Starting Five

Wayne & Garth: Schwiiiing Set

1. 30 Rocked

It may have been the greatest all-time comedy assemblage under one roof: Bill Murray (“JAWS!”), Dan Aykroyd, Jane Curtin, Chevy Chase, Garrett Morris, Steve Martin, Martin Short, Eddie Murphy, Joe Piscopo, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Will Ferrell, Seth Meyers, Mike Myers, Dana Carvey, Andy Samberg, Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Larry David, Norm MacDonald, Alec Baldwin, Kate McKinnon, Darrell Hammond, Adam Sandler, Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, Jason Sudekis, Billy Crystal, Will Forte, “Louise K.”, David Spade, Kevin Nealon, Colin Quinn, Zach Galifanakis, Bob Odenkirk, Kenan Thompson, Rachel Dratch, Taren Killam, Cecily Strong, Ana Gasteyer, Jimmy Fallon, Justin Timberlake, and the dearly departed Jon Lovitz.

(If I’ve missed a few, please fill me in.)

The Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special will be difficult to top, mainly because of the numerous little touches that showed the attention to detail: Debbie Downer interrupting the opening number; David Spade and Cecily Strong ending “The Californians” (a sketch I love) with the “Buh-Bye” sketch; Garrett Morris reprising his “Hearing Impaired” bit; Kevin Nealon working “Subliminal Man” into his 30 seconds on stage; Norm MacDonald milking his on-air time by streeeeetching out his Chevy Chase intro; Jon Lovitz’s death call-back.

“And Alec…”


–The opening number with Fallon and Timberlake–that’s America’s biggest bromance by far.

“Celebrity Jeopardy”...Loved MacDonald reprising his “Turd Ferguson” act (“Who is Andre the Giant?”) but you have to give special credit to Ferrell, arguably the funniest man in any room, playing his Trebek so straight (take notes, Mr. Fallon). Jim Carrey made the most of his moment (as would Bradley Cooper in “The Californians”).

–The musical montage was a tad hit or miss, but Nick Ocean (Murray) belting out the “Love Theme From ‘Jaws'” was classic. Also, glad that “What’s Up With That?” got a little love.

–Seinfeld’s Q & A bit. Nice cameo for Ellen Cleghorne and loved that Larry David got his vindication.

And That’s When We Break.” Perfect use of Samberg and Sandler (and loved the intro of ‘Adam Samberg and Andy Sandler’) and love that they needled “Fallon and Sanz,” who deserved it.

Wayne’s World.” As funny and as seamless as any bit in the entire telecast. Not a wasted moment, ideal use of every catchphrase or touch that make Wayne and Garth special. They’re worthy! I’m now ready for Wayne’s World 3. 

–Miley Cyrus’ “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover” was unexpected, especially with Paul Simon in the house, but she crushed it.

The minor quibbles: Why is Eddie Murphy so aloof and unwilling to give of himself? The actresses paying homage to their favorite characters fell flat for me. Taylor Swift’s incapability to do a Californians accent. Chevy Chase seemed ill. Like, maybe seriously ill.

In the red-carpet show, Carson Daly interviewed Chase and reminded the audience (and Chase) that, “You were part of the original cast.” Chase replied, “PART of?!?” That may have been my favorite moment of the night. That ego is still very healthy.

All in all, amazing and awesome. Three-plus hours and I could’ve watched three more. And Steve Martin reminded everyone why he was the ideal man to take the stage first (“As I was walking the red carpet….that is in my home”).

I found a list of every host and musical act, chronologically, in SNL’s four decades. For your perusal….

2. Of West and Westbrook

Zach Lavine’s dunks overshadowed everything else at the NBA All-Star Weekend

 So whose idea was it to stage the NBA All-Star Game in New York City on the same night as SNL’s 40th Anniversary bash? Or which came first? Anyway, Russell Westbrook scored 41 points and was named MVP but I didn’t watch. The game is becoming more and more irrelevant because even the Pro Bowl has more defense.

I don’t know if Adam Silver is going to pull a Bud Selig here and put some type of stakes in the game, but maybe these guys need ($) a little ($) extra ($) incentive ($) to play hard ($$$).

Great note from someone on Twitter: The last time the New York Knicks won the NBA title, SNL was still two years away from its premiere. Sadly, I remember it well.

3. Hi, Sierra

Andersen was formerly the Knicks City Dancers captain, which means that she had no choice but to 1) watch 41 Knick games per season and 2) work for James Dolan. God bless her.

February is the month that makes us wonder if “magazine rack” is a double entendre. There’s the annual SI Swimsuit issue cover, of course.

This beauty is hitched to Hitch.

But Shape magazine opted to take on SI head(lights) on with this cover of Jada Pinkett-Smith in a tangerine bikini

For me, though, the most arresting cover of the month belongs to a woman who is not famous (or linked to one of the world’s most famous men), but rather to a relative unknown from Lincoln, Nebraska, who moved to NYC directly out of high school eight years ago: Sierra Andersen. The former Knicks City Dance captain is a Grace Kelly doppelgänger, but one of my favorite things about her is that she is taking guitar lessons from Dan Smith. If you have lived even a year on the Upper West Side in the past two decades, you know of Dan Smith because his fliers (“Dan Smith Will Teach You Guitar”) grace every laundromat, coffee shop and even a few bars. He’s a legend. How much of a legend? He’s even inspired a snarky meme!

If you watch the video, Andersen is playing the opening chords to “Seven Nation Army.”

(Thus concludes the Big Lead Round Up section of today’s program; hey, they must be doing something right)

4. Beverley Center


Did you watch Houston Rocket guard Patrick Beverley win the Taco Bell (hey, MH gets 25 cents for branding this here) Skills Challenge on All-Star Saturday night? I did, and I loved it. Why? Because in winning the SKILLS Challenge, Beverley traveled blatantly at least twice.

I get that you’re not going to call traveling in the Dunk Contest. But in the Skills, shouldn’t you have to display proper form?

5. Uptown Suburban Funk

Coffee Klatch a Rising Star

A northern California mother of two has created a parody video of Bruno Mars’ and Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk” video, and the mom has done it with aplomb (it doesn’t hurt that she looks great in yoga pants).

Her name is Deva Dalporto and she is (Are you listening, Katie?) a mom, wife, blogger and actor. And this is what such types do in their free time, if they ever get some. “Suburban Funk,” co-written by her husband, Greg. That cute couple in Carolina (“Christmas Jammies”) finally has some competition.

The fun part for me is wondering how many times Dalporto fielded the question, “WHAT are you doing?” while filming this video, which looks as if it was shot in one day.

Remote Patrol

Better Call Saul

AMC 10 p.m.

“I’m not a criminal,” says ‘Slippin’ Jimmy McGill. “I’m a lawyer.

Famous first words.

I don’t want to go all over the moon over this Breaking Bad prequel –I’m not sure it’s Frasier to BB’s Cheers, but it’s had a promising start. And Bob Odenkirk is not yet as oleaginous as he’ll become as Saul Goodman. What we are witnessing, thus far, is an angel’s fall from grace.


