Why I have mixed feelings about Saturday’s enormous marches across U.S. A hockey coach’s Dad does 100 straight push-ups and I’m in awe. And the Falcons and Patriots are feeling Super

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This was a pretty remarkable weekend in the history of the United States.

On Friday, the 45th President of America painted a horribly dark and vile portrait of our current-day 50 state union that seems at odds with reality.

Then on Saturday, millions upon millions of women, white, black and brown, old and young, marched in cities large and small across this nation that’s already great in opposition to the vile man who was just elected, vowing to fight him every step of the way. Men marched as well, and bless them too, but this was overwhelmingly a female statement.

Saturday night the new President and his press secretary chose not to usher in a fresh start and offer a new vision, but instead bitched and moaned at the press, then uttered bald-faced lies.

I don’t want to talk about Trump and his “alternative facts” today, there’ll be plenty of time for that.

I want to talk about the Women’s March, and why it left me with mixed feelings. On the one hand, it was amazing, beautiful, sensational and moving. I’m thrilled beyond belief that so many individuals availed themselves of our right to protest, and spoke loudly and clearly that the new President has many, many opponents.

I just … I just wish the millions who marched Saturday also stayed active and called their local representatives, and lobbied Congress, and ran for office themselves. Because as wonderful as Saturday was, it doesn’t change that the GOP controls 68 out of 100 state legislatures right now, and 31 governorships, and have both houses of Congress and the Presidency.

And that’s where the sausage gets made, the laws that restrict voting rights and have done a powerful job denying women’s rights to their own bodies, and have completely corrupted campaign finance reform, and horribly mismanaged our criminal justice system so a guy is in jail for 40 years for selling an ounce of pot.

That’s where the long-lasting impact of Saturday can lie. The march will be for naught unless we effect small, incremental changes at the lowest levels, and build from the way up. That’s what the Koch brothers realized in the 1980s, and look what they’ve wrought.

Don’t just be fired up and involved in political change once every four years. Come out to vote in 2018’s midterms. Lobby your local officials and don’t let draconian policies that greatly affect you fly under your radar.

Fighting for your rights shouldn’t be a once in a while thing when millions of others are doing it on the same day. It needs to be an every day thing if things are going to change.

 

**So this is pretty fantastic: Most every NHL team has a “Dad’s road trip” each season, where player’s Pops get to come on the road for a week or so, hang out with their famous kids, and watch a lot of games and beam with pride. It’s a really cool quirk and new tradition in the best sport in the world.

This, though, I’ve never seen. A man named Kenichi Ohashi, father of a Caps’ assistant coach, told the team he’d do 100 pushups if they won on Saturday. They won, so he did.

I’m in awe, Mr. Ohashi. Absolute awe.

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**Finally today, the Super Bowl is set, and it’s a matchup we’ve never seen before, which is always nice. But the bleepin’ New England Patriots are in it, which for me isn’t so nice.

A team that hasn’t been in the big game for 18 years, the Atlanta Falcons, destroyed Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers Sunday afternoon, 44-21, and it wasn’t that close.

I’m happy for Matt Ryan, who has presided over some pretty terrible playoff losses in his career and finally has won a big one. I’m happy for two guys I used to cover or write about, Eric Weems and Ricardo Allen, both from Daytona Beach, Fla., who will get the awesome experience of playing in the Super Bowl.

The Falcons offense is pretty sensational; yeah the Packers had won eight in a row and had lots of injuries on defense, but Atlanta just carved them up. Julio Jones, Ryan, a fierce offensive line… the Falcons are dangerous.

And then, the Patriots. This is their, what, 34th Super Bowl in the last 10 years or something? They just keep winning and winning, and Tom Brady made a deal with the devil to stay young forever, and Coach Hoodie keeps finding these undrafted dudes who no one else likes and turns them into Jerry Rice at wide receiver (Chris Hogan, it’s your turn) and it just gets tiring rooting for this team to fail year after year.

I have no idea who’ll win the Super Bowl yet; maybe Atlanta’s offense can light up the scoreboard and make this a great game after what’s been a pretty terrible NFL postseason.

Nobody outside of New England wants to see the Pats win a fifth title. For the next two weeks, we are ALL Falcons fans, right?

Good News Friday (Yeah, I’m ignoring the inauguration): An incredible heroic feet in an Indian snowstorm. An oldie-but-goodie marriage proposal that may give you a big smile. And a woman’s dying wish to see UNC-Duke will come true.

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I usually start these weekly posts with a “Happy Friday” greeting, but I can’t do it today because of,  you know, the Orange Man being inaugurated.

I will just say this: I hope so many of us are wrong about him.

OK, on to the first story, and this is pretty amazing. In the small village of Bhont, located in the northern hills of India, a 23-year-old woman named Kamini was nine months pregnant. Last week an enormous snowstorm hit her village, downing power lines and blocking roads. During the outages Kamini began feeling labor pains, and was prepared for the possibility of giving birth at home, with no one with any medical training available to help her.

Kamini’s parents were somehow able to walk to the local church, and found six policemen there. Telling them what the situation was, the policemen sprung into action.

