Monthly Archives: February 2020

Good News Friday: 18,000 NYC kids get to see “To Kill a Mockingbird” for free on stage. An adopted boy tries to take in as many neglected animals as he can. And a Minnesota bus driver gets the funeral sendoff he always wanted.

Happy Friday, everyone. I assume you all have your surgical masks on and are not shaking hands with anyone, anywhere. Yes, coronavirus panic has gripped us but I’m not worried; we’ve got a sober-minded, brilliant man as Commander-in-chief, a fully-staffed and funded science community in the federal government, and lots of qualified public officials with experience in this kind of thing being listened to.

(Wait, NONE of that is true? Oh. In that case, run for your lives!)

Lots of good news to tell you about this week, and I’m not even including the fact that Sunday is March 1 which means for college basketball fans, IT’S MARCH, BABY!

First up today, a very cool way to introduce New York City kids to real live Broadway theater. This week 18,000 NYC students got an incredible opportunity to see the new production of “To Kill A Mockingird,” directed by Aaron Sorkin, for free at Madison Square Garden.

The city Department of Education held a lottery system for schools and teachers, and thousands of children who never in a million years would’ve gotten to see this expensive Broadway show got in for free.

“This is a one-of-a-kind event — 18,000 young people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford to see a Broadway play are going to be introduced to American theater,” Sorkin said. “Scott, Bart and our cast, Jim Dolan and Madison Square Garden and the Department of Education are bringing the mountain to Mohammed — and I’m very excited to be a part of it.”

I think that the message still stands,” Brianna Banful, a senior said, adding: “I definitely want to do pre-law when I go to college and then hopefully go to law school.”

Very, very cool. Exposing children to things they don’t get to see in their day to day lives is how inspiration occurs, and how minds are changed.

Bravo, NYC.

**Next up today, I thought this was a super-sweet story about a little boy who was adopted, after being in foster care for years, and his love of animals who also seem not to have been cared for.

This story made me a little sad because of what Robbie went through, but also made me feel hopeful that a kid like this could have such compassion and love in his heart, for so many living creatures.

I hope Robbie grows up to do great things in his life.

**Finally today, I do love unique funeral stories, and this one really made me chuckle.

Glenn Davis spent 55 years as a school bus driver in a Minnesota town, and before he died recently, he and a friend talked about what kind of casket he would like.

I want to be buried in a casket that’s like a school bus, Davis told his friend.

Davis’ friend, a funeral director named Jim Hindt, commissioned his niece to paint a casket like a school bus. It was even emblazoned with the #3 of Davis’s first bus—and he was incredibly touched by the gesture. Davis used to show people the casket at the funeral home, and got a big kick out of it.

Watch the video and see how Davis was sent out in style.

I only hope there was a little horn in there, too. (By the way, if any of my good friends are reading this, feel free to bury me in a casket that is shaped like a tennis racket, or the Jets Super Bowl trophy, which let’s face it will only exist after I’m long dead.)

 

“Parasite” a strange and very well-made film, and I’m glad I saw it. A very powerful new PSA about gun safety. And the S.C. Dem debate was a wild and crazy affair, with lots of yelling and Biden and Liz doing well.

With all the attention it got at the Oscars, the wife and I figured, on a rare opportunity we had last week, to finally see “Parasite.” A foreign-language film that won Best Picture, and seems to be beloved by critics and audiences alike (it has a 99 percent critics fresh rating and a 90 percent audience approval rating), surely was worth seeing.

And you know what? It was pretty freaking good. And strange. And incredibly well-directed and shot. I kind of don’t want to give away too much about it, because we went in pretty blind and were thrilled at the story, but I’ll give some basic details and praise the acting and script.

“Parasite” takes place in South Korea, and focuses on two families: One, the Kim family, poor and living in a awful dwelling in a poor neighborhood, desperate for some opportunity to get out. There’s a mother and father, a sister and a brother, and once the brother (Ki-woo) gets a chance opportunity to be an English tutor to a wealthy teenage girl, he slowly manages to ingratiate his whole family into the life of the Park clan, a wealthy, upper-class couple who have a young, disturbed son, and a teenage daughter.

Eventually, as we move along slowly (and the movie is delightfully unhurried) we see how the Kim’s and Park’s lives take drastic turns when something shockingly violent happens, and then something shockingly violent happens in the final 15 minutes of the film.

Indeed, and this is going to sound crazy, this movie reminded me a little of the masterpiece “Fargo,” where the story is compelling, the acting fantastic, and it’s only interrupted by some violence a few times.

As the two families’ lives get more and more intertwined, director Bong Joon-Ho gives us a ton to think about, with metaphors about class distinctions, human behavior, and even some pretty funny scenes, too.

There was a little weirdness in the movie, for sure, and a hilarious scene where the Kim’s try to stop a vagrant from peeing on their little dwelling.

But overall this was a movie that had my jaw on the floor at the end; it was really, really good. Not surprised at all it won Best Picture, and I highly recommend it.

 

**Next up today, a pretty remarkable public-service announcement from a group called End Family Fire, designed to raise awareness and help prevent gun violence in the home.

Watch this two-minute video of a father talking to his young son; well, actually, it’s the son talking to the father, and watch the little guy take on all arguments against the father’s gun safety notions and turn them back on him.

This is really a tremendous piece of work; here’s their website if you wanted to get involved.

**And finally today, a few words on Tuesday night’s Democratic debate, where everyone on stage should’ve had one goal, for their own survival: Slow down the old Jewish guy from Brooklyn, aka Bernie Sanders:

The debate was, well, entertaining in a train-wreck, family gathering at Thanksgiving where everyone yells at teach other kind of way. The moderators at CBS, Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell, did a miserable job keeping things on track and under control, just awful. The crowd was out of control; why exactly do we need crowds at debates?

We had way too many screaming interruptions that no one could hear. And the last question, about mottos, was just silly.

Still, in between the shouting and interrupting, there was some substantive stuff talked about.

— First, I’m very surprised the attacks on Sanders seemed to stop after the first 15 minutes. He’s the frontrunner, he’s got the most momentum, and if you’re the other candidates, you need to slow his roll. But after Biden and Warren both jabbed at him a bit, there really wasn’t a lot of attacks on Bernie. Biden went after him a little on guns, Mayor Pete on Russia, but I thought there’d be more. I was surprised.

— The math is simple if you support anyone but Sanders heading into South Carolina: Joe Biden must win South Carolina, no ifs, ands or buts about it. If Biden does (and his recent speech where he said he’s running for the U.S. Senate shows he’s clearly, mentally, having trouble) then Sanders’ momentum is stopped, and Super Tuesday is up for grabs among a lot of candidates, including (sadly) Bloomberg.

But if Bernie wins S.C., well, the fat lady will be warming up her pipes. So if you’re a Warren supporter like me, it’s go, Joe, go.

— I thought Biden did pretty well, although he came off nasty when constantly chastised the moderators for cutting him off. He also made some wild-sounding claims, including saying something like half the population has been killed by gun violence.

— Kind of entertaining that Pete Buttigieg was up there decrying 1960s-style radicalism when he was born in the 1980s.

— I once again question why in the world Steyer is up on stage, when he impresses me not one bit. What an absolute waste of millions of dollars by him.

— I predict Biden will squeak out a win in South Carolina, and Warren absolutely, positively has to at least finish in the Top 3.

A 42-year-old Zamboni driver gets into an NHL game as a goalie, and wins it. A boxer croons “American Pie” after a win, and the crowd sings along. And Nevada caucus thoughts; the Bernie train keeps rolling

Sports is awesome sometimes. Hockey is awesome nearly every time. And one of the reasons I say that is because stuff happens in hockey that’s magical, that just does not happen in other sports.

I bring you today the wonderful story of an emergency backup goalie named David Ayers, a 42-year-old Zamboni driver for the Toronto Marlies minor-league hockey team, who on Saturday was forced into an NHL game for the first time with the Carolina Hurricanes and beat the Maple Leafs, 6-3.

In the words of Inigo Montoya, let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.
NHL teams dress two goalies for every game, a starter and a backup. In the last few decades there has been a rule that there must be a “house goalie,” or “emergency backup goalie” available to both teams; someone, anyone, who has played goalie at some level before that’s at the arena, and ready to go in if one team sees both of its two goalies who are dressed get injured.

It is extremely rare for this to happen, but Saturday night both of the Hurricanes’ goalies got hurt by the middle of the second period.

So David Ayers, who WORKS for the Maple Leafs as a Zamboni driver and maintenance operations manager at Mattamy Athletic Centre, and has never played sanctioned professional hockey as a goalie, went into the game for the visiting team, Carolina.

Oh, and did I mention he received a kidney transplant in 2004?

This set hockey Twitter on fire, because not only does this never happen, but even more rare that it happens where an employee of an organization goes in to play against his employer.

As soon as it happened, Ayers’ wife, Sarah had the appropriate response on Twitter: “FUCK ME!!!” She wrote in excitement.

Ayers let in two goals in the first few minutes of action, as Carolina’s lead went from 4-1 to 4-3.

But Ayers settled in, and against one of the most powerful offenses in the league, didn’t allow any more goals, making eight saves and Carolina won, 6-3.

So many awesome scenes from this one, including Leafs players high-fiving Ayers as they left the ice after the second period, and the Carolina players going wild for him at the end.

Above, is Ayers talking postgame, and you can tell this was an incredible life memory. The guy is 42 and never played minor league hockey, and now he just won an NHL game!

There is no equivalent to this in any other major team sport; a 3rd string NFL QB or a 3rd-string catcher in baseball is still a professional, and has had years and years of training and practice.

The day before Saturday’s game Ayers was on a Zamboni, cleaning the ice.

Reminder: Ayers isn’t even ON the Hurricanes team, he’s a Zamboni driver for the minor-league Toronto team, the Marlies. And yet look how the guys he met like an hour ago treated him when he walked into the locker room after the win (below).

The Hurricanes are honoring Ayers at their next home game; hell, they ought to just retire his number 🙂

Just so freaking awesome. I love sports.

