Sartorially, at least, the genius does not jump right out at you
1. The Best of Belichick
What the Tom Brady suspension has done is offer a platform for Bill Belichick to demonstrate just how superior he is to his supposed peers. Week 1, at Arizona, a team many believe will make it to the Super Bowl next winter, and the Pats win with no Brady and no Gronk. Week 2, an easy home win versus the Dolphins but 2nd-string QB Jimmy Garoppolo is injured. Last night, down to third-string QB Jacoby Brissett, the Pats shut out the Houston Texans, who entered Gillette Stadium 2-0.
No wonder Jacoby Brissett handed the football to a coach who already owns four Super Bowl rings after scoring his first TD. He knows: this four-game stretch, and yes the Pats will start 4-0, is Bill Belichick’s Pet Sounds. His 5th Symphony. He’s Verbal Kint and every other NFL coach is Chazz Palminteri’s character from The Usual Suspects.
2. “What? No F*ck%n’ Ziti?”
Kudos to Sheffield for not “disrespecting the Bing.”
Props to Rolling Stone pop culture maven Rob Sheffield for endeavoring to compile a list of “The 100 Greatest TV Shows Of All Time” in which “All Time” equals “Since 1950.” Man, are we human beings overly self-absorbed.
Anyway, you can argue with the order but the Top 10 is pretty solid: The Sopranos, The Wire, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Seinfeld, The Simpsons, Mad Men, The Twilight Zone, Saturday Night Live, All In The Family, The Daily Show.
One man’s contrarian opinion, 1 to 10: Mad Men, Seinfeld, Late Night/Late Show with David Letterman, The Sopranos, All In The Family, The Twilight Zone, Breaking Bad, The Wire, Cheers, The Office (U.K.).
Oscar and Felix should have been in the Top 25
Kudos to Rob for putting the British The Office so high (No. 21) and for not forgetting the one-year wonder that was My So-Called Life.
What did the list not include that it should have? The Carol Burnett Show, Extras, Frasier, The Cosby Show (it’s not the shows’ faults that Kelsey and Bill are such horrible human beings), Entourage, SCTV, The Newsroom (come at me, Emily Nussbaum!), The Brady Bunch (c’mon, who doesn’t quote it or know it?),
Shortly after 9 a.m. David Faber (who never ages) reported on CNBC that he is hearing rumors of an imminent sale of Twitter. Perhaps a little bird told him? How reliable a reporter is Faber? In the moments before he mentioned it, TWTR was down 71 cents in pre-dawn trading on the bottom-of-your-screen crawl. Less than 30 seconds later, TWTR was up $3 to $22-and-change.
Rumor has it that SalesForce.com and/or Google are interested in purchasing TWTR. It’s not about profitability. It’s about the scope of the service. Always has been.
4. Stupid Is As Stupid Does
When the “Taking a Knee” doc (I’m putting a moratorium on using “30 For 30”) eventually airs about Colin Kaepernick and what his national anthem protest has incited, these tweets and video clips all from just yesterday will be used….
Here’s San Francisco 49er coach Chip Kelly deftly handling long-time Bay Area curmudgeon Lowell Cohn who is not asking questions as much as he is lecturing Kelly.
Here’s North Carolina congressman Robert Pittenger telling BBC News Night that African-Americans “the hate white people because white people are successful and they’re not.” Now, to be fair, Pittenger was also decrying welfare and the perpetual state of misery if being on welfare is your de facto mode of survival, and there he has a point. But the utter insensitivity and tone-deafness of saying that because people are protesting a black man being shot (by a black cop) is mind-boggling.
And here’s Kathy Miller, a former Trump chair woman for Mahoney County in Ohio, telling a reporter, “I don’t think there was any racism until Obama got elected.” I mean, she knows she’s on camera and she’s saying this…
5. Vin Sanity
Two Fordham Prep alums seated with a Hackley Prep alum
As the hagiographies and tributes to an unparalleled 67-year career in broadcasting pour in for Vin Scully, I urge you to read this outstanding piece byKeith Olbemann. Wonderful.
I’m Going Down
I was compiling a list of Springsteen songs yesterday—I do this about once a month…no reason—and this little gem from Born In The U.S.A. popped up. I doubt it makes anyone’s Top 10 list for Springsteen songs, but it’s such a tight tune, and Max Weinberg’s drumming at the beginning is impeccable. This is a throwaway song for The Boss, where for anyone else it’s in their Greatest Hits collection.
Stanford at UCLA
Saturday 8 p.m. ABC
As our college football-loving friend Borat would say, “Sexy time!” Josh RosenRosen and Christian McCaffrey are given their prime-time Heisman stage in the Rose Bowl. It’s time for Jim Mora to win a game that matters in Westwood, but the Cardinal are just a wrecking ball.
A Medium Happy 55th birthday to Catherine Oxenberg….
The Last Don II
Huckster, showman, bloviator, serial swindler of OPM with bizarre hair…and Donald Trump. At yesterday’s rally in Cleveland, here’s what boxing promoter Don King had to say: “If you’re poor, you are a poor negro — I would use the n-word — but if you’re rich, you are a rich negro. If you are intelligent, intellectual, you are intellectual negro. If you are a dancing and sliding and gliding nigger– I mean negro — you are a dancing and sliding and gliding negro. You’re going to be a negro ’til you die.”
Later, at a Fox News town hall at an African-American church that was closed to journalists (suck on that irony for a moment), Trump was asked what he would do to curb crime in predominantly black areas, and he said he would consider using “stop-and-frisk” on a national basis. That’s no relation to “stop-and-Fisk,” where officers halt African-American youths and compel them to say hello to a retired American League catcher.
2. Citi Haul
Ender Inciarte’s catch was the final play of a three-game sweep by the Braves
*The judges will also accept “Ender’s Game”
The Mets headed into this week with an 80-69 record and the Atlanta Braves, who have the worst record in the National League, arriving at Citi Field for a three-game series. They were atop the N.L. wild-card standings. Now, on the first day of autumn, the Let’s Go’s are looking back ruefully at a three-game sweep by the Braves and are in a dead heat with both the St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants: all are 80-72 with 10 games remaining.
Last night Yoenis Cespedes came to the plate with the Mets trailing 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth. With two on and two out, he lined a shot to right center that looked as if it was headed out, but Ender Inciarte of the Braves robbed him with the catch above.
Oh, and ace Jacob deGrom is lost for the season.
3. Today’s Sermon
If you haven’t read it, here’s Drew Magary’stakedown of Trump voters in GQ yesterday. Now, as much as I enjoyed it in the moment, I think there’s a trend happening this week that will only benefit the GOP candidate. In just this week alone, Seth Meyers, Stephen Colbert and now Magary have unabashedly F-bombed the GOP candidate and/or his supporters in essays, written or oral, to their audiences.
It’s getting to that point of…what? Desperation? Vitriol? Hostility?
Allow me a tepid take here: The moment Trump won/Clinton lost the election was when, on national TV, Jeffrey Tambor proclaimed that he hoped “I will be the last cisgender to play a transgender” on TV. I mean, I live on the liberal UWS and I was sitting there thinking, “Cisgender? You mean, like, ‘man’?”
I mean, we get it: Diversity. Great. There’s just something a little off-putting about an entire nation being scolded about its obstinacy towards transgender folk when, honestly, most of us don’t know any. Tambor might as well have gotten up there and stumped for more almond milk at the Starbucks in Brentwood.
(While we’re at it, there’s something so obnoxious about the Malibu Liberals crowd: people who choose to live in an area that is at least 95% white and affluent telling the rest of us how to interact with one another across racial lines. It’s like when your Catholic priest gives classes on sexual relations in marriage.)
When you constantly scold the largest segment of the population (Caucasian) that everyone else’s lives matter, or that you’re not allowed to present a contrarian view in matters of race or sex based not on the view itself but simply because of your #WhitePrivilege, well, what do you think is going to happen? You’re going to get a lethal backlash. And the man who is reaping the rewards of that backlash is Donald Trump.
Do transgender people deserve to go to the bathroom where they feel comfortable? Of course. Does everyone deserve to be treated with respect, regardless of the color of their skin or religion or sexual orientation? Of course. There’s just this militancy to it all now that there didn’t used to be, and, you know, I really wish Norman Lear were still making sitcoms to show people how to be liberal while retaining a sense of humor about it all.
4. Between Two Ferns
I haven’t even seen this yet, either, but I figure it’s at least worth one of our five daily items, no?
5. The Afterlife
A close friend sent this yesterday. It’s from a play that he saw. Pretty self-explanatory:
Older people are exiting this life as if it were a movie… “I didn’t get it,” they are saying.
He says, “It didn’t seem to have any plot.”
“No.” she says, “it seemed like things just kept coming at me. Most of the time I was confused… and there was way too much sex and violence.”
“Violence anyway,” he says. “It was not much for character development either; most of the time people were either shouting or mumbling. Then just when someone started to make sense and I got interested, they died. Then a whole lot of new characters came along and I couldn’t tell who was who.” “The whole thing lacked subtlety.” “Some of the scenery was nice.” “Yes.” They walk on in silence for a while. It is a summer night and they walk slowly, stopping now and then, as if they had no particular place to go. They walk past a streetlamp where some insects are hurling themselves at the light, and then on down the block, fading into the darkness. She says, “I was never happy with the way I looked.” “The lighting was bad and I was no good at dialogue,” he says. “I would have liked to have been a little taller,” she says.
–Louis Jenkins. North of the Cities. Will o’ the Wisp Books, 2007.
You Light Up My Life
Today is Debby Boone’s 60th birthday. In 1977, with both disco and punk roaring all over the place, this saccharine ballad (from a film of the same name that you never want to see, trust me) hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts and, like a low-pressure system that won’t leave the vicinity and keeps everything humid and sticky, remained there for ten freaking weeks! That was a record at the time. This may help you understand why “The Pina Colada Song (Escape)” was a hit in the same decade. Debby is Pat Boone’s daughter, which makes her kind of the Robin Thicke of the Seventies without all the twerking.
Texans at Patriots
8:25 p.m. CBS
I don’t even much like the NFL and I’d watch this game (if I weren’t moonlighting at mixologist gig). J.J. Watt and a distinct possibility of Gronk on the same field? Plus Jadeveon Clowney and Will Fuller? C’mon, now. Both the Texans and Pats are 2-0 as the latter will likely start third-string QB Jacoby Brissett. Houston’s 3rd-string QB is either Tom Savage or Brandon Weeden, FYI.
A Medium Happy 66th to the man who was too wise to grow up, Bill Murray
First Hiddleswift, and now Brangelina? This is why I always refer to them separately as William H. Macy and Felicity Huffman, as opposed to MaHuf. If you haven’t heard, Angelina Jolie has filed for divorce from Brad Pitt. They have six children.
2. Warren (Says Her) Piece
I hope Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf knows a good proctologist, because he suffered quite the ass-chewing while being grilled by a Congressional subcommittee on Capitol Hill yesterday. One senator rightly asked Stumpf, after he claimed he first learned about fraud within his company in 2013 even though 1,000 employees had been fired for committing fraud two years earlier, in 2011, “Why doesn’t this prove that a company like yours is not only too big to fail, but too big to manage?”
But it was Elizabeth Warren who seriously ripped him a new one, telling Strumpf that he should resign and referring to his stewardship as “gutless leadership.”
3. The White Knight of Queen of Katwe
The most popular professor in Chapel Hill….
This is my very close friend Tim Crothers. More than a decade ago, this UNC alum living in Chapel Hill was a regular in soccer coach/icon Anson Dorrance‘s near-daily afternoon roller hockey game. The two developed a friendship.
That led to Tim writing a critically-acclaimed biography of Dorrance, The Man Watching.
That led to Dorrance lobbying Tar Heel hoops coach Roy Williams on Crothers’ behalf for him to write a bio on Williams, which he did, titled Hard Work.
That led to Tim giving a talk at a local seafood restaurant in Chapel Hill on St. Patrick’s Day, 2010, where a man showed him a newspaper clipping (the man had tossed it in the trash three times, but then thought better of it each time and retrieved it) about a young girl from the slums of Kampala, Uganda, who was an international chess champion.
That led to Tim writing a story about the girl, Phiona Mutesi, for ESPN the Magazine, which entailed him traveling first to Uganda and then Siberia, which was nominated for a National Magazine Award, which led to his book, The Queen of Katwe, which has led to the Disney release this Friday in select cities of the film, Queen of Katwe.
One of my favorite things about my friend is his dry and self-deprecating sense of humor. When I spoke to him a week ago, he told me that they’d had a screening of the film in Chapel Hill recently. However, the way films and TV shows are now sent out is they send a link that you can download, but it comes with a password. Well, the theater was given the incorrect password and the movie was delayed. Tim was asked to stretch, to do a Q&A with the crowd during the delay.
He did that for 10 to 15 minutes, but they still had no password. So someone suggested Tim go out in the lobby and sell/sign a few books. He did. He was doing that for half an hour or so when someone approached and said, “You know, they started the movie about 10 minutes ago.” That’s kind of a writer’s life in a nut shell.
There are a lot of celebrated sports writers and sports writers-turned-talking heads out there. Tim Crothers and Steve Rushin are the two best that I know of. They’re the real deal. The story of Phiona Mutesi is a true underdog tale, but so then is the story of Crothers, whom SI laid off in June of 2001 (along with two other hacks, Bill Nack and Leigh Montville, as well as yours truly), but he has recovered quite nicely.
4. Scranton-Wilkes Barre Tops El Paso
You are not going to derail the Railroaders
Not sure why there’s so little fanfare for the championship game of the highest domestic level of baseball outside the Major Leagues, but you probably did not hear that the Scranton/Wilkes Barre Railriders defeated the El Paso Chihuahuas last night in the AAA Championship Game. S/WB’s Chris Parmalee hit a three-run homer before the Railriders made their first out in the first inning, and those were all the runs they needed in the 3-1 victory. S/WB are the Yankees’ top affiliate.
Sanchez is now just six home runs shy of being the Yankees’ home run leader this season, despite having made his debut in early August
Also last night, S/WB alum Gary Sanchez hit the game-winning homer for the Yanks at Tampa Bay. That’s Filthy Sanchez’s 17th homer in just 43 games, tying him for the most home runs in that opening span in MLB history (he had 10 in 73 games with S/WB this season before being called up in August).
Also, Boston’s David Ortiz hit his 36th home run in Boston’s win at Baltimore. That breaks Dave Kingman’s record for the most home runs by a player in his final season, which makes everyone in Boston implore, “WHY must this be your final season, Big Papi?”
5. Skittles Skam
Here’s Stephen Colbert dismantling Donald Trump, Jr.’s Skittles meme…
Smoke On The Water
There’s a classic rock tune whose opening riff you can play on the guitar after just one lesson, and this tune by Deep Purple is it. If someone wants to call this 1972 tune the birth of heavy metal, I’m not sure I’d disagree (though Jimmy Page and Ozzy Osbourne might). The tune peaked at No. 4 in the U.S. and that is, as the deejays at KUPD-FM in Phoenix used to say, “the blazing guitar of Ritchie Blackmore” you are hearing. Vocals by Ian Gillan.
(Listen to the comments by the former band member [not sure which this is] after the song; very funny.)
It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
TCM 8 p.m.
This 1963 comic bouillabaise, the Cannonball Run of its era, is loaded with Hollywood funny men of the time: Sid Caesar, Milton Berle, Jonathan Winters, Jerry Lewis, Don Knotts, Phil Silvers and Dick Shawn. But it also has Jimmy Durante, Spencer Tracy, Mickey Rooney and Peter Falk. Everyone is vamping here, just having a good time and basically playing themselves before I assume hitting The Sands or The Desert Inn for happy hour.
Just the latest example of the Trump brand of sly wink-wink racism
Birther of a Nation
A few videos from the past few days related to the GOP nominee and why his birtther movement, followed by his blatant attempt last Friday to turn the tables on what is an obvious truth: he started the birther movement and, given numerous opportunities to disavow it between 2011 and last week, he continued to use the “Well, some people are saying…” jab, which is his way of being the Second Hand News Guy from SNL (“I don’t know, Colin; that’s what I hear…”), in order to smear President Obama.
Anyway, these videos speak to it better than I am able to:
And this. One of Seth Meyers‘ best moments thus far. He’s not interested in video-bombing red carpet interviews with Mario Lopez at the Emmys’ (If you haven’t seen it, watch as Mario is interviewing James Corden and then Jimmy Fallon jumps in to upstage it all; some of you will think that’s Jimmy being hilarious and playful; I kinda think Jimmy is a lot smarter than that. He craves attention and he may not like that Corden has covers on GQ and Rolling Stone recently, or that Jimmy is better at this viral YouTube thing than he is. It’s all kiss-kissy at the interview, but I kinda think Corden was pissed and that Fallon’s old SNL co-workers, Tina and Amy, rolled their eyes if they witnessed this; Jimmy has to be the center of attention; always).
And I don’t have the video yet, but this is what Bono said to CBS’ Charlie Rose this morning when asked about Trump: “Look, America is the best idea the world ever came up with…but Donald Trump is potentially the worst idea that ever happened to America.”
2. This Is What I Was Alluding To Above…
Is it me? Listen to what Jimmy says as he approaches: “You get first? I’ve been doing it longer.” And though there are hugs and laughs, here is what Corden says, “It’s all about this guy (meaning Fallon).” Yup. And look at the painted-on smile Mario is wearing at about the :28 mark as he says, “Finds this very funny, apparently.” No one calls out Fallon on what an insatiable egomaniac he is.
3. The Best of Carson
Wentz is 2-0 for the Eagles
So that No. 2 overall pick, rookie quarterback Carson Wentz, was an efficient 21-34 as the Philadelphia Eagles took down the Chicago Bears on the road, 29-14. As extremely loyal MH reader Jacob Anstey commented yesterday, Wentz is the second rookie QB to start in the NFL this season (Dak Prescott) and there could be four by week’s end (Jacoby Brissett of the Pats and Cody Kessler for the Cleveland Browns).
As you know, the QB who has yet to start, who has yet to play, is No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff of the Los Angeles Rams. The same Rams who have Todd Gurley at RB but have yet to score at touchdown through two games.
4. The Genius of 9/11
This is the answer
Look. I’m sure many of you are sick of reading anything on here that isn’t related to sports (Notre Dame) or pop culture (Taylor Swift). But as the Madness of the Trump Movement escalates, I feel compelled to share this.
Hate them though you will, the masterminds of 9/11 must be looking up from their present state and grinning at how much better their plan worked than even they could’ve conceived. The plan was to knock out the World Trade Center and a few other iconic structures, sure, but it was far more to incite a war between cultures and to recruit other Muslims, usingAmerican hostility and vainglory against America. The more times people listened to an Alan Jackson song (“And I’m Proud to be an American…”), the more a schism would form between us and them. Between U.S. and them.
The attacks of 9/11 were horrific, of course, and the people who committed them and any of their abetters in the Arab world should have been taken out. But if our leaders at the time had understood game theory better, if they had read The Art of War (Rule No. 1: Know Your Enemy), they might have gotten beyond their “LET’S SMASH THAT BUG!” mentality and understood what was actually best for America.
What was better for America would have been to invest in alternative fuels, so that the Middle East would be less economically viable. What was better for America was to not invade Iraq, which had as much to do with 9/11 as North Korea did, and had a murderous tyrant as its leader, like North Korea, but unlike North Korea, has valuable oil reserves, but instead to surgically take out the men (Osama Bin Laden) responsible.
ISIS is a product of the Iraq War; of that there is no doubt. The instability in the Middle East is also partly a product of that war. If you want to talk to me about how we liberated a people, then why aren’t we liberating the people of Saudi Arabia? Their government is cruel and authoritarian and denies its people human rights daily.
And sure, there are Muslims who hate America, and of course their hatred is as much a result of their utter sense of inferiority in the modern world (name all the great Muslim inventors, artists, athletes, etc., in the past 100 years) as it is anything else. It is irrational.
But so is ours. What the Iraq War did, among other things, is create thousands of disabled military vets, and Gold Star families, and pain for people who volunteered because they believed in our just cause. And so it’s heartbreaking to suggest that this was a sham (or to mention how much Dick Cheney profited from the war) and you’re considered unpatriotic if you are.
The argument goes, How dare you show disrespect to the veterans for questioning their sacrifice. But nobody is questioning their valor and everyone does appreciate their sacrifice. But the greater good is to recognize what they were fighting to protect and preserve, such as liberty and free speech (and, sure, the 2nd Amendment, too). And if we as a nation can’t have a candid discussion about whether that war was just us falling into their trap by inciting a greater cultural divide, if we’re supposed to simply bow down and say, “We LOVE our military because they protect us!” without any exploration of the consequences of that military action, then we’re not much better than any other militarized nation.
And so now here we are in 2016, with nearly half the country supporting Trump, blindly treating ISIS as if it’s the Zika virus. As if we should just spray and be done with them. Not understanding that our greatest weapon against religious demagogues is not to isolate and demonize tens of millions of people for the actions of a few Skittles, but to be the beacon of freedom and liberty that so many aspire to be a part of. Does that mean every terrorist will disappear tomorrow? Of course not. But Islamic Jihad is not a country; it’s an idea. You don’t conquer it with conventional weapons; you conquer it with a better idea.
I’ve used this example before, and you may laugh at it because the gravity of “chopping off people’s heads” is much different than stealing all the Christmas decorations in Whoville. But Dr. Seuss was a very, very smart man, probably smarter than most if not all of the people at the U.N. assembly this week. But there it is: the Grinch envied the freedom and love of one culture (Whoville), so he committed a terrorist attack. And what did they do in retaliation? They didn’t attack him back. They remained true to their guiding principles, to the spirt of the holiday that they were celebrating. They locked hands, formed a circle, and reaffirmed what they were about. And the Grinch eventually got the picture.
If you think I’m too much of a simpleton for making that analogy, that’s fine. Yes, ISIS fighters are much more wicked and deadly, but the principles are the same. Remember that Jesus guy you all supposedly love so much and worship in between attending gun shows and Trump rallies? He conquered the world without ever lifting a hand in violence. He understood: nothing defeats a bad idea quite like a better idea.
And, finally, I hope people wake up and stop treating global politics as if it’s a football season. “America First” is not something any Founder ever said or thought. There are no rankings. America is about freedom and liberty and equality. It’s not about world dominance. Donald Trump is trying to persuade people that Americans are the only people in the world who matter; we’re not.
What we do or how we act isn’t implicitly right because it’s what we are doing, or because what we want. There are moral and ethical absolutes, and it doesn’t begin with DOING WHAT’S RIGHT FOR AMERICA. Because honestly, if that’s the way this country had always operated, we’d still have slavery. There’s a reason Abraham Lincoln is almost universally recognized as our greatest president. It’s because he fought for a greater purpose than what was politically or economically expedient at the moment. The idea that Donald Trump could hold the same office as Abe Lincoln, well, it’s quite depressing.
–THUS ENDETH TODAY’S SERMON
5. Where Everybody Knows His Name
In case you missed it, Bill Murray tended bar in Greenpoint (a section of Brooklyn, directly across the East River from the U.N.) last Saturday night. He was helping out his son, Homer, who was opening up a new bar/restaurant there, 21 Greenpoint.
Good Morning, Starshine
Think back to when you were a really little kid. You’re in the backseat of your family station wagon, dad and mom in the front seat. Everything is pretty much as good as it can be. Maybe you’re heading to Carvel. Or going to the beach. And there’s a perfect song to accompany that mood. That’s what Oliver’s 1969 hit is for me. This hit No. 3 that year, two years after it was first introduced in the 1967 musical hit Hair.
