The “Serial” podcast is a must-listen to. “Shawshank” turns 20, and Andy Dufresne is still fantastic. And maybe the best NFL catch ever by Odell Beckham Jr., and other football thoughts


So I don’t know if you people are as into podcasts as I am, but if you are, I just about demand you start listening to “Serial,” if you’re not already.

It’s so addictive it ought to have an FDA warning on it. A spinoff from the wildly popular “This American Life,” “Serial” follows one Baltimore murder case from 15 years ago with a new episode every week, tackling a different aspect of the case.

The host, Sarah Koenig, is fantastic, walking you through all the twists and turns of the story of convicted killer Adnan Sayed, interviewing him, the friends and family of Hae Min Lee (the teenage victim, Adnan’s ex-girlfriend), and doing such a thorough investigative job that every week, I go back and forth as to whether Adnan really did kill her.

The podcast has blown up huge all across the world, becoming the No.1 download on iTunes; high school teachers are using “Serial” as part of their curriculum, and it may lead to the actual case being re-opened, since there seems to be more than  enough reasonable doubt about Adnan’s guilt (but like I said, that’s how I feel today; after the next show I may feel differently).

Seriously, it’s the best thing I’ve heard in a long, long time. Check it out on the “Serial” site here, or download it on iTunes. There have been nine episodes so far, but they’re each only about 35 minutes, so you could totally binge-listen and catch up.

**Two decades ago, a little movie based on a Stephen King book about life in a New England prison in the 1950s was released to very little fanfare. Nobody had any idea it would become a classic, one of the most beloved movies of all time.
“The Shawshank Redemption” blew me away the first time I saw it. And the second time, and third time, and every time I catch it on cable, which seems to be every week or two. It’s a near-perfect film, written, directed and acted so beautifully, by every person in it.
On its 20th anniversary last week, Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman and director Frank Darabont got together to discuss the movie’s meaning.
I went through a bunch of scenes before picking the above iconic one to put here; truly, this movie gives me goosebumps every time.
“Get busy livin’, or get busy dying.”


**OK, nothing that happened in the NFL Sunday, and there was a lot of great stuff happening, was as amazing as this: Odell Beckham Jr. of the New York Giants made one of the three greatest catches I’ve ever seen (one of the other ones was by a Giant, David Tyree, in the Super Bowl).
How does a human arm stretch like that? Is he Elastic Man? What an incredible talent.
Some on the Web Sunday night were calling it the greatest catch ever; not sure about that; the Tyree catch in the Super Bowl had bigger stakes. But man, this sure was sensational.

Odell Beckham Jr. Yet another fantastic rookie receiver in the NFL not drafted by the New York Jets. Sigh.

– Because I apparently love suffering when it comes to my NFL teams, I’ve been watching the Cleveland Browns a lot this year. They are wildly dramatic and entertaining to pay attention to, but boy, being a Cleveland fan has to be as brutal as rooting for my Jets.
Sunday they had a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter against Atlanta, had several chances to put the game away, saw Brian Hoyer throw two horrendous interceptions, then rallied to win after falling behind with a field goal as time expired.
Whew. Browns are 7-4, but I don’t know how. Nice to see Josh Gordon back on the field.

– Very cool touchdown celebration by Indy’s T.Y. Hilton Sunday; his wife delivered their first child earlier in the morning, and this is how he paid tribute:

– Would anyone be surprised if the Seahawks end up winning the NFC West after all? I know they’re still two games back of Arizona with four to play, but Drew Stanton is not an NFL starting quarterback, and he’s all the Cardinals have got for the rest of the year.

– Finally, seeing that damn Rob Lowe DirectTV commercial 14 more times Sunday is making me retroactively hate every character he ever played, including Sam Seborn. Enough, DirectTV, we get the message!

Good News Friday: Obama finally shows some cojones on immigration reform. The NFL player who gave it all up to become a farmer. And a sick boy in Connecticut lives his dream

Well, I sure wish he had done this before the recent elections, and it would’ve been nice if he got around to it about three or four years ago, but hey, better late than never, right?

