Coital Chill-Out, Older Women & Sex Tricks!

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You have sexy questions? Eugene has sexy answers. Write. Now: Eugene@ozy.com

 

The Slow Cool

EUGENE, SIR: Really enjoy your writing, and now I’ve a question — hope you can help. I’ve been with my girlfriend for five years (since she was at uni), and now we’re both in our mid- to late 20s. We’ve always had a sparse once-a-month kind of sex life, which has long been a frustration for me, but over the last six months, I’ve stopped being able to climax during sex and so now am pretty unsatisfied as well. I’m a pretty attentive guy in bed, and she enjoys herself plenty, but I’m unsure what’s going wrong for me. I almost feel like I’ve given up on even trying, and the time between sex is now turning into months, not weeks. I don’t really know how to approach this with her and try to fix things in our sex life before it really starts affecting everything else. Hope you have some advice! Thanks in advance. — Hapi Joel

Dear Hapi Hapi Joy Joy: Sometimes when answering I’m on partial prognosticate. Sometimes full prognosticate. Sometimes just out and out prognosticate, which is much more of an intuitive touchy-feely thing, but I suspect this will be the latter, because I believe, sir, you are largely in the grips of time. It’s a common trap that unsuspecting male travelers fall into. Because you’re in your 20s, you’re thinking about 20s kinds of things and you’re ignoring time. College is over, and you’re getting your sea legs, and well, what could go wrong? Time could go wrong. No woman wants to date you for five years. So if you haven’t had the matrimonial discussion, this could largely account for the slowing of somatic relationships. While you’re thinking of this and that, she’s noting with great interest how many of her friends are getting married and the fact that if she wants to get married, you’re going to have to make a move or she’s going to have to dump you and dump you fast.

And you should note: There’s no negotiating your way around this. Because of, well, time. Some have even suggested that men who are cavalier about their women’s fertility options should be charged. Finances aside, the work that has to be put in as she closes in on 30 if she wants to have a family is significant, and she’s not playing around with you. So the slowing of the sex could be because she is moving on or because she wants you to make a move for both of you to move on together. Now I know what you’re thinking: Why would I want to lock myself into a future of monthly sex? To which I say: monthly sex?!?! That’s like an orgy, some long-married men will tell you. 

But who knows? I could be completely wrong, but one thing is very clear: Women have sex with men they really dig, and they don’t with men they don’t. So pick through the above and figure out why she digs you less than she used to;  if it ends up being the matrimonial reason, you owe me a drink. Deal?

Dead at 54?

EUGENE, SIR: I’m very young-looking and very active: I hike, kayak, etc. I keep my mind and body healthy and just want to go out and enjoy life. But, most men in my age group (54) can — and do — date women 10 and 20 years younger. This sucks! So I’m supposed to date a 70-year-old? How did we end up here? — Girls just wanna have fun

Dear Ms. Lauper: What you should have written was “most men in my age group (54) who’ve got it going on can — and do — date women” who are younger. You know, I’m quite sure I’ve gotten letters from men a little thick through the middle and light of hair on top complaining about contemporaries not noticing them. And you’re probably both right. Genetic imperatives die hard. And our genes, like it or not, are driving us toward breedability even if we’re not interested in breeding. But yes, to answer your first question: Find yourself a 70-year-old man (something you say like it is less than desirable) who’s got it going on. They exist. And a good handful of them best their not-so-careful 54-year-old contemporaries. If he’s taking care of himself enough to compete with the men you desire, he’ll be around longer. Or a 60-year-old man. Or a 62-year-old man. Or a 58-year-old. Look, though the stats seem to indicate that women live longer — meaning your choices will start to thin out — there’s no reason to suffer, especially as, according to every anecdotal measure in the places that write about such things, older women are increasingly hooking up with younger men. So what are you waiting for?!?