Giants at Dodgers
ESPN2 10 p.m.
So this happened last night:
And this happened two years ago:
A reminder that Madison Bumgarner was SI’s “Sportsman of the Year” in 2014. The Giants are currently six back of the Dodgers and in a tie with St. Louis for the second wildcard spot. As you know, SF has won the World Series in the last three even-numbered years prior to this one.
A Medium Happy 71st to Randolph Mantooth, the hunkier half of Gage & DeSoto
Jackson has accounted for 18 touchdowns in three games and is second in the nation in rushing
Were Lamar Jackson and Louisville ready for their closeup versus No. 2 Florida State on Saturday? The 6’3″ sophomore from Boynton Beach, Fla., accounted for 362 all-purpose yards, four rushing touchdowns and a passing touchdown in a 63-20 beat down of the Noles.
To be clear, Louisville’s defense was just as good, with five sacks and two forced turnovers. The score was 63-10 until late in garbage time.
It was a long afternoon for the FSU freshman….
The Cards are now a solid No. 3 and face two Top 10 teams on the road (Clemson in two weeks and Houston in November). It’s early, but Lamar Jackson is now the Grange Award frontrunner and the Cards control their playoff destiny. Coach Bobby Petrino, when he gets off the motorcycle, HE’S GOOD!.
*The judges will also accept, “When A Mic Drop is a Ball Drop”
First it was Ray-Ray McCloud of Clemson last week (above)….
Then, last Saturday night, versus No. 3 Ohio State, Joe Mixon of No. 14 Oklahoma did the same thing at the end of a 97-yard kickoff return (for some bizarre reason, replay officials never even looked at it and Mixon got away with it).
Then later on Saturday night Cal running back Eric Enwere did it at the end of a 55-yard touchdown run versus Texas with the Golden Bears only leading 50-43. This one was called back, as was the Clemson play.
This crisis of idiocy did not begin this month. Remember Kaelin Clay of Utah last year versus Oregon?
Is it going too far to suppose that the men with the talent and speed to make these plays are a double-edged sword? Part of their upside is their immense belief in themselves (and speed), but the other end of that is that they need to mic-drop the football and bask in adulation? Those of us SMH’ing at them would never have the talent to do what they do. Cultural Divide Debate Embrace in 3…2…1….
3. Is Network TV Dead?
Sterling K. Brown
Grand total of Emmy winners from the four major networks—ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC—in prime-time TV: One, Regina King, Best Supporting Actress, Limited Series, ABC, for American Crime.
The cable/streaming nets ruled, and the biggest story is that it’s not even a story any more.
The Emmys finally got it right (I didn’t hear the words “Modern Family” once) as Veepwon for Best Comedy, Game of Thrones for Best Drama, Last Week Tonight with John Oliverfor Best Variety Talk, Key & Peele for Best Variety Sketch, Kate McKinnon for being Kate McKinnon and The People Vs. O.J. Simpson for Best Limited Series. Three actors from that series—Sterling K. Brown (Chris Darden), Sarah Paulson (Marcia Clark) and Courtney B. Vance (Johnnie Cochrane)—deservedly took home Emmys and there was much talk of chains being rocked, while Paulson ended her acceptance speech by paying tribute to Clark, who was in the audience. I’m embedding my own tweet here, but….
Sarah Paulson wins. It took 21 years, but Marcia Clarke and Christopher Darden finally won in Los Angeles….
Great Moments: Besides Paulson’s speech, Matt Damon walking onstage to troll host Jimmy Kimmel, Kimmel’s mention of Johnnie Cochrane “looking up” from wherever he is, Andy Samberg being Andy Samberg, and the reunion of Sipowicz and Simone.
By the way, returning to the original point of this story, the most celebrated prime-time shows currently on CBS, NBC and ABC (via ESPN) are prime-time NFL telecasts…and Empire. Just so you know….
4. Non-Bronx Bomber
This is Ahmad Khan Rahmani, the man who planted three bombs in New York City and New Jersey over the weekend. No one was killed. Rahmani is a loser (to be clear, the death toll had no impact on whether he was a loser or not). Just another alienated, disaffected person who wants to blame someone else for his inferiority. He’ll be caught soon. Or dead. (UPDATE: Captured before noon)
5. Lost In Boston
Ramirez hit the game-winning three-run walk-off on Thursday, and then another three-run homer and the game-winning solo shot on Sunday night
The Yankees entered the ninth inning at Fenway Park on Thursday night with a three-game lead and a chance, with three more outs, to be just three games out of first place (and two back in the wildcard). Masahiro Tanaka, the AL ERA leader, had pitched seven innings of one-run ball. Then Boston struck for five runs and the Yankees lost all four games to the Red Sox (they blew four-run leads in the first and last games of the series).
It’s not officially over for the Bombers, but it sure feels over after that nut punch of a weekend at Fenway. Hanley Ramirez went Manny Ramirez on the Yanks, going 9 for 16 and hitting four home runs in four games. I’m ready for it: Gimme a Cubs vs. Red Sox Fall Classic.
In which Joni Mitchell explains why she was unable to attend Woodstock—a TV commitment in NYC; she reveals that she watched it on TV, too—but then just went ahead and wrote a classic song about the concert event of the decade epoch that she was unable to attend even though she was only about 2 1/2 hours away (helicopters, anyone?). Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, her pals whom she’d been playing with in Chicago the night before, made more hay with this tune, but it’s Mitchell’s song.
The Tonight Show
NBC 11:35 p.m.
A few days after having Donald Trump as his guest, host Jimmy Fallon welcomes Hillary Clinton. Egg Roulette, anyone?
A Medium Happy 35th to Rory Gilmore herself, Alexis Bledel. She’s STILL not going to ride your motorcycle, Dean. See you for Friday Night Dinner!
Today is also the 52nd birthday of Molly Shannon. She’s 52! And she likes to kick, stretch, aaaaand kick!
If there is a mightier Yankee Killer than Big Papi, he was before my time
David Is Goliath
The Yanks led comfortably, 5-1, heading into the bottom of the 8th at Fenway Park last night. Masahiro Tanaka had pitched seven brilliant innings, allowing just one run and escaping David Ortiz and the bases loaded earlier in the game by inducing a relatively harmless sacrifice fly (Boston’s lone run).
Tanaka, the A.L. ERA leader (2.97), pitched a gem and it was all for naught.
The Bombers were about to be 10 games over .500 , which would keep them two games out of a wildcard spot. Then Ortiz, facing a Yankee reliever, hit a solo shot in the eighth. In the ninth, with two outs, he singled to keep a drive alive. Hanley Ramirez hit the game-winning three-run walk-off home run to dead center field, but make no mistake: Big Papi smote the Yankees.
New York is now looking up at three teams (Toronto/Baltimore, who are tied, Detroit and Seattle) for the second wild card spot. I’m emoting. Bear with me. Thanks.
2. 30 Rock of Ages
Fallon, and his staff, are very smart. They knew this moment would go viral. It also helped cover up the toe-sucking interview that had preceded it.
Was this coordinated? Jimmy Fallon’s guest last night was Donald Trump, while Seth Meyers’s was Bernie Sanders. Fallon did a great job of holding Trump’s feet to the pillow, and I had to agree with this tweep afterward.
Jimmy Fallon does a lot of great impressions but his Sean Hannity tonight was one of his best.
3. Where Everybody Knows Your Name Watering Down Drinks
A couple of friends had both told me to give Louis C.K.‘s latest series, Horace and Pete, a try. It’s basically a very, very dark, nearly obsidian, Cheers. Louis C.K. and Steve Buscemi play cousins (?) in the title roles who run a bar. Co-stars include Alan Alda (who only improves with age), Jessica Lange and Edie Falco (that cast is a credit to Louis C.K.’s writing and just his overall personality).