The half-dozen officers walked back to Kamini’s house and carried her to the hospital, on a cot, for six miles on their shoulders. The trip took 3 1/2 hours, but they made it.

And a baby girl was born healthy. Six miles. In a snowstorm. On their shoulders.

Just fantastic. So much more good than evil in the world.

**Next up, I very rarely repeat videos from past posts, but some are so special that I like sharing them every once in a while. This might be my favorite video I’ve shared, and you may remember it since it went viral in 2012. Isaac in Portland, Ore., proposing to his wife, through a phenomenal lip-sync performance put on by he and their friends and family.

I’ve probably watched this 30 times, and I get choked up every single time. So great.

**And finally today, I know that 98 percent of people in America who follow sports hate Mike Krzyzewski and Duke, and even though I’m in the other 2 percent who think he’s an amazing man and coach, I recognize that there are lots of reasons people can dislike him.

But in the hopes of showing his softer side, I present this really sweet story.

A former Brigham Young University women’s basketball player named Melanie Pearson Day has terminal breast cancer, and may only have another year or two to live.

“Living life to the fullest is kind of my mantra now,” Day said. “I don’t know how much time I have, so I’m just going to do the most that I can with what I have.

She made a bucket list on her blog recently, and No. 1 was attending a Duke-North Carolina basketball game in Cameron Indoor Stadium at Duke.

She added “no one gets tickets to that,” and it is one of the toughest tickets in sports every year.

But the world of sports is sometimes small and mean, but sometimes it’s wonderful. A BYU coach contacted Duke and told them about Day, and a short time later, with the help of Duke and donations from the BYU men’s and women’s basketball players and coaches, Day and her husband would be going to the Duke-North Carolina game on Feb. 9.

“I was in shock,” Day said. “I’m not outwardly emotional and I usually hold it inside. I was screaming and crying and jumping up and down inside but I just couldn’t get it out. I can’t believe it. It’s not going to really hit me until I’m there — and even then it’s going to feel surreal.”

Good job, Coach K. Now get healthy and help the team win, eh?

 

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The Obama era ends: A few thoughts on how history will see him, and how much we’ll miss him. The greatest TV program guide description ever, from Australia. And thoughts on Joe Biden, whose reputation has changed so much in eight years.

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People are very quick to pronounce that something or other is “the end of an era.”

Friends say it all the time, when a buddy gets married, or when people go off to college and leave all their childhood friends behind. Sports commentators are the worst offenders, always declaring one team’s run of success “the end of an era” when it ends.

But as much as I hate that overused and hackneyed term, I gotta tell ya: This week really does feel like the end of an era. Barack Hussein Obama, a Hawaii-born mixed-race kid who was blessed with the kind of charisma we see once every 40-50 years in politics, is leaving his job as President of the United States.

And he did an outstanding job. You could go by the numbers and facts: Incredible economic growth, lowest unemployment (under 5 percent) in decades, two big election wins, passing universal health care, saving General Motors while killing Osama Bin Laden.

You could go by the less-tangible successes: How decent, how kind, how funny this man was; how he went eight years in the White House without a major scandal. How he signed a historic climate change agreement that finally, finally forces the world to take this problem seriously. How he gave us Michelle Obama, the coolest and smartest First Lady (not to mention, most beautiful) maybe ever.

Or you could go by what he didn’t do: Never stooped to the lowest levels of slime thrown at him from the right; never bemoaned his fate upon inheriting a catastrophic economic situation in 2009, never failed to blame himself at least partially when things didn’t go the way he or the Democrats.

No, he wasn’t perfect: He wasn’t the liberal hero many of us wanted/hoped he’d be; his Justice Dept. spent way too much time going after journalists who wouldn’t reveal their sources; he never had quite enough fire in his belly to fight down and dirty with the GOP, and he never did get around to making his administration as transparent as he claimed it would be.

But this man from Chicago, this “skinny kid with a funny name” accomplished some extraordinary things in this era of polarization and hate. He brought hope back. He showed African-Americans, and all Americans, what’s possible in a leader. He brought respect and grace and intelligence back to the White House, and tried his best to keep on being optimistic about America.

And when you contrast him with the next guy who’ll be in the Oval Office… let’s just say I’m already nostalgic for the last eight years.

Thank you, Barack Obama, for all that you have done for this country. You deserve a few months of sleep, the ability to play pick-up basketball whenever you want, and a rich and rewarding life outside Washington, D.C.

We will miss him greatly. Will.i.am, take us out…

**Next up, I laughed really, really hard at this TV guide-like synopsis of this week’s programming from a newspaper called the Scotland Herald.

It’s about a certain event happening in America on Friday. Bravo to whoever at the newspaper wrote this, for creativity.

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**And finally today, let’s not forget that Joe Biden is leaving the stage this week, too. He’s been an excellent vice-president, it appears, pushing Obama to the left on some issues and continuing to use his status for good. He has suffered many tragedies over the years, including of course losing his son Beau in 2015, but he has always maintained his humor and his passion.

I was thinking, watching that incredible speech he gave when Obama surprised Biden with the Presidential Medal of Freedom the other day, how much Biden’s reputation in the public eye has changed in eight years. In 2008, he was “Crazy Uncle Joe” of the Senate, the proud Delawarean who made verbal gaffes, wasn’t really taken seriously as a Presidential candidate both times he ran, and wasn’t considered by most people a major political figure.

Now look at him: Most Democrats think he would’ve beaten Trump, he’s considered a statesman and a great partner to Obama; a guy who has been completely at ease in his own skin the last eight years, after often seeming like someone trying to impress.

There’s talk about Biden 2020, but I think he’s done. He’s going out on top, and man, what a great public speaker he turned out to be.

 

Remembering Steven McDonald, a NYPD legend who just died. Harry Truman’s grandson goes back to Japan, movingly. And Aaron Rodgers cannot be stopped; neither can the Packers

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Friday was a very emotional day in New York City, especially if you’ve lived here for a while or grew up in the city or on Long Island, as I did.

In 1986 a 29-year-old police officer named Steven McDonald, whose wife was pregnant with their son Conor, was shot and paralyzed by a teenage robber in Central Park. McDonald instantly became a tragic hero, not just because he was a quadriplegic, but because a year after the shooting McDonald forgave the shooter.

“I’m sometimes angry at the teen-age boy who shot me,” McDonald’s wife Patti Ann said then, reading a letter Steven had dictated. “But more often I feel sorry for him. I only hope that he can turn his life into helping and not hurting people. I forgive him and hope that he can find peace and purpose in his life.”

McDonald spent the rest of his life preaching peace and forgiveness all over the world. He became an inspiration to millions, and each year appeared on the ice at the penultimate New York Rangers game of the year to give out the “Steven McDonald Courage Award.”

He made public appearances, his son grew up to be an NYPD officer, and he stood for so much that was good, and just, in the world. If Steven McDonald could forgive the man who took away his legs, and his ability to breathe on his own, what right did any of the rest of us have to hold grudges?

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Twelve thousand police officers came to McDonald’s funeral Friday at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan.

Twelve. Thousand. I was at the Rangers game Friday night and the team made several tributes to McDonald, including a beautiful video honoring him during the game.

At the end of it, Conor and Patti Ann were given a standing ovation,  they embraced and cried after what must have been an incredibly difficult day. The crowd stayed on their feet and chanted Steven McDonald’s name, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one at the rink with goosebumps.

A great man was lost. But he will always, always be remembered.

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**I’ve written here before about my love for the fantastic NPR story-telling series “The Moth,” which I listen to on its podcast regularly.

Actually, check that: What I usually end up doing is let a bunch of stories pile up, then listen to them all at once when I need a lift. Every once in a while I’m gobsmacked by one of these fantastic tales, as I was last week when I heard this phenomenal tale by Clifton Truman Daniel.

Clifton Daniel is the oldest grandson of Harry Truman (I think I actually met Clifton, a distinguished journalist, when I first started working at the Wilmington (N.C.) Star-News in 1997), and as such has had to live his life dealing with his grandfather’s complicated legacy.

On no issue is that legacy more complicated than the President’s decision to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August, 1945. Clifton Daniel has had varying feelings about the historic attack, and in this moving story he tells of how Japanese people in America have approached him to discuss it.

But it’s only when he goes to Japan as an invited guest, to a memorial service about the bombings, that true understanding comes. Listen to this beautiful story, about forgiveness, age-old memories, and how strong people can be. This one really knocked my socks off.

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**Finally today, the NFL playoffs finally gave us some decent games after a dreadful opening weekend.

OK, they gave us three decent games and one great game, starring Aaron Rodgers, the Green Bay Packer quarterback who is pretty freaking unstoppable right now.

The Dallas Cowboys had a terrific season, and their defense has been great, but the Packers and Rodgers just picked ’em apart Sunday. Rodgers just waited, waited, waited and then hit an open receiver time and again. I have no idea how he’ll be stopped, by Atlanta next week or in the Super Bowl.

Green Bay jumped way ahead 21-3, the Cowboys and their fabulous rookie QB Dak Prescott came all the way back to tie the game at 28, then the kickers took over. Mason Crosby of Green Bay nailed a 56-yarder, then a minute later after one of the most clutch catches you’ll ever see (Jared Cook, pictured above) he nailed a 51-yarder.

The game was terrific, Rodgers is raising his “all-time NFL QB” ranking a few notches every week, and I’m just glad the Cowboys got beat.

Couple other NFL playoff notes…

— Oh, Andy Reid. Andy, Andy, Andy. Once again, your team has a great regular season, a playoff bye, a raucous home crowd… and yet once again you come up short. All credit to the Steelers, who have a terrific team peaking at the right time. But boy did the Chiefs lay an egg. From Travis Kelce’s drops to so many stupid penalties to (wait for it) clock and timeout mismanagement from Reid, Kansas City gave this one away.

As I said on Twitter after the game: “It’s stunning to see a favored Andy Reid team lose  in the playoffs.” — said no one, ever.

— I briefly got excited when, while at a birthday party Saturday night at a restaurant, I checked my phone and saw “Pats 14, Texans 13.” But then I realized there’s no way Tom Brady is losing a playoff game to Brock Osweiler. Patriots are going to the Super Bowl.

— Atlanta looked great on offense, but I have no idea how their defense will stop Rodgers next week. We’re looking at a Packers-Patriots Super Bowl and man oh man that will be fun.

A new edition of “The Daddy Chronicles,” featuring a bike-riding, waiter-ordering, fun-loving 2.25-year-old

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And a Happy Friday to all of you, it’s Friday the 13th and also the last Friday before the end of the world as we know it, since next Friday is Inauguration Day. (I’m very confused: It was 60 degrees in NYC Thursday, but hell is going to freeze over next Friday. Weather is confusing.)

Anyway, I haven’t done a “Daddy Chronicles” installment since last October, which surprised me that it’d been that long when I looked it up, so I thought it was time to update you all on my little fella. He’s changed quite a lot since my last post on him; heck, he’s changed quite a bit since Monday.

Some highlights from life with my energetic boy..

— First of all, any fears that my child would be shy have completely evaporated. Two quick examples: We’re in a Japanese restaurant near our apartment about six weeks ago, and Nate is happily drinking from his milk sippy cup. Our waiter, who spoke very little English and had to repeat our order several times, brought my wife and I our drinks at one point while we were waiting for the food.

Moments later when he returned, without a word Nate takes his now-empty sippy cup and thrusts it at the waiter, who was as befuddled as a Buddhist monk on the Las Vegas Strip. A, they don’t sell milk at a Japanese restaurant, and B, the waiter had likely never filled a sippy cup in his life. But hey, to Nate it made sense: This man is bringing drinks to Mommy and Daddy, I’m out of my drink, I should give him my cup and he’ll bring me more milk!

We laughed and laughed as we explained to the boy that I’d go get him some more milk next door.
Second example: A few weeks ago we were at brunch on Long Island with lots of family celebrating my Mom’s 70th birthday. I told him we needed to go change his diaper, and took him out of his high-chair. Before I could do anything else, he ran up to a waiter 10 feet away, tapped him on the sleeve and said “Where bathroom?”

Yeah, he’s definitely my kid.

–Hanukkah and the holiday season were wildly exciting to him. We saw the Rockefeller Center tree (“whoa!” he said many times), saw some crazy-cool light displays, but Hanukkah was definitely the highlight. For eight straight nights, he got used to a great routine: Dinner, light candles, open fun presents. Poor guy expected it to go on forever; for the next 4-5 nights after the holiday ended, he kept saying “Candles? Presents?” right after dinner. We had to explain that the holiday was over, it would come around again next year.

He did not seem satisfied with that answer. Hanukkah should be celebrated year-round!

— One big worry has been solved since I last wrote about him: We pretty painlessly got through the pre-school process. I tried hard not to faint from shock when I saw some of the NYC pre-schools cost more per year than I made in salary my first year as a journalist. It is truly amazing how you can, with a straight face, charge Manhattan parents $30,000 a year for your kids to play with blocks and hear stories for a few hours a day. It’s quite a racket.

We applied to about six schools, toured four of them, and ended up going with a school that is half the price of the “elite” ones, didn’t require us to be accepted (as soon as we said we were in and gave them a deposit, we were done) and has a nice long day to start him out, 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

They also didn’t require a “playdate audition” which we did at two schools, which is pretty hilarious that a 2-year-old is auditioning to be allowed into preschool. I’m sitting there thinking “OK, as long as he doesn’t burn the place down or stab another kid, he passes the audition, right?”

Anyway, I’m already missing him and school doesn’t start till September.

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— His vocabulary and language grow so fast, every day. A few weeks ago he was still just finishing the last words on a page of his favorite books; now he’s finishing entire sentences. He’s saying words like “underneath” and telling one of his grandpas, “Papa, you go get car. We meet you downstairs.” I swear at least 2-3 times per week I’m amazed at a new word or phrase he’s learned (OK, so maybe he knows “Oy yoy yoy” because I’ve said it a few times!)

— The kid made out pretty well at Hanukkah; his favorite presents are his new tricycle (which he pedals for a few moments, then realizes it’s more fun to just Fred Flinstone it and walk really fast while leaning on the bike) and his little home kitchen, which he pretends to cook on. He freaking loves this kitchen, and all the little plastic food in it. He baked me a pizza the other day and I swear it’s at least as good as some of the pies I’ve had outside of N.Y.

— So after pretty much prohibiting TV for him for the first 2 years of life, we’ve slowly waded into it. So far he’s just watching “Sesame Street” and some Elmo clips on  YouTube. Nate had his first ‘TV tantrum” the other day; I’d let him watch 20 minutes in the morning, and he turned it off no problem when I asked.

Then a few hours later he wanted to watch more and I said no, so he stamped his feet and balled up his fists and shouted “I want to watch ‘Sesame Street!” I didn’t cave, but compromised with a few YouTube videos.

But oy, the TV fits are a coming…

— Finally, my son has many skills already, but he makes a terrible lookout. He’s gotten in the habit of going to the front door and opening it and waiting there patiently when I tell him Mommy is on her way home. I’m in the kitchen getting dinner ready and at least 6-7 times in 10 minutes he’ll say “I hear elevator, Mommy!” And I’ll ask him if she’s really here and 10 seconds later I hear a sad “Noooo.” Finally he gets it right when she, you know, actually appears.

