Tag Archives: The Americans

Good News Friday: A Down’s Syndrome boy gets an awesome surprise. The best show on TV (“The Americans”) is back! And an NFL player thanks the cancer-stricken author who changed his life

And a Happy Friday to you all! I’m writing this in the midst of three glorious, marathon days at the ACC Basketball Tournament in Brooklyn, where I’m writing, eating, and watching hoops to my heart’s content and having a blast. Stretching my old sportswriter muscles, and it feels good.

While I excitedly await Duke-Carolina Part 3 tonight, and of course Selection Sunday Sunday night, a few good news stories to send you into the weekend:

First off, this story is a few months old but it’s beautiful: A 17-year-old Las Vegas kid named Daniel has Down Syndrome, and really wanted to go to the school dance at his high school in Las Vegas. A classmate named Kylie asked him to the dance, and then the local FOX 5 affiliate “Surprise Squad” went to work.

This is awesome.

**Next up today, I am beyond excited that “The Americans,” the best show on TV, is back. The season 5 premiere aired Tuesday night, and while I’m not going to give anything away, I thought I was watching a whole different show the first few minutes.

Once it settled in, it was predictably awesome. I bang the drum for this show (airing on FX at 10 p.m. on Tuesdays) every year, several times a year, because it’s the best.

This season we get to see the further enmeshing of teenage daughter Paige into the family business of being KGB spies; our man Oleg in Russia with a whole new mission, and a strange new couple who’ve moved to the U.S. from the Soviet Union.

Best of all, looks like we get Margo Martindale back in the cast. Seriously, “The Americans” will hook you in immediately. It’s so beautifully acted with Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell, the writing is excellent, and the story is fabulous.

Yes, you have to pay attention and watch every week. But it’s so, so worth it. All the episodes from past seasons are on Amazon Prime video, if you want to catch up.

**Finally today, I don’t think I’ve seen a story quite like this one before. A wide receiver for the New England Patriots named Malcolm Mitchell was a junior in college when he discovered the children’s author Amy Krouse Rosenthal. Mitchell was enthralled and inspired by one of her books, and wrote a children’s book of his own while a senior at the University of Georgia. Mitchell even started a foundation, Read with Malcolm, which promotes reading stories to underprivileged children.

When Mitchell heard recently that Rosenthal was dying of ovarian cancer, he was crushed. Then he put together a video to cheer her up.

It’s pretty fabulous, where Mitchell tells Rosenthal how she changed his life.

Read the story of their new friendship here, and the video is great, too.

http://mmqb.si.com/mmqb/2017/03/08/amy-krouse-rosenthal-dying-author-inspires-patriots-wideout-malcolm-mitchell

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The Golden Globes were more blah than usual, but saved by the amazing Meryl Streep. And a dull NFL wild-card weekend hopefully leads to better games next week

 

This image released by NBC shows Viola Davis presenting the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017. (Paul Drinkwater/NBC via AP)

This image released by NBC shows Viola Davis presenting the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017. (Paul Drinkwater/NBC via AP)

The Golden Globes are usually the best awards show of the season, because they’re unpredictable and fun and have winners who never win the other big awards.

But Sunday night, I don’t know if it was just that the host was bad (sorry Jimmy Fallon, but this isn’t your best role, can’t Tina Fey and Amy Poehler host this show every year? They’re beyond awesome), or that the crop of movies was blah, or I just wasn’t in the mood, but for the first two hours the Golden Globes were boring as all get out.

Then, it was time for Meryl Streep’s lifetime achievement award, and man, did business pick up. Nobody in Hollywood is more admired than the amazing Ms. Streep, for her grace, for her unparalleled talent, and for her kindness toward others.

Viola Davis gave Meryl a wonderful tribute, some clips from her many phenomenal performances were shown, and then the greatest actress of our lifetime spoke.

And she spoke about the man who in less than two weeks will actually be our President.

Surgically, beautifully, she called him out for what he is: A mean, thoughtless, ignorant jerk who conned millions through his use of insults and fear-mongering.

This short speech was phenomenal, and needs to be watched. “When the powerful use their position to bully, we all lose,” she said. Here is a woman speaking from the heart, about what so many have felt. By far the best thing at Sunday night’s ceremony. (If the speech isn’t embedded below, click here to watch it)

Some other highlights and lowlights from the show (as always, most of the fashion comments come from my beautiful and talented wife):

— The best thing on the show besides Streep, I thought, was Kristin Wiig and Steve Carell’s hilarious bit about the first animated movie they’d seen. Such great deadpan and timing!

— Viola Davis was stunningly beautiful in her dress; Emma Stone looked “airbrushed,” and Mandy Moore looked amazing. Nicole Kidman, I believe, will still look gorgeous at age 113.

