by John Walters

Starting Five

Europe is bae and England’s all like, don’t play me no more

1. London Crawling*

*The judges will also accept “Where, Wolves of London?” or “Children of Mendicants” or “We’re Out of the European Union, Jack!” or even “Finding Tory.”

Have you heard about the new Brexit Diet? Swear off the European Union and watch the pounds disappear!

Boris Johnson champions MEGA: Make England Great Again!

I am not astute enough to understand all the nuances and ramifications of the vote in which the British decided to exit the EU, but I do know that this dude, Boris Johnson, is the pol who championed the “LEAVE” movement, and if he does not remind you of somebody stateside, well….

Maybe watch this video:

Damn, that female “presenter” is brilliant. Jolly good show!

Meanwhile, for us Yanks, I kind of see Brexit as the mild heart attack we had as our own election looms. Will we swear off the double cheeseburgers or will we just pretend that our heart will never explode as we make choices based on instant gratification?

2. Dunn Deal

Dunn is that rare rookie who played four years of college and was still drafted in the Top 5

Did anyone behave with more sagacity in last night’s NBA Draft than the Minnesota Timberwolves (no, you don’t need glasses; I actually typed that). First, the T-Wolves selected Kris Dunn out of Providence, who may not have Ben Simmons’ or Brandon Ingram’s talent, but he probably has the most NBA polish of anyone left.

Second, they did not trade any of their young nucleus, specifically Zach LaVine, for Chicago’s Jimmy Butler. Again, wise. I know Butler is an All-Star and in his prime, but if you watched Minnesota a year ago, they have a bunch of barely legal guys who like one another and are growing up together. They TRUST one another (Lavine, Andrew Wiggins, Shabazz Muhammad, Karl-Anthony Towns) and it shows. If you watched them beat Golden State on its home floor this season, one of only two teams in the regular season to do so, you saw that. This is  a playoff team next year and if they can stay together, are going to go far.

“Glory Days, hey, they’ll pass you by, Glory Days…”

I see a lot of potential for the 2012 OKC Thunder in these T-Pups. That squad had Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Serge Ibaka. Then they decided that they could not pay them all, and perhaps they were right, but none of those four guys have a ring and maybe they never will. Cue Al Green: “Let’s stay together…”

That’s all for now, kids. We’ll try to post more later….

3. Lithe and Lively

And you’re telling me there’s also a plot?

The Shallows: Sort of a fish-out-of-water involving a Texan on a remote Mexican beach being terrorized by a malevolent shark.

Finding Dory: A fish-in-the-water-out-of-water story involving a tiny fish who just wants to find her family.

Hope and Dory

The difference is that Blake Lively in a bathing suit versus Ellen Degeneres as a pixilated regal blue tang. So, you know…

4. Now He’s on The Tonight Show

Two weeks ago my friend Tim Ring, the best sports anchor in Phoenix, sent me a YouTube video of his close friend’s son, Jack Aiello, masterfully impersonating political candidates in his 8th grade graduation speech from Thomas Middle School in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

Two nights ago, with Tim’s help and that of a few others who made sure to get that video in front of the eyes of Tonight Show producers, Jack made his network television debut. I honestly don’t know of any professional comic, including those on Saturday Night Live, who can do all five of those voices (Trump, Sanders, Cruz, Clinton and Obama) any better. That may not be the last late night Aiello works at 30 Rock.

5. The Death of Vinyl (Not Again)

The show itself had a personality crisis, but it was still terrific

No, Vinyl was not the next Breaking Bad, Mad Men or Game of Thrones. But it was a good show that took some ambitious steps (occasionally overreaching, sure) that was extremely faithful to the New York City of the early Seventies that I remember as a boy, right down to Max Kinsella’s cheesy outfits.

It dropped real-life music history references and dared you to fact-check them online for accuracy (yes, Bruce Springsteen and Bob Marley actually did play the same night at Max’s Kansas City in July of 1973) and it introduced us to fantastic young actors such as Ato Essandoh.

One of its better moments….

Then again, True Detective lasted but one season (I know, I know; that’s my point), and you can’t take Rust Cohle and Marty Hart away from me. So I guess I’ll just have to think of the gang from the record company whose logo resembled a toilet bowl that way. RIP, Vinyl. Godspeed, Richie!


by John Walters

A Medium Happy 39th to the wizard of oohs and has and fa la la’s, Mr. A to Z

Starting Five

Someone, fetch a guitar and a Joan Baez song book, pronto!

Periscope (and a Likely Need for Scope Mouthwash)

The Democratic sit-in in Congress over gun control extends into its 22nd hour as I write this. The Republican hold-our-breaths-and-do-nothing-til-Obama-leaves-office extends into its eighth year.

2. Insane Bolts*

*That one judge who pines for MTV’s “120 Minutes” suggested “Lightning Crashes,” but he was overruled.

Earlier this week, at least 100 people in India were killed in separate lightning strikes in four Indian states. According to the Indian government, “lightning is the leading killer among natural disasters in India. In 2014, at least 2,582 people died in lightning strikes.”

There are plenty of monsoons in India, and there’s plenty of lightning. But there’s also a whole lot of people, too, many of whom live in highly exposed conditions.Very roughly, India has about four times as many people as the United States living in one-third the geographic area. Think about that the next time you (rightfully) moan about traffic.

3. Brexit Polls

I haven’t done enough research to know whether Great Britain should remain in the European Union. I only know that 1) it would be bad form to leave just as two three U.K. sides (England, Northern Ireland, Wales) advance to the 16-team knockout stage of Euro 2016 and 2) that at least there are some homegrown hooligans who a long time ago wrote the perfect theme song for this dilemma. “Indecision me molesta….”

The vote is today.

4. Ben A’f**k

Either Ben Affleck was the first Bostonian guest on Bill Simmons’ HBO premiere of Any Given Wednesday or he was doing a line reading from Glengarry Glen Ross. I counted 20 26 (I stopped early, then listened til the end) F-bombs or uses of the word “shit” in his 3-minute rant on DeflateGate after Simmons lobbed the pitch in.

I liked the show enough, although the last thing Simmons needs is guests such as Affleck: people from the same place as him who think like him. Who’s next, Katie Nolan? The Savage Brothers? Conflict makes good theater. Ask Bill Maher.

5. Rose Garden

Lynn Anderson had a country hit in the early Seventies with “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden.” But now Jim Dolan, New York Knicks Chief Executive of Screwing Things Up, has. The Knicks traded for Derrick Rose yesterday, the Seabiscuit of basketball. Love Rose, the former MVP, and he’s in the final year of his contract. But is he washed up? And will Dwight Howard join him? And will Carmelo ever pass the ball?

Music 101

Look What You’ve Done To Me

Somewhere between Saturday Night Fever and the launch of MTV, the film Urban Cowboy was released. It starred John Travolta and Debra Winger, and was basically a mash-up of their most successful films, SNF and An Officer and a Gentleman. But it also worked because it had infectiously good tunes, even if you didn’t listen to country and western. This slow-dancer from Boz “Lido Shuffle” Scaggs was its breakout, crossover hit, and got monster air play in the summer of 1980. It reached No. 4 in 1980 as everyone was racing to buy cowboy boots and learning how to two-step.

