An NYPD officer shows great heart and compassion to a homeless man. A pretty amazing commercial from Poland will make you smile. And The Kindness Project

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And a Happy Friday to you on a freezing cold day in New York. So many good holiday stories and videos out there to help me forget/not think about the un-ending series of awful choices for the next Cabinet. I mean, as my friend Dave helpfully pointed out to me in a text Thursday night, Trump has nominated an anti-justice Attorney General, an anti-education Education secretary, an anti-environment guy to lead the EPA (who literally has spent years suing the EPA!) and an anti-labor person to be Labor Secretary! Hard to do.

Anyway, lots of good news stories this week. Let’s start with this one, which seems to be kind of an annual event: An NYPD officer named Frank Rendina saw a homeless man he knew named Ron Brown digging through a garbage can at Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan last Friday.

The two men have known each other for a while, and cross paths about twice a month, the 32-year-old cop said.

Rendina asked Brown what he was doing, and Brown said his diabetes was bad and he couldn’t afford to pay for the diabetic socks his doctor said he needed.

Rendina said he’d buy them for Brown and give them to him the next time he saw him, which was a few days later.

“It makes me feel great,” Brown said about Rendina’s special gift, which was handed over to him inside Grand Central Terminal. “Someone thinks of me like a person, a human. Not everyone thinks of people like that these days.”

Every little bit of kindness helps these days.

**Next up, every once in a while a foreign commercial sneaks up on me and blows me away while making me reach for the tissue box.

This holiday ad from an online auction site in Poland called Allegro starts off slowly, with a man trying to learn English, and you don’t know exactly where it’s going, but it’s compelling. And then the last 15 seconds… just so freaking beautiful.

Such a well-done ad that’ll make you smile.

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**Finally today, this is a story from Upworthy.com that starts with tragedy but ends with hope and happiness. A woman named Joanne Cacciatore suffered a tragedy in July, 1994 when her daughter was born stillborn. It was the worst day of Joanne’s life, she says.

Joanne grieved for months, and on what would’ve been her daughter Cheyenne’s first Christmas, Jaonne took the money she would have spent on presents and bought a bunch of toys for underprivileged kids through a local charity.

“And in that moment [Cheyenne] was very much alive, because my love for her continued, and I was able to enact that love in the world,” she told Yahoo! News.

That’s when she first became aware of the immense healing power of giving. From there, she started The Kindness Project. It asks grieving parents to do good deeds in their communities in memory of a lost child, or friend, or parent, or spouse.

They then leave behind a small note card so the recipient can channel their gratitude toward the deceased and know that person’s life and death continues to matter.

Really just a terrific idea. Losing a loved one, especially a child, is unspeakably horrible, but by at least turning such a catastrophic event around and doing something kind in their memory, you’re making the world a slightly better place.

“While these good deeds do not eradicate grief, nor should they do so,” Cacciatore wrote, “They do provide a means through which the mourner can redirect painful emotions into feelings of love and compassion and hope.”

The most powerful and stunning commercial of the year. I take in Duke basketball at MSG and am really excited. And Corden and Kendrick make more TV magic

It takes so much. It takes so much to really shock people anymore, especially with a short public service commercial intended to help change minds on an issue that seems so intractable.

This is the most powerful ad I’ve seen in a long, long time. I don’t want to tell you what it’s about, because I don’t want to blunt the force of it.

Just please take a few minutes and watch until the end. Just an amazing, amazing ad.

It was put out by a group called Sandy Hook Promise, and its devastating message will hopefully sink in. The students who are being ignored are the ones who need our help the most.

**Next up today, you people should know by now that I love, love, love me some Anna Kendrick (definitely on my Ross Gellar-approved “laminated” list of celebrities my wife will let me be with should, you know, the opportunity arise), and I do love some James Corden and Billy Eichner, so there was no way I’d miss this little musical number they did on Corden’s show last week.

Really funny and great.

