Tag Archives: Tina Fey

“Modern Love” an outstanding Amazon show, with awesome cast and sweet stories. A climate change protest delays Harvard-Yale game, fascinatingly. And the Jets stay hot, Ryan Tannehill is unstoppable, and more NFL thoughts

Very rarely do I come across shows like “Modern Love,” the new Amazon streaming series that is adapted from the wildly popular New York Times column that lets New Yorkers tell their unique love stories.

It has a different cast in each of its eight episodes, and the episodes vary wildly in tone. You watch the third episode (my personal favorite), starring Anne Hathaway, and then watch the seventh one, featuring a gay couple looking to hire a surrogate mother, and they’re completely different in almost every way, save for the New York backgrounds.

But the one thing they all have in common: a great heart, and lots of love. I really, really loved this show. It brought together a bunch of A-list actors like Hathaway, Tina Fey, John Slattery, and Catherine Keener, and gave them wonderful material to work with.

One episode (my wife’s favorite) deals with a single woman and her long-term friendship with the doorman at her building. Another follows a couple on a second date, when a broken glass gets lodged in one of their arms and we see the extent of true devotion.

There are serious issues dealt with, and funny issues, and not every episode is perfect (the Fey/Slattery one, oddly considering how great they both are, was maybe our least favorite.)

The power of love courses through each one of “Modern Love”‘s stories, and I found myself wanting more each time. The final episode does something great that I won’t spoil, but is very very satisfying.

Each episode is 30 minutes each, so you can easily binge the whole thing like we did in a week or two.

If you’re looking to feel renewed, about love and life, I highly highly recommend it.

**Next up, this was something very strange and possibly fabulous that happened Saturday: Harvard and Yale, besides being probably the two most prestigious universities in America, have had a long and storied football rivalry, going back more than 100 years.

They’ve played many famous games, including one in 1968 that saw a miracle comeback by Harvard, scoring 16 points in the final 42 seconds of the game, leading to the classic headline in the Harvard Crimson newspaper, “Harvard beats Yale, 29-29.”

Anyway, Saturday’s game turned out to be fabulous, too, with Yale rallying and winning in double overtime, but that’s not why I’m writing about it. At halftime, more than 150 students from both schools stormed the field and disrupted the game for more than hour, nearly causing it to finish in darkness since the Yale Bowl has no lights.

The students were protesting both school’s holdings in the fossil fuel industry, as well as urging the U.S. government to cancel Puerto Rico’s massive debt.

It may be because I’m a liberal who agrees with these positions, but I think it’s great what these students did. Nothing gets more attention in college than a football game, and no game at these two schools gets more attention than Harvard.

So this was a chance to get maximum attention for a cause. Will it work? I have no idea. But whether it’s student groups getting offensive statues taken down from campus, or the names of racists taken off buildings, college kids have been getting results when making protests like this for years.

I say good on them. It’s just a football game, after all.

**Now of course all that said, I’m now going to spend a couple hundred words talking about football games. (Hypocrisy, thy name is Michael Lewis. What can I tell you.)

First I have to start with the stunning, shocking, and downright mystifying 34-3 win by my New York Jets over the previously thought to be pretty good Oakland Raiders.

In the cold and rain of MetLife Stadium (and I can’t for the life of me understand how thousands of fans sat out there in this weather, it was awful here on Sunday), the Jets just destroyed the 6-4 Raiders. Sam Darnold looked awesome, the defense was stifling, and Le’Veon Bell even looked pretty good.

So now my previously-pathetic team is 4-7, with two winnable games upcoming against the putrid Bengals and woeful Dolphins, and it wouldn’t seem so crazy to start dreaming about them being 6-7 and in the playoff hunt in a few weeks.

Except, it’s the Jets, so I know they’ll lose one of these games (hey, they already know how to lose to Miami, they just did it a few weeks ago) so there’s no need to stupidly waste time about saving this season.

Still, nice to see Darnold finally improving and looking like a franchise QB.

In other news from the league where they play for pay…

— I hate the Patriots but man they are really freaking good this year. Tom Brady is basically throwing to high school receivers and they’re hardly scoring the last few weeks but they keep on winning thanks to a ridiculously good defense. I think only Baltimore has a legit shot of stopping a fourth straight Patriots Super Bowl appearance in the AFC.

— Wild game in New Orleans, where God clearly has a sense of humor when he allowed the NFL officials to overturn a non-pass interference call in Carolina’s favor with the game tied at 31 and the Panthers driving inside the Saints 10. Because the football gods didn’t want a riot in the Bayou, New Orleans ended up winning.
But this challenge thing on pass interference calls has been such a joke; hardly any get overturned, even blatantly obvious ones. 

— My friend Buddy S. is a swell guy and I love him, so I had to feel for him a little bit Sunday night. Buddy is a Dolphins fan, so not only has he had to suffer thru a miserable season, not only does he have to watch ex-Jets coach Adam Gase finally start winning with my Jets, but now he’s got to see the former QB of the future for the Dolphins, Ryan Tannehill (that’s him, above), play like Joe Montana the past month for Tennessee.

Tannehill, who was wildly erratic and injury-prone with Miami, has been incredible given a second chance to start. He accounted for four touchdowns Sunday in the Titans’ 42-20 demolition of Jacksonville. Ryan Tannehill, who knew???

— The Redskins won. No, seriously, they did. I checked a few different websites to make sure it was real. But after nine straight losses, they actually won.

— The Bills are 8-3 and the only team they’ve beaten who’s even moderately good is Tennessee. Strangest 8-3 I’ve ever seen. They’re about to play the Ravens, Steelers and Patriots though, so we’ll see how good they really are.

 

Tina Fey returns to “SNL” to eat cake, hilariously. The new app that tells you when is a good time to pee during a movie. And “Episodes” on Showtime is back and I’m super-excited.

We are in strange, strange times, ladies and gentlemen. I don’t think it’s possible for you to forget that, but just in case, I like to remind everyone of that every once in a while.

Before I get into today’s blog, just wanted to share two things with you. First, an amazing catch from the Junior League World Series (kids are aged 13-15) in Pennsylvania on Sunday. This is Jack Regenye of Kennett, Square, Pa., and this is 47 kinds of awesome.

Second, Axios.com, a news/politics website, has a story up on why senior Trump administration officials stay at their jobs when their boss is clearly mentally deficient and/or crazy. The whole story is fascinating, but this story ought to give you the warm and fuzzies on a Monday…

You have no how much crazy stuff we kill,” one of them said.

Well, I feel better now. OK, on with the show…

We begin today with Tina Fey, who always seems to pop up on “SNL” or somewhere else right when we need her. “SNL” is doing short “Weekend Update” shows during the summer, and last Thursday night, in the midst of all the Charlottesville neo-nazi madness, she appeared to be hilarious and eat some cake.

Take it away, Tina, and what she said about Trump as a developer at the 5:35 mark had me laughing out loud…

**Next up today, there are some apps that we all know are completely useless, and serve no purpose. This one I’m about to tell you about? Genius, and totally useful.

You know when you’re in a movie theater watching a flick, and you’ve really got to go to the bathroom but you’re afraid you’ll miss the best part? Of course you do, we’ve all had that happen.

But suffer no more, my friends. Let me introduce you to RunPee, an iPhone app that you start right when the movie begins, and then it buzzes in your pocket when a boring part is coming up, letting you know it’s safe to go do your business.

This article in The Guardian tested out RunPee and showed that, for example, the best time to pee during Casablanca is minute 59, just after Ilsa and Laszlo have failed to get a pair of exit visas from fez-sporting kingpin Ferrari.

The Shawshank Redemption? Right after Andy gives Red a harmonica. The Godfather? Right after “Take the cannoli” is uttered.

Seriously, this app is a fantastic idea. Sure, lots of movies you see you wouldn’t mind missing the whole thing. But with RunPee, you can be assured you won’t regret drinking that 32 ounce Coke during the previews.

What a time to be alive!

**Finally today, I’ve been waiting two darn years for one of my favorite TV shows to finally come back on the air, and Sunday night it actually did. “Episodes,” on Showtime, is a program I’ve raved about in this space before, and it’s one of the most underrated, consistently funny shows you will find.

