Monthly Archives: October 2012

A hurricane like we’ve never seen here in NY: thoughts from a safe haven. And a cool video on making a Coke

I feel extremely lucky tonight. I am safe, I have water, and power, and cable, and all the usual amenities that I would normally have.

Others are so much worse off. Friends of mine are flooded out of their house; their cars and furniture ruined by Hurricane Sandy.

Millions more can’t get anywhere in New York and New Jersey, with subways, buses and trains all closed. The number of deaths is rising, with sadly many more to be likely “discovered” as conditions start to improve.

I’ve never seen anything like this, and I lived through eight hurricanes in my life, in North Carolina and Florida. There’s no words to express the devastation; the images on the news have been speaking for themselves.

You see videos like this (bel0w) that scare the bejeezus out of you, and realize that it could be weeks and months before the full damage of this storm is known.

Some other thoughts on the storm from your humble blogger, who feels extremely fortunate tonight:
— Every report on the news seems to bring more tragedy, but I can’t stop watching. The areas of Brooklyn, and lower Manhattan, that have been totally flooded out, makes me wonder when those people will get their lives back.

— I don’t know if it’s more heroic or crazy, but the reporters who’ve been covering the storm have been doing an amazing job. The Weather Channel folks in particular are great (and I did get a perverse giggle out of one of the weather reporters with fluffy hair (I think it was on Channel 4) having his hair bounce up and down in the strong winds. High comedy.

–One of the more frightening things Monday was that NYU-Langone Medical Center had to be evacuated when its power went out and the backup generator failed. David Remnick of “The New Yorker” has a beautiful story up following one patient and her evacuation from the hospital. Heroes all around in this story.
— On a lighter note, it continues to amaze me how Mike Bloomberg can be mayor New York City for the past 11 years, and still have a Boston accent. Isn’t he around NY’ers like, all day long, every day?

— Chris Christie is getting kudos all over the Internet today for his leadership, his praising of President Obama’s help, and his “I don’t give a damn about Mitt Romney” answer to Fox News when they asked about the GOP nominee. Christie, like Rudy Giuliani before him, is great in a crisis, because he can be a bully and talk straight and take no b.s. It’s the rest of the time that they’re arrogant buffoons. Just a reminder.

— I have no idea how many kids in New York and Jersey will get to experience Halloween Wednesday. Sucks that all the planning and costumes from the little ones will go to waste.

**OK, I went looking for something non-Sandy related to make me smile Tuesday and found this: Some engineers figured out the best way to share a Coke.

They’re a little high-energy, but pretty entertaining.

Hurricane Sandy bearing down on the East Coast; I’ve got bread and water so I’m good. The Jets… oy. And Mitt, lying ever more brazenly

For the first time in my life, there’s a hurricane named after my mother.
But I’m pretty sure she’s never gone 75 miles per hour in her life (even when we were late for school in the car pool), like the winds that are going to whip through New York and up and down the East Coast Monday.
Man, this is going to be one hell of a storm. There’s been talk of nothing else all weekend here in my corner of the world. Bread and water and gasoline and you name it, all stocked up.

Personally, I’m feeling pretty safe. It’s not like I can really go anywhere in Manhattan Monday; the subway, the trains, all of it, shut down completely.

They’re calling it the biggest tropical cyclone in history, so this could be quite a bit worse than Irene last year, which was pretty bad for Connecticut and other parts.
Hurricanes used to seem fun as a kid; then I moved to North Carolina and saw how devastating they can be.

I hope if you’re reading this on the East Coast, that’s a good sign you’ve still got electricity. Stay safe, my friends. Just ride out and hopefully by Tuesday night, we’ll all be getting ready to eat lots of candy and try to figure out why everyone went as Taylor Swift or a vampire for Halloween.

Final hurricane thought: Can you imagine if this storm hit a week later, on Election Day? Mass chaos.

**Not much to say about the Jets’ pathetic showing on Sunday, which would’ve had to have improved by a lot to really be called “pathetic.” A couple short thoughts, since I got my venting out hours ago during the game.

