I get a lot of random movie ideas. This is one of them, a Romantic Comedy for the age of globalization:



Bob lives in American suburbia. He works all day in a corporate cube in an office park and comes home to an apartment in a shitty beige building in a complex of shitty beige buildings. He gets up, has a long day at work, goes to the gym, gets home, has a quick dinner, watches TV and goes to sleep. Day in day out. He has few friends. Unsatisfying anonymous soul-sucking life. He is not a boring guy but he is in a terrible rut and his usual positive nature has been overrun with cynicism.

One night he’s surfing an online dating website and on a whim he sets his search to women who “live anywhere.” He meets a Chinese woman, Qi. (Qi translated is Jade.) They begin an online relationship. He lives for the moments at night they message or Skype. Soon they Skype every night. He tries to get her to come to the US. He knows “she” might be catfishing him but he doesn’t care. He’s enjoying it as long as the illusion lasts.

Then we see it from Qi’s perspective. She’s a divorced mom. She is kind in her daily life as she cares for her young kids and gets them off to school etc. In short, she is everything we’ve heard her tell Bob she is. He hasn’t been catfished. She has been honest with him EXCEPT for one act of omission revealed to us at the end of Act I: Qi is the star of a provincial TV show and Bob doesn’t know it but he is her co-star.


The show — “We Love You Bob” — is on every night in the Chinese province. It features Bob’s Skype calls, messages, hopes, fears, etc with snarky commentary. He is far from anonymous in this Chinese province. He is famous and beloved and mocked. Every time he complains about his life in suburbia, it becomes water cooler talk for 100 million people. He has no idea, however.

Back and forth between perspectives. Small things happen: like staff of Chinese restaurant starts being weirdly nice to him. Qi begins to feel guilty but at the same time she really cares for him. Qi keeps putting him off about visiting the US but finally she convinces him to visit her in China.


Bob goes to China. His visit is set to be the grand finale of the TV show. He thinks he’s coming to meet her. Bob arrives in the province and mobs of people are waiting to see him. He slowly realizes what has happened as it seems like the entire country has come out to welcome him. At the same time he’s upset. He feels betrayed. But he ends up forgiving Qi, relishing his fame and they marry and stay in China.

Schmazzer XVII

No doubt FifthLung readers have anxiously awaited the results of Schmazzer Bowl XVII, the Super Bowl for the world-famous Schmazzer Fantasy Football League.

Schmazzer XVII, which took place over weeks 16 and 17 of the 2014 NFL season, pitted FifthLung’s El Blizzardo Diablo versus alert reader Wrathakahn’s Crotch Dogs. These two teams met in the championship game before, in 2002’s Schmazzer V with Wrathakahn’s Mocha Jihad beating my Treesplitters 112-105. Football wags wondered, could El Blizzardo Diablo exact revenge for the Treesplitter defeat? This question was answered in one of the most thrilling finishes in Schmazzer history.

EBD had cruised through the regular season to an 11-2 record and the league’s highest total points. They did so on the backs of Andrew Luck’s breakout season and the league’s three best WRs, Antonio Brown, Demaryius Thomas and Jordy Nelson. However, as the playoffs approached, the Diablos were running out of steam.

The Crotch Dogs, on the other hand, finished 7-6 but by the end of the season they were on the rise, with key players like RB Arian Foster and TE Rob Gronkowski coming off injury and scoring big. Crotch Dogs GM Wrathakahn drafts strong and for the most part sticks to his guns. (He made only 16 player transactions versus EBD’s 50). His patience paid off, with Foster and Gronk rejoining an already solid team anchored by RB Matt Forte and WRs Alshon Jeffrey and Julian Edelman.

And just before the Schmazzer Bowl, the Dogs made a key pickup: Matt Asiata, the grinder RB for the Vikings. The irony here was that EBD had won the previous year’s Schmazzer Bowl by picking up Cordarelle Patterson just before Week 17. This allowed EBD to prevail in heartbreaking fashion over the Psycho Whores from Hell, who had dominated the league in 2013. So now in 2014 I was afraid I’d get Asiata’d the way I had Cordarelle’d the PWfH last year.

In the first round of the 2014 Schmazzeroffs (Weeks 14 & 15), the Diablos scored 219 points in defeating Ev’s Austin Droogs and the Crotch Dogs scored 259.9 points in defeating Shikesman’s Wildlings. Given those scores, it’s no surprise that Schmazzer pundits expected the Crotch Dogs to coast to an easy Schmazzer Bowl victory.

