We’re embarking on a pilgrimage to a magical northern Indiana spot today, so this has to be quick.
You know why this man is smiling
On the same day that Cal alum Aaron Rodgers (’04) signed a record-breaking, four-year extension with the Green Bay Packers valued between $176 and $180 million (with $103 million guaranteed upfront), fellow Cal alum and Super Bowl-winning linebacker Mychal Kendricks (’11)was charged with insider trading. The Cleveland Browns, Kendricks’ current squad, later cut him.
2. Don McGone
No, not that Don. Sadly. The White House announced that its chief counsel, Don McGahn, will be exiting in the coming weeks. Certainly it had nothing to do with the White House learning that McGahn had spent 30 hours talking to Robert Mueller and his staff recently.
3. The War of 13-12
36 hits, 25 runs, 13 pitchers, four lead changes and one player, Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich, hitting for the cycle. That’s the story from Cincinnati on a late August night as the Brewers defeated the Reds, 13-12.
4. A Nearly Dead Ringer
No, someone in Montgomery, Texas, was not attempting to recreate a scene from The Strangers last week. This 32 year-old woman rang the doorbells of at least five homes at or after 3 a.m. Why? She was reportedly trying to escape a domestic abuse situation (we know: Zach Smith lives in Ohio. Hey, don’t @ us!). Her 49 year-old boyfriend was later found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
5. Flying Fish
Holy smokes! To stock remote lakes, @utahdwr drops this 1-3 inch trout from airplanes. Apparently 95–99 percent survive the fall, and it’s less stressful for the fish than traveling by land. 🐟🐡 pic.twitter.com/IJdzTPx5ux
This apparently is a thing. In Utah it’s easier and less traumatic on the piscine species to air drop them into a lake than to drive them from a hatchery.
The early ’90s was flush with fantastic and diverse bands: Nirvana and Pearl Jam, obviously, but also No Doubt and Green Day and Live and Counting Crows and The Cranberries and Smashing Pumpkins and the Lemonheads and Matthew Sweet and Blues Traveler and Oasis and and Weezer and Red Hot Chili Peppers and Radiohead. I traveled a lot those days for SI, and the radio was a constant and satisfying companion. What happened? Why did it have to end?
Meanwhile, I will never forget walking outside from work one late summer afternoon in the early ’90s and seeing Gwen Stefani and the band rehearsing this song from atop the marquee of Radio City Music Hall. Pretty cool moment.
8 p.m. TCM
Fellini’s classic. We had to watch it for a course in college and remember nothing from it except that maybe we missed chicken patty night because of it. If you’re not into avant-garde Best Foreign Film Oscar winners that are widely considered to be among the top ten films ever made, there’s Northwestern at Purdue on ESPN at 8 p.m.
Google and Amazon plan and think in terms of twenty year time horizons. The current case of totalitarian neurosyphilis will run its course in an increment of months, like any other poorly treated infection.
Her team lost in overtime, but anyone who stayed up late (on the East Coast) and witnessed her performance in Game 2 of the WNBA semifinals between the Phoenix Mercury and Seattle SueBirds (or Seattle Stewies) can bear witness to the fact that Diana Taurasi is the greatest women’s basketball player EVAH.
The Mercury trailed by 19 at Seattle in the 3rd quarter, but the Chick from Chino began to will them back. She buried a trio of three-pointers in the final three minutes, the first from Mercer Island and the last two off-balance as she moved to her right. The latter of those two, to tie the game, came with three seconds left in Sue Bird practically in her bra.
We Must Mention: Seattle led by four in overtime and Phoenix got the ball back with a few seconds remaining. Analyst Rebecca Lobo noted that all five Seattle players should just stay in the free throw lane because the only possible thing that could go wrong here is if they fouled and Taurasi made a three, setting up a potential four-point play. She’s ABSOLUTELY RIGHT.
Of course, the Seattle coaching staff/players ignored that sage advice, manned up on Taurasi, and fouled her as she drove and shot the three. They were bailed out by the facts that A) she missed and B) the ref did not call it, which is why you get this stalk-off staredown above.
2. Aaron Cox
Cox, left, and Trout, right, both starred at Millville High
It’s not even a blip on the radar screen here in the East, but the death of Mike Trout’s brother-in-law, Aaron Cox, 24, has been cataclysmic inside the Angels clubhouse. Trout is from a small southern New Jersey town, which is where he met his future wife, Jessica. Aaron was Jessica’s younger brother, who starred at the same high school in baseball that Trout did.
Earlier this month Cox, who was a minor-league pitcher battling back from injuries, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Trout wore his name on the back of his jersey last weekend. In his first at-bat since returning from an injury and dealing with Cox’s death, Trout hit a triple.
3. Baby, It Swarm Outside*
The judges wonder, What is a Hot Gog?
*The judges will also accept, “Bee-vacuation”
On what might have been the hottest day of the year in New York City, a swarm of bees gathered on the umbrella of a hot dog stand in Times Square (and ordered 3 dogs, kraut, no relish). City officials wisely removed the bees without doing harm to any of them, since bees are probably as responsible for the continued success of all living creatures as any one species in the animal world.
Of course, some people failed to grasp this. If they were smarter, they’d realize that the best move toward public health would be to remove the hot dog stand. Don’t @ us, we love hot dogs, too, and are frequent visitors to Gray’s Papaya, the “Famous Hotdoggery.”
How did the bees get to Times Square, you ask? They took the B train…
4. Amazon $2,000?
Morgan: Not a bullish Bezos bank
This morning Amazon (AMZN) shares got a 2% boost when investment bank Morgan Stanley (not to be confused former Patriot wideout Stanley Morgan, but then why would you?) raised its price target on the Bezos Behemoth to $2,500. The stock, which closed July at a price of $1,777, is now at $1,970. Those who were saying that it could top $2,000 by the end of 2018 are adjusting their predictions to “end of the summer.”
MH’s fiduciary arm, Walker Capital, owns a large stake in AMZN, but not as large as that of MH’s chief consumer and critic, Susie B. If AMZN hits $2,500, that lady is gonna be rich Rich RICH. Would she attempt a hostile takeover of Medium Happy, or will she simply continue her passive aggressive takeover in the comments section? Stay tuned….
5. The Grange Award Nominees (and Pick)
Let’s dispense with the suspense: we’re letting our feelings for good friend Thom Gatewood get involved and picking his grandson, A.J. Dillon of Boston College, to win the Grange. Last season as a true frosh Dillon, from New London, Conn., rushed for at least 149 yards in six of the Eagles’ final seven games, i.e., when they at last made him a starter. He’s also very good at body-slamming defensive backs who dare to take him on mano a mano.
This move alone would have gotten Dillon onto our list
Our other finalists….
2. Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State: Super stud who will play in some big games (at Penn State, versus Michigan) in November.
3. Khalil Tate, QB, Arizona: Like Dillon, didn’t make a peep in September, then became a starter in October and lit the Pac-12 on fire.
4. Jonathan Taylor-not-Thomas, RB, Wisconsin: As a true frosh, finished third in the nation in rushing last season and he may have the nation’s best offensive line in front of him. Also, Wisconsin plays no one until it visits Ann Arbor on October 13.
5. Bryce “What Is Love, Baby Don’t Hurt Me, Don’t Hurt Me, No More”, RB, Stanford: We really didn’t want to add another RB to the list, and we feel that David Shaw would probably put him out on the field even if he had a pair of torn ACL’s, Type-2 diabetes, a hernia and syphillis, but the kid can flat-out fly and he has marquee games versus USC and Notre Dame in September to get the Grange Express rolling. So, reluctantly, we’ll add his name and watch as Tom Rinaldi gushes about how he’ll become a doctor and cure 97 types of cancer.