Six years into his Presidency, Barack Obama has finally done what he long promised to do: He took bold action on immigration reform. He announced in a speech Thursday night that his record pace of deportations (faster and more numerous than ANY other President, by the way) would not be his sole legacy on this issue.
His executive action will allow 4.3 million undocumented immigrants protection from deportation; these are people who are mostly contributing to our society, working manual labor jobs for menial pay. Obama also announced the U.S. will be speeding up the visa process for recent grads of American colleges.

It’s not a path to citizenship, it’s not some ridiculous “amnesty” which the GOP will surely call it, and it might not even be as good as the bipartisan bill signed last year that the GOP right-wingers in the House refused to pass.

It was the kind of executive action that W. used all the time, and nobody on the right screamed about him overstepping his legal authority, there. It’s estimated that allowing these 4.3 million immigrants to stay, if they register and begin paying taxes should lead to almost $3 billion in new payroll tax revenue (that’s something the Republicans ought to support, more money, right?).

It’s an excellent first step, long needed.

**Next up, this was a highly unusual story that I loved, courtesy of the always-excellent “CBS Sunday Morning.” Jason Brown, a former offensive lineman for the St. Louis Rams, retired after a 7-year career in 2012, throwing away future millions.
He didn’t quit because he was sick or injured, he quit for a much better reason: He wanted to become a farmer, grow food, and feed the hungry.

If it sounds like the plot of a bizarre Hollywood movie, that’s what I thought too. But watch this three-minute video (above) and see what a special man Jason Brown is. He owns 1,000 acres of land in North Carolina, where this year he grew more than 10,000 pounds of cucumbers and 100,000 pounds of sweet potatoes, and gave them away to food banks in the state.

For one day, forget about the Ray Rices and Adrian Petersons of the NFL, and appreciate the quiet greatness of Jason Brown, a great human being.

(And oh yeah, this week he delivered his own child after a midwife couldn’t get there on time.)


**Finally today, a beautiful story of hope and friendship from Sports Illustrated’s Steve Rushin, as good a sportswriter as there is. When he was merely three months old, Dante Chiappetta was declared legally blind.

By age one, Dante was diagnosed with cerebral palsy but also found to have something called cortical visual impairment: His eyes were otherwise healthy but lacked critical connections from the optic nerve to the brain’s occipital lobe.

As Dante grew and learned to love sports, his family teamed up with an organization called Team Impact, which pairs sick children with college teams. (Team Impact is very similar to Friends of Jaclyn, an incredible organziation I support as a volunteer).
Dante’s team is the Yale football squad, and they’ve adopted him completely.

From Rushin’s story: “Dante attends weekday practices. On Saturdays he roars in anticipation of the afternoon ahead, with its blazing leaves and glinting sousaphones. Said Joe, “I’ve never seen him this happy.”

It’s a wonderful column, with great quotes from the Yale players about what Dante has brought to them.

Now at this Saturday’s Yale-Harvard game, I’ll be sure to watch and see if I can find Dante on the sidelines. I’m sure he’ll be the guy smiling the biggest.


Help me raise money for a soup kitchen in need. A baby drummer plays heavy metal. And the L.A. Times, inexplicably, cancels sick days and vacations


**Two quick thoughts before we get rollin’ on a Wednesday: 1, This Bill Cosby scandal is getting worse and worse by the day; these rumors about him and sexual assaulting women have apparently been around for years, but only now are more and more ladies going public with his behavior. If true, what a disgusting stain on a man so many admired.
And two, with most of the teams I root for having terrible years, I sure am glad to have college basketball back. Duke and it’s fantastic freshmen looked great in beating Michigan State Tuesday night. Gonna be a really fun year in college hoops.

I try not to ask my loyal readers for financial donations for causes, but for the second year in a row I’m breaking that rule, because my wife and I are once again raising money for the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen here in Manhattan.

One morning a week I volunteer a few hours there, on 28th St. and 9th Avenue here in Manhattan. Open for 31 years, the soup kitchen serves more than 1,000 meals daily, making it the second-biggest such facility in America (apparently there’s a bigger soup kitchen in San Francisco).

It’s a wonderful place, staffed by about 40-50 volunteers per day. Some of us serve the food, others clear the tables, hand out drinks, cut up vegetables in the kitchen, etc. And truthfully, it’s more than a soup kitchen; Holy Apostles also helps the homeless in so many other ways, with free counseling services, free haircuts and toiletries, and often blankets and other clothes, along with free legal services, too.

