Monthly Archives: January 2014

A brave 11-year-old stands up to bullying. A Seattle Seahawks player like none you’ve ever seen. And 5 minutes of awesome movie dancing

And a Happy Friday to you all; we start this week’s Good News Friday with a very brave little boy.

Caine Smith is 11 years old, has long hair, and is being raised by two moms. He recently was the star of this wonderful video from a group called The Bully Project, which raises awareness of the chronic problem.

It’s only a three-minute clip, but what Caine does at the end takes all kinds of bravery if you ask me.

**Next up, this made me all kinds of happy. One of those People Who Make Cool Internet Videos has put together a 5-minute compilation of awesome dancing scenes in movies. And as an added bonus, it’s set to the 1980s classic “Safety Dance” by Men Without Hats!

**And finally, I’m pretty psyched for this Sunday’s NFC and AFC championship games. Both the Patriots-Broncos game at 3 p.m. and the Niners-Seahawks game at 6:30 pm. should be terrific.

One player on the field you probably won’t hear much about is Derrick Coleman, the Seahawks’ fullback. Fullbacks rarely get attention in the NFL, because they hardly touch the ball.

But Coleman has made his mark on the NFL’s best team this year while being deaf, the first offensive player in the NFL with that impairment.

Check out this fantastic commercial from Duracell, with Coleman’s voice-over, and tell me you don’t get chills…

Bruce and Fallon team up again, awesomely. Memory wizards revisited, on “60 Minutes.” And are you a psychopath? 1 question tells all

So Bruce Springsteen went on Jimmy Fallon’s show Tuesday night, and predictably, something awesome happened. The two teamed up for a fabulous duet a couple years back (Willow Smith’s “Whip My Hair”) and it was fantastic, but this one from this week may be even better.

That’s right, “Born to Run” gets the Gov. Chris Christie scandal treatment. God I love both of these guys singing…

**So after CBS and “60 Minutes” finished shoveling dirt on Alex Rodriguez’s baseball career last Sunday (they did a fabulous, and necessary job, showing A-Rod to be the absolute liar, phony and fraud we all knew he was, but now backing it up with evidence), there was a much more interesting story told on the show.

A few years ago “60 Minutes” aired one of my favorite pieces ever, about a rare group of “memory wizards,” who can recall every single day of their lives in amazing detail, including what they wore, what they ate, and what day of the week it was.

Now there’s a new report, with even more “memory wizards” having been found, and the science behind why these people can do what they do is fascinating.

Check it out below… I can’t decide if I would want to have this ability, or wouldn’t. Love to hear your thoughts on it.

**Finally today, my father sent me this over email the other day, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

Read this question, come up with an answer and then scroll down to the
bottom for the result. This is not a trick question; It is as it reads.

“A woman, while at the funeral of her own mother, met a guy whom she did
not know. She thought this guy was amazing. She believed him to be her
dream guy so much, that she fell in love with him right there, but never
asked for his number and could not find him. A few days later she killed
her sister.
Question: What is her motive for killing her sister?”

Now, I was completely at a loss when I first saw this, and took at least three guesses before scrolling down for the answer.


She was hoping the guy would appear at the funeral again. If you answered this correctly,  you think like a psychopath.
Apparently this was a test by a famous American psychologist used to test if one has the same mentality as a killer. Many arrested serial killers took part in the
test and answered the question correctly.

For the sake of you and your friends, I hope you didn’t get it right! (In case you’re curious, my guess was that she found out the sister was in love with him, too.)

A dying woman throws herself a farewell party. Another amazing PSA from New Zealand. And “Episodes” is back!


There’s no real way to prepare yourself for your own death, I don’t think, and really no way to prepare those loved ones around you for it, either.

Still, sometimes you do the best you can, and I think a New York woman named Marcy Glanz went about it in a beautiful way.

Diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2011, she was told in late November that she only had a few more weeks to live.

Instead of just bemoaning her fate and waiting to die, as so many people might, Glanz decided to go out in style. She and her husband planned a month-long farewell party. Friends from around the country came to Marcy’s apartment to visit. Marcy went to Lincoln Center, she threw herself a New Year’s Eve party, too.

