Taking stock of Bernie Sanders as he announces he’s running again: I used to love him, now I wish he’d go away. David Puddy Night for the Devils is hilarious. And it’s Duke-Carolina day, baby! I’m a little excited

In a move that has surprised no one, the senior senator from Vermont, Mr. Bernie Sanders, announced Tuesday that he’s running for President in 2020.

Now before I come to metaphorically bury him, allow me first to praise him. Bernie Sanders did a lot for the Democratic Party in 2015 and ’16.

He raised issues, like Medicare for All, universal health care, free college tuition, and many other formerly extreme positions and made them way more palatable for mainstream candidates.

Now many of us liberals never thought these positions were extreme at all, but far too many in our party did, and I’m glad to see people like Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and others embrace them.

Bernie was a breath of fresh air last time around, our only real alternative to a candidate who we never quite trusted and never truly believed in. He was loud, he was angry, but he was in-your-face and scared the daylights out of the Clinton campaign, and that was something desperately needed.

But fast forward three years, and lots of things have changed, things that tell me he has almost zero chance to win the nomination this time around. First of all, and I don’t mean to sound age-ist, but he’ll be 79 years old in 2020. He’s shown no signs of being mentally addled, but isn’t there a point where a person is too old to be President? (All jokes aside, our current President clearly has mental capacity issues).
Second, Bernie is not really a great messenger. He’s older, white and from a state (Vermont) that doesn’t really represent most voters in any way. His personality is quite prickly, and he’s shown lots of times an inability to play well with others.

And third, quite honestly, I feel like we Democrats have much more appealing alternatives this time around, candidates with charisma, personality and the ability to win in states we haven’t been winning in. Harris, Booker, Julian Castro, Sherrod Brown (who hasn’t declared yet but will soon) all strike me as much more electable candidates than Bernie, who will inspire people.

Look, Bernie did some amazing things last time around, and I love that he inspired so much passion among young people, passion I hope sticks around long after he’s gone from the national scene.

And of course he’s free to run this time, it’s a free country. But I think he and his supporters are deluding themselves if they think he’s really got a shot to win.

His shot was 2016. He came closer than anyone thought he might. But it’s time for a new generation of leaders.

I felt the Bern last time. This time I’ve got lots of sunscreen.

**Next up, big “Seinfeld” fans like me, and quite frankly most people who didn’t even watch it like my wife (yeah, I married her anyway) know about the legend of David Puddy, the character who played Elaine’s boyfriend through part of the show.

Puddy, played by Patrick Warburton, is an airhead, mostly devoid of charm, and an enormous fan of the New Jersey Devils hockey fan, which showed itself in a fantastic episode when he painted his face and went nuts for the Devils.

Well, Tuesday night at Prudential Center arena the Devils gave out Puddy bobbleheads, and invited Warburton to help fire up the crowd.

All was going well until he was about to leave the ice… d’oh! At least he seems to have taken it in stride.

Ah, Puddy. So good to see you again.

**Finally today, it’s one of the most special days of the year for me, a day I look forward to for 11 months. That’s right, all the light blue spoons in my kids’ food drawers have been tucked away, the baby blue bibs don’t get used, and don’t even come near me with any light blue clothing they might own; they ain’t wearing it today.

That’s right kids, it’s Duke-UNC day! The greatest rivalry in all of sports resumes tonight, one of two times they play every year (we’ve gotten super lucky the last two years, as they’ve played in the ACC Tournament as well). You can throw out the records, how each team is playing coming in (both are playing superbly right now), and anything else.

It’s just blood and guts, warfare on the hardwood, and I love every freaking minute of it. It’s ridiculous that the first game each year is now so late in the season, but whatever, it just means there’s more buildup.

Tonight at 9, the most special rivalry anywhere resumes. Crazy fact: How close is this rivalry? Check this out: Since the 1949-50 season, UNC has scored 13,581 points against Duke and allowed 13,559. That’s a difference of just 22 points over 179 games, or 0.1 per matchup.

Less than one point per game separates them, for the last 70 years!

Insane. ESPN, tonight at 9. Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett, Cameron Indoor Stadium, the Heels coming in playing terrific team ball.

The sound you will hear wherever you are is me screaming, throwing pillows and trying not to wake my kids. Then again, it IS a good reason to wake them, I think.

Let’s go Duke. Go to hell Carolina, go to hell (clap clap).
Game on!

Advertisements

“Deadline Artists” doc on HBO highlights the writing brilliance of Pete Hamill and Jimmy Breslin. A pretty cool dunk at NBA All-Star Weekend over Shaq. And my man Reilly Opelka has a huge tennis breakthrough

There are certain names of newspaper journalists who convey universal respect. Just about all of us have fans and enemies of our work, people who like our style and others who think it’s nothing more useful than to line the birdcage with.

