by John Walters

Happy New Year, all! Okay, let’s be real:
Just, “New Year!” 2017 is the reason the “May you live in interesting times” salutation began. Anyway, we’ll be here to document it for you at the same low, low price.

Starting Five

Sophomore Samuelson out of Orange County is Geno's next super duper star

Sophomore Samuelson out of Orange County is Geno’s next super duper star

UCant (Beat UConn)

Work, work, work. Top-ranked Connecticut defeats No. 4 Maryland, 87-81, in College Park, for its 87th consecutive victory. All five Husky starters scored in double figures, led by POY candidate Katie Lou Samuelson’s 23 points. UConn led by 15 entering the fourth quarters.

Geno Auriemma’s stone-cold killers have now taken down the No. 2, No. 3, No. 4, and four other teams ranked between Nos. 12 and 15, and it’s not even New Year’s Day yet. Good luck to anyone who hopes to come between the Huskies and 100 straight.

Do sports fans appreciate how astounding this is?

2. John Boy Walton, Pete Rose, The Cast of Star Wars and Mummenschanz Walk Into A Talk Show

If you’re someone who was lucky enough to grow up (or at least remember) the Seventies, you remember The Mike Douglas Show. It was an afternoon talk show that had been taped locally in Philadelphia for years but by the time this episode aired, in 1977, had moved  to Los Angeles. Douglas was the most genial of hosts, a good guy and a good singer who never embarrassed his guests.

Anyway, I found this lineup yesterday. Richard Thomas is the co-host (Mike would have stars rotate as his co-hosts for a week) and the guests are Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Pete Rose, Tom Seaver and….. (again, if you were around in the Seventies, you’d remember this name) the mime group Mummenschanz. This episode needs to be preserved in the national archives.

3.  A Stupid Day in Charlotte

For Whom The Belk Tolls

This is why tight ends don't run bootlegs

This is why tight ends don’t run bootlegs

First we learn that Arkansas senior tight end Jeremy Sprinkle (33 catches, four TDs) was suspended from the Belk Bowl for allegedly attempting to shoplift from a Belk department store. Sprinkle was at the Belk outlet as part of a function in which each player from both Arkansas and Virginia Tech was given a $450 gift card to use at Belk (but they can’t pay them, you see), but Sprinkle reportedly tried to walk out with more than that amount.

The Razorbacks jumped out to a 24-0 halftime lead on the Hokies but then lost, 35-24.

Speaking of thinking something is over before it isn’t, here’s Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker getting his Swaggy P on…

4. Something Wild (and Blue Jacket)

Dubnyk is the NHL's stingiest goalie

Dubnyk is the NHL’s stingiest goalie

I know, I know, I know…We’re not supposed to pay attention to hockey until A) April or B) a black man discovers it on TV and starts sending hilariously filthy tweets about it, but the Minnesota Wild (23-8-4) have won 12 straight hockey matches procedurals fixtures games. Even better, the Columbus Blue Jackets (25-5-4) have won 14 in a row. Even better than that, the Blue Jackets visit the Wild on Saturday night (Will this tear some of the Columbus TV audience away from Clemson-Ohio State? Nope).

Not surprisingly, Minnesota’s and Columbus’ tenders of the net, Devan Dubnyk and Sergei Bobrovsky, are Nos. 1 and 2 in Goals Against Average, respectively, in the NHL.

The 1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins won 17 in a row, which is the NHL record and very well within reach for whoever wins on Saturday.

5. Jokes and Java (Cont.)

MH’s favorite web series, Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee, premieres next Thursday.  Jerry Seinfeld finally landed the comic with whom I most wanted to see him drive around in search of  a cup of joe, Norm MacDonald. Other guests for Season 9 include Lewis Black, Cedric the Entertainer, Bob Einstein (a.k.a. Super Dave Osborne, a.k.a. Marty Funkhausser), Kristen Wiig and everyone’s favorite-least-favorite faux Nazi, Christoph Waltz  (who hopefully will only order a glass of milk and perhaps some strudel).

Next Thursday is a pretty big Seinfeld day, as he’ll also be playing the Beacon Theater a few blocks down from MH intergalactic headquarters.

Music 101

I’ve Been Waiting

Matthew Sweet broke in the early Nineties, when a spoonful of competent but not particularly dangerous bands (read: Gin Blossoms, Dave Matthews Band, Counting Crows, Hootie) were struggling to break out of the shadow cast by the edgier acts (Nirvana, Weezer, Pearl Jam, Beck, etc.). Sweet’s only crime was writing straight-ahead, sincere rock songs that the good kids who are afraid to ask the girls to dance listen to. Love this song. That’s my problem.

Remote Patrol

Orange Bowl

Michigan (10-2) vs. Florida State (9-3)

Jim Harbaugh: Always smiling

Jim Harbaugh: Always smiling

Finally, a bowl game we’d anxiously anticipate if it had been a regular-season game. Two teams that were sexy picks to make the playoff in August who stumbled just enough to leave them shy, but in Jabrill Peppers and Dalvin Cook we have legit NFL Top 15 picks (if not higher) and Heisman runners-up. Plus, you have Captain Khaki in south Florida and two legit perennial programs. A nice amuse bouche before tomorrow’s semis.




by John Walters

Starting Five

Brooks made the game-winner over the outstretched arrm of Lonzo Ball, who could be the No. 1 overall pick next June.

Brooks made the game-winner over the outstretched arrm of Lonzo Ball, who could be the No. 1 overall pick next June.

Brooks, Brother*

*The judges will grudgingly accept “A Knight To Remember” or “Duck, Bill (Walton)

Just like you drew it up on your outdoor court, Dillon Brooks takes a short pass and buries the game-winner with less than one second remaining in Eugene. The Ducks take down unbeaten (13-0), No. 2 UCLA Deep in the Woods. And Bill Walton, who was on the court in South Bend when the Bruins’ 88-game win streak fell in 1974, was seated courtside. What a long, strange trip it’s been.

Notes: 1) Duck frosh Payton Pritchard’s three with :15 to play was huge, even though he did appear to walk before taking the shot, That made it 87-86, UCLA 2) Bryce Alford, the coach’s son, is an 87% free throw shooter but missed the front end of the one-and-one (his only free throw of the night), with :08 to play, which gave Brooks the chance to go for the jugular, 3) Kudos to “The Conference of Champions” for moving away from its Thursday-Saturday formula to put this game on this night, and over Christmas break on ESPN. It felt bigly.

2. Reynolds R.I.P.

What the hell? One day after the death of Carrie Fisher, 60, her famous actress mom Debbie Reynolds, 84, passes. People are going to say that she passed from grief, and perhaps she did, but you have to wonder if there will be an autopsy and whether it was prescription drug-assisted grief. And would that even be revealed.

Regardless, both mother and daughter were the female leads in films that A) are in the American Film Institute‘s Top 12 (Singin’ in the Rain, which was released in 1952, ranks No. 5, while Star Wars, released 25 years later, comes in at No. 12.) B) starred two men and one woman (Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor, and Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill.

3. Bowl Binge

Justin Jackson ran for 224 yards and three scores in Northwestern's Pinstripe Bowl win at Yankee Stadium and afterward said,

Justin Jackson ran for 224 yards and three scores in Northwestern’s Pinstripe Bowl win at Yankee Stadium and afterward said, “Like, Derek Jeter peed in that urinal.”

If you’ve ever dined at a Texas Roadhouse, then you understand that America’s real motto is “Too Much Is Not Enough” (great food, I just needed my stomach pumped afterward). And so it is with bowls. Here is the total of bowls by decade in the past 50 years:

1966: 9

1976: 12

1986: 18

1996: 18

2006: 32

2016: 40, not including the national championship game.

Do I have a problem with teams playing postseason games primarily as ESPN programming? It’s not anywhere near the top of my list of Major Beefs (as opposed to the president-elect’s sons killing animals in the name of charity) (and the Major Beef Bowl, sponsored by Del Frisco’s will probably be a thing next year), but here’s the thing: to play in a “bowl” for the longest time implied that the team participating had earned something most others had not, that it had had a special season. It was like being an honor student.


Now, if 80 of 128 teams play in bowls, that means that more than half the FBS teams are bowl teams. Anything that more than half of an entire group can attain is by definition not special or elite. It is the norm. So if your alma mater or favorite school plays a game in a half-empty stadium between December 17 and say, today, there’s no crime in that. And football being what it is, it’s impossible to play in a game and not care—you don’t sleepwalk through football games or you can be killed.

But let’s not pretend that winning a bowl game, for 75% of them nowadays, is anything special. It’s simply ESPN programming. And if you say, “Well, it’s special to the team that won,” well, bless their little hearts. Putting a “My Child is an Honor Student at Greenwood Elementary” bumper sticker on your car doesn’t mean much if he or she regularly gets B’s and C’s. And the kids who get straight A’s, their parents don’t need that bumper sticker for validation.

4. His Cup Run Ith Over

Where would we be without Flip Cup and Beer Pong, as a society?

Where would we be without Flip Cup and Beer Pong, as a society?

Celebrity deaths are not the only ends that need to be mourned. Robert Huselman, the man who invented the Red Solo Cup (above), passed away on December 21 at the age of 84 in Scottsdale, Arizona. I can think of a few ways to celebrate his life.

5. Beach Bums*

*The judges will also accept any headline with the word “Rubbish”

Today in People Suck new: Revelers at Sydney’s Coogee Beach left behind 16 tons of garbage after Christmas day partying. Keep in mind that Christmas Down Under is sort of like the 4th of July here, in terms of time of year. I wonder how many Red Solo Cups were in that trash heap.

Music 101

Welcome to the Black Parade

This was an audacious attempt from a young band out of the wilderness in New Jersey, but the autumn 2006 release from My Chemical Romance went to No. 1 in the UK that autumn. The band called it quits in 2013.

Remote Patrol

Cool Hand Luke

8 p.m. TCM

Peak Paul Newman here in 1967, as an inmate on a southern prison farm who refuses to be broken.


by John Walters

Starting Five

Fisher was just 19 years old when they began filming Star Wars

Fisher was just 19 years old when they began filming Star Wars

R.I.P., Carrie Fisher

To my parents’ generation, she was Debbie Reynolds‘ daughter. To mine, she was Princess Leia in the Star Wars films (as well as the pushy friend in When Harry Met Sally). Carrie Fisher, who suffered a heart attack on a flight from London to Los Angeles over the weekend, dies at the age of 60.

Honestly, if you told me I’d be writing about London, a person with a royal prefix and a death this week, that wasn’t the person I’d have thought we’d be talking about.

2. Fevered Pitch

The Blues are way out in front in the Premier League with just over half the season done

The Blues are way out in front in the Premier League with just over half the season remaining

On Boxing Day in London, Chelsea defeated Bournemouth for its 12th consecutive Premier League victory. The Blues have a record of 15-2-1 (one draw) and can tie the Arsenal’s league record for most consecutive wins (14) if they at Stoke on New Year’s Even and take down Tottenham at home, White Hart Lane, on January 4. The latter will provide stiff competition.

3. Housing Bubbles: Silicon Valley, Brooklyn

We're approaching point where you'll have to be a millionaire to be able to afford to live on the street from Do The Right Thing (

We’re approaching point where you’ll have to be a millionaire to be able to afford to live on the street from Do The Right Thing (“Go back to Boston!”)

Last night Friend of the Blog Amelia Boone, who works as an attorney for a Brobdingnagian Silicon Valley company sent out a tweet about housing prices in her area.


And that led us to thinking: What if just one megalithic tech corporation moved out of the Silicon Valley (with its perfect climate, proximity to San Francisco and the Wine Country, etc.) and relocated to say, Sioux Falls, South Dakota? Sure, housing prices in South Dakota would climb, but the early arrivals would get so much more bang for their buck. Look at this home I found in Sioux Falls for the same price that they were asking at the Sunnyvale abode in Amelia’s tweet:

About the only place in America with more exaggerated housing prices than Silicon Valley? You got it: Brooklyn.