It doesn’t happen often: a song you’ve never heard of by a band you’ve never heard of plays on the radio and before that song is over, you know both it and the folks playing it are gonna be YUGE. Oasis never fulfilled their promise of being the greatest British band since the Stones or Beatles, but then again, who from the U.K. has been better than the Gallagher brothers since the early ’90s? Radiohead. Okay, perhaps. Coldplay? SHUTCHO MOUTH!
We contend there are more Oasis songs people would rather listen to than Radiohead, by the way. Their greatest error is not being as magnificent over the long haul as this song suggested from 1994 suggested they could be.
Bogie & Bacall
8 p.m. The Big Sleep
10 p.m. Key Largo
Now that is a dame
They smoldered onscreen and, despite a 25-year age difference, fell in love and got married off. Bogie, born on Christmas day in New York City in 1899, was the son of a cardiopulmonary surgeon (we didn’t know the profession existed 100 years ago) and a Mayflower descendant. Betty Bacall was a nice and lovely girl from the Bronx (just like the mother of this site’s author).
Here are two of their better films, both of them in the noir category.
I wanted to give this movie a hug. No, that’s not quite right. I wanted this movie to hug me.
I’m certain I’m not the only one who feels that way. This movieinevitably crumbles into romantic comedy formula, and I hoped for more comedy in all that romance from start to finish, but despite those imperfections I was won over enough to see past the flaws. It is an infectious story about a girl from the wrong side of the tracks trying to fit in with a high-society family. It is also a legacy marker for Asians in Hollywood film, anchored by actress Michelle Yeoh as a dragon of a potential mother-in-law.
I don’t know what CRAZY RICH ASIANS would be without Yeoh and all that fire in her eyes. Flimsier perhaps, and the production might have resorted to stunt-casting, hiring every Asian actor/actress working today so the rest of us in the audience think “Look! They got that actor, too!”
The movie starts off with a 1995 prologue on a dark and stormy night in London, when Yeoh’s young family, drenched and practically shivering, asks the hotel desk clerk for the keys to the suite. The clerk and the manager tell her to leave, despite the family’s paid-for reservation. The racists won’t even let the family use the hotel phone to make another reservation elsewhere. Yeoh, ever the protective lioness, then spits back one of the best cinematic “fuck you” moments in a movie I can remember without actually using that language. By the end of the scene, her young son looks back at the two cowering hotel employees, and the standard is set: Mom is a fixer. My mom is the universe. Don’t mess with my mom.
That boy grows up to be one of the most eligible bachelors in Singapore (Henry Golding, he’ll get some more work after this), a kind and decent fella, and as the film quickly points out with a shirtless scene, the hot guy of the story. Not long after his reveal, that boy’s cousin, Astrid (played by the gorgeous Gemma Chan), is introduced as a modern-day goddess, Oxford-educated with a perfect-looking and also shirtless husband to boot. The movie likes to attack stereotypes that way: Asian men are the lookers, as attractive as any white or African-American man, and the women are intelligent, formidable and most importantly, in no way subservient. What is universal here: It’s not a good sign that Astrid’s hubby showers before coming to bed.
But let’s back up and come to America. We are introduced to the girl at the center of the movie, Rachel Chu (Constance Wu), an economics professor at NYU. An expert in game theory, we meet her during a lecture wher, she outplays an unsuspecting poker player after he becomes too emotional on a single hand with high stakes.
Afterwards Chu meets her boyfriend from Singapore at a Flatiron District bar, and he suggests something a little more East. “In the East Village,” she asks? No, he’s about to be whisk her off to the Far East to his friend’s wedding. When they get their first-class sleeping berths, Rachel begins to wonder how rich her guy really is because, after all, he uses her Netflix password. Meanwhile, the rest of that Flatiron bar sends out a barrage of social posts about how this Singapore prince has finally found his princess, alerting the Yeoh character and that entire country that an interloper is about to touch down and steal him away. More high stakes hands lay ahead for Rachel.
The movie smartly resists turning Rachel into an overwhelmed ditz. It also has a lot to say about first-generation Asian-Americans – not only can they can be considered outcasts by their adopted country, but a strong possibility exists they will not be welcomed by their country of origin if they ever return. The derogatory term “banana” is tossed around in this movie, yellow on the outside, white (American and selfish) within. And so that’s how Rachel appears to many of those in Singapore society before she gets her bearings, and even after winning many of them over, there is that impossible mother-in-law to contend with.
Like many, I remember Yeoh best from CROUCHING TIGER HIDDEN DRAGON. She gave life to one of the great female warriors in cinema history, tougher than Sarah Conner in T2, fiercer than Ripley in ALIENS, and more cunning than any of the badass women still standing in GAME OF THRONES. That’s a worthy adversary in any rom-com. And when that warrior-actress spits at Rachel “You will never be good enough,” it definitely elevates the moment way above the average in this genre.
There are other fine flourishes. The director of production, Vanja Cernjul, shot Singapore with a rose-colored lens. He showcases a food court scene with two happy couples that should be the country’s next tourism commercial, and a mood-lighting wedding scene that involved running water really stood out as well. And Constance Wu hangs in there to the end as Rachel, perfectly relatable. If you aren’t rooting for Rachel the moment she steps off the plane, then you’ve been eating with a silver spoon in your mouth since you were born, which is, of course, the point.
Don’t mistake my praise for high praise … the movie is fluffy and entirely predictable in a PRETTY WOMAN or MY BEST FRIEND’S WEDDING kind of way. They even have a montage where the gay best friend of the family gives our heroine a makeover, trying on different outfits so she looks like a modern-day princess. There’s a scene where the wacky college friend, the movie’s comic relief who represents Asian “new money,” nonetheless gets serious when the plot demands it and the heroine wants to run back to America, telling her bluntly “You’re afraid.” The cynic in me knows Hollywood wants the same but different, and the different this time is the All-Asian cast. And perhaps only this time.
Still, in the final moments, as the fireworks exploded around a high-rise building in Singapore, and the performers celebrated, I found CRAZY RICH ASIANS charming both for what it is, and what it may represent. CRA is already a groundbreaker for Asian cinema and a word-of-mouth hit, pulling in over $50 million at the box office in its first nine days of release — off a reported $30 million budget. That’s a nice line of credit to have.
It’s too early to say with certainty, but maybe the film serves as inspiration for today’s generation of Asian creatives, who, I hope, will get a widely-released Hollywood film made that is a true original. Yeoh and this cast obviously deserve to be known for more than their former typecasts: as samurai warriors, WW2 suicide bombers, token Asian friends, blackjack dealers, and English-mangling chefs at a Benihana. Within the confines of a rom-com, they show their mettle here as actors, and that’s the issue: We shouldn’t have to be alerted to it, we should have known it already.
1 Don’t get easily offended
2 Read more than they talk
3 Enjoy intelligent discourse
4 Quickly admit when they’re wrong
5 Comfortable changing their opinion
6 Surround themselves w/ intelligence
7 Seek to understand every perspective on a topic
This was retweeted 170,000 times. We mention this only because the real Warren Buffett spells his surname with two “t’s.”
In the opening match of the U.S. Open, women’s No. 1 seed Simona Halep of Romania is bounced in straight sets by Kaia Kanepi of Estonia. The 26 year-old Halep, French Open champ and the world No. 1 player, became the first top-seeded woman to lose the opening match in Flushing Meadows history.
At least she didn’t lose 15-0 to the Nationals this week.
Halep also lost in the first round here last year, to Maria Sharapova.
Kanepi is 33.
After 16 magical, maddening seasons in which he buried key three-pointers, perfected the Euro Stop (Traveling!!!), taught Euro-style flopping to the NBA, never learned to shave his head to hide an encroaching monk’s bald spot, and won a quartet of NBA championships, Manu Ginobili of the San Antonio Spurs (and only of the SAS), is retiring.
Fellow teammates and future Hall of Famers Tim Duncan (retired) and Tony Parker (Charlotte Hornets) have already departed. Does this mean south Texas native Michelle Beadle is done watching basketball, too?
If you see Charles Barkley today, give him a hug.
3. Carnage In Indiana
A slumber party. A vehicular breakdown just a block from home. Teens at the slumber party come out to help push the car. Another vehicle rams into them. Four dead. That’s what happened Saturday night on a state road near Seymour, Indiana (John Mellencamp’s home town).
The victims were a trio of female teens, ages 14 and 15, and a 16 year-old boy. Four other teens were hit. The driver of the broken down SUV, Cara Selby, 37, is the person who was hosting the slumber party. The driver of the other vehicle, Elizabeth Watson, is 24. I imagine she’s got some explaining to do as to why she struck that vehicle (and I wonder if it had anything to do with reading a phone while driving).
4. The Crypto Kid
We failed to tell you about the new Bitcoin doc on CNBC last night (caught bits and pieces during a dead hour at the cookoutateria), hosted by Melissa Lee. One reason the doc succeeded is that they found a face to put on the saga of cryptocurrency, and he was Bitcoin’s version of Puck (not for you Shakespeare fans, but for you MTV: Real World fans).
The Crypto Kid, actual name and home town unknown, read a paper on Bitcoin almost 10 years ago and got a job solely so that he could invest everything he earned in Bitcoin. He’s still, reportedly millions of dollars in earnings later, living almost like a homeless person in order to pour all of his capital into Bitcoin. He lives in that tree house above, rent-free.
What’s fascinating about Bitcoin, and the documentary explores this, is that you have very smart and successful people betting on Bitcoin (and not just the Crypto Kid) and very smart and successful people (.e.g, Warren Buffett) telling you it’s a scam. One side is going to be very, very right and the other will be wrong. Who’s going to be looking foolish in five years? Is it the college dropout in board shorts and a tiger paw scarf? Or the Oracle of Omaha?
p.s. We really cannot wait until Adam McKay (The Big Short) turns the Bitcoin phenomenon into a film and we wonder who will play this character, who seems like someone McKay would’ve conjured if he did not already exist.
5. Is This The First Great Monologue In Film History?
Before last Friday, I’d never heard of M except as a letter of the alphabet and an early New Wave band that gave us “Pop Muzik.” Turns out it’s a 1931 German film by Fritz Lang that starred Peter Lorre in the role that turned him into a star.
Sure, before 1931 there were other films of note (Wings, Birth of A Nation, Safety Last, etc.) but most were silent films. We tuned in to TCM, curious about the premise: a serial killer who preys on little children is haunting Berlin. And we listened to TCM host Ben Mankiewicz explain that this is the role that turned Lorre into a film star, even though it’s entirely in German.
And then, through most of the film’s first 80 minutes, we barely see Lorre, who is the killer. Finally, he is captured—not by the police, but rather by the city’s criminal underworld, who despise that the cops have been cracking down everywhere in their hunt for him. He’s been hurting their business. So they find him before the cops do and assemble their own kangaroo trial.
Lorre: The Minister of Sinister
What follows, above, is mesmerizing. If you love movies and were, like me, completely ignorant about this scene, take the time to watch it. On film, at least, no one had ever done it this good before and few have since.
The Paul Harvey rest-of-the-story note: Lorre was born Laszlo Lowenstein in Hungary. His parents were Jewish. If he doesn’t become a famous actor and depart for America in 1934, who knows what becomes of him? Perhaps he dies in a concentration camp. Of course, film lovers will note that the Nazis did capture and kill Lorre’s character in Casablanca, a film for which he has received far greater notice than M.
Hawaii 5-0 Theme
Growing up on the Jersey Shore in the 1970s, we rarely saw barreling waves at Sandy Hook the likes of which exploded onto our TV screen one night a week during the opening credits of Hawaii 5-0, a CBS police drama that ran from 1968 to 1980. It was never anyone’s favorite show or the most-discussed, but it did have a theme song that provided, what you might say, a Hawaiian punch. And a catchphrase no other cop procedural has topped: “Book ’em, Danno.”
The theme was composed by Morton Stevens, a Julliard alum who was not unfamiliar with Pacific islands when he took on this project. He had previously worked on Gilligan’s Island.
CBS just loves cops and Hawaii. The year Hawaii 5-0 ended after a 12-year run, Magnum P.I. made its debut and would run for eight seasons. This year, reimagined versions of both series will air on CBS.
Phoenix Mercury at Seattle Storm, Game 2
10 p.m. ESPN 2
He’d probably never do it, but if you were to ask Geno Auriemma to rank his favorite five players he’s ever coached, three of them would be playing in tonight’s game: Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart of Seattle and Diana Taurasi of Phoenix. Rebecca Lobo would also make that list, and then Geno might add Maya Moore or Kerry Bascom or Meghan Pattyson or maybe some wildcard name just to demonstrate that he’d actually given the query some thought.
Taurasi remains the best women’s basketball player I’ve ever seen and as far as I’m concerned, the best of all time. She’s also the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer. Her backcourt mate on the 2002 NCAA championship team, Bird, is the WNBA’s all-time assists leader. Stewie won four national championships in four seasons.
More than 50% of households in Connecticut (excluding Fairfield County) will be tuned into this game tonight.
Arizona senator John McCain, who among other things may be the most famous POW in American history, succumbs to brain cancer at the age of 81. Playwright Neil Simon, who wrote a play in which a sportswriter owns a two-bedroom apartment on Park Avenue, dies at the age of 91.
Now through death their names will forever be linked, like Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson (who would truly have made an odd couple).
There’s a lot about which to muse on either, such as Why did the scion of two generations of four-star admirals reside in a landlocked desert state? Or, How do you get lost in Yonkers? You’re pretty much bordered by the Major Deegan and the Bronx River Parkway east and west, Van Cortland Park to the South, and Yonkers Ave. to the north.
Anyway, we’ll leave the above here. There’s not much that better sums up what America is in 2018.
2. All-Name Teamers at QB
We can’t remember who found both, other than that both came to our attention via Twitter (take that, Instagram!). First, from the Upper Peninsula locale of Michigan Tech University comes 6’3″ freshman quarterback Steele Fortress. The kid is no joke: a three-time All-State player at Parma Western High, where he threw for 4,155 yards and 50 touchdowns. If only Harbaugh had offered…
Don’t @ us! We typed in “General Booty Football” in the search page and got scores of photos akin to this. This kid’s going to flummox and yet also beguile photo editors.
Then, from Cornerstone Christian Prep in San Antonio comes General Booty. His grandfather is former Buffalo Bills QB Joe Ferguson (who used to hand off the ball to O.J.), and his father is Abram Booty, who played wide receiver at LSU. His uncle is Josh Booty, who played QB at LSU and then USC.
Note: We wrote a story on the Booty family for SI when both Josh and Abram were still in high school in Shreveport, La. Josh was the higher-rated QB out of Louisiana that year between he and a kid named Peyton Manning. Yes, we do feel old.
At a Madden competition at The Landing in Jacksonville, a well-known mall, a 24 year-old fatally shoots two before being killed himself. T & P, we guess. T & P. That was, on the 238th day of the year, the 233rd mass shooting, which is defined as “four or more shot and/or killed, not including the shooter.”
The victims: Taylor Robertson, 27, of West Virginia, who had won the Madden ’17 Classic, the game’s national tournament. The other, above, Eli Clayton, also a player, from Woodland Hills, Calif.
The shooter, 24, who also died, was not an undocumented Mexican worker, so Donald Trump and Bill O’Reilly will likely have little to say about him.
4. Get Lost!
You don’t get a tan like this living in TriBeCa
Last Friday we wrote about Michelle Beadle‘s pigskin polemic on Get Up! that had taken place the day before. We opined that she missed LA and wasn’t crazy about pre-dawn alarms and staring at Mike Greenberg’s mug for 3 hours each morning (we mean his coffee mug, of course!).
