Also if you think your kid might be an NCAA athlete you should know by the time they graduate middle school:

"Understand the NCAA and NAIA Academic Eligibility rules before the student athletes ninth grade year begins.  The NCAA continues to add more restrictions to their eligibility process.  The Class of 2013 will now need 16 core classes to qualify as a D2 athlete.  The Class of 2015 will need a 2.3 GPA to qualify as a D1 athlete.  Academic eligibility begins with the first semester report card in the 9th grade.  All students and parents need to calculate the students NCAA CORE GPA every semester beginning with the 9th grade.

I'm drifting from the topic. Also: two spaces after a sentence means you probably learned to type before 1995, amirite?

ETC. To the people at UM Hospital: thanks for, you know, what you did to make sure I can keep having a dad for awhile, after three other hospitals on two continents couldn't/wouldn't. From "leaders" to "best," whatever superlative you use to describe yourselves it is probably 100% applicable.

Your Moment of Zen:



Dear Diary is Speaks Fluent Jive

Dear Diary is Speaks Fluent Jive Comment Count

Seth March 30th, 2012 at 8:28 AM


By now you've read the Burke tweet, which needed three full-sized threads before everyone could get their Ha-Ha's out: One to point out its irony, one for when big brother slapped him in the face for it, and of course the wicked hangover. The oddity I saw was "People u seek out is better than those that seek u" and "EVERYONE got something to say... smh I thought this was my life!" are in a dialect totally incongruent with every tweet I found in 20 minutes of scrolling through Hollis tweets. Dude wasn't just giving Trey Burke sage advice, he was delivering it in a language that young people understand. Allow me to translate:


This will all blow over soon enough but should serve as warning to young people everywhere: NEVER under any circumstances give your handle out to old people; they think you speak Jive!

Please tell me you got that. It's somebody's general rule that people won't watch movies more than 15 years older than they are.*† ‡ By this rule you'd have to have been born in 1995 (a high school senior) to be excused from Airplane! I'm looking at you, people who didn't get dragonchild's cockpit full of Michigan defenders.

Funny thing about Airplane!: I respect that flick as a classic to the point where I'll be condescending toward someone who hasn't seen memorized it, but until recently I didn't even know it was an almost perfect spoof of Zero Hour! (1957). It's a testament to how good Airplane! is that it stands up even if you don't get the main joke; to be fair, the diary kind of doesn't. It's also ironic that I would make fun of people for a movie reference going over their heads when what that movie referenced totally went over my head.

Everything You Need to Know About Airmen. So I checked out Zero Hour! and now one of the Airplane! jokes I never really got totally makes sense. You know how Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's character is obviously Kareem Abdul-Jabbar but the narrative keeps trying force this "he's Roger the co-pilot!" thing, to the point that when they pull him away he's got his Lakers shorts on? In Zero Hour! the co-pilot was played by Elroy Hirsch.


ie Elroy "Crazylegs" Hirsh…


…and when Kareem appears we're supposed to get how crazy it was that a kid could see Crazylegs in a pilot's uniform and not be like "OMIGOD YOU'RE ELROY HIRSCH!"

Crazylegs was a Badger who got moved to Michigan when a lot of WWII servicemen were transferred as part of a program to give in-training Navy and Marine officers a college education. Hirsch on the transfer:

"But I was to learn a far more important thing about Michigan. It's not something you can hold or see ... but you sure can feel it. I'm speaking about the great Michigan tradition. Corny you say? Not on your life. It's there ... it engulfs you."

Today the service academies don't get first dibs on any draft-age citizen they want, but they do have virtually unlimited scholarships, bringing in 40+ recruits a year (that makes two oversigners on the 2012 schedule). This and many more interesting facts about Air Force can be found in the very early preview by Rabbit21. The whole thing is fascinating. Diary of the Week!

Lines! The bats, oh the bats. They are home and hot, as softball swept their five-game homestand by 10-2, 11-2, 12-4, 6-0, and 12-2 scores. Outfielder Nicole Sappingfield had five RBI last night, including a walk-off grand slam. Shortstop Amy Knapp owes a girl in my section an apology for her put-away homer on Sunday vs. Penn State, which hurt the girl's wrist when she tried to catch it.

