In the city by Lake Erie, baseball’s best pitcher took on its most offensively potent lineup. This one got late early.
As a rust-colored sunset loomed behind, the announcers were just finishing saying that Shane Bieber had led all of baseball in Wins, Strikeouts and ERA (pitching’s triple crown) when D.J. LeMahieu, who led all of baseball in batting average (.364), stroked a patented opposite-field single to right. The next batter, Aaron Judge, took a Bieber fastball beyond the right-center field wall.
The Yanks would go on to win 12-3 in Cleveland. Elsewhere, Minnesota lost its 17th consecutive postseason game (“Not great, Bob”). Oakland and Tampa Bay also won. Today we have five games, beginning at 9 a.m. local time.
Elsewhere in Cleveland…
Who won last night’s Biden-Trump debate? I did… by not watching a moment of it.
Now, I will admit that I followed along on Twitter and at one point when I snuck into the kitchen I heard the president repeating the line “super predator” at Joe Biden and wondered how come, every time Donald Trump said it, Biden didn’t interrupt, “Women call you what?” Or why Biden did not invoke “Herman Cain” when Trump stated that there were no ill effects from the Tulsa rally. And I did see a clip of the now historic “stand back and stand by” moment.
As CNN’s Jake Tapper summarized, “Donald Trump has come to the realization that he can’t win and now he wants to take all of America down with him.” The United States: Donal Trump’s latest failed enterprise.
Can Dabo Be Apolitical?
In a sports environment in which NBA players wear “SAY HER NAME” and “BLACK LIVES MATTER” on their uniforms where their own surnames once were, taking no stand at all can be seen as being on the other side? Is that right? Or fair?
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney was asked about social justice messages on uniforms two nights ago and he gave a clumsy answer that reminded all of us the bubble in which he lives (it’s literally a practice bubble). Cabo said that he supports “common sense causes, not political organizations.”
We here at MH feel that it’s any program’s right not to use its uniforms as a platform for social protest, just as much as it is the program’s right to do so. Perhaps a better way to come at that would be if Dabo asked why Clemson doesn’t just put “BLM” on its helmets and change its uniforms to black all season? And if someone said, “Well, you don’t need to go that far” his reply should be, “The degree to which we’d go isn’t the point. The point is that you feel you have the right to dictate what we should do with our uniforms. Not having a ‘BLM’ sticker doesn’t mean we don’t support it. It means that we won’t use our football program as a bumper sticker.”
Simple. Call us, Dabo. We can help.
Like This, See?
Here’s Louisville hoops coach Chris Mack calling out instate rival John Calipari and Kentucky for ducking their contest. It’s now on again.
RIP, Helen and Mac
Singers Helen Reddy and Mac Davis, both of whom appeared on The Mike Douglas Show in my youth, both passed away yesterday. Both, I believe, were 78.
Reddy’s iconic “I Am Woman” hit became an anthem for the feminist movement (“Yes, I am wise/But it’s wisdom born of pain/Yes, I’ve paid the price/But look how much I’ve gained“). Davis, a curly-haired country singer, sang “Baby, Baby, Don’t Get Hooked On Me” and also was pretty darn good as an NFL QB in North Dallas Forty.
The Stanley Cup finals ended last night. Tampa Bay won.
Today: four MLB playoff games, all American League (best of three, all three games from the team with the better record’s home field, but they will alternate who bats last and again, no fans). The four games—Astros-Twins, White Sox-A’s, Jays-Rays, and Yanks-Indians—will be telecast on ABC, ESPN and TBS and by 3 p.m. EST at least two games will be taking place for the next five hours.
Tomorrow: Game 1 of the NBA Finals, Heat-Lakers. Did you see Goran Drajic starting in the NBA Finals five years ago?
Also: Le French Open et Le Tour de France simultane!
Later this week: The Preakness Stakes, college and NFL football.
Jimmy Chin’s Grand Experiment
A phenomenal piece in The New York Timesthat you must make time for. Climber Jimmy Chin (who won an Oscar for producing/directing Free Solo) found himself quarantined, at least from traveling abroad, this summer in his home of Wilson, Wyo. So he turned the Grand Tetons into his personal workout space, traversing an 18-mile crest ridge known as The Grand Traverse.
