179. Resodding of the soul

It’s been eight months, and he can’t remember her tattoo.  

The shovel sinks into the topsoil and carves out another load for the wheelbarrow. Sweat runs down his neck and shoulders in rivulets, pooling in the fingers of his gloves. He’s about to make his 23rd trip from the neat, chest-high stack of dirt to the sallow oval patch of land behind the house, but he’s forgotten that too.

He can feel the morning’s work settle in his lower back as he lifts the handles of the full barrow. The path to the dead ground runs a wide half-circle around the house, about a quarter-mile across good grass, so he’s careful not to travel it the same way twice with his work boots.

It was cursive, he thinks, some sort of platitude about trust or conviction that belied her fierce independence and sense of free thought. If there was a drop of cynicism in her, it would’ve been ironic.

“Believe”? No, it was a phrase, he’s certain.

He tilts the barrow up, and loose mahogany shakes into the trenches he dug out the weekend before. This used to be a garden, years before he owned the land. An impressive one, given its dimensions.

He imagines a beautiful redhead in a broad sun hat carefully toeing through rows of marigolds and orchids. She’s cooing to the plants, whispering in French, chastising the runts of the crop as she waters them.

Pourquoi ne pas vous cultivez, petite fleur?

He peels off the gloves and drops them in a wet pile. As he steers the empty barrow back to the dirt pile, he can feel exactly where the blisters will begin to form, and he welcomes them.

Under the midday sun, curiosity melts into mild frustration. He used to trace the words across the curve of her stomach when they laid in bed together. But when he tries to picture it now, the words are in a language he can’t read.

“I Shall Not Be In Want”? Six words is too long, he thinks, but it makes a thoughtful Psalm.

He believed in God like he believed in her, and when it all ground to a halt and she moved back East, he didn’t know which one deserved more blame.

The empty return trip goes a little faster, and soon he’s stabbing, leveraging, heaving again. The muscles in his forearms tense and release like bowstrings. An icy daydream of a beer and a good book cuts through, but he pushes it aside. Civilize the mind, but make savage the body. Dig, scoop, dump.

Before the end of the night, he’ll line the patch with chicken wire to keep the dogs away from the baby seeds until they sprout. When the leaves turn, the green will conquer the yellow, and the lawn will look uniform and pristine, like nothing had ever happened.

Who’s reading the tattoo now? he wonders, surprising himself with bitterness.

But then the blade catches the sun on its way back into the dirt, all the way to the shoulder, and he wipes his brow with a dirty forearm and puts another shovelful behind him, and he feels nothing at all.

178. The definitive Bond theme rankings

A little more than a month ago, I ranked every Bond movie. Now I’m doing it with Bond theme songs.  

It sounds like Sam Smith is slated to sing the Spectre theme song. I’m fine with that. Dude’s English, he’s got pipes, and Adele’s iteration was so successful that it was pretty much predetermined they would pick another soulful singer-songwriter.a

But before his song is added to the canon, here’s a look at his predecessors. There’s a wide gulf in quality, and honestly, probably more than half of the Bond themes suck. I’m ranking them anyway.

For this exercise, I’m excluding Monty Norman’s untouchable Bond theme, which served as the de facto lead melody for Dr. No.b I still hum it to myself when executing a harrowing pass on the interstate or sneaking to my desk 15 minutes late. It’s ingrained in my DNA forever.

1. Live And Let Die – Paul McCartney, Wings
Simply everything you could want in a Bond theme, plus piccolos

2. Nobody Does It Better – Carly Simon
She could’ve easily tipped the scales into mawkishness, but she knew when to rein it in, and the result is a pop masterpiece.

3. We Have All The Time In The World – Louis Armstrong
I’m picking this over the all-instrumental OHMSS theme. This is so beautiful it transcends Bond.

4. You Know My Name – Chris Cornell
“I’ve seen angels fall from blinding heights / But you yourself are nothing so divine” just seconds after Bond smashes a thug’s face through porcelain and almost drowns him in a sink. Sorry, Pierce; thisis My Bond.

5. Another Way To Die – Jack White and Alecia Keysc
I remain bullish on Quantum of Solace, but it doesn’t belong in the uppermost tier of Bond films. This song is arguably its best addition to the canon. Just enough fuzz.

