IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

STARTING FIVE

Pox on FOX, and Fox in Sox, as reported by UpRoxx

1. Hackers Give AJ Chicken Pox

So reportedly hackers, upset that they went ahead and made the film Unbroken, found a way to give the film’s director, Angelina Jolie, chicken pox. Okay, I’m just being goofy. They didn’t do this. They did give Sidney Crosby the mumps, though.

2. Vanilla Funk

The Yankees are practically giving away $13 million a year contracts. It’s as if Crazy Eddie AND Jos. A Bank are the general manager.

Chase Heady (“That’s Headley!”). Really, New York? He’s a nice ballplayer, I guess. The nice thing about the four-year, $52 million deal is that the Yankees are not asking the third baseman to lose weight.

3. For Pete’s Sake

His jokes, her jumper. What a family.

SNL Rookie of the Year Pete Davidson –at least in the early voting– is six-foot-three, which is something you’d never consider when you see him slouch at the “Weekend Update” desk. Posture, my man! Anyway, his younger sister, Casey Davidson, is a five-foot-ten high school senior who averaged 23.7 points per game in her first three games of the season thus far for Staten Island St. Joseph’s By-the-Sea, which is really kinda by where New York Harbor meets that sexy part of the Atlantic Ocean that leads to the Atlantic Highlands.

Anyway, mom is proud.

4. Why Does Roger Goodell Hate Mike Tirico & Jon Gruden?

Saints 31, Bears 15.

Packers 43, Falcons 37 (it was a huge blowout for most of the game)

Dolphins 16, Jets 13.

If it seems as if Sunday Night Football has been getting far superior games than Monday Night Football this season, that’s because it has. Since Week 1, there has not been one MNF game that featured two probable playoff teams. The closest thing to a quality matchup was Patriots at Chiefs and that game was a posterior-whuppin’, as the Chiefs rocked the Fighting Garoppolos, 41-14.

5. Jimmy John’s

Last year Kimmel’s elves turned the Krasinski-Blunt domicile into a winter wonderland complete with carolers and a Guillermo

Jimmy Kimmel, John Krasinski and Krasinski’s actress wife, Emily Blunt, have a pretty good Yule duel of pranks going. This clip reviews its history and reveals the latest shot fired. Good stuff.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

STARTING FIVE

1. It’s Been a Swell Day

“Charlie was crazy. His hero was Don Quixote, an old man who fought against incivility by pretending he was a knight…His religion was decency, and he spent a lifetime fighting its enemies. You were a man, Charlie. A great, big man.”

One thing that I overlooked in my Newsweek story on The Newsroom that a few sage readers reminded me about in the Comments section. This show was never about Left or Right and it bent over backward to demonstrate that truth and integrity mattered far more than whatever color (red or blue) you associate with. As one Commenter wrote, recalling a classic Will McAvoy line, “It does not make you a Democrat just because you accept that hurricanes are caused by low pressure and not gay marriage.”

Part of what The Newsroom endeavored to do was to show that truth should never be politicized, although it has been done throughout history. Witness the climate change expert. He was so matter-of-fact and defeated about the horrors of climate change, as if to say, “Human nature (i.e., denial) versus Nature? It’s no contest.”

I also love the Commenter who noted, “Those who offer a prophetic voice to the world have always been received with hostility.”

Lots of viewers are upset that the show is ending after three seasons (really, 2 1/2), especially when painfully average shows such as The Walking Dead stumble on forever. I’d say, “Enjoy what we had. Treasure it. And, if you’re in the mood, pick up a guitar.”

Good evening…

2. Mamba Passes Jordan (By Not Passing)

Mamba demonstrates his perfect form

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Kobe Bryant. The top three scorers in NBA history have 1) all worn a Los Angeles Laker uniform and 2) names that begin with a “K.”

Although everyone knows that the most prolific scorer in NBA history, on and off the court, was Wilt Chamberlain (No. 5 on the career list).

Love Kobe (will always prefer Michael Jordan, the man he passed last night by scoring 26 points in a 100-94 win at Minnesota, where the Laker franchise originated). Worth noting: Of the top five all-time scorers, here are their career FG%’s : Kareem, 55.9%, Karl, 51.6%, Kobe, 45.2%, MJ, 46.5%, Wilt, 54%. Granted, three of those five were low-post type players. Still, Kobe has MISSED more shots than anyone in NBA history.

This season, he is 3rd in the NBA in Points Per Game but is also the only player in the Top 50 in that category who is shooting below 40% from the field.

3. Johnny Rotten

Two interceptions and zero TD passes in a loss in a game played near a Great Lake on Sunday. Johnny Manziel? Yes, but also Aaron Rodgers, who is the frontrunner for NFL MVP today. So buck up, Johnny. Sure, the Browns lost 30-0, but it was your first start. This was the Cincinnati Bengals, not the University of Florida (that was a 20-17 loss, and JFF didn’t throw a TD in that game, either).

4. The Empire Strikes Back

I don’t see the press tour making a stop in Pyongyang

Wow. You have to wonder if Sony will think twice about green-lighting the next script about an evil, tyrannical leader and a plot to “take him out.” (And with that I put a match to my own work in progress, “The Cheney Podcast”). And how unpopular is Seth Rogen in Hollywood these days? The Oscars cannot arrive soon enough.

Here is a brief review of the Sony leaks

Meanwhile, think what you want about North Korea (“think what you want about North Korea?!?”) but you have to admire the hackers here. This was their way of saying, “We had this power all along, but this time you pushed us too far.” Even if the hackers are too sophomores at Cal Tech, it’s pretty damn funny.

5. Morgan Martin Freeman Hosts SNL

The Office: Middle Earth, with Smeagol as Gareth.

He’s gone on to bigger things (Fargo, Sherlock, The Hobbit Trilogy-plus-One), but he’ll always be Tim from The Office to me. Freeman hosted SNL for me and some cheeky bloke took the piss out of the original BBC series and The Hobbit with this sketch. I don’t actually LOL much, but this did it.

Remote Patrol

American Country Countdown Awards

FOX 8 p.m.

The Voice

NBC 8 p.m.

Florida Georgia Line. I think it’s minus-7 for the Dawgs, but we saw how that worked out.

