Category Archives: Uncategorized

FOX sportscaster Joe Buck hilariously calls everyday life, because he’s bored. A Swiss tennis star (not Fed) has a creative “birthday party.” And Florida police finally apprehend a fugitive cow

And so we carry on, into week three for most of us of this quarantine thing, and it has led to some strange conversations in my house. For example, for two nights last week Shelley and I made March Madness-style brackets of who we’d most, and least, like to be quarantined with if we had to, with the only rules being we weren’t necessarily together.

One night we did family members, with hilarious arguments like “No way that cousin is a 4 seed, they’re way higher than that!” or “Oh that’s an impossible matchup, I wouldn’t want to be quarantined with EITHER of them!”.

Then we did our “couple friends” we’d most like to be quarantined with, and that was equally hilarious and difficult.

What I’m saying is, folks, is that it’s getting wacky up in here. And I’m sure in your house, too. We’re trying not to watch the news or check Twitter every few minutes because it’s just so awful, especially as the number of deaths and hospitalizations increase here in the epicenter of New York (Check this statement by Dr. Fauci for a scary thought). So we’re trying to keep things as light as possible, and having a good time with headlines like “Trump consulted Alex Rodriguez about coronavirus pandemic.”

As Charlie Pierce wisely said, well, A-Rod was an amateur pharmacist.”

You know who is trying to keep it light, too? The awesome sports broadcaster Joe Buck. The legendary FOX football and baseball guy is bored out of his mind with no sports to call, so the other day on Twitter he asked readers to send him everyday events in their life for him to narrate. He agreed to narrate them in exchange for them donating to a charity cause related to the quarantine, which is awesome.

And fabulously, they did send him videos. Here are a couple of my favorites: The one above is of a father playing indoor hoops with his little son, and the Dad not letting the kid score on him.

And then this one is fabulous, too, “Bruce Wayne” and “Rocco” fighting over a stick, their usual Tuesday morning tussle. Love it!

OK I’m sorry, just discovered one more great one, animal-related. Joe Buck is amazing.

**OK, next up, another creative video of someone doing something way cool with video, something they would never do if we weren’t in the middle of a global pandemic.

Swiss tennis star Stan Wawrinka turned 35 the other day, so he had a few “friends” over for his birthday party.

Brilliantly done, Stan. As beautiful as one of your one-handed backhands (and pardon me as I sniff, sniff today at the news Wimbledon will announce this week it’s cancelling the 2020 Tournament.)

**And finally, a little Florida crime humor because, unlike protective masks and Lysol, that never is in short supply.

Last week police in the Sunshine State finally arrested a fugitive who’d eluded them for months.

This fugitive was smart, wily, and weighed a few thousand pounds so should’ve been easy to catch.

It was a cow.

On March 18, Pembroke Pines police officers apprehended the female cow, which had spent the past few months on the lam, eluding authorities, police said.

The previous week, the department asked the public to be on the lookout for the brown cow, which they is “faster than it looks” and a “talented fence jumper.” While police didn’t list the size of the fugitive, cows weigh roughly 1,600 pounds.  (How fast can a 1,600 pound be that he’s faster than he looks?)

For several months a loose cow has been seen wandering in the area of Sheridan Street & I-75,” Pembroke Pines Police Department wrote on Facebook last week. “It has managed to evade capture by both our officers & assisting cow herders since January, due to its surprising speed and amazing fence jumping skills.”

I would freaking LOVE to see that cow jump a fence. Thankfully, the cow has been apprehended and safely returned to, I don’t know, wherever 1,600 pound fugitive cows get sent back to.

Florida, don’t ever change.

Good News Friday: The landlord in Maine who told his tenants there’s no rent in April. An amazing Rube Goldberg-like contraption will astonish you. And the great Vin Scully offers words of hope.

Happy Friday, y’all! Hope you are all surviving the isolation OK; we are two weeks into this and I swear it feels like it’s been two months.

But even as my state, New York, sees its number of cases equal about HALF of the total in the rest of America combined, I’m trying to stay positive and optimistic. My wife and I had an awesome time Thursday night making a March Madness style bracket to determine which one of our relatives we’d most like to be isolated with during a pandemic.

We seeded everyone and had them face off in matchups like the NCAA Tournament would, and argued over who got placed where (“Oh come on, no way your aunt is seeded that low, she’s amazing!”) and had a blast figuring out who would beat who.

Highly recommend doing this with your family.

Lots of good news to share this week, but I want to start up in the great state of Maine (well, I’ve never been there, but everyone seems to say it’s great so sure, I’ll call it great).

According to this story on Upworthy.com, Nathan Nichols, a landlord in Maine, announced on Facebook that he would not be collecting rent from his tenants in April due to the COVID-19 virus outbreak. He says they are service and hourly workers who may not be able to make much money in the coming months.

“COVID19 is going to cause serious financial hardship for service and hourly workers around the country,” Nichols wrote.

“I own a two unit in South Portland and all of my tenants are in this category. Because I have the good fortune and of being able to afford it and the privilege of being in the owner class, I just let them know I would not be collecting rent in April,” he continued.

Nichols made his decision public to inspire other landlords to “consider giving your tenants some rent relief as well.”

Once Nichols’ post started to circulate widely, he followed up a few days later by showing a post from another landlord who said she, too wouldn’t be collecting rent for April.

Hourly workers are getting pummeled in this pandemic, whether they’re a domestic worker, a restaurant or bar employee, or any other kind of service-industry person, it’s brutal out there for the millions who make our lives better and easier.

Great to see a few landlords stepping up.

**Next up today, I think I’ve featured this guy’s videos before but this new one is truly incredible. From the brilliant mind of Joseph’s Machines, I give you this amazing Rube Goldberg-live video, showing a meal done to perfection.

I cannot even imagine how long it took this guy to get this exactly right. Thousands of hours, I think.

**Finally today, baseball season would’ve started this week, which made millions sad because the national pastime is on hold like the rest of life.

So Bill Plaschke, an outstanding sports columnist for the L.A. Times, called one man guaranteed to cheer him up: Legendary Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully.

Scully, who is now 92, just retired a few years ago from his Hall of Fame career, and happily gave Plaschke lots of positive thoughts to keep in mind.

Here’s just a short excerpt, but the whole column is heartwarming reading. God bless Vin Scully, a national treasure.

From depths of depression we fought our way through World War II, and if we can do that, we can certainly fight through this. I remember how happy and relieved and thrilled everybody was … when they signed the treaty with Japan, and the country just danced from one way or another. It’s the life of the world, the ups and downs, this is a down, we’re going to have to realistically accept it at what it is and we’ll get out of it, that’s all there is to it, we will definitely get out of it.”

“A lot of people will look at it, it might bring them closer to their faith, they might pray a little harder, a little longer, there might be other good things to come out of it,” he says. “And certainly, I think people are especially jumping at the opportunity to help each other, I believe that’s true, so that’s kind of heartwarming, with all of it, it brings out some goodness in people, and that’s terrific, that’s terrific.”

 

Trump not enacting the Defense Production Act means he’ll have thousands of deaths on his hands. An Italian man hilariously “goes out” for coffee. A soccer player does some amazing juggling. And

 

Sometimes, you just have to do what your mother tells you to do.

Even when you’re 44, married and with two kids and spent much of the day trying to find your 2.5 year old’s favorite blankie over and over again.

So for days now the woman who gave me life has been as angry as I’ve ever seen her, about Donald Trump refusing to enact the Defense Production Act. And she has every right to be angry, as do the tens of thousands of people who will die over the next few weeks because overstressed hospitals don’t have the equipment, or the room, needed to save lives.

It is unconscionable, absolutely unconscionable, that New York governor Andrew Cuomo says his state (MY state) needs 30,000 more ventilators and got only 400 from the federal government.

“You want a pat on the back for sending 400 ventilators?” Cuomo said. “What are we going to do with 400 ventilators when we need 30,000 ventilators? You’re missing the magnitude of the problem, and the problem is defined by the magnitude.”

Nurses are re-using masks, making DIY equipment and turning Hefty trash bags into gowns because this pandemic is spiraling out of control, and our President, with his head firmly up his derriere, refuses to compel all U.S. companies that can, to produce war-time equipment for the front lines.

And that’s what this is, a war, with hundreds of casualties already; the CDC website Tuesday night lists 44,183 cases in America, with 544 deaths, numbers that will go up immensely as more and more tests are made available.

This NYT story lays bare exactly what the slow federal response has meant for this pandemic, and the fact that Trump STILL refuses to enact it means preventable deaths that will occur over the next few months will not be prevented.

And this President sits back and puts ridiculous, unrealistic rosy spins on how things are going, talking about re-starting the economy by Easter while an Atlanta news outlet Tuesday night reported that the city’s hospitals are full.

So much blood is on this President’s hands. So much blood. And every doctor and nurse who has to choose which dying patient to save in the coming weeks and months has to do that knowing so much could’ve been done to minimize the damage.

**Next up today, I thought this was a pretty great little moment of comic relief. So an Italian man is arguing with his family because he wants to go out for coffee to a local cafe, and of course because of coronavirus they don’t want him to leave the house.

Watch as he “storms” out and where he ends up. Pretty fantastic.

**Finally today, sure there are no real sports going on right now, though my cousin Rob got me hooked on “Death Diving” on ESPN2 the other night, which is like cliff diving but into a pool and a lot scarier.

But hey, there are still great sports feats going on out there. This is Mabry Williams, a 14-year-old soccer player from Texas, doing some amazing juggling and finishing it off with an incredible flourish. According to her mom’s Twitter feed, it took her 20 minutes of trying to do this.

It would take most people twenty years. Eye-popping stuff. Go Mabry!

 

My Top 10 good things about being shut in for a week (I’m an optimist!). Neil Diamond re-writes “Sweet Caroline” for our current pandemic age. And R.I.P, Kenny Rogers, the ultimate “Gambler.”

OK, so this was a very different weekend for my family, as I’m sure it was for yours. I’m trying really hard not to get depressed by every new report from my governor, Andrew Cuomo, about how many New Yorkers now have coronavirus, how many have died, etc.

I’m trying really hard not to get horrified by how incompetent and heartless our President has been these last few weeks, including having no clue how anything scientific works, and then mocking Mitt Romney for being in quarantine on Sunday.

So because I’m trying to stay upbeat, I started thinking on Sunday about some of the positives that have come out of our forced isolation from those we love, except for those who live in our house.

And yes, there ARE some positives amid this horror, at least a few. So with a nod to the great David Letterman, here are my Top 10 good things to have come out of this first 10 days of social distancing (feel free to add your own positives in the comments).

1. Seeing so many neighbors I never knew I had. We’ve lived here in our Long Island town for almost two years now, and I thought I knew lots of people. But taking our daily walks with my little guys, I’m seeing way more people and starting to see more familiar faces. Everyone is so desperate to be outside that i feel like they’re thrilled to say hi, mention that our little 2.5 year old Theo is adorable, etc.

Everyone’s just so nice lately, because we’re all so afraid.

2. Our daily Rummykub games. So several months ago we taught Nate, the 5.5 year old, how to play Rummykub, the tile game which has been around forever and that I first learned to play as a kid with my beloved grandmother. He took to it instantly, and now with no school we’ve been playing every day with my wife during her “lunch break” from working from home, upstairs.

And Nate has gotten really, really good. He’s seeing opportunities now and combinations of what he can do with his tiles that amaze Shelley and me. He’s beating us, legitimately, in some games.

3. Speaking of games, I taught everyone to play Yahtzee on Sunday. Nate immediately fell in love with it, and wants to play more tomorrow. And hey, between that and Rummikub, it’s sorta like a math lesson with all the counting!

Love Yahtzee, not least because it’s so much fun to yell.

4. I was worried about going over my car lease’s annual mileage amount of 10,000 this year; was on pace for about 12,000. Well, that’s not a worry anymore! I ain’t driving anywhere further than the supermarket for a looonng while, I have a feeling.

Hell, just going to the supermarket feels like a long trip.

5. There was no live NCAA Tournament action this weekend, but the Duke-Kentucky 1992 Elite Eight game was on CBS Saturday. It’s only the greatest college game of all time, and the forces of good triumphed over the forces of evil. It’s possible I watched a minute or two 🙂

Just a reminder that in the best game of his life, Christian Laettner made every single shot he took. Ten field goals, ten free throws, made them all. Perfection.

6. Discovering Zoom. OK, raise your hand, how many of you didn’t know Zoom existed 10 days ago? I had a vague idea of it. But now, we’re zooming everybody. We had a family  “reunion” with my wife’s side of the family Saturday night, with relatives from N.Y., Texas, Maryland and Virginia all present. It was a ton of fun. Monday a kid in California we know and love is going to read stories to my sons as well as other kids in New York City and Pennsylvania. It’s pretty fantastic.

