Monthly Archives: February 2019

Good News Friday: A 4-year-old gets mic’ed up for hockey practice, and it’s adorable as all heck. An NBA coach stops the game to have his home crowd salute Dirk Nowitzki. And a one-armed Little Leaguer smashes a home run.

And a Happy Friday and more importantly, HAPPY MARCH! I love March for many reasons, No. 1 being that its the most glorious month of the year for college basketball fanatics like me, but also because it means the frigid weather here in the Northeast may finally start to thaw.

We’ve got an all-sports related Good News Friday, but two of the stories are more about amazing or funny young kids than sports themselves.

First, when four people from various areas of my life all email me the same story within 24 hours, there’s a pretty good bet I’ll love it and want to use it here.
And that was certainly the case with the story of 4-year-old Mason, whose Dad, “Coach Jeremy” decided to put a microphone on his adorable tyke during a recent hockey practice (They live in Canada, 4-year-olds there have been playing hockey for years).

To say Mason is hilarious is an understatement. In this video, he talks about going to eat at “BaDonald’s”, takes a nap during practice, and does too many other hilarious things to list. Just watch, smile, and remember how much fun life was when you were 4.

The video has more than 6 million views in less than a week. Sometimes, the Internet is a good thing.

**Next up today, it’s pretty rare for an opposing coach in a pro sport to stop the game before it’s over, grab the mic, and instruct his home crowd to salute an opposing player.

But that’s what L.A. Clippers head coach Doc Rivers did on Tuesday night, when, with the outcome decided and the Clippers game with the Dallas Mavericks winding down at Staples Center, he called timeout, grabbed the microphone and asked his fans to salute Mavs legend Dirk Nowitzki, likely retiring at season’s end.

As a shocked Nowitzki stood there and smiled, the crowd roared, players walked over to him and shook his hand, and Rivers called him “one of the greatest of all time.”

A very, very cool and classy gesture, since Nowitzki is likely to retire this year after a brilliant 21-season career.

**And finally today, a remarkable moment from a Little League game. Check out the exploits of 7-year-old Tommy Morrissey, who despite possessing just one arm is an outstanding youth golfer and all-around athlete.

In a game in the Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., Youth Athletic Association Little League last Saturday, Morrissey blasted a long home run.

With one arm.

This kid is incredible. Watch the homer at this link.

Obviously this kid doesn’t believe in limits, and thank God for that.

 

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The 12-year-old journalist who is kick-ass, and got treated terribly by an Arizona cop. Nike’s stunning new ad was the best thing at the Oscars. And I really want to be friends with John Legend and Chrissy Teigen, they’re hilarious

You know, that Whitney Houston was more than just a brilliant singer. She was a damn soothsayer.
Because children ARE our future, and when I see a 12-year-old enterprising reporter named Hildy Kate Lysiak, I feel so much better about that future.

You may have heard of Hildy, who we wrote about a few years ago when, as a 9-year-old, she started the Orange Street News, in her Pennsylvania neighborhood. Hildy, whose dad is a journalist, started to get a little famous in 2016 by being the first to report on a horrible murder in her hometown, and continues to “break news” about terrible crimes committed in Selinsgrove, Pa.

Hilde is amazing, so much so that a TV series inspired by her is in the works. What brings her to our attention this week was this story in the Washington Post (and in the Orange Street News, of course) that Hilde was threatened to be put in jail by a sheriff in Arizona.

Hilde was in that state researching a story when she was, well, accosted by Marshall Joseph Patterson of Pategonia, Ariz. He threatened to jail her for not obeying his orders, and after identifying herself properly, Hilde was told “I don’t want to hear about any of that freedom of the press stuff,” and other not so nice things.

He also lied to her by saying that it would be illegal for her to put his name and face on the Internet (what planet does he think he’s living on?)

Hilde, God bless her, wrote up the story of her encounter with Patterson, and of course the story went national.

This young girl, at 12, is already a fantastic, dogged reporter. You go, Hilde.

Threatening to throw a 12-year-old in juvie jail? Good job, marshall. Maybe that will work in Mayberry, not in America.

**Next up today, I didn’t mention this on my Oscars recap blog on Monday because I didn’t want it to get lost in the shuffle, but that Nike ad voiced by Serena Williams that ran was incredible. Sensational, heartwarming, inspirational, all the things you would want in an ad.
Now, an e-migo of mine on Twitter took the ad with many grains of salt, because he argued that Nike does so many bad things off-camera (sweatshops in other countries, has endorsees like accused sexual assaulters Kobe Bryant and Ben Roethlisberger) that it shouldn’t be given credit for beautiful filmmaking like this.