Funding, as you might expect, is always a problem for the soup kitchen; food donations do come in, but I’ve been told that 80 percent of the food and supplies is purchased by Holy Apostles (in case you were wondering, there is no religious affiliation with the soup kitchen.)

Once again the kitchen is having its annual Fast-A-Thon, where this Thursday volunteers like me will eat only one meal a day to “walk in the shoes” of our patrons, and we’re raising money to help support the great work the kitchen does.  I know the holidays are coming up and budgets are tight, but if you get any enjoyment from this blog each day, I’d ask you to please consider a small donation to our fundraising page.

Thank you so much, it really is a great cause.

**And now, an adorable baby named Wyatt, playing heavy metal on the drums, as his parents watch and videotape (somehow I don’t think my wife will let me try this with our 2-month-old son. But I’ve already sang some Guns N’ Roses to the boy when he couldn’t sleep, so there’s a good chance metal is already in his brain…)


**Finally, I thought I’d lost the capacity to be shocked at how horribly newspaper publishers and owners can treat their employees, having been a journalist for two decades and seen the horror stories.
But congratulations, Tribune Co. and the L.A. Times, you’ve managed to shock me.
I read this story Tuesday in the L.A. Observer, reporting on the Tribune Co., owners of the Times, eliminating sick and vacation days for all of the Times’ employees.

“Starting January 1, staffers will no longer be able to bank vacation — because they won’t automatically earn or be entitled to any vacation, sick days or floating holidays. To get any time off, a reporter or editor will have to go to a supervisor and make a case “subject to their professional judgment and to the performance expectations of their supervisor that apply to their job.”

So basically you have to prove, or justify, to your supervisor why you deserve a day off, a sick day, or a vacation.
How humiliating. How demeaning. Welcome to the newspaper world in 2014.



“Choose Your Own Adventure” books awakened my imagination. An incredible musical collaboration on a “God Only Knows’ remake. And a really bad day for the Manning family


I get nostalgic for a lot of things from my 1980s childhood. Hey, I’m a sappy, sensitive guy.
When John Hughes died, I was crushed and wrote a long piece about him. Whenever any relic from my past shows up in contemporary pop culture (like when a 2XL robot appeared in “Argo”), I get way too excited.
Last week I had another wave of nostalgia hit me when I read that the creator of the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books, R.A. Montgomery, died on Nov. 9.

Before I read and became obsessed with sports, before I tore through the “Little House” books and Encyclopedia Brown and a million others, I was totally enthralled with “Choose Your Own Adventure.”
I’d get one from our public library, or the school library at North Ridge Elementary, and I couldn’t wait to devour it. I’d read it as fast as I could, going through all the permuatations and possibilities (“well of course I’m going to follow the suspicious man into the bank, who wouldn’t?”), and then anxiously await my next library trip.

Those books opened my mind, and the minds of millions of others, to new ideas, new possibilities, and of course, new adventures. For a few hours I could forget where I was, and who I was, and go on incredible voyages without leaving my seat.

Thank you, R.A. Montgomery, for making my childhood a little bit happier, and giving me reading experiences I’ll never forget.

Very cool backstory on how the “Choose Your Own Adventure” series got started here, courtesy of

**Next up, my awesome friend Melanie pointed me to this on Facebook, and I’m so glad she did: The BBC and a charity called Children in Need, in England, got a Hall of Fame-level group of singers together to record the Beach Boys’ classic “God Only Knows” and perform in this awesome video.

Elton John, Chrissie Hynde, Brian Wilson, Stevie Wonder… the list goes on and on. The video is psychadelic and fabulous, and the song is timeless. Hope it raises a ton of money for charity.


**Finally, Sunday was a really, really bad day for the Manning family.
At least, the Mannings who make their living playing quarterback in the NFL.
Peyton and his team were stunned by St. Louis, 22-7, with the Papa John’s pitchman tossing a couple of interceptions.
And little bro Eli, well, Eli had one of those Eli days that crop up every season, where everything goes wrong, it’s not all his fault, but the stats look really ugly.
Eli tossed FIVE interceptions in a game the 49ers desperately tried to give to the Giants, but ole’ No. 10 just kept chucking it to the other team.

Yeesh, seven picks between the Mannings. Hope Archie didn’t watch any of it.

