(The judges will also accept, “We’re going down to Liverpool to do nothing…”)
Last season Liverpool had a wonderful problem on its hands: Luis Suarez. The Uruguayan striker-biter led the EPL in goals scored by a wide margin despite being sidelined for five matches due to a suspension (re: cannibalism).
Suarez scored 31 goals in 33 games and was the consensus Premier League Player of the Year as Liverpool finished second and qualified for Champions League play. Then he bit someone else, in a World Cup defeat, against Italy, in a match in which Mario Balotelli (like Suarez, one of the five best strikers in the world when he’s on) played.
Suarez was suspended from soccer for like, I dunno, you look it up, a long time. So Liverpool sold him to F.C. Barcelona, where he will now team up with Lionel Messi –so arguably the world’s two top footballers on the same side.
And so Liverpool, which is right near the summit when it comes to world’s wealthiest football teams, has gone and purchased Balotelli from A.C. Milan. Mario was the world’s most notorious footballer before Suarez acquired a taste for human flesh. This should be interesting.
FWIW, Balotelli spent a few seasons with Manchester City, which is only an hour east of Liverpool, so he’s familiar with the region.
2. One of These Will Finish Fourth
The Emmys will air on Monday night…your host is Seth Meyers and I’m truly hoping for cameos from Stefon and Olya Povlatsky. But here’s the thing, kids. How loaded is the Best Dramacategory?
Game of Thrones
House of Cards
I’ve never watched the final two, but look at those top four. None of them deserves to finish in second place, much less third or fourth (for this reason, I’m 98% certain that Downton Abbey will win).
What will happen? I believe True Detective should win, but I think voters will punish it for hubris. You would’ve won Best Mini-Series in a slam-dunk, but you had to be pushy. Tough luck, Rust Cohle. Besides, none of us have ever even auditioned for Nick What’s-His-Name. Game of Thrones is excellent, but voters will not want to admit to loving it (Lena Headey will probably get stiffed on Best Supporting Actress in a Drama as well, though she deserves it).
Which would bring it down to a pair of AMC dramas, Mad Men or Breaking Bad. Both outstanding. Mad Men is about as genius as it gets, but Breaking Bad has bowed out, and everyone loved it, too. BB will win this year and then MM, whose final season is coming up, will win next year, as a way for the voters to say thank you.
Worth noting: Walking Dead not nominated, nor did it deserve to be. Also, none of the six nominees come from network television.
3. Awkward Silence?
Not sure if you’ve heard, but America still has a few problems with racism. Fortunately, we’ve got the Little League World Series to take our minds off the troubles in Ferguson. Let’s see who’s playing tomorrow for the U.S. championship. Here we go…lemme see…oh, here….it’s Mountain Ridge Little League out of Las Vegas, reperesenting the West, versus Jackie Robinson West Little League out of Chicago, representing the Midwest….says here that Mountain Ridge’s team is entirely made up of white players, while Jackie Robinson’s is entirely made up of African-American players.
The kids from Mountain West are named as if their parents’ favorite show was Saved By the Bell (and maybe it was): Austin, Dallan, Brennan, Zach, etc. The closer for Jackie Robinson West is named Marquis.
Wondering if the gang at ESPN will make any mention of this…
4. This Interview
You decide for yourself. Contrary to the Daily News headline, this is not a “disastrous” interview at all; it’s illuminating for what it reveals without even attempting to: the simmering-below-the-surface temper, the heightened concern about being “disrespected.” True confession, and this will not surprise you: I own no Taleb Kweli albums.
And, so you have it, here’s Bill O’Reilly of FOX News having returned from vacation (Bridge Hampton? East Hampton? Wainscott?) and unleashing some furor on the coverage of this story. Regardless of your opinion of FOX News, he’s mostly on-target here.
5. Sam Smith=Tom Petty
Right down to the same number of letters in the first and last names…
Thank you, Katie, for yesterday’s edition of Medium Happy: Unplugged, although I still don’t understand why you chose so many Meat Puppets covers. Oh, well. Am I the only one who searched for the trailer of Peace, Love and Misunderstanding only to find a naked Alice Cooper strutting about?
1. Remember Her Mane
Found myself seated on a hill beyond the right-center field wall for last night’s game between Taney Little League of Philadelphia and Mountain Ridge of Las Vegas. Love Mo’Ne Davis, but last night she was going up against the Yankees (not New York, but from The Bad News Bears) and I do believe Vic Morrow was coaching them. Worth noting: it was possible to visit Komodo dragons at Reptiland, just 15 miles south of Williamsport, and then watch the Taney Dragons play at Lamade Stadium last night. So that’s cool.
2. Pardo the Interruption
To commemorate the 40th anniversary of Saturday Night Live –even though the season premiere is, what, like six weeks away–Grantlandseeded the entire cast, from 1975 to 2014, March Madness-style (slap in the face to Julia Louis-Dreyfus and her husband, Brad Hall, whose bubbles burst; that or they’re in the Dayton regional) I’m impressed by the care taken in the seeding. For example, as funny as he is, Chris Rock was not that good on SNL. The 12 seed fits him. And while it’s difficult to imagine Chris Farley as a 4 seed in his own bracket, the other three seeds –Dana Carvey, Phil Hartman and Mike Myers–were very, very strong on the show.
Your No. 1 seeds? Eddie Murphy, Carvey, Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig. The easiest regional is the most recent (“Digital Kids”), while the first two eras (Adam Sandler, for example, is a 5-seed) are loaded.
3. Something About Sports
I like this heading. Thanks, Katie. Maybe we’ll just keep this.
