Tag Archives: Jared Leto

An Iowa caucus post-mortem: When a tie is really a win. An awesome 360-degree view of Alaska. And the greedy NFL vs. the guy who owns the only Super Bowl I tape

Bernie_Sanders_by_Gage_Skidmore

We political junkies were looking pretty bleary-eyed Tuesday, as the Iowa caucuses went deep into the night before anyone knew who had won.

When it comes to the Democratic primary, I have a quote and a video to sum up the night:

First, a quote from that noted political authority, Gloria Clemente, from the 1992 movie “White Men Can’t Jump.”

Sometimes when you win, you really lose, and sometimes when you lose, you really win, and sometimes when you win or lose, you actually tie, and sometimes when you tie, you actually win or lose. Winning or losing is all one organic mechanism, from which one extracts what one needs.

Thanks, Gloria. I think that quote perfectly sums up the night for Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.  When all was counted, tallied, and coin-flipped (more on that in a minute), Bernie and Hillary were just about tied, 49.8 percent to 49.6 percent. That .2 difference is so negligible that it was hilarious the media and Mrs. Clinton declared Tuesday she had “won” Iowa.

Yes, of course I’m biased here as an avowed Bernie backer, but this was a big win for Bernie, just to tie Hillary. I love the media spin Tuesday that the tie helps Hillary more because Bernie had the “demographics” in his favor in Iowa. Yeah, because the overwhelming frontrunner for the last two years doesn’t win the first contest, it’s somehow disappointing for the other guy.

Puh-leeze. This was absolutely a draw, and when you’re the huge underdog like Bernie is, a draw is great.

This is officially a real contest, now. Thank heavens. Which leads me to my other quote that sums up Monday night’s results:

Thanks, Apollo and his trainer (Duke, was his name, right?).  Now Bernie has to win New Hampshire by at least 8-10 points, and then keep it close in Nevada, within a few points. And then, South Carolina will be the real big test of his candidacy.

Couple quick thoughts from the batshit-crazy side of the caucuses:

— Marco Rubio was the happiest 3rd-place finisher you’ve ever seen in your life. Man was he excited. Truth is, though, this was huge for him. As Trump slowly starts to fade, it’ll be Rubio vs. Cruz, and Cruz has the support of exactly zero establishment political leaders.

— Speaking of Mr. Gasbag, you gotta hand it to Donald; after guaranteeing he’d win and blow everyone away in Iowa, he comes out for his concession with the theme of “Hey, there were 17 candidates when I joined the race, they said I had no chance, and now I finished second in Iowa, whoo-hoo!”

My prediction? Now that he’s lost the first contest, the media narrative will swing, GOP primary voters will start to find a new candidate, and in a few months Donald Trump will be back on TV, out of the race, where he belongs.

— Ted Cruz was Bible-thumping so much at his victory speech I half-expected him to shout “And tonight I’m announcing God will be my vice-presidential pick!”

— Cool fact for my fellow Members of the Tribe: Bernie is first Jewish presidential candidate to win delegates! We’re taking over, baby!

**Next up, the always-interesting Jared Leto partnered with the Sierra Club a few months back to take a 360-degree look at the glaciers melting in Alaska. It’s fascinating as a piece of art, but also scary as hell.

But yeah, climate change is a hoax and all the scientists are wrong.

SuperBowlI

**Finally today, the Super Bowl is this week, so it seems as good a time as any to remind you that the National Football League is the greediest, most arrogant sports company in the world.  

Today’s proof comes from a fascinating story in the New York Times from Richard Sandomir. He found the man who owns the only known surviving copy of Super Bowl I, Troy Haupt.

Haupt has been trying for years to sell the tape back to the NFL, who made him a ridiculously low-ball offer, and the NFL is just … just read the story. It’s really well-done, and you’ll get a small glimpse at how awful a corporation the NFL really is.
Greed, greed, greed.

A predictable, but pretty entertaining, night at the Oscars

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Remember 10 years ago or so, when every Oscars telecast dragged on forever, and you tried hard not to fall asleep?

Yeah, that’s how Sunday night was sometimes. After years of the Academy Awards getting crisper and more time-conscious, Sunday’s Oscars were long. Really, really long.
Like, they made “Wolf of Wall Street” seem like a quick documentary short.

Still, they were much better than last year’s, I thought. Some scattered thoughts from my brain, which Sunday night was buried under a giant wig of Greg Brady Johnny Bravo hair (we went to an Oscars theme party, where we all had to dress up in 1970s garb. My first time in bell bottoms was fun!)

Please read to the end, since my much-funnier and savvier friend Diana D’abruzzo, who did my Oscars blog last year, checks in with her thoughts;

—  Ellen DeGeneres was pretty solid as host. The monologue was fairly tame and really safe, which is OK, and some of her bits were really funny. I thought the pizza delivery thing was hilarious, though the Meryl Streep selfie Twitter thing felt forced and silly. Best joke, I thought, was when she said “there are 2 options tonight: Either “12 Years a Slave wins Best Picture,” or you’re all racists.”

—  The big awards were predictable, but that’s not always a bad thing. Thrilled to see Jared Leto win, his speech was terrific. Happy for Matthew McConaughey, who was excellent in “Dallas Buyers Club” but his speech was pompous, self-important, and remarkably free of any mention of Ron Woodruff, the real-life character and AIDS activist hero who he played.

— With all the awards “Gravity” was winning, I was really fearing it would win “Best Picture.” But happily, “12 Years a Slave,” the most important and best film I saw last year, grabbed the win. That film should be showed in schools all over America as part of history class.

— LOVED Lupita Nyong’o’s speech, so beautiful and touching. Newcomers always have the most emotional speeches, it seems.

— Here’s how to cut a half-hour out of the show: Too many montages about things that have nothing to do with that night’s show. Heroes? Who cares! Although it was good that no one’s speech really got cut off too badly.

— “American Hustle” deserved better than getting shut out. And Amy Adams, five times a nominee, never a winner: Your day will come. You are way too talented to never win an Oscar.

— Hey John Travolta, her name is Idina Menzel. She’s pretty famous.  And has an awesome voice. Learn to pronounce it.

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— Lot of sparkly dresses this year, more than usual. It was also, according to a female guest at the party I was at, “the year of the side-boob.” Which was fine with me.
I thought Charlize Theron and Kate Hudson looked particularly stunning.

— I always feel bad when two people win and one of them does all the talking, and the other one only gets five seconds of mic time at the end.

— So pleasantly surprised to see Spike Jonze win for his screenplay for “Her,” and for “20 Feet From Stardom” to win for best doc. If you don’t know much about the film, I reviewed it after seeing it here.

–The death montage was, as usual, terrific, but no Dennis Farina mention? He was Jimmy Serrano in “Midnight Run” for God’s sakes! Big omission there.

— Cate Blanchett’s speech just kept going and going and going. Notice how mentioning Woody Allen’s name brought tepid applause.

— Anne Hathaway’s dress blinded at least half the audience. Seriously, there just may be a thing as TOO sparkly.

— I hope the trend of celebrities bringing their Moms to the Oscars continues. Jared Leto’s mother beamed while her son talked about her influence. Very, very cool.

And now, some thoughts from my friend Diana on the show; she kept a “running diary” of sorts:

— Not sure if Amy Adams was in on that “you went to college, right?” joke, but if she wasn’t, damn. And if she was, I really wish we could make these moments spontaneous and not planned! Of course, spontaneous and Hollywood probably don’t go together well.
–The only thing better than Pharrell dancing with Lupita was Pharrell dancing with Meryl.
— Oh what a cute couple: Joseph Gordon Levitt and Emma Watson! (Postscript: From what I’ve heard, Twitter was abuzz with folks wanting them to be a real couple.)
— Was Sandra Bullock crying for the visual effects award?
— Why is Zac Efron there? (A friend on Facebook answered: Good question. Guess he’s got to be somewhere!)