But for a rare few, their writing and reporting are so damn good, everyone kind of stands back in awe.

That’s the case for two New York City legends from days gone by. Jimmy Breslin and Pete Hamill were wordsmiths of the highest order, though very different in their styles and approaches, and they’re the subject of a fabulous new HBO documentary I saw recently called “Breslin and Hamill: Deadline Artists.”

Jimmy Breslin was a New York City legend, a Queens kid who was pushy, arrogant but outstanding as a reporter in any situation. He was by all account a pain in the ass to work with, but he took on so many powerful institutions like City Hall and the NYPD by championing the underdog, the little guy, the minorities whose rights often get trampled on. He became a major celebrity after corresponding with the Son of Sam serial killer through a series of letters in 1977, and continued to make headlines throughout the rest of his life, which ended in 2017.

Breslin’s most famous story, though, came after the assassination of John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963. While hundreds of reporters covered the funeral in the traditional way, Breslin brilliantly chose another path: He found the man who’s job it was to dig the President’s grave, and interviewed him.

Here’s the lede:

Clifton Pollard was pretty sure he was going to be working on Sunday, so when he woke up at 9 a.m., in his three-room apartment on Corcoran Street, he put on khaki overalls before going into the kitchen for breakfast. His wife, Hettie, made bacon and eggs for him. Pollard was in the middle of eating them when he received the phone call he had been expecting. It was from Mazo Kawalchik, who is the foreman of the gravediggers at Arlington National Cemetery, which is where Pollard works for a living. “Polly, could you please be here by eleven o’clock this morning?” Kawalchik asked. “I guess you know what it’s for.” Pollard did.

He hung up the phone, finished breakfast, and left his apartment so he could spend Sunday digging a grave for John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

Brilliant.

The only journalist in New York who could rival Breslin in the 1960s-1990s was Pete Hamill, who had a more literary style than the pugnacious Breslin but was equally as talented.

Hamill also was a legendary drunk, and dated Shirley MacLaine and Jackie Kennedy Onassis while enjoying his celebrity. But man, could he write. Personally I remember reading Hamill in college and being totally inspired by his beautiful prose, and how direct he was.

Here’s a snippet of Hamill’s column from the early 1990s, when real estate mogul Donald Trump, in a full-page advertisement, demanded the Central Park Five (accused of raping a white woman in Central Park) be sent to the death penalty for their “Crime.”

“Snarling and heartless and fraudulently tough, insisting on the virtue of stupidity, it was the epitome of blind negation,” Hamill wrote of the ad.

“Hate was just another luxury. And Donald Trump stood naked revealed as the spokesman for that tiny minority of Americans who live well-defended lives. Forget poverty and its causes. Forget the degradation of millions. Fry them into passivity.”

Back when newspaper voices were the loudest and most important in town, Breslin and Hamill were giants, and this brisk documentary covers their lives, and their impact, really well.

My only quibble is that “Deadline Artists” focuses too much on Breslin and not enough on Hamill; I’d say it was like 70-30 in favor of Breslin, when Hamill’s influence was just as strong.

But it was a great, great documentary; here’s a little bit of the trailer to get you interested.

**Next up today, the NBA just had it’s All-Star Weekend, and it’s usually a pretty boring affair. We’ve seen all the dunks, all the 3-point shooting greatness, and the amazing lack of defense in the actual All-Star Game.

But once every couple of years there’s a pretty special moment, and I really liked this dunk by Hamidou Diallo of Oklahoma City in the dunk contest.

He leaped over Shaq on his way to the rim, then put his elbow inside the hoop after the slam.

Pretty cool.

**Finally today, there was a pro tennis result Sunday that probably didn’t mean much to 95 percent of sports fans, but it was very cool and special to see for me.

I’ve written in this space before about Reilly Opelka, the 7-foot pro tennis player who I’ve known for a decade since I wrote my first story about him when he was a 12-year-old in Palm Coast, Fla., and I was a sportswriter in Daytona Beach. I’ve gotten to know Reilly and his fabulous parents over the years, and they’re all good people.

Anyway, this past week I was headed out to the New York Open, a small ATP Tour event that Reilly was playing in at Nassau Coliseum, about 30 minutes from my house, to do a story on him for FlaglerLive.com.

I never get to interview Reilly in person much anymore, so I was looking forward to a little “catching up with” kind of feature on how well he’d been doing lately.

Much to my surprise, the kid caught fire this week and won the whole tournament, finishing with a thrilling 3-set win Sunday night. It was his first ATP Tour-level title, it vaulted him into the No. 56 world ranking (pretty damn good, I’d say) and the best part was his Mom, who rarely gets to see him play in person, was there all week to watch him, then celebrate afterwards.

