Starting Five

The NFL has put these two in charge of inflating the footballs at Super Bowl XLIX

1. PSI: Foxboro*

(The judges will also accept ‘Tomfoolery’)

Bill Belichick came off as more believable than Tom Brady yesterday. Re-read that sentence.

On ESPN afterward, former NFL quarterback Mark Brunell flatly stated, “I just didn’t believe what Tom Brady had to say.”

Brady said “balls” a lot. There’s a gay porn film that you could entirely dub over with Brady quotes from this presser. But you’ll have to go ask someone else for a copy. I mean, I already lent out my copy of Ryan Fitzpatrick to Markazi.

Brady also said, “This isn’t ISIS.” He’s right, but you know, what is?

Also, the ever-witty Cecil Hurt mused that it’s a shame Air Supply won’t be the Super Bowl XLIX halftime act.

2. Film Nerd Item

Forgetting Infinite Jest

The Sundance Film Festival: one of those things I hope to do right after I purchase that pair of snakeskin cowboy boots (or cowboy-skin cowboy boots; I’m not picky), summit Kilminjaro and be one of ESPN’s “Backgammon Insiders.” Anyway, it began yesterday in the town with the two common nouns name and ends on Super Bowl Sunday. Here’s five films among many that you are permitted to “highly anticipate”:

5) Last Days in the Desert….Ewan McGregor as Jesus Christ

4) Z for Zachariah….A post-apocalyptic world where the only survivors are Margot Robbie, Chris Pine and Chiwetel Ejiofor. Did someone just say, “Menage a trois plus biracial?”

3) The End of the Tour– Jason Segel as David Foster Wallace, during a five-day interview with Rolling Stone writer David Lipsky, played by Jesse Eisenberg, whom I already think was the kid who played William Miller in Almost Famous even though he wasn’t. The article never actually ran, but Lipsky turned the notes into a book. Take that, Ben Fong-Torres!

2) Digging for Fire — Anna Kendrick and Sam Rockwell. I’m in.

1) Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck — The first authorized biopic on the King of Grunge. If you’re keeping score, that’s our third messianic figure on this list.

 3. This Saudi, He’s Outie

Despite being one of the world’s wealthiest men, the “Abullah” never caught on as a facial hair look

King Abdullah bin Abulaziz al Saud, the king of Saudi Arabia, has died at the age of 90. Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest exporter of oil, is No. 1 in oil reserves, and is also No. 1 in homegrown men who actively took part in 9/11, not that we ever pointed the finger at them (maybe because of those other two things that Saudi Arabia is No. 1 in).

Oh, well. All accounts seem to portray Abdullah, who took the throne just 10 years ago but had actively been running the nation since 1996 (still, not until after his 70th birthday), as a good egg who championed a moderate Arab nation.

4. Hkakabo Razi

Tigers. Poisonous snakes. Ethnic rebels. And a 19,000-foot summit. And you feel good about yourself because you found the short line at Whole Foods. Here’s National Geographic with a mesmerizing story about a team of climbers scaling Myanmar’s tallest peak.

5. The Circle Is Real

Spartz: Highly intelligent and successful….but is there any soul beneath?

If you’ve read David Eggers’ The Circle, then you know it’s a dystopian novel about a Google-like company where quality and vitality are not just related: they are identical.

Meet Emerson Spartz, a 27 year-old alumnus of (I’m sorry to say) Notre Dame who, as this New Yorker profile calls him, is “the king of clickbait.” It’s an ominous and somewhat terrifying profile by Andrew Marantz, but then he and I are “old media.’

“A beautiful book?” says Spatz, who was raised in LaPorte, Ind. “I don’t even know what that means.”

Miss Universe Update

Ohhhh, Canada

That’s Miss Canada, Chanel Beckenlehner, wearing quite the inspired costume in a prelim at Miss Universe (there are prelims?). Anyway, my first thought was: High sticking!

Remote Patrol

Real Time with Bill Maher

HBO 10 p.m.

Agree or disagree, Maher’s show offers far more intriguing policy talk than the Sunday morning network shows. Somehow, I imagine they’ll find a way to discuss Ballghazi, too.



Starting Five

Chris Kyle, the “American Sniper”

1. Bullet Park

Until Chris Corbellini graces us with a review of American Sniper, my thoughts:

–Based on what I saw in the film (I have not read the book), Chris Kyle was the perfect soldier. Why? Because he was mission-oriented and not policy-oriented. He never asked WHY we were there; he only asked how he could best protect his fellow soldiers. I’m not arguing that makes him the ideal person, just the ideal soldier.

–Raised in Texas; joins the SEALs; heads over to Iraq. Kyle’s story reminded me some of Marcus Luttrell’s (“Lone Survivor”), although Luttrell is, of course, still alive.

–It’s a good, not great, film. Yes, Cooper is terrific, but almost all of his most effective and pathos-dripping scenes are available in one of two trailers I’d already seen (one for TV ads, another that appears as a previews tease in theaters). In fact,  I think it’s a far more compelling trailer than it is a film, which explains the massive first January weekend in sales.

–The director, Clint Eastwood, and the screenwriter, Jason Hall, did a solid job of making Kyle three-dimensional. He wasn’t overly concerned with enlightenment–Kyle was the perfect Bush/Cheney pawn, a young man who loved America and desired to serve and protect it, and of course there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just that, well, was this a just war? Kyle never questioned that, although one or two other characters in the film do.

