Monthly Archives: January 2013

A great article on why we need to save the post office. A beautiful new Disney animated short. And the robbery foiled by the getaway donkey

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Chances are you don’t think about the U.S. Postal Service very much.
But I do. I think it’s a small miracle that I can drop off a letter here in New York City, put a 45-cent stamp on it, and have a friend in California get it three days later.
I think it’s a small miracle that every single person in the U.S. can get mail, no matter how far from civilization they live. And I think it’s a small miracle that something we take for granted, that’s always there for us, has survived some incredible neglect from the government.

In case you haven’t heard, the U.S. Post Office is basically broke. Due to a variety of factors, we are only a few months away from having the post office go bankrupt. I think it’s amazing how little respect the post office gets, from average citizens to politicians.
I got more and more angry reading this wonderful story by Jesse Lichtenstein in this month’s Esquire magazine. He goes behind the scenes to explain how crippling “future” health care benefit costs to employees has wounded the agency, as well as having its hands tied on raising rates and other decisions.

He also does a terrific job showing us, literally, how mail gets from one side of the country to another. I learned an awful lot in this article, but mostly it reaffirmed how cool of a thing it is that we have a post office that does so much, with so little cost from us.

Read this story and I promise you’ll come away with a new appreciation for the man or woman bringing you your electric bill (and your Victoria’s Secret catalog) every day.

The animation people at Disney and Pixar never fail to amaze me. Check out this new technique they’re using, combining hand-drawn animation and computer-generated images. This is a beautiful six-minute short that I thought was just perfect.

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**You know, you plan a robbery and you think you’ve got everything covered. You give each member of the theft crew a job, you make sure the employees of the store are taken care of, and you keep everyone away from the alarm.

But what you don’t plan on is always what gets you. And these three burglars in Columbia just didn’t count on their getaway donkey foiling the caper.

Yes that’s right, their mode of escape was a getaway donkey. Seems the ass (sorry, too easy) started braying really loudly while his human companions loaded their loot onto the donkey, and his incredible noise alerted police to what was going on. The robbers had to flee the scene, leaving their food and donkey behind.

And the donkey, who delightfully was stolen 12 hours before the robbery by clearly the Moe, Larry and Curly of Central America, was then held in a police station.

Obviously, the police thought he might crack under pressure. As an incentive, they showed him a DVD of “Shrek” and fed him lots and lots of grass (OK, I made that last part up. But the rest of it was real).

Why we shouldn’t forget Ray Lewis took part in a murder. Another awesome “SportsCenter” commercial (with Muppets!). And the game of “tag” that’s lasted 23 years

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As I’m sure most sports fans are, I’m just about sick of Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis.
I’m sick of him being on TV every five seconds, I’m sick of his bleating about how “the Lord has saved him,” and mostly, I’m sick of how SO many in the sports media over the past week, since Lewis and the Ravens earned a trip to this Sunday’s Super Bowl, seem to gloss over the fact that 13 years ago in Atlanta, Lewis was heavily involved in the murder of two people.

Their names were Richard Lollar and Jacinth Baker.

Lewis was never convicted of murder; he cut a deal with prosecutors to testify against two other men, and Lewis was found guilty only of obstruction of justice. He was suspended for four games by the NFL and fined $250,000, and the murders remain unsolved.

This incident should be a permanent stain on Lewis’ character, and yet it hardly ever got talked about in recent years. Now some hairsprays on TV refer to it as Lewis’ “bump in the road” or “his incident.”

Ravens fans love and worship the guy; hell one of my soon-to-be-cousins named his pug pictured above “Ray Ray,” for God’s sakes.

But it should not be forgotten what Lewis did, and why he has never explained his behavior, or what happened that night.

We need to hear from the victims, and Tim Graham of The Buffalo News has written a fabulous story telling their side of the case.

Listen to Master Lollar, Richard’s brother, talk about Lewis and you know that unlike for millions of others who worship Lewis, they will never forget what happened 13 years ago.

“He’s Satan in human form, a person that is so evil,” Master Lollar said of Lewis. “I can barely see a person wearing his jersey.
“You know what I wish? One time in my life, me and him would have a talk. I want to ask him how it feels. I never helped somebody get away with murder. How does that feel? Do you care? Or did you do it just to protect your fame?”

**And now, another brilliant commercial in the “This is SportsCenter” series; these have been going on for years and they continue to be really, really funny.

This recent one had the added awesomeness of starring the Swedish Chef from “The Muppets,” and the best goaltender in the world, the New York Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist, who oh by the way is Swedish. Enjoy…

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**Finally, my smart and funny friend April pointed me to this story Tuesday; I’m not sure if it’s awesomely cool or kinda sad. But nine friends from Spokane, Washington have this bizarre tradition: Every February, for one month, they continue a game of tag they first started as children 25 years ago.

They fly all over the country to “tag” each other, and enlist their friends, wives and often total strangers to help them not be branded as “It” for another year.

You may say it’s nuts (read the story for the bizarre lengths these guys to go to), but you have to admit: It’s not the craziest thing men do in the name of “male bonding.” The craziest thing, to me, is going out in the woods and shooting animals for sport.But hey, that’s just me.

“Zero Dark Thirty” is fabulous, and shows torture doesn’t really work. An awesome “South Park” correction. And an incredible high school basketball shot

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I saw “Zero Dark Thirty” on Sunday.

Never have I been in a quieter movie theater. Every single person watching it was pretty much silent throughout the 2 1/2 hour running time, and when it was over, most of us stood up slowly, still wrapped up in Katherine Bigelow’s extraordinary film.

You’ve probably heard a lot about this movie, and much of it from people who haven’t even seen it. So let me dispel a few myths you might have, before I urge to definitely see it:

— It’s not a documentary, and should not be viewed as one. Yes, it’s based on real events, and real scenes of interrogation and torture as the CIA spent eight years hunting for Osama bin Laden. But so many people have politicized it and searched for deeper meaning and a point of view. It’s a movie, people.
— Contrary to what you may have heard, it does not in any way endorse torture as the reason Osama was eventually found. Torture was shown to not work in this movie, clearly. This is NOT a pro-torture movie. Without giving too much away, I frankly cannot understand how so many reviewers seem to see “ZDT” as an endorsement of torture’s effectiveness.
— If you’re squeamish about seeing it because of the torture scenes, not to worry. They’re brief and contained to the first half-hour of the film, and while they’re disturbing, they are vital to the plot and the reality of what went on.
— The final 45 minutes, when the raid on bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan is shown, through the grainy color of green night-vision goggles, is as thrilling as any action scene you will watch. Just tremendous acting and directing.

I know a lot of people still don’t think America tortured possible terrorists, who think “waterboarding” and “enhanced interrogation” were necessary in the war on terror. I vehemently disagree with those people, and I defy them to watch “Zero Dark Thirty” and not be faced with the reality that the U.S. committed terrible war crimes, and that all that torture didn’t really accomplish much, except stain our reputation in the world.

See “Zero Dark Thirty.” It’s an important, gripping film that doesn’t shy away from scary truths about who we are.

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**I’m not a big “South Park” fan; watched a few episodes the first season, thought it was mildly funny, and even though a ton of smart people I know swear by the show, it’s just never been for me.

I am, however as you know, a huge fan of entertaining newspaper corrections, and this one, from a David Carr story in the New York Times, absolutely cracked me up.
Here goes:

“An earlier version of this column misstated a plot point in “South Park.” While the character Kenny was once killed in every episode, that is no longer the case. The earlier version also misstated the circumstances of his repeated deaths. While he has met his fate in a variety of ways over the years, he was not routinely “ritually sacrificed.”

Well, glad we cleared THAT up.

