IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right

Actually, 7.69 seconds but still the fastest in Premier League annals.

Starting Five

R.I.P. City

In Game 5 at the Moda Center, the first and last buckets of the second half were made by the same man from virtually the same spot on the court: Damian Lillard from 34-37 feet out.

The first bucket put the Blazers up 64-60. The last, as the clock struck 0:00, put the Thunder away, 118-115. In between OKC went up by 15 points with 7 1/2 minutes remaining, but PTL (if one can OKC, the other can PTL) raced back.

Lillard’s rainbow three as time expired—he never even attempted to penetrate closer with All-Star Paul George guarding him—put a nice even 50 in the score book next to his name. Imagine, the size of those nads to not only want the shot with a chance to win the series as time expires, but saying to yourself, I think I’ll just do this from another zip code. That shot beat every playground-all-by-yourself moment we’ve ever had.

The Thunder, eliminated in the first round for the third straight year since KD departed, have now lost 12 road playoff games in a row.

Avengers: Endgame 7

In San Jose, the Vegas Golden Knights led the Sharks 3-0 in Game 7 of their first-round series. There were but 10 minutes remaining. This one was on ice in more than one way.

Then Cody Eakin of the GK cross-checked Joe Pavelski on a face-off, got a 5-minute major, and the Sharks, seeing blood on frozen water, behaved accordingly. They scored 4 goals in the next 4 minutes to take a 4-3 lead. Let me repeat that: Down 3-0, they scored 4 goals in 4 minutes deep in the third period. In Game 7.

But it wasn’t over. The Golden Knights scored in the final minute to force overtime. But then San Jose scored in OT to take the series. Madness.

Olivia (No Hussey)

de Havilland and Errol Flynn

Watching the original Robin Hood the other night and noticed that Olivia de Havilland plays Maid Marian, which means that in consecutive years, and before her 24th birthday, the Bay Area-reared actress had landed major roles in Robin Hood and Gone With the Wind. Not a bad two-fer.

A couple other things to know about de Havilland: 1) She is one of only 20 actresses to win at least TWO Oscars and only the third to do so after Bette Davis and Luise Rainer, 2) She seriously dated Jimmy Stewart, who proposed to her but she turned him down, 3) her sister was Joan Fontaine, who also won a Best Actress Oscar and 4) this is the most WOW! thing: though hers was the only lead character among the four in Gone With The Wind to (SPOILER ALERT!!!!) die, de Havilland is still alive! That’s right. She’s 102 years old (we’ll keep checking on this to update), which has to make her the oldest living Oscar winner.

No Luke Pass?*

*The judges are still mulling “No Luke Passion”

Former USC volleyball player, former SoCal based TV reporter and still tall Kelli Tennant has filed a sexual assault charge against newly fired L.A. Laker head coach and even more newly hired Sacramento Kings head coach Luke Walton.

Did you get all that? The alleged incident took place at a plush Santa Monica hotel (plush Santa Monica hotels are veritable petri dishes for alleged incidents…trust us) when Walton was an assistant coach with the Warriors. She had written a book, he wrote the foreword, she offered to drop off a copy at the hotel, he told her to park so that they could visit, she went up to his room, her allegations are that he forcibly pushed her down and groped her and welllllllllllllll, whatever happened, I don’t like her shot in court. Which is nothing personal against her.

By the way, Tennant never stipulated who got off the elevator first.

Meanwhile, Walton’s attorney has stated that Tennant’s claim is “baseless” and added, “The accuser is an opportunist, not a victim, and her claim is not credible.”

He’s 39. She’s 31. He’s 6’8.” She’s 6’2″ (we challenge you to find another news site story on this incident that supplies this basic information).

We’ll stand by and let you know what Stephen Moore thinks about all of this as soon as he issues a statement.

Canada Cry

North of our border, their long national nightmare continues. Canadia, the nation that invented hockey (and basketball, but that’s another story), will endure another spring without Lord Stanley’s Cup.

When the Toronto Maple Leafs fell in Game 7 to the Boston Bruins last night, they ensured that Canadia’s Stanley Cup drought, which began in 1994, would continue at least another season. Calgary and Winnipeg were knocked out of the playoffs last week/weekend, and Toronto, which has not hoisted the Cup since 1967, fell 5-1 in Boston.

How it feels to be a Leafs fan right now

The Montreal Canadiens, in 1993, were the last Canadian franchise to win the Cup. We’ve now gone a full quarter-century in a country where winter Saturday nights are built around watching hockey on television, without another Canadian club savoring victory.

If it’s any solace, and it isn’t, there’s a good chance that whatever team hoists the Cup in June will have a few Canadiens on the roster.

Reserves


At The Kofa, Kofa Cabana

Longtime Phoenicians know the experience of driving to Los Angeles (approx. 5 hours) along I-10 and also of making the near-parallel drive to San Diego (approx. 6 hours) along I-8 but most have never spent any time in the western Arizona desert between the two interstates. With good reason: there are no real towns and nary a road betwixt.

What most people, Arizonans and non-, are unaware of is that there is a dedicated wilderness area in between those two interstates. Fewer even know why it is there.

The Kofa National Wildlife Refuge is 665,400 acres of land (roughly the size of Rhode Island) that has been set aside almost entirely for the purpose of protecting Arizona’s native bighorn sheep population. The refuge was established in 1939—what a time to be alive, when civic leaders actually did what was best for the land instead of thinking of it only in terms of commercial development or what natural resources could be mined or taken out of the area.

The landscape, as you can see, is dramatic and beautiful. It’s also an afterthought to even the most adventurous of Arizonans. If there’s one quadrant of the state that is least visited/most forgotten, it is the southwest corner.

The herd currently numbers between 450-500

It should also be noted that the refuge might not exist were it not for a massive letter-writing campaign by Arizona’s Boy Scouts (is it any surprise that the refuge was dedicated in the same year Mr. Smith Goes To Washington was released?). Astounding, isn’t it, how so many boys’ hearts and minds are in the right place, until they become men and money-obsessed and then, well, the environment gets f***ed.

Here’s to a better time, when people respect the wonders of the natural world. Which is not the time we are currently living in, at least not reflected by the “leaders” we have.

Music 101

Don’t Cry

In the mid-Eighties Henry Samuel was homeless, sleeping on a friend’s couch in London, and wondering aloud if he sang okay. Um, yup. Seal has one of the most naturally ethereal (is that a thing?) male voices in pop music history. This tune, from 1995, only hit No. 33 on the Billboard chart but to be fair, America was a little worn out from the sheer merciless radio bombardment of “Kiss From A Rose,” that album’s first single, by this point.

Remote Patrol

Nova: Saving The Dead Sea

9 p.m. PBS

If for no other reason to square it in your mind the difference between the Dead Sea and the Red Sea, you may want to tune in. Remember: Red Sea, parted; Dead Sea, scrolls. Anyway, some geniuses want to connect the two seas via a desalinization plant in order to save the Dead Sea and, in the process, bring eternal peace to the Middle East. But you’d probably rather watch Survivor (facepalm).

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Starting Five


College Debt: Warren’s Piece

A day or two ago—we are too busy living an active retirement community lifestyle to keep precise track of time—Senator Elizabeth Warren suggested in a town hall two things: 1) eliminating student debt for millions of Americans and 2) making public universities tuition free. It should come as no surprise that if you Google “Elizabeth Warren” and “student debt” this morning the top stories you find are from righty sites such as Fox News or The Washington Examiner discussing the “slap in the face” to other Americans. There really is nothing quite like the American habit of being born on 3rd base and wondering how come so few people are able to hit a triple.

