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Month: December 2016

robert durst blames meth use on murder confession and i’m officially energized for life again

robert durst blames meth use on murder confession and i’m officially energized for life again

Entertainment weekly – Robert Durst’s statement to Los Angeles prosecutors that he was high on methamphetamine during the filming of the HBO series The Jinx was improperly obtained, his lawyer tells PEOPLE exclusively.

Attorney Dick DeGuerin says prosecutors interviewed Durst without his lawyers present, and the interview should therefore be ruled inadmissible at his upcoming murder trial.

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Backstory – robert durst is the eldest son of a manahttan real estate magnate who inherited somewhere near $100 mil from his father. HBO did a doc with him a year or two back at the behest of durst – who contacted Andrew Jarecki – the guy who made All The Good Things starring Ryan Reynolds which is a movie about one of the three murders durst was weirdly exonerated from despite there being overwhelming evidence against him. Anyway after seeing the movie durst contacted Jarecki and was like yo saw the movie since i’m innocent you should make a documentary where i’m there and we talk about why i couldn’t have killed these people. totally not the conscience of a dude who killed three people but idk. in any event it’s called the jinx and is on hbo and in the last scene of the doc he’s wearing a hot mic when he doesn’t know the cameras are rolling. the first time this happens his lawyer interjects and stops him before creepy shit he’s muttering to himself becomes potentially incriminating but the second time he’s gone to the bathroom after literally telling jarecki that if the two forged letters in front of him were written by the same person he’d have to assume that person was the murderer.

Whiiiiich brings me to the point of the article – saying he was on meth for the majority of the filming is a move straight out of the multi mil inheritance nyc real estate playbook for people who went completely insane as opposed to stuffing their soul and sanity inside a toupee that cums all over it’s VP family the moment it’s off camera. In an alternate universe trump is panhandling for jersey boys tickets to chase his dream of the big stage while durst is trying to coerce michelle obama into an attic joint during his first tour of the white house. So yeah, no, i didn’t murder those people – I was just on meth.

Every heard of it? Marginally bad for skin and teeth, doesn’t make you jittery or hyperactive, just real peculiar but oddly well thought out stuff like asking a dude who made a movie about the wife you (allegedly) murdered to do a biopic thing where you stalk your brother and candidly admit to murdering three people. Totally irrational behavior, and all because of the meth.

the guy should obviously be in jail, and he will be (i think). but if the absurdity and irrational confidence of this claim doesn’t jack you up for personal possibility in the year ahead you’re a fucking doofus.

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TOP SHELF BOOKS: Books of the Year part 3

TOP SHELF BOOKS: Books of the Year part 3

Michael H. takes a look back at the books he read in 2016 and tries to pick his favorites.

PART 1       PART 2

Let’s finish this bad boy up with my nonfiction favs of the year. The rankings in this list are pretty arbitrary: I was blown away by each of them.

NONFICTION

 

10. Anne Lamott – Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life (1994)

I love books on writing like Draymond Green likes kicking people in the nuts. My most favoritest is still On Writing by Stephen King. In Bird by Bird, Lamott lays out a basic guide for writing and living as a writer with humor – “Shitty First Drafts” is one of the chapter titles – and brutal honesty.

She dissects her jealousy of others’ work as well as her wavering belief in her own ability in a self-depreciating manner that allows the reader into her process. Lamott avoids coming off as the know-it-all that her career would allow her to be, but instead shares what has worked for her, and, maybe more importantly, what hasn’t.

9. Neil Gaiman – Don’t Panic: Douglas Adams & The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1987, updated 2005)

My love of Adams and Hitchhiker’s is deep and everlasting so I read Neil Gaiman’s deep dive in rapt elation. The beloved series started as a radio show before branching out to just about every other medium: the novels, TV series, movies, video games, website, merchandise.

Gaiman – who’s a wonderful writer in his own right; you should check out American Gods if you haven’t yet – covers all of it, including the genesis of the idea and Adams’s unfailing habit of missing deadlines, before moving onto his other works including the Dirk Gently books, Adams’s Doctor Who episodes, and The Meaning of Liff.