**Finally, check this out: Bracken Barga, a 5-foot-8 guard from Monroe Central (Ind.) High School, did something pretty amazing the other night in a high school basketball game. It doesn’t look possible, but it’s real and has been verified by people at the game.

Way to go, kid. And can you teach me how you did that?

Djokovic powers through to another Aussie Open title. Harry Reid disgusts me yet again. And an awesome NHL goal celebration.

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One of the many, many awesome things about being a tennis fan in 2013 is that the Golden Age we’ve been since about 2008 or so shows no signs of slowing down.
The storyline just changes a little. Where once it was Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal towering above all, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray creeped into the picture, and the four of them have raised the sport I love most to an un-Godly level.
And as the Federer-Nadal rivalry has dissipated, because of injuries and age, we’re so lucky to have two guy born within days of each other to carry us throug, and be the new pre-eminent rivalry.

Djokovic and Murray have already played some classics in the last two years, and it looked like Sunday’s Aussie Open final would be another. They traded tiebreak wins for the first two sets, but Djokovic (my 2nd favorite player behind Fed) ran away with the match in four sets.

He’s just so hard to beat when he’s defending like he did Sunday; Djokovic is truly the best defender I’ve ever seen, retrieving balls he has no business getting to. I thought Murray played pretty well, but couldn’t hit enough winners, or enough first serves, to hang in there.

As for my man Federer, no shame for him this tournament, going out in 5 sets to Murray in the semis. Roger is far from done.
It was really a great Aussie Open; I should’ve blogged about it more. We got a new American star on the women’s side (Sloane Stephens is fantastic), some great matches on the men’s side throughout the two weeks, and ESPN even gave us some good announcing with Chris Fowler and Patty McEnroe actually shutting up once in a while and letting the match breathe (Pam Shriver, Cliff Drysdale and Mary Joe Fernandez would not shut the hell up for even a second during the Serena-Stephens match, and it was highly annoying)

Love that the tennis year is underway. Can’t wait till the French Open in May, when Rafa will be back and healthy and ready to defend his crown.

For a really good column on Sunday’s match, check out Jason Gay’s Wall Street Journal piece here.

**Nail Yakupov of the Edmonton Oilers is 19 years old, and has major, major potential. In his third NHL game Thursday night, he scored a game-tying goal, batting the puck out of mid-air, with only five seconds left.

He then enjoyed one of the best NHL goal celebrations in years. I loved it; I wish more players would react like this when they score.

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**And finally, a few words of disgust for the Senate Majority Leader, Mr. Harry Reid, who is a Democrat that consistently continues to let down those in his party, but being a spineless, compromising, collapsing jellyfish of a man.

Late last week, without much fanfare in the press, Reid completely folded in negotiations about ending or reforming the filibuster. The filibuster, if you are not aware, is the process by which the minority party in the Senate can block legislation from coming to a vote. In the old days, Senators had to actually stand on the floor of the Senate and talk and talk and talk for as long as they wanted to filibuster (like Jimmy Stewart in the classic “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”

Now, a filibuster is incredibly simple; a minority party Senator simply and often anonymously says he wants to filibuster something, and poof! there goes the legislation.
It’s why a majority seemingly must have 60 votes now to do anything, and it’s yet another sign of dysfunction in Washington.

So last year, at the urging of some real Dems in the Senate, Reid decided that filibuster reform would be a big deal in 2013. He was in a strong negotiating position, his party just won the White House again, and the GOP was wounded.

And yet, Harry Do-Nothing Reid got just about ZERO reform done. He caved like he always does; he’s an awful, ineffective leader, and I wish he had lost re-election in 2010 so the Democrats could get a real leader at the top of the Senate.

Sigh. Harry Reid, what a disgrace.

“Parenthood” ends a strong season with tears and awesomeness. The boy with Down’s Syndrome makes 3-pointers. And women finally allowed in combat? ‘Bout time

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There are times that I feel like about the NBC show “Parenthood” like I do about a friend who you love but get mad at sometimes: You just wish it could be as good as it is on its best moments, all the time. You wish the bad moments could be scrubbed away like last week’s graffiti, and you could celebrate how wonderful it makes you feel, all of the time.

Because like pizza, when “Parenthood” is good, it’s so, so good.

I know I’m babbling, but I just watched the season finale of “Parenthood” and it was beautiful. I get mad at the show quite a bit, and hate what they did to Sarah Braverman to maker her so damn unlikable, and laugh at the ridiculous leaps in logic the show makes, but the emotional power and wonderful story-telling win me over most every time.

This season was maybe its best yet, with emotional moments packed into every episode, and Tuesday’s season finale was dripping with heart and emotion. (It’s no surprise that Jason Katims, who created “Parenthood,” was involved heavily in the awesome “Friday Night Lights.”)

The acting on the show is strong in so many places, but especially Amber (Mae Whitman) and Zeke (Craig T. Nelson) are terrific.

I enjoyed the Amber/Ryan stuff this year, and the Victor/adoption storyline also felt real. I was amazed/astonished that the show had the balls to do a real abortion episode where a character (gasp!) actually had an abortion. And of course, the Adam/Kristina cancer storyline was fantastic, and so beautifully done.

Of course, the season finale had to tie everything into a neat bow, including the horrendous storyline I cared least about, the Sarah/Mr. Cyr/Hank love triangle of doom, where for some unknown reason two intelligent men are fighting over the clueless and immature Sarah Braverman.

“Parenthood” may not be renewed for another year, but it ought to be. Tuesday night’s episode, particularly the earned emotional payoff for Adam and Kristina, was the capper to a phenomenal year.

Please, NBC, you’ve got so many other crappy shows on your schedule. Keep “Parenthood” around: It’s one of the few things you can be proud of.

**This is a story that may require tissues. An 8th-grade boy named Owen Groesser is on the basketball team at Van Hoosen Junior High in Kentucky. Owen was born with Down’s Syndrome, and until Wednesday night, he hadn’t gotten a chance to play all season.

Then in the final minutes of the game, with the crowd chanting his name, Owen got in. And he drilled two three-pointers, bringing the crowd to its feet and making Owen’s teammates go nuts with excitement.

I know these stories happen often, but they get me choked up every time.

Grab a Kleenex when you get to the :58 part and the 2:58 part…

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**Finally, a few words of long-overdue praise on Good News Friday for the Pentagon, which has finally determined in 2013 that women are fit to serve in combat in the military.

I have no idea what took them so long, as women have proven to be exceptional soldiers in all areas of the armed forces for quite some time, and have been fighting and dying alongside men for this never-ending Afghanistan and Iraq wars we’re mucked up in. Women are every bit as worthy to serve in combat as men are, and it’s ridiculous it’s taken this long for the Pentagon to see that.

But hey, another barrier has fallen, and that’s a great thing.

The ice cubes that tell you to stop drinking. The world’s greatest scooter rider. And the teacher suing because she’s scared of children

Today brings news that there’s just no end in sight for people who drink too much. Forget Alcoholics Anonymous, designated drivers, or any of those public-service announcements with the scary music and crashing cars.

No, apparently we need more ways to stop people from drinking too much. So a researcher named Dhairya Dand, from MIT Media Labs researcher, has created a prototype for ice cubes that monitor how much you drink.

Here’s how it works, according to this story: the ice cubes, which are actually waterproof jelly made to look like cubes, are stuffed with LEDs and a device that measures movement.

With each sip of your drink, the cubes keep track of your intake, and go from green to orange to red based on how much you imbibe. Bonus: The cubes are sensitive to vibration, so they flash with the music, “making you look extra cool in the club,” and making it awfully hard for you to forget the cubes are there. The cherry on top? They can be programmed to send a text message to the party animal’s close friends if he or she has gone over the limit.

I can’t even believe scientists are working on this. I mean, isn’t cancer and stuff a little more important?