— “The Americans” stars were robbed once again, but I was thrilled to see Sarah Paulson win for her Marcia Clark portrayal in “The People vs. O.J. Simpson,” and Tracee Ellis Ross gave a heartfelt and winning speech after her win for “Blackish.”

— Really lame, stupid and borderline offensive of the writers to make lame Sofia Vergara accent jokes (come on, her saying “anal” instead of “annual?” That’s Howard Stern-level humor), and portray Goldie Hawn as a ditzy old lady not able to read a TelePrompter. Just bad.

— Do awards shows really need a DJ? Apparently. Qwestlove didn’t get to do much but he’s always fun.

–Didn’t see “La La Land” and don’t plan to, but “Moonlight” sure as heck looks amazing. And I can’t wait to see “Fences” as soon as I can.

— Seriously, bring back Amy and Tina next year. And every year from now on.

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**Finally today, that was one shitty NFL wild-card weekend, eh? Four games, and not really a great game among ’em. Hell, there wasn’t even a good game among them, although Giants-Packers was at least compelling for 2.5 quarters.

This happens fairly frequently on wild-card weekend; sometimes the matchups just aren’t good. Still, we should have at least two good games next weekend. Couple thoughts on the slop that took place Saturday and Sunday…

— The Dallas Cowboys are the happiest team in the world this morning, since the Giants, the only team that’s beaten Jerry Jones’ boys all year when they were playing all their regulars, are not coming to Texas next weekend to try to beat Dallas a third time. The boys from New Jersey played a miserable game Sunday, although part of that was because Aaron Rodgers played superhuman quarterback for the final three quarters.

I still don’t think the Cowboys are making the Super Bowl with a rookie QB and a rookie running back, but their road got a lot easier with the Giants losing.

— I feel really badly for the Raiders, of all teams. They were having a sensational, dream-like season for 14 games, going 11-3 and looking like a real title threat.

Then their star quarterback, Derek Carr gets hurt, and they don’t win again and they’re forced to play a kid making his first-ever NFL start (Connor Cook) in a road playoff game. No way that goes well.

— I think the chances of Donald Trump coming out of the closet as a gay man on Jan. 20 are greater than the chances of the Houston Texans going into New England next week and beating the Patriots. I’m just sayin.’

— The two “good” games I see next week are the NFC contests: I guess the Steelers could upset Kansas City, but I just don’t think Pittsburgh’s D is all that great this year. But I think the road teams are very frisky next week in the NFC. Seattle looked very solid and have all kinds of playoff experience, and the Matt Ryan-led Falcons certainly have a choking history in the playoffs.

And the Packers, winners of seven in a row, with a QB playing out of his mind, absolutely could steal that game in Dallas. Rodgers is on a different plane right now, just totally locked in.

And really, who doesn’t want to see Jerry Jones unhappy?

The Emmy Awards mostly get it right, except for “The Americans” snub. And the Giants are undefeated, the Browns are still the Browns, and more NFL Week 2 thoughts

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The Emmy Awards, my favorite awards show of the year, was Sunday, and my excitement was higher than usual because finally, finally, finally!, the best show on TV, “The Americans,” got a whole bunch of nominations, after being shamefully ignored for the past three seasons.

And, well, “The Americans” got shut out. As did “Fargo,” which was incredible, and as did “Better Call Saul,” which was also fantastic. But I don’t know if it’s that the voters are getting smarter or more diverse or what, but the last few years have seen a whole lot of well-deserving shows and individuals get victories.

A not-so-brief recap of the highs (tons of ’em!) and lows (just a few) of the Jimmy Kimmel-hosted Emmys Sunday night:

— First, Kimmel. I thought his opening monologue and O.J. jokes were good, and the Matt Damon bit amused me. But maybe we could’ve heard the winner’s speeches a little more if we didn’t waste 10 minutes on a stupid PB&J bit, huh? Still, overall Kimmel was solid. Though I still think Tina Fey and Amy Poehler should host every awards show, ever, from now on.

— So many deserving winners I’m happy for: John Oliver, who does such important, meaningful and hilarious stories that shed light on under-covered issues; Patton Oswalt, who’s always been under the radar but is always good; Courtney B. Vance as Johnnie Cochran in “The People vs. O.J. Simpson” was sensational. And “Key & Peele” winning in their last season was fabulous.

— My wife nearly fell off the couch in shock when Tatiana Maslany won for “Orphan Black.” Apparently she’s fabulous in that show (my wife watches, I don’t.)

— Best dressed (again, according to my wife, the fashion expert of the two of us): Regina King, Kerry Washington, Allison Janney. Worst? Kristen Bell looked like she was wearing a leftover Thanksgiving decoration. And the Terrence Howard outfit? Yeesh.