An excuse to watch some of the year’s top-selling country artists or an excuse to watch Adam Levine bicker with Gwen Stefani. Not my (or Kermit’s) cup of tea, but it may be yours.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

STARTING FIVE

I’ll not be near a computer tomorrow so in the great tradition of magazines you have to actually pay for, I’m going to arbitrarily declare this a double-issue and make you feel grateful that you’re getting even more material than you’d normally not pay for (even though you’re not). Anway, we’ll see you Monday…

Sampat returns from Venezuela with Bigfoot? Make it happen…

1. Good Will McAvoy

One of my favorite shows signs off on Sunday after three seasons and about 2,000 nasty reviews. Oh well, leave it to this guy (two thumbs pointing to chest…So how am I even typing?) to be the contrarian who defends the The Newsroom.

2. Well, He Is a Doctor

Dr. Dre’s bank account is also pumped up

According to Forbes, Dr. Dre earned $620 million in 2014, thanks mainly to his sale of Beats by Dre to Apple. That’s not only more than five times more than the next-best remunerated musical artist, Beyonce ($115 million) earned, it’s the most in a single year by a musician all-time in a single year. And I’m not even sure if Dr. Dre put out any new music in 2014.

3. Are SNL‘s Current Writers Ripping Off SNL‘s Former Writers (Probably)?

Two great guys…

This is a funny bit from SNL that only made it on-line (What does it say about Lorne Michaels at this stage of his career that the show’s most daring sketches can now only be found on-line?). Anyway, the parody on a VH-1 trope is funny, except that it was done years ago by a former SNL writer, John Mulaney, and a few friends.

4. I Cannot Wait To Read This

No, Katie, this is my Christmas card

You know what’s funny about the film Boogie Nights? The 70s disco classic  “Boogie Nights” by Heatwave does not appear in it. Anyway, the Paul Thomas Anderson classic was on two nights ago and I watched about 20 minutes of it. You have to love that the actor who played Bookman on Seinfeld says, “I’m a simple man, Jack. I like a little butter in my ass and a lollipop in my mouth, but that’s just me.
Anyway, Grantland has an oral history, and while this conceit has gotten a little faded (an oral history of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? please), this is the perfect movie for such a device.

5. The Flighter

Bale warns Pharoah that the dark night returns

Because if there is one film that begged to be remade, it was The Ten Commandments, so now Christian Bale stars as Moses (yes, a Christian playing a Jew) in Exodus: Gods and Kings. It’s the story of an oppressed people who flee to another land for a better life, where the man in charge there grants them amnesty, but only if they’ve been wandering around the Sinai Desert for 40 years (it’s not that vast a desert; you people and your poor sense of direction). And there’s also a Bush, but it’s burning.

Remote Patrol

Cavaliers at Thunder

TNT 8 p.m.

LeBron shows off his post-Heat physique

When you have at least five All-Stars on the court at once –Durant, Westbrook, LBJ, K-Love and Kyrie–that’s worth watching. All five of those guys were born and raised in the U.S.A., which is a rarity now among NBA All-Stars (at least in a group of five). Remember that the Cavs were once 5-7 while the Thunder were 4-12. They are a combined 12-1 since.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

STARTING FIVE

Have we all recovered from the randy ramblings of Olivia Thundersaddle? Dear Lord, Katie, I had five nightmares last night, all of which included that line from Airplane: “Joey, have you ever been in a Turkish prison?”

On with the show…

1. Victor? Victoria

Adriana and Alessandra

Last week’s Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show from London aired on the CBS last night and someday soon we’ll laugh about the fact that this ever appeared on tape delay (just like the 1980 NBA Finals did). VS has figured it all out, accompanying much of the runway segments with live performances from big name acts (Hozier, Ariana Grande, Taylor Swift, some schlumpy ginger dude who looks like the guy you studied with for the Econ final [Ed Sheeran]).

They’ve also turned the models –Adriana Lima, Alessandra Ambrosio, Candace Swanepoel, Karlie Kloss–into rock stars themselves. And they’ve dubbed them “Angels” because dubbing them “Unnaturally thin and busty babes who probably have eating disorders” is tougher to fit on a curtain.

This is exactly the reason, back when I worked at SI, that I tried to never walk the hallway at the same time as Josh Elliott

This will be an event held in an NBA arena-sized venue in a few years. It’s like the pro version of Miss Universe. I do hope Mr. George Michael (not the Sports Machine guy, Davo) receives his due for launching this phenomenon. And look how far we’ve come….

2. Mad Bum Phillips Milk of Magnesia

Bumgarner: Out standing in his field.

So Sports Illustrated named San Francisco Giant October ace Madison Bumgarner as its Sportsman of the Year –narrowly edging out the Ebola Fighters. It’s not a bad choice –his postseason numbers are historic (0.25 career World Series ERA in 36 innings, including 0.43 in 21 innings versus the Royals in October) for a minimum of 25 innings, although David Ortiz’s offensive numbers in last year’s postseason were no less historic –.688 batting average– for a minimum of 25 plate appearances. But Madison Bumgarner has to be the first SOtY who ever went on a date with someone who shared the same full name as he does, so that almost earns him the honor on its own.

Tom Verducci’s profile is excellent.

This trio, plus Pop, would have gotten my vote…

What I’m more peeved about is that SI made the effort to compile an Anti-Sportsmen of The Year photo gallery (solid idea) and yet omitted Tony Stewart. Whaaaaaa? I mean, sure, Donald Sterling is a racist and Ray Rice punched out his fiancee, but neither of them killed anyone while taking part in their sport. And it was, you know, kind of accidental.

3. A King and His Court

LeBron commits a touch foul on the House of Windsor

It was two nights ago, but I’ll always happily take a day off when Katie’s commercial actress schedule allows us to grab her for a day, so herewith a note about Monday’s regal NBA game in Brooklyn (if only it had been played in Queens). The lineup:

King James: (Lebron)

Prince William

Jarrett Jack

Beyonce (a Queen…it’s NYC, so I’m sure she wasn’t the only queen there)

A Duchess: Kate Middleton

A Duke alum: Mason Plumlee

Not in attendance: Lorde, Lady Gaga, former Cav Brevin Knight.

4. A Christmas Carol O’Connor Cook

Your cast: Mark Linn-Baker, Jefferson Mays, Jason Danieley & Marin Mazzie and Bill Kurtis

If you want to try something different besides watching Christmas specials that were rendered half a century ago (I love them all, too; too bad no one has improved upon them since), try this NPR broadcast of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol that was performed a couple of nights ago in NYC. You can watch it, or just turn out the lights, light a fire in the hearth, and listen. It’s excellent.

5. Cow Girls

GetAttachment

This pic comes to us courtesy of Division III’s most enthusiastic sports information director, Dick Quinn of Williams College in northwest Massachusetts (Williams is the college that most Ivy League schools pretend to be). Anyway, sorry it’s out of focus, but these are the ladies of the Ephs’ women’s soccer team that advanced to the NCAA national championship game and lost on Penalty Kicks to Lynchburg. Bummer.

Don’t you hate the idea of a championship being decided on PKs? MH does not pretend to know too much about soccer, so take this suggestion for what it’s worth, but we’d play a sudden death OT and then, if no one scores in 30 minutes, each side must peel away one player until it gets decided. WAAAAAAY more entertaining AND legitimate than PKs, no?

Remote Patrol

The Sure Thing

TCM 8 p.m.

No, I don’t have the Cliff’s Notes for “Beowulf”

I was a freshman in college on a Midwest campus when this film starring John Cusack –in the first of many roles in which he played me and thousands of guys just like me–was released. If you are under 30 years old and your name is Nick, this movie may be the reason why. Another solid job of directing by Rob Reiner, who really made a ton of great films in the Eighties and Nineties (this, The Princess Bride and This is Spinal Tap, for starters). Also, there’s a character named Gary Cooper. I wonder if Sorkin stole this or uses it as an homage…

 

And It’s Not Even Wednesday

By Katie

Some idiot once said, “You only regret the things you didn’t do.”

This is almost as bad as “Everything happens for a reason”.

I regret everything that came out of my mouth between 6th and 12th grade. I regret every tank top I’ve ever owned. I regret the year I was a redhead.

I regret letting some ding-dong with visions of comedy dancing in his humorless head talk me into doing his stupid video web series.

If you stopped by here yesterday, and if you actually clicked on the video my dear friend John posted of me acting like a right jackass (I wrote that in a Scottish accent) you know what I’m talking about. If for some reason you didn’t watch it, (a reason like you have a job or you rightly suspected it was not a cat video and therefore not worth your time) praise Allah.

I feel defensive enough to offer an explanation to you kind people, who came here looking for sports and got that instead.

Many years ago, a young Midwestern girl had lots of older siblings who were good at everything; they were writers, actors, painters and jocks. She wanted to be just like all of them, so she did all the things they did, but poorly. The only thing she wanted as much as to be like her siblings was a sweaty coupling with Daryl Hall, and she still has the diary entries to prove it.

To quote my cousin Dennis, I, I mean she, was a moron in a family of geniuses. (He didn’t say it about her, he said it about himself, and she co-opted it—another example of her unoriginality. Also it isn’t true about him.)

An example:

Her older sister, an amazingly talented artist, painted the walls of her bedroom with enchanting scenes from Mother Goose. The effect was that of an alternate world, where no harm could ever come and life was a magical hug of tranquility. People came from blocks away to see it–their parents had dinner parties just so they could show it off.

So, our young girl painted her own bedroom walls with giant Don Martin heads from Mad Magazine, sloppily and with black house paint. The effect was an Easter Island nightmare. Her parents wall-papered over it, using the excuse that it “disturbed the baby’s sleep” (it was a shared room, natch).

Imagine an eight-year-old’s rendering of this, only 5 feet high and all in black.

 

That baby grew up to be another sister who was also better than her at everything, but by the time that became clear, our heroine was a full-tilt alcoholic and didn’t mind as much.

Her lack of talent didn’t stop her, however.

She liked painting, and writing silliness, and talking in funny voices on the radio, so she did all those things all the way into her adulthood, embracing the philosophy “Jack-of-all-trades, master of none.”

They were fun, and kept her occupied and out of the kitchen, an added bonus for her discerning children. They also put a few bucks in her pocket, which was really nice since the only thing she truly hated was real work.

Then one day, an incredibly horrible on-camera job she took showed up on the interweb, so she drank a large glass of Drano and took a nap that lasted forever.

Just kidding. About the Drano nap. All that other stuff is true, except the part about being an alcoholic. I can stop anytime I want to.

Yes, I am a commercial actor in a small market. Some of the jobs are good, some are not so great, but in the maybe-not-wise words of Ms. Lisa Rinna, “I don’t say no very often. I say yes.”

Let’s start saying no

 

How have you guys been?

I can’t do a starting five today. Coming up with a real list involves reading the news, and I don’t feel like doing that. I know– you’re used to a higher standard; John does it and more, every single day, but he’s what is known in the industry as  a “pro”. He is also, if his Christmas cards are to be believed, a wildly imaginative cross-dresser.

John’s Christmas card from last year. I know! I wasn’t expecting it either.

Five Reasons I Can’t Come Up With a Starting Five

1) I’m too busy pondering why Angelina Jolie and Amal Clooney hate each other.

It seems so wrong that they do, but it feels so right. 

2) I’m pulling the cat out of the Christmas Tree

Some day, when I have a personal assistant, this will be their job. Until that day, I have to do it.

3) I’m hungover

Fittingly, my agent’s annual Holiday soiree was last night, and I had two margaritas. Then I came home and ate 317 Christmas cookies, yet here I am, ten hours later, hungry. The human body is truly a miracle.

This is a selfie I just took

4) I’m binge-watching Nashville

Several family members have been encouraging me to watch this show, assuring me it’s right in my wheelhouse. How well they know me! I can’t get enough.

I’m a massive fan of this little spitfire

5) I’m writing erotica under the pen name Olivia Thundersaddle

This isn’t true, at least not yet. But it’s on my list for 2015, so in another month it will be true. I’ll have to change my pen name now, since the whole idea behind it is so no one will ever know it’s me and I just told you that it is.

I will spend the rest of today coming up with pen names. Suggestions most welcome.

