IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

STARTING FIVE

The photo of the week

1. In My Tribe

Unsure whether it’s depressing or fascinating to note the similarities in the disputes between the College Football Playoff rankings and Ferguson (yes, I understand that someone died in the latter).

Fact: All of us belong to a tribe, like it or not.

Opinion:  It is a measure of our enlightenment when we are able to look beyond whether or not our tribe is in the right and search instead for the truth (Hey, JDubs, if I wanted a sermon, I’d watch The Newsroom). Whether you are a Ferguson protester or not, whether you believe Ohio State belongs in the final four or not, the first step is to assess all the facts and/or information available. It’s not an a la carte table. Some of the facts will not abet your case. Disregard them and you only imperil the chances that anyone will take your argument seriously.

Fact: Tribes are like concentric circles. If Mars Attacks, we are all humans. If the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor, we are all Americans. If Rosa Parks is denied a seat on a bus, we are all people who believe in equal rights. Likewise, we are all football fans. Then we are all fans of college over the NFL. Then we are “S-E-C! S-E-C!” (“Pawwwwwwlllll!”). Then we are War Damn Eagle.

Opinion Laced with Fact: The Selection Committee bears many similarities with the Grand Jury. They are charged with evaluating reams of evidence and then evaluating what evidence carries more value. They know going in that they are never going to please everyone because the truth is relative in both cases. And people, as noted, usually prefer to side with their own tribe if there’s even the most remote possibility that their tribe will prevail in a dispute.

Baylor has the same record as TCU, plays in the same conference as TCU, beat TCU, and is behind TCU in the Playoff Rankings

Fact: Some people will just choose not to accept what they see or hear. Baylor beat TCU head to head. Yes, it was a 21-point comeback in the fourth quarter at home and the Bears were aided by not one but two PI calls. But they won.

Opinion: If it’s between these two teams, that should carry more weight.

Fact: Oregon has one loss. So does Mississippi State, TCU, Baylor, Alabama and Ohio State. That some people automatically place the Ducks and Crimson Tide in a strata above the other three is opinion.

Fact: A man was shot to death on a road in the noon hour and the circumstances of that death and who’s to blame will never be 100% accepted. Unlike a death that involved some of those same details, there is no Zapruder film here (and even in that situation, where film exists, the Who Why and How of that killing still provokes dispute).

If Officer Wilson is smart, and if he cares about keeping the peace, last night’s TV interview will be his last TV interview.

Fact: All of the Grand Jury testimony is available for your perusal. None of the Selection Committee discussions are.

Fact: Michael Brown behaved like a bully, using his imposing size and strength and with total disregard for the law and other people, to rob a store less than an hour before his death, a death in which the key witness argues that he behaved in exactly the same way.

Opinion: That is relevant.

Opinion: That is irrelevant.

Opinion: Michael Brown is not a martyr, as much as people would like him to represent all the minorities who were wrongfully shot to death by police (and there they have a huge point). And Darren Wilson probably did not act as skillfully as he portrayed in an interview with George Stephanopoulos that was conducted three months after the fact. Does this tragedy unfold as it did if Michael Brown had been white? Probably not. Nor does it unfold this way if Darren Wilson had been black.

Radio Raheem was a gentle giant

Beneath it all was a simmering hostility and mistrust, and that this occurred in the summer of the 25th anniversary of Do The Right Thing should not be lost on you. I don’t know any police officer who would attempt to pull a large man INTO his vehicle, and I don’t know any sane citizen who would incite a tussle with a cop, an armed cop, unless he felt his own life was already in danger.

On the other hand, I don’t know if it was absolutely necessary to tell Mr. Brown to get on the sidewalk, or to speak to him as if he were a child. And I don’t know the manner in which Officer Wilson said it. And you and I don’t know if he really saw the cigarillos in Brown’s hand, or if that’s just some after-the-fact knowledge that provides an explanation as to why he pulled his vehicle up diagonally.

Opinion: Step out of your tribe. Take a good look at how the other side sees things. We’re all headed to the same place, anyway. Life is fatal. Only the expiration date is up for dispute.

 

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

STARTING FIVE

One of many photos that is representative of the Jets’ season…

1. Surely, You Jets

38-3?!? To a team that could barely shovel out of its own driveway this past week? The Jest are a trainRex. I hope Marcus Mariota enjoys living in New Jersey next autumn. The Curse of Tebow continues.

2. Putting the “IR” in Irish

After three straight dismal Saturdays and one turkey feast, do you really have the stomach to watch Notre Dame play this weekend? (yes, if you hate them)

A short list of Notre Dame defensive players who, due to injury or academic fraud (just 3) (starters in bold), will not be participating in Saturday’s game versus USC at the Los Angeles Coliseum: Joe Schmidt (MLB), Sheldon Day (DT), Jarron Jones (DT), Drue Tranquill (S), KeiVarae Russell (CB), Ishaq Williams (OLB/DE), Kendall Moore (DL) and Nicky Baratti (S).

Basically, the Irish will be without six players who were preseason or regular-season starters. Seven if you include Baratti.

The two-deep defensive chart for Notre Dame’s best/biggest rivalry game of the season, against a team with arguably the best wide receiver they’ve faced (Nelson Agholor) and a quarterback, Cody Kessler, who has thrown 30 touchdown passes and just four INTs, will include nine freshmen and seven sophomores.

Time to grow up fast. I’ll be watching true freshman MLB Greer Martini, who replaces Morgan who replaced Schmidt. This kid is going to be very good down the line.

3. Her Mane Man

Some sports blogs/websites are promoting a video of a lion fighting off a crocodile today. And I get that whole “Circle of Life” thing. But I just love animals too much, so I found, with a help of Susan B. (not to be confused with Susie B.), a GFOB, a wonderful video of the possibilities between people and animals. Love this. This is what it’s all about.

4. Birdman, Birdman!

The best male love-hate relationship since “True Detective”

Finally caught Birdman, which is the first film our own Chris Corbellini gave four stars. I give the first 3/4 of it four stars, and then I go Aunt Linda on the last quarter. I’m an avowed simpleton, what can I say (without giving more away)?

Some of the scenes are pure magic: the first interaction between Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton) and Mike Shiner (Edward Norton) onstage, Sam’s (Emma Stone’s) rant, and the scene between Riggan and the theater critic “who looks like she just licked a homeless guy’s ass” are wondrous. As are, again through three-fourths of the film, the tracking shots throughout the St. James Theatre and W. 44th Street. Many of the scenes are uninterrupted for up to 10 minutes, so you’ll notice, if you play close attention, than an actor (Zak Galifianakis or Stone) will flub a word or two and yet the scene continues. It’s a high-wire act where if you fall off three feet from the end, there’s no credit for all the balancing you did the rest of the way. A lot at stake.