4. Stock Tip: NVDA

We weren’t paying much attention to Santa Clara-based tech company Nvidia all year, mostly because we couldn’t spell it correctly and also because it makes parts for gamers’ games, and we’re not gamers. So we missed out (mostly; but Susie B. did not).

Last February 9 the stock hit a low for the past year of $24.80 . This morning in pre-market trading it’s at $119.10. So we’re just a few dollars away from a 400% jump in less than 11 months, which is good cheddar if you can get it. The stock shows no signs of slowing down (it’s up $30 per share, from $90, in just the past fortnight) as takeover rumors begin to swirl.

Buy it? I dunno. But if you know gamers, they’re not about to find a new hobby, such as going outside to play, any time soon.

5. Bowls Gone Wild

The Golden Gophers had two fewer practices and were missing four defensive starters, and still held Wazzu to a pair of field goals for 59 minutes and 41 seconds

The Golden Gophers had two fewer practices and were missing four defensive starters, and still held Wazzu to a pair of field goals for 59 minutes and 41 seconds

Three of Tuesday’s four bowl favorites flat out lost (Temple, Wazzu, Boise State) and the fourth, Army, failed to cover (Cadets, 10-point favorites, beat puking North Texas, 38-31). Kids, don’t bet bowl games, but if you’re gonna, take the ‘dogs. Always. Please. There were no three schools in the pre-NYE games that seemed more of a lock than the three that lost yesterday. There’s no predicting this.

Music 101

I’m Your Man

George Michael was a part of at least 10 Number 1 hits in the U.S. or the U.K., which is remarkable. This was Wham!’s third chart-topper, written and produced by Michael, and it was not featured on any album. It was just a one-off. Six months after this song was released in 1985, Wham! split. It was simply a matter of one man being far too talented to remain as part of a duo with a guitar player with a cute face. Don’t you love the relentless up-tempo beat and Michael’s relentless confidence on this song?

Remote Patrol

No. 2 UCLA at No. 21 Oregon

ESPN2 9 p.m.

Ball, with ball

Ball, with ball

The Bruins are 13-0 and freshman Lonzo Ball is one of the two or three most exciting players in the country (he’ll look so good in a Suns uniform next year). The Ducks were SI’s sexy Final Four pick in the preseason, but they lost two in November, to Baylor and Georgetown. Matthew Knight Arena is not an easy place to win on the road. We’ve got the Ducks ending the Bruins’ run….I mean, it’s not as if they’re going to win the next 75 in a row, is it?


by John Walters

Starting Five

The man who performed 'Last Christmas' passes away on Christmas at age 53

The man who performed ‘Last Christmas’ passes away on Christmas at age 53

Bye, George

George Michael always reminded me a little of Freddie Mercury. Both were master showmen, outstanding performers with powerful voices and incredible vocal range. Both Brits, but from a non-WASP heritage. Mercury’s family was Persian, Michael’s was Greek. Both gay or bisexual, though that was kept quiet in the beginning. Both died too early: Mercury of AIDS at age 45, Michael from heart failure at 53.

Both created songs that were incredibly diverse, though often comparable to one of the other’s: “Faith” is a stripped-down acoustic guitar ditty, like “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.” “Freedom” build to a fantastic climax, not unlike “Under Pressure.” “I Want Your Sex’ is an overt come-on, just like “Body Language.”

Michael got his Freddie on at a Freddie Mercury tribute show in 

Michael owed a lot of his early fame to MTV, and the visual aspect of his art (especially on “Faith” and “I Want Your Sex”) occluded for a time what an incredible artist he was. But he was terrific. “Freedom! 90” is my favorite video of the MTV era, by the way.

And in hi slater years, Michael didn’t mind taking the piss out of his image. He had a wonderful self-mocking cameo in the series finale of Extras and an appearance with James Corden’s old Smithy character a few years back was the genesis of “Carpool Karaoke.”

2. Kyrie Irving Traveled

Watch it for yourself. Slow it down. Blatant travel. Great shot, though.

Okay, it’s only a December game, and Golden State blew a 13-point lead—it was 95-82 with just over eight minutes to play when the Dubs seemed to get a defensive rebound but then someone tipped it out of Durant’s hand and then threw a pass to a wide open Kevin Love for a dunk under the basket and suddenly the Cavs were alive—and sure, the Cavs made a great comeback, but on the go-ahead bucket with 3.4 seconds to play, Kyrie Irving traveled.

They don’t care about traveling any more in the NBA.

The Cavs have now beaten the Dubs four in a row.

3. Fibula Frustration

Mariota and Carr suffered broken fibulas within hours of one another

Mariota and Carr suffered broken fibulas within hours of one another

On Christmas eve, quarterbacks Marcus Mariota of the Tennessee Titans and Derek Carr of the Oakland Raiders suffer broken fibulas and will be out for the remainder of the season. For the Titans, that’s just one more game, but for the Raiders, who are 12-3 and headed to their first postseason since 2002, this is devastating. Unless you happen to be a big Matt McGloin fan.

As ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported (we don’t refer to him as “Schefty” here), Carr becomes the first NFL QB since the playoffs began in 1933 to start 12 games for a playoff-bound team and NOT start in their playoff game. Bummer for the Silver & Black. We were looking forward to watching the Raiders return to Foxboro in January 15 years after the Tuck Rule moment.

4. Tis Better To Give Than Recieve

Maybe someone who will soon be relocating to another city and moving into a home that only has two stories needs autocorrect:


Not only does the president-elect misspell “receive,” but the facts of this tweet are highly dubious (because Trump won’t release his tax returns). It is known that the most Trump ever gave to his own foundation in one year is $35,000 and it is also known that he used it as his own private piggy bank on a number of occasions. How much anyone who needed charity ever got from it is not known.

Con man in the White House who will soon probably get you’re/your or there/their/they’re wrong on Twitter.

5. Exit The Diaco

The University of Connecticut fires Bob Diaco on Boxing Day after three seasons and 11 wins. The Huskies went from 2-10 to 6-7 to this year, 3-9. The funny part is that I wonder if Brian Kelly would have offered his first D.C. his old job back if Diaco had been canned two weeks earlier. Instead, Notre Dame hired Steve Mike Elko as its D.C.