— Great acceptance speeches by Sterling K. Brown, Sarah Paulson (trying to redeem Marcia Clark’s rep, but I wasn’t buying it, Clark blew that case), and Julia-Louis Dreyfus, who got all choked up talking about her Dad at the end. Also loved how genuinely stunned Kate MacKinnon was, shows much these meaningless awards really mean to nominees.

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— Of all the people I didn’t expect to see at the Emmys… a Jeb Bush sighting? He was great. If he had shown even an ounce of that personality on the campaign trail, America might not be stuck with the vulgar, talking yam right now.

— Solid death montage this year, but Prince as the hammer? Guy is absolutely a legend, but he’s not exactly a TV star. I guess you could say his MTV videos were revolutionary, but …

— Nice to see “Transparent” win again, and Jeffrey Tambor’s tribute to Garry Shandling was sweet. But I’m surprised neither Tambor nor Jill Soloway made mention of North Carolina’s awful HB2 law.

— Biggest snubs besides “The Americans?” Bokeem Woodbine and Kirsten Dunst in “Fargo,” and HBO’s “All the Way” not getting anything.

— Finally, you think O.J. was allowed to watch the Emmys in his jail cell? I mean, he was pretty much the star of the night.

browns-ravens

**One of those rare stress-free autumn Sundays for me, since the Jets already played on Thursday night (I absolutely loathe Thursday night NFL games, because they’re almost always poorly played, it’s barbaric to make these players play 2 games in four days, and when it’s the Jets, I’m usually too revved up to sleep for hours afterwards).

The early games were pretty dull for a few hours, until we got some outstanding finishes. Some quick-hit thoughts on Week 2…

— So of course the Patriots jumped out to a huge lead thanks to Wonder Boy Jimmy Garoppolo, who then got hurt which meant their 3rd-stringer, Jacoby Brissett, had to come in and the Pats hung on to beat the pathetic Dolphins, 31-24, and now of course Brissett will turn out to be the next Joe Montana and lead New England to two more wins until the ORIGINAL Wonder Boy, Giselle Bundchen’s husband, comes back. Things just always work out for the Patriots.

— I feel like every year I need to publicly thank God that as painful as it is being a Jets fan, it could be worse; I could be a Cleveland Browns rooter. The Browns grabbed a shocking 20-0 lead in the first quarter Sunday over the Ravens, and then, because they’re the Browns, proceeded to give up the next 25 points and lose, 25-20. Thank God LeBron James brought that city a title, because they sure as heck ain’t getting a Super Bowl win anytime soon.

— Great note from writer Alan M. Cole on Twitter Sunday: How old is Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri? He once tackled Herschel Walker. Herschel Walker! Who started his pro career in 1984!

— I didn’t think it was possible, but the officiating seems to be getting even worse this year. A bunch of blown calls Sunday, in the Bengals-Steelers and Giants-Saints games in particular. With replay, this stuff is NOT that difficult.

— The Giants are either the worst 2-0 team ever or the luckiest. They tried really, really hard to give away that 16-13 win over the Saints, but New Orleans refused to take it.

— Funniest part of my day: A guy in my usual sports bar was trying to explain how fantasy football worked to his girlfriend, telling her it’s better if this team’s drive stalls because his kicker needs points, and how it’s good when that guy throws an interception, yada yada yada. Poor woman had the same glazed-over look in her eyes that I used to get in Mr. Pizo’s 11th-grade chemistry class. After about 10 minutes, she gave him a look like, “Enough, I just don’t care.”

Good News Friday: Four major NBA stars vow to speak out against racial violence. A groom’s awesome reaction to his bride walking down the aisle. And the best show on TV FINALLY gets Emmy nominations galore.

It really feels like every day right now, a major tragedy is happening somewhere. If it’s not the police shooting African-Americans for no reason, or a crazed man killing five police officers, or a truck plowing into a crowd in Nice, France on Thursday and killing 77 people, it’s something else.

I can’t remember a year where this many bad things happened (Plus, you know, Donald Trump’s rise).

It’s so easy to get depressed and throw in the towel and say “F it” to the world. But hopefully enough people still see how much good there is out there, and maybe, just maybe, some good can come out of some of these tragedies.

Which leads me to my first Good News Friday stories. For a long time people like me have been waiting for a new generation of superstar athletes to use their enormous platform to try to enact social change (or at least awareness). A few athletes have; LeBron James and Serena Williams among them. But Wednesday night at the usually-meaningless ESPY awards on ESPN, LeBron, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony opened the show with a powerful pledge to become more involved, and to lead the fight against racial injustice.

Will they follow through after these powerful words? I don’t know. But it’s a start, and these four men have enormous followings, and maybe, just maybe, this will be a tipping point for athletes realizing they have the power to do so much good.

**Next up, this video was sent to me by my father a while back but it got lost in the morass that is my inbox, so I finally watched it this week.

