IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

 

“To every politician who is taking money from the NRA, shame on you.”

Starting Five

No Guns, No Gory

In his latest comedy special, “Tamborine,” Chris Rock espouses gun control by noting that rarely does one come across a wholesale knife massacre. “If someone stabbed 100 people to death in one incident, what you’d have is three victims and 97 people who deserved to die.

Rock makes an excellent point. Gun control won’t eliminate murder or even the occasional mass murder in our society, but then drug laws don’t eliminate drugs, either. The entire point is to make them less accessible.

The father who took the killer in says he knew he had “five or six guns” and that he was “depressed,” and knew he owned an “AR-15” rifle but that looking back on it all, he still feels the same about the killer’s right to own all those guns. The father made the killer put the guns in “a gun safe” but was too stupid to realize the killer had a second key.

America won’t change until Americans respect lives more than guns. Alas, not enough Americans do. We’ll never ever understand that.

Here is a list of Senators (all Republican) who receive more than $1 million from the NRA. Let’s vote them out.

2. Epidermis Universe Pageant

No one at the ice rinks shows off more skin than Canadian ice dancer Tessa Virtue, who doesn’t believe that modesty is a….Virtue and her partner, Scott Moir, won gold last night to add to their gold from Vancouver and silver in Sochi. They also performed a few moves that may have violated a few blue laws in certain provinces. They also posted a world-record score of 206.07, for those of you who keep track of ice dancing records.

3. Fox Faux Pax

500 miles at Daytona was not enough. An overtime lap was needed after a crash with less than 10 laps to go, but then Fox blew it. Four or more hours into the race, the pivotal moment came when Austin Dillon pulled a Dale Earnhardt, Sr., move (Dillon was riding the No. 3 car after all) and tapped the rear bumper of the race leader, Eric Almirola.

Alas, as the video above shows, Fox had decided to go with a rearview camera from Almirola’s vehicle (:50), which robbed viewers of a wider angle view of the skulduggery taking place. The critical moment of a 201-lap race, and Fox failed to capture it live. Even on the replay video below, they don’t show a wide shot. Weird.

Is this what Rudy Martzke would refer to as a “dreaded glitch?”

You have to listen to the flawed logic Kevin Harvick and the other dude in the middle provide here (it’ll help you understand why we still have bump stocks legalized). Harvick basically defends Dillon banging Almirola’s back bumper via the “Because it’s Daytona and you do whatever it takes” while the other guy (sorry I don’t recognize him) says that if Denny Hamlin or Kyle Busch had done it it would have been “dirty pool,” but a guy driving the same-numbered car as The Intimidator once drove, it’s okay.

4. Oliver!

After a few months hiatus, John Oliver returned Sunday night on HBO and, granted, he doesn’t have to put out a show on a nightly basis, but once again the Brit expat demonstrated why he does the smartest Trump commentary on TV. You may watch here.

Oliver: “Is anything about Trump funny any more?” Less and less every day.

5. Fifth Century, Yeah!

Attila We Meet Again

We had this thought last night. How many historical figures can you name between the death of Jesus ( 33 A.D.) and, say, the Battle of Hastings (1066 A.D.)? Charlemagne, Hannibal, a few Roman emperors, a pope or two. Who else?

Well, we don’t know, either, but as MH eternally seeks to enlighten, we thought we’d introduce a segment in which we provide five figures of importance from each century anno domini. Let’s begin with five fifth century (401-500) figures:

—1. St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo: Wrote City of God.

—2. Attila the Hun: Feared leader of the Huns for two decades who was unsuccessful in sacking Constantinople and Rome. Not a good sacker. Had no swim move.

—3. King Arthur: Though his existence is disputed, British legend has it that he defeated the invading Saxons in approximately 490 A.D.

—4. St. Patrick: Yes, the Irish missionary who gave us a beer holiday.

—5. Romulus Augustus: The last Roman emperor, as Rome fell in 476. This marks the beginning of the Middle Ages.

Music 101

Games People Play

 

Mid-Seventies Philly soul. Nothing quite as smooth. This 1975 tune from The Spinners went to No. 5 on the Billboard charts.

Remote Patrol

Olympics

8 p.m. NBC

The women’s downhill, but Mikaela Shiffrin has pulled out. Shiffrin will concentrate on the Super Combined, which was moved up a day due to weather. Weather has totally screwed with Mikaela’s quest to be queen of PyeongChang, but she still has one gold thus far (it’s a slippery slope between ski queen and Olympic letdown). Also, we still get Lindsey Vonn.

All The President’s Men

12:15 a.m. TCM

For the night owls. Now more than ever…

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Starting Five

 

Nip/Tuck*

*The judges will not accept “Breast In Show”

 

Ice dancing became the most popular sport at the PyeongChang Olympics Sunday evening as French skater Gabriella Papadakis went Janet Jackson on the arena.

The Frenchies finished second in the short program with the free skate still to come tomorrow. Expect more safety pins between now and then.

2. Post Up And Dribble

In Los Angeles, LeBron James silenced Laura Ingraham and a slew of doubters (while still not solving the mystery of who vandalized his front gate) to lead the LeBronians to a 148-145 All-Star Game win over the Steph-ONs. We only read one account of the contest, but though 293 points were scored, it’s being described as a game in which defense reared its head. LeBron even played center in the fourth quarter to counter Joel Embiid. 

Our favorite (only? final?) moment of All-Star Weekend was when the dude here on the left (from Migos) blatantly traveled and the commentator praised his “EuroStep” as a girl (a GIRL knew!) on the opposing side pantomimed a traveling call to no avail. At that moment we became the roadside Native American (who wasn’t even a true Native American!) in that early Seventies anti-littering campaign commercial.

Us, watching the travesty that NBA hoops has become what with the traveling and the palming and the arm bars. GOML!

3. May The Fourth Be With You!

Vonn was not a Super-G whiz

Lindsey Jacobellis in the SnowCross final? 4th place. Mikaela Schiffrin in the final of the Giant Slalom, her premier event? 4th place. Lindsey Vonn in the women’s Super-G? Sixth place. Nathan Chen in the men’s figure skating final? Fifth place.

Has it been a disastrous Olympics for the USA thus far, or is it simply that no one wants to visit the White House? After  a little more than one week, Team USA is in sixth place in the medals standings with 10 overall (5 gold). Ahead of them are Norway, Germany, Canada, Netherlands, and Olympics Athletes from Russia, a country that is not technically here.

Chen Diagram: Nathan’s unprecedented six quad toe loops were not enough to overcome his disastrous short program

There are still a few days to go, and the women’s hockey team is assured of a medal, but the last time the U.S. finished outside the top five in the Winter Olympics medals count was 1988 in Calgary.

