IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Starting Five

“I Did Not Have Collusion With That Russian”

There’s Jared Kushner, White House adviser and First In-Law, saying, “Let me be very clear: I did not collude with Russia nor do I know of anyone else in the campaign who did so.”

Mmmmmmmm-hmmmmmmm.

Meanwhile, Kushner also released a statement yesterday that, as WaPo illustrates, was a textbook tossing under the bus of his own brother-in-law, Don Jr.

2. La-teen-a Lottery Winners

Meet Daniela Leon Ruz of Orlando, Florida. Earlier this week the 18 year-old won Florida’s   $500 A Week For Life lottery, and Ruz chose not to take the lump sum. That means she will earn an extra $26,000 a year the rest of her (hopefully…as long as she avoids the dreaded “Florida Man”) long life.

She’s not rich, but that will make life a little easier.

Meanwhile, earlier this month 19 year-old Rosa Dominguez was driving from Arizona to her home in California, stopped for gas, and purchased a scratch-off ticket. Dominguez won $555,000. A few days later Dominguez stopped at another gas station, bought another $5 scratch-off ticket, and won $100,000.

3. Rose, To This Occasion

Every NBA MVP between the years 2009-2016 now plays on one of two NBA teams, now that Derrick Rose (2011) has agreed to a one-year deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers. If he’s healthy, how much can Rose help LeBron James (2009, ’10, ’12, ’13) and the Cavs thwart the Golden State Warriors? Rose actually averaged 18 points per game in 64 outings with the Knicks last season and, in case you forgot, he is still only 28 years old. Stephen Curry (’15, ’16) is 29 and his teammate, Kevin Durant (’14) is a few weeks older than Rose as well.

Quick thought: Why does Rose only play for teams who are located near to I-80 exits? How long until Rose toils for the Jazz, for the Kings and ultimately, for the Warriors?

4. Wipe Privilege

In 1857 Joseph Gayetty (above) began marketing the first toilet paper in the United States. For 50 cents the consumer was able to purchase 500 sheets of medicated paper. Gayetty’s product was sorely needed, as during the Civil War, when it still was not in wide use, 8 of every 10 soldiers was afflicted with typhoid fever due to fecal contamination.

Seth Wheeler obtained the first patent for rolled toilet paper in 1871. It wasn’t until the early 20th century that toilet paper was any different, in terms of texture, than newspaper. Some people will tell you it’s still the same in terms of content.

5. How Do I Buy A Daytona Tortugas Jersey?

It takes a slow sports week such as this one (British Open, Tour de France just ended, while NFL camps just starting up) to remind me to peruse the Minor League Baseball standings. The worst baseball team in the minors? The Class A Advanced Daytona Tortugas, a Cubs affiliate, who are 4-26 (.133) this summer.

The most dominant team? El Toros de Tijuana of the AAA Mexican League, who are 67-28 (.705).

Music 101

Kids In America

Few songs are better examples of the advent of New Wave than this 1982 classic from Kim Wilde. For those of us in high school at the time, this was an anthem. The tune was written by Wilde’s brother, Ricky, and her father, Marty, a pre-Beatles British rock star.

A Word, Please

Riven (past participle of “rive,” which no one ever uses)

Split or torn apart violently

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Starting Five

The Jordan Rules

Unplayable Lie. Line of Sight. Temporary Immovable Object.

Jordan Spieth won The (British) Open with a little help from the rule book on the 13th hole on Sunday. It’s nice to know that even a three-time champion of majors occasionally has to strike a ball from the practice range in the midst of a round.

The shot off the tee landed here

For more on exactly what happened, look here.

2. Spice Racked

After six months and a trio of Melissa McCarthy impersonations on Saturday Night Live, White House director of communications Sean Spicer resigns. In his place comes New York finance guy Anthony Scaramucci, who looks like the heavy from every Eighties film based in New York City.

In his opening weekend on the job, Scaramucci, a.k.a. The Mooch, called President Trump “a tremendous athlete” and also gave him up as an anonymous source. Buckle up, kids.

3. Froome For More

Kenyan-born, South African-raised Brit Chris Froome won the Tour de France again. It was his fourth Tour victory, and only four men officially (five, if you count Lance) have now won more Tours than has Froome. Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain all won five.

Froome, 32, won this year’s Tour without winning a single stage in the race. That has only happened before six times.

Of course, the most (only) popular cyclist in France the past three weeks was the Flying (Downhill) Nun.

