Sunday, December 23, 2007

Day After Tomorrow

SPC James R. McCarthy will be missed tremendously tomorrow night as 27 McClatchy family members gather to celebrate on Christmas Eve. Jim arrives in Kuwait the day after tomorrow and joins thousands of other young men and women who are proud to serve their country. Be safe and be strong... and come back to us soon.

Merry Chirstmas everybody.

Bring 'em home.

Linda Thompson - Day After Tomorrow

Friday, December 14, 2007


... comes a behind-the-scenes look at a heartwarming tale for the whole family — or a creepy psycho thriller. I can't remember ...

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


Imagine the gods of history looking down on us all after our failures at protecting millions of innocent human lives from their own governments — and imagine them saying to us,

"We'll give you another chance. But this time, so as to be sure you get it right ... we'll do it in slow motion.

And we'll call it Darfur."

— from Sand and Sorrow

BrothersMcC has asked you to buy a book (Not On Our Watch) in the battle against genocide and to go see a movie (Darfur Now!) in the battle against genocide.

We are asking you now to stay home and watch TV in the battle against genocide.

Sand and Sorrow airs on HBO tomorrow night — Thursday, December 6th — at 8pm. The film was made by Peabody-award-winner Paul Freedman. George Clooney narrates and is the executive producer.

Sand and Sorrow follows our good friend human rights activist John Prendergast, fellow activist Samantha Power and New York Times columnist Nick Kristof on a first-hand journey from refugee camps to war-torn villages and finally to the halls of the U.S. Senate — where, well, you can only imagine what they find there.

(And if you're saying, "Sweet, I don't have HBO" then I'm happy to let you know that Sand and Sorrow will be streaming on the entire weekend.)

I asked J.P. why we all should turn our backs on Survivor, Ugly Betty and Smallville tomorrow night:

"Genocide is a unique crime against humanity. It means people are targeted for their identity, for who they are. For the first time in history, a citizens' movement is growing against a genocide while it is still happening. You have a chance to be part of that movement. Watching the film can educate to empower."

And there you have it.

And I believe that making that effort is not an act of generosity. Or of self-sacrifice. It is an act of self-improvement. It is — in the end — a selfish act. As it should be.

I'll venture even further — that there really is no such thing as altruism. Doing what you think is right — or doing something because you can't not do it — is not unselfish. Nor is there any reason that it should be.

We do these things because they make us feel better about ourselves. They make us feel stronger. They make us feel good.

So let's be appallingly selfish and self -centered.

We just might get it right.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Do You Believe In Miracles?

OK … as much as I hate to Kevin credit for anything, reading his post on “Friday Night Lights” – it got me thinking.

First … how the hell could Kevin gone so long without getting hip to “Friday Night Lights”???? I mean really … I can think of (maybe) four other shows currently worth watching on TV … so how did you miss this gem??

Well, then Trip gave me the DVD of “We Are Marshall” (go out and rent this now!!) and then I caught “Glory Road” (who the hell knew it was a true story???).

So all this got me thinking; What are the greatest sports movies out there? I was able to break it down to three categories:

1) Miracle- the all time greatest moment in sports history! :-)

2) My twenty faves other that ‘Miracle”

3) Another twenty great flix:

All the categories are listed alphabetically, because I really was having a trouble listing an order based on merit. I love ‘em all. I’m sure I missed a few, so PLEASE feel free to enlighten me, and there are some (like “Hoop Dreams”) that I left off because I think documentaries should be a category all by themselves.

Fell free to pour yourself a pint & discuss!

1) Miracle


2) My twenty faves other that ‘Miracle”

Bang The Drum Slowly
Brian’s Song
Bull Durham
Eight Men Out
Field Of Dreams
Glory Road
Mystery, Alaska
Raging Bull
Remember The Titans
Searching For Bobby Fischer
Slap Shot
The Hustler
The Pride Of The Yankees
The Rookie
We Are Marshall

3) Another twenty great flix:

A League Of Their Own
Bend It Like Beckham
Breaking Away
Chariots Of Fire
Friday Night Lights
Karate Kid
Major League
Million Dollar Baby
North Dallas Forty
Paper Lion
Talent For The Game
The Longest Yard
The Natural
Tin Cup
Vision Quest

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


... is that you have the chance to catch up with a great TV show.

The Friday Night Lights party is one I am just now joining. A month ago, I hadn't seen a single moment of this compelling, emotionally real, impeccably acted series — now in its second season.

Evidently, I'm not alone in my tardiness.

Friday Night Lights has struggled in the ratings thus far but NBC has stuck with it. Take advantage of this rare wise network decision.

We finally tuned in to the show on a recent Friday night mostly because I was curious about Connie Britton, with whom I'd been in class. You'll remember her from The Brothers McMullen, Spin City and from playing the same role in the film version of Friday Night Lights.

And she was excellent. As she always is.

But so was the rest of the cast. I mean, every single actor was on the money. And the writing was good. The episode was so good — it was jarring.

So we watched it the next week — and it held up. And the week after.

Damn, man. We needed to get the whole story. So we rented Season 1.

The pilot of Friday Night Lights is as good as it gets on network television. It was art. It really was.

And the next few episodes (we've seen 4 so far from Season 1) were nearly it's equal.

And the big, honking revelation is Kyle Chandler. If ever there was an example of the right guy for the right part, this is it. As Eric Davis, the complicated, tightly wound head coach of the Dillon Panthers, Chandler is great.

He's never been great before — he's worked alot — but never like this.

And the younger actors — I mean, Holy Casting Director! (Linda Lowy , by the way) — they are superb. Except one — you tell me who it is. (Now you have to watch it.)

I've only seen 7 episodes of this show but I can confidently say — its not a football series. It is about people and the only other show that ever treated high school students with this much respect and insight was My So-Called Life.

The heartthrob is Taylor Kitsch — and he is as soulful and talented as he is good-looking.
The flat-out babe is Adrianne Palicki — and she can act.
The scene-stealer is Jesse Plemons — and he commits grand larceny at every opportunity.

Do yourself a favor and get up to speed with
Friday Night Lights.

It's better than the movie.
It's better than the 789 CSI's
It's better than every sitcom.
And, believe it or not, it's better than October Road and Grey's Anatomy (the two worst shows on TV, by the way — in case you were wondering what the two most unwatchable hours of pure torture were — and I know you were)

Friday, November 23, 2007


By now, I think its apparent that this blog faithfully adheres to it's Celtic DNA. We seem to have two basic modes of expression — Outrage and Sentimentality.

As one given more to Outrage, I figured I'd give the tired old bastard the holiday weekend off. Actually, Outrage can give thanks to my wife Lisa — and Hootie and the Blowfish.

Lisa and I had the honor of hosting Thanksgiving for the first time. The fact that it was a resounding success is due largely (okay, entirely) to Lisa's tireless effort and determination. Over the past two weeks, it was often difficult to determine whether we were making preparations for 22 dinner guests or for the next space shuttle launch.

All of Lisa's hard work and attention to detail paid off in spectacular fashion — and she was even gracious enough to share the credit.

Sure, I made a few runs to the grocery store, cleaned out a cooler and peeled a few potatoes. But I was a willing bystander — ready for the planning and the gorging to be done.

It was, for all intents and purposes, Lisa's boulder to roll up the mountain. Trying to find room for 22 of her relatives and address their individual dietary quirks, she engaged in mental gymnastics that would have impressed Plato, Newton and Vizzini. Not to mention Olga Korbut.

So what in the Sam Hill does this have to do with Hootie?

Well, for reasons that are none of your business, I was tasked with cleaning the oven the old-fashioned way. I was feeling none too thankful, none too generous and the likelihood that Outrage would be pressed into service after all was growing.

