Tag Archives: Hamilton

I finally see “Hamilton” and yeah, it’s as amazing as everyone says it is. And NFL Week 6: My Jets are exciting and don’t stink, while the Rams still rule and the Pats are back

About halfway through seeing the Broadway production of “Hamilton” last Thursday night, my wife saw me smiling and having a great time.

“But you hate musicals!” she teased.

“This isn’t a musical!” I declared. “It’s a history lesson with really good songs!”

Hey, I wasn’t giving in on that one. I’m not a big fan of musicals. But call “Hamilton” a musical, or a history lesson with songs, or whatever. Fact is, nearly three years after it debuted and instantly became a smash hit, and 10 months after I finally was able to get tickets to see it (seriously, I bought these babies in January), the wait was absolutely worth it.

“Hamilton” was sensational. Mind-blowing and fantastic. The performances, the lyrics, the costumes, the sheer energy of every single performer. I don’t care if it wasn’t the original cast, this group of actors and actresses absolutely put on a powerhouse show, one the likes of which I haven’t ever seen. (Here’s a clip from the show’s performance at the Tonys in 2016)

First, the song lyrics, as amazing as I thought they were, are even better watching them live, in person, sung out at full force. How Lin-Manuel Miranda came up with all of this, just boggles my mind. How he saw the story of Alexander Hamilton and imagined this entire, beautiful musical is kind of hard to fathom.

Lines like “Hey yo, I’m just like my country, I’m young, scrappy and hungry,” and “When I meet Thomas Jefferson, I’m a compel him to include women in the sequel” are just magical.

I also loved “How does a ragtag army in need of a shower/somehow defeat a global superpower.”

I had to Google a few lyrics that I missed because the speed at which the actors spit them out is 10x faster than any Aaron Sorkin script, let me tell you.

But beyond the words, the story, and the performances, are so, so good. The characters of Aaron Burr, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and the others are so well-drawn, and easily digestible as history through entertainment, that I have no problem at all with millions of kids (and frankly, adults) using “Hamilton” as an educational tool.

The story of this brash young immigrant coming to America and helping change the world, and brush up against so many obstacles, has so many universal themes. Betrayal, triumph, infidelity… you name it, “Hamilton” covers it all.

The actors and actresses were terrific as well; the story of the Schuyler sisters is equally vital to all of the Founding Fathers stuff, and gives Alexander Hamilton even more dimension.

It was a thrilling theater experience, it really was. After hearing, and reading, so much about “Hamilton” for the past three years, to finally actually see it live let me truly understand the brilliance of the show.

If you live anywhere near a city where “Hamilton” is playing, I highly recommend it. I feel so lucky that I was able to see it.

Like so few things in life do, it lives up to the hype.

**Finally today, it was another surprisingly happy NFL Sunday for long-suffering Jets fans like me. Two wins in a row! A winning streak! A rookie quarterback who increasingly seems like the real deal in Sam Darnold.

I’m not getting crazy-excited yet, because the Jets did give up 34 points to a pretty terrible Indy team, but Darnold had a tremendously efficient game, and hey, 3-3 puts them right in the thick of things, playoff-wise, in the AFC.
The next two weeks will let me know if I can get excited for real; Jets play the Vikings and then the Bears. Win those games and my fellow Jets fanatics will be pumped.

— What a wild Sunday night game we had. Patriots-Chiefs gave us 83 points, and even though like usual I was pissed at the ending (at SOME point Tom Brady will retire and the Pats will stink again, right?) it was wildly fun to watch. If the Chiefs get ANY kind of defense, they can win the Super Bowl.

— So the L.A. Rams stayed undefeated, with the kind of win you need if you’re going to win a Super Bowl, a gritty, on-the-road, not-pretty victory, 23-20 over the desperate Denver Broncos. Not sure who the Rams will be losing to.

