Monthly Archives: December 2019

Best of Good News Friday, 2019: A teacher takes a flight that changes her students’ lives. A 4-year-old gets mic’ed up at hockey practice and it’s hilarious. And a Dad’s letter from the tooth fairy to his daughter is beautiful and heartwarming

Hi everyone, and happy Monday. This week as we ring in 2020, I continue my final week of the year tradition here at WWoS by looking back at my favorite (and basing on comments and reads, some of yours) Good News Friday stories of 2019.

The calendar this year is a little wonky as Wednesday and Friday’s best-of posts will technically be in 2020, but hey, who’s counting?

Hope you enjoy the “replays” of these heartwarming stories as much as I do. 

First up, this story from last January really resonated with me, both because of my love of teachers and because it’s a continual outrage how little they are paid in many parts of America.

A public school teacher working in inner-city Chicago named Kimberly Bermudez (above) flew to Florida to visit her parents over the holidays, and had a life-changing trip on her flight.

Bermudez talked to her seatmate, a stranger, about life and funding in inner-city schools, and how so many of her students struggle just for basic school necessities. And after a few minutes, the man asked to get her information; the company he works for likes to donate items to schools like hers, he explained. Maybe they could work something out.

The kind gesture already made her flight a heartening one. But then things really took a turn. Bermudez felt a tap on her shoulder.

The man sitting behind her apologized for having eavesdropped on her conversation — then handed her a stack of cash.

The bill on top was $100.

One thing has led to another, and other passengers got involved, and the story went viral, and Bermudez’s school has gotten $4,000 in donations from total strangers.

It’s really a beautiful story. So many of these stories make news because of heartwarming generosity, but also because it shines a light on how desperately underfunded most schools are.

**Next up, this might be my favorite video of the year.

in February we met 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 had more than 6 million views in less than a week, and now as I write this in late December it’s been viewed more than 12 million times.

Sometimes, the Internet is a good thing.

**And finally, maybe this stayed with me because it was written by one of my best friends, or because my oldest son is probably going to lose his first tooth in the next year. But I really, really loved this letter, from last March, from my friend Jeff Pearlman to his daughter Casey.

A few years ago, when his daughter Casey turned 11, she lost a tooth. And, well, Jeff and his wife Catherine were understandably bummed when Casey told them she knew the Tooth Fairy, who the Pearlmans called “Sunna,” didn’t exist.

So Jeff wrote Casey a beautiful letter from Sunna, which is below. Just spectacular, warm stuff.

My dearest love, Princess Casey …

I love you. I love your teeth. I’ve loved being your tooth fairy for the last nine years. I’ve seen you blossom from a little girl to a young woman, and it makes my heart glow with pride.

But I think it’s time …

There comes a point when girls stop believing in me. This always breaks my heart, because it signifies the conclusion of something precious and sweet. I’ve now fluttered into your room more than 20 times. I know exactly how you sleep (soundly, always facing the same side) and how to take your tooth without waking you from a deep, beautiful slumber. The decorations and paint colors have changed through the years, but—in many ways—you have not. You remain sweet and passionate and dreamy. I’d never before been the tooth fairy to a girl who hangs socks and weird objects from her wall. You’re special. You think differently.

I understand why you no longer believe there’s a tooth fairy. You’re older, you’re wiser, you’re harder to dazzle. But, dear Casey, let me say this: Whether I’m a magical fairy who flies into your room or merely a loving parent shoving stuff beneath your pillow, I’m still Sunna. I represent wonderment and magic and—most of all—goodness.

Please, Casey, as you age, don’t stop believing in those things. Be enraptured by the beautiful. Find magic in the magical. And always look for the goodness in people. It’s there, even if sometimes it takes a while to find.

I have loved being your tooth fairy. Please, never forget me.

I will never forget you.

Love always,

Sunna

Good News Friday: A 15-year-old creates an app to help people with dementia. An 11-year-old speed-crochets for charity. And a UPS driver goes above and beyond to hide a Christmas gift from kids

And a Happy Friday, the last one of 2019! Hope wherever you are you’re not working, as I know that the final week of the year is always the least productive, just about everywhere (except the gift returns department of Amazon, that place is always popping.)

Just a reminder before I start Good News Friday that next week, as per my tradition, my three blog posts will be the Best of Good News Friday 2019, where I pick my favorite (and usually the ones you all have liked the most) GNF stories of the year. Hope you enjoy.

But for today, three new ones to hopefully make you smile. First, this is definitely the first kid crochet story I’ve ever had in this space.

At 5 years old Jonah Larson taught himself to crotchet by watching YouTube videos.

By 11, the Wisconsin kid became known as a “crocheting prodigy,” mastering patterns even experienced grandmothers struggle with.

He has his own crochet business, called Jonah’s Hands, based out of his home in La Crosse, Wisc.

