Category Archives: Uncategorized

Marvin Miller, a titanic figure in baseball history, FINALLY voted into Hall of Fame. A father takes over his teen daughter’s social media accounts for two weeks, and it’s glorious. And an extraordinary investigation into the power of jailhouse snitches

There are sports injustices everywhere, and have been throughout history.

Some are huge, international sports injustices, like the way the 1972 U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team was robbed of a gold medal, after a controversial finish against the U.S.S.R.

Some are smaller injustices, like Dan Marino, one of the greatest QBs of all time, never winning a Super Bowl.

I’m not 100 percent sure where this one I’m about to talk about ranks in the pantheon, but it’s pretty damn high up there.

There have been no more than eight or nine people in the history of baseball more important than Marvin Miller. Off the top of my head, Jackie Robinson, Babe Ruth, Branch Rickey, Hank Aaron, Curt Flood, but not too many others.

Marvin Miller was a little-known economist and labor leader in the 1960s who eventually turned baseball and its business model on its head. Throughout intensive persuasion, negotiation and legal challenges, he broke MLB’s draconian rules restricting player movement and ushered in the beginning of free agency, which led to an explosion of salaries.

Literally every baseball player in the past 40 years who made millions playing baseball owes a debt to Marvin Miller. Players were treated like disposable parts, with no rights, and were told over and over again they were lucky just to be playing, and to be grateful they got played at all.

Miller changed all that.

And yet he was never elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame while he was alive. Decade after decade went by, and the committees that choose such things never saw fit to put him in Cooperstown.

Miller always said that if he wasn’t elected while he was still alive, he never wanted to be inducted. But finally, way, way too late, Miller is going in.

Sunday night it was announced he’d be elected by a special committee, and next summer a seminal figure in the game’s history will finally be rightfully honored.

It is a disgrace that it took this long. But at least future generations will be aware of the Babe Ruth-sized mark Miller left on the game.

 

**Next up today, this is one of those times when I wish, as much as I love my two sons, I wish I had a daughter as well. Because I would soooo love to one day do what this father did.

Madelynn Sumpter is a teenage girl who apparently tried to sneak boys into a sleepover party she was having, and she got caught. Her parents gave her a choice of punishments:  She could either give up her phone for an entire month, or let her parents use it to post to all of her social media accounts for two weeks.

As I think most 15-year-olds would, Maddi chose the latter, and the results are spectacular.

Her Dad Larry took over Maddi’s Instagram and TikTok accounts, and it’s fabulous. He posted funny cooking videos, dressed up (above) in weird outfits, and basically humiliated his daughter in the best ways possible.

When her punishment ended, Maddi’s first post was awesome. It’s a pic of her as a toddler with the caption: “I’m back sweeter than ever and ready to make good choices.”

Well done all around, Sumpter family.

**Finally today, wanted to highlight an extraordinary piece of journalism just published by the New York Times Magazine and ProPublica, by the woman who I think is the best investigative reporter in America, Pamela Colloff.

I’ve highlighted her work here in the past, but Colloff truly is incredible. She spends months and months digging into a criminal-justice topic (usually that of a person serving decades in prison for a crime they didn’t commit) and excavates so much truth, and generates so much outrage, that as a journalist I sort of stand in awe.

This new piece looks at the amazing weight the legal system gives to jailhouse snitches, and how so often their false, coerced information leads to death sentences for innocent men.

Colloff uses the story of Paul Skalnik, one of the most prolific snitches of all time, and how many people he helped convict on non-existent evidence.

It’s a long, long read, but gripping and well worth it. This is why I donate to ProPublica as much as I can, because they do such important work.

 

Seth Meyers’ new Netflix special is hilarious and filled with heart. A pretty astounding Hillary Clinton/Howard Stern interview moment. And in the NFL, the Saints-49ers game is terrific, and the Pats look mortal again (yay!)

Seth Meyers is a comedian I’ve always enjoyed in small doses.

I liked him occasionally on “Saturday Night Live,” but never thought he was terrific or a star. I’ve liked him a lot on his NBC late-night talk show, and think he’s a witty observer who does some great commentaries from time to time.

But I never really took him in at full measure until watching his new Netflix special, “Lobby Baby,” and wow is it all kinds of fantastic.

In a stand-up performance taped in Minneapolis, Meyers (who says he’s not Jewish but everyone thinks he is because of his name “and everything else about me,”) riffs on parenthood, Donald Trump (though only a little), and a host of other subjects. But his best material comes about how his kids were born, and what kind of parenting friends are best.

The title “Lobby Baby” refers to where the Meyers’ second child was born, the lobby of their apartment building.

The clip above is just one piece of the story, and the whole thing is so funny my wife and I had to stop it a few times because we were laughing so hard. His bit about the only kinds of parenting friends he and his wife will have is so good I can’t spoil it for you here.

Meyers is relaxed, calm and very, very strong here. Cannot recommend it enough, “Lobby Baby” is outstanding.

**Next up today, two names I never thought I’d put in the same sentence in a positive way, but here we are: Hillary Clinton was on with Howard Stern last week, and by all accounts she was amazing.

I’ve only watched about 15 minutes of the interview so far, but Hillary comes off as warm, insightful and honest, something I sure as shit wish she had been in 2016.
As I’ve said many times, I will never, ever forgive her for running such an awful 2016 campaign and losing an election I felt sure was un-lose-able against Trump.

But Stern is an outstanding interviewer, and I think this clip here, with Stern talking to Clinton about the night Osama bin Laden was killed, is remarkable.

Here’s the link to all five parts, it’s a very long interview, more than two hours, but so far it’s been very illuminating.

But dammit, Hillary, how could you stick us with Trump??? I’ll never get over it.

**Finally today, it was another wild and wacky day in the League of Football we call National. My New York Jets defeated the Miami Dolphins in a game so bad it was a shame someone had to win, but hey, someone had to win it so it might as well be my team!

Seriously, though, Sam Darnold made some really bad decisions, he’s almost played two full years now and he has so little talent around him… I can’t say for certain if he’s the franchise QB I so desperately want him to be. I honestly do not know. And after almost two seasons, shouldn’t you know? He looks great, and he looks terrible, and he looks great and terrible.

— The Saints and 49ers are two of the three best teams in the NFC, and Sunday they played an insanely-entertaining game with just about zero defense played.

Forty-eight to forty-six final score! That’s nuts. Jimmy Garoppolo and Drew Brees were spectacular, and so was the Niners’ George Kittle, who made a spectacular catch and run on 4th down in the final minute while a Saints defender tried to rip his facemask off his helmet (above). Seriously, it was the most blatant, and longest-held, facemask I’ve ever seen, and Kittle just kept rumbling.

Niners-Saints in the NFC Title game, please.

— The Texans smack the Patriots around last week. Then get stomped by a terrible Denver club Sunday. But go ahead, bet on NFL games.

— Speaking of Coach Hoodie and the boys from New England, it’s so rare I get to celebrate a Pats losing streak. But they lost to Kansas City Sunday (and got screwed by a few referees’ calls, too, but that happens to everyone) and now have lost TWO games in a row. Alert the hysterical fans in Boston, it’s time to fire everybody!

No but seriously, this New England offense is seriously limited. Going to be hard to beat Baltimore with this offense.

— Finally, I want to thank Derrick Henry and Ryan Tannehill for once again being so awesome for my fantasy football team. Titans are legit good, folks. They’re going to be a dangerous playoff opponent for somebody.

 

Good News Friday: An awesome baby halftime race at an NBA game. Stevie Nicks and Sheryl Crow make beautiful music together. And an NFL star erases lunch debt for a school

And a Happy Friday, my fellow readers of words written on screens! It’s colder than Donald Trump’s heart here in New York this week; this is gonna sound random but is the time of year when I miss David Letterman’s late-night TV show the most, because he’d always come up with some good one-liners about how cold it is in New York, like something like “It’s so cold even the hookers in Times Square are wearing earmuffs” but something better than that, obviously.

Anyway, it’s freezing here. On with the show.

Lots of good news this week, and I want to start with a piece of NBA halftime entertainment that made me laugh out loud.

So at a New Orleans Pelicans  game last week, they held a “baby race,” where they get a bunch of infants together on the floor, put their parents about 20 feet away, and have a “race” to see which little wee one gets to the finish line first.

This is the most dramatic and awesome baby race I’ve ever seen. No. 6 looks like a clear winner, all the way until… just watch it. And if this three-minute video doesn’t make you smile, especially with the dramatic twist, well, I give up.

**Next up, I love, love love me some Sheryl Crow. And I also love Stevie Nicks. The two of them once performed a duet of Crow’s iconic “Strong Enough” and it just about made me cry it was so beautiful (Crow singing it alone was already one of my favorite songs ever, and the two of them together… magic.)

Stevie and Sheryl have a new duet out, called “Prove You Wrong” and it’s a terrific little song and they sang it on “Ellen” on Wednesday and they nailed it.

Two amazing voices, together. Just beautiful. Man, I so want to see them both in concert together.

**And finally today, I’ve written numerous times in this space about the awful practice some school districts use, called “lunch-shaming,” where a schoolkid is denied food or embarrassed publicly in the cafeteria because their parents have outstanding debt.

So every time someone with means makes a donation to erase lunch debt, I get happy. San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman recently donated $27,000 to eliminate the lunch debt in two different school districts, including the debt of a Santa Clara, Calif. middle school.

From the Yahoo! story: “Richard Sherman pulled me from my shift as a docent in the 49ers Museum to give me a personal check for $7,491.27 to cover Cabrillo Middle School’s cafeteria debt,” school principal Stan Garber said in a statement. “Richard’s gesture created such good will for the 49ers that they went on to sack Aaron Roger’s [sic] and the Green Bay Packers the next day on national tv by a score of 37-8.”

Following news of Sherman’s donation, the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) named him as the Week 11 Community MVP. In addition to the over $7,000 to the Santa Clara school, earlier this month, Sherman wrote a check for over $20,000 to the Tacoma Public Schools in Tacoma, Washington to eliminate their student’s lunch debt, according to NBC Sports.

Outstanding job, Richard. It is so, so harmful to the psyche of these kids to be “lunch-shamed,” and it’s a blight on our society that it happens at all.

Go Niners.

Kamala Harris drops out of the Presidential race, and I’m frustrated and disappointed. A hilarious clip on women “plotting” to ruin sports for men. And a terrific story about a college in Wyoming, reckoning with an act of racism from its past

I’m pretty bad at picking Presidential candidates. Historically speaking, despite following politics pretty damn closely, I’ve let my heart overrule my head and supported candidates who didn’t end up doing so well. (John Edwards, Martin O’Malley, I’m looking at you).

But I really, really thought I was backing a winner early this year when Senator Kamala Harris of California announced she was running for President. I had been following her career for a few years, and thought her mix of prosecutor experience, intelligence, and ability to clearly and forcefully discuss America’s problems would lead to her being a great nominee and then a great President.

I was, uh, a little off on my prediction there.

Tuesday afternoon, after months of lagging fundraising, terrible poll numbers, and a disorganized campaign that the candidate herself did little to help, Harris announced she was ending her run for the nomination.

Despite a terrific start to her campaign, featuring big crowds and lots of media attention, Harris never, ever got true traction with Democratic voters.

And I was stumped for why for a long time. Here was a strong, African-American woman with impeccable credentials, a strong personality who could withstand any Trump stupidity and attacks, and someone with excellent ideas on criminal justice reform, increasing teacher pay, and other issues.

But she never took off. This recent New York Times expose of the backbiting in her campaign shows a candidate who never could decide on a message, constantly vacillating on strategy, and not taking sides when her campaign manager sister, Maya Harris, and co-manager Juan Rodriguez, had differing ideas on what to do.

Harris was good in the Democratic debates, attacking Joe Biden for past positions, but still seemed to vacillate too much, on her health care plans, for example.

I truly believed she was a strong candidate with a great message. I was mistaken in believing she’d win, but I don’t think I was wrong about her.

Just very disappointing.

**Next up today, I’ve occasionally highlighted the work here of ESPN and former Fox sportscaster Katie Nolan, who’s consistently funny if a little crude for my taste.
Neither network has known what to do with her, never promoting her shows or giving her a big platform and getting a PR push.

But Nolan is funny and smart, and this bit she did on her show that I saw was hilarious. It gathers female sportscasters like Maria Taylor, Cari Champion and Julie Foudy in a “secret society” as they explain to Nolan how they ruin sports for men. The whole thing is great, but from 3:30 on is the best.

Too funny, because it’s so true, how many Neanderthal men think women aren’t allowed to do sports, they don’t know anything, why are they on TV, etc.

**Finally today, this was a terrific story in the Washington Post that was pointed to me by my friend/sparring partner Dave M., who is a cranky sportswriter and friend who exasperates me but also makes me think and question my own opinions (Love ya, Dave!)

The story speaks to the difficulty so many universities have been having in recent years dealing with the racism of administrations, and coaches, past.

Fifty years ago, at the University of Wyoming, 14 African-American football players were thrown off the team by a white head coach, for asking to join a protest other black students on campus were holding.

At the time, alumni and fans were strongly behind the coach, Lloyd Eaton, for his actions, but over the years as times changed there has been a lot of hand-wringing and regret, and of course the 14 players have been bitter over how they were treated.

Finally in the past few years, a determined university president and athletics director worked hard to mend fences with the players, and honor them properly.

It’s really a fascinating look at how a school, and a town, try to make the best of an awful situation from the past, and how difficult it can be for the players involved to let go of the bitterness.

It’s as close to a happy ending as you can get. Great job by writers Wesley Lowery and Jacob Bogage.

A road trip to Maryland for Thanksgiving yields fun, family, and stories from the road: I inflict them on you today. E.T. and Elliott reunited in a truly weird new commercial. And in the NFL, the Texans look awesome, and the Jets hit a new low.

It’s Monday, and if you’re like me, you’re dragging.
You had a great holiday weekend, stuffed to the gills with food and family, and now the regular routine resumes and it just seems a little dreary.

Never fear, it’s December now and more holidays are just around the proverbial corner (and hey! Hanukkah overlaps with that “other” big holiday this year, so everybody gets to open presents on Christmas! Hooray!)

Anyway, hopefully I can distract and amuse you today with tales of our holiday weekend vacation. The fam and I schlepped down to suburban Baltimore for five days to see my wife’s family, and some of my family, and a surprise visit as well.

Herewith, tales from the road…

— So the first thing you should know is that it was a fabulous five days in Maryland, Thanksgiving was terrific, my wife’s Aunt Marilyn is a terrific host, and the things I’m going to complain about in this post are minor in the grand scheme of things. But at the time…

— It took us 6.5 hours to drive from Long Island to Owings Mills, Md., on Tuesday, and nearly eight hours to drive back on Saturday. You ever notice how things take longer with little kids? Well, that was this. Highlights of the drives: My wife says she almost hit a deer with our car somewhere off I-95 (I had my head turned somewhere else at the time and am somewhat dubious), a 2-year-old truly CAN scream for 20 minutes straight, and a 5-year-old really can have to pee 11 times in an hour. Also, trying to explain the concept of a license plate to my kids was surprisingly difficult.

— Another highlight of the drive? My wife invented a game called “Name that Animal,” where one of me, her and our 5-year-old Nate had to give clues as to the identity of an animal, and the first person to name that animal got a point.
This was wildly entertaining and easily killed an hour on each leg of the trip, and I discovered Nate knows WAY more kinds of animals than I thought.

— Also something I learned on this trip: The smallest dinosaur was the size of a regular chicken. Nate repeated this fact to us 423 times over the course of the week; it was a fact he had just learned. And now I’ve taught you something today and our time together hasn’t been wasted.

— Traveling hell is the John Fenwick rest stop on the N.J. Turnpike on Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend, when hundreds of people think “Hey, we’re hungry, let’s stop here,” and then find it’s tiny and the two fast-food restaurants are wildly understaffed and you spend the better part of an hour just trying to get crappy chicken nuggets and fries for you and your kids.

Though I will say, nothing bonds strangers in communal experience like bitching about how long this is taking while standing on line.

— Amazing surprise of the week was getting to see my best friend Clay, who I hadn’t seen in three years (he’d only met one of my kids!). His sister lives in Gaithersburg, Md., about an hour from where we were staying, and because I’m addled I didn’t remember he was going to be at her house like usual for Thanksgiving.
So we synced our schedules to enable a few hours Friday morning to see them. So damn nice. He lives in Alabama now and we never get to see each other so this was a wonderful surprise. I mean, we talk on the phone a lot but still… face to face contact is important.

–Finally, I’ll end on a sweet note: We now have six kids aged 6 and under at these family gatherings, and seeing them all together at the same time was pretty special. They played, they hugged, they ate.

Literally, the next generation is coming. And we’re being especially nice to them because one day, they’re going to be responsible for our end-of-life care.

**Next, those of you fellow Gen X’ers and those even older than that of course remember the famous movie “E.T.,” about an extra-terrestrial alien landing on Earth and spending some time with a family.

Well, the Xfinity company has brought E.T. and his good buddy Elliot back in a strange new commercial, and I’m not quite sure what to make of it. It’s definitely… interesting. If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out. This is the extended version, four minutes long. Enjoy, I think.

 

**Finally today, my weekly Monday look at the National Football League, where week to week very little makes sense, except the Jets losing to the 0-11 Cincinnati Bengals, which if you’ve been a Jets fan as long as I have, makes perfect sense. Congrats, 2019 New York Jets, you’re the first team in NFL history to lose to two winless teams past Week 7! Go J-E-T-S!

Excuse me while I go vomit. In other NFL news…

–Seems like the game of the day was San Francisco-Baltimore, with two of the best teams in the league going at it. The Ravens won, 20-17, on a last-second Justin Tucker field goal, but it’s not like most of us saw it. Inexplicably, the NFL put a game between the two hottest teams in the league on at 1 p.m., against a bunch of other games, instead of moving it to 4:15 or prime time. Just bizarre.

Anyway, Ravens won, they look unstoppable, and having spent the last five days in the state of Maryland, I can confidently say the area has Lamar Jackson fever.

— The Houston Texans had lost two games in a row before Sunday night, including one of those games by a score of 41-7.
The Texans then pretty easily beat the team with the league’s best record, the Patriots, Sunday night. As usual, Houston is an impossible team to predict. But Deshaun Watson sure is fun to watch.

— Another thing to always remember about the NFL: It’s never fun to be a Chargers fan. They lost another game in excruciating fashion Sunday, as a last-second field goal after a dubious pass interference call against them gave Denver a win. The Chargers have lost eight games this season, all of them by seven points or fewer.

— The Giants and Packers played a snow game Sunday. Those are always super fun and offer great images (like the one above.)