8. Hunter S. Thompson – Hell’s Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga (1966)

Thompson is known for his “Gonzo” style of journalism, which basically means he participated in the craziness that he was covering. For Hell’s Angels, he spent a total of two years with the infamous biker gang during their rise to prominence. With precision, humor, and madness that only Thompson can provide, he details the dirty deeds, wild parties, and aversion to a “normal” life of the Angles. It’s wild and unbelievable and gripping.

 7. David Simon – Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets (1991)

I wrote a longer response to this book here, but, suffice it to say, it knocked me on my ass. David Simon, the creator of The Wire, embedded with the homicide division of the Baltimore Police Department for a year. He saw a lot of awful shit – shit that you hope you will never see – and detailed it honestly.

It will give you a deeper appreciation for what police have to go through, but also reveals that they are only humans. And sometimes humans are bad and do bad things. Homicide is deeply affecting and eye-opening and you should read it.

6. D.T. Max – Every Love Story is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace (2012)

I read this at the height of my DFW obsession so I guess you could say I enjoyed it. This is the first biography of Wallace (many more are certain to follow), and in it D.T. Max guides the reader through Wallace’s tumultuous life via letters (where I learned of the DFW-Don DeLillo connection), interviews, and analysis of his works. It’s insightful and heartbreaking and very well done. A must-read for any Wallace fan.

5. Mary Karr – The Liars’ Club (1995)

Mary Karr is the Queen of Memoir (her The Art of Memoir is fantastic). The Liars’ Club was her first one and it essentially brought the entire genre into the mainstream. The book’s title is a reference to the group of guys Karr’s father belonged to that would get together and shoot the shit. Her father was the best shit shooter.

Karr details her rough upbringing in East Texas with unflinching honesty and biting humor. Her dad was a drinker, her mother appeared in need of a visit to a mental institution at times, and her grandmother, well, the passages in which Karr describes her are probably my favorite parts of the whole book. Mary Karr is the reason that every person on earth has written or is currently writing a memoir. You may see this as a good or bad thing, but The Liars’ Club is a memoir you should read.

4. William Finnegan – Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life (2015)

So, yeah, I don’t know anything about surfing, unless you count the few times I’ve tried unsuccessfully to body board on one-foot waves. If you told me a book that centered around surfing would be one of my favorite books this year, or ever for that matter, I would have told you to walk into the ocean and never come back. Such is the power of William Finnegan’s writing in Barbarian Days.

He covers his chase for gnarly waves from California to Hawaii, back to California, and then all over the world. Amidst the surfing obsession is his life story: his family relationships, new and old friends, love found and lost, his love of literature and writing. His passion for the tough to master and little understood sport wavers on occasion, but he never manages to completely break the hold the call of the ocean has on him. He surfs on Long Island for crissakes. Finnegan took home the Pulitzer for this one.

3. Terry McDonell – The Accidental Life: An Editor’s Notes on Writing and Writers (2016)

I already wrote about this one, but it’s pretty much my catnip. Almost 400 pages on writing/editing, interactions with famous writers, the magazine business during a time when the magazine was king, and details about how great writing came about? Do I really have to sell you on this book? Nah, it’s either right up your alley or you couldn’t care less. Boy, bye to the latter.

2. Michael Herr – Dispatches (1977)

I also wrote about this one at length. It and Homicide crushed me this year. Dispatches is considered by many to be the best book about war – like all wars, not just Vietnam – that has ever been written. (I am currently reading Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried and it is also superb.) I don’t think most of us could even begin to imagine what it’s like to be a solider in a war zone. Herr takes us inside this unknowable sphere with a deft hand and an immaculate eye. Surreal and devastating, Dispatches will open you up.

1. Joan Didion – Slouching Towards Bethlehem (1968)

If George Saunders is my current obsession then Joan Didion is my constant obsession. She is one of those writers that, after you read them, makes you certain you should never write another complete sentence again in your life. So instead of trying to do her talent any justice, I’ll just leave you with a quote, and an admonition to read whatever you can find by her.