This piece demonstrates the potential of what on-line journalism is able to do that old print can just never come close to approaching.
Well, That IS Scary
How to make the top-rated haunted house in the U.S.A. even scarier? How about, MURDER?!?
At Erebus Haunted House in Detroit, a popular shriek palace, a dispute broke out between two men when one thought the other had cut in line. Both men (the victim was with his girlfriend) went back to their cars, apparently to retrieve sidearms. The suspect went all Kyle Rittenhouse on the victim (note to self: a haunted house named Rittenhouse), who was struck three times and, being the victim, died. He was 29.
I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all been cut in line (no backsies!) and we’ve all wanted to murder the person who perpetrated this crime. Just that most of us never do so. But I can feel the sentiment.
How’s This For a Haunted House?
Two fires, each 0% contained, raging in northern California. One of them, the Glass Fire (I don’t know who names fires; why isn’t it like hurricanes?) has destroyed wineries in Napa and Sonoma Counties, including the Chateau Boswell. Maybe they should call it the Wine Glass Fire?
Once again, it’s a good idea to opt out of 2020. Now even wine is going to be more expensive.
Trump Tax Travails
We have not waded far into the New York Times’ reporting of President Trump evading (not avoiding) income tax beyond the obvious bullet points of 1) did not pay income tax in 10 of the past 15 years, 2) paid only $750 in 2016 and 2017 and 3) earned $427 million from The Apprentice, directly and indirectly (and somehow squandered all of it).
And here’s the thing: Team Trump is betting that his sheep won’t read much of it, either. You wonder if Fox News has even acknowledged it.
I’m sorry, Ann, weren’t the latest tax revisions muscled through by a GOP-controlled House and Senate?
For us, the true crime is the tax code and the legislators who help create it. Taxes should be simple. The more complicated they get, it only enables those who have the means to have complicated forms of income and the accountants they can afford to hire. We’ll be mulling this as we head to one of our three jobs this morning, knowing that we’ll be paying more in taxes in 2020 than our “billionaire” president.
Why do Trumpers spend all day and night wheezing about being “Pay-tree-OTS” but then in the next breath say it’s cool to not pay your fair share of taxes? Hmm.
Like many Americans, we were surprised to discover that we paid more taxes in 2016 and 2017 ($750 each year) than “billionaire” Donald Trump did. Of course, the president retaliated against The New York Times‘ reporting by using his rubber stamp of disinformation: “It’s all ‘Fake News.'”
The headline: “TRUMP’S TAXES SHOW CHRONIC LOSSES AND YEARS OF TAX AVOIDANCE.”
Remember, these are the two most honest things President Trump has said in the past five years:
“I love the poorly educated.” (He really does. He loves that they’re poorly educated, the easier by which to con them.)
“Whatever you see and whatever you hear, do not believe it.” (That’s Roy Cohn-meets-George Orwell grade disinformation right there).
In the first few months after Donald Trump was installed in the White House, Rachel Maddow devoted plenty of time to the Russian financial connection to our 45th president. But, to be fair to TRMS, nearly every day brought a new White House scandal (Comey, Mueller, Ukraine, Cohen, Manaforte yada yada yada) that it was easier to drop the ball and move on to more pressing matters.
For us, though, this has always been the central story: Donald Trump was broke. Long before the election. The Russians approached him. And Trump approached Deutsche Bank. Trump found a way to have Deutsche Bank lend him money (when no other bank would) just as Deutsche Bank conveniently began open their vaults to an infusion of Russian assets. Wow, wonder how that happened?
The Russians have financially helped Trump, including overpaying mightily for some of his real estate, while Deutsche Bank has served as the conduit. His presidency has always been about paying Russia back. It’s the ultimate con: using the most powerful office in the world to avoid going to jail. It’s better than the best John Le Carre novel.
We are in the midst of it right now. Five years or a decade from now, when more people finally start talking, the story will become clear. And the truth is that even in the 2-thousand-teens, we all should have been listening to the words of Deep Throat: “Follow the money.”