–There were moments in the film when I thought, If this were a war fantasy film with no identifiable sides, would any audience be cheering for the side that possessed the overwhelming force and had seemingly indestructible vehicles and armor, the side that were technically the invaders? I’m not trying to draw anyone into a political debate, it’s just that, watching the film if you were an alien, would you really be rooting for the side Kyle was on? Why?

–Finally, I think future generations will hear the term “War on Terror” and either laugh or pity us. Or laugh or pity anyone who actually seriously used that term. I read “Comments” section missives about how what Kyle was doing was so important because he “was saving American lives.” As if American lives are more important than anyone else’s. I mean, Arizona lives, sure. But American?

This particular Bradley Cooper film is 100% Jennifer Lawrence-free…I think

–SPOILER ALERT: How’d you like to be the guy who auditioned for/landed the role of “creepy veteran who will murder our hero and is only introduced in the final scene?” His name is Vincent Selhorst-Jones and it turns out, he LOVES Physics.

–I always have time for what Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone has to say. While he takes no prisoners (and place them in Abu Ghraib?) in his commentary on the film, he makes some strong points. One of Taibbi’s biggest arguments (mine, too) of the past decade is that we’ve become so blind to thinking America is always right that we’ve stopped trying to suss out what is inherently right or wrong. As a country, we’ve become S-E-C homers. And it’s scary to watch.

2. Cinnabon Can Wait

A Goodman is easy to find

“I’ll just say it,” writes Stephen Marche in Esquire, “the first few episodes (of Better Call Saul) that I saw are better than Breaking Bad. They are smarter. They are sharper. I have never seen a prequel handled so cleverly.”

As Andy Samberg-as-Nicholas Cage might say, “High praise.”

Walter White’s consigliere has his own show on AMC (premieres Feb. 8) and it sounds as if Bob Odenkirk is about to do for defense attorneys what Hugh Laurie once did for docs.

3. “I Am Not a Crook!”

And it’s on to Seattle (or Glendale)

Bill Belichick appears at a press conference and maintains “I had no knowledge whatsoever about the situation until Monday morning….”

So Bill went all in…

Some people think BB threw his quarterback of 15 seasons under the bus, but that’s ludicrous. They’ve had more than 24 hours to coordinate their stories. This isn’t L.A. Confidential where Tom Brady and Belichick were put in different holding cells and played against one another.

Will Brady, who speaks at 4 p.m., also claim no knowledge? Or will he fall on his sword, flash his GQ grin, and hope the NFL suspends him from appearing in Uggs ads for the next year?

The Pats are gambling that the NFL will not impose a Super Bowl-related suspension, which is all they care about. Belichick, Brady and Kraft have not won a Super Bowl since 2005, an entire decade. Monetary fines do not worry them; not closing their careers with one more Vince Lombardi Trophy does.

Your move, Commissioner Goodell.

Meanwhile, I’m hoping a media member plays this tune as Brady enters his presser….

4. Plitt Falls

No, this is not your MH writer, though I can understand how you’d make that error…

Faster than a locomotive...” is a nice line for Superman but, despite that impressive torso, Greg Plitt was not born on the planet Krypton. The reality television star (<– oxymoron alert) died last weekend, according to TMZ, when he attempted to outrace a train as a stunt to promote an energy drink. Plitt finished second.

5. The Corrections

Miss Great Britain (red) and Miss Germany work on their short game

Pardon our irrational exuberance. The staff at Medium Happy improperly stated the date of the 2015 Miss Universe pageant as last night on NBC when actually it will be this Sunday night on NBC at 8 p.m. Medium Happy regrets the error. A reminder that every continent save Antarctica (Africa, Asia, Australia, North America and South America) has had at least one winner since the last time Europe, the bastion of western civilization –although the objectification of females is a planetary phenomenon– won. You’re due, Europe, and so we present Misses Great Britain and Germany….

Meanwhile, here’s hoping the judges properly inspect the bikini tops before the competition. We don’t need another Sunday sports event scandal…

Remote Patrol


Encore 9:50 p.m.

I know what you’re thinking, punk….

Remember when Clint Eastwood was the American sniper? Here’s his 1993 Oscar winner for Best Picture, which beat out A Few Good Men, which I hope we can all agree was a superior film. Oscar really needs a five-year rule on Best Picture nominees, kind of like the Baseball Hall of Fame….


Starting Five

1. Miss “Une a Versailles?”

We’ve moved “Remote Patrol” up to the pole position (“Scwhiiiiing!”) this morning in honor of the winter’s most anticipated sporting event: yes, the Miss Universe Pageant live from Miami (8 p.m., NBC). It’s like a slightly more objectified and yet less objectionable version of The Bachelor, what with its attention to diversity.

La femme jolie is Camille Cerf, who stands five-foot-eleven and according to the Miss Universe website, “is a twin, but does not look like her sister” (the Fates can be so cruel).

Listen. I am universally awful at handicapping Miss Universe pageants, but I’ll give you my five favorites anyway (and, yes, there is wagering on this event): France (my favorite), Russia (“Yulia always gets bruises and normally has no idea where she got them from“….um, I have an idea), Colombia (South America is a perennial favorite in the World Cup and the D-Cup), Australia (most Baywatch-able) and Lithuania (bad weather and an awful diet and yet Eastern Europe consistently produces top-notch talent! How do they do it? Viking genes…I’d have easily slid in Serbia of Slovak Republic here, too).

Miss France: We are in au…revoir

Another reason je t’aime France, besides her charm (“Cerf’s Up!”) and the overwhelming audience empathy for her country: a purely European nation –Russia’s a Euro/Asia straddler–has not won the title since 1990. She’s due. Or, as a twin, she’s deux.

