the Super Bowl

Some years ago, I got a call from NFL Films, from a man named Steve Sabol. Yes, he realized I was English by birth and might not know much about American football. So I explained to him that I had arrived in San Francisco in September 1981 at the start of the season in which the 49ers won their first Super Bowl—their first of five. Mr. Sabol was encouraged, but he had called me because he’d read some writing about movies that I had done. I believe I had compared Joe Montana and Gary Cooper in the way they gazed at space. That was his kind of dream.

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Steve Jobs made product launches into media events. Now those same Apple rollouts determine the schedules of a bunch of other companies.

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Bloomberg has an absolutely terrific piece of reporting out today about how the big banks have mobilized to water down the Volcker Rule—the reform measure designed to prevent federally-backed banks from placing bets for their own bottom line. Here’s the gist: To make their case in Washington, banks and trade associations have been pressing a coordinated campaign to get regulators from five federal agencies to scale back the draft of the proprietary-trading rule issued in October, according to public and internal documents and interviews.

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Mitt's Content Farm

One of the more dispiriting assaults on the written word in recent years was the advent of the "content farm," Web sites that spat out low-cost, high-volume copy written solely to manipulate Google's search algorithms to maximize "uniques" (i.e., readers) and thereby boost ad rates. Even journalism sites like the Huffington Post resorted to this trick ("What Time Does The Super Bowl Start?").

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The Last Word

On January 30, 2000, Kurt Vonnegut was sitting in the study of his Manhattan brownstone, watching the Super Bowl. During the first quarter, he put out his cigarette and went downstairs to get some food. Somehow, his trash can caught on fire. Vonnegut, who was then 77, rushed upstairs and tried to beat the flames out with a blanket, but he couldn’t save the study. He spent four days in the hospital for smoke inhalation.

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Between the Eminem Chrysler commercial during the Super Bowl and today’s Washington Post front page profile of Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, there’s been a bit of a Motor City boomlet over the last couple of days. Bing, 21 months into his term, has famously promised to examine any and all avenues to getting troubled Detroit back on the path of fiscal and economic sustainability. So far that’s included a light rail project, corridor clean-ups, and a hard look at what “right-sizing” the city might entail. But for all the casting about for solutions, some things are simply off the table.

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Groupon’s humor has always been somewhat edgy, as I’ve noted before. But many people think that the company, which offers daily online discounts to various businesses in subscribers’ local area, went too far with their Super Bowl ads.

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This past summer, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell found himself facing a situation every authority figure dreads. His reputation hinged on how he handled a greasy-haired young man sitting in front of him, brandishing a smirk. The lug in question was Ben Roethlisberger, the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback, who had been accused of rape for the second time in a year, in this instance by a 20-year-old college student in Georgia. Arming himself for the conversation, Goodell had talked to two dozen other players, including other Steelers.

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Among the many distinctions David Axelrod has achieved in his career, there is one that requires special elaboration: He is, it turns out, one of the few customers to have ever run a tab at Manny’s, the Chicago cafeteria and deli. This is not because the odd knish ($4.25) or side of potato chips ($0.75) threatened to leave him cash-poor. It is, rather, because Axelrod has long styled himself someone who accumulates wisdom at places regular people frequent, not the lacquered haunts of downtown Washington. What the Oval Room is to Beltway consultant-dom, Manny’s is to Axelrod.

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Over at the World Cup Blog, Stefan Fatsis is again full of soccer triumphalism: A poster named “Irishman” puts it nicely: “The USA has the extraordinary luck to be both Germanic and Hispanic, black and white and brown, African and European and Asian, all in one driven national character.” Progress is uncertain for every national side, but it’s highly likely for the U.S. Irishman quoted Gandhi: “First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win.” To which JustinO replied: “First they ignore you (to 1989). Then they laugh at you (1990-2001).

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