4. Black By Popular Demand

In its opening weekend, Black Panther earns $192 million, almost doubling the record for the highest box-office ever for an opening weekend for a film by a black director (Ryan Cooler).

Girls gone wild: Prince (left) and Viniate

Meanwhile, unrelated, if you have yet to see The Florida Project, while it’s somewhat depressing, there’s no better lead and supporting actress performances you’ll see this year than the one by total unknowns Bria Vinaite, 24, and Brooklynn Prince, 7. Vinaite was a total unknown who was discovered via her Instagram posts. She had never appeared in anything and took three weeks of acting classes before filming began. She’s a natural.

5. The Kids Are Alright

Victims? No. Survivors? Maybe. Heroes? Definitely. The teens from Parkland’s Stoneman High are giving the adults in Washington a lesson in public mandate. The students are speaking up, telling lawmakers that “thoughts and prayers” are “pathetic.” Good for them. It would be nice to to think that their 17 classmates did not die in vain.

Music 101 

Draw The Line

An Aerosmith hard-rocker from 1977 that failed to gain steady air play. We received the eponymous album as a Christmas present as an 11 year-old and played the grooves off it.

Remote Patrol

Oklahoma at Kansas

9 p.m. ESPN

Trae Young is the most watchable player in college hoops—if not the best—and Allen Fieldhouse its most appealing venue. And they’re both ranked. Young still leads the nation in scoring and assists.

On Journalism, Clickbait and Prostrating Oneself Before LaVar Ball

by John Walters

On Tuesday Ryan Glasspiegel of The Big Lead wrote a piece titled “Journalism and Clickbait Can Both Live In The Same Place,” the inspiration of which was a Twit-a-tete I had (I instigated it) with his boss, the site’s founder, Jason McIntyre. Before you read on here, I encourage you to read Ryan’s story if you have not yet (see, Jason, I’m pimping for you!).

Before I discuss the merits of Ryan’s story, of which there are many, here’s a demerit: he never contacted me. A tenet of good journalism is that you allow the principles of a story an opportunity to express their views, particularly if there is a sense of polarized positions. I’m right here. It would have been easy to simply DM me.

Now, we live in an internet bully age where TBL loyalists will shout me down because they know their site and don’t know me, but that’s just a J-School 101 courtesy. Perhaps Ryan and the TBL mouth-breathers would respond that my tweets were already out there, what else is needed (besides, we all know how much millennials loathe actually having to talk to people)?

But if Ryan had contacted me, he’d have known that I was not chastising Jason about Bobby Burack’s story, as Ryan implies. I did not read Bobby’s story. I would never read Bobby’s story, which is no slight to Bobby as a writer; it’s simply that long ago I tired of reading anything about LeBron, LaVar Ball, the Cavaliers or the Lakers.

If Ryan had only reached out to me, he would have known this.

Anyway, the reason I chided my frenemy Jason on Twitter (“There’s an Olympics going on, but the guess here is you’ve calibrated that that’s not where one goes to find the clicks”) is because he had just tweeted out another breathless tweet about LeBron, or was it LaVar, or perhaps it was about what the Lakers are going to do in the summer of 2018. Or is it the summer of 2019.

 

No one’s forcing you to follow Jason on Twitter, you might say. And you are correct. But for now, at least, I am. As I was preparing to write this, I did a quick sample of Jason’s last 50 tweets: 28 of them, or 56%, were concerned with LaVar or LeBron or the Cavaliers or the Lakers. One of them, or 2%, mentioned the Olympics.

Only yesterday Jason tweeted something to the effect that he runs a sports site with some pop culture thrown in. And he does. And TBL is an independent site that he founded, so he is under no obligation to be comprehensive or even egalitarian in his sports coverage. His Twitter feed, though, is a window to his soul: he’s out for clicks.

Before launching TBL on his down time, something I greatly admire and respect Jason for doing, he cut his teeth working at US Weekly. And what he likely learned there is that you sell the soap opera. There’s a reason (back then) Jennifer Aniston garnered more covers than both better actresses and even hotter ones: because she was famous and because her personal life was a hot mess. And that’s what sold.

Back to Ryan’s theme: That clickbait and real journalism can not only coexist, but must. In a corporate world, he’s correct. In fact, the story that ran with Ryan’s byline directly after his clickbait story concerned itself with Aly Raisman and Paige Sparanac posing nude for SI, and my humble guess is that it drew ten times the readership that his clickbait piece did. After all, there’s navel-gazing and then there’s navel-gazing.

Before the internet existed, before clickbait, there was the annual Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, which hits newsstands right about now (what’s a newsstand?). In my 15 years as an SI staffer, I constantly heard gripes by fellow staffers about how we were producing soft-core porn (which we were) that had no connection to sports (which it did not). My female boss for most of that time, Jane “Bambi” Wulf, had no problem with it. “That single issue pays for half the salaries on the 18th floor,” Bambi, who passed away last year and whom we all loved, would say.

When one of my colleagues at SI, a fellow reporter under Bambi named Chad Millman, left, he played a huge role in ESPN the Magazine launching its “Body” issue, where Olympic and pro athletes pose nude, strategically placing items from their sport in front of their genitals or simply using their hips or arms to hide their naughty bits. It was a terrific idea.

Am I running this photo to illustrate a point or to get more clicks? Does it even matter?

All that said, you the individual (or writer, or editor, or site founder) are not compelled to do anything. Are not compelled to compromise. Let’s be clear here: this is a choice you make. Or that your publication makes, and you choose to adhere to.

At my final Newsweek staff meeting (and you’re about to learn why it was my final one), I broached this topic to our managing editor (who may or may not have been having an affair with a 24 year-old editor of our sister publication in London and who may or may not have been attempting to install her as the No. 2 person here until she foolishly wrote an email about this to him and CC’ed the wrong folks), Matt McAllester. During the staff meeting in mid-May, McAllester informed us that each one of us writers would be responsible for 15,000 clicks daily by June 30. That prompted one of our twenty something reporters, a bright young man, to diplomatically inquire, “What happens after we achieve that goal?”

A second younger reporter asked the question we were all thinking: “What happens if we don’t?”

McAllester simply told us that we would. Then I (foolishly) brought up an old David Halberstam quote. Halberstam used to say that he wrote best-selling sports books because they gave him the latitude to write the books that he really cared about, such as The Best And The Brightest. I asked McAllester if that’s what we were doing. And he bristled, “Don’t you want anyone to read your stories?”

Nearly 50 years ago, Halberstam knew what’s up

Immediately after that meeting, we writers were shuttled into an hour-long meeting in which we were tutored on one thing and one thing only: the tricks of SEO headline writing. For those of you unfamiliar with it, “SEO” stands for “Search Engine Optimization.” It’s about writing headlines that Google puts near the top of its search list, because those stories are clicked more frequently, which leads to higher ad rates, which leads to financial solvency.