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**Finally today, I went to Madison Square Garden Tuesday night to watch my beloved Duke men’s basketball team play Florida. I saw the Duke-Kansas game at MSG a few weeks ago, but the Blue Devils were very shorthanded in that one, three of the stud freshmen who are supposed to lead Duke back to the Final Four were all hurt. (Gotta say, though, that the atmosphere at MSG that night, with Duke-Kansas and Kentucky-Michigan St. playing a doubleheader, was the best environment for hoops I’ve ever seen at MSG. Crowd was nuts.)

Tuesday night Duke finally had most of its freshmen playing, and … man, was I impressed. Florida is a legit Top 20 team, and Duke had to play really well to beat them, by 10, 74-64.

It was only the second college game for superstar freshman Jayson Tatum, and man oh man was he great. He started slow but came on strong in the second half, scoring 16 points. Guy is 6-9, can shoot, dribble, rebound and score in traffic. He dominated stretches of the game, and he’s not even in game shape yet. He’s going to be so much fun to watch this season.

This Duke team, with the freshmen like Tatum, Marques Bolden and hopefully Harry Giles healthy, could be all kinds of scary. I know everyone reading this probably hates Duke, but as a Duke fan I”m extremely excited for the rest of the year.

Could be national title No. 6 for Coach K.

The Joe McKnight murder proves once again the incredible race divide in the criminal justice system. An amazing play wins a state title in N.J. And thoughts on the amazing Raiders, the surprising Bucs, and the pitiful Niners

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The next time someone tells you the criminal justice system in America works the same for everybody, before you start fuming, tell them a little about the murder of Joe McKnight last week.

Maybe you heard about it. McKnight, 28, is a former college star at USC and NFL player for a few years, and was an African-American living in his hometown of New Orleans. He was involved in an apparent road-rage incident with a 54-year-old white male named Ronald Gasser.
McKnight was unarmed. Gasser shot him three times and killed him. Gasser stayed at the scene, handed his weapon to police, and was arrested.

Gasser walked out of jail on bail less than 24 hours later. He has not yet been charged with a crime.

The outrage I feel about this is palpable. But my friend Kelly Markowitz said it better on her Facebook page better than I could.

So take it away, Kelly…

“Close your eyes and imagine if the victim was white and the shooter was black. Never would the accused have been released without being charged. Actually if this scene had played out and the races were reversed, it’s likely the accused shooter would have been shot himself by police officers. NO gun on the victim! What will it take for the general population to acknowledge and feel the injustice?

Yes, there is something called white privilege … You’d think after 11 generations of African Americans living as slaves we could somehow start moving forward and act like civilized human beings. But no, while we no longer have slavery, bigoted white people still can’t seem to grow the fuck up and acknowledge their inhumane and evil past, yet they continue the tradition of racism, bigotry and inequality. Hey, guess what? Yes, we all look different. Just because you have blonde hair or have pale skin doesn’t make you superior or entitle to special treatment. And if you think so, you’re an idiot.”

What she said.

It is unfathomable that a black man who shot a white man in a road rage incident would be let out of jail immediately. Oh, don’t give me bunk about Louisiana’s “Stand Your Ground” law and how they’re still gathering evidence, yada yada yada.

Pure horse-crap. White man murders unarmed black man in broad daylight, isn’t even in jail for two days.

“Everybody wants to make this about race. This isn’t about race,” Sheriff Newell Normand said.

Nah. Of course not, Newell. Just despicable.

**Next up today, this time of year is great for seeing epic plays that win state championships and stuff. How about this on Saturday from Mater Dei Catholic in New Jersey, to beat Holy Spirit in the Non-Public Group 2 championship game? That happened with four seconds left in the game.
You know those kids practiced this all year and were like, “No way coach EVER calls this in a game!”

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**Somebody rouse Ken Stabler from the grave, and go tell Fred Biletnikoff and Jack Tatum the news: The Oakland Raiders are a full-fledged beast again.

Are you aware they’re now the No.1 seed in the AFC, and if the season ended today they’d have homefield throughout the playoffs? I know it was just Buffalo on Sunday, but the Raiders roared back from a 24-9 deficit and demolished the Rex Ryans, 38-24.