Good News Friday: A waitress with a 14-mile commute on foot gets gifted a new car. The guy whose layup beat Duke is a Bahamian whose family lost everything. Now they’re getting it back. And a heartwarming before and after “Sesame Street” video will make you smile.

And a Happy Friday, and congrats for surviving Thanksgiving with your family! I had a wonderful Turkey day with my in-laws and my wife’s cousins here in Maryland, where we ate lots of yummy stuff, watched six children all 6 and under frolic and play together (and rarely a cry was heard, it’s true!) and saw the Dallas Cowboys embarrass themselves on national TV (always a good time)

I hope you had a wonderful holiday, and that you stay far the hell away from any shopping center or mall today.

So many good news items to choose from this week, but as always I’ve narrowed it down to three.

First up, a waitress in Galveston, Texas named Adrianna Edwards walks seven miles, each way, to her job at Denny’s every day she’s got a shift.

It takes her, as you might expect, a few hours and is highly inconvenient. But as she says, “I have bills to pay. “I’ve got to eat. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.”

One day recently Edwards was talking to a friendly couple on whom she was waiting, and told them her story.

Later that day, the anonymous couple returned after going Classic Galveston Auto Group and purchased a 2011 Nissan Sentra. Hours later, they returned to Denny’s to surprise Edwards.

“She teared up, which made me happy that she was so moved by that,” said the woman who bought the car.

This incredible act of stranger kindness has changed Edwards’ life. What a wonderful, wonderful move.

**Next up today, Tuesday night saw a pretty huge shocker in the world of college basketball. My beloved Duke Blue Devils, the No.1 team in the nation, saw a 19-year winning streak at home against non-conference opponents come to a stunning end, as tiny Stephen F. Austin University came into Cameron Indoor Stadium and beat Duke, 85-83 in OT.

I was stunned and upset by this result, so why the hell is it in here in Good News Friday? Because for once, all the Duke hatred in the world resulted in something I can appreciate.

The player for SFA who made the winning layup is named Nathan Bain, and he’s from the Bahamas, and his family lost their home in the recent hurricanes that struck the island.

Bain’s father runs a church and school in the Bahamas, and those were devastated as well.

The church got hit really hard,” Bain told KTRE-TV in September. “My house got hit really hard. We lost just about everything. We are still trying to stay positive because more important than the material things, everyone in our circle and immediate family and church family is safe.”

Well, until Tuesday night a GoFundMe page set up by Stephen F. Austin had only raised a few thousand bucks to help Bain’s family.

Then, Bain hit the layup that slayed the giant. And as I type this late Thursday night, the GoFundMe has raised $132, 775.

Remarkable. And it’s not all Duke haters who’ve donated, I noticed as I scrolled through the comments. Many Duke fans gave money and support as well (see? We Duke fans DO have hearts!)

It’s amazing what sports can do. Literally, that win and that shot for Bain will change his family’s life, and the lives of the students who went to school in his dad’s church, forever.

Sports, man. Sports.

**Finally today, this is wonderful. It’s a clip of an old episode of “Sesame Street,” from 1974, of a boy named John and a Sesame character named Harry, and it starts off with little John counting, and well, it changes into something magical about one minute in.

Just so special.

 

The state of South Dakota has a hilarious new slogan. An interview with a rugby player that’s beyond bizarre and awesome. And my Thanksgiving tradition: The classic “Cheers” episode food-fight.

Happy Erev Thanksgiving, my dear readers! While you start to salivate thinking about the turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and noodle pudding you’ll consume Thursday, I just want to take a moment today to give thanks to all of you, the readers, without whom I’d just be out here ranting and raving to myself.

I appreciate you one and all, whether this is your first visit to Wide World of Stuff, or if you’re a regular reader. Truly, thank you so much for coming by.

OK, on with the show. So we start today with news from the great state of South Dakota, which like many states in the U.S. is suffering greatly from a meth addiction in its population.

So in its wisdom, the state government’s Department of Social Services decided to launch a new slogan and ad campaign.

What’s it called?

Yep, that’s what it’s called. It has been, shall we say, widely mocked on the Interwebs, but I certainly understand what South Dakota is trying to say: We’re aware of the problem, and we’re tackling it!

Hey Twitter, the whole point of this ad campaign is to raise awareness,” Gov. Kristi Noem said Monday afternoon. “So I think that’s working…”

The campaign features a new website (onmeth.com), billboards and advertisements with people saying, “Meth, I’m on it.”

I think it’s great, because like Noel said, the whole point is to bring attention to the meth addiction problem.

But… it is pretty hilarious.

**Next up today, this is one of the more bizarre athlete interviews I’ve ever seen, and trust me, I’ve seen thousands of them.

Let me introduce you to England national rugby team star Joe Marier, being interviewed last week and giving one of the most bizarre, rambling metaphors you’ll ever hear.

It’s something about a horse, and then it just goes hilariously off the rails.

