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All That and a Bag of Mail returns this week with Jaws talk — the movie not the NFL quarterback, how hot could it get without us boiling, y’all tracking down one of the Bama fans who threatened to kill me on Facebook, why ESPN has lost its way, were Auburn fans sending death threats to make Alabama fans look bad, and more.
Dive in now.
Our beaver pelt trader of the week goes to Nicholas Schmidle, who wrote an amazing New Yorker piece on the raid that took down Osama bin Laden. Maybe the best work of nonfiction in America this year. You must read this. I’ve even put it in a single page view for you. Because, let’s be honest, it’s late Thursday or anytime on Friday and you’re looking for any excuse to not have to work right now.
I know, I see you. That’s what the mailbag is for, to help you get through the rest of the week.
So let’s dive in:
Jenny B. writes:
Clay, it was 114 in Little Rock, Arkansas yesterday. That’s the hottest it’s ever been been here. So it got me wondering, how hot could it get on Earth? Like if global warming really exists, what could the new high be in the South in 100 years?
Could it hit 140? 160? 200 degrees?
When would humans boil or burn?
What an uplifting question to start the mailbag. Yesterday in my car the temperature gauge showed 110 degrees. That was after driving for a half-hour. My temperature gauge has never been that high. Ever. One of the signs in downtown Nashville was showing 108.
My three-year old got out of the car and he said, “Daddy, the air hurts.”
And I knew exactly what he meant.
Then I got your email last night and decided to do research. The hottest it has ever been in the world was: “El Azizia in Libya where the temperature reached a scorching 136 degrees Fahrenheit (57.8 Celsius) on Sept. 13, 1922.”
The second hottest place ever is in Death Valley, California where, according to the same site, “it got up to 134 Fahrenheit (57.8 Celsius) on July 10, 1913.”
I have no idea on what the temperature would have to be for us to be unable to, for instance, go outside and survive.
I’m about to cut the grass in my yard right now, at around 98 degrees, and I’m not sure I’ll survive that.
At 134 degrees it would probably be impossible to cut your grass without passing out. Someone out there knows the answer to this question though, we need it.
Todd H. writes:
Hi Clay, Let me start by apologizing for the behavior of my fellow Alabama “fans.” I sit behind some of these fans at games and it’s difficult to keep my eyes from rolling out of my head. These “fans” exist at every major sports arena. It seems, however, that we just have more time for it in Alabama. Take the LA Dodgers and their owner filing for bankruptcy. In LA, I’m sure it’s just a bummer and they move on with their day. Take that same situation and make the MLB team, the Red Sox…..we have a dead owner hanging from Pesky Pole. Why? I believe it’s more Blue-collar there, it’s colder and less to enjoy about the surrounding area. In Alabama, we have the Tide and Auburn. That’s it. So when someone upsets the apple cart, the people that have nothing else to live for come out, whether the rest of us like it or not. So again, I apologize for the recent communication you have received from these people and I hope it stops soon. (But I do not hold my breath)
Credit to Alabama fans, I actually got a ton of these emails after posting the death threats in last week’s mailbag.
And I know the vast majority of you are sane, normal human beings.
My theory all along has been that no matter who you root for at least 15% of your fan base fulfills the worst stereotypes of fandom. And often those are the only fans anyone else notices. For instance, and I love this story, when we pitched Dixieland Delight to a major New York publishing house, she declined to publish it emailing, “SEC fans don’t actually read.”
Sales proved her wrong, but I loved how pejorative and sweeping the statement was. Clearly she was thinking of the 15% of fans who, quite honestly, probably can’t read.
That’s why I’ve always said it’s a shame we can’t colonize a team and only allow fans in who can correctly distinguish between your and you’re. That’s it, just that test.
Show them this sentence, that gets emailed or Tweeted to me at least once a day: “Your gay,” and say, “Does this apply to Richard Simmons?”
If they say yes, they’re out of the fan base.
(Note, I would hope that spelling and grammar failings won’t knock the OKTC writers, or me, out of the mix either. One of the things we’re ironing out here is the fact that the software we write on doesn’t have a spellcheck function. So we’ve had some spelling errors in the first couple of weeks of the site. Those will likely continue. But hopefully less frequently. Who am I kidding, they will probably continue for all time.)
Mark H. writes:
My skin just about crawled off of me the other day during the Jaws talk. I have trouble at the ocean because when I was little, I saw the movie Jaws. Soon after that I saw the scene from James Bond Thunderball where they release sharks into the pool and kill two men.
Yes, that ruined pools for me for a long time.
On 3 Hour Lunch, our Nashville radio show, I argued that Jaws is the single most-terrifying movie in terms of the way that it has impacted our lives. That is, every single person who goes into the ocean thinks about sharks after seeing that movie.
Think about the power of Jaws. When I was eight or nine I used to get terrified swimming in a regular pool by myself. That damn themesong music would rise up in my head and I’d be terrified.
In a pool!
Which got me thinking, what are the three most terrifying movies or TV shows of all time in terms of actually impacting your life as an adult? For instance, Freddy Krueger or Michael Myers were terrifying — I’d even argue that Halloween is the single most terrifying movie of all time to watch once — but those aren’t really terrifying movies now.
You might have been afraid to go to sleep then, but you aren’t now.
What still impacts us today?
Here’s my trio:
The stabbing in the shower scene is old school, but anyone who has seen it still finds him or herself opening the shower curtain every now or then to make sure you aren’t about to get stabbed.
3. Unsolved Mysteries
That theme song music plus the fact that all these killers were out there was downright terrifying. If I’m in a house by myself still, at the age of 32, I won’t watch.
