We’ve passed 200,000 dead via Covid-10 since the start of March and Clay Travis is still mocking folks for being “coronabros.” Note: I returned to Twitter a week ago, decided to follow Clay to see what he was saying, and then unfollowed him six days later. Honestly, I think he watches A Face In The Crowd (a severely under-viewed but highly prescient 1957 film starring Andy Griffith as a megalomaniacal southern demagogue rabble-rouser) at least once a week, simply for pointers.
Anyway, let’s concede to this: Americans who remember AIDS do not take Covid-19 as seriously, in general. Now, there are some key differences. What makes Covid-19 more scary is that your lifestyle, or a blood transfusion, is not the entry way to contracting it. So, on average, any person can get Covid-19 whereas with AIDS the majority of us had nothing to fear.
On the other hand, AIDS was a death sentence in the 1980s. And actually, the healthier you were (if you were gay), chances are you had an even better shot of getting it. Healthier—> more physically fit —-> more sexually attractive —-> more sexually active —-> higher risk.
AIDS took the healthiest (gay) men, and some women, and struck them down in their primes. It also had symptoms that any observer could plainly see: lesions on the skin, severe weight loss.
Covid-19 is the opposite. It is mostly a herd thinner, proving fatal mostly to those who were not so healthy to begin with. I don’t doubt for a second that there are conservatives who don’t even mind the disease (considering its victims), they only mind it being an inconvenience to the economy. And sports.
If everyone who contracted Covid-19 had the same chance of perishing, or even a higher chance, then our leaders (and Clay Travis) might be taking it more seriously. But it doesn’t work that way. And so mostly they don’t care.
We’d seen Gilda a time or two before—you may know it from one scene in The Shawshank Redemption—but never as we had last Saturday night. TCM’s “Czar of Noir,” Eddie Muller, featured it on Noir Alley, the channel’s weekly tribute to film noir.
As part of the outro to the film, Muller explained that as a teen he’d first seen the 1946 film and, like most boys, fallen hard for Rita Hayworth (how could you not? There’s never been a sexier woman in any film, and she even gets the movie’s best line: “If I was a ranch, they’d call me ‘Bar Nothing’.”). But then, Muller explained, he saw the film again in his late twenties “and I got it.”
What Muller “got,” and as he shared this he conceded that he’d be losing “a swath of TCM viewers,” was that Johnny Farrell (Glenn Ford) and Ballin Mundson (George McReady) were also an item. Just as Gilda (Hayworth) had married Ballin for the money, Johnny was shackin’ up with him as a kept man.
Muller then went on to show many of the sexual innuendo moments in the film while pointing out that Mundson’s cane is the most shamefully obvious phallic symbol in film history. Our favorite moment: When Farrell proves his toughness to Mundson early by knocking out his henchman, Mundson’s cane, which he is holding gingerly in his hands, goes from having its tip on the ground to rising up 90 degrees. As Wayne and Garth might have said, “Schwwwwinnnng!”
So was the film’s villain really keeping both Gilda and Johnny, ex-lovers themselves, as his carnal pets? Muller has too much class to add this note, but I don’t: Dude’s name was Ballin! You figure it out.
Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, only the second female to serve in the highest court in the land, passes of complications due to pancreatic cancer. She was 87. I’m no expert on the Notorious RBG—most of what I know about her comes from Kate McKinnon’s impersonations on SNL— so you can read a glowing tribute on the 5’0″, 100-pound heavyweight here and here.
Of course, there is something ironic about a woman who fought her entire career to abolish double standards now, in death, creating a moment for Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell to impose the most ridiculous double standard in the history of Supreme Court nominations.
It was McConnell, four-plus years ago, who refused to even consider an S.C. nominee, Merrick Garland, to even have preliminary hearings before the Senate, even though the vacancy had opened more than 400 days before the presidential election (the Constitution does not specify a time limit). McConnell went further, changing the rules so that a Senate confirmation vote would no longer need 60 votes, but instead a simple majority.
Now RBG has passed and President Trump and McConnell are going to attempt to ram a Senate confirmation through in less than 50 days. Not unlike the impeachment process—and the Brett Kavanagh confirmation—from earlier in this administration, I don’t have much faith that we’ll find three to four Republican senators of integrity. Do you?
It’s not about left and right. It’s about double standards. Apply the same standard in every similar situation, as opposed to constantly moving the goalposts, as McConnell does. As the person who received more votes than Donald Trump did in 2016 said on TV the other night, “Mitch McConnell is only about one thing: Power. It’s the only thing that has ever meant anything to him.”
Mitch McConnell is only about power. And Donald Trump is only about himself. Together, they make a formidable partnership that may in fact lead to the downfall of the United States.
Iron Mike Gilligan
In the past week I’ve thought a lot about my outstanding junior high math teacher, “Iron” Mike Gilligan. Born on Sept. 11, 1920, Gilligan was an alumnus of the United States Military Academy and even when he taught me, in his late 50s, carried himself with precise military bearing.
Iron Mike had actually been part of the honor guard at FDR’s funeral, standing just a few feet away from Winston Churchill. He served THREE tours of duty in Vietnam, or nearly one for every one that Donald Trump avoided.
Here are three things I remember about Iron Mike: 1) He reminded us that it only takes one horrible action, or moment of disrepute, to wipe out a lifetime of good character (in short, you’re only as good as your worst act), 2) He brought a portable black-and-white TV to school on the day of the Yankees-Red Sox one-game playoff at Fenway Park in 1978 so that we could watch it and 3) He constantly reminded us that, no matter how bad things may seem in the world, that the planet is filled with more good people than bad people.
