Writing on the Side

Here’s a break from the platinum coin, Hagelian thesis/antithesis and roasting to death in the Australian Outback:

* Chris Kluwe is the Vikings’ punter and also good writer. Here’s a Mother Jones interview (via).

* Patrick Smith used to write the column Ask the Pilot at Salon, until they inexplicably and stupidly got rid of it. Now he has his own site and he’s got the latest on the 787 Dreamliner, if you’re interested in that kind of thing.

* Nate Silver isn’t really writing on the side, but he had a good I Am A (IAmA) Q&A on Reddit yesterday. Here’s an edited version at the Times.

Update: Kluwe was on Colbert last night – here’s the video.

44 replies
  1. 1
    Kurzleg says:

    While I like Kluwe’s politics, his writing is a mixed bag. He often comes off as condescending (his Ray Guy tirade is a great example).

  2. 2
    Booger says:

    I think that’s “Ask Me Anything.”

  3. 3
    Violet says:

    I remember Patrick Smith when he wrote for Salon as just “P. Smith” and wouldn’t release his whole name or who he worked for. He was concerned about losing his job, I think. Always enjoyed reading his writing. I didn’t know they’d gotten rid of the column. That’s stupid.

  4. 4
    mistermix says:

    @Booger: The categories are

    IAmA = “I am a”
    AMA = “Ask me anything”
    AMAA = “Ask me almost anything”

  5. 5
    mistermix says:

    @Kurzleg: Is it possible to be too condescending to sportswriters? Serious question. Most of them seem awful, not that I’m a big reader of the sports page.

    When I used to watch pro football, when I was in high school, I remember watching Ray Guy. He was amazing. He deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.

  6. 6
    The Red Pen says:

    I subscribed to Salon for a while and they kept axing everything I liked about the site so I left. I rarely even read it anymore.

  7. 7
    Sapheriel says:

    Chris Kluwe is on a real PR blitz. He even wrote a piece for the Trenches webcomic: http://trenchescomic.com/tales.....nd-fortune

  8. 8
    Kurzleg says:


    I didn’t like the tone of Kluwe’s Ray Guy piece. It was needlessly provocative and condescending.

    I remember Guy as well, mostly for getting great hang time. Guy and other punters have been unfairly excluded from the Hall because of the position they play. That’s pretty clear, and Guy should probably be inducted.

    However,this piece http://fifthdown.blogs.nytimes.....candidacy/ examines Guy in more detail and places some context on his career while dispelling an falsehood (that he never had a punt returned for a touchdown).

  9. 9
    Schlemizel says:


    Thats why I was very careful about cheering on his anti-homophobe rant. Even when he is right he has the ability to come off as a bit of a jackass. I am afraid having him on our side could come back to bite liberals in the butt.

  10. 10
    Crop Dusted says:

    Why do people think Chris Kluwe is a “good writer”? He is not. Even relative to other athletes who write (Jim Bouton, e.g.), Kluwe is thin sauce.
    He is awesome for speaking out on marriage equality (though even this needs to be qualified “for a professional athlete”)

  11. 11
    bloviator says:

    Patrick Smith’s column was one of the best things on Salon, and I’ve been enjoying his new website. It belongs in folks’ bookmarks, according to me.

  12. 12
    Amir Khalid says:

    @The Red Pen:
    I too read Salon less and less. In the past few years they’ve got rid of the best writers at the place, the ones who made it worth going to, and replaced them with bought-in content, or with less-able writers. I did subscribe once, but then the slide started so I didn’t renew.

  13. 13
    Comrade Jake says:

    Please tell me Kluwe got to say “cockmonster” on Colbert’s show.

  14. 14
    Anya says:

    the Presidential Inaugural Committee has announced that Richard Blanco will be President Obama’s 2013 inauguration poet.

    Obama Selects Gay Latino Poet Richard Blanco to Read at Inauguration Ceremony

    I am so excited about this choice because Blanco speaks to me. I love his poems. You can listen to him here.

  15. 15
    Violet says:

    @Amir Khalid: When Salon first started, back in the internet dark ages, it was wonderful. I read it every day, I think. Now I can’t even remember the last time I’ve visited it.

  16. 16
    scav says:

    sorry, some of the jackals are worried about “needlessly provocative and condescending”: thats practically a tagline here. may or may not be an issue for some and in certain contexts, but unexpected (if that’s even possible too) on this bywater of the intertrons.

  17. 17
    Mom Says I'm Handsome says:

    Thanks for the link to Patrick Smith’s new home. I was listening to totebag radio yesterday and they mentioned two recent 787 problems, and I thought, “I wonder what’s really going on.” I always liked Smith’s expertise while he was at Salon, even though he usually comes across as an arrogant hipster. And I’ll echo that I used to be a regular reader of Salon (a subscriber, even) and it’s pretty much shit these days.