Our thoughts: 1) no college should be completely free. You shouldn’t be able to pay less for college than for your Netflix or Hulu accounts. But yes, public universities should be much cheaper, 2) far too many college grads are spending 10-20 years of their working lives being taxed for their schooling via paying back student loans on a monthly basis, and that’s before we even talk about grad school debt. It’s not only bad for them but it’s bad economically because that’s money they’d otherwise be using to purchase a home or all sorts of material goods and…

3) there’s something far too familiar and wrong in this corporate tax break ——-> stock buy-backs ——> only the corporation itself and its shareholders prosper environment about the massive student debt crisis. Now we realize there are thousands of colleges and universities out there, but the top 25 in terms of endowment have more than $4.3 BILLION in funds (but yes, most of those are earmarked for specific purposes). Meanwhile these schools are posting annual tuitions of upward of $50,000 per year, or a solid middle class annual income. So what’s happening? The very rich (the schools) are erecting a portal through which only the other very rich or the very poor (through need-based scholarships, and yes it helps greatly if you’re a minority) may pass. They have the capacity to make tuition more affordable for all, but they’re far too obsessed where the U.S. News & World Report is going to rank them next year to care about that. It’s an arms race on the south quad.

Drunk, stupid and in six-figure debt is no way to go through life, son…

We suggested this years ago and we stand by it still. If your high school senior really wants to go to a top college, tell them you’d rather take $100,000 and invest it in Amazon or Apple for four years. Let’s see how that would’ve worked out had we done that in April of 2015: AAPL is up 64% so that $100,000 would now be $164,000. AMZN is up roughly 400% so that $100,000 would now be $400,000. Tell your kid to enlist in the Marines or Army for four years. See the world. Meet Americans who are black, Hispanic, American Indian, and learn to work, eat and sleep among them. And yes, okay, perhaps get shot at occasionally. Come back a man (or woman) having seen the world (and/or Georgia) and with a far greater sense of purpose when you matriculate. And we’ve just eliminated years of crushing college debate. That’s what we’d advise.

Granted, that’s a creative solution to a sticky problem. Of course, top schools will still charge the tuitions they’re charging as long as their acceptance rates are at 10% or lower for applications (this may also give you an idea of how few teens are self-aware or realistic about their academic performance). But for the vast majority of American students, yes, state schools and non-elite schools should be far more affordable. It’s not only good for them, but it’s good for every American business that’s losing their dollars to Sallie Mae or whoever controls loans these days.

Deep Springs, Not Deep Pockets

When I was applying to college, we did not have the ability to research schools on line (we simply unrolled a few parchments and brought them to our toga-clad philosopher/mentor…). Anyway, you’d go to the guidance counselor’s office and peruse a book or two (or, again, like me, watch college football and see whose uniforms you liked best). This is all leading to a point, really: there was one school that truly intrigued my friends and me.

Deep Springs College.

This is an actual place. At the time what stood out about it for us is that its enrollment was between two and three dozen students (I seem to remember “Enrollment: 24”) and that it was free. But it was also a working ranch and students were required to do field chores. It also seemed to have an excellent academic rating (granted, if you read the school’s own description of itself, it sounds a lot like the deserted movie studio where the Manson family squatted for a year or two).

I think I wussed out from applying, but I sincerely don’t know how everyone does not know about this school. I also cannot believe that 60 Minutes or CBS Sunday Morning still has yet to do a feature on this, though I imagine some enterprising young producer will come across this blog and pitch it (Dear CBS: I’m really good at this sh*t; hire me).

Anyway, if you have a teenage student in the house and they’ve always wanted to attend college for free and ride a horse, this is your spot.

What Are You Doing!?!?

If it had been anyone besides Woj reporting late last night that the Phoenix Suns had fired first-year coach Igor Kokoskov, we would not have believed it. Igor (“that’s eye-god“) was a true breath of fresh air, a smart coach, and nobody cared what the Suns’ record was going to be this season. He actually did the right thing by putting the Black Hole Suns in position to draft Zion or Ja in June.

Earlier this month John McLeod, the Suns coach of my youth here in the Valley and the franchise’s all-time winningest coach, passed away at the age of 82. The mild-mannered McLeod coached for 14 seasons and 1,122 games at the Madhouse on McDowell. In the past 14 seasons Phoenix has had eight coaches and they’re about to hire their fifth in the past five seasons.

The coaching is, obviously, not the problem. Owner Robert Sarver is. From friends who know him: he’s a jackass who has no idea what he’s doing. Sarver’s legacy to me will always be that he forced out Mike D’Antoni, who is the best and most innovative coach this franchise ever had and simply for his influence on the game is a no-brainer Hall of Famer, even if he never takes a team to the NBA Finals.

Ray Ratto Is Why We Need Sportswriters Over Age 50*

We’re more than just a pretty face…

*The judges acknowledge that they may resemble this remark

We loved this piece by legendary Bay Area columnist Ray Ratto in Deadspin yesterday. Not only because it was written with some piss and vinegar (without the need to use profanity to express himself…what a novel idea) and was trenchant, but also because Ratto, who is in his mid-sixties, namedrops the defunct St. Louis Browns, a 1950s Bogart film (The Caine Mutiny) and a black-and-white classic from that era, 12 Angry Men.

When I was younger I learned a lot about pop culture and other stuff that had happened before I was born by reading literate sportswriters (Frank Deford, Roy Blount, Jr., Dan Jenkins, etc.) whose breadth of knowledge was so much more vast than my own. Now? I know how this sounds—to quote 60-something Wendell Barnhouse on this site yesterday, “I’m the old guy yelling at the wind”–but reading sports, mostly written by dudes under age 40, I’m constantly reminded (by them) that film comedy began with Anchorman and rock and roll started with Pearl Jam.

It’s not that modern classics don’t exist. It’s, far more than in my era, this adamant refusal to acknowledge anything that existed before their time (kind of the way ESPN believes sports began on September 7, 1979). I’m not making the “things were better back in my day” argument, but simply reaffirming, as I did in this space two weeks prior, that in order for a tribe to be healthy it needs to hear from all three factions: the young, the in-their-primes, and the older voices.

What a waste, and I don’t know another industry that does this, to have people build up 30-plus years of experience, knowledge and life wisdom and then just cast them aside when they are at their peak ability not only to contribute, but also mentor.* But hey, Bleacher Report would rather have a 23 year-old write for free and you can count on at least 3 “Endgame” references in that piece.

*And of course I’m referring to myself here, but I could easily provide a list of 10 writers who are marginally employed at the moment who’d instantly be better than 90% of the people you read every day.M

Moore Is Less

Let’s get this out of the way right now: Stephen Moore, who is a jackass, is being pilloried for comments he made about women in sports in general and Bonnie Bernstein specifically about 17 years ago. So this is not something he said yesterday or even this week. He may be more recently pilloried (if you are a fan of pillorying, as we are) for disavowing his love of the gold standard because suddenly, after years of advocating a gold standard, he realizes he’s got to do a 180 if he wants Donald Trump to appoint him to the Fed.

Is anyone surprised that an ardent Trump crony is a blatant chauvinist and misogynist? Really? Wouldn’t you be a lot more surprised if he weren’t?


WE ARE HERE

by Wendell Barnhouse

The author is an inveterate press row and press box professional who has written on deadline from 25 Final Fours and some three dozen bowl games. An institution around the Metroplex, this is his first column for MH and we’re thrilled to have him.

I am 65. My parents and other parents of those my age belonged to what has been labeled The Greatest Generation. A world war that cost millions of lives shouldn’t be a high point for a country but being at the forefront of helping rid the world of tyranny was America’s shining moment.

Since then, it’s been downhill … what, too cynical? Too negative?

My fellow Baby Boomers and I have witnessed an erosion of this country’s moral center. Not yet two decades into the 21st century and the United States is as divided as it has been since Appomattox. Granted, absent the Civil War, there have been numerous contentious and calamitous periods in our country’s history where the citizens might have wondered if the republic would survive. Obviously, it did.

It is conceited to speak for most Americans, but I believe there’s a majority who can see through the smoke and ignore the reflections in the mirrors. I would wager there’s a majority who understand that we’re at a crossroads and it’s time to demand better from our government, our politicians and our ill-functioning two-party system.

Instead, this is one man’s opinion and perspective. My background is over 40 years as a newspaper sportswriter; that hardly qualifies for Pulitzer or Nobel prize consideration. I have been fooled and led astray before. I’m smart enough to know that. My thoughts have evolved through observation. I think I can offer a pragmatic view to explain why and how we’re here.

Donald J. Trump became president in part because of cynicism and distrust that was born nearly 60 years ago. What we face now is deciding if Trump is a sign post. A dead end? An exit ramp?  Trump is either the enema that will cleanse the system or he’s just the first in a series of shit storms.

Robert Mueller and his team investigated and interviewed for two years and then produced a report of more than 400 pages. Mueller, ever the good soldier, followed his orders and the order of the law. He followed procedure. He handed the ultimate decision to Congress.

The evidence is clear that Trump attempted to obstruct justice. The evidence of colluding with Russia, according to Mueller’s report, is less clear but nonetheless obvious. What is clear and factual is that Trump’s minions were approached by and met with Russian intelligence agents before the election. Normally, those types of meetings woulda, shoulda, coulda been reported to law enforcement. Instead, it appears naivete provided a get-out-of-jail-free card. Folks like Donald Trump Jr., basically, were too dumb to know better.

As he has for most of his life, Daddy Trump will get away with it. There is enough in the Mueller Report to give the House reason to impeach on obstruction. There aren’t enough Republican senators with the spine or the love of country to provide enough votes for impeachment. This is like a trial where the prosecutor presents an air-tight case, but the jury is prejudiced against a verdict based on the facts. The GOP, forever the party that has clung to the rule of law, now only cares to cling to its waning power.

Senator Elizabeth Warren, possibly the best-qualified Democratic candidate for president and probably the least-likely to win the nomination, tweeted this:

To ignore a President’s repeated efforts to obstruct an investigation into his own disloyal behavior would inflict great and lasting damage on this country, and it would suggest that both the current and future Presidents would be free to abuse their power in similar ways. The severity of this misconduct demands that elected officials in both parties set aside political considerations and do their constitutional duty. That means the House should initiate impeachment proceedings against the President of the United States.”

To review, here are just some of the crimes (some misdemeanors, most felonies) committed since Trump became president.

  • Emoluments violations: Trump empire trading influence for money.
  • Trump inauguration committee over-billing for profit.
  • Wikileaks involvement in election.
  • Trump having lawyer Michael Cohen pay Stormy Daniels, Karen McDougal for silence; campaign violation?
  • Paul Manafort selling campaign research to Russian operatives.
  • NRA = largest Trump campaign contributor; 23 different Russian entities gave money to NRA.
  • Trump obstruction of justice firing FBI director James Comey.
  • Trump witness tampering telling Cohen to lie, then threatening his testimony to Congress.
  • Trump hiding/suppressing transcripts of meetings with Vladimir Putin.
  • Russia holding kopromat information that makes Trump vulnerable to blackmail.
  • Trump Tower Moscow.
  • Refusal to release tax returns.
  • Ties to Deutsche Bank money laundering and loans.
  • Ordering unconstitutional imprisonment of migrant families.
  • Declaring a national emergency (Google it if you’re fuzzy) when there was no emergency.

Just one or two of those should be enough to impeach a president. Many have compared the Trump Crime Spree with Watergate, but Trump’s malfeasance makes that look like a third-rate burglary (Ed Note: !).

Regardless of party affiliation, I’m naïve enough to believe that citizens with common sense ignore the fake news, “witch hunt,” presidential harassment bool sheet to see Trump for what he is: A lying, cheating con man, an empty suit. If he’s not impeached, when he leaves office (hopefully after one term) he’ll spend the rest of his life in court as the defendant in a dozen lawsuits. (You’re right, Donald. You’re f*cked.)

Trump has bankrupted his way through life and has never had to pay a price. Perhaps that’s why the MAGA hats admire him for getting away with it. If so, Superman’s favorite phrase – truth, justice and the American way – has been perverted. If Trump isn’t punished, there is no truth and no justice in the American Way.

My generation has seen the lies and the injustice from front-row seats. Perhaps we’ve become overwhelmed, jaded or just damn tired.

We’ve fought wrong wars in Vietnam and Iraq/Afghanistan where too many young lives ended and too many lies were told by our leaders to justify the reasons to fight.

We watched the first president to resign be pardoned even though he committed crimes to win an election for a second term that was already won. Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon because he thought the country needed to heal. That wound is still open and fresh. (And let’s never forget that Nixon committed a treasonous act by sabotaging Vietnam peace talks to assure his narrow victory in 1968.)

We watched another Republican president become involved in a scandal that should have led to impeachment. Ronald Reagan, though, was in his second term and Iran-Contra was Watergate-too-soon. The country was distracted by the excesses of the ‘80s – life in the fast lane, everything all the time. We weren’t being drafted for a war on the other side of the world and didn’t care about illegal arms sales to Iran to fund right-wing rebel groups in Central America. President George H.W. Bush pardoned six people involved in the scandal; his attorney general (William Barr) supported those pardons.

Who killed Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman? Not O.J. Simpson.

The bank executives who cooked the books and nearly caused a world financial collapse in 2008 are still making bank and never were charged with committing financial fraud.

Police shoot a black man and there’s video evidence that it wasn’t a “righteous shoot” but the grand juries and the court cases rarely produce a righteous result.

We have a Senate majority leader who rules over that chamber like a king. Mitch McConnell bends the rules and makes the decisions purely along party lines. His declaration that his main duty was to make sure Barack Obama would not be elected to a second term should have been reason to censure or expel. His mockery of Senate rules prevented Obama from even nominating a Supreme Court justice. Now, SCOTUS is, at best, a split branch with Chief Justice John Roberts left to cast most deciding votes. Like Nixon, he reportedly committed an act of treason by failing to agree to a bi-partisan announcement that the Russians were trying to influence the 2016 election.

You can do the crime and not do the time. There’s a Thanos-sized thumb on the scales of justice.

How naïve were our Founding Fathers? They set up three branches of government to provide checks and balances. It looked good on parchment. They assumed and hoped that the men serving in those branches would choose right over wrong, the greater good over self-interest, country over party.

Trump has cravenly trashed Washington like Godzilla trashes Tokyo. The Democrats in the House are worried that an impeachment charge won’t bring a conviction. The Republicans in the Senate are afraid of Trump’s 50 million Twitter followers. Courage and spines are in short supply.

My generation has allowed and observed our country to be FUBAR. True, it has “survived” Vietnam, Watergate, the 2000 “election” and the 2008 financial meltdown. We’ve always assumed that The System was designed to keep functioning. It’s closer to failure than function.  For some reason, generations need identification. It started with Baby Boomers, followed by Generation X, Millennials, Centennials. While cynical about now, I’m naïvely hopeful. Maybe Generation Fix is in the on-deck circle.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right

They do call it the Beehive State…

Starting Five

Christian Soldiers Onward

The hottest hitter, if not the best player, in baseball is Christian Yelich of the Milwaukee Brewers. On Saturday Yelich blasted two solo homers against the N.L. champion Dodgers, so of course they intentionally walked him the next time up and Ryan Braun hit a bomb to complete the 5-0 victory.

Three-plus weeks into the season Yelich, the incumbent National League MVP, leads the majors in home runs (13) and RBI (31). Earlier this season he tied the all-time record for home runs hit in the month of March (4) and now he is five home runs away from tying A-Rod and Albert Pujols for the most home runs hit in the month of April (14). Supply your own asterisk here

You Mad, Bro?

We’re old enough to remember the heated Boston-Philly playoff series (more than one) of the early Eighties so, no, hostile springs are nothing new to the NBA (Hostile Springs would be a great name for a MAGA-themed retirement community, by the way). Still, and maybe we’re just older, we’re not finding any enjoyment in the NBA playoffs because no one actually seems to be having any fun.

Patrick Beverly and Kevin Durant are fighting. Jared Dudley and Jimmy Butler are jostling, and being ejected. Demar DeRozan is tossing a ball at a referee and then being tossed himself. Where have you gone, Steve Nash?

Even in baseball, Tim Anderson (who’s black) is calling an opposing player (who’s white) the N-word, and being ejected, and this would have gone viral with certain ESPN media types if the pigments were reversed. Meanwhile, baseball guys, it’s April. What the WTF?

We love heated competition. We’re really over hatred and enmity everywhere all the time. If we wanted that, we’d watch cable news. Somebody, please, smile.

On the other hand/fist, if someone wants to punch out James Harden for this maneuver, I wouldn’t blame them…

The Mouse That Roared

There’s an entire thread that follows. Encourage you to read.

Abigail Disney, the great-niece of Walt Disney, had a few words to say about Disney CEO Robert Iger’s exorbitant income and the utter unethical practice of massive income inequality on Twitter. Last week, or two weeks ago, it was a schlep like me saying this. But when it comes from someone from within the family, and from someone who holds degrees from Yale, Stanford and Columbia (Disney has a PhD in English Lit) perhaps a few more people will stand up and listen.

Disney makes it clear up front that she personally likes Bob Iger. And that she has no problem with him receiving a massive bonus for what he has done. She just thinks, as do I, that one man earning more than 1,000 times the MEDIAN INCOME of a company’s workforce is, her term, “insane.” I agree.

Our Nigerian Prince


The man in the photo above? I love this man. This is Fr. Enoch Okpa, one of the priests at our local congregation here in this patch of the Arizona desert that a friend has dubbed Devil’s Gulch. I have never, through more than a half-century of Catholic services and 16 years of Catholic education, come across a priest more charismatic than Fr. Enoch.

Fr. Enoch was born and raised in Nigeria. Now he finds himself halfway across the planet ministering to a congregation that must be at least 90% white. Likely 90% of his parishioners are over the age of 50. And almost all of them are at least financially comfortable. He is a stranger in a strange land and yet his masses are packed. Why?

For one reason, because his message is so pure. “God is good…” Fr. Enoch announces at least once per mass. “…All the time!” we answer. Then he he says, “All the time…” and we respond, “…God is good.”

His homilies are impassioned but also insightful and, often, humorous. A few weeks ago, discussing the gospel reading where the woman commits adultery and the crowd wants to stone her (Jesus: “Let him without sin cast the first stone…”), Fr. Enoch asked in his thick African accent, “Where was the man?” And he let that question hang there for a second before actually spelling it out: “They do say it takes two to tango.”

His message is infused with positivity, but I discern a frustration in Fr. Enoch, a frustration that his flock is not more joyful. I think he wishes we well-taken-care-of white folk weren’t so reserved; that he could just make us get up and dance. A few weeks ago he did exactly this—it was a bet he and our pastor, Fr. Eric, had made—got us to, just for a few moments, dance.

Fr. Enoch has never quite come out and said it, but my guess is, growing up where he did, having so little materially in relation to what we do, it must astound him that we take our bounty so much for granted. But then, and he knows this, all of life is a bounty. And maybe what frustrates him isn’t that we take our comfort for granted. It’s that too many of us take this life for granted.

The good news is that this one man, Fr. Enoch, is making a tremendous difference in this one community. He has woken up a dormant congregation. The last time he went home to visit his mother in Nigeria, my mother warned him that if he did not return, she would chase him down and bring him back herself.

Gone With The Wuthering Heights

Gone With The Wind and Wuthering Heights.

Two films, both released in 1939. Both based on best-selling novels written by women and set in the 19th century. Both would be nominated in Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress categories (GWTW would win three of those and neither would win in Best Actor).

Having watched both for the first time this month, it dawned on these new eyes that the similarities don’t end there. Both revolved around a beloved old estate that is in danger of being lost. In both, because penicilin has yet to be invented, brandy is seen as a panacea (there was little separating a bartender and a doctor at the time).

Okay, but this is the only film that inspired a Kate Bush song…

But here is where I found the queerest similarity: with a few slight modifications, it’s the same film, a love quadrangle. There’s a character (A) hopelessly in love with another character (B), but B has married a third character (C). Meanwhile, A is also married to someone (D) who, against their better judgment, chooses to marry A anyway.

We have a Geraldine jones

Let’s match ’em up. Scarlett (Vivian Leigh) is Heathcliff (Sir Laurence Olivier), or A; Ashley (Leslie Howard) is Cathy (Merle Oberon), or B; Melanie (Olivia de Havilland) is Edgar (David Niven) and Rhett (Clark Gable) is Isabella (Geraldine Fitzgerald…whose star hasn’t crossed generations the way some of the other names on this list have, but who was a dish). And of course, since it’s the 19th century (or 1939) someone must die and nobody ends up living happily ever after.

Collectively, those 8 actors won seven Oscars in their careers and every single one of them was at least nominated for one.

So here’s the bizarre twist to it all: it’s the obsessions of Scarlett and Heathcliff that drive both stories. And while these films were being made the actors portraying those characters, Leigh and Olivier, were in the midst of a torrid affair with one another (both were married). They would each divorce and marry one another in 1940, and would remain married for 20 years.

I feel as if maybe everyone already knew this and I didn’t? Is that possible? Shouldn’t someone make a movie about this???

Reserves

This double play, just because…

***

You gotta love Muffet McGraw. Two weeks ago she’s advocating for more women in leadership roles, and just like that Brienne of Tarth becomes the first female knight in Westeros…Sunday’s Game Of Thrones episode reminded me of my final night of college except that it did not end with all the characters singing “Take It To The Limit” at the tops of their lungs…Did they really make a Kit Harrington-is-short joke? Yes, they did…Was Arya the final female character to disrobe on the show? Is there any prominent female, still living, who has not disrobed? Or male, for that matter? Ser Davos or Varys, perhaps?…I don’t know what the prop bets are like on who gets killed in the upcoming battle, but I don’t like Jamie Lannister’s chances…meanwhile, do you know how Jamie met the love of his life? “They met across a crowded womb…” Don’t know how Benioff & Weiss failed to ever give that line to Tyrion…

Music 101

Jacob’s Ladder

Things you may not have known about Huey Lewis (born Hugh Cregg): Although raised in Marin County, Calif., he was sent back east to tony Lawrenceville Prep School in N.J. He scored a perfect 800 on the math portion of his SAT (it really is hip to be square) and was also an all-state baseball player. He was admitted to Cornell but before matriculating there, on the suggestion of his father (or step-father), spent a year hitchhiking around Europe. One wonders, given that he was born in 1950, if his father was attempting to buy him time before eventually getting drafted for Vietnam. Lewis did attend Cornell for 2-plus years but eventually dropped out in 1969 to pursue his career as a musician. In interviews he has always come off as a grounded, likable, regular guy, and he is. But he’s also always been gifted at most whatever he put his mind to.

This song, by the way, was written by Bruce Hornsby. It was the third and last No. 1 hit for Huey Lewis & The News, in 1987.

Remote Patrol

Rockets at Jazz

10:30 p.m. TNT

I’m just here to see if the beehive hairdo lady returns. No way James Harden is starting out 0-14 again.




IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right

Starting Five


Redactions and Reactions

The Mueller Report has more than 300 redactions, such as the one above. So maybe we’re not getting the entire story? I’ll wait for the Director’s Cut DVD.

And yet we still know that the president said, “Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I’m f888ed.” Which is precisely what innocent people do.

Here’s Maggie Haberman of The New York Times (whose reporting on almost all the skulduggery of the past 2 years was validated by the report) on the corrupt culture of this White House.

Sarah Smile (Except Rearrange The Letters of The Second Word After You Omit The “m”)

Meanwhile, the report showed that Sarah Sanders prevaricated in 2017 when she told reporters that “countless FBI agents” had told the White House that they no longer had faith in former FBI director James Comey. Sanders brushed off the lie as a “slip of the tongue” and then went early Eighties power chord-happy supergroup by saying it was “the heat of the moment.”

From now on, if there is a now on, every follow-up to Sanders in the press room needs to be, “Was that a heat of the moment answer?”

You C*nt (ellipses) Say That

UPDATE: You can still read what I wrote below, but I had a good talk with a friend just now. A writer dude, but not a sportswriter. He pointed out, and he’s right, that it would have been much better to write my two ex-colleagues privately, ask them why they feel it’s okay to type that word, and to turn that into an MH discussion. And he’s right.

So yes, I could have handled the entire situation better and for that I apologize. At the restaurant in the past year or two I’ve noticed millennial servers using the F-word so casually, in public, and it just makes me want to get into my buggy and horse-whip my steed right outta there. Seriously, though, you may not care but many of us think the use of that word casually is just in extreme poor taste. Not much more to say than that.

Yesterday I found myself in a ton of hot water with (largely millennial) Twitter for admonishing a pair of my former SI colleagues, Jeff Pearlman and Richard Dietsch, for using the f-word on Twitter. Oh yeah, I got ratio’ed big time. You’d have thought I advised tweeps to eat smart, sleep, and exercise, that’s just how mad people were with me.

Twitter: a place to freely express ideas and opinions, unless I don’t like yours, in which case go f*ck yourself.

The tweet, so we’re clear:

First, I was taken down for having the gall for telling someone else what their boundaries should be (which is not what I did; “to each his own”). Next, I was slammed for being a hypocrite because I’d sent out a tweet not long before with the f-word in it (the difference, which no one seemed to appreciate, is that I was highlighting something the president had said and hence it was actually there to make the point of how poor that looked).

Finally, I was slammed because I had “subtweeted” Jeff and Richard, which is a greater sin than all the f-bombs that might ever be dropped. Mike Golic Jr. tweeted something to the effect that “neither is being above the age of 16 and subtweeting someone (a good look).” I’d clap back that being above the age of 16 and still owing daddy for every job you’ve ever had is no better a look, but hey, who wants to start two Twitter wars in one day.

Is it possible to return to the original point? You wanna say the F-word wherever you like, fine. You want to be a writer of some renown and then use that word in print? You can, obviously you can. And a lot of younger people are going to think you’re cool. But I’m not. And that may matter to nobody on or off Twitter. But Jeff and Richard have known me for awhile, and I hope they realize that I criticize the action, not the person. And as someone who cares about writing every single bit as much as they do, I thought they should know. And, as opinions are like assholes (oops, can I print that?), they can take it for as much or as little as they think it’s worth.

Like so many arguments I find myself in (and I find myself in a lot), the moments return to something from either Seinfeld or Curb. This moment took me back to this scene.


The point being, or as Larry was trying to make (because earlier in the scene, not shown here, the f-bomb and other salty language is being used) is that we’re not arguing over the principle of offensive language, we’re arguing over what is offensive to you. And so yeah, much of this is generational, but just casually using the f-bomb in public is not offensive to a lot of people (a lot of those same people grew up thinking Saved By The Bell was a great show, too) but using the c-word still is. Larry’s reaction is like, “Oh, you get to draw the boundaries?”

For the record, Jeff or Richard or anyone can write whatever they like, of course (I’m not following either of them on Twitter any more and I think they’ll survive). I say what I say on Twitter because I believe in it and because I actually care. Being popular or well-liked by people I’ll never meet in person is hardly a priority.

Meanwhile, I did a clap-back this morning referring to POTUS and I doubt anyone got it.

Flee Snowlo

Three renowned professional climbers perished in an avalanche at Banff National Park. American Jess Rosskelley, who in 2003 at the age of 20 summited Everest with a team that included his father, John, was lost. So were two Austrian climbers, David Lama and Hansjorg Auer.

All were sponsored by North Face.

The trio were attempting to climb the east face of 10,800-foot Howse Peak on the Icefields Parkway, which lies outside the monitored area for avalanches within the national park. Jess’ father, John, had made the climb successfully in the Seventies.

Lama, Rosskelley, Auer

I’m sure I’ll deal with Susie B. about this in the comments, so to head that off: for me there’s a difference between dying while doing something you enjoy, understanding and appreciating the inherent risks, and dying due to your need to post a pic on Instagram. And if doing something you enjoy is posting selfies on Instagram, weeeeeeeelllllllll…..

Make America Kate Again

Kate Smith and George Herman Ruth. There’s only one Babe in this photo.

The New York Yankees just found a way to shorten baseball games: they are dumping Kate Smith. Or at least her seventh-inning stretch recording of “God Bless America,” which they had been playing since just after 9/11. The song had survived the razing of the original Yankee Stadium, the House That Ruth Built, and been moved into The House That Jeets Built.

The reason the Yankees are dropping the song is almost as stupid as the fact that they were still trotting out enforced in-game patriotism 18 years after 9/11 (don’t get us wrong: we’re all for patriotism; we just don’t appreciate it being spoon-fed it twice at one sporting event…when is the last time you were asked to stand for the pledge of allegiance at a movie theater?). Seems that in the 1930s Smith recorded a tune titled “That’s Why Darkies Were Born,” which A) was intended as satire, B) she recorded with Paul Robeson, a renowned African-American actor/singer who had also been a football All-American and graduated from law school, C) again, was recorded in the 1930s, white actors put on black face and nobody said boo.

It was a different time.

Stupid logic. Beneficial result. We’ll take it.

Music 101

Hot Child In The City

No, Martina Navritalova did not have a backup career as a pop singer. This is Nick Gilder, a Canadian singer who was invented before the word androgyny was very popular. This song, released in June of 1978, rose to No. 1 in the USA in October of that year and holds the record for longest gestation between release and hitting No. 1 of any record. To think, for example, that Darkness On The Edge Of Town, also released in June of ’78, couldn’t land a single song in the Top 30. Hmm.

Remote Patrol

The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone

2 p.m. TCM

From 1961 and not to be confused with Romancing The Stone (though he does)…two-time Oscar winner Vivian Leigh, age 48 when this was released, as an aging beauty who has an affair with Warren Beatty, who was literally half her age (long before Shampoo, he was playing a gigolo). Raaaaaaaa-cy! At the time. And I’ll stop you before you go there, Susie B.: yes, this was the M.O. for half the pictures in Hollywood in the Forties and Fifties as long as the genders were reversed. Added bonus: Beatty, a veritable unknown, plays an Italian with a thick accent. I

Not a classic, but how many chances will you get to view this?



IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right

“His mother was a mudder!”

Starting Five

I’ll Take “Jeopardy! GOAT For $697,787″*

*and counting

Naperville native-turned-Vegas gambler James Holzhauer is our early favorite for Sportsman of the Year. On last night Jeopardy! episode, Holzhauer’s 10th consecutive victory, he pitched a perfect game, going 40-for-40 in the first two rounds. Then in “Final Jeopardy” Holzhauer risked $60,013 on “20th Century Literary Characters”. The question? “His first name refers to the ancient district in which you’d find the Greek capital; his surname is a bird.”

Holzhauer: “What is Atticus Finch?”

That gave Holzhauer a single-day total of $131,127, a new record for the show. He owns the four top single-day marks in the show’s history and has already accumulated just under $700,000 in 10 appearances. Only Ken Jennings, who won $2.5 million in a 74-appearance streak, has topped Holzhauer’s total but Holzhauer can, if he maintains his brilliance, exceed Jennings’ total in half the appearances.

And in what seems like poetic justice, the circle coming all the way back around, Vegas is now offering odds on Holzhauer’s continued success.

Barr Tab


The Mueller Report is being released today, in all its redacted glory, but first Attorney General William Barr felt the need to step to a microphone and give an oral book report of what he’d read. Why? So that this way no matter what folks who comb through the wreckage find, Fox News and similar outlets can play the video of Barr proclaiming the report “found no evidence” that any member of the Trump campaign conspired with Russia in its effort to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. “The special counsel found no collusion by any Americans.”

Personally, we just wonder if this is Sarah Huckabee Sanders in heavy makeup. Has anyone ever seen these two together in the same room?

But What If God Invented Science?!?

As one tweep, Dan Broadbent, replied, “Because the melting point of gold is 1064 degrees Celsius and a wood fire burns at around 600 degrees Celsius.”

Okay, but does this explain whether jet fuel can melt steel girders?

And then there was this:

Not, In Fact, A Happy Ending

*The judges will also accept “Kraft Services,” “On Further Review” and “Not Great, Bob!”

If you’ve always wanted to see someone other than Roger Goodell get an NFL owner off, well, the Palm Beach State Attorney’s Office is here to assist you. Alas, Circuit Judge Joseph Marx has issued a temporary protective order on the release of the Robert Kraft hand job tape until April 29 so, unlike the Pats owner, you’re going to have to deal with a little delayed gratification.

Insane Clown Posse

The tweet, since deleted, told a short but bizarre tale of a man, his clown lover, and his murdered ex-wife. Frankly, it was the Budweiser shirt that drew us in. How many garage sales are we going to have to roam through before we find a replica?

This paragraph, which appeared in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, must have been a joy for reporter Marc Freeman to type:

On May 26, 1990, the 40-year-old victim opened the door of her Aero Club estate home for a clown wearing an orange wig, a red bulb nose, gloves and a smile painted on white makeup. The clown held two balloons and flowers in one hand and a pistol in the other.

The victim, Marlene Warren, was married to Michael Warren, who is now married to Sheila Warren (then Keen), who is the suspect. At this point it feels as if we’re piling on Florida, but the state is an endless bounty of mischief and miscreantism. Don’t blame us.

Biblio Files

With The Old Breed

by Eugene Sledge

Our mom had three older brothers who fought in World War II and a cousin who fought on Iwo Jima (that’s why we won…duh!). Anyway, it is our (and perhaps Tom Brokaw’s) opinion that World War II was the greatest moment, in terms of valor and idealism, in American history. But, in order to produce this triumph over fascism and evil, millions of good young men had to suffer through unspeakable evil.

It’s important for us to learn as much about this era as possible. And one of the most revealing and unvarnished accounts is found here, from a U.S. Marine’s experiences fighting on Peleliu (an island whose ultimate strategic importance turned out to be nil) and Okinawa. Sheer hell. And as a companion piece…

Remote Patrol

The Pacific

HBO

…we recommend you watch this 10-part series from 2010, where one of the three major story lines is constructed around “Sledgehammer’s” memoir. Another reason to watch? Rami Malek as Snafu, Sledge’s mortar duo partner. This is Malek 10 years ago, but it’s so easy to see why he’d go on to win an Oscar.


IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right

New York’s hottest couple is…

Starting Five

Lightning Crashes*

*The judges will also accept “Lightning Round”

The Tampa Bay Lightning finished the regular season with the best record in the National Hockey League. In fact, the Lightning became only the second franchise in NHL history (the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings being the other) to win 62 games.

This is the best in-house tweet we’ve ever read

Three games later, the Lightning were done. Swept by the Columbus Blue Jackets. If hockey were bigger, fans would properly recognize this as one of the most ignominious upsets in pro sports history. As it is, the Lightning are our favorites to win March Madness next year.

I’m Still Standing (“Yeah Yeah Yeah”)

One day after the conflagration sur le Seine, the Cathedral Notre Dame de Paris remains largely intact. Its famed rose windows are undamaged, as is the crucifix. And most importantly, every Catholic priest on the six continents that have parish congregations has his Easter Sunday homily already written. Call it an act of God.

Fire Sale

The Yankees shelled Boston Red Sox co-ace Chris Sale for seven runs in an 8-0 victory in the Bronx last night. It’s only April 17 and Sale has already equaled his loss total from last season: 4. In 2018 the veteran southpaw went 12-4 in 27 starts with a 2.11 ERA. This spring he’s 0-4 in four starts with an 8.50 ERA. Last season Sale’s K’s: BBs ratio was about 7:1. This spring? 2:1.

“I just flat-out stink,” the 6’6″ lefty said after the loss. Can’t argue with that. So do the Sawx thus far. The world champs occupy the A.L. East cellar at 6-12.

Casting A Paul

In Catholicism, Paul was one of the all-time greats (and quite a prolific correspondent). As you may know, Paul was first a Roman centurion who enjoyed persecuting early Christians, then was struck blind “on the road to Damascus” after having a vision of Christ. He then dedicated the remainder of his life to spreading the Good News and is really, in our humble opinion, the most important figure in the New Testament outside of Jesus. And His mom.

The apostle Paul, who greatly appreciated stamps as a Christmas gift

So maybe there’s hope for Notre Dame’s newest visiting professor, former Senator Paul Ryan. But we don’t hold out much hope. Kudos to Drew Lischke, who laid out the argument against Ryan upholding “Catholic principles” in the student newspaper, The Observer.

There are probably more than a few members of Notre Dame’s faculty who may not pass muster when it comes to upholding the Catholic principles the school purports to represent. There are none, however, who have held such a lofty position of leadership and failed so remarkably. This, for the university, is embarrassing. I’d rather learn that Lennay Kekua had been invited to join the faculty.

God does have a sense of humor, though: the three most visible leadership figures in South Bend right now (outside of sports) are named Paul, Peter and John.

Lessons from Vala Afshar

One of our favorite Twitter follows is Vala Afshar, who is the “Chief Digital Evangelist” at Salesforce.com, whatever that means. He’s a philosopher-entrepeneur, and we generally enjoy the life lessons he imparts. Here are some tweets from yesterday to digest:


Biblio Files

Ether Day

by Julie M. Fenster

If you find yourself in Hartford’s Bushnell Park, you may happen upon a stature of a 19th-century figure, under which are the words, “Horace Wells, Dentist.” If you are curious why someone would erect a statue to a dentist, read this fascinating book by Fenster. No man in modern history may be responsible for relieving more pain than Wells, though he never profited from it and instead went into a downward spiral because of it. This should be a movie.

Remote Patrol

Tottenham Hotspur at Manchester City

3 p.m. TNT

UEFA Champions League quarters. Spurs lead 1-0 on aggregate. These two are in third and second place, respectively, in the Premier League at the moment and will actually play again three days from now in the same venue for that league. Weird.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right

Starting Five

Ave Maria

“Nothing lasts”

–Varys, Game Of Thrones

When the bald eunuch spoke those words Sunday night, they resonated. But that wisdom was punctuated Monday afternoon in France as much of the Cathedral Notre-Dame de Paris was razed by what appears to have been an accidental fire that started during renovation work.

The spire was lost and much of the roof from the building that is more than 700 years old. But the main structure survived. And that which was lost will be rebuilt.

Time has its arsenal: wind, fire and water. But man is ordinarily the greatest threat to all things on this planet, both man-made (the Sphinx lost its nose to bullets; the Acropolis was largely destroyed because it was being used as a munitions depot and suffered a direct hit by shelling; Yankee Stadium fell victim to the Steinbrenners’ avarice) and natural.

It was an awful day for Notre Dames on either side of the Atlantic, as your author’s alma mater announced that former Senator Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) would be coming to campus as a visiting professor. Will “Craven Political Maneuvers” be a 400-level course, one wonders.

Warriors, Worriers

You went to bed. Admit it. If you did, you missed the Western Conference playoffs morphing into Pac-12 After Dark. The defending NBA champions, the Golden State Warriors, puked up a 31-point 3rd-quarter lead and lost to the Lou’s Angeles Clippers, 135-131.

After squandering a 94-63 lead with more than seven minutes remaining in the third quarter, the Dubs went up 131-128 on a vintage Steph Curry three. But then Lou Williams hit a fallaway 2 in the lane, the final bucket of his 36-point night, and then a pair of rookies (Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Landry Shamet) paired up for the dagger three.

It’s the largest playoff deficit ever overcome in NBA playoff history. Evuh. A lot of people had a 30-something from an L.A. franchise giving the Dubs fits in the first round; they just did not have it being Lou Williams.

Shamet and the shot that changed the series

Of course the Dubs have the talent to overcome this hiccup. They have the talent to make a fifth straight trip to the NBA Finals and win their fourth trophy in the past half-decade. But do they have enough happy joo-joo in the locker room to do so?

That’s what my former SI colleague Jon Wertheim (I’m old enough to remember when we called him L. Jon Wertheim, a young law school alum whose dad had been our SI managing editor’s college prof and who wanted to pursue a career in sportswriting over one at a white-shoe firm; turned out to be the right move for him) sought to find out this Sunday on 60 Minutes. You should watch and decide for yourself.

TCM Turns 25

Claude Rains, the unsung hero of this film

On Sunday Turner Classic Movies (TCM), God’s gift to cable television, turned 25. Three reasons we love TCM: 1) no commercials 2) it has the largest catalogue of classic American films available for viewing anywhere, for a small fee along with your cable subscription, 3) hosts Ben Mankiewicz and Eddie Muller.

