IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Novax Is Bax

Another match, this time a semi, another straight sets win for Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open. The oft-surly Serbian is into the final after a 7-5, 6-1, 6-2 washing of Yank Tommy Paul earlier today. In six matches thus far the Djoker has lost all of one set—he’s won 18 of 19— and that was a 7-5 (7-6) tug-of-war versus unheralded Enzo Couacaud (I’d like to buy vowel). He’s doing all of this at age 35 with a strained hammy.

You could’ve gotten +180 odds on the Djoker to win the tourney a week ago after he strained his hammy during a match. At the time it seemed 50/50 if he’d bow out of the tourney. But Djoker knows that the Aussie is for him tantamount to Rafael Nadal’s ownership of the French: he’s won eight of the past 12 tourneys there and it might be nine if he had not been sent out back from Down Under last January for refusing to be vaxxed.

So here he is, just a championship match against Stefan Tsitsipas from tying Rafael Nadal with 22 men’s singles grand slam wins. We are witnessing history here, tennis fans. A trio such as Roger Federer, Nadal and the Djoker will not be seen again in our lifetimes. I feel pretty confident saying that. The idea that the three winningest men in tennis history were each other’s contemporaries speaks volumes as to just how far ahead of everyone else they have been.

Extreme Stupidity From Opposite Extremes

Here’s first-ballot Batshit Crazy Hall of Famer/ex-Major Leaguer Aubrey Huff intimating that there’s something scandalous about the fact that Buffalo Bill defensive back Damar Hamlin (the Immaculate Resuscitation!) has made no public appearances since his brush with death three weeks ago. We already knew that Huff was a birther; turns out that he’s also a deather.

But the stupidity is not limited to the far right. Here’s the AP Stylebook ruling from on high (it’s not quite Pope Francis proclaiming that homosexuality is not a crime, but it’s up there) that using “the” before a group of people (e.g., “the French”, “the Russians”) is offensive. Last we checked, their organization is referred to as “the Associated Press.” Did they just cancel themselves?

Oh, and by the way, Nikki Haley, “you must be a citizen to vote” is not a bold or polarizing stance. Everyone I know agrees. To put it out this way as if only the GOP owns this belief is ridiculous.

My Levito/A Mosquito

America’s new “It” girl in figure skating is 15 year-old Isabeau Levito from Mount Holly, N.J. Levito, who has never failed to reach the podium in any event in the past six years, was not in Beijing last winter, but look for her to be a medal favorite in Italy in 2026. The 2022 Junior World Champion is currently competing in the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in San Jose this weekend.

Duel vs Jaws

Two nights ago TCM aired the 1971 film, Duel, which was released as a TV movie on ABC back when that was a big deal. It is noteworthy and I stayed up to watch it because it was Steven Spielberg’s first feature-length film. Widely praised and ahead of its time, Duel is basically Mad Max: Fury Road without ever supplying a valid reason as to why our protagonist is on a road-rage fight for his life almost throughout.

As I watched it, though, what hit me is how often Spielberg would later plagiarize from his debut while shooting his magnum opus, the similarly four-lettered movie Jaws, only four years later. The tanker truck becomes the shark, and Dennis Weaver’s mid-level businessman becomes Chief Brody. There’s an early scene, shot from the passenger seat of Weaver’s red Plymouth Dart, looking toward the driver. It’s a tight shot and suddenly we see the truck whiz past. It’s like that scene in Jaws when Brody is shoveling chum and the shark makes its grand entrance.

The climactic scene involves Weaver going for broke, driving his car directly at the truck, a life-or-death jousting match. The ensuing collision will result in an explosion and a slo-mo shot of all the carnage that ensues as our hero narrowly survives. Sounds like any movie you know?

I was a little surprised that our host, Ben Mankiewicz, never mentioned this. Also, having not seen The Fabelmans, is that how this film ends as well?

And Finally…

Pardon me for being coy here. This is, admittedly, not the paragon of professionalism but I have another full-time job these days totally unrelated to journalism, so I’m just posting this for the receipt at a later date.

Last fall I wrote a story for SI titled “Open Season” that was universally ignored by my pals in the media on Twitter. That’s okay. I may have whined about it then. I definitely did.

So why am I back on this topic? Folks in the Phoenix area may soon be hearing about a murder that took place this month in which a player from that Chaparral freshman football team is one of four teens charged. It’s obviously a tragedy: the victim was a completely innocent teenage girl. But, it’s also the first dent in the plan of Chaparral’s athletic department, its booster club and a few Chaparral dads to rule the Open Division for the next three years. Which was possible and may still be.

The legendary golf writer Dan Jenkins once opined, like 20 years ago, that the only thing that could prevent Tiger Woods from obliterating Jack Nicklaus’ record was women. It was a flippant comment (and obviously the fairer sex is not to blame; Tiger is) but accurate. Those who follow Chaparral, myself included, have always thought that the only thing that could beat the Firebirds was life away from football.

Finally, I don’t want to paint with a broad brush. First, details of the incident are still forthcoming (the young man in question was most likely simply in the wrong place at the wrong time and not the shooter). Second, the young men I know best on that team are good students with their heads and hearts firmly in the right place. They’re dedicated and motivated.

You should be hearing more soon.

DOLLAR QUIZ

  1. What NFL franchise has the highest regular-season winning percentage?
  2. Name the previous two cities that the Los Angeles Clippers called home.
  3. In what present-day U.S. state did the Meadows Massacre take place?
  4. What was the Wright Brothers’ primary job before their interest in flight took over?
  5. Provide one factual item about the longest MLB game, in terms of innings, ever played: number of innings, who won, who played, year it took place, etc.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Answers from Friday’s Dollar Quiz:

  1. What were the first names of Lewis & Clark? Meriwether Lewis and William Clark
  2. Air Supply had eight Top 5 hits. The Little River Band had nine Top 20 hits. Name one member of either Australian band (I can not, off the top of my head). Air Supply: Russell Hitchcock and Graham Russell (why didn’t they call themselves Graham Russell Hitchcock?!? Massive Fail; LRB: Glenn Shorrock, lead vocals: Beeb Birtles, lead guitar. LRB have had 30 members since inception and we don’t have the time)
  3. The ’85 Chicago Bears lost one regular season game. Who beat them and in what venue? Miami Dolphins, Orange Bowl, on Monday Night Football.
  4. Who is the NBA’s all-time scoring leader among left-handed players? James Harden
  5. What actual historic event is the springboard for all of the shenanigans in the 1959 classic Some Like It Hot? St. Valentine’s Day Massacre

Did We Watch/Listen To The Same Game?

In the wake of San Francisco’s 19-12 victory over Dallas in the divisional playoffs, Twitter seemed overly obsesses with two items from that game:

A) the final play, and

B) Greg Olsen’s work in the booth for Fox

Neither of which made any sense to me.

Olsen, in his rookie season as a color commentator, was roundly hailed as the greatest thing since Tony Romo (who was rightly crushed for his piss-poor job in the Bengals-Bills game…maybe he was suffering from stage-frost…but hey, Tony, you’ll never have to return the money, will you?). Don Van Natta of ESPn fame even went out of his way to toss bouquets Olsen’s way on the Tweet Deck. And he was far from the only one.

I like Olsen just fine. The former Pro Bowl tight end brings good energy and he genuinely seems to care. But, in the fourth quarter alone, here are some of the questionable plays/decisions he failed to comment on. Again, it’s not that he had the wrong take, in my opinion. He had ZERO take. And that’s his job:

  1. KaVontae Turpin’s kickoff return: Dallas trailed 16-12, I believe, when Turpin fielded San Fran’s kickoff to the left of the left hash mark. It looked as if the return was set up that way, but the speedster made a bold cut to his right and raced upfield untouched in the center of the field. Only two 49ers stood between he and paydirt (one of them the kicker) and the two tacklers were bunched near one another. If Turpin cuts right or sharply left he is gone. Touchdown. Instead—and sure, it’s easy for me to say, this was a split-second thing—Turpin runs directly into them. They didn’t tackle him as much as they did get in his way. The return was still very good, giving Dallas field position near their own 40-45, but it should have been six. Olsen and Burkhardt never opined on this; they simply noted that it was a fantastic return.
  2. Mike McCarthy’s decision to punt on 4th-and-10 or so with 2:34 left in the game. The Cowboys trail 19-12 and are backed up behind their own 20, so if the play fails, the season’s pretty much over. But by kicking it away, you take the chance that you’ll not get another offensive play the rest of the season. Yes, you have three timeouts plus the two-minute warning, but this is a decision that merits cost-benefit analysis. Olsen provided none. Props to he and Burkhardt for noting that Dallas dithered away at least 20-25 precious seconds deciding what to do, but the moment called for Olsen at least suggesting that Dallas does not HAVE to punt here. Maybe fortune favors the bold.
  3. Dallas ultimately does receive one more chance as San Fran punts from midfield. Dallas’ returner calls for a fair catch AT THE SIX-YARD LINE. What are you doing??? Let the ball bounce and maybe it heads to the end zone. If it does not, given the situation, is it really that much worse if San Fran downs it at your two. Either catch the ball and take off or let it go. As a punt returner you must know where you are standing on the field and, in that critical moment, the consequences of your actions. Why are you fair-catching a ball at the six-yard line when your team has no timeouts and a little more than 30 seconds to play??? Olsen never mentions it.
  4. Dallas’ final play. Yes, it looked silly in terms of its result, but here’s the point that Olsen missed aas did everyone I saw on Twitter. There were still :06 on the clock. All you need to do to get a second play is to get out of bounds with :01. Two plays in six seconds if you can run the first in five (doable) and get out of bounds. Yes, Dalton Schultze had erred on the previous play and, yes, it was all a long shot at this point, but given all of that, the smarter thing to do here is to try and get 15-20 yards on a sideline route before attempting a final play. If you can advance the ball to the 45 or 50, Dak Prescott can uncork one to the goal line or damn near close. Understand that in the fog of war with no timeouts that Dallas panicked and failed to register all of this, but this is why coaches are paid so well. It’s also why No. 1 analysts are paid so well. Olsen failed to suggest this. To suggest that with :06 Dallas still has time to call two plays and that they should not be resorting to this gadget play at this moment. Or at least that it’s not their only option. He never mentioned it, insted keying on the bizarre formation. Noteworthy, but not the only point to be made in that moment.

I’d like to be the Czar of Sports Television now, please. Thank you.

Steve Hartman Just Feels Genuine

I’ve been quite taken with the pieces that Steve Hartman has been filing for CBS Sunday Morning lately. I don’t know anything about Hartman, but just since Christmas he’s delivered three bangers: about the white man in Colorado who bought a piano for a gifted African immigrant boy who displayed virtuouso skills before even taking a lesson; about the class in Minnesota that raised $300,000 so that its physically handicapped classmates could have playground equipment that fit their needs; and here, about Josiah Johnson, the Kentucky middle-schooler who made his basketball team despite having been born with no legs.

I have no way to prove it, and this may obviously be a product of my own bias, but when I watch Hartman’s pieces, they feel genuinely wrought. Unlike when I watch any Tom Rinaldi piece on ESPN or, now, Fox. I’ve always felt that Rinaldi’s pieces are about manipulating the audience’s emotion and that deep down Rinaldi only cares about that. Whereas I feel that Hartman genuinely feels what he is saying when he speaks to these kids.

Can I prove this? No. Am I being unfair to Rinaldi and giving Hartman too much credit? Your call. But if I were at TV executive, I’d know whom to keep and whom to let go. Because that would matter to me more than audience share. Which is why I’m not a TV executive.

Load Management or Road Management

In this, the Year of Our Lord 2023, the NBA is experiencing an epidemic of players sitting out games who are not particularly injured or even ill (hung over, maybe; but not sick). It’s called “load management” and it’s the latest issue (the other being traveling) that’s creating a chasm between Boomer NBA fans and Millennial NBA fans.

Steve Kerr, who’s more of a boomer by age, recently apologized that his Hall of Fame backcourt of Steph and Klay sat out the team’s only game in Cleveland this season (payback for the Cavs coming back from down 3-1 in 2016, maybe?) due to load management issues. Kerr actually suggested a 72-game regular season, which is comical. Would he like taking a 12% pay cut also with cutting out 12% of the regular season?

Yo, we get it. The NBA postseason is all that really matters and with the league expanding the number of teams that make it (20 of the NBA’s 30 teams will qualify for at least one knockout game), it’s understandable why you’d rest your stars in January. The Phoenix Suns, for example, are forging a much stronger squad by taking their L’s now and giving their backups meaningful minutes. Now when the Suns have even three starters in the lineup they seem invincible (last week Phoenix was missing seven of its top eight players–only Mykal Bridges is indestructible—and it was not a pretty sight; none of those missing seven were seriously hurt; now Phoenix has THREE starters back and they’ve won four in a row, often putting up 25-point leads against the likes of Brooklyn and Memphis; they won by 31 last night versus Charlotte… minus two of their three All-Star quality starters).

On the other hand, NBA travel is cushier than ever. Private jets. Four Seasons suites. Teams back in the day of Larry and Magic still flew commercial and the level of physical therapy was nowhere near where it is today (then again, maybe that’s why Bird did not last as long as LeBron will).

Well, instead of arguing both sides of this situation, we’re proposing a situation. Occasional NBA Jamboree weekends: Four teams, five days, one venue. Each team plays three games over a four-day period, but they never leave the town or hotel. No travel. Kind of like the Bubble situation in Orlando during the summer of ’20. An example:

Everyone meets in Phoenix.

Friday: Lakers-Suns, Clippers-Warriors

Saturday: Lakers-Warriors

Sunday: Clippers-Suns

Monday: Lakers-Clippers, Suns-Warriors

No one plays more than a back-to-back, but everyone gets three games in four days. No one boards a plane (If you do not know the rules, NBA teams must attempt to be in the city they play in on, say, a Monday, by leaving on Sunday night…so no matter how later your game ends, you cannot sleep in that city, wake up, and board a flight the next morning if you’re playing back to backs; you’ve got to board that plane sometimes close to midnight and then maybe not arrive in your hotel room before 4 a.m. for a game that you’ll play that same night).

I love this idea, even if it is mine. What say you? The four teams can either split the gage or rotate to all four venues since they all must play one another four times in the season. Not only do you knock out more games in less time with no travel, but that frees up more days the rest of the season for other travel games. Your thoughts?

