The most honest obituary of an addict I’ve ever seen. NFL Week 7 thoughts. And the new LeBron commercial gives me chills

There has been so much talk of the opioid crisis in America over the last few years, as it gets worse and worse, affects more and more lives, and nothing seems to get done about it.
Local and state governments talk a big game, and throw money at the problem, but never really do anything about some of the major underlying factors that put someone at risk of addiction (poverty, joblessness, etc.)

Sometimes you just get numb to it. But then you see this, the most brutally honest obituary I’ve ever read. It appeared in a small newspaper in Vermont, and it was for a young woman named Madelyn Linsenmeir, who was a young mom of only 30.

Listen to some of the words and phrases used by her family in this devastating, beautiful obit:

While her death was unexpected, Madelyn suffered from drug addiction, and for years we feared her addiction would claim her life. We are grateful that when she died, she was safe and she was with her family…

When she was 16, she moved with her parents from Vermont to Florida to attend a performing arts high school. Soon after she tried OxyContin for the first time at a high school party, and so began a relationship with opiates that would dominate the rest of her life.

And then this, gutting paragraph.

After having (her son) Ayden, Maddie tried harder and more relentlessly to stay sober than we have ever seen anyone try at anything. But she relapsed and ultimately lost custody of her son, a loss that was unbearable.

During the past two years especially, her disease brought her to places of incredible darkness, and this darkness compounded on itself, as each unspeakable thing that happened to her and each horrible thing she did in the name of her disease exponentially increased her pain and shame. For 12 days this summer, she was home, and for most of that time she was sober. For those 12 wonderful days, full of swimming and Disney movies and family dinners, we believed as we always did that she would overcome her disease and make the life for herself we knew she deserved. We believed this until the moment she took her last breath. But her addiction stalked her and stole her once again.

We talk about “the real face of addiction” and all of that, but listening to Madelyn’s family talk about her like this, it just breaks your heart.

Read the whole thing, it’s a fantastic, truthful story of a life lived, and one that ended way too soon.
(P.S.: Just found this equally great post, in reaction to the obit of Madelyn going viral, from the Burlington, Vt. police chief, about how it shouldn’t take something like this obituary to make people care. Really strong, wise words from chief Brandon del Pozo here.)

**Next up today, it’s obvious to my readers that I’m completely in the tank for LeBron James; I love the guy, everything he stands for and everything he’s done.

But it’s still nice sometimes, even though I’ve been watching him since 2002, to sit back and realize from where he came, and how far he’s come. Check out this new, beautiful Nike ad celebrating the now-Lakers star (man that feels weird to type, Lakers) and the kinds of things he said when he first came into the NBA, 15 years ago.

Really fantastic ad.

**And finally today, it was another wild day of NFL football Sunday. I really am trying to pay less attention every year because I have such conflicted feelings about pro football, head trauma, and supporting a league run by Roger Goodell, one of the worst commissioners ever in sports, but the games have been very, very compelling this year.

One game that was NOT compelling, which I’m glad I didn’t see any of, was my Jets, predictably, showing they’re not any good this year, just as we thought. The Vikings whipped up on my boys, Sam Darnold looked like a rookie QB (to be fair, all the Jets’ receivers are hurt and the O-Line apparently played terrible), and Minnesota is a good team who should beat the Jets by 20 (which they did).

— Can we just move ahead to February right now and play the Rams-Chiefs Super Bowl? Every week I watch highlights of their games and every week it’s clear these two offenses are incredible. They actually play in the regular season in November, that’s going to be fabulous.

— The Eagles… wow. A 17-0 fourth-quarter lead, at home against Carolina, and they blow it and lose. The Super Bowl champs are 3-4, and I’m going out on a limb and saying they can make other plans for Super Bowl Sunday, because they won’t be in it.

— Another week, another Cleveland  Browns epic. My second-favorite team played its FOURTH overtime game of the season Sunday, and predictably, lost. It took a 59-yard field goal by Tampa Bay to beat them, but hey, every week it’s something different.

— If there’s a more confusing NFL team this year than the Dolphins, I don’t know who it is. OK, maybe it’s the Jaguars, who seemed to be Super Bowl contenders heading into the year, but now are stinking it up.

— Finally, something incredible, amazing and unbelievable happened Sunday: Justin Tucker missed an extra point. The Ravens kicker has been Mr. Automatic for his whole career, like, he NEVER misses an easy field goal or an extra point. He was 222-for-22 on PAT’s in his career, and made 78 of 78 field goal tries from 33 yards and in (the extra point distance now), so he’d made 300 straight kicks from that distance or closer.

And then Sunday, with the Ravens just needing that point to tie the Saints and likely send the game into OT, he… missed. No, really, he did. I saw it with my own eyes.
It was shocking. It cost the Ravens the game. And Tucker, class act that he is, stood up afterwards and took the blame.
I still can’t believe he missed.

