Category Archives: Uncategorized

The best crime story press release quote ever, involves a dog stealing muffin mix. My favorite new T-shirt makes me love USC students. And Parisians mourn in song as Notre Dame burns

There are times when you read a sentence and it just stops you cold.

And you realize, once again, that for all the sadness and tragedy and anger in the world, sometimes a sentence stops you short and just makes you laugh and laugh and laugh. And then laugh again at how absurd life can sometimes be.

Let me take you to Wisconsin, and the city of Eau Claire, and one of its local Wal-Marts.

The stars of our story are a woman named Lisa Smith, her adult son Benny Vann, and a doggie named Bo.

From a press release after an incident at the local Wal-Mart:

Smith erratically started pulling apart store displays and placing them in her cart. She was asked to leave by staff and left the store to perform karate moves in the parking lot. In the meantime, [her dog] Bo got a box of Jiffy Cornbread Muffin Mix and tried to leave the store.

Smith was arrested and fought with officers — she also attempted to kick out a window on the squad car. While this was occurring, Vann had made his way to the back of the store and removed all of his clothing exposing himself to other customers.”

“The dog was not charged,” the police statement revealed. “Police issued him a warning for the theft.”

“The dog was not charged.”

I mean, COME ON! That’s the funniest thing I’ve read all week. How, exactly, would you charge the dog, and would you put tiny handcuffs around his paws? Would he be able to make his one phone call to his lawyer, or would he have to yelp for help, as they say on “Paw Patrol.”

“The dog was not charged.”

**Next up today, some enterprising USC students were out at the L.A. Festival of Books last week, and my buddy Jeff Pearlman and others who were there snapped this photo.

If you remember, several of the students caught up in the college admissions bribery scandal went to USC.

Just perfect.

**Finally today, a brief bit of uplift and solace after the devastating fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris this week. As someone who visited that incredible place (back in 2007, on my honeymoon with my ex-wife) and was awed by its beauty and history, I was saddened like many millions of others who watched this masterpiece of architecture and ancient symbols go aflame.

Monday night, while Notre Dame burned, I came across this short video of Parisians, singing “Ave Maria” in French outside the cathedral.

Just a short, beautiful moment. And the news that came the next day, that the main structure and two towers survived, were joyous pieces of information.

When beauty is destroyed, it’s a tragedy. But the spirit of these singers moved me a little.

 

Advertisements

Tiger Woods, improbably, wins the Masters. Is it OK to cheer the achievement and boo the achiever? Upon its series finale, remembering my favorite “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” song. And a lovely tribute from a son to his late father

It takes something rather extraordinary for me to pay attention to and care about, much less waste your team reading about, in the sport of golf.

Well, Sunday afternoon, something rather extraordinary happened. A 43-year-old man named Eldrick Woods (you may know him by his nickname) ended an 11-year major drought and improbably captured the Masters championship in Augusta, Ga.

Years after just about all golf watchers and journalists wrote off his chances of ever adding to his haul of 14 major trophies, after all the knee injuries and back injuries and car crashes and painkiller addiction, and alleged “sex addiction” and all of that… Tiger Woods won a freaking major again.

There was so much said about his improbable victory Sunday on the InterWebs, and 95 percent of it was marveling at the comeback and saluting Woods’ transformation.

By all accounts, Woods is a changed man at age 43. He no longer thinks everyone in the world is beneath him, as he used to. He was miserably rude to fans, other golfers, caddies and others who worked for him, and most certainly to women, particularly his ex-wife.

He was arrogant, entitled, and so many other negative things that many of us who paid any attention to him at all were repulsed by him.

But he has apparently changed, as time and a body breaking down can humble anyone.

A golf commentator named Jason Sobel, who’s watched Tiger since this beginning, had this Tweet after Woods’ win that I thought was telling:

“We’ve seen Tiger Woods pleased after winning majors. We’ve seen him relieved. We’ve seen smug and cocky and proud. We’ve never before seen him this happy. Pure happiness on his face.”

So my question today is this: Is it possible to marvel and appreciate the achievement, while not applauding the person who did it? Lots of terrible men (and women) have done amazing things in the world of sports over the years. Ty Cobb was by all accounts a miserable bastard, yet is one of the best baseball players ever.

Lawrence Taylor, an awful human being, was maybe the best linebacker who ever played in the NFL. And there are a hundred more examples like that.

I guess my point is that it’s an incredible sports story what Woods did on Sunday, winning another Masters after such a long gap. And maybe he IS a changed man, kinder, friendlier, and a better all-around dude.

But he was such a jerk for so long, to so many, that I’m not sure I can feel happy for him.

If you disagree, please comment here, would love to get a dialogue going.

**Next up today, it wasn’t the highest-rated show ever, and I can’t say I watched all of it, but the wildly strange and hilarious “My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” wrapped a four-season run on the WB network last week, and it deserves to be saluted by all who love oddball, wacky, laugh-out-loud song parodies.

