It’s All Happening!

Good day readers, from sunny Arizona! While John Walters is out fishing for a story, I’ve been designated the AIR Apparent for today’s edition of It’s All Happening! Guaranteed Sharknado-free. Katie McCollow is a tough act to follow, but daylight’s burning. Shall we?


STARTING FIVE 

1. Baby Bowden

College GameDay reporter Samantha Ponder recently posted this Instagram photo with her month-old daughter Bowden Sainte-Claire Ponder, named after seminal Seminoles football coach, Bobby Bowden. How did The Ponders deliver a boyish name like that? Ponder’s hubby Christian and his father both played for Bowden at Florida State University. The biggest mystery that remains is how this pulchritudinous, high profile couple managed to keep both the pregnancy and birth under wraps. With a name and lineage like that, baby Bowden is certain to inherit more than a few desirable traits, and a tight spiral pass. SKOL!

ChristianSamKid

 

2. Getting His Phil of Pickleball

Pro golfer Phil Mickleson was spotted playing America’s fastest growing game last week in Encinitas, California. Although he’s known as ‘Lefty’, Mickleson played right-handed, and is thought to ‘have some potential’ after his 3-hour duel on the pickleball courts.

As the “Pickleball Wrangler” in my spare time, I can attest to the addictive quality of this game. It’s a captivating combination of lob, touch and kill shots, punctuated by frequent peals of laughter.

How do I know this court sport is catching on? Just ask the Mumbai Suburban Pickleball Association, or discover over 2,500 places to play across North America at www.usapa.org.

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3. The Mother of All ‘Dear John’ Letters 

I confess, I was once guilty of the cowardly act of leaving a Dear John letter on a car seat. Granted his name was actually John, and I can plead full-blown immaturity as a defense. Yet Jackie O seriously puts the rest of us to shame with this release of a scathing kiss-off penned in 1947, pre-JFK:

“I’ve always thought of being in love as being willing to do anything for the other person—starve to buy them bread and not mind living in Siberia with them—and I’ve always thought that every minute away from them would be hell—so looking at it that [way] I guess I’m not in love with you.”

 

Jacqueline-Bouvier-at-16

 

4. A Riff on Ruth

Owning up to my archaic first name, I decided it was time to assemble my own power index of famous Ruths. (With gratitude to Steve Rushin, for the inspiration.)

The Book of Ruth—According to ancient scripture, Ruth was a widow resigned to toiling in the wheat fields as a day laborer. As the story goes, Ruth’s mother-in-law Naomi was also widowed, as was Ruth’s sister-in-law, Orpah. Naomi decided to play “Fiddler on the Ruth” by introducing Ruth to Boaz, who immediately separated the chaff from the wheat and rescued her from a lifetime of gleaning.

Babe Ruth—When it comes to Ruths, George Herman Ruth bears the least resemblance to me, but is perhaps the most influential Ruth of all time. This vintage photo (with fake beard) never fails to crack me up. By today’s standards, Babe Ruth wasn’t the fittest of professional athletes, but there’s absolutely no empirical evidence linking his bulk to excessive consumption of Baby Ruth candy bars.

 

Babe Ruth

 

Ruth Chris—Back in 1965, a fearless single mother of two ripped a ‘steak house for sale’ ad out of a newspaper, and thought to herself, “I can do that”. Ruth Fertel proceeded to build a beefy franchise which has grown from one location to 140, now serving up 40,000 steaks each day.

Doctor Ruth—The “Wall Street Journal” described her as a ‘cross between Henry Kissinger and Minnie Mouse’, while “Playboy” lauded her as one of the 55 most important people in all things sex. As a former spokesperson for Clairol shampoo, I predict Dr. Ruth will be on the comeback trail with a “Fifty Shades of Grey” ad campaign.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg—Recently dubbed “The Notorious R.G.B”, this diminutive Supreme Court Justice holds degrees from Cornell, Harvard and Columbia. (And if that isn’t enough, she has three honorary doctor of law degrees from Williamette, Princeton and Harvard University as well). At 81, she remains a serious overachiever and the second female after Sandra Day O’Connor to sit on the Supreme Court.

I would never intentionally be Ruthless. If I left an iconic Ruth off my list, please add (him or) her in the Comments section.

5. Pre-Madonna Prima Donna

 

Wintour

 

What more can I say? When you live in Arizona, you’re always searching for a little Wintour in the dead of summer.  Thanks for reading!

–An Inconvenient Ruth (AIR)

 

 

This is Why I Rarely Leave My House

By Katie McCollow

I haven’t gone to a lot of movies this summer, just three. A movie has to look pretty spectacular for me to leave the comfort of my couch, put on non-stretchy clothes, drive to a theater and plop down a small fortune for the privilege of sitting next to some kid playing with his phone and chewing on rocks while I’m trying to watch the G-damn show. But I was very excited for Jersey Boys.

UGGGGHHH. Whose stupid idea was it to let Clint Eastwood direct this movie? Seriously, what??

Take the most fun, energetic show Broadway has put out in the last 20 years and hand it over to the guy whose idea of a good time is Hilary Swank breaking her neck on a stool, and guess what you get?

A BIG FAT EFFING DRAG IS WHAT YOU GET. I wonder how that meeting went down?

Cue swirling, Wizard-of-Oz-esque visual effects to connote a fantasy sequence is about to take place:

Studio exec, to Clint Eastwood: “This group wrote and recorded some of the catchiest tunes in American pop music history.  We’ve cast John Lloyd Young as Frankie Valli—that’s right, the same guy who led this show all the way to multiple Tony awards on Broadway in 2006, including Best Actor and Best Musical. That show has so many heart-stopping, chill-inducing moments, everyone who has ever seen it leaves the theater with scrambled eggs for brains, ear-to-ear smiles and freshly purchased soundtracks tucked in their pockets, which they listen to for the next two years until it wears out and then they buy another one. What’s your vision for the movie?”

Mr. Eastwood (talking to empty chair):  “OK: First, those songs, at least the few we actually let into the movie, are all going to be chopped up and relegated to background music in scene after scene of people screeching at each other. I’m not here to sell soundtracks. There’s a gritty story here, full of sad sacks, bad marriages and gambling addictions. I’m OK with the fellas we’ve cast, but instead of showcasing their amazing singing and dancing chops, I’m going to let them tell the story through talking. And screeching. No heart-stopping, chill inducing moments, either. I am OK with the abrupt use of dime-store stage makeup to convey the passage of time, however.”

Studio exec: “Genius. You’re hired. I loved you in The Ten Commandments.” He leaves room. 

Gofer who loves movies and is thrilled to have her job of fetching coffee and fellating her boss, but simply cannot sit by and watch this happen because she saw the show on stage twice and has worn through several copies of the soundtrack even though she was born in 1994: “Um…Mr. Eastwood? What about that bit where suddenly the audience is taken backstage and the lights come up and it just blows your mind? Will that be in there?”

Clint Eastwood: “No.”

Gofer: “How about that awesome part where Bob Guadio, er, ‘becomes a man’, and then breaks into crowd-pleaser December 1963?”

Clint: “We can show the grit and humanity of his first time in indelicate congress with a prostitute, but no singing.”

