IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

Starting Five

Fuchsia? Really?

1. Save the Tiger (Talk)

If you want to look at it one way, Tiger Woods shot par over his final 16 holes in the first round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, his first event in five months. From another perspective, he finished 2-over and is tied for 104th place. From yet another perspective, he is dating Lindsey Vonn. 

It was the first round of the first tournament of the season. That’s why my hed is not “Tiger Beaten.” It was a bizarre day, a dreary day in the desert, meteorologically illogical. Woods hasn’t played here in 14 years. A strange welcome back.

Update: Tiger shot a 44 on the front nine on Friday, his worst half round in like, ever. Never mind.

2. Suge Life

Meet the star of “Fast and Furious 8″

So, two men get into an argument with rap mogul Suge Knight on the set of “Straight Outta Compton” (Rule 62: NEVER argue with Suge Knight). The pair head off to a restaurant where, 20 minutes later, according to eyewitnesses, Knight ran them down in a truck and then put that motorized buggy into reverse and finished the job.

One man died and Knight has been charged with murder. He is being held on $2 million bail at the West Hollywood jail. According to this story, the other victim “is expected to survive his injuries,” though I would have added, “especially if his story corroborates Suge’s, that it was all an unfortunate accident.”

Good luck finding a homie who will take the stand and say that it looked like a deliberate act. Sure Knight was shot SIX times last year and survived. Never bet against Suge.

3. Boogie, Down. Why?

Hey, man, you’re (not) an All-Star (but you should be)

Update: I wrote this BEFORE Yahoo’s! incomparable (and unspellable) Adrian Wojnaroski  broke the news that Boogie will replace Kobe Bryant on the West squad. But you have to suffer through it all the same.

 

The NBA All-Star reserve rosters were named yesterday and the most glaring omission (or “snub”) has to be DeMarcus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings. Yes, “Boogie” has missed 12 of 44 games, but he has 26 double doubles (in 32 games) and only four players have more (the most is 29, by Pau Gasol, who will start on the Eastern Conference All-Star team).

Cousins is the ONLY player in the NBA who is in the top five in scoring (5th, with 23.8 ppt) and rebounding (3rd, 12.3 per game), but, you know, he doesn’t do KIA ads or State Farm ads and there is a perception out there that he’s a thug, or how else do asinine tweets such as this from Clay Travis–the five-year mark just passed– go unpenalized?

“There is a 100% chance that DeMarcus Cousins is arrested for something in the next five years. 100%. Write it in stone.”

I get it. It’s just an All-Star Game. But it’s also a barometer of how marketable a player is, which affects that player’s income (I’d say “livelihood” but that implies that they’re having trouble getting by…they’re not). Cousins belongs in the All-Star Game. So does DeAndre Jordan of the Clippers, who leads the NBA in Rebounding and Field Goal % and is second in Blocks. Finally, so does Orlando’s Nikola Vucevic, who is second in the NBA in double-doubles with 28.

4. Go Away, Little Girl

Kenyan marathoner Rita Jeptoo, 33, has been banned from competition for the next TWO years by Athletics Kenya after both her samples came back positive for EPO doping. Jet has won the past two Boston Marathons and past two Chicago Marathons. She will not receive the $500,000 that she was scheduled to collect as the winner of last year’s “World Marathon Majors,” which is a carrot dangled in front of athletes by the world’s top eight marathons (Boston, Chicago, London, Berlin, Tokyo, New York, Olympics, IAAF Worlds).

I’m reminded of what Lance Armstrong said earlier this week: “If I had it to do over again, I still would have cheated.”

5. Winter is Not Coming (in print)

Working title: “How the Westeros was Won”

I’m midway through the fourth Game of Thrones “novel.” I can’t remember the last time I was reading a book that was not set in Westeros. And, to be honest, the surfeit of characters and lineage has taken over my entire life. I barely remember my birthday and when things go wrong I say things like, “Seven hells!”

And after all that work, I’m beginning to think there will not be a payoff: Author George R.R. Martin is apparently having greater difficulty finishing his books than I am. Uh-oh. The next book, The Winds of Winter, is not anywhere close to being completed.

At least we have the HBO season 5 trailer. 

An aside: There are a few plot changes in the show. In every instance, I think the HBO producers have improved upon Martin’s original plot line.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

Starting Five

Jerian Grant led all players in points (23) and assists (12), while Duke’s Jahlil Okafor had a game-high 17 boards.

1. 1001? No, 20-2

After last night’s 77-73 defeat of No. 4 Duke in South Bend, the Fighting Irish are 20-2. The last time a Notre Dame football team won 20 of 22 games was during the 1992 and 1993 football seasons under Lou Holtz. It’s the hoops team’s best start since 1973-74, when they finished 26-3.

Notre Dame trailed by 10 in the second half. They trailed by 18 at North Carolina State on Sunday (and won)…by 12 in the second half to Miami (and won)…and by 12 at Georgia Tech (and won)–all in the past two weeks.

Coach K is going to have to wait at least until Saturday for his next palindromic win (1001) if not longer: Duke will visit No. 2 Virginia, the nation’s top scoring defense team. The Blue Devils get the Irish back  home at Cameron a week from Saturday (Feb. 7).

2. Make Him an Offer

Bruere actually out dueled Michigan-bound quarterback Zach Gentry in a state semi-final win, passing for 554 yards and 3 TDs

This is Easton Bruyere. He carries a 3,75 GPA, stands 6-3 and weighs a little more than 200 pounds, and led his team to a 13-0 record and a state championship in the largest division while throwing 49 touchdown passes.

Where’s he headed to college? He’ll tell you as soon as some school, any school, offers him a scholarship. Terrific find by Sanjay Kirpalani of Bleacher Report on how this gem has fallen through the cracks.

The popular argument is that Bruyere, who attends Rio Rancho H.S. in New Mexico, is a victim of the Land of Enchantment’s sparse population and unimpressive football reputation. I think it’s because he sounds like something you’d purchase at Murray’s Cheese Shop.

