Saturday, December 13, 2008

My Favorite Tracks Of 2008



1. “Requiem For A Dying Song” – Flogging Molly
2. “The Cheapest Key” – Kathleen Edwards
3. “The ’59 Sound” – The Gaslight Anthem
4. “Love In Her Eyes” – Reckless Kelly
5. “Feels Like Home” – Randy Newman
6. “Who Am I To Say” – Justin Townes Earle
7. “The Last Pale Light In The West” – Ben Nichols
8. “Stolen Shoes & A Rifle” – Blitzen Trapper
9. “Old Enough” – The Ranconteurs (w/ Ashley Monroe & Ricky Skaggs)
10. “Scare Easy” – Mudcrutch
11. “Love Has Gone Away” – Palmyra Delran
12. “Angelina Jole” – The Chevelles
13. “Sequestered In Memphis” – The Hold Steady
14. “Break Up The Concrete” – The Pretenders
15. “Happy Birthday” – The Ting Tings
16. “I Don’t Want To Grow Up” – Hayes Carll
17. “Ballad Of Lou The Welterweight” – The Felice Brothers
18. “Fortunate Son” – Todd Snider
19. “Between A Memory & A Dream” – Scott Kempner
20. “A Night With The Jersey Devil” – Bruce Springsteen

Monday, December 8, 2008

John Lennon: 10/9/40 – 12/8/80



Imagine there's no Heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Robert Müller's Toughest Fight



OK ... OK ... I know what you're thinking. Not another post about Ice Hockey!!! And who is Robert Müller and why should we care about him?

Here at the Brothers McC, we often like to ramble on (and on and on and on) about things we know about. And sometimes we'll even ramble on about things we know hardly anything about. That's all part of the joy that is being us! But one of the topics that will keep on popping up on this page is sports. And, as I have found out, there are so many times that a sports story can be truly inspiring ('Miracle On Ice' and ' Rudy' and 'The Pride Of The Yankees' to name just a few). But it seems that there are so many great stories in this world that often some of them fall through the cracks of the general public’s radar.

Here’s a story that should be a front pager – if not on every newspaper, at least on every sports section.

This is the story of Robert Müller, the remarkable German goalie who has fought back from an operation to remove parts of a brain tumor. And, while still undergoing a full course of chemo- and radiation therapy, amazingly, he has returned to the nets in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga. He even stopped 96 of 100 shots for Kölner Haie in a 168-minute-long playoff match — the second longest game in hockey history!!! Müller then went on to backstop Kölner Haie (Cologne Sharks) to the DEL final and played well for Germany at the World Championship in Canada.

But then over this summer, the tumor started growing again, and in August he underwent a second operation. Then, a couple of weeks ago came bad news — Müller, just 28 and the father of two, has a rare and incurable form of tumor, and he has already exceeded the median survival period for those with the condition.

And yet despite this dark prognosis, Müller continues to inspire. He started practicing with Cologne last month, and last week he even dressed as the backup for a game in nearby Duisburg. (Fans there greeted him with a big ovation.) On Sunday, dressed for the first time in Cologne, he came onto the ice to finish the last eight minutes of an easy victory over Nuremberg Ice Tigers.

This is a great story – and you can read more about it here:

http://www.iihf.com/home-of-hockey/news/news-singleview/article/the-enemy-in-muellers-head.html?tx_ttnews%5BbackPid%5D=955&cHash=d4ab3f01b3

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Hawk Will Never Die



It’s a funny thing about the loyalties of your youth – they just never die. And for me, one of those strongest ties was built at one of the greatest sports halls in the world; The Palestra. For the uninitiated, the Palestra housed the college basketball games of the The Big Five (St. Joe’s, Penn, Temple, La Salle & Nova). And, when I was a kid, a couple of bucks got you a soda, a Philly soft pretzel and (on most Saturdays) a double-header.

What’s not to love???

Well, as we all know, The Hawk Will Never Die – and apparently, neither does a young boys love for the team, the school and … well … sports.

As I’ve moved back to Philly, and once again picked up on the local sports scene – yesterday I found myself (and my four year old son) at The Skatium; another great little sports site – though this one housing not basketball, but ice hockey games. And there, on the ice, were the St. Joe Hawks.

Just that quick I was immersed with the faithful, cheering the Hawks on. Sadly, on this occasion, the Hawks efforts fell short – but it was a great game. There was excitement, great plays, bad calls, powerplays, odd man rushes, great saves … everything that makes hockey (and college sports) fun!! And, in what has become a rare oddity in today’s sports world; it was free!!

So, my dear readers, my advice for you today – find a team, find a passion, and get on out there and cheer. Or, as the wife of the youngest Brother McC would say; “Shoot the ****ing puck!!!!”

Anyone who cares to join me as the Hawks skate again, here’s a link to their schedule.

The Hawk Will Never Die!
Scott

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Boss Is Back




BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN'S 'WORKING ON A DREAM' SET FOR JANUARY 27 RELEASE ON COLUMBIA RECORDS

http://www.brucespringsteen.net/news/index.html

Bruce Springsteen's new album 'Working on a Dream' has been set for January 27 release on Columbia Records. 'Working on a Dream' was recorded with the E Street Band and features twelve new Springsteen compositions plus two bonus tracks. It is the fourth collaboration between Springsteen and Brendan O'Brien, who produced and mixed the album.

'Working on a Dream' Song Titles:

1. Outlaw Pete
2. My Lucky Day
3. Working On a Dream
4. Queen of the Supermarket
5. What Love Can Do
6. This Life
7. Good Eye
8. Tomorrow Never Knows
9. Life Itself
10. Kingdom of Days
11. Surprise, Surprise
12. The Last Carnival

Bonus tracks:
The Wrestler
A Night with the Jersey Devil

Bruce Springsteen said, "Towards the end of recording 'Magic,' excited by the return to pop production sounds, I continued writing. When my friend producer Brendan O'Brien heard the new songs, he said, 'Let's keep going.' Over the course of the next year, that's just what we did, recording with the E Street Band during the breaks on last year's tour. I hope 'Working on a Dream' has caught the energy of the band fresh off the road from some of the most exciting shows we've ever done. All the songs were written quickly, we usually used one of our first few takes, and we all had a blast making this one from beginning to end."

Friday, November 14, 2008

Welcome Back Boys!!



Band members announce they are hitting the studio soon

http://www.nme.com/news/faces/41015

The Faces are set to reunite for rehearsals with a view to a full reformation.

Frontman Rod Stewart told Raysgigs.com that all the original members aside from late bassist Ronnie Lane, who died in 1997, were set to reconvene on Monday (November 17) to run through their old hits.

The singer, who spoke at the Claridges Bar 10th Anniversary Party said the band, which includes current Rolling Stones' guitarist Ronnie Wood, will use Stewart's touring bassist to fill in for Lane.

Teek - You in??

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Rachel Maddow Show



OK folks – it’s time to let everyone in on what you may be missing. My current fave show is The Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Weeknights at 9:00pm).

If you’ve ever watched the news and thought:
“Sweet Jeebus – what the hell is going on in this world?”
Well … then this is the show for you.

To give you a little background on Ms. Maddow, here’s a little info from her website:

Rachel has a doctorate in political science (she was a Rhodes Scholar) and a background in HIV/AIDS activism and prison reform. She shakes a mean cocktail, drives a bright red pickup, hates Coldplay, loves arguing with conservatives, spends a lot of money on AMTRAK tickets, and dresses like a first-grader.

What’s not to love???

Her show doesn’t feel so much like a news show ... it feels more like sitting around having a beer with a friend, and freaking out over the bullshit that is going on around here on a day-to-day basis. Some days, she finds news items that are so ridiculous that she actually asks a guest to “talk her down” – an option that I wish we all had in our daily lives.

Anyway – give her show a chance – I promise you’ll love it.

http://www.rachelmaddow.com

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Cover

Ever since the beginning of music, I’m sure there have been ‘covers.’ And, in that time frame, the success of those covers have been met with varying degrees of success (both critical and commercial).

Yesterday, I heard Bruce Springsteen’s cover of Jimmy Cliff’s “Trapped” – a version that I’ve always loved. It’s great to hear an artist deliver a cover with the power and emotion that the E Street Band brings to this. And it got me thinking: What are the best cover versions of songs?

