by John Walters

Starting Five



1. NBA Twilight Zone

What was in the NBA water last night? The Cavs, Spurs and Clippers, who entered the night with three of the league’s four best records, each lost to a team that entered the evening with a sub-.500 mark. The Clips lost to Brooklyn by five in OT, the Spurs fell at home to Orlando (no, really) and the Cavs lost by 17 at Milwaukee.

At least we were treated to the signature play of J.R. Smith‘s career, as while he was supposed to be guarding Tony Snell, he recognized Jason Terry (whom he once elbowed flagrantly in a playoff game) seated on the Bucks bench, was probably shocked to learn he was still in the league, and then went over to greet him (so they’ve made up). Ball gets inbounded to J.R.’s open man, who dunks uncontested. How can you not laugh, even if you’re LeBron?

2. “Working on Building/Working on Building/STARS HOLLOW!”

Christian Borle and Sutton Foster. They were actually married outside Miss Patty's stage.

Christian Borle and Sutton Foster. They were actually married outside Miss Patty’s stage.

Olay, sure, Taylor Doose teases Stars Hollow: The Musical early in Episode 3 of the Gilmore Girls revival, but did you really think they were gonna go for it for TEN MINUTES? And then the Palladinos go ahead and hire Christian Borle (currently playing Shakespeare as a rock star in Something Rotten on Broadway) and Sutton Foster to play the leads (“She was Kinky Boots!”). And what about your director, Nat?

Nat: Minimalist director

Nat: Minimalist director

Anyway, it’s nowhere on YouTube, so you’ll just have to go to Netflix and see it for yourself. Note: Borle and Foster used to be married and were HUGE Gilmore Girls fans. They’d watch it together. They were married about eight years but remained friends after. Then Foster got the lead in Bunheads, a show that the Paladins produce, so she was a natural for the role of Violet here. She actually suggested Borle, a two-time Tony Award winner, to play Carl. And now you know the rest of the story.”

3. Ore-Gone

The Ducks never allowed fewer than 26 points in a game this year, even surrendering 28 at home to UC-Davis

The Ducks never allowed fewer than 26 points in a game this year, even surrendering 28 at home to UC-Davis

The Ducks fired coach Mark Helfrich after four seasons. In his first two years in Eugene, the Coos Bay native went 24-4 and led Oregon to the national championship game. In the last two years the Ducks were 9-4 and 4-8 and this season were particularly awful on defense, finishing 125th nationally (out of 128 teams) in Scoring Defense, surrendering 41.4 points per game.

Coos Bay native and secular saint Steve Prefontaine cannot be pleased

Coos Bay native and secular saint Steve Prefontaine would not be pleased

Still, isn’t it anathema at Oregon to fire someone from Coos Bay? Steve Prefontaine is from Coos Bay. Where would Phil Knight and Nike be without Pre (I mean, sure, he’d still be a monster success, but Pre is sort of Knight’s Moses), and where would Oregon be without Knight? I get it: the talent level had declined and Oregon couldn’t stop anyone.

So who’s next in Eugene? Memo to Chip Kelly, currently coaching the San Francisco  1-9’ers (UPDATED: 1-10’ers; I just wanted you to see the joke): Get back. Get back. Get back to where you once belonged.

4. Blue Bloods

Lonzo is a Ball-er. Bruins will be 8-0 when they visit No. 1 Kentucky on Saturday

Lonzo is a Ball-er. Bruins will be 8-0 when they visit No. 1 Kentucky on Saturday

You checked out the early men’s hoops rankings? Of the eight schools that have won at least three national championships, seven are ranked int the top 14. Kentucky (8) is No. 1, North Carolina (5) is No. 3, Kansas (3) is No. 4, Duke (5) is No. 5, UCLA (11) is No. 11, Indiana (5) is No. 14 and Louisville (3) is No. 14.

The only slacker among the eight schools with three or more cut-down-nets is UConn. The Huskies are struggling at 2-4.

The only school in the Top 5 without three national titles is No. 2 Villanova, which is both the defending national champ and the only school from a non-Power 5 conference to cut down the nets (twice, in fact: 2016 and 1985) since 1985 (UPDATE: I forgot UNLV, 1990; apologies to the Runnin’ Rebels and my old friend Paul Gutierrez).

Oh, and I’d be remiss not to mention that the school that has ended the longest winning streak in men’s college hoops history, Notre Dame, is 7-0 after taking Iowa down by 14 last night (and its women’s team is No. 1 with a date against UConn, winners of 79 in a row, a week from tonight).

I guess the lesson here is that in sports, as in America, it’s a lot more of an oligarchy than people would like to believe.

5.  “We’re Going To Dine at Jean Georges—and Mexico’s Going To Pay For It!”

Can't we just have a taco bowl and stay in?

Can’t we just have a taco bowl and stay in?

That’s president-elect Donald Trump and potential Secretary of State Mitt Romney dining in New York City last night. They went to Jean Georges, a three-star Michelin Guid joint located above Columbus Circle. Official reports have the three men (they were joined by Reince Priebus as the designated “Why-don’t-we-change-the-subject?” guy) ordering  “a young garlic soup with thyme and sautéed frog legs, and diver scallops with caramelized cauliflower and caper-raisin emulsion as appetizers.

“Priebus and Trump ordered a prime sirloin with citrus glazed carrots for their main course and Romney ordered lamb chops with a mushroom bolognese sauce. All three of the men had a chocolate cake for dessert.

Remember when conservative pundits killed Obama for ordering mustard with his cheeseburger (Laura Ingraham: “Do these men not have anything better to do?”)? Where are they this morning?

For once, I’m with Mike Pence. Spend about one-tenth the money and enjoy an appetizer sampler and then the burger at TGI Friday’s next time, guys.

Music 101 

So Quiet In Here

What the Beach Boys are to summer, Van Morrison is to autumn. He just fits this time of year. As you look outside at 4:50 p.m. and see darkness, your best bet is some mulled wine (I had some this weekend. Who knew!?! So good!) and Van the Man. This is from his 1990 album Enlightenment, which is highly under appreciated.

Remote Patrol


No. 15 Purdue at No. 14 Louisville

No. 3 North Carolina at No. 13 Indiana

ESPN 7 p.m.

Honestly can’t name a single player on any of these squads. Does Grayson Allen play for one of these schools? No? Okay. Well, I guess this is roll call. Maybe I’ll know a name or two after tonight (Who am I kidding? I’m going to re-watch Gilmore Girls; you do what you like).



by John Walters

Starting Five

Fire On The Mountain

There’s a 500-acre wildfire blazing in eastern Tennessee, near the North Carolina border, in the Great Smoky Mountains. Dollywood is under some threat. It doesn’t help that the southeast is experiencing its worst drought in a more than a decade.

Officials suspect arson, in case you were wondering if we had a candidate for our new daily item, “What The Hell Is Wrong With People?”

2. What The Hell Is Wrong With People?

Okay, so there’s more than one nominee today. An 18 year-old freshman at Ohio State drove his vehicle into a crowd, got out, and then began stabbing people. A Somali immigrant who posted on Facebook that he was “sick and tired” of seeing fellow Muslims “killed and tortured,” the student stabbed 11 people, none fatally, before a campus cop shot him dead.

I have no idea nor do I care, as the cable and network news stations like to report, “if this was terror.” It’s a meaningless construct. Also, I have no idea how this will affect the right-to-knife movement.

3. Twitter: A Weapon of Mass Distraction

This was Donald’s most recent tweet this morning…


I don’t doubt he believes this. I also don’t doubt that he fails to understand the First Amendment. I think a better, fictitious American president, Andrew Shepherd, explained why Donald is wrong on this one (1:35). This was Aaron Sorkin’s first attack, 20 years ago, on Trump, even though at the time he had no idea which vile politician Bob Rumson actually was going to represent (turned out it was Cheney and Trump).

