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The “Daddy Chronicles” returns, now with 100 percent more children! Tales of baby poop, brotherly (over) love, and so much joy

 

And hello and Happy Friday to all of you out there. So as I may have mentioned, my life changed dramatically about six weeks ago when our second son was born, so I figured it was about time for a new “Daddy Chronicles.”

Now featuring twice the fun and hijinks! Twice the mess and twice the poop! And of course, twice the incredible luck I have, because once again it looks like we’ve made one fantastic little boy.

Seriously, Theo Henry Lewis is a really good little guy so far. Yeah I know every Dad brags, but he eats great, sleeps a ton, and cries only when hungry or wet (and quite frankly, aren’t we all always one of those two things?)

Some thoughts from my sleep-deprived brain on the first few weeks of our family as a quartet instead of a trio…

–Six weeks in, we’ve noticed quite a few differences from Lewis son 1.0 and the new model, Lewis son 2.0, with bugs removed and features added, including a highly-advanced operating system: For one thing, Theo loves taking baths. Kid just sits there and lets the water wash over him (well, sprinkle over him) and never says a peep. His brother hated them.

Also, tummy time? Theo’s a fan. He kicks and screams a little toward the end, but he can go for 8-10 minutes a a time, moving his head and seeming quite happy.

— Happy to report Theo’s a good sleeper most of the time. For the first month, though, he was really living the life of a touring rock star; his most awake and alive times were when I did the overnight bottle, around 2 a.m. He’d start breathing really heavily and his eyes darted around the room frantically. Basically, it was like living with a tiny meth addict.

Yes, I compared my kid to a meth addict. What the sleep-deprived brain will come up with, you just never know…

— When Nate was born I found myself, for the first few weeks, confused and disappointed that I didn’t feel the “instant bond” with my child. Of course my wife bonded with the boys immediately because she’d been growing them inside her body for nine months, but I worried why it didn’t happen immediately for me. Of course within a few weeks I felt the bond. With Theo, the same thing happened. For a few weeks he felt like a pooping, burping stranger crashing in our room. But now I love him to pieces and can’t stop thinking about him.

— So, of course one question everyone had after Theo was born was “How is his big brother Nate adjusting?” And the answer is, fabulously. Nate absolutely adores, worships and can’t get enough of his little brother.

Which is a little bit of a problem. We are pretty confident Theo’s first words will be “Leave me alone, Nate!” Seriously, if these two were adults Theo would totally have gotten a temporary restraining order against Nate by now. Constant hugging, constant kissing, constantly wanting to be with his brother… it’s fantastic, but a bit much.

Last week Theo was happily sleeping in a swing, minding his own business, when Nate walked over and in trying to embrace his new playmate, conked heads with Theo.

As you might expect, Theo started crying. Nate, annoyed, says to me “Why is Theo crying? I don’t like that.” I responded “He’s crying because you woke him up and conked him on the head!”

Not sure if the message took. Still, it’s great that Nate loves his bro so much.

— OK, so this has mostly been about Theo but I wanted to share two quick Nate stories. First, a few weeks ago we were at his friend Lincoln’s house, and his super-fantastic Mom Jill was making tacos for Linc and his two older sisters, Parker and MacKenzie. Now, Nate has never had tacos, never shown any interest in them, but Jill had laid out taco shells, meat, shredded cheese, etc. on their dining room table and all the other kids were digging in and building tacos, so Nate figured what the hell.

He took a few bites of his taco shell and seemed to like it, then put it down. A few minutes later I noticed he wasn’t eating, so I said “Keep eating your taco shell.”

He looked at me quite puzzlingly.

“Daddy! You called me Shell. I’m Nate.”

My wife’s name is Shelley, and of course he’s heard me call her “Shell.” I about died laughing.

— The other Nate story involves his love for Claritin. Like most toddlers who start school at 3, he’s had a succession of coughs and colds this fall and winter, so at night time we give him children’s Claritin in the grape flavor, which he adores.

He loves the medicine so much that even when he’s not sick, he about cries when we won’t give it to him.

So last week I walked in to his room and heard the following sentence from my wife: “No, you can’t have Claritin. You already had chocolate ice cream tonight!”

Not a sentence heard in most households, I’m guessing.

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It’s a Hanukkah miracle: Tuesday’s scoreboard reads Decent human 1, awful human 0. “SNL” cold open with Santa was great. And a 9-year-old hockey goalie does a beautiful, noble thing

Not too often a Tuesday night in December can get your emotions ping-ponging so much, but it’s all not so often a sexist, racist, homphobic child molester has a fantastic chance to win a United States Senate seat.

