IT’S ALL HAPPENING! “Last Call for 2012” edition, 12/31

Starting Five

1. 2097 A.D. is not a year –yet– but is instead Adrian Peterson’s single-season rushing total, the second-best in NFL history. The Vikings’ running back (A.D. stands for “All Day”, as in how long he is able to run) finished nine yards behind Eric Dickerson, gaining 199 yards in Minnesota’s 37-34 defeat of Green Bay. The win puts the Vikes into the playoffs (after winning just three games last season), where they will meet…Green Bay.

Should get MVP and should’ve won the Heisman as a frosh in 2004 when he rushed for 1,925 yards (we voted for him; Matt Leinart won).

2. Fiscal Cliffhanger! Remember that group project you had all semester to do in high school/college/grad school/kindergarten, and you and your partners put it off (Oh, sure, you’d meet, but it would devolve into playing Atari or watching a “Cheers” marathon) until the last day? Well, that’s Congress, except that the project has a lot more riding on it than 25% of your semester grade. In a different era, we’d advise them to stock up on Jolt Cola. Now it’s probably Five-Hour Energy Drink and prescription drugs supplied at no cost by the very pharmaceutical companies that have helped pay for many of their elections. Go, America!

Want a real Jolt? Wait until you do your taxes next year…

3. The Denver Broncos have won 11 consecutive games and finished tied with Atlanta for the best record in the NFL (13-3). But let’s talk more about who the New York Jets should start at quarterback, why don’t we?

4. Romo! Oh No! Oh yes he did. Cowboy quarterback Tony Romo tosses three picks, including a costly one late when Washington Redskin linebacker Rob Jackson faked a blitz and dropped into screen coverage. Dallas loses and Washington wins the NFC East. As ESPN’s Trent Dilfer said afterward, “Being a defensive coordinator in the NFL is all about making the quarterback ‘play football’ (i.e., think and react) after the snap.” Amen. Oh, and Mike Shanahan once again rides a rookie 6th-round running back (Alfred Morris…who’s stuck with such a 1970s NFL name) to the playoffs while RG3 finishes the season with the highest rookie passer rating (102.4) in league history. Oh, and the Skins have won seven in a row (they haven’t lost since right before the presidential election).

Maybe it’s “The I’s of Texas” as in ‘Interceptions’.

5. The Los Angeles Clappers win their 17th straight and finish the month of December undefeated. Like you, we are just wondering how Donald Sterling will find a way to mess this all up.



We like Richard Deitsch. Richard Deitsch knows that we like Richard Deitsch. But we found it more than a little amusing that last week RD solicited, via Twitter, nominations for the best media feuds of the year (for his year-end media awards) only to find himself embroiled in one over the weekend.

Deitsch: “I before E, except after D, when it applies to me.”

Our take: While Bill Walton was a TREMENDOUS college basketball player — arguably the best of all time and definitely in the top five (Pete Maravich, Lew Alcindor also leap out at us) — and while he did astounding things in one and one-half healthy seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers (one NBA championship, and a 50-10 record in 1978 before Big Red suffered a season-ending injury; Portland went 8-14 without him the rest of the way), Seth Davis’ assertion that if his body hadn’t betrayed him so young “he might have been the best player ever” is, hmm, questionable at best. Better than Wilt Chamberlain? Better than Kareem Abdul-Jabbar?

Seth Davis: “Billllllll! I love you so and I always will…”

Granted, you can at least make a case for it. Deitsch deftly disagreed on Twitter, chiding his longtime SI colleague that he might be smoking some of that wacky-go-jacky that Walton did while at Westwood. But then Doug Gottlieb (don’t you hate it when Jewish people bicker with one another???) jumps into the fray and advises Deitsch to stick with what he knows. Challenge flag, Doug! And Gottlieb soon realized it, as evidenced by his later deleting all of the involved tweets.

This we can say: we’ve made more than a few mistakes on Twitter. We’ve gotten ourselves into a Twitter feud or two, some that we even regret (although we regret no feuds with A.J. Daulerio and welcome more). But we’ve NEVER deleted a tweet. And never will.



Thankfully, the junk half of the bowl season is over. Ohio-Louisiana-Monroe? San Jose State-Bowling Green? If these games had taken place on an October Saturday, I might actually be watching NBC’s Dew Tour (no, I wouldn’t). The Pinstripe Bowl was played in the Bronx, in a mix of rain and snow and featured West Virginia, a team that finished 115th in Scoring Defense. We must credit The Weirton Daily Times in West Virginia for running the hed “WVU Loses Bowel”. It’s the most accurate and succinct statement on Capital One Bowl Week that we’ve seen outside of our own at the top of this item. And we know that Rece Davis agrees with us but he loves his job too much –and who can blame him–to say so. But if you really care/cared about these cornball brotha contests,’s Holly Anderson has answers to all of your questions.


Say no more



A few thoughts on Django Unchained: Quentin Tarantino is an expert at crafting memorable movie scenes, but the overall films themselves leave much to be desired. Our problem with DU is that there are even fewer memorable scenes than normal. You think of Reservoir Dogs: the opening diner scene and the “Stuck in the Middle With You” scenes are classic. Inglorious Basterds? Again, the opening scene is mesmerizing while the bar scene is fraught with drama and tension (Michael Fassbender and the immaculately lovely Diane Kruger will never be better). But the overall film itself? As with all Tarantino films, there’s just enough cartoonish violence/situations that it never really becomes a drama in which you care about the characters (in other words, as my brother would say, “It’s no Ghost“).

