IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right

Starting Five

The Federal Reserve Bank which, to our knowledge, does not even have an ATM in the lobby

Fed X

As Fed Ex stock was tanking (a friend observed that this is the company’s worst week since Tom Hanks’ plane ditched in the Pacific), the Federal Reserve, ignoring the pleas of President Trump and investors, raised interest rates for the fourth time this season. This would be extremely troubling news, we decided, if we knew what it meant. So we decided to look it up.

Without getting all Alan Greenspan on you, the federal interest rate is the lending rank between banks. All U.S. banks must maintain a certain amount of cash on reserve, and Susie B. and her Amazon windfall cannot fund all of them (especially not now). So they lend and borrow between one another, and yesterday, for the seventh time since Trump took office, the Fed voted to an incremental raise in rates.

The Fed almost never, if at all, raised rates during the Obama presidency as the country was struggling to recover from the sub-prime mortgage crisis. Curiously, raising the federal interest rate has the most profound effect on mortgage (and to a degree, credit card) rates.

Okay, we may have gotten at least half of this wrong. We know. We know. We KNOW! Stick to sportsball.

2. Who’ll Stop The Rain Suns?

How often does this happen? An NBA team that has won 14.3% of its games nearly midway through the season DOUBLES its win total in one week. Ladies and gentleman, your 2018-2019 Phoenix Suns, who won their fourth in a row in Boston last night to leap from 4-24 one week ago to 8-24.

Playoffs!

The return of All-Star caliber guard Devin Booker from injury has had something to do with Phoenix’s resurgence (if only there were a mythical figure that could serve as a metaphor here), as he scored 25 (he scored 38 at MSG two nights earlier). What Suns fans should love is that rookie DeAndre Ayton put together an impressive 23-18 night. Oft-overlooked T.J. Warren had 21 and for the second year in a row is averaging better than 18 ppg.

The Suns had lost 10 in a row before this win streak began. What happened? Well, the W streak does coincide with 90 year-old fan Greta Rogers tearing owner Robert Sarver a new one. Makes us wonder why Gov. Ducey appointed Martha McSally to take John McCain’s place and not Greta?

3. Syria Later

Our work here is done

In the last 24 hours, the White House has apparently caved on its demands for funding the border wall or else and has announced that the U.S. military will pull out of Syria. Someone just wants to get away to Florida and play golf, no?

In a video message posted yesterday our Supreme Leader said, “We have won against ISIS. We’ve beaten them and we’ve beaten them badly. We’ve taken back the land and now it’s time for our troops to come back home. I get very saddened when I have to write letters or call parents or wives or husbands of soldiers who have been killed fighting for our country.

“So our boys, our young women, our men, they’re all coming back and they’re coming back now. We won, and that’s the way we want it.” Trump then pointed to the sky and said, “And that’s the way they want it.”
Seriously. Is this any way to run a massive Military Industrial Complex???
Everyone, even the president, has a boss. And you know who his boss may just be? Vladimir Putin, who’s thrilled that the U.S. is exiting stage alt-right. And certainly this other maneuver is just a coincidence?

4. The Year In Pictures: New York Times Edition

Today’s edition of 2018 In Pictures, compiled by The New York Times here and including this iconic shot by Joe Raedle of Getty Images, is incredible. Give yourself five minutes and peruse.

5. Leo!

Gay. Vegetarian. Never married. Animal lover. Lefty (in terms of dexterity, but possibly politically). Often out of work. No, we’re not talking about us (I’m a righty), but instead Leonardo da Vinci, whose biography, by Walter Isaacson, we’re currently working our way through.

Funny anecdote: When he turned 30 Leonardo wrote the ruler of Milan looking for a job. In the first 10 paragraphs of his missive he noted most of his manifold skills, e.g. technical, engineering, etc. Finally, in his 11th and last paragraph, the man who’d go on to create the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper wrote, “Also, I can paint.”

Buried the lede there, Leo.

Music 101

Friday I’m In Love

Robert Smith likes to say of this 1992 hit by The Cure that it’s exactly the kind of happy, poppy song that is for people who are NOT fans of The Cure. “I don’t care if Monday’s blue” is a direct reference to the song from a decade or so earlier by New Order. Yes, we are aware that today is Thursday…

Remote Patrol

A Charlie Brown Christmas

8 p.m. ABC

Feels as if this has already aired this season, but who cares? If there can be non-stop sappy romcom Christmas films on The Hallmark Channel, why isn’t there a channel designated to air your favorite childhood Christmas specials THE WEEK BEFORE Christmas? For now, bravo, ABC! There may be no Christmas special that treats its prepubescent viewers more like adults than this one. There’s even great jazz piano and a gospel reading.

 

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right

Who’s hungry for pancakes?!?

Starting Five

“Here come the judge, here come the judge, here come the judge…”

1. The Wrath of Emmet

We’ve heard of crooks receiving suspended sentences, but rare is the moment when the sentencing itself is suspended. That’s what happened in a D.C. courtroom yesterday when 71 year-old federal judge Emmet Sullivan went off on an 8-minute screed against former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, saying, “You sold your country out” and “I’m not going to hide my disgust, my disdain…”

Then again, who better to be judgmental than a federal judge (answer: your mother-in-law)? After a recess it was decided that Flynn will not be sentenced until March, while Sullivan hinted there will likely be jail time. Flynn must surrender his passport and will no longer be able to travel more than 50 miles outside of D.C. So he may still attend Wizards games (that may be the punishment, actually).


If you’re scoring at home, Cohen guilty, Manafort guilty, Flynn guilty. Where there’s fire, there’s fire.

2. Penny From Heaven

Marshall directing Hanks in “Big”

You may know her primarily as an L.A. Laker fan, but Penny Marshall, who passed away yesterday at the age of 75, was a comic actress who had a highly successful foray into films behind the camera.

It all began for Marshall, as it did for Robin Williams, with a guest-shot on Happy Days. There she and Cindy Williams (as Laverne DeFazio and Shirley Feeney) appeared as either blind dates for Richie (Ron Howard) and Fonzie (Henry Winkler) or backup singers for the Fonz or maybe both. I forget; I barely was allowed to stay up that late. The year was 1975.

The episode was a smash, Penny’s big brother happened to be the creator of Happy Days (which was for a few seasons THE hottest sitcom in America back when that really, really mattered) and by next season a spin-off, Laverne & Shirley, which aired immediately after Happy Days on Tuesday nights, was on the air (which provided the big career break for Michael McKean). It was “just a spinoff,” but it was also the top-rated show on television for two consecutive years in the late Seventies.

Marshall went on to direct Big and A League Of Their Own (the latter of which resurrected Tom Hanks career and remains our favorite performance of his).

3. Antarctica Adventure Race

Not sure if you were following this story, but American Colin O’Brady and Brit Louis Rudd are racing one another across Antarctica because, after all, it’s late spring there and positively balmy. As one of the (ahem) few bloggers you know who (humblebrag alert) has actually raced across Antarctica, I can assure you this ain’t easy (although just getting there is half the challenge).

O’Brady an Rudd are 46 days into their odyssey across Antarctica, which we remind you is a continent larger than the United States (Alaska included) or Europe (although somewhat less populated than either). As this New York Times story details, the two disembarked from the same plane on November 3rd and started their treks across the bleak, desolate and wind-swept landscape about 10 minutes apart.

Whoever wins, assuming one (or both) finishes, will become the first man to have trekked solo across the continent.

4. Photo Shoppe

Photo editors from ABC News selected 38 favorite photos from 2018 because nothing works on the web quite like a slide show. This one, shot by Andrew Carter of the Raleigh News & Observer during the North Carolina floods earlier this autumn, stands out. But then we do love kitties.

5. Brooklyn Block Party!

We’d like a poster of this, please. The Nets’ Jarrett Allen gives an early Christmas present to Susie B. by blocking this attempted dunk by LeBron “Sweet Pea” James. Talk about skyscrapers. The Nets (8-14) defeated the Lakers in Brooklyn, 115-110, for their sixth straight victory, giving them the longest current win streak in the NBA .

Meanwhile, the Denver Nuggets are atop the Western Conference, and someone really ought to inform ESPN and The Big Lead about this development. Me, I’m just going to wait for The Ringer’s 5,000-word think piece on how the public/media aspirational obsession with the Lakers is just a Samuel Beckett play being transferred to sport.

Music 101

Little Drummer Boy

I remember being an 11 year-old boy for Christmas ’77 and seeing this pairing, near the end of Bing Crosby’s Christmas special (the Christmas special that did not introduce the AP All-America team), and not quite being able to understand it. I mean, Was this the same guy?

You gotta hand it to Bing, though. The Gonzaga grad did iconic duets over the years with Fred Astaire, Frank Sinatra and here, Ziggy Stardust.

Remote Patrol

Relatable

Netflix

Ellen DeGeneres‘ first stand-up gig in 15 years. What’s she been doing with herself all this time? According to The New York Times, she’s not as nice as we thought. Horrors!

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

 

Starting Five

Butler Did It!

In famed Nazare, Portugal, 29 year-old Tom Butler of Great Britain rides what may have been the tallest wave anyone has ever surfed. At least with video evidence. Butler rode this monster, which he believes may have measured in at 100-feet tall, last Saturday.

Butler has yet to receive confirmation as to whether he broke the world record. He’ll probably learn of it at the Big Wave Awards in April. Still, how will they fit both Butler and his cojones in the same hall?

2. Strawberry Fields? Forever. Justin Fields? For One Season

The nation’s No. 2 quarterback recruit from a year ago, Justin Fields, is planning to transfer from Georgia, according to our pal Dan Wolken of the USA Today. Fields was last seen not aborting a midfield punt-fake on 4th-and-11 with the score tied at 28 versus Bama, though perhaps it wasn’t the Kirby Smart-est maneuver to even put a true freshman  in that spot?

Fields backed up true sophomore Jake Fromm all season and Fromm will definitely be in Athens at least one more season, if not two.

The No. 1 QB from a year ago, Trevor Lawrence, will start for Clemson in a national semi.

If you’re wondering where the QBs on the final four teams were ranked nationally overall as players coming out of high school, Lawrence was first, Tua Tagovailoa of the Tide was 32nd, Kyler Murray of Oklahoma was 34th and Ian Book of Notre Dame was 514th. ‘Cruitin!

3. Did Dassey Do It?

Bobby Dassey

(SPOILER ALERT: This item concerns Season 2 of Making A Murderer. If you plan on seeing it, skip).

We finished Season 2 of Making A Murderer in a huff of suspense late last night and we feel compelled to ask: How many people besides Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey, who are innocent, were involved in the murder of Teresa Halbach?

Here’s what our gumshoe-ing produces: Manitowoc County had 36 million reasons to pin this murder on Avery. Brendan was collateral damage, as the prosecution needed a witness to bolster its case.

Knowing what we now know, that his older, intimidating and torture-porn obsessed brother Bobby probably did it, we can understand why Brendan was so loathe to share detail during his police interview. Maybe he knew that his big brother had done something to Halbach, and maybe he was afraid of his brother. The special never offers this interpretation, by the way, that perhaps all along Brendan figured he was fingering his brother as opposed to his uncle.

Colborn: Dirty cop

But what about ex-boyfriend Ryan Hillegas? He’s certainly involved in some fashion, because he had access to the day planner in Teresa’s RAV 4 before it was found in the Avery salvage yard. And Avery’s brother-in-law Steven Tadych, not relate to him at the time of the murder, certainly seems to know something. And then there’s good ol’ Sgt. Andy Colborn, who for the second consecutive Avery case, passes on offering exculpatory information on Avery (he’s told by someone that they spotted the RAV4 parked off the highway two days prior to it being discovered in the Avery lot).

Our best guess: Bobby Dassey did it. The cops somehow got involved with Hillegas to frame Avery. Tadych, we’re not sure if he was part of the conspiracy. Again, 36 million reasons for the County to want to see Avery in jail and never leave. He’s now 56 years old and has spent more than 30 years of his life in jail for not one but two crimes he never committed.

