Monthly Archives: April 2019

Words from the steamrolled: A great story on what it’s like to lose to “Jeopardy” James Holzhauer. The most bizarre baseball double play you’ll see this year. And a hockey writer unearths the best NHL team promo ever

I don’t know if you all are as obsessed with “Jeopardy” right now as I am, but it has become must-watch TV, even more than usual, in our house.

Part of it is because James Holzhauer is like Secretariat at the Kentucky Derby (look it up, young’uns), just destroying the competition and making a mockery of Daily Double wagers. After having his closest call yet on Monday night (shout-out to Brandeis sports info director Adam Levin, who lost to James by only $18!), the machine was back in force on Tuesday, obliterating his two foes and racking up more than $96,000 in winnings.

I don’t know if it’s because there’s SO much relentless bad news in America (yet another awful campus shooting Tuesday, at UNC-Charlotte) that something joyous like James breaking records by knowing stuff and being bold about it makes us feel good, but the dude is a phenomenon.

What’s it feel like to be his cannon fodder, I’ve been wondering. Happily, Emily Yahr of the Washington Post has answered that for me, as she interviewed a dozen of the other “Jeopardy” contestants who’ve been mopped up by Holzhauer.

Realize: It’s incredibly difficult to get on “Jeopardy,” you have to be super smart and super lucky, and it’s the dream of a lifetime. Then when you get there, you just get totally crushed.

So many great quotes in there, including this from Lorelle Anderson “My mother said the whole thing was rigged”) or Lewis Black (“Any other day, any other opponent, the results might have been different, but you just happen to get there and run headfirst into a buzzsaw.”)

Really fun story idea, great execution. Hey, at least the losing contestants can say they’re a part of TV history.

**Next up, it takes a lot for me to pay attention to baseball in April, but check out this incredible double play the Oakland Athletics pulled off last week. I can definitely say I’ve never seen anything like this.

That throw from center field… just nuts.

**And finally today, something completely ridiculous for your Wednesday. Outstanding hockey writer for The Athletic, Sean McIndoe, put this in his column the other day and I’ve only watched it 15-16 times.

Around playoff time NHL teams often try to put together happy promo videos to encourage fans to buy tickets, and of course, in the 1980s, just like everything else in that glorious decade, these promos could be incredibly cheesy and unintentionally hilarious.

I give you 30 seconds of high comedy: the 1990 Winnipeg Jets playoff promo (yeah I know it was 1990 but that’s still the ’80s ethos in my book). I don’t know what my favorite part of this is, the whole freaking thing is great.

Remember kids, the sky IS the limit!

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Another synagogue shooting, this time near San Diego, is heartbreaking. Paul Rudd and Jimmy Fallon re-make a classic 80’s video. And the real star of the NFL Draft? A retired punter from the Colts steals the show

We would have been quite naive to think that the horrific shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh last year would be a standalone hate crime.

There are, in 2019, no more standalone hate crimes, it seems. There’s just one, after another, after another. The details change, the locations change, and sometimes even the group the particular killer hates so much, changes.

Once again, Saturday, though, on the final day of Passover, it was Jews who were targeted. Jews who were targeted for murder simply because they were Jewish is something I learned about in Hebrew school, some 30 years ago, when we were taught history.

It’s sometimes hard to believe in 2019 that it’s not history, it’s very much present.

The worshipers at the Chabad of Poway Synagogue were in a safe place, they thought; just 23 minutes after their Passover celebration, a 19-year-old man who’d taken the time to write a long manifesto about how much he hated Jews walked in and started firing an AR-style assault rifle, killing a woman named Lori Gilbert Kaye (pictured above) and injuring three other people, including a rabbi.

The killer fled the synagogue after being shot at by an off-duty Border Patrol agent, and the killer then called police to say he was involved in the shooting.

He was proud. So, so proud of himself, for what he had done.

I am disgusted as a Jewish person, as a human being, and as an American by this shooting.

Love is stronger than hate, and good is stronger than evil, and I always say in this space that there’s way more good than bad people in the world.

But the bad people ain’t going away anytime soon.

