The Week in Silver: Barack on the Parkway Edition

On Tuesday I went to go see the president of the United States speak, at a rally for Hillary Clinton at Eakins Oval near the Art Museum. It was actually my first time seeing Obama speak in person since he did a rally, also in Philly, back during the 2008 primaries.

It was a usual Obama speech- he had the crowd rapt at attention and eating out of his hand the entire time, chanting various things and cheering the entire 40 minutes he was on stage. The speech made news when Obama said some pointed things about Donald Trump, and also when he praised Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz and said that Vice President/Eagles fan Joe Biden had tried to persuade him to “get on the Wentz Wagon.”

It just sort of reenforces what I’ve long felt about the president: He IS the Democrats’ Ronald Reagan. In the sense that, for probably the next 25 years he’ll be the measuring stick by which all other Democratic presidential candidates are measured, and chances are most if not all of the others will come up short. And it’s for many of the same reasons Reagan is beloved by Republicans: His presidency has been successful. He’s a great speaker and orator. He assembled a very specific winning coalition that had been elusive for his party for a long time before he came along. And both his failures and deviations from political orthodoxy have a good chance of being de-emphasized with the passage of time.

This isn’t to say that Hillary Clinton won’t win the election- I assume she will (I HOPE she will!) But Obama is a once-in-a-generation political talent, the likes of whom won’t be seen anytime again soon.

On to the links…

My big story this week is for Tablet magazine’s The Scroll, in honor of the 25th anniversary of my family’s TV show Brooklyn Bridge. I spoke to the legendary Marion Ross, and dug out the letters between my father and the show’s creator, the late Gary David Goldberg. I have no defense or explanation for why I’m wearing a teal Florida Marlins hat in the picture from ’93.

My only complaint about the Obama speech? They didn’t have him ascend the Art Museum steps like Rocky and speak from the top. Sure, the museum made a nice backdrop, but come on! Speaking of Rocky, they’re showing it in Philly (well, Bryn Mawr) on September 21, and I previewed it at Farmdog.

I reviewed Sully at Splice Today.

At Mapquest’s Parachute, a list of Philly’s best venues for local music- aka “Places I’m Too Old to Ever Go to Anymore.”

At Blasting News:

Why “Basket of Deplorables” is actually brilliant politics.

Seven answers to seven questions about Hillary Clinton’s health.

What was off about Ann Coulter’s Comedy Central roast appearance.

And at Screenrant:

I eulogized the late Alexis Arquette. Did you know Arquette played the guy in the bathroom with the gun in Pulp Fiction? I didn’t until this week.

Previewing season 2 of the great Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

Can’t wait for this one- Breaking Bad’s Vince Gilligan and Michelle MacLaren are working on an HBO miniseries about Jonestown.

Looking at Star Trek’s official 50th-anniversary video.

Tenacious D writes a tribute song for Jon Snow.

For old time’s sake I wrote up the latest iPhone announcement.

Could the Walking Dead premiere have more than one death?

And it’s the trailer for Collateral Beauty, which could be the laughingstock film of fall.

As always, follow me on Twitter at @StephenSilver

The Week in Silver: The East Coast Guy Thing Edition

poopemojiI started college 20 years ago this month, which also means that I’ve now been living on the East Coast for two decades (four years in Boston, five in New York/New Jersey and 11 in Philadelphia), and two years longer than I lived in Minnesota.

There are many things different from where I came from and where I ended up, from sports fan behavior to racial/ethnic makeup to cuisine; I’ve written often about these differences over the years. Except for the cold winters- that’s pretty much the same everywhere I’ve lived.

But as the years have passed, there’s one thing I’ve noticed most of all: The way male friendships work. I call it “The East Coast Guy Thing”– the way that groups of male friends in the Eastern U.S. relate to each other- namely, with virtually non-stop insults, teasing and “breaking balls.” Sure, that exists to some degree in other places, but in the Eastern U.S. it’s a whole other animal.

I first noticed this in college, on my freshman hall, and it was jarring, even more than seeing guys from New York who folded their pizza. I continue to see it, even in adulthood, both in workplace and social situations- and even (especially) my annual fantasy football draft, which is typically a six-hour surfeit of insults, trash talk and buffalo wings. You see the “East Coast Guy Thing” all over popular culture, from the The Sopranos to Entourage, where it was a much a part of the show’s identity as fake boobs and bad storytelling.

You grow up a guy on the East Coast, you learn at an early age how to perform, how to think on your feet, how to be ready to answer barbs with even sharper barbs of your own. There’s a reason just about every famous male comedian is from Boston, New York or Philly.

My boys, unlike me, are coming up in that milieu, and while I plan to raise them in many ways in accordance with their half-Minnesotan heritage, I’m glad they’ll have more of a head start when it comes to their native social banter.

On to the links…

At Splice Today I reviewed The Light Between Oceans:

At Farm Dog Productions I looked ahead at the upcoming Ron Howard-directed Beatles documentary. 

At Blasting News:

And at Screenrant:

As always, follow me on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

The Week in Silver: Purple Pride Edition

3gensAs everyone who knows me knows, we’re a split family sports-wise. I’m from Minnesota, my wife is from Philadelphia. We live in Philadelphia, so it’s mostly all about the Philly teams in our house, and our two sons follow the local teams (Phillies and Eagles, mostly) most closely. But I try to instill some Minnesota love too, especially when we go there.

That’s mostly been the Twins- I’d been to Target Field every year since it opened in 2010, until this year, which I’d say is the right year to skip. But I haven’t historically pushed the Vikings quite as hard, for a variety of reasons, many of them having to do with their best player turning out to have physically abused his child who was the same age as Noah when it happened and Jonah now, and the team backing him every step of the way, including giving him additional money and years.

Still, I always appreciated that the Vikings, led by Brett Favre, had won a blowout playoff victory against the Cowboys on January 17, 2010, two days after Noah’s 11-week-premature birth, even if they’ve yet to win another playoff game since. And with our August visit this year for my mother’s 65th birthday (happy birthday, mom!) coinciding with the preseason, we thought we’d check out the brand new U.S. Bank Stadium- especially after two years of the kids wanting to drive by the construction site every time we were in town.

We had a great time at the game, we saw a win, and the boys cheered while wearing their Teddy Bridgewater and Harrison Smith jerseys, which stood out among a wildly eclectic blend of jerseys at the game (a ton of Jared Allen, a surprising amount of Tommy Kramer, some big mistakes like Christian Ponder and Donovan McNabb (the shirt I was wearing), and even (ugh) lots of Adrian Peterson. I didn’t see, thankfully, any Darren Sharper. It was a great time, and I thought maybe I’ve finally instilled some Purple Pride in my boys after all.

And then today, as our plane was landing… we got the news that Teddy Bridgewater obliterated his knee in practice and is out for the season. So now my boys REALLY know what it’s like to root for the Vikings.

Here’s a tweetstorm with my U.S. Bank Stadium thoughts:

And the links this week:

– At Splice Today, I reviewed Southside With You

– At Broad Street Review, I reviewed Amy Schumer’s new book, The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo. I also attended her book signing, which was off the record, though I can say that the two ladies in front of me in line spent 25 minutes talking about The Night Of. episodes that I haven’t watched yet, before one shared her revolutionary plan to give up drinking wine, “except for on weekends.”

– At the Farm Dog Productions blog, I wrote about When Harry Met Sally…, which showed here in Philadelphia last week.

– At Blasting News:

Why Hillary Clinton was wrong to give that “alt-right” speech.

The weird story of that “poll,” from a Canadian energy interest, that showed Trump leading in Pennsylvania.

Why I don’t think there will be a Trump News Channel.

– At Screenrant:

Ray Romano and Chris O’Dowd will star in the Get Shorty TV series, so e.g., i.e., fuck you.

The Angry Birds Movie is getting a sequel.

You can get special 3D glasses for “Rogue One.”

A look at a video essay on why Heath Ledger’s Joker was the best Batman villain.

Jack Ryan will fight ISIS in the new Amazon series.

Tommy Lee Jones almost got The Rock’s part in Fast Five:

And a new look at the most honorable man to ever host The Apprentice, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

As always, follow me on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

The Week in Silver: “Going Into Boston” Edition

2dogsThe family and I took a trip up to Boston over the weekend and had a great time visiting friends and family. But on second thought, since we didn’t actually set foot in the city of Boston itself, did we really go to Boston at all?

We spent most of this particular trip in Lexington, Newton and various other Western suburbs, not making to any particular attraction in the city of Boston on this particular trip. Yet, we referred to the trip, for the weeks leading up to it, as “the Boston trip,” and even called people while up there and said “we’re in Boston.”

This used to happen in high school and college; on several occasions I would go visit camp friends in “Chicago,” but actually spend the entire trip in Buffalo Grove, Skokie and Evanston, without ever actually setting foot in the Windy City itself.

I’m sure nobody minds, and I don’t regret anything about any of those visits. But next time we’re up in “Boston”? We’ll make sure we make it to Fenway, the Aquarium and/or Newbury Street.

On to the links:

Big one this week, as my very first piece for Tablet magazine was published. It’s an article 30 years in the making, about the history of the Jewish summer camp sport known as ga-ga. I had a blast interviewing everyone from old camp friends to random people in camp Facebook groups- and am happy to have definitively debunked the whole “Sacha Baron Cohen was a teenaged ga-ga champion” urban legend.

Another one I’m proud of: An essay for CSNPhilly on why there was nothing at all wrong with Phillies fans cheering for Chase Utely.

At Splice Today, I reviewed the two best movies of August: Hell or High Water and War Dogs 

Another new outlet: I’m going to be doing weekly local-in-Philly pop culture pieces for Farm Dog Productions. Here’s the first, previewing last week’s showing of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

For Blasting News:

Why Trump and Breitbart deserve each other

No, Hillary Clinton’s rally crowds aren’t small

Why Rudy Giuliani didn’t “forget” 9/11, what he actually said was much worse

Why I don’t buy that there will ever be a Trump News Channel

And at Screenrant:

– Amy Schumer implied that her Comedy Central show is ending, but clarified the next day that it’s merely going on hiatus.

– Trailer for the new season of You’re the Worst:

– Ah-nuld is the new host of Celebrity Apprentice, and I’ve got a feeling I’ll like him more than the previous guy, whatshisname.

– On the dispute between a group of animators who worked on Sausage Party and the filmmakers, and an update the following day.

– Jim from The Office is the new Jack Ryan.

– Jon Snow speaks (and speaks again)

Game of Thrones Season 7 casting call.

Follow me on Twitter at @StephenSilver, and see all writing archives at the top of this page. ‘Til next time…

The Week in Silver: Fall is Better Than Summer Edition

My son hones his golf game

My son hones his golf game

Here’s an unpopular opinion: Fall is a better season than summer.

Sure, summer is the time of sunshine, of water parks and well-weathered vacations. But what about the fair-skinned among us? I sunburn easily. My time on the beach usually needs to be limited to about two hours. And the sun makes me tired.

The fall, though? It has so many advantages. One can go outside without an overcoat, but also without burns or coma-inducing heat. Football’s underway. Baseball’s into the pennant race/playoff phase. The movies are better than they are in the summer. And when it’s election year, fall means we’re just a little closer to it mercifully being over.

Sure, there are things about summer that I like. Seeing the joy on my kids’ faces at camp, on the beach and on Boardwalk rides is one of my favorite things. There’s nothing like food at the Jersey Shore.

Aside from that? I’m ready for fall, how about you?

On to this week’s links:

At Splice Today, I first reviewed the comedy documentary Can We Take a Joke- which yielded a very nice email from one of its subjects, Jim Norton- and also Sausage Party.

At Blasting News:

– The disgusting tabloid attack on Malia Obama

– The stupidest defenses of Trump’s “Second Amendment People” comment

– Why Putin’s fans on the left and right are all being played for fools:

And at Mapquest’s Parachute, I looked at the best places to watch college football in Philadelphia.

At Screenrant:

A Redditor threatens to sue over Suicide Squad

A list of the ten best non-baseball uses of baseball bats in TV and movies.

Margot Robbie and mimosas

A look at Jack Reacher, Round 2:

Hodor’s death scene in other languages

The end of free Hulu

The casting of Ocean’s 8

Much more to come this week, including my debuts with two new outlets. As always follow me on Twitter at @StephenSilver.


The Week in Silver: The Only Living Boys in New York Edition

timessquareLast weekend we headed up to New York City, taking our two sons into the city for a day for the first time for both of them (they’re 4 and 6.) It went pretty well, all things considered: Times Square, Ray’s Pizza, the M&M Store, Statue of Liberty, and Central Park, they enjoyed it all. Tourist stuff all, yes, but they’re little kids- I wasn’t going to take them to a punk show on the Bowery or anything like that.

Aside from a layover or two, I didn’t set foot in New York City until I was 18 years old and already in college. But I quickly fell for the place and moved there after graduation. I lived in New York from 2000 to 2005, arriving at age 22 and leaving at 27, and one thing that’s always fascinated me about the experience is that I never had any conception of either being a kid in New York, or having one. Being a kid who takes the subway to school, or walks by newsstands daily with nudie mags? I couldn’t even imagine it.

Then there’s the idea of parenting in New York City. Remember the Louie episode where his daughter suddenly gets off at the subway stop and he’s still on the train? That was my nightmare scenario for just about every minute we were on the subway- no, it didn’t actually happen, but… how many times a day, in New York City, does that happen? And how do you reunite with your kid?


I left NYC in 2005 when I happened to meet my future wife who lived in Philadelphia, although really I’d decided about a year earlier that it was time to bring that part of my life to a close. Why? I missed having a car and driving to work. I wanted to live somewhere that was a city and not a world capital. And I wanted to live somewhere besides tiny apartments, and figured that wasn’t happening anytime soon if I stayed in the Big Apple.

Do I regret leaving? Not for one day- things have turned out pretty well for me in Pennsylvania. But I appreciate that I live so close to New York, have occasional business-related reasons to return often, and can wander around, visit my old haunts (the ones that are still there, anyway) and have some idea of what I’m doing and where I’m going.

I’m also looking forward to sharing certain NYC adventures with my boys as they get older- especially of the baseball, theatrical and culinary varieties. But even so, I’m going to hold them extra-close on the subway, because that Louie scenario still scares the shit out of me.

On to this week’s writings:

At Splice Today, I reviewed Suicide Squad (with a brief aside on Don’t Think Twice.)

At Screenrant, I look at that very movie’s box office performance, what ever became of The Joker, and that insane petition to shut down Rotten Tomatoes. I also looked at Nine Lives’ silly, cat-pun-filled commercial, Michael Jordan’s pick to replace himself in Space Jam 2, the Game of Thrones election that lets GoT copy politics for once instead of the other way around, a first look at Amazon’s The Tick, and finally, a eulogy of The Big Lebowski himself, David Huddleston. Did you know he was Grandpa Arnold on The Wonder Years?

At Blasting News, I look at the disgusting smear campaign aimed at Khizr Khan by Trump surrogates, why I feel sorry (not really) for Trump’s campaign staffers and why, despite nonsense about Trump having Twitter followers, Hillary Clinton is very clearly winning.

And at Parachute, a road trip through the Phillies’ minor league affiliates.

Three big things are coming up this week, so stay tuned for those at my Twitter feed, @StephenSilver.

Clapping for two presidents

The Week in Silver: Turning 38 at the DNC Edition

I celebrated my 38th birthday this week, and marked the occasion by hanging around the Democratic National Convention for much of the week.

I was sadly denied a credential for the convention itself, but was able to spend two days in the city both covering the protests and ancillary events around the convention. And… I loved it. I hadn’t done political reporting in awhile and remembered that I really enjoy it.

Highlights of the week: I met, and was “interviewed” by- Triumph the Insult Comic Dog and his puppeteer, Robert Smigel. I saw all manner of protests on behalf of various causes- with Bernie Sanders and marijuana by far the two most popular. And on Tuesday, I ended up about five feet away from Bernie Sanders himself, who happened to be walking down Arch Street with a small entourage. At that point that small cell of Christian fanatics I had seen the day before seized on him, with one even yelling at him to renounce Judaism.

And then, Friday, I attended a rally for Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine at Temple University. This was a much different vibe from the Bill Clinton rally I covered back in the spring, in which the former president and a heckler yelled at each other; the whole room was with her, with the except of one heckler who called Hillary a murderer. Afterward I got to meet Kaine briefly.

Anyway, on to this week’s links:

– At Broad Street Review, I reviewed the “Politicalfest” exhibit around the convention.

– At Splice Today, I wrote about the protests on the first day.

Then, I reviewed “Jason Bourne” and “Bad Moms”

– At Blasting News, I went in on out-of-town reporters complaining about Philly.

I also took a look at a politician who doesn’t often get his due, Howard Dean:

And why the DNC’s Bradley Cooper controversy was stupid.

– And at Screenrant:

An update on Creed 2.

– A new edit of Arrested Development’s Netflix season.

– The death of Project Greenlight.

– The biggest buzz about of Comic-Con.

– The Bourne trilogy in 90 seconds.

– How the Millennium Falcon almost killed Harrison Ford.

As always, follow me on Twitter, and check out my Facebook page for my videos from the DNC.