Sex & Aging

EUGENE, SIR: I want to have sex with the same intensity, vivacity and strength at 50 as when I was 30. What are your tricks? What do I eat, drink, and what kind of exercises do I do? — Pochunmahen

Dear Erik Estrada: Anything that interferes with an erection is your enemy. So cigarettes must go. Exercise and eating right, the staples, must be maintained, but the biggest issue is your mind, as the toughest thing as you age is to maintain interest levels so you don’t end up like my uncle who at the age of 50 walked into the kitchen and told his wife he was “done with that.” And he was. How to maintain interest? Choose interesting partners. Yup. Just that simple/hard.

New York’s Deadliest Secret Lives in the Subways

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In the midst of a 2005 press conference concerning a string of suspicious fires throughout the New York City subway system, then NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly assured a roomful of reporters the fires had not been caused by “any people or creatures living in the tunnels.”

The odd thing about the comment was that no one had ever claimed any such thing. We all assumed it was just the work of rambunctious teenagers. That Kelly felt compelled to say something like that led me to believe the city’s C.H.U.D. — Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers — problem was much bigger than anyone realized.

Even if the monsters resemble unnaturally angry frogs, it still stands out as a classically styled monster picture with unexpected contemporary twists.

Beneath the asphalt and the concrete, Manhattan is honeycombed with thousands of miles of tunnels — an insanely complex maze of subways, sewer and water lines, gas and steam pipes and tunnels whose original purpose has long been forgotten. Whispers that Something Is Down There have been around since at least the winter of 1935, when The New York Times reported that a group of boys shoveling snow in the Bronx had pulled a 6-foot alligator out of a manhole before beating it to death with shovels.

It started people thinking. Over the decades that followed, the stories grew and evolved, and it was only inevitable that the speculative menagerie living under the streets of NYC would eventually come to include people no longer fit to live topside. Nine years before The Mole People, Jennifer Toth’s best-selling account of the homeless population living in the city’s subterranean tunnels, young director Douglas Cheek and screenwriter Shep Abbott took the idea to its logical conclusion, adding a word to the lexicon in the process.

What begins as the fairly routine story of an unexplained rash of disappearances and savage murders on New York’s Lower East Side soon reveals itself to be an old-school monster movie — until the unexpected addition of a government conspiracy gives it that extra twist. Like a Larry Cohen film from the same era, 1984’s C.H.U.D. was shot on location in, around and under New York; focuses on several storylines which come together in the end and features a cast of recognizable (and surprisingly respectable) character actors, including John Heard, Daniel Stern, Christopher Curry, Kim Greist and John Goodman.

For a low-budget monster picture, C.H.U.D. remains a tight, bright and intelligent movie, with a complexity that was rare in ’80s B films, a collection of strong performances you wouldn’t expect and some scenes that will stay with me forever — including an ad-libbed monologue from a wild-eyed homeless man. Even if the monsters resemble unnaturally angry frogs, it still stands out as a classically styled monster picture with unexpected contemporary twists.

Over time, though, the film came to earn an undeserved reputation, becoming a symbol of cheap and bad monster movies. Then “C.H.U.D.” crept into the vernacular. It became a reference on The Simpsons, South Park and Family Guy. Today you can stop nearly any New Yorker on the street, ask them what a C.H.U.D. is and they’ll tell you, because that film quietly snuck into our subconscious, giving a name and a form to our age-old collective fear that there really is Something Down There. And apparently, according to Ray Kelly, there is.

The Fatal Pitch That Changed Baseball History

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As rumors continued to swirl that the reigning American League champions, the Chicago White Sox, had thrown the World Series the previous season, two other contenders for the 1920 American League crown squared off on a drizzly August afternoon at the Polo Grounds in New York. On the mound for the New York Yankees, who trailed the opposing Cleveland Indians by just a half-game in the standings, was their ace Carl Mays, a disagreeable, right-handed submarine pitcher whose contorted, underhand motion was so extreme that his knuckles sometimes scraped the ground. 

Mays’ first pitch in the fifth inning, a fastball high and tight to Cleveland’s scrappy shortstop Ray Chapman, a 29-year-old newlywed with a daughter on the way, was met with a crack that sounded throughout the ballpark. The ball dribbled back toward Mays, who threw it to first baseman Wally Pipp — the same Wally Pipp who in five years would get benched for a ballplayer named Lou Gehrig. Mays watched as Pipp caught the ball and then froze, looking toward home plate. It was then that Mays and others in the ballpark realized the crack they’d heard was not Chapman’s bat.

