Monthly Archives: December 2017

The Best of Good News Friday, 2017 Part 2: The father who interviewed his daughter on her first day of school, for 12 years, makes a beautiful movie. A Utah police officer sings to a blind woman in need of joy. And WWE’s John Cena meets those whose lives he’s changed

And a Happy Friday to you all out there from freezing-cold New York City, where I think the temperature was, and I’m not making this up, minus-211 today. Holy mother of God was it freezing. Anyway, hope wherever you are on this final Friday of 2017, you are warm. And I hope you have a great New Year’s Eve filled with champagne and resolutions you’ll break by MLK Day.

Continuing what I started on Wednesday, wanted to finish off 2017 with Part 2 of the “Best of Good News Friday” posts; I so enjoy doing these each week, but these three particularly brought me a ton of joy this year.

First up, maybe my favorite video of the year. A Seattle man named Kevin Scruggs has two teenage daughters, and about 12 years ago he had an idea: He interviewed them on the first day of school, every year, and filmed their thoughts. Then, with oldest daughter MacKenzie graduating high school this year, he spliced the video together, and gives us three minutes of tearduct-activating beauty.

My little guy started preschool in September, and the new guy won’t start school for three years. But I’m already imagining how hard it’s going to be when they graduate high school. This video gave me, as the kids say, all the feels, each time I watched it.

**Next up, this was definitely one of my favorite posts of the year: Officer Kristian Johnson of Utah’s Logan City Police Department was called to help Shirley Hardman with a microwave that wouldn’t stop beeping after she warmed a muffin. (I can relate, Shirley, a beeping microwave that won’t stop is enough to send me into a silent rage.)  Hardman recently experienced a kitchen fire, and because she is blind, she was nervous about a fire occurring again. She called the operator for help, who connected her with the police. A short time later, Officer Johnson was on his way.

After clearing the microwave’s error code, Johnson asked Hardman if there was anything left he could do for her.

She asked him to sing. He tried to beg off at first, but then did a perfectly-passable “You are My Sunshine.”

Just a beautiful moment, showing we’re all in this together.

**And finally, WWE wrestler John Cena didn’t know when he was called to appear to promote a sponsor of his, Cricket Wireless, that he’d be hearing from, and meeting some of this biggest fans. People whose lives he’d changed, get a chance to say thank you.

Whether you’re a wrestling fan or hate the sport, this video is special. I loved the hug between Cena and the little boy about halfway through; just such a wonderful, emotional moment.

I say once again: It takes so little to make so someone feel better. And as always, remember there is SO much more good than bad in the world. So much more.

See you in 2018.

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The Best of Good News Friday 2017, Part 1: Police officers carry a pregnant woman 6 miles to the hospital in a snowstorm. An adorable Daddy-daughter duet. And a fifth-grade boy’s first love letter is adorable

Hello there to all of my wonderful readers, hope everyone had an excellent Christmas if that’s your thing, and that you got all kinds of great deals and store credit when you returned the ugly sweater Aunt Ida got you this year.

If you missed Monday’s post, I mentioned that I’m going to end 2017, a miserable year in so many ways, with my favorite Good News Friday posts of the calendar year. Six stories: three today and three on Friday, to hopefully send this year out on a positive, inspiring note.

And heaven help us if 2018 is as bad as ’17… Thanks as always for reading.

OK, here we go. First, this story from January has stuck in my memory all year, as I still can’t believe the effort it took to make it happen. After a huge snowstorm in the northern India town of Shimlo, a 23-year-old woman named Kamini went into labor. The roads in her village were impassable; not even an ambulance could get through.

That’s when, amazingly, six policemen walked three hours and carried Kamini six miles to the hospital in the subzero snowstorm.

According to this story in India Times, the cops straddled Kamini to a cot, covered her in a blanket, and carried her for over three hours on their shoulders, wading through heavy snow and bearing severe cold.

Eventually they reached the hospital, where Kamini gave birth to a healthy baby girl.