Yep, Tuesday finally brought an end to one of the ugliest, most disgusting Senate races in American history, and believe me, that’s saying something.

Roy Moore, who believes we should ban all Constitutional amendments after the first 14, a man who rode a freaking horse to the polls Tuesday, a man who… shit, I could go on for 5,000 words about this man.

OK, OK, I’ll just write three more about him. Roy Moore lost

Roy. Moore. Lost! Sweet home Alabama, a Democrat former prosecutor and a pro-choice politician in the Deep South won. He didn’t win by much, about 21,000 votes, but that doesn’t matter.

What matters is that finally, human decency prevailed (it’s been taking a beating the last two years). Finally, an evil asshole was defeated. And finally, things are looking up for those of us who believe that at some point, American politics must bottom out, and truth, facts, and actual ideas will win.

As Ezra Klein put it on Twitter, “Tonight, Alabama did not elect a child predator who thinks Muslims should not be allowed to serve in Congress. That’s not the highest bar I can imagine for a democracy to clear, but I’m glad we cleared it.”

Hey, you’ve gotta start somewhere. Thank you, Alabama. Thank you, to the overwhelming turnout of African-American voters in Mobile, Montgomery and everywhere else. Once again, when more people vote, Democrats win.

A giant sigh of relief today. As some African-American dude who used to live and work in Washington, D.C. used to say: “Know hope.”

**Next up today, I didn’t see “Saturday Night Live” and its fantastic cold opening skit until Monday, and man was it fabulous. The little kid at the 1:50 mark has the best line of the whole sketch, and the other children in this were just fabulous.

It’s a Hanukkah miracle.

**And finally today, a small act of kindness from a 9-year-old hockey player made me smile. There was a youth game in Washington, D.C. involving the Georgetown Titans and Hagerstown Bulldogs. The Titans’ regular goalie got sick the day of the game, and no one else from the Titans knew how to play goalie.

So 9-year-old Leopold Hylton was tapped to play in the net, and let’s just say the first period went as you’d expect. Leopold gave up seven goals, and was having trouble moving with his pads on, holding his stick properly, all of it.

At the end of the first period, though, something remarkable happened: Bulldogs goalie Kaiden Whaley skated down to the other end, and gave his opponent a quick 5-minute lesson on playing the position.

One kid helping another, that’s all. Such a little moment. But such a big moment. Leopold only gave up three more goals over the next two periods. Kaiden Whaley must be a pretty good coach.

Said Leopold’s Mom, Anna: “Gratefulness. I feel so grateful for the beauty of that moment,” she said. And by the end of the game, all the other moms and all the dads were right there with her, cheering every one of Leopold’s saves.

“Leopold felt beautifully at the end of that game,” she said. “It was a moment that makes it all worth it.”

Thoughts from a 13-year-old’s bat mitzvah: I felt very old and very young. And a crazy NFL Sunday where it’s again proven that God hates Philly fans. And the Browns. And football in snow, rules.

As a 42-year-old balding husband and father to two young sons, I don’t go to a whole lot of bar and bat mitzvahs these days.

Shocking, right? In 1988 and ’89 that was ALL I did on weekends, and hey, looking like I did then (check out the photo at the bottom left of this page), who wouldn’t have wanted me to party with them?

Anyway, while my “Coke and Pepsi game” playing at fancy Jewish rites of passage are mostly over, I’m now old enough to see the new generation get to have a great bash. Saturday night the daughter of my first cousin, a terrific, smart and kind girl named Ava, got bat mitzvahed, and I was thrilled to be a part of it (that’s the happy family up above). As always, lots of thoughts scattered into and out of my brain, that I know feel obligated to share with you.

— OK, let’s get the fuddy-duddy stuff out of the way first: Man, I could NOT believe how my cousin’s female friends dressed. I mean, these girls had dresses that barely covered their tuchus, and had more bling on than a Pitbull or Meek Mill. I was horrified, and then quickly pleased that as much as I wanted to have a daughter one day, I’m a little relieved that I’ve got two boys and I’ll never have to shout “You are NOT wearing THAT out of this house, young lady!”

— OK the rest is all positive. It really was a terrific and fun evening, planned by Ava’s parents, my super fantastic cousin Robin and her husband Guy. The restaurant where it was held was great, the DJ company was among the best I’ve ever heard (I’m old school in that I always prefer bands at big events, but this company, ESP Productions, was sensational), and the food was terrific. And hey, being seated at a table with people I knew (my sister and first cousins) and meeting others I hadn’t seen in years is always a good time.