Add this to the list of things I wish I’d thought of

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

STARTING FIVE

Where’s the top and where’s the bottom?

1. CFB’s Escher Print

Did the Selection Committee get it right? It all depends how you look at the picture:

–Ohio State, whom this writer predicted WOULD make the four-team playoff back on September 8, two days after it lost to Virginia Tech, is one of the four best teams when it feels like. I sincerely believe that, and 59-0 versus Wisconsin makes that point (shh, we’ll just forget those narrow home wins versus Indiana and Michigan last month). However…

–TCU has been very impressive all season long, perhaps even more so; was No. 3 in the SelCom rankings after last week and won by 52 on Saturday; and its only loss was due to a 4th-quarter hiccup in Waco that was abetted by one missed PI and one called PI (both of which were extremely questionable)…

–and Baylor beat TCU, which makes it the only team of the three with a W over a Top 6 opponent as well as it being the only one of the three whose loss came on the road (and to a better team, West Virginia, than the Va. Tech team that defeated Ohio State).

Art Briles asks Bob Bowlsby if it is really necessary to cut the baby in two…

So, yes, it’s exactly like an Escher print (and exactly unlike that Drake song). You start at the top but when you get to the bottom you’re back at the top. Disorienting.

I can’t fault the Selection Committee. Two schools were going to get hosed either way. Better to piss off one faction (Big 12) than two: a Big 12 school who’d have a legit gripe PLUS the B1G. Meanwhile, no one came off worse than the Big 12 by touting a “One True Champion” slogan all season long and then naming co-champions. Kids, please let this be a lesson to you: just because someone has a better title, better home and higher income than you do doesn’t mean they possess more common sense. In fact, they may be hindered by their politically-based decisions. Horrible move, Bob Bowlsby. Baylor beat TCU head to head, so “crown their ass.”

Best quote of the weekend comes from Baylor QB Bryce Petty on whether Baylor deserved to be in the four: “That’s above my pay grade. The only thing I’m not paid to do is play.”

Second best quote of the weekend comes from Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher, who begged his QB, Jameis Winston, “Let me call the game!”

p.s. If you REALLY want to know what I think, scroll through my tweets the last two days. Too many nuggets of thought to reproduce here. Thanks.

2. Charlie Company

(SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t seen this episode of The Newsroom and plan on doing so, eye-muff this item)

“You’re older than you think. Don’t learn that the hard way.” Solid advice.

My favorite things about last night’s episode:

1) How Aaron Sorkin and his writing staff completely fooled me with The Sixth Sense treatment for Will. I should’ve seen that coming. Did you? If you didn’t, as I didn’t, it makes you want to watch the entire episode again to pay closer attention to the character’s lines (and I should’ve realized they never touch and we never learn the other inmate’s name. Well done).

2) Sloan Sabbith’s takedown of the Gawker-ology of the world. I’m sure the very blogs that Sorkin excoriated will find a way to turn this screed on him, but she’s right/Sorkin’s right. I happened to be in the HBO audience the night in 2008 when Buzz Bissinger pulled out a can of whupass on Will Leitch and I recall so many people who are in my audience/sports realm thinking that Bissinger was the crank. I never did. He was spot-on. As Buzz told Will, “I gotta be honest with you, I think you’re full of shit…”

(By the way, I like that Sloan is no longer awkward this season. Best character jump in the series. She’s been the best part of Season 3, and it isn’t close.)

What time are the Falcons and the Packers on tonight, she wonders?

Buzz then proceeded to point out that Will’s site wasn’t about making celebrity athletes seem real, it was about humiliating them. It was about humiliating them so that the losers who read the site and lap up this stuff can forget that it’s their own faults they’re not doing better in life. Envy.

I always found it interesting that Will had already planned a parachute jump from Deadspin before that show aired, that he pretty much left Deadspin that week for New York mag and that now he himself works on the “respectable” side. I loved when Sloan told the blogger guy to “Name X,” name the income amount at which it becomes acceptable that celebrities no longer have a right to privacy. Great scene.

3) I’ll miss Charlie Skinner (I loved him; he reminds me of Weisman, one of the best people I ever met in TV sports) but there were plenty of hints this was coming. He’d been steadily allowing Lukas Pruitt to raise his blood pressure the previous two episodes, and then he’d decided to play ball with Lukas in order for everyone to save their jobs. As he blared in his final minutes, “IS THIS A MUTINY?” “No,” replied MacKenzie, “it’s an intervention.”

He got it, finally. And then it was all over.

4) How bizarre that Don’s visit to Princeton and the rape accuser airs the same week of the Jameis hearing and the Rolling Stone/Virginia coed fiasco. Wow, this is going to cost Jann Wenner LOTS of $$$$.

Anyway, a few East Coast Elite media critics, such as Emily Nussbaum (does not work with her hands…well, except when she’s typing) of The New Yorker, fell over themselves attacking last night’s show because they didn’t like what Aaron Sorkin had Don saying in the Princeton dorm room. Because, in their opinions, the show was no longer about art but it had to become a PSA on rape.

Honest question: Isn’t it possible that no one is lying? Don’t you think the writers intentionally introduced the idea of a college student doing tequila, mollies, coke and mushrooms (AJ, are you reading this?!?) to demonstrate that this was NOT, despite she told Don, the easiest rape arrest of all time? It’s not that the dude isn’t sketchy or that she isn’t, as she sits in her room, credible. It’s this: Who knows what her mental state was at the time of the incident? Does she?

To propose that question doesn’t make rape any less heinous or serious. It’s simply to make the point that Don understands this isn’t as simple as she thinks it is. And that this will make great TV but horrible jurisprudence.

5) Please don’t ask me to comment on Jim and Maggie. I just hope they’re Havana good time.

3. Oh, the Humanity!

37 people died in the tragedy (okay, not really; just checking your historical reference points)

This item is a leftover from last week, but the in-arena blimp at Portland’s Rose Garden Moda Center (really? The Moda Center?!? How are we supposed to keep up?Thank God the Romans just always called it the Colosseum) crashed into the seats during last Thursday night’s game between the Indiana Pacers and the Portland Trail Blazers. The Blazers won, I think…

4. Katie, Warrior Princess

I have no idea what Katie is doing here, but my guess is that the patient is now wearing a toe tag.

