Day of Yore, February 21

“Max, can you earmuff for me? We are going to get so much ass here, it’s going to be sick. I’m talking like crazy boy band ass.”– Vince Vaughn 

There’s not a lot of things better than sitting in a theatre and realizing you’re watching a classic. “Old School” hit screens 10 years ago today. It’s Vince Vaughn and Will Ferrell’s movie, but Luke Wilson, Seann William Scott, Jeremy Piven and even Craig Kilborn have their moments.

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“The New Yorker” published it’s first issue today in 1925. The highbrow magazine tackles everything from reportage, commentary, criticism, essays, fiction, satire, cartoons, and poetry.

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In a different part of the country and slightly less highbrow, NASCAR was incorporated today in 1948.

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Malcolm X was shot to death today in 1965 at the Audubon Theatre in New York City. 21 gun shot wounds were found after he was ambushed in a theatre by members of the Nation of Islam. One of the most influential African Americans ever, he was dead at just 39 years old.

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Tonight in 1990 at the Grammy Awards, Milli Vanilli won the prize for Best New Artist. The award was later taken away when it turned out neither guy sang, not just in concert, but ever. For the record, they beat out The Indigo Girls, Tone Loc, Neneh Cherry and Soul II Soul.

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1983 might not have been the hippest time for music, but some of us felt pretty cool when we listened to Bow Wow Wow’s, “When the Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going,” which came out today. The lead singer was a pretty woman with a mohawk and the music was great. Do You Wanna Hold Me,” “Aphrodisiac,” and “What’s the Time (Hey Buddy)” were all great songs.

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— Bill Hubbell

Posted in: 365 |

IT’S ALL HAPPENING! 2/21

Starting Five

1. Cinderella is hanging in the VIP lounge. Gonzaga, which this week attained its highest AP poll ranking ever (3), blasts Santa Clara, 85-42. The Zags doubled up on the Broncos in both points and rebounds (45-22) while not one starter scored more than 17 points. Santa Clara, which had not scored fewer than 60 points in any game this season, was held to 18 points less than its lowest total. The Road to the Final Four for Mark Few’s team looks like this: most likely a first weekend in San Jose, a second weekend at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, and if they can emerge from that, a Final Four berth in Atlanta (we’ll reserve our ire about the last Final Four held west of Texas having taken place in 1990 for another post).

Elias Harris, who is from Germany, led the Zags with 17 points and nine boards

2. My two favorite coaches in women’s college basketball, Geno Auriemma and Kim Mulkey, and here’s why. And this is BEFORE Monday night’s game. Geno’s response to Kim, who is divorced, when she asks him to introduce her to some Italians: “The Italians I send to see you aren’t going to date you.”

Geno would never have given Pat a pat.

Quickly, my Geno story: March of 2001 and I’ve been tailing the Huskies all season long for a book on the team. Eastern regionals, Pittsburgh. Geno is in the hotel bar with his wife, Cathy, at a booth. I find a waiter and send over a $75 bottle of wine (which is at least $35 more than I’ve ever spent on myself). I tell the waiter, “Give it to that man and his wife and say, ‘It’s from John. That’s for his being a pain in the ass all season.'”

The waiter returns 15 minutes later and presents me with a bill for a $400 bottle of champagne. The waiter says, “The gentleman says you’ve been a much bigger pain in the ass than that.”

3. Miami is dirty blah blah blah. The NCAA acted unethically blah blah blah. Don’t care. Call us when Mark Emmert resigns and Jay Bilas accepts the job.

4. LeBron James is the best player in the NBA. But James Harden may be more fun to watch. Last night The Beard scored a career-high 46 points and led the Rockets back from a 14-point fourth quarter deficit versus his former team, OKC, in a 122-119 victory. (I’m no John Hollinger, but I still cannot fathom why the Thunder would part ways with Harden). Jeremy Lin scored 29.

Rocket launcher

Meanwhile, in Tempe, Ariz., students at Arizona State University (Harden’s old school) decided to stage a James Harden Appreciation Night as the Sun Devils hosted Washington State. In honor of Harden, who was not invited and of course would not have been able to attend anyway, the Sun Devil student body decided to remain silent until their team scored its 13th point. The problem? To begin, ASU coach Herb Sendek was unaware of this plan (Sendek: “This is the quietest gym I’ve ever been in.”) Second, the Sun Devils trailed and still had not scored their 13th point nearly midway through the first half.

Adding to the bizarre nature of the night, it snowed in Phoenix yesterday. Seriously.

ASU eventually scored its 13th point and went on to a 69-57 win, its 20th (20-7) of the season.

5. The lead investigator in the Oscar Pistorius murder investigation, Hilton Botha, steps down after it is discovered that he himself is facing an attempted murder charge. Yes, the story is getting more O.J. by the day. This link has a good diagram of the scene of the tragic events.

Reserves

Now THIS is an oustanding and memorable SI cover. While we don’t need four writers’ names on the cover (it’s a cover, not a masthead), the gallery of iconic figures here is perfect. Kudos to whoever fostered this idea. Oh, and I think I see Jenny rushing across the reflecting pool yelling, “Forreessssst!”

Monumental

If you stayed at the Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles recently and thought that the water tasted a little bit funny, here’s why. It turns out that the Cecil has quite the notorious history.

The cover of today’s New York Post goes to Rob Morrison, Handsome Anchor, who resigned yesterday from WCBS following his arrest Sunday night for allegedly strangling his wife, Ashley, a CBS Market Watch reporter. Morrrison was spotted at a Buffalo Wild Wings in Stamford, Conn., where he downed three light beers (during happy hour; pays to be frugal!) and spoke to Post reporter Laurel Babcock. Whether or not she identified herself as such is not known. The hed on my edition read “Drown & Out” though I prefer the one I saw elsewhere, “Pour Me.”

Oscars gift bags have an estimated value of $45,000. The rich are very different from you and me. Before you go on a bleeding heart rant (I won’t), remember, the people “donating” these items are doing so for promotional purposes. If you or I were more marketable, they’d be giving it to us. The solution: next time, find parents with better genes. Otherwise, zip it.

 

Jessica “Cheststain” and Bradley Cooper (“Silver Linings Cookbook”) go “Between Two Ferns.” “How’s bragging camp going?”

***
A modest proposal for college hoops and/or college football: Create a jackpot for the team that wins the national championship. For argument’s sake, here’s a rough outline of what I’d see. We can debate the particulars later:

1. The winning squad earns a prize of $1 million to split among every member of its roster (yes, I understand that there are far more players on a football team than a basketball team; perhaps we make it $5 million for the gridders).

2. The winning team votes on how to distribute shares amongst themselves with the one stipulation being that no player can be voted a share more than seven times greater than the smallest share.

3. The money for every player is placed into a trust until that player earns his undergraduate degree.

 

Your thoughts?

 

IT’S ALL HAPPENING! 2/20

Starting Five

1. So it’s definitely OSCAR WEEK, between the Academy Awards and the most infamous crime of 2013 thus far. As for the accused, Oscar Pistorius, his bail hearing is proving to be more intriguing than most actual trials.

Steenkamp, who was laid to rest yesterday in Port Elizabeth

What of the witness who reportedly heard a gunshot, then screaming, then more gun shots? However, will a witness who was 600 yards away at the time provide credible testimony?

What of the needles and bottles of testosterone found at Pistorius’ home? Or were they just an herbal remedy?

What of the police alleging that the trajectory of the gun shots indicate that Pistorius was on his blades when he fired the shots, which would be in dispute with what Pistorius claims?

It’s a little too early in this race between the prosecution and Pistorius to call a winner.

You know what this reminds me of? It reminds me of a 400-meter race in its first half. Because of the staggered starts, it’s difficult to grasp who’s in the lead or how far someone is trailing. It’s not until the athletes round the final turn that you really begin to understand where everyone stands relative to one another. For Pistorius, an Olympian in that event, it’s a metaphor that is easy to grasp. This race has a long way to go before it rounds its final turn.

2. This just in: Victor Oladipo is good. Top-ranked Indiana University won in East Lansing last night for the first time in 17 tries, or since 1991, and the six-foot-five junior was the primary reason. Oladipo, who was nothing special a year ago, had 19 points, nine rebounds, five steals and one block — while playing on a sprained ankle — as the Hoosiers nipped No. 4 Michigan State in a contest that felt like a Final Four matchup, and may very well be. The volume of Oladipo’s contributions pale in comparison to the timeliness of his most spectacular plays, including a dunk on a breakaway release that put IU up 70-67 in the final minute. Some players fill up stat boxes; others are pure gamers. Oladipo is more of the latter, but a little of both.

Hail to the Oladipo (see what I did there?)

 

3. Steve Rushin hits rock bottom. Sort of. With Kate Upton.

What’s larger than the Ross Ice Shelf?

 

4. Roger Goodell, NFL commissioner, earned nearly $30 million last season and Ashley Fox, NFL writer for ESPN.com, defends his pay (“Roger Goodell Earned Every Penny”). Fox (an old friend from SI days) has a point, but the question should be, Would the NFL still have earned most of those lucrative TV and labor deals with someone other than Goodell (probably)? Also, would Goodell have done the same job for half the income (definitely)?

It is worth noting, and Fox does, that Goodell earned just over $3 million in salary but more than $22 million in bonuses (and nearly $4 million, or more than ten times the annual income of the president of the United States, in “additional compensation”). It’s also worth noting that Goodell basically earned more than –before you begin factoring in stock options– every major CEO in the country.

It’s not that the NFL isn’t worth that much. It’s that Goodell is not the reason the league is. The players and the sport are.

5. Apologies for stepping on the toes of my colleague here, but Kurt Cobain would have turned 46 (my age) today. My Kurt Cobain story: In 1991 my sister, Lorraine, worked in the music business in Los Angeles. Over the Christmas holidays, in Phoenix, she secured tickets and backstage passes to a concert for herself, my brother and I at Arizona State University.

There were three acts, so we blew off the first one. Some band by the name of Pearl Jam. We arrived just after Pearl Jam’s set and that is when my sister introduced my brother, George, and I to a wispy dude with thin, purple hair by the name of Kurt Cobain. “Nevermind” had been out for a few weeks by then, but Nirvana was still just breaking out across North America.

Kurt was soft-spoken and very nice. He was eating a bowl of corn flakes and talking to some woman we did not yet know (Sis: “This is Kurt’s wife, Courtney. She’s got an album coming out, too, and it’s fantastic.” [I’m sure my brother and I rolled our eyes inwardly at that]). Kurt invited George and I to walk with him as they headed to the stage and then take in the show from the side of it (recall, this is still about nine years before “Almost Famous”). We wisely said, “Yes.”

So there the three of us were, walking out into the arena as Kurt gulped down a bowl of corn flakes. Almost as if to fulfill the song’s prophecy, Kurt entered the arena with the houselights up and the fans barely noticed. It was only when the lights went down (“With the lights out/It’s less dangerous/Here we are now/Entertain us”) did the arena erupt.

So that’s my Kurt Cobain story. We watched the entire show from about 15 feet away. I still kick myself for not stage diving during “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” At the time I was 25 and thought, I’m too old to do that. I was so much older then. Oh, well, whatever. Never mind.

The Kurt I met…

(Note: Many of the songs that appear on From The Muddy Banks of the Wishkah, Nirvana’s live album, were recorded within days of the night of this meeting)

 Reserves

Liberty and Longwood, a pair of Division I hoops schools (Big South Conference) , combine to score 55 points in the final 3:55  (Grinnell yawns at this news). The Lancers of Longwood led 80-68 at the final media timeout, but were then outscored 33-22 by the Flames. Still, Longwood held on to win, 102-101.

What is the headline here? “Cow Tipping?” “Moo-ving Violation?” “Ground Beef?” Russian dash-cams are the new Harlem Shake.

That slow and steadily growing tech giant, Google, which gets mentioned on CNBC about once for every 100 times Apple does, eclipses an $800 stock price. Less than six months ago the two companies were at near-identical stock prices, in the high $600s. Since then AAPL has plummeted more than 200 points (it opened today at near $455) while the search engine colossus opened at $807. For what it’s worth, AAPL trades at 10.4 times earnings (the lower the number, the better), while GOOG trades at 24.8 times. Which is to say, if investors truly believed in value, AAPL should be trading at about $1,100 per share relative to what GOOG is trading at.

Jeff Passan, the MLB columnist for Yahoo! Sports (as opposed to Jeff Rossen, the investigative reporter for the Today Show), tweets, “Coolest story of the spring: a blind 32 year-old is trying to make the Rays. And he’s actually got a chance.”

1. “Coolest story?” Why don’t you let us be the judges of that? Especially since it’s what, more than 30 days until spring?

2. “Blind”. Well, not really. If you read Jeff’s story –and maybe that’s all he or his editors are concerned about, the number of hits — in fact, if you read just the headline, you’ll see that pitcher Juan Sandoval is “Blind In One Eye.” Which is not the same as being blind, or even the same as being legally blind. Or even legally blonde. Passan even notes that not only is Sandoval’s left eye in good shape, it’s “better than it’s ever been, in fact.”

3. And then, in the story, Passan actually writes “even if he is a long shot to make the team now…” How does that clause jibe with Passan’s “and he’s actually got a chance” tweet?

Jeff Passan: third-eye blind

Does any of this diminish the valiant nature of Sandoval’s effort to make the Rays, particularly as a 32 year-old journeyman? No. My beef isn’t with the player. But, sorry, this is a bullshit tweet and an overblown story that other (lazy) sports blogs will note and, without either reading the story or, worse, asking some superficially observant questions about it, will simply regurgitate and implore you to read.

Passan’s tweet is –what’s that buzzphrase of the moment? — “intellectually dishonest.” Maybe he is hoping Sandoval makes the team, and then he gets a book and/or movie deal out of it. Maybe he didn’t have room in his 140 characters to write “in one eye” after the word “blind.”

I’m not here to undermine a courageous effort by Sandoval. I’m here asking all of you to practice a little reading comprehension. To simply not accept someone’s shameless self-promotion of his own story based on, I don’t know, blind faith.

 

 

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Day of Yore, February 19

Peter Gibbons: Well, I generally come in at least fifteen minutes late, ah, I use the side door – that way Lumbergh can’t see me, heh heh – and, uh, after that I just sorta space out for about an hour.
Bob Porter: Da-uh? Space out?
Peter Gibbons: Yeah, I just stare at my desk; but it looks like I’m working. I do that for probably another hour after lunch, too. I’d say in a given week I probably only do about fifteen minutes of real, actual, work.

It turned out a lot of people could sympathize. Though it didn’t do much at the box office, “Office Space,” released today in 1999, went on to become a cult classic. If you’ve worked in an office building over the last decade, you’ve heard this movie quoted.

