Monthly Archives: January 2020

Good News Friday: Children who have lost limbs shine in a fashion show. A man, a park bench, and an entire park sing an ’80s classic. And a 4-year-old performs her first song, about lovestruck dinosaurs

Happy Friday, y’all! The Super Bowl is finally almost here (am I the only one who thinks the Kobe tragedy has kind of overshadowed the usual suffocation of Super Bowl hype? I honestly don’t feel drowned by the SB public relations machine, and Sunday should be a terrific game) and it’s February which means I can see the end of winter in sight.

Lots of good news to share this week, but I want to start with this beautiful idea that my mother-in-law saw on the “Today” show.

A woman named Jill Smith, an occupational therapist, came up with an idea called Show Your Shine, a fashion show that took 25 kids who’ve lost a limb and had them sashay down the runway like Giselle or Naomi Campbell.

The adaptive runway show raised money for a non-profit called the Limb Kind Foundation, which helps children who’ve lost limbs all over the world.

Just look at the looks on these kids’ faces, as they get to feel so special for a different reason than they’re used to.

Really, really sweet.

**Next up today, my fantastic friend Danielle sent me this Thursday night and it was the perfect tonic to the disappointing news that the sham Senate trial was going to end Friday, as our grifter-in-chief escapes true banishment.

It’s a video of a man sitting on a park bench, alone, and he starts singing the Bon Jovi classic “Livin’ On a Prayer.” And within a minute, most of the people in the park join in.

I have no idea where this happened, but I don’t care. It’s Friday, it’s Bon Jovi, and it’s people singing happily. It makes me smile.

Now if I were there, I might’ve jumped on top of the bench and belted it out terribly, but I would’ve enjoyed it.

**And finally today, a 4-year-old girl wrote a song about dinosaurs in love. She wrote the words herself, her Dad helped with the tune, and well, it’s pretty darn cute.

Have a great weekend, everyone, and God save this republic of ours.

Thoughts on this circus of an impeachment trial, with pressure mounting but nothing likely to change. Shaq remembers his little brother Kobe, movingly. And New Yorkers come together to lift a car off a victim’s body

You may have noticed I have yet to weigh in much on the Impeachment trial of President Donald J. Trump, not because of a lack of interest but because I honestly haven’t seen all that much of it.

But I have read about it and watched about it and even though things seem to change by the day, I have some thoughts:

— First and foremost, I truly believe this whole Senate trial is, to steal from Shakespeare, full of sound and fury and truly, signifying nothing. I appreciate it’s incredibly important, and I have no doubt Trump is 100 percent guilty and should be removed from office, but it’s not going to happen. This is all a giant TV show, with stakes being raised all the time but the fact that everyone’s breathlessly waiting for a resolution on if witnesses will be allowed to be called, as if that’s the end-all be-all, when we KNOW even if witnesses are called there’s no way in hell 20 GOP Senators would vote to convict, is kind of silly.

I absolutely think John Bolton and many, many others should be heard, since more corroborating witnesses to the Ukraine aid/Biden investigation story should be heard.

But I truly believe nothing could be said that would make this Senate convict. Nothing. So, instead, we get a nice big TV show that all the cable networks love.

— Adam Schiff has done an outstanding job presenting the case against Trump, and this star turn will no doubt in my mind lead to a Senate seat for him once Dianne Feinstein (praise God) finally retires.

— The Trump defense, such as it is, is constantly contradicting itself, not least of which when it tries to argue that Lev Parnas is a nobody who knew nothing and no one of importance. I dunno, there seems to be A LOT of credence to everything ole’ Lev has alleged, and there sure seem to be lots of pictures of him with Trump, and Rudy G., and many others in the Trump orbit.

— Can I just say I think it’s insane that the arcane impeachment trial rules require the senators not to eat while the trial is in session, and they can only drink milk or water? Is this an august body of government, or prison?

— I don’t get all this hand-wringing by the political press about how Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Amy Klobuchar are hurt in their Presidential campaigns by being present for the trial. I mean, isn’t doing their current job, and doing it well, part of what people are looking for in a Presidential candidate? They’ve all been on the campaign trail plenty, and will be back there soon.

— Finally, I almost want this trial to keep going for a while to see just how much further unhinged Trump gets. I’m waiting for his Colonel Jessup from “A Few Good Men” “You’re damn right I ordered the Code Red” moment, when he just gets so fed up and admits he’s guilty of everything he’s been charged of.

You going to tell me that’s impossible, won’t happen? You underestimate the madness of our current leader.

**Next up today, there’s been a ton of great writing and video about the tragic death of Kobe Bryant in the last few days, but this on Tuesday night was the one I was waiting for.

Shaquille O’Neal, who formed an amazing partnership with Kobe on the Los Angeles Lakers, winning three championships while alternating feuding and loving each other, spoke on TNT’s “Inside the NBA” show Tuesday. For a little less than five minutes, Shaq spoke from the heart, emotionally, movingly, about his “little brother” and their fights, and how long it had been since they’d spoken.

Really beautiful stuff from a man with an enormous heart.