Yes, there was plenty of sobbing, “but there was a lot more laughing than crying,” her husband, Marion Stewart said in this great N.Y. Times article by Corey Kilgannon. “We did many of the things that people do after death, but we did it before she died.”

Ms. Glanz left her husband a written outline for her memorial service, down to the music and the speakers. An amateur painter, she narrated a slide show of her works, for her sons to put online for others.

“There was no ‘Woe is me’ or ‘I can’t stand this,’” he said. “There was just a peacefulness and wanting to wrap everything up.”

I loved that Marcy Glanz did this; why wait until you’re dead to hear from loved ones what their final thoughts for you are?

Marcy Glanz died on Jan. 5, but man oh man, did she ever live in her final days. Read the whole story here, it’s definitely worth your time.

**A while back I wrote in this space about an incredible public-service announcement the government of New Zealand put out; now they’re back with another one, equally as arresting.

This is a new ad talking about the importance of safe driving, and they use time-freeze techniques to show two men getting out and talking about the accident they were about to have.

Truly brilliant ad.

**And finally, been meaning to write about this all week, but one of the best TV shows not enough people watch is finally back on the air with new episodes.

The show is “Episodes,” and it’s been off the air for almost two years, for reasons Showtime has never quite explained to us loyal viewers. I’ve touted the show many times here before, but if you’re still not watching, a quick primer: Matt LeBlanc stars as Matt LeBlanc, the ex-“Friends” actor who’s now on a new show called “Pucks.” A hilarious British couple named Sean and Beverly are the writing and creative team behind the show, and each of them has had hilarious story arcs in their own right.

Seriously, this show is a really fast half-hour. It’s funny, it’s got heart, and the woman who plays Beverly can crack me up with just a raised eyebrow.

LeBlanc, playing an obnoxious, totally self-absorbed version of himself, is fantastic.
“Episodes.” Sundays on Showtime at 10:30 p.m. They put the whole first episode of the new season on YouTube for free, and I embedded it above.

Watch for five minutes and you’ll be hooked.

Kenneth Feinberg has 1 of toughest jobs in America. A boy sings Queen every day for 3 years. And “August Osage County” a terrific film


Just a quick self-promotional tout before we get started; I wrote a story for on John Daly, a U.S. Olympian from Smithtown, N.Y. who’ll be competing in the skeleton at the Sochi Games. He’s a really nice guy who may get a medal, though I think his sport is totally crazy.

There are some jobs that I would never, ever want to do, not for $1 million per year in salary, or even more.

Police officer. Firefighter. Museum security guard (seriously, he has to stand there for eight hours in the same spot all day? How do you not go insane doing that?).

But the job I would want the absolute least right now belongs to Kenneth Feinberg. He’s the guy who, since the 9/11 tragedy, has been the “Special Master” in a host of horrific U.S. disasters. What Feinberg does is put a price tag on each family or victim’s suffering, and decide what they’ll be compensated for from the victims’ fund that has been set up.

Since 9/11, he’s worked on the Virginia Tech massacre, the Colorado movie theater shooting, the Boston Marathon bombing, and a host of others. This man, literally, has to deal with unspeakable pain and tragic loss all the time, weigh all the facts, and then determine that person’s life is worth this, and but this life is worth more.

Even more excruciatingly, Feinberg meets with the victims of these tragedies and their families before making a decision, having to look into their eyes and hear their pain. Just an unbelievably hard job.

It’s a job without precedent in history, and one that had never really fully been explained before. Chris Jones of Esquire, whose work I tout on the blog often, has written a sensational profile of Feinberg in this month’s issue.

Here’s a quick excerpt; the whole story can be found here.

“Bad things happen to good people every day,” Feinberg says. Why do those bad things happen when they do, and why is our collective response to them just as unpredictable? Why do some who die suddenly and horribly deserve compensation and public keening while others do not? “I’d like to think that there’s some religious coordination of what’s going on in this world, but I don’t know,” Feinberg says. “That’s for the philosophers, I guess.”

**Next up, I can’t decide if this is genius or just really weird. Three years ago a high school student named Matt Perren started taking a photo of himself each day, for a future video he’d make. Each day he also lip-synched the Queen song “Don’t Stop Me Now.”

