Monthly Archives: October 2015

Good News Friday: Finally, proof that hugs make you healthier! A Halloween commercial that cracked me up. And a woman who makes capes for sick children

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And a Happy Friday to you! Many of my fellow New Yorkers are a little bummed today, what with the Mets being down 0-2 in the World Series to Kansas City, but hey, it’s Halloween weekend, the World Series ain’t over yet, and life is good.

Life is even better if you give a lot of hugs, too. We lead off Good News Friday with this fabulous story about a theory from top scientists at Carnegie-Mellon (really, are there any not-top scientists at a school like that? Of course not)

According to this story I heard on “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me,” scientists at Carnegie Mellon have a theory that could help you stay healthy and get the scientists at Carnegie Mellon some hug action. According to their research, people who hug more are less stressed. And the less stressed you are, the stronger your immune system. So the more you hug, the stronger you become.

I knew hugs were good for me! I’m a hugger. Maybe an over-hugger sometimes. But I love hugs, getting and receiving them. Hey, I’m the son of a woman who used to have a bumper sticker that read “Hugs not Drugs.” (Thanks Mom.)

So this is great news. I’m so happy about this, I’m gonna go hug it out like Ari from ‘Entourage” always said to.

Next up, tomorrow is of course Halloween, a holiday I never cared for but of course since I know am a father have to suddenly care about (don’t worry, I’m taking the little guy trick or treating in our building tomorrow, it should be fun). Check out this new Halloween-themed commercial that takes a very different (and hilarious) turn than what you’re expecting.

**Finally today, another beautiful and heartwarming tale from upworthy.com. Robyn Rosenberger was a technical support employee for a software company when she decided to make a present for her 2-year-old nephew for his birthday. She decided to sew the tyke a superhero cape.

She liked it so much, she made a few more.Then she read online about a child with a rare skin disease named Brenna, and Robyn decided to make her a cape and sent it to her, too.

Word spread on social media and elsewhere, and suddenly Robyn had a business called “Tiny Superheroes,” making capes for sick children all over the world.

She’s now sewn capes for thousands of kids in all 50 states, and dozens of countries.

Watch the video above of Robyn telling her story in collaboration with American Express.

What an amazing woman. Truly an inspiration.

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“Steve Jobs” a rip-roaring, crackling good time at the movies. Another disgraceful police brutality incident at a school in S.C. And GOP Debate III, the insanity continues!

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(That World Series game last night, oh my God how fantastic was that! Too exhausted to write about it after it ended, but wow was that great.)

Sometimes, it’s like movies are made exactly for me.

Aaron Sorkin, my favorite Hollywood writer, pens a flick about Steve Jobs, one of the craziest and most brilliant thinkers of the 20th century? And it stars Kate Winslet, Michael Fassbender, Seth Rogen and Jeff Daniels?

Yeah, there was a 99 percent chance I was going to love this picture. The wife and I saw “Steve Jobs” Saturday night, and it was spectacular.

Honestly, I had so much fun at this film, and not just because it was a rare date night without the little guy for us.
Sorkin’s script was so sharp and funny and witty, it was like he’d totally forgotten how badly he’d screwed up “The Newsroom” and was channeling the best of his “The West Wing” writing.
The acting, led by Fassbender’s brilliant, frenetic turn as Jobs, was uniformly terrific, with Rogen surprising the hell out of me with the depth of his performance as Steve Wozniak, Jobs’ co-creator of Apple who got shunned to the side as Jobs’ star rose.

The movie shows Jobs as a complicated, often cruel, often whimsical guy, who had a knack for knowing what the customer wanted most times, but stubbornly refusing to yield to basic common consumer sense at others.

I came away from the movie not feeling sympathy for Jobs, but rather, being amazed he was able to accomplish what he did, with so many crippling flaws.

It’s a truly fantastic movie, with great insights into a man few understood. Go see it.

**Next up, you may have seen this video Tuesday, yet another despicable act by a law enforcement officer. This one thankfully didn’t result in a murder, but is distasteful for other reasons. Monday at Spring Valley High School in Columbia, S.C., a female student was assaulted and manhandled by Richland County sheriff’s deputy Ben Fields, one of the two officers who works at the school.

The girl was allegedly not obeying the teacher’s orders, and was asked to leave. Fields then ordered the girl to get up, before he yanked her wrist, wraped his arm around her neck, and FLIPS her (and her desk) onto the ground. Fields then drags her out of the overturned desk, throws her across the room, and jumps on top of her while instructing her to put her hands behind her back. At no point does the girl appear to put up a physical fight.

