Monthly Archives: February 2013

Another sex scandal in the U.S. military has me fuming. The greatest chair ever invented for men. And an Oreo separating machine, because, why not?

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It’s become so common, we don’t even bat an eyelash anymore.

Every year or two, there’s a sex scandal involving the raping of women by men in the U.S. armed forces.
Sometimes it’s the Army, sometimes it’s the Navy, sometimes it’s the Marines. Right now there’s a huge scandal brewing about the conduct of officers at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, where for years there was a systematic and endemic problem that involved disgusting, despicable sexual assaults of women by men they trained with, lived with, and ate with.

According to this New York Times story, 62 trainees were identified as victims of assault or other improper conduct by 32 training instructors between 2009-2012.

Seven instructors have been court-martialed, with eight more under investigation.
One of the biggest problems, of course, is the women being too scared to report these hideous acts because their commanding officer is often the one who rapes them.
This quote from Virginia Messick, one of the victims, is heartbreaking:

“How am I supposed to go about reporting something when the person I’m supposed to report to is the person who raped me?”

Every few years, one of these situations unfold, and every few years, we see hand-wringing from the Pentagon and promises to “clean up the old-boys club” attitude of the military.
And every few years, we hear about more women being treated in the most despicable manner possible, violated and humiliated by their colleagues.

I don’t know the answer as to why these assaults keep happening; does the military attract predatory men who think they have the right to take advantage of women? Does the overly-macho culture make normally right-thinking people turn into monsters?

I have no idea. But it’s sickening that this keeps happening in 2013, at such a high level.

Makes me wanna puke. These big, tough, strong men trying to protect our country, taking advantage of women just because they can.

**Because we’re always on the lookout for products that make life even lazier for couch potatoes than it already is, I present to you two videos today that show we’re still getting lazier.

First,The World’s Greatest Chair (seriously, that might be its name).

What’s the trick to the above video? It has a magnet on the bottom of the cup that the filler nozzle pushes in – to fill it up, then the magnet comes back down and seals once your off the nozzle.

Yeah, I want one.

**And second, this is a guy named David Neveel, a physicist, who has taken the time and effort to come up with an Oreo Separating Machine, for, I guess, people who are too busy to separate their Oreos.

What could this guy be doing to help the world, if he wasn’t doing this, I wonder?

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Another big breakthrough on gay rights. A hockey team with an awesome commercial spoof. And the joy of shiva food

Every day, every week, it seems, new breakthroughs come in the battle for gay equality.
One week it’s a male professional soccer player named Robbie Rogers coming out of the closet, only to say he’s stepping away from the sport for a while to try to get some peace.
Another week we have something like what happened Tuesday, which shouldn’t be astonishing but kinda is. Seventy-five prominent Republicans signed a legal brief, in conjunction with a Supreme Court case upcoming regarding California’s Proposition 8,  announcing their support for gay marriage.

Now, most of these GOP members are not office-holders anymore, so you might say the potential blowback from the intolerant bigots in their party and among their voters isn’t something they have to worry about.
However, when you have top advisers to ex-President W., and other major GOP players, finally agreeing that it’s ridiculous that a majority of their party doesn’t believe homosexuals are equal, it’s a big deal.

Again, 25 years from now, people in BOTH major parties in the U.S. are going to be amazed and puzzled that equality for all was such a big problem for so many to accept.
(Note: that commercial above for the Kindle, which I saw on Andrew Sullivan’s blog Tuesday, is remarkable for being unremarkable, isn’t it?)

**Well this is all kinds of awesome. A minor league hockey team called the Fargo Force has decided to spoof those horribly sad ASPCA commercials by talking about all the “neglected” hockey players on their team.

I laughed hard, and the Sarah MacLachlan music just takes it to another level. (Hat tip to my buddy Will Springstead for pointing me toward this).

**So, this might only make sense to my Jewish readers, but as I mentioned yesterday, my Grandma died last week. Which meant, among other things, that my mother has been sitting shiva  for the past few days.
Which also means, as per Jewish tradition, friends have been sending loads and loads of food to my Mom’s house.
And let me tell you, it’s been fabulous. Cookies, cakes, pies for dessert, plus deli platters, chicken, and sandwiches up the wazoo.
The only good part of mourning comes to your stomach. And it’s been fabulous.

A few words on the death of my Grandma. And Michelle Obama, kicking it Mom-style on Fallon

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Late Thursday night, my family lost its rock, its matriarch, and the woman to whom we all looked for guidance and compassion.

My grandma died. She was 94, and for the last several years she’s been suffering from the awful scourge of Alzheimers disease. I wrote a little about Grandma in this space two years ago, and I will repeat what I said there: She is the greatest person I’ve ever known, and probably ever will know.

I gave one of the many eulogies at her funeral on Sunday, and while I don’t want to run the whole thing here, I wanted to share some excerpts with my little blog family.

Thank you for taking the time to read a few words about a truly extraordinary woman.

“When I was a little boy, my father used to have a saying he’d repeat after just about every visit to Grandma and Grandpa’s apartment.

“Kids,” he would say from the front seat, while my sister and I sat in the back, “you’ll never meet anyone in your whole life like Grandma.”

 At the time, I’m sure I scoffed, convinced that this was just my father using hyperbole to make us appreciate our grandparents more.

I mean come on; what are the odds of one of the first people to ever hold you upon entering the world also being the greatest person you’d ever meet?

But as I’ve lived my life for the past 37 years, traveling and meeting thousands of people, I’ve come to realize my father was exactly right: Marcelle Kouvant was, and always will be, the greatest person I’ve ever met …

…”as I think back on my own memories of Grandma, they come flooding back like a tidal wave of joy, flashing across my soul and making me smile so much.

I think about Grandma always being the most excited person in the world when you told her good news in your life; with a trademark slapping of her hand on the table and an exclamation of “Wheeee!” at the top of her lungs, she exuded happiness so much you would’ve thought SHE had just won a big tennis match, or gotten first place in the spelling bee.

“I remember her unrequited love of the New York Mets, and how intensely she delighted in their victories, and was so pained by their defeats.

I always got such a kick out of how they could win 10 games in a row, then lose one, and she’d say “They should fire the manager! And trade half the players!”

“But Grandma,” I would tease,  “last week you said Mike Piazza and Tom Glavine were great.”

“Horrible,” she’d say. “Get rid of them. They can’t play at all!”

Sadly, during most of her years as a Mets fan, she was right: they did stink.”

Then there were the blue cookie tins filled with MandelBread that would arrive at my apartment in Wilmington, N.C., when I lived there. I would bring them into my newspaper office, and Southerners who couldn’t tell the difference between a yarmulke and a Yo-Yo were devouring the delicious treats, and singing the praises of a woman who for 60 years made a succession of delicacies out of a tiny kitchen where an occupancy of 3 would’ve been a fire hazard. …

In her later years, as she began to get sick and her incredibly sharp mind started fading away, she would’ve been so bothered by all the fuss that was made of her. Of my mother and aunt doing everything they could to make sure she were as comfortable as possible, even as she was unable to recognize those she loved so much.

But the end of her life isn’t what we’ll remember; it was the glorious years until then, when she was the brightest sun in all of our worlds.

My grandmother was the greatest person I’ve ever known, and it was the highest honor of my life to say I was her grandson.

I will miss her, and think of her, for the rest of my days. And as long as we keep telling stories about her wonderful spirit, she will always be with us in our hearts.

**OK, time to flip the switch and end on a happier note. I know Michelle Obama’s getting a lot of attention for her surprise appearance at the end of the Oscars (which I thought was just weird timing, putting her on at the end like that), the more impressive FLOTUS appearance lately was this awesome 2-minute dance skit she did with Jimmy Fallon the other night on his show.

It’s the “Evolution of Mom-Dancing,” and it’s brilliant.  You go, girl.

A guest blog from a pretty “meh” night at the Oscars

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Hi everyone. In lieu of my normal post-Oscar ranting and raving, my wonderful friend, fellow runner and more importantly, fellow film obsessive Diana D’Abruzzo has graciously accepted my invitation to write a guest blog on last night’s show. Diana and I have been friends for (eek!) 16 years now, since we met as cub reporters at the Wilmington Star-News. She now works in Washington, D.C., loves “The Princess Bride” as much as I do, and is usually hilarious and snarky about awards shows.

So here goes some rambling thoughts from throughout the Oscar telecast.

Take it away, Diana…

** Why didn’t they get Tina and Amy to host?” comment by William Shatner was what everyone was thinking. I’m skeptical about Seth MacFarlane. Don’t care for his humor.
  
**The cutaway to the socks in the dryer during the “Flight” puppet show was priceless.
**I’m annoyed they are using web articles as samples of tomorrow’s Oscar headlines. Why not newspapers, Academy? Not cool.
**”Hell they’re going to give it Anne,” comment by Sally Field in sketch was fabulous.
**Tommy Lee Jones is smiling so much now, I think someone did something to his face.
**Horrible bit between Melissa McCarthy and Paul Rudd. Not funny.
** The jokes about the “Beasts of the Southern Wild” girl were pretty funny, particularly the “In 16 years, she’ll be too old for Clooney.”
**Not a fan of using the “Jaws” theme to end speeches.
**Jealous Diana is actually a little happy that Jennifer Aniston is looking older.
**Bond tribute now. Guess I can take a nap
**Every time I look at Seth MacFarlane, I think of Peter Brady.
Back to back intros to “Argo” and “Zero Dark Thirty” means I better be seeing some Kyle Chandler soon.
**Jessica Chastain looks more and more like Jessica Rabbit with every awards show.
**So why isn’t the orchestra allowed in the actual Oscar auditorium? Not famous enough?
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**Oscar game: singing or lip syncing?
** The “family Von Trapp” bit was … weird. I laughed but then was like, “That’s it? That’s the whole joke?”
**As soon as Christopher Plummer walked to the mic and said “these talented actress,” I said, “just give it to Anne already.”
**There are a lot of Anne haters out there.
**I thought Jennifer Lawrence was hands down best dressed (especially if you include hair, makeup and jewelry). A close second was Stacy Keibler, unfortunately.
**I could never handle the violence of the movie but that blip from “Django Unchained” with the gunshot sound and blood hitting the cotton was so cool and unique.
**Was in the bathroom during commercial break and heard “Ladies and gentlemen, George Clooney!” Never before have I washed my hands so quickly before skidding into the living room.
**Just saw back-to-back Facebook posts from friends who don’t know each other mentioning Cher in reference to Streisand’s hair.
**Just found out I’m not the only one who hears “Memories” and immediately thinks of “scattered pic-tures” from “Big.”

**See they already knew Adele would win so there was no need to sing the other songs live. 

**Why is every women dressed like an Oscar statue  tonight?

**Dude, Dustin Hoffman is shrinking. 
**Charlize Theron’s hair is so awesome.
 
**Love the disheveled Quentin Tarantino. I normally would make fun of him, but I won the category in the Oscar pool, so I’m happy for me, er, him.
**Michael Douglas is so amused by Jane Fonda’s dramatics.
 

**If you direct a tiger you deserve an Oscar.

 
** Making a joke about how late the Oscars is running is a requirement as a host. Like it was a requirement for Kristin Chenoweth to mention her height during each red-carpet interview.
 
**Jennifer Lawrence fell… Isn’t that the worst  nightmare come true for an actress? But i have a feeling getting an Oscar probably evens things out.
 

**I don’t think Streep even opened the envelope before announcing Daniel Day-Lewis’ win!

**Loved Daniel’s speech!
**Awkward camera pause on that guy who was not Steven Spielberg as Daniel was praising Spielberg.
 
**Jack Nicholson looks like Danny Devito!

** Michelle Obama giving out Best Picture? Seriously? So stupid.

**So proud of Ben Affleck!
 
** How does Kristen Stewart get to sit behind Steven Spielberg?
** Thought the ceremony was entertaining but between the Obama appearance and the final song, it sure did end on a low note.  But Ben’s speech was great, and I’m so glad he won.

A sea otter is a slam-dunking king. The incredible surfing dog. And the greatest cheerleader shot you’ll ever see

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A short blog today, filled with fun and bizarre stuff to take you into the weekend capped by the Oscars Sunday night. For the record, my quickie Oscar picks (this is who I think will win, not who I want to win:)
— 
Best Picture: “Lincoln” (in a nail-biter over “Argo”)
— Best Actor: Daniel-Day Lewis (no relation to me, if you were wondering). But Joaquin Phoenix was amazing in “The Master.”
— Best Actress: Jessica Chastain (I’m calling the upset here over Jennifer Lawrence)
— Best Supporting Actor: Toughest category to call, but I’m going with Tommy Lee Jones for “Lincoln”
— Best Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway, Les Miz. She was awesome, if only in the movie for 30 minutes)
— Best Director: Mr. Spielberg.

We start today’s trio of amazing videos with something you may have seen this week; it’s a sea otter named Eddie who lives at the Oregon Zoo. And he’s like the LeBron James of otters, apparently; check out how good he is at dunking.

Of course, no one’s playing defense on Eddie; let’s see him do that shit when a dolphin is playing him man-to-man.

**Next up, we have Surfing Bulldog Tillman and his amazing talent. I think that’s all I need to say about this video, except look how good Tillman is in the snow, too! All-weather surfer.

**And finally, this happened Thursday night: A female cheerleader at William Carey College made this ridiculous shot at halftime. From halfcourt on the flip like that? Impossibly awesome.

Why Australians won’t let kids blow out birthday candles. A great documentary short about an NYC hoops legend. And MJ at 50: A terrific read

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I love Australians. I’ve truly never met a person from there who isn’t fun and awesome and super-cool. (Disclosure: I’ve only really known like 4 Australians, so my sample size is small).

Anyway, I love the Aussies. But I’ve finally found a reason to dislike them: Their ridiculous school health officials.

Two weeks ago the No Fun Police decided to ban kids from blowing out birthday candles at school. Why? They said it’s to prevent the spread of germs.

“Children love to blow out their candles while their friends are singing ‘Happy birthday,’” a document released by Aussie officials said. “To prevent the spread of germs when the child blows out the candles, parents should either provide a separate cupcake, with a candle if they wish, for the birthday child and [either] enough cupcakes for all the other children … [or] a large cake that can be cut and shared.”

Are you freaking kidding me? Yes, there may be some germs spread when a kid blows out the candles. There are also germs spread every time a kid wipes his nose and rubs it on his desk (which happens all the time in elementary schools), and when a kid hits another kid, and when two kids are playing together and one gets dirt all over the other one.

There are germs in the world, people, you can’t avoid them! So let a kid blow out some freaking candles, will you please?

Ugh. The sissy-fication of the world continues.

**There may not be a human being alive who’s seen more New  York City high school basketball than Tom Konchalski.
When I used to work for the basketball magazine SLAM and talk to players from NYC, they spoke of Konchalski in reverential terms; just being mentioned in his regular newsletter meant they were on the radar and on track to get a college scholarship.

Konchalski is a scout, one of the most trusted in the nation, and for reasons I can’t quite fathom, he’s suddenly getting a lot of national publicity. He doesn’t own a cell phone, an answering machine, or use email. He is a dinosaur and yet still is highly trusted and deemed important by every college basketball coach in the country.

ESPN’s Grantland site, which I love, did a four-minute mini-documentary on Konchalski, and it’s terrific. Watch it above, and appreciate one man’s single-minded dedication that has helped thousands of kids attain college scholarships.

