Category Archives: Uncategorized

This Oregon state GOP desertion/armed militias story is batshit crazy. A Tim Conway laugh to make you forget all that. And the Rangers have given me Kakko fever, and I’m delirious with joy

Some days, I really get truly, truly despondent about stuff that happens in this country.
Days when I don’t know whether to laugh, or cry, or just ball up my fists and scream and punch something.

Friday night, I read this horrifying story from The Daily Beast, about what’s going in Oregon right now. Without trying to summarize or minimize, here are the first few paragraphs of the story, and again, I’m not making this up:

Right-wing militia groups across the Pacific Northwest are mobilizing to prevent Oregon state police from arresting Republican state senators who went into hiding on Thursday in order to prevent climate change legislation from passing.

All 11 of Oregon’s Republican state senators are currently on the lam, with some leaving for Idaho in an effort to deny the Democrat-controlled state senate a quorum to pass a cap-and-trade bill. In response, Oregon Governor Kate Brown (D), citing a provision in the state constitution that allows the state to “compel” absent lawmakers to attend legislative sessions, dispatched state troopers to bring them back.

One of the lawmakers on the lam, Republican Brian Boquist (R), warned that he would resort to violence rather than return to the state, implying in a local television interview that he would attack law enforcement officers sent to retrieve him.

“Send bachelors and come heavily armed,” Boquist said. “I’m not going to be a political prisoner in the state of Oregon. It’s just that simple.”

Militia groups in the Pacific Northwest—a hotbed of far-right extremist activism—claim they’ve mobilized to protect those state senators.

“We’re doing what we can to make sure that they’re safe and comfortable,” said Eric Parker, the president of militia group Real Three Percenters Idaho, adding that the Idaho militias are in touch with their Oregon counterparts about the senators.

OK, so let me unpack this a little, if possible, because this all sounds batshit crazy.
First, yes, I know this walkout thing has been done in other state legislatures before, by Democrats and Republicans alike (it got a lot of attention in Wisconsin when Governor Scott Walker drastically tried to destroy unions.) But what really frightens me are two things: 1, this is about climate change legislation, a very real and significant issue, and we’ve got armed militias and wacko lawmakers threatening violence against his own state’s police???

And 2, nobody on the right seems to think this is going too far. No calls to stand down with all the militant talk, no one cares that militias are vowing to fight the law-enforcement agencies, and this is all just business as usual.

A few years ago, I would’ve laughed at anyone who said what I’m about to say. It sounds completely ridiculous.
But I honestly, truly think we might be headed toward a real civil war in the country. An honest to goodness civil war.

Sigh.

Next up today, because I feel we all need a palatte-cleanser after that horrifying story, my Dad showed me this clip last week of the late great Tim Conway, from “The Carol Burnett Show” back in the 1970s. Conway, who died on May 14, was a brilliant comedian, and this may have been his funniest skit yet.

It’s called “No Frills Airline,” and I laughed so hard I had to stop the clip a few times so I didn’t miss what came next.

 

**Finally today, I came down with a serious case of Kappo Kakko fever this weekend, but don’t worry, it’s not fatal. In fact, a million of my fellow New York Rangers fans are suffering from it, too.

I know it’s late June and what the heck am I doing talking about hockey, but indulge me for just a few paragraphs, please. Friday night in the NHL Draft, my Rangers drafted their most exciting rookie in decades, an 18-year-old sniper from Finland named Kappo Kakko (and come on, isn’t that a fun name to say? Go ahead and say it, me and my 4.5 year old have been yelling it at each other for a few days.).

He was picked No. 2 overall, he’s 6-foot-2, 190 pounds and is the most exciting Rangers prospect since Brian Leetch. I cannot freaking wait until October when he starts scoring goals for the Blueshirts.

Move over Federer, and take a seat, Zion Williamson. I have a new sports man-crush, and his name is KAKKO!!!!!!

OK I’ll calm down now.

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Good News Friday: A teacher promised his class he’d get married if they did well on tests. They did. Ex-NFL star Gronk does great at a children’s hospital. And a WWII love story re-kindled, 75 years later

Summer is here, whoo-hoo! Pool parties, barbecue, putting on sunscreen twice a day because me and my family are all really pale!

