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Kyrie Irving channels his inner Carl Everett, declares the world is flat 02.17.17 at 7:27 pm ET
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Kyrie Irving thinks the earth is flat. (Derick E. Hingle/USA Today Sports)

Kyrie Irving thinks the earth is flat. (Derick E. Hingle/USA Today Sports)

Remember when Carl Everett claiming dinosaurs never existed was the craziest conspiracy theory you heard from an athlete? Well, we have a new contender for that title.

That’s right: Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving is a flat earth truther. He thinks our planet is not round, despite a couple thousand years worth of science telling us otherwise.

Irving revealed his beliefs, rather confidently, during the latest episode of the “Road Trippin'” podcast, hosted by teammates Channing Frye and Richard Jefferson (the conversation starts around the 15:20 mark here).

Irving brought the topic up after a conversation about aliens. After his teammates, being logical people, told him that they did in fact believe the earth is round, Irving declared, “This is not even a conspiracy. The earth is flat.”

He went on to explain: “It’s right in front of our faces. I’m telling you, it’s right in front of our faces. They lie to us.

“What I’ve been taught is that the earth is round. But I mean, if you really think about it from a landscape of the way we travel, the way we move and the fact that, can you really think of us rotating around the sun and all planets aligned, rotating in specific dates, being perpendicular with what’s going on with these planets and stuff like this. … The truth is right there. You just gotta go searching for it. I’ve been searching for it for a while.”

Well there you go, folks. I’m sold. Can’t argue with that.

2016 Review: WEEI’s most popular columns, blog posts and audio clips of the year 12.29.16 at 4:56 pm ET
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Since everyone has some sort of year-end list, we figured we should probably get in on that. These are the WEEI columns, blog posts and audio on demand clips all of you clicked on the most in 2016. Enjoy.

Top 10 columns

10. Kirk Minihane – Analyze this: Phil Simms worst announcer ever

Remember when Kirk used to write columns? He was quite good at it, as evidenced by this evisceration of a truly terrible announcer.

9. John Tomase – First it was Don Orsillo — will fan favorite Jerry Remy be next to take fall at NESN?

Remy is still standing for now. Let’s see what happens in 2017.

8. DJ Bean – The horrifying (and graphic) story of Jake DeBrusk’s injury

Apparently people really like horrifying (and graphic) stories about testicle injuries. Weirdos.

7. Christopher Price – Industrial justice: Could Deflategate ban ultimately lead to Patriots regaining first-round pick?

Deflategate remained a popular topic in Year 2 of its ridiculous existence. Here Chris explores whether Jimmy Garoppolo played well enough in fill-in duty to bring back a first-round pick in a potential trade.

6. Christopher Price – NFL’s lax cybersecurity shows Tom Brady did right thing not turning over cell phone

I had forgotten about the NFL’s Twitter account getting hacked and announcing that Roger Goodell had died. Classic.

5. Kirk Minihane – Jessica Moran, John Farrell and 3 burning questions

Prediction: Kirk will see this post, be inspired by how well his columns have done and start writing for us again. … Haha, yeah right.

4. Christopher Price – In response to latest PSI rumor, Patriots right to question NFL’s defensive double standard

This is from just a couple weeks ago, after the NFL somehow managed to bring an end to Deflategate II in about 45 minutes.

3. Rob Bradford – Inside story of David Ortiz’s injury: ‘He was essentially playing on stumps’

Everything you’d ever want to know about Big Papi’s feet.

2. John Tomase – Jamie Collins deal latest reminder it’s pointless to question Bill Belichick

As someone who questioned the Collins trade at the time… yep.

1. Kirk Minihane – Enough is enough, Chris Mortensen has to go

Please note that this was published before we all found out about Mort’s cancer. Obviously everyone is glad he’s doing better now, but he’s still a sore subject for Patriots fans.

Was this the year we finally learned our lesson about questioning Bill Belichick? (Kyle Terada/USA Today Sports)

Was this the year we finally learned our lesson about questioning Bill Belichick? (Kyle Terada/USA Today Sports)

Read the rest of this entry »

‘Patriots Day’ review: Marathon bombing movie would’ve been better with less Mark Wahlberg 12.22.16 at 2:16 pm ET
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Mark Wahlberg is everywhere in "Patriots Day," and that's not a good thing. (Credit: Sipa USA)

Mark Wahlberg is everywhere in “Patriots Day,” and that’s not a good thing. (Credit: Sipa USA)

Much of the debate around “Patriots Day,” the new film about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, has focused on whether the movie should have been made this soon, or at all. It’s a legitimate, interesting debate that has been going on for a while. There are bombing survivors and local residents on both sides of the argument, people who were willing to work with the movie and support it and people who wanted nothing to do with it and have no intention of ever seeing it. Neither side is wrong in its approach.

I never had a strong opinion either way. That’s not to say I didn’t care, because I did. But I knew a movie was going to get made eventually, and whether it was too soon didn’t seem like something I was qualified to decide. I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of “Patriots Day,” but I wasn’t disgusted with it either.

So, I think I went into it with a fairly open mind. After seeing it, I’d love to be able to give you some sort of hot take — that it was an incredible film that will win over even the biggest skeptics, or that it was a total trainwreck that every Bostonian should avoid.

But “Patriots Day” is neither of those things. It’s a movie that does some things really well, but that also makes too many unnecessary and, quite frankly, distracting changes to a story that was more than dramatic enough already.

The most unnecessary and distracting change is its star: Mark Wahlberg. His character, Boston Police Sergeant Tommy Saunders, isn’t a real person. It’s a composite, but it’s unclear why anyone associated with the movie felt that a composite lead character was needed. A cynic would say it’s just so there would be a big role for a big star. Others might say it’s to give the audience a connective tissue as the film bounces all over Boston, Cambridge and Watertown.

If it’s the former, shame on Wahlberg and director Peter Berg. If it’s the latter, then Wahlberg and Berg seem to underestimate the intelligence of their audience. Maybe being a Bostonian and knowing so much of the story clouds my judgment here. Maybe someone not as familiar with it would have a tough time keeping up if they didn’t have Saunders to follow. Read the rest of this entry »

‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ script can’t match original books, but that’s OK 08.03.16 at 1:09 pm ET
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LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 30:  Staff prepare to sell copies "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" at Foyles book store on July 30, 2016 in London, England.  The script book of the play of the same name, which is on at Palace Theatre, billed as the eighth Harry Potter story, is on sale from midnight tonight.  (Photo by Rob Stothard/Getty Images)

“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” is likely to be the best-selling book of 2016. (Rob Stothard/Getty Images)

“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” the script of the London play of the same name, has been out for three days now, and reviews have been all over the place. Some fans and reviewers love it, some hate it, and many are somewhere in between.

A lot of that, I think, has to do with expectations. If you were expecting an eighth book on par with the original seven, full of all the character development, setting details and side stories that made us fall in love with the series, then yeah, you’ll probably be disappointed.

But if you were able to manage expectations a bit and understand that a play script was never going to be as immersive as one of the books, or even as the play itself (which is generally getting better reviews than just the script), then you just might be content, or even happy, with “The Cursed Child.”

That was my experience, at least. I wasn’t expecting to love “The Cursed Child” as much as I love the original seven books, and it turns out I don’t. But that doesn’t mean I regret reading it or wish it hadn’t been made like some fans apparently do.

I enjoyed revisiting the world of Harry Potter and seeing many of our favorite characters again. I’m glad this universe is not just a thing of the past. I’m not one of those people who wants my favorite series to end after their original run and never be renewed.

Make all the “Star Wars,” “Batman” and “Rocky” movies you want. Give me a bunch of “Game of Thrones” spinoffs and short stories. Sure you might get some stinkers, but if you also get “The Force Awakens,” “The Dark Knight,” “Creed” and “Tales of Dunk and Egg,” then it’s all worth it as far as I’m concerned.

“The Cursed Child” doesn’t quite succeed at the level of the installments I just mentioned. Maybe I’d feel differently about the play itself, but the script is probably more along the lines of “Attack of the Clones” or “Rocky Balboa.” It’s fine. Not great, not bad, just fine.

“The Cursed Child” play is already split into two parts and making it any longer probably wasn’t feasible, which means the script is just 320 pages. It reads like a story half that long given the way it’s structured — you can easily get through this in one or two sittings without needing to pull an all-nighter — which means it obviously isn’t going to give you everything the original seven books gave you, similar to the way the movies couldn’t give you everything the books did.

Because of this, the story sometimes feel rushed. Some of the dialogue and some of the characters’ decisions feel a bit forced and unnatural, like they’re saying and doing things just to move the story along. “The Cursed Child” also literally revisits the past — a lot — which is a storytelling technique that pretty much always leads to mixed reactions.

There’s still a lot to like about “The Cursed Child.” Harry and Draco Malfoy are both struggling to connect with their sons, who are both struggling to escape their fathers’ shadows while building a friendship that neither Harry nor Draco is really comfortable with. There are some interesting plot twists and, regardless of how you feel about revisiting the past so much, it’s hard not to be intrigued by the what-ifs the script explores.

“The Cursed Child” may not be a home run, but I’m glad it exists, and I hope we continue to get more original Harry Potter content in the future.

7 Points: ‘Game of Thrones’ season 6, episode 10 06.27.16 at 10:48 am ET
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“Game of Thrones” showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss told us before season six that they believed this was the best season yet. Through five episodes, it appeared they were right. This season came out of the gates on fire, with major plot developments in every episode and one “wow” moment after another — Jon’€™s resurrection, the deaths of Balon Greyjoy and Roose Bolton, Rickon being turned over to Ramsay, Daenerys burning down the Temple of the Dosh Khaleen and taking over the Dothraki army, and of course, Hodor.

The season did slow down in episodes six through eight, and there have been some plot holes (some of which we’€™ve touched on in our reviews of the previous two episodes), so if anyone wanted to make a case against this season, they’€™d certainly have some ammunition. But for me, episodes nine and 10 seal it — this was the best season of “Game of Thrones” yet. (Our own Jerry Thornton makes the case for it being in the conversation for best season of any show ever.)

After getting one of the best battles the show has done (or any show has done) in episode nine, we got the best season finale and one of the best episodes of the entire series Sunday night. “The Winds of Winter” wrapped up some storylines that needed wrapping up while also pushing the show’€™s larger plot forward, and director Miguel Sapochnik (who also directed last week’€™s “Battle of the Bastards” and last season’€™s “Hardhome”) was masterful once again.

This season moved at breakneck pace at times (just look at how quickly so many characters made long-distance voyages), and I think that pace sets us up for a sprint to the series’€™ finish. We may only have 13 episodes left (split up over two seasons), and there’€™s obviously a lot that’€™s going to happen. On to our 7 Points:

1. Mad Queen Cersei

How long will Cersei reign? (Helen Sloan/HBO)

How long will Cersei reign? (Helen Sloan/HBO)

Well, Cersei did it. After plenty of foreshadowing, she used the wildfire under King’€™s Landing, took out a large chunk of her enemies, and inadvertently caused her son to commit suicide as a result. I’€™ll admit that I sometimes lose interest in what’€™s going on in King’€™s Landing because it seems kind of irrelevant compared to Jon, Dany, the White Walkers and anyone else who figures to be a major player in the ultimate final battle. But damn, this whole opening scene was so well done.

Ramin Djawadi’€™s music alone was enough to give me goosebumps — so eerie and foreboding. And if that wasn’€™t creepy enough, we also see the little birds (formerly Varys’€™, now Qyburn’€™s) turn violent. Cersei looks calmly evil the whole time, and Natalie Dormer has one last standout moment as Margaery realizes that something is wrong and desperately tries to evacuate the Sept of Baelor. Of all the characters killed in the explosion (we lose the High Sparrow, Loras and Mace Tyrell, and Kevan Lannister too), Margaery will be missed the most. Dormer did a great job and made Margaery both more important and more powerful than she is in the books.

