The first four days of March Madness are done! Fairleigh Dickinson! Princeton! Furman! My Duke boys lose! And more thoughts on an as-always great first two rounds. And R.I.P. Lance Reddick, a terrific actor who’ll be missed.


Glorious, glorious exhaustion.

That’s what I’m feeling tonight, and what I feel on the first Sunday evening of the NCAA Tournament every year. My brain is fried, I can’t remember who beat who, it’s all blending together into one glorious tapestry of basketball brilliance.

The first four days of March Madness never, ever disappoints. Some years there are more upsets than others; some years there are more classic games (bizarrely we had zero overtime games this year through the first two rounds).

But there is always so much drama, so much joy, so much anguish … it’s just perfect.

A Tweet from a sportswriter named Myron Medcalf summed up my feelings perfectly: “Please don’t touch this tournament. Don’t expand it. Don’t switch it up. Don’t do anything. Just leave it just like this. Please. — Sincerely, Everybody.”

Oh man, so many thoughts. Where to begin?

— Well of course we have to begin with history, with an epic choke job by a No.1 seed and an incredible victory by a 16 seed. Only once in NCAA Tournament history had a top seed lost to a 16, and that was of course Virginia losing to UMBC five years ago.

Well move over Retrievers of UMBC, a tiny commuter school in Teaneck, N.J., has joined a very small club. Fairleigh Dickinson, who didn’t even win their conference tournament and only got to play in the NCAAs because conference champ Merrimack was ineligible, shocked Purdue on Friday night. It was stunning, it was incomprehensible, and it was glorious.

The heavily-favored Boilermakers played terribly. Their star, 7-foot-4 Zack Edey, was almost a foot taller than all the Knights players, and yet Purdue couldn’t get him the ball in the final 10 minutes. Broadcaster Steve Lappas said it best: No one on Purude wanted to shoot.

But let’s focus on FDU, the glorious story that almost continued for TWO wins, as Sunday night it battled Florida Atlantic to the wire before losing.
FDU is coached by a former Division II coach, Tobin Anderson. He brought three players from his D-II job last year with him to FDU. The Knights won FOUR games last season.

And Friday night they knocked off a perennial powerhouse. Check out the “wild” scene on FDU’s campus after the win 🙂

— Something about New Jersey, man. Last year, it was tiny St. Peter’s that went to the Elite 8, from New Jersey. Maybe it’s the Tony Soprano or Bruce Springsteen effect, or all the jokes from New Yorkers like myself about what a sad place that state is.

But as Nicole Auerbach said on Twitter said, Cinderella is a Jersey Girl.

— Which brings us to Princeton, also in New Jersey!. The No.15 Tigers are maybe as good a story as FDU. Princeton knocked off No. 2 seed Arizona ( a rare upset pick I got right in my bracket, ahem ahem), then followed that up by thrashing Missouri on Saturday. The Tigers play smart, veteran ball and are also crazy athletic, which is not usually a trait of Ivy League teams. Their coach was on the last Princeton team that won a first-round game, which is the kind of thing that always seems to happen in this glorious Tournament. The Tigers play Creighton on Friday and absolutely could win that, too.

— A quick word about Furman, a 13 seed who beat Virginia on Day 1. They gave us one of the few game-winning shots we got in the first round, when Virginia’s Kihei Clark, who’s played about 12 years in Charlottesville, made a horrendous decision to throw the ball way down the court without having any sight of who he was throwing it to.

This play was perfect from the Paladins, and was my favorite single moment of the first round.

— Always a different Cinderella, which makes the tournament so great: Saint Peter’s. Florida Gulf Coast. Norfolk State. North Texas. I could go on and on. The names and faces and jersey colors change, but the main idea, that anyone can beat anyone else on any given day, is what makes this Tournament so special.

— A few words on my Duke team. Ugh. A very disappointing end to the season on Saturday. Tennessee just physically manhandled the Blue Devils, as we saw again what a difference it is in strength when a senior/junior team plays a freshman-dominated team. Duke had awful timing with a last-minute injury to starter Mark Mitchell, it shot the ball poorly, had foul trouble, everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. It was such a weird season for Duke: high expectations at the start, then so much poor play that made us think it would be a terrible season, then a fantastic final month, followed by a rough ending.

On to better days next year.

— Most impressive second-round team: Miami. Boy did the Hurricanes destroy a good Indiana team Sunday night.
— Least impressive second-round team: Houston. I don’t believe in this team at all. But they are tough as all get out.

— Sweet 16 games I’m most excited about: Michigan State-Kansas State should be a fantastic game. UConn-Arkansas will be a track meet, first team to 80 points wins. And UCLA vs. Gonzaga, hmmmm, where have we seen that recently?

— Finally, this moment, from Arkansas Coach Eric Musselman and one of his players, Devo Davis, was beautiful, and what this Tournament is all about.

**Finally today, we lost a great actor on Friday, as Lance Reddick, who was Lt. Daniels on “The Wire,” who also starred in movies like “John Wick” and a bunch of other shows, died at the age of 60.

Reddick brought such quiet intensity to his roles, on shows like “Fringe” also. He was so, so good as Daniels on my all-time favorite show, caught between bosses at the Baltimore Police Dept., and at City Hall, while dealing with rule-breakers whose heart was in the right place like McNulty. Just his facial expressions alone could show so much.

He died way, way too young. A couple of my favorite of his scenes from “The Wire.” Rest in peace to a fantastic actor and good man.

Good News Friday: A Steve Hartman story about the high school football star who raised money for foster kids like him. YouTube star Mr. Beast does more amazing charity work. And a Minnesota kid gets a prom date in a very unusual way.

Happy Friday, my people! In my world it’s like Christmas and New Year’s and Hanukkah and the 4th of July all rolled into one, because it’s Day 2 of the NCAA Tournament! If all goes well I’ll spent about 10 hours today eating crap food and watching game after game while ignoring my family (they won’t mind, they get sick of me sometimes.)

While I’m wondering why Long Island got NONE of the snow the rest of N.Y. state got this week (my kids wanna go sledding at least once this winter, Ma Nature!), here are three fantastic stories highlighting the good news in the world.

We start with a fabulous piece by the great Steve Hartman of CBS News, who brings us the tale of a high school football star who had an angry childhood, spent mostly in foster care, and how the love of a good family, and one simple kind gesture asked of him by his new Mom, led to an incredible new purpose for him.

I had never heard of Malachi Coleman of Lincoln (Neb.) East High School before this, but you can bet I’ll be rooting for this young man at Nebraska.

One simple gesture of good has turned his whole life around. That’s all it takes sometimes.

**Next up,  my  8-year-old’s favorite YouTube star Mr. Beast is at it again, doing more good for the world. He teamed up with a charity in South Africa called Barefoot No More to buy 20,000 pairs of shoes for underprivileged kids in that country, kids who had to walk barefoot before this.

Just another example of someone who has a lot, giving to those who have so little. Good on ya, Mr. Beast!


**And finally today, I thought this story was all kinds of adorable. At the Minnesota high school hockey state tournament, which is as big in that state as basketball tournaments are in Indiana and Kentucky, a player named Brady Bork decided on a very unusual and fun way to ask a girl to the prom.

Hockey players write all kinds of messages on their stick tape before games, and get a few seconds on camera during player introductions.

So Brody decided to ask Sarah Stegenga to the Luverne High School big event, and she saw it and said yes. She hilariously ran to the merchandise stand to get a stick (the people from Bauer Hockey lent her one and let her keep it), and she wrote “Yes!” on some tape and showed it to him.

I love hockey. I love this story. Hope Brody and Sarah drive a Zamboni up to the prom.

How would every President of the U.S. look with a mullet? I’m glad you asked! Happy Ted Lasso Day! The Apple TV show is back for Season 3. And my NCAA Tournament picks, finalized, with a “guaranteed to be right” Final 4.


As you may know, artificial intelligence programs are taking over the world.

Well, not quite yet, but it seems to be getting there. The new “writing” program ChatGPT has scared the heck out of many of my fellow writers, since it can write stories and interviews in an interactive style that sorta kinda resembles human writing.

Robots will one day completely replace factory workers, we’re told, and self-driving cars are already here.

It’s all a little scary. But hey, sometimes A.I. can be used for fun! Like take this dude here, who decided it would be fun to see what every American President looked like with a mullet.

From George Washington to Joe Biden and everyone in between! From

“Using Artificial Intelligence (AI), Cam Harless, 34, who lives in Florida, has put a fun spin on pictures of historical and well-known figures in a Twitter thread featuring all 46 U.S. presidents with mullets.

Harless created the pictures using popular artificial intelligence program Midjourney. From Thomas Jefferson with flowing locks and orange-tinted sunglasses to Bill Clinton rocking the style famously representing business up front and party in the back.”

I think these are awesome. The Obama one is just perfect. See? AI can be used for fun stuff! Here’s the whole group of them, and George Washington’s is fantastic as well.

**Today is National Ted Lasso Day, so of course me and the millions of others who worship the Apple TV show “Ted Lasso” are eagerly awaiting the drop of the first episode (or episodes?) of Season 3.

This may in fact be in the final season, that’s what we’ve been told all along, but I can’t believe it will end this soon. There’s too many fans, too much money to be made in a Season 4.

Anyway, I’m super excited about this season, with Nate and Rupert now allies, Ted and the Richmond boys back in Premier League, and lord knows who Rebecca will shtup from the team next.

Futbol is life!


**Folks, I’m going to be honest with you.

I have very little feel for this NCAA Tournament bracket. Every year I normally feel at least somewhat confident in my Final 4 picks, or feel good about two or three of them.

This year? I feel confident Alabama will get there, because even though their star, Brandon Miller, shouldn’t be playing at all after his involvement in allegedly supplying a gun that was used in a homicide. Alabama’s bracket is softer than cheese that’s been left out for a week.

But the rest? I’m doing my best here but I’m not feeling good.
OK, first off, first round upsets I’m picking:
SOUTH: No. 12 Charleston over No. 5 San Diego State (most of America will have that one), and a shocker of a 15 over 2, because lately there’s been a 15-2 upset most years: Princeton over Arizona (somewhere, Pete Carril will be smiling). I just don’t love the Wildcats lately. Then I’ve got Bama over a surprise Missouri team in the Elite Eight, to go to the Final 4.

EAST: This is a bracket loaded with landmines for top-seeded Purdue. I’m not picking my beloved Duke Blue Devils, because as well as they’ve played the last month, I just don’t think this team can shoot well enough from the outside, nor has enough bench scoring, to win four games to get to the Final 4. I thought about Marquette, but they’ve made a big jump this year and while I love Coach Shaka Smart, I don’t think they can beat Purdue.

So I’m going with the Boilermakers, who’ve been so close to making it to a Final 4 the last few years. Zach Edey (above) is unstoppable! Maybe this year they’ll finally break through!
No big upsets in that region.

MIDWEST: I don’t love any of these teams to get to Houston and the Final 4. Houston, the top seed, has injury issues with star Marcus Sasser, and Texas seems flawed, as does Indiana, which has so much talent but has underachieved. I like Drake from the Missouri Valley to upset Miami and then IU, because the Missouri Valley is an excellent league and Drake is good.

So in a flawed group, I’m picking Xavier. They’ve had a terrific season, have an excellent if morally-challenged coach in Sean Miller, and they’re experienced and playing well now. Wouldn’t shock me if Texas A&M got hot and became a sleeper Final Four team.

WEST: Finally, the West. Defending national champ Kansas gets my nod here, and it’s pretty amazing in this day and age that a champ can come this close to repeating. I like no big first-round upsets here, but watch out for Iona and Rick Pitino to beat UConn, who is very erratic. I could see Gonzaga or UCLA possibly going to the Final 4, but the Zags have lost some tough games to good opponents outside their league, and UCLA has injury issues. So I go with the Jayhawks.

In the Final 4, I’ve got a Midwestern dream of Xavier vs. Purdue (Alabama will have a bad night against the Boilers), and Purdue winning the national title.

Put all your money on these picks and you’ll need a loan in a few weeks 🙂

The 2023 Oscars had no violence on stage! And some good winners and touching speeches. And March Madness is here! First thoughts on the bracket, who got screwed, and the best first-round games to watch

I must admit upfront I was pretty unenthused by the Oscars this year. I saw zero of the Best Picture nominees, and very few of the movies that the acting nominees were in. We just don’t go to the movies much anymore, and haven’t been as active in streaming these flicks as we could be (although we wanted to see “The Fabelmans” last weekend in a theater and couldn’t find one near us playing it).

Still, as you know I absolutely LOVE awards shows, so I was definitely going to watch. Some scattered thoughts from my tired brain (damn you, Daylight Savings Time!)

— There was NO violence on stage this year! Already that feels like a win.

— Host Jimmy Kimmel was terrific, I thought. I always enjoy him. His monologue jokes were strong, as he obviously referenced the Will Smith/Chris Rock slap from last year but didn’t overload on it. His Spielberg/Seth Rogen joke about how they’re the “Joe and Hunter Biden of Hollywood” made me laugh, and I enjoyed the “five Irish actors are nominated, so the chances we’ll have another fight on stage tonight went way up” crack.

Kimmel kept the show moving along, and there were no stupid comedy bits, really (well the one with Malala wasn’t so great), and we got to hear more from the winners.

And unlike last time Kimmel hosted, they didn’t accidentally read off the wrong name for Best Picture!

— Brendan Fraser won Best Actor for “The Whale,” and Ke Huy Quan won for “Everything Everywhere All At Once”, and both gave beautiful speeches.

“Mom! I just won an Oscar!” Quan shouted. “This is the American Dream!” It was beautiful, the emotion in his voice.

— Two actors from “Encino Man” won Oscars tonight. Go tell that to someone in 1993.

— The death montage was solid, and having John Travolta introduce it in a year his “Grease” co-star Olivia Newton-John died. Raquel Welch got the hammer which felt right.

— Yes I’m biased because I love writers and I love teachers but I thought Daniel Scheinert, co-winner of best original screenplay for “Everything Everywhere All at Once”) had an awesome speech, calling out the great educators he’s had in his life who helped him along the way. God bless teachers! A cool moment.

Scheinert also said as a kid he “dressed in drag which was a threat to nobody!” Attention, GOP lawmakers. The two Daniels (Kwan and Scheinert) gave awesome acceptance speeches when they won best director.