I still believe that the majority of people in the world are good, but I believe that Iron Mike should have added an Electoral College Postulate of Virtue to No. 3. That is, it really doesn’t matter if more good people than bad people exist if the bad people can hold sway over the good people. I imagine there are more good people than bad in China. Does it matter? Nope. Same in Russia. Does it matter? Nope.
And here in the U.S.A.? The president is dirty, his administration is dirty (except for those who have resigned and signed book deals), the Secretary of State is dirty and the Attorney General is dirty. So even if Joe Biden wins by, say, 25 electoral votes on November 3rd, do you think for a moment that Trump will concede? And then what happens?
America’s Most Toxic Affliction
By the time you read this, the U.S.A. will probably have surpassed 200,000 Covid-19 related deaths (in fewer than seven months). And yet, as I look around the landscape (here in the desert), I don’t believe that the coronavirus is the disease that should most worry Americans. There’s another pandemic, let’s call it a skin disease, that is far more devastating.
I call this illness “White Rash.”
What is “White Rash?” There are common symptoms. “White Rash” sufferers walk around in T-shirts that read “American By Birth” (as if they had anything to do with it) or “Only You Can Prevent Socialism” (while screaming that the government better not “take away my Medicare”). “White Rash” sufferers indulge in their ignorance, in their faux courage, in their obesity.
To suffer from “White Rash” is to believe that your skin color provides you herd immunity (or as their leader refers to it, “herd mentality”) from paying your dues, whether those dues be military service or taxes or simply “whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me,” which is a very Christian ideal. Most “White Rash” sufferers proclaim themselves to be Christian while failing to realize that Christianity extends beyond other white Americans.
“White Rash” sufferers like claiming “We’re No. 1!” while also bemoaning that they’d like to “Make America Great Again,” which is odd, because the only thing in America that’s really changed in the past 20 years (besides a greater disparity between the wealthy and those who are not) is that non-white and non-hetero groups have fought more vociferously for their inclusion. So what does “Make America Great Again” really mean? You’ll need to ask someone who’s “White Rash.”
If you feel yourself coming down with White Rash, do not be alarmed. The very act of self-awareness is proof that you do not suffer from White Rash. You may go on with your day.
We, Too, Love Maria Taylor. But We Also Agree With Jason Whitlock Here.
The Twitter cause celebre of the weekend—I opted not to weigh in—revolved around the fact that ESPN’s Maria Taylor who, let’s face it, is being spread way too thin by Disney, has an All-NBA ballot and failed to list Laker center Anthony Davis on her ballot (not first-, second- or third-team). It was simply an oversight, an unfortunate one, by someone who is incredibly overworked and—also, it should be noted—human.
Taylor copped to it immediately but then radio host Doug Gottlieb had to ask around why she even had a vote (Taylor played hoops and volleyball at Georgia and , unlike Gottlieb, was never expelled for theft). And as much as he might want to claim that it’s about her being a studio host as opposed to an analyst or scribe, it’s difficult not to see this as at least implying misogyny or racism. Why couldn’t Gottlieb have simply asked how come she excluded Davis and have left it at that?
Then Jason Whitlock, who now writes for Outclick The Coverage, weighed in. For me, I try to look not at what uniform someone ostensibly wears but rather to the points they are making. Here, I agree with Whitlock, even though I generally disagree with most of the ideas on Outclick. Whitlock’s point is that Taylor shouldn’t go the route of the victimized female sports journalist who has to validate her credentials (i.e., Michelle Beadle).
I disagree with Whitlock when he says that Gottlieb was holding Taylor to the same standard that he would have held any man. That he in fact was being the opposite of sexist. Why didn’t he just ask why she left off Davis?
One might ask how come Doug Gottlieb got the chance to have a scholarship at a second school after committing felony theft. No?
But I do agree with Whitlock’s larger point. Stop fighting culture wars on Twitter if you’re a damn ESPN talking head earning (or soon to be earning) a 7-figure salary. You made a mistake. Everyone does. Handle it with a sense of humor and, if you want to jab at your accuser in a funny and good-natured way, go do it. “You’re a card, Doug, and I give you credit.”
A Good Weekend To Be Roger Staubach
Legendary passer and MH boyhood idol Roger Staubach won a Heisman Trophy as Navy’s quarterback and later led the Dallas Cowboys to four Super Bowls, winning all of the ones that the Cowboys did not face the Pittsburgh Steelers.
If Roger was watching football this weekend, he probably enjoyed himself. First, his Middies found themselves trailing 24-0 at Tulane at halftime but rallied back to win, the institution’s greatest ever comeback (even better than the Pacific theater in the early 1940s). Then on Sunday the Cowboys trailed by 15 at home with fewer than five minutes left, 39-24, but rallied with the help of an onside kick to beat the Falcons, 40-39.
According to Wikipedia, the term “political football” is “a topic or issue that is seized on by opposing political parties or factions and made a more political issue than it might initially seem to be.”
