I had planned on getting this post out Friday. But, as some of you may have noticed, there were some issues with the site in the morning and I spent a fair chunk of time trying to get it working again. That also allowed me to finish another long article to throw in here.
So, here they are: some showbiz links.
First, one of two reprints that were circulating recently. It is a really amazing profile of Johnny Carson from 1977. It took me about four days to get through, reading at school pick-ups and in spare moments here-and-there. But it is worth the time.
Observations: * Johnny was an icon to me, someone I got to see on Friday nights, when I was allowed to stay up late, or over the holidays at relatives’ homes. He was this grand, benevolent embodiment of the pulse of the nation. I didn’t realize he was quietly outspoken, if that’s possible, in a rather liberal way. I’m surprised that my grandparents watched him every night. * I enjoy the speculation throughout the profile on how long he would continue to work. No one, in 1977, thought he would hang around until 1992. * I couldn’t help but think about how late night TV has changed. Back then, there was, really, only Carson. Letterman came along five years later as an irreverent nightcap for those who could power through until 12:30. Then, there was the great disruption of the late night landscape in the late 80s, when Joan Rivers and then Arsenio Hall challenged Carson from Fox. Upon Carson’s retirement, all hell broke loose. Today, we have Fallon taking over the just-retired Leno, Letterman, and Kimmel at 11:30. Conan is still out there somewhere. Ferguson and Myers hold down the very late night shifts. Oh, and there’s Stewart and Colbert doing their thing, arguably better than anyone else. We’ve come a long way from the single late night voice to rule them all.
Anyway, it’s a fantastic read if you remember the glory days of the “Tonight Show” or are just a fan of pop culture in general.
Q: On the show, one of the things you control most strictly is the expression of your own opinions. Why do you keep them a secret from the viewers?
Carson: I hate to be pinned down. Take the case of Larry Flynt, for example. [Flynt, the publisher of the sex magazine Hustler, had recently been convicted on obscenity charges.] Now, I think Hustler is tawdry, but I also think that if the First Amendment means what it says, then it protects Flynt as much as anyone else, and that includes the American Nazi movement. As far as I’m concerned, people should be allowed to read and see whatever they like, provided it doesn’t injure others. If they want to read pornography until it comes out of their ears, then let them. But if I go on the “Tonight Show” and defend Hustler, the viewers are going to tag me as that guy who’s into pornography. And that’s going to hurt me as an entertainer, which is what I am.
Speaking of late night forays. here is a recycled profile of Chevy Chase from 2002. The fall of Chevy is one of the more amazing things in Hollywood in my life. He was at the pinnacle of American comedy and, really, disappeared not because he was a recluse or had some religious awakening or massive drug problem, but rather because he, apparently, was a titanic asshole who made a bunch of bad choices in projects and had no goodwill with which to rescue himself.
Anyway, given his semi-resurgence over the first four seasons of “Community,” I found the piece’s closing line especially interesting.
’’You know, everybody has disasters,” says Steve Martin, a friend from ”’Three Amigos.” ”And then you have a hit and then the disasters don’t matter. So, if you think about it, everybody is just one hit away from being exactly where they were. Chevy is one hit away. It will happen. He’ll get that hit. And he’ll be back.”
This oral history of Ghostbusters was perfectly timed, coming out right after the recent death of Harold Ramis.
Originally I was writing it for me, Eddie Murphy, and John Belushi, and I was about a third of the way through. On a beautiful March day, I was writing a line for John when the phone rang and it was Bernie [Brillstein]. He told me that John had died in the Chateau Marmont. I finished the script with Bill Murray in mind.
He was writing for Eddie, too? Man…
And, finally, Alec Baldwin sums up the entertainment industry in so many ways. Based on his performances over the years, he seems like a fun guy to hang out with. But he also appears thin-skinned and prone to dramatic outbursts. In other words, he’s a phenomenal actor because he makes us believe he is worthy of respect and admiration when he’s really just as screwed up as the rest of us.