Don’t Stop Disbelievin’
In a strange way, we admire Donald Trump. He has revealed himself to be opposite everything his followers care about (his Trump card? Racism. It’s the one thing he’s not disingenuous about) and yet they still support him as fervently as ever. The Devil could learn a thing or two from Donald Trump, and Donald Trump will have plenty of time to teach him (soon, we hope?).
A laundry list of things Trump’ers purport to care about:
–The Military (“suckers and losers”)
–Faith and Religion (read: Christianity). Everything about Trump is opposite of who Jesus Christ was, and that’s before we even delve into the three marriages, myriad episodes of adultery, the fact that he never attends church and that he literally doesn’t even know which end of the Bible is up. Does anyone wanna bet he couldn’t tell you the authors of the four gospels?
And we really don’t care whether or not someone attends church. But maybe follow the golden rule. Just once, just one day.
–Fiscal responsibility. Greatest deficit ever and at a time when the economy is supposedly booming. How’s that work? I’m always amused when my Republican friends spout their trickle down theory. Nothing has “trickled down” in 40 years. If it doesn’t trickle down in boom times, is it supposed to trickle down during a recession? I don’t think so.
–National Security. Again, 1,000 a day dead due to Covid and Russia basically knows the combination to our locker. You tell me.
Here’s really why people still like Trump. On Saturday I was at a Barro’s Pizza here in Devil’s Gulch, waiting for a pizza I ordered. Enjoying a cold Coors Light, watching the college football. An older man in a “Vietnam Veterans” hat approached me and asked why I was watching the game. I didn’t tell him I was working (“The Bubble Screen”) but just told him that I liked college football.
“Aren’t you a patriot?” he asked.
“I would say so,” I replied.
“I won’t watch that any more,” he lied to me. “I love my country.”
Now, it was all I could do not to congratulate him for finishing in second place in the Vietnam conflict, but this is one more example of a flimsy mind easily bent. And this is what Trump capitalizes on. Plus, you have to love the Fox bubble. It keeps people from him from ever having to learn what’s really going on. Did you know that if you only tune to Fox News you wouldn’t even be aware of the unbridled hypocrisy of Mitch McConnell’s Supreme Court maneuvering the past four-plus years? They never address it.
Before We Forget
We didn’t want to let the NBA Finals—Lakers versus Heat—commence without bowing in supplication to this fantastic move by Denver’s Jamal Murray (we look forward to seeing what the Nuggets do next season…all they need is a third piece, and to jettison any Plumlee who attempts to join the roster). It is redolent of MJ’s famous move against the Lakers in Game 2 of the 1991 NBA Finals, but it’s also worth noting that the two defenders he splits here are Dwight Howard and LeBron James. Howard was a three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year and James is a five-time first-team All-Defensive team player.
Cirque du Soleil Audition
In case you missed this on Saturday, that’s Texas freshman tailback Bijan Robinson almost cracking his spinal cord in two. He was not seriously injured.
Thanks, all, for the kind words yesterday. I’d like to think that Notre Dame postponing Saturday’s game may have also contributed to my saturnine disposition.
Anyway, late last night I cheered myself the way I so often do: by re-watching clips of awards show monologues (Ricky Gervais at the Golden Globes never gets old). And lucky me, I found a couple featuring John Mulaney and Nick Kroll hosting the Independent Film Spirit Awards. These, I had never seen before and I share them with you.
So, you should know: When Mulaney was a freshman at Georgetown (not an independent spirit, both of his parents are alums), he signed up to be in an improv group. The senior who was in charge of the group was a kid named Nick Kroll. The rest is history.
I’ve interviewed Kroll and he readily acknowledges that Mulaney is a natural. There are good ballplayers and then there’s Willie Mays or Joe DiMaggio. They’re just built for it. Enjoy. I like the first one better, particularly the way they play off the chauvinistic “male gazing” at awards show red carpets when they tease Warren Beatty.
Girls Night Out
Of course, Mulaney and Kroll had a playbook to work from: a pair of ladies who preceded Mulaney (who was a writer) at SNL, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. It helps that they’re both incredibly funny and smart, but like Mulaney and Kroll, true friends. It shows here. This was the first of three consecutive times they hosted the Golden Globes. We can see, if the Globes has an in-house audience this winter, Mulaney (or Mulaney and Kroll) hosting.
We’ve been on a little bit of an Aimee Mann, who turned 60 earlier this month, kick lately. You think about it, she was criminally overlooked in the Eighties. Til Tuesday, the band she fronted, had this one major hit in 1984 and at the time there were a slew of women, frankly, who mirrored Mann’s New Wave punk look: Madonna, all of the Go Go’s, the lead singer from Missing Persons, etc.
But, I’m sorry, Mann was the only one who literally could’ve walked off stage and directly into the pages of Vogue. She’s a timeless beauty. Saw her play in June of ’17. She was fantastic and still incandescently gorgeous but now looks more like a Malibu yoga teacher who probably eats twice a week at True Foods.
Aimee Mann always looked the way Madonna wished she could look—like a come-to-life version of Malcolm Garrett’s cover art from Duran Duran’s Rio album. And she wrote her own songs and even played the bass and guitar. My simple guess is that Mann never quite become as big as Madonna, or anywhere even close, because it was never her ambition to be.
Mann’s man would turn out to be Michael Penn, who had a hit with “No Myth” (a song that was absolute perfection and so not of its time) in 1989. They married eight years later. Yes, he is Sean Penn’s brother. And yes, Penn family get-togethers for years included Aimee Mann and Robin Wright. Holy smoke show.
The Gipper Got It
This is Ronald Reagan‘s—I’m sorry, Fox News viewers, “St. Reagan”—inaugural speech in January of 1980. You don’t have to listen long. Literally listen to the FIRST 90 SECONDS of this speech. If I were the DNC and Joe Biden’s campaign manager, I would buy ad time and simply play these 90 seconds on a loop.
OVER AND OVER AND OVER again.
I always liked Ronald Reagan, too. Not all Republicans are evil, avaricious fascists. And I’m pretty certain the Gipper was not, either. People worshipping both him and Trump should be ashamed of themselves.
And That’s, As A Bedecked Kate McKinnon Might Say, A Ginsburg
The Kansas Comet, Gale Sayers, has passed. His playing days were a little before our time, and all we really remembered about Sayers is that Billy Dee Williams played him in Brian’s Song (James Caan, who actually played collegiately at Michigan State, played the ill-fated Brian Piccolo)
Sayers, like the man who would succeed him in the Chicago Bears backfield, was an aesthetically pleasing back to watch run. He glided, as opposed to running people over. Even though he was a teammate of arguably the greatest, or at least most menacing, defensive player ever (Dick Butkus), or at least until Lawrence Taylor showed up, Sayers never appeared in a playoff game. The Bears were simply that awful.
Sayers, a Kansas alum, had a relatively brief NFL career (1965-1971). His best season came in 1966 when he led the NFL in rushing with 1,231 yards. He passed away on Monday at the age of 77 of complications from dementia, a likely result from his NFL career.
Honors: NFL Rookie of the Year, NFL Comeback Player of the Year in 1969 when he returned from a knee injury and led the NFL in rushing again, and also, Sayers was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame at the age of 34, still the youngest man ever to be so honored.
Nobody is better at selling a lie with more vigor and persistence than Donald Trump. When asked on Wednesday if he would commit to a peaceful transfer of power, President Trump repeated his oft-used lie of the past few weeks that the election “is a scam,” “is a hoax” and that we have to “get rid of the ballots…and there won’t be a transfer of power.”
This would be ludicrous enough if the challenger were claiming, more than a month before the election, that the election is rigged. But this is the incumbent. You know who should have the authority to make sure that a presidential election is conducted fairly and above board? The President of the United States.
But this one doesn’t want a fair and above-board election because he sees the daily polls and he knows he’s losing. Big time. So five-plus weeks out from the election, Donald Trump is sowing the seeds of conspiracy that the election is rigged. Even though HE is the president.
Trump is going to keep repeating this lie until the election, playing the victim to his Fox & Friends friends even though he is the most powerful man in the world. His ultimate hope here? To get the election thrown into the Supreme Court, where he’ll have a 5-3, perhaps even 6-3 majority. He wants the nine Supreme Court justices to cast the ballots instead of 300 million or so Americans.