As baseball fans tune in to watch the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals compete in the 111th edition of the World Series, there have been on the order of 50 million pitches thrown in a big league game since the origin of major league baseball in 1871. Only one has been lethal. That pitch would end Ray Chapman’s life, permanently scar Carl Mays’ career and help change the course of baseball history.

Chapman barely moved an inch when Mays’ pitch smashed into the side of his head.

As players and men, Mays and Chapman could not have been more different, something that made their fateful encounter even more powerful in the public’s imagination. As Mike Sowell details in The Pitch That Killed, Mays was likely the most unpopular player in the game, a moody loner off the field whom teammates likened to someone with a nagging toothache, and a fierce competitor on the mound, whose reputation for being a “headhunter” put him among the league leaders in hit batsmen. In one game against the equally despised Ty Cobb, Mays threw at the Detroit Tigers legend every time he came to the plate, and Cobb reciprocated by throwing his bat at Mays. The unpopular pitcher yelled at his own fielders when they made an error, and once even threw at — and hit — a heckling fan in the stands. 

Chapman, on the other hand, was well-liked by both players and fans. Before the season, the infielder had married the daughter of a wealthy Cleveland businessman who was eager for his son-in-law to retire from his low-paying itinerant job and join the family business. Chapman was widely considered the best shortstop in the league and someone who was unusually good with the bat when his position was primarily regarded as a defensive one at the time.

Unfortunately, Chapman also stood unusually close to the plate and hunched over it — in an era when batting helmets were still 50 years away from becoming mandatory. “His head was in the strike zone,” Muddy Ruel, the Yankees catcher on that fateful day, told a reporter years later. And whether it was the fog hanging over the field, the dirty baseball covered with tobacco juice, or something else, by all accounts Chapman barely moved an inch when Mays’ pitch smashed into the side of his head.

Ruel caught Chapman as he collapsed, the home-plate umpire called for a doctor, and the fallen batter was carried from the field. At St. Lawrence Hospital, doctors found a fracture on the left side of Chapman’s skull that was more than 3 inches long, and his brain had lacerations on both sides from hitting bone. Doctors operated into the night, but shortly before sunrise, Chapman died. When his pregnant widow was greeted with the news as she stepped from the train in New York, she fainted. 

Mays was also distraught on hearing the news, and pledged to surrender himself to the district attorney. Despite Mays’ reputation as a headhunter, most observers felt that he had not been aiming at Chapman, given the fact that the Yankees were trailing in a game with pennant implications, and the death was ruled accidental. But the accident would haunt Mays until his death in 1971 at age 79, casting a dark shadow over a career in which he racked up a 207-126 and 2.92 ERA in 15 seasons, among the best numbers for a pitcher not in the Hall of Fame.

The Cleveland Indians would manage to recover and win the first World Series to make franchise history that fall in honor of their fallen shortstop. And, beginning the following season, Major League Baseball would institute rules requiring new balls be introduced into games more regularly to ensure that they didn’t become too dirty to see. Of course, easier-to-spot balls were also easier to hit. So Chapman’s death, along with the elimination of the spitball and the continued rise of a certain home-run-hitting slugger named Babe Ruth, would help usher in the so-called live-ball era of the modern game, in which higher-scoring contests with more home runs would electrify a new generation of fans, helping to reclaim the sport from the taint of the Black Sox scandal and the devastation of what remains its only on-field fatality.

 

Byron Allen and the Factory Mentality of TV Making

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Starting around 1975, a cavalcade of comedic talent began gathering most evenings at comedian and television star Jimmie Walker’s three-floor condo in Beverly Hills. There on Walker’s couch, on any given night, you might have found David Letterman or Jay Leno or Elayne Boosler, all unknown comedians at the time, hired to write jokes for Walker’s stand-up act. The youngest, and the only one whose mother had to pick him up afterward, was a 14-year-old prodigy named Byron Allen.