Starting Five

Karnowski is a big, big boy


1. A Mark Few Good Men

Wiltjer has improved his form…

I happen to catch a lot of Gonzaga basketball on Thursday and Saturday nights late, which should inform you that 1) the Zags have become a very telegenic mid-major program (they’re Boise State of the hardwood) and 2) my social life is lacking.

Anyway, the third-ranked Zags (25-1 after last night’s beat down of LMU) intrigue me. Are they truly a Top 5 team –this is a squad that was tied midway through the second half at the University of San Francisco last Saturday night–or do I just fail to see them as a Top 5 team because they don’t look like a Top 5 team?

…in so many ways

Their footwork and even their dribbling reminds me of a high school club. Their point guard, senior Kevin Pangos, touches his hair more than a young Michael J. Fox (and so, yes, I’ve dubbed him Teen Wolf). Their center, 7-1, 300-pound Przemek Kanowski, looks like Mark Eaton’s burlier brother. Either that or the younger bro from My Name Is Earl. 

They have two guys who truly look and move like basketball players: leading scorer Kyle Wiltjer, a 6-10 transfer from Kentucky (though he grew up in Oregon) who is the next Chandler Parsons; and 6-10 freshman Domantas Sabonis, son of NBA legend Arvydas Sabots. Walter is the Zags’ leading scorer, Sabonis their leading rebounder.

It’s not a deep team. Every game I watch, especially road games, the conference foe stays with them for 25-30 minutes, and then Gonzaga pulls away to win by 10 or so at the end. They’ve played two ranked teams, beating No. 22 SMU by 16 and falling in overtime at then No. 3 Arizona.

Did you order the Code Red, Pangos?

Believe it or not, coach Mark Few is in his 16th season in Spokane. He’s won more than 80% of his games at the charming little Jesuit school that boasts Bing Crosby as an alum (“shoo be doozie do…”). However, the Zags, unlike their players’ career routes, have been one-and-done in the NCAA’s the past five seasons, i.e., Round of 32. Few’s record in March Madness is just 16-15. Yes, the Zags have made the tourney all 15 years he has been on the bench.

But are they good enough to win even three games in March Madness? A No. 3 ranked club oughta be.

2. Colonel Angus

Undertaking a thankless errand, Rolling Stone decided to list the “Top 50 Greatest Saturday Night Live Sketches of All Time” (or, since 1975). Possibly more entertaining than perusing the list is sifting through the 300 or so comments informing RS of what they missed.

“The Sinatra Group,” “Landshark,” “Cheeseburger Cheeseburger”, “The Californians,” “Two Mile Island,” “Storytellers: Neil Diamond,” etc.

“And if I overstay my welcome, just tap me on the head.”

I didn’t comment, but if I had I would have asked how they found a way to omit “Colonel Angus.The wordplay/fourplay sketch, written by Tina Fey and abetted by Christopher Walken being Christopher Walken, would be in my top ten.

I like their No. 1. It’s in my Top 5, at least.


3. “______, Please”

Funny how nobody “caught” this

One player in the entire NFL got hammered for being caught on video saying the “N” word. Okay, I should say one white player. African-American players say it all the time.

Anyway, that player, Riley Cooper, adorns the Philadelphia Eagles calendar for the month of February…which is Black History Month. I guess my question is, How did this not be come a Cause Harrumph until February 12?

4. Carr Goes

Carr’s Media Equation column in the New York Times was always an enlightening read

One of the most talented writers at The New York Times, David Carr, is dead at 58. The highly respected media critic (and how often do you read that phrase?) pulled a Charlie Skinner, collapsing in the news room and then being pronounced dead a short time later at St. Luke’s Hospital.

Here was Carr just yesterday on the divergent career paths of Jon Stewart and Brian Williams. I can’t say I pore over the Times every day, but when I came across a column by Carr, I always read it. He didn’t know how to write boring or tepid.

5. Hey, Vern

The Ducks are only figuratively rolling out the red carpet for Adams, who played on one his first three seasons

I love the Vernon Adams saga at Eastern Washington University because whose side you take says a lot about your perspective on so many other issues.

If you are unaware, Vernon Adams played his last three seasons as the quarterback at the FCS school and led them to a 34-9 record. Adams, a dual-threat QB, put up ridiculous numbers versus B-list competition. He will graduate this spring but he still has one year of eligibility remaining.

Because Adams will graduate this spring and technically be a graduate student next autumn, he is permitted by NCAA rule stop transfer anywhere without having to sit out a year. And guess who has an opening? Oregon, which finished as the national runner-up and just lost its Heisman Trophy-winning QB, Marcus Mariota, to graduation and the NFL.

So Adams opts to transfer to Oregon –I would say the Ducks are rolling out the red carpet for him, but have you seen the field on which Adams has operated the past three seasons?– which he is permitted to do. And while he won’t be singing any Beach Boys tunes any time soon (“Be True To Your School”), the move puts him in better position to showcase his talents for an NFL career.

All fine. But, you see, Adams still must finish this semester at Eastern Washington. And guess who is the first team on Eastern Washington’s schedule next season? That’s right, the Ducks. So Eagle coach Beau Baldwin has banned Adams from using EWU’s weight room and other training facilities, a move that some people may consider “petty.”

Although I don’t understand why. Those facilities are for EWU student-athletes, which is something that Adams, of his own accord, chose to no longer be. Further, why is it okay for Adams to do something that A) benefits Adams and B) is perfectly within the rules, but it is not okay for Eastern Washington to do the same thing?

I was a little surprised while watching PTI that Michael Wilbon agreed with me. Adams was a credit to EWU and they are appreciative. They also gave him a free education and room and board for three years. He voluntarily chose to leave and, by choosing the school that he did, put himself in an adversarial role with his teammates and coaches for the first game of the season (a game they will not win, anyway, but why capitulate?). Baldwin’s loyalties are to his players and his university. Good for him.

Remote Patrol

Roman Holiday

TCM 9:45 p.m.

Gregory Peck and, in her first film, the luminous Audrey Hepburn (who won a Best Actress Oscar). In black-and-white. In Rome. A princess goes AWOL for a day and runs into a charming and dashing newsman (happens to me all the time). If you haven’t seen this yet, you haven’t seen RomComs. Speaking of which, three of Hollywood’s hottest at the time –Marilyn Monroe, Lauren Bacall and Betty Grable — are your warm-up act at 8 p.m. in How To Marry a Millionaire (which gave us the tune “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend”).


Starting Five

All right, 2015, can you slow down with all the deaths? Geez. I mean, I get it: life is fatal. But it sure seems as if a lot of famous or at least well-known folks have been keeping florists busy this winter. Yesterday morning, Jerry Tarkanian. Last night, CBS’ Bob Simon. Slow down, Grim Reaper.


1. Bob Simon, 1941-2015

The veteran CBS newsman died in a car crash on the West Side Highway in Manhattan, along the Hudson River, early last evening. It appears that his livery cab driver may have suffered a heart attack that caused the vehicle to swerve erratically.

Simon, 73 and a 60 Minutes correspondent, was an old-time combat reporter. He filed stories from Vietnam and the first Iraq War. In the latter, he and his crew were detained and taken hostage for 40 days.

