Tag Archives: Homeland

Goodbye, “Homeland,” I’m officially done with you. The app that helps you find people to cuddle with. And marriage equality has come so, so far

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I’m out. Done. Finished. See ya.
No longer will I be watching Carrie Matheson on Sunday nights, trying to protect America while acting like a crazy, narcisstic, impossible to root-for CIA agent.
I’m through with Peter Quinn, you lovable, seriously f’ed up in the head dude. No more Saul, no more Lockhart, no more insanely impossible plots.

If you have followed this blog for a while, you know that “Homeland” was once by far my favorite show on TV. The debut season four years ago was as good as any season of any show, ever. I thrilled to every episode, loved the writing, acting and plots, and expected “Homeland” to take its place in the pantheon.

Season 4 started Sunday. And it was crap. Utter, complete, pathetic, unwatchable crap. Never has a show gone downhill this fast, from so high to so low. I was pretty sure after last season’s horrible ending, with Carrie and Brody’s doomed love affair finally ending, and a woman who disobeyed every order she ever got somehow being PROMOTED to a CIA station chief job, that I was totally done with the show.

But I decided to watch the season premiere this week, just for closure and to see if maybe, maybe, the writers and directors had remembered what used to be great about “Homeland,” and get back to that.

But, nope. More insanity and stupidity. (SPOILER ALERTS COMING): 

We get a completely cold, unfeeling, impossible to like Carrie, giving not one shit about her baby daughter she’s abandoned, then trying to drown the child in the bathtub (and riding around with her in the front seat of a car!).
We get more bumbling, stumbling work from the CIA in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and yet more rewards and getting everything she wants for Carrie. (“You just helped get a station chief killed? Sure, you get to take over his job!”)
We get Peter Quinn speaking for ALL of us viewers at one point screaming at Carrie, “It’s not always about you!” We get Saul, always a great character, now reduced to a sidelight.

There is no one to root for on this show, no one to empathize with, except maybe this new Pakistani kid whose family was killed in a drone bombing gone wrong. (I guess we could root for Brody and Carrie’s spawn, but that kid’s going to have an awful rough life with that DNA in her.)

I just hate, hate, hate Carrie so much, and since with Brody dead she’s basically the whole show, that’s a real problem for viewers.

It’s just such a shell of its former self, “Homeland” is. Such a shame.

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**Next up, I thought this was a slightly strange but possibly cool idea for an app: A new Apple app called “Cuddlr” offers users the chance to find someone nearby to cuddle with.

The app’s website said it is based on “the belief that we don’t have enough opportunities for safe, consensual, non-scripted, communicative, fun, silly, serious, spontaneous physical affection carrying no further expectation.”

Essentially, a person who is interested in meeting up with someone on the list sends a cuddle request. The receiver has one hour to respond to the request, and if the receiver decides to accept, the two strangers can meet up for a cuddle.

Sure, you may get a weirdo or two. But who doesn’t want to just hug and spoon on the couch every once in a while? A writer from Yahoo! tried the app out, and wrote a pretty entertaining story about her experience.

 

The app’s website said it is based on “the belief that we don’t have enough opportunities for safe, consensual, non-scripted, communicative, fun, silly, serious, spontaneous physical affection carrying no further expectation.”

Essentially, a person who is interested in meeting up with someone on the list sends a cuddle request. The receiver has one hour to respond to the request, and if the receiver decides to accept, the two strangers can meet up for a cuddle.

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**Finally today, take a look at this map above; all the colored in states now, or soon will, legally allow same-sex couples to marry, following the Supreme Court’s refusing to hear appeals of laws overturning same sex marriage ban.

Look at that map and see that 30 states, 30, are now going to allow loving couples who were once ostracized in America, shamed and told that they were weird and different and weren’t worthy of marriage, join their souls in a loving union.
This has all happened so fast; 10 years ago no one could ever have predicted things would change this fast. But it has, and equality is here, and sometimes I think you need to just stop and look around and realize just how far we’ve come.
It’s a beautiful map, isn’t it?

Why I may be done with “Homeland.” Dogs love sledding; snowmen, not so much. And “Llewyn Davis” a typical Coen flick

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You know how some athletes have one incredible season in their careers, and spend the rest of their time trying to live up to that year, only to fall short?

That’s kind of how I feel about “Homeland,” which was once my favorite show on TV and in two short years has become a show whose season I was glad to see end on Sunday night.

I will continue to argue forever that Season 1 of “Homeland” was among the best seasons of any TV show, ever. The acting was brilliant, the plot exciting, the writing terrific, and the drama and tension of the last few episodes were amazing. I think I said on the blog then that “Homeland” had the potential to be one of the greatest shows of all time.

But like Brady Anderson of the Orioles chasing that 50-homer season, “Homeland” never maintained those heights. Season 2 was pretty good, but then its ludicrous plot twists that were SO far removed from any reality started to kill its buzz.

And then this season, it sank even further. Sadly it seems that with so many plot ideas to choose from, the writers decided that Brody and Carrie’s neverending love was the one to focus on (that, and Dana Brody’s adventures).

(SPOILER ALERT HERE, READ NO FURTHER IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN SUNDAY’S EPISODE) Things got so insanely out of control that to buy into the latest plot, that Saul and the CIA could have ex-Marine and ex-heroin junkie Brody infiltrate the Iran National Guard and kill the top general, you had to pretty much turn off your brain.

When it actually worked (sort of), and Brody just walked out of Akbari’s office Sunday and made it all the way to the front gates before anyone noticed that, um, the General was dead, I just laughed out loud and turned to my wife and said “Even for this show, that’s ridiculous.”

I will say that “Homeland” did finally do the right thing and kill off Brody, and they seem to be setting up for a fresh start next year with Saul out of the CIA, Carrie in Turkey with her new Brody baby love child, and who knows what else.

But I’m honestly not sure I’ll watch Season 4. The creators and writers have taken this show so far off the rails, and there’s so much great TV on right now (like “Masters of Sex,” plus at some point I’m legally required to start watching “Breaking Bad, right?) that I don’t know if “Homeland” is still worth my time.

Maybe I’ll feel differently in nine months or whenever it’s back. But right now, I’m like Saul: Happy to sail off into the sunset.

**And now, three minutes of dogs sledding through the snow. And treating snowmen like they treat fire hydrants (it gets really good around the 2:00 mark)

http://msn.foxsports.com/buzzer/big-buzz/jamaal-charles-goes-off-danielle-ruiz-is-fox-y-121613

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**Finally today, another short movie review from a flick I saw over the weekend. I’m a big Coen Brothers fan, as I’ve said on here before, even when they make inscrutably bad movies (I defy anyone to tell me “A Serious Man” was a good film), they’re always interesting.

“Inside Llewyn Davis” is not a bad movie; it’s pretty good, actually. Not one of their best, but definitely in the upper echelon.

It’s about the New York City folk scene in the early 1960s, before Bob Dylan and Joan Baez made folk music mainstream and popular. Llewyn Davis has nowhere near the talent of Dylan, and the movie basically follows him through a week of his life.

Davis is a pretty unlikable character, like many Coen creations, and he seems to treat everyone he meets badly, from former lover Jane (Carey Mulligan), his older friends the Garfeins (whose cat is basically a co-star of the movie), to Mr. Roland Turner (John Goodman), an old musician who steals the few scenes he’s in.

The movie is really dark, and Davis keeps running into obstacles that block his success, many of his own making.

Like in “O Brother Where Art Thou?” the music in “Llewyn Davis” is the best thing in it; Oscar Issac’s Davis has a beautiful voice, and a lot of the songs have deeper meanings connected to the plot.

So if you’re a Coen fan like me, you’ll like this. If not, eh, steer clear. It’s definitely as weird as their other flicks.

Southern accents are the most attractive? Yeah, I’ll buy that. “Homeland” gets really good again. And Shannon Sharpe speaks truth

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Most surveys I read sound remarkably untrue. I never believe it when I see  things like “38 percent of Americans believe President Obama was born in Kenya,” or “4 out of 5 dentists prefer Trident.” (come on, that 5th dentist hasn’t caved yet? He’s still holding out for a different gum?)”

But I saw this survey on Time.com Monday and 100 percent believe it. The dating site Cupid.com surveyed 2,000 men and women and asked them which American accent from the opposite sex was the most attractive.

And the Southern accent won in a landslide. I completely agree. Having spent eight years of my adult life in the South, I’m here to tell you that every word that comes out of a woman’s mouth with a Southern accent sounds good. I could have a woman from North Carolina telling me to “get the hell off my property before I call the cops” and it would sound sweet to me.

