Good News Friday: A tobacco company says no smoking in the office. The iPod turns 13. And Dwyane Wade goes 1-on-1 with a 90-year-old

And a Happy Friday to you, as we close in on Halloween I’m trying to decide if my son, not even two months old, is too young to celebrate. The boy has no teeth yet, how can he eat candy, right? Course, his mother and grandmother have already been in cahoots and made him a little costume, so I’m losing this battle.

Anyway, first story in GNF this week might not seem like a big story, but it struck me as wonderful and fairly amazing.

R.J. Reynolds, the second-largest cigarette company in the world, has announced a ban on smoking in their offices.

That’s right: A company who makes billions of dollars every year selling cancer in a stick to the American public is telling its employees that it can’t use their product at work.

I mean, this is incredible news, don’t get me wrong: But can you imagine Smith and Wesson telling their workers they can’t carry a gun at work? Or Coca-Cola saying no sodas at your desk? R.J. Reynolds is admitting its product is gross and they don’t want their employees subjected to it during work hours.

How much more evidence do we need that selling cigarettes is a disgusting, dirty, unethical thing to do, and that it kills millions every year, when the company that makes and sells them is telling its own people “Eh, don’t do this around the office, OK?”

Until I take my last breath, it will confound me how cigarettes are legal in America but marijuana is criminalized.

**Next up, a really cool gesture by Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade, who’s got to be awfully lonely in South Beach these days with his buddy LeBron all the way up in Cleveland.

A Florida woman named Illuminada Magtoto said her biggest wish on her 90th birthday would be to play 1-on-1 against Wade.
And so she did. Wade was generous and sweet with her, and clearly made Illuminada’s year.
Very, very cool gesture.

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**And finally, let us all celebrate the 13th birthday of a product that has truly changed the world: Yep, on Oct. 23, 2001 Apple announced the introduction of a device that stores and plays your music. They called it the iPod, and this is how it was hyped in an Associated Press story:

“Apple Computer Inc. unveiled a portable digital musical device that is the size of a deck of cards, but holds 1,000 digitally recorded songs.”

Yeah, that’s a bit of an understatement in hindsight, huh? Completely revolutionized the music biz, opened up new music to so many listeners, and gave people like me something to listen to on the subway, while exercising, and anytime else. (Sure, we used to talk to each other before but who needs that?)

Got a kick out of the old photo of the original iPod (above), man was that thing huge…

 

Remembering Ben Bradlee, a giant of journalism. John Oliver on the Supreme Court justices as animals. And a waiter gets a World Series ticket for good service

Seven years shy of his 100th birthday, Ben Bradlee died Tuesday.
And if you’re like me, who walked into a newspaper newsroom for the first time and knew he never wanted to work anywhere else, you felt sad that one of the lions of 20th century journalism is gone.

I can’t think of any newspaper writer who packed more amazing moments, accomplishments and had a bigger footprint on the world he inhabited than Bradlee. It’d be easier to list the things he didn’t do than those he did: Reporter at the Washington Post, Navy man in World War II, foreign correspondent, Newsweek bureau chief, philanthropist, fighter for just causes, best pal of John F. Kennedy, and his most important job, editor of the Washington Post for 26 years.

He is, of course, most famous for shepherding two young reporters named Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein through their world-changing Watergate break-in stories, leading to the resignation of President Richard Nixon. He was played memorably by Jason Robards (above) in the movie “All the President’s Men ” (a classic I’m sure I’ll be watching again over the next few days), but equally as important he made the gutsy, ballsy decision to publish the secret Pentagon Papers, detailing America’s blunders in Vietnam.

He was a First Amendment champion, a zealous fighter for his reporters in the newsroom, and a man who understood just how important a newspaper could be in speaking truth to power. (Vanity Fair put together a list of 20 great Bradlee quotes, it’s highly entertaining).

Was he arrogant, brash and stubborn as hell? Sure. But show me one great newspaperman who isn’t.

I’ve been lucky enough in my journalism career to meet a few people who’d worked at the Post when Bradlee ran the place, and one thing they all said was his most amazing trait was his enthusiasm for a great story. No matter what it was about, if it was well-reported and stylishly written, he loved it and couldn’t wait to get it in the paper.

In 1973, in the middle of the Watergate investigation, he wrote “As long as a journalist tells the truth, in conscience and fairness, it is not his job to worry about consequences. The truth is never as dangerous as a lie in the long run. I truly believe the truth sets men free.”