And yes, that coroner interview near the end of the final episode is chilling. Proof of the conspiracy that Ken Kratz was also in on, and perhaps even the judge in the trial.

Two more things: Most of the 10-part Season 2 is overly drawn out and highly forensic. Coulda been about three episodes shorter, but it really begins cooking midway through Episode 8. Two, as much as we liked and rooted for the Northwestern law professor, she got her ass handed to her in the en banc hearing. Painful to listen to.

4. Traitor

As we type this, former National Security Adviser and four-star general Michael Flynn is being sentenced for his role in working with the Russians post-election of Donald Trump. Judge Emmet Sullivan admonished him, “You should your country out” and then asked prosecutors if they felt Flynn’s actions rose “to the level of treasonous activity.” They declined to affirm or refuse.

The sentencing is coming this afternoon. Hanging used to be the punishment for treason. We haven’t had a good hanging in awhile.

5. Lunar Letter To Steph

Note: An old and good friend of ours, a high school buddy who started on a very talented varsity hoops squad and then graduated from Stanford and became a lawyer, has long held that the moon landing was a fraud. His primary argument, as we understand it, is that the reentry vehicle was traveling at far too great a velocity to reenter the earth’s atmosphere without burning up and that if it attempted to do so at a less direct angle, it would bounce right back out of the atmosphere (Do we have that correct, Mike?) He’s written an open letter to Stephen Curry:

Dear Steph Curry,

I understand you have doubts (or “jokes”) about the Apollo Lunar Landings. I am just writing to tell you that you need to be a little more discreet and circumspect when expressing the obvious. You see, when you state your true humorous feelings (i.e. that the official Lunar Landing story might be fantastical and ridiculous) you will receive immediate backlash from people who will call you crazy.

Even your good friends will start to question your sanity. They will talk to you about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, whether the Earth might be flat, and UFO’s. So, in the future when you question the Lunar Landings, please express your doubts in the form of a question. Asking a question is a much better way of expressing your justified disbelief.

Thus, instead of saying that the Lunar Landings were faked, ask a question like this: How could it be possible for the Apollo 11 Command Module to utilize the re-entry corridor when the Command Module was traveling at escape velocity after the Trans Earth Injection? Seriously, there are professors in astrophysics who will not know the answer to that question above, because some astrophysicists simply never bothered to discover that the so-called re-entry corridor was nothing more than an elliptical orbit with the perigee inside the Earth’s atmosphere. The problem is that the Command Module cannot be in orbit around the Earth while traveling at escape velocity.

When you ask questions like this, you make the scientists think, and you make the morons shut their mouths. So, it is a win-win. Even though your ultimate conclusion might be incorrect, you would still be advancing science by asking a relevant and important question.

Also, do not be fooled by NASA offering you the opportunity to see the Moon rocks up close. The Moon rocks are almost identical to Earth rocks. Most theories about the formation of the Moon posit that either the Moon broke off from the Earth, or else the Moon and Earth were both formed out of the same cataclysmic collision.

And, do not be fooled by the uproar from certain people who are suggesting that asking questions about the Lunar Landings will hurt science. That is hogwash, because the scientific method is all about asking questions and discovering the truth. You cannot hurt science by asking questions. Indeed, you should never trust anyone who tells you to stop trying to learn.

Here are some more questions that you should ask NASA: What was the terminal velocity of the Apollo 11 Command Module at an altitude of one hundred thousand feet above the Earth? How were you able to measure Apollo 11’s angle of Earth entry with such precision? How were you able to measure Apollo 11’s velocity at Earth entry with such precision? What were the margins of error for your angle and velocity and altitude measurements for Apollo 11’s Earth entry?

Anyway, Steph, I wish you luck.

Yours Truly, Michael Thomas DePaoli

Note: Our friend, despite having been a liberal arts major, developed two engineering inventions that have been patented. He’s no dummy. And this writer is not edjumicated enough to tell him why he’s wrong, or right. So if you or anyone you know dabbles in astrophysics and is able to clear this up, it would save we, his friends, a lot of hours of discussing the film Capricorn One and what-not in the future. Thanks.

Music 101

Walkin’ On Water

When we were growing up in Arizona, an annual New Year’s Eve tradition was the Jerry Riopelle concert at the Celebrity Theater. We never went but you can still see Riopelle, who must be in his 70s, play in Scottsdale on the 28th and 29th later this month. Riopelle patented something called the Beamz music system, which involves lasers and we don’t understand it, but he owns homes in Hawaii and Scottsdale, so he’s doing okay.

Remote Patrol

Springsteen on Broadway

Netflix

We could write 5,000 words about how intimately we connect with the Boss and this show, how we both hail from Monmouth County/the Jersey Shore, how we both had tough but caring fathers (“He was my hero, and my greatest foe”), how we both have moms who “would talk to a broom handle” and were legal secretaries and could light up any room, how one of us is internationally acclaimed and the other just wrote “Thunder Road.” How we were able to see this show (thanks, Paula!) and found ourselves seated next to Ed Sheeran (seriously).

Be forewarned: This is not a concert film. This is closer to VH1: Storytellers on steroids. Bruce will play many of his hits, but almost none in the way in which you are used to listening to them. The humor, the pathos, the history of the man is what should compel you to view this.

Anyone, as incredible a performer as Springsteen is, he’s a better person. And writer. Let the broken hearts stand as the price you gotta pay…

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right

Starting Five

1. Babes In Thailand*

*The judges feel confident that at last they nailed a headline.

The Miss Universe pageant aired from Thailand last night (It couldn’t have aired live, could it? Would it be like, what, 9 a.m. over there?) and let us tell you, you just can’t strut onto that stage with your hourglass figure any more and hope to compete.

Miss Venezuela? Law student.

Venezuela

Miss South Africa? Medical student.

Miss Vietnam? Donated all her winnings from winning the Vietnam pageant to building a library in the jungle. That is SUCH A POWER MOVE.

All three of them were in the final five, but none of them won. Miss Philippines won, although our scorecard had it South Africa, Venezuela and Canada (top 10, but eliminated after the evening gown competition). We wonder if South Africa finished 2nd because the reigning Miss U. is also from South Africa. These are the types of rulings that keep us up at night; we don’t concern ourselves with whether someone completed the process of the catch. This is more important.

