RNC: Night Two Predictions

6:18 pmReince Preibus is forced to comment when the media exposes a “Roger Ailes Defense Fund” fundraiser that features a cardboard standup of former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson in the lobby of Quicken Loans Arena. Convention goers are encouraged to have their photos taken with cardboard Gretch as they put their hands on her boobs. At $20 a pop, organizers are able to raise more than $90,000 before they’re shut down

7:15 pm–Several RNC staffers are interviewed leaving the arena after being fired. At least twelve of them were dismissed by Trump after telling the nominee that they couldn’t get a B-2 flyover to happen indoors. The staffers express relief at “being able to get the hell out of Cleveland”




7:49 pm–Melania Trump addresses the delegates. Thirty seconds in, they realize she’s delivering The Gettysburg Address. As they begin booing, Mrs. Trump deftly switches and starts reciting the lyrics to American Pie




8:16 pm–The nominee introduces his daughter Tiffany as “the daughter I only kind of want to bang”

9:03 pm–Trump brings the ballpark idea of the “Kiss Cam” to the RNC, but it turns tragic when a 75-year-old delegate from Arkansas has a heart attack while making out with a hot 68-year-old. Trump is seen motioning for the EMTs to get the deceased man “the hell out of here” before Ted Nugent’s set




10:10 pmScott Baio is heard in the hospitality suite complaining that he couldn’t find a woman under 45 to take back to the hotel. He also complains that everyone keeps calling him “Chachi” and they all seem to have forgotten “Charles in Charge”, which is also the name of the sex move he wanted to show someone under 45 in his hotel room

11:06 pmChris Christie passes out after minute six of his speech when his blood sugar falls dangerously low. It takes a while for medical personnel to realize something is wrong, as his eyes have been lifeless since April. Trump, once again, violently urges the EMTs to “get him the hell out of here”, so that Charlie Daniels can perform his stirring anthem “Obama, You Suck”

11:33 pm–Day two is gaveled to a halt after an impromptu salute to Roger Ailes. An unidentified old man chases Kimberly Guilfoyle around the stage and attempts to grab her butt. The crowd cheers when Guilfoyle trips, but the 83-year-old man is unable to capitalize, as he sustains a fatal heart attack. Trump, once again, tells the EMTs “get him the hell out of here” because his crews need to put up the replica set from Caligula for night three

Netflix Original: The Fundamentals of Caring

If Paul Rudd was discovered to have the (ahem) “Bill Cosby problem”, I’m pretty sure that America would fall into a depression and cry for days. Currently, Rudd is competing with Chris Pratt over (seemingly) the title of  NICEST GUY EVER. I pray that neither one of them gets caught banging the babysitter so much as jaywalks

Rudd’s character Ben has a secret in The Fundamentals of Caring and he spends an hour and a half running from it, but not in the way that people do in John Grisham movies. He’s suffered a trauma and tries to bury it by caring for Trevor (Craig Roberts), a young man suffering from Duchenne muscular dystrophy, which is as bad as it sounds. At first, Ben and Trevor clash, but then an impromptu road trip bonds them and they deal with the awful stuff that’s making them miserable

Along the way, they pick up Dot (Selena Gomez) and Peaches (Megan Ferguson), the latter of whom is extremely pregnant. Our unhappy quartet attempt to mesh into a dysfunctional family as they seek out cheesy roadside attractions and, ultimately, seek out Trevor’s horrible, estranged father (Frederick Weller)

Selena Gomez and Craig Roberts
Selena Gomez and Craig Roberts

One hidden gem in the cast is Trevor’s mother, Elsa, played by Jennifer Ehle. Ehle plays Elsa as no-nonsense English woman, who has been worn down by her son’s disease and her husband’s desertion, but she also has an undeniable vulnerability. Elsa’s doesn’t coddle Trevor, but she shows great concern when Ben suggests taking him more than an hour from his house for the first time ever. The greatest compliment I can give Ehle is that I was left wanting more Elsa

I am loathe to pile on the late, lamented Vinyl (as I did here), but the five minutes of Bobby Cannavale that we get in The Fundamentals of Caring are better than everything he did in the (lamented) first only season of Vinyl

Fundamentals comes from the mind of Rob Burnett, who was David Letterman’s right-hand man for many years. Some will find tonal qualities similar to the Apatow Empire, but I also detected a little hint of We Need To Talk About Kevin and the slightest aroma of Little Miss Sunshine. Not entirely a comedy, but also not strictly a drama. Netflix has once again shown that it’s investment into original content makes for quality programming. While Fundamentals may not be in the same league as HBO’s excellent All the Way, it’s another “date night” winner for Netflix

The Fundamentals of Caring is now streaming on Netflix

Brexit: The Next Year in the UK

June 30, 2016–In a tragic misunderstanding, The Duchess of Cambridge throws Prince William‘s wardrobe and personal effects onto the front lawn of Kensington Palace, saying that she had to expedite the process, as, in the future, there would be fewer immigrants to help her with the task

July 4, 2016–Donald Trump produces a gigantic American-themed fireworks show near the London Eye, complete with John Philip Sousa marches blaring to the crowd and free nachos for everyone. Many people who voted for the Brexit seem happy, but a little confused by the celebration

July 5, 2016–Trump declares his intention to stick around for a few days in England to help dismantle the NHS. This offer is roundly rejected, but Trump saves face by giving out coupons for free rounds of golf

Credit: CNN
Credit: CNN

August 13, 2016–In another misunderstanding, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley ships the entire state surplus of confederate flags to Queen Elizabeth

September 10, 2016–Sir Paul McCartney briefly considers renouncing his British citizenship and becoming Canadian, but quickly decides it’s not that bad

November 12, 2016–Following Trump’s victory in the U.S. presidential election, the President-Elect phones the Queen and asks if there’s anything that would not allow him to also be Prime Minister. Queen Elizabeth faints, but, fortunately, is caught by three servants before she can suffer a concussion

December 15, 2016–President-Elect Trump threatens to bomb Scotland if they decide to stay in the European Union. White House aides change the nuclear codes for the sixth time that day

February 9, 2017–Former Prime Minister David Cameron is seen weeping as he strolls through the streets of London mumbling “What went wrong? Who am I? Why am I here?”


March 21, 2017–The English Tourism Commission releases their new slogan “Still Zika Virus Free”

April 8, 2017–A special commission releases it’s findings that the alarming lack of violence at football matches is due to a national malaise over the Brexit. Fortunately, a majority of Britons still think Manchester United are rubbish

May 26, 2017–After being taunted by Germany for the better part of a year over the effects of the Brexit, England bans German porn. This triggers an economic crisis, but President Trump promises that America will step in to consume even more than ever before


Rush Limbaugh: Anatomy of an Obsession

It’s important, as we careen towards November, that Rush Limbaugh‘s single-minded focus on the Clintons is the main reason that his media empire grew to such great heights during the 1990s. At this point, lobbing verbal bombs at Hillary seems almost reflexive. Listeners would tune in on their radios daily during the Clinton administration to hear Rush attacking Bill and Hillary for any number of sins (Whitewater, Travelgate, etc.)

And so it came to pass that the radio show wasn’t enough of a platform for spotlighting the sins of Bill and Hillary Clinton. Rush Limbaugh, the TV show ran in syndication for four years and was produced by future Fox News head honcho Roger Ailes. In fact, there has been much speculation that had the Limbaugh TV show been more successful, Ailes would not have been available to crank up Fox News

Limbaugh’s television show was supposed to be an conservative alternative to those late night shows that were (allegedly) brainwashing America with their liberal slant. After all, how many times did parents shake their head in horror at some lefty drivel spouted by Arsenio Hall (answer: None)

One particular incident from the Limbaugh TV show is particularly instructive and we’ll work from this source material

It was November 6, 1992 and America had just elected it’s first Baby Boomer president. Millions of Americans were becoming comfortable with the First Family to be and the prospect of having the first child in the White House since Amy Carter in the 1970s. This You Tube video is our best visual preservation of Mr. Limbaugh’s TV show from 11/06/92 and a transcript will help us navigate what happened


It’s unclear why Mr. Limbaugh is wearing a hat which appears to rep Yale. I’m not sure if he’s paying tribute to his fallen leader, George H.W. Bush or sending a bat signal to his future leader, George W. Bush, but I’m sure that, whatever the reason, it’s hilarious. Perhaps Yale had just instructed women on campus that “no means no” or some other liberal claptrap

In any case, the master is riffing on a piece by David Hinckley of the New York Daily News

So, my friends, in today’s New York Daily News right here, holding it here in my formerly nicotine-stained fingers, it’s the obligatory in-out list. Every time there’s a massive change somewhere, people are in, people are out. I’m now out. It says about me on here, Rush Limbaugh, loud-mouthed conservative and Bush favorite, trusts no one to the left of Pat Buchanan. He’s out.’ You know, they wish. In their dreams

The crowd slavishly applauds, as though fed their cue from a blinking sign in a television studio. Oh, wait!


David Hinckley of–of the New York Daily News wrote this, and what he has–he’s got–it’s very strange. He says, In: A cute kid in the White House. Out: Cute dog in the White House.’ Could–could we see the cute kid? Let’s take a look at–see who is the cute kid in the White House

He pivots, like a true pro, to see what’s on the monitor. This pops us


He then mock protests, as though he is terribly offended

No, no, no. That’s not the kid

Then, this picture shows upLimbaugh4

That’s–that’s the kid. We’re trying to..

Crowd applauds because the sign tells them to

Later, El Rushbo pleads

There I go. My friends, I apologize again. I — that’s the third time the crew makes a mistake by showing you Millie the dog when I intended to show you Chelsea Clinton, and then I followed with that terrible story. I’m — I hope you’ll forgive me. I’m fatigued. I’m tired. I really don’t — in fact, you know what I’ll do? Let’s pretend this is a daytime talk show and that I’m a guest on, say, Sally, Phil or whatever. How can I make amends to you for what I just did? I can spank myself. People who spank themselves, next RUSH. Watch this. (Rush stands)

I’ll do it with my left hand. I — I’m right-handed, so it won’t hurt as much. Do it with my left hand.

(Rush spanks himself, screaming and crying; written on screen, Ouch!!!’)

It’s actually much worse when you realize that he admitted they did that joke three (3) times. In various forums over the years, Limbaugh has claimed it was a technical error, which is a lie because:

  1. His television show was pre-recorded (vs. live), so any technical errors could have been fixed with editing before air
  2. Otherwise, what’s the damn joke

On November 10, 1992, Limbaugh offered a “heartfelt” apology

And I’m terribly sorry. I don’t — look, that takes no talent whatsoever and I have a lot of talent. I don’t need to get laughs by commenting on people’s looks, especially a young child who’s done nothing wrong. I mean, she can’t control the way she looks. And we really — we do not — we do not do that on this kind of show. So put a picture up of her now and so we can square this.

(Photo shown of Bill and Chelsea Clinton, who is making a sour face)

(Laughter and applause)

Bearing one’s soul is often an emotional exercise

One of my favorite stories from the Limbaugh canon is when Rush and Bill came face-to-face at a New York restaurant in 2007. Longtime Limbaugh listeners might have expected Rush to spew invectives at Clinton, detailing how he’d ruined the country, or some such thing


I reached out my hand, “Mr. President, it’s a pleasure to meet you”. We shook hands and so forth , and he hung around for two or three minutes, maybe five

Here’s hoping that in the future, Limbaugh comes into contact with former President Hillary Rodham Clinton at some swanky Manhattan steakhouse. And, in my mind’s eye, they exchange pleasantries and chat amiably for a few minutes, as Limbaugh’s current wife tells him to turn up his hearing aid

But, would you really blame her if she slapped the snot out of him?

OJ Simpson: The Killer You Know

What the f–k, dude?

Marcia Clark, recounting her reaction to the revelation that there were tapes of Mark Fuhrman spewing every racial invective ever heard against African-American

S–t gets real in episode 4 of OJ: Made in America, the excellent documentary series from ESPN. Graphic pictures are shown of a nearly-decapitated Nicole Brown Simpson, her body so bloody and disfigured that it barely resembles a human being. Likewise, the butchered lifeless body of Ronald Goldman is shown with deep neck wounds that reveal his vocal chords. Vocal chords that were probably used to scream for his life until there was no life left in him

Beyond the cameras, the circus outside the courthouse, and the Dancing Itos, People of the State of California v. Orenthal James Simpson should have been about those two dead people. Instead it became about anything but. You name it: Rodney King, the LAPD, Fuhrman, gloves, Bruno Maglis…all of the diversions became the story and the victims became forgotten souls, lost in a tidal wave of so much flotsam

OJ: Made in America is likely the best examination of Simpson and the creation of the monster who perpetrated those murders on that June night in 1994. The OJ who came out of the ghetto effectively turned his back on the black community for 30 years before he discovered his African-American identity when he needed to wear it like a cloak against the murder charges he was facing. As OJ is in police custody, following the low-speed chase, as he looks at all the people gathered outside his estate, he is quoted by one police officer on-the-scene as saying “What are all these n—-s doing in Brentwood?”

Later, as The Juice is on his “Thank You, My Brothers Tour” following the not guilty verdict, OJ attends services at an AME Church (probably for the first time) and gets a bite to eat at Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles. While dining at Roscoe’s, he tells his agent Mike Gilbert “When in the hell have you ever seen me here?”

Say it loud, indeed

Gilbert, for my money, is the star of the series (along with Clark, whose biting wit barely masks palpable, understandable contempt) because of his insight, particularly in the last two episodes. Gilbert happens upon Simpson at his house one night as The Juice is drinking beer and smoking pot and asks his friend what happened that night. OJ asks Gilbert what he thinks happened on that fateful night. Gilbert says that he feels Simpson committed the murders. Then OJ tells Gilbert Nicole would still be alive he she hadn’t come to the door with a knife in her hand. Chilling

Gilbert also details OJ’s descent into the life of a frat boy, when Simpson leaves Brentwood for south Florida. Juice lived the South Beach life hard with all-nighters, strip club visits, and threesomes with women sporting no tan lines, That debauchery leads to Vegas and Vegas leads to OJ’s downfall

Ezra Edelman produced and directed the series and deserves a great deal of credit for interviewing practically everyone who ever knew Simpson or had anything to do with the trial. He even gets a sit down with the reclusive (at least, this century) F. Lee Bailey. Edelman deserves multiple Emmy Awards™ and, probably, a Peabody™, but I was a little annoyed that he decided to use interviews that gave credence to the idea that OJ’s punishment in Nevada was “get back” for his acquittal in People v. Simpson

Edelman also hits the “Made in America” theme hard as he shows Simpson lowering the American flag on his Brentwood property as he vacates it on his way to South Beach. Even this becomes a show as Gilbert is instructed to act as though he an intruder on Simpson’s estate and OJ works up fake tears, as he raises and lowers the flag, ultimately a prisoner to his Hollywood showbiz surroundings

God bless America

All five episodes of OJ: Made in America are now streaming on the Watch ESPN app

Roadies: Your New Favorite TV Show

In every Cameron Crowe film, there’s a character that’s more than a protagonist. There’s a voice and conscience that carries you through the dialogue and action. John Cusack‘s Lloyd Dobler from Say Anything… set the standard with his slacker uncool coolness mixed with punk sensibilities. Campbell Scott didn’t do as well as Steve Dunne in Singlesbut still managed to make a mark with his insecure sensitivity and lovable loser vibe. Orlando Bloom and Bradley Cooper both missed the mark in Elizabethtown and Aloha, respectively, and the films were largely unsatisfying because the voice wasn’t there

In Crowe’s new original series for Showtime, Roadies, I would argue that Imogen Poots (playing Kelly Ann) is the voice. Some will say that it’s Luke Wilson‘s fairly standard Bill, but I would argue that Poots’ character is more interesting and, indeed, one of the stronger female characters Crowe has ever created. Not that his cupboard is bare in that department. I would point to Lili Taylor‘s role in Say Anything… and Susan Sarandon‘s underrated Hollie Baylor from Elizabethtown as evidence that the man can write interesting female characters

Roadies updates Crowe’s love letter to the 70s arena rock, Almost Famous (easily one of Crowe’s best films), with a modern take on the crews that make the rockin’ world go ’round. Kelly Ann is light rigger who wants to leave the game, but she loves music too much. Bill is a rock and roll lifer who is going through a midlife crisis, in denial that he’s got feelings for his married co-worker Shelli (played by Carla Gugino). Everyone else is the rock and roll family tries hard to avoid growing up and committing the most egregious of sins, selling out

One of the more inspired casting decisions comes in casting comedian Ron White as uber rock shaman Phil. SPOILER: Mr. White is notorious for not liking the actor’s schedule, so he doesn’t make it past the pilot. But, in the time he is onscreen, he comes off as a mix of Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson, trying to impart his Rock God wisdom to a young, impressionable generation of young roadies, who are aware they missed rock’s best days