Some day film historians will look back on this current decade of American cinema, with fans’ preoccupation with comic book heroes and heroines, and properly connect it with a social disease (not sexually transmitted). There’s an illness among us that we constantly flock to films in which mankind must be saved by a being with supernatural powers (like, you know, God-like?). You’re welcome to enjoy Iron Man or whatever. It’s when you go see a dozen consecutive clones of that film that I begin to worry about you.

Anyway, your antidote is TCM. There is simply no greater gift that the United States has given to culture than film, and here are most of the greatest films ever put in reels. That said, not every one will meet your fancy. The other night we, for the first time, watched Gone With The Wind in its entirety and it made us so sad…to think we’ll never get those four hours back.

But we needed to do it, to complete our mission of having watched the top 10 films in the American Film Institute’s “Top 100 Films” list. Having done so, and having now viewed more than 70 of those 100 films (most of the missing were released before 1934), we’re going to enumerate our highly—HIGHLY—subjective list of the TEN American films every one should watch before they expire. The films that make this list have a few things in common: outstanding story, nary a wasted scene, characters you care about, and most often a mix of both drama and humor (you know, the way real life is).

We narrowed the list to 10, and that’s not easy. Surely there are other films that you can sub in. But we do like these 10:

  1. Casabalanca (1942): For our money, the best film, period. And for those who fear that watching old movies is like eating vegetables, this is hella entertaining. And witty. You’ll miss at least half the jokes your first time through. By the way, note the numerous similarities between Rick Blaine (Bogart) and Rhett Butler (Gable): they state that their only cause is themselves, they take up for lost causes, and they ultimately let the girl get away.
  2. The Best Years Of Our Lives (1946): The best war movie absent a combat scene. No better movie about the best in us as Americans in our daily lives. Released the same year as It’s A Wonderful Life, a film in a similar but hokier vein. This is the movie that won seven Oscars, including Best Picture, that year, and deservedly so.
  3. The Godfather I & II (1972, 1974): We’re cheating a little here, but if Gone With The Wind can run four hours… This is the quintessential American Dream lived out across two generations, and a reminder that “get rich or die tryin'” predates 50-Cent.
  4. The Shawshank Redemption (1994): Was greatly overshadowed the year it was released by two other films you know of, but again, not a wasted scene and a fabulous payoff. Funny, heartbreaking, inspirational. Our favorite final scene in a film with the possible exception of No. 2 on this list.
  5. The Bridge On The River Kwai (1956): You need an epic on this list, and with that a David Lean film. The reason I put this one here ahead of Lawrence Of Arabia is because while the scenery in the latter is magnificent, the story drags some toward the end. The Bridge never wavers, building the suspense until the final moment. Although, yeah, I don’t know why they didn’t simply blow the bridge the night before.
  6. The Sound Of Music (1965): You need a musical, just one, and if you want to sub in Singin’ In The Rain here, go right ahead. Julie Andrews is the queen of this genre and there’s no better filmed musical scene than “Do-Re-Mi.”
  7. Rear Window (1954): You need a Hitchcock film and again, you’re welcome to sub in Vertigo, Psycho, To Catch A Thief, Dial M For Murder, even Strangers On A Train. But this is our favorite.
  8. The Wizard of Oz (1939): Providing the essential message that has been true since Homer’s Odyssey and The Ten Commandments: there’s no place like home.
  9. Rocky (1976): Before it was a franchise, Rocky was simply the most inspirational film for the down-and-outers ever released. For those of us who saw it in the theaters, who were not bogged down by the circus of Clubber Lang and Ivan Drago and “Livin’ In America” and “Eye of the Tiger,” this experience was the most uplifting ever provided in a theater. And that score? “Mom, did Rocky win the fight?!?” Does it matter?
  10. The Searchers (1956): John Ford and John Wayne in what we feel is the one Western not to be missed (and Star Wars is a Western, by the way; even Siskel & Ebert agree about that). Yeah, we wanted to put in a real Jimmy Stewart film (Mr. Smith) and we debated adding Pulp Fiction to this list, but we wanted a Western.

And because we’re not done, here are a few films that failed to make AFI’s Top 100 that would have certainly made ours: The Thin Man, Broadcast News, A Few Good Men, An Affair To Remember, Blazing Saddles, Braveheart, Good Will Hunting, The Exorcist, Frankenstein, Giant, Almost Famous, Judgement at Nuremberg, Local Hero, Animal House, The Big Short, Night of the Hunter, Planet of the Apes, Risky Business, The Breakfast Club, When Harry Met Sally, To Be Or Not To Be and M.

JMIA Is Not MIA

We’re old enough to remember when “Ali Baba is the Amazon of Asia” was a thing, so we’re a little skeptical about Jumia Technologies (ticker symbol: JMIA) being the “Amazon of Africa” (we wonder what the “Amazon of South America” will be; don’t answer that). But you should know that the company, based in Lagos, Nigeria, issued its IPO on Friday at between $12 and $16 per share.

As of this moment, JMIA is trading at $38 per share and is up 19% just today. We’re not in it and that price looks a little frothy for us at the moment. But keep your eye on it.

For Pete’s Sake

You may recall we were all aboard the President Pete Express more than a month ago, and we thought he’d be at least more than a long shot by June. Turns out he’s scaring the hell out of the Bernie bros and he’s all but persuaded those grasp-exceeds-their-reach senators (Gillebrand, Booker, perhaps even Harris and Warren) to just return to the Beltway.

Some years there are champions by default (the 2011 Dallas Mavericks come to mind) and others there are legitimate types (your 1996 Chicago Bulls) whose real is undeniable. Mayor Pete, who declared Sunday, has been the darling of every studio show that’s been able to land him (Real Time, Ellen, Maddow, etc.) but there’s no denying that there’s something there there. And being able to speak Norwegian on the fly is just one of those great drop-in anecdotes halfway down your profile.

Last night just before sleepy time I checked the Twitter Machine and the above two tweets ran back-to-back. For me, this should be a campaign poster. Who, as Americans, do we wish to be?

By the way, before you go too far down the Prez Pete wormhole, we urge you to watch Mr. Smith Goes To Washington (again, if not for the first time). Or read Jake Tapper’s The Hellfire Club. Washington has a way of putting earnest types through the meat grinder and turning them into table scraps. They’ll do their best to find the warts on Mayor Pete. But chances are that none of those pursuing this dirt-digging volunteered for military service and are Rhodes Scholars, much less an “or” in that phrase.

Reserves

The African dude on the left beat the African dude on the right…

The finish of the men’s Boston Marathon race yesterday. We realize 99.9999% of you have no personal connection to either athlete, but still…

Breaking: Less is still more. Thanks for reminding us (by the way, look at the top of yesterday’s MH. Some folks think alike; one just gets paid a lot more for doing so).


Music 101

Never Gonna Give You Up

The last few years of the Eighties and first couple of the Nineties were the darkest days of pop music (before now; we watched BTS on SNL). You had Milli Vanilli, Vanilla Ice, Right Said Fred and yes, this guy, Rick Astley. This song went to No. 1 in the USA, UK, and a dozen other nations. Props to Iceland, which refused to let it go higher than No. 5.

Remote Patrol

Manchester United at Barcelona

3 p.m. TNT

The second leg in this UEFA Champions League quarterfinal. Barca leads 1-0 on aggregate. Yes, they only played six days ago. Kind of a fast turnaround. You’ll get Messi in this one. We’re a little surprised they’re not airing Ajax-Juventus instead, what with a 1-1 aggregate and Ronaldo in that one. Stay tuned for the halftime and post-match highlights.



IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Starting Five

Tiger Beast

For a decade the question loomed: Would Tiger Woods ever overcome his injuries, his scandals, himself, and claim another major? On Sunday at the greatest venue in golf, Augusta National, 43 majors since the last of his 14 previous major championships, Tiger finally answered that question in the affirmative?

It was not an historic comeback in terms of Sunday’s final round. Tiger remained close, watched as the other leaders made fatal errors, and then cemented the win with an amazing tee shot on the par-3 16th (with Michael Phelps, one of the two or three athletes of his generation who stands on the same plateau, just a few yards behind him in the gallery) his victory. No, it was an historic comeback over the arc of a career, a story line more than a decade in the making.