**Next up today, I haven’t followed boxing for many years, and I didn’t even know there was a huge heavyweight title fight Saturday night between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury until, well, Saturday.

Fury, a 6-foot-9 Irish lug, dominated the fight and beat Wilder, but that’s not why I’m writing about it. I’m telling you about it because after the fight, standing in a Las Vegas ring, Fury took the mic and sang the entire first two verses of Don McLean’s classic “American Pie,” with the crowd joining in.

I’m not sure what my favorite part of this 2-minute video is; it might be the African-American guy behind Fury faking knowing the words but doing his best to keep up, or it could be 143-year-old boxing promoter Bob Arum (standing to the left of Fury) singing to his heart’s delight at the chorus.

But it’s all so, so great. Bravo, Tyson Fury. Bra-vo.

**And finally today, a few words about the Nevada caucus held on Saturday, with Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont really opening my eyes (and many others) with a very large victory, comprised of a wide swath of Democratic voters young and old, Caucasian and people of color alike.

I am not giving up the fight for Elizabeth Warren, not by a long shot, and was encouraged by a national poll released Sunday that showed her in second place.

But a few things are on the line next Saturday in the South Carolina primary: Joe Biden absolutely, positively has to win, or his campaign is stunningly just about dead.
Warren must finish in the Top 3, ahead of Pete Buttigieg, or her chances are looking bleak, too.

If Sanders wins South Carolina, and if he does it by a big margin, then he is in commanding position to get the nomination.

If you had told me a year ago, or six months ago, that I’d be typing that sentence, I’d have told you you were nuts. But it’s true.

Good News Friday: The 40th anniversary of the “Miracle on Ice” is here, and it’s still an amazing moment. A son writes a heartfelt message to his mom in the snow. And a woman plays the violin during her own brain surgery

Some sports moments grow bigger and bigger with time, and take on outsized importance because they happened so long ago.

What I mean is, some sports moments weren’t that momentous at the time, but they grow in myth as the years go by.

The 1980 U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team’s victory over the Soviet Union in the semifinals of the Lake Placid Olympics isn’t one of those moments.

It was enormous then. It was enormous a year later, 10 years later, 20 years, 30 years later, and it’s still enormous now, as Saturday is the 40th anniversary of the greatest upset in team sports history.

I don’t need to tell you why, unless you are under 30 years old and/or lived under a rock in 1980. A bunch of scraggly-faced college kids from mostly from Minnesota and Boston rose up and defeated the greatest hockey dynasty of all time, the professionals from the USSR, 4-3.

It was an absolute stunner for many reasons, including that the Russians had destroyed all competition at the last several Olympic games, the American team had lost to the Soviets in a warm-up game 143-4 (OK it wasn’t that bad, only 10-3) and the mood of America in February, 1980 was less than stellar.

And so these baby-faced kids went out there, inspired by an amazing Herb Brooks speech (yeah you can watch Kurt Russell do it in “Miracle” but it’s not the same ) and did the impossible.

I’ve watched the fantastic HBO documentary on the victory (it’s on YouTube, I can’t recommend it highly enough), seen “Miracle,” and watched and read countless other stories about that game.

And still, when I put that final minute of the game clip up at the top of this post a few minutes ago, I watched it for the 353rd time and still got chills when Al Michaels asked if I believed in miracles.

Happy 40th anniversary to the greatest upset in sports. It will never, ever get old.

**Next up today, this was a beautiful moment that probably meant so much to one woman going through a struggle.

At the famous Cleveland Clinic hospital recently, a son snuck onto the grounds and wrote a heartfelt message to his mom, in the snow.

I really hope she saw it, and I really hope she got a smile knowing a kid she brought into this world really, really loves her.

What a special, sweet gesture.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/02/19/brain-surgery-violin/

**And finally today, an absolutely remarkable story and piece of video that made me smile in awe.

A woman named Dagmar Turner had brain surgery in London recently. Turner is an accomplished violinist, and doctors (and she) were concerned that the delicate surgery might affect the motor skills she needs to play the instrument so beautifully.

So, and this blows my mind just typing this, they kept her slightly awake during the operation and had her play the violin during the surgery.

According to this story in The Washington Post, “Surgeons working close to parts of the brain that control important functions such as speech or movement routinely keep patients awake to best determine where tumor gives way to something vital.

King’s College Hospital, which treated Turner, often gives people language tests during such surgeries, said Keyoumars Ashkan, the neurosurgeon who oversaw Turner’s delicate operation, and who also happens to be a musician. But last month’s procedure marked the first time he’d presided over a private serenade.”

“Turner went under general anesthesia while they opened her skull. But the brain itself does not have pain receptors, and she was wide-awake for the tumor’s removal, playing Gershwin, Mahler and more”

This is wild. I mean, I’ve heard of surgeons humming music while they operate, but this is a live concert! In the OR!

I would guess at her next performance, no distraction from the audience wold throw her off, you know?

 

“Curb Your Enthusiasm” season has been incredible so far, maybe its best yet. Soccer players and fans in Germany respond awesomely to a racist. And the amazing writer Roger Angell, still going strong at 99

As I said on social media and to any of my friends who also worship Larry David and “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” I had very low expectations when I heard a new season of the HBO sitcom was coming back for Season 10.

After eight mostly amazing seasons it looked like the show had gone off the air for good in 2011, and I was fine with that. The mostly-improvised, brilliantly acted and directed show had so many classic episodes, and if David said he was finished with it, then fine, and thanks for so many great memories.

But five years went by and “Curb” came back, and it was like watching (cliche alert) Muhammad Ali stumble around the ring against Trevor Berbick, or Willie Mays falling down in the outfield when he played for the Mets at the end of his career.

The season was a mess; not funny, not interesting, and I watched the last few episodes out of obligation, out of loyalty, not because I was expecting them to be good.

So when I heard LD had gotten the gang back together for another season this winter, I feared the worst. People just run out of funny ideas, at some point, and clearly David had.

Happily, I was completely wrong. “Curb” has aired five episodes this season and they have all been phenomenal. Just phenomenal. Completely ridiculous premises have still managed to be hilarious.

From the season-opener, with everyone thinking Larry’s manager looks like Harvey Weinstein and cursing him out, and Larry putting on a MAGA hat to repel people he doesn’t want to deal with, the show has been on fire this year.

Between Larry and ex-wife Cheryl’s mini-reunion, between Larry trying to brilliantly manage dating in L.A. during the #MeToo era by asking a first date before he does anything physical, and getting her permission, to last week’s brilliant destination wedding episode in Mexico, the whole season has just been perfect.

Besides the always-reliable Susie Essman, Jeff Garlin and Richard Lewis, the guest-stars this season have been fabulous, from Teri Polo, to Clive Owen, to even Christine Lahti.

The absurdity of a human being going through life acting like Larry David on this show has  always been funny. But the storylines and execution this year have been incredible. This season is on a par with the first few seasons, for pure comedy and brilliance.

If you used to watch “Curb” and gave up on it, I’m telling you, it’s time to come back. It’s brilliant again, and I’ve never been so thrilled to have been wrong.

**Next up today, we have heard and seen for decades the awful scourge of racism in European soccer, from fans throwing bananas at African-American players, to much worse physical and verbal abuse.

So it was highly refreshing to come across this clip this week. At a recent home game in Germany for a club called Preußen Münster, a fan hurled racist slurs towards Leroy Kwadwo, a Ghanian football player who competes for German club Würzburger Kickers, who were playing Münster that day.

When other fans saw it, they alerted security, who escorted the man out.

Then, as opposing players came to hug Kwadwo, the entire stadium stood up and chanted “Nazis Out!”

Maybe it’s not the biggest deal in the world, but it’s great to see hatred and bigotry called out in real time, and dealt with immediately. Praise to the Munster fans, big-time.

**And finally today, a tribute to the amazing writer Roger Angell, who is now 99 and still going strong.

A writing hero of mine and of so many other people, Angell has been writing baseball, and other prose, at The New Yorker since God was a child. His beautiful writing and fantastic outlook on life have been an inspiration over the years.

Now a year shy of a century, Angell gave this interview to The New Yorker about his life and work, and it’s fabulous. Man,  I hope I’m this sharp when I’m 99. Hell, I hope to SEE 99!

 

A Trump administration policy stunning in its cruelness toward migrant kids, even for Trump. Another outstanding NBA Slam Dunk contest, another terrible result. And the Florida criminals who couldn’t be stupider

I say this from time to time, but it’s worth stopping every now and then, in the midst of so much cruelty, so much stupidity, and so much chaos coming from the White House, and this administration, and just being left breathless at some of the awful things being done in the name of the government we, the people, are represented by.

It’s so easy to get lost in the tsunami of awfulness, the impeachment stuff and the firings of career diplomats because the Orange Grifter didn’t like them, and all the political mud-slinging, and you just get numb to it sometimes.

But then you read a story like this, and it slaps you back into consciousness, and just sends you into a silent rage. Well, it sent me into one, anyway.

From The Washington Post on Sunday:

“To bolster its policy of stepped up enforcement, the administration is requiring that notes taken during mandatory therapy sessions with immigrant children be passed onto ICE, which can then use those reports against minors in court. Intimate confessions, early traumas, half-remembered nightmares — all have been turned into prosecutorial weapons, often without the consent of the therapists involved, and always without the consent of the minors themselves, in hearings where the stakes can be life and death.”

Let me state that again: Immigrant children who have been detained by ICE and are living in deplorable conditions in government shelters are given mandatory sessions with therapists. They then tell these therapists details, horror stories, whatever, believing what they tell the therapists is between them.

Then, sometimes WITHOUT the consent of the therapists, these confessional statements are used AGAINST the children in legal proceedings that often find them deported.

This exquisitely reported, heartbreaking story by Hannah Dreier of the Post follows the story of Kevin, a teenager from Honduras who has been in detention for nearly three years, and who has seen horrors the likes of which most of us will never know.

