Damn you Tom Brady. You’re the best ever, but damn you.

With the Falcons leading 21-0 in the second quarter of Sunday night’s Super Bowl LI, I sent a declarative five-word text to a group of friends.

“Patriots ain’t winning this shit.”

At 28-9 midway through the third quarter, I doubled down on my forecast with another text message.

“I repeat: Patriots ain’t winning this shit.”

A few Falcons’ possessions wasted by turnovers and dumb penalties later, plus an impossible, gravity-defying catch by Julian Edelman, my confidence began to waver.

Next thing you knew the game was tied and the Patriots were on the doorstep of a game-ending touchdown to cap an improbable and historic comeback that netted quarterback Tom Brady a record fifth Super Bowl win. Nearly 24 hours later, I still don’t understand what happened.


Of course, it’s easy to exude confidence when a team is up 25 points. But it wasn’t just the score. It was the dominance that Matt Ryan and the Falcons displayed, on both sides of the ball, that made it so obvious that they were going to be champions.

And just like that, everything changed.

An NFL game is long. At 60 minutes, it affords a team plenty of time overcome almost any deficit. And as the world witnessed on Sunday night, they key to winning a football game is how you play with a lead. And in that regard, the Falcons failed miserably.

Twice the Falcons were poised to widen their lead. Once following an unsuccessful Patriots onside kick attempt in the third quarter, and the other late in the fourth when they had the ball on the Patriots’ 22-yard line, well within field goal range. Both times, they screwed it up and came away scoreless.

What the Patriots accomplished cannot be understated or diminished. It was a comeback for the ages and arguably the greatest game in NFL history.

But the Falcons were their own worst enemies. For the final quarter and a half, they did almost nothing right.

And as a long-suffering New York Jets fan, Tom Brady is my arch nemesis. For the better part of two decades, he has made me hate football. My distaste for him and his team is half-envy, half-condemnation for the way they go about their business. Plus their dubious ties to Donald Trump are not reassuring.

So all things considered, you can imagine that I was not very pleased on Sunday night. I also feel bad for Matt Ryan, who deserved to win, and their owner Arthur Blank, whose hopelessly somber facial expression as his team was in full-blown collapse mode was just devastating to witness.


On a bright note, though, the weekend was not entirely lost. Saturday Night Live continued its full-throttle assault on Donald Trump, which, honestly, doesn’t really take much effort anymore. All they have to do is reenact the things that are actually happening — like Trump’s head-scratching phone call with Australia Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull late last month.

But, without a doubt, the show-stealer was Melissa McCarthy, who made a surprise appearance about 30 minutes into the show to mercilessly mock White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, whose abrasive attitude and surly demeanor towards the media has made him an easy target.

It was a hilarious, slapstick sketch that only someone of McCarthy’s comedic abilities could have accomplished. She truly is the female reincarnation of Chris Farley, in the best possible way.

Naturally, Spicer was not pleased.

We can only hope that it becomes a reoccurring sketch.


Finally — Lady Gaga. She delivered an energetic, colorful and highly entertaining halftime performance. Most people praised it because they were relieved to see her focus on performing and not politics.

Well, think again.

Lady Gaga is not stupid. She subtly slipped in Woody Guthrie’s famous protest song, “This Land is My Land,” and she did it for a reason.

Consider a verse from the original song, which was not the part that Lady Gaga sang:

There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me.
The sign was painted, said ‘Private Property.’
But on the backside, it didn’t say nothing.
This land was made for you and me.

Well played, Gaga, well played.

Indeed, this land was made for you and me.

Grammys 2016: The Force of Taylor Swift and Kendrick Lamar Awakens

For a show that exists to honor the best in music for the past year, the 58th Annual Grammy Awards did not seem all too interested in giving out, well, awards.

Of the 81 awards disseminated by the academy on Monday, only eight happened live on television. The rest of the three and a half hour broadcast was filled with performances.

Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Acceptance speeches are widely considered the most boring part of an awards show.

Taylor Swift Grammy winBut there are just so many artists and bands who  won Grammys, who, for all intents and purposes, may as well have not existed on Monday because their category didn’t make the live show.