Well, Beads was likely already out the door, as over the weekend ESPN announced that she was headed back to La La Land exclusively for NBA hosting duties. She failed miserably and got what she wanted. Wouldn’t it be nice if life worked out that way for all of us?
Why didn’t ESPN give Jemele Hill a show called “Woke Up!”
Meanwhile, ESPN colleague Jemele Hill is headed all the way out the Disney door, severing ties with Steamboat Willie as of September 1st. Hill was never our cup of tea, but she’s obviously smart and ESPN thought enough of her audience-garnering capability to give her its nightly 6 p.m. show (along with Michael Smith) less than two years ago. What happened other than her calling President Trump a “white supremacist” on Twitter in the interim (we’d make a “calling a spade a spade” reference but in this climate we’d probably be fired by someone in Indianapolis).
Hill’s position at ESPN was untenable pretty much as soon as Trump called her out (clapped back, you might say) in a tweet. Then she just became little more than a symbol of ESPN’s woke-ism, which does not play well west of Philadelphia and east of Berkeley.
5. The Joy Of Six
Luke Voit, who began the season with the St. Louis Cardinals, hit three home runs at Camden this weekend and has supplanted Greg Bird at first base.
Eight days ago, on the morning of Sunday, August 19, the Boston Red Sox led the New York Yankees by 11 games in the A.L. East. Eight days later, with the Yankees missing three key starters, two of whom are All-Stars (Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez) and the third who would be if he did not play the most loaded position in the A.L. (Didi Gregorius), the Yanks are just 6 games back.
Boston got swept three games at Tampa Bay this weekend (“Little Trop of Horrors”) while the Yankees took all four games at Baltimore. Worth noting: The Yanks were swept at the Trop in late June and the Red Sox swept four in Camden Yards only two weeks ago. It all evens out, we guess.
All of which is to say that the A.L. East pennant race, which many assumed was over when the Yanks dropped all four at Fenway at the beginning of August, is alive and well. The Yanks still have seven easy games immediately ahead of them (Chicago and Detroit, all at home) before heading out west for a Labor Day matinee versus the A’s.
Buckle up, baseball fans.
What Is Love
Trinidad native Haddaway isn’t about to apologize for this 1993 song that is shamelessly derivative of everything Seal had released up to this point. The song soared to No. 1 in 13 different countries (topped off at No. 11 in the USA) and became a dance club staple. Of course, it would best be remembered as the musical cue for the SNL duo of Chris Kattan and Will Ferrell to get their A Night At The Roxbury groove on.
4 p.m. TCM
Charles Foster Kane: Tough sledding ahead
Do we expect even 5% of you to park your arses in front of a TV at 4 p.m. on an August Monday to watch what many cinephiles consider the best movie ever released? No. We’re placing this here to wonder aloud why TCM would air it at such an odd hour? They’re just taunting us (the MH staff has NEVER seen it. Never. This and Moby Dick, i.e. the novel, are the two biggest holes in our cultural literacy).
Anyway, the fourth episode of Better Call Saul also airs (9 p.m., AMC). Is Rhea Seehorn going to have to spend the entire season in an arm cast?
If this were a ’40s Hollywood film, they’d bicker for 15 seconds more and then he’d grab her and kiss her on the lips. Those were the days.
CORRECTION FROM YESTERDAY: Kirk Herbstreit DID appear on ESPN after the Ohio State presser Wednesday night. He’s also doing a media conference call today.
45th President’s Film Festival
Featuring Flipper, Ratatouille, Liar Liar, Birth of a Nation, All The President’s Men, Wag The Dog and Godfather II.
2. The Malibu Stalker
For the past few years, someone has been acting like a sniper in the canyons above Malibu, peppering campers and hikers with buck shot. Two months ago, a camper was murdered, shot in the head while in his tent shortly before dawn. Is one person involved in all of these incidents?The Guardian examines these incidents.
3. Trump’s Pecker May Once Again Get Him Into Trouble
Ron Silver will definitely play him in The Worst Wing movie
The CEO of American Media David Pecker, who by connection also publishes the National Enquirer, which has been a repository (but not a printer) of what is apparently a trove of torrid Trump tales, well, this Pecker fella has apparently reached an immunity deal with federal prosecutors.
Why this longtime pal of the president’s would need an immunity deal is itself a story. Did the NE, which is technically a news organization, work to protect the president during the election and did it receive money for doing so? Appears that way.
And yes, Kellyanne Conway leveled the same charge in he opposite direction against CNN last night, claiming they tried to influence the election by reporting the news about Trump. Of course, no one from Hillary’s camp paid them to do so and then there’s the small matter of news organizations’ jobs being to, you know, report the news.
4. Beadle Juice*
*The judges will NOT accept “Get Up! On Your High Horse.” Just won’t do it. But they will accept “Miss Ain’t Behavin’ “
In the wake of the Ohio State presser, Michelle Beadle, trip-host of an ESPN show called Get Up! that we panned from the beginning and continue to pan, declared the she no longer watches college football or the NFL. That same night the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles played the 0-16 Cleveland Browns in a preseason contest and lost 5-0 and we decided that Beadle may just have a point.
Beadle’s declaration of gridiron independence, her girlcott, was about football not caring one bit about women (unless they’re prancing on the sidelines) and she has a point. We haven’t watched the NFL—until the playoffs—for years because A) the games are no longer played as much as litigated B) the NFL takes itself entirely too seriously; even the U.S. Senate has a better sense of humor and C) the entire regular season is about fantasy football, which we have never bothered to care about.
As for Beadle, she was making huge coin talking about the NBA and living the glam life in LA on a show that aired around noon local time. Now she’s had to uproot herself to New York City (bad NBC memories), wake up before dawn, pretend to have chemistry with Mike Greenberg, and play much more by Norby’s rules. No wonder she’s miserable.
Put me in, coach: I likes football
This, once again for Beadle, won’t end well. You don’t absolutely need to watch football to be a trip-host for Get Up!, but it’s a bad look in the months September through January. Forget how much ESPN has invested in its NFL coverage for a moment: if 95% or more of your core audience watches something that you yourself find not worth your time, maybe you’re doing the wrong show.
Admire Beadle’s candor. But she’s headed down a Bill Simmons/Jemele Hill path. Maybe she hopes they’ll move her back to LA. and let her do nothing but talk about the NBA with her good pals. My guess is that Norby tells her to take her views to another network. And, oh, by the way, isn’t Katie Nolan there in the corner, twiddling her thumbs, waiting to be given something to do?
5. Booking a Book Writer*
The judges will accept “Conan’s Caro Canon” but will not accept “The Purple Prose of Caro”
Harvard grad/talk show host Conan O’Brien is a total fan boy of Robert Caro, author of The Power Broker (which is like required reading as soon as you move to New York City). But for reasons beyond the TNT talk show host’s understanding, Caro has no interest in sitting on a couch in Burbank.
Maybe he just doesn’t want to be that close to a guy named Richter in a land notorious for earthquakes. We don’t know. Anyway, here’s the story.
Gotta run, kids. The cookoutateria called us in early today.
Yesterday, after entering an administrative building through the back entrance (garbage dumpster adjacent), Ohio State coach Urban Meyer met with the school president and certain trustees. After 11 hours of closed-door meetings, they determined that the three-time national championship-winning coach had nothing to do with Benghazi.
However, if you follow our friend Brett McMurphy‘s tweets, you’ll see that his behavior regarding Zach Smith was even worse than most of us thought. OSU let him off the hook with a three-game suspension and the following B. S. excuse:
Investigation report: “We learned Coach Meyer has sometimes had significant memory issues in other situations where he had prior extensive knowledge of events. He has also periodically taken medicine that can negatively impair his memory, concentration & focus”
We could share more, but really, just read Brett’s timeline on Twitter. For everyone who ever thought that Meyer was a pompous poser, well, you’re right. A fantastic football coach, but as a human being he’s Mike Pence. He’s not officially done at Ohio State, but there’s a part of us that thinks he is done. Meyer has been exposed as a total phony, and while his defenders, much like our president’s, will counter with, “They all are!” well, that isn’t true.
After McMurphy dropped the text messages, Brian Voltolini and Urban “discussed at that time whether the media could get access to Coach Meyer’s phone, and specifically how to adjust the settings on Meyer’s phone so that text messages older than one year would be deleted.”
The important thing is, with Urban, we have the stark evidence. And last night’s presser provided excuses no parent would accept from a five year-old. But, for now, they’ll suffice in Columbus. Meyer will miss games versus Oregon State, Rutgers, and at TCU.
2. The Herbies
Meanwhile, ESPN gave its star college football analyst, Kirk Herbstreit, an hour in prime time last night to hand out idiosyncratic preseason awards (apparently neither he nor anyone else in Bristol have ever heard of Khalil Tate, who ran for more yards than any quarterback not named Lamar Jackson last season, and in two fewer games). But the last five minutes of that special were preempted for the Urban Meyer presser.
It’s 12 hours later, and we’ve yet to hear a peep from Herbstreit, a former Ohio State quarterback and the son of a former Buckeye captain from the 1960 squad. Maybe that’s too soon to expect a comment.
(This is a gridiron analogy for how Ohio State and, to this point, ESPN, has handled the Urban Meyer story)
Herbstreit’s a smart man and has shown in the past that he’s unafraid to be frank and even confrontational on camera (“They should be thanking ESPN!”). We’re curious to hear his reaction to last night’s announcement of a three-game suspension, and expect it to come long before the College Gameday crew arrives in South Bend.
Well, at least President Trump is using the “I” word, finally. And if you listen closely, or even casually, you’ll notice that he’s no longer claiming that he’s innocent. Rather, he’s claiming that the stock market is doing so well and that unemployment is so low that you cannot impeach him or, “you would see numbers like you wouldn’t believe.”
“Like you wouldn’t believe” is a favorite phrase of Trump’s. And it fits a man whose every statement is something we wouldn’t believe.
4. The Prattle Of Bull Run
It was all over CNBC yesterday afternoon (to the chagrin of my co-workers, I often tune our cookoutateria TVs to this channel when no live sports are airing): “Longest Bull Run” in stock market history.
On Wednesday the bull market reached its 3,453rd day, dating all the way back to March 9, 2009. The next day, CNN’s late and great Mark Haines called the market bottom (the famed “Haines Bottom”).
On March 9 of 2008, in the dreadful wake of the sub-prime mortgage crisis, the DOW was around 6,500 and the S&P, ominously, stood at 666. Both indexes have quadrupled since that date (as has MH’s own portfolio, which is a point in favor of the “Just own an index fund” argument).
Of course, all this prattling about the markets enjoying a nine-plus years uninterrupted bull run opens the door for the unasked question: WHEN IS THE MARKET CORRECTION COMING?
Would you short this?
Frankly, we don’t know. Think of it like a party. You know you should leave, but they’re about to serve jell-o shots and there’s a rumor that Paris Jackson is showing up soon. So can you really grab your coat and walk out just yet?
5. Lamey Down
This is Bob Lamey. The 79 year-old broadcaster had been the “Voice of the Colts” since they moved to Indianapolis in 1984 (excluding a three-year hiatus from 1992-1994). Then suddenly, last week, he wasn’t. Lamey abruptly retired, as many NFL veterans do in the midst of training camp, but this was different.
Now here’s where it gets weird: If you’ve spent any time in Indianapolis or southern Indiana (we have), you are aware that what you’re about to read does not at all stretch the imagination. Here goes: more than 30 years ago a local Indy Car racing broadcaster, Derek Daly, shared a humorous anecdote, or so intended, with Lamey that incorporates the N-word.
Last week Lamey, who to repeat is 79 and has held a position of great renown locally for more than three decades and probably doesn’t filter his thoughts much in private for reasons stated earlier in this sentence, re-told that story off-air to a friend at a local radio station. The story of that story being told got around.
Within a day or so, Lamey had “retired” and the Colts issued a statement that read, in part:
Yes, in regards to Bob Lamey…first and foremost, the Colts deplore and do not tolerate the use of any racial slur – in any context. While it is the Colts’ strict and long-standing policy to not make public comment on personnel matters, Bob publicly acknowledged that last week he repeated an inappropriate word when telling a story. He immediately apologized to the people who heard him use the word, and then promptly retired as the Colts play-by-play announcer.
Daly, the race analyst who had been at WISH-TV in Indy for more than 30 years, confirmed that he had shared the story with Lamey during a live interview 35 years ago. Daly has since been fired from WISH-TV.
Honestly, we’re conflicted on this one. You can argue that there’s no difference in calling someone the N-word and repeating it as part of a story or a joke. You can also argue that there is a difference. My only argument is that there’s no consensus on this issue, and I think that employing the word in a story may be a better indicator of poor judgment than of racism. But that’s my take. Yours may be different.
It’s wild, though, that these two men shared this story live on-air back in the Eighties and no one said squat. In 2018, both lost their jobs simply because the story was re-told. Bob, Derek, if you’re out there, the first Papa John’s Pizza is on us.
Hawaiian Storm Update
Hurricane Lane: bearing down on Oahu
Little League World Series: Hawaii 10, New York 0. Is there a greater disparity between two U.S. islands than Oahu and Staten?
Just The Way You Are
How’s this for a debut solo single: the song goes to Number One on the Billboard charts and gets covered in the pivotal scene from Pitch Perfect the following year. Bruno Mars’ paean to a woman’s physical beauty remains, in our unenlightened opinion, his catchiest tune (but then again, that may be our PP bias showing).
Worth noting: Billy Joel’s 1977 song of the same title, his first big hit, peaked at No. 3.
Virginia Mayo Fest
TCM ALL DAY
Hold the Mayo!
You may have first heard her name when Roger Sterling set up newly single Don Draper with a blind date (played by Anna Camp) and referred to her as “a Virginia Mayo type.” The name hasn’t survived the decades, at least among casual moviegoers, but in the Fifties Mayo was a buxom starlet who got a lot of work. TCM is celebrating her all day as part of its “Summer of Stars” series with a bunch of films whose quality and entertainment value we are truly unable to assess: She’s Working Her Way Through College, The Big Land, Great Day In The Morning, Colorado Territory, Flaxy Martin and, of course, Backfire.
Mayo’s best film was The Best Years of Our Lives, which won Best Picture, but TCM aired that last night as part of its Dana Andrews day. So you already missed it. We should have alerted you. We’re sorry.
The only thing that would improve this is if we learned that was Karl Ravech’s suit…
Former presidential campaign chairman Paul Manafort is found guilty on eight counts of tax fraud. Former presidential lawyer Michael Cohen pleads guilty to five charges and tells the court that he was directed to make two payments in the hundreds of thousands of dollars “at the direction of the candidate.”
Donald Trump steps off Air Force One in West Virginia and in less than a minute of speaking says, “There was no collusion” four times, and also adds, “Believe me.” Just a few months earlier, while on that plane, he denied everything that Cohen would later admit.
I’m beginning to think these were not the Best People
What are the implications? Try here for Paul Manafort and here for Michael Cohen.
What’s next? This is just getting started.
2. Mollie Tibbets’ Body Found
Iowa student Mollie Tibbets went out for a run on July 18 and never returned. Yesterday, with the help of a neighbor’s home surveillance camera, police tracked down the man who abducted and allegedly killed her: 24 year-old Christhian Rivera, who is an undocumented immigrant from Mexico (so expect to hear Mollie’s name invoked often at Trump rallies from here on out).
It was two summers ago in New York when a young woman, Karina Vetrano, went for a jog in Queens and met a similar, grisly fate. Why do men have to suck at life so badly? I dunno.
3. Yemen Is Shameful
We follow Walker Bragman, a journalist, on Twitter and in the past few weeks he has made it his personal crusade to admonish all media for talking endlessly about Trump while ignoring the tragedy that is Yemen.