Some are obvious:

The Beatles; “Twist & Shout”
Written by Phil Medley and Bert Russell. It was originally recorded by the Top Notes and then covered by The Isley Brothers.

The Clash: “I Fought The Law”
Originally recorded by Sonny Curtis and The Crickets (post Buddy Holly) in 1959. The song was then famously covered by Bobby Fuller Four.

Jimi Hendrix: “All Along The Watchtower”
Penned by Bob Dylan.

But what are the tracks that have been most “original” in their version?

Tori Amos solo piano ballad take on Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” comes to mind. As does The Dropkick Murphy’s rocking version of Pete St. John’s “Fields of Athenry.”

So … what are the best ‘covers’

Here are a few choices from your humble author:

Rod Stewart: "Country Comfort" (Elton John, Bernie Taupin)
Tom Waits: “Somewhere” Leonard bernstein and stephen Sondheim
Jeff Buckley: "Hallelujah" (Leonard Cohen)
Rolling Stones: “Aint Too Proud To Beg” (Norman Whitfield & Edward Holland, Jr.)
Bruce Springsteen: Santa Clause Is Coming To Town (J. Fred Coots and Haven Gillespie)


Feel free to chime in on the good, bad & ugly that you’ve heard!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Perfect Day



You know … the universe continually cracks me up. Like John Hiatt sang; “just when you thought you’ve been jipped, the bearded lady comes and does a double back flip.”

Well, yesterday – she was flipping all over the flipping place!!

Just a few hours after I posted yesterday about the Flyers, and the joy my son gets watching the games with me on TV – the eldest Brother McC calls me with a line on two free tickets for yesterday’s Flyers game against the NJ Devils. (Thanks, Teek!)

So … off we went.

To say that I had what would be considered a perfect day … well … it was. Even though the rain pounded the car for the entire ride to the arena (we were lucky to have a Parking Pass that put us about thirty yards from the doors), even though there was the crush of traffic; The World Series traffic (tail-gaters mostly at this hour), a ‘Celtic Thunder’ concert at the old Spectrum, and a Sold Out house for the Flyers; all on the way, we actually got there pretty smoothly.

Ian, dressed in his Flyers t-shirt, was handed a Phillies ‘Rally Towel’ as soon as we entered the building. A rally towel that he waved for about 98% of the game. His hero, Marty Biron, was in the net, and his Daddy was as excited as he was to be there.

One note: I know that Philly Fans always get a bad rap. And, let’s face it, some of that rep is pretty well earned. But, everywhere we walked, and particularly, in our seats, all the other fans were great. They all spoke to Ian – asked him questions – high fived him - and were more than polite when it came to anything that was being shouted towards the ice.

The game – wow!!!! Fast and furious. Lights, colors, sounds, everything that a three year old (and a 47 year old for that matter) would love. And, in the end, the Flyers scored an OT goal to beat the Devils to win both ends of a home-and-home series.

As we drove home, both a little exhausted, there wasn’t a lot of talk in the car, till I heard my son ask from the back seat; “Daddy … can we go back there again?”

Like I said earlier: a perfect day!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Flyers: Like Father – Like Son



You know – it’s been a rough start for the Flyers this year (0-3-3). And, with the Phillies marching in to the World Series, the little coverage the Flyers usually get has shrunk even more. But, for the Flyers Faithful, that’s OK – because we still get nights like last night.

Last night, The Flyers took their game into the Meadowlands to face off against the NJ Devils. The Flyers hadn’t beaten the Devils on their ice in years. So, as I sat down to watch the men in orange and black last night, I wasn’t expecting much. But, as I sat there, a three year old who believes that Martin Biron is not only the best goalie in the NHL, but the best ice hockey player on Earth – there’s always hope.

Then something funny happened on the way to another Flyers loss. The boys showed up and played their hearts out. Marty Biron began to realize that he is one of the NHL’s elite goalies and Mike Richards showed why he is the team captain – dishing out four assists. It was a fast paced, action packed game, with the lead changing hands numerous times. And, with each passing minute, the excitement grew.

Here at the Brothers McC, sports has played a big role in our lives. Always had – ever since we were kids. And, though I’m the only brother to live & die with the Flyers, the other two “feel my pain” when the Flyers lose, and share my joy when they win.

Now, the Flyers are back with another season and I’m right back there with them. Only this time, I have a co-pilot flying with me. Having a three year old son sitting next to you as the Flyers take to the ice – and hearing that kid scream – will make me smile every game – win or lose. Of course, on the night games – like last night, he can only watch a little bit with me – but his excitement still puts a huge grin on my face. And sure, I know that Ian isn’t fully aware of what is actually going on, all he knows is that the Flyers make Daddy happy – and that’s good enough for him. Well, at 47, I’ve learned something from my three year old son: Win or lose – as long as the Flyers are making him happy – that’s good enough for me. Though, beating the Devils always makes the ‘good enough’ a little better!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Levi Stubbs; R.I.P.



Levi Stubbs, the gruff-voiced yet exceedingly expressive frontman of soul music giants the Four Tops, has passed away at age 72 in his Detroit home. The powerful lead singer on hit singles including 'I Can't Help Myself,' 'It's the Same Old Song,' 'Reach Out I'll Be There,' 'Standing in the Shadows of Love' and 'Bernadette' in the 1960s, Stubbs had been ill in recent years, having recently been debilitated by a stroke and cancer that forced his retirement in 2000.

On a personal note: I can not tell you the amount of hours that I spent listening to this man (and his AMAZING band) teach me about love, life, friendship and more love (both happy and sad). There's an old Al Stewart song titled "Post World War Two Blues" where he talks about the death of Buddy Holly. He sings:

"I still remember the last time I cried
The day that Buddy Holly died
I never met him so it may seem strange
Don't some people just affect you that way"

Thank you, Mr. Stubbs

np - "Reach Out And I'll Be There"

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Congrats Jen & Aaron!!!




All the folks here at Brothers McC want to send out a big CONGRATULATIONS to one of our favorite folks!!

Congrats Jen!!

As of yesterday, Jen made the correct decision of accepting a marriage proposal from Aaron, her longtime guy!

For the record, the man pictured above with Jen is Ian, the man of her dreams. Aaron is the man of her reality.

Mazal Tov!!!!!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

:-)



From: http://www.sodahead.com/blog/16643/

Monday, September 29, 2008

Go Phillies!!!




Congrats to the National League East Champs!!!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Man Could Use A Pint …

And so, as the week draws to a close, the debate rages on. First, thanks to the folks who replied (most notable, Chris & Rob, the Steely Dan fans who took up the discussion and we carried it on, as most good music talks do, uncharted territory). I even discovered a few bands that I never heard of.

Since the original post – this conversation has taken on a life of it’s own and has had some pretty cool left hand turns.

To recap:

One: Was Mr. Becker joking when talking about ripping off his fans? The general consensus seems that he was – and that I missed the joke.

Two: Was Steely Dan’s musical high point “Can’t Buy A Thrill” (1972), “Pretzel Logic” (1974), and “Katy Lied” (1975) – I still believe it was, but there are a few who were championing latter day SD. Which led to …

Three: Why is it that most artists first half of their careers are more interesting than their second half? And boy – this was a good debate. Folks adding all kinds of music (and fave artists to prove or disprove their position.) I’d post some of the replies here – but I don’t want to go down that road again.

Four: Is ‘perfection’ all that it’s cracked up to be? This is a tough one to decide – either way. And, it was kind of split down party lines. Steely Dan fans going more for the “yes”, while others (Clash fans unite!!) going for the “rock and roll is supposed to be little dirtier” standpoint.

Five: My favorite topic that was covered: Does more “difficult” mean “better’? While bands like Steely Dan like to delve into deeper chord progressions than most, using diminished, suspended & augmented chords to keep things interesting. Does that make it “better” then a 1-4-5 progession? What would Chuck Berry say?

And, last; In the quest for perfection; is modern day technology a good or a bad thing? The fact that Pro Tools can give the same result as the Brecker Brothers nailing something live – who’s “better” for the end result?

