Tag Archives: Adam Sandler

A minor league baseball team channels “Game of Thrones” for an awesome food item. Adam Sandler’s beautiful Chris Farley tribute song on “SNL.” And a beautiful story of a Hispanic immigrant kid making so, so good.

I am one of those people who’ve never seen one episode of “Game of Thrones.”

I know, I know, everyone you know swears by it, they’ve been throwing around words like “Arya” and “Winterfell” and it’s the greatest show ever, how could you not watch it, yada yada yada.

What can I say, it’s not for me. What I CAN appreciate, though, is a great minor-league baseball promotion capitalizing on a pop culture phenomenon, which is why I love the Hartford Yard Goats so much right now (and not just because of their awesome nickname).

Check out their newest menu offering at the ballpark on a special May 11 promotion all about “Game of Thrones.”:

From the Hartford Courant story: “It’s called the “Seven Kingdoms” burger, and it features seven all-beef patties “bloodied” with sriracha ketchup and topped with “dragon bacon” (aka turkey bacon). Four sword-shaped toothpicks holding the patties together represent the four families.

The “Seven Kingdoms” burger, available exclusively at the Dunkin’ Donuts Park that night, will be sold for $28 at the Sheriff Tim’s Patty Wagon concession stand by the park’s main entrance.

I have two completely contradictory thoughts on this: 1, That is one of the more disgusting food items I’ve ever seen in my life.

And 2, I totally would want to try to eat one.

**Next up, I saw this over the weekend but with Monday’s blog being a special one, I wasn’t able to share it with you until today. Adam Sandler made a long-awaited return to “Saturday Night Live” last weekend, and along with cameos by Chris Rock, Kristin Wiig and others, Sandler killed it with some great characters from his past, including “Opera Man.”

But the highlight was definitely this song he performed, “My friend Chris Farley,” about the late great comedian who starred with Sandler on “SNL” and in movies.

Really sweet stuff about a man lost way too soon. (As an aside, how is it that Adam Sandler doesn’t age? Dude is 52! And still looks like he’s 30.)

And, because I know you want to, go ahead and watch this: Swayze. Farley. The “SNL” Chippendales sketch. So damn good.

**Finally today, I want to share this beautiful piece of storytelling from one of my favorite newspaper writers working today, someone whose work I’ve highlighted here a bunch of times over the years, the great Steve Lopez of the L.A. Times.

Lopez spent some time over the past few months with Oswaldo “Ozzie” Vazquez, who was born in America, went back to Mexico with his family as a boy, and then returned a few years ago, and has excelled beyond his own and his hard-working mother’s wildest dreams.

I don’t want to give away the ending, but everything about this kid screams wonderful, future leader of America. Just to give you an example of this kid’s maturity, here’s one quote from the story, on Ozzie’s career goals:

“I want to start off as a computer programmer,” Ozzie said of his career plans, “but my ultimate goal with computer science is to conduct research on artificial intelligence and machine learning for humanistic applications…. Once I retire, I want to be a teacher at my high school and just give back, and try to make kids be more engaged and have fun.”

Really terrific stuff here. Ozzie gives me hope for the future.

Remembering George H.W. Bush, a flawed but decent man who looks so much better in hindsight. Some Adam Sandler for your Hanukkah celebration. And in South Korea, paying money to go to jail for some peace and quiet

Like I’m sure a lot of you have, I’ve spent part of the last few days thinking about the complicated legacy of George H.W. Bush, who lived a hell of a life, all the way to 94, before dying last Friday.

Today is his funeral, and since our current President has declared it a national day of mourning, almost all federal employees have the day off, there’s no U.S. mail service, and even the stock market will be closed, which almost never happens.

As such, seems like a good time to write a little bit about the 41st President. As usual, I have many thoughts about a man who sure does look better in hindsight, but that shouldn’t obscure that he did quite a few good and quite a few bad things in his career.

Couple major points I have been mulling:

— First, the man’s resume was impeccable. To be a military hero, go into the CIA, serve in Congress, then be a Vice-President, and win the White House in 1988 when he trailed by double-digits in the polls in August was a hell of an accomplishment. Then, after losing to Bill Clinton in 1992, served out the rest of his life jumping out of airplanes (even up to age 90) and serving as an elder statesman, developing friendships with Clinton and Barack Obama. You can say lots of things about Bush, but he did not get cheated in life.

— OK, so here are a few things I must praise him for: Helped end the Cold War, without actual bloodshed. Drove Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait. Almost always acted decently and humanely in public. Resisted, at least a little bit, the powerful forces of the Religious Right and the loony wing of the Republican party, which wasn’t quite as insane as it is in 2018 but was certainly getting there.

— And a few things that he did that absolutely must be part of his legacy, even as so many this week have tried to make him into a saint: Helped wreck the American economy in the 1980s and early 1990s, leading to a huge recession. Helped craft and signed many discriminatory policies in education and housing that punished poor people and minorities.  Ran a disgusting, racist ad against Michael Dukakis in ’88 that had a big part in Bush’s win. Foisted Clarence Thomas on us. Foisted his own son George W. upon the world, who went on to do great damage to America.

— And oh yeah, might have (OK, probably did) participate or at least know about a massive scandal that involved selling arms to Iran in exchange for the release of the American hostages in 1980. Then as President pardoned anyone who may have connected Bush to the issue.

— Still, in hindsight, isn’t it amazing how far the Republican party has fallen, from Bush to now? George W. and Dick Cheney brought torturing our enemies, and scaring the hell out of Americans to believe that “foreign” almost always meant evil,” to a new, frightening level. And how we have this fraud in the Oval Office, who did nothing to earn the office but promise people everything with the lies a huckster always tells.

— In the end, I don’t think George H. W. Bush was a terrible President, nor a terrible man. He wasn’t our worst Chief Executive, nor was he our best. He lived life to the fullest and took advantage of the breaks given to him at birth, as a wealthy white man, to reach the pinnacle of American achievement.

A couple of tributes/critiques I read this week that I thought were worth sharing. First, the great Charlie Pierce, as usual, punctures the “hero worship” around Bush’s death with this column looking at him evenly.

And I was kind of blown away by this interview on NPR with Joe Bonsall of the country music band Oak Ridge Boys, who talked about their long friendship and special bond with Bush, Even if, like me, you weren’t a fan of Bush, this is a really sweet story and remembrance.

And OK, yeah, if you’re a Gen Xer like me you probably thought of Dana Carvey doing Bush as well this week. Freaking hilarious.

***Next up, as we’re in the middle of Hanukkah I feel religiously required as a Member of the Tribe to watch at least one of Adam Sandler’s famous “The Hanukkah Song” videos.

The Goldie Hawn/Paul Newman line cracks me up the most, every time I see it. And does anyone remember when Yasmine Bleeth was famous enough to be in a song like this (OK she was in Part 2 of it but still).

**Finally today, I heard this bizarre story on “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” and of course it’s so absurd it has to be true. And it is.

Residents of South Korea are so stressed out and exhausted from their daily work and lives that they’re now paying money, voluntarily, to be checked into “jail” for a day or two.

According to this story, “the detention center, called “Prison Inside Me,” opened in the South Korean city of Hongcheon in 2013. Since then, more than 2,000 people have put themselves through the prison-like experience.

“Many of them are tired, overworked office workers or students. Some say the complete isolation of a jail environment can help them break free from day-to-day pressures.

The building looks like a real prison. Inside, individuals are kept alone in small “cells.” There is no bed in the room, so many sleep on the floor on a yoga mat.

These “prisoners” receive only a blue uniform to wear, a tea set, as well as a pen and paper for keeping notes. Prison rules are strongly enforced. Electronic devices, clocks and other personal belongings are banned. Talking among the prisoners is not permitted.”

This is NUTS, am I right? I mean, look, if you want to get away from it all, isn’t there, like, a stream or a meadow or some quiet place somewhere where you can turn off your cellphone and just veg for a bit? I mean, voluntarily going to jail just to de-stress seems pretty extreme.

Then again, I am reminded of a line from one of my all-time favorite movies, Goodfellas, when Karen Hill is worried about her husband Henry’s mob dealings and how it might land him in prison. What about Jeannie’s husband, she asks, who went to prison?

“You know why Jeanie’s husband went to jail? To get away from Jeannie!” he thunders.

So maybe all these South Koreans just need marriage counseling, not prison.

It’s a crazy world we live in.