Perhaps this is why Pulp Fiction is Tarantino’s best film: It’s simply a collection of outstanding, dramatic or funny — and often both– scenes that are compiled with no regard to chronological order (an exact replica, we might add, of the current and magical method of selecting two teams to play for the national championship in football). The puzzle was part of the plot.

Other thoughts:

1. Jamie Foxx: big role, big part (wink, wink). And you know Jamie fought for that (ob)scene.

2. Tarantino is aware that he has an Aryan female fetish, is he not? Uma Thurman. Diane Kruger. Now, a black female lead who speaks German and is named for a character in a German fairy tale?

A lame excuse to post a Diane Kruger pic? Sure, why not?

3. Love that Tarantino found roles, however minor, for some yesteryear Hollywood names such as Tom W0pat (Dukes of Hazzard), Lee Horsley (Matt Houston) and Dennis Christopher (starred in a little film that everyone should see entitled “Breaking Away”). Another star of that film, Jackie Earle Haley, currently has a prominent role in Lincoln. The two other main characters, Daniel Stern and Dennis Quaid, have gone on to far more successful careers.

“Look at the big brain on Monsieur Candie!”

4. Samuel L. Jackson as a Stepin Fetchit character named Stephen (that cannot be a coincidence) is fantastic. Highlight of the movie and possibly even a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominee. In the final scene, though, we really were hoping for him to stare into Django’s eyes and say, “Calm down, Ringo.”

Should auld Saturday Night Live film spoofs be forgot… Not only is this a terrific parody trailer of an atrocious film, but you have to admire SNL head writer Seth Meyers, who actually appeared in the film (“New Year’s Eve”) for letting this rip with such gusto.


Happy New Year, everyone. Personally, we lost more than normal in 2012, but we are grateful for all that we’ve gained, not the least of which is any one who regularly reads this site. We’ll be better in 2013.




Starting Five

1. Have yourself Avery Johnson Christmas/Let your heart be light/From now on our troubles will be out of—– Screeeeeeeech! The Brooklynettes fire their coach, whom you may remember was named the NBA’ s Coach of the Month way back in, when was it, November? His son, Avery Johnson, Jr., tweets, “I’m sorry are best players couldn’t make open shots…” and “The expectation were way to high…”

Straight outta Brooklyn…

2. It’s hard to dispute this logic: Congress gave itself an extra, what, 18 or so months to solve the fiscal cliff crisis and here we are three days from fiscapocalypse (while Jon Stewart is on hiatus, it is left to us to create newphemisms to describe the political landscape) and they are no closer to a resolution. If we gave them more time and they squandered it, you can understand why so many Americans are loathe to give them more money, i.e., taxes. Congress: Clowns to the left of me/Jokers to the right/Stuck in middle with you (and a $12 billion difference in settling).

3. The Los Angeles Police Dept. stages a gun buy-back in which 2,037 firearms are taken “off the streets” (or out of Phil Spector’s garage). The weapons cache-for-cash event yielded 40 assault weapons and, yes, someone even turned in a rocket launcher (never knew that Homer Hickam lived in LA). LA mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on the assault weapons (and we assume, rocket launcher, which the LA Times, regrettably, references only once: “Those are weapons of war, weapons of death. These are not hunting guns. These are not target guns.”
All of the weapons will be melted down.

4. San Jose State wins a bowl game in front of an announced crowd of 17,835 at RFK Stadium (“The Military Bowl was filmed before a live studio audience.”). This was the smallest bowl game attendance in seven years. If a bowl game — or any event — has more empty than filled seats, it’s a terrific argument for not re-staging the event. Kudos to SJSU, though, its long-suffering fans and long-suffering Fan (sports info director Lawrence Fan). The Spartans should end the season ranked for the first time since 1975 and finish with 11 wins for the first time since 1940.

The Military Bowl plays out before a Yawning Room Only crowd

5. Retired five-star general Norman Schwarzkopf dies fades away in Tampa at the age of 78. Schwarzkopf dies of natural causes — as do we all.  The ursine commander of Operation Desert Storm was a West Point graduate who volunteered for two terms in Vietnam. His father, who had the same name but only rose to the rank of colonel (as if that’s peanuts), once


Would anyone have a problem is Suzy Favor Hamilton simply said, “Why’d I do it? Boredom. Why the hell not?” Sure, being the spokesperson for the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association is cool beans (literally), but maybe she just got tired of being everything that she was expected to be. I guess our question is this: Does she have to be “suffering from depression” to pull an Elisabeth Shue or, more closely, a Diane Lane in Unfaithful? Why does she have to have a condition? And who are we to judge? Illegal. Yes. Ill? You decide.

As Hamilton, she gained fame for excelling at the world’s oldest sport. As Lundy, she gained infamy for excelling at the world’s oldest profession.

The Los Angeles Clippers have won 15 in a row. Yes, Vinny Del Negro is still the coach.

The Alabama quarterback, A.J. McCarron, is dating Miss Alabama, Katherine Webb. Of course he is. Except that Webb graduated from Auburn. She loves him for his efficiency. He loves her for her Webb gems.