Still, I think it’s really cool. Who wants to hang out at a club and stare at some ice  cubes on a Saturday night? I know I do.

**Under the category of “Hey, we’ve all got to be good at something,” here’s four minutes of the world’s greatest scooter riders. The move at 1:16 was pretty sick, though I wonder how exactly one decides to become a professional scooter rider.

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**Finally, something that my fellow educators will certainly get a kick out of, or be horrified about.

A schoolteacher in Ohio named Maria Waltherr-Willard has sued her local school district after it reassigned her from her high school teaching job to a post instructing middle schoolers.

What is Ms. Waltherr-Willard’s grievance? She is being discriminated against because the district is well aware that Waltherr-Willard is afraid of children.

I’m not making this up. A federal judge dismissed three claims in her lawsuit last week, but three more claims remain. The teacher alleged the school district violated an “implied contract” to keep her away from young students. She also alleged that the district forced her to resign because of her age.

Hey lady, I’m not minimizing your phobia, I’m sure it’s a big problem for you. But being a teacher and being afraid of young children is sort of like becoming a Goodyear Blimp pilot who’s afraid of clouds.

A winter getaway to Florida brings back fresh memories. Thoughts on the Inaugural speech. And Seattle gets its Sonics back

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Still jazzed up as I write this, minutes after a fantastic women’s tennis match at the Australian Open Tuesday night. 19-year-old Sloane Stephens stunned the greatest player in the world, Serena Williams, with a three-set win in the Aussie quarterfinals. American tennis has a new star, and it’s about time. Look at that kid’s smile!

Sorry there was no blog post Tuesday; your humble correspondent was traveling back from a weekend trip to Florida, where new memories collided with old ones for me.

It was my first time back in the state since I left in the summer of 2011, when I chucked my career as a journalist to become a teacher, and Florida is also the place where my marriage ended.

So even though life is going awesome right now, with a new career and a fiance who I can’t wait to marry in a few months, I was a little nervous about going back to the Sunshine State.

We went down to see some dear friends who live outside Orlando, and I was afraid that every 10 minutes I’d see painful memories of what my life used to be there.

Instead, it was fabulous. My friends Jen and Greg were wonderful hosts, and their two adorable daughters showed us a good time. We went to Blue Springs State Park in DeLeon Springs, which I visited once before when I lived in Daytona Beach, and saw the manatees. The weather was great, I saw some of my old friends in Daytona, and only good memories came flooding back, not painful ones.

Plus, I got on a plane Friday and it was 35 degrees, and stepped off a few hours later into 68 degrees. Can’t beat that

Couple other airplane related thoughts, which I always seem to have after a trip:
— Is there a law that I’m unaware of that says I have to get the middle seat on every flight from now on? I swear I’m on like a 12 “B” seats in a row streak.
— Flying JetBlue > flying any other airline. It’s not just the TV that makes it better; more legroom, friendlier flight attendants, and always have an enjoyable ride. I love JetBlue so much.

**Didn’t get a chance to comment on Barack Obama’s inaugural address Monday. I thought it was terrific, as I expected, and I’m so glad he sounded so many liberal notes in it. It was powerful to hear him talk about gay marriage, and even climate change got mentioned.

I wish I could say I was real optimistic about “Obama the Liberal” getting a lot of major legislation passed on guns, climate change, poverty, and a ton of other progressive ideals.

But I don’t know. Hey, maybe this is a good sign: Mitch McConnell said the “era of liberalism” is back.

We can only hope.

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**Finally, the world of sports seems to offer karmic payback every once in a while, but not without someone else getting hurt.

The good sports fans of Seattle had their NBA team ripped away by owner/hijacker Clay Bennett in 2008, an outsider who bought the team then drove them off to Oklahoma City right after drafting some kid named Kevin Durant (he ever amount to much, that kid?).

It was not quite as bad as Art Modell stealing the Cleveland Browns, but it was close. The Sonics fans supported their team through thick and thin, and now were left bereft of a hoops team.