Dollar Quiz

  1. Who was the last U.S. president to not even attend college (hint: he’d later become a lawyer, as the standards were different then)?
  2. What was the largest denomination U.S. bill that was ever actually in circulation (I’ll throw you an extra dollar if you knew whose face was on it)?
  3. What are the three rivers that are associated with Three Rivers Stadium (which no longer exists)?
  4. What was unique about the Oakland Raiders’ center during the team’s 1970 hey day?
  5. Put these three in order of when they became independent countries, as they remain today: Mexico, Poland, USA.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

R.I.P., David Crosby

Farewell to one of the giants of rock and roll’s primordial era, David Crosby, who passed yesterday at the age of 81. Crosby sang harmony on “Turn Turn Turn” with The Byrds and on “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” “Carry On,” and “Southern Cross”* with Crosby, Stills & Nash. He played Woodstock.

This is more than FORTY YEARS after the song was released. Still smokin’.

Crosby spent years in addiction, then in recovery. With that crazy mustache, mischievous grin and schlubby bod, he almost came off as the most approachable of rock legends. Asked in the outstanding 2018 documentary “Echo In The Canyon” why CSN&Y broke up, he was blunt and funny. “Because I was an asshole,” he told Jakob Dylan.

A wonderful soul. A ground-floor member of rock and roll history.

*A quick word on “Southern Cross,” which I recommend anyone listen to again. It was released in 1982 and never cracked the Top 15. A shame. But that was peak New Wave era and also hair metal was just taking hold and of course, the MTV. A band like CSN seemed like a hopeless anachronism at the time. It was simply not appreciated at the time.

Dollar Quiz

  1. What were the first names of Lewis & Clark?
  2. Air Supply had eight Top 5 hits. The Little River Band had nine Top 20 hits. Name one member of either Australian band (I can not, off the top of my head).
  3. The ’85 Chicago Bears lost one regular season game. Who beat them and in what venue?
  4. Who is the NBA’s all-time scoring leader among left-handed players?
  5. What actual historic event is the springboard for all of the shenanigans in the 1959 classic Some Like It Hot?

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Two months from now, she’s going to look five years younger (take it from someone who had to wake up at 4:45 a.m. four times a week this time last year for 7:30 a.m. classses and yet was still scolded by his dean for not appreciating all the hardships his students underwent)

Kicking The Hobbit

New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Arden announces that she is resigning, leaving Finland’s Sanna Martin as the undisputed most attractive world leader (or Justin Trudeau, if you like). Arden, 42, who is married with one child, really seems to want to spend time with her family. Without a scandal precipitating said decision. If only more leaders would leave before we had to carry them out the door, Joe Paterno/Bill Belichick/Last two presidents/Al Michaels yada yada yada.

R.I.P. Chris Ford

This photo a reminder that the Nets desperately need to bring these unis back

Farewell to the first player in NBA history to make a three-point shot (of course, hundreds had done it in the ABA years before). Chris Ford, who just turned 74 a week ago, has passed. He connected on his three on Oct. 12, 1979, a 114-107 home win versus the Houston Rockets. Boston’s other shot heard ’round the world.

That game was probably just as memorable for being Larry Bird’s NBA debut. Ford was the most unlikely looking starter on Larry Bird’s rookie year Celtics team. The other three besides those two were Nate Archibald (a former league scoring champ, despite standing about 6’0″), Cedric Maxwell and Dave Cowens (a former league MVP).

Anyway, Ford, a scrappy 6’5″ guard out of Villanova, would lead the Celtics with 70 threes that season, the league’s first with the new arc (Brian Taylor of the San Diego Clippers would lead the league with 90). He’d play two more years with the Celtics, winning one NBA championship, before retiring. Oddly Ford played seven seasons with the Pistons and never started a game. Then he joined the Larry Bird Celtics and started about 75% of the time his final three seasons. Cue “Crafty Veteran” montage.

Ruud Awakening

For the second time in as many days a top 1 or 2 seed at the Australian Open loses to an unheralded American. First time the top two seeds at the Aussie Open are out this early since 2002. Last night it was No. 2 seed Casper Ruud, who lost to some snowboarder named Jensen Brooksby (c’mon, that moniker totally screams “Snowboarder!”). At least Ruud won one set, unlike No. 1 seed Rafael Nadal the previous night.

Meanwhile, Novak Djokovic won his 23rd consecutive match in Melbourne, though he’s now nursing a tender hamstring. Ten bucks says that if Djokovic were vaxxed, Clay Travis would be blaming his tender hammy on Dr. Fauci.

Dollar Quiz

  1. One president, born in the United States, grew up not speaking English as a first language. Name either the president or the language he spoke.
  2. What FBS school has never sent a team to the NCAA men’s basketball tournament?
  3. There are at least three popular songs that mention a city in Arizona. Name the three cities, and then either the song or artist or both.
  4. True/False: Texas is larger than France.
  5. Connect Sir Laurence Olivier and Bill Murray in two movies (“X appeared in FILM1 with Y, who appeared in FILM2 with Z”).

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Down Underwhelming

Rafael Nadal, arguably the greatest men’s tennis player in history (his number of Grand Slam singles titles backs this claim up… for now) falls in straight sets to unseeded Yank MacKenzie McDonald in the second round of the Australian Open. The Spaniard, hampered by a barking hip and his age, 36, was the defending champion (Novak Djokovic was vaxxed out of the tourney the past two years). “It’s a tough moment. It’s a tough day,” the top-seeded Nadal said. “I can’t say that I am not destroyed mentally at this moment, because I would be lying.”