Some other NFL thoughts on a day when the Jets didn’t lose…

– Remember when Robert Griffin III was basically going to be the Redskins’ savior, and Barack Obama’s sports counterpart as a messiah, hero, etc.? Yeah, about that. Washington fans were chanting for Colt McCoy in the fourth quarter. Colt McCoy! As one Redskins fan on Twitter said aptly, “God is punishing Dan Snyder, and the rest of us (Redskins fans) are collateral damage.” Jason Gay of the Wall Street Journal forced himself to watch Bucs-Skins and wrote a really funny article about it here.

– The Jets are 2-8. The Giants are 3-7. New York football, it’s FAN-Tastic! Seriously, why would anyone pay money to go to the Meadowlands the rest of the year.

– The Atlanta Falcons are in first place in the NFC South. With a 4-6 record. And I just know in January a 10-6 NFC team like the 49ers will have to play a road game at 6-10 division champ Atlanta or New Orleans. Which is a disgrace. But that’s what the NFL guarantees a division champ: One home game.

– The Packers. I mean, 50-plus points in two straight games? Insane. Meanwhile, Mark Sanchez came back down to Earth, which all Jets fans enjoyed.

– Finally, two quick thoughts from the Sunday night game: Adam Vinatieri is 41 and still kicking 50-plus yard field goals; he’s gotta be a Hall of Famer one day. And two, someone named Jonas Gray scored four TD’s for New England, because of course any guy off the street could be signed by Belichick and be awesome. God, it gets tiring hating the Pats…

Good News Friday: A Michigan player who’s suffered huge losses finally gets a moment to celebrate. “Too Many Cooks,” a bizarre, brillant parody. And a great interview with 1980s actor Matthew Laurance.

College basketball season is tipping off tonight, and for hoopheads like me, that’s reason enough to smile today.

There are going to be all kinds of great stars on the floor this season, from Frank Kaminsky at Wisconsin, Jahlil Okafor at Duke, and the Harrison twins at Kentucky.
But maybe the best story of the season belongs to a kid you’ve probably never heard of. Austin Hatch is not expected to be a star for the Michigan Wolverines this season, but there may be no player more worthy of applause from crowds, because what Hatch has overcome in his life is beyond what anyone has had to deal with.

The 20-year-old has survived two plane crashes. The first crash, in 2003, killed his mom and two siblings.
Then, eight years later another crash killed his father and stepmother, and left Austin with serious, life-threatening injuries.
I mean, TWO plane crashes. Can you imagine the horror?
Hatch had previously committed to Michigan before the 2011 crash, and after a long recovery, he played one year of high school ball in L.A. before Michigan honored his scholarship.
He arrived on campus this fall and this week in the Wolverines’ first exhibition game, he hit a free throw. Check out the reaction of the crowd, his teammates, and classy coach John Beilein.

“The emotional pain is never going to subside,” Hatch said in 2013. “Over time, the way I cope with my loss is going to change.”

Austin Hatch made a free throw, and people went nuts. It takes away none of the tragedy of his life, but maybe this year on the court, he can find some peace from time to time. What a remarkable, brave kid, a feel-good story about refusing to let awful accidents keep him down.
Here’s a clip of him from The “Today” show this past summer.

**And now, a video that went insanely, hugely viral this week. If you haven’t heard the phrase “Too Many Cooks” over the past few days, you probably haven’t been on the Internet. It’s a video satirizing the opening credit sequences of old 1980s TV show, but it’s so, so much more than that. It’s bizarre and wonderful and hilarious and disturbing, and it was made by the Adult Swim folks at The Cartoon Network.

It gets weirder and weirder as the video goes along, but just keep watching.
I truly have no idea what kind of minds created this. But I’m glad they’re alive to think of this stuff.


**And finally, remember Matthew Laurance? If you’re a Gen X’er like me, of course you do. He was David Silver’s dad on ” Beverly Hills, 90210,” he was in the late great sitcom “Duets,” he was in “Eddie and The Cruisers,” and a million other things.
My boy Jeff Pearlman, as part of his ecletic and fabulous interview series on his blog called “The Quaz,” interviewed Laurance about his career, and he was brutally honest and gave great answers.

Check it out here; nice to see a humble, grounded actor who realizes that what actors do really isn’t that important.

Also, he trashes some of his own films, which is awesome.

