Monthly Archives: March 2016

Good News Friday: A soup kitchen in Kansas City unlike any you’ve seen. Seth Meyers on the day he became a Dad this week. And Iowa St. football players save a woman from drowning

KCSoupkitchen

And a Happy Friday to you all! It’s April Fool’s Day, it’s spring, it’s beautiful weather, and my son’s fever has finally gone away after a week.

All reasons for celebration. Here are three more to send you into the weekend.

First up, the fine folks at Upworthy.com again caught my eye and warmed my heart with this story. I have a special place in my heart for soup kitchens and food banks, because they do so much to help the less fortunate and hungry. This kind of soup kitchen, though, I’ve never seen.

The restaurant-style Kansas City Community Kitchen in Missouri doesn’t offer trays, buffets and waiting in lines like most soup kitchens.

When you step inside the Kansas City Community Kitchen today, a greeter shows you to a table. Waiters take your order, and there are tons of healthy options.

Diners are encouraged to leave reviews of their service and requests for what they’d like to see on the menu.

The kitchen also offers a six-month culinary training program for people who want to learn the food business but for various reasons, can’t do it at a school or academy.

This really seems like a wonderful place; if I’m ever in Kansas City, I’m totally going to check it out.

**Next up, I’m not a big Seth Meyers fan, I find him to be a little smarmy and not all that funny. But Tuesday night he told a really sweet story about his wife going into labor on Easter Sunday, and the resulting trip through Manhattan to the hospital.

My favorite part is when he writes the wrong name on the hospital form under “Father,” because I totally almost did that too…

**Finally today, it’s April and it’s spring break time and let’s take a minute to salute the fine men of the Iowa State football team, who took time out from drinking and checking out bikini-clad coeds on South Padre Island, Texas to rescue a drowning woman.

On March 16, a 22-year-old woman named Luisa Maria Castro accidentally drover her car hood-first into a canal, and it started to submerge.

According to the Des Moines Register, current seniors Jack Spreen and Anthony Lazard and former player Joe Doran came to her assistance, swimming over to the car and freeing her by breaking a hole in the windshield.

That car completely sank in less than a minute and if not for them jumping into the water and pulling the driver out, she would most certainly have drowned,” officer Michael Schiltz said in a statement from the city to the Register.

Senior Josh Jahlas, sophomore Spencer Benton and former player Matt Swoyer waited ashore and helped collect Castro there.

The story is slightly marred by the fact that Castro was driving drunk (she registered a .16 BAC), but still, a heroic deed was done.

Good job, Cyclones players! Now people should at least give you a break on that whole 3-9 record you had last season.

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Tales from subbing at a junior high gym class: It’s as bad as you remember. Sarah Silverman is back with a great election year video. And the NRA website gives Cinderella and Goldilocks AK-47s.

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So as I’ve said here many times before, I’ve been substitute teaching in the New York City school system for four years now, though since our son was born I’ve only been teaching once a week.

Usually I go to a different school each week, and it’s uneventful. I love getting “out in the world” without the little guy once a week, and I avoid the truly awful schools, and my experiences are generally fine and routine.

Lately, though, I’ve had a pretty cool assignment. My favorite middle school in NYC, one that knows me and has used me a lot, asked me to be a five-week fill-in for one of their three gym teachers, who is on paternity leave.

So for the past four Tuesdays, I’ve reported to the gym and stayed there all day. I didn’t get a whistle or wear a cool hat like the legendary Coach Cutlip from “The Wonder Years,” but it has been a fascinating experience.

Some notes from the phys ed experiment:

— I hated, hated, hated junior high, and the worst part by far was gym class. Being half-naked in the locker room, as an adolescent boy, is horrifying. Throw in that I was considered a bit of a nerd, and there were mean bullies in my class, and well, use your imagination.

Here’s a nice re-creation of gym class from the folks at “Freaks and Geeks.”

Happily, I didn’t see too much of that so far. Each gym period has three classes in it, and they are inter-gender (which mine never were), so we’ve got 90 kids and three teachers all in one giant room.

— And let me tell you something, it’s physically dangerous. Not for the kids, but for me. They’re doing a basketball unit and so everyone was playing hoops today, but not really playing games, just shooting around. I got hit in the head with a volleyball during 2nd period (we’d run out of basketballs), and then hit again in the head with a basketball during 3rd period. I don’t think I was concussed, but seriously, it’s a jungle in there.

— In the last month I’ve seen about 1,000 boys take half-court shots. I think 10 went in. I wish I could say this was the “Steph Curry effect” since he makes so many of them, but I seem to remember my friends and I trying ridiculous half-court shots, too. What is it about heaving the ball as high and far as you can that’s appealing to us? I truly don’t know the answer.

— So this was fun: Tuesday one of the male gym teachers was telling the students that failing gym could prevent them from getting into their preferred high school, and that they must have a “real medical excuse” to get out of gym.