And in this hellscape year where every day brings another “what the fck?” head shaker, football has become political. In particular, the issue is college football and the Big Ten Conference. The Big Ten, which thanks to expansion has 14 schools and stretches from Nebraska to New Jersey, thinks of itself as the thought leader in college athletics. Jim Delany, its recently retired commissioner, was perhaps the best to ever do the job. So, when most sports decided to soldier on through a pandemic, the Big Ten opted for safety. In mid-August, its presidents decided to punt the fall season. So did the Pac-12, also citing the health and safety issues. The other three Power Five leagues – the Big 12, Atlantic Coast and Southeastern – decided that King Football (and its desperately needed money from TV contracts) would continue to rule. That courageous (?) choice made the Big Ten presidents look like … suckers and losers. On Sept. 1, Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren accepted a phone call from President Donald Trump (or, as I like to call him, Agolf Shtler). The call was apparently set up by Clay Travis, a FOX radio host. He’s a Rush Limbaugh wannabe who has consistently followed and repeated the propaganda pumped by FAUX News downplaying the seriousness of COVID-19. (This writer has been blocked on Twitter by Travis, a proud accomplishment for moi.) Tuesday, bowing to pressure and claiming that COVID testing improvements have changed the opinions of their medical advisers, the Big Ten’s leaders reversed course and decided to play an abbreviated schedule starting in late October. The Pac-12, which had announced suspending all sports until Jan. 1, also is gearing up to play a shortened football schedule this fall. USA Today reported a senior White House official claimed during a background interview Wednesday, “That call was probably the most pivotal call in Big Ten football this year.” (We eagerly await a Jim Harbaugh play call that backfires in a key moment of another loss to Ohio State.) The thought that Trump seized on an opportunity to play hero ball to appeal to voters in key Midwestern swing states forced Your Veteran Scribe to pause, take a long hot shower, toss back a stiff (really stiff) drink and then take another shower. Our country is fresh out of nightmare scenarios but if the presidential election is decided on the narrow vote margins from a few states in Big Ten Country where the citizens voted for Trump because he gave them back their football … #%&@!
“President Trump had nothing to do with our decision and did not impact thedeliberations,” the president of one Big Ten university told NBC News. “In fact, when his name came up, it was a negative because no one wanted this to be political.”
In a sane world, that would make sense. But after four years of gaslighting, it’s too dark to determine if any comment is made honestly or is some sort of political spin dictated by operatives who whisper directions/threats on the third floor of a deserted parking garage at 3 a.m.
Regardless of nefarious political power broking, the Big Ten’s 180 came after weeks of caterwauling and complaining about the initial decision. The divisive debate included the peanut gallery throwing digital haymakers at excellent college football reporters who were simply doing their jobs. Stories written explaining the Big Ten’s cautious decision, were digitally decried as “anti-football” – and never mind that those reporters’ paychecks depend on the sport, well, uh, sporting.
My last offering on this site https://mediumhappy.com/?p=8807 came in late July before the Big Ten pulled the plug. I wrote and ranted that I was sick of sports and the desperate drum beat for college football. When the sport returned to my television screen, I was hypocritically happy to watch. Retired from my profession, I still enjoy my 12- to 14-hour Saturdays yelling at instant replay reviews and wittily countering comments by analysts.
Seeing Big 12 and ACC games Saturday with the SEC ready to return the weekend of Sept. 26 left the Big Ten facing more fan criticism. “Why the hell are they playing and not us?” Ohio State’s Bucknuts were especially livid, considering the Buckeyes have a team capable of winning a national championship (asterisk not included) and a quarterback (Justin Fields) who could win the Heisman Trophy (ceremony not yet scheduled but possibly to be held the day after Christmas.)
College football 2020 is already haphazard, slap dash and half ass. The return of the games has provided a sense of normalcy at a time when normal is a COVID-19 scoreboard where the Grim Reaper has 200,000-plus deaths and is averaging 1,000 victims per day.
As we deal with a New Normal that is ever changing, some thoughts: In late August, Abbott Laboratories announced it had developed a COVID-19 test that could deliver results in 15 minutes at the cost of $5 per test. This improvement and development of rapid testing was a major factor in the Big Ten’s decision to play. The conference’s testing costs will be shared equally by the schools.
The NFL, which opened its season last weekend, announced it would spend $175 million on testing this season. BioReference Laboratories is charging the NFL a flat fee covering up to 120 tests per team per day, with extra tests available at $125 each. The Big Ten hasn’t announced how much its daily testing will cost. Back of the envelope calculations, based on a $5 test and 150 daily tests per school would cost the Big Ten nearly $75,000 a week.
If you find it implausible and incongruous that sports leagues and their athletes are pushed to the front of the testing lines, you’re not wrong. Employees in meatpacking plants – many located in Big Ten states – have been declared essential workers by the federal government. Those essential workers have difficulty getting tested or getting quick results when they are tested. Personal anecdote: A friend was worried about having COVID and went to a rapid test location. She tested negative and her peace of mind cost $500 out of pocket (out of network).
The Big Ten will open play Oct. 23-24. Teams will play eight games – six against division foes and two from teams in the opposite division. The conference championship game is scheduled for Dec. 19 and on that date the 12 teams that don’t make the title game will be play matched based on how they finished in the division standings. The other conferences have built-in openings in the calendar to accommodate games postponed by potential COVID outbreaks. The Big Ten has not margin for error.
And never mind players will play nine games in nine weeks and that they haven’t had spring practice or summer workouts to build strength and stamina that typically prepares them for a three-month season. No Big Ten team played more than seven consecutive weeks last season.
Already there have been over a dozen football games postponed/rescheduled. Arkansas State won at Kansas State last Saturday but this Saturday’s game against Central Arkansas was scratched when Arkansas State’s offensive line was quarantined. Army, jonesing for an opponent after Saturday’s foe BYU hadto back out because of the virus, asked – on Tuesday – if Central Arkansas could fill in. Nope. Too much, too soon and too far. (Yeah, sounds like “amateur sports.”)
