Tag Archives: Baltimore Ravens

The “Gilmore Girls” reunion movies: Lots of hits, lots of big misses. An NFL kicker sings an amazing “Ave Maria.” And a weekend at a hotel pool reminds me of how far we’ve come

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With the hindsight of about two hours, I’ll admit it:

There’s no way the “Gilmore Girls” reunion movies could’ve lived up to my full expectations. I’d loved this remarkable television series so much, and had been so excited when I heard creators Amy and Dan Palladino were making four 1.5 hour “episodes” to wrap the series up, that I knew when it finally arrived I’d probably be a little disappointed.

Lots, and lots of thoughts to share: Overall, I thought it was a little better than OK. Part 1 “Winter” and Part 4 “Fall” were very strong, and really delved deep into the old “Gilmore Girls” world. The middle two parts … horrible. Blech. Just bad in so many ways.

And now, a disclaimer so no one yells at me…

WARNING: I’M ABOUT TO TALK ABOUT SPECIFICS OF THE GILMORE GIRLS MOVIES. IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN IT YET AND DON’T WANT TO KNOW ANYTHING, SKIP TO THE VIDEO BELOW.

Everybody still with me? Good. Here goes…

Things I loved about the reunion movies: Any time Emily and Lorelai were on screen together; they have such amazing chemistry. Particularly, the scenes where Emily was in jeans and getting rid of everything in her house, and the emotional power of Lorelai’s phone call to her mother during her “Wild” hike that wasn’t that talked about a day when she was 13, was amazing.

— Paris Gellar. Just fantastic. Every scene Liza Weil was in, reprising her role as Paris, was incredible. Paris as a fertility clinic matchmaker but still being a total mess emotionally? Gold. Her fights with ex-husband Doyle? Absolutely wonderful. I could not get enough Paris, I just wish she were in all four movies.

— The Life and Death Brigade: Yeah, I know Colin and Finn get annoying after a while, but I felt like their 15 minutes in the “Fall” episode was terrific. Just enough of them to remember how great they were.

— Kirk. Oh, how I love me some Kirk. The “Oober” storyline cracked me up, as did his playing soccer with Emily’s housekeeper’s kids. And the Kirk movie… Oscar-worthy.

— The Mae Whitman (Amber from “Parenthood” cameo). Yeah, I know it had no point except to show us both of Lauren Graham’s TV daughters at the same time. But I laughed and loved it. A great touch.

— Sutton Foster at the end of the musical: I hated just about everything else about the “Stars Hollow: The Musical” episode, the whole thing felt like it went on for 11 hours. But the Sutton Foster song at the end was terrific.

Things I hated about the reunion movies: Just about every single Rory storyline. Man, did the Palladinos blow this. They took a smart, career-motivated, intelligent young woman who left Yale ready to conquer the world and turned her into an indecisive, flailing quasi-pathetic woman who at age 32 is totally lost. Just impossible to root for or like, Rory turned into something unrecognizable.

— The musical numbers: Horrendous. Stupid. Not funny in the least. Just a complete waste of time.

— The “Summer” episode: By far the worst one. Who knew Stars Hollow even had a pool?

— The “Sandee Says” website storyline: OK so let me get this straight: This gossipy celebrity website chases Rory for a year, desperately wants to hire her, finally she agrees, and then the snotty boss basically acts like she has no idea who Rory is and doesn’t hire her? Completely stupid and unrealistic.

— The Rory “boyfriend” everyone forgets about: This also made no sense. We’re supposed to believe this guy “Paul” has been dating Rory for two years, except he’s never around and no one remembers anything about him? Lazy, silly writing.

And finally …

— The ending, and the “final four words” that the Palladinos had been guarding like a national security secret all these years? They were pretty shocking. But they make sense in a full circle kind of way. Series began with Lorelai having a daughter unexpectedly 16 years earlier, and now Rory apparently has gotten pregnant by Logan.
I really don’t know if I liked this or didn’t like it yet. Would love to hear any of your thoughts…

**And now, for something completely different. The Baltimore Ravens seem to have a knack for having players who have amazing talents outside of football. One of their offensive lineman, John Urschel, is a math genius from MIT. And their placekicker, maybe the best kicker in the game right now, can sing opera.

Seriously. This is Justin Tucker, NFL star, belting out one hell of an “Ave Maria.”

Amazing.

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**Finally today, a little riff on progress. The family and I went to Baltimore last week for Thanksgiving, and last Friday we took our 2-year-old downstairs to the hotel pool.

I swam with him for a bit, we splashed around, he laughed and had a great time. At one point, though, I looked around and noticed something. There were a few African-American kids in the pool, along with a handful of white children.

Several of them were playing together, some made-up game, and it struck me all at once: Fifty years ago, in many places, this scene would’ve been illegal.

Black children in a pool with white children? In Maryland, which is technically the South? Unheard of. Just five decades earlier, a scene like this would caused outrage and alarm.

And yet, such a short period of time later, it was the most normal thing in the world.
No big overarching point here, just a reminder to myself that we complain about how slow racial progress is in so many areas.

But in small ways, we’ve come so far from such a dark, segregationist past.