4. Bad Cargo

Nine are dead in southern Texas after the refrigeration unit of a rig with humans inside went out. It might have been as many as three dozen dead if the alert Walmart employee who noticed the trailer hadn’t called police. Meanwhile in northern Switzerland, a chainsaw-wielding nut job attacked the citizens of Schaffhausen. So you get a chainsaw massacre and mass deaths in Texas all in one item.

5. Coming in September: The Vietnam War

Filmmaker Ken Burns, whose previous tours de force include The Civil War, Baseball, and The War (WWII), spent nearly 10 years putting together an 18-hour PBS documentary on (and called) The Vietnam War. It promises to be magnificent.

Premieres September 17 on PBS.

Music 101

I Can See Clearly Now

Johnny Nash wrote, composed and recorded this classic with heavy reggae influences in 1972. It spent four weeks at No. 1 in the later part of that year.

A Word, Please

Sibilant (adj)

Characterized by a hissing sound (so the next time someone asks you to provide an example of onomatopoeia)

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Starting Five

The Juice reacts to hearing one parole board commissioner say that he is 90 years old

Parole of a Lifetime

Orenthal James Simpson (prisoner number 1027820), after nearly nine years of incarceration at Lovelock (“baby, Lovelock! Lovelock, baby that’s where it’s at!”) Penitentiary in Nevada, will be a free man come October 1st after a four-person parole board, one of whom was clad in a Kansas City Chiefs tie, granted him an early release.

When the Juice went away in 2008, Twitter was barely two years old and largely unknown. Instagram and SnapChat had yet to be launched. It’s a different world out there for a man whose parole hearing garnered enough attention yesterday to be broadcast live on ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox News, Fox Business, CNN, MSNBC and CNBC.

How will the Juice treat his new and easier access to fame and celebrity? Will the Goldmans come after him even more aggressively? And are the “real killers” even still alive (Spoiler Alert: Yes, “they” are).

P.S. Now O.J. will finally be able to watch the F/X series and the ESPN documentary about him.

2. Hugh Gone

Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze was looking for some young misses, or at least available ones, for the right price. And that’s what got him fired (officially, he resigned) yesterday. The school found that he had placed a number of phone calls to escort services, and being that he was already under investigation for other infractions, this was a short walk down the plank. “While Coach Freeze served our university well in many regards during his tenure,” said chancellor Jeffrey Vitter, “we simply cannot accept the conduct in his personal life that we have discovered.”

The Rebels beat Alabama two of the past three years and were up 21-3 on them last October. The Tide were 36-0 otherwise in non College Football Playoff contests in that span. The SEC West, and overall the SEC, just got even more polarized in terms of the have and the have-nots.

Not making this up: Also yesterday, Michael Oher was released by the Carolina Panthers. I’m just hoping that Leigh Anne Tuohy and the rest of her brood are safe and sound right now.

3. I Beg Your Pardon

According to The Washington Post—and when has it ever been correct about executive malfeasance?—President Trump’s lawyers are “exploring ways to limit or undercut special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia investigation, building a case against what they allege are his conflicts of interest and discussing the president’s authority to grant pardons…”

Whaaaaa?

Trump’s lawyers deny this, of course (related: their spokesman resigned yesterday).

According to WaPo sources, President Trump has asked advisers about his ability to pardon aides, family members and even, get this, himself. From “Lock her up!” to “I pardon me!” in 10 quick months.

Let’s crank up the “I told you so” machine again, shall we?

For the record, no president has ever attempted to pardon himself, so legal scholars say that this is uncharted territory. Wait and see.

Unrelated but not unrelated: It’s “Made In America” week and Mar-a-Lago is looking into hiring 70 foreign workers. I’m telling you, The Worst Wing “30 for 30” is going to be exploding at the seams with minutiae like this.

4. The Great New Hampshire Bison Stampede of 2017

In Gilford, New Hampshire, 16 bison broke free of their enclosure on Armand Bolduc’s farm and made a run for it earlier this week. Perhaps they were shuffling off to Buffalo. Regardless, all 16 were returned safely to their owner but someone should praise them for being model citizens. New Hampshire’s state motto, after all, is “Live Free or Die.”

5. Dunkirk

 

The summer’s first true hit movie (that does not feature anyone from Marvel or D.C. Comics, at least) opens today. It’s a true story about the massive evacuation of Allied forces from a town on the northern coast of France. Christopher Nolan (Memento, Too Many Batman flicks) directed and Harry Styles is in it, which means there are going to be a ton of crying, traumatized tweens exiting your local cineplex in the next fortnight.