2. Swaggy P

“I have no more campaigns left to run…”

Pause, followed by partisan applause from some of the members of Congress.

“I know, cuz I won both of ‘em.”


3. Under Pressured


Did the New England Patriots intentionally deflate 11 of the 12 footballs they used in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game victory against the Indianapolis Colts?

If they did, that order came directly from the top: Bill Belichick.

If you think that the game’s outcome –45-7– should play any role in how the NFL decides its punishment, i.e., if your argument is that the Patriots’ margin of victory illustrates that they did not need to cheat to win and hence who cares, well, I’m sorry that your parents did not do a better job.

At the very, very least —IF the Pats are guilty–Bill Belichick should get the Luis Suarez treatment and be banned from ALL football-related activities until after the Super Bowl. And you’d probably want to lock him up in the cell next to Hernandez to prevent him from finding a way around that ruling.

But me? I really wouldn’t mind seeing the Patriots kicked out of SB XLIX and sending the Colts instead. Roger Goodell botched one ruling six months ago by being far too lenient. an he really afford to make that mistake again?

4. Hawkmen

Can he play the 2 position? Or the 5?

Monday afternoon. MLK Day. The Atlanta Hawks, 27-2 since Thanksgiving (think about that for a moment) are hosting the Detroit Pistons in the first annual “Aren’t We Glad We Got Rid of Josh Smith?” Game. Anyway, the Hawks win.

Afterward, on a special live edition of the Grantland Basketball Hour on either ESPN or ESPN2 (for sentiment’s sake, let’s say it aired on “The Ocho”), Jalen Rose suggests that the Hawks deserve to place three players on the Eastern Conference All-Star roster. The Sports Guy agrees.

“Al Horford, Jeff Teague and Paul Millsap,” says Rose.

“What about Kyle Korver?” asks Simmons.

Cut to a few hours later. The TNT guys are having the same discussion. Kenny the Jet and Barkley chime in that the Hawks have three All-Stars this season: Horford, Teague and Millsap.

“No mention of Kyle Korver?” asks Ernie Johnson.

The two exchanges illustrate a couple of truisms: First, even on MLK Day, or perhaps especially on MLK Day, we are all still prone to racial bias, even if it is without malice; second, I watch entirely too much television.

It’s funny. At first I thought it was heresy to suggest Korver, in his 13th season, should NOT make his first All-Star team. He’s on pace for a 50-50-90 season, which has never been done. However, Korver is last among these four Hawks in points per game, assists per game and PER. He’s third in rebounds. It’s not so crazy to say he’s below these three in being All-Star worthy.

Then again, the East is pretty bad. Put these four and Jimmy Butler on the squad and you’re probably set. Okay, Susie B., plus LeBron and Kyrie…

5. Nightly, Darkly

Loving Wilmore, 53, and loving the upside down (yes, but from whose perspective?) globe that serves as the backdrop

Two nights into his run, and I like what Larry Wilmore is doing with his Comedy Central offering “The Nightly Show.” (runs after Jon Stewart in most markets) He’s the black guy doing Jon Stewart’s schtick with he moral authority –or at least the DNA–to take on African-American issues without being an outisder.

I’d never call Stewart’s act vanilla (it isn’t), but Wilmore’s is certainly chocolate. On his first night he asked a question I’ve been asking for years, “Why is Al Sharpton the go-to black voice that the media gives a platform to for every racial issue (the Rev never even graduated college)?”

Lsst night Wilmore took on Bill Cosby.We’ll ask the question, Did he do it?…The answer will be yes.”

It would’ve been easy for Wilmore to go Oprah! and discuss the lack of diversity at the Oscars. Instead, he opted not to be a cheerleader but a man who looks under the band-aid. Promising start.

Remote Patrol

Rockets at Warriors

TNT 10:30 p.m.

James, Beard. Harden is a refreshing throwback to the early 70s NBA (and ABA) when hoops was filled with colorful characters….

Oh, this is a treat and a possible Western Conference finals preview. The league’s best team, the Warriors, are 18-1 at home, 33-6 overall and have everyone’s midseason favorite for league MVP, Stephen Curry. Plus, they’re just so damn fun to watch. The Rockets’ (29-13) James Harden is the NBA scoring leader (27.1) for a team that is trying to overcome the loss of Chandler Parsons and the addition of Josh Smith.


Starting Five

So it’s Open Mic morning here at MH (“or should I say, heh heh, ‘Open Micah’ morning…yes see because, um….waka waka waka”) . Loyal reader and amateur phlebotomist Micah Sage has volunteered to dance around the keys this a.m. and I thought, Hey, why not? So please welcome MS to MH and, honestly, I have no idea if he’s a phlebotomy enthusiast. 

1. Shrinking Balls

Did the Patriots deflate their footballs during Sunday night’s beating of the Colts (the worst loss on a big stage by an Indiana-based football team since Alabama annihilated Notre Dame in the second to last BCS championship game). And is the NFL investigating?

From the sounds of it, the worst that could happen for the Pats is a loss of draft picks. I’m not saying that deflating footballs gives a team an advantage to the point of a 45-7 blowout, but if you cheat in a game, shouldn’t that result in a forfeit? I mean, if a student is caught cheating on just 1 question on a 100-question test, doesn’t that usually result in an F on the test?

We’ve seen this story before, though in the warmer climes of Southern California, with the student manager taking the hit.