Fiscal cliff. Gun debate. It’s not that this nation has never argued among itself before, it’s just that we cannot recall the last time everyone was so implacable. The Polarized States of America, anybody?

So wait a minute? You’re telling us that jumbo pretzel dogs are not healthy???




GIRL ON FILM: Les Miserables


Midwestern mom, wife, runner and early forties blonde who is also a $600-per-hour escort. That’s Katie McCollow, who–wait, that’s Suzy Favor Hamilton, but they’re awfully similar except for the escort part. Oh, and Katie is gobs funnier and is hopelessly addicted to movies and television, which we love. So Katie and her sister (one of eight siblings) went to see THAT movie yesterday. Here’s her review..

Screen shot 2011-01-10 at 11.22.13 AMBefore I begin, I’d like to throw a quick thank you  for the kind introduction, though whether or not I’m “gobs funnier” than Suzy Favor Hamilton, I’ll leave for the clients to decide.  That’s a picture of me there, on the right. I don’t know why.

So my sister and I snuck away from our lives for 16 hours yesterday to see Les Miserables, The Movie. Let me say right off, I loved it. She hated it. Everything she hated about it, I agreed with. Who can explain love? Fools would try.

Pretty much everyone knows the story, right? I mean I even knew the story, and I never saw the stage musical. Anyway, Hugh Jackman plays Jean Valjean, a guy who spent 19 years in prison for stealing bread. He’s on parole for life, and he’s like “That s*** be cray, I’m tearing up my papers and starting fresh with the help of this nice priest. He was so nice that I promise God to always be nice too.” He changes his identity and becomes successful. Hugh is great. He sings great, he acts great, I totally bought everything he was selling. Russell Crowe plays a mean cop who chases after him and basically catches him about 16 different times, but for one reason or another, Hugh always escapes. Russell Crowe sings much the way I imagine a potato would sing, if a potato could sing. Which they cannot, and neither can he.

Anne Hathway plays Fantine, a girl who works in Hugh’s factory. Her co-workers find out she has a kid out of wedlock, so after an angry sing-along, they get her fired. Hugh is not around when this happens. That’s not even close to the end of Anne’s Bad Day, kids…within about 3 minutes, she gets fired, sells her hair, sells her teeth, becomes a prostitute, sings a show-stopper and dies. Remember that the next time your car won’t start. I plan to put in my living will that no one let me die before I get my show-stopper out. If tragic musicals have taught me anything, it’s that warbling a deathbed ballad can turn the memory of even the most useless sad sack’s life into something heroic. Her showstopper is fierce, people. She kills it. The extreme close-up of her screeching out that song totally worked…so much so, the director does that with everyone in the movie. Everyone sings with the camera basically pointing right at their tonsils, tears streaming down their uncomfortably close, blotchy faces.

Hugh vows to care for Anne’s daughter, once he finds out the injustice of what happened to her. But first, Russell Crowe finds out he’s Jean Valjean, parole-breaker, and Hugh has to make himself scarce. He finds the daughter, Cossette, who lives with Sascha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter, who is playing the same part she plays in every movie. I think she has one wig, and just brings it to every set she’s on. Hugh pays them money and he and Cosette live an idyllic (but secret) life in a convent together. Russell Crowe sings a song and I see that he has 3 fillings, a surprisingly small amount for a man with such an obvious love of sugary foods.

Meanwhile, unrest abounds. A bunch of handsome teenagers have had enough, and to show how disgruntled they are, they block off a road with a large pile of furniture and sing a bunch of songs in extreme close-up. They are lead by Marius, who has lots of freckles and is secretly rich, but pretends to be poor so his unrest-y friends won’t hate him. Eponine, who is also the daughter of HBC and SBC, loves Marius but Marius loves Cossette, who he has seen once and never actually spoken to. Eponine is sad about this, but after mulling it over through an extreme close-up song and a cleansing rainstorm, comes to realize she might as well pretend to be a boy and join the furniture-fort-making rebels. She is killed, but not before telling Marius where Cosette and her foster father are hiding. Russell Crowe sings again. It was at this point my sister began letting out audible yawns and looking around grumpily at the other movie goers, before settling her angry glare on me, as if it were my fault she had shelled out 7 dollars to have her senses raped for three hours. This gave me the church-giggles, which kept hold of me pretty much for the rest of the movie, yet in no way diminished my enjoyment of it.

Back to the story: All hell breaks lose, as the handsome teenagers unsuccessfully try to defend their furniture pile but wind up dead instead; all except Marius, who is saved by Jean Valjean because JVJ knows Cossette loves him. The way he saves Marius is by dragging him through a disgusting, excrement-filled sewer. Jean Valjean’s work is done, and he disappears again. We endure another song from Russell Crowe and he jumps to his death, defeated by Hugh Jackman’s goodness.

Marius goes back to being rich (presumably because all his poor but idealistic friends are dead and the furniture-fort thing didn’t work out) and he and Cossette get married. Cut to Jean Valjean, who is now dying, though he was in perfectly robust health just one scene previous–clearly that jaunt through the sewer is to blame. Cossette and Marius find him just in time to say their tearful, grateful, goodbyes, and Jean Valjean is escorted into heaven by Fantine’s happy ghost. I bawl. A large crowd of French peasants sing a rousing song of freedom, joined by the ghosts of everyone in the movie, and I bawl some more.