I disagree, because I can love Nike’s ads and see how they can inspire millions without condoning their awful business practices.
Curious to hear what you all think. But this ad… just magical.

**Finally today, this is more of a personal plea than a blog post item, but can I just ask John Legend and Chrissy Teigen if they’ll be my friends? I can’t tell you how much I enjoy them on social media, on TV and in music, and everywhere.

You know how there are just celebrities you see who you know would be so much fun to be friends with? Well, that’s John and Chrissy to me. He’s an amazing singer/songwriter, she’s an ex-SI Swimsuit model who is all over TV these days, on “Lip Sync Battle” and other stuff.
Two things they did this week cracked me up. First, the above video of John’s first day as a coach on “The Voice,” with Chrissy packing his lunch and his books? Freaking adorable.

There was then this hilarious photo they took to celebrate John’s birthday, with one of those “baby’s achievement” boards I see all the time as a parent with young kids. Seeing all of John’s favorites, including his lullaby and bedtime story, and how old he is in months, made me laugh out loud.

I love these two. I wish I could live next door to them.

An Oscars with no host? No problem. My many thoughts on a pretty good Academy Awards show, with a great diversity of winners

One of my favorite nights of the year came around Sunday night, and for once nobody complained about the host of the Oscars.

That’s because, of course, there was no host. And you know what? The show was fine without one. Sure, some of the skits the host does every year are funny, but mostly they’re a waste of time.

I have to say, even though I saw so few of the movies nominated (life with two small kids doesn’t allow much time for adult flick theater-going), I enjoyed this year’s Oscars. No one movie dominated, the show didn’t drag, and I actually saw and liked the movie that won.

Now a lot of people on social media Sunday night were hating on “Green Book,” because of its historical inaccuracies (the friendship between Dr. Shirley and Tony Vallelonga was nowhere near as close as the movie made it, and the family of Dr. Shirley is very unhappy with the portrayal, and there is a bit of a “white hero saves the day” theme of the film), but I have to say, I enjoyed it a lot. Is it a perfect movie? No. But I thought the acting and writing was terrific. I’m happy it won.

— Other things I was super-happy about: Mahershala Ali winning for “Green Book,” Spike Lee finally getting a long-overdue Oscar (you knew his speech would be something epic in scope, and it was), and Lady Gaga winning for best song for “Shallow.”

— Speaking of which… Gaga. Cooper. “Shallow.” Freaking mesmerizing performance. One of the two highlights of the night for me. And Gaga gave a terrific speech, too. I’m rapidly becoming more and more of a fan of hers.

— Haven’t seen it yet but I hear “Bohemian Rhapsody” was fantastic, and it was very, very cool having the “Wayne’s World” stars Mike Myers and Dana Carvey introduce the film. If only we could’ve gotten a “schwwwinnnggg!” out of them.

–It was a night without too many great speeches, but Olivia Colman winning for best actress had the speech of the night. She was adorable, charming, thanking everyone, telling her kids “This won’t happen again” and practically apologizing to Glenn Close for winning, telling her “You’ve been my idol for so long, this is not how I wanted this to be.”

Really sweet, special stuff.

— The other speech I found awesome was from Melissa Berton, co-director of the Best Documentary Short winner, “Period. End of Sentence,” who opened her remarks with “I’m not crying because I’m on my period. I can’t believe a film about menstruation won an Oscar!”

Truer words may never have been spoken from that stage.

— Just a general question: Is there no end to the movies that are made about queens, kings, monarchs, and royals? I mean, haven’t they been exhausted as a subject matter? Please can they be exhausted as a subject matter?

— So there was no host, but Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Mya Rudolph did the closest thing to an opening monologue, being funny and charming and I once again please, why can’t Tina and Amy host every awards show, ever? Please???

–OK, most importantly, the best and worst dressed categories, as judged in the Lewis house, as always, by my wife. On the women’s side, to the good we loved Angela Bassett’s gorgeous dress (above), Julia Roberts is 51 years old and looks amazing, and wow wow wow, again, on Jennifer Lopez, who fulfilled my No. 1 rule for women: You can never, ever be too sparkly. Big points also for Gaga’s dress. The men who dressed great were Chadwick Boseman, Daniel Craig (hey, he’s 007), and Mahershala Ali, who always looks good.

On the bad side, oof, Stephan James and that red tuxedo, my wife was really not a fan. And Kacey Musgraves looked like the cotton candy display at the county fair.

— Enjoyed the Death Montage as always, really thought Penny Marshall should’ve been the Hammer at the end, but hey, Albert Finney was fabulous too, so no beef.

— So Alfonso Cuaron won for Best Director, the 5th time the last six years a Mexican-born filmmaker has taken that prize.

So the beautiful people from the New York Times Twitter feed made this to celebrate, and of course mock the idiot in Chief:

— Can we get a buddy road trip movie starring Spike Lee and Barbra Streisand, please? Like you WOULDN’T go see that? Two kids from Brooklyn who made it big, driving from New York to L.A., and having adventures along the way. I’ll buy my ticket for that now.

— This is hilarious: Apparently Trevor Noah, while discussing “Black Panther,” mentioned a phrase in the Xhosa language, “‘Abelungu abazi ubu ndiyaxoka’- which means, ‘In times like these, we are stronger when we fight together than when we try to fight apart.”

But in reality, many Africans on Twitter pointed out, that phrase he spoke actually translates to “White people don’t know I’m lying.”

Brilliant. Maybe Trevor should host the show next year.

Good News Friday: Lions are reunited with the woman who reared them, and it’s adorable. A community in Mass. helps a 2-year-old deaf girl in a beautiful way. And Steph Curry does more awesome Steph Curry off-court goodness

Happy Friday, y’all! Hope you are doing well wherever you are, me, I’m looking forward to the Oscars Sunday as always. We saw “A Star is Born” the other day and I’m here to tell you, it’s worth all the hype it got. Bradley Cooper was outstanding, Gaga was fantastic as both actress and singer, and Sam Elliott chewed on every scene he was in. I didn’t see all the best picture nominees but “A Star Is Born” was fabulous. As always, I’ll give you a probably way-too-long Oscars review on Monday (Host? Who needs a host?)

OK, now on to Good News Friday, although I have to say I was tempted to lead with Duke star Zion Williamson only suffering a mild knee sprain when his shoe exploded 30 seconds into the Duke-Carolina game Wednesday night. Craziest injury I’ve ever seen.

But some real good animal news leads us off today. Check out the reaction of these two lions at a zoo in Slovakia, as they see the trainer who helped rear them for years, a woman named Michaela Zimanova.

Just beautiful love shown by two animals we always think of as so fierce. (BTW, the info on this Tweet is incorrect, Michaela sees them every few weeks, not for the first time in seven years.)

**Next up today, this is a really sweet story of a neighborhood coming together for one of their own. A 2-year-old girl in Massachusetts named Samantha Savitz is deaf, but loves talking to everyone she can, using sign language.

Her neighbors decided to learn sign language just to talk to her. Like, all of her neighbors. They got together and … just watch yet another gem from Steve Hartman of CBS News.

**And finally today, I missed this story last weekend during the usually-silly NBA All-Star weekend, but I should’ve known if something cool and charitable off-the-court stuff was going on, Steph Curry would be a part of it.

Such a nice gesture he made to his hometown of Charlotte, N.C. He told his sponsor, Under Armour, that instead of throwing a lavish all-star party like usual, that he’d like them to make a sizable donation to help fix up his childhood rec center there in Charlotte.

As a result, the Stephen and Ayesha Curry Family Foundation and Under Armour joined forces with Chase Bank to make a “seven-figure commitment” to the Carole Hoefener Center.

As reported by ESPN, the NBA Players Association is set make a $150,000 donation over the next three years towards the project.

The money will help the Center teach kids about good nutritional habits

According to this story, the new and improved Carole Hoefener Center includes a “Curry Court” and a “Curry Kitchen (which was inspired by Ayesha Curry’s culinary career) where residents can learn healthy eating habits. The center was also gifted with new computers to put in its education center for STEM students.

Steph added: “I’m excited to see my hometown community engage with the space. I really believe that this is going to have an ongoing impact that’s way beyond this weekend.”

Dell and Sonya Curry raised their son the right away. Yet another great gesture by a guy who seems to do everything right.

 

Taking stock of Bernie Sanders as he announces he’s running again: I used to love him, now I wish he’d go away. David Puddy Night for the Devils is hilarious. And it’s Duke-Carolina day, baby! I’m a little excited

In a move that has surprised no one, the senior senator from Vermont, Mr. Bernie Sanders, announced Tuesday that he’s running for President in 2020.

Now before I come to metaphorically bury him, allow me first to praise him. Bernie Sanders did a lot for the Democratic Party in 2015 and ’16.

He raised issues, like Medicare for All, universal health care, free college tuition, and many other formerly extreme positions and made them way more palatable for mainstream candidates.

Now many of us liberals never thought these positions were extreme at all, but far too many in our party did, and I’m glad to see people like Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and others embrace them.