Nadal remains at 22 Grand Slam titles. Djokovic, the heavy favorite to win, has 21. Djokovic is 35.

Nadal is now 1-3 in matches in 2023.

MIMAL-OL

In last night’s Final Jeopardy!, the writers hit the contestants with a question that was likely a gimme for most Americans living in flyover states. Curiously—or was it predictably— all three contestants answered incorrectly. The category was ‘Geographical Mnemonics’ and the clue is here:

Again, all three players missed. One was from Boston, the other from Canada (somewhat forgiveable) and I cannot recall where the returning champ was from. Two of the contestand guessed Louisiana and Alabama, while one guessed Louisiana and Mississippi. Then again, who am I to judge—I flamed out o Wordle this morning.

Now Tom Cruise Wants To Try It

We are old enough to remember when Used Cars was filming in Mesa, Arizona (our home address at the time) in 1979 and Phoenix was still such a small town that it was a big deal that Hollywood had come here to make a movie. But the names associated with this film: Director Robert Zemeckis and executive producer Steven Spielberg (really). Starrring Kurt Russell and Jack Warden, along with roles for Michael Mckean and David Lander (Lenny and Squiggy) and Al Lewis (Grampa from The Munsters).

Raising Arizona would not be released for another seven or eight years, but THIS movie actually captured the heart of pre-big time Arizona much more authentically. May its cult status only grow larger. With scenes like the above, how can it not?

Stocks and Bombs

As we understand it, there’s one reason you invest or “trade” in stocks: to make money. So say what you will about the integrity of the CEOs or the products or the business itself, but if you can buy a stock one day and sell it at a later date for more than you paid, then you’ve done well. To that end, we note two stocks that were in the toilet less than a month ago and have rebounded nicely (note: We own less than 2 dozen shares of the former, simply to have a little skin in the game. Little more than $100 worth):

RIOT: a blockchain technology company whose business is linked to the shady netherworld of cryptocurrency.

Dec. 28, a 52-week low: $3.25

Today: $6.63

That’s a 104% increase in just 14 trading days.

TSLA: Electric vehicle company whose product doubles as a niche accessory for the wealthy and/or progressive.

Jan. 6, a 52-week low: $101

Today: $133

That’s an almost 33% increase in just 8 trading days.

Where each goes from here, I don’t know. Just pointing out that in the market it’s often darkest before the most brilliant sunrise.

Dollar Quiz

  1. Which one of these songs is not on Pet Sounds: Good Vibrations, Wouldn’t It Be Nice, God Only Knows?
  2. Match the country with the number of land masses it has:

A) Malaysia 1. 1

B) Singapore 2. 2

C) Indonesia 3. >17,000

3. “The fault… is not in our stars, but in ourselves.” From what Shakespearian play was this taken (Extra points if you know the sitcom that used this phrase as a mantra in one episode)?

4. Who is the NFL’s all-time leader in touchdowns scored (and it isn’t close)?

5. What was the meaning of the Montreal Expos logo?

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

Why does this photo give me Lion King vibes?

Wild Wildcard Weekend

Most Convincing Winners of Wildcard Weekend: San Francisco…or Dallas? Hey, look who plays one another next weekend.

Greatest Fiasco, Game: San Diego choking away a 27-0 first half lead in Jacksonville.

Greatest Fiasco, Play: Baltimore’s QB sneak by Tyler Huntley from the 2 yard-line that went 98 yards in the opposite direction and proved to be the game-winning play (there were no offensive touchdowns in the fourth quarter of Ravens-Bengals). Was Huntley attempting to mimic Trevor Lawrence’s TD from the night before?

Greatest Fiasco, Play, II: The Dolphins being flagged for delay of game on fourth-and-one on what should have been, at worst, a game-tying drive in Buffalo.

Most Likely To Participate In The Next Insurrection: White Male Rage spokesman (and not spokesperson, you flaming lib) Joey Bosa.

The New York Giants fail to win 10 games and are suddenly a very dangerous road-wins-only postseason team. Has this ever happened before?

Actually Retiring: Freddie Gaudelli

Should Retire: Al Michaels, Tony Dungy

In Theaters Soon: 80 For Brady

Should Be In Theaters: 30 For Purdy

Most Unbelievable Performance: Brett Maher, Cowboys, shanking his first four PATs. The fourth actually struck the top of the goal post, which, if you were trying to do that, would be almost impossible.

“He’s Not A Football Player! He’s A Human Being!”: Willie Gage

Next Weekend’s Winners (prediction): Cincinnati, New York, Kansas City, San Fran

Bernie Explains Social Security

Simply put, it’s an insurance policy, not a 401-K fund.

