Monthly Archives: December 2018

As we leave 2018, remembering 3 more great acts of kindness: A school cafeteria worker gets an amazing surprise. A woman at Starbucks buys a stranger a drink, and it makes a huge difference. And neighbors helping neighbors in a Utah community

And happy last day of 2018, everyone! It’s been, well, it’s been a miserable year in some respects (politics, and sports for my favorite teams) but an amazing year for others. As we leave this year behind, one last post highlighting some of the good stuff I saw and was uplifted by in this year.

First, from a July Good News Friday: Debra Davis is an angel of a woman living in San Diego, who not only serves lunch to hungry high school kids there, but drives around after that in a beat-up old car serving food (paid for by herself) to homeless people.

Ms. Davis has been beloved for years, but finally the community got together and showed her love in a tangible way. As always, Steve Hartman of “CBS Sunday Morning” delivers the beautiful goods.

What a woman. Her reaction at the end is just priceless.

**Next up, this was from August, and just was so sweet. A woman named Mackenzie bought coffee for the stranger behind her at Starbucks one day, and this small act of generosity brought forth this incredible thank-you note.

Because it was no small thing for this woman. You never, ever know how desperately some people need a kind gesture that day.

Just great.

**And finally, this story, from September, moved me and gave me all the feels.

About 10 years ago Kathy Felt of Sandy, Utah was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and is confined to a wheelchair. Kathy needs a lot of help with daily tasks, and besides her two sons helping out, she’s got a crack staff of dozens of helpers.

Her neighbors. For a decade they’ve volunteered in shifts and done amazing work to help Kathy. Watch (below) Steve Hartman investigate and realize how much good there still is in the world…

Best of Good News Friday: An entire schoolkids’ worth of lunch debt wiped out by a great charity. A Wilmington, N.C. bar owner does an amazing thing for a customer and a thief who robbed her. And a 4-year-old superhero feeds the homeless.

Happy Friday, everyone! Hope you all are reading this while relaxing on a beach somewhere warm, with a pina colada in your hands. If not, well, we can always dream.

Continuing my end-of-the-year theme in posting the Best Good News Friday items I’ve highlighted the past 12 months, have three more from earlier this year that I just absolutely love, and am thrilled to share again.

First up, this one was from March: I’ve written about this disgusting practice of “lunch-shaming,” before, where students whose parents have unpaid debt to the school are refused lunch in the school cafeteria or have their food thrown away when given to them.

Slowly, more and more schools are stopping this practice, and here’s a unique one: A charity run in the name of the late Philando Castile has erased the debt of every student in 56 Minneapolis-area schools, including the school Castile had worked at.

Castile, you may remember, was killed by police in 2016 at a traffic  stop, and as has been the case in so many of these police killings, the officer was acquitted.

But Castile, who worked as a cafeteria supervisor for J.J. Hill Montessori Magnet School in Saint Paul, often reached into his own pocket to help kids pay for school lunch, so the charity felt this would be a wonderful way to pay tribute to him.

The charity, called Philando Feeds The Children, gave a check for a little more than $35,000 to the St. Paul School District, making sure every child can eat lunch without a stigma.

“Philando is STILL reaching into his pocket, and helping a kid out. One by one,” the charity announced on the YouCaring.com fund-raising site this week.

Very, very well done.

**Next up, from May, this is one incredible story, once again from my man Steve Hartman of CBS News. A bar owner in Wrightsville Beach, N.C. (a town I used to live about two miles from, a really beautiful place) learned that a customer, a total stranger, had lost her wallet and wedding ring in his establishment one night last month.

What Jimmy Gilleece did next completely changed the lives of two people. Remarkable stuff considering how far he went to not only get the ring and wallet back, but to reach out to the troubled soul who took it.

Jimmy, if I’m ever in Wrighstville Beach again (shout out to Caroline’s bar there, where I used to do really bad but enthusiastic karaoke of Prince, Bruce Springsteen and others!), I’m buying everyone in your establishment a drink. And you too.