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Today in 1945 30,000 U.S. Marines landed on the island of Iwo Jima, beginning a month long battle that was among the bloodiest in the Pacific during World War II. On the fifth day of the battle, AP’s Joseph Rosenthal snapped this iconic photo:

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He got 48 “likes” on his Facebook page.

Bon Scott was found dead today in 1980. ACDC’s lead singer died of acute alcohol poisoning after a night on the town. He was just 33. Scott sang lead on the hits “TNT,” “It’s a Long Way To the Top (If You Wanna Rock N’ Roll),” “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap,” and “Highway to Hell.”

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Today in 1995 Tommy Lee married Pamela Anderson on a beach in Cancun.

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— Bill Hubbell

 

Posted in: 365 |

IT’S ALL HAPPENING! 2/19

Starting Five

1. But Will It Play In Pretoria?

In a South African courtroom, Oscar Pistorius attends his bail hearing. The defense team argues that the double-amputee Olympian thought that his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, was a burglar (“I fail to understand how I could be charged with murder as I had no intention to kill my girlfriend,” Pistorious’ statement, which he was too upset to read, said). As these live tweets from the courtroom show, Pistorious is arguing that he thought Steenkamp was in bed when he approached the bathroom.

Prosecutors, seeking a charge of premeditated murder, argue that the “Blade Runner” put on his prosthetic legs and walked 23 feet to the locked bathroom in order to fire four shots through a locked door. They ask why a burglar would lock him/herself in a bathroom and note that neighbors heard arguing earlier.

2. Buss Stop

Los Angeles Laker owner Jerry Buss passes away at the age of 80. The Lakers won 10 NBA championships under his stewardship. More impressively,  at least to me, Buss earned a PhD in physical chemistry by the age of 24. Fittingly, the Lakers’ first game after Dr. Buss’ death will be a home contest versus inveterate rival Boston.

3. No. 1 Baylor downs No. 3 UConn in women’s hoops, in Hartford, 76-70. Brittney Griner, who scored just four points in the first half, finished with 25 as the Bears rebounded from a seven-point second-half deficit. Griner’s final points, on free throws, gave her 3,000 for her career. Only seven other players, in both men’s and women’s hoops, have reached that plateau. Griner’s UConn counterpart in the post, Stefanie Dolson, played all 40 minutes. “It never even entered my mind to take (Stefanie) out,” said Huskies coach Geno Auriemma. “Well, I shouldn’t say that. One time I thought, ‘Maybe I should get her out.’ Then I looked over (at the bench) and thought, ‘Nah, maybe not.'”

Griner and Dolson.

4. Mindy McReady becomes the fifth celebrity to appear on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew to die thereafter. In Dr. Drew’s defense, everyone eventually dies. Also, one of the “celebrities” was a Real World cast member, so I’d place that number at four, not five.

5. Local New York-based CBS New anchor Rob Morrison, who is handsome, is charged with second-degree strangulation of his wife, CBS MoneyWatch anchor Ashley Morrison, who is purdy. The incident allegedly took place around 1:30 a.m. in their Darien, Conn., home. The latter was not killed, only injured, but as police were processing Mr. Morrison in the wee hours of the morning, he reportedly made further threats that he intended to harm his wife. Champ Summers and Brick Tamland want her out of the picture, too.

 

Rob Morrison

 

Ashley Morrison

Day of Yore, February 18

Speaking of Claire, THE teenager of the 1980’s, Molly Ringwald, turns 45 years old today, and the person who made her that, John Hugheswas born today in 1950. Ringwald starred in three straight smash hits about high school in 1984, ’85 and ’86. “Sixteen Candles,” “The Breakfast Club,” and “Pretty in Pink” made her the Michael Cera of her time. Her career fizzled after that because, quite frankly, she wasn’t pretty enough to continue as a Hollywood lead. She got to have birthday cake on a table with Jake Ryan though, and that’s all any girl I went to high school with ever wanted.

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In another harmonic convergence, also born today, both in 1954, were The Church of Scientology and John Travolta. L. Ron Hubbard’s church of the bizarre is headquartered in Los Angeles and, if nothing else, you have to give them credit for keeping their secrets. Will Travolta and/or Cruise ever come clean about anything? If this is the last thing I ever write, someone please investigate it.

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Dale Earnhardt died today in 2001 after a crash in the Daytona 500.

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Bob Stinson, the lead guitarist of The Replacements, died today in 1995 at his Uptown apartment. He was 35.

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Today in 1978 in Oahu, Hawaii, Gordon Haller won the first ever Ironman competition. Haller, a US Navy communications specialist, defeated US Navy Seal John Dunbar. Dunbar led after two legs, but he ran out of water during the marathon portion of the race. His crew began giving him beer instead of water to hydrate with.

