Benny Jay: Taking A Stand With Sony

December 21st, 2014

As a owners of our own mini-media empire we, at The Third City, want to take a stand with our media-owning brothers and sisters at Sony in their showdown with North Korea.

Problem is–we don’t know what stand to take.

So we’re kind of in a tight spot.

This is the showdown where Sony produced The Interview, a comedy in which Seth Rogen and James Franco play two dimwitted reporters recruited by the CIA to assassinate Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s evil despot.

North Korean responded by hacking into Sony’s computers and threatening to blow up theaters wherever The Interview was playing.

That prompted Sony to pull the movie, thus igniting outraged indignation throughout the country.

President Obama said Sony acted too hastily.

The Republicans tried to one up President Obama by declaring we have a patriotic duty to watch The Interview.  Just to show North Korea they can’t tell us what to do.

And, of course, journalists everywhere are taking stands. Including Chicago’s very own Richard Roeper who wrote: “This isn’t about one relatively small film. It’s all about freedom. It’s about not backing down from threats.”

So want to take a stand, too.



We’re taking a stand with Seth Rogen!


Of course, neither Roeper, President Obama, the Republicans or yours truly at TTC risk much for our stand taking.

That is–we don’t own, operate or work in any of the movie theaters North Korean’s threatened to blow up.

Proving, again, that it’s always easier to take a stand when someone else has to pay for the stand you take.

For guidance, I turned to Milo, my distinguished partner at TTC.

“We got to do something, Milo,” I said. “Richard Roeper says `this is one of the saddest days in the history of American cinema…’”

“Obviously, he hasn’t seen Fading Gigolo.”

“This is serious, Milo. What do we do?”

“Well, Benny, I always say that when you don’t know what to do, it’s better to do nothing…”


“I say we stay out of it and hope the whole thing blows over.”

As stands go, that seems even safer than the one Roeper’s taking.

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Benny Jay: Kobe Bryant’s Great Honor

December 18th, 2014

After giving it much thought, I’ve decided to bestow upon Kobe Bryant the greatest honor I can give him–a spot in the Benny Jay non-Bulls Hall of Fame.

That’s different than the Benny Jay Bulls Hall of Fame–reserved for the likes of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Norm Van Lier. Especially, Norm Van Lier. I love you, Norm!

The non-Bulls Hall of Fame consists of dreaded opponents about whom I said, when their careers were over…

Man, I wish you’d played for my Bulls!

In short–the highest of praise.

The founding members of this illustrious club are, of course, the holy trinity of ballers from my grammar school years: Bill Russell, Connie Hawkins and Wilt Chamberlain. Especially Wilt Chamberlain.

I believe there was a time when I idolized Wilt Chamberlain as much as Paul Newman. And that’s saying a lot.


Lil’ Nate Archibald could play!


That was followed by Hall of Famers from my high school days: Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Oscar Robertson, Jerry West, Willis Reed, Walt Frazier, Dave Cowens, Paul Silas and Nate Archibald. Especially, Nate Archibald. I always loved the little guards.

And onto my college years: Bill Walton, Maurice Lucas, Lionel Hollins, Wes Unseld, Elvin Hayes, Rick Barry, and Dr. J. Especially, Dr. J. I revere him so much that, to this day, I order Crown Royal–when drinking shots–cause that’s the brand the Doctor endorses.

And into the `80s, 90s and 00s with Mo Cheeks, Moses Malone, Rickey Pierce, Terry Cummings, Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, Charles Barkley, Larry Joe Bird, Magic Johnson, Reggie Miller, Shaq, Allen Iverson and Dennis Johnson. Especially, Dennis Johnson.

You know, some people say my game reminds them of Dennis Johnson’s.

Well, I may be the only one who says that, but still…

At this point, I realize some of you might be thinking–damn, man, you spend way too much time thinking about basketball.

To which I say…

You’re probably right. Now back to the list…


The great Craig Hodges!


Some guys are enshrined in both of my halls of fame, having played for and against the Bulls. I’m talking about Chet Walker, Clifford Ray, Artis Gilmore, Charles Oakley, Nate Robinson, Doug Collins (he coached the Bulls), Ben Gordon, Jannero Pargo and Craig Hodges.

Especially, Craig Hodges. I love three-point shooters!

As for Kobe, I used to hate on him with unabashed abandon. In large part because he had the audacity to act as though he were as good, if not better, than Jordan.

In truth, he deserved to act that way. Cause, in truth, he comes as close to being as good as Jordan as any player I’ve seen.

So now that Kobe passed Jordan on the all-time list of scorers, I might as well officially enshrine him into my Hall of Fame.

Congratulations, Kobe–if this was your Bar Mitzvah, I’d give you a fountain pen.

But it’s not. So what I’ll do is this…

I’ll raise glass of Crown Royal–what else–in your honor.

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Benny Jay: The Great Alan Turing

December 16th, 2014

Over the weekend, I saw The Imitation Game, a movie about Alan Turing, the brilliant British mathematician, who helped bring down the Nazi war machine by cracking their secret code.

Thanks to Turing, the Brits were able to spend the last three or so years of World War II listening in on Hitler’s private conversations with his generals.

So we, the allies, knew what they, the Nazis, were up to.

As a token of their appreciation for his immeasurable service to civilization, the Brits drove Turing to suicide by persecuting him for being a homosexual.

Think about that, people. The man saved the world only to have his nation hound him to death.

That pretty much tells you everything you need to know about the idiocy of man.

In any event, The Imitation Game is a great melodrama, which I liked way more than it probably deserve. If only cause I never tire of watching World War II movies in which the Nazis lose. Just like they did in the real war!

Something I didn’t know about Turing until I saw the flick…

He was aided by a crack team of brilliant mathematicians, who, if you believe the movie, had a singular talent for solving crossword puzzles.

This crossword puzzle connection intrigued me, as I’ve been doing crossword puzzles for roughly 30 years.

Not that I have anything to show for it. I’m the worst at solving crossword puzzles, with the possible exception of my mother and sister.


Mr. Turing…


As a further blow to my self esteem, I’m surrounded by people who’re really good at solving crossword puzzles, including my cousin Robert and my two partners in this esteemed blogging empire–Jonny Randolph and Milo.

Yes, it’s true. Despite years of hard drinking, Milo’s great at crossword puzzles. In contrast, I suck at them and I rarely touch a drop. Relatively speaking.

Oh, the injustice of life.

My sister has improved at crossword puzzles ever since she purchased an iPhone that enables her to look up the answers on the Internet.

When I tell her that’s cheating, she tells me it’s no different than when I call cousin Robert for assistance.

An interesting point that’s worthy of more debate.

To give you an idea of what it’s like to do a crossword puzzle with my sister and my mother, here’s an exchange that took place just the other day…

Sister: What’s a 10-letter word for master of the universe?

Mother: What?

Me: Do you have any clues?

Sister: I’m gonna look it up on my iPhone.

Me: That’s cheating.

Sister: Shutup!

Mother: What?

I think we’ll all agree that if Turing had to depend on me, my mom and my sister to crack the Nazi code, we’d all be speaking German today.

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Benny Jay: Ryan Gosling Update

December 14th, 2014

Finally get around to seeing The Driver — the hot, new Ryan Gosling action flick.

Actually, it’s neither hot nor new — been out for awhile. And it’s not even The Driver. It’s Drive.

I just can’t stop calling it The Driver. I’m not sure why.

Very violent movie.  Gosling plays this super tough guy who hardly says a word, probably cause he generally has a toothpick in his mouth.

You try talking with a toothpick in your mouth.

By my count, he kills five guys. Stomps one to death. Drowns another. Sticks a pipe through another guy’s chest.  Stabs a guy. And shoots two others.

Correction — that’s six dead.

Albert Brooks plays a gangster who gouges a guy’s eye out with a steak knife.

Hard to imagine Albert Brooks playing a gangster, let alone gouging a guy’s eye out with a steak knife. Guess the producers wanted a comedian to play the gangster role.

Woody Allen must have been busy.

Yo’, Ryan — what’s with the toothpick?

Here’s the thing, when we leave the movie, my wife drops the bombshell.

“Ryan Gosling,” she says, “is gay.”


“You heard me.”

“No way…”

“Yes, he is…”

“No, he isn’t…”

And so forth.

Finally, comes down to this.

“What’s your proof that he’s gay?” I ask.

“He’s sensitive…”

“What kind of logic is that?”

“He’s gay — and that’s that…”

For the record, let me say this. I don’t care that Ryan Gosling’s gay. I just don’t think he’s gay.

Of course, my track record’s sort of spotty in this department. I may have been the last one in America to catch on to Rock Hudson. And I watched McMillan and Wife for years.

“I’ll ask Sean,” says my wife.

I was the last to know about Rock Hudson….

Sean would be our friend who knows absolutely everything about absolutely every celebrity.

Thing is — Sean’s gay. So I don’t completely trust him on the whole subject of is this or that celebrity gay.

In all due respect to gays everywhere, your credibility on these matters is a little sketchy.

I remember having an intense debate with my hygienist, who’s gay.

He insisted that Sheryl Crow was a lesbian.

Conversation went a little like this….

Hygienist: Ask any lesbian….

Me: But she’s married to Lance Armstrong. (Only it comes out — “bah, she’s maweed to Wance Ahmstrong” cause he’s cleaning my teeth.)

Hygienist: That’s just for show.

Point is gays tend to claim every celebrity as one of their own, whether its true or not.

In this way they’re not unlike Jews who insist that any athlete with a vaguely Jewish sounding name is Jewish. Speaking of Bernie Kosar…

Anyway, when I get home I go to the computer and look up Ryan Gosling.

It says he used to date Sandra Bullock and then he dated Rachel McAdams. But now he’s apparently not dating anyone, though he lives with his dog named George.


Then just for kicks, I Google “Is Ryan Gosling gay?”

Wind up in a chat room called the Human Sexuality Forum, where Karen from New Jersey writes: “The hand gestures among other things make me really begin to think he’s gay in his private life….”

To which, Emily, also from New Jersey, writes: “I had the same exact feeling….”

Apparently, there wasn’t a whole lot going on in Jersey that night.

Well, you be the judge….


Benny Jay: Sony Hacked

December 11th, 2014

As the movie reviewer for The Third City, it’s my duty to update you on the ongoing scandal at Sony.

Like you’re not up to your eyebrows in this shit already.

But first a word of warning–there’s gonna lot of names.

This is the scandal in which unknown hackers broke into Sony’s computers, releasing all sorts of embarrassing information, including the private emails of some of Hollywood’s biggest players.

The hacking may or may not be an act of retribution by the North Korean government against Sony for producing The Interview, a comedy about a couple of stoners recruited by the CIA to assassinate Kim Jong-un, the North Korean dictator.

This is what I call a two-handed news item. As in…

On the one hand, cyber attacks are no joke.

On the other hand, it’s hard to be serious about anything when you’re up to your eyebrows in the shit. For instance…

Scott Rudin–the superstar producer–threw a fit because, follow me…

Angelina Jolie convinced David Fincher to drop his plans to direct Jobs, a movie Rudin wanted Fincher to direct. Instead Fincher’s directing Cleopatra, a movie Angelina Jolie wanted him to direct.

Got that?


Angelina and her husband…


Rudin got so angry he fired off an email to–look out, here comes another name–Amy Pascal, Sony’s co-chairwoman, in which he called Jolie a “a minimally talented spoiled brat.”

Which I’m sure is not what he calls Jolie when they meet at a party. Or when he meets her husband at a party.

Anyway Pascal emailed Rudin to chill out. And Rudin emailed Pascal that she had “behaved abominably.”

So Pascal emailed one of her sidekicks to “get rid of him.” Meaning, Rudin.

And Rudin said…

You know, I think we’ve spent enough time on this exchange.

In their official comments, Rudin and Pascal are very serious. As in this statement, Rudin gave to the New York Times…


Scott & Amy…


“This is not about salacious emails…it’s about a criminal act, and the people behind it should be treated as nothing more nor less than criminals.”

I’m not sure if the criminals to which he refers are the hackers or Pascal.

Hey, New York Times–hurry up and get on that!

Wait! Breaking news!

BuzzFeed just released some more salacious Rudin-Pascal emails in which they make some good old racial fun of President Obama.

Pascal: “What should I ask the president [when we meet] at this stupid breakfast?”

Rudin: “Should I ask him if he liked Django?”

Pascal: “12 YEARS…Or The Butler. Or Think Like a Man.”

Rudin: “Ride Along. I bet he likes Kevin Hart.”

Just so you know, these are all movies about black people.

So the joke is–I think you get the joke.

I guess on one level we should thank the North Koreans for revealing some of the stupid shit white people say about black people when black people aren’t around.

Just in case we forgot.

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Benny Jay: The New Republic

December 9th, 2014

Like journalists everywhere, I’ve been dutifully following the insurrection occurring at The New Republic after its purchase by Chris Hughes.

Just in case you haven’t…

Chris Hughes is the 30-year-old gazillionaire, who had the marvelous good fortune to be randomly assigned as the college roommate of Mark Zuckerberg, the genius who created Facebook.

Last I looked Zuckerberg was the 14th richest dude on the planet. Right behind Milo.

Yeah, I wish.

Apparently, Zuckerberg liked Hughes so much that he cut him in on the Facebook action. Put him in charge of marketing.

A job even I could have done.

Let me pause to imagine how great things would be for me, if someone–anyone!– in my life had some serious cash.


Mark & Chris back in their college days…


In 2008, Hughes–then all of 24 years-old–apparently sold a portion of his Facebook portfolio for at least $700 million.

Leaving him with enough money to pay whatever chump change it cost to buy The New Republic–which is also known as TNR.

At this point, I must break the narrative to explain that I used to subscribe to TNR. But I stopped sometimes in the `90s, when it drifted right and started attacking things like Affirmative Action.

Their position being that life is a meritocracy and we get what we deserve. So shut the fuck up, black people, and work harder!

Back to my narrative…

I must confess I’m a little envious of Chris Hughes. In all my years of roommates–both in and out of college–I never had one who made any kind of serious money.

In my junior year of college, I did have a roommate named Tony, who took me aside to tell me he planned to sleep with lots of women, so “be prepared to find yourself locked out of the room.”


Me & Tony back in our college days…


Good for me, Tony proved to be luckless with women. But imagine how my life would have gone had I’d been assigned to room with Bill Gates or Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg. Or any rich guy–as opposed to Tony.

In any event, Hughes decided he was losing too much money with TNR.

So he brought it an editorial hotshot named Guy Vidra, who assembled the staff and said from here on out TNR would be more like Vox.

That’s an internet publication that recently ran a feature on farts. A subject Milo and I happen to know a lot about. So it’s comforting to know that we always have a future at Vox, if this Third City thing doesn’t work out.

Anyway, several TNR contributors were so outraged by Vidra’s changes that they quit.

I guess they’ve learned a powerful lesson about the vagaries of life. Or that their lives would be better had Hughes been assigned to room with a guy like Tony, as opposed to Mark Zuckerberg.

Here’s hoping they remember it the next time they write about affirmative action.

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Benny Jay: The Rare Triple Play

December 7th, 2014

Around The Third City we have a saying — one good line’s worth an entire post.

That is — if you got one funny, witty and/or incisive line to make, it’s okay to use another 500 or so lines to set it up.

I’m almost certain I came up with that saying, though Milo swears he did.

Since it’s not that great of a line to begin with, I’ll let Milo take all the credit.

I mention this because it’s time to give The New York Times a shoutout for pulling off a rare triple play, coming up with three great lines in one story.

Congratulations, John Schwartz, who wrote the story. Get that man a Pulitzer!

Headlined, “Declared Legally Dead as He sat Before the Judge,” the story tells the improbable tale of a guy named Donald E. Miller Jr., who disappeared without a trace 19 years ago, leaving his disabled wife and their two daughters destitute.

What a guy.


Jason Lee would be perfect for the role of Mr. Miller….


After he disappeared, his wife, Robin Miller, requested that he be declared legally dead so she could apply for social security benefits.

In reality, Mr. Miller wasn’t dead. he’d simply away run away to Florida. Which is apparently where all deadbeats go. Except for Milo, who found his way to Chicago.

Last week, Mr. Miller showed up in the probate court of Judge Allan H. Davis to ask that he’d be declared undead so he could apply for a driver’s license and reactivate his social security number.

Thus leaving Judge Davis with one of those Solomonic decisions for which law school never quite prepares you.

On the one hand, Miller’s clearly not dead. On the other, if Judge Davis declares that Miller is, in fact, alive, he makes life exceedingly difficult for Mrs. Miller, who would have to repay all the social security money she received over the years.

On account of the fact that she’s not really a widow.

Oh, what’s a judge to do?


It was a job for Judge Judy!


Mercifully, Judge Davis found a solution in Ohio’s state statues.

Noting that ”Ohio law does not allow a declaration of death to be reversed after three years or more have passed,” the good judge declared: “I don’t know where that leaves you, but you’re still deceased as far as the law is concerned.”

Great line number one!

The decision led an unnamed reporter for the Courier, a local newspaper, to call Miller “the most famous dead man alive.”

Great line number two!

Perhaps my favorite character in the saga is Mr. Miller’s lawyer, Francis Marley, who’s a virtual one-man quote machine.

Marley said his client probably could not afford to appeal the decision.

Translation: I’m not doing this shit for free, even if it does get me great publicity.

When asked if he’d ever encountered a case like this, Marley said, “no, but I’ve only been practicing for 43 years.”

There you have it, folks — the triple play!

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