It’s been so long since this hilarious show about Matt LeBlanc (playing himself) and two British sitcom writers navigating their way through network TV hell has been on, I’d almost forgotten how great it was.

Well, we watched the season premiere a few days ago and I’m thrilled to report it’s as funny as ever. LeBlanc’s deadpan expressions kill me, the Brits Bev and Sean have amazing chemistry, and Merc is still Merc and Carol is still Carol.

Here’s the trailer for Season 5 (the final season, sadly). Sunday nights, 10 pm, Showtime. Watch. This. Show.

“Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” a funny and moving look at war reporting in Afghanistan. Two incredible kids with big voices blow me away. And Nathan Lane and Keri Russell play “Pyramid” on Fallon.

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Quick Wednesday morning edit: “BER-NIE!” BER-NIE! BER-NIE!” Yuuuge win in Michigan last night for Senator Sanders. Not a “game-changer” yet, but man, it makes the next few weeks even more interesting. OK, on with the show…

“I’m leaving because this is becoming too normal,” Kim Baker says toward the end of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.” “And this place is really, not normal.”

I don’t generally like war movies, and I generally haven’t liked many of Tina Fey’s movies so far, either (I did thoroughly enjoy “Mean Girls” but she was almost a bit player in that.)

But we went to see “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” last Saturday night because it looked like my kind of movie, it told an important story about the never-ending Afghanistan war, and the third reason maybe most importantly, it fit into our schedule.

And with lines like that one above, as TV war correspondent Kim Baker (Fey) comes to grips with why she must finally leave Afghanistan after three years, “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” got me.

This is a really interesting, good movie, with terrific acting by Fey (seriously, she’s sensational here), Margot Robbie, Martin Freeman and others. A bored local news reporter looking for adventure in 2003, Baker responds to a volunteer request from her editor asking if any reporters want to go to Afghanistan.

Of course when she arrives we get the typical “fish out of water” scenes, as Baker had no clue what life in Kabul is really like (Loved it when Robbie, the only other prominent woman in the film as a rival reporter, tells her that physical appearance-wise, a “6 in New York is like a 9 here.”)

But as Baker adjusts to life in the “Ka-bubble” in Kabul, the movie really takes off. We see her with a gruff drill-seargeant (Billy Bob Thornton), starting a relationship with another reporter (Freeman, who’s as great in this as he was in the first season of “Fargo,”) and over time become very attached to Afghanistan as she fights her news department bosses in New York for more airtime.

Fey is so likable as an actress that even when Baker gives you some groan-worthy moments, you’re still rooting for her.

The movie is also a pretty accurate commentary on our media consumption priorities; just like people in the 1960s learned to tune out TV news on Vietnam War, Afghanistan got lost in the U.S. media shuffle as the years went by, and it’s a damn shame. That war is going on 13 years now, and despite President Obama’s promises back in 2008, isn’t ending anytime soon. One quibble with the movie: We really don’t see too many Afghan citizens and the suffering they go through on a daily basis, but then again, this movie is focused on the reporters more than the place itself.

“Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” isn’t a classic, but it’s definitely worth seeing.

**OK next up today, one of my Facebook friends, Tracy L., posted this incredible video yesterday and I just had to share it. It’s a clip from a Hong Kong singing show modeled on “The Voice”, and it features Celine Tam and Jeffrey Li, two little kids with huge voices.

They’re going to be on the new Ellen Degeneres variety show “Little Big Shot” debuting this Sunday on NBC. This version of “You Lift Me Up” is absolutely breathtaking. Such huge voices for such small people!

**And finally today, I think I wrote a blog post a few years ago about how my all-time favorite game show was “25,000 Pyramid.”

Jimmy Fallon had Keri Russell (star of “The Americans,” which comes back next week and you better believe I’ll be writing a blog post about it), and Nathan Lane on his show last week to play “Pyramid,” and I thought it was pretty funny.

Lane is terrible at first, but gets much better.

“Billions” a new show I’m excited about. Tina Fey as Sarah Palin, hilarious again. And the supermarket freezer that can read your facial expression (seriously)

Damian Lewis as Bobby "Axe" Axelrod and Paul Giamatti as Chuck Rhoades in Billions (Season 1, Episode 1). - Photo: JoJo Whilden/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: Billions_101_5107.R

I’m a little hesitant to get too excited about TV shows too early in their run, because a lot of times they run out of steam pretty quickly (see, “Homeland,” “New Girl,” and “Nurse Jackie,” just to name a few).

But I had extremely high hopes for the new “Billions” show on Showtime that premiered two weeks ago, simply because of the two leads: Damian Lewis, so fantastic as Brody on “Homeland,” and Paul Giamatti, who’s been awesome in every movie I’ve ever seen him in, from “Cinderella Man,” to “Sideways” to “Private Parts.”

After two episodes, my verdict is this: Watch. This. Show. It’s damn good.

The plot is this: Chuck Rhoades (Giamatti) is the U.S attorney in Manhattan who prosecutes white-collar Wall Street crimes by day, and enjoys a little S&M with his wife at night (so far just one scene of that, but … man.) Bobby Axelrod (Lewis) is a billionaire hedge fund manager who rose up from nothing to become one of the richest men in the world. He’s smug, he’s arrogant, he’s charming, and Lewis plays him with just the right amount of likability.

Right away it’s established that Chuck is going to try to take down Axelrod, by any means necessary, and score his biggest criminal conviction yet. One possible complication? Chuck’s wife is Axelrod’s closest confidant, a sort-of “life coach meets problem-solver) for Axelrod’s firm.

The show is smartly written, really well acted by everyone (David Costabile, a great “That Guy” who played Gale on “Breaking Bad,” is also great as Axelrod’s consigliere at the firm) and has a lot of room to grow. I was fully hooked at the end of last week’s second episode, when Axelrod tells a great story about why he’s so determined to buy naming rights to an old NYC building from a family that’s owned it for decades.

I don’t know if “Billions” is going to stay this good, but we’re hooked. Sunday nights at 10 on Showtime.

Brody, it’s like we hardly knew ye.  Watch the trailer below.

**Next up, I meant to put this in the blog on Monday but it was running long already and I figured it’d still be funny two days later

And it is. Tina Fey, who really should win an Emmy or a Nobel Prize or something for playing Sarah Palin all these years, was back at it last week on “Saturday Night Live” since the former Governor of Alaska was in the news for endorsing The Donald. (By the way, a scary but pretty fantastic analysis of why Trump is likely to be the nominee was written by Josh Marshall of TPM on Tuesday; I still don’t think Trump will be the nominee in the end, but Marshall makes some excellent points, the best being: All these GOP leaders think they can mold him into whatever they want, since he has no principles of his own.)

From the opening line of the skit, Fey has me in hysterics. Enjoy.

**Finally today, I love stories about robots and machines taking over the world, and this is one I hadn’t heard before.

At the National Retail Federation’s Big Show in New York City last week, a  mind-blowing product was revealed: A grocery store freezer case that can help you decide what you want to buy by reading your facial expression through cameras installed on top of it. It makes suggestions and shares ingredients and product information by using the glass door in front as a screen.

There’s a camera on it that gives data on your facial expressions back to the companies whose products are inside, it analyzes who walks by by their gender and feeds real-time stats back to companies.

I, of course, have lots of questions: First, will people feel shame reaching for the Tombstone pizzas they know they shouldn’t eat, if a camera is watching? If enough people make sad faces at the brussels sprouts, will we finally be rid of them?
And most importantly, isn’t this just a little too creepy, even for 2016? I know we’re being watched everywhere, but a man (or woman) should be able to pig out and not have anyone notice.

Except, you know, the cashier in aisle 7, who’s totally judging you.

Bernie Sanders, not such a liberal darling after all on guns. Tina Fey hilariously strips down on Letterman. And the 5-Hour Energy people, not so charitable

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Barely breathed from 9-10 p.m. Sunday night, as my beloved New York Rangers nearly gave me a heart attack but hung on and held off a furious Capitals rally to win Game 6, 4-3, and even their Stanley Cup playoff series at 3.
Amazing. Rangers were down 3-1 in the series, and now they get Game 7 at MSG on Wednesday night.  Henrik Lundqvist is the best money goalie in the world.
Man, hockey playoffs are the best… but not so good for my health.
On with the show…

For the past two weeks, since he announced he was running for President as, so far, the only challenger to Hillary Clinton, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has been riding a wave of positive publicity in the media, getting liberals like me excited that Mrs. C (shout out to Marion Ross!) will get at least a little test, and becoming more of a national name, a trend that will surely continue for awhile.