Gofer: “What about the part where they sing Who Loves You? That was so great…”

 Clint: “Maybe that can play in the background while Frankie and Bob talk about death. I know what I’m doing. I’m Clint Eastwood.”

Gofer (getting desperate): “But wait! Wait Mr. Eastwood…what about the amazing medley of hits Stay? Let’s Hang On? Bye Bye Baby?”

Clint: “It will play quietly in the background for a few seconds.”

Gofer: “C’mon Marianne? Ragdoll? Beggin’?”

Clint: “Listen, punk. I don’t have time for all that. I need to dedicate at least a half hour to Frankie’s drug-addicted daughter, a character I’m going to assume the audience knows and cares about.”

Gofer: “Ohh…that song Fallen Angel makes me cry…”

Clint: “No song. Just a funeral.”

Gofer: “The incredible comeback? The Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame?”

Clint Eastwood (getting angry–now yelling at the chair): “Of course! But it’ll be done my way, in a depressing supper-club with a lot of incredibly cheesy close-ups. I see a parade of Captain Kangaroo wigs, walrus mustaches and corpse-like Halloween makeup. This film will be lousy with tense drama and colorless cinematography, like all my movies…incredible music and a crazily talented cast, please. No one cares about that! I AM CLINT EASTWOOD AND I AM THE STAR OF ALL MY MOVIES!”

Adding insult to injury, the closing credits were a complete sucker-punch. The tone completely switched gears and suddenly I was watching the movie I’d wanted all along, a colorful, joyous romp filled with off-leash singing and dancing by people who know how to do it. Thanks Clint! That was an awesome 30 seconds.

I wonder if that chair has started talking back to him yet.

The news gets worse, kids. I also saw Tammy, which makes Jersey Boys look like Gone With the Wind, Citizen Kane and Raiders of the Lost Ark had an orgy and made a movie baby.*

Melissa McCarthy plays Tammy, an angry, clueless loser who is mad at the world for stuff we don’t know. She’s stupid, coarse and mean, and wonders why everyone is against her. I guess the audience is supposed to be rooting for her, but in the scene when she comes home to find her husband cheating, all I could think was, “Someone married her?”

Allison Janney, who looks to be the same age as Melissa McCarthy, plays her mom. She seems like a nice enough sort, leaving me to wonder how she’d raised such an unlikable daughter. Ha! Irony, I get it–my own mother is a saint and I am…me, but Tammy presumably wasn’t also raised by the fists and verbal poundings of 8 siblings.**

Tammy takes off with her grandma, played by a slightly older Susan Sarandon, who wears fake ankles and a wig apparently borrowed from the set of Jersey Boys. She is awful. A bunch of stuff happens—they wreck the car, they rob a burger joint, they have sex with Gary Cole and get arrested and I go to the concession stand and spend way too long choosing candy, because I actually don’t want to return to the theater. When I do, it turns out that grandma is a drunk, lesbians are happy, rich and wise and Tammy is not actually loathsome and disgusting but irresistible. Kiss! From a boy, not a lesbian. The end. Sounds short, felt sooo long. Every scene plays like 20 minutes of bad improv.

Can we all agree that Melissa McCarthy is beloved? She is. And usually, when a beloved star makes a dog, I am quick to forgive, since no one can hit it out of the park every time. But Tammy is so bad, I will actually not jump to see another movie with her name above the title. She’s gotta earn my trust back. There’s no way she saw the dailies and didn’t know what she was doing.

Chef restored my faith. Fantastic. Jon Favreau plays a temperamental chef who quits his soul-crushing restaurant job and buys a food truck, then drives it all over the country and makes mouth-watering delights in it while the camera lingers. In the process he bonds with his son and finds love. A perfect movie! My only advice is, make sure you’ve got something really awesome on the stove when you get home. After that kind of serious food-porn, dried-out chicken drummies aren’t going to cut it. Trust me.

*Don’t bother asking who the father is. No one knows.

**Yes you did, you guys.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING

Our Fearless leader is off on a top secret mission to #GoGetThoseGeckos so he’s asked me @okerland to fill in for him today.  You may remember me from previous posts about kids television or saw my name on several “ND Football Tweeters to Watch” lists.

 

STARTING FIVE

1. Ntionl Bsebll Coverge

I love baseball more than any other sport (yes, even more than women’s basketball, Poot) and I happen to live and sometimes do business with currently the best team in baseball – the Oakland Athletics.  The A’s with their Green Collar approach have made the playoffs the last two seasons and feature a plug & play roster which has made them so difficult to beat this year (just ask Yu Darvish). Bring in a lefty to face John Jaso? A’s counter with Derek Norris or Stephen Vogt.  In fact, there’s been a few times where the A’s have almost had all 3 of their catchers in the field. But why don’t more fans know about the A’s?  Lack of National TV Coverage. As we enter August and head towards the pennant chase, the A’s have been featured on TBS, Fox, Fox1 and/or ESPN maybe once if not twice. Meanwhile, this Sunday will feature at least the third time the Yankees and Red Sox have played against each other on National TV.

I know TV execs are all about ratings but what happened to growing the sport and teaching fans across the country about the game that many of us love?  It’s not like the A’s came out of nowhere this year.  They were the favorites to win the West and maybe finally get over the hump against the Tigers.  Plus, the A’s have one of the atmospheres in baseball.  The stadium may not be the greatest and the political battles have been head scratching but the fans that do come make noise and rattle the opposition.  So much so, the Tigers raved about it 2 years ago.

But if you were a casual viewer in the first 4 months of the season, you’d have no idea the A’s still existed and that they were the best team in baseball.

2. Trading Day

One of my favorite days of the baseball season is on Thursday, the annual trading deadline. We have buyers and sellers, teams that think they are just a move away or already planning for next year.  The Cubs are always in the later category. But it’s not the player movement that excites me, it’s sports talk radio around this time of year.

Tune into your local sports radio station and every armchair GM will propose the most ridiculous trades and the poor host has to play nice so as to not affend the listener. As young kid in New York, Mets and Yankees fans would fill WFAN’s (Sportsradio – The Fan) airwaves for nearly a month on how the Yankees could obtain Ken Griffey, Jr. for a bunch of washed up triple A/major league talent. Sometimes the trades would be even more crazy as it would be a blockbuster of Glavine, Maddux and Smoltz for Irabu.

Now with the SF Giants stumbling, every night fans propose trades on how to get David Price, Chase Utley, etc. despite that the Giants’ farm system is basically empty after several WS runs where they traded guys such as Zach Wheeler awway for Carlos Beltran. Last week, the Giants obtained both Dan Uggla and Brad Penny, both of which sent fans into a tizzy. Uggla was cut by the Braves because he couldn’t hit and the Sox wanted to part with Penny who hadn’t won in 9 (now 10 starts).  Of course the fans were split as the Giants traded some of their better prospects to get Penny, but some said, “we didn’t need them anyway”

Enjoy the last two days and then again until August 31st when a second trading deadline goes into play. The second one just makes it harder to trade players, but those with big contracts often get through waivers.

3. Fittest in the World

On Sunday, ESPN2 aired the finale of the CrossFit Games while for the last 9 weeks, NBC has shown America Ninja Warrior. Both shows center around guys and some women showing off their strength and ability through a myriad of obstacles.  Both claim to have the fittest athletes.