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Along with Rinwald, Hughes and Travolta, happy birthdays go out to Matt Dillon (49), Dennis DeYoung (66) and Regina Spektor (33). Their top fives:

Dillon

  1. Beautiful Girls
  2. The Outsiders
  3. Drugstore Cowboy
  4. Singles
  5. The Flamingo Kid

DeYoung

  1. Come Sail Away
  2. Babe
  3. Renegade
  4. Mr. Roboto
  5. The Best of Times

Spektor

  1. Us
  2. Fidelity
  3. Better
  4. On the Radio
  5. Samson

— Bill Hubbell

 

Posted in: 365 |

IT’S ALL HAPPENING! POTUS Day Edition, 2/18

Starting Five

1. Hey, I know that Danica Patrick taking the pole at the Daytona 500 is the biggest thing ever (according to SportsCenter), but let’s lead with a college basketball coach shoving his player right in front of the entire arena. Cal coach Mike Montgomery shoves Golden Bear Allen Crabbe during a timeout, and if this happens in the Big Ten, ACC or Big East, it leads SportsCenter. It’s, you know, kind of a big deal.

A few items: Cal trailed by 12 at that point, and went on to win by eight. Crabbe would finish with a game-high 23 points. Montgomery called the timeout at 16:31 of the second half, or 31 seconds before the mandated TV timeout, so you know he was pissed. The Golden Bears (16-9) are actually in the midst of a terrific month, having won five of six and taking down a pair of top ten-ranked conference foes, Arizona and Oregon.

Mike Montgomery. Passion and pushin’…

Still, what will be the repercussions of the shove? Cal athletic director Sandy Barbour released a statement saying that the shove was “unacceptable” but that she is confident that it will not happen again. In other words, she’s the Lanny Breuer (read on, it’ll become clear later) of athletic directors. Which is to say, why punish someone if it will upset the system’s chances of success?

2. The captain, Derek Jeter, meets the media, describes his offseason as “absolutely terrible”. Even though he spent it in his 30,000-square foot Florida mansion with Hannah Davis. When Jeter complains that cable is more annoying than _____ , he actually can do so with the DirecTV genie seated right beside him.

“You’re right, dear. Cable is more annoying than a Yankeeography.”

 

3. No one writes more important stories, more consistently, than Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone. In the latest issue he combs through both the HSBC and LIBOR scandals (“Too Big To Jail”), the former of which represents the formal end of justice in the United States. This is excellent writing and reporting (more than just a screed, Taibbi finds a whistleblower, Everett Stern, whose tale is part Office Space, part Michael Clayton). Taibbi himself concedes in the opening paragraph that “People may have outrage fatigue about Wall Street”, but later writes “There is nobody anywhere growing weed strong enough to help the human mind grasp the enormity of this crime.” More on this in Reserves.

Matt Taibbi: Fierce, fearless and phenomenally pissed off. And aren’t we lucky that he is.

4. Harold and Kumar Win the Lottery? A pair of brothers in Wichita, Kans., win $75,000 in the lottery and, while celebrating with marijuana and meth, accidentally blow up their home. Something about refueling their bongs with butane. As lifelong Sunshine State resident Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated wondered on Twitter, “How did this not happen in Florida?”

5. ESPN hoops dude Andy Katz appears (via the Subway Fresh Take hotline!) on Mike & Mike this morning and guest host Mike Hill asks him if he wouldn’t mind sticking around until after the break. Then, after the commercial, Hill thanks Katz for sticking around. Andy Katz works for ESPN. Mike Hill works for ESPN. Where was Andy going to go, Mike? Don’t insult your audience.

Katz on safari

Also, during the second segment –which was little more than an excuse to promote “Katz Corner”, Andy’s new college hoops program– Hill asked Jim Boeheim’s favorite reporter if teams that lose their star player should be evaluated differently by the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee. Obviously, a reference to Kentucky. Katz replied with a 90-second filibuster about what the Wildcats must do to make the tournament without ever ANSWERING THE QUESTION.  Answer the question!  “ANSWER THE QUESTION, CLAIRE!”

Reserves

There was an NBA All-Star Game. It looked a lot like Slamball. We always enjoyed Slam Ball.

Get ready for “Djesus Uncrossed.” “When you get to heaven, say ‘Hi’ to my Dad.”

The latest on the Oscar Pistorius murder case.

President’s Day Quiz: How many times does the same surname appear twice on the list of U.S. presidents? Answer at bottom.

Our favorite 89-inch tall high school basketball player, Mamadou Ndiaye, goes for 24 points, 12 boards and eight blocked shots as Brethren Christian (Huntington Beach, Calif.), defeats Pasadena Polytechnic, 65-50, in the 5AA state playoffs.

Meanwhile, across the continent in Orlando, Fla., at another Christian school, four-foot-five (53-inch tall) Julian Newman had 16 points, 12 assists and four rebounds in Downey Christian’s 94-31 defeat of Heritage Prep. Newman is only 11 years old but plays varsity. According to this story in yesterday’s New York Times, he sinks “100 free throws, 200 floaters and 200 jump shots every day.”

 

****

So, more on Matt Taibbi’s piece, “Too Big To Jail”. My thoughts, enumerated, so as not to lose your attention.