So many times as a journalist you are taught not to root for the individual, but to root for the story. Well, sometimes you can do both. Here’s my story I wrote on Reilly for FlaglerLive.com today.

It was a very cool moment to see, a kid accomplishing something huge and knowing you saw him when. (As I always tell people, sure, he’s 7-foot tall now, but when I met him I was taller.)
Keep an eye on him, he’s going to keep doing big things.

Good News Friday: A restaurant in D.C. feeds the homeless and poor, every day. A beautiful Steve Hartman tribute to his Dad. And New York state passes a long-overdue law allowing abuse victims to sue their attackers

And a happy Friday, Wide World of Stuff-ers (Yeah I don’t think that’ll catch on.). Hope you are somewhere feeling loved after Valentine’s Day, or at least if you’re not feeling loved, you got some good chocolate into your body yesterday.

Lots of good news to choose from this week, but I want to start with this wonderful restaurant in Washington, D.C. called the Sakina Halal Grill. It’s owned by immigrants, and the Pakistani-themed eatery feeds homeless and poor people every day, all day, whenever a meal is requested.

Last year the restaurant gave away 16,000 free meals. SIXTEEN THOUSAND. That’s unbelievable. Watch the owner, Kazi Mannan, and his words: “I want people to not have fear in caring for others and loving others.”

A wonderful man, and a wonderful restaurant. Watch their story below.

https://twitter.com/Cpatrickis/status/1093982900259827712/video/1

**Next up today, a beautiful tribute by my man Steve Hartman of CBS News, to his father who recently passed away.

You might argue that someone’s death doesn’t deserve to be in a Good News column, but this tribute from a son to his father is so special, and certainly put a smile on my face.

Enjoy this three-minute video. Then, if they’re still with us, call your parents.

**Finally today, a very important law passed in New York this week, that probably got 1/10th the attention of our man-baby President’s latest Tweet. A law that has been blocked for the past decade by some GOP lawmakers in my state.

Let me tell you about the Child Victims Act; it significantly increases the statute of limitations for child sex abuse victims to prosecute their abusers. The Child Victims act changes the age at which people can legally bring their abusers to justice from age 23 to age 55 in civil cases, and to age 28 in criminal cases.

Considering the research that shows 1 in 5 females and 1 in 20 males are victims of child sex abuse, and that the median age for disclosing such abuse is 48, this bill will help many victims seek the justice they deserve.

This is long, long overdue. The idea that children who have been treated so horribly had a statute of limitations on their legal rights is ridiculous, and unconscionable.

Finally, there will be the chance for so many who suffered to get some measure of justice, and peace.

 

Tommy Tomlinson’s “The Elephant in the Room” is a beautiful book. The UCLA gymnast whose routines are incredible. And a new invention for people who are too slovenly to text and eat snacks at the same time

I have been extremely lucky in my life to never have to have worried about a weight problem.

I was blessed with a fast metabolism, have always exercised, and when I was diagnosed with a mild form of Crohn’s Disease four years ago, my bigger problem was trying to keep weight on, not go on a diet.

So as much as I have empathized with family members, friends and co-workers over the years who have struggled with dieting, I never truly could put myself in their shoes, much as I tried.

But never in all my years of reading about weight and diet issues have I understood more what it’s like to be obese in America than after I finished reading Tommy Tomlinson’s astonishing new book, “The Elephant in the Room.”

I’ve been a huge fan of Tomlinson’s for a couple decades now, ever since I first started reading him in the Charlotte Observer (I worked in Wilmington, N.C. in the late 1990s so I tried to read the state’s best papers as often as I could). He is a tremendous wordsmith, a beautiful phrase-turner, and from all I’ve heard and seen, a heck of a nice guy as well.

But for his entire life he has struggled with his weight. A child growing up poor in the South, Tomlinson writes movingly about how food was how parents showed their love, and goes on for pages about his favorite delicacies.

He was active athletically as a kid which kept his weight a little bit in check, but as he got older his weight ballooned way out of control, until he weighed 460 pounds at the end of 2014. He movingly discusses how many calculations he must make every day when you’re his size: Where you can sit at a restaurant, on on airplane, in a conference room constantly seeing if the chairs will hold you, or if you’ll suffer the embarrassment of breaking one.

Two major events in his life finally triggered him into doing something about his size: He turned 50, and his sister Brenda died. She, too, was overweight and that contributed to her death.

In this fabulous book, Tomlinson is as naked and honest about himself and his feelings as any writer I’ve ever read. He spends an entire page describing his body when he looks at himself in the mirror in the morning.