I assume Diaco took the news well, then hopped into his car and headed west, solo, in search of that waitress from Wisconsin. Later, he’ll make a pit stop in Oklahoma, get beaten up, give away his Cadillac, then continue onto California where he’ll have a moment of catharsis on a cliff above the Pacific.

When The Diaco realizes he's getting a $3.47 million buyout, or nearly $300 per victory over three years.

When The Diaco realizes he’s getting a $3.47 million buyout, or nearly $300 per victory over three years.

Honestly, though, it’s way past time for northeastern schools to form their own conference (and to tell the ACC and B1G to screw themeselves). Here are your 12 newly minted Big East Schools:

Fuggedaboutit Division

Syracuse, Boston College, UConn, UMass, Army, Rutgers

Up Yours Division

Penn State, Maryland, Temple, Navy, Pittsburgh, Buffalo

This would be terrific. And I don’t care about Jim Delany’s TV footprint. People in the northeast would enjoy this football for its own sake. The renewed rivalries would be fantastic.

Music 101


If HBO’s Vinyl had continued to Season 2, we might have learned about The Modern Lovers, a real band out of Massachusetts that modeled itself after The Velvet Underground and is largely responsible for the “protopunk” movement. You didn’t hear their songs on AM radio in the mid-Seventies, but bands such as The Ramones and The Sex Pistols knew who they were. That’s Jonathan Richman, who still performs solo today, on vocals. This song came out in 1972.

Remote Patrol

Kennedy Center Honors

CBS 9 p.m.

The Eagles, Al Pacino and James Taylor are honored

Frontline: Exodus

PBS 9 p.m.

This is the best television journalism around today. Tonight’s report is on Syrian refugees in Europe and the troubles on both sides of the story.


by John Walters

Maddow demonstrating how she can karate chop her way out of a pile of GOP bullsh*t

Maddow demonstrating how she can karate chop her way out of a pile of GOP bullsh*t

Kellyanne Trolls

How glad am I that I decided to check out Rachel Maddow’s show last night and visiting, for the entire hour, was Kellyanne Conway. These are two exceedingly bright and tough women, one of whom works for the forces of good and the other, alas, not so much. You should definitely watch this entire interview.

Early on, this is an exchange:

Maddow: “[Trump’s] saying we’re going to expand our nuclear capability.”

Conway: “He’s not necessarily saying that.”

Maddow: “He did, he did literally say ‘We need to expand our nuclear capability.'”

Later in the interview, Maddow, who’s as sharp as any political commentator on TV, missed an easy layup. After rightly pressing Conway on Trump’s proliferation of lies about Martha Radditz and only getting Conway to concede that if there’s an apology coming from the Trump camp, it may not be public, the topic moved to Melania Trump’s $150 MILLION lawsuit against an unknown blogger (not this unknown blogger, though I do hope that’s coming in the future).  When Maddow asked Conway whey the First Lady to-be is pursuing that suit and Conway replied that she deserves a public accounting of the blasphemy directed at her, Maddow missed the opportunity to go for the kill and ask why Trump wasn’t affording Radditz the same courtesy. She missed on that one, and she’s likely kicking herself this morning about it.

Watch the video. It’ll be fun to talk about in a year or so when we’re huddled in our underground bunkers with no internet.

2.  A Good Gig?

Would you play the inaugural ball if you were an A-list act? Reportedly, the following acts have flat-out said, “No” to requests by Team Trump to perform at the inauguration: Celine Dion, Elton John, David Foster, Ice-T, Andrea Bocelli and the Dixie Chicks.

Seems like Donny is upset because no one famous wants to attend or work his party:


Comedian Patton Oswalt wrote a short Facebook post last night suggesting A-Listers should accept Trump’s offer and then populate their acts with minorities, LGBT’s, etc. That they should use the platform to advance more progressive issues.

I respectfully disagree. Nothing will speak louder, at least on this night, than the entertainment community standing together as one and shunning Trump and his ideals. Besides, men like Trump and his cronies are used to having coloreds and spics work their galas. That doesn’t mean they view those people as anything close to equals; even if you’re Elton John, who’s gay, you’re just the help.

Don’t play Sun City during apartheid, and don’t play Trump’s inaugural. It’s a similar crusade.

3. Damn, It Feels Good To Be a Gangsta…On NBC

Rodney Harrison looking at Costas like,

Rodney Harrison looking at Costas like, “Don’t even…”

What is Bob Costas doing here? This was last night at Lincoln Financial Field before the Giants-Eagles game. True gangsta Rodney Harrison—Did you ever see him hit people in the NFL?—called out Costas on the hat and then got a little more personal (psst, Rodney: I’m not sure if the biters are real, but you could’ve called him out on the dye job and the surgical work around the eyes)

4. There Are Still Wonderful People in the World

Dr. Margolis is a Jewish man with a deep belief in goodwill toward men. As we approach Christmas Day, I wonder where we have seen that before....

Dr. Margolis is a Jewish man with a deep belief in goodwill toward men. As we approach Christmas Day, I wonder where we have seen that before….

This is Dr. David Margolis, a pediatric oncologist in Milwaukee. He noticed that Nordstrom’s was selling a rock in a leather pouch for $85, so two weeks ago he decided to start collecting rocks and selling them for the same price with the idea that all of the money would go toward charitable works at the Milwaukee Children’s Hospital. He’s already sold more than 700 stones and here’s the really good news: The folks at Nordstrom’s heard about it and kicked in $50,000 in matching gifts. In just a fortnight’s time Margolis has raised more than $100,000 for research, art and music therapy, and other needed items to make the lives of children suffering from cancer better. If you want to help, hit this link.

As Dr. Margolis told me earlier this morning, “What I love about this time of year is that everyone is thinking about other people first. Why it can’t be like that 24/7, 365 is an entirely different conversation.”

5. The Italian Job



Police in Milan stopped a Tunisian man just after 3 a.m. local time and asked for his papers—just like in those old World War II films. The man replied by pulling a pistol from his bag and firing at them. One officer was wounded but in the exchange they killed Anis Amri, the Berlin truck massacre suspect.