It’s fantastic. I’ve only seen the premiere episode, but it’s like a Walter Miller play (judging from the two I read in high school). I’ve embedded a clip from that first episode that includes none of the cast members I’ve mentioned but is still worth watching.
USC LB Cameron Smith—I refer to him as Cameron JuJu-Smith—is a manster
Noon (ABC): No. 2 Florida State at No. 10 Louisville. Seminoles, without Derwin James, either stand up for status quo or Lamar Jackson is your Heisman front-runner
Noon (ESPN2): North Dakota State at No. 13 Iowa. The Bison have won FIVE consecutive FCS national championships. What were the Hawkeyes thinking?
Noon (ESPN): No. 25 Miami at Appalachian State: Gonna be fun watching App. State take down another UM (that Notre Dame fans can’t stand) in Boone, N.C.
J.T. Barrett, this is your close-up
3:30 (CBS): No. 1 Alabama at No. 19 Ole Miss: Can the Rebels really beat Nick Saban and Alabama three years in a row (No)?
3:30 (BTN): Colorado at No. 4 Michigan. Can Michael Westbrook suit up?
3:30 (ABC): No. 22 Oregon at Nebraska. Mike Riley has a little history with the Ducks.
7:30 (NBC): No. 12 Michigan State at No. 18 Notre Dame. Irish are 0-7 in last seven games versus Top 12 teams, but are these Spartans a Top 12 team? Time for DeShone Kizer to win a big game against a good team (he did this at Stanford last November, but then his defense let him down).
Equanimeous St. Brown. I’ll keep posting this pic until you ceased to be amazed by it.
7:30 (FOX): No. 3 Ohio State at No. 14 Oklahoma. The game of the day. Props to both schools for scheduling it.
8:00 (ABC): USC at No. 7 Stanford. Will USC show up for a top opponent? Trojans have lost 3 of 4 to Top 12 opponents, and all by at least 18 points (the win? Do you remember Troy beat No. 3 Utah in Coliseum last October?). Christian McCaffrey versus USC LB Cameron Smith a matchup of future first-round (top 10?) picks.
10:30 (ESPN): No. 11 Texas at Cal. Are the Horns for real? They beat UTEP 41-7 after the emotional ND win.
I’m guessing you’ve already seen this video, since it has gotten five BILLION WITH A “B” views on YouTube. That Katy Perry knows how to find a song with a good hook, does she not? The song hit No. 1 in 2014 and was the best-selling song of the year, and the best-selling song that included the lyrics, “She’ll eat your heart like Jeffrey Dahmer.” Yes, you must have a hip-hop interlude in any pop song nowadays (I know: I sound old; guess what? I AM old) and the artist here is Juicy J. (Did I get that right, kids?).
ABC 8 p.m.
Those upstarts from Pied Piper are also TV’s best ensemble at the moment
Hosted by Jimmy Kimmel. I don’t have a fireplace, but I’ve already got the pokers hot and ready to stick in my eyes for when Modern Family wins yet another award it doesn’t deserve. My picks (Who I want to, not who I think will, win): Drama, Game of Thrones; Comedy: Silicon Valley (though Veep is right there with it and will likely win).
I guess this is the week where the candidates and media talk about their relative healths to distract us, while Donald Trump surrogates sincerely argue that gesticulating wildly while speaking is adequate exercise in between taco bowls and buckets of KFC. Both Hillary Clinton (68) and Trump (70) are overweight and have never appeared, at least since entering public life, to care all that much about exercise (golf is only exercise if you don’t use a cart).
At least Carter (39, for his presidential number) could finish a 5K (if not this time)
Trump would be the oldest president to take office, Hillary the third-oldest (in between the two of them? St. Reagan, whom we all know played football at Notre Dame before succumbing to a fatal bout of…pneumonia!). Looking for a physically fit president? Try Barack Obama. Or George W. Bush (or his dad). Or even Reagan. Jimmy Carter ran 5Ks, even though that wasn’t always the wisest idea. Gerald Ford played football at Michigan. They were ALL fitter than either of these two.
We feel you, Little Miss Flint. We feel you.
Here’s Charles Pierce with a terrific read on how even if Trump does not win, he’s “paved the way for the next American tyrant.” Yup. White nationalists/supremacists who “want their country back” are basically insecure little children who are afraid to confront their own inferiority, so they just blame it on people who don’t look or worship like them. You know who that sounds a lot like? ISIS.
2. Gubrud Or Go Home
Gubrud has already beaten Wazzu in Pullman and took five-time defending national champ North Dakota State to overtime in Fargo
So SI.com/MMQB has a story up this a.m. about “the next Carson Wentz,” a 6’7″ QB from the University of Montana named Brady Gustafson. Right collegiate level (FCS), right area of the country, but maybe the wrong dude.
Meet Gage Gubrud of Eastern Washington. A sophomore in his first season as a starter, Gubrud leads all FCS (and FBS) passers with 924 yards (462 per game) in two games. He has completed 75% of his passes (60 of 80) and thrown 9 TDs.
What’s most impressive is that Gubrud, a McMinnville, Ore., native, has yet to play a home game. He led the Eagles to a win at FBS/Power 5 conference member Washington State in the season opener and then took the five-time defending national champion North Dakota State Bison to overtime last Saturday on their turf. Keep an eye on him. And how long until he’s taking snaps for the Ducks?
3. Monmouth County’s Finest
The man, the legend, the icon, the American poet, Bruce Springsteen, turns 67 one week from Friday. If you’re a sports blogger throwing snark his way, you’re just showing off your own ignorance. Keep doing it. Here’s a tremendous piece on Freehold’s finest (now residing in Rumson but hitting the gym in Tinton Falls), who is actually embarking on a BOOK tour later this month (I’m picturing four-hour signings) before heading back out with the band to Australia and New Zealand for the winter (Bruce is nobody’s fool).
4. Getting Back To Even
If San Fran makes the postseason, it still has a 1-2 punch of sub-3.00 ERA hurlers in Johnny Cueto and Madison Bumgarner
San Francisco entered the All-Star break with a 57-33 record, 24 games over .500 and with a healthy lead in the National League West. The Giants are now 77-68, giving them a 20-35 record in the second half of the season.
As you are likely aware, the capricious Bay Area ball club has a thing about even-numbered years. In 2010, 2012 and 2014 the Giants won the World Series, despite never having the National League’s best record in any of those seasons. In 2011, 2013 and 2015, Bruce Bochy’s ball club failed to advance to the postseason.
Brandon has belted 15 HRs this season, a team-high
This is 2016 (I thought that was information worth sharing). If the season ended today, the Giants would earn a wildcard spot, but the Mets and Cards are both within a game of them, so one of those three will be left out. The Dodgers are five games ahead of them. In other words, it sounds like another magical October at AT&T Park.
Curious stat: SF’s leading home run hitter, Brandon Belt, only has 15 all year. Remember when the Giants had a dude who hit 73 in one season?
5. Grate Expectations
Marilyn Monroe and Tom Ewell.
This moment, from the comedy The Seven-Year Itch, was shot 62 years ago today at the corner of Lexington and East 52nd Street. Willem Dafoe was nowhere near at the time.
Out In The Street
“Whoa-Oh! Whoa-Oh! Whoa-OH-Ohhh-Ohhhhhhh-O!” This was considered a good song off The River when it was released in 1980, but it has since become Bruce’s most anticipated song in concert. If you think of a Springsteen show as a Catholic mass, this is the Prayer of the Faithful. You can see that in this 1980 version in Tempe, Arizona, Bruce has yet to incorporate the call backs to the fans that have turned this song into the religious experience that it is. About that 1980 show at Arizona State University: I had a backstage pass courtesy of my sister, a student and usher at the time, but a higher power in our family put the kibosh on it because it was a school night (No, I’m not bitter; not at all!)
The Blair Witch Project
SyFy 9 p.m.
Few, if any, horror films ever did a better job of subscribing to the credo “Less is more.” I saw this film in the afternoon in the summer of ’99 (with a few SI friends) and was still freaked out that night. I honestly don’t think I slept. I later interviewed the cast member who went on the Cal Ripken, Jr., rant for SI and he told me that was completely improvised. He was a big Orioles fan.