My body is a car wreck. Skin tags — long, mole-like growths caused by chafing– dangle under my arms and down to my crotch. I have breasts where my chest ought to be. My belly is strafed with more stretch marks than a mother of five … Varicose veins bulge from my thighs. My calves and shins are rust-colored and shiny from a condition called chronic venous insufficiency … my body is crumbling under its own gravity.”

He discusses his desire not to do a “fad diet” that promises you can lose 30 pounds in 30 days, instead wishing for a longer-term solution. As he details his year-long quest to live healthier and save his life, Tomlinson takes readers into some dark corners of his soul, but also provides fascinating facts about how we as Americans are coping with getting heavier (Did you know that movie theater seats are four inches wider than they were in 1990?)

Tomlinson has setbacks, he has triumphs, but all along the way he’s brutally honest about how his weight has caused him to miss out on so much in life, affecting his relationships with his wife and friends, his inability to have children, and much more.

You can’t help but root for this good, decent man when he writes beautiful paragraphs like this one, talking about the things he’s never been able to do, but that he believes he could do if he’d ever let “the man inside him,” one who is not obese, come out.

“There’s a bicycle I want the man inside me to ride. Nothing fancy — I’d be fine with one of those old-man bikes with straight handlebars and a cushy seat. Our neighborhood is full of bike riders. There’s a group that rides through every Tuesday night. Sometimes we sit on the porch and wave at them as they glide past our house, a rolling parade. I’m tired of watching parades. I’d like to be in a few.”

I cannot recommend “The Elephant In the Room” highly enough. It’s a wonderfully-written tale by a man who’s finally confronted his demons and is trying to finally beat them.

Tomlinson should be highly cheered for having the courage to write this book. I strongly encourage you to read it.

**Next up today, I can’t remember if I’ve talked about this incredible UCLA gymnast Katelyn Ohashi before or not, but if I haven’t, you have to check her out. She’s been doing these amazing floor exercise routines all winter and this one from the other night, in her hometown of Seattle, was sensational.

This woman just exudes joy.

**And finally today, I heard this story on NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me and it once again made me question the future of our society, as in, “really, we need this now?”

So let’s say you’re eating a bag of chips and the grease is all over your fingers and then you get a text or need to make a phone call. Well that’s gonna be messy.

But never fear, a company in Japan has invented something to solve your finger-lickin’-good problems.

Allow me to introduce you to a product called One Hand Chips. Instead of grabbing a handful of chips with your fingers, with One Hand Chips, you just tip a cup filled with hundreds of chip bits to your lips, and you kind of drink them down, like you would a soda or a beer.

That’s right people, when you’re too lazy to eat chips with your fingers, we as a society have lost. Let’s just give up, go home, and let the robots run everything.

Sometimes I weep for the future.

A Friday night I’ll never forget: Me and Mark Messier hang out for a bit. Kate McKinnon continues to be awesome on “SNL.” And my annual “old fogey watches the Grammys” thoughts

I don’t think I do a lot of complaining about my life here on the blog, but if I ever do, remind of the night of Feb. 8, 2019 and tell me to shut up.

Friday night… man, was it magical.

They say you should never meet your childhood heroes in real life, because they’re bound to disappoint you. I don’t know about that, because a few of my heroes that I’ve been lucky enough to meet (Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova, Bob Costas) have all turned out to be pretty cool.

But one hero I never, ever expected to meet is one of the greatest hockey players who ever lived. Guy by the name of Messier. First name Mark.

Played for the Edmonton Oilers, won five Stanley Cups, then came to New York and gave the single greatest sports memory I will ever have on June 14, 1994, when he and the Rangers won the Stanley Cup for the first time in 54 years.

And Friday night, the Captain and I spent about 30 glorious minutes together, on an evening that was incredible and memorable before I ever shook his hand.

A little background on how a night I’ll never forget came to be: So my wonderful wife has a work contact whose firm has a suite at Madison Square Garden, and around twice a year we are fortunate enough to spend a night at a Rangers game in the suite, with great food, a private bathroom (that’s huge at a hockey game!) and cool people.

Several months ago my wife told me our two games for this year, and at the time I had no idea that Feb. 8 vs. Carolina was going to be the 25th anniversary celebration of the 1994 Stanley Cup. When I found that out, I went from my normal level of excitement to a 10.

Seeing my favorite sports team of all time all dressed up and being honored was going to be awesome.
Then, I get to the suite about two hours before the game, and like usual I start introducing myself to the other people in the suite. Normally these are just other lawyers or bankers or whatever.

“Hi,” the first guy said. “I’m Paul Messier.”
“Hi,” the second guy said. “I’m Doug Messier.”

