IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

Starting Five

“What do I have to do to make the cover of SI? Who’s running that rag, Sally Bell?”

1. Leviathan

It’s a measure of just how dominant Connecticut under Geno Auriemma has become that last night, with the Huskies trailing by one point to Dayton at halftime of their Elite Eight game, the world turned upside down (for those few of us on Twitter who care about women’s college hoops).

Naturally, the Huskies cruised to a 21-point win to return to the Final Four for an eighth consecutive year. And still, Geno has never made the cover of a regular issue of Sports Illustrated. If only the managing editor were from Connecticut (what?). If only Rebecca Lobo knew someone of influence there. The truth: If only women’s basketball were relevant outside of a few patches of America.

Still, Geno is quite the captivating figure (and I’ve got the self-published book sales totals to prove it). Fourteen years ago, after a typically entertaining Geno post-game presser, a wonderful local beat writer named Carl Adamec pointed at Geno and said to me, “When he leaves, I’m leaving. ”

They’re both still there. It’s been a fabulous run in Storrs.

 2. A Chimp with a Machine Gun

Et tu, Chuck?

An excellent penultimate episode of the season for Better Call Saul, in which Jimmy McGill has his “Fredo, I know it was you” moment with big brother Chuck. As much as we wanted to vilify Howard Hamlin, he was just covering for Chuck. And as much as Jimmy accused Kim of betraying him, she was just trying to spare him the agony of discovering that his own brother had betrayed him.

“You’re not a REAL lawyer!” Chuck barks at the proud alumnus of the American College of Samoa (“Go, Landcrabs!”) in his own defense, after Jimmy successfully sleuths out Chuck’s insidious actions. “Handing you a license to practice law is like handing a chimpanzee a machine gun.”

Wow.

I was waiting for Jimmy to strike back with the information that the doctor at the hospital had proven that Chuck’s medical condition was psychosomatic, but maybe he’ll hold that card back for another day.

As the season has gone on, we’ve seen that Jimmy is even more motivated to win his big brother’s approval than he is to garner Kim’s. And now that cord has been severed. The loss of innocence via betrayal is a powerful thing. But so is vindication. The show is headed in a fascinating direction.

As always, Alan Sepinwall’s review is worth reading….

3. Black & Dekker*

Yes, but will either of these two speak to Dennis Dodd on the court?

The Associated Press named its All-American team on Monday: Jahlil Okafor (Duke), Frank Kaminsky (Wisconsin), Jerian Grant (Notre Dame), Willie Cauley-Stein (Kentucky) and D’Angelo Russell (Ohio State). All fine choices, but I’d be willing to say that at least three of them, if not four, have a teammate who will be a more valuable NBA player.

I really like Willie Cauley-Stein, a junior seven-footer (who can stay step for step with Grant, coast-to-coast), but if I were an NBA GM, I’d rather have freshman seven-footer Karl-Anthony Towns. But I like them both.

Grant? I think his game is a little herky-jerky. In two years Demetrious Jackson will be better. Pat Connaughton is a far better glue guy, even though he’d be without a true position in the NBA.

It’s hard not to love Frank Kaminsky, who may win the Naismith Award. But teammate Sam Dekker is, at six-foot-seven, a terrific outside scoring threat. Will Kaminsky, a seven-footer, be able to thrive in the NBA (yes)? I like them both.

Winslow just turned 19 last week. I didn’t look this mature until I was at least 23.

The easiest call for me is Justise Winslow over Okafor, who may win the Naismith Award and may be the No. 1 overall pick and who air-balled a free throw on Sunday. Is that last indiscretion a reason to drop Okafor so much? Not exactly, but I just love everything about Winslow’s game. He’s LeBron-like in his baseline-to-baseline athleticism; he’s a better three-point shooter than you think; and he seems to play better when the stakes are higher. There’s a touch of Jordan to him –not in overall talent, but in his competitiveness. He just has “it.”

*Oh, c’mon! You’re not really upset by that hed, are you?

4. That Girl

Deep down, she’d rather be endorsing Pop Tarts

We knew her way back when… the inexorable and wholly deserved ascent of Amelia Boone into the national consciousness continues, albeit with a beef jerky ad co-starring Screamin’ A. Smith. There’s practically no one I admire more, with the possible exception of Kim Wexler. :) Anyway, this latest entry from her blog is just another example of how Ms. Boone is not like the rest of us.

5. Noah, You Didn’t

Springboks Car Willie

The Daily Show announced its new host late yesterday as 32 year-old biracial South African comedian Trevor Noah. And then the internet unearthed anti-Semitic and sexist tweets he sent out seven years ago (they’re really more anti p.c. than anything). Commence your harrumphing.

Noah on his father being white Swiss and his mother being black African: “You know how the Swiss love their chocolate.”

Music 101

Bye Bye Love

Curious that Ric Ocasek is remembered as the lead vocalist for The Cars, when my favorite song by the Boston-based band, one of forerunners of New Wave music, was sung by the late Benjamin Orr, who also sang lead on two other signature tracks, Let’s Go and Just What I Needed. He looks 100x more the lead singer than Ocasek ever did, too.

In the Debut Album Hall of Fame, The Cars eponymous 1978 effort is a first-ballot inductee. This tune is one of the reasons why.

Also, it’s difficult to arrive at the end of this song and not hear “Moving In Stereo” following it immediately.

Remote Patrol

Warriors at Clippers

10:30 p.m. TNT

Golden State has the West’s best record and the NBA’s longest win streak (9 games). The Clippers, in any other league or any other state, would be that league’s/state’s hottest team. L.A. has won 7 straight. If I were Kerr, I’d sit Curry out. This is a game in which he could get hurt.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

Starting Five

You’re calling me crazy?!?

1. He Tried to Warn ‘Em

How did I miss this???? Did you, like me, fail to see this coming? I feel soooo stupid.

On the season finale of Walking Dead, it only made sense that Deanna’s kindly, gentle lamb of a husband becomes the martyr that flips the switch in her head to finally accede Rick’s way of justice. For weeks Rick has been telling Deanna that Alexandria needs, to borrow a phrase floating around pop culture currently, to get hard.

But she refuses to go all Texas governor death penalty on her populace. And so of course the most docile person in Alexandria, and the man who BUILT THE WALL that symbolizes their delusional sense of security, is sacrificed when hostile surgeon husband Pete steals Michonne’s sword and takes him out.

It’s like when peacemaker Tony is the one to die in West Side Story….without all the singing.

Also, the Wolves seem like that gang in Warriors that stir up trouble just for the hell of it. Those 18-wheeler zombie raves are going to become a thing, just you watch.

2. Irish Agony (Part II)

Connaughton and Jackson had their shot at immortality, and came within one shot of immortality.

For the second time this academic year, Notre Dame takes the heavily favored, No. 1 team in the nation to the brink, only to lose. There’s no shame in that, but there’s also little solace.

The Irish led 66-64 with two minutes to go and a chance to end Kentucky’s 37-game win streak and spoil the Wildcats’ perfect season. In the end, the Wildcat-iparis did what needed to be done, while Jerian Grant did not pass the ball on any of Notre Dame’s final three possessions. Great kid, great player, but that was a big mistake, especially for an offense that had exactly twice as many assists (16 to 8) as Kentucky on Saturday night.

3. Kerfuffle du Jour: Dodd vs. Rodgers

Dodd (L) stalks Rodgers

Back when I actually used to attend sporting events, I really liked Dennis Dodd. Still do. But I’m not feeling his ire over Aaron Rodgers turning down his interview request after Wisconsin buried Arizona in the Western regional final on Saturday afternoon. It is a request, after all, and as Rodgers tweeted, “Sometimes the answer is ‘no.'” 

But Dennis continued to, um, badger Rodgers. I guess we’ll just have to watch all 11 ESPN chat-debate programs today to discern how we should feel about this.

Seriously, though, if Dodd is asking why Rodgers should be treated any differently, well, first of all 1) Good for Rodgers for not usurping the moment by talking about the Badgers (as many would have interpreted it), and 2) I can ask the same question as to why some national media members seem to get better seats on press row time after time, when all of the media members are there to perform the same function? Everyone is not treated equally. Welcome to America. Sometimes it works for you; sometimes it doesn’t.

Not to worry, my friend. This will all make a solid Discount Double-Check commercial in about four months….

 4. Theater of the Absurd

If you watched WrestleMania last night, that’s cool. I’m not into it, but live and let live. However, I must ask whey ESPN’s SportsCenter covered the event as if it were any other countest. I guess the “E” overtook the “S” in its acronym last night.

As I’ve said for more than a dozen years, the two traits an endeavor must have to be a sport are simple: 1) Athleticism and 2) Defense. Chess is a game, not a sport, because it lacks athleticism. Golf is a competition, not a sport, because it lacks defense. Pro wrestling is not a sport because, as long as the combatants have agreed beforehand at least in part how the match will be staged, defense is once again technically not part of the equation.

The Bella twins: Pride of Chaparral High School?

Fun? Yes. Athletic? Yes. A crowd-pleaser? Ask the full house (77,000) at Levi’s Stadium and the millions more who watched. But a sport? Nope. SportsCenter may as well have done a highlight package on who won and lost on Walking Dead last night (Levy: “And Deanna nearly tells Rick, “Get outta town!”)

5. Tough News

Sager has long added a splash of color to his work

Everyone’s favorite peacock of a sideline reporter, Craig Sager, has been diagnosed with leukemia again. It was about this time last year when Sager, 63, was diagnosed with cancer and missed all of the NBA postseason while undergoing chemotherapy treatment.

Sager, a beloved fixture at TNT for 17 years, had just returned to the sideline at the start of this month, but now must return to the hospital for treatment. We wish him a full recovery. He’s one of the good guys.

Music 101

Every Time You Cry

Say what you will –oh, and you will–but Play Deep, the 1986 album from British band The Outfield had three solid tracks: “Your Love (Josie’s on a Vacation Far Away)”, “Say It Isn’t So,” and this song, an all-timer in terms of flash-your-lighter-and-sway arena power ballads. You have to love a band based in a country that doesn’t play baseball naming themselves and their debut album after baseball vernacular. I can’t believe the first cut wasn’t called “Warning Track.”

The Outfield were based in Manchester. I doubt they hung out much with Joy Division.

Remote Patrol

Roast of Justin Bieber

10 p.m. Comedy Central

Is Biebs the first male you’ve seen with RBF?

From what I’ve read, there’s never been a Comedy Central roast of a person with less “but underneath it all, we love this fella” simpatico than this one. Comedians are just like most of us: they genuinely despise the Biebs. I’m bummed that the Paul Walker jokes were cut –that’s insensitive, but you can make jokes about Bea Arthur’s penis?–but I’ll tune in. Also, there’s a “pre-heat” of the roast at 9:30 p.m.

Broadcast News

10:15 p.m.

What Almost Famous is to print, this 1987 classic is to broadcast journalism. Simply one of the bestest screenplays ever written and the banter between Albert Brooks and Holly Hunter is more real that you’ll hear in just about every film. A genuine classic.

 

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

Starting Five

At 6’10”, Trey Lyles was the fourth-tallest Kentucky player on the court last night. This just in: Goliath was tall.

1. Hello, Kitty!

Kentucky rolls over West Virginia, literally doubling up the Mountaineers, 78-39. And Arizona prevails over Xavier, 68-60.

The lone ‘dog to win last night was Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish played their best game of the tournament, pulling away midway through the second half against Wichita State to win 81-70.

Kentucky has a 37-game win streak. A reminder that the Irish in their history have ended the longest men’s win streak of all time (UCLA, 88 games) as well as San Francisco’s 30-game win streak in 1977.

Like I tweeted last week, I won’t be satisfied until Kentucky edges the Irish late on an illegal pick violation. A great way to circle back to the beginning of the academic year.

2. Parrot Top

It worked. The movie, by the way, earned a 27% rating on Rotten Tomatoes…

The film Get Hard must really blow because Will Ferrell, whom everybody loves with good reason, is lapping the field in terms of gimmicky to promote the film.

Letterman: dressed as a leprechaun.

Fallon: dressed in a Little Debbie costume.

And now, Conan: with a parrot on his shoulder.

3. Would Ye Men Stop Fighting? 

O Man, why are Arabs always at each other’s throats? Perhaps a poor choice of words….

Saudi Arabia invades Yemen, which I remember fondly from the 1990s as a punch line to a Chandler Bing joke. But now, apparently, it’s an actual place. As pundit Olivier Knox tweeted, “Saudi Arabia may lead a ground war coalition in Yemen? So now the Middle East may finally get bogged down in the Middle East?”

4. Bale Out?

Driving an ostentatiously expensive British car around Madrid may be too easy a metaphor, Gareth…

An MH favorite in our earlier years, Gareth Bale’s career has gone south ever since the Welsh soccer star left the cozy confined of the EPL and Tottenham for the grand stage of La Liga (Spain) and Real Madrid. Bale, a striking striker, has scored just twice in Real Madrid’s last 12 games –and so what if he scored in extra time when Real Madrid won the UEFA Champions League final last spring!?!– and now, after Real Madrid lost its latest El Clasico (match versus Barcelona), fans actually attacked Bale’s Bentley as he drove away.

If you remember when Jason Giambi joined the New York Yankees, or when Kevin Love joined the Cleveland Cavaliers, it’s a little bit like that. Is there a La Liga version of Brian Windhorst to enlighten us on all of this? Expect Bale to return to England this summer, most likely to Manchester United. Wayne Rooney will have a partner in fan schadenfreude.

 5. If You’re Not First…

Abbott

The Iditarod ended last week. Dallas Seavey, 27, defended his title, one that he wrested one year ago from his father, Mitch Seavey, who is also a two-time winner. Dallas mushed from Anchorage to Nome, more than 1,000 miles, in less than nine days.

I’m more interested in the woman who finished in last place and won the Red Lantern. Cindy Abbott, 56, was the last of the 66 finishers, taking 13-plus days to complete the route (sure, the pooches do most of the work; we all know that). Abbott lives in Irvine, Calif., and also took up mountain climbing only eight years ago, but she has already summited Mount Everest. This is a lass who takes “climb every mountain” as both a figurative and literal life mantra.

Music 101

Private Idaho

I wrestled with which song off the B-52’s 1980 sophomore album, Wild Planet, to list here. Give Me Back My Man resonates more with me, but that song only has Cindy Wilson’s vocals. This one gives you Fred Schneider and Kate Pierson as well. And it’s as early B-52’s-ish as you get. Rock Lobster is classic, but overexposed. This is just as good. (Don’t let the fact that there are no microphones in front of the two female singers distract you.)

Remote Patrol

Sweet 16 Hoops

7:15 p.m. CBS & TBS

MSU’s 5’11” Travis Trice

UCLA-Gonzaga: Rematch of December game in which Zags bullied Bruins.

N.C. State-Louisville: Rick, are you still here?

Utah-Duke: Justise Winslow returns to his hometown of Houston.

Oklahoma-Michigan State: Tom, are you still here?

 

 

 

 

Remote Patrol

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

Starting Five

1. Horror

In our continuing series, “There’s Nothing More Inhumane than Humanity,” it has been determined that the 28 year-old pilot of the Germanwings aircraft that went down in the French Alps, killing 150 people, acted deliberately.

The cable news programs will blather all day about how to make the cockpit more safe, but the simple fact is this: Where there’s a will, there’s a way. And there was a will here, for reasons we may never learn.

2. Mr. Smith Goes At Washington

Honestly, Mr. Chairman, maybe we should all just vote Republican

ESPN’s eminence of blather, Screamin’ A. Smith, advocates that “for one election, all blacks should vote Republican.” As a member of the 0.1%, Smith certainly would stand to benefit. And while he may have had legitimate reasons for that proposal, he needed at least to be transparent enough to acknowledge that when he said it.

My piece in Newsweek.

3. The Patriot Act

There is nothing illegal about this formation. The Patriot circled may not go out for a pass, but that doesn’t mean he cannot line up there. At least it shouldn’t.

The first step in discussing the “trick play” that the NFL banned yesterday at its owners’ meetings is to acknowledge that it is not a trick play. It is no more of a trick play than a play-action pass.

Look, it’s pretty simple. Or at least it should be. The offense must place at least seven men on the line of scrimmage, although it may place as many as 10 players on it. The two players on either end of the line of scrimmage are eligible receivers. Everyone else who lines up on the line of scrimmage between them is ineligible.

As for the remaining players, anywhere from one to four of them, they each must line up at least one yard behind the line of scrimmage. And they are ALL eligible to go out for a pass.

All that Bill Belichick did, and it is something that my defensive back buddies and I were coached to understand and look out for 30 years ago at Brophy Prep, was line up multiple men along the line of scrimmage but outside of the tackle box. As a defensive back, your job is to ignore a player who lines up along the line of scrimmage between the split end (the term is self-explanatory) and the tackle. That player is a decoy.

It’s just that simple.

But the NFL decided that compelling defensive backs to have to think on their feet right before the snap, well, when a coach is game-planning 100 hours a week for Sunday (or Monday…or Thursday), well, you cannot take the control out of his hands by obliging defensive backs to think quickly, or to disrupt his nickel and dime packages by lining up in an unorthodox formation.

“It’s not something that anybody has done before,” Raven coach John Harbaugh whined back in January (You know, kind of like the forward pass once was). “They’re an illegal type of a thing…”

An illegal type of a thing? What does that even mean? Because we know Harbaugh knew they were not actually illegal.

The NFL is ruled by oligarchs and titans of industry who prefer the status quo. Why should any of us be surprised that when someone found an unorthodox strategy that disrupted that status quo that they would move to squash it. Old, rich white men are the worst.*

*I’ll never be more than two of the three, so you can’t hate me–for that.

4. The 46 Jakes

Comedian Jake Johannsen, who has been appearing on Late Night/Late Show since the late 1980s, made his 46th and final appearance on David Letterman’s stage last night. It was a solid set with typical Johannsen understated observational humor: “I heard about wife swapping. It turns out that all you can get is another wife…I’ve always wanted a boat.”

Wife: “Where are you going?”

Jake: “Where am I going? I’m a 54 year-old man. Where am I going? I’m going to ride a helicopter to a stripper’s house. We’re going to kill a bear and make it into sausages. Wanna come?”

Likely one of his first five appearances….

Watch how gracious Johannsen is at the end of his set, when Letterman speaks to him. He doesn’t mess it up with obsequious verbiage. He just stands there and accepts the compliment. That’s how you do it.

Longtime fan of Johannsen, who comes off as a rakishly handsome, cerebral type. Amiable and erudite. That’s why one of my favorite bits of his, from back in the Eighties, is when he innocently begins with “I broke up with my girlfriend recently, and….F$%&!” (you sorta had to be there).

5. Torah! Torah! Torah!*

*The judges would also have accepted “Downward Dog.”

A Scottsdale, Ariz., bar mitzvah* gets spiced up when a 32 year-old yoga teacher who recently had a breast augmentation flashes her surgical work to the attendees, then lets a few of the teenage boys grope her. After that, allegedly, she carried on the oral tradition with a 15 year-old.

So now if your child tells you he wants a Hummer for his bar mitzvah, he’s not talking about a car.

*This happened just a couple of miles from where I currently reside. I never get invited to religious celebrations.

Music 101

Temptation

As I’ve said before and I’m sure will say again, people of my age were absolutely bombarded with classic tune after classic tune in our youths. We were spoiled and had no idea that the banquet wouldn’t last. Or is it just that music impacts young people more? Maybe a little bit of both.

Here’s New Order from their perfect New Wave album from 1987, Substance. And here’s a raw performance of the same song from six years earlier. I attended high school in Phoenix and college in Indiana and because of bands like New Order, I had no shortage of classmates who behaved and dressed as if they lived in London’s West End. We called them “Mods.”

Remote Patrol

Sweet 16

7 p.m. CBS; 7:30 p.m. TBS

Tonight’s March Madness menu: Auguste and Everything After

In the early games, Wichita State meets Notre Dame. Shocker coach Gregg Marshall coached Winthrop when they, um, shocked the Irish in the NCAA tourney eight years ago. Then you’ve got Bo versus Roy, Wisconsin versus North Carolina. The nightcaps feature Kentucky versus West Virginia –Huggy Bear is 8-2 versus John Calipari. And then there’s Arizona versus Xavier. If you’re not enthused enough yet, here’s Club Trillion on the next 48 hours’ games….

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

Starting Five

Yep, he made the right choice.

1. Kerr-fuffle

With their 122-108 win at Portland, the Golden State Warriors move to 58-13 –the NBA’s best record–and wrap up their first Pacific Division title since 1976. How long ago was the spring of 1976?

Rocky had yet to be released.

–Saturday Night Live was finishing up its inaugural season.

–The No. 1 song on the charts was December 1963 (Oh, What a Night) by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.

–Only one year had passed since the Warriors’ last NBA title.

–Only three years had passed since the Knicks’ last NBA title.

–Only 1,943 years had passed since the crucifixion of Jesus –there’s still even money on whether Jesus will return before the Knicks do.

2. The James Gang

It was refreshing to see a late-night TV host make his debut and just be earnest and gracious. Whatever future James Corden has at The Late, Late Show, no one can accuse him of acting too cool for school.

3. Saul Together Now*

Two-plying his trade…

You have to hand it to Better Call Saul: the show is so good that it can tackle nursing home fraud, RICO, babysitting, paper shredding (I felt like I was watching Argo again) and WestLaw pass codes all in one episode and that episode is still damn well worth watching.

Two scenes here were emblematic of our hero: receiving a phone call from opposing counsel while dumpster diving for evidence, and writing a letter of demand using toilet paper while seated on a toilet. Perfect.

*Yes, I will pun this title until long after you’ve grown tired of me doing so.

 

4. Oops, They Did It Again

“Let’s Do Some Damage” is also the mantra of Congress

Should there be term limits on Sports Illustrated spring baseball cover subjects? For the second year in a row Bryce Harper graces the cover of SI before Opening Day. Our friends over at The Big Lead noticed that this year Harper, the Kate Upton of the MLB Preview issue, looks particularly “jacked.”

To be fair, this should be the season that the Nats win a series in October.

5. If This Shell’s a Rockin…

Has this happened to you before? You’re on a deserted island with your girl, the mood is right, and then a British TV presenter barges in. Tortoise Interruptus.

Music 101

I’m Gonna Make You Love Me

Originally released as a single in 1966 and performed by Dee Dee Warwick, it rose to No. 2 three years later when released as a joint single by Diana Ross & the Supremes AND The Temptations. Here’s Ross, the original Beyonce, performing it with Stevie Wonder in 1969. Think they’re fond of one another?

Remote Patrol

Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown: Sicily

9 p.m. CNN

After filming this scene, Bourdain asked the owner of this trattoria for his daughter’s hand in marriage.

Does anyone have a better job than Bourdain? Travel all over the world, sample the most interesting cuisine, and you don’t even have to perform a Bar Rescue (or a Bar Refaeli Rescue, although who’d mind that?). Tonight he travels to Sicily, the little ball that Italy’s boot kicks. This episode, originally airing in 2013, went hilariously badly. It’s like a comedy film about a show such as this going off the rails.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

Starting Five

1. Nash-Ville

Didn’t get around to this yesterday, but as a relatively short white kid who preferred passing to scoring and loves basketball, I’m almost obligated to worship Steve Nash. And I do. The only two-time NBA MVP who stood shorter than six-foot-six (not to mention shorter than his listed six-foot-three) announced his retirement on The Players’ Tribune on Saturday.

As you probably know, Nash put together four 50-40-90 seasons, meaning he shot at least 50% from the field, 40% from beyond the arc and 90% from the free throw line in one season. In the history of the NBA (obviously, since the three-point shot came into existence), that has only been done 10 times: Nash’s four times, twice by Larry Bird, and once by Mark Price, Reggie Miller, Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Durant.

Not pegged as future NBA MVP material back in college…

I heard a local radio guy in Phoenix ask Grant Hill yesterday if Steve Nash is the greatest shooter of all time, which ENTIRELY misses the point. Nash was one of the smartest shooters of all time, usually only taking the shots that were there for him. He was also extremely creative as a shooter when he got closer to the hoop, i.e., beneath the redwoods.

Finally, the irony of it all is that he was a FAR BETTER passer than he was a shooter. The ultimate teammate. Derek Jeter and Steve Nash are both gone (with Nash announcing his retirement on Jeter’s site). Oh, well. Maybe it’s time to start following opera.

2. Ohhhhh…THAT Cruise

So, not running for president? (but I’d vote for him)

Sure, I was a tad nonplussed when I got word over the weekend that Tom Cruise announced he was running for president. I mean, with that sterling military record from both Top Gun and A Few Good Men, he’s going to resonate with the GOP. So imagine my disappointment surprise when I learned that it was not Tom, but Ted…Cruz.

Just between us, doesn’t Ted look a little bit too much like a scary clown who just took off his makeup to run for president? Jon Stewart had some insights on Cruz’s first episode of hypocrisy, the idea that students at, of all places, an institution named LIBERTY UNIVERSITY, being required to attend his announcement that he was running for president.

Ted Cruz has absolutely zero chance of winning the GOP nomination and it has nothing to do with his policies or politics: at his base, he’s not a very likable person. At least Mitt Romney had that.

3. Sharper’s Image

Handsome, wealthy, famous and….psychopathic

While the NFL owners meetings began in Phoenix yesterday, former All-Pro safety Darren Sharper signed a nine-year with the U.S. Federal Dept. of Corrections. Terms of the contract are guaranteed: Sharper, who appeared by video in a Phoenix courtroom, pleaded no contest to two counts of drugging and raping women, will serve a nine-year prison sentence and wear an orange jumpsuit.

Sharper is alleged to have committed similar crimes in California, Louisiana and Nevada. No word yet on what number has been assigned to him.

4. Disturbia

“Oh, I’m the asshole?” Well, as a matter of fact…

I often wonder if The Walking Dead is attempting to examine themes on a deeper level, or if it’s just a series of lulls between zombie attacks. If they are doing the former, sometimes they do it so subtly that I wonder if the audience even appreciates it.

The entire suburban utopia concept of Alexandria finally came to a head on Sunday as Rick lost his s$%# in what was really a situation straight out of Desperate Housewives (which reminds me: What’s Teri Hatcher doing these days?).

Well, since you asked, Hatcher competed in the Nautica Malibu Triathlon last September, just months before turning 50. They’re real and they’re spectacular.

Here’s what I’ve enjoyed about the Alexandria story arc: the concept that when you finally have all your ducks in a row –safety, a roof over your head and adequate supplies of baking chocolate and guns–that you come to realize that you now face the greatest enemy of all: Boredom.

But, hey, isn’t that what professional (and Division I) sports are for?

The joy, my friends, is in the struggle…not in the having it all. Sheriff Rick Grimes is behaving as if he is saving a damsel in distress, and on one level he kind of is –though we’ve never actually seen the domestic violence. But really, all that’s happening here is that Rick, no longer expending his energy on hunt-or-be-hunted, puts his feet up and realizes he’s not getting any nookie. And now he’s found a nookie-delivery system. And so he rationalizes all this heroic behavior when really he’s just trying to eliminate the only impediment in his path.

And, as Detective Rust Cohle once said, “I’m police. I can do terrible things with impunity.”

5. Spring…Has Not Sprung

This was Chicago…yesterday. Four days after the vernal equinox. That is just mean, Mother Nature.

Music 101

Magnet and Steel

1978

Inspired by his crush on Stevie Nicks, who was helping him write and record his album, southern California musician Walter Egan penned this tune. A Georgetown alum, Egan  spotted the words “Not Shy” on a license plate while driving home from Van Nuys to Pomona after working with Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. Nicks would later add backing vocals. This tune, along with songs from Grease and Joe Walsh’s Life’s Been Good owned the airwaves in the summer of ’78, back when that mattered. It peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard chart and then got some love 17 years later when it was featured in Boogie Nights. 

Remote Patrol

The In-Laws

8:30 p.m. TCM

“Serpentine!” If ever one word defined a film…Alan Arkin and Peter Falk star in this terrific comedy from 1979.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

Starting Five

Coming soon to the Baltimore Orioles….Connaughton signed last June and landed a $428,000 signing bonus

1. State Champs!

Notre Dame outlasts Butler in overtime for the unofficial Indiana state championship in the NCAA tournament (for the record, the tourney began with five teams from the Hoosier state and the Irish are the last ones left) in what was the most thrilling game of the weekend.

And Wichita State, meeting Kansas for the first time in 24 years, runs away from the Jayhawks for the Sunflower state championship. Wonderfully, the Fighting Irish will face the Shockers on Thursday in Cleveland in a Sweet 16 matchup. Winner, most likely, draws Kentucky.