I don’t know what it is, whether it’s the inherent politeness in Southerners, or just the melodic way syllables come out, or what, but I will do just about anything someone asks, or buy anything they’re selling, if they say it with a Southern accent.

What’s most amazing about this survey? That the New York accent came in second. I call a foul on that one; the New York accent is terrible, and harsh-sounding (I think I lost mine when I was in the South, but after two years of living back here in NYC it’s coming back).

The worst accent was voted to be Mid-Atlantic, but my vote goes to (and I’m sorry to the people of this state who I’m about to offend) the Wisconsin accent. I love the people I’ve met from there, but man oh man that nasal-y speech pattern drives me up a wall. I had a female friend in college from Wisconsin and as sweet as she was, I couldn’t stand talking to her for more than five minutes.

Episode 307

**At its best, “Homeland” is bringing us inside the war on terror and giving us nuanced, dramatic looks at how the personalities and competing agendas work, and this week’s episode was fantastic in that regard.
So many great little moments; I loved the scenes with Saul and Javadi, with each man knowing the other so well, and Saul ever-so-delicately playing to Javadi’s ego in “convincing” him that becoming a spy against his own country, Iran, was something he had to do to change the world.
Loved the scene of Quinn, being interrogated by the Washington D.C. homicide detective (and it was so great to see Clark Johnson, aka Gus Haynes from “The Wire” again) about what the CIA has “ever made better.”
Of course watching Saul and Dar Adal make a fool out of Senator Lockhart, their future boss, was hilarious as well.

The best part of this week’s ep? No Brody family hijinks. I’m nervous they’re coming back soon, and very nervous about the Carrie pregnancy bringing Brody back into the show, but for this week, when “Homeland” was totally focused on the terror case, it shined like it did back in Season 1.

**Finally today, I missed this Sunday but several people sent me the video of it Monday; Shannon Sharpe, who unlike his brother is NOT one of the biggest a-holes I’ve ever met (Sterling Sharpe, as I’ve written before, could not have been a bigger schmuck when I interviewed him years ago), had a terrific, heartfelt take on the whole Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin NFL bullying issue playing out right now.

So much better than the usual NFL pregame show schtick, Sharpe spoke from the heart. Let’s hope some NFL players were listening.

“Homeland” veering dangerously close to a soap opera. Colbert spoofs Fox News beautifully. And a father won’t let his son play team sports

Episode 306

My apologies on not writing about “Homeland” last week; honestly I didn’t see the episode until Thursday and figured I’d waited too long to write about it.

Which is too bad, because I loved (most of) last week’s episode, as Saul and Carrie began to set a trap for Iranian evil-doer Javadi, and mercifully we got an end to Dana Brody’s wild and crazy car trip across the country with scary boyfriend Leo.

This week’s episode (SPOILER ALERT, STOP HERE AND GO TO THE VIDEO IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN IT YET), though, scared me. And I don’t mean scared as in, “when Javadi killed his ex-wife by stabbing her in the neck with a bottle 10 times” kind of scared.

I mean, this whole Carrie pregnancy thing is veering awfully close to soap opera land. It’s so easy to see where the writers can take this: The baby is Brody’s, and Carrie ends up in Venezuela, finds Brody, and their whole relationship goes back into play, and cue the soft music, and … ugh. “Homeland” is SO much better than that, having Carrie and Brody as a modern-day Romeo and Juliet or some crap like that. (Plus, when the hell did Carrie have time to take all those pregnancy tests? She’s been in the hospital for a long time, no?)

Because while the show isn’t anywhere close to what it was in Season 1, it’s still really strong. The Saul-Javadi dynamic is fascinating, I still have no idea what Peter Quinn is really up to, and when it focuses on terrorism-related storylines, “Homeland” is at its best.

So please, Alex Gansa and other “Homeland” writers, don’t turn this show into “Days of Our Lives.” There’s too much other good stuff in this world you’ve created.

Couple other quick “Homeland” thoughts:
— Let’s hope Dana Brody running away from home means we won’t have to watch the Brody family dynamics for a while. I’m sick of them and they add nothing much to the show.
— How great was the scene when Carrie turned the tables on Javadi while he was interrogating her? The way his face changes, from being in total control to suddenly being fearful, was perfect.
— Finally, I care not at all about Saul’s wife maybe having an affair. I hope they don’t make that a big part of the show going forward.

