Fallon on Charlottesville is his best moment as “Tonight Show” host. The tennis player who serves both lefty and righty. And remembering the great Jim Murray, as always, on Aug. 16

There was, as always, so much going on in the news on Tuesday. I don’t want to spend 1,000 words venting about our President’s remarkable ability to continually compound his own mistakes and make them worse. So I won’t. Instead, a few words about Jimmy Fallon, who took a lot of criticism for having Donald Trump on his show last year and basically “normalizing” him, giving him the softest of softball questions and goofing around with Trump like he was some reality TV star (oh wait, he was.)

I think Fallon deserved a little bit of the scorn but he got piled on quite a bit. He’s always struck me as an earnest, decent guy who does want to please everybody. Monday night he took to the airwaves at the start of “The Tonight Show” and gave this heartfelt opening. Very well done.

**Next up today, it’s mid-August which means you’re probably going to be reading way more tennis posts on here than usual because, well, the U.S. Open starts in a week and I’m going to be covering it every day and it consumes my life for three weeks.

Anyway, in a tennis mood today once I saw this, which I’ve never seen before. A Korean player named Kim Cheong-eui is on the minor-league Challenger circuit, and he does something I’ve never seen a pro do. He serves righthanded serves in the deuce court, and then left-handed serves into the ad court. He also hits forehands with both hands, on both sides.

This is incredible that he’s able to do this, and do it well. Check it out…

**And finally today, August 16 always makes me thing of a few things: One, it’s my Dad’s birthday (Happy birthday, Pops!) Two, my birthday is tomorrow (turning 42 and not too thrilled about it, but being associated with Jackie Robinson and Mariano Rivera for a year, I guess isn’t too bad) and three, I think of Jim Murray.

Every year on this blog on or around Aug. 16 I write about Murray, the greatest sportswriter who ever lived, who sadly left this Earth way too soon, in 1998. I love running excerpts of his columns because they remind me of how brilliant he was, how beautiful his writing was, and how much of a heart this man had.

As always, here’s some Jim Murray, to give you some beauty on a Wednesday…

Here are my two favorite columns of his: First, a touching tribute to his first wife Gerry who had just died. Here’s an excerpt:

She never grew old and now, she never will. She wouldn’t have anyway. She had four children, this rogue husband, a loving family and this great wisdom and great heart, but I always saw her as this little girl running across a field with a swimming suit on her arm, on a summer day on the way to the gravel pit for an afternoon of swimming and laughing. Life just bubbled out of Gerry. We cry for ourselves. Wherever she is today, they can’t believe their good luck.

And second, Murray’s elegy for his left eye, which finally gave out on him in 1979, rendering him mostly blind. The last four paragraphs are just perfect, but here’s another excerpt:

I lost an old friend the other day. He was blue-eyed, impish, he cried a lot with me, saw a great many things with me. I don’t know why he left me. Boredom, perhaps.

We read a lot of books together, we did a lot of crossword puzzles together, we saw films together. He had a pretty exciting life. He saw Babe Ruth hit a home run when we were both 12 years old. He saw Willie Mays steal second base, he saw Maury Wills steal his 104th base. He saw Rocky Marciano get up. I thought he led a pretty good life.

 One night a long time ago he saw this pretty girl who laughed a lot, played the piano and he couldn’t look away from her. Later he looked on as I married this pretty lady.

He saw her through 34 years. He loved to see her laugh, he loved to see her happy …  He recorded the happy moments, the miracle of children, the beauty of a Pacific sunset, snow-capped mountains, faces on Christmas morning. He allowed me to hit fly balls to young sons in uniforms two sizes too large, to see a pretty daughter march in halftime parades. He allowed me to see most of the major sports events of our time. I suppose I should be grateful that he didn’t drift away when I was 12 or 15 or 29 but stuck around over 50 years until we had a vault of memories. 

God, I miss that guy.

The hatred flowing in Charlottesville started at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. National Lefthanders Day is a thing? Hey, I’m a lefty. And a Little League coach who’s disgraced, rightfully

So many thoughts on this weekend’s atrocious activity in Charlottesville, Va., and I’m warning you up front I’m not sure how coherent this is all going to be. But here goes…

— This is 2017, and white nationalist/racist young men, who claim to be so oppressed and put upon, staged a rally in the open, with no masks or hoods covering their faces, and felt perfectly comfortable doing so.

They chanted offensive slogans about Jews, African-Americans, Hispanics, and anybody else they didn’t like. In 2017, they felt no shame, no embarrassment, no reason not to feel emboldened.

And that’s because of the white man in the White House, a sexist, disgusting, prejudiced pig of a human being, and the white men who work for him.

From the fingers of the great Charlie Pierce in Esquire: “Anyone who followed the presidential campaign saw this coming. Frankly, I’m surprised there wasn’t more of it. Every Trump rally came with an implied promise of some kind of violence. Sometimes, the promise was fulfilled. Sometimes it wasn’t. But it was the dark energy behind that whole campaign. For all the relentless chin-stroking about the economically anxious and forgotten white working class, and for all the prayerful coverage of Donald Trump’s “populist” appeal, there was no question what was driving events on the Republican side.”

This is exactly what Trump was talking about the last two years. These are his people.

— And of course he didn’t repudiate them on Saturday, when news of this “rally” and the violence that ensued broke. These are his voters! It’s so much easier to “tsk tsk” at this gathering of hatred, and to blame “both sides.” Sorry Donnie, when you’ve got neo-Nazis involved, there is no “other side” to see. But our President refused to condemn or vilify these privileged white men who couldn’t bear to see a Confederate statue taken down in Virginia.

Quite a week for our President: As @GadyEpstein put it on Twitter: “Not many Presidents could make threatening nuclear war only the second-worst thing he did in a week.”

— This seems relevant today, a 1947 anti-fascist video put out by the U.S. military. Sound familiar:

— Funny how Trump was able to summon outrage at CNN, Nordstrom’s and so many others, condemning them, but when it comes to neo-Nazis, it’s “Ah, everyone’s to blame.”

— Keep Heather Heyer in your thoughts; she’s the 32-year-old woman mowed down and killed by a moving car driven by one of these Nazi sympathizers. I watched the video of it happening; absolutely disgusting.

— Thanks for coming, Fox News! So predictable.

— Finally, this whole weekend, I kept flashing back to this thought, articulated by writer Tommy Tomlinson: African-American kids were getting killed in the streets, and so Black Lives Matter was formed, and their protests were met with violence from law enforcement.
A Confederate statue was being taken down, and so a bunch of middle-class, privileged white dudes (these alt-right folks in Charlottesville were NOT southern hicks, that is clear) decided they couldn’t take it anymore.

We live in two different countries here in America. We really do.

**Next up today, mid-August always brings the Little League World Series into our lives, and for the past several years it’s frightening to see how much coverage ESPN gives all the regional tournaments and lead-ups. I’m sorry, but 11 and 12-year-old kids do NOT need to be on TV this much.

But with all this coverage of the LLWS playoffs we do get to see some examples, once again, of how grownups ruin kids sports.

May I introduce you to a man who should never, ever coach again, a man from Goffstown, N.H. named Jeff O’Connell.

Here’s what happened: There were two outs in the bottom of the sixth, and Goffstown was batting while trailing a team from South Portland, Me., 7-5. As Little League games are only six innings, and as there were two outs, the end of the game was pretty imminent.

One of the great rules of Little League is that every kid on a team must play, at least for one out. Well, a Goffstown player named Cole Bergeron had yet to play, and the umpires were aware of it and told O’Connell that if Bergeron wasn’t sent up to bat, the coach would be suspended for two games.

O’Connell still kept Bergeron on the bench, violating the rules. Goffstown lost, so O’Connell won’t get suspended until next year. Let’s hope he’s put on permanent suspension.

Let the kid play, for God’s sakes. It’s Little League!

**And finally today, a lighter story that made me smile: August 13 is apparently National Lefthander’s Day, in honor of all of us who, thanks to society’s righty bias, had to deal with impossible to use scissors, desks and notebooks as a child. (You know how many paper cuts I got from those metal 3-ring binders as a kid??? A lot, let me tell you.)

Yep, I’m a lefty, not just in politics but in dexterity, and ya know, life isn’t easy for us. We always end up with ink on our pinkies, we’re constantly having to do things backwards from the way they’re explained (because almost all demonstrations of stuff are done by righties), and we are almost always having to adjust to righty-dominated things like road signs.

I’ve always been proud to be a lefty; it’s always helped me in tennis because opponents aren’t used to seeing serves and forehands come off a racquet with a lefty spin. If I had any baseball ability at all, being a lefty would’ve helped tremendously.

As it is, I’m proud that so many famous, accomplished people throughout history have been lefties, people like Aristotle, Marie Curie, Albert Einstein and Barack Obama.

Given how much we lefties have accomplished, would it kill you scissors-makers to help us out when we’re young? Do me and the five other lefties in class always have to fight over the one lefty pair of scissors?

Thanks.

Good News Friday: Tim Tebow and an autistic boy share a “movie moment.” Yipee, airline passengers are getting bumped less often. And a Chicago Bears player’s beautiful bond with a cancer-stricken boy

And a Happy Friday to you all! I’m happy for all kinds of reasons today, among them: my wife’s 28-week sonogram Thursday showed a perfectly healthy fetus (the only body part I could confidently identify was the penis, so that was fun), my wife’s birthday was Thursday and so for the next six days, we’re the same age (then next Thursday I leap ahead of her, dammit), and, you know, the world didn’t blow up on Thursday thanks to two crazy madmen insulting each other.

So, you know, that was good.

We lead off Good News Friday this week with a story straight out of Damon Runyon (look him up, kids), or a Hollywood screenplay. It really does seem like these things always happen to Tim Tebow, but this one is absolutely true.

Tebow is playing for the Mets minor-league team in St. Lucie, Fla. these days, and the other night an autistic boy who’s a big fan of his decided, while Tebow was in the on-deck circle, to come down to the front row and try to give the former NFL QB a high-five.

Tebow saw the boy, Seth Bosch, and walked over and gave him a high-five. Seth was overwhelmed and return to his seat and his mom, Ileana, crying.

As she tried to console him, Tebow came to bat. And drilled a three-run home run. Leading Seth to jump up and down wildly.

Such a beautiful moment. Watch it here…

 

 

**Next up, it’s exceedingly rare we can praise airlines for anything, but thanks to some horrible incidents in the recent past, they are in for a bit of praise today. Happy news to report is that ever since the video of United Airlines flight attendants dragging 69-year-old David Dao off an airplane after an overbooking disaster, airlines are bumping fewer and fewer passengers.

According to this story, the Transportation Department said Tuesday that just 1 in every 19,000 passengers was kicked off an overbooked flight in the first six months of this year.

That’s the lowest rate since the government started keeping track in 1995.

The biggest decline took place between April and June, partly because airlines began paying many more passengers to give up their seats.

Hey, should ANY passengers ever be bumped because of an overbooked flight? No. Because airlines should NOT overbook flights. You have 200 seats on the plane? Sell 200 tickets, not 220 tickets.

I don’t understand why this concept doesn’t seem to work with airlines. But hey, the fact that so many horrible overbooking incidents were captured on video in the past year has made airlines stop bumping passengers is a silver lining.

Let’s hope it keeps up.

**And finally, a beautiful story by Dan Wiederer in the Chicago Tribune about an NFL player and a little boy who is surviving cancer.

NFL tight end Zach Miller befriended Ryan Creemens, a 9-year-old cancer survivor, after they first met when Miller handed Creemens his gloves after a game two years ago.

As Ryan underwent surgery after surgery and painful chemo, his buddy Zach was there, with FaceTime and phone calls, and words of encouragement.

But Miller went way, way beyond that. This is a really beautiful story; read it and appreciate how one person can make such a difference in the life of another.

 

North Korea’s a huge concern, but throwing people off the voting rolls? That’s just evil. Another incredible young lady on “America’s Got Talent.” And Australian dolphins are suddenly gay? Sure!

Tuesday was another day in Trump’s America, which meant insanely stupid bluster and threats on Twitter, another country with a madman as leader (North Korea) threatening to attack the U.S. (and maybe actually being capable of it), and many people on Twitter wondering if the world would end soon.

So, you know, a typical Tuesday.

Of course we are all correct to worry that one of these two hothead heads of state will start a war. But I’m not all that worried; for all his bluster and macho BS talk, it’s not like Trump can just start a nuclear war on his own. There are lots and lots of layers of protection and checks before the U.S. launches nuclear weapons.

What I am worried about, and this is what I’ve worried about all along, is the stuff he and his government departments are doing that doesn’t get all the publicity. The stuff that he doesn’t Tweet about, that’s often where the most insidious, and awful stuff is.

For example, how about this: The Justice Dept., led by Trump frenemy (does he like Sessions today or not? I can’t tell) Jeff Sessions, has recently strongly backed the state of Ohio in a court case that would throw eligible voters off the rolls just because they hadn’t voted in the last few elections.

Let me say that again: The state of Ohio, and the U.S. Justice Dept., thinks it should be perfectly legal to eliminate and invalidate valid voters’ registration because they missed voting in a few elections.

I’m sorry. BUT ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME????

The genesis of this issue stems from Ohio passing a law that allowed the state to drop voters from the rolls if they hadn’t voted in the past three elections. The courts struck down this law, saying it violated the National Voter Registration Act, and the case is now before the Supreme Court. The Justice Dept. filed a brief supporting the state’s position.

And oh yeah, Ohio is a hugely important state in Presidential elections, and according to this story Ohio has purged 2 million voters from 2011 to 2016more than any other state, including 1.2 million for infrequent voting. (Let me stop right there. More than ONE MILLION voters have illegally been removed from the rolls because they didn’t vote enough. Not because they moved, or were felons, or anything like that.)

At least 144,000 voters in Ohio’s three largest counties, home to Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati, were purged since the 2012 election, with voters in Democratic-leaning neighborhoods twice as likely to be removed as those in Republican-leaning ones, according to a Reuters analysis.

Absolutely despicable. Disgusting. But not surprising. For many years the data has shown that when fewer people vote in elections, Republican candidates win. So voter suppression, extreme gerrymandering and laws like this help keep voter turnout as low as possible.

The Supreme Court now has this case. That’s the court Merrick Garland should be on, but Neil Gorsuch is instead.

Worry about North Korea, sure. But the trampling of American’s voting rights should concern you equally.

**And now, a much-needed palatte cleanser. Once again I am blown away by a young person I’d never heard of, after their performance on “America’s Got Talent.”

Darci Lynne is a 12-year-old girl from Oklahoma. Shy and having trouble making friends, Darci’s mother got her a doll for her birthday two years ago. Darci decided to learn to become a ventriloquist, and this amazing performance is the result. (Thanks to loyal reader Sanford for sending me this clip.)

My jaw was on the floor the whole time. What a talented, sweet kid. (The performance starts at the 2:15.)

