Starting Five


1. It’s A “Gee” Thang

New York Mess pitcher Dillon Gee (soft “G”), who entered last night’s game against the Yankees with a 2-6 record and a 6.34 E.R.A. –second-worst in the National League — strikes out 12 batters through 7 1/3 and is dominant as the Mess win, 3-1, to sweep a four-game series from their inter-borough neighbors. When Mess manager Terry Collins was asked to cite the last time Gee looked so sharp, he referenced a spring training game.

To quote Steve Rushin: “Gee, your quotes sound horrific.”

Meanwhile in Ohio, THE Ohio State University president E. Gordon Gee (hard “G”), initials E.G.G., had that on his face as comments he made last December referencing Notre Dame came to light: “The fathers are holy on Saturday, and they’re holy hell the rest of the week,” Gee had told an audience. “You just can’t trust those damn Catholics on a Thursday or a Friday, and so, literally, I can say that.”

Over at Sports Illustrated, Andy Staples had some fine thoughts on this topic. Meanwhile, Dr. Gee, your table for two with Sergio Garcia is ready.

Ali G: “I iz embarrassed for that bow-tie bro.”


2. Does your zoo have one of these?

Go ahead and clone it, but please do not attempt same with the heavy-metal band Mastodon.


The bad — no terrible — news is that some of Earth’s most beloved creatures are headed for extinction. Tigers and polar bears, oh my. The good news is that scientists may be able to clone creatures that have been extinct for millions of year using just an existing drop of their blood that has been frozen for eons (note to self: Remind biologists to check Charlie Sheen’s freezer). Scientists in Siberia located a woolly mammoth trapped in ice, pricked it, and liquid blood ran out. Now they are talking about cloning it.

3. 16 Points, Four Rebounds and Four Assists…in the Third Quarter

Woolly mammoths? Clone this!

I  had recused myself from caring about the NBA playoffs until Heat-Spurs, but last night LeBron James “went back to my Cleveland days” third-quarter performance in Game 5 tipped my hand. He personally outscored the Indiana Pacers with an effort that only Atlas, who once hoisted the world upon his shoulders, could fully appreciate. James finished with 30 points, eight rebounds and six assists in the 11-point win. Across the scorer’s table, Paul George, the HalfBeatles, had 27 points, 11 rebounds and five assists for the Pacers as his agent continues to salivate over his next contract.

4. The BlowHardy Boys

Endless Love: Mike Francesa and himself.

WFAN’s Mike Francesa is asked his thoughts on ESPN’s John Buccigross, and clearly has no idea who he is (“Who’s John Buccigross?”… He’s one of the top five anchors on SportsCenter, Mike). Francesa also says, “First of all, ESPN is not on my screen.” You’re a sports media guru who does not watch ESPN? Challenge flag, Mike. Or you’re just lazy. Also, it’s “source” with an “r”. Not “sauce” as in what to top my tortellini (who I hear the Rangers fired, but I can’t remember who broke the story) with.


Um, yes, that’s B.S.

Meanwhile, Bill Simmons, who we think is doing a terrific job on ESPN’s on-air NBA coverage now that he has stopped saying, “I don’ think the (Fill in NBA franchise here) know who their best eight guys are”,  finds a correlation during a podcast between the MLK assassination and timorous Memphis Grizzlies fans. Deadspin’s Drew Magary fillets him. Masterful job. As another writer at another site –sorry I cannot locate it this moment – wrote, “It’s a long season. Take a few plays off, Bill.”

5. The Scripps’ National Spelling Bee is a Joke

Sorry, ESPN and all of you morning shows who feel the need to stroke us into thinking this event has anything to do with a child’s ability to spell words. Yesterday’s winner, Arvind Mahankali, 13, won by correctly spelling a German word (“knaidel”) that is a type of dumpling. I haven’t run the numbers, but it seems that 95% of the words in the spelling bee are not used in normal conversation by 100% of the viewers.

In fact, “ArvindMahankali” could very well be a word in next year’s Spelling Bee.

This, my fellow language enthusiasts, is not a spelling bee; it’s a memorization bee (and it’s not a sport, either, Bristol).

You want to add drama to the Scripps National Spelling Bee? Announce a $500,000 prize to the winner. Then, on a specified day each year, officials enter 5th-grade classrooms across America –that is, unless one of Wayne LaPierre’s “good guys with a gun” mows them down in the name of protecting the children –and randomly select one or two dozen individuals. These boys and girls are then whisked off to Washington, given one day to prepare and then, Game on! A lot more drama. And a lot more fun for us viewers.

Can you spell ‘Superbad?’

As it stands now, all we get is kids who are undeniably skilled at memorization –and who probably cannot throw a spiral or name even one non-title character on Phineas & Ferb — and who in 25 years will be telling us the results of our MRI. Do we really want this?


Commencement Exercises, a.k.a. “Begin the Begin”

Engel at Fordham (no flak jacket required…until he steps off campus and finds himself in the Bronx)

This is my favorite segment that NBC Nightly News runs all year. I don’t know why they don’t turn it into an annual hour-long program. Also, watch Richard Engel. He sounds exactly like Bono in 1989. I actually dined with Engel on the night of the Opening Ceremony (not “Ceremonies”) at the Beijing Olympics. I think my sister still believes that’s the coolest thing I’ve ever done professionally (my brother believes it was riding a Waverunner with Lisa Guerrero, but that’s a different story).

Megan Draper = Sharon Tate?

The latest interweb meme — or is it a GIF? — has conspiracy theorists finding similarities between actress Sharon Tate, who was slain by the Manson Family in the summer of 1969, and Don Draper’s aspiring actress wife. For all the upheaval that occurred in the 1960s, it all ended in California at the end of the decade with the assassination of Bobby Kennedy (the real Bobby 1; we’re with you, Betty) in Los Angeles in 1968, the Tate-LaBianca murders in 1969, and then Altamont later that year.