Let’s just say if Paul Revere were as accurate as my tyke, we’d all still be under colonial rule.

 

The most thin-skinned famous person ever is about to become President, and I’m terrified. Bill Walton is a national treasure. And “The Front Page” a great night at the theater

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OK, so there was a HUGE amount of information that broke last night about Donald Trump, the Russians, some really sordid sex behavior, and about 14 other things. I have said on this blog numerous times that I don’t like to “knee-jerk” react to things, and quite honestly there’s way too much to digest to write a coherent post right now. So I’m just going to take one small piece of the Donald Trump pie, something I’ve been thinking about for a while, and look at at that today.

“Golden showers,” my goodness. And we thought the Ken Starr report on Bill Clinton was salacious…

OK, on with the show.

When I was a college sportswriter at the University of Delaware, the football team was coached by a man named Tubby Raymond.

Tubby was a fun guy to be around (guys named ‘Tubby” usually are), a real rascal and a pretty good coach, too. He always had our Blue Hens in the Division I-AA playoffs, gave great quotes to us media, and generally comported himself well. (Tubby was getting up there in years when I covered him and his memory was fading; to this day I’m convinced they announced which players were sitting next to him at the weekly press luncheon because otherwise he wouldn’t recognize who was with him.)

But if you ever dared to question his strategy or decision-making, Tubby’s face turned red. He sometimes exploded or mocked the question, and seemed to take great offense at any suggestion that what he did or said wasn’t right. He was, still to this day, the most thin-skinned “celebrity” I’d ever seen, and I always wondered that if us, the little Delaware press corps, got him upset with his questions, what would happen if Tubby ever coached in a bigger city? He’d implode, that’s what.

I was thinking about Tubby the other night because once again, the man who in just a few days will be the leader of the free world couldn’t handle being criticized by an actor.

The easiest thing to predict in the entire world was that after Meryl Streep criticized Trump at the Golden Globes, that he would lash out on Twitter and attack her back.
This fits his entire pattern of behavior. He’s gotten mad at Vanity Fair magazine for a review of his restaurant that was negative. He just last week criticized Arnold Schwarzenegger for not getting as high ratings as The Donald did on “The Apprentice.”

There is no slight too small, no alleged critique too tiny, for this small man to fire back at. He is the most thin-skinned celebrity in the history of the world, and he’s about to have the nuclear codes.

Of all the things that scare me about a President Trump, the idea that an offhand remark by a world leader about him, or to him, will start a nuclear war.

God save us all. Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post wrote about this idea yesterday, his column is excellent.

**Next up, I thought about writing a long screed about Barack Obama, who gave a farewell speech last night that was moving, heartfelt and smart, and contrasting him in a thousand ways with the guy about to inherit the big chair in the Oval Office.

But there’ll be time for that next week; I don’t want the stench of Trump to mix with the appreciation of Obama. So instead, I present a true American treasure, Mr. Bill Walton.

Because they can, ESPN didn’t just show the exhilarating college football championship game on one channel Monday night; they gave viewers about 10 different types of coverage to watch, including one featuring Walton and other non-football people watching the Alabama-Clemson tilt sitting around talking.

Walton, dressed as Uncle Sam (of course) has some great questions and comments, especially when he asks what city Clemson is in.

God I love Bill Walton.

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**Finally today, my wife and I don’t get to the theater that much despite, you know, living less than a mile from Broadway, but when I heard there was a play about newspaper reporters from the 1930s being revived and coming here, I immediately knew I’d be seeing it.

So last Friday night we saw “The Front Page,” based on Ben Hecht’s play about one night in a Chicago-area courthouse press room, when a bunch of tabloid scribes are waiting around for a scheduled hanging of a convicted murderer.

I was pretty certain I would love the play, which starred a huge number of major actors, including Nathan Lane, John Slattery, John Goodman, and Holland Taylor. And it was sensational.

The rapid-fire dialogue made Aaron Sorkin’s characters seem like they had slow Southern drawls; the acting, especially by Slattery and Lane (who really is a force of nature as a soul-less, no morals editor) was superb, and it was pretty damn hilarious, too.

It was a long, long show (2:45, with two intermissions) and honestly sometimes so many people were cross-talking on stage that I missed some of the great one-liners.

But there were so many actors working at the top of their craft, and having so much fun (John Goodman always looks like he’s having a good time, doesn’t he?) that I didn’t mind. With newspapers in such bad shape these days, and me being a dyed-in-the-wool ink-stained wretch, it was fun to step back into a time when reporters were true characters, had very few scruples, and what they wrote really mattered.

“The Front Page” is only going to be on Broadway for a few months, but if you’re here anytime soon, I highly, highly recommend seeing it.

The Golden Globes were more blah than usual, but saved by the amazing Meryl Streep. And a dull NFL wild-card weekend hopefully leads to better games next week

 

This image released by NBC shows Viola Davis presenting the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017. (Paul Drinkwater/NBC via AP)

This image released by NBC shows Viola Davis presenting the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017. (Paul Drinkwater/NBC via AP)

The Golden Globes are usually the best awards show of the season, because they’re unpredictable and fun and have winners who never win the other big awards.