CrossFit is the latest rage in the country for it’s inventiveness and sort of renegade type attitude of not training in your typical gym but basically a rented out garage. CrossFitters think it’s awesome and brag about their WODs (Workout of the Day). This in turn pisses off people on Facebook and Social media who then hate CrossFitters. In addition, your strength, training and conditioning group is also split because some don’t agree on the philosophy and training (FYI: most strength coaches hate someone else’s plan).

As someone who has done CrossFit, I can see the appeal.  It mixes several elements so you aren’t bogged down doing the same thing everyday or every few days. But I can see the venom, as every class is a competition to finish the workout and I’ve always hated finishing last. Plus, I often felt as if sometimes the coach was more interested in making sure I put up more weight, rather than doing it right.  (me getting stronger means they get more money when renewal time comes around)

America Ninja Warrior is a series of strength and agility obstacle courses with the goal of being the first person to scale Mount Midoriyama. (side note: in five seasons, no one has done it yet).

You may have heard that the big story of season 6 was that they had their first women make it to the Vegas Finals.  Huge success story and it captured America’s attention.  I’m not taking anything away from her but her small stature gave her advantage on everything but the warped wall, which is tall enough and curved enough that unless you have the right technique, you often fall. Height is a big factor in that obstacle. With Kacy being 5’1 she had struggled in past seasons to scale the wall.  this season thanks to practice she scaled the wall and went on to finish the course, with her low weight helping her navigate some of the trickier weight controlled obstacles.

My own nit with the production of the show is the over the top excitement by the hosts and how the show will hype a contestant for two hours thanks to it being shown on delay. (Last night, they hyped a guy for 2 hours, who fell on the second obstacle).  Since the season finale is never shown live, you know the results before it even gets to the end.

4. All Apologies

Been quite the few weeks for apologies:

- Dungy regarding Michael Sam
- Stephen A. Smith regarding abuse
- WEEI to Erin Andrews
- Aubrey Huff to A’s fans after he told them he hopes Jim Johnson kicks their asses next time he faces them
- Any Husband across the world

The first four people are media outlets who were probably forced to apology because of the backlash and ratings, sponsors, etc. The fourth just does so even though he’s right 99.99999% of the time (just like Ivory Soap).

John’s touched on Dungy, Huff’s a Giant so he hates the A’s and he shouldn’t be on the A’s flagship station but that’s another issue and numerous have commented on SAS’s apology.  Although I do wonder why Jemele Hill and Cari Champion weren’t more offended?  I watched Sports Reporters on Sunday to see if Hill’s take would be on the issue but instead was on the McGwire-Conseco fall out and from all indications Champion never refused to finish the show on Friday and basically accepted a taped apology yesterday. Here you have a guy who basically says “women need to do a better job of not provoking attacks” and Champion sat there. I know she’s the moderator but if Skip uses a racial slur would SAS and Cari just sit there as if they weren’t offended? Why was Beadle the only ESPN female to speak out about this?

5. HOT COLLEGE FOOTBALL SPORTSTAKES

With the B10 wrapping up media days, we’ve been filled with soundbites for almost two weeks. The funny thing is how the press eats up quotes and retweets them. Aside from Charlie Weis, how often does a coach go to media day and say the team sucks or this players sucks or all that offseason stuff didn’t help?  Rarely does the media pounce on a coach for discipline issues or oversigning or NCAA issues, instead they all need to be buddies with the coaches so they can get the big scoop and make more money.

FYI: Your starting QB, RB and entire defense is poised for a big year because your coach spent the offseason with a NFL team.

BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS:

Part of my goal this year was to read 12 books (1 per month) so I wouldn’t spend my 45 minutes commute each way playing Candy Crush and being on social media (I save that for when I interact with my kid.)* I’ve already surpassed that goal but wanted to recommend a couple.

1. The Son by Phillip Meyer. – Spans the history of a family who helped settle in Texas.  from being captured by Native Americans until their eventual making it rich in oil it will have your attention. My only advice is that since it is told from 3 different points of view try not to put down the book and come to it a week later as you will be confused.

2. Where Nobody Knows Your Name by John Feinstein. – Tales about life in the minor leagues from the perspective of a long time minor leaguer, an umpire, manager and former big leaguer trying to get to the majors. You’ll love reading about managers telling kids they’ve been sent up and reading about players’ journies up and down the farm system.

BTW: Want to read the night Lane left Tennessee from the people who were there? click here: http://www.foxsports.com/college-football/outkick-the-coverage/story/the-night-lane-kiffin-bolted-tennessee-an-oral-history-072914

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

STARTING FIVE

This is how Lane used to bring it to the plate…

1. Lane Change

In 2005 Jason Lane was an outfielder who hit 26 home runs and drove in 78 runs for a Houston Astros squad that advanced to the World Series. Nine years later, and in just a few hours, Lane, now 37, will make his Major League pitching debut for the San Diego Padres.

Lane, who did pitch as a collegian at USC, where he helped the Trojans to a 1998 College World Series championship –Southern Cal defeated Arizona State 21-14 in championship game (not a typo) — has not appeared in a Major League game since 2007. But he will take the hill for today’s 12:10 start today at Turner Field versus Atlanta.

And this is how he’ll do so this afternoon

Lane will be the oldest man to make his first Major League start since Troy Percival did in 2007 at the age of 38–but Percival had appeared in hundreds of games as an All-Star caliber reliever. No, if Lane completes five innings today, he’ll be the oldest pitcher to make his Major League debut and go that long since the legendary Leroy “Satchel” Paige did so for the Cleveland Indians in 1948 at the age of 42.

2. Hail, Mary

The mark of Cain: Mary bruises another finish line tape

With less than 250 meters remaining in the Women’s 3000 at the World Junior Track & Field Championships in Eugene this weekend, 18 year-old Mary Cain of Bronxville, N.Y. (who now lives and trains in Portland) trailed not one but TWO Kenyan runners.

And if you’ve been paying any attention to distance or middle-distance running the past 30 years, that should mean third place at best. Instead, as you are able to see in this video, Cain jostles past one and then blows by the other with about 200 to 180 meters remaining, and then kicks it home for the win. Cain broke the tape in a personal best 8:58:48, winning by two seconds.

“There was a lot of jostling,” Cain told the The Associated Press. “I know I’m supposed to keep running, but I kept saying, ‘I’m sorry!’”

Cain is simply the most gifted U.S. female middle-distance running prodigy since the greatest this nation has ever produced, also named Mary: Mary Decker (later Mary Slaney).

3. He Said, She Tweeted

ESPN: Let’s give two outspoken, brash people 30 minutes a day to expound at length on sports and society. What could possibly go wrong?

Without getting into everything that Screamin’ A. Smith said about Ray Rice and domestic violence on First Ache last Friday and then what fellow ESPN daytime gabfest contributor Michelle Beadle tweeted in response –you may review if you like here and here–, allow me to make two points:

1) Any supposed condemnation you make of domestic violence evaporates as soon as you add the conditional “having said that” or “but….” It just does. In Smith’s case, he said, “But I’ve tried to employ to the female members of my family…”

Unless you unequivocally state, “I am 100% against ever striking a female, no conditions attached,” you are leaving the door open for someone to think that deep in your mind you are thinking, “But in this case, she may have deserved it.”

