Thursday, March 8, 2007

Last Night

Some quick thoughts on what I did last night (and then I really need to do some work – damn job).

So, I went to Gelf Magazine’s Varsity Letters at the Happy Ending Lounge. This particular bar is about 8 blocks from my office, so I knew there was no reason for me not to go – even though I couldn’t find one friend who was willing to go with me. But fuck it, I went anyway.

Last night’s theme was sports bloggers (I never saw it stated anywhere, but I’m guessing that’s right). And they had a particularly great group of guys lined up to speak – guys I read every day. They were reading some of their writing and answering questions. So, being a total sports dork – something I try to tone down here; we’ll see how long that actually lasts – I had known about this event for a little while. And I couldn’t stop myself from going.

I wandered over after work, slipped into the massage parlor turned bar, grabbed a scotch, and sat back to listen. It was packed. Someone told me Varsity Letters is not normally that popular, but thanks to a post on Deadspin by Will Leitch, who was one of the guys speaking last night, everyone and their mother showed up.

Now for those of you who don’t follow sports, or the sports blogging world (shame on you), Deadspin is kind of huge. And Leitch is the brains behind it. He created this blog a little over a year ago, and it has become an institution. Funny, constantly updated, has a great voice, and the commenters are first rate (not that I would know anything about commenters). I was definitely interested in hearing Leitch speak.

He didn’t disappoint. Reading just a snippet from his new book – which he promises will come out eventually and will (or, wait won’t) be called The Ballad of Ron Mexico, Leitch gave a Resources section/cliff notes overview of a few prominent sportscasters. Very smart and funny, which I already expected he would be.

What I didn’t expect was Matt Ufford. (I mean, I expected that he’d be there, but what he chose to read surprised me.) This is the guy behind some of my favorite at work reading – what can I say, I have a short attention span. His (now defunct) blog Karmic Payback was guaranteed entertainment; while not actually about sports, it was an invaluable look inside a man’s head that always made me laugh. I actually found Karmic Payback from the Kissing Suzy Kolber site (which I found from the Deadspin site – you can play this game for days), which is also a guaranteed laugh. But lately Ufford’s main job has been his With Leather site. And I’m not a huge fan of With Leather.

Why? Well, With Leather is a sports blog for guys, and I mean only guys. Blatantly not caring about a female audience, the site is definitely funny, but also definitely not aimed at me. Maybe it’s the pictures of women wearing…um, basically nothing, but I don’t get the feeling I’m wanted. Now I’m no prude, but I can take a hint.

But anyway, getting back on topic, last night I was expecting Ufford to be a guy’s guy, a showman, and a whore for a laugh. What I got was someone who came across as surprisingly deep – one of the pieces he chose to read was about 9/11 (he’s ex-military) – and (I can’t believe I’m going to say this) unexpectedly adorable. I was more than impressed.

Fuck, okay I’ve officially stepped over the line where this can be called “quick thoughts,” but I’ll leave with this: Dan Shanoff, who I never really liked that much from ESPN, was especially great (and Flowers for Algernon is one of my all-time favorite books – his piece was a parallel between his life and the book), and the guys from The Dugout were great (and everyone was psyched to have them there as they reigned from their booth in the back).

Overall, two thumbs up (good God I’m a dork). I would do it again. And now I will leave you with this photo of Ufford (on the left) and Leitch (on the right) – completely stolen off the Gelf site (photo courtesy of Keith Huang) – so you can have some sense of perspective about the people I’ve been talking about.

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