Monthly Archives: May 2013

The Rangers survive to play another day. Fallon and Krasinski lip-synch the hits. The 11-year-old who filmed his school cafeteria.

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I’m a little hoarse from screaming, and I wasn’t even at Madison Square Garden yesterday.
Yeah, Sunday afternoon’s New York Rangers-Washington Capitals Game 6 was a little stressful at my house.
Just about every game of this excruciatingly-close hockey series has been stressful; a bounce here or there and five of the six games played so far could’ve gone the other way.
Sunday was no different: Maddeningly, the Blueshirts that I’ve rooted for for 30 years still couldn’t score on the power play; as the saying goes, right now they couldn’t score in a whorehouse with a fistful of $20’s.
But at least they generated tons of chances, Rick Nash, who I have to hope is playing hurt otherwise he’s really, really shrinking from the spotlight, was terrific, and oh yeah, the Rangers have the best goalie in the world on their side.

There aren’t enough superlatives to describe Henrik Lundqvist; Sunday, he was the best player on the ice in an elimination game that the Rangers had to have.
In the final few minutes, I just felt confident he would stop every puck. He’s carried my team for at last six years and he’s carrying them now, and maybe, just maybe, he can carry them through to Game 7 tonight.

And so Monday will be a very, very long day for yours truly and the other Rangers fans, as we anxiously await the 8 p.m. puck drop. I truly don’t have a clue who’s going to win; I know Alex Ovechkin is due for a goal, and Caps goalie Braden Holtby can’t possibly keep playing this well (can he?), but I have no idea how the Rangers are going to win if they can’t score at least 2 goals.

Playoff hockey is the best. There were times Sunday during the thrilling Rangers-Caps game where I literally held my breath for what felt like minutes.

Game 7. The two best words in sports. Can’t wait.

**Haven’t written about a Jimmy Fallon skit in a while; not because they haven’t been funny, but nothing has come across my radar by the future “Tonight Show” host.
This, though, could not be ignored. “The Office”‘s John Krasinski and Fallon had an awesome and intense three-song Lip Sync-off on the show last week. To me, Fallon’s first song and Krasinski’s last are the best, but the whole thing is hilarious.

**Finally today, I just love this story, and not because I’ve seen some of what is served in New York City cafeterias. An 11-year-old boy named Zachary Maxwell was fed up with the lunch being offered in his elementary school cafeteria, and told his parents he wanted to bring lunch.

When they told him that the lunch displayed on the school website looked healthy and nutritious, Zachary took things to a new level. He secretly filmed footage of the cafeteria for six months, then with the help of his dad, cut it into a 30-minute movie that’s playing at the Manhattan Film Festival in June.

In the movie, Zachary shows that what’s advertised is very rarely what’s served they kids.

Here’s the trailer for his movie (above); this kid is like Michael Moore and Morgan Spurlock all rolled into one. I love him.

A paralyzed hockey player realizes a dream. The Dodgers’ Matt Kemp proves he’s a good guy. And a fantastic new ad about child abuse

blg 32 wild blackhawks game three

Going to be nervous all day until 7:30, when the Rangers and Capitals play Game 5. Rangers really have to take this one if they want to win the series; awfully hard to win in Washington in a Game 7.

And a happy Good News Friday to you all, sorry for the missed blog post yesterday, life and pending wedding details pushed me off schedule a bit. (Planning a menu with a caterer is quite the experience, but that’s a post for another day.)

Let’s start Good News Friday with the tale of Jack Jablonski. Jack was a high school hockey player in Minnesota who tragically was paralyzed during a game in December, 2011 when he was accidentally hit from behind and driven into the boards.
He became a major celebrity in the hockey world, with donations pouring in to help with medical expenses, and the L.A. Kings even letting him hang out with the Stanley Cup.
This week the U.S. Hockey League, the top junior league in the U.S., held its draft. Jablonski sent out a joking tweet telling teams he was “eligible” to be taken.

That day, Jack Jablonski was chosen by the Chicago Steel in the last round.

It was a beautiful gesture by the Steel to Jablonski who faces a lifetime of difficult moments. He deserved this nice one.

**Next, this is one of the most incredible pieces of “advertising” I’ve ever seen. A child abuse prevention organization in Spain called ANAR Foundation, which stands for Aid to Children and Adolescents at Risk, has put together an amazing billboard that’s more technically advanced than any I’ve seen.
The billboard uses a lenticular device to change the message shown, so that adults at their eye level see a tagline saying ” Sometimes, child abuse is only visible to the child suffering it.”

