Write By Me

I'm a storyteller from Oklahoma.

Round-up of fine sentences, part 51

Dorner had disappeared again. The Cavalier driver, Jack Chilson, had tried to pursue him but had grown afraid and stopped.

From just feet away, he had seen Dorner firing at the patrol car. He had seen the bullets punch a circle in the window the size of a paper plate.

He noticed Dorner had been wearing a heavy camouflage jacket and wraparound goggles. It looked like he had been grinning.

- The Los Angeles Times

There was no eulogy or last words. The claw of a yellow CAT excavator dug into the corner of the Waffle House roof. With a crunch muffled by the rain, it all crashed down — the walls, the support beams, the fluffs of pink insulation.

The claw rose again and took its next bite. Chunk by chunk, the Waffle House became rubble. 

- Jessica Contrera

The media has long had its struggles with the truth—that’s nothing new. What is new is that we’re barely even apologizing for increasingly considering the truth optional. In fact, the mistakes, and the falsehoods, and the hoaxes are a big part of a business plan driven by the belief that big traffic absolves all sins, that success is a primary virtue. Haste and confusion aren’t bugs in the coding anymore, they’re features. Consider what Ryan Grim, Washington bureau chief for the Huffington Post, told The New York Times in its recent piece on a raft of hoaxes, including Gale’s kerfuffle, a child’s letter to Santa that included a handwritten Amazon URL, and a woman who wrote about her fictitious poverty so effectively that she pulled in some $60,000 in online donations. “The faster metabolism puts people who fact-check at a disadvantage,” Grim said. “If you throw something up without fact-checking it, and you’re the first one to put it up, and you get millions and millions of views, and later it’s proved false, you still got those views. That’s a problem. The incentives are all wrong.”

In other words, press “Publish” or perish.

- Luke O’Neil

On the late shift, death was creaking doors and footsteps on shiny linoleum, the muffled thud of something falling off of a shelf down the corridor. It was the groans and whimpers of patients in other rooms carrying through the hallways of the ICU. It was the hand on the wall clock tick-, tick-, ticking, a chair back thumping against metal and breaking the silence in the room, the sunlight creeping deliberately across the floor and up to Susan’s blanket. It was the bubbling of a ventilator, the phlegm in her throat choking her snore while she slept, the warning sound of something beeping that hadn’t before, a light that started to flicker, a twinge of cold in the room. We didn’t know what death would sound like, or when it would come. We just knew that it would.

- Justin Heckert

The meetings continued, relentless. Incomplete family after incomplete family came to see Feinberg, usually in his New York office. He asked his quiet and gentle younger brother, David, who runs the business end of his practice, if he wanted to begin sitting in on the sessions as a kind of emotional ballast, almost as a counterweight. “I was able to get through one,” David Feinberg says today. “I said, ‘Ken, I can’t do this.’ It was a woman, there were children, they had a photo album, they were all crying. I barely made it through.” Feinberg’s administrative and logistical right hand, a woman of pure competence named Camille Biros—they have worked together now for more than thirty years, since they crossed paths in Ted Kennedy’s Senate office—began taking her turn. “One stands out, this beautiful young woman, maybe twenty-one or twenty-two,” Biros says today. The woman was among the youngest of the September 11 widows, and she brought a lawyer and her young daughter to her hearing. She didn’t say much of anything during the meeting, letting her lawyer do the talking for her, and she remained almost oddly composed. When the session was over, Biros took her by the arm to walk her out, but instead the young widow walked over to the room’s long glass wall and its soaring view of Manhattan. She looked down. “They must have been awfully scared when they jumped from the windows,” she said, before she crumpled to the floor.

- Chris Jones

An entire country mourned, but here the news hit like a death in the family. Not just the sudden, incomprehensible loss of a president who embodied youth and vitality. But the murder of one of their own.

The boy from Brookline who learned to swim and sail on the Cape; who studied in Connecticut and Cambridge; who recovered from the war in Chelsea; who married in Newport; who knocked on their doors seeking votes in Everett and Charlestown, attended their VFW suppers and first communion breakfasts, captured their hearts with his wit and grace, his intensity and humor, his looks and charisma.

They knew him, loved him, worshipped him here. He was the first Catholic in the White House, and even more, an Irish Catholic descended from potato-famine refugees and pick-and-shovel laborers — his portrait on so many mantels. He was their president in a way he could never be anyone else’s.

- Eric Moskowitz

The best shots remain airborne forever, in driveways and alleys, at parks and YMCAs, amateur imitations of Magic Johnson’s junior skyhook over the Celtics, Reggie Miller's turnaround against the Knicks, Michael Jordan's step-back versus the Jazz. They live in dusty old gyms like the one at Santa Monica High, where on a warm November morning, a 64-year-old former professor and Air Force intelligence officer strides across the key to the right corner. He glances down at the strip of hardwood separating the three-point line from the sideline and marvels at how narrow it is. Someone shooting from that corner would have only three feet to leap and land-not much room for a man who is, say, 6' 5” and wears size-15 sneakers. It's like asking a giant to do gymnastics on a wire. “This son of a gun sprints all the way back here, turns his body, gets his balance, takes his time and sets up perfectly,” the professor says. “He can't rush it. He has to follow through. And he does it all because he's done it a million times before. He's waited his whole life for this shot.” Then Gregg Popovich pantomimes the stroke that broke his heart.

- Lee Jenkins

Affleck: Robin wanted to get a taste of Boston. I remember thinking, This is a fucking mistake. I mean, you gotta remember Whitey Bulger was still around and running things. And then it just turns into a mob scene. Guys got really drunk and wanted to fight me because I had my hat on backwards.

Williams: I remember this guy came up with a heavy Irish accent, I couldn’t understand a word he was saying, and another guy, a Southie guy, said, “He wants to know where your private plane is.”

- Boston Magazine

… the federal government, in an unthinkable development that we cannot even think about, partially shuts down. The result is a catastrophe of near-sequester proportions. Within hours wolves are roaming the streets of major U.S. cities, and bacteria the size of mature salmon are openly cavorting in the nation’s water supply. In the Midwest, thousands of cows, no longer supervised by the Department of Agriculture, spontaneously explode. Yellowstone National Park — ALL of it — is stolen. In some areas gravity stops working altogether, forcing people to tie themselves to trees so they won’t float away. With the nation virtually defenseless, the Bermudan army invades the East Coast, within hours capturing Delaware and most of New Jersey.

By day 17, the situation has become so dire that Congress, resorting to desperate measures, decides to actually do something. It passes, and the president signs, a law raising the debt ceiling, thereby ensuring that the federal government can continue spending spectacular quantities of money that it does not have until the next major totally unforeseeable government financial crisis, scheduled for February 2014.

- Dave Barry

And there are at least as many strategies for beer pong as there are for negotiating life itself. 

- Michael Mooney

Chanel’s fury mounts. She reaches for the same words every time, the kind that echo for days in Dasani’s head.

