Monthly Archives: May 2014

Good News Friday: Jim Kelly, fighting cancer bravely. Twin sisters show true meaning of family. And “The Wonder Years” cast reunites and looks great

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Note: This blog post was written BEFORE I went to Madison Square Garden, screamed my voice raw, high-fived at least 48 strangers, may or may not have screamed into a TV camera, and watched an improbable Rangers season continue to the Stanley Cup Finals. I’m wiped out. Deliriously happy, but wiped out.

And a Happy Friday to all my readers. We start this week’s GNF with a simple photo, of former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly, who’s suffered way more serious losses in his life than those four Super Bowls the Bills came up short in.

Kelly’s son, Hunter, died at age 8 due to Krabbe’s disease, and now for the last few years Kelly has painfully been battling mouth cancer, which has spread and returned to his body several times.

But I was really uplifted by this picture Kelly’s wife, Jill Tweeted out this week, of the whole Kelly family celebrating his last radiation treatment in the hospital.

I mean, how many of us could be this upbeat, this positive, after going through what he’s gone through? Here’s a great story Peter King wrote about Kelly a few months ago as he was battling his cancer; truly, Kelly is an extraordinary human being.

Let’s hope, finally, his cancer is gone.

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**Next up, this is a really neat story about 8th-grade twins named Chloe and Claire Gruenke, who were competing in an Illinois state track meet for junior high school kids.

They were both running in a 800-meter race two weeks ago when Chloe Gruenke felt a weird sensation in her leg and suddenly couldn’t run anymore.
She’d hurt a quad muscle, and was in serious pain.

So Claire did what a twin sister does: She helped. She scooped up Chloe and carried her, piggyback-style, to the finish line.
The Gruenkes finished last, like that matters.

“It’s about showing compassion, love and sportsmanship, even if you lose and help somebody it’s still worth it,” Claire told WPTV.com. “The energy from the crowd made me stronger. They were saying ‘I can’t believe you just did that.”

More on the Gruenke’s wonderful story here.

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**And finally, I mentioned the other day how much I loved “The Wonder Years.” Well, happily, the cast just had a reunion to celebrate the long, long-delayed release of the show on DVD (the problem all these years was how expensive it was to license the iconic music used on the show.)

Winnie Cooper, we will always love you. And man, most of them have aged quite well.

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Richard Martinez rages against guns, and who will listen? RIP, Maya Angelou. And the Rangers go for a spot in the Cup Final, and I’ll be there

This is a short clip of an interview with Richard Martinez, the father of one of the victims from the mass shooting on the UC-Santa Barbara campus last weekend.

This is the sound of a human heart suffering, a human heart crying out “WHY?”, wondering what it will take for change in our nation’s gun laws to take place.
He is angry. He is anguished. He is in so much pain.
And no one in Congress is listening. They don’t listen to the majority of Americans who agree there should be stricter gun laws. They don’t listen to people like Richard Martinez, or the familes of Sandy Hook victims, or Aurora, Colorado, or Virginia Tech… They just don’t ever freaking listen.

And so sadly, all of Richard Martinez’s pain, all of his anguish, falls on deaf ears. I hope you’re as disgusted about that as I am.

**”People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” — Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou died Wednesday, and man, what a life she lead. Poet, author, teacher, leader, her titles could go on and on. She was a magnificent, courageous woman who led a life well-lived, and she will be missed.

I watched this again Wednesday night and was moved; it’s Angelou’s inaugural poem from Bill Clinton’s inauguration in 1993.

What a wonderful lady.

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**Finally, tonight is Game 6. Rangers-Canadiens. And I’m lucky enough to have a ticket.
And I’ve been going back and forth between excitement and dread all day. Excitement, because this is the biggest and most important Rangers game I’ve ever been to as a fan. My beloved team that I’ve rooted for for three decades-plus has a chance to make the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in 20 years. I could be part of a raucous celebration, one I’d never forget and one that I’d tell my currently in-utero child about long into their teenage years.