They’re 10-2. Haven’t had a winning season since the year after 9/11, for crying out loud. They’ve got an exciting young team, a rabid fan base… and so of course it looks like they’re going to move to Las Vegas soon.

Ah, sports.

— Yet another way the longer extra point, and the 2-point conversion, have made football more exciting: Atlanta scores to go ahead of Kansas City late in the 4th quarter, 28-27. They go for two to give themselves a three-point lead, only the Chiefs’ Eric Berry intercepts the 2-point pass and goes the other way for two points, and suddenly K.C. is back up and they win the game by those points. Nuts.

— Raiders-Chiefs for AFC West supremacy Thursday night. First good Thursday night game, maybe ever.

— Larry Fitzgerald is one hell of a player. Third all-time in receptions now after Sunday. And he’s a sportswriter’s kid. Gotta be the best athlete progeny an ink-stained wretch has ever produced.

— So the Giants finally play a decent football team and get smacked. Very interested to see how they play Dallas next Sunday night.

— Finally, a few words about Chip Kelly and his 1-11 San Francisco 49ers. I really, really thought he got a raw deal in Philly. I thought he was an innovator and someone who, like Jimmy Johnson, would come from college and change the NFL a bit.
They got whipped Sunday by the 2-9 Bears.
So I’m starting to have doubts about Mr. Kelly’s genius.

Good News Friday: The annual Teddy Bear toss at a hockey game makes me smile. Wes Anderson with an awesome holiday commercial. And an incredible story of an 82-year-old widower and his 4-year-old “angel.”

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And a Happy Friday and happy December to all of you out there in Internet-land. This post will be short and (hopefully) sweet since your humble blogger has a nasty head cold and a nose that may never become unstuffed. On the plus side, my current frog-croaky voice is probably a huge turn-on for the ladies of New York City!

First up today, one of my favorite sports holiday traditions that few people outside of Calgary know about is the Calgary Hitmen’s annual Teddy Bear Toss. The minor league hockey team (Named after local hero Bret “Hitman” Hart, I believe) holds an event every year where on a certain date, fans throw thousands of teddy bears onto the ice when the Hitmen score their first goal.

The teddy bears are then donated to sick and needy children through 60 local agencies, just in time for the holidays.

Seriously, how awesome is that visual of all the bears flying on the ice?

Love it, love it, love it.

**Next up today, this is one super-slick and awesome mini-movie that director Wes Anderson has shot for H&M Department store. It’s about four minutes and it ends with a wonderful little scene. Really, really great stuff here.

**And finally today, this story has made me cry all three times I’ve watched it. Grab some tissues, yourself. It’s from Steve Hartman of CBS News, whose work I cannot praise enough. It’s about an 82-year-old Georgia man named Dan Peterson, who fell into a deep depression when his beloved wife died, and a 4-year-old stranger named Nora, who just about saved Dan’s life.

So much good, and so much love, in the world. Sometimes it pops up in the supermarket, just like Nora did.

The “Gilmore Girls” reunion movies: Lots of hits, lots of big misses. An NFL kicker sings an amazing “Ave Maria.” And a weekend at a hotel pool reminds me of how far we’ve come

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With the hindsight of about two hours, I’ll admit it:

There’s no way the “Gilmore Girls” reunion movies could’ve lived up to my full expectations. I’d loved this remarkable television series so much, and had been so excited when I heard creators Amy and Dan Palladino were making four 1.5 hour “episodes” to wrap the series up, that I knew when it finally arrived I’d probably be a little disappointed.

Lots, and lots of thoughts to share: Overall, I thought it was a little better than OK. Part 1 “Winter” and Part 4 “Fall” were very strong, and really delved deep into the old “Gilmore Girls” world. The middle two parts … horrible. Blech. Just bad in so many ways.