And it’s fabulous. It’s a short video of a wedding of Gabriel and Annabelle Deku, and specifically, it shows the incredible emotion Gabriel is overcome with as he watches his beloved walk down the aisle.

The tears flow as he is overcome by the moment; overcome by joy. It’s a beautiful reminder of love.

(And of course after watching that, I had to go back and watch this, still the best wedding entrance video ever.

**And finally today, the Emmy nominations came out Thursday, and for once, I was not angry. Finally, finally, FINALLY, the best show on television, “The Americans” got a bunch of nominations. After being inexplicably shut out for the first three seasons, “The Americans” got a best drama series nod, as well as acting nominations for Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell. I was over the moon excited to see a wonderful show finally get rewarded: I know “Game of Thrones” will win best drama but hey, it’s a start.

Also loved that “Fargo,” “Masters of None,” and “American Crime Story: O.J. Simpson” got a bunch of nominations, and “Better Call Saul”‘s amazing Jonathan Banks was tapped as well.

Great, great job by the Emmy voters this year. To leave on a high note, I give you this wonderful commercial up for an Emmy, from the Ad Council, called “Love has No Labels.”

Love is love. Have a great weekend.

 

An incredible speech, and a sweet hug, remind me what we’ll miss when Obama’s gone. And a real-life version of “The Americans” happened a few years later.

It is easy, now in the beginning of what will be a long, ugly and historically expensive fight to be the next President of America, to romanticize the past.

To remember how hopeful, how enthusiastic, how downright excited millions of us were eight years ago at this time, when a totally new kind of President, a different kind of person than we’d ever campaigned for or tried to get elected, actually shocked the world and got the job.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Barack Obama in the past few weeks, about how he has restored decency and honor to the White House, how after consecutive presidencies marred by blow jobs and death-causing lies and stupidity, he has simply kept his head down and against more dug-in opposition than any President has faced, done a damn good job.

He will be greatly missed, even by those of us who got mad at him sometimes for not accomplishing everything. Two things over the past week made me realize just how terrific a man we’ve had as President really is.

The biggest nostalgia moment for me came when reading and watching Obama’s mesmerizing commencement speech at Howard University last Saturday (it’s embedded above; click here if you just want to read it.) It was an astounding, uplifting, powerful speech, one I think was maybe his best since the 2008 campaign. It was honest and challenging; soaring and grounded in humility all at the same time.

The part that struck particularly for me, as a liberal who has seen freedom of speech suddenly become optional at many college, was this passage:

So don’t try to shut folks out, don’t try to shut them down, no matter how much you might disagree with them. There’s been a trend around the country of trying to get colleges to disinvite speakers with a different point of view, or disrupt a politician’s rally. Don’t do that — no matter how ridiculous or offensive you might find the things that come out of their mouths. Because as my grandmother used to tell me, every time a fool speaks, they are just advertising their own ignorance. Let them talk. Let them talk. If you don’t, you just make them a victim, and then they can avoid accountability.

Exactly. Let the fools speak, then ignore and refute.

It’s a sensational speech, one that moved me to Tweet at Jon Favreau (not the actor, the Obama speechwriter) Saturday night after reading it and asking if Obama wrote it.
Because Twitter is awesome and you have access to people like Favreau who sometimes are nice, he replied that he heard Obama had ” quite a bit to do with it.”

Not surprised. I’m also not surprised by this super-cute video. The President came to Flint last week to discuss the indefensible water situation there, and 8-year-old Amariyanna Copeny was there to greet him. She wrote Obama a letter asking him to come visit, so she is “credited” with helping get him to Michigan.

When they met, well, this happened.

I’m really going to miss this guy. And I’m not alone.

**Finally today, I haven’t been writing much about the best show on TV, “The Americans” this season because we’re usually a few days late watching it, but it has been as incredible as ever (Tangent: My head is still spinning from watching the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas movie “Confirmation” this week and seeing Poor Martha from “The Americans” playing Thomas’ wife in the flick. Martha, how could you go from Clark to Clarence Thomas???) .

Anyway, as fabulous as “The Americans” is, this true story about a real American couple whose teenaged kids one day discovered their parents were Russian spies is mind-blowing. Donald Heathfield and Tracy Foley lived a normal life, so everyone thought, until in 2010 when the FBI showed up.

Tim and Alex Foley tell the story of how their parents’ double-lives were revealed in exacting detail. Truly a fascinating read.

Though I think the tale Henry Jennings from “The Americans” will one day tell a psychiatrist might top it.

 

The best show on TV, “The Americans” returns tonight! Looks like the end for Bernie, and Rubio. And my NCAA Tournament picks, guaranteed to be right

the-americans-season-4

The best show on television returns to the air tonight after what seems like an interminable wait.