We dig Walker’s beef, but for almost all of us Yemen might as well be another planet. You don’t know anyone from Yemen, you’ve never been to Yemen, you’re never going to Yemen (certainly not now). And, you know, Walker, you could always travel to Yemen and cover this story yourself.
And yet, he definitely makes some cogent points. For example, last weekend 40 children on a bus were killed during an air strike by Saudi forces. What makes it particularly shameful is that the Saudis were using U.S.-made bombs.
4. Usain Down Under
Had you heard? The world’s fastest man, like, ever, Usain Bolt, has migrated to Australia to embark on a professional soccer career. The eight-time Olympic gold medalist is training with the Central Coast Mariners, a team that is located just a few miles up the coast from Sydney. Some lucky U.S. sports writer will be dispatched to Sydney (“OOOH, OOOH, Mr. Kotter! Pick me! Pick me!”) to chronicle Bolt’s avocational vacation.
5. Long Shot
That’s Ricardo Benitez, who stands 4’2″ and was born without femurs. He’s attempting to make Baylor’s football team as a walk-on. We don’t see any down side for coach Matt Ruhle to keep him on the roster, for no greater reason that with all the miscreantism associated with Baylor football the past few seasons during the Art Briles era, what’s wrong with a little inspirational message in the form of Benitez?
If Rudy was a hit, imagine how popular Ricardo may be (though it may be difficult to find an actor to play the role). This will almost certainly be Tom Rinaldi’s first feature on the first College GameDay. Here’s a tip for Tom: Your kicker can be that the last walk-on in Texas you read about wound up winning the Heisman Trophy in 2017.
You’re motoring/What’s your price for flight….In the summer of ’84, the best reason to own a lighter was so you could wave it during this song at a Night Ranger show. The band’s biggest hit, sung by its drummer (who’d written it for his sister), it would peak at number five on the charts. A dozen years later, the Canadian band’s power ballad would provide a meaningful backdrop during a highly tense scene in Boogie Nightsthat featured Mark Wahlberg, Thomsas Jane and Alfred Molina.
The Herbies: Preseason Special
8 p.m. ESPN
Everyone’s favorite college football toe-head (this side of Brock Huard), Kirk Herbstreit, does his John Madden thing at the student-athlete level. Expect to hear the name Bryce Love a bit. Good news, Irish fans: There’s not a single Notre Dame mention on the lists. This augurs well, believe it or not.
Korey Stringer’s death was the product of coaches not properly appreciating that 330-pound men shouldn’t be doing conditioning as if they were 180-pound men.
Death And Football
On Sunday writer and frequent friendly Twitter sparring partner of ours Patrick Hruby sent out this tweet:
“33 NCAA football players died playing the sport between 2000 and 2016, an average of two per season. Six of those deaths were traumatic, the result of injuries caused by collisions. The rest were non-traumatic, the result of intense exercise.”
I want you to read Patrick’s side of the story, which is well-articulated here in a piece that he wrote for The Guardian. The problem, particularly when someone pushes back on Twitter with reality, is that the Idealism Police come out in full force and reality takes a back seat.
To be clear, as someone who played six years of organized tackle football and spent August days such as this doing two-a-days in the Arizona desert heat: I’m quite personally familiar with the sadistic attitude toward conditioning that many a football coach has and I’m ALL in favor of having no deaths at all in the sport. The difference between Patrick and I, I believe, is that I do not believe the system can be made fatality-proof.
A few points here:
1. 33 deaths in college football between the years 2000-2016, when easily more than 20,000 young men (probably closer to 30,000, but I’ll skew low) per year play college football. So that’s less than 2 deaths per year, which means that 1/100th of 1% of players will die playing college football each year, i.e. one out of every 10,000 players. Now, eliminate the traumatic collision deaths from Patrick’s sample and we have 26 deaths over 17 years and now we’re at roughly one player out of every 12,500.
2. Of course, the Idealism Police will holler, “ANY DEATH IS TOO MANY DEATHS!” Fine. I’m all for censuring Maryland for failing to follow heat stroke protocols. Their negligence led to Jordan McNair’s death, it appears. I’m all for testing for sickle-cell traits. I already know that players undergo physicals before being cleared to play football in order that they can test for heart defects, etc.
3. Where Patrick and his followers and I part company is the idea that you can make football safe by creating workouts that will eliminate heat stroke, etc. And here’s why: no two athletes on a football field are built exactly the same. There’s the obvious differences in size between football teammates, which is why one Twitter follower’s attempt to silence me by noting how there were no collegiate track workout deaths in that same time is rather uninformed.
But there’s more than that: There are players who will dog a workout and there are those who will go past their limits. Women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma, early in his career, set up a workout designed to punish his players for staying out too late and drinking the night before. At each corner of the court he set up a garbage can. He basically ran them until the offenders began puking their guts out. Because no one died that afternoon, it’s a great anecdote and a footnote in the career of the most successful women’s basketball coach of all time. If someone had died, Geno might be selling life insurance in Altoona right now.
I want to address Pat’s pithy tweet about Hondas and known defects. Honda’s objective is to sell cars that transport people reliably and safely. Honda is not about building the fastest car, a vehicle faster than all of its competitors. Moreover, there are no variables in the Honda analogy: You have a defective part, you remove it.
What is the defective part in football workouts? The best answer that Patrick and his allies might provide is, Workouts that cause young men to die of heat stroke. Great. Name me a particular workout. How does that workout vary due to the person doing it and the weather conditions that day. A more accurate analogy would be to recall all Hondas because they are involved in fatal accidents.
(Moreover, as any actuary or automobile exec will tell you, the greatest defect in any automobile in terms of accidents is the person behind the wheel. You cannot eliminate human error without eliminating humans. Jordan McNair did not die because the proper protocols were not in place; he died because people who were paid to implement them failed to do so.)
As Patrick and I were bickering on Sunday, as he was tossing out the Honda analogy, a better analogy was playing out in real life. At the Pocono 500, Robert Wickens crashed and nearly died. Nearly, but not quite. Three years ago, in the same race on the same track, in a crash that was nowhere near as violent, Justin Wilson was killed because an errant part of a car that was in a wreck struck him in the helmet as he drove past. Wilson was not even involved in the accident.
By the way, there are far fewer professional race car drivers than college football players, and 124 of them have died since 2000.
4. Patrick’s answer, my guess would be, is that we just need to make football workouts safe enough so that no one dies. The problem is that’s finding the solution in the outcome, not in the process. And just like men driving Indy Cars are not like motorists driving Hondas, college football players are not simply people trying to stay fit.
Every team is trying to gain a competitive advantage on the other. One of the ways to do that is by being stronger, faster and fitter. I played a college sport. In crew, we reveled in how hard our off-season workouts were and tried to outdo one another. We joked all the time about how it had to be colder than 27 degrees outside for practice on the water to be canceled. Never mind that freezing point is 32 and what were we going to do if we caught a crab and got tossed into the St. Joe River when it was 28 degrees? That wasn’t going to be much fun.
I’ve spoken to college football players who would sneak into dorms that had weight-lifting equipment late at night, after their team workout room was closed, just so they could get in more lifting. These are elite athletes not just because of the gifts God gave them but because many of them love to push themselves to limits beyond most of us would find crazy or unsafe. They want to be the best.
Ryan Shay could run a sub-30 minute 10-K, and he died during a race.
Do I agree with Patrick that no one should die in an offseason workout? Of course. Does Patrick or any of the other well-meaning people on his timeline have a practical solution on how to monitor workouts while acknowledging that coaches and players at the FBS level are extremely competitive and looking to gain an edge on one another? Simply saying, “Just make it so that no one dies,” is not an answer.
