by John Walters

Tweet of Right

This means Michael Cohen is created in God’s image?

Starting Five

M.C. Hammers

This is the refreshing sound of a man who has no flubs left to give:

And this is that same human being in the summer of 2016 when he was being paid to fib. Notice the difference.

Michael Cohen is going away to prison for three years, but yesterday before a live national audience he provided a glimpse of the prevaricating man for whom he toiled for 10 years. Yesterday was also a good day to review some of your old debate team terms, such as ad hominem attacks (the only weapon the GOP congressmen had in their arsenal) and Occam’s Razor (the concept that “simpler solutions are more likely to be correct than complex ones”).

2. Agent Orange

Once the star of The Apprentice, the president arrived in Hanoi as a contestant on Deal Or New Deal. Clearly, he picked the wrong suitcase. Trump’s deployment in-country was roughly 363 days briefer than had he done it in 1967 (“You think I’m stupid? I wasn’t going to Vietnam”) but with pretty much the same results: America lost.

In just a day or so, Trump publicly stated that he believes North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un when he said (if he even ever did) that he had no knowledge of the treatment American prisoner Otto Wambier was receiving (he died shortly after being released), making America 2-2 in believing evil dictators, or simply not caring, when it comes to murdered U.S. residents/citizens in the past five months.

Then, after North Korea pressed for an end to sanctions and the U.S. said no, there was apparently nothing left to discuss and today’s lunch was canceled. Credit Trump for not acceding to Jong-Un’s demands, but maybe Donald, better than anyone, should know that you cannot deal in good faith with a fundamentally dishonest person.

Trump will be able to make it back to the States early enough to attend the CPAC, where the latest cause celebre is post-birth abortions (because nothing will get Ma and Pa Evangelist more riled up than libs murdering sweet little babies, even if this isn’t actually a thing).

3. Dwyane’s World

On Monday evening the Miami Heat (27-33) lost at home to the Phoenix Suns, the NBA’s worst team. It was the Heat’s eighth consecutive home defeat. So what happens next?

The Golden State Warriors, owners of the West’s best record, visit Miami Arena and the Heat win. How? On Dwyane Wade’s unlikely buzzer-beating bank-shot trey, after Kevin Durant blocked his previous attempt. The corn-rowed future HOF’er even shot it off one foot. Even the Dubs had to laugh.

4. They Neglect Horses, Don’t They

We’re just beginning to swing into horsey racing season (the Florida Oaks! The Arkansas Derby!), the prelude to the Triple Crown. Will we be reading or hearing much about the NINETEEN horses that have already died at Santa Anita Raceway in southern California this winter.

After three horses had to be put down in as many days (most of the deaths have been accident-related during races), the track closed for two days for an evaluation of the racing surface. But it’s reopening today. Somewhere the producers of HBO’s ill-fated Luck are wondering why it takes only three dead horses to get a show canceled but you can keep a track operational when 19 die in one season.

5. 90210ld*

*Now this the judges DID steal from Bill Simmons

Yesterday word came that the original cast of Beverly Hills 90210 (sans Luke Perry) would be reuniting for a six-episode run. You gotta think the cast of Melrose Place heard this and thought, It’s time to do some Cross Fit.

Legit, we’d have to guess that 90210 was Fox’s first breakout show as a prime-time entertainment network. What a concept: beautiful teens in a beautiful location (and no minorities! It was the early Nineties). We don’t remember how or even if 90210, which ran from 1990-2000, ever handled the L.A. Riots or the O.J. Trial, but things always seemed, er, peachy, at the Peach Pit.

But now it’s nearly 20 years later? Which characters will suffer from Dad Bod? Botox Overdose? Who runs a yoga studio? Who’s had to ship out to the Valley? Addicted to kombucha? Can’t wait.

Music 101

Little Deuce Coupe

Wanna race? Just a little deuce coupe with a flat head mill
But she’ll walk a Thunderbird like (she’s) it’s standin’ still. Released as the B-side to “Surfer Girl” in 1963, this ode to hot-rodding still hit No. 15 on the charts for the Beach Boys. California in the early Sixties sounds like paradise to us. She’s my little deuce coupe. You don’t know what I got.

The deuce coupe is actually a ’32 Ford

Remote Patrol

Sixers at Thunder

8 p.m. TNT

No touching. No touching!


by John Walters

Tweet Me Right

Is 52 years still “fashionably late?” Still, you gotta hand it to Trump. Avoids service in Vietnam and thinks, No, I’m not going there until I’m in charge of the entire damned Armed Forces of the United States. Loathe him all you want, but that’s a mic drop moment.

UPDATE: Michael Cohen’s Opening Statement.

Starting Five

Gaetz perpetually looks as if he’s headed to his 20-year Sig Ep reunion

Lieutenant Kendrick, I Presume

As much as “Everything comes back to Seinfeld” relates to everyday life, “Everything comes back to A Few Good Men” is a solid aphorism in terms of political or power-related machinations. Hence, when we watched Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz, who reminds us of an overly helpful SEC sports information director right up until the minute you break the story about his coach boinking a secretary or having a bag man, attempt to intimidate witness Michael Cohen yesterday, we thought of Lieutenant Kendrick (Kiefer Sutherland).

This of course would make our president Col. Nathan Jessup  (“You want me to build that wall, you need me to build that wall!). Here’s what Gaetz tweeted out yesterday, later claiming that it was “witness testing” and not “witness tampering”:

Like Kendrick, who carried out Jessup’s Code Red (passing on the illegal order to Dawson and Downey), Gaetz is an unabashedly loyal Trumpian foot soldier. As are Reps. Jim Jordan (Ohio) and Devin Nunes (California). Their hope is that when the Trump presidency is over, they will become the new leaders of the extreme right. We’ll see.

It took us awhile, but we finally placed the actor who reminds us of Gaetz. His name is Steven Eckholdt, and he played Jed Bartlett’s adulterous and clueless and untrustworthy son-in-law on The West Wing. “It always comes back to Aaron Sorkin” is another good aphorism. Eckholdt also played Rachel’s douchey co-worker on Friends (below). He’s always the guy you can’t stand.

2. Nolan’s Payday

Do you know this man? He just secured the largest pay day for a position player in baseball history in terms of per-year salary: $32.5 million per year for the next eight years.

It’s not that Nolan Arenado, 26, isn’t deserving if anyone is. A third baseman, he’s earned six Gold Gloves in his six seasons and four All-Star selections. And if he played in a more visible market, he might’ve won and MVP or two by now. The southern California native, of Cuban ancestry, has led the National League in homers twice and in RBI three times.

It’s just that no one outside of Denver or the offices of Baseball America knows who he is. And that’s probably just fine by him. He’s not looking to be a celebrity. If someone wants to pay him Mike Trout/Bryce Harper money and he can remain relatively anonymous, he’ll take it. Speaking of those two, one if not both is going to be earning more than Arenado per year soon (Trout next year).

For those wondering, Nolan Ryan earned less than $26 million over the course of his entire 26-season HOF career.

3. The Clancy Of Queens

During our 800-or-so mile drive last Saturday, we listened to a plethora of NPR (we normally would have written “a lot of NPR” but it’s NPR so we felt as if we should up our game). That’s partly because in the vast open spaces of Nevada it was often the one station that would come in static-free but also because it’s usually a welcome companion on a long road trip: we listened to “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me” and “Ask Me Another.” Twice. Both shows.

And we also listened to two episodes of The Moth, which is where people like you and me take the stage in front of a live audience and tell true stories about themselves. As you might imagine, these are hit-or-miss. The huge hit for us was Tara Clancy, a girl from Queens who being both Irish and a New Yorker is a born raconteur. On career opportunities growing up in Queens: “You were either going to be A), a cop or B), not a cop.”

If you visit, you can find a number of her Moth appearances, but this one, “The Moon And Stars Talks,” is the one we heard and it’s solid. Give it a listen when you have 13 free minutes.

Then again, maybe we were just an extremely captive audience.

4. The People Problem

In 1800 there were an estimated one billion people inhabiting planet Earth. Now, just a little more than two centuries later, there are 7.7 billion people living on this planet (and now we feel even worse by the number of visitors we get to this site daily). It is estimated, unless we have some catastrophic nuclear war or epidemic, that the global population will exceed 10 billion humans by the end of the century.

This is something we heard last week that alarmed us: there are currently more people living on Earth than all the people who ever lived on Earth in the history of humanity (and still the Suns cannot put together a decent starting lineup).

Guess what, my friends: that growth curve is not sustainable, and we all can’t just get on the next SpaceX and rocket to Mars. It’s a little farther away than you may think and, oh yeah, it’s basically uninhabitable without a space suit and some mittens.

So when everyone’s favorite Latina millennial punching bag, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, suggests that Americans should stop having babies, it’s easy to dismiss her as whack or “How come you can’t keep a man, honey?” But, like most magical thinkers who aren’t appreciated by their contemporaries, she’s making a greater point if you want to take the long view.


It’s a big blue marble, but it’s not THAT big. We’re rapidly approaching critical mass, humans-wise. Never mind to what we’re doing to the environment. With the exception of a few pesky insects, man (and by that I mean Western European Man, or WEM, in particular) is the only creature unable to live in balance and harmony with his environment. At least in the past 500 years, WEM has operated on a strategy of expand and grow and “acquire” (or, colonize) and grow and grow and grow and GROW.

Maybe not in this lifetime, but in your kids’ or their kids’, that model is going to take a beating. The last thing we need more of, and bless your little darlings’ hearts, is people. Nothing personal. It’s just a fact.

5. All The Light I Can Nazi

Big day today if you’re a Nazi. Big, big day. Iron your swastika badge.

On this day in 1925 Adolf Hitler (one imprisoned in Germany for treason, you may recall) introduced the National Socialist (!) German Workers’ Party, or Nazi Party, to Munich. Then, eight years later on this same date, the Reichstag Fire.

If you’re unfamiliar, the Reichstag Fire set the standard for any and all False Flag operations to follow. Less than one full month after Hitler is installed as Chancellor of Germany, a fire breaks out at night at the seat of German parliament, the Reichstag. Hitler and his minions blame Communists (but of course!) and soon after the Reichstag Decree is passed, permitting Hitler to suspend most civil liberties in what had been a Democratic society.

You know the rest of the story…

Thank heavens no one of German descent with a taste for authoritarian rule and a conveniently amoral view of the world could ever be put in charge of this country. Meanwhile, if you run into any of your neighborhood Nazis today, do wish them a Happy Reichstag Fire Day and also, perhaps, to bleep off and die…

Music 101


In the first few months of 1980, The Cars were one of the most popular rock bands in the world and this song by Gary Numan was No. 1 in both the U.K. and Canada (it topped out at No. 9 here). Numan’s heavy-synth, alien-monotone vocals song out-Devo’ed Devo and made some of us wonder if guitars were dead for good. This song belongs on any and every anthology of New Wave music.

Remote Patrol

No. 10 Marquette at Villanova

9 p.m. FS1

The Warriors Golden Eagles (23-4) have the nation’s most electrifying sub-6 shooter in Markus Howard, who posted 53 in a win at Creighton earlier this winter. The Wildcats (20-8), in case you’ve forgotten, have won two of the past three national championships. Not bad. Not bad at all.*

*Although we feel as if we should recommend The Maltese Falcon at 10 a.m. EST if you have the chance to tune in.


by John Walters

Tweet Me Right

Is it just us or was there a noted absence of chalance from the players after this shot fell through?

Starting Five

The Streak Is Dead! Long Live The Streak

The string of consecutive 30-point games ends at 32 for James Harden. That final sequence above is informative as the Hawks have no chance of winning but bring as many as four defenders around Harden, who went 0-10 from beyond the arc last night, to prevent him from scoring. When the play begins The Beard appears intent on making a try at it—he knows what his point total is—but by the time he crosses midcourt he realizes that they’re on to him. Still, a ridiculous and meaningless heave would have been suspenseful.

The Rockets won 119-111. Trae Young scored a career-high 36 for Atlanta. Harden’s streak is stopped just 33 games shy of tying Wilt Chamberlain‘s record (65) and why no one under age 40 recognizes Wilt as the true GOAT is utterly mystifying.

2. Decree of Difficulty

When we saw that a mother, 45, and her daughter, 19, had been arrested for the murders of five family members outside Philadelphia, we were curious. Then more curious when their names weren’t initially listed and when the story received relatively so little attention. And so we assumed…they’re probably poor and they’re probably minority. Because blonde people, if this happens to them, it’s THE NEWS of the day, if not week.

Dug a little more: the accused are Shana and Dominique Decree, and somehow they’d been managing in their apartment the past few days with the corpses of Shana’s two children (Dominique’s siblings), Shana’s sister (Dominique’s aunt) and Shana’s twin nieces (Dominique’s cousins). They were all found inside a bedroom and only after neighbors called the cops because nobody had seen them for days. Someone must have smelled them, no?

Police have yet to release the modus operandi.

3. Mu! Who Knew?*

*The judges will also accept “Athing Is A Thing”

This is Athing Mu of Trenton, N.J., and you’re going to be hearing more about her. Last weekend Mu, 16, set the American record (time above) for the 600 meters indoors. Granted, it’s not the world’s most popular event, but this wasn’t a high school mark. It was an overall mark. And Mu, who chooses not to run for her high school in order that she can concentrate on training with the Trenton Track Club and coach Al Jennings, is still just a high school teen.

McLaughlin will be a superstar in Tokyo in two summers…

We’d call Mu the most precociously talented female New Jersey track star in years, but you may recall that just three years earlier Sydney McLaughlin of Dunellen, N.J., became the youngest American Olympian in 40 years when, at age 16, she qualified for the Rio Olympics in the 400 Hurdles (McLaughlin won the NCAAs in that event as a freshman last  spring for Kentucky). She’s the true Syd The Kid.

4. The Oregon Rail*

*The judges will also accept  “Train In Vain,” “All Are Bored” and “Lost: The Choo-Choo Version”

An Amtrak train heading from Seattle to Los Angeles struck a tree (Did it veer wildly off course, we wonder?) about 45 miles southeast of Eugene, Oregon, early Sunday night. The 183 passengers aboard, all fine, have been stranded on the choo-choo ever since.

Amtrak officials chose to keep the passengers on the train since electricity is out in the area. If you don’t have a sleeper car, here’s hoping you’ve made friends with someone who does.

Question: Knowing the outcome in advance, would you rather be stranded on this choo-choo or a passenger on Sully’s ill-fated (but ultimately safe) LaGuardia to Hudson River flight?

5. A Tale Of Two Teams From One City

Los Angeles Clippers: Doc dabs Dirk.

Los Angeles Lakers: Just one play to demonstrate why so many of us will never consider LeBron “The GOAT” (and we’re right). Opts not to cover his man against the Grizzlies, then when the dude buries the three, King James looks around as if it’s someone else’s fault. We’ve all played with this dude in pick-up games, haven’t we?

This is aging well…


Veal Oscar Leftovers

We neglected to include Olivia Colman‘s speech in yesterday’s Oscar wrap, but there’s so much to love here: use of the term “snog,” a fart noise, an apology to Glenn Close, telling her kids “well done” if they are not watching (“this won’t happen again”) and even teasing her husband that he’s going to cry. If you missed it the first time.