— Brock Osweiler is alive!!! Who knew? The left-for-dead QB who stunk it up everywhere he went in the NFL led the Miami Dolphins to a stirring OT win over the Bears. Brock, we always knew you had it in you.

— This cracked me up: Tarik Cohen of the Bears, whose surname makes him sound Jewish but he most certainly is not, was taken to a Jewish deli by the sports website Bleacher Report, and given a quick primer on Yiddish words. Stay with it until the end, absolutely made me laugh. Unrelatedly, I spent Sunday at a bat mitzvah and helped out on the chair lift as well. Always fun.

 

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Good News Friday: A Carolina Panther with some amazing work after Hurricane Florence. Your periodic reminder that Steph Curry is pure, pure joy. And a man inspired by a teacher meets his hero once again

A couple of programming notes before we dive in to Good News Friday: 1, I don’t believe in my 43 years of life I’ve ever had a hurricane named after me, but Hurricane Michael is here and walloped the hell out of parts of Florida and Georgia, and on behalf of all Michael’s everywhere, we apologize.
Also, about a year after we bought the impossible-to-get tickets, the wife and I finally saw “Hamilton” on Broadway Thursday night. Mind-blowingly good. Like, “holy cow everything everyone said about it being amazing was an understatement” kind of good. Much longer blog post about it coming next week.

OK, on with the show…

We start Good News Friday this week with a story of a wonderful gesture from Carolina Panthers football player Julius Peppers. The longtime star defensive end is from North Carolina, and back when Hurricane Florence hit last month he immediately donated $100,000 to the relief efforts, and got teammates like Cam Newton to match that amount, too.

But Peppers didn’t just put up money; this week on his off day he went to the United Way headquarters in Robeson County early Tuesday morning to begin a day of service.

According to this story in the Charlotte Observer, he joined volunteers as they went through neighborhoods to speak with residents and see homes, and lend support as those affected told their stories.

“A lot of these people had to rip the walls out of their homes, throw out furniture and clothing, throw out everything that they had, all of their possessions thrown to the side of the road,” said Peppers. “Seeing those things, and the people telling their stories, it was an experience that I’m going to take with me and that I’m going to share with others as I encourage others to come try to help out, too.”

Peppers joined members of the Mennonite community as they served meals to residents affected by the storm in various neighborhoods in the county.

Then, Peppers and the United Way volunteers helped clean out and start repairs on the home of a policeman who couldn’t save his own belongings from the storm, because he was out in the neighborhood helping others evacuate.

Outstanding job, Julius. I like highlighting these stories because we hear so often about the Ray Rices and Greg Hardys of pro football, who have committed crimes, but not nearly enough about the vast majority of good humans who play in the NFL. They deserve praise, too.

**Next up, every once in a while I like to remind myself and others of how amazing Steph Curry is. This was just one moment in a meaningless pregame warmup to a meaningless preseason game.

But seriously, how cool is this shot? Watching Steph Curry is pure joy, man. Just pure, pure joy.

**And finally today, it was International Teacher’s Day last week, and while I think every day should be one we honor teachers, this one was special for at least one student.
Ian Wright is a former soccer player from England, and he told a story about his favorite grade school teacher, a man named Mr. Pigden.

Here’s Wright, in a short 2-minute video, explaining what Mr. Pigden meant to him, and oh man, get the tissues ready for what happens starting at the 1:20 mark.

Great teachers never die, they just live on in our memories.

The Trump cabinet is as scary as we feared. SNL does a great skit, but it’s soon not going to be funny. And the Detroit Lions are in first place! And other NFL thoughts

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So it’s been almost two weeks and I’m still not quite believing that a 70-year-0ld vulgar, talking yam who is the most unqualified man ever to become United States President, actually is going to be President in a couple months.

For a few days after the election, there was some laughable talk that Mr. Trump would actually try to be calmer, more sober, and not hire as many radical nutjobs as he had working for him on the campaign.