— Cops carry pregnant Indian woman 6 miles to hospital, in the snow,

http://www.ntd.tv/2017/01/19/cops-carry-woman-labour-pain-6-miles-snow-storm-hospital/

**Next up today, this one was a huge viral hit on the Internet in February; Dave Crosby and his 4-year-old daughter, Claire, singing “You’ve Got a Friend In Me.” She is too adorable for words, and this makes me smile every time I watch it.

 

**And finally today, a beautiful little love note from a 5th-grade boy, to his first crush. Ah, we all remember our first crush: Mine was on Jill Deruga, in 2nd grade. Man, she was cute. We gave each other “I Love You” banners for Valentine’s Day that year, because clearly at 7 years old we knew exactly what love was. Check out the thoughts of this boy (above), and if you can’t read the handwriting, here’s what it said: (The “every Pokemon ever” line slays me.)

Dear Abby, your eyes remind me of the evening sky. My heart felt like broken glass until I saw you, and then I felt like I had every Pokémon ever. I love how you play Zelda even when people think it’s weird. If you liked me back it would be my first ever victory,” he wrote. 

I searched and searched for a follow-up story letting us know if Abby liked him, but alas, some mysteries are just not meant to be solved.

Merry Christmas, from your favorite blogging Jewish man. An awesome $10,000 donation to a church leads to wonderful results. And an 8-year-old dancing goalie makes me smile

Merry Christmas to all of you wonderful readers out there who celebrate Jolly Old St. Nick and all that the holiday represents. I of course will not be waking up today with presents under my tree; we had eight crazy nights of Hanukkah last week and my 3-year-old is still opening some of the gifts he received.

But I hope the Christmas celebrations were terrific in your part of the world, and that you have a great day. Quick programming note: I think I’m going to do something a little different to end 2017, a year that has been very difficult for so many. On Wednesday and Friday I’m going to present five or six of my favorite “Good News Friday” stories or videos from the entire year, to try to send ’17 out on a happy, uplifting note.

For today, a few cool stories/videos I hope you’ll like. First, as always, Christmas means one thing for us Hebrews: Chinese food! Happily the Lewis family and some friends will be chowing down on some sesame chicken and wonton soup tonight, so of course I feel obligated to post the great “SNL” clip from 2005 featuring Darlene Love singing “Christmastime for the Jews.”

The line at 1:33 about “Fiddler on the Roof” with Jewish actors slays me every time.

**Next up,  this Washington Post story pointed to me by my smart and funny friend Kelly M. was just beautiful. A church in Severna Park, Md. was stunned recently to receive an anonymous $10,000 donation, and instructed to give 100 members of the congregation $100 each to spend and improve the world in the small way they saw fit.

“Listen to the need that’s around you, that you find in the community. You may be in the right place at the right time to help somebody, because you have this in your hand,” said Rev. Ron Foster.

One hundred congregants walked out into the Advent season, with the money burning a hole in their pockets.”

What a wonderful gift. In the story the donor talks about wanting to do something good, to lift her and everyone’s collective spirit. More from Julie Zauzmer’s heartwarming story:

Ginger ale and soup and warm socks for a cancer patient. Snow pants and gloves so a child with a brain tumor can play outside. Christmas presents for children who are homeless, for children whose parents are struggling with drug addiction, for children whose parents have suffered domestic abuse, for children in the hospital. Cash for dozens of grateful strangers, from waitresses to bus drivers to leaf collectors.

I love how seriously the congregants took their responsibility, and how many did so much good.

**Finally today, allow me to introduce you to the dancing 8-year-old hockey goalie Noah Young, from Brampton, Ontario. If you think it’s easy moving with all those pads on, it isn’t. Someone get this kid a TV show, pronto.

