IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Starting Five

Up to 30 people are still missing

Up to 30 people are still missing…okay, not exactly missing…just somewhere under that roof and unaccounted for.

Valanga!

Four earthquakes struck central Italy on Wednesday, which likely led to an avalanche that buried the Hotel Rigopiano, in Farindola, about 100 miles northeast of Rome. Rescuers had to travel at least five miles by ski or snowshoe just to reach the four-star hotel, as snow continues to fall, and it is believed up to 30 people are trapped inside. Stay tuned to Medium Happy’s 24-hour cable news service for updates (Not yet, but won’t that be cool?).

And here we just watched Force Majeure earlier this week.

2. Basketball Becomes—Shorter

Taylor is actually Allen Iverson's god son, and plays very similarly; he put up 62 points in one game in November.

Taylor is actually Allen Iverson’s god son, and plays very similarly; he put up 62 points in one game in November.

This is 5’10” Phil Taylor of Division II Shorter University. He’s averaging 35.3 points per game, more than any player at any level, male or female.

Marcus Keene, 5’9″, plays for Central Michigan and is the top scorer in Division I.

Amely Del Rosario, 5’5″, is a senior at Lehman College in the Bronx and her 25.3 points per game is tops in Division III.

Julian Marx, 5’11”, is the top three-point shooter in Division III. He plays for Grinnell.

At Division III Greenville, which literally borrowed Grinnell’s playbook two years ago, they’re averaging a nation’s best 133 points per game. The Panthers put up 178 points earlier this season. Their coach, George Barber, eschews recruiting low post players.

What’s happening? Two things: 1) Schools and players are embracing the three-point shot at levels unlike any we’ve ever seen and 2) embracing the three has opened up the lane, so that players who have a terrific handle (cough, can palm the ball, cough) and can drive to the hoop are finding a more traffic-free lane or finding contact and foul calls (because refs are afraid to call charging unless you’re an oaf).

My story in Newsweek….

3. A Speech In Sharpie?

 

The president-elect himself tweeted out this photo of himself yesterday, taken either from the lair of an Arab sheik or his “winter White House,” Mar-A-Lago. What he may not have anticipated is assiduous and antagonistic news producers and reporters blowing up the photo and noticing that in his right hand he holds a Sharpie pen. Which is not conducive to writing long speeches (you know what is, in the 21st century? A computer). Donald, isn’t it a little early to be filling out your NCAA bracket? They haven’t even picked the field yet.

Every day Trump recalibrates the crazy line in American life. Yesterday, no lie, he announced what he wanted his slogan for his 2020 campaign (which he’ll begin going out on the road and staging rallies for, presumably, on Saturday) to be: “Keep America Great.” As more than a few horror genre fans noted, that was the tagline for last summer’s film, The Purge: Election Year, the plot of which has to do with draining the swamp and murdering undesirables. It’s described as a “dystopian” movie, but I think there are a few people in the new administration who think of it as a training film.

To be fair, whoever put together the marketing for this film probably borrowed that tagline from Trump’s “MAGA” phrase. They knew what demo they were targeting.

4. Logan’s Run for Novak?

In five sets Denis Istomin, a wildcard from Uzbekistan, defeats Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open. It was the Serbian superman’s first loss against an unseeded opponent at a Grand Slam in 34 matches. Djokovic, who will turn 30 between now and the French Open, owns 12 career Grand Slam singles titles. Is this significant?

Istomin:

Istomin: “Another win for Milos!”

Roger Federer, who owns the most with 17, won one Grand Slam title after turning 30. He’s now 35.

Pete Sampras, who has 14, also won one after turning 30.

Rafael Nadal, who also has 14, is 30 and last won a Grand Slam at age 28.

Speaking of futuristic dystopian films....in this one, turning 30 meant you needed to be exterminated. If you're old enough to remember this movie, you should definitely be gone.

Speaking of futuristic dystopian films….in this one, turning 30 meant you needed to be exterminated. If you’re old enough to remember this movie, you should definitely be gone.

Djokovic, who won literally half of the 22 Grand Slam titles between the beginning of 2011 and last year’s French Open, has now failed to win the last three Grand Slams.

5. I Think We’re Going To Be Okay

So long, suckers

So long, suckers

Oh, you think? You think??? And with that, Mr. Keating left the White House briefing room as most of the assembled fourth estate (and a few of us watching) stood on our chairs and desks and proclaimed, “O captain! My captain!”

President Obama departs 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue 1) alive (most importantly; admit it, you all had him in the dead pool, ahead of even Wade Wilson) 2) untouched by scandal and 3) with his integrity and senses of humor and decency intact.

No, not THIS Wade Wilson

No, not THIS Wade Wilson

Even Obama’s most ardent enemies (many of whom cannot wait to Make America Great Again) must admit that at his core he is a good man. And what they believe is weakness, well, they’re about to discover, was simply good old fashioned “discretion is the better part of valor.”

A lot of American are upset about ISIS (Did any of them care about Syria before James Foley was decapitated?), or Obamacare (what’s their better plan?), or about job loss (which is more a product of how major corporations are slaves to their earnings reports than about anything a president can do), and I get that people want to work. Will it be better under Trump?

As the Zen Master said, “We’ll see.”

Music 101

 Kiss You All Over

Kinda disco, kinda power-pop, this song from Exile was all over FM radio in autumn of 1978. I can’t believe Paul Thomas Anderson hasn’t used it in a film yet. The song was No. 1 for four weeks in late ’78. Lead singer Jimmy Stokley died seven years later at the tender age of 41.

Remote Patrol

Skyfall

3:30 p.m. SyFy

When you’re looking for a movie whose title matches your mood. This James Bond film from 2012 stars Daniel Craig and made up for the disaster that was A Quantum of Solace (worst title for a 007 film ever).

 

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Thought du Jour: With all that’s going on, does anyone else think The Newsroom ended way too soon?

Starting Five

Harden probably does this at least once per half, if not more often. Refs ignore it.

1. “Crowd Wanted A Travel”*

*The judges suggest this should be the new NBA slogan

Russell Westbrook has 20 triple doubles this season. James Harden put together his 13th last night, a 40-point, 12-rebound, 10-assist night (ESPN’s anchors were so busy splooging over the feat that they barely remembered to tell me who won).

Westbrook and Harden are two of my favorite NBA players to watch. But I’ll submit this: If NBA referees actually called traveling, they’d each have half as many triple doubles at most (and, to be fair, Harden travels far more often than Westbrook does).

They’re not the only two NBA players who travel. LeBron travels a lot, too. It’s mind-numbing to me why the NBA does not police traveling (or hugging players around the waist who are standing away from the ball). I’ve hit this note before but no one at the NBA continues to listen (Phil, if you’re reading this, can you please ask your son-in-law, and I mean this with all due respect, “What The F&$k?”).

Kids emulate their favorite NBA players (I had the Earl the Pearl spin move down at age eight).  All the NBA is teaching kids is to take an extra step on their way to the bucket, which is not basketball. As I wrote in this piece three years ago, the reason I know it’s traveling is because when I watch a pre-game lay-up line, no one is taking two steps after picking up their dribble. They only do that in games.

2. “Woke Up, It Was A Chelsea Manning”*

Brilliant, dis guy's

Brilliant, dis guy’s

*The judges are considering “Chelsea Lately” but are unlikely to approve

I’m just going to make a word salad of this news and you kids pick out what you’re allergic to: Transgender Leavenworth Commuted Sentence WikiLeaks Edward Snowden Wut WUT!? Obama The Fifth Estate Bradley Manning Attempted Suicide Julian Assange Joey Heatherton (I’m not sure what Joey Heatherton has to do with any of this, but I mean, c’mon, Joey Heatherton!).

3. Nigerian Nightmare

From FoxNews.com: “A Nigerian air force fighter jet on a mission against Boko Haram extremists mistakenly bombed a refugee camp on Tuesday, killing more than 100 refugees and aid workers.”

Nigerian military commander Major General Lucky Irabor confirmed the strike. No, you can’t make this stuff up.

It’s a tragedy, and yet the first thing I thought of was the closing scene from Das Boot. The next thing I thought of was the opening scene from The Gods Must Be Crazy. Either way, that blows.