So one 7th grade girl raises her hand and shouts “That’s so not fair, what if we have our period?”
I was shocked because I don’t think 25 years ago when I was in junior high any girl would ever, ever shout that out and make it a topic of discussion, in front of boys, no less! But I guess kids growing up today, between Instagram and Snapchat and Twitter and all that, share their lives completely and totally, and real life in school is just an extension of that.

— On that note, one hilarious threat from the female gym teacher a couple of weeks ago, to some 7th grade classes: “If you guys don’t be quiet and let me start the class, we’re going to sit here and I’m going to tell you in great detail where babies come from!”

The gasps of horror and “Noooooooooooooooooo!” screams could be heard all the way to California, I think. Needless to say, the kids got quiet.

Ah, junior high. There isn’t enough money in the world you could pay me to make me go back and be 12 again.

**Next up today, the great Sarah Silverman is back with another election-year video; in 2012 she famously told New York Jews to schlep down to Florida and make sure their grandparents voted.

Now, Sarah is supporting Bernie Sanders, and come on, is there any way I wasn’t going to post this video? It’s fantastic. Seriously, watch it. It’s 5 minutes and explains Bernie better than he ever could.

**And finally, I wish this was one of those stories from “The Onion” and we could all have a good laugh about it.

But no, no, it’s real. The NRA Family website and author Amelia Hamilton have created new versions of fairy tales where the characters carry guns.

Yep, Cinderella can now blow away those evil stepsisters with a rifle. Goldilocks wouldn’t have had any problem with those bears if she’d had her AK-47 with her! And Little Red Riding Hood, whoo boy, no worries on her walking through the woods now that she’s got her trusty pistol with her!

Seriously. This is a thing. Disgusting, revolting and just … awful.

A new North Carolina law encourages discrimination, and it’s disgusting. A great Trump/”Hamilton” parody. And the Final 4 is set, with one huge surprise

NClawprotest

We saw this in Indiana, we saw this with Houston, and now, we’re seeing it with North Carolina.

State and city legislators are scared out of their ever-loving minds at transgender people actually having rights, and being treated like everyone else.

It terrifies them to such an irrational degree, for reasons I can’t fathom, that they literally make up and change, and override hundreds of years of governmental rules just to stop fair treatment.

In case you don’t know what I”m talking about, last year the city of Charlotte, N.C. passed a measure protecting LGBT people from being discriminated against by local businesses. This law was set to go into effect on April 1, meaning of course it hadn’t even happened yet.

And yet, it was SO scary to North Carolina state legislators that a special session of the body was called, the first time in 35 years, to pass a law blocking local governments from passing anti-discrimination rules to protect gay and transgender people.

This new law, by the way, was introduced, “debated” and signed into law by Governor Pat McCrory in TWELVE hours, by far the fastest anything has ever moved through the N.C. legislature. (Seriously, a bill honoring native son Michael Jordan wouldn’t move that freaking fast.)

The new law establishes a statewide nondiscrimination ordinance that explicitly supersedes any local nondiscrimination measures. The statewide protections cover race, religion, color, national origin and biological sex — but not sexual orientation or gender identity.

Once again, the pathetic N.C. legislators who approved this claim it’s all about “public safety” in bathrooms, and more nonsense. It’s discrimination, and it’s disgraceful, and it is absolutely not what a majority of voters in N.C. are in favor of. And God forbid any city or town in the state want to disagree, well, this law makes that impossible.

North Carolina is a beautiful state filled with wonderful people, a place I came to love in the three years I lived there. But now it is just another state where legislators have been bought and paid for by special interests and rich billionaires, and so once again the will of the people is irrelevant.

Take a look at what the state’s newspapers have to say about this bill, and be at least slightly heartened that major companies like Google, American Airlines, Loews, and the NBA have denounced the law. Let’s hope the NBA pulls the 2017 All-Star Game from the state, and other companies boycott as well.

This is nothing but bigotry, pure and simple, and let’s hope the power of public shaming and corporate muscle makes a powerful sound that ripples from Asheville to Wilmington.

**Next up today, my awesome Aunt Linda sent me this a few days ago and I thought it was pretty damn funny. It’s the hit musical “Hamilton” parodied as if it were about a certain orange-skinned Republican presidential candidate, done by a group called the Rad Motel Sketch Comedy Group. Just a warning, there’s some NSFW (not safe for work) language in here. But it’s really dead-on accurate. Enjoy…

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**Finally today, after an incredible first four days of the NCAA Tournament, the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 rounds had nowhere to go but down. And while the last few days of games haven’t produced as many thrills, they still gave us several outstanding finishes, three worthy Final Four teams, and one that I have no Earthly idea how they’ve made it.

Some quick thoughts on the weekend’s action, which was compelling if not fabulously played:

— Syracuse? Really? A team that lost five out of its last six games down the stretch of the season, a team that many people (me included) thought didn’t even deserve to get a bid to the Tournament, makes the Final Four. Crazy. The way they did it, too, was stunning; Virginia completely controlled the game Sunday, for 30 minutes, scoring whenever it wanted, then suddenly forgot how to play basketball. An epic choke job when the Hoos were on their way to the Final Four.