Happy Friday and happy summer, my fellow Earthlings. Hope you have a great summer kickoff weekend, here are a few stories of goodness to take you into your Saturday/Sunday enjoyment…

First up today, one of two love stories in the blog today. So an elementary school teacher in Chicago named Dwayne Reed made the students of his longtime girlfriend, fellow teacher Simone Matthews, a deal at the start of the school year: If they achieved their math test score goals at the end of the year, he’d propose marriage to Miss Matthews.

Well, the kids did their part of the bargain, and Mr. Reed came through. Check out this incredible reaction from the kids when Matthews tells them about it. So, so sweet…

**Next up today, it’s hard for me to say nice things about New England Patriots players, even retired ones. But I have to give it up for the recently-retired Rob “Gronk” Gronkowski, who did a pretty wonderful visit at the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital in Maine recently. It wasn’t just about the donation he made, it was about his huge spirit and heart.

Well done, Gronk. Now come out of retirement and play for the Jets, please.

**Finally, learned about this beautiful story of love lost and then found again from Upworthy.com. During World War II, an American soldier named K.T. Robbins was stationed in France, where he met and fell in love with a local woman named Jeannine Ganaye. They had a short relationship, because Robbins was transferred soon after they fell in love, but he took a photo with her, and he remembered the name of the town she lived in when they met, Briey.

Seventy-five years later, Robbins is 97, while Ganaye is 92. Both of their spouses have passed, and when Robbins was interviewed by French a television station for a D-Day anniversary segment, and he shared a photo he still had of Pierson (her married name).

He never dreamed she’d still be alive. But she is, and check out this incredible video of their reunion.

The joy of finding someone you once loved… so sweet.

 

A crazy but maybe true British story about flowers, cemeteries, and true love in a crazy way. A toddler hilariously wants to throw a pitch from a big-league mound. And a store trying to dissuade plastic bag use fails miserably

OK so I know you can’t believe everything you read on the Internet, and that’s certainly true of Twitter, but well, this seems like this kind of story that’s too insane to make up out of whole cloth, so I’m going to take the author at his word that it’s all true.

If it turns out not to be true, as some have claimed, well, then, it’s still a hell of a story and I think you’ll get a kick out of it.

It was posted last week by a Twitter user named @sixthformpoet, and here goes:

My dad died. Classic start to a funny story. He was buried in a small village in Sussex. I was really close to my dad so I visited his grave a lot. I still do. [DON’T WORRY, IT GETS FUNNIER.] I always took flowers and my mum visited a lot and she always took flowers and my grandparents were still alive then and they always took flowers. My dad’s grave frequently resembled a solid third place at the Chelsea Flower Show.

Nice but I felt bad for the guy buried next to my dad. He NEVER had flowers. Died on Christmas Day aged 37, no one left him flowers and now there’s a pop-up florist in the grave next door. So I started buying him flowers. I STARTED BUYING FLOWERS FOR A DECEASED MAN I’D NEVER MET.

I did this for quite some time, but I never mentioned it to anyone. It was a little private joke with myself, I was making the world a better place one bunch of flowers at a time. I know it sounds weird but I came to think of him as a friend. I wondered if there was a hidden connection between us, something secretly drawing me to him. Maybe we went to the same school, played for the same football club or whatever.

So I googled his name, and ten seconds later I found him. His wife didn’t leave him flowers BECAUSE HE’D MURDERED HER. ON CHRISTMAS DAY. After he murdered his wife, he murdered her parents too. And after that he jumped in front of the only train going through Balcombe tunnel that Christmas night.

THAT was why no one ever left him flowers. No one except me, of course. I left him flowers. I left him flowers every couple of weeks. Every couple of weeks FOR TWO AND A HALF YEARS.

I felt terrible for his wife and her parents. Now, I wasn’t going to leave them flowers every couple of weeks for two and a half years but I did feel like I owed them some sort of apology. I found out where they were buried, bought flowers and drove to the cemetery. As I was standing at their graves mumbling apologies, a woman appeared behind me.

She wanted to know who I was and why I was leaving flowers for her aunt and grandparents. AWKWARD. I explained and she said OK that’s weird but quite sweet. I said thanks, yes it is a bit weird and oh god I ASKED HER OUT FOR A DRINK. Incredibly, she said yes. Two years later she said yes again when I asked her to marry me because that is how I met my wife.”