Rumors have circulated that Lane Kiffin may make a return to the NFL next year as an Offensive Coordinator. Could this just be Belichick rolling out the red carpet for Lane?

2. MTV Goes Black & White

If you’re one of those people who hasn’t yet cut the cord, you may have seen that MTV went full on 1950s for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, airing all of its programming in black-and-white.

Since I am one of those cord cutters, I can’t confirm, nor deny if MTV actually aired music videos while they went throwback Monday.

Editor’s Note: But if MTV did actually do this, please tell me that they aired THIS video...


3. You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Nightmare

If you act now, you can get a Shaw Flank Redemption on your purchase…

One of my biggest fears growing up stemmed from watching Jaws with my older brothers and sisters. I’m the youngest of five, born and raised in St. Louis as a good Catholic who always wanted to do what his older siblings did. As the story goes, said eldest siblings ganged up on me and “forced” me to watch Jaws as a wee one. Nightmares ensued. Back in the pre-CGI era of movie making, this was as scary as it got.

At the pool the ensuing summer, they all convinced me that great white sharks were living under the huge grate in the deep end of the pool. That may explain why I hated swimming in anything deeper than what I could stand with my head above water.

If the terrifying dreams and fear of swimming weren’t enough, this would have completely pushed me over the edge. This Joseph Reginella-built nightmare throne conveniently comes in both crib-size and twin-size so you can scar your newborn and your toddler for life.

4. Evolutionary Science Programming Network?

They’ll be calling tonight’s Kentucky game…

I imagine Norby was not thrilled to see a creation vs. evolution debate play out last week between what is arguably their best college basketball game-calling tandem of Bill Walton & Dave Pasch. Good thing Jay Bilas was there to defuse some tension.

Apparently a similar debate raged over Twitter between two other ESPN personalities in November.

What’s interesting to me is that the Deadspin article portrays Pasch outing himself, words eliciting the same feeling as someone “coming out of the closet.” Since that seems to be the nomenclature we’re going with then I’ll go ahead and “out myself” as being a Creationist, too. I’m far, far from being alone.

For the record, I’m not offended that Bill gave Dave The Origins of Species, or even that it happened on live TV.

5. The Wire: Bushwick

Have you noticed that Saturday Night Live’s best “skits” for awhile now have been their pre-taped pieces? Makes sense: they have more time to work on them. Remember “Do It In My Twin Bed” or “39 Cents?”

Last weekend Kevin Hart was the host and they did a phenomenal job of mashing-up The Wire with the hipsterization of Brooklyn…

Mouse Patrol

Like I said, I’m a cord cutter. My wife and I are Netflix subscribers and get any and all of the free recent episodes of our favorite TV shows via Hulu or network websites. So, as a twist of the typical Remote Patrol, I present Mouse Patrol … what the wife and I will or could be watching online tonight:

Bones Season 9 on Netflix – My wife and I are living in the past (2013) when it comes to one of our favorite shows. Shh! Don’t tell me if they ever catch the Ghost Killer!



Starting Five

Thanks to all for your concern–about missing Friday’s edition. I can’t really explain it. One minute I was talking to four strangers in a bar and the next I was beaten up and bloodied on a beach with homeless people prodding me. That part I enjoyed. The prodding.

The winning play….

1. Kearsed!

Confucius say, “Coach who settle for pair of one-yard field goals in first quarter is destined to lose.”

I saw it. You saw it. Don’t know how it happened. As horrible as Seattle looked in the first half –and they did–the score was only 16-0 so I didn’t think they were out of it. Then they scored a Fat Guy/Special Teams touchdown (punter Jon Ryan to backup OL Garry Gilliam) and I definitely did not believe they were out of it.

Then the ‘hawks sputtered. Then Russell Wilson, who has taken to growing an Andrew Luck-style beard, threw his fourth INT with less than five minutes to play and I actually said, “That’s it.”

(and I hate it when people call games prematurely, but here I am guilty of it myself)

Anyway, you saw the unlikely comeback. My favorite moment was when Marshawn Lynch scored the go-ahead touchdown and would only extend a polite and business-like handshake to teammates. He’s quite a fellow.

Alan Ameche’s touchdown in the 1958 NFL Championship Game: the last time an NFL playoff game was decided by a touchdown in overtime.

Seattle becomes the first defending Super Bowl champion to return to the contest in 10 years. New England advances to its sixth Super Bowl of the Belichick-Brady era.

You’ll be seeing a lot of this photo in the next two weeks…


Meanwhile, New England snuffed the life out of this fun Ric Flair meme. Oh, Sergio Brown, I really never thought I’d see you again after that UConn loss back in South Bend…

For the record..

“I’m a Rolex-wearin’/Diamond ring wearin’/Kiss stealin’/Wheelin’ dealin’/Limousine ridin’/Jet flyin’/Son of a gun/And I’m havin’ a hard time holding’ these alligators down/Now give me two claps and a Ric Flair (Whoooooo!)”

2. Wheels of Fortune

’64 Jaguar

If you think that the rich and powerful will be descending on/escaping to the Valley of the Sun for Super Bowl XLIX in two weeks, well, they’re already here. This past week the Phoenix area hosted about three or four high-end auto auctions. The annual Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Event, staged in Scottsdale, is the best-known, but as one car dealer told me, “It’s a whorehouse.”

The $7.7 Mil Ferrari

That man, by the way, sold his 1961 Jaguar at the Goodingco.Com auction for $363,000. Take a look at the prices these vehicles fetched (the Jag is Lot 123). And while that’s a decent price, this 1959 Ferrari Spider garnered $7,700,000.