As I pointed out on Twitter on Sunday, Ryan Shay was an elite men’s middle-distance runner and the NCAA champion in the men’s 10,000 meters. In November of 2007 Shay, in better physical condition than 99.99% of the humans on this planet, was participating in the Men’s Olympic Marathon Trials in New York City when his heart suddenly exploded. Running in Central Park, and relatively early in the race, he fell to the pavement and died instantly. Shit happens.
In two weeks college football games will begin in earnest. Some team is going to be blown out 49-0 or worse and no one, absolutely no one, is going to care if the coach on the losing side says, “We may have gotten destroyed, but we run positive and safe off-season conditioning and no one was hurt doing so. And that’s what we’re all about.”
I don’t like, as a former football player, that anyone dies doing the sport. And I agree that there are some asinine, sadistic and prehistoric approaches to conditioning. Here’s one: Why do any conditioning outside in the heat in shoulder pads and helmet? No need for it. And don’t tell me it recreates game conditions. No one does 10 gassers in a short stretch in a football game.
Yes, there are better methods out there. But I’m never going to insist that a 0.00% mortality rate is the only acceptable number. In any sport. Sports are about risk. As is life.
2. The Kids Are Alright*
*The judges are relieved that the headline did not need to be “Blood On The Tracks.” They will not accept “The Goat Escape.”
It’s the type of story that makes Pat Kiernan and the rest of the folks at New York 1 (the news channel for us locals) happy to be alive. It’s a story involving rogue goats, Brooklyn, our failing subway system and comedian Jon Stewart. What’s not to love?
As The New York Times aptly put it, yesterday morning in Brooklyn a pair of goats were “on the lam.” Where they came from, no one is sure, though there are a few slaughterhouses in the area (Do we eat goat? Did you know that?). Anyway, the goats were tranquilized (“Thanks A LOT!” says Harambe) and then noted wildlife preservationist (and this is why we at MH truly love him) Jon Stewart and his wife picked up the goats and drove them to Watkins Glen, N.Y., where they will live at a sanctuary.
It’s like The Great Escape except it has a happy ending.
3. Matinee Idyll
What’s wrong with this picture? (Answer: nothing)
We were slogging through a slow afternoon at the cookoutateria yesterday—overcast skies and no Yankee game on the horizon for later—when it occurred to us: here’s a summer window with absolutely NO sports on television. Why isn’t Major League Baseball filling the void? Why would it not do this every day?
Hence, our proposal: The Day Game. Every damn day of the week there should be at least one, and often just one, televised Major League Baseball game. How difficult is this? Answer: Not very.
Naysayers, because they always exist, will argue that this is difficult to do for Mondays and Fridays, since teams often travel on Sunday nights and after Thursday nights. Our short answer is, “Tough toenails,” but we’ll work with them.
A. Teams playing on Monday afternoon will never play Sunday Night Baseball, B) The Day Game can start as late as 3 p.m., particularly in July and August when the sun is out later, C) On Mondays and Fridays baseball would look for situations where the home team was home the day before and the visiting team is traveling a relatively short distance. Think the Brewers to Chicago or the Dodgers to San Diego or the Phillies to Washington.
Not only would baseball own that time slot, but kids out of school would be able to attend with more ease. Also, the day game would make the 6 p.m. SportsCenter.
It’s too easy. You’re welcome, Commissioner Manfred.
Tate had four games of more than 160 yards rushing last season, all versus Pac-12 foes.
–Alabama worthy of top ranking and the Tide have a relatively easy schedule. I’m sorry, an easy schedule. Tua Tagovailoa will start.
–Georgia, on the basis of how easy the Bulldogs’ schedule is, could’ve been No. 1.
–Wisconsin may be the best Big Ten squad, but Bucky plays AT Michigan and AT Penn State after September. They’ll have to earn it.
–The winner of Washington-Auburn should be ranked no lower than fourth after Week 1. There’s a clear separation after the top three teams.
It would be so 2018 if this year the Canes’ staff emphasized blocking kicks, thus ushering in the Blockchain
–We like Auburn, but the Tigers play U-Dub, Georgia and Alabama all away from Jordan-Hare. Won’t finish in Top 10.
–Oklahoma, Penn State and USC all lost players who went in the top three picks in the draft. The Trojans should not be in the Top 20.
–Miami’s Turnover Chain magical season is over. And they’ve lost some leadership. They’ll lose to LSU and at B.C. later in the season.
–We’re dubious on the Irish. Unproven running back and no one knows if Brandon Wimbush is accurate yet. Season really hinges on Week 1. After that, the schedule plays heavily in their favor.
–Arizona’s absence is a mystery. The Cats have arguably the nation’s most dynamic offensive player in Khalil Tate and a pair of true sophomores on defense who may be first-team All-Americans in Colin Schooler and Kylan Wilborn. If the Cats take down the Cougars (BYU and Houston) in Feline Fests in Weeks 1 and 2, watch out.
5. Les Mets-erables
The New York Mets of 2018 are not very good, but they’re also not boring. One day ace Jacob deGrom is pitching a gem and earning no run support. The next, the Mets are scoring 40 runs, literally within a 24-hour span (seriously; think about that). Or crushing the Phillies in Williamsport, Pa., as they did Sunday evening.
Then last night, at Citi Field, they’re into the 13th inning against the San Francisco Giants. The score is knotted at 1-1, and the erstwhile Polo Grounds inhabitants have runners on 1st and 3rd, two outs. Brandon Crawford lifts a hiigggggh fly ball out to shallow left field. Shortstop Amed Rosario drifts beneath it. Left fielder Dominic Smith, who ordinarily plays first base, races toward it.
Mets lose, 2-1.
Head To Toe
Vintage mid-Eighties dance tune here from Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam: note the electronic, hexagonal drums and the lead singer who looks vaguely like one of the Jacksons. Lisa Velez was born in Hell’s Kitchen, NYC. This song actually rose to No. 1 on the Billboard charts in June of 1987. Could Paula Abdul be that far behind?
Dallas Wings at Phoenix Mercury
7 p.m . ESPN2
Cambage, at 6’8″, is a load
Diana Taurasi of the Mercury is the all-time leading scorer in WNBA history. Liz Cambage of the Wings will easily win the league’s Most Valuable Player award this season, as she leads the league in scoring and is second in boards. It’s a single-elimination game, though it’ll be interesting how rowdy the local crowd will be: 4 p.m. on an August afternoon in Phoenix is peak siesta time.
In the 1970s the first African-American cop in the history of the Colorado Springs police department successfully infiltrated the local chapter of the Klu Klux Klan, embedding himself so deeply into the hate group he actually had phone conversations with its top-ranking officer, David Duke. In so doing, the rookie detective helped prevent an attack on black activists.
The film based on that true story, BlackKkKlansman, has now been out for over a week as I write this, and now that its director, Spike Lee and its stars have done enough national press, it all sounds slightly less implausible. That cop, Ron Stallworth, did most of the legwork by phone, and his white partner served as his stand-in during meetings. OK, that makes sense. We like it when all the steps that led to a satisfying conclusion can be explained to us, from A to Z, especially at the movies.
And still … taking one leap back here … is this not the most amazing “truth-is-stranger-than-fiction” plot you’ve ever heard? When I first read what the movie was about on its IMDB.com page, I chuckled reflexively because it seemed so absurd. In a talented director’s hands, the script would have been the star. It could have played out as a police procedural sprinkled with moments of levity against all that racism and been a very good movie. Lee dug even deeper here, and after his A through Z, he does not give us that satisfying conclusion for very long.
Spike does this thing where he places his camera practically nose-to-nose with his performers, just his or her face in the frame. It could be in the middle of a thought or speech, and it forces everyone in the audience to PAY ATTENTION. That’s how he starts this movie — after a famous clip from Gone with the Wind — a close-up of Alec Baldwin as a narrator of a racist newsreel of a different era, at times fumbling his lines to comic effect but mostly just spewing all kinds of hate and misinformation. The short film sets the tone immediately – this is the thinking that Stallworth will be up against, and the buffoons that embody it – and it’s no accident that most of us now know Baldwin as the guy who plays our present-day President on SNL.