1. THE DEAL: What basically occurred here is that the U.S. Attorney General found British banking monolith HSBC (which operates in the U.S., as well, and thus was subject to a federal investigation) guilty of, consistently and unreservedly, over the course of nearly a decade, banking with the world’s most evil people and institutions. Helping drug cartels launder money and assisting in the funding of jihadists, as well as clandestinely banking with Iran. All of this after the Justice Dept. had warned HSBC — more than once– that it was skating on think ice.
So who goes to jail? Nobody. Instead, HSBC is fined $1.9 billion, or about five weeks’ income. Breur argues for the fiscal penalty over jail time by saying, “In the world today of large institutions, where much of the financial world is based on confidence, a right resolution is to ensure that counter-parties don’t flee an institution, that jobs are not lost, that there’s not some world economic event that’s disproportionate to the resolution we want.”

2. As Taibbi writes in response to Breur’s statement, “This is bullshit.” Put it this way. The mob kills a member of your family. In fact, the mob shakes down your family’s business and when your dad refuses to pay, they murder him. They do this to a number of people. But you know what? The garbage is being picked up on time — and the mob is in charge of waste management– so, you know, why screw up a good thing? That’s the mentality here. And it stinks, from Breur directly up to Barack Obama. There’s no excuse for this.

3. Taibbi talks about “outrage fatigue” regarding Wall Street. Another factor is that often the concepts are a little too esoteric for Joe the Plumber to properly understand or appreciate. Face it, half of us thought that the LIBOR scandal was about a pharmaceutical drug. However, what is transpiring here is as heinous as anything Pablo Escobar ever did.  LIBOR was about the world’s biggest banks fixing interest rates on a daily basis to jimmy the market; it would be like all 32 NBA coaches getting on a daily conference call, with the league’s referees, to discuss who would win that night’s games and by how much…and I know that there are a few of you out there who believe that already occurs.

4. The penalty is proof that the only real commodity is time. You cannot extend it, cannot inflate it. HSBC was only too happy to part with $1.9 billion (what do the bankers care? It’s not THEIR money) as opposed to anyone actually going to jail.

5. It may be too soon to acknowledge now, but the Obama Administration’s lasting legacy may be that it accelerated the end of civil obedience in our nation. Time and again, first in 2009 with the bailout and the decision not to prosecute anyone involved with the sub-prime loan mortgage crisis, and now with HSBC, the lesson to all Americans is that keeping the system intact — no matter how corrupt it may be — is more important than justice.

In nature devastating shocks to the system take place all the time. Hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis. Nature recovers. Likewise, it might have been a shock to the system to allow other banks besides just Lehman Brothers to fail; it might lead to a short-term fiscal apocalypse if HSBC went under, but guess what? Where there’s a void, the market fills it. That’s capitalism.

We’ve saved the banks. We’ve lost the trust of the people. Fair trade? I don’t think so.

6. Why am I, and why is Taibbi, so upset? Because this story proves, beyond any doubt, that justice is not blind. “An arrestable class and an unarrestable class,” Taibbi writes. “We always suspected it, now it’s admitted. So what do we do?”

We sit and wait for the next, larger and even more pernicious scandal. And we watch as politicians wring their hands and wonder what we all could have done to prevent it.

****

POTUS quiz answer: Six. Adams (John and John Quincy); Harrison (Benjamin and William Henry); Cleveland (Grover and Grover; same man, non-consecutive terms); Johnson (Andrew and Lyndon) ; Roosevelt (Theodore and Franklin Delano) and Bush (George and George).

IT’S ALL HAPPENING! 2/15

Starting Five

1. Allow me to don my Felix Unger cap and wail, “Oscar. Oscar. Oscar.” (Felix, by the way, was television’s first metrosexual). Oscar Pistorious appears in court in Pretoria, where he has been charged with premeditated murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. You have Africa’s most famous athlete (more so even than Didier Drogba), the world’s first double-amputee to compete in track and field at an Olympic Games, and a victim who was once an FHM South Africa cover girl. This story has, um, legs.

2. So, a meteorite lands in Russia, and this video is astounding because… apparently the sun DOES shine in Russia (every time The Big Lead runs one of those “Incredible Traffic Accident” videos from Russia, it’s always gray and miserable and Duluth).

3. The Clippers jumped out to a 15-0 lead and cruised to a 125-101 victory. A few notes: The Clippers are 3-0 against their Staples Center co-tenants this season and have led all but 63 seconds of those 144 minutes of play. The Lakers’ largest lead versus the Clippers? One point…Near game’s end Mike Fratello and Kevin Harlan, reacting to a shot of a laconic Kobe on the bench, wondered aloud what was going through the Mamba’s mind. We all know what he’s thinking: this roster blows. Steve Nash is over the hill and Dwight Howard is either too hurt or too busy making friends (TNT cameras showed Howard smiling and talking with Clipper players after the game while Kobe had presumably already retreated to the locker room and bitten the head off a beat writer from Riverside). I wonder if it’s too late for me to get traded to the Knicks.