Because it’s the only way he can win.
If Trump truly attempts this—and I believe he will, I believe that there is no way he’ll concede to Joe Biden…he as much said so today—then someone needs to take him out (to dinner). Someone needs to step up in the name of this great republic and take him out (to lunch). We are too great a nation to allow one corrupt family of charlatans take us down. Don’t let them take us down. Take him out (to breakfast).
Honestly, though, come back, Travis Bickle. All is forgiven
How’s That Water Feel Now, Señor Frog?
It’s September 25th.
We’re less than 40 days away from the election and possibly, the advent to the darkest period of American history since the Civil War. I understand that there are plenty of people who prefer Donald Trump’s America: one where blacks and Mexicans know their place, where women aren’t “nasty” and never have abortions (unless their GOP politicians’ mistresses), where your stock-market portfolio sees big gains and where stupid things like trees and wildlife and national parks don’t get in the way of capitalism.
Of course, the price these people are willing to pay for Making America Great Again is democracy. And once you turn off the spigot, it’s going to be very difficult to turn back on. And as long as your side is in power, you won’t have a problem with that. But karma’s a bitch. And your kids, or grandkids, will pay a dire price.
In The Atlantic, writer Barton Gellman’s piece “This Is How Democracy Comes To An End” points out that while it has always been assumed that the person who wins the popular vote in a state will get the electors from that state, there is no constitutional mandate for that. State legislators have always assigned electors consistent with who wins the popular vote, but that is a formality. Not a requirement.
In battleground states such as Pennsylvania or Michigan where legislatures are majority Republican, they could simply bypass this tradition and assign Republican electors. Even if Biden captures more votes. The game is rigged all right, Mr. Trump. And you’re the one rigging it.
What is shocking, I find, is that otherwise nice and sane people (I know) have no problem with any of this. They buy Trump’s line that the Democrats have a conspiracy planned (if so, why didn’t they employ it when a Democrat was in the White House and Hillary was running for president?), which in their minds makes it okay for Trump to toss out the concept of an election decided by ballots.
They’re willing to throw away a central premise of America in order to “save America.” It’s the Patriot Act all over again (once again, a tip of the cap to you, Mr. Bin Laden…your plan worked better than you ever could have possibly conceived, and all in less than two decades).
There are no adults in the room. At least not any in power. Who is going to step up to Trump when he swindles America just as he’s swindled everyone else who ever dealt with him? Chris Hayes? Don Lemon? Nope.
The good news is that Donald Trump will die some day (hopefully sooner rather than later). The bad news is that it may be too late.
And on top of that, we’ve got this? My lord. I haven’t followed the Breonna Taylor tragedy that closely, but here’s what I do not understand: Why did Louisville police fell the need to use a no-knock warrant in the middle of the night when no one’s life was in imminent danger? And how were they so incompetent to not even have the suspect inside the apartment they were breaking in to?
Here’s what I know: If Buford P. Cracker was exercising his first Amendment rights against po po invading his home, they’d be erecting a statue to him. Especially if his honey-blonde wife with the Double-D’s had been martyred. Hell, they’d make her a saint.
But of course the po po would knock politely at the apartment door of Mr. Cracker, now wouldn’t they?
**** Man, this has been a week and it’s not even over yet. In the past 7 days RBG has died, another great injustice to black people has been carried out, and now the president is saying that the only fair election is one that he wins. If you know Trump (the way we New Yorkers do), this does not surprise you. Maybe, like me, you’re only surprised that so many of your fellow Americans are eager to whore out this nation’s integrity for four more years of white supremacy.
It feels as if America is headed for a divorce. Maybe these differences are irreconcilable. What the past four to five years have shown this writer is that racism is so deeply embedded in so many Americans, and that these people were just waiting for their “savior” to come around and tell them that it was okay again to be racist, to have one standard for white folks (mostly men) and another for everyone else. An offshoot: so many white women that I personally know have, in their adoration of Trump, demonstrated to me that at the end of the day give them a white guy in a suit and they’ll go along with just about anything he says or does.
