Greetings from the Pacific Northwest: Seattle’s very cool, but Portland makes me want to move there

 


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Hello wonderful readers! As I write this I’m spending my last full day on a vacation that I alternately don’t want to end, and also wish was over already (If you’ve been away for two weeks with your family, I think you know what I mean).

I write this from a Residence Inn-Marriott lobby in Seattle, as we’re finishing up our vacation in the place that worships both Frasier Crane and Kurt Cobain in equal measure.

Felt the itch to get a bunch of thoughts off my chest after being in Seattle and Portland for the past seven days; so glad we got to make this trip and sad my almost-2 year old won’t remember any of it.

After a week in the two cities, I can certainly see why everyone’s moving here. And I’ve seen enough clouds to last a year.

Some ramblings from my brain, which has to weigh heavier after a fortnight’s worth of wonderful eating…

— I loved both of these cities, and each are very distinct, but I have to say, I loved Portland a little better. The vibe in Portland was different from any other city I’ve been in. The people were incredibly friendly, in an offbeat/weird sort of way. The restaurants were great, the Children’s Museum was the best I’ve ever seen anywhere, and I had maybe the best breakfast dish of my life at the Waffle Window, a famous local eatery where I ate a blueberry cheesecake waffle that I’m still thinking about a week later. We had some Voodoo Donuts, dined at the Portland City Grill on the 30th floor of a business tower for our anniversary and saw the city at night, and had a great hotel experience.

In short: Portland rocks.

–A huge highlight for me in Portland was Powell’s Books, a nirvana for writers like me. The legendary Portland bookstore with more than a million books was two blocks from our hotel and I spent a combined three hours there over two days, and easily could’ve doubled that. I think I showed great restraint only buying four books. I said to the guy that he must hear this a lot, but that I had to leave then before I bought any more books. He said, “Yep, all the time.”

— They take recycling VERY seriously up here in the Pacific Northwest, and the people are pretty damn cheerful. Not surprisingly, the local babysitter we hired to watch our little guy one night in Portland was awesome and oh yeah, she’d been an extra on “Portlandia.”

— My son was amazing the entire trip; truly, he has completely spoiled us. Ate new foods, slept great, rarely kvetched as we schlepped him around, and was so friendly to everyone (while changing him in a men’s room in Seattle he said “Hi!” and “Bye!” to every single person who came in for like three minutes). He yelled “18!” when we entered any elevator, since that’s the floor we live on at home, and he could’ve spent a week at the Children’s Museum in Portland (seriously, if you have kids and ever go to Portland, you must go there.)

— Seattle was wonderful as well; really great seafood and very cool vibe, but definitely felt more like a big city. Have to say, the Space Needle a little disappointing (that was Nate’s one cranky day) and the EMP Museum, the huge music experience center that Paul Allen created, was only so-so.

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But the Ferris Wheel was super-cool (we saw a guy propose to his girlfriend at a few hundred feet in the next wheel over, which was entertaining), Pike Place Market showed us flying fish and great eats, and Chihuly Glass Museum was fantastic.

— The little convenience details of a hotel are so important; here in the rooms in Seattle they have the power outlets built in to the bedside table lamps, so you can just plug in your phone and iPad without having to fumble around for the outlet behind the bed or somewhere. To me, that’s huge.

–I will say this about Seattle: I’ve visited a ton of American cities, and I’ve never seen more people wearing local team gear than here. I mean, everyone was wearing Mariners or Seahawks jerseys, hats, or T-shirts. It was amazing. This city is sports-mad, and it’s a damn shame their NBA team was stolen.

— Speaking of which, it was fascinating being here while the Oklahoma City Thunder-Golden State Warriors series is going on; the Thunder, of course, were the Seattle SuperSonics before owner Clay Bennett moved them to Oklahoma. People here HATE the Thunder, with a passion. Every local I talked to was rooting for Golden State to win, so they were pretty happy Saturday night.

There really ought to be an NBA team here.

— Finally, I love the 20-minute mini-relationships you have with people on vacation. You’re standing in line, or on a ferry or a monorail or a streetcar, and you talk to them, learn their whole story, tell them your story, then the line ends and you get in somewhere and you never see them again. But for those 20 minutes, they kept you entertained. So much fun learning about new people.

Vancouver is remarkably clean, environmentally-friendly, and filled with good food: My kind of town

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Greetings from the land of Canucks fans and legal marijuana cafes. It’s Sunday and we’re just about to leave the first stop on our trip, the lovely city of Vancouver.

Considering my most recent lasting image of this city was the ridiculous riots the denizens of the city put on after the 2011 Game 7 Stanley Cup Finals loss, I was hoping for the best on this trip.

And the best I got. Loved this city from the time after I walked the 11 miles from the airplane gate to the baggage claim upon arriving Wednesday night (OK maybe it wasn’t 11 miles, but it was really freaking far).

We had a wonderful time, our little guy loved it, and of course I have a few thoughts on the one place in Canada that doesn’t get a ton of snow:

— First things first: My little toddler survived his first airplane flight just fine. Was looking a little scared for the first 10-15 minutes or so of the flight, but then fell asleep and blissfully stayed that way until about 15 minutes before we landed. No ear-popping issues, no screaming… he’s just the best.

— OK on to Vancouver. First of all, I have never in my life been in a city that’s more environmentally conscious. I mean, recycling bins are EVERYWHERE here, and not just recycling bins, but composting bins and separate garbage cans for everything. I knew I was somewhere special in this regard when we passed a pizza place on Granville Island that had a sign saying each customer would only be given one napkin per slice of pizza. The water fountains in the museum have a button for filtered water, so you don’t have to throw out our Aquafina or Dasani bottle when you’re done with one serving.

Truly, it was amazing how environmentally aware the city is. Great to see.

— To that end, I was surprised at how clean the city’s streets were. Maybe it’s because there are so many garbage bins everywhere, but there wasn’t much litter, anywhere.

— In case you’re wondering what the world record is for most strollers in one building in the world is, I’m going to go ahead and declare it’s definitely the Vancouver Aquarium’s record. We went on Thursday and my God, it was like Grand Central Station at rush hour, times 10. We were pushing Nate around and literally never went more than three feet without seeing another toddler or baby.

— The Aquarium was awesome, by the way. Highly recommend it.

— So this was different: On our way into Stanley Park on one of the days there were volunteers (or maybe they were city workers?) passing out fliers to each car reminding us about car thieves, and to take our valuables with us, etc. I saw signs about car thefts all over town, like, way more than you’d ever normally see.

I asked our hotel manager about it and he said, no, there haven’t been a rash of break-ins lately or anything, but they really want tourists like us to be careful, so we don’t get robbed and then go home with a bad feeling about Vancouver and telling everyone not to go there.

Made sense to me. Tourism is huge economically.

— Finally, can’t tell you how nice it is to walk into any restaurant or bar in Vancouver and find hockey on all the TV’s. That doesn’t happen in New York or anywhere in America. It was fabulous.

 

 

The blog’s going (mostly) quiet for 2 weeks, as the family takes a big trip. And sexism alive and well on TV news in 2016, as a weather forecaster is told to button up

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Every once in a while, a man needs to do something a little crazy, a little bit different, a little bit out of the ordinary.

For me that used to mean jumping out of a perfectly good airplane, or eating milk with meat.

Now, in 2016, it means taking a not-yet 2-year-old on his first flight, a 2-week journey to Vancouver, Seattle and Portland.

Yep, the Lewis family is going to a land far, far away for two weeks, and for the first time in a long time, I won’t be blogging much (please stifle your cheering).

I’ve been fortunate enough, thanks to my itinerant journalism career, to travel to almost every part of the United States. I’ve been to the Deep South, the Midwest, California, Texas, and all kinds of cool places in between.

But forever and ever I’ve been hearing family and friends talk about how beautiful, cool and fun the Pacific Northwest is, and I’ve been wanting to go for a long time.

And so with our little guy now almost 2, we decided to take the plunge. A six-hour nonstop night flight to Vancouver should be a good test on just how awesome our son is.

Truly, I’ve heard the horror stories from other parents about first flights with babies, but our little guy has the temperament of the Dalai Lama, so I’m feeling confident it won’t be too bad.

Once we get there, I’m super psyched to see Vancouver, to see Butchart Gardens in Victoria, to check out Frasier Crane’s city and the Space Needle and Pike’s Place Market, and delight in the weird wonderfulness that is Portland (and see Powell’s Books, the world’s biggest bookstore and a place I plan to roam around for hours. Family, what family?)

Anyhoo, it should be awesome. My recent herniated disc injury has slightly dampened my enthusiasm the past two few weeks, but it’s starting to get better (hooray for cortisone shots!) and I should be good to go.

It’s possible I may blog once or twice from the road, if I’m excited about something and can’t wait till we get home to write about it.

But if not, please come back here around June 1, I’m sure I’ll have some cool stories or at least, news that I’m moving to Seattle immediately (I hear the coffee there is great!).

**Next up, today, this was a sign of how society is just as sexist as ever, and maybe the biggest overreaction I’ve seen in the media in at least a week or two.

KTLA Los Angeles weather forecaster Liberte Chan was doing her forecast Saturday morning in a black dress that, while OK, not something I would wear, wasn’t really all that much to get excited about.

And yet, apparently the station was deluged with emails complaining, and so one of the anchors (wait for it) handed Chan a sweater. To put on. On the air!

I mean… how ridiculous could you possibly be? Chan seems completely stunned by what was going on, as I’m sure anyone would be.

Just so stupid, and demeaning, in 2016, to do this on live TV.

**And finally today, since there will be no Good News Friday post this week, I leave you with this piece of good cheer, from Upworthy.com

It’s how the city of Albuquerque, led by its mayor, decided to put homeless people to work and beautify the city at the same time.

Such a simple idea. Such a great idea.

Have a great week everybody!

 

“Money Monster” had such great potential, but it was an entertaining mess. Trump on Hillary from 2012, he loved her! And a very-cool softball leap onto home plate

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It is exceedingly rare that the wife and I see a movie the first weekend it comes out.

But owing to a long-planned “date night,” the fact we’re going to be vacationing with our almost 2-year-old for the next two weeks (more on that in Wednesday’s post), and the fact that “Money Monster” looked so damn good in the trailers we’ve been seeing, we went out Saturday night to see how good a Julia Roberts-George Clooney movie about a hot-shot money maven and the troubled investor who takes him hostage live on TV could be.

Man, I had such high hopes for this flick. Jodie Foster directed, the premise (how the financial markets are all rigged and only a few people are in on the con) is timely, and it seemed like it couldn’t miss.

But boy, was I wrong. Such wasted potential, “Money Monster” turned out to be. Let me start by saying that while it was a mess of a film, it was an entertaining mess. In that, even as I was watching it and getting annoyed/mad at the turns it was taking, I had to admit it was fun to watch.

So what was wrong? Lots of things. First, the tone of the movie shifted every five minutes. First it was a snappy comedy with great banter even in tense situations between Clooney’s Lee Gates,  his director Patti (Roberts) and others. Then it gets serious when troubled and now broke Kyle Rudwell (Jack O’Connell) takes Gates hostage live on the air.

And for a few minutes, the movie really sparkled, as Kyle raged at the unfairness of the system, and we slowly got to see Gates reveal himself as a human being and not just a TV character who loves money.

But the movie shifted tones four or five more times after that, for no apparent reason. It was like Foster couldn’t decide which movie she wanted to make, a drama or a comedy, so she made both.

There were also, of course, huge gaps in logic and plot, leading to an “action scene” and “feel good”resolution at the end that almost but didn’t quite work, since they rushed through the important details over how the movie’s villain Walter Camby (Domenic West) managed to lose his investors so much money.

Clooney was good, and Roberts was stellar like always, and the movie looked great visually. But with this caliber of acting and directing talent, this movie could’ve been so, so much more.

