I had one of the greatest honors of my life Saturday night. A brief snippet of our pathetic President. And little kids performing Prince songs will make you smile

You get to a certain point in life, and you think you cease to be surprised by things. After 41 years on Earth (and who knows how many spent on Neptune), I thought it took a lot to floor me.

But about a month ago, a wonderful friend of mine who heads the Friends of Jaclyn Organization emailed with a request that just about knocked me off my chair when I read it: Would I consider being the keynote speaker at the annual FOJ Gala on April 22?

As I’ve written many times in this space before, FOJ is very near and dear to my heart. Started in 2005 by a little girl with a brain tumor named Jaclyn Murphy and her father Denis, FOJ pairs college and high school sports teams from across North America with sick children. The teams “adopt” the children and bring them to games and practices, lets them sit on the bench during games, and often times athletes from the teams accompany the children to chemo treatments, MRI’s, etc.

It is a small but growing organization that my wife and I support with time and money, and I’ve been writing stories for their website, chronicling the journeys between families and teams for a few years now. I have gotten to know so many fantastic people through FOJ, people whose lives were completely upended by brain tumors, but fight back with all they have, and appreciate the life-changing support they get from college athletes and coaches.

We go to the annual FOJ fundraising gala every year, and always have a great time. But never in a million years did I think they’d ask me to be the headlining speaker; hell, Bill Belichick and Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly have been the headliners before, and I ain’t them. I am in no way shy, nor do I have a problem speaking in public, but getting up in front of 300 people on a Saturday night and giving a speech? Not something I do every day, you know?

But I was so honored to be asked that of  course I said yes, and Saturday night, at a beautiful banquet hall in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., I gave a speech that I’d worked on for a few weeks.

It’s funny; when I rehearsed the speech with my wife a few times last week, I didn’t get emotional or tear up once, even as I described some of the wonderful (and tragedy-stricken) families I’ve written about.

But Saturday night, on the podium, I turned into a combination of Oprah and Dick Vermeil, stopping to wipe tears away at least four times during my speech. Maybe it was just looking at the faces of people I was talking about, or the incredible emotion that was already in the room thanks to the previous speakers, but man, I was a puddle.

Still, I think the speech went well, and I got a nice ovation from the crowd afterwards (hey, no one threw tomatoes or heckled me, so that’s always good). And while there was one nice woman who confused me with the “other” Michael Lewis in thanking me afterwards (I was going to let it go but she was so effusive in her praise of “my” books that I had to correct her), the whole experience was exhilarating.

FOJ is filled with so many wonderful people with huge hearts, and I am so fortunate to know them. If you want to learn more about FOJ, please click here for their website.

**Next up today, as I’ve said before it’s too depressing to write about Donald Trump very often, but sometimes I come across something that makes me laugh out loud, that he’s said or done, because it’s just so pathetic or silly. Case in point: The orange sexual assaulter-in-chief gave an an interview to the Associated Press on Friday. There were many, many falsehoods spoken, but this was my favorite part:

I mean… are you freaking kidding me? He said something and then said something different TWO minutes later!  He was also out there in the interview bragging about how he amazingly got a Supreme Court justice nominated in his first 70 days. Ummm, douchebag, Mitch McConnell refused to let the last guy have a hearing, then changed the rules of the Senate to let this guy through! Hey Donnie, same thing would’ve happened if any GOP candidate had gotten to be President.

Grrr. OK, deep breaths… I’m better now. Time for a palate cleanser…

**Finally today, this will put a smile on your face: Friday was the 1-year anniversary of the death of Prince, a musical talent like few others. There were many tributes done, and many were excellent, but my favorite Prince tribute happened two years ago, while he was still alive. May I introduce to you the musicians of the Girard College Lower School Band, a bunch of 3rd through 6th-graders at a school in Philadelphia, doing a medley of his songs.

So great, and makes me smile every time I think of it.

Good News Friday: A 9-year-old Cubs fan gets an awesome surprise gift. An incredible organ donation story, starring Rod Carew and an NFL player. And “Colbert” returns to say goodbye to O’Reilly

And a Happy Friday to you all, I spent much of Thursday night wearing new grooves in the carpet in front of our living room TV, watching Rangers-Canadiens Game 5. Playoff overtime hockey really isn’t good for your health.