Funny to think this all came about by a post that included The Singing Mongooses.

Rave On!
Scott

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Steely Dan Fans Rise Up!!

Damn … what a guy can learn in twenty-four hours!!!

First – I learned (and was completely surprised by the fact) that the folks that read this blog are not just limited to: Folks That I’ve Had Beer With

After my Steely Dan rant, a friend of mine showed me over to a Steely Dan message board – and boy, were they pissed at me!!!

Second – Who knew that Steely Dan fans would curse just like Sex Pistol fans? I expected the usual; loser, hack, frustrated musician; and I was surprised to called a fan of Sting, Madonna & Black Sabbath; but I was really surprise to see some F-bombs dropped in the discussion. Yikes.

So, never one to just sit back, I reached out to a person who I think moderates the board over there. I handed over an olive branch – and gave him a challenge. And it’s a challenge that I’ll throw out to any of the folks who might be reading this – I know there’s a few Dan Fans out there.

Go Ahead: Make Me A Steely Dan Fan

Send me your Top Ten Steely Dan songs (anything released after ‘Katy Lied’ – that’s when I lost the thread for these guys) and I’ll go to iTunes and give them a spin. Pick your faves – I’m serious – I’ll give them a listen.

Rave On!!!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I Have Never Liked Steely Dan




What can I say? I’ve never liked Steely Dan. I’ve always found their faux-jazz, watered down rock and roll to be a bit of a bore. Like a friend of mine would say; They are jazz music for folks who don’t really like jazz.

Sure, there have been a few great tracks. But outside of “Can’t Buy A Thrill” (1972), “Pretzel Logic” (1974), and “Katy Lied” (1975) – I defy anyone to listen to a Steely Dan CD from start to finish – and then still be awake when the final track ends. You get extra points if you can make it through any of their solo “work.”

But to slag Steely Dan’s music is not what brought me here today. I’m here to slag Walter Becker and Donald Fagen. You see – I always thought the majority of their lyrics were off the mark – and when they gave interviews, I always found them to be a little too high brow and too condescending. I used to just blow it off to them just being aloof – or to the fact that they were just too holier than thou for their own good. (Edit: After many e-mails; I've been informed that their interviews carry more humor than I noticed - hence - the beginning of this saga).

It wasn’t till I was reading MOJO 176 (July 2008) that I truly understood why I never really cared for these guys. Basically, they’re jerks. Yep – it’s right there in black and white (on page 149). From the article:

Walter Becker, who claims to have seen record shops filled with all kinds of releases purporting to be Danware, lists his combative plan on his website. He says he intends to buy all overstocks of an album by The Singing Mongoose, a children’s record of speeded up voices. “We’ll slap a sticker on the front that says ‘Steely Dan – The Furry Years’ and promote the hell out of them through the website. Of course, neither Donald or I are on the record – but who’s gonna know for sure? … it’ll be a rip-off, but at least it will be OUR rip-off for a change.”

There you go folks – a master plan by Steely Dan to rip off their own fans. (Edit: Again, I'll chalk this up to the fact that I just don't "get" their sense of humor.) I guess when you’re artistic peak was over thirty years ago, you gotta do something to bring in the cash.

Oh, and by the way, I checked out the Singing Mongooses – their music beats Steely Dan hands down. Check ‘em out!

http://www.nahenahe.net/mongoose/

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Kevin Was Right!!! Who Knew???

OK – Usually here at the Brothers McC we figure that Kev stays out at the pub all night, then comes home and posts his rantings to the unsuspecting cyber-world. More often than not, we agree with him because we’re his brothers and we defend his right to be … well .. Kevin. As it turns out I actually do agree with his latest ramblings, ‘Diminished …’ (see below); but not only that, they are backed by one Darrell M. West, who is vice president and director of Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. and the author of "Air Wars: Television Advertising in Election Campaigns, 1952-2004."

Go figure … I guess between beers and B-ball at W&L, Kev must have attended some classes as well!!!

*****
(Taken from CNN.com)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Negative attacks are as American as apple pie. Since the early days of the republic, candidates attacked with a vigor that contemporary strategists would admire.

In the 1800 presidential election, for example, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams criticized one another with a stunning ferocity on everything from foreign and domestic policy to private character and personal behavior.

Later campaigns weren't much better. Critics of Andrew Jackson in 1836 accused him of murdering Indians. In 1884, Grover Cleveland was ridiculed for fathering an illegitimate child. William Jennings Bryan was characterized as a dangerous radical in 1896 who would ruin the economy.

Despite these historical precedents, the 2008 campaign has reached all-time lows in the use of misleading and inaccurate political appeals. Even Karl Rove, the architect of negative ads in previous campaigns, has complained about the tenor of this year's campaign.

John McCain broadcast an ad taking Barack Obama's words out of context and suggesting Democrats were trying to compare GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin to a pig. The McCain campaign ran another spot erroneously claiming Obama favored comprehensive sex education for kindergarteners.

Democrats have not been above reproach either. After McCain secured the GOP nomination this spring, outside groups falsely claimed the Republican supported a 1,000-year war in Iraq and therefore was not worthy of the presidency.

These misleading appeals suggest voters must remain vigilant about candidate, party, and group claims. Generally, the most misleading commercials have come from independent groups uncoordinated with the candidates.

These organizations feel free to run emotional and inaccurate content designed to play on voter's fears and anxieties. Some of the worst ads in recent memory, such as the Willie Horton ad in 1988, have been broadcast by these kinds of groups.

In past years, the only upside of attack ads was that they generally contained more issue content than other types of ads. Since reporters police campaign appeals, the ads generally stick to the issues and rely on factually-accurate information. Ad sponsors and candidates realize they will be held accountable for unfair ad content.

However, commercials run this year represent a break with this general pattern. Attack ads broadcast in recent months have twisted the truth, lied about personal background, taken statements out of context, and clearly sought to manipulate voter sentiments.

Most worrisome from a factual standpoint is McCain's claim that Obama will raise taxes on the middle class. Although Obama has pledged to increase income taxes on those earning more than $250,000, he has been careful not to make proposals that would raise taxes on the middle class for fear of being labeled a tax-and-spend liberal.

McCain's tax claims have been condemned by leading editorial boards and surely will attract considerable attention in upcoming debates.

With all the factual inaccuracies that have taken place, voters need to protect themselves from efforts at political manipulation. Non-partisan Web sites such as www.factcheck.org represent one source of unbiased information. They analyze ads and compile factual information in support of or in opposition to ad claims.

Other trustworthy fact-checkers include ad watches and reality checks run by leading news organizations. These features dissect candidate claims in regard to accuracy, strategy, and impact.

But the best thing for voters to do is to watch the candidate debates and judge for themselves. Study the statements and the factual bases of policy claims. Pay attention to how the candidates speak and what they say. Find out what non-partisan groups think and see what they have to say regarding the major issues.

By the time the campaign is over, the presidential candidates are expected to have spent 55 percent of their overall budget on ads. Strategists put together spots very carefully and pre-test major messages on small groups of voters.
Most of this money will be devoted to television spots. But increasingly amounts are being targeted on radio, direct mail, and Internet appeals.

In the end, voters are going to have to decipher competing charges and counter-charges amid considerable noise from all sides. The 2008 election is unusual in having so many big issues on the agenda: the economy, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, health care, taxes, immigration, education and climate change.

It is an election that truly matters because of the stark differences between the parties and the closeness of the campaign. Voters need to pay serious attention to the facts in order to make a wise choice.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Diminished ...



























Is it possible to run for the highest office in the land and be a statesman/stateswoman? To do it with dignity?

It seems the answer is a resounding "No."

The bruising primary season quickly turned candidates into (or magnified their propensity toward) triple-talking, back-stabbing, soul-selling hucksters before the campaign buses even cleared the New Hampshire state line.

And when the smoke cleared and the wreckage had been shoved to the shoulder — the ultimate prize nearly in sight — the two survivors released their hounds ... er ... vice-presidential picks.

And now the VP hopefuls have stepped into the ring like Chris Jericho and Beth Phoenix, ready to rip each other and their respective bosses apart all over again.

