IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

 

Starting Five

Donald’s Trump Card

Can you imagine the look on the president’s face the first time someone told him that he had the power to declare a “National Emergency” (“a MAJOR award!”) pretty much at his whim? Since 1976, and don’t ask us why, Congress has ceded this “National Emergency”, um, trump card, to the executive branch.

And when Donald Trump found out about that, he had his unassailable weapon that can come in over the top of any Congressional voting. So, yeah, when a major hurricane ravages Puerto Rico, just declare a National Emergency, right? No, not for that? Mass shootings? Nope, just not feeling it. Climate change? Yeah, no. Someone else’s problem.

A border wall? Presto!

Since 1976 presidents have signed 59 National Emergencies. The difference with this one is that the president only did so as a Hail Mary pass after a 35-day government shutdown and after a bipartisan Congress refused to give him the funding for his wall that he wanted.

This morning in the Rose Garden the president said, “I didn’t need to do this. I just wanted to do it faster.” Doesn’t sound like much of an emergency.

2. No Life On Mars

Significant that on a week in which Chuck Yeager tweeted about how he can’t believe he has reached his 96th birthday (read the final chapter of The Right Stuff and you won’t believe it, either) that the Mars Rover, 15 years old, has been declared on Mars. Sailors fighting in the dance hall/Oh man, look at those cavemen go…


We know what you’re thinking: Does this mean that Matt Damon is dead? No way. Jason Bourne has been in much stickier situations than being stranded on an uninhabited planet.

3. Tomorrow Never Knows

This sounds like someone in the writers’ room at Saturday Night Live came up with this idea as a sketch and someone else said, “Wait. No. That’s too good. Let’s save it for a movie.”

The premise: a young, scuffling musician suffers a head injury and when he comes to he soon realizes that he lives in a world where the Beatles never existed. Yet he still remembers all their songs. Yesterday is our favorite trailer since A Star Is Born and it brims with that cheeky kind of humor you saw in Notting Hill. Kate McKinnon is in it, too. Done.

The film won’t come out until June 28. We’re a little peeved they put the trailer out this early. We’re going to go through the 14 stages of infatuation with it and by the time it’s finally released, well, we’ll probably already be over it.

4. Amagone

Yesterday, after a few New Yorkers declared that Queens already had a famous resident with a history of embarrassing text photos to a paramour-or-less (never change, Carlos Danger), Amazon reversed itself and declared that it would not build a second headquarters in the borough (who’s tracking that package).

From an infrastructure and tax revenue perspective, the politicians and advocates who pushed against Amazon’s migration to Long Island City were either blindingly ignorant or naive. On the other hand, the city’s still able to sell an apartment for $238 million, so it’s not about to go down the tubes.

As a resident of nearly three decades who finds that half the trouble (and 1/3 the cost) of traveling from New York to LA is simply getting to the airport, we never quite understood why Amazon would want to plant itself in the midst of the worst traffic snarl in America. Long Island City?!? So are you gonna take the L.I.E., Northern Boulevard or Queen Boulevard to get to Laguardia or JFK? The BQE?!? Are you kidding me! I mean, there’s an entire Seinfeld episode devoted to the fastest route to JFK.

So from that standpoint, we think Amazon saved itself and its executives a world of hurt. But railing against the company’s arrival as a New Yorker? Dumb.

5. Unicorn Poop*

*The judges never envisioned typing that headline

This ad, from 2015, reminds us partly of those arch Axe Body Spray ads and partly of The Bard character from Something Rotten. But what it really is is an advertisement for the power of advertising. The company Squatty Potty saw sales increase 600% after this ad went viral that year.

We wish this concept had been the focus of a Mad Men episode. You can totally see Ginsberg coming up with this idea, Peggy trying to get her head around it, Don shooting it down because he was really mad at someone with whom he was having an affair and projecting on to Ginsberg, then Joan saying something that made everyone realize maybe it could work, followed by Roger saying he loved the idea. Pete would be the one suffering with hemorrhoids through the episode and taking advantage of the product samples being sent over.

Music 101

Goodbye To Love

Is this really the song to be playing on a post-Valentine’s Day hangover? No one had the silky, creamy voice of Karen Carpenter and no wedding in the early Seventies was allowed to take place without at least one Carpenters song on the play list. This tune came out in the summer of ’72 and reached No. 7 on the charts. Some of the sibling duo’s crazed fans were upset by the fuzz guitar solo in the middle of the song, while critics hail, because of that solo (and the one at the end) that this is possibly the first power ballad.

Remote Patrol

Titanic

8 p.m. TCM

Life Boat

10 p.m. TCM

Abandon ship!!! James Cameron’s modern classic (1997), which won a record-tying 11 Oscars, including Best Picture, is followed by Alfred Hitchcock’s 1944 Best Picture nominee. We’re reading In The Heart Of The Sea at the moment so this lost-at-sea doubleheader couldn’t be more timely.

 

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right

Starting Five

These photos, of Abigail and of the prime suspect, were taken by Liberty German hours or even minutes before she and Abigail were murdered.

Delphi Murders, Two Years Later

Yes, today is the one-year anniversary of the horrific Parkland shooting in south Florida. But at least there the police nabbed the killer.

Today is also the second anniversary of the discovery of the bodies of two junior high-aged girls on a hiking trail in northwestern Indiana. Their killer still has yet to be apprehended.

On February 14, 2017, the bodies of Liberty German, 14, and Abigail Williams, 13, were discovered just off a hiking trail in Delphi, Indiana. The girls had gone on a hike the afternoon before, a Monday, Presidents’ Day. They were never seen alive again, although a voice can be heard on one of the girls’ cell phones ordering, “Down the hill.”

The two girls’ bodies were found beneath a decaying railroad bridge. Heres’ the Indianapolis Monthly with a powerful account of what happened, what is known, what the police have yet to share, and why two years out, no killer has yet been found.

2. Paulie Walnuts

A federal judge, Amy Berman Jackson, has found that Paul Manafort continually lied to Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel investigation after copping a plea deal. Manafort, 69, is likely going away for the rest of his life to prison. Manafort joins Michael Flynn, Michael Cohen and George Papadopoulos as former Trump aides who lied to investigators about their involvement with Russians or their intermediaries during the 2016 election.

So you have to ask yourself, Why do these men consider the truth worse than a lie, especially when they know that being caught in the lie is only going to make their jail sentence worse? The two most likely explanations: 1) they can’t possibly wrangle a pardon from President Trump if they tell the truth (perhaps because he would be removed from office) or 2) you know what happens to people who expose Vladimir Putin’s corruption?

So Paulie goes away for good, most likely. It was a nice run of scamming and wealth. He must be satisfied that he’s done as much as he can do.

3. Dirty Sanchez

A number of sources are now confirming that Michael Sanchez, the brother of Lauren Sanchez, who is the paramour-or-less in the Jeff Bezos affair, is the one who tipped off AMI and provided the text messages.

To paraphrase the Eagles, “Did he do it for love? Did he do it for money? Did he do it for spite? Did he think he had to, honey?”

Michael Sanchez is reportedly tight with Carter Page and Roger Stone. And also a supporter of Trump, who hates the Washington Post, which Bezos owns. On the other side of it, imagine you’re dating literally the wealthiest man in the world and then your brother comes along and mucks it up. Not cool, Michael. Not cool.

Then again, yeah, adultery isn’t cool either, Jeff. There are no heroes here.

4. Get Behind This

His name is Dave Assman. He lives in Melville, Saskatchewan, and wanted vanity plates for his truck. The DMV said no, that the word might be deemed offensive. He took matters into his own hands, emblazoning his surname on, what else, the vehicle’s rear.