Remote Patrol

NBA Draft

7 p.m. ESPN

In February, everyone loved Buddy Hield. Then they didn’t. Is he going to make some team look smart, or dumb, by taking him in top 7?

Is it just me or do the Philadelphia 76ers have the Number one overall pick for like the 5th year in a row? Actually, this is their first No. 1 overall pick since 1996 (Iverson), but it will be their third top three pick in as many seasons. Maybe they’ll get this one right.



by John Walters

A Medium Happy 67th to Meryl Streep….quit acting like you’re not happy about it

Starting Five

Messi and his amigos walked all over the Americans, but at least they had a chance to face the best soccer player of their time

Don’t Cry For U.S., Argentina

In the Copa, Copa America semi-final, Argentina defeats the Yanks 4-0 in Houston. Lionel Messi scored a goal on a free kick, his career record-breaking 55th for his country. Argentina will face the winner of Colombia-Chile next Monday at Met Life Stadium. Messi’s five goals lead this tourney. He’s very, very, very, very good.

2. This Tower Trumps All

Currently, the world’s tallest building is the Burj Khalifa in Dubai (which is 2,717 feet tall; not to be confused with Wiz Khalifa, who’s about 6’4″ but is often just as high) but officials have announced that The Tower (working title) at Dubai Creek Harbour, now under construction, will be taller. I guess now that everyone has access to interpreters, no one in that part of the world gets freaked out by those Tower of Babel tales any more.

Burj Khalifa

The Tower, which reportedly cost $1 billion, is set to be about 100 meters taller than Burj Khalifa and to be completed by 2020. It will have a hotel on the upper floors and it should totally have a zip line stretching across the Red Sea to Cairo. How cool would that be?

3.  Lynx Top Sparks

Everyone’s favorite spurned Olympian, Candace Parker, led her squad in rebounds and assists but shot just 3 of 13

You would not know it from perusing the or headlines, but there was a pretty big WNBA contest yesterday. The Minnesota Lynx (13-0) topped the Los Angeles Sparks (11-1) in a game that began at 12:30 p.m. local time and reportedly had 9,112 in attendance. The Lynx stayed perfect despite shooting just 3 of 15 from beyond the arc.

If the WNBA needs to downsize after this season, these two franchises should merge and be known as the Spanx (“waka waka waka”).

4. Enter The Dragan

Bender, who will not turn 19 until late November, will draw countless comparisons to Kristaps Porzingis

Anyone who watched the New York Knicks play this season (and Brad Stevens, the NBA’s best coach who never was employed by the San Antonio Spurs, did) knows you can do worse than a European seven-footer, while anyone who watches Game of Thrones understands what an indispensable weapon a dragon, or a Dragan, could be.

Enter 7’1″ Croatian teen Dragan Bender. I’m praying he’s available at No. 4 for the Phoenix Suns, but I fear that the Boston Celtics, picking at No. 3, are going to pluck him first (Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram go 1-2). C’mon, guys, a little pay back for the Dennis Johnson-Rick Robey trade, please.* **

*Chances that Bill Simmons discusses whom Boston should take on the series premiere of Any Given Wednesday tonight? 100%.

**This is not my first “I Hope The Suns Get Bender” item I’ve run in MH, but I figure if I keep saying it, it just might come true.

5. Stump Tower

Faux Young and Neil Young (L to R)

This is what Jimmy Fallon does best. He’s a terrific musical performer and mimic. So why not “Two Neil Youngs on a Tree Stump?

Music 101

No One Is To Blame

In 1985 Howard Jones released Dream Into Action and Side 1 (ask your parents) was nothing but hit after hit. This was his power ballad and if it sounds a little Phil Collins-y, that’s because the ex-Genesis drummer produced the single version of this song a year later. It peaked at No. 4 in the U.S. in the spring of ’86.

Remote Patrol

Any Given Wednesday

HBO 10 p.m.

Yeah, he kinda does look like Ellen….

This is the show that my friend Steve Rushin should have hosted, but, oh well. Bill Simmons, we’re ready for your closeup and let’s just remember that Simmons, 46, is the first person to connect sports with (wanking) pop (motion) culture. He’s a genius.

Okay, I sound a little bitter (why should today be any different?), but I’m incredulous that Simmons gets the credit for this when a plethora of writers, including every millennial’s favorite pin cushion, Rick Reilly, were doing this years ago. Simmons’ legacy is not the pop culture-sports connection, but rather being the outsider who wrote from a fan’s perspective and was very funny doing so. Now that he’s an insider, that part of his act is gone.

Guests: Charles Barkley and Ben “I Guess You Were Unable to Book Matt Damon” Affleck.



by John Walters

A Medium Happy 36th to Richard Jefferson, who started celebrating about 33 hours ago

Starting Five

Bale needs to get his man bun back to the U.K.

1. Bale-yhoo

We are almost through the group stage of Euro 2016, and the star of our show thus far is Gareth Bale of Wales (registered Medium Happy man crush), who has one goal in each of his country’s three games. The Welsh defeated Russia, 3-0, last night and will advance to the knockout round.

The Bale I’ve watched the past 10 days is the one I recall playing for Tottenham Hot Spur: lightning-fast, dynamic, joyful, charismatic. The one I see playing for Real Madrid, one of the top clubs in the world (they’ve won Champions League two of the past three years), is subdued, due in part to the fact that he’s teammates with someone who in Spain will always out-Bale him: Cristiano Ronaldo.

A British Gareth of lesser renown

I’m happy for Gareth that he’s raked in so many Euros, but this non-currency Euro is proof that he belongs in the Premier League, back home. It’s only the most widely watched soccer league in the world and the day he returned he’d be its most captivating player.

2. “You’re Fired!”

Will Scott Baio now take over as Trump’s right hand man?

Donald Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski goes the way of Omarosa and Ian Ziering as he is fired, reportedly after the Trump kids persuaded pops to can him. No forearms were bruised in the carrying out of Lewandowski’s exit from Trump Tower, although a feeling or two may have been.

3. The Right To Bare Asses

What I hear mostly from 2nd Amendment fanatics (and yes, that is the word I mean to use) is that this is the Constitution giving them the right to defend themselves. So if I take them strictly at their word, a gun is a utilitarian object. A gun serves a defined purpose and a singular purpose, one that is essential to their general welfare.

I get it. Kind of like a toilet. Nobody is thrilled by toilets, but every home needs at least one (I’d go with three, especially if you are a fan of Indian food).

Except that’s not what these people are truly about. Too many of them attend gun shows, show off their guns with pride, maybe even subscribe to Guns & Ammo. And there’s nothing illegal about any of that, it’s just that they never tell you the truth: they LOVE guns.

Remember when he used to just tape a hand gun to the back of a toilet?

And so I have to ask, Why? Guns kill things. Creatures or people. I understand if someone is breaking down your door, coming to kill you and your family (an every day occurrence), but I don’t see you going to dead-bolt lock shows, either, and those offer a modicum of self-defense in such a situation.

