Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Great Comments I Somehow Missed and Which Have Now Grown Moldy in My Inbox

Submitted, in most cases, by your fellow commenters.

This comment was submitted to me ages ago as a hat-tip to Norm_De_Plume for his "perfect example of riffing on a joke." Nice work.

This comment from Gamboa Constrictor was submitted by none other than Deadspin's own Jack Dickey, who was made to "guffaw and cringe at the same time." We've come to expect nothing less from ol' Gambooey.

This comment from dont-forget-where-you-came-from-cheese-mac was submitted as an example of a contribution that deserved a little more attention than it received. In this case, it received zero attention.

This comment, also from Gamboa Constrictor, was submitted as a favorite comment of the year and compared to "hitting a grand slam in game 7 of a World Series." Apparently, the nominator and his wife still laugh about it.

This comment from IronMikeGallego was submitted for being a terrific DUAN contribution, and despite getting a fairly huge amount of praise immediately. Nevermind - it's terrific.

This comment from Bevraj of Choice was referred to as COTY-worthy. This is not the first time a Bevraj of Choice comment has been so-nominated. The guy's a powerhouse.

And finally, I was asked to comment on this comment, from Raysism, in the recent (and incredible) Spider Bite post. I won't comment on it much, other than to say that it is excellent, that I laughed aloud when I read it, and that I would not have seen it ever if not for the email heads-up.

Unbelievably, I still have some material coming down the pike. It will be interesting to see whether anyone actually reads it. But, at any rate, I'm posting it. I am no longer saddled with my obnoxious 9-5 job, as of this very evening. Though I will be very busy - too busy, by far, to even dream of resurrecting the daily roundups - I will now have enough free time to at least read Deadspin comments, and do some honest-to-God writing now and then. Sense-of-perspective free, dignity-annihilating, eyeball-searingly highfaluttin pieces on the mechanics of humor as they relate to the business of offering comments on a sports website will, against all reason and logic, be included under the heading of "honest-to-God writing", much to the disbelief of the many legions of decent folk who have long since abandoned any hope of salvaging even the flimsiest remnants of meaning in my continued existence.

Up next: why jokes about Taylor Buchholz's vagina-like psyche, a bunch of lazy layabouts in Somalia, and Amy Winehouse's minor self-control issues are fine by me.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

It's Not You, It's Me. (It's Really You.)

So, I had this whole long piece put together here about the +1 and my own indefensibly simplistic rant on the topic last week, and it was to go atop the following programming note. However, it's been a couple of days now and [hopefully] nobody cares anymore about the +1 mess. The crux of the piece was that dont-forget-where-you-came-from-cheese-mac and I ultimately agree on the use of the +1, although we approach it from different angles (I think). Make great jokes and appreciate the great jokes of others. If anyone's still interested, maybe I'll post it sometime down the line. At any rate, for now, let's leave it in the vault.

Now, that programming note:

It's very possible that you've read your last Mad Bastards All daily Roundup. Way back in March or whatever, doing a roundup was as easy as looking for Steve_U's three best comments, picking a joke from shuttledik to rough up, brainstorming a few preferably-hyphenated ways to call someone a moron, and slapping the whole thing together quickly. It took me 20 minutes. And nobody knew this thing existed. It was a goofy intellectual exercise, a way for a scatterbrained person to organize his observations into something coherent. In short, I could skip a dozen roundups or not bother with links and it didn't matter. Then, sometime in spring, our first love Gamboa Constrictor outed us to DUAN, significantly upping the ante. Sometime around then also, as folks got more and more comfortable with the new Deadspin and some of the quirks and bugs were worked out, commenting started to surge back to previous levels. Keeping up with that surge has been hugely time-consuming. I'm embarrassed to say I have spent as long as 4 hours on a single roundup, which is roughly twice the time I spend each day on things that lead to a paycheck. Still, the attention was fun and I like to think we had an interesting conversation or two about mechanics along the way. But now, and for now, I'm no longer able to keep up in a way that is interesting but not enormously time-consuming. I can chronicle good and bad comments, but digging up any meaningful analysis is increasingly difficult. Redundancy abounds. That redundancy is additional weight. It's a mad, spinning whirlpool of neuroses. My psyche is in tatters. Just last week, I killed 2 dozen tourists from a perch atop the Washington Monument. I'm sure it was in all the news.

I'm sure we'll still push out the occasional Profile in Commenting and as many long-form pieces as I can talk myself into, but look: Deadspin commenting seems to be in a very healthy place these days. It was decidedly not back in March. Little did I know, back then, how impossible the roundups would be to maintain if things ever picked back up again. Going forward, I expect I'll nod in the direction of some hugely successful comments, especially if I feel like I have something interesting to say about them. Similarly, I reserve the right to beat up on the occasional piece-of-crap comment with as much vitriol as I can muster. I like writing things. Just not daily roundups. Or, at any rate, boy oh boy do I not have time to do those right.