What an absolutely despicable example of ICE and our government taking advantage of children’s deepest, darkest moments alone with a therapist.

Ugh. Just makes me so mad. Read this fine story, for a glimpse of what goes on inside these shelters.

We should all be outraged, every damn day.

**OK, next up, the NBA Slam Dunk contest was held on Saturday night, and as usual I didn’t watch it but caught the highlights on Sunday, and man, it was fantastic.

Aaron Gordon, a high-flyer from the Orlando Magic, brought the house down with some amazing dunks (the one that starts at the 2:16 mark, above, is my favorite) but as seems to happen all the time in these NBA Slam Dunk contests, Gordon still did not win.
Derrick Jones Jr., who did some nice dunks himself, was crowned the winner. But man, Gordon’s were better, no doubt.

Anyway, as someone with a half-inch vertical leap myself, I love these dunks.

**And finally today, a wonderful stupid criminals story from the state of Florida, and many thanks to my good friend Andrew for sending this to me last week.

Two men were not discreet in their plans to sell drugs in the Florida Panhandle, according to officials.

The Florida Highway Patrol arrested two men suspected of drug trafficking after troopers pulled them over on Saturday and found drugs in a bag labeled “Bag Full of Drugs.”

Yes folks, that’s right, these two future Nobel Prize winners, Ian Simmons and Joshua Reinhardt, both 34, were pulled over in Santa Rosa County on Saturday, Feb. 1 after a trooper clocked them going 95 mph (153 kph) on Interstate 10 on the state’s Panhandle, according to a Florida Highway Patrol arrest report.

They had meth, cocaine and fentanyl in their car, helpfully in a bag that read “Bag Full of Drugs.”

You know, why be subtle about what you’re carrying, right? I mean, I hope these guys also walked around with a sign saying “I am actually quite stupid” and another one saying “I’ve got lots of money in my pocket, go ahead and rob me.”

“Bag Full of Drugs.” Aw, man, I do love me some stupid criminals.

 

Good News Friday: A N.Y. dog sets a world record for tennis balls in his mouth. A kid with Down Syndrome scores an amazing basket in his high school’s game. And legalizing gay marriage has dramatically dropped LGBT suicide attempt rates

Happy Valentine’s Day, y’all! I hope wherever you are that you have someone you love, and who loves you back, to spend some of today with. I am incredibly lucky to have found the best Valentine ever; she loves me, helps take care of me, and oh yeah, helped me create a couple of humans who we love with all our heart (although not as much as when the 2-year-old screams out with nightmares and wakes us at 1:14 a.m. this morning).

I want to start Good News Friday with an amazing dog feat. Truly, the Guinness Book of World Records isn’t complete without the amazing accomplishment of this pooch in upstate New York.

Meet Finley Molloy, a 6-year-old Golden Retriever from Canandaigua, N.Y., who can incredibly fit six tennis balls in his mouth… at one time!

Look at this pic of Finley above, and realize you’re in the presence of greatness. What choppers on this little guy!

From this story in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle:

The joy he brings to us is one thing,” said his owner Cheri Molloy. “But he brings joy to people all over the world.”

It’s a stellar — and sometimes anxiety-inducing — thing to watch: Someone will toss him six balls, and once he knows he’s got six nearby, he’ll start to pick them up.

The first three or four are quick, and he picks those up with ease. But for the fifth and sixth balls, he’ll use his paws to keep them in place when he pops them in his mouth.

By the time he’s got all six in his mouth, his cheeks are stretched wide. Some of the balls he’s only got a single tooth on to keep them from falling out. His tail wags furiously when he knows he’s gotten them all.

I’m wildly impressed. What a time to be alive!

**Next up, it’s that time of year where wonderful things happen at high school basketball games across the country, as human interest stories emerge as the season draws closer to the end, and kids who never get to play suddenly do.

I want to bring you the story of Mason Doherty, a senior on the St. Peter’s (Minn.) high school basketball team. Mason was born with Down Syndrome, but last Saturday night, in a game between St. Peter’s and Minnehaha High School, Doherty got in the game and scored. And both teams went wild.

After the game, Minnehaha star Jalen Suggs posed for pictures with Mason.

“This is what sports is about!” wrote Suggs in a tweet. “We’ve had a lot of good plays this season and I’ve seen even more from other teams. But this here, nothing this season tops what my guy Mason did today!!”

Awesome.

**And finally today, more proof that taking the stigma away from something and treating everyone the same literally saves lives.

Check out this story from upworthy.com on a study that was taken in the years following the legalization, nationwide, of same-sex marriage in 2015.

Two years after the legalization of gay marriage, the suicide attempt rate among LGBT youth declined significantly according to the Associated Press.

Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for U.S. teens. LGBT teens are five times more likely to make an attempt than their straight peers.

The study, from the Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health, was conducted with over 26,000 LGBT youth participants in the 32 states where gay marriage was legalized up through the 2015 Supreme Court decision. The study found that suicide attempt rates dropped 7% among all students and 14% among gay kids after same-sex marriage was legalized in each state.

