A Reynolds wrap

Kyle Smith of, of all places, National Review:

The list of movie stars who commanded the U.S. box office for five consecutive years is short: There’s Bing Crosby, and there’s Burt Reynolds. Along with Shirley Temple, herself Hollywood’s leading attraction for four straight years, Reynolds is one of the great movie stars of yesterday who seem most in danger of being completely erased from the cultural memory. Let’s not allow that to happen. May this week’s retrospective celebration of five of his films at New York City’s Metrograph cinema prompt a renewed appreciation of his good-humored vitality.

There is a reason for Reynolds’s precipitous fall, or rather about 40 of them: Rent a Cop and Cop and ½, Stroker Ace and Stick, Heat and City Heat,Cannonball Run II and, for that matter, The Cannonball Run. His mustache-first persona became a walking joke, a precursor to those man-parodies Ron Swanson and Ron Burgundy. Burt! The name itself, immediately summoning him and only him, became funny, at the other end of the naming scale from Eggbert, the hypermasculine end. In part because of Burt, macho and manly became words that could no longer be used, except jokingly. The sketch-comedy version of Reynolds was a swaggering dope, a sexist jerk, the guy whose chest hair clogged up the drain in the hot tub. He married Loni Anderson; he was Brawny Man come to life. The proud emblem of hairy virility on his upper lip became ridiculous, downgraded to the status of “pornstache.” After a while, its like became unwearable except ironically.


Another cool Steve

Long-time readers of this blog, which will be seven years old at the end of this month (still looking for a Corvette as a birthday gift, by the way), should be familiar with the movie “The Tao of Steve” and its identification of the cool Steves: Austin …

… McGarrett …

… and McQueen:

(“The Tao of Steve” list inexplicably fails to include not only a lot of other Steves, but myself, Man of Action. Strange.)

At any rate, Space.com reports (not about Steve Austin):

New work helps to codify the cause and properties of “Steve,” an aurora-like phenomenon documented by citizen scientists as it streaked across the sky in western Canada.

As of a new paper’s release today (March 14), the phenomenon has been dubbed STEVE, a backronym that matches the name originally given by aurora watchers. (STEVE is short for “Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement.”) According to the new work, the distinctive ribbon of purple light with green accents — which can occur at lower latitudes than normal auroras do — gives scientists a glimpse into the interactions of Earth’s magnetic field and upper atmosphere.

“It’s exciting because this might be a kind of aurora that more people can see than any other kind, because when it shows up, it shows up over more populated areas that are further to the south,” Elizabeth MacDonald, a researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland and lead author of the new work, told Space.com. And scientifically, “it’s an aspect related to [auroras] that’s further south than we ever had recognized … It tells us that the processes creating the aurora are penetrating all the way into the inner magnetosphere, and so that’s a new aspect of it.” [Amazing Auroras: Photos of Earth’s Northern Lights].

Researchers first became aware of STEVE after members of a Facebook group called the Alberta Aurora Chasers (which refers to the province in western Canada) began posting photos of unusual purplish-greenish streaks oriented nearly vertically in the sky. Scientist collaborators coordinated with the aurora chasers to combine the dates and times of the phenomenon’s appearance with data from the European Space Agency’s Swarm satellites, which precisely measure variation in Earth’s magnetic field, to work out what conditions caused the phenomenon.

The better-known auroras — also referred to as the northern and southern lights — form when Earth’s magnetic field guides charged particles propelled from the sun around the planet and toward the upper atmosphere at its poles. These solar particles hit neutral particles in the upper atmosphere, producing light and color visible in the night sky.

STEVE, on the other hand, seems to form a different way.

“There’s an electric field in those regions that points poleward and a magnetic field that points downward, and those two together create this strong drift to the west,” MacDonald said. The flow in Earth’s ionosphere pulls charged solar particles westward, where they hit neutral particles along the way and heat them up, producing upward-reaching streaks of light moving west.

STEVE is the first visible indicator of that ion drift, which researchers had been investigating via satellite for around 40 years, she added.

Because the phenomenon was occurring outside the usual geographic range for frequent auroras, citizen scientists played a particularly valuable role in understanding STEVE, MacDonald said. It’s at the farthest reaches of dedicated scientific cameras, and it appears on wavelengths different from the usual auroras, which those cameras might not be prepared to document. And the improvement in camera technology available to the public means such records are increasingly valuable to scientists’ understanding of auroras in general. (Plus, crowdsourcing platforms like Aurorasaurus, which MacDonald founded, help aggregate the observations to help with prediction and analysis.)

Scientists understand a lot about auroras, but not everything — “so there’s the discovery aspect,” MacDonald said. “And there’s the less-exciting aspect of the citizen science observations,” which are equally scientifically valuable. “All these observations in aggregate help us to build better models of aurorae,” she added. “That’s useful for people who want to see it, and it’s also useful for people who are concerned about the effects of space weather and currents in the upper atmosphere on communication and things like that.”

It’s hard to get an overall view of auroras with the current slate of satellites, MacDonald said, which either can’t see an entire hemisphere or don’t observe each spot often enough as they orbit — once every 90 minutes — to track how auroras evolve in the short term. People on the ground can provide a more nuanced view.

“Through these kinds of projects, we can get more people than we would have thought — than theywould have thought — who actually have captured a scientifically valuable observation,” she said. “And it’s not scary; it’s just STEVE.”

The new work was detailed today (March 14) in the journal Science Advances.

I am as amused in seeing my first name in capital letters as I am hearing my last name — OK, her last name — announced during a basketball game, sometimes by myself.

There are photos …

Childs Lake, Manitoba
Helena Lake Ranch, B.C.
Lake Minnewanka, Alberta

… and video of STEVE:

I am as amused to see my first name in capital letters as I am to hear my last name — actually her last name — announced during basketball games, sometimes by myself.

Youth, age and generalizations thereupon

Jonah Goldberg writes a serious syndicated column, and a less serious online column, The G-File.

Goldberg first wrote in USA Today anticipating Wednesday’s walkout in schools across the country:

Later this month, high school kids will hold big demonstrations in Washington and elsewhere to demand gun control in the wake of the shootings in Parkland, Fla. That’s fine by me. I disagree with the thrust of what they want to do as a matter of policy, but it’s a free country.

My problem is with the resurgence of an old American tradition of celebrating young people as inherently wiser and more moral than adults. There are really three problems with the fetishization of youth in politics. First, it’s based on a faulty premise: that young people have a radically or uniquely superior insight into political affairs.

This is an ancient confusion. It usually hinges on misinterpreting the fact that young people see the world with fresh eyes, as it were.

And it’s true that young people have a gift for cutting through the false pieties and polite fictions of modern life, as when a nephew points out how much weight you’ve gained. Even the story of The Emperor’s New Clothes is a story about a kid too ignorant to know when to placate a king’s vanity.

But the simple fact is that young people are not, as a group, better informed, wiser, smarter or even more enlightened than older people. This is a fact of science and social science alike. We are born ignorant of the world we live in and only lose that ignorance over time.

Think about what you knew and understood at half your current age. Were you smarter then? Wiser? Why assume it works differently for anyone else?