I put the iPod on "shuffle" and commenced scouring and scrubbing:

Screaming at the Wailing Wall — Flogging Molly
Go All the Way — The Raspberries
If I Should Fall From Grace With God — The Pogues
8 More Days Till The Fourth of July — Ike Reilly Assassination
Oceans — The Format

I was feeling slightly better, a bit more thankful.

I'm Goin' Home — Hootie & The Blowfish

(ed. Yes, I have the entire
Cracked Rear View on my iPod. And proudly. In fact, I once got into it — on a music nerd message board — with Peter Blackstock about, ironically, his outrage over the success of Hootie and Darius Rucker's supposedly substance-free lyrics. When I pointed out that I'm Goin' Home was a moving and deeply personal tribute to Rucker's late mother, it marked my one and only victory in a music argument.)

I'm Goin' Home changed the tenor of my day.

Because that song is about me ... and it is about my family.

While I continue to mourn the loss of my mother — and the things we don't get to share — hearing that particular song never fails to shake me out of whatever self-centered, self-indulgent jackassery I've allowed to take over.

Then Lisa walked in the kitchen. Then Eirann walked in behind her. And, although the rest of clan McClatchy was strewn up and down the eastern seaboard, I had 'em all there for 4 minutes and 11 seconds.

I was surrounded by my family. And for that, I was thankful.

Have a nice vacation, Outrage.
Sentimentality, fasten your seat belt.

Thanks, Lisa.
Thanks, Eirann.
And thank you, Hootie.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

So … there I was … a rainy, Saturday night, and I was gonna settle in for a good pay-per-view movie with the Mrs. I was all ready to set up the online rental of “Knocked Up” – I mean EVERYBODY that I know told me how great it was and that I would love it. But a funny thing happened on the way to the movie … as I turned on the TV, one of the 86,347 channels that Comcast airs was getting ready to play (with out commercial interruption) “Lucas”

Now, for those of you who don’t know about the film “Lucas” – it is the best John Hughes movie that John Hughes never made. It was written & directed by David Seltzer in 1986. It stars a pre-drugged & amazingly cute Corey Haim, Kerri Green [remember her from “The Goonies”?), Charlie Sheen, Courtney Thorne-Smith, Winona Ryder & Jeremy Piven.

I will not give you any other info other than to say … see this movie when you can. If you saw it years ago – watch it again – you’ll be happy you did.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


I recently had the good fortune to share a meal and hang out with John Prendergast (above.)

J.P. (I call him that because those are his initials — and we played hoop together in high school) is a human rights activist and the best-selling author of Not On Our Watch — which he co-wrote with Don Cheadle.

After years toiling as what he calls a "policy wonk" in Washington, D.C., J.P. changed his focus to activism and, in the process, helped jump start the global attention now focused on the genocide being perpetrated in Darfur.

In his role as activist, he has tirelessly crisscrossed the globe speaking to anyone who will listen (and not a few who didn’t want to) in the fight to end the horrific suffering of the people of Darfur. Along the way, J.P. has also been able to enlist many and various celebrities and big shots in this battle.

Although J.P. and I had not laid eyes on one another in over 25 years we were lucky enough to fall right back into an easy rapport. It was immediately apparent why he has been able to accomplish so much. His is an infectious and energizing presence. He has limitless passion — for his work, for sports, for his family — and he’s a very good storyteller. Plus he’s pretty funny.

All in all — a perfect dinner companion.

For my part — I was able to keep the bar staff busy.

More than anything, what struck me about J.P. was the urgency of his behavior.

Whether he was talking about the unspeakable tragedies he has witnessed, eating a roll or listening to one of my wild embellishments of past athletic exploits — there was motion, intensity, a kind of "more to be done" vibration pulsing across the table.

And the source of that is clear — for J.P., each moment that escapes, that is not fully utilized, translates into more innocent deaths, more devastating violence and more grinding despair.

J.P. has reached a place of influence — one that allows him (and those who work with him) to impact events in the worst place on earth. It’s exhilarating, fleetingly satisfying, maddening and sleepless.

There is always more to do. There are always faces that haunt.

The battle rages on. Many have joined the fight. Many more are needed.

What can one person do?

On November 2nd — the documentary Darfur Now! opened in New York and Los Angeles. If you live there, go see it. Over the next two weeks, it will open in cities across the country. If it opens in your city, go see it.

I know that most of us go to the movies to escape, to laugh, to watch stuff blow up and forget about how tough life is. But — trust me — Saw IV and The Game Plan aren't going anywhere.

On the other hand — how often can you actually help stem the tide of innocent blood and feel the power of having made a palpable difference — by going to a movie theater.

Genocide is happening right now. This very instant.

Now you know what one person can do.

This being a blog with an inescapable Irish shadow, I’ll hit you with a quote from an 1846 article in the Times of London discussing the plight of the starving Irish after a second potato crop failure:

“It is possible to have heard the tale of sorrow too often.”

And the Irish people died.

Is it really possible?

Monday, October 29, 2007


... emotion, a great song and a microphone.

I'd mentioned this exact moment in an earlier post. It is Ray Kelly of The Mickey Finns singing "Sean South" at the Dublin (OH) Irish Festival this past August.
By the way — England, get out of Ireland.

And as they drew along the street
Up to the barracks door
They scorned the danger they might face
Their fate that lay in store
They were fighting for old Ireland
To claim their very own
And the foremost of that gallant band
Was Sean of Garryowen
But the sergeant he spied their daring plan
He spied them through the door
With their Sten guns and their rifles
A hail of death did pour
And as the dark of night was passed
Two men lay cold as stone
There was one from near the border
And one from Garryowen
No more you'll hear the seagull's cry
O'er the roaring Shannon tide
For he fell beneath a northern sky
Great Hanlon by his side
They have gone to join that gallant band
Of Plunkett, Pearse, and Tone
Another martyr for old Ireland
Sean South from Garryowen

'Twas on a dreary New Year's Eve

As the shades of night came down

A lorry load of volunteers approached a border town

There were men from Dublin and from Cork

Fermanagh and Tyrone

But the leader was a Limerick man -

Sean South from Garryowen

Friday, October 26, 2007

Starter For 10

Do you like romantic comedies? John Cusack in The Sure Thing, Say Anything and High Fidelity? Do you think that the Undertones "Teenage Kicks", Motorhead's "Ace of Spades", The Cure's "In Between Days" and The Smiths "Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want" can peacefully co-exist within the same great movie? Do you like The Graduate? Do you find Kevin to be a poncey wanker? Do you fancy being clever? Or beautiful? Are you in love with life itself?

Then rent Starter for 10 tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


On Monday I had occasion to drive from Columbus, OH to Pittsburgh, PA and back. A little over six hours in all. My iPod was on the fritz and the cd player betrayed me. I was stuck with the unthinkable, the unimaginable, the unbearable:

The radio.

The choices east of Columbus and southwest of Pittsburgh — an area herewith known as the "The Forbidden Zone" — boiled down to the following:

1. Six to eight versions of Glenn Beck — Beck and his phlegm-throated sidekick spent an inordinate amount of time making fun of the nameless "celebrities" being victimized by the horrendous wildfires in Southern California. Beck seemed to be immensely irked at the fact that celebrities have money and opinions.

Like he doesn't have an abundance of both.

Beck proceeded to fashion anemic, profoundly unfunny riffs on a central theme — People idiotic enough to live in nice houses in Southern California are getting exactly what they deserve. And if they happen to have made a couple of successful movies and aren't Bruce Willis, then they really, really deserve it.

I know it's easy to pick on Glenn Beck — seeing as how he's a loudmouthed halfwit and all — but in all fairness, he does do two things worthy of note:

He stands up for the rights of wounded veterans and he champions the cause of the criminally undermanned and largely ignored Border Patrol.

