A new fall TV post! I’m excited about the potential of “Pitch.” I also kinda sorta like “This is Us.” And a new way for writers to make money (but only after they’re dead)

PITCH: L-R: Dan Lauria, Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Kylie Bunbury in PITCH coming soon to FOX. ©2016 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Ray Mickshaw / FOX

So much I could say about Monday’s wildly entertaining Presidential debate, but it’s Wednesday and I’m sure you’ve heard it all already. Truly jaw-dropping how much Donald Trump lied, and how utterly clueless he was about, well, all issues that were discussed, and just crazy how he thought bragging about not paying taxes would win him votes. Because, you know, America loves a cheater. If you want to hear my thoughts as they were unfolding in real-time, check out my Twitter feed here.

So it’s fall, which means lots of new TV shows, most of which you and I don’t have time to watch, and it seems like every year there’s more and more good stuff on more and more networks and then there’s new streaming content on Amazon and Hulu and Netflix and it’s just all so exhausting to think about.

So the wife and I are trying to be judicious in what new stuff we watch. We kinda, sorta liked the new Pamela Adlon show “Better Things,” and definitely are interested in the new Sarah Jessica Parker HBO show “Divorce” starting next week.

So far I’ve gotten to see two of the new shows I was most excited about, and I’d say 1.5 of them were good. Let me explain.

First, I was surprised at how much I liked “Pitch,” which is on FOX on Thursday nights. The concept is simple: First-ever female pitcher makes it to the major leagues, endures sexism and tough competition, goes through highs and lows, and is managed on the San Diego Padres by Kevin Arnold’s Dad (sorry, his real name is Dan Lauria, but he’ll always be Jack Arnold from ‘The Wonder Years” to me.)

The pilot episode was actually really good. The actress playing the female pitcher, Kylie Bunbury, is strong. Mark-Paul Gosselaar seems very well cast as the cocky All-Star catcher, and believe it or not, most of the baseball scenes seemed realistic (the owner insinuating he’d fire the manager because he wants “the girl” sent back to the minors was ridiculous, and also the dialogue written for real-life FOX announcers Joe Buck and John Smoltz was beyond cringe-worthy. Just horrendous.)

There are a lot of real issues that the writers can mine with “Pitch,” leaving aside there’s no way a woman pitcher with just a screwball could make the majors. I have high hopes this show will continue be good.

**Meanwhile, “This is Us” on NBC is exactly the kind of show I should love. It has so many of the same elements of “Parenthood,” a show I loved despite it pissing me off sometimes. You’ve got generations of families, you’ve got interesting characters, you’ve got heart-tugging stuff like a son reuniting with his (maybe) dying biological father after decades of hating him from afar. The pilot, for the first 45 minutes, despite hammering me over the head with emotion (one reviewer hit it perfectly: “This is Us” is like getting hit over the head with a pillow of tears) was really compelling.

I was into it. I was digging it. The scene with the doctor (Gerald McRaney) talking to the new dad who lost one of the three triplets in childbirth was just gorgeous.

And then … they hit us with the gimmick. (SPOILER ALERT. BUT COME ON, THE SHOW AIRED 8 DAYS AGO, I THINK I’M SAFE HERE, RIGHT?) 

It turns out the beautiful couple having triplets at the hospital throughout the pilot episode are not doing it in 2016. They’re doing it in 1979, and the seemingly separate adults we’ve also been watching are all brother and sister, with one brother being the abandoned African-American baby who yells at his bio dad in this episode, 36 years later.

I was gobsmacked by this, as was my wife. I completely understand why creator Dan Fogelman threw this in; now we get to watch two shows in one develop, as the new parents (Mandy Moore and Milo Ventimiglia) raise three kids, one of whom isn’t theirs genetically, while as adults, the kids battle their own problems.

I’m just not sure “This is Us” can pull this off. I’m not sure the going back and forth between 1979 and 2016 is going to work, and I’m not sure the emotional overload won’t be too exhausting. I really, really want to like this show. I just hope it doesn’t play tricks on the audience all the time just to keep us interested.

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**Finally today, there’s some hope for struggling freelance writers and journalists who are hoping to pay their bills. Don’t worry about leaving money to your family, your ashes are quite valuable once you’re dead!

Check this out: Someone bought the ashes of Truman Capote, the famous writer of “In Cold Blood” and “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” for $43,750 at an auction last week.

According to this story, they were kept in a carved Japanese wooden box, the ashes belonged to the late Joanne Carson, wife of the former Tonight Show host Johnny Carson.