You love guns. You love guns more than you love public safety. I just don’t get that. And for all that “armed militia” stuff I hear, well, you’re going to need a little more than that if the U.S. Army ever really wanted to seize your property. Maybe you can launch a toilet at them.

One last thing: I’m not saying they don’t exist, but I’ve never had a female defend the 2nd Amendment to me on Twitter. Not once. So I wonder what so many males are compensating for with their love of guns.

And I’m not anti-2nd Amendment. I’m anti-insanity, which is what assault rifles and AR-15s being available for public consumption happens to be.

4. “Choke” Hold

On one side, according to Twitter, you have my friend Jason McIntrye and likely many others. On the other, you have Scott Van Pelt, Chris “Bear” Fallica and myself (and maybe a few others). The question: Did the Warriors “choke?”


I guess the first thing that I know I find kind of offensive (relatively; it’s just sports) is a bunch of yokels who can’t even go left on the dribble being so judgmental and disdainful of athletes who just gave us a show like the one Cleveland and Golden State did. Can’t people be just a little grateful about what they were given? You and I, let’s remember, did nothing to deserve this other than subscribe to cable or buy a 12-pack of Coors Light.


But, beyond that, there’s the term choke, which I’ve always interpreted to mean as when one side only needs an uncontested layup, figurative or literal, and blows it. That’s choking. A few years ago Western Kentucky led a Directional Michigan (Central? Western?) 49-14 at the start of the fourth quarter in the Bahamas Bowl and they came within a two-point conversion of losing on the final play. They won, 49-48, but had they lost, that would have been a massive choke.

Having a commanding lead in the first half of a game, or series, and then losing is not a choke. That’s called an ENTIRE game or series. I see this every autumn. Texas A&M goes down 14-0 early to Rice (?) in 2013 and Twitter was breathless. As if the first team to a double-digit lead is ensured victory. Nope. Aggies won, 52-31.

Surrender Cobras are susceptible to choking

And one more thought on this: I notice a lot of the people who yell “CHOKE” are folks who gamble daily or almost daily. And so they’re pissed that they lost. Also, when you gamble, you take it personally if your projected win is ruined by another team’s comeback. You’ve got Golden State to win the series and they go up 3-1 and you’re already counting your money. And then you’re pissed when they lose and it cost you and maybe you want to blame someone. So you say, “Choke.”

I don’t know if this is what happened to Jason. I do know that Bill Simmons, Clay Travis and Jason all wager on sports often. Or at least they tell us that they do.

5. RAAM Tough

In a world with ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, FS1 and NBC Sports Net, somehow the Race Across America (RAAM) remains untelevised. Now in its 35th year, RAAM’s premise is simple: A one-stage bike race from one coast to the other. Beginning in Oceanside, Calif, and ending in Annapolis, Md., riders pedal west to east, 3,069 miles, while deciding on their own when they want to stop and for how long. 

Cycling talent, hence, is only part of the deal. Stamina also plays a huge role. And sure, it’s dangerous, since roads are not marked off and top cyclists are operating on insufficient sleep. The first year I covered it, 2002 or 2003, a cyclist died when he stopped for the night, did a U-turn to meet his chase team on a two-lane highway, and got  slammed by an 18-wheeler coming the other way. 

This year’s RAAM began on June 14th. They’re still out there, somewhere (beyond the halfway point, likely in Missouri). A few days ago Julia Buhring, who holds the world record as fastest woman to cycle around the globe, pulled out as she began coughing up blood.


Music 101

Summer In The City

And babe, don’t you know it’s a pity/That the days can’t be like the nights/In the summer/In the city/In the summer/In the city….That’s John Sebastian, lead singer of The Lovin’ Spoonful, who people of my generation know better as “that dude who sang the ‘Welcome Back, Kotter’ theme song. The song was released, fittingly, on the 4th of July, 1966 (pop music’s greatest year), and went to No. 1 for three weeks in August of that year.

Remote Patrol

USA vs Argentina

FS1 9 p.m.

“At the Copa, Copa America/The hottest sport north of….South America?” Anyway, the Yanks have advanced to the semi-finals, but now they will face the greatest player in the world in Lionel Messi and a team that advanced to the 2014 World Cup final, Argentina. What a time to be alive….


by John Walters

A Medium Happy 74th to a musical genius, Brian Wilson

Starting Five

LeBron’s block of last year’s NBA Finals MVP may go down as the signature play of his career

The Promise Keeper

He left. He returned. And he kept his promise. LeBron James silenced the doubters (raises hand) not just in last night’s Game 7, but all week as he led the Cavs back from a 3-1 deficit and Cleveland to the NBA championship (remember, the Cavs were 33-49 without him just two years ago).

In the end, Cleveland had just more stones than Golden State did. And beat them at their own game. Down 87-83, LeBron got fouled by Festus Ezili after fooling him into leaving his feet, getting three free throws. Then LeBron hit a three. Then Kyrie Irving, who was nearly every bit as valuable as LeBron in the past three games, hit a three. Meanwhile, in the last six minutes Stephen Curry went 0 for 4 from beyond the arc and threw away a behind-the-back pass out of bounds. The Dubs scored TWO points total in the last five minutes.


And yes, who knows what might have been if Kyrie had been healthy last June? Or if Draymond had been able to play in Game 5, but remember, that was a one-game suspension six weeks in the making. A story of character eventually coming to the forefront. Questions you can ask, but answers will always be pure conjecture.

Haven’t seen two teams completely switch identities quite like that midway through a series since the 2004 ALCS between the Red Sox and Yankees, which also ended a long championship drought (that for a team, this for a city).

Meanwhile, The Block happened with 1:50 to play and the score tied at 89. Golden State never scored again. At the time the series was tied, in terms of scoring, 699-699. It would end at 703-699.

Finally, The Block is the signature play and deservedly so. Cleveland won this series because they played outstanding perimeter switch defense on Golden State’s three-point marksmen. Even from 27 feet out, the Splash Brothers rarely got an easy look in the final three games.

2. The Promise Keeper (Distaff Version)

And she’s doing it all without the aid of a dragon or being invulnerable to fire. Well done, Sansa

Sansa Stark, with a timely assist from Petyr Baelish, to the rescue. Sansa tells Ramsay Bolton (her ex), “You will die tomorrow” and she, too, keeps her word.

Critics will ask, “Well, if Sansa already had that cavalry, why did she not tell her brother about it the evening before?” Two possibilities: They hadn’t arrived yet or two, she needed to keep an element of surprise for Bolton because her brother, brave and righteous as he is, is easier to read than a book that Samwell Tarly has his nose in.

Have you noticed that Game Of Thrones is becoming a Beyonce power anthem (“Run The World [Girls]“). Sansa, Daenerys, Yara Greyjoy, and soon, quite possibly, Margaery Tyrell/Lannister. I wonder whom Benioff and Weiss are voting for in November….

Maybe run a hitch pattern instead, Ricon? Learn the route tree….

Favorite battle-scene death last night? The dude who got trucked by the horse. Also, Ricon, if you can only run one pattern (“Go” route), you kinda deserve to die. Didn’t you watch Apocalypto?