**And finally today, a kind of shocking and awesome video from a random New Yorker walking by and seeing New Yorkers do something heroic.

Apparently there was a car accident on Sunday on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and a pedestrian was trapped under a Mercedes SUV. Seeing this, a few dozen of my fellow NY’ers ran over and physically lifted the giant vehicle off the woman, and she was able to escape.

The pedestrian did not suffer any major injuries.

I also love, as many people pointed out, that after they lift the car, the volunteers just walk back to what they were doing, you know, no big deal, typical day in New York City.

I love living here.

 

The shocking death of Kobe Bryant, a brilliant basketball player but very flawed human. And the Grammy awards as always, delight and confuse me

The texts came in almost simultaneously around 2:40 p.m. Sunday afternoon, from my cousin Robby and my buddy Jeff.

One just said “Kobe Bryant,” and the other said “News is reporting Kobe just died in a helicopter crash.”

Shocked, stunned, in disbelief: I just kind of stared at the phone for a minute, one of those moments where you’re looking at words and you’re not really sure what you’re reading is real.

But of course it is. Forty-one year old Kobe Bean Bryant, one of the 10 greatest basketball players who ever laced up a pair of sneakers, died in a plane crash along with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others on Sunday outside Calabasas, Calif.

So many thoughts to process, and I will try to be coherent with this post but no guarantees. I’m also quite certain I’m going to anger some of you with some of what I’m going to write.

OK, first, it’s an absolute tragedy that 41-year-old man in the prime of his life was killed in an accident, and his beautiful 13-year-old daughter as well.

From all accounts, since his retirement in 2016 Kobe has been a terrific father to his children, and has done numerous philanthropic and educational projects, as well as writing children’s books that have sold very well.

And on the basketball court… he was unbelievable. From the time he came into the NBA straight out of high school, he was clearly an unmatched talent.

He could score against anybody, at any time, and was the most cold-blooded competitor of the post-Jordan era. The sheer range of his offensive abilities, from outside shooting, driving, dunking, to any other way you could score, was amazing.

He was such a willful assassin on the court, willing to cut your heart out and work harder, longer, than anybody else. The stories of his dedication to the sport are legion, and he should absolutely be admired for so much of what he did on the court, winning five championships (three with Shaquille O’Neal, two without him, which is even more impressive) for the Lakers.

He will go down as one of the all-time legends of the sport, and it is an unspeakable tragedy that he’s gone, so young, when he had so much more living to do, and perhaps so much more to give to the world.

Now… I do believe we’re all capable of holding two thoughts in our heads at the same time. And I also don’t believe that when a person dies suddenly, at such a young age, it doesn’t mean we have to forget and wash away everything negative about them and simply celebrate only the good.

So there are some other aspects of Kobe Bryant that can, and should, be a part of his obituary, and his legacy.

In July, 2003, Kobe Bryant allegedly raped a 19-year-old hotel employee in Eagle, Colo. The sheriff’s department arrested him, had lots of evidence to bring him to trial, and after a torrent of negative publicity and harassment of his victim, she decided not to continue with the criminal charges, and settled out of court in a civil case for an undisclosed amount from Bryant.

From everything I have read about the case, it is overwhelmingly clear that Kobe did commit rape. And the fact that he got away with it, and ruined a young woman’s life while getting to continue his career, should never, ever be forgotten. He never admitted guilt, and got to continue his life as a worldwide celebrity who is adored by millions.

There are also legions of stories about Kobe being a complete jerk to his teammates, including Shaq, and refusing to compromise or put aside his ego for anything or anybody, and that, ultimately, is what led to the breakup of the Lakers.

I write these last few paragraphs not to tear down someone who just died, but simply to remind that we are all human, who make mistakes galore (I know I have made more than my share) and that all of it, the good and the bad, should be remembered when thinking about the life of Kobe Bean Bryant.

He was an icon, and a very flawed human being. We needn’t forget any of his life. He’ll be remembered forever as an incredible talent who we sports fans were fortunate to get to witness.

Rest in peace, Kobe and Gianna. You both had so much more living to do.

**And finally today, my annual “Get off my Lawn” thoughts on the Grammy Awards, where I try to make sense of current music while celebrating artists from the past who I’m lucky enough to see and recognize on this year’s Grammys.

Of course, this year they were airing live from the Staples Center, the arena Kobe Bryant called his home for most of his basketball career, so from Lizzo’s opening words “This is for Kobe” the Grammys had a definite Kobe vibe to them.

— Lizzo is probably very talented and seems to be loved by millions. But I just don’t get her, or her music. But she does seem to be a hell of a performer.

— Any chance I get to see or hear Boyz II Men again, I’m happy. Their song tribute to Kobe, “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” with Alicia Keys that helped open the show was fabulous.

— Shania Twain looked like a glittery disco ball and I love her so I’m not going to criticize but damn, that was not a good look.

— Alicia Keys is straight-up awesome. She’s smart, she’s funny, she’s got an amazing voice, and I want her to host more stuff. She was terrific Sunday night.

— From Ariana Grande’s performance and many others, it seems clothes were mostly optional for Grammy performers.

— Absolutely loved the Aerosmith/Run DMC reunion collaboration on “Walk This Way.” That will always be an amazing song, and I say this not just because when I was 12 I “performed” a version of this with my friend Erik during our summer camp talent show. We nailed it.

— The Lil’ Nas X performance of “Old Town Road” was bizarre but entertaining. I think that song has now been played four million times on the radio.

 

An amazing Holocaust reunion love story, starring two prisoners reunited after 72 years. An NFL player washes the feet of an entire school, literally. And kids with Down’s Syndrome pose as Disney characters

Happy Friday, all! It’s the mid-January doldrums that I always feel this time of year, when we’ve already had lots of winter, we’ve got lots more winter ahead, and I’m just ready for some warm temperatures, damnit.

But no one wants to hear me complain, life is still great, and sure, we’ve got an impeachment trial going on in the Senate right now that is only being taken seriously by one of the two parties, but hey, there’s lots of good news out there to celebrate.

So let’s get busy talking about goodness, shall we?

OK, first up, I absolutely loved this piece from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Ben Fredrickson, an e-migo of mine (“e-migo” is the wonderful term coined by Joe Posnanski for someone you’ve never met in real life but you talk to online and in emails) on Pierre Desir.

Desir is an NFL defensive back for the Indianapolis Colts, but once upon a time he came to America with his Haitian refugee parents, and settled in St. Louis.

He remembers fondly getting his first pair of new shoes, and how that made him feel.  So in addition to many other charitable acts he’s done in the St. Louis area, Desir came back to St. Louis last week to introduce Samaritan’s Feet,  a program he’s become an ambassador for after discovering it with the Colts.

The nonprofit started by Nigerian immigrant Manny Ohonme has, since its founding in 2003, given away more than 7 million pairs of shoes in 108 countries. Add 576 Northview Elementary School students to the list, thanks to funding from Desir.

But here’s the super-cool part: Desir showed up at the school and washed the feet of many of the kids who were getting new shoes.

“Our district is considered 100 percent free and reduced lunch,” said Patricia Guyton, the school’s principal. “To give them shoes? My goodness. We have some students come to school with shoes that are too big or too small. This will be something they always remember.”

A wonderful gesture, and a great display of humanity. None of us are too good to wash another person’s feet.

**Next up today, I thought this was a fabulous little story.

A British photographer named Nicole Louise Perkins wanted to help raise awareness of kids with Down’s Syndrome, with a photography campaign called “Down with Disney.”

She took pictures of children with Down’s dressed up as their favorite Disney characters, and it’s just adorable.

I chose this kid (above) because of the wonderful expression on his face, but really, all of these pics are beautiful.

“Everyone is beautiful no matter whom they were born as,” is Perkins’ slogan, and I can’t disagree with that at all.

**Finally today, a most unusual Holocaust love story, that took 72 years to reach its conclusion.

At Auschwitz in 1943, a prisoner named David Wisnia met a fellow inmate named Helen Spitzer, nicknamed Zippi, and liked her immediately.

They began seeing each other secretly, became lovers, and well, I really don’t want to spoil the story about their romance, the dangers, and what she did for him.

Just read this incredible story from Keren Blankfield of the New York Times; it had been sitting open on my computer for weeks before I finally got around to reading it, and I’m so glad I did.

Love may not conquer all, but damn it’s pretty freaking powerful.

“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” Season 3 was mostly excellent, and the funniest season yet. And the N.Y. Times with a total copout in Dem Presidential endorsement choice

It’s pretty rare for a TV show to have its funniest season in Year 3.

Usually the best and most amusing shows are great right out of the gate, like “Cheers” or “All in the Family” or “The Simpsons.” (“Seinfeld” is a giant exception here, as it didn’t really hit its stride until Season 3 or 4.)

But my wife and I just finished binge-watching Season 3 of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” and this is going to sound weird, but it might not have been the best season of the show, it was definitely the funniest.

That’s because the two leads of the show, comedian Midge Maisel and her acid-tongued manager, Susie, are absolutely fantastic and have amazing chemistry. Rachel Brosnahan (Midge) and Alex Borstein (Susie) are absolutely perfect together, in a way that very few sitcom duos are.

Their rhythms, their physical comedy, their mannerisms, it all just works perfectly in concert with each other, and in Season 3, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” puts them together in many, many situations.

I will try to be as spoiler-free as I can because i know some people haven’t watched yet, but it has been out for more than a month now so I feel like I have some leeway.

Anyway, Season 3 is terrific mostly, and uneven in spots, and altogether confusing in others, just like the first two years. “Mrs. Maisel” isn’t a perfect show, but it’s gorgeously filmed, written with the kind of crackling dialogue we’ve come to expect, and acted wonderfully, not just by the two leads but by everyone involved.

This season mostly takes place on the road, as Midge is opening up for a Harry Belafonte-like singer named Shy Baldwin. We see so many Susie-Midge hijinks, like Midge teaching Susie how to swim, and learning how to do a “weird ask” for a touring contract, and too many great comedic moments to mention.

Midge is adjusting to her new life as a quasi-star, as Susie clashes with Shy’s manager (the always-awesome Sterling K. Brown, from “This is Us”) and has troubles with her other client, Jane Lynch’s Sophie Lennon.

There are heartbreaking moments this season, and hilarious ones (Midge’s father Abe’s interactions with his new beatnik friends is a delight) and a slightly surprising ending.

There were some downsides, although honestly this was the least offensive Joel season. The tour takes way too long to get going, as we go two full episodes before finally having Midge and Shy start the tour.

And there are so many new characters that it’s hard to keep track of them all,  although we so enjoyed Liza Weil (Paris Geller from “Gilmore Girls!”).

Still, it is still a show I enjoy very much, and if the whole show was just Susie and Midge getting into adventures, I’d sign on in a minute.

Couple other “Maisel” thoughts…

— I noticed this at the time but couldn’t put my finger on it until a few days after we were done watching, but if you’re a “Gilmore Girls” fan you’ll know what I’m talking about. Lorelai Gilmore and Max Medina’s relationship/breakup is exactly the same as Midge and Benjamin. Exactly. The. Same. It’s like Amy Sherman-Palladino thought it worked so well the first time, let’s do it again. Here’s the thing: Lorelai’s breakup with Max made no sense and was explained badly, and the same thing happened with Midge and Benjamin. Much like with Joel on “Maisel,” she just has a blind spot for certain aspects of a show.

— There’s a 15-minute montage late in the season that is just spectacular. I don’t know how many takes it took, but it was fantastic.

— Finally, the biggest problem with the Aaron Sorkin show “Studio 60” was that the sketch comedy stuff inside the show wasn’t funny. Here, the jokes Maisel tells on stage ARE funny, so it’s much easier to believe she could be a star.

**Next up today, “Curb Your Enthusiasm” came back Sunday night for the first episode of a new season, and my expectations were low. Last season was so bad, really the worst in the show’s history by far, so I was convinced Larry David had run out of funny ideas.

But damn if Sunday’s episode wasn’t terrific, and now I’m hoping for more. Anyway, one of the brilliant running themes of the show is Larry says things in social situations no one else does, because they’re too afraid or too polite. So Seth Meyers thought it would be funny to put David into different social situations on his show and see him do what no one else would.

This was pretty funny, especially the last one.

Eight 2020 Democratic presidential candidates are seen in a combination from file photos (L-R top row): U.S. Senators Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, and Bernie Sanders. (L-R bottom row): Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke, U.S. Senator Cory Booker, and former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. REUTERS/Files – RC1E7656A8D0

**And finally today, I defend the New York Times a lot because it’s the best newspaper in America, but I really have to take it task today for the idiotic double-endorsement for the Democratic nomination for President it announced Sunday night.

The Times did this huge buildup and fanfare through its TV show “The Weekly,” showing us all the candidate interviews they did, and taking us inside the editorial board’s process of how to decide who to endorse (let me pause for a minute here and say I think it’s wildly premature for the newspaper of record to endorse a candidate this early in the process, but hey, it’s their right).

So they go through this whole rigamarole, and they decide… to endorse TWO candidates. Yep, they were split between Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar, couldn’t choose between them, and because these are “unconventional” times, they chose two people.

“Both the radical and the realist models warrant serious consideration,” the Times wrote, with Warren of course the radical. “If there were ever a time to be open to new ideas, it is now. If there were ever a time to seek stability, now is it.”

You know what I say to that? Bullcrap. There’s one person that’s going to get the nomination, not two. The idea that you’re proposing that two people are equally the right choice is wishy-washy journalism at best, an equivocation on one of the most important decisions of our lives, politically.

Now, does the NYT endorsement matter that much anymore? Probably not. But choosing two people seems to be a giant cop-out to me.

The Super Bowl is set, and it should be awesome: 49ers-Chiefs has it all. Remembering MLK’s amazing speech, on his day. And the robot that brings you toilet paper

I love fresh matchups in sports championship games. Give me some variety, something we haven’t seen before, with maybe some new stars and new personalities and a franchise that hasn’t won a Super Bowl since before Watergate and another franchise that was once great but has been bad for a while.

In other words, give me the San Francisco 49ers vs. the Kansas City Chiefs.
Oh wait? That’s what we’ve got this year? Outstanding.

After one thrilling and one not-so-thrilling conference championship games Sunday, the Niners and Chiefs have advanced to the Super Bowl, and I for one think it’ll be a doozy.

Two fantastic quarterbacks, men who could be the next Brady-Manning for the next 15 years, in Patrick Mahomes of the Chiefs and Jimmy Garappolo of the 49ers. One great defense (San Francisco) going against one great offense (K.C.).

A grizzled coach trying to finally win the big one that’s eluded him (K.C.’s Andy Reid) against an upstart coach (Kyle Shanahan) having his first real success.

A tortured fan base that’s seen so many close losses in big games over the years but still comes out 80,000 strong every home game (Kansas City) versus a fan base that was so spoiled in the 1980s and ’90s but hasn’t been very good since (the Colin Kaepernick Super Bowl run excepted).

