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The Rundown

Anthony Varvaro, former MLB pitcher killed en route to work 9/11 post, was a hero to Staten Island - silive.com

Another week, another holler.

This week has me attempting to fuse some ELO blue sky to the Monk’s midnight indigo, which is what happens every time my brain returns from its Hoboken getaway. All the same, Imma be righteous in my rundown of the things that scratched my lottery winning itch, in an extra credit kind of way. Think amble with a James Brown chaser and you’re onto something.

The above capture is my Heroes of the Week! hat tip to a young man who was taken from us much too soon. Anthony Varvaro lived the kind of life Pete Hamill used to write into classic love letters about the human condition. The thirty-seven year old worked for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey; this after having lived a major league dream across three cities and six seasons. He was a relief pitcher for the Mariners, Braves and Red Sox in his other life, a champion in the one that followed.

His arm carried him from St. John’s University to the Show, after which he cashed in his chips to make the kind of difference our better angels get fat on. Varvaro was killed in a car crash on his way to work at the September 11th memorial ceremony in Manhattan. As if the day hasn’t taken enough, it took one more.

His was a short lived gift to those of us who want the good stories to matter more than all the rest. Because while his book went short, his chapters prevailed upon us with passages that stick. We will remember how he devoted his life to the service of others. And how his dreams were of a better world for this generation and all the ones to follow. His method involved that most time tested blueprint for big dreams: One that requires rolled up sleeves, a humble heart and a soul with a full tank. And I like to imagine Varvaro is stretching his legs in the Milky Way right about now.

We were simply borrowing him.

Marco’s “Best Quote of the Week!” belongs to journeyman QB Geno Smith. The guy has called more places home than a long haul trucker. But he’s still one of only 1,696 men to earn an NFL paycheck, so he’s doing plenty right. And his quote after leading the Seattle Seahawks to a W on Monday Night Football is the kind of genius Oscar Wilde used to marry on the regular. I might have to put Geno on my fantasy league team for literary sake alone.

Aaron Judge belts 56th, 57th homers as Yankees beat Red Sox

I had to Judge it for a third week in a row here at the Rundown, seeing as how Kyrie Irving scored two straight buckets worth of episodes back when we were doing our bi-ness as Heroes . As interesting as I find that knucklehead, I’m in the market for a new King. There’s a dude who is currently working at 161st Street in the Bronx who fits this bill, to the tune of 57 Big Macs with plenty of menu left to be read. 61 ties Aaron Judge with Yankees legend Roger Maris while 62 paves a new parking space in Yankees- and MLB- lore. This is page turning stuff, especially considering he’s also hot on the heels of a Triple Crown season. So now the question becomes, can Judge make it four straight appearances next week on the Rundown?

Stay tuned . . . .

House of the Dragon: Aegon's Catspaw Dagger Is Even More Important Than We Thought - IGN

I wasn’t gonna do it until I did it. No, no, no . . I’m not talking about some primo OG Kush. In this instance, I’m talking about the newest Game of Thrones remedy now streaming on HBO. The storyline in House of the Dragon is a couple hundred years in the rear view of the seven kingdoms of GOT, and it follows the Targaryen dynasty into all manner of debauchery and dragons. The cast is Valyrian steel and the story turns my page just fine, because it ain’t surfing on the coattails of the show that made it go.

It’s how you prequel.

Where to watch the late Queen's funeral in London: best viewing points and public screens

Queen Elizabeth’s passing last week at the age of ninety-six at Balmoral Castle in the UK marked the end of an era. And what an era it was. Her seventy years on the throne marks the longest reign of any British monarch ever and the only one most of us have ever known. She was Queen for 15 British Prime Ministers, which means she met with the sublime of Winston Churchill to the ridiculous of Boris Johnson. She wasn’t a policy maker, but she was in the loop on all things England.

A thirty-eight minute cortege on Wednesday saw the Queen’s coffin travel from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall. The unease of that crown, even in an age where the weight is mostly symbolic in nature, now passes to the son, King Charles III.

Uvalde High School Teams Wins First Football Game Since Shooting

The Uvalde High School football team is 2-0 after winning its home opener 34-28 in a come from behind thriller last weekend. For this small Texas town with a population of 16,000, good outcomes are hard earned these days.

Uvalde was the scene of an unimaginable horror on May 24 when twenty-one people- nineteen students and two teachers- were gunned down at Robb Elementary School. The students lost in the rampage ranged in age from 9 to 11 years old. And just writing that sentence makes my hands shake.

The Coyotes winning a couple of football games inside the first breaths of autumn doesn’t change what came before. But for a night, it was something good happening inside an age where madness wins too far too often. It was a coming together for all the right reasons. It was kids being able to be, well . . kids. It was smiles and cheers and hugs and it was knowing. Knowing how important it is for the living to tell the stories of those twenty-one souls whose tomorrows never came. And maybe it’s more important than we know, to tell those stories until our lights no longer shine.

I have to wonder if maybe, just maybe, there was something happening from somewhere else to here when the Uvalde high school team won its first game of the season at the end of August by a score of twenty-one to thirteen. You can chalk those twenty-one points up to coincidence if you like.

I never will.

 

 

The Rundown

An aerial view of more than a dozen hot-air balloons preparing to launch

Wait a minute . . . it’s September?

I knew my pal Linds B was onto something when she complained that time wasn’t real! I betcha Elon Musk has something to do with the stolen minutes of a summer that feels as if it spent most of its time in the sauna. But since he’ll be President in six years, he’s already covering his tracks for the leadup so it’ll remain a mystery.

The above capture is courtesy of The Atlantic and it shows a hot-air balloon launch in Goreme Historical National Park in central Turkey. It brings to mind a quote from Seneca, whose philosophical witticisms would’ve scored him plenty of hot dates on today’s streaming banshees.

“There is no easy way from the earth to the stars”

Hunter S. Thompson approved that message.

Heat Miser & Snow Miser: The Year Without a Santa Claus - See the song and get the lyrics! (1974) - Click Americana

Is 45 still up to something? We are currently sitting on 2,123 days in which this guy has been up to something, so pardon me if I’m tuning him out this week. The thought of jumping back in with a rant about his do-si-do with the DOJ gives me indigestion. Or maybe it’s the McRib I still haven’t digested from 2014. It’s probably both.

