by John Walters

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Starting Five

Easy Brees-y

Saints quarterback Drew Brees tosses four touchdown passes in an effortless 34-7 win against the Colts on MNF and claims two records in the process. His 29-30 passing night was, percentage-wise, the best single-game performance in NFL history (96.7%). And in tossing his 537th, 538th, 539th and 540th career TD pass, he moved past both Tom Brady (still active, 538) and Peyton Manning (539, retired) on the all-time list.

All against the team the Saints beat in the Super Bowl 10 years earlier.

A reminder that Brees, 6’0″, was a second-round pick out of Purdue in 2001. Which is still four rounds sooner than Tom Brady was selected in 2000.

When Comics Get Ripped

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I never thought I’d be one of those people who would post a thirsty shirtless, but I’ve worked way too hard for way too long so here we are. You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain. I found out a year ago I was going to be in Marvel’s Eternals and decided I wanted to transform how I looked. I would not have been able to do this if I didn’t have a full year with the best trainers and nutritionists paid for by the biggest studio in the world. I’m glad I look like this, but I also understand why I never did before. It would have been impossible without these resources and time. So big thanks to @grantrobertsfit who started working with me at the beginning of the year and made me understand true physical pain for months and months. Then, once we started shooting, a massive thanks to @davidhigginslondon and his team (@ellispartridge, @thebeardypt, @tomcheesemanfitness) for training me almost every day and making me strong, limber and injury free. I can almost touch my toes now. (And thank you for forcing me to do cheat meals David.) Matthews Street Catering for their delicious and healthy meals. And finally, the biggest thanks goes to @emilyvgordon for putting up with me complaining and talking about only working out and dieting for the last year. I promise I’ll be interesting again some day. #thirstyshirtless (Photo by @markupson.) (edit: I left off one very important person: @lancecallahan who trained me for 6 years and helped me build the foundation I could use to do this. Thank you!)

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On a personal level, it must feel great for comic Kumail Nanjiani to have gotten this buff for an upcoming role in a Marvel Comics film we’ll never see. On a professional level, however, beware: Remember how funny and popular Joe Piscopo and Carrot Top were before they discovered 24-Hour Fitness? We’re just sayin’….

This dude was once the funniest guy on SNL, every bit the equal of Eddie Murphy for a year or so

The Coup

After a blah opening episode, Season 3 of The Crown (we miss Claire Foy, too…we’re all just going to have to adjust…it’s not like the first time in the past few years we’ve had longing for a leader who’s no longer there) kicks into high gear with some wonderful history lessons that, frankly, we were not aware of: “Margaretology,” or how Princess Margaret charmed LBJ into a financial bailout of Great Britain (by reciting dirty limericks and mocking JFK); “Aberfan,” about a Welsh mining disaster; and “The Coup,” in which deposed military leader and royal family member Lord Louis Mountbatten (played by Tywin Lannister himself, Charles Dance) conspires with the Bank of England and other plutocrats to overthrow socialist prime minister Harold Wilson.

Mountbatten, Prince Phillip’s uncle, at last has a showdown with his nephew’s wife, Queen Elizabeth (Olivia Colman). It’s the climactic scene in the episode and certainly the writer(s) who penned it did so with an eye on current events, both in the USA and the UK.

Mountbatten defends his thoughts on staging a coup by telling the queen that he hates to see what the socialist party is doing to his beloved country and that people like him need to reclaim it by any means necessary (they don’t actually have him say, “Make England Great Again,” but you get the picture). He asks her, “How can you support a person like that?”

And the queen responds, “I’m supporting the prime minister. I’m supporting the Constitution. I’m supporting democracy, the foundation on which this country was built (1,000 years earlier, I might add). And I’ll continue to support him until it is the will of the people to replace him.”

So you get the picture. Mountbatten is the Joe Kernen (or Mitch Mcconnell, or most of the GOP) of this episode, telling you it’s okay to abandon law and democratic ideals because it’s about the economy, stupid. Or about whatever other of our ideals we happen to love. And the queen is saying, “No. You can’t only be in favor of democracy when it’s working for you and then abandon it as soon as it isn’t.”

By the way, notice how democracy and capitalism have analagous roles. Remember how the Wall Street barons were all capitalist jingoists until late September 2008 when suddenly they all became welfare queens, at least for a few months? Yup. Hypocrites over and over.

Anyway, here’s the wrinkle. The queen stood up to Mountbatten, and stood up for democracy. And the wrinkle is that, at least from an electoral college standpoint, democracy was not abandoned in 2016. Donald Trump did not win the popular vote, but he did win where it counted: in the electoral college.

And so that’s where the analogy with this scene breaks down. The people of the U.S. (at least Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania) gave the people currently in charge the keys to the country. The people opened the doors to the coup. Voters have only themselves to blame.

Go ask Alice

Two more notes: 1) the instigator of the plot was Cecil King, the CEO of the Daily Mirror newspapers. More echoes of current events. 2) We love the final scene in this episode, in which Mountbatten visits his elderly sister (Prince Phillip’s mum, Princes Alice, played by Jane Lapotaire), who is a wonderful character. He explains the mess he’s gotten into, and the mess Great Britain is in, and how VITALLY IMPORTANT all of this is, as if he’s some MSNBC or Fox News prime-time host, and she looks at him with pity and says, “Aw, who cares?”

Which is about the way many of us feel right about now.