Last night Deadspin’s Barry Petcheskey tweeted out this YouTube clip of a Simon piece for 60 Minutes titled “Joy in the Congo: A Musical Miracle.” I watched the entire 13:27 and by the end had goosebumps (Rule 73: Always pay attention to the goosebumps; they’re trying to tell you something). I don’t want to claim that this is Simon’s signature piece, or even his best one, but I sure loved it. He gave the world the gift of knowing about these people.

Like the legendary David Halberstam, Simon cut his reporting teeth in Vietnam and survived many other danger zones only to perish in a car crash in his seventies while someone else was driving.

2. Tark Throws in the Towel

Shark Left (I had to)

R.I.P., Jerry Tarkanian. No one ever coached a more aptly named team than Tarkanian did the Runnin’ Rebels of UNLV. They weren’t quite the University of Miami of college hoops –well, maybe they were. And no one could have ever found a more fitting city, Las Vegas, in which to do it. ‘

In his last 10 seasons at UNLV, Tark was an amazing 307-42. People forget that long before those dominant –and defiant–UNLV squads of the late Eighties and early Nineties, Tark took a squad to the Final Four in 1977. And that team, which I remember, came off like the ABA to the other three Final Four seeds’ NBA teams: UNCC, North Carolina and Marquette.

Gonzo: Even Tark’s white players had afros.

That 1977 Final Four is the first one I truly recall paying attention to. You had Tark the Shark, Dean Smith (both dying within three days of one another) and Al Mcguire. As far as players, you had Cornbread Maxwell (UNCC), Butch Lee, Bo Ellis, Mike O’Koren, Walter Davis, Phil Ford and then Tark’s high fliers: Reggie Theus, Larry Moffett and Glen “Gonzo”  Gondrezick. And let’s not forget those Marquette unis.

Marquette’s unis were a thing of beauty

Truly a colorful Final Four, and Tark only added to the spectacle. I’m not sure what the record for longest time between Final Four appearances is, but Tark went 10 years. He also made the Final Four in three different decades, which is cool. Only others we can think of who have done that are Coach K, Jim Calhoun, Rick Pitino, John Calipari, Jim Boeheim, Tom Izzo, Eddie Sutton, Bob Knight, Jack Gardner and Adolph Rupp.

Boeheim and Pitino are the only two to have made it in four different decades.

3. Bucket List Bars

The Old ’76 House in Tappan, N.Y. (about 30 minutes north of NYC) is the oldest bar in the USA –or so they say. (1668)

I simply Googled the headline to see what it would render. It gave me a dozen bars in the USA. I’ve been to one (McSorley’s) and it’s not at all my favorite bar in NYC, but I guess you should see it (head to Fraunces Tavern near Wall Street some time instead).

4. Blum’s Day

Blum is a swift nine year-old…

That’s Zach Blum. He’s nine years old and next month he’s going to attempt to set the world record for a track 5-K for nine-year olds. Yes, I didn’t realize such world records were kept, either.

Blum ran an 18:30 at a 5-K Turkey Trot in Orange County in November, which is 5:58 per mile. Which is…fast.

So next month he’ll try to break the track record of 18:41 at a meet in Fullerton. Again, for nine-year olds. Zach’s father, a former Division I runner, told Runner’s World, “We’re taking it in stride, but we’re extremely proud of him.”

Taking it in stride. Nice.

5. Mr. A-Z Goes From UK to USA to AFR to ASIA to SA

“I’ve been all around the world/I’ve been the new sensation” (and he’s gonna do it again)

Last night my favorite coffeehouse nerd guitarist, Jason Mraz, played a show in Glasgow, Scotland. But that’s only the beginning of a two-month, five-continent odyssey.

Next week Mraz will be in Florida.

At month’s end he’ll be playing Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa.

Then he’ll be in Iowa.

After that, in late March, Mraz will head to Thailand and Hong Kong.

Then, in the first two weeks of April, Brazil, Argentina and Chile.

And so I guess the question is this: How do I land a job as a roadie for an acoustic guitarist?

Here’s a track-by-track review (with a few YouTube clips) of Mraz’s latest album, Yes! (worth noting that Yes never released an album titled, “Mraz”).

Remote Patrol

The Third Man

TCM 9:30 p.m.

Brought to you by Medium Happy’s “If You’re Going to Watch TV in February, More Movies and Less Basketball” committee.

Lots of buffs of film mention this flick as belonging among the all-time classics. I saw it once, but it was in a roomful of people and there was lots of beer and chili involved. I’ll try to pay closer attention this time.


Starting Five

Remember the Alamo? Why, yes, I do. It was an unseasonably warm day and…

1. Mid-Life of Brian

Six months. Six months? Six months!

And then what?

I like Brian Williams. Met him once or twice and was genuinely humble, deflected praise (so did he) (!). You’ve seen him on TV: self-deprecating, funny, well-informed. The paragon of what a person in his position should be.

But then he decided to star in his own film, Terms of Embellishment.”

The “tragedy” of his fall from grace, it seems, is that there was no reason to exaggerate the tale. You rode in a Chinook helicopter in Iraq in a time and place where U.S. aircraft were taking enemy fire. That was enough. It’s like running a 2:59 marathon but telling people you ran a sub-2:45. We were already impressed. No need to take it further.

Turness: The toughest woman at 30 Rock since he woman who created “30 Rock”

Long-term prognosis? Williams never sits in the NBC Nightly News chair again. Deborah Turness, the head of NBC News, seems like a boss who doesn’t Goodell much. She’s decisive and she doesn’t equivocate. Ask Jamie Horowitz.

By the way, here’s the text from Williams’ speech when receiving the Walter Cronkite Award in 2009. There are a few facetious comments he probably wishes now that he had not made, for instance, “You’re going to talk to producers from New Jersey, watch out; none of us are trustworthy. I’m just telling you.”

2. Rachel Mad Now

Kudos to MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow for not worrying or caring about what shoes she steps on. The enlightened evening host took her own employer to task last night for failing to supply any NBC employees to appear on her show and discuss the Williams suspension.

While I understand why NBC News might be loathe to assist Maddow, I credit her for being transparent with her audience.

The underlying issue here is one that I see crop up over and over and over and over again. In fact, for me it is one of the biggest issues people ever will face in their careers (and other aspects of their lives): at some point in your life or your career you will probably be forced to choose between truth and loyalty. Myself, I respect people who choose the former. You’ll find the former mostly writing blogs or starting their own businesses or selling what they can on the eBay. You’ll find the latter occupying corner offices.

Rachel Maddow as a younger woman. I know.

It’s not a very strategic move, choosing truth. But you do sleep better (in lower thread-count sheets). Maddow chose truth last night. I have no idea what the long-term ramifications for her will be at 30 Rock. I do think she’d be as good as any possible replacement NBC could find for Williams. I also think she’d rather remain doing the show that she does, and that NBC’s suits would worry about her appeal in states that do not border an ocean.

3. On Deck

The headline here “Brian Williams’ 6-Month Suspension Feeling More Like a Career Obituary,” seems, sadly, on target. And this entire strange tale seems more bizarre than when Liz Lemon accompanied Jack Donaghy to his high school reunion (or was it the other way around? I forget).

