Grantland

Clears Cleaver

Lil' Bill
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Aug 1, 2001
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[sup]I think Matt Moore was the fourth highest ranked QB in the AFC this year. I am not sure that makes his point or not[/sup]
 

DJnVa

Dorito Dawg
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Dec 16, 2010
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5th if you count Schaub, but yeah.

And Matt Ryan tossed 29 TDs and had a 92.2 rating.

Not mediocre.
 

weeba

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Plus a nice dig at TMQ:

And even his most egregious moment — the so-called Spygate scandal, which we will not relitigate here because we do not want all our readers to lapse into comas — was little more than sharp practice. He won. He got caught. He got fined nearly a million dollars. And he moved on, even though there are football pundits out there who may never rise from their fainting couches over the whole thing.
 

JBill

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Aug 17, 2001
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The TV podcast with Andy Greenwald and Chris Ryan was good, hope that becomes a regular one. They should have a TV/entertainment podcast anyway, it's all sports so far.
 

Beomoose

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May 28, 2006
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I could handle its sorta odd atheistic, but the way they buried their own content was just...terrible in 2012.

New design is a little more modern-looking while still looking "Grantland"-like, we'll see how good they are with the content going forward.
 

Spelunker

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Jul 17, 2005
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So they moved the Triangle and Hollywood from the left side to the right side. And articles there are no longer in order.

Super!
At the least, they very much improved the mobile experience (no more tiny, *fixed* font size!) so that's something.
 

JBill

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Aug 17, 2001
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Big improvement over the clusterf*ck of the last design. It's more generic looking now, which is too bad, but maybe I'll actually go to the site now instead of relying solely on the twitter feed.
 

kenneycb

Hates Goose Island Beer; Loves Backdoor Play
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Dec 2, 2006
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Tuukka's refugee camp
The additions of the pictures on the side actually make you notice the Triangle and Hollywood Prospectus, so that's an upgrade.
 

dirtynine

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Dec 17, 2002
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It barely changed. They need to look at what modern web-magazine sites are doing (The Verge is a great recent example) instead of shuffling template elements around.

The new design did allow me to stumble onto an incredibly trite "why do we watch soccer if it's boring?" article (spoiler - it appeals to our human emotion!), so I guess it's succeeding in some respects.
 

Tartan

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Aug 20, 2008
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The end of the first section of Tom Bissell's latest piece is, without a doubt, the best thing I've ever read on the "video games as art" clusterfuck of a debate. The man is, without any competition, the best video game writer right bow.
 

SydneySox

A dash of cool to add the heat
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Sep 19, 2005
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Are you serious?

http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/7473139/tom-bissell-making-madden-nfl

Obviously, this whole conversation is hampered by the fact that people who talk about video games, myself included, often turn to those games' narrative, atmospheric, or aesthetic content when discussing their artfulness. The conversation is also hampered by the fact that many who play and design sports games — not to mention athletes themselves — would sooner dive into a thornbush than say, "Yeah, that thing I do? Art, pal. Right there. Art." But do me a favor: Go to YouTube and watch a few old clips of Jordan or Maravich. Watch Aaron Rodgers thread the needle through some impossible coverage formation. Watch Jackie Joyner-Kersee run. I've been doing that for the past 40 minutes or so. It's been enlightening.
That bolded part is awful and rather than helping his point it simply stokes the fire with the kind of empassioned baseless opinion that has made the entire 'is games art' argument one of the more tired 'who cares' internet discussions of the modern age. He also throws Roger Ebert straight under the bus by misrepresenting his initial position and then failing to acknowledge Ebert very quickly and modestly turned his position around and accepted he'd been convinced.

The essay itself comes off as nothing more than a publicity puff piece for Tiburon and the Madden team. Bissell admits at the beginning that he hasn't even played a Madden game since the early 00's. You don't think that's something he might have been interested in doing? You know, just to play test? At the very least, maybe, to understand the criticisms levelled at the game over it's long history by the people who do play it?

But of course, it's clear from the article that Bissell never bothered even looking into that far; he turned up on the doorstep, conducted organised one-on-ones arranged by EA's Comms Director (Rob Semsey, we're helpfully informed below) whose life was made all the easier once that person knew the 'video game writer' who'd arrived had no intention of asking any of the difficult questions she'd spent all night working up answers too in a contentious issues Q&A document.

He says, after "I confessed to Rob Semsey, the director of communications at EA Tiburon, that I had not played a Madden title in many moons" that the Comms guy replied:

... this alarming lacuna in my Madden résumé was acceptable — that, in a weird way, it was even sort of preferable, given that one of the franchise's perennial challenges has been to figure out ways to keep the Madden base engorged while also rehooking those who once played Madden but don't anymore.
But he was thinking :

... this alarming lacuna in my Madden résumé was fucking brilliant because it means nothing negative was going to be asked, raised or written about in an article written by a wide-eyed gamer who was about to swallow every single 'Key Message' delivered by the carefully arranged interviewers through the course of the full day junket.

I expect this article was then further vetted by the EA Tiburon Comms Staff before being published - we can't be certain of course, but it's pretty standard for comms to request oversight before granting access to junkets and this entire thing reads so much like an EA press advetorial (a paid editorial) that in many ways you'd hope it was vetted because if this safe, vanilla puff piece was written straight up, Mr Semsey deserves a raise.
 

Tartan

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Hmm. I don't think it was awful. I think it represents the visceral sense that, sometimes, things that aren't inherently art can be elevated to that level.

I don't think he misrepresents Ebert, either, in that that's both what I took Ebert's position to be, and I agreed with it as well (for the most part). I'm a huge fan of Ebert, and I don't think he's dissing Ebert there. I took what he said as that the usual standby argument of gamers that "[insert pretty game here is art because of its art design," doesn't work, but that it's possible for particularly great sporting achievements to become "art" by some standard.

For what it's worth, I don't recall Ebert quickly revising his opinion, but rather he brought up his position frequently and argued it fervently (not that that was wrong of him; his blog is fun to read because he loves open discourse and welcomes opposing arguments) before conceding that he was arguing from a position of ignorance and dropping the issue.

Anyhow, I agree that the rest of the article was a puff piece.

As for the platitudes, well, I'm a hyperbolic person to a fault. But I do think Bissell is a superb writer, which is a blessing in the world of gaming writing.
 

rembrat

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Bill James' first article is up. The Top 100 pitchers duel of 2011.

Check out the lone Red Sox representative.
 

TheGazelle

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... this alarming lacuna in my Madden résumé was fucking brilliant because it means nothing negative was going to be asked, raised or written about in an article written by a wide-eyed gamer who was about to swallow every single 'Key Message' delivered by the carefully arranged interviewers through the course of the full day junket.
This is true to a degree, but another point is that someone who hasn't played Madden since 2001 is much more likely be impressed by Madden 2012 than someone who has religiously played every recent incarnation of Madden. This is because every new edition of Madden is essentially an incremental increase on the previous version, and rarely does more than tinker with elements. Jumping into Madden 2012 with zero Madden base knowledge is a great way to rave about the game, even though it's very similar to Madden 2009, 2010, and so forth.
 

NatetheGreat

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Aug 27, 2007
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Tom Bissell just writes about games from a very weird perspective that has almost nothing to do with how I or anyone I know plays or thinks about games. He's like Armond White on film--not stupid, but clearly preoccupied with a ton of shit most people don't rate at all when evaluating films. Sometimes it makes for interesting reading, but I've never come away from a Bissell piece feeling that it was useful as a review, nor have I ever read his thoughts on a game I've played and agreed with him.
 

Tartan

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The Armond White comparison is sort of apt, but it goes too far. Armond White doesn't just look for things that no one else does. He sees things and derives directorial motives that simply aren't there under any logical standard. Meanwhile, Bissell's break from the norm is that he doesn't review games so much as talk about them as pop culture items on the same intellectual level as anything else people pick apart. His perspectives are no more strange than how most pop culture sites pick apart TV shows or how cinephiles cut individual movie shots to pieces. An average person looking for a review would have little use for Bissell. They'd also have no use for Roger Ebert's one-shot-at-a-time film screenings or AV Club TV recaps.

Most game reviews are like a checklist. "Its gameplay was fun. Its graphics are behind the curve. The story was AMAZING, etc." Bissell sees games through a wider perspective. He reviewed LA Noire as a storytelling experience, for example, which I think is a better approach to that genre than a rote checklist of "gameplay, graphics, sound, presentation" that most reviewers use. He often discusses gaming's place as a storytelling vehicle, which is an angle game reviewers have no room to cover.

Does he serve the basic function of a reviewer, which is to tell us "should I buy this or not"? Maybe not. But his angles are fascinating and, usually, very unique as gaming writing goes.
 

Tartan

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This segment from Barnwell's recaps of yesterday's games is somewhat over the top, no?

A slightly more aggressive zebra might have whistled Lee Evans' catch in Foxborough a touchdown before Sterling Moore slapped the pass away, which would have turned Moore — beaten on the play for what would have been a second touchdown allowed — into a whipping boy for Patriots fans and the ultimate signifier of New England's many draft failures.