To say this was an incredible overreaction and a wanton abuse of power is an understatement. Incredibly, I saw some people on Facebook defending Mr. Fields Tuesday.

As my friend and e-migo, Dr. Rebecca M. said to me as we discussed this: “People are arguing that security needed to be called for a student not participating, so that learning could happen. If you think learning is going to happen after students witnessed THAT, congrats you have passed the sociopath test.”

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**Finally today, great night for obssessive channel-switchers like me: We’ve got World Series Game 2 (last night was a hell of a game in what ought to be a fabulous Series, I’m picking Royals in 7) and we’ve got Episode 3 of the long-running series “Which 2016 Republican presidential candidate can say the most crazy shit and still get the nomination?”

Yes friends, we’ve got the third GOP debate tonight on CNBC at 8 p.m, starring new front-runner Dr. Ben Carson, who likes to use Nazi Germany references when talking about U.S. legislation; The Man Called Trump, as the great Charlie Pierce calls him, Marco Rubio, who is the only candidate who actually scares me in a general, but can’t seem to get any traction; and W.’s brother, who is running the worst campaign this side of Lincoln Chafee.

One of these days I’ve got to live-blog or live-Tweet these GOP debates, because they’re so batshit crazy, filled with so many far-right ideas and racist, homophobic and xenophobic comments that my head spins.

Couple things to look for tonight: This is the first debate since Carson has surged into the lead, so look for Trump and others to attack him; also, look for Rubio and Bush to really take on Trump some more, now that there’s finally been some denting in his armor.

I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Kasich continue his theme of “sanity,” in a desperate appeal to seem different from the rest. This debate is supposed to focus on the economy, I’ve read, so with the U.S. economy humming along and the Affordable Care Act a big success in every way, can’t wait to see how they blame Obama.

Get your popcorn, this one ought to be a whole lotta fun.

A movie I’ve seen WAY too many times: Brady slays my Jets. How many tragedies can Oklahoma St. endure? And a beautiful profile of master NPR interviewer Terry Gross

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There are some movies I love to watch over and over again.

I can’t view “The Princess Bride,” or “Coming to America” enough, and if “The Shawshank Redemption” or “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” are on, I’m stopping to watch for at least 10 minutes.

And then there’s the movie I can’t stop watching, even though I really want to. It’s a movie I’ve seen so many damn times before, and it stars a pretty-boy quarterback who wears No. 12 for the New England Patriots football team, and in this movie that runs on a loop twice a year in the fall, the quarterback slices and dices the defense of my beloved New York Jets.

Oh, sometimes the script changes a little bit, sometimes the green and white get closer to beating the Pats; sometimes it hurts more than it does others.

But the ending Does. Not. Change.

I watched it again Sunday, and once again I got suckered in, thinking maybe this was a director’s cut or some new spliced footage coming in. My boys played a strong first three quarters: Ryan Fitzpatrick looked real good at QB, the defense bent but didn’t break, and even without the customary strong running game, the Jets were in every position to win.

The Pats were dropping passes, settling for field goals, and as soon as the Jets’ Brandon Marshall hauls in that pass to put the Jets up 24-16… only he drops it. And of course the Jets kick only a field goal, and of course Brady marches New England down the field for the go-ahead touchdown, and you know the rest.

Every damn year. So frustrating, because this Jets team is good enough to beat the Pats. But it never changes. The movie reel never runs out before the bad guys win.

Dammit, dammit, dammit. Forty years old and I’m still yelling at my TV over a stupid football game.

One day Brady will retire, and the movie might change. Maybe.

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**Usually, interviewers dream about, or are desperate to interview one or two famous people they’ve never gotten to talk to.

In the case of NPR’s queen of awesome, Terry Gross, it’s celebrities who fantasize about being interviewed by her on her iconic NPR afternoon radio show, “Fresh Air.”

Seriously, listen to some of these quotes from this fantastic profile of her in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine…

‘My No. 1 fantasy of all time is to be interviewed by Terry Gross.’’

‘‘I have gone so far as to rehearse answers to specific questions. … ’’

‘‘Every single time I hear a Terry Gross interview, I wonder what it would be like for her to do some research on me and do an interview.’’

Terry Gross has hosted “Fresh Air” for my entire lifetime (since 1975) and she’s quite simply the best interviewer on the radio, TV or anywhere else. This profile by Susan Burton really goes into who Gross is, how she gets inside her subject’s heads so, and what makes her tick. When I listen to her, I often find myself saying “that’s a great question, I wonder if I would’ve thought to ask that.”

She’s a maestro, and this profile is well worth your time today.

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**And finally today, you may have heard about the awful tragedy that happened Saturday afternoon in Stillwater, Okla. when a car driven by a drunk driver plowed into a parade celebrating Homecoming at Oklahoma State University, killing four people and causing dozens of ther injuries.

It immediately made me think: Is this poor school cursed? This is the third major tragedy the school has suffered in the past 14 years, all tied to the athletic program.

In 2001, a plane crash carrying men’s basketball team personnel and broadcasters crashed in a snowstorm, killing 10 people.
Ten years later, in Nov. 2011, women’s basketball coach Kurt Budke and assistant Miranda Serna were among four killed in a plane crash in Perry County, Ark., while they were on a recruiting trip.

And now this. It’s unfathomable, and awful, and no school deserves to continually go through this. It’s amazing that three tragedies like this have happened to the same place; I can’t imagine one small community having to go through all this.

Spare a thought for the people in Stillwater today, as old wounds just get dredged up again.

Good News Friday: A couple’s cancelled wedding leads to a huge feast for the homeless. A great story on a Make-A-Wish chapter in Arkansas. And Dan Barry on Mets-Cubs, written in 1908 style

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And a Happy Friday to you! Lots of good stuff to share with you today, as I try to remember if yesterday’s pointless and inane Benghazi hearing was the 11th or 12th time the GOP House has investigated this…

First up, this story went viral this week and deservedly so, but just in case you missed it, wanted to share it here. An engaged couple in Sacramento called off their engagement right before their wedding, when it was too late to cancel the catering and the reception and all that good stuff.

So the bride’s mother, Kari Duane, said that rather than cancel the reception, they invited Sacramento’s homeless for a once in a lifetime meal Saturday at the Citizen Hotel, one of the city’s finest venues.

From this AP story: “Duane said her 27-year-old daughter called her Monday to tell her she and her fiance had decided not go through with the wedding. Soon after, the family decided to share the nonrefundable event with the less fortunate.

“Even though my husband and I were feeling very sad for our daughter, it was heartwarming to see so many people be there and enjoy a meal,” Duane said.

A wonderful gesture. Clearly Mr. and Mrs. Duane have raised their daughter right.

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**Next up, “60 Minutes” did a story this week on one of my all-time favorite organizations, the Make-A-Wish Foundation. It’s such a simple premise: Send incredibly sick children somewhere they’ve always wanted to go, to meet someone famous or have an adventure.

The story focused on one chapter in Arkansas, in a rural community where families have very little money to spare, but give so much to this wonderful cause. (Warning: The end of the story is a bit of a gut punch.)

So many good people in the world, aching to do good.

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**Finally today, I can’t tell you how much I enjoy it when newspapers do stuff like this, just to break up the monotony, be creative, and have some fun.

The Chicago Cubs haven’t won the World Series since 1908. In getting swept by the Mets Wednesday night, it was assured that streak will live on.

So Dan Barry, the immensely gifted New York Times writer, decided to pen a column about the game written entirely in 1908 sportswriter language.

We get “smote,” we get “Bunyan-esque,” and we get “twirler,” along with SO many other fantastic turns of phrase. And check out the old-school page design (above) as well.

So, so good. Read, laugh and enjoy.

A trip back to UD to talk about college journalism leaves me inspired. Joe Biden, for the love of God, just decide already. And “Gilmore Girls” is coming back!

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I’ve said this before on here, but I’ll say it again: My experience at the University of Delaware’s student newspaper was the best experience of my life.

The three years I spent on the paper, staying up all night to make deadline, eating crap food, having wonderful memories with like-minded crazies like me who lived, ate and breathed journalism, still makes me smile every time I think of it.

It’s been almost 20 years now since my byline last appeared in The Review, but the darn thing still holds a grip on me. It’s where I first learned everything about how to be a reporter, how to write good stories, how to write bad stories, how to screw up so bad and then face the music the next day, and truly, how much bloody fun it is to be a journalist.

