Of Spiders and Midwestern Dinners

By Katie

Well!

I for one, like the redecorating around here—so austere, so tasteful. Kind of McSweeney’s-esque but without all the dumb content.

Just kidding! Seriously McSweeney’s, just kidding.

I admit, when I first saw it I was like “HACKED! HACKED AGAIN! HAAAAAAACKED” and then I ran outside, dropped to my knees and raised my arms up to the heavens as the tears came down. Why….whyyyyy…

But then I read that thing that Jacob wrote and I was fine. Good job Jacob, I love the new look!

I’m just starting Twin Peaks on Netflix as I write this; I’ve never seen it and I’ve been told it’s right in my wheelhouse, so I’m excited but also kind of distracted. Which pretty much describes every moment that I am awake.

So the deal was, when I was a kid, we had to eat a real meal before the bacchanal of trick-or-treating started. My mother was, and is, a phenomenal creator of meals worth all the ceremony of hand-washing and grace-saying and table setting, but on Halloween, c’mon– we were champing at the bit to get out in the field, so she cut us a break and fed us something easy and quick like weenie beanies or spaghettio hotdish.

It’s better for you than candy! It is.

 

A break for her, too—are you kidding me? Now that I am a person in charge of feeding other people, I cannot believe the meals she made for us on a nightly basis.

Case in point—tonight I made her sweet and sour chicken. It takes a while, kids, and it dirties up every surface and every pan in the kitchen and makes the whole house stink for days. I can only imagine what it does to my insides.

I’ve tried tamping down the “terrible for you” quotient; I’ve tried not breading it, I’ve tried baking it instead of frying it, and it’s just not the same.

Tonight we threw caution and years of our lives to the wind and rocked it old-school. I’m headachy now and very soon an Ebola-type (you didn’t think I would get through this entire post without mentioning Ebola, did you?) situation will occur in my bathroom, but it was worth every bite.

Earlier though, as I was standing at the stove, frying breaded chicken and reflecting on my life, I couldn’t help but think of my mom, making this absurdly complicated, messy meal for eleven people–at least ten of which were guaranteed to want seconds. Lots of times mom would barely eat once we sat down at the table.

“I’m sick of looking at it,” she’d say when questioned. I’m pretty sure she meant the food, not the brood. Best not to dig too deeply. 

Back to Halloween.

The hours after school and between dinner were a whirlwind of pumpkin carving and costume procuring–kids running from house to house, scrounging through each family’s belongings to try and find something, anything, that could pass for a costume. The lower the sun got, the more frantic we became. Loooottt of ghosts back then, friends, ghosts and hobos.

If you were really lucky you had an older brother who worked construction or played football or something, or a journalist dad who traveled a lot and had a strange collection of accessories—good luck sneaking them out of his office, though. (Did I ever tell you the story about how on “wacky hat day” at school, my eight-year-old self snuck what I thought was a real cute beret with a cute little star on it, only to have the war-veteran gym teacher explain to me in a shaky voice that it was official issue Viet Kong? No? I thought for sure I had.)

For some weird reason, one year we had three store-bought costumes. I have no idea where they came from—someone must’ve given them to my mom, and we found them crammed in the bottom drawer of the dresser on the back porch.

There was a Frankenstein, a Dracula –both primo, grade A, top-tier monsters– and a vague, female spook; a white mask with a flame of red hair and a white gown with a scary jack-o-lantern on it.

Billy and Andy immediately grabbed Frankenstein and Dracula, leaving me with the lame, nobody-knows-what-this-is-supposed-to-be costume.

My sister Margy told me it was something called Pumkin Lady, and she rolled around on the ground, tripping people and breaking their necks.

Huh. I still wore it, it was store-bought, after all—but I knew it was b.s.

Starting Five

1. Paris And The Giant Butt Plug

Nope, not the much anticipated sequel to James and the Giant Peach—oh that it were.

It’s a sculpture, entitled “Tree”, by American artist Paul McCarthy. It was erected, loud and proud, in the Place Vendome in Paris last week.

It’s a tree. Where you deposit it is entirely up to you. Alternately, “Timberrrrrr!”

 

Apparently those who know contemporary art know McCarthy does things like this—makes big, silly, obvious sculptures and pretends they’re something else, so one has to wonder why anyone is surprised when his artwork causes a ruckus.

Perhaps that’s the point? Maybe he’s just seeing if he can continue getting artsy types to fund his work no matter how ridonk it is.

It’s gone now—vandals deflated it in the night—and when it was first revealed, apparently someone in the crowd slapped the artist and ran off. That sounds so French, doesn’t it?

hahw dah yeww! I can hardly eet mah baguette!

 

French Philistine: “Zees ees not a tree, it ees ze buttplug! I know becazz mah waahfe hahzz a large colleczion of zem! I slap you in zee name of France!”

Paul McCarthy, rubbing the reddish spot on his gently molested cheek: “My plan worked. Again.”

McCarthy is reportedly hard at work on his next piece, a three-story inflatable sausage tentatively titled, “Not a Dildo”.

2. Oscar De La Renta Gets On the List Twice

John already covered this yesterday, but I’m doing it again. Why? Here’s why:

I’ll put that up against “Tree” any day of the week.

 

I love  beautiful art, whether it’s a painting, a comic book, a butt plug or a ballgown, and Mr. De La Renta was one of the very best. I cannot and probably never will be able to afford couture, but I am a great appreciator of it.

And when I was a kid, I used to check fashion magazines out of the library and draw the dresses. I usually tried to slip a few issues of After Dark (not for the articles, either!) into my pile as well, but I always got caught. A story for another day.

Are you sure your mom said this was OK?

3. Killer Bananas

The last thing you’d expect to find lurking in your bananas is a creature whose Greek scientific name means “murderess.”

But that’s exactly what one London family found after a grocery delivery from the Waitrose supermarket chain, the Daily Mail reports. The family patriarch (known only as “Tim”) was unloading the groceries when he spied the venomous Brazilian wandering spider—the world’s most dangerous arachnid, LiveScience reports—and panicked, dropping the bananas into a bowl and trapping the spider by one of its legs.

My favorite part of this story is “known only as Tim”. Why so cagey, Tim?

Is it because you don’t want that spider’s family to find you? Well it will, Tim. You can count on that.

You’re on my list, “Tim”.

 

4. It Doesn’t Make Sense

Toys ‘R Us is selling Breaking Bad action figures, and a Florida mom is petitioning to have them removed from store shelves. I have to agree with her; why are there action figures for a show that never had any actual action? Oh, snap.

Guaranteed 50% more entertaining than the show!

5. Questionable Study of the Week

According to a Hungarian study, those born in the summer tend to be moody bastards and those born the winter tend to be lovable and easy going. To support this claim, the article I read about it included this picture, with this caption:

bale.jpg

Christian Bale was born in winter time and therefore tends to be even-keeled.

Wait, what??

Those Hungarians. Always misreading the signals.

Finally, I am very excited to tell you that I am going to see the fantastically fabulous Tig Notaro tonight! Full review next week.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

Starting Five

The death toll is at 39

1. Death in the Himalayas

Your next Outside magazine cover story –has Jon Krakauer already been deployed?– will come directly from the popular Annapurna Circuit in Nepal, where recent snowfall, flash floods and avalanches have claimed the lives of 39 hikers. None of the casualties thus far are Americans, which may be why you have not heard all that much about it.