A unique film. And I thought it was better when it didn’t go all Mary Poppins. Your mileage may vary. Here’s an interview with Edward Norton on the film…and here’s a cool anatomy of a scene via The New York Times. Listen all the way through: the director, Alejandro Inarritu, notes that within this scene, in which Shiner manipulates Thomson by changing the script Thomson wrote, that Norton actually attempted to alter Inarritu’s script. Life imitating art as it imitates life.

5. M.I.A. at the AMA’s…

Is it just a coincidence that Mumford and Sons seemed to vanish about the same time Tim Tebow left the NFL?

…Didn’t watch the American Music Awards, but I will tell you that I think we’re about 14 seconds (or closer) from all being OVER Taylor Swift’s solipsism. RollingStone.com tore itself away from covering sports just long enough to review the night. I hear Imagine Dragons’ performance was solid, even though it sounded as if they just cribbed a Mumford and Sons’ tune.

Remote Patrol

Manchester City vs Bayern Munich

Fox Sports 1 2:45 p.m.

Robben, whose presence answers the question, “What ever happened to Corbin Bernsen?”

UEFA Champions League match featuring such stars as Bayern’s Arjen Robben (“Dodgy Flapper”) and Thomas Muller (World Cup stud) and Man City’s David Silva and Sergio Aguero. Highly sub-optimal.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

STARTING FIVE

Bending like Beckham

1. A Catch for the (Append)ages

Do we really need words here? I think the only other human who might possibly be able to make this catch is Kawhi Leonard (big mitts). Meanwhile, definitely the most impressive catch I’ve seen since Risky Business.

Goodson (I get it) was protecting middle-aged women’s eggs long before IVF clinics became a thing.

2. Good Will McAvoy

Don’t worry. The two of us will produce the best in-house newscast that Leavenworth has ever seen.

I’m sorry, but with only three episodes remaining, The Newsroom is truly hitting its stride. I don’t know what to tell you if you watch it contemptuously like some critics. I flat-out adore it.

A few notes on last night’s show:

–Assistant attorney general Barry Lazenthal was either lying or he took one too many hits to the head as an Aggie fullback. I did the leg work and Nebraska has never played Texas A&M four years in a row, much less beaten them four years in a row.

–“You’re pulling out your queen a little early…” Great line by MacKenzie McHale. Her other classic, which came straight from a 1930s or 1940s (or even 1950s) era screwball comedy: “This is so humiliating…I’ll need a dress.” (I may not have gotten the first part of that correct verbatim).

— “It says ‘Beaking News.'” Moments later: “Now it says ‘Baking News.'” Yup, been there.

–“I’m seating you at the Loser Table.” Yup, been there, too.

–“And you were a dick? A little Dickensian?” OpCit.

–“Is it possible I’m not as big a TV star as I thought?” Second time in three episodes in which Aaron Sorkin has given Will the walk-off line of the night, a chance to be self-deprecating and also ironic.

–Lucas Pruitt’s assistant should know to ALWAYS carry a mini-bottle of Schweppe’s in her purse. I loved his reaction: “It eludes me.” By the way, wouldn’t a Danny Glover stalker channel be kind of boring?

–If you’ve been paying attention, the evolution of the characters and their identifying aspects, those foundations were laid in the pilot episode. When Mac first pointed out Maggie to Jim, she said, “She’s me, 10 years ago.” And now look at Maggie: stylish haircut, nicer wardrobe, better posture and lots more confidence. She really is all growed up, and Jim knows it –plus, did you see the body language between he and Hallie at the Correspondents’ Dinner?…Also, Neal. It was he who kept stumping for Bigfoot, so when he initially got the encryption request, everyone was dubious. Which made it a better payoff when he turned out to be right.

–I’ve been dying to attend the Correspondents’ Dinner for more than a decade. To think that ethics prof got tendered an invite less than two weeks after meeting Maggie? So not fair.

–Who knew that Don Keefer would turn out to be the comic foil? Here’s a character that Sorkin completely hoodwinked us on in the pilot. And how great was it when he barges in to Sloan’s office, breathless, and says, “We’re not dating” and she doesn’t even avert her eyes from the computer to reply, “Okay?”

–“I date people who go by Mr. Chairman. First-round draft picks, or high second-round at the skill positions.” For the record, Aaron Rodgers was selected with the 24th pick of the first round.

–Everything about the EPA deputy administrator (Hello, Toby from The Office) was brilliant and ominous and hilarious. The truth on global warming is, ironically, chilling. Glad I bought that beach front property in Asheville, N.C.

–Odds of a straight man walking off an elevator at work singing (and knowing the lyrics to) “Anything Goes?” (Okay, yup, been there, too).

3. Seven Days…

Yes, but it was against Kansas…

…That’s how long Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon (408) yards held the FBS single-game rushing record, a mark that had existed for 15 years (LaDainian Tomlinson, TCU, 1999). It was broken by Oklahoma freshman Samaje Perine (427 yards), even if it was only against Kansas. I’m wondering if Perine would be playing if that other OU frosh RB who punched a female student in the face in August and was suspended for the season had been in the lineup.

Perine broke the record on 34 carries, meaning he averaged 12.6 yards per carry.

Who will break Perine’s record this weekend?

4. Cheserek

Cheserek, in foreground, waits for teammate. How can someone this fast in Eugene not play football?

Even if you’re not much of a running aficionado, remember the name Edward Cheserek. The Kenyan-born, Newark-raised harrier just won his second NCAA Men’s X-Country Championship, and he is only a sophomore at the University of Oregon. The Ducks’ last repeat national champion in this discipline was Steve Prefontaine, whose life (and death) inspired not one but two films (starring Jared Leto and Billy Crudup, which is a bizarre Claire Danes cross-fire).

5. Bill Maher Had a Good Idea

Ralphie hopes we can rescue Christmas, too.

On Friday night, before taking a six-week or so hiatus, “Real Time” aired and as usual, ended with “New Rules.” And, as usual, the last New Rule was an idea that host Bill Maher expanded upon, and essentially he was trying to rescue Christmas (and I imagine he’ll do a better job than Kirk Cameron).

 

Anyway, his suggestion, and I’ve been holding the reins to this bandwagon for years, is that we can only rescue Christmas if we stop shopping so much. Buy kids presents. Okay. But after that, let it go (“Let it go!” Turn away and slam that door!”). Shopping, and spending, is why everyone loves Thanksgiving (absence of it) and dreads Christmas.

And as noted in this space previously, is there anything more perverted than honoring the birth of the least materialistic man in Western history, the icon of anti-materialism, by giving your credit card callouses?

Remote Patrol

Osborne (left) goes finger to finger with Alec Baldwin

Nothing worth watching tonight. Unless you’ve never seen “The Shawshank Redemption” before (STARZ, 9 p.m.), but then who ARE you? Instead, may I suggest you read this terrific NYT profile –I’m getting my Deitsch on– on TCM’s Robert Osborne?

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

STARTING FIVE

All that, AND Davis had a tremendous second half against Notre Dame in 1974.

1. Holy Brow!

This did not come out of nowhere…which is to say it came out of somewhere.

Anthony Davis was, after all, the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA’s 2012 Final Four despite making only one field goal in the championship game win over Kansas. The then-freshman DID collect 16 rebounds, block six shots, have five assists and three steals. He was a stat stuffer.

And, of course, Davis did become the No. 1 overall pick that June.

And though Davis’ first two years in the NBA with the New Orleans Non-Noels were decent, the light appeared to go on this summer at the World Championships in Spain. Charles Barkley declared afterward that the 6-10 Chicago native would be the NBA’s “next big thing” and Sir Charles may be on to something.

Yes, it’s not even Thanksgiving, and the NBA season does not really begin until Christmas Day…or is it All-Star Weekend?…or is it April?… but Davis currently LEADS the league in Blocks (3.9 pg) and Steals (!) (2.3 pg), is 5th in Rebounding (11.40) and 3rd, behind former NBA MVPs Kobe and LeBron, in Scoring (25.5 pg). No other NBA player is in the Top 5 in more than three categories (Stephen Curry and DeAndre Jordan).

2. Tweet-le Dumb

Jim preemptively mind-melding Hallie, begging her not to send out post-midnight, exhaust-fueled (hey, that’s a pun!) tweets.

Sunday night: Hallie Shea (a.k.a. Grace Gummer, a.k.a. Jim Harper’s Latest Squeeze, a.k.a. Meryl Streep’s Daughter) is fired from ANC News after a 2:37 a.m. tweet riffing on the Boston bombings in which she tweeted, and I quote, “Republicans rejoice that finally there’s a national tragedy that doesn’t involve guns.”

When Charlie Skinner terminates her ass, he asks what she was thinking at the time she typed those words, what value did it have? “Retweets,” she answers.

Fast forward to late Tuesday night, when a Florida State alumnus (and an attorney) shoots up an on-campus library. A tweet is sent from the account of Marisa Martin, an ESPNU Campus Connection student reporter (Martin actually attends the University of Alabama). The tweet reads, “Reported gunman on the FSU campus. Maybe he is headed for Jameis.

Then, after considerable –and understandable– brushback (though I don’t understand how #FSUTwitter did not get that tweet Spammed…you guys were off your game some), there is another tweet from the account:  “Since apparently I cant make a joke in all seriousness I hope everyone at FSU is safe & that the gunman is found. But I stand by my opinions.”

Then Martin deleted the account.

THEN…Martin went on another account –the Alabama Campus Connection Twitter feed –and claimed that her account had been hacked.

Hmm….

Marisa, it’s not the crime that condemns you most of the time. It’s the cover-up. We’ll see if this is truthful. Meanwhile, this is the second young, female reporter associated with FSU football who has landed in infamy this autumn. Natalie Pierre, who covered the Noles for the Tallahassee Democrat, resigned in early October amidst plagiarism charges.

We’ll see you at the Keefer 40th Anniversary Gala.

p.s. One more The Newsroom note: Olivia Munn (Sloan Sabbith) and Thomas Sadoski (Don Keefer) killed it last week. Best Sorkinian sexual tension banter since, when, “The American President?” “Sports Night?” Fantastic stuff. Great acting and even better dialogue. And not one, not two, but THREE walk-and-talks! (“Big laughs from the crowd”)

3. Nichols’ Worth

Judging from the reaction by Hollywood stars I admire such as Neal Patrick Harris and, last night on Letterman, Edward Norton, director Mike Nichols was more than just a prolific legend of both Broadway and films. He was a genuinely good guy. Nichols, who was married to Diane Sawyer (and was the father-in-law of Rachel Nichols) died on Wednesday.

(P.S. Norton was a last-minute replacement for Meryl Streep, who was either too overcome with grief over Nichols’ death or Hallie’s firing from ACN. I cannot be sure.)

At this moment, he really didn’t care where Joe DiMaggio had gone…

There’s a lot of work in his curriculum vitae. Probably the most indispensable was The Graduate. I’d point out to you, the next time (or if it’s the first time) you watch the film, to notice the camera angles. When Ben Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) is being seduced by Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft, who was only six years older than he in real life), notice how the scene is shot from behind her bent and naked leg, which then frames a curious but unsure young man. Deft touch.

Nichols, who was born in Nazi Germany in 1931 and emigrated with his family to the U.S. in 1939 when they escaped (I’m not sure if they were all singers), was 83.

4. Just Win, Maybe!

It was a little soggy in Oakland last night. Gimme natural grass, all day (and night) long. And Howie Long.

 

The Oakland Raiders refuse to go 2008 Detroit Lions on us (the only NFL team to go 0-16; the Buccaneers only went 0-14) by defeating the Kansas City Chiefs 24-20 last night in O-Town (Do they call it O-Town? Or is that Orlando?). Anyway, it was not a huge surprise, as the Raiders had lost by seven or less in five of their first ten games.

One great “Pride & Poise” moment, though. Having taken a 24-20 lead with 1:42 remaining on a 9-yard TD pass from Derek Carr to James Jones, all the Raiders needed to do was hold K.C.

The Chiefs faced 4th-and-3 from their own 46 when Da Raidas committed THREE defensive penalties on the same play: two defensive holding infractions and one hands to the face. Pity for the Chiefs that it was a grab bag, and they were only allowed to choose one.

 

Three plays later, the Raiders celebrated a sack (or as I like to call them, a “Matuszak,” 20 yards up field and were still reveling in their bad selves as K.C. snapped the ball; Oakland coaches wisely signaled for a timeout to avoid another dumb penalty).

The Silver & Black eventually held on to win.

Somewhat related, the 0-11 Philadelphia 76ers host the Phoenix Suns tonight.

5. Harrumph!-ing the CFB Playoff

Cody Kessler: 29 TDs, 3 INTs. USC is currently a Top 10 team, but 2 last-second losses to Arizona schools will keep them far from the playoff.

First, and this is VERY important: as Rece Davis has said, “There’s a lot of losing left.”

Second, let’s all remember how much kvetching we’re doing about who should be in the final four and who shouldn’t when it’s absolutely meaniningless because, referring back to No. 1 somewhat, the landscape will be entirely different in three weeks. Even if everyone from Nos. 1-7 don’t lose, their –I sorta hate this word, but it works–resumes will look different.

It’s a little like declaring the winner of a mile race after three laps.

Third, much as I love Jason McIntyre, it isn’t “doomdsay” if Mississippi State fails to make the playoff. Why would it be? Because the Bulldogs’ sole loss would’ve been at Alabama? Granted, that’s a solid resume, but if nothing changed, the Horned Frogs’ sole loss would be by a field goal, after not one but two sketchy PI calls (one was a non-call), on the road against the nation’s No. 1 Scoring Offense. So while you can make a great case for MSU, you can also make a great case for TCU (not to mention Ohio State and Baylor). It’s not a “doomsday” situation.

The only Doomsday situations would be if undefeated Florida State failed to crack the top four or if Mississippi State had won at Bama and failed to crack the Top 4.

