Holy Mother-of-What-the-Hell, you guys? So much insane stuff happened this week, it would be futile of me to try and pick just one thing to condense into a single column.
See, I have the kind of attention span that wavers between super-focused and “OH LOOK A BUTTERFLY” at the drop of a dime, which is why I never really know what I’m going to write about until the moment I prop my busted iPad keyboard up against a hardcover copy of “The Canterbury Tales,” and also why some days I find dominoes in my rolled-up socks.
So, these are the three bits of recent news that most often strafed my caffeine-addled brain this past week.
The Presumptive GOP Nominee Refuses to Condemn the Friggin’ KKK
You’ve all surely seen or heard about this by now. KKK leader David Duke, who is somehow still allowed to walk around without his lips held together by court-ordered Gorilla Glue, recently said that not voting for Trump was “a vote against your heritage.” Of course, by “heritage” he meant “white heritage,” which is really not a thing, and by “your” he meant “the hate-filled troglodytes who still listen to me.”
In a recent interview, Trump was asked about the comments, and whether or not he would speak out and condemn them, Duke and the KKK. Bewilderingly, he repeatedly asserted that he would need “more information” about the group in question before making any sort of judgement or assertation about them, despite the host all but screaming at him “KKK! K! K! K!”
Trump would later blame his response on a faulty earpiece, which is kind of insane, since he heard the rest of the questions perfectly well, not to mention the entirety of question in question, except for the word “KKK.” The fact that this seems to be helping, not hurting, his numbers in Southern states is just too on-the-nose depressing to even joke about.
Conor McGregor Is Moving up Two Weight Classes for Funsies
It’s kind of impossible to state how popular a fighter Conor McGregor is right now, or how much of a cash cow he’s been for the UFC. And while many detractors still can’t stomach his outlandish boasts and personality, there’s no arguing that he hasn’t backed up every single word he’s said. Since debuting, he’s run roughshod over the featherweight division, KOing every opponent save Max Holloway, who he still beat despite a torn ACL. After nearly a year of build-up, he knocked out long-reigning champion Jose Aldo in a ridiculous 13 seconds.
He wants to be a legend, and he’s well on his way. Almost immediately after defeating Aldo, he stated his intention to move up to 155 pounds and straight-away challenge Rafael dos Anjos, a one-man wrecking crew who had defeated Ben Henderson, Anthony Pettis and Donald Cerrone for the lightweight title, a wish that the UFC brass granted him. With a win, McGregor would become the first fighter in UFC history to hold two belts in two different weight classes at the same time.
Unfortunately, dos Anjos suffered a broken foot in training. Fortunately, McGregor long ago ran out of f***s to give, and essentially put out an open challenge, promising he’d stay on the bill. Even more fortunately, the UFC found the only other man in the company with even fewer f***s to give: Nate Diaz, the Stockton-born, mean-mugging jiu-jitsu ace with a massive wingspan and tight boxing skills. Due to the short notice, the fight is going to take place at welterweight, a full 25 pounds over McGregor’s usual fighting weight, and 15 pounds over Diaz’s.
The dos Anjos fight may still happen down the road, and carries more historical significance. This… this is pure, unadulterated cotton candy for the fight fan’s soul. And I may actually buy it.
The Oscars Happened. The Oscars Happened So Hard.
Man oh man, the only thing more awkward than Chris Rock’s opening monologue at the Oscars was watching the mostly WASP-ish audience try to figure out whether or not they should be applauding and laughing.
And I’m glad for it; the ceremony was going to have the #OscarsSoWhite controversy hanging over it whether or not the producers decided to address it or not, but this was far and away the better option. And while one or two of his jokes were off the mark — “Nobody protested the Oscars back in the ‘60s because they had actual problems to protest!” was particularly head-scratching, what with Flint, the multiple shootings of young black men, etc. — Rock took the Academy, its members and its constituents to task, while still performing ably as an emcee.
As a young white man, I’m not really qualified to speak on that, though, and I’m even less qualified to assess the impact, background, subtext and reflection of society that the Lady Gaga/Diane Warren song “Til it Happens to You” addresses. I can say, from a standpoint of social justice, that the song is absolutely delivered in a typically powerhouse manner by Gaga both in recorded and live performances. But the song is successful because of the dire social injustices and conditions that gave inspiration to its very composition, and doesn’t really stand on its own merits. Warren is one of the most famously milquetoast songwriters in modern history, which probably explains why she’s won so many major awards, and this one fairs no better. For sure, it wasn’t any worse than the other two performed nominees, though. So… win-win?
Other brief notes: it’s good that George Miller didn’t win Best Director for “Mad Max: Fury Road,” because his response is probably going to be an even more ball-explodingly awesome sequel. Leonardo DiCaprio finally won an Oscar, so now we can all start talking about how Michael Fassbender hasn’t won one. Sylvester Stallone is going to have to dig even deeper into his reboot bag to score an unofficial “Thanks for all the Fish” Oscar (maybe a “Cobra” remake?).