2. Hostmaster General

Matt Damon hosted Saturday Night Live for the first time since 2001 this past weekend (we mistakenly thought it was his 2nd time this season, forgetting that he did not host when he played Brett Kavanaugh in an October cold open) and he rocked. It was easily the strongest episode of the season.

The cold open, “It’s A Wonderful Trump,” imagined a world in which Trump had never been elected and Damon even had a role in that (hosts rarely if ever appear in cold opens). He then put together a heartfelt monologue and tore it up in every sketch he was in, including “Westminster Daddy” and the “Weezer Argument.” He even played Will Hunting in one sketch and appeared as Tommy, the fighter husband/boyfriend to Heidi Gardner’s recurring Angel character on “Weekend Update” (“I’m taking the kids to my sister’s”). 

Also, Colin Jost dared to tell the most politically incorrect joke of the season on WU. Noting that Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari had been embroiled in a controversy as to whether he is a body double of a dead version of himself, Jost said, “See? Even Africans can’t tell black people apart.”

Michael Che laughed. So did we.

3. Biden His Time

According to a poll of potential Iowa caucus-attendees (And by the way, is this any way to run the world’s most powerful country?), Joe Biden is the top Democratic nominee for 2020. Folks are already discussing a potential Biden-Beto ticket, which would be almost the exact inverse of The West Wing‘s Matt Santos-Leo McGarry ticket (that won; oops, spoiler alert).

They’re even both from Texas!

If you saw “Weekend Update” do a riff on this item, they noted that the boxed set of The West Wing would finish in the top 10 of this poll. I’d say Top 5.

4. White House Coverup

Here’s West Wing Aryan Nation sadist Stephen Miller appearing of Face The Nation yesterday morning. And here he is earlier this year…

As some tweep noted on Sunday: “He was hoping we would Nazi the difference.”

5. Cinema Mexico

This was us 20 minutes into Roma…

So we sat down and viewed Roma over the weekend (you can see it on Netflix). If we were teaching a film class, we’d assign a 10-page paper comparing and contrasting Roma and Shoplifters. Both are foreign films centered around non-traditional family units where near the end of the film everyone  goes to the beach so that we can all symbolically acknowledge where we originated from as a species. The sea is home.

Okay, so Roma. We’ve asked our resident film critic, Chris Corbellini, to review it and let’s hope he can find some time during the holiday season. For us, the overarching themes are that men are bad people and women are bad drivers. But we’ll give you one scene to illustrate what Alfonso Cuaron does in a plethora of scenes: Cleo, our knocked-up house maid protagonist, travels to a rural enclave of Mexico City to confront the deadbeat who knocked her up. As she walks from the train, some sort of political rally is taking place and in the background you see a man being shot out of a cannon into a net. The camera does not focus on him and if you only focus on Cleo you miss it.

Stuff like this happens throughout the film (the fire scene is the best; pay attention to everything happening in the background). Most of the shots are panoramic tracking shots  of a main character but there is so much going on in the background, intricately staged and choreographed but made to look happenstance. This is Cuaron telling a larger story but also, let’s face it, showing off. This is why the critics are agog over this movie. Hints of Fellini.

We found the story rather languorously told and, well, meh. But you can appreciate the artistry of it all. SPOILER ALERT: We mean, the final scene of the film is of our beloved Cleo doing something so incredibly, well, domestic. As a jumbo jet flies overhead (how did Cuaron cue up the planes to fly overhead at just the right times???). That’s the big finish.

It’s no Spider-Man Into The Spider Verse.

Note: The woman who plays Cleo is a pre-school teacher. She had never acted before. She’s  magnificent in the role. How difficult is this acting thing, anyway?

Music 101

Crooked Teeth

Ben Gibbard, lead vocalist and spiritual center of Death Cab For Cutie, wrote this 2006 song as his quasi-ode to short story master Raymond Carver.

Remote Patrol

8 p.m. TCM

Lady On A Train

There’s this woman, see? And she’s on a choo choo. What’s not to love?

CHRIS PICKS!

by Chris Corbellini

The no-time-for-analysis edition…

Washington (+7.5) covers vs. JACKSONVILLE

Dallas (+3) over INDIANAPOLIS
LA RAMS (-13) over Philadelphia
NY GIANTS (+1.5) over Tennessee
Last week: 2-2

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right


Donald Trump, Adderall addict. Surprised?

Starting Five

Netflix And Oscar

When the history of movies and/or entertainment is compiled, today will be remembered. This is the day that a future Oscar-winning Best Picture, Roma, made its premiere not at a Loews or an AMC or even at an Alamo Draft House, but rather on your computer or TV streaming service.

Director Alfonso Cuaron‘s black-and-white nostalgia peek at Mexico in the 1970s, universally acclaimed as a “masterpiece,” is now streaming on Netflix. You can literally wake up, reach for your laptop and watch an Oscar-worthy film before you put on pants today (not that we’re doing that…..NOOOOOOOO….nooooo…..we’re waiting until it’s night time).

2. Billy, GOAT

If you don’t know who Billy Eichner is or quite get his manic energy with “Billy On The Street”, here’s an excellent introductory video guest-starring Lin-Manuel Miranda. For you out-of-towners, Eichner does almost all of this schtick in the sweet-spot area between Union Square and Washington Square Park. Union Square is the REAL Times Square for us New Yorkers. It’s where we hang. The rest of ‘y’all can have Tickle Me, Elmo and Times Square to yourselves.

Our favorite lines: “YOU MIGHT WANNA DECIDE THAT BEORE YOU GO TO VIETNAM!” and “IT’S LIKE PITBULL IF PITBULL WENT TO VASSAR!”

You have to wonder what his batting average on these encounters is. How many does he do in proportion to how many make air?

3. Screamin’ A Dope Call

Bloviator Extreme and Master Charlatan Screamin’ A. Smith, who does know his hoops and just pretends about everything else (and how is he different than any other sports talk radio host in that regard?), goes on air yesterday morning and comes off as combo of “Second-Hand News Guy” and “Drunk Uncle.” Bobby Moynihan would be proud.