**And finally, this story, heard by me on NPR’s always-hilarious “Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me” was just too good and weird to pass up.

From the UK’s Daily Mail newspaper:  Scientists in Western Australia have observed large groups of dolphins engaging in what they described as ‘homosexual behaviour’ after the mating season finishes.

The team at the Mandurah Dolphin Research Project noticed that after mating season was over, the male Bottlenose dolphins were ‘mounting’ and ‘having genital contact’ with each other.

‘These dolphins, all but three of them juveniles, organised themselves in four subgroups in which they were observed engaging in socio-sexual behavior that included mounting and genital contact between individuals,’ Murdoch University’s Krista Nicholson told the Mandurah Mail.

All righty then! So many jokes I want to make here, but I think you’d probably like to make your own.

Oh, and if you think this whole story is here in the blog just so I’d have an excuse to run a clip of my favorite “Glee” line ever, well,  you wouldn’t be wrong. Take us out, Brittany!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The great Usain Bolt retires, but man what a show he put on. A beautiful new commercial from Proctor & Gamble. And a quick-thinking teacher on a plane foils child molesters

Even when you’ve watched as many sporting events as I have in 41 years of life, there are some things you absolutely will never, ever forget.

The first time I saw Bo Jackson hit a baseball (it went really really far). The first time I saw Roger Federer strike a tennis ball.

And without a doubt, the first time I ever saw Usain Bolt run. Usain Bolt may be the most incredible athlete I’ve ever seen, and I know that’s saying a lot.

At 6-foot-5, with impossibly long legs and the easiest stride in his sport,  Bolt was an absolute superstar the moment he stepped onto the world stage.

I distinctly remember watching the 2008 100-meter finals, hearing that this incredible physical specimen from Jamaica with a perfect last name for a sprinter was taking the sport forward.

Track and field in 2008, remember, was coming off some horrible doping scandals, as former “heroes” like Tyson Gay, Marion Jones and Justin Gatlin had all been exposed as cheaters.

And here was this clean, joyful man running faster than anybody has ever run. Watch this 100 meter final again, it’s still astonishing how much faster than everyone else Bolt was…

He went to win gold in the 200 meters and the 4×100 relay, and then did the same in 2012 in London, and last year in Brazil. He carried a sport to new heights and was as beloved worldwide as any track athlete ever has been.

But the show has finally ended. Saturday in what he says is his last competition, Bolt finished third in an incredible photo finish (that amazing picture above was taken by the Associated Press’ Matthias Schrader), not exactly going out in a blaze of glory.

But Saturday’s loss is hardly relevant. Bolt will go down in history as the greatest sprinter ever, and more importantly, he’s never failed a drug test.

I will miss watching him run. Because man oh man, could he run . Tim Layden of SI has a fabulous tribute to Bolt here.

**Next up, a beautiful and powerful new commercial from Proctor & Gamble, as part of their “Let’s Talk” series discussing racism in America.

In this ad, generations of African-American parents from decades gone by up to the present, discuss with their children how they should deal with the “N” word and other bias they will feel.

This ad, predictably, has caused controversy from neanderthals who claim P & G are “attacking whites” and other nonsense. God forbid we acknowledge that racism is alive and well in 2017, and that African-American parents like the mom at the 1:05 mark have every right and responsibility to worry about their child coming home safely.

It’s a fantastic commercial. I hope it airs on the Super Bowl and everywhere else people are watching.

**Finally today, a rare instance of something positive and even heroic coming out of an airplane flight delay. A preschool teacher on a recent flight from Seattle to San Jose buckled her seat belt and noticed that the man sitting in front of her had some strange, unsettling words on his iPhone. (The man had an oversized iPhone and was using large print text to type, making the phone easier to read.)

At first, the passenger saw the man texting explicit and illicit sexual messages to the individual he was texting with. But then she saw the man, identified as 56-year-old Michael Kellar, discussing children, a 7-year-old and 5-year-old, in sexually explicit language.

As the flight took off the texting continued, and the unidentified woman took photos of the man’s screen, and alerted the flight crew to notify authorities on the ground.

They contacted San Jose police and its airport division stationed at Mineta San Jose International Airport, the destination for the flight, and Kellar and the woman he was texting were both arrested.

The Seattle detectives, and FBI agents from that area, used the smartphone evidence to pinpoint a home in Tacoma where the woman exchanging texts with Kellar lived. That’s when they confirmed that the case was more than outlandish texts, and that two children ages 5 and 7 who lived at the home were being sexually abused.

“It’s kind of mind-blowing,” said San Jose sex-crimes Detective Nick Jourdenais. “She gets on a plane, a normal citizen minding her business. A couple of hours later, she’s intervening on quite possibly the most traumatic thing children can go through. This was life-altering for them.”

What a wonderful and heroic series of actions from this airplane passenger. I can’t imagine what those poor children went through before, but hopefully they’ll never have to deal with it again.

What a crazy story.

 

Good News Friday: A man proposes to his girlfriend and her daughter in a “package deal.” Steve Bartman gets a World Series ring from the Cubs, and it’s great. And a family surprises a caregiver with an amazing gift.

And a Happy Friday to all of you sweltering in the heat like us here in New York. It’s August, which for some people is a sad month, what with heat and school starting again soon, but it’s absolutely one of the best months of the year in Casa Lewis. Both my birthday and my wife’s born-on date are in August (Leos in the house!), and the U.S. Open starts in four weeks! Anyway, I love me some August.

Lots of Good News Friday items to pick from this week. We start with the story of a boyfriend who just “gets it.”

From the wonderfully-named town of Santa Claus, Ind. (if you’re overweight and have a beard and are generally jolly as a town resident, do you get, like, free oil changes and discounts and stuff?), the story of Will Seaton’s proposal to his girlfriend Ashley Schaus.

From this story on KDVR.com, Will and Ashley started dating in 2010, and soon into their relationship Ashley told Will about her sister Hannah, who has Down Syndrome and diabetes.

“I look after her and protect her,” Ashley Schaus told WAGA. “To be with me, you must accept her and love her as well.”

Will readily agreed to that package deal, and in March he decided he was finally ready to propose to Ashley. So he proposed to Hannah as well.

“He takes me fishing and makes funny jokes. He makes me laugh and takes care of me,” Hannah Schaus told ABC News.

The couple is getting married in October. What a beautiful story.

Next up today, a story you may have heard about earlier this week, but one I really wanted to write about: Steve Bartman is getting a World Series ring from the Chicago Cubs.

If the name rings a bell, Steve Bartman is a huge Cubs fan who, in Game 6 of the 2003 N.L. Championship Series, had a moment of infamy that’s lasted 14 years. With the Cubs five outs from winning, Bartman, seated down the third-base line, reached up for a high foul ball and deflected it away from Cubs outfielder Moises Alou, allowing the Florida Marlins player to hit it to stay at bat.
Everybody was mad at Bartman for doing what anyone would’ve done, but he’d have been forgotten if the Cubs had gone on to win the game. But they didn’t, they lost Game 6, and Game 7, and for the next few weeks the media and Cubs fans made Bartman’s life a living hell.

The poor guy deserved none of the abuse he got, but until last year when Chicago finally won, he was hated by many neanderthal fans (true Cubs fans knew he was nowhere near the reason they lost in ’03)

(Here’s something I never thought of until watching this clip (above) last night: We all know Bartman’s life was a living hell for weeks, months, years after this incident. What about the guy a few inches to his right with the gray sweatshirt on, who was ALSO reaching for the ball and trying to interfere with Alou? Does that guy realize how close he was to becoming such an infamous figure? What if he had reached out a little more and gotten his hands on the ball, then Bartman lives the rest of his life in anonymity while gray sweatshirt guy is hounded forever? Ah, fate.)

Anyway, this week the Cubs did a wonderful thing and sent Bartman a World Series ring. He was extremely grateful, saying, “I humbly receive the ring not only as a symbol of one of the most historic achievements in sports but as an important reminder for how we should treat each other in today’s society.”

Good for Bartman, and good for the Cubs.

**Finally today, we all know how expensive school is, so this was such a great gesture.

RonTunde Hector is a highly-dedicated caregiver who cared deeply for a woman named Judy Wright who suffered from Parkinson’s Disease. Wright’s family grew to appreciate and deeply care about Rontunde as she cared for Judy, until Judy finally passed away in July.

To show their appreciation for Rontunde Hector, the family decided to repay her kindness. IN lieu of flowers, they asked mourners to donate to a fund to help pay her nursing school tuition. In less than a week, they raised over $8,000. When the story went viral, the total went up to $30,000.

“I cried all night,” RonTunde said. “I didn’t stop crying till 1:30 that morning.”

Good wins over evil so much more often than not.

A new parenting book I heartily endorse says “Ignore It!” A very powerful PSA about refugee children in war, starring Batman. And “bro-sectomies” parties show men are insane

Parenting children is about as easy as catching a gazelle running in the forest, and sometimes I even think catching that gazelle would be easier.

Everybody wants answers, a “magic solution” to why their son or daughter behaves badly, or strangely. But of course there’s no magic solution, only common-sense, proven methods that experts in the field offer. There are hundreds of books that tell you how to parent your child, and I haven’t read any of them.

What I have done is read “Ignore It!” a wonderful new book by Dr. Catherine Pearlman that’ll be published in a few days.

Let me get this out of the way straight out: Catherine and her husband Jeff are very good friends of mine; they are a wonderful couple and truly have the strongest marriage of anyone I know. I’ve known Catherine for 17 years, ever since Jeff introduced me to his new girlfriend at dinner one night and I slightly impressed Catherine by telling her that “Measure of a Man” is my favorite Elton John song (she’s an Elton John fanatic).

Catherine is one of the most unselfish, giving and kind-hearted people I’ve ever met, and the fact that she has stayed married to Jeff all these years means she certainly qualifies for sainthood (Trust me, he would agree.)

Also in the spirit of full disclosure, I had a small part in helping shape this book, reading early drafts of chapters and offering suggestions.

