I wasn’t quite as prolific in 2013 as I was in 2012, as this will be “only” the 72nd post on this blog this year. However, part of that had to do with the fact that I’ve been writing for three other outlets on a regular basis (Cover 32, Hogs Haven, and A New Voice), plus some occasional work elsewhere (Uproxx).
So, there’s my lame excuse.
Still, of those five dozen or so items, there are several I like quite a bit (or at least find amusing). Here’s a look back at the stuff I liked best in 2013. As always, I’ll go in chronological order:
About Last Night (1/11): I started the year off on a high note, taking a trip to New York City after being secretly tipped off by old friend (and talented performer) Joey Bland that none other than Sir Patrick Stewart would be a surprise player in their Improvised Shakespeare Company show one random Thursday night. This is my account of that incredible evening.
Will High School Sports Exist in 2043? (1/31): As our society (or at least taste-makers) are increasingly less-inclined to value the “risk” portion of the “risk/reward” proposition, I question whether youth sports will continue to have the level of importance they do today a generation from now. More to the point, I wonder if youth sports will become increasingly specialized, and an activity that schools consider to be too much of a liability, no matter how much benefit or pride they bring to a community.
What Media Bias Looks Like (2/11): The accusation of “salting” the news to favor a particular side isn’t one born in 2013. However, when the media got its hands on polling data related to trust in various news outlets, the presentation of that data offered a fairly sharp example of what media bias looks like (and what it does not look like).
Saving Our Skins (2/21): Ah, yes. Probably my most widely-read post of 2013, this one makes the case for the non-racism of the “Redskins” nickname, as well as delving into broader ideas of how our society reacts to “offensive” speech. This one produced a volley of stock insults ranging from “word salad” to mere “HAHAHAHAHAHA” from predictable, progressive, not-sure-if-they-actually-enjoy-sports, strident voices within the blogosphere. So, I must have done something right!
About That Onion Tweet (2/25): Offensive speech and free speech in an open society would be recurring themes here in 2013, and the next example concerned a now-forgotten tweet by The Onion. This was an example of an outlet being bitten by its own politically-correct “snake” after telling an edgy joke that most people who objected didn’t understand in the first place.
The Child’s Constitution (3/5): Anyone who has read this site for any length of time realizes that I’m a conlaw nerd. One of the great intellectual frustrations of my life is that the media, which probably doesn’t know any better, and legal experts, who should know better, do such a crummy job of presenting basic principles of constitutional law to the public. It behooves them to present this simplistic version of constitutional rights because it meshes with the ideology in which most of them believe. But that doesn’t mean they’re right.
Turf War (3/13): I was doing my weekly grocery shopping, meandering down the cereal aisle without a care in the world, when I stopped dead in my tracks, realizing that the world as we knew it was about to change forever.
Understanding Scalia (3/27): As a sort of (longer, probably better) companion piece to “The Child’s Constitution,” this one explains and defends the legacy and philosophy of Justice Antonin Scalia, someone used as a boogeyman by the Left. What amuses me most is that the most bitter criticisms of Scalia normally come from folks who have the weakest understanding of constitutional law.
Imbeciles React to Justin Verlander’s Contract Extension (4/2): Whooo, boy. If you think conlaw gets me fired up, just see how I react when dumb people get angry over the fact that someone super-talented makes money doing something they don’t think is important. Bon appetit, dummies!
The Worst Commercial on Television (4/25): Commercials are often a telling reflection of the values of a society at a given moment in history. Unfortunately, more than I’d like to admit, this commercial is who we are right now.
An Incomplete List of Words Katy Perry Has Attempted to Rhyme (5/2): Hey, they don’t all have to be weighty. I’m silly at heart.
Imbeciles React to a Story About Swimming (5/8): I think the reason I haven’t done more in the “Imbeciles React to . . .” series is that reading the Facebook comments for whatever story is at issue just hurts my head. Anyway, this one concerned a story about the disproportionate drowning problem among blacks. You can probably guess where this
went spiraled out of control.
One Long, Last Look at The Office (5/17): Longtime readers will recall my recurring “SitCombat” series. This is essentially the final “SitCombat” piece. I had a like / hate relationship with The Office, as watching it shifted from being a mild pleasure to a little bit of a chore.
A Subtle Lesson of the Woolwich Attack (5/23): A careful examination of some of the details of the grisly terror attack in London provided an important lesson about American values.
Has Arrested Development Made a Huge Mistake? (5/24): As the improbable fourth season of my favorite 21st-century sitcom approached, I pondered whether the comeback would be a net positive or negative. For you Redskins fans, I analogized the return to Joe Gibbs’ second act.
It’s the Little Things (6/19): In each of the last three years, there has been one wrestling promo that has achieved some kind of transcendent entertainment value. This year, Mark Henry joined CM Punk and Chris Jericho in that category. He did so with a memorable retirement speech that’s worthy of a second (or, in my case, fiftieth) look.
NCAA Football without the “NCAA” (7/18): As a fan of both the NCAA Football series and intellectual property, I discussed the implications of EA Sports’ decision to cease production of their popular college football game due to the now-cloudy status of the players’ right of publicity. There are also some shoulder-dislocating pats on my own back to be had, here, as I reference an article I wrote in law school that predicted much of what we’ve seen on this front in the last couple of years.
15 Things I Learned from the “G. I. Joe: The Movie” Commentary Track (7/31): I purchased the blu-ray of the 1987 animated film G. I. Joe: The Movie primarily because of the commentary track offered courtesy of longtime story consultant Buzz Dixon. It exceeded expectations.
An Incomplete List of Things That Are Not Bullying (8/8): Bullying was another hot topic on the blog this year, as well as in popular culture at large. In this piece, I reviewed (and dismissed) the slew of recent examples of the media or a public figure referring to something as “bullying” in order to curry favor by using a sensitive buzzword that the public had been conditioned to respect.
Closing the Book (8/23): This was my farewell interview as I moved into an emeritus role after writing for VirginiaPreps.com for more than a decade. It was probably my favorite thing in the (loosely-defined) “podcast” category this year.
Breaking Bad Finale Thoughts and Scorecard (9/29): As with The Office, I offered some parting words on a much different show. Breaking Bad is on my “Mount Rushmore” of modern dramas for a reason. I thought the finale was outstanding – a fitting end to an amazing series.
When Everything is Bullying, Nothing is Bullying (10/11): This one was a melding of my bullying articles from earlier in the year with the “Imbeciles React to . . .” format. Local media is pretty stupid, but it’s unclear whether it’s done out of honest stupidity or executed as a purposeful method of pandering to viewers the station knows to be stupid.
Blockbuster Block-busted (11/18): This was an expanded version of an article I wrote for A New Voice. I talked about the shuttering of the last Blockbuster Video store, and how quickly things that seem so integral to our life experience can simply cease to exist. Seems a fitting way to close out the year.
Overall, 2013 produced some good content, but I’ll freely admit that, with two Redskins columns per week, plus political / cultural writing over at ANV, this blog sometimes took a backseat to things I wrote elsewhere. However, I did exceed one item per week, which has always been my self-imposed quota.
Happy New Year!