by John Walters

Starting Five

“It’s People! Soylent Green Is People!”

The 1973 flick Soylent Green was on the TCM this morning (as part of Edward G. Robinson month, although considering the month it is, why isn’t it Virginia Mayo month???). So you probably know that it’s about a not-too-distant-future America (from 1973’s vantage point) with a preponderance of elderly, massive economic inflation, and a food shortage.

So the government clandestinely solves the problem by ridding itself of the elderly and processing them into food. It’s 2020 and we’ve taken every step but the final one. But you know, maybe coming soon to a Smithfield’s near you… Grandma!

Quite A Gui!

He’s 11 years old, and he just landed the first 1080 (three complete revolutions) on a vert ramp in the history of skateboarding. That’s Gui Khury of Brazil doing it.

Tony Hawk never did that; Hawk accomplished a 900 in 1999.

Eight years ago, 12 year-old Tom Schaar did turn a 1080, but he did so on a megaramp, which allowed him to build up more speed.

Here’s the thing about skateboarding, as opposed to its companion activity surfing: no one ever gets bitten by a shark skateboarding.

“Thousands Of Americans Must Die For The Dow”

In today’s excellent New York Times opinion column, “Dying For The Dow,” Paul Krugman argues that the Trump White House has abandoned any pretense of managing the pandemic here in the Lower 48. It’s all about the pulse of the stock market, not of the 1,000-plus Americans who are perishing daily.

Someone at the White House did the calculus. Even if we lose 3.5 million Americans, a number that seems both huge and obscene, that’s only 1% of the population. To them that’s a very fair tax to pay in order to keep their resorts open and Net Jets flying. As Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick infamously said last month, “There are more important things than life.”

By the way, we’ll hit 100,000 domestic coronavirus deaths, at least officially, some time during Memorial Day weekend. My guess is Sunday. Fitting, no?

Why Is 13 Unlucky?

A younger colleague (as most are now) asked me this yesterday and I had no reply. So I looked it up for all you triskaidekaphobians out there. According to Wikipedia, three possible historical explanations:

— The Last Supper had 13 people at the table (notice I didn’t write “men” because I read The DaVinci Code, too). Think of Judas as the 13th Man, which is almost but not entirely unlike Texas A&M’s 12th Man.

–On October 13, 1307, King Phillip IV of France ordered the arrest of most of the Knights Templar, most of whom were killed (again, The DaVinci Code, which must have explained all this 13 stuff, but I forgot). The KT were a Catholic military order which, yes, sounds a little off-message.

–Years with 13 full moons were very hard on calendar-making monks.

Anyway, two things about 13 worth noting, numerically: 1) It is the first emirp (that’s an actual word that is sorta self-explanatory), that is the first prime number of two different digits that, when read backwards, is also a prime number (otherwise “11” would be) and 2) Though a prime number, it is a sum of two squared numbers (2 and 3; as is “5”, by the way, the first such).

Remote Patrol

Mad Monster Party

8 p.m. TCM

Remember—how long ago was it, yesterday?—when I wrote that you would be better served if I wrote about stuff that was going to be on TCM before it aired? Well, here you go. A puppet-animation classic from 1967 that’s part camp, part horror, part love story, part comedy. I happened upon this a long, long time ago as a boy and have loved it ever since. If you’ve seen, you do, too.

I’ve got to work so will miss most of it. Lucky you.

Sports Year 1895

On February 9 in Holyoke, Mass., William G. Morgan creates the sport of volleyball (then known as “mintonette”). Maybe if he’d just called it volleyball he’d be as widely known as James Naismith. Same state, four years apart, by the way.

If you’re wondering, yes, Morgan knew Naismith. He met him in 1892 while studying for a P.E. career at the very Springfield YMCA where hoops was born.


On September 3 in Latrobe, Pa., the first professional football game is played. Latrobe YMCA defeats the Jeannette Athletic Club, 12-0, after which Stephen A. Smith declares them “The GOAT!”


Automobile races are beginning to rival, and replace, six-day races in popularity. Italy holds its first, while France holds one that takes place in 11 stages: the first rally. The Paris-to-Bordeaux race is the first in which all competitors start at the same time and the winner, Paul Kochlin, completes the course in 48 hours.

The Chicago Times-Herald sponsors an automobile race, featuring six vehicles, from Chicago to Evanston and back, 54 miles. What’s really going on here? The fledgling industry is attempting to drum up public sentiment for the horseless carriage.

In this same year, by the way, Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius publishes a paper titled, “”On the Influence of Carbonic Acid in the Air Upon The Temperature of the Ground.” That is, the first paper on the “Greenhouse Effect.”


Meanwhile in human-powered transport, women’s six-day racing becomes all the rage. Tillie Anderson, cycling in and around Chicago, breaks the century record, pedaling 100 miles in six hours, 52 minutes and 15 seconds.


Penn becomes the fourth different Ivy League institution, by our count, to be named the college football champions (after Yale, Princeton and Harvard…we’re not holding out much hope for you, Brown).


The first U.S. Open, in golf, is held in Newport, R.I. Horace Rawlins wins.


Thank you, Jacob.

2 thoughts on “IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

  1. Discovered about 5 minutes ago…

    I guess there is a superstition that if you have 13 letters in your name, your life will be cursed.

    Charles Manson
    Jack the Ripper
    Jeffrey Dahmer
    Theodore Bundy
    Albert De Salvo
    Adolfus Hitler
    Osama Bin Laden
    Bashar Al-Assad
    Saddam Hussein

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