5. Another Night at MSG, Another King *

*The judges will also accept “The Man Who Would Be Kingslayer”

On Tuesday it was a Fox Terrier named King winning the Westminster Kennel Club show.

On Wednesday it was actress Regina King watching as Sixers All-Star Joel Embiid sailed over her head as she sat courtside. And yes, the Knicks lost again.

Reserves

Happy Valentine’s to these two who just can’t take their eyes off one another…

Music 101

Cupid

Seems like an appropriate song for the day, via the legendary voice of Sam Cooke. Listen closely for the sound of an arrow being drawn back, made by a pair of backing vocalists. The song charted at No. 17 in 1961. Three years later, Cooke was dead, from a gunshot wound to the chest. At the time he was wearing only shoes and a sports jacket.

Remote Patrol

Murray State at Austin Peay

9 p.m. ESPN2

Your best chance this month to catch Murray State’s Ja Morant, the most talented college basketball player (23.9 ppg, 10.2 assists) not wearing a Duke jersey this winter.

 

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right


Ladies, we realize he’s irresistible, but c’mon.

Starting Five

Nuked By Duke

ESPN’s Jimmy Dykes had a good line about the Blue Devils’ sanguine attitude as far as opposing teams wearing black against them (for blackout games) in their own gyms: “It’s their funeral.”

Those words seemed ill-fitting as Louisville led Duke by 23 points after 30 minutes and Blue Devil super frosh Zion Williamson sitting with four fouls. At that point, with the Cardinals up 59-36 at the YUM Center, Dykes said, “It’s over but it’s not over.”

Zion (27 points, 12 boards) returned, the Fighting Ks harassed the ‘ville into a glut of turnovers, and Duke scored the winning free throws with 14 seconds remaining to win, 71-69. Duke outscored Louisville 35-10 over the final 9:58. All but three of Duke’s points were  scored by true freshmen.


Coach K to his squad during a timeout when they trailed big. “I don’t coach losers.” No, he does not. That was the largest comeback (23 points) of his career.

Also, on the earlier ESPN game, Kentucky lost by 2 at home to LSU on a buzzer-beater put-back that should have been disallowed due to goaltending. Dick Vitale and Karl Ravech called that game and I only mention that because V, Ravech, and Ravech’s toupee are the three longest-tenured employees at ESPN.

2. White Like Me

We love an April Fool’s Day-themed issue as much as the next reader, but couldn’t Esquire have waited until April to release it? Meet Ryan Morgan, 17, of West Bend, Wisconsin. He’s been selected because he’s just a typical teenager from a typical American county (that happened to vote 67% in favor of Trump).

If that young lady looks familiar, she went on to play Bailey Quarters on WKRP In Cincinnati

The concept is nothing new for magazines. Newsweek did a series like this back in 1966.

What made this, at least for us, worthy of derision is the tagline on the cover that begins “What It’s Like To Grow Up White…” Just what we needed as a nation. Another story detailing the plight of the great white male.

3. Three-sy Does It

Our Twitter friend and frequent tipster Gene from the Bay Area alerted us to a sweet little stat: The last three number one overall NBA draft picks have combined to make four career three-pointers. Or fewer than Steph Curry or Klay Thompson make in a game and often in a half.

Ben Simmons is 0-14 career from beyond the arc, which is just startling for a dude who plays the 2 or 3, much less a top overall pick. Markelle Fultz is 4-14, all four going in this season. DeAndre Ayton is 0-4.

Three top overall picks, 32 combined career three attempts, four made, or 12.5%.

Of course the most alarming aspect of this is simple: Hasn’t the NBA learned the value of accurate three-point shooting? Will they figure it out after the Warriors win their fourth NBA championship of the past five seasons this June? To be fair, the Houston Rockets and not the Dubs have led the NBA in threes per game in five of the past six seasons and have yet to make the NBA Finals.

Magee is going to own whatever rec league he plays in five years from now

But the Warriors are the vanguard of the prolific threes era. And, much the way ol’ ball coaches in CFB finally came around to the idea that you have to score in order to win, so too are NBA coaches beginning to realize that the game is won outside the arc. Milwaukee and Golden State are both at the top of their respective conferences and are Nos. 2 and 4, respectively, in threes made.

But a Stephen Curry or a Klay Thompson doesn’t come around every year. Or doe he? Fletcher Magee is 6’4″, plays for Wofford and for the second season in a row leads Division I in three-pointers (109). In fact, last weekend he surpassed Duke’s J.J. Redick (a teammate of Simmons and, earlier this season, Fultz) for No. 2 on the all-time list of career three-pointers made in Division I. Magee has now drained 460 career threes and has an outside chance of catching Oakland’s Travis Bader, who has the record with 504.

Will someone draft him, simply as a spot-up sniper? We’ll see. Magee does not appear on any mock drafts that we’ve seen.

4.  High Of The Tiger

In Houston, a few potheads entered an abandoned home to smoke weed. In the garage they found not a bean bag chair but a live tigerDamn, this is some good sh*t. The good news is that the tiger is okay, that the po-po didn’t go Harambe on it, and that it’s already been transferred to a humane habitat about 80 miles north. Thank God for stoners…

5. Of King & Kingpin

Fox on the run

At the 143rd Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show King, a wire fox terrier, was named Best In Show.

At Federal District Court in Brooklyn El Chapo, a Mexican drug kingpin, was convicted on all 10 counts against him and now faces life imprisonment.

King was led away on a leash. El Chapo, real name Joaquin Guzman Loera, was led away in handcuffs.

Music 101

We Will Rock You

Our musical brother Randall reminded us earlier this week that there’s no good reason Queen had to make this song a dirge. And not a bad concert opener at that (we saw Queen on this tour and vaguely remember this; we remember Freddie’s leather jacket better).

Remote Patrol

Lawrence of Arabia

8 p.m. TCM

Julie Christie is that way. But stay focused, Omar. That’s your next film.

John, hasn’t this item simply become “What’s my favorite thing on TCM today?” 

It’s Lawrence of A-Freakin’-Rabia. Show a little respect.

Seven Oscar wins, including Best Picture and, for David Lean, a well-deserved Best Director. But, to answer your question, yes. Yes, it has.

 

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right


Trash league. Maybe this is the latest iteration of the Eurostep, as in “You’re o’stepping all over the court…”

Starting Five

Wall Nuts

Substantive discourse about border security? Nope. All Twitter, and the President, were concerned about last night is who’s crowd was bigger. Donald said he crammed 35,000 MAGA fans into a 6,500-person capacity arena. The El Paso P.D. said no, and it estimated Beto O’Rourke’s throng to be roughly 10,000 to 15,000.

Meanwhile, MAGA fans taking the word of a man who’s lived his entire adult life in a skyscraper on Fifth Avenue over that of El Paso citizens who’ve lived there through two dozen Vern Lundquist visits. I mean…the self-delusion is real.

2. Dem Dems

If you missed it, here was Saturday Night Live‘s “Them Trumps, ” a takeoff on the idea that the President was just as corrupt but this time was black, kind of like the family in Empire.

That’s not really a good segue, other than phonetically, into what this item is about: the already far-too-crowded field of Democratic presidential candidates still nearly a year out from the Iowa caucuses. Thus far: Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Julian Castro, John Delaney, Tulsi Gabbard, Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren and a few more who aren’t even worth noting.

Harris is smart, a former prosecutor, and is in favor of legalizing weed. Has already taken the wind out of pearl-clutchers by saying she smoked, inhaled, and enjoyed.

Exploring and likely to announce: Pete Buttigieg (mayor of South Bend, Afghan War veteran, Harvard-educated, 37 and openly gay), Kirsten Gillibrand, Joe Biden, Beto O’Rourke, Mike Bloomberg.