First, he notes that he’s looking for big things from Spencer Ware. Kellerman: “Spencer Ware is out.”

Then he mentions Hunter Henry (hasn’t played all season) and Derrick Johnson (no longer on team). The look on Tedy Bruschi‘s face is just begging for the credits theme music from Curb Your Enthusiasm. SAS makes so many personnel errors that you almost overlook that he says, “San Diego Chargers,” though we all hope for that, no?

At least the Charger social media crew had some fun with it…

 

What the dude says in that video is correct: “In fairness to Screamin’ A, he’s probably being asked to do too many things at ESPN.” And that’s true. And I’ll never understand why. But I’m not his target demo.

4. The Lion King


The headline reads, “Lion Steals Video Camera, Records Journey,” and step aside Alfonso Cuaron, because he’s your 2019 Best Picture Oscar winner. Maybe Best Documentary? As we imagine it, our protagonist/director embarks on an incredible journey of vengeance as he travels to the strange and faraway land of Minneapolis, Minnesota, to avenge the death of Cecil by tearing Dr. Wayne Palmer to shreds.

Think “The Revenant” meets “Lassie Come Home.” We’ll see it every day and twice on Sundays.

5. When You Realize Austin Powers Didn’t Go Far Enough

Music 101

Guess Who I Saw Today

Nancy Wilson—jazz, not Heart—passed away today at the age of 81. Listen to the lyrics of this song and it sounds as if it could have been re-titled “The Ballad of Betty Draper.” This song, Wilson’s debut single (a cover) was released in 1960 when she was 23 and proved so successful that she released five albums in the next three years. You can imagine this song being played in every cocktail lounge in every big city in America circa 1960.

Remote Patrol

See No. 1

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right


We agree with Jimmy here (whom we once served sides to as he dined at Del Frisco’s but he has no idea who we are so how would he have known?). But yeah, this was a moment that if you watched it live, as we did, you just had to say, “Wow.”

Starting Five

M.C. Hammered

Three years. Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen was sentenced yesterday to three years in prison. It’s still technically autumn and the Long Island lawyer has become Trump’s latest fall guy.

Cohen, 52, was sentenced for what the judge called “a veritable smorgasbord” of crimes, the highest profile of which were paying off Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, at the direction of his boss, so that their stories of committing adultery with said boss would not become news during the 2016 presidential election.


Remember, Cohen copped to doing all of this. Trump, despite photo evidence of him with both women, continues to insist the payments were merely private transactions.

What does it all mean? Yesterday, the courts and justice and the ideals of the Founding Fathers prevailed. For at least one day during the toxic Trump term, truth was truth.

2. Surviving A Survivalist

The hype is real. We finished Educated, Tara Westover‘s (above) memoir of growing up the youngest child of a survivalist, junkyard-owning father and an herbalist-midwife mother on the side of a mountain in southern Idaho, in little more than one day. It’s made every “Best Books of 2018” list you can find, and now we understand why.

Westover’s upbringing excluded school and traditional medicine and she did not have a birth certificate until she was nine. She’s pretty certain her birthday is in the last week of September. With a bipolar, fundamentalist father and a sociopathic sadistic older brother, it’s a minor miracle Westover ever got herself off Buck’s Peak and into an ACT testing site.

When Westover enrolled at Brigham Young University, she thought Europe was a country and had never heard of Martin Luther King, Jr. Early in her freshman year she raised her hand in a Western Civ lecture because she did not understand a word in a photo caption. The word was “Holocaust.”

But Westover is every bit the survivor that her survivalist pop is. Within 10 years of walking into BYU, she had earned a doctorate in history from Cambridge and spent a year doing a fellowship at Harvard. There’s a lot more going on here, including the bizarre fate of her parents. This is part Dickensian novel, part Running With Scissors, part Under The Banner of Heaven.

Westover’s story has a universal theme: At what point does loyalty to family compel us to betray ourselves? And do some of us simply choose the former because it’s less harrowing?

3. Raptor Rapture

You don’t beat the No. 1 team in the East while wearing symbols from the Far East

On the second night of a back-to-back, minus the best player on their team (the best in the Eastern Conference), the Toronto Raptors strutted into Oracle Arena and bitch-slapped the defending champion Golden State Warriors for 48 minutes. This less than two weeks after Toronto had beaten the Dubs in overtime at home.

The 113-93 final score was a stunner, as was the fact that Stephen Curry was held to 10 points.

This is a power move.


It’s also why Toronto resident Richard Deitsch tweeted, “Never gamble.”

4. Your Masciarelli Is Running

The latest female teen running prodigy to capture the fascination of MH’s editorial staff? Sydney Masciarelli of Marianapolis Prep in rural Connecticut (tucked far in the northeastern corner of the state where it meets with Massachusetts and Rhode Island). The 15 year-old sophomore, in her FIRST SEASON of competitive running, just won the Foot Locker National Championships in San Diego (above), which annually pits the best prep middle-distance runners against one another.

The 5’10” Masciarelli was more renowned as a hoops phenom  (and is playing in the shadow of Geno and the Huskies) but now she is following in the grand tradition of MH faves Mary Cain, Allie Ostrander and Katelyn Tuohy. To our knowledge Masciarelli and Tuohy have yet to meet in a race, but that should hopefully happen soon.

At Foot Locker, Masciarelli outdistanced well-known Katelyn Hart by 7/10ths of a second, recording the fastest time (17:00.3) since 2010 in an epic finish.

5. Black Hole Suns?


Robert Sarver, the only sports owner who could make Arizonans long for the days of Bill Bidwill, yesterday threatened that he might move the franchise, born in the desert 50 years ago, to either Las Vegas or Seattle. Do it, Robert. Go ahead. You were born and raised in Arizona. Move the Suns. Just know you can never come back here without being treated as if you’re Ted Cruz at a Beltway bistro.