Player ERA W/L GS CG Sho IP H R ER BB SO OppAvg.
Haylie Wagner 1.28 15-4 15 13 4 109.1 72 25 20 20 68 0.185
Sara Driesenga 2.39 6-5 14 5 1 76.0 73 41 26 25 39 0.247
Stephanie Speierman 1.83 1-0 2 1 1 15.1 13 5 4 6 17 0.22
TEAM 1.73 22-9 x 19 6 202.0 158 71 50 53 125 0.211

Etc. CenterIce's writeup on the incoming hockey recruits. AC1997 updated the basketball offseason outlook for departures; now with 100% more ohgodBurkestay! Helle had a board-bumped travel diary for this year's road games. If you're going to Minnesota, try the Jucy Lucy [sic]. Pro-tip: let it cool first.


* There's a corollary rule that states you will think anything made in the 15-year span around when you were born is pure genius, but this rule is really just an observation by people my age that most of the best movies (Godfather, Star Wars, Back to the Future, etc.) all came out around then.§

† Trekkies are of course excluded.

‡ It's at least 17, since my wife agrees with me that The Lion in Winter with Peter O'Toole and Katharine Hepburn is way better than the remake with Patrick Stewart and Glenn Close. Reminder: Angevin discussion is not OT in comments. Someone's going to take me up on this eventually.

§ Which is to say if some kid thinks Harry Potter and something with Russell Crowe in it constitutes the golden age of film, they should be beaten.‖

‖ Yes I'm doing the Alt85 thing again.


Best of the Board



Guys, we're friends. We like each others' blogs. We snark at each others' Neanderthalness. We trade ADs and sit in press boxes together and provide shoulders to cry on when clever un-hateable people in purple get pretentious in our homes. So, as a friend, you gotta get this shit under control, man. Do whatever it takes; run a passing spread, raze a heathen temple, sacrifice the virgins—use Nebraska's if you don't have any—hire a total outsider who hates defense and lose for three years; you must placate this thing before it escapes and wrecks every ballcarrier within 800 miles of a cornfield.

Also you may want to check the bottom of your RB depth chart to see if some weird voodoo is trying to find carries for the most surprising Heisman candidate ever. You're looking for something about 5'6", and looks at you funny if you touch his water bottle.


Wolverine Devotee put this together. I'm not a fan of great big dramatic music but I'm a huge fan of little goalies getting lifted by Vaughn then getting hardware from a guy a foot taller than him even without the skates on. I've never been so happy for a guy going to Columbus. He's definitely on the first ballot for the…


Ezeh-E wants a two-miracle limit for guys to get in. Then he includes Woodson and RVB. On the one hand it's one of sports' ironies that often the guys who work hardest and put the most time and effort into playing their sports well are the biggest superstars. I'm all for this miracle thing if you remove the sandpaper and just call it the Pantheon of Wolverines with Paranormal Abilities. The obvious guys will get in but need to have moments that defy the laws of nature to do so. For example, running 85 yards after Patrick Omameh used an NFL-bound linebacker as a safety-hunting projectile just takes speed. Doing this on your first play ever…

Now that is a complete, out-of-the-sky miracle. Speaking of things falling out of the sky…


I just…that's the title. I'm still reading the title. He's going to be okay. Weird thing about Buck I Guy is Bolgen Gobcat fans think he's a dick but the Michigan fans seem to think he's a good guy. We now know where Turkey vultures stand. Stand…segue from stand.



Those figures: MSHOT92 made those!

And now for your moment of zen:


I Only Post About Coaches Who Coach For Michigan

I Only Post About Coaches Who Coach For Michigan Comment Count

Brian December 14th, 2011 at 12:37 PM




Citizens of the planet, I come before you today to make an announcement. That announcement is: I do not give a microdamn about the things 1) Rich Rodriguez or 2) Michigan alumni such as Desmond Howard have to say about Michigan and Rich Rodriguez, respectively.

My interest levels are declining into femtodamn levels. On message boards I now flip past entire threads in which the same tired debates are brought forth with the speed and determination I ignore threads about politics on the internet. Let that sink in. Yeah. That's right. I have as much interest in this topic as I do Herman Cain.

So I don't want to dedicate yet more time to a guy who was fired a year ago except to talk about the things that made his offense very effective and his defense very ineffective. Those things affect Michigan's fortunes on the field and are interesting examples of the ever-evolving college football metagame. Also interesting, if slightly depressing, is the pickle Rodriguez's last couple recruiting classes have left Michigan in, especially on both lines.