Anyway, back in June I wrote about how, but due to financial troubles, a bunch of UD alumni who worked at The Review were trying to raise money to help save it, and one of the things we’ve done is form an alumni association. Last Saturday I ventured down to UD for our first event, a workshop featuring current Review editors and us old geezer alumni.

We had a great turnout, with alums from places like the Philadelphia Daily News and Baltimore Sun coming back to lead sessions about writing, reporting and editing.

I led sessions on interviewing techniques and longform writing, and what I’ll remember most about the day was the passion of the current staff.

They told us stories about frustration with current administration, coaches who wouldn’t let them talk to players, and general, unbridled enthusiasm about their journalistic futures.

These people were me two decades ago, and despite the challenges facing journalism today, were full of passion and love for it. I felt fortunate to be passing along what wisdom I’ve gleaned to these 19 and 20-year-old kids, newbies in the field.

I loved talking to them and seeing their hope, and how much they still cared about my old student newspaper.

I hope their passion never fades.

(By the way, this is totally random, but when I did a Google search for photos of The Review,” that one above came up. And the guy on the right in the photo? Ray West. Kanye West’s father. How bizarre.)

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**Next up today, Joe Biden made some remarks at George Washington University on Tuesday, and he made a few remarks that seemed to be digs at Hillary Clinton, and a few barbs that seemed to be digs at Bernie Sanders, and he looks like a Presidential candidate, smells like a Presidential candidate … but refuses to say he is one.

A quick open letter to Joe from Delaware: Seriously, with all due respect Mr. Vice President, I’m getting Mario Cuomo flashbacks here. Either you’re running or you’re not. Poop or get off the pot (trying to be respectful here, he is, after all, the VPOTUS).

It’s late-October, the debates have started, nearly all the Democratic millionaires and billionaires have chosen their candidate, and all this waffling is pretty unbecoming of someone of your stature.

You’ve run for President twice before, and failed badly. Apparently, though, instead of going out of public office on a high note, as a terrific vice-president to a two-term Democratic President, you want to run again, where you’ll likely lose.

There’s no clamor for you to run, no void for you to fill. I don’t think you can beat Hillary, but it seems against your own better judgement, you’re going to run (just watch that Colbert interview from a few weeks ago again, that’s not a man who wants to do this).

Anyway, whatever you do, just make up your mind already. Please. Thank you.

**Finally today, this really could wait until Good News Friday but news this exciting just can’t wait: “Gilmore Girls” is coming back! Yes, one of my all-time favorites, a show with more words per minute than anything this side of “The West Wing,” is coming back.

Sorta. Creator Amy Sherman-Palladino and Netflix have announced that the inhabitants of Stars Hollow are returning for four 90-minute episodes, or mini-movies, or whatever.

Apparently they’ve already got a large part of the cast returning, with Lauren Graham, Alexis Bledel, Scott Patterson (Luke) and Kelly Bishop (Emily) agreeing to come back.

I really hope they don’t ruin the show and make bad comeback episodes. I mean, they have to set it in the present day and not try to go back eight years to when the show ended, right?

Anyway, I’m thrilled. I loved “Gilmore Girls” for its wit, wisdom, heart, and downright quirkiness. The scene above is one of my all-time faves, but really, there were 50 I could’ve picked from.

We’ve missed you, Stars Hollow. If there’s any justice in the world, Kirk will be mayor by now.

The Mets and Jets are awesome, is it 1986 and 1969 all over again? Larry David as Bernie Sanders is fabulous. And 2 amazing college football plays I must share

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Growing up on Long Island, I’d say 80 percent of kids are both Mets and Jets fans.
The fan bases are centered there, the teams both used to play/practice closer to us than the Yankees and Giants, and there has always been a tortured fan base vibe to both teams.

Luckily for me, I escaped one misery and became a Yankees fan. But still, the Jets have given me enough misery for a lifetime.

To be a Mets/Jets fan is to know the ending of the movie long before the credits, and to expect disappointment and take comfort in it; losing for Mets/Jets fans is a security blanket you can always count on.

Which is why I’m thinking about people like my friends David K. and Scott S. today, lifelong Jets/Mets fans, who’ve experienced more sports fan suffering than any human should.

But today, their world is upside down. Look: The New York Mets are two wins away from the World Series, with dominant starting pitching and a pretty-good infielder (Daniel Murphy) who’s suddenly the greatest hitter in the history of baseball.

And my New York Jets, with another impressive win Sunday to move to 4-1, suddenly with a shot to go to Foxboro next week and prove they’re a first-place team in the AFC East.

It’s nuts. It’s impossible. It NEVER happens.

Only twice in the history of these two terrible teams have they both been good in the same calendar year: 1969, when the Jets won the Super Bowl and the Mets won their first championship, and 1986, when the Jets ran out to a 10-1 start and the Mets won their last World Series (The Jets collapsed that season, but still, for a few months were the best team in football).

And now, it’s happening again. Do you know how much losing these fan bases have endured? How many injuries and bad luck and coaching ineptitude they’ve seen (we’re looking at you, Rich Kotite and Jeff Torborg)?

And now, at least temporarily, there’s joy.

Up is down. Black is white. Pat Buchanan’s a liberal Democrat and Jesse Jackson has joined the Tea Party.

It’s a mad, mad world. And I know lots of people are enjoying the hell out of it.

**Next up today, I love Larry David like most Americans do, and I love me some Bernie Sanders, as you all know. So when I discovered on Sunday that America’s comedian curmudgeon had surprisingly played America’s political curmudgeon on “Saturday Night Live,” well, there was no way this wasn’t going on the blog today.

That it happened to be really funny was a bonus; Kate MacKinnon’s Hillary has really gotten almost as good as Amy Poehler’s was, and David’s rant about emails, and the pens at the bank, had me laughing out loud.

**Finally, I don’t talk much about college football on here because, quite frankly, I don’t follow it or care for it that much. College football is by far the most corrupt college sport (I know, my beloved college basketball can be a cesspool sometimes too, but it’s not in the same cheating league as football), and it’s never meant too much to me.

But two plays in the past few days blew me away, first for its athleticism and the second one for its shock value.

The first one (video above) was a type of catch I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. Stanford’s Francis Owusu on Thursday night made this incredible catch against UCLA, trapping the ball against the defender’s back to score a touchdown. The close-up replay starts at :35… I watched it five times and I still can’t believe he caught it that way.

The second one got way more attention, because it was on Saturday, and it was the final play of the Michigan-Michigan State game. If you haven’t seen it, it has to be seen to be believed. Michigan was up 23-21, with 10 seconds left, and was about to pull off a big upset in this huge rivalry.

All the Wolverines had to do was have punter Blake O’Neill punt the ball, anywhere and for any distance, and they’d win. But O’Neill dropped the snap, and well, this happened… I’ve never seen a game end like this. Absolutely soul-crushing for 100,000 UM fans in Ann Arbor.

Just wow.

The lede from the great Mitch Albom’s column in the Detroit Free Press Sunday:

Rub your eyes. Shake your head. Rub your eyes again. You will never see a play like that again and you will never see an end like that again and there may never be a game in this storied Michigan-Michigan State rivalry like that again, not one that ends more strangely or turns more fortunes than the final seconds of this chilled Saturday evening.

 

Good News Friday: The pizza delivery guy who got a $1,000 tip. The Swedish Chef does “Rapper’s Delight,” awesomely. And a gay kid who got bullied gets a beautiful apology

(I’m not writing about baseball today, but this home run/bat flip by Toronto’s Jose Bautista Wednesday was just about the coolest, most bad-ass move I’ve ever seen. Carry on.)

And a Happy Friday to you all. I know Dodgers fans aren’t too happy, but yeah, the rest of us can be. How ’bout those Mets!

We start today with a fabulous story from Pickerington, Ohio. A pizza delivery woman named Natasha Boyer brought a pie to the Sycamore Creek Church last week, and was rewarded with a $1,046 tip.
“We took up a special offering for a tip for you,” Sycamore Creek Church pastor Steve Markle told Boyer in front of the church’s congregation earlier this month.

“It’s $1,046, to be exact, and I hope that this can help you. I don’t know what’s going on in your life.”

Boyer, a 21-year-old single mother, woke up on Oct. 4 to find an eviction notice taped to her door. She went to work at a local Domino’s unsure of how she would make rent.

“It will help a lot. Thank you so much. Thank you everybody,” she said between sobs as the congregation cheered.

The mother of one told NBC 4i that the tip “blessed me so much and it saved my house and my son’s house.”

She told the station that, thanks to the gift, she was able to pay her rent and the late fee.

“They saved me,” Boyer said of the congregation. “God saved me from losing my place. I mean, it was truly the biggest blessing that I’ve ever received.”

