Tag Archives: Scarlett Johannson

Everybody into the pool! I give you some tips on winning your NCAA March Madness bracket. Federer gets “interrogated” by 50 kid reporters. And SNL with a pretty fantastic sketch on Ivanka Trump

Sing it with me now! It’s, the most wonderful time, of the year…

At least for me it is. After I just spent five amazing days at Barclays Center in Brooklyn last week covering the ACC basketball tournament (something I last covered in 2000), I am wiped out but incredibly excited for March Madness. (More on my strange back-in-time week as a sportswriter, including when I ran into Chris Christie twice and nearly got bulldozed by Notre Dame star Bonzie Colson in a hallway, in Wednesday’s post.)

Sunday night we learned who’s playing who, when, and where, and I have to say, usually on these nights I’m bitching and moaning about the selection committee snubbing a team badly, or drastically over or under-seeding somebody. But this year, I think the committee did a real good job. Wichita State and Wisconsin got jobbed, both should’ve been at least a 6 or 7 seed, and I can’t understand how a good Wake Forest team was made to play in the play-in game, but those are minor quibbles.

I know a majority of you are going to be filling out office pools this week, and you want to know which upsets to pick, who’s going to the Final Four, and all that stuff. So as I do every year, I am here to guide you, my fine reader. Last year’s opening rounds were insane (remember this shot from Northern Iowa?), so don’t expect nearly as much drama this time.

But we can hope.

Couple quick thoughts on the bracket; not ready to pick my Final Four yet, that’ll be Wednesday.

— OK, right off the bat a few upsets I like: UNC-Wilmington, a 12 seed in the East, to beat Virginia. UVA has really struggled lately and the Seahawks can really shoot. I could see No. 13 Bucknell beating No. 4 West Virginia (I always pick against Bob Huggins teams), No. 12 Middle Tennessee State (who shocked Michigan State last season) beating Minnesota, and maybe, maybe, No. 13 Florida Gulf Coast over No. 4 Florida. Also don’t be stunned if No. 14 Iona beats Oregon, or Winthrop beats Butler.

— As always, some tantalizing possible second-round matchups: Kentucky vs. Wichita State in a rematch from three years ago, when the Wildcats eliminated the then-undefeated Shockers; Duke-Marquette (Coach K vs. his old player, Steve Wojciechowski), and Louisville vs. Michigan. The loaded South bracket could give us Kentucky vs. UCLA in the Sweet 16 (think that might get some decent ratings), Arizona-Florida State in the Sweet 16 in the West would be tremendous, and a Kentucky-North Carolina Elite 8 game looms huge.

— Someone on the committee really, really hates Kansas. The Jayhawks got a brutally tough bracket, stuffed with No. 2 Louisville, No. 3 Oregon, No. 4 Purdue, and a second-round game with either Miami or Michigan State. I don’t see the Jayhawks surviving all that.

–Meanwhile, my Duke boys, fresh off an improbable ACC Tournament championship, got a real nice draw. They could face old friend Steve Wojciechowski in Round 2, and Baylor in the Sweet 16, but really, Duke should get to the Elite 8 at least, where they’d play defending national champion Villanova. That would be sensational.

The madness begins in just a few days. Can’t wait!

**Next up today, any chance I get to show Roger Federer being awesome, and super-humble, I’m going to take it. The greatest tennis player of all time is in Indian Wells, Calif. this week for a pretty major tournament, and as part of promoting the event he did a “press conference” with 50 local 2nd-graders. It’s pretty hilarious and adorable, especially the end.

As the great Jon Wertheim said on Twitter, you can’t fake this level of engagement. What a great, fun little few minutes this is to watch.

And finally today, I haven’t seen “SNL” in a few weeks but they’re still turning out great, slightly subversive material. Over the weekend they did a fake commercial on Ivanka Trump called “Complicit,” and it’s pretty fabulous. The tagline, delivered with about 20 seconds left, is devastating.

“Her” a dazzling and unique movie. Me and snow: no longer friends. And sexism alive and well at Australian Open

her-movie

When you go see a Spike Jonze movie, you have to buy in from the start.
You have to accept the ludicrous, fantastical, out-of-the-norm premise of his films, and just go with it, and let the movie take you inside his crazy brain for a few hours.

Otherwise, you probably won’t like his films.

I let that happen for “Being John Malkovich,” one of the most twisted and hilarious films I’ve ever seen, and for “Adaptation,” another wacky Jonze flick that I loved.

So when I went into “Her,” the Oscar-nominated film about a lonely guy (Joaquin Phoenix) who falls in love with the beautiful voice on his new operating system (Scarlett Johannson), named Samantha, and went where the movie took me.

And man oh man, what an amazing ride it was. “Her” is beautifully written, exquisitely acted by Phoenix and ScarJo (who could really have gotten an Oscar nomination herself just with her voice), and scored musically to perfection.

Take the leap of faith, and you’ll see it’s really a love story, about a lonely man finding that special connection with another, and desperate to make it real, and keep it going.

I don’t want to give too many details of the movie, because it deserves to be explored upon viewing. But in a year of fantastic movies, this one might be one of the two best I’ve seen (“12 Years A Slave” is the other).

Go see “Her” if you believe in love, and incredible movie-making.

**So, for 5 1/2 years before moving back to New York, I lived in Florida. Florida is wonderful in a lot of ways, but what it always lacks is snow. I love snow most of the time, and when you don’t have it for a while, you really do miss it.

So when I first moved back to NY in the summer of 2011, I couldn’t wait for the first snow. I love how pretty the flakes fall onto the ground, love seeing the giant snow piles on the sides of the street, and love walking in soft snow.

Yeah, I’m over that now. Been back long enough to get sick of it, and Tuesday we here in NYC got snow starting at 8 a.m. and it hasn’t stopped as I write this at 10;30 p.m.

I walked 16 blocks in it today, without my snowboots (yes, I’m a fool for not wearing them to school today), with the snow blowing sideways and coming down as hard as rain ever does.

Snow stinks. I’m with Lorelai Gilmore in the above clip from “Gilmore Girls.” Bring me spring and 65 degrees please.

Soon.

**Finally today, haven’t blogged about it too much yet but this Australian Open has been fantastic. Tennis’ first major has seen Serena and Sharapova lose stunningly, Novak Djokovic, as sure a bet as there is at the Aussie Open, lose his nerve and fall 9-7 in the fifth in the quarterfinals, and the door wide open for some fresh faces to break through and win a Slam.

One of those fresh faces is a delightful 19-year-old Canadian woman, Eugenie Bouchard. She’s reached the semifinals, has a great personality and a ferocious game to match.

And yet, after her win Monday night she was treated to the same old sexist, condescending questions that young female tennis players have been forced to endure for ages.

During the post-match interview, the Australian TV host asked Bouchard who she’d most like to go on a date with.

I guarantee you Rafael Nadal, Bjorn Borg or John McEnroe were never asked this question, but somehow it’s OK for female athletes to still be treated like this.

Just pathetic and sad that in 2014, women athletes still get questions like this.

Israel angers me again: Oy vey. A rant at ESPN. And a good Woody Allen movie (it’s been awhile)

Israel. Oh, Israel. You make it so hard sometimes for American Jews like myself  to defend you.

Like on Monday. Right when Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu was about to have a meeting with President Obama, an Israeli navy commando raided an aid flotilla and killed nine people.

Israel says it acted in self-defense. The rest of the world seems to disagree. It looks very bad, especially when you learn that the flotilla was carrying 10,000 tons of aid.

I’m sick of what certainly appear to be pro-active acts of violence by Israel. I know there are many Jews in America who will defend Israel no matter what. I’m not one of them.

I hope the investigation of this attack shows that the Israelis acted in self-defense. I really hope I’m wrong. Because this sure as hell won’t help any peace process that might ever occur in the Middle East.

**ESPN does a lot of things right, and it does a lot of things wrong. Monday it totally angered me because it refused to show live tennis from the French Open; instead, it showed taped matches that had been over for hours.

If you are interested in me ranting about this (and you know you are), click here for my blog on the French Open Monday, and scroll toward the bottom.

**”Vicky Cristina Barcelona” is one of those movies I’d been meaning to see for a while, but never got around to it. Finally saw that it was on one of the 47 Showtime channels we get (seriously, it’s ridiculous how many different Showtimes and HBOs there are), and taped it, and watched it Sunday night.

Pretty good, as I’d heard. I’d watch Scarlett Johannson read a phone book, so beautiful is she, but she actually acted quite well in this. Javier Bardem was his usual awesome self, and Penelope Cruz was terrific, too. Not sure she was worthy of that Oscar she got; I mean, she was only in a few scenes. But she was really good.

It was a well-paced, well-written film, even it if wasn’t all that funny. And it made me wonder: Hey Woody Allen, where the hell’s all this good stuff been? Woody’s made some dreadful movies in the last 10 years, and I’ve watched most of ’em (that one with Helen Hunt? And the “Scoop” movie with Scarlett? Just atrocious piffle.)

Glad to see Woody can still make a good movie, that’s all.