**And finally today, one of my favorite annual traditions here at the blog, my Thanksgiving tribute to the greatest TV scene in this great holiday’s history. The great “Cheers” Thanksgiving food fight episode.

As I always say, every time I watch this I laugh really, really hard. Today watching it, the look on Frasier’s face right before Diane starts talking just slays me.

So, so, great. I could watch this every day of the year and not get sick of it.

 

“Modern Love” an outstanding Amazon show, with awesome cast and sweet stories. A climate change protest delays Harvard-Yale game, fascinatingly. And the Jets stay hot, Ryan Tannehill is unstoppable, and more NFL thoughts

Very rarely do I come across shows like “Modern Love,” the new Amazon streaming series that is adapted from the wildly popular New York Times column that lets New Yorkers tell their unique love stories.

It has a different cast in each of its eight episodes, and the episodes vary wildly in tone. You watch the third episode (my personal favorite), starring Anne Hathaway, and then watch the seventh one, featuring a gay couple looking to hire a surrogate mother, and they’re completely different in almost every way, save for the New York backgrounds.

But the one thing they all have in common: a great heart, and lots of love. I really, really loved this show. It brought together a bunch of A-list actors like Hathaway, Tina Fey, John Slattery, and Catherine Keener, and gave them wonderful material to work with.

One episode (my wife’s favorite) deals with a single woman and her long-term friendship with the doorman at her building. Another follows a couple on a second date, when a broken glass gets lodged in one of their arms and we see the extent of true devotion.

There are serious issues dealt with, and funny issues, and not every episode is perfect (the Fey/Slattery one, oddly considering how great they both are, was maybe our least favorite.)

The power of love courses through each one of “Modern Love”‘s stories, and I found myself wanting more each time. The final episode does something great that I won’t spoil, but is very very satisfying.

Each episode is 30 minutes each, so you can easily binge the whole thing like we did in a week or two.

If you’re looking to feel renewed, about love and life, I highly highly recommend it.

**Next up, this was something very strange and possibly fabulous that happened Saturday: Harvard and Yale, besides being probably the two most prestigious universities in America, have had a long and storied football rivalry, going back more than 100 years.

They’ve played many famous games, including one in 1968 that saw a miracle comeback by Harvard, scoring 16 points in the final 42 seconds of the game, leading to the classic headline in the Harvard Crimson newspaper, “Harvard beats Yale, 29-29.”

Anyway, Saturday’s game turned out to be fabulous, too, with Yale rallying and winning in double overtime, but that’s not why I’m writing about it. At halftime, more than 150 students from both schools stormed the field and disrupted the game for more than hour, nearly causing it to finish in darkness since the Yale Bowl has no lights.

The students were protesting both school’s holdings in the fossil fuel industry, as well as urging the U.S. government to cancel Puerto Rico’s massive debt.

It may be because I’m a liberal who agrees with these positions, but I think it’s great what these students did. Nothing gets more attention in college than a football game, and no game at these two schools gets more attention than Harvard.

So this was a chance to get maximum attention for a cause. Will it work? I have no idea. But whether it’s student groups getting offensive statues taken down from campus, or the names of racists taken off buildings, college kids have been getting results when making protests like this for years.

I say good on them. It’s just a football game, after all.

**Now of course all that said, I’m now going to spend a couple hundred words talking about football games. (Hypocrisy, thy name is Michael Lewis. What can I tell you.)

First I have to start with the stunning, shocking, and downright mystifying 34-3 win by my New York Jets over the previously thought to be pretty good Oakland Raiders.

In the cold and rain of MetLife Stadium (and I can’t for the life of me understand how thousands of fans sat out there in this weather, it was awful here on Sunday), the Jets just destroyed the 6-4 Raiders. Sam Darnold looked awesome, the defense was stifling, and Le’Veon Bell even looked pretty good.

So now my previously-pathetic team is 4-7, with two winnable games upcoming against the putrid Bengals and woeful Dolphins, and it wouldn’t seem so crazy to start dreaming about them being 6-7 and in the playoff hunt in a few weeks.

Except, it’s the Jets, so I know they’ll lose one of these games (hey, they already know how to lose to Miami, they just did it a few weeks ago) so there’s no need to stupidly waste time about saving this season.

Still, nice to see Darnold finally improving and looking like a franchise QB.

In other news from the league where they play for pay…

— I hate the Patriots but man they are really freaking good this year. Tom Brady is basically throwing to high school receivers and they’re hardly scoring the last few weeks but they keep on winning thanks to a ridiculously good defense. I think only Baltimore has a legit shot of stopping a fourth straight Patriots Super Bowl appearance in the AFC.

— Wild game in New Orleans, where God clearly has a sense of humor when he allowed the NFL officials to overturn a non-pass interference call in Carolina’s favor with the game tied at 31 and the Panthers driving inside the Saints 10. Because the football gods didn’t want a riot in the Bayou, New Orleans ended up winning.
But this challenge thing on pass interference calls has been such a joke; hardly any get overturned, even blatantly obvious ones. 