My day with NBA star Andre Miller: The story of the biggest jerk I ever interviewed. And Bob Barker and Adam Sandler team up again

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I don’t tell a lot of “back in the day when I interviewed (blank)” stories on my blog, because for one thing, I don’t know how many people really would care, and 2, living in the past can sometimes be depressing.

But I was talking to a friend about this guy the other day and reminiscing about this story I’m about to tell you, and then I saw him playing an NBA game while flipping through the channels that night, so I figured the universe was telling me something.

It’s the story of a young sportswriter, an emerging NBA star, and the biggest “famous person” jerk I interviewed in my sportswriting career.

In the winter of 2001-02, Andre Miller was a rising stud in the world of pro basketball. A couple years before he’d helped lead University of Utah to the Final Four, and now as a super-fast guard for the Cleveland Cavaliers, he seemed like a natural choice for a feature story in SLAM magazine, where at the time I was an associate editor.

So after a few calls to the Cavs’ PR guys, I arranged an interview with Miller at a fancy NYC hotel (can’t remember which one) when Cleveland was in town in a few weeks to play the Knicks.

Was told to meet Andre at 11 in the lobby, on the team’s off day. Got there at 10:45, and then at 11 … no Andre. Athletes are notoriously late for media interviews, so no big deal.
Then, 11:30, no Andre. Noon, no Andre. I’m calling the PR guy and getting no answer, while silently stewing in the lobby while hotel employees give quizzical looks to this little dude with the tape recorder and briefcase pacing back and forth and getting madder.
Finally, around 12:30, Andre shows up. No apology, no explanation, just a “come on up to my room and we’ll do the interview there.”

We get up to the room, he opens the door, and we’re both surprised to find a very attractive woman, fully clothed, lying on the bed.
Clearly, she didn’t expect Andre to have company. Andre gives her a look and then quietly says, “Could you come back in like a half-hour?”

(Believe it or not, this was the first and only time I’d ever interviewed a player in their hotel room, so of course I remembered what happened there).

OK, so the woman leaves, and I’m psyched I’m finally going to get to do the interview. Sure, we’re off to a rocky start, but he’s a young, exciting superstar and I’m going to ask him great questions and get a great story and …

It. Was. Awful. Andre sits down at the desk in the room, and proceeds to open a magazine. And then answered my queries in a monotone, emotionless voice while reading the magazine the entire time I was in the room. Literally, he made eye contact only once; he was answering some question about a childhood experience and said something like “Man, I didn’t even really want to be there at that time, you know when you really don’t want to be somewhere?”

And at this point I was pretty exasperated with Andre and shot back, “Yeah, kind of like how you don’t even want to be here right now doing this interview.”

And he finally looked up and said “No, man, I do want to.” Then looked down and kept flipping through his magazine the rest of the interview.

After about 25 minutes, I gave up, thanked him and left the room.
If I had been older and more experienced, I would’ve seen how rude he was being and just said “screw it, I don’t need to be treated like this” and left after 5 minutes. No one before or since ever acted like that with me in an interview.

But I was 25, new in the business still, and didn’t have the courage to do that. But I’ve never forgotten it, how small he made me feel, how shabbily he treated me that day. I covered the NBA a little bit more in my career but never had to interview him again, thankfully.

Andre Miller’s still playing all these years later, in Sacramento now, I think. Every time I see him on TV I think about that day, and what an ass he was.

Maybe he’s a great guy now. Maybe he was just having a crappy day, or week.

But sportswriters never forget.

**Finally today, Bob Barker and Adam Sandler, co-stars in “Happy Gilmore” (which somehow was robbed of an Oscar), teamed back up for a Comedy Central charity event over the weekend, and let’s just say it starts out lovey-dovey and then gets violent… and hilarious.

 

An open letter/plea to Adam Sandler. Another young Hollywood star dies too young. And a way-cool new commercial

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Dear Adam Sandler,

This is not a fan letter; I’m sure you get thousands of those every year. I’m not really fond of your work as a whole; I thought you had some funny characters on “Saturday Night Live,” love your song “The Lonesome Kicker,” and I enjoyed a few of your movies when you didn’t act like a total jackass, like “The Wedding Singer” and “Punch Drunk Love.”

But for the most part, I have seen almost none of your hit movies, and the “comedies” I have seen have been hideously awful. (I realize I’m a traitor to my generation for saying this, but it’s true.)