Bernie was a breath of fresh air last time around, our only real alternative to a candidate who we never quite trusted and never truly believed in. He was loud, he was angry, but he was in-your-face and scared the daylights out of the Clinton campaign, and that was something desperately needed.

But fast forward three years, and lots of things have changed, things that tell me he has almost zero chance to win the nomination this time around. First of all, and I don’t mean to sound age-ist, but he’ll be 79 years old in 2020. He’s shown no signs of being mentally addled, but isn’t there a point where a person is too old to be President? (All jokes aside, our current President clearly has mental capacity issues).
Second, Bernie is not really a great messenger. He’s older, white and from a state (Vermont) that doesn’t really represent most voters in any way. His personality is quite prickly, and he’s shown lots of times an inability to play well with others.

And third, quite honestly, I feel like we Democrats have much more appealing alternatives this time around, candidates with charisma, personality and the ability to win in states we haven’t been winning in. Harris, Booker, Julian Castro, Sherrod Brown (who hasn’t declared yet but will soon) all strike me as much more electable candidates than Bernie, who will inspire people.

Look, Bernie did some amazing things last time around, and I love that he inspired so much passion among young people, passion I hope sticks around long after he’s gone from the national scene.

And of course he’s free to run this time, it’s a free country. But I think he and his supporters are deluding themselves if they think he’s really got a shot to win.

His shot was 2016. He came closer than anyone thought he might. But it’s time for a new generation of leaders.

I felt the Bern last time. This time I’ve got lots of sunscreen.

**Next up, big “Seinfeld” fans like me, and quite frankly most people who didn’t even watch it like my wife (yeah, I married her anyway) know about the legend of David Puddy, the character who played Elaine’s boyfriend through part of the show.

Puddy, played by Patrick Warburton, is an airhead, mostly devoid of charm, and an enormous fan of the New Jersey Devils hockey fan, which showed itself in a fantastic episode when he painted his face and went nuts for the Devils.

Well, Tuesday night at Prudential Center arena the Devils gave out Puddy bobbleheads, and invited Warburton to help fire up the crowd.

All was going well until he was about to leave the ice… d’oh! At least he seems to have taken it in stride.

Ah, Puddy. So good to see you again.

**Finally today, it’s one of the most special days of the year for me, a day I look forward to for 11 months. That’s right, all the light blue spoons in my kids’ food drawers have been tucked away, the baby blue bibs don’t get used, and don’t even come near me with any light blue clothing they might own; they ain’t wearing it today.

That’s right kids, it’s Duke-UNC day! The greatest rivalry in all of sports resumes tonight, one of two times they play every year (we’ve gotten super lucky the last two years, as they’ve played in the ACC Tournament as well). You can throw out the records, how each team is playing coming in (both are playing superbly right now), and anything else.

It’s just blood and guts, warfare on the hardwood, and I love every freaking minute of it. It’s ridiculous that the first game each year is now so late in the season, but whatever, it just means there’s more buildup.

Tonight at 9, the most special rivalry anywhere resumes. Crazy fact: How close is this rivalry? Check this out: Since the 1949-50 season, UNC has scored 13,581 points against Duke and allowed 13,559. That’s a difference of just 22 points over 179 games, or 0.1 per matchup.

Less than one point per game separates them, for the last 70 years!

Insane. ESPN, tonight at 9. Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett, Cameron Indoor Stadium, the Heels coming in playing terrific team ball.

The sound you will hear wherever you are is me screaming, throwing pillows and trying not to wake my kids. Then again, it IS a good reason to wake them, I think.

Let’s go Duke. Go to hell Carolina, go to hell (clap clap).
Game on!

“Deadline Artists” doc on HBO highlights the writing brilliance of Pete Hamill and Jimmy Breslin. A pretty cool dunk at NBA All-Star Weekend over Shaq. And my man Reilly Opelka has a huge tennis breakthrough

There are certain names of newspaper journalists who convey universal respect. Just about all of us have fans and enemies of our work, people who like our style and others who think it’s nothing more useful than to line the birdcage with.

But for a rare few, their writing and reporting are so damn good, everyone kind of stands back in awe.

That’s the case for two New York City legends from days gone by. Jimmy Breslin and Pete Hamill were wordsmiths of the highest order, though very different in their styles and approaches, and they’re the subject of a fabulous new HBO documentary I saw recently called “Breslin and Hamill: Deadline Artists.”

Jimmy Breslin was a New York City legend, a Queens kid who was pushy, arrogant but outstanding as a reporter in any situation. He was by all account a pain in the ass to work with, but he took on so many powerful institutions like City Hall and the NYPD by championing the underdog, the little guy, the minorities whose rights often get trampled on. He became a major celebrity after corresponding with the Son of Sam serial killer through a series of letters in 1977, and continued to make headlines throughout the rest of his life, which ended in 2017.

Breslin’s most famous story, though, came after the assassination of John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963. While hundreds of reporters covered the funeral in the traditional way, Breslin brilliantly chose another path: He found the man who’s job it was to dig the President’s grave, and interviewed him.

Here’s the lede:

Clifton Pollard was pretty sure he was going to be working on Sunday, so when he woke up at 9 a.m., in his three-room apartment on Corcoran Street, he put on khaki overalls before going into the kitchen for breakfast. His wife, Hettie, made bacon and eggs for him. Pollard was in the middle of eating them when he received the phone call he had been expecting. It was from Mazo Kawalchik, who is the foreman of the gravediggers at Arlington National Cemetery, which is where Pollard works for a living. “Polly, could you please be here by eleven o’clock this morning?” Kawalchik asked. “I guess you know what it’s for.” Pollard did.

He hung up the phone, finished breakfast, and left his apartment so he could spend Sunday digging a grave for John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

Brilliant.

The only journalist in New York who could rival Breslin in the 1960s-1990s was Pete Hamill, who had a more literary style than the pugnacious Breslin but was equally as talented.

Hamill also was a legendary drunk, and dated Shirley MacLaine and Jackie Kennedy Onassis while enjoying his celebrity. But man, could he write. Personally I remember reading Hamill in college and being totally inspired by his beautiful prose, and how direct he was.

Here’s a snippet of Hamill’s column from the early 1990s, when real estate mogul Donald Trump, in a full-page advertisement, demanded the Central Park Five (accused of raping a white woman in Central Park) be sent to the death penalty for their “Crime.”

“Snarling and heartless and fraudulently tough, insisting on the virtue of stupidity, it was the epitome of blind negation,” Hamill wrote of the ad.

“Hate was just another luxury. And Donald Trump stood naked revealed as the spokesman for that tiny minority of Americans who live well-defended lives. Forget poverty and its causes. Forget the degradation of millions. Fry them into passivity.”

Back when newspaper voices were the loudest and most important in town, Breslin and Hamill were giants, and this brisk documentary covers their lives, and their impact, really well.

My only quibble is that “Deadline Artists” focuses too much on Breslin and not enough on Hamill; I’d say it was like 70-30 in favor of Breslin, when Hamill’s influence was just as strong.

But it was a great, great documentary; here’s a little bit of the trailer to get you interested.

**Next up today, the NBA just had it’s All-Star Weekend, and it’s usually a pretty boring affair. We’ve seen all the dunks, all the 3-point shooting greatness, and the amazing lack of defense in the actual All-Star Game.

But once every couple of years there’s a pretty special moment, and I really liked this dunk by Hamidou Diallo of Oklahoma City in the dunk contest.

He leaped over Shaq on his way to the rim, then put his elbow inside the hoop after the slam.

Pretty cool.

**Finally today, there was a pro tennis result Sunday that probably didn’t mean much to 95 percent of sports fans, but it was very cool and special to see for me.

I’ve written in this space before about Reilly Opelka, the 7-foot pro tennis player who I’ve known for a decade since I wrote my first story about him when he was a 12-year-old in Palm Coast, Fla., and I was a sportswriter in Daytona Beach. I’ve gotten to know Reilly and his fabulous parents over the years, and they’re all good people.

Anyway, this past week I was headed out to the New York Open, a small ATP Tour event that Reilly was playing in at Nassau Coliseum, about 30 minutes from my house, to do a story on him for FlaglerLive.com.

I never get to interview Reilly in person much anymore, so I was looking forward to a little “catching up with” kind of feature on how well he’d been doing lately.

Much to my surprise, the kid caught fire this week and won the whole tournament, finishing with a thrilling 3-set win Sunday night. It was his first ATP Tour-level title, it vaulted him into the No. 56 world ranking (pretty damn good, I’d say) and the best part was his Mom, who rarely gets to see him play in person, was there all week to watch him, then celebrate afterwards.

So many times as a journalist you are taught not to root for the individual, but to root for the story. Well, sometimes you can do both. Here’s my story I wrote on Reilly for FlaglerLive.com today.

It was a very cool moment to see, a kid accomplishing something huge and knowing you saw him when. (As I always tell people, sure, he’s 7-foot tall now, but when I met him I was taller.)
Keep an eye on him, he’s going to keep doing big things.