New York City finally gets smart about arresting pot users. A retiring teacher gets a wonderful send-off. And the “anti-Jared from Subway” gets some revenge


If you don’t live in New York like I do, this story probably didn’t get much attention in your local newspaper or on TV.
But it’s a pretty big deal here, and I’m thrilled it is.

After years and years of promises to change New York City’s insane policy of arresting citizens caught with even a tiny amount of marijuana, Mayor Bill De Blasio announced the other day that from now on, New Yorkers caught with 25 grams or less of pot will be given a ticket, not arrested.

This is such a simple, intelligent change to America’s drug policy: Millions of people are slapped with a criminal record, and needlessly crowd jail cells, just for carrying a small amount of weed. Not selling it, not smoking it in public, not doing anything whatsoever other than carrying it. And yet we criminalize and stigmatize small marijuana users, while cigarettes and alcohol skate by scot-free.
How many police officers have their time wasted making small pot arrests? (A 2011 study found that NYC spent $75 million making pot arrests in 2010.)

How many stop-and-frisks that take place, primarily of young minority kids, are a complete waste of time when they result in a joint or two being found?

De-criminalizing marijuana possession is one small step on the road to a sensible drug policy. I know we’re miles, and miles away from actually stopping the prosecution of those who smoke pot, but hey, I’m a dreamer. This is a long-overdue first step by the city I love.

**Next up today, a wonderful video that just highlighted that made me feel good.  A first-grade teacher in Tennessee named Nancy Flexer is retiring after 41 years of service to her community’s students, and so an organization called “Kid President” decided to throw her a surprise going-away party.

They recruited a bunch of her former students, who over four decades had their lives shaped by this remarkable woman.

“I was a timid little blond girl, and your love for me gave me the confidence to grow into the woman I am today,” one former student says, wiping away tears.

The whole video is that good, and here’s some more background on Ms. Flexer.

Great teachers are the most precious resource we have.


**And finally today, this story cracked me up: An Alabama man named Zachary Torrence felt he was overweight and decided to try the “Jared from Subway” diet, trying to emulate the TV commercial star by eating Subway sandwiches three meals a day.

Unfortunately for Torrence, he didn’t lose weight. So to get his revenge, he robbed four Subway restaurants in the area to get his money back, he told police.

Oh, Zachary. Would’ve been so much easier if you just ate some fruits and vegetables.

On the plus side, chances are he’ll get to lose some weight in jail, I hear the food there stinks!


The Jets finally win, and I’m no longer a Red Zone Channel virgin. Matt Taibbi exposes more criminality at JPMorgan Chase. And a soldier learns to walk again


My son turns two months old today, and until Sunday his lifetime had not included a New York Jets victory.

And I sure as hell didn’t see that first win since the opening week of the NFL season coming yesterday, against Ben Roethlisberger, who had thrown 12 touchdown passes over the past two weeks.
But in one more reason why  I never, ever wager money on the outcome of a football game, the Jets dominated and befuddled Pittsburgh and left the 40,000 Steelers fans who invaded MetLife Stadium quiet and sitting on their Terrible Towels most of the day.

Look, I know it’s crazy to feel happy that a 1-8 team finally won another game, and I know it changes nothing. But for the first time all season, I actually smiled and marveled at my favorite football team, while being amazed at some of the things that were happening (the Jets caused four turnovers? And converted in the red zone? And the Steelers kicker shanked a 25-yard FG? It was bizarro world out there).

Two and eight is still a disgusting record, and maybe this win cost the Jets the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft and a shot at Marcus Mariota, the stud QB from Oregon. But you know what? I didn’t care. It was just nice to enjoy one tiny slice of this pathetic Jets season.

Some other NFL thoughts a typically dramatic football Sunday…

– So I finally was able to abandon Time Warner Cable and switch to Verizon Fios cable service last week, a move I’d been begging my apartment complex to allow since the day we moved in last year (Seriously, Time Warner is the worst company in America.) And with my new cable package came the slice of crack cocaine I’d heard about for years, but had never inhaled: The NFL Red Zone Channel.
Oh yes, I could finally see what the cool kids were watching.

For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, Red Zone Channel is like viewing football on speed: On this orgy of pigskin, you the viewer get bounced around to every single game where a scoring play either might happen or is about to happen, every time a team gets inside the 20-yard-line. Sometimes tje screen is split into 3 or 4 boxes if multiple teams are about to score, and all the switching is narrated by a dude in a studio pressing buttons furiously.


I have heard it’s more addictive than cigarettes and cocaine, but I dipped a toe in Sunday, watching some of the 4 p.m. games on Red Zone. It was dizzying and whiplash-y and sometimes they literally cut away from one game before a scoring player’s buddies had even reached the end zone to celebrate with him.

I’m a master at watching multiple games at a sports bar, but this Red Zone channel was just too herky-jerky for me. I’d be really getting into a game, and then suddenly be thrown over to another one. Red Zone Channel is perfect for our 2-second attention span world, but I didn’t like it.

I’m putting the pipe down and walking away.

-Nice effort, Bears. Always nice when you can turn off a game before the first quarter is even over.

– What the hell happened to Drew Brees? Didn’t he used to be an elite QB? He was pretty terrible, a lot of times, on Sunday.

– How much fun would a Detroit-Cleveland Super Bowl be? Talk about 2 tortured fan bases. I know it won’t happen, but both teams are in first place and man that would be fun. I have a feeling ticket prices would be through the roof because both teams’ fans would sell body parts to see their team in the Super Bowl.

– Finally, the NFL line of the day on Twitter from the hilarious @PourMeCoffee, about inept Jacksonville playing in London again: “We fought side-by-side with Britain to beat back Hitler and fascism and we send them the Jaguars twice in two years. Shame on us.”

**Next up, Matt Taibbi is back with another explosive Rolling Stone article, exposing yet more disgusting, criminal behavior from bankers and managers at JP Morgan Chase back in 2007 and 2008, behavior that helped lead to the economic meltdown in America.

A brave whistle-blower named Alayne Fleischmann bore witness to the NINE billion dollar fraud and has spoken out. The details are chilling and so brazen that it will make you angry all over again that none of the financial head honchos were ever sent to jail for what they did.
Just hideous.

**And finally, a heartwarming video from World Wrestling Entertainment, and yes I’ve never written that sentence before. A wounded soldier named Dan Rose stands and walks, in a beautiful moment that will hopefully brighten up your Monday.

Good News Friday: Questlove gives back to his community, big-time. An awesome glow-in-the-dark juggler mesmerizes. And a Siena College trainer gets his rings back, 25 years later


Questlove, the leader of The Roots band, has always seem like a grounded, sensible guy who has tremendous drumming skills and a wry sense of humor he displays sometimes on “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon.”

He’s also a very generous individual who supports his old hometown of Philadelphia very well.

This week Questlove went back to Philly to help out a school in need: His alma mater, Philly’s High School for Creative and Performing Arts, has lost nearly $1 million in funding over the past two years.
Questlove and fellow Roots member Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter (great nickname, by the by) have given $40,000 to launch a nonprofit that is designed to restore funding to the school.

“Even though we’d love to save each and every school, we felt we wanted to at least do our best to help the place that helped build this institution called The Roots,” said Thompson. “Hopefully, others will do the same for their schools as well.”

Good job, Questlove.

**Next, I thought this was mesmerizingly cool: A juggler named Greg Kennedy performing glow-in-the-dark juggling in soming called a “Conic 9 Ball Pattern.”
Stare at it long enough with some Pink Floyd playing in the background and, well, you get the idea.


**Finally today, this is one of those bizarre and quirky stories I love, that really don’t have much to do with the larger world, but mean so much to one person’s life.
So in the late 1980s, a young man named Greg Dashnaw became the head athletic trainer at Siena College, a small private school near Albany, N.Y. When Siena’s men’s basketball team made their first NIT, and then their first NCAA Tournament appearances in 1988 and ’89, Dashnaw was graciously given a commemorative ring by the team, just like all the players had received.

They were, not surprisingly, prized possessions. But in 1991, thieves broke in Dashnaw’s apartment and stole both keepsakes.

He figured they were lost to history, and was broken up about it. Only last week, though, the NIT ring was returned through an anonymous drop-off to the local police.
The Albany Times-Union newspaper did a story about the return of the ring, and how thrilled Dashnaw was to have them back.
The best part? The next day, another anonymous visitor to the police department said he had read about the first ring being returned, and brought in the second ring to be delivered back to Dashnaw.