Me, I’m always amused when people are irate when I type, “All Mississippi State had to do was win at Alabama.” And they’re like, well, that’s not easy. And I’m like, Well, you want to be able to designate a team as the nation’s best but you’re offended when I suggest that it might be opportune of them to actually prove they’re the best?”

I’ll say it again: you can make a great case for Oregon or Mississippi State or Baylor or any one-loss team. The common thread is that people lobbying for those schools will use the stats/metrics that portray their schools in the best light. And then they’ll argue that those stats have more value.

But they’re arbitrary. Florida State, if it wins out, is a lock. Everyone else, even Alabama, is contingent upon how the SelCom feels about them to a degree.

Finally, teams like people are not static: they evolve or devolve over a season. And not just because of changes in personnel. We don’t “find out who they were” in the final week because they truly may have been a different, better or worse, squad, in September. USC was definitely a worse team in September, for example; Texas A&M was definitely a better team then.

That doesn’t mean that a team’s overall record should not be held against it (e.g., USC is actuall 7-3). What it does mean, at least to me, is that I rate how good a Win was at the time it happened, because in college football how good a team believes it is at the time it plays goes a long way in determining how well that team plays that day. Passion and confidence definitely play a role in how good a team is.

Okay. I’m out…

Remote Patrol

No. 19 USC at No. 9 UCLA

ABC 8 p.m. (Saturday)

Myles Jack has had a relatively quiet sophomore season…

This game is always one of college football’s sexiest, and tomorrow night offers the drop back of my (and Stewart Mandel’s) favorite place to take in a college football game, which is to say a football game: the Rose Bowl. The Bruins have won two in a row, but the Trojans are surging with DT Leonard Williams, super WR Nelson Agholor and running back Buck Allen. Oh, and Josh Shaw may drop in…

Also, Chris and Herbie are doing GameDay from Cambridge, Mass., so that would be some transcontinental hustling if they get out to Pasadena to call this one: it’s physically possible, just not very pragmatic.

Winner remains alive for Pac-12 South crown and chance to dance versus Oregon a Levi’s Stadium, which is located not far from the 101 (though that section of highway should be redubbed the “501”).

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

STARTING FIVE

Horowitz with the co-hosts of the show he co-created…

1. At Horowitz End

What really happened between Jamie Horowitz and the Today show that allowed them to fire him just 10 weeks into his gig, while he was still in the “listening tour” phase of his stewardship of NBC’s morning show (he was technically due to start on Dec. 1)?

I don’t know for sure, but I’ve come across Jamie in various ways over the years –he was offered a reporter position at SI when I was there and turned it down to become an Olympics researcher for NBC Sports (a more interesting gig).

Allow me to don my Rona Barrett Wig for a moment and remind all of this small item of trivia. Jamie and Kevin Wildes, both in their late thirties, teamed up to create and foist such shows as SportsNation and First Take upon us (on a more enlightened planet, they’d be imprisoned, as opposed to promoted, for this). They also were the executive producers behind the launch of Olbermann. They are, as this story suggests, close friends.

Kevin Wildes is married to Libby Geist…whose brother is Bill Geist…who is an anchor-in-waiting on Today.

And now you know –doffs Rona Barrett wig, dons Paul Harvey wig–the rest of the story.

I like Jamie well enough –he’ll never win a Modesty Contest (but then, either would I)–but he’s smart and has obviously done well. I point out the familial connection just as a way of noting that he didn’t walk into Today blind. I imagine he knew the layout and wanted to make some changes. Page Six suggests he wanted to replace Savannah Guthrie with Hoda Kotb which, on the face of that alone, if it’s true, is grounds for termination.

Another report, however, suggests that both Natalie Morales and Willie Geist had been told they were fired -assumedly, a Horowitz-baked idea. If so…AWKWARD. Especially since before Today, Horowitz last worked with Wildes on Olbermann.

According to The Big Lead and others, Lauer heard about personnel changes Horowitz wanted to make and then went over his head to Turness. As a former producer of Heads Up Poker, Horowitz must realize that Lauer re-raised him and went all in. And won.

No one is paying the author of this site (Wildes, when interviewing me for a job, referred to MH as “a wonderful resume”) seven figures to fix Today, but to me it’s fairly simple. Stop trying to be like the sophomoric clowns at Good Morning, America, and remember what got you there. Matt Lauer may be cranky, but he’s the best in the business. Surround him with fewer sycophants and let him do his magic until he hangs up his blazer. Keep Al, because Matt and Al work well off each other. Find a female –if one is not already there–who can hang with them (I’ve been telling you for years, Peacock: It’s Paula Faris) and then just get out of the way (or beg Katie Couric to return).

CBS This Morning has figured out a winning formula by going in the extremely opposite direction of GMA. Although PLEASE, CBS, stop insulting the audience who are smart enough to tune into you by referring to your news as “Real” news. We get it. That’s why we’re there. The Calculus prof doesn’t refer to calculus as “real math with numbers AND letters.”

Meanwhile, whither Josh Elliott (an old comrade from SI)? He’s just too damn handsome and smart to be getting back-up reps in practice, but you can bet that Messrs. Costas and Lauer are less than thrilled by his presence and neither are quite ready to retire to the 19th hole. Josh, like Jamie, is an ESPN alum and I imagine there are a few at 30 Rock that wonder if he’s the right person for the job, especially if an actual cataclysmic news story takes place.

If it’s not too late, NBC, you should not free Willy,

The funny thing to me is that, looking to the future, NBC has had its guy for some time now: Horowitz’s friend’s brother-in-law, Willie Geist. He’s likable, intelligent and doesn’t look as if he cares too much what his Q Rating is. If I were Deborah Turness, the woman who sacked Horowitz, I’d stop worrying about the ratings so much and start worrying more about producing an authentic show that she can be proud of. She’s doing it all backwards.

Or I’d just ask myself, What would Jack Donaghy do?

p.s. Curiously, there’s nothing in Deadspin about Horowitz’s firing. Here’s a dirty little secret about Deadspin: it plays favorites. If you look closely, you’ll see stories they otherwise would naturally pursue but have chosen not to. I don’t know if that’s what happened here, but I’m sure Horowitz’s firing is far less newsworthy than a golden retriever’s agility test. 

2. Love at First Bite

Oh, Don Lemon. No, you di’unt!

 

Remote Patrol

North Carolina at Duke

ESPN 7:30 p.m.

The Birds, or as it was originally known, “That’s So Raven”

I’m on record as saying that ACC football north of the town of Clemson, S.C., officially bores me. However, you’ll want to (maybe) watch this to see if the Tar Heels can upset the Blue Devils, which would open the door for Georgia Tech to face Florida State in the ACC title game, which would be a far better game. Or, you could just tune in to TCM and watch Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING

STARTING FIVE

Biblical…

1. Snowvember

Buffalo Billizard? The lake effect snow coming off Lake Ontario (checks map of Great Lakes…chuckles once again at “Huron”...) dropped as much as SIX feet of snow on some parts of Buffalo on Tuesday, which can only mean that God does not want to watch the Jets at Bills on Sunday.