But mostly, I offered praise and huzzahs, because this is a terrific, easy-to-read guide.

Ignore It!” is not just the title, it’s Catherine’s strategy for confronting so many problems. Of course she’s not advocating that you disregard your children; she’s raising two beautiful kids herself and they’re turning out great.

Catherine has developed tried and true methods in dealing with children in her career, as a social worker, an advocate for kids, a teacher, and as the brains behind “The Family Coach,” a private business she started to help families in need of some assistance with discipline. (She also writes the “Dear Family Coach” nationally syndicated column.)

What she’s advocating, using proven strategies and helpful hints, is that so much of getting your kids to behave better is ignoring bad behavior that they’re just doing to get attention.

The book teaches parents when to “Ignore It!” and when you really shouldn’t, uses real-life examples of reward systems that work (and of course different systems work for different kids), and is so encouraging and optimistic that even people who think they’re the worst parents since Joan Crawford or Alec Baldwin will believe they can be great.

Catherine’s writing is funny, realistic and sharp, and she acknowledges that of course this advice doesn’t apply to everyone (my kid is not even 3 yet, she’s told me I’m not allow to ignore him. Dammit.)

The parts of the book I enjoyed most deal with consequences of your child’s behavior, and how sometimes you really truly have to let them fail, and not be a “helicopter dad” and swoop in and save the day.

This is a funny, easy-to-read guide that I really think parents at any stage of child-rearing can use and refer back to. I know I certainly will.

I don’t like telling people how to spend their money, but “Ignore It!” will absolutely be a good investment for you. It’s sharp, good-natured and written by a woman who knows what she’s talking about.

At least when it comes to parenting. When it comes to picking husbands… oy.

**Next up today, children in war is always a painful subject to talk about, and right now, with millions of refugees fleeing Syria and other war zones, it is extremely difficult to fathom just how awful the circumstances are for kids often too young to understand what’s going on.

But out of that darkness, there can be a little light. Check out this powerful PSA from a group called WarChildHolland.org. It stars Batman, and a little boy, and it moved me very powerfully.

**And finally, more proof that men are getting stupider (because I was afraid we were running out of proof.)

Getting a vasectomy is no fun, but it’s not exactly the end of the world. Still, apparently the snip-snip procedure no longer needs to be done alone, nope, it doesn’t have to just be you and your urologist anymore.

Apparently there’s now a growing trend in vascular surgery called “bro-sectomies.”

From this Toronto Sun story: “According to the Wall Street Journal, some men are making a day out of the birth control procedure – complete with dinner, drinks, and plenty of recovery time in a lounge-like setting.

Dubbed “brosectomies,” men are paying an upward of a few thousand dollars in an effort to make the procedure more comfortable.

Some urologists offer group vasectomies as a way to ease men into getting snipped while also promoting quick recovery time.

“We thought it was going to be painful,” Jeb Lopez told the Wall Street Journal. “After that, we were just laughing, I guess it’s from the alcohol, but we had such a great time.”

Good Lord. Really guys, this is something you want a make a group experience? They’re not snipping each other, right? And for goodness sakes, are they going to the bar afterwards and comparing scars in the men’s room? Because that’s not something anyone should be walking in on.

Bro-sectomies. Give me a break. Well, hey, maybe it’s a new kind of male bonding experience. A cut above other kinds, perhaps (thank you, I’m here all week.)

A wonderful day spent helping underprivileged kids get much-needed back to school clothes. “Key and Peele” on texting confusion is still hilarious. And the Ohio State fan who, in a coma, still hated Michigan

It has quickly become one of the highlights of my summer, every summer.

There is so much we take for granted in our lives, especially those of us fortunate to never have had to worry about having new clothes for school, or new notebooks, or even toothbrushes. But of course millions of American kids don’t have those things, don’t have the kinds of basic items that can mean so much in terms of self-esteem, educational opportunities, and simply being able to succeed.

For the fifth year in a row on Long Island, Sunday was Back 2 School Store day in Woodmere, the small community where my wonderful in-laws live. This event, sponsored by the National Council of Jewish Women (an organization my late, beloved grandmother volunteered for), has a simple purpose:To provide free clothes, school supplies, books and other merchandise to underprivileged children in the Nassau County, N.Y. area.

Thanks to grants and donations, more than 500 kids each year (mostly aged 5-13) get to go on a shopping spree (this year held inside a middle school gymnasium) where they pick out new pants, shirts, sneakers, winter coats, backpacks full of school supplies, and so many other goodies that they otherwise might never see.

I volunteer for this wonderful event every year, and Sunday brought so many smiles. This year I got to do a variety of jobs, including shoe fitter (I channeled my inner Al Bundy on that one), pajamas assistant (I learned pretty quickly to size up what size each child needed, and I also gained a new appreciation for retail salesmen and women who have to re-arrange all the clothes once the customers leave them all over the place) and most excitingly to me, personal shopper.

The personal shopper gets matched up with one child and then spends the next 20 minutes walking them around and letting them pick one type of every item. Seeing one of the little girls I helped’s face when she found the perfect pink coat, and then pants to match, was so rewarding.