Talking about other aspects of Rich Rodriguez's tenure makes me want to claw at my face. But I will do this for you, like I will eat a lemon if Yuri Wright picks Colorado over Michigan. So here is a handy chart for you to follow.


EVENT: Rich Rodriguez has said something.

1. Is it about Michigan? If yes, go to 2. If no, go to 3.

2. Is it really about Michigan or is it a paranoid delusion? If paranoid delusion, go to 3. If still about Michigan, go to 4.

3. Don't care.

4. Still don't care. However, this incident is further evidence that Rodriguez is deservedly bitter about his three year tenure at Michigan and impolitic about discussing it.

Yes, it is further evidence that Rodriguez's maturity level and ability to play "the game" are low. Yes, it reminds me how nice it is to have a guy like Brady Hoke, who says all the correct things in all the generic ways possible. Yes—

What? Where am I? Why am I upside down in some sort of river valley? Why is there a bridge above/below me?


I was probably bungee jumping at the time in an effort to prevent the inevitable—this is the level of my dedication to you, reader—but this topic was still massively boring enough to result in nappy times. I apologize. I'm so, so happy to be talking about this, no, serious—


EVENT: A program alum or Lloyd Carr has said something.

1. Is it about Rich Rodriguez? If yes, go to 2. If no, go to 3.

2. Is it really about Rich Rodriguez or is it more of a rapturous thing about Brady Hoke that sets the lack of support given during the Rodriguez tenure in stark relief? If rapturous thing, go to 3. If actually about Rodriguez, go to 4.

3. Yes, that is annoying but let's just suck it up because it's in the best interests of the program.

4. Yes, it is extremely disappointing that certain program alumni appear to be jerks. What can you do, though?

To take one example, when you're so dim and callous as to deride Rodriguez as "Cherry Coke"—probably meant "New Coke"—in front of 60-70 players who were recruited by Rodriguez, are the living embodiment of that change, and went 10-2 and reached the Sugar Bowl, well… that's hopeless. Anyone who would trash-talk Denard, even indirectly, is never going to Get It.

It's further evidence that several recent program alums' maturity levels are low. It reminds me of how nice it was to have Bo around. There's nothing to do about it but wait. Eventually the Rodriguez recruits will be out of the program and the Rodriguez years far enough in the—

Right, this again. Upside down in a river valley.


If I can remain conscious long enough to respond to these things in the future, all future events will be filed "3" or "4". This, people of Earth, is my sacrifice for your well-being. Let it not be in vain. File these things 3 or 4 and live your lives without Rodriguez-Michigan-induced narcolepsy. You, too, can live—

An upside-down Brian Cook who would greatly appreciate being reeled in now

PS. Many of you have passed out in front of your computers and are in danger of entering an infinite loop wherein you wake up, forget what you were reading, begin reading again, and fall asleep. In an effort to prevent the thousands of deaths that may result, here is an animated GIF of some levitating cats.


Hopefully this will catch the newly-awakened reader's eye sufficiently to prevent them from entering a fatal boredom loop.


All Smiths Songs Sorted Into Piles By Applicability

All Smiths Songs Sorted Into Piles By Applicability Comment Count

Brian January 4th, 2011 at 1:21 PM

NOTE: Front page is cached for all viewers and will not allow you to log in. Individual post pages are still using cookies and should allow you to post insofar as the site can remain up. Front page should be good no matter what, fingers crossed.

There's nothing productive to do so here's this. Louder Than Bombs included.



"You've Got Everything Now"
"This Charming Man"
"Hand In Glove"
"I Don't Owe You Anything"
"Oscillate Wildly"

You left / Your girlfriend on the platform
With this really ragged notion that you'll return
But she knows / That when he goes /
He really goes


Utah Michigan Football

"What She Said"

How come someone hasn't noticed / That I'm dead
And decided to bury me? / God knows I'm ready

"Pretty Girls Make Graves"
"Nowhere Fast"
"The Queen Is Dead"
"The Boy with the Thorn in His Side"
"Cemetery Gates"
"Is It Really So Strange?"

I left the South
I travelled North
I got confused - I killed a horse
I can't help the way that I feel

"I Started Something I Couldn't Finish"
"Death at One's Elbow"
"Shakespeare's Sister"

Young bones groan
And the rocks below say :
"Throw your skinny body down, son !"

"Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me"
"William, It Was Really Nothing"
"Sweet and Tender Hooligan"
"Sheila Take A Bow"

Throw your homework onto the fire /
Come out and find the one you love




"Barbarism Begins At Home"
"Miserable Lie"
"Bigmouth Strikes Again"
"Frankly, Mr. Shankly"

But still I'd rather be famous / than righteous or holy
Any day, any day, any day

"Paint a Vulgar Picture"
"Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before"



"How Soon Is Now?"
"The Headmaster Ritual"
"I Want The One I Can't Have"
"These Things Take Time"

"Stretch Out And Wait"



"Reel Around The Fountain"
"Well I Wonder"
"Vicar In A Tutu"



"There Is a Light That Never Goes Out"
"Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others"

So, if there's something you'd like to try /
If there's something you'd like to try /

"Back to the Old House"
"You Just Haven't Earned It Yet, Baby"


"A Rush and a Push and the Land Is Ours"
"I Won't Share You"
"Shoplifters of the World Unite"



"Death of a Disco Dancer"
"Golden Lights"




"Half a Person"


"Girlfriend in a Coma"



"That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore"

I've seen this happen in other people's lives / and now it's happening in mine

"What Difference Does It Make?"

It makes none.

"Suffer Little Children"
"Unhappy Birthday"
"Still Ill"
"Rubber Ring"

The passing of time / leaves empty lives
waiting to be filled

"Girl Afraid"
"This Night Has Opened My Eyes"
"I Know It's Over"

Hang the DJ, Hang the DJ, Hang the DJ

"Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want"


"Rusholme Ruffians"

I just might walk home alone / But my faith in love is still devout


The Woolfolk Hangover, or: Bohemian Crapsody

The Woolfolk Hangover, or: Bohemian Crapsody Comment Count

Brian August 18th, 2010 at 11:59 AM

















Indiana's Darius Willis runs 90 yards for a fourth quarter touchdown.        Photos are of the University of Michigan vs. Indiana University at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, September 26, 2009.  (The Detroit News / David Guralnick)













Ten Books Of Influence: The Meme

Ten Books Of Influence: The Meme Comment Count

Brian April 2nd, 2010 at 12:54 PM

Wincingly offtopic offseason stuff is go.

Smart Football picked up on a meme from an economics blog and a couple people have asked me to participate, so here goes. It''s a list of the ten books that have "influenced you most," end of explanation. This is my best guess:

a-supposedly-fun-thing 1. A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, David Foster Wallace.

Within the last week a friend of mine mentioned he had dug back in the MGoBlog archives for some reason or another and told me that my writing was way less like DFW's than it used to be. It's mandatory, then, that this is at the top of the list.

Not that it could have been anything else. There's something in the final line of "Derivative Sport in Tornado Alley" that sticks with me. The essay is a ramble through DFW's childhood as a near-great juniors tennis player that ends with an incident where he and another local junior who would go on to greater heights are caught in a freak tornado that hurls them into the fence around the court so hard they leave "two body-shaped indentations like in cartoons where the guy's face makes a cast in the skillet that hit him." This event is documented in a sentence hundreds of words long and followed by

Antitoi's tennis continued to improve after that, but mine didn't.

The end. Outside its natural habitat, that sentence is flat enough to be worthy of Hemingway. As the culmination of DFW's dense rainforest of prose, it is a powerful coda. I think I think good writing is something that can take a sentence like that and turn it into something heart-stopping, and the trace of it runs through most of my columns.

Add in a world-realigning essay on what a world-class athlete is titled "Tennis Player Michael Joyce's Professional Artistry as a Paradigm of Certain Stuff about Choice, Freedom, Discipline, Joy, Grotesquerie, and Human Completeness*" that's a major reason I think football is a legitimate degree program and Marques Slocum is kind of a tragic figure despite everything and DFW in a tuxedo t-shirt secretly agreeing that caviar is blucky and there you go.

Let this stand for the rest of Wallace's work as well. DFW's essay on grammar isn't collected in this book but when a reader wanted to break me of my tendency to write singular plurals ending in S without a full possessive (ie, Jones') he pointed out that such things were deployed as "Jones's" in that essay and I immediately followed suit despite my tendency to read that as "keeping up with the Joneseses."

*(Harper's published this as "String Theory," which just goes to show.)