But for people whose eye level below 4-feet-four inches (kids), there’s a picture of bruises on a child’s face, and a secret message appears that says “If somebody hurts you, phone us and we’ll help you,” and a phone number is listed.

Watch the video above for the ad; I was blown away that this kind of thing is possible.
I know it’s hard to classify a child abuse story as “good news,” but if just one kid sees this billboard and has the courage to tell the authorities about what’s happening, it’ll be great news.

**Finally, Matt Kemp of the L.A. Dodgers has always seemed like a good dude. But when he learned of a handicapped Dodgers fan sitting near the field at a recent game in San Diego, Kemp decided to take kindness to a new level.
He shook the fan’s hand, then gave him the shirt and glove off his back, literally.
Watch the beautiful moment here.

The incredible story of 3 rescued women in Cleveland, and a decade lost. Delivering beer by way of drones? Sure. And the N.C. drug buyer calls cops on dealer

I had so many thoughts Tuesday after devouring as much as I could about the miraculous escape and triumphant return to the rest of the world made by three kidnapped Cleveland women more than a decade ago.

My first thought was outrage; that three women could be chained up and tortured, raped and enduring God knows what else by three brothers for such a long time is just beyond despicable.
I was also confused, not wanting to believe that nobody saw Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight for all those years, and that no one could’ve helped.
So many fascinating tenets of this story, and so many questions to answer: How were they held for so long? What was the motive of the sick bastards who did it? How did the women find the strength, and the courage, to survive for as long as they did? And can you imagine be a loved one of the three women, believing for so long that they were dead, only to see them again? Psychologically, what is that like?

And on a lighter note, can we get Charles Ramsey, the neighbor who heard Berry’s shouts, a reality show? This guy’s TV interview was fantastic; if you haven’t seen it, watch it above.
So many questions, so few answers right now. What I kept coming back to on Tuesday was this: Think about how much of their lives these women have missed, and how much of the world has passed them by while they were captured.
Birthdays, anniversaries, family gatherings, all the regular stuff of life we take for granted all the time. Every day, for nearly a decade, they faced unimaginable horrors, and missed out on any good things at all in the world.

That they could survive with so little hope is just a miracle to me.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=janur7RJwm0

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**I know what you’ve been thinking lately: It’s just too hard to find beer delivery in your neighborhood. And we’ve got all that unused sky up above, simply being used to fly people back and forth.
What if we had manned drones deliver beer to people?
Believe it or not, that was a real conversation somewhere in the world in the past few months, because at the OppiKoppi Music Festival in South Africa this August, there will be an actual drone dropping beer to thirsty (and let’s face it, probably already drunk) music lovers.
Here’s how it works:  Cans of beer are loaded into the drone prior to taking off and each can is attached to a clear, plastic parachute. After the drone reaches the approximate location of the person that requested the beer (by using their Smartphone app, of course) in addition to the appropriate altitude to safely drop the brew, the drone releases the can.

Assuming the parachute opens correctly, the can safely glides to the ground into the hands of the thirsty festival attendee.  (Watch the demo video above)

I can’t decide if this the best or the worst thing ever. I mean, how lazy do you have to be to order your beer through aircraft.

As humorist Tom Bodette said on the episode of “Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me” when they talked about this, “So civilian use of military technology, this is the first thing they come up with?”

marijuana-leaf

**Finally today, I can never get enough of these kinds of stories. A Wilmington, N.C. man (my old stomping grounds) called the police last week for a very good reason: An individual had failed to deliver the marijuana and cocaine he had bought and paid for.

According to this story, “in the 911 call, the caller, identified as Dave, claimed that he had met with his drug dealer and given him $80 in exchange for the drugs. The man who took the money then reportedly told Dave he would go get the drugs, and would meet him at the Scotchman gas station at Wilshire Boulevard and Kerr Avenue (my note: I know exactly where that is, it’s not a great neighborhood, shockingly), but he never showed up there.”

You know, we have so many problems in this country of ours, but if we can’t get drug dealers to honor their agreements with customers, we really have no hope of holding off China and India for world supremacy.

I urge you to listen to the 911 call here and get a nice big laugh.

Ruminating on marriage as my big day gets closer. A 7-month-old water skiier. And censorship at a high school paper: Always wrong

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Rangers squeak out a 4-3 win Monday night, and I may or may not have spent the last 45 minutes of the game in the fetal position in front of the TV, clutching a pillow and shouting…

So while I was lying awake Sunday night, unable to sleep like a lot of nights, I started to really think about marriage.
Not just my impending marriage, which is less than a month away, but marriage in general, thanks to a throwaway comment made by my 8-year-old nephew last week.
My sister was explaining to him that his uncle was going to have a wedding soon, and that lots of people will be there and there’ll be food and dancing and all kinds of good stuff.

