Monthly Archives: February 2016

Did Chris Rock go too far with his monologue about Hollywood diversity:: a guest blog post from my friend Diana

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Hope you all enjoyed the Academy Awards Sunday night; always one of my favorite nights of the year.  This year’s telecast, though, wow, I thought it was pretty dreary. Lot of long, boring speeches and silly skits. I was, however, elated and shocked that “Spotlight,” a movie about newspaper journalists doing huge, important work won Best Picture, and  I thought host Chris Rock, who had a huge amount of pressure on him this year given the #OscarsSoWhite stuff and the boycott, did a fantastic job with his monologue (Best line: “This year it’s going to be different. The in memoriam segment is just going to be black people shot by the cops on the way to the movies.”)

As I’ve done occasionally in the past here on Oscar night, I’m turning today’s post over to my hilarious, awesome and witty friend Diana, who’s a much bigger pop culture maven than I am and who graciously agreed to file a report on the Oscars.

Diana, take it away…

It’s been 20 minutes since the Oscars ceremony ended, and I’m still trying to absorb all that happened. It was not the light-hearted event I used to watch; the most difficult question tonight wouldn’t be “Did Angelina Jolie stick her leg out like that to draw attention away from her possibly pregnant tummy?” a la 2012. (The answer, it turned out, was no. She was just, well, being Angelina.)
No, tonight I’m battling with whether Chris Rock was helpful or hurtful to the diversity problem in Hollywood. Tonight, I’m thinking about Lady Gaga and the dozens of men and women on the Oscars stage whose pain you could see and hear so clearly. Tonight, I’m pondering “Spotlight’s” win for Best Picture and if there will ever be another newspaper movie again, if the industry I’ve poured my heart into will continue to have chances to make a difference in the world.
Heavy stuff.
Thank God for Jacob Tremblay. The pint-sized star of “Room” saved the Oscars for me. He was charming on the red carpet, smoothly slipping his hand inside his tux as he walked up to reporters and mentioned how his view on the red carpet was “lots of legs.” He was adorable as he stood up from his seat in the auditorium, wide-eyed, to get a better view of C3PO, R2D2 and BB8 on stage. And he was both polite and cute as can be when Chris Rock brought him a box to stand on when he was presenting and called out, “Thanks Chris. I loved you in ‘Madagascar’!”
So, yes, thank goodness for Jacob Tremblay. Because the rest of the Oscars wasn’t so easy to form an opinion on.
I’m a huge fan of Chris Rock. And I was thrilled that he would be the host this year, the year of #OscarsSoWhite, which came about after no minority was nominated for an acting award and, while it wasn’t the first time, it wasn’t the first time. I couldn’t wait to see how Rock would approach the Oscars ceremony.
Rock approached it head-on. His opening monologue was solely about race. Many  jokes landed, but some did not (suggesting that they fill the “In Memoriam” with black people who were killed by cops on the way to the movies). And he carried the theme throughout the ceremony. There were the movie clips with black actors inserted and ignored (funny but I felt like I had seen it before — and had in a similar “Saturday Night Live” sketch). There was the Black History Month Minute segment. The Stacey Dash spot. The movie theater commentary in Compton (which I enjoyed for the most part). And the Oscars beginning and ending with the song “Fight the Power.”
Rock was a one-note. And while some may say that by addressing the issue so forcefully he made Hollywood pay attention, I think that when you push something so hard, so much, people start to tune you out. They don’t listen. Had he sprinkled other jokes into his performance, the race jokes and commentary would have had a greater impact.
Another thing that bothered me was the reinforcement of stereotypes. When talking to a black woman outside a Compton movie theater about why she didn’t protest the Oscars by looting, he said, “This was your time to get that TV.” As in, if you’re black and you’re protesting, rioting and looting must certainly be involved.
But I felt like Rock really set back his mission with the introduction of PricewaterhouseCoopers accountants, bringing out three Asian kids (bad enough) and then adding that they were the same kids who made your iPhone. So racism is bad, but not when it’s involving Asians?  Could he see what he was doing?
I don’t think he could. After all, his entire commentary about race involved the black race. Not Asians, not Hispanics, not Native Americans – all of whom were also missing from the acting nominations.
That said, I thought a few other people who took the stage did a much better job at addressing the issue. Kevin Hart was both funny and serious and it worked. Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs eloquently explained the steps the Academy was taking to be more inclusive. And Best Director Winner Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu gave one of the most beautiful speeches on race, issuing a call to “our generation to really liberate ourselves from all prejudice.”
Oscars So White was the dominant theme of the night, for sure. here are some of my other views from the night:
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Oscar Dresses So White: It appeared that white was a dominant color on the red carpet. Purple, too. My personal best-dressed award goes to Brie Larson, who I think was perfect from head to toe in dark blue. I also thought Tina Fey in purple, Charlize Theron in red, Jennifer Garner (whom I mistook for Angelina Jolie on more than one occasion) in black and Naomi Watts in metallic were quite beautiful. I wasn’t a fan of Heidi Klum’s dress (the draping and light purple color were beautiful, but I hated the one big sleeve and the appliqués). Ditto for Cate Blanchett. She looked like a craft project to me. And I really disliked Kerry Washington’s black and white dress, particularly the black hip lines.
—  I also hate it when presenters pretend to be drunk, a la Tina Fey tonight.
— I’m starting to like the black and blue tuxedo.
— Lady Gaga’s performance of “Till It Happens to You” was spellbinding. It came from such a deep place and you could feel her pain, as well as see it on the faces of all the sexual assault victims on that stage. To me, it was one of the most powerful moments of the Oscars.
— The idea of having a list of names scrolling on the TV screen (so award recipients didn’t have to recite a bunch of people) seemed smart in theory. But in execution, unsuccessful. People still recited names on stage. They still got played off. The scrolling list just seemed to offer them a way to list a million names they would have never otherwise said. And it went way too fast to be effective.
— I thought it was funny a few years back when Ellen ordered pizza and then collected money from the audience for the pizza delivery guy’s tip. This year, Chris Rock brought his daughter’s Girl Scout troop in to sell cookies. Sure, it was cute, and it’s always fun to watch who pulls money out of their pockets and waves it around. (Also fun to imagine how much those starving actresses must have wanted a Samoa.) But I just hate when a shtick is repeated.
— My second-favorite person of the night: Louis C.K., whose made us laugh when he announced the winner of the Documentary Short Film award as “‘Mad Max’?!”
— I quite enjoyed those Kohl’s commercials with past Oscar speeches dubbed in – clever and kept you wanting more as you tried to figure out who the people were.
—  Almost as adorable as Jacob Tremblay? Morgan Freeman and Michael Keaton grabbing Girl Scout cookies from Chris Rock as the Oscars ended. I’m pretty sure that’s something we can all agree on.
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Good News Friday: A homeless New Jersey man is overwhelmed with gifts from the 49ers. Baby of a twin Dad meets her uncle and is adorably confused. And Tim Tebow holds a prom for special needs kids