By the way, kudos to Erik Kain of Forbes for noting that “Battle of the Bastards” aired on Father’s Day. And kudos to one of my tweeps for noting that the episode involving Jon Snow’s conception aired on Mother’s Day.

3.   Tinker, Taylor, Twosome, Tom

Their relationship, ironically, is not on the rocks….

That’s Taylor Swift, last week, canoodling on the Rhode Island shoreline outside her home with Tom “The Night Manager” Hiddleston (I guess millennials know him as Loki). I’m more fascinated by the rock sculpture in the foreground. Will it last longer than this relationship? It’s nice to see our girl dating 1) someone outside the music business who 2) graduated from college, much less Cambridge.

If you saw The Night Manager, this is the second tall, waifish platinum blonde Hiddleston has stolen this spring (and I only say that because this scene occurred two weeks after T-Swift dumped Calvin Harris). I have no idea if this can, will, or should work, but the girl has finally found someone closer to her league.

4. Doin’ Alright

Golfer Dustin Johnson now has an actual trophy to go along with that….Paulina Gretzky. Johnson won his first major, the U.S. Open, yesterday at Oakmont and apparently there was some ruling decision by the USGA yada yada yada but I’m just happy the darn thing ended before Game 7 tipped off.

5. What Part of “119 Degrees” Don’t You Understand?


A lovely hike…in March

You know what you don’t do when temperatures in the area are going to soar to 119 degrees? Go for a day hike. A 25 year-old Phoenix man died over the weekend after he and a buddy decided to hike the Peralta Trail in the Superstition Mountains east of the city. They set out at 7:30 a.m. but soon ran out of water and, well, one man died. The other was rescued.

Music 101

I Ran (So Far Away)

One song, or at least one opening riff, to embody the New Wave era? I might have to nominate this one from A Flock Of Seagulls (whose band name and lead singer’s coif are also signature types of this era). These Liverpudlians were led by lead singer Mike Score, who actually was a hairdresser. No band owes more of its success to MTV than this one, as this song got plenty of rotation from the veejays in 1982. It was a top ten hit.

Remote Patrol

O.J.: Made In America, Part 4 & 5

6 p.m. ESPN2

Did The Juice also invent side-eye?

If you have not seen the final two installments (I’ve only seen Part 4), I know Part 4 is chilling and I hear Part 5 is just as haunting. I’d never seen the crime scene photos of Ron and Nicole before and I wonder how America would have reacted if they were shown on TV back in 1994 and ’95. It really was a defining moment in American culture.


by Katie McCollow

It’s weird, how the whole ‘sports bug’ never bit me, since I come from a family of athletes and fans and married a fellow, who, when not actually being a coach, is being a super-fan.

I mean, he doesn’t paint his face or wear wigs or yell crudely in public (all things I do with some regularity, come to that) but he derives a great deal of pleasure from the watching of, talking about, dissecting, anticipating and participating in sports.

This is actually me at the Veronica Mars movie

 I’m not a hater, kids—I was on the track and cross-country teams in high school, and I played games involving balls in elementary school. (I know you’re thinking something bad right now, and you can just stop it, it was elementary school, you perv.)

I root for teams or athletes in which I’m personally invested—my kids, nieces and nephews, family members and close friends, my husband of course, you get the picture.

I love that you love sports, I just don’t have a natural sports brain.  I mean sure, I love the Olympics, but who doesn’t? That doesn’t even count.

I wish it were different–I think of myself as a lover of fun things and it certainly seems like sports fans are having fun, with the exception of everyone in Minnesota every football season, so what’s the problem? I have made concerted efforts over the years to try—to watch hard, to get into it, become an expert fan, and it just doesn’t take.

Wait, what is happening?

 I have felt embarrassed countless times over the years by my lack of knowledge—people assumed, still do sometimes, that because my husband knew so much, I must too, and I’d get asked technical questions the answers to which I had no idea.

If I admitted that, I’d get “Well isn’t your husband the coach?”

Uh, yeah, but I spent the whole game trying to keep my toddler from eating his own poop and my four-year-old from melting down because she’s up two hours past her bedtime. Isn’t your husband a lawyer? Do you know all the intricate shit about his job?

I can say with certainty that no one has ever asked my husband how to get a soft edge by using a scumble or whether or not a filbert is better than a flat brush because I am an artist.

But the thing is, I know it’s weird, I know enough sports-spouses who do know tons of stuff about it all, and I’m the one with the defect.

I admit it!


So again, friends, I support your love of all things sportsy! I hope whatever contest is happening now, things are all going your way and if you made a bet or something, you make a crap-load of cabbage.

Don’t spend it all in one place.

Barry Manilow is 72 years old today. Happy Birthday, Barry! I don’t rate calling myself a Fanilow, since I’ve never even seen you live, but I do love that you write the songs that make the whole world sing.

This is Barry Manilow, right?


For a while in the nineties and early oughts, it was fashionable to pretend Barry wasn’t amazing and he was the butt of many a joke by ‘cool’ people.

Thankfully, those days are a thing of the past and we can all sing our damn happy hearts out without a trace of irony when “Mandy” comes on in the car. Or in the house, because you put it on on purpose. 

You, when Weekend in New England comes on

You, when Weekind in New England comes on

Four Other People or Things That Survived Decade-Plus Long Backlashes and Bounced Back to Beloved Status (Entertainment edition): 

John Denver

I grew up listening to Mr. Denver; my mother had every one of his albums. Loved loved looooved him, but when I hit high school I abandoned ship.

As mentioned previously, I’d already planted my flag as a Parrot Head and painted rainbows on my nails, and the fact that my brothers played hockey was pretty much my only redeeming quality. Admitting I liked John Denver would hardly have acted as a life raft.

Then he died in ’97, and everyone was forced to admit that he was fantastic, even those jerks who didn’t invite him to participate in “We Are The World”, even though he was trying to shine a light on world hunger before it was cool.



The first year we were married, I put on John Denver’s Greatest Hits and my new husband’s knee-jerk reaction was to make fun. Then he laid down on the couch and surrendered, explaining that he didn’t know all the songs were “sing-a-long favorites”. Damn right they are.

John Stamos

Don’t act like you didn’t hate on him for a loooong time after Full House, you did. But then you got old and hideous and he got soooo…I mean that new show of his isn’t even funny and I watch it anyway.

Do I even need to say anything?


Calista Flockhart

Remember when she was on Ally McBeal, and then Brothers and Sisters you guys I really mean Jane Fonda but I don’t want everyone to get mad at me you guys she apologized! A lot, and I believe she’s sincere and I think Grace and Frankie is funny and omigod please don’t yell at me.

This instead of Jane Fonda? Don’t yell at me!

The Breakfast Club

John brought this up not too long ago, and the timing was perfect because I had just re-watched this with my youngest, who was just finishing up ninth grade.

I saw this on a first date with a boy when I was in tenth grade. We both loved it, but because of the jokes and the clothes and the actors and the soundtrack, not the message, which went right over our heads.

In fact, after it was over, another girl who went to our school and was in the grade above me, stopped me in the lobby and told me if I told anyone I saw her there with the boy who’d escorted her, she’d make life uncomfortable for me.