But Sunday night, I don’t know if it was just that the host was bad (sorry Jimmy Fallon, but this isn’t your best role, can’t Tina Fey and Amy Poehler host this show every year? They’re beyond awesome), or that the crop of movies was blah, or I just wasn’t in the mood, but for the first two hours the Golden Globes were boring as all get out.

Then, it was time for Meryl Streep’s lifetime achievement award, and man, did business pick up. Nobody in Hollywood is more admired than the amazing Ms. Streep, for her grace, for her unparalleled talent, and for her kindness toward others.

Viola Davis gave Meryl a wonderful tribute, some clips from her many phenomenal performances were shown, and then the greatest actress of our lifetime spoke.

And she spoke about the man who in less than two weeks will actually be our President.

Surgically, beautifully, she called him out for what he is: A mean, thoughtless, ignorant jerk who conned millions through his use of insults and fear-mongering.

This short speech was phenomenal, and needs to be watched. “When the powerful use their position to bully, we all lose,” she said. Here is a woman speaking from the heart, about what so many have felt. By far the best thing at Sunday night’s ceremony. (If the speech isn’t embedded below, click here to watch it)

Some other highlights and lowlights from the show (as always, most of the fashion comments come from my beautiful and talented wife):

— The best thing on the show besides Streep, I thought, was Kristin Wiig and Steve Carell’s hilarious bit about the first animated movie they’d seen. Such great deadpan and timing!

— Viola Davis was stunningly beautiful in her dress; Emma Stone looked “airbrushed,” and Mandy Moore looked amazing. Nicole Kidman, I believe, will still look gorgeous at age 113.

— “The Americans” stars were robbed once again, but I was thrilled to see Sarah Paulson win for her Marcia Clark portrayal in “The People vs. O.J. Simpson,” and Tracee Ellis Ross gave a heartfelt and winning speech after her win for “Blackish.”

— Really lame, stupid and borderline offensive of the writers to make lame Sofia Vergara accent jokes (come on, her saying “anal” instead of “annual?” That’s Howard Stern-level humor), and portray Goldie Hawn as a ditzy old lady not able to read a TelePrompter. Just bad.

— Do awards shows really need a DJ? Apparently. Qwestlove didn’t get to do much but he’s always fun.

–Didn’t see “La La Land” and don’t plan to, but “Moonlight” sure as heck looks amazing. And I can’t wait to see “Fences” as soon as I can.

— Seriously, bring back Amy and Tina next year. And every year from now on.

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**Finally today, that was one shitty NFL wild-card weekend, eh? Four games, and not really a great game among ’em. Hell, there wasn’t even a good game among them, although Giants-Packers was at least compelling for 2.5 quarters.

This happens fairly frequently on wild-card weekend; sometimes the matchups just aren’t good. Still, we should have at least two good games next weekend. Couple thoughts on the slop that took place Saturday and Sunday…

— The Dallas Cowboys are the happiest team in the world this morning, since the Giants, the only team that’s beaten Jerry Jones’ boys all year when they were playing all their regulars, are not coming to Texas next weekend to try to beat Dallas a third time. The boys from New Jersey played a miserable game Sunday, although part of that was because Aaron Rodgers played superhuman quarterback for the final three quarters.

I still don’t think the Cowboys are making the Super Bowl with a rookie QB and a rookie running back, but their road got a lot easier with the Giants losing.

— I feel really badly for the Raiders, of all teams. They were having a sensational, dream-like season for 14 games, going 11-3 and looking like a real title threat.

Then their star quarterback, Derek Carr gets hurt, and they don’t win again and they’re forced to play a kid making his first-ever NFL start (Connor Cook) in a road playoff game. No way that goes well.

— I think the chances of Donald Trump coming out of the closet as a gay man on Jan. 20 are greater than the chances of the Houston Texans going into New England next week and beating the Patriots. I’m just sayin.’

— The two “good” games I see next week are the NFC contests: I guess the Steelers could upset Kansas City, but I just don’t think Pittsburgh’s D is all that great this year. But I think the road teams are very frisky next week in the NFC. Seattle looked very solid and have all kinds of playoff experience, and the Matt Ryan-led Falcons certainly have a choking history in the playoffs.

And the Packers, winners of seven in a row, with a QB playing out of his mind, absolutely could steal that game in Dallas. Rodgers is on a different plane right now, just totally locked in.

And really, who doesn’t want to see Jerry Jones unhappy?

Good News Friday: An 11-year-old offers $2 worth of advice to NYC subway riders. A 4-year-old’s thoughts on New Year’s resolutions. And a 105-year-old cycling champ amazes everyone

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And a Happy Friday to you all, the first Friday of 2017. I’m sure none of you spent your Thursday night like I did, watching the scintillating World Junior Hockey Championship game between Team USA and Canada, won by America in a shootout (Thanks, Obama!). Truly one of the handful of best games in the sport I’ve ever seen. If everyone who hates hockey could be made to watch that overtime, it’d be the biggest sport in North America.

Anyway, I digress. Have three happy stories spanning the entire cycle of life today. First, as a New Yorker this story made me smile so much.

Most people in NYC subway stations are either begging/performing for money, have their heads down in their phones, or leaning over the tracks to see when the next train is coming (I do that a lot).

But meet 11-year-old Ciro Ortiz. He thinks lots of people in his Brooklyn neighborhood, and his friends at school, could use some emotional support now and then.

One day he was watching TV and came up with an idea: He should set up a booth at his Brooklyn subway station and offer to give people advice. For $2.

For two hours every Sunday, Ciro sits and listens to people’s life, work and relationship issues. He makes about $50 per week, and donates that to kids at his school who have trouble paying for snacks and lunch.

“Everyone needs help sometimes,” he says. “You can’t get through life without help.”

Kid’s wise beyond his years. What a wonderful example he is.

**Next up today, this is actually from right after New Year’s last year, but I just saw it this week and loved it. This is a 4-year-old girl talking about New  Year’s resolutions, why they work and don’t, and giving advice. It’s hilarious and sweet.

My resolutions this year? Look at my phone less. Read more books (somehow find the time to do that). Don’t go nuts over every stupid thing Trump does. And potty-train my son before he starts preschool next September.

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**Finally today, someone on the complete other end of the life spectrum from a 4-year-old. Robert Marchand was born in 1911, three years before the start of World War I.

He just pedaled 14 miles on a bicycle in an hour, setting a world record for oldest person to do such a thing. The Frenchman is 105 years young. 105!

I believe he went to school with Napoleon Bonaparte.

I am not here to be champion. I am here to prove that at 105 years old you can still ride a bike,” Marchand said, per Eurosport.

He’s also had quite the fascinating life, read more about him here.

The best Tweets about what marriage is really like. Taking a break from my Twitter addiction taught me a few things. And Coach K’s surgery and why this ain’t 1995 all over again.

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Ask anyone who’s married, and they’ll tell you that laughter is the most important thing in a relationship. Well, at least ONE of the important things.

Which is why this story cracked me up so much. The Huffington Post took the time last week to compile what they felt are the 30 funniest Tweets about marriage from 2016, and I have to tell you, my wife and I laughed so hard reading these that we had to stop to catch our breath at least 4-5 times. I wish I could paste all of them in here, but the whole list can be found here. Here are a few of our favorites…

1. @IanMendes: “Marriage is essentially two people taking turns pushing down the top of the kitchen garbage so they don’t have to take it out.”

2. @b1p0larbear I wondered if my wife was asleep so I held my phone a foot over her face and turned it on.
Then I dropped it onto her nose.
She’s awake now.”

3. @iwearaonesie “*pulls curtain back while wife is in the shower*
Me: Are we – stop screaming, it’s just me- are we out of Cheetos?

4. @mooooooog35: “Me: I spent HALF as much as YOU usually do on groceries.
Wife: Congratulations.
[2 hours later]
Me: We have nothing to eat in this house.”

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**Next up today, I think I’ve mentioned a few times on here how I’ve become addicted to Twitter the past few years. For the most part it’s been great, but after all the election hype and then constantly checking the site for the next month to see what horrible thing Trump had just said, I was burned out. I needed to be “off” from news and the world for a while, so I decided to take a break and stayed off Twitter for the last eight days of 2016.

What did I learn? First, I’m embarrassed to admit how difficult it was in the beginning. For the first 2-3 days my index finger would literally automatically hover over the Twitter app at least 5-6 times a day, and I had to stop myself. Pretty sure that’s a sign of an addiction.
But after 3-4 days, it became normal to not log on. I spent far less time on my phone. It was good.  I started to appreciate how being connected all the time, and constantly having FOMO, can be bad for you.

When I logged back on on Jan. 1, I was kind of thrilled to be back in the loop. But I definitely became a little more aware of how Twitter can consume me. And I’m going to try to stop that from happening.

It really is OK to be in the dark every once in a while.

Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski cuts down the net after his team's 68-63 victory over Wisconsin in the NCAA Final Four college basketball tournament championship game Monday, April 6, 2015, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

**Finally today, sometimes I just need to use this space to rant a little bit, so if you care not a whit about college basketball, or Duke, this probably isn’t for you.

But as you may have heard, the greatest coach in the history of college basketball, Mike Krzyzewski, announced on Monday that he needed immediate back surgery and would miss at least the next month of what has already been a very strange season for my favorite team.

The Blue Devils have lost two games so far, got blown out on Saturday, have had more injuries at one time than I ever remember a Duke team having, and now some idiots on the Internet and in the media are saying that K is intentionally stepping away and having surgery now because his team is falling apart. And that this is just like 1995, when he famously left the team midseason to have back surgery, Duke fell apart and had its worst season since K took over in 1980.

To which I say, are you people who are saying this out of your freaking minds??? First of all, no coach, especially one as competitive as Krzyzewski, would voluntarily take a month off in the middle of the season, so obviously he’s in serious pain to be doing it.

Secondly, this Duke team is WAY more talented than the ’95 squad was. That team was in its first year post-Grant Hill, and Duke had so-so talent, with Jeff Capel and Cherokee Parks leading the way.