What a fantastic pay it forward kind of moment. Here’s video of it; her reaction at 1:45 is so great…

**Next up, I don’t care if you’re a fan of “The Muppets” or not, I defy you to watch this clip from this week’s episode of the Swedish Chef belting out the classic “Rapper’s Delight” and not smile.

Go ahead, watch it again. And a few more times. It’s beyond fantastic. I haven’t even watched the whole episode yet, but now I can’t wait.

**Finally today, this was a beautiful video with a great message about maturity and tolerance. An Irish YouTube star named Riyadh had a very rough childhood thanks to being bullied for being gay. “I hated every minute of it,” he said.

But now that he’s older, he decided to try to talk to one of his biggest bullies, to see why the boy did what he did, and to have a chat about it.

The result is … fantastic. And poignant. And touching. The good stuff starts at 1:50…

The Democratic debate: O’Malley and Hillary shine, Bernie does OK. And an incredible “60 Minutes” story and the most arrogant D.A. you’ve ever seen.

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Well that was a pretty darn interesting two hours if you ask me.

We finally got to see a Democractic Presidential debate Tuesday night, with a manageable field of five candidates, giving all of them plenty of time (except, apparently, for Jim Webb, who did everything but stomp his feet, take his ball and go home because he wasn’t getting the time he wanted).

Was it thrilling? Nope. But that’s OK. It was substantative, entertaining, and informative.

I watched at a midtown Manhattan bar at a Bernie Sanders supporter “watch party,” packed with about 100 people. (So weird to see a whole bar quietly watching TV.) Lots of thoughts to get to about the debate, so here goes…

— Hillary Clinton won because she was Floyd Mayweather inside the ring: Touched up a bit but not really hurt. I thought Hillary was strong on the foreign policy stuff, she sounded pretty darn progressive on income inequality (a big pivot for her from the past), and luckily for her, the line of the night came from her biggest rival praising her (more on that in a minute). She’s an excellent debater, though I thought her answer on the Black Lives Matter question was weak, and she did a whole lot of dodging at the start when Anderson Cooper (who was pretty good) asked about her changed opinions.

— To me the clear star of the night was Martin O’Malley. I said the other day here that this was his shot to become relevant, and boy, did he seize it. He was direct, he was forceful, he attacked Hillary on some of her Senate positions, and he made a clear case for why he should be taken seriously as a candidate. His closing was terrific, too. I’m very, very happy O’Malley may start to get some traction now.

— As for my man Bernie … it went OK. His gun control answers were convoluted and all over the place, and it seemed like he was pressured from all sides and that the issue dominated the first half of the debate. He got much better as the night went along… and then he said this.

Lots of people at the bar cheered. I cringed and groaned. Bernie handed his biggest rival for the nomination an absolute gift, giving her a free pass on a situation that, while not the huge scandal the GOP is making out to be, is also not nothing. This is a real troubling situation that the FBI is looking into. And Bernie basically cleared it off the table. At least he admitted it was bad politics.

Overall, Bernie’s goal was to keep this a two-person race. I don’t think he did that. I think O’Malley will get a nice bump and it’s now a three-person race, at least for a little while.

— Nice to see a debate among grown-ups, without name-calling and actual policies and problems being discussed, not mindless platitudes and dick-swinging from macho male men.

— Jim Webb would make a real nice nominee for the Republican Party. He’s about as Democratic as Joe Lieberman was at the end. And bragging about killing a guy in his military service in his closing statement? That’s right out of the Republican playbook.

— More Democratic debates, please. And Lincoln Chafee, you can leave now, thanks for playing.

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**Next up, this story blew me away, from last Sunday’s “60 Minutes” program. It infuriated me, moved me, and made me want to strangle someone on TV like few stories have in a long, long time.

Glenn Ford was wrongly convicted and sentenced to death row in Louisiana in 1983. There was almost no evidence against him, he was African-American facing an all-white jury, and his attorneys were woefully unqualified.

Ford spent 30 years in prison before finally being released when new evidence came to light about his innocence, and he was finally released.

The story “60 Minutes” tells is about the anguish and remorse felt by the prosecutor in the case, Marty Stroud, and he comes across as very sympathetic and torn up over what he did.

But what really blew me away were the comments of Dale Cox, the current acting D.A. of Caddo Parish, Louisiana. This son of a bitch defends the prosecution of Cox, doesn’t believe any injustice has been done, and argues strongly FOR the death penalty as much as possible.