Where gay marriage was already legal, there was no corresponding drop in suicide attempts, the study found.

Now, it’s not 100 percent correlative that suicide attempts dropped just because same-sex marriage was legalized. But it obviously was a powerful factor; suddenly, when the entire nation is legitimizing your right to have all the benefits of a married person, when it’s allowing you to be married just like heterosexual couples, it has to be an encouraging thing for teens who are angry, confused, or frustrated about their life.

This to me is hugely important in showing that treating everyone the same, and granting everyone the same human rights, can literally save lives.

One of the most important Supreme Court decisions of all time is making a big difference in the life of kids.

Bernie squeaks out a win in N.H., while my candidate Warren shrinks badly. A beautiful commercial from Denmark on togetherness. And Adam Sandler with an awards speech for the ages

Well, at least we got results before midnight!

That’s the first thing I was happy about Tuesday night, as the results of the new Hampshire primary trickled in. Say what you want about the people of New Hampshire (and I’ve known quite a few of them, some good, some not so good), but they vote and then we find out how they voted. And hey, that’s something!

But seriously, it was a depressing night for me in some ways, with my candidate of choice, Elizabeth Warren, showing a significant drop in support, barely breaking nine percent.

I think all the obituaries starting to be written about her candidacy are way too premature; we’ve had two states vote, both incredibly white and non-representative of the party.

If Warren does terribly in South Carolina and Nevada, then talk to me about her being in real trouble.

More thoughts from primary night, the first of the 2020 cycle:

— It was a very good night for Bernie Sanders, who won the New Hampshire primary, squeaking out a win over Pete Buttigieg, 26 percent to 24 percent, at last check. Bernie did much better in N.H. in 2016, but of course there are many more candidates this time so the vote was much more split. I continue to have major reservations about Sanders this time around (his age, his temperament, his ability to win a general vs. Trump,) but as crowded and tight as the field is right now, you’d have to say he’s the frontrunner at the moment.

— Pete Buttigieg with another very strong showing, nearly winning a primary in a state Sanders could have dominated. However you feel about him politically, let’s take a step back for second:  I think it is kind of amazing that a 37=year-old gay mayor of a small Indiana town has tied, and basically tied, the first two Presidential primaries. Not sure there’s any precedent for that, ever, someone with this limited age and experience doing this well. I don’t know if he can keep this up, but it is history-making.

— Shocker of the night was Amy Klobuchar doing so well, coming in a strong third with 20 percent. She then gave a fantastic “introductory” biographical speech, realizing many people were paying attention to her for the first time and might give her a chance. Not sure she’ll be able to capitalize on this strong finish, but if she’s ever going to be a factor in this race, the upcoming Nevada/South Carolina voting is her chance. Personally, if I had to support a moderate right now, I like her better than Pete or Biden.

— Joe Biden. Joe, Joe, Joe, Joe. Wow has he taken a dramatic fall the last few months. From absolute frontrunner for a year, to now barely scraping by with 8 percent and finishing fifth in New Hampshire. I am not one of those people, and there are many, who think he’s finished, he’s going to drop out, etc. No way he’ll do that, for many reasons, especially that he does extremely well with people of color, and none of them have voted yet. His candidacy has collapsed because, as we’ve known for 30 years, he’s just a bad Presidential candidate. His hopes may be on life support, but the defibrillator paddles are ready and working.

— Finally, I’ll have much, much more to say on this at another time, but reading that Michael Bloomberg, who is NOT in any way, shape or form a Democrat, has already spent THREE HUNDRED MILLION dollars in campaign ads makes me want to vomit. That is such a nauseating, disgusting statistic, someone trying to buy the Presidency this way. And the fact that he’s gaining in the polls (gee, what a shock, you spent a quarter of a billion dollars, people start to like you) disgusts me. I am horrified that Bloomberg is rising.

**Next up today, this advertisement from a Danish TV station absolutely floored me. My friend Sherry posted it on her Facebook page recently, and I thought it was beautiful. It takes a few seconds to get going, but its message of togetherness, and what we have in common being so much greater than what we don’t, is really powerful.

I found this ad very uplifting.

Finally today, the Oscars didn’t have any amazing speeches but the Independent Spirit Awards, the Academy Awards’ weird cousin that holds its show the night before, sure did.
Adam Sandler won the “best Male Lead” category at the awards for his performance in “Uncut Gems,” and he proceeded to give a freaking hilarious victory speech. I’m not a huge Sandler guy but when he’s funny, he’s damn funny.

Here he pokes fun at himself, the other nominees (who all laughed uproariously), and his own career, while lapsing into some of his character voices.

It’s a 5-minute Sandler tour de force, and I absolutely loved it.

The Oscars, strangely in February this year, were great musically and so-so otherwise. And a few words on the most amazing Duke robbery of a win over UNC

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Rob Latour/Shutterstock (10548150fa)

It was just weird having the Academy Awards one week after the Super Bowl.

Right? Apparently it was done to try to change the ratings slide of the Oscars, but I dunno, it just felt weird.

