by John Walters

Starting Five

The War On Truth

After a three-year legal battle, The Washington Post finally obtains military documents that show that U.S. officials constantly lied about the U.S. “making progress” in the war in Afghanistan. Whom were we fighting again, by the way? And why?

So if you’ve been worried that the 21st century did not have its own Pentagon Papers story, worry no longer.

Of course, keeping America at war is good business for politicians who are looking to bring MIC jobs to their districts, or ex-politicians who are on the boards of such companies, or for demagogues who can secure votes by persuading Americans that there is an existential threat when actually the real threat is a government that is not honest with its own populace. But…whatevs!

Soft Ban On Russia

Following a hearing in which the evidence was just as plain as the quid pro quo transcript of the Zelensky call, the World Anti-Doping Agency has banned Russia from all global competitions for the next four years. That includes the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, and the 2022 Winter Olympics in whatever place on Earth is still cold.

The problem, as we see it: Russia is banned but Russian athletes are not. That’s like telling the Houston Astros they can’t compete as the Astros next season but that the same players can go out and play as long as they don’t wear Astros gear. If WADA and the world sports community truly wanted to send a message, it would ban all Russian athletes for the next quadrennial.

Because here’s the thing: Vlad Putin doesn’t give a rat’s ass about your finger-wagging. He just wants to win. So as long as Russia can still have Russian athletes competing in these prestigious events, then if they win, he’ll still be able to derive satisfaction from it. You can’t win if you’re not in the game.

Shark Thank

Love this video. All living creatures understand pain. And cruelty. This who inflict it on others for no reason other than their own personal aggrandizement deserve a very, very, very uncomfortable place in hell. This woman is a saint.

Blow Up

A volcanic eruption on White Island (funny, that’s what I’d always called Nantucket) in the Bay of Plenty, just off the coast of New Zealand’s northern land mass, has erased signs of life on the tiny island. At least five are dead and a dozen to two dozen more are missing.

Five Films: 1970

1.) Patton: George C. Scott’s opening monologue, delivered before an American flag that literally splashes across the entire screen, is an iconic film moment. We also love when Scott as the title character growls, “Rommel…you magnificent bastard. I read your book!” A deserving Best Picture winner in a thin year. 2. M*A*S*H: Donald Sutherland and Elliott Gould are Hawkeye and Trapper in the film, based on Richard Hooker’s fantastic novel, that inspired the TV series. Director Robert Altman’s signature style of having actors say their dialogue over one another, which is more realistic but also more confusing for the audience, was not yet a signature style when he displayed it here. 3. Five Easy Pieces: Jack Nicholson’s second big role in as many years and the first real clue that audiences will get that he can be a real bastard on screen if he wants to be, but you cannot take your eyes off him. 4. Airport: The suspense film that kick-started a franchise that inspired a parody so on the nose that it killed the franchise. I’ve always been more terrified of airports than of sharks, by the way. 5. Beyond the Valley of the Dolls: Written by Russ Meyer and Roger Ebert (yes, him), here is a musical melodramaabout an all-girl rock band trying to make it in LA. Lots of groovy gals and guys and tight dresses doing the late Sixties L.A. scene. Campy.


by John Walters

The Day The Sixties Died

Altamont. A dusty vacant lot of a speedway that the Rolling Stones got use of on the cheap (as in, for free) for a hastily arranged free concert, the real purpose of which to lay down concert footage for an up close-and-personal film of their latest conquest of the U.S. (it’s eerie how similar, minus the murder, U2’s Rattle and Hum would be 20 years later).

The concert involved less planning than a Friendsgiving meal at your buddy’s apartment in Bushwick. There were no water stations, few latrines, no dedicated medical staff and, of course, the Hell’s Angels were paid in $500 of beer to provide security. The scene was so disorganized and brewing with hostility that local favorites The Grateful Dead, who had been booked to play, refused to take the stage.

This is a fascinating article about what went down that day and why….

The moment. Hunter, in lime green, is stabbed in the neck from behind by a Hell’s Angel

What would happen is that 18 year-old Meredith Hunter, a black student who’d shown up at the show with his white girlfriend, would be stabbed to death by a Hell’s Angel as the Stones were performing. There’s a chance that Hunter would’ve survived, but the one chopper that was on site had been reserved for the Stones’ getaway back to San Francisco and the pilot never got the authorization from the band’s manager to use it.

You can see here how close Hunter was to the stage and, with that suit, he kinda stood out. As he was being harassed by the HA, he at last had had enough and was pulling out a gun that he had in his waistband. Not a smart move.

Later that night at a San Francisco hotel, Mick hooked up with Michelle Phillips.

Coupled with the Manson family murders four months earlier, it’s safe to say that the Sixties’ counterculture movement ended, at least symbolically, on this night.

The band lineup that day, by the way, was epic and Bay Area-tinged: Santana, Jefferson Airplane, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, the Grateful Dead (canceled) and the Rolling Stones.

Five Films: 1969

It was the year of the buddy film, although none of the buddies seemed to fare two well for it in the long run.