If, like me, you’ve been missing the fabulously talented Katie McCollow on this site every Wednesday, well, I wish I had better news. Apparently, Katie is a TV star now (that dame is TOO talented) and she’s promoting All Whites Egg Whites through non-lethal means. See if you can spot which person she is in the ad (hint: she’s not stepping on a scale). Also, if you happen to see an ad for Burnsville Dodge, (“We are the KING of RAM!”)that voice may be familiar. Go, Katie, go!

5. Stuffed Animals

And a man volunteered to be eaten alive by one of them…

At the Midwest FurFest Convention in Chicago, attendees were forced out of their hotel overnight due to a gas leak, which authorities say was intentional. Which is hilarious, since hundreds of costumed humans were then forced out into the street. I don’t know if this makes more or less sense than watching an anaconda eat a man on TV (Was he unaware that anacondas usually suffocate prey before killing it?), but I did enjoy catching Morning Joe early this morning as the host explained to Mika what Furry is all about…

Remote Patrol

An Affair To Remember

TCM 8 p.m.

For God’s sake, Deb, look BOTH ways before crossing 34th Street. Any rube knows that.

Stop everything! The paragon of all RomComs, the one every other RomCom aspires to be. I can do without the third act, to be honest, but I do believe that the opening scene in which Deborah Kerr first meets Cary Grant is the best example of flirtatious banter onscreen I’ve ever come across. At least catch that.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

 

1. Polar Bears

A week ago, in this very space, I discussed TRIBES. The concept that people would rather side with their tribe than to concede even an ounce of truth on the other side. And it was all relating to Ferguson, although one week later we now have the added tragedy of Eric Garner to consider.

And so my question is, Why do we need to be so polarized? Why do we need to be polar bears? Why does former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani feel the need to appear on FOX and mention how many black-on-black murders the NYPD has hypothetically prevented by being tougher on crime? Even if that is true –kind of difficult to prove or disprove a non-event, other than noting that numbers are down–what is the connection between that and the circumstances of Eric Garner’s killing?

On the other end of the spectrum, why is it racist to note that, even if you underline 1,000 times that the police completely overreacted and went directly from zero to fatally excessive use of force in the case of Mr. Garner, even if you shout from the highest skyscraper that the grand jury in Staten Island did everyone a grave disservice (one that will ultimately result in the deaths of more innocent people, I’m certain), why is it not okay to note that there needs to be a mentality of not treating police officers like basketball referees who called you for traveling?

There’s no excuse for what the cops did in Staten Island, and there’s definitely some ambiguity as to what happened in Ferguson. But, as minor as the infractions the two men were committing were, by committing them they gave the cops cause to talk to them. And once that happens, why talk back? Now, by printing those words I have invited a segment of the readership to assume I condone what happened, which I don’t. Not for a moment. But I cannot change people’s prejudices about what they think I am or what I think. I can only write the words that I write.

It would be easy to assume that, hey, he’s a middle-aged white sportswriter so he’s completely out of touch. But the truth is, I earn less than six figures (thanks, Chris); I work regularly for half the year at a restaurant in which I interact both during and after work with a wider range of ethnic backgrounds, sexual preferences and income levels than probably any sports writer I know; I have a couple of friends who are felons (and who are smart enough not to talk back to cops); I live in NYC, which means that in most situations I am the minority.

But this is the problem. It shouldn’t be, pardon the phrase, all black and white. There’s no defending Officer Pantaleo and his cohorts and I am in no way interested in doing so. But to completely ignore every other aspect of the situation is to be leaning so far in the other direction as to go out of your way to be politically correct at the expense of being honest. And that’s the dialogue problem we have here, IMO. To ask a legitimate question on the other side of where your tribe has pitched its tent is to be seen as a complete apostate.

To be Charles Barkley is to ask a legitimate question or two, but because you’re black and you haven’t chosen the scripted Al Sharpton (what a clown and a charlatan, by the way) scripture on what you should be saying, the entire content of your argument is dismissed. And while I’m not black, I can write 10,000 more words about what a travesty the grand jury in Staten Island was, but if I dare mention in one sentence that, you know, maybe you shouldn’t talk back to cops (or, IF….IF….IF what happened in Ferguson is accurate, you shouldn’t tell a cop that “you’re too much of a pussy to shoot me.”) then I’m just Sean Hannity in a cheaper suit.

Yesterday a young African-American woman scolded me on Twitter because she interpreted what I wrote as saying that it’s okay to be shot dead for stealing. Seriously? I cannot reason with minds like that. Equating Michael Brown’s theft of cigarillos (and his theft was one-tenth as bad, in my mind, as the way he bullied the store clerk) with his being shot is like saying he was shot for living in Missouri.

Listen to the actual words people are writing or saying, people. Get past what you think they are saying based on their tribe. There’s room for nuance here. I can be 100% against what befell Mr. Garner while still wondering why a man tells cops, “I’m sick of this” especially when he knows that, as minor as it is, what he is doing is technically illegal. Does that make their use of force justified?

Of course not.
But if I follow the other side of the logic, that cops should just leave people alone when they tell them “I’m not going to take this” or “You’re too much of a pussy to shoot me,” especially when in these two cases they gave cops cause to confront them, let me ask you, Are we headed to a better society then? If cops are afraid to confront people? Of course they should have handled both situations with more discretion, with more calm, with more of a Sheriff Taylor mindset. Of course. These two men should not be dead. And at least in the case of Staten Island, there is no ambiguity in my mind that the cop should be indicted.

But we polar bears need to get off our ice bergs. We need to explore other ice bergs and see other sides and perspectives. We need to be looking for the truth, not for an argument that makes us feel better about who we are.

 

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

STARTING FIVE

For many, these guys represent the most dangerous gang in urban areas

1. Cop Land

–IFC aired Cop Land on Tuesday night, which was prophetic.

–The New York Post headline today is “It Was Not A Crime.” Were they trying to be cute? Ironic? Play both sides? Or just play to their demo?

–The Staten Island grand jury? Ironically, they choked.

