Wednesday, November 12, 2008


So many people claim to be that which they are not — as if the mere act of saying it makes it so.

When Marie Kamara Monk called herself an actor — it was the truth.

She had the talent, she had the passion and she did the work. Those of us fortunate enough to have crossed her path are better for it.

In the theater, an old adage is that we can learn all we need to know about someone by his or her work on the stage. In the acting, the person will be revealed.

Time and again, Marie revealed herself to be compassionate, committed, insightful, fiercely intelligent and very funny.

And courageous.

I had no idea that Marie had lupus, a much-misunderstood disease that my wife Lisa lives with as well. Knowing the great challenges lupus can present, it only deepens my respect for Marie's commitment to acting and my admiration for her artistry.

I would urge you to take this opportunity to learn a little about lupus. Its quite possible someone you know has it.

I would also urge you — as I urge myself — to embrace Marie's example.

To run out of excuses.

I knew Marie only in the classroom and saw her on the stage.

Those who knew her better than I have eloquently and beautifully remembered her.

I will only add this:

Marie Kamara Monk was an actor.

She will be greatly missed.

Click here to see Marie's tribute in the Columbus Dispatch.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


I accept the charge of sour grapes right from the get-go. It is the birthright of all Philadelphia sports fans — unmitigated grousing and finger-pointing.

Now that we have that out of the way ...

The guy pictured above just turned in what may be the worst performance by a home-plate umpire in a World Series Game. And since he was perpetrating this travesty against my beloved Philadelphia Phillies, I wanted to stick my fingers deep into his eyes with each mind-blowing mistake he made.

His name is Kerwin Danley and I do not like him.

I would appreciate it greatly if you would make an effort to dislike him as well.

Boy, did he suck in Game Two of the World Series tonight — blown calls, weird indecision and a strike zone that was more unpredictable than Tom Sizemore with an eightball, a strap-on and a blowtorch.

But, in truth, we can't lay all the blame for tonight's Phillies loss at Kerwin Danley's feet.

The poor Fightin' Phils are taking an historic collar with guys on base. It is as if we are watching the same inning over and over. A couple of guys get on base, then anemia sets in and Phillies are waving at the ball like Ms. Montgomery County.

Now before you say,

"Hold on there, armchair. You have no idea how hard it is to hit a major league fastball or curveball. No idea at all!!"

I'd like to illustrate just how knowledgeable I am about trying to do the near-impossible — which is to hit good pitching.

In my freshman year of high school — I went out for the baseball team at Archbishop Carroll. I had occasion to secure one at-bat during a practice game against Penn Charter, a school renowned for producing Tony Resch and soon to be exalted for producing Thomas Noonan.

This at-bat pitted the scrawny, bespectacled and jittery me against the strapping local legend-in-the-making known as Mark Gubicza.

With a helmet too loose and a bat too heavy, I dug in against the man-child.

The first pitch, I believe, I never even saw. Fastball.

Strike One.

The second pitch I'm certain I never saw. Fasterball.

Strike Two.

With an ill-advised brief burst of courage, I inched closer to protect the plate.

The third pitch headed straight for my face. I buckled, cringed and otherwise Cirque de Soleiled. The ball broke across the heart of the plate as I ended the pose looking like a flamingo having a seizure. Curveball.

Strike Three.

The at-bat lasted roughly forty seconds.

The next day I went out for the golf team.

So I have some kernel of insight into how tough hitting is but ...



Number Two:

Seriously, "I Am Joe the Plumber?"


Is that what people are buying now? Is that really the deciding factor for the incomprehensibly still undecided voters?

"I Am Joe the Plumber."

Are you?

You're a lying sack of shit who has never been a plumber and goes deadbeat on taxes and compares Barack Obama to Sammy Davis, Jr.?


It was recently suggested to me that it is easy to misinterpret the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly.

So in my car today, I flipped to Rush Limbaugh's show. I took it as a challenge. I'll listen — in context — and see if I can keep from screaming "Asshole. Liar. Most dangerous man in America!"

I couldn't.

He talked about elitists and couched it in a soundbite from an interview Brian Williams did with John McCain and Sarah Palin.

Palin's part of the sound bite was another variation on her patented "My name is Elmer J. Fudd. I own a mansion and a yacht."

McCain expounded on where elitists could be found.

Washington D.C. and New York — in case you were curious.

McCain said elitists were anyone who thinks they know better than you do and want to control you.

Limbaugh then blustered that McCain was right — that it was all about condescension.

And that was enough.

These aren't serious people. They're name-calling, misleading and playing games while the country is in genuine turmoil. And, worse yet, if they are attempting profundity and clarity — then they are lacking in even the most basic self-awareness or insight.

Condescension runs through every vein of John McCain. Of the four people in this race, he has been — by far — the most privileged.

