A trio of ACC schools land No. 1 seeds to the Big Dance: Virginia, North Carolina and No. 1 overall seed Duke. Why exactly the Blue Devils also have B1G regular-season and B1G tourney champ Michigan State in their bracket is a mystery to us.
Other No. 2s: Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.
Also: No one really got hosed. I mean, UNC Greensboro with a 28-6 record, we’d have put in over St. John’s or Arizona State, but the committee probably likes Bob Hurley vs. Chris Mullin in a First Four game (ABOLISH THE FIRST FOUR ALREADY, PLEASE) for all us oldsters.
Duke is 3-3 versus the other No. 1 seeds. Gonzaga, 1-1. Virginia, 1-2. North Carolina, which MH has cutting down the nets, is 3-2 versus the other No. 1s.
Duke and North Carolina have NEVER met in the NCAA tournament, which is as bizarre as it sounds. If they were to meet this spring, it’ll be in the championship game.
2. A New New Zealand
Four days after 50 people are murdered in New Zealand, the Kiwi government announces that it will implement tougher new gun laws within 10 days. Kinda the way governments all over the world grounded the MAX 737 after a 2nd airplane went down in the past six months. It’s like, Hey, this is a very dangerous gadget, maybe it’s not the best idea to have a MAX 737 or an AR-15 just out on the streets or in the skies. What a revolutionary thought.
3. New York-LA Stories
In the NBA, both L.A. franchises met both New York clubs on opposite coasts and both games came down to the buzzer. In Manhattan, the Knicks, who have the league’s worst record, dropped the Lakers in the afternoon, 124-123. It wasn’t just that the ‘bockers won, but that they rallied from an 11-point deficit with 3 1/2 minutes remaining and twice blocked LeBron James’ shots in the final minute, including in the dying seconds. The game-ending block came from little-used Mario Hezonja.
At night, inside Staples Center in L.A., Lou Williams buried a Jordan-over-Ehlo style 28-footer at the buzzer to give the Clips a 119-116 win over the Nets. Williams, now in his 14th season, has started just 109 games in his career (an average of fewer than 8 games per season), but has a career scoring average of 14.2 points per game. The NBA’s career leading scorer in points off the bench, Williams could be nailing down his third NBA Sixth Man of the Year award. HOF’er, someday?
4. Beto Is Running (8-Minute Miles)
In chilly Iowa, Democratic presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke ran a St. Patrick’s Day 5-K and finished in 24:29, good for third place in his age bracket (42-49). A former collegiate rower at Columbia (which means he was rowing the mighty Harlem River during workouts), O’Rourke is obviously still a runner as that time is very good for a man his age (46).
He may not win his party’s nomination, but everyone running for president, he’s the fastest runner.
5. Nobody’s Pawn
This is eight year-old Tani Adewumi, a Nigerian refugee who lives in a homeless shelter with his family in Manhattan. They fled Nigeria because as Christians they were worried they’d be targeted by Boko Haram and also, probably, because it is a “shithole country” and they want to make America great again. Of course.
Anyway, two weekends ago Tani won the New York state chess championship among 3rd graders despite only taking up the game last year (a side note: we play chess against the app on our laptop every day and have yet to win a game. Like, ever. We are going to hire Tani to teach us strategy). Tani went undefeated during the tournament, defeating many students whose parents have hired their children private chess tutors. The trophy he won is taller than he.
A teacher at his school at P.S. 116 in the Murray Hill area of the city says that Tani does “ten times the amount of chess puzzles as the other students.” The school waived his after-school chess club fees when he expressed interest in joining last year because, you know, refugee privilege.
In case you’re wondering: the family arrived here less than two years ago. Mom works as a home health aide while dad drives an Uber (he rents the car; that’s quite the high overhead) and already has his real-estate broker’s license. Some people…
Singin’ In The Rain
9 p.m. TCM
This Gene Kelly-Donald O’Connor vehicle was not even nominated for Best Picture after it was released in 1952 and we think we know why: critics were confused that the picture’s most famous scene was a dance number in the rain even though the setting is Hollywood. Kelly’s splash dance is spectacular, but Donald O’Connor’s “Make ‘Em Laugh” is more acrobatic and every bit as entertaining.
Allow us this indulgence for an indefinite period of time this month. We’re titling this one, “It’s Not My Turn To Clean.”
1. Horror In Christchurch
Forty-nine dead, and that figure will likely rise.
A white nationalist in his late twenties, an Australian who proudly referred to himself as a fascist in an 74-page manifesto, mows down Muslims during Friday Prayer at two mosques in Christchurch.
New Zealand, a nation of five million people that averages less than 50 homicides per year, has been touched by the same white supremacist violence that Europe and the USA has endured this decade. This attack reminds us most closely of the terrible attack in Norway back in the summer of 2011 on an island summer camp. The difference here, of course, being that the victims are Muslims.
Both attacks, however, were fueled by fierce anti-immigration and anti-diversity animus.
One absolutely chilling aspect of this attack: while driving between the two mosques, the killer stopped at a cross walk to allow pedestrians to pass in front of his vehicle.
The Port Arthur, Australia, mass murder of 1996 claimed 35 lives and resulted in radical changes in Australian gun laws. Is it possible that this murderer, an Aussie, chose New Zealand because it’s such a softer target?
The extremists behind the devastating attack in NZ livestreamed the massacre on social media. Yet hours later, these videos are still viewable with “inappropriate” content warnings. If broadcasting mass murder is not a violation of YouTube’s terms of service, then what is? pic.twitter.com/63nN1HzQda
Meanwhile, the man in the Oval Office was quoted on Breitbart News just yesterday as saying the following: “I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump—I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough—until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very pad.”
Pardon us for misconstruing the meaning of that.
2. Zion’s Back
Zion Williamson, remember him? The Duke frosh was 13 of 13 from the floor for 29 points with a splashy array of dunks and power moves, plus 14 rebounds and 5 steals in Duke’s comfy 84-72 win against Syracuse in the ACC quarters. This in his first game back after missing five full games and most of a sixth.
When you watch Zion, you just see a human—we think—operating at a different energy level, a different gear than the other players on the court. And that’s saying something since two of his teammates, R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish, will likely be top five picks in June’s NBA draft.
We recall back in November (?) when Duke alum Jay Bilas, in Hawaii to cover Duke-Gonzaga, gushed over Williamson’s primal force on the court but felt obliged to remark, “And he’s not even the best basketball player on his team—R.J. Barrett is.”
Nope. Barrett may be the more scintillating scorer off the dribble. But there’s little doubt that Zion is the best basketball player, in or out of Durham, in college hoops. One more thing about Zion: his talent and passion is so pure, so unaffected, that he transcends Duke-ism. People who HATE Duke basketball still love Zion. He’s outside of its orbit.
3. Veto and Beto (Note: They Don’t Rhyme)
In the same 24-hour news cycle, El Paso’s finest, Beto O’Rourke, announces that he will run for president while the current president announces that he will veto a resolution that would block him from declaring a national emergency in order to secure funds to build his border wall.
Just this week alone: 1) the Senate (with seven Republicans breaking ranks) joined the House in voting to end funding to Saudi Arabia (as if they need the money or weapons) for its war against Yemen, 2) the House UNANIMOUSLY (420-0) passed a resolution to make the Mueller Report public (Senator Lindsey Graham blocked this from going to a vote on the Senate floor), and 3) 12 Senators broke ranks to vote against Trump’s national emergency declaration.
The tide appears to be turning somewhat. “It’s about separation of powers,” Senator Robert Toomey, a Republican from Pennsylvania, said. “It’s about respecting the principles of the Constitution.”
As for Beto, we kinda feel as if he’s the WhiteObama schoolgirl crush (see our Music 101 featured artist today) candidate of the moment. The thing too many folks on the other side of the aisle don’t give Obama credit for? He’s actually very smart and very aware of how what he says is digested by both allies and enemies. Beto, at least at this moment, is still a little too “I can’t believe we’re opening for The Hold Steady.” He’s a little too light, too wafty.
4. The Big Leave
What do we make of The Big Lead founder Jason McIntyre not even mentioning on his as-active-as-ours Twitter feed that he will no longer be part of TBL? The we’ll-report-what-others-reported-first sports site (pot calling kettle aggregated content, we know, but we’re a one-man band working for free) was sold yesterday and the new owners are retaining four TBL writers, none of whom are its founder.
Give JM credit. He was first-to-market here back in 2006, sold his site for seven figures and arbitraged it to a migration from the Philly suburbs to Manhattan Beach and a role on Fox Sports. We’re not a huge fan of his TV/radio schtick—he’s bought all the Clay Travis Self-Promotion 101 videos—nor of his blithe absence of accountability when he makes stupid prediction (“Christian Hackenberg is going to be great!”) after stupid prediction (“Baker Mayfield is Bitcoin!”) and just moves on to the next one without acknowledging his manifold errors.
But JM did launch a site that has proven successful and we applaud the self-starter in him.
5. H’ Ole!
At the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass, first round, Ryan Moore aces the 17th hole on the fly. Can’t do better than that.
Easy Come, Easy Go
In the Seventies swoon-worthy teen idols were such gifted vocalists that microphones were not even required during live performances. Here’s Bobby Sherman, who was basically a real-life Greg Brady/Johnny Bravo: Sherman grew up in the San Fernando Valley, played high school football and also, reportedly, 16 musical instruments. This 1970 single was one of three top-10 hits he recorded. A few years later, while appearing in a guest spot on Emergency! (remember Johnny Gage and Roy DeSoto?), Sherman was so inspired that he left show business and became an EMT with the Los Angeles Police Dept. He continued doing so for 25 or so years, and he’s still alive. Rock on, Bobby Sherman. Rock on!
Duke vs. North Carolina
9 p.m. ESPN
Coby White, Hair Apparent
Round 3. The Tar Heels won the first two matches this season, but Zion Williamson only played 33 seconds of those 80 minutes of competition. Here the Triangle teams tussle for the third time in the Tar Heel State, in Charlotte, in the ACC semis. The winner here is a No. 1 seed in the tourney. UNC may still be if it loses.
That’s O’Rourke, Harris, Pet, Gillebrand and Castro. Belated Happy Birthday to Mr. Tapper, a good-humored smart dude with a good heart, who turned 50 yesterday.
Sadio Mane scored two goals in Liverpool’s 3-2 win at Bayern Munich yesterday
Do I Detect A British Accent
The Round of 16 of UEFA Champions League concluded yesterday and guess what? All our Barclays Premier League squads that received bids to the annual 32-club tournament have advanced to the Round of 8: Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United, Manchester City and yesterday, Liverpool.
The Champions League is the March Madness of soccer with a twist or two: instead of the USA it’s Europe and instead of conference champions and the best at-large teams, it’s various nations’ top league champions and best at-large clubs. The Premier League receives four slots each year but this is the first time in 10 years that all four clubs have advanced to the quarters.
For those of us more casual soccer fans, know that Lionel Messi’s Spanish club, Barcelona, and Cristiano Ronaldo’s Italian club, Juventus, have also advanced. Messi scored two goals yesterday while Ronaldo had a hat trick on Tuesday.
2. You’re Grounded!
Take off, hoser!
After two Boeing MAX 737 flights crashed, each minutes after takeoff, in the past six months, killing more than 350 people, the following nations and/or continents and/or cities grounded the aircraft from their airspace: Europe, United Kingdom, Oman, China, Singapore, Indonesia, Australia, Malaysia, Ireland, Iceland, Germany, France, Netherlands, Italy, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland. Greece. Latvia. Lithuania, Luxembourg, Dubai, India, Mongolia, Vietnam, Bermuda, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Hong Kong, Turkey, South Korea, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and UAE.
Two countries you may have noticed not on that list: Russia and the United States.
Finally, yesterday, President Trump grounded the MAX 737, which honestly we feel is kind of off-note since planes don’t kill people, gravity does (Rule No. 1). If you make the MAX 737 illegal, then only bad guys will fly them, right? Isn’t that how it works?
Wow — Manafort’s attorney, Kevin Downing, is shouted down outside the courthouse after he falsely claims “2 courts have ruled no evidence of any collusion with any Russians.”
Also, Paul Manafort was sentenced to another 3 1/2 years in jail, his lawyer got shouted down working the “No Collusion” falsehood afterward, and almost immediately following the sentence New York charged Manafort with 15 new felony counts, and that is a jurisdiction in which President Trump has no pardoning power. So, not great, Bob!
3. TheYang And The Restless
So what do you know about Andrew Yang, who declared his presidential candidacy all the way back in November of 2017? Born and raised in Schenectady (pop had a PhD in physics, mom a masters degree in statistics), he’s 44, with an undergrad degree from Brown and a law degree from Columbia. Of Taiwanese descent.
In the past 19 years Yang has worked as an entrepreneur and with health-care start ups. His big proposal is a $1,000 a month “Freedom Dividend,” which will be given to all adults over the age of 18, his response to the coming wave of automation and AI. As he calls it, and not incorrectly, the “robot apocalypse.” Yang has received enough donations from enough states to qualify to be part of the Democratic (that’s his declared party) debates.
Whether or not you agree with his Universal Basic Income idea, here’s the truth, Ruth: automation and AI is going to put millions (more) Americans out of work. For us, and we’ve witnessed this first-hand on both sides, simply giving people an income without work doesn’t solve the greater problem. Sure, people need money to get by, but what they need nearly as much is a real reason to wake up every morning. And let’s face it, not everyone can pen a daily blog that is read by literally dozens of people.
So while the Freedom Dividend is a progressive and thoughtful idea, some leader further down the line is going to have to reckon with the idea of a few very, very wealthy Americans, a score of robots making the rest of the populace irrelevant, and then an overwhelming majority of potheads, drug addicts and Fortnite participants. So, kinda like now…
Maybe they/we can all just pick up plastic in the Pacific? Which leads us to…
4. Wanna Get Away From It All?
A last resort without a resort
Last night we were researching the planet’s longest flight (oh, no reason), which is a just shy of 19 hours trek from Newark to Singapore courtesy of Singapore Airlines (no, not the MAX 737). And we were slightly surprised to discover that the flight from Newark heads eastbound, which gives you a clue of just how VAST the Pacific Ocean must be that it’s shorter to fly across the Atlantic, across northern Africa and the Middle East and even India, than it is to fly across the USA and the Pacific.