His response? “Aren’t they already married?”

He was completely serious, even though it made the grown-ups laugh. For all intents and purposes, my beautiful fiancee and I are married. We live together, we share some expenses, we spend nearly all of our free time with each other (what can I tell you, she thinks I’m fabulous and I tend to agree :)) and we attend family functions as a pair.

So to his adolescent mind, we’re just like everyone else in the grown-up world he sees, people like my mom and stepfather, and dad and stepmother.

It got me thinking a little about why we go through the whole tradition of marriage. It’s clearly not just a piece of paper; it’s hugely symbolic, which is why the fight for gay equality has been so hard-fought and passionately battled on each side.

But what’s going to change after we say our “I Do’s?” We’re not going to love each other any less, or change our lifestyle much. She’ll change her name and become Mrs. Lewis, which I’m excited by, and maybe we link bank accounts and insurance policies and all that stuff.

But really, not much is going to change. Our lives and our relationship will be “official” to the rest of the world, but like the kid said, to me, I’m already basically married.

No real conclusions were drawn in my head thinking about this, just rambling I suppose. I just wonder if maybe we put too much symbolism into marriage, when really we should be worried about if the two people who promise to love, honor and respect each other really do.

I know in my case, I’m the luckiest man in the world, because that will never, ever be an issue.

**Next up today, a 7-month-old who’s already better at waterskiing than I will ever be. I want lessons from this baby…

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**Finally today, censorship ought to be fought wherever it’s attempted, but it’s pretty disgusting when censorship looks like this. A high school’s journalism class in San Diego was ordered shut down by the school’s principal after the school newspaper committed a cardinal sin

What hideous act had the student journalists committed? They criticized the principal, that’s what.

Student credit, and the journalism program, for the award-winning paper at La Costa Canyon High School was ended after the students questioned in print principal Kyle Ruggles’ decision to fire the school’s athletics director.

Of course Ruggles denies the article critical of him had anything to do with his decision.

Sure. And if you believe that, I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

“The Americans’ ends on a really high note. A rough sports weekend for me. And a legless Marathon victim inspires.

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It’s been a few days since it aired but I feel like I must blog about the season finale of the best new show since “Homeland.”

“The Americans” had its season finale Wednesday, and it was a fantastic end to an incredibly strong first season (Spoiler alert for season finale here, but people, you really should’ve watched by now if you’re a fan).

What this show did in bringing us inside the lives of two Russian spies living in the U.S. in 1981 was sensationally entertaining, thought-provoking, and at times, scary.
What I loved about the finale is that of course not everything was resolved, but there were enough loose threads that you can’t wait for Season 2.
I loved that Granny fought with Elizabeth for so much of the season, knows that Elizabeth tried to have her reassigned, yet she still feels protective of her when she learns Elizabeth may be wanting into an FBI trap.
I love that the Jennings’ daughter is finally getting curious as to what goes on in her parents’ basement.
I love that Nina came clean as a double-agent caught by the FBI and now confessing to the Russians, and we really don’t know what she’s going to do next (she says she’s going to try to turn FBI agent/her lover Stan into a KGB supporter, but I don’t see that happening.
I also loved that it looks like Elizabeth is going to live even after getting a gunshot wound to the stomach from Stan in Phillip and Elizabeth’s escape.

So many great storylines, so well written, and Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys are awesome as the protagonists.
If you’re not watching “The Americans,” I highly recommend catching up on episodes through OnDemand or the FX website.
It’s one of those shows that has a chance to be an all-time classic. The first season was that good.

**Here’s something that should inspire you. Jeff Bauman is one of the heroes of the Boston Marathon bombings. Bauman, if you remember, was the man who lost both of his legs in the explosion, but when he awoke in the hospital scrawled a note to police reading: “Bag, saw the guy, looked right at me.”

That may have been an important clue to police about how the bomb exploded; even if it wasn’t, it’s pretty sensational that even after his trauma, he was still trying to help.

Saturday night Bauman was a special guest of the Boston Bruins before their playoff game. Check out the chill bump-inducing video above (the good stuff starts at the 1-minute mark)

NBA: Playoffs-Chicago Bulls at Brooklyn Nets

**Finally, it was another rough sports weekend for yours truly. Miserable performances by the Rangers and the Nets, but only one of them truly stunned me.
The Rangers, I sort of expected to struggle in this playoff series. It angers me that after four years under John Tortorella they still have no freaking clue how to run a power play. It angers me that they’re playing below their skill level against a team (Washington) that isn’t really that much better, yet looks 10 times better in the first two games. The Rangers have ONE goal in two games. ONE. You realize how hard that is to do against a goalie like Braden Holtby who’s not that good?
The Rangers aren’t dead, down 2-0 with Game 3 tonight, but they’re pretty close. I have zero confidence they’ll come back to win this series, but again, not really shocking that they’re in this spot.

The Nets, though… what a disgrace.  They’re at home Saturday night, in Game 7, against a Bulls team that’s missing two of its top four players (Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich) and is on the road having lost its last two games in the series.
And the Brooklyn boys, with SO much to play for, with the intensity of the home crowd behind them … fell behind by 17 at the half and never completed a furious comeback.
Pathetic. No bloody excuse in the world to explain why the Bulls had so much more heart, so much more desire. Joakim Noah (above) destroyed all of the Nets inside players, and he’s playing hurt!
P.J. Carlesimo got fired as coach Sunday, but that’s not enough. This team needs a legit power forward, some better bench options, and they need a full season of a healthy Deron Williams (who was great in the playoffs).

What a waste of a first season in Brooklyn, to go out like that Saturday.

Good News Friday: A very cool Make-A-Wish soccer dream comes true. A beautiful ode to newsrooms. And an awesome commercial from “Hockey Night in Canada”

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Another great sports night Thursday: My Nets pull out a win in Game 6 over the Bulls, my Rangers play pretty well but stupidly in a Game 1 loss to the Caps, and the Golden State Warriors and their awesome crowd won their first-round series. Man I love to watch Steph Curry play basketball…

The Make-A-Wish Foundation is one of my favorite charities ever; the idea that there’s a group out there that helps makes terminally kids’ days just a little bit better, in the last weeks and months of their way-too-short lives, is a beautiful notion.

So when I heard about what the Portland Timbers pro soccer team recently did, I smiled widely. The Timbers have a superfan named Atticus Lane-Dupre, who is 8 and has cancer. His biggest dream was to play a soccer game against his heroes, so the team and Make-A-Wish arranged a special match between the Timbers and a team of Make-A-Wish Foundation kids.

It was beautiful, judging by this video below. The crowd came out in the thousands, cheering for Atticus and booing their own pro players. Of course, Atticus and Co. won the “game” 10-9, delighting the fans.

Such a sweet, sweet gesture by the team and the players involved.

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**Next we have a beautiful essay by a member of my former profession. Ottawa Citizen newspaper journalist Kate Heartfield saw like many of us the fantastic work done by the Boston Globe staff during the Marathon bombings two weeks ago, and wanted to write something that summed up how so many felt about the crucial role the Globe, and all local newspapers, play when tragedy strikes.

The Globe did such a fantastic job keeping the world, and its city, informed and alert as to what was going on.
Heartfield wrote a sweet love letter to the paper, and I highly urge you to read it.

**Finally, only hockey fans know how awesome the CBC (Canadian Broadcastcing Company)’s montages are. Check out this awesome promo for the 2013 playoffs. I don’t care if you’re a hockey fan or not, I predict you’ll find this pumping you up. (I got chills just watching it again).

Mike Piazza joins the ballet. A horrific gun death in Kentucky. And an ice-cream truck feud delights me

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It’s a well-known fact that fathers will do just about anything humanly possible to please their daughters.

But this is going above and beyond. Mike Piazza, major-league baseball superstar and the best offensive catcher to play the game, is going to be in a ballet this weekend.
For reals.
It began when Piazza’s 6-year-old daughter Nicoletta, a ballerina herself, asked her father if he would please be in a ballet.

So this weekend in Miami, during a performance of George Balanchine’s”Slaughter on Tenth Avenue,” by the Miami City Ballet, the man who Roger Clemens once chucked a bat at will play the role of a gangster gunman and appear at the end of the performance.

I love it. Good for Piazza to broaden his horizons.  Listen to him talk about why he’s doing it here.

**I’m going to keep writing about the insanity of our gun culture in the U.S., even though my pulpit is relatively small here on this blog, because it’s such an important issue.
And I hope stories like this continue to revolt Americans. A 5-year-old boy in Kentucky was given a youth-sized .22 rifle as a gift last year. That alone should be enough to scare the hell out of you.