3. Mass…of Humanity

Immediately after the service, coffee and doughnuts were served in the basement rectory

On the final day of his three-day pilgrimage to the Philippines, Pope Francis celebrated mass said outdoors for a congregation of SIX MILLION people. That is reportedly a record, breaking Pope John Paul II’s mark of 5 million set in 1995, also in the Philippines. With its 80 million Catholicss, the Philippines are akin to the high-altitude conditions of Denver for record-setting in terms of mass attendance.

4. Vonn Ties Historic Mark

Cow. Tiger. Lindsey is just an animal lover.

A pair of knee surgeries over the past 13 months may have prevented Lindsey Vonn from competing in Sochi, but this weekend in Italy she won a World Cup downhill event, the 62nd of her career. In so doing Vonn tied a 35 year-old record held by Austria’s Annemarie Moser-Proell for the most World Cup wins by a woman (Ingemar Stenmark holds the men’s mark of 86).

Imagine that phone call:

Lindsey: “Honey, do you have any idea what it’s like to hear about a record that some doubted you may ever reach for years and then to finally equal that mark?”

Tiger: “Um…well…the thing of it is…”

5. Joe’s Back!

Last Friday was the best day of Joe Paterno’s death: the NCAA, as part of its settlement with Penn State (read: both sides are tired of paying the lawyers), restored the 111 victories it had wrested from JoePa, giving him 409, making him once again the winningest coach in FBS history. Basically, the NCAA said that that time it told everyone something never happened, never happened.

As for the innocence of the dozens of lads buggered by Jerry Sandusky, the NCAA cannot restore that..

Remote Patrol


Lifetime 8 p.m.

It’s been almost three years since Whitney Houston was found dead in a tub in the Beverly Hilton, so Lifetime needed to do this biopic on the erstwhile pop diva, music’s answer to ‘What Can Brown Do To You?” Anyway, Yaya DaCosta, above, landed the title role.




The crew at Medium Happy were practicing trust falls this a.m. and the staff mascot, Mirk, forgot that it was his turn to catch someone. Much pain, confusion and, of course, recriminations, ensued. Oh, there were recriminations alright.

We’re working on an illustrated cover of the incident under the banner “TOUT LE PARDONNEZ!” right now. Bear with us. Cat with us. We’ll try to get to LeBron (“I’m Coming Home”) and Cardale (“I’m staying home”) later, but c’mon, this is already better than 84.3% of all previous Medium Happy posts…



1. Auguste, St. Joe County

Notre Dame basketball, off to its best start (16-2) since the peak years of Digger Phelps, may be without 6-10 center Zach Auguste for awhile. Auguste, the team’s most improved player who is averaging 14.3 points and 6.7 boards per game, missed last night’s game at Georgia Tech with “academic issues.”

It’s become more of an expected semester ritual at Notre Dame than an SYR.

Fall Semester, 2014: Frozen Five; Spring Semester, 2014: Jerian Grant and DaVaris Daniels; Fall Semester, 2013: Everett Golson.

Hey, this has happened before (Julius Jones, anyone), but rooting for the Irish, as one tweep said yesterday, is just like waiting to be punched in the nuts. I should amend that: rooting for the Irish men’s teams.

Anyway, sources tell the Chicago Tribune that Auguste did not commit an honor code violation, so it may be just a matter of making up work from last semester. That bodes well.  Classes began on Tuesday in South Bend.

Without their only true post player, a junior from Marlborough, Mass., the Irish are at best a Sweet 16 team (and that’s being optimistic). With him, in a season such as this where Notre Dame may have already played the nation’s top team just this past weekend –losing to Virginia, 62-56–they could go as far as Digger ever took a team…to the Final Four. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, one web site tabbed Notre Dame football as the No. 2 “up and coming” team of next August. And left tackle Ronnie Stanley, who could be a first-team All-American in 2015, announced that he will return for a senior year (as will nose guard Sheldon “Lonesome” Day). However, it’s way too soon to know which Irish gridders will run afoul of the blue books and graduate student T.A.s this spring and summer.

2. “And I’m Freeeeeeeeee! Free Climbing!”

“But Tony, I brought the sandwiches” “Step off, George.”

Climbers Tommy Caldwell, 36, and Kevin Jorgeson, 30, took dead aim at Rule No. 1 (“Gravity Always Wins”) and lived to tell about it. The pair became the first men in history to free climb Yosemite’s 3,000-foot El Capitan, the world’s largest granite monolith, earlier this week.

Caldwell and Jorgeson’s euphoria was short-lived, however. When they reached the summit, they were beset by Jon Snow, Samwell Tarley and a host of other sworn members of the Night’s Watch, and quickly put in a cell.

For the record: The pair did have harnesses on in case they fell, but they did the entire climb with no outside assistance (i.e. ropes, carabiners, etc.). All arms, legs, core muscles, fingers and toes. That is officially cray-cray.

3. Oscar, Oscar, Oscar

I have yet to see or mention “Whiplash,” which I know a lot of people loved. My thought? They should’ve titled it “American Drummer.”

The New York Times posits, quite correctly, that the two films that are locks to be nominated for “Best Picture” are Birdman and Boyhood. My feeling: both are somewhat flawed and neither is as compelling or just plain good as Nightcrawler, which was completely ignored by the Hollywood Foreign Press at the Golden Globes.