  1. Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid: A Western buddy film that is funny and charming and, at the end, tragic while at the same time being oddly heroic. If there are two more handsome and at the same time likable buddies ever found than Newman and Redford, we’d like to see it. 2. Easy Rider: Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper embark on a cross-country motorcycle odyssey from L.A. to La. and along the way encounter an unforgettable Jack Nicholson. 3. True Grit: John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn in the role that at last won him his long overdue Oscar. With Glen Campbell, Robert Duvall and, again, Dennis Hopper. 4. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service: Some people will tell you that this, despite George Lazenby in the role of 007, is their favorite James Bond film. I may be one of them. Stick around ’til the final scene. You won’t forget it. 5. Midnight Cowboy: Yet another buddy film starring Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman on the loose in New York City. If I can’t make it there, I’ll be on a bus out of town.

Fondly remembered but not in the top five: The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, Hello Dolly, A Boy Named Charlie Brown.


by John Walters

Starting Five

Bad Santa

Today marks the start of the two-day Krampus Festival in Austria. In central European folklore, Krampus is a half-man, half-goat creature who punishes bad children and man do we need one on this side of the Atlantic.

A Millennial Christmas Carol

This came to us yesterday. You know this scene from Dickens’ “The Christmas Carol,” where mean old Ebenezer Scrooge wakes up on Christmas morning and realizes that he is still alive. We decided to put a 21st-century spin on it:

“Oh, boy, (blah blah blah), fetch the prize turkey from the poulterer and bring it to Bob Cratchett…”

(the turkey arrives at the Cratchett home where Bob’s wife and his kids have some questions):

“Is this a free range turkey?”

Was it cooked in peanut oil because I’m allergic?”

Dad, I thought this was going to be a vegan Christmas.”

“Listen, pops, tell ‘Okay, Boomer’ over there to stop disrespecting my juice cleanse. Just return the bird and tell Mr. Scrooge to Venmo us the money.”

Duke Or Earl

First, you have to get past the idea of GOP Congressman Matt Gaetz being offended by someone being mean and crass. But, yeah, Professor Karlan, while making a valid point, needlessly scored a hit on the one member of the Trump family who, for all intents and purposes, is innocent. And it undermined her testimony.

Friend of the blog Moose, who is Canadian and thus is able, like prime minister Trudeau, to laugh at America from afar, suggested that if only Professor Karlan had invoked a hypothetical son, “Earl,” or even suggested president Trump could name his dog “Duke” but not name him one, things would have gone much smoother for all involved.

Deer In The Highlights

The Milwaukee Bucks won again last night, a 127-103 blowout at Detroit. That’s 13 in a row for Milwaukee, who are now tied with the Lakers for the lead’s best record at 19-3. Anyone ready for a Giannis versus LeBron NBA Finals?

Giannis, the reigning MVP, is your early 2020 MVP leader: 2nd in the NBA in scoring and fourth in rebounding. The Bucks are gonna roll over the Eastern Conference this season if everyone remains healthy.

By the way, the Bucks have Kyle Korver on their roster, who like LeBron entered the NBA in 2003. I believe only Vince Carter, who is an alien, and perhaps Jamal Crawford, have been in the league longer.

The Lakers also won last night but LeBron’s blatant uncalled palming violation is all that I will remember.

Batman And A Joker

This, from comic Hasan Minhaj, is both funny and educational. I mean, think about it, should a super hero really have a butler?

Five Films: 1968

Another classic year in films and five is not enough. We’re still talking about these films more than half a century later. Imaginative, exploratory and existential, set against the backdrop of perhaps the most turbulent year of the American century.

  1. Planet Of The Apes: The first time I saw this, I was probably six or seven years old and was quite sure it was the coolest film I’d ever seen. It would be decades before I appreciated the allegory being laid before me. And General Irko haunted my dreams for most of the Seventies. 2. 2001: A Space Odyssey: A masterpiece, from Stanley Kubrick. I believe it was Charlton Heston, or maybe Orson Welles, who walked out of the Hollywood screening and barked to no one in particular, “I don’t know what the hell is going on in this movie!” Not an easy ride, this, but the special effects were decades ahead of their time and the overriding message well, many of us may still not be ready for it. 3. Bullitt: Steve McQueen and the first blow-your-doors-off car chase scene in film history, shot on the streets of San Francisco and Marin County. McQueen plays a San Francisco detective assigned to protect a witness whom the mob is after. 4. Night Of The Living Dead: A horror classic that feels like a documentary, shot in black-and-white and with grainy footage to make it even more creepy. Countless films, and one jumped-the-shark-a-while-ago TV series, owe everything to this movie. Oh, and spoiler alert: the black dude is the one person who escapes being trapped all night in the house surrounded by zombies only to take a bullet as he emerges from the local Ohio posse. How you like that ending, Colin Kaepernick? 5. The Thomas Crown Affair: What a hot streak Faye Dunaway was on from 1967 to 1975: Bonnie and Clyde, this, Chinatown, Three Days of the Condor, and Network. With Steve McQueen and an Oscar-winning theme song (“Windmills Of Your Mind”).