Finally today, this is my favorite person I “met” all year. I love this kid so much.

Meet Austin Perine of Birmingham, Ala., a 4-year-old boy turned superhero who has an amazing power: He feeds homeless people. Once a week, he and his Dad drive around the city and, using money from Austin’s allowance, give chicken sandwiches to hungry folks.

Asked by Steve Hartman of CBS News why he does it, he replies: “You know what Mr. Steve? It’s just the right thing to do,” Austin says with a smile.

Followed by his slogan he uses after feeding a homeless person, dressed in his “President Austin” garb.

“Don’t forget to show love!” he says.

I mean, come on! Is he not the cutest thing ever??? You’ll be happy to know that since this piece first aired in May, Burger King has offered to give Austin all the chicken sandwiches he needs to keep feeding strangers, and a GoFundMe page set up for Austin has raised $54,000..

Austin and his Dad T.J. plan to use the money raised to open a rehab facility to help re-integrate struggling homeless people back into society.

“Feeding the homeless is the highlight of my life!” Austin exclaims in the update video.

Watching this kid… man, how can you not be hopeful about the future of America?

UPDATE:  According to this story from a Birmingham site published last week, in addition to Perine’s accolades (he was recently named to a CNN “Most Influential People of 2018” list), he has raised $87, 254 toward conquering homelessness in 2018.  The latest numbers show that he is less than $750 away from his goal of $88,000.

According to Austin’s father, the GoFundMe fundraiser will do the following:

“Austin’s show love project is a nonprofit movement that will involve traveling and fighting hunger and establishing a facility that will help with food, toiletries, drug rehabilitation and shelter integration. The nonprofit organization is called the Show Love foundation.”

Visit the Show Love Fight Hunger GoFundMe page – HERE.

Best of Good News Friday, 2018: A teacher gives a student’s Mom an incredible gift of a kidney. A preschool girls’ friendship crosses racial lines. And a college basketball player misses a record on purpose for an awesome reason

Hello my fine readers, hope you all got whatever Santa decided you needed or wanted under the tree, and if you don’t celebrate Christmas, hope you spent the day in a joyous way with your family. (I did just that with family and dear friends, while celebrating my second-ever fantasy football championship! I know nobody cares, but I was excited and a little $$$ won is always wonderful.)

Anyway, as I mentioned in Monday’s post, going to end this year like I have done the past few years, with three posts celebrating the best of the best, my favorite Good News Friday items from 2018. So many to choose from, and if you’re a loyal reader maybe you’ll remember some of these from the months gone by. Hope you enjoy as I again try to end 2018 with some hope and joy and just plain goodness.

First up today, this was from January, and it’s still moving. Meet an amazing elementary school teacher at Marshe Pointe Elementary school in Palm Beach Gardens,  Fla. named Donna Hoagland, who found out the mom of one of her students was suffering from kidney failure. The rest… well, just watch and get the Kleenex ready. Just a tremendous story.

UPDATE: According to this story, now, nearly a year after the transplant, both Hoagland and Anahita are both very healthy and working full time. They live about 10 minutes from each other, and they often talk and text and try to find time to get together.

**Next up today, this beautiful tale from February, of two little girls, both 4 years old, named Jia Sarnicola and Zuri Copeland. They are best friends, and refer to themselves as “twins.” But when another kid pointed out that they couldn’t be twins, well, just watch.

So much wisdom in so few years.

**And finally today, a college basketball player misses out on a record on purpose, for a great reason, from last March. This story came from Chad Leistikow of the Des Moines (IA) Register.

The University of Iowa has a player named Josh Bohannon. He’s a sophomore and he’s really good. He’s particularly good at making free throws.

Bohannon had made 34 free throws in a row when he stepped to the line late in a game on Feb. 25 against Northwestern. That number was important, because when he got to 34, Bohannon had tied an Iowa school record held by a kid named Chris Street.

Street was a native Iowan and local legend, and on Jan. 16, 1993 Street played with the Hawkeyes against Duke.

Three days later, Street was tragically killed in a car accident.

Bohannon grew up in Iowa, too, knew all about the legend of Chris Street, and since becoming a part of the Iowa team he’s gotten to know Street’s parents, Mike and Patty.

So on Feb. 25, having made 34 consecutive free throws to tie Street’s school record, Bohannon stepped to the foul line with 2 minutes, 15 seconds remaining with Iowa leading, 73-65. He left the shot short, off the front rim, and pointed to the sky.

What a good kid. He’s so kind,” Patty Street said. “That was so special that he thought of Christopher and that record.”

Here’s what Bohannon said after the game (above).

Just a sensational gesture by a fabulous young man.

Mike Birbiglia’s “The New One” on Broadway is hilarious. A great James Corden/Lin-Manuel/Emily Blunt musical montage. And at Christmas, as always, the Jews eat Chinese food.

A couple of things today before we get into the blog: 1, Merry Christmas to all of you out there who celebrate; hope you get everything you desire under your tree. 2, Like I’ve done the last few years, the last two blogs of this week, and the New Year’s Eve blog, will be “Best of Good News Friday” posts, where I look at all the stories I’ve featured over the past 50 weeks of Fridays and post my favorites again. I get great feedback from you readers when I do it, and it always gives me something positive to think about heading into the new year. OK, on with the show…

Mike Birbiglia is like a great restaurant hidden away somewhere deep in town, or a terrific book that only some people have read.

What I mean by that is, if you know his comedy and are familiar with his style, you love him and rave about him to everyone you know.

But the problem is, if you don’t know him, you’re in the majority. Birbiglia is famous, but not like Louie C.K. or Kevin Hart famous. He can probably walk into most rooms and not be mobbed, but he also probably can get a good table at most restaurants.

I’ve been a Birbiglia fan for at least a decade, since I first started hearing him on radio shows and in TV spots. He looks unassuming and doesn’t have any killer schtick or gimmicks; he’s just really freaking smart and really funny.

I’ve watched his movies and seen him on countless shows, but until Saturday, I’d never seen him live. But when I heard he had a new Broadway show out this winter, I knew I’d finally get to see him live.

And so Saturday the wife and I saw him live, and I knew we’d have a great time at “The New One” when, walking to the theater 30 minutes before showtime, we saw the star himself going in a side entrance not five feet in front of us.

“Have a great show Mike!” my wife yelled out. “Hey thanks!” he yelled back. That was fun.

As I expected, “The New One” was fabulous. Ostensibly, it’s about Birbiglia and his wife trying to have a child, then what life was like once their daughter was born, and how the first year went.

But really, the show is just Birbiglia doing what he does best: Telling relatable stories and making them hilarious. When he says stuff like “I’ve played in small towns, towns that weren’t even towns, cities that were Applebee’s with a dream,” I’m laughing out loud.

Birbiglia is brutally honest about why he didn’t want to ever have kids (after listing all his physical maladies and emotional issues, he says to his wife “you really want to put more of this into the world?”), and then tears-in-your-eyes crying funny about the transitions he and wife Jen had to go through once the child was born.

Honestly, I haven’t laughed this hard in a long time. Birbiglia is a master comedian who should be way more famous than he is.

If you’re anywhere near New York in the next month, I highly recommend “The New One.” Or check out any of Birbiglia’s work on YouTube.

 

**Next up today, my wife is a huge fan of musicals and while I don’t, ahem, share that passion, I know millions of people do so I thought this was definitely worth sharing. And I have to admit, it was superbly done.

James Corden teamed up with the stars of the new “Mary Poppins Returns” movie, Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda, for a fantastic tour through great musicals past and present.

The “Into the Woods” bit is hilarious, as is “The Wizard of Oz.” Relax and enjoy and then try not to sing at least one of these the rest of the day.