The best story I heard Sunday came not from me, but from a friend of my mother-in-law. The woman was told by this pre-teen boy’s parents at the start that shopping for him “will take hours,” because he suffers from ADD, has trouble making decisions, is never happy with anything, etc.

Twenty minutes later, the personal shopper emerged from the gym with this boy smiling ear to ear. He had loved making decisions on everything he wanted, was incredibly appreciative, saying “thank you” every time he put an item into his bag, and had the time of his life.

His beaming parents told the personal shopper, “He came out of that room a different kid from the one who walked in.”

That’s the kind of small difference just one program, on one day of the year, can make.

The NCJW holds Back 2 School Store events in many cities across the country; for more info, check out www.ncjw.org

**Next up today, I’m sure most of you have had this experience: You’re texting with someone you know, they write something you think means one thing, but thanks to their being no way to tell “tone” with texting, you take it to mean something completely different. I had that experience with a friend last week, and then coincidentally saw this clip in an online column I read. It’s from the often-hilarious “Key and Peele” show, and it’s fantastic. Enjoy…

**Finally today, this from the intersection of medical miracles and sports passion. A huge Ohio State fan, from Dublin, Ohio named Zach Lawrence was in a serious car accident in April, and was in a coma for quite some time. His doctors at the  Dodd Hall Rehabilitation Center at Ohio State University gave him a series of tests to try to gauge his responsiveness and alertness, even while in the coma.

He was unresponsive to many questions where he was asked to push one button for yes, and another for no.

Finally, “Do you like Michigan?” was asked.

Lawrence immediately pushed the “no” button. And then — just to make sure everyone had heard him the first time — he pushed it again.

Man, that’s some rivalry. Even in a coma the dude manages to convey hatred for all things maize and blue. Best news of all, is that he’s recovering slowly but surely.

If UM football coach Jim Harbaugh reads about Lawrence, I’m thinking he should send a whole treasure trove of Wolverines gear to the rehab center. Can you imagine how many times he’d press the “no” button then?

 

My latest “Daddy Chronicles,” starring an almost-3 year old who’s soon to get a baby brother!

And a Happy Friday to you all out there in Internet-land! It’s been a few months since I’ve written a “Daddy Chronicles,” and with my little guy changing so much over the past several weeks, I thought it was time.

First of all and by far the most important announcement: Nate is getting a sibling! Yep, my wife and I decided there just weren’t enough people in the world, so we made another one. And this time, we decided to find out the gender, and once again we have created a boy.

With a due date of October 30, little Federer Jeter Mattingly Messier Lewis (what, you don’t think my wife will go for that name?) will make our beautiful family of three into a table for four.

Obviously this will mean big changes for us, although if the little guy is born on Halloween, we have one fewer costume to shop for this year (Nate 2.0 will certainly be dressed as a newborn for Halloween, all he needs is a blue blanket and the ability to cry.)

In all seriousness, I’m overcome with joy. So far my beautiful wife is 26 weeks pregnant, and all indications so far are that the baby and mommy are healthy and coming along great.

A few thoughts that hit me upon learning the news that  I now have TWO chances for a male Wimbledon champion:
— My poor wife will have to live with three boys now. There’s going to be a lot of toilet seats left up in her future.
— I’ll be 42 years old when the baby is born, which means I’ll be 60 (Sixty!) when the young fella gets his basketball scholarship to Duke University. Can’t wait to be the old creepy dude who the other freshman on campus thinks is the grandpa of a student.

— We are, of course, super excited to go through the process again, and so far Nate seems thrilled that he’s getting a sibling who’ll live in his room and be a future playmate. When I ask him in front of friends what he’s getting in October, he exclaims with a smile “A baby brother!”

Of course, right now it’s easy for him to accept a new family member; come November, when he yells for Mommy or Daddy’s attention and we aren’t able to snap to it because we’re busy with his brother, methinks his love and excitement may wane a bit. He is, fortunately, really great with his toddler friends’ little siblings, always being super gentle with them. So, we’ll see.

— One of the major developments in the past two months has been us finally getting Nate a big boy bed. We kept him in the crib as long as we could, but with him turning 3 in September, it was time.

He got to help pick it out, including his Elmo bedspread and pillow, but for the first few weeks he refused to sleep in it most nights, wanting to sleep on the floor instead. Then once he started sleeping in it, he fell out of it like a drunk staggering home from a night on the town. Good thing we barricaded him in with pillows.

Now, he’s gotten used to it. He gets out of bed on his own in the morning, takes the crackers and water and Cheerios I’ve left out for him, and goes and plays in the living room. So we have no idea he’s awake until, around 7 a.m. he yells “Mommy!” because he wants us to turn on the TV, or his diaper is so wet he wants to be changed.

So much better than having him in the crib. (We also turned his car seat around to face forward, and that has revolutionized his travel life. He loves asking questions now like “Are we on the bridge? Are we off the bridge?” and, delightfully, I now have a second navigation system in the car. Moments after the GPS says “in half-mile, make a left turn,” I hear the voice from the back “Make a left turn, Daddy!”)