— Loved the speech by Jamie Lee Curtis (above), starting with her screaming “shut up!” when her name was announced as the winner. A sweet, much-loved longtime actress who’s been in a lot of crappy films finally gets to show her acting chops and won an Oscar.

— Nicole Kidman and Idris Elba would have absolutely beautiful children together. Wow did they look gorgeous together.

— Other stunning dresses/tuxes from the Oscars: Margot Robbie, Jessica Chastain, Jennifer Connelly, and from the men, Andrew Garfield and Michael B. Jordan (you’ve come a long way, Wallace from “The Wire”), were fabulous, according to the wife.

Elizabeth Banks and Florence Pugh, the missus didn’t enjoy your looks.

— My wife also pointed out that the winners for best screenplays had great acceptance speeches, which you’d expect because they’re writers.
I think she just pointed that out because I’m a writer and she knew that insight would make me happy and I’d put it in the blog. Which I am now doing 🙂

— Finally, Lady Gaga’s performance was superb and I would listen to her sing the phone book or a Chinese food menu. She’s just a freaking powerhouse.

**Finally today, it’s the most wonderful time of the year! Sunday was Selection Sunday, a national holiday in my house, and I have to say this year the Committee did a pretty strong job with making the NCAA Tournament bracket. Duke and Texas A&M were seeded a little too low, Saint Mary’s and N.C. State a little too high, but otherwise I think they did a bang-up job.

As always I need a few days to fully immerse myself in this bracket before I give you all my Final 4 picks. But some initial thoughts on the regions, best first-round games, and upset picks:

— Toughest region, at first glance, looks to be the Midwest. Houston has to deal with No. 2 seed Texas who is very hot right now, No. 4 Indiana who has an incredibly-talented roster, fifth-seeded Miami, and No. 7 Texas A&M who appears to be grossly underseeded. I’ll be stunned if Houston gets to the Final 4.

— The easiest region to me looks like the West. Kansas (led by star Jalen Wilson, above) would have to get through a Saint Mary’s team at No. 5 that seems overseeded, a UCLA team that’s No. 2 and has major injury issues, and No.3 Gonzaga who isn’t as strong as it was in past years. If Kansas can survive a possible second-round bout with Arkansas.

— Sooo many good first-round matchups this year. I highly recommend watching Utah State-Missouri, that game will be very high scoring (1:40 p.m. Eastern on Thursday on TNT); Charleston against San Diego State should be a doozy (3:10 p.m. Eastern Thursday on TruTV); and Boise State-Northwestern will be all kinds of fun (7:35 p.m. Eastern Thursday on TruTV).

I also love VCU-Saint Mary’s, a classic 12-5 game (Friday 2 p.m., on TBS), and FAU vs. Memphis is fascinating, since both teams are playing so well (9:20 p.m. Friday, on TNT).

And oh yeah, Duke vs. Oral Roberts will be very good, my Blue Devils are rolling right now (ACC Tournament champs, baby!)

— Upsets? You want upsets? Give me Charleston to beat San Diego State and then the Virginia-Furman winner to make the Sweet 16. I also love Iona over UConn in a 13-4 surprise, and VCU over Saint Mary’s in another 12-5 upset that always happens. Not sure I’m going to pick it yet, but I’m tempted to tout Furman over Virginia, and (yes this is nuts) Louisiana over Tennessee, a 4 seed.

— Sleepers? Wouldn’t shock me to see Texas A&M get to the Elite 8, and keep an eye on No. 3 East seed Kansas State, who have had an improbably successful season.

Let the madness begin!

Good News Friday: A woman pulls a disabled bus driver out of a burning vehicle, saving his life. A second-grader dresses up as her “superhero” teacher. And the Costco CEO responds to a kid’s school fundraising letter in an awesome way.


Happy Friday, y’all! Spring is almost here, we lose an hour of sleep this weekend thanks to the abomination that is Daylight Savings Time (seriously, why do we still have this again?), but the Madness of March is almost upon us! Can you smell those brackets, can you taste those upsets? I know you can. Check back here Monday for many thoughts on this year’s NCAA Tournament, which sadly falls on the same day as the Academy Awards this year (two of my absolute favorite things of the year happening on the same night!)

Let’s get right to the good news this week with a remarkable heroic effort from a Connecticut teacher.

A middle school educator at Illing Middle School in Manchester, Conn. saved an unconscious driver from a burning vehicle two weeks ago.

Heather Sica Leonard pulled a disabled driver named John, who has limited mobility and uses a wheelchair.

While driving his van down Main Street he smelled smoke, then moved a cup holder to find flames coming from his dash. He stopped the vehicle on the side of the ramp, suddenly finding himself in a burning car,” Manchester Fire Rescue EMS said, adding that the fuel tank of his van had ruptured.

Leonard, who happened to be driving down the highway ramp at the same time, spotted the emergency unfolding and stopped her car to help.

“She immediately stopped, approached the burning vehicle and selflessly got John and his wheelchair out of the car and moved him to safety, all at great personal risk to injury,” the department said. “Her actions averted an almost certain fatal outcome and prevented anyone from being injured.”