2. Wonder Woman

Ace attorney and ketchup (and Pop Tart) enthusiast…

Tougher than the rest (again)

Amelia Boone won the World’s Toughest Mudder outside Las Vegas this weekend, which translates to how far one is able to transport themselves over and through and in between and under obstacles over a 24-hour period. Boone, a GFOB, has now won the WTM twice.

Only five or so weeks ago the Chicago-based barrister was undergoing arthroscopic surgery for a problem meniscus, and only three weeks ago she tweeted that she was having a fun Friday night “aqua jogging” as the extent of her exercise. And then she wins the WTM again. A collective Wayne-and-Garth “We’re not worthy!” in salute to yet another boon for Amelia.

3. Dan Jenkins’ (FAKE) Obituary

i.e. “A Poor Lie”

The beloved golf scribe will be interred in Amen Corner…

Former Sports Illustrated senior writer Dan Jenkins, one of the most gifted writers that the magazine’s pages ever showcased (perhaps THE most gifted) has passed at the age of 84. Jenkins, who had attended 45 consecutive British Opens before illness caused him to miss last July’s, was eighty-FOOOOORE! He will be missed by most everyone…with a possible notable exception.

4. Minute By Minute

Lili Von Shtupp dedicates her signature tune (“I”m Tired”) to the Cavs’ big 3

So, LeBron has a point. Three of the NBA’s Top 5 leaders in Minutes Played are The King (39.1), Kyrie Irving (38.4) and Kevin Love (37.0). You can imagine LeBron wanting to shake David Blatt and scream, “You’re not in Tel Aviv any more!”

5. Love Me Nots…

…invade NYC!

Our favorite courtroom judge-in-real-life/Rocker grrrrl!-by-night, Nicole Laurenne, and her band, Love Me Nots, are invading the East Coast this week (they’re from Phoenix; picked a great week to experience a different climate). We braved 25-degree weather and the L train to Williamsburg to catch them at the Grand Victory last night.

If you are in Long Branch tonight, Philly Thursday night, or New York City Friday night (or Dover, N.H., on Saturday night), I highly recommend seeing ‘em. They’re kind of like Pretenders-meet-The White Stripes with a smattering of early B-52’s and a pinch of Grace Slick.

Here they are performing “End of the Line.”

Oh, and if you happened to be in the ultra-swanky UES Carlyle Hotel on Monday night and wondered who was that girl who hijacked the piano, it was Nicole.

p.s. And a Happy Birthday to the band’s kickass lead guitarist (and Nicole’s husband) Michael Johnny Walker.

Remote Patrol

Spurs at Cavs

ESPN 7 p.m.

James (not pictured here) is 2nd in the NBA in scoring at 27.1 ppg

Our Susie B. Special, as the aformentioned small “b” big three take on the Championship Three of Duncan, Ginobili and Parker. The defending NBA champs have only been the third-best team in Texas thus far, but they’re still ahead of Los Cavs at the moment. I’m just waiting to see which/how many Hall of Famers Pop chooses not to play tonight.

 

IT’S ALL HARPOONING!

STARTING FIVE

“Orrange who?” “Orrange you glad I buried this trey?”

1. Amber Orrange Alert

Amber Orrange, Cardinal. That’s a colorful name, no? Last night the Stanford senior found herself ridiculously wide open with less than two seconds remaining in regulation and Stanford down three. Her teammate, double-teamed, found her, and Orrange buried the trey to force overtime.

Stanford had trailed by 10 late in the second half. In OT the Cardinal trailed by 5 but recovered to win, 88-86. Too many defensive lapses by the Huskies, who just never could put the Cardinal away, though they had plenty of chances.

So what? So, Stanford ends UConn’s 47-game winning streak. A few years back on this same Maples Pavilion court, the Cardinal ended the Huskies’ record 90-game win streak. Tree-mendous.

2. Buckle Up…for Shark Jumping

Greg Louganis never stuck a landing as well as this van will…

Listen, I’m willing to believe that brain-eating zombies have infiltrated Georgia (and I’m not even talking about the show) or that Carol and Daryl never worked at an inn in Vermont run by Bob Newhart, but when you put those two characters in full Thelma & Louise mode in a van that is precipitously hanging over an overpass, and then send them over with nary a scrape, well, can I please return to Arthur Fonzarelli on water skis?

We’re asked to believe that a white van does a perfect 360 front flip and that the two characters–strong as they may be–walk away only with scratches? C’mon. In fact, as this terrific story illustrates–with actual video evidence– the van landed upside down, which would have made C&D zombie gorp.

On the other hand, Walking Dead has now beaten Al Michaels (Seated Dead) and Cris Collinsworth three weeks in a row now in the 18-49 age group. So maybe next week we’ll have a Butch & Sundance-style leap off a cliff…

3. The Return of the Holderness Family

This video left little margarine for error

We like the Holderness family of North Carolina. Handsome dad Penn, beautiful mom Kim, matching daughter and son. They’re like the family Mad Men pitches were built around. Anyway, last year they went viral with “Christmas Jammies,” so why are any of us surprised that they’ve returned for a Thanksgiving song that parodies the biggest pop hit (sorry, Taylor) of the past two months?

And how could we leave you without adding “Baby Got Class?”

4. Fuh Grizzle

Courtney Lee’s alley oop with 0.04 left is being disputed.

It’s not that bizarre to see a basketball team based in Memphis open the season 10-1. It’s just odd to see one do so that is not coached by John Calipari or Josh Pastner. The Grizzlies moved to a league-best 10-1 by trouncing one of the other top teams in this nascent season, Houston, 119-93. This is what happens when you keep a solid nucleus (Marc Gasol, Z-Bo and Mike Conley) around for a few years and none of them are named Carmelo.

Of course, Memphis could wind up going back to 9-2 if Sacramento’s appeal of their win last week is upheld. But if I’m Sacramento, I squandered a 27-point lead. It should never even have come to that.

In last night’s win, seven Grizzlies scored in double figures but none had 20. As a coach, I want that every night. Much healthier or a team than Kobe’ing.

5. Roger Goodell’s Double Jeopardy

Granny will not be playing for the remainder of the season, either

So Roger Goodell suspends former NFL MVP Adrian Peterson for the remainder of the season without pay (Do you hear that, Peter King? WithOUT pay) telling him that he has shown “no remorse” for the switch-beating of his son.

I’m no huge fan of RG (RG IV?), but here’s why in a Twitterverse he cannot win. If he does exactly what he did, the tweeps accuse him of a double standard as it reverts back to Ray Rice. But if Goodell does anything less, then the tweeps remind all how comically inept and insensitive the NFL is on domestic violence.

Remote Patrol

Casablanca

TCM 8 p.m.