There have been so many over the years that Rachel Bloom and Co. have given us, from my old favorite “J.A.P. Rap Battle” (that’s Jewish American Princess for you unitiated), to “We Tapped that Ass” to “I Go To the Zoo.” All of those are classics.

But for sheer hilarity, this one is my favorite, from one male character (Santino Fontana) to Bloom, singing a delightful tune about a medical condition he claims he gave her.

I was singing this happily to my wife for the past week, so if you enjoy it too, you’re welcome.

**Finally today, a simply gorgeous piece of writing from one of my favorite newspaper writers working today, the Toronto Star’s Bruce Arthur. Bruce, normally a sportswriter but excellent in everything he writes, had a complicated, difficult relationship with his father, and after his Dad passed away a few weeks ago, Bruce had some complicated feelings.

Henry Arthur and his wife got a divorce when Bruce was 5, leading to the reasonable question “Why do you have to go, Dad?” Over the last few years Henry suffered from dementia, and became sadly a shell of his former self.

Just gorgeous writing here. Here’s an excerpt:

Once back to Canada, the decline was steady. On early visits my dad and I would walk in Beacon Hill Park and look at the totem pole and the peacocks and the ocean, and he was still partly there. Once I warned him not to bump his head on a cupboard door and said, “Watch your head,” and he grinned and said, “That’s what I’m trying to do.” Once he said, “It’s what you do with what you didn’t mean to do that matters.” I don’t remember why he said that, but it’s true.

And we would play pool for hours, because it was the last thing he could do at a high level, and that we could share. He was delighted when I made a good shot, or won a game; he was satisfied when he did. He would have about one moment of clarity per visit, but never more than one. Once he remembered we had walked there before. Another time we were driving back from the ocean and he said, “I made my way in the world with my mind, and it’s very hard to lose it.”

 

Good News Friday: A politician proposes an awesome bill to outlaw really long store receipts. The Dwyane Wade Budweiser ad upon his retirement is incredibly good. And an Indiana school district takes unused food and uses it for take-home meals

It’s Friday! That almost always means good things, and today means lots of good things, including the weather finally warming up, the NBA and NHL playoffs getting going, and most importantly in our family, today we have kindergarten orientation for our oldest. Which of course is impossible, because he was just born like three weeks ago.

Kindergarten? Seriously? Ah, time, you tricky, fast-moving beast, you.
Anyway, lots of good stuff came across my brain this week that I wanted to share, and first I want to start off with an issue in our society I think we can all get behind.

Democrats, Republicans, Independents, communists, whoever you are, we can all agree that NO ONE likes getting those 11-page long receipts from big box stores when we buy stuff, right?

We have so many pieces of long skinny paper floating around our house and car from Bed Bath and Beyond, we could throw a ticker tape parade for someone every day of the damn year. I mean seriously, does Best Buy just like killing trees and stuff?

Well fortunately, a California state assemblyman named Peter Ting has proposed a bill that would require businesses to provide electronic receipts by default unless a customer asks for a paper one.

Assembly Bill 161 has already passed the Legislature and has a good chance to become law.

If we are looking at reducing waste, probably the easiest thing we can do is get rid of the material that someone hands us that we don’t want that we hold onto until we get to the next trash can and then throw away,” said Nick Lapis of Californians Against Waste, a bill supporter.

According to this L.A. Times story, the American Forest and Paper Assn., a paper industry group that opposes the bill, estimates that the United States generates 180,000 tons of paper receipts each year. That, the group points out, is a small percentage of total paper waste.

Yeah but that’s a HUGE amount of paper waste! Good on ya, California and Mr. Peter Ting. I hope this bill passes in California and becomes the law, everywhere.

THIS is what I want politicians spending their time on, quality of life stuff!

**Next up today, it’s rare that I have two NBA items in my blog in the same week, but if you haven’t seen this amazing Dwyane Wade Budweiser ad, please take four minutes and watch it.

Wade, an NBA superstar and to some of you non-sports fans, the husband of actress Gabrielle Union, is retiring after a Hall of Fame career, and he has a well-known reputation for being a fantastic community leader and charitable individual.

So Budweiser recruited some of the “ordinary folks” whose lives Wade has touched, or inspired, and put together this remarkable spot.

And Charles Barkley said athletes aren’t role models.

Enjoy.

**And finally today, a school district in Elkhart, Ind. is teaming up with a local non-profit to send hungry students home with food on the weekends. 

A South Bend, Ind. non-profit (hey, that’s where presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg is the mayor!) called Cultivate Culinary is providing weekend meals to a small group of students in the elementary school pilot program.

From this story on the local Fox station’s site: “Mostly, we rescue food that’s been made but never served by catering companies, large food service businesses, like the school system,” said Jim Conklin of Cultivate Culinary. “You don’t always think of a school.”