 

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Good News Friday: A 107-year-old barber on the secrets to a long life. An English soccer team finds a unique way to deal with hooligan awfulness. And an NFL player raises a ton of money to help hungry people

And a Happy Friday to all of you out there, as we in the East dig our winter coats and hats out of the closet all of a sudden. It went from summer to freezing in like two weeks here. I guess I missed autumn.

Anyway, as I bemoan the hated Red Sox reaching yet another World Series (try telling a Boston fan in 2002 that they’d read that sentence from a Yankees fan i 2018), lots of good news going on as usual to take my mind off that.

First up, nothing more inspiring than people who refuse to let their age dictate how they live. Meet 107-year-old barber Anthony Mancinelli, who still works full-time at the Fantastic Cuts hair salon in New Windsor, N.Y.

According to this charming profile in the New York Times by Corey Kilgannon, Mancinelli started working in barbershops when he we was 11 years old. Warren G. Harding was the President then.

He still works five days a week, from noon to 8 p.m. This is a guy who was born before World War I started! And he’s still going strong.

“People come in and they flip out when they find out how old he is,” said the shop’s owner, Jane Dinezza.

“He never calls in sick,” she said. “I have young people with knee and back problems, but he just keeps going. He can do more haircuts than a 20-year-old kid. They’re sitting there looking at their phones, texting or whatever, and he’s working.”

Diet-wise, he said, “I eat thin spaghetti, so I don’t get fat.”

He has all his teeth and is on no daily medication. He has never needed glasses, and his hairstyling hands are still steady.

“I only go to the doctor because people tell me to, but even he can’t understand it,” he said. “I tell him I have no aches, no pains, no nothing. Nothing hurts me.”

Incredible. He’s 107 and has no aches and pains. I’m 43 and complain all the time about physical ailments. What a great role model for us to aspire to. Here’s a short YouTube video showing Anthony in action.

**Next up today, another tale of an NFL player doing good things far from the field. New York Jets offensive lineman Kelvin Beachum just raised $70,000 to fight hunger and support World Food Day. World Food Day is celebrated internationally on October 16th every year to honor the founding date of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 1945.

Beachum initiated a match challenge for five food banks across America that honor his hometown, his home state of Texas, and the cities he’s played in during his NFL career.

Beachum helped raise enough to serve 327,000 meals at the food banks he chose, a tremendous accomplishment.

As someone who’s worked at food banks and soup kitchens for a long time, believe me, those meals will go a long, long way.

Great job Kelvin.

**And finally today, this might be one of those stories where you question my inclusion of it into Good News Friday, but to me I think it really is a sign of progress, and a terrific idea.

So it’s no secret to most sports fans that British soccer fans can be among the nastiest, most boorish, racially-insensitive fans anywhere. Tales of racist, xenophobic, homophobic and any other cruelty you can imagine being yelled at athletes has been yelled by fans.

Well, the famous Premier League team Chelsea is trying new approach: It’s sending racist fans on educational trips to former Nazi concentration camps.

For real.

“If you just ban people, you will never change their behavior,” Chelsea Chairman Bruce Buck was quoted as saying by Britain’s Sun newspaper on Thursday, providing details about a project the club announced at the beginning of the year. “This policy gives them the chance to realize what they have done, to make them want to behave better.”

Although similar visits organized by other institutions have yielded some positive results in the past, the effort can be risky. This is all part of a more concerted push by the club to tackle anti-Semitism. While club officials have repeatedly stressed that it’s about the rise of anti-Semitism globally, the club specifically has faced criticism for discriminatory chants by fans. The club is owned by Roman Abramovich, a Russian-Israeli Jewish billionaire. In November 2016, Chelsea fans made headlines when they chanted anti-Jewish slogans, targeting fans of rival club Tottenham Hotspur.

Besides the planned visits to concentration camps, Chelsea is also holding workshops and movie screenings at schools or during fan forums.

Look, do I think this will solve the problem of anti-Semitic fans? Not completely. But could it hurt to actually send these louts to Auschwitz and Treblinka and Dachau, and force them to see what actually happened there? No, it couldn’t.

I commend Chelsea for trying something here.

The strange new sensation I felt last week, when I fired someone for the first time. A 10-year-old rocks with Foo Fighters on stage. And looking back at the 1968 Smith/Carlos Olympic protest, with echoes of today

Have you ever had to fire someone? It’s kind of an unsettling experience.

I’m 43 years old, and until last week, I don’t think I’ve ever had to tell someone they were no longer needed or wanted, and that I or the company I worked for wanted them to stop showing up to work, because we’d stop paying them.

I mean, I’ve been a part of discussions about firing someone, but never had to actually do it.
And like most people, I think, I’ve been fired myself. Twice, actually. Th e first time was from a temp job in college that I hated, a telemarketing gig that I was just terrible at. After the third day I told my Dad I was quitting at the end of the week, and then on Day 4 they called me at home and said not to come in to work, I clearly didn’t have the knack for the job, etc.