October is by far the most heavily trafficked month on the popular circuit of high-altitude trails, when about 30% of the year’s total of 90,000 or so trekkers cross the 17,769-foot Thorong La Pass. The Circuit ranges from 100 to 145 miles in length and is far more accessible to the average REI shopper than, say, an Everest trek. More than 300 hikers needed to be rescued in the last week and the death toll may climb.

2. Welcome Back, Neo

Shane Falco. Johnny Utah. Neo. Bill (or was it Ted? It was Ted). It’s been a quarter century since Keanu Reeves entered our lives (what ever became of Alex Winter, a.k.a, Bill, by the way?) as a high school slacker and he’s had every bit as successful a career, minus the Oscar love, of that other ’80s high school slacker, Sean Penn.

Reeves is back in John Wick, a vigilante flick set in New York City, and it’s been receiving uncommonly stellar reviews. Rotten Tomatoes has given it a 100%, which makes me think that the easy grader has been put in charge of the site this week. Wick’s thirst for revenge is whetted after a Russian hit man kills his dog (and man, I can get behind that. You come after my kitty cat, I’m going ISIS on your ass…or some other part of you).

Keanu turned 50 last month, by the way. Is this the part where I tell you he’s older than Wilfred Brimley was when they made Cocoon (and maybe the point is that Mr. Brimley just didn’t take very good care of himself?). Personally, I’ve always wondered about the people who write the screenplays for Keanu Reeves films. Here’s how I imagine their conversations with directors go:

Writer: In this scene, I gave Keanu a three-sentence monologue.

Director: Too many words.

Writer: One sentence?

Director: Too many words.

Writer: How about if he says–

Director: Too many words.

3. Bulls on Parade

Our friends at Professional Bull Riders (PBR) Inc. staged a first-ever event on the sand at Huntington Beach this weekend. Bushwacker attended only as an ambassador, though, and I imagine he was somewhat put off by the proximity of the event to the Black Bull Chop House.

Matt Triplett, a 23 year-old from Columbia Falls, Mont., was your winner. Is it good to be a bull rider from a town with “Falls” in its name? You wouldn’t think so. Now it’s on to the World Finals in Las Vegas this week, where Bushwacker will make his last ride. The bucks stop here (I’ve used this line before, but hey, I like it).

4. Who Are You Mourning?

His funeral should have a runway, not an aisle

Boxing Fashion lost an icon yesterday as legendary middleweight designer Oscar de la Hoya Renta died. He was 41 82.

5. You Win, Morgan Spurlock

Should that arrow be pointing down?

Ten years after the release of Super Size Me, an entertaining documentary in which our director/star ingests nothing but McDonald’s food for an entire month, McD’s announces quarterly earnings in which its profits plummet 30%. Downsize Me?

Reserves

You knew it would be only a matter of time before dejected Notre Dame fans started going Zapruder film on that fourth-and-3 play. My two favorite versions are this (notice how he uses “freakin'” and “friggin'”, instead of the true vulgarity; that’s such a Domer move) one and this frame-by-frame “smoking gun” clip.

My two cents: if Notre Dame decides to run this play again, in a game-deciding moment, here’s what I’d have Will Fuller and C.J. Prosise do (taking cue from a previous ACC game this season). By the way, watch that video and notice how the announcers don’t seem to notice what makes the play unique.

Remote Patrol

World Series: Game 1

Giants at Royals

FOX 8 p.m.

Will we tune in for the anomaly of seeing Kansas City in the World Series? Or is FOX going to get killed in the ratings? Interesting trivia to share with your pals: Ned Yost, born and raised in Eureka, Calif., is a former taxidermist. Bruce Bochy, born in France, was a high school teammate of SNL alum Darrell Hammond. Go ahead and run with that, Erin Andrews.

IL EST TOUT SE PASSE!

STARTING FIVE

1. “No Pick! No Pick!”

Will have more to opine on this later –oh, we bet you will–but a few thoughts:

1. Wrong of me to chastise anyone for whining about such a controversial and cataclysmic ref”s flag so soon after the incident. That is on me.

2. If you could possibly look at this play again for the first time –which, of course, is impossible–you’d see two Irish receivers appearing to create massive obstruction to Florida State’s defensive backs. If you go back and look at it a second or 85th time, if you go full-bore Zapruder film on the play, then yeah, you see one DB literally holding C.J. Prosise at the line and you also notice that the Seminole secondary was utterly dazed and confused and would have never prevented the TD, anyway. But on first viewing…which again, you can no longer ever do, I’m not sure if you see all that.

And, yes, you can point out the missing helmet on the FSU player right after or the fact that the ref who flagged the OPI is the same human who ejected Stephon Tuitt last season –you’re not incorrect– but all of it adds up to, “So what?” The Irish had first and goal from the 9 with about :40 to play and were unable to take care of business. Shades of the 2009 USC loss. Score earlier and all of the controversy vanishes. On the road, versus the defending national champion, leave no doubt.

This much I feel confident about: Had Florida State scored the game-winner on that exact same play, with no flag, the message boards at NDNation.com would be lighting up with complaints about the non-call.

3. This was possibly the best game Notre Dame has played since the 1993 tilt with these same Seminoles. Why? Because unlike the Bush Push Classic of 2005, Notre Dame took on a Top 3 team and manhandled it on the line of scrimmage while also matching it athlete for athlete. It took the very best effort of the reigning Heisman Trophy winner to take down the Irish on Saturday night.

4. Heading into that fateful play, the Irish had already preserved their unbeaten season with not one but two unlikely 4th-and-long conversions: 4th-and-11 versus Stanford and 4th-and-18 moments earlier. You can only put yourselves in those positions so many times. As Brian Kelly said, “You have to knock out the champion.” Correct. You have to leave no doubt.

Winston may be the game’s most notorious player, but after that 15-16 second half, he also deserves to be right back atop the Heisman race.

5. Everything the Irish still hope to achieve, short of an undefeated season, remains within their grasp. Win out and it’ll be difficult to make a case against them being the most deserving one-loss team remaining. Only Georgia or Alabama, in my opinion, would have as solid an argument.

6. SEC Knockout Games that will help the Irish: Auburn-Georgia, Mississippi State-Alabama, Mississippi State-Ole Miss, Auburn-Alabama. You know at least one SEC team is in the playoff. Any one-loss SEC team will also have a valid argument. If you are a fan of Notre Dame or Oregon or the Ohio State-Michigan State winner, you want Mississippi State to win out.

7. Notre Dame is great television. Opposing fans may hate to admit it, but like the Seventies Dallas Cowboys, the Irish don’t know how to play drama-free games any more. The Selection Committee may not consciously consider that, but there’s no one involved with the Playoff who loves money who won’t want Notre Dame if the Irish finish 11-1.

8. So, I was kinda wrong about Texas A&M. The Medium Happy 8, as it stands: Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Florida State, Alabama, Notre Dame, Oregon, Auburn, TCU.

9. October 18 now stands for: The Galloping Ghost’s five-touchdown day versus Michigan (1924), “Outlined against a blue-gray October sky (1924), Keith Jackson’s birthday (1928), and The Pick (2014).

Schmidt had 9 tackles and an INT in biggest game of his life. Is Irish’s leading tackler. Perhaps ND should retroactively pay his first two years of school.