Screamin’ A would decry this as false. Doesn’t matter (and he may seem a little insincere after you read this). As long as you send out the message that there are times a woman might want to hold her tongue, or not provoke a male, you are really telling females, “Hey, nature’s nature. You gotta know better.”

Screamin’ A, and all people, need to understand that there’s a difference between WHAT YOU SAY and WHAT PEOPLE HEAR. If a white male is accused of racism and defends himself by saying, “I have lots of black friends,” does any black person hear that and think, “Oh, okay. He’s cool?”

I think not.

2. Beadle is going to be at least suspended by Disney as she should be. As anyone who has ever stepped foot in a pro sports locker room knows (and Beadle has), a huge maxim with all franchises is, “What you see here, what you hear here, what you say here, let it stay here.” In short, if Beadle has a problem with a fellow ESPN colleague’s point of view –and he’s paid to have a point of view on camera –pick up the phone and call him. Or email him. At WORST, send him a Direct Message. That’s why Twitter has that function.

You have a daily television show on ESPN, Michelle. Just like Screamin’ A. Only it’s not quite as unctuous, only more insipid. Maybe you use that forum to rebuke what he said.

Beadle already wore out here welcome at NBC by thinking that the rules of the game did not apply to her. She just took a very false step at ESPN on Friday. In this case, I’m sorry, it’s not about domestic violence. It’s about betraying a co-worker. You don’t take that ish into a public forum. And you don’t have to be wishy-washy on violence against women to feel Beadle deserves a suspension. There’s a forum for her to tell Screamin’ A. she disagrees, and Twitter is NOT it.

4. FOX and Not Friends

You guys had 8 days to make this right –and you didn’t. Why don’t you all take the next few plays off?

I love how FOX handled the Erin Andrews-WEEI kerfuffle. Seriously.

FOX remained silent as on-air misogynist Kirk Minihane first referred to Erin Andrews as a “gutless bitch” on WEEI Boston’s “Dennis and Callahan” morning show on July 16 in reference to her dugout interview with Adam Wainwright during the All-Star Game. FOX gave Minihane and WEEI time to make it right.

WEEI “made it right” by announcing that Minihane had taken a few days off to attend a wedding, then hailed his “triumphant return.” This was last Wednesday, during which Minihane apologized for his choice of words but then added that Andrews is in over her head intellectually, saying that if she  “weighed 15 pounds more she would be a waitress.”

In the words of one of my favorite New Englanders, Geno Auriemma, “What a dope.”

And even then, FOX waited a day or two.

Great body, but not of work

THEN Eric Shanks, president of FOX Sports, dropped the hammer, informing Entercom, parent company of WEEI, that it would no longer advertise on any of its stations or allow FOX personalities to be guests.

Brilliant. And decisive.

And if I’m WEEI, I get rid of both Minihane and the clueless station manager who allowed a toxic situation to fester. And I hope Kirk enjoys being a waiter. I can give him some advice on that.

I’m no fan of Andrews. When she said to Wainwright, “Social media is a marvelous thing,” it sounded like the head cheerleader telling the quarterback, “They all hate us because they’re sooo jealous of us.” Andrews has never understood that because, I feel, deep down she really does think she’s better than everybody except the cool jocks and exceedingly wealthy. That’s how she comes across. That’s how she always comes across. She’s what we would have called in high school, “Stuck-up.”

Still, that’s no excuse for what Minihane said or how WEEI handled it.

5. Joba the Hutt

Joba Chamberlain: Making plenty of appearances for Detroit this season, but apparently not overly concerned with his own.

The Film Room with Chris Corbellini

In which our intrepid reviewer –who sometimes scales tall escalators to bring you these reviews–waxes profound on Richard Linklater’s Boyhood.”

BOYHOOD *** (out of four)

 By Chris Corbellini

The first shot of BOYHOOD settles gently on a 7-year-old actor named Ellar Coltrane staring up at a wide, blue Texas sky, and in the final one, the camera finds Coltrane now as an 18-year-old man, regarding another lovely Lone Star State afternoon with a giggly college girl at his side — a moment of natural and (I think) chemical bliss. In between we watch Coltrane grow up, literally grow up on camera, while his character absorbs the bumps and bruises of several broken marriages and finds his identity. “You know how everyone’s always saying seize the moment?,” the girl says. “I don’t know. I’m kinda thinkin’ it’s the other way around. You know, like, the moment seizes us.” 

 

That is director Richard Linklater’s summation, and he probably had that line in his back pocket before he started filming in 2002. As she says it you get that unmistakable feeling that the film is about to end, after all our invested time with the same lead, and at that moment I wondered if the making of this movie was more interesting than the movie itself. The character Coltrane plays, a boy named Mason, was a good-natured, video-game-playing little love bug, an innocent gradually tainted and strengthened by the events of his life. Maybe that’s how it went for the actor in real life. Maybe being a part of a movie every year for 12 years, having all these moments on camera, has altered his own life in more interesting ways than a screenplay could ever hope to project.  If they ever make a documentary about the making of BOYHOOD, I’ll be the first person in line or online to buy a ticket.

 

Linklater got lucky the kid was game throughout the whole shoot. They filmed chapters of Mason’s story every year for over a decade, writing as they went along. If Coltrane wanted to bail because it was too much work, or if he became self-absorbed from all the attention, or turned into a typical teenager that believed grown-ups were hypocrites, all those years of sweat equity would be for nothing. In the brilliant “Up” series, those documentaries charting the real lives of the same British citizens every seven years, director Michael Apted had the most trouble interviewing his subjects in their early teens, with some leaving the project altogether until they were fully-formed people.  Linklater’s daughter Lorelei played the older sister character Samantha, and I read that she got so tired of being in the movie she asked her father to be killed off. You can see her petulance in the high school years, sporting punk rocker red hair with a smug look on her face at one point. But even that was a lucky bounce – that’s how some teenage girls act.

The creative team anchored all that uncertainty with sure bets cast as the divorced parents. The father is played by Ethan Hawke, at this point Linklater’s doppelganger (look at a picture of Hawke in BEFORE MIDNIGHT and compare it to a photo of Linklater, the resemblance is striking), who is used to revisiting the same characters in the trilogy of BEFORE movies. Patricia Arquette, who has never been asked to do something this ambitious before, portrays the mom. She was the standout. The artist formerly known as Alabama Worley has the most impressive transformation in the film while keeping her sh-tty taste in men intact. It must have been something for Linklater to have the outline in his head, a sketch of what he wanted to accomplish, then watch all these performers spike his punch bowl with such verve and life.

 

Linklater, Coltrane, Hawke and Arquette

While on the subject of spiking drinks, let’s discuss the occasionally boozy plot. After a bitter, off-screen breakup with Hawke and a fight with a current boyfriend, Arquette, in hot mama mode, decides to sell her home (nice detail: the lawn has not been mowed in weeks, a domestic example of how she felt overwhelmed), move closer to her mother in Houston and go to college, with both her kids in tow. There’s a tough moment early when the young boy is driving away for good and his friend waves goodbye, and some tall grass obscures the wave. It’s played and shot as if it were more memory than matter-of-fact scene: he may not remember what the friend looked like today, but he sure remembers that grass. There would be more goodbyes. The meat of the middle of the picture is Arquette’s second marriage to a snarky professor who hides his vodka behind the laundry detergent, and finally, when her children’s lives are in danger, they bolt as a family. A third marriage comes and goes, but at least as the kids sprout up, the mother grinds her way to becoming a well-respected professor herself, filling her home with culturally rich and educated people.  The dad? He doesn’t grind away at it at all, and when he reels off some baseball statistics at a Houston Astros game, with Roger Clemens on the mound, one of the kids asks “Do you have a job?”  He doesn’t. But the Hawke character finds his way in the end, too, and offers great advice to the son about girls, and genuine warmth to the daughter when talking about sex.