Anyway, it that hed proves true, with whom does NBC replace Williams? I’ll rank five people in order of how I’d hire them. And, yes, I wanted to include Jon Stewart on this list if NBC let him be himself, but we are not yet evolved enough for that to happen and I doubt he’d be interested in playing it straight.

1. Anderson Cooper… Legitimate field-reporting red; credible; trustworthy; a seamless professional; reminds us of Siberian huskies and we love Siberian huskies; used to and occasionally still does share same gym locker room as Sam Champion, Neil Patrick Harris and your author (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Yes, he’s at CNN, but he might consider a move up to the networks (if it is even a vertical move any more).

2. Matt Lauer…Would he want the gig? He’s bored with Today and certainly the workload seems as if it would be less demanding. Granted, in summer time he wouldn’t be able to get to Nick & Toni’s in East Hampton as early on Fridays.

3. Richard Engel…An out-of-Left-Bank choice, but Engel has more field danger zoner reporting cred than anyone currently in the news business; very smart and well-liked; a New York City native who might not might coming in from the cold.

4. Josh Elliott… I tweeted that “Josh Elliott wants this job” and that is unfair of me. I have no idea what he wants. But he’d be great in the role if he chose to pursue this path. He’s NBC’s David Muir, and I happen to think that Muir is the best in the business.

5. Tamron Hall... I know, you don’t think of her that way, but she’s smart, she’s gorgeous, and as an African-American woman she’s as far away from Muir and Scott Pelley as you can get. Why not? Let’s face it. This job is no longer the job Walter Cronkite once did. You’re reading a teleprompter and throwing to packages, mostly. She can do this and I’d wattch.

Wild Card: Seth Meyers…. I still miss him on “Weekend Update.” And maybe he misses doing the news.

4. Jon Is Gone

Is America ready for its first Indian talk-show host?

And now Jon Stewart surprises all with the announcement that he will be stepping down from The Daily Show later this year. Stewart is so self-aware that he announced to the camera, i.e., the viewing audience, i.e. us, that he knew that WE already knew (because the show is taped) what was coming, but that the people in the studio audience did not know. Is there a more signature 21st-century media moment than that?

Who should replace Stewart? I like Aasif MandviChris Hardwick, Joel McHale and (again) Seth Meyers as suggestions. I like Seth best, getting back to his cheerfully mischievous WU persona. I know it’ll never happen, but he’d be (except for the $$) happier.

5. What’s Love Got to do With Fit?

The Cavs find Love in a hopeless place

Honestly, I have no idea what LeBron James was thinking…

As you know, I earnestly avoid giving the Cavs (and LeBron) attention for attention’s sake (tempting the wrath of my most loyal reader that does not share my surname), but this one I cannot ignore.

Why does the best or at least most famous basketball player on the planet call undue attention to himself and his team by chiding the squad’s next-highest profile player, Kevin Love, on Twitter?

In case you missed it, on February 7 LeBron tweeted, “Stop trying a way to FIT-OUT and just FIT-IN. Be apart of something special. Just my thoughts.”

Now, first, by typing “apart” as opposed to “a part,” LeBron contradicts himself. To “be apart” means you are advocating not fitting in.

Second, in an ESPN story back in mid-October, Love specifically used the terms “fit out” and “fit in.” So LeBron had this bullet in his chamber for, what, four months? Really?

You know me: From the day LeBron and Lee Jenkins hooked up, I advocated the Cavs keeping the No. 1 overall draft pick and letting Andrew Wiggins develop. Always thought trading for Love (Chris Bosh 2.0 in LeBron’s eyes) was dumb. Always.

But they went ahead and did it. And now they’re stuck with a Love that’ll never be the Kevin Love in terms of stats that was in Minneapolis. And they can still win without Love  being a superstar, or a superstat. But tweets such as that alienate him even more. Strange move from King James.

Remote Patrol

All The King’s Men

TCM 8 p.m.

And now I realize what I should have titled the last item (Damn, Walters, you are SO stupid!). I’ve never seen this film that won Best Picture in 1950, but I have read Robert Penn Warren’s novel that is loosely based on Louisiana guvnah Huey Long, and it is definitely one of the top ten novels on my list. So if I’m not out playing pickle ball, I’ll tune in. Really, do you want to watch Heat at Cavs when everyone’s minds are on the approaching All-Star break?



Starting Five

Dietrick, the leading scorer and rebounder on the last undefeated women’s team in the nation, grew up in Wellesley, Mass., just 73 miles northeast of Storrs.

1. Insert Lazy Rocky 3 Soundtrack Reference or Lazier Katy Perry Lyric Reference Here

Last night No. 2 Connecticut (23-1), to no one’s surprise, wiped the court with undefeated and No. 1 South Carolina (22-1 now) in Storrs. It was a 25-point blowout snowplowing, 87-62. UConn’s only loss this season was at Stanford, which has had the Huskies’ number in Maples Pavilion of late.

I write “to no one’s surprise” because ESPN2 had an hour-long Geno Auriemma doc ready to air immediately after the game. I guess they still could have run it after a Huskies loss, but they knew that wasn’t happening.

Anyway, UConn (“Unparalleled Excellence in Women’s Hoops: Now Available in Storrs”) is the best team in women’s college basketball (again). The last undefeated team, though, is Princeton. The 16th-ranked Tigers, 21-0, are third in the nation in Scoring Margin –behind UConn and South Carolina–and earlier this season defeated Michigan by 30 points in Ann Arbor.

Two of the Tigers’ best players are leading scorer Blake Dietrick (15.0 ppg), who also leads in assists, and leading rebounder Annie Tarakchian (8.7 rig). But the gal you may hear the most about during the national news pieces is Leslie Robinson. Why? Her uncle is the President of the United States.

p.s. The last winless team in Division I is UC-Santa Barbara (0-21), which used to be a perennial entrant into the women’s tourney.

2. Run, Forrest, Run

Brannigan (N) has gotten feelers from Duke and Georgetown, among others.

This is Mikey Brannigan, a high school senior from Long Island. Mikey has autism. He also runs a 4:07 mile. Has Tom Rinaldi showed up at his door yet? Brannigan will be competing in the Boys Mile at the Millrose Games in Harlem on Saturday. If you are anywhere near New York City and want to fall in love with attending a live sporting event again, I cannot strongly enough suggest that you make it to the 168th Street Armory on Saturday to watch Brannigan and some of the world’s premier track-and-field athletes compete. You won’t be sorry.

p.s. It occurs to me that Laura Branigan (“Gloria”) also hailed from Long Island, but she only had two “n’s” in her surname. Oh, well.

3. Jimmy Thing

I like Jimmy Fallon, the person.

I like Jimmy Fallon, the musician/performer.

I find most of his show painfully insipid. I get it: I’m not a Millennial. NBC doesn’t care. Anyway….

4. Death By a Thousand White Lies

Allison, dad’s aim is true (we think)

The latest Brian Williams’ tall tale comes courtesy of Red Bank, N.J., (currently known as “Red Hot Red Bank”). Williams claims that in the 1970s, he was selling Christmas trees there and was then robbed at gunpoint.