It rescues the unused food.

“Over-preparing is just part of what happens,” said Conklin. “We take well-prepared food, combine it with other food and make individual frozen meals out if it.”

Twenty students will receive a backpack with eight individual frozen meals every Friday until the end of school.

“At Elkhart Community Schools, we were wasting a lot of food,” said Natalie Bickel, student services. “There wasn’t anything to do with the food. So they came to the school three times a week and rescued the food.”

Such a simple idea. So many poor students in this country rely on schools for sustenance, and sometimes only eat at school. But on weekends, and in the summer when school is out, the problem can be so great.

“It’s making a big impact,” said Melissa Ramey, who works for the town’s Chamber of Commerce. “It was heartbreaking to hear that children go home on the weekends and that they don’t have anything to eat.”

Good on a non-profit and the school system for teaming up to help solve a major issue. I hope this catches on nation-wide. A country that can’t feed its people… just not right.

 

A white NBA player writes a magnificent essay on “white privilege.” The high school baseball coach who set his field on fire to dry it. And Funny or Die’s new “Zack Morris is trash” video slays me.

There have been many, many takes over the past several years, not starting with, but certainly being kicked into high gear by, the Black Lives Matter movement, about white privilege and how so many white people don’t admit how real it is.

It applies to so many areas of society, from the way law enforcement treat people of color, to how minorities are treated by employers, by Starbucks baristas, by college admissions directors… I could go on and on.

One area where “white privilege” doesn’t get talked about often is in the NBA. Because, let’s face it, it is a pro sports league dominated by people of color. Caucasians in the NBA are often a running joke, like when a team is up big in the fourth quarter the home fans call for the scrubs at the end of the bench, often white, to get in (Jack Haley, I’m looking at you, sir.)

So it was refreshing, and a little stunning, to read this fantastic, heartfelt essay from Kyle Korver, a sharpshooting white forward from the Utah Jazz. In beautiful, concise language, Korver talks about how he as a white man took so much for granted, his reflexive blaming of a teammate when the teammate got beat up by the police, and so much more.

I can’t recommend this Korver essay, from The Player’s Tribune, highly enough. Here’s an excerpt, really gripping stuff, and stunning coming from a current NBA player:

There’s an elephant in the room that I’ve been thinking about a lot over these last few weeks. It’s the fact that, demographically, if we’re being honest: I have more in common with the fans in the crowd at your average NBA game than I have with the players on the court.

And after the events in Salt Lake City last month, and as we’ve been discussing them since, I’ve really started to recognize the role those demographics play in my privilege. It’s like — I may be Thabo’s friend, or Ekpe’s teammate, or Russ’s colleague; I may work with those guys. And I absolutely 100% stand with them.

But I look like the other guy.

And whether I like it or not? I’m beginning to understand how that means something.

What I’m realizing is, no matter how passionately I commit to being an ally, and no matter how unwavering my support is for NBA and WNBA players of color….. I’m still in this conversation from the privileged perspective of opting in to it. Which of course means that on the flip side, I could just as easily opt out of it. Every day, I’m given that choice — I’m granted that privilege — based on the color of my skin.

In other words, I can say every right thing in the world: I can voice my solidarity with Russ after what happened in Utah. I can evolve my position on what happened to Thabo in New York. I can be that weird dude in Get Out bragging about how he’d have voted for Obama a third term. I can condemn every racist heckler I’ve ever known.

But I can also fade into the crowd, and my face can blend in with the faces of those hecklers, any time I want.

I realize that now. And maybe in years past, just realizing something would’ve felt like progress. But it’s NOT years past — it’s today. And I know I have to do better. So I’m trying to push myself further.

I’m trying to ask myself what I should actually do.

Really great stuff. I commend Korver for having the honesty and courage to put all this out there.

**Next up, I can’t remember if I’ve blogged before about the incredible Funny or Die series “Zack Morris is Trash,” about “Saved by the Bell” character Zack Morris and how awful his actions were if you break them down.

But if I haven’t, I should have. And now I rectify it by giving you what I think might be their masterpiece video, this four-minute takedown of the episode in which Screech gets hit by lightning and can suddenly see the future, and Zack tries to take advantage.

I laughed and laughed at this one. Well done, FOD.

**And finally today, I always love when a coach has a truly nutty idea, tries it, and it blows up in his face.

Let me introduce you to Steve Ross, the head coach of Clearfield High School’s varsity baseball team.

It seems Clearfield’s field was very wet before a late-March game, and to dry it out, Mr. Ross decided to allegedly pour 15-20 gallons of unleaded gasoline onto the team’s home field.

Well, the good news, the field got dry! The bad news? Well, the field looked like my grill after a nice summer barbecue.

After a parent noted that the field smelled like gas, a formal complaint was filed, and Ross has now been put on administrative leave.