 

If this story played out with older actors playing the parts as the story progresses, it would be a decent coming-of-age drama with two basic themes: 1) hard work gives you a shot at a better life, but it doesn’t necessarily make you happy and 2) your kids should come first, always and forever. By the end of the film Arquette, after all those years toiling as a single and not-so-single mom, is a triumph to outside observers. They even fit in a scene where a restaurant manager tells her two teenage kids, who are seated around a table, that their mother inspired him to reach for a better life. Still, Arquette’s final line comes from deep in her world-weary bones: “I thought there would be more than this.” The dad, meanwhile, who didn’t possess the same go-getter attitude about a career, has a new family, an understanding second wife, and some financial security.  It’s not fair by comparison, but you can’t say it’s not true to life, and again, both provided enough solid parenting to guide two good kids into maturing into good people.

 

Of course, this isn’t a simple coming-of-ager destined for afternoon viewings on HBO. It’s an experiment, sprinkled casually with cultural milestones that would be important to adolescents as the Oughts passed us all by. The mobile phones get smarter, the music is familiar with that time, two Harry Potter books are involved, there is some President Bush bashing and later, support for President-to-be Obama, and Linklater can’t help but plop in that one Funny or Die sketch that practically invented the concept of viral content. And as always those kids are right there in front of us, with Samantha towering over Mason until he had a growth spurt late in the movie. The supporting cast ages too, obviously, and I enjoyed the family friend who helped Arquette during her confrontation with jerk-ff husband No. 2 getting another scene during Mason’s high school graduation, older and softer and beaming with pride.

No doubt BOYHOOD started as a big idea, and something I feel a community of artists in Austin, where most of this movie was shot, would discuss passionately at a late-night dinner party or diner. But the director put the rubber to the road and painstakingly made it happen. That should be celebrated, and I suspect critics and audiences and Hollywood insiders alike will enjoy the end result. Out of all the talented directors working out there today, I think there’s no one I’d rather have a late-night beer with than Linklater. But here’s the rub: I wouldn’t ask him about how the ending with the college girl isn’t an ending at all, just another moment in Mason’s life. I’d ask about the process of capturing Coltrane’s life on camera. Yes, I liked the story well enough. But I love how the story came to pass.

 

 

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

STARTING FIVE

Note: There’s an ‘L” in my surname. I never directed the Ohio State marching band. Just like there’s no “L” in Greg Auman’s name…and he never directed the Allman Brothers.

The Gladiators have won three games this season on the final play of regulation

1. Cleveland Rocks  Ohio Players

The Cleveland Gladiators, an Arena Football League team, are 16-1 with one game remaining, at Tampa tomorrow night. They’ll have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs all the way to the ArenaBowl on August 23. Wouldn’t it be funny if a team ended the city’s 50-year playoff famine before Johnny Manziel or LeBron James ever suited up?

My story in Newsweek here

2. As Dad Doubles Down on the Oakland A’s…

I’m so glad I talked my dad out of taking Brazil.

Hilarious moment from abroad, brought to our attention courtesy of “Last Week Tonight” with John Oliver. Before the World Cup, Singapore ran an anti-gambling ad in which a little boy is downcast because his father “bet my savings on Germany.”

But Germany won!

(Didn’t anyone at the ad agency realize that die Mannschaft was a favorite? Or did they just go on the whole “a European side has never won a World Cup on South American soil” maxim? Listen, if you want an ad like this to work, you always go with, “My dad bet my life savings on England. ENGLAND!”)

I’d like to see an updated ad in which the dad is one of Singapore’s most successful touts, promising “mortal locks” on field hockey and cricket matches.

3. Lupica’s List

Joe Girardi, who won a World Series ring as both a player and manager, did not make the list; Tom Coughlin did

So the New York Daily News releases a list of the “50 Most Powerful Figures in New York Sports” (No. 1, James Dolan, a benefactor of nepotism who’s decided to victimize all of us because of it). One sports writer makes the list: Mike Lupica at No. 21…who writes for the New York Daily News and whom I imagine believes he should be higher on that list.

Notably not on the list? Michael Kay, who has been the TV voice of the Yankees since 2002 and who also has an afternoon sports talk show on WEPN-FM; the New York Post’s longtime acerbic sports media columnist, Phil Mushnick; anyone from The New York Times, including well-respected sports media columnist Richard Sandomir; any player from the New York Jets (okay, that’s understandable); not a single local sports anchor, including long-time WNBC anchor Bruce Beck or highly regarded Al Trautwig; Walt Frazier or Mike Breen, who’ve been doing the Knick games for years; and while longtime New York Mets media relations gatekeeper Jay Horwitz is included (at No. 50), Jason Zillo, who has performed the same job for the Yankees for more than 15 years and who is very well-liked and highly regarded, is not.

It comes off as a list of people who 1) you just cannot exclude or 2) Lupica cronies. I imagine he had to have vetted the list.

4. One Reporter’s Gaza Odyssey

Last week NBC foreign correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin, who personally witnessed the attack on a Gaza beach in which four boys playing soccer were killed, was a high-profile face of the Israel-Gaza conflict. Mohyeldin, who is Egyptian and American and is fluent in Arabic, has reported from inside Gaza during previous conflicts.

Then Mohyeldin was pulled out of Gaza by NBC in favor of its top dog foreign correspondent, Richard Engel. In fact, on the day of the strike that killed the boys, NBC Nightly News had Engel report the story from Tel Aviv–as opposed to Mohyeldin.

One of three things were happening here: 1) Someone high up at 30 Rock thought that Mohyeldin’s reporting leaned toward the Palestinian side, 2) Engel was asserting his alpha-dog privilege or 3) NBC was afraid that its viewers wouldn’t respond as well to Mohyeldin, or to someone who has a name like his, or looks like him (i.e., not Jewish), as they might to Engel, who is admittedly a familiar face and a highly regarded reporter–and has a name and a face that is not as alienating to Middle America.

It may have been a little of all three, though mostly No. 3. NBC, which first pulled Mohyeldin out of Gaza for “safety concerns” before immediately installing Engel there, has been called out for its hypocrisy. And so now the Peacock has returned Mohyeldin to the Palestinian settlement.

Why do network executives make life so hard on themselves? My experience is because they think they’re the only people in the room with a functioning brain.

5. It’s A Shame About Ray

Nevermore?

Our latest Get Rich Slow idea, a daily sports show that takes umbrage on an issue, The Daily Harrumph, has yet to be picked up by the networks. So I guess we’ll just have to discuss Ray Rice here. Not much to say other than that, yes, two games seems rather lenient.