Bizarre trivia note: After seeing this film at the Angelika (I think), we walked over to the JFK, Jr., shrine outside his apartment. He had died a few days earlier and people were still assembling outside. Crazy times.
“I said, ‘You’re legal!’ A Medium Happy 21st to Deshaun Watson
The Bad News Bears were mostly white and blond. They had twice as many token Latinos (2) as token blacks (1). They even took a girl over a second African-American and hired a drunk to manage the team over more worthy minority candidates.
Well, The Bases Are White
Yesterday, Howard Bryant of ESPN.com, whom I don’t know, wrote an essay prompted by Oriole All-Star Adam Jones’s declaration that “Baseball is a white man’s game, by design.” You can read it here. I may be misinterpreting it, but Bryant appears to be saying that you won’t see a protest such as Colin Kaepernick’s in baseball because it is a “white man’s game.”
Maybe you won’t be seeing one like that because while the NFL is 68% African-American (more than five times the national average) and while the NBA is 74% African-American (more than six times the national average), MLB is 8% African-American (only two-thirds the national average). Baseball just isn’t all that black, and so the issue that Kaepernick is raising isn’t as relevant to the 92% of MLB who are not black. And if you say, Well, it should be relevant to all of them, well, everyone has their own problems. Why isn’t someone in the NFL taking a knee during the anthem about hazing? Or sexual assault? Or Super-PACs?
Epstein: This clown and his Yale degree are totally overmatched in MLB. On the bright side, it’s good to know that baseball isn’t anti-Semitic, right?
Bryant also writes, “The game has cultivated the front-office posture of a Fortune 500 company, placing another barrier to advancement for people of color by preferring young, often unproven Ivy League talent over people of color who have deep institutional knowledge of how baseball works and is played…” So, is he throwing shade at Theo Epstein here? Because what has the dude with the Yale degree ever done to demonstrate that he belongs in a GM’s seat? Baseball employs plenty of Latino and yes, black, instructors at the level of play.
A lot of what takes place at the GM level is about advanced mathematics and statistics. I’m not saying a person of color cannot do those jobs, but I am saying that it doesn’t hurt to have an MBA or to be scholarly while dealing with the daily stresses of contracts, waiver wires, juggling players on disabled lists, etc. It takes more than just keen intelligence; it takes familiarity with contracts, big business, leverage, etc. Fortune 500 companies also go after Ivy League alums for the same reason.
At the front-office level, baseball isn’t about showing an 18 year-old how to properly execute a hook slide. (Note: Artie Moreno is baseball’s only minority owner. My friend nearly did an eight-figure non-baseball business deal with him once. Nearly. Moreno tried to low-ball him after the deal was agreed upon. Thought his leverage would pressure my friend to succumb. My friend told him to stick it. I don’t know that that makes my point or disputes it, but it’s just a piece of information I thought I’d share with you.)
Now, where Bryant’s story really, really loses me is where he writes, ” In a country full of world-class black athletes, baseball cannot seem to attract many.” That’s the fault of baseball? A few uncomfortable points that Howard chose not to raise: 1) In the childhoods of Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Jackie Robinson, the NBA did not exist and the NFL wasn’t on television; black kids then did not aspire as much to play those sports then. They do now. 2) I’m more than willing to say that, on average, blacks are superior athletes to whites (look at those NBA and NFL percentages above), but the NBA and NFL reward raw athletic traits such as speed and power more than baseball does. Those traits don’t help you hit a curveball or throw one as much.
There’s a reason so many Dominicans and Cubans are in the MLB: because Dominican and Cuban kids play baseball day and night as soon as they’re out of the crib. It’s the same reason why China, India and the USA, the world’s three most populous nations, don’t have a prayer in a soccer match against Argentina, the world’s 32nd-largeest nation. It’s about culture.
Say Hey! Are you playing stickball?
Last night, while I was still seething over Howard’s PC misrepresentation of the truth, Dellin Betances got a save for the Yankees. Betances is a Dominican-American who was born and raised in Manhattan. And then T.J. Rivera, a Latino who was raised in the Bronx, hit the game-winning home run for the Mets. They’re both men of color. Both raised in the inner city.
Baseball isn’t keeping black kids out of the sport, and if it isn’t attracting many, that’s not baseball’s fault. Black kids, by and large, would rather play basketball. Or football. There’s a great photo of Willie Mays, early in his career, stopping in I believe Harlem to play a game of stickball on the street with some black youths. I doubt anyone in Harlem has played stickball in the past 20 years.
2. From Connie to Vin to Julio
Scully, 88, calls his last game in San Francisco on October 2, even though the Dodgers are headed to the postseason
Last night Michael Kay of the YES Network, who does a terrific job as the Yankee broadcaster (I’m only privy to NYY and NYM broadcasts, but the Yanks have a terrific booth team with rotating analysts Ken Singleton, Paul O’Neill, David Cone, John Flaherty and Al Leiter), shared this note during the Dodgers-Yankees game: Dodger broadcaster Vin Scully, who will call his final game on October 2nd, began with the Dodgers in 1950, when they were still in Brooklyn.
The dapper Connie Mack, born Cornelius McGillicuddy, managed the Philadelphia A’s from 1901 to 1950
That same year Connie Mack was managing the Philadelphia Athletics. Mack had been in baseball since 1886 and was born in 1862, before the Battle of Gettysburg.
Uriah took a no-decision last night in the Bronx after pitching four innings of shutout ball
And I’ll add that last night the Dodger starting pitcher was Julio Urias, who is only 19 and was born in Mexico. Let’s assume Urias has a long career and is still in the game in 2030 and lives to at least the age of 66, which would mean at least until 2062. That would mean Scully bridged the span of 200 years of baseball people, from birth to death (1862 to 2062) and 144 years of MLB careers (1886 to 2030). Pretty astounding stuff.
3. Run Away Train
It’s not hitting the wall, but it’s close
You train for a marathon; you don’t marathon for a train.
Last Sunday runners at the Vai Marathon in Lehigh Valley, Pa., found their 26.2-mile jaunt interrupted for up to 10 minutes by a slow-moving choo choo. They were, as you might expect, pissed. Adding to the frustration, Sunday was the final day for aspiring Boston Marathon entrants to run a qualifying time for next April’s iconic race in the Hub. More than a few entrants at the Vai were vying for a spot in Boston. How race officials will treat their times has yet to be decided.
Last night Stephen Colbert noted, accurately, that perhaps Hillary Clinton should have disclosed that she had pneumonia. After all, the lung-based ailment did kill William Henry Harrison. And by the way, this is a bad look for you, CBS News.
On the other side of the race, Dr. Oz is going to have Donald Trump on as his guest today to talk his health records but Oz already said, and I quote, “I’m not going to ask him questions he doesn’t want to have answered.”
I mean, does this quack have any idea how ironic his name is?
5. FLOTUS, Steph and Ellen
I like these three humans. So here’s a good excerpt of their chat yesterday.
Everyone has their favorite autumn albums or artists, no? My two favorite autumn albums are Our Time in Eden by 10,000 Maniacs and Enlightenment by Van Morrison (or just about anything from Van the Man, to be honest). But then again, there’s no better time to be in New York City than from mid-September through mid-October.
Orioles at Red Sox
7 p.m. ESPN
Porcello was 9-15 with a 4.92 ERA last year. He’s 20-3 with a 3.2 ERA this year.
Did you know that Red Sox starter Rick Porcello, who takes the hill tonight, is 20-3? Before this week, I didn’t. I agree with Tim Kurkjian, who believes that the Sox will take the A.L. pennant, but I think these are the two best teams in the American League. The good news for this Yankee fan is that the Baby Bombers will avoid seeing Porcello this weekend.
A Medium Happy 100th birthday to Roald Dahl, one of the great rascals of 20th century literature (he died in 1990). Dahl, who stood nearly 6’6″, was the original BFG (he wrote the book that Spielberg produced this summer as an animated film).