 

The critics are, as we like to say, agog. A 94 on MetaCritic and a 92 on Rotten Tomatoes. This is a film that will win Oscars (Cinematography, Directing, at least a Best Picture nom), especially since 2017 is an odd-numbered year, so the Academy doesn’t have to worry about black people this time around.

We’ll see if we can’t get Chris Corbellini to review it for you soon…

Music 101

In The End

It was grim and nihilistic, but Linkin Park‘s breakout 2001 hit was infectious and had serious turn-it-upness. A big reason for that was lead singer Chester Bennington, who died yesterday at age 41. The song was a smash, rising to No. 2 on the Billboard charts. Bennington, who committed suicide by hanging at his home in Palos Verdes Estates, Calif., actually did not like the track and did not want it included on the band’s album, Hybrid Theory. The album went Diamond (10 million units), thanks largely to this song, and was the best-selling album of the decade. In the end, it doesn’t even matter.

A Word, Please

Agrarian (adj.)

Pertaining to cultivated land or the cultivation of land, i.e. farming

 

 

 

 

Remote Patrol

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

The Starting Five

Glioblastoma

“Glioblastoma is the most aggressive form of brain cancer,” says a physician on CBS This Morning. “The normal expected life span is 14 months.”

Senator John McCain (R-Arizona), 80, was diagnosed with this form of brain cancer after having a blood clot removed above his eye last week. Best of luck to McCain, who as you know was a P.O.W. in Vietnam for five years. Our good friend Katie has a great dad who wrote a book all about Vietnam POWs and much of it was the result of interviews with Senator McCain. I’ve read it and I highly recommend it.

Make no mistake about the grimness of this cancer. As I read earlier today, ” The 2-year survival rate is approximately 17 percent for patients between 40 and 65 years old.”

2. Can We Talk?

“I owe HOW MUCH?”

Next Wednesday Donald Trump, Jr., (arguably the third favorite son of the president right now) and Paul Manafort (former campaign chairman) are scheduled to testify publicly before Congress as part of a prolix hearing titled “Oversight of the Foreign Agents Registration Act and Attempts to Influence US Elections: Lessons Learned from Current and Prior Administrations.” Whatevs.

What makes this fun? Yesterday The New York Times reported that Manafort owed about $17 million to pro-Russia interests before he joined the Trump campaign last year. Rule No. 1 is Never fight a land war in Asia and Rule No. 2 is Never be deep in debt to Russian oligarchs.

Meanwhile, yesterday a source close to the grown-up Trump bros told People mag that Don, Jr., is “miserable” and he “can’t wait for these four years to be over.” As a friend on Twitter quipped, “Join the club.”

3. If Nolan Arenado Hits Three Home Runs and Collects Seven RBI In An Untelevised Game Against The Padres, Did It Really Happen?

What a fantastic microcosm of the under-appreciated Colorado Rockies third baseman’s career: yesterday afternoon, in a game that the franchise’s broadcast partner, AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain, did not televise, Nolan Arenado blasted three homers, had two more hits, 14 total bases, and seven RBI. The Rockies slapped around the Padres, 18-4.

Arenado, whom we’ve mentioned frequently in this space before, led the National League both in home runs AND RBI the previous two years and was unable to finish better than fifth in MVP voting. He currently leads the NL in RBI and is second in WAR and will likely be looking up at Bryce Harper (or Clayton Kershaw) in this year’s MVP voting.

4. Napoleon, Hitler and Trump

Napoloen: Small hands, died in exile

In an entertaining 50-minute interview with The New York Times, we learned that President Trump’s six year-old granddaughter speaks a little Chinese (Manchurian Candidate alert!), that Trump never would have appointed Jeff Sessions as AG if he knew he was gonna wuss out, and that the prez thinks French counterpart Emmanuel Macron “loves holding my hand (probably more so than Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon do). Then there was this interesting discussion on failed European imperialists that bears reprinting here:

TRUMP: Well, Napoleon finished a little bit bad. But I asked that. So I asked the president, so what about Napoleon? He said: “No, no, no. What he did was incredible. He designed Paris.” [garbled] The street grid, the way they work, you know, the spokes. He did so many things even beyond. And his one problem is he didn’t go to Russia that night because he had extracurricular activities, and they froze to death. How many times has Russia been saved by the weather? [garbled]

[crosstalk/unintelligible]

Adolf Hitler: One testicle, killed himself as Allies closed in

TRUMP: Same thing happened to Hitler. Not for that reason, though. Hitler wanted to consolidate. He was all set to walk in. But he wanted to consolidate, and it went and dropped to 35 degrees below zero, and that was the end of that army.