Dasani always gotta have the answer.

She think she special.

She think she some-fucking-body.

She nobody.

Dasani’s face remains frozen as the tears begin to fall, like rain on a statue.

- Andrea Elliott

The brain is a part of the body. It’s an organ. It’s a physical thing. Sometimes it breaks. Sometimes it breaks because you beat it against the inside of your skull so hard playing football,1 and sometimes — because it’s unimaginably intricate, the brain, way more intricate than even a modified read-option — it breaks for reasons that are harder to see. Your ability to chortle “boys will be boys” doesn’t mean that psychological abuse of the sort that Martin apparently endured can’t widen that kind of fracture. But then, does the cause even matter?

- Brian Phillips

“I guess they’re just going to have to get over it.”

Getting over it, it turns out, hasn’t proved all that easy.

Since that night in January, Daisy has been in regular therapy. She has been admitted to a Smithville hospital four times and spent 90 days at Missouri Girls Town, a residential facility for struggling teens.

Last May, shortly after returning home from college, Charlie found his sister collapsed in the family’s bathroom, where she had ingested a bottle of depression medication.

It was her second suicide attempt in the past two years.

But instead they sat at the table and watched as the waiter brought the boy a gigantic waffle covered in powdered sugar, berries and whipped cream. They watched as the waiter stuck a candle into the center of that waffle, and as the mother sang “Happy Birthday” and took a picture with her phone. They watched as the boy swept his fingers through the whipped cream, smearing it across his mouth and face while his mother laughed. “You’re so silly,” she said.

This boy, who had ended up in the other first-grade class at Sandy Hook Elementary.

This boy, who had hidden in the other bathroom.

“Oh God,” Jackie said, shoulders trembling, questions and doubts tumbling out as she tried to catch her breath. “Why did we wait to enroll him in school?” she said. “He could have started a year earlier. He could have been in second grade. He was old enough.”

- Eli Saslow

Aging means losing things, and not just eyesight and flexibility. It means watching the accomplishments of your youth be diminished, maybe in your own eyes through perspective, maybe in the eyes of others through cultural amnesia. Most people live anonymous lives, and when they grow old and die, any record of their existence is blown away. They’re forgotten, some more slowly than others, but eventually it happens to virtually everyone. Yet for the few people in each generation who reach the very pinnacle of fame and achievement, a mirage flickers: immortality. They come to believe in it. Even after Jordan is gone, he knows people will remember him. Here lies the greatest basketball player of all time. That’s his epitaph. When he walked off the court for the last time, he must have believed that nothing could ever diminish what he’d done. That knowledge would be his shield against aging.

- Wright Thompson

As he went, he felt the energy drain from his body. His kicks and strokes were weakening. The sun rose higher, and the skin on his face and neck began to blister and burn. Then, at the top of one swell, impossibly, he spotted the Anna Mary, less than a quarter-mile in front of him. Mike Migliaccio was standing on the roof, and Aldridge hollered with all the strength he could muster. He tried to throw the buoy up in the air to attract attention, but the boat was too far away. For the second time that day, Aldridge watched as the Anna Mary receded into the distance without him, and he began to contemplate the reality he’d kept at bay in his mind for all these hours, that no matter what he did, he might not be rescued after all.

- Paul Tough

Peterson was always the last to forgive himself, and he was suddenly lost in the tunnel. Again, it was all or nothing.

Officers raced down the narrow road. They found the silver truck parked near the gate. Earlier that day, Peterson had purchased a shotgun, and police found shells in the bed of the truck. About 25 feet away they spotted Peterson’s body. He was done flipping, finished flying, through fighting.

Larking, too, found his young friend changed in several ways on his return. Much more serious than he had been, Tamerlan insisted that Larking grow a beard, “to honor the prophet Mohammed.” Larking complied. He also pressed Larking to remove his wedding ring, saying that most Muslims did not wear gold, but Larking refused. The last time Larking and Tamerlan sat together in the rear of the mosque, Tamerlan once again mentioned the voices in his head. This time, as Larking recalled it, he seemed afraid.

“He said, ‘Someone is in my brain, telling me stuff to do,’ ” recalled Larking. “He said he was trying to ignore it but it was hard to do. Whatever it was he was being told to do, he didn’t want to do it.”

The Boston Globe

Round-up of fine sentences, part 50

And a strange, rotten bit of fish it seemed to this new pack, though they, too, had been young in ‘72. They were in schools, or coming out to first jobs. They, too, had long hair, and tight pants over slender legs … and if sex were money, they all would have been rich.

- Richard Ben Cramer

Let’s stay here for a moment. We’ve got two children who’ve just taken a dagger. They don’t yank out the dagger. Someone might see it. Besides, if they leave it there, maybe nobody can put another one in. And so scar tissue begins to form around it. They don’t realize it, but the dagger soon becomes part of who they are. They end up protecting it, in a way, rather than pulling it out to look at it and learn about it. They end up dedicating their lives to hiding it-strategizing, lying, manipulating others to make sure their eyes go somewhere else: to the strong, smart, confident, golden children they both seem to be. Fabricating who I thought I should be, R.A. would say later, and trying to live up to that.

- Gary Smith in SI

I find Lance Armstrong reprehensible for having passed off fiction as documentary. Two dear friends of mine had their bodies sliced up, pumped with chemicals and radiated, but they still wasted away before my eyes and died, the disease feasting on their bones like soft fruit, flooding their lungs, robbing them of their voices and keen intellects and finally stopping their generous hearts. I am and will always be more moved by the bravery they demonstrated while losing than I would ever be by the amoral celebrity who “beat” cancer.

- Bonnie Ford

Jack got a burst of energy every time he touched the ball. No matter what the defenders did, they just weren’t there. Faith Baptist was double- and triple-teaming him. He was calm. He was apart from himself, and the numbers. But he knew what he wanted. He wanted to score. Everything felt very slow, and he began not to worry about making or missing. He just wanted to shoot, and deal with the numbers later.

- Justin Heckert

A few minutes later, Schrader yelled cut. The crew packed up. Pope went to check on Lohan. He noticed that she and Gavin had been drinking, which was understandable for a young woman shooting a sex scene with three porn stars. Quietly, Pope told Lohan that he could get her a driver to take her home. But she refused, jumped into her Porsche and headed down the dark, narrow road toward the P.C.H. They all hoped they would still have a lead actress in the morning.

- Stephen Rodrick

I sometimes imagine that death might be more tolerable if I passed away in my sleep, although the reality is, no form of dying is acceptable to me with the possible exception of being kicked to death by a pair of scantily clad cocktail waitresses.

This is the Murray of legend—punkish, confident, a modern incarnation of a line that stretches from Puck and Pan to Brer Rabbit and Groucho. (Or as Harold Ramis, his longtime, sometimes estranged collaborator and friend, once described it to me, “All the Marx Brothers rolled into one: He’s got the wit of Groucho, the pantomimic brilliance and lasciviousness of Harpo, and the Everyman quality of Chico.”) It’s the Murray whose on-screen persona seems undivorceable from his exploits off. And it’s the Murray frankly idolized by men who were a certain age when he was in his prime, men not overly blessed with good looks, wealth, or athletic prowess, for whom the actor seemed to have sprung forth, as surely as John Wayne, with an alternative blueprint for manhood: self-possessed, on the side of good, exquisitely capable of making one’s way through the world. 

- Brett Martin

We break the earth. For energy, for water, for resources. Coal. Oil. Gas. Silver. Gold. Salt. Even chalk. We break the earth for all of these things. We always have.

- Tom Chiarella

Speaking in a gravelly mixture of urban slang and old-fashioned street-crime lingo, he told us that he was born in Memphis but grew up in Chicago, where, at age thirteen, he learned how to pick pockets at what he called “whiz school,” under the tutelage of two local cannons named High Pocket and Finger Wave Dave. “I been playing since I was knee-high to a shit-ball,” he said. “At first, I was a moll buzzer. I used to play in the ghetto. Then I started playing Skokie, then I started playing downtown in the Loop. They got Shot-Jims down there, and if you can play at that level and beat a chump, right there on the corner in front of they face—believe me, you can play.” (Rough translation: “I started out stealing from women’s purses in my neighborhood, and then I started to ply my trade downtown, where I got so good that I was able to steal wallets out of men’s jacket and pant pockets even under the eagle eye of undercover police officers trained in the ways of my profession.”) 

- Adam Green

You could call this desire — to really have that awareness, to be as open as possible, all the time, to beauty and cruelty and stupid human fallibility and unexpected grace — the George Saunders Experiment. It’s the trope of all tropes to say that a writer is “the writer for our time.” Still, if we were to define “our time” as a historical moment in which the country we live in is dropping bombs on people about whose lives we have the most abstracted and unnuanced ideas, and who have the most distorted notions of ours; or a time in which some of us are desperate simply for a job that would lead to the ability to purchase a few things that would make our kids happy and result in an uptick in self- and family esteem; or even just a time when a portion of the population occasionally feels scared out of its wits for reasons that are hard to name, or overcome with emotion when we see our children asleep, or happy when we risk revealing ourselves to someone and they respond with kindness — if we define “our time” in these ways, then George Saunders is the writer for our time.

- Joel Lovell 

You know those monks who get really good at life and realize that life isn’t as fair and compassionate as they are? There are seemingly two options from there: End up on fire in a public square or get even quieter.

I’m not calling Kobe Bryant a monk. That’s not what I’m doing. I’m just asking you to think about it.

- Ben Collins

In turn, Cramer talked to me about writing. He flooded my office with knowledge on “depth of words,” the “gift of someone telling you his secrets or the secrets of others,” and why it is important to “strip the bull—— away from the people that we worship as heroes.” He loathed the casual use of that word. Hero. Not necessarily to tear them down but “to actually know them like we only thought we knew them in the first place.”

It was rapid-fire journalism school. “Write sentences that are absolute. … Don’t be afraid to ask open-ended questions that will put some of the thinking back on the reader. … Don’t deify this damn guy; humanize the hero!”

- Ryan McGee

Taylor was leg-whipped during a game once in Washington. Happens all the time. Common. He was sore and had a bruise, but the pregame Toradol and the postgame pain medicine and prescribed sleeping pills masked the suffering, so he went to dinner and thought he was fine. Until he couldn’t sleep. And the medication wore off. It was 2 a.m. He noticed that the only time his calf didn’t hurt is when he was walking around his house or standing. So he found a spot that gave him relief on a staircase and fell asleep standing up, leaning against the wall. But as soon as his leg would relax from the sleep, the pain would wake him up again. He called the team trainer and asked if he could take another Vicodin. The trainer said absolutely not. This need to kill the pain is what former No. 1 pick Keith McCants says started a pain-killer addiction that turned to street drugs when the money ran out … and led him to try to hang himself to break the cycle of pain.

Dan Le Batard

At the end of “Clouds,” the script flashes back to the scene of the fall, where, upon closer inspection, Guy manages to grasp the hand he leapt for and “watches his lifeless body fall to the concrete below.” Another hand “emerges” and pulls Guy up.

The script continues:

VOICE (heavenly)

“Welcome. We’ve been waiting for you.”

Guy emerges into the cloud. Fade to white.

- Greg Bishop

Decades later, the operators say, the images are vivid. The slender fellow in the jacket and tie, bending his knees at the platform’s edge. The reveler stumbling on the tracks at dawn, wobbly in her evening best, unable to stagger away in time. An arm reaching up, hopefully, then disappearing in a flash.

“As cruel as it makes it sound, for the individual it’s over,” said Curtis Tate, a former operator whose train struck and killed a man in 1992. “It’s just beginning for the train operator.”

Matt Flegenheimer

I didn’t know it then, but Cramer was one of those few writers, one of those few people, who change everything, and influence scores of people — some extraordinary writers and tons of imitators — in their wake. He wrote with all of the verve and inventiveness of Wolfe, but whereas Wolfe was not above keeping a contemptuous distance from his subjects, Cramer inhabited his people, body and soul. No one had ever humanized on the page they way Richard did. No one.

- Mark Warren

Now it was no hobby: Ted fished harder and fished more than any man around. After his divorce from Doris, he’d made his home in Islamorada, bought a little place on the ocean side, with no phone and just room for one man and gear. He’d wake before dawn and spend the day in his boat, then come in, maybe cook a steak, maybe drive off to a Cuban or Italian joint where they served big portions and left him alone. Then, back home, he’d tie a few flies and be in bed by 10:00. He kept it very spare. He didn’t even have a TV. That’s how he met Louise. He wanted to see a Joe Louis fight, so Jimmy took him to Lou’s big house. Her husband was a businessman from Ohio, and they had a TV, they had everything. Lou had her five kids, the best home, best furniture, best car, and best guides. Though she wasn’t a woman of leisure, she was a pretty good angler, too. She could talk fishing with Ted. Yes, they could talk. And soon, Lou would have a little money of her own, an inheritance that she’d use to buy a divorce. She wanted to do for herself, she said. And there was something else, too. “I met Ted Williams,” Louise said. “And he was the most gorgeous thing I ever saw in my life.”

- Richard Ben Cramer

Round-up of fine sentences, part 49

These are culled from John Branch's excellent piece Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek, which is must-read stuff. 

::

 

At the bar, Rudolph mentioned an idea to a few people: Tunnel Creek on Sunday. Invitations traveled in whispers and text messages, through a knot of friendships and slight acquaintances.

 

::

 

The flames in the fire died to orange embers. The last beers were sipped empty, and people slipped into the night. The campers were blanketed with snow.

 

::

 

 

It was about 11:45. The storm had passed. A low, pewter sky hid the surrounding peaks. Castillo glanced around at the others, wearing helmets and rainbow hues, a kaleidoscope of color amid the gray surroundings, like sprinkles on vanilla ice cream.

 

::

 

Across the meadow, above Jack, loose snow seemed to chase him down the hill and out of sight.

Not everyone saw it. A couple did. They caught it in their peripheral vision and were unsure what to make of it.

 

::

 

A few hundred yards down the mountain, a ghostly white fog rushed through the forest.

 

::

 

She had no control of her body as she tumbled downhill. She did not know up from down. It was not unlike being cartwheeled in a relentlessly crashing wave. But snow does not recede. It swallows its victims. It does not spit them out.

 

::

 

Jack’s phone chirped. It had survived the avalanche, and Pankey reached into Jack’s pocket and pulled it out. It was a text message from Jack’s girlfriend, Tiffany Abraham. Rumors of a big avalanche in Tunnel Creek had reached the base area of Stevens Pass.

“Where are you?” it read. “You OK?”

 

::

 

“He said Johnny was one of the people buried,” Brenan said. “‘He didn’t make it.’ I didn’t want to believe it. I said, ‘Have you seen him?’ He said no. I said: ‘Then you don’t know. It’s possible he’s not there. You go back and get more information because that is wrong. Go. Go find him. You’re wrong.’ I remember thinking: He’s got two kids. This was for fun. Johnny doesn’t leave his responsibilities. Ever.”

 

Round-up of fine sentences, part 48

Crennel raised both his hands, pleading with Belcher to put the gun down. “You’re taking the easy way out!” Crennel yelled.

Belcher glanced at an approaching police officer , then knelt behind a minivan, made the sign of the cross on his chest with his left hand and fired a bullet into his head above his right ear. After the gunshot, Crennel slumped, dropped his hands and turned away from Belcher.

Christine Vendel 

So began the moment that must be high in any appreciation of Larry Merchant. We’ll get to the rest of it. How a kid from Brooklyn plays football in Oklahoma … how he helps revolutionize sports writing …  how he wishes Vitali Klitschko were a Montana cowboy … how he asks Nelson Mandela the question every honest fight reporter must answer for himself. We’ll get there after this moment with Mayweather, for in this moment we see everything important about the most important television commentator in boxing history.

Dave Kindred 

I’ve treasured the tips that arrive from all quarters: police officers, social workers, nurses, business leaders. I’ve treasured the people who have invited me into their homes and their lives. I’ve treasured the oppor­tunity to point out the ridiculousness of exorbitant corporate salaries and uptight suburbs. I’ve treasured most of all giving voice to those who might not otherwise have it: the dying gas station attendant in Cambridge beloved by his customers who paid to fly his body home; the Mattapan mother who faced foreclosure years after her son was shot and paralyzed. Readers stopped that from happening.

Brian McGrory

The shot crumpled Pacquiao (54-5-2) to the canvas, right in front of Bob Arum, his promoter, who held his hands out as if he wanted to catch his prized fighter in his arms. Pacquiao’s wife, Jinkee, held her face in both hands and cried. It took her husband several minutes to rise, and when he did, his face was bruised under both eyes, which were vacant. He looked lost.

- Greg Bishop

Nobody warned Wu, or prosecutors, or the public. The petite, 46-year-old woman learned Chen was still here when he stormed into her unlocked apartment one day in January 2010 and announced, “I bet you didn’t expect to see me.” Terrified, she called the police, and he fled. But for two weeks, Chen was free to stalk her and finally, to catch her as she hurried home with milk and bread one afternoon.

Chen then finished what he had started earlier, bashing Wu on the head with a hammer and slashing her with a knife. As she lay crumpled in a grimy stairwell, he ripped out her heart and a lung and fled with his macabre trophies.

- Maria Sacchetti

As Clarett wraps up, there are audible gasps and a few whispered “holy shit”s in the room. Some of the coaches stare at Clarett with stunned, almost fearful looks on their faces. There is a brief silent pause as Clarett sits down. Then the players and coaches slowly disperse.

- Monte Burke

In death, on her bathroom floor, Dr. Chang’s face looked as if she were napping before her morning-court appearance. She wore a silky floral blouse paired with a black jacket. Her hair was neatly coifed. Her lipstick and rouge looked freshly applied, not at all smudged. There was barely a hint of anything askew, save for the shiny wire coiled around her throat like a necklace.

- The New York Times

He muted his on-court celebrations. He cut the jokes in film sessions. He threw heaps of dirt over the tired notion that he froze in the clutch. “He got rid of the bulls—-,” says one of his former coaches, and he quietly hoped the public would notice. When James strides into an opposing arena, he takes in the crowd, gazes up at the expressions on the faces. “I can tell the difference between 2010 and 2012,” he says. Anger has turned to appreciation, perhaps grudging, but appreciation nonetheless. James has become an entry on a bucket list, a spectacle you have to see at least once, whether you crave the violence of sports or the grace, the force or the finesse. He attracts the casual fan with his ferocious dunks and the junkie with his sublime pocket passes. He is a Hollywood blockbuster with art-house appeal.

- Lee Jenkins

You see the smile. What you don’t see are the seven tattoos, high on his arm and shoulders so they’ll be hidden by a shirt, the ink of his grief. There is a tattoo for the deaf mother who was ordered to relinquish custody when he was a child. There is a tombstone tattoo for the brother who was murdered by a rival gang who shot him five times in the back. There is a praying hands tattoo for, among other things, the brother who is serving time in a Mississippi jail for attempted murder.

“People say things happen for a reason; well, I’m not trying to hear all that,” Lee said. “I don’t care about any reasons, some things just shouldn’t happen.”

- Bill Plaschke

Manziel denied he had been drinking but was taken to jail. The next day, his father picked him up, sold the car and replaced it with a busted pickup truck that would repeatedly break down on the way to school. He refused to pay the fine for his son, and when the judge sentenced Manziel to 10 hours of community service, John Paul said: Make it 20.

- Tim Rohan

This is the moment it becomes clear: Regardless of how Easley or any of the replacements handle this, or seem to handle it, they unknowingly sacrificed themselves and their reputations so that the NFL machine could keep running. As the regular season winds down, they are mostly forgotten. But in towns like this, in school buildings and offices, in communities and churches, men like Easley are left to search for normality even in the places they call home.

- Kent Babb

Grabbing the check for once, I confessed that I’d long felt a measure of guilt about the extra burden I’d confronted him with, the added struggle.

He shook his head: “I almost think I love you more for it — for being what you are rather than what was expected of you.”

Frank Bruni

In headier days, Ed Kennedy personified the hard-drinking, hard-charging war correspondent of another era. The first time his future wife saw him, he was sidled up to a hotel bar in Paris with none other than Ernest Hemingway, both of them so “dead drunk” they could hardly stand.