Not on the list but worth noting: Rosemary’s Baby, The Producers, Where Eagles Dare, The Lion In Winter, Oliver! Also, another movie that may have inspired a Seinfeld gag. There was a film from 1969 titled Rachel, Rachel. Remember how Dark Victory gave us Prognosis Negative?


by John Walters

Changing Of The Guard

Will we sports fans look back on the first weekend of December 2019 as a watershed moment? Will we view at as the weekend that the three great sports dynasties of the 2010s—the Alabama Crimson Tide, the Golden State Warriors and the New England Patriots—symbolically passed the torch to a still grasping field of successors?

I think so.

As you know, the Crimson Tide lost the Iron Bowl, 48-45, at Jordan-Hare Stadium last Saturday. The defeat knocks the Crimson Tide out of the College Football Playoff for the first time in the now six seasons it has been held. It also marked the most points Alabama has surrendered under Saban since 2007 and the most penalties (13) a Saban-coached Tide team has ever committed in one game. The last one being the costliest.

In the 10-year span between 2009-2018, Alabama under Nick Saban won five national championships. It ranks as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, dynastic runs by any school in the history of the sport. The Tide isn’t about to disappear, but Saban turns 69 on Halloween day next season. How many more seasons of this does he want?

The Patriots lost at Houston on Sunday night to give them, like the Tide, their second defeat of the season. It doesn’t take much imagination to notice that both of New England’s losses came on the road on a Sunday night to a team with a young and dynamic Heisman Trophy winner at quarterback who happens to be African-American. Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson are the future of the NFL and Tom Brady, legend that he is, represents its MAGA-clinging past.

Are the Pats done? Maybe not, but unless something changes they’ll have to go on the road to Baltimore (Lamar) or Kansas City (Pat Mahomes) this January for an AFC playoff game and there’s no Gronk to help in the passing game. The Pats just don’t have that much talent on offense and it’s a testament to the talents of Brady (42) and coach Bill Belichick (67), not to mention the depravity of the AFC East, that they’re even 9-2.

If the Pats go out before the Super Bowl this winter, you have to wonder how much longer either gent will remain in Foxboro. It may be time to enjoy that sunset.

Steve Kerr proves it: even the best coaches are only as good as the talent around them

Finally, there’s the Warriors. Thanks to free agency and injury, the Dubs, winners of three NBA Finals this decade (and another two might have been theirs were it not for ill-time injuries) have fallen the farthest. They have lost three games in the past six days and are currently 4-18. The Dubs are saddled with the worst record in the NBA, which is not an easy feat when you consider the New York Knicks are also in the NBA.

The Dubs have moved into a gleaming new venue and then they failed to bring the house band that made it all possible. Now, sure, this season’s putrid record will likely guarantee them a top 3 pick next June. But here’s the case I’ll make about that: the Splash Brothers, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, will be 32 and 30, respectively, when next season tips off. And they’re guards, not power forwards or centers. Age matters more when quickness and not size is your forte.

Love the Splash Brothers. I just don’t think we’ll ever see the likes of the mid-2010s Warriors again. That era has passed. I’d love to be wrong. But I don’t think that I am (even though Curry’s season-ending hand injury in October was probably the best thing that could’ve happened to him, in terms of career longevity).

So let’s just take a moment to realize it. The weekend of November 30-December 1 marked the end of an era. All three sports dynasties of this decade finally began to show their mortality. And I don’t think any of the three will win another championship under their present coach.

Five Films: 1967

A tremendous rebound year following ’66 with a plethora of films that stand the test of time. Here are our five:

  1. Bonnie and Clyde: This one, the pet project of Warren Beatty, would be the top film of most any year. Funny, violent and tragic all at once, it may represent the birth of New Hollywood in that it’s the first great film that looks and feels a lot more like all the films that would come after it than it does those that came before. And if for no other reason, the scene in which Warren Beatty, Gene Hackman and Gene Wilder (among others) are all sharing a joyride is a must-see cinema scene. Also, if you’ve never seen it, keep an eye out for the scene late in the film when they visit Bonnie’s family for a picnic. The woman playing Bonnie’s mom is hauntingly perfect of Depression-era Texas. She’s not an actor. She was a local who’d been watching them film and director Arthur Penn noticed her and they used her. She’s perfect. 2. The Graduate: If B&C was the year’s best film, this may have been the signature film of the Sixties in terms of capturing the sense of being lost, particularly among the young. A soundtrack from Simon & Garfunkel didn’t hurt. “Plastics.” 3. How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying: There are other musicals from this year—and this site’s top critic will probably want us to include Thoroughly Modern Millie—but this is our favorite and Robert Morse singing “I Believe In You” to his mirrored image in the executive washroom is simply superb. Forty years later Matthew Weiner would perform the ultimate in stunt-casting by inserting Morse as the patriarch of the Mad Men agency, and if you note, his character has achieved the pinnacle of success and is never seen doing an ounce of work. Not a coincidence. The entire vibe of Mad Men is inspired by this film. Also, note how Hollywood tried to somewhat duplicate this film by inserting Michael J. Fox into the Morse role 20 or so years after in a non-musical with a similar plot, The Secret Of My Success. 4. In The Heat Of The Night: When you think about the time in America when this was released, well, it’s almost impossible for those of us who didn’t live through the turbulent Sixties to appreciate the tension endemic in the film. It won Best Picture, which proves Hollywood didn’t just start being woke a few years ago. 5. Wait Until Dark: Alan Arkin is normally known for comedic roles, but he’s a charismatic villain here as he and a blind Audrey Hepburn play a game of cat-and-mouse inside her Greenwich Village apartment. Fantastic suspense here.