[crosstalk]

But the Russians have great fighters in the cold. They use the cold to their advantage. I mean, they’ve won five wars where the armies that went against them froze to death. [crosstalk] It’s pretty amazing.

So, we’re having a good time. The economy is doing great.

5. Are You Part of The 1%?

Kyle Schwarber (.176) has the worst average in the big leagues, but his $522,000 salary still puts him in the top 1%.

The minimum salary for an NFL player is $465,000.

The minimum salary for a Major League Baseball player is $535,000.

The minimum salary for an NBA player is $815,000.

On Wall Street, the AVERAGE salary is $526,000.

What do all of those salaries (except the NFL in certain states) have in common? They put those earners in the TOP 1% of American wage earners. The curious thing is that those four groups of people, most of whom are extremely talented, spend the majority of their time in the company of their co-workers (as most of us do). So, to use an analogy, if you’re 6’4″ everyone else sees you as tall. But if you’re 6’4″ in an NBA locker room, you’re slightly undersized.

Gus Fring knows you only need to earn $231,000 per year in New Mexico to be in its top 1%. And do try Los Pollos Hermanos for breakfast.

In 46 of the 50 states, you don’t need to earn $500K to be in the Top 1%. In 38 of the 50 states, you don’t even need to earn $400K to be in the Top 1%. Highest income state? Connecticut ($659,979 to be in top 1%); Lowest? New Mexico ($231K; no wonder Walter White was doing so well relatively). Most surprising, at least to me: North Dakota, where you need to earn $481K to be in top 1% (GAS/ENERGY).

The point is this: most people who are in the Top 1% don’t think of themselves that way because in the immediate company of their peers, they’re just average. But if you were to tell them that there was, for example, a tidal wave that knocked out 99 of 100 people in a village and that THEY happened to be the lone survivor, they would consider themselves extremely, almost miraculously, lucky, no?

Reserves

Are you wondering what I am wondering? Why don’t college football writers have to sit out a year upon transferring? An incomplete list of recent transfers:

Pete Thamel…..Sports Illustrated to Yahoo! Sports

Bruce Feldman…..Fox Sports to Sports Illustrated

Stewart Mandel…..Fox Sports to The Athletic

Brett McMurphy….ESPN to undecided (Brett’s the Malik Zaire of this class)

Brian Hamilton….SI to undecided

Music 101

Midnight Confessions

Was this 1968 single by The Grass Roots (a Top 5 tune, the band’s highest charting single ever) a musical dramatization of Rev. Arthur Dimmesdale’s pining for Hester Prynne from the 1850 novel The Scarlet Letter? Some have suggested as much. The Grass Roots did not write this song; it was originally penned by Lou T. Josie and performed by the Ever-Green Blues (get it?).

Remote Patrol

The Open Championship

6 a.m.-Noon The Golf Channel

In the last nine years, nine different men have won The Open. Last year’s champion? Henrik Stenson of Sweden. This year’s links course is at Royal Birkdale.

A Word, Please

prolix (adj.)

tediously wordy; using too many words; employing lots and lots and lots of unnecessary words to explain something; are you getting it?

 

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Starting Five

Health Care Bill: D.O.A.

Remember this photo from May 4? It’s Donald Trump’s “Mission Accomplished” pic. This was after the House passed his health care bill. Yesterday the bill failed in the Senate after four of the 52 GOP senators failed to back it.

With a majority in both houses and a mandate from the American public, President Trump failed to pass the most important piece of legislation of his nascent presidency. And how did he react to this defeat? “We’re not going to own it. I’m not going to own it,” Trump said Tuesday at the White House. “I can tell you the Republicans are not going to own it. We’ll let Obamacare fail and then the Democrats are going to come to us.”

 

How many back hoes were needed to move those goal posts, Donald?

2. Here Come The Dodgers

Justin Turner’s .370 batting average is the best in the big leagues

You may not be able to see them play if you live in Los Angeles (at least not on TV), but the Los Angeles Dodgers are mowing down the National League. On June 6 they lost to Max Scherzer (no shame in that) and the Washington Nationals, 6-3. Since that day they are 30-4 and have baseball’s best record at 30-4. L.A. has put together two 10-game win streaks in that span, a current and continuing one included.

And we don’t even talk about Yasiel Puig any more (he’s second on the team, behind rookie phenom Cody Bellinger, in home run with 18; Bellinger has 26).