Did I turn to my date and marvel at the irony, that this older, cooler girl basically threatened me if I blabbed she had gone out in public with someone she felt was beneath her, to see a movie about how we’re all the same inside and all feel lost and scared and that our common enemy should be those who seek to label and divide us and not each other?

(Editor: Wait, I always thought The Breakfast Club was about the madness of nuclear war. Wheat????)

Of course not. I promised her I wouldn’t tell and then went home and told all my friends.

Anyway, re-watching that movie in my twenties, I didn’t think it held up. Awful and cheesy, I thought…then I had kids, and see it as the absolute masterpiece that it is.


“Demented and sad…but sociable.”

(Editor’s 2nd Note: The idea that Susie B. opened up site this a.m. waiting to read a certain writer begrudgingly give props to a serial traveler/offensive fouler who should probably be playing tight end for the Broncos and that instead she got Katie’s fantastic prose, well, I feel just like the dude in the photo above).


by John Walters

Happy 46th to Lefty, who tees off at the U.S. Open today, the only major he has yet to win (six 2nd-place finishes)

Starting Five

Murphy went all Mr. Smith yesterday on the Senate floor…

Gums Flap Over Gun Flap

Yesterday Democratic senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, who represents the district where Newtown is located, took the Senate floor shortly before noon and did not yield until 2:15 a.m. Murphy’s 14-hour plus filibuster was a response to the majority GOP’s foot-dragging on addressing gun-control and a rebuttal to the Republicans’ call for a “moment of silence” for the Orlando victims.

Is it “filibustin'” or “filibustering'”?

“I am most of the time a team player, but I’ve had enough,” said Murphy, sounding not unlike LeBron James before Game 5. Murphy’s filibuster ended after the GOP agreed to allow gun-control votes and Murphy promised not to read excerpts of Fifty Shades of Grey.

It would be interesting if Murphy’s efforts result in a bill being passed to ban assault weapons ( a ban that once stood but then expired and was not renewed). It would be called, perhaps, Murphy’s Law?

2. The Empire Strikes Back

Sturridge’s goal, in the 92nd minute, was stirring

England, which blew a late lead against Russia in its Euro 2016 opener last weekend, trailed its U.K. little brother, Wales, 1-0 at halftime (Gareth Bale goal off a free kick) this morning. If the Three Lions lost, they’d be out of the tournament with one game still to play in France. And it had been 58 years since England trailed at halftime of a major tournament and still salvaged a point (win or draw). The Limeys were looking at an early Brexit.

But in the second half Jamie Vardy, who was subbing in even though he was the Premier League’s second-leading scorer this season while leading Leicester City to the championship, scored an equalizer in the 56th minute (to be fair, Vardy subbed in for Harry Kane, the BPL’s top scorer). Then in stoppage time, in the 92nd minute, another sub, Daniel Sturridge, scored the game-winner.

England now has 4 points, while Wales and Slovakia have three. England gets Slovakia in its final group match, Wales gets fourth-place Russia. Only two will advance.

3. Suzuki 4,257

Japanese import Ichiro Suzuki doubled in the ninth inning for the Marlins against San Diego yesterday, giving him his 2,979th Major League hit. But, coupled with his 1,278 career hits for the Orix Blue Wave in Nippon Professional Baseball, Ichiro now has 4,257 combined hits in the world’s two most prestigious pro baseball leagues.

Of course, not even Ichiro would claim he has surpassed Pete Rose’s 4,256, so COOL YOUR JETS, Mike Francesa.

A few things to be impressed by, though, with Ichiro’s career: 1) He made his MLB debut at age 27 and he’s going to collect 3,000 career MLB hits this season 2) He is the only player in MLB history to have 10 CONSECUTIVE 200-hit seasons (Rose compiled 10, but not in a row), and 3) he taught an entire generation a new way to hit a baseball, not that many of them followed his lead.

4. Student Body Prez Opts to Protect His Student’s Body

Robinson decided that a fourth season, after suffering three concussions last year, was beyond his grasp

Notre Dame wide receiver Corey Robinson, who was elected student body president back in March, has opted to forgo his final season of eligibility due to repeated concussions (or, if you happen to be The Big Lead, he “quit.”). Robinson suffered three last season.

Robinson caught the game-winning touchdown pass against Florida State in 2013, which kept the Irish undefeated and elevated them into the inaugural college football playoff, where they eventually lost a nail-biter in Pasadena to Oregon. Oh, it was a fabulous game.

5. “Belgium….Is a Beautiful City”

Yesteday Stephen Colbert and Donald Trump both had something in common: they said things that exposed Trump’s stupidity.


Music 101

Here Comes The Night

In 1965, at the peak of the British Invasion, a band from Northern Ireland fronted by a lead singer named Van recorded this song in London that became a No. 2 hit in the U.K. You probably recognize it as a Van Morrison tune, but it is one of a few of “his” hits that he actually recorded with his first band, Them. On the studio version of this track, Jimmy Page (later of Led Zeppelin) plays lead guitar.

Remote Patrol

Game 6: Warriors at Cavaliers

ABC 9 p.m.

Copa America: Ecuador vs. U.S.A.

FS1 9:30 p.m.

Clint Dempsey

The Dubs have played 104 games this season and only lost two in a row once. But the Cavs can do that tonight and send it back to the Bay Area for Game 7. Meanwhile in Seattle, the U.S. men’s team, surprise winners of Group A, meet Ecuador in the first round of the knockout stage.



by John Walters

A Medium Happy 52nd to that girl who danced on stage (even though it was staged) with Bruce. Also, “CougarTown” may be the only show that honestly depicts the relationship between MILFs and vino.

Starting Five

Been a tough, tough week for Orlando P.D.

Tragic Kingdom

At a Walt Disney World property in Orlando, Florida, a two year-old boy whose family was on vacation from Nebraska was snatched by an alligator and pulled into the water. The father was standing close to the toddler and made an attempt to rescue his son, but in vain. It’s tragic, of course, and you just don’t know how parents ever recover from this.

I’m going to tread as lightly as I can here, but I’d like to make a few points, keeping in mind all the while that this is a heartbreaking loss for a family whose parents were only trying to do a very wonderful thing, creating magic memories for their kids. It’s terrible. First point: Has any entity in the world done more to anthropomorphize wild animals than Disney? I Google Searched “Disney Alligator” this morning looking for a photo to run above, but instead the photo below popped up:

There’s a fine line between the wonderful things Disney does, introducing young children to animals, and also the reality of the fact that animals are amoral, that their only motivation is survival. And it’s not Disney’s job to raise your kids; it’s yours, of course. And none of what I just wrote assigns any blame to the father. I’m sure the family assumed, rightly so, that they were in a very safe place. They weren’t. That’s not the alligator’s fault; that’s Disney’s (HUGE lawsuit coming).

Second point is that there is no need for Disney to hunt down this alligator. None at all; Robert Iger may be going apeshit right now, and some executive may feel the need for people to see that he is DOING SOMETHING (again, that HUGE lawsuit pending, although if I’m Disney I just write a check for $10 million to that family today), but that child, wading in one foot of water in a huge lagoon, was simply prey. He was unintentionally in the gator’s habitat, not the other way around. It’s tragic, absolutely; but if you’re saying, “Well, that gator could kill another young child,” my response is, “Abso-damn-lutely, which is why Disney shouldn’t be allowing people in that lagoon.”