Close but no cigar: The Dirty Dozen, You Only Live Twice and Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner (as opposed to “The Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner” which is a film I’d be more interested in watching). We’ve seen Cool Hand Luke and we just never understood why Paul Newman smashed all the parking meters in the first place, much less why he’d be dumb enough to take on George Kennedy in a fist fight. A few great scenes but not a great movie.

By the way, before we leave 1967, think about how many catchphrases this year produced: “Plastics,” already mentioned, but also “What we have here is a failure to communicate” and also “They call me ‘Mr. Tibbs.'”


by John Walters

Tweet Me Right

Starting Five

“Unfair” at Jordan-Hare

The 84th Iron Bowl from Jordan-Hare Stadium was a certifiable classic, as Auburn knocked Alabama from the college football playoff picture, 48-45. It’ll be the first year since the playoff was instituted in 2014 that the Crimson Tide, which lost twice in November, is not one of the four invitees.

It’s the most points a Nick Saban Alabama team has surrendered since 2007, his inaugural season in Tuscaloosa. It’s also the most penalties—13—his Crimson Tide have ever allowed in one game. And it was the 13th that was the coup de grace, since it involved Auburn catching the Tide asleep at the wheel on a fourth down play in which they should’ve punted.

Go to the 2:00 minute mark

Here’s what happened. Auburn lined up to punt and Bama put in its punt return team. Then the Tigers switched the formation, putting the punter out at wide receiver and quarterback Bo Nix in the shotgun formation. Alabama switched its defense back in but returner Jaylen Waddle did not run off the field. “12 men on the field.” Penalty. First down, Auburn. Ballgame.*

*Note: The CBS cameras focused on Jaylen Waddle running on field to prepare to return the punt and thus missed Auburn changing its formation.

Now, if Bama had any timeouts left, Saban would’ve called them. But it didn’t because they’d been stopping the clock to get the ball back. Genius move by Malzahn, and yet we can see the rules committee discussing this play in the offseason and tweaking the rule. We’ll see.

Vicious Cycle

Here’s the Peloton Christmas ad that so many people are not a fan of. And here’s the first parody video below that explains why:

Page Turner

Former DOJ attorney Lisa Page finally vents—the president of the United States using her name while acting out an orgasm in front of an arena full of Minnesotans recently was the last straw—about the frustrations of what transpired in her life and how she was used as a pawn in the battle between the White House and the Department of Justice. To Molly Jong-Fast in The Daily Beast. A good read.

By the way, if my surname were Turner I’d name my kid “Paige” in hopes she became a best-selling novelist.

Distaff Meeting

Katie Nolan gathers fellow female ESPNers Cari Champion, Julie Foudy, Sarah Spain and Maria Taylor for a funny attack on misogynists. The reveal at the end of the clip is terrific.

Now, we must mention that everyone steals some in the arts and so we imagine either Nolan or one of her writers was inspired by this clip from Amy Schumer’s show just a couple of years ago (Schumer’s writers were often accused of stealing material, by the way). You be the judge.

Five Films: 1966

This grieves me. In the year of my birth, Hollywood may have had its single-worst year dating back to the talkies and extending at least until the early 2000s. At least the music was lit that year. You’ll not recognize the names of most films from this year—I did not—and so I stuck only to the ones I’ve actually seen.

  1. Born Free: “Born free, as free as the wind blows/As free as the grass grows…” My love of the wild kingdom may have started here, with Elsa and the plains of Africa. Beautiful film, beautiful title song, and I’ll never understand what could possess a human being to kill something so wonderful. True evil. 2. Batman: Lighten things up with a hilarious satire based on the archetypal comic book hero. “Some days, you just can’t get rid of a bomb.” The seeds of Airplane! are found in this film. 3. Blow-Up: We actually watched this avant-garde British film last winter, in black-and-white and in swinging London with a murder involved. Austin Powers probably loved this film. 4. The Endless Summer: Was this the first adventure sports doc or the first travel doc? Surfing was never the same after three friends traveled from California to Africa to Australia and finally the South Pacific on a whirlwind surfin’ safari. And having one of the great movie posters ever produced didn’t hurt. 5. Fantastic Voyage: An innovative idea, shrinking a medical team to inject them into the body of a critically wounded world leader in order to save him. The only problem? When you’ve got Raquel Welch in her curvaceous prime, you want to enlarge her, not shrink her.

A few other films from this year worth noting that I’ve seen: Nevada Smith (Steve McQueen), a pair of animated classics (How The Grinch Stole Christmas and It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown). Films to put on the list: Stagecoach, Grand Prix, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, A Man For All Seasons, Alfie.

Music 101

Go Where You Wanna Go

Two inordinately talented California bands comprised of male and female musicians. Each band has a married couple. The band’s very existence is threatened when infidelity occurs. In 1977 those damaged relationships led to Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way,” the first single off the band’s classic album Rumours. Ten years earlier, Michelle Phillips’ affair with band member Denny Doherty led her husband, John Phillips, the chief songwriter for The Mamas and The Papas, to pen this song.