A top five? Harris, Biden, O’Rourke, Bloomberg (if he runs; unlikely) and our wild card is Buttigieg, mainly because we think Trump just wouldn’t know how to deal with him.

South Bend friends have extolled the virtues of Mayor Pete to us for a few years now. Here comes the national stage.

We’re reminded of those lists of kids who announce that they’re entering the NBA draft when at least 75% of them would be better served by remaining in school.

3. What’s My Scene?

For its annual Hollywood issue, Vanity Fair had a most excellent idea: to explore the 25 most influential film scenes from the past 25 years in film. They nailed most of the big ones (“I drink your milkshake” from There Will Be Blood, the storming of Omaha Beach from Saving Private Ryan, etc.) and, without saying it explicitly, make a bigger point: some scenes surpass the films in which they exist. That is, it’s the scene we remember often, not the film.

Which is fine.

What scenes are missing from the list? The opening scene from Inglourious Basterds (that film has about 3 scenes that might qualify), the “Please, Mr. President” scene from Inside Llewyn Davis, the “Tiny Dancer” scene from Almost Famous, the “Call It” scene from No Country For Old Men, the deposition scene from A Social Network.

Give us yours…

4. Zapping Zapruder

Abraham Zapruder: the man who “shot” John F. Kennedy

We watched Jackie late the other night for the first time (so good, so depressing) and a thought hit us: on that terrible day in Dallas nearly 56 years ago, there must have been a crowd of 500 to 1,000 people in Dealey Plaza (if it had been Donald Trump, he’d have sworn it was 35,000) and yet history shows that only one person, Abraham Zapruder, came away with video footage of the President Kennedy’s assassination. One. Not even any of the news networks (and yes, cable news networks did not yet exist) had it.

That was the most memorable event to take place on American soil in the 20th century, and were it not for one man’s home movie camera, there’d be no footage of it.

Think about where we are today. Almost every person in any crowd is toting a video recorder the size of a pack of cigarettes (and almost no one is toting a pack of cigarettes). What percentage of the crowd would be videotaping such a moment as it happened today? 25%? 50%?

Astounding how much the world changes in half a century. Of course, President William McKinley was fatally shot (he died eight days later of gangrene) in 1901, in Buffalo, and there’s no video footage or camera stills of that event.

5. With A Cameo From Her Husband

Of course Vogue’s “73 Questions” videos are staged to a large degree, but that doesn’t mean they’re always easy to pull off or that, after more than six dozen queries, we can’t glean a little about the true personality/character of the subject. Our favorite folks thus far have been Emma Stone, Saoirse Ronan and now, Gisele Bundchen.

The previous extent of our knowledge of the German-by-way-of-Brazilian supermodel (makes you wonder what her grandfather did, no?), in terms of audio with video, was hearing her complain that her husband’s receivers weren’t very good at catching the football after that second Super Bowl defeat to the Giants. Here, though, she is animated, warm, and refreshingly unguarded. You be the judge.

And yes, we’re wondering where they go next with this series. 73 Questions With Tom Hanks would be fun. Or Larry David (with JB Smoove). Or with the guy who actually asks the questions.

Music 101

Tonight You Belong To Me

On September 18, 1978, the four members of KISS each released a solo album on the same day. For sheer unbridled late Seventies audacity, only Dirk Diggler’s brief foray into the music business and Farrah Fawcett leaving Charlie’s Angels after Season 1 comes close (if you were not alive, Farrah was the BIGGEST THING ON THE PLANET for a brief time).

Anyway, Paul Stanley‘s is our favorite of the four albums, even if Gene’s peaked higher (22, to Paul’s 40) on the Billboard charts and Ace is the only one who had a hit single (“New York Groove” peaked at 13, although most fans don’t realize it’s a cover). Some critics think this was the moment that the band’s nosedive, relatively, began. They’re still out on tour right now. But they never regained the momentum they created from 1975-1978.

Remote Patrol

Night Train To Munich 

4 p.m. TCM

A film released in 1940 telling the story of a Czech inventor and his daughter who are kidnapped by the Gestapo once they storm into Prague. A British agent, disguised as a high-ranking German official, follows and attempts to save them by wooing the daughter. Casablanca (1942) follows directly after at 6 p.m. Remember, both films made and released at the outset of World War II, before anyone knew what the outcome would be. Something to consider as you watch. If you watch. You’re gonna watch, right?

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right


(Take him No. 1. Don’t overthink it).

Speaking of number one overall picks…

Starting Five

Kacey IS The Sunshine Band

At the Grammys, which we missed, Kacey Musgraves (whom we adored for “Follow Your Arrow” a few years back), wins Album Of The Year and Best Country Album for Golden Hour. Also, Childish Gambino wins Record of the Year and Song of the Year (and no, we still cannot tell you the distinction) for “This Is America.”

2. About Bob

More than one year past his last on-air appearance for NBC, for whom he toiled nearly 40 years, Bob Costas revealed to ESPN Outside the Lines the details regarding his exodus from the Peacock. No surprise: it was centered around the 66 year-old broadcasting legend’s willingness to take on tough issues regarding the NFL.

A few items: NBC’s Sunday Night Football, which Costas hosted, was THE No. 1 most-watched prime-time TV program in the nation. Two, Costas has earned 28 Emmys and is, at least to us, the most respected sports broadcaster in the nation. We’ve known Bob well for more than 20 years and we can tell you: for someone who has been famous and rich for nearly two-thirds of his life, he is as down-to-earth as anyone in the business we know. Bob is passionate about sports but also about ideas and pop culture and history and politics. Basically, about everything that makes you want to get up in the morning.

Also, he’d never make it on a “First Take” type program because he actually listens and is more than gracious in conceding a point.

The big point here, though, is that the NFL is a leviathan and woe unto anyone who criticizes them (remember when ESPN backed out, at the last minute, of that concussion investigation?). We’ve told this story before, but it’s a true one: In the days after ESPN signed its most recent, most lucrative TV rights contract with the NFL, then ESPN chief John Skipper reached out to Roger Goodell for an itemization of the terms of the deal, which he did not yet have. Goodell’s two-word response: “Stop whining.”

Maybe Roger was just having a laugh. But that’s the arrogance of the NFL. And every fan validates it.

3. Morons

Mother, daughter, father. Which one of these three did not have sexual relations with the film’s villain? Clue: it’s a trick question.

We watched Abducted In Plain Sight this weekend and sorry, Fyre Festival, but we’ve got a new leader in the clubhouse for most easily duped rubes in a Netflix documentary. Meet the Broberg parents, who allowed neighbor Paul Berchtold, a.k.a. “B”, to kidnap their daughter Jan not once but twice in the early to mid-1970s.

B., on the right, psychologically terrorized this family for years.

That’s really only the beginning and we don’t want to reveal any more only to say that this B fella may be the greatest manipulator of decent but simple people in the service of his own sexual gratification since, well, Joseph Smith. We’re actually questioning why the parents, Jan, and her two sisters would even sit for this documentary. I mean, sure, $$$, but was it worth it?

4. Tough Sledding*

*The judges will also accept, “The Bigger Chill”

While it is not a horror film, Arctic may give you chills (check out the trailer). Starring Mads Mikkelsen as a pilot who is stranded somewhere north of the Arctic Circle. Think Cast Away or The Martian: colder than the first if not the second film. Shot entirely on location in Iceland.

We wondered, Is it better to release such a film in the dead of winter, as they have done, or in the summer months? We think they made the right move.

5. Jack Be Accurate

Wabash sophomore Jack Davidson, a sturdy 6’1″, 170-pounder from Fishers, Ind., went 9-for-9 from the free throw line Saturday night versus Kenyon. Davidson, whose routine is two dribbles and a swish, has now converted 89 consecutive free throws dating back to December. That’s good for the Division III record and places him just five shy of tying the overall NCAA record by Paul Kluxton of Division II Northern Kentucky, set in 2001.