And if you’re not watching “The Americans” on FX by now, its fourth season, all I can say is “WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU???”

Sorry to shout. But seriously, if you’re not watching, you’re missing some incredible television. Catch up on the first three seasons and you’ll get why myself, TV critics, and a small legion of fans are so addicted to this show.

When we last saw Phillip and Elizabeth Jennings, our favorite Russian spies living in Washington, D.C., in the early 1980s, they were dealing with the fallout of telling their American teenage daughter who they really were, and of course she was stunned.

Daughter Paige then cracks after only a few episodes of having this knowledge, and in the season finale, told her good buddy Pastor Tim at her church group.

I have no idea what a stranger finally knowing this secret means for Phillip and Elizabeth, and for the incredible cast, like FBI agent Stan Beamon, Phillip’s fake “other wife” Martha, or the Russian embassy in D.C.

But what I do know is “The Americans,” with its incredible writing, powerful acting, and just all-around awesomeness, is a show more people really should be watching.

Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys are amazing as the leads, and I’m very happy that Frank Langella and Margo Martindale appear to both be around this season.

“The Americans,” Wednesday night, 10 p.m. on FX. So psyched to have it back. And I’m going to keep writing about it until everyone watches it.

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**The fat lady is in the back warming up, getting ready to sing.

That’s my No.1 reaction coming out of Tuesday night’s series of Presidential primaries. After a pretty incredible run, that literally no one besides he and his wife (and OK, my mother) saw coming, the end is here for Bernie Sanders.

My favorite old Jewish guy from Vermont and Brooklyn was trounced Tuesday night, losing four states and as of this writing, barely hanging on in Missouri. He really needed to sweep the Midwest to keep this Democratic primary a real contest, and he just didn’t.

I am sad. I’ll have many more thoughts, I’m sure, about Bernie Sanders, and what he’s accomplished in this remarkable few months to make the Democratic Party exciting again to millions of liberals like me. But it’s late and I’m tired and right now, I’m just sad.

Couple other primary night thoughts:

— Trump. Again. Now seeming even more inevitable. And what a giant “fuck you” for him to the world, and the media, to bring his disgusting campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, onto the podium for his victory speech a few days after he allegedly assaulted a female reporter, Michelle Fields. God, will the vast majority of the American people be motivated to vote against this guy. So, so motivated. Ezra Klein of Vox.com explains why Tuesday was such a fantastic night for Hillary on many levels.

— I was dead wrong about Marco Rubio, folks. I said on this blog and everywhere else that when all the dust settled, he’d be the nominee. Silly me, I thought he’d be the best general election candidate. But he wasn’t batshit crazy enough to win primaries, and he turned out to be a terrible campaigner.

— CNN and MSNBC, showing minute after minute of empty podium while waiting for Trump to speak, while Bernie Sanders actually speaks at a rally, tells you all you need to know about the cable news networks, doesn’t it?

miamihurricanes

**Finally today, my favorite four days of the year are about to commence! The NCAA Tournament tips off Thursday (yeah I know the play-in games started Tuesday but come on, the real tournament starts Thursday) and I can’t remember a harder year to fill out my bracket. I couldn’t find as many upsets as I wanted to, but I certainly couldn’t go “chalk” on my Final 4, like so, so many experts seem to have.

Without further ado, some quick thoughts on how I think it’ll shake out. Go ahead and pencil these into your office brackets, I’m never wrong (ha.)

Final 4: Michigan State, Oklahoma, Miami and Xavier. I just have a feeling about the Hurricanes, and Jim Larranaga is one hell of a coach. I’m going with Xavier because I don’t trust UNC’s guard play, and they are a hell of a team, the Musketeers. I’ve got Sparty winning the title.

First-round upsets I really think will happen: Iona over Iowa St. (if you only watch one first-round game, watch that one, 2 p.m. Thursday on TBS; final score may be 100-99); Yale over Baylor (Yale is really, really good); N. Iowa over Texas; and the whopper, Stephen F. Austin, a 14 seed, over West Virginia.

First-round upsets that could happen and I’m not picking them but you wouldn’t be crazy if you did: South Dakota State over Maryland (Terps have underachieved this year; they could go to the Final Four, or lose in first round); Gonzaga over Seton Hall; UNCW over Duke (my Blue Devils are very fragile right now).

— Surprise Sweet 16 teams, because there are always a few: No. 11 Northern Iowa, No. 6 Seton Hall (Pirates have great guards and have played a tough schedule well);

— Best game of the tournament will be: Virginia-Michigan State, for the third time in recent years, in the Elite 8. But Kentucky-Indiana could be lots of fun, too.

Enjoy the madness!

The Emmy Awards were pretty fantastic, with surprise winners and great speeches. A crazy Ole Miss touchdown. And NFL Week 2: Eagles and Giants look awful, Arizona and the Pats soar

jeffrey tambor emmys

I know I’m usually way off when it comes to consensus opinion on these things.