Sharon Tate

It’s an interesting theory, particularly when you read of the Draper-Tate coincidences, and then factor in Weiner’s insatiable appetite for garnishing his drama with pop culture reality. I wouldn’t put it past him. My own little add: Where did Don and Meghan first hook up? In southern California, during a Disneyland vacation.

Megan Draper: Zou Bizou Be Careful

One of the bizarre and lesser-reported aspects of the Manson family murders? Manson was an aspiring musician and had befriended Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys. He even crashed at Wilson’s house on Sunset Boulevard until Wilson realized that he was koo koo for Cocoa Puffs and asked him to leave. However, Wilson did introduce Manson to record producer Terry Melcher, who was living with his girlfriend Candice Bergen at the time. They lived on 10005 Cielo Drive in Bel Air.

Melcher indicated that he was interested in producing Manson’s music, but he may have just been making party conversation. When Manson arrived at Melcher’s home unannounced to further discuss this prospect, he was turned away. Melcher soon moved out and rented the home to director Roman Polanski and his wife, Sharon Tate. Not long after, the Manson family returned to 10005 Cielo Drive and murdered Tate and three others.

Testimony revealed that Manson and his followers were aware that Melcher and Bergen had moved out of the house. Still, they targeted the home because they wanted to terrify him. It worked.

The Fox Mole Tells All

Joe Muto, the Fox mole (and a Notre Dame alum), reveals a lot about the inner workings of Fox News from his time as an employee there. It’s a fascinating read, but I can’t help feeling a little like Muto reminds me of another rodent — a weasel — with his tell-all. Did he not know what he was getting into when he accepted a job with Fox? And, a year after being smoked out of his hole by his superiors, is this still the only bullet in his arsenal? Why would anyone hire him again?


A Chilling Anniversary

Tomorrow marks the 24th anniversary of the murders of Jo, Michelle and Christe Rogers, a mother and two daughters from Ohio who were found floating in Tampa Bay. The trio had been raped and bound, then thrown overboard with cinder blocks tied around their necks. I’d never heard about the tale until last night, when Twitter follower David Ching of ESPN apprised me of it. Thomas French of the St. Petersburg Times wrote this Pulitzer Prize-winning piece that kept me up late into the night. Be warned: It’s fantastic but it will also take you no less than 90 minutes to read.

 Comrades In Legs


Comrades: It’s something that a hundred men or more could ever do…

On Sunday the 88th running of the Comrades Marathon, the world’s oldest and largest ultramarathon, will take place in South Africa. The 56-mile race, which was first staged in 1921 (and was only suspended during WWII) is run between the cities of Durban and Pietermaritzburg. Each year the city-to-city course alternates directions in which it is run. You must have run a sub-5 hour marathon to qualify (check!) and then you have to get your arse to South Africa.  Approximately 25,00o runners enter. If you’re a distance runner, Comrades should be on your bucket list.


The Medium Happy tip jar remains open (thanks to all of you who contribute!). on PayPal.


Starting Five

We all thought they’d pin it on this guy.

1. If Convicted, He Could Receive…The Dip

A 22 year-old employee at Disneyland, Christian Barnes, is arrested after a bottle filled with dry ice explodes in a trash can in the Toon Town section of Disneyland. Lead investigator Eddie Valiant will be on the case as soon as he checks out of an alcohol rehab center in Malibu. There’s a Toon Town section of Disneyland?!? Where have I been? Honestly, if they don’t have a barber shop that offers a shave and a haircut for two bits, I don’t know why they’d even bother to open the section.

2. And What of the Court of Public Opinion?

On “Costas Tonight” on NBC Sports Channel last night — I swear I only tuned in to watch “CrossOver” –, your eponymous host has a Paterno family spokesperson, a Paterno family attorney, and former Pa. governor Dick Thornburgh on to discuss the lawsuit they are filing against the NCAA. They insist that there was no “elaborate cover-up” (who ever said that it was elaborate?) while Costas reminds viewers that Louis Freeh and NCAA prez/bully Mark Emmert were invited to appear, but declined. I was, shall you say, Touched by this idea. Because if the Paterno family wins this lawsuit, everyone will switch course and decide that Joe Paterno committed no sins of negligence or omission while dozens of prepubescent boys were sexually assaulted by a man he knew and employed for three decades.

As for elaborate cover-ups, where’s Bob’s gray hair? He’s 61.

Maybe I should get back with Chandler.

3. Courteney Cox and David Arquette finalize their divorce. “Do you know the way to Cougar Town?”


4. New England Patriot tight end Rob Gronkowski is scheduled to have back surgery after already having undergone four forearm surgeries.

5. Moments after this took place, both John Calipari and Rick Pitino booked tickets on a non-stop flight to Kenya.

Day of Yore, May 29

I imagine it would have trended on Twitter.

Today in 1453, the Roman Empire came to a close with the Fall of Constantinople. It had been a nearly 1,500 year run, so the good ole U-S-of A only has a ways to go for longevity. Most country singers think we’re already the GOAT, but Skip Bayless thinks we need a few more titles. Several Greek intellectuals fled the city before it fell, moving to Italy, beginning the Renaissance era. No big deal or anything, its just that the Middle Ages had come to a close.


The Middle Ages were resurrected in grand fashion today in 1984, when 45-year old Tina Turner released, “Private Dancer.” It was one of the most amazing comebacks in the history music. Imagine if Natalie Merchant became one of the biggest stars in the world this summer. That’s kind of what it was like. The third single off the album was, “What’s Love Got To Do With It” and it was on after that. “Better Be Good To Me,” “Private Dancer,” and “I Can’t Stand the Rain” followed. The title track was written by Mark Knopfler, and if you listen to it, you can hear him all over it. For Turner it was a third act (most entertainers never get a second) that put her on top of the mountain, and re-wrote her entire history.