In this “As Told To” piece, he claims he’s leaving the public world to regain control of his life and image. He says that he still wants to work but will give up taking to the press, going on “Letterman,” and “SNL.” We’ll see about that. But it reads as a thoroughly enjoyable train wreck of a piece, whether you like Baldwin or not.
With the major conferences wrapping up regular season play over the weekend and preparing for their tournaments later this week, it’s the perfect time to address some outstanding college hoops issues.
The arguing about these things tends to be a little silly, but it’s generally the good, clean fun kind of silly. Things do get amplified a bit in the age of 8000 sports media outlets who all need to get their original take in, and thrown to another level with Twitter.
In the Big 12, for example, there was no clear-cut player of the year. Which opened the debate to at least four different players.
Iowa State’s Melvin Ejim swept the coaches and media awards. He had a great year and is certainly deserving of the award. Some have pointed out, though, that his rebounding numbers are inflated by the Cyclones’ fast pace. His signature performance of 48 points came against TCU, the only truly crappy team in the league. Finally, Iowa State was such a balanced team, I’m not sure his individual performance affected the team’s results that much. If he scored four fewer points and grabbed three fewer rebounds per game, they had other guys who could replace those stats.
KU’s Andrew Wiggins seemed to be Ejim’s closest competitor. Part of that was just the old “Best player on the best team” argument. But Wiggins was, to me, a more impactful player than Ejim. Wiggins freaking shut people down in defense. In fact, I think it’s an absolute crime he didn’t even make the All-Defense team, and he likely should have been the defensive POY over teammate Joel Embiid. The problem is Wiggins doesn’t play sexy defense. He doesn’t get many blocks or steals. Instead he just makes life miserable for whoever he is guarding, taking them out of games more often than not. But, he did have sub-par performances in a few big games, so I understand the arguments against him.
Marcus Smart was the advanced stats pick for the award. He stuffs multiple categories and had a profound impact on every game he played in. Which, of course, is the whole argument against him. While there’s no baseball Hall of Fame-like character clause, when you miss three games because of your behavior on the court, you likely lose any claim to the POY when you’re not head and shoulders better than the other candidates.
Finally, if the award was for most valuable player rather than POY, West Virginia’s Juwan Staten would be the easy and obvious choice. Only Smart meant as much to his team as Staten, and Oklahoma State would probably still be decent without Smart. West Virginia may well be looking for a new coach next week if they didn’t have Staten.
People can argue about these picks over drinks in the Power & Light district later this week. But in a year where there was no Blake Griffin or Michael Beasley or Kevin Durant, I can’t get too upset about any of these four winning over the others.
I hope all this back stuff is just the KU staff being extra cautious. Simply put, if Joel Embiid can’t play effectively when the NCAA tournament begins, KU won’t survive the first weekend. Hell, as bad as the perimeter defense is this year, they may not survive it even if he’s back protecting the rim.
I think a healthy, locked-in KU team is second only to Florida in where their ceiling is. Problem is KU’s been healthy and locked so rarely this year that it’s foolish to expect them to suddenly do so when the big dance begins. Whatever chance there is of that happening, though, requires Embiid being on the court for 25-30 minutes and able to score, rebound, and protect the rim. If he’s hobbled or just rusty, it’s going to be a challenge.
It’s starting. I expect the talk to really ratchet up next week if, as looks likely, Kansas and Wichita State both spend the first weekend of the tournament in St. Louis, and then perhaps the second weekend in Indianapolis.1
I’ve always been in the camp that there was no need to play Wichita State. They’ve sucked for most of the last 30 years. I don’t think anyone expected the Shockers to make last year’s Final Four or go undefeated this year. And while I have respect for Greg Marshall, how long will be be there and can he continue to do this beyond the crop of experienced players he has now? If Wichita State turns into a program that is in the top 25 every year, and helps KU’s strength of schedule, I will change my attitude. For now, though, I say let them bitch.
I can’t really make predictions until there is a bracket to study this time next week. But, it feels like an incredibly wide-open tournament. Other than Florida, who do you trust? I believe in everything Wichita State has done, but they’re not sneaking up on anyone this year and they have not played an elite team all season. They’ll have to battle to get past round three. KU can’t guard and has the big injury question mark. I’m not sold on Arizona given the strength of the Pac 12. Duke might be catching fire at the right time, but they also got pounded by Wake Forest last week. Syracuse may get the gift of not having to leave the state of New York until the Final Four, but they’ve fallen apart of late.2 What Virginia did in the ACC this year was remarkable. But do I trust them to win four games in my bracket?
Teams I think are sexy: Michigan and Cincinnati. I don’t know that either one is a title contender, but Michigan is so well coached and seem to make great plays in crunch time. Cincinnati is a ferocious, fearless defensive team. They have that feel of a sleeper that could make it to Dallas, or just as easily lose to someone that gets hot from deep in the first weekend.
If I had to pick a Final Four today, I’d say Florida, Duke and the field for the other two. Hello, cop out!
Worth noting: if there is a KU-WSU regional final here, I will be watching from…Kansas City. We’ll be spending our spring break in KC this year. And I’m torn. I would love to see KU play live, although last time that happened was their Sweet 16 loss to Michigan State here in 2009. However, we watched KU play a regional final while visiting Kansas City in 2012. And that one turned out pretty great. ↩
I continue to say the worst thing about how the NCAA tournament is run is how A) there are always games in North Carolina, giving Duke and UNC an annual shot at home court(ish) games and B) how they have multiple rounds of the tournament staged within the same state. A team should not be able to play in Greensboro and Charlotte, or Albany and NYC, or even Kansas City and St. Louis, to get to the Final Four. I think if a team should have to travel away from their home territory for either the first or second weekend of the tournament. Put Syracuse in Albany for week one? Fine, but send them to Memphis or Indy for the regionals. ↩
“Red Eyes” - The War on Drugs
Here we have a perfect example of a bad video for a great song.
WoD’s new album, Lost In The Dream, isn’t officially out for another two weeks. But, as I pre-ordered it, I was able to download the whole thing on Tuesday. It’s magnificent. As with their previous record, the sublime Slave Ambient, the album is packed with expansive songs that evoke a feeling of traveling across wide open spaces. The flight could be in exhilaration or desperation. The motion could be to something or away from something. But the need to travel is inescapable.
A perfect album for spring and summer road trips that last hours.
A good subtitle for this might be, “The Jig Is Up.”
We’ve had two Tooth Fairy visits in the past week. And they revealed something important: Meghan’s got it figured out.
It began last week, when Lia lost tooth #2. I couldn’t remember what the going rate was for that tooth. She got $5 for her first tooth, but was the because it was the first tooth, or was that the same price for each front tooth? I only had a five dollar bill, so it didn’t matter. I slipped it under her pillow on my way to bed, although while I was in her room she opened her eyes, blinked at the ceiling a couple times, then rolled towards me. This tooth business is getting harrowing!
The next morning she came into our room at roughly 5:30 to let us know she got $5. Charming. Ninety minutes later, when we were getting ready for school, she showed her loot off to her sisters. And Meghan lost it.
“HOW DID SHE GET FIVE DOLLARS?!? THAT’S ONLY FOR THE FIRST TOOTH!!! SHE CAN’T GET FIVE DOLLARS FOR EVERY TOOTH!!! THAT’S NOT FAIR!!!!”
Kind of an extreme reaction, to complain to the parents when the Tooth Fairy is the one who dropped the money off, I thought.
She went a step further a moment later.
“It’s not fair! You only gave me three doll….uhhh, the Tooth Fairy only gave me three dollars for my second tooth.”
Interesting. I gave her a brief look but let it pass.
We reminded her life isn’t fair, threatened to take away all fun things for the next six years if she didn’t knock it off, etc. etc. etc….
Last night, after we had put the girls to bed, Meghan yanked a tooth out. I was downstairs watching the KU game and she made a special trip to the basement to let me know it was out and show it to me. She also had a whole story to share.
“I think instead of putting it under my pillow, I’m just going to put it on my nightstand. That way it doesn’t get knocked onto the floor or something. Because a lot of times I find stuffed animals on the floor in the morning. I think they fall off when I’m moving around in my sleep. And I don’t want the Tooth Fairy to not be able to find it. So I’ll just put it on my nightstand.”
A typically verbose Meghan explanation.
But she had a good point. Remember, the last tooth she lost, I was unable to find under her pillow and the Tooth Fairy left her a note with her money saying she hadn’t been able to find it. Meghan was being very prudent, both in saving TF some hunting, and letting dear old dad know exactly where her tooth would be.
I’m not great at math, but I think I can put 2+2 together. It took over nine-and-a-half years, but she’s starting to leave some of the myths we teach our children behind.
At some point last fall, Suzanne let the girls put some games on her iPhone, and they each get turns playing them each day. As you would expect, that has lead to a conflict or two.
Last night, we were talking about how the girls would, one day, have their own phones. We explained that it wouldn’t happen until they were able to babysit other kids, or were going to school/sports events on their own. As Meghan and Cait talked about what kinds of apps they would put on their phones, Lia piped up with this gem.
“I’m only putting games on my phone. No offense!”
Not sure why she thought that would be offensive, but we loved it.
Meghan’s grade gets to march in the St. Patrick’s Day parade in a couple weeks. On a recent Target trip, we were digging through the dollar bins looking for stuff she could wear that day. As we examined the gloves, sunglasses, hats, and bead, Cait pulled on my sleeve and said, “Ooooh, I want this!”
I looked down and she was holding a flask with a leprechaun on it.
We’ve been worried about her and high school since she was about 18 months old. More confirmation we were right to be concerned.
We also signed up Meghan for the spring kickball season at St. P’s this week. If you’re not a Catholic from Indianapolis1, you may not understand what a big deal that is here. When Suzanne and I were first dating, I asked if she played any sports growing up. She said kickball and I laughed in her face. She quickly informed me that kickball was a real sport and she didn’t appreciate me questioning her athletic pedigree.
Last fall we were at a party and I found myself in a conversation that featured parents from four different Catholic elementary schools. Kickball came up and I shared that story with the group. Another parent who is not an Indy native chimed in. “Oh, you CAN NOT say anything bad about kickball to an Indianapolis Catholic! They take it very seriously!”
Anyway, it normally starts in fourth grade, but apparently this spring several of the local schools are running out third graders so they can get used to the rules, learn some skills, and be raring to go in the fall.2 Meghan has not shown much interest in playing. In fact, last fall when I told her about one of her fourth grade buddies who loved it, she muttered to Lia that we only wanted her to play kickball because Suzanne did.
I asked her several times if she wanted to play this spring and the answer was always no. We had already ruled out soccer for this spring, so we were hoping she would take advantage of a school-based sport for her spring activity. After a couple days of cajoling, I finally sent an email out to all the other third grade parents asking who had daughters that were going to play. It was about 20-2 in favor of playing.
That afternoon, I assaulted Meg with that information, going down the list of all the girls that were playing. She sat and listened with only mild interest. I mentioned her friend A. was playing.
“Oh, A. is playing? Then I’m definitely playing.”
“That’s a yes? You want to play now?”
I should have found out if A. was interested in kickball months ago.
Finally, we’ve been talking to the girls about what behavioral change they will be making for Lent. We let them know that they can just as easily decide to do something positive during Lent as give something up.
Meghan is still thinking it over.
Cait decided to give up playing on Suzanne’s iPhone, which I thought was a bold choice.
And Lia told us, with wide, gleaming eyes and a happy grin, that she would not get into bed with us at night. I was quick to celebrate her choice but Suzanne shot it down.
“Are you kidding me? You’re almost five-and-a-half years old and you’ve never gone 40 nights without getting into bed with us. Pick something else.”
Maybe next year.
Or have a daughter going to a Catholic school here. ↩
I shook my head in sympathetic disgust when a friend shared that they were pushing second graders to play CYO football at the school where his sons go so that they would not be behind when formal CYO ball started in third grade. And now I’m basically doing the same to my daughter… ↩