2. Cognition and environment: functioning in an uncertain world, Stephen and Rachel Kaplan.

This is the first of a couple cheats, but I did read it and it was part of a powerful realignment of my brain so here it goes. I graduated with a computer engineering degree in 2001. This was exactly when the bubble burst and it seemed like looking for a job was a dumb idea. So I got a master's. In the process I took a couple classes from Stephen Kaplan about mental models, human desires, and accommodating those desires. They were cross-listed under all kinds of departments and I had no idea what I was getting into when I signed up.

The classes ended up being tight 15-member groups where there was little in the way of assignments other than reading the coursepack/books and a solitary one-page paper at the end of the class. This paper was supposed to clearly communicate the ideas of the class—all of them—in about 250 words. The first attempt was meh and got a B+. The second one was kept as an example to show other people. It had bullets. It was about practically applying the ideas imparted by the class in life as an engineer.

That's enough, but the ideas of the class that I got my head around the second time are major reasons this blog has attracted the readership it has: people have a natural desire to explore while keeping familiar landmarks in sight. The possibility of the new is balanced with discomfort at being completely at sea. People seek to expand their cognitive ability in controlled bursts, striking a balance between boredom and confusion. People want their actions to have meaning, even if it's just seeing a number go up or down. Etc. I think the things I do are useful things to do largely because of these concepts.

3. The Elements of Style, Strunk and White.

The first of a couple wincingly clichéd entries here, but one that can't denied on the basis of the sentence that should by all rights be its title: "Omit needless words."

I am not a SNOOT. SNOOT is the acronym DFW deploys in the above-referenced grammar piece to indicate someone for whom the subjunctive is Serious Business indeed. (Wire fans should think of the scene early in season five where two grizzled newspaper editors paternally inform a n00b that unless you're talking about an enema it's not people who end up evacuated but buildings. Copy editors not being frequent subjects of dramatists, this is probably the most SNOOTy behavior ever filmed.) It's not really what I do. I write by ear and occasionally have SNOOTs show up in my own comments to declare that my "were" should have been a "was" or vice versa. All I know about the subjunctive is it makes Spanish verbs hard to conjugate after a "porque."

But I have also edited a metric ton of content over the past decade whether it was at the helm of the Every Three Weekly or editing Hail To The Victors or various guest posters/contributors here. And 90% of what I do is hack out useless clauses, rephrase unnecessarily clunky verb phrases, and turn 30 word sentences into 15 word sentences without dropping any meaning. Everyone who's ever written a paper with a page requirement knows the special agony of having nothing to say and a ton of space to say it in. The sentences that result are meandering things that say not very much in a ton of space. That's what 90% of people learn from English classes: how to turn a perfectly respectable sentence into something incomprehensible, cliché-ridden, and three times as long.

As someone who has fought a pitched battle against his tendency to insert "basically," "generally," "essentially," and all manner of other useless adverbs into any sentence that can bear one, "omit needless words" is a clarion call heeded daily. Many people have problems with specific sections of the book—apparently some of the examples lauded as correct are erroneous and vice-versa—but Strunk and White gets the most important thing right in language so clear as to be blinding. It wins.

4. I'm Just Here For The Food, Alton Brown.

Cheat #2. Alton Brown's influence on me has mostly come via Good Eats, but I do have this and his book about gear for your kitchen and his book about baking which has become completely superfluous in the wake of the fiancée's decision to become the Charles Woodson of sourdough bakers. Brown believes that everyone's lives can be improved by wonky discussions of technical topics enlivened with humor. He is basically me transplanted to Georgia and given a different family background.

Upon Further Review owes more to Alton Brown than any other person on the planet. Yes, the number of people who really care enough about marinades to comprehend the chemistry behind osmosis is relatively small, but by God if knowing that Alton Brown has read Harold Magee's book and translated it into cute kids with silly hats or army men isn't the essence of what I do around here I don't know what is. I'm not a football coach; Alton Brown is not a nutritional anthropologist or food chemist. We both stand as intermediaries. We attempt to translate the detailed, jargon-laden life's pursuit of an obsessive into actionable, relatively easy to understand niblets for the dedicated layman. I kind of hope to be the Alton Brown of Michigan football.

Also, Brown's chili is gooooooood.

5. Reaper Man, Terry Pratchett

I got on the Pratchett bandwagon faster than most scifi/fantasy dorks on this side of the Atlantic because one of my high school friends had an aunt who worked for a British publishing company and thought he'd like them. She was right, and after he read them he'd pass them to me one at a time. I lost one. It was a disaster.

When not losing the irreplaceable foreign books I was reading them and finding that they perfectly matched my sense of humor. For a six month period everything I wrote had superfluous footnotes. Pratchett's influence on me has become considerably more subtle but remains in the pacing of sentences, word play, and occasional deployment of ironic capitals.

moralssquad 6. Bloom County Babylon, Berke Breathed

A collection of comics that frequently referenced Ed Meese, Oliver North, Pat Robertson, and Tammy Faye Baker was an odd gift to provide a ten-year-old with no idea who any of those people were, but my dad did it anyway. I must have been a weird ten-year-old. He was right, though, and my copies of that and "Classics of Western Literature," the other Bloom County uber-collection, are hopelessly battered.

Here I should confess that I have directly stolen jokes from Breathed: in a preview last year I said if Michigan lost I would lead a convoy of escapees across the border to Mexico screaming "FOLLOW ME TO FREEDOM." This is almost exactly what Steve Dallas says in a Breathed-written short story titled "The Great LaRouche Toad-Frog Massacree." (If the title does not immediately clarify why I find Bloom County so spectacular, I cannot help you further.)

This is fine because Breathed's retrospective + funny stories book starts off with a Bloom County strip that is a close doppelganger of a Doonesbury, which I never read because it seemed like a version of Bloom County without heart. Great artists steal.

7. Fever Pitch, Nick Hornby.

Wincingly clichéd entry #2, but this is the emo sports memoir to end all emo sports memoirs. If you had three words to describe MGoBlog, could you do better than "emo sports memoir"?

(Five words: "Chart-laden emo sports memoir.")

8. Here Comes Everybody, Clay Shirky.

Another cheat. I don't actually like this book much because it is a book version of the Clay Shirky essays I have soaked in since I first saw some crazy article about Zipf's law applied to the internet a few years ago. It's boring, but only because I've already absorbed the content so wholly that I take it for granted.

I like to think that I've made approximately correct moves when it comes to the community around here, and Shirky's shaped my thinking about how communities act on the internet so profoundly that it's hard to conceive of an alternative. As the blog has grown I've tried to keep the signal to noise ratio up by erecting ever-greater barriers to participating, organizing content into transitory and relatively permanent sections, and providing feedback mechanisms* for people to invest in. I can't cite the Shirkythoughts that have caused me to take this path, but since 50-80% of what I think about the internet has a basis in what he thinks about the internet, I'm sure most of that is in there somewhere.

*(This bit has been scarily effective. Sometimes when someone does something I feel is detrimental to the tone of the community I sock them with absurd MGoPoint penalties. Not once have I done this and not gotten a complaining email. People joke about redeeming their useless MGoPoints for prizes—usually an invite to the wedding—but there's a bit of truth in their jokes. This is how sketchy Facebook game companies can thrive by selling fictional tractors.)

9. Lapsing into a comma, Bill Walsh

I bought a beard trimmer about a month ago. As I used it for the first time, I thought to myself: "I am no longer a man with a beard. I am a bearded man."

This is a style guide by the copy desk chief of the Washington Post. I bought it of my own volition to use for things other than class. Its purchase was possibly the moment I went from a man who writes to a writer. Though I flagrantly defy some of the book's proclamations—the page I just opened to told me that a single parenthesis after a number is an "illegitimate" mark of punctuation—it did finally get me to hurl periods and commas inside quotation marks no matter how little sense it makes. 

10. Football Against the Enemy, Simon Kuper.

I was going to write a book on the World Cup, and soccer in general, as a society-defining cultural phenomenon. It turns out someone had already written that book, and then Franklin Foer had come in and rewritten it almost idea for idea. (Seriously: probably 2/3rds of the chapters in "How Soccer Explains The World" have direct analogues in the earlier Kuper book. Don't take just my word for it.)

Kuper's book shapes my conception of fandom to this day.


A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M Miller
The Baroque Cycle, Neal Stephenson
Mason and Dixon, Thomas Pychon (Gravity's Rainbow was too chaotic and meandering for me. I pick the one written in 17th-century dialect because it's more approachable. Also there is a Learned English Dog.)
Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace
Fiasco, Stanislaw Lem