What a shame.

So every day, several times a day now, there emerge more ridiculous and in any other election, disqualifying facts, stories and pieces of video about Donald Trump. Honestly I try to ignore them and not waste time and effort blogging about 99 percent of them, because there’s just so much. But two pieces of Trump-analia  I found interesting over the weekend: first, I saw this clip (above) from March, 2012, with Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren, of The Donald talking about his huge respect, admiration and personal like toward the woman he’s going to spend the next five months trashing and calling every name in the book.

Sadly, this guy above is revealing his true feelings about Hillary Clinton; the cartoon showman we’re watching now in 2016 is merely a character. If I were a Democratic Super PAC I’d be running that clip as an ad in all 50 states, every week.

The other “big reveal” over the weekend was the wholly unsurprising but still pathetic fact that in the 1980s and ’90s, Trump used an alias named “John Miller” to call magazine and newspaper editors and pretended to be a publicist urging positive coverage of Trump.

When, in reality, it was Trump, calling and bragging about his friend Trump.

If you were to create this “Donald Trump” person in fiction, nobody would believe he was real.

**Finally today, Army softball player Kasey McCravey had maybe the athletic feat of the weekend on Saturday in a game against Lehigh.

Watch this creative and awesome way to avoid getting tagged out at home plate.

Good News Friday: A little boy’s dance at first base goes viral, and gets him with big leaguers. The guys who bought a baby present after getting an accidental text. And an awesome scorpion kick goal

And a Happy Friday to all of you out in Internet-land. We’ve just had two straight nights of Stanley Cup playoffs featuring Game 7’s that stunk, but other than this little herniated disc in my back, I still say life is good.

We start Good News Friday with a little kid dancing, which is how we should start every day.

3-year-old Cooper Buell, new T-ball star, got a hit a few weeks ago during a game. So when he got to first base, he decided to do a little dance. That boy shook it and shook it some more, and it quickly went viral.

So Bank of America decided to give Cooper a little surprise: They brought him to Minute Maid Park to meet the big-league Houston Astros. Check this out…

See, not all giant corporations are TOTALLY evil.

**Next up today, proof that even mis-sent text messages can sometimes lead to good outcomes. We’ve all accidentally sent texts to people we didn’t know; I had a great laugh a few  years ago when I got a text from the same area code of my cell telling me “I’ll be over in 20 minutes so leave the door open alright Jeanie.”

When I wrote back telling this guy he had the wrong number, he texted back something like “Don’t fuck with me tonight, OK, I’ve had a bad day and I’m not in the mood for your jokes!” I’m guessing Jeanie didn’t have a fun night with this dude.

Anyway, I digress.

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On March 19, Mark and Lindsey Lashley of Georgia welcomed their first child Cason, a healthy baby boy, into the world. Nothing out of the ordinary there.

Then Cason’s grandmother decided to send a text to family members about her newest bundle of joy. Again, nothing unusual there either.

But when that text went to a stranger named Dennis Williams, and he decided to join in on the celebration, things became even more interesting.

Williams wrote back that even though he didn’t know the Lashleys, since he was part of the text stream he’d come by with presents. Cason’s grandma thought he was joking, but nope, there Williams and his brother are, hanging out at the hospital after bringing baby gifts.

I loved the comment at the end by the Lashleys: “If only we all had this heart.”

**And finally today, a feat of amazing soccer-ness. This is a scorpion-kick goal scored by a 14 and under Brazilian player named Thomas Luciano

An incredible speech, and a sweet hug, remind me what we’ll miss when Obama’s gone. And a real-life version of “The Americans” happened a few years later.

It is easy, now in the beginning of what will be a long, ugly and historically expensive fight to be the next President of America, to romanticize the past.

To remember how hopeful, how enthusiastic, how downright excited millions of us were eight years ago at this time, when a totally new kind of President, a different kind of person than we’d ever campaigned for or tried to get elected, actually shocked the world and got the job.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Barack Obama in the past few weeks, about how he has restored decency and honor to the White House, how after consecutive presidencies marred by blow jobs and death-causing lies and stupidity, he has simply kept his head down and against more dug-in opposition than any President has faced, done a damn good job.