A Woman Called Marisol

The new Tom Hanks film, A Man Called Otto, is a better film than the trailer led us to believe. It also may activate your tear ducts. The principal reason behind both assertions is actress Mariana Trevino, who plays curmudgeonly Otto’s neighbor, Mexican immigrant Marisol. Though MAGA types may spend the entire film wondering if she married her way into citizenship, that’s a waste of time. Marisol, as the translation of her name suggests, is a beam of light, representing the best values of a first-generation American (not unlike the parents or grandparents of those who now stump for Trump and have completely lost touch with the traits that their ancestors possessed upon arriving here). Marisol is wonderful; she practically steals the movie from Hanks.

There is a scene, late in the film, in which Marisol receives some news about Otto’s medical condition. When you, the audience member, hear it, you can appreciate the irony. You just wonder how Marisol will react to it. Her reaction is golden. That scene alone is worth the price of admission.

Dollar Quiz

  1. What percentage of the Earth’s surface area (land and sea) does the U.S.A. make up (within 1%)?
  2. Where was the last NFL Championship Game (i.e., pre-Super Bowl era) played?
  3. Name at least four bands whose name includes a body part.
  4. What is the name of the film that Red is watching when Andy approaches him in The Shawshank Redemption?
  5. Who is the last MLB pitcher to win 23 or more games in one season?

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Wait For It

This joke is worth it, even if it takes a moment to adjust to this man’s accent. My favorite part is that as soon as he says, “While the government is sleeping…” you know the rest of the punchline.

Winner! Winner! No One’s Dinner

When this little buddy returned to the herd, his “You’re not gonna believe what just happened to me” story is gonna be good.

Why Do People Make Sports Lists On Twitter

Yesterday a local sports journalist here posted his 15 Greatest NFL Quarterbacks list without naming Fran Tarkenton or Roger Staubach. I’m obviously a prisoner of my youth but how do you have neither of those two among the Top 15? They only Seventies QB he included was Terry Bradshaw. Augh. Even Dan Fouts might crack the Top 15. Or Kenny Stabler. We’re all entitled to our opinion and there are no egregiously bad picks here, but the league changed after Bill Walsh became a head coach and you cannot use yesteryear’s stats versus today’s to assess QBs.

Of course, that take pales in comparison to this one:

I loved Todd Gurley, as you may recall a plethora of Gurley Man references back in the day, but Herschel Walker was the best college running back I ever saw. To be listed No. 3 at his own school?!?

Mama Se Mama Sa Mamakossa

DOLLAR QUIZ

1-5: Name a song title and artist for at least five different days of the week. The title needs the day in it but can also, of course, include other words.

6. Who holds the NFL record for rushing yards per game in a single season?
7. Name a state whose borders have no straight lines.

8. How many companies comprise the Dow Jones Industrial Average?

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Kable Town!

How often have you had this conversation the past five or so years, because I’ve had it on a loop:

THEM: “Have you seen ____________?
ME: “No. What service carries it?”

THEM “It’s on Hulu. Or Amazon Prime. Or Apple TV. Or Disney-Plus. Or HBO Max. Or Showtime. Or Netflix. You HAVE to see it.”*

ME: “Thanks. I’ll pass.”

*For the record, no one ever says Paramount.

I’ve never seen Billions, not because I don’t believe its fans who tell me it’s a great show and that I’d love it but because I’m not worth billions. At a certain point isn’t there a line where you opt to not cross in terms of how many services you’ll add? I stopped at Netflix and HBO.

Who are these people who allow every single streaming service to quietly leech off their savings or checking accounts each month? When does the madness end? I watched the Golden Globes on Monday and here were the streaming services that had at least one series nominated: Netflix, HBO, Apple TV+, Disney+ and Hulu. I think Amazon was shut out. As was Showtime.

I clipped and pasted this:

Here’s Reelgood’s price breakdown of the major streamers:

  • Apple TV+ — $4.99
  • Discovery+ — $6.99
  • Disney+ — $7.99
  • Prime Video — $8.99
  • Paramount+ — $9.99
  • Peacock Premium Plus — $9.99
  • Showtime — $10.99
  • Hulu — $12.99
  • HBO Max — $14.99
  • Netflix (standard HD) — $15.49

So, granted, I pay for the two most expensive streaming services, but they’re also the best (someone at Netflix is kicking themselves for not developing Ted Lasso). Let’s add those fees up: it comes out to more than $113 per month, or $1,336 per year. That’s not quite one month’s rent, but I imagine it’s more than many people’s mortgage payments per month.

Of course, we’re all the same folks who won’t drop $19.99 a year on a subscription to Sports Illustrated any more because we just do not have the money. Or that’s what we tell ourselves. Television is easy. Reading is hard.

Anyway, returning to the tweet atop this item, I think Chris may be onto something…

In Loco Parentis

So the Cotton Bowl was the best bowl game of the season, no? In the fourth quarter of that contest between Tulane and USC, when it appeared that the Trojans had the game in hand and that ESPN announcers Mark Jones (“impervious,” “implacable,” “egregious”) and Robert Griffin III would need to audible to human interest anecdotes to keep us from flipping, the pair opted to focus on Tulane running back Tyjae Spears. The camera panned to the crowd, to a shot of his dad, and then RG3 talked about how his father had spent countless hours with him developing him as a football player and athlete from a prepubescent age. Same for USC’s Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Caleb Williams (different dad, of course).