  18. 18
    Culture of Truth says:

    “a bit of a jackass” – that’s practically a requirement for a prominent online writer, left or right. I think he’s cool. I mean, he’s no alex jones or bill o’reilly.

  19. 19
    scav says:

    but on the important stuff, it’s Cabin Pressure 4 day and Timbuktu and Birling Day!

  20. 20
    lol says:

    Kluwe’s appeal is that he’s a opinionated video game geek who happens to be a studly professional football player.

    He’s funny, self-deprecating and can turn a phrase fairly well.

  21. 21
    👽 Martin says:

    @Comrade Jake: Kluwe also got Colbert to say “cockmonster”.

    He’s a bit of a douchebag, but that’s pretty much par for the course for professional athletes.

  22. 22

    OT slightly but I e-mailed my cousin in Australia yesterday to make sure the family is safe in light of the fires and heat. Here’s a bit of her reply

    Yes, the fires are catastrophic in at least 4 states. NSW (the state we live in) seems to be the worst. Apparently there are 21 fires today that are burning out of control. The rest for the moment are contained but for how long, who knows. The heat is unbearable and the winds horrific. Yesterday it was over 40oC. At the airport (which is near where we live) at 1.40pm it was 42.2oC. Our home is safe as we are on the sea and have almost no bush around us.

    Yesterday we traveled home from a weeks holiday in the NSW snowy mountains. During the summer months when the snow is gone it usually doesn’t get above 25oC. The whole time we were there it was high 30’s. The chalets are not equipped for this kind of weather so they didn’t even have a fan for cooling. It was a good trip but bloody hot! The roads were so hot on Monday that rubber from the car tyres were sticking to the road. We left at 6am yesterday morning to head home as there were fires all around the snowy mountains and we were worried we may not be able to get out. Can’t imagine where you would go if the fire started at the bottom of the mountains and you are staying up in the mountain and there are no car trails. Anyway, our friends decided to stay – I hope they are safe. I know I have never experienced anything quite like what we are experiencing at the moment. They are saying that we may get relief by the weekend.

    But like Betty said below, it’s all a hoax cause Limbaugh says so.

  23. 23

    @Crop Dusted:

    Even relative to other athletes who write (Jim Bouton, e.g.), Kluwe is thin sauce.

    If you want an athlete who was actually a good writer, try Jim Brosnan. He worked as a writer (in advertizing) in the off-season and continued to write after he retired. Doug Glanville is also worth reading, though I think he could use some help with his style.

  24. 24
    Punchy says:

    who happens to be a studly professional football player.

    He’s a friggin punter. I think you need quotes around “studly” and “player”.

  25. 25
    lol says:


    You can’t deny that he’s a very good looking man.

  26. 26
    beltane says:

    While it’s not the Australian Outback, we’re supposed to be seeing temps in the 50s in northern New England this weekend. Very, very strange.

  27. 27
    Culture of Truth says:

    @lol: he’s a pro gay NFL player. there are worse things

  28. 28
    Mark S. says:

    There’s a very good chance no one will be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame today. I can’t remember, was Piazza implicated in using steroids?

  29. 29
    Culture of Truth says:

    @lol: sorry, I didn’t mean to post that as a reply to you. Just a general observation.

  30. 30
    Eric U. says:

    @mistermix: I remember going to a Virginia Tech game where Ray Guy was punting for the opponent. I always thought he won the game for them because their offense wasn’t that good and the difference in punters kept them moving down the field.

  31. 31
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @beltane: Lengthy and interesting article in the NYT last week about the expansion at Jay, how it’s being financed, etc. How’s that playing out locally in the Northeast Kingdom? To me as an occasional visitor, the slightly seedy character of the mountain was part of its appeal.

  32. 32
    Steeplejack says:

    @Mark S.:

    Not specifically, but the cloud seems to be hanging, rightly or wrongly, over everyone who played in that era.

  33. 33
    PaulW says:

    Drunk Nate Silver writes a note with just one name on it, seals it in an envelope, and hands it to his law firm with the message “not to open until 10:16 pm Eastern Standard of the 2016 Election Day.”

  34. 34

    @Mark S.:

    I can’t remember, was Piazza implicated in using steroids?

    Not in the conventional sense that anyone with firsthand knowledge has accused him or he’s been shown to have ties with any dealers. Yes in the McCarthyist sense that people who don’t like him have said that he must have been using because argle bargle gargle.

    ETA: And I bet that despite the hand wringing some of the guys who lack obvious steroid ties get in.

  35. 35
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Mark S.: They’ve kind of boxed themselves in, haven’t they. Biggio can’t go in because he is your typical threshold player – he got 3,000 hits and made some all star teams and was popular, but no one is confusing him with the studs. He’s Robin Yount without the MVPs. He would get in, but since they’ve decided to get rid of the magic numbers, he’s going to stall out. Because if you still have have magic numbers, someone like Rafael Palmeiro should get in, steroids or no steroids.

  36. 36
    PaulW says:

    @Mark S.:

    I don’t think Piazza was implicated, it’s that while he has some good batting stats he’s viewed as not an overall great player (I’m not sure off-hand what the knocks are, just that he has them).

    The real problem is with the Hall of Fame voting process itself. The voters are too inclusionary, not fans of the sabermetrics stuff, and rarely agree on any singular player deserving of Hall status.

    It’s rare anymore to see more than one player get voted in from the regular balloting (you’ll get one or two from the Veterans committee, and there was that time they worked on voting more Negro League players in to correct that oversight). So it’s not surprising that there will be years when NO ONE gets voted in. They need to open up the voting process by adding more voters (especially modern era generation), and rewrite the rules to allow it so that the top vote getter gets the nomination regardless of the voting percentage as well as lowering the percentage needed to get in. There may be an argument about not making it too easy to vote people into a Hall of Fame/Exemplary Performance (it cheapens the value), but it’s also wrong to make it too hard (it builds up bitterness and frustration, and in its own way devalues the Hall as well).

    I also think those who did admit or were caught using steroids should be banned. If any of them make it into the Hall, it tells us that cheaters can profit after all.

  37. 37
    RedKitten says:

    Any possibility of embedding that video? We Canuckistanis can’t see it.

  38. 38
    Suffern ACE says:

    @PaulW: the knock against Piazza is the fielding and that, while he was a slightly better batter, Ivan Rodriquez was both a great hitter and great catcher at the same time.

  39. 39
    Gian says:

    @Suffern ACE:
    Local sports radio said mike was a super late draft pick essentially as a family favor (expected to be a wash out) and had a massive increase in physical ability… but that’s just people talking on the radio.

  40. 40
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Gian: That’s funny. No anyone who does better than expected by scouts (who are, y’know, so totally right all the time) is going to be penalized.

  41. 41
    Kurzleg says:


    Sorry, missed this one. I guess I’d ask what condescension is likely to accomplish. Kluwe’s so over the top in his response that, in spite of the fact that he clearly takes the issue seriously, he has no chance to convince anyone who didn’t previously agree with him. He’s undermining his own cause.

    I also find it amusing that Kluwe writes, in reference to the voting committee, “YOU’RE UNWILLING TO LEARN” and then later perpetuates a falsehood about Guy never having a punt returned for a TD. (See the linked piece above for the details.)

    But, of course, YMMV. I live in Mpls and see and hear a lot about Kluwe. The guy’s very intelligent, but I’m not sure he’s using that intelligence as productively as he might.

  42. 42

    Let’s just let Kluwe be Kluwe. He doesn’t have any duty to use his intelligence as someone else sees fit. He doesn’t have to write “better” than anyone to make an impact. I agree with him that mockery is one of the only things that his targets understand.

    Any time that an athlete (and I’m even including punters here despite most of them doing more golfing than playing football) doesn’t become corrupted by fame and privilege to be an awful person, I’m all for it.

    I used to love reading Paul Shirley. But his racial resentment and glibertarian beliefs eventually came to the surface. http://www.flipcollective.com/.....l-shirley/

  43. 43
    Paul in KY says:

    @Suffern ACE: Steroids should make you not eligible, no matter what numbers you have. If Biggio did not use steroids, then he’s in the Hall.

  44. 44

    @Suffern ACE:
    Describing Piazza as a slightly better hitter than Rodriguez is laughable. Rodriguez hit for lower average (.296 vs. .308), didn’t walk as much (513 BB vs. 759), and had substantially less power (311 HR vs. 427). And that was playing his career in substantially more hitter friendly ballparks. To use sabermetric stats, Rodriguez hit .296/.334/.464 (106 OPS+) to Piazza’s .308/.377/.545 (143 OPS+). As a hitter, Piazza is in a completely different class from any other retired catcher in MLB history.

    And besides, it’s not as if Ivan Rodriguez is a marginal HOFer himself. Unless you’re going to ignore any player from the steroids era, he’s pretty much a no brainer. So even if you assume that Piazza comes out a bit behind in comparison- which I’m not willing to concede- “a bit behind a no-doubt HOFer” doesn’t seem like much of a knock against him.

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