10. Corey Robinson became a star on Saturday night. If you are a Notre Dame fan, you’re proud to have your school represented by players such as Robinson, Joe Schmidt (did you know that he is a former walk-on?), Jaylon Smith, Max Redfield, Everett Golson, Sheldon Day, Cam McDaniel (another helmet-losing play in a prime-time nationally televised game…Nice!), etc.

The Irish lost the game Saturday night in Tallahassee, but there’s no telling how many future recruiting battles they won.

11. Brian Kelly said everything right both on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. If you are a Notre Dame fan or alum, you want him to be crabby and a little bit defiant. Reggie Bush won Twitter on Saturday night by tweeting, “Wow, not sure about that call” and “Hate to see a game decided by that.” Yes, Irish fans, a ref buried his flag when he should’ve tossed one nine years and three days earlier, which cost you a victory against a defending national champ with a long win streak and now you were burned in exactly the opposite way (shades of the 1989 versus 1993 rationale for the Irish not finishing No. 1). Yes, you’re right. But that won’t change anything. Gotsta move on.

12. I love that Jimbo Fisher gave Jameis the “humble pie” talk and that not 30 minutes later Jameis said that he was thinking, when the Irish apparently scored the go-ahead TD with :17 left, that “they left too much time on the clock.” Never change, Jameis. At least not on the football field. This is who you are in shoulder pads and a helmet, and look how far it has gotten you.

Okay, this is all I have right now. I am in Quebec and will have more later if possible. Merci beaucoup to Jacob Anstey for rolling up his sleeves this weekend and making the site look like someone actually cares about its aesthetic appeal. Great job, JA.

Medium Happy Reconstruction

Hello, all! Jacob here. The Imperial Poobah (a.k.a. John) is off crowdfunding this weekend (does that mean a raise? Yeaaah!), meaning I will be playing around with the layout of Medium Happy. If you are like me, I miss the old, subtle theme that was associated with this site. It was so perfect. Well, since the hackers did their hacking, we have all been forced to deal with the new theme. Not so cool.

OK — now the point of this post: Medium Happy is not being hacked this weekend. If you see a different layout at different hours of the day, that’s just me reconstructing the site. If you have any suggestions or ideas, comments are always welcome.

Have a great weekend, loyal MH readers! And a happy (belated) birthday to Phyllis!

 

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

1. Polo Grounds Crew

Travis Ishawaka (Travis?) hits a walk-off home run to propel the San Francisco Giants into the World Series with a series-clinching win against the St. Louis Cardinals. Of course: since 2010 the National League representatives in the Fall Classic have been San Francisco, St. Louis, San Francisco, St. Louis and now San Francisco next year. You’re due in a year, Redbirds.

By the way, in three of those five seasons the Giants or Cards entered the postseason with the fourth-best record among Senior Circuit teams. Remember in late September, it was the Giants who were the last team to qualify for the playoffs in the N.L. while the Kansas City Royals trailed by four runs entering the 8th inning of the wild card game.

Exactly how much do those 162 games mean? The Giants and Royals are a combined 16-2 in the postseason.

And yes, Ishakawa’s pennant-clinching home run brought back memories (at least memories of seeing the footage) of Bobby Thomson’s 1951 blast in the Polo Grounds (even though the Giants were reportedly stealing signs, though, so what? Come up with better signs!). Two of my uncles were at that game (one was a great uncle; the other was a Great uncle).

It’s true: Thomson’s blast launched the American Revolution. (Check out how that left field wall fades out toward center)

Ah, yes, the Polo Grounds. Which 90 years ago tomorrow hosted the Notre Dame-Army game that provided us with Grantland Rice’s lede, which today most editors would’ve cut because it did not provide the final score.

2. Minstrel Cycle

So, the past couple of years, Arizona State has scheduled “blackout games” (unlike Roger Goodell’s) in which the Sun Devils wear black and the school’s students have been encouraged to dress like Vidal Sassoon hair stylists. And, of course, because it’s ASU, some students have taken it too far and worn black face to the games. This has been taking place since at least 2011, as you can see above.

So, in a move designed to curb the behavior but also unintentionally bringing unwanted recognition to the school (can’t we just click our heels and repeat “Pat Tillman” three times and it’ll all go away), ASU has publicly warned fans to not wear black face paint to football games (the Sun Devils had a “blackout game” versus UCLA on Thursday night, Sept. 25, which then morphed into a “blowout game” when the Bruins put a 62-27 hurtin’ on them).

“Did you hear me!?! Take that face paint–ohhh….never mind.”

Because, you know, Arizona wouldn’t want to suddenly garner a reputation as a less than racially enlightened state. These fans in face paint could give the state a black eye unwanted negative publicity.

3. A Panoply of Penelope

Cruz, from Spain, turned 40 this year, so this will be her sexy decade.

So Esquire named Penelope Cruz as its “Sexiest Woman Alive” and I’ll admit that the above photo is a compelling argument. Meanwhile, let’s not forget the world’s other noteworthy Penelopes:

Penelope Pitstop: Baby, you can drive my car.

Penelope Pitstop, who had a thing for fast cars and cartoonish love interests…

“I was named ‘Sexiest Woman Alive or Dead’ so…”

Penelope from SNL, the queen of one-upmanship

I must confess: Half the reason I did this was because I know Greg Auman will spend the next five minutes attempting to think of other Penelopes.

4. Signature Win

Bart feels Jameis’ pain

It’s up to 2,000 signed items attributed to Jameis Winston, many of them authenticated one right after the other –meaning they were most likely turned in by one person –and yet Jimbo Fisher and Florida State don’t want to know a thing about a potential NCAA violation until after the 2014 season.

Yesterday Christine Brennan of USA Today referred to the school as “Jameis State”, and she’s correct. As I told Jack Arute and Gino Torretta on Tuesday –I may have run into them at the men’s room at Chipotle– what we have here is a 30-pound tail wagging a one-pound dog.”

As a college football fan and as a Notre Dame alum, I want Jameis to play. I want the Irish to win or lose taking FSU’s best shot, and I want FSU to live down to the standards we all know it has set for itself: as a school and a community that puts winning above integrity. Don’t go changin’ on us now….

5. Do The Right Thing, 2014

Please stand clear of the closing doors…and try not to kill one another

A crowded subway car in Manhattan, after 10 p.m.

In a corner seat that would normally seat two people, an amply-sized man is taking up the entire seat and speaking very loudly to no one in particular. No one seems to be paying much attention.

The train stops. A woman boards, announces she is homeless, hungry, yada yada yada…

The large man speaks up: “When you’re done, why don’t you share half with me? And why don’t you hit up these white people down here? Ohhhh, no, they don’t have any money. Bernie Madoff! Bernie Madoff! He made off with $62 million. Their lives are ruined.”

One of the white people stares up at an ad near the top of the car.

“See, they won’t say anything! Oh, no. White people would rather die than be seen as rude.”

At this point, a young, fit man who is neither black nor Caucasian approaches the portly man. The young man is wearing black leather boots that run all the way up to his knees.

“Sir, why don’t you be quiet? You’re being rude. People are just trying to go home.”

“OHHH! I’m being rude? I’M being rude! Listen, you white people don’t have no cause to–”

“Sir, I’m not white.”