About Spike Lee‘s speech: Like everyone else at the Oscars, he never mentioned the president by name or even by office. Here is what he said:

Before the world tonight, I give praise to our ancestors who have built this country into what it is today along with the genocide of its native people. We all connect with our ancestors. We will have love and wisdom regained, we will regain our humanity. It will be a powerful moment. The 2020 presidential election is around the corner. Let’s all mobilize. Let’s all be on the right side of history. Make the moral choice between love versus hate. Let’s do the right thing! You know I had to get that in there.

So naturally Donald Trump took this personally.


We have yet to see Green Book, but we have to think Peter Farrelly taking the stage after it was announced as Best Picture and saying more than once, “We couldn’t have done this without Viggo (Mortensen)” was precisely the type of quote that exemplifies why so many people are upset that it won. It’s a racism film about black people for and by white people. Or at least that’s the criticism.


Finally, how did we go a day before someone made this Wet, Hot American Summer connection?

A Mighty Wind

Music 101

Fast Car

Some songs defy their era. They are timeless. When Tracy Chapman‘s eponymous debut album was released in April of 1988, no one was making music that sounded anywhere near close to this. New Wave was choking out its last breaths while Hair Metal was at its zenith. Hip-hop was just beginning to flirt with being mainstream.

And then there was Chapman, who was straight out of the Joni Mitchell-Carole King school of epic female songwriters. This in fact, is the highest-rated song on Rolling Stone‘s list of the 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time that was both written and performed by a female artist (we think Misses Mitchell and King may want to appeal that ruling).

Remote Patrol

Annie Hall


Woody Allen’s career-peak comedy deservedly won Best Picture in 1977 (sorry, Star Wars fans) and no true comedy has won since—though Terms of Endearment, Forrest Gump and Shakespeare In Love both had plenty of lighter moments. It’s brilliant, creative, witty and one of the top five films ever to capture the essence of New York City at the time it was made (we’d also put Do The Right Thing and Mean Streets in there). La di da, la di da, la la.


by John Walters

Tweet Me Right

Orwell’s “Ministry of Doublespeak” is alive and well in the White House.

Starting Five

The Knicks got a shout-out and apparently Kelly Olynyk made a cameo.

Host-Free Solo

It was an Oscars that saw wins for both “Shallow” and the dude who co-wrote “Shallow Hal.” It was, most notably, a host-free Oscars show and guess what: we seemed to prefer it that way.

Judging from Twitter, this was the least loathed Oscars in years. Multiple reasons: with no host, no one can be offended by a joke or put off by a lame stunt. But there was also something about this year’s winners: humble (Mahershala Ali), grateful (Rami Malek), naturally charming and funny (Olivia Colman) and even inspirational (Lady Ga Ga: “It’s not about winning; it’s about never giving up.” Thanks. We needed that.). Sure, some will quibble with Green Book, but I’m not sure there was a film out there that was going to win Best Picture that would not have met with at least some resistance.

A few of our thoughts, tweets, lame jokes:

–The acceptance speech for Free Solo saw Alex Honnold, the most fearless human ever to stand on an Oscar stage, receive almost no mention while his girlfriend received plenty. What the WTF?

–If you were going to make a biopic about the most talented dancer in Hollywood history, would you go with Astaire is Born or Gene Book for your title?

–If, as a Hollywood publicist, you can get yourself into the “In Memoriam” montage, then your professional acumen speaks for itself.

–She has now been nominated seven times without winning. Is it time to refer to her as Glenn Close-But-No-Cigar?

–A few women women for a documentary shot about menstruation called Period, End Of Sentence. MH editors are already hard at work on our short about irritable bowel movement syndrome titled Colon, Giving Pause.

–Bradley Cooper and Lady GaGa nailed it (and Cooper would’ve been a fine Best Actor choice). Someone posted this after and we chuckled. By the way, Bradley Cooper is only three to four years younger than Carroll O’Connor was when this photo was taken. People used to really age faster only a couple generations ago.

–This, refreshingly, felt like an outsiders Oscars. Even though it was Ali’s second win, he still seems like someone who’s just happy (and humbled) to be there. Same with Malek, Colman and to a lesser degree Regina King. Here’s who was nowhere to be seen at this year’s Oscars: Meryl Streep, George Clooney, Matt Damon, Halle Berry, Tom Hanks, Brad Pitt, Ben Affleck, Kate Winslet and Leo DiCaprio.

And we were all fine. That said, would anyone mind if Julia Roberts announces Best Picture and then closes the broadcast every year? We would not.

–Loved that Samuel L. Jackson not only informed Spike Lee that the Knicks ended their 18-game home losing streak, but also provided the opponent and the score. Lee, who won his first Oscar (for Best Adapted Screenplay) but again lost Best Picture (his BlacKkKlansman to Green Book mirroring 1989’s loss for Do The Right Thing versus Driving Miss Daisy), had the quote of the night in the press room afterward: “Every time somebody is driving somebody, I lose.”

–We haven’t seen Green Book, but Seth Meyers and Amber Ruffin decided this was all you really need to see…

–And finally, wouldn’t it be wonderful if there were a five-year moratorium on handing out the Best Picture award (we’re told that Bill Simmons talks about this on his podcasts, but we don’t listen to podcasts, so we swear we did not poach the idea)? Give out the other awards the year of, sure; but there’s too much cult-of-the-moment stuff going on in the BP award and movies age like wine.

We thought of this watching True Grit yesterday and finding it hard to believe that it did not beat out The King’s Speech for Best Picture. At the time, though, the Academy had given No Country For Old Men BP two years earlier and I think they were a little bit over the Coen Brothers at the moment. Anyway, I don’t know what movie from 2018 will age better than Green Book, but don’t be surprised if it’s Black Panther.

2. Tarts and Krafts*

*The judges wish to think our whip-smart former editor Bob Roe for that one. We’ll also accept “Kraft Services.”

First, did you notice that he wasn’t the only famous Robert K. who made the news for a sex scandal on Friday (R. Kelly)? Second, how many wives just learned that Orchids of Asia is not a florist? Third, who could possibly be the “bigger name” that Adam Schefter mentioned?

Finally, whither Kraft’s future as Patriots owner and how will NFL commish Roger Goodell handle this? Early days here but, as stupid as this sounds, we think it’ll come down to the same thing Ray Rice’s situation came down to: Does a tape of Kraft, 77, getting serviced get released into the webosphere? And by the way, ewwww.

Will Columbia retain Kraft’s name on its football field? He’s a huge benefactor.

Kraft is reportedly worth $6 billion and owns five Super Bowl rings (a sixth is on permanent loan to Vladimir Putin). But he allegedly spent less than $100 for sex (while already having a girlfriend half his age). The lesson here is: You’re never too rich to be cheap.

One way or another, this story will have a happy ending. But for whom?

3. Jim Class*

*The judges note the irony

Should Jim Boeheim have coached his Syracuse team against Duke only three days after accidentally striking and killing a pedestrian as he drove home from the previous Orange game (a win versus Louisville)? Might he have sat this one out if the opponent were not Duke, in the Carrier Dome, with College GameDay in town?

We’re not here to excoriate the 74 year-old Hall of Famer. It was an accident involving an icy road and a disabled vehicle that led to his striking 51 year-old Jorge Jimenez. But while Boeheim said he was “devastated” by it, he obviously wasn’t so devastated that he chose, out of respect, to sit out one game. His old pal and counterpart defended the move. ” I’m glad he coached,” said Duke’s Coach K. “What the hell else is he supposed to do? That’s what he does.”

The standing O from the Cuse crowd was rather odd. As was ESPN’s sepia-toned coverage (My mom, watching, wondered if Boeheim had died). From the little coverage we saw, it felt almost as if Boeheim was the victim, but then Syracuse’s third-year athletic director is John Wildhack, who had been a major honcho in Bristol the past two decades. He has old friends in powerful places at the WWL, and our guess is there was at least an unspoken message there not to make Syracuse or Boeheim look callous. But you know what? That’s what they were.