Good News Friday: A major league ballplayer donates a $10 million house to a worthy cause. The amazing story of a woman finding her birth parents, 20 years later. And Steve Hartman’s annual “Secret Santa” trip hits ravaged Texas

And a Happy pre-Christmas Friday to you all! We were at Wide World of stuff world headquarters just finished up a wonderful Hanukkah that saw the 3-year-old wonder why we can’t get presents every night, all year, and the 7-week-old watch his brother open up all presents meant for him (“He can’t open them yet so I’ll help him.”) Me? I’m thrilled with my “haul,” which included the all-time great game Mattel Classic Football 2, a tiny, incredibly archaic little gem that I spent hours and hours of my childhood playing, often in the backseat of the car on family road trips (Seriously, it’s awesome. Any man between ages 35-45 would light up now talking about it)

Anyway, hope your holiday is going great, let’s get to some excellent Good news Friday stuff this week.

First, Cole Hamels is a former star major league pitcher who, along with his wife Heidi, made an awesome gesture recently. They were trying to sell a $10 million mansion they owned in southwest Missouri, but recently they came up with a much better idea on how to use this enormous property:  They are donating the house to a charity that helps children with special needs and chronic illnesses.

It’s called Camp Barnabas, and it does amazing things for families.

“There are tons of amazing charities in southwest Missouri. Out of all of these, Barnabas really pulled on our heartstrings,” Hamels, who turns 34 later this month, said. “Seeing the faces, hearing the laughter, reading the stories of the kids they serve; there is truly nothing like it. Barnabas makes dreams come true, and we felt called to help them in a big way.”

Very, very cool gesture. The house looks amazing, too.

**Next up today, this is an amazing story from the BBC. A young girl named Kati Pohler was given up for adoption by her Chinese parents, and adopted by a couple from the U.S., who raised her in Michigan. Twenty years after being adopted, Kati went looking for her biological parents. This is her amazing story in the 5-minute video above. What a wonderful tale, beautifully told.

**There are so many holiday traditions that I love, but my current favorite one involves the amazing Steve Hartman of CBS News, a wealthy Secret Santa, and the incredible joy he spreads every year, handing out $100 bills to strangers in December.

This year, Secret Santa went to help the good people of Beaumont, Tex., whose town was destroyed by Hurricane Harvey. As always, the looks of surprise, then gratitude on the faces of those he’s helped make it all so worth it.

So much more good than bad in this world. So, so much.

“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” a fabulous show from the “Gilmore Girls” creator. Dave Grohl and Foo Fighters with a fabulous Christmas song tribute. And the Japanese company that uses a drone to tell employees to go home

You know some bands or singers only have one great album in them? How some writers who seem fabulous write one great novel, then the rest of the work is so-so?

I’d been beginning to think that was how it was going to be for Amy Sherman-Palladino. She’s the dazzling wit and brilliant comedic mind behind “Gilmore Girls,” for my money one of the best television shows ever. For so many years “Gilmore” entertained and dazzled me and millions of others, so naturally when it ended I couldn’t wait to see what ASP (as we fans call her) and her husband Dan would come up with next.

Well, next was “Bunheads,” which was execrable. And then a few more forgettable network shows, and then the, um, confusing “Gilmore Girls” reunion movie which was just mediocre.

So forgive me if I didn’t have any expectations for “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” the new ASP project streaming on Amazon that just came out. Set in 1958 New York, it’s about a young Jewish housewife, Midge Maisel, who is 26, happily married and raising two little kids when her world gets turned upside down: Her husband leaves her.

And like most women who had that happen to them back then, she turned to becoming a raunchy stand-up comic.

No, seriously, that’s the premise of the show. And after watching four episodes so far I can happily say that ASP is no longer a one-hit wonder.  Because “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” is fantastic. It’s got a great star in Rachel Brosnahan, a terrific supporting team in Kevin Pollak and Tony Shalhoub, and really fabulous one-liners.

Midge is a survivor, who has been thrust into circumstances she never could’ve imagined, but every time you think we’re going to feel sorry for her, she comes out swinging. The show isn’t perfect; the husband character really ought to be totally written out (we’re only halfway through the first season, so maybe he does) but it’s charming, sweet and has a lot of heart.

Whew. Glad to see the woman who gave us Babette and Kirk and Lorelai has still got it. “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” Check it out, it’s fantastic.

**Next up today, because my wife is one of the biggest Foo Fighters fans alive she pointed me to this, and it’s quite excellent. Catch all the symmetry here: Dave Grohl had a huge admirer in David Letterman, and every holiday season on his show, for decades, Dave had Darlene Love come on and sing the beautiful “Christmas, (Baby Please Come Home”).

So on “Saturday Night Live” last week Grohl and Foo Fighters did a beautiful medley of their song “Everlong” which was Letterman’s favorite, but then segued into “Christmas (Baby Please come home) and finished up with the Linus and Lucy Christmas song from “Charlie Brown.”

Truly, a wonderful four-minute medley.

**Finally today, just a sign of how different our culture is from that of Japan’s. A hallmark of that culture is how hard its citizens work, and how rarely they take leisure time. So to try to combat worker exhaustion and fatigue, a company in Japan has started using a drone to fly around the office and tells people to go home.

I heard about this on “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” and thought it couldn’t be real. But it is:

To help deal with the negative health effects of overworking, an office security firm in Japan called Tasei has introduced a drone that flies around playing annoying music to pressure employees to leave.

The drone is called T-Friend, and at quitting time it will blast out “Auld Lang Syne” to try to get workers to go home.

It will encourage employees who are present at the drone patrol time to leave, not only to promote employee health but also to conduct internal security management.”

Wow. Kind of gives new meaning to the term “run out of the office kicking and screaming.” If I had a drone blaring music at me, I think I’d definitely leave ASAP. And then maybe move to another country.

“Murder on the Orient Express” surprisingly really good. Break up the Jaguars and Rams, and NFL instant replay is the worst. And as Christmas nears, my favorite Xmas song is in my head

It’s December, so among many other things that means, it means I see more movies in a month than I see the rest of the year.

My reasoning is that almost all the best movies seem to come out between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, I really don’t like schlepping to the theater and paying $18 to see garbage flicks, and there are always 3-4 movies out around this time that look right up my alley.

So recently my lovely wife and I started our December movie binge by seeing “Murder on the Orient Express,” which I had very low expectations for. It’s not the kind of movie I normally like, I hadn’t seen the original 1974 classic so didn’t know the story (nor had I read the Agatha Christie story it was based on), and my beloved was way more excited to see it than I was.

Honestly, what I was most excited about that night was that we were seeing it in a theater with those cool new reclining chairs that basically make you feel like you’re watching a movie on your couch (they’re pretty awesome if you haven’t been in one at a theater yet).

But happily, I was pleasantly surprised at how good the movie was. Starring Kenneth Branagh, Michelle Pfeiffer, Willem Dafoe and others, it’s a terrific film. Branagh plays Poirot, a mustachioed brilliant detective who solves crimes others cannot. Branagh hams it up throughout the movie and almost ruins it that way, but fortunately the story and cast are so strong he doesn’t overwhelm the film.

Taking place on a famous, luxurious train, the story follows the investigation into the murder of a wealthy criminal (Johnny Depp) by Poirot. Everyone is a suspect, and you’re sure at least a half-dozen times that you know who did it, but then something happens and you’re clueless again.

The acting, especially by Pfeiffer, surprisingly, is excellent. The script crackles with one-liners and the scenery is sensational.

“Murder on the Orient Express,” highly recommended.

**Next up today, I briefly found myself at a giant shopping plaza on Long Island Sunday, eight days before Christmas. As you can imagine, there are war zones in the Middle East that are less chaotic than the parking lot I saw. Just pure madness. So of course, when I encounter a scene like that, I think of my favorite all-time Christmas song, which I try to highlight every year here on World Wide of Stuff. I love No. 2 so much. Here it is, The “12 Pains of Christmas” by the Bob Rivers group…

**Finally today, NFL football is starting to get real interesting with only two weeks left, and Sunday brought a few sensational games, including, surprisingly, the horrid Giants against the best team in the NFC, the Eagles. Somehow the Giants almost won, though I continue to wonder: What the heck is Eli Manning still doing playing QB in these games? The Giants are 2-12, going nowhere, have a young, untested QB on the bench in Davis Webb, and yet continue to trot Eli out there when the season is lost.