Sarah Palin's audacious disregard for us is clear — she will not deign to actually answer questions or speak in any way, shape or form that leads you to believe what she's saying. Either she thinks we're all too stupid to know the difference — or she is.

And ultimately — if the elusive no-name elitists you hear about every day really are those who think they know better than you do and want to control you — look no further than your neighbor's church. Any rival congregation will do.

There are no terrorists, communists, socialists or elitists running for president.

We desperately need serious, competent and steady people to lead us.

Put your country first and let serious people run it.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

McCain Comes Full Circle — It's Over

That's my prediction. My wildly presumptuous, hair-trigger prediction. And deep down, you know I'm right.

There is — barring any calamitous screw-up by Barack Obama — no way John McCain can rally to win the election.

Mint it. Print it. Sprint it (what!?).

He can't do it. He won't do it.

And it's not because he lost the debate Tuesday night — which he did. It's not because he lacks intelligence — which he doesn't. It's not even because his attempts at humor are tarnishing the legacy of Celtic wit and timing — which they are.

(McCain's roots go back to Antrim in Northern Ireland — and Scotland before that — just like the McClatchy roots — and the McClatchy clan is, by all accounts, an absolute laugh riot! We kill! We are flat-out hilarious — as any self-respecting, mildly lubricated Irish-Scots family must be. Come on, Senator McCain — if you're going to engage in witticisms and sly asides, you have a sacred Celtic obligation to, ya know, be funny.)

But McCain is done because he is physically, emotionally and psychologically unfit to lead.

Now Kevin ... don't you go Swift-boating this war hero, you socialist, tree-hugging son of a bitch.

I wouldn't dream of Swift-boating John McCain. Because John McCain has been Swift-boated already and he understands the impotent rage and bottomless disgust that being Swift-boated produces.

"They know no depths, do they? They know no depths."

That's what John McCain said about Karl Rove and George Bush's smear campaign against him in South Carolina's 2000 presidential primary.

(Of course, it wasn't called Swift-boating back then. It would be four more years before the Son of Perdition cooked that gem up. In 2000 it was just called Rove being Rove.)

And McCain was right. He was dead-on.

Yet now — with his presidential prospects dimming — he has come full circle and sold his soul at the altar of Mr. Pure Walking Evil himself:

McCain's transparent and wildly irresponsible VP pick was bad enough. But then — under the watchful eye of campaign strategist and Rove clone Steve Schmidt — McCain went off the reservation. He sent his circus act of a running mate Sarah Palin on an unholy mission to brand Barack Obama a terrorist.

Gov. Palin — folksy as all-get-out and that much creepier for it — said Obama was "pallin' around with terrorists." We all know she was referring to William Ayres, the former leader of the Weathermen, a radical anti-war group from the 60s and early 70s.

His militant opposition to the Vietnam War and his subsequent actions occurred when he was in his 20s and Obama was 8.

Somehow — in repeating this rap over and over — Governor Palin neglects to mention that Ayres, now 63, is a leader in education reform and a Distinguished Professor at the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

With the "terrorist" number and her standard misrepresentation about Obama's remarks on Afghanistan, she is whipping crowds into a dangerous, misguided frenzy. Shouts of "treason!" and "terrorist!" accompany mention of Obama at McCain/Palin rallies.

It doesn't seem to occur to her that she is playing a perilous game that can lead to tragedy.

Which is not surprising — she's a dim bulb with a bizarre moral compass.

Thank God she'll never be vice-president.

What is genuinely surprising — and sounds the death knell for McCain's campaign — is this:

With a massive financial crisis that he stood by and watched develop (you can't vote with George Bush 92% of the time and call yourself Maverick — or Goose or Iceman for that matter ...)

With a $10-billion-a-month wrong-headed war that he consistently championed ...

With a health-care situation that just may be the thing that brings violent protests back to the streets ...

With all that and much more ...

With the country hungering for real leadership ...

McCain went and Swift-boated Obama.

He Karl-Roved the poor bastard.

John McCain has become what he despises.

I didn't think he would.

He knows no depths, does he?

Thank God he's lost the election.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

John McCain Hates Me ... and You ... and Especially You

If you pay attention long enough, people eventually reveal their true selves. Senator John McCain did just that — beyond any shadow of a doubt — yesterday.

McCain derisively asks Sarah Palin if her exchange outside Tony Luke's in Philadelphia with Temple Phd candidate Michael Rovito happened at a "pizza place." As if that were utterly beneath her ... and himself.

No matter how hard McCain tries to tell us that he is a man of the people, that he is a maverick, that he is different ... he just isn't. He is a privileged, cynical, mean-spirited rich guy who clearly has no respect for:

a) the intelligence of those who may frequent or work at a beloved family-owned institution that offers great food at affordable prices and goes out of its way to support the troops McCain pays lip service to at every opportunity.

b) Michael Rovito — a tax-paying serious-minded voter who would like to know what the hell is going on in Sarah Palin's head.

(Oh yeah — Rovito is involved in researching ethnic studies, minority health disparities, immigration, and implementing Geographic Information Systems to the field of epidemiology and public health — what a selfish, grandstanding prick he is.)

There was no "gotcha journalism" as McCain alleged. Nor was anything taken out of context. Sarah Palin was asked questions at a close range and in a reasonable tone of voice and she gave her answers.

I feel sorry for Sarah Palin now. She is so completely overwhelmed that you can actually see her aging over the course of an interview. She has quickly become a punchline and there appears to be no way out for her.

She is in for the most humiliating month of her life.

But back to Senator McCain — who evidently is a borderline compulsive gambler and classic backroom casino wheeler-dealer as well as a dick.

I mean — do we really need another condescending, vindictive president who has lost all touch with the day-to-day reality of the people he wants to lead? McCain is an angry old man with no real regard for you and me. He seems to be losing the ability to tell the truth with each passing day. And in the process — he must have gone to the Senate Appropriations committee and secured first dibs on George Bush's smirk.

I used to like John McCain. When you get snippets here and there of him, you can be fooled. He can come across like a tough, honest customer.

But — in the end — who is he?

A man who has ridden the war hero horse a long, long way, who ditched his first wife after she was disfigured in a car accident, who is as slick a dealmaker as any other Washington insider and now arrives on history's doorstep a damaged, arrogant, angry jackass.

Don't we deserve better?

Also — a word about debates. I believe that the candidates should not debate each other. I think the truth will be revealed only if John McCain debates a regular old registered Democrat and Barack Obama debates an everyday registered Republican.

Rather than sparring, pouting and making grand empty pronouncements, they would have to give real answers and talk to someone who lives in the real world.

I volunteer to debate McCain. I think it should take place at Tony Luke's.

Now all I have to do is open a casino and maybe he'll return my call.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


There are always people in your life who — somehow — make you want to be better.

On a daily basis, my wife and daughter inspire me to want to be more than I am.

In all aspects of my life.

And then there are artists — creative tsunamis — who humble and inspire ... who make you want to ... to ... just do. And do whatever it is you have to do better than you did it before.

Jeff Parise is one such force of nature.

And if you don't know who the hell he is ... well, that is about to change.

And not a minute too soon.

In the seven and half years I've known him, Jeff has revealed, refined and expanded his talents as an actor, a painter, a writer, a director, a musician.

Jeff Parise is creativity distilled.

And he does it all in a way that does not make you want to kick his ass for being so gifted.

Jeff and I met doing a film together — and despite the fact that he is from Indiana and couldn't give a shit about basketball — we became friends.

Along the way, I (and my wife Lisa) turned him on to Egon Schiele. He turned me onto
Wim Wenders. He's asked me for advice. I've seeked out his counsel.

In theory, actors and artists must support one another — because that support only makes all of us stronger, better, more alive. Because, the theory goes, there is not a finite amount of talent in the world. Your talent makes my talent more vital.

In practice, it's often a world of jealousy, duplicity and warped competition.

Jeff Parise proves the theory in his practice of it. He's an artist who genuinely supports artists.

If you are in Los Angeles between now and next Friday go see Callback: The Unmaking of 'Bloodstain

Support real independent film ... and a guy who truly deserves it.

Congrats, JVP.

P.S. Jeff — as you travel along your path to world entertainment domination, I feel compelled to remind you that I am currently available for acting work — especially since my daughter wants to go to private school ... and Yale.

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.



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.

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.


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.


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.

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.

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.



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.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


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?



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.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


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.

Friday, March 14, 2008


A native of Newry, Northern Ireland, John Lynch has been called the cinematic face of the Irish Troubles. On screen, he also has two-timed Gwyneth Paltrow, romped with Lassie and been one of the most touching schizophrenics in film history.

You'll recognize his face, no doubt, but John Lynch is one of the greatest actors you've never heard of.

Liam Neeson, Colin Farrell, Colm Meaney and the incomparable Daniel-Day Lewis are the branded faces of Irish film. John Lynch is it's quiet soul.

He arrived on the film scene indelibly with Cal in 1984. Playing the title character — a reluctant IRA terrorist — Lynch brings a haunting sensitivity and depth to the affecting story of Cal's love affair with the widow (a stunning Helen Mirren) of the man he helped to kill.

Cal, like Lynch, is an under-appreciated classic.

Lynch was part of the combustible cast of Derek Jarman's searing Edward II (1991) as well as the heartbroken Lord Craven in the sweet and sumptuous film version of The Secret Garden (1993) — his first taste of commercial success. That same year came In The Name of The Father, as Lynch played Paul Hill alongside the Oscar-nominated Day-Lewis as Gerry Conlon — half of the railroaded Guilford Four. Deservedly so, the powerful, moving film was nominated for Best Picture.