Here’s an excerpt from CBS’ Bill Whitaker’s interview of Cox, but really I urge you to watch the whole piece:

Dale Cox: I think society should be employing the death penalty more rather than less.
Bill Whitaker: But there have been 10 other inmates on death row in Louisiana who have been exonerated. Clearly, the system is not flawless. Are you sure that you’ve gotten it right all the time?
Dale Cox: I’m reasonably confident that– that I’ve gotten it right.
Bill Whitaker: Reasonably confident?
Dale Cox: Am I arrogant enough, am I narcissistic enough to say I couldn’t make a mistake? Of course not.
Bill Whitaker: But until this information came out, the state was convinced that Mr. Ford was guilty.
Dale Cox: Yes.
Bill Whitaker: He could have been killed.
Dale Cox: Yes.
Bill Whitaker: And it would’ve been a mistake.
Dale Cox: Yes.
Bill Whitaker: It sounds like you’re saying that’s just a risk we have to take.
Dale Cox: Yes.

So in Dale Cox’s world, it’s OK if you kill a few innocent people, that’s just the cost of doing business.

If this CBS interview didn’t cost him his job, there really is zero justice in the world.

 

A great Saturday in Westchester Co., walking for a great cause and then picking pumpkins with the little guy. Insane finishes all over NFL Week 5. And why I can’t wait for Hillary vs. Bernie tomorrow night

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Had a fabulous weekend slightly upstate, one of those perfect autumn weekends when you realize why James Taylor writes all those songs about fall in the Northeast.

Saturday the Lewis family went to two great events (well, one event and one outing): In the morning we attended the Friends of Jaclyn 3rd Annual Pediatric Brain Tumor Awareness Angel Walk, done over the Walkway over the Hudson pedestrian bridge in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. (pictured above)

I’ve written about my love and support for FOJ before; they’re the grassroots organization that pairs up pediatric brain tumor patients across the U.S. with college sports teams who “adopt” them, and greatly improve their quality of life, and lift their spirits.

I write stories for their website each week and have really come to so respect and appreciate what they do. Saturday’s walk honored those who have passed away from the insidious disease, and there were singers, bagpipers, and hundreds of family members, athletes and coaches there to pay tribute to those who still fight, and those who’ve passed. There was an incredibly beautiful moment at the end, when doves were released to commemorate those who’ve died. (Have you ever actually seen how beautiful a flock of doves are when they fly in formation? It took my breath away.)

After that we took the little guy to his first Harvest Festival, where he got to play with a whole heap o’ pumpkins, go on a hayride (it was a little bouncy for his liking, but still fun) and look at some farm animals from behind some chicken-wire fencing.

He was a little baffled by the whole scene, as to be expected, and some of the pumpkins were bigger than he was. But it was a great time (and cider donuts too!)

Just a terrific fall weekend all-around.

JAYCUTLER

**My weekly quick-hit NFL thoughts on a day the Jets rested, the Eagles finally woke up, and we saw a ton of great finishes:

— The NFL RedZone channel is crack cocaine, and Sunday at 3:30 I stepped up to the pipe, thank you very much. It just so happened that my boy’s nap time coincided with the last half hour of the 1 p.m. games, so I got to see the fantastic Redskins-Falcons finish (oh Kirk Cousins, from hero to zero so quickly), the great Browns comeback win over the Ravens (I know they stink, but once again, the Browns are so fun to watch), a terrific Jay Cutler throw and comeback, and the Bengals thrilling win over Seattle.

All that happened in like a half hour. And it was glorious.

— The Bengals impressed me the most; Cincinnati might really truly be for real this year. Seattle had the game won, on the road, in the fourth. Andy Dalton, I know, no one believes in him because of his playoff failures. But maybe he’s maturing into a winner? Maybe?

— It’s sad watching Brandon Weeden play QB in the NFL. It just is.

— A not-so-bold prediction: The Philadelphia Eagles will win the NFC East. They’re the best of a terrible division, and Sam Bradford will get better every week.

**Finally today, I’ve refrained for the most part at writing about the three-ring circus that is the GOP presidential field, because frankly there’s just so much crazy going on there that I don’t even know where to start, and because I know most people aren’t even paying attention to the 2016 race yet, and because I’m finding the infighting among the crazies (Carson, Trump, Cruz, etc) so hilarious, and because there’s a perfectly electable candidate who’s the only GOP candidate Dems like me are scared of (Marco Rubio) and no one in the Republican primary electorate seems to like him.

But for me, it’s time to start talking politics because tomorrow night we get the first major event of the Democratic season, the first debate. How will Hillary hold up under what I’m sure will be tough questions about emails and other topics from her, umm, colorful past? Can my original pick for this nomination, Martin O’Malley, finally do or say something to get some attention and some traction?

And most importantly, what I’m SO looking forward to seeing, is Bernie Sanders thundering away at Hillary and her sudden shift to the left. He has all kinds of material he can use against her, including her sudden shift against the Trans Pacific trade deal just announced last week, and her sudden interest in racial justice issues, and against big money in politics (she and her husband have been swimming in it for decades.)

It’s ridiculous that there will be only six Democratic debates this cycle (as of now), as Hillary pal Debbie Wasserman Schultz, head of the DNC, clearly set this up to give HRC as smooth a path as possible.

So it’s imperative that Bernie seize this moment and really show he’s a legitimate, credible alternative to her.

Get your popcorn ready. CNN, 8:30 p.m. Should be fun.

Some really smart prison inmates beat Harvard’s debate team (for real). 3 on 3 hockey OT is gonna be great. And the 101-year-old woman who still owns a candy store and loves it.

prisondebateteam

And a Happy Friday to you! Should be a really fun weekend for yours truly, with activities both meaningful and fun (my son’s going to his first fall harvest festival! For him, it’s getting to go on a hay ride and get his face painted. For me it’s just an excuse to go eat some cider donuts.)

Three stories this week on Good News Friday that hopefully will make you smile.

First, this story makes me smile, big-time. Study after study, anecdote after anecdote, illustrates the immense potential of prison inmates to rehabilitate themselves, get a real education, and become useful members of society if and when they get out.

And yet even though great strides have been made since Andy Dufresne built a prison library at Shawshank, funding for prisoner education programs lags far, far behind what it should be.

But look at a story like this, and tell me how you could possibly disagree that there’s so much potential in so many inmates.

Last weekend the Harvard debate team, the current national collegiate champs, traveled to the Eastern N.Y. Correctional Facility, a maximum-security prison upstate.

Inmates there have formed a debate club and get courses taught by professors at Bard College, located nearby.

The inmates at Eastern have gotten quite good at debates, beating the University of Vermont and the cadets at West Point.

But Harvard’s the national champs, so … yeah, the inmates won.

Read the details here.

“Students in the prison are held to the exact same standards, levels of rigor and expectation as students on Bard’s main campus,” said Max Kenner, executive director of the Bard Prison Initiative, which operates in six New York prisons. “Those students are serious. They are not condescended to by their faculty.”

According to this story, Harvard’s debaters posted a comment on their Facebook page after the loss.

“There are few teams we are prouder of having lost a debate to than the phenomenally intelligent and articulate team we faced this weekend,” they wrote. “And we are incredibly thankful to Bard and the Eastern New York Correctional Facility for the work they do and for organizing this event.”

Look what can happen. Education is the silver bullet for so many things, and can lead to so much. A bunch of prisoners just out-smarted kids from Harvard.

How wonderful.

**Next up, once again Steve Hartman and “CBS Sunday Morning” put out a story so sweet it forces me to include it here. Ethel Weiss is 101 years old and lives in Brookline, Mass.

For the past 76 years, she has owned Irving’s Candy and Toy Store, right around the corner from a school. And long after most people her age have retired, Ethel is still going strong, running the store by herself.

Her best customers are the kids in the neighborhood, who are fiercely loyal to Ethel. Just look at how sweet these kids are when they talk about her.

“Nothing can compare to her and that candy shop,” one boy says.

Really sweet.

**And finally, it’s hockey season, which is enough to get me excited normally. But this year the NHL is experimenting with something new and radical and awesome: They’re going to play overtime with just three skaters aside.

Which should lead to fantastic scoring chances, beautiful displays of skill, and utter chaos all over the ice. How will the players change lines? Are we going to see lots of breakaways? Will goalies stand a chance?

No one knows. Whatever happens, it’ll be exciting if you love the sport like I do, and it should be thrilling for everyone in the arena.

Thursday night we had the first regular season 3-on-3 OT, and this happened (above).

3-on-3 OT will make the best sport in the world even better. And that’s good news.