Now back to him being a dick — he rails against those who waste time with trivial things and who can't see what's really important. Then he spends an hour yucking it up about incinerated houses. Does everyone with a microphone have to be a hypocrite? Is it in their contract?

2. Six to eight versions of Rush Limbaugh — If I have to go into any further detail, then you're beyond reason and have already angrily scrolled to your Drudge Report bookmark for a dose of "truth."

3. ESPN Radio — OK, this was cool — some Mike Tirico and Kirk Herbstreit kibbitzing and talking football and getting the straight dope from Hall-of-Famer Steve Young. This lasted 8 minutes and I lost the station somewhere around New Concord — the birthplace of John Glenn!

4. Six to eight versions of Bill O'Reilly — O'Reilly is the biggest bully in a schoolyard of screechers, drug addicts, sexual harassers, intellectual cripples and profuse perspirers who never got enough love or chicks growing up ... and they find their revenge — one day at a time — on the radio, attacking anyone with the temerity to hold views that might even remotely conflict with their own.

Bill O'Reilly has one weapon in the arena of debate: volume.

He shouts and bullies so you can't hear that what he's actually saying is moronic. I'm no tough guy but I'm pretty sure that, given the chance, I could beat the shit out of Bill O'Reilly ...
and there would be much rejoicing.

5. OLDIES!!!! — I never thought I'd weep for joy to hear Eydie Gorme and Steve Lawrence warble "Tonight I'll Say A Prayer For You My Love."

6. Evangelical radio — I could practically see the comb-over, the sweaty forehead, the swooning rubes and the hidden mistress waiting to place the call to TMZ the second the silver-tongued charlatan slipped into his Little Bo Peep outfit at the Motel 6 later that night.

7. One version (and that was plenty) of Dennis Miller — I hate to revisit the subject of Miller's stunning decline but, Holy Tin Ear For Comedy! In the 6.7 seconds before I could lunge at the dial, Miller was able to — irony-free — let his listeners know that he doesn't like Islamic fundamentalists because he objects to the way they treated Cat Stevens.

For all their bluster and buffoonery (and the satirical fodder they provide) — Beck, Limbaugh, O'Reilly and Miller are deeply troubling. They have the bully pulpit. They dominate the airwaves so completely. People listen to them as if they are speaking some kind of revelatory truth. How exactly did this happen?

Again, I appeal to you — set me straight. What am I missing? Is Rush Limbaugh really the voice of America? Is Glenn Beck truly our national conscience? Is Bill O'Reilly our intellectual touchstone? Is Dennis Miller really the new Eric Sevareid?

Here endeth my report on the insidious liberal media conspiracy.

Friday, October 12, 2007

A Perfect Moment

Some days are good days
Some days are bad days
And some days have perfect moments

Thursday, October 4, 2007


Once again, I must appeal for knowledge, wisdom, insight.

President Bush recently vetoed a bill that would have expanded and extended the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) — a program that helps pay for health insurance for children whose families aren't poor enough for Medicaid, but who still don't have health insurance. Families, by the way, that will soon have serious anger-management issues if the veto is not overridden by Congress.

SCHIP currently helps about 6.6 million kids across the country.

The bill would have increased spending on the program by $35 billion over five years with the hope of adding another 4 million kids to the program.

In vetoing SCHIP, President Bush said the bill was a step toward "socialized medicine." Yet, government-funded health insurance seems to be fine for him, his family, members of Congress, their families.

I was going to include military veterans in that list — but the VA said they misplaced the $5 brothersmcc inclusion fee. Then an hour later, they said they didn't misplace it all — they never had it in the first place. They were still waiting for it from Capitol Hill.

But I digress ...

President Bush seems to think that the $35 billion is too much to spend on the program — a program that enjoys bipartisan support, by the way. It's kids, for God's sake. What's not to like? Cute little moppets with stuffy noses and strep throat and asthma and allergies and diabetes and diarrhea.

I'm beginning to think President Bush doesn't like sick people. Or injured people.

Am I wrong? Am I misguided in thinking that President Bush is cynical enough to put millions of kids at risk because he wants to privatize their health insurance — a boon to the already filthy-rich and morally dubious insurance companies.
(except Anthem, of course, because they have pure souls and good hearts and a few claims forms coming their way from a certain over-caffeinated, highly-opinionated blowhard who doesn't know when to zip it.)

Am I just dead wrong when I muse out loud on the golf course that President Bush, Vice-President Cheney and the entire government have shirked their moral duty to care for our veterans by any and all means necessary?

If you believe I am, please set me straight. Persuade me that I am barking up the wrong callous, rotting, fantastically wealthy executive branch.

We are spending $1 billion a week on the war in Iraq — and President Bush wants tax cuts, and wants to freeze health care for kids in working families and leaves far too many military veterans out in the cold.
("1" being the empirical equivalent of "far too many.")

He wants to curb this wild federal spending spree.

i·ro·ny n
1. a type of humor based on using words to suggest the opposite of their literal meaning
2. something said or written that uses sardonic humor
3. incongruity between what actually happens and what might be expected to happen, especially when this disparity seems absurd or laughable
4. something that happens that is incongruous with what might be expected to happen, especially when this seems absurd or laughable
5. See dramatic irony
6. See Socratic irony
7. See $1 billion a week, President Bush, you muttonhead

The sweaty, wild histrionics of Sen. Ted Kennedy notwithstanding, there's a petition you can sign if you want to help these soon-to-be-uninsured kids. It's at Kennedy's own website, which gave me the willies when I went there but sometimes you just have to buck up.

I don't think you have to watch Kennedy's speech first but if you do, my apologies. Dude needs a bib.

Sunday, September 30, 2007


Remakes — as a general rule — usually result in angry movie-goers. Psycho, anyone? Diabolique? Planet of the Apes?

And westerns have been declared dead more times than Neidermeyer.

So what to make of 3:10 to Yuma — a remake of an obscure western? Purists may howl about that "obscure" claim but, frankly, who cares about howling purists?

In any event, I never saw the 1957 original and I'm glad I didn't. I went in fresh.

Cutting to the chase, 3:10 to Yuma is the best western I've ever seen. Yes, it's better than Unforgiven if only because my wife didn't fall asleep this time.

This is one great movie. Director James Mangold — who wonderfully mined similar territory in Copland and directed Reese Witherspoon to a statuette in Walk The Line — delivers an amazing experience. It's rare when you truly don't know what is going to happen next — and at the same time desperately care what's going to happen.

Mangold shares the credit for that with a great script (adapted from Elmore Leonard's short story) by three credited writers — which also usually spells trouble — but not here.

The script is a marvel of terse philosophical musings and classic western one-liners that sum up more than eighty paragraphs of Tarantino hyper-babble ever could.

The actors are simply perfect. Christian Bale and Russell Crowe work wonders together. Bale plays Dan Evans, a down-on-his-luck rancher and Civil War veteran (a visceral parallel to today's scrap-heaped veterans), who takes on the near-impossible task of getting the legendary outlaw Ben Wade (Crowe — having what looks like the time of his life) on the titular train to prison.

Christian Bale has what most actors only play at — complexity and emotional depth. You just believe every single thing this dude does and says. Bale finds every ounce of pain, regret and anger in Evans and breaks your heart.

Crowe is a movie star. He is also a juggernaut talent. He puts these two things together and creates possibly the most charismatic villain in western history.

The revelation — and there is always a revelation in a great movie, isn't there? — is Ben Foster as Charlie Prince, Wade's unhinged hair-trigger right-hand man. He is unrecognizable from his Six Feet Under days and nearly steals the movie from the two stars.

Westerns have always been good at supplying great supporting roles to great character actors. "3:10 to Yuma" delivers — Foster, Peter Fonda, Alan Tudyk and Dallas Roberts all hit home runs.