One reason the NCAA Manual (rule book) is a 500-page monster is because member schools are like thieves dividing a haul – they don’t trust each other. Arcane rules have been layered in a foolish effort to establish a level playing field, to make Notre Dame equal to Rice. This season, teams are practicing differently, testing differently, disclosing results differently, teams will have significantly different depth charts depending on quaratines. There is no equal like there’s no normal.
The College Football Playoff’s selection committee will face a monumental challenge. The Big Ten is playing eight regular-season games; the Big 12 and SEC are each playing 10. The ACC is playing 11. While the winners of those four leagues’ championship games figure to be likely choices for the four-team playoff, a 9-0 Ohio State team earning a bid over a 10-1 or 11-1 team from those other leagues will cause a special kind of controversy. College football’s post- season has always been about chaos, but the possibilities exist for a kind of chaos only associated with a Thanos finger snap.
LSU coach Ed Orgeron, whose team won the national championship last season, said this week he thought most of his players had contracted COVID-19 and recovered. Scott Woodward, his athletic director, said Orgeron “was a bit too transparent.” Athletic departments have long mis-applied HIPPA and FERPA (student privacy protections) to keep information from the public. Nearly two dozen schools aren’t disclosing the number – just the number, not the names –of players who test positive.
Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley, a voice of reason during the off-season, has decided to keep secret the number of Sooners who test positive for “competitive reasons.” Bool. Sheet. On Sept. 9, 20-year-old Jamain Stephens died. He was a junior defensive lineman at California University of Pennsylvania. The school had suspended sports for the fall, but Stephens returned to campus to work out with his teammates. His family said he died of a blood clot to the heart after testing positive for COVID-19. He was at a Division II school so his pandemic-related death didn’t get the attention it would have if he was at Cal-Berkeley or Penn State.
The coronavirus can be as mysterious as it can be deadly. If it doesn’t kill you, it doesn’t necessarily make you stronger. It can make you susceptible to heart, brain, lung and blood clot issues. Rolling the dice on the infection to play college football is something only I’m-gonna-live-forever college students would bet on. We can only fervently hope that over the next three months college football will successfully tap dance through the mine field.
College football is ambitiously whistling past the (literal) graveyard. No vaccine is imminent. We haven’t “turned the corner” in terms of controlling the spread. Maybe the Big Ten was wrong in August and is right in September. Ultimately, we won’t know who’s wrong and who’s right until November. Positive news at 10 a.m. can be countered by negative news by noon.
Oh, that was the only cliff hanger awaiting us in the 11th month.
How many people who literally worked with and for President Trump in the White House have to tell you what a scumbag he is before you begin to listen? With some folks, I doubt they’d listen if Trump himself said so (though, in not so many words, he does so every day).
The latest Trump Truther is Olivia Troye, who was vice president Mike Pence’s top aide on the coronavirus task force before resigning in late July. On Thursday Troye released a video statement in which…well, let her tell you herself:
Excerpts: “The truth is that he doesn’t actually care about anyone else but himself (things we already knew).”…
…and “Maybe this Covid thing is a good thing. I don’t like shaking hands with people. I don’t have to shake hands with these disgusting people.” I mean, I pretty much agree with Trump here, but then again, these people are not my base.
Remember when Hillary uttered “Deplorable” and they all used it as their badge of honor? Maybe they should upgrade to calling themselves “DDs,” or “Disgusting Deplorables.”
It’s one thing to hear Don Lemon and Rachel Maddow and Joe and Mika rant and rave about how unbelievably unfit Trump is to hold office/be married/touch his toes. But when you get a chorus of ex-staffers, many of whom were not shown the door but instead left of their own accord (or were arrested), well, is everyone else lying? Or is Donald?
I think we all know the answer to that one.
Saturday Night Live has wrangled one of our faves, Jim Carrey, to play Joe Biden this season. If you’re scoring at home that’s Jason Sudekis, Woody Harrelson and even once John Mulaney who have played Biden. We loved Sudekis’ Biden the best but can’t wait to see what Carrey does with it. Carrey’s probably the most talented SNL-type performer who was not a cast member (he or Robin Williams). In his twenties Carrey was on In Living Color, which was Fox’s Sunday night version of SNL. The talent jumped off the screen back then.
Lowering The Barr (Yet Again)
You’d thought Attorney General William Barr had already hit bottom, but then he says what he did Wednesday and fracks down even lower. Speaking at Hillsdale College in Michigan, Barr said, “Putting a national lockdown, stay at home orders is like house arrest. Other than slavery, which was a different kind of restraint, it’s the greatest intrusion on civil liberties in American history.”
Wow. Most people who make Holocaust, Hitler or slavery comparisons with anything they are currently enduring, in public, put their jobs in peril. And perhaps, unless they’re comedians, they should (be in peril). But here’s the nation’s top law enforcement official comparing 100s of years of slavery to a few months of please-wear-a-mask-and-oh-yeah-LA-Fitness-is-closed-for-the-time-being.
If this is the American Apocalyptic Olympics, Trump has already wrapped up the gold, of course. But William Barr and Mike Pompeo are running neck-and-neck for the silver. Fat, rich, angry, powerful, late-middle-aged white men, all three. How did this country not only produce such figures, but worse, give them access to power? Shame on you who voted for Trump.
Bronx Bomb Shelter
The New York Yankees have had some pretty decent home-run hitters over the years. Mickey Mantle. Roger Maris. Alex Rodriguez. Aaron Judge. Messrs. Gehrig and Ruth.