Tekele Cotton had a game-high 19 for the Shockers

I want a good game, of course. But I want the Irish to win just so that for the second time in one academic year the school can take on a heavily favored unbeaten team and then lose at the end due to an arcane illegal pick violation. I’m a fan of irony.

Also, even with relatively crappy squads Michigan State, Louisville and West Virginia advance to Sweet 16. You can’t discount Izzo, Pitino or Huggy Bear in March.

2. Last Chance Ranch

They held an NFL veterans combine at the Arizona Cardinals training facility on Sunday and Michael Sam was present. Here’s the song that was should’ve been playing in the background.

3. Scent of a Pop Star

Al Pacino as an aging (isn’t everyone?) pop star who finds inspiration from a letter John Lennon wrote to him more than 40 years ago. With Annette Bening as the love interest. Also starring Jennifer Garner, Christopher Plummer and Bobby Cannavale. The film is titled Danny Collins and it looks promising. Al Pacino is one of those people who is far more comfortable acting than he is being.

4. Yemeni Are Called, But Few Are Chosen

This is what happens when your country has no televised sports, HBO or Tilted Kilts. Everyone just plays real-life Call of Duty all day.

Greeeeaaaaaat. Another Arabic nation in disarray.

5. Addiction

Okay, laugh now, but I find this game addictive. It’s only Solitaire, the game you may not have played ever since you were 10 on a family trip to a cabin, but it’s so easy to play game after game. MAJOR time suck. I warned you.

Music 101

Runnin’ With The Devil

I’ve been lucky enough to see two truly bombastic front men live: Freddie Mercury and “Diamond” David Lee Roth. Van Halen’s lead singer was a mix of sex god-rock god-Steve Martin. He had one of the best wails, and best senses of humor, in the history of rock and roll. And this classic from Van Halen’s eponymous 1978 debut album was one of the anthems of our adolescent years.

Remote Patrol

Late, Late Show

12:35 p.m. CBS

 

Three or four years ago I saw James Corden in a Broadway farce called One Man, Two Guvnors, in a role for which he won the Tony Award. He was pretty fantastic, as was the show. Tonight he makes his debut as a late-night television “presenter” with guests Tom Hanks, Mila Kunis, and the duo from Get Hard. And if you cannot stay up this late –Who can besides bartenders?–don’t forget to catch Better Call Saul (AMC, 10 p.m.)

 

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

Starting Five

Beat that spread!

1. That Guy! 

Day One of March Madness didn’t suck. Nine of the 16 games were decided by less than five points, a Round of 64 record one-day record.

Five one-point games.

One two-point game.

Two three-point games.

One four-point game.

Twelve of the 16 underdogs covered the spread, but 12 of the 16 favorites actually won the games. The four teams that both failed to cover and failed to win: SMU, Texas, Baylor (South By Southworst Festival, anyone?) and Iowa State. The four schools that both covered and won? Georgetown, Utah, Villanova and Xavier.

The Big 12 went 0-3. The Big East went 4-0. Five Texas teams lost. Two Boston-area teams lost.

Alford and the Bruins overcame our skepticism, the Mustangs’ defense, and those trunks to edge SMU by one.

Harvard came within a long-three pointer of defeating North Carolina. UCLA needed a three-pointer from Bryce Alford that did not actually go into the bucket to beat SMU. Alford buried nine of 11 three-pointers. His dad, UCLA coach, Steve Alford, was known as something of a deadly outside shooter back in the day AND he had better hair.

A pair of 14-seeds pulled off the biggest upsets, taking down a pair of 3-seeds from the Big 12: UAB took down Iowa State and Georgia State defeated Baylor.

It was a good day Let’s do it again today…

2. Dall-Ass Buyers Club

Botched butt injections: “All wrong, all wrong, all wrong.”

It’s too easy. A woman in Dallas was discovered dead after she went to have butt injections  performed on her. You’ve got two people not licensed to practice medicine as prime suspects and a transgender witness. Police in Dallas estimate that between two and four Oscar nominations might come out of all this.

3. Race To Get Her? 

“But the cup is WHITE!!!! ARGHHHHH!!!!!”

I’d like a white mocha…but I don’t mean anything by that. I mean, I also prefer cream in my coffee, too. Does that make me…You know what, I’ll just have a brownie. Oh my God! I didn’t mean it that way. You know what I meant. Maybe I’ll just have some crackers.”

 Starbucks issues “Race Together” cups in an effort to get totally caffeinated strangers to discuss racism, and the writers at Saturday Night Live could not be more appreciative.

4. South By South-what-the-hell?

Guillermo, Guillermo Murray, and your host in Austin

Jimmy Kimmel took his show to SXSW this week and of course Bill Murray showed up in a dress.

I once spent a week in March in Austin, Texas, but it had nothing to do with the annual SXSW Festival. No, it was where my college rowing team trained during spring break (Wow, if I had only bought a house in Austin in the spring of 1985 with the money I’d saved from bussing tables at Garcia’s….anyway….).

Austin?!? “Yeah, baby, yeah!”

So here’s a little wrap on this year’s arts and technology festival. All you really need to know is that people lined up around the block to get a look at/photo op with Grumpy Cat. Who is now probably Grumpier Cat.

5. Boeheim Watch

Last night John Calipari said, “This isn’t Communism” when referring to playing time at Kentucky, and yet that wasn’t the strangest thing that a living coach who owns a championship ring uttered yesterday. Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim held a press conference in order to clear the air about the rest of his tenure and about Syracuse’s infractions with the 2A.

Notably, Boeheim accused skeptics of his program of “racism” while referring not to African-Americans specifically but instead to “foreigners.” Also, the inveterate Orange coach noted off-hand that he’s “the 45th-highest paid coach in America,” which is definitely an, “I’m not sayin’,” I’m just sayin'” thing to say.