And remember this name — Logan Lerman. He is 15. He plays Dan Evans' son Will who worships Ben Wade. He is a star. You heard it here.

The violence is fast and furious in this film — but not one shell is fired gratuitously. It all has a purpose. It's not flashy ... it's violence.

Above all — everyone in "3:10 to Yuma" finds the truth. It's a morality tale with no easy answers and alot of hard questions.

Who knew a western could be so relevant in 2007?

Friday, September 21, 2007

Are You Kidding Me??

Are You Kidding Me??? What else can I say after reading what our elected knuckleheads decided to waste time [and tax payers money] on yesterday. Were they helping bring an end to the war? No. Were they working on affordable Health Care for everyone in the richest land in the world? No. Were they doing anything that would help you ... or anyone else, for that matter ... at all? No.

Read on, my friends. It's your tax dollars at work.

Behind a Republican push, and with the full force of President Bush, the Senate approved a resolution on Thursday, September 20th, 2007, denouncing the liberal antiwar group over an advertisement that questioned the credibility of Gen. David H. Petraeus , the American commander in Iraq .

For those of you who didn’t see the add – it was a pun:
General Petraeus or General Betray Us?

And why? Because the Republican party has pretty much fucked up everything that they have touched when it comes to their war [along with payoff scandals, sex scandals and a entire list of seedy behavior that would make a pimp blush], well, like I said, they have fucked things up so bad that they have to take pot shots like this to seem like they are the moral superiors to people who are calling them out on their bullshit.

Where the hell was this outrage when the Republicans ran the TV ad that morphed Max Cleland's face into Saddam Hussein's - while suggesting that Cleland was indifferent to the safety of the American people?

Here is part of Max Cleland’s bio.
Does this man seem like he is indifferent to the safety of the American people?
Is this the kind of man we should allow anyone throw dirt on?

Joseph Maxwell Cleland (born August 24, 1942) is an American politician from Georgia. Cleland, a Democrat, is a former U.S. Senator, disabled US Army veteran of the Vietnam War, and a critic of the Bush Administration. From 2003 to 2007, he served on the Board of Directors of the Export-Import Bank of the United States, a Presidentially appointed position.

Military Service:
Cleland served in the United States Army during the Vietnam War, attaining the rank of Captain. He was awarded the Silver Star and the Bronze Star for valorous action in combat, including during the Battle of Khe Sanh on April 4th, 1968.

On April 8, 1968, Captain Cleland was the Battalion Signal Officer for the 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division; he was wounded during the Battle of Khe Sanh. Due to the severity of his injuries, doctors amputated both his legs above the knee and his right forearm.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


Dennis Miller has moments of brilliance. He has made me laugh until I cried. He has made me nasal-spank my beer with his uniquely acerbic and ultra-hyphenated, multi-tiered references and rants. His outrage made for sporadically great, often hilarious social and political commentary. Dennis Miller could be downright inspiring.

Because of that, it was easy to overlook his occasional pretension. His apparent bottomless need to appear hip and ingratiate himself with other celebrities. His interview skills — rivaled only by those of Chevy Chase. And the fact that he always seemed spectacularly ill-at-ease on-camera and on-stage. No problemo.

Because he was funny.

Now he’s on radio — ostensibly the perfect medium for his jittery, self-conscious mode of expression.

On Monday, I caught his radio act for the first time. I listened for fifteen minutes. With that comprehensive data, I am ready to render a verdict:

Dennis Miller has lost his funny.

Now, much has been made of his “conversion” after 9/11. His point of view has become increasingly conservative. He has been co-opted by the right. He has been pilloried by the left.

Frankly, I could care less about his political persuasion. I’m a left-leaning commie pinko (so I’m told) but I love the writing of P.J. O’Rourke. For one reason — he is funny. He may be dead wrong about a lot of things but he kills me.

For those fifteen minutes, Dennis Miller was a strident, groping mess. He was lathered up about how Democratic leaders keep harping on the absence of WMD and that they should just give it up after 5 years already. “Can we just move on, please?” he wants to know. He then went on to make the case that, instead of vilifying the actions of the Bush administration and carping about a hopeless war, we should hail ourselves as feminists. That’s right — the latest and best reason that we are at war in Iraq is, according to Dennis Miller, because Iraqi men treat their women like shit.

Of course, if by being in Iraq, soldiers are able to improve the lot of abused women there, that is great. But to use that as the new, shiny reason that American men and women are turning the sand maroon with their blood ... it was disturbing to hear.

Besides, if that’s really the case, certain pockets of Philly better get ready for some serious daisy-cutters and bunker-busters. You know who you are, fuckers.

It was a sad moment. It felt like a death blow to a rare comic talent. Miller was borderline hysterical. He's made the fatal mistake of becoming an ideologue. He’s now blinded by the light of righteousness. He is now comedy’s version of Jackson Browne circa Lives in the Balance and World in Motion. In a word — an unbearable blowhard.

Fine … three words.

Now — Jackson Browne has made some of my all-time favorite music. His first 5 records are classics. However in the 1980’s he began churning out ideological song after strident message tune after unwieldy “important” ditty. Only they weren’t songs at all, they were lectures. As he found ideology, he lost me.

Jackson Browne has wended his way back — realizing somewhat that no one interested in buying records wants to be barked at. Especially by a wife-beating folk singer.

One can only hope that Dennis Miller gives up the dogma and remembers what made him great — the ability to see reality as more than black and white … and then give it a pie in the face.

Thursday, September 6, 2007


(Ed. A while back we blogged in honor of Howard Porter, the former Villanova basketball star who was found beaten to death in Minneapolis. We lauded his hoop greatness and his battle back from the abyss of drug addiction.
He was one of my first sports idols. And I called him a hero for turning his life around and helping others.

He did do all that.

But Porter was unable to conquer his demons entirely. According to murder charges filed Tuesday, Porter was trying to trade money and crack cocaine for sex with a hooker when he was beaten to death.

What is more tragic than tragedy? Whatever that word is, it fits here.
The irony is that I had just finished writing about another long-ago sports hero. Not to spoil it — but — this one ends better.)

I watched the recent ESPN miniseries “The Bronx is Burning” — a relentlessly entertaining chronicle of the 1977 New York Yankees’ dysfunctional run to the World Series. The show centered on the triangle of Billy Martin (a Spock-eared and intense John Turturro), Reggie Jackson (the estimable Daniel Sunjata — who you can see weekly on friggin’ RESCUE ME, people!) and George Steinbrenner (a fun, if scenery-pulverizing, Oliver Platt.)

Reggie Jackson took center stage in the miniseries. He was the lightning rod. And he cemented his legend by hitting three home runs in Game Six to clinch the Series for the Yanks. In 1977, Reggie Jackson became a folk hero.

In one episode, amidst all the bluster and drama, was a fleeting glimpse of a forgotten star doing his own home run trot. It was just a second or two but it was unmistakable.

It was the “other” Reggie.

Reggie Smith was a member of the ’77 Dodger team that lost to the Yankees. He was also their best player. He may be the greatest player in major league history you’ve never heard of.

With career stats that surpass a number of Hall-of-Famers, he was a seven-time All-Star, a Gold Glover, and the most feared switch-hitter in the game. He also possessed the most lethal throwing arm of any outfielder during his career.

In that epic ’77 World Series, he also hit three home runs. Just not in one game. So Reggie Jackson got a candy bar named after him, a bust at Cooperstown and immortality. Reggie Smith got the undying adulation of a pasty-white Irish-Catholic coke-bottle-glasses complexion-challenged 14-year-old in Philly (Okay, I was a late bloomer.)