And that is when RG3 opined, not at all incorrectly, on how too few young African-American males have a father figure in their lives and the supreme importance of having a father figure and the profound importance such a person plays in the futures of so many young black men. And I thought, Yes! He’s absolutely right.

I also thought, Isn’t a father figure an important in the development of any young boy? Or girl? Regardless of race. And then I thought, How would Twitter have reacted if Todd Blackledge or Joel Klatt had proffered the same opinion? Boom! Roasted!

You logged on to mediumhappy.com today and instead found yourself in the middle of a Bill Burr monologue. But it’s true. When two people of different colors say the exact same thing (okay, short of the N-word) and one gets hammered while the other’s remarks don’t even raise an eyebrow, we have a problem. I applaud what RG3 said there. It was candid, it was bold and it was true. I just wish anyone could say it.

Now, if he’d gone on to say that without a father figure they’re destined to become a supporting player in The Wire and from there, decades of incarceration, that might’ve been a stronger take.

Short Round Returns

About those Golden Globes, it was sweet validation for Ke Huy Quan to win Best Supporting Actor for his work in Everything Everywhere All At Once (they couldn’t have just called it “Ubiquitous?”). And his acceptance speech struck all the feels, with this erstwhile scene-stealer from the second Indiana Jones film in the early 1980s wondering if his greatest moment would always remain decades in the past (“As I grew older, I began to wonder if that was it”). And him giving this speech with Steven Spielberg sitting only a few feet away.

So, yes, all of that is cool. We wonder if that speech will tug enough heartstrings to allow Quan to steal a narrow Oscar win over Barry Keoghan, whose supporting role in The Banshees of Inisherin is the best thing you’ll see all year. All we know is that if that does happen, Oscar should take an uncharted path and cut to Keoghan seated in the audience saying, “Well, there goes that dream.”

All I Have To Say About George Santos

If America wanted a sociopathic liar in Congress, why didn’t we just elect Penelope?

Dollar Quiz

Yesterday’s Answers: 1. Scotland 2. They went undefeated (59-0) 3. Fran Tarkenton 4. Uranus 5. True

  1. Jeff Beck, who passed away yesterday, first came to fame with what supergroup in the Sixties?
  2. What does a yellow square in Wordle denote?
  3. Name one famous historical figure from the years 500 A.D. to 1,000 A.D. (I was gonna say “person” but then someone would have answered, “Murray” and who am I to say there was nobody named Murray across five centuries?)
  4. What country shares a border with the most other countries?
  5. Who was the last player to play both college and NFL football in the same season (September through the end of that calendar year)?


IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Savage Joke

Last night’s Golden Globes was all over the place, but this joke from host Jerrod Carmichael was as bold as anything former host extraordinaire Ricky Gervais ever attempted. I’ll admit I headed directly to the Google Machine to find out who Shelly Miscavige is/was. Wikipedia tells us that Miscavige, 61, “is a member of the Church of Scientology, married to Scientology leader David Miscavige. She was last seen in public in August 2007.”

That’s quite a while to be a recluse, eh?

In case you spot her on a pickleball court somewhere

LA police have said that they’ve met with Miscavige and that she is alive while others close to the situation say that she is being held against her will.

Miscavige’s mom, Flo Barnett, was a long-time Scientologist who resigned and absconded with “confidential upper-level materials.” She was found dead in 1985, at age 52, from a gunshot wound to the head. Her body also had three rifle shots to the chest, but her death was ruled a homicide. Sounds as if it would make a good movie.

Teaser

Have you ever heard of the Sultana? No? I had not either before yesterday. If you know what I’m talking about, good for you. If not, we’ll have more info after the next item.

Suns Of Anarchy

More proof that the NBA regular season is jabberwocky this season. The Golden State Warriors, defending NBA champions, were at home and at full strength last night (albeit Steph Curry needed to shake off rust after an 11-game absence). They were tied for the best home record (17-3) in the NBA.

The Phoenix Suns had lost six straight and had only one of its top seven players from last season, Mikal Bridges, suited up. I

In the third quarter, the Suns led the Dubs by 27 points. Phoenix survived a shaky fourth quarter to win 125-113. The Suns won for only the second time in 11 games. The Dubs, oddly enough, lost their third in a row at home, all to teams with sub-.500 records at the time: Detroit, Orlando and Phoenix. And now the Dubs are sub-.500 (20-21)

The Sultana

I was researching the Dollar Quiz yesterday and came across “the worst maritime disaster in U.S. history” and realized I’d never heard of it before. On April 27, 1865, the Sultana, a commercial riverboat, sunk on the Mississippi River, leading to the deaths of 1,169 people.

Here’s the backstory. More than 1,900 of the ship’s 2,130 passengers were Union soldiers who’d been prisoners of war during the Civil War, which had ended only earlier that month, and were homeward bound on the vessel headed upriver. The ship was only built to accommodate 376 passengers.