Now on a full-fledged great-movie binge — Lynch, in the next three years, went from John Sayles' The Secret of Roan Inish to Angel Baby, where he was wondrous as a schizophrenic fighting for love and his independence to Nothing Personal — possibly his greatest performance — as a young father trying to stay apolitical in 1975 Belfast to his indelible turn as doomed hunger striker Bobby Sands in Some Mother's Son — which reunited him with Helen Mirren.

Lynch is probably best-known to American audiences as the feckless boyfriend in Sliding Doors (1998) — which not only stars Gwyneth Paltrow but has been seen by Trip McClatchy nigh on 400 times.

In the intervening ten years Lynch has continued to give finely etched performances — most notably in the mini-series Bleak House, the latest incarnation of Lassie and as legendary soccer star George Best.

In every role — John Lynch finds its heart. And you believe him. He's an artist.

You could do a lot worse than a John Lynch film festival this St. Patrick's Day.


Try as we might to bring the St. Patrick's Day countdown your way, the absolute magic of college hoops and BrothersMcC mojo refuses to be ignored.

John Noonan's (that's him administering the bear hug) favorite descriptive adjective is "ridiculous." It is summoned for good, ill and anything in between.

And now it must be applied to Ursinus College basketball.

These guys are ridiculous.

Tonight Ursinus took on last year's national runner-up Virginia Wesleyan (of the powerful — and I mean POWERFUL — Old Dominion Athletic Conference — which has produced its share of great teams, D-III Hall-of-Famers and slow, earthbound, fundamentally sound, Irish-American hotheads who get in fights and nearly tossed from games minutes after tip-off when their families have driven five hours to watch them play ... okay maybe just one of those.)

This second-round match-up had "Bad News" written all over it for Ursinus. Their leading scorer and All-American Nick Shattuck was hobbled by a painful bruised heel and Virginia Wesleyan was fast, physical and experienced.

By the way — this Shattuck fellah was cut from his high school freshman team and squeaked on JV as a sophomore. Now he's a college All-American. Mover over, Rudy. Here's a picture of the dude:

Long story short — Virginia Wesleyan comes out smokin' and Ursinus is down 17 at half time. Shattuck has as many points as I do to complement his three fouls and John Noonan is clanging everything outside two feet.

But soph guard Matt Hilton is on fire — or as his notorious relative might say, "hot."
And 6-10 Michael Shema is beating up Virginia Wesleyan inside.

In the second half — Ursinus chips away, Virginia Wesleyan gets tight, Nick Shattuck absolutely guts it out and scores huge bucket after huge bucket, Noonan finds the range and some French dude named Cousart has a zillion assists. Ursinus comes all the way back and finally takes the lead 60-59 as John Noonan, showing hops foreign to the rest of his gene pool, converts a sweet alley oop play.

It see saws the next couple of minutes. Helfferich Hall is pandemonium, my sister — John Noonan's mother — is in cardiac arrest, her husband — John's dad — is quietly aging decades and my nephew Sean is apparently plotting a media grab (see above photo — and dig the Ohio State sweatshirt — purchased by the wife and yours truly. Kid has taste.)

Ursinus rides clutch play and a collective huge pair to a mind-boggling 70-64 comeback win for the ages. And a spot in the Sweet Sixteen. And quite possibly the greatest post-game celebration picture in sports photo-journalism history.

Reached for comment following the game, John Noonan characterized the comeback, the photo, the gutcheck, the Sweet Sixteen, the celebratory embrace with teammate Keith Page, the Freak-a-Deak photo jubilation of his cousin Sean and the length of this sentence as ...



(ed. note: First things first — never underestimate the power of a blog entry. To wit:
I ignited an Ursinus-hoops-tastic burst of blog activity earlier this week — focusing on young John Noonan (great-grandson of Irish immigrants, mind you.) Tonight the Ursinus College Bears defeated Bible Baptist, 94-76, in the 1st round of the NCAA tourney. Noonan — in his first game flush with BrothersMcC mojo — promptly went off for a career-high 28 points.
We do what we can.

Now for today's offering:

Most everyone knows about The Commitments — the wildly popular movie about the fictional ragtag Irish band that finds success. The Commitments was originally a novel written by the great Irish author Roddy Doyle. It later was included in The Barrytown Trilogy — along with his next two novels, The Snapper and The Van — both of which also became films.

Doyle won the Booker Prize for his 1993 novel Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha. But the spotlight we throw today is on my favorite from the pen of Mr. Doyle:

A Star Called Henry

Profane, profound, and laugh-out-loud funny, it is Doyle's best. He gives us one of the most memorable characters in recent fiction in Henry Smart — born in 1902 into grinding Dublin poverty to a one-legged father who works as a whorehouse bouncer and uses his wooden leg to keep the peace.