But nope. So far Trump’s major appointments have included a white nationalist sympathizer (Steve Bannon), a completely-lost-his-marbles general (Michael Flynn), and a Senator from Alabama who was deemed to racist to be a federal judge 30 years ago (Jeff Sessions).

Also, Trump has refused to talk to the press or to the public, he got all mad that his VP got booed at “Hamilton” (gee, hard to see how the most anti-gay VP ever would get heckled on Broadway, though I do give props for Pence’s quote that the boos “sounded like freedom of speech.” He took it better than his boss.) and oh yeah, his chief of stuff, Reince Priebus, said that we may well have a “Muslim Registry” of all Muslims who live in America.

I’m sorry, was Joe McCarthy brought back to life or am I imagining things?

This is how bad it’s been: I hear Mitt Romney might be Secretary of State and I’m like “whew, a grownup!”

It’s all just still so dizzying, that so many unserious, offensive people will be having a major role in our government. And that Trump is having meetings and phone calls with world leaders on unsecured phones in Trump Tower. And that he’s still Tweeting about “SNL” and that his business interests already seem so intertwined with his Presidency.

(That letter above, by the way, was from a Dad to his son Jack, about how to live under Trump’s rule. I love it, and think we all should heed its advice.)

I guess as soon as I start accepting this is real, the better off I’ll feel. I have been saying to people that I really don’t think Trump will last four years as President: He’ll either get bored and quit, or become so wildly, spectacularly a failure that he’ll be forced to resign by Congress.

Either one is fine with me.

**Next up, Alec Baldwin continues to do excellent work on “Saturday Night Live,” as Trump, though the man himself Tweeted how unfunny and unfair it was. (The great Jason Gay of the Wall Street Journal  Tweeted back “Dude, you watch more TV than a latch-key kid.”

The Mitt Romney handshake at the 4-minute mark slayed me.

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**And finally today, the Detroit Lions are in first place! Let me say that again: The Detroit Lions are in first place. No, really, the Detroit Lions are in first place.

This is a statement that’s said as often as “Mmmmm, asparagus!” by 7-year-olds, or “You know what we need? More snow!” by New Englanders in February. The Lions have stunk for about 60 years, pretty consistently. But somehow this year they’re less stinky than usual.

Sure it takes last-minute heroics for them to win (I’m afraid my friend Abel, a die-hard Lions fan, might have a heart attack by the end of the season, and he has two kids and is a great friend, I can’t have that happen!), but hey, they’re now 6-4 and tied for first and it seems nuts. Their best player, Calvin Johnson, retired after last season, they seem to always fall behind, but somehow have been finding ways to win.

Detroit Lions, first place. Sounds about as crazy as President Donald Trump, doesn’t it?

Some more NFL thoughts on a cold Monday…

— So Kirk Cousins is pretty good now, right Washington fans? You hate him, you love him. I get it. Today you love him. He torched Green Bay and suddenly 3 NFC East teams could make the playoffs. Hate seeing world-class jerk Daniel Snyder accidentally have a winning team, though.

— So much for my declaration last week that the Kansas City Chiefs were really good, huh? Ah, everyone gets a mulligan.

— I don’t understand how the Arizona Cardinals are this mediocre. Much the same team from last year, a great coach in Bruce Arians, and they’re losing way too often. Not going to make the playoffs at this rate, and I really thought they could be a Super Bowl team.

— Finally, spare a thought for the Cleveland Browns. Zero and 11 is no way to spend Thanksgiving.

 

The Orlando nightclub shooting and the Tony Awards: Love will always beat hate. The Penguins win the Cup, and Gordie Howe, remembered. And Billy Crystal beautifully eulogizes Muhammad Ali

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I woke up Sunday morning around 7:30, and within minutes I was filled with rage.

Rage at once again, a mass shooting on American soil, by a person using weapons only military should be allowed to possess. A man raging against the world, against gay people, against our values, and mowing down more than 100 people, killing 50.

Last time there was a mass shooting I wrote in this space that I was numb to it, and trying to remain hopeful. Two mass shootings ago I was angry and pissed off, and that’s where I was Sunday. I don’t care if the perpetrator of this heinous act did what he did at Pulse nightclub because he hates gay people, or because he sympathized with ISIS

And my rage barely subsided all day when I thought about the horrible tragedy, and how incredibly frightening it must have been to be in that club. And my rage reached new levels when I read “our thoughts and prayers are with the victims” statements from men like Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee, who absolutely demonize and spew hatred at lesbian and gay people constantly, yet now more than four dozen of them are dead and suddenly they give a fuck.

So I was mad, and feeling helpless, and knowing that once again, absolutely nothing will change in America even after the worst mass shooting in our nation’s history.

Then at 8 p.m., the Tony Awards started. And host James Corden did a fabulous opening number talking about inclusion, and how diversity is a good thing, and for the next few hours a theater community that welcomes and becomes a safe refuge for so many gay, lesbian and transgender people was a cornucopia of joy, and good feelings.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, the genius behind “Hamilton,”  gave a fantastic acceptance speech that ended like this:

“We lived through times when hate and fear seemed stronger,
we rise and fall and light from dying embers, remembrances that
hope and love last longer.

And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love…
It cannot be killed or swept aside.”

And awards were handed out and heartfelt speeches made, and tributes to the Orlando victims were offered, and I smiled through much of it.

On such a tragic day, a day that usually leads to feeling such helplessness, it was wonderful to be reminded, by brilliant actors and actresses on the Beacon Theatre stage, that love ALWAYS wins over hate.

Every damn time.

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**Next up, there was a hell of a Stanley Cup finals hockey game played Sunday night, which I watched during Tonys commercials and then saw the whole third period.

The Sharks and Penguins played the whole game like their hair was on fire, and if only the choppy ice had cooperated (it’s June in San Jose, can’t really expect good ice) the score could easily have been 6-5. Pittsburgh is the new Stanley Cup champion, and man it

Couple quick thoughts on the Penguins’ Stanley Cup win:

— Sidney Crosby, hated by so many hockey fans (including me), is just a sensational player. His puckhandling, his vision, he’s been so good for so long that you take him for granted. But this guy almost had his career ended by concussions a few years ago, so to see him playing at this level again is something else.

— Mike Emrick. I mean, what more can you say about the best play-by-play announcer in any sport? He was just so much fun to listen to Sunday night.

— The Sharks have just about put to bed their reputation as playoff chokers, right? What a fantastic playoff run they had. Absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.

— Gordie Howe, maybe the second-greatest hockey player ever (some blonde dude named Gretzky was better), died on Friday. So many great stories were told by the hockey writers who knew him; I loved this Michael Farber essay on Howe on SI.com, and Canadian hockey legend Roy MacGregor also had a great story and video here as well. In McDonald’s piece, we hear a wonderful anecdote about Howe once picking an opponent up off the ice by his nostrils. And oh yeah, Gordie was still playing pro hockey at age 51. Fifty-one!

Rest in Peace to a legendary player.

**Finally today, wanted to end on an uplifting note. Friday was Muhammad Ali’s funeral, and as you expect, so many luminaries were in attendance.

Billy Crystal gave one of the eulogies, and he was just pitch-perfect. His humor, emotion and words were outstanding. Watch this and again, appreciate how much love and goodness there is in the world.

Billy’s the best.

Good News Friday: A teenage girl gets to see “Hamilton,” and her Dad writes about it. Mother and daughter find each other, 80 years after adoption. And a Children’s Village in Tanzania is absolutely inspiring.

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And a Happy Friday to you. Been a couple weeks since I’ve done a GNF so the good news stories have happily piled up. Have three here that really moved me and I think you’ll enjoy.

First up, the great Joe Posnanski is never better than when writing about his family; I don’t care if he never wrote another sports column, I’d read anything and everything he wrote about his wife and kids.

This piece might be his best ever.