Reggie Smith was the epitome of cool — from the menacing, gum-chomping stare to the pre-Sheffield bat waggle to the rifle right arm he used to just erase guys at the plate. Reggie Smith did the impossible — he made playing right field cool.

For that alone, he deserves to be in Cooperstown.

In his career, Reggie Smith hit 314 home runs, was one clutch bastard and led the league in simmering competitive fire. He had run-ins with teammates, the media, management and fans. But all he did was win. In 16 years, his teams had winning records 13 times. He played in 4 World Series, getting a ring with the Dodgers in 1981. And he was a keeper of the long lost art of the helmet ‘fro.

I wanted to be Reggie Smith. In fact, there was a large chunk of time when I wished I was black. Everywhere I turned for inspiration back then, it seemed like an African-American was holding the torch. In ’77 — Reggie Smith’s best season — my favorite hoopster was Doctor J. My favorite musician was pre-nutjob Michael. My favorite football player was Walter Payton. I even went deep into The Autobiography of Malcolm X. I cried when Jim Brown died in The Dirty Dozen. And Billy Dee Willliams in Brian’s Song? I ran like him for years. Not Gayle Sayres. Billy Dee Williams. Might explain my less-than-stellar football career.

I thought being black must be the coolest because they were the best at everything — except, of course, golf and hockey. Black was beautiful. Sugar Ray Leonard. Lola Falana. Ben Vereen. Sidney Poitier. Even the sister on Good Times.

Black is still beautiful but Reggie Smith is one who endured for me.

I followed him even through his bizarre year in Japan, where he clashed with everyone and weathered racial attacks — both physical and verbal. Through it all, Reggie Smith never got his due, it seems. And that made his cool factor go even deeper.

When his major league career ended in 1982, Smith had more home runs than any other switch-hitter in history except one — some dude named Mantle.

Reggie Smith is a baseball lifer. And, by all accounts, a stand-up guy. He worked for the Dodgers after he retired. He was a hitting instructor, a first base coach, a front office jockey.
He coached the 2000 Olympic baseball team to it’s stunning upset of Cuba for the gold.
Billy Crystal hired him to get Barry Pepper to play like Roger Maris and Thomas Jane to swing like Mickey Mantle for the movie *61. His baseball instruction company, Reggie Smith Baseball Centers, is well-respected and successful.

Yet Reggie Smith still flies under the radar. He is still the “other” Reggie.

But not here.

Here and now — he is the “only” Reggie. One sports hero who never disappointed.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Dead Certain

Last night, I tried to think of exactly what I wanted to say about the situation our country is in. Basically, we’re currently stuck with a president [small ‘p’ intentional] who lies to us. And he lies to us on a daily basis. Last night, Keith Olbermann voiced what I could not find the words for.

Thank you, sir.

By Keith Olbermann
Anchor, 'Countdown'

And so he is back from his annual surprise gratuitous photo-op in Iraq, and what a sorry spectacle it was. But it was nothing compared to the spectacle of one unfiltered, unguarded, horrifying quotation in the new biography to which Mr. Bush has consented.

As he deceived the troops at Al-Asad Air Base yesterday with the tantalizing prospect that some of them might not have to risk being killed and might get to go home, Mr. Bush probably did not know that, with his own words, he had already proved that he had been lying, is lying and will be lying about Iraq.
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He presumably did not know that there had already appeared those damning excerpts from Robert Draper's book “Dead Certain."

“I'm playing for October-November," Mr. Bush said to Draper. That, evidently, is the time during which, he thinks he can sell us the real plan, which is “to get us in a position where the presidential candidates will be comfortable about sustaining a presence."

Comfortable, that is, with saying about Iraq, again quoting the President, “stay... longer."

And there it is. We've caught you. Your goal is not to bring some troops home, maybe, if we let you have your way now. Your goal is not to set the stage for eventual withdrawal. You are, to use your own disrespectful, tone-deaf word, playing at getting the next Republican nominee to agree to jump into this bottomless pit with you, and take us with him, as we stay in Iraq for another year, and another, and another, and anon.

Everything you said about Iraq yesterday, and everything you will say, is a deception, for the purpose of this one cynical, unacceptable, brutal goal: perpetuating this war indefinitely.

War today, war tomorrow, war forever!

And you are playing at it! Playing!

A man with any self respect, having inadvertently revealed such an evil secret, would have already resigned and fled the country! You have no remaining credibility about Iraq.

And yet, yesterday at Al-Asad, Mr. Bush kept playing, and this time, using the second of his two faces.

The president told reporters, “They (General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker) tell me if the kind of success we are now seeing continues, it will be possible to maintain the same level of security with fewer American forces."

And so, Mr. Bush got his fraudulent headlines today. “Bush May Bring Some Troops Home."

While the reality is, we know from what he told Draper, that the president's true hope is that they will not come home; but that they will stay there, because he is keeping them there now, in hope that those from his political party fighting to succeed him will prolong this unendurable disaster into the next decade.

But, to a country dying of thirst, the president seemed to vaguely promise a drink from a full canteen -- a promise predicated on the assumption that he is not lying.

Yet you are lying, Mr. Bush. Again. But now, we know why.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The Time Seems Right

Hey All;

The times seems right to remind everyone ... with the help of John Prine:

Your Flag Decal Won't Get You Into Heaven Anymore
© John Prine

While digesting Reader's Digest
In the back of a dirty book store,
A plastic flag, with gum on the back,
Fell out on the floor.
Well, I picked it up and I ran outside
Slapped it on my window shield,
And if I could see old Betsy Ross
I'd tell her how good I feel.

But your flag decal won't get you
Into Heaven any more.
They're already overcrowded
From this dirty little war.
Now Jesus don't like killin'
No matter what the reason's for,
And your flag decal won't get you
Into Heaven any more.

Well, I went to the bank this morning
And the cashier he said to me,
"If you join the Christmas club
We'll give you ten of them flags for free."
Well, I didn't mess around a bit
I took him up on what he said.
And I stuck them stickers all over my car
And one on my wife's forehead.

Well, I got my window shield so filled
With flags I couldn't see.
So, I ran the car upside a curb
And right into a tree.
By the time they got a doctor down
I was already dead.
And I'll never understand why the man
Standing in the Pearly Gates said...

"But your flag decal won't get you
Into Heaven any more.
We're already overcrowded
From this dirty little war.
Now Jesus don't like killin'
No matter what the reason's for,
And your flag decal won't get you
Into Heaven any more."

Sunday, August 5, 2007


The 20th annual Dublin (OH.) Irish Festival ended just a couple of hours ago. And of the many certainties to emerge from this latest gathering of my well-lubricated people, two stand out:

1. With apologies to The Hold Steady, Jesse Malin and anyone else currently plugging in and rocking hard, the best live band going right now is Flogging Molly. As Trip might say, "These guys believe." As Scott might say, "They were un-fucking-believable." What I say: To have been in that steamy, stinking, sweaty tent in Central Ohio when Dave King (above) and his cohorts ripped through their set of joyous Celtic powerhouse rock and roll is to have forgotten all the bullshit and regained your faith.

I've never seen the generational mix — and I mean, enthusiastic, fanatic and willing mix — that we saw tonight. Lacoste-wearing boomers were jabbing their fists in the air alongside redneck kilt-wearers who were next to pierced, mohawked teens who were pogoing in the personal space of , well, us. And we (the missus and I) were screaming at the top of our lungs.

In between long pulls of adult beverages. (Killian's for me and Coors Light for the wife — hey, that's all they had!!!!)

It was rock and roll. It was Irish. It was beautiful.

Frontman Dave King — a Dubliner of the Irish sort — led the band from searing punk-folk tales to soaring heartbroken ballads to all-out fiddle-fueled rave-ups. Christ! I can't sit still even now! Just writing about it!