OK, so maybe that whole story is made up, but come on, you totally enjoyed the ride, right?

**Next up today, turns out this video is from last year, not last week like I thought, but it’s still adorable. Nolan is a tiny Cincinnati Reds fan and was fortunate enough to be selected to throw out the first pitch at a game.

Befitting Nolan’s Munchkin-like size, he was placed just a few feet from home plate to make his toss. But Nolan wasn’t happy there; he kept pointing toward the mound, indicating he wanted to throw it from where the big guys do.

Finally, the grown-up in charge takes the tyke to the mound, and the look of pride and wonder on Nolan’s face… priceless.

**Finally today, I got a good laugh out of this story, both as an appreciation of a business trying to do the right thing, and someone who, upon seeing what they were doing, would totally try to thwart it.

So the East West food Market in Vancouver was trying to help save the environment a little, and wanted to reduce customers’ wishes to use plastic bags, and bring their own reusables.
So the Market had 1,000 plastic bags printed up with embarrassing slogans, like  “Dr. Toews’ Wart Ointment Wholesale,” “Into the Weird Adult Video Emporium” or “The Colon Care Co-op,” thinking the slogans would shame customers, make them not want to carry the bags around town. They also started charging five cents per plastic bag.

And yet, despite the shame attempt, the bags have become a huge hit. 

“Some of the customers want to collect them because they love the idea of it,” David Lee Kwen, the owner of the store, Vancouver’s East West Markettold The Guardian newspaper.

The store began the campaign this month, printing up 1,000 bags with the eye-popping slogans. Shoppers who chose to use a plastic carrier would not only be charged 5 cents apiece, they would theoretically walk out onto the street with the cringeworthy messages for all the world to see.

Ah well. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, right?

Oh, and FYI, I’ve been to to Colon Clear Co-op, and lemme tell you, the path getting to it is very, very clean (thank you, I’m here all week.)

A movie post: “Rocketman” provides great music, and a so-so story. 30 years on, remembering the great “Dead Poets Society.” And a father’s day PSA honors Dads of all kinds

Here are some things I can tell you after a rare trip to the cinemas Friday night, to see the new Elton John biopic, “Rocketman.”

— There are a whole lot of Elton John songs in this movie (although disappointingly, we didn’t get “Candle in the Wind”), and they’re all sung excellently and with fantastic stage presence by Taron Egerton. Egerton is so freaking good he almost redeems the movie’s flaws by himself.

— This is a sanitized version of John’s story; I mean, yeah, we see him treating people badly, and we see the drugs and the drinking that takes place after he shoots to fame, but it’s really pretty tame stuff compared to most rock biopics. Alas, Sir Elton was an executive producer on the film, so that explains why it was rather tame.

— Did I like the movie? The music scenes were excellent, Egerton was, as I said, superb in channeling the look and sound of Elton John, and visually there were some incredible set pieces.
But the story was really, really slow-moving; we didn’t need a half-hour of Elton John’s childhood. There were lots of unexplored avenues in the film, a lot of the plot was simplistic in regards to John’s parents, and the movie abruptly ends telling John’s story in around 1989. Lots of interesting stuff has happened to him since then, including his incredible AIDS charity work, his musical evolution without working with Taupin, etc. I would’ve liked to see a lot more of the last 30 years, and less of his first 30.

I’d give the movie 2.5 stars, because when all is said and done, I did have a fun time watching it.

— If you believe this movie’s chronology, about 95 percent of the classic Bernie Taupin-Elton John songs they wrote together were penned in the first year they knew each other. Seriously, SO many hits were played/sung in the first months of their collaboration that you’re left thinking “Man, these guys started out hot, then didn’t write another great song for like 10 years.

— Finally, this has nothing to do with “Rocketman” but I just need to share:

The guy working the snacks counter told me, authoritatively, that not only are there people who purchase the giant horsebucket-sized container of popcorn for $9.50, but often bring it back for the promised free refill, while the film they’re seeing is still going on.

Who are these people that need THIS much popcorn? How can they eat this much popcorn? Even if they’re sharing it with, like 6 or 7 people, that’s still a ridiculous amount of popcorn?
Sorry, this stayed with me for a few hours after the movie.

**Next up today, in the same “movies” vein, The Ringer.com and Bill Simmons had an excellent podcast the other day about the classic “Dead Poets Society” which turns 30 years old this year.