I grew up in the neighboring town, Middletown, which is also Williams’ hometown. Red Bank is the town in which I attended elementary school. Is it possible that Williams was robbed at gunpoint? Definitely. Red Bank is a relatively big town in the area–it’s no Colt’s Neck. But still, this is just another Williams’ claim, now coming to light, that cannot be proven (at least it cannot be disproven).

It’s very easy to like B-Dub. Everyone at NBC does. I did the one or two times I met him. He definitely has a presence. Still, I don’t think this is going to end well for him.

Interesting to see how Williams’ good friend, Jon Stewart, handled this. He uses some silly word play at first, then gives a Colbert-ian “wag of the finger” to him. But then he finishes with a rebuke for all media that got most of details of Iraq War wrong. But that’s irrelevant here, Jon.

5. Martin-izing

Martin’s performance of “King Tut” was SNL’s watershed moment. After that, the show was a fixture of pop culture.

“Some people have a way with words. Others…not have way.”
That’s from Steve Martin, and it’s one of my all-time favorite lines. While he didn’t use it on Saturday Night Live, Martin has appeared on SNL more times –27–than any non-cast member. And only Alec Baldwin, who’s hosted 16 times, has hosted more than Martin (15).

I’ll try to add a little SNL note every day this week heading up to Saturday night’s 40th Anniversary celebration.

Here’s a nice little montage, too. Love the Norm MacDonald joke about women.

Remote Patrol

Gentleman’s Agreement

TCM 8 p.m.


Kentucky at LSU

ESPN 7 p.m.

Why, I oughta… That was the good thing about suits. You could grab a guy by the lapels a lot more.

You can either watch the 1947 Best Picture winner at the Oscars, starring Gregory Peck, or you can watch Kentucky’s undefeated season go down in flames at LSU. By the way, 21 years ago, I still recall watching it, Rick Pitino took the Wildcats to Baton Rouge and they came all the way back from 31 down in the second half to win. One of the craziest games I’ve ever seen.


Starting Five

He wouldn’t back down

1. He Wouldn’t Back Down

Even the losers get lucky sometimes. Tom Petty was nominated for a Grammy for Best Rock Album last night, but did not win. However, because the song that he co-wrote with ELO’s Jeff Lynne (who performed a couple of ELO classics) sounds so much like Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me,” and because Petty’s peeps reached out to Smith’s peeps about it, he and Lynne will be getting 12.5% of the residuals of the tune in perpetuity.

It’s good to be king.

Smith won four Grammys — Best New Artist, Record of the Year, Song of the Year (I’m here for you, Bastille) and Best Pop Vocal Album. That was last night. Today he’ll be answering questions for his Chicago Bulls mailbag.

2. Wanna Get Away For Awhile?


The Dutch soccer team is actually named the Go Ahead Eagles, but in a match versus vaunted Ajax Amsterdam yesterday, they fell behind in a most ignominious way. Goalkeeper Mickey van der Hart, attempting to clear a kick, simply whiffed. The ball went past him into the goal, Ajax won 2-1, and all of us relived, for a scary moment, playing kickball in second grade.

3. Translaughter?*

Wreck on the Highway

On Saturday in Malibu on the Pacific Coast Highway, Bruce Jenner was involved in a fatal car crash that may have legal implications for him. On a tricky stretch of road –the PCH has no median up here, which I’ve always found odd– a white Lexus in front of the 1976 Olympic decathlon gold medalist stopped abruptly. Jenner, driving a Cadillac SUV and towing a trailer that had an ATV, was unable to stop before slamming into the back of the Lexus, which was driven across the center line and into the oncoming path of–because this is Malibu — a HumVee.

The Lexus driver was dead at the scene.

Jenner passed a field sobriety test and obviously had no intent to cause the accident. And that’s all it was, really. But I couldn’t pass up the headline. Sorry.

*Hey, that’s not funny.

4. He’s Not Here (Anymore)

Smith telling Ford to slow it down. Dean Smith IS Tobacco Road. No more influential coach in ACC history.

The legendary Dean Smith, he of the 879 career victories and two national championships,  passes at the age of 83. I never met him, but as a young and avid hoops player growing up in the 1970s (by far my favorite sport), in the age before the shot clock had arrived in college basketball, watching Smith’s Tar Heel teams run the four corners offense was required viewing.

As glad as I am that basketball now has a shot clock (and here’s hoping the NIT’s 30-second shot clock experiment next month is adopted by all of college hoops and soon), North Carolina’s four corner’s keep away game was a work of art. No one, for my money, ran it better than Phil Ford.

Smith did as much as most any coach to integrate college hoops and, as has been repeated often, remains the only man who could hold Michael Jordan below 20 points per game. A legend, even if the Dean Dome lacks the charm and intimacy of Carmichael Arena.

MJ called Smith the most influential man in his life after his own father.

Hopefully, we can get UNC alums Tim Crothers or Jeff Bradley (both mid-Eighties, both gifted former colleagues of mine at SI) to pen a remembrance later this week.

5. Saul in a Day’s Work

Your defense courtesy of Jimmy McGill. The best $700 the state will ever spend on you.

The much-ballyhooed premiere of Better Call Saul aired on AMC last night, though, where I find myself currently, it did not air until 11 p.m. Did you have the same sitch? Anyway, let’s see if this reminds you of anything: Our hero lives in Albuquerque, drives a beater, has chronic cash-flow problems, is associated with a low-end retail biz, has a relative who may be in position to assist him, decides to recruit a juvenile delinquent (or two) to help him in an illegal money-making scheme, and then winds up in trouble with a gun-wielding  Hispanic.

Yeah, that doesn’t sound familiar to me, either.

Still, the critics are agog. I didn’t hate it. I just didn’t think, as pilots go, it was any Wonder Years. Or even Breaking Bad. The second episode airs tonight on AMC, at 10 p.m. (or 11; I’m not sure).

Remote Patrol

No. 1 South Carolina at No. 2 Connecticut

ESPN2 8 p.m.

The Huskies do battle with a top-ranked SEC East juggernaut, but it ain’t the Lady Vols. Welcome Dawn Staley and her undefeated Game Hens (22-0) to Gampel Pavilion in bucolic and frozen Storrs, where the No. 2 Huskies (22-1) hold court. I don’t know what the Huskies’ record at Gampel under Geno Aureimma is, but his teams lose there about once every four years or so. Breanna Stewart is not as good as, but is the best all-around player I’ve seen since Diana Taurasi. Still, she has recently felt Geno’s wrath, being benched for the final 35 minutes of an 80-34 win against Memphis. “This isn’t a subliminal message I’m sending,” Geno said. “This is very flat-out.”
Never change, sir.




Everybody Loves Raymond, but even more people love Rece. Rock solid anchor who never upstages the analysts

1. Rece is Coming….To Your Ci-TAAAAAY!

For those of us who know that college football is one of the two or three greatest things in life (also up there: furry animals and “The Joshua Tree”), some tectonically huge changes announced in Bristol late last night. Chris Fowler, the patriarch and godfather of ESPN’s College GameDay, a show that has done more to promote the brand than any other studio show for any other sport, is leaving his post so that he won’t have to board a private jet most Saturday afternoons can concentrate solely on the Saturday night telecast.

Rece Davis, long a favorite here (and in other precincts), will abandon College Football Final (the brilliant bookend to ESPN’s 16 or so hours of Saturday coverage) to take Fowler’s place.

