Final Super Bowl XLVII Notes: The Baltimore Ravens will win

How do I know the Ravens will win? Read on…

Len Dawson, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback, after losing Super Bowl I

Len Dawson, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback, after losing Super Bowl I

First, the important details: Kickoff is at 6:30 pm, according to the NFL. CBS has the television and online broadcast rights, and Dial Global will have the radio broadcast. In reality, I have no idea if 6:30 represents kickoff, or just “kickoff,” and the real thing won’t happen until 7:00. I guess we’ll all find out together.

Second, before you read further, remember that if enough of you sign this petition, you don’t have to go to work tomorrow.

Third, I think our Super Bowl preview coverage over the last two weeks has been pretty good. Some highlights while you wait for “kickoff”:

Fourth, assuming you’ve covered that ground already, the best of the rest of the web:

  • When the final score doesn’t matter: How prop bets changed the way we gamble on the Super Bowl – You’ve done well to hang in this far into the post, degenerates. The prop bets themselves aren’t shocking or even chuckle-inducing anymore, but this history of how they came to be is an interesting read. (Hint: the house wins.)
  • The Best Super Bowl Documentary You’ve Never Seen – Ok, I get it. You’re ready to stop reading and watch TV. Instead of another hour of CBS’s refried game preview, this documentary is what you need. In 1976, the Bicentennial, a group of kids– including Bill Murray, Christopher Guest (aka Nigel Tufnel), and Harold Ramis (aka The Comic Genius Who Defined A Generation) took some of the first portable video cameras and had unprecedented (then or now) access to the players, fans, and everything else surrounding Super Bowl X. Lynn Swann, Johnny Unitas, and Bob Irsay all are there, among many others. It’s available at that link in four brief Youtube videos, and it’s one of the best sports things I’ve seen in recent memory.
  • Beyond Legend: Stories paint picture of real Randy Moss – A couple gems in here. Bill Murray-esque in some respects. (HT: Laura)

Fifth, as promised, your guaranteed winner tonight is the Baltimore Ravens. I admitted I’ll be cheering for San Francisco, but I have it on the best authority that the streets of Baltimore will be the ones to host a Super Bowl victory parade this year. You can read the full explanation here, but the short story is this logical truth: Norm Macdonald has a lifelong sports gambling problem; when he bets, he rarely wins; when he isn’t gambling, however, he can’t miss; he is gambling on these NFL playoffs, including the Super Bowl; a friend uncovered Norm’s early season, pre-return-to-gambling pick; by its untainted nature, that pick will be correct; that pick was Baltimore to win the Super Bowl. Unassailable. If you take it to the bank, be sure to break off part of your winnings for Norm (and me).

Enjoy the Super Bowl, everybody! Thanks for spending some of your pregame time with ALDLAND. Follow us @ALDLANDia for withering insight during the game.

The NHL is back. Here’s the best thing you can read about it.

The NHL freezeout finally thawed a few days ago, and like the slow, first drips of a spring melt, hockey writers’ earnest material is starting to trickle out. Breakdowns of the new CBA. Recommendations for how the league can bring back the fans. Wonderings about whether the league is better off as a lesser sports entity. Psychoanalyses of players who might not want to come back to the NHL. Discoveries of a beauty pageant winner’s role in the 2011 Vancouver hockey riots. Something about junior hockey championships. Remembrances of the Great One. I’ve read it all.

I’ve read it all, and it’s all fine, but none of it really satisfies. Just textual workouts over the same old themes. Nothing revelatory or even thought-provoking. None of it, at least, until the last hockey article I read, which might be the last stretch of hockey writing I read until I can get my hands on a commemorative magazine retrospective of my team’s Stanley Cup-winning run.

I don’t care if you call me biased. (Our phone lines are down anyway.) But if you dismiss this piece because I’ve declared my position on the author’s merits and you assume I prejudged the article and was going to like it and highlight it regardless, you’ll miss out on the best bit of post-most-recent-lockout hockey writing and the best swatch of sports writing in recent memory.

Norm Macdonald’s latest article is a short story in two parts– two short stories, really– with some light humor, of course, but more compellingly, real, emotional, suspenseful, rising action conveyed in absolutely compelling fashion with two lovely turns of phrase, one for each part.

I hope I haven’t over-hyped it for you the way that one girl over-hyped Shanghai Knights back in high school. Bring your expectations back to norm(al) levels and click here.

This is what is right with Grantland

Earlier, Brendan told you what’s wrong with Grantland, and I can’t sit here and say that the world needs 3,100 words on a made up basketball statistic modeled after the play of Kobe Bryant.

I’ve already outlined my thoughts about the site in general, and nothing has happened since then to make me want to walk away from my generally positive view of the site

No sooner had Brendan fired his shot across Grantland’s bow, though, than I saw a post from Grantland’s newest writer and my favorite comedian, Norm Macdonald, about how he made a New Year’s resolution to resume his crippling sports gambling habit. Norm Macdonald is what is right with Grantland, and Grantland has never been more right.


