At last. Mark Salling, the pride of Lake Highlands High School (Class of '01), was finally more than just a bit player on last night's episode of Glee. Having transitioned from brooding football bully to cougar-chasing horndog to song-and-dance man over seven brilliant episodes of the best high-school show since Freaks and Geeks, Salling's Noah Puckerman ("Shalom!") finally stepped out of the chorus line and got his own plot line: He's just a guilt-ridden Jew who wants to make his Mama proud by finding a nice Jewish girl to date ... or, at least, make out with whilst pining for the shiksa cheerleader who's carrying his kid, though no one else yet knows it. (Mama Puck is played by longtime character actress Gina Hecht, who I first remember as Jean DaVinci from Mork & Mindy.) Jump for the already highlighted highlights, sweet Caroline!
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Update at 3:57 p.m.: So, funny thing. I just got off the phone with Mark's mom, Condy, who works at Lake Highlands Junior High. And, turns out, "Sweet Caroline" is among her favorite songs -- has been ever since she first heard it during her freshman year at SMU "30-something years ago," she tells Unfair Park.
"My husband and I followed him at several concerts," she says. "We'd play him in our house all the time, and 'Sweet Caroline' was my favorite. I even bought myself some sheet music and taught myself how to play it. For him to be given that song to sing, what are the odds? He was so excited to share it with my mother. Mark's very close with her here in town. He was just really subdued but so excited he got to sing his mom's favorite song. Its a very emotional thing for me because of that history, and his heart was really in it. He's in his groove when he's behind a guitar, and then to be singing that song, it's pretty emotional."