by John Walters
Four earthquakes struck central Italy on Wednesday, which likely led to an avalanche that buried the Hotel Rigopiano, in Farindola, about 100 miles northeast of Rome. Rescuers had to travel at least five miles by ski or snowshoe just to reach the four-star hotel, as snow continues to fall, and it is believed up to 30 people are trapped inside. Stay tuned to Medium Happy’s 24-hour cable news service for updates (Not yet, but won’t that be cool?).
And here we just watched Force Majeure earlier this week.
2. Basketball Becomes—Shorter
This is 5’10” Phil Taylor of Division II Shorter University. He’s averaging 35.3 points per game, more than any player at any level, male or female.
Marcus Keene, 5’9″, plays for Central Michigan and is the top scorer in Division I.
Amely Del Rosario, 5’5″, is a senior at Lehman College in the Bronx and her 25.3 points per game is tops in Division III.
Julian Marx, 5’11”, is the top three-point shooter in Division III. He plays for Grinnell.
At Division III Greenville, which literally borrowed Grinnell’s playbook two years ago, they’re averaging a nation’s best 133 points per game. The Panthers put up 178 points earlier this season. Their coach, George Barber, eschews recruiting low post players.
What’s happening? Two things: 1) Schools and players are embracing the three-point shot at levels unlike any we’ve ever seen and 2) embracing the three has opened up the lane, so that players who have a terrific handle (cough, can palm the ball, cough) and can drive to the hoop are finding a more traffic-free lane or finding contact and foul calls (because refs are afraid to call charging unless you’re an oaf).
3. A Speech In Sharpie?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 18, 2017
The president-elect himself tweeted out this photo of himself yesterday, taken either from the lair of an Arab sheik or his “winter White House,” Mar-A-Lago. What he may not have anticipated is assiduous and antagonistic news producers and reporters blowing up the photo and noticing that in his right hand he holds a Sharpie pen. Which is not conducive to writing long speeches (you know what is, in the 21st century? A computer). Donald, isn’t it a little early to be filling out your NCAA bracket? They haven’t even picked the field yet.
Every day Trump recalibrates the crazy line in American life. Yesterday, no lie, he announced what he wanted his slogan for his 2020 campaign (which he’ll begin going out on the road and staging rallies for, presumably, on Saturday) to be: “Keep America Great.” As more than a few horror genre fans noted, that was the tagline for last summer’s film, The Purge: Election Year, the plot of which has to do with draining the swamp and murdering undesirables. It’s described as a “dystopian” movie, but I think there are a few people in the new administration who think of it as a training film.
To be fair, whoever put together the marketing for this film probably borrowed that tagline from Trump’s “MAGA” phrase. They knew what demo they were targeting.
4. Logan’s Run for Novak?
In five sets Denis Istomin, a wildcard from Uzbekistan, defeats Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open. It was the Serbian superman’s first loss against an unseeded opponent at a Grand Slam in 34 matches. Djokovic, who will turn 30 between now and the French Open, owns 12 career Grand Slam singles titles. Is this significant?
Roger Federer, who owns the most with 17, won one Grand Slam title after turning 30. He’s now 35.
Pete Sampras, who has 14, also won one after turning 30.
Rafael Nadal, who also has 14, is 30 and last won a Grand Slam at age 28.
Djokovic, who won literally half of the 22 Grand Slam titles between the beginning of 2011 and last year’s French Open, has now failed to win the last three Grand Slams.
5. “I Think We’re Going To Be Okay“
Oh, you think? You think??? And with that, Mr. Keating left the White House briefing room as most of the assembled fourth estate (and a few of us watching) stood on our chairs and desks and proclaimed, “O captain! My captain!”
President Obama departs 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue 1) alive (most importantly; admit it, you all had him in the dead pool, ahead of even Wade Wilson) 2) untouched by scandal and 3) with his integrity and senses of humor and decency intact.
Even Obama’s most ardent enemies (many of whom cannot wait to Make America Great Again) must admit that at his core he is a good man. And what they believe is weakness, well, they’re about to discover, was simply good old fashioned “discretion is the better part of valor.”
A lot of American are upset about ISIS (Did any of them care about Syria before James Foley was decapitated?), or Obamacare (what’s their better plan?), or about job loss (which is more a product of how major corporations are slaves to their earnings reports than about anything a president can do), and I get that people want to work. Will it be better under Trump?
As the Zen Master said, “We’ll see.”
Kiss You All Over
Kinda disco, kinda power-pop, this song from Exile was all over FM radio in autumn of 1978. I can’t believe Paul Thomas Anderson hasn’t used it in a film yet. The song was No. 1 for four weeks in late ’78. Lead singer Jimmy Stokley died seven years later at the tender age of 41.
3:30 p.m. SyFy
When you’re looking for a movie whose title matches your mood. This James Bond film from 2012 stars Daniel Craig and made up for the disaster that was A Quantum of Solace (worst title for a 007 film ever).