In other political news . . .

  • Sarah Palin lost her bid for Alaska’s lone Congressional seat. Her political career may be history while Mary Peltola made history by becoming the first native Alaskan to serve as a lawmaker for the state. Some pundits say this may be a danger sign for the GOP but since these peeps change their minds like the weather, I’ll check back in five minutes.
  • Texas governor Greg Abbott has spent $13 million busing migrants to New York and Washington D.C.. Lemme see if I have this right. He’s spending dollars on the penny to provide free transportation to peeps who were not likely to stay in Texas anyway. And that’s not a ‘big government’ move?

What Is Aaron Judge Worth? - SI Kids: Sports News for Kids, Kids Games and More

Aaron Judge is sitting on 51 home runs with a month’s worth of baseball yet to be played. The goal is 61 or better and regardless of whether he crosses that majestic threshold, all Judge really needs to concern himself with is staying out of the doctor’s office. Because he’s going to a score an “I told you so!” contract, somewhere.

In sports . . .

  • Serena is giving US Open fans one final thrill before she exits stage left and . . .whatever. She’s just the latest all time great whose act has worn thin with this reporter. What? I have to play nice? Since when?
  • The Broncos will be paying incoming star QB Russell Wilson $165 million guaranteed. It’s interesting to note that two-time Super Bowl champion and Hall of Famer John Elway made $45 million over the course of his entire Broncos career.

Browns Fan & His Son Go Viral w/ 'F*** Them H**s' Sign in Support of Deshaun Watson

  • For those of you who think #MeToo is just bum rushing the male population into oblivion, check out this photograph. It shows an ass-hat father teaching his son all the wrong lessons. And he ain’t alone. Not by a longshot.
  • I checked out the podcast The Longest Game this week and if you’re a baseball fan, go there. It’s the story about how the Pawtucket Red Sox and Rochester Red Wings made history when they engaged in an epic eight and a half hour contest that went 33 innings and still stands as the longest professional baseball game ever played. If you love Norman Rockwell and W.P. Kinsella, you’ll be crushing.

Global Drought Could Impact More Than 75% of World Population by 2050: UN Report | Earth.Org

Hey man, I’m not that guy who screams “Holy Moses!” when it comes to all the many cracks in the foundation of Mother Earth. But with global droughts and dying rivers and lakes becoming ever more prevalent, Moses wouldn’t have had nearly as much luck parting the waters with his 5 iron. All this dry aging has contributed to something called “Zombie Ice”, where the undead ice becomes, in effect, a weapon of mass destruction in rising sea levels. Yikes.

Why Mikhail Gorbachev is a cautionary tale for the United States

Mikhail Gorbachev passed away this week at the age of 91, leaving behind a world he tried his best to change for the better.

He was 54 when he became the general secretary of the Soviet Communist Party in 1985, and it was apparent early on that his tenure would be a departure from previous Soviet rulers. His reforms won him acclaim here in the states but the reception in his own country was always much more complicated than that. And in the end, his vision went the way of all great dreams.

There just wasn’t enough time.

150,000 tomatoes were lost this week in an accident on Interstate 80 in Vacaville, California. A member of the California Highway Patrol said his team was playing ketchup for hours after a semi crashed into the median, leaving onlookers red faced. “Whether you call them to-may-toes or to-mah-toes, this is a crushing turn of events for pasta lovers everywhere.” All may not be lost however, as Dominoes is reportedly interested in purchasing the leftovers.

The Rundown

Aaron Judge Hit 4 Home Runs in 2 Days to Break the Rookie Record

New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge is sitting on 46 home runs for the season and his pursuit of the MLB single season record of 61 home runs in a season- set by Roger Maris in 1961- is still a thing. He would need to go on a hot streak to surpass Maris, but at least he’s not playing with Monopoly money the way Bonds, McGwire and Sosa did back in the Age of Bud. Judge has been the lone bright spot for the Bombers since the team woke up from its magic carpet ride last month and started playing like the Kansas City Royals. Those solid World Series prospects have taken a sad turn but at least Judge is still giving Bombers fans something to get excited about. And so what if all it means is that he’s auditioning for the Los Angeles Dodgers, it still counts.

This early edition of the Rundown will be the last episode of August and I pushed it up so as to provide an extra day with which to reply to any comments before I D.B. Cooper the hell out of town until next weekend. I’ll be back ‘live’ in September with more of the good, the blah and the gravy.

As for the last Rundown of summer, let’s get to it!

Biden signs massive climate and health care legislation | AP News

Joe Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act this week. The bill aims to lower prescription drug costs, address global warming, raise taxes on billion dollar corporations, reduce the federal deficit and bring back the McDonalds fried apple pie. And okay, I made up that last one about Mickey D’s bringing back my favorite fast food item ever. Even if it is well past time.

The President called the sweeping bill a win for the American people and a loss for special interests. He also took a jab at Republicans by pointing out that not a single one crossed the aisle to side with him on this. Add to this a backdrop where Trump is divulging the names of the FBI agents who conducted the raid on his crib . . . while Liz Cheney attempts to steel Americans against the violent reprisals from Trump Nation during her concession speech in the Wyoming House seat race . . while DeSantis plays like Little Finger down in Tallahassee.

If you thought the mid-terms were going to be contentious before, just you wait . . .

Barbecue Pork Sandwich With Reese's Peanut Butter Cups Goes Viral

Marco’s Hell No! of the week goes to the Kansas City Royals, whose horrid performance on the field has seeped into their concessions now. The above menu item was rolled out by the team and while I am down for the mad science of menu mashups, this creation has frenched my fries.

The new BBQ Reese’s sandwich starts with pulled pork being strangled in a bath of barbecue sauce (Strike one!), followed by bacon bits (Strike two!) and finished, literally, with crumbled Reese’s peanut butter cups (You’re out!).