But in the past three nights these Pinstripers did two somethings that no Major League franchise had ever done while also separately setting a new franchise mark. In a three-game sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays, the Yankees set an MLB record for most home runs in a series of any length with 19. They also became the first team to hit six home runs in three consecutive games.
On Thursday evening the Yanks set a new team mark with five home runs in one inning. Luke Voit was among the five to hit a home run in that inning, bashing his 20th of the season in the Yanks’ 50th game. Only two other players in Yankee history have hit 20 home runs in the first 50 games of a season. Their names? Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle.
A little over one week ago the Yanks had fallen to 21-21 and were actually in danger of not being one of the eight A.L. teams that will make the playoffs. They’ve since won eight straight, all without Aaron Judge, to move to 29-21.
From the day Welshman Gareth Bale exited Tottenham for Real Madrid and every time we’ve thought of him since, we’ve believed his exile to Spain was a horrible idea. Bale, a frisky athletic god who’d have been a great NFL wideout, would have been the Premier League’s premier player the past seven years, i.e., in his prime. Certainly he would’ve been the league’s top player of British descent.
Instead, Bale, 31, left for more money and second-banana status behind Cristiano Ronaldo. He had some outstanding moments, and won four Champions League titles, but he was always in the shadows. Now, Bale is primed to return to Hotspur, which lost last weekend in the season opener, on a season-long loan. He will earn 600,000 pounds, or about $780,000, per week.
It was only a few years ago that La Liga (Spain) boasted Bale, Ronaldo, Neymar and Lionel Messi. Now Bale will play in the Premier League, Ronaldo is playing in Serie A (Italy), Neymar plays in Ligue I (France) and Messi desperately wants out of his FC Barcelona contract to play for Man City in the UK. Spain hasn’t been this unpopular since the Inquisition.
There’s No Business Like SNOW Business
Yesterday Snowflake, a computer software company (something about the cloud yada yada yada over our heads yada yada yada), had its IPO (ticker symbol: SNOW). The company was valued at about $12 billion last Friday but after Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway announced that it would buy 2 million shares and Salesforce announced it also would buy 2 million shares, well, the value skyrocketed to $70 billion.
The company was going to set its IPO price at between $75 and $85. Then yesterday it opened at $120 and then more than doubled to $319. We bought a first-day share at $248 (it’s trading below that now) on the concept that if it goes the route of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Netflix (etc.), we can at least say we were in on Day 1. The stock will almost surely plummet the next month or two, but let’s see where it is five years from now. 100-bagger, Susie B?
He’s Coming For You, Yeah, He’s Coming For You
We came across this performance on Letterman (not the actual show, but Letterman used to have quasi-jam sessions for bands in off hours and invite people who know people…we were never invited) by Foster the People the other night. Always loved the song, but have even more admiration now for lead singer Mark Foster (who is married to Julia Garner from Ozark). He puts his heart and soul into this performance, particularly the second half.
If you read Foster’s wiki page, you discover that he spent about 8 years in L.A. as a starving artist and was even the roommate of Brad Renfro (The Client), the brilliant young actor who died of a heroin overdose.
Triple-Feature On TCM
Phone the kids, wake the neighbors! A fabulous triple-header on TCM today beginning at 1:15 p.m EDT. First, it’s Frank Sinatra in The Man With The Golden Arm (1956), which is not a James Bond flick. It’s an early, some might say before-its-time, heroin addiction film.
Next up (3:30 p.m.) is one of those great relatively unsung films: Jimmy Stewart, George C. Scott and an incredibly sultry Lee Remick in the original courtroom procedural, Anatomy Of A Murder (1959). Dick Wolf owes some of his bones to this film.
Finally, they save the best ’til last (6:15 p.m.) with Laura, from 1944. You’ve got Dana Andrews, the transcendent Gene Tierney, and a wonderfully snitty Clifton Webb in a supporting role that got him nominated for an Oscar and should have won him the bauble.
Smoke outside too much? Stay in and watch at least one of these wonderful black-and-white gems.
For the second playoff series in a row, the Denver Nuggets overcome a 3-1 deficit to win. The Nuggets are 6-0 in elimination games just this bubble seasons.
The Clippers, meanwhile, are 0-8 all-time in elimination games and have now gone 50 seasons, the life of their franchise, without ever making it to the conference finals. That’s a record, a dubious one, in pro sports.
Nikola Jokic (Serbia) and Jamal Murray (Canada) are the Nuggets’ best two players. Call me xenophobic, but I love non-American hoopsters. They’re so much less “me”-oriented.
The Big Ten Returns (Is The Pac-12 Next?)
The Big Ten presidents, who voted to nix the season just last month, have reversed course and voted to resume it. They plan to begin play on October 24. Look forward to them reconvening in a week or so, after Ohio State coach Ryan Day assures them there’s no way for the Buckeyes to qualify for the playoff with only a 6-0 record, and moving up the start date to October 3rd.
The good news is that this will allow Michigan to keep its annual losing streak to the Buckeyes alive and extend it to nine years.
Honestly, why not? As long as you’re going to play, these programs don’t need five-plus weeks to get up and running. Do the presidents think these players don’t know the playbooks? Have not been lifting and training?
Meanwhile, LSU head coach Ed Orgeron slipped yesterday and revealed that “most” of his players have tested positive for the coronavirus. That’s not going to prevent the reigning national champs (or any SEC school) from playing and it certainly had no impact on the Big Ten vote.