Then again, this is the Rangers. They never, ever do things easy. They haven’t won a playoff series in fewer than 7 games since 2008. They are at home, with the crowd behind them, the better goalie, the better TEAM, and yet I still could see myself and 18,000 others trudging out of MSG tonight at 10:30, pissed off and scared that the Rangers have to win a Game 7 in Montreal.

I am excited. I am nervous. I will have knots in the pit of my stomach all night.

This is why we love sports. Right?

The five best TV sitcoms of all time (well, my five favorites). And a scary sex-ed documentary

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Because I’m a man, and I’m a sports fan, I’m a compulsive list-maker. I think it’s a guy thing, but sports fans do it more than anyone.

Who are the top 5 QB’s of all time? Who’re the 10 best hitters of all time? Who is your all-time starting 5 basketball players (for me, that last one is very difficult. But I’d say Jordan, Magic, Bill Russell, Larry Bird and Kareem. I hate leaving Oscar Robertson and Wilt off the team).

Anyway, during a boring lunch-duty period at school last week (seriously, junior high lunch duty is not exactly rocket science, you just have to make sure the kids don’t stab each other with plastic knives), I came up with my Top 5 favorite TV shows, both dramas and sitcoms.

I was bored, so I actually argued with myself for a while to narrow it down to five. Would love to hear your kudos or vehement disagreements, that’s the whole fun of lists!

So here goes, first my Top 5 sitcoms, and next week sometime I’ll do dramas…

5.  Family Ties: The first show, post-cartoons, I ever loved and made a point never to miss. Thursday nights at 8:30, I was in front of my TV watching hilarious young Republican Alex P. Keaton, his former-hippie parents Steven and Elyse, their beautiful air-head daughter Mallory, and their brainy but often overlooked daughter Jennifer.
“Family Ties” brought the funny every week, and even the guest stars like Mallory’s boyfriend Nick and, famously, Tom Hanks as Uncle Ned were great. Every time I catch a re-run, I still laugh.
A clip from one of my favorite episodes, when Alex has a money-making scheme to turn the family house into a hotel for the weekend:

4.  Murphy Brown: Wildly underrated and underappreciated (much like “Coach,” and “Mad About You,” which I hated to leave off this list), “Murphy Brown” brought you into the world of the fictional newsmagazine FYI, and the cast was perfect: Miles (above), the nebbishy Jewish neurotic producer; Jim, the straight-laced anchorman with a dry wit, Frank, the insanely funny investigative reporter with an awful love life, Corky Sherwood Forrest (love that name), the bubble-headed blonde who couldn’t find a story if it smacked her in the head, and of course, Murphy, tough-as-nails, hilariously sarcastic and still with a good heart.

Really hard to find this show on cable these days, which stinks.

3. The Wonder Years: As my wife has just pointed out when I told her my list, “The Wonder Years” isn’t really a sitcom. But it’s a half-hour show and it’s my list. This show was so perfect, hitting so many high notes between drama, humor, and heart.
So many classic episodes that moved me; when Paul first makes the basketball team and becomes popular, and how that changes his relationship with Kevin; the ones where Wayne and Kevin stop their bickering and realize they love each other; my all-time favorite episode “The Teacher,” when Kevin gets close to math teacher Mr. Collins, only to see him get sick and die, and of course, this one below, when Kevin and Winnie’s long love affair pretty much ends.

Truly a groundbreaking show, one that moves me still. And every time I think of Jack Arnold yelling “Dammit Wayne!” I laugh pretty hard.

2.  Seinfeld: I have some friends, like Scott and Phil, who will scream “Blasphemy” at me having Jerry and Co. only at No. 2. And don’t get me wrong: At its best, like with “The Marine Biologist,” “The Opposite,” “The Contest,” and the Keith Hernandez/second spitter episode, “Seinfeld” was better than any sitcom, ever.
But in the first season and then the last three years, there were way too many episodes where they mailed it in. Where Kramer was doing the same schtick over and over, where George was his pathetic self, where Elaine made up yet another reason to screw up a relationship, etc.
“Seinfeld” was incredible at its peak, and no show could make you laugh harder. But it really stayed far too long at the party in my opinion. Still, I’m really glad its sense of humor has lived on in “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

1. Cheers: The granddaddy of them all, and never in doubt as my No. 1 choice. Sam, Diane, Carla, Cliff, Norm, Coach, Woody, Frasier, all integral parts of making the bar in Boston I visited on TV for a decade the most exciting, funniest place to be.