That’s one way to get back at your wife. The story behind the song is covered in “Echo In The Canyon,” and Jakob Dylan and Jade Castrinos do a mighty fine job of covering the tune, too.


by John Walters

Tweet Me Right

and I don’t even know what this is, but…

Starting Five

Buffalo Stampedes Cowboys*

*The judges will also accept “You Gotta Bill-eve”

The Dallas Cowboys just pulled off the rare feat of losing to two AFC East teams in the span of five days. Just a few days after falling 13-9 to the Patriots in New England, the lads with the stars on their helmets (shouldn’t that make them the “Sheriffs?”) fell to the Buffalo Bills 26-15 in Jerry World.

Dallas is now 6-6, or .500.

Buffalo is 9-3, or .750.

The Bills almost certainly won’t catch the Patriots (10-1) and so they probably won’t be a wildcard and therefore will not host a playoff game in their western New York home, but it would be nice.

The Buffalo Bills versus Dallas made for one of those rarest of match-ups yesterday, by the way: two 1980s TV shows going up against one another. Dabney Coleman against Larry Hagman, who ya got?


*The judges will not accept “Get a Leg Up”

Ole Miss trailed 21-14 in Starkville. The Rebels faced a 4th-and-24 from their own 14-yard line with 0:50 remaining. Then quarterback Matt Corral, who’d been the starter at the beginning of the season, lost his job, and then come back in the Egg Bowl to reclaim it, hit Braylon Sanders with a 57-yard strike. A beauty.

Ten whole plays later Corral found Elijah Moore for a two-yard touchdown pass but before Ole Miss could have a serious discuss about whether or not to go for two or overtime, Moore mimicked peeing like a dog in the end zone—it was National Dog Show day, after all—which cost the Rebels 15 yards.

The resulting 35-yard PAT sailed wide right. Ole Miss loses 21-20. There’s no cure for stupid.

Rule No. 1 Strikes Again

Free solo climber Brad Gobright has fallen to his death while pursuing his craft in Mexico. Gobright, 31, was actually abseiling with a partner when something popped and both men fell. Gobright fell about 1,000 feet to his death while the partner, Aidan Jacobson, crashed through shrubbery and landed on a ledge and survived.

El Portrero Chico

Abseiling is where two climbers rappel from opposite ends of the same rope, using each other’s bodies as counterweights. The pair were climbing El Portrero Chico in northern Mexico.

Gobright once held the world speed record for free solo’ing the nose of El Capitan. He was no weekend climber.

Doctor, Doctor

In Ohio, legislators introduce a bill requiring doctors to “reimplant an ectopic pregnancy” into a woman’s uterus or face charges of “abortion murder.” The problem is that the procedure that legislators would require to perform does not exist in medical science. Seems like kind of a big problem, no?

Five Films: 1965*

*We toyed with the idea of skipping ahead to 1966 just to see Susie B.’s head explode because she’d wonder if we had done 1965 on Thanksgiving Day and she’d somehow missed it, or if we’d simply forgotten what year we were on, but mostly because it has musicals (or, one major one) and this would absolutely infuriate her that we’d bypassed it. In the end, we just could not be this cruel. But we were tempted…

“I can’t be yours. We’re communists. Nothing belongs to anyone.”
  1. The Sound Of Music: Like West Side Story, a perfect film (and the better of the two Nazi-inspired musicals of this decade). The Austrian Alps make a terrific backdrop for the best collection of tunes ever to appear in one movie. Contrary take: a nun in the novitiate turns her back on God for wealth and a hot dude. 2. Doctor Zhivago: Do David Lean and Sir Alec Guinness have something they’d like to tell us? This is Guinness’ third appearance in a Lean epic, all as a character with a different nationality: British, Arab and Russian. Of course, it’s Omar Shariff’s film while Julie Christie is impossibly fetching. We finally watched this for the first time last winter—you have to see it in a hibernal setting—and while it’s tragic and sad, just like Russia, it’s a film that stays with you. And as long as it may be, it’s still shorter than reading a Russian novel. Worth noting: Shariff was not even nominated for Best Actor and while Christie beat out Julie Andrews for Best Actress, it was not for her work in this film but in Darling. Weird. 3. Here is where it gets sticky because we haven’t seen a lot of the supposed best films from this year, but of the remaining ones we have, here’s how we rank ’em: 3. A Charlie Brown Christmas: Could you get away with an animated child character quoting directly from the Gospel according to Luke these days or is the War on Thanksgiving already lost? 4. Thunderball: When Netflix put all the James Bond films on its service (with the exception of “You Only Live Twice”), we were down with seeing all of the Sixties movies. This one has the most sophisticated underwater gang fight ever filmed. What a climax. 5. Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! : The definitive Russ Meyer film and one of our favorite movie titles. And yes, Susie B., I nearly put “How To Stuff A Wild Bikini” and “Beach Blanket Bingo” in a two-way tie here, but ultimately chose against it.