3. Ave Maria!

Sharapova channeling her inner Navratilova….

Where would Maria Sharapova be without the Williams sisters, Serena and Venus? Consider that the siblings, ages 33 and 34, respectively, have between them won 25 Grand Slam singles titles. In third place among current tennis players: Sharapova, who could gain her sixth when she plays in the women’s final at the Australian Open tomorrow.

Although Sharapova is, like, in a nine-way tie for 22nd-most Grand Slam titles (she’d move into a six-way tie for 17th spot with a win), there are only eight other women who, like her,  have won at least one Grand Slam at all four tournaments, and that list is pretty impressive: Court, Graf, Evert, Navratilova, Serena, King, Mo Connolly, and Doris Hart.

The 6-2 Russian will never catch Serena (18), but since she is only 27 she still has a good chance of passing Venus (7). And she’ll always wonder where she’d rank all-time if Richard Williams hadn’t been such a well-meaning martinet of a dad.

4. Another Local Phoenix Kid With Talent…

Remember when I told you about that dude from the band The Format who turned out to be Nate Ruess, who went on to become the lead singer of fun.? You don’t? Well, I swear I did. And remember how I always drone on and on about Roger Clyne? Oh, yes, that you remember.

Anyway, this is the band Jared & The Mill, and they’ll open for Darrius Rucker at the Bird’s Nest on Friday night. This is the concert that accompanies the Waste Management Phoenix Open. You’ll like him/them. I like to think of him/them as “Son of Mumford and Sons.”

5. Roam, If You Want To…

\In 1997 your author ran a marathon in Antarctica. I had a good time even if I did not particularly run a good time. What I do remember was meeting a coterie of humans I came to refer to as “The Been There, Done That Honor Society.”

Why? “If you think the Mount Everest Marathon is good, you should try the Kilimanjaro Marathon…” or “Yes, I’ve run two marathons in one day,” etc. Anyway, someone finally figured out how to corral these types for an even greater pay day: seven marathons on seven continents in seven days. Can you imagine the jet lag, much less the wear-and-tear on the body?

In case you were wondering: 10 runners each paid $36,000. The flight plan was Antarctica, Chile, Florida, Madrid, Marrakech, Dubai, Sydney.

Remote Patrol

Parenthood

NBC 10 p.m.

In the series finale, everyone goes shopping at Crate & Barrel and then meets up later at Trader Joe’s. Be sure to watch!

It’s the series finale of the most beloved hate-watched show of Medium Happy’s own Katie McCollow. Will Lorelia marry Everybody Loves Raymond? Will Hayden Fox finally tell the wife from “Presumed Innocent” that he knows she did it? Will Dax Shepard pull off his wig to reveal that he’s Zach Braff? Will everyone wonder how many more seasons this show might have had if they’d just had an adorable gay couple and a Latina with a spicy rack?

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

Starting Five

Apple attributed much of its success to the fact that its iPhones glass cases break when you drop them, obliging you to purchase a new one. “We must eliminate Otter!” boomed CEO Tim Cook

1. Apple Sauce

Apple’s quarterly earnings report, announced after the closing bell yesterday, was….fruitful.

In the last three months of 2014, the tech monolith sold 74.5 million phones…and showed profits of $18.4 billion (equivalent to $8.3 million per hour). In short, it was the GREATEST PROFIT any company has ever shown in one quarter in the history of man.

So Tim Cook is all like, I may be no Steve Jobs, but I think I can put that on my resume.

I’m so, so glad that the company took my suggestion in the late 90s to remove the “Sn-” from the beginning of its name and to stop focusing so much on refreshing iced tea-based beverages.

The stock is up nearly 8% ($8.57) to $117 this morning, which equates to $819 per share based on the 7-for-1 stock split Apple did last spring. Consider that you could’ve bought Apple for less than $400 per share just 17 months ago and for under $500 a share a year ago today.

2. Media Daze

Life was better then. That’s Brent Musburger to the far left….

Marshawn Lynch: Beast Mode.

Richard Sherman: Beats Mode.

Bill Belichick: Gnome Alone.

3. Finals Preview? (with apologies to ATL)

The game winner: Derrick Rose to the occasion….

The Chicago Bulls visited ORACLE Arena for the first and only time of the 2014-15 regular season last night, and it was a doozy. El Toros, who only eight days ago were being pilloried by their point guard, Derrick Rose, in the media after dropping their sixth game o the previous eight at Cleveland, have awakened.

Last night in overtime in Oakland, Chicago took down the NBA’s top team, the Warriors, 113-111. It was only Golden State’s second home loss of the season, and its first after 19 straight home wins.

As for Rose? He became only the second player in NBA history to miss at least 20 shots (13 of 33) and commit at least 10 turnovers (11) in a game, after Jason Kidd. He also scored a (tied with Klay Thompson) game-high 30 points, including the game-winner with 0:07 remaining in OT.

Yeah, this would be a terrific NBA Finals matchup…

4. Kids We Will Care A LOT About in the Coming Week and Then, For a Year After, Not So  Much

Defensive end Byron Cowart, the top-rated recruit per Rivals, has yet to publicly announce his favored school (UF, FSU and Auburn appear to be favorites). Here he poses with a ball from the AFC Championship Game.

Notre Dame fans, remember offensive lineman Quenton Nelson? He was the jewel of last year’s Fighting Irish recruiting class. And he’ll probably still turn out to be an NFL player. But he never saw the field last season. Neither did wide receiver Justin Brent, though he did gain a certain amount of blog-worthy notoriety. Brent will also turn out to be a stud.

All of which is to say that some of the names on this Rivals 100 recruiting listNational Signing Day is a week from today –will be renowned next season (Nick Chubb!), but others may appear to vanish for a year….

5. Guilty

Vandenburg, a 6-6, 250-lb tight end

Sadly, you could almost program an entire new ESPN channel on student-athlete related campus rape (The Wronghorn Network?). Yesterday former Vanderbilt football players Brandon Vandenburg and Cory Batey were found guilty on multiple charges of rape against a female Vanderbilt student in 2013.