Couple that with the fact that the grownups in the Lewis house saw fewer movies than usual this year, and I wasn’t all that jazzed about Sunday night’s show.

But still, as with almost all big awards show, I found enjoyment.

— Parasite was the big winner, and I couldn’t tell you a thing about it. But a ton of people loved it, and Bong Joon-Ho, the writer and director of this South Korean movie, won four Oscars and tied Walt Disney for the only person to ever win four in one night. I think it’s great a foreign language film finally won, so I guess I should probably see it.

— After Janelle Monae’s fabulous opening number, Steve Martin and Chris Rock came out to do the “host monologue,” and they were great. Martin had a great Iowa caucus app joke, and Rock’s line about “Harriet” and hiding black people was very sharp. I’m fine with those two “hosting” the Oscars every year.

— Laura Dern! Love her, have loved her in many things, so was very happy she won her first Oscar. And she gave a fantastic speech, calling out her parents. “You know, some say you should never meet your heroes, but I say if you’re really blessed, you get them as your parents.”

That was so sweet.

— Brad Pitt won his first acting Oscar Sunday. Good to see something in life finally go right for that guy.

—  I have absolutely no idea what the heck Renee Zellweger was talking about after winning Best Actress. No idea.

— By far the strangest moment of the night came at the end of a perfectly fine and fun movie music montage, when inexplicably, Eminem appeared to perform live his awesome song, “Lose Yourself,” from the movie 8 Mile.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the song is fantastic, and he did a great job around all the bleeps the censors had to do. It was just… confusing as hell as to why he was out there. And Marty Scorsese falling asleep during it when they flashed to him in the crowd was classic.

— Annual award-season tradition at my house continued Sunday night: The cameras flash to a celebrity in the audience, and I terribly wrongly guess who it is before my wife corrects me, while giving me a gentle scolding. Although Sunday I finally got her back when she kept thinking the dude with the gray beard and glasses in the 1917 seating section was Bradley Whitford from “The West Wing.”

— Well-dressed people at the Oscars: Regina King looked sensational, as did Mindy Kaling, and we thought Salma Hayek looked great as well. For the men, Mahershala Ali as always was stunning.

— Only thing I absolutely would’ve predicted with certainty was Joaquin Phoenix winning and then giving a rambling, strange victory speech. Man, that dude is OUT THERE. Like, even Bill Walton would think he’s strange.

— Death Montage: Kirk Douglas had to be the hammer. The guy was Spartacus, for God’s sakes! We lost a ton of great people this year, including the terrific Rip Torn, Buck Henry, and Alvin Sargent, who wrote one of my all-time favorite films, Ordinary People.

— I loved that they showed clips of the nominees and didn’t just read their names; it’s a little thing but it was important.

— Seriously though, they overdid it with all the musical numbers. As many people on Twitter joked, this was a terrific Grammy awards.

— Finally, I thought Will Ferrell and Julia-Louis Dreyfus were very funny together, and I’d totally watch a new Netflix series starring them as wacky parents.

**Finally today, I try not to blog too often on here about my immense passion for Duke University men’s basketball, because I know a majority of you don’t care. But sometimes, like after Saturday night’s improbable, ridiculous, absolutely undeserving but still incredible Duke win over the hated North Carolina Tar Heels, I must say a few words.

It took about 4-5 hours for my heart rate and blood pressure to come back to normal Saturday night after the game. After playing horrendously all night, and making UNC, in in the midst of its worst season in a few decades, look like the 1990s Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls, Duke was down 13 points with four minutes to go.

Oh, and the Blue Devils’ best player, Vernon Carey, had fouled out.  It was over, it was finished, and I was pissed.

Until, it wasn’t. Tre Jones led Duke on an amazing comeback, capped by sending the game into overtime on the most perfect intentional missed free throw you’ll ever see (above), followed by a game-tying jumper.

Then in overtime, with me pacing and screaming and still kind of wondering how the hell game was even in overtime, Duke blew a five-point lead and looked dead again. Until the Tar Heels, God love them, continued to miss free throws, turned the ball over, and yes, Duke got the benefit of a very poor call against the Heels in the final 10 seconds.

Then miraculously, Duke’s Wendell Moore tipped in a missed Jones jumper at the buzzer to give Duke the win.

It was, without a doubt, the biggest theft of a win in my 34 years as a Duke fan. They had no business whatsoever winning the game, given how badly they’d played, but the Devils somehow pulled it out.

It was incredible. And to do it against the Tar Heels (Go to hell Carolina, go to hell), in the Dean Dome, made it so much sweeter.

This isn’t a great Duke team, probably not even a Final Four team. But man, that was some incredible win Saturday night, one for the ages.

 

Good News Friday: A wealthy Ohioan sends an entire high school to college for free. Students help a beloved teacher get his shoes back. And the most amazing story of a POW and Chiefs fan who got to to go the Super Bowl.

Happy Friday, people! It was a depressing week in many ways in America (such a predictable, but depressing, acquittal for President Trump) but it’s Duke-Carolina weekend, baby! As always I’m super pumped for the first installment this season of the greatest rivalry in all of sports: ESPN had a stat the other day that in the last 100 Duke-UNC games, the score is exactly even.