First up today, this clip has gone viral in the past few days so maybe you’ve seen it already, but it’s awesome and I’ve watched it a few times already. Meet 9-year-old die-hard Chicago Cubs fan Kolt Kyler. He and his family are big Cubs fans, and Kolt is by all accounts a terrific young man.

But he’s never been to Wrigley Field, and as a reward for all his hard work and doing his chores, his Dad decided to surprise him. This video brought tears to my eyes, just seeing Kolt’s reaction. It’s priceless.

What’s even better is that once this went viral, the Cubs players themselves did some amazing things. First baseman Anthony Rizzo invited Kolt to come onto the field to watch batting practice, while pitcher Jon Lester offered Kolt and his family the chance to sit in his own private box.

So, so great when athletes do this. Enjoy the game, Kolt.

**Next up today, I’ve written a lot about organ donation stories in the eight years I’ve done this blog, because it’s a cause I feel very strongly about. So when I read about this incredible tale involving former NFL player Konrad Reuland, his awful death at such a young age, and the amazing series of events that led to him donating organs to baseball Hall of Famer Rod Carew, I knew I had to share it.

This story, by the BaltimoreRavens.com writer Garrett Downing, is sensational. The bond and connection between Reuland, his family, and Carew is rare among organ donation cases. Wonderful job by the writer here, getting the emotion and the details exactly perfect.

**Finally today, many of us on the left are having some fun with the implosion of the career of Bill O’Reilly (don’t cry too much for him, he got a nice big $25 million check from Fox News to go away).

Stephen Colbert modeled his old persona on his old Comedy Central show on O’Reilly; the “Colbert” character was a delightful sendup of Bill O.

So of course even though Colbert isn’t that guy anymore, moving on to late night CBS show, he had to talk about O’Reilly’s ignominious ending. Watch this great monologue, and wait for the reappearance of “Colbert” about halfway through…

Bill O’Reilly’s actually gonna fall, and I’m shocked. A pro tennis match gets interrupted by people having sex. And Stanley Cup playoff hockey making me tear my (little remaining) hair out

Looks like a sacred cash cow, the biggest one on cable TV, is finally being let out of the barn.

I loathe Bill O’Reilly for the same reasons most people do: He’s a smug, arrogant blowhard who acts the fool on television and riles up millions of people with angry rhetoric, often racist and sexist in tone.  He was rude and dismissive during his interviews with Barack Obama when he was President, and his complete disregard for facts was disgusting.

Still, O’Reilly attracts a huge audience and makes a ton of money, and brings in a boatload of cash for Fox News, so I figured he was pretty much bulletproof from any scandal, including the recent New York Times investigation that showed he was a serial sexual harasser.

Let’s face it, TV executives don’t care what their talent does, as long as the money train keeps rolling. But O’Reilly’s advertisers have started running away from him like viewers should have years ago, and Fox is apparently now getting ready to can him.

I’m kind of stunned. O’Reilly’s shtick (and he admits off-camera that it is a shtick) was still pulling in big numbers for Fox. But after the Roger Ailes sexual scandal last year, maybe Fox didn’t feel like fighting this one, too.

Good riddance, Bill O. You deserve all the public scorn you are getting. John Oliver, take it away…

**So this is something you don’t see every day: Frances Tiafoe and Mitchell Krueger are two young American pro tennis players, and Tuesday they were playing a match at the Sarasota Open, a minor-league-level event in Florida that was watched by a crowd of dozens.

Midway through the second set, with Tiafoe about to serve, he hears some very strange noises. At first he thinks it’s from a phone, but nope… it’s a couple having very energetic sex in an apartment a few feet away from the court.

So many things I love about the above video, but the announcer trying to stay calm and explain without explaining what’s going on is great. Also, stay tuned for Tiafoe’s shout at the 1:56 mark, which is I’m sure what everyone else was thinking.

Been watching tennis a loooong. time. Never seen this before. Awesome.

**Finally today, a few words about the delightful agony and ecstasy of this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs so far.

My New York Rangers continue to baffle me, but at least they’re still alive and kicking in the playoffs. After blowing a late lead last Friday night and losing in overtime against Montreal (by the way, there have been a ton of overtime games so far this year, which makes me happy, but so many of them have been over so quickly. Come on, give us a triple-OT thriller, NHL!) my Blueshirts decided to not show up Sunday night in Game 3 at MSG, the world’s quietest arena. Truly, they played awful, and I had low expectations for last night.