I could go on for hours about the comic timing, the brilliant acting, the writing that was great every single week, but you don’t have that kind of time. Instead, I’ll just leave you with some “Normisms.”

**Finally, I saw this on Upworthy.com and it scared me quite a bit; it’s a trailer for a documentary called “Daddy I Do,” and it’s about girls who pledge to their fathers that they’ll keep their virginity until they get married, and make these pledges at “Purity Balls.”

Creepy, and kinda indicative of how badly we do sex-ed in this country. I know from working at junior highs and high schools that sex-ed is far, far down the list of priorities, and it really shouldn’t be.

More vital proof that punctuation really is important. A soldier’s homecoming video that could make you cry. And a cool Memorial Day story from lacrosse

Quick blog today with some post-Memorial Day thoughts, as I leave Dallas and head home to New York, hoping to see my Rangers clinch a spot in the Stanley Cup Finals (getting chills just thinking about it…)

Maybe it’s because I’m a writer, but badly written sentences, misspellings, and terrible punctuation make me nuts.

I once stopped eating at a deli despite their great food because they kept having awful spelling errors in their menu boards (even after I pointed them out, they never changed ’em.)

Then there’s the badly punctuated signs, which are often hilarious. For example, saw this on Twitter: A Days Inn that really wants to advertise their food and thank our troops, at the same time:

memorialdaysign.

God bless you, Days Inn. The breakfast cooks of America absolutely deserve our respect and gratitude.

**Next up, these videos are always emotional to watch, and especially so around Memorial Day.
Check out this father and son reunion after a year apart, as the father surprises his son Hunter at his high school. The video’s from a few months ago, but really powerful:

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**Finally today, if you’re not a lacrosse fan like me, you might now know that Duke won its second consecutive men’s national title Monday, holding off Notre Dame, 11-9.

And if your first thought upon hearing the words “Duke lacrosse” are still about that baseless and completely unfounded rape investigation from a few years ago, here’s a much nicer story to think of, especially in light of the Memorial Day holiday.
A 29-year-old defenseman named Casey Carroll is much older than his teammates, but he’s got a good reason, and a hell of a life story, behind him playing nearing 30:  He  joined the Army in 2011 and served four deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan with the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, an elite volunteer combat unit, before returning to Duke for graduate school and one last fling at lacrosse. He prepared to come back for last season, but a torn anterior cruciate ligament pushed back his return to 2014.

He graduated Duke in 2007 but had one year of eligibility remaining, so he returned to go to grad school in Durham in 2013, and would’ve played last year. Only he tore his ACL and missed the whole season.

“I’d just hoped to make the team better by being around,” said Carroll, a starter in every game but one for Duke. “My platoon had injuries but, luckily, no one was killed,” he said. “But I did have friends who made the ultimate sacrifice.”

 

Four days in Dallas and I’m loving this city, big-time. Tennis players having a great dance-off in Paris. And a way-cool hypnotic juggling video

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Dallas is a city I’d never previously been to in my almost four decades of life.
Now that I’m here, I can’t wait to come back again.

As I type this, I’m sitting in the spectacular Omni Dallas Hotel, on the 22nd floor, looking out at the unique and beautiful city skyline.
Came here Thursday for a family wedding that was Sunday night, and I have been blown away by how much I have enjoyed this city, located in a state that generally loathe from afar thanks to its politics (I do love me some “Friday Night Lights,” though sadly I have seen neither Smash Williams nor Matt Saracen walking around).

I almost always like cities I visit for the first time, but Dallas has far exceeded my expectations.
Some random thoughts and observations from a New Yorker:

— Of course the first thing I wanted to do when I got here was visit the Sixth Floor Museum, aka, the Texas Book Depository (pictured above), where Lee Harvey Oswald, acting alone I will always believe, assassinated John F. Kennedy. We took the one-hour JFK Trolley Tour first, which was terrific, taking you through all the big locations of Nov. 22, 1963, including the hospital JFK was taken to, where Oswald shot a Dallas police officer named J.D. Tippit who was trying to question him, and then we went into the Museum itself.

It’s really, really well done, and I marveled that a President could actually ride through the streets in an open-air convertible, which is unthinkable today. There’s also an eerie quote posted, from JFK to Texas Governor John Connally on the morning of Nov. 22, saying “You know, it’d be really easy to kill the President if you wanted to.”

Really thorough and well-done museum.

— The food. Yeah, Texas is famous for its barbecue and ribs and I’ve gained at least five pounds eating here. Had a great waffle shaped in the size of the the state of Texas, very much enjoyed the baby back ribs, and overall realized that this is a really bad state for people on a diet.

— I’m not one to normally notice architecture and the design of buildings, but I’ve been struck by how different the skyscrapers are here. The designs

— Apparently there’s a state law that all women have to be blonde here; I’d say 85-90 percent of the females I’ve seen here are blonde. And in quite a few cases, I feel quite certain that their hair color, like other parts of their body, ain’t exactly natural.

— My father-in-law and I took a trip to Cowboys Stadium (sorry, AT&T Stadium) on Saturday, to take a self-guided tour and see what all the hubbub was about.
Stadium was breathtaking. Enormous, beautiful, and the prettiest and most garishly large scoreboard screen you’ve ever seen. For $17 admission, we walked on the field, went into the locker room of the players and the Cowboys Cheerleaders (sadly, no cheerleaders were present, though a replica of their tiny uniform was on display), and hung out in a suite. Hate the Cowboys, but the stadium was pretty cool.
Funny line was when we jokingly asked a Cowboys tour guide if Giants fans are allowed in. He quipped “Why not, Giants practically own this place.”

**Next up, the French Open started this weekend, and as always I’m hoping Roger Federer wins it (not likely) or that Novak Djokovic can knock off Rafa Nadal (possible).
For now, though, French star Gael Monfils and a fellow pro named Laurent Lokoli decided to have some fun with a “dance-off” during a rain delay at the Kids Day event before the matches started.
Both are definitely in the wrong profession…

http://vimeo.com/95369193

**Finally today, this was pretty mesmerizing. Not your typical juggling show, this is Yusaku Mochizuki doing a routine called “torque starter.”

 

Good News Friday: College students re-create the “Friends” opening scene. Cute sea otters rescued! And I’m off to Big D for the weekend.

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Greetings from Texas! Specifically, Dallas, Texas, where your humble blogger is spending the next five days, attending a family wedding and seeing this great city where I’ve never been. (I’m a little afraid that if I spend a few days here in Texas, I’ll start believing in creationism, stop believing in science, and have a distinct urge to buy oil.)

Planning to hit the JFK museum downtown today (yes, I’m a history buff but no, I don’t think there was a conspiracy to shoot the man), and hopefully see Cowboys Stadium, the Nasher Sculpture Garden, and maybe even the South Fork Ranch where they filmed “Dallas” (my mother would be so proud, she loved that show. Go ahead, hum the theme song in your head, it was a classic.)

A short Good News Friday post today, because I’m sorta fried after waking at 5 a.m. to start the day of travel Thursday (although I just discovered that there’s a square TV window built into the mirror in the bathroom here at the Omni Hotel in downtown Dallas. Freaked the hell out of me. But a cool feature.)

**OK, so I may never have been prouder to be a University of Delaware alum than I am after seeing this clip. Some communications students from UD re-created, exact frame by frame, the opening credits sequence from “Friends” in the early seasons.

Watch the UD re-creation, then watch the two sequences side by side. Pretty awesome.

Juno Sea Otter

**And finally today, a sweet story about some orphan otters, because hey, I bet you haven’t read a story about otters in a long time.

From this Huffington Post story:

“Two sea otter pups found stranded on California beaches this past winter are settling into their new digs in Oregon this week, and by the looks of things, they’re already feeling right at home.

Pups Oswald and Juno were found abandoned along the California coast in November and January, respectively, and rescued by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Sea Otter Research and Conservation program. After struggling to find experienced otters that could rear the pups for release back to the wild, the staff found them homes at the Oregon Zoo and the Oregon Coast Aquarium. They’ve since been deemed non-releasable by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.”