— I’ve always been “meh” about Brad Pitt. But I am so grateful for him getting “12 Years a Slave” made.

— OK, so pink is a BIG color tonight, but I don’t love many of the dresses. But Penelope Cruz — hers is great. That hint of black in the belt makes it perfect.

“Dallas Buyers Club” a terrific look at AIDS in the 1980s. Padding in schools finally challenged by a principal. And a hilarious play-by-play of a car accident.

DALLAS-BUYERS-CLUB

I saw that rarest of media creations over the weekend, something more rare than an 85-degree day in New York City in January.
More rare than a Cleveland Browns Super Bowl win.
More rare than Alec Baldwin acting like a sane human being when there’s a photographer around.

Last weekend I saw a good Matthew McConaughey movie.

Yep, the male Ken doll with the perfect teeth, great body and great hair has spent most of his career making one crappy film after another in my opinion, but looks like he’s finally got a winner and shown off his acting chops.

“Dallas Buyers Club” is a terrific, a real absorbing, brilliantly-acted and so well-written story of the life of Ron Woodroff, a Texas electrician who in 1985 was diagnosed with AIDS. A more unlikely AIDS champion you could not find, Woodruff manages to fight the FDA on their delay of life-saving AIDS drugs by going into business importing “alternative” medicines that end up doing a whole world of good for thousands of people.

McConaughey is really terrific as Woodroff, showing a man who changes from being only out for himself (his behavior the first 30 minutes of the flick is truly abhorrent) to making a ton of money while actually doing good. The FDA is an enormous government entity tangled in red tape, and especially when it came to the HIV virus moved incredibly slowly.

Jared Leto is Oscar-worthy as Woodroff’s partner in crime, a transsexual AIDS patient who initially is just a pawn in Woodroff’s game, but becomes much more. Jennifer Garner, usually pretty “blah” in movies, is good here, and the script is truly wonderful; you get to know these characters as human beings caught in a terrible situation, not knowing if they’re going to live or die.

The awful epidemic of AIDS in the ’80s has spawned a ton of great movies, plays and TV shows, like “The Normal Heart” and the great documentary “How To Survive a Plague.

“Dallas Buyers Club” deserves to be a part of that rich history. And hey, if Matthew McConaughey can make a great movie, there must be icicles forming in hell as we speak.

**Next up, this is another one of these videos that may or may not be fake, but it’s so funny I don’t care. A Dallas man was leaving a voicemail for his boss telling him he’d be late to work when he witnesses an accident between one man and a car-ful of old ladies. Listen to his hilarious play-by-play (it gets good about 30 seconds in); I think this proves that hearing someone laugh uncontrollably while describing it makes anything three times funnier.

grade inflation

**Finally today, this story made me say “Hallelujah!”

I’ve long believed that one of the problems in our society today is the “over-congratulating” of young people, giving everyone a trophy and a pat on the back for everything, and the syndrome is at its worst in some schools as well.

I may have told this story here before, but as a student teacher two years ago I was so dismayed when, after grading several students fairly (and poorly) for shoddy work on their essays, I was told by my mentor teacher that I “had to change their grades; you can’t give them scores that low.”

It’s insulting and wrong when we continue to publicize and highlight and praise everyone, because it takes away from the kids who truly excel.

Anyway, I’m rambling, but this story is a great example of some pushback. A mother in Florida was confused when her 7th-grade son brought home a report card telling him he made the honor roll, when he had a D and a C on it.

The mom brought it to the school principal’s attention, and Kim Anderson of Pasco Middle School agreed wholeheartedly, acknowledging that having 50 percent of her students make the honor roll isn’t exactly right.

The kid’s mom, Beth Tillack, said it perfectly:

“The bottom line is there’s nothing honorable about making a D,” said Tillack. “I was not happy, because how can I get my child to study for a test when he thinks he’s done enough?”

A-freaking-men!