“I almost fell down. I was shaking I couldn’t believe it. It just doesn’t happen like that. Now I guess I believe in miracles,” said Dashnaw.

What a wonderful, strange story. Good things happen every day, but sometimes they take 20 years…



Maybe my most depressing Election Night ever was even worse than I expected. And a fantastic Esquire story about solving the mass shootings issue


Well that sucked.

I went into Election Night last night with very low expectations, fully expecting the Republicans to take over the Senate, and probably win some governorships.

But the reality was so, so much worse than I expected. Just about every race that I was emotionally invested in, the candidate I supported lost. And it’s not just that: Just about ALL of the biggest horse’s asses who were running Tuesday night got re-elected, and some by much larger margins than I thought.

Rick Scott in Florida. Scott Walker in Wisconsin. Pat Roberts and Sam Brownback in Kansas. Mitch McConnell. Joni Ernst, your new bat-shit crazy Senator from Iowa.

The list goes on and on. I think the only other time I was this depressed on Election Night was 2004, when W. Bush got re-elected and I had no idea how America (and me) was going to survive four more years of him.

So depressed. Just went in and kissed my 2-month-old son, that made me feel better.
Some final 2014 election thoughts as I sit here in the wee hours, with my ginger ale and bag of Tostitos multigrain chips (a truly outstanding snack we’ve just discovered in my house):

– I gotta start with Rick Scott.  I lived in Florida for 5 years, and was there in 2010 when he first got elected. I know Florida’s a crazy state, much more conservative than people realize, and I know the Democrats have put up two straight really terrible candidates against him. (Really? We couldn’t do better than ex-Republican governor Charlie Crist?)
But I cannot for the life of me understand how anyone voted for Rick Scott and elected him twice to run a state.
He was a miserable candidate, and an evil, greedy governor. Within three months of his first term he was the most unpopular governor in America. And yet he just got re-elected. I will remain baffled by that forever.

– That said, I know Rick Scott has zero chance nationally. But Scott Walker? He’s starting to scare me. Three election wins in four years (one was a recall), not much national political baggage, and he destroyed an opponent Tuesday who was tied in polls with him. He’s hugely anti-union, loved by the Tea Party, and governor of a blue state. Plus he’s bought and paid for by the billionaire Koch brothers, so you know they’ll have his back in two years.
He’s got a great shot to get the GOP presidential nomination in 2016.

– It kills me that once again, the Democratic candidates ran far, far away from the greatest legislative achiement their party has pulled off in decades: Affordable, universal health care. Did any of them take credit for it, or campaign on it? Why were they so scared to tout one of the few things that’s actually gotten done in Congress the last six years?

– Chris Matthews is always the most annoying part of Election coverage for me. I watch MSNBC of course, because I love Maddow and most of their other commentators, but Matthews comes off as so smug and arrogant, I just can’t stand him.

– Mitch McConnell is your new Senate Majority leader. A man who said in 2009 that his No. 1 legislative goal was to make Barack Obama a one-term president. Yep, I have a great feeling bipartisanship and cooperation is about to ensue.

– Only bright spot Tuesday was that Scott Brown lost, this time in New Hampshire, after losing in Mass. in 2012. Best Tweet of the night said “Hey Scott Brown, Vermont has a Senate seat available in 2016!”

– I lied, there was one other bright spot: Voters in Oregon and Washington, D.C. approved pot legalization laws. Outstanding.

– OK, time for a mood-lifter. Take it away, Partridges…

Well, I feel better.

–Finally, the loss of the Senate doesn’t really bother me too much. Nothing was getting done on immigration, climate change, etc. in the next two years anyway. But the governorship dominance by the GOP really hurts, because sadly that’s where all the real legislation that affects people’s lives, longterm and short-term happens.

Politics sucks when your side gets slaughtered.

**Next up, I promised in Monday’s post to highlight another great piece of journalism I’ve read lately. Tom Junod of Esquire takes a look at a radical new way that a division of the FBI is looking to stop, or contain, the huge number of mass shootings that have gone on in America in recent years.

No, it’s sadly not about enforcing gun control laws or making it harder for people to get guns, because that’s never happening in the U.S. But it’s a strategy that’s really enlightening and fascinating to read about, basically learning to target “behavioral threats” in a different and more comprehensive way.
Junod does excellent reporting here, using one troubled kid who walked right up to the line of becoming a mass shooter and explains the psychology of what he thought back then.