There are many, many jokes in here about “lighting a fire” under his team, but I’m just going to let you all make them.

Instead, let’s let Jim Morrison take us out…

 

A Notre Dame women’s coach gives a fantastic speech about equality. A pretty awesome world record as a small N.Y. town becomes a human shamrock. And a rugby singer in an odd outfit croons his heart out

There was a whole lot of great sports stuff that happened this past weekend. There were two pretty good men’s Final Four games, a controversial-as-hell ending to the Auburn-Virginia game (my thoughts are that yes, Virginia got away with a double dribble but there was a clear Auburn foul before Ty Jerome double-dribbled, and that most definitely WAS a foul on Auburn at the end of the game, giving UVA’s Kyle Guy three free throws, the last of which was the winning point), and a remarkable women’s national title game, won by Baylor.

My Brooklyn Nets clinched a playoff spot, shocking fans like me, and assorted other baseball and hockey news.

But for my money, this (below) was the most impactful and important two minutes of sports in the last few days. Notre Dame women’s coach Muffet McGraw, a couple days before her team would lose a crushing national final to Baylor, talking about the lack of equality, and opportunity, in women’s sports as compared to men.

She’s angry, she’s passionate, and she’s smart. And I just think, watching this, that there will be girls inspired to grow up and change things, and maybe, must maybe, it’ll change a few men’s minds, too.

This is fabulous. Please watch this 2-minute speech.

**Next up today, hat tip to my good friend and loyal blog reader Will for sending this to me, and even if St. Patrick’s Day was a few weeks ago now, this is worth seeing.

In the little upstate N.Y. town of Elmira, a new world record was set for the most people ever forming a human shamrock. This video, shot in 4K, is pretty mesmerizing: I watched it three times and was blown away each time.

If you’re wondering, and of course you are, there were more than 1,200 people making that shamrock.

I love this country.

**And finally today, it’s Monday and if you’re like me, you need a little pick me up. So I give you a former rugby player from France named Sebastien Chabal, belting out the great song by The Proclaimers “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” at a recent tournament in Hong Kong.

While, of course, dressed as a caveman.

I SO want to go to Karoake Night in a New York City bar with Sebastien dressed like this. We totally would win.

Have a wonderful day. And if at all possible, come to work dressed as a caveman tomorrow.

Good News Friday: A principal in a New Jersey high school goes above and beyond. The NBA’s “Greek Freak” shows some love to a small fan. And an incredible story about a Mob boss’ son, who helped lock up his father and lived to tell.

And a happy first Friday in April to all you good people! It’s Final Four weekend, I wish I had a Duke game to look forward to but hey, should be terrific matchups on Saturday.

Hope the weather is finally warm where you are; lots of good stuff to get to on Good News Friday this week.

First up, a high school principal named Akbar Cook at West Side H.S. in Newark, had a big problem.

A lot of his students weren’t coming to school, because their clothes were dirty and they were getting bullied for it.

So Cook decided to do something drastic:

Two years ago Cook wrote a proposal and received a $20,000 grant to get five commercial washers and dryers installed at an old storage room at the school, and now his students have a place to clean their clothes and literally wash away the stigma that bothered them.

“I think we really put the microscope on basic needs of kids. Everyone wants the high test scores, everyone wants them to perform well. But if the kid doesn’t feel confidence in just coming to school, being that person we know they can be, then what are we doing,” Cook said.

That’s just one of the great things Cook is doing at the school; one man, doing great for his community.

**Next up today, the story of this NBA season has been the incredible emergence of the Milwaukee Bucks and their young superstar, Giannis Antetokounmpo, aka, “The Greek Freak.”

Giannis is, by all accounts, a humble and hard-working kid who has amazing basketball gifts, and he’s led the Bucks to the best record in the Eastern Conference this year.

But what he does off the court, and his basic humanity, is what makes so many love him. Take this story; last week at an autograph-signing event in Wisconsin he met a young girl named Lily who has been drawing pictures of him for more than a year.

Giannis is delighted as she hands them to him, but then he gets up and goes the extra mile: He gives her a huge bearhug as the tears start to flow from her eyes.

“Thank you so much. This is amazing,” he said. “You did all this? Thank you.”

You know Lily will remember that hug for the rest of her life.

**Finally today, a fantastic piece of journalism from Zac Keefer of the Indianapolis Star newspaper.

Sonny Franzese was once one of the most feared Mafia leaders in all of the U.S., rising to No. 2 in the Colombo crime family. His sons went into the family business, of course, but Michael Franzese never loved the life. After leaving the mob he fell into a severe drug addiction, and finally hit rock bottom.

That’s when the FBI got ahold of him, and asked him to help them put away his father once and for all.

And Michael did. He wore a wire for months, and eventually testified against his old man. When Keefer found him, he was living in the witness protection program in Indianapolis, but recently Michael decided to come out of the shadows, and confront who he really was.

He knows leaving the witness program could get him killed. But he doesn’t care.

Here’s the lede to this remarkable piece of journalism:

Some pieces of his old life never left him, so they just sit there, all these years later, crammed into his mind’s darkest corners. You wanna off a guy? He remembers how. You tail him. You study him. You wait. John Franzese Jr. knows how easy a mark he’d be.

“You look for patterns,” he says. “I’m not hard to look for.”

Not anymore. Same breakfast at the same Panera Bread, every morning for 11 years. Same route to Mass at St. Matthew, every Wednesday night for a decade. Same recovery meetings, week after week, year after year. These days, routine is everything. In the old days, routine got you killed.

They’d follow him, to the converted two-car garage on the northside of Indianapolis he calls home, the one tucked behind a halfway house where he helps a half-dozen men stay sober. They’d bust through the door and hurry through the kitchen, past the Bible verses tacked to the wall, past the handwritten notes from the high school students he speaks to and the addicts he counsels. They’d find him in the bedroom. It’d be over quickly. He wouldn’t have a chance.

“You know how easy a setup this is?” he shrugs. “I don’t keep guns here.”

It’s really a wonderful story, told to Keefer over many months. You can tell he earned Frazese’s trust. What a tale. Good to see great local stories done so well.

An awful mistaken identity murder in Atlanta scares me. Monica Lewinsky, 20 years after the scandal, in a great interview with John Oliver. And new tracking technology scares me, times 2

There is so much awfulness in the world, so much crime, so many examples of bad things happening to good people, or bad things happening for no reason at all, that we all get numb to it.

We hear a news headline, or read about something, or overhear two people on the street discussing some tragic event, and it passes by us in minutes, maybe even seconds.

I don’t usually dwell on individual tragedies in this space, but this one, for some reason, hit me hard. I’m just going to lay out the currently-known facts for you of the Atlanta-area murder last weekend of a 19-year-old African-American man named Omarian Banks.

Banks was on his way in a Lyft car to his girlfriend’s apartment complex at around 12:30 a.m. Saturday morning. He called the girlfriend, Zsakeria Mathis, 23, a minute before arriving to ask her to open the door for him.

Banks then knocked on an apartment door he thought belonged to Mathis. When no one answered, he started to walk away. Within a few seconds, a 32-year-old white male named Darryl Bynes opened the door to his balcony.

After Banks apologized for knocking on the wrong door, Bynes fired his gun three times, killing the teenager.

Bynes was arrested and charged with murder.

According to this New York Times story, Ms. Mathis and Mr. Banks, who turned 19 in March, had been living at the apartment complex for eight months, said Lisa Johnson, Bynes’ mother. She said Mr. Bynes’s apartment looked identical to her son’s from the outside, making it easy to mistake for his own.

“I don’t understand. I am dealing with the why,” Johnson said. “How someone could be that evil to just shoot someone that clearly made a mistake and was begging you for their life? This was a kid that was fleeing.”

WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH THIS WORLD???? A 19-year-old kid knocks on the door of the wrong apartment, tries to apologize, and is murdered for his troubles.

A mother is without her son, a girlfriend is without her boyfriend, and all those who loved Omarian Banks will never get to see him alive again.

Sometimes I wonder just what kind of world I’m bringing up my sons in. I really do.

**Next up today, I’m a few weeks late on this but I must share this remarkable piece from a recent “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” episode about public shaming. During his long segment about the dangers and horror of people who become “viral” for often incorrect reasons, or have one mistake they made in their life follow them forever on social media, John Oliver sat down with Monica Lewinsky to talk about this subject, which obviously she knows so much about.

Incredibly, it’s been 21 years since the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky scandal, and for whatever you may think of Monica, she has endured a living hell over the past two decades.

Remarkably, based on this interview she did with Oliver and some other research I did on her after watching it, she seems to have come out the other side braver, wiser, and committed to trying to be a positive light in the world.

I really, really enjoyed this 10-minute interview, and feel badly that she had to suffer as much as she did. I think if you watch it you’ll find it very revealing, and find yourself rooting for her in life.

**Finally today, a couple of recent stories have me pretty freaked out about the future of tracking technology, and people knowing where we are at all times.

First, “60 Minutes” did a story about Pegasus, this amazingly accurate software, sold by an Israeli company to governments around the world, that can crack any smartphone and trace just about anyone it wants.  Of course the NSO Group, Pegasus’ owner and developer, said it doesn’t sell the software to terrorists or other groups seeking to do evil. But after watching this, not so sure I trust them on that one.

The other story much closer to home and one that actually affects our lives, was revealed to me almost off-the-cuff, in a profile of a writer named Lauren Duca, who I have kinda sorta heard of because Fox News moron host Tucker Carlson seems to have an odd obsession with her, talking about her articles in Teen Vogue and other places and denigrating her way more often than a non-obsessed person should.