Syracuse lost.

4. Larry Bird Award

What if, instead of just the odd Esquire cover story, they handed out an annual award to the nation’s top white American-born college basketball player? We’d name it the Larry Bird Award.

This season’s winner? Mike Daum of South Dakota State. The 6’9″ senior is averaging 25.8 points and 11.8 rebounds per game for the 23-7 Jackrabbits (you could say, if you liked puns, that he has been Daum-inant; fortunately, we do not). The Kimball, Nebraska, native just eclipsed the 3,000-point career mark this weekend and now sits in 10th place all-time in Division I scoring with 3,006 points. Next up? Hersey Hawkins, who currently sits just one bucket (3008) ahead of him.

The famed Pawnee National Grassland

If you were wondering, Kimball, Nebraska, is tucked away in the far southwestern corner of the state, not far from the Pawnee National Grassland in Kansas. I’m sure that helps.

Some team is going to select the rugged and athletic Daum in June’s NBA draft, and some scout is going to compare him to Dan Majerle. Just you wait and see.

5. Wide Open Spaces: Nevada

Here’s our thoughts on travel: If you can possibly drive instead of fly, do so. If you can possibly drive somewhere you’ve never been before, definitely do so. If your trip avoids major cities, there is no excuse not to do so.

With that in mind, the MH staff took a roundabout route of traveling from Reno to Phoenix this weekend. We looked on the map of Nevada and noticed a national forest plum in the middle of the state, and since we hadn’t given Nevada’s interior much thought beyond Area 51 before, we thought we’d give it a try.

Humboldt-Toiyabe in central Nevada: majestic and green. Who knew?

What a nice surprise. Yes, it’s vast and heavily unpopulated, but the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest is majestic and virtually uninhabited and unbelievably vast. And if you get a chance to stop in for a beer in the mountainside town of Austin (elevation: 6,059 feet), do so.


If you want to trace our route, we went from Reno to Austin, down to Tonopah (road not not this map), then to Beatty and finally, sadly, through Las Vegas.

Nevada ranks 7th nationally in terms of total area but 32nd in terms of population, and almost half of that is due to Las Vegas and its suburbs. This is a vast, mostly unpopulated state. The pleasant surprise is that there are some really sweet and still undisturbed natural areas. We saw coyotes and a herd of pronghorn (antelope).

The American West and its wildlife is truly spectacular. We really all should vacate and leave it be.

Music 101

Chevy Van

The Seventies, particularly early to mid-, was the decade of the one-hit wonder. And we thought we’d covered them all until our kindly bartender in Reno reminded us of this 1975 tune by Sammy Johns that sold more than 3 million copies and stayed on the Billboard charts for 17 weeks, peaking at No. 5. Chevrolet reported an increase in van sales the following year. This tune unlocks the mystery behind The Mystery Machine.

Remote Patrol

Citizen Kane

11:15 p.m. TCM

We’re doing this mostly as a reminder to ourselves: this is the most critically acclaimed film that we’ve never watched and it’s not coming on at 11:15 p.m. where we are (guess we’ll have to cancel those plans that we don’t have). Drink pairing: Rose or Budweiser?


by Chris Corbellini


The Year of the Black Panther

As a first-year member of the Producers Guild of America, I got to vote for best picture already for the PGA’s Awards, and to me it was an easy choice: Green Book.

My fellow PGA members agreed. Green Book won the Daryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Production — giving it some momentum as Hollywood barrels into Oscar night. Will it win? I do think it’ll take home some of the peripheral awards — screenplay and supporting actor among them — but not the biggie, Best Picture. I feel the same way about Roma and to a slightly-lesser extent, A Star is Born.

No, this is Black Panther’s year. If you use a four-star system of grading a movie, it’s a ***¼ movie, with a ***** legacy, and I’ve never used five stars before. For a time, Black Panther was a movement. Generations of people who don’t go to movies went anyway to show their support, and it proved without a doubt that a movie with a largely African-American cast, crafted by an African-American director, can be a financial and cultural hit. You don’t make the cover of Time without having deep cultural relevance, and Black Panther joined Platoon, Star Wars, All the President’s Men, Thelma & Louise, Woody Allen, Humphrey Bogart, Steven Spielberg, and the Hollywood faces of #MeToo to get its close-up.

So there is history to consider here, and I think the Academy voters will look past the so-very-true story of Green Book, and the artistry of Roma, and award Black Panther for being something special within the trapping of the current Hollywood system, where only comic book movies are box office guarantees. (Ed Note: We agree. See January 31 edition of “It’s All Happening”)

Best Picture

Black Panther
Bohemian Rhapsody
The Favourite
Green Book
A Star Is Born

Who should win: Green Book
Who will win: Black Panther
So, yeah: Children of color can finally say, he looks like me. A superhero looks like me.

Actor in a Leading Role

Christian Bale, Vice
Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born
Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate
Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
Viggo Mortensen, Green Book

Who should win: Bradley Cooper
Who will win: Rami Malek
So, yeah: The creatives must have known from the dailies – Malek not only closely resembled Freddie Mercury, he captured a fleeting force of nature, especially during the Live Aid finale. I first noticed the actor during the HBO war series “The Pacific,” and thought big things were ahead for him. Now I wonder what’s next. Still, Cooper found the bruised, battered essence of a famous singer and also had to deal with a million moving parts as the director, including working with a first-time actress in the lead role. By degree of difficulty, Cooper should win this. But not to be.

Actress in a Leading Role
Yalitza Aparicio, Roma
Glenn Close, The Wife
Olivia Colman, The Favourite
Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born
Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Who should win: Olivia Colman
Who will win: Lady Gaga
So, yeah: There was a lot to like with Gaga … all the scenes with her father, the backstage stuff with Cooper, and the AA rehabilitation clinic. But the final song clinched this for her, and deservedly so. Colman was terrific though as a needy wackadoodle queen, and could pull off an upset here.

Actress in a Supporting Role
Amy Adams, Vice
Marina de Tavira, Roma
Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
Emma Stone, The Favourite
Rachel Weisz, The Favourite

Who should win: Regina King
Who will win: Regina King
So, yeah: Emma and Rachel cancel each other out. This one is all Regina. I went to a screening of “If Beale Street Could Talk,” with a Barry Jenkins Q&A afterward, and Jenkins lauded Regina for helping the lead actress, KiKi Layne, who was a newcomer and looked for some guidance wherever she could find it. Jenkins noted there’s a competitive tendency among actors to let such a rookie stumble about while filming, but, like her motherly character, King supported Layne in every scene. And you can tell.

Actor in a Supporting Role
Mahershala Ali, Green Book
Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman
Sam Elliott, A Star Is Born
Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Sam Rockwell, Vice

Who should win: Mahershala Ali
Who will win: Mahershala Ali
So, yeah: Ali is reaching Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington territory now, with back-to-back Oscar wins. Ali (as Dr. Don Shirley) had presence from his opening scene, sitting like a king on his throne in an apartment above Carnegie Hall. Only Grant could potentially steal this.

BlacKkKlansman, Spike Lee
Cold War, Paweł Pawlikowski
The Favourite, Yorgos Lanthimos
Roma, Alfonso Cuarón
Vice, Adam McKay

Who should win: Alfonso Cuaron
Who will win: Alfonso Cuaron
So, yeah: I have no idea why Cooper didn’t get nominated here. But … Cuaron’s movie is exquisitely crafted, and clearly personal. I think he’s wanted to tell this autobiographical story for some time, and like Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous, he was at the peak of his creative powers when he got his chance.

