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Jane Addams died at the age of 75 on May 21, 1935.

May 21, 2016

I spent a large part of my week either being on television or preparing to be on television. This is not my natural state of being. In college, we Daily Illini folk always made fun of broadcast journalism majors; they were always a little cheesier, a little more into kegs than bongs, a lot more likely to be into Seal rather than Pavement. We knew they would end up with better jobs and better lives with us, but we pitied them for this more than resented him; what we did was real, man. We were such idiots, about everything. There is no one more sanctimonious than the unaccomplished.

Anyway, regardless of how much of ass I might have been in college, television just wasn’t something that has ever much interested me, which has worked out well because television hasn’t ever had much interest in me either. I talk too fast, I constantly change my mind mid-sentence, I find it difficult to be emphatic on command. Here’s a particularly ugly early television appearance, from 2003.



I honestly do miss that hair.



But as I’ve gotten older, and become more invested in my life and my career, I’ve stopped turning down invitations to go on television and not only attempted to get better at it, I’ve even started pursuing opportunities. I would like to say this is because I find television a riveting art form now, that I’m exploring some sort of new creative space or something. But that would be a lie. I am trying to get better at television because if you are on television, people think you are more important than you actually are, and it makes it more likely that they will pay you money to write things. And as I think we make clear here every week: All I want to do is write things.

Anyway, at least hope I’ve gotten a little better. I’m at least wearing a tie now.

Here is a numerical breakdown of all the things I wrote this week, in order of what I believe to be their quality. (This is an attempt to have an objective look at the value of my work in a way that I suspect will be difficult to sustain.)

1. Uniform Ads Will Become the Norm — Soon, Sports On Earth. One of my favorite columns to write is the “I believe passionately in this thing I’m writing about ... but that very passion makes me think I’m probably wrong.” This, about the 76ers putting ads on uniforms, is a classic example. I hate the idea of having advertisements on uniforms, but just because I hate the idea doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea. In fact, that people like me hate it probably makes it a good idea.

2. Weiner: Portrait of a Marriage, The New Republic. It’s so much harder to write a review of a movie you love than it is to write one about a movie you hate, but when you get it right and you do it justice, like I tried to do here, it feels so much better than a well-struck pan. I was a little nervous Tweeting out this review because Anthony Weiner follows me on Twitter. (I like the guy.)

3. Papi Should Walk Away, Despite a Great Season, Sports On Earth. We all hit that point where we realize that our favorite athletes are all now younger than us, but I feel this acutely with Ortiz, who is almost exactly one month younger than me and, perhaps spurred by his 40th birthday last year, announced his retirement just days after it happened. The day does shake you up a little bit more than one might think.

4. The Nice Guys: A Back-to-Basics Buddy Cop Movie, The New Republic. I liked this one because I got to introduce my “the one-two punch of Tango & Cash and Turner & Hooch in 1989 destroyed the viability of the buddy-cop comedy” theory I’ve been nursing for a while.

5. Is Your Team Good, Or Is It Just Getting Lucky?, Sports On Earth. Swear, I didn’t know the Cardinals had been the unluckiest team in baseball when I sat down to write this, honest. Promise.

6. Neighbors 2: Equal Opportunity Idiocy, The New Republic. This review went up very late — the day after the movie opened, absurdly — because of an editing error, so I mostly found this piece frustrating. This movie is not good, no matter what you’re hearing.

7. Ranking the NBA Lottery Representatives, Sports On Earth. This one just didn’t quite work out how I was wanting it to. There’s a good thought in there somewhere, I’m just not sure I found it

8. ‘Weiner’ Is the Most Compelling (and Cringe-Inducing) Political Documentary of All Time, Bloomberg Politics. This is just a podcast writeup, so it’s short and not full of a lot of stuff. I haven’t written anything for Bloomberg in a while, actually; I’ve mostly just been doing the podcasts. That’ll change when I get to Cleveland, but there’s less space for weird stuff like my long feature the day Trump announced his candidacy than there used to be over there.

9. Vote in the Elite Eight of the Jersey Bracket, Sports On Earth. Seriously, Royals fans love to vote on things online.

10. Bring Some Variety to Your All-Star Ballots, Sports On Earth. When you have to go live on television for four hours and you have a column due right before you go on ... well, sometimes you’re going to have a column that’s almost entirely busywork and almost totally lacking original thought. It does have a lot of pictures, though.

Two podcasts this week. As I say every week: If you are the sort to subscribe to a weekly newsletter, I would have to think it wouldn’t be too much of a hassle to subscribe to one of the four (!) podcasts I do. Here they are:

The Will Leitch Experience, no podcast this week, back next week.

Grierson & Leitch, this week discussing “The Lobster,” “Weiner” and “The King of Comedy.”

Culture Caucus, aforementioned, about the movie “Weiner” with John Heilemann. Our guest was Barbara Morgan, who was the communications director for Weiner for Mayor and features prominently in the film.

Waitin’ Since Last Saturday, no new episode, probably won’t be for a while, but I’ll keep listed it here so you will subscribe.

It’s my wife’s birthday this weekend, so we will spend it the way we spend most weekends here in Athens: With a real chance to say awake until 11 p.m. OK, 10:30.

Have a great weekend, and be safe out there.


Best,
Will Leitch