Send in your nominees. I’m sure I’m missing some that I’d agree with. But no way is Jaws getting bumped out of the top spot.
Jonathan S. writes:
Ken Griffey Jr.’s Upper Deck card was the Holy Grail! It’s all I wanted when I was 12.
This may sound paranoid, but it’s not – don’t put it past idiot fans of Auburn to send you death threats posing as idiot fans of Alabama.
You know a rivalry is intense when Bama fans are accusing Auburn fans of double-agent status in an effort to drive down the perception of the rival program.
The only thing wackier than this idea was that you guys were able to track down one of the guys who threatened to kill me based on his email address. Keep reading for that guy.
Kevin G. writes:
What happened to the ESPN we grew up with? The ESPN that we would stay up to watch the 11 o’clock SportsCenter (there wasn’t a Baseball Tonight) to see the highlights from the baseball games and get the latest sport news those corporate news channels were giving in only three minutes. Watching Dan Patrick, Bob Ley, Keith Olbermann, Craig Kilborn, Charley Steiner and many many others was so much better than the stiffs on the other channels.
Now ESPN is the 800 lb corporate gorilla. Now players/schools/teams are scared to say anything bad about ESPN for fear of being boycotted by ESPN (see a Southern California’s college players quote about not wanting to support Bruce Feldman). Seriously, I want to know the dirt Craig James has on the ESPN brass.
Notice the lack of coverage with regards to SEC Expansion (they sure don’t want to re-open those TV negotiations) or anything having to do with Mike Leach. They have a love affair with the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and NY Mets (why? ratings of course!). ESPN couldn’t show enough coverage of Cam Newton last year, yet they were the last to get on the Ohio State train and I have yet to see them say one bit about the current happenings in T-Town.
The problem is, everyone is scared about saying anything bad about ESPN or not signing with ESPN as then ESPN will shut off the PR machine, No College Gameday visits, no highlights on SportsCenter, no analysis on Pardon the Interruption, it goes on and on. The NHL is having a slow and painful death in the country because of the lack of coverage provided by ESPN (heck teams are moving back to Canada!).
We have created a Marxist state in ESPN. You will like only what ESPN likes. You will watch only what ESPN has on their family of networks. You will support only the sports ESPN endorses. We need to find and support a competitor.
This is a great email. I’m going to write more about the future of ESPN next week, but I think what makes most of us the saddest about ESPN is how much in tune with the true sports fan the network used to be. I’m like you, I romanticize the time when I’d get to stay up late to watch SportsCenter to see the actual highlights. But keep in mind back in those days there were no highlights anywhere else. No Internet, no Twitter feed, and there weren’t very many games actually televised in the grand scheme of things.
I mean, when was the last time you watched SportsCenter not knowing if your team won or lost?
I used to do that all the time with baseball. I loved the Cincinnati Reds, but I didn’t get all their games. So I’d either wait until the next day’s paper arrived and read the small AP box score or I’d stay up late and watch the highlights. I remember how tough it was to sit through the other highlights, how tantalizing the teasers were, when you didn’t know which way the final score was headed. Were the Reds going to win or lose?
My point is we all know the results now. The only time I watch ESPN — and this is completely true — is for the actual sporting events. (Prior to kids I always watched PTI, but now I’m watching Caillou or something like that on Sprout at that time. I know, just shoot me.)
Back in the day ESPN had hardly any actual sporting events, they just brought you the highlights and stories that your local news didn’t have the time to carry. They had the luxury of time for a sports fan when no one else gave sports fans that luxury. Now no one has the luxury of time. Well, almost no one, sports talk radio is the last bastion of time luxury, a medium that exists solely to help sports fans pass the time.
Everything else: Twitter, stories, television, it all has to be immediate.
ESPN is still capable of great things — think the 30 for 30 series — but all too often it has become a corporate behemoth that does what corporate behemoths do — avoid all controversy lest you offend someone.
As soon as that becomes the primary goal of any creative company — and eventually it does at most places — you’re a dead company walking.
Jeffrey M. writes:
The Bama fan, Robbie, who left his email. Type his email into the search function of facebook and see what you find. Comedic Gold.
There are no words. This guy really wants to kill me?
Michael R. writes:
I am creating a new site called claytravisisamoron.com! Kind of catchy, huh? Seriously give some other examples of what you would call it cause I know you can’t think of yourself being any different. You know how you got to where you are? Frankly I dont know how the hell you got where you are!… Your team sucks so you have to try and bring someone elses down! You can’t stand to see the Crimson Tide on top so you try to find anything you can! In case you havent figured it out yet, yes I’m a Bammer! However I’m the type of fan who loves watching good college football, when rivalries are on equal footing. Last year we almost finally had an iron bowl that meant the west if we hadnt choked at LSU! … Actually I just figured it out as I was writing that sentence! Scarbinsky! Please go write something you know about!
Now that sounds good!
If you are a grown man and you write an email with more than one exclamation point, you should be lobotomized for the good of society.
I will accept no argument to the contrary. This should be law.
The mailbag is now brought to you by Counsel on Call, which is one of the best legal companies in the country.
I’ll tell you why. Because when I was writing Dixieland Delight I needed a way to make a living as a lawyer while still taking the risk of going on the road to write a book that hadn’t been sold to any publisher. That’s a terrifying decision to make because most lawyers don’t have any schedule flexibility and most of us don’t have the financial wherewithal to quit the law cold turkey.
So how could I write the book and still have money to live on? Counsel on Call was the answer.
I had to write this book. So I took the risk and Counsel on Call provided me the safety net. I knew if the book idea bombed, or my CBS column tanked, I could always practice law with them while continuing to pursue my harebrained writing career. And while I was writing the book I was still practicing law.
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