**Next up today, Stephen Colbert and his writing staff have a wicked sense of humor, of course. So when they found out that Fox News paid staffers to create and prop up fake Twitter accounts to combat any negative comments about the “Fair and Balanced” (ha!) network, he and his evil geniuses went to work.

They decided to create a Twitter account called #RealHumanPraise and, well, just watch what they did. Brilliant.

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**Finally, my friend Jeff Pearlman has a 7-year-old son who’s just getting into sports, so naturally the temptation is to have the lad join all kinds of different youth teams.

But Jeff isn’t letting his boy do that, thanks to the negative and sometimes spirit-crushing experiences that those teams can cause kids.  I’m pretty divided on this; when I was a kid I had some awful coaches who made me, and other players who weren’t that skilled, feel like garbage.
But in playing and watching team sports my whole life, I’ve also seen how wonderful they can be for some kids’ self-confidence, and how sportsmanship, fair play and teamwork are life lessons they’ll take with them forever.

Anyway, Jeff wrote a piece on this for the Wall Street Journal Tuesday, and his take on this is a strong and well-argued one. I highly recommend it.

My 20-year high school reunion: Better than expected. “Homeland” thoughts. And a very cool moonwalk video

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Like 90 percent of the people I’ve met in my adult life, I didn’t particularly enjoy high school.
I wasn’t a jock (being on the tennis team doesn’t really qualify), I wasn’t a cheerleader, and I was much closer to being classified as a “nerd” than anything else.

Oh, I had plenty of friends in high school and had lots of good times, but there were also quite a few bullies who picked on me and made my life miserable, and quite a few girls who wouldn’t give a short, bushy-haired, glasses-wearing kid the time of day, and all the typical stuff 90 percent of us go through in high school.

So when the calls went out a decade ago that Commack High School Class of ’93 was having a 10-year reunion, I ignored them. I wasn’t really interested in seeing those people again; the ones who I wanted to keep in touch with, I already was. And I don’t know, I just felt like 10 years was … too soon.

This year was different. Maybe I’m more settled in my life now, maybe 20 years is enough distance that I didn’t care how I appeared to those people.

Anyway, I actively sought out information about our 20th reunion, and was thrilled to find out a classmate named Stacey Taylor (who had always been nice to me) was organizing it.  As it turned out, despite her herculean efforts, we only got about 60 of the 420 graduating seniors from ’93 to attend Saturday night’s party on Long Island.

I was excited and actually a little nervous Saturday before the party. But once inside, I had a fantastic time. It was such a strange vibe, hugging and high-fiving people you hadn’t seen since before the Internet became popular.

It also felt a little like a speed-dating event, because you were thrilled to talk to Person X for 5-10 minutes, find out what’s going on in their life, but after that you wanted to find someone else you hadn’t seen in 20 years, and talk to them. So I had a ton of short conversations.

Many of the attendees had really nice things to say to me, and said some really sweet things to my wife (who, bless her heart, came with me and had a good time), which they didn’t have to do.
A few of my old “bullies” were there, but I mostly ignored them, and they, me.
I talked to quite a few of the pretty girls who I was scared of in 1993, so that was fun (the women in our class aged MUCH better than the men, let me tell you.)

And basically, I learned that it’s OK to embrace a time in your life that wasn’t so wonderful, because all of our experiences and tribulations make us who we are. If I hadn’t gone through what I did in high school, maybe I wouldn’t be who I am today.

I am grateful that I had the chance to go back in time, for one night. I highly recommend it to all of you.

**You might remember the Ohio State marching band doing an awesome tribute to video games last year at halftime of a football game; it’s racked up 15 million YouTube views.

Last weekend the Buckeyes took it to another level, doing this fantastic tribute to Michael Jackson, including, starting at the 4:15 mark, an entire band “moonwalk.”

So, so cool.

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**And finally, “Homeland.” Wow. Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow. (MAJOR SPOILER ALERT HERE. SERIOUSLY, YOU WANT TO STOP READING IF YOU DIDN’T SEE SUNDAY’S EPISODE).