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I mean come on, how cute are they? I think instead of raising a child with my wife (whose birth is only three months away) we’re just gonna get some otters. I bet they will sleep through the night.

A disgraceful party on 9/11 Memorial grounds. The craziest way to do math I’ve seen. And the coolest husband/wife note ever

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Well this just pissed me off something fierce.

There was a lot of fanfare this week here in New York about the grand opening of the 9/11 Memorial Museum, as there should’ve been.

Thirteen years after the attack (and isn’t that just amazing that it’s been that long?), the memorial museum is finally ready to open, and from media reports I’ve read, it sounds spectacular.

But never, not for one second, should anyone who visits, or who manages, the museum forget that it’s built on sacred ground, and that there are still bodies and body parts buried underground there. It’s a special place, a place where so many suffered, and it should be treated with ultimate respect.

Which is why this was pretty disgusting: A VIP-only party was held to “celebrate” the opening of the museum on Tuesday night, featuring ex-mayor Michael Bloomberg and sponsored by Conde Nast. Actual first-responders to 9/11 were turned away from the event, this N.Y. Daily News story reports, and the best part?

The Information Desk on the museum’s lower level was converted into a bar for the night, an employee told the Daily News.

Just disgraceful. You want to have a grand opening party and get drunk and have all kinds of wonderful hors d’ouerves? Fine. Do it down the block, or at any one of 1,000,000 great restaurants in Manhattan.
But people are buried under there! Have some friggin’ respect.

As a palatte cleanser to that disgustingness, here’s a fantastic story from Steve Kandell, whose sister was killed when the World Trade Center was bombed. Kandell went to the museum as part of a special tour for victims’ families last week, and he wrote a beautiful, haunting tale. My favorite paragraph:

I think now of every war memorial I ever yawned through on a class trip, how someone else’s past horror was my vacant diversion and maybe I learned something but I didn’t feel anything. Everyone should have a museum dedicated to the worst day of their life and be forced to attend it with a bunch of tourists from Denmark.
Annotated divorce papers blown up and mounted, interactive exhibits detailing how your mom’s last round of chemo didn’t take, souvenir T-shirts emblazoned with your best friend’s last words before the car crash. And you should have to see for yourself how little your pain matters to a family of five who need to get some food before the kids melt down. Or maybe worse, watch it be co-opted by people who want, for whatever reason, to feel that connection so acutely
.

It’s really a great piece, one that those morons who decided alcohol at the museum grand opening party ought to read.

**Next up, I totally wish I had seen this video when I was struggling with math in high school. It sounds impossible, but this guy shows you how to multiply big numbers just by drawing lines on a piece of paper.
I know, it sounds nuts. But watch and you’ll be kinda amazed like I was.

**Finally today, I saw this on Facebook Wednesday and it made me laugh really hard.
Apparently this was a real note that a woman left her husband in the front of the house recently. Just fantastic:

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“Mad Men” was awesome this week. You really should be watching “Silicon Valley.” And I’m psyched for “The Americans” season finale

The Strategy

Haven’t done an all-TV posting in a while, as I’ve been fairly obsessed with the Stanley Cup playoffs, work and other things.

But three quick-hit thoughts on three of my favorite shows going right now:

First, “Mad Men” and I have been in a love-hate relationship for a few years, as I continue to be disgusted by most of Don Draper’s behavior, amused by Roger Sterling’s, and confused by many of the other lackluster storylines.

But the first half of this final season (they’re splitting up the last 14 episodes into two segments, one this year, one last year, because AMC can’t bear to see it go) has been stellar, and last Sunday was one of the best episodes the series has ever done.

(SPOILER ALERT) I love it when the investment you put into characters over years of a TV show pay off, and that’s what happened on “Mad Men” this week, when we had that oh-so-beautiful scene of Don and Peggy in the office, dancing to Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” near the end. Their relationship has always been awkward, alternating between jealousy (of him) and resentment (of her), but this was perfect; two very flawed people who’ve known each other for a decade, realizing they’re not living the kind of lives they wanted, and taking comfort in each other.
Really, really sweet. I also loved the Joan and Bob Benson stuff, with Joan clearly having grown some over the years, and any scene with Roger in a sauna with other naked men is bound to be great, which it was. (I’m even hating Pete Campbell a little less this season. But he’s still an ass.)
One more “Mad Men” left until they take a break until next year, and unlike some seasons, I’ll be sad to see it go.

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**Next up, I came late to the party on the HBO show “Silicon Valley,” but after missing the first few episodes I caught up and have been addicted ever since. If you haven’t seen it, it’s about a group of 20-something, ultra-nerdy Silicon Valley programmers who are trying to get a start-up off the ground before a major competitor does.

You’ve got characters who could easily be stereotypes and unfunny: the brilliant but socially awkward Indian guy, the nervous genius, the way-too-cocky Steve Jobs wannabe, etc. And there are two competing and completely insane billionaire investor rivals, who both want the start-up (called “Pied Piper”) really badly.

But the show is really, really funny. It mines the little moments and turns them hysterical. The Erlikh character in particular is hilarious, and of course Martin Starr (from “Freaks and Geeks” and “Knocked Up”) is terrific as well.

Definitely check out “Silicon Valley” if you can; it’s just funny.

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**Finally, extremely psyched for “The Americans” season finale tonight. I know I’ve raved about it on here a few times in the last few months, but really, I can’t praise this show enough. Things have been getting so tense the last couple of weeks, as danger encircles Phillip and Elizabeth, and maybe their kids.
Larrick is quite the psycho (not a shock, given that he’s an American-turned-Soviet spy, now gone rogue from both), FBI agent Stan is about to sell his country up the creek for a woman he loves (oldest story in the world, but told brilliantly here), and we have no earthly idea still who killed Soviet spies Emmett and Leann in the season opener. I still can’t believe they’re going to turn Stan from being an FBI agent into a spy for the Russians, but this show always surprises me.

I’m also hoping for Granny (the awesome Margo Martindale) to come back tonight and save the day, for Paige Jennings to run off and join the church and flee her parents, and for Henry Jennings to finally get that Intellivision he’s been wanting.

Great, great show.

The dumbing down of America is devastating, from Canada’s perspective. An amazing 6-year-old’s yo-yo skills. And the Rangers are 2 wins from playing for the Cup

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It’s something that’s completely obvious: America, and American politics, are getting dumber and dumber. To disturbingly large amounts of people, not believing in things like science, evolution, and rights to basic things like health care are badges of honor.

And as much as you and I know this, sometimes it takes an outside perspective to show just how bad it’s gotten. My buddy Pearlman pointed out to me on Twitter this fantastic, but utterly depressing, article from Maclean’s, a terrific Canadian publication, that was published recently.

It was basically an overview of just how far America has fallen, and why. Some of the eye-popping statistics, and I’m not even including the lead anecdote of the story, about an 8-year-old girl in South Carolina who suggested they have a state fossil, which of course became controversial:

— According to an AP poll, 42 percent (42!) of Americans are not confident life started with evolution.

–Only 53 percent of respondents were very confident childhood vaccines are safe and effective.
— In 1978, 42 percent of Americans reported that they had read 11 or more books in the past year. In 2014, just 28 percent say that, and 23 percent admit to not having read even one.

Understand: This is not just a “lunatic fringe,” or some obscure people in what Easterners dismissively call “fly-over states.” These are huge amounts of citizens who intentionally try to stay uniformed, and ignorant, and these are the people who are voting and driving cars and contributing to the stupidity of America.

It scares the hell out of me, I gotta be honest. It really does.

The most truthful line in the whole article? “If ignorance is contagious, it’s high time to put the United States in quarantine.”

I strongly recommend reading the whole piece here, but then watch some dogs playing or children laughing to cheer you up.

**And now, a 6-year-old named Kazuya Murata, who is way better than you and I will ever be at yo-yo tricks. I got dizzy just watching this kid.

New York Rangers v Montreal Canadiens - Game Two

**And finally, a few words about the New York Rangers. You know, every year as a sports fan, before your team’s season begins, you do a mental inventory and make a prediction.

You say, “OK, we lost these guys in free agency, gained these guys, here’s what the division looks like,” and so on, and you set a bar for where an acceptable finish for your team would be.
This year, for example I thought the Nets were good enough to get to the second round, and so they did, so I can’t be disappointed.

With the Rangers this year, I thought 2nd round of the Stanley Cup playoffs was as far as they could go. They were inconsistent, didn’t have enough scoring, had some injuries, so you know, 2nd round.

But holy shishkebob, look at them now. I look up and see that they won again Monday night, 3-1, behind some amazing goaltending from Henrik Lundqvist, goals from their top players (McDonagh, St. Louis and Nash), and a fantastic all-around team effort.

And I sit there thinking, holy crap, they’re six wins from the Stanley Cup. This could actually, truly happen. It’s so close I can taste it.

And I’m completely, utterly gobsmacked that it’s happening. Every year, one team gets hot in the Stanley Cup playoffs, gets some breaks (the Canadiens have to play with their backup goalie now since star Carey Price is hurt), has some bad things happen to the other team, and suddenly is skating around the ice in mid-June with the most beautiful trophy in sports.

Never, ever did I think this Rangers team could play for the Cup this year. But they’re two wins away, and now I find myself in a strange position:
I’ve got a ticket for Game 6, so I’d love to go to MSG and see them clinch the series that night, but I also would rather see them sweep and get ready for the Finals and not have to sweat it out.

Six wins away from winning a Cup. Amazing.

Store salesmen and distance: How much is enough? Michael Jackson comes back to life, freakily, in a hologram performance. And a cool video destroying young black male stereotypes.

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Thoughts while salivating at the thought that the New York Rangers are seven wins (SEVEN! as Monica Geller might scream) away from the Stanley Cup:

So Sunday afternoon the wife and I, along with my mother-in-law, are on Long Island at a furniture store, looking for bedroom sets to put in soon-to-be- Baby Lewis’ room.

And there’s a very nice salesman named Rafael helping us out. He showed us a few of the combinations my wife had found online, then showed us a few we hadn’t seen, and it was all standard stuff.

After about 20 minutes of touring the showroom, we thanked him and said we needed to talk a few things over.

He smiled and then glided about 10 feet away. And then stood there. And tried to make it seem like he wasn’t listening to our conversation.

Hey, maybe he wasn’t listening. But it was awkward, and it always is in these situations. Rafael had decided, somewhere along the line in his career, that 10 feet is far enough away to give customers’ space, but not too far away where they couldn’t find him if we had questions.

But it was uncomfortable for me, like it always is. I always feel like the salesmen are hovering, just waiting to pounce, and can’t wait to hear that “Yes, we’ll take it!” coming from someone’s mouth, and he can earn his commission.

But as the customer, you feel a little pressured. You want to be able to talk about what you just saw and maybe criticize some of it, but you’re afraid the guy will hear you, and I never want to rip a person’s stuff in front of them.

But you know, that little confab you have with your loved ones is really when the decision gets made, and I just wish the salespeople would, you know, go for a few laps around the store or something, and he could give us one of those electronic paging device thingies they use at restaurants now when there’s a line, and we could buzz him if we needed him or wanted to buy something.

It’s just an uncomfortable dance for everybody, ya know? Anyone out there with a solution, I’m all ears.

**Next up today, I’m not sure where the tipping point comes with music awards shows and doing crazy technological stuff to amaze the public, but this one last night at the Billboard Music Awards freaked me out pretty good.

Michael Jackson has come back to life; rather, Michael Jackson’s incredible holographic image has come back to life.
I watched it twice and I gotta say, even though the dance moves look pretty stiff (pun intended) and the hologram’s face doesn’t look that much like MJ, it’s still pretty visually stunning.

If the YouTube clip I embedded up above is down by the time you read this, click here.

**Finally today, I thought this was different and encouraging. A group of African-American high school students in Illinois were tired of all the tired stereotypes of young black men, that they’re all thugs who dress badly, act badly, and contribute nothing.

So they dressed up in suits and ties, and made this pretty cool video called “Suit and Tie in the 217.”