Week 16

After Week 16, it looked bleak for the Diablos. The Crotch Dogs’ RB trio of Matt Forte, Arian Foster and Matt Asiata led them to a healthy lead over EBD: 112.9 to 94.6. A pathetic 4.4 point performance from Andrew Luck absolutely killed my beloved Diablos. The Dogs’ top scorer was Matt Asiata with 21.7 points. I HAD BEEN ASIATA’D! So at halftime of Schmazzer XVII, my Diablos were three touchdowns behind. I was in big trouble.

Week 17

In Week 17, the Crotch Dogs had 6 out of 9 players in the early games. I had 3 out of 9. Not that I actively try to arrange this but I love it when my guys play later. You get a feel for how the opponent’s team is doing so you can either feel quietly confident or if they do well you can still imagine your guys getting many TDs — and thus postpone the agony of defeat. The Crotch Dogs did not do terribly in the early games but they weren’t great either. They took a devastating hit when Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski was made inactive and they didn’t have time to sub in a replacement TE. Edelman was out too, and then Foster did not play a full game due to injury. He still got a TD but probably would have had at least one more plus many more yards.

So after the early games, I felt pretty good. My chances had gone from horrible to decent. The Crotch Dog core of Forte, Foster, Asiata, Jeffrey and Gronk had gotten only 30.9 points. And I still had my core of Antonio Brown, Jordy Nelson, Demaryius Thomas yet to play. Earlier in the year I would have felt supremely confident. But by then they were hitting fewer home runs, so to speak.

Because Andrew Luck had been a disaster in Week 16 and was likely to play little in Week 17 in a meaningless game for the Colts, I picked up Cam Newton. He was on the upswing and playing the awful Atlanta Falcons defense. The Crotch Dogs had Russell Wilson against a tougher Rams defense. I hoped they would at least cancel each other out.

In the late games, Jordy and Demaryius had solid but not great games — no TDs. But Newton actually outscored Wilson 19.7 to 10.3. Those 9 points provided a nice chunk of the points I needed to catch up to the Dogs. Cam scored most of those points in the first half. The Falcons were so terrible Cam didn’t have to do much in the second half (and highlighted my poor decision to start the Atlanta kicker). The cruel irony is that Cam had been a Crotch Dog early in the year but had been so bad Wrathakahn cut him.

The early games were over. The late afternoon games were over. And there was one game left in the 2014 NFL Regular Season, the last game in the 2014 Schmazzer League season: the night game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals. Going into this last game, the Crotch Dogs held on to a 6 point lead over the Diablos. The Dogs had one player left to play: Steelers WR Martavis Bryant. The Diablos had two: Steeler WR Antonio Brown and Cincy RB Jeremy Hill.

Brown was most likely to get a ton of short passes and occasionally break one into a long gain or TD. Hill was a workhorse back and had become the primary back late in the season but shared time with Gio Bernard. They were steady Eddies with bursts of greatness. Bryant on the other hand was a boom or bust rookie who had scored 7 TDs that year, and his specialty was long TD receptions. 50 yards and a TD was very possible for Bryant, 10+ points in one play.

I hoped for 20+ point games from both of my guys because I always hope for big games. But more realistically, I expected 8-10 points each from Hill and Brown at a minimum. But there was always a risk of Bryant getting a long TD. So he could easily get, say, 14 points. Throw in the 6 point lead the Dogs already had and it was likely to be a very close game. Squeaky Bum Time.

One more thing, and this is very important: ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN IN FANTASY FOOTBALL.

Steelers v. Bengals

As the game started it was Crotch Dogs 172.1, EBD 166.3.

Pittsburgh got the ball first and had a short drive. No points for Schmazzer Bowlers. The Steelers then punted to the Bengals, who had a three and out. Jeremy Hill had eight yards for 0.8 points on that drive: Dogs 172.1, EBD 167.1. Then, with 11:13 left in the 1st Quarter, Cincinnati punted to . . . ANTONIO BROWN.

Brown caught the ball and ran right. Almost tackled, he reversed field and ran back left around the punt coverage and 71 yards down the left sideline for a TD. As he reached the end zone he executed an ill-advised flip and landed with a bounce on his back. So I was excited and worried at the same time.

We do not score return yards but Brown got 6 points for the TD. Incredible play by Brown and he took EBD into the lead, barely: EBD 173.1, Dogs 172.1.

