IT’S SOMEWHAT HAPPENING!*

by John Walters

*MH staff is back today, but tomorrow never knows.

To Boldly Go*

*The judges, back from their Tongan sabbatical, will also accept “2021: A Space Odyssey”

William Shatner, a.k.a. Captain James T. Kirk of the U.S.S. Enterprise, becomes, at the age of 90, the oldest human ever to travel to outer space. Oldest living human, that is. Upon his return Shatner sounded like a trippy-dippy lyric from a late Sixties Crosby, Stills & Nash or Joni Mitchell song.

Shatner likened the atmosphere to a “comforter of blue” wrapped around the planet. Launching through it, it’s suddenly ripped off, “and you’re looking into blackness,” he recalled, “and you look down ― and there’s blue down there, and the black up there, and it’s just … it’s just … there is mother and Earth and comfort, and there … is there death?”

“I’m so filled with emotion about what just happened. It’s extraordinary,” Shatner said. “I hope I never recover from this. I hope I can maintain what I feel now.”

“It has to do with the enormity and the quickness and the suddenness of life and death and the … oh, my God,” he continued, burying his face in his hands.

“The moment you see the vulnerability of everything. It’s so small. This air which is keeping us alive is thinner than your skin. It’s a sliver, it’s immeasurably small when you think in terms of the universe.”

“Is that death? Is that the way death is?” he pondered. “WHAP and it’s gone. Jesus.”

You have to respect the humility and sincerity behind those words. Well, you don’t have to, but we do.

Vocal Hero

This is Los Angeles Charger coach Brandon Staley, whom we knew nothing about before yesterday. Now we are fans:

Robin, The Joker

We don’t know how this made the internet, if it’s a trailer for a biopic on Robin Williams or what, but wow, the impersonation here by Jamie Costa is pure genius. Which it absolutely had to be, since he is portraying a pure genius. Notice how the littlest mannerisms, even the smirk after he makes the fart joke, or perfectly tailored to the lat Robin Williams.

The Cain Mutiny

We remember covering Mary Cain when she was a 4.0 high school student in Bronxville (a very tony area above the Bronx), N.Y., and setting national prep records in middle-distance racing. Then, inexplicably to us, this incredible scholar-athlete chose not to compete collegiately but rather to turn pro, put herself in the hands of Alberto Salazar and the Oregon Project, and move to Portland. The cross-country prodigy moved cross-country but without the support system that a college atmosphere would provide.

At the age of 18, Mary Cain basically had a full-time job as a runner and was going to college on the side. While being 3,000 miles from home. It was a really dumb choice (and you have to imagine her parents were on-board with this), and not surprisingly, it all flamed out. And quickly.

Cain never made it past Olympic Trials and never, of course, ran an NCAA race (as she was a pro). Now she’s suing Salazar for $20 million.

Cain is 25 now and the former pre-med, at least from what we can see, has not attended medical school. It’s a sad story.

What Ever Happened To ‘Shut Up And Dribble’?

Some interesting allies have put themselves in Kyrie Irving’s camp…

…. while Rich Eisen injects some common sense into the story:

VICTORY

by John Walters

It’s a seven-letter word that begins with the letter “V” and it has inspired plenty of talk about “a personal decision” and “sacrificing individual needs for national welfare.” It’s a polarizing word:

Vietnam

That’s right, Vietnam. What did you think I was talking about?

Imagine, if you will, a national crisis of sorts.

It is deemed good for American welfare if you soldier up and head over to the Mekong Delta and the thick jungles north of Saigon. This act of sacrifice for your country may very well cost you your life… but you must do it. Your country needs you.

But it’s a personal decision, you say. First of all, you don’t even know where Vietnam is. And you don’t have any reason, personally, to fight anyone from Vietnam. And they’re not even attacking our country. Our country is under no direct threat from Vietnam. And you want me to risk my life for this?

Yes

Yes, you must.

And what if I refuse? Will I lose my job?

Yes, probably, because we are going to imprison you.

But it’s a personal decision.

Uncle Sam does not see it that way.

*****

Nearly 60 years ago, communism and not Covid was deemed the existential threat (never mind that both emanated from Asia). And those who dared to refuse induction into the armed services were incarcerated while also labeled yellow.

Now here’s the big reveal: 1) The fate of Vietnam never directly impacted the national welfare of the United States and 2) Over the course of roughly a dozen years, some 68,000 Americans were killed in Vietnam.

Fast forward to 2021. Now, the national welfare of the United States is not terribly at risk due to Covid-19, but more than ten times as many Americans have died from it than died in Vietnam… in about 1/8 the time.

So it begs the question… why is something that has proven so much more deadly in so much less time allowed to flourish here on the basis that fighting it would compromise one’s freedom, and yet something that was so minor an existential threat to the U.S., relatively, treated as such a great crisis that not only were you forced to put yourself in far greater peril but that you were not even allowed the option of “it’s a personal decision?”

Why is the Vaccine so much more reviled than Vietnam (by a certain section of our nation)?

I think we know the answer… these people worship warfare and are intimidated by science. The former is easily explicable, even attractive, to them. The latter intimidates them.

The simple truth is that Vietnam was one-tenth as deadly as the pandemic and yet no man of draftable age was given the “it’s a personal decision” option. Because the war machine needs fuel to operate.

You’re praised for saying no to a needle. You’re pilloried for saying no to a machine gun.

This is America.

Where Have You Gone, Matt Amodio?

by John Walters

After 39 episodes and a little more than $1.5 million in winnings, Yale PhD student Matt Amodio at last succumbed to mediocrity. Amodio, 28, who regularly piled up per-game winnings of $50,000 and for whom Final Jeopardy! was normally little more than an exercise in seeing what total he wanted to shoot for, headed into Final Jeopardy! last night in third place.

The question: What country did the Nazis take over in World War II, and then, with parts including the Danube and the Alps, did the Allies divide into four sectors? Even if you did now know the answer, you’d be likely to guess Austria or Hungary, right? Amodio guessed Poland. The other two contestants correctly chose Austria.

Amodio looked defeated but in a sense almost relieved.

It must be a weird sensation, to win between $30,000 and $88,000 (his top one-day output) per show but after a month or so to just be so tired of having to live in a hotel and to have simply put your real life on hold.

A note: Amodio’s run nearly ended when it was still in the teens. He led by less than double his next-closest competitor and Final Jeopardy!, with the topic being ” ’80s Movies,” referenced a dip that was used to erase characters. Amodio did not know that the correct answer was “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” but, fortunately for him, nether did the woman in second place.

Amodio was dethroned by an actor, also in his twenties, who had the good fortune in Double Jeopardy! to hit two daily doubles in a row. He missed the first, but nailed the second. That’s usually where Amodio distances himself from the pack, finding the daily doubles in the second round. All good things must come to an end. Now what does a PhD student with $1.5 million (before taxes) in his back pocket due for motivation to finish his doctoral thesis?

THE GANGSTA BOWL

by John Walters

Last night No. 15 Coastal Carolina whipped Arkansas State in Jonesboro, 52-20, to improve to 6-0. The Chanticleers already had the lowest MH number (Scoring Defense ranking + Scoring Offense ranking… the lower the number, the better the team) in the nation before last night’s game.

Tonight Cincinnati, fresh off last Saturday’s win at Notre Dame, hosts Temple. The Bearcats are 4-0 and ranked No. 5 in the nation. They’re garnering way more love on national sports radio to break the four-team playoff glass ceiling than Coastal is.

Let’s jump to the future and assume (a large assumption, albeit) that both Group of Five schools remain unbeaten the rest of the way. In December each would play in its conference championship game (the Sun Belt and the American Athletic, respectively) against a foe that may not be ranked.

And we have not even broached the topic of G5 unbeatens UTSA, SMU (who’ll play Cincy) and BYU (who won’t have a conference game). In short, those conference title games will not move the needle much for Coastal or Cincy as far as the selection committee is concerned.

We have a better idea.

The Gangsta Bowl

Before we share this latest lame-brained idea, a point of agreement: there are no steadfast rules in college football. You cannot blow up the BCS! Until you do. Oklahoma and Texas can’t just secede to the SEC! Until they do. Players cannot transfer without sitting out a year! Until they can. Or be paid for their name, image and likeness! Until D.J. Uiagalelei shows up in a Fansville ad. BYU and Coastal Carolina just cannot schedule a game in the middle of a season! Until they did.

Anarchy is okay in college football. As long as someone is getting paid. Paging Dr. Weknowdis.

Thus, we present the Group of 5 Bowl, or Gangsta Bowl (Nuthin’ But A G Thang). If, after 12 games, two Group of 5 schools (e.g., Cincinnati and Coastal Carolina) are still undefeated, do not waste their and everyone else’s time with conference championship games that will do little to improve either school’s Playoff stock. Instead, in the words of Dennis Green, “crown their ass” in terms of conference titles and arrange for them to play in the Gangsta Bowl. 

The Gangsta Bowl would draw more viewers than the two conference championship games combined. The Gangsta Bowl would put a better “W” on the victorious team’s resume—and compel the selection committee to deal with it. The Gangsta Bowl would elevate all Group of 5 programs because it would enhance the chances of the winning side making the playoff.

You wanna chirp at the selection committee and Power 5 programs for maintaining a glass ceiling? Fine. But here’s an idea that would challenge Group of 5 conferences to obliterate their own self-imposed glass ceiling. 

The Gangsta Bowl. Ready to make an entrance, so back on up/Cuz you know we’re ‘bout to rip sh*t up.

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