Did we see what happened inside the elevator between Rice and Janay Palmer, then his fiancee and now his wife? No. Is that relevant? Honestly, I don’t know. Do I agree with Clay Travis, whose Fox Sports column on the issue concluded that it’s society’s fault, and here I quote, “that’s our fault, not the NFL’s?” Heck no. One of my favorite teachers of all time, Jack Labonte, used to say that the “it’s society’s fault” catch-all argument was “a piece of crap” that people use when they’re too lazy intellectually to delve into the actual reasons. I agree.

If you think the punishment is too lenient, it’s the NFL’s fault. It’s not ours.

Personally, striking a woman is never defensible (Jay-Z handles righteously irate and hostile females in elevators with much more aplomb; maybe the NFL should show that video in its next rookie orientation). And Raven coach John Harbaugh should understand how bad he looks when he answers a question about Rice’s suspension with, “It’s not a big deal.”

This steamed rice is nowhere near as hostile

The only against-the-mean thing that I will say is this: As a member of the media, I’m finding the media’s instant I-wasn’t-there-but-I-know or I-don’t-live-in-that-world-but-I-know approach to these daily controversies (Tony Dungy, Rice, etc.) tiresome. At a certain point you have to understand that there’s some nuance to situations, and that the people closest to the situations, who live within the situation, may have a better grasp of it than the guy seated in front of his lap top.

On the surface, Is Ray Rice knocking out a woman a deplorable crime that deserves more than a two-game suspension? Yes. Is that all there is to this? I don’t know. Do you?

Reserves

Velvet ropes sold separately

Lambo Field

This vehicle, and those velvet ropes, belong to Seattle Seahawk running back Marshawn Lynch. He’s an immensely talented player, and he’s holding out for more money. Which he has a right to do –Seattle simply won’t pay him, and we’ll wait to see who blinks first.

Lynch, clearly, is no pauper. Nor is the man who signs his checks. It’s not about fair, it’s not about whether Lynch “needs” a raise. It’s simply about the old Madonna tune –yes, a Madonna tune from the film “Dick Tracy”– (“Nothing’s Better Than) More” and about leverage. We’ll soon find out who has it.

Madonna, by the way, is worth $1 billion.

Where in the World?

Yesterday: the Mercury City Tower in Moscow, Europe’s tallest building

Not Casterly Rock

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

STARTING FIVE

Three weeks after Angell was born, the Cleveland Indians won the 1920 World Series, five games to two, over Brooklyn

1. Angell in the Outfield (and Infield)

Roger Angell, baseball’s poet laureate whose prose has run in the New Yorker  (that magazine that never puts photos on its cover) for decades, is at long last being inducted into Cooperstown this weekend. Why the delay? Angell is not an actual member of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) as he does not actually cover a beat for a newspaper. SI‘s Tom Verducci, a future Hall of Famer himself, profiled Angell for the magazine this week.

2. Aviation’s Awful Week

You already know about MH 17 and the 296 lost passengers and crew. The Dutch welcomed their dead back yesterday.

But just in the last 24 hours, a TransAsia Airways turboprop plane that was attempting to land in a thunderstorm on the island of Penghu, near Taiwan, crashed on its second attempt. There were 47 fatalities.

Yesterday also, Haris Suleman, an Indiana teenager who with his dad, Babar, was attempting to fly around the world in 30 days in their prop plane crashed near Samoa. Haris died and Babar is still missing.

And just last night, an Air Algeria Flight, AH 5017, lost contact with air traffic control en route from Burkina Faso to Algiers. There are 116 people on board. The flight took off from the capital of the land-locked African nation which, if you know its name without looking it up, you’re a far better master of political geography than I. I can’t even spell it, but here goes, “Ouagadougou.” (“You’re too, shy-shy/Hush, hush/Eye to eye“)

3. Dim Whitlock

What’s that thing where you label an entire race, creed or color of people as all having the same trait, particularly if it’s a trait that is a negative one? What do they call that again? I dunno.

Anyway, ESPN’s Jason Whitlock appeared on “Olbermann” recently and did his very best to become the show’s first guest to also be that night’s “World’s Worst Person” by declaring that Canadians “don’t want it as much,” the “it” being championships.

Let’s leave Whitlock behind; he’s long since proven that he’s a joke and often a disgrace. What I hope for is that Olbermann will be Olbermann. If Whitlock or any other national figure had said this off his program, Keith would have lambasted him on air and probably given him a WWP dishonor. But since Whitlock is a fellow member of the WWL Cult, and since he is appearing on Keith’s program, he just received a gentle chiding. Why? Why won’t Olbermann be as objective and passionately righteous with ESPNers as he is with everyone else? It’s holding back his show.

4. Bringing Up “The Baby”

I would NOT want to change that diaper

So I used to host this little film festival in my apartment in the dead of winter in which friends each brought a film, then we sat around and watched the films, made fun of the one our friend Mark B. brought (even if it was good…only because we knew how much thought he’d put into selecting the movie and because it would upset him; we were wonderful friends that way), eat chili, get gassy, and eventually pass out. We called it the Johndance Film Festival.

Anyway, if the festival is ever revived, I’m bringing “The Baby,” a horror movie I recently caught at about 2 a.m. on Turner Classic. It was released in 1973 and is the story of a 21 year-old man whose mother and sisters –both of whom are runway model smokin’– still treat him like an infant. He doesn’t walk or speak and is confined to a crib, though there doesn’t seem to be anything mentally or physically wrong with him. It’s good creepy. Check it out if you get the chance.

5. New Feature: Humans Who Stoke Our Inferiority Complex

z

This is Rula Jebreal. She is a Palestinian/Italian journalist who grew up in an orphanage. She became a physiotherapist, then the first foreign anchorwoman in Italian television history, then a best-selling author, then a documentary film maker, then an MSNBC contributor. She also speaks five languages.

Jebreal made waves recently when she criticized MSNBC for, in her opinion, being egregiously one-sided in its Gaza-Israel conflict coverage. If she’s not a panelist on “Real Time” within the next month, I’ll be surprised.

Reserves

Roll Tide the Knot

We’d like to pat ourselves on the back with the restraint that we showed in our coverage (non-coverage) of the A.J. McCarron-Katherine Webb nuptials, but the wedding took place on the weekend of the World Cup final and we just weren’t paying attention. We missed it. In an effort to maintain our integrity, we’ll only post this pic that the new bride posted from their honeymoon as a link.

Where in the World?

Yesterday: Corinth Canal, Greece (Nicely done, Crash)

Hint: Tallest building in a certain continent

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

STARTING FIVE

Headley already has more walk-off hits this season than Derek Jeter…because Jeter’s so overrated.

1. Chase Heddy (“That’s Headley!”)

On Tuesday Chase Headley woke up in Chicago, probably in a swank hotel in The Loop, ready to play a game of baseball that night in an iconic ballpark. And he did–but it would not be Wrigley Field. At about 11:30 a.m. Headley was informed that he’d been traded to the New York Yankees, so he promptly hopped a flight –most likely to LaGuardia– and suited up in pinstripes for that night’s game at Yankee Stadium.

The Yanks and Rangers battled 12 scoreless innings (not enough scoring in baseball–so boring!). Then the Rangers scored a run in the top of the 13th. Then the Yankees tied ‘em in the bottom of the inning. Then, in the bottom of the 14th, Heddy (“That’s Headley!”), who entered the game around the 5th or 6th inning and was 0-for-3 batting ninth, poked a game-winning single to left-center.