“What’s that?”

“I’m not white. I’m American Indian.”

“Are you black?”

“No.”

“Then you’re white!”

At this point, our young Native American turns to the white man who is seated. “Sir, I’m sorry, most New Yorkers are not like this.”

I’ve lived here for 25 years!!!!!!!

At this point the black man points to the white man and says, “Look at him! That’s not even his own hair!”

And that was by far the most offensive thing directed at me.

At this point I felt it necessary to tell him that 1) Indeed, it is my hair (I may have invited him to muss it up, which wasn’t wise) and that 2) so far he was the only one on the train who had said anything racist.

“My people have a right to kill you,” he said.

At which point another black man in this corner of the subway car loudly declared, “How about them Cowboys?”

Aaaaaaaaaand, scene.

 Remote Patrol

Notre Dame at Florida State

ABC 8 p.m.

FSU’s Rashad Greene is an easy dude to like, and not just because he learned how to catch passes by watching Ethan Hawke in ‘Boyhood’

Alas, your loyal correspondent may not even be able to watch the game. He’ll be in a place that may not even have American network television (not sure yet). So please watch for me and if you don’t see any snarky tweets, you’ll know why. Enjoy.

 

 

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

Starting Five

Like Sophia, Phyllis traces her roots to southern Italy

1. Phyllis!

“Mom, will you hear my Latin?”

In high school, as you may know, the key to academic success is memorization (or sitting behind the smart kid). I did well in high school because I learned how to distill most subjects into memorization, and I knew that I hadn’t truly memorized something until I could recite it blindly in front of my mom.

So on most weekday afternoons between 1980-1984, my mom would arrive home from work as the best damn legal secretary in the state of Arizona and some time before or after she prepared dinner for a family of five, she would “hear” my Latin homework (we both enjoyed the Latin declension for “thousand,” which has a mellifluous ring: “mille, mille, mille, mille, mille/milia, milium, milibus, milia, milibus”) or my Western Civ or my Biology. Anything in which memorization was called for.

One Sunday, in October of my freshman year at this extremely difficult Jesuit high school where I knew no one and where I was sure I was in way over my head, I  had to construct a map that took in many elements of the Old Testament: the path of the Exodus, the Fertile Crescent, the 12 Tribes of Israel, etc. I’m not very artistic (I’m not at all artistic) and this seemed doomed to failure because 1) I can’t draw and 2) it seemed that a lot of the tangible elements would overlap one another and just look messy.

Dear God: Why could you not have made the Holy Land bigger?

(I almost forgot: This was a Sunday in October and I am sure I was missing Tom Landry and the Dallas Cowboys, which was killing me. We spent all dang day on this map, Phyllis and I.)

The map was for my 8 a.m. freshman “Salvation History” class, taught by Fr. James LaCasse, S.J., who would turn out to be the toughest (i.e., best) teacher I ever had. Fr. LaCasse, a Jesuit priest, was so tough that he was on the ski patrol at Sunrise Ski Resort in the White Mountains of eastern Arizona, but he only skied in cargo shorts. Anyway, it was my mom , who never attended college, who had the genius idea to laminate the map with clear plastic sheets so that it would have layers.  And so that’s what we did.

That Monday both of Fr. LaCasse’s classes turned in their maps, nearly 60 students.  And my map was the only layered map. Two weeks later, when he finished grading all of our maps, my map –our map-- was the only one that earned an “A.” The next semester, when we did New Testament maps, everyone poached Phyllis’ patented laminate idea.

I know what you’re thinking: Katie’s childhood stories are funnier.

Anyway, that, um, map quest was the first sign I had that I may not grow up to be a complete failure (says a guy with a blog. Ha!). And I mention it because today is a very special day around the Medium Happy offices because it is Phyllis’ birthday. And she’s just the best person I know.

It was way more intricate than this. That map had the potential to be a mess o’ potamia! HEY-O!

My dad, who passed away two years ago, used to call my mom “Sophia” because of her resemblance to fellow southern Italian ancestry beauty Sophia Loren. Now, I’m not ready to go that far. I’m not ready to say that Sophia Loren is THAT beautiful. But she’s pretty striking.

And I know that every morning Phyllis/Sophia wakes up around 5 a.m. and waits to read this blog. There’s no greater reason I do it (Katie’s just in it for the money, on the other hand). So today, Item 1 is a humongous…

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

to Phyllis/Sophia. And I’m not sure where that map is, Mom, but wherever it is, I’m sure you’ll get around to cleaning it at some point this week.

 So, yes, the moral of this story is that I’m a complete fraud and that Phyllis is the brains behind the operation. Which everyone in my family already knew.

2. More of This Guy

Great anecdote from the book Live from New York, by Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller. It’s just after season one of Saturday Night Live, the summer of ’76, and the show’s bandleader, Paul Shaffer, is given a shot at hosting a summer variety show. Variety shows are things that used to air on TV back when TV executives thought it was incumbent upon people who appeared in the boob tube to be talented.

Anyway, the pilot airs and it bombs. A few of Shaffer’s friends, SNL cast members, are watching the show at someone’s beach house. Chevy Chase places a call to Shaffer. “Paul, I just wanted you to know we all still love you and respect you,” Chase says.

Then Chase acts as if he’s been interrupted. “What’s that?” he says, loud enough for Shaffer to hear him. “Oh. Paul, we all still love you.”

I’m reminded of that story as I read or see so many of us cheering for John Mulaney right now. To this point, and it’s only two episodes in, mind you, his eponymous sitcom does not measure up to his talents. My two cents: he’s not being himself. Not yet. He’s being too innocent and self-conscious.

So here’s a terrific segment called “Ask a Grown Man” that Mulaney did earlier this week for a site called Rookie in which he basically just answered questions of confused teens. And it’s far more intriguing than the sitcom because this is the real John Mulaney (minus all the funny). I can’t wait until this guy shows up on TV, and I have a feeling that he eventually will.

We love Mulaney. We only want copious meats and cheeses and the best fruits of the vine for him.

3. Me-OW!

Not a fan of BS

This tweet from the Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy last night. Guess which Boston-bred columnist earns more per annum.

4. Two QBs

It’s not too late, Norby.

It was a terrific chart someone posted yesterday. The two winningest active quarterbacks in college football are Jameis Winston of Florida State (19-0, 1.000) and Everett Golson of Notre Dame (16-1, .941), and we add the caveat that yes, there’s a lot more to do with winning than quarterback play and that certainly Winston has played a greater role in his team’s wins, especially in his first season as a starter, than Golson has.

Still, it’s a great stat for this week.

Jameis should surely get a cut of the proceeds here…

Earlier today Kirk Herbstreit appeared on SportsCenter and declared that Winston and Golson are “the two best starting quarterbacks in the entire country.” And while I normally agree with everything Herbie says, here I must invoke the good name of Col. Sherman T. Potter and declare, “Poppycock!”

I mean, they’re both terrific, but Oregon’s Marcus Mariota has thrown 17 TDs without an interception while Golson has committed nine turnovers and a pair of pick-sixes in the past three games.

When Tony Rice used to fumble, Lou Holtz made him carry a football to classes. Don’t know if BK is doing that with Everett Golson this week.

Some great disparities between Jameis and Everett: One, talent-wise, is a Top 10 NFL pick though I’m not sure where he’ll be taken next June. The other, I don’t even know if he’ll go pro after this season (Malik Zaire’s shoulders just slumped). Also, Everett sacrificed a semester of school and an entire season, 13 games, because he cheated on a final exam. Which is justice.

Winston has sat out a total of one game the past two seasons, and even that was originally just for a half, and even that game he suited up for. You know the litany of charges, I won’t repeat them here. Golson and Notre Dame players are not perfect (“Frozen Five”). The difference between the two schools is that one polices itself, almost to a fault (vacating wins?) while another has dudes like Jameis and Jesus “BoBo” Wilson (“BoBo” is short for “Bodaciously Borrowed”) and a coach who says, “There was no victim so there is no crime.”

5. Kiffin’s Krimson Korner

So, someone at Tosh.O pays attention to college football –and perhaps someone noticed the uncanny resemblance between Lane Kiffin and Daniel Tosh. I do wonder how long those Layla Kiffin auditions lasted.

Our man in eastern Tennessee, Wes Rucker, posited that Tosh could probably run for governor of Tennessee and win this week. Just noticed that’s like the second reference to the Vols this week on this blog. I don’t even know you any more, Medium Happy.

Remote Patrol

 Game 5, NLCS

Cardinals at Giants

20-game winner Adam Wainwright takes hill for STL. 20-game winners or their leagues’ highest Win total guys this postseason are a combined 1-5.

Every 29 years the Kansas City Royals get into the World Series, but is it also written that they have to face St. Louis? Just to change things up, I’m kind of rooting for a San Fran win tonight so we’ll get an SF-KC World Series. I imagine baseball writers who enjoy collecting frequent flier miles are, too. By the way, I’m enjoying Jeff Passan’s baseball columns the past month. Terrific work. (that was my obligatory Richard Deitsch-like note of today’s blog. With love, RD)

 

 

 

 

IT’S HAPPENING, AND A LITTLE TOO QUICKLY FOR MY TASTE

In keeping with our “October is Ebola Awareness Month” theme, I will now share with you the story of my first make-out party, which rightly and scarily coincides with our  “Halloween Stories, Every Wednesday This Month” theme.

ebola

Zeichenpress.com wants you to turn that frown upside down!

It was 1978. I was in fourth grade and had made friends with a girl in the fifth grade, which was pretty much like winning the lottery.

She was a new student to my tiny Catholic school–she came over from the public school down the street.

Public school kids terrified me.

I had to walk past their playground every day to get to mine. The taunting! My God, the taunting.

Those kids knew words I didn’t know.

OK, that’s not  true, I knew the words and used them liberally, thanks to a little something in our kitchen called the ‘Stupid/Shut-up Jar.’

My mom converted an empty peanut-butter jar into a depository in which we had to pay a quarter every time we called each other stupid or told each other to shut-up, her absolute pet-peeve. We took that thing and ran with it, scrounging everywhere we could for loose change to buy ourselves some swears.

So, fine, we were potty-mouths, but still. Those public school kids wore Toughskins, for God’s sake.

What you don’t see is who they’re chasing

I know what you’re probably thinking: “What does this have to do with Ebola or Halloween? And don’t you have like 900 older siblings? Didn’t they protect you at all? Are you ever going to write about sports??”

It has to do with Ebola in a roundabout way because it’s momentarily keeping your mind off your looming, hideous demise (but can we agree, blessedly quick? If I were the Ebola PR person, that’s the tack I’d take–It’s horrible, but quick).  The Halloween aspect will become apparent, and no, no sports. I thought I’d made myself clear about that.

As for my siblings…

In theory me, two of my brothers and their neighborhood friend/basically adopted brother were supposed to walk to school together, but more often than not I got distracted by something (the irresistible urge to hop upon the stone balustrade of the neighbor’s patio and belt out a few show-tunes comes to mind–how I longed to be a Von Trapp–as does the need to see how many hand-lengths it was across the weird gravestone-looking hitching post planted in the boulevard, every single day) and they needed to move on without me, lest they be marked tardy. I had sooooo many tardies…so very many.

My point is, my slight-to-moderate OCD tendencies made me a “difficult” walking-to-school companion, not to mention a deliciously meaty, black-watch plaid-wrapped chew toy for the junkyard dogs on that public-school playground. Thank God they were penned in by a tall chain-link fence.

No wait, that isn’t my point. Back to my fifth grade friend– she was the coolest, and she invited me to her Halloween party.

She met me at her door dressed in pigtails (the ‘high-atop the head’ kind, the kind that say “I am an anime prostitute”), short-shorts and a bib, holding a blanket and sucking a pacifier.

“I’m a little girl,” she said.

You’re confused, right? Tell me about it. 

Isn’t my costume scawwee?

I was a ghost; white sheet, white face paint, black ghoulish eyes. You know, because it was a children’s Halloween party.  We walked into her living room, lit only by glow-sticks and a mirror ball. No parents were in sight; her teenaged sister was leading the festivities. I saw shadowy figures. Are those…boys? Oh dear God, there are boys in here. 

But that, m’friends, was just the tip of the iceberg. Another girl,  dolled up as a comely Pocahontas and who I recognized as one of the snarling jackals from the playground, threw me a glow-stick and informed me I was to dance with the boy who held it’s match, behind me.

I turned to face a red-faced kid dressed in his baseball uniform with a look on his face that said very clearly that he was not interested in dancing with me. I think he might’ve even groused “I have to dance with that?” but I’m not sure, since the flood of shame and mortification rushing in my ears may have drowned it out.

“Kiss, you guys!” The nurse hollered, and with that she turned to her dance partner and they embarked on some grade-A muckling. Baseball boy turned on his heel and walked away. I turned to my friend and said I didn’t feel good.

You want me to do what, with who??

My mom came and got me about ten minutes later, and I do believe that if she is reading this right now, it is the first time she has ever heard the true story of that night.

I never did subscribe to the “sexy Halloween costume” thing,  not even later when it was slightly less disturbing. When I was about twenty, my girlfriend and I dressed as a scantily-clad Peter Pan and Yul Brynner, respectively. Guess which one I was?

It was a mash-up Yul, too–I had the bald wig/braid combo from The Ten Commandments and the silk pajamas and pointy shoes from The King and I. Surprisingly, it got me zero action.

I bet you’d like to buy me a drink.

Starting Five

1. My Favorite Halloween Candy

Kit Kats. Hands down. Anyone who disagrees with me is dead wrong. I love most of the mini-chocolate bar offerings, but Kit Kats are the perfect combination of crispy, creamy and just unsatisfying enough to ensure you eat 10,000 of them. 

Worst is by far, candy corn. Candy corn is awful. It’s even worse than the homemade peanut-butter-and-coffee-grounds granola balls wrapped in cellophane the local hippie gives out. It tastes like if ear wax and sugar had a baby.  The only thing more offensive than the way it tastes is the way it looks. Off-puttingly bright, cartoon candy.

The good news is, you won’t poop for a week!

2. Belgium’s New Minister of Health

Is Maggie De Block:

Some of us like candy corn

There’s been some blow-back at her appointment;  some folks say she’s not a good choice for the job because, um…well, it seems that…mmm…she’s not quite… credible.

She’s hit back by saying “‘I know I’m not a model but you have to see what’s inside, not the packaging,” which, in my opinion, would also make her a poor choice for minister of snappy comebacks.