–So one of the things that always killed me about bar and bat mitzvahs was how awkward the boy-girl interactions are. You’re 13, you’re all dressed up in fancy clothes, you really like that girl over there in the red dress but she never talks to you at school but hey this is different now and you’ve had three Shirley Temples and dammit, you’re gonna go talk to her! (OK maybe that was just me).

But I have to say, it really seemed like all the kids at this party were just having fun, and totally relaxed, and there wasn’t that strangeness I remembered.  Good to see.

— So of course I had no clue what most of the music was, nor who sang it, but I have to hand it to ESP for a stroke of genius: Around 10:40 p.m. or so, the party seemed to be winding down, the kids were all tired or off doing something else, and that’s when the DJ’s decided to kick it old-school for us “old folks.” They invited everyone up to the dance floor and hit us with some Bon Jovi, AC/DC, and Cyndi Lauper. For 20 minutes or so, it was mostly us 40 and over fogies going nuts to the songs we loved. That may have been me up on a stage doing my best Angus Young guitar solo.

And I was awfully proud to see a bunch of Ava’s friends belting out “Livin’ On a Prayer.” Good parenting, those kids are getting!

— Yes, I must admit, I did spend a few seconds looking at all my cousin’s friends and thinking, “They are all 13 year old girls. And that scumbag Roy Moore in Alabama had a sexual encounter with a girl just one year older than them. When he was 32. Absolutely disgusting.

— Finally, my cousins happily obeyed the No.1, iron-clad rule of a good cocktail hour: Pigs in blankets passed around as hors d’ouerves. Absolutely never fails to get people happy.

**So while I’m not alone in thinking much of this NFL season has been underwhelming, filled with injuries to star players and mind-numbingly boring games, Sunday’s action was pretty sensational. Unless you’re a Jets fan like me (hey, feeling good was nice while it lasted), or a Browns fan (they had a 21-7 lead and somehow still lost because, you know, they’re the Browns).

— And then there are Eagles fans, who are in their own special Hell this morning. In the midst of an amazing, glorious, spectacular season, and during a thrilling win over the L.A. Rams Sunday, saw their star quarterback Carson Wentz get seriously hurt. He’s likely out for the year, they’re probably not going to make the Super Bowl, and life sucks sometimes when your favorite team’s season gets short-circuited so fast.

— Antonio Brown is really, really good at football. The Steelers won another thrilled Sunday night, Brown had more than 200 yards receiving again, and the dude really seems unstoppable. Hey opposing defenses, just a thought: Maybe put two defenders on him?

— How wild was that scene in Buffalo? Huge snowstorm hit this weekend, and the Bills and Colts sorta played a football game Sunday in many, many feet of snow. The pic above was my favorite, but you gotta see these amazing shots from the Buffalo News. Just wild.

I love that we get at least one fantastic snow game a year in the NFL. How those fans could sit there for hours in those conditions… some people are just nuts.

Good News Friday: The Oklahoma City Thunder do their annual shopping spree for kids and it’s awesome. A stranger finds a library book on a plane and mails it back with a note. And a photographer turns kids with disabilities into superheroes

And a Happy Friday to all of you out there doing all of your Hanukkah shopping this weekend (menorahs will be half-price by the end of next week!) or your Christmas shopping. Me, I’m super-duper excited to be going to the New York Botanical Garden’s holiday train show this Sunday; we went last year and it was freaking fantastic. Can’t wait to see this year’s gorgeous designs.

But first, some good news to hopefully give you a smile. First up, I am pretty sure I feature at least one NBA team doing this every year, because it’s always a really cool thing. This week the Oklahoma City Thunder did their annual holiday shopping spree at Target, in conjunction with a local organization called Grandparents Raising Grandchildren.

The looks on the children’s faces are, of course, the best part, including the girl who just about lost it and was speechless when Russell Westbrook walked over to her and said he’d be her “personal shopper.”

Really great stuff here, check out this short video of the event below.

**Next up today, this is a little thing but little acts of kindness are what makes the world go ’round. Saw this on Upworthy.com: A stranger was sitting on an airplane and found a library book, “How to Eat Fried Worms” (a classic adolescent book, I loved it way back when). Most people probably would’ve taken the book home, or turned it in when getting off the plane.

But this individual mailed it back to the Meridian, Idaho library. With a note explaining what happened, and with $5.00. Because it was going to be late.