Jon Stewart, who had to go on air minutes after the grand jury decision came down, put it best and succinctly without having much time to pretty up the script: “I think what is so utterly depressing is that none of the ambiguities that existed in the Ferguson case exist in the Staten Island case and yet the outcome is exactly the same.”

“If comedy is tragedy plus time (Alan Alda in Crimes and Misdemeanors), I need more (bleepin’) time,” said Stewart. “But I would really settle for less (bleepin’) tragedy.”

–Someone wrote me to say that the hold that Officer Daniel Pantaleo applied to Eric Garner was not technically a “chokehold.” Two things on that: The New York Times referred to it as a “chokehold” in its lede sentence in this morning’s above-the-fold story and 2) if a victim says 11 times “I can’t breathe” and those are his final words, does it really matter what you call it?

If it looks like a chokehold and it has the same effects as a chokehold…

–The good people at The O’Reilly Factor felt last night was the time to give props to this video made by a black man named Frederick Wilson. Because, you know, that was the lesson we should all take from this. I don’t disagree with Mr. Wilson’s thoughts; just found FOX’s timing impeccable, as always.

–You know how certain news networks and anchors (ahem, item above) always wonder why all the “good Muslims” remain silent as ISIS and Al Qaeda commit atrocities? Where are all the good cops, where is just one, who will come out and state that the cops in Staten Island completely mishandled and unnecessarily escalated a non-lethal situation? Where are they?

Which cop are you?

–The only thing I’ll say on the other side is this: Arguing with a cop on the street is just stupid. You want your day in court in terms of how a cop treats you, wait until you actually get to court. The idea of arguing with a cop on the street is dumb (Sheriff Taylor is not walking through that door). You shouldn’t have to pay for it with your life, of course, but you’re going to lose that battle every time. And if you happen to win, well, things will only get worse real soon.

–Officer Pantaleo was stripped of his gun. That was never the problem.

–One of those Laws of Thermodynamics: For every reaction, there is a reaction. This will not stop at peaceful protests. The decision that was rendered in Staten Island yesterday will cost innocent people or good cops their lives. Book it.

2. No Habla Espanol

Yamila Diaz Rahi and her fellow Argentines deserve better…

Yesterday the U.S. Senate confirmed two new foreign ambassadors, appointments made at the behest of POTUS. The first is Noah Mamet, who was named U.S. Ambassador to Argentina. Senor Mamet has never been to Argentina (in that sense I am more qualified) and he speaks no Spanish.

The Senate also confirmed Colleen Bell as U.S. Ambassador to Hungary. Ms. Bell is a soap opera producer (The Bold and the Beautiful, which isn’t even one of my top three; I mean, sure, if it were Days of Our Lives I could understand…). Dear POTUS: My good friend Tom V. is a first-generation Hungarian, speaks the language, graduated from Stanford and has worked for the U.S. State Department for approximately 20 years. When you sober up, please replace Ms. Bell with Tommy. I’ll give you the last name when I hear from you.

Couldn’t we have named Al Hrabosky (“The Mad Hungarian”) ambassador? Who wouldn’t have supported that?

So how did Mamet and Bell land these gigs? Each raised at least $500,000 for POTUS’ reelection campaign. Honestly, when your REAL-LIFE ambassador makes less sense than Teo Leoni as Secretary of State, we’ve got a problem…

3. Where Was Mad Bum?

Herndon crosses finish line. A big burp is ahead

The Beer Mile World Championship was staged in Austin last night. Corey Gallagher, a 27 year-old from Winnipeg, ran four laps and chugged four beers (one after each lap) in 5:00.23, breaking the tape. In the Women’s division, Elizabeth Herndon, 29, a geology professor, crossed in 6:17. And let’s face it: we all want to know more about Elizabeth Herndon because she sounds like the perfect woman.

If you want to learn more about the Beer Mile, here’s a piece from The New York Times and another from The Atlantic.

4. A Shocker in SLC

That’s Jakob Poeltl, who had 12 points and 11 boards for the wayward Utes. He’s a 7-footer from Austria. That’s Alps, not Barrier Reef.

Yes, Notre Dame beat No. 19 Michigan State for the first time since 1979 (it was the first time these two relatively close schools had met since 1979). Yes, Duke beat Wisconsin in Madison. Yes, even the Sick Sirs won.

Buried beneath all that? No. 25 Utah ended the nation’s longest regular-season college win streak by beating No. 8 Wichita State in overtime, 69-68. The Shockers were on the free throw line with a chance to tie and win with 7.5 ticks left in OT, but Fred VanVleet missed the front end of the one-and-one.

(The game also featured the second incident this week of a referee being knocked down or out during a jump ball. Elbows in, guys.)

By the way, I really liked when ESPN’s Dave Flemming (? I think), calling the Irish game with Doris Burke, noted that the two of them would also be calling Saturday’s game in South Bend between UConn and Notre Dame, women’s edition: “So we get to stay here until then,” said Flemming. Good humor. If they’re smart, they headed immediately to Chicago at least for today.

5. Serial: It’s Not Just for Breakfast

Sarah Koenig, creator and host

If you could’ve purchased stock in any form of entertainment the past two weeks, you’d have bought “Serial,” the podcast which was spun off from NPR’s This American Life. I haven’t listened to it, but it’s basically a review of a 14 year-old murder case in Baltimore, kind of a Whodunnit after the fact. Seems that the convicted suspect, Adnan Syed, may not actually be the killer. Former Baltimore Sun journalist Sarah Koenig is the host.

Serial has become the most popular podcast in history, No. 1 on iTunes for a number of weeks.

Reserves

Yeah, maybe I shouldn’t have said that. But sometimes you cannot resist a good line…

Just wanted to note here that Jim Harper (John Gallagher, Jr.), the least-liked character by every female who reviews The Newsroom, got off two good lines in a matter of minutes in the most recent episode. First, “Dear Penthouse, I’ve never written a letter like this before…” was followed just a scene later by “No one would ever know you two were a couple.” And he also nailed Hallie to the wall on the balcony (“I have your Samsung Galaxy, what else do you got?”).

Methinks Jim is more Aaron Sorkin than anyone on the series. Sometimes that’s a good thing, sometimes it’s bad. I was on his side this week. Totes.

Remote Patrol

Lars and the Real Girl 

Sundance 10 p.m.

