by John Walters

Starting Five

Bronx Fire Kills 12

A fire that broke out in the first floor of an apartment building in the Bronx claims a dozen lives on one of the coldest nights of the year. The five-story pre-war building (i.e., before WWI) was gutted by flames that were fed by wind gusts. It was the deadliest fire in New York City since 1990, when 87 people died at the Happy Land Social Club blaze, also in the Bronx. No word yet on what caused it.

2. Yes He Did

The Rockets were up 26 on the Celtics around halftime and as color announcer Chris Webber said, “I was preparing my garbagio notes.” They were still up three after James Harden hit two free throws (he’d finish with 35 points) with under 20 seconds to play.

Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens pleaded to his players, “Keep hitting singles.” And that is what they did. A layup brought the Celtics within one with under 8 seconds to play. Then, trying to get free for an inbounds pass, James Harden, your early presumptive NBA MVP, pushed off and was called for an offensive foul.

Celtics ball. Al Horford scores the go-ahead bucket on an eight-foot tear drop shot. On the ensuing inbound play, Harden pushed off Marcus Smart (above) and was again called for an offensive foul.

Celtics win, 99-98. It wasn’t quite “Havlicek steals the ball!” or “Bird with the steal!” but it was a pretty incredible comeback. And when is the last time you saw the league’s leading scorer called for two off-ball offensive fouls in the final seconds of a tight game?

Psst: A week ago the Rockets had the NBA’s best record. Now they’ve lost four straight.

3. The Madness Of King Trump

President Trump was sitting in the Grill Room of his resort in West Palm Beach on Thursday when New York Times reporter Michael Schmidt approached him to talk. No handlers were around, Trump consented (even to being recorded), and what follows is excerpts from their 30-minute conversation. To read at greater length, go here….

“…frankly there is absolutely no collusion, that’s been proven by every Democrat is saying it.”

“My base is stronger than it’s ever been. Great congressmen, in particular, some of the congressmen have been unbelievable in pointing out what a witch hunt the whole thing is. So, I think it’s been proven that there is no collusion.”*

*Trump uses the phrase “No collusion” ELEVEN times in the first few minutes of this interview.

“I won because I campaigned properly and she didn’t. She campaigned for the popular vote. I campaigned for the Electoral College.” (he’s got a point there)

” I have absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department.”

“If you look at my rhetoric, I said the problem with Roy Moore is that he will lose the election. I called it.”

” I know more about the big bills. … [Inaudible.] … Than any president that’s ever been in office.”

“But Michael, I know the details of taxes better than anybody. Better than the greatest C.P.A.”

“I like very much President Xi. He treated me better than anybody’s ever been treated in the history of China.”

“This is a problem that should have been handled for the last 25 years. This is a problem, North Korea. That should have been handled for 25, 30 years, not by me.”

“And, by the way, it’s not a tweet. It’s social media”

“But another reason that I’m going to win another four years is because newspapers, television, all forms of media will tank if I’m not there because without me, their ratings are going down the tubes.”

4. Looking Back At Our Stock Pick of 2017

Our 2017 stock pick of the year was Silicon Valley tech company Nvidia (NVDA), and please don’t ask us to tell you what they do (because we don’t fully understand it). Here’s what we do know: On the first day of trading in 2017, NVDA opened at $104.40 and this morning, the final day of trading, it will open at $198.40.

That’s a one-year leap of $94, or a percentage leap of 90%. So  yes, we DO want to be your latex salesman.

Ah, MH Capital, but do you have a stock pick for 2018? So, sure, we’re going to be predictable here, but we suggest Bitcoin Investment Trust (GBTC). Yes, it’s an incredibly risky pick, and it already has risen FOURTEEN TIMES above its January 3, 2017 price this year (read: now THAT was the stock we should have picked a year ago). Can that type of magic sustain itself this year? Probably not, but if it even doubles this year from its $1,937 price this morning, that’s quite the win. Go Bitcoin!

p.s. You can’t buy it on the regular E-Trade or Schwab platforms, but keep an eye on Ripple (XRP), which is up 100% in the past month or so.

5. Films Of 2017

The problem with Dunkirk is that Steven Spielberg set the bar so high that it may be decades before anyone touches it

We didn’t see a movie we truly LOVED this year. We liked Get Out, but loved it? Nope. Same with Lady Bird. Luckily for you, there are less snooty film critics out there than us who did compile a few Top Ten Films lists. took the time to compile the Top Ten list and aggregated the score so here is the closest we know how to come to a consensus of Top Ten Films for 2017 (in order, with asterisks next to those we saw):

Get Out*

Call Me By Your Name

Lady Bird*

The Florida Project


Phantom Thread*

The Shape Of Water

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Blade Runner 2049

A Ghost Story

Honestly, go back and watch Casablanca. Or for the first time if you’ve never seen it. The only film on this list that people will be talking about even two years from now is Get Out.


Wallis Simpson, her husband the former King of England, and the Worst Person of the 20th Century

We’ve already suggested you watch Season 2 of The Crown, but we just watched Episode 6, “Vergangenheit,” and man, you have to see that. Turns out that not only was Edward VI a Nazi sympathizer, he actively abetted Hitler during World War II, likely costing his own country thousands of lives. Imagine a man who is head of his country acting in a way that best serves that country’s enemy for the sole purpose of fulfilling his own personal wants. I mean, imagine that. Anyway, The Crown makes history so much more compelling.

Also, we were reading A Gentleman In Moscow last night and came to a vignette about a few characters who, unable to pursue their careers in the fashion they hoped due to the Bolshevik crackdown, each found their own paths to somehow remain involved in their vocations. As author Amor Towles put it, “For when life makes it impossible for a man to pursue his dreams, he will connive to pursue them anyway.”

Doesn’t sound like anyone we know.

Music 101

Rockin’ Into The Night

At the end of a frigid early winter week, nothing will turn up the heat quite like an early ’80s brain-dead rock song heavy on the power chords. Thank you, .38 Special. That’s band co-founder Donnie Van Zant on lead guitar. His older brother, Ronnie, was the original lead singer of Lynyrd Skynyrd (hence, “Free Bird”) and died in a 1977 plane crash. Younger brother Johnny has been Skynyrd’s lead singer since 1987. That’s correct: Ronnie, Donnie and Johnny Van Zant, from Jacksonville, Florida.

Remote Patrol

Cotton Bowl: USC vs. Ohio State

8:30 p.m. ESPN

In which quarter do you have Nick Bosa being ejected for targeting Sam Darnold?

Finally. Two heavyweights. We like the Buckeyes, who got shut out 31-0 in their “bowl” game last season, to rebound.


by John Walters

Starting Five

What Might’ve Been

In 2010-11 the Oklahoma City Thunder went to the NBA Finals with a trio of stars all under the age of 23. They lost to the Heat. In the six-plus seasons since OKC, as a franchise, has yet to return. Those three stars—Kevin Durant, James Harden and Russell Westbrook—have collectively earned a total of one NBA championship ring since.

However, by seaons’s end all three show should have earned one NBA MVP. Durant has led the league in scoring twice, Westbrook has led the league in scoring twice, and Harden is leading the league in scoring this season. Harden led the NBA in assists last season and Westbrook is doing so this season.

Westbrook, who became the first NBA player since the Big O (notice the uniform number) to average a triple-double over a season, is the only one who remained

OKC has the NBA’s most passionate fans. What a tremendous era this might’ve been. And for those who say it could have never worked, well, it did before all of them were even 23 years old. And as for money and super teams? Of course, individually they’d earn more elsewhere, but look at Curry-Durant-Green-Thompson at Golden State. Or LeBron-Love-Irving the past few seasons in Cleveland. Of course it could’ve worked. And it would’ve been so much damn fun to watch. A shame.

2. Above U.S., Below Zero

Canada Dry? No, Canada Brrr.

Toronto and Winnipeg, minus-2 Fahrenheit. Calgary, minus-11. Montreal, minus-13. Ottowa, minus-14. Regina, minus-19.

3. Assisted Living

He only scored two points—on a layup—but last night Rajon Rondo dished out 25 assists in just 31 minutes of action as the Pelicans beat the Nets. That total puts him in a five-way tie for the most assists in a game in NBA history (the leader is Scott Skiles, who dished out 30 on December 30, 1990).

Skiles’ record may be tainted since he deployed Magic….

Rondo, who had a 24-assist game seven seasons ago, is one of only two players who appears in the all-time top 10 twice. The other is all-time assists leader John Stockton, who has the top 2-4 games (28, 27, 26) in terms of assists in NBA history. Stockton is also the NBA’s all-time assists leader and in the Hall of Fame (Rondo is only 30th all-time in terms of assists).