Crocheting has also made him a social media star — but he doesn’t do it for the fame. Jonah has more than 46,000 followers on Instagram, where he sells his goods.

“After a very hard, busy, chaotic day in this busy world with school, it’s just nice to know that I can come home and crochet in my little corner of the house while sitting by the one I love most: my mom,” Jonah tells NPR. (My note: He’s 11, should his day really be that busy and cho

Jonah regularly donates some of his goods and money to the Ethiopian orphanage from which he was adopted as an infant.

“I hope people gain from seeing my work is it makes them happy too,” Jonah says. “When I see my crochet work when it’s done, it blows my mind to know that I, an 11-year-old with a tiny hook and a ball of yarn, made this amazing afghan, scarf, cowl, you name it.”

After an article was published about him in a local paper last month, his story went viral. Jonah now has over 2,500 orders and has temporarily stopped taking new requests.

His next goals: attending a crochet summer camp, attending the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and then becoming a surgeon.

What a kid! The coordination and imagination it takes to do what he’s doing, at his age, is quite something.

**Next up today, another story of a young person doing something wonderful. A 15-year-old boy named Logan Wells loves his grandmother, Nannie, very much, and four years ago when she was suffering from dementia, he noticed that it was difficult for all of Nannie’s caregivers to be on the same page when it came to medical treatment, what Nannie’s issues were that day, etc.

So Logan created an app called CareZare, which keeps all her caregivers on the same page.

“I learned the coding and my dad helped me create the prototype, and then we contacted a father-son duo to help us with the development,” he said.

Very cool idea, and four years later the app is now in the App Store and everywhere else, helping so many who have the unenviable task of caring for someone with dementia.

 

**Finally today, one last Christmas story before the season is over. A UPS driver in Warwick, N.Y. named Josh Satkin went above and beyond the call of duty in trying to make sure one child got surprised by their gift this Christmas.

Watch the video above as Satkin, seeing that the present was visible through the packaging, tries his best to hide it from prying eyes. He leaned it up against the garage door and then moved two large trash bins in front of it before topping it off with cardboard to conceal the present.

The homeowners, Mike and Megan Delaney, posted the video on social media with a big thank you to the concerned driver. (Side note from me: This is like the fourth or fifth story I’ve read lately where a very good deed was captured on a Ring camera the homeowners had set up. I know they’re used for security purposes and to catch evildoers, but I think it’s awesome that they’re also a way for people to catch others doing nice things.)

When the Delaneys next saw Satkin and thanked him, he told them he didn’t even realize he was being recorded. He just wanted to make sure he didn’t spoil the Christmas surprise.

“It makes it even so much cooler that no one’s watching and he’s doing an act of kindness just because,” Megan said. “It’s amazing that he did that for us.”

Good job, Mr. Satkin.

 

Merry Christmas! Celebrate, as we Jews go to Chinese restaurants. Boyz II Menorah with James Corden is terrific. And “The 12 pains of Christmas” song always entertains

Merry Christmas, to my Christian readers! I hope Santa brought you whatever you wanted, whether it’s some jewelry, a fancy new iPhone, or, you know, two articles of impeachment (your gifts may vary).

I hope the rest of you are enjoying Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or just some much-needed time off from the job today, while as our forebears did, we eat, drink and watch 10 hours of NBA basketball on TV.

A reminder that next week, as per Wide World of Stuff tradition, my three end of the year/start of new year blog posts will be a Best of Good News Friday, with each post comprising some of my favorite GNF stories/videos of the year.

Just a quick blog today with three personal favorite videos, two oldies but goodies, and one new one.

First, Zach Braff (he’s the dude from “Scrubs”), James Corden and a bunch of other dudes did a hilarious sketch about Hanukkah last week on his show, in the spirit of Boyz II Men, called Boyz 2 Menorah, with a song called “A week and a Day.”

Corden is pretty phenomenal, and Braff’s facial expressions and fake intensity kill me.

*Next up today, my Christmas/Hanukkah tradition of running one of the funniest “Saturday Night Live” skits ever, about how on Christmas all of us Jews do what we’ve always done: Go out for Chinese food.

“Christmastime for the Jews,” with the amazing Ronnie Spector vocals. And as always, the “Fiddler on the Roof” line kills me.

**And finally, my favorite Christmas song ever isn’t “I’ll be Home for Christmas,” or “Jingle Bells” or any of the other classic chestnuts.

It’s this, that I listen to several times a year, the “12 Pains of Christmas” from the Bob Rivers group.

The guy rigging up the lights never, ever fails to make me laugh. And the charities guy makes me smile, too.

“Now why the hell are they blinking???”

So good.

After 35 years, Eddie Murphy returns to “SNL,” and it was sensational. Just in time for Christmas, a new videogame lets you play as Jesus Christ. And in the NFL, the Eagles smack the Cowboys, the Jets show some pluck, and the Browns gonna Brown.

With the possible exception of Billy Crystal, no comedian dominated my thoughts and words in childhood like Eddie Murphy.

My friends and I ate up everything he did. From his time on “Saturday Night Live,” to his unbelievably hilarious stand-up comedy albums like “Eddie Murphy: Comedian” and “Delirious” and “Raw.” We loved his movies, like “Trading Places,” and of course, the amazing “Coming to America,” which makes me laugh out loud, to this day, even though I’ve seen it at least 50 times.

We had his best bits, like the Cookout, and the Ice Cream Man, memorized and would crack each other up with them constantly.

Eddie was everything to comedy in the 1980s: Fearless, incredibly crude, but so damn smart, and sharp. Even to white, Jewish kids like us growing up on Long Island, he was a God.

And then of course he got older, did some terrible movies, some decent ones, and we found new comedians to love. But Eddie was always there, in the back of our minds, and always making us smile when we thought about how many great times he gave us in our childhood.

Well I can’t tell you how excited I was for last Saturday night, when after a 35-year absence, maybe the funniest stand-up ever returned to the show that launched his career.

Just last week, in anticipation of his return, I watched Eddie’s episode of “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” with Jerry Seinfeld, to see if Eddie still had it. And of course he did, even at age 58.

Saturday night, my hopes were extremely high. And they were exceeded. Eddie absolutely KILLED. His opening monologue, with walk-ons by Dave Chapelle, Chris Rock and Tracy Morgan, was good. But then he dipped back into the past and brought back some of his famous characters, all of whom I figured would be way, way too risque to bring back in 2019.

But damn if we didn’t see Mister Robinson’s Neighborhood (below), and Gumby, and Buckwheat, and even Velvet Jones. It was phenomenal, just phenomenal, and you could tell even the regular “SNL” cast was excited to have him.

Most of the time, reunions like this don’t live up to the hype. Stars are never able to recapture their old magic, and audiences move on, and humor evolves, yada yada yada.

But for 90 minutes Saturday night, Eddie Murphy was as funny as ever. And for myself, and millions of other Gen X’ers, the world was a slightly better place.

Gumby, man. Still freaking great.

**Next up today, Christmas is in two days, of course (and Happy Hanukkah, my fellow Members of the Tribe! Spin that dreidel like there’s no tomorrow!), so what better time to bring you this story. It’s one of the stranger things I’ve heard in a while, but a new video game lets you play as Jesus Christ.

A video game studio called SimulaM has crafted a gaming experience designed to facilitate meaningful conversations between people who believe that they are Jesus Christ and people who do not believe that they are Jesus Christ. The game is called I Am Jesus Christ and here is its trailer:

According to this article in Slate, the new game “takes full advantage of next-gen technology to put gamers right in the center of all the heart-pounding itinerant preaching action: healing the sick, calming the seas, cursing a fig tree, suffering under Pontius Pilate, drinking vinegar mixed with gall, gluing Polaroids of the people you meet into a Bible, and, in what promises to be the most epic boss battle in video game history, winning the victory over death by spending six excruciating hours slowly dying on a cross at Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, the place of the skull. Plus you get to wash the apostles’ feet!

I mean… I don’t even know what to say about this game. I’m sure many will find it offensive, others will totally buy it and play it for hours.

Maybe I should just say… Praise be.

**Finally today, we’re down to the final two weeks of the NFL season, and my Jets have an actual two-game winning streak again, whoo-hoo! I’m telling you, they’re going to win next week, finish 7-9, and some fans are going to delude themselves into thinking our team isn’t that far away from contending.

But trust me, I’ve been watching this franchise for 40 years, and we are far, far away from contending. This last several games where they’ve played better is a total mirage.

Thank you, I feel better now. In other NFL news…

— Boy did America’s team lay a stinker against the Eagles Sunday. In a game with first place in the NFC East on the line, Jerry Jones’ guys scored only nine points and lost to Philly, 17-9. Now all the Eagles have to do is beat the Giants, which won’t be as easy as it sounds, and they go to the playoffs. If Dallas doesn’t fire Jason Garrett after this season, he’s the coach for life, because nothing would ever be enough to get rid of him.

— A couple of wild finishes involving teams that are playing out the string. The Giants blew a 14-point lead and had to go to overtime to beat the Redskins, and the Dolphins gave up SIXTEEN points in the final minute to the Bengals before finally winning in OT.

— The Oakland Raiders are 7-8, they got blown out by the Jets a few weeks back, and could still actually make the playoffs if a few things break their way next week. Nuts.

–Finally, ah the Cleveland Browns. Remember a few months ago when people were insanely predicting they’d have a normal, really good season? They lost again Sunday, nutjob receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and head coach Freddie Kitchens got into a sideline argument during the game, and well, good to know nothing ever changes in Browns-land.

They are the New York Knicks of football, but definitely more entertaining.

Good News Friday: A Heisman winner’s speech does a ton of good for an Ohio food pantry. Steve Hartman’s annual Secret Santa money giveaway is superb. And a little girl in San Diego sells cookies to erase students’ lunch debt

And a Happy last Friday before Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa, y’all! I hope your holiday shopping is all done, mine is, um, well, a work in progress. But hey, it’s at least been started, and that’s something.

Not going to talk here about last night’s Democratic debate except to say, wow, it’s amazing how much better debates are when only seven people are on stage, I’m sad my man Cory Booker wasn’t up there, and I heart Elizabeth Warren. Oh, and Biden did much better but I still really don’t want him as nominee.

OK, we start Good News Friday with a really nice story about how one little sports award can make a big difference.

Last weekend was the annual Heisman Trophy ceremony, honoring the best player in college football this season. It was won by Joe Burrow, who came out of nowhere to lead LSU to the college football playoffs, having an outstanding season.

I know very little about Burrow because I follow college football very little, but he said something poignant and humble in his victory speech, and it had a big impact in ways he couldn’t have imagined. Burrow is from Athens, Ohio, and he talked about the difficulties of growing up there. Just listen to this 30-second clip of the speech:

Well, that emotional comment on such a big national stage as the Heisman Trophy had a major impact on hungry kids in Athens, Ohio.

As of this writing, because of Burrow’s speech, more than $250,000 had been donated to Athens County Food Bank.

And just what can nearly $250,000 in donations provide? According to the Food Bank’s President, Karin Bright, at less than 50 cents per meal, Burrow’s speech has essentially provided over 126,000 meals in just a matter of days.

Thank you is not enough to adequately cover it,” Bright said. “I have no words beyond that. Thank you is what we’ve got, but it comes from the bottom of our hearts.

“We are so amazed and so grateful,” Bright said. “Whoever made this possible. We’re just completely filled with gratitude and amazement.”

There is much to be said, and much I agree with, about sports having way too prominent a place in our society, and athletes being exalted way too much.

But you know what? A kid from a poor town won a major award, used his platform to talk about the poverty he saw growing up, and now good people have donated a quarter of million dollars to help.

That’s a powerful, powerful thing.

**Next up today, this is always one of my favorite videos every year. The guy in media who’s job I’d most want, the amazing Steve Hartman of CBS News, travelled around once again with Secret Santa, a very wealthy anonymous businessman who every holiday season gives out $100 bills to strangers.

This year Secret Santa went to Milwaukee and enlisted some bus drivers to help him hand out dough, and the results are predictably wonderful.

Just the looks on their faces… so great.

**And finally today, clearly the kindergartner who sleeps in a room a few feet away from me and cried when he didn’t get the bath towel he wanted the other night isn’t quite up to par compared to this girl.

But I love him anyway. And I love 5-year-old Katelynn Hardee of San Diego, who came up with a genius idea to help kids in her school pay off their lunch debt.

From a story on Fox 5 San Diego:

Inspired by the lemonade stands she does during the summer, Katelynn asked her mom if she could organize a hot cocoa and cookie stand. She baked the cookies and made the hot cocoa herself, then spent three hours over the weekend selling her homemade goods.

On Monday, her mom sprang into action to see how they could donate the money to the school.

“I just left a note saying my daughter held a hot cocoa fundraiser over the weekend and would love to donate the money to any of the negative accounts,” Hardee said.

The money Katelynn raised ended up paying off the lunch balances for 123 students.

How awesome. What a wonderful kid, clearly being raised right by her parents.
Katelynn is going to grow up and save us all.

The Andy Murray doc is fantastic. An SNL skit about getting kids to wear nice clothes at holiday time. And if you enjoy a long potty break at work, your fun is ending!

The professional tennis season is long. Way, way too long. At 10 months and change, it’s longer than any professional sports season.

What that kind of grind does to a body can be seen in lots of ways: The injury rate in the sport I love most is almost 100 percent; maybe one out of 100 players doesn’t get hurt at least every two years, in some way, shape or form.

The season is unforgiving, and unless you’re an elite Top 10 player, you have to keep playing almost every week, to earn money to keep going. So many forehands and backhands, so much running, and so many ruptures, sprains, and breaks to body parts.

How a non-contact sport like tennis wears a body down is on graphic display in the remarkable new documentary out on Amazon Prime about Andy Murray.

Murray, for those of you non-tennis inclined, is one of the greatest players of his generation, a former world No.1, winner of three Grand Slam titles, and the man who broke the long, long British Wimbledon title drought (He’s from Scotland, so the old joke has been that when he wins, the London tabloids say he’s British, when he loses, he’s Scottish.)