(ed. — googling the above names of the current WWE champions constitutes an all-time high in BrothersMcC research)

I used to not give a shit.

You may currently not give a shit.

But this election has the feel of "pivotal" all over it.

You may say "All presidential elections are pivotal, halfwit."

And you'd be right ... especially the halfwit part.

But, for some reason, this one has the air of tragedy about it. And the tragedy is that — in the face of such staggering history being made with Barack Obama and Sarah Palin involved — we insist on making those who would become the leaders of the free world diminish themselves as human beings.

We force them to lie, exaggerate, attack, slander, hurl petty insults over and over again, air fifth-grade-level commercials and generally behave like total assholes.

Then we ask them to lead us.

"Well there, Kevin, that's the name of the game in high-stakes politics. It's dog-eat-dog. If you don't like it — move to Iceland, you big pussy."

Yeah but as we demand that these people humiliate themselves on a global stage (and then expect them to inspire us and unite us?) — we diminish ourselves.

It was sad to see Joe Biden follow his son's moving introduction with an overwrought, frothing barkfest at the Democratic National Convention. It should have been the crowning moment for a guy who has overcome more adversity than those poor bastards on Prison Break. Instead, he was borderline nutty. His speech had a hint of violence to it. And he was talking about John McCain, a long-time friend.

And as historic and genuinely exciting as Sarah Palin's appearance was at the Republican National Convention — and it was, you can't deny it — her speech was condescending and nasty. She was poised, she was tough, she was spoiling for a fight.

She was really fucking annoying.

Just like every other politician.

And the saddest --- and most diminishing --- part of it all is that it means nothing.

What these four people say and promise in the next 60 days will bear little, if any, resemblance to their actions.

Mavericks?

Change?

Really, who are we kidding?

Couldn't we have used the money for these dorkfests ... um I mean ... conventions for something like, say, people in New Orleans still waiting for a bed to sleep in or the 750 homeless veterans wandering lost in the wilds of Columbus, Ohio.

Of course not.

Because this is the way things are done.

And with politicians, we expect them — deep down — to be scumbags. As long as they're our scumbags.


We will put up with — and even cheer — all the bullshit campaign promises and flip-floppery that all politicians shovel at us. We know its part of the deal. Politicians must lie, cheat and betray to get shit done.

And we're cool with that.

As long as they keep up their end of the unspoken bargain:

Keep us safe, housed and fed.

Keep our sons and daughters in the military from eating any unnecessary bullets and shrapnel. And when they go and do our fighting for us, take care of them when they come back.

Keep everyone — and goddammit, we mean everyone! — equal.

That's the government's job.

That's the president's job.

Everything else is gravy — or pork.

Consider Iraq, Afghanistan, Katrina, gas prices, food prices, the current housing situation, corruption, cronyism, scrap-heaped veterans, rising unemployment, appalling public schools and the prospect (from both sides of the aisle) of religious ideology splashing over the sides of the reflecting pool, across the lawn and into the halls of Congress.

Then ask yourself ...

Who's the best lying, exaggerating, scheming, borderline criminal gladhander for the job?

See ya at the polls!


Oh yeah! Almost forgot — BrothersMcC has its first scoop!! Below is a sneak preview of the Vice-Presidential debate, courtesy of a somewhat lesser-known Palin.


Monday, September 1, 2008

Happy Birthday to The Youngest Brother McC




:-)


Sean Invades The Internet

My son is already leaving me in the dust with his internet savvy. He has posted six videos on youtube. Here is his debut effort. The kid loves Ray Allen and Linkin Park, what can I say?

You can check out his youtube profile and other videos here:

http://www.youtube.com/user/NOOSEBALL

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Get Well Soon, Will



All the folks here at Brothers McC wish Will a safe & speedy recovery.

Nashville rock musician Will Hoge, 35, is in critical condition in Vanderbilt University Medical Center after being involved in a motor scooter accident Wednesday evening.

Hoge was traveling north on Main Street in East Nashville at about 8 p.m. when a southbound van failed to yield while turning into 712 Main St., Metro Police spokesperson Kris Mumford said. Hoge's motor scooter collided with the passenger side of the van. Police found no evidence of alcohol or drugs involved in the accident.
Advertisement

Ashley Hansen, editorial assistant at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, reported Hoge's family "appreciates everyone keeping Will in their thoughts and prayers."

The driver of the van, Sibomana Viateur, 28, of Nashville, did not suffer any injuries.

Hoge is one of Nashville's most accomplished rock artists, having moved from a promising major-label stint in the early part of the decade into a thriving career as a hard-touring, do-it-yourself musician. His most recent album, last year's Draw the Curtains, was his first for indie label Rykodisc, and marked his return to label affiliation.

The singer-songwriter is in the midst of recording the follow-up to that highly praised album at Sound Emporium Studios at home in Nashville. He is scheduled to take a hometown stage at the Mercy Lounge on Sept. 20, as part of the 2008 Americana Music Festival.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Happy Birthday Jimmy




Today, here at the Brothers McC - and, all around the world, we celebrate the 21st birthday of SPC James McCarthy. Better known to us and the fine ladies of Maryland, as Jim.

Be safe ... get home soon ... a cold beer is waiting for you.

Even though it will get there after the fact, feel free to send Jim a birthday card. Or, if you will, just a note of encouragement ... or thanks ...

Jim is a great kid. And by wearing this country's uniform he does us all proud.

Send those cards & letters to:

SPC James McCarthy
2-25 SBCT 25th ID
Bravo Co 1-4 IN BN
6260
APO AE 09378

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Lucero: A Great American Band



A few years ago, the eldest member of the Brothers McC called me to let me know that there was an ‘amazing’ band playing in Brooklyn on the following night. The band; Lucero. Who? You might ask … cause I know I did. Well, as it turned out, the Mrs & I were able to make the show – though we were unable to talk anyone else we knew in to going with us. We jumped a subway train headed off into the Brooklyn night, got to our stop – still had a long walk – but finally made it to the club.

There was a big sign on the door: SOLD OUT !!

Well, as my old soundman Turk used to say, ‘Nothing is ever sold out’ – so we walked in and talked with the doorman. Sure enough, it was sold out, but the doorman was a nice guy and put us on ‘The Guest List’

When Lucero hit the stage that night, two things became readily evident:

One: These guys were going to be fun!

Two: The Mrs and I were the only two people in the club that did not already know every word to every song that Lucero were performing.

The band exploded, the crowd went nuts (try to remember what it was like when you first saw The Clash or The Pogues), and the Mrs & I were caught up in the frenzy.

Skip ahead a year or so, and Lucero again takes the stage, this time with lead singer, Ben Nichols fighting a mean case of laryngitis, but still delivering a killer show. Now I knew that the guy was not only talented as hell – but full of heart as well.

Last night, the Mrs & I (and our faithful man servant, Alan) ventured to The North Star Bar (in Philadelphia) to see the boys back on stage. After an OK set by Glossary, followed up by a great set by Justin Townes Earle (yep, Steve’s kid), Lucero delivered a full on, no holds barred set of rock and roll that helps old guys like me still believe in the power and the glory of rock and roll.

These guys wear their hearts and influences on their sleeves; All the great touchstones are there; The Clash, The Pogues, The Band, CCR, Tom Waits & Springsteen. But there’s also Skynard, & Petty (probably both Tom & Richard), The Replacements and Dylan.

Lucero delivers songs about living with the broken down American dream – but still trying to make good on the promise that any man can do better in this world than his Dad did. The songs can alternate between stark and funny, full on power with the crowd shouting along or so quiet the entire crowd actually shuts up so they can hear each word.

I know there are a lot of buzz bands out there these days – and I’ve seen & heard a bunch of them. But, right now, for my money, there is no better band (that doesn’t have a guy named Springsteen in it) out there than Lucero. No one has better songs. No one delivers a better live show. And no one can still make you ‘believe’ the way that they believe.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Spiritual Arms Race















There is a spiritual arms race afoot.

A knock-down-drag-out steel cage match for the title of Most Religious.

Whoever wins ... becomes president.

Seriously.

John McCain is so desperate that he's claimed to be a Baptist while stumping in Baptist country. For the record, the dude's an Episcopalian.

