Tag Archives: Jennifer Hudson

Good News Friday: A cure for AIDS may have been found, and it’s miraculous. Tom Jones and Jennifer Hudson make music magic together. And Elton John teams up with the man playing him in an upcoming biopic

Happy Friday, my dear readers. Wow there was a lot of bad celebrity news this week, from Alex Trebek, the beloved “Jeopardy” host, announcing he has Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, to baseball legend Tom Seaver telling the world he’s suffering from dementia and will no longer appear in public, to the Kardashians still being famous for some reason (OK, that last one was a joke, as are they.)

But it’s Friday and we’re here for all the Good News this week, and before I get to two amazing musical performances that made me smile, a major health breakthrough this week on a disease that terrified so many of us for so long: HIV/AIDS.

If you missed the news, for just the second time since the global epidemic began, a patient appears to have been cured of infection with H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS.

According to this N.Y. Times story, “the news comes nearly 12 years to the day after the first patient known to be cured, a feat that researchers have long tried, and failed, to duplicate. The surprise success now confirms that a cure for H.I.V. infection is possible, if difficult, researchers said.

The investigators are to publish their report on Tuesday in the journal Nature and to present some of the details at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Seattle.

Publicly, the scientists are describing the case as a long-term remission. In interviews, most experts are calling it a cure, with the caveat that it is hard to know how to define the word when there are only two known instances.”

I know, I know, it’s only been two patients, and “cured” is a dangerous word for any disease. The cure involved a bone-marrow transplant, which is dangerous sometimes, and expensive, always.

But still… think about where we were with AIDS just 30 years ago, in 1989. There was so much hysteria, and paranoia, about how one acquired AIDS, and what happens if you got it, and how it was pretty much a death sentence for everyone.
And then slowly, treatment drugs got better and better, we learned more about the disease and the paranoia and intolerance and hatred toward those who were diagnosed with it began to fade.

And now, just a few decades later, maybe, there’s a cure. Science gives me hope for the future, in so many areas.

**Next up today, the first of two musical collaborations that made me beam with joy this week. First, from the U.K. version of “The Voice,” two amazing voices teamed up to sing “It’s a Man’s World.” The great Tom Jones, age 78, and Jennifer Hudson, age 37, with a couple of minutes of just pure beauty.

He’s 78 and still sounds that good!

**And finally, you may have heard that there’s a movie in the works about the legendary Elton John, and the actor playing him, Taron Egerton, has gone all-in in trying to be like Sir Elton.

Including sounding like him. Check out this clip of Elton and Taron singing “Tiny Dancer,” and be amazed like I was at how much the actor sounds like Elton.
Yeah I am totally seeing this movie.

A truly bizarre and wonderful Super Bowl ends with Ravens on top. And the ridiculous product of the new year: The WaxVac!

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Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow.
That was one hell of a Super Bowl. We are so spoiled right now; just about every Super Bowl in the last 10 years has been great, and this one … man, I don’t even know where to start.

The Ravens dominate, go up 28-6. Then the power, inexplicably, goes out at the SuperDome in New Orleans. Thirty-five minute delay. Then the 49ers roar back into the game, and the Baltimore D looks totally gassed, and Niners QB Colin Kaepernick looks like he’s writing the greatest comeback story in Super Bowl history.

Then the Ravens hang on with a fantastic goal-line stand at the end (and no, it wasn’t a hold on 4th down; a good no call by the refs, methinks) and finally after four hours the millions watching on TV exhale.

This is why the NFL can’t be killed. No matter how many concussions are doled out, how many lawsuits are brought by old players who are in unspeakable pain and agony playing the sport they loved… this is why the NFL endures. Because it gives us drama like this.

Some quick-hit thoughts on the game, the commercials, and the announcers who talked about it all:

— The blackout in the third quarter was bizarre. Did someone from the 49ers pull the plug to stop the bleeding on the field? Pretty embarrassing for the NFL, no matter how it happened. Just a totally different game when play resumed. (Best Tweet about it? From @NealPollack: “This time, it’s the rich people trapped in the Superdome.”

— Joe Flacco, the pride of the University of Delaware! I’m a very proud alum today, after our most famous recent athlete put on a dazzling show in the Super Bowl. Three first-half touchdowns, one prettier than the next. Man he has such a great arm. Representing Blue Hens on the world stage; way to go Joe. (Fun fact: in the last 5 years my little school has had a vice-president, a Nobel Prize winner, and a Super Bowl winning QB.)

— Kaepernick is just sensational. As bad as he played in the first half, he showed why he’s going to be so special in the 2nd half. Can’t believe on that last drive the Niners didn’t call a play for him to run it in.

— I thought the Sandy Hook Elementary School choir singing “America The Beautiful” with Jennifer Hudson before the game was just beautiful.

— Beyonce at halftime: I mean, wow. She looked phenomenal (someone Tweeted that all of America was rooting for a wardrobe malfunction; count me in on that), and sounded phenomenal. The computerized graphics were fabulous, and the woman just brought so much energy and flash to her performance. For my money, one of the best Super Bowl halftime productions ever.

— On the commercials, several really good ones stood out for me and the crew watching the game: The Taco Bell ad, with the old people partying and “We Are Young” in Spanish playing in the background, was awesome.