Around 4 a.m. on that April morning, seven miles upstream of Memphis, one of the ship’s four boilers exploded. Two other boilers exploded in rapid succession. What makes all of this creepy is that only one day earlier assassin John Wilkes Booth had finally been tracked down and killed and that was dominating the news (A&E broke into its coverage of “Duck Dynasty” to report the news). Anyway, the conspiracy theorists have long claimed the boat was sabotage, that this was payback, but official accounts discredit this (they always do, though, don’t they?).

More of an issue at the time was how come the boat was allowed to be filled so beyond capacity.

Anyway, we’d never heard of the boat or this event. If one of us makes it to Jeopardy! and this is the Final Jeopardy! clue, you’re welcome.

Greta Van Fleet

Came across an Instagram vid of Robert Plant singing the praises of a young rock band from Michigan, whom he bemusedly accuses of stealing their sound from the first Led Zeppelin album. Plant doesn’t seem bothered by that at all, and why should he be? Led Zep were pretty much the greatest plagiarists in rock history (after the Stones, perhaps?).

Anyway, the band is Greta Van Fleet, and they’ve been around since 2017 but I’m old and I’d never paid any attention. What you’ll love is that they’re from Frankenmuth, Michigan (just outside of Saginaw) and that three of the four band members are brothers (two are twins), the Kiszka brothers. Only the drummer is not related.

Above, their breakout hit, “Highway Tune.”

Rock and roll retains a faint pulse.

Dollar Quiz

Yesterday’s answers: 1. Rearview mirror 2. Vermont 3. Pythagorean Theorem 4. Cy Young 5. Chris Evert

  1. The Isle of Skye (above) is in what country?
  2. What is remarkable about the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings, baseball’s first all-professional team?
  3. Who is the most prolific passer (career yardage) in NFL history to have played before Bill Walsh became a head coach?
  4. One of these three planets was named after a Greek god. Which one: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Neptune, Uranus?
  5. True-False: there is a 600-plus yard hole on the PGA Tour.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Texas Christian Massacre

65-7

May we never speak of it again. At some point during the second half I began entertaining visions of ESPN cutting into its telecast with Scott Van Pelt and Ryan Clark in the studio, the latter reminding us that the Horned Frogs “aren’t just football players, they’re human beings!”*

*Kudos to my former student Jack for that one.

Seriously, though, at least Damar Hamlin came back to life one Monday night earlier on ESPN. The Horned Frogs, after briefly giving its audience hope at 10-7, surrendered 55 unanswered points.

For posterity’s sake, this was the largest point differential (58) in the history of bowls. Not in the history of championship games, but in all bowl games. I don’t recall Fowler and Herbie noting that. I do recall Herbie twice saying, “I have no idea what to say.” He could’ve said that.

The 12-team playoff means we won’t be seeing games like this in the championship game, but rather in the first and second rounds. It’s becoming more the way we choose a president. Multiple layers of vetting to keep out the great unwashed (and occasionally, once every century, a demagogue steps in). But for the near future, expect to see only SEC schools, perhaps Ohio State or Michigan, or maybe even Clemson or USC, in the natty. Once we get to 12 teams.

Imagine being an Ohio State fan last night. Knowing your school blew a 14-point second half lead to the Dawgs and also could’ve won it at the end with a sub-50 yard field goal. That wasn’t just for a win; it was for a national championship. And, yes, we all know Alabama would’ve kept this game close. SIngle digits, most likely. Or even flat-out won.

A bizarre night. A trio of white dudes named Stetson, Ladd and Brock leading Georgia to the most convincing championship ever. Rain crashing sideways into SoFi Stadium, which has a roof but no walls in some parts so that only TCU fans were being drenched. Sometimes Mother Nature supplies the metaphors gratis.

It Never Rains In Southern California

Some of America’s most idyllic towns—Montecito, Malibu, Santa Barbara, Carpinteria, Ojai—were absolutely pummeled by torrents of rain yesterday. Some areas received as much as two inches of rain. Pray for the Golden Globes this Sunday!

Dollar Quiz

Yesterday’s Answers: 1. True, 2. 51 3. Both Northern 4. Hollywood Squares and The Brady Bunch, 5. Jackson and Hamilton.

Today’s quiz is a tough one but should teach us all something:

  1. The winner of the inaugural Indianapolis 500, Ray Harroun, had help from a clever device that he devised himself. What was it? (the year was 1911)
  2. Which one of these was not among the original 13 colonies: Vermont, Georgia, Rhode Island?
  3. If the distance from home plate to first base is 90 feet, and all bases are equidistant, you can calculate the distance in a straight line from home to 2nd base using what? (I will not accept “tape measure” as an answer).
  4. Which one of these three were NOT named to the five-player charter class of the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936: Walter Johnson, Honus Wagner, Cy Young?
  5. What surviving women’s tennis player has the highest career win % (minimum 500 matches won)?It’s just a hair below 90%.