Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The New York Times Cracks Me Up

I don't usually enjoy reading about chess in newspapers for two reasons:
1. I've normally already read about whatever happened on a chess site and
2. It's written for a general audience, which means the chess bits are dumbed way down.

Consequently, I haven't been reading Dylan Loeb McClain's chess articles/ blog in the New York Times on a particularly regular basis. But today I realized that I should start, because he possesses a very special journalistic knack. You know what that is? In fact, let's make it a quiz. Your question is:

"What's similar and hilarious about how McClain writes the following articles?"


and just so you don't see the answer before you're ready, here are two big pictures and another couple question(s):

1. Name the two chessplayers in this photo. For a bonus point, where are they?

2. Name the snorkeler.

The way I see it, in each piece, McClain maintains a seemingly impartial tone, yet manages, usually at the very end of the article, to quote someone saying something that makes them look really really bad:

In the first, Paul Truong as shifty equivocator: "The charges are absolutely outrageous, and it is based on information that was obtained 100 percent illegally from the U.S.C.F.”

In the second, Eric Moskow as self-important ass: “When you are very wealthy you want the people associated with you dodging bullets, not creating them ... I can’t be wasting my time wondering if some child is posting something and another child is responding ... All I want to do is give my money away and play chess. .... The only good memories I have of giving money to chess in the U.S. are the scoresheets and the games.” (the scoresheets and the games? ev)

And finally, Sam Sloan as, well, he puts it best: ... "Mr. Sloan said, 'For as long as I live, I will be known as a child pornographer.'”

Just beautiful. Also, I should mention that the Times broke this story.

I'll post the photo answers in a couple days, but I imagine you'll also find them in the comments soon.


Anonymous said...

Few journalists can resist the urge to let their interview subjects hang themselves with their own rope. A punchy quote makes a great end to an article; a left-field batshit loony quote, even better.

In the journalists' defense, without quotes like these, you can't fully convey the tone of the conflict and the personalities involved. From what I know about Sam Sloan and what I've heard about this USCF imbroglio, I'd bet money that there are entire universes of weirdness, immaturity and lunacy simmering under the surface of this story, just waiting to come to a boil. The USCF and the chess-playing world probably owe this reporter a debt of gratitude for his restraint.

Shaun S. said...

1. Merab Gagunashvilli (Sp?), and Elizabeth Paetz, in Cony Island?

2. Alexander Shabalov

If I am right do I win a prize? Just kidding

Anonymous said...

I'll be hornswoggled if the pictures are not of lisa+and+merab,+coney+island and alex,+snorkel+2.

I thought Mr. Sloan sold himself short with his statement.

--Granny O'Doul

Elizabeth Vicary said...

good job, alert readers!

Bill Brock said...

Sloan is not so much a child pornographer as someone who has used the Web to distribute porn to children. Insiders do get a chuckle, but the public may well get the impression that Sloan's reputation has been wrongfully besmirched.

Weird immature lunatic that I am :-) , I might as well extract full entertainment value from my attorneys' very reasonable fees....

Tom Panelas said...

I’ll be hornswoggled, too. I just like the sound of the word and have since the first time I heard it. It has that onomatopoeic tone about it, such that you can probably get away with using it even if neither you nor the person you’re talking to knows what it means.

While we’re at it, I’ll be flummoxed, too. It’s another great word if you pronounce it phonetically (though that may not be scrupulously correct). It has the added virtue of rhyming with lummox, at least the way my father pronounced the latter, as he used it to deride me affectionately when I did something clumsy as a kid.

But enough about me. Are there more words like this? If we find enough of them, it might be possible to have long, enjoyable conversations without anybody actually knowing what any of it meant. Being able to do that could be useful skill in the postliterate age to come.