I’m getting more heat for loving this movie than I am for wanting to take everyone’s assault rifles away. Some samples:

From MJ: I dreamed a dream I saw The Hobbit. The beginning of the dream coincided  with the beginning of hour 23 of Les Mis. I almost offered to play with the fussy baby the guy in front of us was holding just for something to do. Close up close up close up of:

-Russell Crowe’s saggy oatmeal face
-Hugh Jackman’s giant nostrils
-Freckle face goony bird who slums it with the hipsters until they all die
-Everyone’s boogers
Anne Hathaway shaved her head and ate a cracker made of bean paste twice a day (thats it) until she dropped 20 lbs to be in a movie for 15 minutes. Longest, boringest songs I’ve ever heard. Oh, I almost forgot–there’s this precocious kid who’s all “Oy! let’s join the revolution, guvna! Innit?” Way too much of him.

From Fran: Just saw Les Miserables, or as I like to call it, “Russell Crowe And His Friends Try To Kill Me With Song.”

That was a crippler. Katie, that was like ordering the worst/weirdest thing on the menu.
From Kenny: How could you like it? The one thing that made the Broadway version so good was the music. The movie makers clearly thought that was optional and thought their fancy expensive crane shots, and realistic teeth and costumes, and sewage and epic dramaness should be more important. The version I saw had subtitles – beneath every other scene it said “The courageous, brave, brilliant, and noble people who participated in the making of this moment deserve a place in motion picture history and an Oscar and a Nobel Prize.” I was worn out from how much they all loved making that movie.
I can’t wait for the sequel, “Freckle-Faced Goony Birds Go Slumming”.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING! Savannah Guthrie Turns 41-derful edition, 12/27

Starting Five

1. Who’s hot? J.R. Who shot? J.R. New York Knick forward J.R. Smith buried not one but two ridiculous jumpers in the final 10 seconds las night to propel New Yawk past the Phoenix Suns, 99-97. In a game in which the Knicks were without their two top scorers, Carmelo Anthony and Raymond Felton, Smith demonstrated why he just may be the team’s second-best player. The second-most famous native son of Freehold, N.J. (“Bruuuuuuuuce!”), Smith had a key steal with about five minutes remaining to tie the score at 90. With 10 ticks left Smith, who LeBron’ed college, hit a 22-footer from atop the key with P.J. Tucker draped all over him to tie the score at 97.


J.R. Smith’s month >>> J.R.R. Tolkien’s

Then, after a Sun turnover with 1.0 seconds remaining, Smith took an inbounds pass and hit this bizarre shot from the left corner. And if you’ve watched this hired gun (J.R. Smith & Wesson?) shoot jumpers dating back to his days with Denver, it did not surprise you one iota (has anyone ever typed “two iotas”? “Two iotae?”). In fact, it was Smith’s second buzzer-beating game-winner this month (he had one on December 5th at Charlotte).

2. Welcome to Intermina-bowl Week: San Jose State vs. Bowling Green today (Military Bowl), Ohio vs. Louisiana Monroe tomorrow (Independence Bowl), and Rice vs. Air Force (which is an anagram of “For a Rice”) in the Armed Forces Bowl (which has a second amendment right to exist) on Saturday.  There are a few good contests within — Baylor vs. UCLA tonight from San Diego may provide intrigue — but what you must remember is that December bowls = ESPN programming, and nothing more.

3. Steve Nash’s new team lost last night at Denver because they don’t play defense and allowed 126 points. Two of Nash’s former Sun teammates, a pair of players who benefited TREMENDOUSLY from his mentoring while all were with the Suns, had either season- or career-highs in points. Center Robin Lopez, now with New Orleans, led the Hornets to their first win in 12 games by scoring a game-high 29 points at Orlando (but ESPN still featured him getting posterized on Top Plays). Forward Jared Dudley, whose locker was next to Nash’s and practically worshipped the fellow Catholic college alum (B.C., Santa Clara), scored a career-high 36. If we know Nash the way we think we do, he sent Dudley a congratulatory text before he hit the pillow. Oh, how we miss those halcyon Sun days (video shot and directed by Mr. Nash)…

4. Kate Winslet really married a dude whose surname is Rocknroll?!?! Ned Rocknroll (ne Abel Smith), 34, is the nephew of UK tycoon Richard Branson (and really, shouldn’t HE be the next king of England? He even looks the part). No, their wedding song was not “I Wanna Rocknroll All Night (And Party Every Day)”, but seeing as how Winslet, 37, already has two failed marriages under her corset (When will she realize that she’s destined to end up with Jack Dawson?!?), we won’t be overly surprised if the epitaph of this betrothing is the title of an underrated album from that same band, KISS.

How they met: She saw him dancing there by the record machine/Knew he musta been ’bout seventeen…

5. Shanghai Surprise II, Dorsal Fin Boogaloo: A 3,000-gallon shark tank at a mall in Shanghai shatters, sending scores of Negaprion brevoristris (i.e., lemon sharks) toward shoppers. We know what exactly what you are thinking: What were Gilbert Arenas and his teammates doing inside a 3,000-gallon aquarium?