**And finally today, it is of course Christmas Eve, which for millions of Christians means waiting for Santa to come down the chimney, delivering presents and devouring cookies (hey kids, isn’t Santa hefty enough? Maybe leave vegetables if you want Santa to live a long, healthy life).

But for us Jews, Christmas Eve means one thing above all: Eating chinese food. So as I try to do every year on Christmas Eve in this space, I give you the brilliant “Saturday Night Live” sketch called “Christmas Time for the Jews,” which is hilarious and spot on.

Enjoy that lo mein, my fellow Members of the Tribe!

Good News Friday: A great surprise video of a soldier returning from home, to his son. Steve Hartman’s annual trip with “Secret Santa” has a beautiful twist this year. And an NYPD officer’s son gets an awesome surprise for his wheelchair.

And a Happy Friday to all of you holiday shoppers out there! If you’re like me you’re alternately thrilled to have family around next week when so many people are on vacation from work, and alternately worried over filling the days for the kids, who are of course also on vacation (Playdates are a beautiful thing).

First up today on Good News Friday, these “soldiers returning home to surprise family members” videos never get old, but this one had a pretty fabulous twist. It was posted on Twitter by a man named Jadin Hart, who says his nephew got the best present of all this holiday season. Watch as the boy unwraps a very very large gift, and what comes out of it surprises the hell out of him.

**Next up today, I make an annual habit, and look forward to it each year, of watching CBS Sunday Morning’s amazing Steve Hartman take his trip around a U.S. city with his friend “Secret Santa,” an anonymous millionaire who at the holidays travels around and gives struggling people $100 bills to help with their lives.

The reactions are always priceless, but this year Secret Santa recruited an “elf” to help: A homeless man in Phoenix named Moses, who surprised passersby who just stopped to talk to him.

“It’s my experience that the people with the least, give the most of what they have,” Secret Santa says in the piece. So true.

He also said “Kindness, is a bridge between all people.”

So, so great. Such a small amount of kindness goes such a long way.

**And finally today, NYPD officer Merritt Riley has a 16-year-old son who suffers from cerebral palsy and is in a wheelchair. As one might expect from an officer’s son, Aidan Riley loves all things police, and recently he got an amazing surprise: His very own police cruiser outfitted to fit around his wheelchair.

It took eight months to build and a ton of cooperation from different agencies, but this week Aidan got his new ride.

So freaking cool!

 

“Green Book” a hugely entertaining, cracklingly good movie. The hockey save of the year (from Russia). And an obscene law in Texas gets a school employed fired, for not pledging loyalty to Israel

It’s good to have a wife, for many, many reasons. One of those reasons is that when she sees a promo for a new movie coming out in a few months that she positively KNOWS I’ll want to see, and probably like, she files that away and tells me about it at the appropriate time.

Which was a few weeks ago, when we planned to have a rare date night away from our beloved boys. She said we should definitely go see “Green Book,” the based-on-a-true-story tale of a white nightclub bouncer from New York City named Tony Vallelonga driving an African-American musician/piano player named Don Shirley through the deep South on a concert tour, and all the adventures they get into along the way.

“Green Book” stars Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali, and it’s truly a fabulous film. The acting is superb (even the sadly-underused Linda Cardellini, as Tony’s wife, is great), the script is cracklingly good and funny (my favorite line has to be, when spotting a KFC near Louisville, Tony cracks “Come on! We can eat Kentucky Fried Chicken in Kentucky! How many times are you gonna get that chance!”), and the plot points, while certainly easy to see coming, still make you care about what happens.

In one sense “Green Book” is a typical mismatched buddy road-trip movie; Tony is all Bronx accented, tough-guy, never use a napkin and never stop smoking 1960s Italian stereotype, while Dr. Shirley is so refined and debonair he’s puzzled by so much of what Tony says and does.

But the movie goes deeper in exploring the racial problems of the time, and showing us the human sides (finally!) of Dr. Shirley, as he slowly lets his guard down and communicates with Tony. Mortensen is great but I think he has the easier role; Shirley is complicated with skeletons in his past we don’t know about, and Ali, as he did in “Moonlight” is superb in acting without saying much.

