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I got an early Christmas present.

Portland State University in Oregon, where I team-taught a marketing class last summer with Prof. Tom Gillpatrick, has asked me back for summer 2013 ... and it took me about three seconds to say yes. (Let's be clear. If they hadn't asked, I would've begged.)

As I've said in this space, it is great to have a life-changing experience at my age, especially one that does not involve a tattoo, a body piercing, a divorce, or my prostate. That's what PSU was for me - an enormously energizing, intellectually stimulating and emotionally satisfying experience, and I can't wait to get back there.

So thanks, Portland State, and thanks to Tom Gillpatrick. You made my 2012, and I'm looking forward to a wonderful 2013.

I really did not know what to expect from The Silver Linings Playbook, the new film from writer/director David O. Russell (Three Kings, The Fighter), but it felt - based on the trailers and reviews - like a movie I ought to see.

I'm glad I did. The Silver Linings Playbook is an unusual piece of work, essentially a portrait of two troubled personalities, played with great effectiveness and verve by Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. They come together - actually are sort of thrown together - in a middle class, blue collar, Philadelphia Eagles-worshipping Pennsylvania neighborhood. They are quite literally bouncing off the walls emotionally, reeling from devastating personal circumstances, but somehow manage to anchor each other ... and Silver Linings ends up being a touching, funny, quite remarkable little love story that finds little moments of truth throughout.

By the way ... watch for Chris Tucker, a comic actor (Rush Hour) who doesn't work nearly enough. He essentially delivers an extended cameo here, and he is wonderful ... understated, and totally serving the material.

I know there is a lot of debate about it on the internet, but I really liked the season finale of "Homeland". (SPOILER ALERT: DON'T READ ANY FARTHER IF YOU HAVE NOT YET SEEN THE SECOND SEASON'S FINAL EPISODE.)

Now, it is true that there are some plot holes that one could drive a truck through. (How exactly were Carrie and Brody able to escape from CIA headquarters without anyone having seen them? Maybe she has James Bond's invisible car?) But I think the great genius of the show is in the casting - Claire Danes and Damian Lewis are such strong performers that they manage to take the viewer over the plotting rough spots. Lewis, especially, is really good at making us feel sympathy and empathy for a character of dubious values ... it is that performance that creates uncertainty about his motives and actions, and keeps us coming back for more.

Hard to know where the third season will go ... but it seems likely that Mandy Patinkin, as a top CIA analyst, will play an even bigger role in the proceedings. And that's a good thing, because he is brilliant in the role.

As for the finale of "The Voice," I'm totally okay with Cassadee Pope being the winner ... she had an amazing set of pipes, and they only got better from week to week. (At the risk of being sexist, I'd also observe that the rest of her wasn't too bad, either.) I thought until the end that her main competition was Nicholas David, who had an amazingly soulful voice. "The Voice" is the only so-called "reality TV show" that I watch, and I can't wait until the show return with new contestants On Monday, March 25 ... though I did think, by the end, that maybe the series went a week or two too long. But it is generally first class, uplifting entertainment. I love it.
KC's View: