Good News Friday: Kobe’s relationship with his H.S. English teacher is awesome. “The 12 Pains of Christmas” always makes me smile. And a Canada children’s choir singing song in Arabic

at Verizon Center on December 2, 2015 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.

And a happy Friday to you all! We’re between Chanukah and Christmas and year-end lists are flying around like insults out of Donald Trump’s mouth.  Sad to report that it looks like one of my favorites, the Regrettheerror.com list of the best and funniest newspaper and magazine corrections of the year, is no longer. Seems the guy running it, Craig Silverman, got a new job and has shuttered his annual roundup. Bummer.

However, three happy stories to lead you into the weekend, where hopefully you won’t be stuck at a mall shopping… (and a fourth story that I’m not writing about simply because I could write about LeBron James’ kindness and generosity every week, and that would get boring. But what he did for a disabled fan in Boston the other night… so great.

First up, I’ve heard some fabulous radio stories over the years from Bill Littlefield’s wonderful NPR program “Only a Game,” but this one from last week’s show has to be among my favorites. You may remember a few weeks ago that Kobe Bryant, in announcing his retirement from the NBA following this season, wrote a poem called “Dear Basketball” and published it on Derek Jeter’s website, The Player’s Tribune.

Well, in seeking to find out where Kobe’s poetry inspiration came from, Littlefield tracked down his old high school English teacher from Lower Merion, Pa., a delightful woman named Jeanne Mastriano.

This seven-minute interview is just terrific, especially when Mastriano talks about the voicemail she left Kobe during the NBA Finals one year, and the stunning impact it had on him.

Can’t praise this short piece enough; listen to it here. I’m not a huge Kobe fan but anyone who loves his English teacher that much can’t be all bad.

**Next up, here’s a story that’s not quite as perfect as first thought when it went viral, but still pretty awesome.

A children’s choir in Canada performed an Arabic song called Tala’ al-Badru Alayna, which was sung by Prophet Muhammad’s companions to welcome him as he sought refuge in Medina. The beautiful performance went viral as it was shared as a welcoming event for refugees in Canada while the country was getting ready for the second group of refugees.

But… not quite. Recent reports suggested that the choir and the song did not have anything to do with welcoming the refugees, it was just something the choir director had wanted to perform for a long time.

Still, it’s a beautiful performance and should indeed be a sign that some countries (not America, apparently, but SOME countries) understand the meaning of compassion and welcoming in those who have suffered so much in recent years.

 

**And finally today, I try to run this song every year on the blog around the holidays because it always makes me smile. It’s an old song parody from the Bob Rivers Group, it’s called the “12 Things at Christmas that are such a pain to me.” I laugh, not exaggerating, every time I hear it. Especially, of course, at the “rigging up the lights guy.”

Enjoy, and take a deep breath, the holidays and the stress will be over soon…

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