6. Goldfinger – Shirley Bassey
Time has been unkind to two aspects of the Connerys — the action choreography and the songs. This one holds up best becauseGoldfinger remains so relevant that it could be a 1960s period piece made today, and Bassey’s theme clings to it with so much devotion.

7. Diamonds Are Forever – Shirley Bassey
This movie reminds me of four things, listed here in increasing order of importance:
1) Two villainous gay lovers who murder people with scorpions
2) The name Tiffany Case lol
3) Sean Connery’s preposterous hairpiece
4) This. Forever, foreva eva, foreva eva?

8. Skyfall – Adele
I don’t even really like this song… But it won an Oscar, so whatever.

9. You Only Live Twice – Nancy Sinatra
In the early 1960s, Nancy Sinatra was a very attractive woman. That is all.

10. The Living Daylights – a-ha
Now we start getting into the, uh, weirder ones.

11. From Russia With Love – Matt Munro
Sounds like what standing in a bread line in Novosibirsk must have felt like. Long, inaccessible, mercifully in the past, but oddly charming in a glad-I-didn’t-have-to-live-it way.

12. A View To  A Kill – Duran Duran
This works in the sense that it sounds both like a Bond theme and a Duran Duran song. I’m not sure I know why they want me to “dance into the fire,” but considering how derivative the actual movie was, I shouldn’t complain about such frivolous things as lyrics.

13. Thunderball – Tom Jones
The premise of this song is built on a series of lyrical comparisons between Bond and other men, and right from the start it’s easy to see why this is a dumb idea — “He always runs while others walk.” Melodically, it sounds identical to Goldfinger. Having Tom Jones sing a song this lazy is like only driving your Corvette on a carefully tailored, closed-course oval. He guns the engine, but he’s just going in circles.

14. Goldeneye – Tina Turner
It’s beginning to strike me that I’m running out of okay songs. Bono and The Edge wrote this, and man, how I wished they would’ve just performed it too.

15. The Man With The Golden Gun – Lulu
The lyrics are fairly nifty but painfully explanatory. Essentially, Lulu lays out the villain’s means, motives and method. Again, we return to the brassy horns of the ’60s, and she really sells it, but there’s not much for sale.

16. The World Is Not Enough – Garbage
Sort of a husky, industrial vibe, which fits the slicked-up motifs of the movie. But if I made you list every artist who’s ever recorded a Bond theme, how many would you list before Garbage? All of them, plus some wrong answers, right?

17. Moonraker – Shirley Bassey
Surprisingly, I don’t really have a problem with this song. Actually, I don’t really feel anything about this song.

18. Die Another Day – Madonna
The real shame is that I actually love, like, the first 15 seconds, with the string work and staccato percussion. Then the autotune and synth work tramples all over everything and she starts sing-talking about Sigmund Freud. Madonna admirably went for something bold, but this remains maybe the biggest, most cringe-worthy joke in the whole damn canon. And I haven’t even mentioned the music video where she gets “tortured” in a North Korean prison.

19. Tomorrow Never Dies  – Sheryl Crow
Eminently forgettable. Is it better to be remembered as a disaster or not remembered at all?

20. Licence To Kill – Gladys Knight
This song is more than five minutes long. I literally just listened to it, and I can’t remember a single thing about it. I can’t hum it, I don’t know any of the words — “licence to kill” is in there somewhere, presumably — but I cannot bring myself to play it again.

21. All Time High – Rita Coolidge
Tragically cloying. At least it has a distinctive horns hook.

22. For Your Eyes Only – Sheena Easton

175. Isner & Mahut, five years later

ESPN ran a stellar oral history of the the legendary 11-hour Wimbledon match between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut today, on the five-year anniversary of tennis’ longest match ever.

Jelle and I were there.  

We didn’t have plans that day aside from becoming a little too familiar with a few more of London’s bartenders. I’m 19 at this point, literally and figuratively intoxicated with my newly acquired ability to get into bars.


Regrettably, I look like a child. That’s us, to the left, in Hyde Park. Jelle looks like an Eastern European who recently got really into The O.C., and I look like a 15-year-old lesbian. Again, it was regrettable.

If I recall correctly, neither of us even knew Wimbledon was going on that week. A nosy lady with a massive hat told us about it the day I took this selfie of us, and we decided then to trek out and see what we could see.

