Tag Archives: James Franco

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.

freaksandgeeks

**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.

Oscar thoughts. Two baseball stories to get you thinkin’ spring. And a “Wonder Years” moment.

Man, that was not a good Oscars telecast.
Not in the least. Not in any way, shape or form. I hate to pile on, but really, it wasn’t good. James Franco, great actor. Anne Hathaway, good actress, and she was all kinds of enthusiastic, but she and Franco were totally not up for the job of hosting the Academy Awards.
I said it on Twitter and I’ll say it again: I don’t think James Franco and Anne Hathaway are famous enough to host the Oscars. They’re nice little movie stars, sure, but the Oscars demands bigger.
Besides the hosts being bad, there were a lot of other good stuff I noticed:

**Loved the few minutes we got of Billy Crystal. Made me wish he was the host again. Like, right then and there.
**Great to see Melissa Leo win, then drop an F-bomb during her speech. Ah, the joy of 7-second delay.
**I thought Jennifer Hudson, Marisa Tomei, and Helena Bonham Carter looked the most amazing.
**I loved the ending, maybe the best part of the show, with the cute fifth-graders singing on stage. Staten Island, representing.
** Thought the speeches from “The King’s Speech” guy and from Natalie Portman were the best and most heartfelt.
**SO happy to see one of my writing gods, Aaron Sorkin, win for “The Social Network.” He is eleven kinds of brilliant.
**Why the hell did Lena Horne get to bat last in the death montage, and not Dennis Hopper? Bad job, Academy.
**Finally, I remain angry that “True Grit,” the best movie of the year, got bubkes. But I’ll get over it.

**A brief interlude from “The Wonder Years.” Caught the end of this episode Sunday night after the Oscars. One of the best endings in the history of a show that gave us so, so many great moments:

**Spring training has kicked off in the past week in Florida and Arizona; it used to get me all pumped up. Now, not so much. But two very cool baseball-related stories I read/heard this week.
First, the death of Ernie Tyler brought a couple of wonderful tributes. Who’s Ernie Tyler? One of the many behind the scenes people who make baseball run; he was the attendant for the umpires for the Baltimore Orioles for 3,769 consecutive home games, from 1960-2007.  His streak only ended when Cal Ripken, that other ironman, asked him to be present at Cal’s Hall of Fame induction.
Sounds like, from this obit and this one, that Ernie was a beautiful man.

**Then there was this delightful story, heard on NPR’s “Only a Game,” about Justine Siegal, the first woman to ever throw batting practice to major league hitters. One more tiny barrier falls; why shouldn’t women who are good enough be allowed to pitch to men, even if it’s only spring training?
Siegal is actually quite an advocate for women in baseball; check out her “Only A Game” interview here:

Thirty-five, with a “Freaks and Geeks” present. And a hilarious book of kids’ letters from camp

Turned 35 on Tuesday. Didn’t sweat this birthday as much as some others. Sure, I felt sad a little that I’m getting older, and that I’m no longer in the coveted advertisers’ 18-34 demographic, and I’m now just as close to 40 as I am to 30 (and as you read this, I’m one day closer!).

My day was made by many things, including so many warm wishes from friends and family (I swear, every birthday turns into a “This is Your Life” it seems; people from different stops along the journey check in, and it’s wonderful), a terrific dinner with my wife, and some great presents.

My favorite gift? A wonderful one from my wife. She knows what a huge fan I was of the late, great television show “Freaks and Geeks.” And so I got the “Freaks and Geeks” ultimate DVD collection, with all 18 episodes on tape, plus director’s commentaries and all kinds of cool other stuff.

If you’ve never seen “Freaks and Geeks,” I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s about high school kids in 1980, and it’s by far the most realistic show about high school I’ve ever seen. So many of the kids on F&G have become stars, like Linda Cardellini (she was on “ER”), Jason Segel (in movies and “How I Met Your Mother”), Seth Rogen (“Knocked Up” and a bunch of other movies”) and James Franco (“Spiderman” and many others.)

The writing is so dead-on perfect, the acting is great, and the realism of the show drips through in every scene.

Highly recommend checking it out on Netflix or whereever you can find it.

**Sometimes you see a new book come out and the idea is so perfect, you’re like “Why hasn’t anyone thought of that before?”

Heard about Diane Falanga’s new book on “CBS Sunday Morning” this week. It’s called “P.S. I Hate it Here: Kids’ Letters from Camp.” She’s gathered hundreds of real letters from people across the country, all telling about the horrible and wonderful adventures at camp.

There are great ones in here, with nuggets like “the rash on my penis (spelled “P-Nus” in the book) has gone away, so I can run now.,” and “Kenny has a new rifle. He let me hold it.”

My favorite letter had this P.S.:”Nick, the riflery teacher from last year, got fired for inhaling crack and camp. He also went to jail.”

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