The shortest player in Major League Baseball is Jose Altuve of the Houston No-Longer-Lastros. Altuve stands five-feet-five. He also is currently leading the big leagues in both Batting Average (.336) and Hits (175). When is the last time baseball’s shortest player led in either category? I don’t know, but neither Freddie Patek (also 5’5″) nor Eddie Gaedel (3’7″) ever did.
4. Great Moments…
…in the Ice Bucket Challenge before it even existed.
Jennifer Beals in Flashdance:
Bill Parcells, courtesy of Harry Carson, at the Super Bowl:
Julie Andrews, prepping for a scene in The Sound of Music...
…and Varys Targaryen, with an assist from Khal Drogo (thanks to MIB for the reminder)
5. Shake vs. Snake
I’m not savvy enough about the music biz to understand why Nicki Minaj and Taylor Swift would each release much-hyped music videos within days of one another during the dying days of summer. Only smart enough to know that they’re wholly unlike one another. If you haven’t seen them, here’s Minaj’s “Anaconda” (NSFP) and Swift’s “Shake It Off.”
People often ask me, “Katie, how come when you guest write at Medium Happy, you don’t follow the “Starting Five” format? And by people, I mean no one, and by often, I mean never. But the answer, my friends, is blowin’ in the wind. The answer is blowin’ in the wind.
Truthfully, whenever I write here, I usually have to spend the next couple of days avoiding angry phone calls from John, wanting to know “how I knew the password” or some such nonsense.
Everyone knows the password, John. Everyone.
Carrying on…oh, and I should tell you–there are no pictures or large fonts or anything fun like that today, because I don’t know how to make those things happen. My apologies, for that and, well, all of it really.
1. Jane Fonda Looks Amazing
Which is literally the only good thing I can say about the movie Peace, Love and Misunderstanding, which I just watched on Netflix. I’ve been trying to live more frugally this week since school is starting soon and the children need pencils, so instead of blowing 1.29 at the Red Box, I’ve been sticking to the already-paid-for Netflix streaming offerings, which are not great (not counting the documentaries—they are all great).
Anyway, Jane plays this old hippie grandma who never shuts up about how great Woodstock was, Catherine Keener is her uptight daughter who wears utilitarian dresses and Jeffrey Dean Morgan, best known as the dead husband from Weeds, plays the love interest. Now, some of you may be crying foul, that Jeffrey Dean Morgan is actually best known as the dead boyfriend from Grey’s Anatomy or the dead guy from Supernatural, and you might be right. The point is, he had the good sense to die on all of those shows. No such luck here—instead of dying he sleeps with Catherine Keener, and then we find out he also slept with Jane Fonda, and then we puke out all our popcorn. And then everyone realizes that we’re all just human and love is all you need. I would argue a good script also comes in handy.
The night before last, I watched Safe Haven, starring Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel. That was also terrible, but I have to admit I kind of liked it and if I come across it on cable this January, I’ll watch it again. She plays a girl on the run, he plays a widower, they meet and fall in love and there are cute kids and beach montages and rustic houses and adorable vintage bicycles and Julianne and Josh are both spectacularly attractive, and the scenery was nice. Heck, let’s call it like it is—three more viewings and it’ll probably be my favorite movie.
And finally, three nights ago I watched the Spectacular Now, starring Shailene Woodley and some kid who reminded me of a young, doughy Vince Vaughn. Or I guess I could just say a young Vince Vaughn. It was very after-school-specially-lots of teen alcoholism and growing and learning. Bleh.
2) I Don’t Care That Robin Williams Died
OMIGOD NOT REALLY! I’m not the devil. I just wanted to see if anyone was actually reading. Plus I wanted to take some of the heat off John for hating on the ice-bucket challenge. Now I see it was a terrible mistake. (You: I’ll tell you what was a terrible mistake! You writing for Medium Happy!) Please send all hate mail to John.
3) Something About Sports
By and large I believe this is considered a sports blog, so here goes: umm….OK, apparently someone called Bubba Watson is sorry for behaving badly at the PGA Golf tournament a few weeks ago. I guess he refused to participate in the long drive contest, swore a bunch and treated his caddy like the dirt on his cleat. Here’s what Bubba had to say by way of apology:
“If you look at the bigger picture, not competing in the Long Drive Contest was the first mistake. When you look at just me as an individual, that was the selfish part, because I didn’t agree with it but there’s a lot of things that I don’t agree with that I do.”
He goes on to say he’s not so bad, because after all he did give his umbrella to someone who needed it.
Can I stop pretending I follow sports now?
4) Governor Rick Perry Turns Himself In
Just kidding! Number four is really Jason Bateman. Last week I watched two back-to-back Bateman offerings and loved them both: The Longest Week and Bad Words.
The Longest Week was an unexpected delight- it felt like a mash-up of Woody Allen, Whit Stillman and Wes Anderson (something the director winks at in a moment toward the end) -smart, quirky and chock full of dry, hilarious dialogue and narration, not to mention it looked completely awesome. I swear I could watch it again with the sound off and enjoy it just as much.
Jason Bateman plays the heir to a hotel fortune who has never had a real job. He gets cut off when his parents get divorced and neither one wants to pay for his upkeep. He moves in with his best friend, played by Billy Crudup, who is aging very well and is extremely funny. Billy Crudup is in love with Olivia Wilde, and he stupidly introduces Jason Bateman to her. Jason Bateman and Olivia Wilde fall in love, Billy Crudup gets mad, Olivia Wilde finds out Jason Bateman is actually a jobless, clueless nitwit and she dumps him. In the span of one week. That’s pretty much the whole story—but it’s told so well! And everyone and everything is so beautiful! Watch it.
In Bad Words, which Jason Bateman also directs, he plays a mean man who exploits a loophole so he can compete in the national spelling bee circuit. Everyone hates him, but not half as much as he hates them. The stuff that comes out of his mouth–well, let me just say you shouldn’t drink hot tea while you watch it. It’s funny, kids, really funny—and then it becomes touching, and then everything makes sense and we realize he’s not mean, he’s just on a mission and the mission makes sense.
5) This Ad I Just Found On Craigslist:
50 Shades of Fun
Interviewing today for an office assistant position. After staring at the stack of resumes, an interesting thought popped into my head. What if there was a woman out there who can do this job and a little more for her boss? If this is something you might be interested in please send your resume and a picture in your reply. Like I said, interviews are taking place today and if your open to the idea this will guarantee you an interview today! Hope to hear from you soon!
I appreciate someone who is human enough to admit he gets bored at work and lets his mind wander off. I myself often have odd thoughts when faced with mundane tasks, like sometimes when I’m supposed to be filing invoices, I wonder what it would be like to watch a man slowly die of arsenic poisoning or what a brick to the temple really sounds like. Ha ha! Perhaps great minds think alike? Please let me know what time we can set up that interview. I couldn’t attach a picture, because I am wanted in Montana.
Last night Captain Ron appeared on CNN at around 1 a.m . Eastern time and in the midst of answering questions posed him by Don Lemon and Jake Tapper, invited them to hang out with him tomorrow (this) evening. You’ve never seen two cable news guys so excited. I’d love to see Anderson Cooper big-time them on this and demand to be air-dropped into Ferguson for this ride-along.
Meanwhile, a white photographer was tear-gassed and he became CNN’s top story for 20 minutes. He told Lemon, who asked him if he’d ever witnessed anything like this, that, yeah, he had because he’s from Albuquerque…where police have killed 26 people the past four years. Including this guy. And this guy.Gus Fring is impressed.
And I loved when Lemon asked the freelance photographer if he was going to go to the hospital. The photog shot him a “Child, please” look as if to say, “Hospitals are for you corporate types with health care. I’ll just rub some dirt on it.”
Also last night: CNN went to its London studios for late-night coverage, where Rosemary Church wondered aloud why police in Ferguson would not “perhaps use, water cannons?” And watch the look that co-host Errol Barnett, a man whom I am convinced was constructed in a secret lab to be the Africanized version of Anderson Cooper, reacts.
I hope someone shows Rosemary this video before she returns to air.
We still don’t know exactly how it went down between Michael Brown and Darren Wilson. What I do feel pretty confident saying, though, is that the police seem to prefer bullying to building bonds through civil discourse. It’s as if they’ve all seen Super Troopersand modeled themselves after Farva.
Yes, I’m a proud Notre Dame alumnus. I’m proud that I attended a school that excels on the athletic field –it won the Capital One Cup for overall athletic excellence in Men’s Sports this past school year–and in the classroom, where it is currently ranked No. 17 in U.S. News & World Report.
But, having spent four years there as a student and many autumns there since, I also know this: the football players are no more representative of the overall academic prestige of the student body as my friends in Dillon Hall and I were representative of the football players’ gridiron prowess.
To say that a Notre Dame football player is a typical Notre Dame student in the classroom is to say that I belonged on the two-deep because I passed Emil Hofman’s General Chemistry class (although I did catch a pass Steve Beurlein threw me at the end of practice one day; my roommate was a student manager and got me in).
Yes, I know –not believe, know–that as an institution Notre Dame does the right thing. But I also know that it opens the door for the investigation (no one has been found guilty of any wrongdoing) when it admits young men, almost all of whom are of good character, into a school where the course load is often over their heads.
Still, this video by 120 Sports is frighteningly cynical. If I’m to extrapolate Ro Parrish’s thoughts here, then recruits may be scared off of attending Oklahoma simply because they now know they can’t put a bitch in her place when she gets out of line. Sure, it seemed that OU would be fine with that when it accepted Dorial Green-Beckham, but now that it suspended Joe Mixon for the season, well…
3. “Tell Him What He’s Won!”
The inimitable Don Pardo, the greatest unseen voice of my childhood next to Mel Blanc, passed away yesterday at the age of 96. It was Pardo who told contestants on games shows such as Jeopardy! and The Price is Right what they had won, and it was Pardo who did the roll call at the opening of Saturday Night Live from day one in 1975 all the way to last May (he missed one year of 39).
Pardo actually joined NBC in 1944–at at time when World War II was still undecided.
Besides the near four decades of introducing SNL each week, Pardo is also a legitimate part of U.S. history. It was he who provided the first NBC News bulletin after JFK’s assassination.
Don Pardo leaves us at the age of 96. But he will receive some lovely parting gifts.
4. Our Tillery?
The young man on the left, Jerry Tillery, is rather large. He stands six-foot-seven, 317 pounds and is beginning his senior year at highly renowned (at least for football) Evangel Christian in Ruston, La. This photo may provide better evidence of his size differential to other players his age.
What I love about Tillery is that he’s kind of a nerd. The Notre Dame verbal commit –and I know, that means zilch — has a 4.0 GPA. But, he was spotted last spring taking in the LSU Spring Game. A change of heart. “To be honest, I didn’t go down to Baton Rouge for the spring game,” Tillery told a newspaper. “I was there for the state literary test.”
5. Johnny, Are You Queer?
I’m with Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead on this: don’t get your panties in a bunch over JFF giving the MF to the Team Whose Name Cannot Be Mentioned. They laughed, after all.
And, as the Oscar Wilde of American sportswriting, Jason Gay, wondered, “Um isn’t making people pay for preseason tickets also kind of an obscene gesture?”
The problem for the Browns is this: How much do you want your QB, whose not the next Peyton Manning, being Topic No. 1 on First Ache and PTI and ATH and The View? How much noise is worth this? Isn’t that what eventually made Tim Tebow quartbacka non grata?