Ice Capades

Reading. So cool. It constantly teaches you how much you don’t know (that’s why non-readers are so sure of themselves; ignorance is bliss). For example, The Man From The Train (which we read over the summer) informed us of a serial killer who roamed this country from about 1899-1912 who was so deft at what he did that no one even suspected a single person of these crimes until Bill James, the author, shed light on it more than 100 years later.

I don’t think they’re all going to make it back. That’s Greely, arms folded with long beard, seated front and center

Then there’s Labryinth of Ice, which we’re reading now. It’s about, to put it succinctly, the North Pole’s version of the Shackleton expedition. In 1881 first lieutenant Adolphus Greely was given command of a polar expedition to explore to the farthest north any human beings had ever traveled (83 degrees north), sailing up along the west coast of Greenland.

Then things got icy. And next, dicey. Above is the ship Proteus, which during the second summer that Greely and his 2 dozen or so men found themselves stranded at Fort Conger (the first resupply ship had been unable to break through the pack ice) went up to perform a rescue mission. The only problem is that Proteus was trapped by the pack ice which then literally squeezed the ship to death. That crew had to abandon ship and anyway that’s where we are now in the odyssey.

If you’re looking for a fascinating book to read over the Christmas break, we recommend this one.

Five Films: 1976

  1. Rocky: As much as I love this film—it has as legit a claim to “greatest sports film” as any and were it not for the five sequels it might stand alone as such…no one ever requested Hoosiers 3—I don’t think people who were born after, say, 1975, can appreciate what a monumental cultural touchstone Sylvester Stallone’s personal project was. The USA was in the doldrums as the bicentennial crept up, what with Nixon’s resignation and our humiliating evacuation from Vietnam, a war we lost. And here comes this film about a southpaw heavyweight from Philly who’s average at best but suddenly gets, due to his heritage and look and availability, his one shot in life. And he changes himself in order to achieve his goal. And kudos to Stallone for not giving his audience the easy happy ending. What a fantastic, and for this country at that time, necessary, film. Finally, it has to be noted: How much less of a film would this have been without Bill Conti’s unforgettable score? You can’t think of this film without that music. 2. All The President’s Men: This is less a great movie than a 2-hour procedural on how good reporting gets done. Robert Redford made this film about the heroes of the Watergate story and it was incredibly important to him to get the details correct, to illustrate how much pain-staking work (and a little luck) goes into breaking the biggest story of the past 50 years. Incredible, and still resonant this very day. 3. Network: Written by Paddy Chayefsky and directed by Sydney Lumet, this film was years ahead of its time in illuminating not only how the television biz works but also how much of an impact it has on us. Howard Beale was the original Stephen A. Smith (or is it Rush Limbaugh?).. 4. The Bad News Bears: This Little League drama/comedy may have been targeted toward kids, but that was back when filmmakers respected their audience, no matter the age, to have a brain. At times it’s hilarious but it’s also got a ton of pathos. And like the first movie on this list, the good guys come oh so close to pulling off the miraculous upset but not quite all the way. 5. Marathon Man: “Is it safe?” Dustin Hoffman and Sir Lawrence Olivier and Nazis. Very entertaining and not entirely dissimilar from Three Days of the Condor. Both the All The President’s Men leads got their own “The Only Living Boy In New York” film.

We didn’t include Taxi Driver, which we’ve only seen once (on a plane) and didn’t even bother to finish. You can appreciate DeNiro’s performance without being all gushy about how much you loved the film. We’ll give it another try some day.

2 thoughts on “IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

  1. GREAT list & perfect summation of #1! I can remember when I 1st heard of Rocky & a guy friend giving me a plot synopsis & me asking if Rocky won in the end & the guy goes “Well, yes & no” & I said “what the hell does THAT mean?” & he said I just HAD to go see the movie. So I did. Twice in the same week. 🙂 And you’re right – the theme song & the entire score was perfect & elevated that movie into the pantheon of film. Plus, that Stallone was pretty much still a nobody “bum” in Hollywood at the time, trying to get that movie made it into “art imitating life” which we ate up with a spoon. 🙂

    All the President’s Men – EVERY time I see this movie, my chest gets tight with worry, dread & panic & I have to keep reminding myself how, at least THAT time, the “good guys & democracy won”. And for years, every time Deep Throat came on screen, I kept trying to guess who he was & if he would be murdered any moment & again I had to remind myself that I already knew the ending so I could stop gouging the palms of my hands with my fingernails.

    For some reason, I’ve only seen Network once & ALL I can remember is “I’M MAD AS HELL & I’M JUST NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE!” Which, I ahem, may or may not have not uttered once or twice after vising this site. 😉 🙂

    And I can’t think of Marathon Man without thinking of the ‘teeth’ scene & it gave me NIGHTMARES for months! In fact, it STILL gives me the heebyjeebies. Owwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!

    Other fave movies of 1976 are : the original Freaky Friday starring Jodie Foster, Midway, Heston again in Two Minute Warning (yeah, so I have a thing for action thrillers), Logan’s Run, Assault on Precinct 13, & of course, Silver Streak – the pairing of Wilder & Pryor was not one I would have originally thought would have been comedy gold but it was wet-your-pants funny!

    Hey, what’s that sound? Do you hear it? It’s coming closer…

    “Listen to the ground:
    there is movement all around.
    There is something goin’ down
    and I can feel it.

    On the waves of the air,
    there is dancin’ out there.
    If it’s somethin’ we can share,
    we can steal it…

    We know how to do it.
    Gimme that night fever, night fever.
    We know how to show it.”

    🙂 Got your dancin’ shoes on, jdubs?

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