— There’s really never going to be a time where Rex Ryan benches Mark Sanchez. If it didn’t happen Sunday (and I know it wasn’t all his fault, but he was bad), with a dull, lifeless team getting blown out at home by the Dolphins, it’s not going to happen at all.

— I’m not there yet, but almost to a point where I hope they lose the rest of their games so they can get a high draft pick and start over with a new QB. I don’t think owner Woody Johnson is going to fire Rex and GM Mike Tannenbaum yet, but man he ought to start thinking about it.

— I am so sick and tired of these unlikable Jets players and their attitude and their woofing. Freaking disgusts me how much a 3-5 team talks shit to the other team.

Other, happier NFL thoughts from Sunday…

— My poor soon-to-be father-in-law nearly had a stroke watching the Giants-Cowboys (I was there with him; I should’ve had a blood-pressure machine hooked up to him, at least). Giants go up 23-0 when Tony Romo did his best Mark Sanchez impression. Then the ‘Boys storm back to go up 24-23, only for th Giants to re-take the lead 29-24.

Followed by the Cowboys scoring on a quasi-Hail Mary with six seconds left… that was overturned by replay and ruled incomplete. What a nuts game, but the Giants always seem to win them.

 I know the Saints’ defense stinks, but anyone out there still have doubts about how good Peyton Manning is?
— Crazy finish to that Bears game. Carolina is coming up with new ways to lose every week.
— I think Andy Reid will finally be shown the door in Philly after this year. His team played a dog of a game Sunday (and yes, that’s a reference for you, Mr. Vick).


**Mitt Romney is getting more and more desperate. The election is only a week away, he’s going to lose this race, and so he and his team are just flinging more and more bullshit at the wall in the hopes that somehow, it will stick.

His latest complete fabrication? While talking to a group in Ohio, he said that Chrysler is closing down its Jeep plant in Toledo and moving all Jeep manufacturing to China.

Completely, 100 percent not true, as Chrysler pointed out in this blog post immediately after Romney said it.

It’s one thing to scare the hell out of voters about what “the other guy” will do. It’s another to basically tell thousands of Ohioans that they’re about to be fired.

Ah, the last desperate breaths of a desperate campaign.

The Atlanta Hawks pay your tolls. Tom Hanks with a slam poem about “Full House.” And Tecmo Bowl gets the NFL Films treatment

We start Good News Friday with a tale of an entire pro basketball team doing something nice.

Sure, you could say this was a publicity stunt, but it was still pretty cool.
From 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. on Wednesday morning, the Atlanta Hawks paid everyone’s tolls on Georgia State route 400.

Yep, everyone’s 50-cent fare was picked up, going both ways, and the mascot (above) was even on hand to hand out schedules.

Course, if I’m a Hawks fan, I might’ve asked “I’ll spend the 50 cents, you think maybe you can use that money to get some decent players? I mean, have you seen our roster?”

**Tom Hanks will do just about anything; he’s reached a level of fame where no matter what he does, his reputation is Master Lock-safe.

So sure, he cursed on “Good Morning America,” last week, but this is way better. On “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” the other night, America’s favorite actor did a slam poem about the show “Full House.” As bizarre and hilarious as you can imagine it would be.

**Finally, I am so looking forward to this. If you’re anywhere between 25-40 and were into sports video games as a kid, you probably loved Tecmo Bowl. It was the greatest sports game ever on Nintendo (slightly edging RBI Baseball, in my opinion). Bo Jackson was unstoppable as a running back, Lawrence Taylor equally unstoppable on defense, and trying to win

The 30-minute NFL Films look at Tecmo Bowl airs today at 4:30 p.m. and Saturday at 1:30 p.m. on NFL Network.  My DVR is already set.

Amazing they never could just gang-tackle that Bo Jackson fella.

Another GOP Senate candidate talks offensively about rape. “Parenthood” hitting its groove again. And a time-lapse video to take your breath away

Scattered thoughts on a Thursday while wondering if San Francisco Giants hitter Pablo Sandoval (homers in first three at-bats in World Series Game 1 Wednesday) ever dreamt anything that crazy when he was a kid). And check out the kids in the top row of this great photo of Obama Wednesday.