If that doesn't hook you — you can kiss my ass.

We follow Henry — memoir-style — as he makes his way through a tumultuous childhood to joining the cause of Irish independence and ... I'll say no more. Except Henry meets many an historical figure along the way.

Writing this good is rare.

So go get the thing and read it. Hell, it was published in 1999. It's gotta be in paperback by now, you cheapskates!

A Star Called Henry is Volume One of The Last Roundup.
Volume Two is Oh! Play That Thing — it's good but not nearly the masterpiece A Star Called Henry is.

That's right, I said masterpiece. Problem, friend?


Over the next few days, I'll endeavor to bring you some of the less-well-trod options for cultural Irish enhancement.

As beloved as they may be — you'll not find The Quiet Man, The Clancy Brothers or James Joyce in these pages. It's about new experiences, forgotten gems, hidden treasures.

And, please — for the love of all that is good and holy, Michael Collins and John F. Kennedy — NO GREEN BEER.

Today's offering:

Just because she's a split-personality nutcase who is a danger not only to herself but record executives and authority figures everywhere — we cannot forget that Sinead O'Connor is possibly the greatest female vocalist in Ireland's illustrious history.

She is brilliant, petulant, unhinged, beautiful, infuriating, inspiring, heartbreaking and, in the end, mysterious. Just like the country she hails from, tortures and reveres.

Here she reminds us of our common humanity:


There is a plaque that hangs just inside The Palestra, the legendary basketball arena on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. It reads:

"To win the game is great. To play the game is greater. But to love the game is the greatest of all."

That quote may apply to the legions of Division I players that have made history at the Palestra through the years. But nowhere does it apply more than in the relative obscurity of Division III basketball.

There are no scholarships. There is no TV deal. There are no coach's endorsements. And many times, there are no fans.

The players in Division III are the last true student-athletes. They aren't going pro and they aren't getting famous. And they play hoops for themselves, their teammates and the love of the game.

And these guys can play. Really play.

And while the college basketball landscape is dominated by the March to Madness, Bob Knight's bail-out and Kelvin Sampson's compulsive scuzzball behavior history was quietly being made, Division III-style, not forty minutes from that famed plaque at the Palestra.

Ursinus College, in Collegeville, Pa., became the first team in Centennial Conference history to go undefeated in conference play. The Bears hit 18-0 with a 72-69 nail-biter over Muhlenberg on Saturday.

The Bears have an All-American scoring machine in senior Nick Shattuck. They also have an emerging star in junior guard John Noonan.

You will read very little about Nick Shattuck the rest of the way because John Noonan is my nephew and I'm going to brag about him from here on out.

Nick — sorry, dude.

And in keeping with strict BrothersMcc protocol, I am writing this without benefit of actually having seen any of the games — which in no way diminishes my expert opinion and insights. That said ...

John Noonan is the quintessential D-III hoopster.

He was the best player at his high school — tiny Friends Select in Philadelphia. He had the chance to transfer to bigger high schools that played in more competitive leagues but he chose not to. Friends Select was his school and the guys were his teammates.

In the summers, John held his own against some of the best players in the city — many of whom went to D-I schools.

Ursinus, a perennial power in D-III, recruited him. And off he went, tagged as the school's next great player.

And he struggled.

The transition from Friends Select-type competition to top-flight college hoops was a huge challenge. John played sparingly as a freshman — he was tentative. He put pressure on himself. He got frustrated. His jumper deserted him.

But he kept working. He worked hard. Then worked a little harder.

Last year — as a sophomore — John moved into the starting line-up and he showed flashes. But his jumper still was fickle and the team never found its stride, stumbling on a four-game losing streak to end the season a disappointing 16-10.

This year, John Noonan has emerged. And it couldn't happen to a nicer guy. He is playing clutch basketball, shooting the ball like a seasoned veteran and even leads the team in steals. And he makes his free throws.

(Note to John Calipari at Memphis — There will be games that come down to making free throws and it will be your undoing. For the love of God, practice free throws, mister.)

And John Noonan is funny. Which goes a long way in the course of a grueling hoops and books season.

In the final three-game run to history, Ursinus battled the following:

— prior to an 88-62 road win against Dickinson, Nick Shattuck and John were flattened by the flu. John dragged himself out on the court and laid 22 points on them, going 8 for 11 from the field.

— against Haverford, a team Ursinus beat by 30 earlier in the year, John gets whistled for a phantom foul with .08 seconds remaining and the score tied. The player from Haverford College spares John years of therapy and possible mental illness by missing the free throw. Ursinus holds on in OT 82-75.