Which is nuts. Anyway, UNC is very down this year, my Dukies are pretty up, so I can’t wait for Saturday night at 6 p.m.

But enough about college hoops for the moment, let’s get on to some fantastic Good News Friday stories this week.

First up, we’ve seen a few of these gestures in the past few years, and they’re always incredible. Here, another wealthy philanthropist has decided that education really is the key to escaping poverty, and found a way to do something about it.

From the great Steve Hartman of CBS News, comes this story from Toledo, Ohio, and a man named Pete Kadens, who grew up locally and became very rich.

Two weeks ago Kadens made an incredible announcement to the students of one of Toledo’s high schools:

If you’re sitting here in this room today, as a soon-to-be graduating senior, tuition, room and board, books and fees will be paid for you will go to college for free,” Pete announced.

That wasn’t the only gift Pete came bearing. Because poverty is an inter-generational problem, and because he is determined to snuff it out in this community, he offered each kid a study partner.

“So, too, can one of your parents go to college or trade school for free,” he said.

Incredible gesture. It’s estimated this could cost Kadens $3 million, but look at what he’s trying to build.

I’ve said this before, but it is tragic that education is so expensive and so off-limits to so many in this nation. And that it takes men like Kadens having a huge heart to make a difference sometimes.

But thank God for people like him, because those kids in Toledo might now change the world.

For more info on Kadens’ new organization, H.O.P.E. Toledo, click here

–Next up, this beautiful story of young people doing good from Bellevue, Wash.

A couple of weeks ago, Logan Fontenelle Middle School teacher Trey Payne had a nice pair of basketball shoes stolen from his classroom.

His students pooled their money together and bought him a new pair to replace the ones that were stolen. They were upset that someone would do this to him.

Look at this video of his reaction when the kids presented their gift to him.

“It’s more than a pair of shoes, it’s about doing things to build everyone up around you. I try to show my kids this and I think the lesson has sunk in for many, in turn, reaffirming my purpose and my ideals,” Payne said.

Wonderful.

**And finally, I happened upon this remarkable story in Peter King’s indispensable weekly “Football Morning in America” column on NBCSports.com.

It’s about a Vietnam War veteran and prisoner of war named Edward Lee Hubbard, who is a big Kansas City Chiefs fan and got to go to the Super Bowl last week.

Read this, and once again be amazed at the power of the human spirit:

Flying his 28th bombing mission in the Vietnam War in July 1966, 28-year-old Air Force Col. Edward Lee Hubbard of Shawnee Mission, Kans., was shot down and captured by the North Vietnamese. Hubbard was put in a six-foot-by-six-foot cell and held for 2,420 days, just over six-and-a-half years. His weight dropped from 175 to 98 pounds in his first five months. He was regularly beaten by the guards.

The only contact he had with the outside world was six letters from his wife over the years that were allowed to be delivered, and also occasional care packages with hidden news about home, always in code. “That’s how we found out we landed on the moon,” Hubbard said the other day from his retirement home in Fort Walton Beach, Fla. Another time, a tube of toothpaste was sent, and when he squeezed it, a capsule came out. Inside the capsule was a piece of microfiche with some news and the ball scores on it. But he’d go months without finding out a scrap of information about home.

Hubbard was a Chiefs’ fan dating from their earliest days after the franchise moved from Dallas. It wasn’t until he was released in March 1973 and debriefed for days afterward at a U.S. base in the Philippines that he learned what happened on Jan. 11, 1970: The Chiefs had won the championship of professional football, 23-7 over the Vikings. At the base, there were TV recordings of seminal events that Hubbard binge-watched, including the moon landing. And Super Bowl IV, the big Chiefs win.

“I didn’t even know it was called the Super Bowl,” Hubbard said. “I had never seen color television. I think the only player on the Chiefs I knew was Lenny Dawson. Watching all of it, you have to realize we were having some emotional issues, seeing everything that’s happened in the world for seven years in a matter of days. It was like stepping out of a dark closet for the first time in years.”

He got a hero’s welcome back home, and Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt invited him to tour the new Arrowhead Stadium and meet the players. When he got home that day, his son, a big Chiefs fan, asked if he’d gotten any autographs. “No,” Hubbard said, “but they got mine.”

So he resumed his military career. He never saw a Chiefs’ game in person. But after the AFC title game two weeks ago, he thought he might do anything to be able to go to this Super Bowl. A friend reached out to the NFL to tell his story, and that friend surprised him one day last week by connecting him via Skype with commissioner Roger Goodell. As Hubbard watched his screen, Goodell held up a football with the words, “Congratulations. You’re going to the Super Bowl.”

Hubbard is 81 now. Sunday was the first NFL game he ever attended. His football team was in the big game for the first time since he was imprisoned, emaciated, half a world away. Two days before the game, I asked him how he would feel when the national anthem would be played before this Super Bowl.

“I’ll just be so happy,” Hubbard said. “And I will cry.”

I think, given the game’s outcome, Hubbard was a pretty happy guy this week.