A month later, Matt called me in to fire me ( I was later told that when Matt was informed he had only been firing female staffers, it was strongly suggested he needed a male pelt to put on the wall to even the score some; for the record, after Matt was fired I immediately began writing for Newsweek again). Ironically, the firing was delayed four hours because one of our senior writers was dealing with a “tentacle porn” controversy on his Twitter feed, which even more ironically was driving traffic through the roof. If only I had known! That could have saved my gig had I thought of it first. When Matt cut me from the team, I refused the severance and told him, “You’re chasing sites that have been doing this for a decade and do it better. And it’s nothing but fast food calories. Basically, you are turning Newsweek into Hardees.”

I didn’t use profanity. Didn’t curse. I just told him bluntly what I thought of him, and then went down to my bartending shift where I ordinarily earn more in a day than what Newsweek was paying me, anyway. Matt was fired two months later for general incompetence and, unofficially, for being a major douche. It didn’t help that a female co-worker at Time, his former place of employ, was suing him for sexual discrimination.

I digress. Back to Ryan’s point. We all make a choice. To me, the danger of conforming to the clickbait beast is that if a little is good, more is better. And suddenly you’re running story upon story about a wrestling heel (LaVar Ball) while virtually ignoring an event that is the living vestige of the origin of sport itself: the Olympics. Not only that, but one of the four major networks is airing it in prime time every night for a fortnight and it is blowing away every other network in the ratings.

When Jason tweets that he has no interest in the Olympics and when Ryan doubles down that no one on TBL’s staff does, I don’t measure that as a failure of the Olympics. I measure it as a failure of myopic scope. Of hiring practices. Maybe if the TBL’s staff were not all about the same age and all but one the same sex and same skin pigmentation, the site would be more versatile. And before you hit me with a GOML, here’s a response to that.

The more worrisome danger, to reiterate, is more is better. If a little clickbait is good, the irresistible temptation from above is to produce more. And suddenly as a website you become the Chicken McNuggets parents. You could expose little Lucas to something he’s never tried, but he may wail and who has the patience for that? Just buy him the Chicken McNuggets again because you know it works.

In sports journalism, this is what leads to more NFL and NBA stories and to smaller and smaller concentric circles. And this isn’t just the internet’s fault. It’s the fault of every managing editor who was working to please the publisher as opposed to following the tenets of journalism. I was a staff writer at Sports Illustrated in 1998 when France won the World Cup—in Paris, in a MAJOR upset—and even though our M.E. attended, he had us put Mike Ditka on the cover—in July. This wasn’t even Chicago Bears Mike Ditka, it was New Orleans Saints Mike Ditka. Didn’t matter. It was the NFL.

The SI I grew up reading in the Seventies understood that it was the journal of record. It put the most important story on the cover (a miler setting a world record; an amateur hockey team winning a game in Lake Placid), not the best-seller.

Eight years after that infamous Ditka cover, Roger Federer won three men’s tennis grand slams (and was runner-up in the fourth) and had a 92-5 record on the year. The overwhelming consensus in the offices was that he should be named Sportsman of the Year. The boys on the publishing side advocated for Dwyane Wade, who’d led the Miami Heat to the NBA championship (never mind that Wade had finished sixth in MVP voting). Wade got the nod.

These days are over

There is, or used to be in journalism, a thing called “separation of church and state.” Church (editorial) and State (publishing) did not interfere in one another’s business, so as to avoid conflict of interest. If you saw The Post, you witnessed a real-life and historic incident involving such a conflict, and the greater point that was made here is that when newspapers follow their journalistic instincts, they actually DO SELL MORE. You can be fit AND eat what you love!

Does that only happen in the movies—or at The Washington Post? Not necessarily, but it is harder to report stories than to simply parrot the latest LaVar tweet. It does take more effort to find something that no one else has yet reported as opposed to doing a slide show of NFL cheerleaders. I get it.

You can’t be a virgin 90% of the time. It’s an all-or-nothing proposition. And as someone who writes a blog for free but has no mortgage and no kids to raise, it’s a little easier for me to be idealistic. I can survive on baloney sandwiches for quite some time (besides, I own like, lots of AMZN shares). But at the end of the day, or of your career in journalism, you are what YOU DO, not what you say you are. And if you claim to be a journalist while promoting LeBron and LaVar with more than half your tweets, I’d argue that you’re more of a huckster.

Moreover, I’d prefer not to marinate in my own ignorance, or not to spread ignorance like a virus. One of my closest friends in this business, Tim Crothers, has been a journalism professor at the University of North Carolina for more than a decade. When we were both reporters at SI and they cut our travel budget to ZIP, Tim hatched the idea of doing a bonus (you’d now call it longform) piece on Red Klotz, the coach of the long-suffering Washington Generals. He didn’t ask permission, because he knew our editors would either turn him down or hand the story to someone senior.

Tim got on the subway to cover a Globetrotters-Generals game, then talked his way onto Klotz’s bus and into Klotz’s life, and then without prompting he filed one of the best bonus pieces of the decade. Nobody knew they wanted to know about Red Klotz, but when they did read about him, it was marvelous.

A girl, and a story, that nobody wanted. Now a major motion picture.

More than 15 year later Tim heard about a young girl who was virtually homeless, living in the slums of Kampala, (Kampala is a city that is not Cleveland or Los Angeles), Uganda, but who was a chess prodigy. Tim pitched the story to SI, which had fired him (and me and William Nack on the same day in 2001 as part of staff layoffs), who did not bite. So he pitched it to ESPN, who did. Tim’s story, The Queen of Katye, became a National Magazine Award Feature Story finalist, and then a book, and then a major motion picture from Disney that you can actually watch on Netflix right now.

Tim followed his journalistic instincts, and not only did he produce fantastic work but it was also lucrative.

One more anecdote, for those still reading. One day when I was at SI, I saw the hard copy of a piece by a then-unknown writer named Jeff MacGregor on the printer outside my office. This was a LONG story, but I started reading and within two grafs I was enthralled. MacGregor’s piece was all about a rattlesnake roundup and it was so well-written (“You can taste the mean”) but then again, as a few muggles-ian editors argued, “What did it have to do with sports?”

MacGregor’s editor, Bob Roe, championed the piece. The coterie shunned it. Then suddenly, the M.E. agreed with Roe and everyone else’s tune changed. The piece ran. It was phenomenal and readers responded to it like few stories we’d run in years. Loser coaches. Ugandan chess prodigies. Rattlesnakes. It’s the story that matters, not the brand.

A day after Newsweek laid me off last June, I received an email inviting me to join the staff meeting via conference call. Obviously, this was done in error, but screw them. I phoned the number, punched in the secret code, and listened in. McAllester was now informing the staff that they’d need to be up to 30,000 clicks per day by the end of October and that, unfortunately, no salary increases were in sight. Also, travel was limited and there wasn’t the money to keep open a Washington, D.C., bureau as an office. Those staffers would have to work from home.