“I think we are well-advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind’s door at 4 a.m. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends. We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget. We forget the loves and the betrayals alike, forget what we whispered and what we screamed, forget who we were.” – Slouching Towards Bethlehem

Go forth and read.

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TOP SHELF BOOKS: Books of the Year part 2

TOP SHELF BOOKS: Books of the Year part 2

Michael H. takes a look back at the books he read in 2016 and tries to pick his favorites.

PART 1

We’re back baby. For part 2 of my favorite reads of the year I will rank the short story collections I read.

FICTION – Short Stories

Being a hardcore novel guy, I had never made much time for short story collections in the past. I changed that a bit this year and I am damn glad I did. It helped that the books I picked were mostly surefire knockouts (thanks Google).

6. Denis Johnson – Jesus’ Son (1992)

Who-boy. I do enjoy me some dark and depressing writing. It doesn’t get much more dark and depressing than Denis Johnson. In other words, he is great.

The stories that make up Jesus’ Son are loosely connected, focusing on a drug-addicted loser. The stories will hit you like a ton of bricks, but they also deliver stunning clarity and surprising humor. There’s also a fever-dream – or maybe drug-dream would be a better term – tinge to the prose that keeps you just enough off balance to make you wonder if what is being described is literal or not.

5. Raymond Carver – What We Talk About When Talk About Love (1981)

Ray Carver is one of the most celebrated short story writers of all time, and this is his most celebrated book. From a bird’s eye view, there doesn’t appear to be much going on in his stories. Upon actually reading them you realize everything is going on in his stories.

And by everything I mean real life – Carver is a master at telling what should be simple stories with such precision and insight that you barely notice that not much happens and the end brings about zero resolution. His stories will definitely resonate with people who have lived a little and settled into the mundanity of work/married/kids life, but the quality of his writing is apparent to anyone with eyes and half a brain.

4. Lincoln Michel – Upright Beasts (2015)

This was the first book I read in 2016. I think about it more than any book I read in 2016 save Infinite Jest. Michel is a really cool writer/editor guy  who co-edits the lit mag Gigantic and is the Editor-in-Chief of the super dope website Electric Literature.

Upright Beasts is Michel’s debut collection. In these stories he takes the concept of “genre” and puts it through a wood chipper. He mixes and matches as he sees fit: In one story, a couple try to work on their relationship as the Zombie apocalypse happens outside their house. It’s scary and tense, has blood and gore, and is really funny. This shouldn’t be possible, but Lincoln Michel manages all this with wonderful – “literary” if you will – prose that flings you from one page to the next. I can’t recommend this collection highly enough.

3. 2. 1. George Saunders – CivilWarLand in Bad Decline (1996); Pastoralia (2000); Tenth of December (2013)

So here’s the thing, about once a year a find a new writer – new to me at least – that I completely lose my shit over and become completely obsessed with. DFW was that for me last year. This year it was George Saunders.

The three short story collections above do not contain a single bad piece, imo. The ones that stick out to me most are from his most recent collection, Tenth of December, and that’s probably because I read it first. “Victory Lap,” “Escape from Spiderhead,” and “The Semplica Girl Dairies” are spectacular. But the title story is probably my favorite short story ever. I dare not spoil anything about these stories. Just go read them.

His nonfiction is amazing as well: Saunders’ piece in The New Yorker about his experiences at Trump rallies from earlier this year is a must read, as is his report in GQ re his trip to Nepal to see the “Buddha Boy” from 2006.

OH AND ALSO HE HAS A NOVEL COMING OUT IN FEBRUARY AND IF THERE WAS A GOD I WOULD HAVE RECEIVED AN ADVANCE COPY, but oh well I’m really excited about it if you must know.

 

(Nonfiction coming tomorrow)

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TOP SHELF BOOKS: Favorite Books of the Year 2016 edition

TOP SHELF BOOKS: Favorite Books of the Year 2016 edition

Michael H. takes a look back at the books he read in 2016 and tries to pick his favorites.

 

I have real trouble doing this sort of thing with books: Out of the 40+ books I read this year, there were maybe three or four that I didn’t say “loved it” after turning the final page.