He’s also fond of yelling out everything we’re passing, just like the hilarious scene in “Forget Paris” where Billy Crystal is driving his father-in-law around.

— His verbal skills and the phrases he picks up from hearing us continue to amaze; he only has one friend who talks as much as he does ((his BFF Keira, an adorable 3.5 year old girl).

A few weeks ago both my wife and I, in separate rooms, yelled to him to do different tasks. His response? “I can only do one thing at a time!”

Yeah, he might have gotten that from me.

— It’s been fascinating and strange watching Nate picking up habits that we have no idea where they came from. A few weeks ago he decided that every time we go into a restaurant or anywhere indoors, we immediately have to remove our hats. He gets really mad if I don’t.

— One of my favorite things about my son at this age is how excited and curious he is about everything. Every night he asks his mother and I “Where am I going when I wake up?” Then in the morning if he doesn’t remember he’ll ask again “Where am I going today?”  He’s just ready to go, whatever it is.

— And finally, the highlight of his life so far may have been our trip to Washington, D.C. No, he wasn’t thrilled and amazed at the monuments or the museums (he’s still only 2.). The highlight by far was riding the D.C. Metro around for three days. He shouted with delight whenever we stopped at one station, the doors opened, and then we went to another station. He loved every single second of it.

Seriously, as a D.C. friend of mine said, nobody has ever been happier than Nate on a D.C. Metro.

Not sure if I should be happy or sad about that 🙂

An art gallery in San Francisco will text you their paintings. I rant about a really stupid chair invention. And yet more devastating proof the NFL is eventually doomed

If you’re like me, and you’ve ever been to an art gallery or museum, sometimes you wonder: Where are all the rest of the paintings?

http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2017/07/18/537737939/tight-on-wall-space-sfmoma-will-text-its-art-to-you-instead

On the walls, you see only a small fraction of what large museums actually have; they rotate their pieces periodically, so thousands of fantastic or interesting paintings sit in storage, collecting dust.

So that’s why I thought this initiative, from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, was so cool. With 32,000 of their 34,000 works in storage at any one time, SFMOMA has begun texting some of their art to anyone who asks.

According to this NPR story, if you text an emoji, or describe your current mood, to SFMOMA, they’ll text you back a picture of artwork that fits your mood.

In the first five days of the program, SFMOMA has sent two million texts of artwork.

From the story: Texters have started contacting the museum to learn more about the art they received on their phones — that “blows my mind,” says  Keir Winesmith, head of SFMOMA’s Web and digital platforms.  He suspects this diversion may be particularly popular right now because it gives people chance to cleanse their mental palate.

“A lot of what I read from the news media is pretty negative, and sometimes a little depressing,” he says. “We’re able to create something that is not that, is a balance. Not quite an antidote, but certainly a balance to what’s happening out there in the news media world.”

I think this is a very cool idea, bringing art to the masses. You can text 572-51 with the phrase “send me” and then a word or emoji. SFMOMA will send back an image.

Very cool.

**OK, next up today, I need to rant about a totally stupid and useless invention. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you “The Chairless Chair.” My thoughts after the video…

OK, first of all, does this “chair” look in any way, shape or form comfortable? Is this supposed to really give me the feeling I get when I sit down?

Secondly, how bulky and awkward is this thing to lug around? It looks like something kids with polio back in the 1920s and ’30s had to wear, not something you’d actually want to have on.

Third, my favorite part of this video is at :31, where it says “It releases in a second if the wearer has to move.”  Great, so every time I want to get up while wearing this chair, I’ve got to unlock it and carry the apparatus with me?

People of the world, no one asked for this, no one needs this, and I am certain it will sell huge.

**Finally today, the NFL’s popularity and reign as America’s No. 1 sport has been unchallenged for at least 15 years. The NFL is so mammoth, and so powerful, that it’d be easy to believe that it will stay this way forever.

But Tuesday brought yet another reminder that football in its current form will not go on forever. From Boston University’s CTE Center:

“A new study suggests that chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a progressive, degenerative brain disease found in people with a history of repeated head trauma, may be more common among football players than previously thought. The study, published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), found CTE in 99 percent of brains obtained from National Football League (NFL) players, as well at 91 percent of college football players and 21 percent of high school football players.”

Ninety-nine percent of the NFL players’ brains examined (110 of 111) and 91 percent of college football players (48 of 53) showed symptoms of degenerative brain disease.

Those statistics are staggering. Already numbers are down across youth football leagues, and parents everywhere are concerned about the long-term effects of football on the brain.

This ship is not turning around. Fewer and fewer kids playing the sport mean fewer great athletes going into football, fewer good college players, and fewer good NFL players. Slowly but surely, the talent will dry up, people will realize permanent head injury isn’t worth it, and the NFL will cease to be dominant.

Oh, it’s going to take a few more decades for the NFL to fully crash and burn. But it will happen.

And as big a football fan as I am, it’ll be a welcome development. Healthy brains over entertainment should not be a tough choice.