And now, a disclaimer so no one yells at me…

WARNING: I’M ABOUT TO TALK ABOUT SPECIFICS OF THE GILMORE GIRLS MOVIES. IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN IT YET AND DON’T WANT TO KNOW ANYTHING, SKIP TO THE VIDEO BELOW.

Everybody still with me? Good. Here goes…

Things I loved about the reunion movies: Any time Emily and Lorelai were on screen together; they have such amazing chemistry. Particularly, the scenes where Emily was in jeans and getting rid of everything in her house, and the emotional power of Lorelai’s phone call to her mother during her “Wild” hike that wasn’t that talked about a day when she was 13, was amazing.

— Paris Gellar. Just fantastic. Every scene Liza Weil was in, reprising her role as Paris, was incredible. Paris as a fertility clinic matchmaker but still being a total mess emotionally? Gold. Her fights with ex-husband Doyle? Absolutely wonderful. I could not get enough Paris, I just wish she were in all four movies.

— The Life and Death Brigade: Yeah, I know Colin and Finn get annoying after a while, but I felt like their 15 minutes in the “Fall” episode was terrific. Just enough of them to remember how great they were.

— Kirk. Oh, how I love me some Kirk. The “Oober” storyline cracked me up, as did his playing soccer with Emily’s housekeeper’s kids. And the Kirk movie… Oscar-worthy.

— The Mae Whitman (Amber from “Parenthood” cameo). Yeah, I know it had no point except to show us both of Lauren Graham’s TV daughters at the same time. But I laughed and loved it. A great touch.

— Sutton Foster at the end of the musical: I hated just about everything else about the “Stars Hollow: The Musical” episode, the whole thing felt like it went on for 11 hours. But the Sutton Foster song at the end was terrific.

Things I hated about the reunion movies: Just about every single Rory storyline. Man, did the Palladinos blow this. They took a smart, career-motivated, intelligent young woman who left Yale ready to conquer the world and turned her into an indecisive, flailing quasi-pathetic woman who at age 32 is totally lost. Just impossible to root for or like, Rory turned into something unrecognizable.

— The musical numbers: Horrendous. Stupid. Not funny in the least. Just a complete waste of time.

— The “Summer” episode: By far the worst one. Who knew Stars Hollow even had a pool?

— The “Sandee Says” website storyline: OK so let me get this straight: This gossipy celebrity website chases Rory for a year, desperately wants to hire her, finally she agrees, and then the snotty boss basically acts like she has no idea who Rory is and doesn’t hire her? Completely stupid and unrealistic.

— The Rory “boyfriend” everyone forgets about: This also made no sense. We’re supposed to believe this guy “Paul” has been dating Rory for two years, except he’s never around and no one remembers anything about him? Lazy, silly writing.

And finally …

— The ending, and the “final four words” that the Palladinos had been guarding like a national security secret all these years? They were pretty shocking. But they make sense in a full circle kind of way. Series began with Lorelai having a daughter unexpectedly 16 years earlier, and now Rory apparently has gotten pregnant by Logan.
I really don’t know if I liked this or didn’t like it yet. Would love to hear any of your thoughts…

**And now, for something completely different. The Baltimore Ravens seem to have a knack for having players who have amazing talents outside of football. One of their offensive lineman, John Urschel, is a math genius from MIT. And their placekicker, maybe the best kicker in the game right now, can sing opera.

Seriously. This is Justin Tucker, NFL star, belting out one hell of an “Ave Maria.”

Amazing.

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**Finally today, a little riff on progress. The family and I went to Baltimore last week for Thanksgiving, and last Friday we took our 2-year-old downstairs to the hotel pool.

I swam with him for a bit, we splashed around, he laughed and had a great time. At one point, though, I looked around and noticed something. There were a few African-American kids in the pool, along with a handful of white children.

Several of them were playing together, some made-up game, and it struck me all at once: Fifty years ago, in many places, this scene would’ve been illegal.

Black children in a pool with white children? In Maryland, which is technically the South? Unheard of. Just five decades earlier, a scene like this would caused outrage and alarm.