But anyway, my point is this: In this profile on Jezabel.com was the following paragraph:

Duca repeatedly viewed, but did not respond to, six emails I sent her requesting comment over a period of nearly two months. Duca has an auto-reply that reads, in part, “Due to the absurd volume of emails I receive here, I am not able to respond to everything, and I also miss a lot of stuff. I will try to get back to you, but, if not: good vibes only!!” However, I know she opened them because for professional emails, I use a tracking service, which shows how often they were opened; the service showed that Duca viewed every email multiple times from her iPhone, her Gmail account, and another mail client.)

Wait… what??? There are email tracking services that show how you when and where a person has viewed an email you sent them, and how often?

That’s just creepy. And very, very odd. And disturbing. I think I’m going to try to go to sleep now. I’m not confident I’ll achieve success.

If you’re interested and brave enough to check out how these tracking services work, click here.

I’m going to climb under my covers now, thank you.

An all-time great weekend of NCAA Tournament hoops ends with four thrillers, and my Dukies coming up short. I have some thoughts. And “The Princess Bride” as a musical? I’m thrilled and terrified

Wow. What an incredible, amazing, heart-stopping weekend for the sport of college basketball that I love so dearly.

If you hate sports, or college basketball, you have my permission to stop reading now and skip to “The Princess Bride” photo below.

Because I have A LOT to say about the most incredible Elite 8 weekend I’ve ever seen, and I say that even though I’m super-depressed typing this, since Duke lost in a nail-biter for the second straight year in this round, coming agonizingly close to the Final Four then falling short.

— OK, first of all, I can’t remember an Elite 8 weekend that saw all four games be awesome and come down to the wire. Texas Tech, who I saw live at MSG against Duke in December and was super-impressed by, just played unbelievable defense against Gonzaga and scored just enough to pull out a win. Jarrett Culver and Co. were so tenacious, and played so well, that I think they might just win the whole thing.

— The next Elite 8 matchup, man, we’ll be talking about that one for years. Purdue and Virginia, both desperate to make the Final 4 for the first time since the 1980s, played a spectacular game. In the second half I was screaming with glee at my TV many times, as Purdue star Carsen Edwards and Virginia’s Kyle Guy went shot for shot, draining ridiculous 3-pointer after ridiculous 3-pointer.

It was thrilling, it was exhausting, and it was capped by a sensational play by Virginia’s Kihei Clark, who tossed a magnificent pass to his teammate Mamadi Diakite in the final second for a game-tying basket.  Check this out, what a pass.

Such a cliche when you see a spectacular game end and say “It’s a shame someone had to lose.” But in Purdue-Virginia, it really was. It helps that these are two clean programs with no scandals attached to them, and there was great sportsmanship shown throughout the game. Carsen Edwards, I salute you. Just an amazing performance.

— On to the Sunday games, where the “Cheater’s Bowl” matchup of Auburn (coached by notorious cheater Bruce Pearl) took on John Calipari and Kentucky. As you know if you read this space, I loathe Kentucky and was thrilled to see them go down. Auburn’s guards, Harper and Brown, were sensational, and I was surprised at how little resistance the Wildcats gave in overtime, P.J. Washington excluded. Sometimes, freshmen play like freshmen. Tremendous accomplishment for Auburn, and I believe alum Charles Barkley may have wept on the CBS air after the win.

— And now, time for my therapy. All year, despite the incredible talent of Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett, I knew Duke was a little bit fragile, and not quite as good as it should be. They couldn’t hit 3’s, they couldn’t make free throws, and as always, Mike Krzyzewski never developed his bench guys so the starters were often exhausted at the end of games.

And all three of those problems showed up Sunday. Look, Michigan State is a fantastic team, led by an all-time great coach in Tom Izzo, and the better squad won Sunday. I’m happy for Izzo because he’s a good dude and has been trying for a long long time to finally beat Duke in a big game.

But man, the Blue Devils shot themselves in the foot so many times Sunday. From R.J. missing that free throw at the end, to no reliable outside shooter to take the pressure off Zion inside, to once again Duke’s players looking totally wiped out at the end because K refused to play his bench, there was so much self-inflicted damage here.

Part of me (the rational part of my brain) realizes it’s ridiculous to ever complain when a Duke season ends, this team has given me so much joy and titles over my past 33 years as a fan, that anything they win now is just greedy.

But the other part of me, the irrational sports fan side, still takes these losses hard, because every Duke team is good enough to win a championship, and the margins are so thin, and two years in a row to come thisclose and come up short… ugh. I know I’m spoiled. But man, just once I’d like to see K use his bench more, and have Duke have gotten the ball to Zion more down in the final minute… Ah, to hell with it. Congrats to Michigan State. Go Sparty.