During the next 20 game minutes, we Diablos built on our lead. Hill and Brown both accumulated yards but neither scored. I was ahead by 9 points and the Steelers and Bengals were tied 10-10 when, with 6:51 left in the 2nd Quarter, Andy Dalton threw high to AJ Green, Green couldn’t pull it down, and the Steelers intercepted. Andy Dalton sucks.

Two plays later, with 5:58 left in the half, Big Ben threw a wide receiver screen to . . . MARTAVIS BRYANT! Bryant ran through the Bengal defense for 21 yards and a TD. This earned the Crotch Dogs 8.1 points: Diablos 181.3, Crotch Dogs 180.2.

For the rest of the first half, through the 3rd Quarter, and well into the 4th Quarter, Bryant, Brown and Hill did not score but Brown and Hill accumulated more yards, again slightly increasing the Diablo’s lead. And the Steelers were leading the game as the second half progressed so they went into kill-the-clock mode. This meant they were mostly lining up in a running formation with Antonio Brown as the lone WR. Martavis Bryant was not even on the field!

With 4:00 left in the 4th Quarter and season and Schmazzer Bowl, it was Diablos 189.8, Dogs 180.2. It appeared the Diablos were bumbling toward Schmazzer victory.

But at that four minute mark, Andy Dalton threw to AJ Green, who got slammed by a Steeler and coughed up the ball. The Steelers recovered the fumble on their 30 yard line. After this change of possession, when the Steeler offense came out on the field, they were not in that running formation. They were in a passing formation. And Martavis Bryant was out there. He lined up wide left.

With 3:51 left on the clock, Big Ben took the snap and went back to pass. He looked left. He wanted to go to . . . MARTAVIS BRYANT. Bryant was streaking down the left sideline. Big Ben threw the pass. If it connected it would be a 70 yard TD throw — 13 fantasy points in one play. If it connected, the Dogs would retake the lead, Dogs 193.2 to EBD 189.8. This throw could win the Schmazzer Bowl for the Dogs.

But Big Ben overthrew Bryant. Three plays later, with 3:01 left, the Steelers were in shotgun formation. Antonio Brown was wide right, Bryant left. Big Ben took the snap and looked right. He arced a long one into the arms of . . . ANTONIO DAMN BROWN.

Brown had outrun his coverage and had a clear path to the end zone . . . except for a Steelers player who was running toward him as if to make the tackle. That Steelers player who seemed intent on preventing Brown from scoring was . . . MARTAVIS DAMN BRYANT!

What was he thinking? Was he trying to save the game for the Crotch Dogs? Bryant ran into Brown and both players stumbled. Then Bryant fell to the turf while Brown stayed upright and ran on to the end zone for a 63 yard TD. The score was now Diablos 202.6, Dogs 180.2.

And that was the final score. Neither Bryant, Brown nor Hill touched the ball again. And so the Schmazzer Bowl came down to two throws in the last four minutes of the last game. Really one throw, the incompletion intended for Bryant. That swung Schmazzer XVII.

Week 17

Late in his first term as President, Dwight D. Eisenhower had a heart attack. It was September 24, 1955 and it happened in Denver. The following quotes come from Ike’s Bluff by Evan Thomas, an excellent history of Ike’s Presidency focusing on his foreign policy.

President Eisenhower did not like to have his golf game interrupted. On September 23, he played a morning round at the Cherry Hills County Club outside Denver. Ann Whitman [his private secretary] recorded in her diary that she had never seen him “look or act better,” possibly because he had just spent four days fishing in the mountains or because his popularity polls stood at an astronomical 80 percent in the afterglow of the “Spirit of Geneva.”

Ike was a frequent golfer. The Presidency is such a stressful job maybe we should stop getting mad at Presidents who play “too much” golf. Ike often played the Cherry Hills course when he was in Denver.

By lunch he was in a foul mood. Three times he had been summoned from the course to take a call from Secretary of States Dulles — only there was a mix-up, and Dulles (who often spoke as often as eight times a day by phone with the president) had not been on the line. The president’s game collapsed after the 14th hole. At lunch, Ike wolfed down a hamburger slathered with Bermuda onions and headed back for nine more holes. Again he was interrupted to take a call from the secretary of state. “These onions are backing up on me,” he told his golf partner, the club pro. At dinner, he felt some indigestion and skipped his usual cocktail. Ike was staying in Denver at the home of his in-laws, the comfortable eight-room house on a tree-shaded street where Mamie Doud had grown up.

The Doud house is located in the middle of the 700 block of Lafayette Street in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Denver. It is of special interest to me because I grew up next door. We bought our house in 1966 and lived there for over 40 years. The Colorado State Historical society has a photo of Ike sitting in a convertible in our neighbor’s driveway with our house in the background.