Ok. There. I'm back.

Dave King is a true believer. He is a storyteller with a punk rock bent who never, ever forgot the old country. He is currently Ireland's most vital rock and roller and Flogging Molly is the band you need to see.

No one needs a set list but I will say that Flogging Molly paid angry, loving tribute to the great Tommy Makem, dedicating "What's Left of The Flag" (from Drunken Lullabies) to his memory.

Flogging Molly was turned down by every label in the universe. Nobody "got " them. Except their fans. Now they have three records out and a cult following and you'll never hear them on the radio.

Believe the non-hype.

See them. Hear them. Be a Rebel of the Sacred Heart.

The Mickey Finns are the next great Irish/NYC bar band and lead growler Ray Kelly is the heir apparent if the throne were shared by Shane MacGowan and Mike Ness.

I had never even heard of these guys before this weekend. In fact, I was a little skeptical of the name. Mickey Finns — it conjured up images of a bar filled with cheesy faux-Irish neon signs and that served green beer on March 17th.

Shows what I know.

Ray Kelly is relentless and intense and has a classic Irish rock and roll snarl. He led the Finns (a band culled from the original line-ups of The Prodigals and Raglan Road) through a tight, nasty set of Irish rockers. The fiddle player, Matt Mancuso, is a virtuoso. He's also an Italian dude from Brooklyn. See, we are a nation of immigrants. Even the Italians are down with paddy.

Here's the thing. The Prodigals played as well. And they are a very good band. And fun in concert. Gregory Grene, the lead singer, is as genial and energetic a performer as you're likely to come across. He is alot of fun.

Ray Kelly moves you.

And he provided the moment of the festival. Taking the mike — and singing a cappella with a barely concealed rage that seemed to shoulder the entire troubled history of his native Ireland — Kelly purged himself of "Sean South", an anthem about a fallen Irish republican made famous by the Wolf Tones. The performance gave me chills and nearly brought me to tears. I'll never forget it.

There were other great moments as well — not the least of which was the furious rendition of "Star of the County Down" by Homeland — a Dayton-area band. It was their tribute to Mr. Makem. Homeland is a solid, reliable band with a lead singer my wife kinda digs so we'll never be seeing them perform live again. They also have a fiddle player who is flat-out brilliant and looks like Oliver Reed circa Tommy with a perpetual hangover. Take a moment.

Finally, the wonder of Black 47. The ageless, nearly translucent and always ecstatic Larry Kirwan never fails to deliver the goods. And he unleashed two heated, politically pointed anti-war songs from their forthcoming record. The reception from the Columbus crowd was decidedly mixed. The reception from me was Fuckin' A, Wally. The songs were great and tragic — less funk and more punk. Which is how I like my Black 47.

If an Irish festival is coming near you — join Paddy Nation for the day.
If not — buy some Irish music, turn it up, tell the neighbors and drink a pint.
Hell, I'll kiss you.

Friday, August 3, 2007

The Rough '24 Hours' Continue

World-acclaimed Irish singer, songwriter Tommy Makem dies in N.H.

By David Tirrell-Wysocki, Associated Press Writer | August 2, 2007

DOVER, N.H. --Acclaimed Irish singer, songwriter and storyteller Tommy Makem has died of cancer, ending a worldwide entertainment career that spanned more than five decades. He was 74.

Makem died Wednesday at a nursing home near his home in Dover, surrounded by family and friends, his son, Conor Makem, said Thursday.

Makem grew to international fame while performing with the band The Clancy Brothers And Tommy Makem in the late 1950s and 1960s.

President Mary McAleese of Ireland led the tributes, saying Makem brought happiness and joy to fans all over the world.

"Always the consummate musician, he was also a superb ambassador for the country, and one of whom we will always be proud," McAleese said.

Liam Clancy also remembered his life-long music partner.

"Tommy was a man of high integrity, honesty, and his courage really shone through towards the end," he told RTE Radio in Dublin, Ireland.

Clancy and Makem teamed up after emigrating to the United States from Ireland in the late 1950s where they began careers in acting, before turning to music.

Armed with his banjo, tinwhistle, poetry, stagecraft and his baritone voice, Makem helped spread stories and songs of Irish culture around the world.

"He just had the knack of making an audience laugh or cry... holding them in his hands," Clancy said.

In New Hampshire, Makem performed at the Statehouse this year for Gov. John Lynch's inaugural celebration.

"It was known that he was not well, yet he played with typical passion and wit, evoking tears of joy and sadness from those assembled," Lynch said on Thursday.

He called Makem a state, national and international treasure.

"With a strong voice and even stronger spirit, Tommy inspired millions," Lynch said.

An ailing Makem visited Belfast last month to receive an honorary degree from the University of Ulster and returned to his native Armagh.

Son Conor, accompanied Makem on the trip.

"He had very much wanted to get over there," Makem said. "I think he knew it might have been his last time over."

Conor Makem said his dad basically held court in a hotel.

"Friend and relatives came to visit him and I think he had time of his life visiting with people," he said.

Makem was best known for songs such as The Green Fields of France, Gentle Annie and Red is the Rose.

He brought audiences to tears with perhaps his signature tune, "Four Green Fields," a 1967 folk song about a woman whose sons died trying to prevent strangers from taking her four green fields.

With the Clancy Brothers, he appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show, the Tonight Show and on every major television network show in the United States, and they soon became the four most famous Irishmen in the world, according to a biography on his web site.

They played to audiences from New York's Carnegie Hall and London's Royal Albert Hall to every major concert venue in the English-speaking world.

Even while battling cancer, Makem was maintaining a performance schedule, with gigs listed through this fall.

His final performance, Conor Makem said, was last spring at a Gaelic festival in Chicago.

"He had trouble finishing, so I think he did just a few songs in one set," he said.

His web site reported that Makem once was asked if he planned to retire.

"Yes, of course," he said. "I retire every night and in the morning when I awake I realize just how lucky and privileged I am to be able to continue doing the things I love to do."

Tuesday, July 31, 2007


Three gone in the last 24 hours. Sidney Lumet, Don Shula and David Letterman better watch their cholesterol.

Ingmar Bergman:
The epitome of the "serious" filmmaker. He changed the psychological landscape of film. It's pointless to go into all of his achievements and the depth of his influence. There were Oscar nominations galore and universal reverence for decades. Plus he managed to hook up with Liv Ullman.
Please — forget all that. Just watch one of his movies. Pick one: Fanny and Alexander, Autumn Sonata, Cries and Whispers, The Seventh Seal for starters. Just try one.
Have I ever steered you wrong?

Bill Walsh:
He was nicknamed "The Genius" for the love of God. Walsh didn't so much break new ground but explode old creaky machines and replace them with the smooth-running highly efficient West Coast offense. Without Walsh's freak intellect and countless coaching innovations, football would be nearly unrecognizable. Walsh won 3 Super Bowls with the San Francisco 49'ers and his disciples are scattered far and wide, ensuring that Walsh's impact will be felt for decades to come.

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Tom Snyder:
He had the first late-late-night talk show and he was a true original. He changed the nature and the tone of talk television. He was the wild-card-weird-uncle who chain smoked and went stream-of-consciousness every now and then. But no one could interview like him and everyone showed up on his program sooner or later — from Ayn Rand to Charles Manson to John Lennon.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Steve Earle, Lucinda Williams, Elvis Costello & Mos Def

My son got to pick the movie we watched last night, and for some reason (the undeniable lure of Will Ferrell for a 10 year old?) he went with Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. Now for those of you that haven't seen it (and I'll assume it's most of you except for my youngest brother Kevin), it's as bad as you probably think it is. Will Ferrell does his usual schtick, just not nearly as entertaining as say, Elf. Sacha Baron Cohen is dreadful as the gay, French NASCAR driver (it's about as funny as it sounds).