***OK, let’s switch gears to something much happier and lighter. Jimmy Fallon and Paul Rudd teamed up last week to do an absolutely spectacular remake of a great 1980s video/song by the British band Dead or Alive. (Hat tip to my friend Amanda for pointing me toward this.)

I give you “You Spin me Round” (Like a Record.) This is so damn good.

On a related note, what kind of powerful drugs are Fallon and his creative writing team on to THINK of doing stuff like this? I want some of it, whatever it is.

**And finally today, proving that in the world of the NFL, nothing can ever not be made bigger and all-encompassing, the now-three days of NFL Draft ended on Saturday night, with hundreds of players seeing their dreams come true. (Why the draft can’t just be held on one day like it was for ever, I don’t know, but TV ratings prove that people just can’t get enough of this Draft stuff.)

Anyway, there were a few exciting moments at the Draft the last few days (Giants fans scratching their heads and screaming about their first pick, joining Raiders fans in that regard), but by far my favorite was this two-minute monologue/intro by ex-Colts punter Pat McAfee, who was hilarious and cutting and everything you could want in a pick announcer.

He’s the greatest.

Good News Friday: The real-life “Avengers” actor help make a huge donation to children’s hospitals. A girl born with no hands wins a handwriting award. And a Teacher of the Year award winner we should all admire

 

And a Happy Friday to all of you out there! Hope you had a terrific week, which if you’re one of the incredible athletic men taken in the first round of the NFL Draft last night, you surely did! (Quick aside: There were thousands of thousands of people in Nashville last night to watch the draft live. I will never understand why anyone wants to watch this “sporting event” live. Nothing happens! A man walks out on stage, announces a name, that dude comes out, and that’s it. Over and over again. But hey, that’s me.)

Anyway, lots of good news as always to share with you this week, and I want to start with a rarity here on Good News Friday, and that’s the cast of a superhero movie doing something very cool.

The new “Avengers” movie is coming out this week, and recently “Avengers” actors Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Paul Rudd and Brie Larson showed up with Disney CEO Robert Iger at Disney California Adventure Park to help announce a donation of $5 million to children’s hospitals across the country.

According to this story on Upworthy.com, at the event, members of the local Boys& Girls Clubs also got to hang out with the Avengers at Downtown Disney’s LEGO store, plus they all went home with new toys. So basically, a bunch of kids just had the best day ever.

Very awesome move; children’s hospitals need and deserve all the money they can get.

Also, this was pretty cool by the “Avengers” actors: Singing Billy Joel’s classic “We Didn’t Start The Fire” but with lyrics changed to recap the history of the franchise’s movies:

**Next up today, check out this incredible story my sister sent me this week, and which was featured on ABC News Thursday night:

Meet Sara Hinesley, a 10-year-old girl in Maryland, who just won the Nicholas Maxim Award in the 2019 Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest.

What’s the big deal about a kid winning a handwriting award? Well, Sara was born without any hands.

Amazing. You go, Sara.

**And finally today, meet Rodney Robinson, a teacher for incarcerated kids, who entered the profession to honor his mom, who grew up during segregation and wasn’t able to graduate from high school due to poverty.

Now Rodney has been named a National Teacher of the Year.

According to this CNN story, Robinson, who teaches at Virgie Binford Education Center, a school inside the Richmond Juvenile Detention Center in Virginia, was just named the National Teacher of the Year by the Council of Chief State School Officers.

“He creates a positive school culture by empowering his students — many of whom have experienced trauma — to become civically minded social advocates who use their skills and voices to affect physical and policy changes at their school and in their communities,” the council said in a statement.

Read about how Rodney was inspired by his mother to go in to education, and all the good work he does trying to help kids who clearly are in need of guidance.

“(I want them to know that) you’re important and you have a place in this world and you can achieve your goals,” Robinson said. “Jail is only a temporary setback.”

I know there are a million teachers worth honoring out there, and they don’t get nearly the attention they should. So for all the Rodney Robinsons out there, we salute you.

