Tag Archives: Lin-Manuel Miranda

Good News Friday: Lin-Manuel and friends make a girl’s “Hamilton” dream come true. A story of a small kindness re-told 30 years later, with an amazing postscript. And musicians cover a classic 60s song beautifully.

Happy Friday, y’all! How’s everybody doing with the self-isolation thing? We here in New York are four weeks in and well, we’re doing fine. We’ve gotten into a rhythm and routine and as long as the weather is decent, we get outside all the time.

There’s been a glimmer of positive COVID-19 news this week, thank God, as things may be improving slightly.

So on that note, let’s swing into Good News Friday. I’ve got two awesome musical stories this week, sandwiched around a truly incredible tale of a man who remembered a kindness from 30 years ago, mentioned it on Twitter, and well… I’m getting ahead of myself.

First up, TV star John Krasinski has started a TV show during the quarantine called “Some Good News,” and last week on his show he made a young girl’s dreams come true.

A kid named Aubrey is a huge “Hamilton” fan, and was supposed to go see the show in New York a few weeks ago. Of course, given the state of the world now, she couldn’t go.

Her Mom posted about it on Twitter, Krasinski saw it, and he arranged this magical sing-a-long with Lin-Manuel Miranda and much of the original cast.

Just perfect. A moment Aubrey will never forget.

**Next up, I’ve written about the awesome writer Chris Jones in this space before, someone I admire for his honesty, creativity, and humor.

Well, the other night something magical happened, something that made me put up with all the negativity and nastiness that pervades Twitter sometimes.

Jones began to tell a story, just because, and this is it in full. When he gets to the end, an amazing surprise happened:

A story about one of the greatest acts of kindness I experienced in my life. When I was 17, my little country high school, down to 60 kids, was closed by the board. I was bussed to a huge high school in town for my last year. It sucked.

I made a few friends, but I was quiet, bookish, and awkward; Pearl Jam’s “Ten” was still a year from saving me. I was so forgettable that, after, in that giant photographic collage of graduates that schools make, I did not appear.

One day I had a terrible cold. Bus ride to school was eternal. Blowing my nose constantly. I get to school. There was this preppie kid, Sean, who always made fun of my clothes. He once made fun of me for an entire chem class because I missed a belt loop with my belt. That kid.

I walk into class. He looks at me and goes, “What the fuck is that?” Points at my chest. Where, to my horror, I have deposited a giant snot rocket. I have missed the tissue and blown a booger the size of a corn flake onto my shirt.

” Is that fucking SNOT?” Sean yells, loud enough, of course, for the whole class to hear it. Readers, I want to tell you, I was immediately the temperature of the sun. Other kids gather around and laugh and point. High-school nightmare.

One kid, Pete Simon, comes over. Pete was always a good guy—not super cool, but popular because of his energy. Just one of those happy dudes. He joins the crowd and his first instinct, quite naturally, is to be like: Dude, that’s gross!

But then he looks at me, and he can see in my face, I guess, that I’m dying. Pete goes, “Guys, guys, that’s a piece of banana. Did you have a banana for breakfast, Chris?” And I’m like, “Uh, yeah! Yeah, I did!” Pete looks at Sean and goes, “It’s banana, idiot.”

Crowd disperses, I clean up my shirt, class begins. What could have been a defining incident in the worst way—I could have been Booger Boy forever—never comes up again. Until today, nearly thirty years later.

I graduate, almost grateful for the invisibility. Then “Ten” comes out, and because I can do a reasonable impression of Eddie Vedder, and the flannel shirts that country kids wore suddenly became cool, I find my feet. I get the chance to figure out who I am.

And in some weird way, it’s thanks to the kindness of Pete Simon, teenage hero of my life. I’ll never forget the look he gave me later, during class: “I got you.” I could cry, remembering it. Pete Simon. What a fucking champ.”

OK, so, great story, right? Only it gets better. A woman named Krista Ferrier sees the story and replies: “What high school? My husband is a Pete Simon and this sounds just like something he would do?”

And yeah, it turns out Krista’s husband is THE Pete Simon in Jones’ story. And Krista showed him the story, and Pete couldn’t believe Jones remembered that all these years later, and life is amazing sometimes.

**And finally today, some of the unsung heroes of this pandemic, as far as giving us amazing entertainment, are the video editors who splice together these incredible music recordings from dozens of singers doing tunes from different locations.

This is the best I’ve seen in a long time; the classic 1960s anthem “The Weight,” originally done by Robbie Robertson, with a whole lot of talented musicians, led by Neale Erickson.

Just so beautifully done. Have a great weekend.

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.

 

This is not normal: An extraordinary Presidential debate, starring the pig Donald Trump. Lin-Manuel Miranda kills it on “SNL.” And the Eagles crash, the Vikings soar, and I say very little about the Jets

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This is not normal.

You need to keep telling yourself that, my fellow Americans (and citizens of the world, wherever you’re reading this).

This is not normal in American politics. It is not normal for a Presidential candidate of a major party, during a Presidential debate 30 days before the election, to threaten to jail the other candidate.

It is not normal in American politics for a Presidential candidate of a major party to bring three women that the candidate’s spouse allegedly sexually assaulted years ago, to the debate, seat them in the front row, and use them completely as political props.

It is not normal in American politics for a Presidential candidate of a major party to so blatantly lie about the sexual assaults HE himself bragged about committing, on videotape with another idiot, and then say that’s locker room talk (I was a newspaper sportswriter for 14 years, and have been in hundreds of locker rooms. That is NOT how men in locker rooms talk.)

This is all just so f’ed up. It is not normal. It will never be normal. My head hurt and brain got scrambled so many times watching that debate Sunday night.

What I saw on the stage, and what I think millions of people saw, is a raving, incoherent madman who basically admits he’d be a dictator, has no clue about how American government works, and is a sexual criminal.

And he’s going to get 35 percent of the vote.

So many thoughts on what was, again, an extraordinarily unusual debate (You can find my thoughts, and some of the great thoughts of others I RT’ed, on my Twitter feed here.):

— First, and I cannot emphasize this enough: Trump said if he wins he will appoint a special prosecutor and make sure Hillary is put in jail.  This is how dictatorships work. This is what Putin, and Castro, and so many others have done. This cannot be allowed to slip by as “just talk.”

— Did you notice how skulking and scary Trump seemed pacing around the room, lurking behind Hillary? As one Tweeter put it: “Can someone tell the Secret Service there’s a scary, crazy man behind Hillary Clinton?”

— I thought Hillary did very well Sunday night not sinking to Trump’s level, mostly. She did get down in the gutter with him a couple of times, but I thought she did a terrific job reminding everyone of ALL the groups Trump has insulted, that it’s not just women he discussed so disgustingly on that 2005 videotape.

— She wasn’t perfect; her Abe Lincoln public/private answer was strange, and she didn’t do a great job near the end when asked to praise something about Trump. But she let him ramble and ramble and that was all she needed to do.

— I thought Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz, the moderators, got much stronger as the debate went on, actually challenging both candidates to answer the questions. Trump’s whining about time and “it’s 3 vs. 1” was just so juvenile. My 2-year-old would’ve been more mature up there.

— And now, a comedic interlude from noted scholar Scott Baio:

— Also, and this too will get lost because 10 other crazy things happened: Trump said he and VP nominee Mike Pence “haven’t spoken” about Russia’s involvement in Syria but he disagrees with Pence’s position.
This is such an important issue, Syria, Trump talks about it all the time, and yet he hasn’t discussed it with his VP.

— How offensive is it that Trump, when talking about African-Americans, only talks about the inner city? Does every black person in America live in an inner-city? I mean, has the man SEEN the TV show “Blackish?”

— Line of the night, from my friend Dave: “Trump makes George W. Bush look like Stephen Hawking.”