He will be greatly missed, even by those of us who got mad at him sometimes for not accomplishing everything. Two things over the past week made me realize just how terrific a man we’ve had as President really is.

The biggest nostalgia moment for me came when reading and watching Obama’s mesmerizing commencement speech at Howard University last Saturday (it’s embedded above; click here if you just want to read it.) It was an astounding, uplifting, powerful speech, one I think was maybe his best since the 2008 campaign. It was honest and challenging; soaring and grounded in humility all at the same time.

The part that struck particularly for me, as a liberal who has seen freedom of speech suddenly become optional at many college, was this passage:

So don’t try to shut folks out, don’t try to shut them down, no matter how much you might disagree with them. There’s been a trend around the country of trying to get colleges to disinvite speakers with a different point of view, or disrupt a politician’s rally. Don’t do that — no matter how ridiculous or offensive you might find the things that come out of their mouths. Because as my grandmother used to tell me, every time a fool speaks, they are just advertising their own ignorance. Let them talk. Let them talk. If you don’t, you just make them a victim, and then they can avoid accountability.

Exactly. Let the fools speak, then ignore and refute.

It’s a sensational speech, one that moved me to Tweet at Jon Favreau (not the actor, the Obama speechwriter) Saturday night after reading it and asking if Obama wrote it.
Because Twitter is awesome and you have access to people like Favreau who sometimes are nice, he replied that he heard Obama had ” quite a bit to do with it.”

Not surprised. I’m also not surprised by this super-cute video. The President came to Flint last week to discuss the indefensible water situation there, and 8-year-old Amariyanna Copeny was there to greet him. She wrote Obama a letter asking him to come visit, so she is “credited” with helping get him to Michigan.

When they met, well, this happened.

I’m really going to miss this guy. And I’m not alone.

**Finally today, I haven’t been writing much about the best show on TV, “The Americans” this season because we’re usually a few days late watching it, but it has been as incredible as ever (Tangent: My head is still spinning from watching the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas movie “Confirmation” this week and seeing Poor Martha from “The Americans” playing Thomas’ wife in the flick. Martha, how could you go from Clark to Clarence Thomas???) .

Anyway, as fabulous as “The Americans” is, this true story about a real American couple whose teenaged kids one day discovered their parents were Russian spies is mind-blowing. Donald Heathfield and Tracy Foley lived a normal life, so everyone thought, until in 2010 when the FBI showed up.

Tim and Alex Foley tell the story of how their parents’ double-lives were revealed in exacting detail. Truly a fascinating read.

Though I think the tale Henry Jennings from “The Americans” will one day tell a psychiatrist might top it.

 

An Australian teacher becomes a hero on airplane, doing what comes naturally. 65-year-old pitcher Bartolo Colon is just the best. And Bernie’s right about needing a left-wing Fox News

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I usually save stories like the one I’m about to share for Good News Friday’s, but this one moved me so much I kind of feel like I need to share it right away. Plus, it’s nice to start off Monday with a happy tale.

I’ve written before in this space about my buddy Konrad Marshall, a native Aussie and fantastic journalist who I worked with many moons ago. Konrad and his terrific wife, Nikki, moved back Down Under a few years back, and he’s now writing for “The Age” newspaper there.

This weekend he shared the story of Sophie Murphy, a special education teacher in Australia who was on a flight from Sydney to Melbourne a few weeks ago, when something very unusual happened.

A 14-year-old boy with Down’s Syndrome was feeling unwell, and laid down in the aisle of the plane and could not be moved, not by anyone. The plane could not land, 179 other passengers were stuck, and so the pilot, with nothing else having worked, asked:

“Is there a teacher on board this flight? Is there a special needs teacher on board?”

There was. Murphy, 42, is a teacher of two decades experience, now lecturing and completing a PhD at the University of Melbourne.

And how Murphy got this boy to feel better and help him through the flight is just beautiful. Read how she did it here.

“”Teachers get such a bad rap,” she says. “I was proud to go back there, knowing I could help. This is what every single teacher does, every single day.”

What a wonderful woman. This story, by the way, has gotten huge attention in America the last few days, NPR’s Weekend Edition interviewed Murphy here.

**Next up today, this may sound crazy talking about a 42-year-old pitcher, but Bartolo Colon might be the most fun player to watch in Major League Baseball right now.

I’m at best a casual fan of the sport, but whenever Bartolo does something goofy or incredibly athletic, I can’t stop smiling.

So Saturday night, when Bartolo hit his first career home run and his teammates and the Mets announcers went nuts, it blew up Twitter and made me really happy. (OK, Gary Cohen on the call maybe got a little carried away calling it “one of the greatest moments in baseball history.”)
Colon is just a wonder. God bless him.

**Finally today, I must admit that as Bernie Sanders’ chances for winning the Democratic nomination have officially been reduced to nearly zero, I haven’t been paying as much attention to his day-to-day interviews.

But he said something to Rachel Maddow the other night that caught my attention, and it’s something more Democratic politicians and future leaders should also be talking about.

Bernie said, “I think we have got to think about ways that the Democratic Party, for a start, starts funding the equivalent of Fox television.”

This has long been a sore spot for Democrats. Fox News, over the past 20 years, has become an enormous boon to the Republican Party, parroting out talking points, helping build up stars in the party by giving them tons of air time, and, sad but true, driving so much of the debate in this country to the right.

And Fox News exists because Rupert Murdoch, who has 84 gazillion dollars, decided in 1996 that he wanted to start a political cable channel that would put his points of view out front.

And it has worked incredibly well. With Donald Trump being a rare outlier (in this and everything else, it seems), Fox News makes or breaks candidates and issues.

And the Democrats, we don’t have anything like that. We’ve got billionaires, but not as many, certainly not as many in politics. And if we ever got a true blue cable channel dedicated to putting forth liberal, progressive ideas, maybe the dialogue would change a little bit in America.

I know MSNBC sorta half tried the last few years, and Air America radio almost kinda worked. But I’m talking about a huge investment, long-term, in a channel that would do for progressives what Fox News has done for conservatives.

Since so many people get their news only from TV, and since so many of our “mainstream” networks refuse to call out GOP politicians on outright falsehoods, I think a progressive TV channel it would go a long way toward giving Democratic issues the kind of “equal time” they don’t get elsewhere.

I know, I know, I’m dreaming again. But it really is a good idea.

Good News Friday: A powerful salute to Moms of all kinds. Ida Keeling is a badass 100-year-old runner. And a crooked police officer and the man he put away become friends.

And a Happy Friday to you, and more importantly, Happy Mother’s Day to all the wonderful moms out there.

I am ridiculously blessed in this area; I have the best Mom in the world (my own), fantastic Moms in my stepmother and mother-in-law, and my wife is a beautiful, warm and oh-so-caring Mom to our little boy as well.

I was looking for something a little different to salute the millions of great Moms out there, and I think this ad, from Teleflora, qualifies. It shows us Moms in all walks of life, with some great Vince Lombardi quotes thrown in by the voiceover actor. It’s really pretty powerful.

Powerful, sweet, and oh so crucial: Moms rule.

**Next up today, the amazing Ida Keeling, who at 100 years old (soon to be 101) ran a 100-meter dash last week at the Penn Relays, finishing in 1 minutes, 17 seconds, a world record for her age group (OK, there probably weren’t TOO many other competitors in her age group, ever). When Ida was 99, I wrote about her awesomeness, and never thought I’d be writing about her again.

But the century-old Ida then celebrated her race last week by doing pushups (seriously) and talking about her philosophy of life, and staying young.

She continues to amaze. God bless her.

**

Finally today, the great Steve Hartman from “CBS Sunday Morning” is back with another heartwarming tale of an unlikely friendship.

Jameel McGee was arrested by police officer Andrew Collins in Benton Harbor, Mich. in 2005, for possession of, and dealing drugs. Only, McGee didn’t have any drugs on him at all, and Collins falsified the report of McGee.