I’m brimming with questions: Why would anyone want a writer’s ashes? Was the anonymous collector who bought them a writer themselves, and planning to sprinkle them on his/her keyboard for inspiration? And most importantly, I’m no Truman Capote, but I did once write cover stories for SLAM and Maxim magazines. Think my ashes could fetch 40 bucks?

 

Finally after months of waiting, a real debate between Clinton and Trump. The awful Jets, the undefeated Eagles, and other Week 3 NFL thoughts

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It’s been a long, long time since professional boxing has mattered in this country.

So maybe this analogy will be lost on younger readers. But tonight’s Hillary Clinton-Donald Trump debate feels like a championship fight.

For a long, long, long time, the two major party candidates for President have sniped at each other from afar, with the vulgar, talking yam making up lie after lie and somehow rising in the polls despite it (Seriously, there was a Tweet I saw last week titled “Here are 18 lies Donald Trump told today at his rally.”)

I know deep in my heart Trump ain’t winning this election; I don’t care if the statisticians in the world keep saying his chances are going up, she’s not pulling away like she was a month ago, yada yada yada.

Still, my liberal heart is a little nervous about tonight. Couple quick points I want to make going into the 9 p.m. Eastern debate which I think will probably break all TV ratings records for debates:

She must call him out on his lies. Every time. I have no faith that NBC’s Lester Holt, a perfectly reputable broadcaster, will have the time nor the inclination to point out every time Trump lies. That’s why Hillary has to do it. I don’t care if she comes off smarmy, or has to interrupt him 35 times. Trump’s enormous whoppers, whether they’re about ISIS, or the economy, or crime in the America, cannot be allowed to stand. We political junkies forget this, but millions of people are just starting to pay attention to this race. Trump’s fibs cannot be allowed to be what they remember from this debate.

Hillary must remind people what she’s done: So much of this election has been about GOP fear-mongering of what she “would do” or “will do” as President. Hillary has a long list of accomplishments dating back to Children’s Health Care, her time as Secretary of State, and as First Lady. She has to remind Americans that for all her faults, she’s done a lot.

— Trump can’t lose his temper: If I were, horrifyingly, advising the scariest major candidate in the last 100 years, I’d tell him containing his temper is the No. 1 goal of tonight. Everyone thinks you’re a temperamental, thin-skinned, hothead who can’t handle any critique and flies off the handle at the slightest provocation. Prove them wrong by staying calm tonight.

Get your popcorn ready, folks. This should be very interesting.

**Finally, some quickie NFL thoughts from Week 3. I didn’t see much of the games because my beautiful wife and I were in Montauk for a wedding Sunday, but watched some highlights and a little bit of the Jets game. I am very, very glad I didn’t watch the Jets debacle. SIX Ryan Fitzpatrick interceptions? OK, they weren’t all his fault but come on, SIX? Jets are in deep doo-doo if they lose to Seattle next week.

— The Giants-Redskins game was a terrific back and forth affair, but what will stick out for me is yet another Odell Beckham Jr. temper tantrum (above). I don’t know if this kid will ever mature, maybe he will. But man oh man does he seem like a total immature punk right now. A powder keg that could go off at any moment.

–The Eagles whipped the Steelers, 34-3, and the Vikings stayed undefeated as well, and we are once again reminded football is such a strange game. Eagles rookie QB Carson Wentz was expected to ride the bench this season, learn the ropes, etc. Then a month ago Minnesota’s QB Teddy Bridgewater gets seriously hurt. Which led to Eagles QB Sam Bradford being traded to Minnesota. Which leads to Wentz getting a chance to play and looking awesome, and the much-criticized Bradford playing great for the Vikings, and now everyone in both cities are thrilled. But if not for one injury, none of this happens.

Fate is crazy.

— I knew few people cared about the Browns-Dolphins game, but I was following along on my phone thanks to Cody Kessler of the Browns getting his first career start at QB. I think I blogged about this last year, but I got to interview Cody when he was at USC for a story I was doing on his wonderful work with the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation, which I volunteer for. He’s a fantastic young man with a big heart, and I was thrilled that he played so well for Cleveland on Sunday (even though the Browns, being the Browns, lost in overtime)

Good News Friday: A kid with Down’s Syndrome scores a touchdown, and his dying mom cries. Zach Galifianakis does a hilarious “Between Two Ferns” interview with Hillary. And a 6-year-old offers to house a Syrian boy in a letter to Obama

And a Happy Friday to all of you out on the Interwebs. As we try to put a happy face on yet another week that had so much sadness (unarmed African-American men getting shot, terror suspects in New York, riots in Charlotte, I mean honestly, how much more can we take?), we begin with a beautiful story of a high school football team giving a boy the thrill of a lifetime.

Robby Heil is a water boy on the Novi High School Wildcats football team, and he has Down’s Syndrome. Last week during a regulation game, Novi decided to let Robby carry the ball and score a touchdown.

That alone would make this a great story. But it gets better: With his mom Debbie watching on the sideline, crying, Robby ran for a TD. Debbie has bone cancer, and it’s terminal. To watch her face explode with joy as her son scores, well, if you’re not getting a little emotional watching it, you’re a harder-hearted person than me.

“I’ve always been proud of him, but this was incredible,” Debbie said.

I can’t get enough of these videos.

**Next up today, this was the funniest thing I’ve seen all week, all month, hell, maybe all year.

Zach Galifianakis had a viral video hit with his “Between Two Ferns” interview with Barack Obama in 2014, and now he’s back with an interview with soon-to-be President-elect Hillary Clinton (relax, my fellow liberals who are panicking. Trump IS NOT winning this thing).

There are SO many great lines in this five-minute interview, including “For our younger, younger viewers, how does it feel to be the first white President?” how Hillary feels about losing “the Scott Baio vote” and a great riff about what happens if Hillary gets pregnant.

I read a little behind the scenes about this and it turns out doing the show was Hillary’s idea. Best idea she’s had all campaign.

Enjoy.

Finally today, I thought this was a beautiful example of humanity. A 6-year-old boy from Scarsdale, N.Y. saw and heard some of the horrifying stories coming out of Syria, including that awful photo of the little boy which I won’t post here, because it’s just too awful to see again.

Alex decided to write President Obama a letter, inviting the boy to come live with him and his family. “I have a friend from Syria at my school,” Alex says. “His name is Omar. I will introduce him to Omar, and we can all play together.”

Just a really sweet boy whose compassion could sorely be used by millions.

 

Washington Post editorial board makes history (in a bad way) on Snowden. Corey Feldman, pop star and train wreck! And Vin Scully +”Field of Dreams” = magic

snowdenpic

There has been a lot of important news in America lost amid all the nonsense that’s passing for Presidential election coverage. One small trend that has gone mostly unnoticed is that Edward Snowden, the man who leaked information about illegal U.S. government surveillance programs, is getting more and more support.

A man who was once vilified by so many is suddenly seriously being considered for a pardon by President Obama. According to this fascinating NYT Magazine article about Snowden and the new Oliver Stone movie about him, “former Attorney General Eric Holder, once a fierce critic, has acknowledged that Snowden performed “a public service.” President Obama has called for the reform of phone metadata collection, and last June, Congress passed the U.S.A. Freedom Act, a law that directly resulted from Snowden’s leaks. Snowden has come to be seen as a levelheaded activist.

All of this heartens me, as I am one of those who from the start saw Snowden’s actions, while illegal, as courageous, highly necessary, and important. Maybe calling Snowden a “hero” is going too far, but he certainly deserves major kudos for helping expose vast, vast overreaching by the U.S. government, and his disclosures have absolutely educated millions of us who had no idea how far the NSA had bulldozed our privacy.

So, you know, things have been looking up for Ed Snowden, generally. And then this unprecedented thing happens, and my mouth just about hit the floor. The Washington Post, the newspaper of Woodward and Bernstein for goodness sakes, has done something I’m not sure has ever been done in journalism history:  It happily used Snowden as a source for the NSA disclosures, won a Pulitzer Prize for them, and is now saying Snowden should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Specifically, the Washington Post editorial calls for Snowden to stand trial on espionage charges, or accept “a measure of criminal responsibility for his excesses and the U.S. government offers a measure of leniency.”

Rather hilariously, or frighteningly, as this Glenn Greenwald column points out, the Post excoriates Snowden for leaking a legal spying program called PRISM. But who was it that happily splashed the leak all across its front page? That’s right, the Washington Post!

This is pretty amazing, coming from a newspaper that lately, in its enabling of Donald Trump in some cases, used to be such a gold standard.  Now, a caveat that a lot of non-journalists don’t know: The editorial board of a newspaper is totally separate from the newsroom’s reporters and editors, so I’m certainly not claiming the whole Post staff is behind this editorial.