Tonight in 1913 an opera opened in Paris, Igor Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring,” and it nearly incited a riot in the theatre. It wasn’t so much the material, but the intersection of the stuffy and rich (the normal opera crowd) and the punk rockers of the day, the new bohemia in Paris. Imagine absinthe and Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman at the after party.


Today in 1954 Alfred Hitchcock released, “Dial M For Murder.” The AFI ranked it the ninth best mystery ever. A retired English tennis star finds out his wife is cheating on him with an American, and tries to have him killed and his wife framed for it. He doesn’t pull it off. What’s Boris Becker up to these days?


Jeff Buckley was found dead today in 1997, having drowned at the age of 30. This is not a bad legacy.


Um, ironically? Today in 2007 a New Jersey group named the Gaslight Anthem released their debut record, Sink or Swim.” It got very little attention from critics at large, but those who heard it loved it. wrote, “the type of record that most young bands wish they could create to launch their musical career.” It’s fantastic. I swear I was like the 10th person to watch that linked video on Youtube (some link from a link from a link that said there was a great new band) and I was hooked by the time they hit the chorus.


Birthday wishes to the deceased: Bob Hope and John F. Kennedy. And to the living: Noel Gallagher is 46 and Daniel Tosh is 38.

Gallagher’s Top 10:

  1. Don’t Go Away
  2. Little By Little
  3. Wonderwall
  4. Champagne Supernova
  5. Rockin’ Chair
  6. Little by Little
  7. Don’t Look Back in Anger
  8. Live Forever
  9. All Around the World
  10. D’You Know What I Mean?

— Bill Hubbell



Posted in: 365 |


Starting Five










1. O Captain! My Captain! Come June 7 there will be two Ethan Hawke films in theaters. There will also be two films that are the third in a trilogy in theaters. In each case, the film that you should see is Before Midnight. It’s definitely less misanthropic and nihilistic than The Purge (though, M&N may be your thing) and it certainly has more earnest effort behind it than “Hangover III” (Chris Corbellini’s typically superb review appears later in this entry).

It’s been quite a near-quarter century for Hawke, 42, a native of Austin, Texas. After standing on his desk at Welton Academy in the final scene of Dead Poets Society (and, hey, I don’t get it: Didn’t Neil kill himself because he didn’t want to become a doctor and then what happens 15 years later? He’s an oncologist on “House!”) Hawke went on to star in Reality Bites, the wannabe-zeitgeistiest film of the early ’90s (it wasn’t…Slacker was), then he married Marsellus Wallace’s wife (ballsy!) before finally becoming the lead singer of Sugar Ray. I know!

“I just wanna fly….


…So put your arms around me, baby/Put your arms around me, baby”













I never figured Hawke for longevity, but credit him for being far more than a pretty face. Repeated viewings of “Training Day” (my favorite film of his) never let you down. He’s vulnerable and tough simultaneously. Anyway, Peter Travers of Rolling Stone says Before Midnight has Oscar potential, Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 97 (while giving Hangover III a 21), and Senor Corbellini will weigh in on it next week (bill me for expenses later, Chris! Geez!). Last thing: I’d like to see a film starring Matt Damon –who began his career as a snotty prep school wanker in “School Ties” — and Hawke. They’d play brothers. Not Siamese twin brothers (Damon’s already conquered that role), but brothers.

2. Bummer of 42










Two firsts for New York Yankee reliever Mariano Rivera last night: 1) the first time in his 19-year career that he threw both the first pitch (okay, it was ceremonial) and last pitch in a game. And, 2) the first time that he failed to record a single out during a save appearance. Ever. And last night was his 700th save appearance (626 saves, 74 blown saves). Mo allowed a double, single and single in blowing his first save of the season and allowing two runs in the bottom of the ninth to the New York Mess in a 2-1 loss.

3. Calabasians are Fluent in Affluent

The Kardashians. The Osbournes. Bieber, and Keyshawn. Have you noticed how often Calabasas, a suburb to the northwest of Los Angeles, has been in the news the past couple of years due to its celebrity residents? I asked earlier today if Calabasas, which sits directly north of Malibu but on the other side of the Santa Monica Mountains and has just 23,000 residents, has become the new Beverly Hills. The overwhelming answer is yes, while follower @brettfera informed me that Hidden Hills, a fully incorporated and fully-gated community of 1,800, is Calabasas’ own Bel Air. I doubt seriously that Calabasas will ever have a tight indie music scene, but as a haven to raise a family in which crime, traffic and minorities (unless they’re retired jocks or currently landscaping your property) are non-existent, Calabasas has become SoCal’s hot spot. Question: Is Justin Bieber a Calabashole?

The mean streets of Calabasas

4. Cullen Finnerty

A tragic story, yes, the death of a 30-year old married father of two who happened to lead Division II Grand Valley State to three national championships in four seasons. It is also what we at The Daily used to refer to as a “Barry Special” in homage to everyone’s favorite story-searcher, editor Barry Werner. If The Daily still existed Barry would have already had Dan Wolken or myself up in the nether reaches of Michigan searching for witnesses. What gives this story legs is the report that Finnerty, who was found less than a mile from where he was seen with no apparent traces of foul play, reportedly phoned a family member when he was out fishing alone on Sunday night and told them that he was “nervous about something.”

Of course, the natural response to that news would be, “Nervous about what?” At this point, we don’t know whether he was asked that and/or whether he replied. Still, it is eerie. And cryptic. Did he have a mental episode? And if so, how did that lead to Finnerty’s death?

Finnerty lead GVSU to a 51-4 record in his career and made active NFL rosters for both the Baltimore Ravens and Denver Broncos, though he never took a snap in an NFL game.

5. SI on Video: Now It’s a Daily Thing

Long overdue, but Sports Illustrated is getting into the daily television show game. Okay, so it’s screaming streaming video, but the difference is that it will be appointment-style. Every weekday at 1 p.m. Maggie Gray will host a half-hour show that will include commentary and analysis from SI’s stable of writers and contributors (and I have to ask: How did I not read about this first in Richard Deitsch’s “Media Circus” column?) Some thoughts, and suggestions (you knew these were coming):

Media’s Gray Lady, and I don’t mean The New York Times.


