Stephen W. Browne Rants and Raves

October 28, 2011

Movie review: Real Steel

Filed under: Movies — Stephen W. Browne @ 8:24 am

Note: My personal blog is on indefinite hiatus, however I am cross-posting from my newspaper blog at The Marshall Independent and the print-only TV Guide.

Real Steel has an extremely unoriginal plot line. And you know what, who cares? I liked it.

Real Steel is loosely based on a 1956 short story by Richard Matheson which was first made into a Twilight Zone episode in 1964. “Loosely based” means it has about the same relationship to the short story/TZ episode as it does to the Rock’em Sock’em Robots toy, which also premiered in 1964. They’re all about robot boxers.

The movie was begat by way of The Champ, first made with Wallace Beery and Jackie Cooper in 1931, then remade with Jon Voigt and Ricky Schroder in 1979. However Real Steel delivers a happy ending begat by Rocky. Which is a relief since the ‘79 version of “The Champ” has been called “the saddest movie in the world” and is used in psychology experiments to make people cry.

Like “Steel” the movie is about a former boxer, now owner/manager of a fighting robot. Like “The Champ” he is an irresponsible lush, a gambler, and has a son.

That’s the point of departure. “The Champ” was raising a son who had never known his mother. “Real Steel’s” Charlie Kenton, played by Hugh Jackman, never knew he had a son by an old girlfriend until the message to attend a custody hearing lands on him.

“The Champ’s” son adored his irresponsible gambling lush of a dad. Charlie’s son Max, played by aspiring scene-stealer Dakota Goyo, thinks dad is a jerk. Max also thinks he’s smarter than Charlie and proves it more than once.

To further miscegenate the plot, Goyo played in the 2007 movie “Resurrecting the Champ” about a homeless man who was a former heavyweight contender. He wasn’t a robot though.

“The Champ” fought for money so he could keep his son, rather than give him to his birth mother and her rich husband.

Charlie is about to blithely sign custody of his son over to the boy’s aunt and her rich husband, when he figures out he can extort money from rich husband by offering to surrender custody only after they’ve had a European vacation.

“The Champ” redeemed himself through his love for his son. Charlie eventually straightens his act out by listening to good advice, from Max and his sometime partner and sometime girlfriend Bailey, played by Evangeline Lilly.

Lilly splendidly pulls off playing the tough chick who is nonetheless very attractive, perhaps due to being radiantly pregnant during filming.

Charlie’s luck begins to change when after loosing his last fighting robot and welshing on his bets, he takes Max on a midnight raid of a robot junkyard looking for spare parts. There Max discovers an obsolete early-model sparring robot called “Atom” which he believes, in a rare moment his common sense slips, can be rebuilt into a contender.

Here’s where the movie could have gone disastrously wrong, but didn’t. They don’t anthropomorphize the robot, and its adorability quotient is kept to a minimum, thank Heaven!

The success of the Little Robot that Could is due to Bailey’s mechanical expertise, Max’s knowledge of the fight game, and Charlie’s ability to program his own boxing skill into the robot.

Of course there is a match with the title holder. Of course Charlie bonds with Max. Of course Atom, like Rocky, loses on a split decision. And of course there will be a rematch.
Take your kids to see this one, it’s as good an excuse as any to see it yourself, and watch for “Real Steel 2” in 2014.

October 27, 2011


Filed under: Uncategorized — Stephen W. Browne @ 9:26 am

Note: My personal blog is on indefinite hiatus, however I am cross-posting from my newspaper blog at The Marshall Independent.

In Turkey people are struggling in the aftermath of Sunday’s earthquake that measured 7.2 on the Richter scale. So far 523 are reported dead, with 185 rescued alive from the rubble of collapsed buildings, totals that will undoubtedly rise as more bodies are recovered. Hopefully at least some of the trapped victims are still alive.

The suffering is increased by the cold weather as thousands were rendered homeless by the destruction.

It could have been worse.

When I heard the news I remembered an article in the summer issue of City Journal by Claire Berlinski, an American journalist who lives in Turkey. The title of the article is, “One Million Dead in 30 Seconds.”

Berlinski points out that well, earthquakes happen. We know pretty much where they are most likely to happen too. And we know they’ll happen again, in California, Japan, Turkey, western South America, etc.

But the consequences of the earthquakes are different. The January 2010, earthquake in Haiti killed a quarter of a million people and destroyed nearly 100,000 buildings.

However, a month later the city of Concepcion, Chile experienced an earthquake 100 times bigger, measuring 8.8 on the Richter scale. A quake so powerful it actually shortened the length of the day by 1.26 microseconds, moved the earth on its axis 8 centimeters, and moved the city itself three yards west.

The death toll was a mere 521 and the city was still standing after it was over.

Note that in the recent earthquake in Japan, the death toll was extremely low compared to the Haitian earthquake, and most of the damage to buildings was done by the tsunami. One could point out the different consequences of the earthquakes that are almost routine in California as well.

The lesson is, earthquakes generally don’t kill people directly, people are killed when the buildings they are in collapse on them. The difference in the death tolls and damage between Chile, Japan, and California versus Turkey and Haiti is, we know how to make buildings that don’t fall down when the ground shakes.

Berlinski said the difference lies in a number of things: building codes and their enforcement, tort law defining liability of building owners, the degree of corruption in the local construction industry, and simple dissemination of information. Things like posted notices on what to do in an earthquake. Just letting people know not to light a cigarette where gas lines are likely to be ruptured would save a lot of grief.

We’re used to thinking of earthquakes as something we really can’t do anything about, but as Berlinski makes clear, there is a lot we can do.

October 26, 2011

Don’t handle the artifacts in this warehouse!

Filed under: Movies,Uncategorized — Stephen W. Browne @ 10:51 am

Note: My personal blog is on indefinite hiatus, however I am cross-posting articles from my newspaper blot at The Marshall Independent and reviews I do for the print-only TV Guide.

The ScyFy series Warehouse 13 has just ended its third successful season with a cliffhanger.

Stay tuned for season 4 which premiers in 2012. Arrrrrrrrrrrrrgh!

For those of you who don’t know the Secret History of the U.S. and the world in general, Warehouse 13 is a secret installation in South Dakota where the government stores supernatural artifacts which are too dangerous to leave lying around. Warehouse 1 was Alexander the Great’s, Warehouse 2 was the Great Library of Alexandria, Warehouse 12 was in Great Britain at the height of the empire… you get the picture. The Warehouse is always located in the dominant world power, and it is always eventually destroyed in a disaster as Warehouse 13 appears to have been in the cliffhanger ending.

The trope of the secret government warehouse is not new, but it’s done brilliantly here. (Remember where the Ark of the Covenant wound up in “Indiana Jones”?) Also brilliant is an ensemble cast of warehouse agents, a pretty boardinghouse landlady who is more than she seems, the powerful and mysterious Mrs. Frederic who is older than she appears, and in the background the Council of Regents.

Field agents Pete and Myka were recruited from the Secret Service after saving the life of the president. Here they use the trope of the guy who’s intuitive and kind of flighty, and the lady agent who’s tough as nails by-the-book, but soft and emotional at the core. Not to mention drop dead gorgeous. It’s been done many times, badly. But it works here.

Backing them up in the warehouse is Artie, who knows everything there is to know about artifacts, objects which are imbued with magical qualities, sometimes harmless, more often dangerous, and occasionally actively malign.

Aiding Artie is new agent Allison, a sassy, irreverent post-teen who’s a genius computer hacker.

Together they hunt down artifacts and store them in the warehouse.

Opposing them are a cast of villains, including some ex-warehouse agents who want certain artifacts for their own nefarious purposes. Behind the light-hearted entertainment is a sometimes serious meditation on the fact that power corrupts, and the watchmen must themselves be watched carefully.

And what are artifacts?

Artifacts are objects imbued with certain powers, and sometimes personalities. Run Marilyn Monroe’s hairbrush through your hair and it turns platinum blonde. Harmless enough. But look into Lizzie Borden’s compact mirror and you could become possessed of an overwhelming desire to murder the ones you love.

The series was put together from a bunch of ideas we’ve all seen before, but never seem to get tired of: the secret history, the government warehouse of legendary artifacts, the ancient conspiracies for good – and evil.

What it gives us for an hour each week is the delicious thrill of being in on a secret few other know, of knowing there are good guys behind the scenes keeping us safe from unimaginable danger, and of course the tension of wanting to shout at the screen, “Pete, just kiss her!”

Will Pete finally kiss Myka? Is the warehouse finally destroyed for good? Will the series return as Warehouse 14?

We’ll have to wait until 2012 to find out. Arrrrrrrgh!

October 24, 2011

Review: Penn & Teller tell a lie

Filed under: Movies,On Thinking — Stephen W. Browne @ 8:50 am

Note; My personal blog is on indefinite hiatus, but I am cross-posting entries in my newspaper blog at The Marshall Independent, or in this case in the print edition of the TV guide.

Last week I caught the premier episode of “Penn & Teller Tell a Lie” on the Discovery Channel.

I’ll be catching a whole lot more of them I think.

The show features the comic illusionist team of Penn Jillette and Raymond Teller, who by the way first partnered up at the 1975 Minnesota Renaissance Festival.

Penn and Teller present a number of claims of the odd-but-true kind. Except that one isn’t. They invite you to vote on which one you think is the fraud.
The first episode featured claims that:

1) You can steer a light plane with a disabled rudder by opening and closing the plane’s doors.
2) Research shows swearing helps relieve pain.
3) A wall made of Aerogel, a substance that is mostly air, can insulate against a flame thrower.
4) A rope made from a head of hair can lift a Mustang convertable.
5) Alligators get sexually excited when they hear the note B flat.
6) You can drive off an attacking tiger by punching down its throat.
7) A petite woman can prevent a body builder from picking her up just by changing her stance.

For me number one just makes sense, a door can act as a control surface by deflecting the air stream. Two I believe because it works for me. Three I thought was probable because I’ve seen demonstrations of similar insulating materials. Four I was pretty sure of because I’m a history geek and know that human hair has been used for rope when extreme strength was required for things like torsion catapults.

However five sounded fishy to me. But I wasn’t sure about six either.

Seven I knew was true because I know that trick, and several others of the same kind. There’s no mumbo-jumbo secret power involved at all, it’s all about leverage.
So which was it, five or six?

Well right off I noticed the video of a tiger attacking a zookeeper was allegedly captured by security cameras – except it had TV quality color and image, and close-ups that caught the alleged incident just right. And that tiger sure seemed to have an easy time just batting the lock to the door of his cage off, which again was captured by a perfect video close-up. how likely it that?

“Ah ha!” thought I, and was justly proud when proved correct.

(Oh, except that I hadn’t noticed that Penn & Teller had included views of a stone lion in front of a library building in a quarter of the “security camera” video.)
And isn’t that weird about alligators? Turns out it’s true, and has been known for almost a hundred years, but nobody is really sure why.

This show is enjoyable on a number of levels. Penn’s patter, allied with Teller’s mime, is pretty entertaining to begin with. The fun facts are well, fun. Amuse and entertain your friends at parties will all the weird things you know!

And most importantly, it helps people learn to think skeptically, especially about things which can be faked by camera trickery and sincere-sounding acting.

And in this day and age, that’s not a trivial contribution to society.

October 11, 2011

Skydivers and other crazy people like me

Filed under: Adventure,News commentary — Stephen W. Browne @ 1:31 pm

Note: My personal blog is on indefinite hiatus, but I am cross-posting from my newspaper blog at the Marshall Independent.

Q: What’s the difference between a golfer and a skydiver?

A: A golfer goes, “Whack, DAMN!” A skydiver goes, “Damn, WHACK!”

I’ve just read about the tragic death of a skydiving instructor and student in a tandem jump in Nevada. Evidently the main chute failed to deploy, and the reserve chute tangled. It makes you wonder why people do things like that.

Interestingly the student was a 71-year-old woman, the instructor a man in his 60s with nearly 11,000 jumps.

That’s the nature of skydiving, kind of like Russian Roulette. That is, you can win and win, but if you keep it up…

The comparison I sometimes make is with SCUBA diving. When I was in high school I lived on the Atlantic coast and used to SCUBA dive. Like skydiving it counts as an extreme sport, requiring rigorous training, great attention to detail, and some fairly expensive equipment.

But unlike skydiving, if your SCUBA gear fails you make what’s called a free ascent. In skydiving if your parachute fails you will of course make a free descent, but the outcome is different.

Nonetheless, I have actually jumped out of a perfectly good airplane in operating condition, about 30-odd years ago.

I hurt myself. I didn’t think that happened. I thought you lived or you died, nothing in between.

Back then they didn’t have the tandem jumping equipment, where the instructor and student are strapped into one harness. We trained with military paratrooper-style chutes with a static line, or “idiot cord” attached to the plane that pulled open the parachute as we jumped – so technically it wasn’t “skydiving” but just a parachute jump.

Since I was last in the plane, I was first out the door and couldn’t chicken out without aborting the whole flight. The drill was, you climbed out and put one foot on the wheel of the plane, holding on to the wing strut with two hands. Then you push off.

I flinched.

Because I hesitated as I pushed off, I tumbled as I fell and felt the shrouds of the chute slap me across the face. Then when I felt I was hanging under the chute I looked up to see the shrouds a tangled mess.

“Time to pull the quick releases and go to the reserve chute,” was what I thought, though to be sure not quite that coherently. I think this was probably the most terrifying two seconds of my life.

As I grabbed the quick releases I regained enough composure to look up at the shrouds.

“Hmm,” I thought. “I’m going down at a reasonable rate of descent, I just can’t steer.”

So I reached up with both hands and parted the shrouds. I spun around as the shrouds untangled and I was fine. Just what seemed to be a slow descent, until the last ten feet or so in which the ground starts rushing at you like a freight train and you have to make yourself look at the horizon, not the ground, so you’ll be prepared to collapse and roll with the shock (which I didn’t.)

Even then the real skydivers had fancy chutes with something like brakes that enabled them to land nonchalantly upright without having to do that bone-shaking roll.

Instead of rolling, I sat down hard on my heels and felt my knees go POP! After that my knees weren’t in good enough shape to do it again soon, and I figured, “OK, now I can say I’ve done that.”

Since then I have gone parasailing behind a boat on a vacation in Tunisia, been a passenger in a plane doing acrobatic flying, but I haven’t hit the silk since.

However lately I’ve been having dreams about jumping again. I’ve been thinking about hang gliding, or ultralights.

Why do people do things like this? Durned if I know, but maybe I’ll be one of them again some day.

October 9, 2011

Saw “Conan” a few weeks ago

Filed under: Movies — Stephen W. Browne @ 10:34 am

Note: My personal blog is on indefinite hiatus, but I am cross-posting from my newspaper blog at the Marshall Independent.

I took my kids to see “Conan the Barbarian” a few weeks ago. Well actually I took my son, I paid them to let my daughter curl up on my lap and sleep through it. Works for us.

Aw heck, I wanted to like it. Jason Momoa looked credible as Conan the Cimmerian, the sets were great, the scenery beautiful. And rather than follow the 1983 version with Ahnuld the Governator they just rebooted it.

Somehow the magic just wasn’t there.

They probably can’t be blamed, the original version was followed by a sequel that didn’t recapture it either. Those of us hoping for a long series were disappointed.

Better luck next time.

I sometimes wonder what makes a great movie adaptation of a book, and why some just misfire? “The Lord of the Rings” waited a long time for Peter Jackson to come along but it was worth the wait.

But while I enjoyed the Johnny Weismuller Tarzan movies in my youth, nobody has yet done a credible job at faithfully adapting “Tarzan of the Apes” for the big screen.

And though the short novels of Robert A. Heinlein would seem good movie fodder, so far “The Puppet Masters” just didn’t work and “Starship Troopers” was made into an abomination by a director who seems to hate Heinlein and deliberately set out to misrepresent what he stood for.

Now I’m waiting for 2012 when a movie version of Tarzan’s creator Edgar Rice Burroughs’ character “John Carter of Mars” is to be released.

They’ve cast Lynn Collins who played Kayla Silverfox in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” as Dejah Thoris, which works for me. But somebody named Taylor Kitsch is going to be John Carter, and I’m sorry but I just don’t like his looks.

Capt. John Carter late of the Confederate States Cavalry is supposed to be aged but ageless. He doesn’t recall his childhood and has no idea how old he is, just that he’s very old. This guy looks like a kid.

There was also a version made with a prominent porn star playing Dejah Thoris, Princess of Helium, but the less said about that the better.

We live in hope.

October 6, 2011

Bulwer-Lytton, in honor of prolix prose

Filed under: Uncategorized — Stephen W. Browne @ 8:07 am

Note: My personal blog is on indefinite hiatus, but I am cross-posting from my newspaper blog at the Marshall Independent.

“It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents, except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.”

So opens the novel “Paul Clifford” written by Edward George Bulwer-Lytton and published in 1830.

I understand the rest of it is pretty bad too. Bulwer-Lytton rose a bit further out of literary obscurity with his novel, “The Last Days of Pompei,” Which has actually been made into a movie no less than three times, in 1913, 1935, and 1959. He is also known among historians of mysticism and utopian literature for his novel “Vril: the Power of the Coming Race,” (1871.)

He also contributed more substantially to English literature by coining the phrases “the great unwashed”, “pursuit of the almighty dollar”, and “the pen is mightier than the sword”, but alas his contribution here is largely unknown and unheralded.

But Bulwer-Lytton has been remembered and memorialized each year, in a contest started in 1982 by Professor Scott E. Rice of the English Department at San Jose State University. The contest entrants strive to “to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels.” It is not necessary to write the rest of the novel.

This year the 29th Grand Prize winner was Sue Fondrie, an associate professor of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. She evidently likes to use puns and word play in her instruction. I wonder if there ought to be an amateur/professional rule?

Her entry set a record for the shortest B-L Contest winner, coming in at only 26 words.

“Cheryl’s mind turned like the vanes of a wind-powered turbine, chopping her sparrow-like thoughts into bloody pieces that fell onto a growing pile of forgotten memories.”

The runner-up Rodney Reed submitted an entry of more typical length. “As I stood among the ransacked ruin that had been my home, surveying the aftermath of the senseless horrors and atrocities that had been perpetrated on my family and everything I hold dear, I swore to myself that no matter where I had to go, no matter what I had to do or endure, I would find the man who did this . . . and when I did, when I did, oh, there would be words.”

And since the inception of the contest specific categories have been added. Jack Barry won the Adventure category for this entry. “From the limbs of ancient live oaks moccasins hung like fat black sausages — which are sometimes called boudin noir, black pudding or blood pudding, though why anyone would refer to a sausage as pudding is hard to understand and it is even more difficult to divine why a person would knowingly eat something made from dried blood in the first place — but be that as it may, our tale is of voodoo and foul murder, not disgusting food.”

Mark Wisnevski won the Crime category with, “Wearily approaching the murder scene of Jeannie and Quentin Rose and needing to determine if this was the handiwork of the Scented Strangler–who had a twisted affinity for spraying his victims with his signature raspberry cologne–or that of a copycat, burnt-out insomniac detective Sonny Kirkland was sure of one thing: he’d have to stop and smell the Roses.”

Terri Daniel for Fantasy. “Within the smoking ruins of Keister Castle, Princess Gwendolyn stared in horror at the limp form of the loyal Centaur who died defending her very honor; “You may force me to wed,” she cried at the leering and victorious Goblin King, “but you’ll never be half the man he was.”

John Doble, Historical Fiction. “Napoleon’s ship tossed and turned as the emperor, listening while his generals squabbled as they always did, splashed the tepid waters in his bathtub.”

Though I have to say I personally prefer Andrea Rossi the runner-up in this category. “The executioner sneered as the young queen ascended the stairs to the guillotine; in the old days, he thought, at least there was some buildup, a little time on the rack or some disemboweling, but nowadays everyone wants instant gratification.”

Mike Pederson for Purple Prose. “As his small boat scudded before a brisk breeze under a sapphire sky dappled with cerulean clouds with indigo bases, through cobalt seas that deepened to navy nearer the boat and faded to azure at the horizon, Ian was at a loss as to why he felt blue.”

And there are categories for Science Fiction, Romance, Vile Puns, plus many Dishonorable Mentions in each category.

(I can’t find the original right now, but a great entrant in the Romance category went something like, “Oh yes, yes! she cried, her bosom heaving like a college freshman on dollar-a-beer night.”)

One of these days, I’m going to enter that contest, “he said as he mused on his own thwarted literary talent while he labored unsung in the gardens of journalism…” you get the drift.

October 5, 2011

Amanda Knox, who knew?

Filed under: News commentary — Stephen W. Browne @ 2:16 pm

Note: My personal blog is on indefinite hiatus, but I am cross-posting from my newspaper blog at the Marshall Independent.

Amanda Knox is free after four years in an Italian prison and back home again.

American exchange student Knox was convicted, along with her Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, and Ivory Coast native Rudy Hermann Guede, of the sexual assault and murder of her room mate Meredith Kercher, a British exchange student, in 2007. Solecito was also freed, Guede remains in prison.

She was freed after an Italian appeals court found her not guilty. And to be perfectly clear, that’s “not guilty,” not a technicality, not “insufficient evidence to convict,” but NOT GUILTY.

Who knew?

Up until a few days ago I thought she was guilty as sin. Now I read that alleged DNA evidence was tainted and improperly collected (there are videos showing this,) that alleged evidence on her computer’s hard drive was destroyed by the prosecution, that damaging and contradictory statements she made were obtained during more than 50 continuous hours of questioning without a lawyer and possibly under physical duress, that the prosecutor is currently being investigated for improper actions in other unrelated cases… the list goes on.

It is now starting to seem like a pretty straightforward rape and murder committed by Hermann Guede, with no involvement by Knox or Sollecito. That in fact, that was the only conclusion warranted by the evidence from the beginning.

So where did this story of “Foxy Knoxy” the pervert sex maniac who helped assault and murder her room mate in an orgiastic frenzy come from?

Where else? The press. Both the Italian press, and unfortunately a lot of the American press as well.

The truth was, though tragic, rather boring. Sad to say, it’s the kind of thing that happens a lot in this fallen world.

Ah, but the myth was so much more exciting!

This is the kind of story all journalists should keep in the back of their mind.

Oh, but now Amanda Knox has been given another nickname by journalists speculating about possible book and movie deals. How does “Ft. Knox” sound to you?

October 2, 2011

Andy Rooney signing off

Filed under: News commentary — Stephen W. Browne @ 12:22 pm

My personal blog is on indefinite hiatus, however I am cross-posting from my newspaper blog at the Marshall Independent.

Last Sunday Andy Rooney signed off with his 1,097th piece for “60 Minutes.”

I suppose we ought to cut him some slack, he’s 92 after all! For a sendoff he’ll be interviewed by comparative youngster Morley Safer, aged 79.

Listing all of them would make a book longer than any he’s written, but here are some of Rooney’s significant career highlights.

– Served in the U.S. Army in WWII writing for “The Stars and Stripes” army newspaper. One of six correspondents to fly with first American bombing raid over Germany. One of the first American journalists to visit Nazi concentration camps towards the end of the war.

– Joined CBS in 1949 as a writer for “Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts.”

– Joined “60 Minutes” in 1978.

– Suspended for three months in 1990 for remarks allegedly disparaging blacks and gays. Rooney denied making some of the remarks but accepted the suspension rather than resign. Since Rooney won an Emmy in 1968 for his script for the documentary “Black History: Lost, Stolen, or Strayed,” and was arrested in the 1940s for protesting segregated buses – way before it was cool, charges of bigotry ring a bit hollow. CBS magnanimously decided to forgive Rooney after “60 Minutes” lost 20 percent of its audience.

It should be noted that some of us suspect Rooney was being punished for other remarks he most definitely made. After former CBS employee Bernard Goldberg published a book alleging pervasive media bias, singling out Dan Rather in particular, Rooney told Larry King that Goldberg was “a jerk” but that Rather was “transparently liberal.”

He also freely confessed, “There is just no question that I, among others, have a liberal bias. I mean, I’m consistently liberal in my opinions.”

And, on one of his “A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney” segments he ranted about women football commentators. It was a basically good-natured tongue-in-cheek piece about how football was our guy thing, but certain feminists took exception.

However, Rooney outlasted Rather who was pushed out of the major networks in disgrace after staking his career on a story about George W. Bush based on a pretty obvious forgery.

I wonder, is Andy Rooney the last working journalist who covered World War II from the front lines? Nobody has mentioned this to my knowledge, but it seems probable.

Rooney knew that news is not just earth-shaking events, but the everyday concerns and irritations of ordinary people. With Rooney, what you see is what you get. He had his opinions, but he was up-front with them and didn’t try to pretend he was being strictly objective, unlike some less honest colleagues. We will not see his like again.

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