This should be a terrific Super Bowl, that should captivate casual fans and hardcore fans alike. Somehow, we’ll have to survive without the Patriots this year…

Two weeks of hype and then we get the game.  Couple quick thoughts on Sunday’s games:

— Mahomes is just sensational. His 27-yard TD run to put the Chiefs ahead in the second quarter was a thing of beauty. He seems like a great kid, from all accounts. He’s easy to root for.

— But then there’s Tyreek Hill, the fastest man in the NFL who should be easy to root for, except he had some serious domestic violence accusations against him that the NFL deemed not serious enough to warrant a suspension. He’s very difficult TO root for.

— I’d say I feel bad for Aaron Rodgers, the Packers’ QB who once again got very close to the Super Bowl before failing (Rodgers, for all his brilliance, has only been to one, and has lost three NFC title games in the past six years), but the guy has a pretty good life.

**Finally, I know this is off-topic, but the Chiefs winning and making it to the Super Bowl made me briefly think about (and laugh at) this old Snickers commercial:

 

 

 

**Next up, today is of course Martin Luther King Jr., Day, the one day a year we get a federal holiday to recognize the greatest civil rights leader of our time.

I will say this year I got a little different feel about today thanks to my 5-year-old son telling me he learned about the great Dr. King in class the other day.

While he couldn’t quite explain all of it, he knew King had something to do with helping people and then got killed, and that Rosa Parks went to the back of the bus “but she really wanted to sit at the front.”

I’m thrilled Dr. King is taught to kids as young as kindergarten, and I hope at least once a year we all stop to watch this magnificent speech. “I Have a Dream,” from Washington, D.C., on August 28, 1963.

**Finally today, I always enjoy reading the stories of strange new products that come out of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) every year. CES is kind of like an inventor nerd convention, and I’m here for all of it.

This year my favorite thing may be the Charmin Rollbot.

What is it, you ask? It’s a small-wheel robot that carries toilet paper to you when you’re in your bathroom, run out, and realize you have none left under the sink!

From this NPR story:

“So you’re on the commode, you look over, oh no, somebody didn’t change the roll. Hello? Nobody home,” explained Gregg Weaver, who works in research and development at Procter & Gamble, Charmin’s parent company.

That’s when you take out your smartphone and summon the RollBot via Bluetooth. It “delivers a fresh roll of Charmin, saves the day,” Weaver says.

That might sound a bit dramatic, but this single-task robot could save you a few uncomfortable steps to retrieve a spare roll.”

This is an incredible invention, though sadly it’s not being sold yet, Procter & Gamble say it’s just a concept.

But I have many questions, of course: How does the RollBot know where your other bathrooms that might have toilet paper are, or where your linen closet is? And can the robot open doors too, or do you have to get up and open the door for it? I mean, the thing appears to have no thumbs or arms.

So many questions. Oh Procter & Gamble, you throw out this brilliant idea, but we can’t buy it yet.

I hope I’m alive when it’s finally available for purchase. Sign me up, baby!

 

 

Good News Friday: A little boy gets a standing O from his classmates after finishing chemo. Steve Hartman finds relatives he never knew he had. And a little girl writes a letter to the NHL and gets a welcome change

Happy Friday, y’all! Your humble correspondent is a little wiped out after screaming my lungs out at a Rangers-Islanders game Thursday night at the old decrepit barn called Nassau Coliseum. Man that place is NOT an NHL arena but wow does it get nice and loud for rivalry games. And the fact that the Rangers won, 3-2, with a goal in the final minute made it all the more sweet!

Lots of good stuff to get to today in Good News Friday, but let’s start with a story pointed to me by my buddy Matthew L. It is of a 6-year-old boy named John Oliver Zippay, who lives in Newbury, Ohio. He suffers from acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and at the end of December the little guy had his last (he hopes) chemo treatment.

As a welcome back to John, his schoolmates at St. Helen’s Catholic School in Newbury lined the halls to welcome him back. Just beautiful.

**Next up, the always-great Steve Hartman of CBS News is used to doing stories on other people’s families, not his own.

But I thought this was terrific; through some DNA testing Hartman found some relatives he never knew he had, and some not so wonderful stuff about a grandpa he never knew.

**And finally today, a pretty cool story of a young girl taking a stand against sexism.

New Yorker Sabrina Scali, 7, is a hockey fan, and has played the game for two years already.

She loves the NHL, and loves the playing cards the league has for sale for each team.

But she noticed something right away about the cards: on the queen cards, there are pictures of girls as hockey cheerleaders.

The queens were cheerleaders, and cheerleaders aren’t in hockey and girls can play hockey too,” Sabrina said.

So Sabrina wrote a letter to the NHL, it reached the marketing department, and presto chango, no more cheerleaders on the cards. The queens now have pictures of a girl holding a hockey stick (truly, this is long overdue, women’s hockey has been growing in America and the world for 30 years now.)

The New York Rangers heard about her efforts and organized a Junior Ranger Girls Hockey clinic for her and her teammates to skate on the Garden ice.

“If people see something that’s wrong in the world, they should stand up and fight for what they believe in,” said dad Mike. “I think it sends a tremendous message.”

Agreed, Dad. Way to go Sabrina!

A smaller Democratic debate entertains but lacks fireworks, and a few words from a Booker supporter as he bows out. An awesome “Family Feud” horrible answer. And Ken Jennings is a “Jeopardy” God

The Democratic presidential debate stages are getting smaller, which makes me happy. But they’re also getting whiter, which does not, and this week brought a second defeat to candidates I support (more on that in a minute).

First some thoughts from a lively, but relatively tame, CNN debate:

— Right from the first question Wolf Blitzer pissed me off. It’s not just him, lots of people ask a variation of it. It was a question directed to Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, asking how can Americans trust your judgement when you made a mistake voting for war back in 2003 with Iraq (Biden) and 2001 with Afghanistan (Sanders).

So basically the premise of the question is that, “Hey, you made a mistake once, so how can we ever trust you again?” I’m sorry but that’s freaking ridiculous. Every single person on Earth has made a bad decision or judgement in their life, so no one is to be trusted again?

“Steve, in 1998 you decided to go to that terrible office party instead of seeing Prince live in concert. How can we ever trust you again?”

Such a stupid premise. People make mistakes! Doesn’t mean they can’t learn from them and grow. I just so, so hate this line of questioning.

— Biden was sharp Tuesday night. He’s been getting better and better. It’s like the first few debates were spring training and now he’s rounding into form.

— I thought Elizabeth Warren, now my top choice (more on that in a minute), had another terrific debate, standing up for women candidates, showing savvy and intelligence on foreign policy, and again showing why she’d be an outstanding President. I don’t want to hear any of my wishy-washy fellow Democrats talk crap about “ooohh, she’s too liberal, she won’t get the moderates, yada yada yada.”

Screw the moderates, she’ll get the liberals and progressives to turn out in Obama-like numbers, and that will be enough to get to 270 electoral votes.

— I also loved it when Warren said she and Amy Klobuchar were the only candidates on the stage who’d never lost an election. Women!

— A few words about Cory Booker, my No. 1 choice for President and a man I truly think would have made an excellent nominee, and Commander-in-Chief. Booker suspended his campaign for the nomination this week, and I am not surprised but crestfallen. He is a strong, smart, incredibly-charismatic man who I believe has a terrific heart, and he failed in this nomination because not enougb people felt that way.

I don’t know, truly, why Booker never caught on. Maybe it’s that we’ve already had an African-American President. Maybe he never found a lane between progressive die-hards like Warren and Bernie, and moderates like Klobuchar and Biden. Maybe he should’ve done big-money fundraisers to keep him in the race, I don’t know.

But he was a longshot from Day 1, and it makes me sad that is candidacy is over. I was more stunned that Kamala Harris failed in this quest than Booker did, but it still makes me sad.

Sigh. Elizabeth Warren, you’re getting all my support now. Go get it done.

**Next up today, game-show screwups always bring the funny. Check out how confident and proud of herself this blonde woman is when she gives what she thinks is the best answer to host Gerry Dee’s question on the Canadian version of “Family Feud.”

What’s really scary? What did those other 46 people out of 100 say?

**And finally tonight, let us all bow down to the greatest mind of our generation, Mr. Ken Jennings.

OK, maybe he’s not the greatest mind. But who knows more than this guy? Tuesday night he finished his downright evisceration of two incredibly smart guys on the “Jeopardy” Greatest of All Time Tournament.

In winning three of the four matches against James Holzhauer and Brad Rutter, Jennings just again showed mastery of all subjects, winning the $1 million cash prize and a super cool trophy. It was incredible how good he was, against two “Jeopardy” masters.

The whole tournament was great, as three dudes who got super-wealthy for knowing stuff had fun in the competition.

Hey kids, it’s cool to be smart. Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise.

“Just Mercy” a terrific movie about one man’s fight to save innocent people, starring Jamie Foxx and Michael B. Jordan. “Saved by the Bell” is coming back, whoo-hoo! And a crazy NFL playoff weekend sees K.C. shine, and Baltimore? Not so much.

I’ve been waiting for years to see the movie “Just Mercy.”

Literally. I’ve been a huge admirer of Bryan Stevenson, the attorney and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, for many years. I’ve read his book, my wife and I contribute to the EJI, and I believe fervently in its mission of freeing wrongly-convicted men (mostly African-American), a task that I wish it never had to do.

So when I heard they were making a movie of “Just Mercy,” with Michael B. Jordan as Stevenson and Oscar winner/Katie Holmes boyfriend Jamie Foxx as Walter “Johnny D.” McMillian, the first death row inmate Stevenson ever got exonerated? Sign me up, baby!

We saw it Friday night, and it was really, really good. I won’t say it was four stars amazing, for a couple reasons I’ll enumerate in a minute. But first, the good.

The acting was fantastic. Foxx is in a lot of bad movies so you forget how good he is, but he immediately gives Johnny D humanity, and depth, and his skepticism about Stevenson’s chances of getting him freed after a grossly-unfair trial are certainly warranted. Foxx is amazing in scenes when he talks to a few fellow death-row inmates, Herbert, a Vietnam vet who placed a bomb on a porch that exploded, and Ray, who was wrongfully convicted of murder.