Only one NBA player averages more than 40 minutes per game. Can you name him? Hint: he is NOT in the NBA top ten in any major category outside, of course, of minutes played (answer below).

Remember when Notre Dame linebacker Carlo Calabrese infamously threatened an officer –twice!–with “My people will get you?” Well, it may be just a coincidence of surnames, but there’s one less “people” for law enforcement officials in South Bend to worry about today.

All in the family?

Sopranos impresario David Chase, the Martin Scorcese of the Garden State, has made a film that features New Jersey and James Gandolfini but has no connection to wise guys. Instead, it’s a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age flick about teenagers in the early Sixties who are inspired to play rock and roll after seeing the Rolling Stones. It’s called Not Fade Away and I promise the final scene is not scored to “Don’t Stop Believin'”.

A seven-foot tall thief is on the loose in Chicago. John Calipari: “Apprehend him? I’d like to sign him!”

So Randi Zuckerberg, the sister of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg posts a family photo on Facebook and then becomes SHOCKED and APPALLED when that photo shows up on Twitter. Somewhere a lot of women who attended Harvard in 2004 are howling.

We could be wrong on this, but the tallest athlete in Notre Dame history? Ryan Doherty, seven-foot-one. His sport? Baseball. Yes, baseball. We came across this piece on the 2002 Irish grad, who finally has grasped an understanding of the word morphology.

Kelly Lundy, a.k.a. Suzy  Favor Hamilton, could be in even more trouble than David Gregory. Also, as avid readers of “Tater Talk” are aware, she has lost her contract with the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association. And yet there is something so refreshing by her unabashed ownership of these deeds.

Ethical and journalistic question: We personally have known about George Bush’s medical condition for nearly two weeks. The nation’s 41st president, 88 years old, is reportedly in more grave condition than has been made public. Our question is: What does the Today Show, one of whose correspondents is President Bush’ granddaughter, Jenna Bush Hager, do about this? Is it a vital, breaking story? No. Do you want to be first? Probably.

Answer to question above: Luol Deng, Chicago Bulls.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING! “Boxing Day” Edition, 12/26

Starting Five

1. Joyful and Triumphant: Celtics, Heat, Rockets, and both the Loss Los Angeles Lakers and the L.A. Clippers at the Staples Center on Christmas Day, what is being billed as Arash Markazi-palooza”.  The Clippers have now won 14 straight and have the NBA’s best record (22-6), and we just wonder if Bill Simmons is still allowed to use his season tickets and cheer now that he is a respected ESPN NBA analyst. This video, by the way, is some of our pal Arash’s best work at Staples (he shot the video; the giggle incriminates him).

2. There are five undefeated teams left in college basketball. Three of them, the top three in the rankings, have all won a national championship in the past quarter-century: Duke, Michigan and Arizona. A fourth, Cincinnati, spent an entire season at or near No. 1 back in the days of Huggy Bear (Bob Huggins). The fifth? Well, that school remains unranked and before this season the only thing you’d associate it with basketball was a long ago SI cover that featured All-Time All-Name Teamer Fennis Dembo.

Oddly enough, neither “Fennis” nor “Dembo” is an up and coming section of Brooklyn

Yes, that school would be Wyoming. The Cowboys are 12-0, though they have only defeated one ranked team (neighboring Colorado). Their top scorer and rebounder is Leonard Washington, who played his first two seasons at USC and actually was a starter as a frosh for the Trojan squad that lost in the second round to Michigan State.

3. So, if you have seen the ads, you know that Les Miserables is the greatest thing ever to happen to mankind. We though we’d give a little dap to the man who, you know, actually wrote the novel on which the musical is based: Victor Hugo. According to Wikipedia, the French poet/novelist /sketch artist/political activist (1802-18850) wrote a single-character telegram to his publisher when Les Miz was published — he was on vacation. The telegram read simply “?”. The publisher’s reply? “!”

4. Did NBC’s David Gregory violate a District of Columbia gun ordinance when he displayed a 30-round clip during his “Meet The Press” interview last Sunday with NRA spokesman Wayne LaPierre?

5. From the “What We’re Reading” section: The first film that Roger Ebert, arguably America’s greatest film critic, saw in the theaters? “A Day At the Races”,  the 1937 comedy featuring the Marx Brothers (as opposed to the Queen album of the same title that features the classic tune Somebody To Love”) .(as opposed to the Jefferson Airplane song of the same title…). That nugget, by the way, comes from Ebert’s memoir, “Life Itself.” (Yes, I am reading a memoir of a film critic who was born and raised in downstate Illinois and I’m not even Will Leitch). (This, by the way, is a fascinating and very telling Will Leitch confessional involving his hero, Mr. Ebert).

Two classic lines from the immortal Groucho Marx in this one (“Either he’s dead or my watch has stopped” and “Have you got a woman in there?” “If I haven’t, I’ve wasted 30 minutes of valuable time.”). If you’ve never seen Groucho as Dr. Hugo Hackenbush, you can always watch the classic M*A*S*H episode in which they make a mockumentary titled “Yankee Doodle Doctors” and Hawkeye basically reprises the character.


IT’S ALL HAPPENING! The “Not Fade Away in a Manger” Edition, 12/24


1. Let’s begin with, in the words of Chris Kattan, “A pop quiz…a little quiz!” Who was Christmas Snow ( answer below… do resist the temptation to Google)?