More importantly, from what is the Wizard of Trump Tower trying to distract us? From yet another divisive cabinet selection? And when that tweet inspires an uptick of flag burners, Trump will call them “losers” and create an even more divisive country. Well done.

4. Pahranagat Falls

Spring Mountain, after losing last year's state championship game to Pahranagat

Spring Mountain, after losing last year’s state championship game to Pahranagat

It happened more than a week ago, but the longest win streak in high school football history came to an end in Las Vegas, Nevada. Pahranagat Valley High School, which plays eight-man football, lost to its rival, Spring Mountain, 68-46, in the I-A state championship game. Spring Mountain only led 40-38 entering the final quarter, then broke away for the win.

What makes this rivalry so interesting, as I wrote about last year, is how different both schools are. Pahranagat is a closely knit, isolated Mormon town going back generations. The kids start playing football together in second grade and they run the same system all the way up through high school.

Spring Mountain is equally isolated, but for a different reason: it’s a juvenile detention facility located in the mountains northwest of Las Vegas. Most of the players are only there for one school year and many of them come from broken homes.

Pahranagat is exclusively white. Spring Mountain is almost entirely minorities.

Side note: One week earlier Division III Mount Union’s 112-game regular season win streak was also snapped, by John Carroll University. Mount Union has made it to the D-3 quarterfinals, though, and it faces Alfred (a school, not a butler) this Saturday.

5. No Ordinary Joe (etc).

This, by the way, is the only home uniform the Browns should ever wear

This, by the way, is the only home uniform the Browns should ever wear

Two prodigious NFL streaks to make note of before we get any further into this week:

  1. Cleveland Browns tackle Joe Thomas, a first round pick in 2007, recently played his 10,000th consecutive snap. The former Wisconsin Badger has never missed a snap in his career. What makes this Gehrig-ian feat somewhat tragic is that in nearly 10 seasons, Thomas has never taken a single snap in a playoff game. The Browns, currently 0-12, are 47-109 in his career. Their only winning season came in his rookie year, when they finished 10-6 but missed out on the playoffs due to a tiebreaker (the 10-6 Titans got the last spot). Thomas has lined up with 18 different Browns starting quarterbacks behind him.

    Tucker, a former undrafted free agent, played at the University of Texas

    Tucker, a former undrafted free agent, played at the University of Texas

  2. Kicker Justin “Updog” Tucker of the Baltimore Ravens hit four field goals on Sunday, including three from beyond 50 yards in the first half (the first NFL player to ever do that). Tucker has now connected on 34 consecutive field goals (the league record is 44, by Adam Vinatieri) and has yet to miss a PAT or field goal this season. In the strike shortened 1982 season, Washington Redskins kicker Mark Moseley became the only NFL special teams player to be named league MVP. Moseley made 21 of 22 field goals, at the time a league record for successful percentage.

Music 101

When Will I Be Loved

In 1975 Linda Ronstadt covered this Everly Brothers song, originally released in 1960, and turned it into a No. 2 hit. The only thing keeping it from reaching No. 1 was The Captain & Tenille’s monster hit “Love Will Keep Us Together” (it didn’t). This tune belongs on any compilation hit of 1970s signature tunes or at least on the soundtrack of a Paul Thomas Anderson film.

Remote Patrol

Gilmore Girls


Spoiler alerts aplenty, as I have finished this four-part series: Considering the names of the four episodes, why didn’t Carole King get up and bang out, “Winter, spring, summer or fall/All you got to do is call….” (she wrote it; James Taylor only covered it)? The letter that Emily referred to in that therapy session that was purportedly received on her birthday…they never came back to that. Was that a reference to an old episode that I forgot? How did Rory buzz in and out of London as if she were simply heading to New London, and where was she getting the money to live that entire year (she never had a paying job)? How great were Emily, Paris, Kirk and Michel throughout, and when did Bootsy get so many lines? Why did they give Luke a toupee? Was Mitchell Huntzberger right all along (“You don’t got it”)? You think Jess has been lifting? If you never again see the Life and Death Brigade, do you agree that it will be too soon? Also, finally, I counted the pop culture references: at least 250 in the four episodes.


by John Walters

Starting Five

Castro is dead at 90

Castro is dead at 90

1. Castro Es Muerto

Stepping all over Florence Henderson’s moment in the sun, Cuban dictator Fidel Castro died on Saturday. He was 90. The former guerrilla leader took power on January 8, 1959 (just days after Michael and Fredo Corleone had fled on a plane to Miami) and ruled the island of 11 million with an iron fist as it languished economically via communist policies.

2. Grey Cup Runneth Over

Calgary and Ottawa went into overtime at the 104th Grey Cup, but the Redblacks prevailed when 41 year-old quarterback Henry Burris (Temple grad) hit Ernest Jackson (Buffalo grad) on a post route for an 18-yard TD. Jackson bobbled it three times before securing the ball just as he crossed the goal line. For Ottawa, who finished the regular season 8-9-1 (Calgary was a league best 15-2), it was their first championship since 1976.

Burris completed 35 of 46 passes for 461 yards in the 39-3 win, even though he injured his knee in warmups and it was uncertain if he’d play. The trainer gave him a shot in the locker room just before kickoff to numb the pain. “They gave me some happy pills,” said Burris, a 17-year CFL veteran.

One big difference between the Grey Cup, which had 33,000-plus fans, and the Super Bowl. At game’s end they name a Top Canadian (Ottawa tight end Brad Sinopoli).

3. Raiders of The Lost Art (of Winning)*

Mack (rhymes with

Mack (rhymes with “tackle for loss”) had his first career pick-six on Sunday against Cam Newton

*The judges are cool with “Del Rio Grande”

With Sunday’s 35-32 defeat of the Carolina Panthers, the Silver & Black are 9-2. They’ve clinched their first winning record since 2002 (the year they lost in the Super Bowl to the Bucs) and became the second team this season (besides the Falcons) to defeat both Super Bowl teams from last February.

For years the Oakland Raiders bragged about “Commitment to Excellence” and that no other franchise had as good an all-time won-loss record. And that was true. But now they’re not even Top 10. It’s been a humbling 15 years, but with emerging stars such as QB Derek Carr and LB Khalil Mack, the team that wears the same uniform and plays in the same stadium as it did in its Seventies glory years looks as if it’s headed for a renaissance.

4. Wee Hour Tweeps

USC's Adoree Jackson owned the Irish with a punt return, screen pass and kickoff return, all of which went for TDs and were longer than 50 yards

USC’s Adoree Jackson owned the Irish with a punt return, screen pass and kickoff return, all of which went for TDs and were longer than 50 yards

Donald Trump, who became famous for 3:30 a.m. tweets, has company: embattled Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly. After the Irish lost 45-27 at USC to end their sour season at 4-8, Yahoo! writer Pat Forde filed a story reporting that Kelly’s representatives were looking into other options. This after Kelly had definitively declared in the post-game presser that he’d return next season.



If you’re keeping score at home, both Kelly and Trump tweet around 3:30 a.m. Kelly just finished a week in which all of Notre Dame’s 2012 and 2013 wins (21 in all) were vacated, while Trump is now slightly concerned about a bigger win being vacated.

5. “Bitterly Disappointed”

Friday’s and Saturday’s rivalry games were mostly anti-climactic, or just blowouts, save for one: Michigan at Ohio State, which went into overtime. With the Wolverines up 27-24 in the second overtime, the Buckeyes’ Curtis Samuel escaped a 10-yard loss (that would have put the ball on the 30 on 4th down, putting Urban Meyer in a pickle: try a 47-yard FG with a shaky kicker or go for it on 4th-and-15?) with some nifty reversal of field running to set up a 4th-and-1. On that play QB J.T. Barrett, barely, and I mean BARELY, pushed the ball to the 15-yard line for a first down (he landed at the 16). Like by the length of the pleat of a khaki.