BUT... early in the film Steve Earle's "Hard Core Troubadour" pops up out of nowhere, only to be followed later in the movie by "I Feel Alright" and the bittersweet "Valentine's Day". Then Lucinda sweetly tackles on over-the-credits "Gentle on My Mind".

Elvis Costello and Mos Def? They appear, without reason or explanation, lunching at the Cohen character's palatial estate. Weird.

Skip the movie... buy the soundtrack. Or better yet, head to the nearest independent cd store and get yourself a copy of Steve Earle's I Feel Alright that contains not only the three Earle songs from the movie but also a magnificent duet with Lucinda Williams "You're Still Standin' There".

Sunday, July 22, 2007


It's never too late to discover a great movie. And a spectacular performance.

You'll find both in The Magdalene Sisters (2002).

This is one of those movies I had been intent on seeing but never quite able to negotiate it into the DVD player. Until last night.

Please don't wait as long as I did.

The Magdalene Sisters is a wrenching account — based on true stories — of life inside the barbaric Magdalene Laundries Of Ireland. Women were sent to these de facto prisons for crimes such as being raped, overtly liking boys and having a baby out of wedlock. The film explores the harrowing cruelty inside one such place — through the eyes of three inmates:

Margaret is the one who was raped. Bernadette liked flirting. Rose had a baby without being married.

Written and directed by the estimable Peter Mullan (a brilliant Scottish actor who's appeared in such films as Braveheart, My Name is Joe and Miss Julie), The Magdalene Sisters is not easy but it is riveting. On its surface, the movie is a bald indictment of the Catholic Church's treatment of women — the nuns who run the joint are either steadfastly cruel or bug-eye crazy. Some are both. The inmates are all innocent victims.

But there is more going on than a big fuck-you to the Pope and the Sisters of Mercy and all the freaky sex-starved priests out there.

(Ed. I had the Sisters of Mercy for eight years of grade-school and they weren't all that sadistic; though there was a preponderance of bad breath. Could the order not pony up for some Listerine? )

The lasting effects of sustained, indefinite abuse are explored with a gripping attention to detail and an unflinching eye.

The movie ultimately is not just an indictment of the Catholic Church — it is relevant in a searing, I-dare-you-to look-away fashion. You can't help but think about the Taliban, honor killing and ritual circumcision — especially when you realize that the last laundry in Ireland closed its doors in 1996.

Yes — 1996.

We like to believe that backward, primitive barbarism is the province of far-away, of those who are nothing like us. Clearly, it's closer to us than we think.

The Vatican denounced the movie when it was released. I couldn't possibly come up with a better reason to watch it.

The great performance?

In a film with not a false acting note, a woman named Eileen Walsh steals the show. She plays Crispina, a mentally handicapped woman interred so she won't be taken advantage of by predators. So naturally she ends up blowing the parish priest.

Walsh (she's the one on the right) is stunning. She is funny, heartbreaking and sometimes downright scary. The fact that her performance generated zero interest or attention is mind-boggling.

Or maybe its not.

This movie is a a test of wills. Let your will win — it'll be worth it.

Friday, July 20, 2007


Someone once said that 90 percent of genius is just showing up.

When it comes to family, friends, rock and roll and the St. Joe's Hawks — Trip's genius has no rival.

He shows up. He takes part. He "does it all."

And what do I think of when I reflect on Teeker galloping into geezer-dom?

The moments.

It's always the moments, isn't it?

What would life be like if Trip had not shown up?

Circumstances prohibit me from listing those moments at present but they will be coming soon.

Until then —

Happy 50th Birthday to my big brother Trip — the richest man in town.

Monday, July 16, 2007


I'm a little late with this but, frankly, no one's paying me so I have no deadline.

I can say without reservation that Kevin McClatchy is one helluva good guy.

It was ironic that I was in western PA. when the news broke that Kevin was stepping down from his job with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He and I have been linked since 1996, the year the "other" Kevin engineered the purchase of the belly-up Pirates, keeping major-league baseball in Pittsburgh and becoming the youngest owner in the league.

And before we go any further — let me reiterate, re-emphasize, magnify, bellow and beat a dead horse:
Kevin McClatchy saved baseball in Pittsburgh. Any argument to the contrary is either the 15th Iron City talking or just plain old idiot spite. So when your grandkids are hootin' and hollerin' and living and dying with every pitch as the Pirates make their triumphant return to the playoffs — keep a kind thought for the guy who allowed it to happen.


Kevin contacted me in '96 and we struck up a friendship. Without turning this into a gossip column or the McClatchy social newsletter, I'll state that Kevin has been nothing less than generous with his time, effort, sense of humor and owner's seat at PNC Park.

In '96 I was making soap opera history on Another World (Skinniest Man Ever To Make The Cover of Soap Opera Digest) and Kevin was the youngest owner in the majors. I was getting requests for charitable donations — seeing as how I owned a baseball team and had an acting job. Kevin was getting the opportunity to make jokes about that.

When he and I finally met, I sat in his office overlooking PNC Park and we just shot the shit. He is the most ego-less, pretension-free rich guy I've ever come across. He may have made his share of mistakes as owner of the Pirates but it was refreshing as hell to sit with him at a "meaningless" late-season game and watch him live and die with every pitch.

And he did. He wanted so badly to bring winning back to the Pirates.

Yeah, he wanted to raise the price of tickets after losing 100 games one year but ...
Okay, I have no explanation for that.

But he did 10,000 great things for Pittsburgh as well — and the good dwarfed the bad.

Yes, in win and losses, Kevin's tenure as owner of the Pirates was less than great.

And, yes, when you get right down to it, it's all about wins and losses.

So remember this — Kevin McClatchy, rich guy from Sacramento who could have taken any number of easier roads, came to Pittsburgh, saved the goddamn team, built a killer park, took a complete beating from assorted hack writers and hysterical radio mutants, hung in there (he's an athlete, let's not forget) then told the truth to whoever would listen and did it with a healthy dose of sly wit.

Kevin McClatchy gave the yinzers their biggest win — Pittsburgh got to keep their team.

Furthermore, Kevin is the only owner of a professional franchise that I would like to have more than one beer with.

I have no higher praise for "the man."

Now, Kev, about that tee time at your club ...

Sunday, July 15, 2007

10,000 & 50 Are Huge Numbers

I bore witness yesterday to loss 10,000 for the Phillies franchise. As I approach a half century, is there any chance I'll see another World Series, NBA or Super Bowl championship in Philadelphia in my lifetime? And don't even start with the Flyers... with hockey's current television package it ranks just below hot dog eating contests on the "real sports" list.

Should I just tell my son to forget about sports?

Help me... I need a winner. Tell me something good.

Sunday, July 8, 2007


Nothing says All-American and apple pie better than baseball... unless you live in Philadelphia, where, despite my own sworn blood oath to the Saint Joseph's University basketball team, the city's religion is unquestionably, undoubtedly, definitively the Philadelphia Eagles.

And over the last 6 months, my son has become obsessed with the NFL. Each morning brings a new inquiry - "Is Brian Westbrook good?" Yes. "How good?" He's pretty good. "Hall of Fame?". I don't think so, he'd have to have many more great years. "OK Dad." That template has been repeated often enough that we've whittled it down to this shorthand. "Jerry Rice?" Hall of Fame, buddy.

My son's NFL interest is contagious and I await each new discovery. "Dad!! The Panthers just signed David Carr to a two-year contract!" Huh? What time is it? 6:15! That's great buddy... go back to sleep. OK Dad.

Yesterday I took Sean and four friends to an autograph signing for Eagles's CB Sheldon Brown. These kids... their love is pristine. The shrieks of delight when we spotted Shedon Brown's BMW were almost as overwhelming as the awestruck silence by each child as they got their autographs, filing by reverently without so much as a word spoken or a hand shook.