McGee ended up doing four years in prison, and Collins was eventually caught and served jail time as well.

Now, they’re co-workers and buddies.

Wait, what? Watch their highly unusual but true story above. I’m not sure if I was McGee I’d have been so forgiving, but it’s great to see something positive come out of something so awful.

 

The little kid who took NPR off the air briefly. James Corden and Gwyneth Paltrow do “Toddlerography” and it’s hysterical. And an NFL player’s fabulous essay on masculinity and rape culture

I’ll try to somehow carry on with my life now that our Lord and Savior Ted Cruz has announced he’s no longer a candidate for President. I’m not going to lie; it’s going to be hard. (that GIF above just keeps making me laugh, though. Poor Heidi Cruz).

But we must soldier on, as we scour the Internet for Cruz-Fiorina 2016 merchandise, and try to get our heads around the fact that John Kasich is the only challenger left on the GOP side, and who the hell would’ve predicted that six months ago?

Our first story today is one I found really funny; Take your Child to Work Day has become a pretty big thing in our country the last decade or so, and of course, when little kids come to the workplace, accidents are going to happen.

But this accident was a beaut: One of the little tykes brought to work by NPR employees accidentally knocked the entire station off the air for a little more than a minute.

“During a bring your kids to work day tour today, some of our junior visitors pressed some buttons that affected a portion of the 11 a.m. ET newscast that can be heard on a limited number of West Coast stations,” said Isabel Lara, NPR’s director of media relations. Not all stations were affected,” she said. “It was an educational day for us as well as our kids.”

More specifically, “one of our junior journalists was somehow able to press the exact sequence, and perfectly timed live insert panel to insert studio 42 into the stream 1. I kid you not,” an NPR employee email read. “Feel free to giggle at will.”

I love it. Dead air caused by a 10-year-old. Think the kid’s parent who did it might be a little made fun of for the next 100 years or so by co-workers?

“Wait, Mommy, if I press this button, what happens?”

**Next up, even if you, like me, think Gwyneth Paltrow is a fairly useless and obnoxious human being, I think you’ll be entertained by this skit she did with James Corden last week.

It’s a dance class called “Toddlerography,” and it’s fantastic. I totally want to sign up for this at my gym…

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**Finally today, it’s extremely rare that an NFL player would write a thought-provoking essay of any kind. But when he writes one about male privilege and rape culture, and how whacked-out society’s ideas of masculinity are, then, well, I’m sitting up and paying attention.
DeAndre Levy of the Detroit Lions penned a fantastic essay for The Players Tribune, on the faux-masculinity so many men show, and why it’s so incredibly important that sex gets separated from “being a man.”

“It’s truly astounding how many awful things that occur in this world because men are afraid of appearing weak.… So what’s the opposite of weakness? Power. And oftentimes, how powerful a man is is directly associated with his sexual exploits. And that’s what I’d like to discuss.”

Levy goes on to say some very powerful things, including “The focus always seems to be on teaching young women how not to get raped and on what steps they can take to “stay safe.” But why are we not also focused on educating young men about the definition of consent and what constitutes rape? We’re essentially dealing with the problem by telling women to be more careful. And that’s bullshit…. It’s important for men, especially in a hyper-masculine culture that breeds so many assholes, to stand up and challenge the values that have been passed down to us.”

It’s a really powerful, important piece, especially coming from the hyper-masculine world of the NFL. Levy blames himself for much of what he thought as a young man.
I urge you to read the whole essay here.

Leicester City is about to win the most improbable championship in sports history. Obama with a kick-ass routine at the WHCA. And the man who robbed his own store to tip a prostitute

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What I know about soccer can pretty much fit into a thimble. Not even a real thimble; a thimble like you see on a Monopoly board.

I used to hate the sport, now I’m indifferent to it, and like millions of American sports fans, I pay attention at World Cup time. I fully appreciate and understand why soccer has gotten huge in the U.S. over the last 20-25 years, and no longer mock those who love it.