But what do you know, the Rangers actually played a really strong game and beat Montreal, 2-1, Tuesday night, to even the series at 2. They could’ve scored at least 3 or 4 more goals but as usual decided that shooting the puck was a less attractive option than trying to make the perfect, beautiful pass.

Anyway, the series is probably going to go seven games, which is always nice, because I really want to tear out my four remaining hairs on top of my head.

Besides the Rangers series, I’ve been loving what I’ve seen from the Maple Leafs, who have won two straight overtime games over top-seed Washington and look like they may actually be the beneficiaries of yet another Caps playoff choke.

St. Louis and Nashville both stunningly are up 3-0, and I have no idea why Columbus is playing so poorly in being down 3-1 to Pittsburgh. Also, nice to see the referees have decided not to call any penalties this year (sarcasm).

Anyway, playoff hockey makes me very happy, especially all the overtimes.

 

David Letterman’s fabulous tribute to Pearl Jam. Fallon comes back to “SNL” and kills it. And final thoughts from a wonderful California vacation

And a Happy Monday to you all, we got back from our fun family vacation to Los Angeles and San Diego Sunday and while we’re all exhausted, it was an incredibly fun time (more thoughts at the end of this post).

Wanted to catch up on a few things I missed, and I’d heard this was amazing and so wanted to share after just watching it.

David Letterman seems to be slowly emerging from his shell after being out of the public eye following the end of his TV show. Last week, when Neil Young fell ill, it was Dave who got the honor of inducting Pearl Jam into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in a ceremony in New York.

The speech was beautiful, touching, funny and wonderful; whether you love him or Pearl Jam or both or neither, I think it’s terrific. An excerpt:

On being hypnotized by Pearl Jam’s classic “Black”:

You know the song “Black.” There was a period in my life when I couldn’t stop doing this [mimics the refrain]. Great. Now we owe them a lot of money. Honest to God that’s all I could hear running through my head. I kept wondering how many times does this refrain occur in the song. I finally had to go to my hypnotist to get it to stop [mimics the refrain again]. One night on the show I’m doing it and the stage door bursts open, in walks Eddie Vedder. He sings the song with Paul [Shaffer] and the band. Then he comes over to me and looks me right in the eye and he says, “Stop doing that.” And I was cured, ladies and gentlemen.

The whole speech is terrific, I highly recommend watching it.

**Next up, I never liked Jimmy Fallon all that much on “Saturday Night Live,” guy cracked himself up way too much and ruined some really good sketches by doing it.

But hey, Fallon has been a huge success as a talk-show host, and so returned to “SNL” over the weekend to host. This cold open they did with Alec Baldwin and Fallon and others was really funny…

**Finally today, a few more thoughts on our trip, which proved once and forever that we all really ought to move to San Diego:

— The highlight of the whole trip for our little guy was definitely Sea World; the excitement and joy he got out of seeing the dolphins, sea otters and sharks was indescribable; he squealed and laughed and said “Whoa!” so many times I lost track. They had a terrific “Pet Show Live” performance, too, with dogs and cats and other creatures.

I know, I know, the movie “Blackfish” talked about how horrible some of the animals are treated at Sea World. But we loved it and would definitely go back.

— I learned that if ever flying to Southern California, go through the Long Beach airport. It totally rocks. Small, easy to maneuver, rental car agencies right on site, just enough food options to satisfy, tons of outlets to plug into … just an all-around great airport. Highly recommend it.

— One thing my wife and I thought about on the way home are the casual lies we tell our children; a few times on the trip we told our little guy that a certain museum or park was “closed,” but really it was just that we didn’t have time to go there like we said we would. We went somewhere else, he was happy, and never knew the difference.

Casual lies, who do they hurt?

— JFK airport at 5:30 a.m. on Easter Sunday morning was way, way more crowded than I ever would’ve guessed. We took the red-eye from Long Beach to JFK late Saturday night and when we landed, man, it was like rush-hour on a Friday in there. Who knew so many people fly so early?

— Best meal in San Diego was breakfast on our final day. Richard Walker’s Pancake House, with pancakes the size of Lake Tahoe. Just delicious and enormous.

—  Finally, a shout-out to the JetBlue flight attendant who, after we landed Sunday, lifted up the car seat that contained our sleeping toddler, carried it 30 feet down the aisle to the gate without waking him. You, sir, deserve a raise. (Also enjoyed hearing the flight attendants on both flights make sly jokes about United and their recent disaster; they were also thrilled it wasn’t them who got embarrassed.)

Greetings from sunny San Diego, where’s it’s always sunny (seriously that’s the law). And I vent about the cluelessness and evil of United

In honor of my trip to the Left Coast, please read this column three hours earlier than usual…

Greetings from the land of the Padres, six million fish taco restaurants, and a climate not even Oscar the Grouch could complain about (my kid watches a lot of “Sesame Street,” Oscar’s on the brain a lot these days.)

There are a lot of strange things about the wonderful state of California, things I’ve known were strange but I guess forget about since I only visit once every five years or so. Happily, I’ve gotten to experience some of them this week.

I am finishing up our third day in San Diego as I write this on Tuesday night, and our sixth day in California (the land of Steph Curry, Governor Jerry Brown, and the Los Angeles Chargers (man that sounds weird).

So far our vacation has been fabulous; we stayed with friends in Los Angeles for a couple days, made a quick pit stop to see the famous Pearlmans of Laguna Niguel, and now are at a rented house in La Jolla, down in San Diego with my family.

California has been as weird and wonderful as ever; my wife and I agree that we love this place but could never live here for more than a week a year; just not our speed.

Some quickie-thoughts from the place that loves Tony Gwynn more than anywhere else…

— So I have to lead with the most bizarre experience we’ve had out here: We’re in L.A.’s Grove Mall (famous for celebrity spotting, though we didn’t see any) last Friday, and we stopped in to the Nike store for a minute. My wife and our 2.5-year-old are riding down from the third floor and a woman (Asian, probably mid-40s) gets in on the second floor.
Within the span of five seconds, she looked at Nate, said “Oh what a cute little boy!,” snapped a picture of him, then walked out of the elevator while my wife and I just stood there, mouths agape.

I asked our friends who we were staying with about this and they just said “Yep, that happens. All the time.”

Sorry, that’s just freaking weird.

— I know the image of L.A. as laid-back is a little cliche, but popped into an Apple Store here and man, it’s like the stoner version of the store in NYC. Everybody’s chill, even the people who’ve been waiting a long time. Nobody seems to get upset, and everybody seemed to leave happy. That doesn’t happen in Manhattan.

— At our friends’ house in L.A. our boy discovered a mini-piano that their boys (5 and 7) loved to play. He barely stepped away from it in two days, except to follow the 5 and 7-year-olds around in whatever they were doing.

— The San Diego Zoo was definitely the highlight of our trip so far; it’s an amazing place, full of awesome animals like giraffes and hippos, and we got to see some leopards and jaguars and tigers up close, too. Cracked me up that all my little guy wanted to see was the monkeys and then we saw them and he immediately started talking about wanting to see ducks. I’m like “Ducks? We see those all the time!”

— Two things I’ve noticed about San Diegans so far: 1, They have lots of opportunities to buy a fish taco; seriously, there’s like 20 restaurants selling them within two miles of our rental house. And 2, nobody seems to care very much that the NFL’s Chargers have fled to Los Angeles. One woman I chatted up even said “Los Angeles? Is that where they went?”

Somehwere, Philip Rivers weeps.

**Finally today, I have to say just a few words about this United Airlines fiasco, which unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock, involved airport security personnel physically dragging a man out of his seat and off the plane when he wouldn’t “voluntarily” remove himself due to airplane seat overbooking.

First of all, this practice of flight overbooking is insane and should be stopped; can you imagine if an NBA team sold 20,500 seats for a 20,000 seat arena for a playoff game, then tried to get 500 people to voluntarily give up their seats for a future game?
It’s nuts, right? And yet we all just accept that the airlines can do this and that’s just the way it is.

Second, I continue to be amazed at how badly these corporate CEO’s handle these viral video stories; this schmuck at United, Oscar Munoz, first tried to blame the passenger and didn’t get to an actual “apology” until his third try, after United stock lost $1.4 billion in value since the incident happened.
Hey CEO’s, it’s OK to get the apology right the first try.
Finally, this idea that reporters are now digging into the man’s past and finding things he’s done wrong, as if that justifies what happened to him? It’s as bad as shaming a rape-victim, for God’s sakes. So he had a felony drug conviction 13 years ago, means  there’s “nuance” and “more to the story” here?

