Category Archives: Blogging

/In re: Rick Reilly’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Defense of the Washington Redskins

This pretty much sums it up.

This pretty much sums it up.

Rick Reilly, a columnist for ESPN, recently posted an op-ed defending the name and mascot of the Washington Redskins. Read it, ye mighty, and despair. Kissing Suzy Kolber’s response is funnier and more biting, but David Zirin’s offers more salient counter-examples. Read both for a full picture of just how misguided Reilly’s column really is.

It’s not even that there should or shouldn’t be a controversy about the name. It’s that Reilly’s column doesn’t show a hint of nuance, context, or understanding of how race and culture actually work. His position is odious, but it’s also badly and inconsistently argued.

A few things that I haven’t seen mentioned (yet) in the collective Internet’s swift excoriation:

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/Twerk: Busy Badgers

Some badgers just want to watch the world burn.

Some badgers just want to watch the world burn.

Freelancing full time means that I’ve had to move away from — or at least spend less time on — the kinds of bizarre-o criticism and essays I cut my teeth on. My professional career started at the Sewanee Review, for example, and it’s not every Gears of War piece that opens with a T. S. Eliot epigraph.  Until recently, getting weird was my go-to critical lens, where “weird” means anything  besides consumer-facing previews and reviews.

Instead, in an effort to flex some under-used muscle (and also feed myself) I’ve been reviewing a lot, with a brief Icelandic séjour to cover CCP’s Fanfest.

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/Twerk: All the Things

Year Walk

It’s been almost three months since my last linkdump: I’ve had a few interesting pieces posted at my regular haunts since then and managed to creep into some new outlets, too.

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/Twerk: Machinarium, Borderlands 2, content degradation

Liara

I’ve been busy lately — I started a triweekly column (that is, every three weeks) at Bit Creature and had a piece published at Unwinnable.

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/Scraps: FC Barcelona

This is the introduction of an essay I wrote that would later become the piece published in Paste Magazine last month (which I’m quite proud of, by the way). It’s more or less a festschrift on the Pep Guardiola era of FC Barcelona.

While I was pitching the piece to editors, this section was called “artsy faff” that is “largely meaningless to anyone not intimately familiar with soccer, but is also so flowery that it becomes nearly impenetrable.” That’s actually useful criticism, but I like to use every part of the hog, even the parts left on the cutting room floor. I blame Brian Phillips.

Camp Nou, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

Sportswriter Sid Lowe once asked Catalan midfielder Xavi Hernandez,  who plays for Spain and F.C. Barcelona, how he deals with defenders. Xavi replied:

Think quickly, look for spaces. That’s what I do: look for spaces. All day. I’m always looking. All day, all day. [Xavi starts gesturing as if he is looking around, swinging his head]. Here? No. There? No. People who haven’t played don’t always realise how hard that is. Space, space, space. It’s like being on the PlayStation.

Xavi’s response seems obvious: passing the ball is fundamental to soccer. But it’s also the teleological apex for Xavi, the Barcelona team he captains, and the recently-ascendant tiki-taka style he champions. That’s what I do, he says — not only now, but always.

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/Twerk: Dragon Age II

At a (relatively) recent press event in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, I got a chance to play about four hours of Dragon Age II and to interview a few members of the development team. I got fifteen minutes each with lead designer Mike Laidlaw, lead writer David Gaider, and art director Matt Goldman.

After transforming — as if by alchemy — twenty pages of transcribed audio into eight articles and almost 8,000 words. I’ve wrapped up my pre-release coverage of the game for Destructoid. It’s probably the most extensive project I’ve ever done, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say I wasn’t proud of it, dozens of angry comments notwithstanding.

I did a traditional preview. I asked about downloadable content and the internet’s collective backlash against the game; and  about changes from the original, especially its art and story structure and new morality mechanics. I learned about how BioWare used it’s player data to refine its development process; and under which lineage Dragon Age II might fall.

I’m not sure if squeezing blood from a stone is a marketable skill, but it’s almost certainly been done here.

/Design as reconciliation

"Identity"-Einat Kayless Argaman

It’s not as though I’ve kept my love for international affairs secret, or the fact that I think a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine should be a global priority — I had a good rant about it some time ago.  The issue is particularly salient in light of the recently stagnating peace talks between Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. A friend and I had a discussion last weekend about how to reconcile sympathy for the Jewish cause with their relatively aggressive presence in the region.

Though the peace talks themselves are at a standstill, reconciliation can be found at the grassroots level — for example, the popular  program Seeds of Peace and the lesser-known Sadaka Reut, both of which work to bring Palestinian and Israeli youth together in summer programs and outreach trips, or the Bereaved Parents’ Circle, a support group for Palestinian and Israeli parents who have lost children in the conflict.

And then there’s this typeface.

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