Briefings: Random Purchases, Jon Gruden, Writing Lost, the UFC and a Jazz Legend’s Passing

It’s not always easy to rip a theme out of our five Briefings selections. But cool is cool; ditto interesting; ditto unexpected. Randomness and spontaneity: we like these things, and they’re harder and harder to find. Some of the most fun exercises are done without a purpose. Why pigeonhole what you’ll enjoy? Embrace the entropy we’re gifting you (it is the holiday season, after all) with these five chaotic internet finds.

It’s a big and complicated world. We’re at tips [at] if you think there’s something we should know about.

1. What’s Sad | Goodbye, Dave Brubeck

Everyone’s heard “Take Five” and “Blue Rondo à la Turk”, but the great jazz musician — famous for his off-kilter time signatures and chords that smack you from your ears to your toes — has many, many more beautiful pieces. Toast to his passing today at the age of 91 by appreciating his work and his life.

2. What’s Violent | The Rise of UFC

Brutal violence? Very much so. Good entertainment? You bet. The unique sport has a strange history, a wonky present and a future that’s massively up in the air. President Dana White’s semi-profile paints him as a deliciously polarizing figure in a groundbreaking context.

3. What’s Biographical | Jon Gruden, Profiled

Gruden seems to be the new wave version of another famous John: Madden, to be exact. Getting the whole picture on the guffawing, cliche-shouting NFL announcer who’s exploded onto the scene will give you a new-found respect for the man; it doesn’t mean you have to stop laughing at some of the absurd overstatements he proffers.

4. What’s Entertaining | How Lost Came to Be

For both lovers and haters: the creation story of one of the biggest television hits ever. We should have known that normalcy never could have spawned Lost. Grantland’s got the tale, with just as many crazy twists as the show it produced.

5. What You’re Missing | Random Amazon Buys

Random buying can’t be that hard, can it? Au contraire, my friend: Amazon’s got you pegged. The Verge illustrates how some programmers are experimenting with truly random buying technology, and what escaping the box of search engines and order can teach us.