And a Happy Friday to you! Honestly, I could make this entire GNF post about last night’s Republican presidential debate, because as a Democrat, that was 2.5 hours of wonderful. Just crazy, insane, off-the-wall stuff from every candidate but Kasich, and there’s no way the GOP will be smart enough to nominate the guy who might actually win. I consider it wonderfully good news because there’s no way in hell Trump, Cruz or Rubio is winning a general election.

But no, I won’t torture my Republican friends and readers (I promise, I have a few of them! They’ve emailed me!) by gloating over that shit-show last night.

Onward for some REAL happy news…

First up today, a few weeks ago there was a horrible video circulating of a New Jersey homeless man named Ronald Leggatt being paid $5 so an obnoxious kid could pour coffee over his head. (Personal aside: Are kids THAT cruel and bored these days that this is a thing to do?)

The video spread around the world as a pretty good example of evil and stupidity, but remarkably, some good has come out of it. Lots of good-hearted people saw the video and wanted to help Leggatt; money was raised to put him up in a hotel and get him off the streets, and the San Francisco 49ers saw that Leggatt was wearing a worn team jacket in the original video, and so they sent him a huge box full of new 49ers gear.

“Unbelievable,” Leggatt told News 4 New York. “From California! That’s just unbelievable! Best thing that ever happened!”

Good for the Niners.

**Next up, these videos are adorable. A father of a new baby boy wanted to introduce his wee one to his twin brother, her uncle. Watch the baby’s reaction and quite understandable confusion as he goes from her dad to her uncle.

So sweet.

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**And finally today, you can mock former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow for a lot of things, and I certainly have over the years. But one thing that has absolutely never been in doubt is his genuinely good heart, and concern for others.

