Tag Archives: Bill Simmons

A night in the audience of the Jimmy Fallon show. A beautiful essay about why we care about sports. And some impossible pool trick shots.

Wanted to write all about the French Open men’s final for today, and what happened in the epic showdown, the 4th in a row at a Grand Slam, between Nadal and Djokovic on Sunday. But the damn rain in Paris delayed the finish until Monday morning. And so, you get no tennis commentary today. Tomorrow, a whole bunch…

I got to experience a pretty cool “life first” Friday afternoon. Have always wanted to see a live TV show taping. Had a few chances while on vacation in California over the years, but for one reason or another, it never worked out (one show got cancelled before we got to see it taped. So I didn’t miss much that day).

But Friday I finally got into a studio audience. My fiance and I got tickets to see “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon.” I was never a big fan of his on “SNL” partly because he cracked up on camera all the time, but I’ve very much enjoyed clips and the few episodes I’ve seen of his late-night show (this classic clip with Bruce Springsteen is my all-time favorite Fallon moment).

After waiting for a few hours to get into the studio once we arrived with our tickets, it was a pretty cool experience to finally see.
Some scattered thoughts/observations:
— Jimmy Fallon? Really, really tall.
— Was really struck by how tiny the actual studio was. There were maybe 150 of us in the audience, and we were pretty much on top of where all the action was. Always seemed like studio audiences were bigger on TV.

— I find it hilarious that in 2012, we have telephones that do our shopping for us and answer every one of life’s questions, we have other technology that’s beyond our wildest dreams, but on a TV set, there’s still one guy holding up words on blue cue cards for the host to read.
The same way they did it in 1963.

— Maybe the strangest thing I saw was, during one of the commercial breaks, Fallon announced to the crowd “OK folks, I’m going to do some local promos now, try to be loud,” and then he proceeded to do four quick spots like “Hello Denver, tonight I’ve got Ben Stiller and Anthony Bourdain and the great band Japandroids…”
Who knew network TV stars still did stuff like that?

— Finally, the funniest bit was the one above that started the show. You just never see a triangle getting played much anymore, do you? And how great are The Roots guys in the background, playing 3rd graders instruments?

**And now, for no particular reason other than it made my jaw drop a few times, here’s a cool collection of pool trick shots. I think the one at :45 was my favorite…

**Finally, it was a hell of a sports weekend, even if we lost the chance for a horse racing Triple Crown before the race even started (apparently I’ll Have Another changed his mind and said no thanks). The Miami Heat advanced to the NBA Finals, Manny Pacquiao apparently got completely ripped off by some boxing judges (gee that’s surprising, boxing has always seemed so fair), the Yankees swept the Mets, and the New Jersey Devils kept hockey alive for a few more days.

ESPN’s Bill Simmons, probably the most-read sportswriter in America today, doesn’t write as entertaining columns as he used to, and he’s not as prolific as he used to be.
But when he writes about his kids, and sports, and why we care so much, he always nails it. He wrote a great piece Friday that’s well worth your time; check it out here and feel the joy and heartbreak that makes us keep coming back for more.


The TV crawl and how it’s changed our lives. The World Beard Contest. And Donald Duck is a dirty, dirty duck (maybe)

This weekend, one of the world’s strangest competitions is being held. That’s right, it’s the World Beard and Moustache championships, where the heavyweights of the hirsute set meet to compare notes and ask each other questions. I’m guessing one of those questions is “Does your wife hector you about cutting the damn thing off already, too?

Seriously, I love these guys. To take this much time and effort into your facial hair, while you know the rest of the world is mocking you, just to try to win this competition, has to be admirable.

**This thought has been pinging around my cranium for a few days. Ever wonder just how much the bottom of the screen crawl/ticker thing has changed our lives? It was an ESPN innovation at first, so they could update fans on sports scores a lot quicker than the previous “:28/:58” every half-hour crawl they used to use. (anyone else remember the great “:28/:58” updates on ESPN? I would sit there waiting with breathless anticipation for the Rangers or Yankees score to come up.)
After 9/11, CNN and all the other news networks started using it, since there was so much news going on in the weeks after the terrorist attack.
Now, the crawl is everywhere, at all times of the day. And while it can be annoying to some (I dislike it once in a while), it’s completely changed how we watch TV.
I find myself reading the crawl on CNN just as often as I watch and listen to the main broadcast. I anxiously check the crawl for sports scores and get mad if I just missed the score I’m looking for. (“What, I’ve got to wait FIVE whole minutes for it come back on again?”).
It’s an innovation that has transformed TV, giving us the news instantly, as soon as we want it.
And I think it’s taken for granted. So I just wanted to say I appreciate the crawl. And I’m glad to be alive in 2011.