4.  Why Video Replay Will Never Work, a.k.a. George Orwell and The Law Of Entropy

The concept of video replay, which is employed in some part for officiating games in the NBA, NFL, MLB and college basketball and football, is understandable and appreciated. Referees miss calls that are CLEARLY obvious when we have the advantage of 1) time and 2) video evidence.

The problem with video replay is that the determinations are still made by human beings as to WHAT is OBVIOUS, and as time has passed, the line of demarcation of obvious becomes broader and broader. Did first-base umpire Don Denkinger blow that call in Game 5 of the 1985 World Series, possibly costing St. Louis the title? Yes. Did Jim Joyce cost Armando Galarraga a perfect game? Certainly.

But each week, particularly in the NFL this year (but also in college football and the MLB earlier this fall), we see examples of video replay dudes located hundreds of miles from the actual game overturning calls that were, at worst, 50/50 judgments. The latest example was the Kelvin Benjamin catch last Sunday in New England.


Video replay is a lot like communism: the idea, in a vacuum, is noble to a degree. In practice, however, is where its flaws are exposed, because as long as humans are making decisions, entropy, the natural tendency of a system from order to disorder, will reign. Or, as George Orwell so artfully put it, “Some animals are more equal than others.”

Don’t say I didn’t warn you. And here’s to the day when, upon further review, we scrap video replay and learn to embrace our imperfections as humans.

5. Big Little Lies

Is that twice-nominated Oscar actress Laura Dern, 50, schmecking with former NBA point guard Baron Davis, 38? Yes, yes it is. That’s so adorable.


If you’re not following Vala Afshar on Twitter, you’re denying yourself access to wisdom…



Overhead conversation on Broadway yesterday (one of the best things about living in a big city is that people don’t drive…you can eavesdrop on so many more conversations without having to sit at a Starbucks) between a well-dressed 60-ish dad and his college-aged son (I’m presuming).

Dad: “The Republicans claim they’re fiscally conservative and then they vote to increase the deficit by a trillion dollars.”

Son: “But what about lower taxes?”

Dad: “That’s great, but most of that is to line their own pockets. They’re such hypocrites! They’re putting the country in far greater debt and claiming they’re the party of fiscal conservatism. When Bill Clinton was president we had a balanced budget and he eliminated the deficit.”

Son: “What do you mean, He eliminated the deficit?”

Dad: “We had a SURPLUS!”

Son: “There was no debt?”

Dad: “That was only 20 years ago. We had a surplus. No debt. That’s what surplus means.”

Son: “You sure about that?”


Son: “I’m going to have to look that up.”*

*It’s true, son.

Only took 30 years, but we’ve come full circle back to Family Ties.


Music 101

Do You Want To Build A Snowman

This tune from Frozen seems appropos today, especially for those in the Midwest.

Remote Patrol

Rockets at Celtics

8 p.m. TNT

We have a hard time caring about the NBA before Valentine’s Day (okay, April Fool’s Day), but if you check the standings, Boston has the best record in the East (28-10) and Houston  the second-best record (25-7) in the West. Only Golden State (28-7) is superior. Hmmm….no mention of the Fighting Sweet Peas among the top three records in the league. James Harden is on his way to his first league MVP, as he leads the league in Scoring and is third in Assists (take note: LeBron is third and second in those categories).


by John Walters

Starting Five

The Rosen Bowl

Three and out. It’s the worst three-word sentence a quarterback can be responsible for on the field. If you look at Josh Rosen’s career in Westwood/Pasadena, though, that’s what it is. Three seasons, no Pac-12 championships (or even championship games), no major bowls and no bowl wins.

Rosen, who should go among the top five picks next spring in the NFL draft, and possibly number one overall, sat out last night’s Cactus Bowl, which UCLA lost 37-14 to Kansas State and a 78 year-old man. In his three seasons Rosen, a Manhattan Beach native, took the Bruins to the Foster Farms Bowl, which they lost, then to a losing season in 2016, and then yesterday to the desert.


The truth is that Rosen is a fantastic quarterback—he’s third in the nation in passing yardage and I’ve never seen a UCLA game this season in which his receivers do not drop at least four gimmes—but Rosen, whose name is tailor-made for a New Year’s Day game in Pasadena, never took the Bruins to anything special and in fact, coach Jim Mora was fired last night. It would’ve been fun to watch Rosen play even one year under Chip Kelly.