I realize that I’m championing one film here, but as much as I LOVED a few scenes in Birdman, the last Edward Norton-free half hour is kind of a mess. Worked for some but not for me. Boyhood, as I’ve said before, just isn’t that great. We all get the conceit. Bravo! Doesn’t necessarily make it a Best Picture-level film.

Nightcrawler, though, is the kind of movie you can watch over and over.
Also, Eddie Redmayne, a relative unknown, may be the Best Actor favorite because he adhered to Robert Downey, Jr.’s, advice of “never go full retard” in his portrayal of Stephen Hawking. However, Jake Gyllenhaal is a world-class actor with an outstanding resume and here he just gave the best performance of his career (besides the one in which he pretended that he had sincere feelings for Taylor Swift for two months) as Lou Bloom.

The Times’ article advocates for Nightcrawler, as do I. Even more so, I hope Gyllenhaal wins Best Actor before I learn how to spell his surname without having to look it up.

Oh, and I don’t think The Interview will win Best Film or Best Foreign-Hacked Film.

Update: Nominations coming up as I type….So, you can forget most of what I just wrote as Nightcrawler and Gyllenhaal got screwed. Here’s the list of Oscar noms…

4. Bad Look for NFL (Again)

This, we assume, was not McNary’s one phone call he was allowed to make…

One of the four remaining teams in the NFL playoffs is the Indianapolis Colts, who just happened to have one of their linebackers, Josh McNary, charged with rape. McNary is a West Point alum who served two years in the United States Army. Could’ve been an inspirational story leading into Sunday’s game at New England; now, just another bad look for Roger Goodell’s league.

When police arrived at McNary’s door in relation to the December 1 incident, McNary reportedly told them, “I know why you’re here.”

McNary, a backup for the Colts, is Army’s all-time leader in Sacks (28) and Tackles for Loss (49).

Thought du Jour

Free speech is going to see Selma dressed in KKK garb. I’m just sayin’…

Remote Patrol

Cavaliers at Lakers

TNT 10:30 p.m.

“Who’s got a Harvard degree and made the cover of SI in consecutive weeks? THIS GUY!”

Two teams with losing records who just happen to have –arguably–two of the top ten players in NBA history on their rosters. Kobe. LeBron. But watch as Kryie Irving and Swaggy P. take over the show….


Starting Five

Hey, JW, aren’t you “Deadspinning” here? Accusing another outlet of covering something not worthy of coverage as a cover to cover it yourself? Brilliant!

1. “When You Wish Upon a Star…”

The Phoenix Suns, paced by Markeiff Morris’ 35 points, outlasted the Cleveland Cavaliers 107-100 last night to improve to 23-18.

No. Try it like this:

The Cleveland Cavaliers continued to show symptoms of dysfunction as they dropped their ninth game of the past 10 at Phoenix. Kevin Love did not play in the fourth quarter and while LeBron James did contribute 33 points, what did he think he was doing attending the College Football Playoff National Championship game one night earlier in Arlington?

ESPN’s “SportsCenter” highlight showed all of one Suns basket. hed this a.m.: “Cavs Still Straying Off Course.”

Who owns ESPN? Disney. What does Disney know as well as anyone? The importance of creating characters that audiences care about…

I’ll give credit where it’s due: Brian Windhorst did a terrific job on this story.

The Cavs, owners of the NBA’s 14th-best record, have tonight off, then it’s back-to-backs Thursday and Friday night at the Staples Center (Lakers, then Clips), where they will face a massive Windhorst-Markazi double-team. Courage, boys.

2. May Day? 

Pound for pound, the greatest pugilist of the 21st century

Promoter Bob Arum tells Yahoo! Sports that his client, Manny Pacquiao, has agreed to a May 2nd bout with Floyd Mayweather. It’s the (non-MMA) fight that fans of the sweet science have wanted for at least half a decade.

Pacquiao, 57-5-2, would get 40% of the gate. He is 36.

Mayweather, 47-0, would get 60% of the gate (plus whatever he wagers on himself). He will be 38.

This would easily be the most lucrative fight in history. Tickets at the MGM Grand would reportedly go for $5,000 at face value. and Mayweather could earn more than $100 million.

3. Gone Girl

That is SO wrong, JW. So wrong….

Reports that Ann Curry is leaving NBC News for good. Bully for you, Ann. You were in that bad marriage too long as it is. They did not appreciate you. I thought the work you did on the Syrian refugees in Jordan was topnotch.

Then again, you are earning $12 million per annum without doing too much heavy lifting. Geez, the money in TV is crazy (If only I were telegenic or had any experience on camera or could write my way out of a paper bag; not that I’d see any purpose of writing my way out of a paper bag, and how big would that bag need to be, any who? I mean….).

Seriously, if Ann Curry is making $12 mil a year, can you imagine what Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are hauling in? No wonder Amy got the new globes. By the way, did you notice that shot she fired across the bow at ex-hubby Will Arnett in relation to Gone Girl? Aaaaaand, we’re back to the top…

4. “107 Bottles of Beer on the Wall, 107 Bottles of Beer…”

Next time he should wear 107

Wade Boggs, a man known for having a rapacious appetite, reportedly told Charlie Day (of It’s Always Sunny with Horrible Bosses, 2 fame) that he once consumed 107 beers in a day. Hey, if Rob Konrad can swim 9 miles in the open ocean on a January night, why not? Chuck Norris stares up at both of you gentlemen in awe…

5. Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?