OK, everyone still with us? Man, that was some sensational episode, capped off by the audience being clued in that Saul and Carrie have been in cahoots for quite a while, pretending to be enemies as Carrie spiraled downward in the psych ward, apparently angry at all her old CIA friends, feeling abandoned, alone, and totally crazy.
And just when it looks like she’s got nowhere else to turn, and lawyer-man Bennett gives her every reason in the world why she should cooperate with him and his client, the Iranian “banker,” we get the reveal that it’s all been a set-up.

I have to say, I’ve read some online criticisms of the episode and people I normally agree with, like HitFix’s Alan Sepinwall, seem to have hated the plot twist.
I loved it. It gets Carrie and Saul back on the same team and working together, at some point going to Caracas and finding Brody there, we feel better about Saul that he wasn’t totally betraying a lifetime of friendship with Carrie, and we get to see what I think is a realistic look at Carrie, off her meds and suffering, which even with being in on the plot twist, still had to take a huge toll on her.

I also don’t hate the Dana storyline as much as everyone else seems to; she’s a great actress and yeah maybe they spent too much time on her, but I’m still interested in her character (her mother still bores the hell out of me.)

I feel like “Homeland” is back to being great, consistently; three out of four episodes this season have been terrific. Can’t wait till next Sunday night.

“Homeland” returns with a solid reset. A beautiful essay on tennis as a metaphor for marriage. And a way-cool photo montage of NYC at night

Episode 301

Too depressed about the ridiculous government shutdown to rant and rave about it tonight. I’m just so disgusted by the Tea Party and their desire to burn down the village, rather than try to save it. Probably will be ranting about it here tomorrow. For tonight, I’d rather spend a few minutes in a fictional Washington, D.C., with Carrie, Saul and Brody…

I was one of the many people who was down on “Homeland” toward the end of last season. It had gotten too ridiculous, too soap opera-ish, and tried to cram way too much into each episode.
Then, the Season 2 finale was breathtakingly awesome, and all seemed right with the show again.
Happily, Sunday night’s season 3 opener was very good as well (SPOILER ALERT: STOP HERE IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN IT YET).
Picking up where Season 2 left off, with the huge explosion at the CIA building, Brody on the run somewhere, and Carrie and Saul left to pick up the pieces, we got a normal (for this show, anyway), well-written episode.
Couple questions the first show set up: What will happen to the Carrie-Saul relationship, now that Saul basically outed her affair with Brody to Congress? (well, someone else on the inside (Quinn, maybe?) outed it to the Washington Post first, but still.)
Will Dana Brody try to kill herself again? (And nice job by her to get into a relationship while in counseling, that’s always a good move). Is Saul’s new right-hand man, Dar Adal, going to become his frenemy, or is he legitimately interested in doing evil without going too far around the law? And most excitingly, is Carrie really going to try to convince the whole world that Brody isn’t a terrorist who blew up the CIA building?

I think the show works best when Carrie is off her meds, so from that standpoint, this looks like a great season. I have no idea what Quinn’s role will be, nor if Carrie decides she needs to go “rogue” again and starts working against Saul and the remaining CIA peeps.

And we saw from the coming attractions that Brody will be seen again, but it doesn’t look good for him.

So happy to have “Homeland” back. Especially now, this dysfunctional government is a lot more fun to watch than our real one.

AnnLeary

**I’m a huge fan of the writing and performing of Denis Leary; both in stand-up comedy and in his all-time fabulous drama “Rescue Me,” Leary is brilliant, hilarious, poignant and able to pull on any emotion in you that he wants to.

Turns out, his wife is a pretty fabulous writer, too. Ann Leary has written several novels that have become best-sellers, and on Sunday she wrote a beautiful essay in the New York Times about her marriage to Denis, the sport of tennis, and how two people brought their relationship back from the brink, thanks to a little help from the sport me and Roger Federer love so much.
This is definitely worth a few minutes of your time, whether you’re married or not. It’s eloquent and beautifully done.

**Finally, this is pretty awesome and hypnotic: A man took 41 photographs of New York City’s streets between 3 a.m. and 7 a.m. one day using a Nokia Lumia 1020 camera, then strung them together to make this cool video.

Every once in a while I see something like this and think: Thirty years ago, most of us were using Polaroids and shaking our pictures to get them to develop.

