The latest “Daddy Chronicles,” where I talk about my Elmo-obsessed, potty-train starting, quite-opinionated 2-year-old


And a Happy Friday to you all. As we anxiously count down the days until this interminable election season is over (18 more, kids!), I realized it’s time for another edition of “The Daddy Chronicles.”

Since we last visited the life of Nate Lewis, he turned 2, has developed new favorite phrases like “See you soon!” when leaving a room and “I’m back!” when returning to a room, and has become more of a little person, quicker, than I was ready for.

As always, I have many thoughts on my little guy, and man how fast he is changing.

— So I guess I should start with his current obsession. It’s a red, furry stuffed animal whose name starts with E. Maybe you heard of him.
So for the first 16 months or so of his life, Nate had no interest in his stuffed animals. But around 18 months he suddenly decided he needed Elmo with him all around the apartment. So Elmo started having meals with us. Then Elmo had to be on the couch in my little guy’s room when he slept. Then Winnie the Pooh and Paddington Bear also had to be at dinner and on the couch overnight.

Then, like Ringo Starr joining the Beatles, a furry guy named “Monkey” joined the entourage, and now four different animals watch us eat, and my boy sleep, and each gets a goodnight kiss.

Nothing seems to make my son happier than walking in our apartment after an outdoor activity and yelling, “Elmo! I’m back!”
Because, you know, Elmo was worried sick while he was gone.

— The other big change the last few months is that my tyke suddenly has opinions on things. At least twice a week he tells me the clothes his mother picked out in the morning aren’t acceptable. “Other shirt!” or “Other pants!” are requested, and sometimes we have to go through 3-4 options before he’s happy. He also likes to change bibs and spoons halfway through meals, has sometimes inexplicably stopped eating certain foods he loves (oh tomatoes, how you once were such a staple of his diet), and has learned to hate the diaper changing table. Sadly, it’s not because he hates being changed, it’s just he doesn’t want to be kept still.

— The potty is in the house! OK, so he thinks it’s a toy, and I don’t think he’s quite getting my explanations about why it’s such a cool thing, but he’s been telling us “doody!” occasionally and has been correct 40 percent of the time (hey in baseball getting a hit 40 percent of the time gets you in the Hall of Fame), so we bought the potty and I’m pretty damn excited. Hey, it’s a start.


— Favorite activities are still unloading the dishwasher and helping with the laundry, but he’s taken quite a few steps toward doing laundry himself. A couple Fridays ago at around 5 p.m., he said “Daddy! Laundry!” I told him we were all good, only a few shirts and pants were dirty. He was undeterred. So he decided to start doing his laundry by himself. I quickly ran to grab the camera. If you’ve never seen a 2-year-old do laundry, by all means, please click here.

— One of many future careers I’m now envisioning for my son is as a party DJ. He walks over to the CD player and changes music literally 6-7 times in a half-hour sometimes. He desperately wants this Raffi CD, then a minute later the Laurie Berkner has to go back on. A couple more weeks and I’ll be teaching him to scratch records.

— Oh yeah, he’s also incredibly quick to throw a tantrum at the slightest thing. If he isn’t allowed to play with our phones, or we take him away from something he’s enjoying (like, you know, climbing on top of his bookshelf), Nate goes from zero to hysterical crying in like three seconds. Seriously, he’s like the Porsche 911 of emotions that way.

— His mother desperately wants him to be a cuddle-bug, and while he sometimes climbs onto the bed with us and goes under the covers, it lasts for about 16 seconds. We figure by the time he’s in his mid-20s he’ll consent to snuggle with her.

— And finally, I thought it was way too early to have a moment like this, but here it is. This week at his Advanced Beginner swim class I was told by the instructors to stay out of the water as much as possible, and see how he handled it with just them in the pool. I sat on the top step with my feet dangling in, and a couple times I actually got out of the water. And except for a few moments where he looked up and said “Daddy sit!” when I was standing out of the pool, he really did perfectly well without me.

I was a little bit proud, and a more than a little bit heartbroken. This is the first time he truly hasn’t needed me. How can that be happening already? He was just born!

I’m going to need a lot of Kleenex for the first day of pre-school next September.

“The Birth of a Nation” movie was disappointing, considering what it could’ve been. A really funny video mocks parents who worry about kids and pacifiers/bottles. And thoughts on tonight’s final (thank God) presidential debate


Maybe this is just me, but there were lots of things that I heard mentioned in history class when I was in high school and college that were glossed over, that I wanted to know more about.

This was pre-Internet (yeah, I’m old) so it wasn’t like now, where I could just Google stuff. But I have a vague recollection of hearing about the Nat Turner slave rebellion in one of my classes, and thinking it sounded fascinating. A two-day rampage by a group of slaves in Virginia in 1831, which ended bloodily for so many? That sounds wildly interesting.

Years after my initial interest, along comes “The Birth of a Nation,” a much-hyped new movie by Nate Parker. Now leaving aside the controversy of Parker’s real-life rape acquittal while a student at Penn State, the film was billed to be a fantastic look into the Nat Turner story, and it got rave reviews at a bunch of film festivals this year.

So I went to see it last week, and it was … meh. Disappointing, slow, and just not done well, I felt. The acting was fine (though Parker, playing Turner, overacts just about every scene), but the story was SO slow to get going. We spend way too much time seeing Nat Turner as a small child, growing up on a plantation and befriending the white son of his slaveowners, before finally getting to see Nat as a grownup.

And even then, the script and the story take forever to get us to the tipping point that makes Turner gather up fellow slaves to rebel. The final 20 minutes of the movie were fascinating, but even then the script and the direction make things confusing (we see a character who looks dead, but a few scenes later they’re alive and fighting.)

I really thought “Birth of A Nation” could’ve been great. The material to work with is fantastic, and it’s a story that needs to be told. But it just didn’t do it for me.

And you KNOW I’m partial to anything done by a person named Nate.

**Next up today, a smart and funny friend of mine posted this in a parents’ group on Facebook the other day, and I have to admit I laughed out loud a few times. It speaks, hilariously, to the panic some parents feel that their child hasn’t given up the pacifier, the diaper or the bottle yet.

The last 20 seconds are the funniest part, with the statistics.

***Finally today, I guess I should say something about tonight’s Battle Royal, Round 3, between Hillary Clinton and a future footnote in my 2-year-old son’s high school history book. I really have little appetite for this debate, because I just know the vulgar, talking yam will once again yammer on about conspiracies, and rigged elections, and as much bullshit as he possibly can say on television. This election is over, has been for weeks, but I guess anything is still possible.

What is most frightening to me this week is not that Hillary will somehow still find a way to screw this up, maybe making some huge gaffe tonight, but just how dangerous poll sites will be on Nov. 9. We’ve got Trump supporters talking openly about violence and intimidation, of minority voters and anyone who doesn’t agree with them. It could be a despicable, disgusting scene and voter intimidation is about as serious as it gets in a country that calls itself a democracy.

Just to give you a small idea about the ugliness out there right now, check this out

I thought Barack Obama’s statement about Trump’s silly “rigged election” claim was perfect (I posted it above, it gets good around the 1-minute mark). I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The mainstream media legitimizing of the bigoted, racist, sexist and xenophobic beliefs of Trump followers will be the long-lasting effect of the 2016 election, not the schmuck who stirred it all up and bathed himself in it.

Anyway, of course I’ll watch the debate tonight. Honestly, nothing Trump says or does would surprise me. If he brings a cardboard cutout of Vince Foster with him and props it up next to his podium, I wouldn’t be surprised. If he flies in every single Benghazi attack family member, I’d shrug.  None of it will matter. He’s flaming out more every day, now we’re just left to see how much carnage he creates along with him.

Nov. 9 can’t get here soon enough.

A perfect response from a newspaper publisher, as Trump nutjobs threaten her office and employees. “SNL” hits another homer with debate skit. And the Cowboys are for real and the Panthers are toast


There are so, so many awful things going on now in the Presidential race, a race that gets uglier and uglier by the day. The GOP candidate keeps talking more and more about cheating and rigged elections and whipping up his supporters into such a frenzy, and it’s having such a deleterious effect. The hatred, the vitriol, the sheer “war mentality” that we’re saying every day on the news is just so vile. For a long time I tried to fool myself by saying “This will all go away on Nov. 9, when the schmuck goes back to TV where he can be a harmless buffoon again,” but now I wonder just how long his poison will seep into our society.

One of the things that as an ex-newspaper scribe I’ve paid a lot of attention to is papers that never have endorsed a Democrat, or haven’t for 100 years or something, telling its readers it should vote for Hillary Clinton. Because Trump is just that toxic. What has happened, sadly, is those newspapers have been subject to harassment, death threats, and all kinds of awfulness.

For the most part, the newspapers haven’t gone public with it. But the Arizona Republic’s publisher didn’t want to stay quiet, and she wrote this amazing essay about exactly what has happened since the Republic endorsed Clinton. Mi-Ai Parrish wrote one of the best things I’ve read all year; I urge you to read it.

Quick excerpt: “To those who said we should be shut down, burned down, who said they hoped we would cease to exist under a new presidential administration, I give you Nicole. She is our editor who directs the news staff, independent of our endorsements. After your threats, Nicole put on her press badge and walked with her reporters and photographers into the latest Donald Trump rally in Prescott Valley, Ariz. She stood as Trump encouraged his followers to heckle and boo and bully journalists. Then she came back to the newsroom to ensure our coverage was fair. Nicole knows free speech requires an open debate.

Parrish’s defense of liberty and press freedom is fantastic; she is absolutely right to call out these criminals for what they are. And the last few lines hit home.

Nov. 9 can’t get here soon enough.

