Here’s what happened: On Friday evening, as I left my weekly manicure and was phoning Ubercar for a ride to the heliport, I decided to visit Medium Happy to see if we’d reached our typical daily total of 100 comments yet. Instead, I got nothing. The site had vanished faster than Nora Durst’s family.*
And so I did what I normally do in moments of technological panic. I hurled epithets and phoned Tim “Oak” O’Connor, the genius who originally spoon-fed this site to me. Oak devoted a good portion of the next few days to correcting the problem while neglecting his son, “Acorn Oak,” a choice that will likely result in said offspring not being accepted into a reputable or even accredited college. As it turned out, our left axle was busted and the cam-shaft was also not firing properly (I have no idea if cam-shafts fire). So, thanks, Oak, for coming to my rescue. If I had any real skills, I’d offer those in exchange, but really, this is all I know how to do. And juggling. So, if you ever need a juggler.
Anyway, I don’t know whom The Guilty Remnant is on this hacking episode, only that there are too many viable suspects to list. Also, I sort of enjoyed the three-day holiday, I’ll be honest. But we’re back. And we (air hug) missed (air smooch) you, too!
*What?!? A “The Leftovers” reference? Two of them?!? Really?
1. Robin Good
So much may be said –and, as my brother notes, too much already has been (“Seed,” he tells me, “you must remind people how awful Popeye was”) — about Robin Williams, so I’ll just add three notes here: 1) this Golden Globes acceptance speech, in which he received the Cecil B. DeMille Award for Lifetime Achievement, perfectly epitomizes him in my mind. Why? Because there are a few moments of genius, just as many that have true warmth, and then there’s a few jokes that you just wish he’d edited out. The kind that make you squirm a little. In a 60 Minutes profile done on him in the 1980s, Williams even said that there were times where his brain wanted to pull him aside and ask, “Why did you just say that?”
I mean, sure, I’ll linger on Dead Poets Society and Good Will Hunting if they’re on, but does anyone stop what they’re doing to watch Jumanji? Hook? Patch Adams?
2) In the late spring of 1989, Dead Poets Society was released. At the time I was dealing with a very similar quandary that the character Neil was facing. In retrospect you understand that Neil’s choice between medical school and the arts, of those two alternatives, either was better than suicide. Fortunately, I didn’t have access to a gun and, much like my hero Rust Cohle, I lacked the constitution for suicide.
The dual irony here? Mr. Keating could not prevent Neil’s suicide –some at Welton Academy would say he precipitated it– and then Williams himself committed suicide. Also, that the actor portraying Neil —Robert Sean Leonard–grew up to stay employed as an actor whose biggest role, and he was very convincing, was as a physician.
3) This anecdote, courtesy of Norm Macdonald, is worth a read. I call this “the Vinny Klunk Act” after a childhood buddy who rescued me in a moment of terror and panic (although we may need to update it as the “Tim O’Connor Act.”). People who perform deeds like this, well, they are all too few.
2. Put Your Hands in the Air/Like You Just Do Care
That’s some crazy stuff that’s going on in Ferguson, South Africa. I thought they’d outlawed aparthe–what? Ferguson, Missouri?
Even if you go to the far right and assume, if you choose, that Michael Brown was insolent to the policeman, why is a police cruiser pulling up to two young men at noon on a Saturday and is a cop invoking the F-word to tell them to walk on the sidewalk? Why are police dressing in camouflage gear like failed Army Rangers wannabes? Why is Michael Brown, who should be in the first week of college classes today, dead?
HBO’s Bill Maher was quite prescient on Michael Brown’s needless murder when, back on July 22nd, he ended his “New Rules” segment with a monologue titled “Blitzkrieg Cop.” Watch the whole thing, but here’s the gist of it, “Once you start dressing and equipping people like an occupying army, they start acting like one.”
There are definitely moments when we need the police to use force, sometimes deadly force. Most of the time, though, good community police work simply involves keeping the peace…which involves relating to people at the same level. And a sense of humor.