— Finally, sportswriter Jon Rothstein echoed my exact sentiments a few minutes after the Duke-Michigan State game ended, when he Tweeted this:
“Dear Zion Williamson, Thanks for being the best player college basketball has seen in an awfully long time. It was one hell of a ride. Best of luck in future endeavors. Sincerely, America.”

It was a privilege watching that young man, on and off the court. What an incredible talent. Please, basketball Gods, don’t put Zion on the Knicks. He doesn’t deserve that miserable fate.

**Finally today, now for something completely different. More than 30 years after it was released in movie theaters, when I first discovered it and laughed my ever-loving tuchus off watching it, “The Princess Bride” may be about to get another life… as a musical.

Yes, that’s right, the movie that I love as much as any other, ever, the movie that gave us Princess Buttercup and “As you Wish” and ROUS’es and “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die,” is now set to be a musical.

According to this story on People.com, writers have been hired to turn the classic movie into a musical, and I’m honestly not sure how I feel about it.

On the one hand, it sounds like blasphemy. “The Princess Bride” is so many things: funny, smart, emotional, wise, tender, and just an incredible piece of art. But what it’s not? A film with singing. I mean, I guess you could make a musical number out of Fezzik’s rhymes on the boat (“Are there rocks ahead? If there are, we’ll all be dead.”), and maybe the adventures in the Fire Swamp could be entertaining through song. But I’m terrified it would be terrible.

But on the other hand… maybe they’ll honor the movie and the songs will be terrific and the acting is great (is there a 500-pound Broadway star who can -recreate Andre the Giant’s Fezzik?) and it’ll be wonderful.

I dunno. I have a feeling I’ll be buying tickets to see it. Unless I’m in a land war in Asia at the time…

A new edition of the Daddy Chronicles, with thoughts on what makes a person like a certain song, a toddler who stands uncomfortably close to teachers, and a budding train engineer

And a Happy Friday my fellow denizens of Earth! A decent night of Sweet 16 games last night, highlighted by that insane Tennessee-Purdue game, won by the Boilermakers in OT.

It’s been a few months since I’ve done a Daddy Chronicles, so with so much going on with my boys I wanted to get it all down before things changed again, if that makes sense.

Anyway, hope you enjoy reading these half as much as I enjoy writing them. Time to dip into the waters of a pre-K boy with way too much to say, and a toddler who wants to say so much but can’t quite do it yet…

–OK so this has been on my mind for a while, and it fascinates me, and I’ve spent hours, literally, thinking about it. So Nate has gotten more and more into music over the past few months, and so like a good Dad I’ve tried to expose him to all kinds of music that I like.

And without fail, no matter what song he’s never heard comes on the radio or I play from my phone, within five seconds he’s decided if he likes it or not.

Literally, five seconds. With “New Sensation” by INXS, he liked it within four seconds. With “Wish you Were Here” from Pink Floyd, loved it in five seconds. But with “Hotel California,” I got a scream from the back seat of “I don’t like it!” within a few beats. Same with “Raspberry Beret” by Prince: Not for him.

And it got me to thinking: How does he know that fast that he likes it or not? Is there something in the guitar chord, or the sound of the lead singer, or the way the drums hit his little ears? I mean, as an adult, if I’m confronted with an unfamiliar tune, I’ll give it a minute or two, hear the lyrics, and all that.

But with Nate, it’s instantaneous. And scientifically, I really am curious as to how that works. Any of my readers who happen to be pediatricians or experts in music, please fill me in.

Because I REALLY want my boy to like “Hotel California,” dammit.

— So a couple more Nate things the last few months. First, my boy has become a little John D. Rockefeller, or more accurately, Frank Lloyd Wright or something, because Nate is obsessed with building and re-building his train set. He knows exactly what he wants to do, makes it perfect, then takes it apart and makes it differently.

It’s a whole new world for me, learning about switches, and supports, and curves, and all this train lingo that my son suddenly knows by heart. And also, I’ve learned that it’s possible to “play with trains wrong,” because several times in the past month he’s told me I’m doing it incorrectly.

Thank God I have him to teach me.

But seriously, the kid seems really good at the mechanical brain stuff, which is 100 percent genetically, from my wife.

— The other change in Nate has been his love of Uno. You remember Uno, right? The card game with the multiple colors, sorta like Crazy Eights? I’ve played it more in the past month than in the previous 40 years of my life. He wants to play morning, noon and night. And so we have. He promised us we’d “take a break” from Uno a few weeks ago.

That lasted one day.

— As for our newest model, Lewis child 2.0, Theo is growing every day, mostly in his belly since the little pischer never stops eating. If you don’t have food in front of him immediately at all times during meals, he takes it as a personal affront and wails to a degree I’m not sure any opera star can reach.

But that’s mostly normal, I think. What creeps me out a little (though other people think it’s adorable) is how at every one of our classes we take together he now stands insanely close to the teacher.