We really don’t like one another. We are polarized. And how are we going to fix this? Are White Rash Trumpers suddenly going to concede that everyone should play by the same rules? Are black people going to return to saying only either “yes’m, boss” and “no suh, boss?” I don’t think so.
Having spent my life in sports, here’s what I’m hoping: that every prominent black athlete in America (and any white athletes who want to join them) stop playing for “our” entertainment if Trump hijacks this election. NBA stars, go play in Europe or China or Australia. NFL stars, every last one of you drop out of the league. Start your own league and don’t tell me Woke ESPN wouldn’t come along for the ride and televise your games. You get a TV contract and the 70% of the NFL’s current personnel and where will men like Jerry Jones and Robert Kraft be then?
Mostly, though, I’d love to see sports disappear. And I’d love to see music acts refuse to play. As long as Trump is in office, if he steals this election, let America get by with only country music and golf. See how much fun that is.
I’m done for today and I’m not even sure I’m returning tomorrow.
*The judges will also accept “MAGA-lomaniac” and “Great White Dope”
Nearly 1,000 Americans a day die from Covid-19-related complications, but Donald Trump is too busy fluffing his ego with the support of dumb or vile (or both) white Americans at rallies to pretend to care. So last night he went on the offensive against Bumble Bee Tuna, a company whose CEO had publicly chafed about Trump tariffs, stating that Bumble Bee cans made the most dangerous projectiles.
“They go out and buy tuna fish and soup…they throw it,” Trump said. “It’s the perfect weight, tuna fish, they can really rip it…And that hits you…Bumble Bee brand tuna…and [the cops] are not allowed to fight back.
Man, would I love to try to see if that were true. Just put me within 100 feet of the president and I’d give it the old college try. If I cannot brain him, then I’d just love if that can grabbed him by the pu**y.
And It Was All Yellow
Monday night marked the 50th anniversary of Monday Night Football. For the game, the first-ever NFL regular-season game in Las Vegas, which pitted the New Orleans Saints against the Las Vegas Raiders (“YEH RAIDAS!”), ESPN’s MNF crew of Steve Levy, Louis Riddick and Brian Griese donned the canary-yellow MNF blazers that Howard, the Giffer and Dandy Don had made famous in the 1970s.
That first Monday Night Football game, on Sept. 21, 1970, pitted the New York Jets at the Cleveland Browns. The home team won, 31-21. Worth noting that because the Browns failed to sell out their stadium, Cleveland fans were unable to see the game on TV. There were no fans in Vegas on Monday evening, due to Covid, but the game was televised locally.
Also, my very close friend and future pallbearer—I’d say “Best Man” but whom are we kidding?— Smo notes that Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away on the 50th anniversary of Jimi Hendrix’s death.
The lesson in all of this: life goes on.
California, There They Go
It’s mostly anecdotal evidence right now, and the occasional think piece, but California, once America’s Canaan, has lost its golden shine. Perennial forest fires, high taxes, overpopulation, mudslides, smoky air, and out-of-control real-estate prices have the Joad families of this generation making a U-turn.
And we didn’t even mention earthquakes.
Led Zeppelin once sang “Goin’ To California.” Phantom Planet once rhapsodized about the state. Hollywood was the place where dreams come true. Now Californians are making a mass exodus. To Arizona. Idaho. Oregon. Montana. Some are even considering, and we’ve heard this more than once, Portugal. If you hadn’t heard, Portugal is the “IT” destination for disaffected Yanks with the cash to afford becoming Euro expats.
Touch And Go
Despite socially distancing during the post-game “Notre Dame, Our Mother” sing-along last Saturday, the Fighting Irish had at least seven players test positive for the coronavirus earlier this week. Now Saturday’s game at Wake Forest has been postponed.
The good news for Irish fans? Both Notre Dame and Wake Forest have a bye on October 3rd so perhaps they’ll both just play next Saturday. The bad news, or our own forecast: this Saturday the weather in the Carolinas will probably be sublime and next week it’ll probably be like a hurricane, a la Clemson in 2015 and a la North Carolina State in 2016.
South Florida, which lost to the Irish 52-0 on Saturday, is now “pausing all football activities.” One wonders if they hadn’t paused all football activities earlier.
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.