True Yankee.

Headley is wearing No. 12. The only Yankee who is and who can possibly wear a lower number –the others are all retired or soon will be–is lead off hitter Brett Gardner, who wears No. 11.

2. Taylor is the New Fetching

Schilling, beaming, signing ‘graphs before her appearance

So, I’ll confess: I haven’t seen “Orange is the New Black” because I don’t subscribe to NetFlix. And I don’t get out to many Nicholas Sparks films, so I hadn’t seen “The Lucky One.” And while, yes, she was marvelous in “Argo” as Ben Affleck’s wife, she only had one scene, the last scene. And I don’t recall if she even had a line.

So I really didn’t know much about Taylor Schilling. Last night, though, she appeared on Letterman and now I may have a crush. Funny, smart, self-effacing, lovely and utterly thrilled to be seated next to Dave. Here’s a clip that captures much of her charm (watch at :29), and then a later one. At the end I think she wanted to give Dave a hug, but then she pulled back some. Dave still gave her the coveted kiss on top of the hand, which signifies that you went over and above the call of duty as a female guest.

It’s funny. You watch her on Craig Ferguson and there’s lots of uncomfortable flirting, mostly in one direction. The interview with Dave is much less awkward.

3. Grass Half Full

Now also available for wedding receptions and exorcisms

That’s Notre Dame Stadium yesterday, as they install the Field Turf. I’ll reserve judgment for now, but I’ve always preferred natural to artificial turf. I’m told that the stadium will now be available for multi-purpose use, such as Tommy Shaw concerts (you’ll get that if you were a student in the spring of ’85) or perhaps a Bookstore semi-final.

We’ll miss you more than the grass

The biggest visual differences, besides the texture of the grass, going forward? 1) An interlocking ND at midfield, which I like, and 2) no Alex Flanagan, which I don’t like.

4. Rom-Com Rubes

Bringing Up Baby: Cat got your tongue?

So, Grantland.com decides to do a “Rom-Com Hall of Fame”, but since it’s Grantland, which is an arm of ESPN, an entity that firmly believes that the earth did not begin to spin until 1979, their list is limited to the past 25 years…because “When Harry Met Sally” invented the rom-com, or so they say.

Which is ridiculous and myopic.

The “modern rom-com” can’t hold a candle, much less a Roman candle, much less a “Roman Holiday”, to the greatest Rom-Coms of all time. And you need not be a fossil to appreciate or know this. Sanaa Lathan? Jennifer Lopez? Colin Firth?

Gents (and Ladies), may I suggest Cary Grant? Deborah Kerr? Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy?

I’m not saying that the ONLY good Rom-Coms are the old ones. What I am saying is if you are even going to pretend to have an astute discussion on the genre, you start with the following: “It Happened One Night.” “The Thin Man.” “An Affair To Remember.” (watch that scene; notice how much is said that’s not in the dialogue) “Bringing Up Baby.” “Roman Holiday.” (Then go back and watch “An Affair To Remember” once more, because the first 10 minutes have simply the best banter in the history of Rom-Coms).

I don’t mind that the average Grantland reader doesn’t know this. I do mind that Grantland, which purports to edify the masses, chooses not to know this. Harrumph-ity do!

5. Tour de France Update

He’s obviously doping

I’m in a rush this a.m. so I’m just going to leave this spot blank and depend on MH’s most loyal reader to fill in below in the Comments section with today’s update on the Tour de France. :)

Reserves

Hipster Ennui

Summer is the season for pranks in New York City. You’ll recall that the Human Fly, George Willig, who scaled the World Trade Center, and Philippe Petit, who tight-roped across it, did so in the summer time. So over night Monday, some one(s) scaled the Brooklyn Bridge and replaced the American flags with white flags.

I did like the New York Post headline: “HIPSTERS SURRENDER.

The police are still searching for the pranksters, while I phone my 23 year-old friend A.J. and innocently ask him what he was doing in the pre-dawn hours of Tuesday morning.

Where in the World?

Yesterday: Yunnan Mountains, China

Hint: Not Panama

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

STARTING FIVE

This year’s Badwater 135 did not go through Death Valley, but still covered 135 scorching miles in central California

1. Bad Ass

Yesterday at 8 a.m. was the start of the annual Badwater 135 Ultramarathon, one of the more insane races in or out of the continental U.S.A. Since the race’s inception in 1987, competitors have started at Badwater Basin in Death Valley National Park, the lowest spot in the continental U.S., and finished at the base of Mount Whitney, the highest spot in the continental U.S. This year, citing safety concerns (“Booo)!”, the National Park Service prohibited the race from being staged inside Death Valley National Park, so the new start is taking place at Lone Pine. It is still 135 miles in length, though, and the extremes will actually be more severe: Previously: 13,000 feet of ascent, 4,700 feet of descent. 1014: 17,000 feet of ascent, 12,700 feet of descent. The race began with 98 runners –invitation only. The winner, Harvey Lewis, a teacher at the Cincinnati School for Creative and Performing Arts, came in at 23 hours, 52 minutes and 55 seconds.

2. Miles Apart, Offensively

Petco, where hometown hitters routinely take the collar

Approximately 93 miles, and some of America’s most exclusive real estate (including Camp Pendleton, home to a massive U.S. Marine and SEAL Team base) separate Angels Stadium of Anaheim and Petco Park, the latter of which is home to the San Diego Padres. Mileage-wise, they’re pretty close. Runs-wise? The Angels have scored 491 runs, the most in baseball. The Padres have scored 189, the least. The Angels, as a team, are batting .268 (3rd-best) while the Padres are batting .215, the worst. The Angels have perhaps baseball’s best all-around player, All-Star Game MVP Mike Trout. The Padres just traded their RBI leader, 3rd baseman Chase Headley, to the New York Yankees.

3. From Hamas to James

Martin Fletcher, reporting from Gaza in Frank Costanza’s cabana-wear…

Let’s tie two seemingly –no, two actually–unrelated events involving sovereign areas with a border on the Mediterranean Sea. Here’s Jon Stewart last week knocking Israel for its “warnings” before it strikes the Palestinian homeland of the Gaza Strip (“an amuse boom, if you will”) and here he is last night with a clever little device.

…while colleague Ayman Mohyeldin reports from Gaza, having pilfered Tony Romo’s protective gear

Meanwhile, in Spain, Real Madrid has acquired James Rodriguez, the breakout star of the World Cup, who scored a tournament-high six goals in Brazil. Real Madrid now have forwards Rodriguez, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, while their El Clasico rivals FC Barcelona boast Lionel Messi, Neymar and serial biter Luis Suarez. I’d call it a draw.

James, Suarez, Neymar,and Messi, the best players from their respective South American nations, all now toil in Spain.

4. Bean Counters

The original Chipotle in Denver

Stock in Chipotle (CMG) is up nearly 12% today (from $590 to $660 per share) after the company posted better-than-expected earnings figures. Better-than-expected should be the company motto. Founder Steve Ells, a former line cook in San Francisco, opened the first Chipotle in Denver in 1993 using an $85,000 loan from his dad. Ells calculated that he’d need to sell 107 burritos per day to be profitable. After just one month of operation, he was selling more than 1,000 burritos per day. Chipotle went public on July 29, 2009, at $95 per share. Within 14 months the stock had doubled in price. As it approaches its five-year anniversary, it is now nearly seven times its original worth.