I just laughed. I wanted to be all like “You can’t fire me, I quit!” but didn’t even get the chance, the guy hung up the phone pretty fast.

I was also fired from my writing/editing job at SLAM Magazine but after the shock wore off I realized I was happy not to be there anymore. I hated the job and it led to many much better things in my life.

Anyway, I’d never actually had to pink-slip anyone, until last week. When we moved to Long Island in June we hired a new part-time nanny, and we had high hopes for her. She had glowing recommendations, seemed great in the interview, and had no reason not to think that she’d work just well with our two boys.

But from the start, there were problems. Her English wasn’t great, which meant we had communication issues on a lot of things. She still, months after starting, was asking questions about basic things about our baby son’s routines, and a few times she outright ignored or didn’t do things I’d asked for.

So finally a few weeks ago my wife and I talked about replacing her, and after finding someone new to replace our current nanny, it was time to let her go.

All last week I rehearsed in my head what I would say, trying to get on auto-pilot like George Clooney’s character in the fantastic film Up in the Air. I also felt bad for doing it; this woman was trying her best, she just wasn’t doing what we asked. Like I said, I’d never had to do this before.

When last Friday came, after I thought I had anticipated all reactions I’d get when telling the nanny she’d been let go, I was surprised by her reaction.

She had almost none.

I said my little spiel about how it just wasn’t working out, and she said “OK.” And then “fine.” And a little while later, “OK.” (She also, oddly, asked if I knew anyone else who was looking for a nanny. Ummm, not sure I’d recommend to a friend someone who I didn’t think was good at the job we’d hired her for.)

There was no protest, no demands of reasons or specific details. Just OK, fine, and there was no anger or hard feelings at all.

The whole conversation lasted less than five minutes, she took the envelope I gave her with two weeks pay It was so simple, so easy. And so strange.

I’d never want to have a job where I fired people all the time. Too stressful.

But for my first time, it went pretty OK.

**Next up today, one more reason why Dave Grohl and Foo Fighters are awesome. The other night in a concert in Kansas City, a 10-year-old local music whiz named Collier got to go up on stage with Grohl, and play a couple of Metallica songs (including “Enter Sandman” which strangely and happily has become a huge favorite of my 4-year-old. I’m doing parenting right, I tell ya!).

The kid is a really good guitar player! And Grohl is a mensch for what he does at the end. Really cool stuff.

**Finally today, Tuesday was the 50th anniversary of one of the most famous moments in Olympic history, when U.S. sprinters John Carlos and Tommie Smith raised black-gloved fists in protest during their Olympic medal ceremony.

Carlos and Smith, channeling the Black Power Movement, were immediately criticized and ostracized here in America, with newspaper columnists, U.S. Olympic Committee execs, and so many others being outraged at the nerve of these two athletes.

Of course, what many others saw was two men using their moment on the world stage to bring attention to the plight of African-Americans in the U.S., where their civil and human rights were violated regularly.

Smith and Carlos, with a half-century’s distance, are now looked on by many as heroes for what they did, as they should be. Their powerful protest continued the grand American tradition of protest, and athletes making their stands today, like Colin Kaepernick and LeBron James, owe a debt to Smith and Carlos.

Amid the media coverage of the anniversary, I thought this was very interesting: Writer Andrew Maraniss posted a clip on Twitter of Howard Cosell, from 1968, talking about Smith and Carlos (hat tip to my friend Dave for pointing me toward this). As Maraniss says, change the names and this clip is extremely relevant still today. Pretty brave stance for Cosell to take at the time.

I finally see “Hamilton” and yeah, it’s as amazing as everyone says it is. And NFL Week 6: My Jets are exciting and don’t stink, while the Rams still rule and the Pats are back

About halfway through seeing the Broadway production of “Hamilton” last Thursday night, my wife saw me smiling and having a great time.

“But you hate musicals!” she teased.

“This isn’t a musical!” I declared. “It’s a history lesson with really good songs!”

Hey, I wasn’t giving in on that one. I’m not a big fan of musicals. But call “Hamilton” a musical, or a history lesson with songs, or whatever. Fact is, nearly three years after it debuted and instantly became a smash hit, and 10 months after I finally was able to get tickets to see it (seriously, I bought these babies in January), the wait was absolutely worth it.

“Hamilton” was sensational. Mind-blowing and fantastic. The performances, the lyrics, the costumes, the sheer energy of every single performer. I don’t care if it wasn’t the original cast, this group of actors and actresses absolutely put on a powerhouse show, one the likes of which I haven’t ever seen. (Here’s a clip from the show’s performance at the Tonys in 2016)

First, the song lyrics, as amazing as I thought they were, are even better watching them live, in person, sung out at full force. How Lin-Manuel Miranda came up with all of this, just boggles my mind. How he saw the story of Alexander Hamilton and imagined this entire, beautiful musical is kind of hard to fathom.