Wait, what? Mark Messier’s brother, and father, are sitting in this box with me? My excitement level went up seven or eight notches.

Then I found out that a few Rangers legends would be stopping by our suite during the game, including that “other” Messier guy.
I couldn’t call my wife and my father fast enough (she hadn’t arrived yet) to tell them that I might get to meet one of my all-time idols. This is a man whose name is part of some of my email passwords, a man who stood for everything (courage, tenacity, being clutch, being a good guy off the ice) that I believe in and worship in an athlete.

The pregame ceremony gave me chills. Then the game started. I half paid attention to the game, because I kept watching the door of the suite waiting for No. 11 to come in.

By the end of the second period, even though I’d had lots of fun chatting about hockey with Messier’s brother (and the poor guy, you just know that’s how everyone refers to him), I was getting worried. Maybe Mark wouldn’t show. Maybe he had too many other obligations on this special night.

Then, early in the third, he walked in. And of course for the rest of us in the box, time kind of stood still.

I bided my time. I waited a whole two minutes before walking over to where the great Mark Messier stood. I shook his hand, told him that I’m sure I’m the 48 millionth person to tell him this, but thank you for the 1994 Cup.

And he was great. We took some more pics with my wife and her co-workers, and then for about 10 glorious minutes, I sat one row in front of the greatest captain in hockey history and exchanged a few barbs. I made him laugh with one joke about how bad the current Rangers were playing, and a few minutes later we talked briefly about Sergei Zubov and how it’s a travesty he’s not in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Then way too quickly, the game ended and it was time to leave. We thanked Mess again on our way out, and I walked into the night a few moments later wondering if all that all really happened.

They say you shouldn’t meet your heroes. I met one Friday night. And it was so freaking awesome.

And just because we’re talking about Messier, here’s this, the greatest clutch performance a Rangers player has ever had.

**Next up today, a big story at the end of last week was Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos and his stunningly honest and transparent letter accusing the National Enquirer of trying to extort him to not cover the Enquirer/Trump love-in, by threatening to release penis pics of Bezos.

Yes, this is America in 2019. Thankfully, we have “Saturday Night Live” to sort this all out. And as always, Kate McKinnon is gold.

**Finally today, Sunday night was the Grammys, and as usual this 43-year-old suburban white father of two didn’t know a lot of the musical acts that took the stage, or won awards (actual pre-Grammys conversation in our house: Post Malone, is that a boy, or a girl, or a group? And is there an alternative group called Pre-Malone?”)

But hey, as usual I enjoyed lots of the show, anyway. Some thoughts from my still stuck in the 1980s musically brain:

— The Dolly Parton tribute was fabulous. And I say this every time I hear her sing, but Miley Cyrus has an amazing voice. Truly an all-time great set of pipes. If I could just get past her crazy, I’d probably be a big fan of hers.

— I don’t usually like Lady Gaga’s outfits at all, but that shiny silver dress she wore at the beginning? Fantastic. And the glittery catsuit thingy she had on when singing her awesome song “Shallow?” Pretty fabulous too.

— That opening speaking segment with Michelle Obama, Gaga, Alicia Keys, Jennifer Lopez, and Jada Pinkett-Smith was pretty spectacular as well.

— Alicia Keys rules. She was a killer host, a great singer, and I loved her little montage. But this will still be the best thing she ever did.

— I want whatever anti-aging cream John Mayer uses. Dude still looks like he’s 16!

— Best performance by someone I’d never heard of until the Grammys: H-E-R. Very strong. But I swear I don’t get the appeal of half these artists. I’m old.

 

Good News Friday: James Corden and Billy Crystal re-create a classic movie scene, perfectly. A little boy discovers the joy of jumping in puddles. And police officers in Washington rush to a scene of a snowball fight, and join in.

And a Happy Friday to all you cats and kittens out there (sorry, was channeling my inner Alan Freed there. Look him up, kids). Hope you are doing wonderful today and you’ve got your Valentine’s Day shopping done, always important to remember that day, fellas.

Lots of good stuff out there this week to make you feel better as we head into the weekend, but I have to start with this brilliant James Corden-Billy Crystal clip from Corden’s show the other night.

The movie “When Harry Met Sally” is one of my all-time Top 5 favorites, and it should be legally-required viewing for every American. The most famous scene, of course, from that classic, is Meg Ryan’s fake-orgasm scene in the deli.

Well, Corden and Crystal kinda sorta recreated it this week, and it’s freaking fantastic (they even got the detail right of what one of the other customers was wearing in the background!). I laughed really hard.

**Next up today, police officers in Duvall, Wash. showed up in the middle of a winter storm to a playground where kids were having a snowball fight, and got totally into the spirit of it.

I love this. So nice to see officers letting kids be kids.

**And finally today, one more video that made me smile. A Twitter user named Mikel Jollett posted this video of his son discovering the joy of jumping in puddles, and it made me think of the day, about three years ago now, when my oldest son Nate and I were in the park near our apartment, and I showed him the joy of leaping into a puddle and getting all wet.

He giggled and giggled and jumped into that puddle at that playground for about 20 minutes, and I will take that memory with me until the day I die.

I hope this kid, and my kid, never loses that innocent joy.

“Barry” is a phenomenal HBO show you should watch. The best “snow day” video song I’ve seen in a while from a school district. And the foreign student who called in a bomb threat to his parents’ plane, so they wouldn’t visit

Hey dear readers, a quick personal plug before we get started today: My brother-in-law (and great friend of the blog) Scott Segal runs a kick-ass office and janitorial supplies company in Orlando, and if you or anyone you know is in need in that area, give him a call at 407-334-4097, or check out his website at segalsolutions.net.

Thanks. And oh yeah, I didn’t watch one minute of the madman’s State of the Union Tuesday night. I’d have preferred to have my teeth individually yanked out, without anasthesia, then watch that. 

OK, on with the show…

When it first came out last March, I didn’t give much thought to the new HBO show “Barry.”

It sounded interesting, about a hitman played by Bill Hader trying to leave his old life behind when he discovers acting, a discovery he made while on assignment to kill a dude in an acting class.

But it’s hard to keep up with all the new shows everywhere, all at once (“Hey kids, believe it or not, there used to only be THREE channels of TV, and you had to pick one of them to watch every night.”), so even as so many critics raved about “Barry,” the wife and I just never got around to it.

But that changed a few weeks ago and man, am I glad it did. Because “Barry” is phenomenal. Absolutely, truly fantastic, and deserving on being on so many Best of 2018 Top 10 lists that it was on.

Hader, who I never cared much for on “Saturday Night Live” is amazing as Barry Bregman, a professional killer who just happens to have to fly to L.A. for a hit job and ends up mesmerized in an acting class taught by “acting master” Gene Cousineau (Henry Winkler, who totally deserved the Emmy he got for this role).

After that happens in the series premiere, as well as another major event at the end of the episode that I won’t reveal, the rest of the season plays out as a constant push-pull for Barry, trying to extricate himself from the large tentacles of being a hitman, and also trying to learn about this new world of acting, with a love interest in his class, teacher Cousineau, and a little police investigation all pulling at him.

Oh and I haven’t even mentioned the best part of the show: Hank, one of the gangsters Barry is working for, is the funniest damn supporting character since Niles Crane. Bald, smiling Chechen murderer Hank is freaking hilarious, getting off great one-liners and keeping the show from sinking into darkness.

I’ve tried to think of a good comparison for the darkly comedic but deadly serious tone of “Barry,” and the closest show I can come up with is “Weeds,” which I also loved.

The writing, the acting (I didn’t even mention the always-great Stephen Root is in this, as Barry’s quasi-mentor in the assassin world) and the final two episodes of the eight-episode season in particular make “Barry” a sensational investment of your time.

The whole first season is on Demand and streaming on HBO now; if you’re looking for a quick binge but one that will stay with you awhile, this is for you.

**Next up today, who doesn’t love it when school district bureaucrats decide to try get funny? I certainly love it, and it seems to happen the most when schools need to cancel days because of snow.

Let’s give it up for the creativity and awesomeness, then, of these two Swartz Creek (Mich.) administrators, who decided to let everyone know about school cancellation by writing new lyrics to the classic ‘Hallelujah.”

Really awesome stuff.

**Finally today, this has to be one of the most bizarre stories in a long time. So check this out: A French college student studying in Rennes, France really didn’t want his parents flying to visit him, coming from his hometown of Lyon.

Now, most kids would’ve handled this by faking an illness, or making up one of a dozen excuses as to why this wasn’t a good time, Mom and Dad.

But this kid outdid every other excuse-making child, ever: He actually called in a bomb threat to the plane his parents were on, forcing the plane back to Lyon and all the passengers to disembark.

According to this story, “After being taken into custody, the student was referred to the Rennes public prosecutor’s office. The prosecutor stated that the young man does not appear to have a psychological disorder. He is scheduled to appear in court in May and could face five years in prison and an $85,000 fine if found guilty.”

I mean, wow.  Really dude? Think maybe you went a little overboard there?

The Patriots are less-sucky than the Rams in one of the worst Super Bowls ever. And thoughts on Maroon 5, the heart-tugging ads, and more

Well that was pretty freaking terrible.

I’ve been watching the Super Bowl every year since I was 8; the first one I really remember watching was at my cousin Robby’s house in 1984, when the Raiders crushed the Redskins. Some years the game is great; others not so good.

But if this wasn’t the worst Super Bowl I’ve ever seen, it’s definitely in Top two or 3. Even the Super Bowl blowouts of my childhood had some scoring; this game Sunday night was ridiculously boring. By the second quarter I was eagerly chatting with the guests at my in-laws house during the game and asking everyone to be quiet during the commercials, when usually it’s the other way around.

This baby was 3-3, in the FOURTH QUARTER! And then the Patriots scored a touchdown, putting together a really good drive, and the Rams and their wunderkind coach and wunderkind QB couldn’t do anything, and the game ended and I would be hard-pressed to remember a single great play in it.

Grrrr. Can we just call the Saints and Chiefs and see if they’re free to play a third-place game next week? Because I have to think either of those teams would’ve put on a better show.

But hey, look, it was a dud of a game, but the Patriots won and have now won a ridiculous SIX Super Bowls in the past 18 years. That is mind-boggling, and always will be. Bill Belichick is a lot of things (genius, cheating bastard, boring, bad dresser) but he’s probably the best person in the history of the world at coaching football, and I can’t ever see someone achieving the feats he has, in as short a time period as he has.

Some quick thoughts on that mind-numbing game before I get to the commercials, which were only slightly better…

— That Rams offense… I mean, wow. I know Belichick is a genius and all that, but how do you score three points in the Super Bowl, with that much offensive talent? I thought the game looked way too big for Jared Goff, the L.A. quarterback. Sometimes it takes a few humiliations for an athlete to achieve something great. Maybe Goff uses this loss as motivation.

— So something was definitely wrong with the Rams’ star Todd Gurley, who tore up the NFL all season, then disappeared the last two games. They can say he wasn’t hurt all they want, but that was NOT the same player. And without him Sunday, the Rams offense was way too one-dimensional.

— Bill Belichick is the oldest head coach to ever win a Super Bowl (He’s 66). Tom Brady is the oldest QB to ever win a Super Bowl (he’s 41). They’ve been together, as head coach and starting QB, since 2001. It’s now 2019. I just shake my head.

— Halftime show. I know this goes contrary to the Internet reaction, but I thought Maroon 5 was fine. Nothing great, nothing terrible. The inclusion of SpongeBob threw me for a loop, and while I’m not a fan of Travis Scott or Big Boi, I thought they were fine, too. I would like to say that whoever does Adam Levine’s tattoos must be a super-busy fella, and that I’m not sure what that choir was doing there. But hey, it was fine.

**OK, on to the commercials. I thought they were … decent. I liked the Jason Bateman elevator one for Hyundai, thought the the Bud Light “corn syrup” one was terrible, as was that weird Ridley Scott movie thing.

The Sarah Jessica Parker-Jeff Bridges Stella Artois ad was really clever, and the Budweiser ad with Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” playing was terrific.

But these were my three favorites, absolutely without a doubt. The best one, that gave me ALL the feels, was this Microsoft ad about adaptive technology controllers for kids with special needs. Just so sweet and heartwarming…

No. 2 for me, and yes I’m biased as a journalist toward this one, was the Washington Post’s fantastic commercial showing just how important newspapers, and reporters, are. Especially when I saw Jamal toward the end, I got emotional and felt so proud of the incredible work so many reporters do every day.

**And my third-favorite Super Bowl ad was this one from Verizon, starring Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn, and the first responders who saved his life after a horrible car accident in 2005. The look of surprise on Lynn’s face when he meets them again… just wonderful.

Good News Friday: The L.A. Rams player who decided to take the team janitor to the Super Bowl. A blind Portugese singer channels Whitney Houston, awesomely. And the little couple from Michigan who found a lottery loophole and just kept on winning

And a Happy Friday to all of you out there, as many of us in the Northeast and Midwest hope to un-freeze this morning.

It’s Super Bowl weekend. OK, let’s try that again: It’s Super Bowl weekend!
Nah, that didn’t feel right. I’m just not that excited about the Big Game; I don’t know if it’s Patriots fatigue, or I’m still pissed that the Saints got robbed last week, or what. But I can’t remember the last time I was this un-enthused about a Super Bowl.

Anyway, I’m sure it’ll be a great game, with great commercials and maybe I’ll even enjoy Maroon 5 at halftime.

If you’re unattached and looking for a good guy to root for on one of the teams, maybe my leadoff item in today’s Good News Friday will help you. Brandin Cooks is one of the offensive stars of the Los Angeles Rams, and last week, after the Rams clinched a spot in the Super Bowl, he decided to do something special for one of the team’s custodians, Alfonso Garcia.