Jordan is outstanding, too, though he is given the best speeches in the movie. He mixes the earnestness and spirit of Stevenson with righteous outrage, as he moves from naivete in the beginning of the movie (“surely these old Southern white law enforcement officers will see their entire case is bullcrap!”) to determination and anger toward the end.

The dialogue is terrific, the supporting actors (like Brie Larson as Stevenson’s associate) are great, and the cinematography is beautiful.

The only flaws for me? One, there were definitely some cliche scenes, like when Stevenson is harassed by white police officers aware of what he’s up to upon leaving the prison. Maybe it’s because we’ve seen these scenes SO often in movies and TV, but they felt a little forced and trite to me.

The other flaw, and again this might just be me because I’m very familiar with the real story, is “Just Mercy” Hollywood-ized way too much. There were SO many scenes of grand, dramatic gestures and events, some of which really happened, many of which didn’t, that I felt like the director was trying TOO hard to ram his message home. Like, the facts and the story were strong enough to carry the message, we didn’t need so many dramatic, staged events.

But those are small quibbles; it’s so important this movie is out there, and that it was done right.

Do you have any idea how many people sitting in prison, waiting to die, didn’t commit their crimes? According to statistics compiled by EJI and The Innocence Project, another wonderful organization that does similar work, for every nine people executed in this country, one innocent person has been exonerated.

Nine to one! Absolutely ridiculous, cruel and inhumane that the death penalty is used at all, but it is certifiably true that innocent people, railroaded by a racially and economically biased justice system, have been killed.

Go see “Just Mercy,” and then support an organization like EJI or another like it. America’s justice system has been broken a long, long time, and the fact that so many prisoners on death row are innocent is proof positive of that.

**Next up today, I know there have been a lot of TV show reboots in recent years, most of them forgettable and a bad idea, but ladies and gentlemen, we have finally hit TV show reboot gold! That’s right, according to The Hollywood Reporter, “Saved by The Bell” is coming back!

And not only that, Mark-Paul Gosselear is returning as Zack Morris, who of course is now the governor of California! (Could happen. Wondering if A.C. Slater is his director of security). Word is that Tiffani Amber-Thiessen may be coming back, too, for the show on the NBC’s streaming Peacock network, and Elizabeth Berkeley (somehow NOT busy filming “Showgirls 2”) and Mario Lopez will also be back.

I am irrationally excited by this. In fact, you might say (wait for it) I’m so excited, I’m so excited.

Take it away, Jessie Spano!

**Finally today, what a strange and exhilarating quartet of NFL playoff games this weekend, with only one of the four going straightforward and just as we expected (the 49ers blowing out an overmatched Vikings squad).

Crazy stuff happened in Baltimore, Kansas City and Green Bay, way too much to fully recount here, but when the dirt and grass has settled, we’ve got two pretty fascinating conference title games next week, with one (Kansas City-Tennessee) nobody predicted, and the other (Green Bay-San Francisco) that a lot of people probably did.

Some quick takeaways from this weekend:

— The Houston Texans were up 24-0 on the road Sunday, completely dominating a playoff game against the inept-looking Chiefs. And then gave up 51 of the next 58 points.

Outscored 51-7!!! That’s nuts. So many things went wrong for the Texans, so fast, including their intelligence-challenged head coach, Bill O’Brien, calling for a fake punt while LEADING 24-7 and at his own 31 yard line in the second quarter.  Spoiler alert: It failed, the Chiefs got a spark, and scored lots of touchdowns thereafter.

There have probably been stupider decisions made in NFL coaching history, but boy that one’s up there. Amazing performance by Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, but wow did the Texans gag one up there. Happy for Chiefs fans, who’ve been waiting almost as long as my fellow Jets fans to get to a Super Bowl, and now they’re one game away (last time K.C. played in the Big Game was 1970)

— Baltimore was the best team in the NFL all season, got a home playoff game with a raucous stadium behind them and… pooped the bed Saturday night. Just a miserable offensive performance from likely MVP Lamar Jackson and Co.

Lots of idiots on the electric Twitter machine were saying that clearly he can’t win the big one, was overrated, and other nonsense. Clearly Jackson had a bad game, but the dude is a sensational talent. It may just take him a little longer to win big games.

— I can’t believe a team QB’ed by Ryan Tannehill just won two playoff games on the road. But Derrick Henry is an absolute beast. Titans will have a puncher’s chance next week, their defense is very very good.

— Finally, even down 28-10, I thought Seattle was going to beat Green Bay Sunday. That’s how good Russell Wilson is. And he did get his team very close, but the ‘Hawks defense couldn’t get one final stop at the end (though the refs surely helped the Pack with a dubious first-down call at the end).

Aaron Rodgers was fantastic, the Packers defense held, and they’re going to give S.F. a heck of a battle.

Happy we’ve got four new-ish teams, who haven’t been in the Super Bowl in a while, battling it out. Next Sunday will be lots of fun.