It’s truly amazing how many times during this election season a Republican politician has gotten into trouble talking about rape.
There was, of course, Todd Akin of Missouri. Linda McMahon in Connecticut, too. (Here’s a handy if frightening guide to all the different “kinds of rape” the GOP feels there is.)
Now there’s Richard Mourdock, a Republican Senate candidate in Indiana who’s locked in a tight race with Democrat Joe Donnelly. During a debate Tuesday night, Mourdock was talking about abortion. Given the previous missteps of high-profile Republicans this year, you’d think he’d be smart enough to be careful with what he said.

But nope.

This is what Mourdock said Tuesday: “The only exception I have to have an abortion is in that case of the life of the mother,” Mourdock said. “I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God and I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape that it is something God intended to happen.”

Disgusting and abhorrent. This man shouldn’t get withing 500 yards of a woman’s right to choose, and his absolute pathetic insinuation that it’s God’s will that a raped woman has a child ought to shame him for 100 years.

But here’s my question: Why, why, why do these politicians even go NEAR the subject of rape? Given their position, there is no good answer, whatsoever. You’d think a party that tap-dances around so much else would figure out a way to avoid this landmine.

But nope, into the trap door of his own mouth Richard Mourdock goes. Just awful.

**Some videos are just too beautiful for words. Watch this Reid Gower time lapse called “Natural Phenomena” and be amazed at the natural beauty in the world.

**Time for one of my semi-regular “Parenthood” raves, which I know my two friends who are huge fans of the show, April and Jenn, will enjoy.

Sometimes I’m mad at the show, but lately it’s been really good, and Tuesday night’s was excellent. Some scattered questions/thoughts…

— Peter Krause is an exceptional actor, everything he’s ever been in he’s been good at (I still miss “Dirty Sexy Money.”). Adam and Kristina are carrying the show right now, and the breast cancer storyline has really been great and very realistic. I think the show always has stuff happen to Adam and Kristina because Krause is the best actor on the show and they just want to give him stuff to do.

— To quote my delightful father during this episode, “Lauren Graham (Sarah Braverman) is the worst mother in the history of the world.” Not sure I’d go that far, but yeah.
She kisses Ray Romano while engaged to Mr. Cyr, then panics and moves in with Cyr and schleps her poor son Drew, midway through his senior year of high school, in with the fiancee who we just know she isn’t going to marry.
She has been a consistently terrible mother for just about the whole run of the show. Hell, Lorelai Gilmore was better than her and she got knocked up at 16.

— That scene with Crosby and Jabbar praying was adorable, especially when Jabbar, upon hearing Crosby tell God about Kristina’s cancer, says “Oh, he knows that already.”

— My fiancee brought up a really good point: Kristina’s going through breast cancer surgery, yet her family is nowhere to be found, anywhere. As far as we know, she and Joel have no parents or siblings; only Braverman family members can be shown.

— You just knew Jason Katims (the brains behind “Parenthood”) wasn’t going to embarrass Max during his speech for student council. It was warm and moving and just a great little scene, especially Haddie’s reaction.
— Have to steal this comment from a message board post I read about “Parenthood” tonight, and it will only make sense to other “Friday Night Lights” fanatics:
” Last season Haddie went out with Vince Howard. This season Amber is going out with Luke Cafferty. I look forward to next season’s arc, when Sydney goes out with Tinker.”


“Argo” as good as the hype says it is. Halloween lights, Gangnam style. And ESPN’s “Benji” a doc worth your time.

It’s pretty rare that a movie puts you literally on the edge of your seat in the final 15 minutes, and you really don’t know how it’s going to end.
Even more rare when it’s based on a true story.
But I saw “Argo” over the weekend, and it was pretty freaking fabulous. There are so many movies you see after hearing good reviews, and they’re just OK.

But “Argo” lives up to they hype it’s gotten. The script is terrific, the acting and cast are splendid (Ben Affleck’s the star, but John Goodman, Alan Arkin, Bryan Cranston and a sadly-underused Kyle Chandler are all first-rate), and the plot is too incredible to make up: During the 1979 Iran hostage crisis, a CIA team concocts a story to rescue six U.S. citizens who had escaped on the first day of the crisis and have been hiding in the Canadian embassy.

Their plan? Pretend to be a film crew scouting locations in Iran.
The movie (and the reality) sets this up brilliantly, creating a fake studio, fake script, and fake business cards for the hostages.

Ben Affleck, who’s turning out to be a hell of a director, is the CIA agent who’s the mastermind behind the plan. He does a great job as a director here letting the plot unspool slowly, and giving each of the six hostages a distinct identity.

The final 20 minutes, as the plan unfurls and the hostages go to the airport, is just a terrific piece of filmmaking. I highly, highly recommend you go see this movie.

All three of the flicks Affleck has directed have been stellar. Who knew Banky’s roommate from “Chasing Amy” was this good?

**I have tried as hard as I could to avoid the Gangnam-style craze, because I frankly don’t get why people think it’s so funny and cool. But a few things have slipped through my radar, and this seemed pretty darn cool.

Psy’s famous song set to Halloween light decorations. Kind of mesmerizing if you watch it closely…

**Finally, ESPN’s “30 for 30” documentary series, which I wrote about extensively last year, is once again proving to be must-see TV. The first few episodes this year, especially the Ben Johnson 1988 Olympics one (*9.79, it’s called) have been terrific.

But Tuesday night’s was just beautiful and heartbreaking. It’s called “Benji,” and it’s about a former high school basketball star named Ben Wilson, who in 1984 was the No. 1 player in the nation. Out of Chicago’s famous Simeon High program, Wilson was a 6-foot-8 kid who could shoot, pass, and defend as well as anybody. (“He was Magic Johnson with a jump shot,” someone said in the film.)

He had survived and avoided the gangs and street life of Chicago until one day in November of 1984, when on the eve of his senior season, he was killed in a mugging attempt by two teenage hoodlums.

The movie takes you back to that time in Chicago, and shows you Wilson’s impact still today (NBA star Derrick Rose wore his uniform No. in high school, and Fab Five member Juwan Howard chose No. 25 when he got to college).

It’s a really well-researched and well-done movie, with the benefit of one of the convicted killers telling his side of the story as well.

It’s on again tonight at 9 p.m. on ESPN. Skip the World Series for 90 minutes; this is definitely worth it.

Mitt wants to be just like Barack. A compilation of great “Sportscenter” ads. And “Homeland,” holy bleep was it good

And now, there’s nothing left except the voting.
For the second straight presidential debate, Barack Obama wiped the floor with Mitt Romney, a man who continues to set new standards for lying and shape-shifting in a human being.
All night Monday I was looking at Romney’s blather about how Obama was right about Afghanistan, about how Romney believes in teachers (how the hell that came up in a foreign policy debate, I’ll never know), and how as President Mitt will “get tougher” with China and Iran, and I simply marveled at how quickly and easily he’s forgotten about all his previous positions on this issue.

I thought Obama was confident, clear, and did a good job reminding voters that what Romney is saying now isn’t what he’s said before (he was particularly good talking about Romney’s stances on Detroit and Afghanistan).

I thought Bob Schieffer did a poor job as moderator, not including nearly enough topics besides the Middle East (Mexican drug war, anyone? European economic crisis, anyone?) and not asking any follow-up questions. After him and Lehrer, I think only women should moderate presidential debates.

And Obama had the slam-dunk rebuttal to Romney’s worrying about our Navy being smaller than it was in 1917:

Look, the fact that this election is going to be close now is all because the President failed to show up for the first debate. I still have complete confidence that at the end of the day, people will see the 37 different versions of Mittens and not know which one would be sitting in the Oval Office every day, and they won’t vote for him.

Two weeks left. I think Obama has done enough. And Mitt, if you feel like agreeing with Obama as much as you did last night, I’m sure there’s a place for you in the next Cabinet.

*If you’re a sports fan at all, you’ve probably seen the brilliant “This is Sportscenter” ad campaign that ESPN has been running for the last 15 years or so. They always make me laugh and shake my head at their cleverness; even the bad ones are pretty good.

Someone with too much time on their hands has put together this compilation of some of the best ads. My favorites? The ones at 1:27 at 11:05.

**Finally, “Homeland.” I run out of adjectives to describe how great this show is; after the amazing final 10 minutes of Sunday’s episode, I just kept mouthing “holy shit, holy shit, holy shit!” at the incredible final two scenes.

First of all, how crazy is Carrie for doing what she did, basically blowing an undercover mission to see exactly who Brody is associated with, just because she’s unstable and is obsessed with him? When she screamed “I loved you,” you saw just how fragile of a person she was, and still is. I also can’t believe Saul and the new CIA guy Peter didn’t have Virgil or someone else stop Carrie when they saw her going to the elevator, up to Brody’s room.

Clare Danes is so terrific in this role; if every scene in “Homeland” was just her and Damien Lewis, I’d be happy.

I thought this was yet another really strong episode, though I can’t believe how fast they’re moving. I thought we’d at least see a few shows of Brody and the CIA circling each other, and now thanks to Carrie’s recklessness, the CIA only has the suicide tape with which to go after Brody.

Also, how cool was that scene between the teenagers at the Washington Monument? Man, the perks of being the VP’s kid.

I survive my 10K quite well, with all muscles intact. The Jets lose a heartbreaker but I am OK with it. And Shaq sings Prince

My moment of triumph arrived at around 10:45 a.m. Saturday, and I didn’t want to blow it.
For the past hour and 15 minutes, I had alternately sprinted, jogged, and for a brief minute, walked during the Run for the Warriors 10k in Lindenhurst, on Long Island.
My first 10k ever was a whole lot of fun. The course, through the town of Lindenhurst, was pretty except for the part where we ran on Sunrise Highway, a major road that was closed for us but still felt a little weird to be running on.

My first two miles were pretty fast by my standards, I slowed down a bit around mile three (halfway through), paired up with a nice woman named Mary who paced me through the 4 1/2 mile mark, then I got a burst of speed and caught up with a guy named Rob, and he and I ran to the finish.
My goals for this race were simple: I wanted to finish. I wanted to come in under 1 hour, 20 minutes. And I didn’t want to finish last.

I’m happy to say I didn’t, which is why I look so happy in the above photo. Fifteen people finished behind me (OK, out of 322, and two people in their 70’s kicked my butt, but still…), as I clocked in at 1:18.22.

My family was there to greet me at the finish line, which was awesome. I actually didn’t feel too sore Sunday, which made me feel good since my training clearly has made me stronger.

But most importantly, thanks to the generosity of readers, friends and family, I raised $725 for the Hope for the Warriors charity, an excellent cause.
My next goal? A much faster 10k in the early spring, and then, hopefully a half-marathon next fall.
Now that I’ve caught this running bug, I gotta keep going.

**I had a strange feeling after watching yet another Jets-Patriots classic Sunday, when my boys came from 10 points down in the second half to take the lead, only to blow that and lose in overtime, 29-26.
I was mad, and disappointed, but also, strangely… encouraged. Maybe it’s because I’ve so dramatically lowered my expectations for this team this year, or because I’m overestimating the Pats, but I thought there were lots to be pleased about with how the Jets played.
So despite being angry at more asinine playcalling (3rd and goal from the 1 in the third quarter, you’ve been running it down their throats, and you don’t use Tebow but call a slant pass?), and at Stephen Hill’s big drop, and Sanchez again failing to secure the ball on the game-changing fumble, I also saw…

–Sanchez play beautifully in the second half. Man, where is that guy most of the time? A couple of those drives in the second half, especially when he zipped the TD in to Dustin Keller, were just fabulous displays of passing. I still want to start over with a fresh QB next year, but man, he’s got some talent.
— Glad to see they finally, finally used Joe McKnight in the running game a little bit. I just hope he’s not too banged up because we need him next week, too.
— The defense really stepped up, tackling well and harassing Brady at times. Again, maybe the Pats aren’t that good (and they sure seemed out of sync in the 2nd half on offense), but the Jets D played a terrific game.

A couple other quick-hit NFL thoughts on another wild Sunday:
 Robert Griffin III. Man, if he could cut down on those turnovers,  he’d be just about perfect. What an incredible athlete. He’s moving the position of QB forward, he really is.
— Then again, the Redskins did lose. Eli Manning is uncanny; he made an awful throw for a pick, then five minutes later with his team down, he throws a beautiful pass to Victor Cruz on a bomb for a TD.
— The Tampa-New Orleans game was one of the bar’s TV’s where I was at (there are apparently three huge Bucs fans in New York City and all sat next to me) and it was a hell of a game. Drew Brees is pretty damn good. Those hold throwback Bucs creamsicle jerseys, though? Burn ’em all.
— Finally, there are only three teams in the AFC with winning records. Am I nuts to think the Jets could make the playoffs at 8-8?

**As a karaoke singer and mangler of great songs myself, I have to sometimes acknowledge the “greatness” of other bad singers. So this made me laugh: The great Shaquille O’Neal, singing the Prince classic, “When Doves Cry.”

Say this about Shaq: Man’s not ashamed to make a fool of himself in public.

Good News Friday: A Houston “veterans court” helps soldiers immensely. My 10k has finally arrived. And a school in Mass. believes in lots of phys. ed!

As you might imagine, transitioning back to civilian life for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan has been difficult.
Physical, emotional and psychological tolls have led many vets down wayward paths they never would’ve considered before.

Seeing hundreds upon hundreds of vets going to prison every month, a unique “court” program in Houston started up and is doing some remarkable work, getting vets off drugs, into work programs, and most importantly, trying to heal their heads.

This is a really uplifting story that shows what can happen if we don’t just lock everyone up.

**The good news is, my long-trained for 10k run, to benefit the great Hope for the Warriors charity, has finally arrived. So I can finally stop training, which my calves and ankles will most certainly appreciate (they’ll send me a thank-you note in a few days once they stop aching).

The bad news, now I have to actually run 6.2 miles Saturday morning.
I actually feel pretty good about where I’m at, endurance-wise. I’ve been able to run between 5-5.5 miles three times a week for the past 3-4 weeks, so I have no doubt I’ll be able to finish.
I’m just hoping for a decent time; I run around 13-minute miles (pathetic, I know; all serious runners are laughing at me) so I’m hoping to finish in 1:20 or so, but as long as I’m under 1:30, I’ll be happy.

Can’t wait to actually be on a course with other runners, after running in solitary for a while. And I also can’t wait to do that cool runners thing of throwing my arms up in the air when I cross the finish line (OK, I know that’s not cool, but I’m doing it anyway, dammit.)

As long as Saturday goes OK, my next goal is a half-marathon, which is of course twice as long as a 10k, next fall.

Upon hearing said goal, my entire lower body just said “no thanks.”

**Finally, while we’re on the subject of running around, I can’t applaud enough the efforts of the South Lawrence Fifth Grade Academy in Massachusetts. What the district has done is expand the school day to eight hours, but include three physical education periods for all students, as a break between learning sessions.

There have been numerous reports (one of which found here in the “Only a Game” NPR story that brought South Lawrence to my attention) that say physical activity helps kids learn.
Also, in case you haven’t noticed, our kids are getting fatter and more and more schools are cutting recess and gym classes.
I hope South Lawrence’s model catches on, and fast.

A great Colbert spoof on Paul Ryan. The Atari 2600 turns 35 years old. And a Greek soccer team gets sponsored by a brothel

**Still laughing as I write this at Wednesday night’s “Modern Family.” Man that show brings the funny every week. My favorite line tonight? “What are you, a flapper? And where did you get that shirt, Forever 1921?”

I have been remiss in not writing about the fine work being done by Stephen Colbert lately. But this bit about Paul Ryan’s volunteer work at a soup kitchen, and the new “charity” Colbert is starting for him, had me in stitches.

Man, how do you screw up a photo op at a soup kitchen? Hard to do.

**It’s appropriate that one of my best friends from childhood, Marc, sent me the following story, since he and I spent hours upon hours of our childhood playing the subject of the story.

This week, the Atari 2600 celebrated its 35th birthday. I literally remember the first day my parents bought one for my sister and I, and we gathered around the new color TV to play “Combat,” “Space Invaders,” and the other awesome games.
The hours I spent in the basement trying to master “Kaboom,” kicking the computer’s butt in Activision Ice Hockey, and shooting down planes in “River Raid” were some of my happiest childhood memories.