It seems Joe’s 14-year-old daughter Elizabeth has, like millions of other Americans, become obsessed with the huge Broadway musical “Hamilton,” and despite ticket prices being astronomical (seriously just for the heck of it I checked “Hamilton” prices on StubHub and about fell out of my chair), he took her to see it in New York recently.

This essay, partly about why “Hamilton” has struck such a chord, why it’s so good, and about his daughter’s passion in seeing it, is just sensational.

An excerpt:

The thing about seeing Hamilton RIGHT NOW at its peak moment is that even before it begins, the entire theater is filled with wonder. Every single person would rather be here than anywhere else in the world. As a sportswriter, I often feel that sort of energy at the biggest events, at the Masters or the Super Bowl or the Olympics, but it’s even more pronounced in this theater. People look at each other with the same wide-eyed expression: “Can you believe we’re here?”

And then the show begins, Aaron Burr on the stage, talking about that bastard orphan Hamilton, and within about two minutes you realize the thing that makes Hamilton magical is this: It’s going to be even better than you had hoped.

How do you know only a minute in? You just do. The charms of Hamilton are so overwhelming and come at you from so many different directions that it’s hard to pinpoint. The music is fantastic, of course, and of every style. The actors are all thoroughly wonderful. The set, which is so simple, is ever changing as people bring things on the stage and take things off, almost without notice. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s lyrics are so fun and surprising and joyful and glorious …

Here, the Marquis de Lafayette is the “Lancelot of the Revolutionary set.”

Here, George Washington is not the white-haired truth-teller known for annual white sales, he is the only hope when the Colonies are “outgunned, outmanned, outnumbered, outplanned.”

Here, the Revolutionary War is not some bloodless classroom lesson, but the answer to the question: “How does a ragtag army in need of a shower, somehow defeat a global superpower?”

The column gets better and better as it goes, and the postscript Joe added a few days after the column went viral? The perfect ending.

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**Next up, this incredible story from the Chicago Tribune was sent to me by loyal reader Sanford, and it blew me away. More than 80 years ago, a 16-year-old girl named Eileen Wagner was raped on her way home one night and became pregnant. She was sent away by her parents to a “special home” for teenaged girls who became pregnant, and after delivering the baby in 1933, the child was given up for adoption. That child, Dorien Hammann, was adopted after being in a ward of the state for two years, and Eileen never saw her again.

Until this past April, when now 83-year-old Dorian called Eileen and said two incredible words: “Hello, Mother.”

After eight decades, Dorien and Eileen have reunited as daughter and mother. It’s a wonderful tale from journalist Vikki Ortiz Healy, and well worth your time.

I almost gave up on ever finding her,” said Wagner, who added that she has thought about the baby girl she had given up every day “from the day she was born.”

“It is still so hard to believe that at my age, my birth mother is still alive,” Hammann said. “I get chills and goose bumps all at the same time when I think of this.”

Eighty years. Can you imagine finding your mother after all that time?

**Finally today, a “60 Minutes” piece I finally got to watch on our flight home Tuesday night really hit me. It’s about an American woman named India Howell and her business power, a Tanzania native named Peter Leon Mmassy, and the children’s village of nearly 100 kids they’ve created in a remote part of the world where so many kids were orphaned or abandoned.

What these two people have built over the past 20 years is nothing short of remarkable. Together, Mmassy and Howell have transformed so many lives in so many ways. Watch the full story here.

 

“Beautiful/Anonymous” is a new podcast I’m obsessed with. Two great Prince tributes over the weekend. And I vent a little about the Rangers’ season ending

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I’m a pretty huge fan of podcasts; I listen to them when I’m driving somewhere, or walking somewhere (which is always in Manhattan), or taking the subway. I love learning about worlds other than my own; podcasts keep me informed, entertained and often angered. But never bored.

That said, I wasn’t really looking for any new ones, as I don’t have time to listen to all the ones I already like.