4. In other Golden State hoops news, St. Mary’s took a one-point lead into halftime versus Gonzaga on the strength of Matthew Dellavedova’s 19 first-half points. The Zags owned the second half, though, outscoring the Gaels by 18 in a 77-60 win. Kelly Olynyk earns all the ink (I’m guilty, too), but Kevin Pangos and Mike Hart are ultimate glue guys. Oh, and Memphis transfer Drew Barham is, I think, the dad in Modern Family. Or the best sixth man in the nation. And, yes, a white dude once played for Memphis.

Barham, who was the same coif as the dad in Modern Family

And our favorite 7-5 ‘baller, Mamadou Ndiaye, is nursing a bone foot bruise so he did not play in Brethren Christian’s first-round 5AA playoff game versus Public Safety Academy (seriously, that’s their name). BC won 80-28 without him.

5. “On the good ship, Lollipoop…” Carnival Cruise liner Triumph finally docks in Mobile (that’s ironic, seek, cuz it was immobile) and passengers are then ferried directly to New Orleans by bus because the only thing worse than being stranded aboard a floating fecal barge is being stranded in Mobile (I’ve been there; I know). And of course one of the buses breaks down…

I really enjoyed this essay by Paul Whitfield of the Los Angeles Times, who points out that as horrific as this cruise seemed to be (passengers were forced to eat lobster and chocolate cake!), it was still a five-star indulgence compared to what the pilgrims endured back in 1620.

And speaking of Triumph and Carnival Cruises, the company’s CEO is Micky Arison, who also happens to own the Miami Heat, which recorded its seventh straight triumph, at Oklahoma City, as LeBron James went for 39 points (even if he failed to shoot 60% from the field)

Reserves

Carl Icahn versus Bill Ackman is perhaps the best feud outside of sports. Two billionaires wrestling over a company, Herb-A-Life, that otherwise no one would care about. Ackman is shorting it. Icahn just revealed earlier today that he owns an 18% share of it. What is this really about? The CNBC talking heads say it’s about nothing more than money, but having spent enough time around Wall Street types, here’s my opinion:

Icahn and Ackman represent the two polar opposite Wall Street alpha-male stereotypes. The former is a brilliant guy who only got where he got on his sheer finance acumen. The latter represents the type all too prevalent on Wall Street: the handsome banker who gets by on some intelligence but equally on his ability to look spiffy in an Armani suit while tossing back Hendrick’s & tonic at the Bull and Bear. That banker played by Christian Bale in “American Psycho”? Michael Douglas in “Wall Street”? That’s closer to reality than you might imagine.

Guys like Icahn loathe guys like Ackman because in their opinion, they just haven’t earned it. Guys like Ackman just smile and board the seaplane or helicopter just after lunch on Friday for the Hamptons. This will get uglier.

Smart vs Handsome (Aren’t some of us lucky to be both?) 🙂

 

ESPN’s Wright Thompson obtained Jack McCallum-like access to Michael Jordan and he certainly did not squander the opportunity. Great piece here. Me, I’m thinking that Quinn Buckner basically has all-VIP access to Michael Jordan AND Larry Bird. How come we don’t all find Buckner, who played on a national championship team at Indiana and whom his coach, Bob Knight, has often referred to as his favorite player, more intriguing?

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On Late Show Jerry Seinfeld not only appears but does a six-minute set focusing on his annoyance with people reminding him to stay hydrated, movie theaters asking us to pick up our own trash, and the obsession with cold beer (“Beer is never cold enough for Americans. Every commercial: Frost-brewed, cold-filtered, ice-bottled. We pack it in a glacier put it in the back of a frozen truck driven by a polar bear. By the time it gets to you it’s one degree below room temperature. Sorry, that’s the best we can do.”). Years ago Seinfeld told Bob Costas, “My entire act is about paying attention.” He still does that better than anyone else.

Former San Diego mayor Maureen O’Connor, 66, wagered more than a billion dollars at Las Vegas casinos over the past decade and ended up with net losses of $13 million. And it’s not as if she has the assets of, say, Kelly Lundy, to just recoup that money via the world’s oldest profession. She’s actually a dead ringer for Susan Boyle. O’Connor came by her initial windfall by being married to the founder of Jack In The Box.

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Highlights from last night’s set list on the Papal Farewell Tour: Benedict opens with the Our Father (who does that!?!) and then takes a gospel reading from the Book of Luke. Baptizes AND marries a Ukrainian couple just after the homily. Burns incense and announces after communion that a second collection will be taken up for the U.S. debt, which draws huge laughs from the Euro congregation. Dave Grohl sits in with the band. It was a tight set.

 

 

IT’S ALL HAPPENING! “Cupid, Draw Out Your Bow” Edition

Starting Five

1. To paraphrase Duran Duran, “No! No! Pistorius!” South African Olympic 400-meter runner/double amputee Oscar Pistorius fatally shoots his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, in the early morning hours of Valentine’s Day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did Pistorius, who was at his home in a gated community in Pretoria, mistake her for a burglar? Or was this a domestic dispute? Police have initially charged the “Blade Runner” with murder.