But I thought that was really a fabulous Emmy Awards Sunday night. New winners, surprise winners, excellence being rewarded most places, only a few major snubs that angered my wife and I (Jonathan Banks, you are SO worthy, and don’t even get me started again about “The Americans,” the best damn show on TV, getting totally shut out), some terrific jokes by Andy Samberg (much to my surprise), and some terrific acceptance speeches.

And though I’ve never been a big fan of his, that Tracy Morgan surprise appearance at the end was beautiful TV.

So much to get to, so little time for you to read my blog. Many quick-hit thoughts:

— Viola Davis, hands down, best speech. First-ever African-American woman to win best actress in a drama, and her acceptance was sweet, and also brutally honest.
“The only thing that separates women of color, from anyone else, is opportunity,” she said, to thunderous applause. From quoting Harriet Tubman to her gratitude at winning, Davis was fantastic.

— The dead people montage, always one of my favorites, was actually not filled with that many famous dead TV people. Good job staying alive, TV folks! Leonard Nimoy pretty much had to be “the hammer” at the end, not many other good candidates.

— While we’re on farewells, I loved the little tribute to shows that finished their run this year,  but what in the hell was the train-wreck “The Newsroom” doing in that montage? Show stunk and was cancelled after three seasons! That deserves a “farewell?” Please.

— I’m not a big Samberg fan, but he was pretty good as host. I liked his Donald Trump joke in the open, and his Bernie Sanders and Kim Davis quips were funny, too.

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— Best-dressed? Thought Julia Louis-Dreyfus looked great, as did Marcia Gay Harden and the always-stunning Kerry Washington. Worst-dressed? The wife and I agree: It was Jamie Alexander (above). She looked like she was wearing a Lite-Brite, we agreed (children of the ’80s will get that joke.)

— Jeffrey Tambor (above) was a long-overdue first-time winner, and his speech was moving and beautiful.

— Wanted to see “Silicon Valley” or “Transparent” win best comedy, but I can’t argue with “Veep.” I only watch it occasionally but it’s brilliant and cruelly funny.

— Jon Hamm! Finally! Look, he wasn’t better than Bryan Cranston all those years Cranston won, but he’s a terrific actor and I’m happy he finally won.

–Was really rooting for “This Week Tonight with John Oliver” to win, but you can’t argue with “The Daily Show” triumphing on its way out the door. Loved Stewart’s quip about not hearing applause for six weeks he’s been off-air.

— Why do people keep giving Rob Lowe and John Stamos new TV shows? Was there some sort of vote among all TV-watchers that I missed?

— Finally, I thought Jimmy Kimmel killed with his bit about making up who the winner was.
Really entertaining show. And it finished in three hours!

**Next up, this has to be one of the craziest touchdowns  you’ll ever see. The fact that evil Nick Saban and Alabama were on the short end of it makes it even more enjoyable. Watch Ole Miss score just the way it was drawn up in practice…

Ole Miss ended up winning, which of course makes this play immediately legendary.

**Finally, thoughts on Week 2 in the NFL, on a rare enjoyable Sunday where I don’t have to agonize over the Jets (that comes tonight, on Monday Night Football, where my boys will likely get stomped at Indy.):

— The Giants. Man oh man, how brutal was that? I said on Twitter Sunday that there have been precious few days of my life where I was happy to be a Jets fan and not a Giants fan (Super Bowl wins in my lifetime: Guys in Blue 4, Guys in Green, 0, so yeah…), but Sunday was one of them.
Again New York was in control of the game, leading 20-10 over the Falcons in the 4th quarter. And once again Tom Coughlin’s team found a way to lose. Eli fumbled. The defense crumbled. And the Giants are 0-2, when even though that’s probably what they deserve to be, very easily could be 2-0.

–Meanwhile, the Cowboys are 2-0 and Tony Romo broke his collarbone and will be out eight weeks, and the Eagles look awful on offense. Ladies and gentlemen, your 2015 NFC East champs, the Washington Redskins!
OK, probably not. But it’s suddenly possible…

— Two best teams in the NFL through two weeks? How about Arizona and New England? Cardinals destroyed the Bears in all phases, and the Patriots beat the tar out of a Rex Ryan-coached team (geez, where have I seen that movie before?)

— Finally, can someone please explain to me what the heck has happened to the Detroit Lions? Weren’t they supposed to be good this year?
Oh yeah. They’re the Lions. Sorry, forget I asked.

“The Americans” gets better and better, as “the reveal” is awesome. “The Golden Girls” in LEGO? Yes, please. And some final thoughts on Coach K and Duke getting another ring

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I have raved and raved about the FX show “The Americans” for a couple of years now on my blog.