But I don’t pay much attention to it.
Except in the last few weeks, I’ve seen headline after headline about this little city in England and their improbable, impossible accomplishment: Winning the title in the English Premier League, the most famous league in the sport.

Leicester City, which a few years ago was bankrupt, which last year was almost relegated to the “minors,” is about to win the championship (They didn’t clinch Sunday, but have several more chances). My cousin Rob, who I love dearly, is an enormous futbol fan, so I asked him to put Leicester’s incredible accomplishment into terms American sports fans may understand.

“It’s a AA baseball team in 2012 finishing in first and deciding they want to play in AAA. After two years, without getting any new players, they purchase a MLB franchise and play in the majors and finish last. The next year, they win the World Series, beating the Yanks, Red Sox and Royals in the playoffs, then the Mets in the World Series, with basically the same team they used in AA.”

Alrighty then. Pretty freaking huge. Rob wasn’t satisfied with that analogy, though.

“Or it’s like a D-League team winning the NBA title and beating Cleveland, San Antonio and Golden State in the playoffs. It’s incredible. Never happens.”

I think the odds on Leicester were something like 5,000 to 1 this year. And in the next few days, they’re going to win the title.

This is why we watch sports: To watch the impossible, become possible. Never heard of Leicester City until a few months ago. Now, I think they’re most unlikely team sport champion ever.

Sports.

**Next up, every year around this time I tell you how ridiculous, unprofessional and silly it is for a roomful of journalists who cover the White House and a roomful of politicians the journalists cover to sit at a glamorous dinner for 4 hours and act as best buddies. It’s the worst of “clubby insider Washington” and I think it’s a terrible idea for “impartial” reporters.

But every year since 2009 I’ve watched the headliner’s routine, because whatever else you want to say about the man, Barack Obama is damn funny. I know he’s got speechwriters but delivery is part of it too, and the man is terrific.

Saturday night he was on fire, with a literal mic-dropping performance. Some of this best lines (I encourage you to watch the whole speech, above):

On the next president: “Next year at this time, someone else will be standing here in this very spot. And it’s anyone’s guess who she will be.”

On getting old: “Eight years ago, I was a young man full of idealism and vigor. And look at me now, I am gray, grizzled and just counting down the days to my death panel. Hillary once questioned whether I would be up ready for a 3 a.m. phone call. Now, I’m awake anyway because I have to go to the bathroom.”

On Bernie Sanders: “Bernie Sanders is here! You look like a million bucks. Or to put it in terms you’ll understand, you look like 37,000 donations of $27 each.” (Editor’s note: I was stunned, stunned that Bernie was there. SO not his scene, so at odds with everything he stands for.)

Making a pot joke: “In my final year, my approval ratings keep going up. The last time I was this high, I was trying to decide on my major.”

On Trump: “They say Donald lacks the foreign policy experience to be president, but in fairness, he has spent years meeting with leaders from around the world — Miss Sweden, Miss Argentina, Miss Azerbaijan.”

gooey.primate

**Finally today, blog sleuth and good friend Will S. always sends me crazy crime stories, and because I’m old and forgetful I often forget to use them.

But when he sent me this one over the weekend, I immediately knew it was going in the blog today.

The lede: “An Oregon man is accused of robbing his own pet store and using a stolen primate to tip a prostitute.”

I mean … come on, you are totally reading the rest of that story!

“Girl Scout cookie money and a laptop were also taken from the Zany Zoo Pet Store.

“Authorities arrested the owner in the parking lot of a state police office. They say he walked out of a porn shop next door and was high on drugs. (You don’t say!):

Through interviews with Nathan McClain, police say they found out he robbed his own store.

Police add they learned he paid for sex with a prostitute using the Girl Scout money and then gave her the primate named “Gooey” as a tip.”

Thankfully, “Gooey” is OK.

Now, there are a LOT of jokes to be made about sex with a prostitute and a primate named “Gooey,”… but your humble blogger is too classy to make them.

(Or, actually, I thought of way too many to choose just one.)