Let Johnny be Johnny? Okay. But it’s beginning to suffocate the league. I mean, wasn’t Michael Sam supposed to be the distraction?
Finally, I am overjoyed to announce that we’ve secured the services, one day per week for as long as she doesn’t grow bored of it, of the utterly fabulous Katie McCollow to steer the MH ship. Katie’s pretty much my favorite humorist. Please, everyone, shower her with welcomes tomorrow and tell her that her hair looks nice.
Honestly, there’s too much happening. We’ll do what we can to cover it.
1. Ice Bucket List Challenge
When did donating money to a good cause become a blatant act of self-promotion? I get it: celebrities dousing themselves in a bucket of ice water draws attention. Which raises awareness. Which spikes donations.
But it feels as if we’ve crossed the Rubicon on this. Now it’s more like, “Well, if you don’t let someone videotape yourself being self-icing a bro, you want people to die of ALS. And you’re just mean.”
My dream? Someone issues Meadowlark Lemon the Ice Bucket Challenge and then he allows someone to toss a bucket of confetti over his head.
A few thoughts on the Ferguson crisis, some of which you may not like:
1) There are two sides to every story, and I’m not even certain we’ve heard one of them yet. To quote Fr. John Jenkins of Notre Dame, who was speaking about another matter entirely, the rush to judgment here may be “premature.” What I do know is that we don’t know. And that this eyewitness account is only going to upset some people more.
2) It’s been three days, and I still don’t know anything more about Darren Wilson other than he is a six-year veteran of the Ferguson P.D. and that he is 28. Where did he grow up? Where did he attend high school? College, yes or no? Married? Kids? Anything in his background to point to his having a short fuse or problems with minorities?
3. Of course no one deserves to die because they stole a pack of Swisher Sweets. And of course it’s coarse for the police to release that “DVD extra” as they grudgingly release Wilson’s name. But you know what? It IS slightly relevant. Why? Because it goes to Michael Brown’s state of mind when he was confronted by a police cruiser not long afterward. The photo of Michael Brown lying dead in the street is ugly because the entire situation is awful. But maybe a little patience is in order here.
4. I’m more than a little over the embedded media practicing the “Look at us” journalism. This isn’t Selma. Sorry. A young man was shot down in midday on a street by a policeman. We still don’t know all of the extenuating circumstances. Getting yourself arrested or tear-gassed doesn’t make you a better journalist. It makes you a voyeur. What happened to Wes Lowery of the Washington Post last week–that was real news. Everything since has felt like a battle for attention.
5. No, I’m not “blaming the victim” when I point out that in a town that is two-thirds African-American only 12% of the African-Americans voted in the last election*. The point is that towns operate best when their leadership is representative of the general population. If 35 of Ferguson’s 53 police officers were African-American, as opposed to three of the 53, my guess is that the Michael Brown tragedy is very unlikely to happen. Statistically alone, the chances would’ve been two out of three that the cop who came across him would’ve been black and would’ve handled it better.
*I’m told the 12% figure is for the entire town, not just African-American voters. Still, two-thirds of Ferguson IS African-American.
6. I’m sorry, Dorin Johnson, but you lost me. You went on the cable news shows and gave your account of the shooting without ever mentioning what you’d been involved in less than half an hour earlier. You surrendered the moral high ground. So I’m a little more skeptical of how the police cruiser’s car door just accidentally got pushed back in when Officer Wilson opened it –you described it as an accident.
7. Is everything that folks, from Bill Maher to John Oliver, are saying about the militarization of police forces true? Sure. In fact, as follower Jim Leahy reminds us, The Andy Griffith Show covered this ground more than 50 years ago. Do the Ferguson PD have a PhD in incompetence when it comes to handling the aftermath of Brown’s killing? Certainly. Will that photo of the Fallujah Invasion cops pointing their weapons at an unarmed black person as a mailbox in the background has the words “F___ the Police” haunt this town and this era of law enforcement for a long, long time? Yes.
But does any of that directly impact the evidence of Michael Brown’s killing? No. Time will tell.
8. A few African-Americans who follow –followed?–me on Twitter said that Captain Ron Johnson is a “puppet.” I found that a little sad. To me he’s pulling heroic duty, stepping into a racial gulf and trying to soothe a situation before anyone else needlessly dies.
3. Football Returns: Size the Day!
The opening weekend of the Barclays Premier League saw the NBC debut of the Men in Blazers, (listen to how often Rebecca Lowe giggles off-camera) a pair of awesome no-look, heel-touch assists (for Liverpool and Manchester City) and an awesome fan penalty kick that the keeper, much to my delight, still felt the need to save. Love that.
Last week –and we all saw this coming back in June– the Michael and Rog visited GFOPSeth Meyers.
Also, worth noting:
Steven Naismith Stephen A. Smith
Rebecca Lowe Rebecca Lobo
4. Story Arc of a Diver
Meet Jordan Windle, a 15 year-old Cambodian native who was orphaned before his first birthday and then adopted by a gay American man, Jerry Windle. Who is now married. Yesterday Windle convincingly won the U.S. Men’s Diving 10-Meter platform championships and he is now a legitimate medal threat in Brazil. I cannot wait to tell Ann Coulter!
Remember that scene in Hoosiers where Norman Dale (Gene Hackman) kindly informs the townie to hand him the basketball and that his help will no longer be needed? That’s kind of what took place yesterday in Ferguson, Mo., as Governor Jay Nixon announced that the Missouri Highway Patrol would, at least for the time being, replace the local police.
Some interesting info on Ferguson first and the militarization of police departments in general:
First, in 1970 Ferguson was 99% white and 1% African-American. Today it is 29% white and 67% African-American. However, 50 of the 53 police officers in the department are white, as is the police chief. You decide how that plays into the fact that 85% of the people arrested are black.
One suggestion going forward: If you’re not actually a minority, exploit that. There should be more blacks on the police force and in local government. They have the numbers to make that happen. That would effect change.
Second, and I got this off CNN while the TV was on “Mute” (although my remote also has a “Moot” button), but it said that militarized equipment given to police departments in the USA totaled $1 million in 1990. Last year it totaled $450 million. Thanks, Osama Bin Laden. Nothing like good old-fashioned unwarranted panic to stoke the profits of the MIC.
2. Another Bronx Beauty
Like Phyllis, Lauren Bacall was born in the Bronx and then married a dark and handsome fella who made his few words count. Unlike Phyllis, she was 20 and he was 45 when they wed –and her husband, Humphrey Bogart, was already married.
Bacall was more than just a pretty face. She played characters who were a little salty, who possessed just enough cynicism to be challenging without being crass. “You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve?” she tells Bogart in To Have and Have Not. “You just put your lips together and…blow.”
(Although, technically, that’s bad information. You sort of pucker your lips and blow. This is why I was not allowed on the set. That and my parents were at least a dozen years away from meeting.)
Tinder is to Match.com what Chip Kelly is to Nick Saban. More plays with less time in between each one. So it’s sort of funny to learn that some of the New York Jets are using the speed-dating app while embedded (hello!) at training camp in upstate New York.
Here’s Sports Illustrated’s preseason Top 25 and The Big Lead’sTop 50 football players –as penned by Tyler Duffy (“Go Blue!”), which may have something to do with that dude at No. 50 (and no one from a school about 4 hours to the southwest being on the list). But, you can kinda see that.
You can always quibble with such lists –I’d have included Arizona State’s Taylor Kelly and Notre Dame’s Jaylon Smith –but there are no egregious omissions.
This list, though, of the “50 Best College Towns,”is indefensible. Austin, Tex., arguably the best college town in the country is not included. And Athens and Eugene, both of which are in my top 10 (and most others’), fail to crack the top 35.
5. Great Jones
C’mon, who does he look like? A l’il bit, as Robert DeNiro might say, a l’il bit. Hint: He’s from Chicago and wears No. 23 (but only because that’s the uniform that fit). This is Pierce Jones of the Jackie Robinson West All-Stars out of Chicago. Yesterday he jacked three home runs and a triple –in the first four innings–as his team won their LLWS opener, 12-2.
And then you have Mo’Ne Davis,the female flamethrower out of Taney Little League in Philadelphia (the local favorite). There are eight U.S. teams in the 16-team bracket in Williamsport, and while Mo’Ne and Pierce are not immediately on one another’s schedule, they could wind up meeting in either the winners’ or losers’ bracket in a few days.
Here’s what happened: On Friday evening, as I left my weekly manicure and was phoning Ubercar for a ride to the heliport, I decided to visit Medium Happy to see if we’d reached our typical daily total of 100 comments yet. Instead, I got nothing. The site had vanished faster than Nora Durst’s family.*
And so I did what I normally do in moments of technological panic. I hurled epithets and phoned Tim “Oak” O’Connor, the genius who originally spoon-fed this site to me. Oak devoted a good portion of the next few days to correcting the problem while neglecting his son, “Acorn Oak,” a choice that will likely result in said offspring not being accepted into a reputable or even accredited college. As it turned out, our left axle was busted and the cam-shaft was also not firing properly (I have no idea if cam-shafts fire). So, thanks, Oak, for coming to my rescue. If I had any real skills, I’d offer those in exchange, but really, this is all I know how to do. And juggling. So, if you ever need a juggler.
Anyway, I don’t know whom The Guilty Remnant is on this hacking episode, only that there are too many viable suspects to list. Also, I sort of enjoyed the three-day holiday, I’ll be honest. But we’re back. And we (air hug) missed (air smooch) you, too!
*What?!? A “The Leftovers” reference? Two of them?!? Really?
1. Robin Good
So much may be said –and, as my brother notes, too much already has been (“Seed,” he tells me, “you must remind people how awful Popeye was”) — about Robin Williams, so I’ll just add three notes here: 1) this Golden Globes acceptance speech, in which he received the Cecil B. DeMille Award for Lifetime Achievement, perfectly epitomizes him in my mind. Why? Because there are a few moments of genius, just as many that have true warmth, and then there’s a few jokes that you just wish he’d edited out. The kind that make you squirm a little. In a 60 Minutes profile done on him in the 1980s, Williams even said that there were times where his brain wanted to pull him aside and ask, “Why did you just say that?”
I mean, sure, I’ll linger on Dead Poets Society and Good Will Hunting if they’re on, but does anyone stop what they’re doing to watch Jumanji? Hook? Patch Adams?
2) In the late spring of 1989, Dead Poets Societywas released. At the time I was dealing with a very similar quandary that the character Neil was facing. In retrospect you understand that Neil’s choice between medical school and the arts, of those two alternatives, either was better than suicide. Fortunately, I didn’t have access to a gun and, much like my hero Rust Cohle, I lacked the constitution for suicide.
The dual irony here? Mr. Keating could not prevent Neil’s suicide –some at Welton Academy would say he precipitated it– and then Williams himself committed suicide. Also, that the actor portraying Neil –Robert Sean Leonard–grew up to stay employed as an actor whose biggest role, and he was very convincing, was as a physician.
3) This anecdote, courtesy of Norm Macdonald, is worth a read. I call this “the Vinny Klunk Act” after a childhood buddy who rescued me in a moment of terror and panic (although we may need to update it as the “Tim O’Connor Act.”). People who perform deeds like this, well, they are all too few.