4. This Is What Happens When Your Humanities Teacher Shows The Revenant During Fourth Period

You’ll never believe this, but a Trump cabinet nominee is a complete joke. This is Betsy DeVos, who is up for Secretary of Education. You can watch all of Senator Chris Murphy’s interrogation here. It’s…what’s the word….deplorable.

And here’s Senator Bernie Sanders, who notes that Devos’ family has given roughly $200 million to the Republican party over the years (she said, “That’s entirely possible”), asking, “My question, and I don’t mean to be rude, but do you think if you were not a multi-billionaire, if your family had not made hundreds of millions of dollars in contributions, that you’d be sitting here today?”

Listen, we’ve gone over the game plan before, but one more time: Rich people wanna stay rich (and get richer). To do that they need to stay in power. To do that they need to fool poor people into voting for them. To do that they must 1) keep them ignorant and/or poorly educated and 2) tickle that spot that poor people have about darkies  or non-Christians, you know, people who aren’t “real Americans,” being responsible for all societal blights. Right now the game plan is working wonderfully.

5. Democratic, Republican and Birthday Parties

Chief presidential agitator Bill Maher tursn 61 on Friday, inauguration day. His friend and erstwhile guest on both shows that he has had, chief presidential manure peddler Kellyanne Conway, turns 50 on Friday. Maher will be hosting the premiere of the 15th (and last?) season of Real Time on HBO that night. Kellyanne will be doing the boogie up to 3 Doors Down.

Music 101

Cathy’s Clown

Don and Phil Everly, the Everly Brothers, were the biggest American recording artists not named Elvis Presley during the Kennedy years. The Kentucky-born duo were the first band signed to a fledgling label named Warner Brothers, in 1960, and this was their first single. It sold eight million copies and spent five weeks at No. 1. If they sound similar to Buddy Holly, he was a good friend. Don Everly, the older of the two, was so broken up by his death that he stayed in bed during the funeral.

Side note: Don had a daughter named Erin who would later become the inspiration for the Guns ‘n Roses hit, “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” She would marry Axl Rose in April of 1990, but the marriage ended ten months later.

Remote Patrol

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

TCM 10 p.m.

I already know you’re going to tune into Thunder at Warriors (Can we have 73 ESPN segments analyzing whether or not this is a rivalry, pretty please?) on TNT, but I may check this out. Never heard of this melancholy Sixties French musical (your’e saying, “After those last four words, I’m SOLD!”) a month ago, but it is referenced in nearly every review of La La Land. Even critics who’ve never seen it reference it just to let the other critics know they’re legit. Is it any good? It’s French and it has umbrellas. Sure, why not?

Tip of the cap to the programmers at TCM for noticing the trend and airing this.

THREE AND OUT

by Michael DePaoli

1. Conservative Movement Is Over

Larry Kudlow advised Reagan and now he's advising Trump

Larry Kudlow advised Reagan and now he’s advising Trump

As reported last week in Huffington Post and Salon, the current 2017 GOP House Budget proposal includes an additional NINE TRILLION DOLLARS in Federal debt over the next decade. Nine Trillion More! Because of this GOP proposal, I am going to declare the so-called “conservative movement” to be over, because those people never did try to conserve anything. Instead, the conservative ideology is and always has been an excuse to be mean to people.

You see, the conservative fascination with austerity and cutting spending on social programs is only used to hurt people when times are bad, or when a Democrat is in the White House. For example, back in 2009, when President Obama was trying to create a massive stimulus package to help get the USA out of a bad recession that was caused by the GOP, the GOP reacted vehemently and squeezed tight and they objected to the economic stimulus. Indeed, according to The New York Times published on January 28, 2009, the House of Representatives passed the stimulus plan without a single GOP vote. The GOP fell back on their fake ideology of wanting to balance the budget, which ideology we now know is completely bogus. As soon as the GOP captures control (i.e. today) they want to ramp up our spending and increase our total debt.

Whatever the GOP might be, it is not conservative. This conclusion is consistent with history. According to White House budget archives, these are the facts: Debt under Republican President Reagan went from 900 million to 2.6 trillion; Debt under Republican President Bush went from 2.6 trillion to 4 trillion; Debt under Republican President Baby Bush went from 5.6 trillion to 9.9 trillion. The GOP is all about debt. The GOP is not conservative.

2. MOVIE REVIEW: MOONLIGHT 

Why did Moonlight win Best Picture Drama at the Golden Globes? The movie is extraordinarily intelligent and exquisitely beautiful. The story presents the main character Chiron in three different stages of his life: grammar school, high school, and adulthood. The genius of the movie is in the way it uses Chiron to weave together the various aspects of our culture that act as roadblocks to living a happy life. Moonlight is not simply a movie about the violence, the ghetto, the poverty, the sexual identity, the bullying, nor the drugs. Instead, Moonlight is an intensely intimate story about delicate lives wherein the promise of something better can transcend through the grossly unfair circumstances of human existence.

Screenwriter and director Barry Jenkins has taken the source material from Tarell Alvin McCraney to create a masterpiece of dialogue, hope, and beauty. This is the type of movie that sinks into your brain because the fictional characters leap into your consciousness.

The actors in Moonlight are amazing. Naomie Harris is stunningly real. Janelle Monae electrifies the screen. Mahershala Ali’s internal conflict is palpable. Trevante Rhodes brilliantly straddles his role of being brutally tough and emotionally damaged. Andre Holland’s few short minutes on the screen are like an epiphany.

3. Answer to Susie B., Re: American Shame and Blame 

I do not know Susie B but as a general rule I like her comments (Ed. Note: His first submission and he’s already sucking up). So, I am going to take the time to respond to what Susie B wrote as a comment to Medium Happy last week under the article entitled “Enigmatic.” To paraphrase, Susie B identifies the shame and “blame” that we shall all feel (assuming we might be alive fifty years from now) about the Trump inauguration and the “following reign of terror.”

My response: Why do we need Trump to feel shame for what our country has already done? Why do we not own up to our own bad acts that have already been committed? Indeed, perhaps it is our abject refusal to acknowledge our current shame that has allowed someone like Trump to come onto the scene and up the ante by doing more bad things.

Here is an abbreviated list of shameful acts committed by the USA: Slavery, The Wars Against Native Americans, The Civil War, Jim Crow Laws, Lynching, the Tuskegee Experiment, Shooting Unarmed People In The Streets, Largest Prison Population, Allowing Our Own Citizens To Die From Preventable Diseases (Ed. Note: Nobody’s perfect).

Our infrastructure is falling apart, our roads have potholes, our politicians are corrupt, there is no justice in our justice system, our reality television shows are scripted fiction, and the first thing we do to our kids is lie to them about Santa Claus.

All told, we have targeted and killed millions of innocent civilians, including the following places: Dresden, Hamburg, Berlin, Tokyo, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, North Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq. How many bombs have we sold around the world, and how many guns have we sold around the world, and how could it be possible to count all the innocent dead people killed by American weaponry that we have sold to just about anyone who wanted to kill someone else?

There are probably only a handful of American citizens who feel even an inkling of shame for the crimes we committed against the people of North Korea. The people of that small nation were just at the wrong place at the wrong time, they were nothing more than pawns in the global war of superpowers. But, despite their innocence, we bombed everything in sight in North Korea. We dropped firebombs on the people, and we blew up every road, dam, bridge, and power plant. It is difficult to know how many civilians we killed during the Korean War, but a fair estimate would be somewhere between one million and two million people. For those innocent human beings who survived, they faced economic sanctions, blockades, and starvation.

So, yes, Trump is a sociopathic menace and a pathological liar who brags about and laughs about molesting women. Oh, and he is our next President. But, fifty years from now, I am not certain very many people will feel any shame. We will treat the memory of Trump in the same way we treat the memory of the Korean War: “Meh, whatever.”

(Michael DePaoli is a licensed lawyer in Arizona and California. He is the author of the eBook: Movie Theatre Therapy; and he is the creator of videos on YouTube: Tachistoscope, and Tachistoscope Sunsets.)

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Starting Five

Love the classic duds and the classic dreds. Dr. J. and George McGinnis would be proud.

Love the classic duds and the classic dreds. Dr. J. and George McGinnis would be proud.

1. Joel To The Hole

Of course, of course the NBA is going to want TNT to air a game between the Cavs and Warriors, who this spring could become the first two teams in NBA history to meet in three consecutive NBA Finals. And, sure, they wanted to hire Thunder-Clippers because the Clips will become the team with the most endorsement deals to never make the Finals.

What they should’ve done, though, is move Cavs-Warriors to 10:30 p.m.—still only 7:30 p.m. out west—and air Sixers-Bucks, because these are the two most entertaining young teams in the the league. Joel Embiid. Giannis Antetokounmpo (the steal of the 2013 NBA draft, taken 15th; Anthony Bennett was selected first). Dunks galore.

 

Did Giannis just win the next three dunk contests?

Did Giannis just win the next three dunk contests?

Do you realize that the Sixers are 6-4 in their past 10 games and that’s while observing their tradition of not having their No. 1 overall drat pick even playing for them? Ben Simmons still has yet to suit up.

Embiid was the 3rd overall pick in the 2014 draft, but due to injuries is making his debut this season. He’s averaging 19.7 ppg and 7.7 rpg and is having as much fun as anyone in the NBA. Jahlil Okafor, the 3rd overall pick last season, has been All-Meh team for Philly. But wait until Simmons joins this cast. The Sixers, who won last night to improve to 13-26, have already won three more games than last season. They haven’t won 20 games in a season since 2013 and haven’t finished above .500 (that’ll be tough, but possible) since 2005

Giannis is averaging 23.4 and 8.6 and oughta be selected to the East All-Star team if there’s a (Greek) god. The Bucks are 20-20 and in eighth place in the East. But like Philly, better days are on the way.

2. Locker Room Talk

As you know by now, in the wake of Pittsburgh’s 18-16 win Sunday evening in Kansas City, Antonio Brown posted 17 minutes of the Steelers’ locker room scene to Facebook Live. Every sports blog oughta send Brown a bouquet of chocolate roses (Deadspin‘s write-up actually began, “Bless Antonio Brown…”

Inadvertently, Brown caught coach Mike Tomlin saying the following, which really isn’t even that bad, about their upcoming opponents, the Patriots:

“Let’s start our preparations. We just spotted these assholes a day and a half. They played yesterday. Our game got moved to tonight. We’re going to touch down at 4:00 in the f***ing morning. So be it. We’ll be ready for their ass. But you ain’t got to tell them we’re coming.”

Bill Belichick will get over it. I’m not sure that Phyllis will, but Belichick will.

3. To Stay Home Or Go?

On Friday Donald J. Trump will be sworn in as this nation’s 45th president (you may have heard), providing parents coast-to-coast with the opportunity to explain the meaning of the word “nadir” to their kids.

Beyond that, more than 40 Democratic Congressmen have pledged not to attend the ceremony. I’m a little torn on this and I’d like your help. I’m no fan of Trump (NO! C’MON!) nor am I a Dem or GOP’er, but he did win the election and even if you think Russia played some dirty games along the way, Putin didn’t actually pull the lever from anyone. Trump won. Fair (by the Electoral College) and square. You respect the outcome, even if Russia may have meddled.

Why are they covering up

Why are they covering up “Don’s Johns?” I don’t get it. Pee Pee Party?

By not attending, you can argue, lawmakers are being petty and not offering Trump the same fresh start, clean state as he takes office that they were so bent out-of-shape about the 44th president not receiving.

On the other hand, when you get past Trump’ s Insult-Per-Day Twitter style (and that doesn’t bother me so much), here’s a man who spent five years brazenly trying to humiliate his predecessor with the birther movement. A ploy, by the way, which is a major reason for why he got elected. No one who will move into the White House has ever publicly shown more contempt for a sitting president, so what has he done to earn the respect usually associated with that office?

 

Oh, Rob!

I’d never tell a John Lewis or any other legislator what he or she should do (especially if they’re a minority), I’m no Rob Schneider (“Making copies!”). It’s just that this one has me flummoxed.

Trump is going to give everyone enough opportunities to defy him from moves he makes starting Friday. I think my feeling is I’d wait until next week to demonstrate against him. Let him soil his own bed. Don’t give him an excuse to say that everyone was against him and never gave him a fair chance (though his predecessor rarely whined about being openly defied simply because of the color of his skin).

Your thoughts?

4. Cadaverliers

Golden State 126, Cleveland 91.

Kevin Love goes for three points and three rebounds in 16 minutes and might I remind you that he was considered the star of that UCLA team that also had Russell Westbrook.

No one called a Flagrant 1 on the Vietcong. Sad!

No one called a Flagrant 1 on the Vietcong. Sad!

The Cavs were on the final game of a six-game road trip that began in Brooklyn of all places and then did Mountain Time (Phoenix and Salt Lake City) before three games on the coast. Man, I can’t wait for the NBA to put a franchise in Las Vegas. Either can most NBA players.

The Mandible Sweater is questionable.

The Mandible Sweater is questionable.

Anyway, other than the Dubs ending a four-game losing streak to the LeBronskis, it was pretty meaningless. Although LeBron may have suffered a bruised beard (no relation to Butch Beard) on that foul from Draymond Green in the first half.

5. Dinosaur, Jr.

This is the “Humpback of Circle B,” a massive alligator spotted in Lakeland, Florida, the other day. God bless. Now, please, nobody go all Duck Dynasty on this beautiful creature. If he got that large without eating any humans, he probably isn’t about to start now (maybe the odd Golden retriever or two, but hey…). Besides, given the way Floridians make news, would a reduction in them be all that awful?

Word Up

Desultory (adj.) lacking a plan, purpose, or enthusiasm

After years of providing passionate insight, Jon Gruden put in another desultory effort alongside Sean McDonough in the Monday Night Football booth.

Music 101

Sunday Morning Comin’ Down*

Kris Kristofferson must wonder what he has to do. He has written some of the best songs in country music, including this one and “Me and Bobby McGee”, and he was a handsome feller’ in his day, but the artists who performed his tunes already had better luck with them. This version by Johnny Cash rose to No. 1 on the country charts and was named Country Song of the Year in 1970.

*This one’s dedicated to you, A.J.

Remote Patrol

Charlie Wilson’s War

HBO Now

The beauty of this above scene is that it’s Gust’s (Hoffman’s) first line in the entire film. This is how we meet him.

This wasn’t even nominate for Best Picture from the field of 2007 films, which in retrospect seems a heinous crime. The winner was No Country For Old Men (no argument there), but this film starring Tom Hanks, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Julia Roberts, with Amy Adams, Ned Beatty, John Slattery (still blond) and a va-va-voom Emily Blunt in supporting roles, written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by Mike Nichols, is outstanding. Over-hyped films such as Atonement, There Will Be Blood and Juno go much more love that year, and my guess is because in part America wasn’t ready to watch a movie telling us that we made a fatal mistake by taking our eyes off the ball in Afghanistan.

But the script is as good as Sorkin has ever written—he only goes about 75% Sorkin. It’s hilarious and a treat, while telling a story that is every bit as fascinating as Argo would later be. These actors, Hanks included, have never been better. It’s a shame that it was so unappreciated when it was released.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Starting Five

Crosby's grandfather, Bing, would be so proud of him. Wait, what?

Crosby’s grandfather, Bing, would be so proud of him. Wait, what?

Split-The-Uprights Citizens Brigade*

The judges will not accept “The Mason-Kicks ‘Em Line”

On a day when all four teams (Green Bay, Dallas, Pittsburgh, Kansas City) 1) showed that it’s still cool to wear the same uniforms you wore in 1970, 2) represented franchises that won Super Bowls in the first 10 years of the game and 3) commemorated the 50th anniversary of the first Super Bowl by having the Packers win and the Chiefs lose, field goals ruled.

Colorado alum Mason Crosby kicked a pair of 50-plus yards in the final two minutes as the Packers outlasted the Cowboys, 31-28. Crosby has now made 23 consecutive postseason field goals, an NFL record. Crosby became the first NFL kicker to connect on a pair of 50-plus yarders (they were 56 and 51 yards, excluding the third he made that was nullified by a timeout) in the final two minutes of a playoff game. And, yes, Dallas’ Dan Bailey made a 52-yarder in between those two to tie the game.