Even more impressive (or weirdly), the photos move forward from age 15 to 18 until 53 seconds into the song, when the photos work backwards to age 15 again (while the lip-syncing continues forward with the song). The planning and dedication required to pull this off is extraordinary…


**Finally today, I saw the movie version of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play “August: Osage County” last week, and it was, as expected, fantastic.

This movie, about a highly, highly dysfunctional family in Oklahoma that’s reunited at their old home when their father has gone missing, is a lot of things: Loud, fast-talking, sarcastic, and filled with surprising heart.

But what it ain’t, is subtle. Every searing monologue comes with a sharpened knife, and every character’s motivations and feelings bludgeon you at every turn.

Happily, though, the script is fantastic and the acting equally as good. Meryl Streep is, well, Meryl Streep, fabulous again. I had also forgotten how good Julia Roberts can be; she plays the oldest daughter and her scenes where she goes insult-for-insult with Streep are fantastic to watch; Roberts really matches Meryl’s intensity.

Chris Cooper, who rules, is also great, as is Margo Martindale, and Julianne Nicholson, and the rest of the star-studded cast.

The movie goes on a bit too long, and some might find it a little too mean and negative, but I loved it. Definitely go see it if you have the chance.

A pretty tame Golden Globes, with some surprise winners. And the NFL gets a couple of great title game matchups


The Golden Globe Awards are always like the drunk cousin of the Oscars: They’re rude, they’re boisterous, sometimes they make no sense, but they’re almost always a good time.

Sunday night the Globes were kinda less crazy than usual, but were still pretty fun thanks to Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, who again did a kick-ass job at hosting (Seriously, why can’t the People In Charge let them host the Oscars?) From their opening monologue poking fun at George Clooney and Bradley Cooper, to Poehler making out with Bono, they were great as always.  (And of course, their best line: “Now, like a supermodel’s vagina, let’s now all give a warm welcome to Leonardo DiCaprio.”)
Lots of other thoughts my trusted awards review co-writer wife and I wrote down while watching the show:

— Fashion review first: I don’t know what the hell Zoe Saldana was wearing but it was ugly, Paula Patton (above) looked like a peacock, and Drew Barrymore’s dress was way awkward-looking.

— Jennifer Lawrence couldn’t be more adorable. She really seems down to Earth, and super-talented. I just hope she stays that gracious and humble as she seems now.

— Very glad to see so many of the big awards spread around. I was mad Michael Fassbender lost for “12 Years a Slave,” (though Jared Leto was terrific in “Dallas Buyers Club,”) and Jon Voight winning over Aaron Paul is a joke, and I’m only halfway through Season 2 of “Breaking Bad.

But I was thrilled Amy Adams won for “American Hustle,” and that Spike Jonze got best screenplay. Really, no one movie was the big winner, which was rare and nice to see.

— The speeches were mostly boring, but Jacqueline Bisset was oddly crazy, and Cate Blanchett was hilarious at the end, admitting she was drunk and then rambling for a while.

— NBC, we get it, Fallon is taking over “The Tonight Show.” Thanks for the 47 commercials.

— Has Bono ever had an awkward moment in his life? The man is the epitome of cool. Loved hearing him and U2 talk about how much Nelson Mandela meant to them.

— Was it just me, or did Robin Wright and Jennifer Lawrence look a little bit too much alike Sunday night?

— How the hell did Taylor Swift get such a good seat near the front? What movie has SHE ever been in?

–Finally, very happy to see “12 Years A Slave,” shut out for most of the night, win the best drama award. As I wrote back when I saw it, this is such an important, moving film, and hopefully the more awards it wins, the more people will see it.

And now, the Oscar countdown begins …


**And now to the football. I can’t be the only one who was watching the fourth quarter of Sunday’s Denver-San Diego game going, “Jesus, is a Peyton Manning-led team going to collapse yet again in the playoffs?”
Thankfully, they did not, and now next Sunday ought to be a sensational day of football.

For the AFC title we get the 412th (OK, 17th) duel between the two greatest quarterbacks of this generation, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. And then the NFC gives us one of the suddenly-fiercest rivalries in the sport, with the 49ers going up to the insanely-loud Seattle Seahawks stadium and trying to get to a second straight Super Bowl.