2. Put Your Hands in the Air/Like You Just Do Care
That’s some crazy stuff that’s going on in Ferguson, South Africa. I thought they’d outlawed aparthe–what? Ferguson, Missouri?
Even if you go to the far right and assume, if you choose, that Michael Brown was insolent to the policeman, why is a police cruiser pulling up to two young men at noon on a Saturday and is a cop invoking the F-word to tell them to walk on the sidewalk? Why are police dressing in camouflage gear like failed Army Rangers wannabes? Why is Michael Brown, who should be in the first week of college classes today, dead?
HBO’s Bill Maher was quite prescient on Michael Brown’s needless murder when, back on July 22nd, he ended his “New Rules” segment with a monologue titled “Blitzkrieg Cop.” Watch the whole thing, but here’s the gist of it, “Once you start dressing and equipping people like an occupying army, they start acting like one.”
There are definitely moments when we need the police to use force, sometimes deadly force. Most of the time, though, good community police work simply involves keeping the peace…which involves relating to people at the same level. And a sense of humor.
My dad, an 18-year sheriff’s deputy, once had to break up a racial riot at a jail between two minority groups. He and fellow officers quelled he melee (he’d never use those words) and then he shouted, “I don’t give a damn what color you are. To me, you’re all green!”
My dad waited a beat. Then he said, “Now, I want the dark green guys on this side of the room and the light green guys on that side of the room.”
They all cracked up laughing. That was effective law enforcement.
And I’m not sure if this is the best or worst possible weekend to release a film titled Let’s Be Cops, but I’m thinking it’s the latter.
In Tony Stewart’s defense: Sprint cars are an entirely different animal than stock cars, and you actually use the throttle to steer….Kevin Ward, Jr., should have never left his vehicle and definitely should have never walked toward Stewart’s vehicle…the track is poorly lit on the backstretch, Ward was wearing a black suit and helmet, and this was dirt, not pavement.
On the other hand: Tony Stewart was by far the most skilled driver on the track that night at Canandaigua Motorsporks Park….the fact that Stewart-Haas Racing competition director Greg Zipadelli would even utter “Business as usual” following Ward’s death is indicative of how callous Stewart is. Zipadelli doesn’t say that unless his team’s prized driver has adamantly stated that he is driving on Sunday and Zipadelli does not recant unless someone higher up in NASCAR gets on the phone and asks, “What in the wide world of sports do you think you’re doing?!?”…Four other cars eluded Ward, Jr.; granted, he walked directly toward Stewart’s car, but probably only Stewart knows how much time he had to avoid the young man…If you’re the Ontario County District Attorney, I don’t see why you at least do not seek an indictment on manslaughter in the second degree. The only question here would be whether Stewart was “aware of and consciously disregarded a substantial and unjustifiable risk.” As far as that issue is concerned, how can anyone involved say that it is resolved with 100% certainty.
You know what I haven’t heard a lot of in the aftermath of Ward’s death? A slew of NASCAR drivers stepping up and saying what a great guy Tony Stewart is, how he would never intend to bully or harm anyone on the track. The silence is telling.
Is Stewart guilty of second-degree manslaughter? I don’t know. But I don’t understand how anyone is able to say for sure that he is innocent at this moment.
4. “From the Crap Part of Stamford…”
This had to happen. Michael Davies and Roger Bennett, a.k.a. the Men in Blazers, were just too entertaining and far too British (I know, that’s redundant) on their ESPN World Cup podcasts and appearances to just disappear into the woodwork of an MLS season. The duo, both of whom now reside in New York (Davies has citizenship; I believe Rog is still waiting) belonged on a stage where they could opine on the EPL, and that meant NBC, which has the rights.
Because, let’s face it, compared to the EPL or La Liga, the MLS is tiny bananas.
(Someone I know very well called for this to happen back in late June.)
So, I don’t know how exactly they worked it out with Grantland, but Sam Flood & Co. threw some money at them and now MIB will be part of NBC’s “sokkuh” coverage. And I do hope they find a way to lasso Ted, er, Lasso to regularly appear. Pro tip for Michael and Rog: Just tell Sam how much you love hockey every time you see him and all will be fine. Also, wear lots of Michigan Wolverine gear. #Courage
I don’t have a singular photo of it, but watch The Big Lead’s video of Cincinnati Bengal QB Matt Scott tossing his cookies just moments before tossing a touchdown last night during an exhibition win against the Kansas City Chiefs. It’s promising to see that Scott hasn’t lost the touch he displayed back in college in Tucson…
Perhaps the question should be whether the position of quarterback lends itself more to regurgitation. Do quarterbacks, both actual and figurative, just endure more stress during a performance, which leads to spewing? Maybe. You say Cincinnati Bengals, I say Barden Bellas. “I saw the sign…”
2. “Outlined Against a Blue August Sky…”
the One Horseman rode again. In dramatic lore his name is…”
I love it. Ninety years ago (October 18, 1924) GrantlandRice was a famous sports writer who wrote a lede –after a halftime talk with a Notre Dame student media relations assistant during an otherwise desultory contest at the Polo Grounds–that inspired one of the most iconic staged photos in the history of sports.
UPDATE: Half an hour into practice, Kelly subbed out the first horse and brought in a fresh horse from the sideline that he has dubbed “Tommy.” All part of his Next Mane In credo.
3. Tiger Beaten
On Tuesday I wondered whether the question of if Tiger Woods could win this week’s PGA Championship from Val-HOLLA! was even the pertinent inquiry. To me, it was more to the point to ask how many holes he’d even play, because never for a moment did I think he’d play 72. Would he miss the cut and drop out after 36 or would he voluntarily retire –again–due to back spasms?
