Tag Archives: Abu Nazir

“Lincoln” is a must-see movie. “Homeland” blows me away yet again (even if it’s improbable). And how not to win a half-time contest


Very rarely does a movie live up to the hype.
But Steven Spielberg has created another masterpiece with “Lincoln.” If you haven’t seen it yet, get your tuchus to a movie theater, pronto, and enjoy a wonderful story, great acting from everyone, and beautiful cinematography.

Daniel Day-Lewis is predictably awesome as Abe, and the movie focuses on a very small slice of his life, the fight to pass the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery while the Civil War wages in its final months.
But everyone else in the cast is terrific, too; from Sally Field as the crazy but supportive Mary Todd Lincoln, David Straitharn as Secretary of State Henry Seward, and most of all, Tommy Lee Jones.
Never been a big fan of his, but he absolutely steals every scene he’s in as a progressive Congressman pushing his colleagues against their will to pass the amendment.
It’s a gorgeously shot, beautifully written film that will hopefully be an enduring film about one of our greatest Presidents. Don’t listen to any Negative Nates (like my father) who say the movie is too long and slow; it’s the best work Spielberg has done in a long, long time.

**Ladies and gentlemen, perhaps the most pathetic effort I’ve ever seen from a halftime “make a shot and win a prize” contestant of all time. Seriously, this guy doesn’t even try.


**OK, now to “Homeland.” I’ve read and heard a few things in the last 24 hours about Sunday’s episode; about how the show “jumped the shark” with the incredible implausibility of what happened in the VP’s office, about Carrie’s crazy decision after escaping from Nazir’s lair to not even mention that the CIA might want to check on VP Walden, and about seven or eight other plot points that just took the improbability of the show to a whole ‘nother level.

And you know what? Many of the critics are right.
But I didn’t care. I LOVED Sunday’s episode. I was on the edge of the couch the whole time, and I was totally invested in the Carrie-Nazir discussion of the push-and-pull of terrorism and good vs. evil in the warehouse, and I loved the Saul scenes, and man oh man, I just can’t wait to see what happens in the last two episodes of the year.

I’m drinking the “Homeland” Kool-Aid, and am pretty much willing to let the writers take me whereever they want.

Once again, I have no idea where they’ll go next. Brody should absolutely die this season, and I think killing Walden puts a beautiful bow on the storyline they started last year.
But how can you kill off Damien Lewis when he and Claire Danes have such fantastic chemistry? Very tough call to make.

Only two more episodes. I’m already missing the show.

“Homeland” torturing Brody mentally, and now Nazir’s back. A football legend you’ve never heard of retires. And Key and Peele make me laugh

Too depressed thinking about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to write about it tonight, maybe tomorrow. All I’ll say tonight is this: How many of these occasional flare-ups are we going to see before all-out war really happens? And there’s no turning back once all-out war commences. So depressing. Now, onto the fake terrorists that delight me on Showtime each Sunday night…

Damien Lewis is such a terrific actor on “Homeland” that there are scenes where I truly have no idea whether he’s on board with being a CIA double-agent trying to stop terrorism or not, just by looking at his eyes.
The man has such an expressive face, that Brody can show several emotions at once, and lately, most of his expressions have been confusion and rage. The guy really has had to endure so damn much lately.

I  thought Sunday night’s episode was stellar, even the really creepy “everyone back at the CIA bunker listening to Brody and Carrie having sex” scene. (And poor Saul, you just know that had to kill his soul just a little.)

Brody lost it about two or three times Sunday, but there was his stalker crush/psychologically brilliant partner in this show, Carrie, there to put him back together.
I loved how the show dealt with Brody’s “capture” by Roya and the other bad dude whose name we don’t know yet, though I’m really surprised Quinn didn’t just OK his guys picking up the two terrorists when they had the chance (I know that would’ve ruined the ongoing plot, but still).

I continue to be amazed at how good Clare Danes is, and don’t believe her for a second when she tells Saul she’s got everything under control this time. Bitch be crazy for that Brody.

I also thought the Dana/hit and run storyline finally made some sense, and that I’m glad they’re giving Brody’s wife Jessica some more to do this year.
And now, Nazir’s back. Face-to-face with Brody. Can the future vice-president lie convincingly to the man who saved him? Does Brody turn full-on terrorist again, ignoring his bizarre lust for Carrie?

This show has three more episodes this season to tie us up in knots. What a fantastic, well-crafted piece of work.

**With any luck (and the speed and efficiency of the New York City Dept. of Education), I may start substitute teaching in the city public schools soon.
I would hope my first day wouldn’t go like this; it’s from the Comedy Centeral show “Key & Peele,” and it cracked me up toward the end…

**Finally, it’s hard to believe that someone as successful and smart as John Gagliardi can live so much of his career in the shadows, but that’s what he’s done.
If you’ve never heard of Gagliardi, you’re not alone, but he is definitely worth knowing about.
For the past 64 years, he’s been the head football coach at St. John’s (Minn.) College, a Division III team. He won 489 games and four national championships, with a delightfully unconventional style.

The man had few rules for his program, and the ones he did have were wildly different from the neanderthal policies of most successful coaches:
He didn’t believe in tackling in practice, fearing injury and not believing it was necessary.  Gagliardi never used a whistle in practice, and he demanded his players call him “John,” instead of “Coach.”

He also didn’t let players use words like “hit” or “kill,” and never cut anyone who wanted to be on the Johnnies team, meaning sometimes they had a roster of 200.

“I eliminate the unnecessary,” Gagliardi once told the L.A. Times. “And I think almost everything is unnecessary.”

He was a simple man who loved his job and never dreamed of chasing the brighter lights of big-time sports. He announced his retirement on Monday, at age 86, and I envy that he was able to coach so long, doing something he loved, and on his own terms. (Think of how Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden exited; this is a lot cleaner and happier).

I first learned of Gagliardi in 2003 thanks to this terrific Austin Murphy story in Sports Illustrated. Read it and realize that some of us really do get satisfaction in doing what we love, well, for decades.
And that we don’t all need the glory.