But it’s just … amazingly hypocritical of the Post, in my opinion. Edward Snowden should be allowed to come home, have a fair trial in his native country, and then the chips shall fall.

But espionage? Come on. But hey, don’t look at me: I’m still waiting when the hell the International War Crimes trials are starting for Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and George W. Bush.

**Next up today, a couple of videos that made me happy for completely different reasons. First, my fellow Gen X’ers certainly recall the acting “career” of Corey Feldman, aka one of the Two Coreys, aka Not the Blonde, Cute One. He has entertained us, amused us, and mostly made us feel sorry for him. He’s been a bad actor, a terrible reality TV star (although I did love him so in “The Surreal Life”), and generally a pretty strange dude.

But my friends, you haven’t seen Corey Feldman until you’ve seen him in a black hoodie, singing unintelligible lyrics, with women in angel costumes behind him.

I give you Corey Feldman, on the “Today” show, and you’re welcome. My God, what a glorious three-minute train wreck this is.

**And finally today, a nice palatte-cleanser: I’ve written a lot about legendary Dodgers announcer Vin Scully, because he’s retiring this year and deserves to be feted as much as possible.

I’ve also written a lot over the years about my all-time favorite movie, “Field of Dreams,” because it’s awesome.

So you show me a video of Vin Scully reciting the great James Earl Jones speech from “Field of Dreams,” set over great baseball highlights of the past? Yeah, I’m watching that. Lots of times.

Hope you enjoy.

The Emmy Awards mostly get it right, except for “The Americans” snub. And the Giants are undefeated, the Browns are still the Browns, and more NFL Week 2 thoughts

tatianamaslany-emmy

The Emmy Awards, my favorite awards show of the year, was Sunday, and my excitement was higher than usual because finally, finally, finally!, the best show on TV, “The Americans,” got a whole bunch of nominations, after being shamefully ignored for the past three seasons.

And, well, “The Americans” got shut out. As did “Fargo,” which was incredible, and as did “Better Call Saul,” which was also fantastic. But I don’t know if it’s that the voters are getting smarter or more diverse or what, but the last few years have seen a whole lot of well-deserving shows and individuals get victories.

A not-so-brief recap of the highs (tons of ’em!) and lows (just a few) of the Jimmy Kimmel-hosted Emmys Sunday night:

— First, Kimmel. I thought his opening monologue and O.J. jokes were good, and the Matt Damon bit amused me. But maybe we could’ve heard the winner’s speeches a little more if we didn’t waste 10 minutes on a stupid PB&J bit, huh? Still, overall Kimmel was solid. Though I still think Tina Fey and Amy Poehler should host every awards show, ever, from now on.

— So many deserving winners I’m happy for: John Oliver, who does such important, meaningful and hilarious stories that shed light on under-covered issues; Patton Oswalt, who’s always been under the radar but is always good; Courtney B. Vance as Johnnie Cochran in “The People vs. O.J. Simpson” was sensational. And “Key & Peele” winning in their last season was fabulous.

— My wife nearly fell off the couch in shock when Tatiana Maslany won for “Orphan Black.” Apparently she’s fabulous in that show (my wife watches, I don’t.)

— Best dressed (again, according to my wife, the fashion expert of the two of us): Regina King, Kerry Washington, Allison Janney. Worst? Kristen Bell looked like she was wearing a leftover Thanksgiving decoration. And the Terrence Howard outfit? Yeesh.

— Great acceptance speeches by Sterling K. Brown, Sarah Paulson (trying to redeem Marcia Clark’s rep, but I wasn’t buying it, Clark blew that case), and Julia-Louis Dreyfus, who got all choked up talking about her Dad at the end. Also loved how genuinely stunned Kate MacKinnon was, shows much these meaningless awards really mean to nominees.

jebbush-emmys

— Of all the people I didn’t expect to see at the Emmys… a Jeb Bush sighting? He was great. If he had shown even an ounce of that personality on the campaign trail, America might not be stuck with the vulgar, talking yam right now.

— Solid death montage this year, but Prince as the hammer? Guy is absolutely a legend, but he’s not exactly a TV star. I guess you could say his MTV videos were revolutionary, but …

— Nice to see “Transparent” win again, and Jeffrey Tambor’s tribute to Garry Shandling was sweet. But I’m surprised neither Tambor nor Jill Soloway made mention of North Carolina’s awful HB2 law.

— Biggest snubs besides “The Americans?” Bokeem Woodbine and Kirsten Dunst in “Fargo,” and HBO’s “All the Way” not getting anything.