The U.S. is now a “problematic” place to be a journalist, says world safety organization, and it’s getting worse and worse. Trevor Noah makes laugh, on the Democratic Town Halls. And the “Jeopardy” legend of James Holzhauer grows ever bigger

At 6 a.m. Tuesday morning, while most of us were either sleeping, getting ready for work, or getting off a graveyard shift somewhere (dudes working the 7-11 at that hour, I feel you), the President of the United States was wide awake and Tweeting.

I try really, really hard to ignore the ravings of this madman, because he’s just so awful, so psychologically damaged, but he’s so dangerous to the world.

So sometimes, I can’t ignore it, despite my best instincts. Sometimes, he says something so awful that if offends me as a human, and also as a journalist, which I still consider myself, even though I’m not a full-time journalist anymore.

This is what the President of the United States wrote on Twitter:

I wonder if the New York Times will apologize to me a second time, as they did after the 2016 Election. But this one will have to be a far bigger & better apology. On this one they will have to get down on their knees & beg for forgiveness-they are truly the Enemy of the People!

Yes, the President of our free democratic nation is saying the largest, most reputable and most legendary newspaper in America should get down on their knees and apologize to him, and that they, the New York Times, are the Enemy of the People.

The Enemy of the People.

A newspaper full of journalists, exposing wrongdoing all over the world, reporting on war and famine, afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted, is the enemy of the people.

Disgusting and outrageous doesn’t begin to express how I feel. He’s said this before, I know, and it’s disgusted me then, too. We are barely a year past the massacre at the Capital-Gazette newspaper in Maryland (the names of the deceased are in the above photo), and it has never been more dangerous to be a reporter in the U.S.

Trump’s Tweet came just a few days after this story caught my attention, that the international group Reporters Without Borders has dropped the U.S. to No. 48 out of 180 on its World Press Freedom Index, downgrading America to “problematic” for reporters in its rankings.

“Never before have US journalists been subjected to so many death threats or turned so often to private security firms for protection,” the report stated.

Ten journalists have been physically attacked this year, and 46 since 2017. In January, one reporter was punched in the face and her phone stolen, while interviewing voters in California.”

As you know, I take this shit VERY seriously. People in my beloved profession having to live in fear, and being treated like this, is unconscionable. And our fearless leader stoking the embers of this fire makes me want to vomit.

“The phrase “enemy of the people” is not just false, it’s dangerous. It has an ugly history of being wielded by dictators and tyrants who sought to control public information,” New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger said in response to Trump’s attacks on the paper in February.

He’s a dictator and a tyrant, and it’s enough.

Be safe out there, reporters, and keep doing the people’s work. You are far from the enemy.

**Next up today, I don’t watch Trevor Noah and “The Daily Show” as much as I should, and I say that because every time I take the time to watch one of his clips on Twitter, I laugh pretty hard.

Here’s Noah from Tuesday talking about the five CNN Town Halls Monday with Democratic Presidential candidates (I didn’t watch them all, but quickly, I still love Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren is brilliant and amazing, and I’m just not quite buying the hype over Mayor Pete yet, I think he may prove to be a flash in the pan).

Anyway, Noah is fabulous here, especially with the “white guy advantage” stuff at the end.

**Finally tonight, not sure if any of you are as big “Jeopardy” fans as we are in our house, but have you seen the last few weeks of utter and complete domination by James Holzhauer, a professional sports gambler? Dude hasn’t just been winning, he’s been obliterating the competition, making cartoonishly large bets on Daily Doubles, and just garnering obscene amounts of money.

He’s been breaking the one-day money record like it’s nothing, and Tuesday night he continued his tremendous winning streak, getting his 14th straight win, winning $118,816 total and now up to a grand total of $1,061, 554.

The guy is a machine, and we absolutely need to get him in the Tournament of Champions against weird-dude Austin and Ken Jennings immediately.

I am in awe of this dude. And he doesn’t seem like a jerk, either!

 

Thinking about the Columbine H.S. massacre, 20 years on: It’s not as shocking as it seemed then, and that’s very sad. An NFL team’s schedule-release video pays homage to old video games and it’s fabulous. And remembering Prince, the one and only, 3 years after his passing.

