Just as I sat down to write this column, word came that Burt Reynolds had died. He wasn’t my favorite movie actor; that would be Gene Hackman.
But he made some good movies (Deliverance and Boogie Nights) and one really special one (The Longest Yard). And yes, I know that he was in the second Longest Yard movie, that festering pustule of a criminal remake committed by Adam Sandler, but I'm talking about the real one.
For much of the 1970s and '80s, "The Longest Yard" was THE guy movie. A while ago, I wrote an article in which I asked guys this: You're sitting on the couch late at night, flipping through the channels, and you come across a movie that not only have you seen it many, many times, you also own it on DVD. Nevertheless, you stop and watch it until the end. What movie is that most likely to be?
When I wrote that article a few years ago, guys mentioned several different sports movies, but the top two answers were The Shawshank Redemption and Pulp Fiction. (It's really weird, but both of those movies came out on the same day—October 14, 1994.) If I had written that article back in the 1980s, the answer would have been Burt Reynolds' Longest Yard.
I met him when he was in town making one of those god-awful Smokey Cannonball Bandit Run movies. A friend of mine from L.A. was one of his steady stuntmen, so I got to go out to Old Tucson. Reynolds was hanging around between scenes and I got to meet him. I didn't want to waste his time, but I had to tell him about an idea that had been rolling around in my head for years. He was kind enough to listen.
I told him, "Imagine there's some guy watching TV in Billings, Montana late one Saturday night. He's channel surfing when he comes upon The Longest Yard. It's the start of the climactic game between the cons and the guards, so he settles in to watch. Everything goes as he remembers, but on the last play of the game, as quarterback Paul Crewe leaps toward the end zone, he gets hit in the air, doesn't score, and the Mean Machine loses the game. The guy watching it on TV stares at his can of beer and says to himself, 'Every time I watch this movie, I coulda sworn he scored that touchdown!'
"See, as a gag, you've reshot that scene and tacked it on to a showing of the movie on some late-night channel in a remote place."
He did that crazy laugh of his, that high-pitched cackle, and told me that he loved the idea. Not knowing when to quit, I added, "Or, if it would be too hard to re-shoot that scene, you could have the cons win the game, but when Crewe goes out to pick up the game ball, Captain Knauer shoots him in the back."
He laughed at that one, too. He got called away, said "So long," and that was that. I've always wondered if he ever did it. It would've been great. May he rest in peace and his memory live on forever on Archer reruns.
• Quick, which job would suck more: Getting up in front of the White House Press Corps every day and lying for a lying liar or being a black person who works for Fox News? I used to think that those signature pearls that Sarah Sanders wears are electrified and if she wanders too close to the truth, she gets a jolt. But then I watch her lie with that crap-eating sneer on her face and I just hope that, within a year, she'll be back working the graveyard shift at a Walmart in Fayetteville.
As for working for Fox, I guess it wouldn't be completely horrible. You'd have a quick answer to Cleavon Little's question, "Where da white women at?!" They're all either reading off the Teleprompter or sitting at home wondering how that colored fella got on her channel.
However, if I were black, I could probably work there.
Heck, my name is already Tom.
• Finally, and most seriously, what the hell is wrong with Martha McSally? After sidling up to Trump in the primary, I figured that she would back away a bit once she secured the nomination and at least try to reclaim a little bit of her soul.
But what does she say in her victory speech on Primary Election Night? That she's a "patriot," while her Democratic opponent is a "protester." That's beyond shameful. She's got to know that protest IS patriotic. This country was born in protest. Some of the greatest Americans of all time—from Elizabeth Cady Stanton to Harriet Beecher Stowe to Martin Luther King—were protesters.
I get it if the toothless hillbilly wing of the Republican Party doesn't understand that protest is a good and American thing, but McSally should know better than to make an either/or out of patriotism and protest. Does she not remember that for which she put her life on the line? Apparently, the pursuit of a Senate seat is enough to make her throw away a lifetime of dignity.
I hope she loses by a million votes.