On the next play Samuel ran around left tackle, the Wolverines over pursued, and he went in untouched for the win, the victory, and a highly likely playoff berth (with the added benefit of Ohio State NOT having to play this Saturday in Indianapolis).

It was a lot closer than that, Jim.

It was a lot closer than that, Jim.

The scantest of distances, inches really, and in overtime, separated a probable Michigan berth in the playoff from one for Ohio State. Jim Harbaugh complained in the post-game presser, repeatedly, that he was “bitterly disappointed” in the officiating (UM was flagged seven times; Ohio State, two) but that fourth down was too close to blame on the refs. Besides, Michigan returns to Ann Arbor cognizant that it went 1-2 in games outside the state of Michigan, its lone win being at Rutgers.

p.s. This was the most watched television game of the season, with nearly 13 million viewers, and it kicked off at noon.

Meanwhile, as Penn State waxed Michigan State 38-12, some fun angst is set up. The Nittany Lions, if they beat Wisconsin in the B1G, would be conference champs and own the head-to-head versus Ohio State. Those two factors purportedly matter to the SelCom. But unless U-Dub or Clemson lose, Penn State, with two losses to Ohio State’s one, will almost certainly be on the outside looking in. Then again, playing in the Rose Bowl is a decent consolation prize.


Music 101

Bad Company

Like the band Talk Talk, whose hit single and debut album were also named “Talk Talk,” mid-Seventies British rockers Bad Company put a song on their eponymous debut album that was also eponymous. That’s Paul Rodgers, who also had a decent solo career in the early Eighties, with the searing vocals. Bad Company was managed by Led Zeppelin’s legendary manager, Peter Grant. The song never charted in the USA, though it is a staple of FM radio stations and can be found on juke boxes of reputable domestic dive bars. Also, if you pay close attention, the song uses the same progression as Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock.”

Remote Patrol

Gilmore Girls 


Rory and Lorelai have just been told Luke's only serves decaf

Rory and Lorelai have just been told Luke’s only serves decaf

Emily Gilmore dropping a Llewyn Davis reference. Hep Alien covering Joe Jackson’s “I’m The Man.” Kirk dressed as Eraserhead. Luke giving out bogus WiFi passwords.  A town meeting in which it is pointed out that two episodes does not constitute an arc. It’s too good! I’m only two episodes through the four reunion episodes, but the Palladinos are showing no rust. If you were ever a fan, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how seamless this reunion is nine years after they shipped Rory off on a bus to cover the 2008 election.


by John Walters


“A Lovely Lady”

A fond goodbye to Florence Henderson, a.k.a. Carol Brady, who passed away at the age of 82. In the 1970s Henderson was the ideal mom. Remember, Bobby, the only steps in this house are the ones that lead up to your room.

Born in Dale, Indiana, on Valentine’s Day, 1934, Henderson was one of 10 children. There aren’t enough boxes on my TV screen….

By the way, the show made its debut in 1969, so both Mike and Carol had to be 30s-ish widowers. Unacceptable for either to be divorced. And Carol married an architect who designed a home with just two bedrooms (and one bathroom) for six kids. Smart.

Meanwhile, I never was able to figure out how the exterior of the home fit the inner floor plan. Whose one window was that on the second floor? And why was it to our left when it felt as if the hallway went to the right? Mike Brady, what kind of evil wizard were you?

2. Giving LSU His O-Face

Orgeron, 55, has infused the Tigers with enthusiasm.

Orgeron, 55, has infused the Tigers with enthusiasm.

It was interesting to hear ESPN’s Dave Flemming and Jesse Palmer openly discuss the next LSU head coach last night as interim coach Ed Orgeron led the Tigers to a 54-39 defeat of Texas A&M in College Station. There was a time this season when the Aggies were 6-0 and the Bayou Bengals were 3-2 in that time span.

All Orgeron, a Louisiana native, has done in Baton Rouge is lead the Tigers to a 5-2 record since the late September dismissal of Les Miles. In the two losses, both at home, LSU took No. 1 Alabama to the 4th quarter deadlocked at 0-0 before succumbing 10-0, and then came as close to pay dirt without scoring at the end of the game in a 16-10 loss to Florida. Those are your two SEC Championship Game teams.

Guice, a sophomore, will ease the sting of Leonard Fournette's exodus

Guice, a sophomore, will ease the sting of Leonard Fournette’s exodus

Orgeron was 6-2 at USC as a midseason replacement for Lane Kiffin a few years back and is now 5-2 as LSU’s interim coach. And yet no one wants to let him marry their daughters, even though the daughters appear to love him. Odd.

By the way, Derrius Guice rushed for 285 yards and 4 TDs today.

3. U.S. Steel (X) Was A Steal

U.S. Steel, ticker symbol X, was one of those companies such as General Electric (GE) or International Business Machines (IBM) whose stock your dad owned. But you could have done very well in 2016 by investing like your dad.

In September of 2014 X was as high as $46 per share but by late last January, the company that J.P. Morgan (the industrialist, not the panelist on The Gong Show) co-founded was down to $6.15 per share.

Today? $33 per share. That’s about a 450% rise in 10 months. While CNBC spends day after day obsessing over Twitter and NetFlix and Tesla, here’s a company that’s more than 100 years old that everyone knows that could have made you serious money this year.

The company is based in Pittsburgh, and maybe as an investor you needed to think like a Pirate: “X marks the spot.”

4. China Woes

Some nasty death tolls in China, the world’s most populous country, the past week

Three days ago nasty fog contributed to a 56-car pileup in northeast China that left 17 motorists dead (I’ve been a passenger in a vehicle in the countryside in Beijing and I’m still surprised we all survived).

And earlier this week 74 construction workers at a power plant in southern China died when a platform collapsed.

China still has nearly 1.4 billion people, or four times as many as the USA, in a land mass that is smaller than the  USA (when you include Alaska, which we do because hey, why not?)

5. Is Aretha Franklin Still Singing?

The Queen of Soul performed the national anthem before the Vikings-Lions game in Detroit yesterday, and seems to have been inspired by the ghost of Ray Charles (who was known for taking “America, The Beautiful” out for long walks).  The 74 year-old siren clocked in at 4:35 and at that length, even if you aren’t Colin Kaepernick, you may have felt the need to take a knee.

Simply brilliant. Props to the producer who had this inspiration and to the higher-up who let him or her run with it.


Just wondering, in New Zealand do they celebrate All Blacks Friday?

Music 101

The Life of Riley

After producing iconic New Wave bands such as Echo & The Bunnymen,  Liverpudlian Ian Boudrie created his own pet project, The Lightning Seeds (taken from a misheard Prince lyric). This song, named in honor of Boudrie’s young son, was released in 1992 and was a minor hit in the U.K.


Remote Patrol

No. 19 Boise State at Air Force Academy

CBS Sports Net 3:30 p.m.


Brett “Let ‘er” Rypien (thanks, Boomer)

Why watch? Because the Broncos are looking to put the finishing touches on their 7th one-loss season of the past 15 years. Amazing. And that’s not including a pair of undefeated seasons. It’s yet another year in which the Broncos narrowly missed an undefeated season due to one unfortunate hiccup. And you can LC at the same time (Fox) to watch the Apple Cup , which features one team they beat earlier this year (Wazzu) and another that has their former coach, Chris Petersen (U-Dub).


by John Walters

Happy Thanksgiving!