It was, in hindsight, the first school massacre of this generation.

Back then, we had no Earthly idea that it would be the first major school shooting of this generation. Back then, on April 20, 1999, the tragedy at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo, was shocking. Unfathomable. Impossible to believe was real.

The idea that two students, angry over the direction of their lives and willing and able to cause mass destruction, decided to go on a shooting rampage inside the walls of their school during the school day wasn’t something my generation had ever contemplated.

I remember sitting in my apartment in Wilmington, N.C. that night, watching news coverage of this, and the unspeakable sadness that washed over me. I was only two years removed from academia at that point in my life, and knowing how many unhappy kids I’d known in high school and college, and thinking this could’ve happened at my school? Never would I have believed it.

Of course, we are almost numb to school shootings now. They have happened so often, everywhere: Virginia Tech. Parkland, Fla. Newtown, Conn.  Cleveland, Ohio. And so, so many more.

According to this story that I read this weekend, in the 20 years since Columbine more than 187,000 students at 193 schools have witnessed a school shooting. They have caused 375 deaths or injuries.

One hundred and ninety-three schools. That’s as unfathomable as the Columbine shooting was, then.

But that’s the reality. We see a tragedy, we get angry, we vow that things MUST change, and they don’t.

After Columbine, I was so certain that such a destructive, horrible act would force changes in our laws.

They haven’t. But that doesn’t make the memories, and the wounds, of Columbine any less important.

This was the shooting that started it all. And it’s still kind of incredible that it happened.

**Next up today, last week the NFL released its 2019 schedule, and because everything about the NFL these days is over-sized and over-exaggerated, teams make a pretty big deal out of the day.

Lots of them this year made great videos announcing which opponents they’re playing when, but the Carolina Panthers’ announcement blew the rest of them away.

The Charlotte-based franchise used clips from old video games matched up to their 2019 opponents, and from using “Pitfall” to “Halo” to, of course, “Madden Football,” the Panthers have done a perfect job of getting fans ready for this season.
Seriously, I LOVED this. Bravo, Panthers.

 

**And finally today, it’s been three years since of the greatest musicians of all time died of an accidental drug overdose, so it’s as good a time as any to enjoy a little Prince.

Of all his amazing performances, if I had to pick only one to share, it’s gotta be his Super Bowl halftime show in 2007.

What a transcendent talent. Such a shame we’ll never get to hear new music from him again.

Good News Friday: LeBron’s school showing great early promise on test results. Some teenage boys make a lonely 5-year-old’s life so much better. And a youth chess champion who was homeless before the kindness of others kicked in.

And a Happy Passover and Happy Easter to all of you fine folks out there. I hope you’re having a wonderful day, as you read this my wife and I are preparing to host a Passover seder in our home for the first time, as the new rule seems to be “Michael and Shelley have a house now, they can host everything,” which is fine by us.

Passover is a fun holiday, kinda; the food isn’t all that tasty and sometimes the seder can drag on (“Really, we gotta read ALL FOUR questions???”) but it’s family and togetherness and the desserts are usually good.

Anyway, lots of goodies in Good News Friday this week (the full, unredacted Mueller Report is here! OK, not really, just trying to drive up clicks, ya know), but I want to start with LeBron James and his extraordinary school he founded and opened last year in Akron, Ohio, LeBron’s hometown.

The I Promise School has, in just a few months, shown extraordinary gains in scholastic development and test scores already.

This story in the New York Times the other day has some details:

“This time last year, the students at the school — Mr. James’s biggest foray into educational philanthropy — were identified as the worst performers in the Akron public schools and branded with behavioral problems. Some as young as 8 were considered at risk of not graduating …

“The academic results are early, and at 240, the sample size of students is small, but the inaugural classes of third and fourth graders at I Promise posted extraordinary results in their first set of district assessments. Ninety percent met or exceeded individual growth goals in reading and math, outpacing their peers across the district.”

NINETY PERCENT. That’s astonishing. For kids who were so far behind their peers to come that far, so fast, is such a beautiful thing.

“These kids are doing an unbelievable job, better than we all expected,” Mr. James said in a telephone interview hours before a game in Los Angeles for the Lakers. “When we first started, people knew I was opening a school for kids. Now people are going to really understand the lack of education they had before they came to our school. People are going to finally understand what goes on behind our doors.”

A wonderful start to a school driven by the passion of one man, to give something back to his community.

**Next up today, this is yet another heartwarming story from CBS News’ Steve Hartman.

When 13-year-old Gavin Mabes and some friends went to a skate park recently, nobody was there except Carter Bruynell, a little boy celebrating his 5th birthday with his Mom.

Then something extraordinary happened. Watch this and feel good about our future generation.

**Finally today, I’m a few weeks late on this but it’s such an inspiring story. An 8-year-old homeless refugee just won first place in the New York State scholastic chess championships.

Tanitoluwa Adewumi and his family arrived in America in 2017; he and his family fled northern Nigeria to avoid being killed by Boko Haram terrorists. (You may remember that Boko Haram made international news a few years ago when it kidnapped hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls).

For a little more than a year, according to this story, Tani and his parents lived in a homeless shelter, as they searched for employment and money while awaiting to see if they will receive asylum.

Thanks to the publicity surrounding Tani and his unusual story, a GoFundMe was set up for the family to secure housing for them, and within a week $200,000 was raised for the family.

“The U.S. is a dream country,” Kayode, Tani’s father, told The New York Times. “Thank God I live in the greatest city in the world, which is New York, New York.”

He’s not wrong (says this native New Yorker).

The best crime story press release quote ever, involves a dog stealing muffin mix. My favorite new T-shirt makes me love USC students. And Parisians mourn in song as Notre Dame burns

There are times when you read a sentence and it just stops you cold.

And you realize, once again, that for all the sadness and tragedy and anger in the world, sometimes a sentence stops you short and just makes you laugh and laugh and laugh. And then laugh again at how absurd life can sometimes be.

Let me take you to Wisconsin, and the city of Eau Claire, and one of its local Wal-Marts.

The stars of our story are a woman named Lisa Smith, her adult son Benny Vann, and a doggie named Bo.

From a press release after an incident at the local Wal-Mart:

Smith erratically started pulling apart store displays and placing them in her cart. She was asked to leave by staff and left the store to perform karate moves in the parking lot. In the meantime, [her dog] Bo got a box of Jiffy Cornbread Muffin Mix and tried to leave the store.

Smith was arrested and fought with officers — she also attempted to kick out a window on the squad car. While this was occurring, Vann had made his way to the back of the store and removed all of his clothing exposing himself to other customers.”

“The dog was not charged,” the police statement revealed. “Police issued him a warning for the theft.”

“The dog was not charged.”

I mean, COME ON! That’s the funniest thing I’ve read all week. How, exactly, would you charge the dog, and would you put tiny handcuffs around his paws? Would he be able to make his one phone call to his lawyer, or would he have to yelp for help, as they say on “Paw Patrol.”

“The dog was not charged.”

**Next up today, some enterprising USC students were out at the L.A. Festival of Books last week, and my buddy Jeff Pearlman and others who were there snapped this photo.

If you remember, several of the students caught up in the college admissions bribery scandal went to USC.

Just perfect.

**Finally today, a brief bit of uplift and solace after the devastating fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris this week. As someone who visited that incredible place (back in 2007, on my honeymoon with my ex-wife) and was awed by its beauty and history, I was saddened like many millions of others who watched this masterpiece of architecture and ancient symbols go aflame.

Monday night, while Notre Dame burned, I came across this short video of Parisians, singing “Ave Maria” in French outside the cathedral.

Just a short, beautiful moment. And the news that came the next day, that the main structure and two towers survived, were joyous pieces of information.

When beauty is destroyed, it’s a tragedy. But the spirit of these singers moved me a little.

 

Tiger Woods, improbably, wins the Masters. Is it OK to cheer the achievement and boo the achiever? Upon its series finale, remembering my favorite “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” song. And a lovely tribute from a son to his late father

It takes something rather extraordinary for me to pay attention to and care about, much less waste your team reading about, in the sport of golf.