Round-up of fine sentences, part 47

It was a Christmas a very long time ago that my dad gave my brother and me our first guns. And a stern lecture. 

Always assume the gun is loaded. Don’t load it until you’re ready to shoot. Never point it at anything you wouldn’t want to hit. Don’t touch the trigger until you want to fire.

The gun is a killing tool. Respect it.

George Skelton

Snub-nose .38 revolvers stand for the world-weary persistence of pulp-fiction detectives in the Depression. Single-action Army Colts are the attribute of the cowboy. A Parker double-barreled shotgun is your grandfather picking his way with a knowing elegance through the brush in search of quail. A .22 is the innocence of childhood - that spattering noise of the rifle range at Boy Scout camp, and afterward the smell of Hoppe’s No. 9 cleaning solvent. The wood-sheathed M-1 evinces the common-man determination that won World War II. The Model 29 Smith & Wesson .44 magnum carried by Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry is the resentment and paranoia of the early ’70s. On and on.

There is the mystique of the gun that will destroy America and maybe civilization as we know it. It was Thompson submachine guns in the gangster ’20s, sawed-off shotguns, zip guns when we started talking about ”juvenile delinquency” in the ’50s (oh, innocent era), imported military surplus rifles like the one that shot John Kennedy, and the guns that Patty Hearst posed with in front of a Symbionese Liberation Army flag.

We credit guns with powers that verge on the supernatural.

Henry Allen

The television vans will leave, and there will be darkness up and down the hills again as a Saturday night becomes Sunday morning. What will we see around us then? What will the country look like? What shadows will make us jump? 

Charles Pierce

We do not know who he is. We do not know where he is. We know only one thing: that he is more prepared than we are. Indeed, he is preparing right now. He is buying his guns. He is accruing his arsenal. The grudges of a lifetime are coalescing into a delusion, and the delusion is articulating itself into something like a plan. In two months, or two weeks, or two days, the plan will be all that he thinks about, and the pressure will become unbearable. He likes to be alone, but his plan needs people, and before too long he will seek out a place where they gather. It might be a school, or a crowded theater. It might be Times Square.

Tom Junod

In this country, you can legally buy assault weapons. What does that say about us?

Round-up of fine sentences, part 46

First, he killed his mother.

- AP

In the library, three faculty members heard the noises and hustled about 15 students toward a storage closet in the library, which was filled with computer servers. “Hold hands. Be quiet,” one teacher told the kids. One child wondered if pots and pans were clanging. Another thought he heard firecrackers. Another worried an animal was coming to the door.

They were children in a place built for children, and the teachers didn’t know how to answer them. They told them to close their eyes and to keep quiet. They helped move an old bookshelf in front of the door to act as a makeshift barricade. They wondered: How do you explain unimaginable horror to the most innocent?

- Eli Saslow

Officers found the children during the initial, rushed search of the building for survivors.

"Finally, they opened that door and there were seven sets of eyes looking at them," a law enforcement officer familiar with the events said Saturday. "She tried to save her class" he said of Victoria Soto.

- Hartford Courant

The service ended. A police officer stepped out into Main Street, raised a hand, and stopped a Ford Focus station wagon. A black hearse and a long trail of cars pulled out.

Past the old town hall. Past the Cyrenius H. Booth Library. Past the American flag at half-staff, and the soaring white spire of the Newtown Meetinghouse, and New England houses with candles in the windows.

Past the “Pray for Newtown” signs and the makeshift memorials, to the Newtown Village Cemetery, and thoughts of tombstones with a birth year that seems like yesterday: 2006.

- Dan Barry

Charlotte, Daniel, Olivia, Josephine, Ana, Dylan, Madeline, Catherine, Chase, Jesse, James, Grace, Emilie, Jack, Noah, Caroline, Jessica, Benjamin, Avielle, Allison.

God has called them all home.

Round-up of fine sentences, part 45

Three hundred and fifty policemen eyed the crowd. Prohibition would end in December. Concern about the nation’s whiskey supply — 18 million gallons — loomed. Would there be enough? Three-point-two-percent beer, the only alcohol 26-year-old Senators manager and shortstop Joe Cronin drank, already was legal. Pabst Blue Ribbon insisted its brew “soothes jaded nerves, develops fresh energy and helps build a sound, healthy body.”But Griffith Stadium remained as dry as the afternoon. That was a good thing for home plate umpire Charley Moran.

- Nathan Fenno 

He remembers much of the detail like it was yesterday, even though it was more than 32,000 yesterdays ago, on Oct. 4, 1924, when Abramson sat in the aisle at old Griffith Stadium and watched the very first World Series game played in Washington.

- J. Freedom du Lac

Drinking was just a part of newspaper life, he says, competing writers covering for each other. Unable to meet a Herald Examiner 6 a.m. deadline while on the road because of too much drink, he says, Times columnist Jim Murray wrote for him under Disney’s byline.

"The next day I remember admonishing him for not having the right angle," says Disney.

- T.J. Simers

They ate in silence for a minute, thinking about the decades of drive and ambition that had delivered their family to this office in Manassas. From Italy to the United States in 1911; from Firetto to Firetti during the chaos of processing at Ellis Island; from handcrafted marble steps to American brick masonry; from an apartment on a volcanic island to 10 acres in the rolling horse country of Virginia. The Firetti family narrative was the story of steady advance, of one generation after the next overcoming distance and circumstance to accomplish something greater.

Now it was left to Frank to outdo the past again, and something about that thought made the office feel small and quiet. He stood up from the table and rubbed his forehead. “Back to work,” he said.

- Eli Saslow

He continues: “Let me ask you this: Are you married?”

"No."

"Sorry, that was a personal question. I don’t need to know about your life. But let’s just say you were married and having trouble. What would you do? Maybe see a marriage counselor, right? And that marriage counselor, in order to help save your marriage, would probably have you look at a list of the reasons you’re together with your husband in the first place."

"Okay, sure."

"And…?" He looks at me expectantly for a beat. "That’s exactly why we have a rule book like the Constitution. So we have a list of the reasons we’re together. To remind us." Dramatic pause. "Do you see what I’m getting at?"

"The United States is getting a divorce?

Mr. Alex frowns at me and goes back to setting up his table.

- Lauren Bans

The zeroes added up until Werth led off the ninth against Cardinals reliever Lance Lynn. He took the first two pitches, called strikes that made it 0-2. He took one ball, a curve that barely missed low and away. He then fouled off seven of eight pitches, looping them just over the home dugout. On the 13th pitch of the at-bat, Lynn made the mistake Werth had been waiting for.

Lynn grooved a 96-mph fastball over the plate’s heart. Werth lashed it to left. Everyone knew — the place erupted. Teammates thrust their hands in the air at the dugout railing. Werth pointed to the right field corner as he rounded first. He slapped an ankle-high five with third base coach Bo Porter, then threw his red helmet 15 feet in the air, letting it hang there like a balloon.