Here’s the thing though, Mags, it is about the packaging, if we’re talking about health. The packaging we all carry our beautiful, flawed, fried-chicken craving  souls around in, and how we take care of it.

Now, if she’d been appointed “Minister of Beauty” or “Minister of Being a Smart Doctor”(she’s an M.D.) and people were remarking on her size, I’d say lay off.

Maybe the plan is, she does a health-kick type thing and asks the country (which has a 47% obesity rate) to join her in her efforts.  That would be cool, like “If I can do it, you can too!”

3. This Halloween-centric Ad I Found On Craigslist

Shopping Help Needed

I got a invited to a weird halloween party and need some help. The party has some rules:

1) Men have to wear women’s costumes and vice versa

2) You have to have someone of the opposite sex who isn’t attending pick out the costume. Very little input from me is allowed.

This isn’t normally my thing but I have heard the party is a ton of fun so I am looking for a woman to help pick out a costume.

It would work like this:

We’d meet at one of those costume superstores. You’d pick out some costumes for me to try on.  We’d see how they look and you’d pick one.

If you are interested in weird, fun jobs, let me know.

Tell me how to contact you and what times you might be available as well as what you would charge for 1-2 hours.

Dear Serial Killer,

Kudos to you for resisting the urge to come right out and write “If you’re interested in being murdered and found in a dirty public bathroom wearing a Winnie-the-Pooh costume, please respond.”

Good Luck with your project!

Your friend,

Katie

4. Amal Alamudin Changes Her Name

To Amal Clooney

You guys, this is so weird…I just changed my name to Amal Clooney, too. 

5. Happy 20th Anniversary, Pulp Fiction

It was twenty years ago yesterday that Pulp Fiction hit the big screen. I must be the only person on the planet who does not like this movie.

I don’t get it. I tried to sit through it again to see if I could see what everyone else sees, and I didn’t get it again.

Cool people get it, Katie

Until next week, compadres..

Katie

Stop thinking about Ebola!

Stop thinking about Ebola!

IT’S ALL HAPPENING

 

Starting Five

New York’s most eligible execrable bachelor thought I did such a great job last week, he’s letting me, @okerland, write again.  Always happy to talk on Twitter or in the Comments…

Marcus Dupree had a Gurley way about him and never even made it to the NFL

1. TODD’S ALL FOLKS*

Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy…

All we’re highly drafted RBs who played under football royalty that is Nick Saban. We all drooled at their talent and thought about the days when they would take the NFL over by storm. Scouts thought so highly of them, they were all first round picks.

Four years later and many would say that none of them have lived up to the hype and promise during their Alabama days. What’s happened? Was it Saban’s system, Alabama’s talent level compared to other teams or did Saban work these guys so hard that they don’t have any energy left? (If one was to check how many of Bama’s 1st round picks have done in NFL, you’ll see many haven’t fared that well).

But the problem isn’t just at Bama. LaMichael James, Tre Mason and a host of other stud CFB running backs can’t find their way in the NFL. These are guys who were basically untouchable in college and now the only thing they’re touching is the bench.

A friend of mine told me that brains is what separates those who make the NFL and those that don’t. Everyone at the next level has virtually the same speed and if you don’t, you work real hard (or take PEDs) and you’ll find a roster spot.

I mention all this in relation to Todd Gurley, the Georgia running back recently suspended for autographs. At least two people on Twitter (@IDtheMike & @abrandt) have suggested that maybe Gurley did this on purpose to give his body a rest and to start preparing for draft.

The shelf life of a RB is fairly short in respect to other positions. Look at Adrian Peterson, the Vikings won’t publicly admit it, but his production has gone down and if they get out of that contract they will.

If Gurley withdraws, his agent can front him money while he works out at one of the numerous combine camps across the country. He rests, gets stronger, learns about the NFL and then after 2-3 strong years in the league gets paid (No one said NFL coaches are smart)

Could this become a trend in college? We have to wait and see how it turns out for Gurley. Everyone thought HS BB players would flee to Europe to speed up their draft clock. It hasn’t turned out that great for those that did.

*The judges would have also accepted, “Gurley, Interrupted.”

2. SHOW ME…SOME POWER

Of course he’s good with wood. He’s a Carpenter.

The Royals and Cardinals were last in their respective leagues in home runs this year and both made the playoffs using pitching and timely hitting. (Ask a Cardinals fan and they’ll tell you how the Cards play the greatest brand of baseball this side of Abner Doubleday.) (Ed Note: Not to be confused with Albus Dumbledore, though why would you?)

Two games into each LCS, and it’s as if both teams visited the same vitamin shop (or is it Shoppe) that McGwire did many moons ago (btw, McGwire hit 70 HRs in 98, the Cards barely have over 100 this year). Every time I turn on a game, another Royal or Cardinal is going deep. And they aren’t those lazy fly balls to the short porch at Yankee Stadium, these are blasts. On Sunday night a pair of Cards, Matt Adams and Kolton Wong, swung and I said “That’s gone” (I also say that’s gone when watching games at a stadium because I have such high hopes for the Mess).

It’s as if Yost and Matheny had their teams work on fundamental hitting all season and then once the playoffs started said go ahead swing away. (Sort of like Miyagi in KK2 teaching Daniel that Bone Dance and how to dodge a flying crane).

On a side note, pitchers get a chance to warm up but how come catchers can’t go down to bullpen to practice blocking balls, etc? Probably would have helped Tony Cruz last night.

3. ROCKY ON TOP

I’m a Rocky Top alum, I can’t say proud one because I really don’t live and die with the teams like I do with ND, but I got a free education there so I can’t complain.

The last 5 or so years have been laughable there. Fulmer got forced out, Lane came in and lit dumpster fire after dumpster fire, a lawyer with very little coaching experience got the job and is now replaced by Butch Jones who found a loophole to bring in 500 freshmen last year (could be slight exaggeration)….Athletic Departments were combined (I could write for days on how crazy this was) … Senior employees were pushed out …. Senior employees sued for being pushed out … The Pat Summitt drama, etc.

And then this weekend it got weirder. Two months ago, Tennessee hired a new track coach from Penn State (I don’t know why JJ got fired, because as I said I don’t care that much). Coach comes in and two weeks into practice cuts 6 freshmen. Now it isn’t rare for a new coach to get rid of freshmen but that usually happens at the end of the season with a wink and a nudge, not before the season begins.

What makes this story even stranger is that one of the kids cut was recruited by the new coach at her old school. Essentially, the coach thought the runner was good enough for Penn State but not good enough for Tennessee.

Now that Deadspin has picked up the story, it will become mainstream and Bilas will jump on his soapbox (a short soapbox for he has a small vertical) and the issue will be fixed.

My problem in this and the Simmons case in Alabama is why don’t ADs step up right away and try to defuse situation? Especially at UT where the AD has been under heat for 5 years and counting now. It’s as if not one AD ever took a PR class.

4. FANTASY OR REALITY?

Fantasy Football has taken over our viewing of games on Thursday, Sunday and Monday. Crap my team’s losing, oh but Shady McCoy torched ‘em for 150 yards and 2 TDS? awesome, I’ll win my fantasy league this week.