To my friends at the Paul and Young Ron Morning Show in south Florida. It’s not my role to believe, or to disbelieve, Rob Konrad. I’m not his friend, as you are (and I’m not his adversary). It’s my job to keep asking questions until the facts of his extraordinary ordeal and his survival are unimpeachable. When the person at the center of the tale is the only one with facts available, it is right to be skeptical.

Richard Nixon famously said, “I am NOT a crook.” Oh, well, in that case, let’s stop the investigation (hey, I’m not saying the nation would have been worse off if we had; I’m just trying to demonstrate a point).

For good measure, I invite anyone to visit his/her local 25-yard pool and swim 650 laps without touching the sides (or bottom). If you can replicate 4-foot swells, even better. Of course, the physical trials are only half the equation.

The will to survive, the other half,  is a truly powerful thing, particularly in someone who has already demonstrated extraordinary athleticism and fortitude in the past. The question is: What are its limits? And the answer is that almost all of us walking and breathing have never been pushed anywhere near far enough to know.

I do know this, though. My friend Phyllis Reffo, an extraordinary athlete who at age 50 swam on the Pepperdine swim team and does 3-4 mile swims in the Pacific, heard the tale and called it “impossible to believe.”

The acolytes seem to think that because Mr. Konrad spoke in a press conference about his ordeal that there are no questions left to ask. Or that by asking questions, that I am suggesting an ulterior and sinister version. Not true. If it’s as simple as Rob Konrad’s will to live superseded what most humans would be able to endure, bully for him. And I hope next time he wears a life-jacket when he is out fishing alone.

Remote Patrol

Again, nothing really worth watching tonight. Do what I’m doing and bingewatch from start to series finale the emotional thrill ride that was The Courtship of Eddie’s Father….


Starting Five

“Oh, you’d like a photograph to serve as a metaphor? Okay, how about this one?”

1. Urban Renewal

“He was born in the summer of his 47th year/Coming home to a place he’d never been before”.…Ohio native Urban Meyer completes his magical quest, leading Ohio State to a national championship behind a freight train –quarterback Cardale Jones--disguised as a third-string quarterback.

Sophomore running back Ezekiel Elliott rushes for a championship game-record 246 yards. Meyer has now, like Nick Saban, won a trio of national championships in the past 10 years and has won championships at two different schools. Cue the Urban > St. Nick columns.

The game’s signature play, right chee-ah.

Also, Mean Tweets, a segment that never fails to deliver, gives us its College Football Edition (not appearing: Tom Rinaldi).

p.s. The photo editing staff of MH happened to pick the above shot only to see later that SI is using the same pic for its cover. Great mimes…

2. Boyyyyyyeee-hood

Don’t laugh: This film got a 96% rating on Rotten Tomatoes (only 2% below Boyhood)

I didn’t dislike Boyhood. I just don’t think it was close to being the most compelling film of the year.

What’s amusing to me is that it’s almost like that science fair project that no one quite understands but that all the parents agree probably required the most effort. Last year, 12 Years a Slave won the Oscar for Best Picture. This year it might be “12 Years a Slave to Richard Linklater’s Process.”

But now it’s the favorite heading into the Oscars because the Hollywood Foreign Press (a bunch of dudes and dudettes named Kirpi, Yoko and Paz) named it Best Motion Picture, Drama. Kudos to them for having far more pull as a brand than their individual members could ever hope to have.

Oh, and I also thought that if you were going to give a Best Actor statuette to anyone in that film, Ethan Hawke deserved it. Ethan, you’re going to need to get uglier before you get the great bauble (ask Tom Cruise).

3. An Alcoholic Beverage Worse than Bud Light? Yes!

Yet another reason the Budweiser lizards were such a horrible idea…

In Mozambique 71 people die after drinking a home brew known as Phombe. Everyone who died was involved in a funeral (hello, Irony) or involved in making the brew. Originally, “crocodile bile” was blamed as being the toxic ingredient but some experts are labeling that claim –do forgive me–a croc of shit.

Anyway, you have to hand it to Africa: no continent has uncovered as many creative ways for scores of people to perish on a weekly basis (Boko Haram, Ebola and now Craft Beer).

4. Charlie’s Angels

Is it just me, or is there a little subliminal message being sent by the shape of this character’s headgear?

Because I was curious, and because I haven’t seen anyone in the media explain the etymology of the name (maybe you should stop watching Gilmore Girls reruns all day, JW) (Hey, don’t judge), here it is: “Charlie” is both after a monthly of the same title, which itself was inspired by Charlie Brown, as well as an inside joke related to former French president Charles de Gaulle. “Hebdo” is short for “Hebdomadaire,” which means “weekly.”

Anyway…the murders of 10 staffers did not prevent the remaining members of CH from not only printing this week’s issue but upping the run from its ordinary total of 60,000 to about 3 million (a true cynic would find a way to note that this is one way for print to save itself).

Meanwhile, reports that some Parisian Muslims are blaming Jews for orchestrating the attacks in order to make Muslims look bad and a religion in denial says what?

5. Kevin Hate

Ohhhh, ohhh, ohhh, why can’t this be Love?

Yes, Kevin Garnett appears to call Dwight Howard a “bitch ass nigga” last night at the Barclay’s Center as the Rockets rolled over the Nets (nice work here, Jason McIntyre). Garnett is the NBA’s leader (all-time leader?) in “It’s business, it’s not personal” boorish behavior. You’re up, Adam Silver.

Remote Patrol

It may be time to sit down and read a book. Or exercise. Or go on a date. Or better yet, sleep. Really, you still want to watch television? Well, I will not endorse such an activity tonight.