2. “To face unafraid/The plans that we’ve made/Walking in a winter wonderland…” The word “unafraid” always freaks us out. Why do we need to introduce the element of fear into a Christmas carol? While we’re on the topic of Christmas tunes, it is “Heat Miser” and “Snow Miser” not “Heat Meister” as I’ve heard some say or “Cold Miser”. The Year Without a Santa Claus made its debut in 1974. I was eight years old and was quite certain I had never seen a Christmas special anything like it.

“I’m Mr. Green Christmas/I’m Mr. Sun/I’m Mr. Heat Blister/I’m Mr. Hundred and one…”

“I’m Mr. White Christmas/I’m Mr. Snow/I’m Mr. Icicle/I’m Mr. Ten below…”

3.  Seattle 42, San Francisco 13, or as we are calling it, “What’s Your Deal? II: NFL Boogaloo”. In 2009 Harbaugh’s Cardinal defeated Carroll’s USC Trojans 55-21, easily the most emphatic defeat in Carroll’s legendary SoCal tenure.  The post-game handshake was a classic. The following year Carroll was off to Seattle, and the year after that Harbaugh joined him in the NFC West as the coach of the 49ers. In their three meetings as NFL coaches, Harbaugh’s Niners had won each game.

Last night, however, in the NFL’s loudest stadium, Carroll exacted revenge with a 29-point win. And he did it on Harbaugh’s 49th birthday. If you think about it, Harbaugh had owned Carroll since arriving on The Farm in 2007. There was the upset that year at the Coliseum, when USC entered as 40-point favorites. The following season USC won in Palo Alto, but what I’ll always remember is Harbaugh having the Card air it out, down 29 points in the final seconds, simply so that Stanford could beat the 23-point spread (the Cardinal did, scoring a TD on the game’s final play to make the final margin 45-23… even funnier, the announcer — I believe it was Brent; it had to be Brent — slyly noted that Harbaugh had just made a few folks in Nevada very unhappy.

Last night, Carroll finally struck a blow and made this a rivalry. And what a perfect rivalry for a league that sorely needs one. Seattle vs. San Francisco. Starbucks vs. Peet’s. Microsoft vs. Apple. Rain vs. Fog.

4. As Robert Palmer might say, “She’s so fine/There’s no telling where the money went…”

5. Christmas Snow? Jack Tripper’s roomie… hung out at the Regal Beagle… never realized Mr. Roper had installed a hidden camera in the shower: Chrissy Snow. Her father, the Rev. Snow, had named her Christmas.



IT’S ALL HAPPENING! The Lawmakers, Guns and Money edition, 12/21

Starting Five

1. Como se dice, “Epic fail” in Mayan?

2. Kelly Lundy? Nine-time NCAA champion and three-time Olympic middle-distance runner Suzy Favor Hamilton is a hooker. Hamilton charged up to $600 an hour under the nom de concubine Kelly Lundy as an employee of Haley Heston’s Private Collection. In the story broken by The Smoking Gun, Favor Hamilton lamented that one of her johns broke the “code of silence” between “providers” (escorts) and “hobbyists” (clients) while failing to mention that he also broke the time-honored bro code of “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” SI senior writer and “personal demons” beat reporter Gary Smith is already checking the batteries in his tape recorder, we have to think. Honestly, we admire Favor Hamilton for owning up to this as candidly as she did, though the quote “My husband wasn’t supportive of this at all” was a little bit odd.


Just a wholesome Midwest mom…


3. Speaker of the House/Nothing up his sleeve/Gonna keep us Cliff’in’/Up to New Year’s Eve…Congressman John Boehner (R-Ohio) cancels the Plan B vote in the House due to lack of support, which is rather curious since the House is a majority Republican body.


 4. The National Rifle Association stepped up to the podium on Friday morning and suggested that we need to have armed guards at schools. More guns — and more training — whether or not you agree with the solution, would likely to translate to more income for people who manufacture arms and weapons-related training, many of whom, we assume, are some of the most ardent supporters of the NRA.

5. ESPN serves Rob Parker with a one-month suspension. But it fails to answer the question of why it allows such an assclown to pollute its air in the first place. Bob Ley, speak to us. What’s going on here?

IT’S ALL HAPPENING! The “Apocalypse Manana” edition, 12/20

Starting Five

1. A female from Rhode Island, Olivia Culpo, wins Miss Universe and the University of Notre Dame has the top-ranked football team in the nation. We’re taking the Mayans minus the points.

Mathazar and the rest of the Thermians will protest the “Universe” part of the title, reminding all that Rhode Island is “not an island, either.”

2. The Oklahoma City Thunder Snow win their 12th straight while the Los Angeles Clappers win their 11th straight. Fine, but when will Steve Nash return to the Lakers?

3. We are entering the “Twelve Days of Cliffmas”, as Washington has just a dozen more days to negotiate a deal to spare us from the Fiscal Cliff. Did you know, by the way, that House Speaker John Boehner 1) is five-foot-six and 2) was a linebacker at Moeller High School whose coach was Gerry Faust?

Speaker of the House/ Workin’ on Plan B/ Dedicated servant/ Of aris-to-cra-cy

4. The University of Connecticut’s No. 2-ranked Huskies held a pre-game ceremony to honor the 26 victims of the Newtown massacre, then went out and allowed just 25 points to Oakland University in a 97-25… massa victory.