Tebow is incredibly charitable and does tons of good work that gets very little press anymore since he’s pretty much washed out as a pro player. But I saw this last week and again was reminded what a good guy he is.

The Tim Tebow Foundation sponsored a worldwide prom, “Night to Shine,” for people with special needs over last weekend.

This year’s event, which was simultaneously hosted on Friday by 200 churches in 48 states and seven countries, provided a night to remember for more than 32,000 people with special needs.

Tebow attended one of them in New York City, and made a lot of kids very very happy.

Beautiful job, Tim Tebow. Beautiful.

 

“Making A Murderer” was amazing, and infuriating. John Oliver’s great segment on abortion. The bus that lets you give confession while you ride.

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For the past two months, I have been trying to avoid any and all news about “Making a Murderer,” the 10-part Netflix documentary about a man named Steven Avery, who was wrongfully convicted and imprisoned for 18 years on a rape charge, then was free for a year before getting arrested again and being charged with murder.

So many people in my life had told me it was fantastic, that the 10-year process undertaken by filmmakers Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos had resulted in an amazing look at our criminal justice system, as seen through the small-town Manitowoc County, Wisc. sheriff’s office.

I knew I would love it. What I didn’t know, and what I learned as I finally plowed through it over the past few weeks, was just how infuriated “Making A Murderer” would make me.

Over 10 episodes, you will get outraged and angered over and over again, and wonder how in the world what happened to Steven Avery could happen in America.

It was a sensational, sensational movie. Of course I have some thoughts, but first, a WARNING!  THERE ARE SPOILERS AHEAD!If you plan to watch “MAM” and don’t want to know anything about it, skip ahead to the video underneath this part of the post.

OK, for the rest of us, some thoughts I must share:

— Point No.1: Steven Avery was no saint. He may even be considered a bad guy, and not very helpful to society. But when a person is put on trial, the prosecution must prove they are guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt,” and I don’t know how anyone can watch this series and NOT see reasonable doubt. From the lack of Teresa Halbach’s DNA on her car key, to the completely ridiculous story told by Avery’s nephew Brendan Dassey (more on him in a bit), the amazing conflicts of interest the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Dept. had, I saw reasonable doubt all over the place. There was so little evidence tying Avery to the crime that it stunned me not only that he lost, but that every appeal so far has been denied.

— Point No. 2: What the Sheriff’s office and his own attorneys did to teenaged, low-IQ Brendan Dassey was absolutely deplorable. Between his extremely-coerced confession, where he was basically led by the hand, to the horribly biased job done by Dassey’s public defender, who was basically in cahoots with the sheriff, this poor kid was railroaded by the system. I don’t think he had anything to do with Teresa’s murder at all, and yet he’ll be in prison for 40 years because of a grossly unfair arrest and trial.

— No. 3: Avery’s lawyers, who he hired with the $400,000 he settled for in a civil suit from the earlier false conviction, were fantastic. Dean Strang and Jerry Buting did a marvelous job picking apart the prosecution’s case, and pointing out how easily Manitowoc Co.’s investigators could have planted evidence.

— No. 4: On the other hand, special prosecutor Ken Kratz struck me as just an asshole. From his smug attitude, to his completely unethical story-changing of how Avery committed the murder, Kratz was everything that’s wrong with our legal system. Happy to find out that he eventually resigned from his post after a sexting scandal.

— Finally, of all the crazy things that happened during this series, what dumbfounded me the most was how both Kratz and Strang/Buting held daily press conferences, during Avery’s trial, where they explained their strategy and answered very detailed questions. I have never, ever seen anything like that, and I can’t possibly imagine why the lawyers thought it was a good idea.

I mean, that’s unheard of.

I strongly, strongly recommend “Making a Murderer.” It’s fairly addictive, and it’s a fantastic portrait of just how easily our criminal justice system can ruin lives.

**Next up today, John Oliver’s fantastic series “Last Week Tonight” began its third season last week, and thank the Lord for that. As I’ve said many times in this space before, Oliver is the funniest, smartest and downright clever-est late-night host out there, and I never, ever watch his show and fail to be wildly entertained.

For his second show back he tackled the always-controversial issue of abortion, and how states over the past few years have disgustingly rolled back laws and made the procedure incredibly more difficult to procure.

As usual, Oliver’s biting commentary hit home. Really, really important stuff.