Walker paid Allen $25 per joke he used. Today, after a career in front of the camera as a comedian and talk-show host, Allen presides over his own media empire and enjoys a net worth estimated at more than $300 million. As you might expect from someone who has been steeped in the business since junior high, Allen is unorthodox. His particular unorthodoxy is financial: He’s radically changing the way content gets financed, created and consumed. But Allen’s not out to be the next Tyler Perry. As he tells OZY, he’s chasing two very different trailblazers: Rupert Murdoch and Walt Disney.

Allen’s no bleeding heart — his critics have accused him of economic hardball.

In an age where HBO, AMC and others are spending millions of dollars per episode of carefully crafted television, Allen, 54, is a proponent of a more cost-effective approach. Now stockier and with far less hair, Allen still has the same wholesome yet mischievous grin he had as the wiry, Afroed kid who started doing stand-up at 14. But he’s less eccentric artiste and more about lean, mean production: “We have a factory mentality. We focus on cost, cost, cost, and driving it down,” Allen once explained to Bloomberg Business. “I think of us as the Walmart of television.” 

Allen, says Lu Ann Reeb, a media entrepreneur and professor at Emerson College, has “created a solution in an industry in the midst of a paradigm shift.” Like Walmart, Allen’s empire cheaply mass-produces hours of television content, distributing to more than 1,000 broadcast television stations across America hungry for syndicated programming. And you may not have heard of many of the products: an assortment of comedy programs like Comics Unleashed and sitcoms like First Family, as well as reality TV shows, court shows and talk shows. Allen’s company, Entertainment Studios (ES), licenses shows for free to the stations in exchange for a share of the advertising time, usually around 50 percent, a deal most stations are only too happy to make. Bartering for ad time may not be a new concept in television, but the ruthless efficiency that Allen has brought to the process has made ES the largest independent distributor of first-run syndicated programming.  

Born in Detroit, Allen and his mom moved to Los Angeles when he was 7. She worked as a tour guide at NBC Studios while young Byron spent hours hanging around The Tonight Show’s set after hours, pretending to perform from Johnny Carson’s desk. “I can’t imagine a much better childhood,” he says, “than being a kid and watching the greatest television comedians of all time write, produce, direct, act and make the world laugh.” By his high school graduation, Allen was performing on that same stage before landing a hosting job on NBC’s Real People, a proto-reality show. In 1993, after his own late-night show fizzled, Allen decided to focus his energies behind the camera, founding ES. Today, Allen’s empire comes equipped with a Fifth Avenue apartment and a mansion in Beverly Hills, where he lives with his wife and three children.

Allen has used his lofty perch to sound off on what he calls “economic genocide” in America, the poverty and rampant inequality disproportionately affecting African-Americans, and he has cajoled, berated and even sued others in the business to ensure that Black-owned media companies have equal access. ES’s recent acquisition of Freestyle Releasing, an independent-film distribution company, is historic: It’s the first time an African-American-owned company can produce, finance and distribute a slate of films worldwide, and it gives Allen’s content machine a direct relationship with theaters and with Netflix

But Allen’s no bleeding heart — his critics have accused him of economic hardball. One class action brought on behalf of hundreds of comedians in 2012 alleged that ES failed to pay residuals to performers. “We could never have imagined how challenging it would be to get paid for our work,” says one of the lead plaintiffs, comedian Bernadette Pauley. (ES’s general counsel said a federal appeals court is still determining whether to hear the case, and would not comment on the merits.) Of more concern to Allen’s business? The shifting landscape of TV. Allen’s tried to stay ahead of the curve, readying for the launch of SmartTV.com early next year; it’s an “over-the-top” Internet-based television service that delivers local stations, cable networks and original content directly to cord-cutting consumers, and for $19.99 per month (far less than cable). Its variety of channels is designed to compete with traditional cable powerhouses, e.g., Recipe.TV to compete with the Food Network.