The line was fantastic, stretching as far as I could see in either direction, and the sun was cooking us as we waiting. We had no cucumber sandwiches, no parasols, no escape from the heat. Sunscreen was going for apocalyptic prices.

We bought general admission tickets, which meant we could only watch the outdoor action. (All of the sport’s big names play in the larger, more accommodating indoor arenas.) That meant instead of Roddick and Rafa we got Melanie Oudin and Kim Clijsters.

At one point, a kind and knowing usher let us sneak a few minutes inside Court 1 to watch Federer’s blowout du jour. I’ve seen Manning in the Super Bowl, Jeter at Yankee Stadium, and LeBron at the Garden, but none of those top seeing Federer at Wimby.

As the day dragged on, we noticed the crowd around Court 18 was growing larger, the oohs and ahhs a little louder. We didn’t really know John Isner or Nicolas Mahut, but being an American, I Googled Isner’s particulars and loudly played the role of lifelong fan.

“Greensboro’s proud of you, John!”

The Brits likely wondered how Isner, a relatively obscure American, had cultivated such a young and passionately vocal lesbian fanbase.

We revisited Court 18 a few different times during the course of the day, our excitement growing each visit. Near the end of the afternoon, every other match had ended, and the entire Wimbledon crowd was jockeying for position around Court 18′s overwhelmed bleachers.

In my memory, it was ace after ace after ace, both of them exhausted, neither relenting. Even in the moment, it was incredible to watch.

We left that day with no sense of the history we had just seen, nor any feeling of closure. We couldn’t afford to go more than one day, so we never saw Isner eventually prevail. By the time the match had ended, we were already back in World Cup mode, bound for Munich and a German watch party.

But as today’s ESPN piece points out, the eventual winner of the match is sort of irrelevant. It was a match that transcended petty competition to become a Moment. A marathon on grass. And it was just another example of how damn lucky I have been to be at the right place at the right time in my life.

168. Montana exceptionalism

I spent the summer of 2012 editing copy two states south of home at The Denver Post. Shortly after I started, Colin Meloy — the lead singer of The Decemberists — spoke to the graduating class of his former high school in Helena, Montana. Spending my first summer locked in an office, I took enormous comfort in his words about his home state and what it personally meant to him to be lucky enough to grow up under the Big Sky.

Every time I’m feeling homesick, like I am today, I dip back into his speech and let it remind me that you can’t always pick your home. Sometimes it picks you.

Here is his speech.

I’m honored to be here, at the commencement of your post-high school lives.

Consider those words: post-high school lives.

Keeping that phrase in mind, I’d like to quickly dispel a pretty pervasive myth: there’s a weird bit of misinformation floating around that, somehow, high school is the best time of your life and that you’ll never quite relive it, that it’s all downhill from here. I heard that when I was your age; Always sounded super ominous to me, like it was an inevitable thing. If I wasn’t enjoying myself 100% at every moment, I was somehow doing my future self an enormous disservice.

It may come as a consolation to some of you that that is the on par with one of the biggest lines of garbage the adult world will ever try to feed you.

Though to be honest, for some of you, that may be true. If you’re one of those people, that in twenty, thirty years time you look back and say that those four years in a public institution where you weathered the worst of your post-puberty days, the insecurities, the cruelties – those were the best times of your life – I congratulate you. Nice work. You’ve got a leg up on most of the people here; it’s not easy to wring that level of good times out of so much molten transformation.

But for most of you, the rest of your lives will tower, by magnitudes of greatness, over this minute stretch of your time on Earth.

You know, when I first got the invitation to be here, to speak to you, I guess I surprised myself by saying yes. I think I said ‘yes’ mostly because I was shocked to be asked. My qualifications? I once sat where you sit. Part of a graduating class of Helena High School. With my parents in the bleachers and my friends around me. I was the kid with the round glasses and “fight homophobia” written in white ink on my mortar board. But I’ll get back to that bit in a minute.

I didn’t do particularly well in classes – my friend Mark and I convinced our Algebra Two subs to let us go play frisbee on the lawn rather than take quizzes near the end of the term – our grades were really that hopeless; I wasn’t involved in student government. I hate to admit it to the sports fans, but I don’t think I went to a single Bengal game, football basketball whatever. My biggest claim to fame among my Bengal peers might’ve been when I was elected “best hair” in the 1993 yearbook. I had grown out the top long, shaved to the skin on the sides. It was awful. It was my impression that it was big in the UK.