Seriously. The person paid the late fees, and even apologized for sending this found book back, late.

“Please add this $5.00 to the person’s account that borrowed the book,” the note read.

“Coming back from the holidays, it just made us all feel so good to know that there are still good people out there, and that people are inherently good,”said Camille Hampton, Meridian Library District assistant manager.

Abso-freaking-lutely, Camille.

**Finally today, all hail a photographer named Josh Rossi and his wife. They decided to make children with disabilities and/or illnesses feel like superheroes, at least for one day. Check out this amazing photo shoot Rossi did last summer with children who have struggled through so much, but for a short time got to feel like the unstoppable, heroic and courageous people we all wish we could be.

This whole thing is great, but the boy’s face at the 1:01 mark… just amazing.

 

A hilarious podcast explains husband and wife fighting the best. Kelly Clarkson kicks butt on carpool karaoke. And SI makes great choices for SportsPersons of the Year

I wrote a post a few months ago about the slow, sad decline of Sports Illustrated, but even as the magazine’s cultural relevance has slipped, I think millions of us still look forward to the Sportsman of the Year award being given out each December.

Sometimes SI makes the perfect, obvious choice (Michael Phelps in 2008, LeBron James in 2016) and other times, their choice is puzzling (Dwyane Wade in 2006? Really?)

This year there didn’t seem to be a ton of great choices; I’m kind of surprised they have never named Bill Belichick, who is quite worthy, and Steph Curry nor, ahem, Roger Federer have ever won the honor and are both ridiculously overdue to win.

But happily, SI made an inspired choice in 2017 looking at achievement on and off the field, and chose two athletes from the same city which had the highest of highs and lowest of lows, all within two months.

Jose Altuve, the tiny Astros superstar who led his team to the World Series title, and J.J. Watt, the mammoth Houston Texans defensive player who raised an incredible $37 million for Hurricane Harvey relief for his city.

The cover photo is hilarious (obviously Watt is standing while Altuve sits) and the stories are, of course, great as well. What Watt did in raising so much money blows away anything he’ll ever accomplish on the field, and it was great to see SI recognize that.

 

**Next up today, Kelly Clarkson has had one hell of a career, since first being discovered en route to winning the first season of “American Idol.” Have always admired her voice and her humility, and so when she did “Carpool Karaoke” with James Corden recently, I had a feeling it’d be great.

And it was. Especially when her husband, a violin, and some champagne get involved toward the end. Loved this…

**Finally today, I love stumbling across something that makes me laugh so hard I literally can’t catch my breath. My friend Catherine posted this on Facebook Tuesday and I couldn’t stop chuckling; it’s from a podcast called “What Fresh Hell,” created by two excellent friends named Amy Wilson and Margaret Ables, and it’s about the “slight” differences between a wife being mad at her husband and fighting, versus a husband getting mad at his wife and fighting. Here’s a snippet of it, but you really need to read the whole thing, and the ending slays me.

DAVID: Hi sweetheart! How was your day?

ME: MY DAY??? MY DAY WAS NOT VERY GOOD!!!

DAVID: Uh-Oh.

ME: Uh-Oh? What is that supposed to mean?

DAVID: I’m trying to express my concern. Because I can tell you are upset.

ME: I AM UPSET!

DAVID: (slightly hopeful) At who?

ME: AT YOU!!!!

DAVID: Uh-oh.

[PAUSE]

DAVID: I’m sorry, I didn’t mean uh-oh. I meant please go ahead.

ME: There was a bag of chocolate chip cookies above the fridge.

DAVID: Uh-oh.

ME: Did you eat them all last night after I fell asleep?

DAVID: Yes. Yes I did.

ME: DAVID!!! The kids wouldn’t leave the playground and so I had to bribe them by promising them cookies! Then on the way home there was bad traffic so I kept saying, “Just a few more minutes until cookies….just a few more minutes until cookies,” and then we got all the way here and all I had to offer them was AN EMPTY COOKIE BAG!

DAVID: Uh-oh.

ME: I mean I promised the kids cookies all the way home if they would just stop screaming, and then we finally got home THERE WERE NO COOKIES!!!

DAVID: Wow, I get that and I am really, really sorry.

ME: And look! Here! At the list where we add things when we run out of them! You didn’t even add “Cookies”!

DAVID: I’m very sorry.

ME: I’m not kidding! The kids were crying for like forty-five minutes!

DAVID: I’m really, really sorry.

ME: Stop saying “I’m sorry” over and over!