Music 101

The Flame

Tearing a page out of Aerosmith’s “How To Persevere As An Aging Testosterone-Filled Party Rock Band” playbook, Cheap Trick recorded a highly appealing power ballad about 10 years after their peak and saw it chart at NUMBER ONE in the summer of ’88. The band from Rockford, Illinois, did not write the tune (a pair of British songwriters did), but it probably paid for everyone’s new home. They would have never played this song at Budokhan, I will tell you that.

The best concert T-shirt of our youth

Consider the period, though. Summer, ’88. Hair Metal was at its peak and Robin Xander and the boys probably felt, Hell, we invented this sh*t. And then Hair Metal bands realized you could RAWK but if you really wanted to do well on the charts and the MTV, also release ONE lovely power ballad (“Every Rose Has Its Thorn,” anyone?). So the Dream Police said, Thanks, we’ll poach that idea from you. And while you may not want to wear your vintage Cheap Trick concert T-shirt while listening to this, and while Mike Damone may not be thrilled with this concept, this was as successful a power ballad from a hair-metal band as there was.

Remote Patrol

Chargers at Chiefs

8 p.m. Fox

We don’t think we’ve ever watched a Thursday night NFL game not on Thanksgiving, but the last time the Chiefs played a team from L.A. on a week night the contest was pret-tee, pret-tee good. We won’t watch, but you may want to.

 

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right

and…

Starting Five

1. “SERENITY NOW!”

Poor Mike Pence. As President Trump scolds Democrats Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi for not funding his border wall (We thought the Mexi—never mind) and threatens to not only shut down the government but insists on taking credit for that, the Veep goes full-Lloyd Braun. Festivus can’t come soon enough this year.


2. Filial Foley?


His name is Ed Foley, and he’s the interim coach at Temple, which will take part in the Independence Bowl on December 27 versus Duke. So he flies down to the Port du Shreve for a rubber-chicken lunch speaking engagement and damned if he doesn’t do an impersonation of Matt Foley (Chris Farley), who famously lived in a van down by the river.

Long lost twins? You decide.

3. Alabama, Sweet Home-and-Home?

Seven years ago, the last time Alabama played an OOC game on their opponents’ turf

College football’s pre-Christmas early signing period (the best idea it’s had in a few years), now in its second year, is December 19-21. For the third time in four years, Alabama appears to have signed the No. 1 class.

And that’s good for Bama. The Tide are the top program in the nation and as Clemson’s Dabo Swinney (who’s helmed the second-best program in the country the past four years) says, “The rest of us are on the ROY (Rest Of Y’all) bus.” There’s no debate here: Nick Saban has built college football’s flagship program of the past decade as the Tide chase their sixth national championship since 2009.

So wouldn’t it be great, somewhat for them but more so for the sport, if the Tide demonstrated a little leadership and scheduled better OOC opponents? Alabama plays 8 SEC games and four OOC (Out-Of-Conference) games per season. Here’s what the Tide does with one-third of its schedule every season, dating back seven years (or four national championships) ago…

Since September 10, 2011, when Alabama defeated No. 23 Penn State 27-11 in State College, here’s what they’ve done:

–Played 30 OOC games and finished with a record of 30-0.

–Of those 30 games, 23 have been played on campus in Tuscaloosa. The remaining seven have been played at a neutral site, either in Arlington, Texas, Atlanta or Orlando. The Dallas Metroplex, a 9-hourish drive from Birmingham, is by far the farthest the Tide have ventured OOC. Alabama has played zero OOC games at an opponent’s on-campus stadium.

–Of those 30 opponents, seven have been from Power 5 programs. Each of those opponents, from No. 3 Florida State in 2017 to No. 20 Wisconsin in 2015, have been met in the season-opener (read: max preparation time) at a neutral site.

–Of those 30 opponents, four have been FCS schools. The remaining 19 have been Group of Five programs.

The Bama apologists who litter my Twitter will say, “So what? It’s obviously working for them.” And it is. But it’s not working for the good of the sport.

And, yeah, I’ll get political here. President Trump only does rallies in states where he won the popular vote in 2016. States such as West Virginia or Pennsylvania or Mississippi. But the country as a whole is much larger and most of us don’t live in those states. He’s doing what’s good for him, not what’s good for the nation.

We’ll never argue with Bama’s excellence. We just would love it if they were a little less parochial. Outside of the bowls and the playoff, they haven’t ventured beyond the South since 2011. And Bama fans (and Greg Sankey and ESPN) may not want to hear this, but this type of scheduling means they’ll remain a regional brand. Yes, those of us on the coasts appreciate their talent, but contrast the Tide with ’80s and ’90s Miami, who ventured anywhere and everywhere (Ann Arbor, Seattle, South Bend, Norman) to take on the biggest challengers. That’s how The U became The U.

Miami was Mike Tyson. Alabama is Floyd Mayweather, doing the least he has to do to retain his crown. There’s nothing admirable in that and it’s not healthy for the sport.

To the Tide’s credit, they’ve announced future home-and-home series with Texas (022-2023) and Notre Dame (2028-2029). Will Nick Saban even be around for the Longhorns? For us this is the only blemish on his time in Tuscaloosa. His flat-out unwillingness to travel to another school’s campus. You’ve got all the best talent, Nick. Why not put it to the test?

4. Bowlen For Dollars

Beth Broncos?

Longtime Denver Bronco owner Pat Bowlen is suffering from Alzheimer’s, leaving the future leadership of his successful franchise in flux. Arguably the leading contender to (metaphor alert!) take the reins of the Broncos is daughter Beth Bowlen Wallace, 48, who earned a law degree two years ago.

But as this New York Times story stipulates, it isn’t that simple. Bowlen, who bought the franchise in 1984, established a three-person trust to determine who should be the next controlling owner to run the Broncos and stipulated that it did not have to be one of his seven children from two marriages.

Brittany Broncos?

Complicating matters for Beth, her half-sister (from marriage No. 2) Brittany Bowlen is about 20 years younger, earned a degree in finance from Notre Dame with a 3.8 GPA and followed that up with an MBA from Duke, and SHE wants to run the team. She’s also worked at NFL HQ and for McKinsey. 

Advantage, Brittany.