The jury deliberated just three hours following a two-week trial.

The details of the incident are disturbing, but no more so than the defense that was used to try to win both former players an acquittal (“It was the football team culture”). The entire rape took place when the woman was passed out and the players, who incriminated themselves by taking video on their own cell phones (they should be put away for five years simply for being that stupid), treated her like a blow-up doll.

‘Don’t blame the culture,” said prosecutor Glenn Funk. “Don’t blame alcohol. Don’t blame the victim. Sexual violence is a crime and it will be prosecuted.’

Take the validity of the following at your own discretion, but a Buzzfeed story on the incident–very well reported, by the way–names a source who claims to be “99.9% sure” that then Vanderbilt coach James Franklin saw the camera phone footage and urged the players –both of whom had yet to play a down for Vandy due either to transferring or red-shirting–to delete the evidence.

If that proves to be true down the line, well, you do know where Franklin is now coaching: Penn State.

Turner, a freshman who swam in the 2012 Olympic Trials, has been charged with five counts of felony rape….

Oh, meanwhile in Palo Alto, a Stanford swimmer was involved in a bizarre rape of an unconscious woman last week, which was taking place outside on campus. Vanderbilt and Stanford. These are a pair of Top 20 academic schools that compete at the Division I level.

Remote Patrol

No. 4 Duke at No. 8 Notre Dame

ESPN2 7:30 p.m.

It has been 41 seasons since the Fighting Irish (19-2) had a record this good this deep into the season. That, of course, was the year that Notre Dame finished 26-3 and ended UCLA’s record 88-game win streak. That was also a year before Mike Krzyzewski got his first head coaching gig. Coach K, as you know, won his 1,000th career game on Sunday. Duke’s 6-11 frosh Jahlil Okafor averages 18.5 points and nine rebounds a game for the Blue Devils (17-2) and will be the No. 1 pick in June’s NBA draft. Notre Dame’s Jerian Grant, who missed the spring semester last year due to academic issues, has resurrected his career (16.8 points and 6 assists per game)

 

 

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

Starting Five

My Lamborghini is under there somewhere…

1. Edward Snowed In

More than two feet of snow in parts of New England yesterday (although some would say we’ve been getting a snow job out of New England the past week… Hey-O!). Meteorologists are apologizing for not having adequately predicted the magnitude of the storm, but are all quick to remind us that “they are not a scientist.”

Anyway…it’s a snow storm. It’s January. These things happen in the Northeast. It has a name, Juno, and much like its cinematic namesake, it seems to be a sleeper hit. And while it hit Boston worse than New York City, it could still be deadly as one teen unfortunately discovered.

2. “Check Out the (Partially Deflated) Balls On This Guy!”

Kraft services (his ego)

Robert Kraft: I believe unconditionally that the New England Patriots have done nothing inappropriate in this process or in violation of NFL rules….”

Okay, fair enough. You’re the owner, Bob, and you have every right to state that.

Kraft: “Tom, Bill and I have been together for 15 years. They are my guys. They are part of my family…”

Which is exactly why, if any of the three of you had done something untoward, that the other two of you are the last people we’d expect to see rat him or them out. Point deducted.

The NFL has identified a locker room attendant and is interviewing him vigorously at the moment

Kraft: “If the (Ted) Wells investigation is not able to definitively determine that our organization tampered with the air pressure on the footballs, I would expect and hope that the league would apologize to our entire team and, in particular, coach [Bill] Belichick and Tom Brady for what they have had to endure this past week…”

Um, no. All that is known for certain is that 11 of the 12 footballs were under inflated a significant amount. That is grounds for an investigation. And then you apply Occam’s Razor, which is to say that the most obvious, least convoluted explanation is the most likely. That’s not a conviction. That’s a starting point. The league is obliged to investigate. Media is inclined to investigate.

Granted, some members of the media, most notably Mark Brunell, Jerome Bettis and Brian Dawkins on ESPN, flat-out stated that they believed Brady was lying. IF the league finds ANOTHER highly valid explanation for what happened, the people who called Brady a liar owe him an apology. If, however, the league fails to find anyone guilty of deflating the balls and finds no other suitable explanation, all that means is that the mystery remains unsolved. And in that case, no one is OWED an apology.

But good bluster there, Mr. Kraft…

3. Go Hens?!?

Staley, 44, would be only the second African-American coach, male or female, to lead her team to an NCAA championship, after Carolyn Peck at Purdue (1999)

For years (decades?) the top team in women’s college basketball hailed from the SEC East. This season that appears to be the case, also, except that the school is not Tennessee, but rather South Carolina (Female Gamecocks? Hmm?).

Anyway, whatever they call themselves, South Carolina is ranked No. 1 and 19-0 after last night’s 79-61 defeat of No. 12 Texas A&M. Props to former three-time All-American Dawn Staley, who believe it or not (I didn’t) is already in her seventh season as coach in Columbia.

In each of the past three seasons SoCaro has won at least 25 games and has advanced to the Sweet 16 twice. Are they ready for prime time? We’ll see one week from Monday (Feb. 9), when Staley takes her team up to Storrs to face No. 2 Connecticut. Dawn versus Geno. A couple of Philly kids. So you know he respects her. Game of the Year in women’s college hoops.

4. Enter Landman

A landman is someone who negotiates oil and gas rights. In other words, Daniel Plainview had it right all along. He DRINKS YOUR MILKSHAKE!

Landman??? That sounds like the lamest superhero ever, but it’s not. It is, according to CNN/Money, the third-best career in America (While Aquaman scoffs). Here’s the list. I didn’t bother going all the way down to see if journalist/sportswriter/steakateria server made it.

Also, I think “Taylor Swift” is at least one of the top five jobs in the country, no?

5. Shift Be Real

So try to hit it down the third base line… No, it’s not easy. Nether is hitting a 96 mph fastball.