1. There is no direct correlation between writing talent and on-air presence. Exhibit A: Alex Wolff versus Seth Davis years ago. Both were college hoops writers, and one was the dean of such at SI. But it’s Seth who has the CBS gig today.

2. “Pigskin and Pork Shoulder with Andy Staples”: This needs to happen.

3. How safe is Gray in that chair? We’ll see. Does SI care deeply about how many hits it gets and if it does, will they start searching for the next Miss Florida to host if the numbers fall shy of their estimates?

4. When SI first hooked up with CNN for an in-house video platform back in the mid-1990s, I suggested that our masthead could produce a far more entertaining and insightful show than The Sports Reporters. Put Jack McCallum, Steve Rushin, Leigh Montville and Rick Reilly together on a set and it would be gold. Sub in to the rotations writers such as William Nack, Franz Lidz, Austin Murphy, Tom Verducci, Tim Crothers and Jeff Pearlman. Thinkers, all, and friends who over a few beers have produced some of the more hilarious conversations to which I’ve had the privilege to be privy.

Franz Lidz: Arguably the most idiosyncratic, and effortlessly funny, writer ever to work for SI.

At the time I was told that such a show needed two cameras and that wasn’t in the budget. Well, guess what? A) It should be and B) Outside of Reilly, all of those people are still available to SI. This should definitely happen. SI needs to make a commitment to such a program and fully exploit its talent. Add names such as Lee Jenkins, Jon Wertheim, Pete Thamel, Staples, and even an acerbic editor (if only I could think of one…MARK BECHTEL) to the rotation. If SI really wants to take on ESPN, it needs to take advantage of its greatest resource: its unbeatable posse of scribes.


Yes, this was cool. Jeff Bauman and Carlos Arredondo throw out the first pitches last night at Fenway Park.


DON: “Peggy, could you step in here for a moment?”

PEGGY: “What’s up?”
TED: “Peggy, would you be more inclined to buy a metaphor or a blatantly transparent stick of symbolism?”

PEGGY: “Why, they both sound great to me.”
DON (contemptible grimace): “Because we need to set up this episode so that our viewers will understand that all of the characters are making do with cheaper imitations of the real thing. I’ve got Meghan when I should’ve stuck with Betty; you’ve got Abe when you should have remained with Charlie from “The West Wing”; and Joan is cavorting with Bob “Bunson” until either he joins Up With People or until Roger demonstrates that he can be an adult for two consecutive days.”

PEGGY: “Father Abraham had seven sons. Seven sons had Father Abraham. And they didn’t laugh. And they didn’t cry. All they did was stick their boyfriends with bayonets! With your right!”

DON: “So you agree with Mr. Chaough?”

PEGGY: “You mean the dude from ‘The Hangover’ movies?”
TED: “No, you dipsy protege, me! The man you’re in love with! You need to agree with one of us.”

PEGGY: “Por que?”
DON: “No, Fleischman’s. And stop speaking Spanish. You’ve been hanging out on the Upper West Side too long.”

TED: “But her face says that she agrees with me.”
DON: “That’s because you don’t know her that well.”

Aaaaaaand, scene.



We are devoting the rest of today’s section to Chris Corbellini’s review of “Hangover III” because it’s good and because we have a life to live, you know?


by Chris Corbellini (a vaunted member of the MH wolfpack)

“Chow is madness. You can’t reason with madness. You can only hope to trap it in the trunk of a car and shoot it.”

Funny how villains sometimes get sensible lines. Funny how they are rarely uttered in funny movies. How can they be? The quote above fits in a voiceover of a mob picture. Instead, it’s uttered with whiskey-voiced seriousness by a shades-wearing killer in a summer comedy – the third of the popular “Hangover” series. The Wolfpack is back and the circumstances are as dire as ever. Only this time they are sober as the audience, and the end result is dark and a little flat.

Does the passage of time and big-paycheck sequels make men older, wiser, and duller? Our three middle-class man-boys – handsome wiseass Phil (Bradley Cooper), milquetoast, earnest Stu (Ed Helms) and big-hearted weirdo Alan (Zach Galifianakis) – must save their friend Doug (Justin Bartha, once again on the periphery) from bodily harm. Here we go. Only this time the events that take place are not their doing at all – they begin the movie by doing the responsible thing, driving troubled Alan to a drug treatment center – so it’s really up to the three leads to pull the laughs out when they can, and not the situation at large.


The set-up’s the thing though. In the original everyone was just so happy or stunned to see Phil, Stew and Alan after all that happened, and it’s a blast to see the trio cobble together fragments of events of the previous night. Events that are only fully revealed in the still montage during the credits. The wedding chapel owner, for example, invited them in like drinking buddies, a little awestruck. Stripper/call girl Heather Graham had herself a blast, got hitched to Stew, and couldn’t contain how giddy she was to see them again (she’s still smiling in this one). Even Mike Tyson warmed up to the group. That’s a memorable R-rated comedy. In the sequel, though there are many plot beats exactly like the original, everyone was so angry about what happened. A disapproving future father-in-law, drug gunmen on the streets of Bangkok, and vengeful monks all took their cracks at them.  Nobody warmed up to these foreigners. So there lies the humor: what exactly did the Wolfpack do this time? Cue those stills.




With all the binge-drinking, roofie-taking, tiger-finding and monkey-snatching out of the equation in the third movie, there was no stranger-who-isn’t-a-stranger to bounce questions off of, and no concerned bride-to-be on the other end of a phone. The story spine is basically a heist – to deliver millions of dollars in gold and the man who stole them, Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong, a human spigot of sweat and facial twitches), to a Las Vegas baddie played with that whisky voice by John Goodman. The Wolfpack attempts to do so by re-reading Alan’s email correspondence with Chow (I would love to see the subject lines for those), and then they react to the oncoming weirdness one incredulous facial expression at a time. Again, all of them are entirely too sober for this.