Adapted Screenplay
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
BlacKkKlansman, Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, and Spike Lee
Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty
If Beale Street Could Talk, Barry Jenkins
A Star Is Born, Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper, and Will Fetters

Who should win: A Star Is Born, Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper, and Will Fetters
Who will win: Can You Ever Forgive Me? Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty
So, yeah: Holofcener has been at this writing thing awhile, and has a gift for dialogue, even by gifted writer standards. Her screenplays feel lived-in, which is incredibly tough to do.

Original Screenplay
The Favourite, Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara
First Reformed, Paul Schrader
Green Book, Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie, and Peter Farrelly
Roma, Alfonso Cuarón
Vice, Adam McKay

Who should win: Green Book, Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie, and Peter Farrelly
Who will win: Green Book, Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie, and Peter Farrelly
So, yeah: I just loved this line from GB: “The world is full of people who don’t make the first move.” Still, the Favourite could slip away with this one. I f-cking hated the film’s “fade out with rabbits” ending, but The Favourite clearly points out just how cunning women can be, and how power corrupts absolutely.

Foreign Language Film
Capernaum, Lebanon
Cold War, Poland
Never Look Away, Germany
Roma, Mexico
Shoplifters, Japan

Who should win: Roma
Who will win: Roma
So, yeah: It’s not winning Best Picture. Consolation prize.

Animated Feature
Incredibles 2
Isle of Dogs
Ralph Breaks the Internet
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Who should win: Spider-Man
Who will win: Spider-Man
So, yeah: Don’t f-ck this up, Academy. I floated out of the movie theater after having watched it. It was Marvel’s best movie of the year, which should have its own category at this point.

Original Score
Black Panther
If Beale Street Could Talk
Isle of Dogs
Mary Poppins Returns

Who should win: BlacKkKlansman
Who will win: BlacKkKlansman
So, yeah: I remember the Isle of Dogs score more than anything else here. Still, there is not a single Spike Lee-Terence Blanchard collaboration that I’ve ever disliked (I even went to see Blanchard perform the scores from Lee’s films in Philadelphia once), and I think the musician is due for a statue.

Original Song
“All the Stars,” Black Panther
“I’ll Fight,” RBG
“The Place Where Lost Things Go,” Mary Poppins Returns
“Shallow,” A Star Is Born
“When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings,” The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Who should win: Shallow
Who will win: Shallow
So, yeah: This one was the easiest to handicap.

Documentary Short
Black Sheep
End Game
A Night at the Garden
Period. End of Sentence.

Who should win: No idea
Who will win: Period. End of Sentence.
So, yeah: You’d think as a PGA member I would have snuck over to the IFC Center and caught all of these at once, but I couldn’t pull it off this year. This is a dart throw.

Cold War, Lukasz Zal
The Favourite, Robbie Ryan
Never Look Away, Caleb Deschanel
Roma, Alfonso Cuarón
A Star Is Born, Matthew Libatique

Who should win: The Favourite
Who will win: Roma
So, yeah: Every shot in “The Favourite” tells its own story – the hallway ones in particular. But I still think Roma takes this. Cinematography is an insider’s award (though clearly movie-goers can tell when the cinematography stands out) and Cuaron drew raves from other directors for his work here. Note that the popularity of this category amongst working Hollywood creatives made the decision to banish this category to a commercial break such a head-scratcher, and it surprised me not at all that the Academy reconsidered.

Best Documentary Feature
Free Solo
Hale County This Morning, This Evening
Minding the Gap
Of Fathers and Sons

Who should win: Free Solo
Who will win: Free Solo
So, yeah: Another easy one.

Production Design
Black Panther
The Favourite
First Man
Mary Poppins Returns

Who should win: The Favourite
Who will win: The Favourite
So, yeah: Every backdrop is a visual medley. Wow.

Sound Mixing
Black Panther
Bohemian Rhapsody
First Man
A Star Is Born

Who should win: First Man
Who will win: Bohemian Rhapsody
So, yeah: The mix and edit are the main characters in First Man – from the opening scene when you are dropped into that rickety jet with Neil Armstrong until his muffled voice when his boots finally touch down onto the moon. That won’t be enough against Bohemian Rhapsody or A Star is Born — movies that breathe music. I give BR the edge because of the Live Aid ending, though I think A Star is Born’s mix is superior from credits to credits.

Costume Design
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Black Panther
The Favourite
Mary Poppins Returns
Mary Queen of Scots

Who should win: The Favourite
Who will win: Black Panther
So, yeah: I just keep coming back to all the tribes in Black Panther. So much color.

Film Editing
Bohemian Rhapsody
The Favourite
Green Book

Who should win: BlacKkKlansman
Who will win: Vice
So, yeah: I typically feel very strongly about editing, given my six-plus years toiling away on an Avid, but this year, meh. I picked Vice (I guess) because it was somewhat inventive, particularly when Dick Cheney tricks W into giving away most of his Presidential powers while they ate barbecue. But the best edit of the year by far was at the end of A Star is Born – a single elegant cut from a ballroom where she sings, to their home where he sings on a piano – and yet the film didn’t get a nom here, or in sound editing. At this point I wonder if Academy members, behind the scenes, can’t stand Bradley Cooper.

Sound Editing
Black Panther
Bohemian Rhapsody
First Man
A Quiet Place

Who should win: Roma/Black Panther/First Man/A Quiet Place
Who will win: Bohemian Rhapsody
So, yeah: Live Aid, for the win. A Quiet Place being nominated reminded me of the time when an NFL Films producer let a single shot play out for five minutes — Lions QB Matthew Stafford was wired and separated his shoulder, then painfully cracked it back in, then lobbied and returned to play, all in one shot — and my boss at the time suggested they submit that segment for the Sports Emmys for Best Editing.

Makeup and Hairstyling
Mary Queen of Scots

Who should win: Mary Queen of Scots
Who will win: Vice
So, yeah: Nicely done on Christian Bale. The transformation to Dick Cheney was complete.

Visual Effects
Avengers: Infinity War
Christopher Robin
First Man
Ready Player One
Solo: A Star Wars Story

Who should win: Ready Player One
Who will win: First Man
So, anyway, yeah: Ready Player One’s world was based on computer technology, and Spielberg nailed that part of it — with the King Kong escape and Shining dance off really standing out. The movie had verve whenever the kid was in his DeLorean. But the moon landing should be enough to win this.



by John Walters

Tweet Me Right

Starting Five

Charles In Charge

Love this from Charles Barkley on TNT last night, although the “That’s what we do, play basketball” is not the essential pull quote. The essential quote here is, “When did we ever get to the point where all people talk about is money?”

Charles was on fire last night. He also had some thoughts on Jussie Smollett:

Does this mean Jussie Smollett will soon sue TNT for $250 million?

2. Avon Calling…Up!

On the last day of January, billionaire hedge funder Bill Miller appeared on CNBC during the first hour of trading. Asked by CNBC’s Brian Sullivan, “What’s the last, most exciting new stock that you’ve added?” Miller replied immediately and concisely: “Avon.”

“Avon?” Swanson repeated. “Avon? AVP, are we talking about the cosmetics company.

Possibly because the hedge-funder didn’t hedge, or because his track record is so estimable, the stock shot up. When he first mentioned it, Miller added that it was trading at a buck-95. By the time CNBC’s producers posted the ticker 20 or so seconds later, it was trading at $2.01. By the end of the segment, as you can see by the above screen grab, it was up 37 cents, or nearly 20%. This morning, just a little more than three weeks later, Avon (AVP) is trading at $3.11, or up 58%.

In just three weeks. Miller claimed it could be a ten-bagger, Susie B.

We bought some AVP the moment Miller mentioned it (yes, sometimes investing really is that simple). Wish we’d bought more.

3. Going Dutch

Listen to this if you haven’t already. Dutch historian Rutger Bregman appeared at Davos a couple weeks ago and shamed the billionaires about flying in private jets from all over the globe to discuss climate change and also about how they so studiously avoid paying taxes: “I feel like I’m at a firefighters’ conference and we’re not allowed to talk about water.”