Our favorite college football coach? Larry Fedora

Some classic films are like eating vegetables (Citizen Kane, anyone?). But not Casablanca. The gang at Rick’s Cafe are as entertaining, witty and sardonic as any you’ll find. The dialogue is fantastic, the plot is tense and tight, and the characters unforgettable. With the exception of one flashback, the entire story takes place over the course of two (or is it one?) nights. This is pure ultimate nachos. And when you remember that this film was released at the advent of World War II, it’s even more bold. Great love story, great thriller. You must remember this…

IT’S ALL HAPPENSTANCE!

STARTING FIVE

1. Horrible Losses, 2

Not sure the last time Notre Dame was a 17-point home favorite and lost…

Within a span of eight days the Irish trailed by 31 and wound up surrendering 55, the most points allowed since the Miami debacle in 1985, and then projectile-vomited away an 11-point (should’ve been 12-point) fourth-quarter lead at home to a 3-6 Northwestern team. I’m not sure if the Irish miss Joe Schmidt’s play more than they miss Joe Schmidt’s brain, but they sure as heck miss Joe Schmidt.

(Forgive my saltiness, people; just emerged from a 90-minute subway ride that ordinarily takes 20 minutes; I’m in homicidal mode at the moment).

Since 2007 the Fighting Irish are 16-15 in games in November and 1-4 in overtime games, all of which took place in South Bend. They’d be 0-5 in those OT contests if refers had spotted both Bennett Jackson and Chris Brown wearing the identical number, 2, during Pitt’s field goal attempt in 2012.

What can Brown do for you?

The horrible losses include but are not limited to…the first loss to Navy in 43 years (though the Middies did have the better team), a 2008 quadruple OT loss to a 5-2 Pitt team in which the Irish allowed the tying TD with 2:22 left…a 2008 loss to a 2-8 Syracuse team in which the Irish blew a 10-point fourth-quarter lead…and a 2009 OT loss to a 4-5 UConn team in which the Irish allowed the tying field goal with 1:10 to play.

To be fair to Brian Kelly, the above were all Charlie Weis losses. In Kelly’s tenure the Irish were 13-4 in November before Saturday, with all four losses coming on the road and two of them to solid Stanford teams. Only last year’s loss at Pitt was somewhat grating, and that was the game in which Stephon Tuitt was ejected early.

Saturday’s loss to the Wildcats, in which the Irish committed four turnovers, two of them within 7 yards of the goal line…in which they basically gave away a four-point swing on extra points…on which Matthias Farley made a great INT in the end zone that most DBs would’ve turned into a pick-six, but in which the Irish came out of with no points, in which Notre Dame let a 3-6 team Lazarus itself out of an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit, was haunted by the Ghost of Charlie.

The most inexplicable defeat of the Brian Kelly era, and also the most unforgivable.

Meanwhile, is it too soon to get started on those “An Oral History of Northwestern’s 2014 Win at Notre Dame” pieces?

2. Melvin and Todd

Bo Pelinin was the only Husker able to stop Melvin on Saturday.

Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon rushes for an FBS-record 408 yards in just three quarters against a Nebraska team that entered the game having allowed just two 100-yard rushing games (111 to Michigan State’s Jeremy Langford and 128 to Northwestern’s Justin Jackson) this season. I like that Gordon had the time to set a new record, versus a legit D, and still partake in “Jump Around.” He is now a legitimate contender, if not frontrunner, for the Heisman…

…meanwhile in Athens, erstwhile Heisman/Grange favorite Todd Gurley tears his ACL in his first game back since his signature suspension. The Dawgs crushed the Fighting Malzahns, but tough moment for the Gurley Man, whose college career is likely over. Coming not even a week after Marcus Lattimore retired at age 23, it makes us all wonder yet again how come the NFL blocks players –particularly running backs–from entering the league earlier.

You know MH loves the Gurley Man. Hate to see this…

Finally, I think the only way to beat Florida State is to either 1) let them get an early lead or 2) mind-control them into believing the second half is the first. The Seminoles rebounded from a 16-0 deficit at Miami to win. They’ve trailed on the road in ACC games this season by 16 (Canes), 17 (NC State) and 21 (Louisville) in the first half, and of course have won all three. They’re the really smart kid who starts studying on the morning of the test and still does better than you do (except they also commit felonies while doing so). We hate that kid.

Also, yes, Duke, you beat Georgia Tech, but the entire world outside of Durham and Tallahassee wants to see Paul Johnson’s team take on the Noles for the ACC title. So, please, Duke, lose one of your remaining two games.

The Medium Happy 8: Florida State, Alabama, Oregon, Miss. St., Ohio State, TCU, Baylor, Ole Miss.

3. NEAL RUN

Bigfoot, maybe; Equatorial Kundu, definitely not.

Last night’s The Newsroom was an Ethics lesson, as Maggie chose to do right, Neal chose to do what he believed was right (What is the greater good?), Reese argued that it’s okay to be a douchebag if you’re on the side of the angels, and Don and Sloan outright lied to one another (who knew they’d have such terrific chemistry?).

There was some A-plus banter between Will, Neal and Rebecca, and the “Get me a Dr. Pepper, please,” line, though you saw it coming, was worth a chuckle. I wanted Will to go into a rant and yell, “You don’t tell me what to do, Sampat, my movie opened No. 1 at the box office this weekend!”

Also, I love that Kat Dennings goes from 2 Broke Girls to 2 Annoying, Bratty, Billionaire Twins.

4. The Jonas Brother

New New England running back Jonas Gray goes for 199 yards and 4 TDs as the Pats take out the Colts. I’m still trying to get my head around Jonas and Sergio Brown getting multiple mentions by Al Michaels on a prime-time NFL game…am told that the last time an NFL RB went from no career rushing TDs to four in one game was in 1921 when Herb Henderson of the Evansville Crimson Giants did so (and you too are now searching for their throwback jersey).

Also, as Scott Van Pelt tweeted, it was fun to watch Rob Gronkowski go “full meathead.”

5. “I Can’t Believe the News Today…”

U2 lead singer Bono falls off his bicycle (he needed one more than a fish does?) in Central Park, where the streets do have names (West Drive and East Drive), and had to undergo arm surgery. So one way or another (wait, wrong band) it was a Sunday, Bloody Sunday and he’ll just have to walk on. This probably happened in the southern section of the park, since I imagine the Angel of Harlem would’ve protected him above 96th Street.

Reserves

A 51 year-old Canadian male, Lawrence Warriner, won the Brooklyn Marathon yesterday. Warriner ran a 2:43.

****

Ava Gardner: Never got a Maxim cover.

I caught Showboat on TCM last night. It was one of the first great musicals, Ava Gardner is one of the most beautiful women ever to appear onscreen (she married Sinatra the year this film was made, 1951; also, see if you notice any resemblance to Jessica Biel), and you really cannot top “Ol’ Man River.” , sung here by William Warfield. The reprise, at film’s end, is more accessible.