But on the most recent new episode of “This American Life,” they played a long stretch of a fantastic new podcast called “Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People,” and I was hooked. There’ve only been seven episodes so far and I’ve devoured three of them in the last couple of days.

Here’s the premise: A comedian named Chris Gethard sits in a studio, and people call in. He picks one phone caller each week, gets them on the line, and then for the next 60 minutes, they talk. The caller stays anonymous, and Gethard must stay on the phone for the whole hour, he can’t hang up, no matter where the conversation goes (the caller can hang up anytime).

It sounds so simple, and so open-ended, and it is. The podcast works because Gethard is a terrific listener who asks great questions, and the conversations go anywhere and everywhere at once.

Just to give you an example of what it’s like: One episode features an illustrator living in New York City, struggling to make ends meet in a difficult profession, ruminating with Chris on staying true to his art or “selling out,” but the conversation goes all over the place, to NYC parking rules, the Star Wars movies, and lots of other places.
There has been one incredible episode featuring an Army soldier who played with a Ouija board on leave, and he asked the board if anyone in his platoon was going to die that year, and the board spelled out a very unusual first name, the name of a guy in his platoon, and the caller never told the guy and then the guy was killed by a sniper eight months later.

And the caller is dealing with the weight, and the guilt, of that, plus his Grandma was a French spy and his grandpa was an Allied officer and they met during World War II. (That’s episode 5)

Maybe the most emotional episode was No. 4, with a formerly homeless voice actor just talking and working stuff out with Gethard, who is alternately empathetic, angry, funny and just exactly the kind of guy you’d want to spend an hour on the phone with.

It’s really a fantastic podcast, if you want to hear real, unscripted, raw conversation. Check it out on ITunes here, or on the Earwolf.com site here.

**Next up today, like many people I’m sure I spent a bit of my weekend reminiscing about Prince after his death on Thursday; a highlight for me was the 10 minutes I spent at my aunt and uncle’s Passover Seder Saturday explaining to my uncle exactly why Prince was so talented, and so beloved for his music.

Two tributes I saw over the weekend that I wanted to share that I thought were great: First, above, is the cast of “Hamilton” closing their show Thursday night with a fantastic little dance tribute to Prince, and the second, below, is Bruce Springsteen, showing once again he’s a rock god, opening a concert in Brooklyn Saturday night with “Purple Rain,” featuring the amazing Nils Lofgren on the great guitar solo halfway through the song.

Just fantastic.

**And finally today, if you’ll permit me a minute to rant about my New York Rangers, whose season mercifully ended on Saturday, with a 6-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

I’ve been spoiled these last four years as a Rangers fan; my favorite team in all of sports got to the conference finals in 2012, then the Cup finals in 2014, then lost a Game 7 of the conference finals last year. That’s a whole lot of hockey, a whole lot of excitement. Those Rangers teams, I was proud to support. They deserved admiration and love.

This year’s team? This team was pathetic. The effort was lacking in so many games this year, and then in so many playoff games. They hung the best goalie in the world, Henrik Lundqvist, out to dry many times. They had a penalty killing unit that would’ve had to improve to be considered dreadful.

Several young players took steps backward this season (I’m looking at you, Kevin Hayes), and I’m honestly not sure if King Henrik’s poor year was an omen of things to come (ducks lightning bolt).

Just a miserable Rangers season. But like I said, I’ve been spoiled.
Also, these Stanley Cup playoffs have been so-so so far; the Blues-Blackhawks series has been sensational (can’t wait for Game 7), but outside of that, kind of meh. Hated that the Islanders won Sunday night, but happy for many of my Isles fan friends who hadn’t seen a playoff series win since 1993 (That was before O.J. murdered Nicole and Ron, that’s how long ago that was.)

Expecting great things out of Caps-Penguins in Round 2, and as always, playoff overtime hockey is the best thing in sports.