In Kansas City, the biggest “Killer B” for the Steelers was 6’2″, 201-pound Chris Boswell, who set an NFL record with six field goals (in sub-freezing temps, by the way) of 22, 38, 36, 45, 43 and 43 yards in a win that did a lot for kids all over to help learn their three-times table, 18-16. It was the first time in 11 years (Indy) that a team won a playoff game without scoring a touchdown.

2. Six-Ring Circus

The AFC Championship Game in Foxboro, Mass., will pit (Pitt?) Ben Roethlisberger (2 Super Bowl wins) versus Tom Brady (4 Super Bowl wins). There has never been an NFL playoff game between two quarterbacks who’ve won a combined six Super Bowl rings before. We checked. Not assiduously, but we checked.

Your four ring guys, like Brady, include Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana, who never met in a playoff game. Troy Aikman won three, but he never faced off against Montana. When the Cowboys and Steelers met in Super Bowl XIII, Roger Staubach (your author’s favorite all-time player) and Bradshaw had “only” won a combined four SB’s. Likewise, when Peyton Manning squared off against Brady in last year’s AFC title game, it only was a combined five rings because Peyton was still yet to win his second.

This will be the first six-ring playoff game.

3. Aaron Rodgers: Chico and The Man

We old souls find that Rodgers' playoff play is similar to Roger's (Staubach's, that is)

We old souls find that Rodgers’ playoff play is similar to Roger’s (Staubach’s, that is)

The Green Bay Packers started 4-6. Since then the Pack are 8-0 and Aaron Rodgers has thrown 21 touchdowns, just one interception (nice pick, Chris Heath) and had zero conversations with his family. The New York Times (which, I haven’t yet checked this morning, may be a “dying’ newspaper or “a pile of trash” ) published a story yesterday backing up a previous Bleacher Report article about the rift between the two-time MVP and his parents back in Chico, Calif., and also his brother, Jordan, who won or lost The Bachelorette, depending on how you score those deals.

Staubach invented the postseason Hail Mary and was the king of

Staubach invented the postseason Hail Mary and was the king of “Don’t Give Him Enough Time To Come Back.” He led Dallas to four Super Bowls, winning every one that he didn’t have to play against the Steel Curtain (2)

Regardless, Rodgers’ play this postseason (and in the latter half of the regular season) has been Don’t-wait-for-it LEGENDARY. Yesterday, he was sacked late and by all laws of physics should have fumbled, but he held on. Two plays later he literally drew up the 35-yard pass that would allow Green Bay to kick the game-winner in the huddle, and without benefit of the dirt.

Rodgers hasn’t spoken to his family, reportedly, since he began dating Olivia Munn. We lament that, but a Super Bowl between the two greatest quarterbacks (okay, Peyton, you’re in the conversation) of the past decade, one whose SigOthers are Gisele Bundchen and Olivia Munn just needs to happen, no?

By the way, Rodgers, 33, is six years younger than Brady and grew up 182 miles due north of Brady’s hometown of San Mateo.

4. The Man In The High Tower

It is a week that begins with Martin Luther King Day (he attracted a fairly large crowd on the National Mall once) and ends with the inauguration of Donald J. Trump taking the oath of office at the other end of both the Mall and the spectrum. The Scottish newspaper The Sunday Herald decided to have a little fun with its TV listing of the event. Or maybe it was just hoping to be the subject of a tweet….

By the way, does this guy, “a bush-league fuhrer,” remind you of anyone?

Also, and this is no joke, on Friday TCM will air (5:45 pm.) A Face In The Crowd, a film that came out 60 years ago starring Andy Griffith as “a megalomaniacal TV personality, whose guitar and folksy humor take him from an Arkansas jail to national popularity. The movie offers a satire of television, pop culture and the public fascination with celebrity.”

Your life hack begins in just four days. Are you ready?

5. Un-led Vs. Unleaded

There will come a day when this site is as much of an anachronism as a hitching post...

There will come a day when this site is as much of an anachronism as a hitching post…

So, let’s define the term market capitalization. It is, as I understand it, the number of shares of outstanding stock a publicly traded company has times the price of that stock. In short, the total value of that company in the price of its stock times the number of shares.

Now, from 2004 through 2014, do you know what company was consistently ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in market capitalization, or Market Cap? Exxon. Every year for 11 years in a row. Exxon. The company run by Lawrence Tillerson, the presumptive next Secretary of State.

Now, if you look at the ranks of Market Capitalization as of last Friday, here are the top seven companies in the USA by rank: Apple, Google, Microsoft, Berkshire Hathaway, Amazon, Facebook and THEN Exxon. That’s five tech companies, none of which existed before 1980, and one holding company owned by Warren Buffett, all ahead of America’s largest oil company.

Another worthy Amazon

Another notable Amazon

If you happen to be a non-coastal, non-elite and believe that voting for Trump will reverse the course of history, you may as well get into your wood-paneled station wagon and head to the drive-in theater. You may hate us coastal elites and our libtard ways, but you are likely reading this on a computer made by Microsoft or Apple, you likely used Amazon to purchase Christmas gifts (or something in your closet), and you will almost certainly be on Google or Facebook today if you haven’t been already.

Trump will bring some jobs back, but he’s not bringing 1975 back. Or 1955. As much as you may want him to. That’s what so much of this discord is all about. But the numbers above don’t lie. There was a time when owning a railroad was the peak of American success (or Boardwalk and Park Place). In the 21st century, the trick is to own a social media platform. Like it or not.

Music 101

Monday Monday

I’m going to make the argument here that Denny Doherty was not only the most underrated member of The Mamas & The Papas, but the most criminally neglected signature voice of the Sixties (and, thirdly, the greatest pop culture figure ever to hail from Halifax). Doherty, who passed away in 2007, sang lead on both this song and the folk group’s other 1966 hit,”California Dreamin'”: two quintessential time-capsule Sixties songs. And he is also the least-discussed member of the group, as he was not one of Chynna Phillips‘ parents (far as we know; Doherty and Michelle Phillips did have an affair in 1965, three years before Chynna was born) and he was not Mama Cass. But what a creamy smooth voice.

This song hit No. 1 in 1966 (that’s like winning Miss California in the Miss USA pageant) and also won a Grammy. I love its mournful mood. Captures the spirit of driving beneath the marine layer on the Pacific Coast Highway.

Remote Patrol

Cavs at Warriors

TNT 8 p.m.

Two of the minimum five future Hall of Famers who will be on the floor this evening....

Two of the minimum five future Hall of Famers who will be on the floor this evening….

The Amazing Adventures of Cavaliers and Klay (cont.). So do these two only meet on national holidays now? Recall that the Dubs (34-6) blew a 14-point fourth-quarter lead on Christmas Day to the Cavs (29-10) to lose their fourth straight to the LeBronskis. Should be a fun atmosphere at Oracle. The Cavs are 3-2 on this current road trip.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Starting Five

1. All In The Family-ish

Some good friends of mine—let’s call them Midwestern elites—have been chiding me to tune in to Black-ish for awhile now, but I just have yet to do so. Earlier this week they did a post-election episode that was the closest thing to something from All In The Family I’ve seen since, well, perhaps The Sopranos. 

I can’t pull the clip independently from YouTube, but you can and should watch it on this link. It’s where the male lead, Dre (Anthony Anderson), is admonished by his boss for “not caring” about the outcome of last November’s election. Strong stuff. But I’m sure Clay would burp,  pump out 25 push-ups and cry, “DBAP!”

If you’re looking for a lighter touch, but definitely redolent of a conversation Archie Bunker and George Jefferson might have had in the house on 704 Hauser Street, here’s a funny N-word debate from earlier in the series.

2. Get Real, Madrid

In the Spy vs. Spy intertwined careers of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo (who may wind up being remembered as the two best soccer players ever—sorry, Pele—but who will be No. 1 and who will be No. 2?), Ronaldo has taken the latest advantage. Yesterday Ronaldo’s squad, Real Madrid recorded its 40th unbeaten match in a row, surpassing the La Liga record of 39 set only last year by Messi’s F.C. Barcelona club.