Whether it’s at music class, at story time at the library (above) or in his little gym class, my second son wanders up to the grown-up in charge, gets about two feet away from them, and just… stares. Not upset, not asking for a hug from them, just kinda, you know, staring at them as they do their thing.

This goes on for 10, 15 minutes at a time sometimes. I’m guessing he just finds grownups other than his parents endlessly fascinating. And the teachers don’t seem to mind, thankfully.

I hope he doesn’t grow up to be a “close talker” like Judge Reinhold’s character in “Seinfeld.”

— Also new for Theo: Frantically waving goodbye to people, often long after they’ve actually left the room; saying “Dada” and maybe “Papa” (his Papa Steve is SURE he’s been saying this for months, and now he might actually be right); and finally, Theo has become a big fan of taking all the books off his shelves, then trying to rearrange them, quite unsuccessfully.

Hey, it’s an acquired skill. He’s also become fond of “knee-hugs,” where he runs to people he likes (fortunately I’m one of them) and throws his arms around their knees, since that’s as high as he could reach.

“Knee-hugs” are now my favorite thing, ever. Being a Dad is just the best!

Thoughts on the Mueller Report: After 2 years, let’s see what’s IN it. The NHL’s Hurricanes continue to wow with unique celebrations. And the guy who tried to kill a cockroach by throwing a gun at it.

It’s finally here. After two years, 37 indictments, 199 charges and more breathless speculation than any government document since, well, maybe ever, last weekend the Mueller Report was finally turned in, and for the last few days we’ve been waiting for Attorney General William Barr to release it.

I have a very sinking feeling we’re going to be waiting a long time. And that’s a disgrace.

All we’ve heard for years from our current Buffoon-in-Chief was how awful and horrible this Mueller probe was, and what a bunch of crooked Democrats were running it, and it’s awful, disgraceful, disgusting, no collusion, no obstruction, nothing of any sort.

And now, now that Mueller’s report allegedly says that there as no Russian collusion by or on behalf of Trump, but there may have been obstruction of justice, Trump and his stoolies don’t want the report to be made public?

Bullshit. First of all, and this should be obvious: All we know so far about what’s in the report comes from Barr, who was just installed last month and is on record being a very big Trump loyalist and harsh critic of the Mueller probe. I trust him as far as I can throw him.

Second of all, even what little has come out about the report seems colored by Barr’s bias. It is HE that says there was not enough evidence to charge Trump on obstruction of justice; that’s not at all necessarily what Mueller found.

And finally, hey Trumpers: If this report is such a slam-dunk win for your wonderful President, why wouldn’t you want everyone to see it? Wouldn’t you want the whole country, the whole world, to read every word of it, if it truly says that your man is innocent, and this whole thing was a bunch of malarkey?

What have you got to hide?

There is so, so much more to be learned about this report that has consumed American politics for two years, and it’s a travesty if we don’t get to see the whole thing. Every Senator and Congressman ought to be demanding the full report be released; just a small summary of findings by an AG who was confirmed just a few weeks ago is not anywhere near sufficient.

Release the whole report. Let’s see the damn thing, we’ve waited long enough for it.

–So it’s late March and hockey season is winding down and while my Rangers are far, far removed from the upcoming playoffs, there’s one team I’m absolutely hoping reaches the postseason: The Carolina Hurricanes, owners of the most creative, awesome and fun victory celebrations in all of sports.

For this entire season, when the Hurricanes win at home, they’ve punctuated the victory with totally-different, off-the-wall celebrations. They’ve played Quidditch, they’ve pretended to compete in the old Nintendo game “Duck Hunt,” and have had so much fun doing other celebrations that old fuddy-duddies in hockey hate them, which of course means they’re doing something right. Here are a couple of their recent celebrations: Above, the team playing “Duck, Duck, Goose”, and below, a March Madness-themed game.

I love these so much. Here’s a story ranking their 20 best cellys, with videos linking to them.

** And finally today, some bizarre stories just leap out at me and demand to be put in the blog, so I can share it with you fine people. This, my friends, is one of those stories.

Meet the unnamed 50-year-old Michigan man in this story. So the fella, who is in a wheelchair, sees a cockroach in his house and wants to kill it. Like most of us, he’s freaked out and wants to kill it as soon as possible (When I lived in Florida, I killed dozens of cockroaches in my apartment, because they’re everywhere. It’s rarely fun to have them as roommates).

Unlike most of us, though, this fella decides to throw a gun at the cockroach to try to kill it. Well, more accurately, he said he threw a shoe at the roach, and there was a gun inside the shoe (Why someone would be hiding a firearm in their shoe, is a question I really would like to explore further. But that’s for another blog post).

When the man threw the shoe at the roach, the gun went off and shot the man in the foot.

He’s apparently recovering from his wounds. My sides, though, may never recover from laughing upon hearing this story.

Somebody please get this man a can of RAID, pronto!

Some people really are just too stupid for words.