Crowe has made his name by creative use of music and Roadies continues this, particularly in a climactic scene where Kelly Ann runs back to her rock destiny to the strains of Pearl Jam’s “Given to Fly” (Crowe directed the band’s documentary Pearl Jam 20 and has known the band’s members for more than a quarter century). After the disaster that was Aloha (the film was undercut before it’s release, thanks to the infamous Sony e-mail hack), this feels a lot more like Crowe going back to his mother’s milk of rock and roll. The life of the roadie is full of drudgery, dull boring routines, and little moments of magic mixed with ordinary, messy life

Take the ride

Showtime has made the premiere episode of Roadies available without a subscription. You can stream it on You Tube here


Hillary Clinton and Renee Ellmers: A Tale of Two Women

Instant Karma’s gonna get you
Gonna look you right in the face
Better get yourself together darlin’
Join the human race

–John Winston Ono Lennon

History will look back on the night of June 7, 2016 (and the early hours of June 8, 2016) as a remarkable period of time in American history, particularly as it relates to women. Hillary Clinton’s victories in Tuesday’s primaries put her in line to become the first female nominee of a major political party in our country’s history. That’s the headline

But, there were other stories of female candidates that were playing out the same day that Secretary Clinton recorded her historic triumphs. In tiny Dunn, NC, a congresswoman headed to the polls to cast her vote in the Republican primary

Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) on Tuesday commented on a woman’s weight during an exchange caught on video.

“You’re eating a little too much pork barbeque,” Ellmers said in Dunn, N.C., according to CBS’s local affiliate. “Whoo!”

CBS’s local affiliate identified the woman asMaggie Sandrock, former chairwoman of the Harnett County Republican Party who once supported Ellmers but is backing her opponent this cycle. Shortly after the video clip went viral, Ellmers lost her primary.

“Typical Renee,” Sandrock said when asked about Ellmers’s remarks. “She has become a mean girl on steroids, in my view.”

While Hillary Clinton was trying to show women everywhere that the days of keeping women down were over, Rep. Ellmers decided to give aid-and-comfort to misogynists everywhere by reinforcing the stereotype that women are catty to each other on the most petty levels possible. One can almost imagine a scenario, not unlike the first Terminatorwhere Ms. Ellmers cycled through a few options that scrolled in front of her eyes before playing the “fat card”. She completely skipped over “you smell” and “nobody likes you”

At this point, it’s important to realize who Renee Ellmers is and how she got to be the representative from North Carolina’s 2nd district. Six years ago, the man who previously represented NC-2, Bob Etheridge (D) had a You Tube moment

And that was pretty much it. Ellmers was swept into office in the “Tea Party” midterms of 2010. She appropriately showed contempt for Obama, Obamacare, and Bo Obama. That was enough to turn out the voters who hated Obama and sent Ms. Ellmers to Washington. She’d never held elected office before. Heck, she wasn’t even born in North Carolina. Didn’t matter. All that mattered is that she had that sweet “R” by her name and she was going to give Barack Obama hell

When she got to DC, she rose to prominence…at least visually

Boehner and Ellmers 1Boehner and Ellmers 2

GOP leadership loved to put her right next to Speaker Boehner at press events. Message: Hey, we’re not just a bunch of white guys. We’ve got ONE WOMAN. Whoa! In that one picture, we’ve got TWO! Suck on that, Gloria Steinem

But, as often happens with the anti-establishment types, Renee was seen as a sellout in her home district. I mean, she failed to impeach Barack Hussein Benghazi Jihad Solyndra Death Panel Obama, so what good was she, anyway? There were missteps along the way, such as the “I need my paycheck” stinker during the 2013 government shutdown. Also, there were those nasty rumors about a sordid affair. While nothing was ever proven, Ms. Ellmers, presumably, struck a bow for women everywhere as she held on to her job, while the man in question resigned and headed back home to California. Suck on that, Susan B. Anthony

Which brings us back to Tuesday: Rep. Ellmers had become so unpopular to the folks back home that she was being primaried. Now, kids, that means people in her own party were trying to take her down

And they did

Despite last-ditch efforts, Rep. Ellmers lost her primary

Presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump made a late endorsement for Ellmers over the weekend and recorded a robocall to try to save her, but it was too late to make much difference. Instead, Ellmers placed a distant second behind Rep. George Holding and only narrowly edged ahead of a third challenger, physician Greg Brannon

My God! Built up by one orange man (Boehner) and torn down by another (Trump). If Donald can’t save you…

Certainly, there were a lot of factors here, including a redrawing of Ellmers’s district, which left her in a tough spot. But, I’d like to think the karma gods took a moment to reflect and said “Let’s take out that woman who called the other woman fat”. Simple, decisive action from the people who balance the universe. And Renee was gone

However, I’m sure that Ms. Ellmers has made many important contacts in the last six years in our nation’s capitol. And I hope these contacts bear fruit as Ms. Ellmers transitions into the next phase of her life. I don’t know if there’s a fat shaming think tank, but, if there is, my bet is they’re on the phone right now to Renee. Or perhaps she could be Fox News official “Hillary’s cankles” correspondent

After all, Renee: Some women were meant to lead a great nation. And some were meant to take cheap shots in a parking lot in Dunn as they exit public life



Films: Three Hard-to-Find Gems

The Beast

The Beast (also known as The Beast of War) (1988)

This one is a little more accessible than the other two I will write about, as it is streaming on Amazon Prime right now. Most people will say that Rush is their favorite Jason Patric movie. This one is mine. If Speed 2 is yours, please stop reading, go outside, and stare directly at the sun for three minutes

If you think that all war movies are the same, The Beast could change your mind. Set in 1981, during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Patric plays a tank driver (Konstantin Koverchenko) who is at the mercy of his maniacal commander. Eventually, Koverchenko is abandoned by his superior officer in the brutal terrain of Afghanistan, where he is captured by Mujahadeen guerillas. Then, Koverchenko plans his revenge against his former comrades and helps the Afghans in their plans to strike against the Soviets

At times, the action is brutal (the tank commander orders his crew to roll the tank over the legs of an Afghan to teach the village a lesson not to mess with the Soviets), but the story works as a specific examination of the Russian invasion, but also a broader look at war, in general. It’s unfortunate that this movie hasn’t gotten a wider audience over the years. In some jingoistic fever dream I may or may not have had, Putin is captured by American troops and forced to watch this film at least three times

This is probably not the best Stephen Baldwin movie. That honor, undoubtedly, goes to The Usual SuspectsDirector Kevin Reynolds would go on to direct Kevin Costner twice. In Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, he scored a huge commercial success. In Waterworld…not so much. There has been some revisionist history on Waterworld in the past two decades. While it isn’t a great movie (or even a good one), it comes far from the title of “Biggest Bomb of All-Time”, as some people considered it back in the 90s. Let’s just say that when it comes to bombs, Kevin Reynolds has nothing on Renny Harlin


Scotland, Pa.

Scotland, Pa. (2001)

Speaking of Renny Harlin and the perils of directing your spouse (Harlin was married to Geena Davis for five long years, in which he attempted to destroy her career), allow me to introduce you to Billy Morrissette and Maura Tierney. Not only did they brave the rapids of husband-directing-wife, they also decided to do it with a Shakespeare update

When you’re putting a modern twist on ole Billy the Shakes, you’re spitting right in the devil’s eye. When it works, it’s fantastic. When it doesn’t, well, it can be pretty awful. Baz Luhrman‘s ambitious and stylish Romeo + Juliet scored. The hip hop/kung fu reboot of R&J, Romeo Must Die is vastly underrated. On the other hand, the 2000 Ethan Hawke take on Hamlet fell flat

Scotland, Pa. works because it embraces the wackiness of Shakespeare and it has a great cast. The amazing James Le Gros plays Joe “Mac” McBeth, a sad sack fast food employee, who, unwittingly invents the drive-thru window. His wife (Tierney) gets in his ear and we’re off. Want to see Andy Dick as one of the “toil and trouble” witches? Got it! How about Christopher Walken as the cantankerous Lieutenant McDuff? You bet! How about a steady supply of “rock blocks”? Oh, hell yeah! Washing blood from your hands has never been so much fun

This one is not streaming (currently), but you can get a pretty good deal on the used DVD

Mike's Murder

Mike’s Murder (1984)

