This week's picks from Emily include stories from The A.V. Club, The Awl, The Hairpin, and Grantland.
A brief history of how reporters first covered performance-enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball, starting with the time Baseball Weekly writer Pete Williams hit the gym with Ken Caminiti:
His post-workout high set him off to report on creatine, the supplement Baseball Weekly would dub the game’s “new gunpowder.”
Baseball Weekly had a decent travel budget and Williams was able to interview lots of players. The list now reads like a suspect list of the steroid era. Mark McGwire. Jason Giambi. Mike Piazza. They wanted to talk to Williams. The word cheater was barely in circulation. In the age when few ballplayers took weight lifting seriously, the players thought of themselves as innovators. Orioles center fielder Brady Anderson, whose home run total jumped from 16 in ’95 to 50 in ’96, pulled out supplement after supplement to show Williams. There’s this, Anderson said. And this … McGwire declared Power Creatine “the best product on the market today.”
PUBLISHED: Jan. 16, 2014
LENGTH: 25 minutes (6273 words)
A visit behind the scenes of Maury Povich’s long-running daytime talk show—and how he ended up the reigning king of televised paternity tests:
Listen to the familiar voice of Maury Povich:
This is Tiffany. In two months, Tiffany is marrying her fiancé, Cornelius. But the results of this lie detector test may stop that wedding dead in its tracks.
Cornelius is a rapper. But Tiffany fears he’s using his studio to lay down a lot more than just tracks. And get this: Tiffany has a very good witness — their neighbor, Candice.
PUBLISHED: Nov. 8, 2013
LENGTH: 15 minutes (3994 words)
Rany Jazayerli reflects on his early discovery of Ender’s Game, what it taught him about empathy and about himself, feeling isolated as a young Muslim in the Midwest. And it’s the characters’ empathy that made the anti-gay views of the book’s author, Orson Scott Card, so troubling:
That endless loneliness is what makes it so easy to root for Ender. Card is so deeply sympathetic, so deeply empathetic to Ender’s plight that the reader can’t help but feel the same way. It’s what makes the book essential reading for every kid who has walked away from the protective embrace of his or her parents, which is to say every kid who has ever hit puberty. To be young is to feel alone, like an outcast, like a misfit. Adolescence is alienation.
PUBLISHED: Nov. 1, 2013
LENGTH: 18 minutes (4737 words)
Former players, broadcasters, fans and city officials look back on the Giants-A’s series and the devastating 6.9 quake that rocked Candlestick Park and the Bay Area:
"McGwire: We thought the whole place was burning up like in 1906.
"George Thurlow, fan, upper deck: The mood of the crowd was jubilant and excited and Wow, that was cool until the first radio announcements began. The first one that I have written down was, ‘The Bay Bridge is down.’
"Dolich: They didn’t say a piece collapsed. It was, ‘The Bay Bridge collapsed.’ You can only think, Oh my god, this is a horror movie coming true.
PUBLISHED: Oct. 25, 2013
LENGTH: 47 minutes (11754 words)
A brief history of Harvey Weinstein’s relationship with filmmakers and the editing room. Does he make movies better—or are Good Harvey and Bad Harvey working together?
“Plenty of filmmakers have lambasted Weinstein for his savage butchery — Luc Besson, Mike Leigh, James Ivory — while others have praised Harvey for helping them find their film in the editing room. Scorsese himself told Roger Ebert that the 168-minute version of Gangs — which was Scorsese’s most successful film in the decade since Cape Fear — is his director’s cut, which might be true. But it’s definitely true that any discussion of the editing of Gangs of New York always calls to mind, as critic Peter Bradshaw put it, ‘a butcher — an unprincipled villain who cuts and slashes, mangles and chomps: Harvey Weinstein.’”
PUBLISHED: Oct. 17, 2013
LENGTH: 12 minutes (3131 words)
An open letter to Grand Theft Auto IV's protagonist Niko Bellic about Grand Theft Auto V and video game culture:
"Almost everyone I know who loves video games — myself included — is broken in some fundamental way. With their ceaseless activity and risk-reward compulsion loops, games also soothe broken people. This is not a criticism. Fanatical readers tend to be broken people. The type of person who goes to see four movies a week alone is a broken person. Any medium that allows someone to spend monastic amounts of time by him- or herself, wandering the gloaming of imagination and reality, is doomed to be adored by lost, lonely people. But let's be honest: Spending the weekend in bed reading the collected works of Joan Didion is doing different things to your mind than spending the weekend on the couch racing cars around Los Santos. Again, not a criticism. The human mind contains enough room for both types of experience. Unfortunately, the mental activity generated by playing games is not much valued by non-gamers; in fact, play is hardly ever valued within American culture, unless it involves a $13 million signing bonus. Solitary play can feel especially shameful, and we gamers have internalized that vaguely masturbatory shame, even those of us who've decided that solitary play can be profoundly meaningful. Niko, I've thought about this a lot, and internalized residual shame is the best explanation I have to account for the cesspool of negativity that sits stagnating at the center of video-game culture, which right now seems worse than it's ever been."
PUBLISHED: Sept. 25, 2013
LENGTH: 10 minutes (2650 words)
Picks this week from Mother Jones, Slate, Grantland, The Washington Post, Film Comment, The Paris Review, and a guest pick by The Boston Globe's Baxter Holmes.