PUBLISHED: May 16, 2013
LENGTH: 9 minutes (2332 words)
The writer visits the 2013 National School Scrabble Championship, a competition between children in the fourth through eighth grade:
"The two boys have a laugh at my complaints. Frankly, I'm in a no-win situation. If I lose, I'm a loser. If I win, I'm the heartless bastard who beat two middle schoolers. Sam's mother agrees with my assessment.
"'Oh, you have to lose,' she says, laughing.
"'I know, I know.'
"But then we draw tiles and I find that I have a bingo right at the start: FlOWERS. I put it down and suddenly I have an 82-0 lead. Then I draw the Q and the Z simultaneously and put down QUIZ to take a 124-24 lead. I'm crushing it. I'm killing it. I am killcrushslaying these kids. I have no interest in decorum anymore. The game has me. I want to win because I want to win.
PUBLISHED: May 13, 2013
LENGTH: 17 minutes (4258 words)
The writer lights up with Snoop Dogg, now known as Snoop Lion:
"I must pause here for a moment to point out that we are about to cross the threshold into Snoop's Narnia. And in Snoop's Narnia, ideas and concepts that many of us might find dubious, or unscrupulous, feel natural, even kind of innocent. By now, Snoop has joined the ranks of Keith Richards and Jack Nicholson—artists whom we have exempted from the standard rules of society because they're so widely beloved. So in Snoop's Narnia, it's perfectly normal to smoke weed everywhere, all the time, at any hour of the day. In Snoop's Narnia, it's perfectly acceptable to look forward to teaching your kids how to pick seeds out of your stash or how to roll a blunt. 'It's not that I would ever push weed on our kids,' says Snoop, who has three children, ranging in age from 12 to 18, 'but if they wanted to, I would love to show them how, the right way, so that way they won't get nothing put in their shit or overdose or trying some shit that ain't clean.'"
PUBLISHED: Jan. 8, 2013
LENGTH: 14 minutes (3537 words)
A sportswriter tries his hand at singing the national anthem at a baseball game:
"The anthem is designed to humble you. The anthem is designed to ruin your shit if you get too haughty, and that's a good thing. In fact, it's ready to challenge you from the very beginning:
"O say can you see …
"That 'see' is tricky. That's your first high note, and you have to sustain it for a second. You can tell whether or not an anthem is gonna suck usually by the time the singer has finished with just this line.
"By the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed …
"Again, we have another trap. That high note on 'proudly' sneaks up on you, forcing you to jump up higher than many people are comfortable with."
PUBLISHED: July 25, 2012
LENGTH: 11 minutes (2962 words)
What the writer learned from the premature birth of his third child:
"When the baby cried, I knew it wasn't gonna die. They had just pulled my son out of my wife and whisked him over to one of those fancy hotel pans that you put newborns in, and there was a brief moment when he said nothing, which you don't want. You want the baby to cry. You want confirmation that the child can take air in its lungs and then blow it back out. You want the baby to cry the first time. After that, you want it to be quiet so you can get some goddamn sleep, but the first cry matters. The first cry means it's gonna live. So it cried, and then I did. I cried and cried until it felt like my face was gonna split open. I yelled out, 'He's crying!' to my wife, and after that everything was all right."
PUBLISHED: April 12, 2012
LENGTH: 13 minutes (3274 words)
A writer tries to figure out if he's any smarter than he was at age 17:
"Many times, I had to skip a question because I couldn't figure out the answer, and then I got that paranoia that's unique to someone taking a standardized test. I became fearful that I had failed to skip over the question on my answer sheet. So every five seconds, I'd double-check my sheet to make sure I didn't fill out my answers in the wrong slots. One time I did this, and so I had to erase the answers and move them all forward. Only I had a shitty eraser, which failed to erase my mark and instead smeared the mark all over the rest of my sheet. FUCK YOU, TRICK ERASER. I HATE YOU."
PUBLISHED: March 19, 2012
LENGTH: 13 minutes (3431 words)
I don't usually bother telling people I went to Michigan for a single semester anymore. There isn't much point because I'm at the age where people don't give a shit where you went to school. They just ask you that question as a way of passing the time. But I also don't mention it much because frankly, I'm still somewhat embarrassed by it. I transferred from Michigan, and while being a transfer student isn't that big of a deal if you happen to be a D-I athlete shuttling between programs, it means something quite a bit different when you're just a plain old kid.
PUBLISHED: Feb. 17, 2011
LENGTH: 8 minutes (2099 words)