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**Finally, there was a ton of publicity last week about Michael Jordan turning 50 years old. Because it’s mid-February and ESPN and others are desperate to fill the supposed void in the calendar (hey folks, ever hear of college hoops and NHL hockey? Talk about them!), the Greatest of All Time’s 50th was a huge event.

I avoided just about all of the Jordan love-fest, but I kept hearing how great ESPN writer extraordinaire Wright Thompson’s profile of MJ was. Turns out it was even better. Thompson got some terrific access to Jordan, and I came away thinking that A, he’s still as competitive as ever, and B, he might be able to score 20 a game right now, just because he would will himself to score.

Read Thompson’s story here; it’s well worth the time.

In praise of a really good NYC hospital. My student asks a great MLK question. And the worst human of 2013 (man who hit baby on flight)

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We had an unexpected medical scare in my family last week; my stepfather has been having some heart trouble recently, and my Mom checked him into Lenox Hill Hospital here in New York City last Monday night.

Fortunately, he seems to be OK now, but over the course of the next five days, I saw a truly great hospital up close.
There were nurses everywhere. Doctors came in and out, different specialists of all kinds (at first they didn’t know what was wrong with my stepfather, so at various times he saw a gastro guy, a neurologist, and a cardiologist.)

Sure, there were some bad points, and information didn’t always get passed to us quickly. But I think we hear horror stories about hospitals too much that we forget what small miracles they are.

You go in when you’re sick, they examine you, usually find out what’s wrong, and send you home better than when you came in (and with some great drugs!)

I’m glad my stepfather was in a good hospital, and I got to see hard-working, dedicated medical pros at work.

Never take for granted what a top team of physicians can do. I just hope we dont’ have to see them again for a long time.

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**One of the things I’ve really enjoyed about substitute teaching so far is the unexpected questions that come my way (and no, “why can’t I go to the bathroom now?” isn’t one of them).

I was in class last week helping students with an assignment where they had to analyze Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech. I got to talking with one of the male students and he said, “Hey, how come there’s never been a great Hollywood movie about him?”

I thought about it for a second. We had a Malcolm X movie, a JFK movie, and movies about so many other great 1960s figures.
But we’ve never had a great MLK movie. And I have no idea why. Is it that Hollywood is too scared to take on such a controversial figure?

Just did a few minutes of Internet research and I found that two feature-length movies are in the works about MLK, and Oprah Winfrey is supposedly helping produce a 7-part mini-series about the Reverend for HBO, though I can’t find any stories talking about it since 2010.

I do hope we get a great King movie made; his legacy certainly deserves one.

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** Finally today, I know it’s only mid-February, but I think we may have found the worst human being of 2013 already.

His name is Joe Rickey Hundley, and on Feb. 8 he was aboard a Delta Air Lines flight and seated next to a woman named Jessica Bennett, who was travelling with her 19-month-old son Jonah.

Upon the plane’s final descent, young Jonah started crying a bit, which is of course natural for babies due to the altitude change.

So instead of just ignoring the child, ole’ Joe Rickey, who was also allegedly drunk, slapped Jonah in the face and used a racial slur toward Bennett.

Hundley was arrested and charged with simple assault, but his penalty ought to be locked up in roomful of crying babies for eternity.

I mean, slapping an infant???? Throw the book at this disgrace to humanity.

The Smoking Gun story about man who hit crying baby in the face.

A brilliant story from the SEAL who killed bin Laden. The happiest dog in the world. And the tragedy of Mindy McCready’s kids.

US Navy SEALs during desert combat training.

When I get emailed a story from five different people in my life, I know it must be really good.

But for some odd reason, I didn’t get around to reading Esquire’s brilliant new story by Phil Bronstein about the Navy SEAL Team 6 member who killed Osama bin Laden until Monday.

Man, it is intense. And wonderfully reported, with incredible details (I was glad to see, upon reading it, that “Zero Dark Thirty,” got most of the major details correct) and deep background into the entire mission from the point of view of the SEALs.
The story is not just a heroic tale of the brave men who on May 1, 2011 ended the life of one of the worst terrorists the world has ever known.

It’s also a chilling reminder that missions like the one in Abbotabad is what SEALs have been doing for their whole career, and when they get out of the military like The Shooter (as he’s called in the story; for obvious reasons he wanted to remain anonymous), they often have no direction, no idea how to relate to civilians, and in many cases, no health insurance.

Here’s a passage from the story, literally the Shooter’s recollection of the moments before he shot Osama bin Laden. I urge you to read the whole story here. It’s fascinating.

I thought in that first instant how skinny he was, how tall and how short his beard was, all at once. He was wearing one of those white hats, but he had, like, an almost shaved head. Like a crew cut. I remember all that registering. I was amazed how tall he was, taller than all of us, and it didn’t seem like he would be, because all those guys were always smaller than you think.

I’m just looking at him from right here [he moves his hand out from his face about ten inches]. He’s got a gun on a shelf right there, the short AK he’s famous for. And he’s moving forward. I don’t know if she’s got a vest and she’s being pushed to martyr them both. He’s got a gun within reach. He’s a threat. I need to get a head shot so he won’t have a chance to clack himself off [blow himself up].

In that second, I shot him, two times in the forehead. Bap! Bap! The second time as he’s going down. He crumpled onto the floor in front of his bed and I hit him again, Bap! same place. That time I used my EOTech red-dot holo sight. He was dead. Not moving. His tongue was out. I watched him take his last breaths, just a reflex breath.

And I remember as I watched him breathe out the last part of air, I thought: Is this the best thing I’ve ever done, or the worst thing I’ve ever done? This is real and that’s him. Holy shit.

***And now, for a happy little video of a dog, happily playing and with not a care in the world.
Don’t you wish you could be this happy?

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**Finally, I can’t really say I knew much about Mindy McCready, other than that she was a famous country singer who had an affair with Roger Clemens when she was barely 16.

But the news Sunday that McCready had committed suicide at age 37 left me remarkably sad, because McCready did so just a month after her boyfriend, David Wilson, had killed himself as well.

And now there are two children, 6-year-old Zander and 10-month-old Zayne, who have no parents at all. The agony of drug addiction is all over McCready’s life, and clearly her demons were too strong for her to overcome.

I don’t know why some people think suicide is the answer; most of the time it’s the coward’s way out, which McCready and her boyfriend took.

But what I do know is that she was an extremely troubled woman who never was able to get her life together, and because of that, two little boys are left without parents.

Just so, so sad.

 

Good News Friday: Brendan Haywood pays strangers’ bills out of own pocket. The U.S. Senate expands domestic violence protections. And fun Valentine’s Day pranks

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It’s pretty darn unusual for me to ever praise a current or former North Carolina Tar Heel basketball player, but on Good News Friday, we don’t discriminate.

So today I’d like to pay tribute to  former UNC star and current NBA player Brendan Haywood, who has had a mediocre career but has proven to be a good human being along the way.

Haywood’s most recent act of charity is beautiful. Now playing for the Charlotte Bobcats, Haywood got involved with the Center of Hope homeless shelter, and wanted to do something nice for the women who were trying to transition to their own housing.

So Haywood announced he’s going to pay the electric bills for 15 of the women for a full year.

Haywood was raised by a single mom himself.

“I know it’s hard going day to day making ends meet,” Haywood said to the women. “One of the hardest things when my mom was trying to stretch that dollar was paying bills.”

A beautiful gesture by Haywood; good for him.

**Finally, this is for those people who hate Valentine’s Day, and love and stuff. Or for people who just like a good laugh. Check out this prank video of a man and woman faking a proposal all over town, just to get people’s reactions.

I love the one at 1:20 the best. Pretty darn funny.

**Next, we salute the U.S. Senate, a body that hardly merits saluting. But this week the 100 leaders of our nation’s legislative body passed a comprehensive domestic violence bill this week, expanding on the landmark 1994 bill. The new law further protects gay victims of domestic abuse, and allows victims of assaults on Indian land much better protection.
Of course, this is something that ought to have passed 100-0, but I”ll take it.
I thought Barack Obama’s statement was pretty strong:
Delay isn’t an option when three women are still killed by their husbands or boyfriends every day,” the president said in a statement. “Delay isn’t an option when countless women still live in fear of abuse, and when one in five have been victims of rape. This issue should be beyond debate — the House should follow the Senate’s lead and pass the Violence Against Women Act right away. This is not a Democratic or Republican issue — it’s an issue of justice and compassion.”
You’re damn right it is.

Duke and Carolina stage an ugly one, but the right shade of blue won. The guy who went to 200 countries but didn’t impress Guinness. And an awesome “Jeopardy” teen contestant

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Happy Valentine’s Day to all the people in love out there on the Interwebs today. May you all be as lucky in love as I am.

And this woman, with a beautiful Valentine’s Day story I urge you all to read.

Well, that certainly wasn’t too pretty. But all that matters is the final score at the end when the greatest rivalry in sports takes place.

And despite turnover after turnover, and terrible rebounding and occasionally terrible offense, Duke beat North Carolina Wednesday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
As usual, I was yelling and screaming in front of my TV, imploring the Blue Devils to beat UNC. I can’t really explain it, but no other Duke win ever feels quite as satisfying as beating Carolina.

This is far, far from a great UNC team, but they played their pants off Wednesday, and Duke had to get a little lucky and turn up their play at the end to get it done.
Couple quick thoughts from a much-closer than it should’ve been Duke win:

— That was about as ugly a Duke-UNC game as I’ve ever seen. Way too many fouls, way too many bricked shots, a ton of turnovers, just really bad play all around. Which is why I was nervous throughout, because in a poorly-played game, the underdog (UNC) gets to hang around possibly steal the game.

— But Duke won, because Quinn Cook keeps getting better and better, and Tyler Thornton gets no credit but does so many little things to help his team win, and because the Tar Heels went to the Shaquille O’Neal school of foul shooting. Man, were they awful, especially James Michael McAdoo.
— Mason Plumlee, I thought you were beyond games like tonight’s. Just terrible for most of it. But you did your FT’s at the end, so I still love ya.

— Dick Vitale, who I love for his enthusiasm, has really lost it as an announcer. He gets lots of things wrong now, spews more nonsense than usual, and generally talks out of both sides of his mouth.

— Very strange to see UNC with such poor point guard play. As long as I’ve been alive, from Phil Ford to Ed Cota, from Ty Lawson to Kendall Marshall, the Heels have always had an excellent floor leader. But not this year.
— This Duke team isn’t going anywhere in March unless Ryan Kelly gets healthy. I don’t understand why they struggle so much to score, but they just freeze up at times.
Thankfully they have the best coach of all time to figure it out before the tournament.

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**I love the spirit and initiative of Graham Hughes, even if the crankypants at the Guinness Book of World Records don’t.

Hughes set a goal a few years ago to visit all 201 countries in the world without using an airplane, and he appeared to have set his ridiculous yet awesome mark by getting into South Sudan last November.

However, the Guinness folks say he didn’t set the record, since his border crossing from Estonia to South Sudan was not made legally.

What a crock. Anybody as crazy as Hughes is, who goes to all that effort without using a plane, deserves his place in history.
Thankfully, Hughes is undeterred.

“I can solve the problem. I came back from South Sudan overland, so I can pick up the journey at any time,” he said. “It’s quite a funny coda to my travels – I am just glad it’s not Bangladesh, that it’s somewhere that’s only 24 hours away on the coach.”

You go, Graham.

**Finally today, a tip of the cap to one of the strangest yet most entertaining “Jeopardy” contestants of all time. Meet Leonard, who doesn’t look like anyone you’ve ever seen on Alex Trebek’s show.

Way to go, Leonard. Who says you can’t have a big ‘fro and be really smart?