- Adam Kilgore

The question of how baseball could be so cruel to this city may be answered some day. It existed in horrible form in the nation’s capital for decades, and then it vanished for 33 years. It came back gnarled and wretched for seven more seasons, only to yield to this blissful summer, to the moment Friday past midnight when Drew Storen stood on the mound at chilled Nationals Park and, with two outs in the ninth inning, threw 13 pitches that could have moved the Washington Nationals four wins from the World Series.

The St. Louis Cardinals would not allow it. Baseball, this town’s cold mistress, the sport that dares you to love it, would not let it happen. The Nationals led the Cardinals by six runs after three innings. They led by two runs after eight innings. Washington’s miserable relationship with baseball had been exorcised, until it materialized in a more wrenching, twisted fashion than ever seen before.

- Adam Kilgore

Other allegations that emerged during the trial were perhaps less criminal but just as squirrelly. Customer complaints were directed to a supervisor named Michael Johnson, a man who doesn’t exist. Print ads claimed that Enzyte was developed over thirteen years by Dr. Fredrick Thomkins, “a physician with a biology degree from Stanford,” and Dr. Michael Moore, “a leading urologist from Harvard.” Those men don’t exist, either. A top Berkeley employee testified that Warshak once directed him to falsify data to show that Enzyte users’ penises grew an average of 24 percent. And in one e-mail, Warshak encouraged his people to engage in some rather cold-blooded sales tactics. “I don’t care if the card is taken from grandma’s purse so junior can buy some Enzyte,” Warshak wrote when an employee asked whether a customer could charge a credit card bearing someone else’s name. “If the card is good, I want to ship.”

- Amy Wallace

The go-to story? The absolute go-to story about Cook?

He was working as the SID at Pitt when a co-ed called and asked Cook if he could read her the names, numbers and position of the Pitt roster. Cook started with something like “No. 14, quarterback, Williams, Stan … No. 15, safety, Lockett, Ted,” and so on.

Finally, Cook stopped and asked the woman why she needed the names. She replied that she intended to sleep with the entire roster.

Not missing a beat, Cook then said “No. 87, tight end, Cook, Beano.”

- Gary Shelton

Bonus:

The king of the Southern California rum runners was Tony Cornero, an Italian immigrant who had his own fleet of ships that brought the high-end stuff down from Canada. The contraband was unloaded in the moonlight on beaches, then trucked to wealthy clubs with complete impunity, Fratantoni said.

"City politicians and police were running everything in the city limits," Fratantoni said. "Not only did they have a hand in it, they were making the decisions."

Liquor raids were largely for show. The guys who got hit were mainly outside L.A., in places like Downey and Newhall, where some made “grape-o” moonshine that “would burn a hole in your throat,” Fratantoni said.

Deputies spied from blimps to spot telltale exhaust pipes sticking out of the fields. A beautiful undercover agent named Maria Valdez infiltrated bootlegging rings for the sheriff’s liquor detail.

- Gale Holland

Round-up of fine sentences, part 44

The lid blew off the top of all seething humanity yesterday afternoon in the bursting of the bottled, pent-up, hog-tied emotion of a great city’s populace that was comparable only to the eruption of a passionate volcano.

A giant carboy of sparking burgundy, personifying the spirit of youth and effervescing in all its joyousness, illustrates the mob psychology of the spectacle that was enacted by 40,000 human calliopes who were packed, jammed and sandwiched into Griffith stadium to watch two psysically (sic) perfect fighting machines battle for the baseball championship of the universe.

- The Washington Post, 88 years ago

Julian kept banging on the door. George, an experienced pilot, banked the plane, making one sharp turn after another, hoping to knock Julian off his feet. But the assault on the door continued, the pilots realizing that if it came open, the force of the sudden depressurization could tear the King Air apart. To prevent that, George released the pressure in the plane. Oxygen masks dropped from the ceiling, a pre-departure safety video came to life. Julian kept kicking the door. Finally, it opened.

- Eva Holland

It was easy to look at Grant Desme and think he was crazy, for leaving behind the sport, the riches, the lifestyle, the family, the wife, the kids, the spoils of the bubble in which athletes live, giving that up for the same day, every day, forever. He needed to trust. God hadn’t spoken to him, not one-on-one. He doesn’t call like that. It’s more an emptiness that only something bigger can fulfill, even if that something still has questions.

Baseball wasn’t big enough. St. Michael’s was.

- Jeff Passan

THEY SAY MICKEY MANTLE ran from home to first in 3.1 seconds. They say he hit a home run 660 feet. Neither of these seems possible. In every athletic pursuit, humans in 2012 crush humans from the 1950s. The world record for the 100-meter dash is more than half a second lower now than it was in 1951, having been broken well over a dozen times. The world record for the marathon is 17 minutes faster now. The bench-press record has more than doubled. And yet we’re supposed to believe that 60 years ago, Mickey Mantle ran faster than any player alive today ever has. And that he hit the ball more than 100 feet farther than any player alive today ever has. Of course Mike Trout can’t live up to the legend of Mickey Mantle. Mickey Mantle couldn’t have lived up to the legend of Mickey Mantle.

- Sam Miller

A few years back, I was in a place called Shishmaref, a barrier-island village in arctic Alaska that because of global climate change is slowly being devoured by the sea. The people there looked at the argument we were having over the very existence of the phenomenon that was chewing up their home, and they talked as though all of us in the lower forty-eight were out of our minds. That is very similar to the way that those of us in Massachusetts have looked at the campaign Mitt Romney has waged for president of the United States. To us, his health-care reform is close to an unalloyed triumph — a bipartisan solution to a serious problem, and a solution that has become a part of our daily lives. People talk about “the Connector” now the way they talk about the T, or the Sox. It’s the kind of thing on which serious presidential campaigns are based. Hell, if it were about the effects of the health-care reform he helped shepherd through here, I’d do a commercial for him.

- Charles Pierce

And it’s not just the lone reporter affected – someone whose job forces them to spend entirely too much time engaged with the pulsating beast of the web. It’s everyone. Everyone who wakes up and grabs their phone before wiping sleep from their eyes. Checks email from the toilet. Tweets drunk. Swerves out of their lane to text. Can’t maintain eye contact. Takes pictures, pictures, pictures and videos of everything. Feels naked, alone and desperately bored when device-less.

It’s society. And yes, it’s a first-world problem.

- Sarah Perez 

Every night for weeks I lost sleep over it. Listening for noises. Opening the door everyday with trepidation. Trying to maintain a semblance of normality and not let my wife or son see that I was dying on the inside. Mortified that they might be in danger because of my big mouth or ancestry.

- Leo Traynor

Wednesday’s presidential debate promises sharp contrasts. One candidate wants to repeal Obamacare, one candidate invented it. One opposed the auto industry bailout, one takes credit for it. One doubts the scientific consensus about climate change, one believes in it. One wants to “voucherize” Medicare, one wants to save it. One dismisses nearly half of Americans as a bunch of moochers, and one claims to champion the struggling middle class.