It looks as if it’ll be the first option. Tiger, three-over-par after the first round, tees off later today and is currently two shots behind making the cut. I find this “Far Side” cartoon illustrates Tiger’s current predicament better than anything I might say. Yes, he’s “gifted”, but he’s trying too hard and he’s definitely working against himself. And as poorly as his back aches, I still believe most of his problems are between his ears. Go away for awhile, even a year or two, and then come back in a proper frame of mind.
I believe my old colleague Sally Jenkins agrees with me.
4. The Return of Coach Lasso
In six minutes of delightful parody, Jason Sudeikismakes a film that is about eleventy billion times funnier than “We’re The Millers.” And cost a lot less to make –and view. The purpose, of course, is to promote NBC’s airing of the English Premier League, which begins its season on August 16th, which as you are well aware, is the second birthday of Medium Happy (and th 60th of some other publication).
Best line? When Lasso tells Tim Howard, over beers, “I think I literally have a better understanding of who killed Kennedy than I do of offside…it was the mob.”
By the way, Ted Lasso’s wife has gotten some major press lately…
…and also in that booth…
5. Bill Boredom
Just want to make sure of something: ESPN gives Dan LeBatard his own weekday afternoon show and titles it “Highly Questionable” and then is abashed when he pulls a highly questionable prank? And it wasn’t even highly questionable. It was actually mildly amusing (which may be a better title for the program?).
All I know is that 1) you reap what you sow, Bristol, and 2) I’ve canceled my “You’re Welcome, Scalabrine” billboard that was actually going to be a lawn sign in Roxbury, Mass.
I love this idea by Sports Illustrated to publish the “60 Greatest Stories” of its first 60 years, one per day for next 12 weeks (my math calculates that to mean only weekdays). The first one is Steve Rushin’s epic –literally, since I believe it to still be the longest piece ever to run in the mag– “How We Got Here”that ran on the occasion of the mag’s 40th anniversary. And here’s a terrific Q&A with Steve, a “Behind the Music” of how the piece came about.
At least a dozen Rushin pieces belong on this list, as does Jeff MacGregor’s rattlesnake piece, Franz Lidz’s profile of Don King, Bill Nack’s elegy for Secretariat (“Pure Heart”) and Gary Smith’s “Crime and Punishment” piece on Richie Parker.
What does concern me is that this list will neglect many wonderful pieces that were either written on a tight deadline (the story of ND ending UCLA’s 88-game win streak was terrific, as were Alex Wolff’s numerous NCAA basketball tournament championship pieces that had to be written on the tightest deadline imaginable, since the mag normally goes to press at about the time the game tipped off) or by writers who are no longer GFOPs.
Tim Crothers’ piece on Red Klotz, for example, is not only a classic but Crothers, then a fact-checker, penned the story on the sly –he knew that if he suggested it that it would be given to a senior writer–spent the cost of one Metro North ticket and a hot dog reporting it, and then turned in a 3,000-word piece that was just so captivating that the editors were forced to run it. The story behind that story is nearly as good as the story itself.
(Years later, Crothers, no longer at SI, pitched a story to the mag that they turned down; he then took it to ESPN, where it was nominated for a National Magazine Award for Excellence in Feature Writing, then turned into a book, and Disney even now has the movie rights to it. Some people never learn.)
A Florida woman (oh boy) is headed to jail for six months (what’d she do?) for having sex in the town square, actually in the gazebo (that’s not a euphemism). The woman, who is 68, a grandmother of 14 and has been married for 50 years, is about to become the post-menopausal Piper Chapman.
Meanwhile, the Bank of America has just settled with the U.S. Government for the sweet, sweet price of $17 billion for its MAJOR role in precipitating the sub-prime mortgage crisis that basically helped put millions of people either out of work or their homes or both in the 2000s. But, you know, that’s just the cost of doing business. No Bank of America executives will do even an hour of jail time.
This country’s priorities are simply F”ed up.
2. The Pooh Grass State
A refreshingly candid interview with University of Kentucky freshman football player Cory Johnson, who weighs 280 to 300 pounds. Asked how come his weight fluctuates so markedly, Johnson replied, “Because I poop so much.” My heart warms to know that the Don Yaeger School of Canned Quotage –the former SI scribe actually travels to schools and teaches players how to give boring, canned answers, and schools pay him for this service; it’s like a former fireman teaching you how to set fires; Do I seem a little feisty today? Yes, I have feist) has yet to corrupt Johnson’ s glib and candid soul. Poop on, my man! Poop on!
Yes, a “zombie” bit a fan in the arm during the Arctic Monkeys’ set at Lollapalooza in Chicago last weekend. And just because of that I’m going to post this awful Eighties tune…
4. Spurs and Heels
Gregg Popovich is one sneaky radical. First, he becomes the first NBA coach to build the nucleus of his team around not one but a trio of foreign-born players, and now he becomes the first to hire a female as a full-salaried assistant coach. Kudos to Becky Hammon, who played high school ball in South Dakota and was not even selected in the WNBA Draft out of Colorado State. Hammon, 37, is now in her 16th WNBA season. She perseveres. Pop obviously respects that.
5. Plumb Loco
I can honestly say that I’ve never dined at El Pollo Loco –but then, I would never tell you that I am dishonestly saying something, would I?– and I bet many of the people who have invested in it since its IPO less than two weeks ago have, either.
But they do watch the markets. And they have noticed that Chipotle (CMG) has seen its stock rise about 700% since it went public in 2009. So when El Pollo Loco, which is only in California, Texas, and a couple of other western states and specializes in fresh grilled chicken with a Mexican accent, issued its IPO two Fridays ago, the stock (LOCO) went, well, loco. From a start price of about $19 it rose all the way to $42, or more than 100%, in about four days. It’s currently just over $38, or still above 100%.
