by John Walters
1. Festivus? Giddyup!
The “Airing of the Grievances.” The “Feats of Strength.” And of course, the Festivus pole. It’s a Festivus for the rest of us, and it happens today. And let me tell you, “I GOT A LOT OF PROBLEMS WITH YOU PEOPLE!”
Problem No. 1: The commercialization of Festivus! What ever happened to simply griping, lifting large objects, and gathering around an aluminum pole. Wasn’t that enough?
And is there a War on Festivus? Is nothing not sacred, sacred?
2. Everything’s Coming Up Rosie
Meet Don Tillman (Body Mass Index: 25). Don is a genetics prof at a prestigious university in Melbourne who, nearing age 40, decides that it is time to reproduce and have a life partner. Don is fastidious, precise, schedule-oriented, and highly intelligent, and so he creates The Wife Project, a 16-page questionnaire to weed out unworthy applicants.
Of course, Don’s plan goes awry. Imagine Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory accidentally happening upon, perhaps literally, a red-headed step child (I’m not sure who will play her in the film; Jennifer Lawrence had the role, then dropped out;)
. You can reduce this book, Samson’s debut novel, to a “RomCom,” but it’s so clever and witty, hilarious and warm, and its commitment to the main character’s, um, eccentricity, is so deep, that it’s far superior to that. One of the most enjoyable books I’ve read in a long, long time. My thanks to ardent MH reader An Inconvenient Ruth for suggesting I read it.
3. Bad Beats: The Ultimate
Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of the worst bad beat I know of. If you’ve got a worse one, Scott Van Pelt, I wanna hear it:
The 2014 Bahamas Bowl. Western Kentucky, minus 2, versus Central Michigan. At the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Hilltoppers (WKU) leads 49-14. 49-14!! Steve Levy, Lou and Mark May are talking about how they’re going to hop planes and get home in time for the end of Christmas eve. WKU is up by 35 and only has to win by 2. Deck the halls, baby! Deck the freakin’ halls!
Then CMU scores. And scores again. And again. Four touchdowns! Suddenly it’s 49-42, but all WKU has to do is run out the clock. I forget why they don’t: incomplete pass? Someone ran out of bounds? I forget.
Anyway, CMU gets the ball back for ONE. FINAL. PLAY. But they’re on their own 25 yard-line. No chance, right? Nope. CMU throws a Hail Mary pass, does a few laterals, and scores on the game’s final play. It’s 49-48.
And still, as bad as that is, if CMU just kicks the PAT and sends it to overtime, you still have at 50/50 shot of winning your bet if you took WKU. But, NOOOOO! (Belushi voice). CMU goes for 2, so either way you lose. To add insult to injury, CMU fails on the 2-point conversion, so WKU, the team you took to win by at least 2, gets the win but doesn’t cover.
Find me a worse bad beat than that, SVP.
4. Tranches and Collateralized Derivatives: A Hollywood Story
Today marks the theatrical release of The Big Short, an adaptation of the Michael Lewis book that tells the complex story of the sub-prime mortgage housing crisis that ultimately crippled the American economy in a highly entertaining way. How? Because Lewis focused on a few iconoclast rebels, outliers who saw an opportunity by betting, heavily, against the establishment that was so corrupt and full of avarice.
It’s an underdog story, and a thrilling one at that. One of the best books I’ve ever read, and one that will make you both furious and ecstatic (for these rebels) at the same time. It’s a lot like Star Wars: a rebel alliance takes on the Death Star (Wall Street) and wins, even though the planet ultimately is destroyed. And with a cast that includes Ryan Gosling, Steve Carell, Christian Bale and Brad Pitt, I’m not betting against this film. Go see it.
5. Drone Attack!
I’m not a fan of drones. And here’s why. This is skier Marcel Hirscher, who was nearly struck by a camera drone while competing in a World Cup race in Italy yesterday. Skiing downhill at ridiculous speed should be hairy enough without objects from above falling on you. Hirscher, by the way, finished second. You can watch the video here.
*The Medium Happy staff is taking the rest of the week off to recover from tonight’s non-demoninational, utterly secular holiday party. We’ll see you back here on Monday. Peace on Earth, Good Will Hunting toward mendicants.
All Right Now
In mid-1970 the English band Free released this song, which had to be the year’s most recognizable hard-rock guitar riff not played by Jimmy Page. The lead singer, Paul Rodgers, would later team with Page when the two played in The Firm in the mid-Eighties. This song is as early ’70’s rock as it gets.
A Christmas Carol
2:30 p.m AMC
George C. Scott is Ebenezer Scrooge in this 1984 adaptation of the Dickens classic. Some of my favorite childhood memories are watching a Christmas special in the middle of the afternoon in those last days before Christmas. These are the best days (some of my other favorite childhood memories involve giving kids wedgies and farting contests so, you know). Related: You never meet anyone named Ebenezer these days.
I watched that Slalom race last night on the ‘Universal HD” channel*. When it happened, I imagined all viewers (myself included) blinked & shouted “WHAT WAS THAT?!!!” The commentators quickly blurted it was a falling & crashing (quite ironic in a SKIING race) drone but then waited until the very end of the show coverage to let us see a slow-motion repeat. That World Cup-leading Hirscher wasn’t actually hit was a “CHRISTMAS MIRACLE!” Or just dumb luck.
* Remember a few months ago when I said my much missed Universal Sports Network was going off the air & I asked you if you knew anything? Ahem, no reply. Well, the GREAT news is that all of the World Cup skiing, figure skating, swimming & various other events that had been on USN for the past 3 years is now split between NBC, NBC Sports Network & this channel called “Universal HD” (totally owned by NBC/Comcast). I never knew the latter channel existed until I went looking for it & currently it has the WEIRDEST line-up of any channel I’ve seen – repeats of various TV shows from the last decade interspersed with taped-that-day sports events. I’m thinking it will become the “Olympic Channel” eventually. I’m thrilled to pieces that once again I get to see these events & unlike the coverage on NBC (& a few other channels) the past few years where you saw MAYBE 10-12 skiers in each race, with the UHD coverage, we see about 30-35, just like back on Universal Sports Network when I watched between 2008-until 1/1/12 when Comcast stopped airing it. &*%#%. The only thing is that the “commentators” are not actually at the race, they are viewing it in some office here in the USA. I realize this saves money, but I prefer the commentators to BE THERE & soak up & describe the atmosphere. Well, at least I get to see these sports again, so I guess I shouldn’t complain. Too much. 😉
MERRY CHRISTMAS, jdubs! Can we say “Christmas” in here & not be reprimanded by the “Offense Police”? I really hate what our culture & society is DEvolving into. It’s sucking the joy out of life. Some of my happiest childhood memories were of the various holiday celebrations/pageants/parties at my PUBLIC elementary school. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Xmas, Valentines, we had decorations all over the classrooms, FOOD (homemade cupcakes!, chips! punch!), for all. It was GREAT! Now, no one is allowed to bring in food for the class (“allergies!”) & decorations are verboten. As for an actual Xmas “pageant”, fugettaboutit. If this is what “embracing diversity” has done, I’d rather NOT be so “diversified”…
As triumphant as ‘The Rosie Project’ is, ‘The Rosie Effect’ sequel is more of a cautionary tale. Don Tillman loses his edge when he attempts to fit into mainstream society for Rosie’s sake.
Merriest Christmas wishes to the MH editorial, digital strategy, photography and marketing team!