More than a one-trick pony, Davidson averages 25.2 ppg and is shooting .432 from beyond the arc for the Little Giants, who are 19-4.

Burns

Note: Davidson still has a ways to go to tie the overall NCAA consecutive free throws record regardless of gender. In 2017 Monica Burns of Division II Wheeling Jesuit stroked 118 in a row.

Our favorite thing about this record is that it’s really within any player’s reach. It’s all about consistency and reputation. Like a good tee shot.

Music 101 

You Wouldn’t Like Me

About a quarter century too late to appear on MTV’s “120 Minutes,” here come The Beths straight outta Brooklyn Auckland, New Zealand. Easily the greatest Kiwi band since Flight of the Conchords. The foursome, faves of Rolling Stone editors, is currently opening for Death Cab For Cutie (perfect “If You Like This Band…” complement) in Europe, but will hit the States in late March.

Remote Patrol

Dr. Zhivago

Netflix

No, no, no, not Dr. Trivago. It’s not a film about a travel website that aggregates the best deals on hotels. Who told you that? So, we’re deep into the heart of winter, so this Russian epic starring Omar Sharif and Julie Christie fits perfectly into your bleak hibernal mood. Nominated for 10 Oscars, it won five and might’ve won more had it not been up against The Sound Of Music in 1965.

Two Easter Eggs to notice for you David Lean fans (the director, who’d previously done The Bridge On The River Kwai and Lawrence Of Arabia): Sir Alec Guinness is commanding a giant structure that traverses a river and two, the scene in which Omar Sharif gallops off swiftly on horse across an endless expanse of barren terrain.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right


If there’s such a thing as a Secular Saint, then Bill Murray is that person.

Starting Five

When Pecker Picked A Pecker Pic 

The skinny: David Pecker, the head of AMI, which publishes The National Enquirer, came at Amazon founder Jeff Bezos with threats to publish his personal texts to his mistress, Lauren Sanchez, one of which included a phallic photo.


Bezos, instead of crying, “FAKE NUDES,” instead decided to expose the blackmail attempt (and he has emails to back him up).

If you were writing this as a novel, you’d give the villain a name like David Pecker, no? Although I guess one would argue that that’s also a good sobriquet for the dick pic dude.

Of course, that’s just scratching the surface. How did Pecker obtain these text messages (Bezos’ chief investigator, Gavin de Becker, is looking into whether a government agency was enjoined to assist)? Why did Pecker want Bezos’ newspaper, The Washington Post, to stop investigating the death of Jamal Khashoggi? This is like an entire season arc of Homeland or House Of Cards or maybe better yet, Veep or Silicon Valley.


It’s just getting started. Know that the president and Mr. Pecker have worked together in the past on a number of occasions.

2. “No Thank You, Mr. Pecker”

The title of Bezos’ expose was our headline above, which at first glance sounded to us like a  show-stopping number from a pornographic musical. Which got us to thinking: Has there ever been an explicitly pornographic musical (South Pacific?)? And that got us to thinking about titles for such a musical or some of its numbers. Here’s an incomplete list, with a little help from tweep @KurtRoedel:

“Dildo-Re-Mi”

“We’re In The Moneyshot”

“I’m Gonna Wash That ____ Right Outta My Hair”

“A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Scrotum”

“The Lion Schwing”

“The Book Of MoreMan”

There were more but we also know who some of our readers are (Does Seth MacFarlane ever have this problem?)

3. Rondo, Refreshing


There was a time when the Lakers at Celtics, no matter what the month, was the biggest game of the NBA season. The two met up last night in Boston and L.A. cured its No AD post-trade deadline blues in the best manner possible: former Celtic guard Rajon Rondo hit the game winner as time expired for a 129-128 Laker victory.

You may recall that LA lost by 42, the worst defeat of LeBron James’ career, at Indy two nights earlier. They trailed by as many as 18 in the second half last night.

By the way, does anyone else remember that before “Rondo” was an All-Star caliber point guard and Connect Four prodigy that it was a citrus soda?


Also by the way, Russell Westbrook, who has won two of the past three All-Star Game MVP awards, was the 16th overall player (18th, if you count the two captains) selected in last night’s All-Star Game draft. Guess some folks don’t like playing with Russ.

 

4. Are PayDay Loans The Next Subprime Mortgage Crisis?

This week the Trump administration is moving on deregulating the payday loan industray (legal loan-sharking) and you gotta wonder why. One clue: Corey Lewandowski is a paid lobbyist for said industry.

What are payday loans? They allow you to take out a loan, sometimes at an interest rate of as great as 400%, against your next paycheck. So basically if you want money fast you’re willing to pay for its immediacy by agreeing to an exorbitant premium on said loan and using your paycheck as collateral. Thus the death spiral begins, as you’re basically taxing your own paycheck.


(The MH Video Team recommends)

It’s a loser’s game, and there are a few questions: 1) Should the government be involved with protecting financially unsophisticated adults against themselves? 2) What is the state of the common wage in this country that allows more than 14,000 pay day loan centers (basically as ubiquitous as Starbucks) to operate? 3) What is the state of the middle- and lower-class consumer appetite that they cannot wisely manage their own money and instead spend themselves into chronic and inescapable debt? 4) Why would the government take the side of loan sharks over the common worker (oh, I think we know the answer to that one)?

The subprime mortgage crisis happened because the government regulatory committees didn’t do their due diligence in overseeing crap mortgage securities. The securities were crap because the mortgages were crap: people earning $40K per year were buying $500,000 home and being asked to put almost nothing down and then not needing to pay any interest for the first three years. When the mortgage finally started to kick their ass, it was assumed, they’d sell the home because homes are always an appreciable asset.

Until they weren’t. That’s called a bubble. The mortgage brokers knew they were selling customers a product they couldn’t afford but their job wasn’t to get the entire cost of the house, but only to sell the mortgage. The rest was the bank’s problem. And as long as Mortgage Lender A was going to do this dirty business, Mortgage Lender B felt obliged to remain competitive. But they all knew the house of cards was eventually going to crash. They just didn’t care; that was someone else’s mess.

If you or someone you know or love is working at a pay day loan center, you (or they) are complicit. Sorry. Much like the mortgage lender folks, you have to know that abetting the eventual bankruptcy of tens of thousands of Americans who, yes, are too stupid or too desperate to manage their money, is going to crash the system. Are you your brother’s keeper? No, you don’t have to be. But you don’t have to be the serpent in the garden, either. That’s a choice you make.

Either way, payday loans are an evil biz that exploit the working poor and desperate. But don’t worry, very poor or very rich people: when the system crashes, and it will, the financial burden will be placed on the middle class. It always is.

5. Super Bowl MVP


Let’s end the week on a note of altruism and looking out for those of us who are less fortunate. Weird: Before Sunday’s Super Bowl I actually wondered, What if the NFL were to give away like an entire section (or more) of Super Bowl tickets to the homeless, or to disadvantaged children, etc? I mean, what a tremendous look that would be for them and they certainly could afford it?

And I don’t mean nosebleed seats. I’m talking prime seats where the TV cameras could spot these fans. Why wouldn’t you want to do that? And of course the answer is that these billionaire owners didn’t become billionaires by not being greedy.

Music 101

Looking At The Sun

 

In the autumn of 1993, I covered the SEC for Sports Illustrated out of a Birmingham base. And I drove everywhere. Never flew…to Baton Rouge …Lexington …Fayetteville …Columbia…even Gainesville. That was the best way to find hidden Dixie delights, particularly backwoods eateries. Of course, such an odyssey demanded good car tunes, and the first six tracks of Matthew Sweet’s Girlfriend album were constantly being played as I rolled through Meridian, Sylacauga and various Decaturs. Good times.