So what we’ve got here is rampant Trumpism among every college conference (and Notre Dame) except the Pac-12. And that core belief is, “Play now, pay later.” Because the people making the decisions aren’t either going to be around to pay for them or aren’t the ones who’ll ever have to pay for them. It’s their fun (and money); it’s someone else’s future problem.
Just so we know where we stand.
And then there’s Bam Adebayo of the Miami Heat, who’s from Newark. With this block of Jayson Tatum’s attempted game-winning slam, he preserved the Heat’s Game 1 win in overtime versus the Celtics.
No, Adebayo did not come out of nowhere the way LeBron did against Andre Iguoudala a few seasons back, but in many ways this was more impressive as the block took place above the rim and Tatum, as you can see, had almost already jammed the ball home. This was more akin to an arm-wrestling contest at 10-plus feet.
Revenge Of The C-Minus Students
Listening to supporters of the president talk despite what they’ve been able to hear with their own ears the past week—yesterday a clip from the Woodward talks was released in which Donald Trump confessed that when a visitor to a White House meeting sneezed, “I got the hell out of there,” it’s clear that they don’t care much about science. Or integrity.
Last week on Pardon The Interruption we heard Michael Wilbon say, without pause, “America has never been dumber. Or meaner.” Or, might I add, more selfish. And so that is where we are.
Again, we love this guy. You have to hand it to Trump. He found a way to organize all the burnouts and bullies in class, the Biff Demographic (from Back To The Future), and turn them into a voting bloc.
Over the weekend, for The Athletic, I wrote a piece about how College GameDay was handling all of the unrest and social justice issues. The story received over 100 comments, many of which were to the tune of “ESPN doesn’t understand that their audience doesn’t want them to be political. What a turnoff.”
“To be political” in sports, in this era, is to foment a stand that is averse to the particular viewer in question. Military flyovers are political. Military reunions during timeouts are political. The national anthem is political. There are those who will say, “Those are all patriotic!” Same thing. At least it is in a country that still respects the First Amendment.
Either way, it’s fascinating to me. 1,000 deaths a day? Not the president’s fault. Millions of burned acres in the Pacific Northwest? Not the president’s fault. Climate change? Not the president’s fault. The stock market’s up? Totally the president’s doing.
Me, I’ve become very zen about all of it. I’m Slim Pickens cowboying-up the nuclear warhead over the winter landscape of Siberia in the final scene of Dr. Strangelove. It’s been a decent few thousand years run, humanity. But it’s unsustainable as long as avarice and nationalism rule. And now you add stupidity to the equation? No thanks, my money’s on the cosmos. I just hope we don’t take too many other species down with our own demise.
Luke, What You’ve Done!
I still remember when the Yankees picked up Luke Voit from the Cardinals two summers ago for Greg Bird, who never seemed to be able to get out of his own head while playing in the Bronx (and who was also too often injured). If Bird was hyper-neurotic, the muscle-bound Voit was exactly the opposite. A big o’l playful puppy who seemed oblivious to his surroundings.
In this abbreviated 2020 season, with oft-injured mega-star teammates Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton out yet again, Voit has become the most potent offensive force on the Yankees. Perhaps in the entire American League.
Last night, in the Bombers’ 20-6 defeat of the Blue Jays, Voit hit two home runs and had 5 RBI. He now leads all of baseball in home runs with 18 and is near the top with 42 RBI. He’ll be getting, and deserving, some serious A.L. MVP consideration. Amazing for a guy who only a year ago was platooning with Bird.
Love this guy. Who writes his material? Larry David? George Orwell? Science is literally “the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.”
In other words, science is not science UNTIL it knows. That’s science’s entire business: Studying why and how something happens in the physical and natural world. But, you know, if the Pope says the Sun revolves around the Earth and all of his acolytes agree—or are afraid to disagree—then you, Galileo, are headed to prison (how many MAGAs do you think would have been heliocentrists back in the day?).
The Sound of Flash Mobs
If this doesn’t make you smile, you probably died a few years ago…
What a Sunday night in Flushing Meadows, as Dominic Thiem of Austria became the first man in 71 years to overcome a two-set deficit and win the U.S. Open. If you’re scoring at home, that means since 1949… back when characters from Strangers On A Train were competing at the Open and then whisking themselves off to New Jersey amusement parks to confront murderous nemeses.
Too bad no fans were there to witness this one. One day earlier, Naomi Osaka overcame a one-set deficit to win the U.S. Open, the first female in 25 years to do so. Again, no fans.
A U.S. Open with no Federer, no Nadal, no Djokovic, no Williams sister, and no fans in the finals. Who ever would have believed it?
Watching Nikola Jokic burying unconventional shots as he led Denver back from a 19-point deficit against the Clippers to force a Game 7, I was reminded of an out-of-shape dad playing against the kids on the block. Now, the dad was at one time the best shooter in his high school conference, a highly skilled player, but he’s let himself go. There’s a beer gut. And if you want him to play full-court, don’t expect him to get back on defense every time.
However, if you get him the ball and don’t ask him to drive to the hoop, he’s unguardable. Jokic finished with 34 points to force a Game 7—the Clippers are now 0-7 in games to advance to the Western Conference finals in franchise history—but it was the nonchalant nature with which he fired, and drained, these circus shots that amazed us. The Nuggets trailed by double digits in what was for them an elimination game and the 7-foot Serb played as if all he was doing was procrastinating from mowing the lawn. It was a thing of beauty to behold.