I have always loved, loved, LOVED “DPS,” because I’m a writer and an English major nerd and because it’s just such a beautiful film, acted so well by Robin Williams, Robert Sean Leonard, Ethan Hawke, and a young Josh Charles.

Anyway, they of course talked about the final scene, which for my money is the best last scene of a movie, ever.

Enjoy. And seize the day!

**And finally today, Sunday was Father’s Day, and I hope if you’re a Dad you had a great one, and if you’re lucky enough to have your own father still around, you called him or hugged him or maybe did both (I saw mine and we had a lovely day).
Before I go on, had to share these two fantastic Dad jokes I took from NPR’s Twitter thread Sunday, when they happily unveiled a flurry of Dad jokes for our groans and amusement. These two legit had me laughing out loud:

1.My wife is really mad at the fact that I have no sense of direction. So I packed up my stuff and right.

2. Guy walks up to a librarian and says…”Can you tell me where I can find the books on paranoia?” The librarian (whispers) “They’re right behind you.”

OK, moving on, thanks to my Facebook memory feature Sunday I saw this incredible PSA from 2013 that I ran on the blog here in honor of Father’s Day, and it was so good and moved me, again, on Sunday that I wanted to run it again here.

Just beautifully put together by the folks at Family Today; the Dad’s face at the :55 mark is all of us…

Good News Friday: The Blues win the Cup, and an 11-year-old sick girl is the inspiration. A comedian and his toddler son have a hilarious TV conversation. And an old Sesame Street video of Kermit and a little girl is super-sweet

And a Happy Friday, y’all, and man what a week it has been. So much going on in the world, our President continues to sink to even lower depths as a human being and a leader (“What? You think I’ve reached bottom? Ha! I’ll show you, I can go WAY lower than this!) but none of that matters today because one of the best feel-good stories in sports the past several months had a happy ending Wednesday night. (And shout-out to the Toronto Raptors for its stunning NBA Finals win Thursday night, too, wow what a victory.)

The St. Louis Blues, the worst team in the NHL in early January, won the first Stanley Cup in franchise history Wednesday, beating the Boston Bruins in Game 7, 4-1.

But that’s not the part of the story I want to feature in Good News Friday. No, I want to talk about an 11-year-old girl, who’s been “adopted” by the team in an absolutely beautiful way.

From a St. Louis Post Dispatch story on Laila: “Laila is a Missouri kid who suffers from a rare disease called HLH, a systemic inflammatory syndrome that can be fatal. Last Halloween, Laila attended a trick-or-treat event with the Blues and Children’s Hospital. She met Colton Parayko, one of her favorite players on her favorite team.

“He was 100-percent committed to her, took her around trick-or-treating,” Heather Parayko, Laila’s Mom, said. “I said, ‘It’s OK,’ and he said, ‘I’ve got her – I’m going to hold her bag, I’m going to hold her drink, I’m going to do everything.’ He’s all in with her – they just have this bond. Ever since then, he’s come to visit her in the hospital. Stayed a ridiculously long time. They actually communicate once or twice a week. He just checks on her. It’s a genuine friendship.”

Through the organization Be The Match, a donor was found — Laila had a bone marrow transplant in January. She’s battled through ensuing chemotherapy. She’s fought and fought … and then had more fights to fight.”

Laila has been an inspiration to the team and its fans the last few months, and check out this inspirational video of her finding out she was getting to go to Boston for Game 7:

And as you know, the Blues won with Laila Anderson in attendance, and she got to kiss the Stanley Cup in that photo above, and dammit, if you don’t need a Kleenex by now, check your ticker.

What a wonderful story. Sports can do amazing things to people.

**Next up today, this short video went viral last week and I’ve only watched it 132 times because it’s so freaking adorable.

A comedian named D.J. Pryor decided to have a “conversation” with his toddler son, Kingston, about a TV show they were just watching together.

And Kingston is totally breaking it down and his Dad is reading him perfectly.

So damn cute. I want someone to give Kingston a job as a TV critic, please.

**And finally today, a sweet piece of nostalgia from “Sesame Street.” The great website Mental Floss brought this to me this week, and it’s just beautiful. It’s a clip of Kermit the Frog and a sweet little girl named Joey Calavan, from a 1973 episode, and watch and smile as Joey tries to joke with Kermit about singing the “ABC” song.