The Jets remember that they stink, and other NFL thoughts. An evil woman at a baseball game steals a ball. And Lane Kiffin, good riddance

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*”Homeland” is back! Very pumped up that my favorite show, by far, currently on TV has returned for the fall season. I watched the season premiere last night, but just like I did last season, I will do my weekly “Homeland” analysis/thoughts and stuff on Tuesdays, to give my fellow show fanatics a chance to watch it without risk of spoilers. All I’ll say today is that Sunday night’s episode was very, very interesting with many unexpected twists…

Yeah, so this is what life is like when your football team has a rookie quarterback.
One week, he plays awesome, and you think “Finally, a franchise signal-caller to build around.”

Then the next week he looks like a JV quarterback for a bad high school program, and you wonder if this guy really is the answer, or just another in a long line of failures.

That’s what the last two weeks were like for the Jets and Geno Smith. A week after playing pretty terrific against Buffalo, he was beyond awful against the Titans Sunday.
The Jets got walloped, 38-13, and it was mostly Geno’s fault. He committed four turnovers, should’ve gotten sacked for a safety, and just made stupid mistake after stupid mistake (the “switching hands with the ball behind your back while getting sacked” is a move not even Penn and Teller would try).
Smith’s teammates were of little help; the offensive line caved in like a terrified witness in a Mafia trial, the defense didn’t do much pressuring of Tennessee’s QB, Jake Locker, and the special teams weren’t any good.
But mostly, this loss is on Geno. Just one you’ve got to suck up and attribute to growing pains.

Couple quick-hit NFL thoughts from Sunday:
— How ’bout those Cleveland Browns? Two straight wins since trading their best player, including an impressive job in beating Cincinnati on Sunday. Good for them.
— Stick a fork in the Giants. Another miserable offensive performance by Eli Manning and friends.
— Seattle really stole one in Houston, coming back from 20-6 down to win in OT. Seahawks might be the best team in the NFL.
— Finally, is there a more exciting team to watch than Detroit? They always score a bunch of points, and always give up a bunch. They give you more thrills, both ways, than anybody else. Love watching the Lions. And they might even be good this year!

**Sometimes the headline of a YouTube video really does tell the whole story. The headline here: “Evil Woman Steals Ball from Little Girl.”

And you have to love the yutz who high-fives her for her “accomplishment” right after she does it. Awful.

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**So Lane Kiffin, a scumbag who stands out as a scumbag even among the moral morass that is big-time college football coaching, was fired by USC Saturday night, after they got beat by Arizona State.

Kiffin, if you know him at all, is known for being the most obnoxious, self-serving, pompous coach in all of the land. He burned all kinds of bridges in Oakland as coach of the Raiders, he cheated and angered everyone in the state of Tennessee while head coach at UT, and then has acted like himself again at USC, alienating the media, fans and players alike.

But even when you’re talking about Kiffin, who deserves everything bad that happens to him, how he was fired was pretty cruel.
The USC athletics director pulled him off the team bus as it was headed back from airport in L.A., and fired him. Then the AD, Pat Haden, wouldn’t let Kiffin back on the bus back to campus, telling the bus to go on without Kiffin.

That’s cold. Well-deserved, but cold.

“Homeland” totally redeems itself with an awesome finale. NBA players sing the dreidel song. And the Jets’ misery continues

Episode 212

“Homeland,” “Homeland,” “Homeland.”

Home-freaking-land. All is forgiven. After a few episodes where I finally cracked, and started to admit what others had been saying, that the show was veering wildly off-course and slipping away, it totally redeemed itself Sunday night.

Everything felt pitch-perfect: Brody didn’t die (I thought for sure they would kill him, but Quinn’s reasons for not doing it made perfect sense). Broday may or may not still be a terrorist (I’m thinking not). Carrie decided to run off with Brody, choosing his love over her career.  Then a bomb exploded under his car, everyone from the CIA is dead, and Carrie and old man Saul are the only ones left.

Then an old video when Brody really was a terrorist gets released, and suddenly Carrie realized she can’t possibly go off with Brody.

And now the show is completely re-set for Season 3. We’ve got Brody, on the run in Canada, ironic that he’s actually innocent of this attack, but everyone thinks he’s done it. We’ve got Brody’s family, hopefully out of the show now. And we’ve got Carrie and Saul, looking for a new terrorist threat and piecing their world back together, while rogue CIA assassin Quinn lurks somewhere.

