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Tom Clancy died at the age of 66 on October 1, 2013.

October 1, 2016

Last week, for no reason at all, Yahoo! Mail stopped working. Now, the odds are excellent that you knew nothing about this, because you are a cogent, sentient human being who, if you ever used Yahoo! Mail in the first place, quit doing so roughly a decade or so ago. Yahoo! Mail is a terrible email client. It redesigns from one counterintuitive interface to another every few months, it runs so many desperate ads on its homepage that it’s legitimately difficult to find actual messages from your friends and colleagues, it’ll randomly stop downloading messages into the iPhone’s Mail app for several days for no reason and, most irritating, every couple of months it will simply stop delivering messages at all. This has happened consistently for the entire 15 years that I have used it, and I assume it always will. It is terrible, terrible, terrible: All it does is cause me pain.

And yet: I will never stop using Yahoo! Mail. Yahoo! Mail – which, I remind you, is owned by a company that is responsible for the worst experience of my professional career, a company whose name turns my lip into a snarl – is the first webpage I open every morning and the last one I look at every night. It is always open in my browser. The odds are excellent that when I die, I will have looked at Yahoo! Mail (or ZaPPaP! or whatever the hell it will be called then) within the previous 15 minutes. It is as indispensible to my professional life as the QWERTY keyboard and my lack of need for extended hours of sleep.

This is for several reasons:

  • I am stubborn.
  • I don’t like Gmail’s design, and I never have. People send me emails, and I respond to them. We are not having “conversations.”
  • It’s my default login at many other sites I’ve been using for a decade.
  • I have every email I’ve sent since 2000 saved in my Yahoo! Mail.
  • Once I commit to something, even if that something becomes something terrible, I will never, ever let go of it.


This last one, I’m discovering as I get older, is a bit of a motif for me. You could make a strong argument that my perception of the planet froze around, oh, 2005 (or 1994, for that matter), and everything I was doing then I insist on still doing now. People are often asking me how I remain as productive as I am on a weekly basis – that was an oddly Trumpian/humblebrag construction, I realize; people are asking! I’m just sitting idly by as they stand in awe! – and the reason is that I am an obsessive creature of habit. I keep a strict calendar that from which I try never to waver, I find something I like and just do that thing over and over and I stick with them forever, even if I don’t like them anymore. There is comfort in repetition, and routine, and order. I am the guy who has been going to same deli and ordering the same thing for 45 years. I am essentially 40 going on 73.

Yahoo! Mail is the best example of this. But there are others.

  • iTunes music. I know that streaming services are more efficient, and cheaper, and don’t, you know, randomly delete whole bootleg albums just because it doesn’t fit their wretched iTunes Match service. But I started buying albums through iTunes a decade ago and therefore continue to do the same today, even though there’s little financial reason to do so and occasionally it has about as many bugs as Yahoo! Mail. Oh, for that matter:


That’s actually a pretty old one. I don’t want to take a picture of the one I’m using right now but know that the minute I finish this newsletter I’ll be checking it off the list.

  • Buying individual albums. Sorry! I know we’re supposed to steal it or just spend pennies a month to stream it. But I like my albums. Sorry.
  • Steno pads for to-do lists. There are a million Notes apps, or iOS calendars, or all sorts of newfangled ways to keep your life organized. But I insist on the same SHIT TO GIT DUN daily checklists – as well as taking notes during interviews – that I’ve been doing for 20 years. Here’s a sample one:
  • Email box zero. My email box is always at zero. I respond to every email and keep all important ones in folders specifically created for that purpose. If I still have an email hanging around in my Inbox overnight, I have difficulty going to sleep.
  • Meat Loaf. Still buy every album!


Keep rocking, Mr. Aday!

  • RSS readers. My aversion to Google products kept me away from Google Reader, but I still use the same RSS reader – NetNewsWire – that I was using when I ran Deadspin. Most sites don’t even bother with an RSS feed anymore. But I still check that thing every day.
  • Woody Allen. The new show is indeed pretty terrible, though some of the movies of late haven’t been as bad as everyone wants to make them out to be. But either way: I’ve seen every one of his movies at least twice and you’ll have to drag me screaming out of the theater opening weekend. It’s a sickness. But I still think the next one’s going to be his career-culminating masterpiece, every time.
  • The New York Knicks. Also, I think they’re going to win a playoff series every year. Definitely part of the problem here.
  • “The Walking Dead.” I have no idea why I keep thinking this show is ever going to get good.


We all have these things. I’m sure I have a ton more. I’m sure I have too many.

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. Obit Writing Is Harder Than It Seems, Sports On Earth. This piece was extremely difficult to get right, and I’m still not sure I did. But on weeks like this one, when (as you will see) I am extremely busy, I’m glad I still have the energy to try something a little ambitious and a little rawer and a little riskier. We discussed this piece on NPR’s “Only a Game” this morning; you can hear it here.
  2. Bryan Price Lived Out a Manager’s Nightmare, Sports On Earth. Whatever your thoughts about replay or how this game went down, trying to hunt down an umpire who has messed up a call to screw your team, and not being able to find him, is essentially Baseball Kafka.
  3. S.C. Gwynne’s ‘The Perfect Pass’ Celebrates the Men Who Reinvented Football, The Wall Street Journal. This is a terrific book about football innovation and Hal Mumme and Mike Leach that I simply attempted to do justice.
  4. “Crisis In Six Scenes” Episode 1: Don’t Make the TV Show Incoherent, Decider. I’m writing about every episode of Woody’s new show for Decider. Episode Two is up Saturday afternoon. In case you’re one of the people watching this.
  5. “Deepwater Horizon:” Fire on the Water, The New Republic. I haven’t seen American Honey, which is the big heralded release of the weekend, but this one’s pretty good too.
  6. Picking MLB’s End-of-Season Awards, Sports On Earth. I’m mostly just happy I was allowed to spend my first paragraph explaining my thoughts about professional trade organizations.
  7. Playoff Dossier: Boston Red Sox, Sports On Earth. Here comes a bunch of these.
  8. Playoff Dossier: Los Angeles Dodgers, Sports On Earth. I like writing these.
  9. Playoff Dossier: Cleveland Indians, Sports On Earth. They help me get ready for the tsunami of work that is October.
  10. Playoff Dossier: Washington Nationals, Sports On Earth. I’m actually gonna do these for the wild-card teams too.
  11. Playoff Dossier: Texas Rangers, Sports On Earth. This one is last because I got the Rangers’ ALDS third starter wrong.
  12. MLB’s Final Day of the Season Will Thrill, Sports On Earth. I think I did this column a day or two early. I’ll be at Turner Field on Sunday, surely refreshing the Cardinals game.
  13. Every MLB Team Still Has Something to Play For, Sports On Earth. This was kind of a dumb idea for a column. But even on days where I don’t have anything, I still gotta write! It’s my curse. You understand literature, movies, wine … but you don’t understand my plight.
  14. Hamilton’s Rory O’Malley Breaks Down Clinton’s Virtuoso Debate Performance, Bloomberg Politics. My writeup of an extremely enjoyable podcast.
  15. Which World Series Winning Team Was the Best? Sports On Earth. Down to 32.

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:

Grierson & Leitch, chatting about “The Magnificent Seven,” “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” and “Shakes the Clown.”

The Will Leitch Experience, talking about Tim Tebow, the wild-card race and the tragedy of Jose Fernandez with Alyson Footer.

Culture Caucus, back weekly now, and we had a great one, chatting with Rory O’Malley, the guy who plays King George in “Hamilton.” This one is a fun one.

Waitin’ Since Last Saturday, recapping Georgia’s first loss of the season and previewing today’s game against Tennessee.

I’m about to leave for that exact game – more accurately, its tailgate – right now. There is much bourbon in my future. When you speak of me, speak well.

Here is my father drinking a beer after that crazy Cardinals-Reds game on Thursday, by the way. Live fully, folks.