But late last week came a story that stopped me short, and lots of other liberals I know, short. Slate.com published a pretty scathing, but accurate, story showing Sanders’ very un-liberal voting record when it comes to guns.

Bernie’s not only pro-gun, he’s extremely pro-gun, vetoing background-check legislation and uttering some very NRA-approved comments after the Sandy Hook shooting. (“If you passed the strongest gun control legislation tomorrow, I don’t think it will have a profound effect on the tragedies we have seen.”)

Bernie doesn’t talk about guns much; he’s much better prepared and strongly on the left when it comes to economic inequality, our reckless foreign wars, and spending cuts.

This gun defense is going to really hurt him, and I’m sure it’s already lost him some votes.

I’m not ready to give up on him yet, because there is no “perfect” candidate. But I very much would like to hear his response to those who rightly see him as a big NRA supporter. I know Vermont is a very pro-gun state, and I know he’s elected to serve the wishes of his constituents. Still, his votes are very much at odds with most Democrats.

Will be interesting to see how he responds.
Meanwhile, is there anyone in the Republican party NOT running for President? So happy we’ll get all these wingnuts together on a debate stage soon…

**Next up, I’ll probably be posting of a lot of these “David Letterman farewell” moments until he signs off on May 20, because so many celebrities want to pay tribute to Dave, who I love.
Some of them will surely be touching and emotional; others, more like this hilarioius Tina Fey stunt.

Seems Tina doesn’t like having to always get dressed up when she does Dave’s show, so she decided to dress down.

**Finally today, my boy Jeff Pearlman is one of my best friends, and he’s done me lots of favors over the years, so when he’s fired up about something and asks me to share his outrage, I do my best to summon it. He wrote this post on his excellent blog last Friday, about the odious “charitable” endeavors of the 5-Hour Energy company, who make a pretty nauseating product (I tried it once and hated the taste).

It seems the company is running these heartwarming commercials saying that with every bottle of their yucky liquid sold, they’re making a donation to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, a charity that helps children of deceased military members receive a 100-percent paid-for college education.

Except, if you look closer (as Jeff did), 5-Hour Energy is only kicking in ONE NICKEL for every can sold.

The ad is emotional manipulation at its finest, and pretty despicable that the company is painting themselves as huge supporters of this foundation.

Read Jeff’s much-better rant here.

 

Tina and Amy, and surprise winners, make me happy at the Golden Globes. And thoughts on the end of Peyton Manning, a terrible call against the Cowboys, and other NFL musings

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The worst part of last night’s Golden Globes show for me was not the ridiculousness of “The Affair” winning best dramatic TV show, or that I got creeped out upon learning that 56-year-old Kevin Spacey is dating 31-year-old Kate Mara (I mean, that’s pretty wrong, right?).

The worst part was hearing Tina Fey and Amy Poehler say that it would be their last time hosting. Their chemistry last night was again fantastic, with my favorite bits being, of course, mocking George Clooney’s “Lifetime Achievement Award” by listing all the amazing real-life accomplishments his new wife Amal Alamuddin has.

Love Tina and Amy for their wit and charm.
Some other musings from my brain (and as always during awards shows, my wife’s brain) on a pretty entertaining Globes:

— So happy, first of all, that two of my favorite pieces of entertainment last year got lauded properly: Loved seeing “Boyhood” win three major awards, because it’s truly the best movie I’ve seen in the past five years (my original review of it here.), and loved that “Transparent” and Jeffrey Tambor took home two big awards. Tambor’s speech was terrific.

— Best dress of the night, as chosen by the wife: Jennifer Aniston, with a runner-up spot to Amy Adams.

— How hilarious is it that Alison Tolman, who played the Frances McDormand character in the “Fargo” TV show, competed in the same category Sunday as McDormand herself, being nominated for “Olive Kitteridge?” That was just weird.

— Great speeches by Matt Bomer, Kevin Spacey, and Patricia Arquette. And Clooney’s line about “if you’re in this room, you’ve caught the brass ring” and his tribute to his wife were really sweet.

— Best Twitter line I saw last night was from TV critic James Poniewozik, who said after “Transparent” won:  “Also let’s just take a moment and recognize that the award for Best Comedy was won by an online bookstore.”

–Finally, I liked how most speeches weren’t rushed off the stage. For many of these people, this is their one moment in the sun, so I want to hear people like Gina Rodriguez pay tribute to her family.

**So the NFL divisional playoffs always seem to give us a couple of great games among the four, and this weekend was no exception.

The Packers-Cowboys game, which I only saw bits and pieces of (was at my nephew’s rockin’ 10th birthday party Sunday), was a classic, and Baltimore-New England Saturday night was an old-school shootout.

But the lingering memories for me of this football weekend will be twofold: 1, The end of Peyton Manning as an elite NFL quarterback, and 2, NFL instant replay has gotten out of control, and for idiotic rules to decide the outcome of a team’s season is just ridiculous.

First, couple thoughts on Peyton: I love this guy, have loved him ever since he was in Knoxville. I’ve defended him against critics, been thrilled when he won a Super Bowl, and laughed at his great sense of humor on “SNL” and in commercials.
So it’s been really painful watching his last two playoff games, last year’s Super Bowl and Sunday’s desultory loss at home to Indy.
Peyton’s finished. He really looks done. His throws sailed high, low, all over the place yesterday; in short, he looked like Ryan Lindley or Kyle Orton on some of them.
When he really needed to make a play, he just couldn’t get it done. Look, the guy’s had an amazing career, and he’s one of the 5 best QBs to ever play. The fact he came back from four neck surgeries to be as good as he was before is incredible.
But I think it’s finally just about over for Eli’s brother. And I’m a little sad about it.
Now, for the Dez Bryant catch … and that’s what it was, it was a freaking catch. I hate the Cowboys, hate Dez Bryant and his selfish, look-at-me all the time histrionics, but if the play he made late in the fourth quarter to give the ‘Boys a first and goal and a chance to take the lead is not a catch, then I’ve never seen a catch in my life.
He leaped, caught the ball, came down with two feet inbounds, landed, reached for the goal-line as he was being tackled, and then the ball moved slightly.

The refs on the field thought it was a catch. Eighty thousand fans at Lambeau thought it was a catch. No one on the Packers sideline could honestly think it wasn’t a catch.

And then the replay official overruled the call, and the Cowboys lost a chance to score, and everybody was incredulous.

It’s just so silly. Instant replay is around to get calls right, and correct egregiously bad ones. Calls like yesterday’s on Bryant just take the game away from the players, and it’s just so wrong.

Still, looking forward to Sunday. I predict a Packers-Patriots Super Bowl.

“This is How I Leave You” pretty good flick, but could’ve been better. An incredible PSA about Syrian suffering. And the baseball playoffs get off to an incredible start

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With a fantastic cast and some legit funny moments in the trailer, I figured “This is How I Leave You” would at least be good for a few laughs. Best-case scenario, it’d be great, a real pleasant surprise.

And at times, this movie was really, really good, and had me and the wife chuckling pretty hard.
It was almost a great movie, except it had two major flaws: Everything that happened in the last 30 minutes was totally implausible, and a movie about a dysfunctional family reuniting after a loved one’s death had already been made recently, and it was much better. “August: Osage County” was the film “This is How I Leave You” wanted to be, it seemed, but couldn’t quite get there.

Still, it had a lot of good moments. Jason Bateman, as the seemingly-normal brother of the Altman clan, was excellent; Tina Fey, in a strange role for her was also great, as was Adam Driver and the criminally-underused Connie Britton (I love me some Mrs. Coach).

The movie just relied on way too many leaps of faith (really? A whole Little League team is in the emergency room at that time near the end when the cursing and the brawling begins?), and the story went in too many directions at once, like it didn’t trust the main storyline too much.

Still, it was a 2 1/2 star flick, so probably worth your time.