Ciao, Chow.

This go-around Jeong and Galifianakis do the heavy weight work, with Cooper getting to do some physical stuff here and there and Helms stepping back after being the centerpiece of “Hangover 2.” There are also moments when the trio are separated, a new development, with Stu breaking into a Mexican mansion with Chow, and an impressive sequence when Alan and Phil slip into a party in a Caesar’s Palace penthouse during act three.


Everything in and outside of Caesar’s has top-quality production value. Though the script takes the team to Tijuana and spots in the desert, the director Todd Phillips clearly was most invested in making Vegas a character. That makes sense, as Phillips was once a driver in the Las Vegas edition of HBO’s “Taxicab Confessions,” so he knows the city and its high and low points. He staged a time-tested acting moment in a buddy movie – the “Let go! I’ll catch you!” scenario – and it plays out well, with Cooper and Galifianakis  seemingly high atop a casino and in danger. From there the pair enter the hedonism of the hotel room, and it’s a superbly edited and shot mishmash of light and nearly-naked women to distract the viewer before the big face-off. In a few heartbeats Chow is floating over Vegas by parachute, and the camera crew captured a brilliant overhead shot of the famous fountains at the Bellagio. The spray is practically hitting his feet, and it’s a welcome angle of a city skyline just waiting to be shot at night.

Chow fun: Jeong and Graham on a break from promoting H3 in Rio. I wanna see THIS movie.


By comparison, the Tijuana scenes felt rote. The demise of the chickens by gunfire looked herky-jerky, and perhaps only existed as an excuse for Helms to scream like a pre-teen girl, and the viewer to be reminded it’s full-tilt looney-tunes time now. When the group finally reconnects with Chow, the creatives use standard wipe editing to disorient us – we finally see him with Alan after a bus motors past that kept them out of sight. They cut away to Stu and Phil while people in shadow stroll past – a technique used most notably and far more convincingly in “Jaws” when the Kitner boy is killed by the shark and beach-goers stepping past Chief Brody break up the action and the angles that we see. “Hangover 3” also has an homage to the opening shot of “Goodfellas,” when the three principals are seated in the front of a car and they hear thumps by someone banging away trapped in the trunk.


Remember this is an ongoing story of a school teacher, a dentist and an unemployed trust-fund kid. How did it get to this point, with kidnapping and murder on the menu, three movies later? It could be the creatives absorbed the knocks on the second movie — that it was a faded copy of the first and unoriginal — and started fresh. Or they wanted to spite the lot of us. The hilarious end credits scene involving silicon implants felt like a tease – as if the filmmakers are saying “see this is the movie we COULD have made if you all just kept your mouths shut.” If that’s the case what a shame, because the audience definitely wanted to laugh along with this cast. Besides the box office, it’s greatest strength as a trilogy is all that good will it has built up for these characters. Hung over characters lying flat on cold tile, that is.


Day of Yore, May 28

Mike Tyson might never have existed if Sylvester Stallone hadn’t thought of him first.

“Rocky III” hit screens today in 1982 and Clubber Lang was one of the more intimidating bad guys in the history of movies.

Unknown  Unknown-1

Sly Stallone had gone all HGH and steroids in the six years since Rocky debuted, and his character had turned his body into nothing even resembling the guy who first fought Apollo Creed. Lang made quick work of Rocky and killed his manager Mickey in the process. In steps Apollo Creed to help Rocky train for the rematch. Maybe it was because I was still young enough, but I remember being quite thrilled when Rocky started saying to Lang, “You ain’t so bad, you ain’t so bad… you ain’t nothin!” Rocky would of course go on to end the Cold War, fight a guy with AIDS and then manage his son.

“Cliffhanger” came out 11 years later to the day. Rocky climbs a mountain in that one. The two pictures combined to make over a half a billion dollars. Sly can afford a lot of HGH.


Today in 1987 a 19-year old West German pilot, Mathius Rust, flew a Cessna airplane into Moscow and landed it on a bridge right next to Red Square. Rust said he was trying to build an “imaginary bridge” between the East and the West. In a way he did. Several top Soviet military people were fired after the incident and two months later Reagan and Gorbachev signed a treaty to eliminate intermediate range nuclear weapons in Europe. Of course, two years earlier, Rocky Balboa had paved the way for all of this after defeating Ivan Drago.


Comedian/Actor Phil Hartman was shot and killed by his wife, Brynn this morning in 1998.


It was today in 2002 that Marshall Mathers released “The Eminem Show.” The album solidified his status as the biggest rapper in the world. The big hit off the album was Without Me,” in which Eminem goes after boy bands, Limp Bizkit, Dick Cheney and Moby among others. You didn’t want any part of a verbal tussle with the Real Slim Shady. Other hits were “Sing for the Moment,” Superman,” and “Till I Collapse.”


Happy 68th to John Fogerty, 28th to Colbie Caillat and Carrie Mulligan, and 25th to both Percy Harvin and Craig Kimbrel.

Fogerty’s Top Six:

  1. Have You Ever Seen the Rain
  2. Bad Moon Rising
  3. Centerfield
  4. Proud Mary
  5. Lookin’ Out My Back Door
  6. Rock ‘N Roll Girls

— Bill Hubbell



Posted in: 365 |


Starting Five


1. Pop’s Stars

Thirty-nine seasons. Ten championship rings. One team, one coach. That is the curriculum vitae of Tim Duncan of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Tony Parker of France, and Manu Ginobili of Argentina. This trio is the core of the most successful and under-celebrated sports franchise in North America of the 21st century. Holy juxtaposition, Batman! The Spurs’ trio have stuck together, under one coach, Gregg Popovich, for more than a decade. Whereas the Heat’s trio came together in the summer of 2009 when LeBron James and Chris Bosh decided to join Dwyane Wade in Miami. Oh, I think someone on TV will point out the contrast in a week or so.

2. Delle Donne Dominates

The headline reads, “Griner Dunks Twice, But Mercury Lose”, which is no less sexist than saying, “Coed With Shortest Skirt Fails to Pass BAR Exam.” Seriously, Bristol? Aren’t you the ones who actually have broadcast rights to the WNBA? Yesterday the most (the first?) anticipated match-up between two rookie post players in league history took place, and the No. 2 pick, six-foot-five Elena Delle Donne of the Chicago Sky, gave the opposing franchise, the Phoenix Mercury, an aggravated case of buyer’s remorse. Delle Donne flashed a multi-faceted and mature game while the No. 1 pick, Brittney Griner, picked up three fouls in the first quarter. At halftime the Sky, which has never advanced to the playoffs, led by 24.

Griner’s two dunks — she became the first player in WNBA history to dunk twice in the same–whoop-de-doo! — came in garbage time, as did most of her scoring. Delle Donne finished with 22 points, eight rebounds and four blocked shots. Both players have bright futures, but Delle Donne won Round 1. Pity that ESPN barely noticed.

3. No, Yu Di’unt


Through 110 pitches Yu Darvish of the Texas Rangers, the most dominant pitcher in baseball thus far in 2013, had struck out 14 Arizona Diamondback batters. On his 111th D-Back rookie Didi Gregorius took him deep, over the right-field wall, for a game-tying two-run homer in the eighth inning. The D-Backs would score the winning run the following inning. Oh, and as for Gregorius? He was the lone starting position player for the D-Backs not to whiff once against Darvish.

4. All The Young Dudes

Look at this kid! Who does he think he is? The year is 1978 in this video, but only last week he celebrated his 53rd birthday.

5. Sydney Fog

Above, that is Sydney. Australia’s largest city was under a blanket of fog yesterday. I got nothing else to say about that.


My two-word review of “Behind the Candelabra?” “Pianist Envy.” You want more? Okay, understanding that I grew up during this era and am both keenly and fondly aware of it, I still go all Joy Behar and say, “So what? Who cares?” Queens having plastic surgery and sodomy fights. That is O-ring Bo-ring (I can’t say that, can I?). Okay, Rob Lowe remains miraculously beautiful (and I’m straight) and he kills it as the plastic surgeon. Michael Douglas never got Liberace’s diction down. He spoke much…more…methodically…and…slowly…than…that. Matt Damon was fantastic. He always is.

Best Supporting Actor statue for Rob Lowe at next winter’s Emmys. Or, if you are Jalen Rose, a Pulitzer.


Cullen Finnerty, who led Grand Valley State to three D-II national titles as their quarterback in the early 2000s, is missing. His head coaches were Brian Kelly (2003) and Chuck Martin (2004-2006). Perhaps you have heard of them.

Maeby They Should Have Left Well Enough Alone?

Dear America: Yes, all 15 new episodes of the new “season” of Arrested Development are available now on NetFlix. That does not mean you have to watch all of them at once. As creator Mitch Hurwitz warns, “You’ll get tired.” You don’t want me to get Mayor Bloomberg on this, now do you? You should know that each episode centers on a different character, and it seems to me this was less by artistic design than it was pragmatism. The “shoot” went from August through February and because of all the actors’ busy schedules (and whom do they have to thank/blame for that?), the entire cast was only together for two days. Oh, and not all of the reviews have been kind.

Remote Patrol

New York Yankees at New York Mets

ESPN 7 p.m.

It’s a pitcher’s duel. Matt Harvey (5-0, 1.93 ERA) of the Mets faces the Yankees’ ace of the spring, Hiroki Kuroda (6-3, 2.67). Watch as the Mets attempt to bat David Wright more often than once every nine batters. Also, whichever team wins has their colors displayed in lights atop the Empire State Building. Really.


Harvey and new girlfriend Anna V., an SI Swimsuit model. Defying the Verlander-Upton curse.



IT’S ALL HAPPENING! May 27 (Memorial Day)


“Poor academic judgment?” Holy Euphemism, Batman! So that’s what we are calling it? Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson has been suspended from school for the Fall 2013 semester for exhibiting poor academic judgment. Most likely it had nothing to do with arriving at the exam dressed like a member of Daft Punk. Now that would be poor judgment. We will not speculate, but the irony of that euphemism is that in leading Notre Dame to a 12-1 record and a BCS Championship Game loss as a freshman, the most definitive aspect of Golson’s game was his precociously good judgment.


Meanwhile, Tommy Rees, the Irish football equivalent of the Indy Car driver who sits back in 20th place and waits for the guys ahead of him to crash, should be the starter come August. Keep in mind, though: The last three times Notre Dame started at least 10-0, an African-American quarterback who had not started the previous September led them: Tony Rice in 1988, Kevin McDougal in 1993, and Golson last season. So, does incoming freshman Malik Zaire, who enrolled last January, have a chance to start? Our experience with Brian Kelly leads us to predict that Rees will start, but that Zaire (and senior Andrew Hendrix) will see plenty of action.

Oh, and Gunner Kiel, the top-rated prep quarterback in the land in 2012 who red-shirted last fall and then transferred to Cincinnati last month, is doing a forehead slap this morning. Kiel could conceivably return to South Bend and play this fall –he’d just have to pay his own freight, according to the Professor Whoopee of NCAA by-laws, John Infante — but we believe that ship has sailed.

Oh, and here is an example of giving the wrong person credit. Graham Watson of Yahoo! initially credits  Yahoo! columnist Pat Forde for finding the loophole in which Kiel could return to Notre Dame, even though Forde, in his own column, credits Infante with that information. Let me put on my Richard Deitsch hat for a moment and assign a “Tsk! Tsk!” to Watson.