I did my best to make some top ten/five lists. I broke them down into Fiction and Nonfiction. I will give short story collections their own category. Each category will have its own post (so three total). Fiction is up first.

FICTION

 

10. Dave Eggers – Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever(2014)

Weird title for a weird book. But weird in a really good way. They story is told only through dialog, which is jarring at first. I’m guessing some won’t ever get used to and will not like it. I did get used to it and liked it very much.

The main character is a troubled, relatively smart “millennial” who kidnaps an array of people and confines them in an abandoned military base in California. He thinks he is doing a good thing that must be done; his victims tend not to agree. Eggers speaks directly to the aimless, the discontented, and the debt-saddled in this quick read.

9. Brian Evenson – Last Days (2009)

This was the first book I “reviewed” for The Open Field in this TOP SHELF BOOKS series, so you can check out this much longer write up on this terrifying novel. Brian Evenson’s writing will make your skin crawl and will also make you unable to stop reading. Additionally, the unexpected dark humor really made this one for me. Gist: a one-handed cop goes undercover in a gross religious cult whose members dismember themselves to show their faith. Sounds fun, right?

8. Terry Pratchett – Guards! Guards! (1989)

I wish I lived in Discworld – the insane and hilarious planet created by Terry Pratchett. He explored this world in over 40 novels before he died in 2015. I wrote about him and this book more in a stand-alone post earlier this year, but Guards! Guards! is really funny and really enjoyable.

It centers around a group – the City Guard – of misfit and mostly incompetent dudes charged with “guarding” the city. But no one really expects them to do anything so that’s what they do. Until a dragon shows up. I would encourage you to pick up any Discworld novel if you haven’t read Pratchett yet.

7. Don DeLillo – White Noise (1985)

I came across Don DeLillo thanks to David Foster Wallace: the two were pen pals, with DeLillo serving as a kind of mentor to DFW. In White Noise, DeLillo uses the constant crap – TV, radio, news, ads – we are bombarded with to explore the relationships within a specific family. I think effective satire is hard to do; DeLillo does it excellently.

6. Ray Bradbury – Fahrenheit 451 (1953)

This classic also deals with, and predicts, the effects of media and technology on humanity. In a sea of dystopian novels, this one is probably my favorite: it’s centered around books! But not in a good way: Guy Montag, the main character, is a fireman, but instead of putting out fires he burns books (bastard!). Books and reading are illegal; violators can be put to death. But ol’ Guy gets a little curious…

This is peak Bradbury. This is a must read.

5. Blake Crouch – Dark Matter (2016)

This is another one I reviewed for the site, and it’s also the only book I read this year that came out this year. It includes alternate universes/realities/whatever, giant feelings of “what if I had chosen a different path in life?”, and a pretty good love story. I plowed through this one quickly. If it doesn’t hook you then we can’t be friends because anyone that doesn’t like what I like is wrong and dumb.

4. Douglas Adams – Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (1987)

Douglas Adams is obviously most well known for The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series (a trilogy in five parts). That series is the most must-read thing in this list. Do it. Right now. I’m not sure why I’m drawn to these British writers – besides that they are awesome and funny – but Pratchett and Adams are easily among my top ten authors.

Dirk Gently is not a good detective. He eeks out a living by charging scared old ladies ridiculous fees – mostly for extravagant trips he says are integral to his investigations – while sitting around in his office. Then he gets a job searching for a missing cat and ends up trying to save humanity from extinction. In-between there is a bunch of weird, hilarious shit including an Electric Monk, who was created to go around believing in things so humans wouldn’t have to worry about religion any more, and quantum mechanics. It’s as befuddling and bewildering as it sounds. And I love it so.

BBC America recently developed the story for television, so that’s neat.

3. Ernest Hemingway – The Sun Also Rises (1926)

It took me awhile to latch on to Hemingway. This was the book that did it. Heavily influenced by Hemingway’s own experiences as part of a group of expats in Europe after World War I (aka the Lost Generation), The Sun Also Rises follows a group around Paris and Spain. They are mostly aimless and disillusioned and unsure of what to care about. Hemingway’s prose sneaks up on the unfamiliar reader: it seems airy and almost bored at first, but, when you get into the grove, it becomes forceful and irresistible.