Well, Sunday afternoon, something rather extraordinary happened. A 43-year-old man named Eldrick Woods (you may know him by his nickname) ended an 11-year major drought and improbably captured the Masters championship in Augusta, Ga.

Years after just about all golf watchers and journalists wrote off his chances of ever adding to his haul of 14 major trophies, after all the knee injuries and back injuries and car crashes and painkiller addiction, and alleged “sex addiction” and all of that… Tiger Woods won a freaking major again.

There was so much said about his improbable victory Sunday on the InterWebs, and 95 percent of it was marveling at the comeback and saluting Woods’ transformation.

By all accounts, Woods is a changed man at age 43. He no longer thinks everyone in the world is beneath him, as he used to. He was miserably rude to fans, other golfers, caddies and others who worked for him, and most certainly to women, particularly his ex-wife.

He was arrogant, entitled, and so many other negative things that many of us who paid any attention to him at all were repulsed by him.

But he has apparently changed, as time and a body breaking down can humble anyone.

A golf commentator named Jason Sobel, who’s watched Tiger since this beginning, had this Tweet after Woods’ win that I thought was telling:

“We’ve seen Tiger Woods pleased after winning majors. We’ve seen him relieved. We’ve seen smug and cocky and proud. We’ve never before seen him this happy. Pure happiness on his face.”

So my question today is this: Is it possible to marvel and appreciate the achievement, while not applauding the person who did it? Lots of terrible men (and women) have done amazing things in the world of sports over the years. Ty Cobb was by all accounts a miserable bastard, yet is one of the best baseball players ever.

Lawrence Taylor, an awful human being, was maybe the best linebacker who ever played in the NFL. And there are a hundred more examples like that.

I guess my point is that it’s an incredible sports story what Woods did on Sunday, winning another Masters after such a long gap. And maybe he IS a changed man, kinder, friendlier, and a better all-around dude.

But he was such a jerk for so long, to so many, that I’m not sure I can feel happy for him.

If you disagree, please comment here, would love to get a dialogue going.

**Next up today, it wasn’t the highest-rated show ever, and I can’t say I watched all of it, but the wildly strange and hilarious “My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” wrapped a four-season run on the WB network last week, and it deserves to be saluted by all who love oddball, wacky, laugh-out-loud song parodies.

There have been so many over the years that Rachel Bloom and Co. have given us, from my old favorite “J.A.P. Rap Battle” (that’s Jewish American Princess for you unitiated), to “We Tapped that Ass” to “I Go To the Zoo.” All of those are classics.

But for sheer hilarity, this one is my favorite, from one male character (Santino Fontana) to Bloom, singing a delightful tune about a medical condition he claims he gave her.

I was singing this happily to my wife for the past week, so if you enjoy it too, you’re welcome.

**Finally today, a simply gorgeous piece of writing from one of my favorite newspaper writers working today, the Toronto Star’s Bruce Arthur. Bruce, normally a sportswriter but excellent in everything he writes, had a complicated, difficult relationship with his father, and after his Dad passed away a few weeks ago, Bruce had some complicated feelings.

Henry Arthur and his wife got a divorce when Bruce was 5, leading to the reasonable question “Why do you have to go, Dad?” Over the last few years Henry suffered from dementia, and became sadly a shell of his former self.

Just gorgeous writing here. Here’s an excerpt:

Once back to Canada, the decline was steady. On early visits my dad and I would walk in Beacon Hill Park and look at the totem pole and the peacocks and the ocean, and he was still partly there. Once I warned him not to bump his head on a cupboard door and said, “Watch your head,” and he grinned and said, “That’s what I’m trying to do.” Once he said, “It’s what you do with what you didn’t mean to do that matters.” I don’t remember why he said that, but it’s true.

And we would play pool for hours, because it was the last thing he could do at a high level, and that we could share. He was delighted when I made a good shot, or won a game; he was satisfied when he did. He would have about one moment of clarity per visit, but never more than one. Once he remembered we had walked there before. Another time we were driving back from the ocean and he said, “I made my way in the world with my mind, and it’s very hard to lose it.”