He’s thinking, She’s no Eva Mendes

Never seen it, so this Ryan Gosling vehicle is more for me out of curiosity. As a sports scribbler, I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you that the NBA’s two brightest new luminaries, Anthony Davis and Stephen Curry, meet on TNT at 10:30 p.m. If they held the MVP balloting right now –and why would they?– these two would finish one-two in either order.

 

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

STARTING FIVE

GQ’s Woman of the Year: If it isn’t Scottish, it’s CRAP

1. Tilda Cows Come Home*

*The judges concede that this was a bit of a stretch

So, GQ named 5’11” Scottish actress Tilda Swinton (The Beach, Adaptation, Michael Clayton, The Grand Budapest Hotel) its “Woman of the Year” and I’m down with that. Why? First, because Scotland is so damn enchanting and I’m totally jealous of writer Zach Baron for receiving a tour of the Highlands from Ms. Swinton. Second, because she’s actually older than I am (54) so if she can be Woman of the Year, well, move over Chris Hemsworth next year.

“Ziggy playyyed gui-TARRRR!”

What we all love about Swinton, I think, is that striking, androgynous beauty. As Conan O’Brien said last night (2:30 in the video), “I learned (she was named) when all the people I passed on my way to work kept telling me ‘Congratulations’.”

2. Peter Pan-demic

Lena Dunham in this role would have been intriguing…

Actress Allison Williams, whose pop just celebrated 10 years in the NBC Nightly News chair and hails from the same home town as your humble scribe (“Middletown, represent!”), will play Peter Pan in a live NBC production of the musical tomorrow night (apparently, NBC is fine with how the Carrie Underwood-as-Fraulein Maria experiment went down last year).

Will not be playing Peter Pan

The 26 year-old Yale grad is not to be confused with ESPN sideline reporter Allison Williams –although because they’re both brunettes in their 20s with the same name who appear on TV, you’d be totally forgiven if you did, right?

Anyway, a few other notable actors and actresses who’ve donned the green tights to follow (are you noticing a certain androgyny theme? Hell, let’s just get this out of the way now.):

Sandy Duncan: The Wheat-Thin actress is the definition of spritely.

Farrow: How many humans can say they’ve shared a bed with both Frank Sinatra and Woody Allen? (Don’t answer that, please)

Mia Farrow: The Rosemary’s Baby starlet had the perfect face and physique for the role.

Martin gets extra points for, like the title character, having an alliterative name

Mary Martin: Still the gold standard, and yes, she was Larry Hagman’s (J.R’s) mom

3. Go Outside and Play

Don’t try this at home. Well, you can’t. That’s sorta the point.

I’m not used to seeing outdoor, cold-weather gear companies advertise on TV, but this autumn two such retailers have campaigns running on the tube (which is to say, ESPN, since I really only watch ESPN, HBO, TCM and CNBC). Anyway, I prefer the Marmot ads to The North Face ads. The song on theirs, which I don’t know, is more subtle but fits better than “This Land is Your Land”, which, yeah, is a classic, but seems a little too obvious.

My favorite ad of the week? This one. You can imagine a Creative thinking of this in three seconds –two, if he’d just watched Almost Famous–and then it was just about how to riff on the central idea.

4, Leap Frogs!

TCU QB Trevone Boykin is fun to watch. Him versus Mariota in a semi would be terrific.

TCU jumps past Florida State into third position in last night’s College Football Playoff poll, which irked a few people. Probably no one was more irked than the dude at Baylor who signed off on hiring Kevin Sullivan Communications earlier in the week only to see the Bears drop to 6th. As Dennis Dodd tweeted, “Kevin Sullivan had a bad day.”

If TCU beats Iowa State in Fort Worth on Saturday –they’re only 34.5-point favorites–by anything more than 2 touchdowns, they’re in. Which basically means Baylor is out, unless at least two of the following teams lose: Ohio State, Florida State, Oregon and Alabama. Is that possible? Yes. More likely one, though. And I doubt SelCom will put two Big 12 teams in.

Georgia Tech isn’t making the cut, even with a win, nor is Mizzou. But Arizona certainly has a shot, sitting there at No. 7.

Bears down in Waco, Bear Down in Tucson.

5. 4th Down at UAB

So, here are the facts…

1) The University of Alabama-Birmingham, which had a decent season and came within a play of ending Marshall’s unbeaten year just 10 days ago, is shutting down its FBS program.

2) It’s the first time an FBS program has shut down since 1995, the University of Pacific in Stockton (which is actually not close to THE Pacific, but whatevs).

3) Every football player will have his scholarship honored.

4) Every football coach will have his contract honored.

5) UAB is bowl-eligible for the first time since 2004.

6) The Blazers are also killing their Bowling (“NO!”) and Rifle teams.

You feel for the football players (and bowlers and shooters). Especially after the Blazers put together a solid season. But after they calm down, I hope they take a few things to heart:

1) Being a scholarship athlete is a privilege, not a right.

2) The tail should wag the dog, not the other way around. It’s in a school’s best interests to do what’s best for the school, not what’s best for the football program.

3) While Tristan Henderson, the 26 year-old player who is also an Iraq War veteran, has a right to be upset, calling out the university president for “living in a big-ass house” is a cheap shot. The program is hemorrhaging funds and the school already subsidizes two-thirds ($20 million) of its athletic department’s operating budget. School president Ray Watts delivered the bad news in person. He wasn’t a coward about it. This isn’t a matter of, “We don’t have $400 to put on the school musical.” This is major funding.

4) To the question, “What are we supposed to do?” I answer the following: You’re in college. You’re supposed to get an education. If you’re good enough to play elsewhere, great. Good luck. But if you’re only in school to play football for UAB, then that ‘What are we supposed to do?’ question was eventually going to slap you in the face –and hard–anyway. Take advantage of the free education you’re getting.

5) And to all the sports media, print and TV, who never had to put their own skin into any enterprise –who attend games for free, don’t pay for parking or food or hotels–maybe try to convey both sides of the story. The emotional “These football players have no place to play” gets the sentiments flowing, but the reality is that a school president’s primary responsibility is to the welfare of the university. And while you focus on what Henderson said, maybe give the school prez a little dap for being man enough to deliver the news face-to-face.

