Monthly Archives: March 2014

Another insane weekend of NCAA Tournament hoops. Why kids need pets, in adorable photos. And “Jeopardy” turns 50


Man, what an incredible weekend in the NCAA Tournament.
I love the Tournament every year, of course; it’s like sex and pizza: even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good.
But sakes alive (nobody says that anymore, do they?), the last few days have been sensational, even for the Tournament.
The titanic Virginia-Michigan State battle on Friday night (going on simultaneously as the Kentucky-Louisville thriller, and man did America’s remote controls get a workout there). Wisconsin and Arizona going to the wire on Saturday. Kentucky and Michigan trading buckets and playing a wildly entertaining game on Sunday.

A wonderful weekend of hoops, which leaves us with a Final Four of Florida, Wisconsin, Connecticut and Kentucky.

Some scattered thoughts from my hoops-overloaded brain:

— I hate John Calipari. Loathe the man, everything he stands for, and just about everything he’s done in his long, sleazy career. I root against him at all times, even rooting for the hated Tar Heels a couple years ago when they played Kentucky.
But even though I think he’s scum, I have to give it up to him: He’s an outstanding, outstanding basketball coach. This Kentucky team lost 10 games this year, some to really bad teams (South Carolina?), but has played sensational ball the last two weeks. The Harrison twins, Julius Randle, Alex Poythress, all have gotten so much better. I hate to say it, but I think they might win the national title. Here’s the great Pat Forde of Yahoo! on Cal.

— Real happy for Wisconsin and their highly underrated coach, Bo Ryan (above). But man did those last five seconds of the Badgers’ win over Arizona take forever. I like instant replay, but to take 10 minutes on an out-of-bounds call is ridiculous. The refs screwed up twice in the final seconds, with a terrible offensive foul call on the Wildcats, then by reversing the out-of-bounds call.

— Sean Miller of Arizona, by the way, is now the “best coach to never reach a Final Four.” He’s tremendous.
— I know a lot of people bash him because he knows nothing about college hoops, but Charles Barkley cracks me up. Here’s him talking about Shaq:

— Michigan State. What a miserable performance offensively on Sunday. I can’t believe that Keith Appling and Branden Dawson played so poorly in such a big game, and even Adreian Payne didn’t play well down the stretch. Really have to give credit to UConn, tremendous defense they played Sunday.

— Rough day for the state of Michigan. Both big-time schools lost nail-biters. But Nik Stauskas can play for me anytime; what a scorer.

–Finally, not sure who’s going to win on Saturday. My first instinct is that Florida beats UConn, and Kentucky ekes past Wisconsin, giving us an all-SEC championship game in a year that that league was as bad as its ever been.

Whatever happens, it’s sure been a hell of a tournament.

**Sunday was a historic day in game-show history milestones: “Jeopardy,” maybe the best game-show ever invented, turned 50. (My personal favorite game shows?: Gotta go with tree from my childhood: “Sale of the Century,” (loved me some Summer Bartholomew) “Card Sharks,” and of course, “25,000 Pyramid.” Loved me some Nipsey Russell, too).

“Jeopardy”‘s brilliance? Watching it makes you smarter. I have no doubt that much of the useless knowledge I have in my head came from Alex Trebek’s 30 minutes of brain stimulation.

One story and one video to share to commemorate. First, the great Chris Jones of Esquire wrote a little piece about why “Jeopardy” is so great, and then “Saturday Night Live” did a funny parody called “Black Jeopardy” last weekend.


**And finally, because it’s Monday and nobody wants to be at work but so many of us have to be, here’s a little mood-brightener. Unless you hate babies, or pets, or babies playing with pets. And if you hate all of those things, well, get off my blog.

A site called has put together 22 adorable pictures of kids playing with their furry friends. The photo above is my favorite, but really, they’re all pretty awesome. I love the one below, too.

Go ahead and click, I guarantee you’ll smile.



The blind college student who’s become a guru to coaches. A kid’s perfect answer to a math question. And an oldie but goodie of a first kiss


We start Good News Friday with a pretty remarkable tale from Evansville, Ind., where a blind young man named Bryce Weiler has become kind of a “coach whisperer” to some of the biggest names in college basketball.

Weiler has a 3.66 GPA, calls Evansville basketball games on the radio (despite, of course, never having seen a game), and talks regularly with guys like Brad Stevens and Rick Pitino.

Zak Keefer has written a sensational profile of Weiler in the Indianapolis Star. This is my favorite quote:

“He’s got energy out the gazoo, every single day,” said Evansville coach Marty Simmons, who invited Bryce to sit on Evansville’s bench during home games after meeting him four years ago.

“And he’s got a heart that could fill this arena. At times, you feel sorry for yourself, maybe after a tough loss. I’m in my office, thinking about what I could have done differently. Then he walks through. You’re like, wow. How can I ever think like that when he’s able to do what he’s able to do?”

Go ahead, read this story and try NOT to admire Bryce Weiler. What a fantastic kid. Wouldn’t be surprised to see him coaching basketball one day.


**Next up, it’s testing season here in New York City, with millions of kids starting to take state-mandated exams next week.

If any of them are as creative as this 9-year-old kid who answered a test-prep math problem in a unique way, I think they’re going to be very successful in life.

If you can’t read the above photo, here’s the question:

“Evan told his class that the people in his family have 14 legs altogether. Quinton said Evan must have seven people in his family. Is Quinton correct? Explain why or why not.”

The student’s answer: “Yes because 14/2 = 7 but not everyone has two legs. Go to”

Love it.

**Finally today, a sweet memory from the past. I’m not sure what sparked my remembering this 2011 video of Elliott and his little friend Bowie having a sweet moment, but I thought about it Thursday night and smiled.

One of my favorite videos I’ve ever posted. The look on his face at :53 is just so priceless.

Have a great weekend.

A huge win for college athletes, off the field. A man chains himself to a rest stop, for a very good reason. And hockey player James Neal feels the “love” from fans on Twitter


Spare a thought, or a prayer, or both for the brave and courageous firefighters of the Boston Police Department today. One more reason it’s ridiculous that we call athletes “heroic” and “brave.”

Not sure if I’ve ever mentioned this here or not, but in 1994, in one of my first sports columns at the University of Delaware’s school newspaper The Review, I said that college athletes should get paid.

After all, I argued, they are not allowed to get jobs during the school year according to NCAA rules, and they generate an enormous amount of revenue for their schools, none of which they see.

I was roundly mocked, laughed at, and made fun of the day the column ran. (Mostly by my friends, who were the only ones reading me at that time. But still…)
Maybe I was naive back then, or just ahead of my time. But ever so slowly, many, many others have come around to see the same point of view, and the idea of college athletes getting compensated got a major boost on Wednesday.

In what could be a momentous ruling, or what could be just a blip on the radar of sports news, a National Labor Relations Board ruled that college athletes can now legally form a union.

The ruling, by a regional director of the NLRB, was in response to a case brought by Northwestern football players who argued that they were basically employees of the university.

This ruling could lead to major, major changes in the NCAA, and how athletes are treated, which would be awesome. Yes, I know athletes get scholarships, so of course they’re not being used for “nothing.

But the billions of dollars earned in college sports have been earned on the backs of young, poor athletes for far too long. I hope Wednesday’s ruling leads to these kids getting at least some of the spoils.

**This is definitely my favorite story of the month, because it’s so bizarre. I heard it on NPR’s “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me,” and they swear it’s true.

A 21-year-old Illinois man named Kevin Walters chained himself to a highway rest stop the other day, to protest that the rest stop was going to be torn down.

Why was this particular rest stop so important? Well, it’s where he was conceived, of course.

Walters told CBS Chicago on Friday that he was angry the Des Plaines Oasis along the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway was being shut down because it had special meaning to him.

“It is a weird story, I must admit. About 21 years ago, my parents were at a Phil Collins concert here in Chicago, and one thing led to another. They ended up at the oasis … and I was conceived there,” he said.

Asked how his parents went about telling him that, Walters said “it just sort of came out just randomly in conversation.”

“They were like, ’Oh yeah, hey, we never really told you how you were born, or your conception,’ and my parents are weird people, so it’s not that surprising,” he said.

Phil Collins.

