Tag Archives: Ray Romano

“The Big Sick” a really warm, funny movie with heart. Remembering the best July 4th fireworks show I saw live. And Wimbledon begins, can Federer win No. 19?

It’s rare that I go to the movies anymore, and even rarer that I go to the cinema in the summer, when nearly every movie is an insipid superhero flick with $200 million special effects budget but a $5 plot. Summer movies are almost always dreadful; the best thing about them is that you’re inside and getting air conditioning for a few hours.

But I’ve been reading and hearing so many positive things about “The Big Sick,” the new romantic comedy starring Kumail Nanjiani (he’s on HBO’s excellent “Silicon Valley”) and Zoe Kazan, that my beautiful wife and I decided to check it out.

It was sensational. Really, really strong flick, maybe the best romantic comedy I’ve seen since I don’t know when. (maybe since I saw “Knocked Up?”)

The plot is simple: Kumail (playing himself) is a Pakistani stand-up comedian in his 20s living in Chicago, totally happy with American culture, but stuck with old-world parents who keep trying to set him up. One night at a comedy club he meets Emily (Zoe Kazan), a blonde and perky grad student who’s studying to be a psychiatrist. The two hit it off immediately, start to have a relationship, and a few months later it falls apart (I won’t spoil the whole plot).

Then right after the breakup, Emily gets very sick and is put into a medically-induced coma, and suddenly we’re in a very different movie. Soon Kumail has to deal with Emily’s parents (the usually hilarious Holly Hunter is great here, and Ray Romano continues to show he can actually act), who know about the breakup and understandably aren’t thrilled he keeps showing up to the hospital every day.

There were a lot of little, funny touches in “The Big Sick,”  that show the writers (Nanjiani and his real-life wife, Emily Gordon) realize the small things are important, including Kumail needing to get ahold of Emily’s parents, but not having their phone number, and of course Emily’s phone is locked.

So he takes Emily’s iPhone and slides her comatose thumb over the home button, unlocking the device, then mouthing “sorry” to her. But hey, how else would he have gotten their digits, right?

The movie also contains what I believe to be the first and only truly funny 9/11 joke, which I won’t spoil here. You may hate yourself for laughing at it, but you will laugh, trust me.

“The Big Sick” has great heart, its hilarious and moving, and credits its audience with having a brain, rare for a summer movie. It’s only playing in certain cities right now, but it’s gotten a 91 percent fresh Rotten Tomatoes score for a reason: It’s terrific. If it’s playing anywhere near you, go see it.

Next up, I’m probably not going to be attending any live fireworks shows this year (our little guy can’t stay up that late and is terrified by loud noises), so I got a little nostalgic and found this on YouTube: In 1986 there was an amazing fireworks show over the Statue of Liberty, to celebrate its 100 year anniversary. My family and I camped out 12 hours earlier to get a good spot. It was pretty magical…

**Finally today, it’s a national holiday for tennis fans like me: Wimbledon is here! The most prestigious and best Grand Slam of the year arrives, and for me it’s two weeks of pure racket bliss. OK, sure, I did have a few moments this weekend remembering the once-in-a-lifetime trip to Wimbledon my wife and I took last year, and had a few small pangs of “Man, that was so incredible, I want to go back!

But that quickly passed. This Wimbledon figures to be utterly predictable on the men’s side, and completely unpredictable on the women’s side. With the men, I have to believe it’ll be either Roger Federer or Rafa Nadal winning the title; Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray are in deep slumps, and I can’t see an upstart like Grigor Dimitrov or Alex Zverev breaking through here. Please, please tennis Gods, give us Federer/Nadal final in 2 weeks.
On the women’s side, who the hell knows? Serena Williams is pregnant, Maria Sharapova is hurt, and none of the other top women’s players have any great pedigree on grass.

Jelena Ostapenko won the French Open, Simona Halep is always dangerous, and don’t count out Venus. Should be wild.

Two glorious weeks of Wimbledon. Can’t wait.

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A prayer for Gary Carter. “Men of A Certain Age” is back. And ultimate chutzpah in a divorce proceeding

I was always a Yankees fan growing up.
But I loved Gary Carter. Even though he was a Met.
It’s pretty hard not to like Carter. As a catcher for the Mets and Expos, his Hall of Fame career was marked by home runs, great  play behind the plate, but most of all, his huge smile.

The guy just looked like he was always having fun. He played the game with such an infectious enthusiasm, and it was impossible not to notice how much he loved what he did.
My ultimate memory of Carter the player is  when I was 9 years old. In 1984 and the Mets had just acquired Carter, and they had these great young pitchers like Dwight Gooden and Ron Darling, and I remember they got off to a great start that year, and Carter was just such a spark, encouraging the young guys, hitting a ton, and just letting the fans know that the Mets were back, and would be good again.

I’m thinking of Carter this week, if you haven’t heard, because he just received some awful medical news. Doctors found four tumors on his brain, and after further testing, it was determined that they were inoperable. Which, of course, means Carter’s chances for survival are pretty slim.

Truly awful news for one of sport’s all-time good guys. Spare a thought or a prayer for Carter today; he could us all the help.