Give me a break. Ridiculous and disgusting that this man’s past gets dredged up because he got manhandled off an airplane.

This world, sometimes…

Good News Friday: A toddler thinks a water heater is a robot, and it’s adorable. Georgia with some bipartisanship greatness fixing a major rape kit backlog. And a man who thought a town in Minnesota was the worst place to live, ever, moves there. And loves it.

And a Happy Friday to you all. As you read this I’m probably stuck in L.A. traffic, because that’s apparently all you do when you visit Southern California. I complain about NYC traffic, but man…

Anyway, we start Good News Friday with thirty seconds of adorableness. Meet Rayna, a super-cute toddler who thinks an old broken-down water heater is a robot. So she talks to it like a robot.

Too cute for words.

**Next up, a slightly more serious good news story. A major problem in states across the country is the millions of untested rape kits that are sitting in police warehouses, unable to be tested because there isn’t enough money or personnel to test them all.

In Georgia, the problem is particularly bad, and a strong state representative, Rep. Scott Holcomb, was miraculously able to do something about it.

His bill, the Pursuing Justice for Rape Victims Act, got bipartisan support in the Georgia legislature and was signed into law last month by GOP Gov. Nathan Deal. The law requires Georgia to test every single rape kit it receives from victims.

It’s a fantastic result, as now more than 4,200 kits that have been languishing will be tested, and hopefully rapists will be arrested and thrown in prison.

“It’s an example of how people can come together and make a difference to fix a very bad problem,” Holcomb said.

The show “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” did a great job on this story (below,) and major points for the “Schoolhouse Rock” theme.

**And finally today, a sweet story from CBS News’ Steve Hartman. A reporter from the Washington Post named Christopher Ingraham wrote about a study that said Red Lake County, Minn. was the worst place in America to live.

He got lots of mail from the county’s residents, of course, but not all of it was vitriolic. Some people asked Christopher to come visit and see for himself what the town had to offer.

Christopher did, fell in love with the place, and now he lives there full-time.

Very, very cool.

I’m off to Cali-forn-ia for 10 days, whoo-hoo! John Oliver with a great segment on marijuana laws’ unfairness. And the Democrats better stay strong on Gorsuch filibuster

 

All the leaves are brown and the sky is gray
I’ve been for a walk on a winter’s day
I’d be safe and warm if I was in L.A.
California dreamin’ on such a winter’s day

California Dreamin, on a sunny day…

Every once in a while a person should fly from one coast to another with an excitable 2.5 year old, don’t you think?

The Lewis trio is off to sunny, drought-ravaged, liberal-loving California today, for 10 hopefully glorious days. The impetus for the trip is that my wonderful mother turned 70 a few months ago and wanted the whole family to go away somewhere nice.

Costa Rica was the first choice, but with Zika still out there and no vaccine, she was understandably wary. So then she settled on San Diego, which no one could possibly disagree with.  Place is 72 degrees and sunny 300 days of the year, who could have a problem with that?

We’re flying to L.A. first, going to hang out with some friends, including this dude who fled his home state for sunnier pastures, angering me greatly (it also angers me when he posts photos from the beach in February, but I’ll forgive him eventually.)

We’re going to stay in a rental house for a week in Padres-ville, and I’m excite to show my little guy the wonders of Sea World (I know, I know, they mistreat the whales, I’ve heard all about “Blackfish.” But I hear it’s getting better), the awesomeness of the San Diego Zoo, and probably LegoLand, where we may never be able to escape because it looks awesome with water rides on Lego boats and my son’s mind will be blown.

Anyhow, should be a lot of fun; California is a great escape from all the GOP destruction of America right now, so I’m going to try not to pay attention to the news for a few days (Call me if there’s a new war, or an impeachment hearing.

All of this is to say, there probably won’t be the usual three-blogs-per-week next week. I’ll have something for Good News Friday this Friday, then probably post some thoughts on our S.D. adventure next Wednesday or Friday, and that’ll be it until Monday, April 17.

Play nice, children.

**Next up today, John Oliver’s fantastic HBO show has been back for a few weeks and honestly I’m feeling a little let down by it; he’s still hilarious, of course, and his zebra sketch was an all-time classic, but I’m a little bothered he’s doing Trump stories every week; we get those so many other places that I come to John Oliver for the less-covered stories.