Jim Henson’s reaction is wonderful, as is the gleeful laughter of Joey. We need more of that in the world.

Have a great weekend.

Jon Stewart rages, properly, at Congress over 9/11 victims compensation running out. A high school principal plagiarizes an Ashton Kutcher awards show speech. And an NBA star answers a kid’s heartfelt question really well

I usually like to see Jon Stewart pop back up on TV for something funny and light, but Tuesday he was in no joking mood at all, and I don’t blame him.

Stewart has long been a major supporter/advocate of 9/11 first responders, helping fight to get health care and long-term benefits for the brave EMS, firefighters, police officers and other personnel who bravely rushed to the scene on 9/11 to help with the Twin Towers tragedy, and now continue to suffer major health problems as a result of their heroism.

The reason for the hearing Tuesday was that the Victims Compensation Fund was up for re-authorization, and it’s running out of money, according to the Dept. of Justice.

In nine minutes of searing, emotional testimony, Stewart excoriated Congress for half of the members of the subcommittee not being there at the hearing, and pleaded with our nation’s lawmakers to compensate and help the thousands who are affected.

It is ridiculous that we have to go through this every few years; this is not a partisan issue, and that so many first responders are sick and dying should be proof enough that there needs to be compensation given to help them.

Stewart was fantastic here; I highly recommend watching the whole thing. Here’s how he closed:

“Thank God for all of these people who will not let it happen again. They responded in five seconds. They did their jobs, with courage, grace, tenacity, humility. Eighteen years later, do yours!”

**Next up today, you know, it’s graduation season here in America, and there are only so many platitudes a commencement speaker can offer up.

You can say “your future is bright,” and “make changes in the world for the better,” only so many times, right?

So part of me has sympathy for this principal I heard about this week, a Mr. Kenny DeMoss of Parkersburg High School in Parkersburg, West Va.

Seems a few weeks ago at graduation Principal DeMoss told the kids about hard work, seizing opportunities, and all that good stuff, and about how “opportunity looks like hard work.”

Well, it turns out Mr. DeMoss had taken entire portions of the speech from that noted brillant thinker of our time… Ashton Kutcher.

Yes, Ashton Kutcher, the former Mr. Demi Moore, the man who’s made more bad movies than any Hollywood star ever has, it seems. Mr. Kutcher gave a speech at the 2013 Kids Choice Awards, and Mr. DeMoss apparently loved it so much he lifted it.

“It was never my intent to take credit for what I said or give a specific credit because of how I prefaced my speech,” his statement said. “I did not get all my ideas from Ashton. Format yes, thoughts and ideas were from my heart.”

Oh Mr. DeMoss, it’s OK to admit it: You love you some Ashton, you think he’s got all the answers, and you wanted to sound cool to your students. We understand.

Above is a video a Parkersburg student made showing how similar the two speeches were.

Man oh man. Plagiarizing Ashton Kutcher, the world truly has gone mad.

**And finally today, the NBA Finals are still going on, with major drama happening in Sunday’s Game 5, with Warriors star (and future Brooklyn Net, I hope!) Kevin Durant returning from a 5-week absence from a calf injury, only to horribly tear his right Achilles tendon, meaning he’s likely going to miss next season.

The game itself was great, the Raptors still look like the better team but man it’s going to be tough to finish of the Warriors.

Anyway, I wanted to highlight what I thought was a fantastic press conference answer to a kid’s question from Toronto’s Kyle Lowry.

“Mr. Lowry,” the youngster asked, “how does it feel to be an icon all over Canada, for kids?”

Listen to this and tell me Lowry doesn’t have it exactly right.

The NHL team that’s waited 51 years for a Stanley Cup has to wait a few more days. A band in a mall plays the perfect song at the perfect time, hilariously. And Rafael Nadal is the king of Paris for an unfathomable 12th time

Happy Monday, y’all. Yours truly and the fam have just returned from a wedding weekend in the wonderful city of Philadelphia, which has given us Rocky Balboa, Boyz II Men, and a cracked Bell. As always in Philly, I had a great time, I was reminded that Reading Terminal Market will likely send me into a food coma one day (but it’ll be a happy coma), and I can’t wait to go back again.

I came home Sunday night hoping to watch a sports coronation, as the St. Louis Blues, and their Laura Branigan-loving fans, led the Boston Bruins 3-2 in the Stanley Cup Finals. If the Blues won Sunday night, they’d win their first-ever Cup, crushing a 49-year streak of futility and failing in big moments.

But of course, because that futile history was well-earned, nothing could come easy. Jon Hamm’s favorite team fell behind 1-0 early, fought desperately for two periods to tie the score and came damn close, before falling apart in the third to lose, 5-1.

Really sucked to watch hope fade away in the third; as a fan of underdog teams who’ve tortured their fans for decades (as a Jets and Rangers fan I always empathize with them).

Now, though, they get one more shot, Wednesday night, in the most delicious two-word phrase in all of sports: Game 7.

Gonna be a looonnng few days of waiting. Might want to play some “Gloria” in the interim.

**Next up today, this was just about the most perfect thing I’ve seen in a long time. So a shopping mall in Guadalajara, Mexico flooded over the weekend, and there was a band playing on a small stage at the time.

And as the water poured in, the musicians immediately started playing… the theme from the movie “Titanic.”

So freaking awesome. Also, major props to the lady at the end with the bucket, that’s probably not gonna get it done but that’s A-plus effort right there!

**And finally today, it’s time for the annual early-June “how freaking amazing is Rafael Nadal???” after he’s won yet another French Open title.

If you’re scoring at home, that’s an even DOZEN Roland Garros title for the all-time legend, and this time he had to go through an easy draw until the semis, when he straight-setted the legend Roger Federer, then beat an outstanding Dominic Thiem in the final on Sunday. Thiem, who thanks to the weather and terrible scheduling by the French Open organizers, had to play four consecutive days at the end of the tournament and was clearly out of gas by the end on Sunday.

But what a fight he put up for two sets before wilting; he’s definitely a future Roland Garros champ.

As for Nadal, I mean what else can you say? His match against Federer Friday, in incredibly gusty conditions, was a clinic.

Nadal is superhuman on clay, and now has 18 Grand Slam titles, just two behind Fed. He will keep on winning Roland Garros as long as he wants to and as long as his body allows.
Only two behind Fed in the Slam count. Oh, the footsteps are getting louder.

Good News Friday: Texas makes a long-overdue good decision on backlog of rape kits. A French tennis star and his son have a beautiful moment. And a Normandy survivor gets a wonderful return visit

And a Happy Friday to you all, summer seems pretty much here and I’m thrilled. The Lewis clan is headed to Philadelphia this weekend, which means I get to return to a city I love and have visited many times, with a trip to the awesome sports throwback jersey store Mitchell and Ness for sure on my agenda.

Let’s start Good News Friday this week in a place whose government I rarely highlight for doing something good, the enormous state of Texas (home of the great Jock Jeffcoat, a phenomenal character on “Billions” the last few seasons. Man, Jock is one hell of an a-hole on that show, but so much fun to watch.)

Anyway, it’s rare for me to commend Texas Governor Greg Abbott (or any of his recent predecessors) but he and the Texas Legislature deserve major kudos for what they did this week, singing legislation that will end a backlog of rape kit tests that have been sitting on shelves for decades.

This is an issue that I’ve written about previously, and how there are thousands of rape cases in this country that have gone unsolved because the collected rape kits from the victim have simply never been tested.

Thankfully the tide is turning, and more and more jurisdictions are making laws that will allow old kits to be tested. This Texas

There are certain issues that are just Texas issues. One is public safety,” Abbott said. “It doesn’t matter what political party, what race, what geography you come from. Everybody wants justice, everybody wants safety.”

The bill requires an audit of untested kits, establishes timelines for results to be submitted and extends the statute of limitations for related crimes.

This is hugely important. Victims of sexual assault don’t come forward for many reasons, one of them being they often feel they’ll never, ever get justcice

https://www.dallasnews.com/news/texas-legislature/2019/06/04/gov-greg-abbott-signs-historic-legislation-end-rape-kit-testing-backlog-combat-sex-crimes

**Next up today, the French Open continues today with an incredible lineup of men’s semifinals, and a very surprising lineup of women’s semis (go Roger! By the time you read this he’s probably either won or lost against Rafael Nadal), but one of the most beautiful moments of the tournament happened a few days ago, when Frenchman Nicolas Mahut lost a third-round match to Leo Meyer.