— Finally, you think O.J. was allowed to watch the Emmys in his jail cell? I mean, he was pretty much the star of the night.

browns-ravens

**One of those rare stress-free autumn Sundays for me, since the Jets already played on Thursday night (I absolutely loathe Thursday night NFL games, because they’re almost always poorly played, it’s barbaric to make these players play 2 games in four days, and when it’s the Jets, I’m usually too revved up to sleep for hours afterwards).

The early games were pretty dull for a few hours, until we got some outstanding finishes. Some quick-hit thoughts on Week 2…

— So of course the Patriots jumped out to a huge lead thanks to Wonder Boy Jimmy Garoppolo, who then got hurt which meant their 3rd-stringer, Jacoby Brissett, had to come in and the Pats hung on to beat the pathetic Dolphins, 31-24, and now of course Brissett will turn out to be the next Joe Montana and lead New England to two more wins until the ORIGINAL Wonder Boy, Giselle Bundchen’s husband, comes back. Things just always work out for the Patriots.

— I feel like every year I need to publicly thank God that as painful as it is being a Jets fan, it could be worse; I could be a Cleveland Browns rooter. The Browns grabbed a shocking 20-0 lead in the first quarter Sunday over the Ravens, and then, because they’re the Browns, proceeded to give up the next 25 points and lose, 25-20. Thank God LeBron James brought that city a title, because they sure as heck ain’t getting a Super Bowl win anytime soon.

— Great note from writer Alan M. Cole on Twitter Sunday: How old is Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri? He once tackled Herschel Walker. Herschel Walker! Who started his pro career in 1984!

— I didn’t think it was possible, but the officiating seems to be getting even worse this year. A bunch of blown calls Sunday, in the Bengals-Steelers and Giants-Saints games in particular. With replay, this stuff is NOT that difficult.

— The Giants are either the worst 2-0 team ever or the luckiest. They tried really, really hard to give away that 16-13 win over the Saints, but New Orleans refused to take it.

— Funniest part of my day: A guy in my usual sports bar was trying to explain how fantasy football worked to his girlfriend, telling her it’s better if this team’s drive stalls because his kicker needs points, and how it’s good when that guy throws an interception, yada yada yada. Poor woman had the same glazed-over look in her eyes that I used to get in Mr. Pizo’s 11th-grade chemistry class. After about 10 minutes, she gave him a look like, “Enough, I just don’t care.”

Good News Friday: The NCAA actually acts with a moral conscience against N.C. law. Cheerleader with leukemia gets roses from her football team. And a Detroit woman donates free pizza to charity

And a Happy Friday to all of you out there on the InterWebz. My Thursday night was nearly ruined by the New York Jets completely outplaying the Buffalo Bills but still barely managing to hang on to win, 37-31.  Hey, I’ll take it, a win’s a win.

First up on Good News Friday today: It’s so, so rare that I get a chance to praise the NCAA, because they so rarely deserve it. But hey, a blind squirrel finds an acorn every once in a while (has anyone ever actually seen a blind squirrel? I mean, I love the expression, just wondering if such a creature exists) and so does the NCAA.

This week the oft-criticized NCAA made a smart, compassionate, dare I say moral, move, pulling seven championships out of the state of North Carolina because of its disgusting and homophobic HB 2 law. Most of the events pulled would have a negligible economic impact, but the biggie is the loss of an NCAA Tournament first and second-round regional in Greensboro next March. Those events pump tens of millions of dollars into the local economy, with hotels, restaurants and other businesses counting on that money.

This trickle of events abandoning North Carolina is turning into a flood. I just don’t see how even bigoted lawmakers who rushed this bill through can fail to see how damaging it is.

Good for the NCAA for taking a stand here. Let it please continue.

pizzadonation

**Next up today, this is an awesome little good deed. A 19-year-old Detroit woman named Hannah Spooner recently won a year’s worth of free Little Caesar’s pizza in a raffle, and decided to donate it to Covenant House instead.

Covenant House is a wonderful nonprofit that offers shelter, food, and job training to homeless and runaway youth all across America. (Full disclosure: My wife and I support this charity financially each year).

Spooner told a local FOX affiliate that she always knew she’d donate the pizza if she won — even when her boyfriend asked her whether she’d keep just a couple pies for herself.

“I just know there are other people out there who have nothing,” she said. “And I don’t think I should be eating a year’s worth of free pizza when there are people who go hungry at night.”

Great young lady. Now, some of you might argue that eating Little Caesar’s pizza is worse than being hungry, but hey, let’s not pick nits here!

**Finally today, a cheerleader in California who is suffering from leukemia was surprised with a bouquet of roses from the football team she cheers for.

Before they played their game on Sept. 3, Foothill High School’s football team honored cheerleader Ashley Adamietz, who was diagnosed with leukemia in August. As each player entered the field, they left an orange rose (orange is the color for leukemia awareness) by Adamietz’s feet — the whole gesture was a total surprise for her.

Awesome job, fellas. Just look at how touched Ashley is by this gesture.

 

An incredible, unusual walk down the aisle for a heart transplant and his donor’s daughter. Fallon plays Wii Tennis with U.S. Open champ. And the truly tasteless ad a mattress company made about 9/11

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One of my most rewarding subjects I’ve gotten to write about during my journalism career is the importance of organ donation.

I’ve done, I think, three stories about how organ donors either saved the life of someone else, or helped multiple people live better lives. Organ donation is such a simple thing to sign up for, and it can do so much good.

So it’s a pet cause of mine, and I love stories that highlight how organ donors have made a difference. Gotta say, though, this story that I somehow missed from a few weeks ago might be my favorite yet.

Jeni Stepien’s father, Michael, was shot and killed by a teenager during an attempted robbery in 2006 in Pennsylvania.

Michael was an organ donor, and his heart would go to Tom Thomas, who for years had suffered from congestive heart failure.

Over the next decade, Jeni and Michael exchanged phone calls and letters but had never met. Michael would send Jeni’s mom fresh flowers on holidays.

They might never have met, until a few months ago Jeni’s fiance, Paul, suggested that at their wedding, Jeni ask Michael if he’d walk her down the aisle. That way there’d be a little piece of her Dad at the wedding.

“I thought he would be the perfect person because he has a piece of my father living within him,” she said in this great Washington Post story.

Jeni wrote Michael a letter. “She said, ‘Is there any chance you’d consider walking me down the aisle?’ ” Thomas told The Post. “I said, ‘Oh, there’s a big chance.’

And so in on early August day a few weeks ago, Jeni Stepien was given away at her wedding by a man who literally had her father’s heart, and the gift of life that it gave him.

What a beautiful, beautiful story. Click through just to watch the video, and then grab some tissues.

“If I helped just one person change their mind to become an organ donor, my wish in sharing my story has come true,” Jeni said.

If you’re not already an organ donor, you can learn how to become one here.

**Next up today, I love when Jimmy Fallon and “The Tonight Show” do stuff like this. Stan Wawrinka, newly-minted U.S. Open champion, was on Monday night and was challenged by Jimmy to a tennis match.

A Wii tennis match. Let’s just say it’s clear Stan hasn’t spent much time playing Nintendo Wii in his life.

**And finally today, oh you know I love a good “horrible promotional idea” story, but this one was truly beyond the pale.

A mattress store called Miracle Mattress in Texas decided to run a commercial invoking 9/11 in their “Twin Towers” mattress sale. It is so tasteless and bad, it’s almost comical.

I’m sure it won’t shock you to learn that it sparked so much outrage, the store said it’s going out of business.

Too bad. I can’t wait to see what they would’ve done for a big Holocaust remembrance sale.

 

Fifteen years on, hoping 9/11 memories don’t fade. NFL football is back, and the Jets blow one they should’ve won. And Kerber and Wawrinka win terrific U.S. Open finals

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Sunday was the 15th anniversary of September 11, and in so many ways I can’t believe it’s been that long since the worst day of most of our lives. It’s hard to believe that there are high school students about to graduate this year who were still in diapers when the Twin Towers fell.

I have to be honest: I didn’t watch much of the 9/11 remembrances on Sunday. Between NFL football starting and my son turning two and us having his birthday party, and the U.S. Open finals still going on, I didn’t spend as much time as I usually do reflecting on the meaning of 9/11.

I know the NFL did some really nice tributes before games, and of course the readings of the names who died, always shown on 9/11 on New York City TV stations, was powerful.

I hope 9/11 continues to stay fresh in our minds, and that the horror of that day doesn’t fade with time.

I remember as a kid watching some Holocaust movie on TV and wondering why we were still talking about this tragedy, 40 years later. Some grownup (it might have been my parents, or a teacher) told me that it’s incredibly important to keep talking about these things, as fewer and fewer people who were alive then are around, to keep the horrors fresh in our minds about what happened.

Fifteen years isn’t that long in the great span of time; I just hope as the years go by, the memories of that horrible day continue to remain fixed in our minds.