5. The New York Jest will release Tim Tebow, a man of profound religious faith who spent the past four months gaining a true appreciation of the term “purgatory.” If there are any teams out there looking for a dedicated punt protector, we got a guy for you. Also, the Jest are shopping Mark Sanchize. All we have to say is this: If the Jest draft USC quarterback Matt Barkley, we will laugh and laugh and laugh.

No, I do not want a copy of “Bright Lights, Big City” as a Christmas present, thank you very much.


The bodies of the two killers who framed Truman Capote’s classic work, “In Cold Blood”, are being exhumed. It turns out that Richard Hickok and Perry Smith may have committed a second series of murders during thier 1959 rampage. Capote’s book has long been considered the apotheosis of true crime reportage –if not the seminal work on such –but it turns out he may not have been as thorough as we all thought.

LSU’s aussome Aussie punter, Brad Wing, has been suspended for the Tigers’ Chick-Fil-A Bowl against Clemson, a game that will determine who really plays in Death Valley (and is the best Tigers). If we are Les Miles, we comfort ourselves by remembering that Clemson allowed 70 points in its previous bowl game, so there’s a chance that Wing would never have gotten on the field, anyway.

For Domers, from Dennis Dodd, this is just eerie. Kudos to Ted Mandell for all the research but it still doesn’t excuse him from being the executive produder of the Freekbass video. One last nugget for you, Dennis: 1988 was the last year in which I didn’t professionally cover a college football game…until this year.

A tiny French village, Bugarach, may be your best hope for salvation when the world ends tomorrow. Our advice: book  round-trip fare to Paris, just in case they’re wrong.

Pic de Bugarach, which many believe houses an extraterrestrial spaceship. As Al Roker noted, “Didn’t the Coneheads come from France?”

This study asserts that, the 12.12.12 gig notwithstanding, rock stars die earlier than the general population. As the always insightful Jason Gay of the Wall Street Journal tweeted in response to this story, “Still totally worth it, no?”

Richard Deitsch provides his year-end media awards at Solid, no big surprises. Too many honorable mentions. Also, we’re sorry, but we just cannot get behind any awards list that includes Rachel Nichols. The woman has a perpetual smirk on her face.

By the way, only when we researched that photo did we learn that there is ANOTHER Rachel Nichols, an actress who unlike the ESPN personality graduated from an Ivy League school (ESPN’s RN attended Northwestern). We feel obliged to also provide a pic of the thespian Rachel Nichols, whose credits include both the sequels to Dumb and Dumber (“Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd”) and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. 


Ironically, this pic was snapped at the ESPY Awards (where she was named “Best Rachel Nichols?”)

In the best battle of father-son Ricks since “I Love Lucy”, the elder Pitino led Louisville to a 24-point win against his son’s Florida International squad last night. We can picture Mrs. Pitino welcoming home her husband today with a “You got some ‘splainin’ to do.” (although, fans of Lexington restaurant after-hours shenanigans will note she has done this before)

Day of Yore, December 19

It’s without a doubt one of the most influential works ever written and it rings as true as ever for Christmas 2012. “A Christmas Carol” was published today in 1843. Written by Charles Dickens at the age of 31, it tells of the the transformation of Ebenezer Scrooge from cold-hearted, wretched miser to that of a man who embraces the light, joy and warmth of life. Scrooge is visited on a “cold, black, biting Christmas Eve” by the ghost of his old business partner and then by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Yet to Come.

Unknown images

Dickens’ theme was simply that love and charity conquer all and that our time spent on this earth is best used in the fellowship of one another. This year, more than any in some time, we are all faced with the somber prospect of not just Christmas Yet to Be, but life in general. Like Scrooge, we are challenged to change our ways, or as Marley tells him, be left to deal with the “shadows of what may be.”

The 18th Amendment was repealed after 17 years because it proved to be stupid. There’s another amendment on the books that was written for a world that was 223 years ago. It may not be stupid, but it needs to be fixed because it continues to fail us. It’s a far too simple decree for an awfully complex issue. Laws will always be broken but it’s incumbent on our leaders to make them as hard as possible to break. We all know what happened in Connecticut last week, laws were broken. A week before that in Minneapolis, a 4-year old shot and killed his 2-year old brother. No laws were broken. The story came and went in a flash. It happens all the time, all over the place. I know, stupid parents, I get it. You have to pass a drivers test to get a license, you should have to pass a gun safety class every two years. Too much? The picture below is too much. Perhaps all those classes would have kept guns away from a clearly troubled son. Of course they might not have, but an effort needs to be made.


“the means to exercise the natural rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and the capacity to regulate its competitive actions to avoid depriving others of those rights and to sacrifice itself for the greater good of the polity as a whole or for their common posterity”

It’s your right to own a gun. The greater good demands that those guns should be limited and that safety be paramount.

I understand the dialogue, but I’m really tired of hearing how things are in England, Japan or Switzerland pertaining to gun laws and murder rates. If I lived in Switzerland I’d probably be a great skier, but I don’t live there. With greater freedom comes greater responsibility.

“Titanic” and “Platoon” were both released on December 19th as well, and although the analogies abound, you just can’t do better than “A Christmas Carol.”