What an amazing gesture and quick-thinking by Sica Leonard. Bravo to her!

**Next up, I thought this was all kinds of adorable. A second grader in Bentonville, Ark. named Caroline Carlson had a wonderful twist on a common elementary school theme day.

At R.E. Baker Elementary School, students were asked to dress like their favorite superhero on a specific Friday.

Well, instead of going with Wonder Woman or Batgirl or someone else, Caroline chose to dress like her teacher, Jamie Deigh.

On Facebook the school wrote: “Forget the cape, throw on a jean jacket and change the world wherever you are, Bentonville!”

**Finally today, I love it when a CEO of a major corporation goes above and beyond to help someone. It’s rare.

A sixth grader in Los Angeles named Grant Cerwin wanted to help his school’s annual fundraiser, so he emailed Costco CEO Craig Jelinek. He asked Jelinek if Costco would donate one of their 93-inch teddy bears to the school to auction off for money.

In Cerwin’s sweet email, he asks “Is there any chance Costco might donate one? My dad has a truck and we could come get it at the store. I would make sure everyone knew you gave it to us in our school newsletter, on social media and with a big sign by the bear. I know it is a long shot but I thought it couldn’t hurt to ask.”

Jelinek not only saw the email but jumped into action, asking his colleague “Can we find him a teddy?” Then his lieutenant emailed their colleagues to quickly find a bear for Cerwin’s school, writing: “Do whatever it takes to find a Big Bear and set up pick up for Lesley. Keep me posted.”

Costco ended up delivering the bear to Grant’s school, and boom, so many future Costco customers now can feel even better about shopping there.

Listen to what Grant’s Mom said to “It speaks volumes about the leadership at Costco that Grant got the response he did,” she said. “He is a boundlessly optimistic child and as a parent you worry the world will chip away at that positivity. I’m grateful that the team at Costco reaffirmed my son’s belief that the world is full of good people.”

A Kentucky toddler could not tell a lie, and so a fugitive was captured. Travis Kelce’s SNL monologue was great. And life advice from Jerry Seinfeld was funny and wise.


You know, nothing foils a perfectly good caper like an honest child.

Here you are, a family in Williamsburg, Kentucky, and you’re trying to hide a fugitive, and your little man messes it ALL up by telling the (gasp!) truth.

Like he’s George Washington or Johnny Appleseed or one of those people in history who couldn’t fib.

Check out this delightful story from Officials from several agencies were searching Friday in Williamsburg for Tina Hicks, 45. Williamsburg is a small city of about 5,300 about 100 miles southeast of Lexington.

Whitley County sheriff’s deputies, Williamsburg police and Kentucky State Police were trying to serve Hicks with “multiple outstanding warrants for her arrest,” the sheriff’s office said.

No adult family members were willing to say whether or not Hicks was in the house, the sheriff’s office said.

That’s when the toddler “stood up, put his hands on his hips, and stated ‘It is good to be honest … we shouldn’t lie, she is inside the room next to the bathroom!’” the sheriff’s office said.

Deputies found Hicks there, and she was served with two outstanding Whitley County circuit indictment warrants charging her with possession of meth and drug paraphernalia, as well as four other outstanding district court warrants.

The sheriff’s office said the child was visiting family and did not live at the home.”

I love that this kid stood up for what was right, and cooperated with law enforcement, and told the truth. Good for that child.

And also, you gotta know those relatives were sending that kid back to his parents real fast!

**Next up today, more often than not, when athletes try to do comedy, it goes badly. For every Peyton Manning, who is fantastic and very funny (still one of my all-time favorite sketches was his United Way commercial), there is a Derek Jeter or John McEnroe, who have been painfully un-funny in comedy sketches.

But Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl champion Travis Kelce hosted “SNL” last weekend, and I thought his monologue was really good. Especially the joke about getting kicked off his college football team.

**Finally today, some life wisdom from the great Jerry Seinfeld. The billionaire comedian was on Howard Stern the other day, talking about how he’s never NOT working on material, or thinking of how he could make something funny.

Listen to his answer when Howard tells him that that sounds like torture.

I think it’s actually pretty wise!

In praise of another fabulous season of the “White Lies” podcast, examining a prison riot in Alabama in 1991. Jon Stewart eviscerates another hypocritical Republican more concerned with drag queens than gun violence. And Duke swept Carolina and I am pretty freaking excited.


You may remember a few years back I recommended a sensational investigative journalism podcast called “White Lies.” From NPR and hosted by Chip Brantley and Andrew Beck-Grace, “White Lies” looked at a civil rights murder from the 1960s that got little attention from the history books, and looked at it with fresh eyes.

It was informative, it was entertaining, and it has stuck with me since the remarkable story ended.

Well in 2023 “White Lies” has come back with a new season, and I think it’s just as good, if not better. This year they’re talking about another forgotten piece of American history, a 1991 prison riot in Talladega, Ala., led by Cuban refugees who had been held, with absolutely no charges or due process, for more than a decade.