I hate the guy, but you must give Jim Boeheim credit; The dude can flat-out coach. This Orange team isn’t great and struggled most of the year, but are on some crazy good roll right now, and Boeheim has them clicking. What a tremendous coaching job he’s done. A 10 seed in the Final Four.

— UNC-Notre Dame was incredibly entertaining, the most fun game of the weekend. I have no idea how the Tar Heels suddenly became deadly from behind the 3-point line, but that, combined with their huge size advantage up front, made the difference Sunday night.

— So great, now we get a UNC-Syracuse Final Four matchup, both schools having had academic/grade changing scandals in recent years. What wonderful representatives of college athletics. As one Tweet read Sunday night, “The North Carolina-Syracuse Billable Hours Outside Counsel National Semifinal, brought to you by Bond Schoeneck & King, is set.”

—The Kansas-Villanova game was compelling, even if the shooting was pretty ugly most of the night. The Wildcats are a lot of fun to watch, so many complementary parts, with Kris Jenkins, Ryan Arciadiacono and that Daniel Ochefu kid all meshing so well together. I’d love to see them win the national title.

— Buddy Hield of Oklahoma plays with such pure joy on the court. He can shoot a little bit, huh? What a great college player. Who cares what he becomes in the NBA, it’s great to see a kid stay four years and get so much better.

Good News Friday: A teacher writes a beautiful letter to reassure her students. An awesome Fisher-Price commercial on the future of parenting. And finally, some good news out of Michigan

Upworthy.LETTERPIC

And a Happy Friday to all of you out there in Internet-ville. I’m still bummed over the Duke-Oregon game last night won by the Ducks (who were the better team by far) but whether you’re feeling the same way for other reasons, or you’re already happy anyway, it’s time for some good news stories.

First up, anyone who’s been alive the last 10 years knows that one of the biggest issues in education has been the incredible over-reliance on standardized testing results. Teachers and students and parents ALL agree that there’s been way too much pressure put on students and teachers to perform, and that this is now way to educate kids, by making so much about the test.

Kids get so nervous and stressed before these state exams that they literally get ulcers and suffer anxiety attacks.

Well, one third-grade teacher in Indiana decided to do something wonderful for her students. A mom of a boy in this anonymous teacher’s class shared the letter above that was sent home to her son, Rylan, right before some state tests coming up.

Rylan was so moved by the letter that he cried in school, his mom reports.

The whole thing is great, but this was my favorite part:

“These tests do not define you. There are many ways of being smart. YOU are smart! YOU are enough! You are the light that brightens my day and the reason I am happy to come to work each day. So in the midst of all these tests, remember that there is no way to “test” all of the amazing and awesome things that make you, YOU.”

So, so great. I wish we knew who this teacher was; she ought to get a big raise or at least some Teacher of the Year award. Bravo.

**Next up today, this is a very cool little commercial from Fisher-Price that I really liked. It’s called “The Future of Parenting,” and it deals with the thorny question of how we can keep our kids from becoming screen-obsessed zombies without taking technology and innovation out of their toys and play time.

If this is what the kids of 2025 are going to play with, then I want to buy a Zoltar machine and come back as a kid in about 10 years. The books at the end are my favorite part…

**And finally, it’s been one bad news story after another coming out of Michigan over the past few years, with the despicable lead poisoning in the water supply in Flint finally garnering the headlines and changes it deserves.

But every once in a while, some good news pops up everywhere, even in Michigan.

This week it was announced that thanks to a new Detroit Promise Zone program, any graduating high school senior who is accepted to one of Detroit’s five community colleges won’t have to pay a dime for tuition.

The Detroit Promise Zone program, officially launched on Tuesday, will make it possible. At first the funds will come from a private scholarship foundation. But starting in 2018, some of the money will come from property taxes already earmarked for the program.

“It doesn’t matter whether you’re a high school senior preparing for college now or a second-grader whose college career is years away. The Detroit Promise will be there to help make a college education a reality,” said Mayor Mike Duggan.

He hopes that the program will eventually expand to cover the cost of four years of college tuition at a state school for each Detroit student.

No, it’s not a scholarship to Harvard. But it’s a start, and it’s a wonderful thing for a student in the inner city of Detroit to know they have a chance to make something of themselves. A hand

 

Getting old stinks, aka, I’m starting to feel 40. Alabama teachers to receive training on how NOT to have sex with students. And the best NBA injury reason ever recorded

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Spare a few thoughts today for the victims of the awful Brussels terror attacks. There’s no place in the world today that’s totally safe anymore. Just awful…

The photo above made me smile, though: This was Air Force One on its way into Cuba. What an incredible shot of a historic trip. I thought about writing about the terrorist attack today, but have no new thoughts to share; sadly these have become so frequent that anything I thought of to say sounded trite. So instead, I bring you a short bit about getting old, and two stories that will hopefully make you laugh.

I never actually “felt” 30 years old. I didn’t really feel any older, or different, or have any thoughts whatsoever about hitting a new decade.

I never felt 18, except I could vote and buy lottery tickets.  I never felt 21, except I could drink and gamble in casinos (which was a very big deal to me).

But let me tell you something, I absolutely have felt 40 the past few days. Yeah, I’ve been 40 for eight months now, but in the past week I’ve felt closer to 50.

Getting old sucks for everyone, sure. But 40 has snuck up on me physically. The littlest things now can cause pain or discomfort, and it makes me mad. A few days ago I was standing a certain way and watching TV in that position, sort of crouched over, for about 10 minutes.

When I got up, I had shooting pain in my lower back. Then it felt really, really stiff, and I had trouble walking for the next few hours. It went away, but that shit never happened before.

Then Saturday, I did a routine 3-mile run on a treadmill. I didn’t go crazy-fast, I didn’t do anything that I don’t normally do. I stretched before, I stretched after. And I’ve had right hip flexor/adductor pain for the last three days. Until today I thought I was just sore, like, you know, good sore from running.

Tuesday every time I took a damn step with my right leg, or shifted my weight to that side, I was in agony. I’m going to the doctor today, I’m sure she’ll tell me I have a pulled muscle in my hip or something like that, and she’ll give me some anti-inflammatory medicine, and send me on my way.

And I’ll realize once again, that this never used to happen to me. But now I’m 40. And I’m getting old. And I’m mad.

That’s all. You fellow 40-year-olds out there can surely relate.

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**Next up today, a wonderful and heart-warming story from the world of education. The state of Alabama has just seen its Senate committee approve a bill that would require teachers to receive an hour of training a year on sexual relations and other inappropriate relations with students.

The Education Policy Committee approved the bill by Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, the Decatur Daily reported.

The Educator-Student Interaction Training Act would require training on sexual or romantic contact, social media interactions, interactions outside the classroom and the use of corporal punishment and physical restraints in classrooms.

SERIOUSLY??? So let me get this straight: The state of Alabama feels a need to train teachers NOT to have sex with students? Can I please just imagine what the course trainers might say?

“Now folks, I know you all have needs. And I know you might think that Janette there in the third row is looking mighty fine in her crop top and shorts. And I know you might think that hey, she’s 16, she’s practically an adult, she and I can go out. But you just can’t do it, OK? Go home, watch some porn, and forget about her.

OK, class dismissed. Tomorrow: Why you older male teachers shouldn’t drive past college campuses in the springtime.”

**Finally today, I don’t usually laugh at juvenile humor too much, but this cracked me up. Maybe it’s because I’m a male. But on the boxscore for the Denver Nuggets game on Saturday night, beneath the players who played were listed the players who didn’t play and why. These are done in every boxscore for every NBA game, with the abbreviations DNP (Did Not Play) or DND (Did not Dress).

However, I’m pret-ty sure that the reason for Kenneth Faried missing the game was kind of unique.

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Let me tell you, that can be painful. Only thing worse? High sack soreness.

Poor Kenneth. He’s never going to live that typo down.

 

Someone’s going to get killed at a Donald Trump rally, and soon. What a real “parent fantasy” sounds like. And the craziest opening weekend of March Madness, EVER

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I don’t say this lightly, or flippantly, or because I’m trying to drive up pageviews on my blog.

I really and truly believe it: Someone within the next few weeks or months is going to get murdered at a Donald Trump public event.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, that in America in 2016, we have this incredible powder keg of circumstances that have conspired to make me think this.

But this is what we have: A Presidential candidate, the frontrunner for one of our two major parties, who lies, blusters and incites violence. A candidate who draws thousands and thousands of Americans to his rallies, people who may already have their own prejudices and predilection toward violence.

A candidate who then, from the stage every chance he gets, stokes hatred and violence. And tells those followers that they should “punch someone in the face” or “have them taken out on a stretcher” or says “I’ll pay your legal fees” if you beat someone up.

And what do you know, the acolytes listen and take their cue from their leader. And then the candidate throws up his hands and says, in effect, “What do you want from me? I’m not telling them to do it. And the protesters started it!”

There was more violence at Trump events this weekend, in Arizona and elsewhere. So far the injuries have been minor, and the police have been there to break it up, but this shit is not going away. Not anytime soon.

And pretty soon, someone’s going to have a concealed gun at one of these rallies, or in the parking lot, and tempers will flare, and the gun will go off, and people will be shocked (SHOCKED) that this could happen.

I won’t be. You shouldn’t be either. This is what happens when a person adored and worshipped by thousands and thousands encourages violence.

Someone’s going to die. And it’s completely, totally preventable.

And it’ll be a goddamn shame when it happens. Just don’t be surprised.

Because it’s coming. It’s most definitely coming.

**Next, my good friend Amanda pointed this video to me a few weeks back, and I’m sure all parents of babies/toddlers will appreciate the humor. It’s a short skit from the comedy team “Hamish and Andy” called “Parent Fantasy hotline,” and it illustrates exactly what kind of fantasy new parents really would enjoy…

**Finally… I don’t know what to say. I’m speechless. I am without speech. I’m sitting here at 11:16 p.m. Eastern having just watched the most epic collapse in NCAA Tournament history. Probably in basketball history.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, the University of Northern Iowa had a 12-point lead with 44 seconds left over Texas A&M Sunday night. I mean, it was over. There was a better chance of a meteorite striking the arena than there was of the Aggies coming back.

And yet, they did. Texas A&M scored 12 points in those 44 seconds to tie the game, then won in double overtime.

It was epic. It was improbable. And it capped off probably the greatest, most exciting first weekend in NCAA Tournament history.

I know, I know, “recency bias” affects all of us. Everything that just happened we proclaim the greatest ever. But this time, it’s true.

We had buzzer-beaters. We had last-second layups. We had dramatic 3-pointers for the win (Wisconsin last night over Xavier). Hell, last night’s game wasn’t even Northern Iowa’s most dramatic game of the weekend! That came Friday night (above), when Paul Jesperson hit a half-court heave at the buzzer to win.

So much incredible action went on, I can’t even begin to recap it. My brain is mush right now, so if some of this doesn’t make sense, my apologies. But some quick-hit thoughts from the weekend:

–Gotta say a few words about my favorite team. Duke tried really hard to blow that 20-plus point lead against Yale Saturday. This Blue Devils team is very fragile, with a huge swing between being great and being awful always nearby. I have said repeatedly that given what this team lacks, making the Sweet 16 was all we fans could hope for. Now they’ve made it; everything else is gravy.

— I so wish Gus Johnson had been calling that Northern Iowa ending, either Friday night or Sunday night. Then again, nah. He would’ve had a heart attack at the end of regulation and they’d have had to revive him during the OT’s.

— Villanova is looking scary good. Kansas, too. And Gonzaga, they were the most impressive team I saw all weekend.

— Not sure who knows less about a topic they discuss all the time on TV: Charles Barkley on college basketball, or Donald Trump on world affairs. We all love Barkley’s personality, but could he watch, maybe one or two college games before March when he’s on TV all the time analyzing?

— Thank God there are no more games now until Thursday. I need a few days to recover.

The Madness of March is here! Yale and Little Rock try on Cinderella’s slipper. More proof chocolate is really good for your health! And the Blackhawks do more awesome work in the community

 

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And a Happy Friday to you all!

We slightly change our format from the usual Good News Friday today because it’s March Madness, and I’m pathologically unable to NOT write about the greatest event in sports.

Thursday was the first day of the Tournament, and while some of my bigger upset picks didn’t happen (Iona, you let me down by playing zero defense), there were a bunch of exciting games.

The game I hoped was less exciting was the first one, as my Duke boys gave me many anxious moments against No. 13 UNC-Wilmington. I said here the other day that I was a little torn because I helped cover the UNCW team for a few years in the late 1990s at my first newspaper job in North Carolina, so if they were playing anyone else, I’d have been cheering my brains out for them.

But Thursday I was terrified of the Seahawks, who gave Duke everything they wanted before the Blue Devils finally pulled out a 93-85 win. Duke found a way to win despite playing very little defense thanks to Marshall Plumlee, who had a bunch of monster slam dunks in the second half.

Amazing how far that kid has come as a player; he was completely useless his first three years.

— The big upsets Thursday were by the 12 seeds, Yale and Arkansas-Little Rock. Yale, in the Tournament for the first time since JFK was President (1962), out-hustled and outplayed Baylor. It was a player from Baylor, Taurean Prince, though, who had the greatest quote of Thursday:

— And of course, now it’s Yale vs. Duke on Saturday, in a game some mean people on Twitter are calling “the ultimate white preppy snob game of all time,” or something like that.

— One of my favorite things about the first two days is always the early excitement when a huge underdog gets ahead. When No. 16 Florida Gulf Coast had a first-half lead against No. 1 UNC, it was incredibly exciting.

— Best team I saw Thursday? Indiana. They looked dominant almost throughout. Worst team? Um, Arizona decided not to show up. Brutal effort by the Wildcats.

— Hanging in a bar watching basketball for a few hours Thursday on St. Patrick’s Day is not the best idea if you’re not drinking. Man, did I have to hear a ton of drunk 20-something douchebags spouting off about things they know nothing about. Good times.

**Next up today, I don’t know that I’ve featured my beloved New York Rangers on this blog as often as I have the Chicago Blackhawks in the past year.

That’s because the Hawks just keep doing amazing things in their city off the ice, in the community. Check out this recent video (above): Head coach Joel Quenneville, team broadcaster Pat Foley and others visit a senior citizens center in Illinois that they heard had “some really active seniors.”

They bring sticks, and pucks, and jerseys, and look at how much fun, and how many smiles, ensue.

Very, very cool. There’s a joke in here about hockey players not having teeth and seniors wearing Dentures, but this is too nice of a story to make that joke.

BCYTNM Food - bar of dark chocolate on foil

BCYTNM Food – bar of dark chocolate on foil

**Finally today, some good news on Good News Friday: Chocolate is good for you! No, really, it is.

A new scientific study published in the journal Appetite, found that people who eat chocolate at least once a week saw their memory and abstract thinking improve.

“It’s significant – it touches a number of cognitive domains,” psychologist Merrill Elias, one of the leaders of the study, told the Washington Post.

Examining the mean scores on cognitive tests of participants who ate chocolate less than once a week and those who ate it at least once a week, the researchers found eating chocolate was strongly linked to superior brain function. The benefits, Ms Crichton told the Washington Post, would mean you would be better at daily tasks “such as remembering a phone number, or your shopping list, or being able to do two things at once, like talking and driving at the same time”.

Awesome. More reasons to eat chocolate chip cookies is always a good thing. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to work on improving my brain function and down some Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

The best show on TV, “The Americans” returns tonight! Looks like the end for Bernie, and Rubio. And my NCAA Tournament picks, guaranteed to be right

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The best show on television returns to the air tonight after what seems like an interminable wait.

And if you’re not watching “The Americans” on FX by now, its fourth season, all I can say is “WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU???”

Sorry to shout. But seriously, if you’re not watching, you’re missing some incredible television. Catch up on the first three seasons and you’ll get why myself, TV critics, and a small legion of fans are so addicted to this show.

When we last saw Phillip and Elizabeth Jennings, our favorite Russian spies living in Washington, D.C., in the early 1980s, they were dealing with the fallout of telling their American teenage daughter who they really were, and of course she was stunned.

Daughter Paige then cracks after only a few episodes of having this knowledge, and in the season finale, told her good buddy Pastor Tim at her church group.

I have no idea what a stranger finally knowing this secret means for Phillip and Elizabeth, and for the incredible cast, like FBI agent Stan Beamon, Phillip’s fake “other wife” Martha, or the Russian embassy in D.C.

But what I do know is “The Americans,” with its incredible writing, powerful acting, and just all-around awesomeness, is a show more people really should be watching.

Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys are amazing as the leads, and I’m very happy that Frank Langella and Margo Martindale appear to both be around this season.

“The Americans,” Wednesday night, 10 p.m. on FX. So psyched to have it back. And I’m going to keep writing about it until everyone watches it.

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**The fat lady is in the back warming up, getting ready to sing.

That’s my No.1 reaction coming out of Tuesday night’s series of Presidential primaries. After a pretty incredible run, that literally no one besides he and his wife (and OK, my mother) saw coming, the end is here for Bernie Sanders.

My favorite old Jewish guy from Vermont and Brooklyn was trounced Tuesday night, losing four states and as of this writing, barely hanging on in Missouri. He really needed to sweep the Midwest to keep this Democratic primary a real contest, and he just didn’t.

I am sad. I’ll have many more thoughts, I’m sure, about Bernie Sanders, and what he’s accomplished in this remarkable few months to make the Democratic Party exciting again to millions of liberals like me. But it’s late and I’m tired and right now, I’m just sad.

Couple other primary night thoughts:

— Trump. Again. Now seeming even more inevitable. And what a giant “fuck you” for him to the world, and the media, to bring his disgusting campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, onto the podium for his victory speech a few days after he allegedly assaulted a female reporter, Michelle Fields. God, will the vast majority of the American people be motivated to vote against this guy. So, so motivated. Ezra Klein of Vox.com explains why Tuesday was such a fantastic night for Hillary on many levels.

— I was dead wrong about Marco Rubio, folks. I said on this blog and everywhere else that when all the dust settled, he’d be the nominee. Silly me, I thought he’d be the best general election candidate. But he wasn’t batshit crazy enough to win primaries, and he turned out to be a terrible campaigner.

— CNN and MSNBC, showing minute after minute of empty podium while waiting for Trump to speak, while Bernie Sanders actually speaks at a rally, tells you all you need to know about the cable news networks, doesn’t it?

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**Finally today, my favorite four days of the year are about to commence! The NCAA Tournament tips off Thursday (yeah I know the play-in games started Tuesday but come on, the real tournament starts Thursday) and I can’t remember a harder year to fill out my bracket. I couldn’t find as many upsets as I wanted to, but I certainly couldn’t go “chalk” on my Final 4, like so, so many experts seem to have.

Without further ado, some quick thoughts on how I think it’ll shake out. Go ahead and pencil these into your office brackets, I’m never wrong (ha.)

Final 4: Michigan State, Oklahoma, Miami and Xavier. I just have a feeling about the Hurricanes, and Jim Larranaga is one hell of a coach. I’m going with Xavier because I don’t trust UNC’s guard play, and they are a hell of a team, the Musketeers. I’ve got Sparty winning the title.

First-round upsets I really think will happen: Iona over Iowa St. (if you only watch one first-round game, watch that one, 2 p.m. Thursday on TBS; final score may be 100-99); Yale over Baylor (Yale is really, really good); N. Iowa over Texas; and the whopper, Stephen F. Austin, a 14 seed, over West Virginia.

First-round upsets that could happen and I’m not picking them but you wouldn’t be crazy if you did: South Dakota State over Maryland (Terps have underachieved this year; they could go to the Final Four, or lose in first round); Gonzaga over Seton Hall; UNCW over Duke (my Blue Devils are very fragile right now).

— Surprise Sweet 16 teams, because there are always a few: No. 11 Northern Iowa, No. 6 Seton Hall (Pirates have great guards and have played a tough schedule well);

— Best game of the tournament will be: Virginia-Michigan State, for the third time in recent years, in the Elite 8. But Kentucky-Indiana could be lots of fun, too.

Enjoy the madness!

Everybody into the (NCAA Tournament) Pool! I give some early thoughts on a strange bracket. And Friends of Jaclyn gala is another beautiful, moving event

denzelMSU

Sing it with me… It’s, the most wonderful time, of the year!

And a Happy Monday boys and girls, and welcome to a college basketball fan’s version of Christmas. Last night was Selection Sunday, when the 68 teams comprising this year’s NCAA Tournament were announced.

As usual, there was controversy over who got in (Tulsa? Syracuse?) and who got snubbed (Monmouth and St. Bonaventure have 100 percent legitimate gripes), but we’ll forget about that in a day or two once the games start.

As always, yours truly is here to help you break down the bracket and maybe win your office pool; finally last year after many years of finishing badly, I won an office pool for the first time. Which means I’ll probably finish 28th this year 🙂

I won’t give you my Final Four picks until Wednesday, not out of any sense of drama but because I like to take a few days to decide.

But I have lots of first-look thoughts on the bracket, and the Selection show.

— First of all, screw you, CBS, for taking a perfectly wonderful show and process and messing it up. They stretched the bracket selection show to two hours this year, and took forever in unveiling the teams and matchups. Happily, this awful experiment likely won’t be repeated, since someone on Twitter leaked the complete and accurate bracket about 30 minutes in. Gotta love the Internet.

— Toughest region to me looks like the South. Kansas is the No.1 overall seed, but they’ve got to deal with Villanova, Cal, Maryland and a very good Miami team. Brutal. The East is no picnic, either, for top seed UNC.

— Easiest region looks like the West. I know Oregon’s on a big winning streak, but I’m not sure they deserve a No.1 seed from a league that wasn’t great. Oklahoma has struggled, my Duke team isn’t playing great, and the No. 3 seed, Texas A&M, has had a breakthrough year but has little Tournament success in recent years. That region is wide open.

— Forgetting about the horrific snubs the Committee made (there are bad snubs every year), I thought the seeding was pretty strong. Maryland should’ve been higher than a 5 seed, and I think Iowa State got a very generous 4 seed, and I think Michigan State and star Denzel Valentine (that’s him, above) should’ve gotten a 1 seed, but nothing too egregious.

— I don’t expect much out of my Duke Blue Devils this year, but I’m a little torn on their first-round matchup against UNC-Wilmington. I lived in Wilmington for three years in the late 1990s when I worked for the Star-News and covered many of their games, so I still have a little soft spot for them. Lot of great friends I made then are still pals today. Still, I think Duke wins and then falls to a big, strong Baylor team in Round 2.

— Every year I hope and pray for a 16 seed to beat a 1 seed for the first time ever. I don’t see any 16’s capable this year, but Hampton might be able to give Virginia a game.

— As always, there are some fabulous possible 2nd-round matchups: Cal vs. Maryland would be superb, as would Kentucky-Indiana, and in a matchup destined to get huge ratings in Philly, Villanova could play St. Joseph’s.

— Looking for sleepers? Of course you are. I like Stephen F. Austin to upset West Virginia, I like Northern Iowa to maybe win two games, and watch out for Iona, they’ve got some solid NBA-level players and could absolutely beat Iowa State.

FOJ2016.gala.murphys

**Finally today, Saturday night my wife and I got to experience one of the highlights of our year, every year: I’ve written in this space several times before about the incredible organization called The Friends of Jaclyn, a group that pairs up children suffering from pediatric brain tumors with college sports teams across the U.S. It’s a wonderful charity filled with warm, loving people like the Murphy family (above), whose daughter Jaclyn is the namesake of the organization.

Saturday night, in front of hundreds of guests, we heard from children who’ve been fighting tumors from years, like the very brave Andrea Wojciechowski; from coaches who movingly talked about how the adoption process has changed the lives of their teams, and from the indefatigable Denis Murphy, Jaclyn’s Dad and the emotional heartbeat of FOJ.