But two years ago he suffered a significant hip injury, and his recovery went very, very slowly, to the point where a year ago at this time he was on the verge of retirement.

Then, when he basically had announced he was quitting, he had a risky (for a pro athlete) resurfacing surgery on his hip, and the results were miraculous. In 2019 he came back on the tour and was playing pain free, and while he’s far from his best, he’s got a chance to resume his career and compete with the Nadals and Djokovics again.

I’m telling you all this because during Murray’s painful, horrible, no good, very bad 2018 and early 2019, a camera crew followed him as closely as any athlete has ever been followed on film, and the result is a fantastic, absorbing look into a pro athlete’s mindset.

As much respect as I had for Murray before, it’s now gone up ten-fold. We see his team of trainers, sports psychologists and surgeons working with him every step of the way, and we see Murray’s anguish at his slow recovery and pain.

We see his quick wit to break up the boredom of training, and we see his wife Kim and others constantly threading the needle between wanting him to come back and play as great as he used to, and wanting to let him know it’s OK to quit, because this recovery is just too hard.

We also get, in graphic detail, inside Murray’s resurfacing surgery, and let me tell you for someone squeamish like me I had to cover my eyes A LOT during that scene (I mean, trust me, you see EVERYTHING you’d ever want to see of hip surgery.)

I’m trying to think of the last sports-related piece of media that showed someone this openly, warts and all, and my answer seems to be another tennis player’s memoir, Andre Agassi’s book “Open.” Like “Andy Murray, Resurfacing” “Open” gives us a full picture of a tennis superstar’s life, warts and all.

Andy Murray is playing and walking pain-free, and that’s a remarkable feat when you watch all that went into his recovery. This documentary isn’t just for tennis fans, it’s for anyone looking to see how a superior athlete can be laid low, then make a stunning, uplifting recovery.

Andy Murray: Resurfacing” is streaming on Amazon Video now. Highly, highly recommend it.

**Next up today, this “Saturday Night Live” skit from last week was pretty great. A parody of a Macy’s commercial selling kids clothes that aren’t exactly comfortable. As the parent of two small humans who sometimes are impossible to get dressed, let’s say this hit very close to home.

 

**Finally today, it’s always nice when corporations get an aid from science to make life at the office just a little bit more miserable, isn’t it?

I bring you this story from the Daily Mail in London about a breakthrough in toilet design, to aid worker productivity.

“The ‘StandardToilet’, created by a start-up company of the same name, has been backed by the British Toilet Association (BTA), a group that campaigns for better bathroom facilities in offices and public spaces. (My edit: Is there REALLY a British Toilet Association? That sounds like something made up out of a Monty Python sketch.)

“The seat is sloped forward by about 13 degrees to increase strain on the legs similar to a gentle squat thrust, according to developer Mahabir Gill from StandardToilet.

They hope to also target offices as they believe cutting down on the length of employee bathroom breaks would dramatically improve productivity.

‘It is estimated that in the United Kingdom alone, extended employee breaks costs industry and commerce an £4 billion per annum’, Mr. Gill said.”

OK. As always, I have many, many questions. First, of course, is this really freaking necessary? Is Bob from accounting really spending 30 minutes in the john instead of doing his work? And if he is, he’s probably doing drugs in the bathroom, not squatting.

Second, if this puts strain on the legs, does sitting on one of these count as a workout, so I can skip the gym that day? People calling their trainer like “No Joanne, I’m not coming in to train today, I had a bacon cheeseburger for lunch and was on the StandardToilet for an hour!”

And third, more seriously, what about people like me who suffer from Crohn’s Disease or have Irritable Bowel Syndrome? It’s not bad enough we can’t eat pizza or ice cream, now our potty time must be torturous?

My goodness. I hope this never makes it to America but, like almost everything British, I’m sure it will.

 

The new Mr. Rogers movie was fabulous, and a lot deeper than I thought. Seven years after the tragedy, a thrilling moment for Newtown, Conn. And in the NFL, the 49ers inexplicably lose, while Eli gets a sweet sendoff

I went into the movie theater Saturday night to see a movie I’ve been excited about for months, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” with certain expectations.
I felt reasonably certain I’d like it, since it was about Mister Rogers and starred Tom Hanks. I thought it’d be mostly lighthearted, it would be acted well, and I thought it would be focused on Hanks as Rogers, a perfect match of actor and subject.

Well, I was wrong about almost all of my preconceptions. This was a fabulous film, but it was NOT all about Fred Rogers, and his story.

It was really about the people in Rogers’ orbit, and how his personal touch, warmth and overall humanity impacted so many.

The movie is based on real-life events, with Rogers and writer Tom Junod the real-life duo here.

Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys) is a cynical, world-weary journalist assigned to do what he thinks is a simple, almost beneath-him assignment: Write 400 words about Mister Rogers for an Esquire issue about heroes.

For a man who does long, thorough, critical investigative pieces, talking to a dude who performs with puppets, for children, would be a walk in the park.

But Vogel is a troubled guy, with a long-standing, cold relationship with his dad, Jerry (played wonderfully by Chris Cooper, who I’ve loved since “American Beauty.”) Vogel has also just become a father himself for the first time, and his patient wife (the very beautiful and very talented Susan Kelechi Watson from “This is Us”) is excited he’ll get to talk to Mister Rogers and perhaps have a reconciliation with his own dad.

And so the movie is really about Lloyd’s journey, more so than about Fred Rogers. And with lesser actors, it might have felt like a cheat, not getting to see the film through Rogers’ eyes. But Rhys is fantastic as always, giving Lloyd depth, and the movie itself goes a lot deeper than I thought it would, into human relationships, forgiveness, and how no man, even Mister Rogers, is a saint.

“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” is warm, sometimes witty, and yeah, a little bit slow at times. But Hanks is terrific, giving Rogers shape and showing him to be a TV perfectionist, as well as someone who always seems to know the right thing to say.

It’s a very, very good movie, that like I said goes a lot deeper into emotions and human behavior than I expected.

Fred Rogers may not have been an actual saint, but he did change and help millions of lives. And that should be celebrated, always.

**Next up, this was by far the best thing that happened in sports this weekend. Saturday was the seventh anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, in Newtown, Conn.
This year the anniversary was also the date of the Connecticut state football Class LL championship game, between Newtown and Darien.

The score was tied at 7, there were a few seconds left, and Newtown QB Jack Street launched a pass downfield that wide receiver Riley Ward hauled in for a game-winning touchdown.

It was perfect, and it gave me chills. Many of these kids

 

**And finally today, a look at the NFL as we come down the home stretch of games, and after today I’m sad to report that most playoff spots are pretty well locked up, and there won’t be much drama the final two weeks.

But of course, I’m likely to be wrong, as most people usually are about the NFL.

— Most shocking thing that happened Sunday? No, not the Raiders collapsing, that happens all the time.
It’s the team across the Bay, the San Francisco 49ers, who have looked like the best team in the NFL most of the year, completely laying an egg and getting stunned by the woeful Atlanta Falcons, 29-22, after the Falcons scored a go-ahead touchdown with just two seconds remaining.

Again, do not bet on the NFL, people.

— In what likely was his final home game as a New York Giants starter, Eli Manning led his team to a victory over the putrid Miami Dolphins, and it actually was a sweet moment.

Eli hasn’t played most of the year, and quite honestly he’s stunk for most of the past five seasons when he was playing. But he is and always will be a Giants icon because of two incredible playoff runs that resulted in Super Bowl wins.

There is talk in New York that Manning is a Hall of Famer, and frankly I think that’s nuts. He was never an elite QB, I’m sorry but he wasn’t.
Still, it was nice that he got to go out on a high note, because he did give Giants fans two amazing memories (not that this Jets fan is bitter, nope, not at all, not one bit.)

— The Broncos and Chiefs got to play a snow game Sunday. Man, football in the snow is so much fun.

— Deshaun Watson, I’ve said it before, is so much fun to watch. He led the Texans over the Titans Sunday and I watched a good chunk of this game, and at least four times Watson scrambled out of danger to make plays that he had no business making. I just love this guy.

— The Eagles and Cowboys, the two least bad teams in the NFC East, both won Sunday to get their seventh victory of the year, and they play each other next week so someone will have to win. This assures us that a 7-9 team won’t get to host a playoff game. Now, only an 8-8 team will host possibly a 12 or 13 win team. One of the most asinine rules in the NFL, that a division winner must host, no matter how much worse its record is.

— The Browns. Oh, the Browns. With their playoff hopes still kinda alive, they went and got blown out

Good News Friday: Boy invites his entire kindergarten class to his adoption ceremony. A Chicago Bears star pays off $80,000 of Walmart debt for strangers. And “New friends, No Phones Friday” a hit at a school

Happy Friday to all of you out there, and I hope wherever you are reading this you’re warm and cozy and drinking some hot chocolate or hot tea, because damn it’s freezing ’round these parts.

We are 10 days from Hanukkah, 12 days from Christmas, and the holiday cheer is all around us. Hell, my town turns off all parking meters the last three weeks of the year, and that’s all kinds of awesome.

We start Good News Friday with a sweet story of a kindergarten student in Kent County, Mich., named Michael Clark Jr.

Michael was about to be legally adopted by his parents, Andrea Melvin and David Eaton last week, and he wanted all his friends to be there to witness it.

So he invited the whole kindergarten class down to the courthouse to watch. And so they all came. A class field trip, if you will.