2. The Boys From Brazil

As the Irish were making news in northern Indiana, three hours south down Route 31, a Brazilian not named Helio Castroneves was busy winning his first Indianapolis 500. Tony Kanaan, in his 12th appearance at the Brickyard, took the checkered flag under caution. He was in second place with three laps remaining and the race under caution, but when the green flag came out he zipped past leader Ryan Hunter-Reay for the lead. There were 34 lead changes in the race. Afterward Kanaan, 38, pronounced himself as having “the biggest nose” of any Indy 500 winner.

Kanaan also won Saturday’s Vin Diesel look-alike contest.


3. Not So Ugly Betty

Why, look who has her act together! It’s Betty Draper, no longer brunette, no longer rotund and no longer self-pitying. She must be watching episodes of “Bewitched!” or “I Dream of Jeannie!” And she delivers the BAM! line of the season to Don Draper, telling him about his present wife, Megan, “She doesn’t know that loving you is the worst way to get to you.” If that isn’t the title of a country song, I don’t know what is. Here’s the incomparable Alan Sepinwall with his review.


4. On this day let’s pause and be grateful for all the men and women who served, especially for those whose lives were cut short in protection of our freedom. Also, let’s think about what we might do to curb the alarming rate of military suicides. A record 349 soldiers on active duty killed themselves in 2012 while a Veterans Affairs study reported that 22 former soldiers commit suicide daily. That’s just not right.

5. I Told You, I’m Not Bothering With the NBA Playoffs Again Until the Heat-Spurs Series Begins…

So just leave me be, okay?


Robben Good!

Bayern Munich striker Arjen Robben was not having a very splendid afternoon in the UEFA Champions League final versus Borussia Dortmund –one of his shots from near point-blank range caromed off the goalkeeper’s right cheek. That is, until the 89th minute of play. A long, soaring pass from the other side of midfield from Frank Ribery (the soccer equivalent to a Go route) landed at Robben’s feet and he outdueled two defenders, then made a nifty sidestep kick past the Dortmund goalie for the winning goal. It was a classic at Wembley before some 86,298 fans. And Bayern, which had lost in the UCL final twice in the previous three years, avoids the ignominious sobriquet of “the Buffalo Bills of Europe.”

Remote Patrol

WNBA Hoops: Chicago Sky at Phoenix Mercury

ESPN2 5 p.m.

Surely, you can’t be serious, you say? I am serious –and don’t call me Shirley. Why watch? Because the two most captivating big women to enter the league in years, if not ever, will make their debut against one another this afternoon. So, yes, the WNBA got right what Baylor and Delaware –and the NCAA tourney — were unable to the past few seasons. Brittney Griner, who led Baylor to a 40-0 record in 2012 and is the NCAA all-time leader in blocked shots, will take her 6-8 frame up against 6-5 Elena Delle Donne, who finished fifth all-time in scoring. Of course, the best player whom I’ve ever seen, Diana Taurasi, will also be on the court –and I doubt she’ll allow the two rookies to overshadow her. Oh, and I’m not sure if Brittney Griner loses out to Robbie Rogers as the first openly gay player to compete in a professional sport in the USA by one day or not, but if that’s the case, bummer.

Rookies Skylar Diggins (psst: she’s hot), Delle Donne and Griner: The last best hope to save the WNBA.






Starting Five

1. Half-Beatlemania!

“And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy My brothers. And you will know I am the Lord when I lay My vengeance upon you.”

The Pacers’ Paul George (who is not to be confused with teammate George Hill…who is not to be confused with Hill Street Blues, who is not to be confused with Blues Traveler…) is the breakout star of the conference finals. George was money in Game 1 not once but twice, hitting a reedonk three-pointer and then converting all three of three free throws when he absolutely had to do so. Okay, so yeah, there was the matador defense on LBJ (let’s stop crucifying Frank Vogel for the fact that George ignored the first rule of defense your dad teaches you in third grade, “Stay between your man and the basket”), but the Fresno State product elevated his stature when he elevated over Chris Andersen (“Birdman Birdman!”) last night. I don’t know who won and I don’t really care, but this was awesome. Somewhere there’s a GIF of it and somewhere else nerds are bickering over the proper pronunciation of GIF.

George’s dunk put Indiana up73-71 with 5.1 seconds remaining in the third quarter. And, yes, LeBron James answered with a 35-foot three pointer to close the quarter to put the Heat up by one. And the two men quickly slapped hands in a display of mutual respect, which was cool. Although I cannot imagine MJ ever doing that with Reggie Miller “back in the day”, but so what?

2. Germans Invade London…Again…

The UEFA Champions League Final between upstart B0russia Dortmund and the Yankees of Germany, Bayern Munich, kicks off from Wembley Stadium in a few hours. Neutral Germans will side with the former, says Philip Olterman in The Guardian. The Huffington Post provides this preview while I remind you that one side’s top player has an all-timer of a super-villain name, “Bastian Schweinsteiger!”


3. “Game of Desks” 

Rockefell…Westercoast…The Late Night’s Watch…House Falgarian and House Firecrotch. Damn fine parody by Jimmy Fallon and his writing staff, and a special salute to how deep Fallon plumbs his thespian talents. Is this the same dude who used to break character and giggle in the midst of most of his SNL skits?

4. Umair Haque

He doesn’t look all that fierce, but the London-based economist and Harvard Business Review contributor is as fierce as anyone on Twitter (@umairh). He is as angry –angrier, perhaps– at the steady dissolution of both our economy and justice itself as either Matt Taibbi or myself (and I only put myself in their class in terms of passion on the topic; they’re both far more educated and insightful on this than I am; I’m just the Irish dude in William Wallace’s band of crusaders who’s willing to do anything for him). Anyway, I recommend you follow his tweets from the past 48 hours and then recommend more vehemently that you read this article that Haque posted on his feed. In short, if you think it’s prudent to be able to buy a $500,000 home with less than $15,000 down, then you understand what big banks — at levels of tens of billions of dollars as opposed to half a million — have been getting away with. And when it all turns to chaos, guess who has to step in and save them?