End of lecture.

Remote Patrol

No. 2 Duke at No. 4 Wisconsin

ESPN 9:30 p.m.

Revenge of the Nerd: Kaminsky keeps his own blog, titled “The Moose Basketball.”

Like, I know five current college basketball players (that’s a lie; I only know three), but two of them will be on the court tonight: Duke’s latest one-and-doner, Jahlil Okafor, and Wicsonsin seven-footer and print media darling Frank Kaminsky. The latter, a junior, makes it SO simple for press box cowboys by keeping his own blog (Now why would anyone with a real gig keep their own blog?). I try to avoid watching college hoops before the Ides of March, but maybe tonight…maybe…

 

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

STARTING FIVE

The oil baron also had to shale out $1 billion to his ex-wife in a divorce settlement…

1. Pork Chopped

That’s Harold Hamm. He’s estimated to have a net worth of nearly $17 billion (he could totally purchase ACN News and Charlie would probably like him). Hamm, an oil and gas entrepeneur, is a self-made man: he was the 13th child of Oklahoma sharecroppers (who were obviously quite fond of one another). Anyway, CNBC is reporting that he’s out $10 BILLION due to lower oil prices affecting the price of shares of stock in his company, Continental Resources.

So that’s why he looks like that (above)?

Doesn’t have $10 billion to lose–yet

Harold Hamm is still way wealthier than Jon Hamm, but I do wonder what he’d pay to be Jon Hamm for a day. Wouldn’t we all want to know what that’s like?

2. Pay Freeze…

Freeze has come a long way from Sandra Bullock ghost-coaching his high school football teams…

…does not mean the same thing in Oxford, Miss., as it does in the rest of the country, as Ole Miss gives football coach Hugh Freeze what reportedly amounts to a 50% raise (from $3 million to $4.5 million) too keep away the poachers from other programs (e.g., Florida, Nebraska, Michigan).

Of course, Mississippi does just happen to have the nation’s highest poverty rate of all 50 states, so giving your top-paid state employee a 50% raise begins (“Begins?!?!”) to call in your hierarchy of values. Meanwhile, I wonder how this might’ve gone down had Ole Miss lost the Egg Bowl on Saturday, which would’ve given Freeze four straight losses versus FBS competition.

3. B-O_-_

Van Dieman’s Land meets Jungleland (okay, take a bow, Walters)

Lead singer of U2 (four letters). Last night it was “Boss” as in “The Boss” (and not “The Boz”, Dish), who replaced an injured Bono for a free concert in Times Square (Chris Martin also pitched in). Free concerts, free albums…I wonder if U2 covered RHCP’s “Give It Away Now.”

Meanwhile, yes, there were post-50 year-old rockers playing in Times Square, so a “ball dropped” joke goes here.

By the way, here’s Bono extemporaneously waxing on the intersection of art and technology in a recent issue of Rolling Stone: “Painters met in Paris in the start of the 20th century, and it wasn’t just painting. You have the Bolshevik Revolution because of those incendiary (take a bow, William Miller) tracts written by Karl Marx. You have the first Cubist exhibition in Paris. And they’re all related, because, what is the theory of relativity? An object changes shape at the speed of light. So now a face can look like that, because a face is no longer what we see.”

4. Monday Night Mayhem…

If the 2-10 Jets miss out on Mariota, they’ll wonder why they ever let themselves beat the Raiders in Week 1…

Okay, sure, it was a crappy MNF game and it was wet and cold in the NYC area last night (just ask the dudes pictured in Item No. 3) and, sure, it was fun to hear the rising levels of frustration in Jon “Spider 2 Y Banana” Gruden’s voice as the Jest repeatedly refused to target Eric Decker against a trash-heap free agent corner, but here’s what WAS said in the final one minute of the broadcast:

Gruden: “Signature win for the Jets.”

Tirico: “Good night from Miami!”

Now, of course, Chuckie knew who won. And I assume the High Priest of Tirico-ism realized he wasn’t in the tropics, but still, those two errors so close together need to be contained. Or maybe they were just following the lead of this young fan and taking in some anti-freeze during the broadcast…(Howard and Don would have)

5. Will…and Grace

MacKenzie McHale = Mary Magdalene (Initially, I thought so)

My Promise: I have NOT seen the final two episodes of The Newsroom, but I have some thoughts on what I believe is coming. So if you do not want to know what I think will happen, STOP reading.

Item: Will McAvoy, our protagonist, has displayed a preternatural sense of calm all season. It’s as if he’s more at peace with himself and where he is in life than he has ever been. There are crises, but none are existential. And when matters are at their worst, he’s actually the guy who’s been quick with a quip–usually at his own expense. To which I say, “Uh oh.”

Item: It didn’t take the ethereal yet dirge-like performance of “Ave Maria” (“Hail Mary”) for me to start drawing connections between Will and a certain Messiah. The idea that Will was “too big to jail.” Or the trial with the judge who asks Will what he would like him to do (very Pontius Pilate of him). I think Will is headed for a martyr’s end. I think, in a most messianic fashion, that he will be sacrificed upon the altar of journalistic integrity.

Item: I think if you’re looking for a happy ending from Aaron Sorkin that he gave it to you in the Ave Maria montage (which, by the way, reminded me of the nuptials montage from Fandango). I think that, because it is dramatic and heartbreaking, that we got the Will-Mac wedding but that we are not getting “happily ever after.” I think that when they parted in the lobby of City Hall is the last time they will ever touch.

Item: “Will, you wanna pray with me?” That’s from the priest, but hoo-boy, I could smell the Garden of Gethsemane on that one…

I may be wrong. But if you look back at how that episode has played, and how the season is played, it’s all very Jesus of Nazareth/Owen Meany. The ANC news gang is Will’s flock, and MacKenzie McHale is his Mary Magdalene, and this is all going to end with our hero being sacrificed in the name of integrity and the First Amendment.

But Don and Sloan will end up together, so at least we have that.

Remote Patrol

Home Alone 2: Lost In New York

AMC 8 p.m.

Hand on the Bible, I have never seen a moment of the Home Alone trilogy (HA3 will actually air concurrently on Disney). But I include this just so I can add John Mulaney’s take on the film.