For now.

Barack Obama trumpets his Christianity at every turn. And consistently touts the necessity of spirituality and religious insight for successful governance and the healing of our country.

Both are simply trying to get elected. And sound like teenagers trying to convince Dad to give them the keys to the Buick for the weekend.

The Republican Party has been trading on fire and brimstone for ages, so, ya know, whatever.

But now, the Democratic Party — tired of God-Squad dominance and presidential election defeats at the hands of dolts like our current Prayer-in-Chief — has decided to drink the Jesus juice and roll the ideological dice.

And the newest face of this effort — Leah Daughtry — is a case study in everything that is wrong with over-heated religiosity.

Early on in the recent New York Times Magazine profile of her, Leah Daughtry reveals herself as another in a long line of prominent political frauds, using her ideology to convince us that she -- and those who share her point of view — are Holier Than Thou.

Well ... Holier Than Me at least.

Daughtry is Howard Dean's Chief of Staff and she is in charge of the Democratic National Convention — and she's a Pentecostal minister.

In the article, she is preaching at her father's House of the Lord Church in Brooklyn and celebrating a congregant's triumph over breast cancer.

Daughtry gives credit for this medical victory to the exceptional quality of prayer supplied by the women members of the church, saying:

"The eggheads will say her chemotherapy worked, but everyone who uses chemotherapy isn’t cured.”

First, I'm not sure who the "eggheads" are. I can only assume she's referring to sane people.

Second — my mother died of cancer. She underwent chemotherapy. She prayed for a cure. Her family prayed for a cure. All her friends prayed for a cure.

Does this mean the Catholic prayers in Southeastern Pennsylvania weren't as potent as those in Brooklyn? Did God give the faithful from St. Denis in suburban Philadelphia a big holy raspberry — and decide that my mother was not spiritually committed enough to live?

Leah Daughtry's remark exposes religious ideology for what it is — "Our God is better than your god."

A less sophisticated writer than myself might — at this point — say something inflammatory like "Leah Daughtry can go fuck herself" but I'm cut from a finer cloth.

Instead, I submit that it is time to form a new political party — the "Fuck Ideologies."

Who's with me?

Is it necessary for me to pick on Leah Daughtry?

I think so.

Why?

Because she will soon have the ear of Barack Obama. Because everyone is racing to claim the Most Religious crown for their party, their candidate, their government. Because religious ideology is hypocritical at best and murderous at worst.

And because Leah Daughtry says that, for her, "the Bible is history."

Please ...

Let's clear one thing up right now — the Bible is not literal history for anyone. There are no people following the dictates of the Bible word for word. And anyone who says they are is lying. And any political figure who says they are is not only lying but dangerous.

Everyone — and by "everyone" I tend to mean, well, all people currently living — everyone who consults the Bible picks and chooses from the Good Book. They select what serves their needs. A spiritual 7-11 if you will.

Ideology is the proud father of hypocrisy. And when ideology and hypocrisy hook up with ambition — the worst kind of family reunion takes place ... one that ends with guns going off, tanks rolling in, RPGs whizzing by, rights disappearing, tolerance evaporating and young men and women being memoralized in the local newspaper.

President Bush said that he consulted with God about the war in Iraq — and that has sustained him and kept him steadfast.

Talk about covering your ass.

But of course Bush didn't talk with God — he talked with Cheney, who we all know fell from Heaven and now battles God for the souls of mankind.

Okay, yes, spirituality is the centerpiece of many people's lives.

And, yes, that spirituality helps shape one's point of view of the world.

But when you get in a spiritual arms race and you openly compete to prove you are God's favorite — the canary in the coal mine starts to experience shortness of breath.

Leah Daughtry says a bunch of other nutty things in the article — like her experiences speaking in tongues (brilliant actually — its unassailable because its supposed to be gibberish) and that she was a reluctant participant in the public arena (hence the splashy New York Times Magazine article).

I'm sure its not all Leah Daughtry's fault.

I'm sure she's a good friend and a loving daughter.

But do we really need religious ideology to know that we should be decent to one another? Or keep our country's citizens safe? Or have our trash picked up?

Leah Daughtry thinks God prefers the Pentecostal way. A born-again former co-worker of mine believes that Jews and Muslims have no shot at heaven. Many devout Catholic are closet racists.

What does that even mean?

It means that — ultimately — organized, ambitious religious ideology will divide us.

Our common humanity is what will unite us.

Swear to God.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The True Meaning of Love ...

... is taking your kid to American Idols Live 2008.

Holy Money Grab.






Most Disturbing (yet hilariously true) Moment: While runner-up Idol David Archuleta was warbling along, he was bathed in a light that was blatantly phallic.

There was a circular outcropping at the front of the stage and it was awash in white light that extended past the little fellah in a ramrod straight line and ended with a bulbous flourish just beyond.

And if that wasn't enough — and, again, I am crapping you negative — swirling around the circular ball-sac-ish outcropping were dozens of very sperm-ish-looking lights. Lisa and I nearly choked on our Cracker Jacks and bargain-basement $7 flat Bud Lights. Never in my life have I seen so many parents looking around for independent confirmation of what they were witnessing.

Then ... then! ... at the end of Archuleta's song, the sperm lights exited in unison — as if the music gods had just climaxed (a wet dream, no doubt, since they surely were asleep by that point.)


It was a bizarre sedative of a concert — complete with a gigantic Pop-Tart mascot, a desultory Guitar Hero video game contest, all the female performers mechanically shaking booty (except piano-bound Brooke White) as if the audience were full of drunk out-of-town businessmen armed with a stack of singles, and all 10 performers each imploring the crowd to make more noise — where only that Aussie dude Michael Johns seemed to inject any real fun or emotion into the proceedings.

In the end ...

Our daughter had the time of her life.


Upon reflection ... Greatest Concert Ever.

Monday, July 14, 2008

A Love Letter ...

"The real job of any actor is to retain an urgent need to become a better actor."

The renowned acting teacher Larry Moss said something like that ... as far as I know. And, as is our custom at BrothersMcC, I didn't bother to look up the exact quote. I liked this one just fine. It struck me as truthful.

And difficult to fulfill.

When I first moved to New York to pursue acting — shortly after FDR left office — I had seen exactly zero plays.

Actually, that's not true — my high school buddies and I went to Archbishop Carroll's production of Inherit The Wind. We snuck beers in and, being the assholes we were, laughed out loud during all the dramatic moments.

Talk about denial ...

Anyway ....

The first play I ever witnessed — sober — was the original production of Burn This by Lanford Wilson at the Plymouth Theater.

I had been in New York just a few months and had done little but tend bar, drink with an angry focus and expand my working knowledge of recreational drugs. I could not have been further from being an actor. I was beginning to think I had made the worst mistake of my life.

Then John Malkovich made his entrance in Burn This and two and a half hours later, all doubt had been scorched away. If ever I could do to someone else what Malkovich did to me that night, it would be worth any humiliation, hardship or hangover. I knew what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.

In the intervening years, I've been able to scrape together work as an actor.

But I also drifted about as far as one could from that night at the Plymouth Theater. I effectively gave up the theater — not that the theater was knocking my door down or anything but ... I became that dude — the one waiting for the phone to ring, dying for that next chance to be "Cop #2" on CSI — which, coincidentally, I am currently available for, if Carol Kritzer is reading this blog — and I think we all know she is.

I have spent an inordinate amount of time doing — and pursuing — work of dubious artistic worth. But that's the gig for 96% of us and that is cool (surprisingly — health insurance, mortgage payments and food aren't included with your SAG card) — as long as there is something else. I mean, after a while, the question has to be revisited — "Why the fuck did you become an actor in the first place ... and, more to the point, why are you still at it?"

Well, I was lucky enough to be reminded of both "why's" over and over again during the past two months — working on the play Stones in His Pockets by Marie Jones.

It was — by turns — frustrating, exhilarating, terrifying and joyful.

It was theater.

I felt like an actor.

And no amount of gratitude can convey how thankful I am to still have my hat in the ring.

Secure in the knowledge that I will never be nominated for any award any time soon (okay — maybe I have an outside shot at, say, "Creepiest Villain Who Bears An Uncanny Resemblance To Kevin Bacon") I will now thank the people who have instilled, nurtured and resurrected the 2nd greatest love affair in my life.

Whether you all share in my thanks and/or resurrection is another story entirely.

But screw it — why wait till they're all dead:

To Greg Zittel — A teacher of blinding intensity and fierce dedication to the creative spirit. Any seriousness of purpose I may have acquired as an actor came from him.

To Wynn Handman — Easily the most influential — and the best — acting teacher the country has seen in the last fifty years. If you don't believe me — just ask Alec Baldwin, James Caan, Kathleen Chalfant, Chris Cooper, Michael Douglas, Allison Janney, Frank Langella, John Leguizamo, Mira Sorvino, Christopher Walken, Denzel Washington, and Joanne Woodward.

To my students — As flaky and kooky as they are, they have no idea how much they have taught me. I'm in their debt ... not monetarily, of course (just so there's no confusion on the first Tuesday of the month)

To Jimmy Bohr — Improbably, we've both ended up in Columbus, OH. Not so improbably, he is the best director I've ever worked with. His patience and insight made Stones In His Pockets an experience that will be difficult to top. And, Jesus Christ Almighty, does he make unreal German potato salad.

To Jon Osbeck — Who knew a Swedish half-Jew could pull off six Irish characters, a Scottish bodyguard and a chick ... and be a better Irish step dancer than I am? And the fucker built our deck. And he plays piano. And he can sing.
On second thought, let's beat the shit out of him.

To Lisa — I don't know ... I assume every actor has a spouse who says "Hey, I have an idea — let's form a company and do Irish theater. And if you drag your feet, I'll keep after you because — you moody, thick bastard — I know a great idea when I have one even if you don't. So we're doing this play and I know you'll take all the credit afterward but that's cool because I'll know the truth and that's good enough for me."

Well, Lisa, now everyone (or at least the eight people who read this blog) knows the truth. You are extraordinary.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

STONES IN HIS POCKETS: TWO ACTORS, 15 CHARACTERS, BEER and DANCING!









Only once in a blue moon do we shill for personal gain on BrothersMcC.

This is one of those times.

On Thursday June 19th — STONES IN HIS POCKETS, the acclaimed play by Irish playwright Marie Jones opens at Madlab Theatre in Columbus, OH.

The play stars myself and the very talented Jon Osbeck. It is directed by the wonderful Jimmy Bohr.

It is the first theater effort from Carrickmacross Productions — the company my wife Lisa and I have started.


Jon and I portray 15 characters in the play, which won London's Olivier Award and was a hit on Broadway in 2001. It chronicles the making of a Hollywood movie in a small Irish village, where most of the locals have been hired as extras. Two of the extras, Jake Quinn and Charlie Conlon, become friends and try to further their fledgling careers during the filming. Along the way, Jones explores the tensions that arise between the film crew and the village residents.

We each play women, there will be beer available for the patrons and there's even an Irish wake with dancing. What more do you need, for the love of Jaysus!?

For tickets/reservations to Stones in His Pockets:
www.madlab.net
614.221.5418

Saturday, June 14, 2008

It's Summertime!!! :-)

Some days ... all you need is to be three years old ... have a hot day ... and a water sprinkler!

:-)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

REMEMBER THEM TODAY ... AND TOMORROW ... AND ...














Take a look at that face.

See it.

Study it.

Imagine what kind of life led up to that photo.

Imagine the countless people touched by that face.

Please look at it one more time.

That's Sgt. John "Kyle" Daggett, 22, Airborne Army Ranger from Phoenix, AZ.

He died earlier this month from injuries sustained when an airburst mortar exploded over the armored vehicle he was traveling in.

Daggett was in the rear gun hatch, exposed, along with another soldier when the explosion occurred in Baghdad.

Sgt. Daggett's injuries were overwhelming yet he made it from Baghdad to Germany to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he finally succumbed.

I know absolutely nothing about Sgt. Daggett's life, except that he died a hero. And that, after the mortar exploded, the driver of the vehicle who recovered enough to drive "like a bat out of hell to the evac site, taking out vehicles, utility poles and anything else in his way" was my nephew James McCarthy.

Jimmy is still there. In harm's way. And now he is a veteran — he is still on active duty, of course, but he is a veteran. For our sake — he now knows what most of us will never know and has seen what most of us will never see.

For our sake.

I can imagine, but I cannot comprehend, what that reality is like.

It seems the only way to be a truly concerned and engaged citizen, not only of this country but of the world is to make it personal. Make it specific.

Look at that picture of Sgt. Daggett once again.

See what was sacrificed.

That is specific.

Imagining my nephew in the chaos of battle.

That is specific.

The burden of the unknown carried by his mother — my sister — every day.

That is specific.

The injuries sustained by SPC Shane Stuard — who was riding alongside Sgt. Daggett — are specific.

Shane, a father of three, is recovering from his injuries at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

We hear he digs mail — especially from kids.
Take a minute, remember and send it to:

SPC Shane Stuard
Walter Reed Army Medical Center
Ward 57
6900 Georgia Avenue NW
Washington DC 20307

I'm anti-war. I think any sane person is.

But I am pro-soldier ... because war is the worst thing on this earth and soldiers know it and they choose to do it anyway — so the rest of us don't have to.

I once was in a room with four Vietnam veterans and a Desert Storm veteran. The conversation centered on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and the realities of being a soldier. At one point, the Desert Storm vet looked me in the eye and asked, "How come you never served your country?" There was no malice in the asking, but all conversation stopped and everyone waited for an answer.

I had no answer that seemed adequate so I told the truth, "I made the choice to avail myself of the freedoms that you have fought to provide me ... Thank you."

And one of the Vietnam vets stuck out a hand and said, "Fair enough. You're welcome."

I shook his hand and remembered my old man talking about fighting in the South Pacific in World War II. And what that cost him.

Now I remember my nephew Jimmy in Baghdad and his buddy Shane at Walter Reed.

Most of all, though, I think I'll remember that face in the picture.

And I'll try to remember the cost of my freedom.

Saturday, May 17, 2008



It’s not often than anyone here at Brothers McC feels that they can speak for all three of us. Well, this is one of those times. I know my brothers, I know that they are (regardless of how they try to portray themselves) big, soft hearted lugs.

And, in being such lugs, there are certain movies that melt their hearts and turn them into the knuckleheads that we know and occasionally love.

Son Of Rambow is one of those movies. It’s a British independent flick that knocked me on my ass with great humor, super cast, and a story about how great is can be to find a best friend when you’re just a kid!

Set on a English summer in the early 80's, SON OF RAMBOW is a comedy about friendship, faith and the tough business of growing up. We see the story through the eyes of Will, the eldest son of a fatherless Plymouth Brethren family. The Brethren regard themselves as God's 'chosen ones' and their strict moral code means that Will has never been allowed to mix with the other 'worldlies,' listen to music or watch TV, until he finds himself caught up in the extraordinary world of Lee Carter, the school terror and maker of bizarre home movies. Carter exposes Will to a pirate copy of ‘Rambo: First Blood’ and from that moment Will's mind is blown wide open and he's easily convinced to be the stuntman in Lee Carters' diabolical home movie.



Will's imaginative little brain is not only given chance to flourish in the world of film making, but is also very handy when it comes to dreaming up elaborate schemes to keep his partnership with Lee Carter a secret from the Brethren community. Will and Carter's complete disregard for consequences and innocent ambition means that the process of making their film is a glorious rollercoaster that eventually leads to true friendship.

They start to make a name for themselves at school as movie makers but when popularity descends on them in the form of the Pied Piper-esque French exchange student, Didier Revol, their unique friendship and their precious film are pushed, quite literally, to breaking point.


Make Believe. Not War. – That’s the tag line to this movie and a perfect fit. For those who are fans of “War Of The Buttons” or “Billy Elliot” this is right up your alley. I don’t know of the actual release date, but when it’s out – see it; and when it comes out on DVD – rent it!! Keep the spirit alive so that more movies like this will be made.

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Best Homerun Ever



If only sports could always be about honor. If only the athletes that we pay millions of dollars to could follow the lead of those who play for the love of the game. Let me now take you to where the “spirit” of the game is still more important than the outcome.