— In the final regular season game at Muhlenberg, Ursinus survives an excruciating parade to the foul line by Muhlenberg in the last two minutes and a desperate three-point heave to stay undefeated.

The Ursinus Bears were perfect. John Noonan broke out — averaging nearly 15 points a game and even throwing down his first career dunk.

The Ursinus Bears host the Centennial Conference tournament this weekend. They are ranked 17th in the country and #1 in the Middle Atlantic Region. They are on their way to the NCAA tournament.

So, when you're filling out your pools for March Madness and watching games and shouting yourself hoarse, remember D-III — the teams that play out of view, that go to class, that play for the love of the game.

And remember that nice guys do finish first.

Just ask John Noonan — 2008 1st-Team All-Conference


There is nothing like great theater.

And there is really nothing like great theater that hits you when you least expect it. That presents itself in such a unique and committed way that it makes you want to jump up onstage and share the joy.

And when you factor in that the great theater in question — No Dice from the New York-based Nature Theater of Oklahoma — is a four-hour experimental theater extravaganza — the enormity of the thrill becomes clear.

In the friendly confines of the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, OH, the astounding No Dice ensemble takes stylized acting and wildly energetic choreography to a place of high art.

The dialogue was crafted from countless hours of taped phone conversations between company members and their friends and family. The characters are foreigners — until they discard their accents and then their costumes and we realize what we suspected all along:

They aren't foreigners — they are us. And they are making a Herculean effort — using everyday conversations — to make sense of their lives and the world they share. Their interactions are by turns melodramatic, vaudevillian, touching and consistently hilarious.

Topics of dissection — um, discussion — include office work, Russian TV, drinking, dieting, novel punishments for scofflaw actors, Mel Gibson's Hamlet and dinner theater. All explored with non sequiturs, fits and starts and magnificently commited acting.

Then there's the dancing — which is as joyously uproarious as any I've ever witnessed on stage. (I admit, I do not possess a comprehensive mental library of dance numbers on stage but take my word for it.)

The theatrical experience of No Dice ultimately defies any written description. Like any great live experience — it needs to be seen, felt and heard.

However, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the truly inspirational commitment by the actors — especially the astounding trio of Zachary Oberzan, Anne Gridley and Robert M. Johanson.

I would also be remiss if I didn't mention that my lovely, insightful and persistent wife, Lisa, was the driving force to see this show. See, I've been in and seen enough wacky-kooky-hey-look-at-us we're-super-different! experimental theater that I was leery of a four-hour sojourn — possibly into the heart of nutville.

No Dice is a show that restores faith in the power of live theater.

It is an example of what live theater should be.

I wanted to be up there with them.


I've been a Bobby Knight apologist for years. Yes, it's been with declining conviction recently but nevertheless, there it is.

My brother Trip thought Knight was a dick.

I loved The General's teams when I was growing up — especially the 32-0 '76 team that sealed the deal in Philly. I dreamed of playing for Knight. His teams played tough, hard-ass basketball. They were unselfish and disciplined. They overcame physical limitations. They played hoops the right way. They played hoops that let you dream.

I thought it would be the ultimate challenge — to play under that kind of pressure, to thrive in that demanding cauldron. Even if I was too short, too slow and too earthbound.

Trip reiterated his sentiment that Bobby Knight was, is, and shall be ... a dick.

Even when everyone around me labeled him a bully, an ogre, a jerk off, a dick — I was fascinated by Bobby Knight. Did it really make you a better person to survive four years under him? Could someone be that angry, stubborn nasty and intimidating AND be a fiercely loyal, brilliantly innovative, tough-loving father-figure genius coach?

Maybe, Trip said, but not Knight — because Knight is a dick.

I was mesmerized by Knight's contradictions. I read John Feinstein's amazing book A Season on the Brink and came away wanting to meet Knight and find out what the Sweet Jesus made him tick.

You'll meet a dick, Trip said.

Well, I was too slow, too small and too earthbound a hoopster to ever come near experiencing Knight's particular brand of coaching. And the closer Knight came to Crazy Old Guy status — I mean, his eyebrows have their own zoning laws — the less I was able to rationalize my fascination.

But, even as his behavior became wackier and downright reprehensible, there was STILL a kernel of absorption in this Shakespearean decline. Sure, his teams tanked in the tournament and he was beginning to look more and more like a dinosaur. Yes, he railed like Lear and picked on little guys like Jeremy Schaap, who had the unmitigated gall to not pucker up and kiss his ass.

But he was Knight — maybe the greatest college coach of all time. And he had his principles — twisted as they might get by his temper and pig-headedness. His programs were clean. He cared about the kids. The kids got their diplomas. He was there.

Knight was there — through shitstorms and tornados, through outrage and witchhunts, through his own buffoonery and the exploitation of the media.