Mahut’s son, Nathaniel, who last year scampered onto the court to congratulate Dad after Nicolas won the men’s doubles title, this year was a wonderful consolation guy, running onto the clay to comfort his father, who’d just lost. Look at how emotional even Mahut’s opponent, Mayer, got.

Just a beautiful moment.

**And finally today, you probably heard that Thursday was the 75th anniversary of the Allies’ invasion of Normandy, France during World War II. There were tributes, moving ceremonies, and all of it is extremely warranted.

Here’s a nice little moment from CBS News, with the story of a 94-year-old Normandy veteran named Joseph Morettini, who was involved in the Normandy attack and was headed back from his Pennsylvania home.

Well, local people found out about it and gave Joseph and wonderful sendoff.

Thank you, Greatest Generation. For everything.

The great “Jeopardy James” finally loses, and a nation is shocked. Billy Joel and Def Leppard singer do a fabulous duet on a classic. And Roger vs. Rafa, one more time, at the French Open

All great streaks must end, eventually.

Cal Ripken played 2,632 straight baseball games, then sat one out.
The UCLA men’s basketball team won 88 consecutive games, then lost

My 4 1/2 year old son suffered a tiny bump or bruise and didn’t cry… no wait, sorry, that streak of tears is still going.
Anyway, you get my point.

Monday night, millions of viewers across America watched, stunned with mouths agape, as the great “Jeopardy James” Holzhauer was finally defeated on the quiz show.

Mere thousands of dollars shy of breaking Ken Jennings’ all-time record money haul, Holzhauer, the professional sports gambler from Vegas, lost.

He lost to a 27-year-old librarian from Chicago named Emma, who once wrote a dissertation on how to win at “Jeopardy” and the difficulty level of the clues come up. He lost for a bunch of reasons, none of which were that he got any answers wrong (he didn’t buzz in and get a single one wrong, incredibly.)
James’ streak died because he came up against a fantastic player, yes.

But he also ran out of luck with Daily Doubles, the biggest reason he’s been able to win more than two million dollars on the show over the past several weeks.

He found the first Daily Double on the first clue of the game, which meant James could only wager $1,000 at most. Then in the Double Jeopardy round, Emma found both Daily Doubles, and passed, then padded, her lead over James.

So the great Holzhauer, who I found so entertaining with his breadth of knowledge and cool wagers, never got a chance to run up a big score like he always does.

I embedded the last two minutes of the episode from Monday above; check out how the crowd gasps when they realize James lost, then listen to how choked up Alex Trebek gets at the end! He’s legit bummed that James is done.

Bravo, young Jedi Master James. We all bow before you. Now let’s get that head-to-head matchup with Ken Jennings scheduled and on TV, pronto.

**Next up today, there’s no way in the world once I saw this, that I wasn’t putting it here.

Def Leppard is one of my all-time favorite bands, “Pour Some Sugar on Me” is one of their classic songs, and Billy Joel, God bless him, tries to spice up his monthly Madison Square Garden shows every once in a while.

So he had Joe Elliott, the band’s lead singer, come out for a duet on “Pour Some Sugar on Me” with him Sunday night.

Very freaking cool. 1989 me would be freaking out if I saw this live. (By the way, how incredible is fan-taken live concert footage quality these days? Remember when it used to be all grainy and out of focus?)

**And finally today, oh man, Tuesday was a glorious day for me and the other tennis nuts out there. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal both won their quarterfinals at Roland Garros, and that means on Friday morning, we get Fedal 39, the 39th meeting ever between two of the 5-6 greatest men’s tennis players of all time.

Yes, after eight years of them not playing each other at the French Open, and four years after Federer last played in Paris at this clay-court Slam, we get another installment of one of the best rivalries in the history of the sport.

The enormous Fed fan in me wants to believe Roger can beat the best clay-courter ever, that he’s been turning back time for a few weeks, and accomplish the one feat he never has: Beating Rafa in his backyard, Roland Garros.

But I dunno… it’s going to be incredibly tough. Nadal is playing so damn well right now, and he’s not tired at all from the cakewalk matches he’s been having so far at this tournament.