Cooks told the team he wanted to buy two tickets for Garcia and his son to fly to Atlanta and be at the game in person.

“You mean so much to us. … You’re special — what you do around here. And everything that you do does not go unnoticed,” Cooks told Garcia.

The team shot video of Garcia finding out, and it’s pretty great.

Wonderful job, Brandin Cooks.

**Next up today, there are a million talent shows on TV these days, and if one of them doesn’t find this girl and sign her up, it’ll be a big mistake.

My friend and loyal blog reader Matthew L. had this on his Twitter feed the other day and I am so lucky I got to see it. This is a blind girl in the Phillipines named Elsie. She doesn’t speak English, and has never been to school. And yet, here she is singing Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You.”

Absolutely beautiful.

**And finally today, it’s pretty rare that something on “60 Minutes” would warrant inclusion on Good News Friday for me, but I loved this little story so much. My friend Jon Wertheim, who has recently become a correspondent on the show (but he’ll always be a fabulous tennis writer to me, no matter how big he gets) tells the tale of Jerry and Marge Selbee, of Evert, Mich., and how they used a loophole in a state lottery game to eventually amass $26 million in riches.

Jerry’s a math whiz, he was retired, and everything he did in Michigan and then, Massachusetts, was totally, 100 percent legal. And the Selbees, with the help of their friends and family, set up generations of their offspring for life, thanks to some brilliant math and hard work to make it pay off.

This is definitely going to be a movie someday. Watch the whole story here., but here’s the teaser:

(Oh, and the other story that I loved involving the lottery this week?) This guy above, Tyler Heep, won $1 in a scratch-off game and went down to Iowa Lottery headquarters and asked for a giant check like the big winners get. So they gave it to him. Awesome.)

 

A couple destroys a woman’s life thanks to mistaken identity, and refuses to admit it. The incredible surfing feat you have to see. And “The Price is Right” contestant who was in the bathroom when her name was called

This is one of those stories that enraged me.

In the grand scheme of the whole world, it’s not the biggest deal in history. Of course there are many more horrible things done by horrible people to innocents that deserve more attention, and more headlines.

But this really, really bothered me. So people of my Generation, Generation X, may remember the name Kevin Powell. He was a cast member on the first season of MTV’s “The Real World,” playing the “angry black male” character to perfection. Powell has gone on to become an activist and author and received a small amount of fame, while also admitting to abusing numerous women when he was in college.

Well, he and his choreographer wife, Jinah Parker, were preparing to put on a dance show in 2017 when they received a nasty email from a woman named April Sellers. After the tiniest bit of research (Googling, basically) they tried to destroy the name and reputation of Miss Sellers, who they believed to be a Minneapolis theater director and actor. They wrote a viciously hateful email to the Minnesota arts community, the newspapers there, NPR, and many others.

Only, it turns out, they had the wrong April Sellers. The one in Minnesota (pictured above) had no Earthly idea why she was being defamed like this; the actual emailer was a different woman with the same name, who lived in Cleveland.

Now, ninety-nine times out of 100, this would result in an apology, a huge apology, and an attempt to make amends.

Only, no such thing happened. Far from it. And as a result, April Sellers’ Minnesota life was ruined, her career forever changed. There is a slightly, sort-of happy ending to this story, but I urge to read the whole thing and see how reckless, and purely blindly evil, two people can be toward another person, for no apparent reason.

I hope this story follows Kevin Powell for the rest of his life. And that one day, he and Parker wise up and realize just how incredibly wrong they were.

**Next up today, this is one of those athletic feats that is so incomprehensible to me, I don’t even know how you could ever get this good at this. A Brazilian surfer named Rodrigo Koxa just broke the world record for the highest wave ever surfed, at 82 feet, during a session in Portugal, this week.

EIGHTY-TWO FEET high, this wave was. That’s 11 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s stacked on top of one another, with me added on top just for fun.

Insane.

**And finally today, big shout-out to my friend and loyal blog reader Kathy for pointing me to this the other day, as she knew this is exactly the kind of thing I’d want to blog about.

On a recent episode of “The Price is Right,” last week, audience member Tara Armstrong was called down to come to Contestant’s Row. The thrill of a lifetime! A chance to win big prizes and money!

Except after Tara’s name was called, nothing happened for a while. It seems Tara was in the bathroom, answering nature’s call instead of that of the show announcer.

Finally, Tara left her Estate (see what I did there?) and made it down to where Drew Carey would greet her.

I have so many questions, like: Didn’t you go before the show, Tara? And don’t they give you time during commercial breaks to go pee? And do you think she heard her name and ran out without washing her hands, because she was so excited to be on “The Price is Right?”

The world wonders.