The Daddy Chronicles returns! Starring a kindergartener who loves school, and 2-year-old who is way wilder than his bro was

Happy Friday, y’all! It’s been far too long since I’ve done a Daddy Chronicles, about six months if you don’t count my annual letters to the boys on their birthdays, and of course so much has changed.
For example, one of my sons has turned into a werewolf, which we weren’t expecting, but he’s suddenly outstanding at basketball.

I kid, I kid! No but for real, let’s kick off the first Good News Friday of 2020 with some tales of my adorables, both of whom drive me crazy on a regular basis, although one MUCH more than the other.

OK, let’s start with the little guy. It’s been a running joke with Shelley and I that if Theo had been our first child, we would not have had another.

We got so spoiled with Nate as a toddler, as he rarely ever misbehaved, got his Terrible 2’s over with in about three weeks, and basically was the Golden Child (except he looked nothing like Eddie Murphy.)

So we knew that our second little one would be a challenge. And as lovable as he is… yeah, he’s a typical 2-year-old.

His motor is non-stop. He only stays still when he’s sleeping, and even then he moves around a bit. He eats sorta in stages, taking a few bites here, then going for a ride around the kitchen on one of the riding toys we own (he refused to sit in the high-chair for meals a few months ago and we’ve been unable to change his mind on that one).

And his volume… wow. Not only is he loud at almost all times, but he has no “ramp up” to a high volume. Like, when he wakes up from a nap, or in the morning, or if he’s playing quietly with his toys, there’s no slowly-escalating noise meter with Theo.

He goes from totally silent to “DADDY!!!!!!!!!!!!!”” in no time at all. It’s really quite something. And ear-splitting.

— Among his more fun quirks lately are that he’s hilariously and randomly started singing the “Happy Birthday” song whenever he feels like it, all throughout the day. Now, we did have a few December birthday gatherings in the family, so maybe that’s it. But it kills us that at least four or five times a day he’ll just warble “Happppyyy birrrrthhhday to youuuuu” and sound a little like a breathy Marilyn Monroe singing to John F. Kennedy.

Theo doesn’t know the words to the whole song yet, but his random outbursts of it never fail to crack us up.

— He’s talking up a storm, almost up to full sentences, and some of his recent favorite sayings are “I got it!” when we’re looking for something of his we’ve misplaced, “I did!” when he’s told to take a bite of food or put something away, and “No pease, Daddy, pease!” when his first request for more snacks is denied. It’s the second “pease” that you really  have to resist.”

— Finally, Theo’s other huge difference from his brother, we’ve discovered, is a  love of live theater. Nate was never a fan of shows, wanting to leave early from “Paw Patrol Live” and many other children’s productions, but Theo is totally riveted. Over the holidays he did not move a muscle during an hour-long live “Frosty the Snowman” show, sitting on Shelley’s lap the entire time, and was similarly frozen during a Thomas the Train live show.

It was stunning to watch; I wanted to poke him a few times just to make sure he was still breathing.

— Oh one more thing: Theo throws a screaming tantrum when his brother Nate, whom he worships, closes the bathroom door on him when he has to make a poop. This is outrageous to Theo, that his hero wouldn’t want him around for ANY moment of his life. And we try to explain to Theo that doing a Number 2 is a solo exercise.

**And now to the big guy. Kindergarten has been a joy to Nate; halfway through the year we’re so grateful he has a wonderful teacher who gives each student a hug every morning as they walk in, and has cultivated his love of reading and drawing. His reading, especially, has come so far since September, and it’s been wonderful watching him read books by Mo Willems or Todd Parr that he hasn’t just memorized, but that he’s actually reading by sounding out the letters.

Nate loves doing his homework, too, enthusiastically taking out his pencil box and spiral notebook when it’s time to write some sight words, or another assignment. As he was with preschool, he can’t wait to go to school in the morning.

— We’ve tried some new after-school activities this year, with mostly good results. He loves his robotics class on Mondays, where grownups lead the tykes through LEGO-based projects like mechanical fans, and soccer goals, and a power drill. He’s got such an engineering-oriented brain that I feel I’ll be totally useless when it comes to his science projects.

After much consternation by me I let him enroll in tennis lessons; I say consternation because it is of course my all-time favorite sport and I’m afraid of him playing it before he’s ready, hating it, and then me having to put him up for adoption since I will not have ANY tennis-haters in my family.

But happily, he liked it for a few months, before complaining that playing too much made his arm hurt, and that he wanted to stop. So all in all, a good first tennis experience.

–Having his tonsils and adenoids out in July has had most of the desired results; he sleeps much better now, hardly snores at all, but the promised increase in appetite has not happened. Kid still barely eats anything; I truly don’t know how he has enough energy to get through the day.

— It still freaks me out sometimes when I see Nate doing something I didn’t teach him. Like, last week at a playdate he and a buddy were playing “Rock, paper, scissors,” and I was like “How the hell does he know how to play that, I never taught it to him?”

— But man does he love his little bro. Except for when Theo pounces on him, or hits him, or tackles him, Nate is the biggest fan of his Mini-Me you can imagine.

On the walk into Nate’s sports class most Tuesdays they hold hands in the parking lot like this (below).

If I could freeze-frame that forever…