Consequently, anyone who doesn’t stay up to date with music but only tunes into the Grammys officially thinks the only musicians that exist right now are Taylor Swift, Kendrick Lamar, Meghan Trainor and the Weeknd.

But I digress.

Anyway, like any awards show, there was the good and the bad last night.

The talk of the town are the first two people I mentioned above. Taylor Swift, who became the first women to win Album of the Year twice, and used her speech to not only empower young woman, but to apparently throw some serious shade at Kanye West. 

Taylor, I’m on your side. But when you publicly shame Kanye, it does not go quietly. The man may be a musical genius, but mentally, he’s not all there. Keep Selena Gomez and the rest of your female posse close by. You may need it.

The other highlight was Kendrick Lamar, whose 2015 release “To Pimp a Butterfly” swept all the rap categories but fell short on Album of the Year to Swift’s “1989.” But what people will remember most was his spellbinding, socially conscious performance, which will probably upset the same white people who didn’t like Beyonce’s Super Bowl halftime performance last week — which, might I add, Saturday Night Live hilariously chimed in on this weekend.

Kendrick Lamar Grammys2.jpg

What people also will likely remember was Lady Gaga’s tribute to David Bowie, which frenetically rushed through 10 of his songs in a matter of minutes. While ambitious, the whole thing seemed too chaotic and over the top, which, apparently was the same sentiment expressed by David Bowie’s son.

And what gives with Justin Bieber’s performance? It was his first time getting to perform nationally in the Post Everybody Hates Bieber era (which, correct me if I’m wrong, is somewhere between the Jurassic and Pleistocene era on the epochal timeline), and they took his song that is grounded in electronic, computer-made sound and instead performed it with actual instruments? It changed the entire complexion of the song.Lady Gaga Bowie2

Oh, and don’t even get me started on the mess that was the Hollywood Vampires. That was just scary.

But let me say this. The Grammys seem to be obsessed with medleys, unusual artists pairings, and experimental performances. It’s the Grammys, so they want everything to be unique.

And that’s what made the performance by the Eagles, joined by Jackson Browne, singing “Take it Easy” as a tribute to the late Glenn Frey so special. They simply sang a classic song, from start to finish, telling people to take it easy in an era when people are no longer physically capable of taking it easy.

It was the most honest, sincere and heartfelt moment of the night, in my mind.

On that note, I can’t think of any better way to pay tribute to their tribute by spending the rest of the evening taking it easy by pulling my own Eagle.

That did not come out right at all.

The startling renaissance of Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga’s vocal abilities were never in question.

Regardless of whether or not you like her music, there’s no arguing she has a powerhouse voice with great range. But what is more open for argument is how you perceive her “artistry,” the facade she puts on when performing in public and the panache that comes with it.

It’s that element that’s seemed to cause wildly varying opinions among people about Lady Gaga since her arrival in mainstream consciousness seven years ago. While it was her talent that brought her fame, it was the gimmicks afterwards that polarized many.

Lady GagaBut even the people who bashed her the most still probably couldn’t help but sing along to her earlier pop-friendly hits like “Just Dance,” “Poker Face,” or “Bad Romance.”

On the opposite end of the spectrum, even people who adored her probably still couldn’t help but question some of her antics, like beginning a Grammy performance inside of a giant egg, cross-dressing at the 2011 Video Music Awards, or wearing a dress of bubbles.

That’s been the overarching theme to Lady Gaga’s public image the last several years. People either hate or love her, most are confused by her, and yet, everyone pretty much agrees that she’s a great singer.

It’s also what makes it equally surprising, that, several years into a career that’s been met with so many critics, she’s now reaching a point where she’s almost universally celebrated. Look no further than last month’s Oscar performance, when she blew away audiences across the world with a beautiful tribute to The Sound of Music. 

What happened here?

I think people are finally starting to see the real Lady Gaga minus the gimmicks, while appreciating her recent successes: She got engaged a few weeks ago. She’s set to star in the next season of American Horror Story. And she’s also coming off an acclaimed collaborative album with Tony Bennett, a crooner who basically looks like the lovable grandpa we all wish we had.