And yet, such a short period of time later, it was the most normal thing in the world.
No big overarching point here, just a reminder to myself that we complain about how slow racial progress is in so many areas.

But in small ways, we’ve come so far from such a dark, segregationist past.

After a great Thanksgiving weekend, thoughts on three notable deaths: Castro, Henderson, and Branca

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I’m still pretty full from a four-day weekend of orgy-like eating and drinking, but man was it fun. So much seems to have happened since my last blog on Wednesday; want to share thoughts about the long-awaited “Gilmore Girls” reunion movie and a deep thought I had watching children of many races swimming together at our hotel pool in Baltimore.

But that will have to wait until Wednesday’s post.

Today, while trying hard to be surprised by the Jets losing to the Patriots again on Sunday (what? this Tom Brady fellow is decent at 4th-quarter comebacks?) I wanted to write about the trio of celebrity deaths last week that each deserve thinking about.

The first and by far the most consequential to the world was Fidel Castro. So much has been written since he died on Friday, so much of it outstanding, but reading this NYT obit really struck me. There was a thing I read about years ago, I can’t remember where, about assessing each person’s life by asking what their “between the commas” moment would be.

As in, when you’re reading someone’s obit, what’s the major event or accomplishment that would be in-between the commas in the first paragraph of their death story. You know, like “Eli Whitney, inventor of the cotton gin, died at 68.” Or “Harry Truman, who as U.S. President dropped nuclear bombs on Japan, died at …”

You get the idea. It’s your signature you’ve left on the world. Well, I’ve been reading obits for more than 30 years, and I’ve never quite read a “between the commas” like this one for Fidel: “Fidel Castro, the fiery apostle of revolution who brought the Cold War to the Western Hemisphere in 1959 and then defied the United States for nearly half a century as Cuba’s maximum leader, bedeviling 11 American presidents and briefly pushing the world to the brink of nuclear war, died on Friday. He was 90.”

I mean… damn. That’s one hell of legacy. Castro was a dictator, a showman, an absolutely brutal human being who somehow charmed and frightened five decades’ worth of rival world leaders.

He survived something like 600 assassination attempts, a total matched only by Batman and James Bond. He nearly, of course, brought the world to an end (or at least, to the brink of a nuclear war) in 1962, and somehow held on to power for nearly five decades, despite starving his people and isolating Cuba from the world.

Castro was a medical marvel, and there’s also the famous story that in the 1950s he had a baseball tryout with the Washington Senators. Can you imagine how the world would have changed if he’d made the team?

There has, frighteningly, been a lot of praise for Castro since his passing, including a wildly tone-deaf statement from Canadian PM Justin Trudeau. But this man should be remembered for being evil, for fomenting hatred wherever he went, and for the pain and suffering he caused millions and millions of Cubans.

I hope one of those cigars he loved are currently roasting him in the afterlife.

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**Florence Henderson was, and always will be, remembered as Carol Brady. If you’re like me, one of the millions of people who loved “The Brady Bunch” through reruns, she has lived on all these years later as a loving and gentle mother to six sometimes-unruly children.

Of course we made fun of “The Brady Bunch” for its preachiness, it’s wholesomeness, and its complete detachment from reality. But dammit, Mrs. Brady’s warm smile could melt any cynicism.

Henderson later went on to be the famous Wesson Oil spokesperson and more recently, she founded a company that helped older people learn to use electronic devices like DVD players, iPhones and DVR.

She was an iconic American actress, and she will be missed. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go play ball in the house, even though Mom always said not to.

**Finally, a few words about someone you might not be as familiar with. For every great sports moment in history, there’s someone or some team on the other end of it, whose failure made it happen. Ralph Branca was a very good pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1950s, but like Bill Buckner after him and Fred Merkle before him, all most people remember about Branca is that he gave up one of the most famous homers in baseball history, to Bobby Thomson on Oct. 3, 1951 that won the pennant for the Giants and lost it for Brooklyn.

But Branca was so much more than that one moment. I got to interview him several times over the years and found him to be unfailingly polite, charming and always willing to talk about the one awful pitch he threw that made him famous.

Branca was incredibly accepting of Jackie Robinson when he came to the Dodgers, and had a reputation of being all class.

I hope he’s remembered for more than just one pitch.

A Good News Thanksgiving post: The 55-year-old first-time college football player amazes. My annual tribute to “Cheers” Thanksgiving food fight. And the greatest knitting Grandpa ever

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With Thanksgiving coming up this week, your humble blogger and family are down in the great state of Maryland, visiting loved ones and meeting two new babies that were born in our family in the past year! Not going to have a blog post on Friday, so I’m posting a Good News Thanksgiving post today.

I have so much to be thankful for this year, as I hope most of you do. Sure, we’re about to have a sociopath leading the free world, but hey, comedy writers and late-night comedians will have plenty of material.

Wishing you and yours a happy, healthy and safe Thanksgiving. On with the show …

First up today, I love stories like this, of perseverance and of people getting to do something love, no matter how late in life it comes.

Joe Thomas, Sr., is 55 years old. He’s a college football running back for South Carolina State. You might say he’s a little bit older than his teammates; hell, he could be the father of all of his teammates.

He’s been practicing with S.C. State for a few years now; it seems Joe was a star football player in high school 40 years ago, but he wasn’t given the opportunity to play college ball (he was partially deaf as well). When his son, Joe Thomas Jr. (now in the NFL) enrolled at South Carolina State, Joe Sr. decided he wanted to give college a shot, and finally, last week, he was given a chance to play running back, carrying the ball once.

“It’s the happiest day of my life,” Thomas said.

How did he get here? SI.com did a great story on Thomas here.

**Next up today, I try to run this video every year around Thanksgiving, because it always makes me smile as one of the funniest TV scenes ever.

You’ve seen it before, but watch it again. “Cheers,” Carla’s house, Norm’s turkey won’t cook … and the best food fight ever.

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**And finally today, this is just wonderful. An 86-year-old man in Atlanta named Ed Moseley learned to knit recently, so he could make thousands of little baby hats for preemies at a local hospital. (And as Toby on “The West Wing” learned years ago, babies come with hats!)

“I prevailed on my daughter to get a kit, and it comes with the right size loom and the right tools to help you knit one,” Moseley told ABC News. “I just followed the instructions. It was easy. Somehow I had never knitted, and I always associated knitting with a bunch of needles but this looked pretty doable for me. I went through two or three before I came out with a good finished product.”

“To have a gift left at the bedside, or a nurse put the hat on the little baby’s head, makes it all seem less like a hospital,” Linda Kelly, clinical manager of the special care nursery, said. “It’s important for families to see their baby as a baby and not as a patient. This will help to get the families to that spot.”

Those little premies are very lucky.

 

The Trump cabinet is as scary as we feared. SNL does a great skit, but it’s soon not going to be funny. And the Detroit Lions are in first place! And other NFL thoughts

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So it’s been almost two weeks and I’m still not quite believing that a 70-year-0ld vulgar, talking yam who is the most unqualified man ever to become United States President, actually is going to be President in a couple months.

For a few days after the election, there was some laughable talk that Mr. Trump would actually try to be calmer, more sober, and not hire as many radical nutjobs as he had working for him on the campaign.

But nope. So far Trump’s major appointments have included a white nationalist sympathizer (Steve Bannon), a completely-lost-his-marbles general (Michael Flynn), and a Senator from Alabama who was deemed to racist to be a federal judge 30 years ago (Jeff Sessions).

Also, Trump has refused to talk to the press or to the public, he got all mad that his VP got booed at “Hamilton” (gee, hard to see how the most anti-gay VP ever would get heckled on Broadway, though I do give props for Pence’s quote that the boos “sounded like freedom of speech.” He took it better than his boss.) and oh yeah, his chief of stuff, Reince Priebus, said that we may well have a “Muslim Registry” of all Muslims who live in America.

I’m sorry, was Joe McCarthy brought back to life or am I imagining things?

This is how bad it’s been: I hear Mitt Romney might be Secretary of State and I’m like “whew, a grownup!”

It’s all just still so dizzying, that so many unserious, offensive people will be having a major role in our government. And that Trump is having meetings and phone calls with world leaders on unsecured phones in Trump Tower. And that he’s still Tweeting about “SNL” and that his business interests already seem so intertwined with his Presidency.

(That letter above, by the way, was from a Dad to his son Jack, about how to live under Trump’s rule. I love it, and think we all should heed its advice.)

I guess as soon as I start accepting this is real, the better off I’ll feel. I have been saying to people that I really don’t think Trump will last four years as President: He’ll either get bored and quit, or become so wildly, spectacularly a failure that he’ll be forced to resign by Congress.

Either one is fine with me.

**Next up, Alec Baldwin continues to do excellent work on “Saturday Night Live,” as Trump, though the man himself Tweeted how unfunny and unfair it was. (The great Jason Gay of the Wall Street Journal  Tweeted back “Dude, you watch more TV than a latch-key kid.”

The Mitt Romney handshake at the 4-minute mark slayed me.

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**And finally today, the Detroit Lions are in first place! Let me say that again: The Detroit Lions are in first place. No, really, the Detroit Lions are in first place.

This is a statement that’s said as often as “Mmmmm, asparagus!” by 7-year-olds, or “You know what we need? More snow!” by New Englanders in February. The Lions have stunk for about 60 years, pretty consistently. But somehow this year they’re less stinky than usual.

Sure it takes last-minute heroics for them to win (I’m afraid my friend Abel, a die-hard Lions fan, might have a heart attack by the end of the season, and he has two kids and is a great friend, I can’t have that happen!), but hey, they’re now 6-4 and tied for first and it seems nuts. Their best player, Calvin Johnson, retired after last season, they seem to always fall behind, but somehow have been finding ways to win.

Detroit Lions, first place. Sounds about as crazy as President Donald Trump, doesn’t it?

Some more NFL thoughts on a cold Monday…

— So Kirk Cousins is pretty good now, right Washington fans? You hate him, you love him. I get it. Today you love him. He torched Green Bay and suddenly 3 NFC East teams could make the playoffs. Hate seeing world-class jerk Daniel Snyder accidentally have a winning team, though.

— So much for my declaration last week that the Kansas City Chiefs were really good, huh? Ah, everyone gets a mulligan.

— I don’t understand how the Arizona Cardinals are this mediocre. Much the same team from last year, a great coach in Bruce Arians, and they’re losing way too often. Not going to make the playoffs at this rate, and I really thought they could be a Super Bowl team.

— Finally, spare a thought for the Cleveland Browns. Zero and 11 is no way to spend Thanksgiving.

 

Good News Friday: Shaq does the hora at a Jewish wedding, and it’s awesome. A World Series pitcher helps a girl on Twitter with her homework. And a baby polar bear dreaming is adorable.

And a Happy Friday to you out there in Internet-land. Thanksgiving is coming, the leaves have turned, the New York Rangers are the best team in hockey (well OK maybe not the best but I’m still pretty damn excited at their 13-4 start!), and we still have 64 more days of a sane human being President of the United States. (Check out this amazing article by the New Yorker’s David Remnick on Obama, pre and post-election thoughts.) So sure, I’m in a good mood.

We start Good News Friday with Shaquille O’Neal, who knows how to have a good time and poke fun at himself as much as any athlete I’ve ever seen. Shaq is a giant teddy bear, he’s got a great personality, and he does goofy stuff like this (My favorite Shaq quote may be the time he coached a friend’s kid’s youth hockey game and told them pregame, “Fellas, I don’t know much about hockey, but the fourth quarter is ours!”)

My latest favorite Shaq moment was this: One of Shaq’s business partners invited him to his son’s Jewish wedding last week, and of course at every Jewish wedding there’s a hora dance, and so of course Shaq joined in.