Good News Friday: A restaurant in D.C. feeds the homeless and poor, every day. A beautiful Steve Hartman tribute to his Dad. And New York state passes a long-overdue law allowing abuse victims to sue their attackers

And a happy Friday, Wide World of Stuff-ers (Yeah I don’t think that’ll catch on.). Hope you are somewhere feeling loved after Valentine’s Day, or at least if you’re not feeling loved, you got some good chocolate into your body yesterday.

Lots of good news to choose from this week, but I want to start with this wonderful restaurant in Washington, D.C. called the Sakina Halal Grill. It’s owned by immigrants, and the Pakistani-themed eatery feeds homeless and poor people every day, all day, whenever a meal is requested.

Last year the restaurant gave away 16,000 free meals. SIXTEEN THOUSAND. That’s unbelievable. Watch the owner, Kazi Mannan, and his words: “I want people to not have fear in caring for others and loving others.”

A wonderful man, and a wonderful restaurant. Watch their story below.

https://twitter.com/Cpatrickis/status/1093982900259827712/video/1

**Next up today, a beautiful tribute by my man Steve Hartman of CBS News, to his father who recently passed away.

You might argue that someone’s death doesn’t deserve to be in a Good News column, but this tribute from a son to his father is so special, and certainly put a smile on my face.

Enjoy this three-minute video. Then, if they’re still with us, call your parents.

**Finally today, a very important law passed in New York this week, that probably got 1/10th the attention of our man-baby President’s latest Tweet. A law that has been blocked for the past decade by some GOP lawmakers in my state.

Let me tell you about the Child Victims Act; it significantly increases the statute of limitations for child sex abuse victims to prosecute their abusers. The Child Victims act changes the age at which people can legally bring their abusers to justice from age 23 to age 55 in civil cases, and to age 28 in criminal cases.

Considering the research that shows 1 in 5 females and 1 in 20 males are victims of child sex abuse, and that the median age for disclosing such abuse is 48, this bill will help many victims seek the justice they deserve.

This is long, long overdue. The idea that children who have been treated so horribly had a statute of limitations on their legal rights is ridiculous, and unconscionable.

Finally, there will be the chance for so many who suffered to get some measure of justice, and peace.

 

Tommy Tomlinson’s “The Elephant in the Room” is a beautiful book. The UCLA gymnast whose routines are incredible. And a new invention for people who are too slovenly to text and eat snacks at the same time

I have been extremely lucky in my life to never have to have worried about a weight problem.

I was blessed with a fast metabolism, have always exercised, and when I was diagnosed with a mild form of Crohn’s Disease four years ago, my bigger problem was trying to keep weight on, not go on a diet.

So as much as I have empathized with family members, friends and co-workers over the years who have struggled with dieting, I never truly could put myself in their shoes, much as I tried.

But never in all my years of reading about weight and diet issues have I understood more what it’s like to be obese in America than after I finished reading Tommy Tomlinson’s astonishing new book, “The Elephant in the Room.”

I’ve been a huge fan of Tomlinson’s for a couple decades now, ever since I first started reading him in the Charlotte Observer (I worked in Wilmington, N.C. in the late 1990s so I tried to read the state’s best papers as often as I could). He is a tremendous wordsmith, a beautiful phrase-turner, and from all I’ve heard and seen, a heck of a nice guy as well.

But for his entire life he has struggled with his weight. A child growing up poor in the South, Tomlinson writes movingly about how food was how parents showed their love, and goes on for pages about his favorite delicacies.

He was active athletically as a kid which kept his weight a little bit in check, but as he got older his weight ballooned way out of control, until he weighed 460 pounds at the end of 2014. He movingly discusses how many calculations he must make every day when you’re his size: Where you can sit at a restaurant, on on airplane, in a conference room constantly seeing if the chairs will hold you, or if you’ll suffer the embarrassment of breaking one.

Two major events in his life finally triggered him into doing something about his size: He turned 50, and his sister Brenda died. She, too, was overweight and that contributed to her death.

In this fabulous book, Tomlinson is as naked and honest about himself and his feelings as any writer I’ve ever read. He spends an entire page describing his body when he looks at himself in the mirror in the morning.

My body is a car wreck. Skin tags — long, mole-like growths caused by chafing– dangle under my arms and down to my crotch. I have breasts where my chest ought to be. My belly is strafed with more stretch marks than a mother of five … Varicose veins bulge from my thighs. My calves and shins are rust-colored and shiny from a condition called chronic venous insufficiency … my body is crumbling under its own gravity.”

He discusses his desire not to do a “fad diet” that promises you can lose 30 pounds in 30 days, instead wishing for a longer-term solution. As he details his year-long quest to live healthier and save his life, Tomlinson takes readers into some dark corners of his soul, but also provides fascinating facts about how we as Americans are coping with getting heavier (Did you know that movie theater seats are four inches wider than they were in 1990?)