Finally, I’ve been to Australia a couple times. Done the croc safaris on rivers, gone to croc farms. Aussies are much more closely connected to nature than we are. I remember more than one Aussie telling me stories of humans abducted by crocs and what always stuck with me is how matter of fact they were about it. They never assigned blame to the crocs. They understand, to borrow a Disney term, the “circle of life.” And they understand that just because we figured out wifi doesn’t takes us outside that circle.

2. Viking Quest!*

Birkir Bjarnasson celebrates his equalizer in the 50th minute

*The judges will also accept any witticism involving “-son” that Steve Rushin cares to offer (“-Sons of Anarchy?”, “My 11 -Sons?”)

At Euro 2016 yesterday Iceland, whose starting lineup features 11 players whose surnames end in “-son” or “-sson,” shocked tourney favorite Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo by gaining a 1-1 draw. The good news for soccer fans? More crowd shots of Icelandic soccer fans!

3. First Take Written Audition*

*Because the judges thought that ‘Ding Dong’ was too easy and lazy.

Here’s Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report, filing a virtual Stephen Curry hagiography on June 11, a story titled, “In Mastering the Use of Force, Stephen Curry Bests LeBron James at His Own Game.” And here’s Kevin Ding three days later, filing a story whose headline deems the unanimous MVP as having “failed his leadership test.”

You wanna guess which of the two pieces got picked up by and ran on its home page?

I get that story lines change, that Curry was outstanding in Game 4 (38 points in a road win) and merely mortal in Game 5 (21 points at home in a potential close out game) and not one of the top three players on the floor. Maybe even not among the top five if you factor in Iguodala and Tristan Thompson.

Still, the Warriors lost for a number of reasons: 1) Kyrie and LeBron played their best game as teammates yet 2) Draymond was absent 3) for the second half, so was Bogut 4) Harrison Barnes, a starter, shot a putrid 2 of 14.

Did Curry technically fail, as league MVP, to secure an NBA championship playing on his home floor? Yes. Is that the story, though, or is that the story BR is using to get clicks? Hey, it worked. But it’s dishonest journalism, and it’s one big reason so many people, readers and players alike, loathe journalists. And stories like this is why they should. To Ding’s credit, though, he has not yet announced that he would have gotten a conviction against O.J.

4. Marcus, Oh, Really?: Us*

Bo Jackson and Marcus Allen were teammates once. That’s crazy.

*The judges should have warmed up before stretching that far

If you haven’t seen the second episode of O.J.: Made In America, you may want to skip this item. I’ve always been most curious about the final years of O.J. and Nicole’s life before her murder, because it’s the part I knew the least about. And in the last 20 minutes of Episode 2, they tackle it with gusto.

Basically, O.J. was first abusive, verbally and physically, and then insanely jealous. Nicole took up with the owner of a few restaurants, Keith Zlomsowitch, when they were estranged  and O.J. stalked them, which included watching them make whoopee (Bob Eubanks shout-out). When O.J. and Nicole reunited, Keith stayed out of the picture.

But it was then that Marcus Allen, a Heisman-winning former USC tailback who had looked up to O.J. as a mentor, entered the scene. As Nicole’s friend said on camera with a smirk on her face, “Marcus was a better, bigger O.J.” No, you di’unt.

It’s a pretty small leap, if you listen to the people being interviewed, to infer that in the last month of her life Nicole was hooking up with Allen, who was by then with the Kansas City Chiefs. Also, I believe Keith owned Mezzaluna, where Nicole had her final meal and where Ronald Goldman worked.

So, a few thoughts: 1) O.J. was insanely angry, understandably so to a degree, at Allen, a friend, a married man, and a fellow USC alum who had basically been his protege. 2) In 1994, how different did Ronald Goldman look from Keith Zlomsowitch? Especially in the dark? 3) When O.J. showed up at the house on Bundy (assuming, of course, that he did it….:) ) what and who was he expecting to find? And had he worked himself into such a rage by that moment, thanks in no small part to Allen, that it no longer really mattered?

5. Would Donald Take His Ball and Go Home?

(The boy above, from Arlington Heights, Ill., is quite talented)

DT’s insinuation earlier this week that the President of the United States was sympathetic to ISIL and was apathetic to the 49 people murdered in Orlando may be the worst thing he’s said…since the week before. Honestly, can anyone even keep track any more?

And so I jumped forward and wondered, what if America’s conscience finally stands up and realizes, collectively, that this clown is unfit to be president? What if Donald, who has been running from a comfortable lead for almost 12 months now, starts falling behind HRC by large numbers in every national poll? What might happen?

I honestly cannot see Trump sticking around in a race where the handwriting is on the wall that he is going to be trounced. And while the ordinary GOP nominee, who’s risen through the party over a decade or two, might remain just to be loyal to the party, Trump has no such allegiance. His loyalty is to Trump. And so, as one tweep put it, “I can see him taking his ball and going home. That’s what bratty kids do.”

And I’m not a Republican strategist, but I’d like to think that just one of them is smarter and more prescient than I. And that they’ve considered this scenario. And so if I’m them I want this to happen sooner or later. I want Hillary to take a 10 to 15-point lead in the polls by the end of June so I can start persuading Donald to cut and run with dignity. Because that way I could still name a replacement at the convention.

In fact, it may be in HRC’s best interest to slow play this hand. Make an ill-advised Benghazi joke at her next rally just to keep Donald close for another month. He’ll eventually say something stupid again, anyway. But the point is this: Does Donald stick around through August and September if HRC has a “HUUUUGE” lead? I don’t think so.

Music 101

Love Is Like Oxygen

It’s been awhile since we featured British band Sweet here, but I honestly can’t think of another band that was more of a role model for Spinal Tap (with the notable exception that Sweet wrote two quality songs, this 1978 hit being one of them and “Fox On the Run” being the other). The song, the band’s last Top 10 hit, reached No. 8 here in the States.

Added fun here: watch how many times lead vocalist Brian Connolly nearly forgets to put microphone to his mouth to maintain the illusion that this performance is not being lip-synched.

Remote Patrol

Late Night TV

11:30 p.m. 

Some great guests tonight: Oprah appears on Jimmy Kimmel Live! and I’m more than a little curious to hear her thoughts on the election; Jay Leno appears on his former show, The Tonight Show, but in Dave’s old NBC studio at 30 Rock (or at least in Dave’s old building); and on Late Night with Seth Meyers, Ezra Edelman, the man behind the O.J. doc, and Martin Short, one of the world’s three best talk show guests (Tom Hanks and Jim Carrey are the others).

Note for tomorrow: At 9 a.m. on ESPN, England (Wayne Rooney) versus Wales (Gareth Bale). FC, UK, in no particular order of letters.


by John Walters

This guy turns 70 today….Someone said of him last night, “He doesn’t speak English; he speaks hyperbole.”