— My friend Buddy S. is a swell guy and I love him, so I had to feel for him a little bit Sunday night. Buddy is a Dolphins fan, so not only has he had to suffer thru a miserable season, not only does he have to watch ex-Jets coach Adam Gase finally start winning with my Jets, but now he’s got to see the former QB of the future for the Dolphins, Ryan Tannehill (that’s him, above), play like Joe Montana the past month for Tennessee.

Tannehill, who was wildly erratic and injury-prone with Miami, has been incredible given a second chance to start. He accounted for four touchdowns Sunday in the Titans’ 42-20 demolition of Jacksonville. Ryan Tannehill, who knew???

— The Redskins won. No, seriously, they did. I checked a few different websites to make sure it was real. But after nine straight losses, they actually won.

— The Bills are 8-3 and the only team they’ve beaten who’s even moderately good is Tennessee. Strangest 8-3 I’ve ever seen. They’re about to play the Ravens, Steelers and Patriots though, so we’ll see how good they really are.

 

Good News Friday: Man proposes to his girlfriend on her final day of chemo treatment. A world-class violinist uses his talent to entertain shelter dogs. And an awesome initiative encouraging stranger kindness

Happy Friday, my people! It’s a mere six days before Thanksgiving and I have lots to be thankful for this year, including the fact that my 5-year-old’s reading proficiency is amazing more and more every day (Harvard and Duke, our applications will be in the mail shortly.)

Wanted to start Good News Friday this week with a pretty unusual but great wedding proposal story.

A man named Max Allegretti met the woman of his dreams, Jillian Hanson, the way we all meet our loves: when they were teammates at a dodgeball tournament in college (It’s true: If you save someone from a flying object smacking into their skull, they are legally obligated to go out with you.)

Allegretti and Hanson fell in love and their relationship endured through the usual ups and downs, but suffered a huge down a few years ago when Hanson was diagnosed with breast cancer.

But like a good boyfriend, Allegretti stood by her side, and a little more than  a year ago, on the day of Hanson’s last chemo treatment, Allegretti proposed to her, right there on a bed at Memorial Sloan Kettering hospital in Monmouth, N.J.

The video is awesome, especially when the nurses all get excited when Max proposes.

The two got married on Oct. 18, and love really does triumph over all.

**Next up today, a feel-good story combining music and animals, but no don’t worry, it’s not about a porcupine who plays a killer saxophone.

From Upworthy.com: Martin Agee has played his violin all over the world, at some of the most prestigious venues with some of the most venerated orchestras, but he readily admits that his favorite gig is playing for his furry friends at the local ASPCA shelter.

“I’ll never forget my first day,” he said to Medium. “Many of these dogs have been traumatized. Here they enter a process of recovery. We’re being kind to them. Some days, I have to hold back the tears. The dogs I play for, it’s at different stages of their recovery, have been injured and/or neglected.”

This is a very cool idea, and having someone as talented as Agee play for the pooches must be very soothing to them.

The power of music extends to all living creatures.

**Finally, wanted to bring a little attention to a wonderful initiative my good friend Catherine Pearlman wrote about on her blog this week. I’ve written about Catherine on here before; she donated a kidney to a total stranger a few months back, an act of generosity that still boggles my mind.

This week Catherine kicked off an initiative she’s calling Stranger Kindness, asking friends, colleagues and just good people of the world to try do as many acts of stranger kindnesses as they can between now and Valentine’s Day.

From Catherine’s heartfelt post:

During the holiday season, we all tend to give a lot to our family, our friends, maybe our neighbors and our coworkers. That’s all good. But the thing is there are lots of people who don’t enjoy this time of year. It’s expensive. It can be extraordinarily lonely. It is often stressful with all the shopping and parties and planning. And there tends to be more depression and anxiety than other times of the year.

There is so much we can all do to help others as we would help our inner circle. And maybe doing it for a stranger will make that act more meaningful. With the holidays approaching, I’m ready to get back into giving business. I want to see if you will join me.

For the next three months let’s make the world a better place by being nice to strangers. I mean make an actual concerted effort every day to do something nice for someone outside of your friends and family. Go big or small. Spend money or don’t. All you have to do is find ways every day to do something nice for a stranger until Valentine’s day.

Why stretch this giving thing way past the holidays? Because lots of people help out during the Thanksgiving to Christmas stretch. But often people feel more alone in the dark days of January and February. Valentine’s day stinks for a large portion of the country. So, let’s do this all the way until the promise of Spring is upon us.

As Catherine goes on to say, this could be acts as simple as putting money in a stranger’s parking meter, or paying for their coffee in line. Helping someone else costs so little, but often means so much.