Keanon Lowe, Oregon coach, takes gun, hugs would-be shooter in video

Let’s hope Disney is gonna make good on its plans to make a movie about Keanon Lowe’s heroic efforts to thwart a school shooting back in 2019. Parkrose High School student Angel Diaz had grown so despondent that he intended to shoot himself in front of his classmates. And if you’re of the opinion that compassion has gone out of style, check out this simple exchange that helped prevent a tragedy that day.

“Nobody cares about me,” A sobbing Angel Diaz told Lowe.

“I care about you,” Lowe told him. “That’s why I’m here. I’m here to save you. I got you, buddy.”

Lowe lost his job at Parkrose in the year of Covid, but ever the survivor, he’s bounced back just fine; he wrote a book and he’s currently working on Scott Frost’s Nebraska Cornhuskers staff. His story is one that needs to get told and shared and remembered. Get this done Disney!

Sarah Palin is back? Well, in typical Palin fashion, she’s kind of maybe sort of almost but not entirely back. She’ll be taking part in a special election in her bid to nab Alaska’s one House seat, and if you ask me, I’ve missed Tina Fey so I’m kinda torn on this whole thing.

I’ve included a multiple choice quiz for the occasion. All you have to do is pick out the Sarah Palin gem from the four possible choices below. Good luck!

A) “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a nuke is a good guy with a nuke”.
B) “‘Refudiate,’ ‘misunderestimate,’ ‘wee-wee’d up.’ English is a living language. Shakespeare liked to coin new words too. Got to celebrate it!’
C) “Polls? Nah . . . They’re for strippers and cross-country skiers,”
D) “Only dead fish go with the flow,”

The answer of course, is all of them.

Two large bears interact in an open-air enclosure.

Marco’s Hell Yes! of the week goes to the good people of Kyiv who are saving bears in the war-torn region of Ukraine. Natalia Popova and the animal protection organization UA Animals have already sent 200 of these magnificent creatures abroad while relocating 100 more west of the city. I’ll leave it to the writer and naturalist Henry Beston to ride this baby home.

The creatures with whom we share the planet and whom, in our arrogance, we wrongly patronize for being lesser forms, they are not brethren, they are not underlings, they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the Earth.

Ship salvagers find message in bottle, return it to family of late son

Brian Dahl was eleven years old when he wrote a letter to the future. The sixth-grader from Oxford, Mississippi had mailed the letter inside a bottle as part of a class project. It was during a field trip that the kids launched their words and thoughts into the Talahatchie River. Brian remembered to say “Please” and “Thank you” to the recipient of his message in a bottle back in 1989.

Fast forward to 2022 when Billy Mitchell, a salvage worker in Vicksburg, some 200 miles north of Oxford, happened upon Brian’s message wrapped in a green bottle.  “I always look for stuff that’s unique — driftwood or anything . .” Little did he know that his find would turn into a lot more than anything.

Mitchell and his boss Brad Babb got to work in an attempt to find the author. They had their work cut out for them. Most of the letter had been destroyed so they reconstructed the remaining life in it with precious care: They stayed after work and they called local school districts and then they posted an image of the message and its contents on the company’s Facebook page.

That’s how the Dahl family was reunited with their son Brian, who passed away at the age of 29. Eric, wife Melanie and son Chris made the trek to Vicksburg to meet the people who had discovered the thirty-three year old message. And then Brian’s family shared stories of the man they knew with the people who had re-introduced them to the boy they loved.

A special meeting of new friends, made possible by a boy with a huge heart. One last hello, delivered from the grasp of oblivion to the future he never got to see but one he most certainly has touched, with words that never stopped breathing and a love that never stopped swimming. Billy Mitchell believes the note is proof that Brian is still here, keeping watch.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound.

 

 

We Never See It Coming

Back in the last breaths of the twentieth century, America met its future self.

The idea hit me like a Ball-peen hammer in a Mary Jane roll as I watched a documentary called Trainwreck: Woodstock ’99 on Netflix recently. It’s a three-part saga/doc/horror story about the failed third installment of the Woodstock Music Festival which took place in late summer of 1999.

The monster-piece theater known as Woodstock ’99 was supposed to be the generational equivalent of its predecessor. I guess? The original had served as graduation day for baby boomers intent on leaving behind a decade of tumult with three days of peace, love and a hard pass on hygiene. For one long, glorious weekend in 1969, America’s youth were able to zeitgeist the fuck out of their generational identity, with a residual patina that only grew more iconic with each passing decade. The fraternal order of long-haired freaky people shed their fringe at that musical binge. By the ’80’s, their mainstream was showing as the counter culture that once took on the establishment, became them.

There are times when history should be accorded a fresh coat of paint, and on the face of it, a Woodstock concert to close out the millennium was inspired.  Problem was, it was toting thirty years worth of the devil’s own luck into a three day getaway in upstate New York. The other problem was that it wasn’t held inside the plush rolling hills of a small farm but on fields of concrete that belonged to a former Air Force Base, in 100 degree temps. Oh, and it featured a bottomless cup of rage music. And did I mention how only months earlier, America had entered the Columbine Era, where all life’s problems are solved with threats and violence?

It begged the question: What could go right?

Michael Lang’s attempt to make America groovy again was nothing more than a shell game, selling sunlight in the middle of summer. It was obvious the man had long since traded in his bellbottoms for the bottom line of a wholly corporate venture dressed in great music. He got lucky the first time around, when a peaceful storming of the gates forced him to turn Woodstock into a free concert on the fly. And while he got soaked in the moment, he recouped his money and then some over time as a result of the legendary festival.

By 1994, Lang was ready to cash in on the Woodstock franchise by sticking a price tag on everything. His cash grab got some play in the national newspapers but Woodstock ’94 was by most accounts, a huge success. This gave Lang and his pals all the springboard they would need for a trilogy in Rome, New York.

The attendees of Woodstock ’99, along with the generation it represented, are approaching middle age now. And from the looks of it, they’re carrying the souvenirs of Rome with them. Because there is a huge segment of their population that is every bit as pissed off and disconnected as they were almost a quarter of a century ago. And what’s worse, they’ve got friends of every age, race, color, creed and political affiliation.

They exist inside an age where debate and dialogue have been replaced with vitriolic shouting matches. Consensus has been lost to the cult of personality, where each side has been conned into believing in hashtags and celebrity politicians at the expense of unity. Rights are no longer a dynamic of commonality but rather, a con perpetrated by special interest groups and power hungry individuals. Movements have become branded efforts, devoid of soul and compassion.

We never saw it coming back when Rome was burning in that Air Force parking lot inside the last breaths of the millennium. We never imagined our allegiances could become so fractured, but that’s what happens when a nation stops taking on the challenges to its union collectively and starts taking sides instead.

Fast forward to the present, where the vacuum at the highest reaches of our political system has led to a disgraced ruler who hangs on to his power through fear while his opponents stumble in spite of the huge target he has provided them. He wins his crowd over with raging anthems while enraging his opponents into a lather until the whole damn country is one big mosh pit.

His place in the national consciousness is either portent for another implausible run or the blueprint for some future candidate who also doesn’t give a fig about democracy. Because if we keep barreling down this highway, sooner or later that seat in the high castle is going to be compromised to such a degree that all the Founding Fathers won’t be able to put it back together again.

It’s how Rome fell.

The Rundown

Three large spiral galaxies float in space, surrounded by hundreds of other, more distant galaxies.

Gooooooooooood morning America . . . are you still out there?

It’s been another week in which our sublime inner selves got reduced in saucy front page headlines bordering (okay, totally exceeding) ridiculousness. The country, and really, the whole wide world, seems one big mess of a traveling circus; the likes of which would have had P.T. Barnum hauling our asses into court for infringing on his not so intellectual property.

Good thing we have more treats from the candy bag that is NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope. The above capture is from The Atlantic and it features something called the Cartwheel Galaxy. This masterpiece is a more finely complex spiral than anything Tom Brady can dream of cooking up. Alas, it lives more than 500 million light years from our front porch, which makes road tripping this magical place out of the question. But it’s okay, because it brings to mind Mark Twain’s crush on astronomy, in which he confessed he was a slave to its mysteries. He reveled in losing time to the primordial ocean above because it made him feel less confounded about the plight of humankind.

I do believe the stars speak the language of Twain. Bob Marley too.

Final shootout scene from Scarface except its Tony Montana vs 77 Seven Year Olds : r/whowouldwin

Oh God. Him again.

In a scene reminiscent of a really shitty action movie on Amazon Prime, FBI officials executed a search warrant on the Trump compound in Mar-a-Lago this week. They were after records and classified materials the former president took with him when he skipped town last January. Trump wasn’t in attendance for the ten-hour search party, so his mindless minions gathered outside as if it was ten cent wing night at Applebee’s. Because nothing says patriotism like waving flags and wearing merch that was made in China whilst defending a guy who incited a riot in our nation’s capitol . . .

Next up . . . Trump declares he’s running for president of Nicaragua!

Robert Pope: Guinness-fuelled man runs width of Ireland in a day - BBC News

Robert Pope is actually running for something that will make a positive difference. Nuts, right? Yeah, the guy decided he was going to run the width of Ireland-which is a majestically arduous 134 mile trek if you’re talking sneakers. And okay, so plenty of guys have made similar promises in pubs across the land of Joyce and Wilde and Beckett. After which they returned to their healthy pints and forgot all about it.

Not this 44 year old ultramarathoner, who made good on his promise in . . . are you sitting down? Twenty three hours; from Galway to Dublin with the goal of raising money for the World Wildlife Fund putting the wind in his sails. He drank a pint of Guinness before starting and then bent elbows with the locals for another one at the finish line.

That’s my kind of guy.

Dump the NFL Already! - Rampant Discourse

Once upon a time not so long ago, Deshaun Watson insisted he had nothing to hide and that he would never settle with the more than two dozen massage therapists who filed suit alleging he treated them like sex workers. And then he settled with most of them. After which he talked as if he was the one being victimized.

Then retired judge Sue Robinson- who had been brought in by the league to recommend his discipline- decided on a six-game suspension. Which is a slap in the wrist to Watson and a slap in the face to all the women involved in this sordid tale. But hey, she was following precedence after all. Because the NFL has a history of treating bad guys with velvet gloves. And then along came a deviant asshole quarterback and a woebegone franchise that was willing to hand him a quarter of a billion guaranteed dollars anyway . . and now Goodell and his bosses find religion. They’re vowing to make Watson sit out a year and the players are vowing to sue if they try it.

Stay tuned.

Reds vs. Cubs prediction: Odds and pick for 2022 Field of Dreams game in Iowa

The Field of Dreams game is the best idea the MLB has pitched (Pun Alert!) to the fans in a long time. Interleague play was simply an excuse for teams to jack up prices, and the universal DH hasn’t changed a thing. Iowa is different. The games feel important; the kind of important that used to breathe through transistor radios in the spring and summer before culminating in an operatic fall classic that captured the imagination of a rapt nation.

And while I’m no fan of the million and one uniforms most teams peddle on their shop sites, I have to admit I really love the vintage threads. Chicago’s baseball teams probably wouldn’t mind turning the clock back a hundred years, judging by their perfect record in Costner’s backyard. Hopefully the game is back after next year’s hiatus, because I’d love to see a wrong done right before the first pitch with an announcement that proves just how magical that cornfield in Iowa really is.

Put Shoeless Joe in the Hall of Fame

Vinyl Cool Sticker Funny Mickey Mouse Middle Finger Comics - Etsy

Disney+ has announced how it plans to celebrate now that it has surpassed rival Netflix, having clocked in with 221 million streaming customers. Mickey Mouse Inc. is going to be hiking prices come the end of the year (Just in time for Christmas!). The company cites production costs for the increase, and I believe it. But I also don’t care since I’m not a Disney fan. And I have to ask: Does this make me a communist? Or a person with common sense?

Russia bombs nuclear plant in Ukraine, sparks radiation fears - Rediff.com India News

Speaking of communists . . .

Russia is to nuclear reactors what the Kardashian girls are to love and romance. So the news that Russian forces went in hot in their takeover of a nuclear power plant in southeastern Ukraine should give the world pause. Putin’s idea is to bully/frighten all of his naysayers into submission with thoughts of the ultimate dirty bomb in the offing. I think we’ve given this guy too much leash for too long a period of time. But hey, dealing with bullies on the playground is much easier than dealing with bullies who have a nuclear arsenal at their disposal.

I wonder what The Expendables are up to?

And Imma tuck this week’s episode to sleep with definitive proof of life on other planets.

These other planets do not require a million lifetimes worth of navigation to reach them. They exist on every block of every street of every neighborhood of every town we call home. The stories might require some diligent research on our part, but I assure you, the wonders they provide will make you appreciate the time expended.

When Kaiden Shelton of Pearland, Texas lost control of a pitch to Isaiah Jarvis of Tulsa, Oklahoma, the crowd in Waco, Texas went silent. After Jarvis was able to not only brush it off, but continue playing, you could almost hear the collective sigh of relief that rippled through the stands. Excepting for Kaiden Shelton, who remained stuck on that runaway fastball as he struggled to regain his composure on the mound. When Jarvis became aware of this, he called timeout before walking over to his rival to offer him a hug.

And it was right then and there that another planet was discovered, right here on earth. A planet that was fat with hope and humanity and compassion; elements that are vitally important when it comes to life and living. Elements that we tend to lose sight of, even if they never stop showing up. And for the infinite shine those stars provide us?

I’d like to think we return the favor.

 

The Rundown

Stories You Should Know: Bill Russell in Game 7's - The Grueling Truth

Hard to believe we’re two thirds of the way through 2022, but hey, it means we are that much further removed from 2020. And okay, the spectacle of what 2024 might bring gets closer still. But maybe, just maybe, 2023 will be the best year ever? Please? Someone? Hear my prayer?

This week I’m talking legends.

Bill Russell didn’t have the the luxury of comparing himself to icons like Jackie Robinson. He was too busy paving roads that future generations of players would use to their great benefit. And it’s a common theme you hear from the greats who followed Russell that his example became their talisman- from Magic to Bird, Kobe to Shaq to Durant.

The greatness of the Boston Celtics was born on the day Russell came to town. He toted two collegiate rings to Beantown, after which he went 11-0 in NBA finals appearances (!). Add an Olympic gold medal to that Rushmore resume and you ain’t even scratched the surface of the life Bill Russell led.

In spite of all this, Russell was never embraced in a town that judged the color of his skin over the immense content of his character. This sad reality inspired him to remain a steadfast voice in the fight for equal rights, and he remained a civil rights advocate for more than half a century. Because he didn’t need to be the next Jackie Robinson.

He was the first Bill Russell.

French's® Debuts Limited-Edition Mustard Donuts in Celebration of National Mustard Day

I have put a lot of things in my mouth that I later regretted (I said that out loud, didn’t I?) but even I think French’s new mustard donut is a bridge too far. Hey look at that, I do have standard(s)!

Why Eric Clapton is still God | British GQ

The former President of Seinfeldania is still keeping late night talk show hosts well fed all this time later. He endorsed “Eric” in the Missouri primary race . . . and never mind that he didn’t specify exactly which Eric he was talking about. Because when did the details ever matter to this guy?

I put together a multiple choice quiz in order to find the right Eric and it is every bit as dumb as the guy who inspired it.

A) Eric Heiden- A five-time gold medal winner who became an orthopedic surgeon? He’s got my vote!
B) Erik Estrada- Come to think of it, Trump made no mention of spelling.
C) Eric Stoltz- I feel legally obligated to include him in any discussions about Erics based on the classic “Shot of Adrenaline” scene in Pulp Fiction.
D) Okay yeah, I know it’s not Clapton but I’m going with Clapton anyways.

And now for my Five Good Things . . .

Drew Bausman took his day on the job with UPS VERY seriously.

7 year old Drew Bausman’s dream of being a UPS driver was realized more than a decade ahead of schedule when some really good peeps made it happen. He was inspired by all that delivery traffic in the year of COVID, so he got his own uniform and a hot ride.

tiger | Facts, Information, Pictures, & Habitat | Britannica

The International Union for Conservation of Nature announced there are more tigers roaming in the wild than previously thought. Globally, we’re talking anywhere between 3,700 to 5,500 Bengal tigers. Which means humankind still has lots of work to do, because one look at these majestic creatures makes my whole day.

Ava Swiss is a survivor of the Oxford High School shooting that took four lives in Michigan last fall. And she’s making the most of her every day since, appearing on America’s Got Talent recently. (School Shooting Survivor Auditions For America’s Got Talent). And if this doesn’t bring a tear (or many) to your eyes, make an appointment to see an ophthalmologist, pronto.

Massiah Brown of Sacramento, California is seven going on Aquaman. When he spotted a three-year old boy sinking to the bottom of a pool, he lifted him to safety and a tragedy was averted. Superhero powers and those shades? The kid’s got style!

England vs Germany: Lionesses win first Women's EURO title in extra-time

The Lionesses Euro football tournament win is England’s first (male or female) title since 1966. The girls victory inspired something called “Football Rebooted” where cleats are donated to disadvantaged youths who dream of playing the game they love. How cool is that?

Juan Soto debuts for San Diego Padres; the Washington Nationals actually traded Soto... - Federal Baseball

I’m not talking about Deshaun Watson this week because Vin Scully’s passing and the Juan Soto signing matter more to yours truly. And hey . . . it’s my parking space.

First Soto.

The San Diego Padres became the center of the baseball universe this week when they pulled off the baseball equivalent of a lunar landing by trading for Juan Soto. The kid’s trajectory is squarely fixed on greatness and he’s only twenty-three. He makes an already formidable Padres lineup into something that steals a pitcher’s sleep. I tuned in for his first at bat in his new duds on Wednesday night and Imma be back for more. Because I love the idea of a small market team pushing all their chips to the center of the table and calling the bluff of the baseball establishment. This doesn’t make the Padres a sure thing, seeing as how super-teams have a sketchy track record. But what I do know is that a once woebegone franchise has announced its arrival at the high stakes table. In a market the Chargers left because they didn’t consider it big league enough.

I am there for that.

