Today in 1908, President Roosevelt — affectionately known as Teddy — declared the Grand Canyon a national monument. The big, gaping chasm still awaits my first glimpse, other than as seen from a plane at 30,000 feet. I gotta do something about filling that hole in my travel resume . . .
- Picked all four NFL winners over the weekend, to some fun but absolutely no profit. If I heard this right, it’s the first time all four visiting teams won on wild-card weekend. Of course, Seattle had to rally like crazy and then lucked out when Minnesota Vikings kicker Blair Walsh gagged a 27-yarder at the wire after kicking three earlier field goals in the sub-zero chill. The drama (and pressure) of sports, man. It gets in your head, no matter if you’re an All-Pro (as Walsh was as a rookie in 2012) or what. Walsh is a fourth-year kicker out of Georgia. He’s been there before. But still . . . His irony is that the Vikings wouldn’t have been in position to win Sunday without him, and then they ultimately couldn’t win with him. Life’s a bitch. He’ll bounce back, I reckon, but the thud of a season going bust like that is consuming and surreal.
- I didn’t see this, but former Vikings coach Bud Grant, who’s 88, doffed his jacket and went to midfield for the ceremonial coin toss in a polo shirt. That’s awesome, assuming he isn’t dead today from that whole macho exhibition. Grant famously never let his teams use sideline heaters. Back in the day, coaches usually didn’t allow water breaks even in summer practices, either. Nutty. I’m thinking Teddy Roosevelt wouldn’t let his riding party bring canteens on their moose hunts or whatever. I’ll have to look that up.
- David Bowie, dead at 69. I wasn’t a big fan, even though he was huuuge in Philly when I was growing up, but I did appreciate his longevity, the respect he enjoyed from his peers and followers, and his flaming independence. There is a vocals-only recording out there of Bowie and Freddie Mercury making “Under Pressure” — actually, it’s right here. It’s pretty impressive, I gotta say. The weirdest “Little Drummer Boy” duet tandem in history (Bowie and Bing Crosby in 1977, which also actually is pretty good) can commence its heavenly encore. Hmm, maybe I liked David Bowie more than I knew.
- Ricky Gervais at the Golden Globes. Meh. Oy vey with the award shows. So tedious and self-important. And anyway, when did they become extreme celebrity roasts of very questionable taste? Talk about jumped sharks . . .
- Seriously, Jordan Spieth, who only won a record $22 million on the PGA Tour last year, is Tiger Woods without the crazy father and Supreme Being complex. When Spieth doesn’t win a tournament – hell, when he simply mishits a shot slightly or misses a putt – it is stunning. The 22-year-old Texan rolled to an eight-shot victory Sunday in Maui over a field of last year’s tournament winners. It’s unbelievable to think, but incredible talents like Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Dustin Johnson are in danger of becoming to Spieth what Ernie Els (and others) was to Woods – great foils dwarfed by a daunting shadow.
- It’s taken me a while to come around on this, but I’m with you people now. Sean Penn is just a loon. An annoying one at that.
- Tonight, Alabama beats Clemson. Nick Saban, winner of four previous college football championships, gets his one for the thumb. Ring, that is. Saban once made a Miami Dolphin cry. He’s a baaaad man.