by John Walters

Tweet Me Right

Starting Five

Toronto Rapture*

*The judges will also accept “Canadian Clubbing” but not “Pascal’s Try Angles”

In a Game 1 that felt like a Canadian coronation, the Raptors defeated the Warriors 118-109. Third-year forward Pascal Siakam, from Cameroon by way of Las Cruces (that well-trod path to NBA stardom), scored on 11 straight attempts and finished with 32 points.

The Reptiles led pretty much throughout. The Dubs looked rusty. And if you looked, Steph Curry (a game-high 34 points) was slapping hands with his teammates as the buzzer sounded as if to reassure them. Will Durant be ready for Game 2 on Sunday? Will President Trump invite the Raptors to the White House if they win this series? Stay tuned…

Oh, Bee Hive

In what some will hail as a victory but our MH editorial staff sees as a death-knell for the event, last night an octet of champions were announced at the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Eight different spellers survived 20 grueling rounds after organizers of the 94th annual bee figuratively threw the book, i.e. the dictionary, at them. At last the organizers surrendered and announced a perfect octet of champs.

Dig: First of all, as Susie B. notified us yesterday, this year the Bee allowed certain “worthy” individuals to enter the National Bee provided they put up a $1,500 entry fee and afford six nights at the $300-per-night Gaylord National Resort in National Harbor, Md. More than half of the field’s 565 entrants took this Felicity Huffman Route to the finals and, as Susie B. opined, you gotta wonder if the fact that every year all the finalists (and champion) are pretty much of Indian descent had anything to do with that decision.

Dig also: the Bee is a finite competition. There are only so many words, most of which in the last dozen rounds have never been uttered by anyone other than a PhD in neurobiology or anthropology. The Bee is not a referendum on spelling prowess, but on memorization ability. As such it is a wonderful primer for the kids in the top-most echelon as they prepare for the inevitable medical school studies for which their parents are priming them. Make no mistake: I fully expect one of this year’s winners to be conducting my colonoscopy or performing my hip replacement in 30 years.

If we could just add an element to Navy SEAL hell week to the competition, that would winnow out some of the weaker contestants

Which is fine. It just doesn’t make for a compelling competition. If everyone wins, no one wins. The only loser is the competition itself. One suggestion: add an athletic component to the Bee. After each round of spelling, the contestant must do 10-pushups.

A second suggestion: In the final round you must spell the name of one of your competitors correctly.

A third suggestion: the competition consists of nothing but competitors being asked to remember their User IDs and Passwords.

Yet a fourth suggestion: Add a time element. As they do in pole vaulting, when someone wins even when more than one entrant has cleared the same top height by seeing who had the fewest misses beforehand, why not elevate the speller who required the least time to spell his or her word above those who kept procrastinating by asking for it to be repeated, or to be used in a sentence, etc?

Tirade Wars

Wednesday: Special Counsel Robert Mueller stands in front of a nation and says, “If we had had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.”

Thursday: President Donald Trump stands in front of a device and tweets, “On June 10th, the United States will impose a 5% Tariff on all goods coming into our Country from Mexico, until such time as illegal migrants coming through Mexico, and into our Country, STOP. The Tariff will gradually increase until the Illegal Immigration problem is remedied.

Not that imposing tariffs has much to do with illegal immigration, but then that’s hardly the point, now is it? From the Gospel according to Donald Draper: “If you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation.”

Uber Unter

When your grandpa wakes from a Van Winkle-esque nap and realizes the Nazis won…

Earlier this month Uber issued its IPO. Yesterday the company announced earnings for the first quarter of 2019 and showed a $1 billion loss. Also, the company grew at its slowest rate since it began disclosing quarterly results two years ago.

It’s not that fewer consumers are using Uber. It’s that as the company becomes legit, it has to behave like a real company and stop paying its drivers in Dave & Buster’s tokens and the like. You know what would put Uber out of business? What if a company just started selling paddles, like the ones you see at auctions? Now, I pay $1 for that paddle and hold it up whenever I need a ride. If a random driver passes by and stops, that driver knows I need a ride (I’m trying hard not to use the term “lift”). They can ask where I’m headed and the two of us can negotiate a price. No promises. And yes, this service would be a boon for kidnappers and other violent criminals. But if you operate on a trust basis, who’s to say such a service couldn’t put Uber out of business?

The Birthplace of the Martini?

Earlier this week we met a gifted transgender mixologist named Lucky (a sentence I’ve always wanted to write). Anyway, when I wasn’t improperly using “he” and “him” pronouns around Lucky (sorry about that), she was sociable enough to inform us about the origin of the martini.

While most contend that the classic cocktail owes its origins to Italian immigrant bartender Martini di Arma di Taggia at the Knickerbocker Hotel in New York City just prior to World War I, Lucky suggested another beginning: a bartender at the Occidental Hotel in Buffalo, Wyoming, conjured one up in the 1870s for a miner who laid a gold nugget on the bar and asked for something special before he returned to his home in Martinez, Calif.

True? Would such an apocryphal anecdote leave you shaken? Or stirred?

Music 101

Brown Sugar

What’s the Stonesiest of Rolling Stones songs? “Satisfaction”? “Honky Tonk Women?” “Jumpin’ Jack Flash?” “Wild Horses?” If you had to go with a signature tune, you’d likely pick “Satisfaction,” but I don’t know if any song better illustrates the band’s playful, bad-boy edge and Mick Jagger’s not-ready-for-Ed Sullivan lurid streak while also containing an inimitable Keith Richards riff.