Vin Scully, legendary Dodgers announcer for 67 years, dies at age 94 - True Blue LA

Sixty-seven years. Vin Scully mastered his craft over that length of time as the voice of Dodgers games, providing a masterclass in how to call a baseball game. From sea to shining sea- Brooklyn USA to Los Angeles California- Scully was a fixture on summer nights, painting the scene in his uniquely classic style. Twelve presidents, four wars, a moon landing and the internet age all happened on his watch. He endured in an industry that has grown exponentially from the days of transistor radios, lapping his more educated peers by his insistence on letting the game do most of the talking. He didn’t rely on gimmicks when the game was the only thing that mattered.

From Don Larsen’s World Series perfect game in 1956 to all of Sandy Koufax’s no-hitters to Hank Aaron’s record breaking 715th home run that passed the Babe to the Mets improbable comeback in ’86 and Kirk Gibson’s one legged miracle shot two years later . . . Scully is indelibly attached.

In his final sign off back in 2016, Scully was his typically humble self as he spoke with that signature eloquence and grace we came to know and love. He confessed that he had always needed us more than we needed him.

I respectfully disagree.

 

The Rundown

Runners on an indoor track maneuver around a cameraman.

We got some relief from the furnace of Dante Alighieri’s worst plot this week, with temps easing up just a tad. This allowed yours truly to return to my road work, which I had announced my retirement from a couple months back. But hey, if Tom Brady can take it back, so can I. I’ve been on a low key running regimen for several weeks. It’s Easy Peasy Calabrese as she goes, but it still counts. And if you’re coo with leaving July behind in search of cooler pastures, check out Frank’s ode to August this coming Monday. Why he hasn’t been tabbed as the next skipper for the Cincinnati Reds yet . . I haven’t a clue.

The above photograph comes courtesy of The Atlantic and it inspires more questions than President Biden’s economic plan. This all went down last week at the men’s 3,000 meter steeplechase final in Eugene, Oregon. So I have a quick multiple choice quiz as to why in the holy ghost of Bruce Jenner this dude was crashing the party. Buena suerte!

A) He promised his mom he would take part in a World Championship race one day and this was the easiest way to keep the promise.
B) The new GPS app on his phone assured him he was at Wayback Burgers!
C) He’s blind. (That’s a photography joke).
D) He was supposed to be covering a women’s event and didn’t realize the men’s final was even going on when he happened onto the track.

The correct answer is of course, D. Which means this guy wouldn’t last five minutes as a pedestrian in Miami.

Let’s get to the roster . . . .

The life and legend of America's most famous wild horse

I’m a curious chap, so I scrolled back in history to find out how good we had it at the gas pumps back in a simpler time when all we had to worry about were terrorist attacks and waging wars with everybody else. Needless to say, I didn’t get very far . . .

2012- $3.60
2002- $1.12

I couldn’t get past the fact that we were paying less for a gallon of gas than I currently pay for a cheapie pretzel at my convenience store. One dollar and twelve cents per gallon? Are you fucking kidding me? So basically, when I filled up my tank (I’m talking a Dodge Ram pickup) in 2002, I still had plenty left to get a pack of smokes and some Starbucks. Whereas in present day, I would have to notify my financial advisor before doing such a thing. On a plus note, the above capture really could be my ride if gas prices continue to crunch my cojones. Her name will be Sally. Of course.

Shop - Forward Party

I don’t wanna be a (third) party pooper but this new political startup that calls itself The Forward Party is further out of serious contention than the Boston Red Sox. And no, that wasn’t a cheap shot aimed at a much needed change to our same old political structure. That was a cheap shot at the Red Sox.

Rescuers seek to warm and dry the osprey after its ordeal.

My next selection comes courtesy of the lovely Dale, who always brings the smiles with her stories. And this one is no different.

I say it all the time. The good stuff is always happening inside the quiet, far from the madding crowd of forgettable news gone wild. And so when an osprey got caught up in an angler’s line off an island in Brisbane, Australia recently, it took a full court press of compassion to rescue him. So it was that surfers and anglers teamed up to make sure this story would have a happy ending.

It was a long and not so easy process and it resulted in some of the rescuers getting their hands and arms scratched up but good by the desperate creature. Thing is, this group wasn’t going to take tragedy for an answer. And in the end they were able to extricate the bird from the tangle and deliver it to shore.

The catch of the day: Kindness always wins.

Greenland's ice is melting faster than it has in 350 years—what it means

As with most issues that beset humankind, results usually get tucked into a right and wrong sandwich. Whether you believe that climate change will change the way the next generation lives or not, you have to admit that what’s going on in Greenland this summer bears watching.

Over three days in the middle of July, an ice melt resulted in more than 6 billion tons of water being released into the ocean. That’s enough to cover the entire state of West Virginia in a foot of water. Research scientists were walking around in t-shirts as temps reached 60 degrees and now they’re wondering if the 2019 record ice melt might soon have company.

We don’t have to worry about the island of Manhattan being submerged in water. And we don’t have to worry about how farmers are going to be affected adversely, which will in turn affect our food supply. And we don’t have to worry about more power outages and flooding and a scarcity of potable water . . .

But we should.

Since nobody won the Mega Million lottery draw this week, the new jackpot has ballooned to over $1 billion tacos. It’s probably a good thing I didn’t win since I would have blown all of it on a once in a lifetime wager: I would’ve bet everything that Trump will end up behind bars. And while common sense and a mountain of facts are on my side, I fear I might have somehow lost that bet.

Our nation’s capitol had a visitor we can all rally behind when a statue of the legendary aviator Amelia Earhart was unveiled this week. And for bonus points, Congress members didn’t have to run for cover as a result! Kansas Governor Laura Kelly was there for the event.

“Amelia was a dreamer. Her dreams went far beyond the banks of [the Missouri] river and far beyond the prescribed gender roles of her time,” Kelly said. “Let it be an inspiration for all, particularly our young girls, for generations to come. Let them stare up at this work of art and think that they, like Amelia, can dream the impossible dream.”

If we’re gonna talk patriots, I’ll take Amelia.

