by John Walters

Starting Five

Jolly Ol’ (Saint) Nick

There was Alabama coach Nick Saban, who only a month earlier referred to the media somewhat dryly as “rat poison,” appearing on ESPN’s SportsCenter to lobby for his Crimson Tide. Now Nick is far from the most oleaginous Alabamian to lobby for himself with voters this month, but it still seemed beneath him.

Alabama or Ohio State was simply a Ginger or Maryann argument. Do you like Alabama’s one loss (as opposed to Ohio State’s two) more than Ohio State’s more impressive wins, including a conference championship victory over the last unbeaten Power Five team out there? I actually think the Selection Committee takes, as I do, a more holistic approach, balancing bad wins (at Iowa) and OOC scheduling (Florida State or Oklahoma; draw, if you consider that FSU was No. 3 to open season) and week-in-and-out consistency yada yada yada.

All that said, here’s what I’d like to see the Selection Committee REQUIRE of any team wishing to compete in the playoff going forward:

1) No FCS opponents

2)  At least five true road games. If you want to play a neutral site game, sacrifice your seventh home game, not your fifth road game.

Using those standards, who from this year’s field would make the playoff?

Oklahoma, Ohio State, Wisconsin and USC.

Interesting, eh?

2. Ebenezer Trump

The cold open on Saturday Night Live imagined Christmas Trump being visited by three ghosts: Mike Flynn, Vladimir Putin and Hillary Clinton. Extra props to SNL MVP Kate McKinnon for playing Kellyanne Conway and HRC in the same sketch.

Also, the episode had a distinct brogue, as it was hosted by the enchanting Saoirse Ronan (she’ll be back) with musical guests U2. That’s U2 and Eminem already this year. Lorne’s swinging for the fences.

3. “Taxation Without Representation”; Anyone Remember The Last Time That Happened Here?

Yay, diversity!

The U.S. Senate voted in favor of President Trump’s tax bill by a margin of 51-49 at 2 a.m. on Saturday morning. Bob Corker of Tennessee was the only Republican to vote nay on the bill, which is expected to add $1 trillion to the deficit (fiscal conservatism!), and decrease the corporate tax rate from 35% to 20% (stock buybacks!).

That’s not the worst part—personally, the corporate tax rate should be lowered, I think, even though most MNCs obviate that rate. The worst part is that a nearly 500-page bill, with amendments scrawled in on the margins, was delivered to Democrats just a few hours before a vote was taken and GOP leader Mitch McConnell did that Joey Bosa Shrug at them as if to say, “Sucks to be you, doesn’t it?”

Dig: the hardline conservatives don’t want, well, let’s hear what Senator Chuck Grassley had to say:


Here’s what I don’t understand: Isn’t it possible to be opposed to deadbeats smoking weed, getting drunk all day and playing Candy Crush while living off unemployment checks and yet still have a heart? I mean, just because I’m not in favor of welfare deadbeats, can’t I also believe that maybe it’s not the best idea for the top 1% in this country to control 38% of all privately held wealth? Isn’t there a middle ground here?

Apparently, for too many Republicans, the answer is no. If you weren’t smart enough to be born the son of a millionaire, that’s your damn fault. And if you are one of those bootstrappers, well, apparently good fortune had nothing to do with it.

What I do think is this: the cure for the bottom half of this country isn’t one giant middle finger from the upper class (the cure is, of course, a long-term war or “law and order” to help feed the Prison Industrial Complex; hell, you knew that).

4. The NFL’s WWE Day

The worst NFL season I can remember (Why did you have to retire, Tom Brady?!? Wait, really?) may have hit a nadir Sunday as the only two noteworthy stories involved Rob Gronkowksi top-roping a Buffalo Bill, Tre’Davious White, causing a concussion; and Marcus Peter chucking a referee’s flag into the stands (and not being ejected; Peters assumed he’d been ejected, so he left the field only to be coaxed back by his coaches).

Anyway, it’s just a circus. Does anyone besides the Philadelphia Eagles even care who wins this season?

5. Long-Distance Runaround

This is Diane Van Deren, a Colorado runner who is not famous for pooping while jogging. No, what Van Deren is known for is being the firs woman to complete the 430-mile Yukon Arctic Ultra. What makes her story so bizarre is that she took up running after having a lobectomy (a part of the brain removed) in 1997 to stave off epileptic seizures.

Following that, as I learned by listening to her story on NPR, she no longer had a sensation of time passing. In other words, Van Deren was less susceptible to fatigue because her mind stopped registering how far she had gone or how far she had to go. She lost the ability to, as all endurance runners are familiar with, psyche herself out. Van Deren, who won the first 50-miler she attempted, sort of became “The Perfect Runner” because she no longer cared about anything except being in the moment.*

Yes, there is a larger lesson outside of running here.

*Speaking of which, this story is a few years old but I’m totally being Van Deren about it by posting it now.

Music 101

Soul Meets Body

Some bands go an entire career without writing a melody this infectious and timeless. Can you ever get tired of the self-propelling beat of this 2005 time from Pacific Northwest shoe-gazers Death Cab For Cutie? The song peaked at No. 60 on the Billboard charts because what do they know/what do I know?

Remote Patrol

Late Night with Seth Meyers

12:35 p.m. NBC

Why this episode? Seth’s lead guest is Samantha Bee, who may have a thought or two on our current political and sexual harassment (and overlapping of the two) climate.

One thought on “IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

  1. Re Chuck Grassley — remember when Mitt Romney’s “47%” comment basically derailed his presidential campaign? Apparently times have changed, since Grassley’s similar comment will likely cost him nothing. The Republican leadership has now started to say out loud what was once whispered — in the same vein, Lindsay Graham and others recently admitted that they had to pass the tax bill to keep their big-money donors happy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *