In Other News… Derby 143, McConnell On FBI Firing, KFC Romance Novella, Lawrence’s ‘Red Sparrow’ Will Carry ‘R’ Rating

Always Dreaming: Your 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby was on Saturday. Your winner: co-favorite Always Dreaming, says The Washington Post, ESPN, Fox Sports, USA Today, Forbes, Sports Illustrated and every other media source with an internet connection.

Jockey John Velazquez rode Always Dreaming for trainer Todd Pletcher, winning in 2:03 by 2 ¾ lengths on a muddy track. He led most of the race, evidenced by the relatively clean horse and silks compared to every other jockey and horse caked in mud.

The New York Times said the victory produced a “winner’s circle reunion party” for jockey and trainer.

Said Pletcher of Velazquez and the win:

“We have had a great relationship for a long time now, and we have won a lot of races together. This is the one we wanted to win together.”

Said Velazquez of Pletcher and the win:

“This is the best horse Todd and I have ever come to the Kentucky Derby with. Being behind me for 24 years together, a long time for him to still trust in me and give me the opportunity, it’s not very often it happens in this business.”

Always Dreaming had 9-2 odds. ESPN says Churchill Downs set a new record. The Derby and its race card for the day saw total wagering break $200 million.

FiveThirtyEight says the Kentucky Derby is getting evermore predictable in a race known for unpredictability, with the favorites wearing the roses every year since 2013. They take a deep dive into what they think is going on, be it trend or anomaly.

The New York Times takes the other side, asking how much of a Kentucky Derby victory is just good old fashioned luck.

As promised, I bet on the one-eyed horse and as predicted, he lost. By a lot. He started in the 20th post position and finished 14th.

Per usual, people aren’t coming just to play the ponies. They’re coming for the tradition.

ESPN says this also marks the 100th birthday of Man o’ War, described as “the greatest racehorse to appear on the American turf.” They link the thoroughbred’s lineage throughout Derby history and boy howdy, he was one busy sire. The article reads like the “begat” section of Genesis.

And The History Channel goes back to the man who started it all: Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr. Inspired by European horse racing, he teamed up with John and Henry Churchill and in 1875, Churchill Downs was a thing.

They’re also coming to get sloshed. BuzzFeed has “27 Of The Most Insane Pictures Ever Taken At The Kentucky Derby.” Not for nothing, a healthy percentage of the photos come from the infield.

From Russia with Love: President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday, reports NPR and Bloomberg.

As the head of the FBI, Mr. Comey was the face of an ongoing investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election as well as any connection to the president’s administration. President Trump denied any connection to the firing and the investigation earlier this week but as TIME and The Washington Post report, the White House and President Trump continue to change the reasons for Mr. Comey’s termination. In the days following, the record seemed to shift depending on the day and who was talking.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer tried to avoid the whole thing altogether:

BREAKING: Live footage of Sean Spicer hiding in the #WhiteHouse bushes:

— FroBro Baggins ✊🏾 (@word_made_FRESH) May 10, 2017

Newsweek and USA Today cite an NBC News and SurveyMonkey poll saying most Americans don’t think Comey’s firing was appropriate. Of those polled, 54 percent disapprove; only 38 percent say the firing was appropriate.

The Hill says three ethics lawyers for President Bush and President Obama wrote an op-ed for USA Today. They label the firing as “worse than breaking a law.”

NPR reports Mr. Comey, in his farewell letter to the department, said, “I will be fine.” With all due respect and great sympathy for Mr. Comey, I don’t think people are as worried about you so much as what happens next.

Which brings us to our senior senator from Kentucky, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. As renewed calls for independent investigations and the appointment of a special prosecutor rang through the halls of Washington, Sen. McConnell silenced the conversation, says Politico and CNN.

Sen. McConnell said on Wednesday:

“Today we’ll no doubt hear calls for a new investigation, which could only serve to impede the current work being done.”

He referenced the ongoing Senate intelligence committee investigation, saying:

“Partisan calls should not delay the considerable work of Chairman Burr and Vice Chairman Warner. Too much is at stake.”

To be fair, one of the most vocal advocates for an independent investigation is Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona.

Sen. McConnell defended President Trump’s decision from the Senate floor, says The New York Times.

The Washington Post says that move along with the obstruction of an independent investigation may be “the most important mistake of his career.” The Guardian believes Sen. McConnell’s motives are simple:

“McConnell knows that as Trump’s fortunes dim, so does his party’s, and an independent investigation unearthing uncomfortable facts may just endanger his slim majority. McConnell will fight to survive. He won’t fight for anything else.”

Lately I wonder what the history books might say, both of this time in general and Sen. McConnell in particular. I wonder if he wonders that.