Lines like “Hey yo, I’m just like my country, I’m young, scrappy and hungry,” and “When I meet Thomas Jefferson, I’m a compel him to include women in the sequel” are just magical.

I also loved “How does a ragtag army in need of a shower/somehow defeat a global superpower.”

I had to Google a few lyrics that I missed because the speed at which the actors spit them out is 10x faster than any Aaron Sorkin script, let me tell you.

But beyond the words, the story, and the performances, are so, so good. The characters of Aaron Burr, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and the others are so well-drawn, and easily digestible as history through entertainment, that I have no problem at all with millions of kids (and frankly, adults) using “Hamilton” as an educational tool.

The story of this brash young immigrant coming to America and helping change the world, and brush up against so many obstacles, has so many universal themes. Betrayal, triumph, infidelity… you name it, “Hamilton” covers it all.

The actors and actresses were terrific as well; the story of the Schuyler sisters is equally vital to all of the Founding Fathers stuff, and gives Alexander Hamilton even more dimension.

It was a thrilling theater experience, it really was. After hearing, and reading, so much about “Hamilton” for the past three years, to finally actually see it live let me truly understand the brilliance of the show.

If you live anywhere near a city where “Hamilton” is playing, I highly recommend it. I feel so lucky that I was able to see it.

Like so few things in life do, it lives up to the hype.

**Finally today, it was another surprisingly happy NFL Sunday for long-suffering Jets fans like me. Two wins in a row! A winning streak! A rookie quarterback who increasingly seems like the real deal in Sam Darnold.

I’m not getting crazy-excited yet, because the Jets did give up 34 points to a pretty terrible Indy team, but Darnold had a tremendously efficient game, and hey, 3-3 puts them right in the thick of things, playoff-wise, in the AFC.
The next two weeks will let me know if I can get excited for real; Jets play the Vikings and then the Bears. Win those games and my fellow Jets fanatics will be pumped.

— What a wild Sunday night game we had. Patriots-Chiefs gave us 83 points, and even though like usual I was pissed at the ending (at SOME point Tom Brady will retire and the Pats will stink again, right?) it was wildly fun to watch. If the Chiefs get ANY kind of defense, they can win the Super Bowl.

— So the L.A. Rams stayed undefeated, with the kind of win you need if you’re going to win a Super Bowl, a gritty, on-the-road, not-pretty victory, 23-20 over the desperate Denver Broncos. Not sure who the Rams will be losing to.

— Brock Osweiler is alive!!! Who knew? The left-for-dead QB who stunk it up everywhere he went in the NFL led the Miami Dolphins to a stirring OT win over the Bears. Brock, we always knew you had it in you.

— This cracked me up: Tarik Cohen of the Bears, whose surname makes him sound Jewish but he most certainly is not, was taken to a Jewish deli by the sports website Bleacher Report, and given a quick primer on Yiddish words. Stay with it until the end, absolutely made me laugh. Unrelatedly, I spent Sunday at a bat mitzvah and helped out on the chair lift as well. Always fun.

 

Good News Friday: A Carolina Panther with some amazing work after Hurricane Florence. Your periodic reminder that Steph Curry is pure, pure joy. And a man inspired by a teacher meets his hero once again

A couple of programming notes before we dive in to Good News Friday: 1, I don’t believe in my 43 years of life I’ve ever had a hurricane named after me, but Hurricane Michael is here and walloped the hell out of parts of Florida and Georgia, and on behalf of all Michael’s everywhere, we apologize.
Also, about a year after we bought the impossible-to-get tickets, the wife and I finally saw “Hamilton” on Broadway Thursday night. Mind-blowingly good. Like, “holy cow everything everyone said about it being amazing was an understatement” kind of good. Much longer blog post about it coming next week.

OK, on with the show…

We start Good News Friday this week with a story of a wonderful gesture from Carolina Panthers football player Julius Peppers. The longtime star defensive end is from North Carolina, and back when Hurricane Florence hit last month he immediately donated $100,000 to the relief efforts, and got teammates like Cam Newton to match that amount, too.

But Peppers didn’t just put up money; this week on his off day he went to the United Way headquarters in Robeson County early Tuesday morning to begin a day of service.

According to this story in the Charlotte Observer, he joined volunteers as they went through neighborhoods to speak with residents and see homes, and lend support as those affected told their stories.

“A lot of these people had to rip the walls out of their homes, throw out furniture and clothing, throw out everything that they had, all of their possessions thrown to the side of the road,” said Peppers. “Seeing those things, and the people telling their stories, it was an experience that I’m going to take with me and that I’m going to share with others as I encourage others to come try to help out, too.”

Peppers joined members of the Mennonite community as they served meals to residents affected by the storm in various neighborhoods in the county.

Then, Peppers and the United Way volunteers helped clean out and start repairs on the home of a policeman who couldn’t save his own belongings from the storm, because he was out in the neighborhood helping others evacuate.

Outstanding job, Julius. I like highlighting these stories because we hear so often about the Ray Rices and Greg Hardys of pro football, who have committed crimes, but not nearly enough about the vast majority of good humans who play in the NFL. They deserve praise, too.

**Next up, every once in a while I like to remind myself and others of how amazing Steph Curry is. This was just one moment in a meaningless pregame warmup to a meaningless preseason game.

But seriously, how cool is this shot? Watching Steph Curry is pure joy, man. Just pure, pure joy.

**And finally today, it was International Teacher’s Day last week, and while I think every day should be one we honor teachers, this one was special for at least one student.
Ian Wright is a former soccer player from England, and he told a story about his favorite grade school teacher, a man named Mr. Pigden.

Here’s Wright, in a short 2-minute video, explaining what Mr. Pigden meant to him, and oh man, get the tissues ready for what happens starting at the 1:20 mark.

Great teachers never die, they just live on in our memories.

The Minnesota town overrun with drunk birds. “This American Life” with an amazing episode about police indifference in a Long Island town. And a transgender student left alone in active shooter drill is disgraceful

A moment of silence before we begin for the 2018 New York Yankees season. I don’t follow baseball much anymore but I do get into the playoffs, and that 9th inning of Red Sox-Yanks last night was crazy exciting and tense. Ah well, great season by the men in Pinstripes…

Sometimes, you see a headline on a story and you know there’s no possible way you won’t be reading the whole thing.

Such was the case last week when I came across this doozy, in the Washington Post:
“Drunk birds are causing havoc in a Minnesota town. Police say they’ll sober up soon.”

I mean… you gotta stop and read that, right? So here’s the deal: In the small burg of Gilbert, Minn., the local police are receiving reports from locals about birds that are “under the influence” flying into windows, cars and acting confused,” according to Police Chief Ty Techar.

So what’s going on? Have some college kids been bring their Stroh’s Lights over to the birds and pouring them down their gullets? 2-for-1 night if you can fly over at the old local tavern? Are the birds just high on life? (Thank you, I got a million of these, I’ll be here all week. Try the veal).

Nope. Apparently an early Minnesota frost meant that berries had fermented earlier than usual, Techar explained, and birds were eating them and getting drunk. (Please, make your own jokes here about a spinoff to the wildly successful game, maybe called “Angry Drunk Birds.”

Incidents around town involving intoxicated birds appear to be more prevalent than in past years, Techar added, because many have not yet migrated south. “It appears that some birds are getting a little more ‘tipsy’ than normal,” he wrote. “Generally, younger birds’ livers cannot handle the toxins as efficiently as more mature birds.” (Well sure, that’s true of humans, too!)

Turns out the birds should sober up soon, and I love the Gilbert police department’s press release about this, ending with the statements that locals should call police if the see:
— Woodstock pushing Snoopy off the doghouse for no apparent reason
— Big Bird operating a vehicle in an unsafe manner,
— The Roadrunner jumping in and out of traffic on Main St.

Too funny. Be careful out there, our flying feathered friends.

**Next up, on a much more serious note, I’ve raved often in this space about the incredible journalism done each week on the NPR show “This American Life,” which has millions of devoted listeners like me.

The show has been on a fantastic streak of great episodes lately, none better (in my opinion) than last week’s show, No. 657, called “The Runaways.” It’s about what happened in a Long Island town when MS-13 gang activity picked up dramatically, and the Suffolk County police department’s woefully inadequate, downright callous and insensitive way of handling it. The episode tells the story of three Latino immigrant teenage boys, what happens to them, and the way the Suffolk PD “investigates” their disappearance.

Now, this one maybe hit close to home for me because I grew up in Suffolk, and the town this all happened in, Brentwood, was 15 minutes from my hometown of Commack.
But I don’t think you have to be from there to be outraged by the actions of the Suffolk PD, and to have your heartbreak for families like those of Miguel Garcia (above.).

Done in conjunction with the outstanding journalism think tank ProPublica, this episode is astoundingly good. Take an hour on your next commute to listen and download it; it’s devastating and great.

Made me so mad, how much some lives are valued, and how little others are.

**Speaking of that, this story made me shake my head, and honestly, I don’t know what to say about it.

A middle school in Virginia left a transgender student alone during an active shooter practice drill last week,  because they didn’t know where to shelter them.

Students were shepherded into the boys and girls locker rooms during the drill at Stafford County Middle School in Stafford, Va., while administrators and teachers debated where to put the transgender student.

From this story, according to Equality Stafford, an LGBTQ organization: The student was forced to watch the adults charged with her care, debate the safest place (for the other students) to have her shelter,” Equality Stafford claimed. “During this debate, she was instructed to sit in the gym with a teacher until the drill was complete, away from her peers and identified as different.”

The student was eventually told to sit in the locker room hallway, away from other students, for the remainder of the drill.

My goodness, what is wrong with people???

CBS’ John Dickerson calls out Mitch McConnell on his lies, and it’s quite something to watch. SNL cold open again is fabulous. And the week in NFL football: The Jets and Browns both win! What’s this world coming to?

There is so much BS coming out of Washington these days, so much pure, unadulterated, untrue crap, that so much of it gets lost in the shuffle and forgotten about.

For example, four days ago the New York Times published an exhaustive investigation of Donald Trump’s finances and, with proof, accused the current President of fraud and lying in his accumulation of wealth.
The sitting President of the United States, in the nation’s most important newspaper, accused of fraud, and no one is  talking about it.

It’s appalling, but so much of what has happened in the last two years is just as appalling. Mitch McConnell has been spewing lies for much longer than Trump has been around as a political figure, and rarely does he get called on it. Lately he’s been claiming, falsely, that in denying Merrick Garland a Supreme Court confirmation hearing he’s just following Senate history and precedent.

Well, that’s a load of crap, and finally, to his face McConnell was called on it on Sunday. Here’s CBS’ John Dickerson, with McConnell on Sunday.

We need more of this kind of television. When an individual is factually lying, they need to be called out on it, to their face, in real time. Good job John Dickerson.
**Next up today, as depressed as I was by the Kavanaugh hearing outcome and Susan Collins’ unbelievably self-righteous and so misguided defense of her vote on Friday (when I heard her bring up Garland’s name as part of her defense I about threw my TV out the window, I mean the chutzpah), I have to admit that for the second week in a row the “Saturday Night Live” cold open did give me a few minutes of joy.
Kate MacKinnon is an absolute national treasure.
**Finally today, it was another wild Sunday in the NFL, and it was one of those incredibly rare days where the Jets won easily.
They trailed the Denver Broncos, 7-0, early but soon the Jets took over behind a dominating rushing game, and in the second half the game became kind of a blowout. Isiah Crowell set a team record with 219 rushing yards and the boys in Green and White crushed Denver, 34-16.
What a weird, weird season my team has had this year. A dominating win in the opener, then three straight miserable performances, then a dominating win Sunday. Who knows what will happen next week.
— Craziest finish of the week came in the Panthers-Giants game. Carolina was up 11 in the second half, the Giants came back to take lead with a minute left, and then the Panthers’ Graham Gano hit an insane 63-yard-field goal (2nd longest in NFL history) to win the game at the buzzer. I mean, you gotta see this thing, it would’ve been good from 70 yards away.
— Not only did the Jets win, but the lovable Cleveland Browns won, too! Three OT games out of five for America’s Team, but this time they finally left overtime with a win. Say this for the Browns: They give you your money’s worth and lots of football to watch.
— The two best teams in the NFL rolled along Sunday, as the Rams and Chiefs both moved to 5-0. They play each other on Monday, Nov. 19, and it’d be so awesome if both were unbeaten going into it. Either way that’s going to be a hell of a game.
— Speaking of Monday Night Football, hey Jon Gruden, how’s that return to coaching going, ha pal? Your team is awful, losing again Sunday. On behalf of all “MNF” viewers, please stay on the sidelines and away from the broadcast booth for a long time.
— Finally, spare a thought for poor Mason Crosby of the Packers. Guy has been one of best kickers in the NFL the last decade, but Sunday he had a horrendous day. He missed four field goals, and an extra point, as Green Bay lost to Detroit by 8. In addition to letting down his teammates, he disappointed the fan I sat next to at the sports bar Sunday who proudly drives this car (above), which I can only imagine gets horrified looks here on Long Island, far from Cheesehead Country.
Seriously, would you be seen in that thing?

Good News Friday: The “Creed 2” movie trailer has me so excited. A small town in Oregon honors its favorite son: A deliveryman. And a 99-year-old walks six miles a day to visit his sick wife

And a Happy Friday, boys and girls, children of all ages. While we wait for the white smoke to come from the Capitol, and praise God we get word that Drinkin’ Brett doesn’t get confirmed for the Supreme Court, here are three small doses of happiness for you to head into the weekend.

OK, so you may remember a few years ago I got totally, irrationally excited over the new movie “Creed,” a sort-of sequel to all the Rocky movies starring Michael B. Jordan as Adonis Creed, long-lost son of Apollo. Well, the movie was pretty fantastic, Jordan should’ve gotten an Oscar nomination for it, and even Sly Stallone showed some acting chops.

Well, for reasons I can’t quite understand (oh yeah, $$$$), they’re making a sequel, with a storyline so ridiculous it’s wonderful: Ivan Drago, murderer of Apollo Creed in Rocky IV (“If he dies, he dies”) has a son, and that son challenges Adonis Creed to a match.

Is it crazy? Of course. But watch the above trailer and tell me you don’t want to run through a wall. The movie comes out Nov. 21, and I’m super excited for it. Again, I get sucked back in!