5. Duff Stuff

We just finished former Guns ‘n Roses bassist Duff McKagan‘s a-year-in-the-life memoir How To Be A Man (And Other Illusions), about his 50th year on the planet and you know, even if he’d never co-written “Welcome To The Jungle” and “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” we’d still consider him an incredibly cool dude with whom to hang.

Anyway, reading is cool because it allows you to connect so many dots. Here’s a vignette we found fascinating. A Seattle native and resident, McKagan is a recovering addict (his pancreas burst when he was 30 and he asked the nurse to let him die) and a huge Seahawks fan. So when the Seahawks advanced to the Super Bowl in 2014 in New Jersey, he and two pals (one from Seattle band Alice In Chains) made the trek east. McKagan would turn 50 three days after the Birds destroyed the Broncos.

So McKagan is sharing this story of fandom and casually mentions that he and his friends had use of an apartment in the West Village and then we ascertain, Oh, I think I know where this story is going. Sure enough, and though McKagan never mentions him by name, the trio ran into actor Philip Seymour Hoffman three times on the final day of his life.

The first time, they just nodded hello and one of them noted that they’d heard PSH had recently, after two decades of living clean, fallen off. Then they saw him early that evening as they were headed out to a Foo Fighters concert and it clearly looked as if he was trying to score drugs. The last time they saw him, on the sidewalk right next to their apartment, was as they were returning home, after 1 a.m. McKagan said he thought of inviting PSH in to their place for a pot of coffee and just to chat, knowing what he was up to. Because they’d all been in that figurative place before; but they also knew an addict only gets sober if he or she wants to.

They opted not to reach out to him. Less than 10 hours later, Hoffman was dead.

A note: McKagan never mentions PSH by name and says he doesn’t want to out another member of the “fraternity.” He doesn’t stipulate if he means the addict fraternity or the celebrity fraternity, but it’s more than clear to whom he’s referring.

All of this aside, it’s a terrific book. McKagan is basically a suburban husband and father of two daughters (one of whom is making her own way in the rock world) and, quite admirably, enrolled at Seattle University AFTER the monster success of GnR and earned his college degree. Super-cool dude who gets it.

Music 101 

Ace Of Spades

If Beavis & Butthead had a house band, it would probably be Motorhead. Founded by Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister, a former roadie for Jimi Hendrix, the British trio became indistinguishable from the term “heavy metal” and sold more than 15 million albums. Lemmy was the real deal, a hard-living Brit with big mutton chops who spent the last 25 years of his life in Los Angeles, most recently living in an apartment just two blocks from his favorite Hollywood haunt, the Rainbow Bar & Grill. He died in 2016 at age 70.

This song, arguably the band’s best-known, was released in 1980 at the dawn of the MTV age.

Remote Patrol

Raptors at Warriors

10:30 p.m. ESPN

Didn’t these two just play one another? Yes, less than two weeks ago (Nov. 29) and the Raptors won in overtime in Toronto (no Steph, no Draymond). Guess the NBA schedule dudes underestimated the Canadians, as not only are they putting this potential NBA Finals showdown on the second night of a back-to-back for Toronto (weirdly, the Raptors are 5-0 on the second nights of back-to-backs this season), but it’s December 12 and this is the last time these two will meet unless/until June.

The Raptors (22-7) have the league’s best record, while the Dubs are second in the West and have won four in a row since Curry’s return. Kawhi Leonard sat out last night’s 24-point win at the Clips, but he should be back for this one. Kyle Lowry leads the NBA in assists.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right


 

Starting Five

Lost And Found

The remains of Icelandic mountaineers Kristinn Rúnarsson and Þorsteinn Guðjónsson have been found 30 years after the pair went missing in the Himalayas. Steve Aisthorpe, 55, a Scot, had been climbing with them in October of 1988, scaling Pumori, a 23,494-foot peak, when he fell ill. He told them to go on ahead.

And no one ever saw them again, until last month, when an American climber located their remains at the foot of a glacier.

2. May Delay

Life was so much simpler when Hugh Grant was P.M.

Facing a vote on Brexit in parliament and having lost political support from within her own party, Prime Minister Theresa May announced that she was postponing the vote (Postpone the vote, a certain tweep living on Pennsylvania Ave. reads. Genius!).

What’s going to happen? Will Great Britain divorce the European Union? Will Jon Snow marry his sister or aunt or whatever she is? Will Manchester City Win the Premier League (at least that we can bank on)?

3. Harry Potter and the Eight Year-Old Girl

Currently showing at the New York Historical Society, an exhibit about Harry Potter. Because why not? Among the plethora of items of wizardry and literature is a note scribbled by eight year-old Alice Newton back in the mid-1990s. At the time eight publishers had rejected J.K. Rowling‘s manuscript, but Alice’s dad, who ran a publishing house, decided to bring it home for his daughter to read.

She did so and then wrote this note: “Reading this made me feel warm inside. I certainly think any eight/nine year-old would enjoy this.” Dad bought the manuscript and the rest is history. Alice may be the most critically important Newton the UK has produced since Isaac.

4. Let It Bee

Pray for the Mantis…

The Insect Apocalypse is upon us, declares this story from The New York Times Magazine. That’s bad news for the rest of us. Read on if you dare. Am I buggin’ ya? I didn’t mean to bug ya.’ Okay, Edge, play the blues…

5. Nun Cents

What with all the buggery revelations from their male brethren, Catholic priests, two SoCal sisters figured who would miss a half million dollars? Sister Mary Kreuper and Sister Lana Chang, who taught at St. James Catholic School in Torrance, embezzled approximately $500,000 to feed their gambling, er, habit over the past decade.

Kreuper was actually the school’s principal for 29 years. Have both sisters gone to confession? What’s the penance, in terms of Hail Marys, one must say in order to atone? And why doesn’t the story we read inform us as to how successful or unsuccessful they were?

 

Music 101

Punk Rock Girl

Is it punk to have your song get heavy rotation on the MTV? Philadelphia punk rockers The Dead Milkmen faced this existential crisis in 1988.

