A little of this, a little of that
This is “What’s Making Me Happy This Week,” a weekly feature inspired by the Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast. It’s pretty self-explanatory.
What’s Making Me Happy This Week is a little bit of everything. With summer finally here, it’s nice to have so many little things making me happy. Like …
- The NBA Finals. I wrote once about the wonder of a Game 7, in the context of a first-round NBA playoff game with my beloved Brooklyn Nets. Last night was so much better than even that. A Game 7 with no tomorrow for either team. A championship on the line. Sports history being written before our very eyes. Legacies being written and rewritten. At least six future Hall of Fame players (not to mention coaches and executives) prominently involved. Arguably the greatest player of the post-Jordan era (Tim Duncan) going against the greatest player today (MVP LeBron James). I’ve written before about LeBron as well; seeing him play live spurred my first ever “What’s Making Me Happy This Week” entry. And last night’s Game 7 (together with Game 6, which was an instant classic as well) lived up to all possible expectations, as the teams played wonderful, elite-level basketball, worthy of a championship game, and the best player on the planet played like it. Even Spurs head coach Greg Popovich – who is normally ornery even during a mid-season all-but-meaningless regular season game, and so coming this close to a championship could have been a monster for the ages – had nothing but platitudes for his team and admiration for Miami. This was simply sports at its absolute best. While watching the game at a local bar I overheard one person say during the second half, “This is so good, they should just declare both teams champions.” I couldn’t have said it better.
- On an unrelated note, I received a surprise package this week that reminded me (yet again) that one of the things I love about music is how it brings people together. After the National’s show at Barclay’s Center earlier this month, I bumped into someone in the arena concourse who was lucky enough to get a copy of the setlist. I asked if I could take a photo of it (always thinking of you, dear readers). He offered to send me a copy of it and explained that he liked framing setlists, even though he hadn’t figured out the best way to display them. I texted this unnamed fan my address, expecting never to hear from him again. This week, I received a manilla envelope in the mail, with a setlist from the show printed in various sizes, another setlist, and a cool postcard with a kind note, all enclosed in a National “Trouble Will Find Me” folder. As I said, I never expected to hear from him again – I suppose I was feeling cynical about people that week. This package, which was above and beyond what even the optimistic version of me would have expected, made me feel good about people again.
- Finally, I was listening to an old podcast this week and it contained audio from this incredible 2009 video from The Onion. It’s called “Hot New Video Game Consists Solely Of Shooting People Point-Blank In The Face.” It’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like and yes, it is awesome. Setting personal politics aside (i.e. where you stand on the question of whether violent video games lead to horrific acts like those at Columbine, Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook) it seems obvious that at a minimum such games desensitize kids to violent acts and images and that the long-term effects of these kinds of games is a question worth asking. (To be fair, here’s a 2011 study suggesting that isn’t true.) Video games certainly have become hyper-real and graphic in their violent content over the years. This Onion video is a devastatingly on-point attack on the industry, which continues to fight against finding an answer to this question, while also being wickedly funny. The issue may be sobering, but this response to inaction by government is smart, subversive, and … well, just the perfect way to make a point.
And that’s What’s Making Me Happy This Week.
PS If you find that video funny, check this out. “Not content to leave it as a joke about a fictional game, The Onion turned the gruesome title into a real game and submitted Close Range for review to sell on the App Store. Apple predictably rejected the app due to its violence …”