3. Badwater Dropouts

Last week’s Badwater Ultra (135 miles run through Death Valley in the dog days of summer) had the highest dropout rate (20 runners quit) since 2003 and the slowest winning times, both for men and women, in more than 10 years. Obviously, millennials are to blame.

The female winner, Sandra Villines, became the first Latina champion in the history of Badwater, which dates back to 1978.

4. Oh, Deer

That video of the golden retriever (“Good boy, Storm!”) saving the drowning fawn (why did so many media outlets call it a “baby deer?”) off Port Jefferson, Long Island, already garnered 4.5 million views on Facebook. To think that deer will grow up and in a few years be shot by a hunter warms the cockles of my heart (I was a pre-med but we never learned exactly in which chamber the cockles are located).

5. “Shall We Begin?”

“I’m comin’ home, I’m comin’ home, tell the world I’m comin’ home”

The season 7 season premiere of Game of Thrones front-loaded the carnage and did a MAJOR spoiler alert by making the final clip in the “Previously on Game of Thrones” montage the shot of Arya slitting Walder Frey‘s throat. So if we already knew Walder was dead, when you open the season with him addressing his family in a banquet hall, we KNOW that it’s not him. And we know that Arya can shift shapes. So it kinda took a little away from the reveal, no?

By the way, if you noticed, Tyrion did not get a single line in the premiere, though we did see him. And above is Danerys’ only line? Meanwhile, I really loved the Samwell “Taking Care of Business” montage, didn’t you?

Music 101

Teardrop

One of the three members of Massive Attack sent the intsrumental version of this tune to Madonna in 1997, hoping she’d record the vocals. The other two outvoted him, electing to have the more ethereal-sounding Elizabeth Fraser of Cocteau Twins do the honors. She did. Fraser wrote the vocals, while the show runners of House loved the heartbeat sound and used it as the long-running CBS show’s theme.

A Word, Please

unctuous (adj.)

excessive piousness or moralistic fervor, especially inan affected manner; excessively smooth, suave, or smug. (my mind goes to Mike Pence)

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Starting Five*

*Or however many were in the room

Natasha Poly is a Russian-born American. Medium Happy investigators have not ruled her out as the fifth person in the room.

1. The Fifth Man*

*Someone resurrect Orson Welles, we have a film idea

Turns out that more people than you think are intrigued by “adoptions.” A fifth person (besides Don, Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort and Natalia Veselnitskaya) were in that June 9, 2016 meeting that has drawn so much attention this week.

NBC News has learned that Veselnitskaya was accompanied by a Russian-born American lobbyist. His identity has not been confirmed, but his presence has been. Now it’s just a matter of finding video or a transcript from Donald, Jr., mentioning that there were only four people in the room.

2. Use Your Illusion

Is it just me or has Kellyanne Conway had a little work done? And if so, was she “bleeding badly?”

Look at Kellyanne’s face above. Now look at her from five months earlier. Is it just a matter of a getaway vacation at Sandals?

Meanwhile, this was a nice attempt at distraction from the Don, Jr., meeting. Did it work?

3. ” ‘Derriere’ is a French Word. Not A Lot Of People Know That”

“You’re in such good shape. Like, you’re making me completely rethink my decision not to stage a 40-and-over Miss Universe pageant. I’ve got a sudden urge to storm your Bastille!”

I mean, really, Donald. The world has witnessed countless examples of well-intentioned older chauvinists objectifying women (in front of their husbands? who happen to be the leader of a large nation?), but when it’s a guy who is on record as boasting about grabbing women by the pu**y because “when you’re a celebrity, they let you do it,” I’m sorry, you no longer get a free pass. Every time Donald Trump travels abroad (or speaks to a broad), Billy Bob Thornton’s American president from Love, Actually looks better and better.

 

4. What If Life of Pi Met All Is Lost?

There’s so much to unwrap here: How does an elephant get swept out to sea? How did the Sri Lankan Navy know how to rescue such an enormous beast? There’s a Sri Lankan Navy??? What if a shark had attacked the elephant and it was on video! Would Jason McIntrye have spontaneously combusted with excitement?

5. Fantastic Forbes

Y0u would not know it by watching ESPN or reading its All-Lonzo-All-Day website, but the breakout star of the Vegas Summer League is San Antonio’s Bryn Forbes. The one-year veteran scored 29 points last night, which is just decimal points below his average through four games.

A 6’3″ sharpshooter out of Michigan State, Forbes spent much of his rookie season with San Antonio’s D-League team. But in early April, with three future Spur Hall of Famers sitting out against Dallas, he scored a career-high 27 points.