P.I. is actually inhabited, you see
So we thought, Okay, given that, what is THE most remote island/islands in the Pacific? While a very good argument may be made for Hawaii, we’re going to go with the Pitcairn Islands in the southern Pacific. The Pitcairns are a chain of four volcanic islands, and while Henderson Island (below) accounts for 85% of the land mass, the only inhabited island of the four is Pitcairn (above). It boasts approximately 50 residents who sprung from four main families that were a mix of Tahitians and mutineers from the H.M.S. Bounty (yes, that Bounty).
Henderson Island, virtually uninhabited: further proof that hell is other people.
So, how remote is it? Pitcairn, a British territory, is 3,464 miles east of New Zealand (so, yeah, a much greater distance than from Maine to San Diego) and 3,570 miles west of Lima, Peru. How do you get there? Well, if you don’t own your own yacht, you’re going to be booking passage on another person’s yacht. There are no flights and no cruise ships and no, it isn’t cheap.
Go to Maui. You’ll never know the difference.
5. Citizen Caine
That tall, dashing, wavy-haired, blue-eyed rake was the true Swingin’ Sixties London sex bomb to which Austin Powers always aspired. It’s Michael Caine, love, and he turns 86 years young today. If you’re not too familiar with his films, we suggest:
–The Italian Job (1969)
–Get Carter (1971)
In “Dressed To Kill.” It’s a man, baby, yeaahhhhh!
–Hannah And Her Sisters (1986)
–Dressed To Kill (1980)
Lots of great one-off lines from Nineties tunes, but none better than “I wanna be the girl with the most cake.” It never got to the point of, No, Kurt is Courteney’s husband, but Courteney Love’s debut album with her band Hole was so much better than “Band-aid can also play guitar.”
The Twilight Zone
The pilot episode, from Oct. 2, 1959, “Where Is Everybody?”
More than a few modern TV geniuses, such as Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan, consider this anthology series that Rod Serling created to be in a class by itself. Netflix now has all 156 episodes of the epochal, ground-breaking series that ran from 1959-1964. Television history right here, with a psychological twist. It’s a cookbook!
Love Mike Brey. Man, will heads explode in Bristol when the Irish win the ACC tournament.
From LBJ To OBJ
Angelina dumped Brad (or Brad dumped Angelina). Either way, they knew what they had but one or both of them was tired of the other’s sh*t. And that’s what it feels like knowing that the New York Giants traded Odell Beckham, Jr., to the Cleveland Browns.
Big Blue knew it had arguably the most dynamic and gifted wide receiver in the NFL. OBJ had a fat new contract and knew that with Saquon Barkley in the backfield not all the pressure would be on him. In fact, it would open things up for him.
But nobody was happy, and that’s the theme of pro sports and so much else today. Nobody’s happy where they are or with what they have. The FieldTurf is always greener…
And because every Ying deserves a Yang, as the Giants lose OBJ the Jets pick up Le’Veon Bell. So now Met Life Stadium houses two of the five best backs in the NFL.
2. Hail Mary’s!
We watched the final 30 minutes (in game time) of the WCC Championship Game between Gonzaga and St. Mary’s and what we saw is one team executing its game plan, for the entire 40 minutes, to perfection, and the other playing in a desultory fashion, kind of willing itself to win based purely on superior talent.
This is what an upset in March looks like.
The Gaels, who only five weeks earlier in Spokane lost to the Zags by 46 points, beat them 60-47 in Las Vegas. Center Jordan Hunter (above) pulled down 15 boards and had 12 points, but this was a complete team effort in defeating the nation’s top-ranked team. The Zags, the nation’s leader in Scoring Offense (88.8 ppg), were held to more than 41 points below their average.
Saint Mary’s (22-11), by winning, eliminates any question as to whether they belong in the Big Dance. Bully for them and for their outstanding coach, Randy Bennett.
There’s so much wrong with the Pay For A Roster Spot scam that we don’t know where to begin. The calculus is like, “Girls With Fish Lips Selfies x Lawnmower Parents x $$$$ divided by Corrupt University Coaches and/or Administrators = This Scandal.”
Dig, even two dinosaur epochs ago when we were in high school there were kids who made varsity or even started because of the influence (or $$$) their parents wielded. We were at a private high school, where big donations mattered. And we all know that universities give favor to legacies, especially when parents are rich and/or famous. Charlie Hall, the son of Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Brad Hall, is probably a pretty decent Division III player but does he belong on a Big Ten roster (one point and five rebounds in three full seasons)?
At least he has a sense of humor about it…
But at least JLD did it the old-fashioned way. What’s going on here, with famous parents such as Aunt Becky (Lori Loughlin) and even more prestigious schools (Yale, USC, Stanford) is pure old privilege intersecting with an available commodity. All of these humans need to be placed in the galleys to row those oversized Ben-Hur style boats. We need to bring those ships back, if for no other reason than punishment.
You know who ordinarily signs books? Their authors. You know who doesn’t? People whose lives are an affront to everything that the book espouses.
It happened last week, but when President Trump signed copies of the Bible during a brief stop in Alabama to assess tornado damage, it was almost glossed over. But it shouldn’t have been. It was like an end-times revelation moment.
You can vote for Trump. You can support him. But only the most dead-fish eyes folks of those among us would ever claim that Trump and the Bible plow common ground. He’s a walking refutation to 11 of the 10 Commandments.
There’s simply no clearer evidence of the connection between Christian evangelism and white supremacy than the celebration of this moment. And again, not for the 100th time, how would the Right have reacted if President Obama had done this? Eggggggggs-actly.
The Rubik’s Cube was a yuuuuuuge deal back in 1980 or so, and it should be noted that we were awful at it. Horrible. And then to see this teenager solve it with his feet? We’re going back to bed now…
Lawyers, Guns And Money
Our good friend Sorp suggested this Warren Zevon classic from 1978. We don’t think the song, released at the peak of the disco era, even charted, but it’s since grown in stature and is a cult classic. It never hurt that Zevon was an unconventional and beloved musician. As he was dying of cancer 16 or so years ago, he appeared on Letterman and dispensed sage advice: “Enjoy every sandwich.”
Liverpool at Bayern Munich
3 p.m. TNT
Liverpool’s Salah is one of the world’s top players
Liverpool has just one loss in 30 matches in English Premier League play this season. Bayern, per usual, is atop the Bundesliga table. When they met in their first leg of their Round of 16 tandem, the match ended scoreless. Winner take all this evening in Munich.
Weird to blame the rise of fascism on the existence of immigrants and not 18+ years of endless war nationalism, but then again if I wrote the “Axis of Evil” speech and was rehabilitated to polite society I guess I’d make a career out of pretending that speech never happened, too.
We love every little last thing about Russell Westbrook’s game, love his passion, and we’re old enough to remember sitting courtside at the Final Four, watching a UCLA team that featured him and Kevin Love somehow fail to advance to the national championship game.
Love Russ. We are worried about him, not because we think he’s doing anything wrong, necessarily, but because it is he who seems to most often get involved in courtside fan altercations, and he’s a future HOFer.
Let’s be honest. The last two places that Westbrook had trouble were Denver, last month, and Salt Lake City, last night. These are predominantly white towns with courtside fans who may be a little less, um, respectful toward African-American players. Last night’s incident inolved Shane Keisel, 45, whom Russ believe said to him, “Get down on your knees like you’re used to.”
Keisel agrees that he said something to Russ, that a few fans were jawing good-naturedly back and forth with him, but denies that he said that. It’s worth noting that Keisel deleted his Twitter account last night but not before someone was able to screen grab the tweet above.
2. A League That They Own
Napheesa Collier led the Huskies last night with 21 points. Now can someone tell me why Mike DiMauro is standing on the sideline here?
Even without their—and in our opinion, college basketball’s—best player, Katie Lou Samuelson, UConn won the American Athletic Conference tournament with a 21-point victory in last night’s championship game versus Central Florida.
The Huskies are now 120-0 in conference play since the AAC began play in 2014.
Forget Brexit (for another day or two). The United Kingdom just banned Boeing’s MAX 737 from its airspace following a second air disaster involving the aircraft, this one in Ethiopia, that claimed 157 lives over the weekend.
It’s the second catastrophic MAX 737 crash in the past six months: late last October a Lion Air flight out of Indonesia plunged into the sea just 12 minutes after takeoff, killing all 189 aboard. Saturday’s Ethiopian Air flight also crashed shortly after takeoff. Mitt Romney and two other Senators are lobbying for the FAA to follow Great Britain’s lead domestically, as passengers suddenly seem to care about what type of aircraft they’re flying.
4. Mother Tucker
Granted, Fox News’ Tucker Carlson is the winner of MH’s informal poll that asked, “Who has the most punchable face on TV?” but that does not mean we want him fired. You can say whatever you want to say and let the American public decide if they want to give yo an audience or not. That’s the Howard Beale Principle, after all.
What we do find objectionable, and yes Carlson made those despicable comments a decade ago, is that his default response to the MediaMatters revelations (one example, he defended marrying child brides as, you know, a cult thing, not a rape thing) is to defiantly say that he would not “bow down to the outrage mob.” A very Trumpian strategy, that: the problem isn’t with what I did, but with you being so zealous to get rid of me.
CNN’s Chris Cuomo called Carlson a “coward” last night—apparently because you can’t say “douchebag” on CNN—pointing out, either you’re not ashamed of what you said so repeat it here or not or you are, so apologize for it.
Pretty simple logic, that.
5. Bourbon Renewal
Don Draper’s preferred libation is also everyone’s. According to Business Insider, the Old Fashioned retains the title as the world’s most popular cocktail for the fifth consecutive year in 2019.
In the May 13, 1806 edition of The Balance and Columbian Repository (we only read it for the water table reports), editor Harry Croswell answered the question, “What is a cocktail?”
His response: “Cock-tail is a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters.” Now, there are plenty of other cocktails out there today, but Croswell’s answer was also nearly the definition of the Old Fashioned. All he failed to do was to specify what type of sports (bourbon or rye) and to note that the water should be two oversized ice cubes. Oh, and add a slide of orange rind.
A quick tutorial on how to make the world’s most popular drink:
Silent All These Years
I’m in the mood for sad and poignant songs this week, and Tori Amos is a master craftswoman at it. This piano ditty was released during peak-crunchy guitar grunge era and still made a huge impact on the MTV—didn’t hurt that the ginger-haired North Carolinian was a ravishing beauty who, years later we can assert, would have looked right at home on Game Of Thrones.
Ricky Gervais wrote and directed this six-episode, bingewatch-friendly tale of a middle-aged, grief-stricken widower in an idyllic seaside British town. There’s an element of Scrooge to the tale with a healthy helping of Gervais’ own views on religion and the posing of the timeless question, “Why must people be such shit so much of the time?” Ashley Jensen is back as his wonderful opposite sex foil while Penelope Wilton, as an elder who befriends Gervais and bestows wisdom upon him, is a pure delight.
“Grief, I’ve learned, is…all the love you want to give but cannot. Grief is just love with no place to go.”
“It’s okay,” I reassured him, his little kitty face resting on my chest, his eyes staring at mine. “It’s okay. It’s okay. It’s okay. It’s okay. It’s okay.”
Tears pooled in my eyes, the overflow cascading with a tremendous crash. This was Friday night, just after 10 p.m. This, we both knew, after six days of what at times looked as if it would be a recovery, was the end. I stroked his side, the lungs rising a little less each minute. His eyes, ordinarily aquamarine, were black beads. How do you capture a lifetime in just a few minutes?
I know, I know. He’s just a cat. And you may stop here and I won’t blame you.
The morning of October 1, 2001, was gray and dull. I was walking home from the gym and just before I entered my building on Riverside Drive, a man and woman, both slightly older, approached. They were in business attire. The man held open his palms to reveal a tiny kitten, no more than a month or two old.
They said they’d found him in a tree planter on the sidewalk. They both had to get to work. Would I mind taking care of him for the work day? The woman knew an older lady whom she thought would want it. Would I mind? No problem, I said, taking the Siamese-looking kitten from the man.
By the time I climbed the four flights of stairs to my front door, I knew this kitten (the breed, I’d later learn, was Balinese) was mine. Waited half an hour, phoned the lady, told her I wasn’t giving him back. She understood. I never spoke to those two again, would have no idea how to contact them. As far as I’m concerned, they’re angels.
That afternoon I phoned my Godliness-is-next-to-Cleanliness mother. “I’m taking in a kitten!” I told her.
“John, please no,” she said. “It’ll ruin your furniture (she was right). Cats can live as long as 19 years.”
In this case, 17 1/2.
My niece, a toddler at the time, noticed the white splotches on his paws and tried to say, “Milk.” She bungled it and in so doing named him: Mirk. Over the years he’d be called that or simply “The Kitty.” Not that it mattered. Mirk never came when you called him.
It took only a few moments for anyone meeting Mirk for the first time to realize that he was an extraordinarily handsome feline. It took less time after that to realize that Mirk knew it. He possessed the ego of a Pro Bowl wideout, but that only added to the legend.
Nights, Mirk would never come to bed with me. Instead, he’d wait about five minutes and then I’d hear him jump onto the foot of the bed. Slowly he’d approach, finally nestling in the crook of my left arm, allowing me to pet him for a few minutes. Perhaps a deep tissue massage for the hind quarters. If pleased, he would never purr like a cat but rather mew like a pigeon (a true New Yorker, he). Then, just as abruptly, he’d be gone, moving to the foot of the bed to sleep.
Mornings, Mirk was the alarm clock. Always about 45 minutes earlier than I’d like, he began brushing that sandpaper tongue against my face. First round, the corners of my lips. If that didn’t work, he’d circle my entire body, always counterclockwise, one orbit lasting about 20 seconds (just long enough to delude myself that I could return to sleep) and work on the orbital bone just outside my eyes. If that still didn’t work, another revolution and then, standing behind my head, he’d crook a paw into a nostril. If that still did not work, the same maneuver but this time with the claws out.
One fine May morning, my bedroom window open, we were both awakened by a rogue pigeon that flew right into the room and kept going. We both heard it and saw the gray streak fly into the living room. Mirk looked back at me for the briefest moment as if to ask, Am I dreaming? Then instinct took over.
The bird landed on a perch just below the skylight over my tub. Mirk stared intently at him from the bathroom tile below. I had to get to work. “You two figure it out,” I told him. The bird would eventually escape.
Nearly 18 years of meals taken at my coffee table that were a reign of terror. A bagel or toast for breakfast? Mirk would have some of that butter, thank you. A sandwich? He’s getting some of that deli meat. Dinner, if it had meat, became a one-for-you, one-for-me endeavor. There’s a popular take-out roast chicken joint here on the Upper West Side called Chirping Chicken and they do not know that for nearly 18 years their most zealous fan was The Kitty. When I brought Chirping Chicken home, any mode of decorum vanished. I was the singular lion and he was the pack of hyenas poaching my kill.
Roommate, antagonist, closest friend. Mirk was all of the above. Through failed jobs or failed relationships, he was a constant. Each night I’d open the door with a two-octaves higher “Kitty hello!” or “How’s my kitty!” and Mirk would jump off the couch or bed to greet me. Not to say hello, mind you, but to intercept me as I walked down the entrance hallway so as to stop me before I passed the kitchen.
“Kitty food!” I’d cry and he’d flash his default expression: impatient expectation. Mirk knew, every time, that there’d be a small tax to pay as I hoisted him up and performed my best Pepe Le Pew on him. These shamelessly overt displays of affection by me came to be known as Kitty Love Bombs, or KLBs.
Mirk traveled. One summer I was stationed in Minneapolis and one of my closest Notre Dame friends, a Minnesota native named Andre, was also headed home. The three of us drove out. Stopping at an I-80 rest stop in Ohio, we let Mirk out in a picnic area to stretch his legs. An elderly couple took Andre aside and told him they were fine with our alternative family arrangement.
Another time, Mirk and I were going to drive all the way to Arizona. At our first gas stop, in central Pennsylvania, I returned from the rest room to my overpacked vehicle to discover The Kitty missing. I phoned good friend Moose with what can only be described as a panic-stricken voice. This is how parents sound when their child doesn’t get off the bus at the assigned stop. “Someone’s stolen the kitty!” I cried as she attempted to talk me off the ledge.
Only a thorough search of the car would find The Kitty hiding beneath a few items, perfectly camouflaged. Moose still enjoys reminding me how terror-stricken I sounded.
(Friends and family, almost all of whom did a stretch of cat-sitting over the years—THANK YOU!—were well aware of my connection to Mirk. Everyone’s favorite MH writer, Katie McCollow, even painted a portrait of him that hangs in my living room. It’s as thoughtful a gift as anyone has ever given me.).
In his later years, as many senior citizens are wont to do, Mirk began spending portions of his winters in Arizona. As his caretaker, I felt obliged to accompany him. This winter, I had a strong sense that it might be his last, a fact that I was cognizant of but never fully emotionally aware of. How can you be?
Mirk’s final two months were full of sunshine, of double helpings of breakfast (he’d wait in the hallway for the first person to awaken, secure breakfast, finish it, then return to his hallway post to nab the second person—my mom or me—to get up. We caught on to his act quickly, but to know The Kitty is to not deny The Kitty), and of generous and frequent allotments of turkey or roast beef slices. And napping. Plenty of napping.
The end, thankfully, was rather quick. A stroke or seizure, a couple of days where it appeared that he was on the road to complete recovery, then a relapse. Last Friday morning the two of us sat in the Charlotte airport waiting to make a connection off a redeye flight. I sat in one of the pavilion’s oversized white rocking chairs, gently rocking The Kitty on my lap. He was spent, nearly a rag doll. A man about my age approached, a fellow animal lover.
“Is he sedated?” the man asked.
No, I told him. He’s had a rough week and he’s old.
The man stared at Mirk for a moment. Then he looked at me and with a voice filled with profound sincerity he said, “Good luck to you.”
He knew. And he’d probably been through it himself. Thank you, sir.
It’s okay. It’s okay. It’s okay.
I loved my father, but I didn’t really cry when he died seven years earlier on the same exact date. This weekend, however, I was a bawling mess. One of the lessons learned is that people are not unhappy because they are not receiving love. People are unhappy because they are not giving love, or because they are being denied the opportunity to give love, or don’t realize they have the opportunity to do so every day.
For the last few years I’d open the door to my apartment, see Mirk’s portrait by Katie staring directly back at me, then see Mirk pop his head up on the couch, directly beneath it, awakened from his slumber and moving on to his determined march to intercept me. Yesterday I opened the apartment door and there was only the portrait.
It’s not that I wish I had one more chance to truly show this creature how much I loved him. I did that for nearly 18 years and could not possibly have shown it more. It’s just that, as grief evinces, I had so much more to give. The look Mirk gave me with his final breaths, after being upright and having an appetite only two days earlier, said to me, I don’t want this journey to end, either. Why does it have to end?
Last week Moose, who once took in The Kitty for a five-month stretch in Beverly Hills, told me, “You saved him as a kitten. And then he saved you. You saved each other. And The Kitty never had a bad day with you.”
Life is precious, as is love. I feel remarkably, crushingly sad today, but only because I know how blessed I have been. How lucky that I happened to be walking outside my apartment at that time on that day so many years ago. Unhappiness is just love going untapped. For 17 years and five months, I never had that problem. Thank you, Mirk.
Sunday marks the 10th anniversary of the famed Haines Bottom. We’re not sure if we’ll be able to post tomorrow, so we’re commemorating this morning.
By March 10, 2009, the stock market had been cratering for nearly six full months. The true detonation day was Monday, September 15, 2008, when Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy and it became clear that it could not be saved, a lesion indicative of a far greater disease with which the banking industry was riven. The market tanked 504 points that day, or 4.4%
Either way, if you’re like us and were dumb enough to have been in over your ski tips in the summer of 2008, you got crushed (owning tens of thousands of dollars of Lehman Bros. stock sure didn’t help). By March of 2009 millions of Americans (us included) had been pink-slipped from jobs and the economic landscape looked bleaker than an episode of Ozark (we’re just guessing on that; we still have yet to watch).
But on that morning of March 10, 2009, the late and great CNBC anchor Mark Haines told his morning partner Erin Brunette, “I’m going to step out on a limb here…I think we’ve hit a bottom, I really do.”
And he was right.
The day before, March 9, the Dow had closed at 6,547, more than 54% off its then all-time high of 14,000 in October of 2007. The thing about bottoms, and particularly having one so accurately called by an anchor on the most-watched financial network out there, is that if you DO have available cash and if you DO act on that call, there’s no legal way we know of to acquire wealth faster.