Should be terrific.  My early pick is Denver and Seattle making the Super Bowl, but I’ve bet against Brady before and been very, very wrong. But it would be pretty cool to see Peyton try to win a Super Bowl in Eli’s home stadium, no?

Couple other quick thoughts from the weekend of football:

— I’ve been watching this sport for three decades, and I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a game with more trash-talking and showboating than the Niners-Panthers game. I mean, every freaking play these idiots were glorifying themselves, or shit-talking their opponent. Can anyone just shut up and play?

–Andrew Luck reminds me an awful lot of Brett Favre. Gunslinger mentality, forces lots of throws, can win you or lose you any game at any time. Boy is he going to be fun to watch the next 10 years.

Can’t wait till next Sunday.

Good News Friday: A wonderful tale of a daughter hearing father’s voice from WWII. A photo of children’s pure joy. And other great waitress/huge tip story


Got a great story to start off today; I heard it on NPR recently and it was one of those “driveway  moments,” as NPR calls them, where you start listening to a story and you pull up to your house and stay in the car for a few extra minutes because you want to keep listening to the story on the radio. (in my case, it was a “subway moment;” this story almost caused me to miss my stop.)

If the first sentence doesn’t grab you, I don’t know what will:

“At 71, Margaret Ann Wolf Harris heard her father’s voice for the first time in her adult life.”

Margaret’s father was Sgt. Cody Wolf, and he died in World War II when his plane was shot down over Germany on Jan. 11, 1944. But a couple of weeks before his death, he contributed to a Christmas radio broadcast, produced by war correspondents of the Maryland newspaper The Baltimore Sun.

Wolf recorded a message in which he mentioned his baby girl, Margaret Ann. Harris, who was 17 months old when her father was killed, heard the recording for the first time 70 years later on NPR right before Christmas this year.

I urge you to listen to the story (audio is on top of this link), just to hear Margaret and the emotion she felt upon hearing her father’s voice for the first time. Can you imagine what that must be like, living your whole life never hearing the voice of the man who helped give you life, and then suddenly at age 71, to hear an old audio recording of him?

It’s a beautiful story of a happy ending to a father-daughter tale that Margaret never expected.


**Next up, just a photo that I came across today on Twitter, taken by Prakash Mathema of the AFP news agency, that made me smile wide. It’s of children feeding pigeons in Kathmandu.
Remember when you were that little boy’s age and got so excited about stuff like that?

**And finally, these stories of customers and friendly waitresses getting large tips just seem to keep coming. And I love them all.

This one’s from the Cracker Barrel restaurant in Lincoln, Neb.

According to the Lincoln Journal Star, a man stopped in with a friend for lunch at the restaurant last week and asked the hostess to seat them at the table of the restaurant’s grumpiest server because the pair wanted to use their charm to cheer someone up. The hostess responded that the chain actually didn’t have a single dispirited employee and instead gave them the opposite — their happiest waitress.

Turns out 18-year-old waitress Abigail Sailors had a rough life in foster care until being adopted by a loving family when she was 9. She’s a college student now but can’t afford to return next semester, she told the customers, because she didn’t have enough money.

The customers than gave her a $100 tip, and then wrote her checks for $6,000 to help pay for school.

Just beautiful.

Chris Christie’s a bully? Who knew? (everyone). A 2 vs. 55 Japanese soccer game. And the peanut butter and jelly crime of the year


After about oh, two years of having an enormous man-crush on New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, it seems our good friends “the media” are finally seeing him for what he’s always been: An enormous bully.

It’s made me sick over the past two months to see my fellow Democrats, and Republicans, swoon over this guy like he’s the second coming of Abe Lincoln or something.

“Christie in ’16!” “He’s a new kind of Republican!” “He’s a straight shooter, and people love that!”

Made me want to throw up.

Lately, finally, Christie’s shine is coming off, and Wednesday brought some fresh, damaging evidence about what a bully he is: In retaliation against a Democratic mayor in Fort Lee, N.J., a Christie aide ordered two lanes of the George Washington Bridge closed in September, making traffic unpassable in Fort Lee for four days.

“Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” Bridget Anne Kelly, a deputy chief of staff to Mr. Christie, emailed David Wildstein, a high school friend of the governor who worked at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the bridge.

Just disgusting. And so petty. I hope this makes people realize that a snake in any other clothing is still a snake.

**Say what you want about the Japanese, but they invent the most creative and bizarre contests and games of any country in the world. You’ve probably seen some insane clips in the past of Japanese game show hijinks, but I don’t know if anything is as weird as this: Two of the country’s best pro soccer players, Shinji Kagawa and Hiroshi Kiyotake, decided to play a traditional 2 vs. 55 soccer game recently.

Yep, it was two adults against 55 kids. On the same field.
Crazy. Watch this (above), it looks like a bunch of ants all attacking a dragon when one of the two pros has the ball. I also love that there were three goalies in net for the kids’ team.

Read more about this bizarre event at the site of my new freelance employer, (where next week I’ll be pimping my upcoming story about a Winter Olympian from my hometown).


**And finally today, I just don’t get to write about crime involving peanut butter and jelly sandwiches very often, so when the chance arrives, I must jump on it.

Check out this story from the Des Moines Register in Iowa, and I’m just going to quote from the lede here:

“The victim told police that his brother, Jerome Davis, “made three peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and ate them in the living room. Within the next hour, the suspect made another three of these peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, bringing his total consumption of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to six. This angered the victim…”

“The victim confronted Davis about over-eating, which quickly escalated. “Both victim and suspect began yelling about the other being lazy and ‘eating again,’” police reported.

Davis then pulled out a folding knife and held it to the face of his brother, threatening to cut him, according to the report.”

Gentlemen, gentlemen, gentlemen. I’m sure there’s enough PB & J to go around for all of us! It’s a delicious sandwich that’s been enjoyed by schoolkids for decades, couldn’t these two brothers share a little? So Mr. Davis ate six sandwiches, whose to say that’s too much? (Though he really should consult that Shel Silverstein poem about the King and the peanut butter sandwich)

(Personal skeleton from my past: I used to eat PB &J so much that one day for a change I decided to try cream cheese and jelly. Mmmm, that’s almost as good. Try it if you don’t believe me.)

My 10 favorite movies of all-time. And a way-cool helmet-cam look at hockey.


I’ve had two conversations with different people in the last week talking about our favorite movies of all time.

It’s a conversation I’ve had with a lot of people, actually, over the years, because just about everyone I’ve ever met can rattle off their top 3 or 4 movies off the top of their head (my wife is not one of those people; when we talked about movies in one of our first-ever conversations, she was pretty stumped when I asked her favorite. I only counted that against her a little bit).

So, because I’ve never done this before on the blog, and because I’m always looking to spark a little debate, here are my 10 favorite movies ever. Not saying these are the greatest ever, just the ones that mean the most to me.

Argue away…

1. Field of Dreams: It has occupied this list since the first time I saw it in about 1990 or so. Perfect combination of acting, writing, and a little bit of magic. I used to have the James Earl Jones speech at the end memorized and would recite it to my family on command. Seen this film probably 50 times, and love it each time even more.

2. The Princess Bride: To quote the great Joe Posnanski, “there are two kinds of people in the world: People who love this movie, and people who don’t have a heart.” Funniest movie I’ve ever seen, and eminently re-watchable.

3. Say Anything: The best of all the Cameron Crowe movies, which is saying something. Early John Cusack, a brilliant script, and it captures the late 1980s high school vibe better than anything else. Plus, the scene at the Gas ‘N’ Sip with Jeremy Piven (below) is classic.

4. Hoosiers: Best sports movie ever in my book. Love Gene Hackman in this, and the great visuals of Indiana basketball in the 1950s. I own a Jimmy Chitwood No. 15 jersey, that’s how much I love this movie.

5. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles: Wildly underrated flick; I’m amazed when I meet someone who hasn’t seen it. Steve Martin and John Candy, road-tripping from Chicago to New York. Too many funny scenes to recount, but “Those Aren’t Pillows?” is among the finest.

6. Goodfellas: I will, and have previously, argue with anyone who says “The Godfather” is better. The story of Henry Hill’s rise as a gangster is so damn good. De Niro and Pesci are great, the script is fantastic, and Marty Scorsese (especially in the famous kitchen of the Copa scene, above) directs beautifully.