No doubt, Lonzo Ball is having a terrific Vegas week, leading the league in assists. But Forbes’ 29.3 ppg average has not received its due nationally.

Reserves

Cosmo Did It

Turns out the person of interest, Cosmo DiNardo, has confessed to killing all four men in that Philly-area missing persons case. He claims he had an accomplice. Turns out the drug dealer felt cheated in drug deals. Inside every one of us there’s a little Hector Salamanca, I guess. Tragic and terrible.

Music 101

It Don’t Come Easy

By the time they split, all of the Fab Four were primed to spread their wings and demonstrate what they were capable of on their own. Even Ringo. This track sounds like something George Harrison would have written because mostly, he did. But Harrison generously gave his friend full writing credits on this 1971 tune, which peaked at No. 4.

A Word, Please

Spurious (adj.)

Lacking authenticity; false (but who’s going to hop on a “Spurious News” slogan?)

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Starting Five

The Trip of the Iceberg*

*The judges will also accept “I Want To Break Free” as long as you sing it in a Freddie Mercury voice.

So, wouldn’t it be ironic (actually, Alanis, the word is coincidental) if that massive Delaware-sized iceberg that recently cracked and is prepared to break free from Antarctica crashed into Delaware?

At the University of Leeds, polar observation researcher Anna Hogg (don’t you just love British names?) observes that while this massif is massive, it’s split from Antarctica (it is rumored to now be seeing South America) will not affect global sea levels. “This is the same as if you’ve got an ice cube in your gin and tonic,” Hogg says. “When the ice cube melts, it doesn’t raise the volume of water in that glass.”

Me, I wonder if the polar observation department at the University of Leeds is next to the bipolar observation department, and if that ever causes, you know, confusion.

2. Bodies Found In Bucks County

The person of interest, Cosmo DiNardo

It didn’t take long. Using cadaver-sniffing dogs, investigators at the DiNardo farm in Bucks County found a 12-foot grave and have already identified one of the bodies in it belonging to one of the four missing men, Dean Finocchiaro.

This story from Philly.com outlines the latest breaks in the case. Sounds as if the four men might have known the person of interest, Cosmo DiNardo, through marijuana and/or gun sales.

3. Peyton Throws A Home Run Ball

Last night Peyton Manning hosted the ESPYs and used a smart strategy: “I’m not going to tell these jokes the writers wanted me to say, but here they are, anyway.” Hey, he’s good at this, and the completion percentage was high. Everyone’s favorite rip: “Our [Olympic women’s] gymnastics team was so dominant that Kevin Durant told me he wants to play for them next year.”

4. Serkis of the Stars

Andy Serkis, The Precious, appeared on Colbert two nights ago and someone had an inspired idea: read Donald Trump’s tweets as Gollum from The Lord of The Rings trilogy.

5. Zed’s Dead, Baby. Zed Is Dead


Rolling Stone ranked the 100 Greatest Movies of the Nineties, a decade of cinema that we in this very space have hailed repeatedly as having had a surfeit of knock-out films (ooh, “surfeit”; that could be “A Word, Please” nominee at a later date). I’ve only gone through the list once, but I don’t recall seeing Forrest Gump on it. That’s just an ‘F You” omission.

UPDATE: Other films not on the list: Good Will Hunting, Jerry Maguire, Braveheart, A Few Good Men, The American President, Booty Call, Saving Private Ryan, Shakespeare In Love, and The Sixth Sense.

Thoughts: I like that Groundhog Day was as high as 11th: it’s an existential treatise more than it is a comedy; Trainspotting too low at 33 and The Shawshank Redemption way, way, way too low at 78.

RS‘ Top Five, from 5 to 1: Pulp Fiction, The Silence of the Lambs, Safe, Hoop Dreams, Goodfellas.

Music 101

What’s My Scene?

And another thing/I’ve been wondering lately/Am I crazy/To believe in ideals… In 1987 we Yanks finishing up college were treated to two great new bands who came out of nowhere (specifically, Down Under): The Church and this band, Hoodoo Gurus. Lead singer and songwriter Dave Faulkner says of this tune, “It best captures everything I try to do when writing any song. I wouldn’t change a note or a syllable of this one.”

A Word, Please

Flummox (verb)

To perplex (someone) greatly; confuse

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Starting Five

Rob Goldstone, the publicist who set up the meeting between the Russian lawyer and The Last Don 2

Goldstone Schemery

A family friend of the Trump’s, Rob Goldstone, wrote to Donny Jr. last summer offering to set up a meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya. We know this because Donny Jr. released his emails yesterday, which Pop is trumping as a display of his son’s “transparency” while failing to mention that the Failing New York Times was about to release those same emails anyway.