 

**Next up, with all the attention that the U.S. war on ISIS has been getting, its easy to forget just how miserable it has been for citizens of Syria the past five years.
Especially for children. Check out this remarkable PSA from an organization called The Syria Campaign. Hard to watch, and heartbreaking, but so well-done…

Kansas City Royals v Chicago White Sox

**Finally, that was one of the most amazing baseball games I’ve ever seen Tuesday night.

The Oakland A’s and Kansas City Royals went back and forth, with the Royals being down 7-3, improbably rallying to 7-7, and finally winning 9-8 in the 12th inning.

Kansas City and Oakland both in the playoffs got me thinking: One of the reasons baseball lost tons of fans in the 1990s and early 2000s, besides the glacial pace of the game and rampant steroid use, is that it seemed like the same teams were always winning and playing for the World Series.
It was the Yankees, the Red Sox, the Braves, the Cardinals… and everybody else. More money was spent by the major markets, and everyone else was playing for scraps.
But it’s been a long time since that was true; just about everyone has a shot to win in today’s MLB, and it’s one of the reasons the baseball playoffs are still exciting to me, even though I barely follow the sport for six months.
Look at who’s in the playoffs this year: Kansas City. Oakland. Pittsburgh. Baltimore. All teams that a few years ago were sad-sack losers, but who now have a chance to win it all.
It was awesome to see the K.C. fans get excited about their team being in the postseason for the first time since “Back to the Future” came out.
In baseball, everybody’s got a shot. And that’s great to see.

“Muppets Most Wanted” almost as much fun as the last movie. I hold my nose and root for UConn tonight. And R.I.P., John Pinette

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One of the first things that my wife and I bonded over when we first started dating was our love of The Muppets.
I mean, yes, everybody loves The Muppets, but she really, really, really loves the Muppets. Like, more than is probably normal.

So of course we saw the first Muppets movie of their “reunion”, the one that came out two years ago and starred Jason Segel and the always-awesome Amy Adams, along with new Muppet Walter.
And it was fantastic. Funny, smart, and the songs were great, too.
So of course, we had to see the sequel, though unfathomably it took us two weeks of being in the theaters for us to catch it, finally seeing it Sunday.

It was good. About as good as I expected. It wasn’t as good as the last film, but hey, it was a sequel, so you can’t have too high hopes.
Ricky Gervais was really good, playing “Dominic Badguy” which is such a Muppets movie name for a character. Tina Fey was great as (naturally) a Russian prison warden in love with Kermit, and Ty Burrell brought the funny as a bumbling Interpol officer.

I’d explain the plot to you but would it matter? It’s just ridiculous enough to keep you interested, and the jokes, as expected, went over most kids’ heads but made the grown-ups laugh.

The roster of cameos is typically bizarre and varied for a Muppets movie: We get everyone from Usher, to Ray Liotta, to Salma Hayek, to James McAvoy, to P. Diddy, and they all contribute something.
And the songs are once again really good, and we left the theater happy that the Muppets are back.

Can’t ask for much more than that. Go see “Muppets Most Wanted,” with or without kids, if only for the fantastic final musical number. It was fabulous.

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**A sad night tonight for me and other college basketball diehards, as the national championship game is played, followed by “One Shining Moment,” the greatest three minutes of the television year in my opinion. It should be a great game, but it’s sad because it’s the last meaningful men’s game until November.

It’s tough for me to root for either Connecticut or Kentucky tonight, because I hate both programs intensely. I hate UConn because they dealt my Duke boys two of the most painful defeats of my lifetime, in the 1999 title game and in the 2004 Final Four, and because the Huskies under Jim Calhoun were a dirty program run by a classless lout.

I can’t root for Kentucky, of course, because they’re coached by Satan and have the most obnoxious fans in human history.
Still, when it comes to Satan or UConn, I’ve got to pick the Huskies. (My preview, with keys to the game, should be up on ThriveSports.com by the time you read this) I think Kentucky will win because they are a better team, but both teams have been winning so improbably these last three weeks that I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see UConn win.

Come on Huskies, don’t make me and America watch John Friggin’ Calipari cut down the nets again. That’s just a miserable sight for so many.

**Finally today, sad news Sunday that John Pinette, a hilarious stand-up comedian and a guest star on the very last episode of “Seinfeld,” died at age 50 of a pulmonary embolism.