As I’ve mentioned before, I write a weekly story for the group called “The FOJ Experience,” where I talk to adoptees and their teams about how FOJ has impacted them. Check it out here if you can.

FOJ is a wonderful, life-changing organization, and I couldn’t be prouder to support them with our time and money. Led by the fantastic, warm-hearted Executive Director Erin Perkins, FOJ has given hundreds of children happy experiences in times of such stress and pain, and seeing so many smiling faces Saturday night made me realize even more how important their mission is.

I wouldn’t ever tell my readers how to spend their money, but if you’re interested in helping FOJ or learning more about them, click here.

The latest edition of “The Daddy Chronicles,” starring an 18-month old who’s starting to talk, starting to get rebellious, and hugging everyone in sight

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And a Happy Friday to you! It feels like May here in New York City, I was honestly sweating last night sitting in my apartment, and not just because Duke blew a huge lead and lost in the ACC Tournament.

Thursday was a big milestone for my little guy; he turned 18 months old. Hard to believe he’s been with us that long, but every day he gets less and less like a baby and more and more like a little man, with lots of thoughts, desires, and definite likes and dislikes.

So I figured it’s time for a new edition of The Daddy Chronicles. Hope you enjoy reading these as much as I enjoy writing them; I know it’s impossible to stop time, but I feel like with these occasional blog posts about Nate I’m at least “capturing” a few of the moments along the way.

And away we go…

— So the big development in last two months is he’s started talking, ever so slightly. In addition to “Dada,” which he’s said for months, he’s now saying “momma” when we walk past framed photos on the wall with my wife in them; “Poppa” when one of his grandpa’s is around, and “no, no,” when he doesn’t want more food, or milk, or a particular book. He’s also about halfway to saying “shoes,” because he says “sh” when I say we have to put them on to go outside.

— Proof that hugging can be dangerous: My son loves to hug people. His parents, his grandparents, random kids he sees at his My Gym class. Couple weeks ago he was playing on the trampoline with this boy about his age named Wiley (or Wylie, not sure how it’s spelled). They were jumping together for a few seconds and then Nate went over and embraced Wiley with a big hug.

Remember, they’re on a trampoline.

So in my best Howard Cosell voice, “Down goes Wiley! Down goes Wiley!” Tears ensue. Ten or so minutes later, both boys are back on the trampoline, and we have an instant replay. Nate hugs, Wiley gets thrown off-balance, down goes Wiley. Tears ensue.

I looked at Wiley’s nanny and sheepishly said “I’m sorry, my son is just a hugger.” She was fine with it.
Last week, though, he had a play-date with his “girlfriend” and he wouldn’t stop hugging her for, like, 20 minutes. Following her around our apartment and everything. I think we need to teach the boy “personal space.”

Still, better hugging than hitting, am I right?

— His obsession with our cell phones and iPad has gotten out of control. I’ve tried going “cold turkey” with it this week and not even letting him see it. Of course, he doesn’t know it’s a phone, he thinks it’s called a “no, no,” because that’s what we say when he goes for it.
So now when he does see a cell phone, he runs over to it and points and says “no, no,” because in his little brain, that’s what it’s called.
Makes perfect sense to me.

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— I’m not sure we’re into the “Terrible 2’s” yet, but I can see them on the horizon. My son goes from zero to tantrum in two seconds sometimes. He can be perfectly happy, having a nice time, then I don’t give him what he wants, or take something away that he’s enjoying (like closing the refrigerator door, man, does he love the fridge) and he balls up his little fists and stamps his feet and the waterworks begin.
I’ve tried to start thinking of his tantrums like tornado’s: They’re awful while you’re in them, but they only last a minute or two, and then they’re over.

— Silly me, I sometimes try to reason with him when he does something wrong or dangerous. Then I remember he’s too young to fully understand what I’m talking about when I say things like “Don’t climb on that, you’ll fall off!”

— His favorite things to do now include: Opening and closing doors, and locking daddy inside the bedroom closet, then laughing uproariously when I open the door back up and put on a “mean face” at him; throwing milk and water cups when done with dinner, collecting shoes from around the house and putting them in their proper place by the front door; putting lids and tops on top of things, climbing up and down stairs, any stairs, at any time; and being spun like an airplane on top of Daddy’s head, for about 10 seconds, until I put him down and we both are kind of dizzy and laugh a lot.

Man, do I have fun with this kid.

— Finally, this one hit me pretty hard today: He’s understanding everything now, and at the very beginning of learning right from wrong, and good from bad. And it struck me that his mother and I are basically in complete charge of forming him. His values, his beliefs, everything we say and do to him will help him learn about how to be, and act, in the world. He’s completely depending on us to teach him everything.

And that’s an enormous responsibility in our hands.

I hope we don’t screw it up.