How many millions of babies were conceived because of that great man’s music!?? “I can feel it, coming in the air tonight…”

The man’s responsible for more sex than Wilt Chamberlain, I tell ya.


**And finally, this may only be really funny to hockey fans, or to me, or to people who like seeing social media experiments that were well-meaning go horribly, horribly wrong. But my friend George H. sent this to me on Facebook and it completely cracked me up.

The Pittsburgh Penguins have had quite a few dirty players on their team the last few years, one of them being James Neal, who has a habit of concussing other players with his knees, elbows, and the like.

But the other day, as part of a Twitter outreach thing, the Penguins’ P.R. people decided that Neal would have a Twitter chat with fans, and suggested Pittsburgh loyalists send in questions under the “#askneal” hashtag.

Well, a few Flyers fans, and anti-Pens fans responded. Some of their probing questions for the dirty hockey player known as James Neal ….

1.  James, do you get the biggest thrill out of kneeing someone in the head or cross checking them in the head?

2. If you could have any super power, how would you use it to hit opponents in the head?

3. If you opened a bar how cheap would your shots be

4. If a tree falls down in the forest and nobody is around to hear it, does James Neal still cross check it in the face?

5.  what favorite memory have you robbed from one of the players you kneed to the head?

There are more, and they’re all funny. Click here for the rest.

I just love hockey fans.


Gun control suffers another body blow. Thank goodness for Jon Stewart. And a crazy B.A.S.E. jump off the Freedom Tower in NYC


As I watch gun laws across this nation get looser and looser, I just keep waiting and wondering when does it all end. When will the pro-gun people be happy?

Will owning a firearm and wearing it at all times become mandatory? How about instead of reading and learning to share, we make sure all kindergarten classes have shooting practice with real bullets for the 5-year-olds?

Soon I expect law not only allowing guns in churches, bars and restaurants, but there’ll soon be firing ranges back near the restrooms, so you can order your meal, then go get in some target practice.

I want to laugh at these outrageous ideas, but really, are we that far away from them being reality? Look at this law being passed in Georgia right now, that both the right AND the left say is the most extreme law in a long time: Guns being allowed in bars, schools, restaurants, churches and airports (here’s a question: Under this law, where can’t  you have a gun in Georgia?)

This is a law being opposed by the police in Georgia, by the Episcopal and Catholic churches, and by a majority of Georgians themselves. And yet, far-right wing legislators (and, incredibly, the Democratic candidate for Governor, Jimmy Carter’s grandson) are pushing and supporting it.

The last paragraph of this story is heartbreaking:

The issue is a simple one for Barbara Lawson. On Saturday, the 53-year-old Sandy Springs resident went to Milo’s to tape posters with her son’s picture on the bar’s exterior, demanding it be closed. Her son, Tekilum Terrell, 34, was killed there last April. “My son was killed in a bar with a 9-millimeter gun,” she said. “Without that gun, we’d still have him here. Do we need more guns in bars? After this? Seriously?”

I don’t know how many more mass killings it’s going to take before we turn this gun-worshiping culture around, I really don’t. I would’ve thought a young man walking into an elementary school and opening fire, killing so many innocent young ones, would’ve done it.

But no, apparently that wasn’t shocking or painful enough. So what’s it going to take? How many more have to die?

So freaking sad.

**Thank God we have Jon Stewart to point out the further absurdity of the recent “controversy” regarding President Obama’s appointment for Surgeon General:

The idea that saying anything negative at all about the NRA, even if you’re a doctor, could disqualify you from serving as Surgeon General, is just ridiculous.

**And finally, four guys did a B.A.S.E. jump off the top of the NYC Freedom Tower at the World Trade Center in September.
They just uploaded footage of it to YouTube the other day. And, well, now they’ve been arrested. (apparently they were being investigated before posting the footage.)

Still, fast forward to 2:45 and watch something really, really cool.

A Michigan State star bonds with a sick little girl. A sweet, different take on the “First Kiss” video. And “The Breakfast Club” detention turns 30


Even at NCAA Tournament time, we still hear so many negative stories about college athletes and college sports, but so many positive ones are out there and deserve to be told.

Here’s one that’s been told a lot: Michigan State senior star Adreian Payne met a sick little girl named Lacey Holsworth about two years ago, on one of the many trips Spartans players make to local hospitals each year. Lacey has been suffering from Neuroblastoma, a rare form of nerve cancer. She’s endured the discovery of a football-sized tumor that consumed her kidney, months with the inability to walk and cancer that’s spread to her neck and pelvic region.

But Payne has helped lift her spirits, calling her, visiting her, going to her birthday party, and having her be his guest at games.

Check out this great story from my colleague at, Sean Jensen, about their relationship, and watch this video about them as well: So great.

**You might remember last week I posted a video that had gone crazy viral called “First Kiss,” where a filmmaker asked strangers to come together and kiss for the first time, just to see what happens. It was sweet and cute and funny and awkward.

Well, this one might be even better, though a bit different. The Gay Women Channel on YouTube (yes, there’s such a thing) recruited 15 volunteers who admitted they were homophobic and asked them if they would hug 15 gay men or women, for their “first gay hug.”

The results are pretty interesting, and funny, especially after about 1:30…

**Finally today, we’ve reached a major milestone in the (cinematic) life of Generation X’ers like myself: It was 30 years ago Monday that the famous all-day Saturday detention happened at Shermer High School in Illinois. At that detention, was a brain, and an athlete, and a princess, and a basket case, and a criminal.”

They called it “The Breakfast Club.”

Some thoughts on the first four days of March Madness (but not on Duke losing). Rachel Maddow on the death of Fred Phelps. And Fallon and Billy Joel tune up

Syracuse v Dayton

Here’s what you won’t be reading today at Wide World of Stuff: A several-hundred word rant on the incredibly disappointing and sucky Duke men’s basketball team, which for the 2nd time in three years got bounced out of the NCAA Tournament in the first round by a vastly less-heralded team.

You won’t be reading that because since the game happened Friday afternoon, I’ve had more than 48 hours to stew about it, rant about it to my friends, and basically process it through my sports digestive system.

Instead, I want to talk about some of the other incredible stuff that’s happened in the first few days of March Madness, the greatest event in sports:

— Like the North Dakota State upset over Oklahoma on Friday night, which led to this awesome dancing from players and coach…

And the dancing from that Mercer kid I know I’m already sick of, Kevin Canavari, who played six minutes in their win over Duke but hey, kid’s entitled to celebrate:

— One of the constant themes of just about every upset, or blown lead (I’m looking at you, N.C. State): Missed free throws. It’s the easiest shot in the game, the one where no one guards you, yet every  year at crunch time players miss ’em. Crazy.
— Not shocking that Duke or Kansas lost early, because they were led by freshmen and sophomores. That’s why Mercer, Stephen F. Austin, and North Dakota State’s wins weren’t shockers; those teams have been playing together for years, not months. They know each other’s games so well.

— I know a lot of people don’t like Charles Barkley as an announcer, and I don’t like him sometimes, too. But he is damn funny.

— Dear CBS: We don’t need to see a little boy in the stands crying over Kansas about to lose, SEVEN times in the last few minutes of the Stanford upset over the Jayhawks. I mean, OK, show the kid once for the human drama, but to keep going back to it is cruel.

— I know that No. 15 Eastern Kentucky didn’t end up beating Kansas, and No. 16 Coastal Carolina lost their steam and fell to No. 1 seed Virginia, but those moments, where the underdog is winning in the second half and their bench is going crazy and the crowd starts to believe this really can happen? Best part of the Tournament, every year.

— Best team I saw over the first four days: Wisconsin. Second-best? Florida.

— Finally, I can’t tell you how infuriating I found that Chris Webber/Burger King commercial, though not as infuriating as any Michigan fan surely did. Chris Webber, if you don’t know, was a major star at UM in the early 1990s, leading the Wolverines to two nat’l title game appearances. You won’t find any of those wins Webber led Michigan to in the NCAA record books, because thanks to Webber taking cash and benefits from agents, all those wins were wiped out.

Michigan was also put on probation thanks to Webber, and the sanctions set the program back years.

And now here he is in 2014, 20 years later, wearing a maize and blue Michigan jersey in a Burger King commercial, making money for himself off his association with Michigan basketball! The chutzpah, the gall, the whatever, of Webber to do that is mind-boggling.