The following is and edited version of the Graham Hays story that can be found here:
http://sports.espn.go.com/ncaa/columns/story?id=3372631

Western Oregon senior Sara Tucholsky had never hit a home run in her career.

Central Washington senior Mallory Holtman was already her school's career leader in them.

But when a twist of fate, and a torn knee ligament, brought them face to face with each other and face to face with the end of their playing days, they combined on a home run trot that celebrated the collective human spirit far more than individual athletic achievement.

Both schools compete as Division II softball programs in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. Neither has ever reached the NCAA tournament at the Division II level. But when they arrived for Saturday's conference doubleheader at Central Washington's 300-seat stadium in Ellensburg, two largely anonymous groups prepared to play the most meaningful games of their seasons.

"I just remember trying to block them out," Tucholsky said of the hecklers. "The first pitch I took, it was a strike. And then I really don't remember where the home run pitch was at all; [I] just remember hitting it, and I knew it was out."

But it was what happened after an overly excited Tucholsky missed first base on her home run trot and reversed direction to tag the bag that proved unforgettable.

While she was doubling back to tag first base, Tucholsky's right knee gave out. The two runners who had been on base already had crossed home plate, leaving her the only offensive player on the field of play, even as she lay crumpled in the dirt a few feet from first base and a long way from home plate. First-base coach Shannon Prochaska -- Tucholsky's teammate for three seasons and the only voice she later remembered hearing in the ensuing conversation -- checked to see whether she could crawl back to the base under her own power.

Umpires confirmed that the only option available under the rules was to replace Tucholsky at first base with a pinch runner and have the hit recorded as a two-run single - instead of a three-run home run. Any assistance from coaches or trainers while she was an active runner would result in an out. So without any choice, Knox prepared to make the substitution, taking both the run and the memory from Tucholsky.

"And right then," Knox said, "I heard, 'Excuse me, would it be OK if we carried her around and she touched each bag?'"
The voice belonged to Holtman, a four-year starter who owns just about every major offensive record there is to claim in Central Washington's record book.

"Honestly, it's one of those things that I hope anyone would do it for me," Holtman said. "She hit the ball over her fence. She's a senior; it's her last year. … it was my idea first, but I think anyone who knew that we could touch her would have offered to do it, just because it's the right thing to do. She was obviously in agony."

Holtman and shortstop Liz Wallace lifted Tucholsky off the ground and supported her weight between them as they began a slow trip around the bases, stopping at each one so Tucholsky's left foot could secure her passage onward. Even with Tucholsky feeling the pain of what trainers subsequently came to believe was a torn ACL (she was scheduled for tests to confirm the injury on Monday), the surreal quality of perhaps the longest and most crowded home run trot in the game's history hit all three players.



"We all started to laugh at one point, I think when we touched the first base," Holtman said. "I don't know what it looked like to observers, but it was kind of funny because Liz and I were carrying her on both sides and we'd get to a base and gently, barely tap her left foot, and we'd all of a sudden start to get the giggles a little bit."

Accompanied by a standing ovation from the fans, they finally reached home plate and passed the home run hitter into the arms of her own teammates.

Then Holtman and Wallace returned to their positions and tried to win the game.

"It kept everything in perspective and the fact that we're never bigger than the game," Knox said of the experience. "It was such a lesson that we learned -- that it's not all about winning. And we forget that, because as coaches, we're always trying to get to the top. We forget that. But I will never, ever forget this moment. It's changed me, and I'm sure it's changed my players."
For her part, Holtman seems not altogether sure what all the fuss is about. She seems to genuinely believe that any player in her position on any field on any day would have done the same thing. Which helps explains why it did happen on that day and on that field.

Graham Hays is a regular contributor to ESPN.com

Sunday, April 27, 2008

OXFORD INT'L FILM FESTIVAL: FILM, BEER, FOOD AND BEER
















Evidently, film festivals are where dietary considerations and exercise regimens go to die. And they die a relatively happy death — because the Oxford International Film Festival was quite fun.

Do you want the travelogue replete with witty remarks about the preponderance of cows and scary highway rest areas?

No?

Cool.

We'll hit you with the relevant facts and let you get on with your life.

Lisa and I were stashed away in a primo room at the Marcum Conference Center — the de facto hub of the festival. We were directly across the hall from Donna D'Errico and her two kids, though we wouldn't actually see them until the next day at the Actors Panel.

The first thing we did was grab some food. Actually, the real first thing we did was grab some umbrellas because it was pouring rain. We'd been told to expect a bevy of dining alternatives within walking distance of the Marcum. We didn't realize that the "walking distance" frame of reference used by our host was of the college-kid-in-flip-flops-during-an-artic-blast-who-cares-if-we-get-
soaked-we're-friggin'-19 variety.

Being on the geezer side of the median age range — and hungry — and thirsty — we got umbrellas ... and beer.

The food was good at 45 East Bar and Grill in downtown Oxford, Ohio and they poured a respectable pint of Guinness.

A good harbinger — if you put stock in harbingers.

Our first cinematic experience was a block of documentary shorts — we hung in for one about the mysterious death and disappearance of honey bees in the U.S. The we got hit with one about stock-car-racing evangelical pastors. It was a bittersweet character study that ranged from fundamentalist shouters to borderline- clowns-at-a-kids-party-with-bad-intent. All champion perspirers.

One definite highlight of the festival was the first feature-length film we saw. My guess is that Kabluey will never make it into your multi-plex (or your single-plex, for that matter) and that sucks for you because this movie is funnier than most of the stuff currently on the docket.







Writer/Director/Star Scott Prendergast recruited the likes of Lisa Kudrow, Christine Taylor, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and an utterly ego-less and, frankly, very ballsy Teri Garr for a sweetly quirky and often hilarious tale of redemption.

Remember this movie. It'll be out on DVD soon, I bet. Its worth the time.

Lisa had to make a premature exit the next day — but not before a rigorous night of classic festival boozery with the gang from The Lodge. Our daughter was sick and Lisa — being a far more responsible parent than I — went home to take care of her.

Later that day, I had the pleasure of sitting on an Actors Panel that was moderated by the delightfully no-nonsense director John Putch, whose very funny Bachelorman was in the festival competition and racked up the largest audiences we saw all weekend. The other panelists included Ms. D'Errico, who was in the ensemble drama Intervention and was the target of my shameless pestering since Intervention was directed by Mary McGuckian, who is married to the estimable John Lynch. In addition, there was Rodney Lee Conover (whose stand-up act provided the basis for Bachelorman), Clyde Kusatsu, who's been in practically every movie and TV show made in the last twenty years and is a top-notch storyteller, and Mike Landry, star of the film Frost.

The panel was lively and most memorable for the story Clyde told about getting axed by his agency of 18 years right after doing The Interpreter, with some ne'er-do-wells named Kidman and Penn. It was bracing to be reminded that working more steadily than 98.7% of all the other actors out there means ... well ... nothing to
certain dull-witted agents who shall remain (Paradigm) nameless.

I mean, Clyde was on Ironside, for Chrissake!! And has not stopped to take a breather since. Seriously, what the fuck, Paradigm!? Your roster just too full of talented, gracious and genuinely nice actors who work non-stop?

The Lodge screened twice and pulled a Villanova-Namath-Eruzione-esque upset, sharing the Audience Award with hometown favorite Eastern College. I missed the jubilant celebration at the awards dinner and the (no doubt) witty, self-deprecatingly irreverent acceptance speech by directors Brad Helmink and John Rauschelbach.

I had left that morning — after a final night of free food and booze — a night that saw one supremely creepy, hapless, balding, middle-aged dude trolling the reception for teenage girls with an invite to the "After-After party", which coincidentally happened to be back at his place.

In the woods.

In a lodge, I think.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Game 7



In all of sports – is there any greater phrase than: “Game 7” ???
Well, as of last night, I’m saying ‘yes’ -
Game 7 – Overtime Stanley Cup Playoff Hockey!!!!

On a night when all the ‘experts’ were picking the Washington Capitals to knock out the Philadelphia Flyers from the Stanley Cup Playoffs – a funny thing happened on the way to The Cup: The Flyers dug deep down and performed the one act that truly makes sports great: The Upset!