Starting Five

Impressive and inspiring. On the other hand, the French didn’t care who won yesterday’s games in Green Bay and Denver.

1. Sunday Masses

More than one million people gathered for a unity rally in Paris yesterday. Meanwhile, last week Boko Haram reportedly massacred 2,000 people in one town in northern Nigeria, but that was in Africa, sooooooo…

“Oui Shall Overcome.” Parisians prove it is possible for a million or so to gather in the streets peacefully even if Taylor Swift is not performing.

Still, it was heartening to see 40 world leaders (but no one from the USA) link hands and join an estimated 1.6 million people in Paris for the rally. Overall, an estimated 3.7 million people took part in rallies across France yesterday.

One warning note: I hate to be the buzzkill here, but if I’m Al Qaeda or ISIS or whoever, and I see that an act of terror can draw that many people –including so many important figures–together in one place, well, I’ve got my next two-fer planned. A follow-up attack with a sucide bomber at this rally would have claimed far more lives.

2. “Overthromaha!”

“I am not/Having too much fun” (Nationwide jingle)

A pair of teams that went a combined 16-0 at home this season, Green Bay and Denver, hosted playoff games on Sunday. The Broncos lost and the Packers survived.

Denver, except for an astoundingly gritty 4th-down run by C.J. Anderson in the third quarter, looked anemic. Peyton Manning overthrew too many receivers and then when he didn’t, on short bubble screens, they dropped his passes. Andrew Luck was seldom pressured. Jim Irsay looks like a genius now. An alcohol-fueld and drug-addled genius, but a genius.

“This might be, my finaaalll game.” (Peyton, “Nationwide” voice).

I mean, it would be poetic if Peyton allows a loss to Andrew Luck and the Colts to be his final game,  no?

Incomplete though it may have been, Dez Bryant’s effort and athleticism on this fourth down pass was phenomenal.

Meanwhile at Lambeau, it was also Dallas’ first road loss of the season. The Cowboys looked to be in position to take the lead late with Dez Bryant’s balletic catch on fourth down that brought America’s Team to the Packer 1, but it was overturned on review. The Calvin Johnson rule.

I get the rule and I get why Bryant and Dallas are upset, but here’s what I wish were different: Okay, Bryant failed to “complete the process,” but the ball popped out of his grasp and then back into his grasp before it ever touched the ground again. If you consider it as the ground causing the fumble, well, he recovered before the ball struck the ground again.

Because I’m old, my mind immediately returned to Super Bowl XII and former Cowboy Butch Johnson’s touchdown catch. Did Butch “complete the process?”

3. Wifetime Achievement Award

George and Amal

Best speeches at the Golden Globes: George Clooney, Michael Keaton and Kevin Spacey. Funniest intros: Ricky Gervais, noting how he will not insult those in attendance because America doesn’t want to hear it (“Ordinary people at home don’t want to hear how you’re better than ordinary people; you know it, they know it…”) ; and Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig reciting “famous” movie lines (“Not today”).

The only thing missing from the Hader-Wiig riff were cameras panning to a pissed off Tommy Lee Jones not enjoying himself one bit. They should have just panned to Frances McDormand or Matthew McConaughey, neither of whom seemed to be enjoying the evening a-tall.

No mention of Clooney’s “Facts of Life” work last night…

The big winners last night were homosexuality and cleavage, and I know you’re asking, “So how was this different from any other awards show?”

J-Lo definitely showed nip, which inspired Jeremy Renner’s nip quip: “You sure have golden globes.”

And here’s Tina Fey and Amy (Check out my new Golden Globes) Pohler on Bill Cosby

Best Motion Picture Drama was Boyhood. I like that Jack Black noted it was filmed IN 12 weeks over 12 years, “so let’s pump the brakes on that a little.”

4. Mangia

Not on Bourdain’s List: this unlisted burger joint hidden inside a luxe Midtown Manhattan hotel.

This is old, but I’d never seen it before. Yesterday I overhead a dude mentioning it as he stood outside a bar smoking, and I was intrigued. So here it is, “Anthony Bourdain’s 13 Places to Eat Before You Die.” 

Spoiler Alert: Olive Garden did not make the list.

For you out-of-towners: For a memorable cheap eats experience, I recommend Burger Joint in midtown Manhattan. You’ll have to search a little to find it, but these days that just means plugging the name into Google.

5. 1,000 on Hold

Jahlil Okafor of the One-and-Done Devils…

No. 2 Duke lost its first game of the season yesterday at nearby North Carolina State –your AAU team may have traveled farther for its game–but don’t weep for Coach K, who remains “stuck” on 997 career wins.

Had the Blue Devils won, Krzyzewski would have been on pace to win his 1,000th on the road, at Louisville (no easy task). Instead, if Duke can get past the No. 5 Cardinals, then he’ll be slated to win No. 1,000 at Cameron Indoor, which would be more fitting, against Pitt on Jan. 19. If Duke loses another before then, it’ll most likely come AT St. John’s at MSG.

Also losing yesterday: No. 7 Arizona at Oregon and No. 4 Wisconsin at Rutgers. Bad day for the ranked against the file.

Remote Patrol

Ohio State vs. Oregon (Kind of a Big Deal)

ESPN 8:30 p.m.

Cardale Jones

The scholarly, soft-spoken Heisman Trophy winner versus the guy who said, “We’re here to play football, we’re not here to ‘play school.'” Joey Bosa’s shrug. O Faces aplenty. I’ll take Urban Meyer for the win, not just to cover the shrinking spread…