5. Iron Man is a Rich Man

Downey: It helps to have a sense of humor about one’s self

As Tony Stark, Robert Downey, Jr., played a billionaire philanthropist, genius inventor, incorrigible playboy and the fourth in line to succeed whoever is currently ruling what once was Winterfell. As an actor, Downey is playing the highest-earning star in Hollywood. Or so says Forbes.

Where in the World?

Friday: Pink Lake, Australia

Hint: Where are all the people?

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

STARTING FIVE

Axis of Evil? Putin was in the same box as Sepp Blatter (L) and LeBron James just eight days ago…

1. What Now?

You’re the President of the United States and you need to address the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17. Even though it was not shot down over U.S. airspace. Even though it was not a U.S.-based carrier. Even though, at most, only one of the 298 victims was a U.S. citizen and that person had dual Dutch citizenship.

But you must address it. If you don’t, your enemies –and we know who they are –will taunt you for being cowardly. They want ACTION. Great. Do they want to send their sons –much less themselves– into conflict? Are they willing to sacrifice the lives of people they love over a Russian-backed civil war in a nation most of them have never been to or will ever visit?

Here’s a New York Times editorial on what Russian president Vladimir Putin is thinking. He’s been thinking this way for at least two decades.

What would you do? (Spoiler Alert: You’re going to get hammered no matter what you say.)

Oh, and then there’s that whole Gaza versus Israel deal. That’s the back burner crisis? Wow.

2. Up…and Down

After launching this ball into the gallery, McIroy underwent Tommy Armour surgery.

Rory McIlroy joins an exclusive list –Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods –of men who have won three major championships before their 26th birthday… while Tiger has his worst finish (69th) of his professional career, shooting a 294. And then Tiger’s weekend went from bad to gorse (!) when the 64 year-old captain of the Ryder Cup team, Tom Watson, shot a final round 68– seven better than Tiger.

Woods is still ranked 9th in the world –McIlroy is second, behind Adam Scott–but it’s curious how both have handled relationships and it begs asking if there’s any correlation. McIlroy dumps his fiancee, Carolyn Wozniacki, in not chivalrous fashion, but his play improves. Tiger is still winless in a major since the whole blow-up with Elin, who has since gone on to be her college’s valedictorian.

Does Woods, 38, have another major title in him? He’s certainly young enough. That’s not the issue.

3. Jim Rockford is Definitely Not In–Leave a Message

Hartley and Garner: an incredible ad team

R.I.P. to James Garner, one of the better manly men actors of his generation and arguably the best actor whose surname is a verb. “The Rockford Files” was standard at my home as a child, but partly because my dad somewhat resembled him. Great theme song.  The entire sequence of still images fit the mood of the show to a T. Very of its age (Styx meets Boz Scaggs.)

Also, in the Seventies, half the country thought Garner was married to the fetching Mariette Hartley, so convincing were the pair’s Polaroid ads. A Polaroid was a camera that also functioned as a camera. It was a long time ago.

Garner was known to an earlier generation as Bret Maverick before he became  Jim Rockford (same creator, or what we’d now call “showrunner,” for both: Roy Huggins). Also loved him in “The Great Escape”, but he also did comedy. It was almost as if Hollywood didn’t know whether to make him the next Rock Hudson or Robert Mitchum. Alan Sepinwall’s tribute… which describes Garner’s work as “relaxed genius,” which is perfect.

4. Bill Hader: Bibliophile

Hader is an anagram of “Read H.” Don’t know what the “H” I’m talking about.

Nice piece in the New York Times weekend edition in which SNL alum Bill Hader delves deeply into his love of books. Not bad for a guy who never attended college. I was hoping he’d go Stefon here (“New York’s hottest bookstore is….”), but it’s fun to read about a guy celebrity who’s so engaged in literature.

5. “To-ga! To-ga!”

Togashi takes it to the hole fearlessly.

Washington Wizards rookie Glen Rice, Jr., (25 ppg) was deservedly named MVP of the recently concluded NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, but maybe nobody (Jim) garner-ed more attention than five-foot-seven Yuki Togashi of the Dallas Mavericks. The spudly Japanese point guard, who is only 20 years old, scored 16 points in 30 total minutes of play.

Will he play for an NBA team this season? We’ll see.

 

 

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

STARTING FIVE

The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 flying over Poland two years ago

1. Bullet the Blue Sky

Here’s The Guardian with a purported recording between the rebels, realizing they’ve made a catastrophic error in their mission. Nearly 300 dead, half of them Dutch, including some of the world’s top AIDS researchers who were en route to Melbourne for a conference.

Two other noteworthy mid-July air disasters:

July 17, 1996…TWA Flight 800…. “Breaks apart” shortly after takeoff from JFK… 230 die.

July 19, 1989….United Flight 232, Sioux City…. 112 perish, though 184 survive.

 

2. Giant

One of the more famous NFL photos of all time was shot by Morris Berman of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

I’ll admit, I have only skimmed the first few paragraphs of Seth Wickersham’s profile of Yelberton Abraham “Y.A.” Tittle, now 87, but it appears that Seth just Gary Smith’ed the heck out of this story. Wonderful read. Tittle was a New York Giant from Texas, where the film “Giant” was set and shot.

3. Jerry & Jon

Stewart and Seinfeld had the best chemistry yet of any duo on “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee”

I look at “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” as a multi-millionaire’s little gift to us, but Jon Stewart ribbed his pal Jerry Seinfeld for “making a second career out of getting breakfast with your friends six times a year.” Here’s Stewart and Seinfeld in this season’s final installment, among the two or three best,  which starts out in a Gremlin, a vehicle that Stewart refers to as “a method of contraception.”

Of course, these two Jewish comics had to wend their way to the Holocaust.

Jerry: “The term ‘concentration camp.’ I don’t think it was a camp.”

Stewart: “Well, they did have bunks.”

4. Chasing the Bear

Asked what an “acceptable finish” would be in Liverpool, Tiger tersely replied, “First.”

Tiger Woods was 32 years old when he won his 14th major, the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines.

Jack Nicklaus was 35 years old when he won his 14th major, the 1975 PGA Championship in Akron, Ohio.

Nicklaus was 38 when he won the 15th of his 18 majors, the 1978 British Open at St. Andrews.

Tiger is now 38, and he is competing at the British Open this week…and has yet to win his 15th major.

The six-year drought is the longest in Woods’ career and has surpassed, in days, the longest drought of  Nicklaus’ career, which came between his 17th and 18th majors, 1980 and 1986. Those were his last two majors. Nicklaus drought lasted five years and eight months. Woods’ is currently at six years and one month.

Tiger shot a 3-under in yesterday’s opening round at Liverpool, which puts him just three shots back of leader and noted Lilliputian golfer Rory McIlroy.

5. (More) Death on Everest

From the moment that a bunch of Sherpas perished in an avalanche on Mount Everest last spring, the only question was which month the tragedy would become Outside’s cover story. Answer: August. The big surprise is that it’s not penned by Jon Krakauer, but rather Grayson Schaffer.