Anyway, he absolutely nailed his main story this week, a subject very important to me: The ridiculous and cruel way that legal marijuana dispensaries and users are dealt with, and how absurd so many of these laws are (I still can’t get past that pot is considered a Schedule 1 narcotic, while heroin is given a lesser designation.)

Watch to the end, where we see just how impossible it is to stay within the law even if you live in a state that has passed pot legalization. Fantastic stuff, John.

**And finally today, just a few words on the national disgrace that is the Supreme Court nomination of Neil Gorsuch expected to be approved this week: First, I cannot fathom Indiana’s Joe Donnelly, Colorado’s Michael Bennet, North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp, and West Virginia’s Joe Manchin refusing to filibuster Gorsuch with their fellow Democrats; all four deserve all the scorn and ridicule from my party that they’re getting.

This idea that Democratic Senators are bringing the Senate to a “new and historic low” as gasbag Mitch McConnell says, is ludicrious. The Senate refused to vote on a legit, bipartisan-approved candidate last year in Merrick Garland, an unprecedented move in our history, but the Dems should just roll over and approve the right-wing Gorsuch, who will move the Court right?

I know some of my friends are queasy about McConnell blowing up the Senate rules and declaring that from now on, a Supreme Court justice needs only a simple majority to get on the bench.

But you know what? Call his damn bluff. Demographics and the “leadership” of Donald Trump have made the Democratic Party’s future election prospects look bright, and if McConnell wants to blow up the rules, let him. They’ll come back to bite him in the butt in the future.

Glad Chuck Schumer and most Dems (Heitkamp and Manchin are basically Republicans anyway) are finally showing some spine here. We’re in an awful mess in this country right now, but standing up for what’s right is never a bad idea.

 

An awesome minor-league baseball promotion based on “alternative facts.” The parrot who rocks out to Elvis makes me laugh every time. And UConn women lose, and a great men’s title game on track tonight.

It’s the first Monday in April, always a pretty awesome sports day.

It’s usually baseball Opening Day (but since ESPN runs the sports world “Opening Day” is now on a Sunday night, depressingly) but it’s also the championship game of the NCAA men’s Tournament (more on that down below), the ending of the women’s NCAA Tournament (and if you haven’t seen the Shot that Took Down the UConn Streak, you really should; I love it when players I’m taller than do something amazing in sports), and Sunday was also an amazing day for Roger Federer, who continues his shocking rise back to the top of tennis after beating Rafael Nadal yesterday in the Miami Open final.

So yeah, there’s a ton going on in sports. But I want to start today by writing about a minor league baseball promotion that won’t be happening for a few more months.

Why? Because it’s awesome. I love minor league promotions, because they’re always so much more creative than ones in the big leagues.

Anyway, the Erie (Pa.) Seawolves of the AA Eastern League (two rungs below the majors) are having “Alternative Facts Night” on Aug. 25, and this is what it will be:

Hahaha! How awesome is that. In the alternative facts universe, finishing fourth doesn’t mean you can’t get a championship ring.

That’s so brilliant. I would totally go to that game.

**And now, a video that’s two years old and somehow this is the first time I’m seeing it. But I’ve watched it four times and laughed every time. The parrot who loved Elvis, and the other parrot who just can’t stand how embarrassing his cohort is.

Watch until the last 30 seconds when it really gets awesome… Parrot just goes for it!

**And finally today, what an incredible weekend of college basketball we just had. Mississippi State slaying the UConn women after the Huskies had won 111 straight games, then two very compelling men’s Final Four games Saturday, where Gonzaga and UNC sneaked through to the title game tonight.

I love, love, love this matchup: Gonzaga has terrific experience and an explosive offense, and a huge Paul Bunyan-like presence in 7-foot, 300-pound center Przemek Karnowski (seriously, the dude is a truck, don’t know how anyone goes around him). The Tar Heels just know how to win, are in the title game for the second straight year (hey, how did last year’s game end up, hee hee), have a fantastic point guard in Joel Berry, and a terrific big man in Kennedy Meeks.

As much as it pains me to say this, and you know it really does, I think the Heels win tonight, 81-74. And then we get “One Shining Moment,” which will take the sting off UNC’s win for me. Always the greatest few minutes of the Tourney, CBS’s great annual montage. Heck, just watching last year’s gives me some goosebumps.

