IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

“What a drag it is getting old…” A Medium Happy 73rd to expecting dad Mick Jagger….

Starting Five

DNC: FLOTUS Owns Night One

She spoke about sending her daughters off to school for the first day flanked by the Secret Service. She spoke about living in a White House built by slaves. She spoke about her two girls playing on the White House lawn with their dogs. She spoke about not stooping down to the level of people who question their father’s citizenship or religion (“When they go low, we go high”). She spoke about….

….family values.

Michelle Obama‘s speech rocked the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia and demonstrated that under intense pressure and scrutiny for 7 1/2 years, she and her husband have never forfeited their grace, decency, fortitude, or love of country. Damn, girl. You’re simply the most supportive, toughest, smartest wife since Rod Tidwell’s wife, Marcee, in Jerry Maguire.

p.s. How many people can give a speech like that just one week after Carpool Karaoke’ing with James Corden and Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott?

2. Tone Deaf (and Dumb)

Less than 48 hours after the accident that claimed the lives of punters Mike Sadler and Sam Foltz, a columnist with the Baton Rouge Advocate pens a story about the crash’s lone survivor, LSU placekicker Colby Delahoussaye. He says the obligatory words about what a tragedy the crash was, but then later delves into the fact that “The team needs Delahoussaye desperately. It needs him to recover and be the consistent kicker he has been, because frankly LSU has no other proven choices on the eve of opening practice…”

The writer, Scott Rabalais, goes on to write, “LSU was a tragic car accident away from something going horribly wrong.”

I mean….

3. Bern-ing Down The House

I don’t think this pic is from last night, but love the image (Bernie wears khakis, of course he does)

The ovation that Bernie Sanders received before speaking last night, the final speaker on the first night of the DNC (unless Erin Moran or maybe Markie Mark were waiting in the wings) was such that I wondered if they were going to hoist his jersey to the rafters.

Bernie gave a rousing speech. Whether you agree or disagree with his policies, you have to admit that he’s passionate, that he’s genuine, and that he’s committed (or should be). A tweep with whom I often spar basically said, “Meh, he didn’t get his first job until he was 40, he’s a socialist and the town beatnik.” And I shot back, “You pretty much just described Jesus.”

Also, gotta love Sarah Silverman chiding the “Bernie or Bust” crowd, “You’re being ridiculous.”

And, unlike the GOP runner-up, Bernie did explicitly tell the delegates to vote for the presumptive nominee in his party.

Dems: “Come Together.” GOP: “Separate Ways.” The Beatles versus Journey.

Of course, the truth is that a lot of people supporting Trump aren’t buying the idea of togetherness, of diversity, of equality. And economically, Bernie notes that the top 1/10th of 1% control 85% of the nation’s wealth, and this still falls under “free market capitalism” to the hard-line GOP (while people earning the minimum wage can’t afford to do anything realistically more than rent and live alone). That’s not capitalism; that’s an oligarchy. The reason jobs are going away isn’t because workers at the bottom earn too much; it’s because the men at the top do (Gawd, I know I sound like a socialist here, but what rate of income disparity does one need before you finally see it?).

Basically, here’s the GOP game plan: Keep the richest 1% rich while preventing a replay of the French Revolution from the other 99%. How do you do that? Stoke fear and paranoia into their hearts, tell them their problems are being caused by people who don’t look or talk like them, and that “I alone” can save you from violence and terrorism. Play up the fact, massively, that 49 people were killed in Orlando and ignore the fact that 22 veterans a day commit suicide, victims of PTSD, victims of the horrors of a war we only fought to preserve big oil’s interests. *

*I’m John Walters, and I approved this message.

The second part of the GOP gameplan: Dispute facts with feelings. It’s indisputable that America is in far better shape now than it was eight years ago, after two terms of George Bush. So the GOP hardliners, such as Newt Gingrich, say, “But it feels worse, and that’s what matters to me.” John Oliver, per usual, brilliantly exposed this tactic on Sunday evening. Watch:

4. For Pete’s Ache

Kostelnick defended his Badwater title and, more importantly, survived

 

The results of last week’s Badwater Ultra 135, “the world’s toughest foot race,” from Furnace Creek, Calif.: 97 runners entered, 83 finished. Defending champ Pete Kostelnick of Lincoln, Neb., age 28, won in a time of 21:56, shaving more than an hour off the existing record in this, the 39th year of the race. That’s insane.

The top women’s finisher was Alyson Venti (not to be confused with Allison Tall or Allison Grande) of Miami, 34, who finished in 25:53, also a record.

Nobody died.

The race begins at minus-280 feet of elevation, in Furnace Creek, Death Valley, and ends at the Mount Whitney Portal, elevation 8,300 feet. And it’s done in scorching hot temps that often exceed 115 degrees. It’s a masochist’s utopia.

5. Can’t You Two Just Not Get Along?

I was in the green room at The Jimmy Kimmel Show in 2008 when Sarah Silverman surprised her then-boyfriend, the host, with “I’m ****ing Matt Damon.” And here all three were again eight years later on national TV last night.

The faux rivalry continued last night as Kimmel and Jason Bourne went to couples therapy. Good stuff.

Music 101 

Do You Believe In Love

A bar band from Marin County, Calif., Huey Lewis and the News burst onto the scene in the spring of 1982 with this irrepressibly uptempo love song. New wave ruled the roost and MTV at the time, but this irresistible boilerplate rocker and its handsome, weathered singer, overwhelmed those alt-nation goths in their raincoats and eyeliner. The song reached No. 7 on the Billboard charts, the entire album (Picture This) had radio-friendly hits, and the success helped the band land the soundtrack song for Back To The Future a couple years later.

Remote Patrol

Day 2: DNC

PBS, CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, CBS 8 p.m. or 10 p.m.

“I’m just a Bill, yes I’m only a Bill, and I’m coming back to Capitol Hill…”

Tonight’s speakers include former president and potential First Man (for the first time) Bill Clinton, followed by mothers of black men who died at the hands of police. I hope they mention how much more likely it was that their sons might have died by shark attack.

The Film Room, with Chris Corbellini

The best film reviewer we know, Chris Corbellini, is back with a review of Woody Allen’s latest effort

Cafe Society

***

by Chris Corbellini

Woody Allen’s CAFÉ SOCIETY is another reminder that the filmmaker considers living in Hollywood one small step above taking up residence in a port-a-potty. It all stinks: the film industry, the phoniness of the people, and how the promise of fame or something circling it can seduce and morally corrupt even the most golden and sincere of people.

The movie is a comedy, naturally. Or close to it.

Out there in the perpetual sunshine, a wannabe actress is asked if she wanted to be larger than life, and the girl answers “I’d rather be life-sized.”  From there, the man she’s with is in love. The sweetheart is named Vonnie, played by Kristen Stewart, and the suitor is Jesse Eisenberg, who should be named Young Woody Allen, but instead it’s Bobby. Both characters are relatively new to the Hollywood scene in the 1930s. She tells him there’s a boyfriend but he can’t help himself, and they go to the movies together and share personal victories.

Just like in ADVENTURELAND, there’s a third character in this triangle, and it’s Steve Carell’s alpha Hollywood agent, Phil Stern. The movie opens with Carell at a swank party in the Hollywood hills, and he takes a phone call there – which he explains must be Ginger Rogers, desperate for new representation. It begins to feel like this is a movie about the day-to-day for Super Agent Phil. But no, instead it’s Phil’s sister, who explains that Eisenberg’s character is headed his way, and can he show his wide-eyed nephew the Hollywood scene, and maybe get him a job? After a waiting out period, Bobby finally gets an audience with Uncle Phil, who introduces him to Vonnie to show the newbie around.

After a few scenes in darkened cocktail bars and hotel rooms bathed in candlelight, it turns out Uncle Phil and Nephew Bobby have the same taste in women. So Vonnie must choose between the pair while she’s standing behind a counter as a coat girl: the wealthy power player who can’t walk three steps without behind stopped by another wheeler-dealer, or the tender young man who promises her a life of happiness in Greenwich Village.

Bobby does return to New York for a surprisingly long section of the film, and begins working for his nightclub-owning brother, a gangster played by Corey Stoll (who will always be Hemingway to me). There, Bobby finds his footing, his fortune, his wife and a family. And the moment he has it all together — a realistic rival to his Uncle Phil in terms of connections and wealth — his past returns asking for champagne and talking like a Hollywood a-hole.

The look on Eisenberg’s face at that moment is absolutely fantastic in its misery.  Allen found a young doppelganger of himself for this role — but Eisenberg is no lightweight, instead of mimicking Allen’s nervous, insecure energy, he finds the sweet spot of being the naïve New Yorker in La-La Land, and then, ultimately, a slick, wealthy man back on the East Coast. It’s a stretch to make the actor a ladykiller, but Eisenberg does fine overall. The cast is solid across the board – especially the delicate Stewart — which is what Allen demands of his performers and crew.  There’s a rumor that wormed its way all the way to IMDB that Allen fired superstar Bruce Willis for forgetting his lines, and replacing him with Carell while shooting. If true, that’s probably a first for Willis since the 1980s. On screen, Allen plays nebbish, but behind the camera, he’s as cutthroat as anybody.

So, yeah, the crew behind the scenes brought their ‘A’ game too. What surprised me the most about my time in Los Angeles is how even the major talents in that industry – editors and shooters for example — have to crank out the sausage of lesser work, collect the paycheck, and hope a biggie comes along. I was reminded of how the production quality is always top-notch in Allen’s films during the final shot of CAFÉ SOCIETY – with that classic POV of an actor from behind, his head eating up the foreground, surveying his surroundings. It usually portends bad things ahead (check out the shot at 2:41 here) — and perhaps in this movie, too, regret will eat away at the character involved.

There’s a line in Allen’s MANHATTAN that stands apart from the rest of his occasionally epic writing, and it’s this: “I think the essence of art is to provide a kind of working through the situation for people, you know, so you can get in touch with feelings you didn’t know you had.” I think it nicely encapsulates his film career. In the right places here in NYC, I hear opinions on what art is and should be from all types – some full-of-shit, some world-class talents, some passionate educators, and then of course the full-of-shit talents that also happen to be educators. After 43 years, this is mine: if a piece unconsciously pulls you to a different place in your head – nostalgia, a specific memory, a specific person, a scenario that played out in your life, an aspiration, or what lies ahead — then it’s most definitely art. Could be bad art — certainly a bad piece of art will make you disengage and check your watch. Could be transcendent, if you’re lucky. But it’s art.

Back to Woody. At this point many people cannot separate Allen the man from the writer/director anymore, and I confess, sometimes I can’t either. There’s a reference in CAFÉ SOCIETY about a wealthy socialite and his underage wife that made me wince – a subtle fuck you to the lot of us who want to know more about a celebrity’s private life.  And here comes the big but – BUT, his filmography has taken me to that different place more than any other movie director I’ve stumbled across. I’ve watched MIDNIGHT IN PARIS five times now, and after the first viewing I’ve had to force myself to stay in this scene (from about 2:03 on here), because I instinctively drift to my own life. And he’s capable of magic in spots when you don’t expect it, even if it means breaking the rules of gravity to do it. None of this means he’s the best in the business.  Or my personal favorite. What he is, undeniably, is a working artist, still cranking ‘em out in his 80s, still hating on LA, and still looking to put a masterpiece on canvas.

CAFÉ SOCIETY is not at that level, it’s sort of in the middle if you had to rank his works, but the theme is solid nonetheless: It’s the choices you make that determine what’s happened and what’s ahead. Vonnie and Bobby get it at the finish. So do we.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

A Medium Happy 51st to quirky babe Illeana Douglas.

Starting Five

Nebraska players react to news of the death of their friend and teammate, Sam Foltz

Wreck on the Highway

Late Saturday night in Wisconsin. Beaver Lake Road in the town of Merton, Wisconsin. In a rainstorm, former Michigan State punter Mike Sadler, 24, soon to enroll at Stanford Law School, is driving. His passengers are Nebraska punter Sam Foltz, 22, a farm boy from Greeley, Neb., who had gone from walk-on with the Huskers to Big Ten’s first team punter, and LSU punter Colby Delahoussey, 21.

Sadler was a four-year starter and the first four-time Academic All-American in Michigan State history

The car slides on the wet pavement—authorities say excessive speed may have been a factor— and veers off the road, slamming into a tree. Both Sadler and Foltz are killed. Delahoussey survives.

Foltz was a three-year starter at Nebraska who was due to start this season

Here’s  local Lincoln, Neb., sports director Kevin Sjuts with a fitting tribute to Foltz.

2. Hack a Hillary

DWS’ political career is now DNR

The Dems are launching their convention tonight under a thick cloud. Over the weekend WikiLeaks released the contents of thousands of emails that show that DNC chair Debbie Wasserman-Schulz and CFO Brad Marshall actively sought to undermine Bernie Sanders’ campaign (the old coot wasn’t crazy, after all!). So this is a worse train wreck than Melania’s Rick Roll and plagiarism…

Anyway, what makes this fun (read: horrifying) is that Donald Trump is into Russian oligacrchs for millions and millions of dollars and that Russian hackers may have been the ones who got into those emails and Trump has been very complimentary of Vladimir Putin and…FOLLOW THE MONEY!

Either way, the Russkies didn’t force Wasserman-Schulz and Marshall to attempt to rig the game. Also, who knows what else they got and WHEN they will release it? This has disastrophe written all over it.

3.  Citizen Kaine*

*The judges consider this choice far too easy, but what would you do? “Mission Tim-possible?”

Kaine then discussed his extensive MMA background, and how he never tested positive for a banned substance

When you must choose a Veep/Don’t want drama like Streep

Tim Kaine

When your rival’s Trump/Your campaign’s in a slump

Time Kaine

He don’t lie, he don’t lie, he don’t lie

Tim Kaine

Kaine, who married the daughter of a Virginia governor and then later became a Virginia governor, is a Kansas City-born grad of a Jesuit high school, then Mizzou, then Harvard Law. He hablas the Espanol. And he is 8-0 in elections, but let’s face it: he’s never played in the SEC. Here’s his speech in Miami on Saturday.

4. A Sale on Retro Jerseys

I do remember these circa 1977 uniforms from my youth. Ah, Bill Veeck, you glorious bastard!

This is the best story of the baseball season. White Sox ace Chris Sale has been suspended by his own team for five days for taking a pair of scissors to the retro jerseys the team was supposed to wear this weekend because they’re ugly and also because he thinks the team values marketing above winning (he should talk to NBA players about sleeved jerseys).

Sale leads the American League in Wins (14) and WHIP (1.01)

Anyway, love Sale’s spunk (I will not have you assail a Sale!) and now those jerseys that he cut up are collector’s items. So much irony! I can’t help feeling that this entire episode could have been avoided if Drake LaRoche were in the clubhouse.

5. The Part Where Donald Trump Makes Just Enough Sense To Be Terrifying

So, Donald Trump sat down with Chuck Todd yesterday for Meet the Press and, minus all the histrionics and bullying, did not sound completely wacko to this avowed Trump loather. About his tough talk with NATO allies who don’t pay their fair share (why don’t they just declare bankruptcy?), he reminded Todd, “They have a treaty, too.”

Agreed. Some countries don’t pay just because they America will still have their backs (related: I have friends like this. You probably do, too).

Second, I do think it’s a legitimate question, as Trump posed, to wonder how we as a nation would deal with a 500% influx of Syrian refugees. Not all Muslims are bad, obviously, but events on a near-weekly basis in Germany, in Belgium and in France demonstrate that there’s a problem here.

Don’t get me wrong: Trump is stoking fear (False Evidence Accepted as Reality) here with most of his speech, but those are two legitimate takes. I wanted to give the Donald some fair coverage here; I agreed with many of his points.

One more thing: Yesterday I tweeted out a rude tweet about the Trumpster asking him why he keeps getting fatter while his hair seems to be thinning. Many people, assumedly Trump supporters, came down on me for being immature and rude. That part is right.

Of course, my intent here WAS to be immature and rude. To mimic Donald’s style with how he treats so many other people, on Twitter and in speeches, the evidence of which is manifold. My point: If what I wrote upset you, why doesn’t what he says upset you? Further, he’s running for the most powerful job in the world; I’m not.

Music 101

I Say A Little Prayer 

If you’re too young to recognize the name Dionne Warwick, oh you poor, poor, sad boy. Tremendous voice, lovely, and Burt Bacharach’s avatar (Who’s Burt Bacharach, you ask? Get outta my class room!). This was a No. 4 hit in 1967. Warwick is one of those voices of my childhood. She was all over the place on the radio, and with good reason.

Remote Patrol

Democratic National Convention

8 p.m. PBS

You can tune into the networks at 10 p.m., or you can watch PBS’ superior coverage two hours earlier (just make a pledge of $20 or more to your local PBS station). Speakers include U.S. Senator Cory Booker (who never had a chance of being VP because the ticket would have read, “Clinton Booker”), then Michelle Obama, alias FLOTUS, then Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren, and then we’ll all Feel The Bern on this hot summer night.

THE FILM ROOM, with Chris Corbellini

Maggie’s Plan

**1/2

by Chris Corbellini

Man meets woman. The man is married. He says unhappily so. So the woman wants to save him, take him in, love him, and build him up again. This is an ancient story, played out on park benches and hotel beds in every corner of every corner of every corner.

But what if that woman eventually wants to give that man back?

That’s the gist of MAGGIE’S PLAN, the latest indie romantic comedy starring Greta Gerwig. Year after year, Gerwig keeps winning these title roles because she can win us all over with that pouty, innocent face — even as she sets in motion a manipulative scheme to hand back her husband (Ethan Hawke) to the woman she originally stole her from (Julianne Moore).

Cold, right? Not this time. The events of MAGGIE’S PLAN are played out relatively lightly, so the casting had to be just right, with Gerwig front and center. It starts with Maggie’s admission that she is going to have a baby by herself. After a meet-cute we see Maggie fall in love with the Hawke character, a professor of anthropology, while reading some chapters of his novel. She begins talking non-stop about him to friends (SNL alums Bill Hader and Maya Rudolph), who are skeptical of this married man’s intentions. Sure enough, after a few icy scenes with the Moore character — a driven, tenured professor at Columbia — Hawke, who has philandering characters down cold at this point, quickly falls into bed with Maggie.

Gerwig stars in “Maggie’s Plan,” not to be confused with “Maggie’s Farm,” which would be an entirely different kind of film.

So Maggie steals the man, they marry, and raise an adorable daughter together. Two birds, one stone. But in their powder blue, Brooklyn apartment three years later, the grass is no longer greener. The man is still writing the same novel, still looking for approval from his ex-wife, and Maggie has basically become a nanny for the kids, and his personal maid. OK, then. Time to give him back. And that’s it for exact details. I’ll simply note that philanderers, while fun dates, are philanderers.

Again, the casting is rock-solid. Whether you can actually see this cast showcase their talents is an issue for the folks who pushed this movie through for a summer release. With FINDING DORY still swimming upstream into your wallet, and the remake of GHOSTBUSTERS about to shout to the heavens about girl power, there is little chance you’ll see MAGGIE’S PLAN in theaters unless you live in New York, or actively seek out the art-house theater in major cities (The Ritz at the Bourse in Philly springs to mind). So the question becomes, for future you toggling between cable channels in Spring 2018: Is Gerwig, Moore, Hawke, the SNL-ers and a screwball plot enough for you to watch this on late-night cable TV?

For New Yorkers, I’d go with probably. I nodded my head at a romantic montage in underground Chinatown, likely on Mott Street. I also shook my head when the editor cut from Gerwig walking across the street at Washington Square Park, and then followed that up with a scene with Hader in Union Square, as if they were the same place. You get curious about where they’ll shoot next, if the apartments are realistic, and how insular and even gossipy the world of academia can be in the Big Apple. And for a change a NYC movie wasn’t shot in summertime, or Christmas, or in the leafy, cinematic bloom of autumn. No, it’s the slushy, grimy, snow-is-about-to-melt city the locals know in March. I’d give it three stars for New Yorkers.

Does any actor do “Suddenly Bored With Marriage Guy” better than Ethan Hawke?

For everyone else, it could be a lesser film. There are moments of warmth and tears here, but make no mistake: this story is about a con game. Two women are manipulating a needy man – with an against-type spin that these strong, beautiful females are not competing, but rather in total agreement that a certain end result is the best one. They are playing marriage Ping-Pong, without his consent. Still, it’s standard operating procedure in movies that anything can happen to a cad who leaves his wife for a younger woman. An audience is ok with anything in those cases, barring death.

From here, maybe Gerwig gets a shot at a quality big-budget flick like the rest of the headliners here, and not a tepid remake of ARTHUR. She can exude joy while we watch from a distance, make you root for a misanthrope to change for her, and is not afraid to grind through take after take to get a 30-second scene right. Maybe Spielberg or Abrams will have something special planned for the actress down the line.

After watching enough of these rom-coms, you notice what I call a “first look” from the leading lady. They are all different, of course, but the gist of it is: this man has been in front of me all this time, why didn’t I see him before this way? Why have I been so silly all this time? Now it all makes sense. I leave it up to you whether you believe this happens in real life. But that “first look” certainly happens in movies that try to best capture the romanticism of real life. Gerwig has a sweet one. One that can close a movie on an upbeat note.

Oh, and keep an eye on actor Travis Fimmel in the future — especially if he’s in the same room as your girlfriend. He plays Ragnar on the TV series VIKINGS, and though new to the big screen, he already has the presence of a young Russell Crowe.

 And now I really want to find that underground hangout in Chinatown.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

A Medium Happy 76th birthday, Trebek!

Starting Five

Release the Kraken

Last night Jon Stewart hijacked The Late Show desk, not long after Donald Trump’s speech, and accused “Lumpy” (Sean Hannity) and his cronies of what many of us have been saying for months: Hypocrisy.

Anyway, I’ll just sit back and let you listen. It really gets good at 11 minutes, but you should hear the earlier set up, too.

2. aGOPalypse Now

Given the grim tone of Trump’s speech, perhaps they should have played a tune from The Darkness

“America First” and “Law and Order” have about as much of a substantive message as “Roll, Tide,” (perhaps less), but the people in Donald Trump’s corner don’t care. I don’t know who the Quicken Loans Arena M.C. is, but after Mike “Gay Reeducation Camps” Pence spoke on Wednesday he played The Who’s “Eminence Front” (“it’s a put on, it’s a put on”) and after Trump spoke last night, he played Free’s “All Right Now” (which sounds a lot like “All white now/Baby, it’s all white now”) followed by the Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”

The M.C. is trolling the GOP and they don’t even realize it. Meanwhile, Trump is trolling America and at least 45 % of the country doesn’t realize it.

Meanwhile, as much as Trump and his minions would like you to think the world (and America) is going to hell, most everything is far better since late January, 2009. The planet—and America—isn’t perfect, but it never was and never will be. If Trump had gone after Bush 43’s record, he would have had exponentially more material. But it’s not about Dem or GOP; it’s about whites versus everyone else. That’s what “our country” means to them.

3. Cougar Town

Houston finished 13-1 last season, their lone defeat by 3 at UConn

 

It was all so simple, really, and easy for any elementary school student to understand: the Big Ten has 14 schools and the Big 12 has 10 schools and don’t ask why, you little brat. And now the latter conference wants to spoil that by returning to its days as a 12-school conference. So I’ll never be able to refer to 10 items as a “Bowlsby’s Dozen” anymore? For shame.

You ask me (and no one ever does), the strongest Big 12 would be one that gets Texas A&M and Nebraska back, but this is college football, and that would make sense, so it’s not going to happen. We’ll probably see Houston and BYU, both of whom are named the Cougars.

4. Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte

To think that these could have solved the entire problem

Yesterday the NBA announced that it would be moving next February’s All-Star Game from Charlotte due to North Carolina’s LGBTQ bathroom laws (by the way, did you notice how when Trump said, “LGBTZ” last night he said it as if he were reading an eye chart?).

Anyway, our friend Clay Travis decried it as hypocritical and Bromani-esque (pointing out the NBA will play 2 games in Mexico City next season) while our other friend Pablo Torre silenced a tweep who made the same point while wondering if their sudden concern for Mexican human rights was just a convenient way to justify their transparent bigotry (it’s been an awful week for Clay this week, if you ask me; and I know he’s a smart guy, but he’s just gone from reasoned and contrarian to utter Trump homer and quasi-bigot).

Anyway, last night billionaire PayPal founder Peter Thiel (who’s gay) told the RNC that we shouldn’t care about where people go to the bathroom (unless it’s on Amsterdam Ave in the broad daylight, which I have seen), and the RNC throng cheered, but I don’t quite think they realized that they were cheering against North Carolina’s law.

Also, this should only cost the city of Charlotte $80-100 million, so what’s the big deal?

5. The Film Room with Chris Corbellini

Ghostbusters

**1/2

by Chris Corbellini

Here we have a movie that had to redeem itself for even being made. The preview of the new GHOSTBUSTERS is the most disliked in YouTube history, and haterade has been dumped on its female cast like ghostly green slime for their having dared to remake a comedy classic. For the record, the movie doesn’t deserve the gender-biased scorn, so take your geek pills and slowly step away from the message boards.  It isn’t worthy of comedy Cooperstown, either. It’s just fun enough to make you leave the theater with a smile on your face, and maybe a little nostalgic for the original.

Count me among the folks who thought that remaking GHOSTBUSTERS with an all-female cast was an inspired choice. Replacing Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson with bros would have been worse — the movie would have keeled over and died from the comparisons. And I suspect all four title character would compete to be Murray – I can picture Vince Vaughn, Stiller, Hader, and Kevin Hart going for it that way – which is an impossible task.

Yeah, even with all the cameos from the original (maybe because of them), this one is a little shaggy. The middle act took some hacks in the edit suite, as if the director Paul Feig shot four hours of improvisation, and didn’t know what to keep. But the opening is a fitting set-up and the third act gathers steam, rescued by the special effects and a cast totally game to embrace all the weirdness around them.

Our first glimpse of a scientist who would become a Ghostbuster this century is at Columbia University, where the Kristen Wiig character Erin is close to getting tenure. The issue for Erin, besides the elitist sneer of her boss, played by GAME OF THRONES veteran Charles Dance (he can do this role while napping), is that she wrote a book on the paranormal with the Melissa McCarthy character, Abby. Now that book is available on Amazon, which threatens Erin’s reputation. She asks Abby to take it down, they then bond over a ghost sighting, and off goes the movie.

Unlike the original, where you instantly acknowledge Aykroyd, Ramis and Murray as a team because you’ve seen them in <a href=” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xR9HuRUUTbs”>movies together before</a>, this one takes a little time establishing why Erin and Abby drifted apart, and how they became friends in the first place. There’s a backstory about how Erin was haunted by a ghost as a child, was mocked for it in school, with only loyal Abby believing her. It’s not hard to envision Wiig’s character as the type of smart girl who acted dumb to impress the boys in school, while McCarthy, a force of nature, did what she wanted even if it meant being ostracized for it. Now, as adults, they join forces with Kate McKinnon’s character, the big brain that invents all the ghost-catching gadgets, and Leslie Jones, an MTA worker and NYC historian who’s had close encounters with a ghost herself. Chris Hemsworth plays their himbo secretary, essentially becoming the possessed Sigourney Weaver role when the ectoplasm really hits the fan.

The comedy is divvied up rather evenly, which is what Feig does so well. All five get moments of awesomeness: Jones rescues two of the others in their office above a Chinese restaurant (the firehouse in the original was listed at $21,000 a month), Hemsworth uses every take to prove how gleefully dumb he is, McCarthy and Wiig become sisters again, willing to go to hell together, and McKinnon is Roger Rabbit in the flesh, using every cutaway as a chance to pluck away the movie for herself with a loony tunes expression. At a key moment when the four are fighting for their lives in Times Square, Fieg singles out McKinnon’s character, Holtzman, who says to herself “I forgot about my new toys!” and then proceeds to shred her way through apparition after apparition. It feels like Feig wanted to reward the SNL superstar for being his secret weapon and it’s the best bit in the movie – the whackadoodle smarty turned girl-powered samurai.
`           `

One of the charms of the original is the authentic and even grubby Manhattan locations. And their struggle to live in the Big City is relatable. Before business picked up the Ghostbusters worried about money, and Hudson joined the team by saying “If there’s a steady paycheck in it, I’ll believe anything you say.” Behind the scenes, you can tell the city loved the shoot. I was 11 when I first saw it and it’s the first time I ever thought to myself that it looks fun to make a movie. The original also boasts the biggest laugh I’ve ever heard in a theater. Feel free to point out all its flaws — my response is that even if it weren’t your kind of movie, you have to judge a comedy ensemble by an audience’s reaction to it. And by that standard, GHOSTBUSTERS is one of the funniest movies of my lifetime.

That’s tough to live up to, and comedy is tough enough to make on its own. The female GHOSTBUSTERS is definitely missing that NYC vibe – some moments are staged in another city (Boston), or a sound stage — and there’s a lot of herky-jerky stuff in the middle. Like JJ Abrams’ STAR WARS, you are comparing the movie to a cultural touchstone for so many, hoping it’s worthy, not thinking it’s worthy before it settles in, and grimacing a little when it’s too reverential overall. But GHOSTBUSTERS 2.0 grew on me from their first ghost capture on, when the girls truly became a team, and their climactic battle in Times Square is impressive to watch on the big screen. I never thought the wispy Wiig could wield and shoot a ghost gun with such …determination. And then there’s McKinnon making all those faces. There’s a lot of fun in this one.

It’s just not the original. Please let that one go, internet commenters, and enjoy yourself for once.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

A Medium Happy 38th to Josh Hartnett, whose movie career now exists on the side of a milk carton

Starting Five

Ted Cruz: Red and white (or Hispanic), but not blue.

1.Cruz (Out of) Control*

*Sure, the judges will also accept “Boos Cruz” or “TED Talks” or “What Did You Expect From The Guy Whose Dad Murdered JFK?”

Lyin’ Ted Cruz spoke at RNC Day 3 and defied the delegates in the crowd by saying, “Vote your conscience” as opposed to “Vote Donald Trump.” That drew boos and ire. Apparently those are mutually exclusive acts.

It’s as Cruz were Dylan and The Band plugging in and refusing to play their set acoustically. Plenty o’ pundits (including everyone’s favorite Trump-by-numbers sports personality, Clay Travis) said that Cruz committed treason against the GOP. Did he?

Or was this a shrewd plan? Many, many GOPers cannot stand that Trump and his minions have hijacked the party. Most have either remained silent (the Bush presidents) or mildly capitulated (Marco Rubio basically Skyped in his speech). But Cruz, who had more reasons than anyone who ran to loathe Trump, remained true to what he’d said for an entire year.

The fallout? If Trump wins, the worst that will happen to Cruz is that he’ll remain a big deal Texas pol. If Trump loses, and everyone in the GOP wakes up and realizes they’d been going off the rails on a crazy train, he can be the one candidate in 2020 who can claim, “I never abandoned the ideals of the GOP; I never bended the knee to Trump.” He’ll be the one candidate who stands out for that, while others will weakly claim to have done the same. But Cruz will be the only one who stood up at the RNC and did it.

2. The Worst Wing

“Smiles. Smiles, everyone!”

Another day at the RNC, another instance of Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort (who should know better; he has two degrees from Georgetown) blatantly lying.

Another day of tribalism over democracy by Trump supporters.

Another day of some GOP leader (last night it was Newt Gingrich) saying that we should “declare war on ISIS,” an entity that holds no land and would love nothing more than to have its identity bolstered by that formal declaration. It would be like inviting Ball State to play in the SEC: It provides them a high profile that they haven’t earned and would only help in ‘cruitin.’ You declare war on sovereign states; you don’t declare war on fringe movements. How’d that “War on Drugs” go?

No, of course Laura Ingraham did not make a “Sieg Heil” salute. Why would you think that? Everyone waves that way, with their palm directed to ground and arm locked and extended at a 45-degree angle. Just another lame stream media controversy.

Anyway, I’m not being hyperbolic here: The Trump movement inside the GOP is the ugliest, most nationalistic, tribalistic and racist movement from a presidential candidate I’ve ever seen in my lifetime. The most important thing you may ever do as a citizen of this country (unless you’ve served in the military) will be to not vote for Trump in November (I’m sure you’re shocked to hear me type those words).

3. What Part of “Hands Up” Do Cops Not Understand?*

The man laying on his back, hands raised in air, was shot by police. Obviously he was a threat.

*The judges will also accept “Florida Man.”

The man with his hands in the air is 47 year-old Charles Kinsey, who is an employee of an assisted living facility. The dude sitting up is a 23 year-old autism patient who was holding a truck and was suicidal. This was in North Miami yesterday. The key difference between the two men, sorry to say, is that Kinsey’s black. Because even though he is holding what appears to be a non-strenuous Yoga pose (consult your local Lululemon clerk), cops still shot Kinsey.

“I’m like this right here, and when he shot me, it was so surprising,” Kinsey told WSVN-TV in Miami. “It was like a mosquito bite, and when it hit me, I’m like, ‘I still got my hands in the air, and I said, ‘No I just got shot! And I’m saying, ‘Sir, why did you shoot me?’ and his words to me, he said, ‘I don’t know.'”

Why isn’t this getting more attention? 1) He didn’t die. 2) Every cable news channel has tunnel vision on Cleveland this week.

4. “What do you think? Funniest guy? Funniest black guy?”

Matthews and Jost and the funniest black guy on the set

You were probably asleep. Late last night/early this a.m. on MSNBC, Colin Jost and Michael Che did a special RNC edition of  “Weekend Update.” Kate McKinnon also showed up as Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Afterward, Che and Jost were on with host Chris Matthews, who came off as not being used to conversing with black people in casual, apolitical conversation. As if it were 1968, Matthews asks Che, “What do you think, funniest guy? Funniest black guy?” Watch how Jost just loses it.

Earlier, and I cannot find the video, Matthews actually looked at Che and said, “I have a theory about African-Americans…” to which Che replied, “I’m all ears.” Cant. Make. This. Stuff. Up.

Also, Che kept his cool throughout, though his eyes did roll once or twice.

5. FLOTUS Did Not Lip-Synch This

Like Seinfeld with POTUS last winter, the car never leaves the White House grounds. Also, you can see the Secret Service vehicle trailing them much of the time.

Music 101

Where Do The Children Play

British singer/songwriter/legend Cat Stevens turns 69 today.This was the first track on Stevens’ classic 1970 album Tea For The Tillerman, which also includes “Father and Son,” “Miles From Nowhere,” “Wild World,” “On The Road To Findout,” and the title track, which was the theme that played at the end of every episode of Extras. This song also appeared in Harold and Maude. Stevens was absolutely prolific and had an incredible batting average (good songs/overall output) in the late Sixties/early Seventies.

Remote Patrol

RNC Night 4

All The Channels 8 p.m.