It’s fine if you don’t forgive Tiger his past transgressions. Fine if you think o him more as a prodigal sonofabitch than a prodigal son.

Everyone calibrates par at their own measure when it comes to what sins are beyond the pale. For us, Tiger is a flawed man but far from an evil one. And to live through all the doubts, both from within and from without, for years on end, and yet to still strive to return to the summit on which he had once stood so firmly, for us, that is admirable. And beyond memorable.

Easily the most inspiring moment at Augusta since Jack Nicklaus became the oldest man to win the Masters in 1986 at age 46. Today, Tiger is the second-oldest champion there, and he just won his fifth to Jack’s six, at age 43. That figure of 18 majors held by the Golden Bear no longer looks so insurmountable.

But if Tiger never wins another major, that’s okay. He proved something to himself, to his children, to every sports fan today. And he reminded us all of an essential lesson: Never, ever give up.

Reunion At Winterfell

“You’ve ruined horses for me”

We won’t put in any Game Of Thrones spoilers here, but simply a belated request. Wouldn’t the Season 8 premiere have been improved if during certain scenes Benioff & Weiss (the brains behind the show) had included a graphic reminding the audience the last time those two (or more) characters had been in a scene together?

Some of the reunion moments—especially the final one—were profound, but we found ourselves, especially after more than 18 months without a fresh episode, trying to remember when certain characters had last met.

A minor script quibble: at different points of the episode one character is described as “the cleverest person I’ve ever met,” another as “the smartest person I’ve ever known,” and a third as “the most arrogant man I’ve ever met.” Three different characters describing three other different characters. Hodor! on the superlatives, please.


Florida Bird

In Alachua County, Florida, a 75 year-old man was fatally attacked by a cassowary, a large flightless bird that looks like Stephen Moore’s hairpiece attached to two legs and a short blue neck. The man had two such birds, which are native to Australia and New Guinea, on his property. Some men, particularly in Florida, want to take the claw into their own glands.

Is The Grand Canyon Getting More Dangerous Or Are Tourists Getting More Careless?

Two more people fell to their deaths at the Grand Canyon last week, bringing the number of gravity-related deaths at America’s favorite pit this year to at least four. More than five dozen tourists have fallen to their demise at the northern Arizona erosion theme park since it first opened.

Officials have not considered filling in the canyon with dirt—yet.

Wings Across America
B

On Saturday morning in the Mojave Desert, a plane with the largest wingspan ever constructed—385 yards feet—took flight for the first time. From the company Stratolaunch, the plane is designed to carry rockets into the stratosphere, from whence they will be launched.

The aircraft, which when fully loaded will weigh more than a million pounds (it’s too early in the day for us to figure out the tonnage, but we’ll guess 500?), had a 2 1/2 hour test flight and ascended to half of its future desired altitude of 35,000 feet. It will not be available for short hops betwixt L.A. and Las Vegas, in case you were wondering.

Music 101

Make It Easy On Yourself

Outside of Lennon & McCartney and Brian Wilson & the demons inside his head, the greatest songwriting team of the 1960s was Burt Bacharach and Hal David. They originally wrote this tune for an unknown Dionne Warwick, then reneged and handed it to Jerry Butler, who took it to No. 20 in 1962.

Three years later, in 1965, a Los Angeles trio named The Walker Brothers (none of whom were born with the surname Walker and none of whom were siblings) recorded it and took it even higher, to No. 16. The trio is proof that osmosis is a universal phenomenon, as at the height of the British Invasion they uprooted themselves from L.A. and moved to London, where they were much more of a smash in the U.K.

Remote Patrol

Nets at Sixers

8 p.m. TNT

Clippers at Warriors

10:30 p.m. TNT

As our organist at church reminds us before mass every Sunday, please put away your cellphones.


IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right

What’s better than this? Nothing is better than this…

Starting Five

The Thrill of Phil

Two months shy of his 49th birthday, Phil Mickelson shot an opening round 67 to find himself just one shot back of co-leaders and twenty somethings Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka.

They’re millennials. He’s a perennial.

We’re totally getting ahead of ourselves, but Lefty is gunning for his fourth Masters and also looking to surpass Jack Nicklaus’ mark as the oldest Masters champion. The Golden Bear took the green jacket in 1986 at the age of 46.

I guess it’s true what they write: the era of the old athlete is over.

Tiger Woods, who is four shots off the lead with an opening round 70, already has four Masters wins (Nicklaus has the record with six).

Liars’ Club

I mean, it’s too easy at this point. Even fish in a barrel require you aim some. Exhibit A, Stephen Moore, who’s currently being recommended for a high-level gig at the Federal Reserve by the Trumpster:

Exhibit B, the Trumpster himself, after WikiLeaks founder and generally creepy looking dude Julian Assange was arrested in London on Thursday:

versus…

Yes. Wow. The President and his cronies are big fat liars. But they’re not the first politicians who skirted the truth. It’s just that Trump is the first in memory who seems to have absolutely no concern that you’ve caught him in a bold-faced contradiction. Only the present is real. Whatever he just said is the only truth. Until he says something absolutely opposite tomorrow.

Keeping It In The Pham*

*The judges will grudgingly accept “Phamtastic!”

On Wednesday Tampa Bay Rays left fielder Tommy Pham homered twice as the Rays completed a three-game sweep of the White Sox in Chicago. But you don’t care about the Rays or White Sox, nor do we. This is newsworthy because Pham, 31, reached base for a 45th consecutive game.

We thought you might be wondering what the Major League record is and who holds it. And we’re here for you: 84 games, Ted Williams. Perhaps you’ve heard of him.

The White Walkers Are Climate Change

“Duh”

The eighth and final season of Game Of Thrones (a.k.a. “How The Westeros Was Won”) begins Sunday night. So here’s a quick cheat sheet/semester review for you, and here is a nerdy comprehensive glossary.

What we’d really like to discuss, though, is whether the show’s creators (or George R.R. Martin, the creator of this mythic world) envisioned the White Walkers to symbolize climate change. See, just like climate change, the White Walkers are thought to be fake news by the generally dishonest and self-interested types in Westeros. And just like climate change, while half the world denies the existence of the White Walkers while they scheme ways to take over the world, maybe none of their worst-laid plans are going to matter once the Night King marches into town.

We can’t all move to Dorn

The ironic twist, of course, is that the Night King and his White Walkers aim to send the world into an eternal winter. Climate change is doing the exact opposite.

Master Degrees

For just $90, Natalie Portman will be your acting coach

You’ve seen those Master Class ads before YouTube videos, but have you ever delved further? We decided to do so last night. Turns out you can pay $180 per year (don’t know how many classes you may take) or $90 per class.

The “faculty” consists of about 5 dozen figures, many of them world famous such as Garry Kasparov (teaching chess) or Jane Goodall (teaching conservation). From whom you’d want to take a class, i.e., watch on a video for an hour so, that’s entirely subjective. Us, we’d like to listen to Daniel Negreanu teach poker, Helen Mirren acting, Aaron Sorkin screenwriting and Werner Herzog film-making.

Truly, the Master Class series is a wonderful idea. We just wonder about the execution. If you can do, after all, that does not necessarily mean you can teach. Has someone rated the faculty yet? And when will Stephen Miller be asked to teach white nationalism/authoritarianism?

Music 101

Hit Me With Your Best Shot

We all, every damn last one of us, had a crush on Pat Benatar in 1981. Oh, are there other people in the band? I hadn’t noticed. Debbie Harry was more glamorous, Chrissie Hynde was riding in the backseat in the bad boys’ car, but Pat Benatar, well, she almost seemed within your reach. And besides, every other girl in sophomore bio had her haircut.

Here she is on the late and somewhat lamented Fridays, which was ABC’s and L.A.’s answer to SNL. It never quite took off, even though it had future superstars Larry David and Michael Richards in the cast.

One more thought: Not enough drummers take advantage of the mid-song gong blast any more.

Remote Patrol

Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb

8 p.m. TCM

Another classic we’ve never seen! Psyched. The ultimate black comedy, since the topic is thermonuclear global destruction and no one will be saved. One of Stanley Kubrick’s gems, with Peter Sellers in three roles (including the president of the United States). “Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here; this is the War Room!”

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