If you’re not smiling watching this, your jaw may be wired shut. Look at how happy all the tiny, white people are dancing with this mammoth human!

**Next up, the Columbus Zoo released a video of a baby polar bar sleeping and having vivid dreams and I think it’s kind of adorable. So here you go…

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**Finally today, I thought this was kind of cool. Cleveland Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer, who a few weeks after injuring his finger while cleaning his drone (who among us hasn’t done that once or twice?) pitched in the World Series, was on Twitter recently and got a Tweet from a girl needing help with her math homework.

Bauer was eager to help, even with the girl, Maddie Martin, having to get back to him about the specifics of the question.

Bauer takes Maddie, a big Indians fan, through her problem, and then even says he’s “glad he could help.!” when she says she now understands.

This is great. But I’m damn envious. Where the hell was Don Mattingly in 1989 when I couldn’t understand Mr. Gallo’s algebra homework??? Where was my hero then, huh???

 

I’m raising money for a good cause again, a NYC soup kitchen. Jon Hamm is hilarious in “Billy on the Street.” And a town in Colorado finds the answer to potholes: Toilet paper!

soupkitchen-forblog

It’s that time of year again, when Thanksgiving creeps up on us and many of us think about which charities or organizations to support. And along with the usual causes this year, those that will oppose and try to at least mitigate the damage our new President seems destined to do also ought to be in your mind.

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

I’ve been volunteering there for about five years, and it’s truly a wonderful place.  Located on 28th St. and 9th Avenue here in Manhattan and open for 31 years (it’s pictured above), the soup kitchen serves more than 1,000 meals daily, making it the second-biggest such facility in America (apparently there’s a bigger soup kitchen in San Francisco).

It’s a terrific and huge enterprise, staffed by about 50-60 volunteers per day. Some of us serve the food, others clear the tables, hand out drinks, cut up vegetables in the kitchen, etc. (lucky for me I still have all 10 of my fingers after once being asked to chop and slice. Let’s just say, Anthony Bourdain, I’m not)

Truthfully though, it’s more than a soup kitchen; Holy Apostles also helps the homeless in so many other ways, with free counseling services, free haircuts and toiletries, and often blankets and other clothes, along with free legal services, too.

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

Once again the kitchen is having its annual Fast-A-Thon, where on Thursday volunteers like me will eat only one meal a day to “walk in the shoes” of our patrons, and we’re raising money to help support the great work the kitchen does.

My wife and I have raised a little more than $1,000 so far but are trying to raise at least $1,500. I know the holidays are coming up and budgets are tight, but if you get any enjoyment from this blog each day, I’d ask you to please consider a small donation to to our fundraising page.

Thanks so much.

**Next up today, the cult TV show “Billy on The Street” is back, where once again host Billy Eichner enlists huge celebs to make fools of themselves hilariously on the streets of NYC.

To start the new season he’s got Jon Hamm, who does comedy way better than you would think, asking people if they’d have a threesome with he and Eichner. Definitely be careful watching this one with little kids around, but it’s pretty freaking great. Especially the final minute…

littleton-toiletpaper

**And finally today, a little bit of potty humor showing that sometimes, the best solution really is KrazyGlue, or Windex, or … toilet paper??

The city of Littleton, Colo., is using Cottonelle, Charmin and whatever other brands they’ve got to try to seal the cracks on the roads in the city. So far 120 streets have been used to fill the cracks (and please, by all means, make every joke you can think of about TP and filling cracks.)

According to this story, the Littleton city government says that the TP, applied with a paint roller, absorbs the oil from freshly laid tar as it dries, keeping it from sticking to people’s shoes or car and bike tires. With the paper’s protective abilities, asphalt isn’t tracked all over the city or splattered on wheel wells. And the biodegradable paper breaks down and disappears in a matter of days.

Sounds good to me. Of course, this leads to all kinds of questions: 1-ply or 2-ply? And is there a chance one of the TP companies can start using this in their commercials: “Soft on your tush, but tough on your potholes! Try new Charmin ultra-asphalt!”