by John Walters

Absence of Palace

No, actually, that is not an overhead shot of Dua Lipa’s set from the Glastonbury Festival last month (bizarre stage set, if it were). That’s tens of thousands of protesters in Sri Lanka, storming the presidential palace last weekend. You saw the photos, as did I, but perhaps like me you were relatively incurious as to why. Turns out a series of bad policy decisions since the advent of the pandemic has left the south Asian island nation, which sits directly below the India, broke and hungry. And that’s no way to be.

So the people in this densely populated country of 22 million have stormed the presidential palace, demanded the resignations of the prime minister and president (the former of whom has already fled the country; the latter had his home set ablaze), and taken over state radio. Our favorite things about this populist revolt is that they didn’t all tote Sri Lankan flags into the palace, did not use bear spray, and even threw an impromptu pool party a la Caddyshack or Anchorman.

Yankees Lose! Thuuuuuuuh Yankees Lose!

If you were the wagering sort, yesterday should’ve been a fantastic day to place a money line bet on baseball’s best team by far. Consider:

• The New York Yankees (61-25) were coming off two straight losses at Boston and had only lost three in a row once all season.

•The Yanks were coming off an off day.

• Staff ace Gerrit Cole was on the bump.

• The Yanks were facing the last-place Cincinnati Reds (32-54), among the worst teams they have faced all season.

And so, after eight innings, with the Yanks up 3-0, your -320 wager was looking solid. Especially with All-Star closer Clay Holmes, whose 32 1/3 scoreless innings streak earlier this season and broken Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera’s team record.

So, of course—of course!— Holmes surrenders four runs (without allowing an extra-base hit) and New York loses 4-3. If you took the Pinstripers on this one, it’s a defeat you won’t soon forget (note: we did not as we wager about once a year these days, if that).

Somewhat Fewer Than 12 Angry Men

The “profane” meeting that took place in the White House on December 18, whose number included Sidney Powell, Michael Flynn and former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne (all three of whom somehow “gained access” to the West Wing as if it’s someone’s parents were out of town) as well as a number of White House senior officials, and of course Orange Julius Caesar himself, well, this should become a David Mamet play at some point. Or an Aaron Sorkin work.

What a freaking clown show. Trump knew he lost. He always knew. He was just a presidential version of the spoiled brat he’s always been. I shot a double bogey on that hole? Gimme par. You don’t wanna screw me cuz you’re married (and you find me loathsome)? Well, I’m not taking no for an answer.

And yet, millions of people worship him. Broken people. I recall when Trump lost in November of 2020 that a good and old friend, a Trumper, told me that he’d leave the White House without causing a fuss. I laughed at that prediction and asked for a money wager. He said no. After everything happened, my friend never took the L. He sort of just let the topic drop. I’m sorry, but there’s something missing in your brain if you believed, even for a moment, that Trump would not exhaust every possibility, legal and illegal, peaceful and violent, fair and foul, to remain in the White House. And what’s funny to me is that even though the evidence of his deadly malfeasance and crimes have been laid bare, no Trumper I know is willing to stand up and say, “Yeah, I got that wrong.” But admitting you’re wrong when you’re wrong is exactly the kind of thing that a Trumper would never do. So I’m not really surprised.

Star, 80

Actor and pilot Harrison Ford, a.k.a. Han Solo or Indiana Jones or Dr. Richard Kimball, turns 80 today.


Who expects an avalanche in July? Who goes on vacation in Krygyzstan? Who can believe we actually spelled Kyrgyzstan correctly on the first try? Anyway, they lived, but more importantly, this will look so cool on their Instagram stories page.

Across The Universe

We should have posted that yesterday with our Webb Gem item, but forgot. So, enjoy.


by John Walters

Alaloha Means Goodbye

A fond adios to Lalo Salamanca (Tony Dalton), a cunning and charming cartel villain who was killed off in last night’s episode of Better Call Saul. Lolo committed the unpardonable sin of the James Bond supervillain: having your prey dead to rights, and then allowing your hubris to buy him a few extra moments, during which time he (here, Gus Fring) turns the tables on you. Let’s just say Lalo’s error had grave consequences.

We’ll miss you, Lalo, and now with only five episodes remaining in the series we wonder who’s left to conquer or kill? Lalo is dead. As is Nacho. As is Howard.