South Bend’s Next Great Mayer
Move over, Mayor Pete. Now there’s true freshman Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer. The five-star from Kentucky only had three catches in his debut Saturday (on four targets…don’t throw a 6’5″ man a pass to his knees, Ian Book), but it’s pretty easy to see that he’s going to be the best Fighting Irish tight end since Tyler Eifert.
Our Notre Dame tight end crush is well-documented and goes all the way back to Dave Casper…and Ken McAfee… and Mark Bavaro. And then in 2005 Anthony Fasano began an almost uninterrupted run of NFL greatness that has included himself, John Carlson, Kyle Rudolph, Eifert, Troy Niklas, Ben Koyack and Cole Kmet.
(Just click on the tweet)
We’re not here saying that Mayer will be the best of that lot. But the 6’5″ super stud will be in that Eifert/Rudolph/Bavaro realm. And he already looks like a super hero.
One of our favorite things about the Donald Trump Experience is how an entitled buffoon who lived most of his adult life on Fifth Avenue and within two blocks of 57th Street—literally the most cosmopolitan intersection in America, with Tiffany on one corner—has found love with a gaggle of middle-Americans with whom he’d have absolutely nothing to do with if he did not need their votes.
He loves them because they don’t know who he really is or maybe they just don’t care. And they love him because he blames all the people they want to blame for whatever is wrong with their version of America… because maybe looking into a mirror is too difficult. It’s quite the lovefest, and President Trump continued it with brazen disregard on Sunday as he held a massive indoor rally near Reno, against the state’s Covid-19 mass gathering regulations.
It’s interesting that the president would travel all the way from D.C. to the American west and not think to drop in on Oregon, or Washington, or northern California, states that are reporting massive losses of life and hundreds of millions of acres burned. But, you know, they didn’t vote for him in 2016, so f*** ’em.
Meanwhile, as Maureen Dowd notes in her Sunday New York Times column, Trump’s sociopathic need for attention is so overwhelming that he’s even willing to incriminate himself, to Bob Woodward, in exchange for reading about himself more. Of Trump being his own whistleblower in terms of what he knew about the coronavirus and when, a fellow Times employee went on MSNBC Sunday morning and said, ” “Trump is the first candidate for president to launch an October surprise against himself. It’s as if Nixon sent the Nixon tapes to Woodward in an envelope by FedEx.”
Not that Trump’s open-and-shut case against himself will sway any of the thousands who flocked to his rallies this weekend. He used to joke that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and get away with it. Hell, he’s killed nearly 200,000 Americans in a little over six months. Of course he could.
The NYC Marathon Turns 50
It was 50 years ago yesterday—September 13, 1970—that the first New York City Marathon was staged (in the past eight years, 2013 and 2020, the Marathon was not held, first because of Hurricane Sandy and now because of the pandemic). The 26.2-mile race was held entirely in Central Park which, if you’ve run the 6-mile loop, you know is quite a challenge.
The inaugural race had 127 starters and 55 finishers. Only one woman entered, and she dropped out at mile 14. The winner, above, was a firefighter, Gary Muhrcke, who wan a 2:31 and only caught the leader at Mile 24. The running boom was still a few years away, obviously.
Recent NYC Marathons have had upwards of 35,000 entrants and it’s still not easy to get in. Fair to say that the running boom is more than a fad.
As I type this, an ad is playing in the background about “Joe Biden’s America” and rattling off the names of cities in turmoil (“Portland”… “Minneapolis”). I don’t remember Joe Biden being elected president in 2016. I mean, those cities sound an awful lot like Donald Trump’s America. Cities burning figuratively… millions of acres of forest burning literally… hundreds of thousands of Americans dying needlessly. I really am alarmed by this Joe Biden’s America we are currently living in. Except it’s not his, is it? It took us 36 more years, but we’ve finally perfected Orwell’s 1984.
Chief, Financial Officer
Pat Mahomes, he of the brand new $503 MILLION deal, leads the defending Super Bowl champs to a 34-20 season-opening win against Deshaun Watson (new $156 million extension) and the Houston Texans.
Rookie K.C. back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, last seen in the same backfield as Joe Burrow in the college football championship game, rushed for 138 yards on 25 carries.
We didn’t watch. Was it fun?
Rudolf The Red-Faced Nazi
Was Rudolf Hess—above right; not sure with whom he’s sitting—heroic, crazy, quixotic, suicidal?
In May of 1941, as Germany was in its ninth month of aerial bombardment of Great Britain and as his Deutschland was preparing to foolishly launch war on a second front against Russia (the dude above to the left’s fatal mistake), Hess, the third-ranking member of the Nazi Party and himself a pilot, took off unauthorized from an airfield in Augsburg, Germany. His destination? A little town south of Glasgow, Scotland.
So we never knew this piece of history until yesterday (from reading Erik Larson’s The Splendid And The Vile). Hess, completely independently of Hitler, decided to fly solo to the UK and attempt to broker a peace agreement. He knew he’d never have enough fuel to return to Germany so this was an all or nothing deal.
Turns out Hess was unable to locate an airstrip—he flew at night to better escape RAF detection—and parachuted from his plane, as it was precariously low on fuel. He was soon taken prisoner and a savvy RAF major recognized who he was (Hess had lied about his identity, hoping to seek an audience with the Duke of Hamilton, who had ties to a German official).
Hess was soon taken prisoner and you can imagine that the London broadsheets had a field day with this piece of news, which caused quite a, shall we say, furor, back home in the land of beer steins and soft pretzels.