**Next up today, you may have heard that Fred Phelps, leader of the disgusting Westboro Baptist Church and one of the most odious human beings who ever lived, died last week.
Rachel Maddow beautifully dissects the “positive” legacy of Phelps. This piece is so worth your time, to reaffirm that so much hate, can breed so much love and compassion:

**And finally, Jimmy Fallon and Billy Joel team up for an awesome musical duet, doing “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” thanks to a cool iPad app called Looper.

Seems like Fallon can get his musical guests to do anything.

Good News Friday: An 81-year-old bowls his first 300. The San Jose Sharks do a great thing for a sick kid. And a Medal of Honor recipient and the buddy who fought for him.


And a Happy Friday to you all; whenever you’re reading this I can pretty much guarantee that I’m watching the NCAA Tournament, with a drink in one hand, a bracket in the other, and some sort of sauce stain on my shirt from whatever I just ate. What an incredible first day of games Thursday; four overtime games, and two buzzzer-beaters. Ah, I love the March Madness…

We start Good News Friday with an 81-year-old bowler who had the game of his life last week.

He’s waited eight decades, but now Ray Niedzwiecki of Luzerne County, Pa.  has found perfection on the lanes.

So naturally, he was a little excited about his first 300 game.

Check out this video of Ray getting his 300. Guy’s been bowling since 1949, and finally got a perfect game. Just perfect.

**Next up, an awesome story of a sports team doing well by one of its biggest fans. The San Jose Sharks have an 18-year-old superfan named Sam Tageson, who was born with a heart condition called hypoplastic left heart syndrome, and will likely need a heart transplant someday.

Still, Sam plays hockey and continues to defy his doctor.

“The doctors have given up trying to tell him no,” Sam’s mom said.

And thanks to the Sharks Foundation and Make-A-Wish, Sam got to practice on the ice with the team, meet the players and coaches, and then, coolest of all, skate out for warmups through the “Shark Head” all the players skate through before a game. It’s the first time a non-player has ever been allowed to do that.
Watch this video and realize, once again, how much power a small gesture of kindness can really have.


**And finally, props to my friend Andrew for pointing me toward this wonderful story of friendship and loyalty. You may have seen this week that 24 soldiers were awarded extremely belated Medals of Honor.

The story behind one of the awards is incredible; it involved a 40-year fight, on behalf of the uncle of musician Lenny Kravitz, by a remarkable man named Mitch Libman, who grew up in Brooklyn with future Army private first class Leonard M. Kravitz.

Written by Michael Daly of The Daily Beast, it’s a beautiful story of friendship and persistence. Guarantee you’ll feel better after reading it.

Are you ready for March Madness? I am. The “Seinfeld” bracket offers some tough choices. And (slightly) annoying the cat in your life


One of my favorite days of the year is here; if you’re any kind of a sports fan, you love the first two days of the NCAA Tournament.

It’s when, even if only for a few minutes, American can be beating Wisconsin, Delaware can lead Michigan State, and mighty Western Michigan can throw a tiny scare into fans of Syracuse. If we’re lucky, one of those teams will score a huge upset today, and there will be brackets ruined all over the land.

I love it so much. To get you in the mood, here are a couple of videos highlighting the best of the Madness.
First, a little flashback to 2005, when little Vermont beat mighty Syracuse, one of my favorite upsets ever: (Man, I miss Gus Johnson doing the Tournament. Nobody better for this event than him.)

And then, a pretty awesome compilation set to music of some of the best NCAA Tournament buzzer-beaters:

**Next up, has put together a pretty cool March Madness “Seinfeld” bracket, pitting 32 of the best episodes of the series against each other.
Some of these first-round matchups are really tough: I mean, pitting the “Puffy Shirt” episode against the “Bubble Boy” episode? That’s a Final Four quality matchup right there.

If you want to vote, click here to see the bracket. And here’s a clip from one of the No. 1 seeds:

**And finally today, how to get your cat to lose some of those excess pounds she’s put on lately:

This is just mean. But funny…

“The Americans” getting better and better. “The Princess Bride” meets Star Wars. And texting Shakespeare the best revenge for British guy


Just a little personal plug: I’m covering the NCAA Tournament for, and have written a bracket breakdown, since I know some of you are still trying to figure out your office pool picks (“Where the hell’s Mercer, and are they any good?” is a common refrain, I’m sure).  Check it out for some (hopefully) good advice. 