**Quick interlude here to show you this amazing play from Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors, who may be the most entertaining athlete in any sport right now. Wow, is he amazing…

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**And finally today, I’m Jewish so this wouldn’t apply to me, but I think it’s pretty funny and awesome.

There’s a new bus driving around England these days called the “Mercy Bus,” and on it you can give confession if you feel the need, and you’re too busy to get to church.

Commit a sin on your way to the bus stop? No worries, friend! You can get that off your mind immediately.

Steal someone’s seat on the bus? Say something horrible on a cell phone call while on the bus? Don’t sweat it another minute, you can get absolution before your next stop!

Says Father Frankie Mulgrew, the inventor of the bus:

“The Mercy Bus is for everybody, as God’s mercy is for everybody. If anybody has a burden, we’re inviting them to come onto the bus and be free from it.”

Grab a token and get your Hail Marys ready, all aboard!

Trump is up (frighteningly) and Bernie’s down after weekend primaries. And a wrestler proposes marriage to his opponent during the match (and it’s great)

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It has gone from an impossibility, to a “probably never going to happen,” to a “it can’t REALLY happen, can it?” to a “dammit, it really could happen,” to now, finally “Holy cow, it’s really going to happen, isn’t it?”

I speak of course, about the chances the biggest egotistical a-hole in America, Mr. Donald J. Trump, could be one of two candidates with a chance to be elected President of these United States.

It’s no longer in the theoretical, it’s no longer “come on, this couldn’t possibly what we’re going to be stuck with,” mode. Donald Trump, a man who I don’t even think wants to be President, has won 2 of the 3 contests held so far, and stands a good chance of winning a bunch more on Super Tuesday (March 1).

I know everyone has already said this, but it’s truly like nothing we’ve ever seen before. No matter what Trump says, or does, his poll numbers and popularity stays the same, or rises.
He insults the Pope? No problem. Muslims, women, handicapped people, his opponents? All good, Donald! We’re still with you, Donald!

I thought Mitt Romney, and John McCain, and W. were frightening, but it was really just their beliefs and values that scared me. With this idiot, I really have no idea whatsoever what he would do or say as President. Him in power would be worse than anything we’ve ever seen in American politics.

Now, I know there’s still time, and with Jeb Bush dropping out of the GOP race maybe Marco Rubio or John Kasich gets a bump.

But goddamn, this Trump phenomenon shows no signs of slowing down. I can’t possibly believe he’d ever win a general election, because he’s a madman. But I don’t want to take that chance. Somebody, somehow, someway in the Republican Party is going to find a way to stop this man.

Right? Right?

A few more thoughts from Saturday’s primaries:

— Looking a little bleak for my man Bernie Sanders. He lost Saturday by 6 points in Nevada, lost most key demographics, and Hillary will probably clean his clock in South Carolina. My heart tells me that lots of voters are still getting to know Bernie, and he’ll do better in some of the more liberal Super Tuesday states like Minnesota and Massachusetts. But my head says Hillary may have taken his best punch and survived, and now she’s home free.

— Here’s the kind of stuff that would be totally approved of in a Trump Presidency: From Vox.com: “An Oklahoma gun range wouldn’t let Army reservist shoot there because he’s Muslim.”

— So disappointed we won’t have a 3rd Bush Presidency (sarcasm font). Whoever would’ve thought W. would be so much better as a politician than Jeb? Or maybe Jeb is just running for President at a time where the old rules no longer apply? I think the mainstream media is still kind of shocked Jeb did so poorly.

— Finally, John Kasich is hardly a moderate, but in this field he appears to be the only candidate who doesn’t make insane statements and lies frequently. He also seems to have a heart, as evidenced by this great clip at one of his town meetings last week. A really sweet, emotional moment.

**OK, next up, something you just don’t see every day: A pro wrestler proposing marriage to his opponent in the middle of a match.

Minor league wrestler Joey Ryan was in an intergender match against his girlfriend, Laura James, when the referee got “knocked out,” (as so often happens in pro wrestling, those poor refs get so much abuse).

With a pause in the match, Ryan walked over to his corner, pulled something out of a bag, and suddenly got on his knees in front of his opponent and asked her to marry him. (the good part starts at about the :30 mark)

She was shocked, and it was awesome! And then, of course, because it’s wrestling, the match continued and he pinned her.

Nothing says love like proposing in tights on a mat.