Did I hear that correctly? New MLB commissioner Rob Manfred (man and his Earth Band) is contemplating making shifts illegal? And I don’t mean, like, graveyard shifts. I mean defensive shifts.

That’s just wrong. Any time, in or out of sport, that one seeks to penalize innovation that is done within the rules, that’s just the men in power attempting to preserve their antiquated status quo (see: Automakers versus Tesla, or white guys outlawing the dunk in college when Lew Alcindor arrived). This is nonsense.

It’s the oldest law in baseball: Hit ‘em where they ain’t. Doesn’t say anything about where they’re supposed to be. It worries me when we have people who have so little wisdom in such powerful positions, and yet it happens all the time.

Remote Patrol

All The President’s Men

TCM 10 p.m.

So you’re telling us there are going to be staff cuts?

A film about a pair of muckraking journalists who persist in investigating what many first believe is a relatively minor incident. I see no crossover here at all. Move along….

Meanwhile, Robert Redford goes from teaming up with Paul Newman in a pair of early ’70s films to partnering with Dustin Hoffman.

 

It’s All Happening!

Starting Five

Between them, 1,902 wins and seven national championships as coaches

1. Coach K: 1K

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski earns his 1,000th career win in his 40th season of Division I basketball with yesterday’s 77-68 defeat of St. John’s at Madison Square Garden. I learned to spell his name without having to back at about 900 wins.

The only other D-I coaches with at least 900 wins are Coach K’s mentor, Bob Knight, who retired with 902 victories (and three national titles as a coach; one as a player) and Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim, who has 962 and should hit the milestone, if not next season, then definitely in 2016-17. Boeheim would become the first to win 1,000 at one school, most likely, as 73 of Coach K’s wins took place at Army. In fact, Boeheim is already the only coach with more than 900 wins to have not coached at West Point.

Statham: Mama said knock you out!

Two other names to know: Harry Statham, who has 1,083 career wins, all of them at NAIA school McKendree (he’s still active) since 1966; and Danny Miles, who has 1,013 at Oregon Tech (also still active) since 1971.

 2. Galaxy Quest

Vega is the granddaughter of the 1953 Miss Atlantico (Colombia)

That’s Pauline Vega, 22, from Colombia. She was crowned Miss Universe last night although, out of the final five contestants (USA, Jamaica, Ukraine, Philippines and her) it was clear that the audience was decidedly in the corner of Miss Jamaica (as was I). The only finalist with a short ‘do, Kaci Fennell was decidedly the most poised and intelligent of the quintet–and finished fifth.

Listen, I know I prattle on ENTIRELY too much about this. But, if you’re going to stage a pageant that transcends the 9.8 meters per second squared gravitational bounds, at least do us all a favor and put competent judges on the panel (DeSean Jackson? Giancarlo Stanton? Manny Pacquiao? Lisa VanderPump?). These young ladies have worked (and starved) too hard for such caprice.

I normally don’t like Fennell (more of a kale guy myself), but this one suited the palate

Second, Donald Trump, what a shoddy and unprofessional broadcast. It’s basically an infomercial for the host city, for Trump, for a few associated products. Also, the ratio of air time to ad time was abominable. I may just boycott –and girlcott– the entire production next year.

“Do-do, do-do-do-do-do, oh I Miss U(kraine)”

Vega was a safe choice. Beautiful, sure, but all these leggy South American babes tend to become indistinguishable from one another after awhile. Of the last seven winners, four have hailed from South America. Fennell, or even Miss Ukraine, who fearlessly answered her question by noting that her country needs to rebuild its army (take that, Putin), would have been better choices.

3. The Mouth That Roars

Chummy, Goodell and Kraft

The Seattle Seahawks had barely deplaned yesterday when cornerback Richard Sherman was asked whether he believed the New England Patriots would be punished for Ballghazi before Super Bowl XLIX.

“Will they be punished?,” Sherman repeated the question. “Probably not. Not as long Robert Kraft and Roger Goodell are still taking pictures at their respective homes. (Goodell) was just at Kraft’s house last week before the AFC Championship. Talk about conflict of interest. As long as that happens, it won’t affect them at all.”

As one national newspaper put in its headline today, “The Problem With Richard Sherman Is That He’s Always Right.” Sherman may already be the best cornerback in pro football, but he’s also as smart and candid as any professional athlete currently working. Watch and see: he will eventually join the elite group of Muhammad Ali and Charles Barkley as game-changers in terms of candor amongst African-American athletes. I put Ali in a league by himself, but Sherman may eclipse Barkley.

By the way, the New England Patriots also flew to Phoenix yesterday. No word on whether or not their plane’s cabin was adequately pressurized.

4. SAG-acity

Eddie Redmayne won Best Actor (as he did at the Golden Globes) and I desperately wanted him to open his acceptance speech with “I am not a scientist…”

Awards, awards, awards. You only really need to tune into the first two minutes of the Screen Actors Guild awards, because that’s the best part: when a few selected actors put down their forks just long enough to provide a (hopefully) amusing confessional. Last night’s best was from Robert Duvall, although I liked Zack Galifianakis’ short and to-the-point rendition.

If anyone involved with the production of this telecast is reading this, here is my sincerest wish: Next year, cut to a waiter or waitress who is clearing a table and let them do an up-close-and-personal confessional: it may be JUST the career break they need.

5. Tragedy in Phoenix

This is from last week, but in case you missed it…Erica Morales, 36, gave birth to quadruplets last week in Phoenix but died in childbirth. The babies were born nearly two months prematurely but all seem to be doing well. If you want to donate to the family, a cousin, Nicole Todman, has set up this site.

Remote Patrol

Sons of Liberty

History 9 p.m.

“I seem to have misplaced my Kevlar vest…”

In this episode Jax must decide between fatherhood and a biker gang—oh, wait, that’s Sons of Anarchy. Anyway…this is Part 2 of a 3-part History Channel special about how a group of “savages” rebelled against an authoritative state that was occupying its land with a more traditional military force. Hmmmm…..