This Duke team is loaded. It has 3 or 4 sure-fire NBA first-round picks, and is finally getting healthy. Even without Mr. Tripper, Grayson Allen, the Blue Devils should win at least 12-13 ACC games and finish in the top 3. Jayson Tatum, Harry Giles, Luke Kennard .. all of them are better than anyone on that ’95 squad.

And oh yeah, last time a longtime assistant who’d never been a head coach, Pete Gaudet, took over. This time Capel, who was a head coach at two other schools, takes over.

It just bugs me when the media make lazy connections because they think the public is stupid.

OK, I feel better now. Thank you. Carry on. Let’s go Duke.

Saying goodbye to a crappy 2016 at the NY Botanical Garden train show was super-fun. The Mariah Carey train-wreck on NYE: Oy. And the NFL playoffs should be wild.

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And a happy 2017 to all of you out there in Internet-land. I hope you rang in the new year safely and happily, we did our usual “movie and champagne at home” thing, where we enjoyed “Oceans 11” (my first time seeing the whole thing, it was very entertaining but I kept marveling at the sheer impossibility of that caper) and then watched Kathy Griffin do her annual humiliating of Anderson Cooper on CNN (truly that network’s best programming of the year).

But before all that the wife and I took our 2-year-old to the New York Botanical Gardens for a wonderful day. First we saw a Thomas the Tank Engine show for the toddler set; my boy hasn’t watched Thomas yet on TV but we have a few books and he’s becoming a big train fan. He sat still for the whole 30-minute show and got his picture taken with Thomas on stage, so he was very happy.

Then the real highlight: The NYBG does a Holiday Train Show every year, and it was nothing short of astonishing. They spend months and months building replicas of New York landmarks like the Statue of Liberty, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the N.Y. Public Library, and Yankee Stadium, out of plants, branches and resin. And they have a whole slew of model trains going around the landmarks and winding through an entire area of the Garden. (that’s one of the models, above).

It was really pretty special to see, the craftsmanship and beauty of the landmarks, the gorgeous trains, and how many little kids and big kids alike (me) couldn’t stop smiling.

If you’re in the New York area and/or are visiting between now and Jan. 22, I highly, highly recommend it. It was the perfect happy day to end a miserable year. Here’s the NYBG website with details of the train show.

**

So I have no particular dislike of Mariah Carey, except for the fact that she used to seem like a nice person when she was younger and fresh-faced and grew up like 30 minutes from where I did, and then in the past 10-12 years she seems to have turned into a not-so-nice diva who thinks her poop doesn’t stink. Anyway, I like her music just fine, she’s obviously a great talent, yada yada yada.

But man, did she have a miserable New Year’s Eve. Performing live at Times Square on ABC’s show (the one Dick Clark made famous and Ryan Seacrest is now desecrating), she lip-synched badly, got mad at the technical mistakes, then basically left. Not a good look when people start calling you Mariah Milli Vanilli Carey.

Watch for yourself…

**Finally today, the NFL regular season ended Sunday and it was a merciful end for Jets fans like me; I think I watched one or two plays, tops of their “huge” win over the Buffalo Bills. Hey, 5-11 is better than 4-12! The Jets are a mess, the Bills are an even bigger one; if you want more proof, check out how the Jets scored their final touchdown. I mean, maybe that’s happened before in the NFL, but wow. How do you not know the rules about a kickoff?
Happily, Jets owner Woody Johnson decided not to do the knee-jerk thing and fire the coach and GM; you’ve got to give them more than two years when one year was terrific and the second one was terrible.

Also, Darrelle Revis? Thanks for the memories. Don’t let the door hit you on your big, fat wallet on the way out.

— OK, on to teams that matter now in January. I always love it when new teams make it into the playoffs, ones that haven’t been there for a while. This year we’ve got the Raiders but their stay will be short since their star QB, Derek Carr, is hurt; the Lions who are never a playoff regular, and the New England Patriots, who finally had a good season (ha ha).

I have no idea who’ll win the Super Bowl, but a few weeks ago I thought the Steelers and Packers were playing the best. I don’t believe in the Cowboys in the playoffs yet, so let’s go with Coach Hoodie in the AFC and Seattle in the NFC, just because they’ve been there before. My “backup” picks would be the Giants and the Chiefs, because they’re both playing terrific right now.

— 49ers fired Chip Kelly. Guy inherited a terrible team, and they give him one season and then fire him. Hard to believe this is the same franchise that everyone used to look up to.

— Kirk Cousins, I really, really wanted to believe in you. But you make it tough. You’re in a must-win game, against a team (the Giants) who didn’t need the game at all, and you come up very, very small.

— Finally, this isn’t directly related to football, but was so outrageous that I must point it out. A Philadelphia Inquirer reporter named Jeff McLane was ejected from the press box of Sunday’s Eagles-Cowboys game, for apparently talking too loud and briefly arguing with a media relations staffer. An Eagles VP then threatened to eject the rest of the sportswriters there who were objecting. McLane has been a beat writer for eight years, so of course he’s written some negative stories about the team. But come on, how amateurish is this?

Seriously, this actually happened. Pathetic.