Questions: 1) Who will now play the role of judge to Mark May and Dr. Lou, or is Dr. Lou retiring? 2) How long until Fowler’s Sundance, Kirk Herbstreit, realizes Saturdays are better when spent in just one college town and joins his good friend? 3) Isn’t this a little like Genesis realizing that it’s too much for Phil Collins to both sing and play drums, and thus telling one of the best voices of his era to “stick with the drums?”

Fowler: “I don’t want to be in the air tonight, oh, Lord…”

In other words, Fowler is excellent in his role as GameDay host, but he is pedestrian (thus far) as a play-by-play man. I understand what he wants to do –but, hey, I’m sure Seahawk punter Jon Ryan wants to throw more passes, too. The truth is that no one is better on GameDay than Fowler –though Rece will be terrific, surely– but a lot of people are better than he is in the booth right now. Rece may just be one of those people.

It’s a measure of the leverage that the industrious Fowler has at ESPN that he is able to make this happen. The truth is, and I don’t know how many people are willing to say it to him, is that ESPN’s football coverage is not as strong with him out of GameDay and in the main play-by-play chair. It’s still very strong. Simply not as strong.

2. Cadavaliers Awake

Baring injury or meteor, the Cavs will win the East. Without question. That is today’s Hot Take by me.

On January 13 Cleveland lost its sixth straight game, all (update: 5 of the 6) without LeBron James, at Phoenix, 107-100 (as if the score really matters to you; that’s the fact-checker in me coming out), to fall to 19-20 on the season.

I had watched Cleveland lose at Golden State four nights earlier and, even though they fell by 18, tweeted something like, “Cleveland is going to be just fine.” I may also have tweeted, “Just watch, the Patriots are going to win the Super Bowl on a crazy play!”

Anyway, I tweeted that because I could see how the trades (for Mozgov, Smith and Shumpert) were about to make this a very deep, experienced and complete team. Cleveland has since won 12 in a row, and all by A LOT. The Cavaliers are going to win the East. I’m sure of it.

And of the players who have come aboard since Christmas, it’s not even close: Timofey Mozgov is the primary difference-maker in that lineup. He’s the dirty work dude on a team that really didn’t have one after Anderson Varejao went down. Plus, he’s an upgrade from Varejao.

3. Resilience

When you Google Image “resilience” this is what you get. When you Google Image “resiliency,” you get a photo of Bill Walton smacking his forehead with his palm in utter disgust and contempt.

If I watch a basketball game on television, particularly on ESPN, then there’s a good chance that during that broadcast I will hear a commentator –or a player in a post-game interview–use the term “resiliency.”

Merriam-Webster’s defines RESILIENCE as “the ability to become strong, healthy or successful again after something bad happens.”  Merriam-Webster’s defines RESILIENCY as “resilience.”

Do you get what I’m trying to say here?

And maybe it’s just that “resiliency” is 2015 for “overcoming adversity,” but still it is nails-on-a-chalkboard every time I hear it.

4. SI Swimsuit Rookies

Robyn Lawley: This is me criticizing a form of media exploitation while in the process benefiting from the very same means of exploitation, a process known as “Deadspinning.”

Don’t you love how Sports Illustrated is shrewdly turning objectification of the female form into a sport? I’m not talking about the Swimsuit issue, per se. Hey, that’s already in a menopausal state and it’s human nature (or it least masculine nature) and I’ve never had that big a problem with it (“Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly…”).

What I love is how they are trying to inveigle us into thinking of the talent as a sports team. For instance, now they present a “Rookie of the Year,” which they began doing lat year. Why stop there? Let’s get “D-Leaguers” and “Double-D Leaguers.” A “Taxi Squad.” “Most Improved.” “Most Improved without Help of a Surgeon.” “Comeback Player of the Year.” Go all the way with this.

Meanwhile, social media sites are asking if this year’s cover goes “too low?” (No; I mean, you can’t actually see Hannah Davis’ Dolores, now can you?). My answer? No, as long as any of SI‘s editors would allow their own daughter to be placed on the cover striking that pose. It’s curious that Today show placed red ribbon over bottom of the cover on Thursday.

5. “Allison, What is Internet?”

I like Brian Williams. And we’re both from Middletown, N.J. But I don’t think he survives this.

Earlier this week, the entire Brian Williams kerfuffle over helicopters in the invasion of Iraq (2003). Today, a brand new Brian Williams kerfuffle over Hurricane Katrina coverage (2005). As I tweeted a few minutes ago, we’re about 10 minutes away from learning that Allison Williams is not Brian Williams’ daughter. Or that Williams’ real name is Bison Dele.

Speaking of “Allison,” has anyone researched/reported who the “Allison” that Katie Couric refers to in that ad actually is? And did this former (I assume she’s no longer there) Today staffer get any residuals out of that ad? She certainly deserved some.

Remote Patrol



In 1927, the first year of Oscar, The Jazz Singer, the first talkie, did not win Best Picture but instead won “Outstanding Technical Effects”

I’ll be Jesse and you be Beca: “You need a movie education…a moviecation.” This month Turner Classic Movies gives you, “27 Days of Oscar,” in which each nigh you can watch films that were nominated for “Best Picture.” And not ALL of them suck! Really. Besides, what else are you going to do in February? Go outside and play pickle ball?!? Tonight: Wuthering Heights and Gone With the Wind. 

Oh, and if you happen to see that TCM is airing a little doc titled And The Oscar Goes To, I highly recommend that you stop everything and watch. It was on last night and it was delicious.

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Starting Three (for today)

I’m sorry. I just don’t see it.

1. Hannah and Her Sizzlers

Hannah Davis, 24, may be the first SI Swimsuit Issue cover model whose home is a legitimate Swimsuit Issue destination. Davis grew up on St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands and was on “the Virgin Islands National Volleyball team” per Wikipedia. No idea how many young ladies tried out. Of course, she also dates Derek Jeter.

If you’ve seen the full front, you know that this is also the first time the SI Swimsuit cover has featured both an American and a Brazilian on the same cover (while limiting the breastesesses total to two).

2. Nevada is “The Silver State,” After All 

No, he did not appear in “Inside Llewyn Davis,” or “50 First Dates.” You have the wrong Adams.

Not to be outdone by SI‘s cheesecake cover, ESPN the Magazine, which is overseen by former SI staffer Chad Millman, places NBA commissioner Adam Silver on the cover. I’ve not yet read the story, but I’m looking forward to doing so. My old friend Chad, by the way, has been voraciously covering the men who make book since his own book, The Odds, was published in 2002.

I hate to be the killjoy here, but let’s establish a few things: 1) Yes, we know that people are going to wager (a lot! BILLIONS) 2) We understand that if the government oversees it –like marijuana –that not only can you tax it, but there’s a good chance fewer knees will be broken.

That said, if you are the Commissioner of a pro sports league and you come out in support of legalized gambling (which is different, as Silver has clarified before, than saying you are “pro-sports wagering”) only to later experience either a point-shaving scandal involving your players or learning that your own players are wagering on games, do you really have any cause to be outraged or upset? Isn’t this like if Budweiser started selling beer funnels and then got upset about underage drinking deaths?