 

Good News Friday: A 100-year-old Rangers fan gets to meet her heroes. Elton John and James Corden in carpool karaoke. And a 10-year-old’s clean energy project helps hundreds

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And a Happy Friday to you all! I’m still buzzing in amazement at that remarkable Duke win over North Carolina Wednesday night; truly one of the most improbable and shocking wins I’ve seen in 30 years as a Blue Devils fan.

But since that win is only “good news” to the small portion of us that root for Duke, let’s move on to some more universally-accepted good news.

Like, for example, a woman hitting the century mark and getting to meet her heroes.

Mila Zavodni went to her first hockey game in 1926, 90 years ago. Her father took her to a Rangers exhibition game in Czechoslovakia when she was 10, and she got hooked on the sport.

Zavodni, who lives in White Plains, N.Y., watches Rangers games on TV all the time, and is a huge diehard fan. So a few weeks ago her neighbor and good friend, Tim Khachetoorian, contacted the Rangers and let them know about their biggest fan’s birthday milestone.

So Tuesday Zavodni got to go to a Rangers practice, meet star players Mats Zuccarello and Derek Stepan, and got a ton of souvenirs.

“It’s beautiful. It’s perfect,” Zavodni told the Journal-News of Westchester. “It’s not the same as watching on television. You don’t sense the physicality of what they do. These boys are so tall and majestic, and they glide across the ice like ballerinas.”

I loved this quote from her, too.

“It was so fun, I can’t wait to call my sons and tell them about it,” she told the paper. “I love watching hockey because it makes you forget about your problems. This sport is so full of joy, full of life. Sometimes I wish I weren’t so old, because it can be hard. But then, there are moments like this.”

God bless her. I hope at 100 I’m still able to watch the Rangers and complain about their awful penalty killing and refusal to shoot the puck.

**Nezt up, these James Corden Carpool Karaoke segments keep getting better and better. This might be my favorite one yet, with the legendary Elton John. His story about how “Your Song” was written is just beautiful, and I thought it was really interesting to hear him talk about how other new and exciting music still motivates him, after all these years.

Plus, James Corden’s wig…

Enjoy…

**Finally today, I love stories like this, of little kids taking on huge problems and actually making a difference.

From Upworthy.com comes the story of Cassandra Lin, who at 10 years old began learning about global warming and how if the world’s addiction to fossil fuel continues, her home state of Rhode Island would be completely underwater by 2100.

So Cassandra and her friends decided they wanted to do something about it, and hit on an idea: She formed the Turn Grease Into Fuel organization, soliciting restaurants to, instead of throwing away used cooking oil, transferring it into biofuel, energy that is much, much better for the environment than fossil fuels.

Cassandra got the town of Waverly, R.I. to help out, and since its launch seven years ago TGIF has, with the help of 132 local restaurants, used the biofuel to heat the homes of 400 local families.

They’ve also recycled enough cooking oil to offset 3 million pounds of CO2 emissions, according to the EPA’s estimations.

What an amazing kid.

 

The Coen Brothers new movie is a total mess. Kendrick Lamar and “Hamilton” rock the Grammys. And a fascinating profile of the guy who knows Obama better than anyone

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Here’s what I feel about Coen Brothers movies: They have the widest range of quality of any filmmakers I’ve ever seen.

When their movies are good, they’re great, tremendous, classics: I’m talking about “Fargo,” and “No Country for Old Men,” and “True Grit,” and of course “The Big Lebowski.”

But when their movies are bad… man, they are more putrid than my son’s diaper Genie. I cannot tell you how much I hated “A Serious Man,” and “Intolerable Cruelty,” and “The Man Who Wasn’t There.” I walked out of those flicks wondering “how could the same people who gave us “Fargo” also do this?”

With all that in my head, I went to see “Hail Caesar” on Tuesday, their newest flick. It has an all-star cast, with George Clooney, Josh Brolin, Ralph Fiennes, and Scarlett Johannson.

I had high hopes. The trailer looked fabulous.

And … it was awful. Really, really bad.

The plot, such as it was, was barely fleshed out. The acting was meh. Even the production numbers were so-so.

The basic “story” was this: It’s 1950s Hollywood, and Eddie Mannix (Brolin) runs Capitol Pictures, a big movie studio. During filming of a big picture, his star Baird Whitlock (Clooney) is kidnapped by some Communists, who then spend a long time convincing Whitlock their philosophies about the world are correct. There are a few other subplots, featuring a dumb-as-rocks country boy actor being forced to be a dramatic leading man, and Mannix having a career crisis, but mostly it’s Clooney in a room with Communists.

I nearly fell asleep during the movie, and I never do that. There were maybe three laughs the whole film, and it wasn’t dramatic enough to be a drama.

So disappointing. Joel and Ethan Coen are like Dave Kingman now, either they hit a massive home run or strike out feebly.

Sadly, this was a big strikeout.

**Next up today, I experienced my annual shame and confusion viewing of the Grammy Awards Monday night, the one night where I try to catch up on all the “current” music that I’ve ignored for the past year, so I can sound partly intelligent should I ever get into a music discussion.

And while, of course, my favorite performance of the night was Jackson Browne jamming with the remaining members of The Eagles (Jackson Browne is phenomenal, always), I thought these two songs brought the house down.

First, Kendrick Lamar, who I first took notice of at the Grammys two years ago, was blazing during his set (above):

Then, the cast of the Broadway sensation “Hamilton” performed the opening scene of their show live. Getting tickets to this show is only slightly more difficult than a Super Bowl ticket; somehow, someway, I gotta get myself to see this.

**Finally today, this was a very cool “behind the scenes” story I really enjoyed. For the past seven years, Brian Mosteller has been the closest person to President Barack Obama, literally being with him for almost every meeting, speech and plane ride. He’s part body man, part “fixer,” and he basically just makes the President’s life easier (think Gary on “Veep” but nowhere near as nutty).

The Washington Post’s Colby Itkowitz wrote a terrific profile on the anonymous Mosteller. Here’s a quick excerpt; I highly recommend reading the whole story:

Mosteller’s official title is director of Oval Office operations, although a more apt name might be anticipator in chief. When Obama is in Washington, every move the president makes, every person he meets and every meeting he attends has been carefully orchestrated by Mosteller.

He knows where Obama likes his water glass placed on the table at meetings and whom he’d want to sit beside. He knows how he prefers the height of a lectern. He researches a head of state’s favorite drink so that the president can offer it. He readies Obama’s remarks and sets them, open to the first page, wherever the president will be speaking. He tells Obama when a sock is bunched at his ankle or his shirt is wrinkled, before an interview…

Mosteller “knows the president very well. He pays attention to everything,” said Valerie Jarrett, the president’s longtime senior adviser. “The president knows how much Brian cares about him and that it isn’t ‘I care about you from afar,’ it’s ‘I’m going to ensure the nitty-gritty details of your life from large to small are attended to.’ The president trusts him completely.”

 

Thoughts on the death of a sexist, racist Supreme Court Justice who died. NBA slam-dunk contest gets great again. And funny Valentine’s Day poems for married people

A Dad’s school excuse note for his daughter is fantastic. “The People vs. O.J. Simpson” is great television. And a female high school hockey goalie makes more than 100 saves… and loses

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And a Happy Friday to you! Another fabulous Democratic debate last night, very substantive and really getting into the weeds on issues. HRC had a great close, Bernie was better on foreign policy and really nailed her for her admiration for all-time evildoer Henry Kissinger. Game on…

First up on Good News Friday today, even if you’re not a Bruce Springsteen fan, I think you have to appreciate this.

Meet Patrick Pipino, a loyal Boss fan who lives in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. (one of my old stomping grounds!). He took his daughters to a Bruce show in Albany the other night, and well, as Bruce shows tend to do, it went on for 3.5 hours.

So the kids had trouble getting up for school the next morning, and of course their father wrote them a note. It’s above, it went viral, and it’s awesome.

As I said to my wife, I’m totally writing a note like this for our son one day. And I’d be proud to do it.

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**Next up, not sure if I blogged about this but I was unreasonably excited about the new FX mini-series “The People vs. O.J. Simpson.” I was obsessed with the trial at the time, have watched several great O.J. documentaries (including the fabulous “June 17, 1994” that was part of ESPN’s “30 for 30” series), and with the cast assembled for this piece, I thought it might be great.

Through two episodes, I’ve been very impressed. Cuba Gooding Jr. as O.J. has been terrific, showing the combination of fear and arrogance that marked the first few days after the murders.

Sarah Paulson as Marcia Clark is perfect casting, but the biggest surprise has been David Schwimmer as O.J. pal (and patriarch of the Kardashian clan) Robert Kardashian. Schwimmer has been fantastic, really really good, as a loyal friend who can’t believe O.J. could commit these murders, but also as a guy just trying to keep his pal alive during the Bronco chase.

The show so far has been entertaining, dramatic, and really well-written. Each week it’s on FX on Tuesdays at 10 Eastern (and can I just add how happy I am that FX is running promos for “The Americans” throughout each episode? It’s a crime more people don’t watch that fantastic show.)

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**Finally today, how about a few big cheers for an extraordinary performance by a high school hockey goalie in Apple Valley, Minn., named Taylor DeForrest.

In a ridiculously great game last week, she made 111 saves in a six-overtime game her Apple Valley H.S. team played against East Ridge in the Class 2A state playoffs.

One hundred and eleven saves! That’s insane. Can’t imagine how exhausted she must’ve been afterward. The other goalie only had to stop 38 shots, so there was a more than 70 shot differential, which is crazy one-sided.

“It’s hard to top,” DeForrest said. “[My next game] is going to feel pretty short.”

Bravo, Taylor. What an amazing effort.

 

A political revolution gets a major win: Bernie Sanders takes New Hamshire (Trump does too). James Corden and Cindy Crawford hilariously re-create her Super Bowl ad. And the craziest story, maybe ever, from Australia

CONCORD, NH - FEBRUARY 09:  Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and his wife Jane O'Meara (R) greets supporters after winning the New Hampshire Democratic Primary February 9, 2016 in Concord, New Hampshire.  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Six years ago, my mother told me Bernie Sanders should run for President, and that he would win.

I love my mother more than anything. She’s a wonderful, huge-hearted woman who is as bleeding-heart liberal as they come, and she truly doesn’t understand why everyone doesn’t feel the same way she does about things.

So, given that she gave me life and everything, I gently patted her on the head, laughed pretty hard, and sweetly and patronizingly said “Mom, that’s completely nuts. Never could happen. Only in your wildest dreams.”

Well now … I’ve decided, six years later, that my mother might be the female Jewish Karl Rove, or at least, the James Carville of the Whole Foods crowd.

She saw what no one else did, or at least, what no one else would admit publicly.

A 74-year-old Jewish man from Brooklyn (L’chaim!) won a resounding 22-point point victory over Hillary Clinton Tuesday night in the New Hampshire primary. And even though it’s looked for weeks like Bernie would win, and win big, this is still yuuuge news. (Here’s his victory speech from Tuesday night.)

He’s now tied one state and won another, an incredible underdog suddenly scaring the bejeezus out of the Clinton machine. I just kept smiling during his victory speech Tuesday, because of what the great Rachel Maddow verbalized right after Sanders finished: We liberals have NEVER had a serious Presidential candidate say these things on a national stage, and it’s glorious to behold.

I know, I know. It still seems kinda impossible that Bernie can beat Hillary, and then win a general. But then you see, seconds after Bernie finished his victory speech, a complete sexist, racist gasbag who has no bleeping idea what he’s saying get up on stage after his yuuge primary win, and you think: If it’s Bernie vs. Trump, really, Bernie couldn’t win that?

Dare to dream, folks. Dare to dream. Tuesday night was a wonderful night.

Couple other thoughts from Tuesday night…

— Hillary Clinton’s concession speech was fabulous. She sounded like a true firebrand liberal. And if Bernie has done nothing else over the past six months, he’s forced her far to the left, which is a good, good thing for America. Since she’ll probably be our next President.

— I can’t wait to see some new South Carolina polling numbers following tonight’s win. Methinks it’ll be pretty damn close.

— Congrats, John Kasich, on coming in 2nd! Sadly I think this is the last we’ll hear from him. He’s way too reasonable to win.

— So much for that “Marco-mentum, huh?” Chris Christie really destroyed Rubio in the debate last Saturday, and Marco may never recover.

— There is not one genuine bone in Trump’s body. Not one. I listened to his victory speech and it was just so obnoxious.  I will never, ever understand how this man could be so worshipped by so many. He makes Dick Cheney look uncertain.

**Next up, as I wrote on Monday, this year’s Super Bowl commercials were pretty lame. Very few memorable ones.

Not like the magical Cindy Crawford Pepsi ad from 1992, which was pretty huge for 16-year-old me at the time, since I, like millions of other red-blooded American males, positively worshipped the ground Cindy walked on (I had several Cindy posters in my room, as did most of my friends).

Well, James Corden and the still insansely-pretty Cindy did a great “update” spoof of the commercial recently, and it’s hilarious.

Enjoy.

womanfuneral

**Finally today, this might be the craziest story I ever heard (except, you know, Donald Trump maybe being President.). An Australian woman confronted her husband at her own funeral.

He’d paid men to kidnap and kill her, they took his money, but decided not to murder her. They told him they’d done it, he planned a funeral, than in the parking lot on the way out, she scared the hell out of him.

He eventually confessed, and just got sentenced to nine years in prison.

I’m nowhere near close to doing this story justice, though. Read it, and then go hug your spouse and be very, very glad they’re not as crazy as this guy.

The Broncos win an excruciatingly boring Super Bowl, filled with lame commercials. And the Larry David/Bernie Sanders SNL was terrific

Broncos.von-miller

I’ve watched every Super Bowl since 1983. I’ve seen blowouts, I’ve seen nail-biters, I’ve seen incredible performances and goats that will live forever.

Not sure I’ve seen a Super Bowl that had fewer exciting plays than this one.

Wow. That was a boring, boring game. I went to an 8-1 NHL game Sunday afternoon and I think that was more entertaining. On the 50th anniversary of the first Super Bowl, there was just … not a whole lot of excitement.

Oh, the Denver defense played amazing, and MVP Von Miller was doing his Lawrence Taylor impersonation all night, and that strip-sack and defensive touchdown in the first quarter was kind of cool, but I just … kept waiting for something exciting to happen.

Ah well, you can’t always get a thriller. Some thoughts on the game, the halftime and the commercials..

— Peyton Manning has been one of my favorite NFL players ever since he entered the league. I’ve always rooted for him, admired his style and humility off the field, and loved how hard he competed. So I was thrilled to see him get carried to the finish line of an amazing career Sunday. He was not good most of the night, after the first drive I’m not sure he made more than 1-2 good throws. But so what? He carried plenty of his teams with terrible defenses over the years, he’s earned the right to get carried to a Super Bowl win.

— I truly think he retires now, and finishes with 2 Super Bowl wins. At the same time, you know Eli’s sitting there, with 2 SB wins of his own, thinking, “I gotta get me another ring.”

— I mean, look how excited Eli looked at the end of the game!

— Difference in the game? Cam Newton just had no time to throw all night. Broncos were in his face on practically drop-back, making him throw off-balance, off his back foot. I don’t know if the Panthers should’ve double-teamed Miller more, or thrown some short passes or screens to slow down the pass rush, or what. But nothing worked.

— Not to be “that guy,” but let’s not forget Von Miller was suspended for using steroids two years ago, and allegedly tampered with the urine sample that tested him positive.

— The commercials were thoroughly underwhelming, were they not? Nothing in the first half was particularly memorable, except for the fantastic Steve Harvey-T Mobile ad spoofing his famous screw-up at the Miss Universe Pageant recently.
But the Bud Light Party one was silly, I thought.

— I thought the domestic violence PSA at halftime was very strong. Second-half commercials were better; the Doritos dogs ad (above) was my favorite of the night, and the Helen Mirren drunk-driving ad was stellar:

— Halftime show was pretty solid, considering Coldplay was in it. Beyonce is just… an electric performer, someone I’d pay to see even though I don’t know her music that well.
Loved that shot of Bruno Mars and Bey walking together and singing with Chris Martin in the middle. I’ve never craved an Oreo so much in my life when that happened.

— Lady Gaga’s national anthem was, um, something. That red eye shadow was fierce.

— Disappointed we didn’t get to see Cam Newton score once and then try desperately to find a little kid who could afford tickets to the Super Bowl, to give the ball to.

— Finally, Donald Trump says America never wins anything anymore but a team from the U.S. just won the world championship of football, so what do you say to that, Donald????

**Next up today, in a perfectly timed episode, Larry David, the world’s foremost Bernie Sanders impersonator, hosted “Saturday Night Live” a few days before the New Hampshire primary Saturday night.

Bernie was in one sketch and it was funny, but to me the most hilarious piece of the night was David playing Bernie in a fantastic “Curb Your Enthusiasm”  spoof, starring some of the characters from “Curb” and David acting as Bernie.

If Bernie keeps doing well, Larry David’s going to get some serious mileage out of this impression.