A video chat from NYC to Singapore reminds me what an amazing time it is to be alive. A double amputee war veteran becomes a police officer, and it’s beautiful. And “Sesame Street” welcomes a first: A new character with autism

And a Happy Friday to all of you out there in Internet-land.

Lots of good stuff coming across my radar these days, and I think sometime next week I’m going to have to blog about “Billions,” on Showtime, because it has become SO freaking great this season, even better than it was last year.

I’m also temporarily obsessed with tennis again (well I usually am but rarely in late March) because Roger Federer is playing awesome and winning everything and Nick Kyrgios is maddening and frustrating and I want to love him for pulling off shots like this but then he acts like such a spoiled, obnoxious brat on the court and I get confused on whether I hate him or love him.

Sorry, where was I? Oh yes, Good News Friday. On with the show.

So my father and stepmother are on one of those “once in a lifetime” vacations right now. They’re spending a month in Asia, going to Hong Kong, Thailand, Vietnam, China, all the usual places people go when they decide to go to Asia and do it right (they were originally going to do a shorter trip, but my father, quite rationally I feel, thought “if we’re going to do this once in our lives, might as well go all out. I’m 73 years old, it’s not like I’ll be going BACK to Asia.”)

Tuesday night they were in Singapore, and my Dad called me on WhatsApp video chat from their hotel. I was sitting in my apartment in New York City, he’s in a hotel in Singapore, roughly 10,000 miles away.

We spoke for about 10 minutes, and then I brought the phone into my 2-year-old son’s bedroom while he was sleeping, and showed my Dad his grandson. My father remarked that one of the stuffed animals who sleeps in the crib was in a strange position.

Then we hung up, and he went back inside his room and I sat down and just thought: How amazing it is to be alive in 2017, that I can do that?

With just a small device in each of our hands, and an app we download for free, we can have a crystal-clear call where I see him and he sees me as if we’re in the same room.

It’s incredible when you stop and think about it, and we never do, which is why I’m writing about it now. Alexander Graham Bell invented the phone in 1876, and here are 141 years later, and we’ve come so far.

We take this stuff for granted, but can you imagine if our grandparents, during World War 2, could’ve done this? Talked to their husbands or wives or children, live and seeing their face, on a call from Detroit to Okinawa, or Topeka to Normandy. Or how about if this technology existed during the Civil War, with families and towns torn apart. To think a soldier in a tent somewhere fighting for the Union could call his parents and let them know he was OK, and see his face.

I know, I know, I’m coming off like one of those cliched NYC tourists who gawk at tall buildings. But we are so, so fortunate to be alive in 2017, for so many reasons.

And that I could see my father’s face from 10,000 miles away, and he could see his grandson, is one of them. (oh, and he was right: Winnie the Pooh was in a weird position in the crib.)

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**Next up today, a quickie Steve Hartman “CBS Sunday Morning” story that I loved, and that took place in the county where I grew up on Long Island. It’s about a man named Matias Ferreira, who looked like he’d lost everything in war by losing his legs, but still managed to live out his dream of becoming a police officer.

Nothing is impossible. Don’t ever let anyone tell you you can’t achieve your dreams.

**Finally today, this is a very cool story. As autism awareness has grown over the last 20 years, with so many more children diagnosed with it, television and movies have slowly begun incorporating characters with autism into its scripts.

Now, “Sesame Street,” the absolute first-stop for many parents with toddlers, has brought onto the show an autistic character. Named Julia, she’s got red hair, bright green eyes, and lots of new friends like Big Bird and Elmo.

Such a small thing for “Sesame Street” to do. But such a big thing, too. So pleased to see them trying to reach every child they can.

Trump takes yet another step to destroy the environment, and our children’s future. A “Wheel of Fortune” contestantant with a new twist on a famous play. And a man tries to impress a girl by fighting a crocodile

I’m trying. I’m really, really trying not to write about Donald Trump’s slow destruction of America all the time on this blog.

I don’t want to write it over and over again, you don’t want to read it over and over again, we know it’s happening, there’s little we can do to stop it. It’s depressing as hell, I’m still mad at Hillary Clinton for losing to this fraud, and I just don’t want to think about Trump all the time.