It promises to be an epic clash: Mitt Romney vs. Mitt Romney. Oh, and President Obama will be there, too.

- Eugene Robinson

Dickey threw his third pitch and the man who would not quit took another monster chop, his eyes focused on those five flying ounces that nearly knocked him out seven years ago, and the crowd, 29,000 strong, stood and cheered. Whatever happens next in the life of Adam Greenberg, he’ll be able to say that in his second big-league plate appearance, he went down swinging and walked away smiling.

- Ben Montgomery

The grime and pain of losers and also-rans are washed away with each magical success at the ballyard. The metropolis begins to believe in itself again, to greet the new daylight with small glances upward toward the heavens, with laughter and newfound kinship among rowhouse neighbors, who regale each other with last night’s on-field heroics as the children tumble into the street and head for school in a seaflow of orange-and-black ball caps and jerseys. Fathers come home from work, drop briefcases and grab mitts for a catch with sons, then adjourn to the den for a Talmudic reading of the latest box scores. Fresh graffiti is scrawled atop the RIPs and gang tags in the heart of the toughest Westside neighborhoods: ORIOLES MAGIC. FEAR DA BIRD. And come the night of the big game, the mayor leads the rally on the steps of City Hall, flicks a switch and lights the ornate dome orange. A city rises as one.

- David Simon in SI

In an era in which athleticism, defense and brawn have threatened to take over the world’s game, Xavi feels in his core that Barcelona is fighting for the soul of soccer. “I believe in this philosophy of ours,” he says, “but years ago, because we weren’t winning, people had doubts. Italy had won the World Cup; Greece had won the Euro. The Champions League was won by physical teams. And I thought, No, it can’t be. Soccer is talent, you know. For the good of the fans, for the good of the game, talented players should always play the sport. But I’m a soccer romantic, and there are others who only want to win, win, compete, defend. Hell no. Soccer can be very beautiful.”

- Grant Wahl in SI

Bonus: 

The transformative power of a kick in the ass is not lost on Hochuli, who was divorced from Bonnie, the mother of his first five children, 20 years ago. “I failed,” he says, growing very quiet. “It was a very dark period, and….” He pauses, gathering himself to go on.

"My son Aaron was eight years old at the time," he continues. "And for the next four years-I’m sorry, it will be hard to get through this-but for the next four years he didn’t speak to me or even look at me. For four years I kept showing up: ‘Great practice today, Aaron.’ And he’d walk right past me without looking." The tears are now coming, and his square jaw is going. "I’m sorry," Hochuli says, "but it tears me up."

He takes a deep breath and says, “When you fail, you have to kick yourself in the ass and go on. A lot of times we feel sorry for ourselves and let the defeats define us.” Instead, he just kept showing up to see the boy who wouldn’t see him back, until one day Aaron returned his gaze.

- Steve Rushin in SI

Round-up of fine sentences, part 43

Cody met a man with a parrot. This was in San Francisco. The man with the parrot drove an old Infiniti. As he was driving, he turned to Cody, who was silently watching him, taking notes on a digital sketchbook. The man looked at a regular button on the side of his stick shift. He pointed to the button. “This is my Turbo button!” he said, and turned again toward the road. After their ride, Cody went into the man with the parrot’s apartment. They were sitting on a couch amid the clutter, facing each other. The man with the parrot was talking about his fiancée. How she liked to sunbathe in the nude. The parrot took a giant shit on his shoulder and he just kept talking.

- Justin Heckert

Thomas grew up the oldest of five sons of a single mother, Gaylian Dupree, a former track star at Los Angeles High. When De’Anthony played for the Bears, he used to dash to the right sideline, pause for a beat, charge all the way back to the left sideline, race down the field and do a front flip into the end zone, landing on his cleats. At 14 he was asked for his first autograph, and at 15 he received his first recruiting letter, from Oregon. “I thought he was too small,” says Ducks running backs coach Gary Campbell. “Then I turned on the film and realized he probably wouldn’t get hurt because nobody could touch him.”

- Lee Jenkins

Today, under the lacquered blue-enamel sky, in a black-belted black dress, stepping out of the nap-time grasp of an SUV, Morena Baccarin is clearly — honest-to-God, and to every vision of woman ever beheld, without a hint of exaggeration or intended pain to anyone who’s borne the title before or will bear it hence — the most beautiful woman in the world.

Never mind where — west and north of L.A., in a kind of near-desert, in the parking lot of a wine bar, her jet hair coated by the brightness of a midafternoon sun rigged high. The world behind her falls away quickly enough. With every step across the careless splash of asphalt, her unlumpy purse hooked over the sinew of her shoulder, finger dangling her keys, Baccarin smiles, which is of course part of why she’s the most beautiful woman in the world today.

- Tom Chiarella

Finally, Boniadi broke down and told an inquiring friend why she was weeping all the time. According to the knowledgeable source, the friend promptly wrote up a 10-page “Knowledge Report” on her, and for more than two months Boniadi’s punishment was to scrub toilets with a toothbrush on her hands and knees, clean bathroom tiles with acid, and dig ditches in the middle of the night. She was also harangued for hours and made to confess what a horrible human being she was. After that she was sent out to hawk L. Ron Hubbard’s Dianetics book on street corners, a job she continued to do when she was finally allowed to return to L.A. (A Scientology spokesperson responds: “The Church does not ‘punish’ people, especially in [that] manner.”)

“Tom never broke up with her,” Marc Headley tells me. “He never spoke to her.” The whole time Cruise and Boniadi were together, according to Headley, the film people never stopped cranking out new audition tapes. “O.K., boom, next one. O.K., boom, next one,” he says. “She gets kicked to the curb. And a few months later he’s madly in love with Katie and jumping on couches.”

- Maureen Orth

He stepped to the edge to die. Weathered hands gripped the rusted railing of Lowell’s Ouelette Bridge, beckoned by the rushing river current. Brick warehouses and amber smokestacks bore silent witness to one final act.

Oncoming headlights lit up his face. Below, fly-fishers hooked salmon and trout. Ducks congregated along the sandy banks, beside the rocks and reeds, where his body would wash ashore by dawn.

- Alex Prewitt

Mr. Sulzberger himself — square-shouldered, pipe-smoking, affable, unaffected — knew how lightly he was regarded. “I’ve made my first executive decision,” he told his sister Ruth after his first day on the job. “I’ve decided not to throw up.”

- Clyde Haberman

His muscles throbbed, and the bristles of the bedroom carpet massaged his motionless body. Still in shorts and a T-shirt after his first workout in a week, Utah defensive end Nate Fakahafua collapsed as soon as he entered the room.

Pain surged through him on the June day, alighting at each muscle and continuing until it and his racing mind met somewhere in the middle. Everything ached. Only the carpet hugged him.