Knight hung in. Because it was for the kids. That's what college coaching is, after all. It's for the kids. Isn't that what every coach says?

Isn't that why coaches — in particular Bobby Knight — demand unquestioned loyalty, total obedience and maximum effort?

Because it's ultimately about character. Principles. Ideals. The kids. Jesus Christ, it's about the kids after all!!!!

Except when the coach is a dick.

Bobby Knight quit. He didn't retire. He'll coach again, the pussy. He had a painfully mediocre team at a school that — no matter how you slice it — was, is and always will be an also-ran. And he bailed. He took his red sweater and went home. He couldn't even be bothered to consider the four seniors on his team.

He tortured poor Martin Zeno for four years and then gives him the high hat with a month left. In fact, playing for Bobby Knight has probably 86'ed Zeno's NBA prospects.

And what thanks does Martin Zeno get?

The thanks of a dick.

Bobby Knight can tell everyone that he left to help his son Pat — who took over for Dad as coach at Texas Tech. But Pat was already promised the job whenever Knight was through. Why quit in the middle of the season? Why quit on the team that you browbeat about loyalty and toughness?

Bobby Knight told Jay Bilas of ESPN that he was "tired." And that it had been a "tough season." Okay, Bobby Knight is 67 — that's old but it's not even close to I'm-absolved-of-all-responsibility-for-my-actions old.

Worst of all, Knight told Bilas — "I'm just a basketball coach. I didn't work on curing heart disease or work on a cure for cancer or lead a division into a military endeavor that was a tremendous benefit to the United States. I've been a basketball coach.''

That quote was the killer — because Knight knows it's a lie and built his career on just the opposite.

And Bilas, who simply knows better, let it slide. He didn't have the courage to risk Knight's petulant wrath.

Here's the truth ...

College basketball is not insignificant. Yes, it has ruined some young men and probably hundreds of coaches' marriages. But college basketball has saved countless young men and women and thrilled millions and made millions and is a cultural institution. And I'd like to know this:

If you're just a basketball coach, Mr. Knight, — Why do you lose your shit every game. Why don't you sit on the bench, shut up and read the paper? Why do you write books about the lessons learned? Why do you take young men under your wing? Why does Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski call you the most influential person in his life other than his father?

Because, you hypocritical jackass, you know and I know that you (and every other coach worth their salt) is way, way more than a coach.

I can tell you, unequivocally, that when you sweat and bleed for a coach for three and a half years, you are in it together — to the end. That's just the way it is. That man or woman becomes more than a coach. That person becomes like another parent.

And no amount of wizened verbiage, crocodile tears and rationalization will change the fact that the Texas Tech players will feel that they let Knight down, that they drove him from the arena. That he quit because they weren't good enough.

Is there a worse act to commit in the locker room?

Why would Knight do that to those kids? And then, as a final shiv, why in the name of John Wooden would he leave the door open to the possibility of coaching again somewhere else? I mean, it was so easy to avoid. Just finish the season like a man. Why would The General make such a weak-tit choice!?

Because, in the end, the winningest coach in College basketball history, the towering innovator, the General, the mentor who has shaped countless lives, the man, the myth, the legend ...

... is a dick.

Trip was right.

And that might be the worst part of all this.

Moral Octuple Standard

No one has done what Jim Brown has done.

Hall-of-Fame NFL legend. Civil-rights activist. Racial barrier smasher. Movie star.

The racial obstacles he had to overcome are unimaginable for athletes today. His life 's accomplishments are a wellspring of inspiration.

The guy has gone into the scariest neighborhoods in America and rescued African-American kids from gangs.

There is greatness about him.

I even cried when he died in The Dirty Dozen.

But it's time for him to shut up.

At least when it comes to dictating the moral duties of star athletes.

Specifically, Tiger Woods.

Here's the thing, Mr. Brown —

Tiger Woods is not you.

He's not as angry as you are.

He's not as prone to violence as you are.

He's never had trouble acknowledging his offspring.

As far as we know, Tiger has never threatened to snap his wife's neck.

We're pretty sure Tiger hasn't smashed the windshield of his wife's car — with her in it.

We're almost positive that Tiger didn't jump into the spotlight as Maurice Clarett's advisor and then disappear once the kid really could've used some help.

Of course Tiger Woods isn't perfect. Just like you, Jim, are not perfect.

Tiger seems to be a world-class grudge-holder (Is he part Irish!?!?), a bit of a control nut and he is way too successful for anyone to truly like. But all he has done is revolutionize his sport and handle the daily crushing pressure and expectations with (mostly) grace and a prickly sense of humor.

So Kelly Tighlman — someone none of us had ever known existed prior to this — said something idiotic, insensitive and reprehensible: that young players on the PGA Tour would "have to lynch him (Tiger Woods) in a back alley" to keep him from winning.

She's a moron. We all understand that. Most of all, Tiger Woods.

Tiger Woods said that it was not the brightest thing Tighlman ever said but he considered it a "non-issue", that he and Tighlman are friends and that was that.

That pissed Jim Brown off.

Evidently, Tiger is not allowed to be mildly offended.

Evidently because Tiger isn't an opportunistic, hypocritical Jacksonian, Sharptonian flame-fanner, Jim Brown is heartily offended.

Well, I'm wildly offended that Jim Brown is heartily offended that Tiger Woods isn't more offended.

See, nobody's perfect.

The Midas Touch ...

... is exactly what Tony Resch possesses.

So it is high time that the global BrothersMcC readership gets a load of one of the true good guys.

Tony Resch (AKA H-Squared for reasons that are none of your business) will be inducted into the National Lacrosse League Hall of Fame in February.

Why, you ask?

Oh, just your run-of-the-mill phenomenal success and leadership achieved with uninterrupted humility and a wickedly sly sense of humor.

Formerly known as the Major Indoor Lacrosse League (MILL), the NLL has been in existence since 1986. Tony Resch played for the Philadelphia Wings from 1988 to 1993. A ferocious defender, he was the team captain for three of those years. The Wings won back-to-back championships in 1989 and 1990 and Tony was an All-Star in 1991.

In 1994 he became the Wings head coach. In 8 seasons, Tony won four championships and took the Wings to the title game five times.

That is quite a run. And done with dignity all the way.

Anyone who has sat at a Little League or a high school basketball game with assorted coaches and parents popping aortas and throwing Knight-ish temper tantrums knows the truth:

It's rare that a genuinely nice guy kicks the crap out of the competition year in and year out.

And it didn't start with the NLL.

Oh no, sir.

Tony graduated from Yale where he was a two-time All-American and a three-time All-Ivy Leaguer. And he played football as well. Plus he met his future wife there — the lovely, intelligent hoop-playing Irish girl Mary Gorman.

Talk about outkicking your coverage. Believe me when I tell ya, Tony went Ray Guy on that one.

His athletic exploits become even more impressive when you consider that during his junior year — smack in the middle of lax season — he had to share a dorm for six weeks with a wayward, alcohol-and-coed-crazed, broke, journalism-school intern malcontent who had a chip on his shoulder and no sense of boundaries.

Namely, me.

In spite of that, I've been lucky enough to count Tony as a friend ever since (personally, I think it was the Honeymooners marathon that cinched it) and I can think of no better subject than the ultimate stand-up guy getting his due.

Tony is currently the athletic director at LaSalle College High School in suburban Philly. He also is an assistant coach on the school's lax team. The team's leading scorer is some kid named Patrick Resch.

As if there were any doubt.

Congrats, H-Squared.

Psyched at you.

Redemption From Beyond The Arc

Until three hours ago, I had never heard of Kyle McAlarney. Now I might be his #1 fan.
And this is why college hoops is magic — even in the first week of January.

McAlarney is a 6-1 guard for Notre Dame who got booted from school last year after a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge. At the time of the arrest he was the Fighting Irish's starting point guard.

McAlarney went back to Staten Island (where he holds the all-time high school scoring record) and took classes, worked out and paid the price for his mistake.

(While I have a working knowledge of many illicit substances from my college days, weed was not high on the list. However, my junior year I did smoke dope once before a practice with two of my more regularly stoned teammates. I shot the ball so well that our coach jokingly asked if I was on anything. I said yes and we all had a big laugh.
Not really — I was so freaked out and paranoid I nearly threw up.)

McAlarney and Notre Dame took on UConn tonight in South Bend. It was a raucous, fierce, physical and frantic affair and McAlarney was the best player on the court. He went for 32 points, hit every big shot for the Irish and even stuck his nose in on defense.

It would not be a stretch to say that McAlarney was the least gifted athlete on the floor (a position with which I have deep, intimate experience.) UConn's roster is filled with tough, rangy, quick, wildly athletic youngsters and McAlarney put on a clinic.

He rained three's and resurrected the seemingly lost art of the jump stop for feathery mid-range jumpers instead of plowing into people willy-nilly, pell-mell, helter-skelter. And when the Irish squandered all of their 21-point lead to fall behind, McAlarney rescued them with a clutch three. Notre Dame won 73-67.

He played the way most of us play the game — or played. Which is to say — below the rim. It was the game you always dream of playing — national television, flawless at both ends, putting your taller, more chiseled, faster teammates on your back and carrying them to victory in front of a gonzo crowd that includes your gear-wearing mom.

A year ago, he was disgraced. Tonight he was the best player in the country.

Hoop dreams, indeed.


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


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

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

And we'll call it Darfur."

— from Sand and Sorrow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And there you have it.

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

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

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

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

We just might get it right.