It’s for my money the best show on television, bar none. The first season was spectacular, last season was equally as good, and this current season, oh my goodness it’s just amazing.

All season, the show has been building up to what happened in last week’s episode (SPOILER ALERT), with Russian spies living in America Philip and Elizabeth Jennings wondering how to tell their teenage daughter Paige who they really are, and that the KGB wants Paige to start becoming a Russian spy as well.

The best TV shows take you by complete surprise even when you know what’s coming, and that’s what happened here. Paige turning the tables on her parents and demanding to know the truth about who they are was so unexpected, and the moment played so perfectly by all the actors involved, that I was clutching a pillow to my chest the whole time.

The final scene last week, with Paige staring at family friend (and oh yeah, FBI agent and next-door neighbor) Stan while her dad sharpens knives in the background, was perfect and breathtaking. No idea what’s going to happen now, whether Paige will get on board and join “the family business” or be so angry and hurt about who her parents really are that she’ll want no part of this life.

This show is so great and forcing us to see the moral and emotional choices these characters make every day. Man, I cannot recommend “The Americans” more. Tonight on FX at 10, and you can catch up on past seasons on Amazon.com.

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**Next up today, my Canadian e-migo Jonathan (an e-migo, for those not fluent, is a friend you only know through email and social media) pointed me to this the other day and I laughed really hard.

Some brilliant (or disturbed) fan of “The Golden Girls” named Sam Hatmaker designed some incredibly realistic recreations of famous scenes from the show, with Blanche, Dorothy, Sophia and Rose made out of plastic.

If LEGO gets 10,000 people to sign this petition in support of authorizing a “Golden Girls” LEGO set, it will be put into production.

Screw all those political causes you’re afraid to sign on for, this is actually important! Do it for all the good people of St. Olaf, Minnesota, who’ve been defamed by Rose Nylund’s stories for all these years. Do it for Stan, Dorothy’s ex-husband who’s a schmuck but couldn’t help it. And do it most of all for the many scorned loves of Blanche Deveraux, who was just too much woman for all of them.

Seriously, go sign this petition.

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**Finally, of course I need to say a few words about Monday night’s fabulous NCAA championship game between Duke and Wisconsin.

It really was a terrific game, even if the officiating was pretty bad both ways (bad for Duke in the first half, bad for the Badgers in the 2nd half, including two calls that definitely went Duke’s way and shouldn’t have).

In talking about the 5th title in the Mike Krzyzewski era, I don’t want to re-hash all the old arguments about why people hate Duke, and why I love ’em (for you newcomers, I fell in love with Duke’s 1986 Final Four team as a 10-year-old and have loved them ever since).

But just a few words about the incredible longevity and consistency in excellence of Coach K, who so many love to hate. He went to his first Final Four 29 years ago. He won his first national title in 1991, and his fifth Monday night. That’s 24 years in between his first and last crowns. No other coach in modern sports history, in any sport, has won titles that far apart with the same team.

Just incredible. He has totally changed how he runs his program over the years, changed styles of play so many times, and changed his attitude on many issues.
But what hasn’t changed is this: He’s if not the greatest, one of the two greatest tacticians in the sport’s history. How he managed his players Monday night through foul trouble was a masterpiece, and his motivational skills are unparalleled.

So hate Duke all you want. But know that Mike Krzyzewski belongs in any conversation with the best ever coaches in any sport.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to find a Duke national championship onesie my kid can wear…

“Mad Men” was awesome this week. You really should be watching “Silicon Valley.” And I’m psyched for “The Americans” season finale

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Haven’t done an all-TV posting in a while, as I’ve been fairly obsessed with the Stanley Cup playoffs, work and other things.

But three quick-hit thoughts on three of my favorite shows going right now:

First, “Mad Men” and I have been in a love-hate relationship for a few years, as I continue to be disgusted by most of Don Draper’s behavior, amused by Roger Sterling’s, and confused by many of the other lackluster storylines.

But the first half of this final season (they’re splitting up the last 14 episodes into two segments, one this year, one last year, because AMC can’t bear to see it go) has been stellar, and last Sunday was one of the best episodes the series has ever done.

(SPOILER ALERT) I love it when the investment you put into characters over years of a TV show pay off, and that’s what happened on “Mad Men” this week, when we had that oh-so-beautiful scene of Don and Peggy in the office, dancing to Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” near the end. Their relationship has always been awkward, alternating between jealousy (of him) and resentment (of her), but this was perfect; two very flawed people who’ve known each other for a decade, realizing they’re not living the kind of lives they wanted, and taking comfort in each other.
Really, really sweet. I also loved the Joan and Bob Benson stuff, with Joan clearly having grown some over the years, and any scene with Roger in a sauna with other naked men is bound to be great, which it was. (I’m even hating Pete Campbell a little less this season. But he’s still an ass.)
One more “Mad Men” left until they take a break until next year, and unlike some seasons, I’ll be sad to see it go.