(This only tangentially applies, but writing about the crawl and the 28/58 thing got me thinking of one of my favorite Bill Simmons columns ever (back when he was still a writer, which he hardly is anymore). It’s an open letter to 1982 Bill, explaining the future of sports television. I laughed pretty hard at it.

**Finally, Donald Duck got exonerated this week. The lovable mallard apparently was charged with fondling a customer at Epcot Center in Florida last year, while taking a picture with her.
Well, OK, so he didn’t really get exonerated. He settled the case out of court with the woman he allegedly groped.

Donald, Donald, Donald. You know better than that. Touching customers is not nice.
If you’ve got to get handsy with someone, well, I’m sure Cinderella is free on Saturday night.

Songs that just keep coming back, I call Obama’s peeps out, and life as a Jets fan


Lot of stuff between the ears today, so let’s rock and roll:

** So two things made me think of the ultimate Journey song ‘Don’t Stop Believin'” this week: one, Journey singer Steve Perry, a lifelong San Francisco Giants fan, is apparently mad that the L.A. Dodgers are using his anthem as a psych-up song during their games.

And then it came up again while I watched the series premiere of “Glee” that Fox aired last spring, that featured a kick-ass performance by the glee club of the song in the final scene.

And it got me to thinking: Why is it that some songs just keep coming back into our pop culture sphere? I’m not talking about songs like “Y.M.C.A” or “Celebration,” by Kool and his merry Gang. I’m talking about songs that are huge when they come out, go away for a while, and then come back. Then they go away, come back, and well, you get the idea.

“Don’t Stop Believin'” is suddenly huge again. “Sweet Caroline,” by the great Neil Diamond, went away for a while, then the Red Sox brought it back a few years ago and it became big to a whole new group of people. Same for “I Love Rock and Roll,” by the great Joan Jett, which is now basically the theme for “Sunday Night Football” on NBC.

What is it about certain songs that allow them to have three or four lives? I truly don’t know. If you do, please let me know.

In the meantime, bringing up Journey means I get to share with you perhaps the greatest and most unintentionally hilarous music video of all time: Journey’s “Separate Ways.” I believe it was ESPN’s Bill Simmons who once said that if you were to take someone from the future and show them the 1980s in four minutes, this is what they should experience: Truly, truly awesome in its awfulness. YouTube won’t let me embed it but trust me, these are four minutes that will have you laughing out loud.

**OK, lest you think that all I do is cheerlead for Obama and our current administration, I have to slap them down for something. When W. was in office myself and other Democrats were pissed every time he and Karl Rove and Co. intervened in state and federal elections, trying to sway them and push candidates who only believe in their agenda.

Well, Obama and Rahm Emanuel are basically doing the same thing now, trying to get New York governor by default (hey, who knew Eliot Spitzer liked hookers, right?) David Paterson to step aside in next year’s race.  It was wrong for the last eight years, and it’s wrong now. What, the Obama administration doesn’t have enough to do.?

**One of my major pet peeves with the national news media is this bullshit “false equivalency” thing newspapers and TV stations do, where no matter how bogus the claim is from one side of the political aisle, it is presented as fact, all in the name of “fairness to all.” It’s complete crap, it was complete crap during the election when the Republicans made stuff about out of whole cloth, it’s complete crap when Democrats do it, too.

Well, here’s the brilliant Glenn Greenwald with yet another example of the media totally printing fabrications, just because one side says so.

**What’s it like being a Jets fan when times are good? My man Pearlman hits it on the head with this column. This is a fictional conversation, but he and I have had many very similar chats over the years.

**And finally, a little health-care humor to help you through a Wednesday…