Ben Bradlee printed a hell of a lot of truth in his remarkable life. His are footprints that will never, ever be erased or forgotten.

**Next up, the brilliant John Oliver of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” is at it again: He had a hilarious segment Sunday night about the problem of the Supreme Court not allowing arguments to be videotaped and shown on TV, thus leaving us with only boring audio from some seriously important cases.

However, Oliver has a solution, and it involves animals, and it made me spit out my glass of water I was drinking when I watched it. I would SO watch something like this if it really happened:

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**Finally today, the great Kansas City Royals postseason winning streak crashed to a halt in Game 1 of the World Series, but hey, it’s just one game. The best story to come out of Game 1 had nothing to do with the game itself, though.

Monday afternoon the wife of Royals pitcher Wade Davis was eating at a local K.C. restaurant and apparently liked her service a lot. Liked it so much, in fact, that as a tip, she left waiter Ryan O’Connor a ticket to Game 1 of the World Series Wednesday night.

Very, very cool. Too bad the Royals lost

Ebola paranoia shows off worst of America. The amazing Peyton Manning, and other NFL thoughts. And Wright Thompson writes beautifully about Mississippi

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Saw this on Twitter Sunday and it made me laugh out loud:

“More Americans have been married to Kim Kardashian than have died from Ebola.”

It was a much-needed laugh, because I’ve become so sick and tired over the past week over “Ebola Paranoia.” Every news channel, every news website, has been stoking the fears and sounding the alarms, and scaring the bejeezus out of as many people as possible, about the Ebola virus and its affect on America.

For God’s sakes, I saw a news crawl on CNN that said “Americans stocking up on Ebola survival gear.”
It makes me sick how politicians just throw out stupid crap like calling our President “President Ebola,” and how he’s to blame for the virus infecting our country, and that the borders need to be closed to keep Ebola out (yes Rand Paul, keep saying stuff like that and you’ve got a fantastic shot at winning the GOP presidential nomination).
A Washington Post photojournalist who’d been to several of the African countries suffering from Ebola was disinvited from a scheduled lecture at Syracuse by the cowardly and pathetic administration there.  And there are a ton more stories like that, and a recent Washington Post poll showing 2/3 of Americans are worried about an Ebola epidemic breaking out.

The anti-immigrant racism, and complete ignoring of medical science, is disgraceful. There are currently THREE known Ebola patients in America, and only one has died. This is not an outbreak in America, this is not an epidemic, and we are not all at risk from a disease that’s really, really hard to catch.

This xenophobia is disgraceful, and America at its worst.

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**So this Peyton Manning fellow, is he any good?
Ever since he first came into the NFL in 1998, when I briefly despised him for not coming out of college a year earlier so my Jets could draft him, I’ve loved Peyton Manning. I love the way the ball comes out of his hand, a spiral so perfect it ought to be in a textbook. I love his confidence, his humility, and how he’s been the hardest worker on any team he’s been.
I care not a whit that he’s won “only” one Super Bowl and lost two others. He’s, in my mind, the greatest quarterback to ever play, and watching him break Brett Favre’s all-time TD record Sunday night was beautiful.

Couple other NFL Sunday thoughts;
— So it’s Week 7 now, and I think a few things have been established: The Falcons stink, last year was not an aberration. The Bears stink, and have locker-room issues. And the Seattle Seahawks ain’t repeating.  Forget the loss of Percy Harvin (more on him in a minute), they just don’t look anywhere near the same on defense.

– Did you see the incredible “fake” punt return the Rams  pulled off for a touchdown in that game? See it above if you haven’t. One of the coolest and most unusual plays I’ve ever seen, anywhere.

– Watched a lot of the Cowboys-Giants game, and what stuck out the most to me about why the ‘Boys are 6-1 is that they’re not beating themselves anymore. Last five years you could always count on Romo or Dez Bryant or a defensive player making a stupid mistake to cost ‘em the game. Now, they’re playing smart, disciplined football.

– So much for those new and improved Cleveland Browns, eh? Don’t get too used to that clipboard-holding, Mr. Manziel.

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**Finally today, two incredible and unexpected sports stories have happened this fall, and I don’t know which one is more shocking: The Kansas City Royals are in the World Series (that still doesn’t look right, even seeing it on the screen) and Mississippi, last in just about every vital U.S. ranking, is the center of the college football universe.
Mississippi State is currently ranked No.1, while Ole Miss is No. 3. Both are undefeated, and just for the sheer novelty of it, I’m rooting like hell for both to stay undefeated until they play each other right after Thanksgiving.

Wright Thompson is a Magnolia State native and an outstanding writer for ESPN, and he wrote this beautiful piece the other day on just what it’s like for Mississippians to suddenly have their teams be unbeatable, with a look into the past as well. Thompson is extraordinarily good at details; this is one of his best pieces ever. It’s long, but worth it.

 

More tales from a brand-new father (me). An epic mother-son wedding dance. And sea otters, just hanging out as friends.

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I’m now a little more than five weeks into this crazy, wonderful experience called parenthood, and never in my life have I thought the expression “you learn something new every day” more appropriate.

I am very lucky, I tell myself that every day. Lucky to have a wonderful wife, lucky that I have a pretty good sleeping baby, and lucky I’m able to be home with the little guy all day during these first few months.

Still, it continues to be … interesting. Some Daddy thoughts from a guy who still isn’t sure what day it is if it’s not the weekend (they’re all kind of running together):

– I continue to be amazed at the swing in his emotions, and how fast they change. The other night he went from “hysterical crying” to “calm” to “fast asleep” in 10 seconds. Seriously, 10 seconds. Wish adults could chill that fast.

–He peed on his own face while being changed last week. Hard to do. Can’t say that was anything I’d ever seen before. I couldn’t stop laughing and also felt so bad for him at the same time.

– Number of times per night I walk into his room and lean into the crib to see if he’s still breathing: 424. SIDS scares the ever-loving hell out of me.

– Sleeves. Man, sleeves are hard for me. Never thought putting a tiny hand under a shirt and through a sleeve would take 5 minutes. But yep, sometimes it does.

– New Yorkers are not generally known for being nice to strangers. But when you’re wheeling a stroller down the street, suddenly you’re a popular guy. The other day we walked 10 blocks and four different women stopped and cooed over him. I know I have very little to do with his cuteness but I still get a little thrill when people comment on him.

– The pacifier. My God, the awesomeness of the pacifier. I used to think electricity, or television, or air conditioning was the best invention ever. Nope. The pacifier is a life-saver and it could cost $1,000 and I’d still buy one. Instant calming device. Also, the sound of running water chills my boy out immediately. Something to do with reminding him of the womb, I’ve read. I don’t care if it reminded him of a herd of stampeding buffalo, as long as it quiets him.

–We’re in the phase of his life now where my wife has been told to exclusively breast-feed for a while, after we gave him breast milk in a bottle, and directly from her, for the first two weeks of his life. I feel irrelevant and useless at feeding time, and I can’t take over some of the overnight feedings like I had been doing. Just a helpless feeling knowing how much more exhausted your partner is.

– Finally, he got his first shot this week. Hepatitis B. I was worried about it all day, but it turned out fine. Also, he was hysterically crying at the doctor’s office right before the shot, so I don’t even know if he even knew he got it. His mood didn’t improve, but it didn’t worsen!

Small victories. It’s all about small victories.

**Next up, this epic mother-son wedding dance happened last spring, and has been viewed more than 8 million times, but I just saw it Thursday when my sister posted it to Facebook. It gets really good about 20 seconds in; man these two must have practiced a lot to get the timing this perfect. Guaranteed to make you smile.

**And finally, because it’s Friday and we all need cute animals in our lives sometimes, a couple of sea otters, just chillin’ out in the water at the San Diego Zoo, loving life:

Of course, that clip also reminded me of this hilarious Denis Leary clip from the 1990s about “cute animal auditions.”

James Risen is still being prosecuted, and Obama ought to be ashamed. The NYT takes 2nd-graders out for a fancy meal, adorably. And the new Pink folk song is awesome

I like a lot of things Barack Obama has done as President the last 6 1/2 years, and in hindsight I’m glad I worked so hard for him as a campaign volunteer in ’08 and ’12.
But there are two major promises he’s broken that still anger me all these years later: He has never come close to closing the Guantanamo Bay prison, which is a permanent stain on America, and he absolutely contradicted himself when he promised his administration would be the most transparent in history.

What Obama and his Justice Dept. officials have done to journalists over the past six years is unconscionable: More reporters and government leakers have been subpoenaed and prosecuted for writing stories about classified government information during the Obama adminstration than all previous Presidents combined. Combined!

The Justice Dept.has routinely harassed reporters, seizing records of phone calls and even charging another journalist under the Espionage Act.

The James Risen case might be the most egregious; the “60 Minutes” piece above does an excellent job of summarizing the case, and how ridiculous it is that Risen is being prosecuted for not revealing his confidential sources on the explosive NSA warrantless wiretapping scandal.

Hell, the former NSA chief himself, Michael Hayden, doesn’t think Risen should be prosecuted, yet the Justice Dept. charges ahead, and Risen could find himself in jail come January.

It’s disgraceful how much this President’s administration has tried to squelch the freedom of the press, and along with the wonderful Affordable Care Act, ought to be a major historical part of his record as well.

**Next up, this was a brilliant story idea by the New York Times Magazine staff. They decided to invite a group of second-graders from an elementary school in Brooklyn to one of the fanciest restaurants in New York City and serve them a 7-course tasting menu that usually costs $220 per person.

The reactions, noises and faces of the kids as they try caviar, Japanese snapper and other delicacies are hilarious.

“Why am I eating soap right now?” one kid exclaims.
Fantastic video.

**Finally, I’m a pretty big Pink fan, as I’ve expressed here on the blog a few times before. Seen her in concert twice and love her attitude, her music, and her general bad-ass-ness, if that’s a word. She’s never seemed like a typical rock star, and she always seems to be willing to take chances with her music and lyrics.

So I was really excited when I heard she made a folk album with a guy named Dallas Green. First single off it is really good (above), and I’m sure the rest of the album is fantastic, too.
I know they get mercilessly ripped for it sometimes, but I for one love it when successful singers completely go into another genre and try something new.

Though it is a little jarring to see a woman who wrote “You and Your Hand Tonight” doing soft folk music.

Where’s the media outrage about the second St. Louis police killing? Kids hilariously quote political climate-change deniers. And the Cleveland Browns are for real, and other NFL thoughts

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**Some Monday thoughts while contemplating the notion that the state of Mississippi is at the center of the college football world and the Kansas City Royals are the best team in baseball, and wondering what alternate universe I’ve wandered into…

One of the many valid criticisms of the American media that I spent a long time being a part of in my life is that the first incident of something controversial gets a huge amount of attention, and hours of television coverage and analysis, reams of newspaper ink and untold amount of Internet web hits.

Then, a few weeks later, a very similar incident happens … and almost no one cares. Everyone’s moved on, having used up their outrage, and no one seems to mind that the second victim is worth our attention just as much.

That’s what’s happened in St. Louis right now. The Michael Brown murder deservedly provoked anger and a furious response from African-Americans and whites alike, as a white police officer fired six bullets into an unarmed black teenager.
The police response to the ensuing protests was overblown and awful, and of course plenty of media attention was used on that.

Except now the Brown attention has died down and we had another awful St. Louis-area police shooting, you’re hearing very little about it.

Vonderrit Myers was an 18-year-old African-American killed last Wednesday by a 32-year-old off-duty police officer who was working a shift as a security guard. Myers walked out of a sandwich shop, and was shot at 17 times by the police officer.
The police say he had a gun. Witnesses, and Myers’ family, say he didn’t. There have been multiple versions of what happened told by the St. Louis police, as documented here, with details changing all the time.
And the security firm that employed the police officer in question has a history of being involved in police brutality cases.

And there are protests ongoing in St. Louis, people once again outraged… and the media coverage seems to be nowhere.

The New York Times is barely covering it, and CNN, MSNBC, etc. seem awfully preoccupied with Ebola and other matters right now.

And it’s a damn shame. Myers’ life was just as valuable as Michael Brown’s, and deserves just as much attention.

**And now, something a little more fun: little kids quoting some of our political leaders who don’t believe in climate change. Hilarious, and sad, because it really only takes a fourth-grader to understand that climate change is real.

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**Finally, some thoughts on an NFL Sunday that surprised, enthralled, and of course, enraged if you’re a Jets fan:

– Gang Green actually didn’t play that badly Sunday in the loss to Denver; Geno Smith did OK, and the defense did a pretty decent job on Peyton Manning. But fumbles, mental mistakes, and an inability to get one final defensive stop did ‘em in. So the Jets are 1-5, with a trip to the Pats on Thursday night looming. I’m sure that’ll be fun.

– No fan base had to be happier Sunday than Cleveland’s, and that’s just not a sentence you get to write very often. After 15 years of getting their butts kicked by the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Browns got a bit of revenge, destroying Pittsburgh 31-10. Only the second time since 2004 Cleveland beat the Steelers, and this Brian Hoyer kid looks pretty good, huh?

– Hell of a win for the Dallas Cowboys. Going into Seattle and winning is the hardest thing to do in the NFL these days. Cowboys are for real, and we all have to watch Jerry Jones gloat for a while. Also, heard a lot of Cowboys fans at the game making noise, how is that possible in Seattle?

Still, we all know Dallas is headed for 8-8 again like the last 3 years, so it’ll be fun watching them collapse.

– Bengals-Panthers was a hell of a game. No idea how Cincy can be a Super Bowl contender with such a leaky defense.

–And finally, if you watched Jacksonville vs. Tennessee, those are three hours of your life you’ll never get back. Yeesh.

Good News Friday: A wonderful dog rescue story. A football team of tykes takes on a pesky banner (and loses). And the best bank teller in Texas foils a robbery

And a Happy Friday to you! I’m happy because my son is a month old, the NHL season is back, and life is good.

First up today, a very cool and touching video of an animal rescue, where the human rescuers got quite a surprise when they tried to rescue a dog in the woods.
Really sweet stuff. And I’m not even a dog person.

**Next up, you may have seen this video from a few weeks ago that went semi-viral; it’s of a youth football team in Wallkill, N.Y., and their, ahem, mishap with a banner they tried to run through to celebrate a victory.

I laugh every time I see it, but I also loved that Steve Hartman and “CBS Sunday Morning” went to Wallkill to talk to the kids about the adventure for this really cute little piece.
“When you fall, you always have to get back up,” one tyke said.

Seems like he’s learned some good lessons already in his young life.

**Finally, this is good news because this fool in Texas finally got sentenced this week. Nathan Pugh’s crime happened last July, but it’s worth remembering for its hilarity, and the quick-thinking reactions of a bank teller.

Pugh walked into a Wells Fargo branch in Dallas and handed a note to the teller demanding money (the note also spelled the word “bomb” without the second b, so clearly Mr. Pugh was a rocket scientist.)

The bank clerk said that he could withdraw the money, but she needed to see two forms of photo ID first.

Pugh, being a reasonable fellow, complied, showing his Wells Fargo ID card and his Texas state ID card.

Pugh ran off with $800, but somehow, the police caught him.

I love it. I hope that teller got a big raise.

Goodbye, “Homeland,” I’m officially done with you. The app that helps you find people to cuddle with. And marriage equality has come so, so far

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I’m out. Done. Finished. See ya.
No longer will I be watching Carrie Matheson on Sunday nights, trying to protect America while acting like a crazy, narcisstic, impossible to root-for CIA agent.
I’m through with Peter Quinn, you lovable, seriously f’ed up in the head dude. No more Saul, no more Lockhart, no more insanely impossible plots.

If you have followed this blog for a while, you know that “Homeland” was once by far my favorite show on TV. The debut season four years ago was as good as any season of any show, ever. I thrilled to every episode, loved the writing, acting and plots, and expected “Homeland” to take its place in the pantheon.

Season 4 started Sunday. And it was crap. Utter, complete, pathetic, unwatchable crap. Never has a show gone downhill this fast, from so high to so low. I was pretty sure after last season’s horrible ending, with Carrie and Brody’s doomed love affair finally ending, and a woman who disobeyed every order she ever got somehow being PROMOTED to a CIA station chief job, that I was totally done with the show.

But I decided to watch the season premiere this week, just for closure and to see if maybe, maybe, the writers and directors had remembered what used to be great about “Homeland,” and get back to that.

But, nope. More insanity and stupidity. (SPOILER ALERTS COMING): 

We get a completely cold, unfeeling, impossible to like Carrie, giving not one shit about her baby daughter she’s abandoned, then trying to drown the child in the bathtub (and riding around with her in the front seat of a car!).
We get more bumbling, stumbling work from the CIA in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and yet more rewards and getting everything she wants for Carrie. (“You just helped get a station chief killed? Sure, you get to take over his job!”)
We get Peter Quinn speaking for ALL of us viewers at one point screaming at Carrie, “It’s not always about you!” We get Saul, always a great character, now reduced to a sidelight.

There is no one to root for on this show, no one to empathize with, except maybe this new Pakistani kid whose family was killed in a drone bombing gone wrong. (I guess we could root for Brody and Carrie’s spawn, but that kid’s going to have an awful rough life with that DNA in her.)

I just hate, hate, hate Carrie so much, and since with Brody dead she’s basically the whole show, that’s a real problem for viewers.

It’s just such a shell of its former self, “Homeland” is. Such a shame.

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**Next up, I thought this was a slightly strange but possibly cool idea for an app: A new Apple app called “Cuddlr” offers users the chance to find someone nearby to cuddle with.

The app’s website said it is based on “the belief that we don’t have enough opportunities for safe, consensual, non-scripted, communicative, fun, silly, serious, spontaneous physical affection carrying no further expectation.”

Essentially, a person who is interested in meeting up with someone on the list sends a cuddle request. The receiver has one hour to respond to the request, and if the receiver decides to accept, the two strangers can meet up for a cuddle.

Sure, you may get a weirdo or two. But who doesn’t want to just hug and spoon on the couch every once in a while? A writer from Yahoo! tried the app out, and wrote a pretty entertaining story about her experience.

 

The app’s website said it is based on “the belief that we don’t have enough opportunities for safe, consensual, non-scripted, communicative, fun, silly, serious, spontaneous physical affection carrying no further expectation.”

Essentially, a person who is interested in meeting up with someone on the list sends a cuddle request. The receiver has one hour to respond to the request, and if the receiver decides to accept, the two strangers can meet up for a cuddle.

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**Finally today, take a look at this map above; all the colored in states now, or soon will, legally allow same-sex couples to marry, following the Supreme Court’s refusing to hear appeals of laws overturning same sex marriage ban.

Look at that map and see that 30 states, 30, are now going to allow loving couples who were once ostracized in America, shamed and told that they were weird and different and weren’t worthy of marriage, join their souls in a loving union.
This has all happened so fast; 10 years ago no one could ever have predicted things would change this fast. But it has, and equality is here, and sometimes I think you need to just stop and look around and realize just how far we’ve come.
It’s a beautiful map, isn’t it?

Jerry Seinfeld savages the advertising industry, to its face. The Jets need to fire Rex, and other NFL thoughts. And Marriott reaches a new low in guest relations

One of the most famous and greatest episodes of “Seinfeld” is the two-parter that guest-starred Keith Hernandez and featured a hilarious scene based on the JFK assassination and all the insane conspiracy theories that surround it.

In one part of the episode, where Hernandez is on a date with Elaine, he’s debating whether to lean in for a kiss. In his inner monologue, we hear him say “Come on, I’m KEITH HERNANDEZ!” to pump himself up.

It was a hilarious line, one the sportswriter Bill Simmons has referenced many times to note a coach or player’s complete confidence.

I thought of that line Sunday night while watching the above clip, a speech Jerry Seinfeld gave after winning a CLIO award, the top prize in advertising/commercials.

In just more than four minutes, he satirically savages the ad industry right to its face, speaking complete truth and exposing ad reps for what they are and what they do.
And they laugh right along with him, at themselves. Jerry Seinfeld has reached a point in his life where he’s bullet-proof; he can get an award from people, make fun of them viciously, and still get cheered walking away.

He’s “Jerry Seinfeld,” and he can walk into any room he wants. I think it’s a fabulous speech, and 100 percent true. Good for him.

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**OK, so the New York Jets are atrocious, Rex Ryan should’ve been fired two seasons ago, and I have no interest in watching them anymore this season. I’ve also determined it will be considered child abuse by the authorities if I try to raise my infant son as a Jets fan.

Good, now that that’s out of the way, there was a whole lot of compelling football Sunday (and Saturday too, as I take a rare dive into the “amateur” ranks).

– Weren’t the Dallas Cowboys supposed to stink this season? I speak for most of America when I say I was excitedly counting on it.

– If you’re an Atlanta Falcons fan, how the hell do you figure out your team? Great one week, awful the next two. What a bizarre group to try to explain.

– How ’bout those Cleveland Browns? Another team that may not be any good, but they sure do play exciting games. Down 28-3 to the Titans, they score 26 straight and win 29-28. Seriously, the Browns are crazy-exciting, and Johnny Football hasn’t done squat yet.

– I laughed, very hard and often, at these ridiculous “rumors” and “sources” who are saying Tom Brady is miserable with the Patriots and may play somewhere else next season. The Pats destroyed the Bengals Sunday night, and the idea Brady will play in another uniform is as silly as Jeter playing for the Minnesota Twins this year. It ain’t happening.