DAVID: But I thought you told me last time we were fighting that if I just apologized sincerely it would make everything better.

ME: Well, it won’t!

DAVID: Oh. Would it help if I went to the store and got more cookies?

ME: This is about so much more than cookies! Don’t you understand?

DAVID: Yes?

ME: Don’t say yes if you don’t really understand.

DAVID: Wow. I have no idea what to say right now.

Another insane political weekend, with Trump implicating himself in a crime and a horrendous tax bill passed. You can’t stop Josh McCown, or those New York Jets! And the opossum that drank a bottle of bourbon (sure).

This was something we all talked about after last November’s election: Don’t normalize this. Don’t get numb to it. The Presidency of Donald Trump will be a real thing, rolling on day after day, and there will be so many things happen that had never happened before, so many things a U.S. President would never, ever say or do that now occur on the regular. Don’t give in. Don’t ever forget that this is NOT normal.

I was thinking about that this weekend, after two pretty amazing and horrible things occurred in our federal government. First, a party that claims to be fiscally responsible, wants to cut the national debt, and pretended to be outraged at how Democrats ran things when they were in charge of the Senate decided to firewagon an enormous 479-page tax reform bill through the Senate in a matter of days, without any kind of tax score, time for hearings, question or opposing thoughts. They completely lied about it being a “middle class tax cut,” when in reality it will benefit wealthy people and corporations enormously.

They literally were writing changes to the bill in pen and handing out those copies Friday night, forcing a vote before anyone had a chance to read it. And then, despite all of the rushing and lying and the alleged “opposition” to how Trump and the GOP Senate do things from people like John McCain and Jeff Flake (frauds, both of them), managed to pass this monstrosity of a bill at around 2 a.m. Saturday

It is disgraceful and disgusting, but it is what happens now. Then, because you can always count on our President to do something stupid, he announced on Twitter that he had committed the crime of obstruction of justice.

“I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI,” Trump wrote in a tweet.

In other words, when Trump asked then-FBI Director James Comey to go easy on Flynn, Trump already knew Flynn had lied to the FBI. So when Comey refused to go easy on Flynn, Trump fired Comey. That is textbook obstruction of justice.

Robert Mueller, I believe your case has been made much easier thanks to the madman moron who just can’t stop Tweeting.

Portrait Of Opossum On Field By Rock

**Next up today, I have been quite derelict in posting bizarre news stories on the blog of late, so let me try to rectify that right now. This one is a beaut: The lede from an AP story in Fort Walton Beach, Fla.:

“An opossum that apparently drank bourbon after breaking into a Florida liquor store sobered up at a wildlife rescue center and was released unharmed.

Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge officials say the opossum was brought in by a Fort Walton Beach, Florida, police officer on Nov. 24. A liquor store employee found the animal next to a broken and empty bottle of bourbon.

“A worker there found the opossum up on a shelf next to a cracked open bottle of liquor with nothing in it,” said Michelle Pettis, a technician at the refuge. “She definitely wasn’t fully acting normal.”

OK, I have SO many questions here! First, the opossum “broke into” the liquor store implies that he/she/it, like, picked a lock and disabled an alarm or snuck in through a window ledge. How do we know the opossum committed a crime? Maybe the animal just ambled in behind a few customers and no one noticed, why they gotta already criminalize the opossum?

Second, just because Otto Opossum was next to an empty bottle of bourbon doesn’t necessarily mean he drank it, right? I mean, couldn’t the opossum have been framed by a rival, like a bunny or a mouse? Where’s the hard evidence, dammit!

And finally, look, OK, it’s not easy being an opossum. Nobody gives you any respect, nobody knows if you’re spelled “opossum” or “possum” and the career opportunities just aren’t there like they are for squirrels or chipmunks. You ever seen an opossum in a bear commercial? Me either.

So if the opossum needed some bourbon to get through the day, who’s business is it, huh? I say leave the little bugger alone.

This story is priceless. My favorite line: “Pettis says the opossum did not appear to have a hangover.”

Whew.

**Finally today, if you told me that on Dec. 3 of this year, the New York freaking Jets would still be appearing in those NFL playoff scenarios on national broadcasts, I’d have tell you to go get drunk with an opossum. But damn the torpedoes and pass the liquor, my favorite tortured football team is still alive, dammit. After a stunning 38-31 win over the Kansas City Chiefs, the Jets are 5-7, which is at least three wins better than I thought they’d be for the whole season.