She’s asking people to use the hashtag #strangerkindness when they do something nice, so if you can, please do.

 

An Ohio bill allows students to give scientifically wrong answers if they say it’s because of their religious beliefs. A reminder that LeBron James is still awesome. And thoughts on tonight’s Democratic debate, where once again way too many people will be on stage

OK, I told you the other day I was all fired up and hot and bothered by two stories I read last weekend; one was the ridiculous N.J. lawsuit involving a kid getting injured from a baseball slide and the parents suing the coach, that I wrote about Monday.

Now, let me rant for a few hundred words about an equally-ridiculous story, and this one actually did make it into law.

In the Ohio House of Representatives, which sadly has made it into this column a few times over the years for batshit-crazy legislation, a new law was passed last week.

It’s called the “Student Religious Liberties Act,” and it states that under the law, students can’t be penalized if their work is scientifically wrong as long as the reasoning is because of their religious beliefs.

Let me say that again: Ohio students CANNOT be penalized if their work is wrong, as long as their reason for giving the wrong answer is because of their religion.

HB 164 is real, folks. I’m not making this up. So as an ACLU director in Ohio, Gary Daniels, said in this story: “On the other hand, Daniels said that if a student submitted biology homework saying the earth is 10,000 years old, as some creationists believe, the teacher cannot dock points.

“Under HB 164, the answer is ‘no,’ as this legislation clearly states the instructor ‘shall not penalize or reward a student based on the religious content of a student’s work,” he said.”

This is insane. Absolutely, positively insane. There is science, pure, unadulterated, proven science, that children learn in schools every day of every school year.

The idea that creationism has crept back into schools in the past few decades is scary enough. But now the idea that students will be able to use religious doctrine to OVERRIDE science on exams is ridiculous and frightening.

Now, the sponsor of the bill, an Ohio Republican named Timothy Ginter, says that’s not how it will work, that a student who doesn’t accept science on evolution would get a lower grade in a biology class about the subject, and that the students have to give answers on exams that’s consistent with what’s taught.

Ginter says this “religious beliefs” part of the law only applies to kids doing book reports or term papers on religious figures like Moses.

Uh-huh. I’m not buying it. Not. At. All. This is one more attempt from the “Fake News” part of our country, the part of our country that wants to have its own opinions and also it’s own facts, to call into question accepted and irrefutable truths, because they don’t square with the Bible or another religious teaching.

Good God almighty, this is ridiculous and asinine.

Teacher: “Tommy you got 5 answers wrong on this science test.”
Tommy: “But I got 3 questions wrong because of my religious beliefs!”
Teacher: “Oh OK then, my bad, you only got 2 wrong. Good job.”

 

**Next up today, LeBron James is in his 17th NBA season and still doing things like this, he’s off to another amazing start and I once again get to laugh and people before the season who were saying he’s too old to be as effective as he used to be.

Watch that dunk I posted above, and tell me that. He’s the greatest basketball player of all time, folks. And he’s not stopping anytime soon.

**Finally today, there’s another group of Democratic Presidential candidates gathered on a stage tonight, with each one getting to speak for 35 seconds or so with no opportunity to really challenge each other.

Or, you know, as they call it, a debate. I don’t want to beat a dead horse by railing about the ridiculousness of having 10 people on stage at one time being antithetical to an actual, you know, DEBATE, so I won’t beat that dead horse.

Instead, since I’ll be watching (9 p.m. on MSNBC), a few things I’m looking for out of tonight’s debate:

— So help me God if they again spend the first 35 minutes arguing about the minutiae of health care, Medicare for All, and why this person’s lying about their plan. There are SO many issues that don’t get talked about in these debates (environmental issues, the rise in hate crimes and hate speech in the U.S., poverty, nuclear issues worldwide, just to name a few) that it kills me to see them ignored for yet another drone-a-thon about health care.

— So it’ll be interesting if Pete Buttigieg, fresh off a new poll showing him with a big lead in Iowa, becomes a target of others’ attacks for the first time. Last debate it was Elizabeth Warren who suddenly got the slings and arrows, and she handled them, only OK. Is 37-year-old boy wonder Mayor Pete prepared to deal with his new status as a serious threat?

— Can my two favorite candidates, Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, do anything to finally break the 5 percent polling ceiling they’re both at? I knew going into this campaign that Booker was a longshot, but I really and truly believed Harris had a legit great chance to win. It hasn’t happened for her, and I’m very puzzled as to why.

— Will impeachment be discussed in a meaningful way? Now that the hearings have been underway for a week and we’ve seen in plain sight just how many impeachable offenses the Man-Baby-in-Chief has committed, will the candidates talk specifically about the case?

— Finally, will someone remember to get Bernie Sanders some water on stage? Guy has sounded hoarse and ill in every debate so far. Can a brother get a lozenge?