I wanted to take a few minutes to address a few words written by a friend of mine yesterday, words that in total I won’t reproduce here. Suffice it to say that if you know what I’m talking about, I’m mostly referring to the lead paragraph.

As an alumnus, what mostly caught my eyes were the words “high-minded sanctuary” and “perception….is all there is.” The Notre Dame I attended, and I doubt it has changed all that much, was replete with decent, funny, hard-working kids who took school but not themselves very seriously. In fact, there was no better way to be ostracized in Dillon Hall than to be full of yourself. Self-deprecation equaled survival.

One story: my roommate, a 6’5″ swimmer who probably could have played tight end on the football team if he’d truly wanted to (as a back up), was an outstanding athlete and brilliant in school (he since has acquired a PhD in mechanical engineering). But, during a sophomore SYR (hall dance) he got wildly drunk and threw a bucket-ful of punch at me (I’m sure I deserved it). He was stopped by an R.A. The R.A. asked him his name and room number. My genius roomie gave a false name (“Pete Smith”) but then provided the correct room number.

A half hour later came a knock on our door from the rector and my roomie, real name Jeff, got into a spot of trouble. The point is that for the next two-plus years we referred to him either as “Pete Smith” or “Sh*thead” and he just grinned and took it.

When the upcoming ESPN “Catholics vs. Convicts” doc arrives, you’re going to learn a lot more about another guy from my dorm, Pat Walsh. Pat was a good enough athlete to make the basketball team as a walk-on, but he was also mischievous and entrepeneurial enough to mass produce a line of T-shirts, cobble together enough friends to help him sell them, and pocket about $35,000 (in 1988) in one week.

At the end of that glorious October Saturday, Pat knocked on the door of our wonderful rector, Fr. Joseph Carey (the same guy who’d read Jeff the riot act), and asked if he could stash the money there overnight. “Cares,” as we all called him (a nickname he earned), reluctantly agreed, putting himself in tremendous jeopardy by doing so. But that’s why we loved the guy.

And while all of this was going on, quarterback Tony Rice, who would make the cover of SI three times in a four-month span that season (has anyone other than maybe Michael Jordan had that many SI covers in so short a period?), was living in our dorm amongst us fellow students and just being as funny and approachable and down to earth as any human possibly could be. One of my closest friends to this day was Tony’s R.A. and hey, you wouldn’t go to Tony for help on your Physics lab, but you were always welcome to hang out with him and just shoot the sh*t (he was like a much less crazy Tracy Jordan from “30 Rock”).

A Pat Walsh original: It was always meant as a joke, something that much of the outside world never got.

A Pat Walsh original: It was always meant as a joke, something that much of the outside world never got.

Last March I attended the funeral of the father of a Chicago born-and-bred Notre Dame classmate of mine. His name was John Boler. Now, Mr. Boler did not attend Notre Dame (he graduated from John Carroll, so maybe I’m really as a Notre Dame alum taking credit here that belongs to a John Carroll alum) but he made sure that his children did. And in the last 40 or so years of his life he was as supportive of Notre Dame as anyone you’ll ever meet, mostly because he loved what the university stood for.

You can look it up, but John Boler donated $20 million to Rush University Medical Center (the largest private contribution in the hospital’s history) to help build a new tower. The hospital had saved Mr. Boler’s life twice and his wife’s once and so John Boler asked what he could do to help. And the hospital, which was in the midst of a $300 million fund-raising campaign, requested $20 million. I’ll let John’s son, my good friend Matt, take it from here:

“My dad told the leadership it was a family decision since it was so big and we all went to meet with them together.  At the meeting, my dad told Dr. Larry Goodman, the CEO, that he wanted to help and handed him an envelope.  In front of everyone, Larry opened the envelope and inside were two lottery tickets.  My dad said with any luck they would win and it would pay for the whole thing.

Larry and the leadership looked at each other uncomfortably and laughed awkwardly, clearly unsure about what was happening.

My dad then told them that of course we would make the gift.  Once my dad did that, it was a few weeks before another family made a matching $20 million gift.  They were off and running.  To a man, everyone at Rush will tell you the tower could not have been built if my dad had not made the initial gift.”

The Boler family has probably donated as much (if not more) to Notre Dame and much of it anonymously (yes, I just went Ted Danson on “Curb…”, but I’m outing him; he didn’t out himself). John Boler, by the way, grew up without a father and literally slept in a closet. He was entirely a self-made man. When his son, my friend Matt, celebrated his 50th birthday this summer, a massive affair, he hired a band based on the fact that the band would be giving all the profits from the gig to military veterans. That’s pretty in line with the people I’ve come to know from Notre Dame.

Anyone who works in or covers college football knows Tim Bourret, a good friend of mine and the associate athletic director at Clemson. Tim is a Notre Dame alum who has all the traits of Domers that I love: he’s smart but not arrogant; decent but not pious; helpful and kind but not saccharine; honest and trustworthy and quick to laugh. Tim’s just a good egg. He’s the ideal Notre Dame person and he’s the typical Notre Dame person, too (Note: I’m probably the biggest asshole that Notre Dame has produced, at least in terms of people you may have heard of).

Notre Dame isn’t perfect nor has it ever claimed to be. But it does strive to be good and true to its ideals, inside and outside the football program. Players start out inside the dorms and live amongst their fellow students and many continue to do so all four years (one notable exception was Jimmy Clausen, whom Charlie provided special dispensation for, which is a reason Clausen never quite got Notre Dame…even though he’s seemingly now figured out a way to make that association work for him at NBC).

There is obviously a tension, one that also exists at places such as Stanford and Northwestern, when your student body all finished in the Top 3% of their high school classes academically (probably higher now) and your football team is populated with students who finished in the top 1% of the nation on the gridiron. The average Notre Dame student is as ill-equipped to score a touchdown versus Virginia Tech as one of its football players is to get an “A” in general chemistry.

And so, of course, most do not take general chemistry, but most do the work and most give an honest effort. I don’t know for sure. I’m certain that institutionally, from the adults who run the place, that there is no institutional corruption taking place. There is tremendous pressure to succeed at Notre Dame (and many other schools, yes) and young people succumb to taking short cuts. What I have seen is that when they do, and when Notre Dame finds out about it, they punish them and then welcome them back after they have sat out a semester. From Julius Jones to Everett Golson, both of whom sat out an entire year and then returned (and there are others), this is the case.

Almost always, these players (as well as students who are not athletes) return. They want to be at Notre Dame.

I was a varsity athlete at Notre Dame. I rowed crew. We had 5 a.m. practices. One late winter morning I hit the alarm at 4:4o a.m, as usual, and opened my door in Room 335 in Dillon. Staring back at me was an avalanche of laundry bags (at the time the guys had our laundry done for us, a late vestige of overt sexism). A few friends, paying me back for a prank I had pulled, had spent part of the wee hours going down to the basement and then toting giant sacks of laundry back to the third floor so as to create a mountain, stretching floor to above my door, of laundry sacks. They’d then taken a photo of themselves leaning proudly against their mountain. Somehow I eventually dug myself out. And then I began thinking about payback. That’s how we made it through winter, in that interminable span between the end of autumn and the start of Bookstore Basketball.

Every year John Heisler, the associate athletic director at Notre Dame, puts together a book called “Strong of Heart.” Each edition has profiles of Notre Dame alums or former employees who had some connection to the athletic department. And every year I do one or two profiles of them and am humbled not so much by the accomplishments of the people, but by the strength of their character.

Thom Gatewood. This was back when Notre Dame did not lose to Northwestern. No. 27 is Rick Telander, who would go on to write some of the best Notre Dame-related stories in Sports Illustrated that the mag ever ran.