Well, five years later, the Sonics are coming back to Seattle, in the form of the Sacramento Kings, who of course are another team that was once loved, once a civic institution, but fell victim to a bad arena deal and owners who couldn’t convince the city fathers in Sacramento to buy them a new building.

So Seattle gets a team back, which is only right, but now Sacramento loses out. On the karmic justice scale of sports, that’s still a win.

We’ve got Harbaugh-palooza in the Super Bowl. Two baseball legends die on the same day. And do we really need inaugurations anymore?

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We’re all going to get really sick of the Harbaugh brothers in the next two weeks.

But I don’t care, I’m jazzed up about the upcoming Super Bowl after two pretty thrilling conference title games Sunday.

The San Francisco 49ers, with their amazing running and throwing quarterback, made yet another dramatic comeback Sunday to beat the choking Atlanta Falcons, to reach the Super Bowl.

And then we got the Baltimore Ravens, looking for a half like they’d throw up another valiant but losing effort to the forces of evil that are the New England Patriots, before waking up at halftime and ripping off 21 consecutive points, making Tom Brady cry (OK I can’t prove he cried) and turning Bill Belichick into a sore loser, once again.

As a Jets fan, you take your joy where you can get it, and seeing the Patriots suffer is always nice.

But this should be a fascinating Super Bowl, even if, like me, you’re sick of Preacher Man Ray Lewis. Joe Flacco (a fellow Blue Hen!) becoming a big-time QB before our eyes. Two great running backs, Ray Rice and SF’s Frank Gore, going head to head. Two excellent defenses. And, you know, two brothers coaching against each other in a Super Bowl for the first time.

Should be a great game. And if you’re a Harbaugh family member of any kind, even a fourth cousin, your phone will be ringing off the hook this week.

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**Tough day for baseball fans on Saturday, as two legends of the game died within hours of each other.

Earl Weaver, the legendary Baltimore Orioles manager who infuriated umpires but took the O’s to four World Series appearances, died at age 82. I always loved, as a kid, watching Earl stomp around the field berating umpires, and this is my favorite clip of him, though I warn you there’s a teeny bit of foul language. Weaver loved home runs, hated bunts, and didn’t take any crap from anybody, becoming one of the best managers in baseball history. He’ll be missed, especially now that today’s managers seem mostly devoid of personality.

And then a short time later Saturday, Stan (The Man) Musial, maybe one of the 2-3 greatest hitters who ever lived, and by universal agreement one of the finest gentlemen who ever lived, died at 92. Musial was before my time, but his Hall of Fame career ranks with anyone who ever played the game, and I’ve never read a bad word about him.

In St. Louis, where he is a God, there is much mourning today. The great Joe Posnanski, who tried for years to get Musial to cooperate on a book, has of course written a gorgeous tribute to Musial; read it here to appreciate the man.

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**Finally today, the once every four years tradition of a Presidential Inauguration is taking place.

All weekend there have been parties, speeches and celebrations to hip-hip-hooray the fact that Barack Obama is still the President of the United States. And believe me, I’m thrilled he’s still the President, and not Willard Romney. I think Obama’s second term could be filled with greatness, from gun control laws to immigration reform to who knows what else he may grow a backbone about over the next four years.

But I mean, why do we need to go nuts and spend millions of dollars on an Inauguration when the same guy is basically just keeping the job? I understand why you need an inauguration when someone new takes over; you’ve got to swear him in, go over all the things he has to do Constitutionally, yada yada yada.

But when a President is re-elected, can’t we just go on with our lives and let him keep doing the job?

Just seems like a big waste of time to me.