**Next up today, blog favorite Steve Hartman of CBS News never fails to make me smile. This story in particular warmed my heart. In the Pacific Northwest town of Gresham, Ore., an autistic man named Todd Kirnan has become a local hero over the past decades. Tod is the Everyman for the town, making deliveries for all, running errands for downtown businesses, and putting smiles on the faces of so many residents.

So how can the town repay him? With an unbelievable series of gestures and events. Watch this three-minute story, and feel good today.

**Finally today, a story I missed from a few weeks ago that I wanted to share. One year shy of being 100, Luther Younger (and isn’t THAT a great name for this guy?) loves his wife, Waverlee, more than life itself. When she was diagnosed with a brain tumor several years ago, she of course had to go to a hospital near their home in Rochester, N.Y.

When Waverlee is in the hospital for treatment, Luther decides to walk three miles, each way, to go visit her. His family has offered to give him rides, as have friends, but he always says no.

I got a wife. I don’t want to wait on the bus. I want to go up there to see my wife,” he said during an interview.

former Marine and Vietnam veteran, Luther speaks lovingly about his wife, and about his devotion.

“She’s the best cup of tea I ever had,” he said of his wife. “She would come in and kiss me and say baby and feed me in the bed and this is what I need right here.”

Wonderful devotion. I hope if I live to 99, I can still walk six miles, I tell you that much.

David Wright says goodbye to the Mets, and I try to explain the sports fan/athlete bond. A cigarette ad from the 1950s is kind of amazing to look at. And “The Deuce” has been stellar in season 2

Last weekend in New York, in a ballpark that should’ve been half empty since it was a completely meaningless end of season game, 40,000 Mets fans showed up to salute a player who hadn’t been on a big-league field in more than two years.

David Wright was once the Mets’ future star, a guy hyped every much as Darryl Strawberry and Doc Gooden back in the day. He was good looking, he had a beautiful swing, and he was, as I saw him called many times over the last few days, “the Mets’ Derek Jeter.”

Wright had some amazing moments in a Mets uniform, helped lead them to the World Series in 2015, and was their best player for years when they came so close to winning it all, but never did.

His career never quite became as great as expected, but that was because debilitating back injuries robbed him of so much of his power and ability as a baseball player. But after more than two years of desperately trying to get healthy, he announced his retirement earlier this season, with the Mets giving him a chance to play one more game, last Saturday night.

It was a chance for Mets fans to salute a hero, a man who was universally beloved off the field as well as on, and when Wright was taken out of the game, what followed was three minutes of pure, raw joy from fans and ultimate gratitude from wright.

The clip above got me thinking of the bond between sports star and fan. It’s illogical, of course, to pin so many hopes and dreams on a stranger you’ve never met, because he happens to play for your favorite team. Getting emotional, upset, crying, with joy and sadness, over what a stranger does is completely illogical, yes.

But life isn’t always logical, and the lifelong attachments some of us form to teams, and athletes like David Wright, I think is more a positive than a negative. Of course Wright never directly paid a bill, fixed a leaky faucet, or took any of those Mets fans so lustily cheering him on a vacation on his own dime.

But he brought them joy, and that’s why they were thanking him. I don’t know, people who aren’t sports fans, maybe they’ll just never quite understand the standing ovation Wright got.

But I thought it was beautiful.

**Next up, one of the writers I follow on Twitter, the great hockey scribe Rick Carpiniello, Tweeted this out the other day and it made my jaw drop. It’s an advertisement for Camel cigarettes from the early 1950s, and it’s kind of amazing.

“More Doctors Smoke Camels than Any Other Cigarette!” the headline blares. And then it goes on to talk about the many, many benefits of smoking Camels.

OK, I’m convinced. Going to get me a pack.

**Finally today, another dispatch from the land of TV. I haven’t sampled too many of the new shows so far this season, but a couple quick thoughts on what I’ve seen: The new “Murphy Brown,” is, as I expected, bad, and it breaks my heart that this show is using the same name and much of the same cast as the brilliant, sparklingly witty and oh-so-well acted show of the 1980s and 1990s that I loved so much. Just couldn’t leave well enough alone, huh, Candice Bergen, Diane English and Co.?

Also have checked out “A Million Little Things,” pilot, which was pretty good (love that hockey is such a big character) despite none of the characters who live in Boston having Boston accents, and them throwing 11 curveballs into the story in the last 10 minutes.

But my favorite thing so far in the new fall season is a returning show, the great David Simon HBO show “The Deuce.” Back for Season 2, this fabulous story about hookers, johns, the adult film industry and New York City in the 1970s jumped ahead five years this year and the show has gotten even better.

Maggie Gyllenhaal has gone from being a hooker to a porn actress to now a director, and she plays the character Candy just perfectly, with a mix of bravado and confidence and vulnerability. James Franco, who I normally loathe, is terrific as twin brothers Frankie and Vincent, one a reasonably successful bar owner controlled by the mob, and the other a screwup (somewhat lovable) in every sense of the word.