Starting Five

Turns out the shirseys stood for “C” you Thursday

Some 41s

LeBron James and Kyrie Irving forestalled summer vacation by playing their best game as Cavalier teammates and becoming the first such duo to each eclipse 40 points in the same NBA Finals game. Clad in shirseys, LeBron scored 41 points and was a beast on defense, finishing with a stat line of 41 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists while shooting above 50%. Irving was unstoppable in the fourth quarter, and finished with the same point total while shooting 17 of 24.

The first half, which finished in a 61-61 draw, was the best and closest played of the NBA Finals, as Klay Thompson scored 26 and LeBron 25. Then the Cavs roared out after halftime, with Kyrie making an and-one layup. Not long after the Warriors, playing without Draymond “Nut Job” Green, last seen “MV-Peeing” at an A’s game, also lost Andrew Bogut as he sprained his left knee while blocking a J.R. Smith layup. The Aussie may be lost for Games 6 and 7, which would mean a steady diet of Anderson Varejao, which, I mean, ouch.

Bout writhed in pain as Golden State took the ball up court, then the Cavs returned (and Kevin Love missed a three), before the game was finally stopped

Finally: Steph Curry was mortal again (25 points). At the risk of sounding like a Steph apologist, I think we’ll find out after the Finals what the true extent of his injuries were. But take nothing away from Kyrie & LeBron: We were waiting for them to play for this all series, and last night they showed up. This looks as if it will go seven….

Meanwhile, as The Big Lead noted this morning, this Vine sums up Kevin Love’s two seasons in Cleveland.

2.What Are We Doing?”

Jared, the warm, gooey center of Pied Piper’s team

I have no idea what the “funniest show on TV” is because I regularly only tune in to one comedy show, and that’s HBO’s Silicon Valley. Each week in Season 3 is funnier than the last. Sunday’s episode included two memorably funny scenes, and that’s excluding the Russ Hanneman cameo in which he carelessly bicep-bounces a once-bitten apple into a line of hotel guests waiting to check in.

As beloved, over-the-top obnoxious minor characters go, Russ Hanneman has a lot in common with….

The scene with Gilfoyle and Dinesh at the coffee shop is the best one yet to describe their wonderfully odd friendship dynamic, but the time capsule scene involves deposed tyrants Gavin Belson (Hooli) and “Action” Jack Barker (Pied Piper), running into one another on a runway as each prepares to board his private jet for a getaway to “J-Hole.” As the two speak warmly, their private jets in the background, you sit there wondering when it will dawn upon them to fly up together.

….Colonel Flagg of M*A*S*H

Finally, Barker looks at Belson and asks in a tone of comity, “What are we doing?” And then Barker asks if Belson plays chess. Gavin says yes and then Barker invites Belson, as soon as both men’s planes achieve an altitude where Wi-Fi works, to play him online. Classic.

3. Major Burns by Burns

Speaking at Stanford’s commencement on Sunday, the master of the historical documentary, Ken Burns, takes dead aim at Donald Trump (yeah, but what does Burns know about historical figures?).

Meanwhile,  Trump reacts to the Orlando massacre by first implying on FOX News that President Obama is an ISIS sympathizer (“[Obama] doesn’t get it, or he gets it better than anybody understands. It’s one or the other. And either one is unacceptable”) using his well-refined “I’m not saying, I’m just saying” maneuver. Later, at a presser in New Hampshire, he says that we “allowed” the shooter’s family to come here, to the U.S. (the shooter was born here; his parents are from Afghanistan) because the nation has a history of terror.


Trump’s family is from Germany, which, as 6 million murdered Jews would tell you if they could, has a far greater history of terror. It’s just that Germany produces white people, while Afghanistan does not.

4. Shame On You, London Mayor

Isn’t the product far more offensive than the message or the model?

Newly elected London mayor Sadiq Khan is being widely praised for recently having done a terrible thing. He’s banned all ads “likely to create body confidence issues, particularly among young people,” from London’s tube system.

That’s not a positive move. That’s censorship. And if this were America, that would be a blatant abuse of First Amendment rights.

Let’s explore the tangentials for a moment: 1) A product, a cream or a pill, that promises to help you lose weight as opposed to eating healthy and exercising is far more deleterious than any ad. 2) Beautiful women and men appear on ads everywhere; it’s called advertising, and there’s a reason these paragons of physical beauty do so; because selling is aspirational. 3) If you feel bad about your body, here’s a hard piece of advice: it’s probably not someone else’s fault. Do something about it if you care that much.

But all of those are asides. The far more dangerous aspect of that is when we abridge principles for short-term feel-good measures (ban all Muslims here, ban “body-shaming” ads, whatever the hell that term even means, there), we are abandoning liberty. You don’t make decisions based on outcomes. You make them based on principles.

(Do you have any idea how exhausting it is being so didactic every morning?)

5. So Now It’s A Movie

Two of my closest friends from SI are Steve Hymon and Tim Crothers. The first was given a bleak view of his future at the mag in his mid-twenties, then moved to California and won a Pulitzer Prize. The latter was laid off on the same day as I was in 2001.

Nine years and two books later, Crothers was speaking to a gathering of North Carolina fans (he’s a Tar Heel alum and professor now) about his biography on Roy Williams. A man approached him and said, “I have a story for you.”

A month or so later, after SI had rejected Tim’s story pitch but ESPN’s mag (headed by a former SI colleague of ours) accepted it, he was on a flight to Uganda to meet a pre-pubescent chess queen. The resulting story, in which Tim also traveled to Siberia, became a nationally acclaimed feature that became a book that has now become a Disney film of the same name, The Queen of Katwe. It stars Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o.

You may not know Tim, so allow me to attempt to describe him for you: take the best character traits of Bighead and Gilfoyle, mash them together, and that’s basically Tim. He’s hoping to be able to get a ticket to the premier, but he won’t be surprised if he doesn’t.


Music 101

Must Have Done Something Right

This is the band Relient K with an infectiously sunny, bubble-gum pop tune that’s perfect for this time of year. The song was released in early January of 2007 and the band is a group of friends from Canton, Ohio.

Remote Patrol

O.J.: Made In America, Part 2

ESPN 9 p.m.

O.J., here flanked by Bills O-linemen Reggie McKenzie and Joe DeLamielleure

Saturday night’s premiere provided bombshells such as the fact that O.J.’s first wife had originally been Al Cowlings’ girl, that O.J.’s estranged father was gay, and that Nicole returned home from her first date with the Juice with ripped jean. There was also a little football, like how O.J. would only appear on TV on the day he broke the 2,000-yard mark if all the Bills’ offensive starters could appear with him. So far, so, so good.


by John Walters

A great white happy 35th to Mick Fanning, who’s probably thrilled to be celebrating another one after this moment last summer.

Starting Five

1. Florida Man

49 dead in Orlando, as you well know.

Hate crime? Terror? Homophobia? It doesn’t matter. It was murder on an epic scale. Assigning a motive, either of which is horribly misguided, doesn’t alter the outcome.

Tragic. Love will always beat hate, and that does not mean you need to be a pacifist. But a little common sense is also a good thing. The AR-15 (gun nuts love to stick it to you if you call it an “assault rifle,” because if you screw up the nomenclature that equals you “want all of our guns, so let me make it clear: it is not technically an assault rifle because it is only semi-automatic, not fully automatic) was outlawed in 1994, but the ban on them expired in 2004 and Congress opted not to renew it. ‘Merica.