How often are DBs scapegoated for red zone TDs on a great throw, barring an egregiously bad play? (Say, letting a sure INT through their hands or falling down)

If Evans holds on to the ball, the Pat's D as a whole gets the blame for that final drive, considering that pass defense and closing teams out in the end of games has been a problem for them all season.

Also, if an "aggressive zebra" calls that a TD, with Moore slapping the ball out and all, there's absolutely no way Moore gets the blame. Rather, the ref's call would instantly become one of the most controversial in playoff history, and if anything Moore gets sympathy for having his heads up play be for naught.

Edit- To be fair, I understand his larger point was that the media tends to give undue weight to certain moments and amplify their significance while ignoring other plays of equal importance that happened at less dramatic junctures. I just don't think he used a good example, especially since it's the first one he highlights.
 

Smiling Joe Hesketh

Throw Momma From the Train
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If an agressive zebra whistles that a TD, the play automatically gets reviewed upstairs (all soring plays are reviewed) and they buzz the ref. Since the replays clearly showed Evens get not get his second foot down before the ball was slapped away, the TD would have been overturned.
 

Mystic Merlin

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The refs on the field should make the calls as they see them.

In that spot, the onus is on the booth to deal with it. IMHO, they should have reviewed it, if only to preempt this kind of second-guessing, but that shit wasn't a catch. In fact, there was conclusive - indeed, irrefutable - evidence to that effect; a TD call is overturned easily.

That said, the NFL does have a problem with their review system, especially on scoring plays. The fact it is constantly a source of confusion and logic-defying distinctions is per se bad for the league.
 

Marciano490

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Nov 4, 2007
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I'm starting to dig Charles Pierce. He's not particularly insightful, but he's got an easy-to-read style and a decent sense of humor.
 

Beomoose

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The Staff email piece has its high and low moments, but props to Mark Lisanti:
Ray Lewis is going to be standing suspiciously nearby, but not actively participating in, Cundiff's murder.
Gamethread/sig-worthy
 

Dehere

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Apr 25, 2010
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If an agressive zebra whistles that a TD, the play automatically gets reviewed upstairs (all soring plays are reviewed) and they buzz the ref. Since the replays clearly showed Evens get not get his second foot down before the ball was slapped away, the TD would have been overturned.
Yeah, exactly. I like Barnwell but that's a stupid comment. There's no way calling that a TD would have held up under review.
 

Blacken

Robespierre in a Cape
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Jul 24, 2007
12,152
Tom Bissell just writes about games from a very weird perspective that has almost nothing to do with how I or anyone I know plays or thinks about games. He's like Armond White on film--not stupid, but clearly preoccupied with a ton of shit most people don't rate at all when evaluating films. Sometimes it makes for interesting reading, but I've never come away from a Bissell piece feeling that it was useful as a review, nor have I ever read his thoughts on a game I've played and agreed with him.
Bissell wants to write for Kill Screen but doesn't have the (basic) underlying understanding of games or the culture that he so desperately wants to inject into his work.

He's not good.
 

Marciano490

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Grantland has been hit or miss for me, but Brian Phillips' piece on Tom Molineaux and the early history of boxing is outstanding.
I loved this article on the first read, but the more I've thought about it, the more I've questioned it. My issue with articles like this they seem stuck between telling a narrative and reporting fact, and it's difficult to tell how much of the latter is sacrificed in service of the former. Obviously, the details of the fights and characters are sketchy, but the author seems to cite authority only when it's convenient or conducive to the story he's trying to tell - rambunctious black fighter defeats conventional white fighter, but due to scandal and malfeasance the white fighter is able to come back and actually win the fight. By the time of their rematch, the black fighter has gone off and drank and whored himself out of shape. If most of the accounts of the fight save one don't mention the distraction or the first knockout, why is the lone sportswriter's account credited? It could be that Phillips has a ton of research he withheld in order to keep the article from being too dry, but - in a narrative that repeatedly references the obscurity of its subjects and the possibly apocryphal details of their lives - it would've been reassuring had he included a few more direct accounts.

Yeah, a couple more years of hard work, and he could really be somebody in this business.
This forum is full of people taking renowned writers to task, I don't think damning CPP with what might be considered faint praise should be taken as passing judgment on his credentials.
 

Tartan

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Bissell wants to write for Kill Screen but doesn't have the (basic) underlying understanding of games or the culture that he so desperately wants to inject into his work.

He's not good.
As game reviews for the purpose of influencing buyers, Kill Screen is hard to top. I don't think Bissell's style guns for Kill Screen style at all. Bissell is a writer who plays games. Kill Screen is a game review publication. Their observations are on different planes altogether, quality notwithstanding.

Kill Screen, for what it's worth, is excellent, and written with a hell of a lot more elegance and panache than you'll find from other reviewers.

As for whether Bissell is good or not, well, your mileage may vary and all that. I like him a lot. Others on this thread don't. /shrugs
 

Garshaparra

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Feb 27, 2008
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The Masked Man's essay on the upcoming Royal Rumble, and the state of the WWE in general, is really outstanding:
http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/7509896/the-wwe-royal-rumble-chris-jericho-controlled-chaos

Usually, analysis pieces like these are total puffery, trying to read significance where there is none, but this one really makes a lot of sense of recent storylines and debuts. He's one of the only reasons I check Grantland regularly.
 

SydneySox

A dash of cool to add the heat
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Sep 19, 2005
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I don't think Bissell's style guns for Kill Screen style at all. Bissell is a writer who plays games.
... Except, apparently, for the ones he writes massive stories about.

Out of interest, could you provide a few examples of the work of his you like? I'd be keen to see his good writing.
 

BucketOBalls

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Apr 5, 2009
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Bissell wants to write for Kill Screen but doesn't have the (basic) underlying understanding of games or the culture that he so desperately wants to inject into his work.

He's not good.
Never payed attention to Kill Screen, but this made me look and....yup. Sort of like Bissel, they seem to have well written, thoughtful reviews that are pretty much useless for byers.
 

Tartan

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... Except, apparently, for the ones he writes massive stories about.

Out of interest, could you provide a few examples of the work of his you like? I'd be keen to see his good writing.
I quite liked his take on "LA Noire", which was his first Grantland piece. I also really liked his book "Extra Lives".

Never payed attention to Kill Screen, but this made me look and....yup. Sort of like Bissel, they seem to have well written, thoughtful reviews that are pretty much useless for byers.
My guess is that they're not writing for buyers, at least not like 1up or IGN are. On the flip side, I doubt video games have nearly as many people clamoring for in-depth dissertations as, say, movies or TV shows do.
 

John Marzano Olympic Hero

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Here's an example of an article that I thought that I was going to like on Grantland. However, it goes nowhere.

Granted, in the title it does say it is an infographic, but I think that it could have been a really interesting read about the group of comedians who keep popping up in different shows. I know that Megan Mullalley was in "Parks and Rec" and "Children's Hospital" and a bunch of other shows, but (aside from PaR) why? Is it the simple answer that these people are funny and thus are cast in funny shows, or is it something different? They touched on it when the author said some were in the Groundlings and UCB together, but it's just a surface scratch.

And unfortunately, this is true of a lot of Grantland's stuff; great ideas but there's not a lot of follow-through.
 

weeba

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Paul F Tompkins should be on more shows regardless.

Anyone catch his appearance on Doug Loves Movies this week, as himself, Gary Marshall and Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber, all at the same time?
 

weeba

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Here's an example of an article that I thought that I was going to like on Grantland. However, it goes nowhere.

Granted, in the title it does say it is an infographic, but I think that it could have been a really interesting read about the group of comedians who keep popping up in different shows. I know that Megan Mullalley was in "Parks and Rec" and "Children's Hospital" and a bunch of other shows, but (aside from PaR) why? Is it the simple answer that these people are funny and thus are cast in funny shows, or is it something different? They touched on it when the author said some were in the Groundlings and UCB together, but it's just a surface scratch.

And unfortunately, this is true of a lot of Grantland's stuff; great ideas but there's not a lot of follow-through.
The biggest tie between all of these now seems to be the UCB theatre (mostly the LA one), The State crew and Scott Auckerman's Comedy Bang Bang podcast empire. With the exception of Forte and Huss (and maybe Martin Starr?)

Of the top of my head

Mullally - Children's Hospital, married to Nick Offerman
Scheer - UCBLA, Human Giant with Huebel (and Aziz), podcast on CBB network, Children's Hospital
Huebel - UCBLA, Children's Hospital, Human Giant
Besser - UCB founder, podcast on CBB network
Morris - UCB, CBB guest
PFT - All over every CBB podcast, UCB LA theatre
Walsh - UCB founder

You could probably throw in Adam Scott (PR, Party Down), Rob Corddry (CH), Nick Offerman (PR, CH) and Ken Marino (CH, State) on that list as well with the same number of credits each.

UCB/P&R is a big tie here, with Poheler and Ansari (he performed in LA) acting as the middle of a giant ven diagram.