Game 7, Sudden Death Overtime; on the Capitals home ice; I was on my feet, my wife had to leave the room for her own sanity, my son learned a few new words (I’m guessing that’s the reason that my wife left the room), and after the Caps third period domination of the The Flyers, Joffrey Lupul slipped an overtime rebound shot by Caps goalie, Cristobal Huet. (Note to Cristolbal: You played great – your defense didn’t clear the zone.)

As SI. com posted: Thanks to a wise pair of old-time referees, Don Koharski and Paul Devorski, the Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals were allowed to play old-time hockey -- Hudson Bay rules, anything goes -- starting late in the second period of Game 7. Frankly, the post-lockout NHL never looked better. This was whatever-it-takes hockey, fully caffeinated, not the little-tug-on-the-arm-penalty hockey that has taken some of the oomph from the game since the 2004-05 lockout. If there is a degree of situational ethics to all of this -- often a penalty in the first period ceases to be a penalty in the third in a playoff game -- well, that was good enough for generations of NHL players. And it seemed to suit the teams Tuesday night.

Note to Alex Ovechkin: (for those who don’t follow the NHL: Ovechkin is the top goal scorer in the NHL for the last few years): I’ll raise a pint in your honor, sir. After a hard fought series, with your team coming out on the losing end, you skated to center ice and applauded your fans for all of their support. Classy move.

It was a game that folks will talk about for years. Congratulations to the Flyers for a great win. A tip of the hat to the Caps for a great series. Now … Philadelphia travels up to Montreal to take on the #1 seeded Canadians … yikes!!!

Go Flyers!!!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Last Lecture






As it so often happens – I have been shown by someone else that this is a HUGE world – and that I am only beginning to understand the true power of that it contains.

I have tried to live my life (as moody as an Irishman can be) by always looking for something good in any situation that I encounter. Call it “The Patty Syndrome” if you will. Well, as I happily found out yesterday, I am just a student at this style of thinking. Last night I was schooled by the master.

If you have not yet heard about “The Last Lecture” – read on. I can not wait to read this man’s book – and I’ll be watching all of his video today.

The video (or at least his part, is an hour long) you can find it here:
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-5700431505846055184


Life … It Is A Gift To Be Celebrated Every Day,

And Feel Free To Hug A Stuffed Animal Today !!!
(That’ll make sense when you see this guy talk!)


Randy Pausch, a Carnegie Mellon University computer-science professor, was about to give a lecture Tuesday afternoon, but before he said a word, he received a standing ovation from 400 students and colleagues.

He motioned to them to sit down. "Make me earn it," he said.

In September 2007, Randy gave a final lecture to his students at Carnegie Mellon that has since been downloaded more than a million times on the Internet. "There's an academic tradition called the 'Last Lecture.' Hypothetically, if you knew you were going to die and you had one last lecture, what would you say to your students?"

Randy says. "Well, for me, it wasn't hypothetical. What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance?”

It can be an intriguing hour, watching healthy professors consider their demise and ruminate over subjects dear to them. At the University of Northern Iowa, instructor Penny O'Connor recently titled her lecture "Get Over Yourself." At Cornell, Ellis Hanson, who teaches a course titled "Desire," spoke about sex and technology.

At Carnegie Mellon, however, Dr. Pausch's speech was more than just an academic exercise. The 46-year-old father of three has pancreatic cancer and expects to live for just a few months. His lecture, using images on a giant screen, turned out to be a rollicking and riveting journey through the lessons of his life.

Clicking through photos of himself as a boy, he talked about his childhood dreams: to win giant stuffed animals at carnivals, to walk in zero gravity, to design Disney rides, to write a World Book entry. By adulthood, he had achieved each goal. As proof, he had students carry out all the huge stuffed animals he'd won in his life, which he gave to audience members. After all, he doesn't need them anymore.

He paid tribute to his techie background. "I've experienced a deathbed conversion," he said, smiling. "I just bought a Macintosh."

Flashing his rejection letters on the screen, he talked about setbacks in his career, repeating: "Brick walls are there for a reason. They let us prove how badly we want things."

He encouraged us to be patient with others. "Wait long enough, and people will surprise and impress you."

After showing photos of his childhood bedroom, decorated with mathematical notations he'd drawn on the walls, he said: "If your kids want to paint their bedrooms, as a favor to me, let 'em do it."

While displaying photos of his bosses and students over the years, he said that helping others fulfill their dreams is even more fun than achieving your own. He talked of requiring his students to create videogames without sex and violence. "You'd be surprised how many 19-year-old boys run out of ideas when you take those possibilities away," he said, but they all rose to the challenge.

He also saluted his parents, who let him make his childhood bedroom his domain, even if his wall etchings hurt the home's resale value. He knew his mom was proud of him when he got his Ph.D, he said, despite how she'd introduce him: "This is my son. He's a doctor, but not the kind who helps people."

He then spoke about his legacy. Considered one of the nation's foremost teachers of videogame and virtual-reality technology, he helped develop "Alice," a Carnegie Mellon software project that allows people to easily create 3-D animations. It had one million downloads in the past year, and usage is expected to soar.

"Like Moses, I get to see the Promised Land, but I don't get to step foot in it," Dr. Pausch said. "That's OK. I will live on in Alice."***

***Editor's Note: Most of this was taken from an article in the NY Times.

Monday, April 7, 2008

YOU WANT FUNNY? THIS GUY IS FUNNY!






Do you know who Harold Lloyd is? He is the least known of the three silent-film-era comic geniuses.

There is Charlie Chaplin. There is Buster Keaton. And there is Harold Lloyd.


Chaplin and Keaton remain household names; brands even.

It is Harold Lloyd, though, who is the father of the romantic comedy. He pioneered the film image of the regular guy — a living, breathing person we recognize — who gets caught up in all kinds of wackiness as he tries to get the most basic things — the girl, friends, a decent job.

Harold Lloyd made roughly a gazillion films — shorts and feature length. Although routinely labeled a movie snob in this space — I had never actually seen a Harold Lloyd film until Wednesday night.

Oh, I had seen DVD cases in which Harold Lloyd's films were kept. The things are found in abundance around the home of Joe Furey and Alison Brown — two of the most generous and hospitable human beings on the planet, by the way.

Joe and Alison graciously board me at their wonderful residence anytime I am in Los Angeles — often at a moment's notice. They, in short, save my ass repeatedly and are great company besides. Alison is a recently minted Phd and a clinical psychologist. Joe is a writer/director/actor of much renown and one of only a handful of people who have made me injure myself through excessive laughter.

Joe's love of vintage comedy films is boundless and yet he'll never force it on you. Therefore, any time we watch movies together, its up to me. And I never pick Harold Lloyd — or anything silent. I didn't get it. I was convinced it wouldn't be all that funny.

I was wrong.

I was dead wrong.

I was as wrong as a Taco Bell/Sierra Nevada Pale Ale hangover fart in a crowded New Orleans greenhouse.

On April 2 Joe invited me to a screening of The Freshman at the AFI Institute up in the Hollywood Hills. The crowd was Joe and I and a flock of young filmmakers — plus Harold Lloyd's granddaughter, Suzanne Lloyd, who is in charge of all her grandfather's films and has made it her life's work to bring his films to the public.

The Freshman is hilarious. It is the direct ancestor of — and way funnier than — Adam Sandler's The Waterboy. It also had to be an enormous influence on the current George Clooney effort Leatherheads.

The next day, Joe and I watched Safety Last! — it has the one Harold Lloyd image I was already familiar with:









And Safety Last! was as funny as The Freshman.

Maybe alot of you are already hip to Harold Lloyd but I'm going to assume that you are as pig-headed as I have been.

In The Freshman and Safety Last1, Harold Lloyd brings something recognizable to the screen. His comedy — often rigorously physical — always has the bite of reality. And subtlety. Lloyd was no ham. He was just funny, inventive and a great actor.

Take a break from Fool's Gold, Run, Fatboy, Run, and Drillbit Taylor and enjoy the genuine article.

Harold Lloyd — the funniest man ever to wear glasses.