James and the Giant Peach. The BFG. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.Roahl Dahl wrote them all, while also writing the scripts for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and a James Bond film (You Only Live Twice). Dahl was a humorist, a mischief-maker, a twisted soul (he wrote extensively for Playboy including one story in which the narrator morphs into a seven-foot penis), a prolific and idiosyncratic writer. A complete and utter original. A genius. Happy 100th!
p.s. If you’re looking for a Dahl book that is not written for kids, and you wanna get a sense of how twisted and darkly funny he could be, read My Uncle Oswald.
1. Kevin Harlan Saves Monday Night Football
Punt. Punt. Punt. Interception. Punt. Punt. Punt. Punt. Punt. Punt. Interception. Punt. Turn over on downs. Game over. Niners 28, Rams 0. The only thing that will and should be remembered from this contest is Kevin Harlan’s epic call on Westwood One Radio of a drunk idiot sprinting onto the field in the fourth quarter. The call itself belongs in the Smithsonian, or the National Archives, or the Museum of Broadcasting, or all of the above. No one on TV (besides Brent or Verne or perhaps Tess) has sounded like they are having that much fun calling a football game in years.
2. Ill-Defined Malady, M’Lady*
*The judges will also accept “Is Hillary Illary?”
Maybe Aaron Sorkin foresaw all of this 15 or so years ago.
Leo: “Why didn’t you tell me?”
Jed: “Because I wanted to be the president.”
Pneumonia? Dehydration? If there’s one thing we’ve learned about Hillary and Bill, it’s that we’re not always going to get the whole truth. But tell me you can’t see that above dialogue taking place between Tim Kaine or Jen Chisholm and Hillary. Of course you can. Although, as Bill Maher tweeted yesterday,
Pneumonia? I’d vote for Dead Hillary in this race. She could be Patient Zero for Bubonic Plague, still better than #TangerineNightmare
And I find it hard to disagree. All is forgiven, Mitt Romney. Come back! You, too, John McCain. Al Gore, come on down! Ross Perot, why not? (Sarah, stay up in Wasilla). This presidential election is beginning to feel like the Rams quarterback job hunt.
By the way, this is a TERRIFIC scene. Toby was such a royal pain in the ass, but he was usually right.
3. Dancing With the Star-Crossed
So there was Ryan Lochte on Dancing With The Stars, because you can’t be hosting pool parties in Las Vegas every day of your life. And then some protester rushes the stage to interrupt it, and it’s not as if Tom Bergeron is going to get n the middle of that scene, no sirree. Anyway, the real tragedy here is that Kevin Harlan was not on hand to commentate the moment.
And so the question becomes, Was all of this staged to garner some attention? Who knows?
4. Welcome Back, Chumley’s!
New York’s favorite old speakeasy, Chumley’s, is making a return later this month after a nearly decade-long hiatus. The West Village haunt, which never had a sign out front (go to the corner of Bedford and Barrow and look for a big wooden door that people are occasionally entering or exiting). It’s not going to be exactly the same spot that it was, but in the past few years, when so many iconic and favorite New York eateries have been closing down (Union Square Cafe, The Emerald Inn [moved, but no longer the same], CBGB, etc), it’s nice to see one return.
The apocryphal story is that Chumley’s is the speakeasy that gave us the term, “Eighty-Six it.” Not sure if that’s true or not, but it adds to the lore.
Personal note: My last time inside Chumley’s was on my birthday, on 9/10/01. I recall walking out well after midnight and staring up at the World Trade Center as our cab pulled onto 7th Avenue. The buildings would be gone in less than eight hours.
5. The Film Room with Chris Corbellini!
O Captain, My Captain!
by Chris Corbellini
There’s just something so preposterous about challenging the right decision by a good man. On January 15, 2009, US Airways Flight 1549 took off from LaGuardia and barely reached skyscraper altitude before a flock of birds turned that jet into a glider, forcing Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger to pull off the ballsiest move in aviation history by landing the aircraft on the Hudson River and saving all aboard.
And in Clint Eastwood’s latest film, SULLY, federal investigators had the nerve to second-guess him. You can almost hear Eastwood growling “Those f-ckers” in every frame.
The captain in question had over 40 years of flight time, first as a teenager over the farmlands of Denison, Texas, then at the Air Force Academy (where he learned to fly gliders) followed by military service (where he learned to land fighter jets with engine trouble), and finally, decades of experience as a commercial airline pilot. He had logged 20,000 hours in the air and was ideally suited to try such an unprecedented landing. And while the passengers didn’t know that at that time, as they cried and prayed and heard the flight attendants repeat crash instructions to chilling affect, they certainly know it today. The best landing is the one where everyone walks away. Or climbs onto a boat.
The movie could have been a step-by-step guide down to the water, from A to Z, showcasing the pilots and some passengers to root for. That story still would have gotten made. Real life heroism is easy to market. But Eastwood and his screenwriter tried for something more – showcasing the National Transportation Safety Board as they throw major shade the Captain’s way, second-guessing his every move and jeopardizing his career. It’s an interesting structure – beginning with the happy ending all of us know, and then dumping all over how that happy ending came to be.
So give SULLYpoints for degree of difficulty (Ed. Note: Not unlike the pilot’s maneuver itself; coincidence?). Even from the trailers, when the NTSB plot is revealed and the credibility of a national treasure — played by Tom Hanks, another national treasure — is threatened, my first thought was “No way this angle will work.” It also makes real-life investigators the villains, whether deserved or not. But the movie does a commendable job in the first half establishing at least some doubt Sully made all the right moves. The computer simulations, over and over, prove the aircraft could have landed at LaGuardia, or at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey. The pilot himself, tortured by PTSD and nightmares, begins to wonder if his decision-making was sound, despite the protests of his confidants (His co-pilot: “Bullshit. They should put a ribbon on you and get you back in the air.”) Sully is the coolest customer in the room, sure, but he is also a flesh-and-blood, middle-aged man who just went through a deeply traumatic experience. The nation wants to hug him. But what if the country just as quickly turns on him? What happens to his family? What happens to his new business as a safety consultant?
The script shows the emergency landing from two perspectives – that of the pilots, and the passengers. The passenger portion establishes characters quickly – the bros who just make the flight to go golfing with their pop, an elderly mother and her doting daughter, etc. The one that really hooked me was the young woman who passed her baby to a stranger moments before impact. Unthinkable in any other scenario … but this man was kind to them before takeoff, and she decides he’s physically stronger so there’s a better chance he’ll be able to hold on.
Finally, in Act 3, we see it all from Sully’s view. By then, there’s no doubt what really happened. His decision to switch on auxiliary power, out of sequence according to the manual, bought them time, and the co-pilot (played with a touch of understandable nervousness by Aaron Eckhart) quickly and quietly followed along. They zipped past the George Washington Bridge practically at eye level. The flight crew, one of whom was injured, then directed almost all the folks safely onto the wings and rafts in front of a stunned New York City. And you know who was the last one off the aircraft, still shouting into the fuselage for anyone left behind.
Just like in CAPTAIN PHILLIPS, Hanks does his best work in the film after disaster has been averted. In a hospital room he finally lets his stoicism slip off his shoulders for a moment when the boss says the word “155,” and it might be his Oscar clip from the movie.
Hanks, of course, won back-to-back Oscars for PHILADELPHIAand FORREST GUMP, changing the trajectory of his career in Hollywood. Cameron Crowe even called him “The Pope of the Oscars,” and it fits. But he won the respect of casual moviegoers with SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. After RYAN, there was no leadership role he couldn’t play in the mind of the public, and for a generation of men, if Hanks were playing you in a movie, or someone that crouched in the trenches of life beside you … then you’ve done something special. So Eastwood has his Jimmy Stewart here, or his TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD-era Gregory Peck. The two movie icons found each other in the nick of time — the 60-ish leading man that an audience instinctively trusts to do the right thing, and an old-school director in his 80s who doesn’t see enough of that anymore (there’s a vague reference to the stock market crisis of that time).
