Book 17 (of 52) – Football For A Buck

Football for a Buck: The Crazy Rise and Crazier Demise of the USFL – Jeff Pearlman

Originally conceived in 1965, the United States Football League finally took shape in 1982, taking the field for the first time in the spring of 1983.  While not a huge success, the fledgling league showed promise.  For the 1984 season, the league, unwisely, expanded and brought in new ownership, including a young, brash real estate developer from New York named Donald Trump.  Angling for a merger with the NFL, Trump pushed the USFL to abandon the concept of spring football and, following that second season, the league announced that it would move its schedule to the fall and take the NFL on head-to-head.  Following a lame duck season in the spring of 1985, the future of the USFL depended on the vision of Donald Trump and the outcome of a lawsuit he thought would pave the way to NFL riches.

Even if you have never heard of the USFL, if you’ve lived through the past 5-6 years of American history, you can imagine how this turned out.  The NFL’s lawyers used Trump’s general unlikability and inability to be truthful against him.  When the dust settled, the USFL did indeed win their lawsuit against the NFL. with damages assessed at $1.  The league had followed Donald Trump into the abyss and, as a result, was out of business after only 4 years.

Jeff Pearlman recaps the strange experience that was the USFL in Football for a Buck.  The players, a mixture of over-the-hill NFL pros looking for one last chance, college players who couldn’t quite make it at that next level, and actual college star who were showered with money in an attempt to legitimatize the upstart league, joined a motley crew of owners, many of whom were not fully vetted and did not actually have the funds necessary to run a franchise, to make an entertaining product in hindsight, even if they didn’t get the full recognition at the time.  The parallels between Trump’s actions as the ringleader of the USFL’s destruction and his actions as president are uncanny.  All told, the story of the USFL is one that deserved to be told, and Pearlman does an admirable job in doing so.


iTunes Top 200 Artists: #131-140

It’s been 4 years since we last counted down the Top 200 artists in my iTunes library.  Since my iTunes stats are still intact, across multiple PCs, iPods, iPads, and iPhones, I figured it was time to take another look at the artists that have entertained me the most based on number of plays from late 2007 through January 1, 2021.

We continue today with our next batch of 10 artists, the remaining 1 tied for 140th place, 3 tied for137th, 4 tied for 133rd, and the 2 tied for 131st.  Our newcomers are back, with 2 artists making their debut this week.

#140: 2Pac
iTunes stats: 60 plays
Previous ranking: #129

The slain rapper, whose murder remains unsolved after 24 years, picked up 26 new listens while dropping 11 spots.

#137: Lily Allen
iTunes stats: 61 plays
Previous ranking: #129

The English chartreuse, who played a funny part in my roadtrip to Disney World back in 2016, falls 8 spots despite 27 new plays for the 27 songs in my collection, although only 3 of those songs make up her total.

#137: Ice Cube
iTunes stats: 61 plays
Previous ranking: #145

A 29 play increase for the former NWA rapper who went from Fuck Tha Police to trying to curry favor with the Trump administration.

#137: Styx
iTunes stats: 61 plays
Previous ranking: #113

A 24 spot drop for the local outfit, who, thanks to the departure of Chris Sale from the White Sox, no longer get played as often.

#133: Led Zeppelin
iTunes stats: 62 plays
Previous ranking: #145

The quintessential rock band of the 1970s and noted musical thieves move up 12 spots thanks to 30 new listens, a 94% increase.

#133: The Police
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Fitbit Year 6

year ago, I set a goal of 2,730,000 steps, an average of 7500 steps per day. Thanks to the corona virus becoming a concern in March and the complete abdication of responsibility for managing the pandemic by the Trump administration that led to much of the country still being shut down today, I fell quite a bit short of my challenge, finishing more than a million steps behind with only 1,711,727, the second straight year I’ve failed to surpass my yearly goal for the only times since 2014 under the old GlobalFit program. My average step total per week was 32,917.83, which comes out to about 4702.5 per day. The median weekly total was 31,765.  My best week was Week 27, where a concerted effort to get out during the summer propelled me close over to 56,000 steps for the week.  My worst week was Week 49, the dreaded down week between Christmas and New Year’s.

For the upcoming year, I’m going to keep things as is, in the hopes that I can finally reverse this downward trend. I am leaving my goal for steps per day at 7500, which would again bring me to a yearly total of 2,730,000 steps. Hopefully the third attempt, now that I’ve got this WFH thing down pat, is the one that sticks.

A Deal Is Made

Less than 12 hours before the first pitch of the 2020 season for the Cubs, the Marquee Network showed up on Comcast systems in the Chicago area, signaling a carriage deal had finally been reached.  Crane Kenney, president of business operations for the Cubs, confirmed a multiyear deal in multiple media interviews yesterday, but details were not disclosed and Comcast has yet to release a statement.  It’s still unclear how much Comcast will charge subscribers for the addition of Marquee to their service.

In related news, Sinclair Broadcasting, the partner of the Cubs in the Marquee Network, is using their local television stations to push a conspiracy theory this weekend that suggests Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top expert on infectious diseases in the US, was responsible for the creation of the corona virus.  Between the Ricketts family’s relationship with Donald Trump and their dealings with Sinclair, it is getting harder and harder to support the organization.

Book 20 (of 52) – The Daily Show: An Oral History

The Daily Show (The Book): An Oral History – Chris Smith

On December 17, 1998, Craig Kilbon signed off from The Daily Show for the last time.  The following January, a new host, looking to bounce back after a failed late night talk show earlier in his career, took over.  16 years later, Jon Stewart said goodbye, changing the face of the show, and late night television, forever.  For this history of Stewart’s time with the show, Chris Smith interviews Stewart, the correspondents, writers, producers, and guests that turned a late night spoof in to an Emmy-award winning juggernaut that is the longest running program in Comedy Central’s history.

The history of the show covers all of the big news stories of the 21st century, from the disputed presidential election in 2000, to the 9/11 attacks, to the election of Barack Obama in 2008 and the rise of Donald Trump as a serious(?) candidate in 2015.  Smith gets stories from all of the contributors over the years, minus, of course, Kilborn.

I was a fan of the show when it first premiered with Kilborn.  When Stewart took over, I was just out of college and had lost track of the show, but eventually came back to it for the last few years.  The spirit of the show lives on, with John Oliver and Samantha Bee doing similar shows on a weekly basis and, of course, Trevor Noah continuing the flagship.


2017 Emmy Awards – Comedy

Emmy_statueWith the Emmy Awards scheduled for Sunday night, here are my predictions for the awards for Comedy shows.  I most likely have seen most of these shows, so, unlike my annual Oscar predictions, I will not mostly be going on gut feel and word of mouth, but will have a somewhat informed decision.

Outstanding Comedy



Master of None

Modern Family

Silicon Valley

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt


Veep has won for the past two years and would seem to be a good choice to three-peat, so I’ll go with that.

Outstanding Actress In A Comedy

Pamela Adlon, Better Things

Jane Fonda, Grace and Frankie

Allison Janney, Mom

Ellie Kemper, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep

Tracee Ellis Ross, Black-ish

Lily Tomlin, Grace and Frankie

Julia Louis-Dreyfus won this award the past four years, and I see no reason why she won’t repeat again this year.

Outstanding Actor In A Comedy

Anthony Anderson, Black-ish

Aziz Ansari, Master of None

Zach Galifianakis, Baskets

Donald Glover, Atlanta

William H. Macy, Shameless

Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent

Jeffrey Tambor brought home the award the past two years for his gender-bending role on Amazon’s hit series, but I’m going to go out on a limb and go with Donald Glover.

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