Allen plans to raise up to a billion more dollars for that venture to worm its way onto “every device everywhere in the world.” By then, perhaps he’ll be more of a household name — or he may remain comfortably behind the scenes, tugging at the TV cables, the man behind the camera.

 

When There’s More Bling in Your Glass Than on Your Body

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We’ve all heard of craft cocktails and fancy hipster bartenders, but would you want to drink your bling? Some bars around the world — from Singapore to Istanbul to Tokyo — are offering gold and jewels with your drink, or rather in it. If you plan on dropping big bucks for a (literal) taste of gold, there are some drinkable options available. Just be careful not to choke on any of the sparkly bits that might be hiding at the bottom of your glass. 

The Jewel of Pangaea

Coming in at a cool $35,000, this cocktail can be found at Singapore’s swankiest club, Pangaea. Made with gold-flecked Richard Hennessy cognac, bitters and a smoke-infused sugar cube, it’s topped off with a 1985 vintage Krug Champagne. But the real cherry on top? A Mouawad Triple X 1-carat diamond. Those who can afford to sip such a concoction can do so while lounging on ostrich- and crocodile-skin sofas, designed by club owner Michael Ault. He claims to be the first (back in the ’90s) to have offered the flashy concept of “bottle service” as we know it today.

The Diamond Is Forever Martini

The Diamond is Forever Martini

The Diamond is Forever Martini

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You might not want to have this James Bond cocktail shaken. At the Ritz-Carlton in Tokyo, big spenders can expect to fork over $15,000 for a classic Grey Goose martini with a splash of lime. The twist? A diamond at the bottom of the glass. If that isn’t enough, the bar band plays the James Bond theme song “Diamonds Are Forever” every time the fancy drink is ordered. A grand total of four people have sipped one since the opening of the hotel in 2007, when the bartender created the cocktail to “wow” the guests, according to Sumiko Konishi, the hotel promotions manager.

The Çiragan Luxury Sahlep’

Photo Courtesy of Çırağan Palace Kempinski

The Çiragan Luxury Sahlep’

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This spicy drink, available at the Çiragan Palace Kempinski in Istanbul, is garnished with Turkish honey, Tahitian vanilla and real gold leaves. But its price tag is thanks to sahlep’, a flour made from the tubers of a certain type of orchid. First discovered in southern Turkey, the ingredient was consumed in beverages during the Ottoman Empire. Barney Bishop, a spokesman for the hotel, says the drink is served from November to March and is considered “a quintessential winter cocktail” because it is supposed to help fight the flu. But at $680, it’s a pretty pricey cold remedy

The Dazzle

It’s too late for drinkers to be dazzled by this $50,000 cocktail — it’s no longer available. The Dazzle was a drink that came with a pink 6.5-carat tourmaline and diamond ring set in 18-carat white gold. The ring was created to match the drink’s mélange of rosé Champagne and strawberry and lychee liqueurs. It wasn’t even served at a club, but at the second-floor bar of the Harvey Nichols department store in Manchester, England. 

Although these drinks are geared toward the superrich, it might be indicative of a wider buying trend promoted by us mere mortals — the so-called premiumization of liquor. Gary Hemphill, managing director at the Beverage Marketing Corp. in New York City, says that people are “trading up to products they perceive to be of higher quality” and spending more money on fancier alcohol, from craft beer to higher-end tequila. To be sure, drinks with diamonds and gold are in another category entirely. Hemphill says that’s more for “people who want to show off.” We’re inclined to agree with him. But if you have a thickly padded wallet (or one of those elusive, exclusive Black Cards), then drink up!

 

Why Poland Has 130 Exorcists

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You can tell a lot about a country from what its citizens are reading. Take Poland. Sure, you’ve got popular daily newspaper Fakt and weekly magazine Polityka. And then there’s the monthly magazine Egzorcysta. Which means — and we’re not kidding — “The Exorcist.” It’s a primer on Satan and the fight against him, with articles mulling pressing issues such as: Can yoga open the door to the devil? (Yes.) Is Hello Kitty the work of Satan? (No.)