Music 101

It Won’t Be Wrong

We’ve become infatuated with the songs we’ve discovered from watching “Echo In The Canyon” on Netflix the other night. The Byrds released their massive breakthrough album Turn! Turn! Turn! on December 6, 1965, and this was the album’s second song after the legendary title track. The song’s producer was Terry Melcher, who occupied the house that Charles Manson would later target for an August, 1969, murder spree because it was Melcher who would blow off Manson’s attempt to be taken seriously as a musician. That handsome dude in the middle of this video playing the maracas who looks more as if he should be playing tight end for the Dallas Cowboys is Gene Clark, who would write many of the band’s hits and also have an affair with Michelle Phillips—one of her suitors that hubby John would grow tired of having to deal with. And yes, on the far right that’s David Crosby. The dude with the cool specs is Roger McGuinn, who was always the cornerstone of the band.

Above, the soundtrack version featuring Jakob Dylan and Fiona Apple.

Remote Patrol


Ohio State at Michigan

Noon Fox

This one should be fun from Ann Arbor. The Buckeyes were recently elevated by the Sel Com to No. 1 in the nation. The Wolverines have won their last four games by a combined score of 166-45. It’s gonna be closer than you think in the Big House.


by John Walters

Tweet Me Right

Joel Embiid finished 0-11 from the field on Monday evening and finished with 0 points, unlike another former seven-footer from a Philadelphia NBA franchise, who once put up 100.

Starting Five


At Cameron Indoor Stadium, Stephen F. Austin comes in and becomes the first non-conference school to beat Duke on their home court since 2000. And wow, the manner in which they did it. Watch:

“Nathan Bain, this is your life!”

Love it.

I wish the camera had just panned to the student section as soon as this layup fell. Maybe it did. We weren’t watching. Now I know how otherwise disinterested fans feel when Notre Dame loses a football game.

Duke becomes the third No. 1 hoops team to fall this month.

“O” and 1

Remember when Clemson, fresh off a 59-7 beatdown of Boston College and having been ranked in the Top 4 in both the AP and Coaches’ Polls the week before, somehow fell to 5th in the first week of the CFB Playoff Rankings?

Well, it happened again last night as LSU, No. 1 the past two weeks and having destroyed “Our Kansas”, as Herbie put it last night, 56-20, fell to No. 2 behind THE Ohio State University.

As Jesse Palmer put it so plainly and succinctly, nobody wants to be No. 2 (or No. 3) because that most likely means you’ll be playing Clemson in the semi.

So how close will that game up in Ann Arbor be this Saturday?

Saving Paris

You’re probably not gonna catch a Marvel film here any time soon

In a heel-turn move that only Amazon-putting-up-a-brick-and-mortar-bookstore can appreciate, Netflix signed a long-term lease at one of New York City’s most beloved movie houses, The Paris (on 58th Street, just across from the Plaza Hotel) so that it would not close. The Paris opened in 1948.

The move also allows Netflix to screen its own Oscar-hopeful films first (they must be released on the big screen for a certain period of time to gain Oscar eligibility) without having to work with an outside distributor before putting them onto the streaming site.

Great. Now will someone buy The Oak Bar (inside the Plaza Hotel, where Cary Grant was having a drink just before the bad guys kidnapped him in North By Northwest...I’m NOT Richard Thornhill) and reopen that? Pretty please.

Sun and Moons

We remember when “blowing sunshine up your ass” had an entirely different meaning…

Five Films: 1964

  1. My Fair Lady: The story of Pygmalion set to music with an enchanting Audrey Hepburn (wasn’t she always?) in a role that Julie Andrews originated on Broadway. See it again if you haven’t in years and notice the subtle digs at the working-class lot in “With A Little Bit O’ Luck” 2. The Train: Burt Lancaster stars in this black-and-white World War II drama that we only saw for the first time last year and loved. There’s a famous scene in the middle of the film in which Lancaster did his own stunt and it’s pretty impressive. One of, if not THE, greatest athletes to ever be a veritable Hollywood star (who didn’t come in as a known athlete first). 3. Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb. Peter Sellers, George C. Scott and Slim Pickens in the blackest comedy ever made to that point. “Gentlemen, you can’t fight here: This is the war room!” 4. Mary Poppins: Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews and the boundless imagination of animators. It won’t be Andrews’ best role as a governess, but it was the one for which she won the Oscar for Best Actress. In her acceptance speech she thanked the producers of My Fair Lady for snubbing her, which gave her the opportunity to do this film. Audrey H., by the way, was not even nominated in that category. Hollywood had the knives out. 5. Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte: Bette Davis, Joan Crawford and Olivia de Havilland in an incredible southern Gothic tale of intrigue and forfeited romance and murder. Another film we only saw in the past year but were wowed by.

Okay, so yeah, we left some Susie B-worthy films off the list and will acknowledge them here: Goldfinger, The Night Of The Iguana, A Hard Day’s Night, all came quite close. We’ve never seen The Umbrellas of Chambourg nor, Kurt, have we watched Mutiny On The Bounty in its entirety (we do love that Marlon Brando scrapped the director midway through the film over creative differences and finished it as the director himself, which is Peak Irony as far as we’re concerned).


by John Walters

Tweet Me Right

Starting Five


Last year’s hot NFL team, the Los Angeles Rams, hosted this year’s hot NFL team, the Baltimore Ravens, in the L.A. Coliseum last night. It wasn’t close. The Baltimore Birds slammed the Rams 45-6 and viewers left sure of two things: 1. Lamar Jackson was the steal of the 2018 NFL draft (the 32nd and final pick of the first round) and 2. nobody wants to hear Booger McFarland compare the Ravens to The Wire ever again.