But on Tuesday the 5-year-old also accidentally shot and killed his 2-year-old sister, while the childrens’ mother was in the house, somewhere else.

A 5-year-old having the ability to A, get a gun, B, fire it, and C, use it unsupervised is as horrible a form of child neglect as if the mother left the kids in a closet for a week.

When’s it going to end, these “accidental” gun deaths? Should a 5-year-old really have access to a murderous weapon???

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**Finally today, my good pal and frequent blog contributor Will Springstead sent me another gem from my old stomping grounds in upstate New York.

Seems there was a good old-fashioned ice cream truck feud in Gloversville, N.Y. the other day, as drivers for Mr. Ding-A-Ling (known as Ding to his friends, I’m sure) and Sno-Cone Joe got into a battle.
Apparently Amanda Scott and Joshua Malatino, both Sno-Cone drivers, followed the Ding-A-Ling trucks around neighborhoods, playing music loudly, and yelling that they have free ice cream.

And if that’s not the strangest sentence I’ve ever written, it’s in the top 5.
Scott and Malatino were arrested and charged with harassment.
Ice cream truck drivers of the world, please, can’t we all just get along??? Is there not room for italian ices and frozen chocolate eclairs alike?

And if not, can you toss me an ice cream sandwich on your way to jail?

“The Central Park Five” a fantastic documentary. A most bizarre new Hyundai commercial. And the Monica Seles stabbing, 20 years later

New York City in 1989 was as dangerous as it ever was, and when a young white woman was attacked, raped and beaten in Central Park one night, it seemed like just another blight on an awful period in the city’s history (Believe me, there was a reason kids like me came into Manhattan by train and never, ever, took the subway by ourselves back then).

The public was outraged, and five teenagers, all non-white, were all quickly arrested for the crime, then convicted without much trouble at all.
Except, as Ken Burns and his daughter Sarah show in a fantastic documentary I just saw on PBS, “The Central Park Five” the kids were innocent. They were badgered to confess under intense questioning by police, and despite there being a ton of holes in the case (the DNA evidence at the scene matched none of the boys, their stories about how the crime happened varied wildly), the NYPD and city prosecutors forged ahead.

Finally, a decade after the verdicts and after seven years in prison for each kid, the real rapist is found, and the boys’ verdict is overturned.

The fascinating film introduces us to Yusef Salaam, Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, Kharey Wise, and Raymond Santana, and the way they tell the story is harrowing. We also hear from journalists and activists from that time period, who still can’t believe how the boys were steamrolled into suffering so much for a crime they didn’t commit thanks to the culture of NYC at the time, and a wildly overzealous police force and prosecutor.

I highly, highly recommend this film; it’s as good as anything Ken Burns has done.
It’s not scheduled to be on PBS again in the new few weeks, but here’s a link to watch the whole movie online.

**I usually try to highlight fun or interesting new commercials on here, but this new Hyundai ad was so bizarre I wanted to see what you all thought of it. It’s called “Suicide,” and, well, I’m not exactly sure it makes me wanna go buy a Hyundai…

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**I’m not 100 percent certain why, but I remember exactly where I was when I found out the best tennis player in the world was stabbed in the back on the court, during a match.

I was a senior at Commack High School on Long Island, and I had just gotten into my car after school and was ready to drive home. I flipped on WFAN and heard the radio voice talking in very hushed, freaked-out tones, saying that reports were sketchy, but that a fan had rushed the court at a tennis match in Germany, and stabbed Monica Seles in the back.

It was inconceivable to my 17-year-old mind then; 20 years later, it’s still pretty inconceivable. A superstar in the prime of her career, who had already won eight Grand Slam titles and displaced the great Steffi Graf at No.1, was attacked in broad daylight on a tennis court during a match.

If you don’t remember the details, the assault was staged by Gunter Parche, a German lunatic who was obsessed with Graf and wanted her to get back on top, thus he decided to attack her biggest rival. Parche, unbelievably, was found at two different trials to be legally insane and never spent a day in prison.

Seles took a two-year absence from tennis and, while she came back to the Top 10 and still had a strong career, was never the same again.

What bothers me about the Seles incident to this day is not that a crazy person did something like this; it’s that for all the post 9/11 security that we have in place, it could easily happen again. In recent years both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were confronted on the court, mere inches away from them, by fans who stumbled out on the court.

Very easily and very quickly, both could’ve been injured or killed.

It’s always been a dangerous world, but until Seles was attacked in 1993, athletes on the playing field believed they were at least safe between the white line.

Bruce Jenkins of SI.com has a great column abut the Seles anniversary here.