- Bill Oram

He was supposed to be “In-Vince-able.” That’s what the headlines said. And the T-shirts. And the ever-chattering football pundits. The steady downward trajectory of one of the most well-known sports figures in state history finally hit the ground where it often does - in a courtroom - with an encyclopedia of accusations of waste, indulgence and exploitation.

- Houston Chronicle

After lunch, Ted and Suzan, now with her husband’s ashes lovingly tucked away inside one of her pants pockets, joined a few thousand of their fellow Alabama fans inside the stadium. With her brother by her side for emotional support, Suzan walked down from the stands and made her way to the stadium’s aforementioned brick partition, right next to yours truly. I then watched Suzan — clearly a bit frightened, but determined — reach into her pocket, pull out the plastic baggie holding John’s remains and empty its contents onto the field.

- Brett Michael Dykes

How to write a novel

First make sure you have enough time. It is crucial that you have enough time to make things up. Myself, I do not have time enough for anything like that.

But I’ll just tell you what’s what. It will not be hard for you to follow me doing it.

Just listen.

Just watch.

I’m composing these instructions on an I.B.M. Selectric. I got it back in 1961. I did not by it. I finessed it or I finagled it or I stole it.

The person who is the unexpressed indirect object of one or the other of these verbs was rich. He said you can borrow this thing, use it for a while. Then he stuck his other thing in my wife’s thing. They still have their things and I have this thing and I’m not giving it up.

- Gordon Lish

Round-up of fine sentences, part 42

Four of the five bullets had found their mark. Three lodged in her flesh without serious harm. But one left a trail of destruction. It pierced her left side and passed through her abdomen, crossing her right chest, coming to rest near her right armpit. Along the way it tore her stomach and large intestine and made innumerable holes in her small intestine. It penetrated her liver, her diaphragm, her lung. It cut her pancreas in half. It severed the splenic artery and vein, opening such a fountain of blood that she eventually lost it all, and more. The tireless doctors at Carolinas Medical Center kept replacing the blood through intravenous lines, and she kept losing it. Six liters. One hundred fifty percent.

- Thomas Lake 

The pedophile is often imagined as the dishevelled old man baldly offering candy to preschoolers. But the truth is that most of the time we have no clue what we are dealing with. A fellow-teacher at Mr. Clay’s school, whose son was one of those who complained of being fondled, went directly to Clay after she heard the allegations. “I didn’t do anything to those little boys,” Clay responded. “I’m innocent… . Would you and your husband stand beside me if it goes to court?” Of course, they said. People didn’t believe that Clay was a pedophile because people liked Clay—without realizing that Clay was in the business of being likable.

- Malcolm Gladwell

Conservatives in this country — most assuredly including David Brooks, and almost every Republican, including Ron Paul — love them some big government, and that’s not even to mention how much they love to have big government meddle in people’s sexytime. They love their farm subsidies and their rural electrical cooperatives. They just have been convinced by three decades of conservative charlatans that the big government they love is different from the big government loved by black bucks buying T-bone steaks and welfare queens in their Cadillacs. That has been the central pivot on which modern Republican politics has turned. It’s a little late for the scales to be falling from your eyes now.

- Charlie Pierce

And as Cathal Kelly of the Toronto Star reminded me, in the early 1960s boxer Emile Griffith was rumoured to be gay, and in the second of their three fights for the welterweight title, Cuban Benny (Kid) Paret and his corner called Griffith a maricon. Paret said it again during the weigh-in for the third fight, for the welterweight title. In the documentary Ring of Fire, Griffith says, “I knew maricon meant faggot, and I was nobody’s faggot.” Griffith beat Paret so badly that the Cuban died. He said he didn’t mean to, but he did.

- Bruce Arthur

Forced drinking, a staple of college hazing, comes up in a few reports. There also were reports of students’ getting frostbite from walking barefoot in the snow. One said pledges, blindfolded, driven miles from campus and relieved of their phones, were expected to find their own way home. Another said a fraternity branded pledges on the leg, back or buttocks.

- Peter Applebome

Then CP3 says something I’ve never heard any man, let alone a basketball player, say before: “I’ve been fortunate to be short my entire life.” I look puzzled, and he explains. “There’s only one position I’ve ever had to play, and that’s point guard. So I’ve always had to be that leader. And that was my job: you know, to talk." CP3 is looking me straight in the eye. "I’m a big-time people person, too. Like, I love people. I hate to be by myself." He repeats the phrase to himself, quieter each time: "I hate to be by myself. I hate to be by myself. I hate to be by myself." 

- Steve Marsh

The encounter had never really been a prospective drug deal. Green was apparently planning a con: he was going to hand Hoffman a bag full of aspirin in place of the Ecstasy, a relative of his told me, and take off with the money. When investigators spoke to Green’s wife in the days that followed, she acknowledged that her husband had called on the night of the botched operation. She described what had taken place: “They found a wire in her purse, and shot her.”

Sarah Stillman

Seven billion little, tiny human grass strands are c urrently alive, but at that moment it seems as if there are just the two of them: a girl left for dead and a boy who was trained to kill. If you saw them from the shore, you would not know how they got there. Boats do not tell life stories. You would see them from the waist up, so you probably wouldn’t even realize they are missing their legs. And so you would not feel sympathy for them, and you would not be inspired. You would just see them gliding.

- Michael Rosenberg

Jack Green did not argue with Clint Eastwood when Clint Eastwood replaced him after a total of twenty-eight films. He simply accepted what everybody accepts, what every Clint Eastwood anecdote, performance, and movie is actually about: his authority. He was the first American authority figure to arise out of the era when American authority fell apart, and he figures to be the last. How did he accrue his authority? Well, those who work with him now that he’s old — like Matt Damon — credit his experience. But those who knew him when he was young — like Lennie Niehaus — say he had it even then. Perhaps the simplest answer is that like Jack Green, we gave it to him. And he had the good sense both to take it and to wear it lightly.

- Tom Junod

Ellis favored 15-milligram capsules of Dexamyl, which he called “bombardiers,” taking five to 12 pills before starts, determined to “out-milligram” opponents. The drugs helped Ellis play through frequent injuries, including a broken hand. They made him more alert and less afraid: during his first major league exhibition game, his mother once said, the 20-year-old Ellis was “shaking like a leaf on a tree.” On the mound, Ellis later recalled, he chewed through gum “until it was powder.” His habit became an addiction. He started popping pills on the days he wasn’t pitching, just so he wouldn’t fall asleep in the dugout. Once — and only once — Ellis tried to pitch a big league game without getting high. Warming up in the bullpen, he couldn’t remember how to throw. He ran back to the clubhouse, took some uppers out of his pocket and washed them down with hot coffee, a routine he called “locking and loading.” The coffee scalded the inside of his mouth.

This was good: the hotter the liquid, the more quickly the drugs would dissolve.

- Patrick Hruby