The Coen Brothers new movie is a total mess. Kendrick Lamar and “Hamilton” rock the Grammys. And a fascinating profile of the guy who knows Obama better than anyone

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Here’s what I feel about Coen Brothers movies: They have the widest range of quality of any filmmakers I’ve ever seen.

When their movies are good, they’re great, tremendous, classics: I’m talking about “Fargo,” and “No Country for Old Men,” and “True Grit,” and of course “The Big Lebowski.”

But when their movies are bad… man, they are more putrid than my son’s diaper Genie. I cannot tell you how much I hated “A Serious Man,” and “Intolerable Cruelty,” and “The Man Who Wasn’t There.” I walked out of those flicks wondering “how could the same people who gave us “Fargo” also do this?”

With all that in my head, I went to see “Hail Caesar” on Tuesday, their newest flick. It has an all-star cast, with George Clooney, Josh Brolin, Ralph Fiennes, and Scarlett Johannson.

I had high hopes. The trailer looked fabulous.

And … it was awful. Really, really bad.

The plot, such as it was, was barely fleshed out. The acting was meh. Even the production numbers were so-so.

The basic “story” was this: It’s 1950s Hollywood, and Eddie Mannix (Brolin) runs Capitol Pictures, a big movie studio. During filming of a big picture, his star Baird Whitlock (Clooney) is kidnapped by some Communists, who then spend a long time convincing Whitlock their philosophies about the world are correct. There are a few other subplots, featuring a dumb-as-rocks country boy actor being forced to be a dramatic leading man, and Mannix having a career crisis, but mostly it’s Clooney in a room with Communists.

I nearly fell asleep during the movie, and I never do that. There were maybe three laughs the whole film, and it wasn’t dramatic enough to be a drama.

So disappointing. Joel and Ethan Coen are like Dave Kingman now, either they hit a massive home run or strike out feebly.

Sadly, this was a big strikeout.

**Next up today, I experienced my annual shame and confusion viewing of the Grammy Awards Monday night, the one night where I try to catch up on all the “current” music that I’ve ignored for the past year, so I can sound partly intelligent should I ever get into a music discussion.

And while, of course, my favorite performance of the night was Jackson Browne jamming with the remaining members of The Eagles (Jackson Browne is phenomenal, always), I thought these two songs brought the house down.

First, Kendrick Lamar, who I first took notice of at the Grammys two years ago, was blazing during his set (above):

Then, the cast of the Broadway sensation “Hamilton” performed the opening scene of their show live. Getting tickets to this show is only slightly more difficult than a Super Bowl ticket; somehow, someway, I gotta get myself to see this.

**Finally today, this was a very cool “behind the scenes” story I really enjoyed. For the past seven years, Brian Mosteller has been the closest person to President Barack Obama, literally being with him for almost every meeting, speech and plane ride. He’s part body man, part “fixer,” and he basically just makes the President’s life easier (think Gary on “Veep” but nowhere near as nutty).

The Washington Post’s Colby Itkowitz wrote a terrific profile on the anonymous Mosteller. Here’s a quick excerpt; I highly recommend reading the whole story:

Mosteller’s official title is director of Oval Office operations, although a more apt name might be anticipator in chief. When Obama is in Washington, every move the president makes, every person he meets and every meeting he attends has been carefully orchestrated by Mosteller.

He knows where Obama likes his water glass placed on the table at meetings and whom he’d want to sit beside. He knows how he prefers the height of a lectern. He researches a head of state’s favorite drink so that the president can offer it. He readies Obama’s remarks and sets them, open to the first page, wherever the president will be speaking. He tells Obama when a sock is bunched at his ankle or his shirt is wrinkled, before an interview…

Mosteller “knows the president very well. He pays attention to everything,” said Valerie Jarrett, the president’s longtime senior adviser. “The president knows how much Brian cares about him and that it isn’t ‘I care about you from afar,’ it’s ‘I’m going to ensure the nitty-gritty details of your life from large to small are attended to.’ The president trusts him completely.”