 

Good News Friday: A politician proposes an awesome bill to outlaw really long store receipts. The Dwyane Wade Budweiser ad upon his retirement is incredibly good. And an Indiana school district takes unused food and uses it for take-home meals

It’s Friday! That almost always means good things, and today means lots of good things, including the weather finally warming up, the NBA and NHL playoffs getting going, and most importantly in our family, today we have kindergarten orientation for our oldest. Which of course is impossible, because he was just born like three weeks ago.

Kindergarten? Seriously? Ah, time, you tricky, fast-moving beast, you.
Anyway, lots of good stuff came across my brain this week that I wanted to share, and first I want to start off with an issue in our society I think we can all get behind.

Democrats, Republicans, Independents, communists, whoever you are, we can all agree that NO ONE likes getting those 11-page long receipts from big box stores when we buy stuff, right?

We have so many pieces of long skinny paper floating around our house and car from Bed Bath and Beyond, we could throw a ticker tape parade for someone every day of the damn year. I mean seriously, does Best Buy just like killing trees and stuff?

Well fortunately, a California state assemblyman named Peter Ting has proposed a bill that would require businesses to provide electronic receipts by default unless a customer asks for a paper one.

Assembly Bill 161 has already passed the Legislature and has a good chance to become law.

If we are looking at reducing waste, probably the easiest thing we can do is get rid of the material that someone hands us that we don’t want that we hold onto until we get to the next trash can and then throw away,” said Nick Lapis of Californians Against Waste, a bill supporter.

According to this L.A. Times story, the American Forest and Paper Assn., a paper industry group that opposes the bill, estimates that the United States generates 180,000 tons of paper receipts each year. That, the group points out, is a small percentage of total paper waste.

Yeah but that’s a HUGE amount of paper waste! Good on ya, California and Mr. Peter Ting. I hope this bill passes in California and becomes the law, everywhere.

THIS is what I want politicians spending their time on, quality of life stuff!

**Next up today, it’s rare that I have two NBA items in my blog in the same week, but if you haven’t seen this amazing Dwyane Wade Budweiser ad, please take four minutes and watch it.

Wade, an NBA superstar and to some of you non-sports fans, the husband of actress Gabrielle Union, is retiring after a Hall of Fame career, and he has a well-known reputation for being a fantastic community leader and charitable individual.

So Budweiser recruited some of the “ordinary folks” whose lives Wade has touched, or inspired, and put together this remarkable spot.

And Charles Barkley said athletes aren’t role models.

Enjoy.

**And finally today, a school district in Elkhart, Ind. is teaming up with a local non-profit to send hungry students home with food on the weekends. 

A South Bend, Ind. non-profit (hey, that’s where presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg is the mayor!) called Cultivate Culinary is providing weekend meals to a small group of students in the elementary school pilot program.

From this story on the local Fox station’s site: “Mostly, we rescue food that’s been made but never served by catering companies, large food service businesses, like the school system,” said Jim Conklin of Cultivate Culinary. “You don’t always think of a school.”

It rescues the unused food.

“Over-preparing is just part of what happens,” said Conklin. “We take well-prepared food, combine it with other food and make individual frozen meals out if it.”

Twenty students will receive a backpack with eight individual frozen meals every Friday until the end of school.

“At Elkhart Community Schools, we were wasting a lot of food,” said Natalie Bickel, student services. “There wasn’t anything to do with the food. So they came to the school three times a week and rescued the food.”

Such a simple idea. So many poor students in this country rely on schools for sustenance, and sometimes only eat at school. But on weekends, and in the summer when school is out, the problem can be so great.

“It’s making a big impact,” said Melissa Ramey, who works for the town’s Chamber of Commerce. “It was heartbreaking to hear that children go home on the weekends and that they don’t have anything to eat.”

Good on a non-profit and the school system for teaming up to help solve a major issue. I hope this catches on nation-wide. A country that can’t feed its people… just not right.