We all know that Gustavo Fring, Mike Ehrmentraut, Mike’s granddaughter, Hector Salamanca, his twin cousins and, yes, Jimmy/Saul will survive this series. So who’s the wild card? Yes, it’s Kim Wexler. Although we also know via the promos that the last few episodes may be jumping forward to the present, i.e., Omaha and the Cinnabon. Will Jimmy finally have his day of reckoning beyond Albuquerque? We believe so.

Webb Gem*

*The judges will also accept “Across The Universe” and “GalaxyQuest” and even “A Thousand Points Of Light”

We don’t know who James Webb is or whether he used the new iPhone 13 to snap this photo, but it’s supposedly the deepest anyone has ever looked into the soul of the universe. There are blips of light in this photo designating the earliest galaxies in creation, more than 13 BILLION years old. What was happening before that? Well, if time is a flat circle, maybe they were trying to decide between Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis (“Do I want the poop sandwich or the poop sandwich with all the fixins?”).

Anyway, each point of light here, we’re told, is its own galaxy. Just as our entire solar system is one part of a larger galaxy. And here’s our cute little species just trying to blast off to the nearest planet. Kind of makes you think about just how significant it is as to whether Notre Dame should join a conference.

Alone Rangers

We were watching a bit of Three Days Of The Condor (starring Robert Redford, from 1975) and it occurred to us that there were a series of films, from about 1968 to the mid-Seventies, where big-name male movie stars were pitted as singular rogues or renegades who were either pitted against the system or against a bad guy. Often, there was corruption involved at a bureaucratic level and he was taking them on. Consider all of these films, where the male protagonist goes it alone to solve a mystery or rescue himself: Bullitt (1968, Steve McQueen), The French Connection (1971, Gene Hackman), Serpico (1973, Al Pacino) Chinatown (1974, Jack Nicholson), The Conversation (1974, Hackman), Night Moves (1975, Hackman), and Marathon Man (1976, Dustin Hoffman).

There’s not a stinker in the bunch here—if you’ve never seen Night Moves, it’s like an episode of The Rockford Files but darker— and with some of the greatest male talent of the generation. So we’re wondering what was happening in the zeitgeist that inspired so many similar films? And did All The President’s Men—with a PAIR of lone rangers fighting corruption as a team—kill off the genre, or at least cool it off for awhile?


by John Walters

It’s The Guns, But Also, It’s The Guys

We step away for one week (after stepping away for nearly a year) and there’s a mass shooting in Chicago at a 4th of July parade and a former Japanese prime minister becomes the second-most famous political figure named Abe to be assassinated. And so many people cry, “It’s the guns!” And they’re right. But also? It’s the guys. If you look at the top 30 mass shootings in the history of the United States, not to mention perhaps every assassination dating back to Julius Caesar, it is always a male that is behind it (the lone exception: a husband-and-wife killing duo in Riverside, Calif., a few years back) .

Now, I’m not sure that we can outlaw men, but it is an interesting fact that no one ever seems to mention. Mental health? In a few instances, but really, it’s testosterone misdirected.

The GOPfather

Over the weekend a few pointed films (All The King’s Men) or docs (“Hitler and The Nazis,” on Newsmax, natch!) appeared on TV, interspersed with clips of the 45th president speaking in Alaska, redefining the meaning of “bully pulpit.” And it occurred to me that his ultimate nickname should be “The GOPfather.” Why? Remember when he first appeared on the political scene in 2015 and career Republican pols such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio and Lindsay Graham were describing their rival for the party nomination as a scourge. And then… what changed? He became the populist putz who rallied around all the disenfranchised white folk sick of their country being taken away from them (as opposed to black folk, who 200 years earlier were taken away from their countries).

Anyway, what you notice now is how Republican pols scurry for his blessing as they seek election or reelection. Here in Batshit Crazy, Arizona, a Trump endorsement is mentioned in every political ad if that pol has it (if that pol were truly Trumpian, he or she would simply claim they do have it even if they didn’t… let the truth catch up later). Whereas one GOP gubernatorial candidate is defamed in ads with “She Donated To Obama,” because that’ apparently a terrible thing to have done. After all, how many two-term, elected-by-the-popular-vote (without benefit of a hanging chad) presidents have we had in the past 50 years? Answer: two.