It wasn’t easy. With Ronaldo resting, as this was the second leg of a home-and-home versus Sevilla in the Copa del Rey and Real enjoying a 3-0 advantage after their first match (aggregate goals and all; if you don’t understand, tweet at Paul Carr or Grant Wahl), the team struggled. Real Madrid trailed 3-1 on the road after 80 minutes, but then scored in the 83rd minute and then subbed in superstar Karim Benzema in extra time, on the final kick of the game.

Did it matter all that much in terms of the Copa del Ray or La Liga overall? No, but Ronaldo (again, he sat out) and Messi have been playing this legacy tug-of-war for awhile now.

Real Madrid’s last defeat came last spring to German side Wolfsburg in the Champions League.

3. This Honey Mustered Courage

The young heroine of this story better star in her own McD's ad soon....

The young heroine of this story better star in her own McD’s ad soon….

“She had a McNugget in her hand, a gun to her head, and no fear in her heart…”

Rocco Parascandola, New York Daily News

Where’s Rosco?* He’s out writing hilarious ledes to true-crime, teen-crime stories. This one happened in East Harlem, on 103rd and Third Avenue. Take a bow, sir.

*That’s a familiar catch phrase for a local NYC ad about a bed bug-hunting hound.

4. Want Trump Off Twitter? Easy. Buy It.

I don't know how you suck things from the outside of something, but I'm no viscous flow expert

I don’t know how you suck things from the outside of something, but I’m no viscous flow expert

I follow @realDonaldTrump on Twitter. And I actually think it’s to everyone’s benefit to have the Prez-Elect on Twitter. You can’t get a man to hang himself if you don’t give him the rope to do so, after all.

But for those of you who’d rather have him off, Vanity Fair–you know, this magazine:

 

floated an intriguing solution. Simply buy Twitter. They estimate it would cost you about $12 billion to do so and suggested it would be a 21st-century Montezuma’s Revenge of sorts for our neighbors to the south. Don’t wanna pay for the wall? Great. Buy this. And then delete Trump’s account.

Falling In Love, one of a plethora of films in which Streep gave a commanding performance but that no one ever wants to see again

Falling In Love, one of a plethora of films in which Streep gave a commanding performance but that no one ever wants to see again

Also this week, People published a transcript of the note Robert De Niro sent Meryl Streep after her Sunday night Golden Globes speech:

Meryl, 

What you said was great. It needed to be said, and you said it beautifully. I have so much respect for you that you did it while the world was celebrating your achievements.

I share your sentiments about punks and bullies. Enough is enough. You, with your elegance and intelligence, have a powerful voice—one that inspires others to speak up as they should so their voices will be heard too. It is so important that we ALL speak up.

We love you,

Bob

5. Hunter Renfrow v. Hunter Renfroe

Renfrow here: Down, but definitely not out.

Renfrow here: Down, but definitely not out.

Who’s your favorite Hunter Renfrow(e)? Is it the former Clemson walk-on wideout, Hunter Renfrow, who caught the game-winning pass in Monday’s national championship game and has four touchdowns and 17 catches against Alabama the past two Januarys (I couldn’t love him more if he were a Domer)?

Renfroe is also on the rise

Renfroe is also on the rise

Or is it the San Diego Padre outfielder, Hunter Renfroe, who got called up to majors in the final two weeks of last season and hit .371 in 13 games with four home runs and 14 RBI? Turns out the latter is a Mississippi lad, a former Mississippi State player, and an “S-E-C!” fan, but still was cheering for his homophone on Monday. And they’ve become buddies through Twitter.

Music 101

This Is Us

 

Before it was a TV show, it was an mid-tempo duet pairing Dire Straits’ front man Mark Knopfler and one of the loveliest women in music, Emmylou Harris. The song was released in late 2006. I’ve never looked into whether it inspired the NBC series, but it must have, no?

Remote Patrol

Saturday

No. 21 St. Mary’s at No. 5 Gonzaga

10 p.m. ESPN2

Peak WCC rivalry: Olynyk vs. Dellavedova

Peak WCC rivalry: Olynyk vs. Dellavedova

Hooray for the Catholic schools! There are six Catholic institutions in the Top 25 and none of them are Georgetown (even better, none of them are Boston College). The other four are defending national champion Villanova (3), Creighton (8), Xavier (15) and Notre Dame (20). The Gaels head to Spokane with a 15-1 record and the Zags, of course, are 16-0, the country’s last unbeaten team. This is a great way to settle in on a dark winter’s Saturday night.

ENIGMATIC

by John Walters

I do not know how to put up dry wall. I’m not handy with tools. I am lost under the hood of a car (although I can fix a flat) or under a bathroom sink. I cop to all of it, and I respect people who learn these trades or simply know how to perform these jobs. There is value in what they do, and just because I likely have more book-learning than they do or earned better grades in school does not make me better than they are.

Likewise, not being well-educated does not make someone better-suited to perform jobs that demand an education. The tide of anti-intellectualism that is sweeping the country, the vainglory in being poorly educated or uneducated, is beyond distasteful. It is dangerous.

How can you not know truth if you don't believe in a virgin mother who gave birth to someone who rose from the dead? What are you, an idiot?

How can you not know truth if you don’t believe in a virgin mother who gave birth to someone who rose from the dead? What are you, an idiot?

Earlier this week Senator Jeff Sessions, President-Elect Donald Trump’s choice for U.S. Attorney General, was asked flat-out during his ratification hearing, “A secular person has just as good a claim to understanding the truth as a religious person, correct?” 

Sessions’ reply: “Well, I’m not sure.

This wasn’t a conversation in the men’s room, or in a backroom office. This was televised for America, for the world to see. A man who, by the way is dead-set against radicalized members of another religion, was suggesting that you cannot measure truth as well unless you are religious while aspiring to the highest law enforcement position in the land. Justice is blind, but it carries rosary beads in its pocket.

Donald Trump wants Sessions to be your Attorney General. He wants a climate-change denial dude to head the EPA. He wants as his vice-president a man who ardently believes that homosexuals need to be sent away to be re-trained. As his commissioner on “vaccine safety” a man who does not believe in the safety of vaccines.

Let me be blunt: This is not bad for progressives and liberals. This is bad for everyone inside and outside the United States.

Allow me to introduce you to, if you don’t already know his story, Alan Turing. If you don’t know who Turing was, he was a brilliant British mathematician, a genuine genius, who in 1940 approached the English military and asked to be of service. At the time the Nazis were using an encryption machine, codenamed “Enigma,” that sent coded messages throughout Europe and into the Atlantic to coordinate maneuvers.

The simplest way to explain the Enigma machine: Imagine a typewriter. Now imagine that every key on that typewriter is attached to another typewriter full of keys. Now imagine that every key on those secondary typewriters is attached to yet another typewriter full of keys. Now consider that every day all the Germans would need to do is change the setting of one key on one of those typewriters to change the coded messages they sent.

Solving Enigma seemed virtually impossible. But Turing, who was socially awkward, introverted and, oh yeah, a closeted homosexual, insisted that he be allowed to help. The Brits relented. It’s worth noting here that being gay in Great Britain then was against the law. If word had gotten out that Turing was homosexual, he’d have been thrown in jail.

Fortunately, word did not get out. And after two years Turing, by building what was essentially the world’s first computer, cracked the Enigma code. But then Turing did something just as ingenious: He convinced his military superiors not to simply thwart every German maneuver. Turing saw the long game. He recognized that if the Allies simply used all of their new-found knowledge to undo Axis attacks that the Germans would be on to them and stop using Enigma.

Instead, Turing and his peers developed a calculus of only stopping certain attacks and allowing the Germans to succeed as well. Yes, they could have saved lives right away by stopping attacks on civilian ships, etc., but who knows how many lives that would have cost later on? That sort of long-term thinking takes intelligence and wisdom as well.

(And yes, you can watch The Imitation Game on Netflix right now if you didn’t see it in the theaters and learn most all of this).

The Allies won the war. The Nazis were defeated. Military experts later estimated that the cracking of the Enigma code shortened World War II by two years and saved 14 million lives. Fourteen million lives. That’s like the populations of New York City and Chicago combined.