 

It may be true, but is it exculpatory?

If it’s what you say I love it” –D. Trump, Jr.

Basically, Donald Trump, Jr., has confessed to and provided the paper trail to a meeting he took with a Russian who promised damaging info on a presidential candidate running against his dad. So what is the defense to this crime? Sounds as if it is, “So what, no biggie.” We’ll see.

Meanwhile, if you have yet to watch this video clip of a two-minute extemporaneous stand-up from Australian Chris Uhlmann, I recommend you give it your full attention for 120 seconds.

2. Cano Can Do

While all the world (myself included) entered the night agog over Aaron Judge, it was two former Yankees who sealed the American League’s fifth straight All-Star Game victory in Miami. Seattle Mariner Robinson Cano hit the go-ahead solo home run in the top of the 10th (how did the N.L. get to host two consecutive All-Star Games?) and Cleveland Indian closer Andrew Miller shut the door in the bottom of the inning?

The game featured 28 first-time All-Stars and 23 strikeouts. Cano, an eight-time All-Star, had as many All-Star selections as anyone on either roster. It was the first time since 1952 that an All-Star Game failed to have any player with at least 10 selections. We’ve entered a new era.

3. Next Time, David, Take The Subway To Subway

Yesterday, in a Failing New York Times Op-Ed titled “How We Are Ruining America,” columnist David Brooks opined, without saying it specifically, that if you live in a neighborhood with a Soul Cycle you are excluding the poor from ever making it in America. Or that’s what I took from it.

Anyway, about midway through he offered this well-intentioned yet somewhat tone-deaf paragraph about the midday meal to illustrate his point:

Recently I took a friend with only a high school degree to lunch. Insensitively, I led her into a gourmet sandwich shop. Suddenly I saw her face freeze up as she was confronted with sandwiches named “Padrino” and “Pomodoro” and ingredients like soppressata, capicollo and a striata baguette. I quickly asked her if she wanted to go somewhere else and she anxiously nodded yes and we ate Mexican.

Let’s get real. Do  you really believe David Brooks has any friends with only a high school education? Was it his housekeeper? Also, while everyone else is harrumphing about Brooks being out of touch (Why did he have to take her/him there?), all I can think is that David Brooks just was able to expense his meal at Chipotle.

4. Philly Four: No Answers Yet

The case of the four missing young men (Mark Sturgis, Thomas Meo, Dean Finocchiaro and Jimi Tar Patrick) from Bucks County, an area north of Philadelphia that is quite lovely and upper-middle class, continues to baffle investigators. First, where are they? Second, did all four know one another and through what avenue?

Cosmo DiNardo

Third, why is Cosmo DiNardo, aged 20 and supposedly having a history of mental illness, a person of interest? Fourth, when you hear that his parents own a 600-acre farm and are in the “cement contracting business,” does your mind go to Breaking Bad?

UPDATE: Investigators are also looking into the mysterious disappearance of Susie B., who was last seen walking down a dirt road in western Maryland babbling incoherently, or was it repeating “Sweet Pea….Sweet Pea…Sweet Pea?”

5. Precious Cargo

On a Qantas flight from Melbourne to Perth, Aussie passenger “Dean” had one item to check: a can of Emu Export Lager. Because Australians are less uptight about terrorism (and can afford to be), the ground crew happily tagged the beer and loaded it into the belly of the plane. It was even the first item sent out on the carousel.

Music 101

You’re In My Heart (The Final Acclaim)

In 1977 Rod Stewart released this song as a tribute to his former girlfriend, Britt Eklund. The tune rose to No. 4 on the U.S. Billboard charts. Eklund favors Stewart’s later wife, Rachel Hunter, no?

A Word, Please

Chicanery (noun)

The use of trickery to achieve a political, financial, or legal purpose.

 

AN APOLOGY

by John Walters

Let’s get the important part over with first: I want to apologize to Alex Putterman and to the staff of Awful Announcing.

I hate being wrong. Like most adults, I hate admitting that I was wrong. But when I am wrong, and it happens often, I hate myself if I don’t own up to it. Here, I was wrong.

Let me tell you what happened. At the restaurant where I work (and worked part-time even when I was at Newsweek) I just finished a 13-hour day. Bartended back-to-back parties. Anyway, about 4 hours into my shift, a friend texts to tell me that it looks as if Awful Announcing rewrote the Caitlyn Jenner theme I posted last November. Bleacher Report had already done a similar re-write.