You have another smash on your hands now, “Grown Ups 2,” which has the almost unfathomable score of 7% positive on Rottentomatoes.com (That means 93 percent of critics who saw it hated it. Hard to do.)

And yet, despite every critic pooping on it, your new flick made $42 million at the box office this weekend.

So here’s my question Adam, from one Jewish New York Jets fan to another:
You have more money than you can possibly spend. You’re famous all over the world, and I imagine your life is pretty sweet.
You clearly have talent, so wouldn’t you rather make a good movie? I mean, wouldn’t you rather have people respect your work and consider you a craftsman, an artisan, a true actor?

You’ve made plenty of stupid guy movies; you’ve got that demo covered. Don’t you have any sense of pride, anything that deep down in your gut tells you to maybe make a piece of art that’s worth a damn?

Just imagine if you actually did interesting, quasi-serious films that challenged you as a thespian. Wouldn’t that be more fulfilling than churning out dreck like “Grown Ups 2?”

Think about it, man. Do you want a legacy of idiotic humor on your tombstone?

Just one guy’s opinion.

Hugs and kisses,
-Michael

**My father, who for the past few weeks has been following the George Zimmerman trial minute by minute (I’ve got nothing to say on the verdict, but Charlie Pierce as usual sums up my feelings, and those of millions of others, pretty succinctly right here), sent me a fantastic commercial the other day.

It’s from Evian water, and I couldn’t stop laughing at its creativity or sheer zaniness. It’s apparently been out for a few months but I haven’t seen it on American TV at all; maybe it was only airing in Europe?
I’m a Poland Spring man myself, but this makes me want to switch brands.

**Finally, I was saddened to hear of the death of Cory Monteith, who played Finn on “Glee.” I only watched the show for the first two seasons, but I thought Monteith was a pretty strong young actor, with serious vocal chops.
He also did comedy really well, whether it was in the greatest of all “Glee” scenes, when Kurt and the team do “Single Ladies” during a play, and brought depth to a role that could’ve been very shallow.

I have no idea if Monteith’s past drug problems are the reason for his death; what I thought about while reading Monteith’s obit is just how incredibly fast fame can hit a person. Here was a man who was doing bit parts in TV shows and movies, and all of a sudden gets on a mega-hit show, and his whole life changes overnight.

I’ve heard famous people talk about what an incredible narcotic fame can be, and I wonder if Monteith was one of so many who couldn’t handle the incredible life change that happens when you get famous.

Good News Friday: The “12-12-12” concert mostly rocked. A gift idea for your favorite drinker. And Andre Johnson takes kids to Toys R’ Us

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Good News comes from all walks of life today, but it starts with one of the most epic concerts I’ve ever seen.

The concert for Sandy Relief, or the “12-12-12” show at Madison Square Garden Wednesday night, was fantastic, if a little over-packed with old, white dudes who kicked ass through the 70s, 80s, 90s, and the Aughts, and are still rocking in the ’10s (can we call this decade the ’10s? Good).
It went on for about 43 hours (OK, about six), and was filled with highlights and a few lowlights, and raised $30 million from ticket sales and corporate donations so far (they haven’t tallied all the Internet and phone pledges yet).

A few quick-hit thoughts after watching the show:

— Best performances were Bruce Springsteen (never lets a crowd down), Alicia Keys, the Stones, and, much to my surprise, Chris Martin of Coldplay. He did a great duet with Michael Stipe (who looked awful but sounded great), had some funny jokes, and truly seemed honored to be there.

— Worst performances? Adam Sandler blaspheming by doing a version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallejulah” was terrible. I thought the skit with Seth Meyers was awful. And, I expect to get hit by lightning after writing this, but I wasn’t thrilled by Paul McCartney’s performance. He did two “Wings” songs, for God’s sake. “Live and Let Die” was good, as was “Blackbird,” but I dunno, I just didn’t love Sir Paul on this night.

— Wow, was Roger Daltrey’s chest waxed. But he looked and sounded great. Keith Richards, well, I’ve seen corpses that looked better.

— Maybe I’m sensitive as a native New Yorker, but it pissed me off how many celebs claim to be “New Yorkers.” Chelsea Clinton (from Arkansas) and Sandler (from New Hampshire) both claimed to be natives on the show. Just wrong.

Kanye West’s leather skirt. Ummm, yeah. Great fashion choice. As someone on Twitter said, “Leave him alone. He came straight to the concert from his field hockey game.”