 

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

Starting Five

The NFL has put these two in charge of inflating the footballs at Super Bowl XLIX

1. PSI: Foxboro*

(The judges will also accept ‘Tomfoolery’)

Bill Belichick came off as more believable than Tom Brady yesterday. Re-read that sentence.

On ESPN afterward, former NFL quarterback Mark Brunell flatly stated, “I just didn’t believe what Tom Brady had to say.”

Brady said “balls” a lot. There’s a gay porn film that you could entirely dub over with Brady quotes from this presser. But you’ll have to go ask someone else for a copy. I mean, I already lent out my copy of Ryan Fitzpatrick to Markazi.

Brady also said, “This isn’t ISIS.” He’s right, but you know, what is?

Also, the ever-witty Cecil Hurt mused that it’s a shame Air Supply won’t be the Super Bowl XLIX halftime act.

2. Film Nerd Item

Forgetting Infinite Jest

The Sundance Film Festival: one of those things I hope to do right after I purchase that pair of snakeskin cowboy boots (or cowboy-skin cowboy boots; I’m not picky), summit Kilminjaro and be one of ESPN’s “Backgammon Insiders.” Anyway, it began yesterday in the town with the two common nouns name and ends on Super Bowl Sunday. Here’s five films among many that you are permitted to “highly anticipate”:

5) Last Days in the Desert….Ewan McGregor as Jesus Christ

4) Z for Zachariah….A post-apocalyptic world where the only survivors are Margot Robbie, Chris Pine and Chiwetel Ejiofor. Did someone just say, “Menage a trois plus biracial?”

3) The End of the Tour– Jason Segel as David Foster Wallace, during a five-day interview with Rolling Stone writer David Lipsky, played by Jesse Eisenberg, whom I already think was the kid who played William Miller in Almost Famous even though he wasn’t. The article never actually ran, but Lipsky turned the notes into a book. Take that, Ben Fong-Torres!

2) Digging for Fire — Anna Kendrick and Sam Rockwell. I’m in.

1) Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck — The first authorized biopic on the King of Grunge. If you’re keeping score, that’s our third messianic figure on this list.

 3. This Saudi, He’s Outie

Despite being one of the world’s wealthiest men, the “Abullah” never caught on as a facial hair look

King Abdullah bin Abulaziz al Saud, the king of Saudi Arabia, has died at the age of 90. Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest exporter of oil, is No. 1 in oil reserves, and is also No. 1 in homegrown men who actively took part in 9/11, not that we ever pointed the finger at them (maybe because of those other two things that Saudi Arabia is No. 1 in).

Oh, well. All accounts seem to portray Abdullah, who took the throne just 10 years ago but had actively been running the nation since 1996 (still, not until after his 70th birthday), as a good egg who championed a moderate Arab nation.

4. Hkakabo Razi

Tigers. Poisonous snakes. Ethnic rebels. And a 19,000-foot summit. And you feel good about yourself because you found the short line at Whole Foods. Here’s National Geographic with a mesmerizing story about a team of climbers scaling Myanmar’s tallest peak.

5. The Circle Is Real

Spartz: Highly intelligent and successful….but is there any soul beneath?

If you’ve read David Eggers’ The Circle, then you know it’s a dystopian novel about a Google-like company where quality and vitality are not just related: they are identical.

Meet Emerson Spartz, a 27 year-old alumnus of (I’m sorry to say) Notre Dame who, as this New Yorker profile calls him, is “the king of clickbait.” It’s an ominous and somewhat terrifying profile by Andrew Marantz, but then he and I are “old media.’

“A beautiful book?” says Spatz, who was raised in LaPorte, Ind. “I don’t even know what that means.”

Miss Universe Update

Ohhhh, Canada

That’s Miss Canada, Chanel Beckenlehner, wearing quite the inspired costume in a prelim at Miss Universe (there are prelims?). Anyway, my first thought was: High sticking!

Remote Patrol

Real Time with Bill Maher

HBO 10 p.m.

Agree or disagree, Maher’s show offers far more intriguing policy talk than the Sunday morning network shows. Somehow, I imagine they’ll find a way to discuss Ballghazi, too.

 

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

Starting Five

Chris Kyle, the “American Sniper”

1. Bullet Park

Until Chris Corbellini graces us with a review of American Sniper, my thoughts:

–Based on what I saw in the film (I have not read the book), Chris Kyle was the perfect soldier. Why? Because he was mission-oriented and not policy-oriented. He never asked WHY we were there; he only asked how he could best protect his fellow soldiers. I’m not arguing that makes him the ideal person, just the ideal soldier.

–Raised in Texas; joins the SEALs; heads over to Iraq. Kyle’s story reminded me some of Marcus Luttrell’s (“Lone Survivor”), although Luttrell is, of course, still alive.

–It’s a good, not great, film. Yes, Cooper is terrific, but almost all of his most effective and pathos-dripping scenes are available in one of two trailers I’d already seen (one for TV ads, another that appears as a previews tease in theaters). In fact,  I think it’s a far more compelling trailer than it is a film, which explains the massive first January weekend in sales.

–The director, Clint Eastwood, and the screenwriter, Jason Hall, did a solid job of making Kyle three-dimensional. He wasn’t overly concerned with enlightenment–Kyle was the perfect Bush/Cheney pawn, a young man who loved America and desired to serve and protect it, and of course there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just that, well, was this a just war? Kyle never questioned that, although one or two other characters in the film do.

–There were moments in the film when I thought, If this were a war fantasy film with no identifiable sides, would any audience be cheering for the side that possessed the overwhelming force and had seemingly indestructible vehicles and armor, the side that were technically the invaders? I’m not trying to draw anyone into a political debate, it’s just that, watching the film if you were an alien, would you really be rooting for the side Kyle was on? Why?

–Finally, I think future generations will hear the term “War on Terror” and either laugh or pity us. Or laugh or pity anyone who actually seriously used that term. I read “Comments” section missives about how what Kyle was doing was so important because he “was saving American lives.” As if American lives are more important than anyone else’s. I mean, Arizona lives, sure. But American?