It has been used by the San Bernardino shooter, the Aurora theater shooter, the Newtown shooter and now the Orlando shooter. It has become, as a lawyer representing the Newtown victims’ families said, “The gold standard for mass murder.” It is, to quote George Dubya Bush, “A weapon of mass destruction.”

I don’t know, Larry. I don’t know.

Outlawing the AR-15 will not stop hate, or radical jihadists, or the existence of angry and disenfranchised young men. And it is not the only step that needs to be taken. But there is no reason anyone who is not active duty military needs or should have one. None.

2. Lessons of Mountain Meadows

Mormons killed roughly 120 pioneers headed to California in one horrible day, ironically September 11, in 1857

The TV news media has been calling the attack at Pulse nightclub in Orlando on early Sunday morning “the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.” It is and it isn’t, and I’m not so interested here on who gets “the record” but on imparting a few lessons from the details.

First, the incident: The year was 1857 and pioneers were traveling through southern Utah en route to California. There were high tensions between Mormon settlers ant the U.S. government at the time and, without getting too much into the details, a Mormon militia surrounded the settlers in a canyon, an area known as Mountain Meadows, in southern Utah and laid siege. After about four days the Mormon elders guaranteed safe passage if the settlers would just lay down their weapons. Then the Mormons would escort them out.

The settlers complied, the Mormons opened fire, and more than 100 people lay dead. About a dozen or so children under the age of seven were spared, which may be the only reason anyone ever heard about it.

Why isn’t it known as the worst mass shooting on U.S. soil? My three guesses is because Utah did not technically become a state for 39 more years, in 1896; that because it was more than one person doing the shooting, it’s not considered as such; or three, because it’s considered a military confrontation, which it was not. Or….four, because not enough people pay attention to history.

Anyway, lessons here: 1) Both this and the Orlando massacre have their roots in religious fanaticism, which is the ultimate irony and 2) one group was entirely unarmed, and they were slaughtered.*

*We don’t want your guns, NRA. We just want common sense. I can’t just go buy a tiger or a lion at a pet store, you know.

3. “Hamilton” Cleans Up

So you have a jihadist target gays and lesbians early on Sunday morning, and then you have the Tony Awards, honoring the best in American theater (a haven for gays and lesbians for centuries, and a place where all are accepted) on Sunday night. Hamilton, as expected, won 11 Tonys, second-most by one play ever, after The Producers. A terrific opening parody number by James Corden; I don’t know who wrote the lyrics, but I wouldn’t be surprised if if were Lin-Manuel Miranda himself.

4. Hand Job

Send it in, Jerome

The Copa America is not even the most prestigious continental soccer tournament currently being staged (Euro 2016), but somehow Brazil, which historically has been the world’s foremost purveyor of “the beautiful game,” failed to advance out of the group stage. Wondering if Canarinho are still suffering the hangover effects of that five-goal first half they surrendered to Germany in the semis of the 2014 World Cup.

Last night Brazil was ousted from the tournament in the harshest possible way: with the match scoreless 0-0 in the 75th minute, Peru scored on a clear hand ball by Raul Ruidiaz. An obvious one. But the referee missed it and soccer does not use instant replay. It may in World Cup 2018 and a moment such as last night may be the reason why.

It was the Incas first victory against Brazil in this tourney since 1975.

By the way, the USA won its final two matches after that opening 2-0 loss to Colombia and actually won its group. It avoided Brazil by winning its group, but then Brazil lost and didn’t even make it out of its own group. The Yanks will face Ecuador in Seattle (a great U.S. soccer city) on Thursday night.

5. 6/10/16 

Before we lose it to history, last Friday, which was a palindromic date on the calendar (as was Saturday, by the way, 6/11/16), was a sneakily landmark day in sports, a monumental day: Muhammad Ali, The Greatest, was laid to rest in Kentucky; Gordie Howe, the legendary NHL figure who is considered Mr. Hockey, having played in five different decades (’40s, 50’s, ’60s, ’70s and 1980) and was a 23-time NHL All-Star, passed away at the age of 88; Lionel Messi, one of the two timeless artists currently playing a sport, subbed in at the 61st minute in a Copa America contest for Argentina (he’s been injured), and scored a hat trick in 19 minutes versus Panama; and in the latest biggest game of the season for the Golden State Warriors, the other timeless artist in sport, Stephen Curry, scored a game-high 38 in Cleveland (the Cavs’ first loss at Quicken Loans this postseason) as the Dubs took a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals.


One More Word on Orlando…

Just a word on “fighting terror” and I’m open to hearing your thoughts, disagreements, etc.: There is nothing wrong with people who don’t live in America hating America (come to think of it, there is nothing wrong with people who DO live in America hating America; that’s a fundamental part of what makes America great). There is, of course, something wrong with people manifesting that hatred into violence.

At least two-thirds of this fits the Trump platform

I’m a simpleton, but I really believe most geopolitics scales down to family squabbles. To wit: Let’s say you have a big brother (I think George Orwell knew what he was doing when he coined that term on a political basis) and you despise him for whatever reason. You each have your own room. Now, if that big brother knows you despise him, let’s say he goes into your room, pins you to the ground, has his knees on your shoulders, and announces that he isn’t going to get up and leave the room until you tell him that he’s the greatest brother in the world and that you’ll never, ever do or say anything against him.

What are you gonna do? You’re going to tell him what he wants to hear to get him to leave the room, and then you’re going to resent him even more.

The U.S. military belongs in Syria, or at least in the part where ISIS has a stronghold, to take them out. But it doesn’t belong in sovereign nations (e.g. Afghanistan) no matter how messed up they are or how many terrorist cells are incubating there. We’re just the big brother pinning their shoulders to the floor insisting they like us. There are smarter ways to spread democracy and liberty, and the Number One way is to be an example of it.

Music 101

Undone–The Sweater Song

Was this 1994 tune from Weezer the first mumble core hit? This was the breakout hit for the band for Rivers Cuomo, who turns 46 today and matriculated at Harvard after the band made it big (he graduated in 2006). Great song AND a great video, one of the last on MTV that truly made a difference in how a song was interpreted by the public.

This is a song that sounds like it comes from a band that’s three albums into their run, not from a debut album. There’s a lot of confidence here, the patience for the slow build, the guitar feedback, the background convo. Just a classic.

Remote Patrol

Game 5: NBA Finals

Cleveland at Golden State

Fair or not (and it’s not), all the pressure tonight is on LeBron James. The Cavs have lost four of their last five playoff road game and were blown out by 15 and 33 in Games 1 and 2 at Oracle. The Dubs, who were on death’s door two weeks ago, down 3-1 to OKC, can close the curtain on the most magnificent season in NBA history tonight (they’d also become the first NBA team to win 89 games in a season; ’96 Chicago won 88). And in the process make James 2-5 in NBA Finals which, again, isn’t his fault (How many of those seven teams make the Finals without him?), but it is becoming his budding legacy. Fire away, Susie B.