3. I Weigh Two Bills

Simmons, here with a few boys from Southie, went under the Hoodie for his Retro Running Diary

I knew that I was going to be fascinated by whatever Der Kommissar of Grantland had to say about Super Bowl XLIX. Bill Simmons did not disappoint. Which is not to say I agreed with all he had to say–but, as always, it was very entertaining (“If Al Michaels had called ‘The Red Wedding,’ he’d have said, ‘Catelyn Stark is out with a throat'”). A cursory list of what I loved and what I hated/disagreed with. But if you haven’t already, you should definitely read it: Simmons cannot match this type of passion, his Boston sports passion, with anything else he writes. Possibly, occasionally, the NBA. But when he does have a topic that he is this invested in, he’s gold.

1) “I said, ‘Tom, look me in the eye'”. Simmons referencing the fact that NBC’s Cris Collinsworth mentioned he shined the big lamp on Tom Brady right before one of the biggest plays of the game. “What are you, his ninth-grade principal?” LOVED.

2) Simmons noting that NBC never showed us the “right replay” of the Kam Chancellor hit on Julian Edelman “even though it had 367 cameras there” and that the NFL said Edelman underwent a concussion protocol after that series (and, like, immediately after or on Monday?) LOVED.

3) The Catelyn Stark line, underscoring that Al Michaels just says the body part and not what the actual related injury is. LOVED.

4) “Dontelle” Lockette. Simmons never uses the actual first name of the Seahawk receiver (or of “Dave” Matthews). LOVED.

5) The Marshawn Lynch rant. Listen, I agree with Simmons that it isn’t Lynch’s job to dance for the media, middle-aged white guys or not. However, if it weren’t for the foot soldiers who cover these guys face-to-face, how much more poorly informed would Simmons be about them? It’s like the guy who hates seeing undocumented workers waiting in the Target parking lot but loves the price of his fruit.

Meanwhile, even though he is conjuring a quote from Lynch, for him to say “sports media assholes” and then immediately footnote a link to a Sal Paolantonio interview, one in which he describes his ESPN colleague as “indefensibly abrasive” (Really? Judge for yourself) is like Cowherd going after Patrick. Does Norby just twiddle his thumbs and hope no one else notices?

Between Boston and ESPN, I think we know where Bill’s allegiance lies. HATED.

6) Denoting Seattle’s Michael Bennett as the odds-on favorite to win “Which Player from Super Bowl XLIX is Most Likely to Fail a Postgame PED Test.” LOVED.

7) The shout-out to a hilarious Jeff Cessario bit from Letterman back in the Eighties. Look at Cessario. Listen to the bit. You KNOW what he is thinking today. He’s thinking, Why didn’t I get Jerry Seinfeld’s life? LOVED.

8. Noting that Brady went 8 for 8 on his final TD drive (which is why I put it here). He’s always going to be in the GOAT conversation. LOVED.

9. The Julian Edelman anecdote about his free agency. Wisdom. LOVED.

10. Remembering that Butler made a super defensive play on Jermaine Kearse two plays before THE CATCH. LOVED.

11. His noting that a reader, David in Fort Carson, Colo., noted that had Lynch scored that we would have been treated to “the greatest crotch grab of all time.” I don’t know if I’d have used the word “treated,” but I agree. Couple that with Doug Baldwin’s poop celebration, and the Eisenhower Era is officially over. LOVED.

12. The way Simmons displays his frustration over Belichick not calling timeout as a full 28 seconds or so elapse between the end of first down and the snap of second down. LOVED.

I’d change my name to Julian Entenmann’s and start pitching product

13. Simmons’ entire examination of the “high stakes poker game” between Belichick and Carroll. Belichick knowing Carroll only has one timeout and :32 left. Believing that Carroll will have to pass on at least one down and so he chose not to call time to force Carroll’s hand. Okay, I’m intrigued. I don’t doubt that is possible, but that doesn’t let Carroll off the hook.

Why not? Seattle called timeout with 1:06. You call two plays there, and you allow for the fact that Beast Mode is your best weapon. You impress upon your offense that you want to score, but that if you don’t you’ll be calling timeout again. Then, if Beast Mode hasn’t scored after two run plays and a timeout, you call a pass. If that goes incomplete, you have time for a fourth down. Run or pass. It no longer matters. In other words, Pete wasn’t obligated to call a pass on second down, and with the ball on the 1, he should’ve struck when the iron was hot–and the Pats were, sorry, deflated. INTRIGUED.

14. This…this…THIS…magnificent piece of footage that Simmons found on YouTube. As I’ve said on Twitter, it’s kind of like getting a different angle from Dealey Plaza of the Kennedy assassination. HOW did NBC not have something similar to this? It’s fascinating and I’ll pelt 30 Rock with…with….with…30 rocks if they order this taken down. It’s historical footage. Listen closely, you can hear Butler tell Browner, “I got 37.” HEADOVERHEELSINLOVE.

15. Simmons equating the final minute of XLIX as Belichick’s version of Jordan at the end of Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals. I’m not ready to concede that. As I’ve written on Newsweek, it was brilliant of Belichick to have Butler ready to defend that specific play. But it was more stupid of Seattle not to hand the ball to Beast Mode. And I have Deadspin on my side. DISAGREED.

15. And finally, the fact that Simmons wrote that he was watching the game “at my friend Jimmy’s.” When that friend is Jimmy Kimmel. And when Simmons knows that anyone who knows the answer to “What is internet, Allison?” already is aware of the pic featuring him, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and, inscrutably, Tony Kornheiser. LOVED!


Starting Five

Splashdown coming…

1. Plane Ridiculous

At least 23 people die when a TransAsia flight carrying 58 passengers and crew clips a viaduct, and a taxi (the driver survived), shortly after takeoff in Taipei and plunges into the Keelung River. In a sign of how far our planet has evolved in the past 30 years, Howard Stern did not phone TransAsia to inquire about flights from Taipei to the Keelung River.

2. To Kill a Mock (Yeah!) ing (Yeah!) bird (Yeah!)

“Can you believe that, Scout? Says here Harper Lee is going to write a sequel.”

Guns ‘n Roses had “Chinese Democracy.” Brian Wilson had “Smile.” And now Harper Lee, the author of one of the great works in American fiction, To Kill a Mockingbird, has announced that 55 years after that novel’s publication, she is releasing a sequel.  This news came one day after Rob Gronkowski announced that the last book he read, in 9th grade, was A Mockingbird to Remember. Coincidence? Hell, no.

Like you, I was surprised (“Harper Lee is still alive!?!?“). Lee, 88, actually wrote the sequel, Go Set a Watchman, five or so years before her Pulitzer Prize-winning debut novel, which has sold 40 million copies, or like, as many copies as Taylor Swift’s last 2 albums (I’m totally winging that statistical comparison, by the way). The sequel is set 20 years later with the same main character. Seriously. Scout is all groweds up and Boo Radley keeps popping up and saying, “I’m not a smart man, Jean Louise.”

Meanwhile, James Taylor and Carly Simon have not announced a sequel to this.

The Newsweek had a few things to say about Ms. Lee shortly after her masterpiece made its 1961 debut.