Thom Gatewood. This was back when Notre Dame did not lose to Northwestern. No. 27 is Rick Telander, who would go on to write some of the best Notre Dame-related stories in Sports Illustrated that the mag ever ran.

This fall I did a profile of Thom Gatewood, the first true African-American superstar at Notre Dame (after Alan Page, but Tom played offense). Tom held the Notre Dame career receptions record for Notre Dame from 1971 until 2006, but he never bragged about it. When Tom was going to be a senior at Notre Dame, he asked a white student in his dorm who was not an athlete to be his roommate. This was in 1971. Not typical. The two men are still close friends to this day.

When Thom was dating his future wife, Susan, he never told her that he had played football. Or that he had played at Notre Dame. Or that he had been an All-American. She had to drag it out of him after a month or so of dating, basically playing 20 Questions with him. Thom, whose dad was a construction worker and mom a homemaker, was a black kid from a tough neighborhood in Baltimore who spent all eight semesters at Notre Dame on the Dean’s List. He was recruited by every major school in the country (O.J. was his host at USC and Bo Schembechler promised him “I’ll change my offense for you”) but he chose Notre Dame because, as he says, “Ara Parseghian didn’t promise me anything.”

These days, still in fantastic shape, Thom gives tennis lessons to the children in the community where he lives, many of them the kids of Asian or Turkish immigrants. None of them know that he was once Joe Theismann’s favorite target, or that he appeared on TV with Bob Hope as an All-American, or that he was recently voted into the College Football Hall of Fame. That’s not Thom’s style.

Anyway, this has been quite the rambling and somewhat incoherent essay (apologies to my Freshman Comp & Lit prof). Suffice it to say that as long as Notre Dame exists and attempts to play big-time football, there will be a certain amount of tension in trying to both uphold the school’s academic and ethical values and, you know, not sucking. Not losing to Duke and Navy in the same season. But those of us who went there, just about every last person, know this: If Notre Dame is even the least bit a great institution, that is because at its core it is a good place. Of this I am certain.



by John Walters

Starting Five

A loaded room

A loaded room

Cool and The Gang

It was a rather august group that gathered at the White House yesterday to receive the Medal of Freedom from President Obama: Michael Jordan (“The guy from Space Jam“), Tom Hanks, Bruce Springsteen, Diana Ross, Robert Redford, Robert DeNiro, Vin Scully, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Lorne Michaels and a very emotional Ellen DeGeneres, who was almost not allowed in when she forgot her proper identification.


I’m wondering how many of these recipients wondered if they were there to attend the turkey pardoning.

2. NCA—What?

The NCAA ordered Notre Dame football to vacate all the wins from its 2012 an 2013 seasons in what is an egregiously excessive punishment for an act committed by a female student trainer. So, yeah, that 12-0 start in 2012 AND Lennay Kekua were both just grand illusions.


As coach Brian Kelly noted, the penalty was discretionary and it was excessive. Notre Dame found out that student Ally Lopshire was doing some dirty deeds, so it instantly self-reported and suspended five key players. And the NCAA still brought down the hammer.

3. Fort Wayne Is A Relevant Basketball Town Again

You remember the Fort Wayne Pistons, who lost the decisive game of the 1955 NBA Finals to the Syracuse Nationals and were accused of throwing it for point-shaving purposes (they committed two turnovers plus a foul in the final :18)? You don’t? Well, they did.

And you know of the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the NBA D-League, who won the 2014 championship with Peyton Siva.

Another chapter in the northeast Indiana town’s history was added last night, as the Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne Mastodons shocked No. 3 Indiana in overtime, 71-69. Don’t you love that they’re the Mastodons?

I love Love LOVE what IUPUFW coach Jon Coffman said after the game. Extremely gracious to appreciate that IU took an in-state road game against a smaller school (Notre Dame used to visit Butler, but they’d lose).

Bloomington is 200 miles south of Fort Wayne, but the Hoosiers had not played there since 1967, when they beat Notre Dame.

SI’s Luke Winn, who cares more about college basketball than most of us do about our pets, had a wonderful tweet (since deleted for reasons we can only guess) about the aftermath. It read: “Finding out that those were paid court-stormers, incited by the media, cheapens Fort Wayne’s upset for me.

4. The Election’s Over, But Cable News Remains Testy

Here’s CNN’s Wolf Blitzer pressing RNC spokesman Sean Spicer about why Donald Trump doesn’t do enough to disavow racists (you can jump to 5:00 mark). It gets, um, spicy…

Here’s Fox News’ Megyn Kelly pressing GOP rep Sean Duffy about Trump potentially flip-flopping “You were the ones saying ‘Lock her up!'” Kelly says.

And here’s CNN’s Brooke Baldwin reprimanding Charles Kaiser for using the N-word on live television. And yeah, I don’t know what he was thinking (by the way, how much does CNN pay Paris Dennard to appear daily? His main attribute seems to be that he’s America’s lone black Trump supporter).

5. “It is a tale. Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.”

Yada yada yada

Yada yada yada

That’s either from Shakespeare’s Macbeth (Act 5, Scene 5) or it’s a review of every ESPN college football selection show. Dig: There are just TOO MANY games taking place this weekend that will not turn out the way the experts expect for anyone to really concern themselves about the College Football Playoff. Besides the obvious ones (Michigan-Ohio State and the Apple Cup), there’s Auburn-Alabama, Minnesota-Wisconsin, Michigan-Penn   State, Bedlam, and even Utah-Colorado and Florida-Florida State. All will potentially impact the playoff and not all will have the results the experts expect. Count on it.

My favorite part of last night’s telecast was when Greg McElroy reminded the set that it’s “not a four-team playoff, it’s a 65-team playoff.” Did you hear that, P.J. Fleck? Western Michigan never had a chance. “Forget it, P.J., it’s Chinatown.

Music 101

Return To Innocence

This 1994 song by the German group Enigma obviously has a lot of international appeal. It hit No. 1 in 10 countries (and No. 4 here) and look how many YouTube views it has: more than 39 million. Meanwhile, the song’s chant was sampled from a pair of aboriginal Taiwanese, known as Amis, who later turned around and sued Enigma. The case was settled out of court but the Amis now are given partial credit on all releases of the song, plus royalties.

Remote Patrol


No. 5 Washington at No. 23 Washington State

FOX 3:30 p.m.

How do you like them apples?

How do you like them apples?

Black Friday football may be my favorite sports day of the year. It’s an extra day of college football acting as an amuse bouche to Saturday’s main course. This is for the Pac-12 North championship and keeps U-Dubs playoff hopes alive, while Wazzu would love to return to the Rose Bowl for the first time since the 2002 season. It’s only the sixth time in the illustrious history of the Apple Cup that both schools have been ranked. Get loose on the Palouse!


by John Walters

Starting Five

A Wolf in cheap clothing?

A Wolf in cheap clothing?

Meet The Press

Yesterday Donald Trump summoned prominent TV news media types such as Lester Holt, David Muir, Wolf Blitzer, (CNN prez) Jeff Zucker, Charlie Rose, Gayle King, Norah  (not Rosie) O’Donnell, George Stephanopoulos (who once worked at the White House), Erin Brunette and Chuck Todd, among others to Trump Tower, a.k.a. White House North. He opened the meeting by telling CNN’s Zucker, “I hate your network, everyone at CNN is a liar, and you should be ashamed.”

The 20-minute meeting went down-escalator from there. As one source at the off-the-record summit told The New York Post, “It was a (bleeping) firing squad.”

(But it wasn’t, though; those are coming next year.)

Trump was supposed to meet with The “Failing” New York Times today, but this morning he called it off. Who needs print media when you have Twitter? (UPDATE: Trump went ahead with the NYT meeting, but it was just early drinks, no dinner.)

I know, I know: I’m part of the “media elite” (I’m just not paid like those guys), so I fail to understand that it’s totally cool for the president to completely attack the First Amendment in the manner he warned Hillary would attack the 2nd (for which there was no evidence, by the way). I want to say that Trump just does not understand that the media does not work for him, but I want to add the warning that a man who now has his power will be able to make life incredibly difficult for news organizations if he so chooses. Who is going to stop him, if he installs all of his own puppets in key positions?

Trump apparently called out NBC News prez Deborah Turness, who is British, for running photos of him that are uncomplimentary. I don't understand that. Dude never takes a bad picture. Sad!

Trump apparently called out NBC News prez Deborah Turness, who is British, for running photos of him that are uncomplimentary. I don’t understand that. Dude never takes a bad picture. Sad!

We’ve already seen powerful GOP’ers such as Paul Ryan and Ted Cruz choose to lick Trump’s Cole Haan’s rather than stand up to him. And this is the ruling party. Time will beg the question: What powerful American leader/politician is going to have the courage to stand up to Trump’s tirades. Because it’s going to get worse before it improves.

2. Spencer For Ire

Donald Trump is not going to get up and stump for nationalism and racism per se. He’ll have a well-dressed bigot like Richard Spencer, speaking here at a forum in D.C. on Saturday, do it for him. And then he’ll look away as these types of hate groups grow.

Here’s part of the Holocaust Museum‘s “review” of Spencer’s speech (this stuff is actually happening):

According to press reports, Richard Spencer, the leader of the National Policy Institute – a white nationalist think tank – that sponsored the conference, made several direct and indirect references to Jews and other minorities, often alluding to Nazism. He spoke in German to quote Nazi propaganda and refer to the mainstream media. He implied that the media was protecting Jewish interests and said, “One wonders if these people are people at all?” He said that America belongs to white people. His statement that white people face a choice of “conquer or die” closely echoes Adolf Hitler’s view of Jews and that history is a racial struggle for survival. 

….The Holocaust did not begin with killing; it began with words.

I wonder how all of this is going to fly with Jared Kushner, who is Jewish.

3. Mexican Carr Tell

Derek Carr: Holla! and Hola!

Derek Carr: Holla! and Hola!

In the first NFL regular-season game played in Mexico, Oakland Raider QB Derek Carr rallied the Plata Y Negro to a 27-20 win over the Houston Texans. You have to figure the fans in Mexico City were rooting against the Texans, eh? Carr threw a pair of fourth quarter touchdown passes, a 75-yarder to Jamize Olawale and the game-winning 35-yarder to Amari Cooper, as the Raiders rallied from a seven-point fourth-quarter deficit at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City.

The stadium is located at 7,382 feet elevation, which I imagine makes it the highest-altitude NFL game ever staged. Meanwhile, that Sean McDonough-Jon Gruden in-booth chemistry needs a ton of work. This is a one-and-done deal, no?

4. The I-5 Killer

Wood field played wide receiver at Portland State University

Wood field played wide receiver at Portland State University

Hot off the CMS platform: Jon Wertheim‘s story on about Randall Woodfield, the I-5 Killer who was also in 1974 a 17th round pick of the Green Bay Packers (yes, they had a 17th round back then). I have not yet read it, but I’m always enthused to read anything Wertheim dives into.

This story originally appeared as a Lifetime TV movie based on a book by crime author Ann Rule. Woodfield, still incarcerated in Oregon, was convicted of killing three women along lonely stretches of I-5 between northern California up through Washington, but he may have killed as many as 44.

5. “Aided By a 52-0 Run…..”

Guard Katelynn Flaherty scored 17 points during the 52-0 run

Guard Katelynn Flaherty scored 17 points during the 52-0 run

Last Friday night unranked Michigan hosted similarly unranked Howard in a women’s basketball game. The Howards (what’s their mascot name? Oh, Bison) went up 6-0 and apparently that woke up the Wolverines, who then scored the game’s next 52 points.

Michigan went on to win 109-41.

Music 101

The Sun Always Shines on TV

This was a-ha’s follow-up single to the monster No. 1 hit “Take On Me” from the summer of 1985. It was releasees in November and I’ve always associated it with colder weather and shorter days (despite the title). This song from the Norwegian group did not do as well in the U.S. but it did hit No. 1 in the U.K.

Remote Patrol

Blue Velvet

10 p.m. TMC

A David Lynch film starring Kyle McClachlan, Laura Dern, a haunting Isabella Rossellini, and a sadistic Dennis Hopper. He’s basically playing a malevolent version of his Shooter character from Hoosiers. This was a major cult hit back in the day, whenever exactly the day was.


by John Walters

The Starting Five

Tiernan denied Cheserek an unprecedented fourth consecutive NCAA X-Country title

Tiernan denied Cheserek an unprecedented fourth consecutive NCAA X-Country title

1. The King Is Dead

Running geek news: On Saturday in Terre Haute, Ind., Oregon’s Edward Cheserek, a.k.a. “The King,” took aim at becoming the first man in NCAA history to win four consecutive NCAA cross-country national championships. No one had ever even won three  non-consecutively except for legends Gerry Lindgren, Steve Prefontaine and Henry Rono.

Cheserek entered the race the prohibitive favorite, as he owns 13 national championships in x-country, indoor and outdoor track (the record is 15).But Villanova senior Patrick Tiernan, an Aussie who finished 2nd last year, dropped the King at the 8K mark. Tiernan broke the tape in the 10-K race in 29:22, five seconds ahead of Justyn Knight of Syracuse. Cheserek finished a distant third in 29:48.

“I wasn’t coming in second again,” said a resolute Tiernan afterward. “I was going to get my way today.”

Rule No. 37: Something can’t happen; until it does.

2. Character Is Who You Are When No One Is Looking (Even If You Are The Most Watched Person in a 100,000-seat Stadium in A Televised Game)

Is this Prescott's first Gatorade ad?

Is this Prescott’s first Gatorade ad?

If you have not seen the brief video of Dallas Cowboy rookie quarterback Dak Prescott failing to complete a sideline throw and then correcting his error, watch it here. The Cowboys beat Baltimore for their 9th consecutive win on Sunday, but this moment will last as the game’s highlight.

I remember watching George W. Bush appear on Letterman while he was running for president (the first time, I think). During a commercial break—I believe Dave aired the moment later to show us—Bush reached over and clutched the end of a female producer’s long sweater and, without asking her, used the garment to clean his glasses. I never forgot that. It said so much more than any words could.

3. The Hamilton Nontroversy

The vice president-elect, Mike Pence, attends a Broadway show, Hamilton, in which the main character is killed in a duel by the nation’s third vice president, Aaron Burr, for not apologizing for an insult. At the show’s conclusion, as the cast stands onstage having taken a final bow, the actor who played Burr (Brandon Victor Dixon) reads a brief statement directed toward Pence and his new boss about respecting diversity.

Unusual? Yeah. Petulant and disrespectful? You can see that, though it was Dixon who admonished the audience not to boo and, given the material, was respectful as possible. Pence handled the entire episode well but his boss, having no concept of irony, demanded an apology via Twitter.


President-elect Trump was also none too pleased about Saturday Night Live’s cold open, demanding “equal time” in a tweet (Is he just going to spend four years reviewing late-night TV shows and the theater?). Afterward, Alec Baldwin had a few words for the 45th president (how did we all argue before Twitter?).


By the way, Bobby Moynihan messed up his line in that skit, saying he was from “Virginia” when he should have said, “West Virginia.” Also, immediately after Kristen Wiig’s monologue (which must have created one or two sleepless nights for the people in wardrobe), SNL did a faux commercial skewering liberals, “The Bubble.” So, sorry Donald, not completely one-sided.