2. Of Trae and Tra

Hey, remember about three weeks ago when the MH college hoops staff alerted you to Trae Young? Well, the rest of America has caught up. The 6’2″ Sooner frosh leads the nation in both scoring (28.7 ppg) and assists (10.4), acting as if he’s all Russell Westbrook or something (playing just 15 miles south). Also, weren’t all the sports blogs telling us that Marvin Bagley III and Michael Porter were the only two frosh to watch this season?

Speaking of Bagley, if only the Duke frosh had remained in his hometown of Tempe, Arizona, he’d be playing for an undefeated team (12-0) that is ranked higher than Duke at the moment. The Sun Devils are the surprise of the season, as six-foot-nothing guard Tra Holder leads Arizona State in points and assists. ASU gets their second true test of the season this weekend versus arch-rival Arizona in Tucson (the beat Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse earlier this month).

3. When You Have To Finish The Round

This photo was snapped at Beacon Rock Golf Course in Bonneville, Washington, last September and it made the BBC’s gallery of the year’s most striking images. Take a gander.

4.  The James Gang

Even his cranium is muscular

If you had to select one Pittsburgh Steeler who symbolized the Mike Tomlin era in the Iron City, you’d go with face-smashing, participation trophy-denying linebacker James Harrison. The Steelers released the 39 year-old, five-time Pro Bowl selection two days before Christmas, which likely did not make the Kent State alum very merry.

But then Lord Belichick plucked him for the Patriots yesterday. Evil genius! The 15-year veteran, who made the Steelers as an undrafted free agent in 2002, will undoubtedly help the Pats, who ended the Steelers season last year in the AFC Championship Game.

5. A Gentleman In Moscow

We’re only halfway through it, but the MH Book Club is pleased to report that this 2016 novel by Amor Towles is the best book we’ve read all year (including The Sellout). It’s the story of a charming Russian count who, just after the Bolshevik revolution, is sentenced to a lifetime of confinement within the Moscow hotel, the Metropol, that he has called home for the past few years.

You’re already yawning. Don’t. In much the way that the blank page is a gauntlet for any writer, it almost feels as if Towles, a former investment banker, issued himself the challenge of taking this premise and turning it into an exciting novel. He has more than succeeded. As our protagonist, Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov, deduces early on, Better to define your circumstances than to let your circumstances define you. He overcomes them, as does Towles.

An enthralling read, on the level of Catch-22. Pick it up. Put down the smart phone. You won’t be sorry.






Suns win! Suns win!

Music 101

The Scientist

Coldplay‘s second album, A Rush of Blood To The Head, remains one of the best rock albums of this century (ducks, avoids tossed fruit). In order for this reverse narrative video to work, singer Chris Martin had to learn how to sing this song, the second single from the album, backwards.

Remote Patrol

Pinstripe Bowl

Boston College vs. Iowa

5:15 p.m. ESPN

Jackson’s pick versus Ohio State was the most athletic defensive play of the season

Keep an eye on Boston College freshman running back A.J. Dillon, who nearly won the Herschel Award and may one day win the Heisman Trophy. Iowa linebacker Josey Jewell is one of the nation’s best while Hawkeye cornerback Josh Jackson should have won the Thorpe Award as the nation’s best defensive back.



by John Walters

Starting Five

If you snap a photo of that one black dude, will blood trickle out of his nose and will he scream at you to “GET OUT!”?

White (Collar) Christmas

The overwhelmingly popular (51 to 48 in the Senate and a 2:1 disapproval rating in polls) gets passed, and President Tee Time gets his first major win in office. Great news if you’re a millionaire or above or in the board room of a publicly traded company. We’ll see what happens to the rest of us.


Meanwhile, Trish Regan over at FOX BUSINESS NEWS (yes, really!) did some actual reporting and showed how a man like Blackstone CEO Steve Schwartzman will actually pay less in taxes than a New York City cop because he calls the $400 million he earned this year “an investment.”

2. Fellatio Hornblowers

I’m SO MUCH RICHER today than I was yesterday

The GOP members who’ve often sparred with Trump used yesterday as an occasion to give him the one Christmas present he desires above all else: an ego-stroking. Orrin Hatch suggested that if things keep moving at this rate Trump could go down as the greatest president in the history of America, while Mitch McConnell said, “This has been a year of extraordinary accomplishment for the Trump administration.”

Well, except for health care, Matthew Petersen, firing at least half his staff and being under investigation by the FBI. CNN ranked all 11 “over-the-top” speeches in which Republican legislators hailed the tyrant yesterday. The funny thing is, he’s so needy that he actually believes them. Or he doesn’t care that it’s not true, he’s just that insecure. How’s it feel to wake up in a Third World nation, peeps?

3. Down Go The Heels

Fletcher Magee (above)—who is not a character in a William Faulkner novel—scores 27 points as Wofford defeats defending national champion North Carolina in Chapel Hill, 79-75. Wofford, which entered 0-25 versus ranked opponents, was 4-4 before the contest.

The Terriers shot 44% from the field

It’s a nice story for December, but Wofford’s going to have to win its conference tournament to make the NCAAs and the Tar Heels (10-2) are going to need to lose at least half of their remaining games not to. As if this was the first item in today’s blog to broach the topic of class privilege.

Meanwhile, Duke beat Evansville by 64.

4. Legends of the Fall

The Oscars need to create a Weinstein Award for the Worst Person in Hollywood that year

On this first day of winter, let’s remember all the miscreant males who had jobs and fame and public adoration (they still have money) when the autumnal equinox arrived but no longer do: Harvey Weinstein (still the worst), Louis C.K., Garrison Keillor, Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer, Kevin Spacey, Morgan Spurlock, Mario Batali, Warren Moon, Russell Simmons, Al Franken, Jeffrey Tambor, Matthew Wiener, Roy Moore, Dustin Hoffman, Brett Ratner and Mark Halperin.

Still outstanding, in more ways than one: Donald Trump.

5. Whoa, Christmas Tree*

*The judges will also accept “Panic in Needle Park”

Whoever supplied the Christmas tree to Rome (Charlie Brown?) may not have his contract renewed yesterday. It’s odd to see a southern Italian that revels in being thin.

The tree’s needles are also falling at an alarming rate, and I don’t know if there’s enough propecia in Italy….


Picture This

A holiday treat. Enjoy. The New York Times‘ Year in Photos.


This Christmas, get funked up!

Music 101

Last Christmas

Last Christmas was spoiled when the artist (okay, technically it was Wham!) who brought us this song, George Michael, died far too early at age 53. As our last entry until after December 25, we thought it would only be proper to pay tribute to the man born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou. The only superior British male vocalist? Freddie Mercury, who also was not of Anglo-Saxon birth.

Remote Patrol

Miracle on 34th Street

8 p.m. AMC

Is the Macy’s department store Santa koo koo or is he actually Kris Kringle? This 1947 film was a Best Picture nominee.

A Charlie Brown Christmas

8 p.m. ABC

A classic. Linus gets the big soliloquy at the end.


Days remaining until New Year’s, 2021: 1,108

Yesterday’s Bitcoin Price: $17,874

Current Price of Bitcoin: $16,542

Yesterday’s magic number: $885.60 per day.

That is, the price of Bitcoin must rise this much on average every day to reach $1 million by January 1, 2021. The price of the cryptocurrency dropped more precipitously today than any since we’ve started this little operation. Bring on the condiments!

Today’s magic number: $887.60


by John Walters

Starting Five

Tax Man

Lower taxes for everybody? Yay!

Seriously lower taxes for corporations, billionaires, private-jet owners and inheritors of large estates? Woo-hoo!!!

The MH staff, not unlike the Democrats who actually had to vote on it, hasn’t had time to read over the tax bill (as if we’d understand it, anyway). We did find it funny when Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kent.) said, “If we can’t sell this to the American people, we need to get in another line of work” followed by a Monmouth University poll that said 47% of Americans disapprove of tax reform and only 26% support it.

Your move, Mitch.

2. Errin’ Judge

Missed this from last week, but you have to wonder why Matthew Petersen was ever nominated by The Worst Wing for a federal judgeship. Watch this. At a certain point I was hoping Senator John Kennedy to turn his line of questioning to, “Have you ever even read a John Grisham novel? Seen My Cousin Vinny? Can you tell me who Aaron Judge is? Anything?

Kennedy, who is a Republican, actually later told a TV station, “Just because you’ve seen My Cousin Vinny doesn’t qualify you to be a federal judge.”  Not even if you’re a ute.

3. Bravo, Geno!

Using only six players most of the game, Geno Auriemma secured his 1,00th career victory (all of them at UConn) last night with an 88-64 defeat of Oklahoma. The Huskies play all their most interesting games before Christmas because they now belong to a suck-ass hoops conference, but that’s just me quibbling.

Also last night, North Carolina’s Sylvia Hatchell, in her 43rd season, secured her 1,000th career win (most of them at North Caolina, where she has coached for 32 years.

How do Geno’s 1,000 wins stack up against the other four college coaches from major programs who’ve passed this milestone?

Pat Summitt (Tennessee): 1,098-208 (.841) EIGHT national championships

Mike Krzyzewski (Army, Duke): 1,082-331 (.766) FIVE national championships

Jim Boeheim (Syracuse): 1,014-358 (.739) ONE national championship

Not the hair! Not the hair! Kia and Katie Lou have a little fun with their coach

Tara VanDerveer (Stanford): 1,018-235 (.812) TWO national championships

Geno Auriemma (UConn): 1,000-135 (.881) ELEVEN national championships

Sylvia Hatchell (Frances Marion, UNC): 1,000-376 (.727) ONE national championship

Highest win percentage, most national championships. Not bad. Someone should write a book about him.

By the way, you had to scroll down pretty far on ESPN’s home page to read news of Geno’s feat. Perhaps if UConn were located closer to the WWL headquarters, or if more UConn alums worked there, or maybe if Geno were good with the media and the sound bytes, occasionally. I dunno…

4. Every Vote Counts

In Virginia, Democratic state senate candidate Shelly Simonds defeats Republican incumbent David Yancey by a count of 11,608-11,607. That win gives the Dems a 50-50 tie in the state Senate house. I’m just wondering if the election official pulled out an index card to see whether Simonds had made it or not.

5. Notre Dame’s Early Signing Day Haul (a.k.a. “Houston, Hello!”)

Jack Lamb—the “ert” is invisible— is from Temecula, so you know he knows how to fight

We like the idea of the Early Signing Day for two reasons: 1) it allows schools and high school seniors who don’t believe in shenanigans (“FARVA!”) to save themselves six weeks of such and 2) because Nick Saban doesn’t like it.

A third reason? For those who don’t sign, they can take a good look at who has signed where and get a better idea of where they’ll fit in or what they want to be a part of. Makes total sense.

Trevor Lawrence, the nation’s No. 1 rated player and a QB, is headed to Clemson….as soon as he goes to buy Aerosmith tickets with Wooderson

For a school like Notre Dame, which doesn’t go full-Harbaugh at recruits but hopes the academics, the facilities and the gridiron tradition sell themselves, early signing day is a boon. That may be why the Fighting Irish are killing it today. As we write this 10 of Notre Dame’s 20 slotted commitments have signed and the other 10 are expected to do so. Experts are calling this the school’s best defensive signing class since 1990 (keep your eyes on safeties Houston Griffith and Derrik Allen and linebackers Bo Bauer, Shayne Simon and Jack Lamb). Also, wide receiver Kevin Austin, who is very good at catching El Pasos.

Also, Bonzie Colson scored a career-high 37 points last night as the Irish (9-3) outlasted Dartmouth, 97-87. I still haven’t forgiven him for missing the bunny with the Irish up high last Saturday and the other thing is that it’s worrisome that Bonzie needed to go for 37 versus a middling Ivy team. Don’t fall in love with this team. Right now, at least, it’s a two-man squad.



Dutch Treat

It doesn’t actually snow in Amsterdam all that much, so last weekend’s white out was welcome in the lovely city in the Netherlands. If you’ve never been, you should visit.



Excuse us, Jay, but don’t you earn a comfortable living by speaking into a microphone at live collegiate sporting events?

Music 101

The Christmas Song (a.k.a. “Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire” a.k.a. “Merry Christmas To You”)

Is there a better Christmas caroler than jolly old Nat King Cole? We don’t think so. He was born for the gig. The most played Christmas song of all was written in the midst of a “blistering hot summer” in 1945 by Bob Wells and Mel Torme, a.k.a. “The Velvet Fog.” Wells had written down a few phrases as cool thoughts (e.g. “folks dressed up like Eskimos”) and within an hour the pair had an unforgettable holiday song.