The Circle' Season 2 Teases Contestant Lance Bass in New Trailer

My streaming diet wasn’t quite so FUBAR this week. For every episode of Snowflake Mountain, I returned volley with a slightly smarter reply like D.B. Cooper: Where Are You? When I went with Nailed It!, I lobbed in a George Carlin doc (Thank you Resa!) And my in between was the social experiment show, The Circle, which has given me a new appreciation for social media. And with Lance Bass joining the circle (?), I’m loving season 2 even more than the first one.

It’s the little things . . .

The Rundown

Fans line a mountain road, cheering as cyclists ride past.

It’s summertime, and the living has been anything but easy. We’re getting mugged at gas pumps and grocery stores, lied to on most cable news outlets and all we have to show for it is a lousy t-shirt we scored on Amazon during their Prime Days Sale! (?). Thanks to Jeff Bezo’s General Store, I was able to procure a t-shirt which reads “Don’t Blame Me, I Voted For Lincoln!”.

The above image is from the 109th edition of the Tour De France, which I honestly thought had been canceled for good since they still insist on doping tests. These guys are schlepping 2,068 miles over 23 days and hell if I wouldn’t be doping just to get through that! I’d also be slathering myself in Preparation H. But no, I wouldn’t be hanging out with Lance Armstrong, who is a Hall of Fame cyclist but also an asshat.

Anyways, let’s get to the show . . . .

 

Frank “Beach Walks” Angle hits one out of the yard with this Steve Hartman feel good story about an extended family of a different kind.

In January of 2021, Gean LeVar of Glendale, Arizona lost her husband of fifty-eight years. As if that wasn’t bad enough, when police entered her home they found the conditions so bad, they were forced to condemn it. So in the space of twenty-four hours, Gean lost everything.

Her neighbor, Carmen Silva, made sure she got it back. Even though she barely knew LeVar, the mother of eight opened her home up to her. It didn’t matter that the family’s own living arrangements were cramped, what with eight kids and three bedrooms because as she says, “I’ve always taught my kids to take care of their elders,”.

When the non-profit group Operation Enduring Gratitude heard about LeVar’s story, they decided to renovate her old house. And so now, she has two homes where once she had none. And she plans to share it with the Silvas.

Gratitude is a currency all its own.

NFL launches 2020 season with It Takes All of Us

I want every member of the NFLPA who is defending Deshaun Watson to come forward so that we can ask them why. We have to ask them why they insist on standing behind a guy who went through scores of massage therapists. We have to ask them why they take his word over every single one of those sixty-six women (that we know of). We have to ask them why they agree to wear helmets that preach to us about righteous behavior while they are plenty fine with their members doing the opposite.

Personally, I want the league to stop pretending they give a shit about women’s rights. Because when you’re okay with giving abusers chance after chance after chance, it’s your actions that matter more than anything you say. The league and its members have to be put on notice.

If not now, when?

The lovely Dale has some goodness cooking up her fine self with this video story.

Khao Yai National Park in Thailand was the scene of a beautiful human effort that you probably didn’t see on the cable news outlets because there probably wasn’t room for it. Even though there should have been room for it, because these kinds of stories shouldn’t have to be scrolled down to or tucked into the last sixty second of a broadcast.

When a baby elephant fell into a drainage ditch, her panic stricken mother blacked out as a result. A team of veterinarians, park officials and volunteers were able to pull baby to safety and also administer CPR to mom. Both elephants were able to walk away from the ordeal thanks to a special group of people whose story is front page news.

To me.

BBC Three - Sexy Beasts

If my streaming diet was actual food? My ass would be in the hospital right about now. I’d blame my dealer- I’ll call him Phil because that’s his name- for turning me on to one mindless reality show after the other, but I didn’t have to buy his shit.

The nadir- for this week- is a Netflix show called Sexy Beasts. The premise of this dating show is to dress singles up in prosthetic masks before meeting in order to “find love purely based on personality“. Phil referred to the show as a “palette cleanser” I could use after having binge watched The Circle and Love is Blind.

Do they have support groups for this kind of habit?

1920s metal and glass Gas Price Sign with changeable prices.

A hundred years ago, you think peeps bitched and moaned about gas prices? I mean, I’m sure they did, because twenty-five cents a gallon to them, well . . . that was no joke. Still, it just feels so cute to me from our current vantage point.  And to those of you who might be wondering, my (imaginary) wild mustang is doing splendidly!

 

 

 

The Rundown

Remember Kids Let the Drunk Adults Handle the Fireworks Funny | Etsy Singapore

It’s the Cafe con Leche edition of The Rundown and Imma dish up a few stories that I missed the boat on last time out. I’d like to thank Cincy “Beach Walks” Angle for providing me with his fastball out of the bullpen with his ode to July. I was going to surprise him with World Series tickets if his club made it to October, but I guess thank you is gonna have to suffice.

This episode is not taking the place of our regularly scheduled programming come Friday, kids. This here is what they call extra time in the beautiful game.

Vamos a jugar!

The Story of a Voice: HAL in '2001' Wasn't Always So Eerily Calm - The New York Times

A story that got left in my green room last time involved Google engineer Blake Lemoine, who was placed on paid leave by the company for what they deemed “aggressive moves” in violation of company policy. The company took umbrage with Lemoine for hiring a lawyer to represent the dialogue application chatbot that he’s been tooling around with in the Google garage. They also ain’t too happy about his claims that the artificial intelligence ain’t so artificial. Blake insists this chatbot has the emotional and intellectual capacity of “a seven-year-old, eight-year-old kid that happens to know physics,”. Lemoine also published transcripts of conversations he had with a collaborator and the chatbot. And he sent an email about all of this to over 200 Google employees.

Google denies the veteran engineer’s claims that the company’s artificial intelligence has become sentient, and this was the point in the article where I went “Oh shit! So it IS true!” I know Ray Bradbury would agree with me on this.

Too Hot to Handle (TV Series 2020– ) - IMDb

I was doing really well with my streaming consumption, really . . . I was. And then a friend of mine told me about the Netflix show Too Hot To Handle and welp, I wish I would have taken up pot instead because it kills less brain cells than this scantily clad theater of the absurd. I would tell you the plot of the show, if there was one. And while I did purchase some credits with the likes of Tokyo Vice and Midnight Mass, I fear that my carbon footprint is shit for.