4. Yale Daily Nudes

It was bun day in Cambridge

It was bun day in Cambridge

(UPDATE: Our lede should have read, “Yale ended one streak and its fans looked poised to start another….” MH regrets the error.)

For the first time in ten years, Yale defeated Harvard in The Big Game on Saturday. The Elis (3-7) also denied the Crimson (7-3) their fourth consecutive Ivy League title as QB Kurt Rawlings threw for two scores and ran for 74 yards in Cambridge. A few Yale undergrads were so moved by the team’s play and the 60-plus degree temperatures that they got naked (it’s about half that temperature today), and then got kicked out. It’s not exactly the old women’s rowing team stripping down for a Title IX protest, but you know….

If only Rory Gilmore were still on the case, this would make a front-page story in the Yale Daily News.

5. There’s No Palace Like Home*

Claire Foy and Matt Smith sparkle as the royal couple

Claire Foy and Matt Smith sparkle as the royal couple

*The judges will also accept “Games Of Throne” and “The Not-Thomas Crown Affair”

Looking for a little royal intrigue before the gang from Westeros returns? May I suggest Crown on NetFlix, a series based on Queen Elizabeth the 2nd’s rise to the crown in post-World War II England. Just watching the sets, and wondering where they filmed the scenes, is half the fun.

That’s Jared Harris (a.k.a. Lane Pryce from Mad Men) as her “pa pa,” King George VI, and the always excellent Jon Lithgow as Sir Winston Churchill II. It’s terrific: there’s palace intrigue (Princess Margaret, you hussy!), a prodigal son and a terrific love story between QE2 and Prince Phillip. MH recommends….

Music 101

Bits & Pieces

This is a gem at 1:59 by The Dave Clark Five (lead vocals and drums by Mike Smith here, who wrote the song). It was released in February of 1964, just as the Beatles were arriving in the U.S. for the first time, and yet it hit No. 2 in the U.K. an No. 4 in the States. One month earlier their song “Glad All Over” had knocked “I Want To Hold Your Hand” from No. 1 on the U.K. charts.  One month later, in March, they would become the second band in the British Invasion, after the Fab Four, to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show (which they did for consecutive weeks that March).

Remote Patrol

Marathon: The Patriots Day Bombing

HBO 8 p.m.

This documentary explores not just the horrible 2013 bombing that claimed three lives and injured hundreds, but also the aftermath as amputees and others attempt to pick up their lives.


by John Walters

The Starting Five

The blue awnings to the left? Tiffany's. Next to that, Trump Tower. Parked in front? Six dump trucks to absorb any potential blasts. Good times.

The blue awnings to the left? Tiffany’s. Next to that, Trump Tower. Parked in front? Six dump trucks to absorb any potential blasts. Good times.

Taking The Fifth

It seems that Donald J. Trump is ready to be the 45th president of the United States, but he may not be ready to leave New York City. Donald is conducting all of his extreme vetting of potential staffers and cabinet members from Trump Tower, which is just south of 57th Street on Fifth Avenue, which if you’ve never been to New York City, is a prit-tee, prit-tee, prit-tee essential piece of real estate. And busy.

Statue commemorating the spot of Washington's inauguration, across from the NYSE

Statue commemorating the spot of Washington’s inauguration, across from the NYSE

Are we going to have four years of this? Trump has already indicated a desire to return to Trump Tower on weekends, as if the White House is just boarding school. How did we get from the Twin Towers to Trump Tower in just 15 years? Worth noting: George Washington was sworn in as our first POTUS in lower Manhattan, in a building catty corner to the New York Stock Exchange. Is Trump bringing it all back home?

Caught the above video for the first time yesterday. The comedian is Anthony Atamanuik. Check out the look on the mug of the dude at the 1:19 mark.

2. K.P. Duty

The Knickerbockers defeated the Piston 105-102 behind a career-high 35 points from 7’3″ Latvian Kristaps Porzingis, who is 21 years old. That’s an encouraging sign for a franchise that has experienced just three winning seasons in the past 15 years. On the other hand….


(Downtown Josh Brown is someone you should follow, if you’re not already)

3. Faster Than The Human Race

Have to admit, it was refreshing to see some deer run down a human for once. I hope the deer’s grill is okay. The runner who failed to “Watch out for the deer!” was Justin DeLuzio, a senior at Gwynedd Mercy College who was taking part in his last cross country race. Deluzio, competing in an NCAA D-II Mideast regional in Center Valley, Pa., got up and finished the race.

4. Death in the City

Comunale was 26

Comunale was 26

The story of the death of 26 year-old Joseph Comunale is not uncommon. Something like this happens in New York City at least once a year it seems. Doesn’t make it any less grisly.

Here’s what we know: Comunale, a 26 year-old Hofstra grad who lived in Stamford, Conn., takes the Metro North into the city (about 80 minutes) with some friends to attend a party. Someone knows someone. Good-looking guy, extroverted, Comunale makes some new friends, ditches his friends, and goes clubbing. Is last seen entering an upscale apartment building on 59th and 1st just after sunrise with two other men and three women.

James Rackover, right, and his pop. The son is a primary person of interest in the murder.

James Rackover, right, and his pop. The son is a primary person of interest in the murder.

That’s the last anyone sees him alive. On Wednesday morning his body is found in a shallow grave off a dirt road in Oceanport, N.J., about 35 miles south as the crow flies. Apparently one of the two men had led cops there. He’d been stabbed to death and the body burned to some degree.

Meanwhile, the man who owned the apartment, James Rackover, the son of a wealthy jeweler, at some point on Sunday allegedly asked one of the security people in the building how long they keep surveillance video before getting rid of it. Not smart, dude. Not smart.

Man, if Law & Order were still airing fresh episodes….

(UPDATE: The older man above is Jeffery Rackover. He’s a longtime friend of Donald Trump’s and sold him the engagement ring he gave to Melania. So it’ll be interesting if he puts in a call to the Don for a favor).

5. 76…er


6’3″ sophomore Katie Lou Samuelson is hoping to help UConn break its own record streak of 90 straight wins. Tonight is its sternest test until Dec. 7, at No. 1 Notre Dame

Don’t usually do items on programming, but how strange that No. 2 Baylor at No. 3 UConn, the latter of whom is sporting a 76-game win streak, can be found nowhere on national television tonight (ESPN is going with Louisville at Houston in football, which makes sense, and Pitt at SMU in men’s basketball, which doesn’t.).

To break its own record of 90 consecutive wins, UConn will need to beat No. 2 Baylor (tonight), No. 8 Texas (Dec. 4), at No. 1 Notre Dame (Dec. 7), No. 7 Ohio State (Dec. 19) and at No. 6 Maryland (Dec. 29). That doesn’t even include a contest with No. 20 DePaul and this weekend’s game at LSU, which won’t be simple. That’s five Top 10 and six Top 20 teams between now and the record. Not an easy stretch.

Meanwhile the 2-9 Philadelphia 76ers, who need to go back 4-plus seasons to compile a total of 76 victories, are on TNT tonight at the T-Wolves (second night of a back-to-back for the Sixers; take Minnesota and give the points if you are a wagering man).

ESPN has no control over the Sixer game, I know, but I’m trying to understand why Baylor at UConn from Gampel Pavilion is not on TV. Krulewitz, you have any answers?


What Makes America Great Again?

Earlier today on CBS This Morning Jon Stewart appeared and spewed more wisdom that you’ll hear out of Donald, Rudy or KellyAnne for the next four (make it less, please) years. One of the things he said that stuck with me, “Nobody ever asked Donald Trump what makes America great.”

I think I did in one of my 5,000 Trump-related tweets, but I’m too lazy to find it. But you do know, that VERY question from the Northwestern coed (Is “coed” not acceptable? Forgive me) was the launch pad of The Newsroom. Very prescient, Mr. Sorkin.