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**Next up, I came late to the party on the HBO show “Silicon Valley,” but after missing the first few episodes I caught up and have been addicted ever since. If you haven’t seen it, it’s about a group of 20-something, ultra-nerdy Silicon Valley programmers who are trying to get a start-up off the ground before a major competitor does.

You’ve got characters who could easily be stereotypes and unfunny: the brilliant but socially awkward Indian guy, the nervous genius, the way-too-cocky Steve Jobs wannabe, etc. And there are two competing and completely insane billionaire investor rivals, who both want the start-up (called “Pied Piper”) really badly.

But the show is really, really funny. It mines the little moments and turns them hysterical. The Erlikh character in particular is hilarious, and of course Martin Starr (from “Freaks and Geeks” and “Knocked Up”) is terrific as well.

Definitely check out “Silicon Valley” if you can; it’s just funny.

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**Finally, extremely psyched for “The Americans” season finale tonight. I know I’ve raved about it on here a few times in the last few months, but really, I can’t praise this show enough. Things have been getting so tense the last couple of weeks, as danger encircles Phillip and Elizabeth, and maybe their kids.
Larrick is quite the psycho (not a shock, given that he’s an American-turned-Soviet spy, now gone rogue from both), FBI agent Stan is about to sell his country up the creek for a woman he loves (oldest story in the world, but told brilliantly here), and we have no earthly idea still who killed Soviet spies Emmett and Leann in the season opener. I still can’t believe they’re going to turn Stan from being an FBI agent into a spy for the Russians, but this show always surprises me.

I’m also hoping for Granny (the awesome Margo Martindale) to come back tonight and save the day, for Paige Jennings to run off and join the church and flee her parents, and for Henry Jennings to finally get that Intellivision he’s been wanting.

Great, great show.

“The Americans” getting better and better. “The Princess Bride” meets Star Wars. And texting Shakespeare the best revenge for British guy

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Just a little personal plug: I’m covering the NCAA Tournament for ThriveSports.com, and have written a bracket breakdown, since I know some of you are still trying to figure out your office pool picks (“Where the hell’s Mercer, and are they any good?” is a common refrain, I’m sure).  Check it out for some (hopefully) good advice. 

When a TV show has a great debut season, you hope that it’s not just a one-year wonder, and that the creators/writers can find a way to keep making it better.

Happily, I can say that three seasons into Season 2, “The Americans” is better than ever.
I am going to continue to beat the drum for this show, because it’s not doing great in the ratings and it’s the best thing on TV right now (don’t even get me started on “Parenthood,” which continues to infuriate me. Yeah, Adam and Kristina are going to just up and start a school for autistic kids now? Sure, that’s believable and realistic.)

“The Americans,” is a show you should be watching (Wednesdays at 10 on FX), not just because it’s acted brilliantly by Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys, and Noah Emmerich, but because the stories are so compelling. Every instinct in your body tells you that you can’t root for, and be invested in, the lives of Russian spies living in Washington, D.C. in 1982, but you are.

As good as last season was, as we followed Elizabeth and Phillip’s “fake” marriage and their many escapades in service of Mother Russia, this year has taken “The Americans” to a new level, ratcheting up the tension by bringing family concerns to the forefront.

My wife and I were on the edge of our seats for pretty much the whole show last week, and it’s been that way for each of the first three episodes of the season (it’s not too late to catch up!)
Watch this show. It’s better than anything else on TV right now. Trust me.

**Next up, as an enormous fan of “The Princess Bride,” I especially appreciated this: It’s a mash-up video of what would happen if the Inigo-Westley fencing match had happened with lightsabers:

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**And finally, this made me really happy, as a teacher and English major. A 24-year-old guy in the United Kingdom named Edd Joseph was pissed off when he bought a PS3 game console for £80 and the seller failed to deliver the goods.

So Joseph got his revenge by texting the guy the entire works of Shakespeare.

From this story: “He sends it as one text but his victim can only receive them in 160 character chunks – meaning the 37 works of Shakespeare will buzz through in 29,305 individual texts. So far Edd has sent 22 plays including Hamlet, Macbeth and Othello which have been delivered in 17,424 texts.
“He reckons the remaining 15 works will take another few days to send – meaning his adversary’s phone will have been constantly beeping for nearly a week.”

Brilliant. I love it when smart people get revenge on lying jerks. Here’s my question: Think the thief took the time to read them all?”

Read more: http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/Bristol-man-gets-revenge-texting-works/story-20823040-detail/story.html#ixzz2wN8FV9XO
Read more: http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/Bristol-man-gets-revenge-texting-works/story-20823040-detail/story.html#ixzz2wN7wkKXG