One writer had the temerity to raise an objection, and here I paraphrase. “If I’m hearing you right, you want us to do more work, churn at a higher rate, while there is no incentive from a salary or workplace environment perspective,” the writer said.

McAllester noted that he might have some money at the end of the year that he’d be allowed to distribute to some staffers at his own discretion. “That sounds futile,” said the writer, whom I will not name here but who did resign last week from Newsweek.

When I told that writer that I’d listened in and recounted the dialogue to him, he laughed. But then he corrected me. “I didn’t say, ‘That sounds futile,’ ” he said. “I said, ‘That sounds feudal.'”

We all make choices. You go ahead and surf the internet. As a writer, I’ve more than made my peace with not wanting to serf the internet.

What is the future of journalism, and sports journalism? Is there a way to obviate clickbait for those of us who don’t want to make outlandish and grossly inaccurate analogies such as “Baker Mayfield Is Like Bitcoin” simply to generate clicks? The best way out I see is for philanthropic billionaires such as Jeff Bezos to become modern-day Medicis: to promote the art of journalism for its own sake. Bezos owns The Washington Post because of its vestigial hold on him, and because he appreciates how it shaped his youth. He’s not the only billionaire out there (apparently, they’re growing in number) and here’s hoping there are more Bezos types out there and fewer outright assholes such as Sam Zell, a man who once told his female Tronc underling, “F**k you” when she dared to question him about editorial integrity.

Let’s close with an analogy that may or may not be fair. In the 1990s NBC had two sitcoms that ran on the same night: Friends and Seinfeld. The former scored higher ratings but was open to anything to promote such ratings (remember the stunt-casting episode with ER dreamboats George Clooney and Noah Wylie playing their alter-egos from that show?). The latter was fiercely iconoclastic, going so far as to devote one episode to the idea that they would not stoop to those levels (“I’m not gonna dumb it down, Jerry” was Larry David’s not-so-subtle message to his Peacock overlords that he would not compromise his standards).

Two different show, both comedies. Both ran on the same network. It’s possible to do solid journalism and run clickbait on the same site. Then again, most of us writers don’t have the pull that Larry David did.

 

 

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Special “Let’s Not Keep Killing Each Other” Edition

Oh yeah, don’t forget “Students Filing Out of High School”

Handy Mass Shooting Check List

Once upon a time, on August 1, 1966, Charles Whitman perched himself atop the bell tower at the University of Texas and slaughtered 17 people with a high-powered rifle. That campus-related carnage was the apex/nadir of campus horror for more than 30 years until Colombine. Now Whitman’s Texas Rifle Massacre barely makes the “Slaughter of the Month” Club.

Are you ensconced in coverage of a mass murder news quake? Here are the tell-tale signs:

–Body count report

–“Thoughts and Prayers”

–Mandatory disavowal of gun proliferation as root of the problem by GOP lawmaker and/or Tomi Lahren.

 

–Sleep-deprived sheriff holds press conference, admonishes press to behave

Don Lemon chokes up

–Student survivor does stand-up interview with cable channel

–Distraught mom photo

–Candlelight vigil

2. We Concur Con Kerr

A reminder that Steve Kerr, the best coach in NBA history (at the three-plus seasons mark), lost his father to gun violence. Yesterday Kerr was eloquent on gun violence, a few days earlier his former coach, Gregg Popovich, was enlightened on racism. Another NBA voice we admire, Steve Nash, tweeted this:

 

Kerr’s father was a scholar who taught in the Middle East, and Kerr spent much of his youth in that part of the world. Popovich is an Air Force Academy alum who spent much of his five years of active military duty in Eastern Europe. Nash is not only Canadian, but the son of teachers who raised their children partly in Africa. He was born in Johannesburg.

Is it any coincidence that three men who have been exposed to other nations and other cultures are far more enlightened than the MAGA/NRA crowd?

3. Marco! Go Low!

 


Two items on this: 1) Using this logic, Senator Rubio should be against the erection of a border wall (“they’ll find a way”) and against laws in general. Why have a penal code when crimes may still be committed? 2) If Marco truly wants to be honest, why doesn’t he disclose that he has accepted $3.3 million from the National Rifle Association?

4. Mental Illness Check-In

 

The source of this aphorism is unknown, but you’ve heard it: “Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” By that measure, let’s assess our federal government, which has had pretty much the same reaction for the past 19 years, since Columbine: “Thoughts and prayers” and no further gun-control measures. In fact, last February President Trump signed into law a bill that made it EASIER for mentally unstable people to purchase weapons.

But let’s not digress: Congress and the White House reacts the same way after every mass shooting, and nothing changes. So maybe we can say of them that they are mentally unstable. Should we be reporting them to law enforcement, particularly those members of Congress who own guns or that member of the White House who has the authority to launch the largest firearm of them all? What say you?

5. A Welcome Hand Grenade

Let’s review the argument: After any mass shooting, I wonder aloud, “Now why can’t I own a hand grenade?” The immediate answer is the National Firearms Act of 1934, which categorizes them as Title II weapons, a.k.a. “destructive devices,” making them generally unavailable to the public.

Of course, 1934 was 84 years ago, and while hand grenades have not become all that more potent in the interim, guns have. In 1934 the M-1 Garand, which we’d come to think of as the standard World War II machine gun, was still in the development stages. American infantry began World War II using single-bolt rifles.

Hence, in 1934 an individual could do a lot more damage with a hand grenade over a limited space and time than with a gun.

A 19 year-old in Florida cannot legally purchase this…

But that has all changed. Even though a 1986 revision of the Firearms Act made manufacture of automatic weapons illegal, one can attach a bump stock (legal) to a semi-automatic weapon such as an AR-15 and literally shoot a few hundred rounds a minute.

A few hundred rounds a minute. At that rate, the shooter is not aiming at each discharge. He or she (but we know it’s a he) is spraying fire indiscriminately, much like the path of destruction of a hand grenade. The difference is that the AR-15 has a range of a few hundred yards, while the hand grenade is likely less than 50 yards.

…but he may legally purchase this.

At its most tame, an AR-15 with a bump stock would fire one round. At its most tame, a hand grenade is still a hand grenade. You can’t limit its effect. However, at its most lethal, an AR-15 with a bump stock is FAR MORE DEADLY than a hand grenade.

And yet a 19 year-old who may not purchase a beer legally is able to buy an AR-15. But he cannot buy a hand grenade.

Don’t misread me: I don’t really want to legalize the sale of hand grenades. I’m just using that argument as an illustration of how asinine it is that these guns are legal to purchase. The NRA doesn’t seem to have a problem with hand grenades being illegal. But they do have a problem with guns that are far more lethal than hand grenades being illegal. When we get right down to it, let’s face it, this is all a phallic substitution syndrome, isn’t it?