Remote Patrol

Stagecoach

8 p.m. TCM

John Ford’s classic western that served as the template for so many others to follow. Released in 1939 and starring John Wayne in his breakout role as the Ringo Kid, it’s also the first Ford film to use Monument Valley as a backdrop.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right

We have a second nominee this morning:


Twice! Twice with the “smocking.” He really is illiterate, isn’t he?

Starting Five

Drake Quake*

*Props to tweep @YahooSchwab who came up with “Drake Relay”

Rule No. 69: Never have Rob Gronkowski play safety if the feared Hail Mary pass cannot make it to the end zone. The Dolphins defeat the Patriots on a last-second 69-yard touchdown play that features two laterals, ending up in the capable arms and legs of Kenyan Drake for the final 50 yards or so.


First of all, Bill, it’s the “hook and lateral.” Second, it’s worked in big moments at least twice before, most famously in A) the 2007 Fiesta Bowl on a play that sent the game into overtime…

…and also in the 1982 AFC divisional playoffs, an overtime game between the San Diego Chargers and Miami Dolphins in the Orange Bowl that many of us consider the best NFL playoff game we’ve ever seen. That’s Don Criqui on the call.

True story on that Fiesta Bowl: I was there, it was my third bowl game in as many nights. The first was the 2006 Insight Bowl from Sun Devil Stadium on December 30th, when Texas Tech overcame a 31-point second-half deficit to beat Minnesota and oust Glen Mason from his job (when Minnesota pushed the lead to 38-7 midway through the 3rd, more of us in the press box were consumed with footage just released of Saddam Hussein being hanged). The next night was the Humanitarian Bowl in Boise, played in 19-degree weather (some of us were issued blankets if our “press box seat” was located out doors, which mine was). Then this game the next night in Glendale. What a time to be alive! 

2. The MeTua Movement

You kind of knew Tua Tagovailoa wasn’t winning when the rep from the Heisman Trust, Vasili Krishnamurti, couldn’t even properly pronounce his name. It’s weird because for at least two-thirds of the season, it felt as if Tua’s name was already etched on the 2018 Heisman Trophy. What happened?

  1. The SEC Championship Game, in which Tua performed poorly. Go back to Alabama’s first offensive drive. If Tua hits Henry Ruggs on the slant-in pattern on 1st-and-goal from the 6, the Tide takes a 7-0 lead and, more importantly, he doesn’t get sacked on the following play and suffer the high ankle sprain that hindered him the rest of the game. Tua is renowned for his accuracy and this was one play where his pass was just a footstep behind, and it probably cost him more than we all realized in the moment.
  2. Nobody—outside of Alabama—watched Alabama games. They were all over after the first quarter. Boring. By contrast, Kyler took part in a number of thrilling games (both Texas tussles, Bedlam, WVU and even Army) that kept viewers glued.
  3. Tua’s mark of excellence is his precision; Kyler’s is his dual-threat skills. A wild scramble in OU’s season opener, plus long TD runs in the Red River Shootout and at West Virginia had that backyard football game aspect to it that make for oft-replayed highlights.
  4. Kylar simply had better numbers in two more all-important stats: Yards Per Attempt and QB Rating, in which he led the country in both. That mattered.
  5. Bama Fatigue. We know who won the Heisman last year, but there’s just too much Bama all the time for too many of us. And Tua would’ve made Nick Saban’s third in a decade. It may be just us, but we really don’t believe the “Kyler Knows” campaign, borrowing from a 30-ish year-old Bo Jackson Nike campaign, made much of a difference. But that may be our bad for giving voters more credit than they deserve.

3. How ’bout Them Raiders!

Amari Cooper, who only a month or so earlier was an Oakland Raider, catches three touchdown passes after the start of the fourth quarter as the Cowboys outlast the Eagles in overtime, 29-23.

Had the defending Super Bowl champs won, they’d be tied with Dallas atop the division at a middling 7-6. Instead, the Cowboys are 8-5 and Philly dips to 6-7 and has to win its final three to even have a chance to make the playoffs.

Philly rookie tight end Dallas Goedert, a former walk-on at South Dakota State, had one fourth-quarter TD catch and it should have been two. His growed-up-man 75-yard TD grab was called back for the most pussy-footed OPI you’ll ever seen. On the next play a Cowboy lineman was flagged for tackling Eagle QB Carson Wentz around the feet, even though the Dallas lineman was already laying on the ground when he made the tackle.

I really do hate this league.

4. Go Now

This morning’s Washington Post puts together a comprehensive trail of White House exoduses, beginning with Attorney General Sally Yates on January 30, 2017 and ending with the most recent, Chief of Staff John Kelly as of Friday.

She’s still here

If you’re scoring at home, approximately three dozen high-profile “all the best people” types have either resigned or been fired since Trump took office 22 months ago. What have we learned? If Kellyanne Conway ever appears on a season of Survivor, do NOT bet against her.

5. The King Of The North!


If FBS is all about SEC and Clemson hegemony, then FCS is all about Nordic conquest. The campuses of all four schools in this month’s FCS semi-finals—Eastern Washington, Maine, North Dakota State and South Dakota State—are located above 44 degrees latitude, which may not mean a lot to you until we tell you that means they’re all located north of Portland, Maine. All located north of Toronto.

Wild, right?

The Red Sea, in Cheney

NDSU will host SDSU inside the FargoDome while EWU will host Maine in Cheney, just a few miles southeast of Pullman, with the game to be played on their red carpet that’ll make your eyes bleed. If you’re wondering about the Black Bears, they traveled to Weber State in northern Utah this past weekend, then returned home to Orono, then will travel all the way back to the Spokane area for Friday night’s game.

That’s more than 8,000 miles in one week. How many points is jet lag worth?

Music 101

It Ain’t Me, Babe

Bob Dylan wrote and recorded this song in 1964, but Johnny Cash and June Carter may have perfected it a year later. Three years after Cash and Carter recorded it, and countless times after they’d performed it live onstage, they married, in 1968.

Dylan wrote the song as a message to his girlfriend, Suze Rotolo, who had appeared with him on the cover of his previous album.

Remote Patrol

Vikings at Seahawks

8 p.m. ESPN

If the season ended today—and why can’t it?— these two would be the NFC wildcard representatives.