The lack of availability on this one is surprising to me. Debra Winger was coming off back-to-back smashes in An Officer and a Gentleman and Terms of Endearment (and Oscar™ nominations for both), so she decided to do a little film with the guy who directed Urban CowboyWhile Mike’s Murder wasn’t a commercial success, it was a refreshing break from the product being churned out by the Hollywood machine of the early 80s

Winger plays Betty, who has a thing for her tennis instructor, but she has no idea that Mike is dealing drugs on the side. Mike gets in over his head and eventually gets killed. Betty tries to piece together what happened to Mike. That’s it. A very simple plot, but great acting and no-frills direction make this film work. In tone, it reminds me a bit of The ConversationIt’s really a great vehicle for Winger, who was at her peak during this period. I’m not saying that she’s as good here as she was in Terms, but she gives a strong performance. Maybe a little dark for some, but a very good film

Not available for streaming, but, again, half.com is your friend here


Gibsonburg: The Best Movie You’ve Never Seen

In the summer of 2013, I was going through some difficult times. Not to get into any details, but it wasn’t such a great time to be me. So, what do you do when things are falling apart and you need to get to your happy place? Of course, you pack up your stuff, grab your dog and head for America’s vacationland

Cleveland, Ohio


I’ve been a Cleveland Indians fan for more than thirty years and my first visit came in 2003 (ironically, when I was also going through some not-so-great times). Immediately, I connected with the city that everyone made fun of. Cleveland is the child who makes you work for it’s love. If you can appreciate the rust, the abandoned factories, and the sights of failed dreams (everywhere), you’ll find something in Cleveland that’s pretty rare: Authenticity. Dallas, Miami, Atlanta, L.A…all are full of fake people doing fake stuff for a fake high. Maybe there are a couple of poseurs in Cleveland, but I’m pretty sure once they’re spotted, they make them move to Columbus

So, it was that I was in one of the many fine bathrooms at Progressive Field, when I saw this flier for this little independent film called GibsonburgIt was playing at some tiny theatre like 2 hours away and it promised a great underdog story. At that time, I needed to see the underdog win, so I made the trip


I was blown away. No! I was blessed. I know that sounds ridiculous, but this little independent film about a team that carried a damaged town in northwest Ohio on it’s back became one of my favorite movies this whole century. If you need a lift, this movie (based on a true story) shows the power of cinema to inspire

OK. Maybe I’m overstating it just a hair

Here’s what you won’t see when you watch Gibsonburg: Professional actors. A bunch of college kids got together to make a truly independent film. You might spot Judy Tenuta (a loud comic who peaked in the 80s) for about 4 minutes total. Otherwise, these are all amateurs (although the young lady who plays Kathy had a couple credits before Gibsonburg). You also won’t see massive CGI explosions, men dressed in spandex fighting cosmic enemies bent on earth’s destruction, or product placement meant to make Microsoft’s™ second quarter bang. What you will get is heart. In fact, Gibsonburg has more heart than all the X-Men movies put together. Zack Snyder wishes he could be involved with something that has this much heart

OK. Maybe overstating again. My apologies to Mr. Snyder, who does great work

But, the movie is cheesy. You’ll see so much small-town Americana sappiness that you’ll think a Kenny Chesney song came to life and puked on your cowboy boots. Yes, there are cliches. TONS of them, in fact, but you’ll forgive them because there’s so damn much soul in this movie. If you grew up in a small town just about anywhere in America, you’ll recognize the characters. You know that Gibsonburg’s baseball team overcomes all the odds and wins it all, but you still get excited for the ending and get goosebumps when it happens because it feels so good to commit emotionally to something so…authentic

And you’ll root for Andy (team captain) and Kathy (his girl). Just like you rooted for Jack and Diane. The same way you rooted for Tony and Gina. Goliath wins a lot, but it’s always more fun to root for David

Gibsonburg is streaming on demand via Amazon Prime. You can also watch it on You Tube at this link 

NASCAR is Dying

NOTE: In this piece, NASCAR refers to the Sprint Cup Series, which is NASCAR’s premiere series and what most people think of when they think of the term NASCAR

I’d like to think that the current death spiral for NASCAR started when it’s chief executive endorsed the Klan’s favorite presidential candidate