Remote Patrol

Abducted In Plain Sight

Netflix

Bravo, Netflix. You’ve figured out (thanks to Making A Murderer?) that America is obsessed with true crime, the creepier the better. Serial killers rock our world (Ted Bundy Tapes), as do bizarre and unsolved murders (Evil Genius) and then of course, there’s the sexual terrorization of women. That’s your trifecta.

This is the true story of Jan Broberg Felt, who while growing up in Pocatello, Idaho, was twice kidnapped as a young teen—by her neighbor. Broberg Felt has since grown up to be a working actress in Hollywood.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right


“He was ”Mason Jarred'” (dons sunglasses….”YEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!”)

Starting Five

Herring, Northam, Fairfax. All three have appeared in black face at one point.

Virginia Wahoos

What the hell, Virginia?

Your governor, Ralph Northam, apologizes for dressing up in black face as Michael Jackson (too many jokes) and winning a dance contest after he’s pretty sure that he wasn’t in blackface or a KKK hood in his medical school yearbook?

A couple days later your Lieutenant Governor, Justin Fairfax, is accused of sexual assault stemming from a 2004 incident involving a woman who is now a Stanford fellow in politics. Fairfax never donned blackface, as he was born with one.

And then your Attorney General, Mark Herring, not wanting to be left out, preemptively announces that he once donned blackface, in 1980 as an undergrad at UVA, to dress up as rapper Kurtis Blow.

Blackface. Redskins. This state has some appropriation problems (the Washington team trains in suburban Virginia).

“I feel like I’m living in an episode of a Nathaniel Hawthorne novel where people are rushing to judgment, and it feels like if I don’t proclaim judgment right away, it somehow reflects on me,” State Senator J. Chapman Petersen, a Northern Virginia Democrat, told The New York Times. “I think we need to slow down.”

Oddly, we agree with him. Pitchfork Twitter wants everyone who’s ever offended anyone to be fired. Is Pitchfork Twitter even holding down a job?

2. Balaclava Face

This should’ve come from the J. Peterman collection and been a subplot on Seinfeld. Jerry and Larry are probably kicking themselves that they never thought of it. Urban sombrero was easy, but blackface balaclava?

Luxury Italian designer Gucci were selling these for $890 but apparently too many Virginia legislators were ordering them or too many people complained, and now they’ve been taken off the market and off-line. Which means that if you did purchase one before everyone got all butt hurt about facial protection, it’s likely worth five times that on e-Bay right now.

3. B-B-B-B-B-Billionaire

But where do they play beer pong?

We’ve hesitated to enter the fray on Howard Schultz and the 70% marginal tax rate, etc., as we have friends who do exceedingly well for themselves and sometimes when we air our views it creates tension (and then they’ll no longer pay for lunch, and who wants that?).

First of all, Schultz was never going to win this election but the moment he told Andrew Ross Sorkin that he should not be called a billionaire but rather “people of means,” he completely lost me. You’re a billionaire, Howard. Own it. You own most everything else.

For a quick moment: Howard was saying this to the man who created a TV show titled Billions, but you know…


Almost all of us will never earn $10 million in one year (and devoting 90 minutes per day to a pro bono blog isn’t getting us any closer) and fewer still will ever be worth a billion dollars. For this writer, it’s not about jealousy. And it’s not even about taxing the rich excessively (not necessarily in favor of that).

So what’s it about? It’s about thinking, and it’ll always be hypothetical, that if we ever accumulated that much money we’d almost feel shameful about it. We’d want to be like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett (or Gavin Belson) and use our vast resources to help people. And many wealthy people do.

But it’s also about wondering just how much money one person should have while thousands of others go hungry or homeless. Well, they’ve earned it, some of my friends will say. And to a certain point, they have. But past a certain point laws and regulations are put in place by fellow “people of means” that skew the game in favor of the wealthy. And those people want nothing at all to do with the other 99%.

There’s a reason the Hamptons are zoned so that workers literally have to bus themelves in to do things like lawn care and pool cleaning. Or that Blade runs ads on CNBC so that hedge-funders and Wall Street types may fly directly from Manhattan to Easthampton and Bridgehampton between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Saves time, sure. But it’s also a way to never have to deal with the riffraff. They’d rather not know. And they’ve earned enough so that they don’t need to.

People like me ask, “How much is enough?” while people like them look down on us, in that patronizing Get Out “Oh, no, no, no” way because there is no such thing as enough. Enough? That’s funny to them. But you look around and you see films such as There Will Be Blood or Gary Cooper’s Bright Leaf (same idea 50 or so years earlier but with tobacco) or documentaries such as The Queen of Versailles and you realize that even with all that access, so many billionaires are just as miserable as anyone else. Jeff Bezos is getting a divorce.

Of course, most of us say, I’d like to have that money and see if I’d be miserable. The answer is that if you’re miserable at middle class you’d be miserable rich. And if you’re happy rich you’d probably be happy middle class. The things that actually make us happy are having a purpose, having people to love (and who love us), having a loyal pet, developing talents that provide self-esteem and, lastly, a private jet (!).

And at the end of the day the dispossessed, many of whom work just as long hours at less prestigious gigs, have few options outside of violence. That’s not legal, you say. Fine. But a lot of things that the wealthy get away with are only “legal” because the game is rigged in their favor. We got a chuckle the other night when President Trump promised that “America will never be socialist.”

Really? Then what was the great bailout of 2008?

4. Fake News Vs. King Of The Jews

Really needs illustrations…

So we were sitting in church last weekend and we had this crazy thought: How many Evangelicals out there lionize Donald Trump and repeat one of his favorite mantras “Fake News” in one breath and then pick up or quote from the Bible in the next? And the reason we ask that is, Don’t they realize that the Bible is JOURNALISM?

Have they ever sat and realized, ‘Wow, if someone had not written down these events on papyrus as they were occurring, we’d never know about it.’ Man, imagine that. What would these people do on Sunday mornings, and how would they be able to commit their hypocrisies without a historical record to stand behind?

We’re not going quite this far, buuuuut…

Anyway, it was just a thought. The next time an evangelical, or any Christian, hits you with “Fake News,” remind them that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were really the original journalists. And man did they have a whopper of a story to tell (they must have colluded with one another the way the “failing” New York Times and Washington Post do). And yes, we saw that the NYT blew out its revenue numbers in digital this past year.

5. The Daze of the Dolphins

All aquariums are terrible ideas—sorry—but even more so placing one in the middle of the Sonoran desert. This week a fourth dolphin died at Scottsdale’s Dolphinaris, a tourist facility that has only been open two years.

Fish gotta swim. So do certain mammals. Keeping dolphins and whale in aquariums, I don’t care how large, is like asking someone to live their lives in a walk-in closet. It’s cruel and inhumane and I’ll put their welfare over little Billy’s desire to pet one. But that’s me. I’m weird that way.

Dolphinaris is closing temporarily. It needs to close permanently.

Music 101

No More I Love You’s

Man. How many female vocalists heard Annie Lennox crush these vocals and were too despondent to even get out of bed? In the early and mid-Eighties Lennox was only known as the platinum-blonde half of Eurythmics and her vocal range isn’t something folks discussed as if she were, say, the distaff Freddie Mercury. That all changed when she seemingly underwent a metamorphosis (she’s not even blonde anymore!) and released this international hit in 1995.

The song was actually written and released nine years earlier by a British New Wave duo (sound familiar, Annie?) called The Lover Speaks but failed to crack the Top 50 in the US or UK. Lennox’s version went to No. 2 in the UK and No. 23 heere.