Boeheim even, as the kids say, “threw shade” at Derek Jeter and the Syracuse football program.

 

Music 101

“We Just Disagree”

In the 1970s, we had this oxymoronic genre called “soft-rock.” You can blame it on the Eagles if you like. Artists like England Dan and John Ford Coley, or Dan Fogelberg or Starland Vocal Band or Ambrosia flourished. Anyway, AM radio went nuts for it. This tune, released in 1977, this is sonic soft-rock perfection. Lead vocals by English performer Dave Mason and backing vocals by Jim Krueger, who actually wrote the song. It reached No. 12 on the Billboard charts. This is a perfect song, by the way, for when you’re driving down a country road in a place you’ve never been. Very atmospheric.

 

Remote Patrol

NCAA Hoops, Day 2

CBS/TNT/TBS/TRU TV

11 a.m. til Eternity

Pangos, the bastard child of Marty McFly, leads the Zags into the tourney tonight

Day 2 brings us Frank the Tank from Wisconsin, Kevin Pangos playing with his coif, Tom Izzo, Bob Huggins’ track suit top, Bobby Hurley, Mamadou Ndiaye, Steve Lavin and Steve Fisher, and of course, the anxiety and excitement that comes with the potential of a first-round exit by Duke.

 

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

Starting Five

Those vibrant colors can only mean one thing: It’s spring! (Unless, of course, it’s autumn, because the trees also have brilliant plumage then)

1. We You Made It!

As a sports fan/New Yorker, I’ve always felt that “good autumn” ends with the finish of the New York City Marathon (bad autumn is the rest of the season, technically, but it feels like “pre-winter”) and that spring begins with the first Thursday of March Madness.

So give yourselves a hand. You survived winter. I’ve been in sunny Arizona the past two months, empathizing with your plight. I hope you felt my empathy.

1A. “The Balls Are Tipped…”

Dayton ought to have a chat with its athletic apparel rep

I’ve watched it many times, but I’m still not sure how Dayton’s Dyshawn Pierre got pantsed while grabbing this rebound in last night’s First Four loss to Boise State. You have lo love how coaches get about 3 dozen timeouts per game but that Dayton did not waste one here to help out Pierre. Nope, he just held the ball with one hand and pulled up his shorts with the other as Boise State’s cheerleaders looked on in shock.

Here’s the questions: Does this make the “One Shining Moment” montage? And where was Meadowlark Lemon during all this?

2. Messi, Not Messy

Messi, before dribbling ball through defender’s legs…

We like J Dubs a lot more before he fell head-over-Sambas in love with soccer. I mean, we didn’t actually like him, but we liked him more.

Okay, I hear you. But–if you did not tune in to Manchester City-F.C. Barcelona yesterday afternoon, you missed a virtuoso in his absolute prime. Barca’s Lionel Messi, the most artistically perfect player of his generation, did not score a goal but he was in the rarest of forms. He’s Maravich (or, for the kids, Steph Curry) dribbling a football and he also made a perfect touch pass for an assist on the game’s only goal.

….and after. The dude’s not alone. Happens to the best of them.

Barca advances to the quarters in UEFA Champions League. If they don’t meet Bayern Munich in the final, it’ll be a shame.

3. “NORRRRRRRRRM!”

MacDonald mentioned his failed sitcom, “Norm,” at least three times, adding each time, “I played Norm.”

A man who should have his own talk show, Norm MacDonald, makes his final appearance with a man who already does. Norm killed last night with stories of Jack Warden, Bob Uecker and here, on the late comic George Miller, a man whom Letterman was always outrageously fond of (no comedian ever wore worse sweaters while doing stand-up, not even Cosby).

4. Tragedy in Tunisia

At least two gunmen killed 19 tourists, injuring dozens more, at the Bardo Museum in the capital city of Tunis. You’ll remember that Tunisia was ground zero for the Arab Spring, the first country in the Arab world to overthrow its dictator in 2011 and elect a democratic government.

5. “If You Don’t Have Anything Nice To Say…

Why don’t people like him?

…you’re probably roasting Justin Bieber.

I’ve unearthed more mots of bon from last Saturday’s roast of Biebs for Comedy Central. I don’t think there’s ever been a Comedy Central Roast that was more vicious. There’s no undercurrent of friendship or admiration–just pure hostility. It’s less like a roast than an extended segment of “Mean Tweets.”

This, from Snoop Dogg, was one of the gentler burns: “When you get to the county jail, hear me, you’re gonna be the first dude who ever had a girlfriend and a boyfriend named Gomez.”

This is what it would have been like had Osama Bin Laden lived and then agreed to be roasted on Comedy Central.

Music 101

It’s Different For Girls

Absolutely love Joe Jackson. Once he put on shoes and learned to play the piano, he completely reinvented himself. This is off his classic 1979 album, Look Sharp! Jackson never won a Grammy, which is just another reason why the Grammys are crap.

Remote Patrol

NCAA Basketball Tournament

11 a.m. til The Rest of our Lives

It all tips off at 11 a.m. for a pre-game show on TRU TV and then you’ve got Notre Dame vs. Northeastern at noon. Over/Under on number of Oberto Beef Jerky ads it’s going to be before I give up and decide I prefer hiking to watching hoops? Seven? ICYMI, our invitation to participate in Mark Madness.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

Starting Five

That’s pretty much what it is

1. Head Games

Chris Borland’s retirement at age 24, along with the retirements in the past week of Patrick Willis, Jake Locker and Jason Worilds, none of them older than 30 years old, from the NFL should draw attention. I think The Big Lead hit the nail on the head with its hed, “Chris Borland Retiring from the NFL at 24: Bellwether or Anomaly? Yes.”

Observations/Facts:

1. From a viewership standpoint, the NFL has never been more popular, so…

1A.. …the opportunity for certain young men who otherwise would have no chance of earning a six-figure salary has never been greater (provided the NFLPA ever gets its act together).