“The Deuce” has a lot of hard moments, because it shows the male pimps on the show treating women horribly. But it’s smart, well-acted, and very entertaining to watch.  Definitely recommend.

An ass’t principal in Tennessee says “girls ruin everything.” Shockingly, he was fired.” The “SNL” season premiere open was spectacular. And NFL Week 4.

We live in strange, scary, but never boring times. Thank goodness there are people around to still make us laugh.

While we ponder what more evidence a new FBI investigation will turn up against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh (as if there isn’t enough already, what with him lying to Congress and all), “Saturday Night Live” debuted its new season just in time Saturday night.

Matt Damon as Kavanaugh, the incomparable Kate MacKinnon as Lindsay Graham, let the hilarity ensue… God this was so damn funny. (Also, this was so funny I nearly cried, if you love “Pulp Fiction” you’ll love this.)

Gotta laugh to keep from crying, right?

**Next up today, been a while since I’ve written about a school administrator who is just too dumb for words, but let me introduce you to an assistant principal in Tennessee who is on adminstrative leave today because, well, he’s just really stupid.

Meet Jared Hensley, the athletics director and ass’t principal at Soddy-Daisy High School in Knoxville. In making a video address to the student body announcing a ban on athletic shorts, he admitted that boys will be unhappy about it, but “if you really want someone to blame, blame the girls, because they pretty much ruin everything.

“Ask Adam, look at Eve – you can really go back to the beginning of time.”

In the video, which was posted to YouTube and then taken down, Hensley continues on from the biblical metaphor: “It’ll be like that the rest of your life, keep your mouth shut, suck it up and follow the rules.”

Hensley has been placed on administrative leave. His ass should be fired. What an asinine, idiotic thing to tell the young impressionable minds of your school.

**Finally today, as usually happens this time of year, it was an insanely busy weekend in sports. Two baseball division races need a 163rd game today to decide who goes where in the playoffs (I find myself rooting for the Brewers because they never win anything), we had an amazing, beautiful sendoff here in New York for Mets star David Wright (more on that in Wednesday’s blog), and we had the best NFL Sunday of the season, by far, yesterday.

It’s funny; five years ago, with so many great games going down to the wire, I’d have spent 6-7 hours in a sports bar soaking it all up and loving it. Now? I spent the day with two little boys who live in my house and don’t pay rent, and only watched 2/3 of the Jets game (which stunk). And while I have a tiny pang of regret for not getting to see it all, it’s nothing compared to the fun I have with my boys.

But man, there were some GREAT games Sunday. Some quick-hit thoughts on a day with so many fantastic finishes…

— OK, gotta start with the Browns, the kings of excruciating losses. Coming off their first win in a decade or so, the Baker Mayfields go out to Oakland, take a 14-point second-half lead, choke that up, give up a game-tying TD in the last seconds of regulation to tie the game at 42, then lose in overtime. Ah, Cleveland, hope that free beer made you feel good for a few days. As die-hard Browns backer Joe Posnanski aptly summed it up Sunday night: “They’re more fun. But they’re still the Browns.”

— More great finishes: The Cowboys rallied to win on a last-second field goal to beat the Lions, 27-26. The Cincinnati Bengals suddenly look amazing, coming from behind to beat Matt Ryan and the Falcons, 37-36 with a touchdown in the final seconds. And the Houston Texans and all-world great human being DeShaun Watson, finally getting their first win of the year, 37-34 over the Indianapolis Colts, needing overtime to do it.

— The Tennessee Titans might be pretty damn good. Do you realize they’ve just beaten the Jaguars and the Super Bowl champion Eagles in back-to-back weeks? Sunday they had to go to overtime, convert THREE fourth-down attempts to keep their chances alive, then won the game on a sweet TD pass from Marcus Mariota to Corey Davis (above). Wow. Titans and Bengals, both 3-1, and that’s one more reason to never, ever make sports predictions and wager on them.

— Oh yeah, my Jets. They stink. Like usual. Rookie QB having major growing pains, but that’s expected. The defense being horrible, and the coaching being horrendous, that was less expected. I was actually supportive of bringing Todd Bowles back as head coach, but wow has he been overmatched this year. Probably time for a change.

Have to say, though, as bad as the Jets game was, this TD celebration by Donte Moncrief was pretty stellar. Play that guitar, young man!

— Spare a thought for the Falcons’ quarterback, Matt Ryan. Dude puts up huge numbers every week, yet his team’s defense is so bad that even though Atlanta scored 73 points over the last two weeks, it’s lost both games!
Somewhere in America, Matt Ryan, Dan Marino is waiting for your call.

— Finally, I had to sit through the Jets game listening to ex-coach and analyst Jeff Fisher doing the color commentary, and wow was he horrible. I know it’s easy to rip announcers, but he might be the worst I’ve ever heard. His voice is more sleep-inducing than four doses of NyQuil, he says nothing of any significance, and shows all the enthusiasm of a mortician. How in the world did he ever get hired?