Anyway, it was particularly fascinating to check in on “Hitler and the Nazis” last night on Newsmax, an episode before he came to power, . a veritable blueprint for what Trump and the Proud Boys/Oathkeepers (see: Hitler Youth, all growed up) are doing right now. As someone tweeted this morning, “If you always wondered what you’d have done as Hitler rose to power, you’re doing it right now.” Personally, I believe the war has already begun. And out here in the desert, there’s no shortage of angry white men in pickup trucks who’d only be too happy to use their arsenal to mow down the libtards if a certain someone gave ’em the thumbs up. And who’s going to protect you? The police? Ha ha.

These are not YET dangerous times, but we edge closer to the brink. Hearings and recommendations are nice, and all, but that’s the difference between the elephant and the donkey. The former only cares about winning and has no regard for the rules. The latter seems to care more about the rules and being, what—respected?—than they actually do winning. There’s no reason why right now the justice dept. should not arrest Trump and Bannon and Stone and Flynn and hold them in jail without bond until their trial comes up. So Fox News and millions of Americans will cry “Bloody Murder!” So what? They already hate you, Joe. They’re not the people you need to win over. You never will.

Abraham Lincoln understood all this. Someone in Democratic leadership needs to do so.

A few months ago, on MSNBC (maybe the last night I tuned it), a black pundit weighed in that the Jan. 6 Committee should not seek indictments against any of the aforementioned because that would make them extremely unpopular with hard-line conservatives. And it was at least somewhat uplifting to see Roger Steele, a black man and former RNC chairman, go apoplectic on the dude (my thoughts, too, Roger) as he basically said in not so many words, “What the (bleep) is wrong with you people?!? Who CARES what they think? Why are you trying to appease people would not give two thoughts to stringing up Mike Pence and Nancy Pelosi if they could do so? Have you learned nothing from the late 1930s?”

Anyway, what was our original point? Oh yes, that Donald Trump is the GOPfather. And as long as he has this stranglehold on one political party, inducing men to abandon their integrity or values (if, in fact, they ever had any) in exchange for their own political survival or favors, the country overall is blighted. You wanna clean out the neighborhood? You take out the Mafia. You wanna clean out the country? Begin by taking out Donald Trump.

Go Midwest, Young Man?

So USC and UCLA announce that they are joining the Big Ten, and yes we consider that a colossal mistake. For many reasons: 1) travel, and not just for the football teams, but teams from L.A. do not trek to Chicago and parts east after October and win. Not even at Rutgers. Mark it down. 2) The American West is the fastest-growing part of the nation. Sure, take the B1G TV bucks now, but you are creating a vacuum in which schools such as Oregon and Washington and BYU and perhaps even ASU, if it ever gets its act together, will flourish. The Pac-X After Dark is still gonna be a thing, but now Bruin an Trojan players are just gonna hope their charter flight TVs get it as they’re flying home over Nebraska.

How To Talk To Fox News

Here’s Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg giving it to hair-dye guy on Fox News on Sunday morning. Notice how, without raising his voice or having a vein bulge in his neck—calm is his superpower—Secretary Pete continues speaking and does not allow the host to interrupt him. Honestly, he should be the Dems’ presidential candidate in 2024. And here’s a female representative in Pennsylvania, Joanna McClinton, providing a lesson on how to speak to Republican pols:

In A State of Denali

We were only too happy to add Denali to our list of national parks visited and Alaska to the list of states trod upon last week. It’s a park that is the definition of wilderness, as most of its SIX MILLION acres are not reachable by vehicle. That’s okay, because you can still see North America’s tallest peak (20,320 feet) from up to 100 miles away on a clear day. And we were lucky to have a few of those.

Yes, I visited Alaska the same week as Trump. Only a coincidence, we assure you.

What stands out, to me, about Alaska, is how much better the Earth looks in places where man has not encroached upon it. The Last Frontier is a magnificent sight to behold, particularly in those numerous spots that look untouched since the dawn of time. No, I did not see a bear or moose in the wild. Maybe next time. If you’re scoring at home, that’s all 50 states and all seven continents visited. Next up, Mars, I guess. A list of A__________a spots visited or lived in over the course of the years: Arizona, Alabama, Atlanta, Australia, Antarctica, Africa. Ideas, people? What have I missed?


by John Walters

June Swoon (Dating Back To New Year’s)

It’s July 1st. Thus endest the worst month the stock market has experienced since 1970. That’s 52 years. And the past six months have been horrible. It’s funny (and scary) how the market seemed to peak right at New Year’s before beginning its inexorable decline. But things still seemed sane until late March. Oh, a dip here and there, but nothing too crazy. Then April happened. And May. And, finally, with a shudder, June. A look at a few major companies’ declines over the year’s first half:

Company January 1st June 1st July 1st

AAPL $183 $151 $136

TSLA $1,118 $775 $673

DIS $158 $110 $95

And on and on and on. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. China’s shutdown. Inflation (or, if you’re cool, “stagflation”), primarily due to the invasion of Ukraine. Folks, it cannot get much worse. If you were caught blindsided, well, my condolences. No advice here, other than to say the good news is that there are plenty of jobs available. Almost any place I visit lately I hear that they are “under-staffed” and just last night a 22-year employee of Basha’s told me “nobody wants to work any more.” That’s only half-right. The correct statement is “Nobody wants to work at that salary.” Oh, an undocumented/illegal immigrant might, but that’s about it.

What goes up must come down. And, almost always (thanks, Lehman Brothers), what comes down and eventually goes back up. Stay the course. Courage. Or, as William Wallace once exhorted his men, “Hoooooold!”

Flight On!

Effective in 2024, UCLA and USC will be leaving the Pac-12, America’s glamour conference, for the Big Ten. Why? Because FOOTBALL IS KING and the schools’ leadership did not want to be left behind by what they see transpiring with the SEC and Big Ten TV contracts. So now you’ll see UCLA’s baseball and swim teams venturing to Madison or College Park for games/meets simply to sate KING FOOTBALL? I guess so.

It’s sad and wrong and what’s no better is the muted response from national college football media. Hey, will this affect my boondoggle trip to Scottsdale in May for Pac-12 meetings? No? Okay. From the little I’ve seen written thus far, the overall reaction is a sanguine tone. Oh, this is happening, it’s inevitable, just role with it. Thanks, Maggie Haberman.

But we digress. College football is healthiest as a regional and parochial sport. That’s part of its fabric, its culture, its identity. But the suits at ESPN and Fox simply do not care. They believe that they can make any alteration they please and the FOOTBALL IS KING is so robust that it can survive it. It reminds me of when U2 released Pop and Bono and the gang had a rude awakening. So shattered were they by the reaction that they came out the next time with arguably their best album, All That You Can’t Leave Behind. The boys from Dublin got back, got back, got back to where they once belonged. College football will experience that day of reckoning soon. Even if national college football writers are, to this moment, slow to decry the apostasy of the game’s guardians.

Maybe when they stage the UCLA-USC game at Met-Life Stadium in 2026 people will finally realize…

It’s The Hard That Makes It Great

Happy 30th birthday to A League Of Their Own, which was released on July 1st, 1992. At the time Madonna was arguably the world’s biggest pop phenomenon (when MTV and such titles still mattered) and this film was seen as another effort (see: Dick Tracy) to turn her into a bonafide movie star. Instead, it proved that A) Madonna would not be but that B) Tom Hanks would be. You’ve got to remember, in 1992, Tom Hanks was not yet Tom Hanks. Sure, he’d had major hits such as Splash and Big, but he was also two years removed from A Bonfire of the Vanities (a career-killer of a film for almost everyone involved) and had yet to bounce back. His future was still unwritten.

The film was promoted as a Madonna vehicle, or as Madonna-and-Rosie O’Donnell are the new Crosby and Hope, Martin and Lewis. Fortunately, director Penny Marshall understood that she had a dynamite script and a couple of true pros in Hanks and Geena Davis. All credit to Lowell Ganz, whose screenplay crackles. From the lines you remember—”There’s no crying in baseball” and “It’s the hard that makes it great”— to the ones you maybe forgot (“Ever been married?” “Twice.” “Any children?” “One of them was.”).

Even better, the film eschews the Hollywood ending. I didn’t enter the theater that day expecting to like this film. Instead, I loved it. And came away with a whole new appreciation for Hanks, who—watch it again— performs as if his entire future depends on it. Which it does. He really is Jimmy Dugan, which is perhaps why he embraced the character so fully. Up next? In quick succession, Forrest Gump, Philadelphia (vomit, but okay), and Saving Private Ryan. I don’t know if all of those triumphs happen without this movie… the one he truly deserved a Best Actor for.


postscript: We’re going on a little trip, and will be radio silent for at least a week. It’s really not the best time for us to be traveling, with no job and a massive gut punch to the savings, but as Professor Keating once advised his students, Gather ye rosebuds while ye may. And so it’s rosebud-gathering season. We’ll be back. We think. Happy 4th. And before we go, please carry this wisdom from George Carlin with you….