EMERGENCY FIRST EDITION
You need to see this dog.
First of all, thank you to the hundreds (seriously, hundreds? good lord) of you people who have already signed up for the show. I hope I entertain you.
STICK TO DOGS
Service Takes Many Forms
When we last spoke, I told you the content would begin in March. That was the plan, and I was sticking to it.
Now—here is the thing. You’re talking to the fifth-grade spelling bee champion at Hanawalt Elementary in Nineteen-Ni[muffles voice]. I generally know how letters and words work. And I know that F-E-B-R-U-A-R-Y, which is what most* of y’all’s calendars say right now, does not spell “March.”
*I write for the people who still have January’s page up, or maybe even your 2019 calendar. You get to it when you get to it.
I also did not plan to lead with dogs in a given issue, especially the first real one ever. But when I tell you I was HOLLERING at this video of this wonderful, incredible, perfect dog failing service classes in ways never before seen or imagined.
In the dog’s defense—HEAR ME OUT—if we did not want Rufus to rip the walker out of a hypothetical elderly person’s grip and carry it away, PERHAPS we should not be attaching dog toys to the bottom, right where Rufus can see them!
The dog is ruled not at fault.
STICK TO SPORTS
The Thankless Task of Doing it Right
First and foremost, a hearty congratulations to Sabrina Ionescu, Oregon Ducks superstar, future WNBA millionaire, and consummate badass for a feat that defies belief on Monday night: 2,000 career points, 1,000 career rebounds and 1,000 career assists in college basketball.
As virtually every sports news outlet noted, Ionescu is the first D-I basketball* player to attain this trifecta. That’s counting both men’s and women’s basketball, as many of those outlets pointed out.
*Presumably, athletes in other sports are nowhere near it either. Are you even TRYING, collegiate golfers of America?!?!
It is, on some level, patronizing to women’s sports to put them alongside men’s sports for comparison or contextualization. You don’t need to tell viewers that Elena Delle Donne is like the Larry Bird of women’s basketball; she’s just Elena Delle Donne. Women’s sports don’t need that kind of coverage, and we know that because men’s sports have done just fine throughout history without anyone even dreaming* of doing the same thing.
*This does mean we were robbed of Jay Bilas telling bewildered NBA Draft viewers a decade ago that Hasheem Thabeet has a lot of Brittany Griner potential in his game, which just like yesterday is an idea that I’m talking myself into as we speak. Also, the Larry Bird of women’s basketball is Sue Bird. Duh.
So cheers to the many, many outlets who simply reported Ionescu’s feat as it is, in the simplest, most accurate way possible. This is progressive and respectful, and it means a lot of the right people are listening.
I even hesitated bringing this up—it’s kind of like asking a pitcher in the sixth inning to be proud of you for not bringing up their no-hitter that’s currently in progress, like the acknowledgment sort of ruins its own point.
But I bring it up for this one follow-up point: when are we going to bring the same energy to the way we discuss men’s sports?
In mainstream sports culture, women’s college basketball is always “women’s college basketball.” And “college basketball” is always understood as men’s unless in the context of a female basketball player, and then it’s understood as the larger group of both sports. So if that had been a Dave Ionescu making that incredible milestone for Dana Altman and his Ducks, the headlines would be the same—first D-I player ever—but in reference to men’s college basketball. I’d frankly be surprised if most outlets would have even checked the other half of the sport at all.
So again, shouts out to everyone who talked about Ionescu in a way that recognizes that ball is ball. Progress, not perfection. Let’s just keep shooting for that progress whenever we talk about ball.
Careful Man, There’s a Beverage Here
Some quick math: when a regulation-sized baseball is hit with an aluminum bat with an exit velocity of 117 mph and a launch angle of 11 degrees, travels 320 feet, and connects with a plastic cup filled with 15.5 ounces of American domestic beer, how spectacular will the spray pattern be? ANSWER: extremely.
That is a direct hit and a magnificent explosion. And kudos to the gentlemen for removing themselves from the flight path; any ding-dong who tells you they “should have caught the ball” or “protected the beer” has never been staring at a line drive that’s coming at you barely slower than the ping of the bat it came off of. Your sense of manhood—to say nothing of lukewarm Miller Lite—isn’t exactly worth shattering your metacarpals.
STICK TO NOT SPORTS
Fiiiiiiiinally, the new Tame Impala album is out. We’ve been teased with singles since last summer, and over the weekend we got The Slow Rush, 57 minutes of new synth-pop/disco pastiche for the first time since releasing Currents in summer 2015. Give Tame Impala credit for finding a phenomenal formula:
Release an absolute banger of an album
Let fans sit with it for almost 5 years
Don’t ruin everything
Any evaluations of this album are incomplete without a windows-down, volume-up drive through the city, but thus far it’s promising. Sonically, yeah, you can shake your butt to most of the album, and wave a lighter to the rest. And man, Kevin Parker knows what he’s doing with this project—there’s layers and subtleties as far as you want to look for them in the lyrics.
Consequence of Sound noted that despite the long layover, this album feels like no time has passed at all since Currents. A bit unfair, yeah, but it’s not a groundbreaking shift from the prior album, and there’s plenty of people who’ll tell you 2012’s Lonerism was better than both. All right. But fresh air is fresh air, and after five years, what are we supposed to say, “nah no that’s OK”? Put it on. Try not to dance. We can worry about its place on the totem pole later.
STICK TO SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION
A little something from the home base after Iowa’s 78-70 loss at Michigan State Tuesday night:
Life lesson learned: it's not gonna end well when they've got a Rocket Watts and you don't.
This loss shouldn't diminish Iowa's standing in anything except the hunt for the Big Ten title, and that dream was already in the driveway with the engine running. A #18 team and projected 6-seed in the NCAA tournament, losing by 8 at Michigan State (and much closer/leading for most of the game)... that sounds about right, doesn't it? There's 31 games in the regular season. The pollsters don't have to overreact to this one loss, neither do the (sigh) bracketologists, and nor do we.
STICK TO AFFIRMATIONS
Thanks for joining me today. We’ll always end on a kind word.
I think about Jim Valvano’s ESPYs speech a lot, not only because ESPN does us the wonderful service of replaying it in its entirety every year during the Coaches Vs. Cancer classic, but because it contains one of the most remarkable pieces of advice I’ve ever heard in my life: “If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that's a full day. That's a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you're going to have something special.”
We all cry with different frequencies—nobody’s going to hold you to a daily regimen of tears, that would be a bit weird—but y’know what? Kudos to those of you who do, because it’s an incredible catharsis and it means you have a healthy relationship with your emotions.
So I hope you laugh, you think, and you cry as much as you want, today and any day. You deserve it as much as anyone out there.