However, despite my lack of school spirit and anything to really anchor me to this High School (have yet to make it to a reunion), when I got the invitation I suddenly felt it important for me to come here, stand here and spout stuffy, inspirational platitudes if for no other reason than it feels like a nice comeuppance for someone who wouldn’t have made it on to the long list of “most likely to succeed.” And maybe I could stand as an example to my fellow under achievers.

But also: I do have an important thing to impart to you. Something that only I can tell you. As a Montanan who has left.

My grandfather, Pete Meloy, was a judge here in town. He was born on a homestead out near Townsend. He brought up my family to follow a religion of his own creation: the Great Western Religion. The sanctity of the American West, of Montana in particular. He also pronounced that all Meloys, should they leave Montana, will make their way back here. Eventually.

That kind of hung over me like a curse. When I left Helena, I barely looked back. I was falling over myself to get out of here. I made all kind of pronouncements about this place, about this town, this little town where I’d been born. I was bound for the west coast, to the only college that would accept me and the weirdness of my AP English classes and almost-failing math and science grades.

But in the safety of my west coast university, I began to understand something. An understanding that grew and grew as I traveled more and more, stayed away from Montana for longer and longer stretches of time. A thing called Montanan exceptionalism.

And what is that? Exceptionalism is this idea that a nation or a people are somehow set off from the rest of the world, that they possess some weird, innate quality that sets them apart – in a good way.

Now: I don’t go in for exceptionalism generally. Most of the time, you hear it in the context of American Exceptionalism, which typically, blowing out of the mouths of right wing ideologues, tends to come freighted with a lot of baggage: this idea that America is the greatest nation that ever was and will be. I don’t believe nations don’t have a right to be exceptional or to promote themselves as such – a little humility goes a long way; I don’t think American Exceptionalism really has a place in our enlightened, internet-tethered 21st century global community. We should all be embracing our failings, our missteps, and looking for the greatness in others.

But Montanan exceptionalism; that’s something that has begun to make sense to me.

After college, I moved to Portland, Oregon and started a band called the Decemberists and we started touring. First, regionally – just quick two week jaunts up and down the west coast – then nationally. Before too long, we’d signed with a major label and began touring around the world.

And once you start doing that, moving farther and farther into the pale of your comfort, beyond the boundaries of your home, you engage with people of all stripes. You work with them; you interact with them. You befriend them, you fight with them. And you get a real sense of how everyone’s worldviews are necessarily shaped by the place where they are from.

And I’m here, standing in front of you, to tell you that, having traveled the world, having met jerks and sweethearts, famous people, invisible people, stupidly wealthy people and destitutely poor people: There is absolutely no-one in the world like Montanans. You guys are the cream of the crop. And I say that with a great deal of pride. I think Norman McLean was getting at the heart of that idea when he said, that “the world is full of bastards, the number increasing the further one gets from Missoula, Montana.” I realize that puts Helena about an hour and forty five minutes into bastard territory, but we all know he really meant Montana in general.

When I was growing up, I had this impression that the party was always happening somewhere else; that I had had the profound misfortune in being born in a place somehow removed from the world. As a kid, television created a window into a world from which I was totally separated: the brick walls and the brownstones, the urban playgrounds of Sesame Street – this was totally alien to me. As I grew older, that feeling of disconnection grew: The bands I loved all came from big cities; movies showed a more dramatic, fashionable world than my own. I got the feeling that I was living somehow outside; that everyone else was getting a richer experience than I was, here surrounded by the Big Belts and a population that boasted a fraction of a single suburb of some of those big cities I so admired.

I suspect there are some of you out there who feel the same way.

I have since been to those places, I’ve since met the people who live in those places; and I always come away with an increased appreciation and respect for the state of Montana and those who were born here or choose to live here and assimilate.

There is a deep streak of respect and intelligence in the Montanan mindset; there is an empathy for one’s neighbors that goes beyond a simple respect of privacy. It’s brusque, it is a little rough-hewn, but it follows logic over ideology. It grows from a community that at least tries to understand the mentality of its fellows. Conservatism might abound in the Montanan mindset, but so does a kind of feckless as-long-as-you-keep-it-to-yourself belief, which, in certain light, could almost be mistaken for true-blue liberalism.

In the spring of 1993, I sat where you sat with my mortar-board reading “Fight Homophobia” without even giving a second thought to what kind of controversy that might stir up – it was something I truly believed, a statement I wanted to wear that day like a tattoo. To my surprise, it didn’t cause a stir, not even the slightest. At least not that I was aware of. My wife, who grew up in New York, has since told me that if I had done the same in her high school – on the enlightened, urban East Coast – I might not have survived my senior party.

And that was a kind of revelation to me. The fact that I could express those sentiments, without fear of reprisal. In a place which I think most of the world tends to view as being behind the times, as a consequence of its remove from the progressive hubs of the world. I sat there thinking that maybe I was making people angry, that I was offending some people’s sensibilities. But, in fact, I was surrounded by Montanans, by my community. I wonder if anyone really gave it a second look.

You are trail-blazer stock, you are the stuff of mavericks and pioneers. You know, Montana was the first state to guarantee to its citizens, in its constitution, the right for a clean and healthy environment. The constitution of 1972. It’s an example that other states only later began to embrace and adopt; Montana was at it first.

And where does this exceptionalism come from? Since it seems innate – it is, in fact, in each and every one of you – I would say that it comes from the landscape itself; that a extraordinary landscape requires an extraordinary people to live in it. I suppose it could be traced to what my grandpa talked about, this Great Western Religion.

Each one of you has a kernel of that one-of-a-kind Montana-ness inside you. And I’m telling you now, it needs to be taken out into the world and thrown around.

Which isn’t to say: GET OUT OF HERE, NOW. And that’s tempting to say. I’m sure it would’ve been the message I would’ve most connected with when I was your age, sitting where you sit now. And maybe that message (GET OUT OF HERE, NOW, AS QUICKLY AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN) is right for some of you.

But not for all. You see, while I’d press many of you to go out into the world and have the same epiphanies I did, recognize the inherent greatness of your home state and its native people. Understand the incredible rarity and preciousness of this Montanan exceptionalism. This is your path, your mandate.

For others of you, those of you who would prefer to stay or just end up staying: that’s cool too. Because you need to create the furrows, plant the seed, on its home soil. You need to protect and cultivate the next generations of Montanans, and make sure that this spirit survives. What’s more, you need to devote yourselves to conservationism and protection in order that the spirit of the 1972 constitution and its promises survive. So that when the ones who left return, as my grandfather promised us Meloys would necessarily do, they can fall right back in line and join you in your cultivation.

So: all of you. It doesn’t matter if you barely made it to this spot, that you, like me, eeked your way to graduation. If you didn’t go to a single Bengal game. If you’re champing at the bit to get all this over with and move on to the next chapter. Valedictorian, quarterback, lead of the spring play, second chair trumpet player – whatever. You are all conjoined in this Montanan exceptionalism.

The world beyond these mountains is a lesser world; it rests on you to make it better.

And that’s it. That’s the important message. And now, get on with your lives.

166. The stupidest things Keith Urban says he is in his new song, ranked

Two days ago, I went all-in on Keith Urban, crapping all over his stupid, awful new song that I love and can’t stop playing. I’m back for more.  

Here are the stupidest things Keith Urban compares himself to in his new song called — *sigh* — “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16.” I ranked them for your convenience.a

16. “I’m a two-strike swinger”: Okay, fine. It takes guts to swing on two strikes, assuming the count is 0-and-2. It’s also usually a dumb idea, but at least this is an actual human thing you can be as a roughly understandable metaphor.

15. “I’m Hemingway with a shot of whiskey”: Everyone wants to be Hemingway, up to a point. They want the stoicism and the marvelous, understated prose, but typically they stop short of the electroshock therapy, mental breakdown and self-inflicted shotgun wound. I’ll give Keith the benefit of the doubt.

14. “I’m Mark Twain on the Mississippi”: We’re starting to slide into lazy insanity, but at least this is another human male. The depressing part is that I bet Keith Urban actually sees himself as some sort of Australian Samuel Clemens, dispensing charming witticisms as he blows across the American South.

13. “And I’m a child of a backseat freedom, baptized by rock and roll”: Since when has being in the backseat ever meant freedom? Sitting in the backseat means your parents are driving, and you and your Game Boy are just along for the ride. Is he referring to clandestine sex? Is he saying he is literally a product of his parents fooling around in the backseat of a car? Keith, please think about the words you are singing.