Whatever happens, it’s going to be special. These two incredible sportsman, both so worthy of emulation for the way they carry themselves on and off the court, might never play again at a Slam.

So I’m sure as hell going to savor this meeting Friday, however it turns out. And if you’re a sports fan, so should you.

A harrowing story of suicide among white males in the western U.S. An enormous boxing upset reminds some of Tyson-Douglas. And a scary moment at a Kamala Harris talk makes me very nervous

Not to bring you down on a Monday, but all across the American West, middle-aged white men are killing themselves at an alarming rate.

There are so many problems in America today, it’s very easy to lose sight of a trend like this.

I just read a fantastic, deeply-reported story in Rolling Stone from the gifted writer Stephen Rodrick, and this paragraph stopped me cold:

“The Centers for Disease Control recorded 47,173 suicides in 2017, and there were an estimated 1.4 million total attempts. Many of society’s plagues strike heavier at women and minorities, but suicide in America is dominated by white men, who account for 70 percent of all cases. Middle-aged men walk the point. Men in the United States average 22 suicides per 100,000 people, with those ages 45 to 64 representing the fastest-growing group, up from 20.8 per 100,000 in 1999 to 30.1 in 2017. The states with the highest rates are Montana, with 28.9 per 100,000 people; Alaska, at 27 per 100,000; and Wyoming, at 26.9 per 100,000 — all roughly double the national rate. New Mexico, Idaho and Utah round out the top six states. All but Alaska fall in the Mountain time zone.”

That’s incredible, that the rates are SO much higher in the West.

Some of the reasons for the suicide epidemic you might guess: Loneliness is a major cause of suicide, and many of these states just don’t have that many people. The “rugged man” ethos is so powerful out West, men are afraid to admit weakness, or that they need help.

But there are a lot of other reasons, too, which I won’t give away, but which Rodrick, a sufferer from depression himself, explores with a deft, heartfelt touch.

Another excerpt:

“No segment of the population is more likely to be impacted by these horrifying numbers than middle-aged men in rural America. They not only own guns and lack mental-health resources — by one estimate, there are 80 or so psychiatrists licensed to practice in Wyoming — but they also have chosen a life that values independence above all else.

“It becomes a deterministic thing,” says Pearson. “You are the type of man who has chosen to isolate himself from town, health care and other people. Then you shoot yourself, and you’re hours from a trauma center.”

This is an important story, so well-told. I highly recommend reading it.

**Next up today, this video clip above was disturbing on a few levels. So Kamala Harris was in California over the weekend, along with several other candidates for the Democratic Presidential nomination, and she was in the middle of a panel discussion at a forum sponsored by MoveOn.org, a liberal advocacy group (Full disclosure: Harris is one of three Democrats I’m supporting so far in the primaries, with Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren).

So Harris is up there, answering a question, and out of nowhere a man walks up on stage and snatches the microphone out of her hands. A few seconds go by, and one of the women on stage starts to step to the man, clearly a protester. A few more seconds go by… and them more seconds go by… and finally a few men put their hands on the interloper and try to lead him off the stage.

But man, it took a loooonnnnggg time for anyone to deal with him. He could’ve had a gun, a knife, anything. There was a serious lack of security at this event, and considering you’re dealing with someone who could be the next President (and oh by the way, who is African-American), it was pretty frightening.

Let’s hope this was a wake-up call to all others hosting Presidential candidates: Shit can get real very fast. This was really, really slow response.

**And finally today, it’s been an eternity since I paid attention to anything boxing-related, maybe as far back as the first Mayweather-Pacquiao fight. But my social media feeds were ablaze Saturday night with what’s being called one of the biggest upsets in boxing history.

Andy Ruiz Jr., a flabby-looking heavyweight with a mediocre previous career record, and signed to fight for the title only a month ago as an injury replacement, stunned heavyweight champ Anthony Joshua at Madison Square Garden. Ruiz knocked the undefeated Joshua down four times, and the referee finally stopped the fight in the seventh round.

Some people are calling this the second coming of Buster Douglas stunning Mike Tyson back in 1990, but I dunno, Tyson was so world-famous, and so dominant for so long, that his aura and mystique was way greater than that of Joshua.

Still, for a dying sport like boxing, this was a pretty huge deal. And good for Ruiz, becoming the first Mexican heavyweight champion ever.

Sports, man. You never freaking know.