Tomlinson has setbacks, he has triumphs, but all along the way he’s brutally honest about how his weight has caused him to miss out on so much in life, affecting his relationships with his wife and friends, his inability to have children, and much more.

You can’t help but root for this good, decent man when he writes beautiful paragraphs like this one, talking about the things he’s never been able to do, but that he believes he could do if he’d ever let “the man inside him,” one who is not obese, come out.

“There’s a bicycle I want the man inside me to ride. Nothing fancy — I’d be fine with one of those old-man bikes with straight handlebars and a cushy seat. Our neighborhood is full of bike riders. There’s a group that rides through every Tuesday night. Sometimes we sit on the porch and wave at them as they glide past our house, a rolling parade. I’m tired of watching parades. I’d like to be in a few.”

I cannot recommend “The Elephant In the Room” highly enough. It’s a wonderfully-written tale by a man who’s finally confronted his demons and is trying to finally beat them.

Tomlinson should be highly cheered for having the courage to write this book. I strongly encourage you to read it.

**Next up today, I can’t remember if I’ve talked about this incredible UCLA gymnast Katelyn Ohashi before or not, but if I haven’t, you have to check her out. She’s been doing these amazing floor exercise routines all winter and this one from the other night, in her hometown of Seattle, was sensational.

This woman just exudes joy.

**And finally today, I heard this story on NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me and it once again made me question the future of our society, as in, “really, we need this now?”

So let’s say you’re eating a bag of chips and the grease is all over your fingers and then you get a text or need to make a phone call. Well that’s gonna be messy.

But never fear, a company in Japan has invented something to solve your finger-lickin’-good problems.

Allow me to introduce you to a product called One Hand Chips. Instead of grabbing a handful of chips with your fingers, with One Hand Chips, you just tip a cup filled with hundreds of chip bits to your lips, and you kind of drink them down, like you would a soda or a beer.

That’s right people, when you’re too lazy to eat chips with your fingers, we as a society have lost. Let’s just give up, go home, and let the robots run everything.

Sometimes I weep for the future.

A Friday night I’ll never forget: Me and Mark Messier hang out for a bit. Kate McKinnon continues to be awesome on “SNL.” And my annual “old fogey watches the Grammys” thoughts

I don’t think I do a lot of complaining about my life here on the blog, but if I ever do, remind of the night of Feb. 8, 2019 and tell me to shut up.

Friday night… man, was it magical.

They say you should never meet your childhood heroes in real life, because they’re bound to disappoint you. I don’t know about that, because a few of my heroes that I’ve been lucky enough to meet (Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova, Bob Costas) have all turned out to be pretty cool.

But one hero I never, ever expected to meet is one of the greatest hockey players who ever lived. Guy by the name of Messier. First name Mark.

Played for the Edmonton Oilers, won five Stanley Cups, then came to New York and gave the single greatest sports memory I will ever have on June 14, 1994, when he and the Rangers won the Stanley Cup for the first time in 54 years.

And Friday night, the Captain and I spent about 30 glorious minutes together, on an evening that was incredible and memorable before I ever shook his hand.

A little background on how a night I’ll never forget came to be: So my wonderful wife has a work contact whose firm has a suite at Madison Square Garden, and around twice a year we are fortunate enough to spend a night at a Rangers game in the suite, with great food, a private bathroom (that’s huge at a hockey game!) and cool people.

Several months ago my wife told me our two games for this year, and at the time I had no idea that Feb. 8 vs. Carolina was going to be the 25th anniversary celebration of the 1994 Stanley Cup. When I found that out, I went from my normal level of excitement to a 10.

Seeing my favorite sports team of all time all dressed up and being honored was going to be awesome.
Then, I get to the suite about two hours before the game, and like usual I start introducing myself to the other people in the suite. Normally these are just other lawyers or bankers or whatever.

“Hi,” the first guy said. “I’m Paul Messier.”
“Hi,” the second guy said. “I’m Doug Messier.”

Wait, what? Mark Messier’s brother, and father, are sitting in this box with me? My excitement level went up seven or eight notches.

Then I found out that a few Rangers legends would be stopping by our suite during the game, including that “other” Messier guy.
I couldn’t call my wife and my father fast enough (she hadn’t arrived yet) to tell them that I might get to meet one of my all-time idols. This is a man whose name is part of some of my email passwords, a man who stood for everything (courage, tenacity, being clutch, being a good guy off the ice) that I believe in and worship in an athlete.

The pregame ceremony gave me chills. Then the game started. I half paid attention to the game, because I kept watching the door of the suite waiting for No. 11 to come in.