My dad, an 18-year sheriff’s deputy, once had to break up a racial riot at a jail between two minority groups. He and fellow officers quelled he melee (he’d never use those words) and then he shouted, “I don’t give a damn what color you are. To me, you’re all green!”
My dad waited a beat. Then he said, “Now, I want the dark green guys on this side of the room and the light green guys on that side of the room.”
They all cracked up laughing. That was effective law enforcement.
And I’m not sure if this is the best or worst possible weekend to release a film titled Let’s Be Cops, but I’m thinking it’s the latter.
Finally, take a look at this incredible photo essay by Scott Olson, who has taken the shot of the year.
3. Where There’s Smoke…
In Tony Stewart’s defense: Sprint cars are an entirely different animal than stock cars, and you actually use the throttle to steer….Kevin Ward, Jr., should have never left his vehicle and definitely should have never walked toward Stewart’s vehicle…the track is poorly lit on the backstretch, Ward was wearing a black suit and helmet, and this was dirt, not pavement.
On the other hand: Tony Stewart was by far the most skilled driver on the track that night at Canandaigua Motorsporks Park….the fact that Stewart-Haas Racing competition director Greg Zipadelli would even utter “Business as usual” following Ward’s death is indicative of how callous Stewart is. Zipadelli doesn’t say that unless his team’s prized driver has adamantly stated that he is driving on Sunday and Zipadelli does not recant unless someone higher up in NASCAR gets on the phone and asks, “What in the wide world of sports do you think you’re doing?!?”…Four other cars eluded Ward, Jr.; granted, he walked directly toward Stewart’s car, but probably only Stewart knows how much time he had to avoid the young man…If you’re the Ontario County District Attorney, I don’t see why you at least do not seek an indictment on manslaughter in the second degree. The only question here would be whether Stewart was “aware of and consciously disregarded a substantial and unjustifiable risk.” As far as that issue is concerned, how can anyone involved say that it is resolved with 100% certainty.
You know what I haven’t heard a lot of in the aftermath of Ward’s death? A slew of NASCAR drivers stepping up and saying what a great guy Tony Stewart is, how he would never intend to bully or harm anyone on the track. The silence is telling.
Is Stewart guilty of second-degree manslaughter? I don’t know. But I don’t understand how anyone is able to say for sure that he is innocent at this moment.
4. “From the Crap Part of Stamford…”
This had to happen. Michael Davies and Roger Bennett, a.k.a. the Men in Blazers, were just too entertaining and far too British (I know, that’s redundant) on their ESPN World Cup podcasts and appearances to just disappear into the woodwork of an MLS season. The duo, both of whom now reside in New York (Davies has citizenship; I believe Rog is still waiting) belonged on a stage where they could opine on the EPL, and that meant NBC, which has the rights.
Because, let’s face it, compared to the EPL or La Liga, the MLS is tiny bananas.
(Someone I know very well called for this to happen back in late June.)
So, I don’t know how exactly they worked it out with Grantland, but Sam Flood & Co. threw some money at them and now MIB will be part of NBC’s “sokkuh” coverage. And I do hope they find a way to lasso Ted, er, Lasso to regularly appear. Pro tip for Michael and Rog: Just tell Sam how much you love hockey every time you see him and all will be fine. Also, wear lots of Michigan Wolverine gear. #Courage
p.s. For me, this was the performance that took their act to a new plateau, from which they’ll never descend.
5. Coming Up on the SEC Network
The SEC Network, ESPN’s latest foray into world domination, makes its debut today. A programming guide:
10:00 a.m. Wuerffel House: In which a former Florida quarterback samples the South’s finest fare.
10:30 a.m. My Three Sunseris: Watch as a heralded and well-paid assistant coach raises his lads who play football at different schools.
11:00-11:01 a.m. The Vanderbilt Minute
11:01 a.m.-1 p.m. SEC Network Original Movie: Sumlin Wicked This Way Comes
1 p.m.-2 p.m. Cosmos with Les Miles: Watch as a distinguished SEC coach attempts to explain uncharted mysteries of the universe such as the Northeast, Midwest, and any place west of Dallas.