Darth Trump will speak this evening, as will his daughter Ivanka Trump (truly cool; once hung out with her in an after hours speakeasy in Alphabet City), PayPal founder Peter Thiel and pope-basher Jerry Falwell, Jr.Also recommend you catch Real Time with Bill Maher on YouTube at 11 p.m.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

A Medium Happy 41st to Judy Greer, who played that girl in that movie where she was friends with the star

Starting Five

“All white now, baby, it’s all white now….”

1. RNC, Day & Night 2

Hey, JW, why are you always so negative about Trump and the RNC?” 

Give me something to be positive about. I mean, please. Anyway, here’s Scott Baio fecklessly attempting to defend this vulgar tweet he retweeted about Hillary Clinton (yes, I know, she’s no saint) to NBC’s Tamron Hall, who eats him for lunch:

Meanwhile, there are 2,472 delegates in Cleveland, and 18 of them are black. That’s the lowest number in a century. It represents 0.7% of the delegation, whereas the country is 13% black.

***

This article on Tony Schwartz, Donald Trump’s ghostwriter for the best-selling The Art of The Deal is a must-read.

*****

The speechwriters on Melania’s speech were, as The New York Times reports,  former Bush 43 speechwriters Matthew Scully and John McConnell. But they say it was not they who cribbed from Michelle Obama. The takeaways from this incident, which is yet another defining moment for the Trump campaigns: 1) Trump can’t even get the easy things right 2) Trump, when confronted with an obvious error or misdeed, is still unable or unwilling to take the blame, and 3) his hard-core supporters don’t care; he’s Teflon Don to them.

****

There’s more: Chris Christie “prosecuting” HRC and calling her a witch; Ben Carson saying that she pals around “with Lucifer;” Paul Ryan speaking about party unity and receiving at best a smattering of applause (he only mentioned Trump’s name twice, and seemingly through gritted teeth); Don, Jr., making a forceful speech, but using some lines that were previously used two months ago in an op-ed by F.H. Buckley; turns out Buckley was a speechwriter for Don, Jr., but still could not be bothered with coming up with entirely new material; a Muslim speaker who closed Night 2 and was met with awkward silence by those still remaining inside Quicken Loans Arena….

****

Late night lines: Seth Meyers: “Tuesday’s motto was ‘Make America Work Again’ whereas Monday’s had been ‘Make Scott Baio Work Again.'” Colbert: “If only there was someone in the Trump campaign who was good at firing people.” Corden: Noted that “We Are the Champions” was the wrong song for Monday’s Trump reveal, and that it should have been, “I see a little silhouette-o of a man” from “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

Finally, here’s Tony Award-winning actress Laura Benanti impersonating Melania (from the way the crowd first reacts, do you think they believe it’s really her?).

 

2. “We’re Not Booing, We’re Saying, ‘Lou! Lou!’ Oh, Wait: We ARE Booing.”

He’s all yours now, South Carolina

We’ve told former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz many times: “Royal Crown Cola, not Crown Royal liquor,” if you’re going to be speaking in public. On Monday night Holtz was spotted at the RNC carrying a bag that indicated inside was a bottle of Crown Royal.

On Tuesday the lisping leprechaun spoke at the Republican National Coalition for Life and, himself the grandson of immigrants, denounced the “invasion” of immigrants on our shores (read: Mexicans). ““I don’t want to become you,” the man who had his greatest success coaching a team named “the Fighting Irish” said.. “I don’t want to speak your language, I don’t want to celebrate your holidays, I sure as hell don’t want to cheer for your soccer team!”

And then he wished everyone a belated Happy St. Patrick’s Day and was off, I assume (honestly, what does Lou have against Cinco de Mayo? Who doesn’t like a marguerita?)

Notre Dame president (and alumnus) Fr. John Jenkins, C.S.C, was more than a week ahead of Lou on this one, issuing this press release about 10 days ago, denouncing the current anti-Hispanic rhetoric on the GOP side as “churlish political theater.” I hope Jenkins also reminded Lou that Notre Dame’s women’s soccer team has won two more national championship than he did.

3. Garry Marshall, R.I.P.

Joannie loved Chachi; Did Chachi’s speech kill the creator of Happy Days? Hope not. Beloved Hollywood director and screenwriter Garry Marshall passed away at the age of 81.  Marshall, who was actually a first-generation paisan from the Bronx (like my parents), created Happy Days and its spinoffs (sister Penny co-starred in Laverne & Shirley), adapted The Odd Couple for TV (a classic from the early ’70s), and directed Pretty Woman and The Flamingo Kid.

The second-best sitcom ever sit in New York City (I’m sorry, Lucy and Ricky, but it is)

Our (my) opinion? Nothing tops The Odd Couple. If you’ve never seen it, find the episodes as soon as you can. Especially note that it’s Jack Klugman playing a middle-aged slovenly sportswriter in New York City. He had a roommate named Felix (and mine is a cat, but not Felix the Cat).

4. Boogie’s Big Moment?

DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins has for six years toiled for the NBA’s least visible franchise, the Sacramento Kings, and has yet to appear in a playoff game. Despite averaging at least 20 points and 11 boards a game for each of the past four seasons, he has only been named to two All-Star teams, both times as a backup.

His Q rating is low, partly due to the team he plays on and partly because he has long been a glowering, even surly, presence. But now he’ll be starting for Team USA in the Olympics. I’m thinking Rio will be Boogie’s coming-out party. You know, if he and the rest of the Olympians survive.

5. Tippin Zee?

Somehow no one died when a crane that was being used to work on the expansion of the Tappan Zee Bridge collapsed yesterday afternoon. The bridge, which spans the Hudson River, connects New York’s Westchester County to Nyack, N.Y. and is the largest span north of New York City (it’s located 22 miles north of the George Washington Bridge).

Now, why you’d build a bridge over the widest portion of a river that is a few hundred miles long, well, someone needs to explain that to me. Oh, you will? Thanks.

Music 101

Coming Home

Never said I was a hip-hop connoisseur, but this is easily my favorite song by P. Diddy (featuring Skylar Grey, whose vocals are pure honey). Grea contrast between the two voices; there’s so much euphony going on here, and you have to love the way the song keeps building to its climax. The 2010 song did more than a million in digital sales and is Diddy’s incontrovertible crossover classic.

Remote Patrol

RNC, Day 3

8 p.m. PBS, 10 p.m. major nets, all day CNN, MSNBC, FOX

I’m a Van Jones (no relation to Love Jones) guy. Are you? CNN’s anchor holds his own with any pundit on either side of the aisle, and I think they’re all secretly afraid of him because he’s built like an action hero. Van’s the Man.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

A Medium Happy 69th to Queen guitarist Brian May, who says he’d “never give permission” for Donald Trump (or anyone) to use “We Ae The Champions” for political purposes

Starting Five

1. Melania Vanilli

The presumptive First Lady’s speech was bland but emphatic, or so we thought. Then social media soon revealed that 58 words, including key clauses, were directly lifted from Michelle Obama’s 2008 speech from the Democratic National Convention. It’s plagiarism, and Melania Trump was almost certainly an innocent victim here.

Team Trump had months to prepare for the first night of the RNC and this is what they delivered: a speech plagiarized in parts from the wife of the man whom Trump says is an unfit leader for the USA. This morning, of course, Team Trump is claiming that the overlap is nothing more than a coincidence because it knows that Trump’s base doesn’t care about truth; it cares about white supremacy.

Or, you know, maybe Melania was just going Jay-Z on all this and sampling from a previous hit. Who knows?

2. Celebrity Apprentice

Speakers during the opening night of the 2016 Republican National Convention included Melania Trump….

Antonio Sabato, Jr.,…

and Scott Baio.

3. Colbert’s Comeback

Arguably Stephen Colbert‘s strongest episode since taking over The Late Show last summer, as his opening musical number lays waste to the RNC. Then, on this rare live episode, there’s a bit with his former The Daily Show boss Jon Stewart that segues into Colbert reviving his old character from The Colbert Report to do a “The Word” segment on “Trumpiness.”

Great stuff, even if it was a reminder that Colbert’s currently only a shadow of his former, albeit staged, self.

4. 105

Chapman throws heat that hits numbers even higher than this week’s temperatures

New York’s trio of relievers—Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, and Aroldis Chapman, collectively known as “No Runs DMC”—extended their scoreless innings streak to 22 innings last night in the Yanks’ 2-1 victory over the Orioles. Also, it was the Yanks’ 22nd game in which they failed to score in the first inning. The headline, though, will be that Chapman twice touched an unhittable 105 m.p.h. on the radar gun in the 9th inning.

This was the Yankee-est win of the season: Don’t score a run in the opening inning. Get an A-Bomb from A-Rod. Take a one-run lead into the 7th and let Betances, Miller and Chapman do their thing. Wake up the next morning with a .500 (46-46) record.

5. “I Am Not Throwing Away My Shot!”

Valentine was 0 for 6 from beyond the arc when he hit his game-extending 3 at the end of regulation….

Chicago Bulls rookie Denzel Valentine—you may remember him as the AP College Player of the Year at Michigan State last winter—hits a game-tying three at the end of regulation against the Minnesota Timberwolves and then a buzzer-beating game winner in OT as the Bulls finish 8-0 and win the NBA’s Las Vegas Summer League.

Former Notre Dame guard Jerian Grant scored 24 for Chicago and Bobby Portis 26. Last year’s rookie point guard, Tyus Jones, poured in 27 for the T-Wolves.

The NBA never sleeps, by the way. Earlier yesterday on the same UNLV campus, the first practice for the Team USA men’s hoops Olympic squad took place. Adam Silver ain’t no dummy, putting both those deals on the same site. Easier for media to cover both.

Reserves

Roger Ailes will soon be out at Fox News….Russia will likely be banned from the Rio Olympics (at least they should be)…Nintendo stock is up 116% since June 27 thanks to Pokemon Go (that was an easy one to see).

Music 101

Drunken Angel

There’s not a dud on Lucinda Williams’ 1998 Grammy-winning album Car Wheels On A Gravel Road. This tune was written in, what, tribute (?) to a fellow songwriter, Blaise Foley, who had a, well, look at the title of the song

Remote Patrol

Republican National Convention

8-11 p.m. PBS

 

I’m going to give the joint PBS-NPR telecast a go tonight (“You flaming liberal!”). We’ll see how that goes.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

A Medium Happy 95th (95th!) birthday to astronaut John Glenn!

Starting Five

Great Scott?

Donnie Loves Chachi*

Is Scott Baio a elite personality? The former Happy Days teen crush (“Chachi” became a euphemism  for “hottie”)is speaking on the first night of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland tonight. Wondering if the Dems will counter next week with Ted McGinley….

*props to tweep @artiehustle for that one

2. How Swede It Is

Phil Mickelson, at the age of 46, was vying to become the oldest winner of a British Open in the event’s 149 years. And on Sunday’s final round at Royal Troon, Lefty shot a six-under-par 65, his lowest score ever in the final round of a major. But Mickelson, whose winless streak is now at three years, was up against Henrik Stenson, a Swede who was in the midst of shooting the round of his life: a 63.

It’s the first win in a major for any Swede, while for Mickelson it’s perhaps the most difficult second place in a major of his career. “I played close to flawless golf and was beat,” Mickelson said Mickelson, who has won five majors (including the British Open in 2013) but has finished second or tied for second in majors 11 times. “It’s probably the best I’ve played and not won. But Henrik made 10 birdies, so what are you going to do?

3. Be Not Afraid

Today: A crowd gathers for a moment of silence in Nice

Go away for a couple of days and you fall behind on your Unspeakable Acts of Human Evil list. Last Thursday night a deranged (or “radicalized”) jerk plowed a truck into a crowd in Nice, France, that was celebrating Bastille Day, killing 80, and on Sunday a misbegotten soul shot three police officers dead in Baton Rouge. Good will always triumph over evil, but some weeks it sure seems as if it’s a neck-and-neck battle.

4. Poker’s Latest Bad Boy

Kassouf is currently in sixth place among chip leaders….

Exactly 6,656 players have fallen from the Main Event (the game: Texas Hold ‘Em) at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. Now just 80 remain, all of them vying for the $8 million grand prize (entry fee is $10,000 per person). Of those four score remaining, perhaps the most notorious is a British barrister named William Kassouf, who was given a taunting penalty from officials over the weekend after his opponent folded pocket queens after Kassouf, who was bluffing, went all in with dreck.

There are no women remaining in the field…

5. Mike Pence None-the-Richer


Does it really matter that the presumptive GOP candidate dined at a Chili’s just off Times Square this weekend? No. Does it say something about either him or the voting base to whom he is trying to appeal? Yes.

On Saturday Mike Pence, the governor of Indiana, was in New York City to meet with his new boss (tweed), Donald Trump. Pence tweeted out a pic of himself and his family enjoying a meal at Chili’s, which, as chain restaurants go, is above par. Chili’s is a reliable spot when you find yourself on a three-hour layover at O’Hare or in Minneapolis; but in New York City, where you can literally dine at a different independently-owned restaurant each night for 40 years and where at least half of those are probably less expensive than Chili’s (and almost all are better), it’s a lot like going to the Louvre and choosing to look at a dogs playing poker on black velvet painting on your mobile phone INSTEAD of any of the featured art work.

And so, sure, to each his own. But for a man vying to become our next vice president, what if there’s a message being sent out to his constituents? What is the message is, “I may be in New York City, but I’m still eating at a place any of you could be eating at in your home town.” And what if I were to extrapolate that the greater message here is, You can take me to some place where life is different, but I’m just going to refuse to accept anything that I don’t already know. Which, when you think about it, is the FOX News and GOP platform for the past eight years, is it not?

Music 101

Song For Whoever

If you loved the Housemartins (“Think For A Minute”), as I did, then you probably have a space in your soul for The Beautiful South, the band that emerged from their breakup. The Hull-based group formed in 1988 after the Housemartins broke up, and this song reached No. 2 on the charts in the U.K. The Beautiful South broke up in 2007, citing “musical similarities.” Love that.

Remote Patrol

Republican National Convention

10 p.m. ABC, CBS, NBC

Childhood. I distinctly remember 1976, when all three channels aired nothing but the political conventions for three hours in primetime for at least four straight days. What’s this? No Welcome Back, Kotter re-runs? No M*A*S*H reruns?!? What do you expect me to do: go outside and catch lightning bugs or play flashlight tag? Harrumph! Well, the networks have gotten savvier: the convention is only on for one hour tonight on their air (CNN’s coverage begins at 9 p.m.).

Remember: it was only 11 months ago, in this same city, where the first GOP debate began with a bang, as Brett Baier of FOX News asked Donald Trump to explain why HE wouldn’t pledge to not run as a third-party candidate if someone else secured the GOP nomination. Life is funny that way….

Oh, and tonight, Melania Trump leads off as a speaker. I think every Trump kid will eventually speak this week, too. You down with RNC GOP? “Yeah, you know me!”

 

IT’S ALL KATIE!

by Katie McCollow

In the morning when you rise, aren’t you glad to be alive?”

That’s Jimmy Buffett again, friends, and if you think it’s too soon for me to be going back to the well, it’s not. And I can prove it: the more bad news there is, the more we need Buffett lyrics.

The wisest man I’ve ever known

Katie, that’s not proof, that’s just a thing you said.

And against that statement, I launch my impenetrable “It Is To Me” defense.

Let me explain.

When I was in first grade, yes, the very same year the movie The Exorcist ruined my life, I learned that peanuts were a source of protein, just like beef. I extrapolated that to mean that peanut butter was made of meat, a theorem I excitedly shared with my family at the dinner table that night.

Shockingly, instead of being lauded by my loved ones as the next great thinker and given a paper crown to wear, I was declared a dingbat.

Me, at six. To me I was.

You might take that to mean I backed down from my position—Um, NO. Do not send me to Catholic school, tell me stories about Joan of Arc and expect me to fold because you fear the awesome weight of my intellect.

And had I not just learned that Christopher Columbus proved the world was round, after being laughed out of many a royal court? What of Sir Isaac Newton, who shot an apple off his son’s head as proof of…wait, who was that again? I spent most of my time in school doodling…whatever, you know what I meant.  My point is, label my young self a lunatic if you must–I knew I was keeping company with history’s radicals.

He proved that he really hated apples or something

The fire in my belly I had, oh, yes sir, indeed I did—I did not, however, have the oratory skills to effectively articulate my position. You guys, I was six, give me a break.

The best I could do against those nine doubting Richard Thomas’s*, as they (at first) patiently explained to me that no, peanut butter was not meat, then applied a more aggressive approach against my insistence that yes it was, was to finally bellow, red-faced and through a veil of frustrated tears,

“IT IS TO ME.”

Why can’t I make them understand??

I may have failed in convincing the world of my peanut butter conspiracy, but many years ago in a mid-western kitchen, I gave it that four-word fortress against all logic. Try it. You will never lose an argument again. You are welcome.

Anyway, all that to say—this country is looking like a shit-show at the moment, so instead of going off on a rant that would add nothing, I felt that the nothingness I add should at least be positive.

I bring you a very special episode of Medium Happy, the name of which is particularly apropos this week; if you’re even Medium Happy, well that’s something to celebrate, isn’t it?

After all, “the only healthy way to live life is to learn to like all the little everyday things, like a sip of good whiskey in the evening, a soft bed, a glass of buttermilk, or a feisty gentleman like myself.” – Lonesome Dove

That’s two sappy, walkin’-on-the-sunny-side quotes for the price of one, kids. It’s that kind of day.

A glass of buttermilk actually sounds pretty gross

 

Five Small Things I’m Grateful For, Despite The Headlines

This Filthy Starbucks 

I’m down the road from the theater at which my own little drama queen is participating in musical theater camp, and her end-of-camp show starts shortly. The theater is rather far from my house and John can be a bit of a tyrant when my pieces are late, so thank God for this Starbucks where I can park my butt and waste all day if I want to, and not get hassled or feel guilted into buying an extra scone because it’s an independent coffee shop and they’ll go broke if I don’t.

Wait, what’s that you say? Tell us more about how John is a tyrant! 

Gladly, m’friends…case in point—last week I skipped writing altogether and he didn’t even say anything. Passive-aggressive, much? Then today I texted him, “what day do you want me to do this week?” and he was like “No specific day!” OMG. You know who else thought I was a mind reader? Caligula.

Obviously I’m joking. John is the furthest thing from a tyrant, though according to the powers-that-be at Instagram, he is a pervert. Who are they to judge?

I can’t believe this great cast made this hunk of crap!

Speaking of filth, the gal behind the counter is finally out here wiping down the tables–it’s like she read my mind. The Secret works!

This Particular Sliced Meat from Costco

It’s made from real food!

I’m not normally a Costco shopper—I have a pretty strict grocery budget and I can’t be blowing the whole week on two giant tubs of mayonnaise and a barrel of Good n’Plenty. But sometimes I go with my mom, who still cooks like she’s feeding an army even though most of the time these days, it’s just a battalion.

Anyoots, she showed me this big package of beef that’s already sliced up but still rare and juicy and seems like actual food, not like lunchmeat.  The only ingredients are beef, salt and pepper.

It’s great, and since my husband is now on the no-grain, no-sugar diet, he needs to have stuff like that around and he can’t be cookin’ meat all the live long day (though he does cook it, a lot; I’ve basically given up ever having a clean kitchen again). I’m pretty sure there’s no peanut butter in it.

The Smell of Outside Right Now

Dirt, grass, rain, and a chicken on someone’s grill somewhere close enough that I can smell it. Also my cat, who obviously ate something that disagreed with her (probably the above-mentioned meat, though earlier I did notice the butter looked a bit chewed on). It doesn’t smell good, but it’s a reminder that she’s here, and that is good.

Mmmm…smells like cat

 

The Oven is Fixed

Which means I can make bars in time for my parents’ 60th wedding anniversary party, something about which I am extremely happy.

The Fellows at the Next Table Saying a Bunch of Funny Stuff

Three businessmen, meeting at Starbucks in the middle of the afternoon on a weekday, saying things like ‘circle back’, ‘core competency’ and ‘we need to hit a three-pointer’.  Maybe they’re talking about happy hour later.

Let’s put a pin in our suicide pact

I wonder if I could get my gentle reminder of  life’s little joys to become a meme on Pinterest?

“The only healthy way to live life is to learn to like all the little everyday things, like a dirty Starbucks with free wi-fi, some delicious pre-cooked meat packaged up for your convenience and sold at a reasonable price, the smell of your cat’s flatulence, an oven with a working thermostat or a group of middle managers controlling the urge to drink themselves to sleep for at least at least two more hours.”

Wouldn’t that be a lovely touchstone, scrawled on a distressed piece of reclaimed barn-wood hanging in your kitchen?   And every time you looked at it you’d be like, “Ahhhh…so true.”

Anyway. I hope you have things to be happy about right now, and if you don’t, I hope that changes very soon.  My coffee tastes burnt.

*I asked my sisters and sister-in-law how to spell ‘doubting Richard Thomas’s”; as I was unsure if that was correct or if it should be ‘doubting Richard Thomases’. My sister-in-law, who went to Yale and majored in Victorian Literature, opined that it should read, ‘doubtings Richard Thomas’. That’s just fancy sounding enough that I believed her, but then she said she got two D’s and an F.