So with a few 5-year-olds speaking up for Michael, and Chase from “Paw Patrol” looking on as well (no adoption too small!), Michael’s wonderful family became legally his.

The kids with the paper hearts… I mean, is there a limit to how adorable something can be?

**Next up today, I’m a tiny bit conflicted about this next story because I hate Wal-Mart so much, but this is a wonderful gesture by a football star that it’s too good to ignore.

Khalil Mack is a destroyer of quarterbacks for the Chicago Bears, but he also is a generous man eager to share his wealth.

Recently he did a wonderful thing for customers of a Fort Pierce, Fla. Wal-Mart store (Fort Pierce is Mack’s hometown).

Through his charitable foundation, Mack paid off the layaway item costs for everyone who had merchandise at the store, a grand total of around $80,000.

Excellent job, Khalil. Now go eat some more quarterbacks.

**Finally today, a terrific idea from a principal in Iowa. From Upworthy.com.

“When Iowa Valley Junior-Senior High School principal Janet Behrens observed her students in the cafeteria, she was dismayed to see that they spent more time looking down at their phones than they did looking at and interacting with each other. So last year, she implemented a new policy that’s having a big impact.

According to KCRG News, “No Phones, New Friends Friday” requires students to put away their devices one day a week and sit with people they don’t normally hang out with. When students enter the lunch room on Fridays, they get a colored card that assigns them to a specific table. Each table also has conversation starters to help kids break the ice and interact.”

Such a little thing. Such a big thing. Getting teenagers out of their habits and routines, and making them more aware of the world around them, and how the kid sitting two tables over might be a nice person worth getting to know, is huge. It helps combat loneliness and isolation for some kids, no doubt.

“Everybody enjoys it,” junior Page Weick told KCRG.”I think people have a lot more respect for others.”

Freshman Sahara Kanke said at first she didn’t want to do it at all, but has since come around to loving the Friday lunches. “I think it’s fun, I like doing it,” she said. “People are more nice to each other now because they got to know each other at lunch.”

Outstanding. I hope this idea catches on nationwide.

Marvin Miller, a titanic figure in baseball history, FINALLY voted into Hall of Fame. A father takes over his teen daughter’s social media accounts for two weeks, and it’s glorious. And an extraordinary investigation into the power of jailhouse snitches

There are sports injustices everywhere, and have been throughout history.

Some are huge, international sports injustices, like the way the 1972 U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team was robbed of a gold medal, after a controversial finish against the U.S.S.R.

Some are smaller injustices, like Dan Marino, one of the greatest QBs of all time, never winning a Super Bowl.

I’m not 100 percent sure where this one I’m about to talk about ranks in the pantheon, but it’s pretty damn high up there.

There have been no more than eight or nine people in the history of baseball more important than Marvin Miller. Off the top of my head, Jackie Robinson, Babe Ruth, Branch Rickey, Hank Aaron, Curt Flood, but not too many others.

Marvin Miller was a little-known economist and labor leader in the 1960s who eventually turned baseball and its business model on its head. Throughout intensive persuasion, negotiation and legal challenges, he broke MLB’s draconian rules restricting player movement and ushered in the beginning of free agency, which led to an explosion of salaries.

Literally every baseball player in the past 40 years who made millions playing baseball owes a debt to Marvin Miller. Players were treated like disposable parts, with no rights, and were told over and over again they were lucky just to be playing, and to be grateful they got played at all.

Miller changed all that.

And yet he was never elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame while he was alive. Decade after decade went by, and the committees that choose such things never saw fit to put him in Cooperstown.

Miller always said that if he wasn’t elected while he was still alive, he never wanted to be inducted. But finally, way, way too late, Miller is going in.

Sunday night it was announced he’d be elected by a special committee, and next summer a seminal figure in the game’s history will finally be rightfully honored.

It is a disgrace that it took this long. But at least future generations will be aware of the Babe Ruth-sized mark Miller left on the game.

 

**Next up today, this is one of those times when I wish, as much as I love my two sons, I wish I had a daughter as well. Because I would soooo love to one day do what this father did.

Madelynn Sumpter is a teenage girl who apparently tried to sneak boys into a sleepover party she was having, and she got caught. Her parents gave her a choice of punishments:  She could either give up her phone for an entire month, or let her parents use it to post to all of her social media accounts for two weeks.

As I think most 15-year-olds would, Maddi chose the latter, and the results are spectacular.

Her Dad Larry took over Maddi’s Instagram and TikTok accounts, and it’s fabulous. He posted funny cooking videos, dressed up (above) in weird outfits, and basically humiliated his daughter in the best ways possible.

When her punishment ended, Maddi’s first post was awesome. It’s a pic of her as a toddler with the caption: “I’m back sweeter than ever and ready to make good choices.”