Music 101

Hallelujah

A plethora of artists have covered Leonard Cohen’s classic, but this version from a trio of Nordic fellas and their pal is pretty special.

Remote Patrol

Shaun White Noise

Faithful reader and correspondent Moose has a few thoughts on an American gold medalist….

by Moose

When you guys have finished celebrating Shaun White maybe we can talk about why he was even allowed to compete at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

While White was celebrating, TIME released a story on allegations and his settlement with a women who accused him of sexual harassment.

“Lena Zawaideh, who was formerly a drummer in White’s rock band Bad Things, accused him of sexual harassment in a lawsuit filed in August 2016, alleging that White ‘repeatedly sexually harassed her and forced his authoritarian management style on her for over seven years.”

Slate gave some more details – “White sent sexually explicit and graphic images to Zawaideh of engorged and erect penises, forced her to watch sexually disturbing videos, including videos sexualizing human fecal matter, and made vulgar sexual remarks to her such as, ‘Don’t forget to suck his balls!’

Meanwhile, White was talking to the press and, again, according to TIME, “Shortly after his victorious run, White told reporters who asked about the allegations that he was there to “talk about the Olympics not, you know, gossip.”

Gossip?! Kind of like Locker Room Talk?

In May 2017, according to USA Today, “White, the snowboarder and skateboarder, vigorously contested the suit and in February tried to compel Zawaideh to undergo a mental health examination after she claimed she suffered emotional and mental distress because of what happened. He later withdrew that request, and last week an attorney for Zawaideh filed a notice of unconditional settlement in the case and requested the case be dismissed.”

White withdrew his attempts to compel a mental health evaluation of Zawaideh and granted a financial settlement to Zawaideh after her lawyer produced screen shots of his text messages. He knew what he had done and he knew the accuser had proof.

But there he was in front of the media saying don’t look at Misogynist Shaun, look at Gold Medal Shaun!! And then calling the sexual assault allegations, which he took seriously enough to settle, “gossip”.

It didn’t go unnoticed so Wednesday, on NBC’s Today Show there was Gold Medal Shaun apologizing for Misogynist Shaun. “I’m truly sorry that I chose the word ‘gossip,’” White said. “It was a poor choice of words to describe such a sensitive subject in the world today and I’m just truly sorry.”

He’s sorry about his choice of words, but he has never apologized for his actions towards Zawaideh. And “sensitive subject”? Really? That sounds suspiciously like White is saying people who were upset might be a bit too “sensitive.”  Why wasn’t it a sensitive subject when White was sending a text that read, ‘Don’t forget to suck his balls!’

So again, why was he at the Olympics? Was it because he settled in the face of irrefutable proof and inevitable humiliation and never had to complete the court process? Or is it because the US Olympic committee chose to look the other way in the hopes of another US Olympic Fairy Tale?

This is the Athletes’ Olympic Oath “In the name of all the competitors, I promise that we shall take part in these Olympic Games, respecting and abiding by the rules which govern them, committing ourselves to a sport without doping and without drugs, in the true spirit of sportsmanship, for the glory of sport and the honor of our teams.”

This is from the IOC Code of Ethics: “1.4 Respect for international conventions on protecting human rights insofar as they apply to the Olympic Games’ activities and which ensure in particular:
– respect for human dignity;
– rejection of discrimination of any kind on whatever grounds, be it race,
colour, sex, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other
opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status;
– rejection of all forms of harassment and abuse, be it physical, professional
or sexual, and any physical or mental injuries;”

What in White’s behaviour is in the “true spirit of sportsmanship” or for the “honor of our teams”? Which of White’s actions are a “rejection of all forms of harassment and abuse”? So I’m asking again. Why was Shaun White allowed on the US Olympic team?

And I know what you are asking. “Why did she stay for 8 years? Why didn’t she just quit” Why didn’t she report him? Why did she accept a settlement?” I cannot tell you how tired I am of answering this question or having non-sensical debates with men on this subject. The short answer is why should any woman have to quit their job, sacrificing opportunity, income, benefits, to pay the price for the crimes and egregious behavior of a misogynist boss or fellow employee? However, I know this question remains and men just don’t get it.

I can’t explain it anymore so I leave it to Beverly Engel L.M.F.T. By the way, Beverly has been a psychotherapist for over 30 years and is the author of 20 books, including The Emotionally Abusive Relationship and The Right to Innocence. She wrote an article in Psychology Today listing the 8 reasons on “Why Don’t Victims of Sexual Harassment Come Forward Sooner?”

Just a few tidbits –

Shame – “When that personal power is challenged by a victimization of any kind, we feel humiliated. We believe we should have been able to defend ourselves. And because we weren’t able to do so, we feel helpless and powerless. This powerlessness causes humiliation — which leads to shame.”

Denial, Minimization – “Many women refuse to believe that the treatment they endured was actually abusive. They downplay how much they have been harmed by sexual harassment and even sexual assault. They convince themselves that “it wasn’t a big deal.”

Fear of the Consequences – “Fear of losing their job, fear they won’t find another job, fear they will be passed over for a promotion, fear of losing their credibility, fear of being branded a troublemaker, fear of being blackballed in their industry, fear of their physical safety, fear of retaliation.”

Low Self Esteem – “In the last several years there has been a focus on raising the self-esteem of girls and young women. We want our young women to feel proud and strong, to walk with their heads held high. We try to instill confidence in them and tell them they can do whatever they set their minds to do. We send them off to college with the feeling that they are safe, that they can protect themselves, and that we will protect them. But this is a lie. They are not safe, they don’t know how to protect themselves, and we don’t protect them.” “By far the most damaging thing to affect the self-esteem of young girls and women is the way they are mistreated in our culture. Beginning in early childhood, the average girl experiences unwanted sexual remarks and sexual behavior from boys and men.  Even the most confident girl cannot sustain her sense of confidence if she is sexually violated. She feels so much shame that it is difficult to hold her head up high. She finds it difficult to have the motivation to continue on her path, whether it be college or a career.”

If that’s not enough for you, go read Beverly’s article.

Full disclosure – I was sexually harassed in a job for 10 years. I don’t know many women who haven’t been sexually harassed. I have only had one job in which I haven’t been sexually harassed. Beverly knows why I didn’t leave or report any of the harassers.

Millions are celebrating Gold Medal Shaun, pretending Misogynist Shaun was just some bad rumour or “fake news”. What kind of message does that send to people, most especially young men and women? Yup, Time’s Up, but is time up on tolerating and ignoring sexually harassment or is time up on harassers and abusers having to pay the consequences for their actions? Shaun White has a gold medal around his neck. Make of it what you will.

M.

