by John Walters
Tweet Me Right
— El Conquistador (@Bad_X_Ample) January 16, 2019
Note: How did we miss “House Of Carbs” as the headline for Item No. 1 yesterday? We failed you. We’re sorry.
1. Brexit Strategy*
*The judges also fancy “Come What May”
Poor Theresa May. The British Prime Minister is trying to break up with Europe, but she just cannot find the right words. May’s Brexit proposal, which was ratified in general by 52% of the popular vote in 2016, suffered a most resounding defeat in particular in the House of Commons, 432-202, yesterday. And Parliament didn’t even attempt any three-pointers.
We realize this and William Barr and Steve King is a lot less fun to talk about than Happy Meals in the White House, but it’s all a part of a bigger story: the wave of white nationalism—I’m sorry, I mean “Western Civilization”— that crested with Donald Trump’s election in 2016 but now seems to be on the wane. Could it be that common white folk are just tired of being afraid and hostile all the time? One hopes.
2. Wahoo’s Next?
The Who are planning another tour. So are the Wahoos of Virginia, who defeated Virginia Tech in the first-ever matchup of top ten schools from the Commonwealth last night, 81-59. The Cavs are 16-0 and uh-oh, we’ve all seen this play before. No. 4 UVA, one of two unbeatens left in the country (the other is Michigan) hosts No. 1 Duke on Saturday in Charlottesville.
When healthy, Duke starts four freshmen. Virginia starts no freshmen but three nouns: Salt (Jack), Guy (Kyle) and Hunter (De’Andre).
3. Area 51
The Golden State Warriors are like the parents who are about to have their seventh child and are as nonchalant about getting to the hospital on time and the lamaze classes as they’d be about making a trip to CVS. The Dubs, who entered last night with the second-best record in the Western Conference, visited the Denver Nuggets, who had the best record, and promptly hung an NBA-record 51 first-quarter points on them.
The final score was 142-111 as KD, Steph and Klay combined to drain 18 three-pointers. The Dubs woke up with the best record in the West (30-14 to Denver’s 29-14) this morning. Let the season begin.
Wanted to say a few words about recently and reluctantly retired (for now) Notre Dame associate athletic director John Heisler, who just departed after more than four decades on the job. John was a tremendous asset to the Fighting Irish for 41 years and, for a couple of generations of sportswriters, the true ambassador of the school’s athletic programs. He has an army of acolytes in the press box because he is always professional, always honest and, if you got to know him well enough, has a wickedly dry sense of humor.
I never knew Heis (like “Rice”) as an Irish undergrad (I barely wrote for The Observer), but I met him soon after arriving at Sports Illustrated. Like, within the first month. In those years Notre Dame was, with Miami, the top dog in CFB. Heis was the person to whom you spoke about anything ND-related and I was the college football fact-checker at SI. A long and trusting relationship began.
In the past decade, Heis’ and my relationship grew in a wonderful way. As Notre Dame pushed him out from day-to-day projects, John took over (created? I’m not sure) an extraordinary annual project, an anthology book of profiles of Notre Dame sports people called “Strong Of Heart.” John first plucked me to work on these in 2010 and I’ve done two or three for him each year since. It’s my favorite annual project.
Every year Heis and I can go months without speaking or emails. Then September comes and one of us emails about the project. I’ll shoot an idea or two to Heis, he’ll shoot me down, and then he’ll come back with a few suggestions and tell me to pick two (he’s known me long enough not to give me three, if he ever wants the book published on time).
Thanks to Heis, I’ve met a plethora of fascinating Notre Dame folks. Spent an afternoon with the woman who created the “Play Like A Champion Today” sign. Spoken for hours upon hours on the phone with Rudy Ruettiger. Profiled Ryan Shay, which is why I now touch his bench whenever I go on a run in Central Park. Spoke at length to my classmate Nicholas Sparks, whose own success story is better than most Nicholas Sparks novels. And, again thanks to John, spent a wonderful day with former Irish wide receiver Thom Gatewood and his lovely wife Susan and now consider the two of them dear and close friends. Thom is truly as kind and classy a man as I’ve ever met.
I owe John Heisler a great debt for this project, and it’s allowed our friendship to grow deeper. I truly don’t know why Notre Dame let him go so unceremoniously: I’ve looked for a tweet of gratitude from the school’s official athletic site. Nothing. For something on the athletics home page. Again, nothing.
That, I just don’t understand (while admitting I’m not on the ground in South Bend). On the one hand, for anyone to be able to work for the same employer for 41 years, well, good on them for being a fantastic employee but you’re also somewhat blessed. Too many of us, especially in the sports industry, have learned that there is no loyalty in this business no matter how great an employee you are. Still, from afar it seems as if Notre Dame could have handled his exodus more graciously.
John’s a class act. And a good and smart man. Notre Dame will miss him.
— ABC News (@ABC) January 15, 2019
Honestly, this is how we feel when we really gotta go but we still know we’ve got to put the key in both downstairs doors in our building, then climb five flights of stairs, then we get into the apartment and into the bathroom, zip down and….ahhhhhh. We feel you, Mr. Whale.
Rock Around The Clock
If this wasn’t the birth of rock and roll on television—no, wait, it was. Elvis may have been the baptism, but this appearance by Bill Haley & His Comets on Milton Berle’s Texaco Star Theater on May 31, 1955 was the first communion between rock and roll and television. Six weeks later, on July 9, 1955, this song would become the first rock-and-roll tune to hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts. Almost one month later, on Sunday, August 7, Haley and the Comets became the first of many iconic rock acts to perform on The Ed Sullivan Show.
East Of Eden
8 p.m. TCM
Too fast to live/Too young to die/Bye bye. James Dean, the original Brad Pitt, was only 24 when he passed. Before doing so, he had three major roles: In Giant (his last film, 1956 release), in Rebel Without A Cause (his signature film, October ’55 release) and in this, his breakout role (March ’55 release). Of the three, this is the only movie that was in theaters before Dean died in an auto accident not far from this film’s Salinas, Calif., setting, on Sept. 30, 1955. Before landing the role in this movie directed by the legendary Elia Kazan, Dean had to meet and get the approval of this classic novel’s author: John Steinbeck.
He was nominated, but did not win, for a Best Actor Oscar posthumously for this role: the first time the Academy Awards ever did this.