IT’S ALL HAPPENING! Thursday, September 19

Starting Five

1. A Hat Trick of Talent

Ronaldo: He has the world in the instep of his foot.

The Iberian peninsula is currently the home of three of the world’s greatest athletes. Spaniard Rafael Nadal recently won the U.S. Open, his second Grand Slam title of 2013, and has a 61-3 record in singles matches this year.

Then, of course, there are forwards Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona and Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid. Earlier this week Ronaldo, who is Portuguese, became the world’s highest-paid footballer when he signed a contract extension that will compensate him annually with 21 million Euros ($28 million), after taxes, for the next five years.

Then on Tuesday, as if to dot both “i’s”, the 28 year-old winger scored a hat trick in (that’s three goals, Phyllis) an easy 6-1 defeat of Turkish club Galatasaray as Champions League play got underway in Istanbul (the final goal is like watching Michael Jordan thread three defenders with a crossover dribble followed by a spin move, then pull up for an 18-footer).

Ronaldo now has 54 career goals (my career goals, by contrast, are to get one week’s paid vacation and a parking space) in Champions League play and 21 career hat tricks. Which is prit-tee, prit-tee good.

(Ronaldo is also really, really handsome. Like, it’s-not-fair handsome. Like, if Maria Sharapova really were the world’s greatest distaff tennis player, it would kinda be like that. Or, if Kate Beckinsale were. Dig?)

Sorry, dude, but I’d rather fly Emirates than Qatar Airways. Still, you’re the best

Ronaldo’s numbers are fantastic, buuuuuutttttt…..Lionel Messi’s are better. Yesterday the Argentine artist answered Ronaldo’s challenge by scoring a hat trick himself in Barca’s 4-0 Champions League victory against Dutch side Ajax. Messi now has 62 career goals in Champions League play (in just 80 matches, the best ration in the tourney’s history) and 24 career hat tricks.

The two men will next meet on the same pitch on October 26th at Camp Nou in Barcelona. For those who don’t already know, any Barca-Real Madrid fixture is known as “El Clasico.” When these two are on the pitch, that’s not false advertising. (and yes, MH mancrush Gareth Bale, who is now Ronaldo’s teammate, will be there, too).

2. Autumnal Equinox-and-Beyond Previews: TV

Akerman: We’ve been high on her since a guest role on “Love Monkey.” Stockholm-born, Canada-raised.

Summer is not over…yet. But we’re in the last throes, which means we have some serious ass-planting ahead of us on the couch (and in the movie theaters… have you sat in one of these yet at your local cineplex, by the way?). Over at Grantland, Andy Greenwald believes that Trophy Wife, starring Malin Akerman, is the sitcom to watch (people still watch sitcoms that don’t have Larry David’s or Ricky Gervais’ imprints? Interesting…). The title reminds us of the Steven Wright: “A friend of mine has a trophy wife, but from the looks of it, it wasn’t first place.”

I do like this exchange in the trailer, in which an adolescent passes Akerman at her stepkids’ school. “What up, MILF?” “Shut up, toolbox.”

3. Autumnal Equinox-and-Beyond Previews: Film

Finally, here come the good films of 2013

Rush: It’s both faster and Lauda.

Gravity… Part of the Sandra Bullock “Forces of Nature” trilogy that includes “Speed” and “The Heat”.

Rush,… Not a Canadian prog rock trio biopic, but a film about Formula One racing in the 1970s inspired by true events. Although Chris Hemsworth’s character was pretty much the Robert Plant of racing (15 years ago Brad Pitt gets this role).See it –from the trailer, it seems to capture the Seventies vibe accurately — but also see the 2010 doc “Senna”.

Captain Phillips… Some day people will read that there was a film (“Larry Crowne”) starring Hanks, Julia Roberts and Bryan Cranston (alias Walter White) and nobody saw it. Anyway, if you’re keeping score this is the third Hanks film in which he plays the captain of a ship of some type (“Apollo 13” and “Forrest Gump”) as well as the third in which he achieves the rank of captain (“Apollo 13” and “Saving Private Ryan”). Watch closely to see if Hanks’ character urinates. He has done so in five other films.

All is Lost…Robert Redford doing the “Life of Pi” thing, sans tiger.

The Fifth Estate…A film about the founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, which I mention primarily because the actor in the lead role is named Benedict Cumberbatch, which is the type of name P.G. Wodehouse would’ve dreamt up and smiled about for days.

The Wolf of Wall Street…Reunites Martin Scorcese, Leo DiCaprio and Lower Manhattan. Am I the only one who did not love Gangs of New York?

Nebraska… Bruce Dern (he once shot and killed John Wayne in a western; what more do you need?), now 77, in a black-and-white film from Alexander Payne that co-stars Will Forte as his son. That’s right, MacGruber (and yes, in case you were thinking it was all a bad dream, they actually made and released a MacGruber movie). The two trek from Montana to Nebraska to claim a $1 million prize. Think of it as “Sideways” meets “The Straight Story.”

Yes, this is the same man who played a male stripper in Magic Mike.