Remote Patrol

Pitch Perfect

8 p.m. NBC

Stop. We’re done. No need to scroll down any further on the TV Guide machine. If you’ve never seen this flick, you’re in for a tremendous treat. Time for a riff-off! (Look closely: Ben Platt, the Tony Award-winning star of Dear Evan Hansen has a minor role; they hid him from us for most of the film).


Days remaining until New Year’s, 2021: 1,109

Yesterday’s Bitcoin Price: $18,722

Current Price of Bitcoin: $17,874

Yesterday’s magic number: $884.03 per day.

That is, the price of Bitcoin must rise this much on average every day to reach $1 million by January 1, 2021. The price of the cryptocurrency dropped yesterday so we’re headed in the wrong direction, Mr. McAfee.

Today’s magic number: $885,60


by John Walters

Starting Five

Off Trak

Three people die as the Amtrak Cascades 501 passenger train in western Washington takes a turn at 80 mph when it was supposed to be traveling 30 mph for a turn on an overhead pass. Of the 14 cars, 13 slid off the track and a few onto Interstate 5 below. It was the train’s maiden voyage on this route between Seattle and Portland.

2. Skipper Resigns

“I come to this public disclosure with embarrassment, trepidation and a feeling of having let others I care about down,” wrote ESPN president John Skipper, who announced his resignation yesterday, citing a “substance addiction” of “many years.” Exactly what substance that is or why Skipper, who turns 62 today, chose to resign as opposed to taking a sabbatical, is not known.

The resignation took ESPN employees by surprise, many of whom, such as Tony Reali on Around The Horn, or Rece Davis, Jemele Hill or Dan LeBatard on Twitter, publicly praised him for being such a fine steward and wonderful boss. We only interviewed him face to face once, and he came across as a fine and thoughtful man.

3. Last In Space


 I love the idea of aliens visiting the United States, but is outer space sending us their best or are they sending us their rapists and murderers? And are these aliens even legal, or are they illegal?

Also, I just have to wonder if this isn’t the most brazen promo for The Last Jedi I have yet seen.

4. The Panther Who’s A Cougar*

*The judges will also accept “I Can Tina” or “She’s The Boss”

Now that owner Jerry Richardson has stepped down in the wake of SI’s report on what a cretin he is, Tina Becker, a former Panther cheerleader, has been named Chief Operating Officer. She will run day-to-day operations, which means we may be only weeks away from Cam Newton putting his foot into his mouth with his own boss. “I think it’s funny to hear women discussing…multi-year contract extensions,” he might say.

“Tina is the right person to lead this organization,” sad Hugh McColl, the former chairman and CEO of Bank of America, which basically is the engine behind the city of Charlotte. “I know she is committed to the Panthers, to the city of Charlotte and to ensuring this organization is run in a professional and progressive manner.”

5. JoJo? ScarJost? CoScar? 

Laugh, but original Weekend Update co-anchor Dan Aykroyd married Donna Dixon

Internationally famous actress Scarlett Johansson, who made a cameo appearance on Saturday Night Live last weekend, is reportedly hot ‘n heavy with comic/writer Colin Jost, who makes a cameo appearance on SNL every weekend.

She’s just a kid from Long Island. He’s just a kid from Staten Island. We wish them well.

Meanwhile, recall that original Weekend Update co-host Dan Aykroyd, who was nowhere near as handsome as Jost, wound up marrying actress/starlet Donna Dixon. Is it the desk? By the way, Colin’s co-host Michael Che may have had his strongest show yet last weekend. See below:

Music 101

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

This song originated in the 1944 MGM musical Meet Me In St. Louis and was originally sung by Judy Garland, the queen of melancholy classics. The original version was even more grim. The song began “Have yourself a merry little Christmas/It may be your last…” No, seriously. I chose Frank’s version here because who has a richer voice than Ol’ Blue Eyes. This is one of our staff’s all-time favorite Christmas tunes because you can’t help but feel the sadness seeping into your bones. When he sings, “From now on your troubles will be out of sight…” we all know that even he knows that’s a con.

Remote Patrol

The Year 2017

9 p.m. ABC

President Trump: America Thirst

For the masochists in our crowd (besides those who write daily blogs pro bono), ABC is spending 2 hours looking back at the past year. All I have to say to 2017 is what Robin Roberts said to Omarosa: “Bye, Felicia.”


Days remaining until New Year’s, 2021: 1,110

Friday’s Bitcoin Price: $17,744

Current Price of Bitcoin: $18,722

Friday’s magic number: $882.53 per day.

That is, the price of Bitcoin must rise this much on average every day to reach $1 million by January 1, 2021. Between Friday and today Bitcoin rose an average of $329 per day, which is a great rate per day, but below what it needs to do for Mr. McAfee to retain his member on New Year’s Day, 2021. Our new magic number, i.e., the rate per day of increase Bitcoin must maintain, is…

Today’s magic number: $884.03


by John Walters

Starting Five

Did Jesse James get robbed?

1. Catch And Release

A wild finish in Pittsburgh last night in what was likely a prelude to the AFC Championship game. The Pats led 27-24 when Ben Roethlisberger threw what looked to most of us like the go-ahead touchdown pass to tight end Jesse James (nice pick play, Steelers).

It looks good here, though

Except that the zebras overturned the call, saying “the ball did not survive the ground.” I hate to say the referees were correct, or to give the team that benefited from Tuck Rule another mulligan, but given the rules that the NFL has, the refs were right. James did lose …

…control of the football as he went to the ground, and maybe the lesson here is that he (and other receivers) should have worried more about securing the football toward his body than extending it past pay dirt. One more thing: I’m not sure that even when James lost control of the football that it even touched the turf, but I’m also not sure if that matters (it should, though, no?).

Anyway, it seems that, as written, the rule backs up the zebras on this play. Even though James had the ball until he…didn’t.

Two plays later, with the Steelers down 27-24 and :05 on the clock, Big Ben faked a spike, tried for the game-winning TD pass from five yards out, and threw a pick. Pats survive again.

Both teams are now 11-3 but the Pats won the head-to-head, so these two could meet for the second year in a row in the AFC title game in the borough of Fox.

2. Jerry Man-Dering

Do the sexual harassment and cover-up accusations against Carolina Panther owner Jerry Richardson have any merit? Well, one day after the story came up, Richardson announced that he’s selling the team. And another white power figure NFL owner named Jerry (Jones), commented that this made him “sad.”

Props to SI’s L. Jon Wertheim and Viv Bernstein for uncovering that the Panthers ”

“Have Made Multiple Confidential Payouts for Workplace Misconduct, Including Sexual Harassment and Use of a Racial Slur”

It’s all right there in the headline of the piece. I mean, sure, go ahead and read the details, but they dropped the hammer right in the headline.

3. La La Land*

*The judges will also accept “Harshing His Melo”

In his only appearance at the Garden this season, Carmelo Anthony scored 12 points and received one death stare from his estranged wife, La La. The Thunder lost 111-96, and it’s the Knicks who have a winning record (16-13) and OKC that has a losing record (14-15). That’s known as The Carmelo Effect.

La La looks good, though, no?

4. Where The Streeps Have No Name



Is this really the three-time Oscar winner? Could be. My cousin, who was the same age and at the same show, is a little chapped that the CBS cameras failed to locate her. She’s actually more telegenic.

5. The Seven Words You Can’t Say on CDC

Over the weekend the Center for Disease Control (CDC) affirmed that the White(st) House has forbidden official budgetary request documents to use the following seven words: “diversity,” “evidence-based,” “entitlement,” “fetus,” “science-based,” “transgender,” and “vulnerable.”

This is terrible, of course, but it does remind us of one of the greatest comic riffs of all time. Here’s George Carlin (use headphones if at work):

Music 101

Sausalito Summer Nights

In 1981 the Dutch band Diesel wrote the greatest Huey Lewis and the News song that Huey himself didn’t record. It’s  a song about a road trip to San Francisco and it peaked at No. 25 in the U.S. but went all the way to No. 1 in Canada. Imagine if they’d penned Shaughnessy Heights Summer Nights (that’s for you Vancouverians…Vancouverites?)

Remote Patrol

The Crown, Season 2


In its maiden season, this was the best dramatic series on television in 2016. Season 2 dropped earlier this month and we finally caught the first two episodes. Lizzy sends Phillip on a five-month tour of the South Pacific and it turns out that when the cat’s away, the cat will play. Oh, and never write bawdy letters to your pals at the Thursday Club about your misadventures in Borneo (that should be, like, Rule No. 17).