7. Getting to feel some of what my parents used to feel when I was a teenager and in college and they worried about me going out. A great Tweet I read Sunday said it best: “In an unsettling reversal of my teenage years, I am now yelling at my parents for going out.”

I’m worried about ALL older people, but of course especially my parents. My mother has been to Whole Foods like, four times in the past week and I yelled at her Sunday like she’d been chillin’ at a crack house.

I guess I’m saying, I’m sorry for making you all worry sometimes when I was younger, Mom and Dad.

8. Seeing how so many people around the world are responding with kindness in a crisis. From fundraisers for surgical masks, to donations to food pantries and soup kitchens going way up, to the heroics of medical personnel, there have been many heartwarming moments amid all the sadness.

9. Spending so much time with my wife. What can I say? She’s the best. Having her home all day and getting to see her for meals, and for check-ins when I pop up to her office, is pretty awesome. Never would’ve gotten to do that without all this self-isolation.

10. And finally, I’m not sure exactly how to word this, but feeling the “one-ness” of the whole world right now. So many countries are affected by this; so many billions of people all trying their best not to get sick, and we’re all scared of the same thing.

I dunno, maybe I’m reaching, but it’s rare everyone in the world is on the same side about anything.

**Next up, some more genius from the great Neil Diamond, whose classic “Sweet Caroline” has been teased during this Coronavirus pandemic for its lyrics about “hands, reaching out, touching me.”

Well, the legend decided to change the lyrics a little bit to fit our social distancing, and it’s pretty brilliant. He’s 79 years old and still sounds amazing. Enjoy two minutes of Neil (Not sure why it cuts off at the end but still worth watching).

**Finally today, a few words about the legendary country singer Kenny Rogers, who died Saturday at age 81.

Maybe younger people don’t remember much about Rogers, except for the outstanding chicken restaurant chain that bore his name (and which was highlighted in a great “Seinfeld” episode.)

But for a very long time in the 1970s and ’80s, he was a huge, huge star. Like, enormous.

With his velvety voice, iconic white beard and just his regal presence, Kenny was a king. You heard him all over the radio, saw him on TV, and his look inspired one of the first great websites I ever went to back in the mid-1990s, http://www.menwholooklikekenny.com, a site comprised completely of regular dudes who happened to look like Kenny Rogers (Happily, it still sorta exists, here.)

Kenny was a larger-than-life personality, whose voice was just sensational. I know it’s cliche but this was my favorite Kenny song, the absolutely perfect “Lady.”

Rest in peace, Kenny.

Good News Friday: A distillery in Minnesota switches from making beer to sanitizer, and gives it away for free. Got a craving for sports? Have you seen marble racing? And music, sweet music, helps people cope

Yeah this sucks. Sucks, sucks, sucks.

Sucks for all of us stuck at home except for rare trips to the grocery store. Sucks for people in all walks of life, those unable to work, those incredibly brave first responders like doctors and hospital workers, all of us (My friend Oakland, a man with a huge heart, put it best to me when he said “All I want to do is hug all my friends during this, and I can’t even do that.”)

I don’t have many encouraging words to share, although Lord knows I’ll have more humorous stories than usual from the home front, since the big guy is out of school for at least a month, and the 2.5 year old is a handful and a half (Thursday, during their usual brotherly hijinks, I actually thought to myself “If I snuck out now, how long till they’d notice?”)

But as always here on Fridays, I’m going to try to lift your spirits. And speaking of spirits, our first story today is about a distillery in Minnesota (OK that was a lame segue attempt, sorry.)

The good folks at Vikre Distillery have converted their factory of beer-making into a hand sanitizer factory. And instead of selling it, they’re giving it away for free.

“We know it’s hard to get your hands on sanitizer (pun intended, maybe?) right now,” the distillery announced earlier this week, according to this story.

“Because we produce the main ingredients in sanitizer in the distilling process, we are making our own sanitizing spray for our own use and we wanted to make some available to the public for those who need it.”

The sanitizer is sprayable and contains 70 percent denatured alcohol, which is the level needed to kill the coronavirus bug.

The distillery has been giving it away to anyone who needs it, with residents able to bring a container of up to 16 oz. in size that can be filled with the sanitizer.

It’s also making gallon-size pails available for businesses who call ahead.

Demand has been huge, the distillery said, especially from nursing homes and hospitals.

I love these kinds of stories in a major crisis because it emphasized who we are ALL in this together, and good people helping others is the best of what America is all about.

Next up today, this is exactly the kind of sports diversion that people are discovering these days, as practically no live actual sports are going on (Man, Thursday, which was supposed to be the first day of the NCAA Tournament,w as rough. That’s like a national holiday in my life.)

Have you ever heard of competitive marble racing? Until a few days ago, I hadn’t. But there’s actually a “league” called Marbula One Racing, and Marble racing.

According to this Time.com story, YouTubers Jelle and Dion Bakker, who started the popular YouTube channel Jelle’s Marble Runs, founded the Marble League in 2016 and have since created a number of other marble racing events, including Marbula One (Formula 1 for marbles) and Marble Rally (marble racing on sand tracks). The 2020 season of Marbula One is currently ongoing. The competitions have also surged in popularity on the live streaming platform Twitch.

I watched the clip above and laughed and also started rooting for one marble over the other.

Hey, it’s something competitive to watch! Very, very cool.

**And finally today, one of the only good things to come out of this horrible CoVID-19 epidemic is the incredible outpouring of music, everywhere, to try to cheer people up.

From online live stream concerts by people like John Legend, the Indigo Girls and Willie Nelson, to spontaneous demonstrations by people in streets and out balcony windos, there has been music filling the world.

Two clips I wanted to share that I really enjoyed this week. First, Lauren Lugo (above), a young opera student from Laguna Beach, Calif., is studying her craft in Rome. And this week, she stepped outside her apartment onto her balcony, in a bathrobe, and belted out this exquisite number. Just gorgeous.

And then (below), the legendary Broadway composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, who is responsible for “Phantom of the Opera,” “Cats” and a million other shows, playing one of his best songs, “All I Ask of You,” on the piano for a few minutes.

Simple, beautiful music that makes us forget about all the horrible-ness going on right now. Stay safe, y’all.

A crazy new way to stop snoring: Electrocution! Yo-Yo Ma with a beautiful musical tribute to medical workers. And Tom Brady, gone from the Pats? Too good to be true

Hope you’re all hanging in there today, whether you’re home with your kids, or out there as a medical worker or other “required to be out and about” worker. These are scary, crazy times. Me and the boys have been going for hour-long walks outside each day since Sunday (you know, because even prisoners get some outside time), and it’s amazing how many of our neighbors we’re seeing, just walking around, trying to get some air.

I’m trying to think of a comparison for this kind of a situation, but I cannot. It’s almost like we’re living through a nuclear explosion and it’s not safe to go more than a few feet from your house, and we’re all walking around just happy to see another person. Anyway, I’ll try to keep feeding you interesting stuff here and I hope you all stay safe. On with the show.

OK, so you or your spouse has a snoring problem. You’ve tried smacking them with a pillow, sleeping on your back, using any one of a million techniques to get the noise to die down in bed and let everyone sleep.

But now, a cure has emerged! It’s something you never thought of before, and never tried before! Behold, it’s electrocuting your tongue!

No, seriously.

A British company, led by Professor Anshul Sama, a sleep disorder expert, has created an ingenious little device designed to stop a person from waking up the household by hitting the snorer’s tongue with a small electrical current.

The invention in question’s called Snoozeal, and has an impressively high success rate of 70 percent based on the trials it has conducted throughout Britain and Germany.

Here’s how it works, according to this story in LadBible: A small, crab pincer-like device is inserted into the mouth. It’s flexible enough to sit in the base of a mouth and needs to stay there for 20 minutes at a time (at any part of the day), for a total of six weeks while NOT sleeping.

A current is then passed to the device, via the app on your phone (because of course there’s an app!) which sends a small current to the areas of the tongue to tighten its floppier muscles towards the back of the throat, which is what causes a lot of snoring cases in the first place.

The app also records users’ sleep patterns and how they can improve it, as Professor Sama explains the product’s ease of use: “Many devices on offer do not work and are unpopular because they have to be worn at night.

“Even surgery doesn’t always work and increasingly it is being rationed or even banned by the NHS to save money.”

OK, this sounds incredibly bizarre; the idea that you’re doing it during the day, though, and not at night, is encouraging. I’m not sure how many people want to shock their tongue, but hey, if the snoring problem is really really bad, why not try it?

Shocking your tongue to get you to stop snoring. I love science sometimes!

Next up today, there have been a lot of musical tributes this week that are coronavirus related; from those incredible people in Italy all singing their national anthem at once, to John Legend and others doing free concerts over the Internet for people stuck at home (John even had his lovely wife Chrissy Teigen lying next to him while only wearing a towel as he sang; that certainly should boost numbers).

But I wanted to highlight this piece (above) from the incredible cellist Yo-Yo Ma, who decided to perform the Sarabande from Bach’s Cello Suite No.3, and dedicated it to all the frontline workers helping fight this crisis.

Just a gorgeous piece of music that I hope makes you smile.

***Finally today, there was some actual sports news happening Tuesday, whoo-hoo! We sports fans have been like bedouins walking through the desert since last Wednesday, so the start of NFL free agency Monday was a ginormous drink of water to quench our thirst.

Lots of big news has happened, but nothing bigger than probably the greatest quarterback of all time, a dude named Tom Brady, announcing he will leave the Patriots and go play somewhere else (it turns out it’ll be Tampa Bay, and Brady in pewter will look completely, totally weird.)

It’s close to impossible to overstate Brady’s impact on the Patriots. He played in nine Super Bowls, winning six of them. He led the Pats to 30 playoff wins (an insane number), and 16 AFC East titles, and was the best quarterback in the sport for at least 15 years. He’s clearly not what he once was, and the end of last season showed Brady to be highly mortal.

Still, he’s pretty freaking great if you put good players around him, which the Bucs will do (their skill position players are far superior to New England’s)

As a Jets fan, I’ve been hoping and praying this day would come one day. I certainly never expected it to take this long; no NFL quarterback has ever played this well for this long (Brady is 42 years old).

And now, finally, it’s here. We finally get to see if Bill Belichick is a great coach without Brady; until Mr. Giselle Bundchen came along, Belichick never won squat as a head coach. We finally see if Brady can thrive without Belichick, too.

It’ll all be fascinating to watch, when (if?) we ever get back to normal in this country.

But on behalf of all Jets fans everywhere, Tommy boy: Thank God you’re finally gone from our division. Eighteen years of misery has been enough.

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…

Good News Friday (and boy do we ever need it!): A stranger pays people’s rent, just because. A basketball fan gets an amazing Make-A-Wish moment at a Duke-Carolina game And a grieving widower meets a new best friend: A 4-year-old girl

Put in 2019 One Shining Moment here.

It has been a dizzying, head-spinning, “oh my God what just happened now while I was processing what happened five minutes ago?” kind of day. The last two days, really, have been just surreal, as sports institutions we take for granted (The NBA, the NHL, the NCAA) have completely been paralyzed by Coronavirus, and shut down their seasons and cancelled March Madness, my absolute favorite sports thing each year.

And while the shock of that crushed the sports fan in me, the human being in me was sent spiraling by so many other things: our government’s complete lack of preparedness for this, how quickly this disease is spreading, the still-unbelievable cavalier attitude so many are having toward it (including our dip-shit President).

But this is Good News Friday, and we’re not going to dwell on this. If my blog has been nothing else over the past 11 years, it’s been about positivity (except when I’m talking about the Jets, of course)

So let’s get started today with an awesome gentleman named Juan Gonzalez, the host of something called “That was Epic”, a YouTube show.

Juan decided to start randomly knocking on strangers’ doors and telling them he would pay their next month’s rent.

Their reactions are, of course, priceless. The second and third stories here are my favorite, but they’re all amazing.

Just a wonderful idea/gesture by Juan, and getting to hear the stories of who he’s impacting, and how he’s come into their life at the exact right time, is so great.

**Next up today, I’m a sucker for just about any and all Make-A-Wish Foundation stories, and when it involves a kid who’s been a lifelong Duke basketball fan, well, that’s a slam dunk for tugging at my heartstrings.

Antonio Sellers is a North Carolina teenager who has grown up a huge Duke basketball fan. Antonio is battling a brain tumor, and his dream was to see a Duke-UNC game at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Well, last Saturday he did, and it was amazing. He got to meet the team before the game, and tour the shrine that is Cameron. And after the game, well, just watch how he was treated, with the Blue Devil players surrounding him on the court, and the crowd chanting his name.

Chills. Absolute chills. Antonio, tragically, doesn’t look likely to live a long life, but man, what an absolutely amazing day he had.

**And finally today, a wonderful look back to one of the best Steve Hartman CBS News stories ever.

Dan Peterson died last week, and it’s OK if you don’t know who that was. Just watch this piece, about how a 4-year-old girl named Norah brought him back to life, after the death of his beloved wife.

A simple greeting in a supermarket, of “Hi old person!” led to an amazing friendship.

So, so great.

A woman sues Chuck E. Cheese, and I’m totally on her side. 3,500 crazy people in France break a world record for dressing like Smurfs. And Joe Biden now looks unbeatable in the Democratic primary

Oh I know I could be writing about coronavirus today, and how the panic is getting real, and how I’m starting to get scared that local schools here will be closed soon and the NCAA Tournament might be cancelled (which would devastate me as a sports fan), but come on, you get that everywhere else you look on the Internet.

So we don’t have any of that corono-talk here, no sirree Bob. Today I want to start with a much more important issue: The pure awfulness of Chuck E. Cheese.

If you don’t have kids, you’ve probably never been inside one of these hellholes masquerading as a children’s entertainment center. And bless you if you’ve never been in one.

Chuck E. Cheeses are, almost uniformly, bastions of grossness. Swamps of yuckitude. A cornucopia of crummy.

You get the point. Ostensibly meant as an arcade center for kids to play Skee-ball and other video games, Chuck E. Cheese truly “distinguishes itself” with its live dancing animal shows, which scared the hell out of my 5-year-old when he was 3, and I’m convinced he’s still terrified of them. They’re creepy-looking, the songs are weird, and I just don’t like them.

The food at Chuck E. Cheese’s is about the level of junior-high cafeteria quality, if not worse. The employees look like they’d rather be anywhere else, and at least in the Chuck E. Cheese’s I’ve been in, the noise is deafening and often the game machines don’t work.

Which all leads me to say that I am totally with a Washington state womna named Ashreana Scott in this lawsuit I read about the other day.

Seems Miss Scott got her long hair completely tangled in one of Charles E. Cheese’s ticket-counting machines, and suffered hair trauma for 20 minutes before an employee finally could free her.

The incident caused her “pain, discomfort, distress, and headaches,” the complaint alleges.

The lawsuit says Chuck E. Cheese “failed to use reasonable care” in designing the ticket machine to ensure guests wouldn’t get their hair caught in it, they failed to properly train employees to aid someone in such a situation, and they failed to provide adequate warnings of the risk.

I really hope she wins. Chuck E. Cheese, pay that woman, and the rest of us for ever having to go into your establishment.

Parents, I KNOW you’re with me.

**Next up, I love stupid stuff like this that sets a world record. More than 3,500 people in France convened last Sunday to set the Guinness mark for most people in one place dressed up as Smurfs.

Papa Smurf, Mama Smurf, and the whole gang paraded around, mocked coronovirus, and had a grand old time.

Loved the “Smurfs” cartoon as a kid. Glad to see other people still want to be blue and cuddly.

**Finally today, it was another resounding Tuesday for former vice-president Joe Biden, who trounced Bernie Sanders in Mississippi and Missouri, and also racked up a double-digit win in Michigan, which was seen as Bernie’s best chance at a win last night.

The race is not over, of course, but it’s looking more and more inevitable that it’s going to be Biden vs. Trump (although it’d be so great if DT came down with coronovirus), which means, among other things, we may get a pay-per-view steel cage match between Hunter Biden and Donald Trump Jr., and I am SO here for that.

I don’t know how Sanders turns this around; voter turnout has been surging in all these primaries which is a great thing, but those voters are making it clear they want the old white guy from Delaware, not the old white guy from Vermont, to take on Trump.

And I have to say, this little moment from Biden (bel0w), confronted on the Second Amendment by a Michigan auto worker Tuesday, probably helps him a little. He’s a fighter, he’s trying to tell the guy he’s lying about what Biden has said, and he refuses to let his press aide or whoever move him along.

The person who will beat Donald Trump needs to be a fighter, and Biden surely is one.

Look, I still don’t love Biden as a candidate, I’m not any more certain than I was last week that he has the mental capacity and fitness to hold up for eight months. But it looks like he’ll get the chance to show us.

A wild night at a bachelorette party with details that must be seen to be believed. Elizabeth Warren shines in two “SNL” skits. And the worst first date story ever? How about being asked to be a robbery getaway driver

I’m a male, but I have a pretty good idea of what goes on at bachelorette parties.

And not just from TV and movies; throughout my travels in wedding parties and such, I know that women like to get wild, have fun, drink way more than normal, maybe see a naked dude or two, and generally send the bride-to-be off to her wedding in style.

But I gotta say, this bachelorette party I heard about last week on “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” might take the cake for the craziest one I’ve come across.

So check this out: At a bachelorette party at a strip club in the UK, the stripper’s pole came loose and bonked the bride’s grandmother in the head.

Oh, and the stripper broke both his legs.

According to this story in the London Mirror, “Dreamboys dancer Lewis Riches, 32, was only just beginning to get the crowd hot under the collar as he performed at the For Your Eyes Only club in Shoreditch, east London. But just minutes into the show he jumped onto a 20 foot pole which ‘ripped out of the ceiling’ and came crashing down onto the head of a woman who was at her granddaughter’s hen-do. A bride-to-be whose party was ruined on Saturday told Metro.co.uk the way staff handled the situation ‘was an absolute shambles’.”

I mean… so many questions. How many people take their grandma to their bachelorette party? And does Mr. Riches get workman’s comp for this injury, or was he like, screw it, there’s a grandma here, I’m going for this giant pole and making a spectacle out of this?

According to the story, Grandma was treated for a concussion at the hospital and is going to be OK, while Riches will be out of dancing action for months after having surgery on his leg.

Ladies, if you ever listen to me about anything, please leave grandma at home when you’re going out for a wild night before your wedding. Only bad things can happen.

**Next up today, the woman who should’ve been President, Elizabeth Warren, did a surprise guest spot on “Saturday Night Live” this weekend, and she killed it.

Appearing with Kate McKinnon, who’s been playing her on the show for years, Warren did a fantastic bit at the end of the cold open of the show, talking about her debate destruction of Michael Bloomberg, gently mocking her own supporters uniformity, and overall not taking herself too seriously.

My favorite part is at the end when McKinnon breaks character for just a few seconds before catching herself. You can tell the wonderful comedian has genuine affection for Warren.

Oh, and this backstage moment was also fantastic. Nothing like someone who doesn’t take themselves too seriously.

**Finally today, we’ve all had bad first dates. I certainly have had a few, and people who have dated me probably have their own horror stories (hey, I can admit it, sometimes I wasn’t exactly Fonzie-smooth with the ladies).

But I don’t think anything can top this worst first date, ever.

So a woman in Massachusetts became an unexpected getaway driver for a man she met on a dating app after he robbed a bank at gunpoint. This was during their first date.

According to this story and the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office, Christopher Castillo pleaded guilty this week to armed robbery and three counts of assault and battery on a police officer for the December 5, 2016 incident.

It all started, the woman told police, when she picked up Castillo from his parents’ home in Chepachet, Rhode Island, and drove him 30 minutes east toward North Attleboro, Mass. She said he drank wine in the passenger seat of her Nissan Maxima (which is also illegal, but he wasn’t charged for that one).

The two had never met in person before that fateful day in 2016, she told police. So why would she think anything was wrong when he told her to pull over as they approached a bank? (Editor’s note from me: Who goes to a bank on a first date, and not to use the ATM?)
He got out of her car and left her there alone for a few minutes. Then, suddenly, he came running back, sweating with sunglasses, a hat, a gun and $1,000 cash in hand, the woman said.
“F**king go,” he told her.
She “panicked,” she told police, so she did as she was told.
His accidental accomplice obeyed at first, but once she spotted flashing sirens from North Attleboro Police cruisers on their tail, she immediately pulled over and walked away from the car.
Castillo stayed inside and ducked from police.
Wow. I mean… I guess there’s really no second date after that, huh? Did he call her “Bonnie” and request she call him “Clyde?”
On the plus side, the next guy this woman went on a date with had to look like Prince Freaking Charming by comparison.