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?