Word Up


adj. obedient to an excessive or servile degree (from the Latin sequor, “to follow”)

The obsequious Howard Stern fan phoned into the cable news channel to say, “Bababooey.”

Music 101

That’s Entertainment

Unless you grew up in the U.K. and are at least 45, you may not know who The Jam are. Punk contemporaries of The Clash, this trio from Surrey scored 18 consecutive Top 40 singles in Great Britain between 1977 and 1982 and as you can see, they would morph into New Wave or even beat music. That darker-haired singer is Paul Weller, who would later go on to form the Style Council, an ’80s New Wave band. This 1980 song is the only song by The Jam to make Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (No. 306). You’ve probably also heard “Town Called Malice” without realizing it was by The Jam (or maybe I’m just talking about myself).

Remote Patrol

No. 5 Louisville at Houston

ESPN 8 p.m.

It may be time to sculpt a new bust for the Heisman

It may be time to sculpt a new bust for the Heisman

The Cards are dealing with the WakeyLeaks scandal of earlier this week (Who cheats to beat Wake Forest?) but they find themselves at the 8-2 Cougars making one last plea to the Selection Committee. Louisville’s lone loss was by 6 at Clemson on October 1, as they were stopped just a few yards short of pay dirt (yard marker guy didn’t seem all that interested in laying orange stripe down, by the way). Michigan or Ohio State is still going to lose, so Lamar Jackson and his posse (wait, can I say that?) are going to have win out and then prolly hope that whoever wins the B1G championship game isn’t as appealing to the SelCom (they’re not to me). It would have helped if Houston had only lost to Navy.


by John Walters

Starting Five

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump: Washington's real power couple

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump: Washington’s real power couple

The Purge

Great story, and I don’t know why I never heard this before this week: In 2004 a New Jersey billionaire real estate tycoon was arrested on tax evasion, witness tampering and illegal use of campaign funds. This same tycoon hired a prostitute to seduce his own brother-in-law, which she did, then sent the sex tape to her husband (his sister!) to keep her from being a witness against him in a civil interfamily suit.

Again, the year was 2004 and The Sopranos was in full bloom: this guy was just acting like Tony in real life.

Charles Kushner's story was so sordid that it later became the basis for a Law & Order episode

Charles Kushner’s story was so sordid that it later became the basis for a Law & Order episode

Eventually, the tycoon goes to trail and federal prosecutor Chris Christie has him put away for a year. Here we should note that the tycoon was a major contributor to Democratic governor Jim McGreevey, who would resign in August of 2004 after announcing that he’d had an extramarital affair with a man. So here comes the future governor of New Jersey, a Republican, putting the screws to one of McGreevey’s major supporters.

Oh, and during the trial, though it wasn’t actually relevant, Christie made sure that the public knew about the ugly in-law hooker incident.

Christie: Cue, once again, the

Christie: Cue, once again, the “Curb Your Enthusiasm” theme

That tycoon’s name is Charles Kushner. His son, who was 23 at the time of his arrest, is Jared Kushner. Over the weekend and on Monday, Chris Christie was dropped as the head of Donald Trump’s transition team and three men who are close to Christie and were thought to be shoo-ins for cabinet positions in the Trump White House—Mike Rogers, Rich Bagger and William Palatucci—either walked away or were told they were no longer welcome in what one source called “a Stalinesque purge.”

Jared Kushner has a long memory, and his father-in-law’s ear.

Meanwhile, in case you were wondering if we’re headed down a path, you should know that in 2007 Charles Kushner, a lawyer who was disbarred after this mess, bought a property not far from Trump Tower for $1.8 billion. Its address: 666 Fifth Avenue.

2. Romo Void

All class from Tony Romo yesterday—How ’bout that Cowboy!—in defusing a potentially volatile QB controversy in Dallas. Let the words speak for themselves:

One thing to consider: Romo still has that fire a burnin’ and he still wants to play. He’s going to be the backup on what is the best team in the NFL after having been the face of the team for more than a decade (13 years). He’ll ride out this rodeo, may even collect a Super Bowl ring, but don’t believe he’ll be watching from the sideline again next year. Romo, who will be 37 next season, has the best 4th-quarter passer rating of any NFL QB since 2006.

My favorite quote from Romo’s statement: “Something I’ve learned from this process as well. I feel like we all have two battles, or two enemies, going on: One with the man across from you, the second is with the man inside of you. I think once you control the one inside of you, the one across from you really doesn’t matter.

3. State of The Union

The game featured three lead changes in the final 6 minutes

The game featured three lead changes in the final 6 minutes

Before last Saturday’s 31-28 loss at John Carroll, Division III Mount Union had not lost a regular-season contest since 2005. The defeat snapped an NCAA-record 112-game win streak and means that the Purple Raiders will need to play a true road playoff game this weekend—at Hobart—for the first time since 1996.

1996 was also the year in which John Carroll won their second of 12 national championships. To win their 13th, and return to the Stagg Bowl, they’ll likely have to play nothing but road games from here on out.

4. “B-1-G! B-1-G!”

At 111 yards per game, Saquon Barkley is the Big Ten's leading rusher

At 111 yards per game, Saquon Barkley is the Big Ten’s leading rusher

Four of the top eight teams in the country, according to the Playoff Selection Committee, reside in the Big Ten (and No. 15 USC would beat at least three of them). It’s way too early to worry about this (I can totally see Penn State losing to Michigan State), but you’ve got Ohio State and Michigan at Nos. 2 and 3, respectively, though if the Nittany Lions (No. 8) win out and the Buckeyes beat the Wolverines, neither OSU or UM would even advance to the B1G Championship Game.

The Buckeyes have beaten four different teams, three of which were conference foes, by at least 58 points

The Buckeyes have beaten four different teams, three of which were conference foes, by at least 58 points

Which is where it gets sticky. Assuming no upsets the final two weeks (a major assumption, by the way) and a Buckeye home win against the Khaki Kids, you’d have No. 7 Wisconsin versus No. 8 in the B1G title game. And would the winner of that game advance INSTEAD of Ohio State or in addition to Ohio State.

That’s the fun argument this week. Also, a reminder, that if Michigan wins out, with backup QB John O’Korn, it will render all this moot. My guess? Something unforeseen will happen to render all of this pearl-clutching unnecessary.

5. Whiplash Dinner

Finally saw Whiplash this weekend, and for all of the intense drumming scenes, as well as the martinet cruelty of Fletcher (J.K. Simmons, who deservedly won an Oscar), this dinner scene will stay with me longest. It’s something right out of Good Will Hunting. Crisp, fast, and funny. It’s like a tennis volley in which both players slowly approach the net and then it’s just quick back-and-forth, except that it’s four on one. Great stuff, if you’ve never seen it.

Word Up


noun, “A member of a communist apparat, or political organization.” (has a derogatory connotation, or at least it did before a week ago)

Music 101

Burning Down The House

The title comes from a Parliament-Funkadelic audience chant—Talking Heads drummer Chris Frantz had recently seen them play live at Madison Square Garden. The song and video were ubiquitous ( <–future “Word Up” term) in the summer of 1983, which was Peak MTV.  David Byrne & Co’s highest charting song, it reached No. 9 on the charts.

Remote Patrol

The Endless Summer

TCM 8 p.m.

I saw this for the first time last winter, and it is a classic. This is the surfing doc on which all future travelogues were built. Remember that it’s late 1963 and early 1964. When these two surfers left the USA, John F. Kennedy was still president. And then they traveled to west Africa, South Africa, Australia and the Polynesian Islands. This was almost like going to the moon back then, which no one had yet done.