Here are some numbers you might find interesting:

We started the Roundups in March 2011, roughly.

March Pageviews: 175 (of which I'm sure 169 were me)

As of April 20th, we were on pace for about 250 or so pageviews for the month. On April 21st, in DUAN, Gamboa Constrictor announced our existence.

April Pageviews: 11,207

May Pageviews: 13,573

June Pageviews: 18,652

Our five most popular posts were:

1. I'm Having That Dream Where I'm Wearing Only My Underwear in Public, from April 21st. This was our response to being outed. 651 pageviews.

2. Thursday Roundup, from June 2nd. I have no idea why this particular Roundup was our second most popular post ever. 444 pageviews, most of which came that evening.

3. THERE ARE NO LAUGHS BUT THOSE THAT OBEY, from June 3rd. This was our response to a back-and-forth that took place in our comments. 424 pageviews.

4. Guest Lectures in Commenting: dont-forget-where-you-came-from-cheese-mac, from April 28th. Our first ever Guest Lecture, coincidentally featuring the +1. 354 pageviews.

5. Profiles in Commenting: AzureTexan, from May 5th. In my humble opinion, our finest moment as a blog and the most fun I've had doing this thing. 324 pageviews.

To be clear: I'm not shutting this thing down entirely. I'm just stopping the roundups immediately. If someone wants to step in and do some roundups, email It might take me a few days to find your email - I'm steadfastly avoiding that email account in the wake of the +1 debate. It looks like all hell's breaking loose in there.

Thanks for reading. Keep doin' your damn thing.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Wednesday Roundup

Favorites and duds from Wednesday's commenting.

, in no particular order:

Here's a damn funny one-liner from ClueHeywood in the Pene en Paz post. I thought that was a brutal misspelling for at least a minute while I considered the joke. Yes, I'm a moron.

And here's an excellent dig at Tony Romo from our guy All Over But The Sharting in the Roy Williams post. After the first sentence, you have an idea where this joke is going - it's going to be a shot at the recent playoff futility of the Dallas Cowboys. I am endlessly interested in the various avenues to tension/release, and this is one of my favorites.

Here's your comment of the day, from AzureTexan in the Roy Williams post. AzureTexan was on fire on Wednesday. For my money, he's as consistently funny as anyone on Deadspin. In the WNBA Violence post, his Jeffrey Dahmer menu was flat-out hysterical. And finally, here's your other comment of the day, in the Michael Beasley post. I fucking roared with laughter when I read this. Excellent job.

I also guffawed loudly at this delicious joke from Eddie Murray Sparkles in the WNBA Violence post. I was surprised this comment didn't get a little more attention. That's a goddamn perfect recontextualization.

brought the house down with this joke in the WNBA Violence post. Phintastic can knock one out of the park just like everyone else. The problems come up when he settles for the easy crap. I'm willing to consider the notion that some commenters are volume scorers, to borrow a basketball term. I wish it weren't so. Anyway, this was a great comment.

Here's a terrific comment from unstarred commenter AirBratz23 in the MLB Infographics post. AirBratz23 is, in my opinion, much too worried about starrings and the like, and that lack of focus often shows up in his commenting. This, however, is a great job, and for his efforts his comment was promoted and showered with praise. More of this, kiddo.

I am in agreement with IronMikeGallego: this comment, from MarkKelsosMigraine, in the Angry Doris post, is hysterical. By the time I got to Ulysses S. Grant, I was positively giddy about where this joke was going. Goddammit, that is fucking hilarious.

And finally, here's an awesome little paragraph from Stev D in the Barry Halper post. I chuckled aloud at this. Stev D has a particular style as a Deadspin commenter: his comments frequently suggest a hilarious, goofy obtuseness, and the more acquainted you are with that style, the funnier each successive comment becomes.

Total Fucking Duds

Here's something truly confusing from unstarred commenter Beall49 in the World Series Baby post. Are we to believe that Beall49 is a member of the Giants? Or are we to extract humor from the sheer arrogance of the line? Or is it, in fact, meant to be funny at all? I will never know.

This is just a shameful Drew Magary impression from unstarred commenter PenskeMaterial in the Angry Doris post. This happens so, so often. Drew is funny and distinctive, and your knock-off is not. Develop your own commenting style.

Unstarred commenter AirBratz23 earned a rare double today, crapping the bed with this lousy rent-a-joke in the Angry Doris post. C'mon, guy. This will never do. AirBratz23 has been around long enough to know better than this.

Unstarred commenter Bubbleman! Don't Metalblade me bro! should be banned for not caring one iota about the rule of Deadspin commenting. He demonstrates that attitude in this small thread in the Michael Beasley post. This guy sucks. Get rid of him.