When a TV show has a great debut season, you hope that it’s not just a one-year wonder, and that the creators/writers can find a way to keep making it better.

Happily, I can say that three seasons into Season 2, “The Americans” is better than ever.
I am going to continue to beat the drum for this show, because it’s not doing great in the ratings and it’s the best thing on TV right now (don’t even get me started on “Parenthood,” which continues to infuriate me. Yeah, Adam and Kristina are going to just up and start a school for autistic kids now? Sure, that’s believable and realistic.)

“The Americans,” is a show you should be watching (Wednesdays at 10 on FX), not just because it’s acted brilliantly by Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys, and Noah Emmerich, but because the stories are so compelling. Every instinct in your body tells you that you can’t root for, and be invested in, the lives of Russian spies living in Washington, D.C. in 1982, but you are.

As good as last season was, as we followed Elizabeth and Phillip’s “fake” marriage and their many escapades in service of Mother Russia, this year has taken “The Americans” to a new level, ratcheting up the tension by bringing family concerns to the forefront.

My wife and I were on the edge of our seats for pretty much the whole show last week, and it’s been that way for each of the first three episodes of the season (it’s not too late to catch up!)
Watch this show. It’s better than anything else on TV right now. Trust me.

**Next up, as an enormous fan of “The Princess Bride,” I especially appreciated this: It’s a mash-up video of what would happen if the Inigo-Westley fencing match had happened with lightsabers:


**And finally, this made me really happy, as a teacher and English major. A 24-year-old guy in the United Kingdom named Edd Joseph was pissed off when he bought a PS3 game console for £80 and the seller failed to deliver the goods.

So Joseph got his revenge by texting the guy the entire works of Shakespeare.

From this story: “He sends it as one text but his victim can only receive them in 160 character chunks – meaning the 37 works of Shakespeare will buzz through in 29,305 individual texts. So far Edd has sent 22 plays including Hamlet, Macbeth and Othello which have been delivered in 17,424 texts.
“He reckons the remaining 15 works will take another few days to send – meaning his adversary’s phone will have been constantly beeping for nearly a week.”

Brilliant. I love it when smart people get revenge on lying jerks. Here’s my question: Think the thief took the time to read them all?”

Read more:
Read more:

The Malaysia Airlines flight disappearance: Scary as hell. The fans who dropped a star player in the air. And the history of the world in two minutes.


I haven’t commented here on the Malaysia Airlines flight that mysteriously disappeared from the sky on March 8 because quite frankly, there were already plenty of crackpot theories about what happened to that plane.

And like the rest of the world, I have no idea what happened to it, and I think it’s crazy irresponsible for certain media outlets (not mentioning any names, but it rhymes with Schmee-NN) to allow any and all insane theories to be broadcast. (This latest update I read Monday, that perhaps one of the pilots re-programmed the trip computer mid-flight, is just as plausible as anything else.)

It is incredibly scary to me that in 2014, an airplane carrying hundreds of people can just vanish, and all our technological wizardry in our current world can’t find it.

I cannot imagine the horror the families of the passengers are going through, nor can I imagine how this could have happened.

I mean, a plane disappearing out of the sky is a science fiction movie plot, not reality.

The longer this story goes without an explanation, the more mysterious it gets.

**My wonderful mother-in-law sent me this the other day, and while it maybe made me a little dizzy, it was pretty awesome.

As part of a high school project in 2012, a 17-year-old kid named Joe Bush put together a video of the history of the world. In two minutes.

Sure, he skipped some stuff. But it’s still pretty sensational and dazzling to watch.

**Finally today, from Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League, a story of a celebration gone wrong, as well as yet more proof that what goes up, must come down.

Barys Astana forward Talgat Zhailauov and his teammates returned home after a first-round playoff win (the club’s first ever postseason series victory) to be greeted by jubilant fans at the airport.

Check out what happens at the :25 mark, when Talgat gets thrown up in the air … and not exactly caught.

Poor guy suffered a concussion; he may not be able to play in the next round.