I hope I haven't set my son up for years of heartbreak, but I suppose it's better to have rooted and lost than to have never rooted at all.

This year... Super Bowl, baby!!

Thursday, July 5, 2007


Satch's post got me thinking:

A very good friend of mine who has given his entire adult life to government and military service — and who is the 2nd smartest person I’ve ever known — said this to me as George Bush prepared to take office in 2001:

“If Bush didn’t have Cheney, I’d be worried. But I’ve been around Cheney. I’ve worked with him. He is smart, tough, will do what needs to be done. The right way.”

At that time, this very good friend of mine was the smartest person I’d ever known. And what he said made me breathe a little easier. I relaxed about the prospect of an inarticulate addict taking the highest office.

(Yes, I meant to type “addict.” For me "addict" is synonymous with “drunk." As a born-again Christian, George W. Bush has simply traded one addiction for another, in my completely underqualified medical/spiritual assessment. This is not to say that all born-again Christians have traded one addiction for another … just all the ones I have come across. So for the sake of a classic Irish-Catholic snap judgment — yes, without a doubt, all born-again Christians are trading up in the addiction showroom. And furthermore — any ideologue, regardless of their spiritual affiliation, political stripe or acting technique, is a kook. So there. )

Anyway, this friend of mine assured me that all would be cool with Cheney lurking the halls of power.

It is a measure of the genius gap between Smartest People I’ve Ever Known #’s 1 & 2 and the rest of us that this friend has fallen only one spot after such a monumentally dickheaded assessment.

The last thing I’m going to do is catalogue all the deceit, treachery, fleecing, spilled blood, criminal acts, public profanity and fart jokes for which Bush and Cheney are responsible.

But I will mention two things:

1. My father-in-law — a respected psychologist — told me about a study done at Duke University. The study examined — if I got everything straight — presidential behavior from the Carter administration to the present in order to explore why presidents invariably become too big for their britches and do power-mad, idiotic things. In a nutshell, it’s the “Because I think it, it is right” syndrome. There are no rules in this rarified air of unchallenged opinions. These men actually begin to believe that they can —and should — act with impunity; that they know best and everyone else can just pucker up and smooch their imperial buttocks.

This is why Bush has gone off the rails and Cheney is growing horns and cloven hooves as we speak. They believe in their own infallibility. So did Clinton and Bush the Elder. Which brings me directly to —

2. Why in the name of Nixon Weinberger Rich Libby do we even have presidential pardons?
— I will be forever in the debt of whoever can educate me as to why we allow rich, privileged men to upend the judicial system in service of bailing out their criminal, scuzball friends and covering their own asses. Why do we do that? Why do we diminish ourselves in that way?

Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.

BE PATRIOTIC (Written by Satch)

(Ed. — Satch is having technological issues so here is his July 4th offering.)

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Be Patriotic!

Hey kids!! It's the 4th of July — the day we celebrate our nations independence from the tyranny and heavy0handed rule of an authority that the populace no longer believed in or supported.

Well, that time has come again. The tyranny and heavy-handed rule of the Bush administration has once again turned it's back on the American people and circled the wagons around it's own camp.

"All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent."
— Thomas Jefferson

It's the 4th of July, do something patriotic; call the White House and tell them that you are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore ... write a letter ... do it ... make the spirit of Thomas Jefferson proud!!!

"That government is the strongest of which every man feels himself a part." — Thomas Jefferson

Do you feel that your needs and concerns are being met by the current administration?

Do you feel that those in power care about your health care plan?

You work hard and pay your taxes, do you feel that it's OK for Cheney and his friends at Halliburton to move their "corporate office" out of the USA to avoid paying taxes:

3/12/07: reports that contracting giant Halliburton is moving its corporate headquarters from the United States to the United Arab Emirates, which will help it avoid taxes and accountability from federal investigators. The company is also in the process of disposing all its ownership in the scandal-plagued KBR, "notorious for overcharging the military and serving contaminated food and water to the troops in Iraq." The article goes on to report that this isn't the first time Halliburton has used tactics to avoid accountability and restrictions.

Do you think if you shot someone you’d get in trouble? This current administration and its cronies have time and time again put themselves above the law. Do you feel that’s fair?

"Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government.” - Thomas Jefferson.

President Bush has lower approval ratings than Nixon had … so why do we let him continue?

I like reading the quotes by Jefferson. They remind me that the more things change, the more they have stayed the same. But more than that, they confirm the notion that you can be a patriot, love your country AND question its rulers. I use the word “rulers” because that is what the US has these days, rulers, not leaders.

What is so funny about peace, love and understanding?

Written by Steven Van Zandt

And the river opens for the righteous someday

I was walking with my brother
And he wondered what's on my mind
I said what I believe in my soul
Ain't what I see with my eyes
And we can't turn our backs this time

I am a patriot
And I love my county
Because my country is all I know
I want to be with my family
People who understand me
I've got nowhere else to go

And the river opens for the righteous someday

And I was talking with my sister
She looked so fine
I said, "Baby, what's on your mind?"
She said, "I want to run like the lion
Released from the cages
Released from the rages
Burning in my heart tonight"

And I ain't no communist
And I ain't no capitalist
And I ain't no socialist
And I ain't no imperialist
And I ain't no democrat
So I ain't no republican
I only know one party
And it is freedom

I am a patriot
And I love my country
Because my country is all I know

And the river opens for the righteous someday

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


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John Prendergast had the funkiest jumper I've ever seen. It would start somewhere down around his hip, roll up the side of his body and be slung whiplash-style somewhere in the direction of the basket.

All this occurred — in defiance of the laws of physics — with the timing and weird natural athleticism that was unique to J.P. For all the herky-jerky spin-move mania that was J.P.'s pigeon-toed game in high school, the kid could ball because he never stopped moving, never got tired and was fearless. And he believed.

These same attributes — plus a healthy dose of moral outrage and big-time smarts — have led J.P. to the summit of human rights activism.

He has spent the better part of the last quarter-century shining a spotlight on the most troubled parts of Africa — tirelessly raising the alarm for those who cannot raise it themselves. From the Ethopian famine to the killing fields of Northern Uganda, Somalia and, most recently, Darfur in northern Sudan — J.P. has borne witness, documented and shouted from rooftops about the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent victims.

J.P. has now written a book with Oscar-nominated actor and fellow activist Don Cheadle. It is called Not On Our Watch.

And I suggest that you read it.

Now I know what you are thinking — because I have had the exact same thoughts:

"Africa? What about all the problems we have right here in the U.S.?"

"Um ... we are at war ourselves."

"Genocide. I mean ... genocide! What could I possibly do that would change something so huge?"

"Africa — the place is hopeless."

We do have urgent crises here. We are at war. And "Genocide" is a problem so huge, so halfway-around-the-world and so nobody-I-know that it is difficult to get fired up.

I read Not On Our Watch and it was stunning. I felt proud to know J.P. and count him as a friend. Ultimately, though, I was moved not by John and Don's remarkable commitment, nor the inspiring efforts of students across the country or even the wrenching photos in the middle of the book — but by a single description in the book:

"Amina ... had fled her village during an attack. Her husband had been shot ... She had two of her children on her back and the other two in her arms as about twenty Janjaweed (the government-sponsored militia) chased her on camels. First they ripped her five-year-old, Adom, from her, and when she stopped running and begged for her child, they told her they would shoot her. So she continued running away from her village that was up in flames. The Janjaweed then tossed Adom into the fire. He was screaming and calling her name but she just kept running."

I have a five-year-old.
How can I do nothing?

Who benefits from my action? I do.
Who benefits from your action? You will.