Josh McCown (Josh McCown!) the 38-year-0ld quarterback, threw for 366 yards on Sunday, the Chiefs defense did all it could to help Gang Green, and the awful Jets D finally made a stop at the end of the game.

Look, the Jets aren’t any good but geez Louise, they’ve won FIVE games this year, which no one expected. Todd Bowles was a good candidate to get fired before the season began; now, dude should get Coach of the Year. What an unexpectedly interesting season the Jets have carved out.

Couple other quick-hit NFL thoughts from a pretty entertaining Sunday:

— The Jacksonville Jaguars are 8-4 and going to the playoffs. Yeah, I don’t believe it either.

— There are so, so many bad quarterbacks playing right now. I was saying to my friend Sunday after the Jets’ win, that everyone knocks McCown, but you know what, he’s in the top half of NFL starting QBs right now! That’s how bad the QB situation is.

— How’d that QB switch work out, Giants? Asking for a friend.

— Not sure who the best team in the league is, but happily we know the Cleveland Browns are the worst. It is really, really hard to be this bad.

— Finally, hey Gronk, this was total, total bush league. This is why NFL players have mush for brains when they’re 50.

Good News Friday: Rae Carruth’s son turns 18, and continues to be a miracle. An amazing sunset photo made me drop my jaw. And a high school’s “anonymous pantry” takes the shame out of kids who need basics

And a Happy Friday and Happy December to all of you beautiful people out there. I’m sure you’re already sick of holiday music just like I am, so tune out “Jingle Bells” and dive into some good news, in a week which like all other ones lately, seems to desperately need some.

I’ve written before about the amazing life of Chancellor Lee Adams; Adams is the son of former NFL player Rae Carruth, who hired gunmen to kill his pregnant girlfriend in 1999. They succeeded, as Cherica Adams died, but despite massive blood loss and oxygen deprivation, Chancellor Lee survived.

And not just survived; thanks to an angel on Earth, Cherica’s Mom Saundra Adams, Chancellor has thrived and had as good a life as one could’ve ever hoped for given the circumstances.

On Nov. 16, a boy who was never supposed to live turned 18. Scott Fowler, the immensely gifted writer for the Charlotte Observer, talked to Saundra and Chancellor for this beautiful story here. 

And oh yeah, Rae Carruth gets out of prison in October, 2018. And his son plans to be there to see him.

The kicker of the story:

Says Adams: “My intention is only positive. … My intention is not that he will see Chancellor and come out with this great confession: ‘Oh, I’m so sorry I did this.’ Because I don’t expect that. I don’t expect that he will ever acknowledge his part in my daughter’s death.

“And I’m not looking for that. I don’t need that for forgiveness. I don’t need that for us to carry on our lives. I simply want him to see his son and see what a fine young man he has grown into. … And that he is not just surviving, but that he is indeed thriving.”

“Yeah!” Chancellor Lee says, looking at his grandmom. “Yeah!”

It’s an amazing, amazing story.

**Next up, this breathtaking photo of a sunset in Amalfi, Italy blew my mind this week. It was taken by Davide Anzimanni, and it’s just astonishing.

It’s always good to be reminded of how much beauty there is in the world; heaven knows we’re always reminded of the ugliness.

**And finally today, this is one of those stories about a wonderful idea that I wish wasn’t needed, but since it is, I’m glad it’s there.

The fantastic website Mental Floss.com brings us the story of a program at Washington High School in Washington, N.C. called the Anonymous Pantry. Since 2015, the school has tried to take the shame and embarrassment out of students asking for basic hygiene items like deodorant and toothpaste by creating the Anonymous Pantry.

Today, the pantry stocks food, clothing, and school supplies provided by local donors.Here’s how it works:

If students ever wish to use the closet, all they need to do is confide in a teacher, counselor, or administrator. They will then be taken by a staff member to one of the school’s pantries where they can shop in a private setting free from stigma. Because the program is anonymous, there are no flyers hung up advertising the pantry. Instead, the administration relies on word of mouth to spread the news.

Some high schools across the country have followed Washington’s lead in recent years. William Penn High School in New Castle, Delaware, and Northridge High School in Layton, Utah, are just a few of the institutions with similar programs.

Again, I wish this didn’t need to exist. But it’s so hard being a kid without some of the things other students have, and if this takes just a tiny bit of the difficulty away from that, it’s wonderful.

 

The end of an era in N.Y. sports, as Eli Manning is benched. A sensational documentary short about the Holocaust, and family. And this Washington Post/O’Keefe scam is nuts, and pathetic

There are some days where something seismic happens in New York sports, and you kind of have to pay attention if you live here.

Wednesday was one of the days. Things were going along normally, no big whoop, and then all of a sudden around 4 p.m., an era ended.

Eli Manning, brother of Peyton, son of Olivia, Archie and the city of New York, was benched. The man who won two Super Bowls for the Giants, whose completely-expressionless face appears on billboards and signs throughout the tri-state area (seriously, you can’t get away from the guy, even my Mom knows what he looks like), was benched after an incredible 210 straight starts at quarterback.

This has been coming for a while, even if Giants fans don’t admit it. Peyton’s bro hasn’t been good for a few years now, creating more turnovers than an excited baker on their first day, and the Giants are terrible this year. It makes sense to want to see younger quarterbacks on the roster play, even if one of them is the horrendous Geno Smith (every Jets fan is laughing right now).

But the way the Giants handled this today, just really poor. The head coach, Ben McAdoo, was awful and awkward in explaining the decision, basically saying it was Eli’s choice, and they threw Manning to the interview wolves while he fought back tears.

This is probably the end for Eli in N.Y., and he’s had such a strange career. Many of his seasons were terrible, and he made you wonder just what he was doing. But he had two amazing, transcendent years in 2007 and 2011 and led the Giants to two improbable Super Bowl titles, and that’s usually enough to get someone into the Hall of Fame, and a lifetime pass to go out on their own terms.

I was talking about Eli with my man Jeff Pearlman after the news broke, and we couldn’t decide if Eli was a Hall of Famer or not. Your gut reaction says yes because of the postseason success, but his overall stats   aren’t all that great.

Still, he is an icon, a model of durability who, like the last N.Y. athletic icon to retire, Derek Jeter, managed to live an entire career in the spotlight and barely make a misstep.

I’m no Giants fan, of course, but you can’t help but admire Eli for composing himself with class and humility his whole career. He deserved to go out better than this.

**Next up today, another in a sensational series of short New York Times documentaries caught my eye Tuesday. This one is incredibly beautiful and powerful, about a 92-year-old woman named Klara, escaping Auschwitz, and family. Some amazing storytelling here.

Never forget.

**Finally today, I’m not sure what I can say that would be more shocking to you about this expose the Washington Post newspaper did today, about a fake source trying desperately to get the Post to report that she was raped by Roy Moore at 15, hoping that they’d report it, she could tell them it was all a scam, and therefore make everyone in Alabama convinced that all the women accusing pedophile Senate candidate Roy Moore of assault are lying.

Or, as ABC News’ Jake Tapper Tweeted Tuesday, rather succinctly:
“To reiterate: James O’Keefe hired a woman to pretend she had been sexually abused in an attempt to undermine actual victims of sexual assault and child molestation.”

The details of this story are horrifying, and amazing, and … I really don’t know what to say. Except: James O’Keefe, you’re going to a very, very warm place down below when you die, sir. And you deserve nothing less.

A TV reporter is fed up with Black Friday and he’s not afraid to tell you. 3 on 5 in college basketball was awesome, and the 3 almost won. And a touching response to a volleyball team winning a title

Happy Monday and I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving; apologies for there being no blog on Friday, I had lots of stuff to write about but the new Lewis wouldn’t sleep until 2:30 a.m. Thursday night and, well, he kinda takes precedence at the moment. This kid is going to be a rock and roll singer or an overnight shift dude; he loves to stay up late.

Anyway, had a great four-day weekend with all the family and friends, and as I do every year, I avoided Black Friday like it was an algebra exam. Such a ridiculous, overrated event, and I feel bad for any poor sap in my former profession who had to cover it. Can’t be fun.

If you don’t believe me, may I introduce Joshua Short of News Center 16 in South Bend, Ind. My man Josh woke up at 3 a.m. to go cover the long lines at the local mall, and, well, he didn’t quite get what he expected.

The beauty of live television… this is awesome. I hope Josh still has a job today.

**Next up today, I rarely write about college basketball this early in the season (though I am ridiculously excited about the potential of my beloved Duke team this year, Marvin Bagley III I think I love you) but something happened Saturday that was kind of awesome and amazing. A ho-hum game between Minnesota and Alabama here in Brooklyn’s Barclays Center turned crazy. After a wild brawl in the second half saw everyone on the Crimson Tide’s bench get ejected for leaving the bench during a fight, and after injuries and guys fouling out further depleted their roster, Alabama played the final minutes of the game with three players.

Against five from the Golden Gophers. Yep, 3-on-5, one fewer than Norman Dale tried with the Hickory Huskers in Hoosiers. So many nuts things about this game, but just two to point out. First, Alabama nearly WON the game, losing by only 5, 89-84.

Second, this video of Alabama star Collin Sexton at the foul line, high-fiving imaginary teammates because, well, he’s used to them being there and dammit he’s not going to change his routine, slayed me every time I watched it.

**Finally today, big hat tip to my e-migo and fabulous friend of the blog Matthew Laurance (yes, the same dude who played David Silver’s dad on “Beverly Hills, 90210”) who pointed me toward this clip. I don’t say many nice things about the University of Kentucky or their fans in this space, because their men’s basketball team (and fan base) drives me crazy.

But their passion for all the Wildcats teams is honorable, and this clip was fabulous. It’s routine for fans to greet football and basketball teams that have just won a title at the airport to welcome them home. It’s very, very FAR from routine to see this happen for a college volleyball team. But this is what Kentucky fans did last week for their returning women’s volleyball squad, which just won a conference title.

The surprise and delight on the player’s faces, with a highlight being one woman saying “I’m crying!” to a teammate (at the :24 mark), is beautiful to see.

Great job, Kentucky fans. And that is certainly a phrase never typed by me in eight years of doing this blog.

Can we still admire the work of a person accused of sexual assault? Pink gives a fantastic performance at AMA’s. And my annual tribute to “Cheers” Thanksgiving episode

When I was first starting out in journalism, and I was trying to learn to become a better interviewer, I watched Charlie Rose a lot.

He was on late at night (which fit my nocturnal sportswriter hours), and I remember admiring how well he would frame questions to his subjects, how he would draw out revealing answers, and how his interviews always felt more like conversations than interviews.

I remember ordering a VHS copy of his 1999 interview with Dustin Hoffman right after the Columbine school massacre. The show was one of the most sensational things I’ve ever seen (and thank God for  YouTube, that interview is right here)   and actually watching it and studying it for how Rose elicited such an emotional response from the actor. I followed and watched Rose for years, and greatly admired his skills as a TV personality.

All of this is to say that clearly I looked up to Rose, and now like millions of others I’m horrified to find out what a lecherous, inappropriate man he has been to many, many women over the years. And what I’m wrestling with, and what I’m sure many others are wrestling with, is a question that really has no easy answer: Can we still admire the work of individuals who in “real life” have proven to be so loathsome and disgusting?”

Call it the “Woody Allen” problem: If the person who made the art is despicable, can we still enjoy it? Can’t I still laugh at “Annie Hall” or “The Cosby Show” or a Jeffrey Tambor show like “Transparent” even if I know that a huge part of the show is a terrible person when the cameras are off?

I don’t pretend to know the answer, but for me, it’s yes. The art is different from the person who made it.

Sports fans have dealt with this problem for decades. Baltimore Ravens fans cheered Ray Lewis, who was involved in a double murder, to sack the quarterback. San Francisco Giants fans roared for Barry Bonds, steroid cheat. The list could go on and on.

And I think the same holds for entertainment. “Annie Hall” is no less a work of genius because Woody Allen is a severely flawed, possibly criminal, person. Bill Cosby will hopefully rot in hell, but “The Cosby Show” entertained millions and is still pretty damn funny.

Charlie Rose did horrible things, and damaged women. I hope he pays a huge price for his behavior (and it seems he has, as he’s been fired from both his PBS and CBS shows).

But I am still grateful that I learned to become a better journalist thanks to watching him. And I don’t think any of us who still enjoy the work of these disgraced men need to apologize for it.

***Next up today, you all know how much I worship and adore the amazing singer Pink, who is fierce and fabulous and puts on a hell of a show (we’ve seen her live twice already and are seeing her again next April on her next tour). She was at the American Music Awards on Sunday and sang a beautiful, haunting duet of R.E.M’s classic “Everybody Hurts” with Kelly Clarkson. But her even better performance was of her new song, “Beautiful Trauma,” while hanging off the side of a hotel in Vegas. Watch this, the woman is just incredible.

**Finally today, I don’t have too many traditions on this here little piece of the Internet, but one I’m happy to continue each year is to share the “Cheers” Thanksgiving episode, one of the finest pieces of comedy ever recorded. It makes me laugh every time, and often at a different part: Today I took so much joy out of Ted Danson’s face after he’s shut down Diane’s little speech.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you out there, and I’m as always grateful you take the time to read Wide World of Stuff.