2. Young men have never been faster, stronger, larger or more aggressive, while the cranial  area remains no more able to withstand violent collisions….

2A. …which means that whatever the NFL is attempting to sell the public and its players on about the sport never being safer is absolute b.s.

America’s most popular spectator sport

3. More well-educated, upper-middle class young men (read: white), with the exception of quarterbacks and kickers, will avoid playing football, be it through their wishes or their parents…

3A. …while more uneducated, lower-class young men (read: black) will have even more slots available to them in the NFL. And they’ll mostly happily take those jobs. And, while this thought is a little extreme, if you remember that grisly scene in Djanjo: Unchained in which the rich white plantation owners have two slaves fight to the death in a fancy hotel room for their own enjoyment, well, that’s the modern-day NFL.

4. Have you noticed how some NBA and college basketball players (I’m thinking Russell Westbrook) wear under-armor type clothing with built-in pads? Can you imagine if the NFL ever went to that model? Players would only have soft pads on the knees, hips, shoulders and elbows and a similar cushion-like material for the skull. The game would be infinitely safer without helmets or shoulder pads. But would America tune in?

5. This NFL team doctor, who is acutely familiar with the Mike Webster case, says that the worries about CTE are “overexaggerated” when it comes to youth football. I happen to agree with him. College football players in 2015 are even larger than NFL players were 20 years ago. College and NFL football is a dangerous sport, and as Chip Kelly related last week, “the injury rate is 100%.”

Injuries do occur at the high school and Pop Warner level, sure. And elite high school football is where lower Division college football is these days. But at the junior high level and lower, I don’t think football has a long-term effect in terms of head injuries. No worse than soccer or skateboarding. Does that mean your kid should play? Up to you. But at that level I think football gives kids a lot more than it takes away from them.

Darryl Stingley was paralyzed from the neck down right before I started high school. And I played wide receiver and defensive back. I remember Stingley’s injury having a great effect on how I played the game. Before that, I never really thought about getting hurt playing football and I was super-aggressive. After that, I’d be lying if I said there was ever a game I went into when I didn’t think about it. That meant it was time to stop playing.

That and the fact that while I was okay, I was never scholarship material. I totally should have been a diver. A lot less equipment to have to put on every day.

2. Bad Week for Spurs

Shved, who is playing for his fourth NBA team in the past 14 months, helped the Knicks take down the Spurs

Sunday: Manchester United draws a clean sheet (am I saying that correctly?) at home versus Tottenham Hotspur, 3-0. Tottenham is now in 7th place, out of Champions League and Europa League standings, at the moment.

Tuesday: The defending world champion San Antonio Spurs lose to the NBA’s worst team, the New York Knicks, in overtime at Madison Square Garden. Alexey Shved. The Knicks became the first team this late in an NBA season to enter a game with a sub-.200 record and beat the defending NBA champions.

“”We didn’t respect the game,” Gregg Popovich said. “We didn’t respect our opponent. It was a pathetic performance, and I hope every player is embarrassed. Not because we’re supposed to win the game, quote unquote, but it’s about how you play the game.”

The Spurs are at Milwaukee tonight. That should be interesting…

3. Ole Miss Did Not…Miss

Mississippi 94, BYU 90.

Mississippi put up 62 points in the 2nd half (after scoring 32 in the first and trailing by 17) versus the nation’s No. 1 Scoring Offense, BYU. Whereas in the first half the Cougars had been playing like team (that had been) on a mission. Yes, some jokes I’ll recycle from Twitter.

Doug Tammaro at Arizona State asks a good question: When was the last time a team put up 90 in the tourney and lost? I don’t know, but I do know that Duke and Kentucky were tied at 93 heading into overtime in the infamous 1992 NCAA regional final.

Martavious Newby, favorite player of Dr. Cox, scored 10 for the Rebels.

4. So Would He Be Hsalf?

“Your yellow!” “I’m not yellow!” “Race him, Jerry!”

Our pal Tom Cavanagh reveals that he’s not actually the kindly Harrison Wells on The Flash, but he’s actually Eobard Thawne, the Reverse Flash, who killed Barry Allen’s mother all those years ago while attempting to kill Barry (who is The Flash).

I’m so confused now. Is Tom Cavanagh even Tom Cavanagh? Whose wedding did I attend?  And did I make a total fool of myself in front of Julie Bowen (probably)? And if I want to run future videos featuring Tom, will I need a Reverse-Flash Plug-In? This is all too much….

5. Donna Baldwin Talent Agency

I need an ethical expert to weigh in on this: Is it sexist/lewd/unethical to peruse modeling agency head shots? Asking for a fiend…

Now here’s what’s interesting. One of the models on that page is named Danielle Aten, and I’d thought of running her portfolio with a silly Maxim-ish caption such as “Danielle Aten? I’d say so!” But then this happened. And so I ask you, Is this the same person?*

*And of course it’s Florida…

Music 101

“I Know What I Know”

“She said, ‘Don’t I know you from the cinematographer’s party?’ and I said, ‘Who am I to blow against the wind?'” From Paul Simon’s classic 1986 album Graceland, with backing here from the Boyoyo Boys Band of Johannesburg. If ever there were a musical equivalent to “Comeback Player of the Year,” Simon won it with this effort. Also, Art Garfunkel’s musical partner had a cameo in Annie Hall. Colorful career.

Remote Patrol

Atlanta Hawks at Golden State Warriors

10:30 p.m. ESPN

The only two teams north of 50 wins (north of 47, in fact) meet tonight in Oakland. The Warriors (53-13) seem a safer bet to make the NBA Finals than the Hawks (53-14). Both teams have lost at Denver and faced a hairy fourth quarter versus the LOLakers in the past 10 days, but they’ll be up for this one.  One last dosage of NBA before March Madness invades…