**Next up today, every week “Saturday Night Live” has been given incredible material from this Presidential campaign, and you would think it might be hard to keep making up quotes that are funnier or more ridiculous than those surrounding the vulgar, talking yam Mr. Trump.

But gotta give it up to “SNL,” they keep bringing the funny. This was maybe my favorite skit yet, especially the opening “sizing up” by the two candidates, and then Kate McKinnon’s remarks about the four women from Bill Clinton’s past who were present at the debate.

McKinnon’s going to become quite famous the next four years…


**Finally today, yesterday was one of those joyous Sundays where I didn’t have to watch the New York Jets lose. OK, OK, it’s because they don’t play until tonight. Still, a happy day! Some quickie-thoughts on another NFL Monday where I’m reminded no one knows anything about what will happen in this league…

–OK, this Dak Prescott thing is no longer a fluke, nice little story about a quarterback filling in for a starter and maybe giving the Cowboys a QB controversy. No, after Dallas thrashed Green Bay on the road, 30-16 Sunday to improve to 5-1, there’s no way on Earth Tony Romo should get his job back. Prescott finally threw an interception, but he’s looking like a 10-year vet, and it looks like he’ll be a huge star in this league.

Which means, because he plays for the Cowboys, we’ll all start hating him soon.

— The Cowboys are for real, and the Carolina Panthers are toast. Super Bowl runner-ups are inexplicably horrible this year. I mean, I know a lot of Super Bowl losers have tough seasons the next year, but this bad? The pride of Charlotte gave up 41 points to a bad New Orleans team, and even a late furious rally couldn’t prevent them from going 1-5. Cam Newton looks pedestrian, the defense stinks, and they’re not going to the playoffs this year. Wow.

— Hey, a Colin Kaepernick sighting! On the field, and not just during the national anthem! The 49ers QB who has sparked a whole lot of athlete activism the last two months actually played in a game Sunday. He didn’t play great but wasn’t terrible, either, going 13-of-29 for 187 yards and a touchdown. But he also wore a cool Muhammad Ali T-shirt to his post-game press conference, so I enjoyed that. Let’s hope Kaepernick starts playing well and continues to get his message out.

“I don’t understand what’s un-American about fighting for liberty and justice for everybody,” Kaepernick said. “For the equality that this country says it stands for.”

Exactly. Keep talking, Colin.

— Do the Giants play more crazy games than anybody else, or does it just seem that way? Eli and enormous brat Odell Beckham Jr. pulled another one out of the hat Sunday over the Ravens.

— Finally, very few people care but my man Cody Kessler had another terrific game for the winless Cleveland Browns, throwing for 336 yards in a 28-26 loss. If you want to know why I root so hard for Kessler, check this out.

A beautiful mentor/protege relationship on the violin, across the miles. Teachers tell their students why they love them. And Bob Dylan wins a Nobel Prize for literature

And a happy Friday to all. It’s pumpkin-spice season and Halloween’s coming up and the baseball playoffs are getting seriously good (come on, after the horrible year 2016 has been, we deserve a Cubs-Indians World Series) and the Rangers won on opening night against the Islanders Thursday and Michelle Obama gave one hell of an amazing speech Thursday  and life is good.

We start Good News Friday with the great Steve Hartman of “CBS Sunday Morning,” once again giving me, as the kids say, all the feels. This story, about a famous Philadelphia Orchestra member named David Bilger mentoring a 17-year-old Afghani student in the violin, is just a beautiful tale of one human reaching out to help another.

If the hug at the end doesn’t get you … check your heartbeat to make sure you’re still alive.

**Next up today, this is one of the best ideas I’ve ever heard. A teacher named Jamie McSparin at Oak Park High School in Kansas City, Mo. came up with the idea of teachers in her school telling one of their favorite students that they are what makes coming to school every day worthwhile, and how the student inspires them.

To see the looks on these students’ faces (the girl at 1:13 is my favorite, but the one at 2:58 is great too!)

The future is very, very bright.



**Finally today, I was very happy to learn that Bob Dylan, a musical genius and pioneer in every sense, was given the Nobel Prize for Literature on Friday. Some on the Internet are already saying he doesn’t deserve it, his songs aren’t really “literature,” and casting other aspersions on the honor.

Hogwash. Dylan has been incredibly influential and incredibly talented for more than six decades. His lyrics spoke to generations of fans, from 1960s radicals who wanted to change the world (and did), to even Gen X’ers and Millenials, who still download the 75-year-old’s music.

I fell in love with Dylan’s music as a teenager, when I first encountered the gorgeous “Times they Are A-Changin,” “Like a Rolling Stone,” and “Blowin’ In the Wind.” The gravelly voice, the beautiful guitar-playing… all of it spoke to me.

Here’s a great appreciation of Dylan by Ty Burr of the Boston Globe.

A well-deserving honor to a legend. Take us out, Robert Zimmerman…

A night at an improv comedy show reminds me how hard improv is. A brave survivor of sexual harassment speaks out. And a few thoughts on the compelling baseball playoffs


And a Happy Day of Atonement to all of my fellow Members of the Tribe; if you’re reading this before 6 p.m. Wednesday, I’m probably hungry. So if you wouldn’t mind sending a pastrami on rye through the InterTubes here for me to scarf down, I’d appreciate it…

On the list of “Things that Look Easy but are Actually Quite Difficult,” let me submit:
— Keeping a straight face when GOP leaders are speaking these days.
— Not saying any curse words for 24 hours (I tried it once, it was freaking really hard)
— Being good at Improv Comedy

The last one is the one I’m discussing here. Lots of people are funny, but put them on a stage and make them think on their feet instantly and make it hilarious, and nearly everyone would shrivel up.

That’s why I love improv comedy, and always like seeing improv shows, even more so after seeing the great movie “Don’t Think Twice” with Mike Birbiglia over the summer.

So Saturday night the wife and I went to the Yankee Stadium of improv, the Upright Citizens Brigade club in NYC (there are actually 4 of ’em). UCB has produced dozens of famous comedians, including Amy Poehler and Rob Corddry.

Tickets were $10, the show lasted an hour, and it was terrific. The theme of the show was love and relationships, and one of the trio of performers simply asked the audience for a volunteer to tell a relationship story.

After a truly bizarre tale involving a gay man sleeping with his current boyfriend’s uncle and then the uncle asking him to find out if the nephew is gay (it was much funnier on stage), the two male and one female performer went to work.

They were … dazzling. They must’ve riffed off each other for 40 straight minutes, taking one tiny bit of one sketch and morphing it into another. It was all funny, it was all so fast, and it was incredibly hard to do. The chemistry needed for improv is immense, and these three looked like they’d been working together forever.

Such a joy to watch. Definitely check out an improv show near you if you get the chance.


**Next up today, thanks to the 2005 videotape Cheetos Jesus and Billy Bush released last week, there has been a lot of talk about how bragging about sexual assault and the like is “locker room talk.” That is beyond offensive to everyone, but most of all to women who have suffered actual sexual assault. It is a horrible, disgusting crime that millions of women have had to endure, and it takes great courage to speak out about it.

One of those who’s been victimized is a journalist friend of my buddy Jeff Pearlman, and after talking about it with him, she agreed to anonymously talk about her experiences, for the first time, in a blog post on his site.

It is about a boss she once had, and multiple examples of awful sexual behavior he perpetrated. An excerpt:

I decided to tell my story today because I know there are thousands, if not millions of other women who have been treated this way. I’m proud to say I don’t let that part of my life define me anymore, but it was a long, hard road to get here …

Sexual harassment and assault is not a laughing matter. It is absolutely soul-crushing, and I wouldn’t wish it on the bitchiest bitch. I was terrified of taking my case to court out of fear of what the other side would do to shame me and ruin my life and career…

I do not hate men.

I just want to be treated with respect.

Really powerful stuff. Read the whole essay here.


**Finally today, We’re a week into the Major League Baseball playoffs, and damn if they haven’t been pretty compelling so far. I watch very little baseball all year, then get sucked in. A few scattered thoughts after the two American League Division Series get wrapped up quick, while the National League contains the drama.

—  Well that was one hell of a finish for the Cubs last night, huh? I had to rewrite this entire paragraph at midnight, because at 5-2 after eight innings I had this whole thing being about Cubs fans’ sphincters being really tight today, since the Cubs had blown a 2-0 lead and now had to win a Game 5 on Friday, and a few jokes about 1908, yada yada yada.

Except the Cubbies stunningly rallied for four runs in the 9th, won the game 6-5, won the series, and are now in the NLCS against either the Nationals or Dodgers. Wow, wow, wow. Definitely a different kind of Cubs team. Man I so hope we get to see them in the World Series.

— So that was a really strange farewell to David Ortiz at Fenway Park. The Red Sox had a rally going in the bottom of the 9th against Cleveland, the rally ended, and Big Papi just walked back into the clubhouse. The fans chanted “Thank you Papi!” but he never came back out. (Update: I was just informed by friend and Red Sox fan Dave that Papi did come back out and acknowledge the crowd. My bad.) As much as I loathed him, dude was an incredible, incredible player. And I know he’s been a DH for his whole career, but I think I’d vote him into the Hall of Fame.

— When did baseball players start growing playoff beards like hockey guys do? So many guys on the San Francisco Giants have beards I’m not convinced they’re not the San Jose Sharks.

— So if the Indians go on to win the World Series, a few months after the Cavaliers won the NBA title, does the city of Cleveland go from “lovable losers who’ve had unbelievably bad luck?” to “Screw those winners?” Has any city ever gone from loved to hated that fast?

— I hate Harold Reynolds. He is as bad as Joe Morgan ever was as a broadcaster. He never, ever shuts up, and nothing he says is ever helpful. He’s the Jon Gruden of baseball.


