Connect with us


Bob Odenkirk winds down his journey as Saul Goodman



Bob Odenkirk winds down his journey as Saul Goodman

Bob Odenkirk doesn’t remember anything about his heart attack last summer — not the CPR, not the three defibrillator zaps that brought him back to life and nothing from the eight days he spent recuperating at Albuquerque Presbyterian Hospital. Even the week after he went home is sketchy. He vaguely recalls his wife, Naomi, and adult kids, Nate and Erin, being with him and time spent with his “Better Call Saul” co-stars (and Albuquerque roommates) Rhea Seehorn and Patrick Fabian.

But that’s it. No white light moment? I ask him. No encounters with St. Peter or a dearly departed pet?

“No,” Odenkirk answers. It’s a hot day, the Santa Ana winds are blowing and we’re sitting indoors at a poolside restaurant at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, sipping mojitos, far removed from the day Odenkirk collapsed on the set of “Better Call Saul.” I express a little disappointment that Odenkirk cannot offer me reassurance about an afterlife.

“You’re disappointed? I’m disappointed,” Odenkirk says. “I wanted to have that tale to tell. I wanted to tell you which of my relatives was first in line to greet me. I wanted to see Abraham Lincoln playing chess with Elvis Presley and get in on that game. I think Lincoln’s probably going to win. But only after Presley throws the board across the room and knocks Lincoln’s hat off.”

Odenkirk, 59, chuckles. But just a little. He thinks about his near-death experience often and, yes, on one level, he feels a bit cheated. If his heart is going to stop and he’s going to turn bluish-gray because he isn’t breathing and if they have to put the paddles on him to jump-start his pulse, he would have liked just one grand, existential moment of awareness and maybe a couple answers about what’s next. Instead, he just got a big blank space.

Of course, that’s not all he got. Odenkirk also received a monumental outpouring of love from complete strangers on social media — platforms he calls “this horrible thing that has degraded us” — and that he remembers. Odenkirk still can’t wrap his head around the kindness directed his way. He’s not a warm-and-fuzzy guy. His comedy career — Chicago club stages, writing for “Saturday Night Live,” creating and performing “Mr. Show” with David Cross, all chronicled in his excellent memoir “Comedy Comedy Comedy Drama” — has been predicated on the idea that the best humor comes from a place of anger. And that people are stupid. And that life is dumb.

And sure, audiences do treasure Saul Goodman, the fast-talking attorney who provided “Breaking Bad” with moments of comic relief and turned into a cautionary tale and tragic antihero on “Better Call Saul,” now in its final run of episodes.

“But Saul’s not a good guy,” Odenkirk says. “He’s very selfish. So I don’t think it’s that.”

This ignites a good-natured debate — it won’t be our last — about how “Better Call Saul” made us feel something deeper about Odenkirk’s character, introduced as Jimmy McGill, a man of many talents, one of which is scamming. He’s a scamp looking for approval, foolishly, it turns out, from his older brother, memorably played by Michael McKean. And when that relationship turns sour (to put it mildly), it fuels frustrations and resentments that Jimmy can’t leave behind.

Anyway, we feel something for the guy — and for the actor who has played him for a decade.

“I’ll allow that,” Odenkirk says. “But I don’t think it explains that outpouring of warmth. I think that came from COVID, which freaked everyone out and led to this feeling of ‘Can we just not have more bad things happen to us for a little while?’ And then, you know, I’m not a movie star. I’m just a guy who acts and works hard. I think people see me and think, ‘If I was an actor and had a great bit of luck, I’d be like him. He’s not a flashy guy. He’s not even particularly gifted. He just shows up and goes to work.’ People can relate to that. And maybe that provoked a certain amount of empathy.”

Odenkirk isn’t pushing false humility. He likes to analyze things — his memoir could be used as a textbook for understanding sketch comedy — and this is his genuine take on why the world joined hands last summer and wished him well. I think he’s wrong, but his reasoning is completely in character.

“Bob, being who he is, is always grappling with the subtext going through his head,” says his co-star and friend Seehorn. “Like, when he was writing the book, he had to wrap his mind around, ‘Well, who am I to be writing a bio?’ And I would tell him time and time again that he has this breadth of work and expertise in comedy and a million funny stories and he’s a great writer and has taken risks and tried things and they haven’t always worked out, but he keeps trying. That’s interesting. Who wouldn’t want to read about that?” She pauses. “It took some convincing.”

The book, which Odenkirk wrote over the course of a few years (“Oh, my gosh, the cursing you would hear from upstairs,” roommate Seehorn says, laughing. “I just thought he was going to light so many reams of paper on fire on a weekly basis”), ended up containing a fair amount of advice, along the lines of “if I can do it, so can you.” Odenkirk doesn’t consider himself some wise old sage (“old, maybe,” he says), but he does think people can learn things over the course of time and even change. That belief has been at the heart of the many arguments he’s had over the years with “Saul” creators Peter Gould and Vince Gilligan.