(Of course, then there was the day when my mother unplugged the “Asteroids” game I was getting my all-time high score on, just because the school bus was outside honking. Like missing one day of school woulda killed me. I flipped the board three times, for heaven’s sakes!)

This story commemorating the anniversary of the revolutionary game system had a ton of interesting facts in it; if you had an Atari, I predict you’ll enjoy (and how great is the button that allows you to say whether you have a color or b/w TV?

**Finally, a hat tip to my friend Will for this delightful story. We all know the Greece economy is in the crapper, but it’s gotten so bad for sports teams there that a soccer squad has taken to having a brothel sponsor them.

Yep, the Voukefalas team now wears jerseys embroidered with “Villa Erotica” and “Soula’s House of History,” two bordellos it recruited as sponsors after drastic government spending cuts left the country’s sports clubs facing ruin.

Hey, you gotta do what you’ve gotta do. I can only imagine that their victory after-parties are the hottest ticket in town.

And hey, where better to shrug off the disappointment of a loss than with one of the finest women in Greece, who’s paid to make you happy?

I see this catching on in America. How long until we see the “Scores” New York Knicks, or the “Cathouse” UNLV Rebels?

Obama gets his mojo back in the debate. A haunting “Moth” story from the West Memphis 3. And a sick 4-year-old tries to meet Justin Bieber

Well hot damn and pass the popcorn, that was a hell of a lot better, Mr. President.

In Debate No. 2 of the presidential debate trilogy of ’12, both candidates actually showed up this time. And Barack Obama kicked some serious tushy. The President was feisty, he was aggressive, challenging Mitt Romney on so many lies and changes from his stated positions.
I thought Romney was aggressive too, and pushy, and interrupting of Candy Crowley and the President, and to me, while the Libya stuff (above) was clearly hugely important and a big blow to Romney, two other moments stood out even more:

1. When Romney interrupted Obama and said “You’ll get your chance in a moment, I’m still speaking,” it spoke volumes to the kind of bully Mitt Romney is. I really thought the two might come to blows during that exchange; (watch it here; Romney speaks the line I’m talking about at 1:40.) I really thought they might come to blows about 15 minutes in, and sadly, it’s big for Obama with white male voters that he stood up to Romney like that.

2. The other big moment I thought was very early in the debate, when Obama called out Romney’s economic numbers and said the math didn’t add up. (When Candy Crowley, who I thought did a pretty good job as moderator, asked about the numbers, Romney dismissed her, saying “Of course the numbers add up!”) It was exceedingly important for Obama to stand up and call Romney out on his lies.

Other quick takeaways:
— I thought Romney had a great shot to humanize himself at the end with that softball question about “what’s the biggest misperception about you?” and turned it into an attack on Obama.
— Man, I cringed when Obama talked about W., and basically praised him for not being as far right as Romney. Still too soon for me to think any positive thoughts, at all, about W.
— Great to see a gun control question get asked (but of course still nothing on climate change, or stem cell research). But as usual, both Romney and Obama wimped out. Politicians are so disgustingly afraid of the NRA and gun owners, it’s sad.

I have no idea if Obama will get a big poll bounce after this, but he did all he could do to erase the stench of the first debate. Tonight, I was proud to have voted for him and supported him.

**Every once in a while a story from “The Moth” radio podcast I listen to moves me so much I want to share it here.
Damien Echols is a member of the infamous “West Memphis 3,” the three teenagers who were wrongfully convicted of a 1993 murder, Echols was sentenced to death, but was released from jail in 2011 when new evidence finally cleared the men.

Echols, who has a new book out now, told his story at “The Moth” recently, and it was incredibly powerful. Listen to it here. or on iTunes.

**Finally, I thought this was pretty cool. A school in Wisconsin is trying to help a 4-year-old girl named Hailey Charlotte Roser, who is sick with a rare brain tumor, meet Justin Bieber when he comes to Milwaukee for a concer this weekend. So they made this very cool video to one of Bieber’s songs.

I hope someone shows this to Bieber and he makes this girl’s life just a tiny bit happier.