Jackson, who was the fifth quarterback chosen in the 2018 draft, has thus far been undeniably the best. Last night he threw five touchdown passes and while he’s not the most prolific passer in the league this season by a long shot, he is third in passer rating and he’s also the only quarterback in the top 10 in the NFL in rushing.

Mark Ingram, who scored twice last night, is one of three Heisman Trophy winners on the Raven roster

The Ravens are 9-2. Right now it’s between Lamar and Christian McCaffrey (another deserving Heisman Trophy winner who, unlike Lamar, was overlooked for the award) for NFL MVP this season. McCaffrey leads the league in rushing yardage.

McCaffrey’s middle name is Jackson, by the way. Jackson’s middle name is not McCaffrey.

Seoul Mates*

*The judges will also accept “Crazy Rich and Poor Asians”

The movie you should see right now? Parasite, a film out of South Korea written and directed by Bong Joon-ho. See, there’s a poor family (above), the Kims, and a wealthy family, the Parks. When the Kim son lands a job as a tutor for the Park’s daughter, he soon figures out a way to land his three other family members jobs at the Park home (art therapy teacher, driver, housekeeper) without the Parks ever realizing they are all members of the same family.

So far, so funny. Then the story takes a turn for the hearse.

To say more would be wrong. You’ll really enjoy this film, but you’ll have to read the subtitles. This will most likely win the Best Foreign Film Oscar in a few months. It’s downright entertaining and suspenseful and while it may have a lesson or two to provide about class structure, you’re too busy being entertained to feel as if anyone’s preaching.

The Enemy Of My Enemy Is My Fiend

If you’re wondering what Fox News’ Tucker Carlson is doing here, it’s quite simple. First, he’s attempting to normalize the footsie being played between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin although it’s quite curious since right up until the moment Trump began entreating the Russians to look into Hillary’s e-mails in 2016 the Russkies were America’s sworn Cold War adversary.

Second, what he’s also doing is demonstrating that the Democrats and “libtards” are a far greater threat to the America he loves than Russia is. Which is how much of the Trump GOP actually feels.

Sure, it’s queer to listen to the same people who would’ve bashed Obama 24-7 for doing anything even close to what Trump has been alleged of doing both in regards to cozying up to Russia and to attempting to extort Ukraine suddenly say, “I’m rooting for the Russians.” But that is where we are.

Yesterday I had a thought: What happens when the “real Americans” (who watch Fox) are outnumbered by the unreal Americans? Well, that day is coming and you see, the Fox’ies are trying to prep America for it. How? By manipulating elections, by loading the federal courts with federal judges, by attempting to keep the Senate a red majority and, lastly, by gas lighting Americans into thinking that the Constitution no longer matters as much as what the President believes; that he is a king and that his rule is inviolate.

That’s what all of this is about: holding onto white power in a nation that is increasingly, week by week, not white. Nothing more than that.

Wilder Wilding

Nobody pays too much attention to traditional boxing any more, not even to heavyweight fights. On Saturday night, however, Deontay Wilder did Burgess Meredith’s Rocky quote proud: “He’ll knock you into tomorrow, Rock!”

On Saturday night the 6’7″ Tuscaloosa native KO’d Luis Ortiz in the final seconds of the 7th round with a punch that literally knocked all the sweat beads into the fourth row. It was like watching one of those magical bird migration patterns in slo-mo.

In 2015 Wilder, 34, became the first American heavyweight boxing champion after a nine year interregnum for the Yanks at that weight class. He is 42-0-1 in his career with with 41 of those wins by knockout. Twenty of those 41 knockouts have taken place in the first round.

The only person Wilder beat but failed to knock out was Tyson Fury, which is too perfect a name when you consider the last great American heavyweight previous to Wilder. Here’s what the announcer said at the end of Saturday’s fight, moments after the knockout: “There is a reason why he’s the baddest man on the planet!”


Five Films: 1963

  1. The Great Escape: Another great World War II manly man film starring Steve McQueen, James Garner and Charles Bronson, among others. A simply unforgettable WW2 flick. 2. Tom Jones: A deserving Best Picture starring Albert Finney that is a rollicking adventure with great good fun and a charming and bawdy leading man. It doesn’t get the same attention as a lot of “classics,” but no one ever saw this film without enjoying themselves 3. The Birds: In a year that also featured Bye, Bye Birdie, this film with Tippi Hedren and Rod Taylor gets the aviary nod. 4. The Pink Panther: The film that started it all. Peter Sellers was supposed to be more of a supporting player with David Niven’s jewel thief the star, but as he began stealing every scene director Blake Edwards was shrewd enough to recognize what audiences would respond to. If you’re too young to have seen the Pink Panther series, make it a point to see them (“The Return of…” is our favorite). 5. From Russia With Love: Some people consider this James Bond film, the second, to be the best of the Sean Connery era. There’s a sound argument to be made for this and, no, none of it takes place in Russia.