— Crazy that Keys was the only female on the entire show (which someone joked was “a five-hour Cialis commercial.). They couldn’t have gotten Pink, or Sheryl Crow, or Gwen Stefani?

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**Next, I have the perfect gift for you if you or someone you love loves beer, and loves keeping their hands warm.

Heard about these on the radio, and then had to see them for myself: An Icelandic company makes beer mittens, so you can hold your Budweiser and keep your digits warm all at the same time.

Bloody brilliant. I don’t even drink beer and I want a pair.

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**Finally, one of the good guys of the NFL is Andre Johnson, the world-class wide receiver for the Houston Texans. Every year, Johnson takes a group of at-risk Houston kids and gives them a shopping spree at Toys R’ Us. They have 80 seconds to each grab as much as they can and shove it into a shopping cart.

This year’s spree came to $19,521, which means those kids knew exactly where the big ticket items were. Bravo, Andre. (That’s him with the receipt, above)

Teaching dogs to drive, for real. It’s Hanukkah, so we can all listen to Adam Sandler again. And the stories behind “Freaks and Geeks.”

And a happy Friday to all of you fine people. Today’s Good News Friday starts with news that is good news for canines and people who don’t like driving.

Apparently three dogs in New Zealand are being taught to drive. I know this sounds like the beginning of a joke, but it’s true. Watch the above video and be very afraid.

Me? I hope all dogs learn how to drive. I’m sick of the Long Island Expressway traffic; with a pooch at the wheel, I can take a nap in the back. Or, since roles will be reversed, I can stick my head out the window with my tongue out.

**To all my Jewish readers, I wish you a Happy Hanukkah. The annual eight days of presents and lighting menorahs begins Saturday night, so as always here on the ole’ blog, a little Adam Sandler to get us in the mood.

This song still cracks me up whenever I hear it, especially the “fine-looking Jew!” part.

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**Finally, oral histories of news events and pop culture seem to be all the rage on the Internet these days; seems I can’t go more than a day or so without seeing one.
Which is great, I think; I love hearing the stories behind the stories. Today I was pointed toward Vanity Fair’s superb oral history of the best TV show no one ever saw when it was on, “Freaks and Geeks.” (It’s long, but it’s Friday, you can slack off work.)

Like millions (OK, thousands) of others, I caught up in re-runs a few years after it went off the year, and felt cheated that such an honest, painful, hilarious look at high school only got to do 18 episodes.

Lots of great material in here, including Judd Apatow knowing Seth Rogen would be a star right away, and how the whole cast pretty much had a crush on James Franco.

Read it weep that we never got to see Bill Haverchuck go out on a date.

Worried about the Jets, some Sandler for Hanukkah, and songs I want at my funeral

If you’re a Jets fan this morning, you are absolutely concerned that Kellen Clemens will sabotage our season today.

Look, there is literally NO reason to believe this guy, who was given chance after chance to be the Jets QB of the future, can lead the team to a win over Tampa Bay.

Sure, the Bucs stink. And sure, the Jets have needed so many minor miracles the last few weeks from

other teams just to still have a shot at the playoffs (Eric Mangini and the Cleveland Browns, thank you for Thursday night!). And sure, they probably don’t need great QB play today to beat Tampa.

But still, I just have no faith Clemens can play a decent game. We’ll see.

****So, my wonderful wife has gotten into the spirit of Hanukkah since we’ve been together. One year when we were dating she garnished her whole apartment in Hanukkah-themed decorations as a surprise when I came over one December night. She spins a mean dreidel, and she makes great latkes, too. Anyway, Saturday she came home with latkes and some blue and white (normally black and white) cookies. Yummy.

Anyway, here’s Adam Sandler’s Hanukkah song for you, in case you haven’t heard it yet this year:

**Finally, I’m not much of a death guy. I don’t think about it too much, don’t dread it, really don’t touch on the subject much at all.

All I’ve asked my family is, when my time on Earth has passed, to play two songs at my funeral: Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” which totally got me through my freshman year of high school, and “Goodbye My Friend,” by Linda Ronstadt, which chokes me up every time I hear it (and was featured in the greatest “Wonder Years” episode ever.”

Is that so much to ask?

Here’s a little G N’ R, for the 80s music lovers among you. God this is such a great song.