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An intentionally-hilarious MSNBC interview about white people. My mixed feelings as Parcells goes into Hall. And grown men irrationally excited about ice cream

Sometimes, the best weapon against ignorance is not a fist, but a small tap with a feather.
I have no idea what that means, I just made it up. But my point is, sometimes the best way to break through all noise and intolerance is with a very subtle, quiet jab.
Chris Hayes is an MSNBC host, and Cord Jefferson is a guest commentator. In this brilliant six-minute interview, they stay focused, composed and serious the whole time while essentially performing something like a Monty Python sketch.

Beware, the mobs of white people, they warn us.
I thought this was brilliant.

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**Bill Parcells is going into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this weekend, and I have very mixed feelings about the Big Tuna.

On the one hand, I love him for one small slice of his career. When he took over the Jets in 1997, they were a laughingstock. Check that: They would’ve had to have improved to be a laughingstock. They were 1-15 and Rich Kotite had finally been fired, and here came Parcells, riding in on his white horse from New England, where he just had taken the Patriots to the Super Bowl.

Sure, it felt a little dirty, stealing another team’s coach, and sure, Parcells’ behavior at the end in New England (basically negotiating with the Jets during Super Bowl week with the Pats) was deplorable.
But here, finally, was a reputable, big-time, proven winner to coach my Jets. We had been waiting forever for one of those, and now he was here.
And in just a couple of seasons, he had us in the AFC title game, and with a 10-0 lead at Denver before the roof caved in (Damn you Keith Byars for that fumble!).

Parcells left the Jets, and eventually coached the Cowboys very unsuccessfully. But he returned the Jets to respectability, and really, until this recent Tebow fiasco last year, they had remained there for 14 years.

Still, I can’t overlook Parcells’ many flaws. He was a bully, he was a liar (backing out of a deal to coach Tampa, then his constant declarations when he’d leave a team that “this is my last job.), and his winning percentage (.579) actually wasn’t all that great.

He’s a Hall of Famer because he won two Super Bowls and turned around three franchises (Giants, Jets, Pats), although you’d have to say that his protege Bill Belichick has had the far more successful career.

Mostly, I think Bill Parcells is a complicated person to judge. The vastly gifted writer Peter Richmond has a terrific column on Parcells up here today.

**Finally today, this was kind of sweet, I thought. Watch how the Baltimore Ravens reacted when an ice cream truck pulled up to their practice field.

Hey, if I’d been outside sweating in 90-degree heat while in full pads, I’d be dancing if I saw ice cream, too.

Seeing Barry Manilow on Broadway=one happy Me. The Super Bowl commerical you never saw. And the man who inspired the Baltimore Ravens all year.

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I saw Barry Manilow on Broadway last Thursday night, and it was wonderful.

My love for Barry Manilow and his music started right after I came out of the womb, practically.
As a baby my mother used to sing a variety of songs to get me to stop crying, but the one she sang the most was “Can’t Smile Without You.” To this day, it gives me a warm glow inside.

Pretty much since childhood, I’ve loved Barry. You can mock all you want; I’m sure I’ve heard all the jokes you might make about the man who wrote so many awesome songs in the 1970s and 80s.

I have suffered my Fanilow status like a badge of honor, and was thrilled to finally see him in concert in Las Vegas in 2008.

Why do I love him? Lots of reasons. One is that he’s never pretended to be anything but what he is: A composer who writes and sings simple, beautiful songs about life.
Another reason is he seems to get such joy out of singing, and playing with his audience. He knows he was just a Jewish kid from Brooklyn who was fortunate enough to be exposed to music and had a gift for it, and he seems to revel in every moment of his fame.

And for a third reason, he just writes great songs! “Weekend in New England” is a beautiful mixture of melody and lyrics; so is “I Made it Through the Rain,” and of course, “Copacabana,” the song that will be mentioned first in his obit.

Oh, I know he’s slipped in recent years; at Thursday’s show, (which, I’ll have you know, had plenty of under-40 people besides myself) his voice was a little weaker than usual, he didn’t move around all that well, and yes, his face bore the damage of way too much plastic surgery.

But for 90 minutes, he told stories and laughed and had a killer backup band helping him along. He gave the crowd exactly what it hoped for, and I think that’s all you can ask in a performer.

So go ahead and mock us Fanilows if you want to. We’re thrilled the guy’s strill around and performing, giving us all a few more smiles.

**If you were watching the Baltimore Ravens get awarded the Lombardi Trophy after that scintillating and bizarre Super Bowl on Sunday, you may have heard coach John Harbaugh immediately pay tribute to O.J. Brigance when he was interviewed, calling him “an inspiration.”
Brigance is a former Ravens player who suffers from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), and ESPN did a beautiful and touching piece on him a few weeks ago. Watch, and then be thankful for all that you have in life.

**Finally today, here’s a pretty funny Will Ferrell commercial that most of America didn’t get shown during the Super Bowl; sort of a “rebuttal” to the GoDaddy.com ad with supermodel Bar Rafaeli and the computer tech dude. Glad we didn’t get any close-ups of Will Ferrell, yeesh.