— It was so hilarious to see SO many GOP politicians pull hamstrings over the weekend, running as far away from Trump as they could after the old tape became public. So, let me get this straight: Insulting veterans, Muslims, Mexicans, Miss Universe winners, disabled reporters and others was fine by you, but talking about women this way, THAT was too much for you?

Give me a goddamn break.

— She’s winning 35-39 states, and more than 350 electoral votes, and the Democrats take back the Senate. I’ve said this since March. Nothing Sunday night changes any of it. If anything, I’m being conservative in my estimates of the Hillary landslide.

**Next up today, the creative genius that is Lin-Manuel Miranda hosted “Saturday Night Live” this weekend, and as expected he was awesome.

Though he looks radically different from how he appeared in “Hamilton,” his opening song was pretty fantastic.

The “Weehawken” line was my favorite…

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**Finally today, a few thoughts on the NFL, Week 5. All I’m going to say about the Jets is that they stink in all facets of the game, they’re now 1-4, and the season is gone, and I’m really happy the New York Rangers hockey and Duke basketball seasons start real soon. As my beloved father texted during the 4th quarter of Sunday’s pathetic loss to the Steelers, “it’s actually physically painful to watch them.”

“The 2016 Jets! It’s physically painful to watch us!”

— Moving on, kind of a crushing loss for the previously-undefeated Eagles. Falling down big at Detroit, rallying back, then losing in the final two minutes, as Carson Wentz throws his first interception of his career. NFC East is going to be very interesting this year.

— Also, if you show up to the Cleveland Browns practice facility today, they’ll give you a uniform and make you the starting quarterback next week. Man oh man, that franchise is just cursed beyond belief. Every QB they throw out there gets hurt.

— Anyone expect the Minnesota Vikings to be this damn good, without Teddy Bridgewater and Adrian Peterson? They just manhandled the pretty good Texans on Sunday.

 

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: An incredible flag return tradition from America to Japan. The Holocaust survivor who sang the anthem at a Tigers game. And James Corden’s Tonys-themed Carpool Karaoke is great.

And a Happy Friday to you all! Summer seems to have arrived, we’ve got all kinds of “Kumbaya” unity on the Democratic side (and did you see Joe Biden’s fantastic letter to the Stanford rape victim? Love that Joe Biden), and Donald Trump is tweeting stupid crap and alienating more people every day. God bless America…

Three great pieces of media to share with you today. First up, a fantastic and emotional story done by the stellar crew at “CBS Sunday Morning,” and for once, it’s not a Steve Hartman story I’m sharing.

You’ve probably heard a lot in the last few weeks about World War II, and the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as President Obama visited the historic Japanese site of Hiroshima. Seven decades later, the healing between American soldiers and Japanese citizens is still ongoing.
Well, an Oregon couple is doing its best to give closure to the descendants of Japanese soldiers killed in battle; they’re sending back the “good luck” Japanese flags used during the war.

It’s an emotional, beautiful thing to see the reaction of the Japanese people when the flags are returned. Watch, and realize that it’s never too late to do good.

**Next up, Sunday is the Tony Awards, which if you’re like my wife, is one of the highlights on the calendar every year (seriously, she loves the Tonys almost as much as she loves me.)

James Corden is hosting this year, and so of course he did a special and awesome version of “Carpool Karaoke,” starring Jane Krakowski, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, the amazing Audra McDonald, and Lin-Manuel Miranda from some little off-Broadway show called “Hamilton” or something.

This is terrific.

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**Finally today, this is a wonderful story from a few weeks ago that I missed while we were away. Eighty-nine year old Holocaust survivor Hermina Hersh dreamed of one day singing the national anthem at a sporting event, and a few months ago her grandson videotaped Hersh singing it at home and put it on YouTube.

The video went viral locally, media attention followed, and then the Detroit Tigers gave her the chance to do it a few weeks ago.

With her family all watching from the stands, Hersh knocked it out of the park. What a wonderful moment for her. Hear Hersh’s story in more detail here.

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.

 

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.”