The Cubans were part of more than 125,000 people from their country who came to America as part of what was called the Mariel Boat Lift, in 1980, when Fidel Castro allowed any Cubans who wanted to sail to Miami by boat to leave. When they arrived, many re-connected with relatives in Florida, others were sponsored by Americans, but many thousands of others were detained by the U.S. government under old laws given new life thanks to the new Ronald Reagan administration (a particularly nasty and young Rudy Giuliani, a lawyer in Reagan’s Attorney General office, makes a few appearances).

This is a long, complicated story; I’m five episodes in and we’re only up to about 1984. But “White Lies” tells a gripping story of the corner Castro was backed into in 1980, the initial welcome reception the Cubans got from the Carter administration, and how things turned.

I don’t want to give too much away, but so many of the themes we saw from Reagan in the 1980s, about xenophobia, and “Americans First” and so much nonsense that Donald Trump spouted four decades later, are on full display when it came to the Cubans.

There are so many personal stories here, about the men who were detained without any due process whatsoever, the inhumane conditions they dealt with, the citizens within the government trying to help them, and above all, what our immigration system used to look like, and what it looks like today.

Brantley and Beck-Grace have spent years researching this sprawling story, and I cannot wait to see how it ends. It’s being released one episode at a time, and I’m actually glad I can’t binge it, because all the details would run together.

I love this podcast, and I think you will, too.

As if I needed MORE reasons to hate Rudy Giuliani.

**Next up today, Jon Stewart once again has chewed up and spit out a hypocrisy-driven government official. This time it’s Nathan Dahm, a state legislator of Oklahoma, and he and Stewart discuss gun control, the freedom to bear arms, and just the outright hypocrisy of Dahm’s position.

It’s almost not even a fair fight, Stewart vs. this guy. But it’s still fun to see.

**Finally today, a few words about the Duke Blue Devils. Man, what a satisfying win Saturday night in Chapel Hill against the hated Tar Heels. It was a carbon copy of the first game the two teams played this year, a defensive battle not won until the final few seconds. But once again, the correct shade of blue came out on top.

This Duke team has grown up so much the last few months. They were a disorganized, immature mess back in early January, and now the freshmen have matured big-time. Tyrese Proctor has played himself into the NBA Draft’s first round, a point guard not afraid to take and make big shots. Kyle Filipowski just puts up double-doubles all day, and he was a huge factor Saturday, scoring 22. Jeremy Roach, the veteran guard, has been stellar, and freshmen center Dereck Lively continues to be a huge defensive presence.

Carolina needed that win in the worst way to get into the NCAA Tournament, and didn’t get it. How sweet it is to sweep the Heels, a year after they destroyed K’s last home game, and Duke’s Final Four appearance.

I’m excited to see what my boys can do in the Tournament.

Good News Friday: Dave Grohl proves again that he’s a mensch, helping feed storm victims in California. A 13-year-old plays two killer national anthems on electric guitar. And great news for diabetes sufferers: Your medicine is about to get a lot cheaper.


Happy Friday, and happy March! Oh, it’s the most glorious month, when the weather starts to get warmer, my kids are in school all month thank goodness, and oh yeah, the Madness of March will be here before you know it (whoo-hoo!).

Lots of good news in the world this week, and I want to start off with yet another good deed by the Hall of Fame musician/Hall of Fame Good Guy Dave Grohl.

Grohl just seems to be the musical Tom Hanks in some ways, in that he’s always around doing the right thing, and always seems to be where he’s needed.

The former Nirvana drummer and current Foo Fighters frontman lives in California, and he loves to grill meet on his smoker. Those two facts came in handy last week when those devastating storms hit the Golden State, displacing millions of people from their homes and causing power outages and damages all over the place.

Grohl, seeing a need, brought his giant smoker and fed 500 people at the Hope Mission in L.A., cooking ribs, pork butt, brisket, cabbage and a whole bunch of other yummy food for those who were hungry.

What a good dude. I’m sure Grohl didn’t do it for the publicity; he just saw a need and helped out.

People helping people!

**Next up, a fantastic rendition of the Canadian and American national anthems on an electric guitar. No, it’s not Jimmy Hendrix at Woodstock. This is 13-year-old Nikhil Bagga, performing at a Seattle Kraken NHL game last week.

How good is this kid???

**And finally today, some good news for millions of us who suffer from diabetes. It’s pretty rare that any non-Mark Cuban company drops the price of medicine; it’s almost always going the other way.

But credit should go where it’s due: Eli Lilly, a pharmaceutical giant, announced this week that it will cap the out-of-pocket costs of its insulin at $35 a month.

Here, from an story: “The move, experts say, could prompt other insulin makers in the U.S. to follow suit. The change, which Eli Lilly said takes effect immediately, puts the drugmaker in line with a provision in the Inflation Reduction Act, which in January imposed a $35 monthly cap on the out-of-pocket cost of insulin for seniors enrolled in Medicare.

President Joe Biden praised the move in a tweet, calling on other drugmakers to also lower insulin prices. Biden made insulin costs a focus of his State of the Union speech last month.

The American Diabetes Association also applauded the decision, and encouraged other insulin manufacturers to lower costs. Insulin costs in the U.S. are notoriously high compared to the costs in other countries; the Rand Corporation, a public policy think tank, estimated that in 2018, the average list price for one vial of insulin in the U.S. was $98.70.”

Did Eli Lilly do it to comply with the law? Yes. But they lowered the costs for everyone, not just seniors, and that will make a huge difference in the lives of many diabetics.

Now, if we can just get 25 other drugs that millions take to be cheaper… oh wait, that would be a big part of any universal health care plan, which of course we should have but never will.

A fella can dream! Have a great weekend.

“The Boys in Blue” a searing, fantastic miniseries on a very unusual Minneapolis high school football team, after George Floyd. The amazing Nandi Bushell with another great drumming performance. And in the Maine high school basketball playoffs, pure madness in 20 seconds.

A documentary series about a high school football team, directed by Peter Berg?

You can’t get me to say “yes please!” fast enough. That was all I knew initially when I heard about Showtime’s four-part series “The Boys in Blue” which premiered in January.

Peter Berg created “Friday Night Lights,” for my money one of the 10 best TV shows ever made, so the fact he was returning to high school football, even this time in a non-fiction setting, had me excited.

Then I learned the premise: The show takes places at Minneapolis’s North High School, about a year after the killing of George Floyd. North is an inner-city school filled with African-American kids from poor backgrounds and who live every day with gunshots and mayhem in their lives.

These are good kids we meet, like Deshaun “D Hill” Hill, and Rio and Meiko, kids who are struggling to get an education and play football while the world around them is filled with protests and racial violence, and a fear of police.

The North High Polars are an excellent football program, but there’s a big twist we learn about at the end of episode 1: Almost all of the coaches are Minneapolis police officers. And several of them are black. We meet head coach Charles “OA” Adams, and Officer Ricky Plunkett, strong, proud African-American men who are caught between defending their brothers in blue while acknowledging how wrong what happened to George Floyd and others truly is.

Over the course of four episodes, we get to follow the men who coach the Polars, and go home with them as they deal with coaching and being police officers. We see how crucial their roles are in the lives of kids like Deshaun and Rio, and we see the community grapple with a ballot amendment that would abolish/defund the Minneapolis police department.

The cinematography and camerawork are exceptional, and seeing these kids in their natural environment (chilling at a barbecue, hanging out at the mall) gives us such a glimpse in to the strange world they live in. They matter-of-factly talk about hearing gunfire when doing homework, and talk about how they have to be careful where they walk.

The football field is an oasis for them, and as the season goes along, and D-Hill gets more confident as the sophomore quarterback, we root for them to succeed.

There is one scene in particular from this magnificent series that will stay with me, and it involves Adams, Plunkett and men in their local barbershop arguing about a recent case of police violence that ended in tragedy. I listened to both sides and found myself agreeing with both sides, and the intensity on camera was stunning and riveting television.

There is a very tragic end to “The Boys in Blue” which I won’t give away here. But these four episodes show us a world, in 2021, that was very crucial to the lives of Minnesotans, and gives us a glimpse of all these kids have to overcome.

I highly, highly recommend this series. The trailer is above, and Showtime made the first episode available for free here on YouTube.


**Next up today, you may remember the fantastic child drummer Nandi Bushell, the British girl who challenged Dave Grohl to a drumming contest and went viral with her killer performances of Foo Fighters songs, and others.

Well, Bushell is growing up and is 12 now, and is still a drummer to be amazed by. Check out this cover of the song Caravan, from the movie “Whiplash” that was out and won some Oscars a few years ago.

Her skill level is just off the freaking charts.

**Finally today, a public service announcement for my fellow sports fanatics:


Check out this absolutely bananas finish in the Maine high school basketball playoffs last weekend. This is the ending of a game between Thornton Academy and Bonny Eagle, and I have no idea what those places are and neither do you, but holy was the last 20 seconds of this game bonkers.

Just wild, wild stuff. Sports!

A horrific, important piece of investigative journalism shines a light on the huge problem of child migrant labor in America. An NHL goalie scores a goal and it’s awesome and rare. And some hilarious, unfortunate signage near a crematorium in England.


There is so much going on in your world, my world, the whole world, at all times.

Our brains are flooded with news that’s important (the economy, the war in Ukraine, our planet melting) and much less important (sports scores, the celebrity news we can’t avoid, which neighbor is doing what to whom).

It’s hard sometimes to keep track of everything, and a huge problem can be occurring right around us that we’re not even aware of.