Dallas Buyers Club… The film I most want to see, and one that should once and for all end any arguments about Matthew McConaughey appearing in any film that is either not set in Texas or has him playing a Texan-like character. Honestly, how about this little career renaissance for our good friend Wooderson (“Alright alright alright”): “Killer Joe”, “Mud” (which will probably get a Best Picture nomination) and now this, in which MM plays a former rodeo star afflicted with AIDS who starts smuggling medicine/drugs across the Mexican border into Texas. Can’t wait.

4. The Colts’ Plan to Reunite the 2011 Heisman Trophy Finalists Is Working

Jim Brown remains the best Brown of all-time, if not the best NFL player of all-time.

So the Cleveland Browns trade running back Trent Richardson, who finished 3rd in the 2011 Heisman balloting, to the Indianapolis Colts, whose QB, Andrew Luck, finished 2nd (yes, RG3 won the bronze bust). Richardson was the third player drafted in 2012, and Luck the first (RG3 was taken second). Richardson, by the way, rushed for 950 yards last season and has 105 yards in two games thus far in 2013. So he’s not Adrian Peterson, but who is?

When is the last time a ball carrier was flagged for facemasking? this Alabama defender wonders.

What do the Browns have up their sleeves? Well, their quarterback is either former Michigan State starter Brian Hoyer or second-year pro Brandon Weeden, who actually turns 30 next month. Could the Browns be stock-piling picks in the hope of selecting Johnny Football and, knowing that, might not JFF return to College Station for his redshirt junior/senior year? And can JFF make it in the pros? And why is Greg Bedard whining about having flown “halfway across the country” to see JFF play last weekend? One, that’s a two-hour flight, three hours, tops. Two, the pilot flew the plane, you didn’t. Shaddup!

Or do the Browns want Jadeveon Clowney (overrated, by the way)?

5. I’m Defending Rick Reilly? Seriously.

So, there are few easier targets in sports media these days than my old friend Rick Reilly. True story: When I was in college and his star was its brightest, I wrote him a fan letter. Riles wrote me back, a hand-written note.

Anyway, I’ve taken a jab or two at ESPN’s millionaire columnist on this very site (The “Notre Dame is Irrelevant” article comes to mind), but I have his back, at least to an extent, on his Washington Redskins column.

Why? Because while I agree that the term “Redskins” may be racist, I also believe that taking offense is in the eye of the beholder. If enough Native Americans –remember when we called them Indians? Now THAT was offensive, to not one but two entire separate races of people– are bothered by the term, then we should definitely discontinue it.

And then what should we do about the Atlanta Braves?

And what would you have us do about the Cleveland Indians? The term itself is universally accepted as obsolete (“Indian”, not “Cleveland”, though I suppose….). Many will tell you that the name was chosen –formerly they were the Cleveland Naps, which is offensive to people with insomnia — to honor former player Louis Sockalexis, a member of the Penobscot tribe who is believed to have been the first Native American to play in the MLB. But, I mean, would Cleveland Sockalexises have worked?

Indian mascot Chief Wahoo: How’d he get those teeth so pearly white?

I won’t even embark upon my own alma mater’s “Fighting Irish”, which began as a quasi-derogatory term from outsiders but has since been warmly embraced by the school’s fans, administration, alumni and students.

Apparently, what really got some people’s undies in a wad was Reilly’s closing line: “Trust us. We know what’s best. We’ll take this away for your own good, and put up barriers that protect you from ever being harmed again.

Kind of like a reservation.”

One blogger, Robert Wheel in writing for Kissing Suzy Kolber, called this line a “fireable offense.” (but naming a site Kissing Suzy Kolber –and I get the reference– is not offensive to anyone?). Really?

Not only is the entire “Rename the Redskins’ movement unctuously patronizing — a bunch of Caucasians deciding that they’re going to assist Native Americans, who apparently are unable to help thee mselves — but the idea that someone would be offended by Reilly’s closing line is, to me at least, offensive.

His point, of course, is, If you really want to be offended, take a moment to think of how we’ve treated these people over the last two centuries. And THIS is the stand you want to take? It’s like wondering if the prisoners at Guantanamo, many who have never even been charged with a crime and have no habeas corpus rights, have comfortable pajamas.

So, don’t worry, Riles. I got your back. And if people want the name Redskins changed, fine. But I just hope those people who advocate this change with the most volume are themselves Native Americans.

And, lastly, do you know what an editor says to a columnist who writes what many people decry as an “outrageous” column? “Good job.”







4 thoughts on “IT’S ALL HAPPENING! Thursday, September 19

  1. Love Monkey! Never forget.

    Again, you vastly underestimate the powerful stream of cinema that is Tom Hanks peeing in movies. Five? At least. If I see his Mary Poppins movie and don’t see Walt Disney peeing on camera — a demand, in truth, that I’ve had with previous films — I will disappointed, and may suggest a visit to the urologist.

  2. On the drive to Ocean City, MD, you cross a bridge over Assawoman Bay. As kids, we laughed & laughed but were told it was an Algonquian (Indian, i.e. “Native American” although they didn’t originate here either, I digress) name & thus, to laugh/snicker/guffaw was “inappropriate”.

    Well, if the Redskins name must be changed, I hereby nominate – ASSAMAN.

    The Washington Assamans. I like it.

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