This is what is wrong with Grantland

Writing about writing about writing: Grantland
1500 words to say that Conan never was that funny and he isn’t getting funnier and TBS doesn’t seem to care
Norm Macdonald’s 2013 PGA Year in Preview

1500 words to say that Conan never was that funny and he isn’t getting funnier and TBS doesn’t seem to care

Mostly for structural technological reasons, this ALDLAND writer doesn’t watch a lot of TV. Like anyone even loosely following popular media and culture over the last few years, though, I’ve seen Conan– primarily on-demand, online, and for reasons unrelated to O’Brien himself– and have some opinion on him that I haven’t enunciated because it didn’t seem worth the effort to put into words that someone else would want to read that Conan really isn’t that funny. His move away from NBC piqued interest in the way that Charlie Sheen’s meltdown did– a spectacle was happening, and the corporate networks were openly trying to figure out how to handle it– but the only real consequence I felt was that the Mighty Max was off daily television.

Grantland’s Andy Greenwald took up the task of writing all of that (even the paragraph above feels like too much) out longhand and nearly long form. Here’s the portion I thought quote-worthy:

But after a week watching The Great Conando pant after nobodies and ding Americans for being overweight, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not the lower ratings that should concern TBS. It’s the lowered expectations. By constantly moving the goalposts and pre-apologizing for Conan’s numbers, TBS only reinforces the perception that they’re less interested in the reality of Conan as a talk show than they are in the projected fantasy of it as some sort of web-friendly content farm. (Last week, Vince Vaughn “stopped by” to debut a trailer for his new movie. Yes, the star wattage was nice, but it seemed like an awfully expensive way for TBS to involve itself in something the Internet already does well enough for free, the equivalent of priority-mailing a letter to announce an e-mail you plan on sending in the morning.) Koonin’s hands-off policy and drama-free endorsements (“He’s our Mount Rushmore”) must make for a pleasant change of pace after 17 years among the backstabbing brownshirts at NBC. But it also seems to have stripped O’Brien of his most powerful weapon: his ferocious survival instinct.

Whether he was staving off cancellation rumors with coked-up werewolves or blowing off NBC’s rescheduling plans by blowing their money, O’Brien’s comedy has always worked best when he’s fighting for his life. . . . Now, tasked with little more than delivering a modest number of age-appropriate eyeballs, O’Brien seems both stunted and settled, lavishly rewarded for doing what he loves most for a company that seems to value the end product the least. It’s been well established by now that Conan O’Brien can’t stop. But it seems he’s only transcendent when someone is trying to make him.

Which is a nice way of saying what I wrote above, I think.

I also think that the reason I find myself watching him on youtube (again, for the guests) more than his competitors (that’d be Letterman, Leno, Jimmy Kimmel, and Jimmy Fallon) is because those comedians who seem to be smart (Louie, Norm, Tracy, Will) also seem to really respect Conan, and they seem to elicit honest, non-Guy Smiley reactions from Conan, and those do add to the experience of watching the guest.

Although maybe that’s really just a Norm thing.

Time to retire #27?

When British singer Amy Winehouse died late last month of as-yet-unknown causes, media sources were surprisingly quick to note the significance of her age at death, twenty-seven years old, the same age at which a number of the most famous Western musicians died. The following is a briefly annotated list of the members of the so-called “27 Club,” with a couple notable mentions for those who nearly qualified.

(Unsurprisingly, the cause of death of many of these individuals is not entirely clear, so I’ll include the official cause of death, along with any other rumored causes, as available.) Keep reading…

First Run

There’s nothing like a serious undertaking to motivate unserious writing, and so ALDLAND was born. This site will be secondary to my more serious project and tertiary to my meta-/-emotional project, and I will aim to offer shorter, lighter commentary, primarily on sports and other popular culture and media.

Over the last few years, sports have become a more frequent diversion from my more serious and professional pursuits, using all of those adjectives loosely. If I had been more committed, I probably would’ve picked historically (or potentially prospectively) successful teams as my favorites. Luckily, friendships have allowed me to personally observe fans of the successful.

Not owning a TV, pop culture– by this, I of course mean reality television– is even less known to me, but as with sports, I have committed friends who keep me in the loop about the realest shows.

I’m hoping this can be casual and fun. Norm Macdonald is more of a sportswriter than I am, even if his new sports show got cancelled, (pop culture reference), and I am (fortunately) employed in a field for which I trained and that is not sports writing. Some combination of the things mentioned in this paragraph and things not mentioned in this paragraph led to me taking in much more sports coverage than actual sports viewing (did I mention I don’t have a TV?) over the last few years, so the derivative posture is a comfortable one.

It would be nice to develop this into a multi-author platform (polyphonic spree?). Signal me if you’d like to participate.

This post likely will self destruct in a week or two or just get moved somewhere else. And if I could get rid of these orange hyperlinks, I’d call that a good start.