Just Another Thought On The Latest School Massacre

by John Walters

Think back to when you were in high school. Did you have a classmate who had the potential to be a Nikolas Cruz? I did.

My high school years were 1980-1984. I was lucky and blessed enough to attend an outstanding Jesuit high school in Phoenix. All of my classmates were young men and many of them came from the most affluent or privileged families in the Valley of the Sun (I think we had a Goldwater and an O’Connor while I was there). My parents, for the sake of disclosure, had jobs as a sheriff’s deputy and a legal secretary.

Anyway, even though the majority of us were clones in OP shorts and Ralph Lauren tops, we had one classmate who showed up at school each day in military fatigues. He was socially awkward and just seemed to have dead eyes (and I’m not naming him here, more than any other reason, because I’d really prefer that he not hunt me down and murder me). I don’t remember having too many conversations with him, though I was decent friends with his one and only friend, and I spoke to that boy enough to know that these two fantasized about carnage and paramilitary operations and were not the biggest fan of women (who had nothing to do with them).

 

It was the early ’80s. I would never have thought to turn them in to any teachers and, besides, our teachers were smart enough to see this young man for himself. The difference between then and now, or the two major differences, I should say, are 1) he didn’t have access to automatic or semi-automatic weapons and 2) there was no social media.

Teens like Nikolas Cruz have been around for a long, long time. And one of the things that stands out about him is that he’d lost his mom (where’s dad?) but that a kindly family had taken him in and tried to help him find his way back. There WERE good Samaritans out there. He just snapped, which is awful. And he was able to legally purchase an AR-15, two years before he’s legally able to buy a beer, which is shameful.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Starting Five

St.Valentine’s Day Massacre

Expelled from his high school one year earlier, Nikolas Cruz returned just before the last bell of school yesterday and murdered 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

Yes, it IS the right time to talk about gun legislation. Cruz had posted violent photos on Instagram and had lost his mother as a teen (a family had taken him in). He was attending another high school and working at The Dollar Store. Was he a troubled teen? Absolutely. But he was a troubled teen with no criminal past who was able to purchase an AR-15 rifle two years earlier in life before he was able to purchase a Bud Light.

 

There was a former Florida Congressman, a Republican, on CNN late last night, and what he said should resonate. Jolly said that the most hallowed ground for most Republicans in Congress is to be invited to speak at the NRA convention, to demonstrate that they are further to the right than their predecessors. As long as that mentality exists, sane gun legislation is not about to happen. He said our best hope is to flip the House and Senate. This from a Republican.

Meanwhile, three of the 10 deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history (Las Vegas, Sutherland Springs, this) have taken place in the last five months. Homeland Security begins at home.

2. Shiffrin Gears

After a few days’ delay, American Mikaela Shiffrin earned gold in the Giant Slalom. For the record, there is no Miniature Slalom. This is her second gold in the event: the Vail, Colo., native is still just 22 years old.

3. The Russia Connection

Putin: You can’t spell oligarch without “O.G.”

On May 12, 2016, The New York Times ran this exhaustively reported piece describing in detail and with diagrams how the Russians systematically beat the drug testing process at the Sochi Olympics, which they of course hosted. This piece of journalism was terribly embarrassing to the Russian government and it extended all the way up to Vladimir Putin. If only the IOC had any balls, Russia would have been completely banned from Pyeongchang (the “OAR” designation is a sham).

But what if, and this is only a pet theory, that story catalyzed Putin to seek payback? What if this article inspired Russia to seek that Trump Tower meeting just one month later? What if the Russians, who are fiercely proud of their Olympic prowess no matter if it has often been illegally gained, decided to get payback by telling the Trumps of the dirt they had on Donald, and explaining how all of this was going to go down in their favor with the possibility, eventually, of sanctions being lifted?

Suddenly the appointment of Exxon’s Rex Tillerson (whose former company stands to make the most from sanctions being lifted and is one of the few Yanks whom the Russians adore) to Secretary of State makes sense. As does Trump’s unwillingness to say a single negative thing about Putin while he trashes pro athletes. As does Trump’s unwillingness to admit that Russia meddled in the 2016 election while the FBI and CIA overtly state that it did.

4. Reince Comes Clean

The MH staff predicted this a year ago. There would be two types of Trump staffers: 1) Kool-Aid gulping loyalists (e.g. Stephen Miller) who would gladly kill for Herr Fuhrer, many of them family members or 2) those who’d stick around long enough to be able to write a lascivious book proposal. Count original Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, who always seemed to nice a guy to work with Trump, among the latter.

In excerpts from Priebus’ new book that appear in Vanity Fair, he writes, “Take everything you’ve heard [about working for Trump] and multiply it by 50. [It was] like riding the strongest and most independent horse.”

5. It’s All Downhill From Here

When the MH staff were lads, the men’s downhill was the highlight of the Winter Olympics. We loved two things about it: the simplicity and the danger. Be the fastest is something any five year-old can comprehend, and then when you watch men fly more than 40 yards in the air, that’s something.

This run from Austrian Franz Klammer before his home crowd in Innsbruck in 1976 remains our all-time favorite Olympic moment. Notice the crowds lining the course, something that is missing at Pyeongchang (safety reasons?). It’s more fun with the crowds lining the course.

Last night 35 year-old Aksel Lund Svindal (above, and above terra firm) became the first Norwegian ever to capture gold in this event, which seems rather surprising to us. The Norwegians are in first place in the medal standings overall with 17. Germany is first in terms of gold medals, with 9, even though their figure skating pair that took gold last night, Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot, have been citizens of Russia and France, respectively, for almost their entire lives. Mason, in fact, needed three tries to pass his German language test in order to be granted citizenship just a few months ago.

 

Music 101

Nothing Left To Lose (But Myself)

Eugene, Oregon, native Mat Kearney is a Coffee House All-Star. The adult contemporary star had this breakout hit in 2006 that went to No. 41 on the Billboard chart, while the producers at Grey’s Anatomy cried, “Get us the rights to that song, STAT!”

Remote Patrol

Winter Olympics

8 p.m. NBC

2006, Turin. Props to the NBC announcer who calls it bluntly about Lindsey Jacobellis’ epic fall/epic fail: “She went down on a showboat trick!” That remains the closest she has come to a gold medal (the silver here is her only Olympic medal), but the 32 year-old from Stratton, Vermont, will go for it perhaps for the final time tonight.

 

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Starting Five


Great White (To Be Cont.)*

*The judges will also accept “Attack of the Flying Tomato”

In second place before what may be the final run of his Olympic career, Shaun White goes balls-to-the-wall on the halfpipe with a gold-medal run. That’s three golds in four Games for the red-headed wonder, aged 31.