Who is Cassidy Hutchinson? Former Trump aide will be key witness at Jan. 6 hearing.

I believed Cassidy Hutchinson when she testified as to then President Trump’s behavior on January 6th because it’s exactly what Trump would do. It’s what he has always done . . . behaving like a big, fat petulant child when he doesn’t get his way. He was hell bent on being with his peeps when their dollar store brigade stormed the Capitol building. He was plenty fine with the armed crazies because he knew they weren’t there to cause him any harm. And the fact that he is a part of any conversation involving the 2024 Presidential election is an indictment on our society.

It’s shameful.

Curious 'Jetsons' home hits Tulsa market – KIRO 7 News Seattle

Times are so tough, even the Jetsons have put their home on the market. The space age family’s royalties checks have basically dried up now that assholes like me prefer television fare with the nutritional value of deep-fried butter. The two bedroom, three bathroom home in Tulsa, Oklahoma features a sweet view of the city skyline, but if you’re looking for extra closet space you’re out of luck. If you watched the sixties animated sitcom, then you are well aware that the Jetsons could have fit their wardrobe in a single Rubbermaid container.

The Karennite view on masks and abortion in a nutshell | /r/FuckYouKaren | Karen | Know Your Meme

The Supreme Court is providing the kind of overreach that conservatives would be screaming foul over if the scripts were flipped. They overturned Roe in May. They rolled back EPA authority to fight climate change. And last Thursday they ruled that law abiding Americans have a right to carry a handgun outside the home for self-defense. Oh, and through a series of recent decisions, church and state are in the canoodling phase.

Our states couldn’t be less united.

It seems as if this country has endured a series of reckonings since the turn of the millennium and it’s really easy to believe the worst is yet to come. And while I would love to end this holiday episode on a more triumphant note, I’ll keep it real enough by providing a favorite passage from Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. 

My kind of loyalty was loyalty to one’s country, not to its institutions or its officeholders. The country is the real thing, the substantial thing, the eternal thing; it is the thing to watch over, and care for, and be loyal to; institutions are extraneous, they are its mere clothing, and clothing can wear out, become ragged, cease to be comfortable, cease to protect the body from winter, disease, and death . . .

I second that emotion.

The walk off song for this week happens to be the best rendition of the Star Spangled Banner I’ve ever heard. And I guess there’s some kind of positive message kicking its way out of this bramble bush of a post, because when I hit on this Whitney Houston classic . . . I knew the answers well enough.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Rundown

A person runs through a pile of burning embers.

The above image (Courtesy of The Atlantic) is a ritual conducted during the Baikho festival at Gamerimura village, along the Assam Meghalaya border in India. A tribal priest runs barefoot through burning embers in order to show his devotion to God with the only rule being, don’t fall.

Um, not for nothing bub but here in the states, we toss the fireworks into the air. And while I’m not the biggest fan of fireworks, our ritual sure as hell beats putting your dogs through literal hell. Just saying.

Let’s get to the lineup . . . .

Deshaun Watson responds to report he had 66 different massage therapists

The Deshaun Watson saga is seedy cinema at its worst: It has lies, deceit, cover ups and celebrity privilege. Because if you think Deshaun Watson- Payless shoe store manager- is skating on the now twenty-four lawsuits alleging sexual assault and misconduct against him, you ain’t been paying attention. There is still the matter of when he will take the field as a newly minted $230 million dollar quarterback, and here’s hoping Watson gets to sit on the bench for an entire season. After which the league best go after the Houston Texans officials who behaved like pimps in creating a criminally complicit crib for their man. This story gets uglier every day, and sadly, more predictable as well.

Brooklyn firefighter Stefon Douglas was on his way home last Sunday when the fates penciled him into the lineup. Douglas came upon a house fire and he jumped into action, retrieving the breathing apparatus he had in his car from a school presentation he had conducted recently. Without hesitation, he moved into the burning building in his t-shirt, shorts and crocs, and while he wasn’t exactly dressed for the job, he was most certainly made for it.

Within minutes, Douglas had saved a three-year old girl and her mother. He says becoming a fireman was the best decision he ever made. Because of his heroism, I get to end this story with a nod to great literature and even greater men.

Thanks to Douglas, a family tree was saved in Brooklyn.

Top Gun: Maverick IMAX Poster Released

I wasn’t a fan of the original Top Gun movie, but the thirty-six year in the making(!) sequel is a completely ‘nother story. I saw it in IMAX, and I think I lost a few pounds every time Tom Cruise rolled a high number with the G’s. The casting is perfect and while the plot is cream cheesy, who cares when it’s being dished up at Mach 10!

APOPO- Hero Rats

Humanity has often been referred to as a rat race, and there’s a place in this world where the term is being used for good. No, I’m being serious! (For now).

Meet Dr. Donna Kean, a research scientist from Glasgow, Scotland, whose team is harnessing the power of the rat. They’re currently training them to help locate survivors trapped in the rubble of earthquakes. The rats are equipped with microphones and a tracking sensor. They’re nimble, diligent and quick learners and yanno, the more I read about these guys, the more I see the future of a Walmart workforce.

The hero rats are also being trained to detect land mines, and it seems like they’re a natural for this dangerous work. The more I read about these guys, the more I see the future of Congress too . . .

Muchas gracias to Dale for this really coot rat’s tail. I mean tale.

Both.

Michael Caine insists WWII was 'one of the best things' to happen to him | Metro News

Jeopardy! contestant Mazin Omer was chugging right along until he questioned an answer with epic fail-icity (Dear Merriam Webster, this is your free word, and you’re welcome). Omer was asked to identify the image above and he went with rock and roller Mick Jagger. What in the blessed fig pie was this guy thinking? It’s Morgan Freeman!

Welp, that’s a wrap for this week. Apologies to the Dow for not making it out of the Green Room for this week’s episode. That’s what happens when you drop harder than Steven Seagal on a trampoline.

Until next week, this is your host for The Rundown saying good night and good luck?

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