2. Stephen King – The Stand (1978)

Oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy. I just finished this one so it’s fresh in my mind. I put out a Twitter poll to see which “long” book I should finish the year with: King’s The Stand or DeLillo’s Underworld. All three votes were for the former – I’m very popular online – and I’m glad they were.

The Stand has been on my to-read list for quite some time. I found it in a used-book sale earlier this year. I finally read it. It’s huge – I didn’t even read the “uncut” version – and awesome (M-O-O-N that spells awesome, laws yes). A flu wipes out most of humanity. The survivors divide up between the good side and the bad side, each with its respective leader. Someone’s got to lose. It sounds really simple. It is not.

The room given to character building pays off, the action/suspense sequences left me holding my breath, and, yes, it’s creepy as hell at points. King is operating at full tilt in this one. Read it.

1. David Foster Wallace – Infinite Jest (1996)

A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again converted me (the title piece from that book is the single greatest essay I have ever read); Infinite Jest shattered my brain into a million pieces. There’s isn’t much left to be said about David Foster Wallace or his masterpiece – especially from the likes of me.

A lot of the books I read make me pause to appreciate the beauty or brilliance of the writing contained within them, but Infinite Jest had me shaking my head and cracking up with awe and confusion. It’s so surreal and insane and amazing and hyper-intelligent and relatable and laugh-out-loud funny (if you don’t lose your shit while reading the Eschaton scene you aren’t human).

I can’t begin to get into the characters or the unspooling and seemingly completely separate story lines. I simply cannot explain this book. It was a personal accomplishment just to finish the massive thing. And it was so worth it.

I false-started about three times with Infinite Jest. I read three different editions, picking up where I left off each time. I probably read 20 books alongside it (not a bad idea, but definitely slows you down). But after you make it to around page 200, things start to clear up a bit – just enough. I read the final 300 pages solely focused on it; no other books. I will never forget the experience. I don’t read things the same way anymore. The books I read directly after Jest seemed frail and inconsequential, like they didn’t have enough weight to them. I hope to find the time to read it at least one more time through before I die.

I didn’t even mention the footnotes…

 

(Short Story Collections coming soon.)

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today in chance the rapper is a superhero

today in chance the rapper is a superhero

Yet again – few things to say about this dude that hasn’t already been said. Won’t be long into 2017 before all of coloring book is performed on live television. making the rest of the world look like fucking children, incredible stuff as always. a happy sunday indeed.

 

from last nights snl (missing the run dmc skit cause i haven’t watched it yet) :

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the titans are winning the god damn super bowl part 2

the titans are winning the god damn super bowl part 2

That was fucking ridiculous. borderline insane call by Mularkey to go to for 2 with 3+ minutes left and no timeouts but at this point i think it’s also pretty apparent that the combination on the front seven of casey, Morgan, and Orakpo is flat out elite. Mariota, for what it’s worth – is playing his way into a top 5 passer…pick up an elite receiver in the offseason and they’re really cooking with gas. LOVE Delanie walker but he’s not a gronk of Kelce – can’t be your best receiver by far if you wanna be a consistent playoff team. Arguably the best o line in the league and a phenomenal stable of backs – keep limiting the turnovers and bending without breaking on defense and the sky is really the limit for this team if they manage to sneak into the playoffs, and for the next few years as well. Hard to see a team playing this well dropping the ball against the jags next week, or against the texans in week 17. Granted – maybe the best rush defense in the league, but the way this defense is playing I don’t think the osweiler/savage stable is going to be a fatal issue.

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How is One Supposed to Feel…

How is One Supposed to Feel…

Craig Sager passed away today at the age of 65 after a long bout with cancer.

I don’t think Craig Sager needs any introduction to someone who finds themselves reading these words. He was the voice of the NBA on TNT sidelines, a beloved figure in the sports community, and someone who attacked life with positivity and love. Cancer plays no favorites, and today he sadly passed away.