And now, the one 9/11 tradition I always do manage to uphold (and put on the blog): “Can’t Cry Hard Enough,” a montage of the images and sounds of 9/11.

**Next up today, the U.S. Open men’s and women’s finals were this weekend and both were pretty darn great. Angelique Kerber, who has been the best women’s player in the world this year, outlasted Karolina Pliskova (conqueror of Serena in the semis) in a three-set thriller. Then Sunday Novak Djokovic, who I would’ve thought was a shoo-in to win once he got through his first few matches unscathed, was beaten again by Stan the Man, aka, the Other Swiss Guy, aka Stan Wawrinka.

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With Djokovic hobbling around and Wawrinka blasting winners, Wawrinka won his third major title, in four sets. It’s pretty amazing how Wawrinka, after spending years being a pro ranked in the 11-25 range, has become a legit Top 5 player the last two years. Proves how even when you’re one of the best in the world at what you do, you can still get better.

On a slightly personal note, I was fortunate enough to do a ton of freelancing at the Open this year, and one of the players I got to know was 16-year-old Kayla Day, from Santa Barbara, Calif. She got to the second round of the women’s draw before losing to Madison Keys, then rolled through the juniors tournament and won her first Grand Slam title on Sunday.

She’s a terrific kid, really smart, and friendly and kind, and her Mom’s great, too, and sometimes it’s just so much fun as a reporter being in on the “ground floor” of a star’s career, seeing what they’re like at the beginning.

I have no idea if Kayla Day is going to be a star, but she’s off to a fantastic start, and maybe one day I can say “I knew her when.”

(By the way, if you’re wondering “Really Michael? You’ve been covering her all week? Where are your stories?” To which I sadly answer, “behind a paywall on the Santa Barbara News-Press website)

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**Finally today, football, football, football! Specifically, NFL football. More specifically, my New York Jets.

Yep, another banner start to the season for my Gang Green. Play well enough to win, make some big plays on offense and defense, but give up plenty of big plays on D (hey Darrelle Revis, didn’t you used to be awesome), and oh what the heck, miss an extra point and a field goal and lose by one to the Bengals.

From what I saw the Jets offense, with Matt Forte having a great debut, was fine until they got inside the 10-yard-line. And the defense couldn’t cover anybody in a Cincy uniform, and of course a kicker the Jets used to have (Mike Nugent) scored the winning points against them.

Yep, going to be a fabulous season.
Just a couple quick-hit NFL thoughts before I turn out the light:

— Good for Oakland’s Jack Del Rio, going for two points when down 1 with less than a minute to go against New Orleans. NFL coaches are so freaking risk-averse, it’s so rare to see one with guts. The Raiders went for two instead of playing for OT, scored, and won by one.

— Oh, the Browns. Such a Browns way to start a new season (it’s kind of amazing they’ve lost 12 consecutive season openers. Hard to do.) Not only lose, but lose to a rookie quarterback (Carson Wentz) who they could’ve drafted if they’d stayed at the No. 2 spot in the draft.

— I already hate this new Patriots QB who we will never see again after Tom Brady comes back. Arizona, you’ve gotta find a way to win that game Sunday night.

— Finally, nice to see Victor Cruz playing football again for the Giants, and that Cowboys receivers are still making horrible decisions at the end of games (though Dez Bryant wasn’t the culprit this time). How do football players STILL not know they’ve got to get out of bounds at the end of games?

A letter to my son on his 2nd birthday, from the luckiest Daddy in the world

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Dear Nate,

Hi! It’s Daddy again. You know, Daddy, the guy who in the past 12 months has seen you lock him out of the apartment a few times, and has taken you to the park and taught you how much fun it is to jump up and down in the rain puddles.

I’m writing this a few days before you turn 2, and just like I did when you turned 1, I wanted to get my thoughts down about this past amazing year you’ve given us.

I cannot believe how many changes have taken place since last Sept. 10; you learned to walk right after your first birthday, you started talking at around 18 months, and you have turned into such a polite, loving little toddler.

I love that you try to hug almost every other child you see at the playground, and that you have learned to say “Thank you!” after we give you an avocado or a pickle or even some cereal in the morning. I love that you listen, and that you seem to love books as much as Mommy and Daddy do (I’ve been so thrilled that you’ve become a big fan of “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day,” because that’s Daddy’s favorite from childhood.)

The milestones we see you surpass every week continue to boggle my mind; one day a few weeks ago you decided it was time to climb into your high chair by yourself; no assistance needed. And your devotion to night-time routines, whether with us or with babysitters, is impressive.

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This year has seen a little “entourage” join our bedtime and often mealtime routines: Despite having “real” best friends like Coco and Max, you have decided that Elmo, Winnie the Pooh, and Paddington must sit and listen to story time at night, get kisses from all three of us, and sleep on the couch across from your crib.

I am so proud of you, Nate, for how you (mostly) listen, how you always want to share with others, and how you’re able to keep track of all six grandparents (though we do find it amusing that as soon as you see one of a “pair,” you immediately ask for the other one.)

Your love of music is all encompassing; if the CD player even stops playing your “musik” for a second or two, you shout “Musik!” as if it will never, ever come back on, and how dare the CD stop for even a second. Your favorite songs are still “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “Ba ba Black Sheep,” though happily your repertoire also includes “No more Monkeys Jumping on the Bed.”

You will also, your mother and I think, be the only child of your generation who knows what a “CD” is.

You are growing up right before my eyes, and your independence scares and thrills me in equal measure. Seeing you develop “likes” and “dislikes” and then having those change within a few days is something I don’t quite understand, but that’s OK, I don’t really have to understand.

All I need is to get those huge smiles when Mommy comes home at night to greet us, and those enormous hugs you give when you haven’t seen me for a while.

You’re 2 now, and the “Terrible Twos” are surely going to be upon us, and hopefully toilet training happens before you’re 26, and in another year from now we’ll be sending you to pre-school and we won’t even remember the time you were 2.

If I could, I’d preserve you forever just as you are right now, completely un-cynical about the world, and able to be made happy by so many simple things, like a silly face I make or a chocolate chip cookie I share with you.

You are absolutely the love of my life, and I am so proud of you, today and always.

Happy 2nd birthday, and I hope you get everything you wish for when you blow out the candles (though let’s be honest, what you probably will wish for are more avocados to eat).

Love always,

Daddy

 

 

Me and Joe Poz on the horrible “Atomic Beam” flashlight infomercial. A hilarious take on Jagger and Bowie’s “Dancin’ in the Streets.” And the stupid criminal foiled by his name on his shirt.

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Before we begin today’s blog, a loyal reader has requested (nay, demanded!) I update you on one of the most pressing issues of the day: The USA Freedom girls, the adorable tykes I’ve blogged about twice, who sang at a Donald Trump rally, then didn’t get paid after promises were made to pay them, are now suing The Donald. Which is awesome. I hope they get lots of money from him. On with the show…

It’s been a while since I’ve written about a truly terrible and awesome infomercial, but thankfully, Joe Posnanski, whose infomercial “analysis” is second to none, is back with this hilarious story on the Atomic Beam infomercial, which truly is one of the stupidest products/infomercials I’ve ever seen.

Watch it please (linked in my Tweet above, for some reason it won’t embed properly), and then come back and answer a few questions for me, including:

— Why in the world would a mugger be scared off by a woman with a flashlight? Mace, I understand. But bright lights scare these would-be criminals? Are they like, part-Gremlin?
— Putting the flashlight in a vat of frying oil filled with French Fries (at the :40 mark), makes me really question the cleanliness of that particular fast food establishment.
— Our former Marine host dude keeps trying to smash the Atomic Beam, but all he really does is smash the block of ice around the flashlight, not the light itself. Why should I be impressed?

I’ve got lots more questions, but Joe Poz has his own hilarious take on it. If you need a really good belly laugh today, I urge you to read it.

**Next up today, this is why I love the Internet: People take the time to do stupid stuff that turns out really funny. In this case, someone on the Internet took the time to take all the “music” out of the famous video for “Dancing in the Streets,” starring those two legends, David Bowie and Mick Jagger.

Really hilarious. Mick looks so uncoordinated here…

**And finally today, in addition to terrible infomercials not being on my blog for awhile, it’s also been a long time since I’ve gotten around to talking about stupid criminals.

Thankfully, the brilliant folks on NPR’s “Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me” brought one to my attention this week.

Meet Dustin Brannon, a Kenosha, Wisc. man who was responsible for two robberies in the state recently.

Dustin was arrested last week for robbing a gas station and a liquor store. How did the intrepid cops get a break in this unsolvable crime? They found T-shirts left at the scene that had the name “Dustin Brannon” ironed on to the inside.

Oh Dustin. I don’t know what’s more embarrassing: That you left your shirts at the scene of the crime, or that you have your name ironed on to your T-shirt.