I’m gazing at the photo atop the story. The headline looks as if someone tried to summarize the story I wrote eight months earlier in one sentence. And the first few grafs had no mention of my piece. I was livid.

I completely forgot that Alex had interviewed me about this about a month ago. A lot has happened in my life since them, including two close family members being hospitalized and my working 6 days a week, and I completely forgot. Worse, I did not read to the bottom of the piece.

Anyway, I snapped and that was uncalled for. And there I was serving 400 corporate types on a “team-building” outing with an open bar. But here’s what’s truly the gist of it: I was wrong. Please accept my apology.  I’m sorry, Alex. And now that I’ve read the story, I think you did an excellent job.

Sincerely,

John Walters

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

 

Starting Five

As Nadal’s last shot sails long….

Muller Time!

It’s all right there above: 4 hours and 48 minutes. Five sets. A final set that lasted 28 games. Gilles Muller etches one of the top 20 moments in Luxembourg sports history (top 15?) by knocking out 4th-seed and all-time great Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon in the Round of 16. A classic match, and an antidote to a sleepy Monday afternoon in July here in the States.

2. The Last Don 2

 

There’s smoke on that there gun, grampa. Is the news that Donald, Jr., admitted to taking a meeting with a Russian lawyer specifically seeking dirt on HRC last June at last a piece of news that, in a criminal sense, will stick? Well, it IS a crime and Don Jr. himself admitted (bragged?) that this is specifically why he met with that Russian. There’s no weaseling out of this one.

The Russian lawyer: Natalia Veselnitskaya

Here’s the Wall Street Journal story that broke the news and here’s a follow-up Washington Post piece that confirms it. There’s just far too many instances of the Trump family’s allegiances to Russia to ignore the notion that they’re in bed, financially, with Russia. And that it has compromised them from the very start of their run to the White House. This news is the strongest and most incriminating piece of evidence yet.

There was a funny montage last night on Rachel Maddow where she ran a series of denials from The Worst Wing members (Paul Manafort, Kellyanne Conway, Jeff Sessions, Mike Pence, Reince Priebus and even Orange Crush himself) about having EVER met with Russian officials during the campaign.

As Maddow explicated, for months and months The Worst Wing has denied meeting with the Russians. Now that it has been confirmed with nary a doubt, TWW seems to have adopted a strategy of saying, “Yeah, so what?”

3. Gavel Banger

Last night in Miami, Aaron Judge wins the Home Run Derby as we sportswriters attempt to find more witty metaphors to connect jurists with long-ball hitters. Judge hit 47 home runs during the competition (an image of Joey Chestnut just popped into my mind) and four of them traveled over 500 feet. And yeah, I do think that’ll rob him of some power at least the rest of July. We’ll see.

4. Tragedy in Mississippi

A Marine Corps KC-130 goes down in western Mississippi, killing all 16 military personnel aboard. The aircraft, which is regularly used for refueling, spiraled downward into a field and spread debris for five miles. Terrible day.

5. Never Mind Don, Jr., and Kim Jong-Un, We’re Doomed

Read this article from New York magazine if you really, really want to be depressed. Oh, and I’m sparing you the wave of Mass Extinction stories that are also spreading this morning. Related: Stop KILLING elephants, you bastards.

Reserves

Vanished in Bucks County 

Four young men, ages 18 to 22, have mysteriously vanished on a 68-acre farm in eastern Pennsylvania, in aptly named Bucks County. There’s a suspect, another young man named Cosmo DiNardo. His parents own the farm and are in the “cement contracting business.” Uh-oh.

Authorities have said that searching for the men, who knew each other, on the farm is like “searching for a needle in a haystack” (at a site that has haystacks; have they looked in there?). What’s going on? Still too soon to tell.

Music 101

Put The Message In The Box

Rock and roll was a little lost between the release of The Joshua Tree in 1987 until Nirvana and Pearl Jam showed up in 1991. Thank you, Guns ‘n Roses, for helping us through that fallow period. Occasionally a decent band, such as World Party, fronted by a former member of The Waterboys, Kurt Wallinger, would provide a gem. This song, from the critically acclaimed 1990 album Goodbye Jumbo, was one such piece of bling.

Remote Patrol

MLB All-Star Game

FOX 8 p.m.

Starting pitchers: Max Scherzer versus Chris Sale. In the past 20 years, the American League is 16-3-1.