By the end, when we see a major stumbling block at the duo’s last concert, you really feel like the two men have bonded over something real.

“Green Book” isn’t a perfect movie, but it’s filled with joy and humor, and don’t we need as much of that as we can get this holiday season?

Highly, highly recommend this movie. As usual, my wife was right: It’s great.

Next up today, been too long since I’ve had some hockey on this blog, and I saw a goalie save over the weekend that I could not believe.

It didn’t come from the NHL but the KHL in Russia, where New York Islanders prospect Ilya Sorokin made the save of the year, or maybe of the decade, in a game.
Watch it above, and then watch it again and try to figure out how the heck he did this. The best angle is at the :20 mark; how the hell did he reach back with his arm that far?

Amazing, amazing save.

 

**Finally today, I am steaming mad about this story. I’ve ranted before in this space about the increasing intolerance American politicians/legislators are showing toward anyone not pledging 100 percent fealty toward Israel, and denouncing and even criminalizing dissent to our “favorite ally.”

But some of this behavior has gone so, so far out of bounds it boggles my mind that it continues. Just the mere idea of supporting any cause or group that opposes Israel is so disgusting to these legislators, they need to make all kinds of unconstitutional laws against it.

Let me introduce to you the Pflugerville, Tex. school district, and one of their district elementary school speech pathologists, Mrs. Bahia Amawi.

Amawi, is a U.S. citizen who received a master’s degree in speech pathology in 1999 and, since then, has specialized in evaluations for young children with language difficulties. Amawi was born in Austria and has lived in the U.S. for the last 30 years, fluently speaks three languages (English, German, and Arabic), and has four U.S.-born American children of her own.

So, clearly, she’s an American. But Amawi, despite having no blemishes to her work record, is no longer employed by the district.

According to this story in The Intercept and other media reports, Amawi has been told that she can no longer work with the public school district, after she refused to sign an oath vowing that she “does not” and “will not” engage in a boycott of Israel or “otherwise tak[e] any action that is intended to inflict economic harm” on that foreign nation. A lawsuit on her behalf was filed early Monday morning in a federal court in the Western District of Texas, alleging a violation of her First Amendment right of free speech.

That’s right, in the standard contract Amawi has signed every year since 2009, there’s now a clause in the school contract requiring Amawi to refrain from buying any goods or services, or doing any business with (on her own personal time, of course) any organization or company that advocates boycotting Israel.

According to The Intercept, “that language would bar Amawi not only from refraining from buying goods from companies located within Israel, but also from any Israeli companies operating in the occupied West Bank (“an Israeli-controlled territory”). The oath given to Amawi would also likely prohibit her even from advocating such a boycott given that such speech could be seen as “intended to penalize, inflict economic harm on, or limit commercial relations with Israel.”

“They decide to protect another country’s economy versus protecting our constitutional rights,” Amawi said.

This is OBSCENE. Amawi can choose to boycott companies who oppose America, but not Israel.

These kinds of laws, I’m horrified to report, now exist in more than 20 U.S. states. Absolutely, positively offensive that the rush to embrace Israel by American politicians has led to a complete stifling of Americans’ individual rights and freedoms to support or encourage any kind of protest movement they want.

Seriously, read this story and explain to me how this law can be justified. I hope Amawi wins her lawsuit.

 

A beautiful story of unlikely friendship between Charles Barkley and an Asian chemist. “SNL” with a terrific “It’s a Wonderful Life” spoof. And as always, nobody knows anything about the NFL

https://player.wbur.org/onlyagame/2018/12/14/lin-wang-charles-barkl

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I’ve been extolling the virtues of the outstanding NPR program “Only A Game” for as long as I’ve had a blog in these here parts, so it was so heartwarming to me Saturday to see a story featured on it go totally viral Saturday.