If that’s not the formula for Public Relations 101, I don’t know what is. Lady Gaga2

Taylor Swift has certainly taken note of Gaga’s resurgence. Two days ago, she tweeted, “Is it just me or is Lady Gaga,
like, fully LIVING right now?” to which Lady Gaga graciously replied by expressing her thanks.

What’s probably earned her the most approval, though, is her normal appearance lately. No costumes. No disguises. No eccentricity.

Just a young woman who can really sing.

Now I’m not saying that Lady Gaga, who is still only 28, needs to conform to appeal the masses. But she was really floating on the edge of lunacy at times, it appeared, and it’s nice to see her come back down a little closer to reality and show the world that there’s a real person there.

Or, maybe, the first several years of her career was just her poker face.

Oscars 2015: Predictable awards, a Lady Gaga performance for the ages and Chris Pine’s tears

When the Oscars has better musical performances than the Grammys did, then something is probably wrong.

Anybody who has followed the awards season should not have been surprised by yesterday’s Academy Awards results. Birdman was the heavy favorite to win Best Picture, and the acting awards were virtual locks, with the exception being Best Male Actor in a Leading Role, which was thought to be a deadlock between Eddie Redmayne and Michael Keaton.

Redmayne had the jaw dropping performance as the ALS-ridden physics mastermind Stephen Hawking, but Keaton had the whole washed-up-actor-reviving-his-career appeal on his side.

Eddie Redmayne OscarThe Academy went with the better performance. Good for them.

But people don’t watch the Oscars to see who wins the awards. They watch because the Oscars makes up like 25 percent of the year’s pop culture. It’s one of the most watched programs in the world, and by missing it you’re basically isolating yourself from workplace conversation for the next week.

But that being said, there’s always some humorous and entertaining things that happen at these ceremonies that people are also on the lookout for. Like John Travolta and Idina Menzel poking some fun at the former’s verbal faux pas a year ago. And host Neil Patrick Harris walking on stage in tighty wighties as an homage to a scene from Birdman.

But what I appreciate about the Oscars are something most people don’t: the acceptance speeches. For some viewers, it’s an automatic channel change. But what I like most is the emotion that comes with winning an Oscar, combined with standing on that stage with the ultimate platform to speak, and just being in the moment. What can you possibly say? Every one is listening. So you can say anything and be heard. Anything.

Some people will give contrived speeches they clearly rehearsed for hours. Others will read off a sheet. Most will try to be politically correct. But some, like Graham Moore, will speak from the heart. In case you missed it, the screenwriter, who won for writing The Imitation Game, said, “When I was 16 years old, I tried to kill myself, because I felt weird and I felt different and I felt like Chris Pine tearsI did not belong. And now I’m standing here. So I would like for this moment to be for that kid out there who feels likes she’s weird, or she’s different and she doesn’t fit in anywhere. Yes you do. I promise you do. Stay weird, stay different, and then when it’s your turn, and you’re standing on this stage, please pass this message to the next person that comes along.”

Some really powerful stuff. Of course, another poignant moment was a performance by Lonnie Lynn and John Stephens — also known as Common and John Legend — of “Glory” from the movie Selma. It’s an extremely emotional and affecting song, and it wasn’t surprising when the camera cut to David Oyelewo, who played Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the movie, in tears. But then they cut to Chris Pine who was also bawling, which, I’m sorry, was pretty funny. And thanks to that emotion, his heartthrob meter among women probably increased tenfold. Damn you Pine for showing your sensitive side.

It was one many enjoyable musical performances on the night, including one by Tim McGraw and another by Tegan Lady Gaga OscarsSara with the Lonely Island (no, that’s not a joke), but the one who stole the show was Lady Gaga.

The renowned singer has been very widely hailed, as well as criticized, for various things in her career, but I can’t imagine that there’s a single soul in the world who didn’t love her performance last night. She paid tribute to the 50th anniversary of The Sound of Music by singing a medley of songs from the classical musical, and she sounded terrific. And even better, she looked normal. Even, dare I say, beautiful. There was no gimmicks, no shenanigans. Just a talented woman, in a dazzling dress, singing like she’s a fairy tale princess.

Lady Gaga, you won America’s heart last night.

You the real MVP.