Well done all around, Sumpter family.

**Finally today, wanted to highlight an extraordinary piece of journalism just published by the New York Times Magazine and ProPublica, by the woman who I think is the best investigative reporter in America, Pamela Colloff.

I’ve highlighted her work here in the past, but Colloff truly is incredible. She spends months and months digging into a criminal-justice topic (usually that of a person serving decades in prison for a crime they didn’t commit) and excavates so much truth, and generates so much outrage, that as a journalist I sort of stand in awe.

This new piece looks at the amazing weight the legal system gives to jailhouse snitches, and how so often their false, coerced information leads to death sentences for innocent men.

Colloff uses the story of Paul Skalnik, one of the most prolific snitches of all time, and how many people he helped convict on non-existent evidence.

It’s a long, long read, but gripping and well worth it. This is why I donate to ProPublica as much as I can, because they do such important work.

 

Seth Meyers’ new Netflix special is hilarious and filled with heart. A pretty astounding Hillary Clinton/Howard Stern interview moment. And in the NFL, the Saints-49ers game is terrific, and the Pats look mortal again (yay!)

Seth Meyers is a comedian I’ve always enjoyed in small doses.

I liked him occasionally on “Saturday Night Live,” but never thought he was terrific or a star. I’ve liked him a lot on his NBC late-night talk show, and think he’s a witty observer who does some great commentaries from time to time.

But I never really took him in at full measure until watching his new Netflix special, “Lobby Baby,” and wow is it all kinds of fantastic.

In a stand-up performance taped in Minneapolis, Meyers (who says he’s not Jewish but everyone thinks he is because of his name “and everything else about me,”) riffs on parenthood, Donald Trump (though only a little), and a host of other subjects. But his best material comes about how his kids were born, and what kind of parenting friends are best.

The title “Lobby Baby” refers to where the Meyers’ second child was born, the lobby of their apartment building.

The clip above is just one piece of the story, and the whole thing is so funny my wife and I had to stop it a few times because we were laughing so hard. His bit about the only kinds of parenting friends he and his wife will have is so good I can’t spoil it for you here.

Meyers is relaxed, calm and very, very strong here. Cannot recommend it enough, “Lobby Baby” is outstanding.

**Next up today, two names I never thought I’d put in the same sentence in a positive way, but here we are: Hillary Clinton was on with Howard Stern last week, and by all accounts she was amazing.

I’ve only watched about 15 minutes of the interview so far, but Hillary comes off as warm, insightful and honest, something I sure as shit wish she had been in 2016.
As I’ve said many times, I will never, ever forgive her for running such an awful 2016 campaign and losing an election I felt sure was un-lose-able against Trump.

But Stern is an outstanding interviewer, and I think this clip here, with Stern talking to Clinton about the night Osama bin Laden was killed, is remarkable.

Here’s the link to all five parts, it’s a very long interview, more than two hours, but so far it’s been very illuminating.

But dammit, Hillary, how could you stick us with Trump??? I’ll never get over it.

**Finally today, it was another wild and wacky day in the League of Football we call National. My New York Jets defeated the Miami Dolphins in a game so bad it was a shame someone had to win, but hey, someone had to win it so it might as well be my team!

Seriously, though, Sam Darnold made some really bad decisions, he’s almost played two full years now and he has so little talent around him… I can’t say for certain if he’s the franchise QB I so desperately want him to be. I honestly do not know. And after almost two seasons, shouldn’t you know? He looks great, and he looks terrible, and he looks great and terrible.

— The Saints and 49ers are two of the three best teams in the NFC, and Sunday they played an insanely-entertaining game with just about zero defense played.

Forty-eight to forty-six final score! That’s nuts. Jimmy Garoppolo and Drew Brees were spectacular, and so was the Niners’ George Kittle, who made a spectacular catch and run on 4th down in the final minute while a Saints defender tried to rip his facemask off his helmet (above). Seriously, it was the most blatant, and longest-held, facemask I’ve ever seen, and Kittle just kept rumbling.

Niners-Saints in the NFC Title game, please.

— The Texans smack the Patriots around last week. Then get stomped by a terrible Denver club Sunday. But go ahead, bet on NFL games.

— Speaking of Coach Hoodie and the boys from New England, it’s so rare I get to celebrate a Pats losing streak. But they lost to Kansas City Sunday (and got screwed by a few referees’ calls, too, but that happens to everyone) and now have lost TWO games in a row. Alert the hysterical fans in Boston, it’s time to fire everybody!

No but seriously, this New England offense is seriously limited. Going to be hard to beat Baltimore with this offense.

— Finally, I want to thank Derrick Henry and Ryan Tannehill for once again being so awesome for my fantasy football team. Titans are legit good, folks. They’re going to be a dangerous playoff opponent for somebody.