Perhaps because Bregman was so uncowed in the presence of elites, Tucker Carlson invited him on his Fox News show. He seemed to admire Bregman. Well, that went south pretty quickly. Fox News never aired the segment—Carlson says it’s because he, Carlson, used the “F-word.” What he doesn’t say is that he used it more than once and that Bregman (who will probably be hosting his own Fox News show by year’s end) clearly got under his skin.

4. Bangladesh Inferno

More than 100 people died in a fire in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, earlier this week. The inferno began when a container of compressed gas being toted in a car exploded. You can read more about it here. Things we didn’t know: Bangladesh is roughly the same size as Iowa but with 50 times the population.

5. O Brothel, Where Art Thou?

As we wended our way up Nevada highways yesterday from Beatty to Reno (a drive you all must do—once), we spotted the “town” of Mina, which appeared to house at least a dozen people. It also is home to the Wild Cat Brothel, whose sign also advertises “Free WiFi.” We regret not having stopped to say, “I’m not here for the sex, I just need to write the blog.”

There might have been a line about unlawful consent with a Mina.

Anyway, here is a helpful Wikipedia list of Nevada’s brothels (thought bubble pops into head about New York Times Travel section freelance story submission).


by John Walters

Starting Five


*The judges will also accept “Thar Shoe Blows,” “The Fall Of Zion,”  “So, Shoe Me!” and “Free Sole, Oh!” 

We don’t know much, but we do know we are glad we’re not Nike’s Duke shoe rep today.

One more thing: Folks are comparing this Zion Williamson moment to a Bo Jackson incident, but we see more of a Darryl Dawkins comparison. The integral thing here is not the injury, but rather the raw power of a hoops behemoth causing what was heretofore seen as an indestructible basketball-related apparatus to appear vulnerable.

2. Expire

You can look it up: We never tweeted or mentioned a word on the blog about Jussie Smollett before this. Two reasons: 1) we didn’t know who he was before this and 2) we had no idea what was real and what wasn’t. Maybe we’re getting better about expressing an opinion half-cocked (maybe not, but we’re trying).

We noticed some bad takes on the Twitter in the past 24 hours: one person wondered if we should be paying attention to Jussie’s “cry for help,” another took pains to note that “we should still believe Jussie just so we don’t forget all the real victims.” Yet a third felt the need to point out that more white people lie about crimes than black people.

No. No. And no. To each incident, assess it solely on its own merits. You can’t whine about Trump and MAGA not following rules and then the moment someone you support is dishonest, go off on the “they do it, too” tangent. Uh uh. In the immortal words of our guru Geno Auriemma, “What a dope.”

Also, maybe he really isn’t that good of an actor, you know?

Finally, just a thought for the morning and cable news shows: Maybe pump the brakes on the redemption tour visits when Smollett eventually is a free man again.

3. Death Valley Day

On one of the colder days Death Valley ever has experienced, we stayed at this oasis in Furnace Creek last night. It has been a movie star getaway for decades. If you’re ever in the area, at least get a drink at the bar of The Inn at Death Valley.

But to think, if we had just pushed on we could’ve stayed here.

Also, Death Valley is most definitely worth a day of your life (and now that we’ve been to all three—Bucket List, check that box—we feel confident saying that). It feels a lot like you’re starring in your own version of The Martian without having to farm with your own poop.

4. Incite-ful

–15 guns

— > 1,000 rounds of ammunition

— A hit list of Democratic pols and liberal-thinking cable newsers.

–A stockpile of steroids and HGH.

(Some folks are reading this and asking, “What’s the problem?”)

Coast Guard officer Christopher Hasson, 49, was arrested last week as some of his email drafts (“I want to kill every last person on earth”) and Google searches (“Where do most senators live in D.C.”) tripped a few wires with counterterrorism experts. We don’t know if Hasson was more susceptible to investigation because he is a member of a government military branch or if government watch dogs keep an eye out for certain trigger words/phrases or both. Or if all bald white guys are on a government list (heads up, SVP).

Either way Hasson, who allegedly considers Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivek a hero, had some bad intentions. And we assume there are others like him out there.

5. March Madness (En Route)

One of these men has been a Republican far longer than the other one…

Robert Mueller’s report, the Chinese Democracy of government investigations, may finally be arriving as early as next week. Which is to say, quoting Margo Channing (Bette Davis) in All About Eve, “Buckle your seat belts, we’re in for a bumpy night.”

A note or two: Mueller’s report goes to the Attorney General (William Barr), who then may exercise the discretion as to whether to show it to Congress (LEAKING!) or not. Also, Ken Starr’s special counsel investigation of President Bill Clinton was made entirely public, for comparison’s sake.

You may want to read the Twitter thread earlier Thursday by @HoarseWhisperer, who lays out how all of Mueller’s investigation has been about gathering information per a Trump-Russia connection as opposed to inducting actors. The indictments of men such as Manafort, Flynn and Stone are incidental to the greater cause, which is to gain information. Hence, no summoning of Trump family members as there was never any hope of them flipping on daddy in exchange for a lighter sentence. Give it a read.

Yes, the Ides of March are on the 15th of that month. We think it’s gonna get a little loony before that date.


by John Walters

Tweet Me Right

If this pooch hires Sarah Sanders as his press secretary…

Starting Five

Manny San Diegan

What’s Spanish for “Not worth it?” The San Diego Padres just rewarded shortstop Manny Machado with THE LARGEST FREE AGENT CONTRACT IN THE HISTORY OF AMERICAN SPORTS—for now. Ten years and $300 million, but that’s just the figure  Bryce Harper, a more attractive free agent, can lay at his prospective employers’ feet as they, too, explore free agency.

Machado, 26, hit 27 home runs with 107 RBI last season while not finishing in the top 100 in WAR ratings. Moreover, where sabermetrics don’t really venture, Machado has a sullen nature that seem not to make for a jubilant clubhouse. At best, he’s aloof. What have the Padres paid for? A slightly less affable Robinson Cano.

May we please bring these uniforms back to San Diego?

Granted, Cano was five years older when he signed with the Mariners in 2013, but in five seasons he has put together three All-Star campaigns while Seattle has appeared in zero postseason game. Granted also, the Padres have a bounty of hot young prospects. The problem is, Machado has never struck us much as a leader and that is part of what the Padres are paying him to be. A 10-year face of the friar franchise. It’s not fair to attempt to compare him with Tony Gwynn, sure, but can he at least try to be Benito Santiago?

2. He Doth Protest Too Much (> 1,100 Times)

The latest scathing report by the not-failing New York Times is the product of two years of Trumpian tactics of intimidation, pressure and humiliation on those who would dare to investigate him (i.e., do their jobs). Sounds as if somebody watched The Godfather and The Godfather II. And if you don’t think you have time or the stamina to read the entire thing, the NYT even provided a Cliff’s Notes version with four bite-size takeaways.

Flynn, Manafort, Cohen, Papadopoulos, Stone (more to come): This is the man who is actually draining the swamp

You don’t have to read the story, but click on it because the opening photo (not shown here) by Doug Mills is worthy of a Pulitzer. We did read the story, and while it’s easy to get lost in the legal and political jargon, this, like all Trumpian issues, distills down to schoolyard behavior: the class bully, under intense scrutiny by his peers, attempts to turn the tables by publicly accusing them of being the bullies. That’s all any of this is: the best defense is to go on offense.

3. In Haarms’ Way

Purdue won at Indiana’s Assembly Hall for the third time in a row, a first for the Boilermakers, thanks to a late tip-in by 7’3″ Dutch center Matt Haarms. The gang in Bloomington had been yelling “F**k Haarms” most of the second half after he was T’ed up. But he got the last laugh, reaching over a Hoosier defender for the decisive tip-in in the 48-46 win. The Boiler Up crew is now surprisingly in first place in the B1G. Matt Painter is a terrific coach.

Hoosier hotshot frosh Romeo Langford did not even attempt a shot in the second half, which will inspire thousands of “Wherefore Art Thou” tweets…

4. It’s Not That I’m Lazy, I Just Don’t Care

Yesterday marked the 20th anniversary of the release of Office Space, and besides Mike Judge and his film never getting their due at the time for its greatness and prescience, he probably deserves a residual from every episode of The Office, both BBC and NBC versions, that appeared later. Damn, it feels good to be a gangster.

No one under the age of 60 has ever sat in a cubicle or worked in an office park or looked at an Excel spread sheet and not seen and/or quoted this film. And who knew Gary Cole was this funny? Here’s The Ringer with an oral history

5. Back To The Salt Mimes

Another late-to-the-game entry, but we really enjoyed this performance by comic magician Matt Edwards on Britain’s Got Talent a few years back. He reminds us a little of Smeagol (and not his alter-ego Gollum) from the Lord Of The Rings films.

You can feel the skepticism from Simon early on. The act takes awhile to build. But eventually Simon, too, is won over.

Edwards made it to the semi-finals, eventually finishing 2nd in the Public Vote.

Music 101

Loves Me Like A Rock

Despite that unfortunate ‘do, Paul Simon served up pop hits for a quarter-century and extended his career another 25 years before finally exiting late last summer (to retirement, not death). This was from an early Seventies appearance on the NYC-based Dick Cavett Show, where the Queens native was a frequent guest. Notice, it’s around 15 years before Graceland and Simon—no dummy—is already surrounding himself with African-American side musicians and backup singers.

So plentiful have the hits been for Simon that you might be surprised to learn that this 1973 tune, not one that fans immediately mention, peaked at No. 2 on the charts.

Remote Patrol

North Carolina at Duke

9 p.m. ESPN

The Heels’ Nassir Little is raw but athletic and gifted. Kind of like a sane version of Vernon Maxwell.

Scalpers are asking in the ‘hood of $2,500 a ticket for tonight’s battle at Cameron Indoor. That’s the Zion Effect, as the Tar Heels (20-5) are not quite the powerhouse that won the national championship just two seasons ago, but they’ll be up for their first of two scheduled meetings with their top-ranked Tobacco Road neighbors (22-2) . Former President Obama will be in attendance, as will good friends of ours who have front row baseline seats.


by John Walters

Tweet Me Right

Ad idea: Woman reaches top of pole. Zoom in and she’s grabbing an Arby’s cheddar deluxe.

Starting Five

1. Bye, George

Our first thought upon seeing this iconic photo of George Mendonsa planting one on Greta Friedman in Times Square on V-J Day (August 14, 1945) was, Things sure were a lot less complicated before #MeToo.

Mendonsa died yesterday, two days before his 96th birthday, after falling at the assisted living facility where he lived with his wife of 70 years in Middletown, R.I. The photo of the strangers smooching, shot by Alfred Eisenstadt (four frames in 10 seconds), captures all of the euphoria of World War II ending and The Greatest Generation winning it.

One can argue that, short of writing and adopting the Constitution, helping to defeat Adolf Hitler and also Japan in World War II is the single greatest achievement, without any downside, of this nation. The photo of Mendonsa and Friedman basks in the moment and is the single greatest unstaged photo (unlike the planting of the flag at Iwo Jima) from that war.

2. Great, And Not So Great, Walls

A memory: When I was working for NBC Sports at the 2008 Olympics, and cognizant that my old colleague Grant Wahl was there for SI to cover soccer, I pitched a semi-regular segment called “The Grant Wahl of China” in which Grant would appear and talk about the soccer goings on. Grant was, understandably, all for it. The NBC brass, not so much.

Anyway, one of our takeaways from the border wall debate (and you are free to watch Stephen Miller debate Chris Wallace on Fox News, or Trevor Noah or John Oliver demolish the idea) is how President Trump and his sycophants refer to this as an “invasion.” The Chinese erected their “Great Wall” mostly during the Ming Dynasty (14th to 17th century) to keep out invaders from the East and it was greatly effective. It also helped China become the most reclusive and soul-crushing-to-its-individuals nation on earth. There are few things more hopeless than being a Chinese citizen.

(Will someone with more tech expertise than us do a mashup of this viral moment with the one where Jeb Bush despondently begs, “Please clap?”)

As for our proposed wall, it just seems different to be talking about “invaders” who, should they get through, may be working for you as a housekeeper, lawncare specialist or back-of-the-house kitchen staff off the books. It’s curious how many MAGA fans, including the MAGA master himself, employ these invaders.

3. Jules

Beck Bennett is one of the few SNL cast members of the past 25 years, if not the only one, who was actually more heralded before he joined the cast. Bennett has been, like the other males currently in the cast, a solid but unspectacular performer the past few years (Kate McKinnon is the show’s unchallenged standout). This bit, though, and this character, “Jules, Who Sees Things A Little Differently,” caught our eye. It’s a smarmy version of Stefon, perhaps, but we enjoyed it (video in the hyperlink)

4. Like A Roiling Stone

Facing trial, Roger Stone posts a photo of the judge who will hear his case on Instagram with crosshairs behind her, and then uses the word “hitman” in the first sentence. Later yesterday he formally apologized and blamed the posting on some rando who works for him (Eric? Don Jr?). But Roger understands how the internet works and the horse is out of the barn.

It’s a minor miracle that none of the major players from the media or those investigating this sham of a White House, or that none of those associated with the President Trump, have yet been assassinated. But at this point would it really surprise you? And if we sound over-dramatic, that’s only because in just the past week both Donald Trump and his A-1 patsy, Roger Stone, have not-so-subtly issued a call to arms. It won’t surprise you or me if something terrible happens. Let’s not pretend no one saw it coming or that the agents who encouraged it did not know what they were doing. This is Gotti-style intimidation.

5. Postmodern Jukebox Heroes

Call us late to the party. Guilty. Postmodern Jukebox has apparently been around since 2011 and we’d never heard of them until we were researching the tune for today’s Music 101 below (I’m now girding for an incredulous comment from Susie B.).

Founded by pianist Scott Bradlee (that’s him banging the keys in the videos) out of his Astoria, Queens, apartment, PMJ is a rotating collection of musicians who put a classic (if not classical) touch on contemporary favorites. But to say that is selling them far short. The arrangements are solid and the music videos for “Umbrella” and especially “Don’t Stop Believing” are as good as anything we’ve seen in years (the choreography for the latter is as good as anything in La La Land).

It’s fun. It’s happy. It swings, baby, it really swings! And PMJ’s arrangements of modern tunes demonstrate that a well-written song is timeless (and maybe just maybe sounds better with real instruments and no auto-tune) no matter what style you play it in. Like me, you might just begin to wonder if PMJ’s reimagining of a few of these songs are not superior to the original versions.

And you just have to feel so good for all those parents who sent their kids to Julliard or Berklee or Belmont and wondered if they’d ever do anything with all that musical schooling. Look, ma, I’m doing “Blurred Lines” as a hoe-down!

We went down a PMJ rabbit hole last night and here are our five recommended favorites, ranked, for suggested YouTube binging: 1) Don’t Stop Believin’ 2) Shake It Off 3) Umbrella   4) Blurred Lines 5) (See Below).

PMJ is currently on tour. This is what it should sound like when/if you arrive in heaven.

Music 101

It Wasn’t Me

It doesn’t matter if it’s Shaggy and RikRok or here, Postmodern Jukebox, or even if it were Shaggy and Scooby Doo (I’d listen). Lyrics may offend some, but this is a certifiably classic song. From 2001. The vocalist here is Ariana Savalas and yes, she’s Telly’s daughter. Who loves you, baby? (Stick around for the Carlton Dance).

And for those yearning for original recipe, here’s the original duo performing it in front of Michael Jackson (“You the original banger!”), Elizabeth Taylor and Macauley Culkin.

And yes, the “Shaggy Defense” is now an actual defense and it’s being trotted out daily from certain well-known precincts.

Remote Patrol

Captains Courageous

8 p.m. TCM

Our cousin is a big movie buff. In fact, few buffs are buffier than she when it comes to films. And last weekend she told me that this, Captains Courageous starring Spencer Tracy, is her VERY FAVORITE film. That’s good enough for us. From 1938. Tracy won a Best Actor Oscar for this portrayal.


by John Walters

Tweet Me Right

Starting Five

Why Not Ben?

The Oscars are less than one week away and you may have heard that they will not have a host. Our idea: Is it not too late to get TCM host Ben Mankiewicz to host?

Why? Well, the Oscars are an annual celebration of the year’s top achievement in film-making. Turner Classic Movies (TCM) is a 24-7-365 salute to the best films ever put on screen. TCM’s library is not absolutely complete, and of course it skews golden era Hollyood, but the network, which does not air commercials, is the purest channel on TV in term of staying true to its mission (we’re looking at you Food Network, MTV and even ESPN). Mankiewicz, who took over as lead host following the death of Robert Osborne in 2017, is the face of TCM.

Herman Mankiewicz and Orson Welles

In the past year or so, Mankiewicz, 51, has grown comfortable in his role. He’s not a comic, but he has a sharp wit and and sprinkles his sense of humor sparely. A few weeks back he introduced Casablanca and said, “For those of you who are unfamiliar with the plot, a giant shark terrorizes a beach resort town off the coast of Massachusetts.”

Mankiewicz never forgets that the movie is the star, not he. And what a refreshing touch that would be on Oscar night. A host who doesn’t force the movie stars to deliver pizzas or take selfies or sit uncomfortably as they become the punch line of a joke. A host who instead moves proceedings along, is a student and acolyte of the medium (Mankiewicz’s grandfather, Herman, co-wrote Citizen Kane, for which he won an Oscar; his great uncle, Joseph, won two Oscars as a director and writer) and is not there to upstage or embarrass anyone (himself included).

Hollywood people, including movie stars, know and love TCM. My guess is they enjoy the job Mankiewicz does. He’d be a popular host with the live audience and his presence would be a reminder why we’re watching: it’s about the movies.

2. Top-Ranked Cadet

Meet Sarah Zorn. A senior at The Citadel from Burnettown, S.C., Zorn is the first regimental commander at the Charleston military academy in its 176-year history. It was only in 1995 that Shannon Faulkner became the academy’s first female cadet, but Faulkner  dropped out during her nobb year. She would later reveal that people had threatened to kill her parents.

Zorn, a black belt in three disciplines, is on an Army ROTC scholarship. As regimental commander, she is the student leader of the 2,400-student enrollment at The Citadel. The academy, which is affiliated with the Department of Defense but is not funded by the federal government , is less than 10% female.

3. You Don’t Have To Be Andrea Ocasio-Cortez To Oppose Amazon-NYC

Last week Amazon told New York City that it had failed to bend the knee enough in terms of welcoming the online-retail monolith to Queens (the tax subsidies were coming, but there were too many radical leftists making their voices of opposition heard, or so we were told, and Amazon, whose CEO had had enough bad press for one lifetime this month, decided it did not want to inhabit the borough of Archie Bunker and Frank Costanza).

Immediately after the news broke, ordinarily centrist and diplomatic talking heads on CNBC such as David Faber and Andrew Ross Sorkin blasted the deal. As did a couple of friends of mine on our group text chain. The only major voice of opposition I saw in the news was 29 year-old freshman Congresswoman Andrea Ocasio-Cortez, who, although well-meaning (I feel), may be a little fiscally naive and very, very left of the goal posts.

I’ll admit I didn’t understand the issue as well as I might have, but I did know one thing: the voices I heard decrying the move—Faber, Sorkin, the odd friend—are all extremely financially comfortable and are all pro-business at nearly all costs.

I wasn’t sure how to feel and obviously I could stand to learn more about tax revenue, corporate behavior, etc.

Then I read this Op-Ed in The New York Times (just mentioning this newspaper will automatically disqualify the arguments the writer is making, at least for some) by David Leonhart that clarified the issue for me. And reminded me that the people calling NYC stupid for standing up to Amazon have the luxury of not having to, or not caring about, make the choice between integrity and prosperity.

“Sure, Amazon was pitting cities against one another, but this is how the game is played” is just a double-breasted suit and a Tommy gun away from paying protection money so that your small business does not meet with an unfortunate accident. In this case, the New Yorkers opposing Amazon were Robert DeNiro’s bus driver in A Bronx Tale and those in favor were all who care to bathe in the splendor of Chazz Palmientiri’s munificence. He will lend you his Cadillac for a date, after all.

Short-term, New York City lost. Long term, maybe it sent a message to the other middle-class bus drivers that they don’t have to compromise. A little poorer financially, a little less poor in spirit.

4. Broken Record, Then Broken Streak

Wabash sophomore Jack Davidson made his 95th consecutive free throw on Saturday in the first half against Oberlin. That number broke the all-divisions NCAA record for consecutive free throws made. On Davidson’s next free throw attempt, he missed, so the record stands at 95.

Davidson, who scored a game-high 27 points in the 89-76 win, is now averaging 24.6 ppg for his 20-5 Little Giants. He actually missed two free throws Saturday, lowering his season FT % to .930.

By the way, this dude above? That’s Aston Francis of Division III Wheaton (Ill.). He leads all scorers across all three NCAA divisions, averaging 32.4 points per game. Francis had a 54-point effort earlier this season.

5. La Chica Es Loco*

*You may correct us on the grammar if we’re off. 

Last week the New York Post published the funniest story we’ve read this year. The author, above, is Cassie Lane, an Aussie and former WAG who, to her credit, has a taste for putting words on the page. She previously published a piece on the misery of being a WAG.

A few things we enjoy about Cassie’s NYP story: 1) the fact that it features four selfies and one other photo of the author, but no other photos. Did Phil Mushnick ever receive such vanity treatment? 2) the way it appeals to the NYP’s MAGA-centric, semi-literate audience.  The story is billed as a “living hell” but no actual misfortune ever befalls Lane and her boyfriend, and by the way, whose idea was it to take a driving trip through rural Mexico anyway? It’s the THREAT that she FEELS is what she’s writing about. 3) Finally, Cassie casually mentions that she and her beau cut in the gasolina line in front of roughly 80 cars but she explained it away by saying, and I paraphrase, that desperate times call for desperate measures. Gee, I wonder if any Mexicans trying their best to get to the United States can appreciate that feeling.

Music 101

Sugar We’re Goin’ Down

Is there a shorter all-around band than Fall Out Boy? Is anyone from the Chicago-based band tall enough to ride this ride? Although Patrick Stump (aptly named) is the band’s lead singer, bassist Pete Wentz became the band’s cover boy. Wentz attempted to commit suicide shortly before the band’s 2005 debut album was released but then that album, fueled by this critically praised single, went double platinum and FOB earned a Best New Artist Grammy. Was that more than they bargained for?

Remote Patrol

High Noon

8 p.m. TCM

In which Gary Cooper engages in a verbal shootout with Bomani Jones and Pablo Torre, guns them down in the street and departs with Grace Kelly. This plot sounds highly questionable.

The 1952 film, which won four Oscars (including Best Actor for Cooper), is often cited by Geno Auriemma as a study in character. At the time this film was made, Cooper was 50 and Kelly was 22 so she should have at least been nominated for an Oscar for so convincingly Acting Interested.