This is not normal: An extraordinary Presidential debate, starring the pig Donald Trump. Lin-Manuel Miranda kills it on “SNL.” And the Eagles crash, the Vikings soar, and I say very little about the Jets


This is not normal.

You need to keep telling yourself that, my fellow Americans (and citizens of the world, wherever you’re reading this).

This is not normal in American politics. It is not normal for a Presidential candidate of a major party, during a Presidential debate 30 days before the election, to threaten to jail the other candidate.

It is not normal in American politics for a Presidential candidate of a major party to bring three women that the candidate’s spouse allegedly sexually assaulted years ago, to the debate, seat them in the front row, and use them completely as political props.

It is not normal in American politics for a Presidential candidate of a major party to so blatantly lie about the sexual assaults HE himself bragged about committing, on videotape with another idiot, and then say that’s locker room talk (I was a newspaper sportswriter for 14 years, and have been in hundreds of locker rooms. That is NOT how men in locker rooms talk.)

This is all just so f’ed up. It is not normal. It will never be normal. My head hurt and brain got scrambled so many times watching that debate Sunday night.

What I saw on the stage, and what I think millions of people saw, is a raving, incoherent madman who basically admits he’d be a dictator, has no clue about how American government works, and is a sexual criminal.

And he’s going to get 35 percent of the vote.

So many thoughts on what was, again, an extraordinarily unusual debate (You can find my thoughts, and some of the great thoughts of others I RT’ed, on my Twitter feed here.):

— First, and I cannot emphasize this enough: Trump said if he wins he will appoint a special prosecutor and make sure Hillary is put in jail.  This is how dictatorships work. This is what Putin, and Castro, and so many others have done. This cannot be allowed to slip by as “just talk.”

— Did you notice how skulking and scary Trump seemed pacing around the room, lurking behind Hillary? As one Tweeter put it: “Can someone tell the Secret Service there’s a scary, crazy man behind Hillary Clinton?”

— I thought Hillary did very well Sunday night not sinking to Trump’s level, mostly. She did get down in the gutter with him a couple of times, but I thought she did a terrific job reminding everyone of ALL the groups Trump has insulted, that it’s not just women he discussed so disgustingly on that 2005 videotape.

— She wasn’t perfect; her Abe Lincoln public/private answer was strange, and she didn’t do a great job near the end when asked to praise something about Trump. But she let him ramble and ramble and that was all she needed to do.

— I thought Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz, the moderators, got much stronger as the debate went on, actually challenging both candidates to answer the questions. Trump’s whining about time and “it’s 3 vs. 1” was just so juvenile. My 2-year-old would’ve been more mature up there.

— And now, a comedic interlude from noted scholar Scott Baio:

— Also, and this too will get lost because 10 other crazy things happened: Trump said he and VP nominee Mike Pence “haven’t spoken” about Russia’s involvement in Syria but he disagrees with Pence’s position.
This is such an important issue, Syria, Trump talks about it all the time, and yet he hasn’t discussed it with his VP.

— How offensive is it that Trump, when talking about African-Americans, only talks about the inner city? Does every black person in America live in an inner-city? I mean, has the man SEEN the TV show “Blackish?”

— Line of the night, from my friend Dave: “Trump makes George W. Bush look like Stephen Hawking.”

— It was so hilarious to see SO many GOP politicians pull hamstrings over the weekend, running as far away from Trump as they could after the old tape became public. So, let me get this straight: Insulting veterans, Muslims, Mexicans, Miss Universe winners, disabled reporters and others was fine by you, but talking about women this way, THAT was too much for you?

Give me a goddamn break.

— She’s winning 35-39 states, and more than 350 electoral votes, and the Democrats take back the Senate. I’ve said this since March. Nothing Sunday night changes any of it. If anything, I’m being conservative in my estimates of the Hillary landslide.

**Next up today, the creative genius that is Lin-Manuel Miranda hosted “Saturday Night Live” this weekend, and as expected he was awesome.

Though he looks radically different from how he appeared in “Hamilton,” his opening song was pretty fantastic.

The “Weehawken” line was my favorite…


**Finally today, a few thoughts on the NFL, Week 5. All I’m going to say about the Jets is that they stink in all facets of the game, they’re now 1-4, and the season is gone, and I’m really happy the New York Rangers hockey and Duke basketball seasons start real soon. As my beloved father texted during the 4th quarter of Sunday’s pathetic loss to the Steelers, “it’s actually physically painful to watch them.”

“The 2016 Jets! It’s physically painful to watch us!”

— Moving on, kind of a crushing loss for the previously-undefeated Eagles. Falling down big at Detroit, rallying back, then losing in the final two minutes, as Carson Wentz throws his first interception of his career. NFC East is going to be very interesting this year.

— Also, if you show up to the Cleveland Browns practice facility today, they’ll give you a uniform and make you the starting quarterback next week. Man oh man, that franchise is just cursed beyond belief. Every QB they throw out there gets hurt.

— Anyone expect the Minnesota Vikings to be this damn good, without Teddy Bridgewater and Adrian Peterson? They just manhandled the pretty good Texans on Sunday.


The Japanese invent a chair that moves you while in line. A great “accidental” photo bomb by 2 hockey players in the penalty box. And the 400 students who sang to their cancer-stricken teacher

Spare some thoughts and prayers today, please, for all those in Florida and Georgia who are about to get hit with maybe the “worst storm in decades.” I have so many friends down there, I’m going to be worried all day about them. This storm is no joke…

So you’re waiting on line at the supermarket or on line waiting at the DMV or on line at an amusement park. You’re aggravated the line is so long, your feet hurt, and you’re wondering: Wouldn’t it be great if I could just sit down and still move forward in the line?

But short of living in The Jetsons, you don’t really know how this problem could be solved.

Enter the beautiful engineers of Japan, who are solving problems we didn’t even know we had. Prepare yourselves for the new self-driving chair! Yep, car company Nissan has invented a device with autonomous technology that detects the seat ahead.

According to this story in the Daily Mail, when the person at the front of the line is called, “the empty chair at the front can sense it is empty, so moves out of pole position. Cameras on the remaining chairs then sense the movement and follow automatically.”

The system, which is similar to the kind used in Nissan’s autonomous vehicle technology, will be tested at select restaurants in Japan this year, Nissan said.

This is my favorite part of the story: “It appeals to anyone who has queued for hours outside a crowded restaurant: it eliminates the tedium and physical strain of standing in line.”

Here’s a video of how it works:

OK, first of all, if you’re spending hours waiting outside a restaurant, you know how to solve that problem? EAT SOMEWHERE ELSE. Also, this could totally solve a different issue. If you’re afraid not enough people think of you as a pompous douchebag, show up somewhere with one of these. Problem solved!

You know, Americans sometimes get accused of being lazy. But hey, at least we didn’t invent this. 
Still, it is pretty cool, and hey, if it makes life a little easier, then that’s good news.



**Next up today, there are few things in sports more boring than preseason ore exhibition games, and I think the athletes that play in them know it, too.

Which is why I think these two Detroit Red Wings players in the penalty box, Steve Ott and Dylan Larkin, clearly ignored the game and executed an all-time great photobomb last week.

A little girl at the game, 4-year-old Lylah Almas, was told by her parents to stand in front of the penalty box. Larkin and Ott noticed and decided to have some fun.

Just pure joy at a hockey game. Season starts on Thursday!

**Finally today, this warmed my heart. A popular teacher at Nashville’s Christ Presbyterian Academy, Ben Ellis, is suffering from cancer.

Hundreds of students showed up outside the Nashville home of Christ Presbyterian Academy teacher Ben Ellis to play instruments and sing for him.

Ellis has been teaching at the school since 2008 and was diagnosed with cancer last year.

It was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen in my entire life,” Nate Morrow, headmaster at Christ Presbyterian Academy in Nashville, Tennessee, told ABC News.

“He is one of the kindest and intentionally loving people I’ve ever met in my life,” Morrow continued. “I think that’s what really characterizes him. He’s always pursuing other people in wanting to get to know them and love them.”

So, so great. Yes I know it’s a religious song and maybe that’s not your thing, but I’d rather focus on so many students doing something great for a teacher they love.

VP debate shows Pence gloriously ignoring reality and who he’s actually running with. An awesome mothers and sons ad from IKEA. And a beautiful essay from a dog owner about the end for his pooch


Watching Tuesday night’s vice-presidential debate, I tried to think of any great moments or lines from any vice-presidential debate, ever, in America.

I thought for 10 minutes. I came up with two: Lloyd Bentsen, in 1988, telling Dan Quayle “Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine.  Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.”

And the other one I remembered was Admiral James Stockdale, Ross Perot’s running mate in 1992, seeming strange when asking “Who am I? Why am I here?”

But that’s about it. VP debates get a lot of attention but nothing really too interesting tends to happen in them.

Still, this VP debate seemed like it might be interesting strictly because Mike Pence would, theoretically, have to defend at least some of the 9,323 batshit crazy things GOP Presidential nominee Donald Trump has said in the past 15 months.

I mean that’s what a VP candidate does, right, defend the person at the top of the ticket and explain why criticisms of them are all wrong, and why their candidate is the best answer for America?

Except, that’s not what happened Tuesday night. Pence, bless his anti-abortion, anti-gay heart, pretty much ignored or lied about all the Trump statements he was confronted with. He just smiled and laughed and pivoted every single Trump statement into an attack on Hillary Clinton. It was almost as if Trump wasn’t his running mate.

Truly, it was dizzying. Josh Barro of MSNBC and Business Insider summed it up best in this Tweet: “I’m not sure it works when Pence acts incredulous at actual things his running mate said. These things got lots of news coverage.”

Not in Mike Pence’s world! Other thoughts from a debate that seemed to me like a draw.

— Kaine interrupted too much. I understand why he did, because Pence was lying through his teeth, but he still came off badly when he constantly cut in.

— Always fun when the phrase “whipped out that Mexican thing again” comes up in a political debate. Oh, sometimes the “South Park” and “SNL” episodes write themselves.

— The candidates were asked about religion. It’s 2016. I long for the day, and I hope I’m alive for it, when it matters not a whit what the religious beliefs of politicians are. I mean, unless they’re bringing church and state back together (as if they’re not already in many states) or banning people of a certain religion, who cares? (Looks back at what Trump said, starts to reconsider). Oh, wait…

**Next up today, my super-smart friend Catherine, a mother of two, put this French IKEA commercial about a Mom and her son on her Facebook page last week and I just about started crying at the end.

Watched it a few more times, and yeah, it got dusty in my apartment. Crazy to think my little 2-year-old munchkin will grow up to be so big one day. Love, love, love this ad.


**And finally today, some people you meet on the Internet scare you terribly, and you’re thrilled you never have to actually meet them. Others, you find you have a great kinship with, and are totally sure you’d be pals in real life if you lived anywhere near each other.

Luke Martin is a Southerner, a fellow Dad, and a bit of a baseball nut (OK, so except for the fatherhood thing, we don’t have much in common). He’s also hilarious and smart on Twitter, and he wrote something Tuesday on his blog that just about blew me away.

It’s on an emotional subject for millions of people: The day you realize you have to put your beloved family dog to sleep. I was there the day my Dad put his beloved golden retriever to sleep (I was already an adult), and it was brutal.  That day happened recently for Luke and his dog, Wrigley (that’s her, above). His piece is human, and touching. A brief excerpt here:

After we went in to say our goodbyes in the exam room, the vet asked if I wanted to be in there with her when they performed the procedure. I’d gone back and forth on that and at the time, didn’t want to be there. Now, however, I wonder if I made a mistake in not being there. As we were leaving, she looked so nervous, but I don’t know if that’s because she always is at the vet’s office or if she knew what was about to happen.

But I’ll choose to remember her not like that, but as the enthusiastic dog who wanted to go for a walk every afternoon around the lake. That’s the fun, loving, affectionate dog I want to keep in my memory.

I highly, highly encourage you to read the whole piece here. I’m not a dog lover and dammit, even I was getting choked up.

A mom writes a hilarious late-excuse note, claiming her daughter suffers from “teenage-ism.” “SNL” takes on Trump in season premiere brilliantly. And the Jets stink, the Falcons soar, and other NFL thoughts



A Happy New Year and L’Shana Tova to my fellow members of the tribe this morning…

There are all kinds of reasons parents offer up in excuse notes, explaining why kids are late.

Ninety-nine percent of them are boring and routine. That’s why when we get a letter like this from Nicole Poppic, a California mom to 14-year-old Cara, it goes viral and makes people laugh. Well, I laughed pretty hard.

Seems that on a recent morning young Cara wouldn’t get out of bed, put headphones on while Mom was talking to her in the car, then asked for an excuse note.

Nicole, who like all parents has a limit on how much shit she will take from her kid, responded first with a perfectly reasonable act:

“I reached over and took her phone off her lap, unplugged her headphones, and threw her phone out the car window,” Nicole told Then she wrote with this beautiful and cutting missive (above), explaining her daughter was late due to “teenage-ism.”

Some excerpts: Adolescents across our great nation are afflicted (with teenage-ism) and there is no known cure. This morning she suffered from an inability to remove herself from her bed and also felt the need to talk back to her birth-giver.
She seems to be recovering her senses after watching her cell phone fly out the car window.

**Next up, me and millions of others were probably waiting with baited breath to see what “Saturday Night Live” would cook up for Saturday’s season premiere, given all the shenanigans that happened with the Clinton-Trump election race last week. (I mean honestly, there is so much Trump awfulness flying around that I literally can’t keep track. The idea he might not have paid taxes for 18 years seems like a huge deal, but by Wednesday six more things will have taken its place.)

Happily, “SNL didn’t disappoint. Alec Baldwin, a loathsome human being himself but a pretty good actor, did a great Trump impression, and Kate McKinnon of course killed it again as Hillary. This whole opening sketch is brilliant, but my favorite moment is McKinnon’s oh-so-subtle pushing her jaw back in place after one of Trump’s statements…


**Finally today, lots of great sports stuff happened over the weekend (I don’t follow college football much, but that Louisville-Clemson game was wild, and I’m genuinely interested in the baseball playoffs this year because the Mets, Indians, and Cubs are compelling storylines) over the weekend, but before getting into all the NFL stuff like usual, wanted to link the great Vin Scully’s final sign-off after 67 years of Dodgers broadcasts.

— My cousin and fellow Jets-diehard Rob texted me last Sunday to say the Jets season was over already, at 1-2. I scoffed at him, told him he was crazy, nothing’s over after three games.

Yeah, they’ve played four games now. Season’s over. They ain’t making the playoffs. Awful effort at home against Seattle Sunday (if Russell Wilson was that good hurt, what the hell would he have done healthy?), three more Ryan Fitzpatrick picks, and a defensive performance that reeked of the Kotite years. At the Steelers and at the suddenly-struggling Cardinals the next two weeks will probably equal 1-5.

All I can say is: NHL season begins soon!

— Matt Ryan, welcome back to the “Good NFL QB Club!” We’ve missed you buddy. Wow what a performance from the Falcons Sunday. Matty Ice passed for 503 yards (300 to Julio Jones, above) as Atlanta crushed Carolina.

— OK, everyone who had Carolina and Arizona, the two NFC championship game teams last year, both 1-3 after four games, please raise your hands. Didn’t think so. Reason No. 4,532 why I don’t gamble on sports.

— ‘Bout time the Patriots lost without Tom Brady. Congrats to Rex Ryan, you beat a team playing with an injured 3rd-string quarterback. Now Brady will come back and the Pats will go 14-2.

— The L.A. Rams are somehow 3-1. I thought they looked horrible on “Hard Knocks” this summer. Usually it’s the opposite, the fabulous behind-the-scenes show makes a team look great, then they stink in real life. Call it the “Reverse HBO Jinx” this year.

— Finally, Antonio Brown of the Steelers got a 15-yard penalty for, I don’t know, humping the air during a game Sunday night. Meanwhile, I saw at least five shots to the head of players Sunday afternoon that weren’t penalized. Sure, NFL, you’ve got your priorities straight.

Good News Friday: James Corden and Usain Bolt square off in a 100-meter “dash.” Beautiful farewells to Charles Osgood and Vin Scully. And 96-year-old Roger Angell writes another amazing essay.

And a Happy Friday to you all, and to my fellow Members of the Tribe, a Happy New Year beginning on Sunday night (that’s Rosh Hashanah to the rest of you).

We start Good News Friday with two of my favorite entertainers: James Corden, and Usain Bolt. The fastest man alive was “challenged” to a 100-meter dash by Corden, who enlisted Owen Wilson and the rest of Corden’s TV show staff to run against Bolt in a parking lot.

I thought this was really funny, and good on Bolt for being a good sport and doing stuff like this.

**Next up, a farewell to two legends. First, I’ve written many times on this blog over the past seven years about my fondness for “CBS Sunday Morning,” and the man at the center of it all for the past 22 years, host Charles Osgood. With his outrageous bowties and courtly manner, Osgood always makes you feel warm and safe (at least he makes me feel that way), and his retirement at age 84 is certainly deserved.

I love the humanity and heart of “CBS Sunday Morning,” and it all starts with Osgood, shepherding us through a wide array of stories. His final broadcast aired last Sunday, and the video above was the final few minutes. Such a class act. Here’s one of the better tributes from his co-workers, comedian/author Faith Salie.

The other big retirement this week was Vin Scully, who of course finished his legendary 67-year career as a Dodgers broadcaster. I’ve written about Vin a bunch of different ways during this past season, but I thought this was one of the best things I’ve read about his impact. Sportswriter Julie DiCaro writes movingly about how, when her infant sons were giving her a hard time and keeping her up all hours, it was Vin’s beautiful voice that gave her some peace. Check out this really beautiful piece here.

Here’s an excerpt:

But at night, I would sit in front of the open window, feeding my baby, and let Vin’s voice, his stories, his memories of baseball from a time gone by, wash over me. It got to be a ritual every night in which I could lose myself, float up out of my body and hover somewhere in the warm wind over Chavez Ravine, just listening to Vin and thinking about baseball. It was better than meditation. It was (almost) as good as sleep. I could begin to relax, feeling some of the frustration with my never-quiet, never-sleeping, never-happy baby start to dissolve. As Vin would talk, I would unwind. Those few hours of relaxation every night recharged my soul, kept me going, and allowed me to be the mother I wanted to be the other twenty-one hours of the day.


**Finally today, the great Roger Angell, the best baseball writer who ever lived, is still going strong at age 96. I am blown away at how sharp and lyrical his writing still is, and anytime he publishes something new, it’s worth celebrating.

Here in The New Yorker, he writes about getting ready to vote in his 19th Presidential election (19!), and the one thing above all that he hates about Donald Trump.

“But I stick at a different moment—the lighthearted comment he made when, in early August, an admiring veteran presented him with a replica of his Purple Heart and Mr. Trump said, “I always wanted to get the Purple Heart. This was much easier.” What? Mr. Trump is saying he wishes that he had joined the armed forces somehow (he had a chance but skimmed out, like so many others of his time) and then had died or been scarred or maimed in combat? This is the dream of a nine-year-old boy, and it impugns the five hundred thousand young Americans who have died in combat in my lifetime, and the many hundreds of thousands more whose lives were altered or shattered by their wounds of war.”

Angell’s fabulous prose can be read here. Amazing how well he writes four years shy of a century.