Give yourself 10 minutes on this Monday morning and listen to this remarkable, wonderful story about NBA superstar Charles Barkley, and the crazy friendship he struck up with a man he met in a bar in Sacramento four years ago, a cat litter scientist from Iowa named Lin Wang.

It’s as heartwarming and simple a story as you’ll find, and I loved it. It’s narrated by Lin’s daughter, Shirley, and no matter what you think of Barkley before you hear this, I guarantee your opinion of him will go up a few notches here.

“It gives me great memories and great joy to know that I was a friend of his,” the NBA Hall of Famer says about Wang.

What wonderful radio storytelling this is.

**Next up today, “SNL” had a pretty fantastic and star-studded episode Saturday night, highlighted by the cold open featuring Robert De Niro, Ben Stiller, Matt Damon and others, as Donald Trump got to play the Jimmy Stewart part in “It’s A Wonderful Life.” (And man, don’t Trump and Jimmy Stewart have SO much in common?)

I thought this was really well done, especially the Sarah Sanders and Mike Pence stuff.

**Finally today, it was another crazy weekend in the NFL, where I once again I feel the need to remind you that nobody knows anything, there’s no such thing as an expert on this league, and the playoffs should be particularly crazy this year.

Some thoughts on Week 14…
— The Cleveland Browns, ladies and gentlemen! How can you not be rooting for this team to somehow make the playoffs? Their rookie QB Baker Mayfield is exciting, they’ve got a young, aggressive defense, and they’ve been down for so long everything looks like up. The Brownies won again Saturday, are now 6-7-1, and yeah the postseason is still a longshot but hey, they’ve got a shot!

— Explain how the Cowboys, with so much to play for and having won so often the last few weeks, can go to Indy and get shut out. Explain how the Seahawks can go play a putrid 49ers team, on their 3rd QB of the year, and lose in overtime? You can’t. The NFL has SO many mediocre teams, and the line between winning and losing is so tiny.

— And the Eagles! Looked dead last week in losing to Dallas, then go play maybe the best team in the league, on the road in L.A., and beat the Rams. Crazy league.

— Very encouraged by the play of Sam Darnold, aka, the reason I’ll watch the Jets for the next 10 years (also I’m addicted to the misery but that’s another story). Kid almost led the Jets to a big upset over Houston. Me likey very much

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

what Darnold is showing.

— Move of the day comes on a play after the game, when Chicago Bears player Charles Leno Jr. decided to propose to his girlfriend, Jennifer Roth, on the field. She said yes, and I’ll let you  make your own “moving the goalposts” or “gotta love a man in uniform” jokes here. But very cool to see a player do this.

Good News Friday: A mother-daughter meeting 69 years in the making. Def Leppard and Miss Janet make the Rock Hall, honors long overdue. And a father dancing for his sick son is awesome

And a Merry Friday to all of you out there, hopefully not reading this after being stuck in holiday shopping traffic. Ah, how I love these days before Christmas, when the mall parking lots are jammed with people screaming “I saw that spot first, you ?##I($?@#(@)!” (Don’t tell me everyone shops online now, I’ve driven past a few department store/malls this week and they’ve been jam-packed).

Hopefully you’re somewhere safe and warm reading this, because this first story is a doozy.

Check this out, a story I read on the Only Good News Network site. An 88-year-old woman named Genevieve Purinton thought she was all alone in the world, now that her eight siblings had died, and she had never married.

Purinton had a child once, a daughter, in 1949, but she says she was told in the hospital that her daughter had died.

Now living in an assisted living facility in Tampa, Purinton got the shock of a lifetime recently, when a woman named Connie Moultrop walked through her door and told her she was her daughter.

Thanks to an Ancestry DNA kit she got last year, Moultrop was able to track down her biological mother (she had been adopted as a baby) and they had their long, long delayed reunion last week.

What an incredible story, 68 years after the fact. Now, it’s not clear why any hospital would’ve told Purinton her daughter had passed away. But that detail hardly seems important now when watching the above video. Purinton now has grandchildren she can get to know!

Can you imagine, looking all your life for your mother and then finally finding her? The emotion that must’ve caused. Wow.

**Next up today, it was a mixed bag kind of week in my eyes when it came to Halls of Fame announcements. Earlier this week the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown announced that Lee Smith and Harold Baines were elected by the “Today’s Game” veterans committee, and I think it’s a joke that two very good, but hardly great, players are being enshrined in Cooperstown.

But another Hall of Fame got it very right on Thursday, as one of my all-time favorite bands, Def Leppard, was voted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, along with The Cure and Janet Jackson, among others.

Miss Janet, if you’re nasty, had an incredible career and absolutely deserves to be in. But Def Leppard’s election makes me even happier. One of the seminal moments in my music childhood was listening to their epic album “Hysteria” over and over again in 1988. The lyrics, the performance, that album was incredible, as was much of their other music. One of the highlights of my life as a journalist was getting to interview Phil Collen, one of Def Leppard’s guitarists, over the phone in 1996.

I love this band, and I’m thrilled they’re getting inducted. Now go watch the “Pour Some Sugar on Me” video and get it stuck in your head all day.

**Finally today, professional dancer Kenny Thomas has a 1-year-old son named Kristian, who has been dealt some unspeakably cruel breaks by life already: Born with Down Syndrome, he’s also now been diagnosed with leukemia.

What’s a Dad to do to deal with the pain his son is doing? Dance, baby. Just dance. Watch the above video and look at the joy on little Kristian’s face toward the end.
Love is the most powerful drug of all.

A great profile of The Boss, as Springsteen’s Broadway show hits Netflix. The “Silent Night” game at Taylor is still awesome. And an Army-Navy game promo will give you chills.

There are a ton of great traditions in sports, and there are a ton of great holiday traditions, and sometimes there are a ton of cool sports holiday traditions.

One of the sports holiday traditions i love most is the one I’ve highlighted here before, at Taylor University in Upland, Ind. It’s called their annual “Silent Night” game, and the strange way it works is this: The entire crowd stays silent for the first few minutes of the game, until Taylor scores its 10th point. Then, on cue, hundreds of students, dressed in wild costumes, rush the court and celebrate making as much noise as possible.
Then they retreat to the stands to sing “Silent Night” while linking arms and swaying.
After that, the game continues.

It’s so nutty, so full of joy, and so… different that it’s something I look forward to every year. Above is a story on this year’s game, and here’s a clip of how the celebration looked from inside the gym.

Man, sometimes I miss college.

**Next up today, Bruce Springsteen. He’s a God among us, and the latest proof is his Broadway one-man show, which I never got to see because I only have one kidney and can’t sell it to raise money to buy tickets to see it, which are astronomical.

The Broadway show was videotaped and will be available on Netflix on Dec. 15, and before watching it I urge you to read this sensational profile of the 69-year-old Boss, by Michael Hainey in Esquire.

Just one passage among many great ones here:

And there it is: Bruce, no longer the son of scarcity but rather the father of abundance, reclaiming the kitchen for his family; transforming it from a fortress of darkness and silence into a land of brightness, filled with the sounds of life. Sitting here with me now, talking about his brood, he radiates joy. A father, proud of his children, grateful. I ask him, considering the current environment, what kinds of conversations he and his family are having around the kitchen table; what it means to be a man in society right now.

“My kids . . . we’re lucky. They’re solid citizens.”

But what would you say if you had to give advice to someone raising sons today?

“Be present. Be there. If I have any advice to give, that is it. I mean you have to be fully present in mind, spirit, and body. And you don’t have to do anything. [Laughs] I mean, you get a lotta credit just for showing up. Just by being present, you guide them. My children are transitioning into adulthood. But I’ve found my presence still carries a great deal of weight—on that rare occasion now when someone actually still asks me a question. [Laughs]”

It’s a great, introspective look at a man who keeps living his best life and isn’t afraid to admit to his battles with mental illness and demons that keep him up at night. Fascinating story, really.

**Finally today, the Army-Navy football game was last Saturday, and as usual, the result of the game was hardly as significant as the pride so many feel at honoring the hard work these men and women put in, all in service to our country.
CBS, as always, put together a fantastic, chill bump-inducing promo video before the game, and I just got around to watching it Tuesday. Just spectacular stuff…

A wild and wacky day in the NFL, capped by an insanely awesome Dolphins-Pats finish. A fan wins a car at a college basketball game, really easily. And an awesome dance tutorial to an 80’s classic

So, last Sunday I had the rare chance to kick back and watch a few hours of NFL football, something I used to do every week but now, not so much.

And the games were… meh. Nothing thrilling.

Then yesterday I was busy all day with a great family party and other stuff, and I saw almost none of the NFL day… and it was thrilling and crazy all over the place.

Ah well, the trade-offs of life. But man were there some incredible games Sunday, including one of the all-time great endings in Miami. If you missed it, the evil New England Patriots led the slightly-less-evil Miami Dolphins (of course you know I’m a Jets fan so I hate them both), 33-28, with seven seconds to go in the game.

The Dolphins were 69 yards from the end zone, so you figured QB Ryan Taneyhill would hoist a Hail Mary, which never works. But Miami instead completed a short pass, and did a few laterals, and Kenyon Drake ended up with the ball, and this amazing happened. Here, watch…

I mean, that’s just nuts! The Pats having Rob Gronkowski, their enormous man-child of a tight end, back to knock down a Hail Mary, then him having to try to make the tackle to save the game, is pretty hilarious. Just a crazy, crazy ending.

— My beloved Jets finally won for the first time in six weeks, scoring on 4th and goal from the 1 with under two minutes left to beat the equally inept Buffalo Bills.
I know I should be a little upset that the Jets hurt their draft position by winning, but hey, it’s fabulous to see our franchise QB Sam Darnold get his first big comeback win. And hey, they’ll still be picking in the Top 5 I’m sure.

— More craziness from Sunday: The Browns (the Browns!) won again, beating a formerly really good Panthers team. The Texans, who’d won nine in a row, lose to at schizophrenic Indy team that looks terrible and great every other week.

— The Giants had a 40-0 lead over the Redskins at one point. I mean, I know Washington was starting Mark Sanchez at QB but still,  40-0! I love that my Giants fan friends are starting to talk themselves into “Hey, look, they’re not so bad, they just had some bad breaks in some tough losses, maybe we should bring Eli back next year…”

— And how do you figure this? Pittsburgh goes to Oakland, with the Raiders having two wins all year, and the Steelers lose. The 49ers beat Denver, when the Broncos have been on a roll. As I always say, anyone who gambles on the NFL, and actually thinks they know what’s going to happen, is a bigger fool than anyone.

— Finally, the Chicago Bears defense looked a whole lot better against the Rams Sunday night than it did a week earlier. Man, those L.A. boys sure didn’t look like they could handle the cold weather too well. Would love to see a Rams-Bears rematch in January.

**Next up today, this is pretty brilliant and twisted and demented and completely 1980s music inspired, so there’s NO WAY I wasn’t gonna love this.

A comedian named Joe Kwaczala has made a video showing the “official” dance steps one is supposed to do when dancing to the classic ’80s tune “Tainted Love” by Soft Cell.

Of course Kwaczala’s commentary is what makes it so damn funny. I had to pause and rewind a few times just to make sure I heard what I thought I heard.

**And finally today, we’ve all seen these contests at basketball games where a fan comes out of the stands and tries to win a great prize by sinking a few shots. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen a car won as easily as this. Check out Nicole Kornet at a UCLA game last Friday.

Now, technically Kornet didn’t win a car, because she’s a former UCLA player and therefore ineligible, and she said she was told that beforehand (she was only allowed in the contest because it was her birthday, she said.)

But still, even for a former player, this is pretty amazing…