7. When Harry Met Sally: Best romantic comedy ever; to call it a rom-com is almost an insult. Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan have perfect chemistry, Bruno Kirby and Carrie Fisher are great too (“you made a woman meow?”), and the late great Nora Ephron’s script is perfect.

8. Fargo: The Coen Brothers have made a lot of great films, but this is their masterpiece. William H. Macy, Steve Buscemi and the great Frances McDormand in a kidnapping tale gone way wrong. So dark, and so brilliant.

9. Almost Famous: Yes, I’ve got two Cameron Crowe movies in my Top 10. “Almost Famous” is just another perfect movie. Patrick Fugit in the role of his life, Kate Hudson never better, and Billy Crudup as the perfect “guitar player with mystique” in a 1970s rock band. So many amazing lines and scenes; my favorite is William dancing with Penny and saying “I’m about to boldly go where many men have gone before.”

Course, this scene’s not bad, either:

10. 12 Angry Men: Very close call here at No. 10; I easily could’ve gone with “Coming To America,” “Midnight Run,” or “American Beauty. ”

But the story of Juror No. 8 (Henry Fonda) convincing 11 other men of a young son’s innocence in the death of his father has stuck with me ever since I first saw it as a kid. Such spare, terrific acting, the whole movie takes place in one room, and it’s riveting as hell.

**Finally today, I always love videos that show us a different view of sports we’re all so familiar with.  So I thought this was really cool: A minor league hockey referee wore a GoPro helmet cam during a Dec. 20 game, along with his regular microphone, and the sights and sounds we get to hear are really great.

I especially love how harshly he talks to players who are trying to get an extra punch in after the whistle (around the 2:30 mark), and just how much stuff a ref has to deal with.

Really cool idea, and I hope it catches on in the NHL.

Legalized pot causes massive chaos in Colorado! (or not). Auburn/FSU play a whale of a title game. And a beautiful video about our phones ruining our lives


So it’s been a couple of days now since Colorado has legalized the sale of marijuana in the state, and as of yet I have not heard of the apocalypse hitting Boulder, hell descending upon Colorado Springs, nor locusts invading Denver.

Still, all the predictions of doom from those dinosaurs who still think pot is a grave danger to America are fun to hear.

Here’s a hilarious story from the satire site; the headline alone made me laugh out loud :”Marijuana overdoses kill 37 in Colorado on first day of legalization.”

Other gems from the story:

— “We told everyone this would happen,” says Peter Swindon, president and CEO of local brewer MolsonCoors. “Marijuana is a deadly hardcore drug that causes addiction and destroys lives. “When was the last time you heard of someone overdosing on beer? All these pro-marijuana groups should be ashamed of themselves. The victims’ blood is on their hands.”

— Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, who opposed the ballot initiative that legalized the drug, says he will call a special legislative session to try and overturn the new law.

“We can’t sit idly by and allow this slaughter to continue,” he said during a press conference Thursday.

Also, now that I’m catching up on “Breaking Bad” (I’m up to Season 2, episode 6), I enjoyed the Jesse Pinkman reference.


**Next up, a subject near and dear to my heart: America’s complete obsession with cell phones. I hate how they’ve taken over our lives, I hate how people sit across a table from each other at a restaurant and don’t talk, and I hate how kids are growing up addicted to these devices.

Here, a simple two-minute video from a group called, that shows the problem beautifully.

Just shut the phone off once in a while. That’s all I ask, America. (Says the guy who still doesn’t own a smartphone).


**Finally, I only saw the second half of Monday night’s BCS title game (I was at the Rangers-Blue Jackets game at MSG during the first half), but that was a hell of an exciting game.

I’m one of the people who thought FSU would roll over Auburn, but not so fast. Can’t say enough about the Tigers’ miracle season, and when they scored to go up 31-27 with 1:20 to go, after FSU had just scored on a kick return touchdown, for heaven’s sakes, I thought it really was Auburn’s year.

But that Seminoles QB isn’t bad, huh? Jameis Winston was outstanding, and it helps having 6-foot-5 receivers all over the place. I have no idea if this kid is going to be a good NFL quarterback, but he sure as heck is going to tear up college football for one more year.

It was a great way to send out the awful BCS system, as now we’ll finally get a semblance of a playoff in college football next season.

Good for FSU (though I did laugh out loud at this Tweet from Howard Bryant, a sportswriter, after the game: “We’re just happy we could contribute to this win.” – Tallahassee Police Department.”) good for the ACC, and now maybe all those obnoxious Southeastern Conference fans who’ve been crowing about their league’s national title streak can shut up for a while.

Man, what a string of great football games, college and pro, we’ve had since Dec. 31.

“Saving Mr. Banks:” Good, but way too dark. An epic Chiefs collapse, and more NFL thoughts. And a “funny old white guy” dancing video.


So in my continued quest to see the huge number of quality movies released in the last few weeks (seriously, why does every good movie have to get released in December? I mean, I know why, but I just wish the quality was spread out), my wife and I caught “Saving Mr. Banks” this weekend.

And what I kept thinking as I watched this pretty good, but could’ve been great, flick, was this: I have totally been sold a bill of goods on this one.

I’m not naive in the ways of Hollywood marketing. I understand that sometimes the promotions and PR people at movie studios have to “sell” a movie a certain way, to appeal to as large an audience as possible. But man, you could NOT mislead potential filmgoers any more than the “Saving Mr. Banks” people did. All the trailers, all the commercials, tout this puppy as a feel-good, light, crowd-pleasing movie about Walt Disney’s quest to convince a stuffy British author to allow her fabulous “Mary Poppins” series to be made into a film.

And yet, this is SO not what the movie is. I mean, yes, that is the premise, but the movie is SO much darker, and so much grimmer and mirth-less (is that a word?) than I expected.

First, the stuff I liked: Emma Thompson plays Travers brilliantly, acerbic and hilarious in her awful treatment of others. Tom Hanks is Tom Hanks, charming and graceful. And Paul Giamatti is always a delight, and here you’re reminded of how good an actor he is.

But this movie had problems. Biggest among them was the huge amount of flashbacks to Travers’ childhood, and how every single thing in the movie was symbolic of something else. There must’ve been 25 flashback scenes, no joke, when a half-dozen would’ve conveyed the same point: Travers has some scars from her childhood relationship with her parents. We get it.

I also thought they made some of the supporting players a little too cartoonish, and the movie went on 15-20 minutes too long.

Still, the acting of Hanks and Thompson is so good, that in the end I recommend seeing it if you haven’t yet.
But do NOT go in thinking it’s going to be a light comedy. Bring a flashlight, there’s some darkness up there on the screen.

**Next up, these videos always crack me up, when an athletic team made up mostly of young black men get their stodgy old white coach to dance in the locker room after a big win.

Missouri football coach Gary Pinkel, you get down with your bad self…


**Finally, what a terrific sports weekend it was. Three of four NFL playoff games were stellar (thanks for showing up, Andy Dalton), I saw a few awesome college hoops games (my Dukies got upset at Notre Dame and looked really weak inside, but I’m not panicking yet), and even my Rangers got a big-time win.

Some thoughts from the gridiron action:
— Life as a Kansas City Chiefs fan: Not fun. To blow a 38-10 second-half lead is unthinkable. But Andrew Luck and the Colts were fantastic in the final 2 quarters, they got a big-time break on that fumble/touchdown by Luck, and KC’s defense, in the words of Bart Scott, couldn’t stop a nosebleed. Just an all-time brutal loss. Poor Chiefs fans; we Jets feel your pain (my favorite reaction was from e-migo Matt R., who Tweeted me: “Gonna go watch “Schindler’s List” to try to cheer up.”)

— Eagles should have won Saturday night; they’re the better team. But good for Drew Brees to finally shut up his critics about his record in outdoor playoff games.

— Man that was fun, watching Green Bay and San Fran beat the snot out of each other in sub-zero Lambeau. Those players going sleeve-less? Insane. Mucho respect to Frank Gore and the Niners for pulling out that win.

–Next weekend could give us two classic games: I think Carolina-San Francisco will be terrific, and Indy-New England will be lots of fun. I see Denver and Seattle easily winning their games, though.