And finally, here's a perfectly valid observation from unstarred commenter Todd Bertuzzi Chiropractic in the Wimbledon post. Obviously, Deadspin's comments section is not the place for a perfectly valid observation. Save that stuff for DUAN, and you might have yourself a real conversation starter.

Thanks for reading, hombres. I'll be back on schedule soon. Or not. At any rate, hey, kick ass.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Tuesday Roundup

Favorites and duds from Tuesday's commenting.

, in no particular order:

Hit Bull Win Steak brought the house down with this loud contribution to the Outtakes post. Obviously the caps serve to impart tone to the joke, and that's at least half of the humor here.

Also in the Outtakes post, dont-forget-where-you-came-from-cheese-mac cracked me up with this simple one-liner, reworking the notion of "stars" into a clever dig at Bart Calendar. Nice work.

And finally (that's right, only three), Eddie Murray Sparkles contributed this hysterical recontextualization to the LeBron's Decision post. I'm still chuckling about this one.

Total Fucking Duds

Unstarred commenter EsotericPopCulturePun was viciously mocked by the comment_ninja for this wholly worthless contribution to the Derek Jeter post. I was recently engaged in a conversation about this kind of commenting, and it's worth getting into a little bit: there seems to be an entire group of [mostly] unstarred commenters who fundamentally misunderstand what Deadspin commenting is all about. Way back in April, we ran a piece entitled "It's as if you don't even know what we do around here.", wherein we tackled this apparent misunderstanding. I'd just like to tack on a little frustration and hostility: Deadspin is not a chat-room. It's not a community forum, at all. It's absolutely not a place where you write things because you like to be read. It's not an open-mic, it's not a conversation, it's not an exchange of ideas. No matter how much you may want it to be those things, it is never, under any circumstances, any of those things. Your attempts at usurping Deadspin's comment privileges for things other than making strangers laugh are glaring and boring and wholly unwelcome. We make jokes here, and that's it. Jesus, that should be so simple and so so so fun. Why in God's name would anyone ever deviate? Why would anyone ever feel compelled to write "durrr I hate the Yankees and Derek Jeter durrr" when they could, instead, make jokes and be funny and laugh and have a good time? This astonishes me.

Guvmint_Cheese missed the mark badly with this miserable, joyless, dead-on-arrival offering in the Toe Sucking post. At least it's an attempt at humor, but look; farting out some wholly unoriginal version of a roadkill meme is virtually as hostile to Deadspin's standards as flouting the rules altogether. Most new commenters have been guilty of this at one time or another. Here's the thing: at best, Guvmint_Cheese was shooting for a C+ with this comment. Don't ever do that. Not every comment has to be sophisticated, but every comment should be shooting for an A.

And there it is. Before I send you off to DUAN, I just want to say this, and some of you will no-doubt disagree strongly with me, but remember: I can delete your comments:

In my opinion, the quality of Deadspin commenting rises and falls along with the amount of feedback commenters get for their work. I have observed a marked decline in both the funniness and the creativity of Deadspin comments recently since a DUAN thread convinced everyone to stop throwing +1s around. There are those among you who will cite any number of opposing ideas, such as: +1s should only go to the best of the best; +1s create and enforce a herd mentality; +1s lead to unspoken quid pro quo arrangements between commenters; etc. Okay, fine. My retort is this: +1s lead to better jokes. All you need to consider for this to hit home is the notion of a stand-up comic delivering a routine to a room full of perfectly silent observers, versus delivering a routine to an approving, engaging crowd. Performance and energy and humor thrive on encouragement. When a commenter leaves a good joke and it echoes in an empty chamber, his confidence suffers. It does. Not one Deadspin commenter who I have ever observed can claim to regularly experience anything different. On the other hand, a good joke that is affirmed by another or a crowd of commenters emboldens the commenter and helps create the kind of fun, joyous, supportive environment where humor thrives.

So, admonitions from dour, joyless, pinched-sphincter types notwithstanding, fucking engage your fellow commenters. If you like the joke, if you laughed, if you think it's worth a +1, fucking give it a +1. It may not look pretty on the page, but goddammit, if Deadspin aspires to have the funniest comments section on the internet, shelve all the other crap and recognize that the quality of commenting is served by this kind of feedback.

So there. Happy fucking DUAN.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Friday Roundup

Favorites and duds from Friday's commenting.

, in no particular order:

I laughed at this outrageous comment by SavetoFavorites in the Wake Up Deadspin post, and when I say I laughed, I mean I really fucking laughed. Sustained, uncontrollable, out-of-breath style laughter. I think it's fair to say, at this point, that SavetoFavorites has developed a specific voice with this kind of joke, and that the recognition of that voice in each subsequent offering makes the jokes funnier and funnier. In other words, by now, the long, whimsical, off-the-wall-silly comments have become SavetoFavorites' "olive oil voice and guinea charm" jokes. And that's a good thing. I mean it when I say I spend all day laughing at his stuff.

Here's an astonishing Dr. Seuss re-write from UweBollocks in the Wake Up Deadspin post. I have mentioned this before, but UweBollocks has a special skill when it comes to reworking pop-culture reference points into what are usually very clever wordplay jokes. Song and album titles, lyrics, celebrities, book titles and characters, television and movie references - I don't know if this guy's a pop-culture savant or what, but it's pretty damn impressive.

ToddReesingsTurfFacial cracked me up with the misdirection in this excellent Steve Phillips dig in the Bobby Bonilla post. Glad to see this one was promoted. When we talk about grinding, ToddReesingsTurfFacial comes to mind because, at various points in his commenting tenure, he's been as guilty of it as anyone. But when he takes his time and resists the urge to carpet-bomb each post, he can fire off some really terrific stuff.

IronMikeGallego wowed the crowd with this unexpected dig at (of all things) Alabama's congressional ballot in the Bobby Bonilla post. Where the hell did that come from? Nevermind - I'm apparently a sucker for direct shots at vulnerable targets. I will now go make fun of a homeless man for being dirty.

Theodore Donald Kerabatsos cracked me up with this hilarious Oscar the Grouch joke in the Deion Jr. post. This, of course, pulls the "darkening something inherently innocent" string, and I am powerless against that particular brand of humor.

And finally, I chuckled at this "beat the clock" joke from Same Sad Echo in the Asafa Powell post. It has that charming silliness that is characteristic of Same Sad Echo's best stuff. And I was in the mood for that on Friday. Many, many excellent Deadspin comments are clever and sophisticated and astute, but today I focused on comments that made me really laugh. I can do that.

Total Fucking Duds

Unstarred commenter Yotto aimed too low with the delivery of this comment in the Wake Up Deadspin post. I chose this comment because I think it's an example of commentary (versus joke-making), and I think it's illustrative of the degree of difficulty in that kind of contribution. The idea behind this comment could be packaged as a punchline in a joke, but sometimes we are all put off a bit by the artificial tone of a joke versus the directness of commentary. But how to maximize the impact of an idea, how to make it funny, while maintaining the casual, authentic tone of commentary? Honestly, I have no answer for that. I suspect that the importance of the idea, of what's being said in commentary is magnified by the lack of set-up, and I guess the other part of the equation is the natural instinct for tone and timing the commenter brings along in his own easy style. I have no skill whatsoever for crafting or deconstructing this kind of joke, but I know when it makes me laugh, and this one did not. It instead made me cringe. It seemed grouchy and overly specific without any amount of wit to lift it.

This is probably the most joyless, uninspired way possible to make the "Lebron James is not clutch" joke, from unstarred commenter Orton hears a boo in the LeBron James Knockout post. Newer commenters sometimes fail to anticipate which angles to humor in a given post are likely to be saturated and tapped out within moments, and I suggest it's sort of an acquired skill that comes with time. But a post that deals with LeBron competing at anything in just about any way is likely to bring to anyone's mind the whole "LeBron is not clutch" angle. As a commenter, you don't want any part of the race to get there first - if anything, once you've identified which is the cheapest, easiest angle in a post, you want to avoid it altogether. But if you do decide to go for the low-hanging fruit, you can't also settle for a cheap presentation, which is obviously what happened here.

And finally, I'm not sure how this was ever supposed to work, from unstarred commenter albo in the Joe Paterno post. Again, it's an attempt at commentary, so I won't savage it too badly. I think the impact line here is supposed to be "wiry Italian grandpa strength", but I honestly can't come up with a way to make that actually funny. I almost feel like this would need to be part of a monologue or routine in order to tease out whatever humor is in there. Examples of wiry Italian grandpa strength or something. At any rate, for a one-liner, I suspect the idea just doesn't have enough juice.

On a side note, I recommend the individual members of the commentariat try to take it a little easier. Relax some. I know commenting is a bit stressful, and I fully acknowledge and regret the role Mad Bastards All might play in magnifying that anxiety, but it's supposed to be fun. Commenters should be rooting for each other. Commenters should be reading posts, making jokes, laughing at other jokes, slapping each other on the back, and hoping for the next great comment, no matter who it comes from. In my opinion, way too much energy is going into worrying about who has a star and why, who is getting +1s and why, who got mentioned on this stupid blog and why, etc. Deadspin commenting is fun, it's a hobby, it's something silly and joyful we do in a day to keep ourselves distracted. Take it easy. Know the rule of Deadspin commenting, do your best to uphold it, take pride in your comments, and let the other crap go. Believe me, we're shoveling enough of it over here for everyone.

And that's it, folks. Have a great holiday weekend.

DUAAAAAAN!! [said in the manner of KAAAAAAHN!!]