I have no issue with Fantasy Football, I play in 4 leagues (two I care about, two I don’t), but I am baffled by the people who live and die by it. By people who tweet experts about who to start in this league or that league. That you need to be told who to add to your roster.

The guys I play fantasy football with aren’t diehard players, but they stay up to date with the league. Rarely has a week gone by where a player ESPN suggested I pick up was still available. I’d love to find a league like this.

Number two pet peeve is when ESPN will post projected stats for that week. My first year playing, I got sucked in and went with the guy projected to get the higher numbers. After 16 weeks of wanting to curse ESPN, I started going with my gut. I started winning.

i’ve always wanted to run a simulation to see if playing all of ESPN’s suggestions would help you win the league. I don’t think it would.

Last year, I drafted 4/5s of the Bears offense knowing that with Trestman’s offensive background, the Bears would score and why not get double points everytime Cutler through a TD? I made it to the Championship game. You think Matthew Berry would approve that approach?

5. THROWING STONES

CSI: Tallahassee or CSI: South Bend? Or, both.

This week ND plays Florida State in Tallahassee and much will center around Winston’s legal troubles, including the sexual assault case that the school has finally decided to hold a disciplinary hearing.

ND fans like most fans are on red alert to mock FSU for their handling of the allegations and they have a point. FSU sat around and did nothing until the media grabbed a hold of it and even over a year later, a disciplinary hearing has finally been scheduled.

My only issue with ND fans attacking FSU over this is that five years ago ND football had their own sexual assault issue. In that instance, the player never missed practice or a game and wasn’t interviewed until 15 days after the incident. Unfortunately his victim took her own life and the case was hard to pursue so no formal charges were ever brought.

Now yes there was an investigation but unlike at FSU, very few people knew the name of the player who was charged with sexual assault. You don’t think life would be a living hell for Kelly each week if he had to answer questions about said player? And yes, said player kept his nose clean for the rest of his time at ND.

FSU has plenty to mock regarding its handling of Winston, the kid has had enough strikes against him and they seem to believe his word is more important than anything else.

But as the saying goes, those in “glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

Starting Five

The Fighting Irish will not have the best player whose name begins with an “O'” on Saturday. That’s Nick O’Leary, who looks like the grandson of The Most Interesting Man in the World, as opposed to Jack Nicklaus’

1. Here It Comes

Considering that top-ranked Florida State is playing a school named in honor of the Virgin Mother (*), Seminole quarterback Jameis Winston’s table-top declaration of a few weeks’ back is even more inflammatory.

Unbeaten (6-0) and fifth-ranked (too high, IMO) Notre Dame visits Tallahassee on Saturday for the first time since 2002, when the Irish entered Doak Campbell Stadium with a 7-0 record and a No. 6 ranking. The Noles came in at No. 11 and the Irish came away with a decisive 34-24 win…before forgetting to show up the next week against Boston College.

Anyway, more people will compare this contest to the one in South Bend in 1993, when FSU was No. 1 and the Irish were No. 2. Notre Dame won that game, too, 31-24, and they also lost at home to Boston College the following week.

Which may be why the Irish wisely scheduled “Bye” for next Saturday.

I should note that of the two programs, it is Florida State and not Notre Dame that can boast the Rhodes Scholar (Myron “Honor” Rolle). I’ll also note, as I did on Twitter this a.m., that a perusal of the 2012 (most recent) grad rates of the Top 5 schools yields the following:
1. Mississippi State, 62% 2. Florida State, 56%, 3. Ole Miss, 54% 4. Baylor, 62% 5. Notre Dame, 97%.

Should that even matter when assessing college football programs? You decide.

* There are many who consider this as factual as Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

2. The Bucks Stop Here

Only once in 61 outs on the PBR circuit has Bushwacker been ridden for a qualified (8 seconds) ride.

That’s Bushwacker, the greatest bucking bull there ever was. He retires soon, in Las Vegas, at the Pro Bull Riders World Finals later this month. I wrote a story on him and the sport in general for this week’s Newsweek.

One item that failed to make the story but that I’d love to note here: In PBR they have a red button –it’s an actual red button, and it never got a dinner– near the exit area for the riders. If anyone –the rider himself or one of the other riders–believes that the four judges erred, for example, they failed to see that the rider did in fact remain aboard the bull for eight seconds, they may press that button. It’s the equivalent to the NFL’s challenge flag.

But here is where it gets interesting. Again, anyone involved with the event (not fans or media, obviously) may press that red button. And if they’re right, yes, the call gets overturned. But if they’re WRONG…they must pay a $500 fine. How awesome is that? Can we get that for the NFL and MLB?

By the way, a shout-out to the PBR P.R. peeps Hillary Herskowitz, who doggedly pursued me to pursue this story, and Jordan Johnson, who is the first P.R. person I’ve ever run across who also sang the National Anthem –and killed it– at the event. Great people, both.

3. You’re Meat

Last night’s Season 5 premiere gave us the boxcar willies.

“You’re either the cattle or you’re the butcher,” was the theme of last night’s Season 5 premiere of The Walking Dead. If, like me, you tried watching this while flipping between Mulaney, where they discussed the episiotomy (“I’ll tear her a new one”), you probably were not in the mood to be carnivorous for awhile.

A few thoughts: 1) How much better a show would TWD be if it had Game of Thrones’ budget? We’re five seasons in and production values/locations suggest the budget is slightly larger than that of Blair Witch Project. Yes, the zombies rock, but basically it’s a bunch of protagonists wandering in the woods trying to avoid danger. Imagine if they could take us other places –Are there zombie cows roaming the Great Plains, for example? 2) Lauren Cohan’s wardrobe suggests she ain’t missing many yoga classes. She keeps getting more toned, and the outfits more skimpy, with each season. 3) At a certain point, Did you not think to yourself, We all better hope cows never develop opposable thumbs, l because they are going to be rightfully pissed. The only non-vegetarian they may spare is Temple Grandin. 4) Mulaney was better this week, but his best work of the weekend was helping out (writing entirely?) the return sketch for Stephon on SNL. The “doorman who high-fives children of divorce” line was classic. 5) I’d argue the funnier former SNL writer on air last night was Conan O’Brien, who killed on Talking Dead. He compared the supervisor at Terminus to an annoying hipster Starbucks manager. 6) The best sketch on SNL last Saturday was this. Find the truth and keep it simple and you have funny.

Remember: Mulaney’s kid sis is now an SNL writer. He’s still intimately involved with the show. Okay, I’ll shut up about Mulaney now.

4. No Limits in Austin

Charlie Strong instantly booted 9 bands from this lineup for violation of unspecified team rules.

The festival, which took place the past two weekends in Texas’ state capital, is called “Austin City Limits” after the greatest show in the history of PBS. But look at all those bands. If you were unable to find a hotel room, I think I know why.

5. Cover Me

Talib, the force behind Denver’s “(Cover the) Spread Defense”

The Denver Broncos’ Aqib Talib is not only good at covering wide receivers; he’s excellent at covering favorites. Denver was a 10-point favorite at the Jets yesterday and had a 7-point lead and the ball with less than :90 to play. The Jets were out of timeouts. Somewhat curiously, Denver passed incomplete on third down from near midfield where a run would’ve meant they’d be punting the ball to Rex Ryan (in his final season as Jet coach) and his team with about :20 to play.