That’s a pretty significant contribution from someone who, if the law of the day had been properly executed, would have been forbidden to lend his expertise. He’d have been rotting away in jail (If you don’t know how Turing met his end, I’ll spare you, but it wasn’t good and no one even knew of his contributions until 50 years after the war ended; the world owes him a huge thank you and a bigger apology).

The point is, people who are best trained to deal with a problem, be it drywall or an encryption machine, are the ones who should hold those jobs. Not people who simply think the way you do or are looking for the most efficient path to profit.

I’m reminded of another British World War II hero, Winston Churchill, who had been laughed out of office as an old fart and a worry wart in the mid-1930s, only to be called back after the Luftwaffe started flying bombing missions over London. In the mid-1930s Stanley Baldwin had been the Prime Minister and he adamantly refused to listen to Churchill’s repeated attempts to warn the House of Commons that the Germans were amping up their war machine. It was Baldwin and his party who led the  ouster of Churchill out of public life—temporarily.

Unlike Trump, who received at least three military deferments, Chuchill, a fellow child of privilege, volunteered and fought in Cuba, India, Africa twice, and Europe.

Unlike Trump, who received at least three military deferments, Chuchill, a fellow child of privilege, volunteered and fought in Cuba, India, Africa twice, and Europe.

Ten years later, in 1947, the war was won, Churchill was a national hero, and Baldwin was turning 80. There was to be a huge birthday party and Churchill was asked to come and speak at it. Never one not to be forthright, Churchill wrote Baldwin a short note that said, and I paraphrase, “I wish you a Happy 80th birthday but I will not attend. I must be honest: it would have been far better for Great Britain if you had never been born.”‘

He was correct, of course. As we stand just one week until inauguration day, I wonder if we’ll all be thinking (or saying) that about the 45th president in a matter of weeks, months, or years. There are serious problems facing the planet, from climate change to the extinction of species, and we have installed as the most powerful man in the world someone who tweets about “Fake News” because he’s butt-hurt about someone trying to compromise his glory.

Intelligence matters. Training matters. Wisdom matters. Alan Turing, even if you completely downgrade his contribution, saved a minimum of 5 million lives. Anti-intellectualism benefits no one. Your grandfather or uncle or dad may have died in World War II if it weren’t for Turing. This is not a game.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Starting Five

Fans

Fans “stayed away by the thousands” during the Chargers one and only season in Los Angeles in 1960

La La Palooza*

*The judges will also accept “A Rivers Runs To It” and “(Die)Go Now!”

Finally, an NFL team moving to Los Angeles that originated in Los Angeles. The Rams were originally the Cleveland Rams and the Raiders, who spent a decade or so in L.A. during the ’80s and early ’90s, were originally from Oakland.

Barron, Sid and Frank.

Barron, Sid and Frank. “Now that we know where the treasure’s buried, let’s head to the Cafe Trocadero and hang with Lucy and Ricky”

But the San Diego Chargers, who will announce today that they are moving to Los Angeles, actually began there. In 1960 the Los Angeles Chargers opened play in the NFL. Owned by Barron Hilton, whose dad was hotel magnate (and frequent mentor to Donald Draper) Conrad Hilton, the Chargers were coached by Sid Gillman (HOF’er) and had a general manager named Frank Leahy (yes, the same dude who won two national championships as a Notre Dame player, won four more as a Fighting Irish coach, and still owns the second-best winning percentage in college football history; behind his own coach, Knute Rockne).

Those 1960 L.A. Chargers finished 10-4 and you may have heard of Gillman’s two assistant coaches: Al Davis and Chuck Noll.

The Chargers announcement is great news for the San Diego State Aztecs, who finished in the Top 25 (25th in both polls) for the first time in 30 years...

The Chargers announcement is great news for the San Diego State Aztecs, who finished in the Top 25 (25th in both polls) for the first time in 30 years…

The L.A. Chargers were a very good team, they just couldn’t seem to attract a crowd (That’s cuz everyone had gone surfin’, surfin’ U.S.A.). Their last two home games at the L.A. Coliseum drew 9,000-plus and 11,000-plus. Can you imagine the photos Charger beat writers would have uploaded to Twitter back then with “20 minutes before Titans-Chargers kickoff” attached?

I sincerely hope there isn't a subliminal message here, though by the fact of me noticing it there cannot be, can there?

I sincerely hope there isn’t a subliminal message here, though by the fact of me noticing it there cannot be, can there?

Chargers to L.A. Yet another franchise missing the opportunity to become the Billings Bighorns

2. The (Holy) Trinity Sessions

So this is a disturbing little bit of video from the Senator Jeff Sessions “I Wanna Be Your Attorney General and Latex Salesmen” hearings…

Sessions: “I think we should respect people’s views and, and, not demand any kind of religious test for holding office.”

What’s wrong with that, you ask? Read on.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse: “And a secular person has just as good a claim to understanding the truth as a religious person, correct?”

Sessions: “Well, I’m not sure…”

See, if you don’t 100% believe that a virgin gave birth to God’s son, who then became the first and only person in history to rise from the dead, how can you be expected to understand what truth is?

(p.s. Why doesn’t Sheldon run for president? I’d never tire of saying, “We need to put a Whitehouse in the White House.”)

3. There Will Be Blood Exxon*

Daniel Day Lewis and Paul Dano in a memorable scene from a rather depressing film

Daniel Day Lewis and Paul Dano in a memorable scene from a rather depressing film

*The judges really believe we should’ve gone “Backing The U.S.S.R” or “Tillerson: The U.S.S.Czar” or “Comradicalization”

Do you remember what Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) did to Eli Sunday (Paul Dano) after the memorable “I Drink Your Milkshake” soliloquy, which was just a giant metaphor for having drilling rights to someone else’s land? That’s right, he murdered him.

To lead off her excellent eponymous MSNBC show last night, Rachel Maddow explained how almost all of the world’s largest oil companies are government-run. Then she noted that the world’s largest oil company not overseen by a government is Exxon. Then she noted that Exxon has 14 MILLION ACRES of land with drilling rights in the USA, which is far more than it has in any other country save one….Russia. Where it has 64 MILLION ACRES of land with drilling rights.

You've got the petroleum, I've got the drills, let's make lots of money.

You’ve got the petroleum, I’ve got the drills, let’s make lots of money.

So, EXXON has more land to drill for oil in the USA than anywhere else, except for Russia, where it has FOUR TIMES-plus as much land.

Except for one problem. Exxon has only like one well or two in Russia that operate, because Russia makes money off that well, and the U.S. GOVERNMENT has imposed sanctions on Russia.

To recap: 1) Russia would love Exxon to be able to drill more in Russia and 2) Exxon would love to be able to drill more in Russia.

If it weren’t for those pesky sanctions. And then you remember which American is the only American to have received Russia’s Order of Friendship medal. Oh yeah, Rex Tillerson, the CEO of Exxon. Isn’t he also Donald Trump’s pick for Secretary of State?

Sanctions lifted. Exxon drills. More big oil money. More money for Russia. And if you don’t think a certain Fifth Avenue Billionaire is going to find a way to profit off that, you’re naive enough to have voted for him in the first place.

4. Break Up The Korverliers

“Why do you keep calling me Kevin?”

The Korvs lose 106-92 in Portland, their second defeat in 28 hours. The Korvs trailed by 21 in the fourth quarter, almost inciting LeBron to shave.

Kyle Korver, a career .428 shooter from beyond the arc, is 0-5 in two games from that distance. He’s been diagnosed with KevinLove Sickness.

The Korvs are in the midst of a bizarre six-game road trip that began in Brooklyn, then went directly to Phoenix (Did they catch the A train from the Atlantic Ave. terminal to JFK? That’s what I do), then to Salt Lake City and Portland on a back-to-back. Now they’ve got Sac-Town and finally the Dubs on Monday. Yes, Monday. Don’t ask. Susie B. is already flummoxed and perplexed.

5. Seth Vs. Kellyanne

A terrific sparring bout between Seth Meyers and Kellyanne Conway, whom I admire for her sheer stamina (and she’s quite proud of those arms, isn’t she?) and willingness to go toe-to-toe with anyone on CNN, MSNBC or CBS. She’s a gamer.

This was from Tuesday night, and I really liked the way Seth called her on her “pivot” while also giving her and the Trump team props where they’ve earned it. Well done. She seemed to enjoy herself, too, though at the end KAC got a little defensive and the fangs were exposed. Which is why Trump loves her.

By the way, notice that this took place on Tuesday night and Conway said that Trump had not been briefed by U.S. intelligence—Seth repeated the question for clarity. But he had. And she knew it. She simply casually lied because who watches late-night TV, anyway?

Reserves


Donald Trump: Life Hack*

*The overworked judges will concede to “Blind Trust Me”

I really am loathe to go all in on yesterday’s circus other than to mention that Trump noted that “Hacking is bad” and then in the next breath said, “But look what we learned from it.” This happened shortly before or after he said something to the effect that “Leaking is bad” but for some reason was unable to find the silver lining in it as he did with hacking. Hmm.

Also, read this to better understand the truth about the Russian spying, the M16 dossier, and how the news was leaked. It almost certainly was not an intelligence leak, as Trump claimed.

Finally, here’s Office of Government Ethics director Walter Shaub spelling it out fairly plainly on Trump’s conflict of interest problems and his “Blind Trust Me” stratagem:

Music 101

Nashville

I got off the Indigo Girls train in the mid-Nineties (after the first listen of “Chicken Man”), but I loved their first four albums and would still happily schlep over to Central Park Summerstage (or the Beacon Theater) to see them. This song off Amy’s and Emily’s 1992 album, Rites of Passage, is one of their gems that never received enough radio play.

Remote Patrol

The Imitation Game

Netflix

also TMC (NOT TCM) 8 p.m.

I finally saw this 2014 film about the life of Alan Turing and how he cracked Enigma, the Nazis’ literal war machine, and I quite fancied it as compared to that year’s Best Picture winner, Birdman. Benedict Cumberbatch is extremely Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley does her thing, too. I love that some day she’ll be made a Dame and we’ll refer to her as Dame Knightley. It also stars Charles “A Lannister Always Pays His Debts” Dance, Mark Strong (like Cumberbatch, a Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy alum) and Charles Goode, who is very…How this film got made without Colin Firth being in it is beyond me.

Was nominated for eight Oscars. MH highly recommends.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Starting Five

44 says farewell

44 says farewell

There Goes That Man

Two words that President Barack Obama never uttered during his nearly 50-minute speech? “Donald Trump” (or, for that matter, “golden showers”).

Here are a few things he did say (some as if he were speaking directly to Trump and his cronies):

On overdoing the War on Terror: “Democracy can buckle when we give in to fear. So just as we, as citizens, must remain vigilant against external aggression, we must guard against a weakening of the values that make us who we are.”

On health care: “And I’ve said, and I mean it, anyone can put together a plan that is demonstrably better than the improvements we’ve made to our health care system, that covers as many people at less cost, I will publicly support it. Because that, after all, is why we serve. Not to score points or take credit. But to make people’s lives better.”

This very image bothers some people. Too many people. Sad!

This very image bothers some people. Too many people. Sad!

On capitalism run amok: “While the top 1 percent has amassed a bigger share of wealth and income, too many of our families in inner cities and in rural counties have been left behind.” (Editor’s Note: I don’t know why people don’t take this more seriously; we’re headed toward a feudal society)

On Trump-ism, without directly calling it that: “If every economic issue is framed as a struggle between a hardworking white middle class and an undeserving minority, then workers of all shades are going to be left fighting for scraps while the wealthy withdraw further into their private enclaves.”

On the issues that will continually confront Trump: “As my grandmother used to say, reality has a way of catching up to you.”

On immigrants: “For native-born Americans, it means reminding ourselves that the stereotypes about immigrants today were said, almost word for word, about the Irish, and Italians, and Poles, who it was said were going to destroy the fundamental character of America. And as it turned out, America wasn’t weakened by the presence of these newcomers; these newcomers embraced this nation’s creed, and this nation was strengthened.”

On climate change: “Without bolder action, our children won’t have time to debate the existence of climate change. They’ll be busy dealing with its effects… Now we can and should argue about the best approach to solve the problem. But to simply deny the problem not only betrays future generations, it betrays the essential spirit of this country, the essential spirit of innovation and practical problem-solving that guided our founders.”

I seem to recognize his face. Yup, Eddie was there thinking, Can't fined a better man...

I seem to recognize his face. Yup, Eddie was there thinking, Can’t find a better man…

On a fact the GOP hates to admit is true: “No foreign terrorist organization has successfully planned and executed an attack on our homeland these past eight years.”

On social media: “If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the Internet, try talking with one of them in real life.”

A quick anecdote. The day after Obama was elected, I was at my favorite neighborhood restaurant, La Caridad. Two black men were waiting for a to-go order and the first said, “Can you believe he won?” to which the second said, “Now how long until they kill him?”

It’s a relief and a mild surprise that the first African-American president not only survived four years in office, but eight. That he did so with his dignity and integrity intact, without a whisper of scandal, well, that must just destroy the racists who are so eager to see him depart. He did it, though. If he didn’t exactly win the Indy 500 in terms of every policy, remember that he spent eight years driving the car with Mitch McConnell pressing down on the emergency brake. More than a great man, he was a good and decent man. We’ll not see his like in the White House for at least four more years. Most likely longer. Speaking of which…

2. Golden Taint

From Newsweek

The story began making the rounds at Washington dinner parties late last summer: Donald Trump had been caught in a compromising sexual position by Russian intelligence agents during a business trip to Moscow. 

According to one version, told by a high-ranking Obama administration diplomat, Russian intelligence services, acting on Trump’s well-known obsession with sex, had arranged an evening for him with a bevy of hookers, with hidden cameras and microphones recording all the action. The jaw-dropping detail that topped the story? Trump had somehow engaged in “golden showers,” sex acts involving urine. 

Now, according to a leaked annex to the combined U.S. intelligence agencies’ report on Kremlin intrigues in the American elections, Russian security agents watched Trump engaging in “perverted sexual acts” that were “arranged/monitored by the FSB,” the Kremlin’s leading spy agency. The FSB, it said, “employed a number of  prostitutes to perform a golden showers (urination) show in front of him.” Not only that, according to the report’s anonymous Russian sources, Trump deliberately chose for his escapade “the Ritz Carlton hotel, where he knew President and Mrs. Obama (whom he hated) had stayed on one of their official trips to Russia and defiling the bed where they had slept.”

 

Now, let’s look at Donald Trump’s SEVEN tweets since this came out (originally reported last night by Buzzfeed). Notice that he never denies any of this directly. Instead, he just says “Fake News!” or “Witch Hunt!” or that he’s never been to Prague, which isn’t Moscow, but whatevs. This is the same man who for years pushed lies that Obama was born outside the U.S. and who also claimed that Ted Cruz’s padre was involved in the JFK assassination. Now he’s asking if we’re living in “Nazi Germany” because he for once is on the other end of it.

3. Angela’s Assets

By the way, Angela is about as nice and sweet a person as you could ever hope to meet. Couldn't be happier for her big moment.

By the way, Angela is about as nice and sweet a person as you could ever hope to meet. Couldn’t be happier for her big moment.

If you’ve seen La La Land, allow me to introduce you to Angela Parrish, the musician who actually sings the female vocals on the opening number, “Another Day of Sun.” The reason we love Angela is because her personal story mirrors that of both leads in the film (she actually plays jazz piano six nights per week at two different restaurants; sound like anyone familiar?).

The scene was shot six months before she ever was hired to lay down the vocals for the track, by the way.

4. The James Gang

I love Russell Westbrook as much as any of y'all, but James Harden is your indisputable first-half MVP

I love Russell Westbrook as much as any of y’all, but James Harden is your indisputable first-half MVP

James Harden last night: 40 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists. The Rockets launch nearly 50% of their shots from beyond the arc and win to move to 31-9. They’re basically on pace to finish 64-18 and no one’s saying it, but Mike D’Antoni’s “Seven Seconds or Less” offense is alive and well deep in the heart of Texas.

Also: Cleveland lost 100-92 at Utah. Bizarrely, LeBron James is 5-9 all-time in Salt Lake City (some notes are added simply to chide Susie B. into commenting).

5. Bono-roo?

Last week, it was Coachella (April), with headliners Radiohead, Beyonce and Kendrick Lamar.

This week: U2 announced it will be playing The Joshua Tree in its entirety on tour this summer (Why not just reach into my savings account, Bono, and take what you like?). Probably my favorite album, so yeah, you got me, Dubliners.

Bonnaroo (June): U2, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Weeknd.

BottleRock (in Napa Valley, in late May ): Tom Petty, Foo Fighters, Maroon 5.

Not a bad spring and summer of music.

Music 101

Girlfriend In A Coma

Thank God for The Smiths. Are there any artists around now who are as clever, dark and still melodic as Morrissey and his mates were? Okay, sure, a few hip-hop artists, but Phyllis can’t listen to that. This song reached No. 13 on the UK charts in 1987. Never charted in the US, but was popular in Dillon Hall in the fall of ’87.

Remote Patrol

Psycho

TCM 8 p.m.

 

This is not only Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece, it’s also his comeback hit (if you haven’t seen the film Hitchcock, it tells the backstory and has ScarJo plus Mrs. Timberlake, so what are you waiting for?). I like that the 1960 film starts in Phoenix with a female embezzler who decides to go on the run. I always imagine the Bates Motel being located somewhere between Blythe and L.A.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Starting Five

Renfrew's game-winning TD catch wasn't flagged, so it was legal

Renfrew’s game-winning TD catch wasn’t flagged, so it was legal

No Pick!*

The judges will also accept “Pick and Roll Tide”

Pick:

No Pick:

Williams' score here made it 24-21, Bama

Williams’ score here made it 24-21, Bama

Pick:

An ACC team, a rub play against the No. 1 team in the land, an easy TD pass, but—not legal

An ACC team, a rub play against the No. 1 team in the land, an easy TD pass, but—not legal

No Pick! No Pick!

2. Hunter Gatherer

This was Renfrow's first TD catch versus Bama, a 31-yarder, in the first half of last year's NCG....

This was Renfrow’s first TD catch versus Bama, a 31-yarder, in the first half of last year’s NCG….

Clemson’s 5’11 former walk-on wideout Hunter Renfrow, who scored the championship-winning TD last night, now has 17 catches and four touchdowns against the Crimson Tide in the past calendar year. Thirteen of the Tide’s 14 non-Clemson opponents in the past calendar year failed to score four touchdowns.

A reminder that Renfrow was not offered a single FBS scholarship out of high school. Something to remember when National Signing Day is upon up in 22 days.

....and this was his fourth, last night.

….and this was his fourth, last night.

Mike Williams, another Clemson wide out, is 6’3″ and will probably be chose in the top 20 picks in the upcoming NFL draft. And he deserves to be. And, more importantly, Williams’ two mighty, sky-walking fourth-quarter grabs last night were probably more decisive than any two catches Renfrow made. It’s just going to be interesting to see what happens with Renfrow, who also made a tackle on a Clemson fumble that saved a touchdown early in the third quarter, when his college career ends.

3. Meaningless But Fun

FCS Samford (Birmingham, Ala.) beat FCS Central Arkansas

FCS Central Arkansas beat Arkansas State

Arkansas State beat Texas State

Texas State beat Ohio

Ohio beat Kansas

Kansas beat Texas

Texas beat Baylor

Baylor beat Oklahoma State

Oklahoma State beat Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh beat Clemson (43-42)

So by the ultra-transitive property, a team from Alabama defeated Clemson, so the Crimson Tide may as well add another natty to its list. By the way, recall that North Carolina State missed a game-winning 33-yard field goal in October in Death Valley. Granted, if I had to bet, I’d predict Clemson would’ve run the table after that presumed loss and beaten Pitt, but we’ll never know, will we?

4. At Tritt’s End

Travis Tritt Treets:

Yesterday:

 

And this was Travis Tritt 51 weeks ago:

 


It ain’t about whether you agree or disagree with Tritt on the tweet directly above. It’s about fighting the “War on Hypocrisy!” (How’s that one going, Sean Hannity?). For example, can you believe Kellyanne said this yesterday referring to someone who dared to stand up to her boss?

“I’m concerned that someone with a platform like Meryl Streep is also inciting people’s worst instincts.” That’s good, Kellyanne! You are good.

5. Pay ‘Em? (More?)

Deshaun Watson is worth far more to Clemson than his scholarship and stipend. On the other hand, would you (or the NFL) know who he is if he just played sandlot ball in his hometown?

Deshaun Watson is worth far more to Clemson than his scholarship and stipend. On the other hand, would you (or the NFL) know who he is if he just played sandlot ball in his hometown?

So last week Ray Glier, who is a terrific reporter for The New York Times, asked as many playoff-bound college football players as he could what they do with their monthly cost-of-attendance stipend of just under $400.

He received replies from fewer than a dozen players, all of whom spend their money on responsible things like rent, car repairs, sending $$ home to parents or even buying stuff for the homeless. Cool. Apparently, the “Pay ‘Em!” crowd (my friend Jason McIntyre at The Big Lead introduced Glier’s piece in his daily Roundup by writing “To the few dolts who don’t think college football players should be paid, read how they spend their “stipend.”) believes that those of us who don’t believe they should be paid (more) assume they’re all going to use the money for spinning rims or bling or ice or Yeezy’s because you know, we’re all closet racists with a plantation mentality.

Item: What someone uses their income on should never have any impact on how much they are paid. That’s like saying of two sportswriters, one who’s married with three kids and the other who’s single, that the former deserves to be paid more because she buys more Gerber products. Why you’d make that your “Pay Them (More)” argument is asinine.

Item: College football players already are paid. You may have noticed the item dealt with the fact that these players receive checks of $388 per month. That is income. That is payment. They also receive free educations. If you think they should be paid MORE, that’s fine. But that’s the issue. Not that they are not paid at all. By continually saying they should be paid, you are either being intellectually dishonest (read: disingenuous) because it doesn’t help your argument or you’re just not very bright.

Item: Glier spoke with less than 12 players. About 10,000 young men play FBS football. Just something to remember.

Item: As far as I know, any college football player at an FBS school is eligible for free housing all four years he’s at that school (I’m not 100% positive on this, but I think so). Moving off campus and getting your own crib, for which you’d have to pay rent, is a discretionary spending move. No one is forcing these players to do that and pay rent. They make that choice.

Item: Most of us didn’t have a pet in college because we 1) didn’t have the time and 2) didn’t have the money to take care of one. I’m all for pets, and I’m all for players having them if they treat them well, but again, this is discretionary use of income.

Item: Same for vehicles. When you’re a college student.

You’re welcome to believe college football players should be paid MORE THAN THEY ALREADY RECEIVE. That’s a debatable topic, because I feel that most sportswriters that espouse this haven’t looked far down the road to explore the Law of Unintentional Consequences here. But that’s another matter.

As I’ve written before, when 100% of the people you make an offer to accept it (Hello, National Signing Day), there’s very little incentive to sweeten the offer. And when about 3% of the personnel playing college football make it to the NFL, the deal as is for the other 97% is far better than if it didn’t exist.

Yes, but colleges and ESPN and FOX are reaping billions off their labor. They DESERVE to be paid more, you say. Maybe. So go on strike. In the adult world, “deserve” and “fair” have very little to do with anything. It’s a lesson one should learn earlier rather than later.

Music 101

Vienna

The British New Wave act Ultravox was almost too New Wave, as if the barrier to entry to even listen to them required a black trench coat, military boots and eyeliner (You weren’t around in the early Eighties, but this was an actual thing; they were called “Mods”). The song spent four weeks at No. 2 in the UK in the winter of 1981, held off at No. 1 by John Lennon’s “Woman” (he’d been murdered a month earlier) and then for three weeks by the novelty hit, “Shaddup You Face,” proving that listeners had poor taste then, too.

Remote Patrol

President Obama’s Farewell Address

CBS, NBC, ABC, etc. 9 pm.

Watch it with your favorite Deplorable.