By the end of the second period, even though I’d had lots of fun chatting about hockey with Messier’s brother (and the poor guy, you just know that’s how everyone refers to him), I was getting worried. Maybe Mark wouldn’t show. Maybe he had too many other obligations on this special night.

Then, early in the third, he walked in. And of course for the rest of us in the box, time kind of stood still.

I bided my time. I waited a whole two minutes before walking over to where the great Mark Messier stood. I shook his hand, told him that I’m sure I’m the 48 millionth person to tell him this, but thank you for the 1994 Cup.

And he was great. We took some more pics with my wife and her co-workers, and then for about 10 glorious minutes, I sat one row in front of the greatest captain in hockey history and exchanged a few barbs. I made him laugh with one joke about how bad the current Rangers were playing, and a few minutes later we talked briefly about Sergei Zubov and how it’s a travesty he’s not in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Then way too quickly, the game ended and it was time to leave. We thanked Mess again on our way out, and I walked into the night a few moments later wondering if all that all really happened.

They say you shouldn’t meet your heroes. I met one Friday night. And it was so freaking awesome.

And just because we’re talking about Messier, here’s this, the greatest clutch performance a Rangers player has ever had.

**Next up today, a big story at the end of last week was Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos and his stunningly honest and transparent letter accusing the National Enquirer of trying to extort him to not cover the Enquirer/Trump love-in, by threatening to release penis pics of Bezos.

Yes, this is America in 2019. Thankfully, we have “Saturday Night Live” to sort this all out. And as always, Kate McKinnon is gold.

**Finally today, Sunday night was the Grammys, and as usual this 43-year-old suburban white father of two didn’t know a lot of the musical acts that took the stage, or won awards (actual pre-Grammys conversation in our house: Post Malone, is that a boy, or a girl, or a group? And is there an alternative group called Pre-Malone?”)

But hey, as usual I enjoyed lots of the show, anyway. Some thoughts from my still stuck in the 1980s musically brain:

— The Dolly Parton tribute was fabulous. And I say this every time I hear her sing, but Miley Cyrus has an amazing voice. Truly an all-time great set of pipes. If I could just get past her crazy, I’d probably be a big fan of hers.

— I don’t usually like Lady Gaga’s outfits at all, but that shiny silver dress she wore at the beginning? Fantastic. And the glittery catsuit thingy she had on when singing her awesome song “Shallow?” Pretty fabulous too.

— That opening speaking segment with Michelle Obama, Gaga, Alicia Keys, Jennifer Lopez, and Jada Pinkett-Smith was pretty spectacular as well.

— Alicia Keys rules. She was a killer host, a great singer, and I loved her little montage. But this will still be the best thing she ever did.

— I want whatever anti-aging cream John Mayer uses. Dude still looks like he’s 16!

— Best performance by someone I’d never heard of until the Grammys: H-E-R. Very strong. But I swear I don’t get the appeal of half these artists. I’m old.

 

Good News Friday: James Corden and Billy Crystal re-create a classic movie scene, perfectly. A little boy discovers the joy of jumping in puddles. And police officers in Washington rush to a scene of a snowball fight, and join in.

And a Happy Friday to all you cats and kittens out there (sorry, was channeling my inner Alan Freed there. Look him up, kids). Hope you are doing wonderful today and you’ve got your Valentine’s Day shopping done, always important to remember that day, fellas.

Lots of good stuff out there this week to make you feel better as we head into the weekend, but I have to start with this brilliant James Corden-Billy Crystal clip from Corden’s show the other night.

The movie “When Harry Met Sally” is one of my all-time Top 5 favorites, and it should be legally-required viewing for every American. The most famous scene, of course, from that classic, is Meg Ryan’s fake-orgasm scene in the deli.

Well, Corden and Crystal kinda sorta recreated it this week, and it’s freaking fantastic (they even got the detail right of what one of the other customers was wearing in the background!). I laughed really hard.

**Next up today, police officers in Duvall, Wash. showed up in the middle of a winter storm to a playground where kids were having a snowball fight, and got totally into the spirit of it.

I love this. So nice to see officers letting kids be kids.

**And finally today, one more video that made me smile. A Twitter user named Mikel Jollett posted this video of his son discovering the joy of jumping in puddles, and it made me think of the day, about three years ago now, when my oldest son Nate and I were in the park near our apartment, and I showed him the joy of leaping into a puddle and getting all wet.

He giggled and giggled and jumped into that puddle at that playground for about 20 minutes, and I will take that memory with me until the day I die.

I hope this kid, and my kid, never loses that innocent joy.