Makes no sense to me. Seems like something my Jets, or the Browns would do.

— Couple stunning results Sunday: The Rams not just winning, but walking into Seattle, the toughest road stadium in the NFL the last 10 years, and winning 42-7. Forty-two to seven??? Incredibly rare to see the Seahawks spanked like that.

— And the Patriots, damn them, once again going into a hostile environment, getting beat up all day, then winning at the end. Of course it took another controversial instant replay reversal of an apparent winning TD catch by the Steelers (above) to help New England, and honestly I’d scream and yell about injustice today if I were a Pittsburgh fan but there have been so many of these terrible replay reversals, just about every fan base in the NFL could point to one. The “catch” rule in the NFL is impossibly stupid.

— Sucks to be a Raiders fan today. Another crazy finish Sunday night, as Derek Carr races for a game-winning touchdown in the final seconds against the Cowboys, then fumbles the ball through the end zone while reaching for a score. This is another rule that I don’t understand in the NFL: You fumble while trying to score and the other team gets the ball? It’s been that way forever so nobody questions it, but it seems silly to me.

— Also crazy from that game? Check out the 7:05 mark from this video, as an NFL referee used a piece of paper to determine if the Cowboys made a first down. It’s 2017, the NFL is a billion-dollar industry, and an index card helped officials Sunday. Insane.

On the other hand, it’s a good thing someone stopped at Staples before the game, otherwise they might still be arguing about that first down.

The “Daddy Chronicles” returns, now with 100 percent more children! Tales of baby poop, brotherly (over) love, and so much joy

 

And hello and Happy Friday to all of you out there. So as I may have mentioned, my life changed dramatically about six weeks ago when our second son was born, so I figured it was about time for a new “Daddy Chronicles.”

Now featuring twice the fun and hijinks! Twice the mess and twice the poop! And of course, twice the incredible luck I have, because once again it looks like we’ve made one fantastic little boy.

Seriously, Theo Henry Lewis is a really good little guy so far. Yeah I know every Dad brags, but he eats great, sleeps a ton, and cries only when hungry or wet (and quite frankly, aren’t we all always one of those two things?)

Some thoughts from my sleep-deprived brain on the first few weeks of our family as a quartet instead of a trio…

–Six weeks in, we’ve noticed quite a few differences from Lewis son 1.0 and the new model, Lewis son 2.0, with bugs removed and features added, including a highly-advanced operating system: For one thing, Theo loves taking baths. Kid just sits there and lets the water wash over him (well, sprinkle over him) and never says a peep. His brother hated them.

Also, tummy time? Theo’s a fan. He kicks and screams a little toward the end, but he can go for 8-10 minutes a a time, moving his head and seeming quite happy.

— Happy to report Theo’s a good sleeper most of the time. For the first month, though, he was really living the life of a touring rock star; his most awake and alive times were when I did the overnight bottle, around 2 a.m. He’d start breathing really heavily and his eyes darted around the room frantically. Basically, it was like living with a tiny meth addict.

Yes, I compared my kid to a meth addict. What the sleep-deprived brain will come up with, you just never know…

— When Nate was born I found myself, for the first few weeks, confused and disappointed that I didn’t feel the “instant bond” with my child. Of course my wife bonded with the boys immediately because she’d been growing them inside her body for nine months, but I worried why it didn’t happen immediately for me. Of course within a few weeks I felt the bond. With Theo, the same thing happened. For a few weeks he felt like a pooping, burping stranger crashing in our room. But now I love him to pieces and can’t stop thinking about him.

— So, of course one question everyone had after Theo was born was “How is his big brother Nate adjusting?” And the answer is, fabulously. Nate absolutely adores, worships and can’t get enough of his little brother.