This tune, one of eight songs that reached No. 1 on the Billboard charts, did so in 1971.

One of the incredible aspects of rock-and-roll is that the clamor guitars and drums, and Mick’s vocal stylings, sort of disguise the English that’s being thrown right at your ears. This is the first stanza of the song, which I’ll admit I’d never really paid attention to:

Gold Coast slave ship bound for cotton fields
Sold in the market down in New Orleans
Scarred old slaver knows he’s doin’ all right
Hear him whip the women just around midnight

Remote Patrol

Champions League Final: Tottenham vs. Liverpool


3 p.m. TNT

The top two clubs in Europe, both hailing from England, meet in Madrid in a 90-minutes plus winner-take-all match. No way either can top the drama of the second legs of their respective semis, is there?

3 thoughts on “IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

  1. As I type this, the S&P is down a little over 1% today in light of Trump’s announcement re tariffs. One can, of course, manipulate market endpoints to help make whatever point one wants to make, but the S&P is currently very close to where it was in the first week of January, 2018. So it has been flat for close to 17 months after several years of steady growth.

    Trump has spent decades trying to prove himself to be a master negotiator and businessman. I would think that he would do nothing as president that he thinks might drive down the markets or harm the economy in any way, but he continues to impose tariffs (or threaten to do so) in a way that even the right-wing business elite agree is a drag on both. So the explanation has to be 1) he just doesn’t understand how increased tariffs affect the economy; or 2) his rage against immigrants is so great that it is overpowering everything else. Or, obviously, a combination of both.

  2. Well, sometime between 11-midnight last night, I said out loud : “THEY’VE BROKEN THE BEE!” But here’s the thing – from the very start of the show, the commentators stated we “might see history tonight!” because the finalists (16! that alone was shocking!) are all such great spellers. So, either the Bee folks knew this was a likely possibility OR WANTED it to happen so they can change the format going forward! Hmmmmm.

    To any faithful Bee viewer (such as myself) of the past 10-15 years, the 8 (EIGHT!) co-champions seemed a travesty & YET, not that much of a shock as the spellers seemed to be getting better & better every damn year! And they’ve had 2 co-winners over many of these years as the final two kept standing & spelling correctly. BTW, is there ANY EVENT that would justify the use of Elton John’s “IM STILL STANDING” more than the National Spelling Bee?! And yet, I didn’t hear even a 15 second snippet. I guess maybe it was too expensive to use, but with the ‘Rocketman’ movie out, you’d think this would have a perfect tie-in to put the thought into all the viewers heads to go see that movie! Hel-LO!

    Anyhoo, at the end of Round 17 when they announced there would be just 3 more rounds & every speller still standing at the end would be announced as a champion, I gasped. But they actually handled it great. After each kid spelled his/her Round 20 word correctly, there was jubilation, jumping up & down, hand-slapping, & shots of the crying family in the audience. AFTER EVERY ONE. And despite my worry that the later spellers would get short shrift of a celebration, it was the opposite & the cheering/exultation actually BUILT after every correct word. It was actually kind of AWESOME! Would I want it repeated? No. I think they MUST tweak the format. I even thought they’d use one of your ideas jdubs, for the latter rounds & announce the time limit would be cut in half for each word. I guess since it was not already in the Rules & Regulations, they couldn’t just spring it on them. But NEXT year, I think we’ll see that & possibly other changes.

    Also, ahem, can I just mention that for the 1st time in ages, I actually KNEW several of the words & could spell them! Whoo-hoo! Even in the LAST ROUND! Honestly, that hasn’t happened in, er, um, maybe never? I mean, goodness, have you WATCHED that show the past 10 years? I’d never seen or heard of many of those words & I actually have read a book or two or 10,000. Those kids just astonished me year after year, all while I felt dumber & dumber, but isn’t that what ‘aging’ is all about? 😉

    I do want to thank the Westminster Dog Show (which I’ve watched on TV even more years than the Bee) for my ability to spell one of the Round 18 words : KOMONDOR! I was actually so shocked when I heard it, especially in that late round, I thought I must have heard wrong! And yes, I ran around my kitchen island as celebration when I spelled it FASTER than the Bee speller. Also, I got right one of the words I’d 1st heard from a previous year : campylobacter! Don’t ask me what it means! I just remember it because it starts out with “campy” & I thought that was hysterical as it’s some kind of infection I think.

    Finally, I didn’t see a single minute of last night’s NBA Finals Game 1, but since the Bee was on ESPN, I saw the updated score throughout & when the Raptors finally wrapped it up, I cheered & spelled out : JUBILATION! Can the Raptors really beat the Supervillains for the title? With or without Durant, I’m not too optimistic, but I am H-O-P-E-F-U-L. (BTW, did you also think that at least one SV was not heartbroken at last night’s loss? You don’t think Durant has been LIVID hearing for the past 2-3 WEEKS that they supposedly didn’t need him at all? LOL!)

  3. “Don’t you know I’m still standing better than I ever did
    Looking like a true survivor, feeling like a little kid
    And I’m still standing after all this time
    Picking up the pieces of my life without you on my mind

    I’m still standing. Yeah, yeah, yeah
    IM STILL STANDING. Yeah, yeah, yeah”

    Congrats to all the ‘Great Eight’ spelling champs!

    🙂 🙂 🙂

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