2. Great White (Part II)

Half a world away from Pyeongchang, the annual dog days of winter in New York City conclude with a Best In Show for a Bichon Frise named Flynn. If you thought we’d get through this Westminster Dog Show item without mentioning the infamous song by Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, you were wrong…

3. What The Elle?

This is Louise Linton, whose husband Steve Mnuchin is the Secretary of the Treasury. And this is one of her pics from a current profile in Elle. In the piece, Louise claims that SoulCycle “is my temple, I go there every day.” We’ve seen her husband and we’ve got to disagree: American Express is her temple. SoulCycle is more like a small crypt.

4. A Lotta Lotto News

–You heard about Donald Savastano, the upstate New York carpenter who won $1 million but died three weeks later due to Stage 4 cancer. At least he was able to afford a doctor and a nice funeral.

–Then came Jane Doe, the woman in New Hampshire who won $560 million but has been unable to claim it while she sues for the right to not have to divulge her name. Since then she has been deluged with offers from afar as to how to skirt this regulation; meanwhile, how much of her fortune will those lawyers claim?

–Now comes Bill Pendergast of Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canadia. Pendergast and his wife lost their home due to a wildfire two years ago. He just won $1 million. He says he’s going to finish rebuilding the abode and finally buy a Mustang. And he doesn’t care who knows who he is.

5. MH Movie Buff-ery

The Benedict ranch house was nothing more than a facade

We watched the 1956 epic Giant the other night, and since we stayed up until 1:45 a.m. to watch, we felt as if we needed to glean something and to pass it on. A few notes: 1) Yes, that’s a young and ginger Dennis Hopper playing the son of Jordan Benedict (Rock Hudson) and his wife, Leslie (Elizabeth Taylor), 2) Like Carole Lombard in To Be Or Not To Be (noted here a few weeks back), James Dean died before the release of the film (in a car accident, as you probably knew), 3) there are no actual giants in the film, though Hudson was a rather tall fellow, and 4) the exteriors were shot just outside of the southwestern Texas town of Marfa, which is now an eclectic tourist destination (it has also been the setting for Oscar darlings There Will Be Blood and No Country For Old Men) for film geeks. Check out their Prada store:

Music 101

Cupid

We chose this Sam Cooke classic because there aren’t that many great Ash Wednesday tunes…

Remote Patrol

Winter Olympics

8 p.m. NBC

Will Valentine’s Day be the night when America’s newest sweetheart, Mikaela Shiffrin, at last makes her much-delayed 2018 Olympic debut? And will someone please let my pals at The Big Lead know that this is happening? Cool, thanks.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Du Jour

 

Starting Five

Kim Young ‘Un

For the second time in three days, a 17 year-old American wins a gold medal using a snowboard. This time it’s Chloe Kim in the half-pipe. For the second time in as many nights, the most spectacular performance by an American was given by an Asian-Americna woman. MAGA!

 


“U.S. Shifts Korea Approach” hed below a Korean-American gold medalist whose two parents were both born in South Korea. Coincidence? Serendipity? Irony? All of the above?

2. Gottlieb’s Confession

Not sure if you’ve read Doug Gottlieb‘s piece in The Athletic yet, but if you have not, here it is. Gottlieb has actually written about his credit card-theft spree during his freshman year at Notre Dame before, but not as in-depth as this.

Full disclosure: 1) Doug is my favorite college basketball analyst and I think he was criminally underutilized by CBS before and during March Madness. 2) I lived in the same Notre Dame dorm, Dillon Hall, that he did, and was an RA there my senior year.

Here, now, are my problems with Doug’s story:

A) The title: “The Mistakes I Made, And The Price I Paid.” You didn’t make a mistake; you literally committed a sin (“Thou Shalt Not Steal”). It’s a capital-C Commandment. I hate when people use the word “mistake” to minimize a transgression. “Mistake” implies you made an error in good faith. A sin is a sin. And as for the price YOU paid, I’m sorry, who cares?

B) Doug writes, “The last thing I want is to do is sound like I’m making excuses. The hard truth is, there are none.” Hard stop. Fine. Oh, but then Doug equivocates, writing, “But over the years, I’ve thought about why I made those bad decisions. My understanding has helped me process what I did, forgive myself and eventually move on, even if there are a lot of folks who won’t let me.”

And then he spends paragraph after paragraph explaining how his outside circumstance contributed to his thefts. Nope. Sorry. Lots of us are homesick as college freshman, Doug. Some of us also arrived from sunnier climes as well and missed the warm weather. Most of us didn’t have the advantage of having our fellow classmates cheer for us, of being campus celebrities. We may have gotten depressed, some kids drank too much. But stealing? Sorry, that’s just a conscious decision to betray someone’s trust.

C) Doug writes, “I had appeared before the committee three months before on charges of plagiarism. I got off with a slap on the wrist.” Notice how he does not write whether or not he committed plagiarism. The fact that he does not claim he was innocent suggests to me that he did this. But notice the style of syntax, the “charges of.” Even now, as a 42 year-old man, Doug is not copping to it. By the way, that offense would have gotten most of us Domers suspended for the semester.

D) Doug writes, “Over the next week I called all three kids I had stolen from. I apologized profusely and offered to pay them back. I also begged them not to report what I had done to the school’s honor code committee.” Does Doug realize that this is not an apology? If he’s asking them for a favor, everything he tells them before that is bullshit. And even to this day, by the way he writes his tale, he seems to fail to understand that. The proper action is to apologize, offer to make amends, and then at most ask for their forgiveness. As soon as he asked them to not report what he’d done, he effectively demonstrated how insincere that apology was.

Doug had a successful career at Oklahoma State after his exodus from South Bend

Finally, I’ll add that there is no Greek system at Notre Dame. Your dorm is tantamount to a frat, except that it becomes more like a family because unlike frats, you take and accept the oddballs and freaks as well (they took me). What Doug did here was a major betrayal of his second family.

Am I being too harsh on an 18- or 19 year-old kid? Maybe, but Doug is now a 42 year-old husband and father. I’m not bashing the choices he made then as much as his massaging of the truth at this point in his life. I understand that “I f**ked up, I’m sorry, and I learned from it; hopefully, LaMelo Ball will learn the same lesson,” is a rather short essay, but it is all that needed to be written. Everything else was self-absolving it’s-society’s-fault patter.

There’s the times we b.s. others. Most of the time, though, we b.s. ourselves. This is one of those moments. Frankly, I was incredulous at the plethora of pats on the back Doug received both on Twitter and in the Comments section for this. But then, he’s a sports celebrity that people like (I like him, too). So it’s never about the content, it’s about who’s spouting it.

p.s. I’ll add that a minor Twitter celebrity DM’ed me yesterday after receiving DMs about me to ask, “Why do so many people dislike you?” I smiled. The same people who would DM that person to tell him how they feel about me would never say that to my face. I’m not here to be popular. And they’re not here to be courageous. 