But, that’s a little simplistic. As far as I can tell, NASCAR’s current problems began on February 18, 2001. Dale Earnhardt died on the last lap of the Daytona 500 and the sport has been looking for the next Intimidator ever since Again, a little simplistic, but there’s an element of truth to it. In a sport where the old-timers always talk about how things will never be as good as the “good old days,” it’s just not possible that any of today’s drivers will ever measure up to Dale Earnhardt, Sr. Think about it: Earnhardt probably knew real moonshine runners, the people who founded the sport. His father and grandfather raced on dirt tracks for money that barely covered their expenses. With all due respect to legacy driver Austin Dillon (an immensely talented star who pilots the number 3 car made famous by Earnhardt), do you think Austin rolled around on the garage floor looking for ball bearings the night before he drove 300 miles to go make twenty bucks at a dirt track? But, is that even what NASCAR is about? Is the “dirt track hero” narrative something that excites today’s younger consumers/fans? After all, today’s NASCAR (particularly the Sprint Cup series) is less about Jim Bob and more about Jimmy John’s™ being “freaky fast” The numbers tell a striking story. The first five races of the season showed steep declines in television viewership

Daytona — 6.6 final rating (down 14% from 2015), 11.4 million viewers (down 15%) Atlanta — 4.1 final rating (down 27%), 6.8 million viewers (down 28%) Las Vegas — 4.4 final rating (down 4%), 7.2 million viewers (down 7%) Phoenix — 4.0 final rating (down slightly), 6.6 million viewers (down 5%) Fontana — 4.0 final rating (down 7%), 6.8 million viewers (down 7%)

And it hasn’t gotten better since then

NASCAR Sprint Cup racing from Charlotte earned a 3.2 overnight rating on FOX Sunday evening, down 11% from last year (3.6), down 18% from 2014 (3.9) and the lowest overnight for the race since moving to FOX in 2001 — including rainouts. The race has now set or tied a multi-year low in five of the past seven seasons and each of the past three. Overnight ratings have now declined for all-but-three Sprint Cup races this year, with seven of the 13 down by double-digits and six hitting a multi-year low. The 3.2 overnight is not just low by Charlotte standards, tying the second-lowest overnight for any Sunday Sprint Cup race on FOX. This season has produced the three lowest Sunday overnights, with Bristol also earning a 3.2 and Richmond setting the low bar at 2.9

We’re living in a UFC world. There’s a reason that UFC is being valued at $4 billion. It’s because, more than any sports entity this century, they’ve adapted to the digital lifestyle of young consumers. It’s very easy for UFC fans to share clips on social media with their friends. It’s easy for UFC fans to interact during big fights on twitter, which has become the best sports bar ever. Unless NASCAR pushes fans to share spectacular crashes, which seems a bit morbid, they’re probably not going to be social media friendly. Coca-Cola™ isn’t in the snuff film business Which, gets to the heart of the problem: NASCAR has become too corporate. With billion-dollar brands as part of the equation, it’s impossible for anybody to have any fun. It’s one thing for Jethro to fight Clem, but when it becomes Metro PCS™ endorser slugging it out with Skittles™ spokesperson, it becomes a little less dangerous and a lot more boring So, given the unassailable facts, what is NASCAR to do? So far, a lot of nothing. And, to be fair, in today’s media landscape, there is value to being able to attract an audience of 5 or 6 or 7 million viewers. So, the big brains who run the sport will continue to point to that and not address existential problems which threaten the future of the sport Which brings us back to this guy


Trump Hat


He’s been repeating that he got more votes than any Republican presidential candidate ever received in history (also true of Mitt Romney in ’12 and John McCain in ’08, etc.). He insists that he’s energized the base. He brags that he’ll bring new people into the fold Meanwhile, America has changed. It’s less white, less male-dominated, and more diverse. The America that could have elected Donald Trump president isn’t there anymore. And, due to the sycophantic bubble he lives in, he won’t make the changes he needs to in order to appeal to more people because he doesn’t think he needs to make any changes Which means we should be pretty close to a NASCAR driver who debuts by wrecking half the field and fighting the other half. He’ll curse profusely in interviews on national television and smoke unfiltered Camel™ cigarettes as he signs women’s ample breasts unapologetically in front of their children. He’ll do Fireball™ shots at the drivers’ meeting and make You Tube videos of him wiping his rear end with NASCAR fine notices. And NASCAR will enjoy a spike in popularity, but the march towards irrelevance will continue On the hood of his car: Make Racing Great Again