Instead, Denver passes incomplete. The Jets get a well-punted ball at their own 3 with about a minute to play. On first down, Geno Smith is sacked, almost for a safety (9 points), but the refs down the ball at the one-foot line. On the following play Smith tosses a pick to Talib, who falls down near the 30, but is not touched, so he gets up and returns it for a TD. Broncos 31, Jets 17.

Apparently, a certain well-known boxer is an even bigger Aqib Talib fan this morning.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

Starting Five

Clearly, there’s no interest in Gurley as a marketable commodity at the college level

1. The Daily Harrumph: Gone Gurley

It’s not about vilifying a college athlete whose value to his school, to CBS and ESPN, to Mike Slive and the SEC, and to Nike, is worth millions if not ten times that for taking a little money under the table for his autograph. Really, it isn’t.

It’s about someone who, by donning the uniform and in particular donning the captain’s “C” is making it clear that he wants to participate in this game. And, like any game, it has rules. And you don’t get to a la carte the rules.

So Todd Gurley, our preseason and midseason favorite for The Grange Award, will now sit out the Missouri game if not more. The good news is, there’s no character clause for the Grange. The bad news is, I’ve got to hear athletes’ rights-without-conditions pundits wax profound the next few days. That’s fine, I’m sure they’re even more sick of listening to me.

I do have one more item to add, though: Did you ever notice that as soon as a privilege is extended to someone, it isn’t long before they consider it an inalienable right? I found it amusing this morning when Phillip Daniels, father of Frozen Fiver DaVaris Daniels, weighed in on players’ rights by tweeting: “Not saying college athletes need to be paid like the professional athletes but give them something or at least let them use their brand!”

So what will I do with a free weekend in Athens?

You can make that argument. You can also argue that Notre Dame is saving Phillip Daniels $200,000 by offering his son the opportunity to receive an education at a Top 20 academic institution. And maybe, just maybe, Mr. Daniels could see it within himself to give his son a few dollars’ spending money seeing as how much money his son, in conjunction with Notre Dame, is saving him.

Aye, but there’s the rub. Big-time football players have been getting full-ride scholarships for so long that many of them don’t even consider it a privilege. Or a huge financial windfall. Maybe they or their parents don’t even value what that degree means. I don’t know. I’m just the guy who will be the pain in the ass (shocker) reminding people to walk it back when they say college athletes deserve to get paid.

2. You’re Screwed, Marshall

The Utes went 12-0 in 2008 and were denied a shot at the national championship. It turns out a “playoff” would have screwed them just the same.

For years I heard how unfair the BCS was and it was often cited, by paid college football pundits who were clearly in favor of a playoff (because not a few of them are also hopelessly in love with March Madness and feel that college football would be better off imitating that model), that schools such as Utah in 2004 (11-0) or Boise State in 2006 (12-0) or TCU in 2010 (12-0), etc., were being unfairly marginalized by the BCS.

How, the pundits wondered, could you purport to have a fair system of determining a champion if you exclude an undefeated team from the championship game? To which I always replied, “You’re right. No unbeaten should be excluded and in such years, and only in such years, when we have that situation, there should be a four-team playoff.”

Well, guess what happened. A four-team playoff came about –not because of anything I said, but rather because John Skipper and Mike Slive and Larry Scott and a few very other POWERFUL men associated with college football’s windfall saw the value in adding two extra meaningful games in January. Voila!

And so the next step was to sell it to the audience as, “We hear your plea.”

And then yesterday, in Dallas, a few of the more respected names in college football punditry and reportage gathered and, per the Playoff Selection Committee, were tasked to choose a playoff four from the 2008 season. And so these men and woman (ESPN’s Heather Dinich) gathered and chose a final four: Florida, Oklahoma, Texas (which earlier in the season beat Oklahoma) and USC.

Four fantastic, worthy teams. Each of which had one defeat before bowl season. The 2008 season was one of the best in recent memory (Michael Crabtree’s TD catch, anyone?) and you can make a valid argument that those were the four best teams.

But what about Utah? The Utes were 12-0. They got slighted, then were given a lovely parting gift of playing Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, and promptly rolled Tide.

But yesterday’s Mock Selection Committee, composed entirely of media who would not be predisposed to lean toward the Power Five (while the actual Selection Committee will be), still chose to exclude Utah. So, I mean, what’s the point? Other than having a playoff for playoff’s sake.

And so here sits 5-0 Marshall, and I hope the Thundering Herd know that winning the next seven or eight games in a row still won’t get them to the final four. But they can enjoy reading all the wonderful and enlightening pieces that were written explaining to us what a tough job the Selection Committee will have.

Instead of spending six hours on this, the Mock Selection Committee would’ve been better served sharpening knives and learning how to split hairs. Because that’s what this is going to come down to, anyway. There’s no objective means to separate four from five. All we do know for sure is that the oligarchy will be preserved, and none of the writers who attended yesterday’s session, at least to my knowledge, have shared that truth with us.

By the way, have you noticed how much more ornery I am lately? I have. I have, like, at least 36% more orn than I normally do. I’m not sure why. Perhaps I should consult a physician if this orn last for more than four hours.

3. Worlds Apart

Even Willy Wonka is trolling Journey? How about “Stone In Love” or “Still They Ride” or “Girl Can’t Help It?”

So the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame, a.k.a. Jann Wenner’s personal totem of inflated self-importance, released a list of 15 acts that were nominated for induction into the Hall for 2015. Some of those acts are worthy (Lou Reed without a doubt; same for Kraftwerk and The Spinners), but none of those acts are Journey, a band that committed the heinous crime of never being cool while recording a number of infectiously popular hits.

Rock-and-roll is supposed to be a refuge for the freaks and geeks, the outcasts (and Outkast) and even the losers (get lucky sometimes). But the folks at Rolling Stone, i.e. Wenner, have long seemed to have a stick up their asses if any band seemed not to be authentic enough for their tastes.

Also not nominated….again. Damone is still trying to unload a pair of tickets to Friday’s concert

There are Journey songs that I loathe (“Separate Ways”) come to mind. But you can’t just totally treat a band that wrote “Don’t Stop Believin'” and “Stone In Love” (this may be my favorite video…Can I nominate these dudes, Jann?) as if they are the 2008 Utah football team, can you? Pardon me while I ask the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Mock Selection Committee.

4. Subway Showtime

You board the L train in Williamsburg at the Bedford stop bound for Manhattan or at First Avenue in Manhattan headed in the opposite direction. Either way, there’s a decent amount of time between stops as your train literally travels beneath the East River. Which makes you a rapt audience.

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Three to four to even five young men, usually black, spring from nowhere and in a cheery voice announce, “Showtime! Showtime! Showtime!” One of them produces a boom box and clicks it on. And the next thing you know, the rails of the car become a jungle gym.

For what it’s worth, I attempted the grab-the-top bars-and-flip maneuver successfully last night. There may have been alcohol involved.

Chris Rock used to say that every father’s duty was to keep his daughter “off the pole.” He never said anything about sons.

5. Off the Hooks

Who was I talking to recently about Jan Hooks? I said that in my opinion she was the prettiest female cast member in Saturday Night Live history. Anyway, Hooks, 57, passed away last night. She was a strong female cast member –if not a Cecily Strong female cast member–who did her best work when the excellent Phil Hartman, who also left the mortal stage far too soon, was in a scene with her.