These days, Poland is widely known for popes and pierogis. Well, add exorcists to the list. Once as rare there as anywhere, demon expellers are having their day, with just one exorcist in the 1970s, 60 a decade ago and … 130 today. That’s roughly three exorcists per diocese. None of this is an accident: According to the Rev. Slawomir Sosnowski, a priest and exorcist who serves the Łódź Archdiocese, the Roman Catholic Church in Poland, in accordance with a 2008 Vatican decree, has been steadily appointing them to meet the country’s demand. And every trend needs a glossy magazine. In this case, Egzorcysta, which launched three years ago, now has a run of 40,000 copies per month. 

The music of John Lennon, Michael Jackson and Bob Marley? Will make you vulnerable to Satan.

Sosnowski’s theory for the steady growth in demand: Nowadays, people strive for self-development, he says, often not caring how they do it. “It could be with another religion or certain magic rituals. It can leave them open to evil.” Another possible explanation, albeit a slightly more cynical one, is that in Poland, the church issues dire warnings about Satan that scare more sensitive souls into thinking they are possessed. It is similar to how hypochondriacs only have to hear the symptoms to be convinced they have the sickness. Science has come up with yet another explanation: American psychologist Elizabeth Loftus discovered how books and films about exorcisms provoke hysterical reactions in some viewers and can even create false memories.

The Diocese of Warszawa-Praga provides one example of how the church allegedly whips up fear of Satan. It distributed a 60-point “Are you possessed?” questionnaire, including: Have you practiced yoga or martial arts? Have you spoken the names of other gods? Did you celebrate Halloween? Anyone answering one or more of the questions with a “yes” is considered in peril. (New York and San Francisco: You may need professional help.) The questionnaire is also bad news for movie fans, since it brands classics including Star Wars and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom as “evil films” that make viewers susceptible to the devil. The music of John Lennon, Michael Jackson and Bob Marley? Will make you vulnerable to Satan. Everyone from Facebook users to other priests ridiculed the questionnaire. (The Warszawa Archdiocese did not reply to request for comment.)

Nevertheless, some of the Catholic media produced serious reports based on the controversial material. And Sosnowski says it’s actually in vogue among certain groups in Poland “to see evil everywhere.” As a result, fear gets exaggerated. Although Sosnowski firmly believes in the devil’s existence, he does not think every one of his clients is truly possessed. Most of them just need a conversation or a prayer, he says, adding that he also sends them to see therapists or psychiatrists. It is rare for an exorcist to think demons are the only thing torturing a client.

Signs that a person may be possessed, according to Malachi Martin’s 1976 book Hostage to the Devil: The Possession and Exorcism of Five Contemporary Americans, are “a peculiar revulsion to symbols and truths of religion” and things like terrible stench and cold, and the classic levitation. “The most dramatic and sensational signs of possession,” says author Benjamin Radford, research fellow with the nonprofit educational organization the Center for Inquiry, “have never been scientifically authenticated and only appear in movies like The Exorcist.” But Sosnowski says he has frequently experienced people throwing themselves to the ground and screaming furiously at him. It is why the priest never goes to perform an exorcism alone if the case is especially difficult. He does not want to restrain his clients with belts, like some exorcists in Italy are said to do, because he finds it too violent. Instead, he asks community members to restrain the person suspected of being possessed during the ritual, if necessary.

Sosnowski refuses to go into detail about such cases, saying only that he’s seen “unbelievable human suffering” in his 10 years as an exorcist. And he sees no contradiction between his work and that of a psychologist. He explains why his methods often go hand in hand with a therapist’s. If a person was badly hurt during childhood, it leaves them open to evil, he explains. Someone who needs help often needs therapy as well as prayers to release their demons.

Work like this seems to combine the practice of exorcism with 21st-century medicine and psychology. However, Egzorcysta’s content doesn’t indicate that every exorcist strikes the same balance. The latest issue of the magazine includes an interview with the Rev. Andrzej Kowalczyk, an exorcist from the Gdańsk Archdiocese. His pearls of wisdom include: “The rosary is a cannon [in the battle against evil spirits]” and “Entire political parties are possessed by Satan.” Kowalczyk even has an opinion about Germany, where he says Satan is on the rampage. To prove this point, he tells the story of a female acquaintance who felt very sick in Berlin but recovered as soon as she returned to Poland. And no wonder, since Germany is an infamous hotbed of … yoga.