The opponent is strong and powerful and might be too big to fail. This is not to say that a single soul on the opposing side doesn’t want the exact same thing everyone else wants, but they’ll fight on how to get there. It doesn’t need to be repealed, but it needs to be fixed. The setting is clearly different, and I’m cheating because the movie came out on December 22, not December 19, but the message applies, especially the last line.

Merry Christmas to all and, “as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!”

— Bill Hubbell




Starting Five

1. Tuesdays are off days for players during the NFL season. Victor Cruz of the New York Giants used his to visit the family of Jack Pinto in Newtown, Conn. Cruz’s pilgrimage was made without fanfare or cameras. To echo the words of Chris Chase of the Big Red Orb (i.e., USA Today sports), “You’re a good man, Victor Cruz.”

2. The Wisconsin Badgers will name Utah State’s Gary Andersen as their next football coach, thus assuring that Boise State’s Chris Petersen will not be the only FBS-level coach of Nordic descent to have his surname serially misspelled.

3. President Barack Obama is named Time magazine’s “Person of the Year.”  Fox movie executive and former UCLA basketball player Gavin Smith remains Medium Happy’s “Missing Person of the Year.” Smith narrowly edges out Michael Lemaitre, whose disappearance may be even more confounding.

4. Weekend Leftovers: Martin Short IS Larry David as Linus Van Pelt in “You’re a Rat Bastard, Charlie Brown.” Pritteee, pritteee, prittee good. (Although we don’t understand why Lucy was a blonde, either).

5.  Winthrop basketball coach Pat Kelsey goes off on a postgame rant that has nothing to do with basketball or referees or the game’s outcome. Kudos, Coach Kelsey (but it’s Newtown, not Newport).  



Michael Heistand of The Big Red Orb notes the irony of us discussing Rob Parker’s racist comments in reference to RG3, a man who plays quarterback for a team named the “Redskins.”

Samantha Steele, off the market. Ponder-ous. You have to admire, or wonder, about the intensity of this coupling. Steele and Minnesota Viking QB Christian Ponder met on the set of ESPN’s “College Gameday” earlier this autumn and commenced a courtship during which she was constantly itinerant in the service of ESPN’s college football coverage while he was almost as continuously chained to the Vikings’ practice facility in Edina or Eden Prairie (some leafy upscale Minneapolis ‘burb that begins with an “E”, we cannot remember which). And then on Monday Steele, 27, wed Ponder, 24, in Hudson, Wisc. Good for you, kids.

David Letterman’s review of “The Hobbit” (from Monday night’s telecast): “Bilbo Baggins joins forces w/the wizard Gandalf and a band of dwarves to fight evil and…oh, I don’t care.”

For the love of God, no nude scenes, please

The Los Angeles Clippers (18-6) have the NBA’s second-best record (behind only the OKC Thunder, 20-4). The Los Angeles Lakers have the NBA’s 22nd-best record. But you know which Staples Center franchise is dominating ESPN’s air time as well as its web site. Is it a Kobe thing or simply a “We love a soap opera” thing? LA fell behind by 18 points in the third quarter to the Charlotte Bobcat Goldthwaites last night before eking out a win.

Facebook creator (“NO HE ISN’T!” How did the Winklevi hack into our site) Mark Zuckerberg donates $500 million in FB stock to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. Hopefully, Rooney Mara will no longer think he’s an a-hole.

And now, a holiday treat: Katie McCollow, who happens to be the sibling of one of this site’s writers (and the wife of one of our closest friends), sent out her Christmas newsletter on Sunday. It began as a typical update on life and then, as only Katie can do, devolved into a review of “Hope Springs.” Enjoy.


Hola people! The tree is up, the gifts are purchased, the cards sent out for the first time in 5 years....I feel relaxed and am so enjoying the run up to Christmas! 

Yesterday I watched the worst movie of the year. Hope Springs. Good Gravy.

Meryl Streep is married to an ugly old (bleep), played by Tommy Lee Jones. 
She is a shrinking violet who has never once peeped a word in complaint to her verbally
 abusive, bully of a husband in all the 31 years they've been married. Apparently they got
 married when they were both in their mid-fifties, because I know a lot of couples who have
 been married for 30+ years  and none of them look as old and grizzled as these two did. 

Back to TLJ--I think we were supposed to think he was just a funny old cantankerous
 sillypants, but he was a major prick. And he never changed. Anyway, she books them
 on a week-long therapy retreat, where the genius doctor basically just tells them
 they need to get back to boning and all will be well. He never once said to them, "You need
 to stop being such a mean old bastard  and you need to tell him to (bleep) off when he acts that way." 

So there were a bunch of awkward scenes of them doing everything from trying to hug each other to (redacted)
 to Meryl Streep unsuccessfully attempting to (redacted) on TLJ in a movie theater, only
 not in a funny way, in a really sad, pathetic way. That scene ends with her in tears and
 him once again being a complete buttmunch.  

Then, a breakthrough! Turns out, she doesn't want to (hug) him because he's the worst,
 and he doesn't want to (hug) her because she never opens her stupid mouth and says anything. Ever.  Eureka! They do it, once,
 and all is well! Marital health is restored. The end. 

The best I can say is, I'm only mildly scarred by the amount of times I was
 forced to think about Tommy Lee Jones' wobbly old balls. 

Merry Christmas!