This particular Bradley Cooper film is 100% Jennifer Lawrence-free…I think

–SPOILER ALERT: How’d you like to be the guy who auditioned for/landed the role of “creepy veteran who will murder our hero and is only introduced in the final scene?” His name is Vincent Selhorst-Jones and it turns out, he LOVES Physics.

–I always have time for what Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone has to say. While he takes no prisoners (and place them in Abu Ghraib?) in his commentary on the film, he makes some strong points. One of Taibbi’s biggest arguments (mine, too) of the past decade is that we’ve become so blind to thinking America is always right that we’ve stopped trying to suss out what is inherently right or wrong. As a country, we’ve become S-E-C homers. And it’s scary to watch.

2. Cinnabon Can Wait

A Goodman is easy to find

“I’ll just say it,” writes Stephen Marche in Esquire, “the first few episodes (of Better Call Saul) that I saw are better than Breaking Bad. They are smarter. They are sharper. I have never seen a prequel handled so cleverly.”

As Andy Samberg-as-Nicholas Cage might say, “High praise.”

Walter White’s consigliere has his own show on AMC (premieres Feb. 8) and it sounds as if Bob Odenkirk is about to do for defense attorneys what Hugh Laurie once did for docs.

3. “I Am Not a Crook!”

And it’s on to Seattle (or Glendale)

Bill Belichick appears at a press conference and maintains “I had no knowledge whatsoever about the situation until Monday morning….”

So Bill went all in…

Some people think BB threw his quarterback of 15 seasons under the bus, but that’s ludicrous. They’ve had more than 24 hours to coordinate their stories. This isn’t L.A. Confidential where Tom Brady and Belichick were put in different holding cells and played against one another.

Will Brady, who speaks at 4 p.m., also claim no knowledge? Or will he fall on his sword, flash his GQ grin, and hope the NFL suspends him from appearing in Uggs ads for the next year?

The Pats are gambling that the NFL will not impose a Super Bowl-related suspension, which is all they care about. Belichick, Brady and Kraft have not won a Super Bowl since 2005, an entire decade. Monetary fines do not worry them; not closing their careers with one more Vince Lombardi Trophy does.

Your move, Commissioner Goodell.

Meanwhile, I’m hoping a media member plays this tune as Brady enters his presser….

4. Plitt Falls

No, this is not your MH writer, though I can understand how you’d make that error…

Faster than a locomotive...” is a nice line for Superman but, despite that impressive torso, Greg Plitt was not born on the planet Krypton. The reality television star (<– oxymoron alert) died last weekend, according to TMZ, when he attempted to outrace a train as a stunt to promote an energy drink. Plitt finished second.

5. The Corrections

Miss Great Britain (red) and Miss Germany work on their short game

Pardon our irrational exuberance. The staff at Medium Happy improperly stated the date of the 2015 Miss Universe pageant as last night on NBC when actually it will be this Sunday night on NBC at 8 p.m. Medium Happy regrets the error. A reminder that every continent save Antarctica (Africa, Asia, Australia, North America and South America) has had at least one winner since the last time Europe, the bastion of western civilization –although the objectification of females is a planetary phenomenon– won. You’re due, Europe, and so we present Misses Great Britain and Germany….

Meanwhile, here’s hoping the judges properly inspect the bikini tops before the competition. We don’t need another Sunday sports event scandal…

Remote Patrol

Unforgiven

Encore 9:50 p.m.

I know what you’re thinking, punk….

Remember when Clint Eastwood was the American sniper? Here’s his 1993 Oscar winner for Best Picture, which beat out A Few Good Men, which I hope we can all agree was a superior film. Oscar really needs a five-year rule on Best Picture nominees, kind of like the Baseball Hall of Fame….

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

Starting Five

1. Miss “Une a Versailles?”

We’ve moved “Remote Patrol” up to the pole position (“Scwhiiiiing!”) this morning in honor of the winter’s most anticipated sporting event: yes, the Miss Universe Pageant live from Miami (8 p.m., NBC). It’s like a slightly more objectified and yet less objectionable version of The Bachelor, what with its attention to diversity.

La femme jolie is Camille Cerf, who stands five-foot-eleven and according to the Miss Universe website, “is a twin, but does not look like her sister” (the Fates can be so cruel).

Listen. I am universally awful at handicapping Miss Universe pageants, but I’ll give you my five favorites anyway (and, yes, there is wagering on this event): France (my favorite), Russia (“Yulia always gets bruises and normally has no idea where she got them from“….um, I have an idea), Colombia (South America is a perennial favorite in the World Cup and the D-Cup), Australia (most Baywatch-able) and Lithuania (bad weather and an awful diet and yet Eastern Europe consistently produces top-notch talent! How do they do it? Viking genes…I’d have easily slid in Serbia of Slovak Republic here, too).

Miss France: We are in au…revoir

Another reason je t’aime France, besides her charm (“Cerf’s Up!”) and the overwhelming audience empathy for her country: a purely European nation –Russia’s a Euro/Asia straddler–has not won the title since 1990. She’s due. Or, as a twin, she’s deux.

2. Swaggy P

“I have no more campaigns left to run…”

Pause, followed by partisan applause from some of the members of Congress.

“I know, cuz I won both of ‘em.”

ROASTED!

3. Under Pressured

Hoodie-lum?

Did the New England Patriots intentionally deflate 11 of the 12 footballs they used in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game victory against the Indianapolis Colts?

If they did, that order came directly from the top: Bill Belichick.

If you think that the game’s outcome –45-7– should play any role in how the NFL decides its punishment, i.e., if your argument is that the Patriots’ margin of victory illustrates that they did not need to cheat to win and hence who cares, well, I’m sorry that your parents did not do a better job.

At the very, very least —IF the Pats are guilty–Bill Belichick should get the Luis Suarez treatment and be banned from ALL football-related activities until after the Super Bowl. And you’d probably want to lock him up in the cell next to Hernandez to prevent him from finding a way around that ruling.