Remote Patrol

All About Eve

8 p.m. TCM

“Fasten your seatbelts—it’s going to be a bumpy night.” In Margo Channing, Bette Davis fashioned the most gloriously bitchy, witty and endearing diva Hollywood had yet seen. Also, keep a close eye on the ditzy blonde who shows up at the party that is the hub of the film: that’s a young and already comically gifted Marilyn Monroe (this film ranks 28th on AFI’s Top 100 list).

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right

Starting Five

An instant classic. One of the great photos of this presidential era.

Nancy Claps Back

Photographer Doug Mills captured the moment at the State Of The Union when President Trump’s words, which some to the left of the aisle might perceive as indicative of the double standard the GOP is foisting upon us now that we don’t have a Kenyan commander-in-chief, earned a clap back from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

What Trump actually said: “We must reject the politics of revenge, resistance and retribution and embrace the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise and the common good.” 


At that moment, as those in the chamber applauded, Pelosi clapped vigorously and at the POTUS and some (including us) interpreted it as, “Yeah, finally.”

2. Et Tu, SOTU

“I’m not gonna tell him, you tell him”

Other notes, observations and memorable moments from SOTU 2019 (an incomplete wrap-up), or as we’ve dubbed it “Unity…Or Else!”:

–Trump’s red tie was seriously leaning to the left at the beginning of his speech, lending itself to an easy “Even his tie is crooked” joke.

–A friend of mine was not the only one who saw all the female congresswomen dressed in various shades of white and wondered if this was a new season of The Handmaid’s Tale. I just thought of a Wimbledon class photo or perhaps the flight attendant lounge at Emirates Airlines.

From the White House to the White Blouse

–Outside of his border wall argument, which if factually challenged was at least vigorous and focused, the president kept to the safest of topics. We learned that he’s against childhood cancer and in favor of remembering World War II heroes and survivors. Hell, Maroon 5’s set list was edgier than that.


–As to the aforementioned “factually challenged,” the sheriff of El Paso his own self fired up the Twitter machine to refute Trump’s claim that a wall had made his city safer. It was very safe long before that, the lawman argued.

–The President insinuated that there cannot be peace if Robert Mueller does not quit investigating him, going full Jackie Chiles with this quote:


–In case you were wondering, the president never mentioned or even alluded to 1) the 35-day shutdown or 2) climate change.

Kamala Harris with the best “No, no” we’ve seen since the housekeeper in Get Out:


–Trump actually said that had he not been elected, the USA would be in a war with North Korea right now. WUUUUUT!?!

–We kinda did a side eye when the man who inherited millions from his dad and has since  declared bankruptcy half a dozen times talked about America “not squandering its inheritance.”

–Trump mentioned “ridiculous partisan investigations,” but James Comey and Robert Mueller are Republicans. So who was he talking about?

3. The Crocodile Punter

No, this is not an MS-13 member, at least not as far as we know. This is Louis Hedley, a 6’4″ punter from Australia by way of the City College of San Francisco (yes, also O.J.’s alma mater). None of the real publications have identified where from Down Under he’s actually from, other than to say that he’s in his mid-twenties and worked as a scaffolder in the Aussie desert (that’s west) for eight years. You just have to wonder if Manny Diaz will let him out of two-a-days next summer to attend Sturgis, no?

4. Sweet Pea Loses By 42!

We’re just posting this for our (and Susie B.’s) enjoyment. The Indiana Pacers, minus their best player (Victor Oladipo) destroyed the Los Angeles Lakers, who had their best player (besides Kyle Kuzma), by 42 points. The final was 136-94, the worst loss of LeBron James’ career.


(This photo says it all, no?)

Is it fair to say that all that Anthony Davis trade talk has not done wonders for locker room cohesiveness. After the defeat Lakers brass announced that they were walking (limping?) away from trade negotiations with the Pelicans, which makes us just a little sad because we were hoping to use the hed “LeBrow” one of these days.

5. Hawaii 1-0-0

Under the proposed law, Kilauea would still be permitted to smoke. It is, after all, older than 100.

Hawaii legislator Richard Creagan has introduced a bill that would make it illegal to smoke cigarettes before the age of 100. Quietly (or not so quietly), we think this is brilliant. It won’t surprise you to learn that Creagan is a Democrat, but you should also know that he is an E.R. physician who calls cigarettes “the deadliest artifact in human history.”

Let’s go to the audience survey. The number one answer is “GUN!”

Anyway, our sense of less government is better (we think Thomas Jefferson put it more poetically) compels us not to agree with Creagan’s bill, but at least it’s inspired. Besides, it leads us to another point we’d like to discuss: what if, at a certain age that we could all agree upon (say, 85 or 90 years old), the government could top off your Medicare at $1,000 a year? How much money would that save?

Your grandpa’s reaction as you show him this item.

Now, this would be our proposal and as soon as we proposed it, Fox News, understanding its base, would report that I had declared a “War On Grandpa.” So what? I’m not in favor of anyone dying, but how many people in the the primes of their lives might have better access to health care if we weren’t spending so much on extending the lives of people who are often a quarter-century past their most recent day of employment. We’re all for golden years, but platinum years?

What say you?

Music 101

Break On Through

Between the ages of 22 and 27 lots of young men work on getting a PhD. Jim Morrison worked on going from being nobody to one of the world’s most famous frontmen as leader of The Doors to having it all flame out with his death by heart failure (official cause unknown as he died in Paris, where an autopsy is not required by law) at the age of 27 in 1971. In between the band released eight albums that sold 4 million copies and a slew of singles that sold 8 million units and remain FM radio staples to this day.

You may already know this, but in case you don’t: While Morrison was one of the signature counterculture rebels, his father was a highly decorated Navy admiral who served with distinction in Vietnam.

Remote Patrol

The Longest Day

8 p.m. TCM

Mitchum, with stogie…

When it comes to telling the story of D-Day, there’s Ken Burns’ WW2 documentary, Band Of Brothers, Saving Private Ryan and this, from 1962, which came first. Not only do you have arguably the greatest alpha-male cast in the history of film (John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, Richard Burton, Sean Connery, Rod Steiger, Henry Fonda, Peter Lawford and Robert Wagner, among others), but you also see the day from the German perspective, with actual German actors playing those roles.

Some of those actors worked for almost nothing simply because they wanted a cameo in what they knew was going to be an epic picture. It is.

 

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right

Starting Five

THIS IS THE WORST ITEM OF ALL TIME, UNLESS IT’S THE GREATEST ITEM OF ALL TIME

“I’M WRITING THIS ITEM, AND IT’S ABOUT ME AND IT’S ABOUT SOMETHING THAT I EXPERIENCED, SO OBVIOUSLY IT HAS TO BE THE WORST ITEM YOU’VE EVER READ. UNLESS IT’S THE GREATEST ITEM YOU’VE EVER READ. BUT IT MUST BE ONE OR THE OTHER. BECAUSE I’M IMPORTANT! AND WHAT HAPPENS IN MY EXPERIENCE IS REALLY, REALLY IMPORTANT, AND SO IT’S GOT TO BE NOT JUST GREAT BUT THE GREATEST UNLESS IT’S SO HORRIBLY TERRIBLE THAT IT’S THE WORST.

OF. ALL. TIME!”

Okay, now that really WAS the worst maritime disaster.

Yesterday we woke up to Ian O’Connor on ESPN claiming the New England Patriots (six Super Bowl wins in the past 18 seasons) are the greatest sports dynasty of all time, which must be huge news to the New York Yankees (20 World Series titles in a 27-year stretch from 1936-1962) and John Wooden’s UCLA Bruins (10 NCAA championships, oh, and an 88-game win streak, in 11 seasons).