 

A white NBA player writes a magnificent essay on “white privilege.” The high school baseball coach who set his field on fire to dry it. And Funny or Die’s new “Zack Morris is trash” video slays me.

There have been many, many takes over the past several years, not starting with, but certainly being kicked into high gear by, the Black Lives Matter movement, about white privilege and how so many white people don’t admit how real it is.

It applies to so many areas of society, from the way law enforcement treat people of color, to how minorities are treated by employers, by Starbucks baristas, by college admissions directors… I could go on and on.

One area where “white privilege” doesn’t get talked about often is in the NBA. Because, let’s face it, it is a pro sports league dominated by people of color. Caucasians in the NBA are often a running joke, like when a team is up big in the fourth quarter the home fans call for the scrubs at the end of the bench, often white, to get in (Jack Haley, I’m looking at you, sir.)

So it was refreshing, and a little stunning, to read this fantastic, heartfelt essay from Kyle Korver, a sharpshooting white forward from the Utah Jazz. In beautiful, concise language, Korver talks about how he as a white man took so much for granted, his reflexive blaming of a teammate when the teammate got beat up by the police, and so much more.

I can’t recommend this Korver essay, from The Player’s Tribune, highly enough. Here’s an excerpt, really gripping stuff, and stunning coming from a current NBA player:

There’s an elephant in the room that I’ve been thinking about a lot over these last few weeks. It’s the fact that, demographically, if we’re being honest: I have more in common with the fans in the crowd at your average NBA game than I have with the players on the court.

And after the events in Salt Lake City last month, and as we’ve been discussing them since, I’ve really started to recognize the role those demographics play in my privilege. It’s like — I may be Thabo’s friend, or Ekpe’s teammate, or Russ’s colleague; I may work with those guys. And I absolutely 100% stand with them.

But I look like the other guy.

And whether I like it or not? I’m beginning to understand how that means something.

What I’m realizing is, no matter how passionately I commit to being an ally, and no matter how unwavering my support is for NBA and WNBA players of color….. I’m still in this conversation from the privileged perspective of opting in to it. Which of course means that on the flip side, I could just as easily opt out of it. Every day, I’m given that choice — I’m granted that privilege — based on the color of my skin.

In other words, I can say every right thing in the world: I can voice my solidarity with Russ after what happened in Utah. I can evolve my position on what happened to Thabo in New York. I can be that weird dude in Get Out bragging about how he’d have voted for Obama a third term. I can condemn every racist heckler I’ve ever known.

But I can also fade into the crowd, and my face can blend in with the faces of those hecklers, any time I want.

I realize that now. And maybe in years past, just realizing something would’ve felt like progress. But it’s NOT years past — it’s today. And I know I have to do better. So I’m trying to push myself further.

I’m trying to ask myself what I should actually do.

Really great stuff. I commend Korver for having the honesty and courage to put all this out there.

**Next up, I can’t remember if I’ve blogged before about the incredible Funny or Die series “Zack Morris is Trash,” about “Saved by the Bell” character Zack Morris and how awful his actions were if you break them down.

But if I haven’t, I should have. And now I rectify it by giving you what I think might be their masterpiece video, this four-minute takedown of the episode in which Screech gets hit by lightning and can suddenly see the future, and Zack tries to take advantage.

I laughed and laughed at this one. Well done, FOD.

**And finally today, I always love when a coach has a truly nutty idea, tries it, and it blows up in his face.

Let me introduce you to Steve Ross, the head coach of Clearfield High School’s varsity baseball team.

It seems Clearfield’s field was very wet before a late-March game, and to dry it out, Mr. Ross decided to allegedly pour 15-20 gallons of unleaded gasoline onto the team’s home field.

Well, the good news, the field got dry! The bad news? Well, the field looked like my grill after a nice summer barbecue.

After a parent noted that the field smelled like gas, a formal complaint was filed, and Ross has now been put on administrative leave.

There are many, many jokes in here about “lighting a fire” under his team, but I’m just going to let you all make them.

Instead, let’s let Jim Morrison take us out…