**Yay, one of my favorite shows is back!
If you’re not watching TNT’s “Men of A Certain Age” yet, you really should be. I’ve waxed poetic about its greatness before; it stars Ray Romano, Andre Braugher, and Scott Bakula as three guys in their 40s trying to figure out life. It’s funny, smart and tugs at your heartstrings sometimes, too.
The new season started Wednesday night, with a really solid episode. It’s On Demand and on TNT a few times this weekend; definitely check it out.

**Finally, this is the absolute ultimate in chutzpah. Steve Simkin and Laura Blank got divorced in 2006. They split up their considerable assets 50/50, and each got a significant amount of cash. They also had money invested with a fella named Bernard Madoff, who a couple years later got into a little trouble.
Something about a Ponzi scheme.
When they split up, Blank took her money out of the Madoff investment. But Simkin decided to keep his money with Madoff.
Well, obviously Simkin lost all the money he invested. And now, after being swindled, he’s got the gall to challenge the original divorce agreement he made, and is asking in court that she turn over millions of her settlement to help offset the money he lost with Madoff.

My incredulous response: Are you freaking kidding me, Mr. Simkin? Your wife is supposed to share her half of the settlement because you blew it with Madoff? That’s absolutely insane.
I can’t believe the courts are even considering this.
By the way, if this sounds like something you’ve heard before, it was part of  a “Curb Your Enthusiasm” episode a couple of years ago. Purely coincidence, though, says Larry David.
Unbelievable, this Simkin guy. What nerve.

Elizabeth Edwards, a woman of grace. And “Men of A Certain Age,” back and great again

I met Elizabeth Edwards on two occasions in the winter of 2003-04.
I was working as a volunteer for the John Edwards for President campaign in New Hampshire, going up on weekends to knock on doors, stand in the freezing cold and sing songs (“E-DW-ARD-S, oh yes, John is the best!” Seriously, that was our song).
One day after a rally,  the host family I stayed with while in Concord called me over, said someone wanted to meet some volunteers. And there, standing in the middle of a group and holding a hot chocolate, was Elizabeth Edwards.
She was smiling so brightly; I’ll always remember her enthusiasm and gentle smile.
I shook her hand, she called me by name (each volunteer got that courtesy from her), and she thanked me for coming up to New Hampshire to help her husband get elected President.
I spoke to her once more, a few weeks later right before the primary, and once again, her warmth cut through the freezing Manchester night.
She was a remarkable woman, brave in her fights against cancer, resilient in the face of the unspeakable tragedy she and John endured when they buried their own son, Wade.
Some will remember Elizabeth Edwards for sticking with John even after his infidelities, and even after most of the rest of us fled and wondered how she could stay with him. Others will recall the salacious details in a campaign book released last year.
I will remember her smile, and gentle nature. And how remarkably courageous she was in the face of so much pain.
Rest in peace, Elizabeth Edwards. Your smile remains with us, always.

**One of my favorite discoveries last year was the TNT show “Men of A Certain Age.” I caught on halfway through the season, and was shocked at how good it was, and how much I liked it. I’ve never cared for Ray Romano, never found him funny at all. But he’s really good in this show, as are Scott Bakula and Andre Braugher.
It’s a very well-written show, with flashes of humor and drama and all kinds of good acting. It just started its second season, and you haven’t missed too much if you start watching now.

Definitely worth your time. TNT, Monday at 10.

Sarah Palin’s cheat sheet. And in praise of Ray Romano’s new show

So, yeah, I know I said a long time ago that I didn’t care one bit about Sarah Palin, and was annoyed that the media gave her so much attention.

But when she keeps announcing herself, loudly and clearly, as a moron, well, I just can’t myself.

Have you seen this yet? Probably, but it’s worth sharing again. During a sit-down “interview” at the Tea Party Convention (do you think Lipton’s got the sponsorship deal there?), she stopped and looked at her hand for a moment. And what was on her hand? TALKING POINTS. Specifically, energy, tax, and lift American spirits. Watch for yourself, and marvel that this woman who was almost thisclose to the Presidency, CAN’T REMEMBER THREE WORDS when she’s talking.

Oh yeah, I may be meeting the former sportscaster herself on Sunday. She’ll be at the Daytona 500. So will I. I’m hoping she gets to be the starter, so I can watch her look down at her hand when she yells “Start, your … wait, wait, it’s coming to me, hang on … ENGINES!”

**So I’m one of the few people in America who hated “Everybody Loves Raymond.” I just thought it wasn’t funny, and as a sportswriter, I wondered how come, in the few episodes I ever watched, Ray Barone never actually did any work.

Ray Romano never did it for me; never thought his stand-up was all that funny, either. So when I heard he had a new show on TNT called “Men of A Certain Age,” I ignored it. Then three people whose TV opinion I trust told me it was really, really good.

So I’ve been catching up on Hulu. And I must admit, this show is fantastic. Andre Braugher and Scott Bakula play Romano’s friends, and the series explores the friendship of these 40-something guys. It’s funny, it’s so smartly written, and has a lot more heart than I would’ve expected. The scene in Episode 4 where Braugher’s character wins a battle with City Hall, then jumps around outside on the steps of the government building, with the “Rocky” music playing? Brilliant.

Check it on TNT or Hulu. It’s totally turned me around on Ray Romano, and it’s damn entertaining television.

Not as entertaining as laughing at Sarah Palin, but come on, that’s a pretty high bar to leap over.