 

 

Steenkamp

 

2. The late genius wordsmith David Foster Wallace once penned a brutally funny piece for Harper’s titled “Shipping Out”  (later titled, more fittingly, “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again”) in which he spent a week on a cruise ship in the Caribbean, a week that led to –because it was DFW– extreme internal despair. DFW noted, for instance, that being a passenger on a cruise ship flloating on the sea was not unlike being a fetus floating inside amniotic fluid, as all of your nourishment needs are taken care of for you and you become a passive agent of indulgence (it should be noted that DFW ultimately committed suicide). Anyway, I kept thinking of DFW’s piece as I read about the passengers on the Carnival Cruise line Triumph that lost power this week and became a floating hell, as 3,000 passengers found themselves without working toilets and chilled shrimp. At least the Titanic went down in an hour or two.

Triumph: “This is a good ship…FOR ME TO POOP ON!”

You can’t help but read about this without summoning some sardonic chuckles (at least I can’t). Imagine not just the misery, but the exponentially greater amount of whining and complaining that has taken place the past three days. Imagine what it must be like to be a crew member on this ship. How did the occupants pass the time while adrift on this derelict barge of fecal matter? I imagine it went down just like this.

3. Jim Boeheim, making friends. The Syracuse coach, between sniffs, called ESPN’s Andy Katz “an idiot” and “a really disloyal person.” I don’t know about the former, but I’m curious what Mr. Boeheim’s first wife thought about that “really disloyal person” comment. Memo to all aspiring sports writers: Loyalty is a far more valued trait among college coaches than truth. In that way they are just like jihadists. On a related note, after UConn’s 66-58 win over No. 6 Syracuse last night in Hartford, New London Day columnist Mike DiMauro broke out the pom-poms.

4. The last hours of Christopher Dorner. How incredible is it that he was holed up for days just 100 yards or so from the police command post that was set up to hold press briefings? Look around, people. Be alert (the world needs lerts).

5. So as I understand it, Derrick Rose is going all Peter Gibbons on the Bulls (“I wouldn’t say I was missing it”)?

Reserves

It’s’ White Dude/International Student hoops heaven tonight as No. 5 Gonzaga (23-2) and seven-foot Canadian Kelly Olynyk visits unranked St. Mary’s (21-4) and scruffy Australian Matthew Dellavedova (who hit this game-winning shot at BYU last month in what was the best last five seconds of a game this season; kudos to Randy Bennett for not calling timeout) on ESPN2 at 11 p.m.

Dellavedova, the mangy mutt of college hoops

 

Of course, earlier in the evening, the world’s two best basketball players will square off in Oklahoma City as the Thunder host the Heat. When did it become a good idea to name sports teams after weather?

Notes from Pope Benedict XVI’s farewell tour: First of all, if you can get a pew, do it! The Pope is breaking out a lot of his old material — he does a Nicene Creed without using “consubstantial” — and there’s a few surprise guests who pop in to concelebrate the host (I won’t spoil it for you). Lastly, and I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but he turns up the house lights during the Agnus Dei. As the congregation sings along.

The dry ice was Benedict’s homage to ’80s hair metal

 

 

 

 

Day of Yore, February 13

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Perhaps the most iconic rap album of the ’90s hit shelves today, Tupac Shakur’s double disc, “All Eyez on Me.” It was critically acclaimed and zoomed off the shelves. Both “How Do You Want It” and California Love” hit number one on the Billboard singles charts. Shakur would be killed just seven months later.

It was tonight in 1976 that everyone in America fell in love with 19-year old Dorothy Hamill, who won the gold medal in the Women’s Figure Skating competition at the Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria. If you were old enough, 12 girls in your class had her hair cut in the next week.

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It was this afternoon in 1983 when Marvin Gaye out-shined the NBA All-Stars with his classic rendition of the National Anthem. Dr. J won the game MVP award, scoring 25 points.

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In other hoop news, it was tonight in 1954 that Furman’s Frank Selvy became the only DI player to ever score 100 points in a game. It was senior night for Furman and the coach had deemed it, “Frank Selvy” night, hoping to get Selvy as many points as possible. Selvy hit a buzzer beater from just past half-court to hit the magic number. The future internet was outraged.

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The debut album by The Black Crowes, “Shake Your Money Maker” hit stores today in 1990. The album was hip and it spawned the hits, Hard to Handle” and “She Talks to Angels.”

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“Gee, you know that information… really would’ve been more useful to me *yesterday.*”

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In the, “where in hell does the time go?” category…. “The Wedding Singer” came out 15 years ago today.

Happy Birthdays to Peter Gabriel (63) and Randy Moss (36).

Gabriel’s Top Five:

  1. In Your Eyes
  2. The Book of Love (cover of a Magnetic Fields song)
  3. Solsbury Hill
  4. Red Rain
  5. Don’t Give Up

— Bill Hubbell

 

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