“To all the generations before us,” Cameron Kasky, one of the Parkland survivors recently said on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, “we sincerely accept your apology. And we appreciate that you are willing to let us rebuild the world that you f—ed up.”

I get the passion. I get the rage and trauma behind it. But this nonsense is as pernicious as it is obnoxious (I’ve apologized for nothing, by the way, have you?). It’s also not true.

Young people today, and particularly young Americans, should be brimming with gratitude for the world they are inheriting. Lest you think this a cranky right-wing sentiment, let me align myself with Barack Obama: “If you had to choose a moment in time to be born, any time in human history, and you didn’t know ahead of time what nationality you were or what gender or what your economic status might be, you’d choose today.”

Kasky is standing on a soapbox built with the toil of previous generations and he’s taking a sledgehammer to it — because he doesn’t know better.

My hunch is that a great many people who take offense at my criticism do so either because of Kasky’s traumatic experience or because they agree with him — if not about the bankruptcy of the past then about his anti-gun agenda.

And that brings me to the second problem with the glorification of youth: It invariably involves powerful adults finding kids who agree with them on some issue and then claiming that all young people think this way (and then hiding behind the myth that we must listen to “the children”). If these Parkland kids came out for concealed-carry or arming teachers, you can be sure MSNBC would not be touting them in commercials.

But the most galling thing about adult partisans hiding behind kids is that it amounts to a kind of power-worship. “I know that whenever you disapprove of young people, you’re in the wrong,” the author Tim Kreider wrote in The New York Times, “because you’re going to die and they’ll get to write history.” Never mind that factually, this is balderdash.

Young people change their minds about lots of things as they get older, and historians rarely lock in the views of young people a few decades later. This is also ethically bankrupt because it assumes that whatever kids today believe will be right because the victors write the history, so we should just surrender to the youngest mob.

Democracy depends on arguments that are not contingent on your age. Lots of kids don’t understand that, but grown-ups are supposed to.

Then he wrote in his G-File about said column:

There were many dumb reactions. Of course, this is to be expected. As King Leonidas might say if he were the ruler of a social-media platform, “This is Twitter!

Still it’s been a rather remarkable experience watching people freak out over such an obviously correct point.

In fact, I thought I inoculated myself from the more ridiculous accusations in advance. But alas, what I thought was a feature of my column was for some its fatal flaw. …

I’ve been writing about the inanity and jackassery of generational stereotyping and youth politics for literally 25 years, going all the way back to when I was a young twentysomething. But, apparently, that argument cannot be made independent of the Parkland kids because, in this moment, they are speaking for all youth and therefore, thanks to the transitive property of generational numinosity, any criticism of young people qua young people is “attacking” the Gun Control Youth League. Never mind that young people are as divided on the issue of gun control as everyone else.

It’s a funny analogue to the crap I get from some Trump supporters who think that I’ve changed since his rise. I’ve been against sexual depravity, protectionism, populism, industrial policy, orange-tinted skin, executive overreach, etc. for decades. Then Trump comes along, I keep saying the same things, and, suddenly, I get all of this “What happened to you?!”

So let me try this a different way: Nothing in the passages that follow is in any way, shape, or form negative commentary or invidious insinuation about the Parkland students. They are right about everything, no matter the subject.

I would even stipulate that no youths from Florida are ever wrong about anything and that their sagacity and good conduct should never be doubted or gainsaid. But, then again, I can only ask so much willing disbelief from my readers. Regardless, seriously, this has nothing whatsoever to do with the Parkland kids or even the issue of gun control.

Let’s establish a baseline. I assume we can all agree that everyone is born remarkably dumb. Ever try to talk about the causes of the First World War with a newborn? So frustrating.

There are few things more settled in science than the fact that humans start out not very bright or informed and that this condition only wears off over time — i.e., as they get older.

Only slightly more controversial: Young people tend to be more emotional than grown-ups. This is true of babies, who will cry about the silliest things (hence the word, “crybaby”). But it’s also true of teenagers.

Again, this is not string theory. We know these things. And the idea that I must provide empirical evidence for such a staggeringly obvious point is hilarious to me.

Aside from all the social science, medical science, novels, plays, poems, musicals, and movies that explore this fact, there is another source we can consult on this: ourselves.

Every not-currently-young person reading this “news”letter has one thing in common: We were all young once.

This is what I mean when I say that “youth politics are the laziest form of identity politics.” Say what you will for racial-identity politics, there’s at least a superficial case that such identities are immutable. I can never be a black woman. And before everyone gets clever, even if I dropped a lot of coin on cosmetic surgery, I can never claim to know what it’s like to be a black woman.

You know what I can claim, though? Knowing what it’s like to be young. Sure, I can’t claim to know what it’s like to be young in 2018, but as the father of a 15-year-old, I’m not wholly ignorant on the topic either. On the other hand, my 15-year-old has no clue what it was like to be young in the 1980s.

And that’s why youth politics are such a lazy form of identity politics. (It’s also why generational stereotypes are lazy.) Here’s a news flash for you: There was no “Greatest Generation.” The dudes who stormed the beaches of Iwo Jima and Normandy: badasses and heroes, to a man. The dudes back home in the drunk tank on D-Day? Not so much.

This is what I hate about all forms of identity politics. It’s an effort to get credit or authority based upon an accident of birth. The whole point of liberalism (the real kind) is the idea that people are supposed to be judged on the basis of their own merits, not as representatives of some class or category. Of course, one needn’t be absolutist about this. A little pride in your culture or ethnicity won’t do any harm. But reducing individuals simply to some abstract category is the very definition of bigotry.

There is no transitive property to age. If a 17-year-old cures cancer, that’s fantastic. But the 17-year-old who spends his days huffing glue and playing Call of Duty is still a loser. I’m a Gen Xer. I take literally zero pride in the good things people my age do. I also have zero shame about the terrible things people my age do. Why? Because age is as dumb a thing as height or hair color to hitch your self-esteem to. What kind of loser looks back on a life of mediocrity and sloth and says to himself, “Well at least other people in my age cohort did great things!”?

And yet, we constantly invest special virtue in young people. As Socrates explained to Meno, there are no special virtues for young people. There are simply virtues. If a young person says that 2 + 2 = 4, that’s no more right or wrong than if an old person says so. The bravery of one 18-year-old does not negate the cowardice of another 18-year-old.

And that gets me to the next of my supposedly outrageous points: Older people know more than younger people. I’ve been stunned by the number of people offended by this. A lot of folks are getting hung up on the fact that young people know more about some things than older people. Fair enough. The average young person knows more about today’s youth culture and gadgets than the average fogey. My daughter can identify the noise coming out of my car radio. When I was a kid, it was running joke that grown-ups couldn’t figure out how to make the VCR stop flashing “12:00.” It never dawned on me that knowing how to fix that problem meant I knew more about politics than my dad.

This isn’t just a point about technological know-how or public policy. There’s an emotional narcissism to youth. Because a rich cocktail of hormones courses through teenagers’ still-developing brains, young people think they are the first people to experience a range of emotions. But we’ve all experienced those emotions. It’s just that when you experience them for the first time, it’s easy to think it’s the first time anyone has experienced such emotions. The first time you fall in love — or think you’ve fallen in love — as a teenager is a wildly intoxicating thing. And there’s nothing more infuriating than when old people tell you, “It’s just a phase.” That, however, doesn’t mean it’s not true.

Indeed, “You just don’t get it!” might as well be the motto of youth.

My objection to youth politics is simply one facet of my objection to identity politics — but it’s also a part of my objection to populism. That’s because youth politics is a form of populism. It claims that passion and the group are more important than reason and the individual. It is the passion of the crowd. And when grown-ups bow before the rising generation, it is a form of power-worship. “Children are the future!” is literally true in the sense that they will be alive after the rest of us are dead. But that does not absolve the rest of us from our responsibilities. Nor does it negate arguments that young people don’t want to hear.

Liberals love to talk about root causes. If you assign blame for the Parkview school shooting to anyone or anything that meets your political worldview (guns, violent video games, inadequate mental health care, the ______ization of society, etc.) besides the shooter, then you also have to grant that the Parkview students who bullied, or bully, other students or merely shun them also deserve some blame. Tell that to a young gun control proponent and see what happens.

Someone (read here to try to discern whom) once observed that if you’re not a liberal at 20 you have no heart, but if you’re not a conservative by 40 you have no brain. We’re hearing from the liberals.

Attention fathers

Former police officer and current firearms instructor Kevan Norin:

Non PC alert: It takes a man to raise a man.

I was, to put it politely, a rebellious child, but I had three things going for me — strong male role models in the Norin and Blindheim families, fictional heros who reinforced positive masculinity as the provider and protector (Lucas McCain, Matt Dillon, Officers Reed and Malloy, nearly every role ever played by John Wayne, the list goes on) and a culture that upheld these roles as Good. I worked to pass this ideal to my son, and he is passing it on to his.

This comes to mind as there are so many lost boys out there, lacking what I had, and being sought out by forces willing to fill the void that don’t care about what they are producing or are actively trying to build a world devoid of Lucas McCains.

Just sayin’. Your mileage may vary. Before anyone points out the common thread of the capacity for violence, consider the line that divides criminal violence from ambiguous violence (Clint Eastwood didn’t do us any favors with Dirty Harry and The Cowboy with no Name) from righteous violence — and not the revenge genre made popular by movies like Death Wish.

Put in real terms, it’s what’s separates a killer with a gun walking into a school, and a police officer with a gun running into a school to stop him.

The aforementioned McCain, of “The Rifleman,” was TV’s first single father. Dillon, played on radio by William Conrad and on TV by James Arness, was the marshal of Dodge City, Kan., on “Gunsmoke.” While I didn’t watch those often …

… but I was a religious watcher of “Adam-12”:

The series began with Malloy (the driver, therefore my favorite) getting ready to quit the police department after his partner died. On ostensibly his last night, he gets a rookie partner, newly married with a child on the way. (Spoiler alert: Malloy doesn’t quit.)

The actor who played Malloy, Martin Milner, was a real-life role model. He was married for 58 years. He had a 50-year career in Hollywood.

Series like these have remained popular decades after they left the air not merely because cable TV channels need something to fill air time. Viewers didn’t see Reed the father, but over its seven seasons they saw Reed mature under Malloy’s guidance. They saw police officers act how police officers should act, and both “Adam-12” and “Emergency!” (whose Roy DeSoto was also a father, though that was not often depicted either) inspired many future police officers, firefighters, paramedics and EMTs.

I’ve written here before in commenting about the Boy Scouts that children need multiple male role models. That includes fictional role models.


Same as It Ever Was, People’s Republic of Madison Media Edition

David Blaska, formerly of The C(r)apital Times:

Any day now, the nicest guy in the world, Capital Times emeritus editor Dave Zweifel, will write a paean to a kinder and gentler politics, civil discourse, and the Chicago Cubs. Until then, his newspaper is talking more trash than Donald Trump on a tweet storm.

Their new name for their arch-nemesis is “Crooked Scott Walker.” Tit for tat, you Hillary haters!

In service of the nine or 20 Democrats running to replace Walker (we include “Cross Plains Woman”), The Capital Timesbad mouths the governor’s proposed, one-time $100 tax rebate to parents and his one-week sales tax holiday. Fair enough. The white lab coats at the Policy Werkes happen to agree that tax one-offs are bad policy.

But Dane County’s Progressive Voice is so unhinged that whatever thread of reason finds its way into its editorials gets drowned out by carpet-chewing, partisan bile. The following passage, as one example, goes beyond hyperbole into spittle-flecked hate:

Wisconsin’s governor is never going to do right by working families because he doesn’t serve them; he serves his campaign donors. The Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson and other out-of-state millionaires have paid for his political viability since he emerged as a statewide political figure. The only flexibility that Walker’s masters permit him is at election time, when the career politician is allowed to tinker with sales taxes in order to try to win a few votes.

“Walker’s masters!” What a hoot! That’s right, Scott Walker is really a Derail the Jail social justice warrior who made a Faustian bargain with the sulfurous Koch boys and is now trapped in their web.

“Never do right by working families?” Hey, working families, how do you like:

  • University tuition frozen six straight years
  • Property taxes reduced to the lowest relative level since World War 2
  • Income taxes on middle class families less than when Jim Doyle left office
  • 3.0% unemployment, the lowest in 18 years
  • Wage growth the 12th highest in the nation
  • More funding for K-12 education than ever ($11.5 billion) — up $636 million
  • Top 10 ratings among the states for high school graduation, quality of health care, and jobs for the disabled
  • Wisconsin’s bond rating upgraded to Aa1 by Moody’s for the first time since 1973?

Regurgitating Democrat(ic) party talking points

Dane County’s Progressive Voice is a corporation that exercises its right to coordinate, collude and conspire with any politician or political party it favors without fear of pre-dawn visits from the speech police and their battering rams.

Their speech does not have to be truthful, accurate, or fair. That’s its First Amendment right. Whether it hurts or helps its own cause will come out in the wash this November. The best jury consists of the voters, who have elected Scott Walker three times in the last eight years and went for Trump in once-blue Wisconsin. (Ron Johnson over “career-politician” Russ Feingold, priceless.)

The Capital Times has been such a partisan attack dog — and rabid, at that — for so long it has forfeited any credibility. Who do they persuade who isn’t already convinced? In which case, their rants become mere pandering to their base, Segway Boy, Thistle, and Hippie Bongstocking among them.

You are correct, former colleagues, “Sales taxes ARE inherently unfair. They DO place a greater burden on working families than on the rich.” So Walker is trying to give those taxpayers a break. A break that The Capital Times opposes!

Never met a tax hike it didn’t like

Did The Capital Times opposing a sales tax when Democrat Gaylord Nelson instituted one in 1962? No it did not. When Democrat Tony Earl made the 5% state sales tax permanent? No it did not. When Dane County adopted a 0.5% county sales tax? No it did not.

A flat wheel tax could be said to unfairly place a greater burden on working families than the rich, given that the unemployed guy driving a beater pays the same $28 as the Tesla leaving the Madison Club. The Capital Times remained silent as the liberals, progressives, and socialists on the Dane County Board gave their assent last November.

The Progressives can name check the Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelson all they want but what does that really say? That Wisconsin voters — deplorable fools that they are — three times have been hoodwinked?

In case those voters are as stupid as The Capital Times thinks them, the Progressive Voice advises take them to take the rebate, anyway.

The C(r)apital Times is hypocritical anyway by failing to call for sales taxes on advertising. The C(r)apital Times could also call for sales taxes on single-copy newspaper sales, but that wouldn’t hurt them because the former daily newspaper is now given away once a week.


The after-Sykes effect

Right now, Jerry Bader is supposed to go on the air on WTAQ in Green Bay, WSAU in Wausau and WHBL in Sheboygan.

But not today, and not anymore. WTAQ announced on its website:

WTAQ has announced that Jerry Bader will no longer host the Jerry Bader Show, which aired Monday through Friday from 9-11 am.

In addition to WTAQ in the Green Bay/Appleton market, Bader’s show aired on WHBL in Sheboygan and WSAU in Wausau/Stevens Point.

Bader joined parent company Midwest Communications, Inc. when it purchased WHBL in 2000, transferring to WTAQ four years later to become the station’s brand manager and mid-day talk host.

He transitioned to a part-time role in 2016, when he took a full-time position with MediaTrackers.org.

Operations Manager Jason Hillery says “we wish Jerry nothing but continued success with his career at MediaTrackers.org, and we are thankful for his years of service to the Northeast Wisconsin community and others in our state.”

Bader says “I appreciate all of the opportunities that Midwest Communications has given me, and I wish them all the best.”

WTAQ has begun its search for a replacement.

Interested applicants can apply via midwestcareers.com or jason.hillery@mwcradio.com.

The Green Bay Press–Gazette adds:

Conservative radio talk show host Jerry Bader was let go by Midwest Communications on Thursday. Bader said in a email it was because of his coverage of President Donald Trump.

Bader’s show was broadcast on WTAQ-AM from 8:40-11 a.m. daily in Green Bay. The station also carries conservative hosts Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin and Sean Hannity, none of whom are as critical of Trump as Bader sometimes was.

Bader recently changed the tagline of his program from “Close captioned for the reality impared” to “Truth over tribe.”

“Following my show today, management at Midwest Communications informed me that I was being let go. It was made clear to me that the reason was the manner in which I covered President Trump,” Bader said in his email.

“I have always tried to tell what I believed is the truth and more recently to comport my behavior, on and off the air, with my Christ-following faith, after I was saved in 2016. I’ve always known it was MWC’s microphone that I used each day. I have no regrets on how I’ve handled the show the past two and a half years.” …

Bader also is communications director for MediaTrackers.org, which its website says is “dedicated to media accountability, government transparency, and quality fact-based journalism.” He will continue in that role, which is not related to the radio job.

Charlie Sykes, who hosted a longtime conservative radio show in Milwaukee and who also has been critical of Trump and the far right, tweeted about Bader Thursday.

“Bader was a courageous, principled voice, who refused to join other talkers on Trump train despite threats from management. #Respect,” Sykes wrote.

Bader joined WTAQ in 2004 after Midwest Communications parted ways with Bill LuMaye, who joined the station in 1998. Bader’s show also was broadcast on Midwest Communications-owned stations in Sheboygan and Wausau. He worked in Sheboygan before coming to Green Bay.

Midwest Communications suspended Bader for two weeks in 2009 after an inaccurate report about Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton dropping out of the governor’s race. Bader took responsibility for the mistake and apologized. “One person is responsible for what happened here, and that is me,” he said when he returned to the air.

The WTAQ press release said the search for a replacement is underway.

No, it’s “under way.” And if you’re interested, this may be the position, though Bader’s time slot is not really “morning drive” in the radio world.

Bader and Sykes were two of four conservative talk hosts who committed flagrant acts of journalism by not treating Trump with kid gloves during the 2016 Wisconsin GOP primary. Thanks to those four (including Clear Channel’s Mark Belling and Vicki McKenna), Trump lost to Ted Cruz, though he won the state in November.

I confess to not listening often to Bader largely because when I was living in Northeast Wisconsin I’d listen to Sykes when I was driving somewhere during their shows. I do recall Bader being criticized over his saying something complimentary over the Oneida Tribe of Indians or tribal gaming. (Bader’s predecessor, Bill LuMaye, previously had a rock morning show with his son on a Midwest FM station before the station (regrettably) started carrying Bob and Tom, which I have found funny exactly once.)

The radio industry fires people all the time for reasons that would not be acceptable in the non-media world — you do good work but we’re changing formats so goodbye — but it’s not clear that that’s the case here, though Midwest may plan on replacing Bader with a non-political show, though that would be illogical if they plan on keeping Limbaugh and Hannity.

I did a story on Midwest Communications 22 years ago in my previous life as a business magazine editor. I met CEO Duke Wright, and I’ve known some other people with that company, and it seemed like a good place to work for radio. (Media workplaces rarely make those Best Places to Work For lists.) Midwest also has expanded significantly since I did that story in 1996.

What if Bader was fired for being critical of Trump? That would mean, presumably, that Bader was having a negative effect on WTAQ’s ratings and/or advertising dollars. That is not the same thing as listeners being critical of Bader’s being critical of Trump. If listeners are listening to someone they disagree with, the point of radio is to get advertisers through listeners. If they aren’t listening because of that disagreement, that’s a problem.

Conservative talk radio dominates the talk radio world because it sells better than liberal talk. One might find liberal talk show hosts in specific markets, or a radio station in the case of Resistance Radio in Milwaukee. But consider that Sly lost one station (the late WTDY in Madison) when its owners changed formats, had his liberal talk show replaced with a non-liberal music show (WBGR-FM in Monroe), and now is back in Madison, but doing a non-liberal music show. Madison’s former liberal talk station at 92.1 FM now does oldies. If liberal talk can’t survive in the People’s Republic of Madison, what does that tell you?

One wonders if the conservative divide between Trump zealots and NeverTrumpers cost Bader his job. There is speculation over whether Sykes quit or was going to be fired and allowed his own exit over his anti-Trumpness. Belling and McKenna appear to have taken the position I hold, that Trump should be praised when warranted and criticized when warranted. (Oftentimes in the same day.) If Bader is right about why he was fired, he is another victim of the regrettable national trend of unwillingness to be exposed to viewpoints with which one does not agree.

It is also possible that conservative talk has less interest, paradoxically, when Republicans are in charge. Rush Limbaugh got to beat on Bill Clinton and Barack Obama for eight years each as did Sykes; it’s something else to have to defend your own side, particularly when your own side does something it shouldn’t have done.

One also wonders if a de-politicization of talk radio is under way, or if Midwest plans on, after looking for a replacement for Bader, to insert a national show. The latter would be a negative move, because the best radio is live and local. As for the former, Sykes was succeeded by Jeff Wagner, who previously followed Sykes on the air weekdays, but reportedly in Sykes’ spot now is rather unpolitical. The most recent Milwaukee radio ratings placed WTMJ fifth, which is subpar for a heritage AM station that carries the Packers, Bucks and Brewers. (Even more unbelievably, WTMJ and its FM WKTI, formerly linchpins of the Journal Communications broadcast empire, are for sale.)

Or, as long as we’re discussing theories, one wonders if talk radio is on the way out, given the ability of listeners to access podcasts whenever they want instead of on a radio station’s schedule. (Sly has a website, of course.)

I confess that from time to time this has seemed interesting to do, until I think about how much content one would need to do three or four hours on the air every day. A friend of mine did that (his show was nonpolitical, though I did occasionally make an appearance), and it can’t be easy. For one thing, one probably has to be inundated in the world of pop culture, which I generally deplore. (Do not get me started on NBC’s “This Is Us.”) I don’t even have time to do a podcast, let alone talk on the air for four hours outside of whatever sporting event I’m covering. (Basketball tonight, weather permitting, and wrestling Saturday, by the way.)

The good thing about this blog is that it represents my views, whether readers agree with those views or not. I have never written something I didn’t believe when I wrote it. I have never written or said anything for the sole purpose of generating outrage or clicks. That’s probably why, even though Sykes was correct when he called me a media ho, I wouldn’t do well in full-time radio talk.

On the air everywherer

For those curious about the British pronunciation of “Prestegard,” my BBC World Service Newshour radio appearances are online — Tuesday recorded Steve and Wednesday live Steve (at 10 and 39 minutes).

(I recorded segments for BBC 4’s The World Tonight, but they didn’t get on the air. Oh, well.) The chaps from the Beeb love Culver’s, by the way.)

Now that I have made my first transatlantic media appearance (except perhaps for the games of a hockey player born in Moscow, and Russia’s not exactly transatlantic, is it?), and because I’m announcing two basketball games Friday night here, it is time for me to make an appearance on Wisconsin Public Radio’s Ideas Network’s The Morning Show Week in Review Friday at 8 a.m. (Central time in the U.S.)

My opponent is Bill Lueders of the Progressive Media Project and the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council. Despite our highly fractious joint appearance during Recallarama, we have gotten along after, you know, meeting each other in person. I assume Bill will be in the studio. In an effort to improve the broadcast quality, WPR is going to have me appear via Skype, as opposed to cellphone. The radio stations for which I announce games has similarly improved their sound quality by going from phone to this nifty tech … when it works. If I say it’s worked for great broadcast quality so far, of course it won’t work Friday night, so I’m not going to write that.

Whether I come to listeners via Skype, cellphone, landline or two cans tied together by a string, The Morning Show and all the other Ideas Network programming (including my favorite, Old Time Radio Drama Saturdays and Sundays from 8 to 11 p.m.) can be heard on WHA (970 AM) and W300BM (107.9 FM) in Madison, W215AQ (90.9 FM) in Middleton, WLBL (930 AM) in Auburndale, WHID (88.1 FM) in Green Bay, WHWC (88.3 FM) in Menomonie, WRFW (88.7 FM) in River Falls, WEPS (88.9 FM) in Elgin, Ill., WHAA (89.1 FM) in Adams, WHBM (90.3 FM) in Park Falls, WHLA (90.3 FM) in La Crosse, WRST (90.3 FM) in Oshkosh, WHAD (90.7 FM) in Delafield, W215AQ (90.9 FM) in Middleton, KUWS (91.3 FM) in Superior, WHHI (91.3 FM) in Highland, WSHS (91.7 FM) in Sheboygan, WHDI (91.9 FM) in Sister Bay, WLBL (91.9 FM) in Wausau, W275AF (102.9 FM) in Ashland, and of course online at www.wpr.org.

The biggest thing besides my media appearances, of course, is that Friday is Groundhog Day, in which should a designated rodent (Jimmy the Groundhog in Sun Prairie, presumably despite his biting the mayor last year, and Punxsutawney Phil elsewhere) see his shadow (and sun is in the forecast Friday morning), we will be cursed with six more weeks of winter. Of course, we Wisconsinites are cursed with six to 12 weeks of winter anyway. Nevertheless that reminded me of what I wanted to do back when I had commercial radio ambitions — report that Jimmy had seen his shadow to predict six more weeks of winter, followed by a dramatic live report (in the manner of Les Nessman) that Jimmy had been assassinated.

If Groundhog Day doesn’t impress you, Friday is also Hedgehog Day, Marmot Day, Candlemas, Crêpe Day, Bubble Gum Day, Heavenly Hash Day (for the ice cream, not hash browns or hashish), Tater Tot Day, Sled Dog Day and National Wear Red Day. Saturday is St. Blase Day (and given how much announcing I’m doing the next few weeks maybe I should get a throat blessing), Eat Ice Cream for Breakfast Day, and The Day the Music Died. Sunday is Create a Vacuum Day. I’d mention that Sunday is Super Bowl Sunday, except that Packer fans don’t care.


From Southwest Wisconsin to central London to the world

The recorded appearance of “Steve Prestegahd” on the BBC World Service’s NewsHour can be heard here at the 30-minute mark.

It should be a fascinating listen for those who want to understand why Donald Trump resonates with voters, including those in “rural Grahnt County.”

Live Steve can be heard at 8 a.m. Central time here.



Live worldwide from the world of bangers and mash

Ordinarily I have this attitude about grand speeches from politicians such as tonight’s State of the Union address:

However, I have to watch the State of the Union tonight — recorded, at least — because I’m going to be live on the BBC World Service’s Newshour program (or “programme” to the British), scheduled (pronounced “SHED-U-ulled”) Wednesday at 8 a.m. Central time, which I think is 2 p.m. Greenwich Mean Time, discussing said State of the Union speech. The catalogue of channels on the satellite radios in the vehicles includes the BBC World Service (which seems to employ many Irish announcers, perhaps ironically) on SiriusXM channel 120.

I also recorded some segments Friday that will probably be on the Newshour page, http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p002vsnk. Any way one listens, I imagine someone sitting in an Irish pub spitting out his (lukewarm) beer upon something I say, and in this case it means the entire world will have to learn to pronounce “Prestegard.” Right.

No one from the Beeb has offered to buy me a stereotypical English breakfast …

Would I eat this? You have to ask? Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

… but then again we’re not in Britain, though the downtown here was designed in the manner of a British village in 1835. (Meaning: Narrow streets and no place to park.)

I have determined that the older of the BBC crew is an authentic Brit because he knows what this is …

… and even in our discussion threw this in …

… while the other (from Canada, but we haven’t discussed hockey yet) knows this …

… which is a clever spinoff of this …

… which has nothing to do with these, but I decided to throw them in anyway:

(Since I’ve already included one British spelling here I will endeavour to include other British-spelled words elsewhere in this blog.)

I will watch recorded Donald Trump because I have a basketball game to announce between two former conference girls basketball rivals, Platteville and Cuba City, tonight at 7 here. The two teams have a combined 27–6 record, so it should be a good game. (I wonder if the BBC needs a basketball announcer.)

Newshour picked my corner of Wisconsin because a majority of its voters voted for Barack Obama in 2012 and Trump in 2016, and they’ve spent a few days here asking why. Of course, Wisconsinites have a reputation for merrily splitting their tickets. On the one hand, the Democrat won the state’s presidential electoral votes from 1988 to 2012, and this state had two Democratic U.S. senators from 1992 to 2010. During that time, however, there was a Republican governor for all but eight years, Republicans controlled at least one house of the Legislature most of that time (this area has been represented by a Democrat in the State Senate twice since statehood), and for the past seven years (minus a hiccup during Recallarama) have controlled both houses of the Legislature. I’m not sure if that makes Wisconsin the colour purple, as in the political centre, or it’s perhaps layered — blue on top, red below — though the entire state, minus a few legislative and Congressional districts, is pretty red right now.

Trump’s election seems to come down to one of two theories. The first is that while most establishment Republicans held their noses and voted for him, other voters voted for him because he resounded with them by refusing to play by establishment rules. The other, perhaps more simple, theory is that whatever his numerous faults are, Trump wasn’t and isn’t Hillary Clinton.

I’m certain he’ll sound statesmanlike tonight. He apparently did at Davos. It’s in those unplugged moments, when it’s him and his Twitter account, where he goes off the deep end. (Repeatedly.)  The longer he’s president, though, the more I wonder if those are calculated outbursts of calculated outrage and calculated offence targeted to his true believers.

When fictional football imitates real life

Almost a year ago I wrote about a few books, two of which were turned into movies, about fictional sports teams.

One of those was North Dallas Forty, a thinly veiled retelling of the 1960s Dallas Cowboys, which became one of those movies:

It turns out that ESPN.com wrote a more detailed comparison of the, uh, North Dallas Bulls and the Cowboys:

“North Dallas Forty,” the movie version of an autobiographical novel written by former Dallas Cowboy receiver Pete Gent, came to the silver screen in 1979. The book had received much attention because it was excellent and because many thought the unflattering portrait of pro football, Dallas Cowboys-style, was fairly accurate.

The film reached many more people than the book, and was, in many ways, a simplified version of the novel. But did it portray the NFL accurately? In the Sept. 16, 1979, Washington Post, offensive tackle George Starke wrote, “Most of what you see is close to what happens, or at least did happen when Pete Gent played.” Others disagreed. What do you think?

In Reel Life: The movie’s title is “North Dallas Forty,” and the featured team is the North Dallas Bulls.
In Real Life: Why North Dallas? Gent, a rookie in 1964, explains in an e-mail interview: “I was shocked that in 1964 America, Dallas could have an NFL franchise and the black players could not live near the practice field in North Dallas — which was one of the reasons I titled the book ‘North Dallas Forty.’ I kept asking why the white players put up with their black teammates being forced to live in segregated south Dallas, a long drive to the practice field. The situation was not changed until Mel Renfro filed a ‘Fair Housing Suit’ in 1969.”

In Reel Life: In the opening scene, Phil Elliott (Nick Nolte) is having trouble breathing after he wakes up; his left shoulder’s in pain. He struggles to the bathtub, in obvious agony.

In Real Life: Jim Boeke, one of Gent’s Cowboy teammates (who also plays Stallings in the film), said this scene rings true. “I can’t say it happens to every player every morning after every game,” he told the Washington Post in 1979, “but the older you get, the more it happens to you.”

In Reel Life: As we see in the film, and as Elliott says near the end, he can’t sleep for more than three hours at a stretch because he’s in so much pain.
In Real Life: Elliott is, obviously, a fictional version of Gent. “When I was younger, the pain reached that level during the season and it usually took a couple months for the pain and stiffness to recede,” says Gent. “Usually by February, I was able to sleep a good eight hours. As I got older, the pain took longer and longer to recede after the season.”

In Reel Life: Mac Davis plays Seth Maxwell, the Cowboys QB and Elliott’s close friend.
In Real Life: Maxwell is a thinly disguised version of Gent’s close friend, 1960s Cowboys QB Don Meredith. According to Gent, Meredith was offered the role of Seth Maxwell. “Don was at Elaine’s one night talking with Bud Sharke, [Frank] Gifford, and several others, and Don said, ‘I just don’t want others to think that’s me.’ And Gifford said, ‘Well, it is you.’ ”

“Gent would become Meredith’s primary confidant and amateur psychologist as the Cowboys quarterback’s life would become more and more topsy-turvy as the years went on,’ writes Peter Golenbock in the oral history, “Cowboys Have Always Been My Heroes.”

In Reel Life: Throughout the film, there’s a battle of wits going on between Elliott and head coach B.A. Strothers (G.D. Spradlin).
In Real Life: B.A. bears some resemblance to Tom Landry, who coached Gent on the Cowboys. “The only way I kept up with Landry, I read a lot of psychology — abnormal psychology,” says Gent in “Heroes.”

Though sometimes confused by Landry, Gent says he admired the man: “Over the course of a high school, college and pro career, an athlete is exposed to all sorts of coaches, (including) great ones who are geniuses breaking new ground in their game. Tom Landry was like that … When you are young, you think you are going to meet men like this your whole life. You think the world is full of genius, and it isn’t until you leave the game that you found out you may have met the greatest men you will ever meet.

In Reel Life: Jo Bob Priddy (Bo Svenson) and O. W. Shaddock (John Matuszak) interrupt Elliott’s relaxing bath, entering the bathroom with rifles blazing. Along with Maxwell, off-a-hunting they go.
In Real Life: Former Cowboys Ralph Neely (a tackle) and Larry Cole (defensive end) told Washington Post reporter Jane Leavy that the trip was real. “Football players have only one day off a week and if they go hunting, they’re sure as hell going to shoot something,” Cole said in 1979. “We shot butterflies, field larks …” And, Neely added, a mailbox.

In Reel Life: Everyone’s drinking during the hunting trip, and one series of shots comes dangerously close to Elliott and Maxwell.
In Real Life: “In Texas, they all drank when they hunted,” says Gent in “Heroes.” “That story in ‘North Dallas Forty’ of being in a duck blind and getting sprayed by shot was a true story. (Don) Talbert and (Bob) Lilly, or somebody else, started shooting at us from across the lake!” …

In Reel Life: Maxwell says, “Son, you ain’t never gonna get off that bench until you stop fighting them suckers. You got to learn how to fool them. Give ’em what they want. I know. I’ve been fooling them bastards for years.”
In Real Life: Meredith never really stopped fighting “those suckers,” meaning, really, Landry. The quarterback suffered through the early years with the Cowboys and Landry, and ended up leading Dallas to within minutes of NFL championships in 1966 and 1967. Still, Landry replaced Meredith with Craig Morton during a 1968 playoff game, and that was, apparently, the last straw. Meredith retired at age 29, hoping that Landry would ask him to continue playing. Landry didn’t, saying. “Don, I think you are making the right decision.” …

In Reel Life: Elliott and Maxwell go to a table far away from the action, and share a joint. A man in a car spies on them.
In Real Life: Gent says he was followed throughout the 1967 and 1968 seasons (more about this later): “One time a neighbor told me, ‘Pete, now don’t look, but there is somebody sitting in our parking lot with binoculars,’ ” he says in “Heroes.”

In Reel Life: At the party, and throughout the movie, Maxwell moves easily between teammates and groups of players, and seems to be universally respected.
In Real Life: Meredith “was greatly respected by his teammates for his great skills and his nerve on the field during a period of time in the NFL when knocking out the quarterback was a tactic for winning,” says Gent. He “would take awful physical beatings and somehow keep getting up and taking the team to wins … He was one tough SOB.”

