Monthly Archives: March 2019

My newest addiction are throwback NBA socks, I may have a problem. Remembering the great John Candy, 25 years after his death. And the producers of Broadway’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” stupidly enforce legal rights against small theaters

Hi, my name is Michael, and I have a developing addiction.

Oh don’t worry, it’s not smoking, drugs, alcohol, gambling, or online porn. Nothing to get TOO worried about, I hope.

But there’s a company out there called Stance, and they make these incredible, beautiful, poetic throwback NBA athletic socks, and, well, I’m in deep, man.

For the past few weeks I’ve been scouring eBay and other sites looking for great deals on a Dr. J ABA Nets pair, or maybe Clyde Drexler Portland Trail Blazers circa 1992 pair. They catch my eye, and I swoon, like a sailor returning from leave and seeing his bride.

I now own about 8 pairs of these functional pairs of socks, that keep my feet oh-so-cozy in winter and spark conversation at my 16-month-old’s activities when, quite often, we grown-ups have to take off our shoes.

And yeah, more than once I’ve said to my wife “OK, I’ve bought enough, I’m good now.” I’m lying to myself and her.

It all started innocently enough, like all addictions do. Last year we were shopping at Foot Locker for new kicks for my 3-year-old, and I saw a “Clearance sale” type bin, and there they were, just beautiful: Red, white and blue, New Jersey Nets crew socks, for like $8. I had to have them. Then came another Foot Locker and some old-school Golden State Warriors socks.

Then some Jackie Robinson Brooklyn Dodgers ones, and some Seattle Supersonics-themed socks.

My latest purchases, which have me super-excited, are those Warriors throwback Run-TMC designed socks from the early 1990s, and these Dominique Wilkins Atlanta Hawks kick-ass socks (below, come on, those are pretty sweet, right?)

As addictions go, this one is pretty cheap (most I’ve paid for a pair is $12). And they do bring small joy to my life. I dream of one day wearing nothing BUT Stance socks, every day, for the rest of my days on Earth.

I don’t think I’ll ever go THAT crazy. But, you know, if I do, let this post serve as a warning sign.

**Next up today, while my generation is rightly mourning the loss of Luke Perry, the “Beverly Hills, 90210” star who shockingly suffered a stroke and died this week at age 52, there was another death on my mind this week, thanks to the electric Twitter machine, as Charlie Pierce calls it.

John Candy, the wildly talented, big-hearted actor from so many great 1980s movies, died 25 years ago this week. And heartthrob actor Ryan Reynolds, who I would not have expected this from, has put together a beautiful 2-minute tribute to Candy and his work, with of course clips from my favorite comedy of all time, “Planes, Trains and Automobiles.” (And also from “Brewster’s Millions,” an underrated flick with Richard Pryor and Candy).

A wonderful comedic actor, taken far too soon. In his honor, I’m gonna go out today and buy some shower-curtain rings.

**Finally today, I have really not wanted to see the new Broadway adaptation of “To Kill A Mockingbird” even though Aaron Sorkin, my all-time favorite TV and movie writer, is in charge of it, because I’m afraid of it ruining the book for me. Oh, I hear it’s fabulous, and my wife and mother are both excited to see it soon, but I refuse.
Well, now I have another reason to dislike it: The greed and lack of common decency of the producers, including mega-successful Hollywood dude Scott Rudin.

Check out this story from the New York Times about regional theaters all over the country having to shut down their “TKAM” productions because of threatened litigation by the Broadway people.

It seems there’s an obscure agreement from 1969 between the Lee estate and that says that if there’s a new adaptation of Harper Lee’s classic book on Broadway,

The estate’s lawyers sent several letters to Dramatic over the last few weeks protesting its granting of rights to a number of theaters. The letters invoked a 1969 contract between Lee and Dramatic Publishing Company, which sells theaters the rights to put on a play, that “blocks “Mockingbird” productions within 25 miles of cities that had a population of 150,000 or more in 1960 (the last census year before the agreement was signed) while a “first-class dramatic play” based on the novel is playing in New York or on tour.”

So basically, theaters in Buffalo, Oklahoma City and other cities around the country are barred from having their own little productions because the big, bad Broadway version exists.

This is absolute horsecrap. As is Rudin’s rueful quote about it:

“We hate to ask anybody to cancel any production of a play anywhere, but the productions in question as licensed by DPC infringe on rights licensed to us by Harper Lee directly. The Sergel play can contractually continue to be performed under set guidelines as described in detail in its own agreement with Harper Lee — and as long as those guidelines are adhered to, we have no issue with the play having a long life.”

Ridiculous. The Broadway production is making millions upon millions of dollars, and there is no freaking way anyone in another American city is going to confuse, or not want to see the Sorkin version, because they’re seeing their local community put it on.

I don’t care what was said or agreed upon on 1969, forcing these companies around the country to shut down their little productions is just wrong, and mean.

(Update: After a barrage of criticism about this short-sighted move, Rudin has sorta, kinda relented, allowing the regional theaters to put the play on, but only using the Broadway version of the script. Which of course is way too little, too late for most of these companies, since their casts and crew would have to learn a whole new play, basically. Grrr.)

“GLOW” on Netflix a show with heart and humor that is well worth your time. “SNL” takes on the Cohen hearing, and it’s almost as wacky as the real thing. And Roger Federer wins title No. 100.

Sometimes, with all the glut of great TV and movies out there these days, and with my busy life helping raise two beautiful but exhausting male humans, it takes me a while to get around to watching great entertainment even when I’m sure I’ll like it.

That was the case with “GLOW,” the fantastic comedy/drama that debuted on Netflix two years ago and whose first two seasons I just finished watching last week.

If you’re not familiar with it, “GLOW” on Netflix is based on the incredibly cheesy but in its own way, awesome, 1980s Saturday morning female wrestling show called the “Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling,” where beautiful but incredibly ridiculous stereotyped characters with names like “The Terrorist,” “Palestina,” and “Babe the Farmer’s Daughter” would perform offensive but sometimes really funny skits, put on some bad but entertaining wrestling matches, and basically play the whole thing while winking at the camera.

Not surprisingly, adolescent me ate all of this up, sparking an appreciation and love for women’s wrestling that continues to this day (Don’t judge me, Trish Stratus and Lita were as athletically gifted as 95 percent of the men wrestlers).

So when I heard that Netflix was turning “GLOW” into a series, and that “Weeds” creator Jenji Cohan was involved, I was pretty certain I’d love it.

What I didn’t know was how far, far superior it was to most every other TV show out there. Set in mid-1980s, “GLOW” stars Alison Brie and Betty Gilpin as two actresses and best friends who, for reasons you’ll find out early in season 1, have a falling out, and find their own path to this new, crazy idea of a TV show about women grapplers.

The cast is filled out by fantastic ensemble performances led by the obnoxiously insecure Melanie Rosen (of course her wrestling name is Melrose, it was the ’80s), an actual real, current star wrestler playing a “Welfare Queen,” and others whose characters and gimmicks I won’t spoil.

Season 1 of “GLOW” was terrific in establishing this world, showing how difficult it was for actresses like these to actually pretend to know what they’re doing, and giving us great dynamics between the women and the show’s director, Sam Sylvia (Marc Maron), a former B-movie slasher king who’s embarrassed to have to do a show like “GLOW.”

The first season is great, but Season 2, which I binged over the last two weeks, takes the show to a whole ‘nother level. The character development, the relationships that emerge, and the pure insanity the writers come up with to try to gin up ratings are hilarious and wonderful. (Season 2’s 8th episode has the best “We are the World” singalong parody you’ll ever see.).

Even if you don’t care about women’s wrestling, or want to wallow in ’80s nostalgia, “GLOW” is absolutely worth your time. It’s funny, it has a big heart, and more spandex than you’ve seen since your last trip to Jack LaLanne.

Definitely check it out.

Next up today, I fully expected “Saturday Night Live” to take on the bizarre, sad, infuriating and ultimately unsatisfying spectacle that was the Michael Cohen testimony this week. What a proud day for our country, when we’re listening to a two-bit, sleazy con man of a lawyer talk about his even more disgusting, despicable client, who oh yeah happens to be President.

And, happily, “SNL” was up to the task, bringing in big guns like Bill Hader and Ben Stiller to make it even better.

Hilarious.

**Finally today, the greatness of Roger Federer is sometimes taken for granted by tennis fans, and sports fans in general, but every once in a while I like to stop and take a step back when he accomplishes another ridiculous milestone, and today is one of those days.

Over the weekend the 37-year-old won the Dubai Championships for his 100th career ATP Tour title. One hundred championships is second only to Jimmy Connors’ record haul of 109, but there are many, many caveats to Connors holding the top spot (the field of players wasn’t nearly as good back then, many more tournaments were played on hardcourts in the U.S., Connors’ best surface, etc.).

For Federer, in this day and age, to have survived and thrived for this many years, in as brutal physically and mentally a sport as tennis is in 2019, is just remarkable.

And he’s not done yet. He’s still got a great shot to add to his haul of 20 Grand Slam titles, and break Connors’ record.

One hundred titles. Just extraordinary.