It’s not as sexy as ordering up a nuclear arsenal, but good old-fashioned police work eliminated the suspect less than 96  hours after the crime. No costly trial. No years of incarcerations. Finis. Salut!

Music 101

Closer To The Heart

And the men who hold high places/Must be the ones who start/To mold a new reality/Closer to the heart, closer to the heart….” Good luck with that, Geddy. Did you see whom we just elected president? This is a classic Rush song from 1977, off the A Farewell To Kings album.

Remote Patrol

Shakespeare Live!

PBS 9 p.m.

On the 400th anniversary of The Bard’s death, the Royal Shakespeare Company performs a greatest-hits package of his work from Stratford-Upon-Avon.  Performers include Judi Dench, Benedict Cumberbatch, John Lithgow, Helen Mirren (it’s suddenly hot in here) and Ian McKellen. Get yourself cultured up! You can live without watching Troy vs. Ohio in the Dollar General Bowl.


by John Walters

The Starting Five

You call it tripping, Dookies say Allen was just trying to get a leg up....

You call it tripping, Dookies say Allen was just trying to get a leg up….


In a game against Elon, Duke junior Grayson Allen learns that three times is when you finally cross Coach K’s “Grayson-Trips ‘Em Line. He will be, much like his victims were, suspended indefinitely.

2. Kentucky Woman

To be fair, I don’t like people cutting in line, either. And I’m not sure how this all started…but look where these people are. On line with Christmas gifts. You know, Christmas? That Jesus guy? Peace on Earth. Good will toward men. Love thy neighbor as thyself yada yada yada….

Should I be the one to inform Kentucky women that the Plymouth Colony would never have lasted if the Pilgrims hadn’t accepted welfare benefits (i.e., food and clothing) from the dark-skinned indigenous people? Nah.

3. Panda’ing For Clicks

Panda V. Snowman is so much more entertaining than Batman v Superman was. Courtesy of the Toronto Zoo. This happened Tuesday. Can we volunteer to build snowmen at our local zoo?

4. Drain Mansplain The Swamp

Trump thug Corey Lewandowski, who is opening a “pro-Trump political consulting agency” just a block or so from the White House, on Fox & Fiends this morning: “If you had to put them in a chronological order, drain the swamp is probably somewhere down at the bottom.”

Trump ogre/beneficiary/adulterer Newt Gingrich: “I’m told he now just disclaims that,” Gingrich told NPR’s “Morning Edition” on Wednesday. “He now says it was cute, but he doesn’t want to use it anymore.”

To Trump’s, um, credit, he is disavowing the disavowers:


I”m not sure who is IN the swamp, though. Because Trump’s cabinet picks thus far have been the typical gaggle of billionaires and white establishment figures. Is there a difference between the Swamp and Rand Paul’s swimming pool?

5. Is Same Old Lang Syne a Christmas Song?

I had this debate with my friends yesterday following this compelling story in The New York Times. I argued that it’s a Christmas song the way “Pride (In The Name of Love)” is an April 4th song. But I’m willing to listen to the other side of the argument? Your thoughts? Read to the end, please. There’s some interesting Paul Harvey-type sh*t going on with what happened to Fogelberg, who died too early of prostate cancer, and the other character in the song (thanks, Dan, for the heads up).

Music 101

Father Christmas

I’m not sure if any Christmas song rocks harder than this 1977 effort by The Kinks.

Remote Patrol

Spurs at Clippers

TNT 10:30 p.m.

The NBA's best under-the-superstar-radar player: Jamal Crawford

The NBA’s best under-the-superstar-radar player: Jamal Crawford

As you’re wrapping presents, tune in to watch two of the top four teams in the West tangle at Staples. Their first-round playoff series in 2015 was a classic, if you recall.


by John Walters

Starting Five

1. En Fuegos

At a fireworks market 25 miles north of Mexico City, in the town of Tultepec, an explosion set off a chain reaction that resulted in the deaths of 29 people. More than 70 others were injured. It sort of feels like, ‘Another Day, Another Disastrophe’ right now, or as John Lennon sang almost 50 years ago, “I read the news today, oh boy…”

2. Mark Walhberg’s Blue-Collar, America-First Trilogy

Last night I saw a trailer for Patriots Day with the tagline “The movie that American needs now.” Why? Are we under attack? From whom? Pharmaceutical companies? Unregulated investment banks?

The Boston Marathon bombing was a heinous act of random violence committed by, as the  brothers’ own uncle described them, “Losers.” It was not the latest round of The Crusades; it was more Fight Club taken into reality.

In the last, what, two years, Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg have teamed up to make three America First! films: Lone Survivor, which is about a village that is set upon by foreign invaders and chooses to defend itself (when you look at it that way…); Deepwater Horizon, about a gigantic oil company that destroys a pristine sea due to industrial negligence and yet somehow the audience is manipulated into caring about the welfare of a few strangers; and now Patriot’s Day, which is how the city of Boston heroically responded to a pair of misguided cretins who murdered a few innocent people and maimed others.

Unlike in The Perfect Storm, Wahlberg finds himself out in the sea in Deepwater Horizon and survives

Unlike in The Perfect Storm, Wahlberg finds himself out in the sea in Deepwater Horizon and survives

You don’t make three films, all based on actual events, this similar in this short a period of time on accident. You make them because A) you’re a true patriot with all the 21st century trappings with which that comes B) you notice a giant tide of nationalism and want to cash in on that at the box office or C) both of the above.

Wahlberg is, of course, a Boston native and often a fine actor (Boogie Nights, The Departed). Lately, though, he’s been playing the same guy in every movie. I miss the dude who quipped, “I’m the guy who’s doing his job; you must be the other guy.”

3. Yes? Yes! And ELO and Journey, Too!

The 2017 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame class was announced yesterday. Pearl Jam gets in the first year they were eligible (I’ll be the contrarian and note that they’ve put out two great albums and haven’t truly been relevant in almost 20 years, even though I love them, too). Tupac Shakur becomes the first solo rapper inducted (you know he’ll come back for this) and Joan Baez wins the “You mean she wasn’t inducted 20 years ago?” award.