 

The NFL, a Game Between the Haves and Have-Nots?

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Ever heard the football axiom that any team can win on any given Sunday? Al Pacino even made a movie based on it. Well, it’s bullshit. Or at least it was bullshit. This season’s it’s actually kinda true. Kinda. 

Nearing the season’s midway mark, there have already been 57 games decided by a touchdown or less, the fourth-most in league history for this time of year.

That means more than half of the games played so far have ended within a single possession. Last week, eight of the 14 matches came down to 8 points or fewer. And with five teams still undefeated, it’s been one of the more exciting seasons on the books. The Denver Broncos — one of the squads yet to lose — have won all but one of their games within a 7-point margin. The thing is, that doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a more evenly matched playing field. Instead, it’s all part of the masterfully orchestrated scheme that is the NFL.

In professional football, the common perception has been that the New England Patriots and Dallas Cowboys of the world are essentially in a different league from the Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions. But the masterminds at the top have gone to great lengths to create the illusion of parity. There’s the revenue-sharing system and, of course, the salary cap to keep the small-market clubs from falling too far behind (think the New York Yankees and Oakland Athletics). “The really sneaky thing they do is the unbalanced schedule,” says Michael J. Lopez, a Skidmore College statistics professor who studies parity in sports. Since 2002, when arranging the schedule, officiators have set teams with similar records against one another — bad versus bad, good versus good — to keep the games close.

Yet, with a handful of teams 6-0 (and the Patriots now 7-0) midway through the season — the most ever at this point since the AFL and NFL merged into one league in 1970 — it suggests the scales aren’t as balanced as the close calls might suggest. “Games are not coin flips,” Lopez says. The sport, in a sense, mimics the society so obsessed with it, with a battle raging between the haves and the have-nots. “There’s less of a football middle class than we’d expect,” stat analysts Neil Paine and Andrew Flowers wrote in a column for FiveThirtyEight. If the presidency thing doesn’t work out, maybe Bernie Sanders can run for Roger Goodell’s job.

 

The Horror of Halloween Pet Costumery

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If you didn’t think it was enough of a drag to have to skirt past people dressed as astronauts, Smurfs or pop culture approximations of everyone and anyone from Justin Bieber to Marilyn Monroe at the end of October, now there’s this: a $350 million annual industry for pet costumes. It’s bad to have to be routinely exposed to people’s love affairs with their pets — almost as terrible as listening to anyone’s dreams but your lover’s — but dogs dressed as Little Mermaids or cat superheroes is really, well, a bridge too far.

Which is to say: While we hate to spoil the party, it’s … actually, we don’t mind spoiling the party. Hey! Owners! Leave those pets alone! To paraphrase Pink Floyd. Because if G-d had wanted domesticated animals to wear headgear with dingle balls on them, they’d have been born that way!

We think.

The Summer of the Hornet’s Nest

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This story in photographs tells the tale of two young sisters enticed by a curious-looking nest in the woods behind their house. The consequences of their discovery are devastating. As with Andres’ previous work, this work is loosely based on Andres’ own past. When she and an older sister came upon a similar nest, her sister was stung more than 100 times. (She survived and has two daughters of her own now.)

Although Andres, a painter by training, sometimes transforms her own home to match the vision she has for a photo essay, this time around she happened upon the perfect house at an estate sale. The woman who had just died had been 100 years old. ”It was just like walking into an immaculately art-directed set,” says Andres, ”and I instantly knew that I wanted to photograph there.” With the new owner’s permission, she shot this series over the course of five days. In “The Summer of the Hornet’s Nest,” we see a photographer’s fascination with cognitive dissonance — lively patterns, tons of yellow, punch and cake, all juxtaposed against a near-death encounter.