I was on the edge of my seat on the couch all hour. What a fantastic way to end the season.
Gotta wait nine more months for another new “Homeland,” and that’s just way too long.

Again, if you haven’t watched this show yet, you’re missing one of the best TV shows of all time.

**Well this is pretty entertaining. I know Hanukkah ended, but I saw this the other day and laughed, and then forgot about it. And with Jeremy Lin returning to MSG and kicking the Knicks’ butt Monday night (the Nets fan in me enjoyed that, and I’m headed to my first Nets game in Brooklyn tonight, report to follow in Wednesday’s blog), figured I could still post this.

It’s the decidedly non-Jewish Houston Rockets singing the “Dreidel” song…

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**And finally, because I wasted three perfectly good hours of my life watching Monday’s train-wreck of a Jets-Titans game, a few thoughts on my disastrous boys in green and white:

— This Jets team might be the most boring they’ve had since the 1-15 team. And even that team was exciting because you never knew what horribly new way to lose they’d invent next.
— I can’t watch Mark Sanchez play another game at quarterback. I just can’t. Four years in and he’s still as bad as he was as a rookie. For the love of God, they MUST have a new QB next year.

— The lack of speed and skill on the offense is pretty amazing. This is a terrible Tennessee team, with the worst defense in the league, and the Jets couldn’t do bubkis with them.
— Jon Gruden is an affront to the ears. Not just mine; all ears, everywhere in the sound of his voice.

— Shocking to see the Jets actually give Tim Tebow a whole series at QB. Of course, when he didn’t immediately lead them to a TD, he was banished.

— I’m very happy that because I’ll be on vacation and out of the country for the last two Jets games this season, that Monday night was my last day of misery with them for a while. Such a nice way to end the season.

Same-sex marriage in Washington: A photo says it all. “Homeland” nears the finish with no logic in sight. And a little kid hams it up with cheerleaders

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It’s not remarkable anymore, states allowing same-sex marriage. It’s wonderful, isn’t it, that it’s becoming less and less of a big deal? Future generations will look back and wonder exactly what was so scary and threatening about two people who love each other getting married.

The state of Washington held its first same-sex marriages on Sunday, when the state’s new law became official. Take a look at that terrific photo from the front page of the Seattle Times, and this photo here, and tell me what anyone could possibly object to.

Little by little, the stigma has fallen away. And every once in a while, it’s nice to see progress in the smiling faces of humans who love each other, like the people above.

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**OK, I admit it. After weeks and weeks of pooh-poohing all those who say “Homeland” has taken plausibility and reality and stretched all to hell, and that it’s starting to affect their enjoyment of the show, I’m starting to change my mind.
Sunday’s episode was ridiculous and awesome all at once, but for once for me, the ridiculousness quotient was higher. You’re going to ask me to believe that afterCarrie escapes from Abu Nasir’s clutches, no one at the CIA de-briefs or asks her questions about that, she then wanders back into the abandoned warehouse looking for our favorite terrorist, and where dozens of SWAT team members have failed, she figures out where Nasir is hiding?

Then, after Nasir kills a SWAT team guy (who went in alone, which is also something that would never happen in real life), he doesn’t kill Carrie, and with her screaming and yelling it still takes like five minutes for anyone else to show up? OK, fine.

But in addition to all that, we’re now supposed to believe that Brody’s a good guy, and he and Carrie are truly in love and belong together? Nope.

It sounds crazy, but Saul’s scenes were the best of this last episode. Man, Mandy Patinkin is some kind of great actor. He and Estes are terrific foils.

I have no idea what’ll happen in the season finale; I would love it as a fan of the show if the writers had the cojones to actually kill Brody. I know it might damage the show, and Damien Lewis is so good in his role, but I feel like for the show to have credibility moving forward, Brody must die.

So that’s what I hope for. And I hope the finale doesn’t have me yelling at the TV angrily, like Sunday’s episode did.

**Finally today, you’ve gotta love a kid who gets his time in the spotlight and totally lives it up.
If you had told me when I was this kid’s age that I’d get to dance on an NFL field at halftime in front of a dozen gorgeous Tampa Bay Bucs cheerleaders, I would’ve said you could kill me right afterwards, because life wouldn’t get any better.
Seriously, look how much fun this kid is having! Very jealous of him.

“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

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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.

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**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.