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Finishing off the Krakauer trilogy after already reading “Into the Wild” and “Under the Banner of Heaven.” I’m eager to read his next book — “Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman” — when it’s released this fall. 

As newspapers shutter across the country, we’ve heard arguments for their survival and existence. Defenders of the newsprint say newspapers add to and aid our democracy. Do they? An interesting take from Jack Shafer of Slate.

Far from being yahoos, the Americans who thumbed their noses at newspapers in the Pew poll have a point. Even an excellent newspaper carries only a few articles each day that could honestly be said to nurture the democratic way. Car bomb in Pakistan? Drug war in Mexico? Flood in North Dakota? Murder in the suburbs? Great places to get Thai food after midnight? A review of the Britney Spears concert? New ideas on how to serve leftover turkey? The sports scores? The stock report? Few of these stories are likely to supercharge the democratic impulse.

One thing is clear: Americans are voting with their wallets and news habits. They have no use for newspapers, whether or not it makes the U.S. a better democracy.

Just doing my part to stimulate the economy.

Treating the P4s to a powder day at Brighton, Utah.

090330_contest_p465So it was preordained: Jews would spend Christmas in a Chinese restaurant.

screen-capture

This is one of my favorite pictures to go on the front page of ESPN.com (I love Kobe’s reaction, of course, but I also like the photographers and the random dude with the mustache in the background). This is from the 2006 playoffs, when Kobe and the Lakers were on the verge of knocking out the Suns (Phoenix would come back to win the series.) Sometimes, if you get the perfect image, the packaging writes itself. I could have written gibberish and no one would notice — they’d be transfixed on Kobe.

For those missing my work writing witty and not-so-witty headlines (and I know there are a lot of you out there), there is good, significant news. I’ll be producing the front page of another major sports site soon. Be prepared for more movie and music references, silly wordplay and basic tomfoolery. I’ll let you know which site deserves your clicks once I’m officially rolling. Until then, I need to brush up on my sports lingo and audacious alliterations.

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Here’s UConn coach Jim Calhoun responding to the Yahoo! Sports report alleging recruiting violations made by his program.

It’s a weak response, especially since this is the same coach who told a freelance reporter/activist who was questioning his $1.6 million salary (in a state that is facing a budget crisis — which state isn’t?) to “shut up.”

The comment that rankled me was his dismissive remark about where the report came from. It was from a “blog story, I guess, that appeared on something that I probably can’t get ahold of.”

Well, it wasn’t a blog — although it’s time for people still living in the stone age to stop believing blog is a dirty word — it was on Yahoo! Sports, the most trafficked sports site on the Web. The story was uncovered by Adrian Wojnarowski and Dan Wetzel, two reporters with extensive journalism backgrounds. Yahoo! Sports is a major online journalism operation, led by the former sports editor of the Los Angeles Times. I have to believe that they’ve sourced the story, verified their research and ran it through legal (not that a blog can’t do that, just pointing out what every publication should do on a story of this magnitude).

While we can debate the way Yahoo! Sports framed and packaged the story (as one former colleague was all too happy to knock this afternoon), we have to acknowledge the “break.” Breaking news online — whether it be TMZ, The Smoking Gun, etc — is here to stay.

While it may be just a blog report written by two pot-smoking dudes in a basement to Coach Calhoun, it’s also a report that could send the Hall of Fame coach into early retirement. Now that would be something to blog about.

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I can’t believe I’m saying this. Showtime’s Californication is better than HBO’s Entourage. By far.

Full disclosure: I haven’t seen the most recent season of Entourage (according to Bill Simmons in one of his mailbags a while ago, I shouldn’t even bother). But two years ago you couldn’t find a bigger Entourage fan than me. I plunked down the ridiculous fee for HBO just for that show. My cable bill was about $100 a month. Every Sunday night I was in front of the tube watching the shenanigans of Vince, E, Johnny Drama and Turtle. And of course, Ari Gold who was golden (cunt muscle, anyone?)

Perhaps because I’m growing older — nearly 30! — I’m seeking a show with more depth, characters with more flaws and issues. Perhaps I’m tired of Vince’s douche-baggery and Turtle’s pathetic pleading for “pointless pussy” (Hank Moody’s phrase).

David Duchovny’s Moody is a character who is seriously flawed. Alcoholic, self-destructive, promiscuous and, well, moody as hell. I can relate to (some of) that. Duchovny carries the show — and it’s no surprise he turned into a real-life Hank Moody and had to seek counseling last year — and he’s got a solid supporting cast. Agent Charlie Runkle is no Ari Gold but he’s a good straight man sidekick for Moody. The standout, however, is Hank’s daughter. She keeps Moody in check.

That’s a scene you’re just not going to see in Entourage.

I just finished season 1 of Californication and eager to get my hands on season 2. I don’t want to be too harsh on Entourage. It’s like candy for the brain. We all still quote lines from it — “Hug it out bitch” “Victory!” — and I’ll watch an episode if it’s on. And I’ll be snagging season 5 once it comes out on DVD or on iTunes (hurry up!).

But a show like Entourage — every show for that matter — has a limited shelf life. It’s not them. It’s us.