Ike & Mamie visited her parents often and when they did, Ike would sit on the front porch with his Secret Service detail and chat with neighborhood kids. One of those kids, John Archibold, lived in a beautiful house on the corner of 7th & Lafayette. John gave an interview to the Eisenhower Presidential Center about chatting with Ike and talked about how Ike once gave him a free ride to the East Coast on the Presidential plane. John was heading back to college but this use of taxpayer dollars became a minor nationwide scandal. After college, John came back to Denver, bought the house from his mother, and his son Steve was a childhood buddy of mine.

Back to Ike and his indigestion next door. Ike loved reading western novels, unless a woman appeared and there was romance, at which point he moved on to the next western.

He retired early to read a western. At about 2 a.m., Mamie, sleeping in the next room, got up to go to the bathroom, and she heard her husband stirring in bed. Looking in, she thought he seemed troubled and asked if he was having a nightmare. “No dear, but thank you,” he said. He complained of pain in his upper abdomen. Accustomed to Ike’s stomach troubles, she gave him some milk of magnesia and called the president’s doctor, Howard Snyder.

At age seventy-four, Snyder was old to be the president’s person physician, and Ike’s millionaire friends fretted that he might not know the latest diagnoses and treatments. But the handsome, six feet three Snyder, whom Ann Whitman affectionately called “Old Duck,” knew his patient, including his anxious stomach and mild hypochondria, and was attentively if sternly sympathetic. Arriving at the house shortly after 2:00 a.m., Snyder checked his patient’s vital signs and decided, he later said, that the president was having a heart attack.

According to some notes that Snyder later made, the doctor engaged in a lonely bedside drama. He immediately injected Ike with morphine for the pain and drugs to stop his blood from clotting. He tried to put an oxygen mask on him, but the patient resisted. Ike began to sweat profusely. By four o’clock, his blood pressure was dropping and he seemed to be going into shock. Snyder tried to warm him with rubbing alcohol and then told Mamie to climb into bed and wrap herself around her husband to keep him from shaking. Ike finally fell asleep at about five.

At eight, Snyder told the deputy press secretary to put out the word to reporters that the president was suffering from “digestive upset.” He would later claim that he wanted to let the president rest, that he didn’t want to unduly alarm Mamie (with whom he had not shared his apprehensions of a heart attack), or the staff, and that he wanted to wait to confirm his diagnosis.

All this was almost surely a lie. As historian Clarence Lasby has convincingly shown from the documentary evidence (which Snyder did his best to cover up), Snyder misdiagnosed Eisenhower in the early morning hours. “Indigestion” was not a cover story; it’s what Snyder mistakenly believed was causing Ike’s suffering. He did not administer the anti-coagulants or try to fit the president with an oxygen mask. He probably did help him to the bathroom. Snyder did not realize the president had suffered a coronary thrombosis until Ike was given an EKG after he woke up at 1:00 p.m. Then the president was finally driven to the hospital.

When the news got out, the stock market crashed, heart specialists were flown in and Ike spent seven weeks recuperating at Denver’s Fitzsimmons Army Hospital. He had 66 visitors during this time period including Vice President Richard Nixon and while there was an attempt to keep up appearances, visits were limited to 15 minutes and Ike was not allowed to read the newspaper. He recovered and went on to win re-election and serve a second term.

In Ike’s Bluff, Evan Thomas argues that Ike’s determined leadership saved us from several potential nuclear confrontations. Ike thought nuclear weapons meant the end of war because any war could lead to total war and total war meant mutual annihilation. He began to think the enemy was war itself, not the Russians or the Chinese. His “bluff” was that he never told anyone — not a single person ever – whether or not he would use nuclear weapons. So other international actors always had to fear any escalation could lead to nuclear war, which nobody wanted. Even Khrushchev thought nuclear war was insanity. Because of Ike’s military background, international actors also knew (or suspected) he was capable of retaliation if provoked.

What if Ike had died in Denver that night due to Dr. Snyder’s improper diagnosis? Richard Nixon would have been at the helm starting in 1955 instead of 1969. Evan Thomas talks about how Vice President Nixon favored military intervention in Vietnam in 1954 to help the French as Dien Bien Phu was falling. Ike said no. How would a President Nixon would have handled the Suez Canal Crisis of 1956 or the Formosa Strait Crisis of 1958? How would that earlier President Nixon have handled the Soviet Union?

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