12. “I’m still a teenage kid trying to go too far”: No, you are not. You are a multimillion-dollar recording artist married to one of the world’s biggest movie stars, and you are as well-known for your haircut as you are your artfully inoffensive music.

11. “I’m a mama and daddy singing along to Don McLean at the levy”: Oh, ho! What a subtle and well-crafted reference to “American Pie!” Do you think Keith, perhaps, found himself written into a corner by needing to find a rhyme for Chevy? It was either bevy, levee or heavy. Maybe he should have driven a Ford.

10. “I’m a Kris Kristofferson Sunday morning”: Aside from his blatant and gratuitous lyrical name-dropping, I sort of like this line. Just a chill, laid-back brunch with “Me and Bobby McGee.” In fact, this would be higher on the list if I didn’t feel like he fell ass-backwards into this. It’s the one bullet from the tommy gun of awful references that somehow sprayed into the bulls-eye.

9. “I’m a blue-jean quarterback saying “I love you” to the prom queen in a Chevy”: Here’s that Chevy I was talking about. I wonder if they copped any backseat freedom?! Also: Why “blue-jean”? Does he only wear denim? Is he durable and tough in the pocket, like a quarterback should be? Why am I giving him this much credit?!

8. “I’m a jukebox waiting in a neon bar for a quarter”:  So, you want people to… plug you with coins? In no conceivable metaphorical universe does it make sense for you to be a jukebox.

7. “I’m John Wayne, Superman, California”: When a foreigner comes to this country and does not speak a word of English, this is verbatim what he says to the immigration officer. Somehow, Keith, you’ve managed to ruin three things I independently love in one line. You are determined to be an ass.

6. “I’m a Gibson guitar”: Keith Urban, brought to you by Chevrolet and Gibson! Not to go all Noam Chomsky, but Keith Urban has been so commodified beyond the context of his actual abilities as an entertainer that it makes sense that he should compare himself to a musical instrument, because that’s exactly what he is. He’s a tool.

5. “Just another rebel in the great wide open on the boulevard of broken dreams”: Fun fact: Keith was actually just playing his iTunes on shuffle when he wrote this line, and Bowie, Tom Petty and Green Day came on in that order.b

I can also do this. “I’m just another fortunate son, dancing in the dark and livin’ on a prayer.” WHERE’S MY CMA?

4. “I’m a Texaco star”: Bonus points for not even being a thing, like a jukebox or a guitar. He’s now the logo for a brand. I’m a Target target ringing a Taco Bell bell.

“A Texaco star.” Jesus Christ.

3. “I’m a 45 spinning on an old Victrola”: I hope the ghost of Hank Williams haunts you until the last feathery hair rots off your skull, Keith Urban. You are Australia’s ultimate cultural revenge for centuries of shipping criminals to their land.

2. “I’m a TV dinner on a tray trying to figure out the Wheel of Fortune”: When I was a little kid, I liked to do meaningless, capricious things to entertain my mom. One January, she asked me to copy everyone’s birthdays from the old calendar to the new.  For fun, I picked one random day in June and wrote “The Not Particularly Special Day,” as if it were a holiday.

Six months later, my dog Jack had to be put to sleep on that exact day.c

That story is still not as sad as this song lyric.

1. “I’m a Pepsi-Cola”: You are cheap and simple sugarwater slowly poisoning our youth, especially down South. I hate you, Keith Urban.

155. LeBron’s Reckoning

My friend Christian suggested we swap 700 words on why each team will win The Finals. Being the LeBron groupie he is, I wrote about the Dubs.  

LeBron’s Reckoning

To explain why the Warriors are going to dismantle the Cavaliers over the course of the next week and a half, I could appeal to your sense of logic and employ The Numbers.

The sheer statistical weight of Golden State’s greatness is suffocating – 3-point shooting, offensive efficiency, defensive rating, pace of play, PER… You pick a metric, and the Dubs’  are superior. They’ve been that good.

At 46-3, Golden State’s home record, including the postseason, is one of the three best in league history. Steph Curry is the first player ever to eclipse 1,000 +/- in one season. Oh, and never once this season has Golden State lost four out of seven games, which is what the Cavs will have to do.

But forget that. Ignore the numbers.

Let’s talk about Draymond Green, the 6-foot-5 angry peacock, or Festus Ezeli whose name literally translates to “Immovable Wall” in a language I just made up. There’s Klay Thompson, who is contractually guaranteed to score 24 points in one of the series’ first 16 quarters, and Andre Iguodala, the ring-hungry grandpa who will poison Mike Miller’s Gatorade if that’s what it comes to.

You can’t forget Andrew Bogut, who will redeem his No. 1 bust status by smothering Mozgov with his chest hair, or Harrison Barnes, who has weirdly played his best basketball since pissing off Golden State fans.

And that’s to say nothing about the league’s best shooter and MVP.

As a team, they have an answer for everything. They can play big, small, fast and slow. Maybe the best example is Memphis.

The Grizzlies were exactly the type of team a mad scientist would create in a lab to slow down the Warriors – tall, methodical, physical and unafraid. And what’s crazy is, it worked! For back-to-back games! Then, the coaches made adjustments, the players adapted, and the Warriors ran Memphis back below the Mason-Dixon.

They beat Anthony Davis, Marc Gasol and James Harden, three of the four players who join Curry on the All-NBA first team. They’re about to play against the player that rounds out that list, and well, that’s where you’re right. I can’t argue with you that the only compelling argument to make for the Cavaliers is LeBron James. He’s the best basketball player in the world after all, right?

But LeBron wasn’t even the best player this season, and he hasn’t been better than Curry in the playoffs against an inferior slate of opponents. He’s shooting 18 percent from 3, a career worst. Some of it has to be the understandable pressure he feels to be a player-coach, especially as he sits in the huddle and watches a guy who looks like a teenage vampire call slash-and-kick plays that became outdated in 2009.

Don’t forget that LeBron has had a penchant for doing weird things at weird times this postseason. Remember his bizarre iso 1-on-1 crusade against Paul Millsap? His usage rate is through the roof – highest it’s been in years — implying he’s tightening up and losing trust in his teammates as the postseason drags on.

Speaking of his teammates… let’s talk about the Sunday YMCA crew that Bron has around him. Statistically, LeBron’s supporting cast is a sliver better this year than it was in 2007. We’re talking a difference of maybe two rebounds per game – that’s what is separating the 2015 roster from Boobie Gibson because Cleveland’s Big Three is a Big 1 ½. (Sidenote: It will be shocking if Kyrie starts every game this series, especially if it goes longer than five. Tendonitis takes months, not days to heal.)

In the end, LeBron is just a dude. He bleeds. He gets tired and frustrated, and he’s susceptible to long stretches of overthought. He’s going to have a good series – he may even have a great one. But I don’t care if he averages a damn triple-double. At some point during this series, the bottom is going to fall out, and when it does, it’s going to be ugly.

The winner of Game 1 wins 71 percent of the time. The Warriors win tonight and win the series.

146. Obi-Wan’s other princess

Mental Floss teaches me something new every day. Today it was about Alec Guinness and Grace Kelly.  They costarred in 1956′s “The Swan,” and during filming, Guinness was given a tomahawk as a gift from a local Native American. He hid it in Kelly’s bed. Solid prank.

But instead of laughing it off, Kelly said nothing about the prank and kept the tomahawk. One random night, years later, Guinness came home to find it in the sheets of his own bed.

Here’s Mental Floss:

A few more years passed before it was announced that Grace Kelly would be doing a tour of poetry readings in the US with the actor John Westbrook. Guinness didn’t know Westbrook, but arranged for a mutual friend to ask for his help, and then deliver the tomahawk to him, which was placed in Grace’s bed once more. She gave no sign of having found it there, but only asked Westbrook in passing if he had ever met Alec Guinness, to which he could truthfully reply that he hadn’t.

In 1979 the tomahawk reappeared once more, in Guinness’ bed in the Beverly Wilshire hotel, California, after he received an honorary Oscar at the Academy Awards ceremony. Kelly didn’t attend the ceremony, and how the tomahawk found its way back to him on that occasion remains a mystery.

Guinness got the last laugh, burying it in her suitcase under her lingerie in the early ’80s and provoking a “satisfying scream.”

In ’82, Kelly died in a car accident, and the story ends there.

142. “Happy Birthday, Randall Cunningham” and other fake band names

Matt: I’d really love to start a two-piece surf funk band with you called Happy Birthday, Randall Cunningham and never explain it.