5. (Tiny) Members Only

If you thought Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest was the only wiener show in Brooklyn this July, you’re wrong. The Kings County Bar in Brooklyn is staging a “Smallest Penis” contest on July 20. The Wet Tighty Whiteys” portion of the show should provide judges and audience members (insert Beavis and Butthead giggle and “Heh heh, you said, ‘Members'”) the best chance to evaluate talent in lieu of the fact that most New Yorkers don’t drive cars (think about it for a moment). Here’s hoping they invite Jason Whitlock to be a celebrity judge.


Starting Five

1. The Most Dramatic Collapse Since the 2011 Boston Red Sox?

A bridge on Interstate 5 spanning the Skagit River in northwest Washington collapses, purportedly after an 18-wheeler slammed into it. The road is the major artery between Seattle and Vancouver, two cities that used to possess NBA franchises. As dramatic Evergreen State bridge collapses go, though, the 1940 undoing of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge remains unrivaled. And shame on your high school physics teacher if he/she failed to show you this video as an example of the power of a transverse wave.

2. “This is a tornado emergency. You need to be below ground immediately…we are not here to scare you, but this is a very large tornado…”

A news truck from KOCO TV 5 in Oklahoma City captures the first moments of funnel formation with the Moore, Okla., tornado and then the first 10 minutes. Nature’s wonder and nature’s wrath all in one scene. This is mesmerizing.


Profiles in Human Interaction: Monday in Moore, Okla., and…


…Wednesday afternoon in London.










3. London Galling

The first word that comes to mind with the murder of Lee Rigby in mid-afternoon on a London street? Brazen. The second? Calculated. Two hoodlums garnered worldwide attention with a despicable act, landing themselves on the cover of yesterday’s New York Daily News. Say what you want about their cause, about imperialism, etc. but in the 21st century video/photos/social media is a mighty powerful weapon.


4. Can’t you just see the pitch meeting for “The Purge?”  “It’s ‘The Hunger Games’ meets ‘The Strangers’ with a generous dollop of real-life Detroit.”

The Purge: Promises to be a let-down for fans of eating disorder films.


5. Until the Harvard Baseball Team Makes Another Road Trip Mash-Up…

….this video of University of Cincinnati players photo-bombing teammates during post-game interviews is the most significant contribution to college baseball humor for 2013.



The Antidote to Modern Fandom: F.C. United of Manchester

F.C. United’s fans have no Old Trafford of their own (they rent space at different locations), but they don’t care.


“I don’t support their business model. It ignores the fans. And because of that I won’t give them any cash.”

Is this me talking about the New York Yankees? It could be: I haven’t spent a dime on a ticket to the new Yankee Stadium since it opened in 2009 (and I’ll have a story about the egregious Legends Suites seating area out soon in an actual newspaper). But in fact this quote comes from Andy Walsh, the general manager of F.C. United of Manchester, a franchise that was erected on the cornerstone of disenfranchised Manchester United supporters. Man U. are the New York Yankees of European football (soccer). Walsh and other fans finally grew so fed up with Man U.’s arrogance that in 2005 they created their own fan-owned club in which each member gets one vote (“a motion to never sell advertising on the team’s jerseys passed with 96% of the vote,” writes Sam Borden of The New York Times).

Players earn $220 per game

The best part, perhaps, is that FC United of Manchester began the 2005-2006 season on the lowest rung of English club football, the 10th division. They have already ascended to the 7th division and narrowly missed an opportunity to move up one more rung on the ladder on May 11 when they lost, 2-1,  in front of 4,412 fans (Do they look as if they care that they’re not part of the Barclays Premier League?) to Hednesford Town in the Northern Premier League playoffs.

This one master stroke, relegation, is what makes English soccer so fascinating. Imagine if the worst team in Major League Baseball (hello, Miami) had to drop down a division while the best team in Triple A was allowed to advance. And if the worst AAA team had to follow suit to AA, and vice versa. And so on. This is reality in English soccer, and it is why a franchise that was literally conceived out of the disenfranchisement of the most powerful club’s fans may potentially play in the same league with that leviathan entity some day.

Leave it to our former “tyrannical” British overlords to teach us Americans a lesson in sports providing a “land of opportunity.” Now please may we have our F.C. United of Manchester kits? And when will the movie be released?

“Don’t Forget Who You Are/You’re a Rock and Roll Star”

When Tom Petty performs, he gives concert-goers their money’s worth. All this week Gainesville’s Gift to music has been performing at the Beacon Theater, a five-minute walk from here, calling it “heaven on Earth.” David Fricke of Rolling Stone provides a review.

“With one foot in the grave/And one foot on the pedal…”









Early steakateria a.m. Sorry.

Starting Five

1. LeBron’s Lay-up Line Quality Game Winner

LeBron James beats Paul George one-on-one (the HalfBeatles had been heroic until then) and then immediately searches for a Staples “That Was Easy” red button.

2. Brian Urlacher Retires

Played middle linebacker for more games, and had more tackles, than fellow Chicago Bear legends Dick Butkus or Mike Singletary. And you gotta love a middle linebacker who has “ache” right in the midst of his surname.

3. Yuichura Miura, age 80, becomes the oldest person to summit Mount Everest. “Mandelbaum! Mandelbaum! Mandelbaum!”

4. Terrific story by Berry Tramel. Don’t you think this photo should be put on the front of a T-shirt, a T-shirt that Sergio Garcia would have to wear for all four rounds of the U.S. Open?

5. Clay Bucholz of the Red Sox pitches five-hit ball over seven innings and moves to 7-0. Matt Harvey of the New York Mets is not very sharp versus Cincinnati, but gets his fifth No Decision to remain unbeaten at 5-0.