Good News Friday: A very cool look at the International Space Station. Dogs, teaching other dogs stuff. And little kids tell the difference between boys and girls

With all the craziness in sports the past few days, and serial liar and world class jerk Lance Armstrong finally coming clean, and the Manti Te’o story (which, frankly, I’m a little obsessed with, partly because it keeps changing every freaking hour, though Yahoo!’s Dan Wetzel had the best Tweet of the day: “A positive to the Manti story is it turns out a girl didn’t die of cancer. I credit Lance Armstrong.”), I’m glad it’s time to step away and embrace some good news on Good News Friday.

So here you go, three completely hoax-free, steroid-free things for you to enjoy on this fine Friday:

First, this was a very cool video on Andrew Sullivan’s blog the other day; a guided tour of what it’s like to live on the International Space Station. I was riveted. It’s amazing to think that all of this is possible, when it was less than 50 years ago when we first started our space program.

My favorite quote from Sunny Williams, the astronaut who led the tour: “I haven’t sat down for six months.”

**And now, little kids tell Jimmy Kimmel the difference between boys and girls. These kids speak the truth:

**Finally, here’s one dog teaching another dog how to walk down stairs, a video my fiance swears she showed me two weeks ago but I have no memory of it. So cute, and I’m not even a dog person.

Manti T’eo and the most bizarre sports story of all time. Thoughts on Lance Armstrong, suddenly a “truth-teller.” And Obama gets serious on guns

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So much to get to today, but I have to start with what has to be, without equivocation, the most bizarre sports story of my lifetime.
If you have somehow missed it in the last 18 hours, star Notre Dame linebacker Manti T’eo was revealed in a Deadspin.com story to either have been in on and planned (seems very likely), or been the innocent victim of (not likely), an incredible hoax wherein a girlfriend he talked about movingly and in extreme detail in the past, a girlfriend who was said to have died from leukemia last September, in actuality never existed.

Yes, that’s right. He told hundreds of media outlets in stories personal details of a relationship with a woman named Lennay Kekua, about meeting her at Stanford in 2009, seeing her in Hawaii on vacations, and how tragic and difficult her death was.

Except, such a person never existed, Deadspin revealed. Notre Dame came out Wednesday defending T’eo, saying he had nothing to do with it, and T’eo said in a statement he’s completely a victim here.

I know this all sounds nuts, because it is. Read the original Deadspin story here, and a CNN update here (with bizarre details toward the end from a T’eo friend who said he met Kekua many times). I truly can’t wait to see where this story goes next.

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**OK, now to Lance Armstrong, who I’ve tried really hard to avoid reading about in the past few days, once it was “revealed” that he sat down with Queen Oprah and told her that, yes, regrettably, he did all those terrible things people said he did, all those things that there is incontrovertible proof he did: took performance-enhancing drugs, threatened cycling officials, coaches and his own teammates, and basically bullied an entire sport like he was  Corleone family member.

And I’m sorry, but are we supposed to give this disgrace of a person “credit” for coming clean now? It’s not confessing if everyone already knows you’re guilty, and there are mounds of evidence proving so.

Lance Armstrong is a disgrace not just because he cheated, and not just because he intimidated and threatened and ruined the lives of many, many people.

He’s a disgrace because he held himself up as a model of what can be done in the fight against cancer, a disease that ravages and kills millions every year. And with all the success stories and heroes that emerge from the cancer fight, he was held up as the No. 1 hero, the paramount success story.

And he’s nothing more than a fraud, wrapped in bicycling clothes. Good riddance to him, and I hope he loses every shred of credibility and esteem he ever had.

On the plus side, hey, it’s nice to see Oprah being relevant again, huh?

**Finally, a few words on Barack Obama and guns. Despite my initial skepticism, he does seem to really be serious this time. Wednesday he proposed 23 executive actions as part of a sweeping overhaul of some of the nation’s gun laws, with a major focus on closing loopholes about background checks.

I don’t know how much of Obama’s plan will pass Congress, but with the NRA continued to absolutely shoot itself in the foot (pardon the pun) with idiotic TV ads like the one above, he’s definitely going to have the public on his side.

Good for him for making a good-faith effort. But there’s still a long, long way to go on gun control.