Is SULLYperfectly constructed? It’s definitely well-made. The acting top to bottom isn’t showy, there’s a nice, crispy edit from a fighter jet from Sully’s past to a fighter jet perched on the Intrepid Museum, and a shot taken from over Hanks’ shoulders looking at the floating aircraft is movie magic. But it’s not a masterpiece.
In Eastwood’s last two films, AMERICAN SNIPER and this one, the leading ladies are wasted as the token worried wives on the other end of the phone. Laura Linney, playing the captain’s wife, could have gone yard with this role – a woman watching her husband’s trying circumstances play out on national television. The finish of SULLYends with a joke to let us all exhale a bit, but it also feels like a warm ending when the director could have pushed for a great one. When Sully gives his final summation, crediting the flight crew, the first-responders and the passengers for helping them all get out of the Hudson alive, perhaps the director could have added quick cutaways of all those characters to punch those words home. Or that single cutaway we know so well — all those people on the wings of that plane, barely and miraculously above water.
Still, during the final dip to black I was reminded of an Esquire Magazine essay published over 15 years ago about a bartender dispensing life wisdom. What has stayed with me all this time is a single line: “success is a point on a graph, where faith and purpose meet.” I believe it, and this movie’s real-life events reinforced that belief. Right pilot, right time. Ask the other 154 souls who landed on the river with him. No doubt Hanks and Eastwood were both inspired by that, maybe even incredulous about the fallout, and it produced some of their best work to date.
One last personal thingy: I was at the Super Bowl days after that fateful water landing, and Captain Sullenberger and his crew were ushered onto the field to be celebrated. The crowd absolutely lost it. You just know heroes when you see them. The real-life Sully looked somewhat sheepish as he waved to the crowd. You know the type – the one who insists he was just doing his job, and really means it.
It’s refreshing to see a pol stumble other than in the polls
*The judges will also accept “Hillary Street Blues” and “Pnue-mania!” and “Barely Walking Pneumonia.”
Did the Hillary Clinton stumble as she left the 9/11 memorial service yesterday not remind you of a scene out of Weekend at Bernie’s? Weren’t you looking around for Andrew McCarthy and Jonathan Silverman?
From behind, it looked a little bit like this….
Is it pneumonia or is HRC hiding a more grave health issue? At the moment, the answer to that probably depends on whether or not you think you look good in a “Make America Great Again” hat.
Hillary Clinton is 68 years old. Donald Trump is 70. Bernie Sanders is 75. Michael Bloomberg is 75. Saint Reagan was 69 when he was elected an his age was a major issue. John McCain was 72 when he ran and that was an even bigger issue at the time.
In case you were wondering, average U.S. life expectancy is 78.4 years old.
2. Miss America Great Again!
Shields did not have the highest leap of an Arkansas student this weekend; Sandi Morris did.
Well, at least one female from Arkansas will hold the highest office in the land in 2017: Savvy Shields of Fayetteville was crowned Miss America in Atlantic City last night. Miss America is the pageant that Donald Trump does not own. Savvy Shields are also the top-selling brand of feminine hygiene protection in the Deep South. Or soon will be.
I did the leg work for you: four contestants listed their talent as tap dance, and three as baton twirling. Two were prepared to do “monologue,” which is sort of verbal tap dancing in a pageant, no?
Meanwhile, in Brussels, Sandi Morris, an Arkansas alum, became the first American woman (and only the second ever) to clear 5.0 meters outdoor in the pole vault. Morris won silver in Rio last month.
3. Indians Defeat Cowboys!
Agony (foreground) and ecstasy. This is why we love college football
On an otherwise forgettable Saturday—sandwiched between two outstanding ones—in college football, the Chippewas of Central Michigan shocked the Cowboys of Oklahoma State on a Hail Mary-and-Lateral in Stillwater (after the Pokes mistakenly thought they could Colt McCoy the last play by tossing a high arcing pass out of bounds; anger and Big 12 two-game suspensions followed for the replay booth).
On the game’s final play, Chippewa QB Cooper Rush lofted a Hail Mary from just beyond midfield that receiver Jesse Kroll caught just inside the 10. As Kroll was falling, he lateraled it back to wideout Corey Willis, who then rand at least 35 yards across the field to beat a Cowboy defender to the goal line (and barely).
The play should have never happened because of an arcane exception to a rule, the rule that the referees enforced. I can see why the referees made the error easier than I can see why the exception to the rule exists in the first place. If you want to dive deeper, go here.
Ballage was in a zone all night. An end zone.
Meanwhile in Tempe, Pac-12 After Sark Dark began with a bang as Arizona State pillaged Texas Tech, 68-55. Junior Sun Devil running back Kalen Ballage, a 6’3″, 230-pound load, ran for SEVEN touchdowns and caught an EIGHTH. That tied an NCAA record. Kliff Kingsbury’s “But How Far Will My GQ Looks Get Me?” Tour continues.
The Medium Happy Week 2 Fascin-Eight is as follows: 1) Alabama 2) Florida State 3) Houston 4) Ohio State 5) Louisville 6) Michigan 7) Clemson 8) Wisconsin.
4. Bill Belichick: The MacGyver of the NFL
Garoppolo, now 1-0 as an NFL starter. Brady can’ play forever, can he?
You’re Bill Belichick and the two best players on your team, the two best to ever play their respective positions, quarterback Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski, are out for a prime-time season opener at one of the trendiest teams in the NFL, the Arizona Cardinals. Oh, and it’s like a 2,500-mile plane trip. And your three best receivers for your untested QB, Jimmy Garoppolo, are white dudes, while a fourth is a dude named White.
No problem. New England overcomes the 7 to 9 point spread and the Cardinals, 23-21, as Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Chris Hogan and James White combined for 18 catches and the Cards missed a game-winning field goal due to a low snap as time expired. Watch the Pats be 4-0 when Tom Brady returns next month.
Meanwhile, with his last two visits to University of Phoenix Stadium, Belichick has somewhat exorcised the demons of that 2008 Super Bowl loss there.
5. “Sully, Isn’t That…..?”
White planes, New York
Sully, isn’t that the Tom Hanks film in which the plane he is riding in ditches into the water but he survives? No, that’s Cast Away.
Sully, isn’t that the Tom Hanks film in which he plays a white-haired, kind-hearted captain whose passengers learn mid-trip that he’s not taking them where they thought he was taking them? No, that’s Polar Express.
May Day on a January Day
Sully, isn’t that the Tom Hanks film where he is piloting an aircraft that suffers a catastrophic malfunction, causing him to scrap the mission, but everyone survives? No, that’s Apollo 13.
Sully, isn’t that the Tom Hanks film where he plays a middle-aged California dude who’s transitioning to a new job and once served in the military? No, that’s Larry Crowne.
Sully, isn’t that the Tom Hanks film in which his decisions are second-guessed by an actor of Irish-American heritage? No, that’s Saving Private Ryan.
Sully, isn’t that the Tom Hanks film in which we see him in a New York airport? No, that’s The Terminal.
Sully, isn’t that the Laura Linney film where she is wasted by doing scenes of phone conversations with a family member? No, that’s Love, Actually.
Sully, isn’t that the Aaron Eckhart film where he is seen working in New York City and sorta has a crush on his boss? No, that’s No Reservations.
Note: Medium Happy’s outstanding film critic, Chris Corbellini, will have a film review of this movie later today.
Harden My Heart
At some point in the early Eighties a record executive must have wondered aloud, “If only Pat Benatar knew how to play the saxophone?” The result was lead singer/blower Rindy Ross and the Portland, Ore., based band Quarterflash. This song hit No. 3 on the Billboard charts in autumn of 1981 and the follow-up, “Find Another Fool” also made it into the Top 20.
Running Wild with Bear Grylls
NBC 9 p.m.
You watch the NFL; I’ll watch former laconic NFL star Marshawn Lynch pair up with the host as they tackle the island of Corsica. What goes together better than “Running Wild” and BeastMode?