We also loved the Audi commercial with the kid who kisses the dream girl at the prom, then drives home happily with a black eye, and the Doritos ad with the fathers all playing dress-up in princess costumes was cute, too.

And the Oprah Jeep commercial tribute to our soldiers was pretty terrific and tear-inducting

But the top commercials, to me, were the Tide “Joe Montana Stain” commercial (above); hilarious…

and the Budweiser Clydesdale Farmer ad, which was moving and beautiful and made up for the two earlier crappy Bud commercials…

— Commercials we didn’t like: The GoDaddy.com ad was tame (for them) and the Budweiser “Black Label” ads seemed lame; the Psy “Pistachios” ad was incredibly stupid (your 15 minutes are up, pal).

— On the broadcast side, I thought Phil Simms and Jim Nantz did OK; although they seemed to have no idea how or why that 2nd-quarter brawl broke out between the teams, then they barely showed a replay of it. And they both talked way too much.

— Here’s something I thought of a few times during the game: Seven years ago, the Louisiana Superdome was just about destroyed in Hurricane Katrina. All the experts said the building was done hosting football, hosting anything. It was a shelter for thousands of people whose lives had been destroyed.

And now, it’s once again a shining sports cathedral. Made me happy to see the SuperDome shine again.

**Finally today, two things I love most combined again last week: Joe Posnanski writing comedy, and him writing comedy about a ridiculous infomercial. Never fails to crack me up. This time, he takes on the WaxVac (above), a needless product designed to vacuum-suck wax out of your ears.

The reaction of the guy who screams “Oww!” is just priceless.

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:

An amazing national title game. Tiger thoughts. And another great old song is sold out

I think I started breathing again about 45 seconds after Butler’s Gordon Hayward launched a half-court heave at the buzzer that missed going in by about, oh, two inches.

I was at a loss for words at about 11:45 p.m. Monday night. Which is good, since I could hardly breathe.

I’d just seen maybe the greatest NCAA national championship basketball game of my lifetime, and Duke had won.

What. A. Game. What a game! Truly phenomenal. I am so thrilled as a Duke fan that my team won its fourth national title, but a tiny part of me almost wishes that that last shot by Hayward went in.

Because wouldn’t that have been the perfect ending to the most perfect NCAA Tournament I’ve seen? A halfcourt, national title-winning shot by a tiny school from Indiana at the buzzer. As it was, it was an incredible game. Duke scratched and clawed and had to do everything possible to hang in.

I realize I’m not being eloquent or making much sense here, but I’m too emotionally spent to be clever or profound. My wife, who has a devilish sense of humor, decided it’d be fun to videotape me watching the last 10 minutes of the game, as I paced, screamed, and clutched a pillow to my chest while rocking back and forth (Don’t worry, I’m sure it’ll be on YouTube soon enough).

It was just a phenomenal game, capping off a phenomenal tournament. Nobody deserved to lose that game; it was basketball at its finest.

Couple more late-night thoughts on the game:

— Duke and Coach K have now won 4 national titles in 19 years, and I think it’s fair to see he’s the second-greatest college basketball coach of all time now (behind some guy named J. Wooden).

— So happy to see Brian Zoubek, who every Duke fan called “useless” or worse his first three years, get the last big rebound and score the last point. I’ve never seen a player get so much better from January to March than he did.

— If you’re scoring at home, I’ve already ordered the 2010 national title long-sleeve blue shirt, and the 2010 tall glass tumbler. Hey, those were needed purchases at 2 a.m.

— Since I’m like the biggest “One Shining Moment” fan in the world, I must weigh in on Jennifer Hudson’s version Monday night. The singing was fine. The production was awful. First, they showed clips of her singing for like 15 seconds. Why? the whole point of the thing is a montage of the Tournament; they’ve never showed the OSM singer, because the focus is on the players.

Second, there were no highlights of Duke doing anything well in the title game. And third, a minor point but an important one, on the opening “The ball is tipped” lyric, when they always show two guys jumping center, they showed Jennifer Hudson’s face!

Ugh. CBS, you dropped the ball this year, big-time. Check for yourself:

**So against my better judgment, I listened to some of Tiger Woods’ press conference from the Masters on Monday. As much as I hate to say it, I thought he was pretty honest. He still wouldn’t admit he’s a sex addict, nor did he go into details about why he did what he did, hurting the people he loved so much.

But I thought he was pretty honest and vulnerable, and tried to be as open as he could.

Now, can we all move on with the rest of our lives?

**Finally, I realize I’m getting old. I realize this because I remember when I was a kid, in the late 1980s or so, there was a huge uproar from baby boomers when Bob Dylan and The Who songs were being used in car commercials. This is a travesty! the thirtysomething fans shouted. This was iconic rock music that lifted a generation, and now it’s being used to push Hondas?

Well, I thought they were being silly then. And yet … I’m watching TV with Julie the other day, and a commercial comes on playing the classic Technotronic song “Move This.”

I look up, and what’s the song promoting? Garanimals. Yep, a hip-hop song that was an anthem at dance clubs and parties for years is now being used to sell children’s clothing!

What a disgrace. You think the Technotronic people ever thought that 21 years ago when this song came out that little Johnny and his pajamas would be bopping along to this song? Heck no.

I’m faux outraged. Oh well. Have a listen and remember how great this song really was: