The unreal reality we now find ourselves in: Some thoughts as we all muddle through. A Broadway star makes an awesome gesture to kids whose school plays were cancelled. And the Final Four picks I would’ve made for March Madness

It has been a dizzying couple of days for all of us.

The news and information is flying so fast and furious. The fear is real; the panic is justified.

I have many thoughts flying around my brain tonight, and I’m hoping this makes sense to you. Because the many voices inside my head are telling me lots of different things lately. (Also, my sister sent me the above photo and I laughed out loud. It’s been really, really weird living without sports these last four days).

— Everyone in a position of authority is saying “stay away from people as much as possible. Don’t go near anyone besides immediate family.” And yet there are morons I see going bar-hopping all over the place, and gathering in restaurants. Young people, mostly, feeling so invincible and acting so stupid. Makes me burn.

–And yet, I need to share this with you: We did something Sunday that I’m sure many of you will disagree with, but I felt we had to.
My oldest, Nate, has become best friends with a wonderful girl who lives a few houses a way. They’re in the same kindergarten class, they hang out at the bus stop, and have weekly playdates. She’s a sweet, caring 5-year-old who truly cares for my son.

Several weeks ago her grandma (she lives with her grandparents and father) excitedly gave me an invitation to a birthday party for her granddaughter. It was going to be at a local bowling alley on Sunday March 15th, the whole class (22 kids) was invited, and it was going to be great.

Then, pandemic hit. And day by day Nate’s girlfriend’s grandma got more and more people changing their RSVP to “no.” Slowly the number of kids dwindled and dwindled, even as the party venue was moved to a local playground to minimize risk and contact.

By Saturday morning, the guest list had dwindled to three other kids. It was awful; this poor, sweet child was going to be disappointed. Do you remember how enormous of a deal your birthday was when you were 6? It was everything.

Anyway, I know we weren’t “supposed” to, and I know it may sound wrong to many, but my family and I went to the playground yesterday and for an hour. Nate ran around with his girlfriend, and two other classmates who also showed up. Then we went back to the birthday girl’s house for cake.

Was it crazy? I don’t know. But the thought of this sweet girl having NO ONE show up for her birthday party was too much for us to bear.

— So much of the major life changes that have hit all of us in the past few days have been talked about, but a few I’ve been thinking about: What will happen to blood donations? All over America there are blood drives and donation centers every day, and now, there will be hardly any. What will happen to patients who aren’t suffering from corona but badly need a blood infusion, and there are shortages everywhere?

— Another thing I thought about: “Regular” patients who get sick, are they going to be out of luck at hospitals and medical facilities because those facilities will be swamped taking care of coronavirus cases? This would definitely be a bad week to break your leg or suffer a heart attack.

— As for our President, well, he continues to be on-brand with his embarrassing, idiotic behavior. Tweeting out lies, completely refusing to take responsibility for anything, claiming things that are completely false (that Google is creating a nationwide coronavirus screening site, for example), he’s acting as he always does.

If our embarrassingly bad preparedness that will get Americans killed doesn’t cost him votes in November, nothing will.

— And yes, count me among those starting to worry that the Orange con man is going to try to find a way to cancel November’s election. If there’s a chance for him to do it to hold onto power, he will.

— Stay safe, everyone. We’ll all get through this together. So many more good people than bad in this world, so many. We’ll get through it. And try to be good to one another.

So of all the bad news going around the last 72 hours or so, this was by far the most uplifting, wonderful thing I have seen. One of the many, many consequences of the mass cancellations of schools, and public gatherings, is that student actors of all ages who have been rehearsing for months on their school’s spring production now won’t get to perform them at all.

They’ll miss the thrill and anxiety of Opening Night, of seeing their friends and family in the audience, the rush of being backstage afterwards, and the huzzahs and accolades from everyone they know.

It sucks. So Broadway actress Laura Benanti did something sensational Friday: She put out this Tweet (above) telling all the performers out there to send in video of themselves to her on Twitter, and SHE would be the audience they didn’t get to have.

The results were sensational. Dozens of people sent in videos, and my wife and I spent an hour last night watching them and playing “Name That Tune” (my beloved is a total musical theater nerd and got many of them right). These kids are dedicated, so talented, and are being robbed of a wonderful experience.

God bless Laura Benanti; this is such an uplifting set of videos. I posted one below, but click on her Tweet and watch as many as you can. These kids deserve audiences!

**Finally today, yesterday was the third Sunday in March, a day I look forward to (no joke) almost as much as my birthday every year.

It was Selection Sunday, the glorious annual event that has me getting out paper and pencil at 6 p.m. Eastern and hand-making brackets as they’re announced, screaming and yelling about this team being way over-seeded and that team being way under-seeded, and quickly trying to figure out which upsets to pick and which ones are too crazy to pick and it’s all just so damn fun for me.

But, you know, none of that happened this year.

Still, I can’t shake the addiction. So even though there are no real brackets to look at, and no tournament, I want to put on record the four teams I would’ve liked to pick today to make the Final Four.

1. Florida State: They’re deep, they’re talented, and well-coached. This was going to be their year.

2. Gonzaga. They’ve been flying under the radar despite being a Top 5 team all year, they don’t have the usual 1-2 NBA studs they’ve had lately, but the Zags are seriously good.

3. Seton Hall: The Pirates were solid for months, dipped toward the end, but are very well coached, have a superstar in Myles Powell, and I think they were primed for a big run.

4. Richmond. Really? Yes,  really. This has been one of the craziest, most unpredictable college basketball seasons ever, so why not the Spiders? They have depth, played in a strong league (the A-10 this year) and could totally have made a Cinderella run.

Sigh. We’ll never know. But we did get this fabulous video (bel0w) put together by a man named Max Goren: A “One Shining Moment” of the 2019-20 season.

It’s great, and it’s all we’ll have.

Final Four picks…

One response to “The unreal reality we now find ourselves in: Some thoughts as we all muddle through. A Broadway star makes an awesome gesture to kids whose school plays were cancelled. And the Final Four picks I would’ve made for March Madness

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