Then there’s three bands that kids my age heard on the radio over and over and over again and either loved or loved to hate, but me, I’m glad they’re all finally getting their due: Yes, Journey and the Electric Light Orchestra. I had a few insights on that for the

4. Ill Will Hunting

Have I mentioned that I hope Donald Trump, Jr., meets the same fate as this water buffalo?

Have I mentioned that I hope Donald Trump, Jr., meets the same fate as this water buffalo?

Just seven days ago, on December 14, Donald Trump’s two sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, along with two other men, created a non-profit in which donors can get access to themselves and their dad for “charity.” There’s no mention as to what the charity is, but among the items up for bid is a “multi-day hunting trip” with the Trump scions that goes for $500,000. I’m all up for launching a GoFundMe to send Dick Cheney hunting with those two. Or you can send me. Maybe we’ll go after The Most Dangerous Game.

5. Who’s Phil Taylor?

You may not have heard his name yet (unless, like me, you are thinking of a former SI NBA writer and a great guy), but Phil Taylor is 25 years old, the god son of Allen Iverson, and leads all NCAA players, male and female, in scoring with a ridiculous 37.8 ppg scoring average at Division II Shorter University, located about 90 minutes northwest of Atlanta.

Taylor, who originally signed with FIU to play for Isaiah Thomas, left the game for three years before finding his way back at Shorter. Now a senior, he opened the season with a 19-point game, but has since had a 62-point game on Nov. 28 and a 52-point effort last Saturday.

Taylor is 5’10.” And yes, it says “SHORTER” on the front of his jersey. That’s cold.


White power. You can’t say that Bill O’Reilly didn’t literally spell it out for us.

Music 101

Go Now

If you’re paying attention, this is the second song with this title we’ve run this month (and I know you’re paying attention, Susie B.). The first one was released 52 years ago by the Moody Blues, and this one came out late last winter from Adam Levine. It’s the song that closes out the movie Sing Street, which is the teen movie that was common in the Eighties but just is all too rare these days. If you haven’t seen it, pssst!—Netflix.

Remote Patrol

Poinsettia Bowl

BYU vs. Wyoming

ESPN 9 p.m.

Linebacker Logan Wilson was the MWC Freshman of the Year

Linebacker Logan Wilson was the MWC Freshman of the Year

Quick. without looking at a map, Is Laramie east or west of Provo? If you live in the Mountain Time Zone, that’s easy. Consider this my annual kvetch asking how come San Diego gets two bowls in a joyless stadium built alongside a freeway in a ravine while the Los Angeles Coliseum gets none? I’ll never understand it.

Note: BYU fans are probably upset they’re not in the Las Vegas Bowl, but their fans always travel well. I’m hoping the Cowboys fans show up, too. This is only their second eight-win season since 1998.



by John Walters

Starting Five

“Filmed Before A Live Studio Audience”*

*The judges will also accept “Bowl-Oriented”

The paid attendance for Monday’s Miami Beach Bowl was announced as 15,262. If you say so, Norby. I guess Christian McCaffrey isn’t the only one who does not want to participate in a bowl this season. Oh yeah, Tulsa crushed Central Michigan, 55-10.

There are 42 bowl games this season. They’ve already played seven. Did you realize that? I did not realize that. Fifty years ago there were nine bowls: Orange, Rose, Sugar, Cotton, Sun, Liberty, Gator, Bluebonnet and Tangerine. Nine. Neither of the top two teams in the country that season, Notre Dame and Michigan, played in a bowl. The Fighting Irish did not because they had a policy dating back to the mid-Twenties that they would not, while the Spartans didn’t because the Big Ten had a policy that you could not repeat in the Rose Bowl (Can you imagine the nuclear takes such a policy would draw today? Still, it was better than being sent to fight the Vietcong, no?).

Besides, the only game from 1966 that anyone remembers is the one that Notre Dame and Michigan State played against one another…that ended in a tie. NO!

2. Cold-Blooded

One shooter captures another

One shooter captures another

Merriam-Webster chose its word of the year yesterday and that word was “surreal,” and if 2016 didn’t already have a surfeit of evidence, yesterday’s assassination of Andrei Karlov, the Russian ambassador to Turkey in Ankara provided more proof. As bizarre and tragic as all of it was, imagine being a photographer who has just witnessed a murder, the gunmen is still armed, and you are taking photos of the scene with little regard for your own welfare.

Karlov, and behind him, his 22 year-old killer

Karlov, and behind him, his 22 year-old killer

At the time of the attack, Turkey’s foreign minister was on a flight to Moscow to discuss Syria. Turkey backs the rebels while Russia backs Assad. That should be a tense meeting.

3. Mayhem in Berlin

Another European incident involving a truck used as a weapon of mass destruction. This time 12 people were killed at a Christmas bazaar in a touristy part of Berlin. These are the tactics of Islamic jihadis, though no one has yet claimed responsibility. Sick world we live in.

4. More Like a Landfill


In addition to that tweet from November 27, Donald Trump’s team sent out a press release after yesterday’s official Electoral College vote (which my colleague Alexander Nazaryan notes is “a classic safety school”) reaffirming that he won the election in a landslide.

He did win the election. The rest of it is false.

Trump captured 304 electoral votes. In 2012 Barack Obama captured 332 electoral votes. In 2008 Barry from Kenya captured 365 electoral votes. 304 of a possible 538 electoral votes is 57%, which The New York Times accurately reports ranks 48th out of the 56 elections in terms of “landslidyness.” Of course, that’s not the way Breitbart reported it, but numbers are hard. Propaganda is easy.

Stevie Nicks is NOT cool with this

Stevie Nicks is NOT cool with this

This is Trump world. If 48 of 56 electoral college wins are all “landslides,” if six of seven (see, I divided 48 and 56 by eight) wins are landslides, then the term landslide no longer has any quantitative meaning, only a qualitative meaning. This is what demagogues and tyrants do. Every day is a sunny day, not because the sun is shining, but because it confers the quality of sunshine. Truth is fiction. Fiction is truth. George Orwell supplied the playbook decades ago.

5. NatGeo’s Best Photos of 2016

We’ll save “Why isn’t it International Geographic?” for some other time and for now just beckon you to gaze on these spectacular shots from the magazine’s “Best of 2016” gallery.

The photo above looks like a diorama from the Museum of Natural History, but it was shot at Yellowstone National Park by Charlie Hamilton James. Below, Tim Laman captures an orangutan in Borneo climbing 100 feet up for a tempting piece of fruit. I’ll never complain about the four-block walk to West Side Market again.

Word Up

Meretricious (adj): characteristic of a prostitute; apparently attractive but lacking in any integrity or value

There’s a meretricious aspect of planting two .500 teams in south Florida in late December to play a bowl game.


Music 101

Tainted Love

Soft Cell appeared on The Merv Griffin Show? That alone is enough to post it here. Stick around for the awkward conversation at the conclusion of the performance. I cannot explain why this song was such a big hit in 1982 other than that it was peak synth-pop times, but it spent a record-breaking 43 weeks in the Billboard 100 (peaking at No. 8) stateside, and was the top-selling single in the U.K. the year before. Really.

It’s actually not even an Soft Cell original. The tune was originally recorded in 1965 by American artist Gloria Jones but it was a flop, failing to chart. But our hard-working MH music researchers have unearthed a copy for you…

Remote Patrol


TCM 6 p.m.

You’ve got “Ol’ Man River” and Ava Gardner in the same 1951 film. Any questions?

Ava Gardner. She brings the

Ava Gardner. She brings the “va va,” and you supply the “voom.”


by John Walters

Starting Five

By my count, McCaffrey touched the ball 748 times in the past two seasons. If anyone has earned a day off...

By my count, McCaffrey touched the ball 748 times in the past two seasons. If anyone has earned a day off…

1. Too Late For The Sun*

*The judges will also accept “It’s McCaffrey, Not McCaf-free!” and “Pass the Old El Paso”

Stanford junior and 2015 Red Grange Award winner Christian McCaffrey has decided to pass the Old El Paso, i.e., not play in the Sun Bowl. His decisions assures America that the nation will not run short on hot-take fuel for at least two more days.

McCaffrey galloped for 368 all-purpose yards in last January’s Rose Bowl, which kicked off just a few hours after Ohio State’s Taylor Decker shoved Notre Dame’s Jaylon Smith from behind on a play that was pretty much a cheap shot. Smith suffered severe nerve damage while tearing a few knee ligaments and lost all of his rookie NFL season. He went from a surefire Top 10 pick to a second-round pick (Decker was taken mid-first round).

On the other hand, Jaylon was selected by the Dallas Cowboys, who are fixing to be the NFL’s juggernaut for at least the next half-decade, so you could argue that it all worked out for him. He’ll play next year.

And what is the message to America’s youth? If you have a linear path to $10 million or more in earnings in your twenties (or in your life) and someone posts one more meaningless impediment in front of that path, sidestep it. Not the worst lesson in the world.

Other Stanford students who skipped out of The Farm before they graduated (or played in the Sun Bowl) include Tiger Woods, Google co-founder Sergey Brin and SnapChat co-founder Evan Spiegel.

2. Stocking Stuffers in Waco

Winthrop??? Lose-throp, amirite?

Winthrop??? Lose-throp, amirite?

In case you missed it, the No. 4 Baylor men took on John Brown, who judging by the 107-53 final score yesterday, could be one person or could be a 2,100-student NAIA institution in Arkansas. But that is hardly egregious compared to what the No. 3 Lady Bears did last week, smacking Winthrop by the score of 140-32. The 108-point margin was the largest ever in Division I history.

Just so you have it, here were the quarter scores: 38-6, 39-12, 34-14 and 29-0. So yeah, it was close after three quarters, only 111-32. “I tried and played tons of people,” said Baylor coach Kim Mulkey (whom we love), “in and out of the lineup, called timeouts, trying to get people off the floor.” Winthrop’s coach, Kevin Cook, actually thanked her after the game. He knew it could’ve been worse.

In related news, the top four women’s teams in women’s college hoops—UConn, Notre Dame, Baylor and Maryland— have two losses total, both of which came to UConn. Maryland hosts the Huskies on Thursday, December 29.

3. Bi-Polar Bears?

This was the above photo on The New York Times today. Related: I occasionally read The NYT. Related: I'm an East Coast Elite who gets paid like a Midwest non-elite.

This was the above photo on The New York Times today. Related: I occasionally read The NYT. Related: I’m an East Coast Elite who gets paid like a Midwest non-elite.

Listen: I LOVE wild animals and it’s going to be man’s greatest failure if we lose any of these magnificent creatures to extinction because that will be entirely on us. Related: We don’t need any more people; we actually need less. A lot less.

Beijing smog

Beijing smog

So, yeah, how man treats wildlife is, for me, the best measuring stick of whether or not we’ve evolved because it tells whether or not we truly appreciate this home on which we live. But, before I get any more preachy, here’s my question: What would happen if we tried repatriating polar bears in Antarctica? I’m generally not in favor of manipulating ecosystems, but Antarctica isn’t a very complex environment. There does happen to be a lot of ice, though, and a lot of available polar bear food sources (Penguins make a fine snack). I just wonder if anyone has ever seriously considered this.

Meanwhile, we’re putting in charge of the White House the very worst people we could possibly find in terms of conservation. I fear how much different the biome will look in 2020. But hey, there will be more golf courses and luxury hotels, so…

4. World’s Greatest Obit

If you have yet to read the obituary on Chris Connors, here it is. We tried to attend the wake/happy hour, but didn’t get permission from the family.

5. Ghost Ship (Cont.)

I’m still blown away by what happened in Oakland on the night of December 2nd. Three dozen people, who went from partying and dancing and just enjoying the music, to a gruesome death in a matter of minutes. Here’s the story of one young reveler, Seung Lee, who was inside but then fatefully left for a few minutes to purchase beverages. The decision was a life-saver. From the East Bay Express.

And here’s another story, from the San Francisco Chronicle, of someone who survived by jumping out a window. The survivor, Aaron Marin, a bass player, had played gigs there before and was aware that the window existed.


Music 101

Jackie Blue

Yes, my weak spot is one-hit wonders from the Seventies. Takes me back to a time when AM radio was standard in cars and FM was what premium cable is to people today. This 197 tune by the Ozark Mountain Daredevils. The song reached No. 3 on the Billboard charts in 1975, where it was a summer staple. I never knew before today that the lead singer was 1) a man and 2) the drummer. Here’s proof (but lesser sound quality):

Remote Patrol

A Christmas Carol

TNT 8 p.m.

The Exorcist

Sundance 8 p.m.

Patrick Stewart is Scrooge

Patrick Stewart is Scrooge

Light or dark meat? You decide.





by John Walters

Starting Five

Forever Colorful

Craig Sager: “Time is something that cannot be bought,* it cannot be wagered with God, and it is not in endless supply. Time is simply how you live your life.”

My story in Newsweek on Sager’s passing.

*Time may be subscribed to, but we suggest Newsweek.

2. Are You Feeling Minnesota? 

That's senior WR Drew Wilatorsky in the center. He's the all-time leader in receptions (271) among California prep players, so a little respect, please.

That’s senior WR Drew Wolitarsky in the center. He’s the all-time leader in receptions (271) among California prep players, so a little respect, please.

It was buried under WakeyLeaks earlier this week, but TEN University of Minnesota football players were suspended indefinitely on Monday stemming from an incident that occurred on the night of Saturday, September 3rd. You can read more about it here, but there was allegedly sexual contact with at least one player and even the woman involved, a Golden Gopher cheerleader, the complainant claims “it may have been consensual.”

No arrests were ever made. No charges were ever filed. But Minnesota suspended 10 players (all of whom are black, by the way) indefinitely, which would mean for the December 27 Holiday Bowl against Washington State.

Yesterday, the players struck back. Led by senior wideout Drew Wolitarsky, the team met the media en masse and announced that they would not participate in the Holiday Bowl (kids in Minnesota sacrificing a free trip to San Diego in late December) until they get a closed door meeting with the Board of Regents and athletic director Mark Coyle.

Claeys came out in support of his players

Claeys came out in support of his players

“As a player, it became more than a game for me,” Wolitarsky said, per the Star Tribune, while speaking on behalf of his team. “And I know it did, as you can see, for the whole team. It’s about the livelihood of these kids, after football. Because that’s why we came here; we came here to get a degree. We come here to make a life for ourselves, and these kids’ reputations have been ruined.”

I know this will shock you, that an athletic director could be a sniveling coward and liar, but Coyle originally claimed that football coach Tracy Claeys suspended the 10. Nope. In fact, last night Claeys tweeted,


What this is all really about is lawsuits and $$$ and CYA. And institutions trying to appease everyone while not being drawn into a civil suit. Easier to just tell the poor black kid to sit out awhile—as his reputation is forever sullied, thanks to the internet—than to actually pursue due process.

3. Head Games

He's wearing NEON LIME GREEN, kid. How did you miss him?

He’s wearing NEON LIME GREEN, kid. How did you miss him?

There were three touchdowns scored in last night’s Rams-Seahawks game, but I found it interesting that ESPN’s highlights didn’t show all three (at least not when I watched). What they DID show were two concussion-worthy hits, one by Richard Sherman on Ram QB Jared Goff (this is why you slide, rookie) and the other on Seattle punter Jon Ryan, whose 26 yard fake punt rush was a thing of beauty…until he started bobbling the football, and took a monster hit from Troy “I Am Not Throwing Away My Shot” Hill.

“Last thing I remember…”

The hits are part of why we watch. The NFL knows this. So do ESPN producers. Hey, we love that nicotine rush, but we all agree that we’re trying to stamp out emphysema, right?

4. The Daily Harrumph: Racist or Just Immature?

In Missouri, Center High School was the visiting team at Warrensburg High School the other night. The visiting team is predominantly black, the home team not so much. So this is what a group of students from Center did to make Warrensburg feel welcome.

Now, kids, I’m no closer to ordering a DBAP T-shirt than you are, but Black Lives Matter can probably do themselves a favor and stand down here as well. Points:

–Until you’ve lived in towns this size, or unless you do, you really cannot appreciate how much high school sports play a role in the social life of such towns. A high school hoops game is a HUGE event.

–You’re always going to make the visiting team feel unwelcome, no matter the color of their skin. We used to bring newspapers and read them during pre-game introductions for the other team. When I was at Notre Dame, the Irish hosted No. 1 North Carolina, who had a player named Steve Hale (who was white), whom I think had suffered a collapsed lung earlier that season. Every single time Hale touched the ball, we chanted, “In-Hale! Ex-Hale! In-Hale! Ex-Hale!” (back when Notre Dame was cool, or at least, spirited).

—They didn’t all bring Trump signs. One rube did. Dig it: There are rubes in rural Missouri. There are Trump fans, many, in rural Missouri (pronounced, “Mizzou-ruh”). And yeah, there are racists in rural Missouri.

–Center won, 66-62. That’s probably the best response to that crap.

5. James Corden Wins Again

I sat through about :30 of Jimmy Fallon’s interview with Siena Miller last night, despite how lovely she is. That dude is just in desperate need of Adderall, or Xanax, or whatever drug it is that calms people down. Relax, dude. Take a breath. Or at least take a hit in between segments. I’m sure The Roots can hook you up.

Meanwhile, James Corden continues to do fabulous stuff at 12:30 a.m. on CBS. Above, he broke down 2016. Good stuff. A reminder this dude won a Tony Award for Best Actor a few years back. Below, you realize that Corden spent his entire year Christmas Carpool Karaoke’ing with every guest he’s had. Give that producer a raise.


Music 101



Taking their name from an indigenous Australian term for freezing weather (“If it’s really cold, you sleep with three dingoes—a three-dog night”), Three Dog Night had No. 1 hits in 1970, 1971 and 1972. This song reached No. 3 in 1973. Like almost all of the American band’s hits, it was written by someone outside the group, in this instance a songwriter named Daniel Moore.

Remote Patrol

It’s A Wonderful Life

USA 8 p.m.

TFW your business partner is a forgetful drunk

TFW your business partner is a forgetful drunk

As a country that is plunging into Potterville, this year’s viewing will be especially poignant. Hee haw and Merry Christmas!