Remote Patrol

Echo In The Canyon


We caught this very good and entertaining documentary last night. It’s all about the Laurel Canyon music scene of the mid-1960s that brought The Byrds, the Mamas and the Papas and the Buffalo Springfield into the foreground. Jakob Dylan, whose pop had a thing or two to do with it all starting out, developed this project and conducts all the interviews.

Dylan, give him this, is a terrific host. Notice how quiet he is as his subjects talk, allowing them to fill the blank spaces, which creates a far better interview. Being the son of one of the all-time rock gods, he’s not nervous or anxious in the presence of Roger McGuinn, Michelle Phillips, Brian Wilson, Steven Stills, David Crosby, Jackson Browne or even Tom Petty, whose contribution to this project will bring a smile to your face.

This was a labor of love and what Dylan has done here is laid down a historical document that, while not approaching Ken Burns-doc status, will be viewed for a long time after all of these legends are part of the dirt. A hilarious moment that we rolled back twice to re-watch: as different subjects opine as to why David Crosby was booted from The Byrds, we shift to Dylan interviewing Crosby with the gorgeous Santa Monica mountains in the background. “That’s not the reason I was kicked out of the Byrds,” says Crosby, who then turns directly to the camera and says, “The reason I was kicked out of The Byrds was because I was an asshole.”

How can you not love a man like that?


by John Walters

Starting Five

Richard Spencer

Casualty Of War

Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer is the latest casualty in the never-ending battle between Donald Trump and Integrity. Last week Trump pardoned Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher, who had been convicted of bringing discredit to the armed forces and acquitted of a separate murder charge (you can never mind for a moment the idea of charging special-ops military types with murder).

Anyway, Gallagher’s case became a cause celebre on Fox News, which then made it a cause for Trump to take up, and Gallagher received a presidential pardon (take yet another bow, bin Laden). Gallagher was one of three military service members Trump pardoned, against the strongest wishes of the Pentagon, which expressed concern that “such a move could damage the integrity of the military judicial system, the ability of military commanders to ensure good order and discipline, and the confidence of US allies and partners who host US troops.”

Gallagher and wife

Trump didn’t care, saying he would never permit the Navy to revoke Gallagher’s membership in the SEALs. Which will probably stoke, at the very least, some friendly ire going forward.

Spencer attempted a diplomatic move, asking the White House to be allowed to publicly proceed with a review of Gallagher while privately assuring it that they’d let Gallagher remain. In other words, let’s put on a dog-and-pony show so it looks as if we’ve still got integrity, but you’ll get our way in the end, Donald. When Secretary of Defense Mark Esper learned of Spencer’s covert maneuver, he asked for his resignation for going “outside the chain of command.”

Another win for Fox and Fiends.

That’s Hall, Folks

Do not, under any circumstances, show us your scar

Strongman Eddie Hall was lifting weights, because that’s what strongmen do, when in his words, as he recently told The Mirror

I piled a load of heavy weights on a leg-press machine and then heard a loud thud. It had come crashing down and the weights had landed on my penis. I nearly bled to death,’

‘It was bad. The worst ever. I didn’t cry for help though. I just lifted them off, drove myself to hospital and got stitched up. I was back training soon enough.’

There’s a lot we find hard to swallow about this tale, but do we really want to ask more incisive questions? I don’t think so.

OK, Bloomberg

Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, a self-made billionaire from New York who doesn’t have to cater to the whims of Fox News because he already owns his own cable news outlet, has officially entered the presidential race as a Democratic candidate.

This is great news in 2016. If Bloomberg had entered as a Republican. Now? We’re not so sure.

“I’m running for president to defeat Donald Trump and rebuild America,” Bloomberg, 77, wrote on his website. “We cannot afford four more years of President Trump’s reckless and unethical actions.”

He would be the oldest president to serve if elected, though he’s still a year younger than Bernie.

Native America First

This was a clever skit from this weekend’s SNL that sort of let up at the last moment and didn’t go for the kill. Still, perhaps it opened a few eyes.

Also, there was a joke from “Weekend Update” that was too good to ignore. The setup, from Colin Jost, was that Nazi paraphernalia belonging to Adolf Hitler and Evan Braun was put up for auction. The problem, noted Jost, was that “it looked as if everyone was bidding at once.”

It isn’t often that you write a joke and know, beyond a doubt, that it would be impossible to be improved upon. This was one of those moments.

Five Films: 1962

  1. Lawrence Of Arabia: Peter O’Toole in a career-highlight performance, with Omar Shariff and the stunning landscapes of Jordan and Morocco. Nominated for 10 Oscars, it won seven including Best Picture and Best Director for David Lean. A true epic. 2. The Longest Day: Dramatic re-telling of D-Day with the greatest cast of manly man actors ever assembled: John Wayne, Sean Connery, Robert Mitchum, Henry Fonda, Eddie Albert, Richard Burton and Robert Ryan, just to name a few. Also told from the German perspective, which makes it that much more fascinating. 3. The Music Man: Robert Preston, Shirley Jones and some of the more charming songs ever put on film. That little boy? Yep, it’s Ron Howard. 4. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance: Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne in one of the tighter Westerns, from a story aspect, ever made. 5. The Manchurian Candidate: A Cold War superpower and enemy of this nation hatches a plot to install a hand-picked puppet as president of the United States. Ha! Like that could ever happen.