“My pitch to them is always: Sometimes people learn the right lessons from challenges and trauma,” Odenkirk says.

The first five seasons of the series have opened with a flash-forward of Saul, now going by the alias of Gene Takavic, living in Omaha, Nebraska, managing a shopping center Cinnabon and living a bleak, empty, low-key life. The last time we see Gene, he believes he’s been made and needs to change his identity and disappear again. And then he seems to see something and changes his mind.

“He’s looking back on his whole life and asking himself, ‘Do I react the way that my instinct tells me, the same instinct that has landed me in a f— mall in Omaha, making cinnamon rolls? Do I keep following that gut?’ He’s still Jimmy McGill. He’s still Saul Goodman. I promise you that. But in his growth, he’s asking himself, ‘Really? Is this all worth it?’ And you see in that moment that he can’t hold that s— in any longer. He needs to be himself.”

We’ve spent the good part of an hour dancing around what’s to come in the show’s remaining episodes. Odenkirk can’t tell me, and I don’t want to know. But without getting into specifics, it would seem that Odenkirk may have finally won his long-standing argument with the series’ writers, allowing Saul to step past his resentments.

“You know, I’ve had my bitterness and frustrations, but whenever I see that at play, especially in a choice I’m going to make, I say, ‘That’s bull—. That is not a way to move forward,’” Odenkirk says. “And with Saul, I’ve always told Peter and Vince that sometimes people learn the right lessons and not the most selfish, resentful lesson from a bad thing that’s happened to them. They become bigger and more gracious and not smaller and ground-down.

“This is not a spoiler, what I’m saying here,” Odenkirk adds. “It’s weird, because it sounds like maybe I’m pitching that Saul becomes this goodhearted, generous, caring person. I can’t tell you where he ends up, but it’s not like he has some revelation of humanity. I think he gets to …” Odenkirk pauses. “I think I’ve said all I can say. But I like where his journey ends. And I think you’ll like it too.”



Minnesota United gives away late lead in Miami



Minnesota United gives away late lead in Miami

For so much of the second half, Minnesota looked comfortable and ready to take a much-needed victory.

Shockingly, Inter Miami, the second-worst goal-scoring team in MLS notched two goals in the final three minutes to flip the script and take a 2-1 victory in the first MLS meeting between the two teams.

“[We] put ourselves in a great spot,” manager Adrian Heath said. “Put ourselves in a really good position. We’re not doing enough, it doesn’t look as though it’s enough to concede goals and lose games.”

Inter Miami forward Indiana Vassilev only made it into the game as a late-game bench substitution, but he made the most of his opportunity scoring in the 87th and 90th minute to give his team a victory, surpassing Minnesota’s one-goal lead it held since the 65th minute.

The Loons’ defense had kept Minnesota in the game for each chance Inter Miami had for the first 86 minutes, but the team couldn’t get the stops near the end to come up with the victory.

“At those times of the game, you need to do whatever you can to just beat your man,” Loons defender Michael Boxall said.

Minnesota’s victory looked nearly locked up as the Loons held the 1-0 difference into the final five minutes of the game. That goal followed a resilient start to the second half after many chances weren’t finished.

The Minnesota goal scorer was Luis Amarilla, who put the ball past the Inter Miami goalkeeper in tight in the 65th minute. It was his first goal in MLS play since March 19.

Amarilla was in such a position to score the goal so close to the keeper because of an acrobatic one-touch centering pass from Franco Fragapane. The play all began from Emmanuel Reynoso getting the ball on the right side of the attacking zone. He cut towards the middle and sent a lofting kick that found the airborne Fragapane for his assist.

While Minnesota finally found the back of the net in the back half of the game, there was no shortage of missed opportunities earlier in the contest.

“We’re not good enough at one end, and we’re not good enough at the other, and that’s not a good recipe,” Heath said. “We’ve got to get more and more determination to get on the things in the box and we’ve certainly got to defend the goal better.”

By the end of the game, Inter Miami had eight shots on target, while Minnesota had just one, the Amarilla goal.

The loss marks the first since Minnesota announced Heath’s two-year contract extension through 2024 on Thursday. The defeat also adds to a 1-6-1 stretch over the Loons’ last eight games, including Saturday night.

Heath said on Wednesday that the goal was to come away with four points in this road trip at Inter Miami on Saturday and on Wednesday at L.A. Galaxy. With the loss to Inter Miami, that goal is no longer possible.

The Loons must keep looking forward to get back on track and into playoff contention. After the loss on Saturday, Minnesota sits 11th in the Western Conference Standings, five points outside of the seventh spot, the cutoff for the playoffs.

“The good thing is that it’s a quick turnaround,” Boxall said. “Not quite looking ahead to L.A. just yet, we still need to process this game and figure out what we need to address, because that should be three points we’re taking home tonight.”

Continue Reading


Twins record second shutout in three days in win over Rockies



Twins record second shutout in three days in win over Rockies

Puffy white clouds filled the blue skies above Target Field and sunlight bounced off buildings that make up the Minneapolis skyline. It was the kind of summer night at the ballpark that Minnesotans dream about throughout the long winter months.

It was the perfect night at Target Field and the hometown team, well, they were nearly perfect, too. Twins pitchers gave up just one hit (and five walks), and the team captured a first-inning lead on its way to a 6-0 win over the Colorado Rockies on Saturday night at Target Field.

A day after getting shut out for the 10th time this season, tying the league lead, Luis Arraez and Byron Buxton made sure early on that the Twins wouldn’t suffer the same fate. Arraez snapped an 0-for-11 stretch to begin the game and Buxton, back in the lineup for the first time since Tuesday, followed that up with his first triple since 2019.

After missing time this week after his knee flared up, Buxton turned on the burners, with a sprint speed of 29.3 feet/second (30 ft/sec is elite) on the triple, losing his helmet along the way. When he reached the base, he pounded his chest a couple times, smacked his hands together and let out a roar.

While the Twins left Buxton on third, they added on throughout the game, tacking on a run in the second on Arraez’s second hit of the game, two more in the fifth and two more in the seventh.

Alex Kirilloff drove in three of those runs, one on a sacrifice fly and the other on a double off the right field wall, bringing home Max Kepler — who walked three times in the game — and Kyle Garlick. The double was his fourth in eight games since being recalled from Triple-A.

All that offense came in support of Chris Archer, who worked five innings and allowed just one hit — a single to former Twin C.J. Cron in the second inning — and a walk in his outing.  Archer pitched out of that second-inning jam, retiring the next three batters in a row, the first of 12 straight that he sent down to conclude his start.

His start was followed by a scoreless inning each from Jharel Cotton and Griffin Jax and two from Tyler Thornburg. Twins pitchers have now thrown two shutouts in their past three games, and in Friday’s loss, they gave up just one run.

Continue Reading


A Pride timeline: Gay rights in Minnesota from 1858-2022



A Pride timeline: Gay rights in Minnesota from 1858-2022

1858: Joseph Israel Lobdell, born Lucy Lobdell, is arrested for “impersonating a man.” A judge in the rural camp community of Forest City, Minn., sided with Lobdell, ruling that he did not act unlawfully.

1877: Minneapolis rules crossdressing as illegal, putting gender-nonconforming Minnesotans at risk for imprisonment.

1969: The Stonewall riots begin in New York City after police raids occur in the gay-friendly bars and community spaces of Lower Manhattan. These riots serve as a public turning point in American LGBTQ+ history.

May 18, 1969: University of Minnesota alumni found Fight Repression of Erotic Expression, or FREE, the first LGBTQ+ rights organization in the state. Founders Jack Baker and Michael McConnell become the first same-sex couple in the nation to apply for a marriage license, an application that is rejected by Hennepin County. Their legal case is dismissed by the U.S. Supreme Court in one sentence.

1972: The first Twin Cities Pride celebration is held in Minneapolis’ Loring Park.

Dec. 9, 1972: Minnesota state Sen. Allan Henry Spear indicates he is gay in an interview with the Minneapolis Star, making him the first openly gay state legislator in the United States.

June 1982: Bruce Brockway becomes the first documented recipient of an HIV diagnosis in Minnesota. After his diagnosis, he founded the Minnesota AIDS Project to provide resources to HIV-positive Minnesotans.

1993: Gender- and sexuality-based discrimination is outlawed in Minnesota, making it the first state in the nation to adopt the policy.

1997: Sicaŋgu Lakota man Nicholas Metcalf and his partner, Korean-American Edd Lee, found the Minnesota Men of Color, an organization that focuses on the well-being of men, women and gender-nonconforming people of color.

2012: Amendment 1, which limits marriage rights to only heterosexual couples, is rejected by the majority of Minnesota voters. Same-sex marriage is legalized in the state.

June 2015: The U.S. Supreme Court releases a decision in Obergefell v. Hodges finding that same-sex marriage cannot be banned in any state and must be recognized nationally. Gay marriage is legalized.

June 25-26, 2022: After two years of pandemic-related cancellations, the Twin Cities Pride parade and festival returns to Minneapolis.

Continue Reading