Then we headed to CNN.com, where our friend Jeff Pearlman tried to persuade us that this was the worst Super Bowl of all time (hardly), but it was really an excuse for Jeff to talk about his personal experience with the game growing up (much of Jeff’s writing is personal and, like, ketchup, it’s all about how much you dap onto the burgers that distinguishes between tasty and putrid…or you could just Eat Like Andy).

Of course, this wasn’t one of the great Super Bowls of all time, but it was very, very far from the worst. There was only one turnover, the outcome was in the balance until the final few minutes and (arguably) the greatest coach-QB combo the NFL has ever seen was winning its sixth Super Bowl together. No, this was a long way from Niners-Broncos or Niners-Chargers or Cowboys-Dolphins, to name a few.

But historical perspective doesn’t matter when you want to claim that something is THE GREATEST OF ALL TIME…unless it’s THE WORST OF ALL TIME. Mostly, it’s about you. And wanting your experience to be the most specialist experience anyone’s ever had. Isn’t this the same thing writers mock Donald Trump for almost daily?

Seriously, what was so great about it?

To be fair, Recency Bias (a $3 term for this modern phenomenon in which people rush to the superlative) isn’t a recent discovery. A century ago people were hailing the end of The Great War, or as it was also dubbed, “The War To End All Wars.” Then, just 20 or so years later an even more catastrophic and deadly war commenced and The Great War was renamed World War I. Kinda like how folks of our generation refer to it as Star Wars while people under 30 call it A New Hope (auuugghhhh!!!!).

There’s nothing wrong with something or someone who is contemporary being The GOAT (or The WOAT). Stephen Curry is The GOAT of three-point shooters and it isn’t even close. Michael Phelps is The GOAT of swimming. But if you’re going to write one of these columns every time something strikes you as sublimely good or heinously bad, you’re just forfeiting your credibility. You become The Boy Who Cried GOAT (or WOAT).

2. Maroon Still Outscored The Rams

The annual Super Bowl halftime show is America, or maybe just Twitter, at its Veruca Saltiest. Nothing is good enough for us. We can’t sing. We can’t play a musical instrument. We definitely should not be walking around topless in public. And on Sunday, as we do most every year, we spent 15 minutes ripping Maroon 5 a new one for…what? For performing Maroon 5 songs?

I’m not a huge fan—I actually like “Payphone” best of their songs, but knew they wouldn’t play it just to spare us all from a mountain of Twitter takes about no one needing to use a payphone any more—but it’s not as if Adam Levine and the band were awful (it was a big day for the tribe in Atlanta: Adam Levine AND Julian Edelman).

So what’s wrong? First, the NFL picks bands that middle-age white guys would pick: Maroon 5 and Coldplay in the last three years? Come on. Second, they’ve made the pomp and circumstance trite. Fire? Check. Young people with their hands in the air like they just don’t care around the stage? Check. Black performer brought in midway through the set as an act of appeasement? Check.

Third, nothing is ever enough for the SB home-gamers. Lady Ga Ga drops from the roof of a stadium? Okay, that’s cool. What you got next? Most of you are too young to remember this, but there was an episode of the show Happy Days (1970s sitcom, wildly popular at the time) where the host of a reality show within the show called “You Wanted To See It” asks Potsie what he’d like to see live on TV. And Potsie says, “A human sacrifice.”

It’s the greatest joke in that show’s history (no, wait…OF ALL TIME!) and we never forgot it because even then, in a show from the Seventies about the Fifties, they realized that America’s appetite for excess is insatiable. And so, yeah, until a Super Bowl halftime act takes the stage and actually kills one of its members during the performance, Twitter will remain Veruca Salt about it. We’re the worst.

The most disappointing aspect of the halftime show? Maroon 5 is the first Super Bowl halftime act to share a name with an NFL franchise (the now defunct Pottsville Maroons) and yet no one from CBS noted that.

3. Andy Cohen & Fatherhood

Our reaction to the LGBT 50 year-old TV host becoming a first-time dad? Bravo! (Saw a headline reading “Andy Cohen To Reveal Sex Of His First Child” and our first thought was, “Gay?” Oh, lighten up.)

4. Vonn, Damn

Downhill ace Lindsey Vonn, the most decorated alpine skier in history, men’s or women’s (Does this make her GOAT-worthy?), crashes in the Super-G at the final event of her career, the World Championships in Are, Sweden. Vonn, 34, had announced that she would retire after this weekend.

The oft-injured Minnesota native hit a gate with one of her skis during the Super-G and tumbled. Fellow American Mikaela Shiffrin won. Vonn was in pain but was able to walk away from the accident with help. Sunday’s downhill is slated to be her final race, but it is too early to know if she’ll be fit to do it.

5. No Creepy For Old Men

Here’s looking at you, kid. Indeed.

A steady winter’s diet of TCM has worked us to a curious Hollywood phenomenon of its Golden Age: the insouciant casting of leading men at least 20 or so years older than their ingenue leading ladies. Was this a thing all across society at the time (our parents were born just five months apart, or at least that’s what they told us) or was it just a paragon of the heterosexual relationship, an aspirational ideal for audience members?

This was the era in which Hollywood, winking, gave us a musical number titled “Thank Heaven For Little Girls.”

Here’s just a few examples, and these aren’t throwaway films. Most of what follows are considered classics:

To Have And Have Not (1944): Starring Humphrey Bogart, 44, opposite Lauren Bacall, 20. Bogey was no dope. The two began a romance during filming and were married one year later. Three years after that they made Key Largo (1948).

Singing In The Rain (1952): In which Gene Kelly, 39, woos Debbie Reynolds, 19. To be fair, Kelly at 39 is in better shape and more handsome than 100% of the available actors in Hollywood or not in Hollywood.

The Band Wagon (1953): Fred Astaire is 53; Cyd Charisse is 31.

Rear Window (1954): Starring Jimmy Stewart, 46, and Grace Kelly, 25. Maybe Kelly fled Hollywood because they kept putting her in films where she was supposed to fall in love with daddy figures: To Catch A Thief (1955) where she’s 26 playing opposite Cary Grant, 51; High Society (1956) where she’s 27 and falling back in love with Bing Crosby, 54; and High Noon (1951), where as a 23 year-old she’s betrothed to Gary Cooper, 51.

My Fair Lady (1964): Audrey Hepburn is 34, Rex Harrison is 56.

Ewwwww!

You could delve deeper if you like: Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak in Vertigo (he’s 50; she’s 25) or Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint in North By Northwest (he’s 55; she’s 35). Both, like Rear Window, are Hitchcock films (he had issues). Again to be fair, Cary Grant was better-looking in his fifties than in his thirties (we’d like to think we can relate!).

Gloria Swanson was 18 years older than William Holden, so of course he was only with her for the money.

One last thing: If you go to the AFI Top 100 list, there are only two films in the Top 30 that we know of where an older woman chases after or seduces a younger man: Sunset Boulevard and The Graduate. In one of those films the women as portrayed as deranged and in the other she’s… well, not a very good mom (also, in real life Ann Bancroft was only 6 years older than the young man she seduced, Dustin Hoffman). Older women don’t get to dance and sing a happy closing number with their far younger man. Maybe someone needs to write that movie (and don’t say Harold and Maude).

Music 101

Devil Inside

We don’t know, but we have strong reason to believe, based on common sense, that someone in Hollywood crunched the numbers on Bohemian Rhapsody— a world-wide gross of $833 million thus far versus a production budget of $52 million— and has already green-lighted a Michael Hutchence/INXS biopic.

Makes perfect sense, right? Both Freddie Mercury and Hutchence were extraordinarily charismatic front men of savagely creative rock bands who died tragically young (go back and look at INXS videos “Don’t Change” and “This Time” when the feral Hutchence was still in his early 20s; he had IT and he knew he had it). You even have the triumphant Wembley show side-by-side, just six years later.

Hutchence killed himself in 1997; three years later Yates died of a heroin overdose

Curious twist: In the last two years of his life, before committing suicide, Hutchence was in a serious relationship and had a daughter with Paula Yates. She had left her husband to be with Hutchence, that husband being Bob Geldof, who had organized Live Aid, where Queen made their legendary appearance that is the climax of Bohemian Rhapsody.

So what’s our title? Do we use the song above? “Suicide Blonde” hits a little too close to home. “Not Enough Time?” “Bitter Tears?”

Remote Patrol

State Of The Union Address

9 p.m. ALLS THE CHANNELS

If you haven’t heard, Melania Trump invited a boy named Joshua Trump to the SOTU who “has been bullied in school due to his last name.” No farce can keep up with the reality of this presidency. You gotta think Stephen Miller will drop a New England Patriots-inspired “I’m still here” reference into the speech.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right

Starting Five

The GOAwayTom

You know: six Super Bowl in nine appearances this millennium for Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, Robert Kraft and the New England Patriots. The city of Boston’s four pro teams have amassed an even dozen championships since years began with a “2” in front of them.

Some random thoughts on Pats 13, Rams 3:

–You really can’t hate Tom Brady when you see this:

–At a Super Bowl where Colin Kaepernick’s name was never mentioned nor any image of him shown, the NFL doubled down on audacity by posting a brief video tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr., and then inviting his daughter out for the pre-game coin toss. The balls on these guys…


–Forget about Todd Gurley’s being criminally underused (he was likely hurt with what Joe Torre would call a “balky knee”). Do the Rams even have a tight end? Tyler Higbee was never targeted and hence never caught a pass.

–Goff completed 50% of his throws, Brady 60%.

–The game featured just one snap, total, from the red zone. One. That’s a Super Bowl record for fewest by a margin of four.

–Both team’s punters were at Oregon State around the same time a decade ago.

–Rob Gostkowski, New England’s all-time leading scorer, became the first kicker to miss a field goal attempt inside Mercedes Benz Stadium this season.

–Befitting a 13-3 snoozer, the game had no trick plays. Zero (our bingo card sits fecklessly by).

–The champions’ feast after this game should be beet loaf.

–At the half:


–Janet Jackson’s watching Maroon 5’s halftime show and saying, “Oh, so now it’s okay to expose a nipple (or two).”


–Kind of hard to believe Jason McCourty broke up that fourth-quarter TD pass attempt considering where he was midway through the play. And yes, Jared Goff found the receiver late and then wobbled a duck his way.

–If that was the last catch of Rob Gronkowski’s magnificent and bodacious career, it would be fitting.

–Bud Light’s “War On Corn Syrup” and Bud’s “Wind-powered” beer. What’s next? “Our beer is more likely to be discounted as a happy hour special than anyone else’s?” Who at Bud Light thought launching an unprovoked strike against America’s No. 1 cash crop was a good idea?

–Did anyone else see that overhead tracking shot of Tracy Wolfson getting lost in the postgame scrum and think, I haven’t seen anyone get lost like that in a mob in Georgia since Season 2 of The Walking Dead?

–The trophy will say “Julian Edelman,” but the real Super Bowl LIII MVP was Kansas City Chief defensive end Dee Ford. On a play in which the Chiefs should’ve clinched a Super Bowl trip with an interception of Tom Brady very late, Ford lined up in the neutral zone on a play that was going away from him.

–Don’t anyone tell Mike Pence about this:


–This pic is difficult to top:

–If the Rams get rid of Jared Goff, they should trade him to Jacksonville so that hostile fans can refer to him as “Jag Goff.”

–Sean McVay becomes the youngest coach ever to lead his team to the Super Bowl and fail to score a touchdown and get into the red zone. Credit the 33 year-old for owning it, telling reporters that he was completely outcoached by Belichick.

–Rams OL Brad Whitworth was sanguine post-game: “At the end of the day, we’re all gonna die.” It’s nice to see that, 40 years later, someone is still channeling Bill Murray‘s pregame hype speech from Meatballs: “It just doesn’t matter! It just doesn’t matter!”

2. Northam Exposure

Your medical school had a yearbook?!? Virginia governor Ralph Northam became this past weekend’s Covington Catholic (or maybe Josh Hader?) when a photo of two men posing on his yearbook page showed one in a Klan hood and the other in blackface. Probably the worst part for Northam, 55, is that he cannot remember which one he was (so he took a page from Trump 101 and denied being either).

At Saturday’s “Mea Culpa But I’m Not Admitting Guilt” press conference, Northam did offer that he once put on blackface to be Michael Jackson in a dance contest (unprompted, he revealed that he won…good for you!). Later folks plumbed his VMI undergrad yearbook and learned that friends called him “Coonman.”

Of course, he was just a kid, a mere 24 or 25 years old, when that photo was taken.

3. Virk Outta Work

On Friday ESPN fired anchor Adnan Virk, escorting him off the Bristol campus. The charge? Excessive leaks to the media. When Virk did less than what his bosses felt he should do in terms of cooperation, he was canned. We were agnostic about Virk, although we’d slot him in that “up-and-coming ESPN anchor who’s trying just a bit too hard to show us how clever he is” (you wanna do that, bub, write your own free blog!) bin. Now the Pakistani-born Canadian, 40, is done. It’ll be interesting to see what a future employer thinks in terms of hiring him given that he’s now known as a leaker. Any openings on the White House staff?

4. Nuke The Knicks

Jive Turkey

In case you haven’t been paying attention: The New York Knicks are 2-26 since December 1, which is also the last time they won at Madison Square Garden. One of those two wins was in OT at Charlotte, the other indescribably versus the Lakers (minus LeBron) at Staples.

It’s only getting worse: yesterday they lost at MSG to the Grizzlies, who entered with a nine-game road losing streak. Also, the Knickiest Knick, Enes Kanter, thought he’d actually been called off the bench to play but the assistant coach was actually calling for new Knick Dennis Smith, Jr. So he said, “Dennis” and Enes thought his name was being called, so he headed to the scorer’s table and then was called back.

The crowd groaned. You can’t even give him this?

5. Don’t Hold Back

There’s the nice Ellen on TV. She hosts a daily afternoon talk show. And then there was the unfiltered Ellen Page—you know her as the star of Juno—who appeared on Late Show last week and did not hold back in an impassioned rant against the intolerance of this White House.

Judge for yourself.

Music 101 

Grace

Artist Jeff Buckley, who drowned in the Mississippi River late one night after a recording session for his second album, is the Mark Fidrych of rock and roll. By that we mean that neither man is in his respective Hall of Fame (Rock, Baseball) for the dumb reason that their careers, though short and incandescently brilliant, were too brief. That’s dumb. Every young baseball fan should be aware of Fidrych’s magical rookie season with the Detroit Tigers in 1976 (19-9, league-best 2.34 ERA, but the numbers weren’t what made The Bird unique).

When Buckley’s debut album (also titled Grace) was released in 1994, it peaked at 149 and he must’ve thought, What do I have to do? More likely he thought, Pearls before swine. In the decades since, the album has come to be rightly appreciated as an all-time classic and Buckley as a rock legend. There’s a musical biopic waiting to be made here.

Remote Patrol

She Wore A Yellow Ribbon

The Duke. Hollywood has never made a movie star quite like him, though Liam Neeson comes close.

The two Johns—Ford and Wayne—team up again, in 1949, for the second installment of their Cavalry trilogy (Fort Apache, 1948; The Rio Grande, 1950). Shot on location in Monument Valley, it received the Oscar for Best Cinematography. It’s “31 Days Of Oscar” time at TCM and it’s only just getting started so I’m going to be this annoying and pedantic all month. What else is new?