Which is a little bit of a problem. We are pretty confident Theo’s first words will be “Leave me alone, Nate!” Seriously, if these two were adults Theo would totally have gotten a temporary restraining order against Nate by now. Constant hugging, constant kissing, constantly wanting to be with his brother… it’s fantastic, but a bit much.

Last week Theo was happily sleeping in a swing, minding his own business, when Nate walked over and in trying to embrace his new playmate, conked heads with Theo.

As you might expect, Theo started crying. Nate, annoyed, says to me “Why is Theo crying? I don’t like that.” I responded “He’s crying because you woke him up and conked him on the head!”

Not sure if the message took. Still, it’s great that Nate loves his bro so much.

— OK, so this has mostly been about Theo but I wanted to share two quick Nate stories. First, a few weeks ago we were at his friend Lincoln’s house, and his super-fantastic Mom Jill was making tacos for Linc and his two older sisters, Parker and MacKenzie. Now, Nate has never had tacos, never shown any interest in them, but Jill had laid out taco shells, meat, shredded cheese, etc. on their dining room table and all the other kids were digging in and building tacos, so Nate figured what the hell.

He took a few bites of his taco shell and seemed to like it, then put it down. A few minutes later I noticed he wasn’t eating, so I said “Keep eating your taco shell.”

He looked at me quite puzzlingly.

“Daddy! You called me Shell. I’m Nate.”

My wife’s name is Shelley, and of course he’s heard me call her “Shell.” I about died laughing.

— The other Nate story involves his love for Claritin. Like most toddlers who start school at 3, he’s had a succession of coughs and colds this fall and winter, so at night time we give him children’s Claritin in the grape flavor, which he adores.

He loves the medicine so much that even when he’s not sick, he about cries when we won’t give it to him.

So last week I walked in to his room and heard the following sentence from my wife: “No, you can’t have Claritin. You already had chocolate ice cream tonight!”

Not a sentence heard in most households, I’m guessing.

It’s a Hanukkah miracle: Tuesday’s scoreboard reads Decent human 1, awful human 0. “SNL” cold open with Santa was great. And a 9-year-old hockey goalie does a beautiful, noble thing

Not too often a Tuesday night in December can get your emotions ping-ponging so much, but it’s all not so often a sexist, racist, homphobic child molester has a fantastic chance to win a United States Senate seat.

Yep, Tuesday finally brought an end to one of the ugliest, most disgusting Senate races in American history, and believe me, that’s saying something.

Roy Moore, who believes we should ban all Constitutional amendments after the first 14, a man who rode a freaking horse to the polls Tuesday, a man who… shit, I could go on for 5,000 words about this man.

OK, OK, I’ll just write three more about him. Roy Moore lost

Roy. Moore. Lost! Sweet home Alabama, a Democrat former prosecutor and a pro-choice politician in the Deep South won. He didn’t win by much, about 21,000 votes, but that doesn’t matter.

What matters is that finally, human decency prevailed (it’s been taking a beating the last two years). Finally, an evil asshole was defeated. And finally, things are looking up for those of us who believe that at some point, American politics must bottom out, and truth, facts, and actual ideas will win.

As Ezra Klein put it on Twitter, “Tonight, Alabama did not elect a child predator who thinks Muslims should not be allowed to serve in Congress. That’s not the highest bar I can imagine for a democracy to clear, but I’m glad we cleared it.”

Hey, you’ve gotta start somewhere. Thank you, Alabama. Thank you, to the overwhelming turnout of African-American voters in Mobile, Montgomery and everywhere else. Once again, when more people vote, Democrats win.

A giant sigh of relief today. As some African-American dude who used to live and work in Washington, D.C. used to say: “Know hope.”

**Next up today, I didn’t see “Saturday Night Live” and its fantastic cold opening skit until Monday, and man was it fabulous. The little kid at the 1:50 mark has the best line of the whole sketch, and the other children in this were just fabulous.

It’s a Hanukkah miracle.

**And finally today, a small act of kindness from a 9-year-old hockey player made me smile. There was a youth game in Washington, D.C. involving the Georgetown Titans and Hagerstown Bulldogs. The Titans’ regular goalie got sick the day of the game, and no one else from the Titans knew how to play goalie.

So 9-year-old Leopold Hylton was tapped to play in the net, and let’s just say the first period went as you’d expect. Leopold gave up seven goals, and was having trouble moving with his pads on, holding his stick properly, all of it.

At the end of the first period, though, something remarkable happened: Bulldogs goalie Kaiden Whaley skated down to the other end, and gave his opponent a quick 5-minute lesson on playing the position.

One kid helping another, that’s all. Such a little moment. But such a big moment. Leopold only gave up three more goals over the next two periods. Kaiden Whaley must be a pretty good coach.

Said Leopold’s Mom, Anna: “Gratefulness. I feel so grateful for the beauty of that moment,” she said. And by the end of the game, all the other moms and all the dads were right there with her, cheering every one of Leopold’s saves.

“Leopold felt beautifully at the end of that game,” she said. “It was a moment that makes it all worth it.”

Thoughts from a 13-year-old’s bat mitzvah: I felt very old and very young. And a crazy NFL Sunday where it’s again proven that God hates Philly fans. And the Browns. And football in snow, rules.

As a 42-year-old balding husband and father to two young sons, I don’t go to a whole lot of bar and bat mitzvahs these days.

Shocking, right? In 1988 and ’89 that was ALL I did on weekends, and hey, looking like I did then (check out the photo at the bottom left of this page), who wouldn’t have wanted me to party with them?

Anyway, while my “Coke and Pepsi game” playing at fancy Jewish rites of passage are mostly over, I’m now old enough to see the new generation get to have a great bash. Saturday night the daughter of my first cousin, a terrific, smart and kind girl named Ava, got bat mitzvahed, and I was thrilled to be a part of it (that’s the happy family up above). As always, lots of thoughts scattered into and out of my brain, that I know feel obligated to share with you.

— OK, let’s get the fuddy-duddy stuff out of the way first: Man, I could NOT believe how my cousin’s female friends dressed. I mean, these girls had dresses that barely covered their tuchus, and had more bling on than a Pitbull or Meek Mill. I was horrified, and then quickly pleased that as much as I wanted to have a daughter one day, I’m a little relieved that I’ve got two boys and I’ll never have to shout “You are NOT wearing THAT out of this house, young lady!”

— OK the rest is all positive. It really was a terrific and fun evening, planned by Ava’s parents, my super fantastic cousin Robin and her husband Guy. The restaurant where it was held was great, the DJ company was among the best I’ve ever heard (I’m old school in that I always prefer bands at big events, but this company, ESP Productions, was sensational), and the food was terrific. And hey, being seated at a table with people I knew (my sister and first cousins) and meeting others I hadn’t seen in years is always a good time.

–So one of the things that always killed me about bar and bat mitzvahs was how awkward the boy-girl interactions are. You’re 13, you’re all dressed up in fancy clothes, you really like that girl over there in the red dress but she never talks to you at school but hey this is different now and you’ve had three Shirley Temples and dammit, you’re gonna go talk to her! (OK maybe that was just me).

But I have to say, it really seemed like all the kids at this party were just having fun, and totally relaxed, and there wasn’t that strangeness I remembered.  Good to see.

— So of course I had no clue what most of the music was, nor who sang it, but I have to hand it to ESP for a stroke of genius: Around 10:40 p.m. or so, the party seemed to be winding down, the kids were all tired or off doing something else, and that’s when the DJ’s decided to kick it old-school for us “old folks.” They invited everyone up to the dance floor and hit us with some Bon Jovi, AC/DC, and Cyndi Lauper. For 20 minutes or so, it was mostly us 40 and over fogies going nuts to the songs we loved. That may have been me up on a stage doing my best Angus Young guitar solo.

And I was awfully proud to see a bunch of Ava’s friends belting out “Livin’ On a Prayer.” Good parenting, those kids are getting!

— Yes, I must admit, I did spend a few seconds looking at all my cousin’s friends and thinking, “They are all 13 year old girls. And that scumbag Roy Moore in Alabama had a sexual encounter with a girl just one year older than them. When he was 32. Absolutely disgusting.

— Finally, my cousins happily obeyed the No.1, iron-clad rule of a good cocktail hour: Pigs in blankets passed around as hors d’ouerves. Absolutely never fails to get people happy.

**So while I’m not alone in thinking much of this NFL season has been underwhelming, filled with injuries to star players and mind-numbingly boring games, Sunday’s action was pretty sensational. Unless you’re a Jets fan like me (hey, feeling good was nice while it lasted), or a Browns fan (they had a 21-7 lead and somehow still lost because, you know, they’re the Browns).

— And then there are Eagles fans, who are in their own special Hell this morning. In the midst of an amazing, glorious, spectacular season, and during a thrilling win over the L.A. Rams Sunday, saw their star quarterback Carson Wentz get seriously hurt. He’s likely out for the year, they’re probably not going to make the Super Bowl, and life sucks sometimes when your favorite team’s season gets short-circuited so fast.

— Antonio Brown is really, really good at football. The Steelers won another thrilled Sunday night, Brown had more than 200 yards receiving again, and the dude really seems unstoppable. Hey opposing defenses, just a thought: Maybe put two defenders on him?

— How wild was that scene in Buffalo? Huge snowstorm hit this weekend, and the Bills and Colts sorta played a football game Sunday in many, many feet of snow. The pic above was my favorite, but you gotta see these amazing shots from the Buffalo News. Just wild.

I love that we get at least one fantastic snow game a year in the NFL. How those fans could sit there for hours in those conditions… some people are just nuts.

Good News Friday: The Oklahoma City Thunder do their annual shopping spree for kids and it’s awesome. A stranger finds a library book on a plane and mails it back with a note. And a photographer turns kids with disabilities into superheroes

And a Happy Friday to all of you out there doing all of your Hanukkah shopping this weekend (menorahs will be half-price by the end of next week!) or your Christmas shopping. Me, I’m super-duper excited to be going to the New York Botanical Garden’s holiday train show this Sunday; we went last year and it was freaking fantastic. Can’t wait to see this year’s gorgeous designs.

But first, some good news to hopefully give you a smile. First up, I am pretty sure I feature at least one NBA team doing this every year, because it’s always a really cool thing. This week the Oklahoma City Thunder did their annual holiday shopping spree at Target, in conjunction with a local organization called Grandparents Raising Grandchildren.

The looks on the children’s faces are, of course, the best part, including the girl who just about lost it and was speechless when Russell Westbrook walked over to her and said he’d be her “personal shopper.”

Really great stuff here, check out this short video of the event below.

**Next up today, this is a little thing but little acts of kindness are what makes the world go ’round. Saw this on Upworthy.com: A stranger was sitting on an airplane and found a library book, “How to Eat Fried Worms” (a classic adolescent book, I loved it way back when). Most people probably would’ve taken the book home, or turned it in when getting off the plane.

But this individual mailed it back to the Meridian, Idaho library. With a note explaining what happened, and with $5.00. Because it was going to be late.

Seriously. The person paid the late fees, and even apologized for sending this found book back, late.

“Please add this $5.00 to the person’s account that borrowed the book,” the note read.

“Coming back from the holidays, it just made us all feel so good to know that there are still good people out there, and that people are inherently good,”said Camille Hampton, Meridian Library District assistant manager.

Abso-freaking-lutely, Camille.

**Finally today, all hail a photographer named Josh Rossi and his wife. They decided to make children with disabilities and/or illnesses feel like superheroes, at least for one day. Check out this amazing photo shoot Rossi did last summer with children who have struggled through so much, but for a short time got to feel like the unstoppable, heroic and courageous people we all wish we could be.

This whole thing is great, but the boy’s face at the 1:01 mark… just amazing.