Max: You had me at surf funk.  

Max: Dude, if you’re in a band and “surf” is any part of the genre, you can literally name it anything.

Desk Gum
Trash Cannibals
Sunkist Omega Cyborgs
The Tom Cobblers
The Laundry Boys
Psychic Groundhogs
Sandy Mann and the Sleep Tightsa
The Thirsty Hampton
Funk Drawer
The Holy Shoelace Brigade
King Crust
The Earlobe Massacre
Megaphone Sex Line
The Crass Magiciansb
Fly Swatter
Clip Skippers
Heavy Sand Castle

Coming to a music festival near you.

More band names I made up.

141. Six friends, Vol. III

What’s the first song that drove you to memorize its lyrics?  

As a little kid, I remember being obsessed with song lyrics — “We Didn’t Start The Fire,” especially. I used to put Billy Joel’s greatest hits on my stereo and lay on my waterbed, following the lyrics in the liner notes of his box set. Each pithy snippet represented whole chapters of world history I had yet to explore. I was just impressed he could make everything rhyme.

Then came “End Of The World” by REM; Sawyer Brown’s cover of “The Race Is On” and “Sold” by John Michael Montgomery. The superfast bridge in “Our House” by Madness. I loved it all.

It took me a long time to realize that less was more. Reading Hemingway the summer before 8th grade was probably what irrevocably convinced me. But until then, I was pretty sure that more complicated lyrics meant better songs.

As my dad pointed out, “One Week” by Barenaked Ladies was the most popular song in America at the time. Can you blame me?

I asked some friends about their own first lyrical conquest. Here are their responses:

Camille Lieurance

Credentials: Has been absolutely fiery with her music recs lately; is currently driving up to Sasquatch, the No. 1 place in the world I want to be this weekend; once told me she thought she was the only one who knew Sam Cooke, thus endearing me to her with a reflection of my own brand of music knowledge and subtle superiority.

“ABC by Jackson 5.

“Or actually no. Britney Spears’ ‘Oops, I Did It Again.’”

Dustin Klemann

Credentials: Was the first friend whose music tastes I truly respected and emulated; briefly convinced me that Good Shoes was going to be the biggest band of 2013; introduced me to mashups, which blew the back of my skull out onto my car’s back windshield like Marvin in Pulp Fiction.

“On solid repeat? Cake – The Distance. 

Max Richter

Credentials: Shares with me a deep-rooted love of Britpop; kicked off one thousand drunken nights by listening to the same 16-song CD that really just doesn’t have the staying power we pretend it does; actually played music for, like, crowds of people, which has to count for something, right?

“Like pop song? Or dumb school recital song?

“‘Here We Go’ by NSYNC I’m pretty sure.”

Vinny Vella

Credentials: Once almost attended a free Counting Crows show in Philadelphia with me – almost; was right next to me at one of the three best concerts I’ve ever seen in my life, Bruce at Hershey Park; posts a deadline decompression song on his Facebook after especially rough days covering Philly’s mean streets.

“All The Small Things by Blink

Russell Walks

Credentials: Pretty much the wellspring of my musical tastes; taught me the Beatles and Bowie and Bruce and Billy and Buffett and a thousand other worlds of sound and story; stays hip by listening to the VIRAL HITS playlist on Spotify, for some reason.

“So, like, looked them up, or paid attention to? Not just sort of learned by osmosis? “She Loves You” in German.

“Then, the lyrics to Suicide is Painless (The theme to MASH) Then Duran, then Buffett.

“The first song that really affected me, lyric-wise, was “Meeting Across The River.” I could not believe that someone wrote that and set it to music. holy crap. Thinking about discovering Bruce gives me goosebumps, even now.”

McKenna Brown

Credentials: Spent hundreds of days sharing Emerald newsroom DJ duties with me, often putting up with DJ Fresh or George Strait; was right next to me at one of the three best concerts I’ve ever seen in my life, Bruce at the Rose Garden; actually saw Paul McCartney and Bruce together at Hyde Park, which will top anything I write from this point forward, so I might as well just stop writing right here.

“This is so embarrassing. And I had to look it up.

“But it was ‘I Need To Know’ by R Angels from the ‘Stuart Little’ soundtrack. :/

“Laura Addy and I played the music video over and over and over and over until we had the whole thing memorized.”