Really great story here, I urge you to check it out.

A fantastic profile of the great Billy Joel, tortured genius. A girl with an inoperable brain tumor has an amazing day of hoops. And I hold my nose and praise the incredible Tom Brady


**Nothing to see up above, just Nik Wallenda walking blindfolded on a high wire, without a net, above the city of Chicago Sunday night. Insane.

I’ve really fallen down on the job lately in this space when it comes to recommending/highlighting great stories I’m reading. There’s so much out there that’s so well-written that I try to point readers toward, but the truth is I do a much better job of hyping great stories on my Twitter feed than I do here.

But I’m trying to rectify that this week with two posts about amazing journalism I’ve read lately. The first is this exquisitely-researched and composed profile of Billy Joel by Nick Paumgarten in the The New Yorker. If you’re a kid who grew up on Long Island in the 1970s and ’80s like I did, Billy Joel pretty much was the soundtrack of your childhood.
Even if you weren’t a fan, his music was everywhere, on every station, seemingly all the time.

I’ve always been a big admirer of his music, have a ton of his albums, and know all the lyrics to many of his songs (not that you asked, but my three favorite songs of his are “She’s Always A Woman,” “Goodnight Saigon,” and, “The Angry Young Man.”)

But Joel has always had off-stage troubles, from legal problems to drinking problems to women problems. He comes off as a hard guy to work with and to like, but Paumgarten does such a thorough, fantastic job in this story, and given so much access by Joel, that the reader is sort of forced to admire all that Joel has accomplished. And at 65, he’s still going strong, making $25 million for just a dozen concerts at Madison Square Garden in 2014.
A really terrific story; I know it’s long, but read it a little bit at a time when you can, it’s so well worth it.


**I’ve been following this Lauren Hill story for several weeks, and almost wrote about it a bunch of times. But each time I stopped, because I wanted to wait until it had at least a sliver of a happy ending, which it did Sunday.

Lauren Hill is a 19-year-old college freshman from Ohio. She was supposed to be a varsity starter for tiny Division III Mt. St. Joseph’s (OH) College this year, but as a high school senior she received some devastating news from her doctor: Lauren was diagnosed with a diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, or DIPG, which is a rare tumor that destroys brain cells and squeezes off vital functions.
It is inoperable, there is no known cure, and doctors told Hill this summer that she likely only had months to live.

Lauren still wanted to live out her dream of playing one college basketball game, and Mt. St. Joseph’s desperately wanted that for her, too.

And so the NCAA agreed to let MSJ move one of its early-season games up to Sunday, so Hill could play. A tsunami of love and support poured over her from everywhere in the world, with famous pro athletes, fans from as far away as Japan, and so many thousands of people in Cincinnati who bought tickets to the game.

Finally the game came on Sunday, and off the opening tap, Lauren Hill sank a layup. And the biggest cheer she ever heard erupted from the crowd. They gave her a standing ovation, and chanted her name, and … here, just watch. If you don’t get chills, check your pulse, you may not be alive.

Such a horrible hand Lauren Hill got dealt in life. There’s nothing anyone can do to get rid of her tumor, but they at least gave her one incredible day. Here’s a great story about her ordeal, and her wonderful day Sunday, and why Lauren Hill has inspired so many.

**And finally, a few words about a man who has tormented my football team for more than a decade. A man I loathe, a man I’m sick of, but a man I can’t help but stand in awe of after yet another phenomenal performance Sunday.

I speak of course of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who helped throttle the Broncos Sunday. Year after year, Brady, like Dan Marino before him, has driven a stake through my football heart, but leaving that aside, he truly is one of the five greatest quarterbacks I’ve ever seen play.

Every year, his supporting cast changes, he hasn’t had a good running game in a decade, and his receivers are rarely big-name guys. But Tom Brady gets it done, year after year, game after game. Sure he’s lost a couple of Super Bowls, but they weren’t his fault. The man is incredibly consistent, and at 37, still on top of his game.

I hate him, but he is a marvel and a legend. And he deserves all the accolades he gets.

Geez, you see what an eight game Jets losing streak does to me? I’m writing paeans to Tom Brady!