Hess was held in London until the war’s conclusion, after which he stood accused at the famous Nuremberg Trials and was sentenced to life imprisonment at Spandau Prison in Berlin. While other Nazi prisoners were released over the decades, Hess never was. In 1987, at the age of 93, having spent nearly half his life in prison, he hanged himself.
If you’re a Miami Hurricane beat reporter, your left pinkie will get a workout this season. The Hurricanes won their season opener on the ACC Network last night, beating UAB, behind quarterback D’Eriq King and leading rusher Cam’Ron Harris. The Canes’ backup quarterback, who attempted three passes and completed two, is N’Kosi Perry.
If you were wondering to yourself, Wasn’t there a D’Eriq King who played for Houston who appeared in a season-opening weeknight game last season? Well, yes, there was. And yes, it’s the same player.
Liar, Liar, West’s On Fire
That headline pretty much sums up this week in the United States of America. Earlier this week we learned that President Trump knew exactly how bad the coronavirus was as early as February as he was treating the 330 million citizens of the United States as if we are four year-olds who can’t handle bad news (“No, your grandparents didn’t just die, we’ve sent them to a farm in upstate New York where they can play with other grandparents”).
Then yesterday the president was asked why he lied to America. And he replied that he didn’t lie—while moving his hands a lot, which is a classic gesture of equivocation—which, as CNN’s Daniel Dale pointed out, is yet another lie.
And meanwhile the American west is burning, with more than 300 million acres charred. I’m waiting to read about the Sequoia National Desert. As one columnist pointed out succinctly, “It’s simple. Everything that benefits Mr. Trump is true and everything that inconveniences him is false.”
Ah, how easy life would be if we all had the power to live by that dictum. Dictum? I hardly knew him.
By the way, came across this terrific essay by David Brooks on our president’s “stupidity of the heart.” It once again calls out an identifying Trump trait: an inability to care about anyone other than yourself.
Farewell To A Great Dame
Dame Diana Rigg, a British acting great, passes away at the age of 82.
Rigg was fortunate enough to have three memorable roles, two of which she landed in the 1960s and the last in the final decade of her life. In 1965 she landed the role of sexy spy Emma Peel in the TV series The Avengers; in 1968 she was the Bond girl in what many (us included) consider the best 007 film: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
And in the two-teens she played Olenna Tyrell in Game Of Thrones.
In two of the above roles, Rigg met her end onscreen.
Of course, we couldn’t forget one of her best on-screen moments, which came in Extras. Playing herself.
Yesterday’s Trump revelations via Bob Woodward’s upcoming book, Rage, reminded me of Joseph Goebbels. Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda and his wife had six young children. In the spring of 1945, as the Russians were converging on Berlin from the east and the Allies from the west, Hitler committed suicide on April 30. In accordance with the fuhrer’s wishes, Goebbels succeeded him as Chancellor of Germany.
For one day.
On May 1st, Goebbels and his wife committed suicide. But, and this is kind of a big but, only after poisoning their six young children with cyanide tablets. Why did Goebbels’ six kinder have to die? Was someone going to charge them with war crimes? Unlikely.
Goebbels knew he was finished, but he decided to “protect” his progeny from the worldwide wrath they’d face as kids of his by… killing them?
The analogy that I find here is that Trump alleges to Woodward that he was protecting Americans when any sane person would realize that his extended—even to this month—public disavowal of the gravity of Covid-19 has resulted in tens of thousands of needless deaths. The dean of Brown’s medical school was on TV last night and went as far as saying that Trump’s protracted public ignorance (which, again, is not what he actually knows) probably caused at least two-thirds of the U.S. Covid-19 deaths thus far. So, add mass murderer to the list.
Two more things: 1) Yes, it has seemed like the longest year. But what people forget is that we spent the first five weeks of it obsessing about the Senate impeachment trial. That folly dominated the news all of January into the beginning of February—even though we knew what the outcome would be.
When it ended, and Trump won (sorta), he was in no mood to act responsibly or ethically. He was in the mood to celebrate. And stage rallies. This is a man who does what is pleasing to him. And that’s his only code. And so, prepare for the worst pandemic in more than a century? That wasn’t about to happen.
2) We heard the Senator from Louisiana, John Kennedy, do a CNN interview where he was asked about squaring Trump’s public statements about the pandemic with his private confiding to Bob Woodward. Kennedy’s practiced line (if you say a lie enough times, it begins to take hold) that he repeated over and over is that he’s “not a fan of ‘gotcha’ journalism.”
Of course, that’s not what this is. The President himself, on tape, is the one dishing on the president. These are not anonymous sources, disaffected ex-staffers, etc. This is from the source itself.
It’s a testament to Trump’s narcissism that he’d agree to 18 different talking sessions with the very man who brought down the Nixon presidency just because he knew the guy was writing a book about him. Trump would rather spend hours talking about himself, even to the point of admitting he committed mass murder by proxy, than keep his yap shut. Is there a better illustration of exactly who he is?
If You’re Going To San Francisco
Visual evidence to the contrary, California is a blue state. But the apocalyptic skies above the Bay Area are what the wildfires have wrought. Of course the president doesn’t care “because they didn’t vote for me.”
Reminder: The Towering Inferno was set in San Francisco.
Rocky Mountain Haiku
101 degrees last weekend
all clothing alert
More Runs Than Outs
The Milwaukee Brewers put up 19 runs in a game yesterday, but so what? The Atlanta Braves scored 29 (not in the same game). The Braves, aided by three home runs and nine RBI by Adam Duvall, beat the Marlins 29-9 in Atlanta. In case you’re wondering, the Rangers put up 30 on the Orioles back in 2007, the modern record.