It’s a weird feeling, losing someone in your life that you never met. Craig did not know me, nor did I know him personally, but the world (and our connections in it) often times stretch farther than the physical state.

I’ve been reading this a lot today. You should too. It is an old article from 2014 written by Jake when we were both students at Springfield College. I don’t know if he knows this, but after that article was posted I found myself texting him for what might have been the first time. We were not close friends, barely had spoken, and I didn’t even really like Phillip Seymour Hoffman. For some reason I felt a connection to that article, and told him about it. The inability to describe how you are supposed to feel when someone ‘in’ your life passes away that you never met is something I think my fragile and dramatic emotional state needed an explanation on. It’s confusing, but necessary.

…we never had the chance to meet these people but once they’re gone they’re no more or no less alive to us than they were while living… -Jake 2014

Reopening it today made me realize that the same thing applied to me when Craig Sager passed away and it hit my timeline on twitter. A sudden wave of grief and sadness that wasn’t really explicable to anyone in my vicinity at the time. Am I okay? Yea sure, I didn’t know him.

 It was completely bizarre to me. How was I supposed to feel about it? I had no idea and that was making me upset. – Jake 2014

Working in sports means that most of what you do gets repetitive and becomes annoying. Who wants to write 45 articles on Ryan Lochte in Brazil or speculate about Tony Romo for a month? Getting into this business was supposed to become an outlet for expression through the concept of sports, not condensing emotionless takes into one hundred words or less. It becomes mundane, saturated, and boring after a while.

Now, tell me one time you looked at Craig Sager and thought he was boring, repetitive, or annoying? The camera would pan to him, and with the biggest smile you have seen since your little brother on Christmas he was there ready to update you on the recent cramp LeBron James suffered as if he was in charge of consumer morale and not sideline updates.

By all accounts he was the same way off the court. There are stories from every member of the NBA community about a time that Sager made their day better. He famously kicked out multiple nurses from his room at the hospital for not being happy enough. He wore suits with bright colors just to get you to smile.

Positivity, which he proved is contagious as any virus, seemed to radiate off of his skin with an infectious nature that no real world issue could vaccinate.

When his time finally came, he fought some more. When the time FINALLY came, he fought more. Today, he did not lose, he simply passed into the next place to brighten up the day of those he contacted there.

So how are we supposed to feel about all of it. There really isn’t a culminating answer to that, because obviously everyone processes news a different way. When you don’t know somebody, you can not claim to be depressed or leave work early. You can’t sulk around and go get too drunk at a bar because of your loss.

But what you can do is understand that the world is seldom blessed with people who smile so genuinely. When there are problems that exist in the lives of every single breathing person, the people that change the world do all they can to seek out love. Craig Sager was able to approach each day with the goal in mind that he could leave every individual happier than they were before his interaction.

That was what made his job so special. He was in charge of collecting information from athletes to benefit the viewing audience within a span of a minute at most, from men currently in the midst of performing a highly demanding task. No easy task at all, but the minute a player or coach came into contact with Craig, that light went on, and they saw him smile as if he was about to crack up laughing as he asked the first question regardless of subject, they smiled in return.

Look at every single player or coach in the images above alongside Sager. Smiles. Happiness. The brink of laughter.

So yea, none of us knew Craig Sager like those in his immediate circle did. We don’t mourn his loss the way we would some of them surely are. But he matter to us.

He mattered to me.

In a place and time where cynicism sells, controversy sparks revenue, and people walk around with their face to the sidewalk, Sager was rich in a form of currency that isn’t accepted in most places. He will not live on with us to face whatever is next in our lives, and the nature of his work does not allow us to go back and watch him extensively perform his craft, but his message is one that will never become outdated.

I will end with this.

Jake talked a lot in the piece I linked to earlier (also here) about the idea of dying a second death. When you pass away and then your name passes away afterwards. You cease to exist past a few generations of spoken word memories, and then what? Then, well, I don’t know. That’s sort of why this site exists.

In the case of Craig Sager, I just hope he accomplished whatever it was he set out for. He won’t be dying the second death anytime soon.

Thank you, Craig. Rest in Peace.

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