Tommen was always more of a pawn than a king, and it’€™s not surprising to see him die, but the way he dies (jumping out his window after seeing the Sept blown up) and the way it was shot (just a straight shot with no dramatic buildup) actually made me feel kind of bad for him.

When we go back to King’€™s Landing later in the episode, Cersei takes the Iron Throne and is crowned Queen just as Jaime returns to the city. Jaime saw the smoldering ruins of the Sept and it’€™s safe to assume he’€™s already deduced exactly what happened. Jaime killed Mad King Aerys precisely because he wanted to use wildfire to burn people alive. Now that his sister has actually done it, what is he going to do about it? That’€™s one of the key questions that will have to wait for next season. Read the rest of this entry »

7 Points: ‘Game of Thrones’ season 6, episode 9 06.20.16 at 2:37 am ET
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Who let the dogs out? (Helen Sloan/HBO)

Who let the dogs out? (Helen Sloan/HBO)

Another classic episode nine for “Game of Thrones.” “Battle of the Bastards” immediately enters the conversation of best “Game of Thrones” episodes simply because of how amazing the action was. Major props are in order for director Miguel Sapochnik, who also directed last season’€™s “Hardhome” and is now the foremost expert on directing battles as far as I’€™m concerned.

The storytelling in and around “Battle of the Bastards” was not quite as excellent as the action, but more on that in point three. First, let’€™s appreciate that action some more.

1. Dany and the dragons came to play

We’€™ll get to the Bastard Bowl in a minute, but since the episode started in Meereen, we’€™ll start there too. Daenerys decided to keep Tyrion around even though he screwed things up and stuttered like a fool while trying to explain why things were OK. That’€™s good because Tyrion then regained his composure and gave a great speech about why Dany shouldn’€™t just burn entire cities like her father wanted to (hello, more wildfire under King’€™s Landing foreshadowing).

Instead Dany hopped on Drogon, joined up with Rhaegal and Viserion, and started burning the masters’€™ ships in what may have been the best dragon scene yet. The Dothraki storming in and Grey Worm’€™s double throat slash of the two masters who tried to sacrifice their friend capped off a satisfying turn of events in Meereen and hopefully moved us much closer to Dany leaving and going west.

2. The Battle of the Bastards was so good

“Game of Thrones” already had a few entries in the “greatest battles we’€™ve seen in shows/films” discussion (Blackwater, Castle Black, Hardhome), and I think it’€™s safe to add the Battle of the Bastards to that group.

The pre-battle meeting between Jon, Sansa and Ramsay was great. Ramsay’€™s “game” with Rickon offered one last reminder of just how sadistic Ramsay is (by the way, did anyone else think Ramsay was actually going to shoot at Jon there?). It was heartbreaking to see another Stark die, but not unexpected. Rickon had never been a huge part of the story and we pretty much knew he was done for the moment Smalljon Umber turned him over to Ramsay. Jon wanted to believe he could save Rickon, but Sansa knew better.

The battle itself was just packed with great, gory action, starting with Jon going from alone and seemingly screwed to quickly surrounded by a brutal clash of cavalry. The center of the battlefield quickly turned into a massive killing zone, with Ramsay’€™s forces firing arrows indiscriminately and dead bodies literally piling up. Jon getting buried under bodies and gasping for air was nightmare fuel, and the envelopment and slow strangulation of Jon’€™s forces was some straight Battle of Cannae stuff.

Thankfully, Littlefinger and the Vale showed up just in time (more on that in point three), Wun Wun broke down the gate of Winterfell in heroic, tragic fashion (goodbye to the last of the giants), and Jon gave Ramsay the pounding we all would’€™ve liked to have given him. Read the rest of this entry »

Seeing Brian Wilson and his band perform ‘Pet Sounds’ is something I’ll never forget 06.19.16 at 12:49 pm ET
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Brian Wilson performed "Pet Sounds" with his band and the Boston Pops at Symphony Hall on Friday and Saturday. (Photo by Winslow Townson)

Brian Wilson performed “Pet Sounds” with his band and the Boston Pops at Symphony Hall on Friday and Saturday. (Photo by Winslow Townson)

The title of “greatest album ever”€ is obviously subjective. When someone says “greatest album ever,” what they usually mean is, “€œmy favorite album ever.”€ But there are some albums that are objectively in the conversation, because they are so widely regarded as great, innovative and/or influential by critics and other musicians, and because they appear at or near the top of one greatest albums list after another. The Beach Boys’€™ “Pet Sounds”€ is one of those albums.

“Pet Sounds”€ also happens to be one of my favorite albums ever, maybe my favorite depending on the day. I listen to it and just marvel at Brian Wilson‘€™s arrangements and production, at the use of so many different and often unusual instruments, at the introspective lyrics that were so different than those on The Beach Boys’€™ early hits, and of course at the classic Beach Boys vocal harmonies.

On Saturday night, I got to watch Wilson perform “Pet Sounds”€ (along with 19 other Beach Boys or Wilson solo songs) backed by a 10-piece band and the Boston Pops at Symphony Hall. The 73-year-old Wilson’€™s voice isn’€™t what it once was, he needed help getting on and off stage, and he did more sitting at his piano than actually playing it.

Yet the music was still great. Wilson’€™s backing band is full of talented musicians who nailed not just the drum, guitar, bass and keyboard parts, but also most of the other cool instruments you hear throughout “Pet Sounds” (the train and barking dogs were left out, which I guess is understandable). Matt Jardine, son of original Beach Boy Al Jardine, was great as the falsetto vocalist, both in lead and backing capacity. And the Pops provided the full orchestral sound an album like “Pet Sounds”€ deserves while also adding a nice twist to earlier Beach Boys songs like “I Get Around.”

That “Pet Sounds”€ could still sound great despite Wilson not being what he once was as a musician shouldn’€™t be surprising. Wilson is a genius songwriter, arranger and producer, and part of his genius is that he allows others to thrive.

He had one of the best studio bands ever assembled at his disposal while recording “Pet Sounds”€, and he didn’€™t just boss them around. He listened to their feedback and suggestions and was willing to tweak his music. He sometimes liked their mistakes more than what he originally had, so he went with the “€œmistakes.”€ He gave the lead vocals on “€œGod Only Knows,”€ probably the best song he ever wrote, to his brother Carl because he thought Carl would do it better than he could (and he was right).

The musicians and singers are different, but Wilson is still doing that. He doesn’€™t try to sing notes he can’€™t sing anymore, because he has others (specifically Matt Jardine) who can do that instead. He doesn’€™t try to play anything complicated on piano, because he has better piano players in his band. Wilson wanted “Pet Sounds”€ to sound as good as it possibly could, and it’€™s clear that’€™s still the case. Wilson has always set the bar high for himself, and you get the sense that he wouldn’€™t tour “Pet Sounds” if the live performances weren’€™t going to clear that bar.

Wilson says this tour is the last time he’€™ll ever perform “Pet Sounds” live, and he seems like the kind of guy who sticks to his word. I feel fortunate that I got to see one of those performances. When you’€™re someone like me who’€™s 27 years old but whose favorite albums came out mostly in the ‘€˜60s and ‘€˜70s, you accept that you’€™re not going to have a chance to ever see too many of those albums performed live.

Performances of entire albums start to finish are rare enough anyways. Performances of albums that are 40-50 years old by the original artist (and let’€™s be clear- “Pet Sounds”€ is more of a Brian Wilson album than a Beach Boys album) are much rarer. So getting to see “Pet Sounds,” which turned 50 in May, performed live in 2016 and having it sound as true to the original as could possibly be expected is something special that I’€™ll never forget.

7 Points: ‘Game of Thrones’ season 6, episode 8 06.13.16 at 11:00 am ET
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Varys is planning... something. (Macall B. Polay/HBO)

Varys is planning… something. (Macall B. Polay/HBO)

First, welcome to Not the Game. Second, welcome to our Game of Thrones reviews. This kind of goes without saying, but these posts will be full of spoilers from the most recent episode. So if you’re not caught up, turn back now.

It is also probably worth noting that I am a book reader. I don’t think that matters too much at this point because so many show storylines have already passed the books, so there’s really not much left to spoil. I may reference the books to fill in some background or note important changes, but I will try not to spoil anything that could still be spoiled.

On to this week’s episode…

After an amazing first five episodes that pushed the story forward at near-breakneck pace, season six has taken a step back and slowed things down over the last three weeks. That should have been expected. You can’t really have 10 straight episodes of one major payoff after another without any scene-setting in between.

Arya’s escape from Braavos required some setup. The showdown between Cersei and the Faith Militant required some setup. The Hound and the Brotherhood Without Banners couldn’t just be re-introduced without some sort of buildup. Same goes for the Blackfish, Edmure Tully and everything happening at Riverrun.

We know at least episode nine, with its focus on the Battle of the Bastards, will be pretty crazy, and there’s good reason to believe episode 10, with its foreboding title “The Winds of Winter,” will be as well.

Three setup episodes leading up to those final two isn’t necessarily disappointing in and of itself. “Game of Thrones” has shown in the past that it can do setup very well. Where the disappointment comes in, at least for me, is with how these last three episodes have been executed. The Arya and Riverrun storylines have both been pretty sloppy, and that’s where we’ll start with this week’s 7 Points.

1. Arya, thankfully, is finally leaving Braavos Read the rest of this entry »

USOC, Boston 2024 end Olympics bid 07.27.15 at 2:49 pm ET
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There will be no Olympic rings in Boston in 2024. (Getty Images)

There will be no Olympic rings in Boston in 2024. (Getty Images)

The United States Olympic Committee and Boston 2024 have “jointly ended” Boston’s bid for the 2024 Olympics.

The bid had struggled to gain public support in the Boston area since the city was first chosen to be the U.S. bid back in January. Earlier on Monday, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said he would not sign a contract with the U.S. Olympic Committee that commits the city to covering any budget overruns.

Contracts with host cities include a stipulation that the city will cover any additional costs, but in the wake of widespread criticism of and uncertainty about the financial impact to the city, Walsh decided to take a hard stand.

“I strongly believe that bringing the Olympic Games back to the United States would be good for our country and would have brought long-term benefits to Boston,” Walsh said in a statement after the bid was dropped. “However, no benefit is so great that it is worth handing over the financial future of our City and our citizens were rightly hesitant to be supportive as a result.

“We always anticipated having the time to do our due diligence on the guarantees required and a full review of the risk and mitigation package proposed last week. This is a monumental decision that cannot be rushed, even if it means not moving forward with our bid for the 2024 Summer Games.”

Carli Lloyd scores hat trick, USA beats Japan to win Women’s World Cup 07.05.15 at 8:50 pm ET
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Carli Lloyd (right) and Lauren Holiday (left) celebrate one of Lloyd's three goals. (Rich Lam/Getty Images)

Carli Lloyd (right) and Lauren Holiday (left) celebrate one of Lloyd’s three goals. (Rich Lam/Getty Images)

In the 2011 Women’€™s World Cup final against Japan, the United States had a bunch of great chances early on but failed to take advantage of them. Those missed chances turned out to be costly, as the U.S. ended up losing that game on penalty kicks.

Four years later, the American women made sure they would have no such regrets. They scored four times in the game’€™s first 16 minutes and went on to beat Japan 5-2 to capture their third World Cup title and first since 1999.

Carli Lloyd was the star, as she scored three of the United States’€™ early goals to give her the first ever hat trick in a Women’€™s World Cup final. She ended up tied for the tournament lead with six goals, all of which came in the team’€™s four knockout games.

Lloyd’€™s first goal came in the third minute. After Morgan Brian drew a corner with a nice run into the box, Megan Rapinoe found a charging Lloyd in the middle of the box for a beautiful left-foot finish.

Two minutes later, Lloyd struck again off another set piece. Tobin Heath drew a free kick just outside the box and Lauren Holiday sent in a ball that bounced around a bit before settling perfectly for Lloyd right in front. Read the rest of this entry »