Pinette, the heavy-set guy who always poked fun at himself, is one of those comedians I discovered 20 years ago on some cable comedy show, and I remember laughing so hard my sides hurt when I first heard is “four hour” Chinese buffet routine (above).

He was a funny, funny man, and he’ll be missed. We can never have enough laughter in this world.

http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/wireStory/comedian-john-pinette-50-dies-pa-hotel-23216157

A pretty tame Golden Globes, with some surprise winners. And the NFL gets a couple of great title game matchups

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The Golden Globe Awards are always like the drunk cousin of the Oscars: They’re rude, they’re boisterous, sometimes they make no sense, but they’re almost always a good time.

Sunday night the Globes were kinda less crazy than usual, but were still pretty fun thanks to Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, who again did a kick-ass job at hosting (Seriously, why can’t the People In Charge let them host the Oscars?) From their opening monologue poking fun at George Clooney and Bradley Cooper, to Poehler making out with Bono, they were great as always.  (And of course, their best line: “Now, like a supermodel’s vagina, let’s now all give a warm welcome to Leonardo DiCaprio.”)
Lots of other thoughts my trusted awards review co-writer wife and I wrote down while watching the show:

— Fashion review first: I don’t know what the hell Zoe Saldana was wearing but it was ugly, Paula Patton (above) looked like a peacock, and Drew Barrymore’s dress was way awkward-looking.

— Jennifer Lawrence couldn’t be more adorable. She really seems down to Earth, and super-talented. I just hope she stays that gracious and humble as she seems now.

— Very glad to see so many of the big awards spread around. I was mad Michael Fassbender lost for “12 Years a Slave,” (though Jared Leto was terrific in “Dallas Buyers Club,”) and Jon Voight winning over Aaron Paul is a joke, and I’m only halfway through Season 2 of “Breaking Bad.

But I was thrilled Amy Adams won for “American Hustle,” and that Spike Jonze got best screenplay. Really, no one movie was the big winner, which was rare and nice to see.

— The speeches were mostly boring, but Jacqueline Bisset was oddly crazy, and Cate Blanchett was hilarious at the end, admitting she was drunk and then rambling for a while.

— NBC, we get it, Fallon is taking over “The Tonight Show.” Thanks for the 47 commercials.

— Has Bono ever had an awkward moment in his life? The man is the epitome of cool. Loved hearing him and U2 talk about how much Nelson Mandela meant to them.

— Was it just me, or did Robin Wright and Jennifer Lawrence look a little bit too much alike Sunday night?

— How the hell did Taylor Swift get such a good seat near the front? What movie has SHE ever been in?

–Finally, very happy to see “12 Years A Slave,” shut out for most of the night, win the best drama award. As I wrote back when I saw it, this is such an important, moving film, and hopefully the more awards it wins, the more people will see it.

And now, the Oscar countdown begins …

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**And now to the football. I can’t be the only one who was watching the fourth quarter of Sunday’s Denver-San Diego game going, “Jesus, is a Peyton Manning-led team going to collapse yet again in the playoffs?”
Thankfully, they did not, and now next Sunday ought to be a sensational day of football.

For the AFC title we get the 412th (OK, 17th) duel between the two greatest quarterbacks of this generation, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. And then the NFC gives us one of the suddenly-fiercest rivalries in the sport, with the 49ers going up to the insanely-loud Seattle Seahawks stadium and trying to get to a second straight Super Bowl.

Should be terrific.  My early pick is Denver and Seattle making the Super Bowl, but I’ve bet against Brady before and been very, very wrong. But it would be pretty cool to see Peyton try to win a Super Bowl in Eli’s home stadium, no?

Couple other quick thoughts from the weekend of football:

— I’ve been watching this sport for three decades, and I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a game with more trash-talking and showboating than the Niners-Panthers game. I mean, every freaking play these idiots were glorifying themselves, or shit-talking their opponent. Can anyone just shut up and play?

–Andrew Luck reminds me an awful lot of Brett Favre. Gunslinger mentality, forces lots of throws, can win you or lose you any game at any time. Boy is he going to be fun to watch the next 10 years.

Can’t wait till next Sunday.