But me? I really wouldn’t mind seeing the Patriots kicked out of SB XLIX and sending the Colts instead. Roger Goodell botched one ruling six months ago by being far too lenient. an he really afford to make that mistake again?

4. Hawkmen

Can he play the 2 position? Or the 5?

Monday afternoon. MLK Day. The Atlanta Hawks, 27-2 since Thanksgiving (think about that for a moment) are hosting the Detroit Pistons in the first annual “Aren’t We Glad We Got Rid of Josh Smith?” Game. Anyway, the Hawks win.

Afterward, on a special live edition of the Grantland Basketball Hour on either ESPN or ESPN2 (for sentiment’s sake, let’s say it aired on “The Ocho”), Jalen Rose suggests that the Hawks deserve to place three players on the Eastern Conference All-Star roster. The Sports Guy agrees.

“Al Horford, Jeff Teague and Paul Millsap,” says Rose.

“What about Kyle Korver?” asks Simmons.

Cut to a few hours later. The TNT guys are having the same discussion. Kenny the Jet and Barkley chime in that the Hawks have three All-Stars this season: Horford, Teague and Millsap.

“No mention of Kyle Korver?” asks Ernie Johnson.

The two exchanges illustrate a couple of truisms: First, even on MLK Day, or perhaps especially on MLK Day, we are all still prone to racial bias, even if it is without malice; second, I watch entirely too much television.

It’s funny. At first I thought it was heresy to suggest Korver, in his 13th season, should NOT make his first All-Star team. He’s on pace for a 50-50-90 season, which has never been done. However, Korver is last among these four Hawks in points per game, assists per game and PER. He’s third in rebounds. It’s not so crazy to say he’s below these three in being All-Star worthy.

Then again, the East is pretty bad. Put these four and Jimmy Butler on the squad and you’re probably set. Okay, Susie B., plus LeBron and Kyrie…

5. Nightly, Darkly

Loving Wilmore, 53, and loving the upside down (yes, but from whose perspective?) globe that serves as the backdrop

Two nights into his run, and I like what Larry Wilmore is doing with his Comedy Central offering “The Nightly Show.” (runs after Jon Stewart in most markets) He’s the black guy doing Jon Stewart’s schtick with he moral authority –or at least the DNA–to take on African-American issues without being an outisder.

I’d never call Stewart’s act vanilla (it isn’t), but Wilmore’s is certainly chocolate. On his first night he asked a question I’ve been asking for years, “Why is Al Sharpton the go-to black voice that the media gives a platform to for every racial issue (the Rev never even graduated college)?”

Lsst night Wilmore took on Bill Cosby.We’ll ask the question, Did he do it?…The answer will be yes.”

It would’ve been easy for Wilmore to go Oprah! and discuss the lack of diversity at the Oscars. Instead, he opted not to be a cheerleader but a man who looks under the band-aid. Promising start.

Remote Patrol

Rockets at Warriors

TNT 10:30 p.m.

James, Beard. Harden is a refreshing throwback to the early 70s NBA (and ABA) when hoops was filled with colorful characters….

Oh, this is a treat and a possible Western Conference finals preview. The league’s best team, the Warriors, are 18-1 at home, 33-6 overall and have everyone’s midseason favorite for league MVP, Stephen Curry. Plus, they’re just so damn fun to watch. The Rockets’ (29-13) James Harden is the NBA scoring leader (27.1) for a team that is trying to overcome the loss of Chandler Parsons and the addition of Josh Smith.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

Starting Five

So it’s Open Mic morning here at MH (“or should I say, heh heh, ‘Open Micah’ morning…yes see because, um….waka waka waka”) . Loyal reader and amateur phlebotomist Micah Sage has volunteered to dance around the keys this a.m. and I thought, Hey, why not? So please welcome MS to MH and, honestly, I have no idea if he’s a phlebotomy enthusiast. 

1. Shrinking Balls


Did the Patriots deflate their footballs during Sunday night’s beating of the Colts (the worst loss on a big stage by an Indiana-based football team since Alabama annihilated Notre Dame in the second to last BCS championship game). And is the NFL investigating?

From the sounds of it, the worst that could happen for the Pats is a loss of draft picks. I’m not saying that deflating footballs gives a team an advantage to the point of a 45-7 blowout, but if you cheat in a game, shouldn’t that result in a forfeit? I mean, if a student is caught cheating on just 1 question on a 100-question test, doesn’t that usually result in an F on the test?

We’ve seen this story before, though in the warmer climes of Southern California, with the student manager taking the hit.

Rumors have circulated that Lane Kiffin may make a return to the NFL next year as an Offensive Coordinator. Could this just be Belichick rolling out the red carpet for Lane?

2. MTV Goes Black & White


If you’re one of those people who hasn’t yet cut the cord, you may have seen that MTV went full on 1950s for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, airing all of its programming in black-and-white.

Since I am one of those cord cutters, I can’t confirm, nor deny if MTV actually aired music videos while they went throwback Monday.

Editor’s Note: But if MTV did actually do this, please tell me that they aired THIS video...

 

3. You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Nightmare

If you act now, you can get a Shaw Flank Redemption on your purchase…

One of my biggest fears growing up stemmed from watching Jaws with my older brothers and sisters. I’m the youngest of five, born and raised in St. Louis as a good Catholic who always wanted to do what his older siblings did. As the story goes, said eldest siblings ganged up on me and “forced” me to watch Jaws as a wee one. Nightmares ensued. Back in the pre-CGI era of movie making, this was as scary as it got.

At the pool the ensuing summer, they all convinced me that great white sharks were living under the huge grate in the deep end of the pool. That may explain why I hated swimming in anything deeper than what I could stand with my head above water.

If the terrifying dreams and fear of swimming weren’t enough, this would have completely pushed me over the edge. This Joseph Reginella-built nightmare throne conveniently comes in both crib-size and twin-size so you can scar your newborn and your toddler for life.

4. Evolutionary Science Programming Network?

They’ll be calling tonight’s Kentucky game…

I imagine Norby was not thrilled to see a creation vs. evolution debate play out last week between what is arguably their best college basketball game-calling tandem of Bill Walton & Dave Pasch. Good thing Jay Bilas was there to defuse some tension.

Apparently a similar debate raged over Twitter between two other ESPN personalities in November.

What’s interesting to me is that the Deadspin article portrays Pasch outing himself, words eliciting the same feeling as someone “coming out of the closet.” Since that seems to be the nomenclature we’re going with then I’ll go ahead and “out myself” as being a Creationist, too. I’m far, far from being alone.

For the record, I’m not offended that Bill gave Dave The Origins of Species, or even that it happened on live TV.

5. The Wire: Bushwick

Have you noticed that Saturday Night Live’s best “skits” for awhile now have been their pre-taped pieces? Makes sense: they have more time to work on them. Remember “Do It In My Twin Bed” or “39 Cents?”

Last weekend Kevin Hart was the host and they did a phenomenal job of mashing-up The Wire with the hipsterization of Brooklyn…

Mouse Patrol

Like I said, I’m a cord cutter. My wife and I are Netflix subscribers and get any and all of the free recent episodes of our favorite TV shows via Hulu or network websites. So, as a twist of the typical Remote Patrol, I present Mouse Patrol … what the wife and I will or could be watching online tonight:

Bones Season 9 on Netflix – My wife and I are living in the past (2013) when it comes to one of our favorite shows. Shh! Don’t tell me if they ever catch the Ghost Killer!

 

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

Starting Five

Thanks to all for your concern–about missing Friday’s edition. I can’t really explain it. One minute I was talking to four strangers in a bar and the next I was beaten up and bloodied on a beach with homeless people prodding me. That part I enjoyed. The prodding.

The winning play….

1. Kearsed!

Confucius say, “Coach who settle for pair of one-yard field goals in first quarter is destined to lose.”

I saw it. You saw it. Don’t know how it happened. As horrible as Seattle looked in the first half –and they did–the score was only 16-0 so I didn’t think they were out of it. Then they scored a Fat Guy/Special Teams touchdown (punter Jon Ryan to backup OL Garry Gilliam) and I definitely did not believe they were out of it.

Then the ‘hawks sputtered. Then Russell Wilson, who has taken to growing an Andrew Luck-style beard, threw his fourth INT with less than five minutes to play and I actually said, “That’s it.”

(and I hate it when people call games prematurely, but here I am guilty of it myself)

Anyway, you saw the unlikely comeback. My favorite moment was when Marshawn Lynch scored the go-ahead touchdown and would only extend a polite and business-like handshake to teammates. He’s quite a fellow.

Alan Ameche’s touchdown in the 1958 NFL Championship Game: the last time an NFL playoff game was decided by a touchdown in overtime.

Seattle becomes the first defending Super Bowl champion to return to the contest in 10 years. New England advances to its sixth Super Bowl of the Belichick-Brady era.

You’ll be seeing a lot of this photo in the next two weeks…

 

Meanwhile, New England snuffed the life out of this fun Ric Flair meme. Oh, Sergio Brown, I really never thought I’d see you again after that UConn loss back in South Bend…

For the record..

“I’m a Rolex-wearin’/Diamond ring wearin’/Kiss stealin’/Wheelin’ dealin’/Limousine ridin’/Jet flyin’/Son of a gun/And I’m havin’ a hard time holding’ these alligators down/Now give me two claps and a Ric Flair (Whoooooo!)”

2. Wheels of Fortune

’64 Jaguar

If you think that the rich and powerful will be descending on/escaping to the Valley of the Sun for Super Bowl XLIX in two weeks, well, they’re already here. This past week the Phoenix area hosted about three or four high-end auto auctions. The annual Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Event, staged in Scottsdale, is the best-known, but as one car dealer told me, “It’s a whorehouse.”

The $7.7 Mil Ferrari

That man, by the way, sold his 1961 Jaguar at the Goodingco.Com auction for $363,000. Take a look at the prices these vehicles fetched (the Jag is Lot 123). And while that’s a decent price, this 1959 Ferrari Spider garnered $7,700,000.

3. Mass…of Humanity

Immediately after the service, coffee and doughnuts were served in the basement rectory

On the final day of his three-day pilgrimage to the Philippines, Pope Francis celebrated mass said outdoors for a congregation of SIX MILLION people. That is reportedly a record, breaking Pope John Paul II’s mark of 5 million set in 1995, also in the Philippines. With its 80 million Catholicss, the Philippines are akin to the high-altitude conditions of Denver for record-setting in terms of mass attendance.

4. Vonn Ties Historic Mark

Cow. Tiger. Lindsey is just an animal lover.

A pair of knee surgeries over the past 13 months may have prevented Lindsey Vonn from competing in Sochi, but this weekend in Italy she won a World Cup downhill event, the 62nd of her career. In so doing Vonn tied a 35 year-old record held by Austria’s Annemarie Moser-Proell for the most World Cup wins by a woman (Ingemar Stenmark holds the men’s mark of 86).

Imagine that phone call:

Lindsey: “Honey, do you have any idea what it’s like to hear about a record that some doubted you may ever reach for years and then to finally equal that mark?”

Tiger: “Um…well…the thing of it is…”

5. Joe’s Back!

Last Friday was the best day of Joe Paterno’s death: the NCAA, as part of its settlement with Penn State (read: both sides are tired of paying the lawyers), restored the 111 victories it had wrested from JoePa, giving him 409, making him once again the winningest coach in FBS history. Basically, the NCAA said that that time it told everyone something never happened, never happened.

As for the innocence of the dozens of lads buggered by Jerry Sandusky, the NCAA cannot restore that..

Remote Patrol

Whitney

Lifetime 8 p.m.

It’s been almost three years since Whitney Houston was found dead in a tub in the Beverly Hilton, so Lifetime needed to do this biopic on the erstwhile pop diva, music’s answer to ‘What Can Brown Do To You?” Anyway, Yaya DaCosta, above, landed the title role.