3. Groundhog Dazed

You had it coming

Jimmy the Groundhog bites the mayor of Sun Prairie, Wis., mayor a couple of days ago. I hate to go off on another animal rights jag here, but imagine being a rodent and looking out a crowd of inane humans cheering you on. You have no idea if they’re about to ISIS your ass publicly or if you’re just part of some silly ritual (or both). Animals are extremely intuitive. Some day people, hopefully, will respect how cool it is to simply leave them alone. But I doubt it.

Speaking of getting it right, I’ve always said that Groundhog Day is a film whose theme you could build entire semester-long classes around. It’s fervently profound (this essay says it better than I able to) without actually being linked to a particular religion. A wonderfully funny movie whose “message” hits you before you realize you’re receiving an important life lesson.

4. Mountain Time

As his wife asks, Can you pick up those jeans from the floor, too?

Maybe Prince Oberyn really never did stand a chance.

Hafthor Bjornsson, who plays Gregor Clegane, alias “The Mountain,” in Game of Thrones, won the World’s Strongest Viking competition over the weekend (Fran Tarkenton came in 4th) by carrying a 30-foot long, 1,433-foot pole for five steps. That breaks a 1,000 year-0ld record, we hear, although I’d have been even more flabbergasted had Bjornsson carried a 30-foot long, 1,433-pound Pole. That would be two records.

5. Geno’s 900

Thirty seasons and Geno Auriemma becomes the fastest coach, men’s or women’s Division I hoops, to 900 victories with last night’s yawner (96-36) versus Cincinnati. Yes, that’s an average of 30-plus wins per season. He only has 134 losses.

What I love about Geno, having been privileged to spend a season around him, is what a remarkably normal life he leads. He commutes from a nice home in an unremarkable town in Connecticut, through mostly rural two-lane roads, to campus. During the season he is living in a frigid part of the country, with a very cool wife and three terrific children (now grown).

In most of that, he’s a lot like Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim, a good friend who, like Geno, may wind up No. 2 in D-I wins.  Geno lives well, don’t mistake that: he loves fine wine and every restaurateur in central Connecticut knows him well (as does the manager at the steakateria in NYC). But few see the days when he drives in 10-degree weather to Storrs and leads a practice in an anomalously unpopulated northeast area.

The other thing I love about Geno: no one is better at weeding out the b.s. I loved that after the game he told a reporter, “I’ve got a lot of players saying, ‘You’re welcome.'” He’s right. You don’t do that without outstanding talent. But Geno knows how to draw the talent. And better than that, he knows what to do with them once they show up.

Remote Patrol

Bulls at Rockets

ESPN 8 p.m.

This week, at least, he is not the most renowned Butler in pro sports

Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard can discuss how much they (don’t) miss playing with Kobe between baskets. James Harden can advise Jimmy Butler what it’s like when you’re supposed to be a second (or third) banana and suddenly there are times when you are your team’s best player.


Starting Five

Super Bowl XLIX did NOT have a Bevelled edge

1. 2nd-and-Goal

Let’s begin with a few words on what will go down as one of the most memorable plays in Super Bowl history. My apologies to the Legion of Gloom…but you won’t be getting any sympathy from northern Wisconsin.

2. My Left Shark

Katy Perry enters the Shark Tank

Who was the biggest breakout star of Super Bowl XLIX: Chris Matthews, Malcolm Butler or Left Shark? All were unknown before kickoff in Glendale. As of Sunday night, two were known but it was not until Tuesday (“Voices Carry!”) that Left Shark was revealed to be dancer Bryan Gaw. Right Shark, by the way, is Scott Myrick.

According to the choreographer, the contrast between the meticulous Right Shark and the carefree Left Shark was planned. Meanwhile, Discovery Channel is planning a Left Shark Week for the ratings doldrums of August while SyFy is trying to persuade Ian Ziering to return for Left Sharknado.

3. Workaholics

“I work harder than both of you. Exponentially harder.”

Colin Cowherd works hard.
Dan Patrick works hard.

Okay, sure, as long as we are in the sandbox, we will point out that “Colin started it.” And I’m not exactly sure why Colin started it, but if it’s about the error Patrick made on Sunday night, here’s what I’ll say: Kudos to Dan for owning up to it on his show the following morning, but also if he were a female or someone lower on the network ladder he’d be paying a much dearer price, if nowhere else but the blogosphere, for it.

That said, not sure why Cowherd initiated the feud.

Still, gentlemen…you’re both very talented at what you do. No one looks good here. It’s funny how much attention ESPN will devote to a Richard Sherman versus Patrick Peterson feud, but when a pair of supposedly more mature men engage in similar duck-measuring shenanigans, the lads at ATH, PTI and FT all look away awkwardly.

For the record, Dan Schulman and Dave Pasch work a lot harder than both of you. As does every teacher I’ve ever met.

4. Restward, Ho!

Take a load off, Annie…(or D)

The best female basketball player I’ve ever seen, Diana Taurasi (and BY FAR the best basketball player I’ve ever seen who could not crack a starting five), will be taking next summer off from the WNBA. Why? Because Taurasi, who is now 32, earns far more money playing for her Russian team and they are paying her not to play for the Phoenix Mercury, who by the way won the WNBA championship last September with Taurusi leading them.

So, yes, the Mercury are in retrograde in 2015.

5. Hallelujah!

Leonard Cohen, at around the time he wrote the tune

When you look back and consider all of the amazing music that was released in the 1980s (my high school and college years, so, man, was I lucky), at everything from “When Doves Cry” to “Like A Prayer” to “Sweet Child o’ Mine” to “Wanna Be Startin’ Something” to “Livin’ on a Prayer” to “Alive and Kicking” to “In Your Eyes” to “Big Country” to “Our Lips Are Sealed” to “Fall on Me” to “Under the Milky Way” to “Your Love” to “Devil Inside” to “With or Without You” to “Come on, Eileen” to “Life in a Northern Town” to “Take on Me” to “Dreams” to “You Shook Me All Night Long” to “Don’t Stop Believing” to “Free Fallin'” to–can I stop now?

Anyway, when you think of all those great songs (and trust me, you have not wandered into at Time-Life Classics infomercial), you never think of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”, which came out in the first week of February, 1985. But this is one of the best songs you will ever hear, no? Certainly one of the most unique. It never even made it onto the U.S. charts.

My favorite version, and I’ll admit I’ve only heard a few, is the popular choice: Jeff Buckley’s 6:31 gem. I went on a trip once for work in which I knew nobody –at least at the outset–and I think I listened to that song 40 times in a row that first day just to soothe myself (then I remembered that I was in Fiji on Mark Burnett’s dime and it was like, PARTY ON, WAYNE!).

Anyway, in honor of the song’s 30th anniversary, our Zach Schonfeld and Sean Elder at The Newsweek (“Paul, is it ‘Newsweek’ or ‘The Newsweek?’) compiled a terrific list of the 60 Best Versions of the tune that will make Mr. Cohen immortal. So now I’ll be obliged to listen to it 60 times in a row, each time with a different artist.

Spoiler Alert: Mr. Cohen’s version is not in the Top 5 and Mr. Buckley’s is not their No. 1. You’ll have to click to see who is.