That’s where fantastic investigative journalism comes in. Hang on a moment while I step atop this soapbox here (I’m vertically challenged so it’s a large soapbox, so I can see everyone).

Newspapers have cut their staffs to the bone, hundreds of publications have folded, and the ones that haven’t often don’t have the time or money to do incredible work like I’m about to point you to. There are still some fantastic investigations being done, by websites, blogs and traditional papers, but far less than what you would’ve seen 30 years ago. So for as much malfeasance as we read about, there’s probably lots more going on.

Sunday in the New York Times, Hannah Dreier presented a year’s-long investigation she has done into migrant child labor in the U.S.

Some facts from Dreier’s story, in which she interviewed more than 100 migrant child workers in 20 states:

— Kids as young as 11 and 12 are coming here from Guatemala, then are forced to work incredibly long hours, often in unsafe conditions, all in factories or plants or slaughterhouses or places you and me frequent all the time.

— Thousands of kids are working overnight in dangerous factories for brands like Cheerios, Fruit of the Loom and Ford. They’re here alone and they’re being failed in the most basic way.

— These are 12 and 13-year-olds who pay rent, take on overtime, and rarely get a weekend off. They’re part of a shadow work force that has exploded since the pandemic.

–Child labor laws exist for a reason. They’re meant to keep kids safe. Migrant children are losing legs at meat plants and breaking their backs in falls. A dozen have died on the job.

— When children cross the border alone, they’re sent to Health and Human Services shelters. HHS is supposed to protect these kids from exploitation and release them only to trustworthy adults. But staff say they’ve been under huge pressure since 2021 to release kids more quickly

“In LA, children stitch “Made in America” tags on JCrew shirts. They bake dinner rolls sold at Walmart & Target, process milk used by Ben & Jerry’s, help debone chicken sold at Whole Foods, make auto parts used by Ford & GM.”

Another passage from the story:

“It was almost midnight in Grand Rapids, Mich., but inside the factory everything was bright. A conveyor belt carried bags of Cheerios past a cluster of young workers. One was 15-year-old Carolina Yoc, who came to the United States on her own last year to live with a relative she had never met.

About every 10 seconds, she stuffed a sealed plastic bag of cereal into a passing yellow carton. It could be dangerous work, with fast-moving pulleys and gears that had torn off fingers and ripped open a woman’s scalp.

The factory was full of underage workers like Carolina, who had crossed the Southern border by themselves and were now spending late hours bent over hazardous machinery, in violation of child labor laws. At nearby plants, other children were tending giant ovens to make Chewy and Nature Valley granola bars and packing bags of Lucky Charms and Cheetos — all of them working for the processing giant Hearthside Food Solutions, which would ship these products around the country.”

“Sometimes I get tired and feel sick,” Carolina said after a shift in November. Her stomach often hurt, and she was unsure if that was because of the lack of sleep, the stress from the incessant roar of the machines, or the worries she had for herself and her family in Guatemala. “But I’m getting used to it.”

I cannot urge you strongly enough to read this story. There ought to be a whole mess of Congressional investigations about this, and it’s not a problem easily solved. There aren’t enough capable sponsors for these kids, some of them absolutely need to work to send money back to their families in Central America, and corporations are always going to try to exploit cheap labor. Here’s some background on the problem as well.

Bravo to Hannah Dreier for bringing this horrific problem to light.

**OK, on to something lighter. It is extremely rare for a hockey goalie to get a chance to shoot the puck down to the other end and score a goal. Which is why hockey diehards like me got so excited Saturday night when Linus Ullmark of the Boston Bruins did it.

With the Canucks trailing 2-1, they pulled their goalie, and Ullmark, who’s having a spectacular season in net, shot a beautiful attempt down into the empty net.

As you might expect, the whole Bruins team went nuts. So, so cool. It’s only happened nine times in  NHL history.


**Finally today, I love a good bit of accidental signage from a business, and this one from Cornwall, England is a beauty.

From the newspaper in Cornwall:

“Burger giant McDonald’s has said it will remove a “tasteless” sign opposite a crematorium in Cornwall after the unfortunate coincidental placement was pointed out by CornwallLive. Although the advertising hoarding has caused hilarity among motorists who spot it on the busy A39, others fear it may upset grieving families.

The sign, advertising the fast food chain’s McCrispy burger, is right next to a crematorium sign and has been placed on a bus stop directly opposite Penmount Crematorium on the road between Truro and Carland Cross.

One woman, whose mother-in-law was cremated at the establishment last year, said: “Although I can see the funny side, it is tasteless and I’m sure some grieving family members won’t like to see it when visiting Penmount for the funeral and cremation of a loved one.”

All I can say is: HAHAHAHA. I mean, I’m sure it was unintentional, but putting a sign advertising something as “crispy” next to a place where, let’s just say, there are fires burning at all times, is pretty freaking awesome.

McDonald’s has replaced the sign with one for a company advertising to “get your local’s pass.” Not clear if that’s the crematorium’s way of offering coupons 🙂