There’s a close-up of Stallworth soon thereafter, played with volts of electricity by John David Washington (Denzel’s son, as you probably already know), checking his Afro and then striding confidently into the Colorado Springs police precinct for the first time. You know then and there he would need every pound of that swagger in the days ahead. Then, once again, Lee shoots close on Stallworth’s face when the new cop is asked if he can handle being called the n-word by a fellow officer. He responds, “That would happen?” and the answer I won’t reveal except to say it should make fans of the HBO series “The Wire” happy.
The rookie finally gets out of the case file room when the force asks him to go undercover at a Colorado College event, where a man affiliated with the Black Panther party, Kwame Ture, is speaking. And man, that speech is a hammer. I watched the film in a packed NYC theater on a Friday night, and many in the crowd cheered along as the movie’s extras cheered along. And OK, again, there are tight shots of Ture (played by Corey Hawkins) as he motors proudly through his speech, with cutaways of close-ups of the faces in the crowd, at times floating on a black screen. Pay attention.
When Stallworth reports back to his bosses that while Ture’s words suggest a violent uprising is in the works, he believes it’s all just rhetoric. A white cop who would then be his partner/proxy for most of the film, played by Adam Driver, agrees. Driver’s character is revealed to be Jewish and he also gets that Lee close-up, halfway through a two-shot in the back of that file room (you knowthe director got the C/U take he wanted from Driver, a special one, as he may not have broken the continuity of the scene if he hadn’t). He explains to Stallworth that he never actually thought about being Jewish before until this assignment, and now, faced with the casual assholery and anti-Semitism of the KKK on a daily basis, he thinks about it all the time.
That’s a theme in this one. The KKK is shown as buffoonish and blind in scene after scene, with Stallworth on the phone and the Driver character in the field, always a step ahead to crowd-pleasing effect. And yet, the story explains, the KKK’s hate speech brings with it a devoted fan base capable of terrible things. In the film, David Duke, played low-key and milquetoast by Topher Grace, preaches white superiority almost casually to his devotees, as if ordering from a restaurant menu. The movie has a quick moment – almost stolen — where Stallworth tells a police sergeant he can’t believe such a hate-filled person could gain political power in the ‘70s. Then that sergeant warns if the country isn’t careful, and I’m paraphrasing, a person of that ilk could become the leader of the free world.
There are talented people out there who can write far more eloquently and forcefully about the current political climate, the fracturing of America, and how this movie ends, with Donald Trump front and center after the events of the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville. I will say in the year that followed so much horseshit has happened under this administration that there’s a real danger of becoming numb to the smell. Lee is one of those artists that will slap you out of that numbness. He’s been doing that to me since I first watched Do the Right Thing, on VHS, my jaw on the floor after Mookie threw that garbage can through Sal’s Pizzeria window.
By virtue of some filmmaking training, I now see Spike’s close-up shots when they happen, and I notice exactly when Terrence Blanchard’s score swells over certain moments. I understand how he made some scenes feel like a ‘70s exploitation film, and why he used his famed tracking shot in the epilogue. And how through editing and some fine writing he gave an epic and just middle finger to Birth of a Nation. Yes, I do see all of that technique and I respect it. Still, Lee’s movies hit me harder in the gut. BlackKkKlansmanset out to make me uncomfortable, and succeeded.
2. Poc-OH NO*
*The judges will also accept “Something Wickens This Way Comes…And It Appears To Be On Spinning” but not “Sunday Driver.”
Indy Car rookier driver Robert Wickens, 29, is lucky—funny, I don’t feel lucky—to be alive today after surviving this crash just eight laps into the Pocono 500 in Long Pond, Pa., yesterday.
Wickens was airlifted off the track and has injuries to his lower extremities and spine. After a two-hour delay, the race continued and Alexander Rossi won.
3. Convent-ional Toss*
*The judges will reluctantly accept “Glory To God In The Highest Days”
If you missed it, here’s Sister Mary JoSobieck of Marian Catholic High School throwing out the first pitch of the Chicago White Sox game on Saturday (True Confession: We had a crush on our 4th grade teacher, Sister Mary Jo, at St. James School; of course it would have never worked…the age difference and all; for all we know, this may be her).
You may remember that last April Sister Jean, the unofficial mascot of Loyola during its Final Four run, threw out the first pitch at a Chicago Cubs game. So of course the team from the South Side had to find a nun of their own. Breaking News: Sister Mary Jo will have to undergo Doubting Tommy John surgery.
4. An Inconvenient Truth Is Not Truth
Every time you think you’ve reached bottom with the clown show that is the Rudy Giuliani tent of The Worst Wing, the former mayor of New York City goes lower than the L train crossing the East River. Here he was on Meet The Pressyesterday, telling host Chuck Todd that “truth is not truth.”
Todd, to his credit, appeared to recognize that this was a new benchmark in prevarication for the Trump White House. Meanwhile on Twitter, Rudy’s boss referred to John Dean, the man whose testimony helped bring down the Nixon presidency, as “a RAT.” As someone on Twitter posited, “that’s kind of a tell.”
5. Football And Abuse
We’ll soon see the findings from Ohio State’s investigation of the Urban Meyer accusations, and emotions are high. Mine are too. Here’s why: pic.twitter.com/GVjC4KmGyb
Here’s ESPN analyst, human mountain and former NFL lineman Trevor Matich sharing his own story of growing up in a family of domestic abuse (you gotta think, HOW BIG was Matich’s dad and at what age was Trevor finally able to stand up to him?).
Ironic to see the #Vikings get bit by the Aaron Rodgers rule first. 15-yard roughing the passer penalty for using weight to drive QB into the ground pic.twitter.com/MmvwvINOPb
And here’s an outstanding sack by Minnesota Viking lineman Antwione Williams, who came off the edge unblocked, that was flagged as roughing the passer, a.k.a. The Aaron Rodgers Rule. This is ridiculous. Now the NFL doesn’t even know what a tackle is. They best get this straightened out before Week 1.
The best film we’ve seen at the theaters this year is not even a film yet: it’s the under-3 minute trailer for A Star Is Born, starring Bradley Cooper and Lady Ga Ga and directed by Cooper. The film itself premieres on October 5 and has thus far bypassed opportunities to be screened at major film festivals such as Cannes and Telluride.
Why? The studio, and Cooper, know that they have a monster hit on their hands and don’t want the hype to peak too early. We found this interview with Sean Penn, who has no connection to the film other than that he had a chance to screen it, telling. Penn doesn’t kiss anyone’s ass (unless it’s a Mexican drug lord).
This isn’t the first time we’ve hyped this film in this space, but we’re only doing so because we want to ride shotgun on this bandwagon. And, too, it’s rare that you watch a trailer that satisfies you more than most films do. Cooper is going to take home one, probably two Oscars next February. The film may also win Best Picture and don’t be surprised if Stefanie Germanotta (Ga Ga) takes home a statuette, too.
Oscar Wins: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Song (with at least two being nominated in that category). Our only quibble is that 20 or more years after You’ve Got Mail, Dave Chappelle is still playing the black buddy/romantic adviser to the white dude in love.
They weren’t exactly the Go Go’s, but The Flirts had a hit with this song in 1982. The group was actually the brainchild of musician Bobby “O” Orlando, who wrote the songs, played the instruments and auditioned the ladies to carry out his brilliant scheme. The girls were interchangeable, as the The Flirts went through many incarnations as long as there was one blonde, one brunette and one redhead.
2018 MTV Video Awards
9 p.m. MTV and BET
In the 1980s and early 1990s, this was a thing. A pretty big thing. Not anymore. But Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj will perform from Radio City Music Hall, and Madonna just turned 60 last week, so maybe they’ll at least throw her a shout-out. She practically built that channel.