3. ICE Capades

This is Syed Ahmed Jamal, a 55 year-old chemistry professor at Kansas University. Jamal was getting ready to take one of his three kids to school last month when officers from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested him on his front lawn. He has been  detained in a Missouri jail for three weeks as legislators bicker over whether he will be deported.

Jamal came here legally more than 30 years ago from Bangladesh, but the long and short of it is he overstayed his various visas. The fact that he attained multiple undergrad and grad degrees does not matter. We have serious doubts that Jamal has any connections to MS-13.

The question becomes, If the U.S. government is willing to deport this man and break up his family, how much time does Melania have?

4. Hair’s Johnny!

We love Johnny Weir on the figure skating. And love that peacock plume. When we wrote for NBC’s inaugural Olympic Ice program at the 2006 Torino Games and Weir was still competing, we pitched, “He’s Here, He’s Weir, Get Used To It” as a daily feature. Someone much higher up turned us down.

5. Presidential Portrait

You’ll notice how the Barack Obama portrait puts a bush in the background

The Obamas had their presidential portraits unveiled yesterday. 44 on the artist, Kehinde Wiley, who painted his portrait that will hang in the National Gallery in Washington, D.C.: “He and I make different sartorial decisions. But what we did find was we had certain things in common. Both of us had American mothers who raised us with extraordinary love and support. Both of us had African fathers who were absent in our lives.”

Reserves

Brand Recognition

Rachel Brand, 44, is a whip-smart lawyer who was No. 3 at the DOJ and was, in case Donald Trump fires Rod Rosenstine, poised to become the new head of the department. That would mean she’d be overseeing Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. She wanted no part of being in the middle of the greatest political tug-of-war since Watergate, so she resigned on Friday and took a job at Walmart. Not like a cashier’s job, mind you. At least we don’t think.

She’s a very, very intelligent woman. And she chose not to be yet another person whose career is permanently stained by an association with Donald Trump. Tough to blame her.

Music 101

Tonight, Tonight

Was Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness the last audacious, ambitious double album of the rock era? This was the lead single off the 1994 double-vinyl effort from Chicago’s own Smashing Pumpkins, and I’m not certain that Jim Carrey’s character from The Mask was not at least physically based on lead singer Billy Corgan.

Remote Patrol

Winter Olympics

NBC & NBCSN

The Flying Tomato returns, and there’s some skiing and speed skating, too.

 

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Winter Olympics Special: Wind, Luge or Draw

Starting Five

Triple Axel Rose

In Pyeongchang, or as some people call it, P.F. Chang’s, Mirai Nagasu becomes the first American woman and only the third anywhere to land a triple axel in Olympic competition. Nagasu’s effort helped the Americans take a bronze medal in the team skate competition.

 

Also on the U.S. team were Nathan Chen, siblings Alex and Maia Shibutani and openly gay skater Adam Rippon. Where are all the REAL Americans?, asks U.S. delegation head and V.P. Mike Pence.

2. Red Reign*

*The judges will also accept “Red Takes Gold” or “Gerard Dip ‘n Do”

If you’d asked us who Red Gerard was prior to this weekend, we’d have assumed he was an old-timey college football coach who didn’t allow water during two-a-days. But now we know he’s the first Winter Olympics medalist born in the 21st century.

Here, Gerard is heels over head (look at the photo), so how come they always say it the other way around?

Gerard, in 11th place—last—before his third and final run in Slope Style, nailed it and took home gold. He’s 17 years old and was born in Cleveland, though now he and his six  siblings and parents live in the Colorado Rockies. There were 17 Gerard family members at the event, or more Gerards than competitors.

Gerard is 5’5″, 116 pounds and looks like that Vans-clad skate punk with whom you went to high school. He looks as if he knows a guy, if you know what we mean.

3. All Gusts, No Glory

Imagine training four years and yes, there are other competitions that you partake in, but the Olympics are the paramount. And then you arrive at the hill at Phenix Park in P.F. Chang’s, where the temps are just below zero and the winds are blowing up and sideways at 15 knots. NBCSN is even showing wind sock iso-cams.

The event is normally three rounds, but organizers curtailed it to two rounds. So, immediately, your entire Olympic experience is cut by one-third. And then most competitors had to cancel at least one run mid-run because the wind interrupted their performance and they lost too much momentum to do the following jumps.

Anderson: This is not from P.F. Chang’s, but it demonstrates why snow boarding is a fave of TV execs

Considering that the organizers moved back women’s giant slalom three days due to the same conditions, you wonder why they let this happen. Our assumption: TV.

American Jamie Anderson, who won gold in Sochi in 2014, repeated as the gold medalist, although she only completed one run and it was far more safe than spectacular. All these ladies got robbed.

4. Pole Break, But Not Heartbreak

*The judges will also accept, “Norwegian Could”

See that dude on the ground, in the red circle. His pole just broke in the early stages of the men’s 5,000 cross-country ski race. His name is Simen Kruger and he’s from Norway. He’ll drop back to 34th place. And then he’ll ultimately win going away, taking gold.

Also, this event, too, saw bitterly cold temps. We know, we know, it’s the WINTER Olympics, but it’s reportedly been very nasty there.

4. Luger, Winner

This is Chris Mazdzer, who became the first American male ever to earn a medal in singles luge. Mazdzer, who finished in 13th place in both the 2010 Vancouver and 2014 Sochi Games, also finished 18th in the World Cup standings this season and never made a podium. But this weekend in P.F. Chang’s, he earned silver.

Only a month ago the 29 year-old Saranac Lake, N.Y., resident had posted on social media that he was near despair and was having a difficult time believing in himself. In short, it was tough sledding for his luge. Now he’ll always be the first male U.S. luge singles medalist. Well done, Chris.

Reserves

 

 Killer Queen

Up in Toronto, Canada, they’ve arrested a 66 year-old divorced gay landscaper and part-time mall Santa named Bruce McArthur who has been charged in the murders of five men but may have killed dozens more. When McArthur, who police believe used dating apps to lure is prey, was arrested by police on January 18 at his 30th-floor apartment, he had a potential victim handcuffed to his bed and the date did not seem happy to be there.

We asked our favorite Torontoan (Torontan?) and frequent MH behind-the-scenes contributor, Moose, if she was the serial killer and her reply was, “If I were the serial killer, you’d have been the first person I killed.”

Music 101

Prince of Darkness

Acoustic guitar heroines? Indigo Girls were certainly that. Here’s the Georgia duo, Amy and Emily, in their prime.

Remote Patrol

Lincoln

TCM 8 p.m.

In yet another Oscar-winning performance, Daniel Day-Lewis portrays a 19th-century legend who drinks the South’s milkshake. By the way, Happy 209th Birthday, Abe!

Giant

10:15 p.m. TCM

Elizabeth Taylor. Rock Hudson. James Dean. Any questions?