True Romance: Your friends at KFC have a new Mother’s Day promotion, says TIME, Geek, Inc and The Root.

It’s a romance novella entitled “Tender Wings of Desire.”

Here’s the ad:

“Let Colonel Sanders take care of dinner and mom’s fantasies.”

Dear God.

“Tender Wings of Desire” tells the story of a strapping sailor named Harland who saves the Lady Madeline from a passionless relationship and presumably makes her dinner.

Colonel Sanders himself gets the writing credit and the 96-page novella can be found on Amazon for $.99, free for Kindle Unlimited.

Here’s the book cover and description:

When Lady Madeline Parker runs away from Parker Manor and a loveless betrothal, she finally feels like she is in control of her life. But what happens when she realizes she can’t control how she feels? When she finds herself swept into the arms of Harland, a handsome sailor with a mysterious past, Madeline realizes she must choose between a life of order and a man of passion. Can love overcome lies? What happens in the embrace of destiny, on the Tender Wings of Desire?

As of this writing, “Tender Wings of Desire has a healthy 3.5-star rating on Amazon. Here’s what customers are saying (all spelling and grammar are the original poster’s):

“The cover lead me on. I thought it would be a meme. Writing was decent. The buildup was too slow. Just not my thing. /:”

“This erotic mixing of battered chicken and baby batter would have gotten five stars from me, but unfortunately the cover kills it. This historical romance is supposedly from the past, yet the woman in the cover is wearing jeans and has a purse which has car keys hanging from it. My immersion was completely ruined.”

“The Colonel made for a dashing hero (as one would expect), but overall, the story was anti-climatic in more ways than one. I found myself craving more drama, more excitement, and I definitely could have done with a lot more chicken. I was also hoping for some scandalous bedroom scenes…”

“I feel as autobiographical books go this one was lacking. There was very little back story of the colonels days on the Barbary coast or his involvement in the American Civil War.”

“This was actually well written, but if you are looking for smut, this is not for you. It’s a sweet little love story.”

“Omg! This is a perfect example of why I don’t read historical novels!”

Customers who bought “Tender Wings of Desire” also bought “An Unseen Attraction (Sins of the Cities),” “Doing it to Death: Shivers and Sins Volume 2,” and Kurt Vonnegut’s “Cat’s Cradle.”

Taking Flight: Last week, we saw photos emerge of Jennifer Lawrence on the set of her latest film “Red Sparrow.” This week, The Hollywood Reporter says that film is going to receive a “hard R” rating.

Director Francis Lawrence screened new footage in London at a special event last Friday. Said Mr. Lawrence:

“It’s definitely R. When I read the book and I made the pitch to the studio about what the approach would be, this was a definite R. Nobody’s chickened out or got cold feet, everybody’s gone for it from the beginning. It’s a hard R.”

“Red Sparrow” is based on the novel of the same name, with Jennifer Lawrence playing a Russian ballerina-turned-seductress/spy who falls for Joel Edgerton’s CIA officer. Mr. Lawrence worked with Ms. Lawrence on a few of the “Hunger Games” films.

“Red Sparrow” is due in theaters in March of 2018.

Meanwhile — and I don’t know why I do this to myself — the loathed E! ran an essay this week: “Normal Got Jennifer Lawrence This Far, but Mega-Stardom Has Officially Taken Over: A Look at the Actress’ Pivotal Next Chapter.”

The 2,000-plus word piece chronicles the last four or five years and Ms. Lawrence’s career choices and achievements. The thesis: Jennifer Lawrence has probably changed as she became one of the highest-paid and most recognizable actors in the world.

From the article:

Lawrence became a so-called cool girl by always being the first to insist how uncool she really is. She made a valiant argument for herself, but it’s no use now. She’s freakin’ cool, and though there will always be naysayers, the real test of her staying power moving forward will be how she handles the acknowledgment that her establishment status is no longer up for debate.

This piece breaks my heart. Not for Jennifer Lawrence’s lost innocence and anonymity, but that someone was paid — probably very well — to churn out 2,000 words to say famous people are famous.

Dog Day Afternoon: One of our intrepid reporters stumbled upon this piece on Twitter:

Today I stumbled upon this crate at Dog Hill in memory of somebody's best friend. Give a ball. Take a ball. Cherokee Park is the best.

— Michael Moeller (@MoellerMD) May 11, 2017

What? I’m not crying. You’re crying.

If you’re in the park with your dog, hop up to dog hill and pay tribute to Jade with a little game of catch with your pup.

See you next week.

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In Other News… Derby 143, McConnell on FBI firing, KFC romance novella, ‘Red Sparrow’ will carry ‘R’ rating