In Reel Life: The Cowboys are worshiped. They are, as Maxwell puts it, “genuine heroes.”
In Real Life: The Cowboys were small time during the first half of the 1960s, but when they started winning under Landry, everything changed. “In 1964, if you bought an adult ticket, you got five kids in for nothing and a free football,” says Gent in “Heroes.” “The only time we filled the stadium was when Green Bay came. By ’66, we were sold out every game. In just two years, we went from our not being able to get a seat in a restaurant in Dallas to literally being America’s guest.”

In Reel Life: Elliott meets with B.A. The coach sits down in front of a computer, scrolling through screen after screen of information. He stops and points to the monitor. “Now that’s it, that’s it,” he says. “Phil, that’s what it all boils down to, your attitude.”
In Real Life: Clint Murchison, Jr., the team’s owner, owned a computer company, and the Cowboys pioneered the use of computers in the NFL, using them as early as 1962. “The Cowboys initially used computers to do self-scouting,” writes Craig Ellenport at NFL.com. “Were they too predictable on third-and-long situations? What was the average gain when they ran that trap play last season? As the Cowboys’ organization learned more about computers, they become a greater factor in the game-plan equation. ‘It was just another weapon that we had to do the job that had to be done,’ said Landry.”

In Reel Life: Elliott, in bed with Joanne Rodney (Savannah Smith), says he’s got the best hands in the league. Elliott’s high regard of his own abilities is a continuing theme throughout the film, and there’s plenty of screen action to back up the assessment.
In Real Life: Many of Gent’s teammates have said he wasn’t nearly as good as he portrayed himself in the book and the movie. “If I had known Gent was that good, I would have thrown to him more,” said Meredith, perhaps tongue-in-cheek, after reading the book.

Gent stands by his self-assessment, and says that Landry agreed about his ability to catch the ball. “Tom actually told the press that I had the best hands in the league,” says Gent. “And I did.” Gent, who played basketball in college, adds, “Catching a football was easy compared to catching a basketball.”

Gent, who was often used as a blocker, finished his NFL career with 68 catches for 898 yards and four TDs. In his best season, 1966, he had 27 catches for 484 yards and a touchdown.

In Reel Life: During a meeting, the team watches film of the previous Sunday’s game. In the film, Elliott catches a pass on third down, and everyone cheers. Except B.A., who says, “No, Seth, you should never have thrown to Elliott with that kind of coverage. Look at Delma. He’s wide open. I don’t like this buddy buddy stuff interfering with my judgment.”
In Real Life: Landry stressed disciplined play, but sometimes punished players when, even though they followed his precise instructions, a play went awry. For example, Landry benched Meredith during the 1968 NFL divisional playoff game against the Browns. He threw “an interception that should have been credited against Landry’s disciplined system of play,” writes Gary Cartwright, who covered the Cowboys during the 1960s. “According to Landry’s gospel, the Cleveland defensive back who intercepted Meredith’s final pass should have been on the other side of the field. Unfortunately, the Cleveland defensive back was in the wrong place. It wasn’t that Landry was wrong; Cleveland just wasn’t right.”

In Reel Life: The game film shows Stallings going offside. B.A. castigates the player: “There’s no room in this business for uncertainty.” Later, Stallings is cut, his locker unceremoniously emptied.
In Real Life: This happened to Boeke, a former Cowboys lineman, who was, in a way, playing himself in the film — Gent has said he was thinking of Boeke when he wrote this scene. “We were playing in the championship game in 1967, and Jim jumped offside, something anyone could do,” Gent told Leavy in 1979. “The NFL Films showed it from six or seven angles. They had it in slo-mo, and in overheads. It literally ended his career.” In fact, Boeke played another season for the Cowboys before being traded, but he agreed that the offside call was the beginning of the end.

In Reel Life: Art Hartman (Marshall Colt) is Maxwell’s backup at QB. He’s a very religious man, a straight arrow who is the object of some scorn. Maxwell refers to Hartman as “a dedicated young Christian stud.”
In Real Life: Lots of folks have played the guessing game about who Hartman “really” is, with Roger Staubach being the most frequently mentioned candidate. But Gent denied it after the film came out. “It’s not Staubach,” he told the Washington Post in 1979. “But don’t tell him, it’ll break his heart. That character was based on any number of players who got into all that religious bull.”

For one thing, Meredith and Gent were never teammates of Staubach. Meredith and Gent left the Cowboys after the 1968 season, one year before Staubach’s rookie season.

In Reel Life: Elliott catches a pass, and is tackled hard, falling on his back. Someone breaks open an ampule of amyl nitrate to revive him. Amyl is used in other scenes in the movie.
In Real Life: Gent says the drug was so prolific that, “one training camp I was surprised nobody died from using amyl nitrate.”

“In about 1967, amyl nitrite was an over-the-counter drug for people who suffered from angina,” Gent told John Walsh in a Feb. 1984 Playboy interview. “I talked to several doctors who told me it basically didn’t do any damage; it speeded up your heart and pumped a lot of oxygen to your brain, which puts you in another level of consciousness. At camp, I explained that this drug was legal and cheap — it cost about $2 for 12 ampules of it — everybody tried it and went crazy on it.”

In Reel Life: Elliott is constantly in pain, constantly hurt.
In Real Life: Lee Roy Jordan told the Dallas Times that Gent never worked out or lifted weights, and that Gent was “soft.” But Gent says Jordan’s comments were not accurate: “I was not particularly strong but I took my beatings to catch the ball,” he says. “That is how you get a broken neck and fractures of the spine, a broken leg and dislocated ankle, and a half-dozen broken noses.” And, he adds, that’s how he “became the guy that always got the call to go across the middle on third down.”

In Reel Life: Elliott wears a T-shirt that says “No Freedom/No Football/NFLPA.”
In Real Life: The NFL Players Association adopted this slogan during its 1974 strike.

In Reel Life: Elliott and Maxwell break into the trainer’s medicine cabinet, and take all kinds of stuff, including speed and painkillers.
In Real Life: Many players said drug use in the film was exaggerated, or peculiar to Gent. “Pete’s threshold of pain was such that if he had a headache, he would have needed something to kill the pain,” Dan Reeves told the Washington Post in 1979. As for speed pills, Reeves said, “Nobody thought there was anything wrong with them. A lot of guys took those things 15 years ago, just like women took birth control pills before they knew they were bad. It’s not as true a picture as it was 10 to 15 years ago, when it was closer to the truth.”

In Reel Life: At a team meeting, B.A. scolds the team for poor play the previous Sunday. “We played far below our potential. Our punting team gave them 4.5 yards per kick, more than our reasonable goal and 9.9 yards more than outstanding …”

In Real Life: Landry rated players in a similar fashion to what’s depicted in the scene, but the system, in Gent’s opinion, wasn’t as objective as it seemed. “They literally rated you on a three-point system,” writes Gent in “Heroes.” “On any play you got no points for doing your job, you got a minus one if you didn’t do your job, you got a plus one if you did more than your job. And a good score in a game was 17 … And they would read your scores out in front of everybody else. That was another thing. Tom thought that everyone should know who was letting them down. Right away I began to notice that the guys whose scores didn’t seem to jibe with the way they were playing were the guys Tom didn’t like.”

Meredith was one of those players. “He truly did not like Don Meredith, not as a player and not as a person,” writes Golenbock.

In Reel Life: North Dallas is playing Chicago for the conference championship. The owner says, “If we win this game, you’re all invited to spend the weekend at my private island in the Caribbean.”
In Real Life: According to Gent, the Murchisons did have a private island, but the team was never invited.

In Reel Life: Phil has already told B.A. that he’ll do whatever it takes to play, and before the game he takes a shot in his knee to kill the pain.
In Real Life: Gent, like many pro athletes, would go to extreme lengths to play, even when badly injured. He even expresses some guilt over not playing in the “Ice Bowl,” the 1967 NFL Championship Game which the Cowboys lost in the final seconds, 21-17, to the Packers in Green Bay. The game-time temperature was minus-13. “I would have played the whole game for Bobby Hayes. [Hayes put his hands in his pockets when he wasn’t the intended receiver, a tipoff exploited by the Packers.] His hands had swollen and cracked by the second quarter. I was used to playing in cold weather, but I was in the hospital with a broken leg.

“I have always felt that it [the loss] was partly my fault. Go figure that out.”

In Reel Life: Delma Huddle (former pro Tommy Reamon) watches Elliott take a shot in his knee. He says, “No shots for me, man, I can’t stand needles … All those pills and shots, man, they do terrible things to your body.” Later, though, the peer pressure gets to Huddle, and he takes a shot so he can play with a pulled hamstring.
In Real Life: Neely says this sequence rings false. “I cannot remember an instance where a player was made to feel he had to do this where he was put in the position of feeling he might lose his job.”

“Maybe Ralph can’t remember,” Gent responds in his e-mail interview. “Maybe he forgot all those rows of syringes in the training room at the Cotton Bowl. They seldom tell you to take the shot or clean out your locker. They leave you to make the decision, and if you don’t do it, they will remember, and so will your teammates. But worst of all, so will you — what if the team loses and you might have made the difference?”

In Reel Life: After one play, a TV announcer says, “I wonder if the coach called that play on the sideline or if Maxwell called it in the huddle.”

In Real Life: Who called the plays was one of many disputes between Meredith and Landry. “Landry literally could forget the game plan,” says Gent in “Heroes.” “When I would run in plays for him, he would call the wrong plays. Well, in ’66 it didn’t matter because Meredith was calling the plays, even when Landry would send them in. Lots of times Landry would send in a suggestion, and Meredith would send the player back out to publicly show up Landry. The player would start out, and Meredith would wave him back.”

In Reel Life: In the last minute of the game, Delma pulls a muscle and goes down. Elliott goes over to see how he’s doing. B.A. yells, “Elliott, get back in the huddle! The doctor will look after him. Mister, you get back in the huddle right now or off the field.”
In Real Life: Landry did not respond emotionally when players were injured during a game. Cartwright contrasted Landry’s style with Lombardi’s: “When a player was down writhing in agony, the contrast was most apparent: Lombardi would be racing like an Italian fishwife, cursing and imploring the gods to get the lad back on his feet for at least one more play; Landry would be giving instructions to the unfortunate player’s substitute.”

In Reel Life: Elliott catches a TD pass with time expired, pulling North Dallas to within one point of Chicago. If they make the extra point, the game is tied and goes into overtime. But Hartman fumbles the snap, and the Bulls lose the game.
In Real Life: This is similar to what happened in the 1966 NFL Championship game. The Packers led the Cowboys 34-20 with a little more than five minutes remaining. Meredith led a quick Dallas drive for one TD, and on the last drive of the game the Cowboys got to the Packers’ 2-yard line with 28 seconds left. A TD and extra point would have sent the game into OT. But Meredith’s pass was intercepted in the end zone by Tom Brown, sealing the win for the Packers and a heartbreaking loss for Dallas.

In Reel Life: After the loss, O.W. reams out Coach Johnson: “Every time I call it a game, you say it’s a business. Every time I say it’s a business, you call it a game!”

In Real Life: That speech got Matuszak the part of O.W. “(Director) Ted Kotcheff had Tooz read the speech … and Tooz blew everybody away,” says Gent.

In Reel Life: Elliott has a meeting the day after the game with Conrad Hunter (Steve Forrest). B.A., Emmett Hunter (Dabney Coleman), and “Ray March, of the League’s internal investigation division,” are also there. A league investigator recites what he saw while following Elliott during the week, including evidence that Elliott smoked a “marijuana cigarette.”
In Real Life: Gent was investigated by the league. “In the offseason after the ’67 season and all during ’68 they followed me,” he says in “Heroes.” “They had guys on me for one whole season.” The investigation began, says Gent in his e-mail interview, “because I entertained black and white players at my house. I have always suspected Lee Roy (Jordan) as the snitch who informed the Cowboys and the league that I was ‘selling’ drugs (because), as he says so often in the press, ‘Pete Gent was a bad influence on the team.’ ”

In Reel Life: Elliott gives a speech about how management is the “team,” while players are just more pieces of equipment.
In Real Life: Gent really grew to despise Cowboys management. “I wanted out of there,” he writes in “Heroes.” “I knew I was only going to play if they needed me, and the minute they didn’t need me, I was gone. And I knew that it didn’t matter how well I did. I could call Tom an ass—- to his face, and he wasn’t going to trade me until he had somebody to play my spot, and the moment he had somebody to play my spot, I was gone. And so from then on, that was my attitude toward Tom Landry, and the rest of the organization going all the way up to Tex Schramm.”

In Reel Life: The film stresses the conflict between Elliott’s view that football players should be treated like individuals and Landry’s cold assessment and treatment of players.
In Real Life: “I’ve come to the conclusion that players want to be treated alike,” Landry told Cartwright in 1973. “They may talk about individualism, but I believe they want a single standard … If a player is contributing and performing the way he ought to, he will usually conform … We just can’t get along with a player who doesn’t conform or perform. No way.”

In Reel Life: Elliott quits after he’s told he’s suspended without pay, “pending a league hearing.”
In Real Life: This scene was fiction — Gent wasn’t suspended. But the NFL didn’t take kindly to those who participated in the making of “North Dallas Forty.” Hall of Famer Tom Fears, who advised on the movie’s football action, had a scouting contract with three NFL teams — all were canceled after the film opened, reported Leavy and Tony Kornheiser in a Sept. 6, 1979, Washington Post article. And the Raiders severed ties with Fred Biletnikoff, who coached Nolte. “Freddy was not even asked back to camp,” writes Gent. Reamon, who played Delma, was cut by the 49ers after the film came out, and said he had been “blackballed.”

NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle denied any organized blacklist, but told The Post, “I can’t say that some clubs in their own judgment (did not make) decisions based on many factors, including that they did not like the movie.”

The Raiders’ “severed ties” with Biletnikoff are somewhat hard to believe. Biletnikoff retired from the NFL after the 1978 season, his 14th with the Raiders, though he was a player/coach with the Canadian Football League’s Montreal Alouettes in 1980. Nine years after that, he was hired as the Raiders’ receivers coach, which lasted until 2006.

Given the Raiders being the NFL’s rebel franchise under owner Al Davis, the only way the Raiders would have severed ties with Biletnikoff for his role with the movie is if Davis didn’t like it. The NFL’s opinion would have meant little to Davis, who sued the NFL so he could move the Raiders to Los Angeles, moving back to Oakland in 1995.