But sometimes, I have to write about what this orange grifter is doing. Because I just get so angry, so infuriated, that I have to write about it.

Take today. On Tuesday this small, pathetic man, beholden to no one more than his own massive ego, decided once more to use an Executive Order (which the GOP used to hate, remember?) to put one more dagger in the coffin of future Americans, and their ability to, you know, breathe.

From The Washington Post’s story, and then I’ll have some thoughts:

“President Trump on Tuesday took the most significant step yet in obliterating his predecessor’s environmental record, instructing federal regulators to rewrite key rules curbing U.S. carbon emissions.

The sweeping executive order — which the president signed with great fanfare in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Map Room — also seeks to lift a moratorium on federal coal leasing and remove the requirement that federal officials consider the impact of climate change when making decisions.

The order sends an unmistakable signal that just as President Barack Obama sought to weave climate considerations into every aspect of the federal government, Trump is hoping to rip that approach out by its roots. The president did not utter the words “climate change” once, instead emphasizing that the move would spur job creation in the fossil fuel industry.”

“Our administration is putting an end to the war on coal,” Trump said, accompanied onstage by more than a dozen coal miners…

OK, OK, OK. First, how many bleepin’ times in his Presidency is Trump going to go on and on about his love for coal miners? And how important it is that we save them? There are, what, a few hundred thousand coal miners left in America? (According to this 2016 USA Today story, there were 56,000 active coal jobs in the U.S., this 2015 story from SourceWatch says there are approximately 174,000 blue-collar, full-time, permanent jobs related to coal in the U.S.).

Really, that’s the industry that we “must save,” instead of the millions of jobs that are being created in environmental fields like wind and solar energy, jobs and careers that are forward-thinking? The President and his advisors want to turn America back to 1952 in more ways than one, but “restoring coal industry” is just so stupid and pointless, because that industry is not coming back/

Second, the language I italicized above, about federal officials no longer needing to consider the effect of climate change when making decisions, is just insane. There is NO legitimate scientific debate that climate change is real, and yet our President says “Nah, don’t worry about climate change, do whatever you want to the land.”

And third, Tuesday set me over the edge but this is just one of many, many anti-environment, anti-progress measures the orange grifter has enacted in just two months. From throwing away fuel-efficiency standards, to opening up Keystone and Dakota Access oil pipelines, to saying he’s going to withdraw from the Paris climate change accord, every single action is designed to move us backwards, deny reality, and screw over the future.

And I’m sorry, but I give a crap about my kid being able to breathe clean air and be able to go outside.

This Trump nightmare cannot end soon enough.

**Next up, it’s been a while since I’ve featured a really stupid game show contestant, but thankfully, a recent “Wheel of Fortune” episode has provided me with a beautiful clip.

Watch this guy’s guess of a famous Tennessee Williams play title. Hey, if he’d been correct and that was the title, I think they’d have sold a ton more tickets to every performance. It could’ve been on Cinemax, too…

**Finally today, I wish I could say that a story like this could only happen in Australia, but nope, there are stupid men trying to impress women in every country in the world.

So check this out: A drunk Australian 18-year-old named Lee Depaauw was at a hostel in Innisfail, Australia, in Queensland, when he chatted up a pretty 24-year-old British backpacker, Sophie Peterson.

Our man Lee, who later said he’d drank about “10 cups of goon” before meeting Sophie (my favorite Australian friend, Konrad, says goon is boxed wine in Australia.), started telling her that the nearby river infested with crocodiles was less likely to attack a native like Lee than a backpacking tourist.

To, I don’t know, prove it? Lee decided to jump in the water. Making like Westley in “The Princess Bride,” he swiftly and quickly fought off the crocodile, leaped back to dry land and into the arms of an admiring and love-struck Sophie, and the two walked arm-in-arm together into wedded bliss.

Yeah, right.

Lee had his arm basically chewed off by a croc who clearly had never watched a Hollywood rom-com, and Lee’s lucky to be alive, and Sophie wasn’t the least bit impressed. Well, OK, she was a LITTLE impressed.

“I think he’s very brave to be, you know, in such high spirits after what happened,” said Ms Paterson, who said she has agreed to go on a date with Mr De Paauw.

Oh Sophie, now you’re just encouraging him. Watch video of Lee and Sophie talking about the incident below.

Men. Sometimes I’m so embarrassed to be one, you know?