– The Giants are clearly the best football team in New York again this year. Dammit, dammit, dammit.

– Peyton Manning, 479 yards, 4 TDs, against one of the best defenses in football. Ho hum, move along, nothing to see here.

– So, couple quick words on Saturday’s college football madness, which saw 3 of the top 8 teams lose: 1, Nick Saban cannot lose enough for me, as he stands out as a Calipari-ian a-hole even among college football coaches; 2., I think I’d like to see a game in Oxford, Miss. one day, looks gorgeous on TV; 3. This four-team playoff at the end of the year is going to cause just as many arguments as the BCS did, because everyone will have lost at least once.  But the playoff will be oodles of fun.

**And finally today, proof that hotels will stop at nothing to charge, or over-charge its guests.
Marriott was recently fined $600,000 by the FCC for intentionally jamming the wi-fi signals of conference attendees so they could force the guests to pay up to $1,000 for Marriott’s own network at the hotel.

I mean … how disgusting is that? That fine should be distributed to all who had to fork over the extortion money.

“Parenthood” is back, and it’s great so far. A worthy organization helps struggling new moms. And a wonderful Budweiser ad with a great dog

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Two quick thoughts before delving into Good News Friday this week: 1, A Happy New Year and an easy Yom Kippur fast to my fellow Jews out there; I fast every year but I don’t think I can pull it off this time, thanks to the new little dude in my house who wakes me up every three hours. I am learning to live without much sleep, but for me to go without sleep AND food for 24 hours? Sorry God, I’m sitting out this year.

And two, this doesn’t really have any place in today’s blog but I came across it Thursday and it cracked me up big-time: A TV editor named Ryan Case was on a flight recently behind an unruly passenger, and Case, God bless her, live-tweeted everything this horrible woman was saying and doing. It’s hilarious, check it out here, you won’t be sorry.

“Parenthood,” a show I often hate-watch but more often love and just get mad at it sometimes, is back for a final season, and that’s good news because as imperfect as it is, it’s still a wonderful show with great heart.
Last season infuriated me at times, mostly because of the idiotic “Christina running for mayor” storyline, but there was so much other good stuff that I was eagerly anticipating this year.

And through two episodes, “Parenthood” is back in fine form. (NO SPOILERS FROM LAST NIGHT’S EPISODE AHEAD, I PROMISE). The season premiere last week was fabulous, setting up the Amber pregnancy storyline (it’s in her contract that Mae Whitman has to cry every week, right?), Zeke maybe having a serious health condition, and of course, this year’s equally-insane Christina and Adam story about them opening a charter school just for their son Max (it’s insane not because it’s a bad idea, but because these people are broke, and have no idea how to run a school yet we’re just supposed to believe they can do it.)

Can’t wait to see if Joel and Julia get back together, and if somehow I can stop hating the Sarah-Hank relationship.

“Parenthood” being back makes me happy.

**The power of a commercial is often exaggerated, but if this beautiful Budweiser ad about the dangers of drunken driving makes even one person stop before grabbing the keys, it’s worth it.
I think it’s a really terrific ad, and I’m not even a dog person.

 

**Next up, I was reading the Sunday New York Times last week, catching up on older issues from early September, and read a typically-fabulous Nicholas Kristof column about an organization called the Nurse Family Partnership. What it does is send trained, qualified nurses into the homes of vulnerable first-time moms and their babies.

The nurses make repeated home visits from pregnancy until the child is 2, and they advise mothers on literally everything they need to know about caring for infants.

It’s a wonderful non-profit that is having a tremendous effect on helping parents raise children more effectively. Just check out this passage from Kristof’s article:

“The (Nurse-Family Partnership) visits have been studied extensively through randomized controlled trials — the gold standard of evidence — and are stunningly effective. Children randomly assigned to nurse visits suffer 79 percent fewer cases of state-verified abuse or neglect than similar children randomly assigned to other programs. Even though the program ends at age 2, the children at age 15 have fewer than half as many arrests on average. At the 15-year follow-up, the mothers themselves have one-third fewer subsequent births and have spent 30 fewer months on welfare than the controls. A RAND Corporation study found that each dollar invested in nurse visits to low-income unmarried mothers produced $5.70 in benefits.”

Yes of course because I’m a new parent I’m more interested in these kinds of organizations than ever before. But truly, NFP is doing outstanding work, and they sadly do not get anywhere near the funds they need.
To find out more or make a donation, check out their website here.