Consider: Apple (as in “Tim Apple”) shares were selling for about $13 per share when Haines made his call. Here we are, at the 10th anniversary (this Sunday) of the Haines Bottom and Apple is selling for $174. So that’s about a 12x jump.
Shares of Sirius Satellite (SIRI) were selling for as low as FIVE CENTS per share in February of 2009. Sure, the smart bet would have been to think SIRI was going out of business. But if you had just laid down $10,000 (for 200,000) shares in February of 2009, that $10,000 would now be worth… $1.2 MILLION.
(We bought 20,000 shares, or $1,000 worth, but foolishly sold when that doubled).
Ten thousand….to $1.2 million. On one stock. In one decade. Someone probably did that. And all they had to do was listen to Mark Haines.
Bull markets are great. But bottoms, and having cash available when they hit, is where the real money awaits. By the way, the Dow is now at 25,673, so just playing index funds alone you should be up four times from where we were when Haines called that bottom that day.
2. Au Re-VAR, PSG*
*The judges agree this may be un peu contrive
Finally, football fans on both sides of the Atlantic can loathe video replay. In yesterday’s Round of 16 Champions League match between Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain, the series was basically decided by VAR (Video Assistant Referee) on the play above.
The scenario: Manchester United had lost 2-0 two weeks ago at home in Old Trafford. In Champions League history, no squad had ever overcome a 2-0 home loss in the first leg to come back and win the leg (since you’d have to win on the road by at least two goals). But that’s what happened.
The play of the match…
Heading into stoppage time, a mere 3 to 4 minutes, PSG was trailing 2-1 in the game but in aggregate goals led 3-2. In other words, to hold Manchester scoreless would mean PSG advanced, but if Manchester scored the British side would advance (in event of a tie, i.e. 3-3 aggregate, the side with more away goals advances).
Diego Dalot of United sent a rocket toward goal, and PSG’s Presnel Kimbempe turned away out of self preservation. His arm involuntarily struck the ball. The referee on the field did not signal hand ball, but play was stopped and Manchester was awarded a free kick. Goaaaalllllll!
3. Hippo Happenstance
As if Colombia were not dangerous enough, it now has a herd of more than 4 dozen hippopotami (and we love it). During his Eighties hey days, when drug lord Pablo Escobar was the wealthiest and most feared drug lord on the planet, he had an ark’s worth of African wildlife imported for his private zoo located at Villa Napoles.
Among the rich pageantry were four hippos. Once Escobar was captured, most of the other animals were relocated to zoos, but the hippos were left to roam the waterways (who was going to catch them?). With no endemic predators such as crocs and lions to pick off the young, the hippo quartet has grown to a genuine herd.
How do you stop them? With guns, of course. Or cocaine overdoses. For now, though, the hippos are running and swimming wild. “We can’t just kill the hippos and the other solution is relocating hippos, sterilizing hippos,” says biologist David Echeverri , who tracks them locally. The hippos are popular.
And why not? In Africa, hippos kill more humans than any other large wild animal. But Pablo Escobar was reportedly responsible for the deaths of 7,000 or so people. As tradeoffs go, Colombia is winning in every way possible.
4. When You’d Rather Be Dead, Anyway
The worst happy ending involving a billionaire naked on a table since Robert Kraft’s
What’s worse than the world knowing that you’re undergoing penis enlargement surgery? Dying on the table during said surgery. And what’s even worse than that? Being a billionaire, which means that you could have paid for just about anything in the world your heart—or an organ located a little lower—desired.
A word to our billionaire friends: next time just buy a yacht or an island. A
Also, we apologize because it feels as if there must be a half dozen puns we left hanging (like that) and just didn’t try hard enough to locate.
5. McSally Ride*
*The judges apologize profusely
Arizona junior Republican senator Martha McSally, a retired Air Force colonel who was the first American female to fly in combat (assuming there were no transgender males flying…that was for my Twitter mentions), reveals that while serving she was raped by a superior officer. Kind of a big revelation, MM.
McSally’s testimony came at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing about preventing sexual assault in the military. Even though she’s no longer flying, she’s still dropping bombs. So now what?
McSally said that she did not report the rape at the time “because I did not trust the system.” She obviously still does not. While the statute of limitations may have passed, it would be a bold act and a courageous one for McSally to name her rapist. Maybe he is still in the Air Force and maybe that would embolden a more recent victim to come forward. Either way, she has enough gravitas behind her name that people would hopefully take her accusation seriously.
So many one-hit wonders, just one decade: The Seventies. How can you be sure it’s the Seventies, Jdub? The lead vocalist is the drummer wearing a powder-blue polyester sports jacket, that’s how I can be sure. Here’s Jigsaw, from 1975, with a song written for a martial arts film that surprisingly rose to No. 3 on the charts.
All The President’s Men
8 p.m. TCM
The most accurate film about print journalism ever made (until someone makes one about this administration, which we have already tentatively titled Blood Is Thicker Than Watergate). Nominated for eight Oscars, it won four, including a well-deserved Best Supporting Actor for Jason Robards. It lost to Rocky for Best Picture, which is both fair and indicative of a period in American history where as a nation we just wanted to feel positive again. If inclined, read this companion piece by an author you already know.
Read the story. There really is an epidemic of illegal crossings, if you take these numbers at face value. A deluge. The system is overwhelmed and yet, at the same time, the experts suggest that building a wall is not going to do much, if anything, to curb it.
Will the concept of asylum as a legitimate means of entry need to be suspended? Will the U.S. get even tougher (i.e., violent/martial law) about illegal crossings?
As I’ve said from the beginning, and it’s really only half-facetious, why not just invade Mexico and claim the northern-most, say, 300 miles across as part of the USA? If so many of your people want to be here anyway, why not just convert there to here?
Got a better idea?
2. Jessica Creates Baseball’s New Mendoza Line
As baseball purists know, the Mendoza Line was a reference to former infielder Mario Mendoza and his career batting average that always hovered around .200 (he finished at .215). But yesterday the Mets hired ESPN Sunday Night Baseball analyst Jessica Mendoza as part of their front-office personnel evaluation staff. Except that she will also remain with ESPN.
Hmm. We’re all for females breaking glass ceilings, but I wonder how ESPN feels about paying the Mets’ scouting expenses for Mendoza, just as a jumping-off point in terms of conflicts of interest and overlapping.
3. Forest Gumption
First thing you do, locate Garberville, Calif., on a map (about 200 miles due north of San Francisco) and you realize it’s a fairly remote area. Next, see these two young sisters, Leia and Caroline Carrico, ages 8 and 5? They live on 80 acres of land up there with their family, but over the weekend they wandered into the woods and got lost.
For 44 hours.
The sisters survived, aided by some of their 4-H training. We wondered if their parents would ground them, but their mom has already said no, that she’s too proud of them for taking care of one another. Our next question is whether they were missing long enough to merit a Netflix documentary? Probably not.
4. Attorney Turnabout
Ty Cobb: Just begging to be cast in the next John Grisham movie.
Inside-the-Beltway lawyer news that would seem more shocking if we didn’t have at least one BOMBSHELL per day during this administration: 1) Matt Whitaker, a.k.a. Mr. Clean a.k.a. he played in the Rose Bowl and Rod Rosenstine probably did not, is leaving the Justice Dept. Whitaker’s tenure with the Justice Dept. wasn’t exactly Scaramucci swift in terms of Trump appointees, more like Spicer swift. He lasted from September 22 until last Saturday, a period of nearly six months. 2) Ty Cobb, former White House counsel who was appointed after Robert Mueller was appointed Special Counsel and remained in his position for about a year, said on a podcast earlier this week that he considers Mueller “an American hero” and that he does not believe “the investigation is a witch hunt.” He also advised Mueller to come at Trump spikes-high and that a slap single is as good as a gapper.
5. Carry On, Hayward Son
The Celtics’ Gordon Hayward, who missed the final 81 1/2 games last season after suffering a devastating knee injury in his first half with Boston (at Cleveland; LeBron was a Cav and Susie B. was a happy soul), scores a season-high 30 off the bench. The Celtics stomp Golden State (minus Klay) at Oracle by 33 points (128-95), the Warriors’ worst home loss under Steve Kerr since he arrived.
What does this mean? Less for the Dubs on the downside than for the Celtics, who entered the contest 1-5 in their previous six games, on the upside. Boston knows what it’s capable of when Kyrie-Jayson-Gordon are clicking and when the complementary parts (e.g., Aron Baynes) to their part.
Meanwhile, if you’re keeping score, ESPN.com posted a devastated story on Suns management on Monday and that evening Phoenix went out and blasted the NBA’s best team by record, Milwaukee. On Tuesday The Big Lead posted a “Kyrie Irving Has Checked Out In Boston” piece, and then Irving went off for 19 and 11 in the victory.
Please, please, someone post a “Lakers Are Toast” piece ahead of tonight’s visit by the Denver Nuggets to Staples so we can bet the house on LeBron.
In Champions League play, Real Madrid entered its home second-leg versus Ajax with a one-goal aggregate lead and…choked! The Dutch advance with a 4-1 win (5-3 aggregate) and knock out the Spaniards way earlier than they are used to.
We finally saw Bohemian Rhapsody and a few thoughts: 1) We truly enjoyed it, 2) That said, a plethora of the scenes were boiler-plate (Freddie’s snotty rebel retort to his dad in their first scene, for example), particularly any confrontational scenes, and/or sanitized for our protection 2) Are we to understand that Freddie Mercury never bought his parents a new home? 3) Rami Malek, particularly as older Freddie, was transformative, 4) giving Mike Meyers the “No teenage kids are ever going to rock out to this song in a car” line was a wonderful Easter Egg, 4) We liked how if you paid close attention that was U2 coming down the steps offstage at Wembley in the opening scene, but that the directors didn’t overtly announce it (a la a Wayne’s Worldian, “Hey, Bono of U2, great set!”); that said, the lineup that day was U2, Dire Straits and then Queen, so Freddie would have been walking past Mark Knopfler, 5) Yes, there were numerous chronological inconsistencies such as the one above, and that will make the music critics sniff, but still it was great fun, 6) However, maybe it’s fair to say that in the case of rock band biopics, the documentary (or mockumentary, Rob Reiner and Michael McKean) is the preferred genre. They tell a more accurate story plus you get to use the actual footage of the real band performing, 7) If the actor playing bassist John Deacon looked vaguely familiar, he was the boy in the original Jurassic Park and the main character in The Pacific (Joseph Mazzello).
River Of Deceit
Two of our favorite tunes of the grunge era came from bands that were side projects: 1) “Hunger Strike,” which featured members of Pearl Jam and Soundgarden and 2) this 1995 gem from Mad Season, which included one member each from Pearl Jam and Screaming Trees plus, on vocals, the late Layne Staley of Alice In Chains.
Manchester United at Paris Saint-Germain
3 p.m. TNT
Man U trails 2-0 in aggregate as we head into the second leg from the Parc des Princes. PSG’s Kylian Mbappe was the breakout star of last summer’s World Cup while Man U. counters with one of the world’s most physical players, Romelu Lukaku, as well as gifted midfield Paul Pogba.
Yesterday the dude who taught us how to leave cool voice messages on our answering machine (“You know the drill”) passed away at the all-too-young age of 52. Luke Perry wasn’t the first James Dean to ever make a leather jacket cool, he was just the first James Dean makeover of the Nineties.
We like the line that Rob Sheffield wrote in his Rolling Stone tribute: “Luke Perry walked so Jordan Catalano could run.” The actor who played Catalano on My So-Called Life, has gone on to greater stardom than Perry ever knew post-90210, but it’s fair to say that Perry was the most charismatic bad boy teen on TV since…The Fonz? At least the way Fonz was originally written.
In the Nineties three shows exploded that made southern California appear irresistibly seductive: Beverly Hills 90210, Melrose Place and Baywatch. All had their moments, or time in the sun, but 90210 was the first. And Perry’s Dylan McKay character provided the show with a much needed counterbalance. He was The Outsider that S.E. Hinton would’ve conjured is she were in the writer’s room. Definitely not from the same zip code as Brandon and Brenda Walsh.
2. Asia Is An Ashtray
A report from AirVisual measured global pollution by cities. Of the worst 100 cities in the world in terms of pollution, India claims 33 (and 22 of the top 30). China has a whopping 57 cities on the list. That leaves just 10 other cities for other nations, none of which are in North or South America or Australia. And Europe claims only one, in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Clean up your act, China and India (which, yes, are also the world’s two most-populous nations).
3. My Dinner With Oubre
Weird happenings last night in the Wild, Wild Worst where the Phoenix Suns, whose management was (rightly) torn a new one on ESPN.com yesterday and who entered tied for the worst record in the NBA, beat the Milwaukee Bucks, who entered the day with the NBA’s best record.
The Suns, who lost 17 straight before the All-Star break and who have been the NBA’s worst team much of the season, have now swept the Bucks in their two meetings this season. The Bucks have had the league’s best record most of the season.
Also, the LOLakers lost again last night, ignominiously at home to their co-tenants, the Clips. LeBrakers are now 30-34 and probably won’t advance to the 8th seed just to get wiped by the Dubs—though that’s the matchup most of us wanna see, no?
(The Lakers had a decent young core with Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram. Everyone else is expendable. Adding LeBron to this mix was the worst move for all parties involved. It’s like a summer stock troupe adding an aging Richard Burton and then he goes around telling them why they can’t act. I’d ditch LeBron for some draft picks. Seriously.)
As for the Suns, they’ve won three of four and the Knicks, who now have the NBA’s worst record, visit next. It’s as if they want no part of Zion Williamson. The best thing about the Suns this past month? Forward Kelly Oubre, who has had a career epiphany in the Valley. The fourth-year forward, an afterthought in Washington, is averaging 16 points off the bench and scored a game-high 27 last night. Moreover, the 6’7″ forward attacks the basket like a young Scottie Pippen. Truly a gamer. I don’t know what he was doing in D.C., but he is a definite keeper for this young team.
Here’s an invitation to read Jane Mayer‘s outstanding article in The New Yorker (Libtards!) about the footsie-footsie relationship between Fox News and President Trump. The big reveal comes late in the piece: In October of 2016 Diana Falzone, a FoxNews.com reporter, obtained proof of the Trump-Stormy Daniels affair-cum-hush money deal, including having personally seen the contract between the two parties.
Falzone filed her story, but editor after editor passed it off until the top editor at FoxNews.com, Ken LaCorte, told her, “Good reporting, kiddo. But Rupert wants Donald Trump to win. So just let it go.”
Later Falzone was demoted. She later left Fox and sued and like so many women who have had awful interactions with Donald Trump, she took the money and signed an NDA. Sad!
I’ve worked at both Fox and at NBC. Their buildings are catty corner to one another across 48th and 6th. For the life of me I don’t understand why, upon hearing that from LaCorte, Falzone didn’t pack her bags and walk across the intersection (or even take the undeground plaza) to 30 Rock and deliver the greatest bombshell of the election. It might’ve changed history. It definitely would have catapulted her career and, to a small degree, buried Fox News.
Don’t get it.
Mayer’s story is meticulously and thoroughly reported. Really worth your time.
The indoor mile record of 3:48.45, set by Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco in 1997 in Belgium, is no more. Last weekend at Boston University Yomif Kejelcha of Ethiopia, age 21, set a news standard with a 3:47.01. Kejelcha is coached by Alberto Salazar of the Nike Oregon Project who has been under a cloud of suspicion for doping, etc., in the past five years. You’d love to love Kejelcha’s record, especially since it is the first at an iconic distance in this sport in 22 years, buuuuuuut….
The outdoor mile record of 3:43.13 remains and El Guerrouj also holds that mark. But Kejelcha will be gunning for it this spring.
When My Time Comes
If Mumford Sons and Uncle Tupelo had a love child, that progeny would be Los Angeles-based folk band Dawes. Sage lyric here: “Oh you can judge the whole world on the sparkle that you think that it lacks/Yes, you can stare into the abyss but it’s staring right back.”
Dawes has a problem attracting fans on Long Island, who when told about them ask, “Isn’t Jim Morrison dead?”
Ajax vs. Real Madrid
3 p.m. TNT
Champions League. Real Madrid defeated Ajax in Amsterdam in the first leg of their Round of 16 tandem, 2-1. Because Away Goals are a tiebreaker, the Dutch side will need to win at least 2-1 to force overtime or 3-2 or by two goals to flat-out win. The Spanish club no longer has Ronaldo but Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema remain.
At this weekend’s CPAC—Chronically Paranoid And Christian—they desecrated the legacy of John McCain, pushed the flag into the MeToo movement, warned that the Democrats are here to take away your newborns and hamburgers, and a dude who earns $5,000,000 annually proselytizing for gun rights fulminated about elitists while standing in a room where firearms were prohibited.
Also, President Trump spoke for two hours and 20 minutes, uninterrupted, a feat that has inspired us to coin a new term: filibluster.
2. Mulaney Mastery
If he’s not the best John to appear on SNL since Belushi, he’s certainly the best John who once lived in Chicago and has a seven-letter surname to appear on SNL since Belushi. John Mulaney, erstwhile SNL writer and rising comic, returned to guest-host for the second time and not coincidentally it was the strongest SNL by far of the season. What makes that assertion more bizarre is that the cold open and Weekend Update were relatively weak.
The skits, though, were vintage early SNL stuff (we’re talking late Seventies). And Mulaney made them sizzle. Our four favorites: 1) What’s That Name?, which took SNL’s overused game-show sketch concept but put a hilarious spin on it (Mulaney’s long-time partner in comedy from SNL, Bill Hader, played the host; this sketch had been cut in 2011 back when Mulaney was a writer), 2) To Have And Have Not, with Kate McKinnon as Lauren Bacall and Mulaney as Bogey, 3) The Wedding Dance, which cannot be appreciated enough for the choreography Mulaney had to get down in just a week’s time, and 4) Bodega Of Love, which was music theater-geek heaven that cribbed parody tunes from Willy Wonka, Little Shop of Horrors and Rent.
It’s funny. When Mulaney auditioned for SNL a decade or so ago, Lorne Michaels saw that he was smart and witty but they did not think of him as a performer. They slotted him as a writer. It would seem, as Mulaney lives in NYC and is married, that all would benefit if they begged him to return as a Tina Fey-like head writer/performer, no?
3. C’mon, Get Happy!
Speaking at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston (the Davos for sneaker heads) this weekend, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said, “A lot of players are unhappy.”
He’s right, of course. Anthony Davis? Not happy. LeBron James? Not happy. Kyrie Irving? Not happy and for the second time in as many years pundits are saying how it’s right for the perennial All-Star and his current team to divorce.
The average—AVERAGE—NBA player salary is more than $7 million per year. The average height of an NBA player is, we’re guessing here, 6’5″ to 6’6″. NBA players don’t have as long a season as MLB players and are not subject to the brutal and potentially catastrophic collisions that NFL players are. Moreover, their work uniform is basically what you and I had to remember to bring to school for 4th-grade gym class.
“A lot of players are unhappy.”
There’s a lot going on here, and Silver put part of the blame on anxiety caused by social media (pro tip: that’s not going away any time soon, guys). The lesson, which we learned long ago, is easy, and it’s about grass not being greener elsewhere. The happiest people are those who, regardless of money or height or teammates, those who wake up and decide that they’re going to make the place they’re at the best place it can be.
And if you can lure Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins, that ain’t bad, either.
4. Here’s The Beef
That’s former Ole Miss wideout D.K. Metcalf, whose 1.63% body fat on a 6’3″, 228-pound frame had NFL scouts and pundits agog in Indianapolis this weekend (never mind that Notre Dame wideout Miles Boykin is essentially the same size, just an inch taller, and comparatively posted the same numbers as Metcalf in all the drills—better in some, slightly worse in others). Anyway, Metcalf probably weight-roomed himself into a first-round pick, if not first-half of first round.
Our deal: For the second consecutive year, the best player in the NFL draft has a first name that begins with Q. Last year it was Quenton Nelson, whom the Colts took at No. 6 and who started immediately and made the Pro Bowl as a rookie. Barring injury, Nelson is a sure-fire Hall of Famer.
Quinnen is your top pick. Or should be.
This year it’s Alabama interior defensive lineman Quinnen Williams, who had the fastest 40 time for a 300-pounder in 13 seasons. And he’s a beast on the field. Word out of Indy is that new Cardinal head coach Kliff Kingsbury is going to draft Kyler Murray (all 5’10” of him) with the No. 1 overall pick, and we like the Heisman winner, but what a colossal mistake that would be. You’ve got a shot at what may be an even better version of Aaron Donald and a second-year quarterback who was taken in the top ten last year. The Cardinals are going to screw this up, aren’t they?
5. Deadly In Alabama
Tornadoes sweep across Alabama, killing 23 in one county, Lee, on Sunday. It’s the deadliest tornado day in the U.S. in five years.