I think the money that was there to be made in LOCO has already been made, for now. Meanwhile, when will In-N-Out Burger go public?
Wait, you say, no Starting Five? Quel est le probleme? Well, I do have a bunch of items lined up (I fear my friend Keith Arnold has not listed Jesse Bongiovi in his Top 25 Notre Dame Football Players of 2014, for example) but I’m tight for time this a.m. and I wanted to discuss one topic that I think, as the kids say, will get some burn. Hence, our inaugural installment of The Daily Harrumph.
Our topic: The kerfuffle that was sparked by Screamin’ A. Smith’s unfortunate statements on domestic abuse, Michelle Beadle’s rapid and enraged public response, and the fallout. Here, then, are an Unknown (at this moment) Number of Things I Think I Think About the Screamin’ A. Smith-Michelle Beadle Kerfuffle.
1. I think that unless she is about to shoot you or stab you (the famed “Fatal Attraction Dispensation”) that there is never an appropriate time to strike a woman. Not even, if she uses her fists, in self-defense. I think we can learn a lot from Jay-Z on the latter part of this statement.
2. I think that Screamin’ A. Smith (heretofore, SAS) actually had good intentions with what he said, which is what made it all the more offensive. He was basically trying to help women by saying not to provoke your man, but by doing that, unwittingly, he was blaming the victim. I personally have some empathy for SAS on this issue because he was actually coming from, in his mind, a protective place. His intent was benevolent, though misguided. Your mileage may vary.
3. I think that Michelle Beadle (heretofore, Beadle) came from a very personal place in her response. Far be it from me to upbraid someone for going off all emotive and half-cocked on Twitter (been there, tweeted that), but the immediacy and anger of her her tweets tells me that this wasn’t an argument about global health initiatives. She has been in that woman’s hypothetical position –was it a hockey player? –and, as she alluded, has intimate familiarity with this issue.
4. I think that SAS never gets suspended if Beadle never tweets. Hence, his suspension is only partially about him telling women not to provoke men. It’s more about ESPN taking Beadle’s side. It’s a power play and Beadle won.
5. I think that if I’m Sage Steele’s agent, I consider an exit strategy. Beadle loves the NBA, has a glomance (a guy-girl bromance) going with Bill Simmons, and is an avowed Spurs fan. She just went all in with a pair of sixes and won. Now her chip stack is even bigger.
6. I think ESPN Suits (heretofore, Norby), with their abysmal track (and field) record of sexual discrimination and harassment, had to decide whether the greater good was to punish a high-profile on-air talent for using social media to admonish a high-profile on-air colleague, or whether to “side with Cheryl” and thus not throw any gasoline on the domestic violence fire. Norby chose the safer bet and Rob Parker’ed SAS.
7. I think there are a whole lot of ESPN talent who ain’t happy with how this went down. SAS is paid to bloviate, he bloviated, and he got suspended. A public on-air apology was not sufficient?
8. I think that, if she’d taken a breath and counted to 30, and then maybe asked, “WWBLD?” (What Would Bob Ley Do?”), Beadle would have realized that, like SAS, she appears daily on weekdays on her own nationally televised show on ESPN. And that maybe the appropriate response would be to ask her producer –ahem, tell her producer– that she wanted to take a moment at either the top or bottom of the show (the A Block or the…F Block?) to revisit SAS’ comments and to respectfully tell her colleague where he got it wrong. I think she might also phone him to warn him that she would be doing this before she did so.
9. I think that Peter King is a good egg but that he may be just a little intoxicated on his own bug juice. Did Cam Newton owe it to Peter King to approach him? Or might it not have been better the other way around? This is one King who really does expect you to bend the knee.
10. I think that deep down in places that you don’t talk about at parties, the brothers –and sisters– are laughing at white folks trying to tell them how relationships should be handled. Should a woman ever be struck? Of course not. Is the world that SAS grew up in a little different than the one Beadle was raised in? Yes. Should I say that domestic violence transcends racial boundaries? Yes. Is that what happens in actuality? I don’t know.
11. I think that Jason Whitlock’s comment on “Olbermann” that “Canadians just don’t have it’ (a hunger to win) was in many ways no less offensive. It was an ignorant statement that ascribed a qualitative trait to a demographic en masse. But maybe because we think of Canadians as white, and maybe because John Saunders did not rip Whitlock a new one on Twitter, he escaped scot-free. Whitlock was referring to Andrew Wiggins, who is Canadian…and black. What if a white panelist had said that the Cavs can afford to part with Wiggins because, well, blacks are known to be lazy? Yeah, then you’re getting Rob Parker’ed.
12. I think that, given that SAS’ comments and Whitlock’s comments happened within days of one another, that Norby should’ve meted out the same punishment or non-punishment to both. Didn’t happen.
13. I think that this would be an excellent topic for Keith Olbermann to lead with on his eponymous show because right now, in the first week of August, it’s the most intriguing sports media topic on the horizon. And the essay would be more articulate, and certainly not enumerated. But Olbermann cannot touch this because all involved are ESPN personalities, which is the essential flaw of his otherwise brilliant and incisive program. It’s what keeps the show from approaching greatness.
14. I think we need more Bob Costas in this world. He basically missed Sochi and these are exactly the types of issues that he’d handle with insight and eloquence, and he wouldn’t do it at halftime of your Sunday Night Football Game, which a few of you seem to take as a personal offense. How dare he, trying to edjumicate me!
15. And finally, I think women are going to continue to allow men to hit them as long as they don’t think they (and remember, sometimes kids are involved) are better off without them. And that men are going to continue to hit women when they grow up in a household that is devoid of a real father showing you how a woman deserves to be treated. Which is not an excuse. But, alas, I fear it’s the truth.