Artie Shaw: Yes, that’s a clarinet in his hands and he is happy to see Ava and Lana

By the way, Gardner had previously been married to both Mickey Rooney and Artie Shaw. The latter was a bandleader who also married Lana Turner. You marry Ava Gardner and Lana Turner, you’ve got to have some incredible game.

Remote Patrol

No. 1 UConn at No. 6 Stanford

ESPN2 9 p.m.

I’d put the 6-8 Lutz in the post. She knows blocks.

Breanna Stewart is the best women’s player in college hoops, the closest thing to Diana Taurasi since D left Storrs. The Cardinal counters with senior guard Amber Orrange, who was also secretly dropped over North Vietnam in the late Sixties. I wonder why Tara Van Der Veer has yet to convince 6-8 Cardinal volleyball player Merete Lutz to join her squad.

IT’S ALL HAPPINESS!

STARTING FIVE

Today’s edition is being typed on an air-gapped computer for your protection.

1. A Humble and Polite Request to QUIT YOUR BITCHING!

For years a good number of people who follow and claim to be obsessed with college football spent half of every autumn bitching about the BCS while throwing out irrelevant arguments such as the corruption of bowl committees (as if they ever had a thing to do with choosing the two teams that played for the national championship). Anyway, your author was of the idea that he did not want to see any new wrinkle that would compromise the college season from Labor Day through Thanksgiving and that he feared a four-team playoff was the equivalent to unbuttoning the top button on the blouse (or jeans) that would lead us to an 8- or (heavens!) 16-team playoff.

Well, guess what? We have a four-team playoff this year and I’m man enough to admit that I love it. And while I hope it remains at four, I think the significant lesson we can all learn in this Twitterverse, Hashtag, FOX News world is that it’s okay to concede that you have changed your mind, and that it does not mean all of your views are worthless or that you’re dumb enough to DVR Parenthood or anything like that.

I like the four-team playoff because, contrary to what I first worried about, it appears to enhance Sept-Nov. (what simpletons would refer to as “the regular season”) and it does nothing to douse the fuel of hypothetical cross-cultural arguments about who is better than whom when there is no actual empirical way to answer that. There is even more chaos now with very, very, very little lost in terms of how elite a team must be to contend for the championship.

I like it. There.

Of course, you cannot please everyone. So now Mike Mayock wants to see 16 teams. And there are others who want to see conference champions win automatic berths –because some people will never be happy until college football is every bit as boring and sterile as the NFL. No, people! What makes this fun is knowing that if you live in Tuscaloosa, you are competing against the people in Eugene or Norman. Even if you don’t play them.

Now, like I said, some people are never satisfied. You give then Notre Dame at Florida State and Arizona at Oregon and Arizona State at USC and Alabama at Ole Miss and TCU at Baylor and TCU at West Virginia and Auburn at Ole Miss and (have I made my point yet?) and they tweet you, “I also want games in December that are worth watching” while someone else tweets you, “I objected to those who thought playoff would solve everything. It doesn’t. It just brings new problems.”

To the first tweet, I am reminded of the Louis C.K. riff  (4:55) about God looking at people who arrive at heaven with great expectations and saying, “That place you just left? Earth? It was pretty damn great. You people are never satisfied and honestly, you’re not worth My effort.” I’m paraphrasing, but that’s the gist of it.

You want December games worth watching? Maybe go put up a Christmas tree. Or go out and get some exercise. Or take a moment to think how lucky you are that THIS is what you are bitching about. I don’t mean to get all Sinead O’Connor on your ass –yes, every argument should be viewed within its own prism, not in the realm of “but look at all the starvation…” — but maybe to get “December games worth watching” we’d be giving up Sept., Oct. and Nov. games worth watching because there would no be as much at stake.

As to the second tweet, “solving everything” will never happen in sports. Nor should it. I’m reminded of the 2011 NFL season, when the 9-7 New York Giants made the playoffs but the 9-7 Tennessee Titans did not (the Giants won the Super Bowl). Or the 2010 NFL season, when the 10-6 Green Bay Packers made the playoffs but the 10-6 Giants did not (the Packers won the Super Bowl).

And yet no one ever seems to have a problem with these obvious flaws in the NFL’s system –not to mention the manner in which UConn men’s hoops has won two national titles in the past four years– because we are a nation of sports fans addicted to the “P” word: playoffs. As long as there’s a playoff, and as long as we include as many teams as logistically possible, people see this as more objective, and to hell with all the games that came before.

Which has never made an ounce of sense to me. So someone’s going to get all bent out of shape because there’s a chance that an 11-1 Baylor team will make the Football Final Four ahead of say, 10-2 Alabama (or 11-1 Mississippi State). But no one gets upset if the 9-7 Titans are omitted from the playoffs because the prevailing sense is, “Well, with that record, they obviously were not good enough to win the Super Bowl,” a belief that might have merit if not for the fact that in that very year another team with an identical record WON THE SUPER BOWL!!!

Okay, I’m at that point now where I’m like Kramer holding up his arm at Jerry and he’s fed up to here…

2. Are You SHAW You Want To Stick With This Story?

So ESPN broadcast a prime-time game between Cal and USC last night, and coincidentally a story penned by Bill Plaschke, who writes for the Los Angeles Times but probably pockets almost as much money annually from ESPN as an Around The Horn bloviator, appears in which USC safety-captain-heroic-tale-fabricator Josh Shaw breaks his silence and explains what really happened.

Oooooo-kay.

Oh, and nothing to see here concerning Mr. Plaschke’s connection to ESPN and the timing of this story. Please move on.

Read and judge the story for yourself. It’s closer to the truth in that there are no drowning nephews involved and there is a girlfriend and a leap from an apartment building. But it does not come across as Mr. Plaschke doing a very good job of being justifiably skeptical of a man who already has demonstrated, vividly, that he is capable of lying to your face.

As Andy Staples of SI tweeted, “The story Josh Shaw says is the real one is just about as bizarre as the fake one.”

3. Welcome Back, Taibbi

Alayne Fleischmann. No, her brother is not a doctor in Alaska. #JokesThatWorkedBetterIn1990

 

I don’t care how it happened and I don’t care why it happened (although I assume it went something like this: Rolling Stone: “How does it feel…to be on your own…a complete unknown…no direction home…like a…” Matt Taibbi: “Rolling Stone?”) I just know that my favorite pissed-off journo, Matt Taibbi, is back writing for Rolling Stone and exposing Wall Street vampire squids. #FridayNightReads

4. Legalized Gambling? You Bet!

You may Gamble, too, Oscar…

Someone besides Cousin Sal (and most sports fans) is espousing the legalization of sports gambling. And that person is NBA commissioner Adam Silver, who argued in favor of it in an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times. Sports gambling is like weed: everyone’s doing it anyway, so why not regulate it and let American businesses reap the profits.

What I would have loved is if Silver had written, “While I am in favor of legalizing wagering on NBA games, I do believe that Sixers games should be taken off the board for the time being.”

5. Ford Focus

So I’m pretty lucky to work with some people who are (a lot) smarter than I am. Now, do they have to seat these people right next to me so that each day is a reaffirmation in abject humiliation?

And yet, I love it when Alex Nazaryan pretends to be amused or intrigued by a thought of mine, as if he isn’t Will Hunting looking at Stellen Skarsgard and asking, “Do you realize how easy this is for me?!?” (Alex, our resident polymath, did one story on Kevin Love last year and it was as good as any sports piece I’ve read all year).

Anyway, here is Alex’s profile of his favorite author not-named-Philip Roth, Richard Ford (who, incidentally, once wrote a classic work of modern American tragic fiction titled The Sportswriter).

Reserves

Newly appointed TPD chief Louis Renault

The Tallahassee Police are at it again. Thanks to the New York Times for being the booth review of every moment of their corruption. As i tweeted, sometimes I wonder if FSU’s players and the TPD are doing all of this just so that their “30 for 30″ will be as good as “The U.”

****

What’s worse: Blowing a 27-point lead to lose the game or losing it like this? Kind of fun to watch the 2-man game Courtney Lee and Marc Gasol played to get Lee open.

Where in the World

Yesterday: Shiprock, New Mexico

Remote Patrol

Five Easy Pieces

TCM 10 p.m.

And make that gluten-free…

I realize I go a little heavy on TCM in this space, but unless there’s a marvelous sports event airing, I’d much rather watch some classic cinema. This 1970 film has Jack Nicholson and the most famous scene in the history of diner-server contretemps.

IT’S ALL ‘WHAT’S HAPPENIN’, ROG?'”

STARTING FIVE

Welcome to the Prairie?

1. The Last Audacious Video

It was the summer of 1992. People were actually listening to Extreme and wondering if that Seinfeld show would ever become funny.

And Guns ‘n Roses ruled the earth, notorious for sometimes not taking the stage –even at stadium shows –til after midnight (presumably after each member had banged four to six supermodels).

But they were ambitious. And talented. And while Axl, Slash, Duff and the gang probably should have trimmed Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II into one classic album (just as Bruce Springsteen should’ve done the same with Lucky Town and Human Touch that same year), there’s no denying that they were sober (or not) just long enough to pen a 1970’s style rock-and-roll epic that would come in at 8:57, long enough for any FM deejay to sneak off for a piss or a toke.

As a song, this is the equivalent to David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia. As a video, it’s just as epic, what with supermodels, spilled/tossed alcohol, a church in the middle of New Mexico, and Stephanie Seymour. It’s in the fine tradition of George Michael’s Freedom ’90 (the greatest video of all time) and I do believe MTV never aired a video again that reached so high as a piece of cinema.

22 Novembers later, Stephanie Seymour graces the cover of this mag and still looks as if she could slay Axl’s muse (which she did)

And because it’s November, and because who wants to hear me prattle on for five grafs about a movie starring Keanu Reeves and a terminally ill Charlize Theron, I thought we’d salute it here. Slash may have “no idea” what the video’s about, but who cares? I don’t know what Stairway to Heaven is about, either.

By the way, I may alienate a few fans here, but November Rain slightly better than Purple Rain and Rain King, although Have You Ever Seen The Rain? may trump them all.

2. It IS Rocket Science

Swoopes, Thompson, Cooper: Do not even TRY landing on us.

Apparently, a space probe named Philae landed on a comet named 67P (in the future, we will all have such names) some 310 million miles from earth. Medium Happy is dispatching its science reporter, Jason Anstey, to 67P for comments. Godspeed, Jason.

Meanwhile, The Cardigans issued a press release to remind all that they were the “First Band on the Moon.”

Landing a space probe on a comet is not easy (nor do I have any idea what purpose it serves). You know what is easy? Buying stock in Apple (AAPL) and Alibaba (BABA) and then just putting your feet up. It’s Julius Thomas-easy. That easy.*

*Apple is up 32% in the past six months while Alibaba, which went public less than two months ago, is up 42% this month. Try getting any hedge fund to promise you even a 10% return on an entire year. 

3. Plus Model? Well, it IS an Add

Delbasio, 27, is a former Miss Teen Wisconsin. People have been saying “cheese” around her all her life. These are the jokes, folks.

The Nontroversy of the Week occurred when Calvin Klein debuted this ad featuring Wisconsin native Myla Delbasio, 27, as a “plus-size” model. Delbasio, a Size 10, is five-foot-eleven (I have no idea if she ever played college sports, but I doubt it).

Obviously, Miss Delbasio (no relation to that other Italian-American Wisconsin native, Laverne DeFazio) fails to fit the standard American ideal of “plus-size,” though relative to CK alum Kate Moss, she is. But while everyone was busy harrumph-harrumph-harrumphing over this, Calvin Klein garnered a lot of free attention. Well played, CK.

Meanwhile, in college football, TCU moved ahead of Alabama in the CFP rankings, which got lots of people harrumphing (Phyllis in Mulga?), but who cares. The Tide host No. 1 Mississippi State on Saturday. If they win, they’re in the Top 4; if not, they’re out. Simmer down now!

4. I Would Drive 500 Miles (And I Would Drive 500 More!)

The Baja 1,000 kicks off today from Ensenada, Mexico. Like most auto races, its title is self-explanatory: drive 1,000 miles through the Mexican Baja peninsula, which someday people will appreciate for the gold mine that it is: Imagine a Pacific coastline the length of California, south of California (i.e., warmer) that is mostly uninhabited. Hey, Andy Dufresne was no dummy (actually, Zihuatanejo is south of the peninsula, but I’m not going to waste a good Shawshank joke).

The Baja 1000 is the surest way to get your ass killed in Mexico that does not involve drug lords.

Anyway, Porge and Jones (sibling and GFOB) will be there today. As will, oddly enough, Bruce Jenner.

5. Eight Men Outstanding

The longest football win streak that we are aware of, pro, college or high school, belongs to tiny Parhanagat Valley High, which is located in Alamo, Nev. (which, let’s face it, sounds fictitious), about 100 miles north of Las Vegas. PVHS, which plays eight-man football due to its school size (below 100 students) has won 79 in a row following last Friday night’s 60-0 win over Sandy Valley (Nev.) The Panthers host Carlin High in a state playoff game tomorrow nigh as they shoot for 80 in a row.

 Where in the World?

Our semi-popular series returns! I don’t know where I left off the last time, but if you can find the date, I’ll tell you the name of the place…

Remote Patrol

The Philadelphia Story

TCM 11 p.m.

This film is an all-timer. At worst, DVR it tonight.

“Ah, South Bend…it sounds like spring time.” That’s Kate Hepburn as a divorced society dame fending off the matrimonial advances of Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant (who is younger here, and not quite as irresistible as he’d be in later films such as North By Northwest and An Affair To Remember). It’s a film that reminds some of us of our on-line dating experiences.