Daily Archives: November 13, 2013

I ask you for money for a good cause. A breakdancing Marine is awesome. And a truly tasteless ad from Spirit Airlines

soupkitchen

I try not to ask readers of this blog for financial donations for causes, because I know everybody has their own money issues and I don’t think anyone else should tell others how to be charitable.

But every once in a while, for a truly worthy cause, I break that rule, like today.

One morning a week I volunteer a few hours at the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen, on 28th St. and 9th Avenue here in Manhattan. Open for 31 years, the soup kitchen serves more than 1,000 meals daily, making it the second-biggest such facility in America (apparently there’s a bigger soup kitchen in San Francisco).

It’s a wonderful place, staffed by about 40-50 volunteers per day. Some of us serve the food, others clear the tables, hand out drinks, cut up vegetables in the kitchen, etc. And truthfully, it’s more than a soup kitchen; Holy Apostles also helps the homeless in so many other ways, with free counseling services, free haircuts and toiletries, and often blankets and other clothes, along with free legal services, too.

Every week I’m there, at least one of the clients who comes in says how grateful he or she is for this place, and we know that for many if not all of them, this lunch is the only meal they’ll eat all day.
It’s a community of people who have nowhere else to go to eat, and are so happy that for at least an hour or so, they can come in from the cold and their problems outside and have a nice hot meal.

Funding, as you might expect, is always a problem for the soup kitchen; food donations do come in, but I’ve been told that 80 percent of the food and supplies is purchased by Holy Apostles (in case you were wondering, there is no religious affiliation with the soup kitchen; the church is a totally separate entity, they just allow their space to be used).

So why am I telling you all this? Next Thursday the soup kitchen is holding its annual Fast-a-thon fundraiser, encouraging all the volunteers to eat only one meal a day in solidarity with our daily guests. My wife and I have started a fundraising page for the event, and have raised about $500 so far.

I know the holidays are coming up and budgets are tight, but if you get any enjoyment from this blog each day, I’d ask you to please consider a small donation.
A dollar, $5, $10, whatever you can give would be so much appreciated. Here’s the link to our fundraising page, and I thank you so much in advance for your generosity.

**All right, now for something more upbeat than homelessness and hunger.  Here’s a pretty hilarious video of a Sergeant major in the Marines doing his best breakdancing moves at the recent Marine Corps Ball (to the tune of “Billie Jean,” of course.)
I miss breakdancing, though I never could do it at all (my cousin Robby was pretty good at it when he was a kid).

Iisn’t it about time that it came back in style?

**Finally today, the hubbub in the sports world about the Miami Dolphins Richie Incognito/Jonathan Martin bullying case has died down a little, thankfully, but here are two pieces of media I found interesting.

First, a truly tasteless ad from Spirit Airlines, trying to, um, capitalize on the attention the bullying story got.

SpiritAirlines.tasteless

I mean, that’s pretty bad, right?

And then something a little funnier; a New York Times writer named Jonathan Martin wrote about what it was like to be confused on the Internet with the Dolphins player, although anyone with half a brain would’ve been able to figure out it wasn’t him.

As he said, he had it bad, but not as bad as anyone named Jerry Sandusky did.

A thrilling night of college hoops leaves me pumped up. The girl who refused the devil’s number. And a surprising look at NBA players backgrounds

jabaridunk

It was March Madness in November Tuesday night, for college hoops junkies like myself.
Four of the top five teams faced each other; this never happens this early in the season.
And while I’m a little down that my Duke boys lost to Kansas, it was still a night of two great games, a bunch of fabulous freshmen, and what felt like the start of a fantastic season.

Some quick-hit thoughts in the wee hours of the morning (cue the Frank Sinatra, please)

–Kansas-Duke was a terrific basketball game, marred only by the 432 fouls called in the final 10 minutes. The referees have been instructed to call the games tighter and eliminate the wrestling matches that go on in the paint, and I’m all for that. It’s just going to take the players some getting used to,

— Jabari Parker. Oh. My. Goodness. I’ve been watching Duke for 26 years, and I can’t remember a player exactly like him. He’s sorta like Grant Hill but bigger (though that sweet alley-oop dunk was exactly like Grant’s in the ’91 title game (above). The kid is going to be really really special.

— Kansas’ stud freshman Andrew Wiggins is very good, but their other less-known freshmen like Wayne Selden and the Mason kid are also terrific. Jayhawks are loaded.

— Michigan State hung on to beat Kentucky, proving that experience beats talented youth early in the year. But man, Julius Randle of Kentucky is a beast. Nobody in college basketball will be able to stop him. He’s got an NBA-ready body as a freshman. (Terrific column on the game here by Yahoo!’s Dan Wetzel.)

— Duke played terrible on defense, missed a ton of free throws, and had two of its best players (Quinn Cook and Rodney Hood) basically go invisible the last 15 minutes of the game. And were still in it with 2 minutes left. So I’m not worried.

— I think three of these four teams will be in the Final Four. Michigan State is loaded, Kentucky’s kids are for real, and I think either Duke or Kansas will get there. What a great season this is going to be.

Codie-Thacker

**Next up today, heard this story on the radio this week and was kinda stunned. A high school cross-country runner in Kentucky named Codie Thacker gave up her chance to qualify for the state meet last week because she was assigned the race number 666, and she said to wear it would have gone against her Christian beliefs.

Thacker said she tried to get a different number three times, but officials wouldn’t let her.

“I didn’t want to risk my relationship with God and try to take that number,” Thacker said, adding that she’s been training since June for this race. “I was so nervous, I thought about it all week.”

On the one hand, I can see why she was a little upset. Triple-sixes is not a great number.
But to blow your chance to make the state meet just because a random number was given to you that you didn’t like? Does Thacker really think God is looking down and judging her behavior in a high school running meet?

The things people do in the name of religion… never fails to amaze me.

lebron

**Finally today, I thought this was a real interesting study in the New York Times. A writer named Seth Stephens-Davidowitz took a look at NBA players and where they came from, specifically, what zip code, and tried to see if there were any patterns between coming from an underprivileged, low-income area and athletic success.

I think a lot of people, like me, assume that a study like this would show that the worse the background, the hungrier the player, thereby making it more likely the star athlete would make the NBA.

But in actuality, the study found that growing up in a wealthier zip code increases the likelihood an African-American or while male will make the NBA, and that African-American NBA players were far more likely to be born to married parents, among other findings.

Very interesting stuff; it seems like you always hear about the NBA star making it to the pros without any parental guidance, but maybe those are just the exceptional cases.